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Prestige Archetype: The Shadowdancer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2015 04:40:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



Shadowdancers as a 20-level class receive d8, 6+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good ref-saves , proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, rapier, shortbow, short sword, sap and light armor. They also begin play with sneak attack and increase sneak output by +1d6 every odd level to a maximum of +10d6 at 19th level. Shadowdancers receive trapfinding, evasion - the deal, and hide in plain sight at 2nd level. Yeah. Second. Level. While it requires 5 ft proximity to shadows, 10 ft. starting 5th level, that is VERY soon. If you play stealth by the book, that may be too soon - around 5th level makes for a better place for an ability this powerful, especially since it's not the terrain-based rogue variant, but rather the one that only requires shadows..

The base-class receives dodge at 4th level (yay?) as well as evasion, darkvision at 6th and mobility and improved uncanny dodge at 8th level (again, yay for mobility...).



At 10th level, the class becomes interesting, receiving a shadow pool equal to cha-mod (min 1) + 1 per level beyond 10. These points can be used to use silent image as a spell-like ability and every even level, a SPELL is added, with diverging point costs - while I *assume* that ought to be spell-like abilities, the pdf calls all but the first SPELLS - a massive glitch. Slippery Mind is as expected and the option to combine shadow step with stealth is a nice trick, especially since it's upgraded further later on. The capstone is essentially an apotheosis and yes, the iconic defensive roll is gained appropriately late, at 18th level.



The pdf provides FCOs for the core races and sample NPC-builds at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The shadowdancer is a weird class in that I always liked its flavor, but never the execution - it always felt subpar, bland - and the more sneak-themed shadow dancer herein is probably the better class, in spite of its minor rules hick-ups - the problem is, though, that by now both Rogue Genius Games' Shadow Assassin and Interjection Games' Edgewalker simply make for the more versatile, more unique executions of the concept.

Now don't get me wrong, Carl Cramér has done a neat job with what he had and I'll review this pdf under these circumstances, but the late auto-gains of weak feats, the ridiculously fast hide in plain sight, the flawed shadow pool - all of these conspire to somewhat drag this down. This is by far not bad, but neither is it awesome. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Shadowdancer
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Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
by Sarah C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2015 20:01:11
Breakdown: 1 page each for cover, credits & intro, and OGL statement + 5½ pages detailing the arcane trickster base class + ¼ page favored class bonuses + 2¼ pages for sample character at 1st, 5th, 10th, and 15th levels = 11 pages total.

Purple Duck's prestige archetypes are simply the familiar prestige classes converted into full 20-level base classes. The arcane trickster prestige archetype that originated in D&D 3.x and was updated in the Pathfinder core book has always appealed to many players wanting a sneakier, rogue-ish mage... but as implemented, has always lagged behind the other class options in magic power, physical combat prowess, and survivability. PDG's arcane trickster base class inherits a ¾ BAB, good Reflex and Will saves, a large number of class skills + 4 ranks/level, access to a number of rogue talents, sneak attack progression up to +9d6, and the prepared wizard spell list/spell from both its parents (rogue and wizard). It also has all the nifty trickster abilities from its prestige class sibling. Sounds good so far, right?

Well, sneak attack sounds good, but any rogue knows that you need a flat-footed or flanked opponent to get it. It's easier for an AT who can pop off invisibility and vanish spells, especially from a wand or scroll without needing a UMD check. But ATs, like rogues, normally need to be adjacent to an opponent to sneak attack, and that means the tough critter or melee-er will likely be counterattacking a still quite squishy arcane trickster. Worse, if you're attacking with weapons, you aren't casting spells, which should be your main attack option. The AT's best sneak attack option, surprise spells, doesn't kick in until 14th level, and it still requires the target to be flat-footed. Still, there are ways to make it work, but the AT player will need a cooperative party to help set up the SA opportunities (no Leeroy Jenkins need apply).

The main limitation the AT base class will feel are the spells. Spell level progression is the same as a bard or magus: you don't get 2nd level spells until your 4th character level, 3rd level spells unlock at 7th character level, etc. And unlike a magus or summoner, spells remain at same level as a wizard, so you and your party have to wait for haste and similar frequently-used/party favorite spells. But the biggie is your spell access caps at 6th level spells; that means no casting the 7th-9th heavy hitter spells. And since those spells aren't on your AT spell list, the AT PC will need to be UMDing to cast them from a scroll or staff, with all the hazards that involves.

While the arcane trickster prestige archetype has some limitations, a strategic player that avoids front-line combat can make this class shine. Purple Duck's Carl Cramér has done an admirable job stitching the best of two core classes and prestige class together into a well-balanced and fun whole. And heck, it's only $2, what more do you want?

4.5 out of 5 stars

(Full Disclosure: I developed a arcane tricker-inspired magus archetype, the spiderhawk, for Paizo Fans United's Wayfinder #10, a free download available from Paizo's webstore.)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
by Sarah C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2015 17:44:27
Breakdown: 1 page each for cover, credits, and intro + 2 page OGL statement + 10 pages of items = 15 pages total. The PDF is fully bookmarked for quick reference to each individual item.

After the introduction aka "How Magic Pants Came to Be" (A: Blame Owen) and short explanation of the new "Legs" slot for magic items, it jumps right into the items. There are 23 total magic items, mostly pants and trousers, but a few skirts, kilts, and stockings too. You'll probably notice several of the items as homages to famous pants from popular movies, comics, and cultural idioms. They come in at a variety of price points, so there's likely something here for most characters in the party. Next up, is a section on cursed legwear, with 7 items. Pun-age is used sparingly and sagaciously, although punny items are more prevalent among the cursed items. :)

This is another excellent and very affordable product from Purple Duck. Perhaps the best feature is that it will likely inspire numerous new ideas for magic pants, among GMs, players, and (hopefully) other 3PPs. My only complaint is that PDP has used the "Storeroom" line for great one-shot ideas, and I'd really like to see many more magic pants and legwear items.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
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Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Hunter
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:30:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The eldritch hunter base class receives d8, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, proficiency with light and medium armors, shields and simple and martial weapons, but still incurs spell failure. They receive 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and spontaneous cha-based spellcasting of up to 9th level. However, unlike a full spellcaster, their daily allotment of spells is diminished when compared to the sorceror to pay for the increased martial prowess. They also receive access to a sorceror's bloodline at 1st level - here, the ACG's release makes clarification necessary imho - bloodrager bloodlines may make the overall deal of this class a tad bit too good. That being said, I can't fault the pdf for that, seeing it's been released before the ACG. Bloodline spells are granted at a modified rate, though - the first being granted at 4th level, with every even level thereafter providing a bloodline spell of +1 level. Bloodline power progression is maintained at the usual levels, as is arcana.



Additionally, the eldritch hunter also chooses a combat style at second level and pursues this style via bonus feats every 3 levels thereafter. At 13th level, the class receives spell critical, which, alas, needs a caveat - as written, following up a crit with a swift action-cast may be nice, but there ought to be a maximum casting time restriction here to prevent the use of long casting duration spells in the conjunction with the ability. Finally, at 19th level, the class has ranger spells added.



The class also receives FCO's - these are generally okay, though the dwarven one is extremely specific, only applying to acid/earth spells that deal attribute damage. Good luck getting something out of this one.



The pdf also provides sample NPC builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The eldritch Hunter is an interesting case - once again, the base PrC is obsolete by all means of the word and not particularly...let's say...well-crafted. The restriction regarding armor and spell failure is a massive detriment for the class and somewhat counteracts the immense benefits it reaps with full spellcasting. Now the progression itself is pretty linear and much of my gripes about the Eldritch knight also hold true here - however, unlike the eldritch knight, the eldritch hunter has by now been changed in its baseline by the very concept of bloodrager-specific bloodlines - which should imho be addressed. Other than that, the general class idea can be considered pretty well-designed - Carl Cramér's decision to delay massive spellcasting and hand slowly hand out the slots should make sure that the class steals neither the ranger's, nor the sorc's thunder. Spell Critical, as provided, is broken.

That being said, the bloodline issue somewhat makes this one imho a tad bit problematic; And yes, I'm aware of the specific "sorceror bloodline caveat here"; -still, that would have been a potential option to make this class more unique - my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Hunter
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Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Knight
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:09:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Eldritch knight base class as provided herein received d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, 2 +Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armor and shields, though they retain arcane spell failure chances. They also may cast prepared arcane spells of up to 9th spell level via int from the sorc/wiz list. The class counts as both fighter and wizard-levels for the purpose of level requirements. At 1st level, the eldritch knight also has to choose either an arcane school or an arcane bond. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the eldritch knight also receives a bonus feat that can be selected from item creation, metamagic, combat etc. -and arcane discoveries. The latter option makes me swallow somewhat, due to an increased frequency of bonus feats when compared to that of the wizard and thus also an increased array of arcane discoveries.



Spellcasting-wise, the class starts with1 cantrip and 1st level spell, but increases the amount of slots per day slower than the wizard, losing about 2 levels of spells gained over the 20 levels of the class on the non-martial brethren. The signature capstone spell critical of the base PrC is gained at 15th level - alas, without fixing it. The ability still allows you to cast multiple round spells, full-round action spells etc. as one swift action when criting - which is broken in my book, even at this level..



The pdf also provides favored class options for the core-races, all of which are solid -and as courtesy to us DMs, we receive NPC-builds of an eldritch knight for levels 1, 5, 10 and 15 - kudos!



Now beyond that, the pdf also provides advice for players - extensive advice, to be precise, to deal with armored spellcasting and ways to make it work - pretty cool and nice, especially for less experienced/rules-savvy players!



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér has done mercifully a job beyond what was required; The base Eldritch Knight PrC is utterly bland, sans identity and some would argue, bad - qualifying for it sucks and it does not provide any cool, unique tricks to pull off beyond somewhat solid melee capacities and 9/10 spellcasting progression. The translation into a full base class thus can't be faulted for being not particularly awe-inspiring. It does manage to adequately make the class both melee and caster at first level, though, and that without utterly outclassing the wizard colleagues - which is a good thing. The general take is more streamlined than the PrC and the option to take arcane discoveries helps bring the class somewhat closer to current Pathfinder's rule-aesthetics as opposed to the beginnings of the system.



Now as you may have noticed, I do not like the base PrC. In fact, I loathe it as an example of boring PrC-design that should have died a fiery death in the inferno that consumed 3.X. BUT, this is not about my personal preference; after all, I'm pretty sure that some of you like the class, perhaps prefer it over the magus. And as a reviewer, I have to respect that and at least try to provide an objective stance on this one - and it's better than the base PrC. In spite of the meager base materials provided by the PrC, this one should be considered the superior take and perhaps even a class that has a reason to exist in current PFRPG, with the thankfully streamlined saves and refreshment making the concept seem less like a systemic anachronism. And for that, in spite of my utter disdain of the class mechanics this is based on, in spite of the still flawed spell critical, I'll have to rate this 4 stars. Congratulations, Mr Cramér - I don't often get to rate a product this strongly against my own personal inclinations.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Knight
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Prestige Archetype: The Assassin
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2014 04:18:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Assassin as crafted here must be non-good, receives a good ref-save and 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, proficiency with crossbows, blowguns, daggers, darts, rapiers, short bows, saps, short swords and shields and receive a massive 8+ Int skills per level. They also receive sneak attack, progressing up to +10d6. The assassin also receives the option to forgo 1d6 sneak damage to demoralize targets, more d6 increasing the chances the demoralize works on a 1d6 for +5-ratio. 4th level death attack is two levels below what the PrC receives, seeing it can only be taken after receiving 5 ranks in stealth. Not a fan of this decision.



Better options for hiding weapons, evasion and uncanny dodge - all solid. An awareness of slain targets returning to life is downright brilliant. True Death is unlocked at 8th level and quiet/swift death fit at 10th and 18th level. AQ new dual capstone of master strikes and soul bind manages what the PrC fails at - making resurrection HARD.



The class also provides advice on the option to trade in sneak attack for rogue talents to bring some flexibility back. The favored class options of the core-races are solid.



We also receive NPC-builds of level 1, 5, 10 and 15.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's take on the assassin can be summed up as a rogue on speed - and it honestly works rather well. Why? Well, for one, the rogue is, even with talented/glory-updates not a powerful class. The death attack, while extremely powerful, still requires a lot of set-up. The resurrection-sense is downright brilliant. the new capstones are actually worth the name. The massive skill-increase to 8 (in contrast to 4 of the PrC) may seem like too much, but for me, it works. From poison use to angel of death etc., all iconic tricks are here - and paid for by a decreased flexibility. Which I would complain about - but the note on alternatively allowing for rogue talent access constitutes this variety: If you think rogues are fine, maintain the linear nature of the assassin as a balance tool. If you think it needs an upgrade, go for the flexible version that can learn talents - glorious.



I love this Prestige Archetype and fans of assassins and rogues may very much want to check this out - it triumphs where the PrC fails, prevents low-level death attack-spamming abuse and provides a damn cool take on the assassin. Two thumbs up - 5 stars +seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Assassin
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Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/12/2014 06:31:41
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 6 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



All right, the Dragon Disciple receives 3/$ BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves ,d10, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light armors (no arcane failure in light armor and spontaneous spellcasting governed by Cha of up to 6th level, with the spells drawn from the magus-list.



At 1st level, the dragon discipline receives 1d4-damage dealing primary natural claws (1d3 if small). These claws increase in potency over the levels, later counting as magic etc. and increasing base damage-dice size and even add elemental damage to the output, depending on the energy of the breath weapon. More on that later.



At 2nd level, the draconic disciple also receives a bite attack, again a primary natural weapon, but one with a unique option - on a full attack, a draconic disciple can forego a bite attack in favor of casting a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less. Interestingly, the dragon discipline may opt to choose to take a penalty to all attack rolls and receive the same amount as a bonus to concentration checks to cast said spell defensively. The class can either first cast the spell or attack, but cast the spell mid-attack. He still needs a free hand and when mixing attacks with manufactured weapons. Alas, a minor glitch has crept in here - the option to improve defensive casting while attacking requires a caveat to specifically mention that the penalty applies even if the attacks are executed before the casting of the spell.



At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the dragon disciple also receives a bonus spell from a fixed list - a tad bit more versatility to choose from would have been nice. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the disciple also receives an increasing natural armor bonus. Boosts to attributes (fixed) are gained at 5th, 8th, 14th and 20th level. Resistance to the breath weapon's energy type is gained at third level and scales up to 15 at 15th level in two steps. At 4th level, aforementioned breath weapon is gained; Its uses per day scaling up to 6/day at 19th level, thankfully coming with a cooldown that prevents going nova with the class level x 6 damage dealing breath, the shape of which btw. is determined by the type. At 6th level, a specialized spellstrike that only works with the bite attack is gained - here special kudos for preventing dual casting confusion via the bite's regular potential substitution! At 10th level blindsense is also pretty appropriate. High level draconic disciples can assume Form of the Dragon I at 13th level, increasing the potency of the form every 3 levels thereafter, analogue to the improved versions of the spell. Wings are gained at 15th level and the 20th level immunities gained are solid.



We also receive FCOs for the core races and a sample NPC in progressive builds of levels 1, 5, 10 and 15.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's Dragon Disciple is a surprisingly nice take on a PrC by now utterly outdated, rendering the transformation into a humanoid dragon-like figure into a concise, well-crafted whole. The spontaneous casting + magus-like tricks in the arsenal of this class render it an interesting evolution. The potential for blasting disciples is massive, though not as pronounced as if it had access to the wiz/sorc-list - essentially, this is a dragon-themed alternate magus and one that admirably well captures what the class is supposed to do: If a dragon disciple elects to let loose its arcane fury, you won't be wanting to stand on the receiving end. That being said, the restrictions imposed by the design maintain it as a kind of glass cannon and the significant loss of overall flexibility (no spell recall due to spontaneous casting, no knowledge pool, no arcanas) when compared to the magus makes for a valid trade-off for the draconic abilities gained. Over all, a well-crafted take on the concept with one minor wording that could have used some more refinement - still, a cool little pdf, well worth 4.5 stars - now one thing is slightly nasty: The increased spells per day and better on the spot versatility make the class a tad bit better at blasting, which may prove to be a bit much for low-powered gaming...hence I'll round down to 4 for this one, though remain with an explicit recommendation.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
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HT 1 - The Perils of Cinder Claws (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/10/2014 03:44:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page editorial, 1.5 pafes of SRD, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This is officially my most delayed review EVER. It came out last year in December and I didn't get it done in time for holidays and after that...it just felt odd. So, with about one year delay, here's finally the review!



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



All right, still here?

In medias res - the characters find themselves in a feast hall of Christmas-themed decorations...and things immediately become ODD - silvery tinsel spiders, intelligent fruitcakes that never leave your system, dreaming of strange aeons - yeah, we're in for some nasty, far-out creative awesomeness here. Deadly snowmen and tiny reindeer that each have unique abilities (like Rudolph's red pustule nose that may blind you or Comet's fiery burst...), aggressive ginger-bread men and sugar plum faeries. Of course, they may find something interesting in their stockings - though whether naughty or nice depends on the alignment and luck of the character... Oh, and there are elves...the unpleasant type. And then, all warmth subsides, things become cold and the PCs will have to brave the dread ice-cold claws of cinder claws before hopefully escaping the desolate ice-cold clime.



That's the first module - the second herein, intended for 3rd level characters, also has the PCs drawn into the domain of cinder claws, here, the nexus of Yule - disturbing nutcrackers and rat-humanoids warring set the tone immediately, even before the unpleasant, swirling golden angels flittering among the branches of a massive tree. 6-armed, candy-cane wielding carnivores, deadly puddings, the bulwarg and skagaart (and friggin' GRENDEL!) - unpleasant! And if the PCs think that regular animals are nice...wrong. Even domestic animals like cows and sheep are deadly and carnivorous here, so they better beware! Finally, they may come to stand before the Cinder Claws, who offers to act as a patron for PCS...or have them face his wrath - whether by diplomacy or force (the latter being a rather lethal prospect), the module concludes with a memorable scene indeed.



We also receive a full-blown patron-taint/spellburn/spell-list. It should be noted that the module comes with nice, player-friendly maps and full color cartography.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's 2-column standard and is rather printer-friendly. Cartography is nice and the artworks provided are neat as well.



Daniel J. Bishop delivers by the buckets - this constitutes at the same time the most disturbing Christmas modules I've read before, all while managing to avoid delving into a gore-fest - instead, this collection of modules allows one to delve into a sense of utter weirdness, of oddness and some primal, twisted take on Christmas tropes without losing the very intent and spirit of the holidays - these modules are frightening, unsettling, yes, but they never turn unpleasant, managing to maintain a sense of wonder and high-spirited fun. I love these modules and if I can get a group together this Christmas, I'll run these. The modules are awesome enough to warrant you converting them to other systems, should you prefer a non-DCC-system - THAT good! Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HT 1 - The Perils of Cinder Claws (DCC)
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Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Archer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/10/2014 03:40:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 7 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



Each of the classes has classes listed as "build classes", i.e. ones that influenced the design of the prestige archetype. As written, they do not act as alternate classes and do not lock you out of multiclassing, something to bear in mind regarding balance.



Now let's take a look at the arcane archer! The class receives 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, good fort- and ref-saves, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light armor (and suffers no spell failure chance in light armor and still suffers spell failure in light armor when casting arcane spells from other classes - nice catch!) and they learn to cast spells from the sorc/wiz-list, of up to 6th level. Arcane Archers cast prepared spells, governed by Int and thus need to maintain a spellbook.



At first level, they also receive an archery pool of 1/2 class level +Int-mod. This pool can be utilized, analogue to the magus, to provide temporary enchantments to the archer's bow as swift actions. The bonus (and conversely, the weapon qualities that can alternatively be applied to the ranged weapon) increases by +1 every 4 levels, up to a maximum of +5, with alignment imposing potential restrictions - no unholy enchantment for good archers, for example. What's odd here - since the class has a restriction that the thing needs at least +1 enhancement, meaning that the +2 equivalent enhancements can only be applied to already enchanted bows - kind of clunky.



At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the archer may select a bonus feat from the archery style provided, with 6th and 10th level increasing the breadth of feats to choose from. Spell Archery is interesting - granted at first level, the arcane archer may, as a full round action, imposes a -2 penalty to all attacks and cast a spell with a casting duration of 1 standard action or less. Multiple attacks are covered here as well - either you attack first or cast the spell first - no attack/spell/attack-tricks. On the extremely nitpicky side, only failure of concentration regarding defensive casting is covered, though the ability should probably specify the potential for spells being wasted by any type of failed concentration-check. If one were to be nitpicky beyond even my standards, explicit note that the spells still provoke AoOs would have been nice, but that is a) inferred by conjecture of the defensive casting caveat and b) evident from the rules of spellcasting.



At 3rd level, the arcane archer receives ranged spellstrikes - and here, I expected an utter clusterf*** - and was positively surprised - the ability allows the arcane archer to deliver ranged touch attack spells alternatively via her bow as a ranged attack at her highest BAB - the interaction between spell and weapon damage are covered quite professionally. Now, again, on a nitpicky side, I would have liked the ability to specify that the -2 penalty when used in conjunction with spell archery still applies - or does it? If it doesn't this allows the class to get rid of it for ranged touch-based spells.



At 4th level, the class receives spell recall via the archery pool and at 7th level, the class may expend points from the pool to prepare up to int-mod spells as if they were in the archer's spellbook - here a scaling mechanism would have been appropriate - one point per spell level, for example. Otherwise, high level spells cost as much as low level spells.



Imbue Arrow allows the 8th level arcane archer to use bow-range for spells and thankfully cannot be combined with seeker or phase arrows. At 9th level and every 5 levels thereafter, an arcane archer may also reroll an atk or force a foe to reroll an attack that has hit the archer. At 11th level, seeker arrows ignore cover and concealment and cost a swift action and 1 point from the archery pool.



Improved spellr ecall is gained at 12th level and the armor-ignoring phase arrows make an appearance at 13th level, once again costing points from the archery pool in addition to being standard actions. The iconic hail of arrows is gained at 15th level and a countershot (with a limited range) makes for another nice high-level ability. Finally, at the highest level, the class receives slaying arrows and as a capstone, no longer needs to make concentration checks when threatened while using spell archery.



The class also receives favored class options for the core-races, with especially the gnome gaining more available enchantments for the pool being nice.



We also receive level 1, 5, 10 and 15 builds of a sample character including sample spellbooks (nice!) and also new feats: Counter-missile allows you to forgo an attack in the following round (and expend ammunition) to negate a ranged attack that would have hit you. While I like the caveat versus large missiles, the feat has a massive issue - it does not specify the attack lost - can one choose e.g. the third shot at -10? What if one uses Spell Archery with Ranged Spellstrikes? Manyshot? Regular Rapid Shot? I'm not 100% sure how precisely this one is supposed to work, though I love the imagery.



Deadly Calm negates the penalty associated with deadly aim when using composite bows for the first attack (ouch!) and extra archery pool increases the pool-size by +2.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author Carl Cramér has a tough sell for me personally here and I honestly expected this one to SUCK. Good news first - it doesn't! The author has managed to provide a take on the ranged caster/bowman based more on the magus and still providing the various iconic tricks of the arcane archer. The way enhance arrows has been changed is more in line with the magus' tricks, but there we have the one issue with this class - it's scaling of ability-gain is a bit off. Fifth-level alignment-based damage feels like a bit much when compared to the PrC. That being said, at least the enchantments cost a solid resource and the streamlining of abilities to use one resource can be considered a massive improvement over the base class. Now, the class does have some balance-issues: The arcane archer receives almost all of the magus' exceedingly powerful tools for versatility - spell recall, knowledge pool, etc. -which may seem appropriate, considering the similarity between the classes. HOWEVER, the ability to imbue arrows, exceedingly powerful, still has an issue carried over from the original ability of the PrC- the option to shoot AoE-spells on squares instead of foes for a ridiculously easy shot exploit the original class did not cover.



Another issue, quite frankly, is that the very powerful ability to imbue arrows, combined with a magus' flexibility, just makes for an exceedingly strong array of tricks, stronger even than the PrC. Is this a bad class? No, and it demonstrates the author's capacity to make more than solid crunch, but it also adds more flexibility to the concept than is necessarily balanced. Why? Take a look at regular damage-output of good archers. Then take a look at what magi can dish out. Combine that. Result? PAIN. Especially since wiz/sorc ranged touch attacks can come off as rather nasty - while spell level of up to 6th don't look that bad, the class can be made into a true monster. Is it broken? Not necessarily, but if your players are adept at optimizing, this class becomes too powerful and can blast its brethren out of the water.



It is mainly due to this fact that I can only rate this 3 stars, but consider me excited about the rest of the series!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Archer
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Stock Art: Troglodyte??
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2014 11:58:01
I used this as a lizardfolk cleric. The necklace around its neck makes for a perfect holy symbol. Great image. Excellent size. And the License is quality. Couldn't ask for more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Troglodyte??
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Stock Art: Water Dragon
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2014 11:56:19
Yea, this one is a favorite of mine. The tiny human in the foreground really sells it. Great image. Excellent size. And the License is quality. Couldn't ask for more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Water Dragon
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Stock Art: Slime Dragon
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2014 11:55:21
I enjoyed using this image in Book of Beasts: Legendary Foes. Great image. Excellent size. And the License is quality. Couldn't ask for more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Slime Dragon
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Stock Art: Savage Lizardfolk
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2014 11:54:15
I used this as a half-dragon lizardfolk. Great image. Excellent size. And the License is quality. Couldn't ask for more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Savage Lizardfolk
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Stock Art: Flaming Skulls
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2014 11:52:59
Great image. Excellent size. And the License is quality. Couldn't ask for more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Flaming Skulls
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AL 6 - Playing the Game (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/02/2014 05:25:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This funnel for 0-level DCC-characters clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



All right, still here? So, how does this adventure begin? Well, each character has met an interesting, strange traveler from a far away land who challenges the PC for a game of Arbakampsi, an easy, tactical board-game first introduced in a Purple Duck Storeroom-installment. Upon agreeing, the unsuspecting heroes to be find themselves trapped upon the board - separated ad forced t play a variant of the very game from within. In order to triumph, they have to understand their own predicament. Now the interesting component here would be that each character voices his/her intended action and then, after all have spoken, the judge tells the results.



The respective rings of the colored board (which is btw. provided in this supplement) feature challenges - beyond combat with serpents of water and windpigs, each ring also sports a puzzle - and these are interesting - like showing a player a circular message for ONE second - the only way out; requiring the PCs to work together.



In the central ring, a series of questions tests the mind of the PCs further - success at these questions may net the PCs elemental lords as patrons and corresponding benefits, whereas failure has them confront deadly, weapon-destroying duplicates.



The elemental princes/princesses Grom, Splaasha and Krakaal are provided alongside rules for spell-burn for them and advice on scaling/adapting the module and properly playing the game can be found herein as well - quite a feat at this brevity!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed n significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks and a colored arbakampsi-board. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr is best when creating odd societies and believable environments or when going utterly bonkers - this module is a fine example of the latter - this uncommon take on the classic trope is dauntingly different: With a focus on player-smarts above PC-luck, this is a surprisingly challenging, thinking man's module and an uncommon, cool introduction to a given campaign, its potential for scaling further making this easily adapted to other systems and levels - since the scenario and the puzzles are the bulk of the module, this is an extremely versatile little gem. Uncommon, creative and fun, this pdf deserves a final rating of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 6 - Playing the Game (DCC)
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