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Assassins of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/11/2015 02:38:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3/4 of a page SRD, leaving us with 12 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin this supplement with something I did not expect to see in here: A surprisingly well-crafted array of small introductions to assassin-traditions -from the Clockwork Society to the Rajuki Sancers and the Fire Splinters, the traditions provided deliver a captivating glimpse at the unique societies of Porphyra and should provide inspiration enough for a capable DM to further develop these tidbits into full-blown societies.



The Assassin as crafted here must be non-good, receives a good ref-save and 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, proficiency with crossbows, blowguns, daggers, darts, rapiers, short bows, saps, short swords and shields and receive a massive 8+ Int skills per level. They also receive sneak attack, progressing up to +10d6. Second level nets poison use and 3rd and every 3 levels thereafter increase the bonus thus granted by +1, up to a maximum of +6. Poison mastery is gained at 16th level.



Now very interesting would be quiet death - if an assassin kills a creature during the surprise round, he can make a Stealth check versus all relevant, present Perception-checks to prevent the other targets from noticing the kill. This ability, gained SOON, is pretty much one of the components that have been missing from the assassin-concept all along. Kudos! Death attack is gained at 4th level, with 12th level reducing the study-time down to 1 round, and 4th level also provides uncanny dodge, which thankfully scales with the ability gained from other classes; at 8th level, the improved version of the latter is gained.



8th level nets a pretty interesting option, namely lingering death, which does not prevent resurrection or the like - nope, it works and then kills the creature again - sans save. Yes, this is gleefully sadistic and yes, the ability has a means of being avoided. The class also receives a dual capstone - for once, souls slain must succeed a will-save to return; otherwise, a planar quest is required. Secondly, all sneak attacks become death attacks. Now, as you may have noticed, this chassis is pretty much a more streamlined version of the Prestige Archetype for the assassin - yes, you would be right, however, I have purposefully omitted the defining characteristic of this whole class: Assassin Secrets.



Essentially, these can be likened to a kind of bloodline-like tradition of killing styles. Each secret is associated with a modified list of class skills and provides a linear progression of thematically-fitting tricks, with arcane and divine spellcasting (magus/inqui-lists) of up to 4th level being the exception to this rule, as spellcasting's high flexibility obviously did not require more power in this regard. Assassin secrets are pretty much exactly what I wanted - a modular way to easily customize an assassin that puts player-agenda high on the priority list. Oh, and know what? They're pretty much awesome. Death Slayers? Can use death attacks and poisons versus undead, get ghost touch and can bypass DR and even immunities...oh, and the class can copy means of escape. Damn cool! Now you're probably familiar with the origin of the assassin-word, which may derive from Arabic Hashshashin - may? Yup, for, as any cultural scientist worth half his salt would tell you, the implied literal meaning of "hashish-consumers" may have been something ultimately brought about by a serious misunderstanding in translation - still, the imagery of Hassan-I-Sabbah's iconic order has become a staple in our collective consciousness and as such, the inclusion of assassins who not only use a drug, but derive some powerful means of coercion via its application. Yes, this can be considered the enchantment-style assassin.



Would you prefer something more far-out? What about the dusk assassins, trained in the shadow of Morah'Silvanath, looking to finally take down the great tree and reclaim their holdings? What's odd about them? They acquire a symbiotic fungus (!!) and can breathe spores. Oh, and they can eat poison to make the spores poisonous. This is awesome imagery right here and had me grinning from ear to ear. Prefer psychos who make a spectacle out of killing? Covered. Elemental assassins? Covered. Glass (!!!)-using assassins? Yup, in here. Soul-binding, anti-resurrection assassin (akin to the vanilla PA: Assassin)? Yup, here. Shadow-stepping master of stealth, including shadow pool and silent images - covered. Prefer rogue talents for a more diverse skill-set? Possible. Two feats allow you to make glass as durable as the materials it mimics (which is a damn cool flavor-feat) and to wilder among other secrets - HOWEVER, not in spellcasting. This feat in itself is a beauty in its perfect alignment of prereq skills and level-relevant secret gained - very elegant and smooth scaling.



The pdf comes with favored class options for the core-races - but does not stop here. We also receive new skill-uses, some of which have been a staple in my game for years: Salvaging poison from creatures via concise and well-written rules? Yes. Crafting glass-weapons? Nice. Using Heal to torture? Nasty - and makes sense. Finally, hiding spellcasting via Sleight of Hand is an interesting option, with concise mechanics, yes, but I have ran with a similar solution for quite a while and since skills scale pretty easily, I think the DC is too low; personally, I have added a concentration-check to stealthy spellcasting. I'm torn on this one - it may work perfectly for you, or it may end up utterly OP when combined with invisibility et al. - so be aware of this option's significant impact on your campaign.



The pdf closes with a level 1 sample character, whose statblock is missing the class + level-line.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are very good - I noticed nothing beyond the nitpick level on both formal and rules-language levels. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Okay, let me ramble a bit: My last main-campaign spanned 7 years and utilized no less than 3 base classes and 5 different PrCs to depict different assassin-traditions. Against a backdrop of conflict between the two dominant religions of the setting, I wove a tapestry of shadow wars. I am pretty much familiar with a significant array of assassin-class builds and takes on the concept. If I had Carl Cramér's Porphyran Assassin back then, things would have been so much simpler: Just add more traditions and there you go! Highly modular, with ample options for customization, a solid framework and player-agenda high on the priority-list, this pdf constitutes the single best take on the concept I've read so far and will replace all those options in my home-game.

This is the best "...of Porphyra"-class book released so far and the, hands down, best design Carl Cramér has pulled off so far. This inexpensive pdf is simply fun and delivers ample awesomeness for a more than fair price and makes me hope for more chances for the author to tinker with concepts beyond prestige archetype-complexity. I absolutely adore this pdf and its iconic imagery - whether you want the odd, the fantastical or the gritty low-fantasy iteration of the assassin, this delivers. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - absolutely awesome and at the low price-point, a must-buy-category-pdf!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Assassins of Porphyra
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Puppets of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/03/2015 02:46:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



No, I'm not stumped that I'm reviewing a supplement on puppets. I've reviewed a base-class of this theme in the past. So let's take a look at the beginning - the pdf starts with a definition of puppetry as a sub-category of Perform, which fittingly also covers using the shadow puppeteer wayang bard archetype and the interaction with this one's class abilities.



Next up would be the new 10-level puppeteer PrC. Said class receives 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, 6+Int skills per level and 1/2 ref-and will-save progression as well as 7/10 spellcasting-progression. The PrC does not receive any proficiencies, but it does add its level to the duration of any enchantment spells cast - which is interesting, seeing how long some enchantments last in the first place; we're talking about hours and days. So, where things become interesting would be with the modification of summon monster - the spell conjures forth an elemental spirit to animate a previously constructed puppet. Now if animated objects seem tougher than regular summons, that would be true -and is balanced via costs to create the bodies to be inhabited by the spirits.



The PrC thus can be considered an enchantment/minion-specialist who also receives craft construct and a powerful capstone that allows his puppets to defeat even fearsome foes, bypassing DR and increasing the threat-range. Next up would be the new magic items - and oh boy, are they delightfully bonkers!



While the first one is pretty conservative, being a beguiling gift spell-in-a-can, it also provides for a discount when shopping. Now concept-wise, the puppets are a DELIGHT. I mean it - they are awesome - from synergy with bardic performances to thoroughly unique abilities, these puppets can be considered inspired in all the right ways - I've been smiling like the Cheshire cat while reading these. Then, I began analyzing and the sighing began. What do I mean by this? Take the "Giant's Fearsome Duo:" When donning these odd puppets (What action? One for each of the two puppets?) 1/day, the user is affected by enlarge person. Furthermore, the following happens: "The mawgriff-head becomes a fearsome beast’s head attached to the user’s arm, gaining reach and allowing a bite attack with a +7 attack bonus, doing 1d8+5 damage, attacking once per round. Out of combat, the mawgriff-head grants the user the scent ability, used with a +9 Perception score."



So, does the head replace the arm? If so, does the attack count as primary or secondary? What happens to objects held in the hand affected? If not, is it autonomous? If so, can the user deliver touch spells via the mawgriff head and respective class abilities? Is the +7 attack bonus autonomous from the user? Can the user determine which target the head attacks? If the head grants the scent ability, why does it have a fixed Perception check listed? The user would modify usually his/her/its own Perception skill by adding scent... Now to give you an inkling of my pain here, remember that this is HALF of the magic item. And yes, there are more solid examples herein, but I just sat in front of my screen with a frowny face and thought "Why?" I honestly don't get how such awesome visuals and concepts can be hampered by such a lackluster execution. And yes, mentions of bardic "distraction checks" - which do not exist, btw., can also be found.



The bard can make performance checks to use the Distraction ability, but there is no such thing as a distraction check. At the same time, capability is not the issue - we have e.g. means of using Punch and Judy dolls to use rounds of bardic performance to deliver attacks at close range versus targets as though they were flat-footed - talk about imaginative crunch and cool imagery! Cursed puppets that try to murder their owners are also interesting, though I do not get how they can automatically deal damage when they obviously ought to attack the wielder. We also receive a new artifact and 4 cool construction point-options for animated objects alongside 3 flaws for further customization options. Manipulating unconscious, paralyzed or sleeping humanoids or creating an unhittable vermin make for rather cool (and potentially hilariously annoying!) spells. We also receive 4 sample puppets (including variants!) as well as a sample character utilizing the PrC.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay- in some instances, I do think that the minor glitches can render the rules syntax more opaque than it ought to be. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports some gorgeous full-color artworks - kudos!



Author Perry Fehr has a distinct style I absolutely ADORE - his prose and ideas are ridiculously awesome and fun and this pdf, being bonkers, allows him to perfectly use his talents to the full extent. I love this pdf, I really, really do - why? Because its crunch-decisions are brave and innovative - there is no single item I'd consider boring - even when the puppets provide a spell-in-a-can, they also have additional, unique benefits, often of a refreshingly unique, glorious bent.



So, as a person, I did adore this pdf, I really loved it.



As a reviewer, though, I ought to rip this a new one. As much as I want to rate this 5 stars + seal of approval, the rules-language just does not allow for it. While the builds, PrC etc. are pretty solid, there are so many, let's call them by their name, blunders. This pdf at once showcases that proper rules-language is not beyond the capacities of the author and how superb ideas can be tarnished by an execution that simply is not as concise, as good as it should be.



Now personally, I can easily salvage everything herein and my game is better off for this - as mentioned, I adore just about everything herein. At the same time, I can see this making issues galore for less rules-savvy groups and loathe the at times sloppy execution of concepts that deserve refinement. If you are willing to work with this pdf, then GET it - it is a delightfully bonkers, high-concept book. For you, this very much may be a 5 star + seal of approval file. If you, however, expect water-tight rules-language or shirk away from refining rules to make content work, then steer clear of this. My final verdict, as much as I hate to do it, will clock in at 3 stars since I have to take the issues into account.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Puppets of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: Mammoth Lords
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2015 04:02:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



So this time around we get double the dose of Prestige Archetypes, so let's take a look! Both mammoth lord and mammoth rider feature d10 as HD, full BAB-progression and good fort-saves. However, the differences still become readily apparent from the get-go: The mammoth lord uses the cavalier as chassis, the mammoth rider instead utilizes the ranger, which results in 4+Int skills per level and 6+Int skills per level, with the latter obviously also receiving good ref-saves. They also sport the same proficiencies with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields minus tower shields. As a minor nitpick that will not influence the final verdict - somewhat of a pity to see no support/upgrade of the primitive weapon group.



But let's start with the mammoth lord: At 1st and 6th level, we may choose from a short list of survival-themed bonus feats and obviously, 1st level challenge (usable +1/day every 3 levels). The steed, the signature creature of the PrC, gets full proper synergy with other classes and as a plus, it does cover a slightly enhanced list, also sporting the mawgriff among the eligible mounts. On the nitpicky side, the ability as such does not specify explicitly that this class feature functions as animal companion, though, admittedly, the pdf makes the intent as abundantly clear as possible without explicitly stating.



Mammoth lords also receive wild empathy and may use it to demoralize animals and magical beasts. Mammoth lords add Str-mod to said checks and also add this to the DC required to intimidate them. I do btw. enjoy the decision to move the "Mistrust of Magic" ability down to 3rd level. Expert trainer is gained at 4th level and combined might, what amounts to the PRC's signature combat trick, has been moved down to 5th level. 8th level sees the size-increase of the steed to huge size, which, on a nitpicky side, should mention that it's Huge (long), not Huge (tall) - but then again, this is me being OCD about this kind of stuff and the text does specify without chance of being mistaken reach et al., the intent is clear, though I still would have liked the direct specification, especially since higher levels sport a further reach-upgrade. Higher levels provide fast mount/dismount-options and the pulverizing assault ability thankfully remains in the higher levels. The capstone of the PrC also features as the PA-capstone and scaling over the levels is pretty organically dispersed - here, this is definitely what should be considered the most impressive component regarding balancing.



The Mammoth Rider, as the ranger-based build, gets full favored enemy progression and begins play with track and the demoralize-upgraded aforementioned wild empathy. Unsurprisingly, 2nd level and every 4 thereafter see combat style progression, including e.g. finesse and natural weapons styles and the survivor-themed bonus feat-list has been moved to 3rd and 7th level. Mount-size-increase to huge is also at 8th level here and at the same level, we get swift tracking. On level later, mistrust of magic is gained and colossus hunter, an ability the mammoth lord does not get, is gained, increasing its potency at 16th level - combined with favored enemy, that can net some solid bonuses! Now while 11th level nets quarry, combined might is relegated to 17th level for the mammoth rider, with the high-level abilities having a similar dispersal as the mammoth lord's.



The favored class options provided for base races and Ith'n Ya'roo are solid in both instances - where those of the mammoth lord focus on steed improvement, the mammoth rider's FCO focus well on the more skill monkey-ish style of the class. We get sample NPC-builds for both classes at level 1, 5, 10 and 15 and the mammoth lord gets a new magical lance. As a cool courtesy, we thankfully also receive full stats for the respective mounts.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover. On the formal level, I know this is probably going to elicit some groans, but I noticed that the text does once switch between declaring the characters as male and female, using "She" and "his" in the same sentence, when the pdf otherwise remains concise regarding the convention of using the iconic's gender and sticking to it. No, this is not a bad glitch.



Carl Cramér is slowly but surely hitting his stride - the base mammoth lord PrC is abyssmal in my opinion - cool in concept, but unfocused and bland in its execution. These two WPA, in contrast, not only provide a tighter focus for each build, they also put player agenda and choices much higher on the list than the base PrC did. And yes, I really, really like this installment for it. The cavalier-based build in particular is JUST what the doctor ordered when you want a way to mechanically represent the huge-creature-rider that smashes with high velocity through the ranks of his foes. - combined strength, cavalier charges and challenge combine to deliver truly devastating offensive capacities. What's also pretty impressive about these two WPAs would be the fact that they play rather radically different - which is interesting, considering how much overlap between them exists.

So yes, this is one of the good installments in the series - one bordering on the great even - but at the same time, I sincerely wished there were none of minor ambiguities, which, while not rendering the rules opaque, still exist. If you need an analogue, imagine you were a teacher and read this as a great assignment with a bunch of minor punctuation glitches and the like (no, in this way the pdf is pretty fine!) - though you love it and consider it a task well done, you can't rate is as highly as you'd want to. This is how I feel here - I enjoy this installment and it's only the accumulation of minor hiccups that slightly tarnish this - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: Mammoth Lords
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Low Templar
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2015 10:31:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



The Low Templar receives full BAB-progression, d10, good fort- and ref-saves, 4+Int skills per level (with an extensive class skill-list) and proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armors and shields, including tower shields. The low templar receives a limited selection of favored enemies and adds further choices at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.



At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the low templar receives sneak attack progression and 3rd and 8th level see armor training (medium) and (heavy), respectively. Also at 8th level, we get swift tracker, while 9th nets evasion. 4th level nets hunter’s bond (with the favored enemy granting or animal companion at character level-3 as choices) and the flag of convenience ability not only nets bonuses to illicit skills (disguise etc.), but also offsets leadership penalties for certain problematic behaviors. 7th level low templars may forego sneak attack or critical bonus damage to roll on a d6-table to inflict save-less temporary negative conditions, with duration being enhanced by higher crit multipliers. At 10th level, low templars choose light or darkness and may ignore partially the components of the respective chosen alignments. Better withdrawing, using Stealth in areas with limited cover, quarry, following killing blows with attacks as a swift action…interesting.



Improved evasion, attacks on retreats and better saves versus charms and compulsions for allies as well as improved quarry can be found among the high-level abilities of the low templar. At 19th level, the low templar receives a planar cohort and may mask the second component of his alignment. The capstone is the nice instakill/insta-subdue-shot the lantern bearer also had.



We also receive solid FCOs for the core-races and a sample NPC at levels 1, 5, 10 and 15. Since in Porphyra, races are balanced slightly differently, we also receive two bonus (racial) traits for humans – solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Low Templar is a pretty smooth example of what this series should be all about – the Low Templar PrC feels unfocused and all over the place and while this partially extends to this class, it feels so much more concise, so much more WHOLE than its base PrC. The Low Templar feels like pretty much the conflicted, pragmatic veteran between light and darkness it wants to be. The breadth of abilities helps the survivor-aspect of the class, while still providing a bunch of cool narrative-centric options. There is, quite honestly, nothing I could complain about with these guys, at least nothing that would be fair to the design-intent of the product line. Whether as disenfranchised crusader or as pragmatic, rogue knight – the low templar as presented herein makes sense and is fun – and it will be used in my campaign. Nothing to complain, a highlight of the series – humble, cool and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Low Templar
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Animated Skulls
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2015 17:54:16
Purple Duck Storeroom: Animated Skulls provides a variety of useful and interesting options for those GM’s that wish to incorporate animated skulls in their campaign. It is well worth taking a look at if you would like to amuse or annoy your players with an animated skull (or two or a dozen).

Purple Duck Storeroom: Animated Skulls is a short work on animated skulls (naturally) for use in the Pathfinder game. Light on art but packed full of useful random tables to quickly generate, or just inspire ideas, for animated skulls in your campaign.

It is a very modular work with random tables to provide how an animated skull was created, how it is encounter, appearance, abilities and more. Several basic “skull types” are provided to be used and modified but the other tables and one completely generated (and statted out) skull is provided as an example. All very useful and filled with solid inspirations for a GM.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Animated Skulls
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Encounter Pages III [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2015 10:01:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Encounter Pages-series has somehow fallen through the virtual cracks of my HD - so let's finally get this review started! The pdf clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC (including CRs for the encounters), 2 pages fo SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We've all been there - we haven't had time to prepare a module; the shopping trip has become a grind; a wilderness trek has become boring. We know the feeling, when the general mood at the table tilts away from "this is awesome" to "tired/bored" - the easiest way to reassert focus, most of the time, is just sprinkling an encounter in. So this is what this supplement provides.



The encounters themselves do sport a rather interesting set-up - beyond their title, they sport the total EL and XP gained, the environment in which they take place and then go on to describe the general situation, the hook of the encounter, if you will. Beyond the basic hook, each of the encounters sport one or more complications - take e.g. an assault by debt collectors: Complication-wise, the encounter can be modified to sport unresponsive watchmen, downright corrupt ones and even smart lookouts - so yeah, there is some variety herein. The encounters themselves sport, obviously, the statblocks required to run them.



The complications either tend towards complexity or in some cases, represent escalations of how an encounter can be made more challenging. I generally do like these complications, but their execution is not always as refined as I would have liked some plug-and-play-encounters to be - while, for example, the former example of the debt collectors sports functional complications, the ones required for another encounter do require some work. I would have liked the pdf to do for the DM - as far as I've understood the premise, these encounters are intended pretty much as plug-n-play and any work a DM has to do diminishes from the chance of the encounter being used.



In a mine that has broken into the labyrinth of a minotaur, the PCs ought to clear out the dangerous foe. For one, we do not get DCs for Survival regarding the labyrinth, which is somewhat of a missed chance. The complications suggest introducing low CR-traps, but do not specify sample traps -a few lines with a unique one would have been nice here. Now no DM should be pressed hard to just select traps, granted, but still - having them available at one glance would have been nice. A similar point can be brought up regarding another complication, which suggests adding the half-fiend template to the minotaur. Now, once again, I can easily add the half-fiend template to a creature without even consulting the books; at this point, I've done it so often, reverse-engineered so many statblocks with it, that it has become literally no bother for me. At the same time, though, I think at least a micro-statblock with the relevant stats modified would have made the encounter more plug-n-playable, especially since e.g. pyromaniacs based on street thugs do just that. Perhaps provide one or two unique pieces of equipment along the way?



The encounters themselves, by necessity as non-specific as they are, do also sport treasures and suggested rewards that tie in nicely with the overall theme of each encounter - for yes, I think one can speak of themes here: Most encounters tell a short story that can be unearthed by clever PCs. When e.g. an undead flame spirit erupts from a source fire, the PCs can find a cursed staff of fire which proved to be the doom of said wanna-be-thief turned flaming monstrosity. Now handing in the cursed staff to its rightful owner not only yields a better reward, it can also be used to launch new adventures.

When the supplement provides such micro-choices in spite of the obvious limit in which it operates, I very much enjoy it, as it shows the promise of author Derek Blakely. Now while not every encounter reaches this level of coolness, there are stand-out ones herein - take Sardock the paladin, essentially shell-shocked veteran of too many bouts with the darkness, who has developed a Hydeian personality that is an antipaladin: The poor guy has had his magical therapy botched and now, it's up to the PCs to take down the antipaladin - alive, so the righteous man locked within his own body can be saved. I adore plots like that. Ambushes by demonic bar wenches, doppelgängers - yeah, there are some great concepts here as far as encounter-premises go. The statblock builds also sport some interesting choices, like e.g. a babau-possessed aasimar or a death knight that needs to be bested in 1-on-1 combat - at least if your DM is as sadistic as me and uses the complication. ;).



My favorite critter herein, though, would be a unique wood giant who can polymorph those touched into trees -one with faces that can still talk or cast verbal spells, but yeah. That guy is awesome and I really wished we got a whole module from this premise!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, I didn't notice any grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard and the pdf sports some neat pieces of full-color art. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Derek Blakely knows how to portray some cool set-ups in these encounters and the builds are also pretty solid. I did enjoy this supplement for the small stories told and the diversity of the challenges provided and hope to see more from Derek in the future - the talent is there! In fact, quite a few encounters herein do feel rather inspired - unique, even. At the same time, however, I do feel that this pdf is hampered by the format imposed on it:

The encounters, for one, feel sometimes like they could have used a page or more per encounter to shine - for example, to get back to the first example: The observing thug as a complication, who may report back and get the PCs into trouble - no Stealth DC, no Perception DC to spot. Some encounters could have used sample DCs for non-violent solutions/trains of thought.



And then here's the elephant in the room - the encounters sport no terrain peculiarities; no blazing storms, no obstacles, no ravines etc. A couple of years ago, that probably wouldn't even have caught my attention, but since Raging Swan Press's encounters tend to sport just that level of detail, a level of detail that makes them more memorable in set-up and rules-repercussions, I couldn't help but feel like this pdf did not realize the full potential that's here. A good encounter is equally set-up, participants, complications and backdrop and the backdrop component herein is sketchy - by design, yes, but to an extent where it becomes noticeable. The stories of the encounters and how they are crafted can be considered worthwhile indeed. That component ranged from awesome to ok, but the "miscellaneous component" of encounters falls a bit flat - it's like getting a great dish with some of your favorite spices, but realizing salt and pepper is missing. Mind you, this is not a bad encounter-collection - it is inexpensive and sports some rather cool ideas...but it also falls flat of what it could have easily been. My final verdict, hence, will "only" clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Encounter Pages III [PFRPG]
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Heroes of the Middle Kingdoms
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2015 05:04:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third gazetteer/player's guide for the unique setting of Porphyra clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with a massive 59 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, we begin this player's guide with a page of fluffy introduction, sporting a significant sample day in the middle kingdoms - which is a smart choice: Perry Fehr's capability to craft believable vistas is by now well-documented and the customs he describes could have been taken straight out of "The Golden Bough", spliced with some fantastical elements. Moreover, this short paragraph actually makes it possible for you to properly portray the land in a unique manner - with common sayings and customs, this section reminded me of a less gritty homage to the witcher-novels. Indeed, that is not only a minor theme - the humans inhabiting these lands have come from a world somewhat akin to hours (plus magic), wherein non-human races are a matter of myths. This humans have so far enjoyed the new place they have been stranded in and are currently known as athelings - who receive a slight power boost over regular humans: They get +2 to a chosen attribute and +1 Wisdom (and should specify that this can't be stacked - otherwise, we get a bit of a lopsided take; personally, I would have preferred a second +2 and a -2 for streamlining with other races...), +2 to Sense Motive, grant animal companions, familiars etc. +2 to an attribute of their choice, +1/2 level to a chosen Craft or Profession check, +1 skill rank per level and 3 interesting racial traits -one of which nets you +1 to initiative and Stealth checks as long as you don't wear medium/heavy armor or too expensive clothing. Btw.: That one is the only of the atheling traits that misses the "trait bonus" specification - but consider that a minor nitpick here.



The cool Avoodim race, which I've reviewed in the Fehr's Ethnology-series, also is featured here, though weirdly, some bonuses granted by the race no longer are racial bonuses and now are untyped. On the plus-side, some of the traits had their wording slightly streamlined and expanded in their usefulness. A new ethnicity provided herein would be the Geralites, archon-blooded aasimar that count as both humans and outsiders - which is cool, granted. Alas, there is the issue of reviving them - can they revived as easily as humans or do they require the increased resources that reviving outsiders usually takes? They receive +2 to Con and Wis, darkvision, +2 to Sense Motive and Intimidate and may cast continual flame 1/day. Apart from the resurrection hiccup, a neat variant! The traits are nice, with none of them sporting an issue beyond some not specifying the "trait" bonus type.



Now the second main species of the middle kingdoms would be the psionic catfolk called Qi'tar, also first presented in the Fehr's Ethnology-series - and nice aga6in, we have slight improvements - the unique, unarmed slash-n-grab attack now provides proper clarification regarding the interaction with monk attacks - were I to nitpick it, I'd say that it should specify that the attack counts as an armed attack and thus does not provoke AoOs, but that much and the fact that it behaves like a natural attack make that pretty much clear. Now if you're like me and liked the concept of the Qi'tar, you might enjoy the new variant provided herein, the Qi'tar known as "The Silent Ones" - these receive +2 to Dex, -1 to saves vs. illusions and enchantments, +2 to saves vs. transmutation and necromancy (spells and effects, I presume), may reroll a save once per day, get +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive, proficiency in a weapon of choice and the aforementioned savage attack, which, alas, oddly is lacking the monk-interaction caveat. So far for the races - now let's dive into the place for good, shall we?



The Middle Kingdoms, fully mapped in awesome full-color, are depicted in full detail -and form plenty of massive options for just about any type of gameplay; times are a-changin' and as corruption and dissent spread, revolution is in the air and rigid old world clashes with a desire for change to reflect the new world - but what if the status quo, at least when compared to quite a few fantasy worlds out there, actually isn't that bad? well, then we have interesting topics of change versus stagnation - with the codionic knights and their taboos being also detailed in interesting ways. The settlements, fully depicted, make use of more than the basic statblocks - indeed, they are quoting Skortched Urf' Studios' settlement types and provide more means of making settlements distinct and unique. Now not only do we receive a cool plethora of settlements with full settlement statblocks, no, they ALSO sport, once again, copious amounts of in-game prose that is just as inspired as the one that introduced us to the middle kingdoms in the first place. Want to know how great this prose is? What about an epic poem/song that introduces us to Nachtburg (btw. a correct name! For once, not a butchered German settlement name! YEAH!)? Last Sunday, I sang that song by proxy as a bard, so yes - it does work out - kudos! Another settlement sports excerpts from the Fourth Code and know what - there are modifications and changes of the respective settlement statblocks, modified for specific uses, herein, rendering the settlements even more unique. Even within this whole series, wherein the write-ups have been pretty much inspired, this whole chapter blew me away - from a massive necropolis to the unique settlements, these places just feel alive and provide more fodder adventuring potential than you probably require -take e.g. the circle of wit-puzzlers, where people use magic and minds to challenge another with riddles, of which no less than 12 sample ones are provided - yes, glorious.



Now I'm also a big fan of the status-mechanics used in Midgard and this supplement provides something similar - orders and knights with associated fees, minimum level requirements and tangible bonuses associated with them - not only that, but said orders provide tangible, significant rules-benefits. While surely not suitable for every campaign, the very concept is damn intriguing and I certainly hope to see more of the like in the future - it makes sense and mirrors well the medieval sentiment of a god-given right regarding exceptional people and the nobility. Public servants and priests in equal parts, the 10-level Sanctae Credon PrC offers d8, 4+Int skills per level 1/2 BAB and will-save progression and 8/10 spellcasting progression as well as full channel energy progression. The PrC, as shepherds of the people, constantly increase the range of channel energy, which, while powerful, can in practice turn out to be a double-edged sword (and hence can be considered powerful, but still manageable). They also receive leadership bonuses, stipends and options to use the silver keys that are part of their office as slot-less scarabs of golembane - oh, and at the capstone, they become essentially the pope for the chosen deity, who may excommunicate other clerics and strip them of their power. And yes, the PrC has more going for it - but quite frankly, I love it. When Perry Fehr works carefully, he can create awesomeness and this one pretty much feels like a capital P prestige class, one that can perfectly be fitted in within the context of hierarchical beliefs and one that definitely should be considered one of the more flavorful PrC options out there. The capstone alone immediately made me come up with a massive campaign idea focusing on intrigue, subterfuge and the battle for the title. Oh, and yes, sample character included.



The codionic knight archetype for the paladin are slightly more martially-inclined, emphasizing the protection of others and receiving bonus feats in lieu of mercies as well as an aura of menace - a simple, yet flavorful archetype - I like it, though on the nitpicky side, one ability that obviously is SP from the text (even specifically saying "as a spell-like ability") is declared as Su. On the plus-side, they do receive a cool sample character. The equally simple conscript fighter archetype is solid, but beyond minor skill/feat options, they do not offer that much and have one rules-set that can be exploited - they receive automatic proficiency with all weapons they start the game with - you know what that means - let's buy all those exotic weapons you can! Granted, this will not break the game, but some limit would probably have been appreciated. The flagellant cleric archetype gets proficiency with whips and spiked chains and do not wear quilting, increasing their armor check penalty (and they have an armor-limitation) - but they change their channel energy progression AND receive DR et al and even a barbarian's rage - but only the vanilla rage and they pay for this bonus with one domain. The Holy Fool archetype is intended for the BARD, not the cleric, as the pdf, specifies, and can be seen as a pious bard. Solid, though it does have some very minor hiccups in the rules-language. The Psychocenturion is another such simple, yet flavorful modification of the base class and the same could be said about the Rememberer druid, who is tasked with remembering the home world once lost and thus focuses less on an ecosystem, but more on history and the transcendence of magic, with a focus more on the domain chosen. Now fans of dragonlance and e.g. Dragon Age may also enjoy the flavor of the sanctioned wizard, an officially sanctioned caster of magic that pays for the increase in prestige with taboos - nice, especially since the archetype is free-form enough to tailor it to just about any culture. Like it! Speaking of which - there is an archetype that deals with sorcerors by attaching a magical shackle to them, forever condemning them to servitude to their master. Silent Brothers are silent monks that are hard to faze and get a debuff resistance. Turnsleeves are honest people by day, nondetection-using rogues by night.



The reliquary bloodline is all themed around items (fitting, since its theme is the stewardship of a benevolent or malevolent item) - a thematically awesome bloodline, which does sport some issues - the idea of a bonded relic that does not fail or can't be moved unless you will it, for example, is pretty cool, but the bloodline fails to specify how such a bond can be created. Three solid sample inquisitions are also provided. It should be noted that each of the copious archetypes mentioned above comes with a sample NPC. Over all, this chapter provided flavorful archetypes, which, while not reinventing the wheel, provide interesting, cool options - but also suffer from mostly cosmetic deviations from the default rules-language - while not problematic to the point where it would make RAI ambiguous, I still wished these components had seen a little bit ore polish - not much, mind you - they are all functional.



The book provides an array of feats - which range from "interesting" to "okay" up to "not perfect" -Using Knowledge (religion) in lieu of Intimidate to intimidate evil creatures would be one example, whereas once per day doubling of the number of creatures in your psionic collective feels like very situational, but in said situations, slightly too powerful. It's a matter of taste and campaign, though - I just wished it had a more conservative scaling mechanism and more uses per day instead to make it more viable in the long run. Once per round immediate action aid another actions also can be considered rather powerful for certain builds, but also interesting. Gaining an extra ring slot is also within the realm of possibility. Where there are Qi'tar, there also are new psionic powers - one power allows you to redirect AoOs to adjacent creatures - which is cool. However, the augment makes me believe it ought to discharge, which the power itself does not specify. On the other hand, powers that provide interaction with mass-combat and armies? Heck yeah, pretty cool! Overall, these powers are pretty neat.



Of course, new spells can be found as well - though e.g. the aspect of the horse has some issues - immunity to fatigue for a second level spell feels excessive. That being said, simpler and faster ceremonies and a brand that makes a target count as evil, at least temporarily, is pretty nasty and offers quite a bunch of roleplaying potential - but can also potentially make paladins et al. even more versatile and powerful. Other mark variants for temporary alignment modification also can be found and further enhance the theme of the marks and the problematic topic if scapegoats. The coolest spell herein, though, would be one that reflexively delays the effect of damage-dealing spells or SPs after saves have been rolled - once the duration elapses, the effect hits you with maximized force and no, you can't avoid the hit. Yeah, this is pretty awesome, as are the mechanically pretty conservative spells that emulate UMD - here, the details make them interesting - the divine version requires a church warrant, the arcane one consumes a holy symbol. Love that!



Now, we also receive exceedingly immersion-enhancing mundane items and a significant array of magical items, extending from weaponized pitchforks to artifacts, which contain exceedingly lethal tools once used to enslave the qi'tar as well as the digits (or yes, appendix!) of long-gone saint to oliphant's horns, the artifacts are pretty evocative and fit the themes of the middle kingdoms perfectly. Now I should mention another thing, something most player's gudies fail to do, but what helps immensely when indirectly characterizing a given region - lists upon lists of available good, all neatly collected for your perusal, with weapons sporting stats, good sporting Craft DCs etc. - beyond atmosphere, these are exceedingly convenient.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not perfect - while generally, both the formal criteria and rules-language are functional, especially the rules-language could have used some polishing to get rid of the numerous none-standard wordings herein. While this would usually elicit my usual complaint-tirades, this supplement is pretty much unique in the fact that apart from the very scarce exception, the language still retains full functionality, in spite of its liberal handling of rules-semantics. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports both nice full-color artworks and full-color cartography. the pdf also comes with excessive bookmarks for your convenience.



So, this is pretty much the best player's guide I've read in quite a while. Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak have a storyteller's gift and his talent of making believable, organic settings and cultures bespeaks a mind basking in possibilities. While this region of Porphyra is relatively "normal", conservative even, it sports all the tidbits that make such a region come alive and feel distinct - in fact, when compared to just about any quasi-medieval chivalry/religion-themed examples I've read in alternate history settings etc., this guide blows its competition out of the water. I've read MANY such supplements and none managed to elicit this level of immersion. The crunch, with its high-concept emphasis on supplementing a realistic, believable society also enforces this. At the same time, the crunch, though, does sport an array of deviations from rules-language defaults - almost never to the extent of being problematic, but still - the impression I got was one of a supplement that "sweats the small stuff" - to the point where, would this be only a crunch-centric book, this would have crashed down to 3 stars, perhaps lower.

But within the context of world-building this awesome, I couldn't bring myself to bashing this book for what is functional, in the end. Still, I really, really would have loved this book to go the extra mile and purge the rules-language deviations.



I *love* this supplement. I was grinning from ear to ear while reading this and even as a scavenging box, this supplement is downright inspired and can be used to make one's setting come to life, to add this added level of detail and great concepts. The simple, yet very flavorful archetypes, the way in which conflicts between the divine and arcane, between the law and tradition and the changing times - how all of this is set up is just gorgeous, creative and fun. Were it for only the ideas herein, the world-building, I'd be recommending this in the highest tones. Alas, the small glitches, while not bad on their own, simply kept on accumulating - to the point where I can't recommend this book as highly as I'd like to - if proper rules-language and -syntax is important to you, this book will make you cringe and hence, I can't rate this 5 stars. If not, though, then you'll find inspiration galore within these pages. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars - but this is one is good enough to be one of the rare examples, where I will still slap my seal of approval on this book - the ideas and world-building are simply too good.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Middle Kingdoms
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Living Monolith
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/29/2015 05:30:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



The Living Monolith receives d12, full BAB-progression, 2+Int skills per level and good fort- and will-saves as well as proficiency with light armor, simple and martial weapons and shields, but not tower shields.



Okay, so what do these guys get? Well, for once, we receive DR 1/ and a 10% chance to ignore critical hits and sneak attacks at first level, scaling up by +1/+10% at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Which is solid, seeing how in my experience DR tends to be an overvalued commodity. The living monolith also has a finely-carved scarab embedded in his forehead – said scarab not only provides a passive bonus to a bunch of saves, but also can be utilized to enlarge person the monolith. This carries a kind of issue – for once the ability is supernatural, not spell-like – which I do not object to – playtest did show that the bad armor-situation does mitigate somewhat the range received. That being said, I do have an issue with the lack of a CL – seeing how enlarge person’s duration is dependent on that and with SUs providing no default, we have a rules-gap here that ought to be closed – unlimited duration size-increase would be a rather hard pill to swallow, especially considering the lack of options to dispel it. At higher levels, enlarge person is replaced by righteous might, but alas, the problem persists.



Automatic stabilization at 2nd level is nice and at 3rd level, when the lack of armor would start becoming a huge problem, the massive +8 armor bonus granted by ongoing petrification steps right in. Stability and deathwatch/detect evil as well as meld into stone at will are solid and 8th level is okay for disease immunity. Higher-level abilities include planar ally sphinx-calls, tremorsense and talking to the stones once per day – alas, again sans CL. Why not simply go SP, like the high-level statue ability that allows the monolith to weather the ages? The highest levels allow for the questioning of both the living and the dead, while the capstone renders them immortal.



The pdf comes with favored class options for the core races and the anpur-race (all solid – especially the human one, which grants limited rogue talents, is VERY interesting!) and the pdf comes with sample NPC builds at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level. Alas, the sample NPCs use the wrong HD – that ought to be d12, not d10. It’s not hard to adjust the bonus HP, though.



Beyond these, we get a slightly retooled shatterspike and stats for various pieces of mundane equipment – nice bonus!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Living Monolith is EXACTLY what I’d like him to do in the series – take risks, expand the concepts of the PrCs, expand their focus and rewire them in an awesome way. The Livin Monolith is, hands down, my favorite WPA in the series so far – it is inspired, fun and has a bunch of abilities that could be really nasty, all finetuned with relatively subtle balancing mechanisms. I really like both fluff and execution of the class and it is, hands down, the most inspired in the series so far. That being said, the CL-glitch is annoying indeed and, unless the DM makes a ruling for a limited duration, could be rather unbalanced. It is not a serious glitch, mind you, and any DM with a modicum of experience can make that call, but still – it constitutes a significant, game-impacting oversight. It also is the only reason I can’t rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. I really, really like the living monolith and I sincerely hope that Carl Cramér continues on this design-path, enhancing lame base PrCs with unique, cool options. As provided, for now, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Living Monolith
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Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
by Eric H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2015 14:50:08
This PDF has already been covered to the usual high standard by Endzeitgeist, so I'll limit myself to a few comments here in praise.

This class is basically taking the Dragon Disciple PrC from the Pathfinder rulebook and turning it into a Charisma-based version of the magus from [i]Ultimate Magic[/i], with the big difference being that in this class you slowly transform into a sorta-dragon. I.e., you get scales, claws, fangs, a breath weapon, wings (at 15th level) all combined with a very decent BAB and saves. You also get spellcasting up to 6th level spells.

Really, this is for everyone who wants to start scaling up (sorry) from 1st level rather than take five levels of a spontaneous spellcaster class first.

I like it mostly because I've always been big on 'monstrous' PCs. I like alchemists with their mutagens, inhuman looking tieflings, and other oddities -- like dragon-people PCs. That said the math of the class works out well and I'd call it balanced for the sort of games I like to play, though it may be a bit tough for lower-powered ones.

You also get a sample character statted out at 1st, 10th, and 15th levels if you want to get an idea of one way to make the character.

I'd say this class and PDF is definitely worth the price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Lantern Bearer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2015 04:16:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



Lantern Bearers receive d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light and medium armor. At 1st level, the Lantern bearer receives favored enemy and adds another at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. They also begin the game with the track special quality and wild empathy. Now regarding the combat style and its progression, the Prestige Archetype does something rather well – it not only covers the base ranger styles, and instead also provide one for natural weapons, mounted combat, finesse, sword and board, etc. – nice! (Also: Concise in the feat-availability/feat-list expansion over the levels.)



At 4th level, hunter’s bond provides either the option to grant favored enemy bonuses to allies or an animal companion at char-level-3 and wis-based prepared spellcasting that is expanded by a bunch of spells that help ferret out the wicked (including e.g. invisibility purge) – and yes, third level nets endurance, for the few of you that are like me and actually care about this feat due to a lot of environmental threats. 7th level provides woodland stride and at 8th level, weapons wielded counts as cold iron and the level also nets fast tracking.



Mid levels net sense-enhancing bonus feats, quarry and well-defined immunity against the movement hampering effects of spells. Higher levels see swift action hide in plain sight for a limited amount of rounds per day, word of recall plus teleportation, better quarries, good-aligned weapons (very interesting for the non-good-aligned lantern bearers!). On the downside, 18th level sees holy aura, which should probably have corresponding effects for other alignments. The capstone allows for full speed tracking and insta-kill shots…and insta-non-lethal knockdown shots – cool!



We also receive solid FCOs and sample NPC builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks and comes sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Lantern Bearer is a return to form for the series – the Lantern Bearer boils down to a magical bounty hunter, a variant ranger that is pretty fun and bereft of the majority of druidy flavor, rendering this a great choice for city watches and similar hunters of the most dangerous prey. This WPA is very much a humble, concise and well-working take on the concept. It does not reinvent the wheel – but it doesn’t have to. While I am not 100% happy with the holy aura-ability, that constitutes the only true complaint I can field against this pdf. I will use these guys. My only gripe, apart from that, remains the missed opportunity of actually providing a signature lantern as magic item or directly lantern-related abilities. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Lantern Bearer
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FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2015 06:00:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Not only for this module, but also for its direct predecessor, the ennie-nominated, superb Prince Charming, Reanimator. Potential players of either one should definitely jump to the conclusion. Really. You don't want this spoiled.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! So, after being press-ganged into an adventuring-life by a non-too-friendly Prince Charming, the PCs were witness to the psycho reanimating a girl, only to have his still living head being removed by said undead bride, who subsequently escaped into the dreaded Grimmswood. Unfortunately for the PCs, the baron is no less charming than his heir apparent - the solution to his dilemma is obvious - those pesky commoners better get moving and bring back some stability to the dread wood. Being not as totally an utter prick as his eccentric son, though, the baron does promise a chest of gold as well as the hand of his daughter in marriage. Things become more complicated even - the PC's bumbling interference has ended the faerie curse on the "ghost" of Doctor Chapman - who in fact in direct conflict with the Desert Faerie. This shadow war behind the scenes is further complicated by the interference of the Yellow Dwarf - who are what do these entities want? Only time (and more modules in this series) will tell!



Doctor Chapman manifests himself in the dreams of one PC, providing further assistance - he assures them that prince Hubert Charming's now-undead brides still roam the forest and that they have been entwined with a dread faerie's curse -all have to be defeated/saved - so it's up to the PCs to venture into the hex-mapped, color-mapped Grimmswood to track down Cinder Ella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, preferably while not falling to their brides and grooms. Each of these minions have specific, unique abilities reflecting the theme of the respective original faerie tales through a mirror exceedingly and joyfully darkly.



Now the exploration of the Grimmswood is interesting in that haunting rhymes may provide much needed warnings for PCs - the detailed random encounters include stalking/animated apple trees, the Big Bad Wolf (including windstorm-strength breath), cowardly lions, talking owls, jabberwocks, strangling vines - the table alone is more inspired than a few comparable whole modules I've read! Elven players can receive their due mithral equipment in an organic, cool way on the sacred anvil of the forest. A goblin knight seeking a duel has increased prowess the more PCs enter the fray, rewarding honorable conduct in a rather interested scaling mechanism. The PCs may also find a severed head and incur either his wrath or boon while resting in a dilapidated ruin of an inn. Let's hope the head is treated kindly, for he has an interesting clue to offer to the PCs (and his curse is dire!).



In Cinder Ella's cottage, her wicked stepsisters, terribly executed back in the day, still roam the place, their wounds seeping still after all those years. Her mother is no-where to be found, but a blackened skeleton that may bless them, the fire-infused undead and the grimorie of the curiously absent wicked stepmother, made from the skin of infants, speak a rather obvious language - poor Cinder Ella did not have a jolly good time...even though the PCs still have to defeat the now undead bride - hopefully without her fire-control and own volatile nature setting the whole house ablaze!



A cenotaph devoted to forces both disgusting and malignant is hiding within the forest as well. Christina Rosetti's poem (reproduced here), "The Goblin Market" also serves as a complex and iconic encounter - including the options to learn new spells by having body parts grafted to you, paying with reflections and dreams...and the option to be, alas, deceived. Wax servants, goblins whispering in your ear, vials from the fountain of youth, wondrous companions, eyes in jars - delightful and breathing what fey ought to be all about - this section alone would make for a superb source-book and a massive table makes running the place even easier/more versatile. Snow White is awaiting teh PCs in the confines of the mine of her erstwhile allies - and the vampiric, cold-themed bride and her hobyah-servants make for deadly adversaries. Oh well, if push comes to shove and the PCs have kept their eyes peeled, the reanimator serum they may have found could well save them...or inadvertently create an undead horror...but hey, no risk, no gain, right? Right?



After defeating the second of these brides, the good doctor will urge the PCs onwards to Sleeping beauty, the final challenge that awaits. But she may very well know all - for there is a hidden war going on between the talking owls and talking crows of the forest and one side is spying for the beauty... That being said, the PCs may still run afoul of the psychotic tin man-analogue, an unpleasant artifact marked by X (NOTHING good's ever marked by Xs...) or the dread undead guardian of the crossroads before they find the caverns that hide both Sleeping beauty and what remains of prince Hubert - i.e. his reanimated head...and an array of severed, spellcasting hands. Ending his undying existence in the otherwise gorgeous caverns (including crystalline flowers...), the PCs now "only" have to tackle Sleeping Beauty. Alas, she has grafted her parent's heads and limbs to her bodyy, rendering her a deadly shredder of just about anyone, provided the PCs were not smart enough to deal with the other two brides before that...



Doctor Chapman as a patron is covered and so is Hizzgard, a dread demonic patron for all things creeping and crawling - who also comes with options to revive the dead via worms and an alchemy of essential salts. Finally, an appendix for quick and easy faerie animal generation is provided.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with cool pieces of original b7w-art. Additionally, full color cartography, also provided as DM and player-version high-res jpgs help running this module. The pdf, alas, has no bookmarks, but I'd suggest to print this out anyways - it belongs to the shelf containing the good modules.



Okay, I'll say it outright - at this point, Daniel J. Bishop is pretty much one of the few adventure-writers I'd buy blind. I adore his absolutely, mind-bogglingly compelling prose, the depths of his imagination and the sheer wonder each and every supplement of his exudes. The first FT-series module was great - this is one step beyond. Fairy Tales, reimagined through a glass most darkly, but at the same time, suffused with an underlying sense of wonder and yes, humor even, this module is quite frankly absolutely superb in every way. How good is this? Well, you know how many good modules for PFRPG exist? I have more of them than I can ever conceivably play, but still - I sit down for these modules and convert them. And I never, ever regret the work. Now don't get me wrong, I did play this one with its intended DCC-rules, but the thing is - no matter what your system of choice is, this module is worth every single second spend converting it. Whether 0e, 13th Age, D&D 4th or 5th edition - believe me when I'm saying that you NEED this beast, that you want to invest the time to play this in your system of choice. Its ideas, its glorious creativity both are that pronounced. This is one of the most compelling, dark faerie tales I've ever read, no matter the medium. Quite a lot of novels and short stories in the faery tale/mythpunk/whatever genres can't stand up to the level of imagination herein. I guarantee that, with a modicum of system-savvy knowledge of DCC, even as only an idea-mine, this still is worth its price ten-fold. Get this masterpiece!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Holy Vindicator
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/01/2015 05:33:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



So, this time around, we take a look at the base-class-version of the Holy Vindicator. This guy receives d12, full BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, 2+Int skills per level, full armor and weapon proficiency (except tower shields) and has an aura akin to a cleric. They receive limited, prepared divine spells drawn from the cleric's spell-list of up to 4th level. These spells can be spontaneously converted into healing spells. Rather uncommon, the spells are governed by Cha, not Wis. At first level, the holy vindicator receives channel energy, which improves by 1 die every odd level thereafter. This also is governed by Cha, but the holy vindicator also receives channel smite as a 1st level bonus feat. It should be noted that healing spells employed by 6th level or higher vindicators are automatically empowered, but conversely, mass cures do not apply to other creatures when including the vindicator. At 16th level, the spells are maximized instead. Oddly, both have no proper inverse benefit for inflict/negative energy-using evil, unholy vindicators, though other abilities take the like into account.



Vindicator's shield is gained at 2nd level and unfortunately retains the wonky wording of the PrC's ability - why not simply state in unambiguous terms that the bonus is lost upon being subject to a successful attack? This would have gotten rid of the horrible mess of the original ability,



At 4th level, the vindicator receives stigmata, with action economy-scaling every 4 levels thereafter - start and end are first handled as a standard action, later as a free action at 16th level. For 1/4 class level bleed, the vindicator receives the same as a numerical bonus to either attack rolls, weapon damage, AC, CL or saving throws. The ability is actually more solid in its wording than the original PrC's. Well done!



At 6th level, the class receives an ability that is too strong for the level - it allows a vindicator to heal or harm the living or undead, regardless of whether she channels positive or negative energy. Do you know how hard clerics usually have to struggle to get this level of flexibility? Yeah. Ouch. The 18th level ability does show that there's something odd here: " At 18th level, when the holy vindicator channels energy, she can choose to heal or harm all types of creatures, regardless of what type of energy she channels. This is in addition to her previous options." Does that mean choosing for each creature separately? the ability doesn't say and if not, it does nothing the 6th level ability doesn't already do. A rephrase would be in order here. Versatile channel is btw. gained at 12th level.



Conversely, adding immediate action doom to criticals/as retribution for crits feels comparatively tame, as does the 14th level death knell and the capstone bestow curse. Here, we once again have the alignment-issue in my book - these spell-like hi/retribution tricks feel pretty much nasty to me, so a more good-feeling option would have been appreciated. Adding bonus damage, sickened and bleed to channel smites while bleeding from the stigmata is damn cool, as is adding said power to their channels.



The class comes with FCOs for the core-races and the Polkan-race as well as with the traditional level 1, 5, 10 and 15-sample NPC-builds, once again with a solid narrative backing them up. The sample NPCs use d10 instead of d12 as HD, though. The math of upgrading the HP properly isn’t hard, but still, a minor glitch.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no bad glitches apart from the HD-guffaw. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Holy Vindicator is surprisingly good - really, I enjoyed this take on what amounts to an alternate paladin-ish class with a tighter focus on channel energy. The stigmata are cool and the tie-in with the blood-themed abilities has been well-conserved. That being said, I would have loved for a tighter ability-integration/more stigmata-synergy. The full channel progression and high HD feel like a bit much, though not to the point where it would be unbalancing. I would have wished for tighter wording regarding the good/evil-dichotomy and a more varied array of options here - some way to render the rather unfocused PrC more organic. This is by no means a bad installment of the series, but it is also one that could have easily went for the full 5 stars + seal, were it just a tad more brave in its modifications of the base-PrC. As provided, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Holy Vindicator
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Stock Art: Shade Cleric
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:52:25
A solid piece of artwork. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Shade Cleric
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Stock Art: Human Mystic
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:50:18
A great piece of artwork. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Human Mystic
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Stock Art: Gnoll Guardian of the Dead
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:49:01
A great piece of artwork. Evocative and excellent for any Egyptian themed publications. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Gnoll Guardian of the Dead
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