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Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Helms of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2016 03:53:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Purple Duck Games' inexpensive Purple Duck Storeroom-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, so most helmets are assumed to be part of the armor, right? Well, this experimental pdf goes one step further (or backwards through time, depending on your perspective) regarding the measure of protection helmets offer. The pdf does this by introducing an item, the greathelm - this helm, when worn sans armor and only a shield (or no shield), grants a +1 armor bonus on its own, but also penalizes Perception by -2. More importantly, it offers a 10% chance to negate sneak attack damage or the bonus damage incurred from a critical hit.


Basically, it has limit 2 and fortification 10% - two new scores introduced here; the first denotes how the senses are limited by the helm; the second denotes the chance to negate critical hits et al. - and no, I have no problem with finer distinctions regarding fortification than the ones provided by the base rules. Each item also has a chance to incur the broken condition upon negating a critical hit. Such helms require heavy armor proficiency to grant their benefits, just fyi. So that would be the mundane foundation.


The pdf continues to build on this foundation with numerous helms - the first of which allows for blur in increments as well as helping versus death attacks. I would have appreciated information on whether this is a spell trigger item or use activated item regarding activation of the blur-effect, though - the latter would also pose the question of whether it can be activated as a standard or free action.


Thankfully, a scorching ray emitting tiara does get the activation right. A bascinet allows the wearer to treat one hostile creature as dazed for the purposes of flanking, which may also be dazed on an easy failed save and call forth a swarm of ravens (statblock provided) - unfortunately, once again sans specifying which action the summoning takes. I also would have appreciated information on whether saving versus the daze negates the flanking benefit - I assume no, but the wording could quite frankly be clearer.


A combination of scroll-enhancer and spell-in-a-can works perfectly and the erkusaan helmet that enhance leadership and helps intimidate humans sports 8 delightfully chaotic effects. There would also be a brain-case that enhances Intelligence, grants low-light vision and allows for limited communication with constructs. The Lion-King's Greathelm with its stacking AC-bonus is neat and negates charge-penalties - it also provides a 1/day cone of sonic damage...that lacks the activation action. What about a crown that can unreliably absorb spells, transmuting them into a time shudder?


Fans of Porhyra will like a helmet that helps bypass sanctuary, repulsion, etc. - but most importantly, the porphyrite borders while also minimizing the damage caused by wall-spells (sans prismatic wall)!


A helmet that replaces spellcasting for the full-round weapon display of Dazzling Display also makes sense to me and is actually rather intriguing! Similarly, a multi-veiled turban is nice.


The pdf also sports two cursed helms...but I'm not spoiling their effects here, in case players are reading...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, they are good, if not perfect. Thankfully, one can usually ascertain what's meant sans ambiguity, even though syntax etc deviates. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly no-frills 1-column purple/black/white-standard for the series, with no artworks and the pdf actually is fully bookmarked - kudos!


The one reason this pdf does not get a higher rating can be summed up in two words: Activation action. Quite a few of the items herein fail to specify them for the spell-in-a-can-effects that accompany some helmets and while a spell-trigger's standard action can be assumed, I can't be sure. That being said, I like the finer fortification and the play with Perception penalties exhibited here - they make sense to me and the helmets themselves are sufficiently varied and sport interesting ideas. While formally falling short of always functional and precise rules-language, Perry Fehr's helmets do offer some rather cool ideas a GM can further use, enhance and tweak. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to the low and fair price point.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Helms of Porphyra
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Kineticists of Porphyra II
by Robbie H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/30/2016 02:53:21

KoP II manages to deliver new material that is worthwhile. The Corpokineticist, a standout, promises to make interesting enemies, or, if you are more adventurous, PCs.
While the book has plenty in the way of Archetypes and Wild talents.. the part that got most of my attention was the new Feats... I was pleased to see new ways to incorporate Constitution included.


A Great and Informative read. A worthy follower of its predecessor Kineticists of Porphyra.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra II
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Alchemist Codex
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2016 04:13:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This collection of NPC-builds clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with exactly 20 pages of content, so what do we get?


Well, the answer here is pretty straightforward - we get 20 alchemist-builds, one for each level.


All right, that was an old and pretty lame joke the first time around; now, it's ridiculous. Sorry. So, much like the previous codex detailing sample kineticists, this one instead tackles alchemists and aims to give the GM sample builds to throw at characters, while also providing an interesting background story for them. Additionally, the reader can glean at a cursory look that thankfully, the helpful boon-entries for befriending the characters are still part of the deal.


Now, the previous codex excelled in the diverse selection of unique races and archetypes it employed - and the kineticist is a young class that doesn't yet have this much fodder for diversification. Well, the alchemist does not suffer from this restriction and hence, we get a solid array of options - mindchemists, psychonauts, chirurgeons, grenadiers, preservationsts, clone masters, reanimators and beastmorphs all get their due with a fitting character - oh and obviously, the level 20 vicisectionist is FEARSOME. Damn, this creature is BRUTAL: Hunter Dark, psychotic lizardfolk killer...who may just be willing to help you...provided he may eat the dead.


So yes, archetype-wise, we have a rather rich diversity here. Similarly, there are plenty of unusual races represented here: Living ghouls, for one. And yes, muses, saurians, gnolls...quite an array. It should be noted that this time around, there are no psionic races utilized, though one of the Porphyran xelusine drow is used.


Now the last codex had, as mentioned in that review, less diversity in the feat-department - well, guess what? This book does A LOT better regarding build-diversity - granted, in part due to the simple fact that the alchemist is a more versatile class regarding the ways you can take it: From bombing-specialists to more melee-centric builds that rely on extracts and mutagens, the build (and feat) diversity is significantly higher here and leaves nothing to be desired - kudos!


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are pretty good, though there are some typos and similar glitches in the book - "bolster" instead of "bolstered" and the like. Rules-wise, there are a few very minor hiccups here, but overall, the statblocks are solid and ready to be used. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Brian Jolly's collection of alchemist builds is diverse, intriguing and sports some truly unique characters. While the at times a bit rushed editing takes this down a slight notch, this still can be considered an inexpensive, nice collection of alchemist statblocks. 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!]
Alchemist Codex
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Kineticist Codex
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2016 04:49:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This collection of NPC-builds clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with exactly 20 pages of content, so what do we get?


Well, the answer here is pretty straightforward - we get 20 kineticist-builds, one for each level.


...


What, you want to know more? All right, all right...So, the first thing you'll notice is that, as denoted by the huge Porphyra-logo, the characters herein sport fluff that is tied to Porphyra, firmly rooting them in Purple Duck Games' patchwork planet, though that does not mean that they don't work in different contexts. The second thing you'll notice is that each of the characters featured comes with a cool boon-entry that provides benefits for PCs engaging n friendly ways with the respective character. A closer look at the respective characters and their set-up will show you another rather interesting component - the characters themselves tend to be diverse. No, I mean REALLY diverse.


As in "Genderless oakling elemental ascetic"-diverse. As in Ultimate Psionics-Elan brothers. As in a kitsune overflowing soul. As in a god-of-war CR 20 forlarren or as an arrogant, superbly powerful genius half-elven artist of death in exile from court. The concepts of the characters are truly diverse and captivating and the builds themselves show Brian Jolly's experience regarding the creation of powerful characters - I can see pitting these versus my players sans them erupting in yawning matches. As for the exotic races used, you can access them for free, so that does indeed not constitute a detriment in my book.


That being said, the builds of the characters, while diverse in races, do not sport the same level of diversity in their feat-choices, where the obvious Toughness, Weapon Focus, etc. reign pretty much - a bit more variety for different concepts would have been neat here. While there are some minor hiccups here and there, over all, the statblocks are well crafted, though quite a few avoidable glitches like e.g. "kimetic"[Sic!] blast have crept into the book.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are generally solid, though not perfect - I noticed several typos and minor glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover.


I enjoyed Brian Jolly's humble collection of kineticists more than I thought I would - while the statblocks aren't as flawless as those of some statblock wizards out there, we get a healthy dose of diversity in this book, with numerous uncommon character concepts and flavorful ideas. The write-ups actually make the beings portrayed here feel like proper characters, something I deeply appreciate. The kineticist builds themselves are pretty varied as well, though obviously beholden to the more effective options available for the respective direction. Beyond class abilities and races, diversity isn't that pronounced in the respective feat-selection, though we do have e.g. a crafter (with proper skills and feats), a half-giant with wild talent and the like - there is variety here, it's just not as diversified as for the rest of the respective builds. All in all, this is a nice, inexpensive, if not perfect collection of kineticists - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticist Codex
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Random Encounters Remastered: Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2016 04:16:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the glorious Random Encounters Remastered-series clocks in at a massive 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a whopping 43 pages of content - quite a bunch, so what precisely do we get?


Well, first of, the obvious: All RER-installments so far have been setting-neutral, though NOT generic - the environments covered have been evocative and interesting throughout the series. Thus, it is a natural fit to expect to see Purple Duck games' patchwork planet Porphyra with its unique environments to get its due, right?


So, since it has been A LOT of time since I covered an installment of this series, let's begin by recpaitulating how this system works, shall we? Each installment provides numerous adventure areas/terrain types - from the steppes to primeval woodlands and tainted estuaries. The areas themselves can be customized by providing unique hazards and terrain features. The system is dead simple: Choose a CR, multiply that CR with 20, add that value to your d%-roll...et voilà, there you have an encounter suitable for your designated target CR. One roll, simple math, HUGE tables. This elegant system is enhanced in its usefulness by several components: 1) Advice on how to best use random encounters, particularly useful for novice GMs, obviously. 2) The why-hasn't-this-been-in-the-GM's Guide-level of smart disposition-system.


What's that, you ask? Well, it's pretty much the base set-up for the adversaries - they can be charmed, disarmed, etc. - perhaps they just want to flee or are injured...or subject to a mayday on water. The system may not sound like much, but its inclusion in this series actually expands the variety and focus of random encounters significantly.


Where was I? Oh yeah: 3) Terrain features. If you've been following my reviews, you may have noticed that I very much look for interesting terrain in modules, encounters, etc. - why? Because it makes the fight more interesting...one could claim that it actually defines the fight as much as the combatants: Think about it, whether it's sieges, any swashbuckler-movie ever made or simply the tired old Luke-Vs.-Vader-showdown-comparison: Could you imagine that working in an even, bland room? Exactly. Hence, terrain is important - exceedingly so. There is a reason Raging Swan Press' dressing files are as beloved as they are. Well, this one here focuses more on rules-relevant terrain modifications - from fey-based hazards to quicksand, reefs and shifting dunes, there is a significant variety of evocative material in that regard, all ready to be inserted into your encounters at a simple glance - and yes, it also sports a table for random tunnel direction turns, widowmakers, mirages...you get the idea.


Beyond this general and awesome set-up, however, the respective environments and their massive tables also feature recommended dispositions and terrain features as well as building blocks you can use to further enhance the random encounter you create - and yes, if you're doing your task right, players will not notice that they're fighting a random encounter. A quick glance of the respective table-short hands will provide the discerning user of this supplement with a nice surprise: Both Purple Duck Games' rather impressive Monsters of Porphyra and the fourth Bestiary have been included in the creatures featured in these exceedingly-detailed tables, though the lack of neither of them will prove detrimental in a significant way to you when using this book: There are so many encounters herein, the tables are so big, that the entries featuring both books could be skipped, should you elect to do so.


As far as terrain-types are concerned, we have a field day: God-blasted wastelands, haunted seas, spirit-watched countries, tainted estuaries and underdeep ruins alongside primeval woodlands provide pretty much an all-killer, no filler selection of environments that imho prove just as useful beyond the confines of Porphyra as on the patchwork planet.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with some exceptional artworks from Monsters of Porphyra being used in this book as well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


David Nicholas Ross' Random Encounters Remastered-series is pretty much one of those useful to have time-savers for the GM - having these pdfs at your beck and call makes the creation of random encounters a) faster b) more rewarding and c) results in more detailed, fun random encounters. While the very notion of the random encounter has been much maligned, my experience has been that they make the game more interesting, versatile and ultimately, more organic - they help create a more concise illusion of a world that's alive. This installment sports not only concise dispositions and fun hazards, the lists themselves are also exceedingly versatile - and what more can you ask for? I encourage you to check this one out and remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Random Encounters Remastered: Porphyra
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Stock Art: Female Blue Goblin Hunter
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2016 14:47:56

Very nice piece of goblin artwork. The illustration is 1275 x 1649 pixels, or 862 x 1616 if you trim the empty space.
There are actually four images: line art on a white background, gray scale on a transparent background, colour on a white background, and colour on a transparent background.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Blue Goblin Hunter
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Kineticists of Porphyra
by Joshua B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2016 09:50:32

I'm a big fan of Kineticists (i've got some problems, but i can overlook them for the most part). However, one of my key issues with the class was that I wanted more elements. Occult Origins helped out a bit, but I still wanted more to work with. Additionally, there wasn't a huge selection of feats to pick from either. There were maybe 2-3 feats in the Occult book about this.


That's where Kineticistis of Porphyra steps in. It introduces 3 new elements (time, sound, light), while also increasing the abilities of the ones from the Paizo. There's plenty of support for mixing both too! For example within composite blasts, you have Crystal Blast, which mixes earth and light. Or you can pick something like Alteration Amplification which would turn any regular blast from a bunch of d6's to d8's.


There's plenty of new infusions to support the blasts as well. Beacon Infusion works for almost all light focused blasts, and lights your enemy up like a beacon, granting allies a bonus to hit, and if you accept another point of burn, bonus to damage as well. Or the leech infusion for void blasts where you gain life back from enemies you hit. A lot of stuff to work with. There's a lot here and they seem well-balanced compared to the core offerings. There's a lot of new wild talents as well, but I have not look too deeply into them. Nothing immediately stuck out as problematic though.


As for the feats, this book offers plenty of pickings that are genuinely useful. Burn Resistance allows you to take less damage from piling on burn, Kinetic Sniper allows your blasts to extend even further, or Precision Blast so you don't have to blast your friends if you use an AoE ability.


All in all, there's a huge amount of stuff in here, so anyone interested in kineticists should check out this book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra
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CE 2 - The Black Goat
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2016 15:35:50

This is a fantastic piece of drop-in gaming content. The location sits in the middle of a trail in the mountains and can be added with no change or adaptation whatsoever to many adventures. The creatures introduced can serve as interesting and highly imaginitive one-offs, or become recurring parts of a campaigh. The CE series by Daniel Bishop excels at this sort of thing, but the Black Goat is probably the greatest one yet. This is an incredible steal at the price, and I have read it several times purely for the enjoyment of this novel mini-setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 2 - The Black Goat
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CE 1 - The Falcate Idol
by Terry O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2016 13:55:50

Daniel Bishop's The Falcate Idol, published by Purple Duck Games, is the first installment of the "Campaign Elements" series for DCC RPG. While written specifically for DCC, it is easily adaptable to the OSR game of your choice. As of the time of this review, there are five other Campaign Elements adventures (even a bundled version of 1-5), but here we'll focus on the one that started them all.


This adventure (as well as others in the "CE" line) helps the judge provide a short, 4-8 hour quest to respond to some new element in the campaign. Perhaps the wizard is hunting for a spell, perhaps the cleric is suffering extreme disfavor with her deity, perhaps the warrior is looking for a some clue of the fabled sword whereabouts, etc. The Falcate Idol is a fantastic drop-in quest for those situations, and many more. It is also an ideal one-shot for a con game.


Along these lines of versatility, the adventure suggests using 2-8 level 2 PCs, 1-2 level 3 PCs, or a solo level 4 thief. This is not "hot air" from the author; the adventure, as written, is that robust. Essentially, the adventure consists of a small temple with a secret underground portion. Ten encounters in all. In addition to planting your own hooks, you can use the ones suggested: a thief must steal the Eyes of the Harrower; an arcane caster must retrieve the Egg of Creation.


Thematically, The Falcate Idol, is quite tight in the way it presents a temple devoted to the Harrower, a neutral god of both the moon and death. Every encounter reminds the PCs of where they are, and what they are up against. Some "dungeon crawls" have generic rooms that could be in any crawl; this is not one of them. Every room says "Harrower" in one way or another. To enforce the feel, there are simple guidelines, as well as an "additional effect" table, to alter the way magic works within the temple; there is also a treasure table for looting corpses.


Like any well-written adventure, The Falcate Idol provides many areas of expansion into the present campaign. There is a curse, a "Walking God", a few supernatural/magical items (my favorite is the moon die!), and a creature's "transformative" special attack that could spawn a new adventure, just to find a way to undo the transformation.


In my own game, I've used it as a shared dream sequence for the party whose cleric was disowned by his god. This quest provided a means to regain some favor.


I highly recommend The Falcate Idol. Buy it and try it out!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 1 - The Falcate Idol
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Kineticist Codex
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2016 13:52:20

So I was excited to get this product. I love the OA classes and the psychic stuff. So to dive into this was a joy. Unfortunately several things came to my attentions immediately:


1) it uses rule/races/feats that aren't standard. While i can understand that , especially when trying to advance thier own products, it makes it hard to transfer to a different campaign without executive descesions and educated guesswork.
2) uses rules from Ultimate Psionics
3) the stat blocks do not include all the possibilities for a given character. For example, a character that has kinetic blast doesn't have that ability in its stat block
4) the characters aren't very different from one another. For example, almost every single character have Weapon Focus (kinectic blast)
5) the color/info text doesn't match the stat block at times (electric instead of force)
6) each character has nearly the same feat/skill selection (see #4)
7) some characters have feats they do not qualify for
8) and some character have missing feats (ie. they should have x feats but only have x-1 feats in their stat block)


Now I do like the product. I love reading backstory and imaging what i can do with a given character. But i think this Kineticist Codex could have used a better editor and some more creative writer.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticist Codex
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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
by Steven W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2016 12:36:01

After reading about how good this funnel adventure was I finally bought it, and found it to be as good as I was told. A solid adventure, good monsters, some great encounters that can be spun out into further adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
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Kineticists of Porphyra
by Audrey S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2016 08:31:48

With Paizo’s release of the occult classes came the kineticist, an elemental magic user who draws upon their own body’s reserves of energy to perform incredible feats. Purple Duck games released a slew of new options for the kineticist by N. Jolly.


Flavor: Without being familiar with the Porphyra setting, the opening flavor of the supplement still drew me in. A well-written and intriguing piece on what kineticists are and where the various types of kineticists are found in Porphyra.


Archetypes: Jolly’s supplement offers several new archetypes (some so obvious, you have to wonder why Paizo didn’t create them initially). The Cerebral Kineticist uses her Intelligence score instead of her Constitution score to take burn and has an overall flavor twist toward mental prowess versus physical hardiness. The Elemental Avatar is exactly what it sounds like--master of all four elements right from the start. Fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender will love this archetype, as it gives you true versatility of the four common elements (earth, air, fire, water) that can’t be gotten with a standard kineticist. Elemental Scion might be the archetype that excited me the most, because it alleviates the issues that any caster faces when focusing on a single element. The abilities of the Scion are such that even when facing foes with elemental immunities or resistances, you aren’t out of the game. Lastly you have the Kinetic Duelist, a martial fighter who wields the power of the elements in their free hand. All four of these archetypes have their own strengths and I found them to be balanced well.


New Elements: The additional elements presented in this book are exciting options: light, sound, and time. All a little more intangible, but all so fun to use, and of course they come with new blasts and abilities. Most of these abilities are on par with what you’d get using one of Paizo’s elements, though a few of the blasts feel slightly underpowered. This is countered by more powerful composite blasts, but again, without playing all of the elements at a table, I can’t say for certain that the elements are imbalanced. My favorite of the new blasts is Discordant Augmentation, a power which increases the damage die of a simple blast. The new Wild Defenses and Infusions are delightfully flavored and appropriately powerful. There are a plethora of intriguing infusions, ranging from Pure Negative Infusion (void) to Lagging Infusion (time) to Stitching Infusion (aether). Both the infusions for new elements and old are well-balanced and good enough options that I’d choose many of them over the ones initially released by Paizo. I could talk forever about all the great Wild Talents and other abilities, but that would eat up the rest of this review. Jolly has outdone himself with the variety of options he presents.


New Feats: The book offers a variety of new feats specifically geared toward the kineticist. Whether you want to increase the amount of burn you can take, make your blasts more accurate, or just be a force to be reckoned with, Jolly has the feats for you. They fill some much needed blanks in the feats available to kineticists.


Cons: Very little to complain about. There were a few grammatical issues, a few abilities that could have been clarified a little more, but most players and GMs will be able to come to a ruling without much trouble. Aside from that, my only hesitation with this material is that a few of the abilities (looking at you, Elemental Embodiment) seem like they might be a tiny bit overpowered. However, without playtesting, I can’t say for certain that it’s an issue. Really, it’s just nitpicking, as most of the options presented are very solid and balanced.


Overall, this book is an excellent supplement to the kineticist class and a must-have for anyone who can’t wait for Paizo to put out more options (and even then, I’d say that the archetypes alone are a good reason to buy the book). The book is a steal at $3.99. You can buy it here or here.


5 out of 5 stars



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra
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The Kingpin
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2016 06:28:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This class-supplement clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The kingpin base-class comes with d8, 8+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, obviously excluding tower shields. 1st level kingpins receive kingpin's cunning, a pool equal to his Intelligence modifier (minimum 1) and counting as grit/panache for the purpose of feat-prereqs and the like. The interesting and darn cool component here would lie in the regaining of cunning - not dependent on luck, at least exclusively - the kingpin receives two points back whenever he and his party avoid combat situations via smarts - be it via Diplomacy, Stealth or the like. He also receives 1 point back for stunts and good roleplaiyng, emphasizing brains over brawn - which is awesome. On the downside, rolling natural 20s, even on mundane skill-checks, also restores cunning, which begs for abuse and would ensure me going on a 2-paragraph-rant regarding the regaining of cunning thusly, but the pdf is smart enough to mitigate this abuse by including a GM-control-clause. Personally, I'd limit this to potentially lethal situations, but that's just my playtesting experience - so far, no true complaints.


Where there's a mechanic like grit or cunning, there obviously is a need to invest such an ability's points for benefits and thus, it should come as no surprise that the class receives deeds, the most defining of them probably being gang, an extraordinary ability. For as long as the kingpin has at least 1 point of cunning in his pool, all allies within 20 ft. (scaling up to 70 over the 20 levels) receive a scaling morale bonus to skill checks. Allies must be aware of the kingpin, but do not need to see him and all terrain that does not block line of effect, corners and the like, talking etc. all are featured in this ability's write-up - resulting in an ability that surprisingly, despite its complexity, works. Interesting here: Quite a few of abilities thus passively extend to the gang - basically, we get a bunch of always on buffs that scale, including being able to act in the surprise round, using skills untrained if the kingpin knows them and nasty flanking/teamwork tricks - and yes, collective Stealth and actually useful teamwork-feat dispersal is part of the deal.


Okay, where things become "ALERT LEVEL 11" is with the 7th level deed, coax self - the kingpin can take a standard action as an immediate action...which is pretty damn brutal. While the high minimum level means that dipping access doesn't work and while the sidebar talks about spellcasting restriction and while the ability's costs cannot be mitigated by any means - action economy-tricks tend to end up very strong. At 11th level, the kingpin can coax an ally as a standard action for 2 points of cunning, allowing said ally to take a standard action as an immediate action - the swift/immediate duality may prevent in cases like this that the ally can spam quickened spells, but the power of these abilities is still significant and warranted playtesting...more on that later. EDIT: Here either I misread something in my original review or read an old file; not sure. Thankfully, the problem was only a nitpick that did not influence the final verdict. Still, in the spirit of full disclosure of my botches, these lines acknowledging my oversight will remain.


Sharing skills, free charging through occupied squares and a true mastery of skills complete the array of deeds alongside double rolls on skills and the like. 1st, 5th and 13th level provide teamwork feats, 2nd, 9th and 17th bonus feats...and here, I should mention something: The kingpin also gets skill tricks at second level and every 2 levels thereafter, covering a diverse array, usually up to 2 per skill. When the bonus feats are used to take teamwork feats, the kingpin gets a bonus skill trick - nice way to reward the player for playing the character in the intent of its chassis.


The class comes with favored class options of a varied and diverse (and balanced) spectrum for the core races and a significant array of the cool races of Porphyra. The pdf also provides multiple archetypes for the kingpin, the first of which would be the Innovator, the magic item/crafter kingpin - who is, alas, very problematic: The archetype can utilize cunning to prevent the expenditure of charges or one-use-items like scrolls. While the archetype has a caveat for items beyond his power (which require a difficult skill check), the problem is that the easily recharged cunning cna be used to power basically a nigh-infinite source of healing and similar limited items, rendering the ability problematic in the long run regarding WBL-assumptions. Granted, this is not something that will break all campaigns and it can be handled...but it can result in some awkwardness. Other than that, I enjoyed this one.


The second archetype would be the Mascot, who utilizes Charisma for his cunning pool and receives the option to use comedy for distraction, generating a fascination-effect. The mascot also gets better defenses when unencumbered and not wearing armor and may, at higher levels, have allies reroll botched saves - pretty neat! The final archetype would be the Weisenheimer, who can similarly smart-aleck gullible fools with endless discussions of circular logic - though said ability should probably be language-based. At 7th level, these guys can utter dire mutterings that result in targets being "Scared" - which is not a proper condition. Panicked? Cowering? Frightened? What is it? Similarly, the fluff-wise cool rumor of doom, which sabotages efficient work requires a properly codified rules-repercussion to supplement its cool fluff and narrative potential. A cool archetype, but one that work only on a story-basis, which is a pity.


The pdf also provides a new magic item to grant a skill trick and 3 good feat-choices for kingpins as well as Gretta Schwartzhund (CR 10), Billy Kitbasher (CR 6), Kaptin Big-Snout Chrika (CR 4) and Qofyr Eirnan (CR 8) - sample NPC-builds with races ranging from Urisk to kobold and half-elf, covering the archetypes.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, both on a formal and a rules-level - though, among the archetypes, there is somewhat of a dip to be noticed from a previously top-notch presentation of the base class. The pdf adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and sports unobtrusive hyperlinks and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


The Kingpin was an honest surprise for me - I did not expect too much from a pdf from author Angel R. Miranda, never having had to review one before....though developer Carl Cramér certainly has had quite a lot of his works covered. Suffice to say, I am positively surprised - the kingpin can basically be summed up as a class that does exactly what its name implies - coordinate others, being smart. The rewards for cunning and the emphasis on rewarding smart roleplay over direct combat optimization are truly interesting and a design-paradigm I very much enjoy. Furthermore, the ease in which teamwork-feats etc. can be granted to allies and the always on buffs mean that this class works pretty well for new players or those who don't want to read hundreds of books to make an efficient character. Finally, the significant array of last-second-save abilities for allies and the coaxing of options can make some frightening combos in the hands of smart players.


I said, I'd come back to that. Basically, coaxing actions set off ALL my alarm-bells in overdrive mode; Testing the class, their unmitigated costs (the second coax lack the no-reduction-caveat) actually render the class drumroll balanced in just about every context...as long as you bear one crucial thing in mind: Control those cunning points. If you do dish them out for natural 20s on skill-checks in every situation, these ones will be abused to hell; if you heed my advice and only sparingly use them...well, then, let's make that clear, then the kingpin is pretty much an awesome, rewarding class.


So much so, that, were it not for the hiccups in the archetypes and aforementioned no-restriction-clause missing...I'd quite frankly slap 5 stars + seal of approval on this book, mainly because it captures pretty well the playing experience of a kingpin mastermind and does so with a bit of rules-innovation to boot...sans breaking the balance. In spite of its minor flaws, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 4 stars and a recommendation to check this out at the low asking price - good job, everyone!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Kingpin
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[PFRPG] Phantasia Zoologica Volume I: Cats, Dogs & Horses
by Bennett S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2016 14:25:59

5/5 - This product is as-advertised. If you need that niche filled, look no further.


Why did I buy this? What did I actually get?
I’ve always enjoyed the 152-crayon box approach to monsters, and I was excited to see the same variety applied to those animals tied closer to human society. And we get exactly what’s advertised on the front, plus equipment!


Have I used this, or will I use this?
I haven’t busted this out yet, but I’m currently running a Paizo AP - once I start a new one, I would hope to incorporate some of this into whatever the campaign turns out to be. I may mine this for ideas to convert to my recently started Dungeon World campaign as well.


How is the fluff?
Enjoyable: each breed gets a little info about personality, and its interactions with nature and societies, without implying a setting - and I consider that a plus with this type of resource. Though illustrations are nice, it’s still a little disappointing that the statblocks are without the descriptive sentence or two at the top.


How are the mechanics?
Each statblock comes with it’s own unique ability or spin that presents a lot of variety, while keeping it in a low CR range. Sometimes, it’s the Khyang Wild Ass, who’s sure of foot and thick furred, or the Coon Cat, who’s Intelligence (not the score, but an ability) makes it easy to train. Some are less distinct, but still serve their purpose. Chapter 4 offers equipment, both mundane and magical - one of the neater non-magical items is a scrollcase harness, fitted for a dog with two bone scrollcases attached. Animal prices, as well as rules for familiars and animal companions bring the book to completion.


How’s the artwork?
The book is well-illustrated, and has distinct artwork for each breed. Though I prefer color illustrations because I do most of my gaming through VTT, I really enjoy what’s presented here, and the style would make it easy to color quickly myself.


How’s readability?
The layout is simple, printer-friendly B&W. No complaints here.


Was the price fair?
I paid $5.59 for this, which for 65 pages of content (72 total) is a great price in my book.


Favorite part?
The elven dog, and it’s terrifying bark! On top of combat mechanics, the bark can be heard up to 5 miles away.


Least favorite part?
From a personal perspective, I’m not big on horses. Nothing to detract from the book itself, but that chapter doesn’t grab me in the same way the cats and dogs do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Phantasia Zoologica Volume I: Cats, Dogs & Horses
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Stock Art: Rabbit Archer
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2016 01:09:49

Nicely done and well worth it. I like how it came in several formats.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Rabbit Archer
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