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Hybrid Class: Luminary
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/19/2017 04:48:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 9 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The luminary class, chassis-wise, receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and also receives 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The luminary receives spontaneous spellcasting governed by Charisma, with maximum spell level being 6th. His spells are drawn from the mesmerist list.

The luminary's signature tool and skill set would be occult photography - they begin play with a camera obscura that requires access to an alchemist lab to properly clean and set up each day. This device only works for the respective luminary and its hardness increases over the levels. It can be repaired pretty easily and taking a photograph (including loading etc.) is a standard action. A regular photo generates a flash of harmless light in a 20 ft.-cone. The less harmless manipulations, however, can be used a number of times per day equal to character level + Charisma modifier. It should be noted that taken photographs are tracked separately - class level +ü Cha-mod of these may be taken at a given level.

Speaking of manipulations: The luminary can adjust the flash of the camera to inflict fire damage in the area affected, dealing 1d6 points of fire damage, +1 d6 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. As a swift action, the area of effect can be adjusted to instead affect a 20 ft.-long, 5 ft. wide line. The Ref-save to halve the damage scales with levels, following the 10 + 1/2 class level + Charisma mod-formula. 11th level increases the range to 30 ft. First level also nets hypnotic stare.

At 2nd level, the luminary receives a manipulation, basically the talents of the class - another one is gained every even level thereafter. These include energy substitutions for the aforementioned fire flash, making the camera double as a spyglass, making alchemical photographs (that double as potions), getting a kirlian camera-style aura lens...and, VERY cool from a tactical perspective, setting a timer for the camera, which opens up all types of cool tricks! Higher level manipulations make use of the belief that cameras capture your essence, inflicting Wisdom or Charisma drain. Short-range staggering that increases in severity over the levels, higher-level dispels via the flash...the array of manipulations is damn cool. Similarly, higher level luminaries may elect to take more photos in a given round, generate progressively more potent cloud-effects or learn mesmerist tricks that can be implanted via photographs. And yes, going Fatal Frame /project Zero on spirits (and even the living!) is very much possible! Heck yes!

The propensity for light and darkness also net the luminary darkvision at 2nd level alongside bonuses to saves. 3rd level nets bold stare, with every 4th level thereafter imposing further effects. Once again, a sufficient diversity of options can be found here. 4th level nets a scaling dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. The capstones, 4 of which are provided, contain attribute-bonuses, powerful scrying or even a phylactery-style Dorian Gray-photograph. The final option duplicates 1/day sympathy, which is not properly italicized in the text. It should also be noted that

As is the tradition with Purple Duck Games-classes, we receive a massive array of favored class options beyond the confines of the core races, including rarer races and those found within Porphyra. The favored class options presented are pretty neat. The feats contained herein extend beyond the default +x class feature uses and include longer lines when using the flash in lines, preparing the flash for increased DCs and limited daily use circular flashes in a 30 ft.-radius. Instant photography development and ranged feints can also be found here.

3 mundane pieces of equipment, the new photographer profession and considerations of the introduction of photography into a fantasy context further help making the insertion of the class as seamless as possible, with a sample CR 9 ratfolk luminary sample NPC closing the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, bordering on good, on a formal level. The rules-language, however, is pretty precise, even though imho an introductory sidebar explaining the difference of uses, photos, etc. would have made the class a bit easier to grasp - didactically, it could be simpler. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column color-standard, with the awesome cover art being the only one in the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

All right, before we begin, let me go on a slight tangent: Photography is a crucial part of our cultural development. There is a phenomenon called the "visual turn", which denotes photography as a paradigm shift in our development as a species. Beyond its depiction in Hawthorne's classic "House of the Seven Gables", daguerreotypes changed how we perceive the world and ultimately, our selves: Up to this point, only portraits and thus, the filter of art and patronage, was used to depict us, with mirrors being expensive. As such, the unflinching and harsh rendition of our as-is-status and the immediacy of the experience (in spite of early photography requiring a LOT of long sitting around sans moving) changed our focus; it was no longer the written word that held primacy of concepts - a single photo could convey a cornucopia of information. It also went hand in hand with the 3 grand insults to the human's ego, tying into the third of them - we are not only not masters of our own minds, we are also not masters of our perception.

The subjectivity of our own ways of seeing the world and the anxiety resulting from seeing in black and white an artifact of, ostensibly, a more precise reality, can directly be linked to the increasing prevalence in horror and ultimately, the dethroning of the concept of an observer's objectivity, while also establishing a hierarchy of power centered on the gaze that would later be instrumental in our reforms of the systems of law and punishment in general. Yes, the topic is very near and dear to my heart.

Anyways, the pdf, alas, uses "camera obscura" as a name woefully wrong; a camera obscura is basically a projector, a primitive form of cinema, if you will - the term was coined by Johannes Kepler, who btw. also noticed that our retinas receive an inverted and reversed picture of the world, which is subsequently realigned by our brain, but that as an aside. The camera obscura was, in essence, a farther developed take on the pinhole camera that shares several properties with the laterna magica.

While both Descartes and Locke used the camera obscura as a metaphor for human understanding and while its shape was later developed into that of a photographic camera, it is NOT, I repeat, NOT a photograph taking camera as we understand the term today. It is, however, correct that back in the day when daguerrotypy was invented, there were no terms for photographic cameras and the first of daguerrotypes were shot on what amounts to a camera obscura by the terms then employed. Utterly useless tangent for the functionality f the class? Perhaps - but it is still something I felt the need to clarify. Ähem, where was I?

Oh yes, the profane banalities of analyzing the PFRPG-class. Let me lower my brows and get rid of my pince-nez. Aaron Hollingsworth's luminary, from a design-perspective, is a well-made hybrid class in every sense of the word. The class employs complex mechanics in a cool combination and feels distinct and different from its parents. More amazingly, it indeed plays differently from both mesmerist and alchemist and has a concise identity that extends beyond the confines of either parent class. It is, in short, different than the sum of its parts, which renders it a success in my book. While the tangent above may sound like a stuck-up scholar's nerdrage (and it kinda is), that should in no way take away from the fact that this class manages to translate photography into gaming mechanics in a concise and well-presented manner that retains mechanical viability and relevance. In short, this is a very good hybrid class.

Granted, the editing could be tighter and similarly, the concept is not even close to being exhausted - the theme and engine provided practically demand expansion and can carry a vast amount of further tricks. In short - this is actually a hybrid class where I wished it had more room to shine and one where I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more. Oh, it is also, to my knowledge, the author's first book I analyzed and as such, it receives the freshman bonus. Let it be known that I am pretty impressed and hope to see more of this quality...and more luminary material. My final verdict for this class clocks in at 4.5 stars, and in spite of the hiccups, the verdict is rounded up to 5 due to the freshman bonus and the strength and execution of the concept.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Luminary
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/18/2017 07:24:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second booklet of essays and thoughts by the eponymous Raven Crowking (aka Daniel J. Bishop) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 50 pages, though these are made for the a5 (6'' by 9''-standard) - you can fit 4 of them on a sheet of paper if you're like me and tend to print things out.

We begin this pdf with the basics and, even if one is an experienced judge, it may help to recap the steps: 1) Brainstorm. In the beginning, there was the idea. Simple as that. 2) is a golden rule. I mean it. If every designer followed the rule, my job'd be much more pleasant: "Never base the adventure on expectations of what players will do." Seriously, you can try to rig the game, manipulate structure, etc. - no pre-written module will survive contact with a table of creative minds intact. It's simple as that. If the module requires a thoroughly railroady array of sequential decisions that could go any way, then we have an issue on our hands. 3) is more complex and less obvious: The goal of players in a module is to exert control over the situation. As simple as that may sound, the ramifications of this truth are much harder to control from the perspective of the author - but at the same time, this provides a means of structuring leverage to employ to keep things on track.

4) is not necessarily correct, but true as a design tenet: No group will find everything. Well, I could rattle off instances where my players did find everything sans me cheating or the like, but they are crazy experienced veterans of the toughest caliber...so yeah - from a designer's point of view, hiding too much can be bad. 5) is important: Remain true to the setting. The PCs, via smarts and insane luck have managed to accomplish impossible deed xyz? Then they DESERVE the huge reward. Similarly, if they screwed up, they SHOULD get hosed. Beyond these, context, an awareness of possible introduction spots and the dynamics of the table are important - and so is the need to make it clear that another GM/judge/referee can run your module - the latter is more critical than you'd think: Designer-blindness and established group-behavior paradigms can easily thwart that one.

The basics out of the way, we come to the advanced components - and it is here that the booklet becomes more interesting, as it halts to analyze the things players take for granted at the table: To wit: E.g. unimpeded communications, risk/reward-levels, etc. - as soon as these basic premises are compromised in one way or another, things get interesting. A number of classic (and new) sample modules are used to illustrate the clever use and modifications of such basic premises...yes, beyond the confines of DCC. What if e.g. seating arrangements suddenly matter?

The advanced adventure craft rules are similarly helpful: There should, for example, be multiple clues to unearth a given piece of information. This may sound obvious, but many, many investigation scenarios still get that aspect horribly wrong. Similarly, offstage material and the like need to be considered alongside with player and character proclivities. If your only hook for gold-greedy murder-hobos, but not the fanatics of god xyz, then your module may need diversification in that regard; even more important would be the fallacy of alignment-associated behavior. I have never made a secret out of my conviction that alignments suck, are anathema to the roleplaying of complex characters and should be purged with fire. More important would be the fact that they often act as a lazy shorthand for designers: Good hook, neutral hook, done. Lame. So yeah. Objectives, allies, bosses and the like are given similar, deep consideration - and so is the sudden and dramatic reveal is a tried and true and much cherished experience that resonates with all of us...but at the same time, it is harder than you'd anticipate to pull off in face of a jaded crew of players. Thus, detailed consideration, including several modules quoted for reference, can guide a Gm to excel at employing this narrative device.

Beyond these, we also take stock on meaningless encounters - when and how to use them, for example. And why they can and should matter. While a given encounter may have no benefit to the story told, we all interact with it nonetheless; as such, the lack of a previously ascribed relevance towards the proceedings of the given plot, ultimately, generates an absence that GM and players alike can fill with speculation, observations, etc. - often enhancing the general immersion of a given setting. I am willing to bet that pretty much every GM worth his or her salt has, at one point, just taken up player-speculation uttered in the aftermath of such an encounter and greatly enhanced the overall flexibility and fungibility of a given module.

Next up would be a component near and dear to my heart: The realm of dreams. With concise observations regarding the nature and significance of dreams, the pdf explores them as a possible setting as well as a narrative device. I am deeply sorry for all groups wherein this amazing means of changing the scenery has not yet been employed - so yeah, two thumbs up here. The next chapter would also be near and dear to my heart: Killing fields. As anyone who's been following my reviews for a while knows, I am pretty enamored with the tactical new RPGs, but at the same time a fan of rules-light gaming...but regardless of system ultimately employed, my sensibilities very much dictate that I want a concise world...and this ultimately means that none of my games sport CR-appropriate challenges. Various sub-categories exist, but their use in a given game, apart from establishing goals and the like, is not to be underestimated as far as I'm concerned.

This leads into the next aspect, namely fairness and entitlement - and, for the designer, the contemplation of when something's too much. There ultimately is no easy reply to this complex question, but there are some aspects to consider: Reaping what one has sown and player agenda are important; similarly, "rocks fall, all die" is not fun for anyone, unless it has been telegraphed properly. To give you an example: In one of the classic Frog god Games-modules, my players went past all warning signs (6 sarcophagi) to forcefully dig into a room where they anticipated a mother load of treasure. When said room had a lich and mummy-monks came forth from the niches, they were wipes, with only one PC escaping by the skin of his teeth. None complained about it being unfair...though I have seen on boards and tables players grow a sense of entitlement due to the relatively narrow structure of adventures championed since the 3.X-days. The structure of assumed mid-adventure-progression has done some harm to the sense of danger, but also to the freedom the PCs ultimately should have. A good GM can counteract this, but it is still something to be aware of when designing modules.

Similarly, the pdf does mention horror, but here, I'd like to interject my own observations: Horror follows a different paradigm. Horror assumes a willingness on part of the players and player characters to assume the position of being (relatively) powerless and to be fine with that; similarly, skewed scales of balance are pretty much what the genre thrives on. As such, the biggest obstacles towards good horror-gaming, at least in my opinion, often does not lie within the structure of the modules, but in the mind-set of the players and PCs. You can't expect a feisty paladin who usually jumps face first with blades drawn into the maw of demons to suddenly quake in his boots at the sight of a rotten carcass. It is a matter of theme and genre and it is my firm conviction that establishing assumptions, but at the table and, in some instances, in modules, can seriously help retaining a cohesive and rewarding mood and playing experience. Tl;dr: Horror's not for everyone. It's my favorite mode of gameplay, directly followed by my pretty dark interpretation of fantasy, but some players derive no joy from having their PCs die or become mad in horrible ways. How far is too far? It, ultimately, always depends.

The assumptions and options presented by in-game day-jobs and notes on several ideas to establish a monster-canon can be found here as well - including "The Following Thing", a stag-headed beast in a black suit, ending the pdf certainly on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to the relatively printer-friendly 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf features a couple of nice full-color artworks. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Daniel J. Bishop's second collection of dispatches is better than the first in a variety of ways; for one, the information contained herein is less colored by preaching to the choir; instead, we have helpful and well-reasoned observations regarding the finer details and components of the art of adventure-design. There are, frankly, plenty of books out there that cover the basics, but this pdf deals not primarily with the basic craftsmanship aspect, but rather the artistry of making modules - and this renders it, at least to my sensibilities, significantly more rewarding. Its respective points are illustrated well with a canon of excellent modules as reference-bibliography, if you will, and while I don't have all of them, I do have a lot and could ascertain the points being adequately supported by the quoted material.

The accomplishment of this collection of essays lies in the fact that it can be seen as a well-crafted reminder for designers and advanced judges/referees/GMs alike regarding the aspects that can make both an adventure and a whole campaign rise from the mediocrity towards being truly memorable. In short: This does not focus on providing guidelines to making something decent or just "good", this is focused on helping the reader go the step beyond, reach for the lofty levels of creativity and excellence. As such, it may not be the best book for novice GMs, authors or judges, but for everyone with a sufficient level of experience, this can well be considered to be one of the better GM/author-advice books, regardless of setting employed. Many pieces of advice given most certainly pertain contexts far beyond the scope of DCC. As such, I consider this is well worth getting and it receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 2
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10 Monsters - A Basic Bestiary - V.1
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2017 04:12:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little bestiary clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/monsters by type/CR, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with the blessed ring at CR 6 - an immobile ring of Large mushrooms that may not move...but it can spray devastating bursts of acid at foes. After entering the ring, it generates a dome to rest in, so yeah, sniping into camp is impeded as well. Sounds like your average adventuring nightmare? Nope, for there is a twist: These plants are actually good, can detect alignments and only assault evil creatures - they represent basically a powerful safe zone to rest and recuperate for the good guys. Creepy? Yup. But also damn cool. Oh...and they don't make much difference between things - if one being inside is evil, the digestion routine begins...ouch.

The cadavalier at CR 9 is a pun worthy of yours truly; it is also an undead, quasi-centauric entity with retributive bone spurs, powerful leaping capabilities and serious armor training. While I noticed a minor typo in the flavor text, I was pleasantly surprised to see notes on advanced creatures and creating these undead. At CR 7, cavern giants would actually be pretty kind beings - uncommon for the udnerdark. Beyond their cauliflower ears, their rules also enhance their theme - they absolutely love wrestling, allowing them to inflict nonlethal damage, Dex and Str-damage...you get the idea. On a nitpicky side - their thrown stalactites should probably inflict piercing damage, not untyped damage.

Cavernivores are more straight-forward - at CR 12, they are huge reptiles with bioluminous tendrils. Think of them as basically the reptile equivalent of angler fish. Torturer Devils would be, now that kytons no longer are straight devils, the stand-in - immune to the effects of social skills, they are a brutally efficient build with extended threat ranges and multipliers and a nasty pain-debuff - that should probably be codified as a [pain]-effect.

At CR 25, the gloom is a living nightmare - bald humanoids with no face, exaggerated smiles full of black teeth in funeral clothing, they clock in at a mighty CR 25. They receive exceedingly powerful blades, are absolutely silent and receive both sneak attack and opportunist - basically, they are high-end, nigh-unstoppable supernatural assassins. Deadly. CR 10 brings us Old Man Winter, the oversized axe-wielding corrupted fey that draws life from those slain, who actually, in spite of the type, makes for a deadly adversary. Oh, of course, he has ice-themed SPs as well as the option to conjure forth icy winds for soft crowd control.

The CR 9 Tamazulim is a gigantic, warty toad that emits a truly despicable stench - obviously, it receives a tongue grab...but it may also breathe lightning. That being said, from the flavor-text, I expected the stench quality here. Oh well. The CR 7 Phantom Troll is a damn cool idea: You see, these guys are not only great hunters and beings that heal by inflicting damage and cause Str-damage - they're also naturally invisible. I really enjoy this critter, but one ability contains a cut-copy-past remnant referencing the invisible stalker. They still rank as one of the most challenging CR 7 critters you can throw at players.

The final critter herein would be once again one for the higher CRs - 23, to be precise. The Typhoeon has a humanoid torso and head, but the lower body of a colossal snake, with serpent-shaped arms that sport serpent heads where the hands should be. Oh, and wings. It can fly. In a minor discrepancy of fluff and statblock, the fluff notes the creature to have serpent heads, while the respective abilities reference dragon-heads...which btw. can both basically generate flame-thrower style cones each round.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay; I noticed a couple of unnecessary hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf actually comes bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The pdf has no artworks.

Which brings me to a central aspect - personally, I prefer substance over style and this pdf does feature some cool critters with interesting abilities and evocative concepts - I can envision quite a few of them better than similar creatures, so as far as I'm concerned, for the low and fair price, this does a nice job. That being said, not all of Derek Blakely's critters are amazing and the editing/formatting hiccups make themselves felt in such a small file. At the same time, I will actually use a few of the critters herein, which, considering the amount of critters at my disposal, is a sign of neat design. I should probably round down from my final verdict of 3.5 stars, all things considered, but considering the fair price-point and the gems that are herein, my final verdict will instead round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
10 Monsters - A Basic Bestiary - V.1
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Kineticists of Porphyra IV
by Trent H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2017 15:07:47

While this book did not have all of the cool stuff that other books in the series did, the entropist is basically a new class with how different it is and the kinetic lancer is just awesome (Final Fantasy Dragoon!), while the new infusions and wild talents help round out some other elements. I would not grab this without at least having Kineticists of Porphyra II though, since to get the most out of it, you are going to need the Viscera element. Still, if you liked the series, this is gonna be an awesome book for you!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra IV
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Vigilantes of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/12/2017 04:35:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment in the Porphyran class option-series clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 28 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pages are A5 (6'' by 9'')-booklet-sized, allowing you to print up to 4 of them on a standard A4/letterpack-page, so let's take a look!

We begin with the dread pirate (somewhat unfortunately named - this is now the 4th class option I know that uses this name), who replaces seamless disguise with a +5 circumstance bonus to maintain his disguise, but does not apply the bonus to using vigilante talents while in social identity. Instead of 1st level's social talent, he gains Sea Legs. Interesting modification: If the character selects the avenger specialization, his Fort-save-progression changes to good, while his Reflex save becomes bad. For the purpose of alcohol imbibing, he treats his Fortitude save as the Will-save granted by vigilante-progression. The archetype also receives access to several unique social talents and vigilante talents - the former would contain, for example hold breath, enhancing a ship's speed for a short duration or tavern reknown, which is basically a micro-reknown in his favorite dives. The vigilante talents include Siege Engineer sans prereqs, later Siege Gunner, better fighting with a hook hand, not losing Dex-bonus while climbing and losing ACP in the lighter armors or bonuses via shouting orders.

At 4th level, drinking grog can provide benefits, depending on vigilante specialization - either rage or bonuses to AC and saves; these are upgraded at 12th level. 7th level nets Drunkard's Recovery, including a better iteration at 13th level, replacing 7th level's social talent. All in all, a better vigilante-ized version of the 3.X PrC of the same name with some drinking-related material mixed in. Solid.

The mustached mauler (someone reads Dr. McNinja, obviously!) gets a decreased array of skills, only 4 + Int mod, and is treated as having brawler levels equal to vigilante level for Improved Unarmed Damage purposes when in vigilante identity. They also gain good Fort-saves. While in the mustache identity form, they do not receive Wisdom to Will-saves and they may not benefit from Int- or Wis-bonuses, but may select talents from both avenger and stalker specialization lists, with the exclusion of effects that are based on hidden strike. The archetype receives a monk-y Cha-bonus to AC (instead of the monk's Wis)and the talents contain the option to execute Awesome Blows, self-granting Charisma modifier DR 1/round (instead of the AC-bonus) and high-level negation of magic weapon enhancement bonuses. Also cool: Another talent can net you the option to ignore special weapon abilities via your ignorance score - 1/4 class level worth of such bonuses may be ignored! (Pretty cool - never saw that one before!) All in all, a rather hilarious archetype that may not be flavor-wise appropriate for all games, but for a gonzo game, it can be pretty cool!

Thirdly, we would get the archetype that is considered to be the star herein - the shapeshifter. Instead of the 1st level social talent and the vigilante talents gained at 4th, 8th and 12th levels, they can shapeshift (with the usual +10 Disguise bonus) - this is done via the shapeshifting pool, equal to thrice the class level. This not only powers the archetype abilities, but also, via the duration it has, doubles as the resource to maintain the vigilante identity. The shapeshifted form is represented by a shapeshifting specialization - unless I miscounted, a total of 11 such specializations are provided; each has several SPs that can be paid for via the aforementioned pool. The respective specializations employ different scaling progressions and degrees of choice and they, ultimately, also allow for different degrees of play styles. Whether you go for e.g. natural weapons via the draconic specialization or assumption of angelic aspects, the respective progressions diverge sufficiently to provide a strong leitmotif. The vigilante talents provided for the archetype allow for the taking of an additional specialization starting at 6th level, at -4 vigilante levels and quicker on the fly changing. the capstone nets +2 specializations. I like this archetype; while there are some minor hiccups lower-case attribute, etc., it is per se a nice offering.

The pdf also contains feats: Magical Children can take one at 1st level to instead gain the benefits of the sorc /wiz or druid spell-list; there is one that reduces the 24-hour-cool-down of vigilante class features to 12; a cool charge/Cleave-synergy feat. better benefits after repeat exposure to frightening presence is cool...but e.g. Piercing Charge, which should, wording-wise, build on the previous feat, has some kind of wording hiccups that makes it hard for me to discern its intent.

The social talents provided for the class are intriguing: Better cover when posing as an artist, wide-spread contacts, a social grace/Skill Focus-synergy trick, a high-level wordy wit follow-up, magical craftsmanship, Brilliant Plan as a build-up from Safe House via Safe House Resources, efficient use of improvised weapons... and have I mentioned wordy wit? This one lets you ready actions and conceal them, much like Conceal Spell (which is not properly capitalized)...pretty cool.

The pdf also contains several vigilante talents, some of which are based on Cleave and the new options introduced herein, while another unlocks a race trait the vigilante does not usually possess while in vigilante identity. This once constitutes a bit of a fallacy in that it assumes all race traits to be equal in power when they're clearly not - some sort of scaling mechanism would be appropriate here. 1/day anticipate thoughts (more often at higher levels), gaining a sidekick and modifying contacts to grant the vigilante, for example, temporary access to combat or teamwork feats - which is generally cool. However, RAW, neither contact, nor vigilante must meet the prerequisites for the feats granted, which renders that ability seriously overkill and in need of the usual caveat, in spite of the ability not working under duress.

The pdf also features an extensive list of solid Porphyran-races favored class options for the vigilante as well as a very fun level 5 mustached mauler, including a nice boon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are a bit inconsistent in both formal and rules-language departments - in some sections, even complex ability-interactions are done right...while in others, we have nonstandard wording, non-capitalized feats and the like. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf has some nice 1-page full-color artworks I haven't seen before and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

When one ignores the contributions of veterans N. Jolly and Perry Fehr, then this would be Blake Morton's first lead-author book, unless I am sorely mistaken. The good news here most definitely is that there is certainly promise here. While I've frankly seen shapeshifting done to death in various iterations, I still consider the archetype dealing with exactly that topic to be among the better representations of the concept. Now, personally, I'm a huge fan of Dr. McNinja, so the mustached mauler pulls right at my heart's strings...and it also has some actually creative rules-tricks I haven't seen done before, which is a big plus to ole' me. That being said, I was pretty underwhelmed by the pirate, who, to me, feels a bit unfocused. There also are some instances herein where the rules-language could have been more precise, lacks an anti-abuse caveat or deviates from the standard.

While not bad on their own, the number of them does rise over the course of the pdf to a level, where I have to penalize the book. Still, considering the gems herein, I believe this to be, as a whole, on the upper side of the rating scale, if only by a margin - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars...and while I'd usually round down, I tend to offer a bit of leeway to lead author freshman offerings, which is why I will round up for the purpose of the usual platforms.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Porphyra
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Psychic Class: Overlord
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/09/2017 08:33:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so the overlord class chassis consists of d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields, excluding tower shields. They gain full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves and at 4th level, he gains spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting of up to 4th level, drawn from the bloodrager spell-list, though he casts the spells as psychic spells.

Overlords are somewhat powered by their own inflated sense of self-worth, and as such, at 1st level, they gain importance, which they may employ 1/day when in a combat encounter with a higher challenge rating than their class level as a swift action. This is a flawed little restriction - for one, I think the ability should be based on the encounter's CR, not an individual component's CR. Secondly, I am pretty sure that's supposed to be character level, not class level. Otherwise, characters dipping into the class can more freely access the feature than those that invest several levels, which makes no sense to me. The ability grants the overlord a bonus to AC and atk equal to the difference between the CR and their class level, minimum +1. The ability may be used an additional time per day at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

2nd level nets the overlord the first command. Commands can be activated as an immediate action and may be employed a number of times equal to 1/2 class level per encounter. sigh No, there is no cool-down between encounters, which means that my usual rant applies. Picture breaking into a room: You see one goblin sentry. If you eliminate him before reinforcements arrive, you can spam these; if the reinforcements arrive before the goblin's eliminated, you still have the original 1-goblin-encounter array of per-encounter abilities. Makes no sense to me. Why not simply introduce a cool-down mechanic based on a non-fluid time-frame? Even Path of War uses the like. Anyways, unless otherwise noted, the commands grant bonuses or penalties based on Charisma modifier and an additional command is gained at 4th level and every even level thereafter.

Adding twice the overlord's Charisma modifier, for example, would be one benefit - and it, in conjunction with a good ambushing set-up, can be pretty devastating. Penalizing defensive casting, temporarily suppressing conditions - there are some interesting options, though the suppressing of fatigue allows for the temporary negation of fatigue-based cooldown mechanics, which can be pretty wonky: So, let's take a barbarian: Cooldown fatigue suppressed due to command, so what happens once the suppression ends? Do the rage rounds during cooldown stack? I assume, but I'm not 100% sure. Interesting: Making an enemy caster use +1 spell of the same level they're casting; if none is available, the next lower spell level is used to determine the tax. This is superior to e.g. the defensive casting penalty, so it probably should have a minimum level. Weird: How does this interact with SPs?

Bringing flying creatures down sans save is imho too strong. Problematic from a rules-perspective: When not surprised, adding Cha-mod to initiative, which can be split among allies. Now RAW, you roll initiative and can't use an immediate action until it was your turn, which makes the command, RAW, not work. The intent is clear, but yeah. Better movement, save bonuses etc. are interesting - but oddly, e.g. dazzling foes can also be found here. In short: The internal balance of the commands is all over the place, with several options vastly superior to others.

3rd level nets toughness as a bonus feat as well as adding class level to DCs to intimidate and demoralize the overlord. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter nets a bonus feat chosen from a very restrictive selection. As a capstone, commands may be issued as a free action, even when it's not the overlord's turn (nice catch there!) and Charisma modifier-based benefits are increased by 2.

The class gets several favored class options for both the core races as well as some porphyran races and we close with a sample character at level 1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, language and syntax generally are pretty good as well, though the class does run afoul of a couple of hiccups within the peculiarities of some of the rarer aspects. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover. Cool: The pdf, in spite of its brevity, comes with full bookmarks.

Sasha Hall's overlord is an interesting class. I like the self-importance angle and several aspects of the design here, though the based per-encounter-framework is something that rubs me the wrong way. Judging from diverse responses towards the topic, I am not alone in that. So yeah, I wish this employed a proper cooldown mechanic instead. More important for finding a final verdict, though, would certainly be the fact that the commands, the unique selling proposition of the class, wildly oscillate in power: Remember, these are reliable, no save, no SR debuffs/buffs that can be used with line of sight - you don't even need line of effect! Considering the potency of some and the impotence of others, the whole section made me feel like it could have used more minimum level requirements for some and power-upgrades for others.

In the end, the class is not bad; certain groups will find the class to be fun and interesting. At the same time, though, I can't unanimously recommend the class due to the work it imposes on rules-conscious groups. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Psychic Class: Overlord
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Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2017 09:29:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the massive Porphyran player's guides for the diverse regions of the patchwork planet clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with a massive 58 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After the obligatory and well-written, evocative introductory prose that establishes leitmotifs for the region, we begin with taking stock of the races one can find within this illustrious region of the patchwork planet, beginning with a favorite of mine, namely the psionic elan - though they have been changed in a way that should make the race more palpable for low-powered games: While still aberrations, elan here are considered to be charismatic and pretty adept at negotiation. Furthermore, their powerful resilience and resistance abilities, usually counteracted by being feared and/or loathed in-game, have been removed, but so has their aberrant nature drawback, making the resulting take on the elan feel more conservative and less disturbing. Certainly an incarnation I am going to use in games where the flavor and strong internal powers of their original iteration do not fit the bill.

Next up would be the half-cyclops, who receives +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, low-light vision, 1/day augury, counts as humanoid and giant, receives +2 to Perception and gain familiarity with cyclops weapons. They also always gain Intimidate as a class skill and ignore Charisma penalties to it. Considering the 12 - 13 pt-standard of Porphyran races, this fits perfectly and the well-rounded array of abilities should prove to result in no issues in even low-powered games - no complaints! Hobgoblins gain +2 Con and Wis, are goblinoids with darkvision 60 ft., defense training versus humans, +1 to Stealth and Survival (+3 in hills), + to overrun or bull rush, but only while standing. Additionally, they gain +4 Stealth in hills and may move through natural difficult terrain - unimpeded, I assume. They obviously gain hobgoblin weapon familiarity as well. Again, no complaints.

Humans raised in the area begin with firearm proficiency as well as +2 to Handle Animals and Ride, +2 to saves versus fear (and a 1/day reroll of a natural 1 save versus such an effect) as well as the skilled trait. Again, no complaints. The Polkan got a nasty thrashing from yours truly in its previous iteration - here, it has been refined to be a monstrous humanoid with +2 Wis, low-light vision, the ability to retry failed Diplomacy checks and a properly codified quadruped trait. All races feature alternate racial traits, which correspond in power-level to what they replace. Somewhat annoying: No age, height and weight tables are provided, which is the one tarnishing aspect of the otherwise best racial section in a Porphyran player's guide to date.

Now if the rules above haven't tipped you off and neither has the font on the cover, guess what: The Hinterlands of Kesh are pretty much the Wild West fantasy county of Porphyra and as such, firearms are less expensive here, with Ulian flint as a material explaining the decrease in cost of blackpowder etc. - and yep, that actually makes playing a blackpowder-using first level party viable sans draining them of all resources. Kudos. "But what about setting-consistency?", you're asking, "Isn't Endy totally anal-retentive when it comes to internal logic bugs and the like?" Well, yes, I am, but the pdf actually provides valid reasons why the Ulian-infused weaponry has not radically changed warfare in other regions. Kudos for maintaining campaign world consistency!! Speaking of which: Yes, the region comes, as always, with a nice full-color map.

From the general to the detail, we are next introduced to the 5 major settlements of the Hinterlands of Kesh, all of which not only come with their own flavorful introduction text of local color, but also feature proper statblocks - from racially diverse Bailyton to melancholy Dupressix, where gunslinger converge to make names for themselves or perish in the hills to the fiendish and reviled half-cyclops bastion of the eye, the settlements evoke a grand and glorious sense of unique flavor - and yes, dear readers - if you're looking for a place to jam SagaRPG's criminally underrated Darkwood adventures, this region would probably do quite nicely with a geographic expansion - thanks to Porphyra's patchwork nature, I see no reason why this would not be feasible.

Within these regions, healing, yet despoiled remnants can be found and a place called "Tombstone Tower" contains the source of the elan's unnaturally long life. And frankly, if you can't cook some cool blend of the Dark Tower-myth and this up, I don't know what to say: The regions breathe evocative, colorful and amazing adventure potential. A ton of settlement qualities, employed in generating them, from being phantasmal to being a city of the dead, further enrich a GM's arsenal and speaking of which: Do you need a generous smattering of fluff-only NPC-descriptions with typical locations and signature possessions? You'll be in luck, for the pdf provides just that.

The pdf also provides a hybrid class for your perusal, the blackpowder disciple, which mixes gunslinger and monk and gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms as well as light armor. They lose the monk-y abilities in heavier armor and get 3/4 BAB-progression (smart choice, as it makes the gun-math work better at mid-to-high levels than the gunslinger's full BAB-progression) as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. They add Wisdom-bonus to AC and CMD, up to class level, somewhat akin to the monk, and gain gunsmith at 1st level. They may use firearms as 1d6 bludgeoning weapons (1d8 for two-handed ones) and may Weapon Finesse with these and yes, enhancement bonuses to damage and attack still apply when used thus (EXCELLENT catch! Seriously, I was pretty impressed there!) and full Strength-bonus is added. The base damage increases at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, up to 2d8/2d10, respectively.

Now here's the make-or-break aspect: The class can flurry with firearms and combine ranged and melee attacks...and the rules-language actually manages to pull off the blending, including notes on Rapid Shot interaction/prerequisite-status. As a minor complaint, the table does call this way of the gun, when the actual text calls it flurry of blows - way of the gun denotes bonus feats gained at 1st, 2nd and ever 4 levels thereafter as well as a order-like ability array. Basically, each of the ways available has its own feat-list and maneuver array - one such maneuver is gained at 1st level, one at 3rd and from there on out, every 4 levels net another maneuver.

1st level also nets a Wisdom modifier-strong ki pool and a specific set of ki-based deeds, though these remain more limited that of the gunslinger, focusing on retaining the functionality of the gun and tricks like utility shot, which is gained at 3rd level. 2nd level nets evasion, 3rd Point Blank Master . 4th level upgrades the ki pool to 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier and while the character has one ki left, he does not provoke AoOs while reloading firearms. Expenditure of 1 ki point adds an additional attack at full BAB to a full attack or increase the range increment of a gun...or gain a dodge bonus to AC, all available as a swift action. The level also nets maneuver training and 5th level nets + Dex-mod damage to a gun trained with as well as a decreased misfire escalation upon misfiring the gun. 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter net faster movement and 12th level improved evasion. As a capstone, we get auto-confirmed firearm crits (OUCH!!) with an increased multiplier (double OUCH) - but then again, that is the capstone.

Now I already mentioned the way of the gun before and how it works, but considering the pretty linear progression of the base class, how many choices do we get? Well, in total we get 8 such ways and they all take up the majority of a page or slightly more than that, so yes, their options are pretty important - basically, they have the task of diversifying individual iterations of the class. Well, they do an imho better job at this task then comparable cavalier orders. The way of the fitful breeze, for example, emphasizes movement and skirmishing tactics, increasing the damage output of moving characters via precision damage and allowing for fast tumbling, higher jumps and similar shenanigans.

The way of the crushing landslide allows you to combine charges with firearm attacks - and yes, this means that you do not have to end your movement adjacent to a foe. Similarly, that way has a stone/earth theme and as such sports fortification and at highest levels, stunning overruns. The way of the grasping morass focuses on grappling and has a ki-powered grab and high-level choking grips, making that one predisposed to handling enemy casters. The way of the infinite sky is themed around dirty tricks and being more monk-y/employing improvised weaponry, while the way of the misty strand would be the Stealth-enhancing sniper's option. The way of the raging current would be the teamwork-centric/bodyguard-ish type of option, while the way of the undying ember gains fire-themed bonus damage as well as parrying capacity and a ki-powered mettle that is thankfully strongly restricted. While I'm not a big fan of the competing attack-roll parrying mechanic, it is ultimately solidly executed.

Finally, the way of the volatile flame would represent the bravo/face-type of character, whose social skills at higher levels can enhance his critical hit. In short and as a conclusion to this hybrid class: It's page-count is actually well-spent. Unlike many a hybrid class, it is more than the sum of its parts and sports several unique angles to explore. While personally, I prefer higher player-agenda classes, the respective ways and their unique playstyles seem to be pretty balanced among themselves and make it possible to generate a sufficiently broad array of character choices. Well-made and certainly one of the good hybrid classes! We btw. get a sample level 16 NPC.

Next up would be the hobgoblin black glass witch archetype, who suffers from diminished spellcasting, but receives a pool of soul points; when creatures nearby expire, these witches may draw part of their lifeforce into their soul reservoir, which can then be used to increase the potency of hexes - and yes, the archetype cannot be kitten'd! Kudos!!! As a minor complaint, I noticed a reference to "shaman" in one of the two hexes of the witch, a cut-copy-paste remnant and cosmetic, but yeah. This time, we get a sample level 11 character. The hobgoblin fervent vanguard would be a mounted inquisitor who loses the inquisitor domain and monster lore and gains mounted tactics instead of solo tactics. They also are adept at finding their prey and at 5th level, may share their bane with their mount, increasing that modification correspondingly at 12th level. The sample character (this time level 8) does come with horse companion stats as well, just fyi.

The guarded augur half-cyclops oracle gets diminished spellcasting and its own list of bonus spells as well as revelations and abilities themed around doom-speaking and foresight, including trap sense, evasion, etc. The sample character clocks in at level 9. The nomadic gun would be an elan-exclusive blackpowder disciple archetype, who gets a modified bonus feat list and replaces maneuver training with Up the Walls, blending at higher levels the maintenance of psionic focus with more damage, short-burst teleportation and high-level deceleration flurries. Very cool psionic modification, whose sample character clocks in at level 6. Finally, the polkan plainsrunner (with a level 11 sample character) can be pictured as a wide-plains ranger, galloping unimpeded through their chosen plains. The least interesting of the archetypes herein from a mechanical point of view, but flavorwise and interesting option nonetheless.

The pdf also provides an array of feats for us, which includes a psionic Mobility-upgrade that lets you expend power points to further enhance your skirmishing AC as well as a variety of Chosen-feats, which can be activated 1/day, with higher levels unlocking more uses as well as SPs. I actually liked these more than I figured I would. Nice: Reposition-synergy with allies that basically lets you push enemies into a flat-footed position for respective allies. 1/day greatly increased chances to critically hit for half-cyclops characters, quicker two-handed firearm reload, sharing an elan's repletion, first range-increment coup-de-graces...there are a lot nice feats to fill specific, seldom trod paths that make sense to me. More importantly, the prerequisite-array and respective power-level, unanimously, managed to withstand my scrutiny. The feats are viable, sans being game-breakers. Kudos - it's frankly been a while since a feat chapter managed this feat. Haha. Sorry, I'll punch myself for this later.

The pdf then goes on to provide an assortment of diverse magical weapons: The coat of gathering storms is charged by negating sneak attacks and critical hits, which may then be used to bull rush adjacent creatures. Unused charges dissipate, mind you, so no - cheesing the item is not a very good strategy. Arrows that declare war upon a target, cursed crowns, a quick-draw-enhancing holster, an anti-authoritarian blunderbuss, a magic wanted sign, nice staves...the chapter provides an interesting and well-crafted array of options.

The gieve, also known as the cyclops throwing blade, mustangs, spurs and rules for aforementioned uliun (including rules for uliun intoxication) and basically sheriff stars complement this section before we feature the amazing final part of the book - tables upon tables that denote which type of equipment is available where and for what price. These little tables are incredibly helpful when playing in a given region and prevent the GM from having to flip books - I seriously think the like should be standard for regional sourcebooks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty much top-notch on both a rules-language and a formal level; I noticed no undue accumulation of missed italicizations or similar guffaws and the rules-language is precise. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' two-column standard and the pdf features several nice full-color artworks. It should be noted that the book remains pretty printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Treyson Sanders, with additional writing by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, delivers by far the best Porphyran regional guide to date, seamlessly blending the virtues of all writers and honing them: We have Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr providing ample Porphyran lore and Treyson Sanders delivering his trademark precision feats to fill gaps in the interactions of rules. beyond that, though, we have one of the rare examples of a really cool hybrid class that gets pretty much everything right, nice archetypes and, more importantly, a region that just feels amazing: The Wild West/fantasy-crossover portrayed here is evocative, takes a bow before greats of the genre without just copying them and resonates with flair and panache. The fact that the pdf addresses the price-concerns with black powder weapons sans compromising the integrity and internal logic of Porphyra is just the frosting on an amazing book that delivers literally a ton of bang for your buck. This is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Whether for inspiration, as a regional sourcebook, for scavenging purposes or all of the above - this is worth getting, even beyond the confines of Porphyra.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Hinterlands of Kesh
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 3
by sergio p. g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 22:06:34

A very useful supplement, which explains in a simple way how to create a sandbox quite effective and complete. The author goes to the point and does not waste your time in long rambling. Essential for sandbox games.

If the rest of titles are like this are a must buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 3
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 3
by Sean N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 09:27:41

A fantastic treatise on the art and opportunity of the sandbox campaign. I am a fan of the first two items in this series, and although you do not require the first two to appreciate this work, you do see how they can build on each other.

I purchased the books based on the strength of Bishop's published adventures and his blog, and I am very happy I did. The author explains WHY he sees value in an open campaign, and then explains HOW he designs a sandbox for players to feel like they are in a living breathing world.

An informative and, dare I say, inspirational, little book. Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/11/2016 19:16:27

As usual purple ducks games puts out another great and easy to understandable product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V
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Samurai of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2016 09:01:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyran class-option series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though it should be noted that the content is formatted for A5 (6'' by 9''). So what do we get?

The samurai has always been a class defined by culture as much as by mechanics and as such, it is only suitable that this pdf begins with a contextualization of the samurai class within the framework of Porphyra....but after this brief piece of fluff, we begin with the first archetype almost immediately. This one would be the Blade of Two Minds, torn between the ideals of two orders...which also tells you from the get-go what the shtick of this archetype is: You choose two orders. You gain both class skills, but only receive the skill bonus of one; challenge bonuses may be switched via a swift action. The archetype must also select one order ability at 2nd, 8th and 15th level - though she may take one from a lower level. Beyond the obvious issue of juggling the strict requirements of two edicts (seriously, try playing that cool imba combo you came up with sans screwing up...), the archetype also loses weapon expertise. Solid, no balance-complaints here.

The second archetype would be the daimyo, who gains a banner at first level that grants its bonus to all attacks, but pays for this ability with the powerful resolve. 5th level does net resolve...but at -4 levels. 4th level nets something unique as well: If an ally within banner reach takes a penalty to atk due to using a feat (as Power Attack et al.), he decreases the penalty by 1 and by a further 1 at 10th and 16th level. This replaces mounted archery. At 8th level, allies receive +1 to damage on all attacks, increasing that by 1 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Honorable Stand's benefits are extended to all allies in reach of the banner and 17th level allows for the expenditure of two resolve to save an ally in range of the banner, instead letting him survive at -1 hit points. These banner tricks, though, eliminate the whole resolve-improving progression. Basically a samurai with a powerful buff-aura...fits thematically.

Kajiya are master blacksmiths and add their class level to Craft (weapons) and Craft (armor), forged himself, treated as though he had Master Craftsman and gains Craft Magic Weapons and Armor at 4th level. His weapon expertise extends to all weapons he has crafted himself (nice!) and 5th level provides weapon training with weapons he forged, with each additional 5 levels either increasing it or providing an advanced weapons training. He does pay for this with the mounted tricks as well as banner, though.

The Kamen Blade receives basically the vigilante's dual identity, with his identities being designated as either "social" or "masked." Kamen Blade transformation is facilitated by a special, magical mask and takes but 5 rounds...but is accompanied by loud noises, lights...if you have ever seen a kamen rider, power rangers, sailor moon, etc. episode, you'll get the drift. 7th level nets the quick change talent, 11th the immediate change talent...but these do eliminate the samurai's order. 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the archetype receives an avenger vigilante talent instead of bonus feats, though combat skill is prohibited. 8th level has a glitch - it notes that you may use bladed dash 1/day as a SP...got ya. However, +1/day at level 5 and every 5 levels thereafter makes no sense in that context...I think something went awry in ccp here...also since it replaces the order ability "gained at '8nd' [sic!] level." 15th level upgrades this to greater bladed dash.

The Kyudojin's challenge affects ranged, rather than melee attacks and is treated as having point Blank Shot for the purpose of feat prerequisites. He also gains Precise Shot at 1st level and may ignore the cover granted to a target by an ally for one round, usable 1/day, +1/day for every two class levels thereafter. The ability fails to mention an activation action, but I assume free...still, can it be used in conjunction with AoOs? Do you have to decide to ignore cover prior to shooting or can you decide retroactively? A bit of clarification would be in order here. This sniping prowess replaces, just fyi, resolve, but is counted as such for the purposes of feat prereqs etc. 4th level eliminates the penalty to atk when a mount's moving and reduces that of running mounts to -2. 9th level provides a trick shot bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites, chosen from Ace Disarm, Ace Trip or Ricochet Shot. The aforementioned careful shot ability that replaces resolve is used as a substitute grit for these, in case you were wondering. During a honorable stand, he may use careful shot to fire sans provoking AoOs. As a damn amazing level 17th ability, he can fire an arrow as basically a line - for each careful shot spent, he may hit another foe in line with the respective piece of ammunition.

The Lotus Exile begins play sans order and may never become a member of the order of the lotus...but he may attain membership in another order. He gains a more intelligent mount and Horse Master as a bonus feat at 1st level as well as Mounted Combat. Speaking of which: At 9th level, he may use Mounted Combat up to Dexterity modifier times per round (minimum 2).

Additionally, at 4th and every 3 levels thereafter, he does receive another bonus feat building on Mounted Combat as a prereq, additionally adding half his level to Ride's ranks for the purpose of qualification, unlocking mounted feats earlier than usual. 5th level and every 5 levels after that net the archetype a teamwork feat that is automatically shared with the mount. 14th level is brutal: At the cost of losing one attack, the lotus exile may still make a full attack when his mount moves or charges, though all attacks are executed at -2 to atk. 17th level nets +2 Str, Dex and Con for the mount. It should come as no surprise that this archetype pays for the mounted mastery with pretty much the whole resolve and banner sequences of abilities. One note: In absence of an order, I assume challenge to be locked at the start of the game for the archetype - some explicit confirmation/information pertaining this would have been appreciated.

The Seishin replaces challenge at first level with an oracle revelation from the Ancestor mystery, with additional revelations being unlocked every 3 levels thereafter. The revelations are governed by Cha, just fyi. The ability comes with full oracle-multiclassing synergy notes...which is neat. As befitting of the theme, the seishin replaces the order abilities gained at 2md, 8th and 15th level with the oracle's haunted curse. Brief, but flavorful.

The yamabushi must be lawful and loses armor and shield proficiency, but gains a monk's Wisdom-based, scaling AC-bonus. Similarly, mount is replaced with the monk's fast movement. 3rd level provides access to a ki pool equal to 1/2 class level + Wis-mod and ki may be expended as a swift action to grant the archetype +1 attack at the highest attack bonus when used in conjunction with a full attack, stacking with haste (not properly italicized) etc. The access to ki eliminates weapon expertise, though it does have more uses, for at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the yamabushi may select a ki power from the unchained monk's arsenal, applying them to weapons the yamabushi is proficient with instead of unarmed or natural attacks. Te archetype does pay for this with mount and weapon expertise...making this a fragile, if interesting glass cannon-y take on the samurai.

I mentioned the order of the lotus before, so what does it do? Well, members of the order may inflict only +1/4 class level (min 1) bonus damage on challenges, but their allies also gain this bonus! Now I'd like to know whether multiple samurai can grant the benefits of this ability to their allies. Usually, the reply'd be obviously no, but due to the unytped nature of the bonus damage, I am not entirely sure.Skill-wise, they add Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (nature) and receive 1/2 class level to social skills, depending on the attitude of the person interacted with: Diplomacy for friendly and helpful, Bluff and Intimidate for the other attitudes. 2nd level allows for the sharing of teamwork feats with allies for 30 minutes per class level and yes, the ability does feature synergy with tactician et al. 8th level is wonky: When a samurai and an ally hit the same target in a given round, they deal additional damage...but since rounds happen in sequence, is the first character's damage increased retroactively? Or is only the second hit increased thus? That one could be a bit clearer in its wording. 15th level allows the samurai to take the damage of an ally as an immediate action if that damage would bring the ally below 0 hp.

Members of the order of the pack MUST have a mount and when flanking a challenge target, both he and his mount gain Outflank. If they already have it, they instead gain a +5 bonus. Skill-wise, they gain Knowledge (nature) and Knowledge (geography) and add 1/2 class level to Handle Animal checks pertaining their mount. Instead of a 2nd level ability, they begin play at 1st level with a wolf or dog as the mount. 8th level grants a teamwork feat to the mount. 15th level lets them emit a howl as a full round action 1/day, granting allies within 30 feet all teamwork feats and haste (not properly italicized) for 1 minute. The ability's ex and should be Su. Additionally, how does it work? No, seriously. Animal companions have their own initiative, so how do they spend the action with the samurai? This becomes very important to determine when the ability goes off and looks like the pretty common houserule of collated initiatives creeping into mechanics. I like the idea, but it doesn't work as written.

Members of the order of the peacock may switch challenge targets as a swift action, but at the cost of losing the damage bonus upon switching. Skill-wise, they gain Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (nobility) and add the usual skill bonus to Intimidate uses in conjunction with the Antagonize feat, which is gained as a 2nd level bonus feat and may be used up to class level times per day versus challenge targets...which is a bit weirdly worded, as it implies that Antagonize can only be used so often, when in fact, the limit pertains a single given creature. Considering how often the feat can be used against a single target, getting rid of the limit for you would have been the more elegant idea here. 8th level lets the samurai expend resolve as an immediate action to gain temporary hit points equal to twice his class level, but only for one round - neat idea! 15th level allows the samurai to Antagonize targets of his challenge as an immediate action when they attempt to harm others.

The order of the shadow doubles his challenge damage bonus on the first attack if the target is unaware of him. Skill-wise, he gets Knowledge (local) and Stealth and subtracts 1/2 class level from his armor check penalty for Stealth purposes. NICE! 2nd level nets either darkvision or increase of darkvision range and 8th level hide in plain sight. 15th level allows for full attacks or movement + attack in a surprise round, provided a challenge is made against the target of the attack. Okay one.

The pdf goes on to present a new mount the qi dragon, which is based on a new CR 3 critter that is actually an animal, so balance type-wise is maintained. However, it sports 1d2 bleed on bites...that stacks with itself. Now I am a big fan of stacking bleed....but RAW, it shouldn't do that. The qi dragon also receives +2 to saves versus spells. Mount stat-wise, the qi dragon's balanced, though, considering the acidic breath weapon which may not do much damage, but can be used indefinitely with only a cooldown, I would have moved advancement not to 4th, but 7th level. Still, this guy should not break any games....and it is kinda cool.

Now I mentioned Horse Lord - that feat would let you use character level instead of class level to determine your effective druid level for animal companion purposes. Katana Mastery increases your effective weapon size when drawing a katana, which you draw as part of an attack action. Improved Katana Mastery extends the benefits of the former to a full attack...and adds Vital Strike's benefits to the first of the attacks...which imho is pretty overkill in conjunction with the sword saint archetype or similar iaijutsu masters - the feats do offer synergy here. Vital Strike does not need to be part of a Katana Mastery full attack. Improved Mounted Archery negates any penalties to atk for using a ranged weapon while mounted. Inspiring Resolve is neat: When you use resolve to end a condition, you may extend the benefit to all allies within 30 ft. - powerful and very unique and samurai-y in feeling. Interior Resolve lets you expend 3 resolve to become immune to precision damage for one attack, but you must do so after the attack has hit, but before effects are made known. Peacock Fan is basically a variant of Dazzling Display, antagonizing every foe within 30 ft. as a full-round action. Resolute Body nets you twice class level temporary hit points via the expenditure of 2 resolve, with the points lasting for one hour...however, you may only use this 1/day. I think I may have added a scaling daily-use on level increments of 5 here. Resolute Strike can be activated only when you have at least 2 resolve and lets you expend all of your remaining resolve as a free action upon causing damage - if you do, you inflict maximum damage, but also end your turn.

The pdf also covers new magic item abilities: Iaijutsu adds precision damage on a round a blade is drawn; resolute lets you reroll misses due to natural 1s via resolve (but fails to specify whether this is an action - I assume it's part of the attack.) and thirdly, retracting weapons may, as a move action, shift between reach and non-reach...which is pretty damn cool. Resolute armor nets the resolve class feature 1/day or +1 daily use.

A fire-light-themed katana named Amaterasu, a shocking naginata named Susano'o, a faerie fire inflicting animal bone longbow named Tsukoyomi - those even halfway cognizant of Japanese mythology will enjoy the respective twists of the tropes and adaptations to the Porphyran context, even if the names imply power far beyond what the items offer. Armor-wise, Sosen, the armor of the ancestors, allows for access of the spirit of the warrior revelation in addition to its protective properties. Nice: The duration of said power may be extended by the expenditure of resolve. The Banner of the Unyielding Legion may be driven into the ground by a cavalier or samurai, acting as their banner...but samurai may also use it to grant allies within the banner's range access to their resolve. Shogun Kabuto is pretty much a must-have item for quite a few builds - beyond a bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate, it also decreases the activation action of Dazzling Display and Peacock fan from a full-round action to a standard action.

The pdf concludes with several nice favored class options for porphyran races and a CR 10 sample character, Ec'sa Thisasaa, a saurian daimyo, complete with background story.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-level - while some abilities can use a bit of clarification, as a whole, the pdf is precise - the orders sport some minor hiccups, but with one exception, nothing too grievous. On a formal level, there are a couple of wordings and italicizations and similar minor hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' 1-column standard, is pretty printer-friendly and employs an appropriately Asian-font, which is a nice touch. The pdf sports 2 nice pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This is the first book by Nathan Reinecke as a lead designer I have tackled (though Perry Fehr, N. Jolly and Shinigami02, the contributing authors have, for the most part, had the dubious pleasure) - and frankly, I am more impressed than I expected to be. The designs herein are not earth-shattering or wild, sure - but they do their job damn well. The archetypes universally find a very sweet balance in their new features and what they lose; the respective specialists actually excel at their fields of expertise sans becoming complete one-trick ponies...and they are flavorful. While the orders contain a couple more hiccups than I like to see, the feats have some seriously neat ideas and the magic items or mount left me sans complaints.

Here's the thing that made me really like this: It makes the samurai feel more like a samurai. It has a couple of rough edges, yes. But it adds some staying power to the guys, emphasizes commands, social banter, iaijutsu, etc. - particularly the temporary hit points buffer-shield options feel very appropriate for the class with its emphasis on honorable combat, standing one's ground, etc. While I really disliked the order of the pack and the order of the shadow, both peacock and lotus have some serious potential and did not bore me...which is saying something after the number of orders I've read. Traditionally, first time authors get a bit of leeway from yours truly and hence, I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars for the purpose of this platform, in spite of the glitches. If you want to play a samurai, this very much is a book you should get.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Samurai of Porphyra
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Maiden Voyage of the Colossus (OGL/DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2016 09:16:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: This module was written for the Iron GM-contest (which is frickin' amazing!) that basically makes GMing a competitive sport and it's cool to see a module published based on this amazing event. Seriously, huge fan of it!

That being said, the module as presented here is dual format, for PFRPG and DCC, with PFRPG-material being denoted by purple headers, DCC material by black ones - the color-coding is a nice touch here.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players will wish to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs/Judges around? Good!

We begin with optional hidden agendas to assign to PCs, though these obviously hearken from the convention circuit: Sabotage is interesting, for example, but e.g. the need to gather proof of a traitor in the PC's midst with the threat of assassins nearby feels weird: How can assassins be there all the time? The rationalization doesn't make much sense here, but I digress. The city's abuzz as the notorious Gearswave Inc. is about to launch the eponymous, gigantic airship, but their competition, Clock-Works, is supposedly determined to see the maiden voyage end in disaster. Via various offers, the PCs may choose different rewards for trying to save the maiden voyage. Smuggled into the colossus as covert operatives, the PCs leave the crate to find that they have 4 hours. The colossus is pretty interesting, featuring e.g. levitate-based parachutes. There is a bit of discrepancy to be found - e.g. forcing a lever has only DCC-rules, none for PFRPG.

The PCs will have to explore the airship, with the crew mostly drunk, handle tiefling saboteurs, oozes, undeed and e.g. sober up the pilot, who has a chance to " fix any mechanical problem on the airship with 75% efficiency" - whatever that is supposed to mean. From decadent upper classes to weird gnomes, to the unique means of internal communication, handling the ship etc., the exploration of the ship is interesting, and the BBEG's combat is also relatively neat. The pdf comes with stats for both PFRPG and DCC, a deity-write-up of Gearswave Inc. that has a nice spell to enhance/penalize Disable Device and a DCC-patron-iteration of Gearswave Inc. The pdf comes with full-color maps of the vessel, but no key-less player-friendly iteration is provided.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent - I noticed a couple f formatting and editing hiccups, but nothing too grievous. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, is printer-friendly and the pdf sports several full-color artworks. The cartography is nice, but hampered by the lack of player-friendly maps.

Perry Fehr's Maiden Voyage has a couple of issues; DCC's DCs are pretty high; the chance for success is smaller in DCC than in PFRPG. And this is where we have to discuss dual format modules. You see, it is my firm conviction that they unanimously are a bad, bad idea. From a customer point of view, you pay for one system you will not use.

There is a more galling problem here, though: Different systems have different math, different expectations of player and PC capability, etc. No matter how good your crunch design is, you ultimately will always stumble over something, unless you do a proper conversion, including modifications to plot etc. The example of flight would be pretty famous: Easily achieved in PFRPG at certain levels, much less common in other systems. More currently, 5e's cool exhaustion mechanics translate less fluidly to other systems.

There are examples, when design has managed to cover wildly different systems, most famously perhaps EN Publishing's legendary Zeitgeist AP. However, even that one basically cheats by modifying the ground rules of the world to nerf Pathfinder's options and bring player capability in line with the options available for 4th edition characters. The only reason it got a pass from me is that it concisely presents these changes as a fundamental aspect of the rules governing the whole world. Similarly, Pelgrane Press' Esoterrorists/Trail of Cthulhu/Fear Itself/Night's Black Agents share a common rules-frame-work with different expansions/modifications and thus allow for a sequential progression/switching of systems, though one that takes serious work; still the general rules-frame-work is the same, the tones are similar, so in those cases, yes, it works. PFRPG and DCC do not have either capability- or tone-consistency.

Where am I going with this? Well, this may sound harsh, but the book is utterly delusional regarding its compatibility with DCC. I'm sorry to say it, but apart from DCC-rules being here, this pdf has NOTHING that even remotely pertains DCC's aesthetics. DCC's general assumption is that magic's weird, uncontrollable and volatile; its whole premise is grittier, darker and the whole depiction is radically different, with the emphasis on patrons etc. On the other hand, Pathfinder features reliable magic and is geared significantly more towards high fantasy gameplay. At one point in the introduction, there is "A Note for DCC Players", which reads as follows: "The Porphyra Campaign Setting is great for locating your DCC adventures, with its epic conflict of Gods and Elementals! Check out Lands of Porphyra and our other Porphyra game setting materials soon for lots of neutral-system game ideas today!" This is patently false. Porphyra is an amazing setting; I really, really like it. But it's as high fantasy as they get. Several cultures and races that are present violate pretty much all relevant design aesthetics of DCC. The flavor is all wrong for gritty DCC gameplay and frankly, while some elements of the setting certainly can easily be used in DCC, the vast majority CAN'T. Or rather, shouldn't be to avoid tonal whiplash. Porphyra is excellent high fantasy, but about as compatible to DCC's tone as 4th edition's modules were. I called this "delusional" for exactly this reason - there is nothing in tone, scope or...well...anything, really, that would gel, resound with DCC's implied world(s), the manner in which the system's rules govern the world, etc.

Which brings me to another aspect that hurt me in this module: As we've come to expect from Perry Fehr, this is a great, high-concept environment - there are a ton of cool, small ideas herein...but as a whole, the module felt static. The airship always remains just an evocative backdrop; there isn't much happening in the environment category and the utter incompetence of all NPCs is galling. It may be a personal gripe, but I hate it when NPCs behave like the biggest idiots around and the story of this module, high-concept and evocative though its environments may be, made no sense to me. The ship is also very static - there isn't much dynamics to be found, either regarding the ship, or its inhabitants, making the module, even if taken at face value, frankly lifeless and the weakest module I've read by Perry Fehr...and with some minor work, it could have been truly amazing, which renders this doubly painful.

So let me reiterate: This is NOT a DCC-module in anything but numbers provided; it does nothing to reconcile DCC's aesthetics with the changed assumptions of this module and should be considered to be a disaster for the system, a 1-star offering. Alas, Pathfinder does not fare that much better - the internal flaws of the story and static behavior are baffling to me, particularly considering that Perry Fehr has created more dynamic environments in the past. I'd strongly suggest getting the cool Purple Mountain Dungeon modules for an example of what kind of awesomeness he can generate. This module, though, at the very best, can be considered to be a 2.5 stars offering, from which I'd round down. My final verdict will take both into account and thus clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo and me enjoying the set-up/idea, if not much else.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Maiden Voyage of the Colossus (OGL/DCC)
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The War Mind
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/28/2016 05:24:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We have a psionic prestige archetype here, one that combines the war mind PrC and the fighter class. Chassis-wise, the class must be non-chaotic, receives d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons,, all armors and shields, but not tower shields. The class has full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves and begins play with a Combat feat as well as Wild Talent. 1st level nets one psychic warrior power and every 3rd level after that, he gains another one and Wisdom is his governing attribute for his psionics. The maximum power level he can manifest is 5th.

2nd level unlocks the ability to consult the codex for 1 round, gaining a +1 bonus to AC, CMB, CMD, initiative, melee attacks, melee damage, ranged attacks or ranged damage. The bonus increase to +2 at 6th level and further increases by + every 5 levels thereafter. 3rd level allows for the free action +2 Str and Con-self-buff, lasting one minute. This can be used 3/day and is increased to +4 at 13th level. 5th level, he may, as a free action, buff his AC by +2 3/day, increasing the bonus to +4 at 15th level. At 9th level, the war mind may pay 4 power points to gain an additional use of either ability.

3rd level nets bravery (relevant for use in conjunction with Rogue Genius Games' amazing Bravery Feats, for example) and 6th level and every 6 beyond that lets the war mind replace a combat feat with a psionic feat and the pdf has a caveat that prevents the swapping of prereq-feats.

7th level nets DR 1/-, which is upgraded to 2/-. at 17th level. 11th level lets the warmind choose a square adjacent to the one he attacks, applying his attack to both squares. Cleave-synergy is provided for and, as a limit, these attacks may not be performed after having moved 10 ft. or more. 19th level lets the war mind 1/day add +10d6 damage as part of an attack and as a capstone, they may reassign the floating bonuses granted at 2nd level as a swift action.

The pdf comes with excessive favored class options for core races as well as uncommon ones, porphyran races, etc. As a minor complaint, the skulk's FCO's absent. The pdf also features a sample character, garish Falnor, an half-ogre war mind, who is presented at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no grievous hiccups apart from the missing FCO. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no art apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. Nice!

Mark Gedak's take on the war mind is a solid blending of the concepts; the class plays as intended, is a valid choice and ability dispersal is neat as well. That being said, I found myself wishing that this did a bit more with the floating bonuses and the power points to enhance the self-buffs...but that may just be me. In the end, this is a decent, inexpensive little prestige archetype, well worth the asking price. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The War Mind
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Legendary Races: Sphinx
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2016 16:15:52

A thoroughly practical take on Sphinx's as PCs, in keeping with their abilities as a race, but not overpowering.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Races: Sphinx
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FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/25/2016 10:12:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/expansion clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, what is this pdf? In short, it could be considered to be the anthology/director's cut-version additional content for the second part of Daniel J. Bishop's AMAZING "Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores"-series, The Portsmouth Mermaid. As such, there will be minor SPOILERS for that one in here as well, but mostly of a structural nature.

Anyways, this being an adventure-review, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great, so "The Portsmouth Mermaid"'s middle section is pretty much a free-form sandboxy investigation with weirdness happening in the middle section. My one piece of minor criticism was that the section could have used a bit more for the players to do - if you have good investigators, it may be a bit too simple. These modules, then are perfect to splice in or to use as a bridge to the next installment of the series. As simpler scenarios, they can also be transplanted as brief modules beyond the context of the series pretty easily. Since "The Portsmouth Mermaid" is set against the backdrop of Yuletide celebrations, the default season herein in supposed to be winter.

Scenario number one would be "Blood for Cthulhu!", wherein cultists of the tentacled one capture an ally of the PCs (or a PC of a player conveniently not present) - this adds a sharper focus on this cult, which fell behind the depiction of the Dagon-worshippers integral to the plot of the Mermaid. As an alternative, there may not even be a kidnapping villain, with all being a set up of the Dagonite cultists to interrupt the lesser of two evils. (Yes, in case you haven't read FT 2 - it's perhaps the one scenario I know that features frickin' Cthulhu-cultists as the LESSER evil...go figure why I like it...) The trail leads into the salt marsh, where a roll with Intelligence and Luck determines the route taken, the opposition encountered...as well as the time passed, for a timer's ticking...something to bear in mind while the PCs deal with salt hounds, weird cultist chanting and a chance to break into a massive array of naked cultists conjuring forth a horrid being - if the PCs are too late, a polypus white thing may await the PCs...and they may find an idol, which is powerful, but yearns for sacrifice. The deadly consequences...well, can be cataclysmic for your psyche, though.

Scenario number two, Trail of the Rat, has seemingly less repercussions, as giant talking rats abduct a child and drag it into a deserted building. The whole set-up here, fully mapped for your convenience, is tailor-made to introduce PCs stuck in the investigation to the tunnels below Portsmouth, while dealing with the Pied Piper of Portsmouth and introducing the PCs to the ghouls of Portsmouth in a not necessarily hostile manner. A nice little expansion!

Scenario number 3 deals with the hiding place of a stack of pirate gold, supposedly hidden in the earth: The Open Tomb contains actual names for those interred in the crypts and the level of detail presented here is neat indeed. Sooner or later, the PCs will stumble over a strange, house-sized beast of lethal proportions - the mythical sea dragon, a strange amalgam of scale-less fish and salamander and a horribly powerful adversary. Thankfully, PCs itching for combat will have a chance to deal with a deadly soul hunter and an elemental grue here, both of which feature significant and flavorful components. On a success, the PCs may go out of this sidetrek with some serious treasure, which is exceedingly detailed...but the PCs will have paid for it dearly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; while I noticed a minor formatting hiccup or two, but no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-artwork is fantastic, original and high-quality. The full-color cartography is nice, though I would have liked player-friendly versions sans keys. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Daniel J. Bishop's 3 little scenarios here greatly enhance the experience of running part II of his amazing series, but also as standalone scenarios, they are very flavorful and fun. That being said, sans "The Portsmouth Mermaid", the scenarios do lose a bit of their potency and flavor. As a whole, this module offers some cool sidetreks and expansions that render the main module a fantastic experience. I have to rate this on its own, though - which is while I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for this; however, if you do get "The Portsmouth Mermaid", consider this to be a superb and must-buy expansion.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth
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