DriveThruRPG.com
Browse Categories











Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Caster Prestige Archetype: Cyphermage
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2017 04:38:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series 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!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the cypher mage, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. Cypher mages may also select additional bonus languages. Cyphermages must choose between an arcane school and arcane bond; in the former case, they're locked into divination. They may also choose a wizard bonus feat in lieu of a cypher lore.

Cypher lore would be the talent-array of the prestige archetype, with the first gained at 1st level and subsequent lores being unlocked at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, meaning that the class, as presented, sports some serious player agenda. These include bypassing symbols, automatically analyzing scrolls, extended summon-lists, metamagic-enhancers of scrolls, better giant-mind subversion, using Int instead of Cha for UMD

Cypher mages cast spells from scrolls at +1 caster level higher than that of the scroll and +1 to checks to activate scrolls with CLs exceeding his own. Cypher mages also receive a cypher pool equal to his "Intelligence bonus + 1/2 class level" (that's usually presented the other way round, to engage in a cosmetic nitpick) - these points may be expended to increase the CL of a scroll by 1 or the DC to recognize a spell by 5, but at the cost of increasing the activation to a full-round action - and yes, this can be used in conjunction with spontaneous metamagic. And yes, dear readers - the aforementioned summoning enhancer is actually new and not something the base PrC had - so kudos! A known cypher lore that requires a swift action to activate may be chosen at 10th level and thereafter be activated as a free action, with 14th and 18th level adding another one to the array.

2nd level yields Scribe Scroll and the capstone yields the bonus to saves versus glyphs etc. - a less bland capstone would have been nice to see in this redesign.

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a cyphermage adept based on one of those classes, you're in luck. It should also be noted that these modifications this time around are more complex than in other installments

The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's take on the cypher mage is a definite step up from the PrC - the prestige archetype is well-crafted, fun and solid - the cypher points add player agenda from the get-go and make the experience of playing the class more interesting than it would be without them. While I would have loved that class feature to be more interwoven and while the capstone still isn't that impressive, we have a good installment on our hands here. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Cyphermage
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Caster Prestige Archetype: Bloodmage
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:29:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the first of these, the Bloodmage, who was built upon the Bloatmage PrC and the wizard-chassis. The class receives d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with blowgun, crossbows (hand, light & heavy), dagger, spiked gauntlet, butterfly and switchblade knives and quadrens. The class gets a good Will-save and a 1/2 BAB-progression. The class receives full spellcasting progression. 1/day at first level and an additional time at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the bloodmage may ingest blood from a sorceror or a creature (sample creature and associated bloodline table provided), gaining temporary access. At 1st level, the bloodmage can access the bloodline powers of a bloodline thus absorbed, using Intelligence instead of Charisma as governing attribute, and familiar/companion-granting abilities temporarily morph the "special" familiar of the bloodmage. See below for that one. At 6th level, the bloodmage gains access o the bloodline spells and at 14th, to the bloodline arcane.

In order to cast spells from the bloodline, the bloodmage must expend blood points equal to the spell's level. These points belong to the blood pool class feature, which is also gained at first level and equals half the bloodmage's class level. These blood points replenish upon resting, but only up to this cap, not when it is exceeded. More on that later. The perceptive reader may have noted that I have not yet commented on action economy of blood draining, consumption, etc. - well, primarily, because I have not complaints - the pdf properly codifies all of that in a concise and precise manner. Kudos. And no, summoned creatures may not be tapped for blood.

One option to thus increase the blood point reservoir is to engage in a bloodsurge - this is a free action and at 1st level, the bloodmage can bloodsurge 1/day and gains 1 blood point from the surge. 4th level, 8th and 12th level as well as 20th level increase the daily uses of the blood surge. Starting at 4th level, you gain 1d4 blood points instead, with 8th upgrading that to 1d8 and 12th to 1d12. Minor formal and purely aesthetic complaint - it should be "1d12", not "d12" in the example, analogue to the previous formatting. The bloodmage may drain himself in special rituals each day, which decreases the surge result by 1 at the cost of a -2 penalty to Con; Note that this is neither damage, nor drain! Why would you do that? Simple: If the blood point maximum exceeds 1/2 class level, the blood mage may suffer from the now somewhat unfortunately-named "Blood Rage" - note the blank space. I know the PRC predates the bloodrager...but yeah. If the maximum is exceeded, the bloodmage is sickened and if the bloodmage exceeds his class level in blood points, he enters a homicidal rage for 1d6 rounds or until blood points or HP are reduced to 0...and at the end of sucha rage, the character loses all blood points, takes damage equal to his remaining hp and is staggered. OUCH.

Now I mentioned the mutating familiar...and indeed, this would be represented via the alchemist's tumor familiar. Yes, this means that, with the right infusion, your sentient tumor detaches and morphs into the creature. Talk about messed up... 2nd level nets Spell Focus as a bonus feat and 3rd level nets the hemophilia drawback, which increases the DC to stop the bloodmage's bleeding and decreases his blood points...which means that the drawback can be uses as a means to control blood points. 5th level yields the corpulence class feature, which nets the bloated bloodmage +1 caster level when casting Spell Focus spells, but also makes him be treated as udner constant medium load, with max Dex-bonus to AC locked at +3 and ACP -3 and the respective speed decrease. 10th level nets +1 natural armor, 17th level increases that to +2, but reduces speed further by 10 ft.

Now here things turn even more interesting - unlike in previous prestige archetype series, we now receive alternate base class builds: The pdf covers multiple classes as alternate base chassis options and notes which class features are retained - these include arcanist, druid, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch. This significantly increases the breadth of the class uses. Beyond that, the pdf also features a selection of diverse favored class options specifically for the bloodmage, covering, beyond the core races, also some of my favorite Porphyran races and appropriate candidates like the dhampir, who learns to heal himself via blood points.

Cool: The pdf comes with a bonus creature that has a gorgeous full-color artwork: The Cr 7 Abaasy, a kind of cyclops with a freezing gaze and a deadly iron lash. Nice critter, though I can't comment on whether Perry Fehr or Mark Gedak wrote it, so I'll tag both in my review.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches and rules language is precise. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's Bloodmage is very cool first installment for the series - from the general favored class options to the blood mage's unique resource-management mechanic, the prestige archetype is rewarding, its ability dispersal makes sense and the rules-language is precise and well-crafted. In short: Apart from some example sentences sounding a bit wonky, there is nothing to complain about here. Well done and a great start for the series and leaves me without any serious complaints. This receives 5 stars, just short of my seal: The bloodsurge is cool and could carry more cool options. Still, a very promising start for the series!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Bloodmage
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Bloodragers of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:51:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though you should be aware that the pdf is formatted for A5-booklet-size (6'' by9'') and thus allows you to fit up to 4 of these pages on a given sheet of A4-paper.

All right, let's begin with the new archetypes contained here, the first of which would be the Beast Brother, who gains his 1st level bloodline power at 4th level, the 4th level bloodline power at 8th level, the 8th level bloodline power at 12th level, the 12th level bloodline power at 15th level and at 20th level, he gains the 16th level bloodline power. To make up for this delayed progression, the bloodrager receives an animal companion at full druid level progression. The animal companion receives the bloodline powers when the beat brother is raging, while the beast brother gains access to any one of the special qualities the animal companion possesses. Now the wording here is a bit weird - the companion "Also" seems to gain the bloodline benefits, implying that both receive the benefits of the bloodrage....which is a very strong option. At the same time, the companion replaces the 1st, 8th and 16th level bloodline power...but that directly contradicts the notes on delayed ability gain of the bloodline powers, making the archetype an uncharacteristically non-functional one. I have no idea whether the bloodrage only applies to the companion, of whether the 3 bloodline powers are supposed to be lost or not...as presented, this does not work.

The second archetype would be the bloodcaster, who gains only a 3/4 BAB-progression, but adds all bard-spells and the abjuration and evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list to his spell list, replacing DR, Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge. Bloodrage is reduced/changed to +2 Str and Con as well as Cha. Blood Casting and Eschew Materials are gained at 1st level, with 11th level and 20th level increasing the bonuses to +4 and +6, respectively. A more caster-y bloodrager with a very potent spell-list that makes the magus cry in comparison.

The feral bloodrager gains a 1d6 bite and 2 1d4 claws when bloodraging and takes a -2 penalty to Will-saves - on a nitpick, it would have been nice to see the natural weapons specify whether they behave as primary or secondary and damage types would have been neat as well, though one can resort to the default choices. Starting at 11th level, natural weapons and weapons are treated as +1 size category when using a full attack while bloodraging, but at the cost of -2 Dex when calculating AC and Ref-saves; the crit-range of natural weapons is increased to 19-20, but conversely, the threat range of attacks versus the feral bloodrager increases by 1. I like this, engine-wise. The capstone makes bloodrage permanent, suppressed as a move action for Wis-mod rounds, with an additional size increase for the damage output of weapons. he also ignores fortification and the like and auto-confirms crits...but similarly, all crits against the bloodrager are automatically confirmed and ignore crit-negating abilities...ouch!!

The next archetype would be the scion of the blood, whose bloodrage neither conveys bonuses, nor penalties, but to make up for this, the bloodline powers of the scion's bloodlines are gained sooner: The 4th level power is gained at third and every subsequent bloodline power is gained an additional level earlier - the 8th level power is gained two levels earlier, for example. The archetype may also select a mutated bloodline's options, with the highest levels allowing for access to a related bloodline's options. The Student of Fury archetype receives a variant rage - learned rage yields +4 to Str, Con or Int, with higher levels increasing that to +6 and +8, with the option to distribute the bonuses in increments of 2 between, I assume, Int and Con - as written, it almost sounds like the Str-bonus could also be freely allocated, which would be min-maxy overkill. Instead of 1st level's bloodline power, the archetype receives an arcane pool and he may learn a magus arcana instead of a bloodrage power. Additionally, the archetype casts via Int and is a prepared spellcaster...with all the power that includes. Yeah, not comfortable with this archetype; it does not lose nearly enough for the power gain it receives.

The final archetype would be the Zen Rager, who receives a variant bloodrage he can maintain for 4 + Wisdom mod rounds, +2 rounds per level - he gains a +1 bonus to melee and thrown damage rolls as well as melee attack rolls and +3 to Will-saves. The zen rager also gains 3 temporary hit points per HD and the ability has a cooldown to prevent cycling-abuse. The upgrades increase these bonuses to +2/+4, 4 temporary hit points per HD and +3, +5 and 5 temporary hit points per HD, respectively. Instead of the 1st level's bloodline power, the archetype receives a monk-style AC-bonus while unarmored and unencumbered- Bloodline power-gain is delayed by 4 levels. All in all, perhaps my favorite herein.

Now next up would be a very interesting array of options - particularly for more down-to-earth/gritty groups - mundane bloodrager bloodlines, of which 5 are presented. The idea is genius in its simplicity, taking a bit of the very high-.magic flavor out of the bloodrager class, while still providing meaningful options. The first of these would be the Bestial bloodline which provides animal fang etc. as spells as well as a selection of correctly codified primary natural attacks, with 12th level providing advanced attack options like rend, gore etc. depending on the natural attack chosen. Being treated as animal for spell purposes and the option to treat allied animals as also bloodraging are interesting, though the latter ability is in dire need of a hard cap - otherwise putting one of these guys in an army-sized array of animals gets ridiculous pretty fast.

Second, there would be the guardian bloodline, which provides increased Constitution and AC-bonuses, with 4th level allowing for an immediate action to force an enemy attacking an ally (or casting a spell) to instead target you on a failed Will-save. This is a cool idea. However, what happens if you are not an eligible target for the attack, because you're further away/line of sight/effect is blocked? No idea. The ability looks deceptively simple and really isn't, with a lack of range and basically infinite uses, it requires further clarification. At higher levels, progressively more physical damage is converted to nonlethal damage, which is pretty cool. There also are upgrades to AC and CMD and as a capstone, you can redirect otherwise lethal attacks to you - and if you die due to those, you gain no negative levels from being resurrected. The Heroic bloodline gains a pala's smite evil, though the daily cap's wording is slightly troubling - The pdf specifies: "You can use this ability once per bloodrage, once per day, plus one additional time per day at 5th level and every 5 levels after that." -which could be read as the ability having a total cap or either a cap determined by the bloodrage, with additional uses per bloodrage hinging on the level. In short - this could be a bit more clear. Beyond that, we get the usual aura suspects.

The Hatred bloodline is interesting, in that its base ability, bloodlust, is a weapon that cuts both ways - while it nets a powerful + class level to attack and damage, it also means you have to succeed at a difficult save whenever you're damage to not fly into a murderous rage. Oh, and while the ability has a caveat that it does not stack with haste (not properly italicized), it does also yield you +1 attack versus the target at maximum BAB, which is insanely strong at 1st level. Higher levels increase speed and DR as well as damage output versus the respective adversary. I love the concept of this one, but the execution ends up as very strong. The plagued bloodline nets Charisma bonus to Fort-saves and allows you at 4th level to select on whether or not to contract a disease - oh, and you reduce damage inflicted by those. This becomes particularly relevant once you learn to coat weapons in your diseased blood, which is amazing...but imho should be gained sooner to make the playing experience unique from the get-go, instead of delaying this option to 8th level. 12th level yields a breath weapon of diseases, with the levels beyond providing higher DCs, with the capstone making you a deadly harbinger of contagion.

The pdf also features 5 wildblooded bloodlines: Eldritch, associated with the aberrant bloodline, nets you a frightening gaze at 8th level and a confusing aura at 16th...oh, and suppressing it is a standard action...ouch! The jabberwock bloodline, associated with the fey bloodline, nets you a spread burble that causes confusion or a line of sonic damage, with high-level options yielding some of the impressive defensive properties of the jabberwock. The phoenix bloodline, associated with the elemental (fire) bloodline, gains a reflexive shroud of fire with a proper cap and a capstone that has the phoenix signature auto-resurrection. The reaper bloodline, associated with the undead bloodline, has a damn cool ability at 4th level - if you hit a creature, it gains SR for healing spells! Damn cool...though the lack of a duration is troubling. At 16th level, those killed become harder to get back from the dead. The Wild Magic bloodline, associated with the arcane bloodline, lets you imbue force damage into melee attacks for a limited amount of time, with higher levels providing an increase to the enhancement bonuses of weapons wielded - this lets you basically break the +5 cap...so why not simply grant a regular bonus there instead of breaking this rule?

The pdf also contains several new feats sporting the (Blood)-descriptor, which may be taken by characters with a bloodline in place of a bloodline feat or power. Additional daily bloodline uses, gaining a bloodline power you lost due to exchanging it and increasing the damage output of such a power can be found here, with the latter being potentially problematic, considering it simply provides an x1.5 modifier for damage. Pretty cool on the non-Blood-feat side would be the option to take Con-damage to temporarily increase your Strength. Problematic, even at -2 class level s - one feat-access to a 1st level bloodline ability. Considering that passive benefits can be found there, some seriously powerful options can thus become available....and with follow-up feats, you can gain even higher level powers. Adding rage powers similarly seems like overkill to me.

The pdf also contains a couple of new spells: blood infusion allows you to temporarily share bloodline powers with allies at -2 levels, though active tricks will require the target to have an appropriate bloodrage class ability to activate. Numerical escalation is okay. The dragonblood storm is balanced in potency by the costly dragon-blood required for its effects, though groups featuring dragon PCs via ItC-Dragons, for example, should retain the cost for balance's sake. Cool: Those with the proper bloodline can instead pay in Con-damage, which seems more than fitting as balance for the power the spell offers. Quiet the Storm allows for the character to use mental skills and patience while bloodraging/engaging in raging song and helps mitigate fatigue etc., with raging strike allowing for the scaling ignoring of DR and hardness. All in all, the spell-selection here is pretty cool.

The pdf also features 2 magical weapons - the warlock's blade penalizes the saves of those hit by it and the savage gauntlet lets you literally punch holes through the hearts of foes, potentially insta-killing them - and yes, they're reasonably priced. The 3 armor special qualities include attuned, which is problematic: It makes you count as always in bloodrage for the purpose of bloodline power activation, which can become highly problematic in the case of bloodline powers balanced on the idea of bloodrage not being an infinite resource. Bloody is similarly BROKEN. Expend 1 hp per level as a free action to not expend bloodrage rounds. This is so ridiculously broken, I don't even know where to start - it allows you, with even a halfway decent healing strategy, to bloodrage infinite rounds. Blergh. calm armor eliminates the bloodrage penalties. The belt of howling fury, oddly, increases the benefits of rage, taking the unchained barbarian into account...but oddly, RAW, has no benefits for a bloodrager, specifically referring to the rage class feature. The blood-drenched handwraps can be soaked by a bloodrager via Con-damage - thereafter, they can be used by others to bloodrage and access that bloodrager's powers. Cool! Pauldrons of the Line increase the bloodrager's level by for the purpose of bloodline powers he can use - the lack of an up to character level cap and extent is pretty insane for the price-point.

The pdf comes with a cool bonus-pdf penned by Aaron Hollingsworth, which depicts the stalactaur, a CR 6 magical beast that can absorb light - thin of it as a dinosaur with razor-sharp, crystalline plates that can blind foes with flashes - and yes, the critter comes with a pretty cool full-color artwork!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good - apart from an italicization here and there, I noticed no grievous formal glitches. On a rules-language level, several wordings could have been more precise. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column standard and the pdf has nice full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Nathan Reinecke has so far delivered two superb books; in particularly his book on swashbucklers was truly impressive. I don't know what has happened in this book, but it feels rushed - while the rules-language looks precise at first glance, in several cases, it simply is not. From wide-open abilities to utterly overpowered delimitations of a limited resource, this pdf ticks off several no-goes of design... It's frustrating, really. The archetypes also feel a bit wonky in balance and, compared to the often inspired swashbuckler engines, pretty uninspired, covering the basic hybrid-y tricks. In short, this lacks the precision and passion that made me love his previous offerings and feels like the passion's not been there. The mundane bloodlines as a concept, while not perfect in execution, are intriguing and I hope to see more of them at one point. That being said, this is by far the weakest "...of Porphyra"-pdf I have analyzed in quite a while. Considering the issues I encountered (and I did not list all exploits), I can't go higher than 2.5 stars...though the low-price point and cool bonus critter make me round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodragers of Porphyra
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Stock Art: Female Gunslinger
by Jeremy Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2017 21:37:03

Great picture. There are surprisingly few stock art pieces of normal looking, normally dressed people with guns

THough one quibble, she is presumably right handed (as she's holding the rifle in her right hand) but the pistol is slung for use with the left hand



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Gunslinger
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Swashbucklers of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/10/2017 04:01:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though, as always, they are formatted for an A5-booklet (6'' by 9'') size - you can fit about 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

All right, so let's take a look at what the swashbucklers get here! The first archetype would be the Acrobatic Swordsman, who receives a modified deed list that provides a scaling bonus to Acrobatics to move around -making the swashbuckler...you know...actually halfway competent at swashbuckling! Sure, this may eliminate menacing swordplay, but things get cooler at 3rd level, where acrobatic twist allows the swashbuckler to count as occupying the sqaure he began his turn in, allowing him to flank with himself, rewarding acrobatic tricks. Instead of superior feint, 10th level provides the option to follow a, thanks to Acrobatics avoided attack of opportunity, with an attack executed as a swift action attack. Also at 7th level, the swashbuckler may temporarily reduce an enemy's speed when hitting them, with 15th level providing an Improved Whirlwing Attack-style, panache-powered storm of death. Charmed Life is replaced with faster movement, Nimble is more efficient (and actually relevant!) when moving and both weapon and armor mastery are properly modified to suit the archetype's needs. This archetype represents an unmitigated win for the class. It lets the swashbuckler actually skirmish. Two thumbs up!

The second archetype would be the anatomist, who is basically a debuff machine - instead of opportune parry and riposte (which is moved to 7th level), the archetype learns the complex targeted strike mechanic, which allows for the targeting of body parts like wings, legs, etc., with scaling benefits for each of the areas targeted: Very cool btw.: You can daze etc. targets, but a truly elegant caveat prevents the ability from being cheesed. Also interesting: Panache's regain mechanic is modified to instead pertain to enemies hampered by targeted strike. 3rd level nets sneak attack at -2 levels and 5th level replaces the critical range increase with the option to pass critical hits to allies via Butterfly Sting. And yep, another archetype that cannot be cheesed, that plays differently and has a sufficiently unique engine. In short - another winner.

The Braggart does not have panache in the traditional sense - instead, he needs to basically bluster and Bluff - if his boasting is good enough, he'll get the panache required for that respective deed he tries to perform. While this reliably (skills are so easy to boost) delimits panache as a resource, it also eliminates the passive always-on benefits of deeds and panache-based feats, which makes the engine actually come out as pretty elegant in not only representing the concept in question, but also in balancing it. Instead of opportune parry and riposte, the character can boast of his skill, increasing temporarily his stats...though the more he wants to increase them, the higher the DC'll be. Here, you can see, pretty well, actually, math in action: The boosts can be significant, yes - but the author has obviously done his math. Even with all item-cheesing etc., I couldn't break this. Kudos. Big, big kudos. Yes, this archetype is all bluster; all Bluff; but even with the usual +20-cheeses via spells etc., it remains a valid option that doesn't overstep its boundaries. The archetype may not be for every group, but I very much like the execution here.

The dandy is fighting armor and shield-less and thus gains an AC bonus governed by Charisma. The emphasis of the interplay between sharp tongue and sharp weapon is nice here: The dandy is a superb face and may use panache to increase his social skills with surge-like boosts that can even explode (i.e., if you roll a 6 on the surge's d6, you roll again and add it!) and the archetype builds on demoralizing foes, increasing the damage output against them. At higher levels, the dandy may even expend all panache to try to avoid death by negotiating with the ole' reaper. Nice face-type swashbuckler.

The dastard can be summed in one sentence in that the archetype represents the dirty trick specialist swashbuckler, with panache regain tied to dirty tricks. A solid engine tweak, though one that can be reliably cheesed regarding panache-regaining. Not a big fan of this guy. The honorable swordsman replaces derring-do with the option to not be moved while he at least has 1 panache and the archetype, as a whole, is basically a swashbuckler/samurai crossover - these guys can use katanas, replace charmed life with resolve, well, you get the idea. I liked this hybrid-y one more than I figured I would, courtesy of the flavor and the overall nice cultural niche this has.

Nightingales are masters of voice projection that may employ their hypnotic song instead of Stealth and Bluff - once it is gained, the two skills are immediately retrained. Basically, this is the slightly supernatural-seeming killer whose weird song clouds the mind of those nearby, the singing ninja/rogue/scoundrel. While I am not the biggest fan of the effective skill-collation the archetype performs, I found myself contemplating it still - it is a relatively simple concept from a mechanics point of view, but one that oozes flavor.

The Quixotic Swordsman is hilarious: Instead of panache, they get a nonsense pool that greatly fortifies his will...but at the same time, 2nd level's regain mechanic is the fun part - these guys fight windmills, foes that are not there, but, on a failed save to resist this madness, they regain nonsense - RAW the only way to do so apart from resting. Not for every group or campaign, but hilarious in the right context. Finally, the scrapper may expend panache to move and use Acrobatics to potentially negate attacks, use panache to gain temporary DR...but the most interesting aspect of these guys beyond the defensive deeds would be their unarmed martial arts - yup, these guys are unarmed swashbuckler and the longer the fight is, the more he fights, the more potent his assaults become. Whether it's the agile Eastern martial artist of a Terrence Hill-like pugilist...what could have been a basic hybrid-y archetype actually has an interesting mechanical engine and thus, playstyle.

The new feats herein contain some seriously nice options as well: Better Acrobatics for better skirmishing, for one...and then there would be an alternate representation of the concept of a weapon bin via a feat, if the integration of bind-maneuvers was something you tried to avoid. Better footwork and the classic throw at the end of movement and twisting blades? Jep, can see that. The pdf also introduces 2 new style feat-chains, with the Acrobatic Style allowing for better skirmishing and maneuverability and even the substitution of Fort- with Ref-saves while active: Since this does not wreck non-combat saves, is circumstantial and the third of the Style's feats...I'm actually good with it. The second style introduced would be Flynn Style, which nets you bonus AoOs for parry-purposes and enhanced ripostes. This could have easily been a broken array...but the feats actually have some nice balancing tweaks - the feats provide additional options and thus, more flexibility, but deliver these powerful options at the cost of no panache-regains when employing them. Want to play a scrapper with a weapon? Well, there's also a feat for that. Alternate better throwing into melee? Possible. There is also a 3-feat-tree that lets you use items with progressively larger shield-hands and an alternate Cha-based Mobility can similarly be found - and yes, it still requires Dodge, so it just makes what would be a feat-tax for some characters on their way to Spring Attack convey an actual benefit. Kudos!

The pdf also contains 2 new armor qualities and 4 weapon qualities. One of the armor qualities which nets basically dodging panache, erroneously refers to panache as prestige, while the other enhances Acrobatics. The weapon enhancements include increased precision damage on crits, increased mobility and there would be a quality that acts as basically a once per day deed-and panache reservoir. The pricing of these all looks solid to me. The pdf also features 3 wondrous items - the jaunty cap that helps when a swashbuckler's stranded sans panache; the puffed shirt of the fancy man can be enchanted - and then acts as armor. Nice for the fashion-conscious noble...or infiltrations! The Swordmaster's Flair category of items are basically defensive accessories powered by panache. One slight complaint - the slot should say "varies", not "none" - at least when I interpret the construction requirements and pricing choice correctly.

The pdf concludes with Theon Augustus, a CR 10 dandy - all ready for your perusal.

Know what's also cool? The pdf comes with the CR 13 Lepidoral agathion in a cool bonus-pdf...and yes, it depicts the cool rabbit-y outsider in full-color glory! Have I mentioned aura of mischief and confusing strikes? Pretty cool critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, almost top-notch: I noticed some very minor hiccups, but yeah - this is a precise book. Kudos to the editors! Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 1-column standard and the book sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

I don't like the swashbuckler class. I love the idea, I'm a huge fan of the classic movies...but the execution...not so much. There is a reason I've been looking for 3pp-options for it for quite a while. Nathan Reinecke delivers a truly impressive toolkit for the class. Not only are pretty much all options presented here valid - they eliminate some serious issues swashbucklers faced (cough Mobility /cough). The archetypes do not shy away from complex operations and, yes, innovation even! Several archetypes herein represent actual innovation. This pdf makes the swashbuckler a good skirmisher, with several options presented to emphasize different tasks. In short, apart from the dastard, I consider all archetypes herein to be shining examples of their craft. The feats allow for cool options and are well-priced regarding prerequisites; the items are similarly well-priced. In short: This shows SERIOUS care and research. Heck, it has a skill-based bonus system that cannot be cheesed to smithereens, even with the massive bonus options for skills. In short - this not only has flavor galore that does not get in the way (if the Quixotic swordsman looks too gonzo for you, reskin the guy as a traumatized/insane...and there you go), it also shows that the author engaged in serious research and did not shy away from good ole' math. Oh, and the pdf is seriously inexpensive.

For the more than fair price-point, there is frankly nothing more I could have asked of a class-pdf like this. Considering that the few glitches I found were cosmetic, I feel more than justified in rating this 5 stars + seal of approval. This is pretty much a must-own pdf of options for anyone who wants to play a swashbuckler. My one gripe with the pdf is that I would have loved to see more reasons to stick with the swashbuckler class at the highest levels....but that, dear readers, is just me offering the most well-meant of constructive criticisms - the swashbuckler is better off for having access to this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swashbucklers of Porphyra
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Death Slaves of Eternity (DCC)
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2017 19:06:40

This is a fantastic adventure. I ran it as a beginning to a Sword and Sorcery style campaign. There are mysteries to solve that won't completely slow down the action. The monsters are well thought out and have deeper purposes to being located in this dungeon. This is an adventure that needs a few sessions to show all the intricate encounters and interplay between the different factions the party will encounter. Myself and my group enjoyed this funnel. I recommend checking it out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Death Slaves of Eternity (DCC)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Psychic Disciplines of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2017 06:52:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, though they're formatted for A5 (6'' by 9'' size), which means you can fit 4 of these pages on one sheet of paper if you're printing this out.

All right, so let's take a look at these psychic disciplines!

The first discipline herein would be the aura discipline, with phrenic pool governed by Wisdom. A slight complaint here - it would have been nice to have the bonus spells with superscript indicators of their sourcebooks, but oh well. The discipline allows the psychic to glow at-will, using phrenic pool to intensify the potency of the glow to dispel/counter darkness. Manifesting the aura doubles as a practitioner of the way of the force (which was introduced in Unarmed and Dangerous), with all relevant rules provided - namely that this acts as mage armor. Nice: The ability takes into account the interaction with the read aura skill unlock! 5th level lets bracers or armor stack with your mage armor and 13th level , you can expend one phrenic pool point for judgment light, with a second judgment available for +2 points.

Cathexis would be next - the process of investing psychic or emotional energy in an object, place or the like to bring an effect into being, in case you did not know. The attribute governing the pool would once again be Wisdom, and the discipline adds Summon Good/Neutral/Evil Monster as bonus feats and when summoning a creature with the appropriate template, you have control over the precise alignment regarding the law-chaos-axis of the beings you call forth. When calling forth a creature whose alignment matches your own, you can either decrease casting time to a standard action or increase the duration to 1 minute per level, with a limit of one such summoning active at a given time - thankfully. 5th level yields Augment Summoning and allows you to undercast summon monster spells, allowing you to replace discipline bonus spells. Interesting idea there. At 13th level, when you conjure forth a being further removed than one step on the alignment axis, you can enhance the duration or reduce the casting time analogue to the lower level ability, representing you calling forth the beasts from your Id.

Duelists also employ Wisdom as governing attribute for the phrenic pool and may cast intellect fortress, mental barrier, thought shield and tower of iron will even when flat-footed or prevented from taking a standard action. Interesting: If you cast one of these spells in the previous round, you may cast a spell of this list of a lower level without expending a spell slot, allowing for combos. At 5th level, undercasting ego whip, id insinuation, mindthrust or psychic crush adds Heighten Spell and makes the spell clock in at its maximum potency, which is pretty damn strong. 13th level, finally, lets you cast one of the defensive spells from the previous list 1/round as a free action, even if it's not your turn. (Nice catch regarding free actions!)

The kata discipline is governed by Charisma, offering true strike, spiritual weapon and later blade barrier and even mass defending sword. The discipline yields proficiency with a weapon of your choice (with unarmed strikes being a viable option, granting Improved Unarmed Strike). You gain Weapon Focus in the chosen weapon when choosing a simple or martial weapon. When you inflict damage with this weapon, you regain phrenic pool points - which brings me to an oversight that renders this broken: A) Lack of a kitten-proof caveat. B) All comparable phrenic pool replenishing discipline abilities have a daily total cap that is absent from this one in a very unpleasant oversight.

The discipline modifies spiritual weapons etc. to duplicate your kata weapon, also allowing for proper interaction with Weapon Focus, provided you have it. 5th level lets you replace a thought component with a somatic component and may use the weapon-wielding kata hand for the like. 13th level provides auto-success when casting psychic spells defensively...which is pretty OP. Why not instead grant a massive bonus?

The psychic surgeon discipline is similarly governed by Charisma and gains several healing-themed spells added to the list of spells known in addition to the bonus spells. Problematic: You regain phrenic pool points for using cure spells to revive creatures from unconsciousness. I'll pull out the bag o' kittens...and yes, the spells still limit this, but that limit exceeds that of comparable phrenic regeneration and can be cheesed easily. Not gonna get near my game. 5th level unlocks the inversions of the healing spells as well and 13th level makes healing have a range of close instead.

The final discipline would be yoga, which is governed by Wisdom and nets Escape Artist as a class skill and adds class level to such skill checks. Thought or emotion components of spells can be replaced with somatic components, but at the cost of being susceptible to arcane spell failure if you do. 5th level doubles self-targeting only spell durations. At 13th level, both thought and emotion components may be replaced in favor of somatic components.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good on a formal level, though the rules-level has some balance issues. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard and the pdf has no artworks beyond the cover. Nice: The pdf is fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity.

Carl Cramér delivers some interesting psychic disciplines herein, though a few of the options herein lack crucial balancing caveats included in comparable disciplines. That being said, the low price does help here and the pdf, while not perfect, can make for an interesting addition to the game, making it pretty much a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, though I can't round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Psychic Disciplines of Porphyra
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/02/2017 07:44:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are formatted for booklet-size (A5, or 6'' by 9''), which allows you to fit comfortably 4 pages on one sheet of A4 paper, if your eyesight's good enough.

All right, bloodlines...so what do we get? The first bloodline herein would be "animal", which receives Handel Animal as class skill, beast shapes and aspects etc. as bonus spells, quicker casting of spells that summon animals. Additionally, the sorceror gets scaling claws (which, while not specifically noting their category, are otherwise precise), increased speed, more summoned critters, +2 natural AC as well as scent and, as a capstone, shapechanger apotheosis with at-will beast shape III.

The second bloodline would be artifice, which nets Disable Device as class skill and focuses on animating objects, repairing and at high levels sports grasping hand and iron body. Bloodline arcana-wise, we see that this sorceror uses Intelligence as governing attribute for spell-casting and get trapfinding, a construct familiar, a snare and another ranger trap at 9th level, +1 ranger trap at 10th level and every level thereafter, with 15th level doubling their damage output. Also at this level, the soceror may expend two uses of the trap ability to remote-trigger a trap within 60 ft. The capstone is a construct apotheosis.

The decay bloodline's next and gains Heal as a class skill. The bonus spells contain acid, slime and, obviously, decay-themed options that range from touch of slime to horrid wilting, with e.g. echolocation thrown in for good measure. The sound-sub-theme is also reflected in the bonus spells, where obvious choices à la Contagious Spell or Diehard exist alongside Echoing Spell. The bloodline may affect oozes and plants with enchantments. Bloodline powers include short-range acid spit, an untyped damage-causing touch attack that is particularly effective versus created objects and structures, a bonus to saves versus mind-affecting effects...and something really cool at 15th level: Decomposed body nets you +20 to Escape Artist as well as better squeezing and a 50% variant of fortification. Damn cool! As a capstone, you get an extraordinary immunity to mind-affecting effects and may at-will plant shape II into a shambling mound.

The divine bloodline nets Knowledge (religion) and the bonus spells of a chosen domain at level 3, +1 for every 2 levels after third. The chosen domain's domain power is gained at 1st level, with 9th level unlocking the second domain power - and yes, they're governed by Charisma instead of Wisdom. As bloodline arcana, you get channel energy, with 15th level reducing the activation action to swift and 20th level providing outsider apotheosis as well as resistance 10 to two energy types of your choice from the traditional 5.

The giant bloodline nets Knowledge (history) as well as the usual suspects of enlarge person, giant form I + II, and finally, clashing rocks, with Reach Spell, Heighten Spell etc. allowing for "big" magic. Summoned giants or creatures affected by your size-increase spells gain an additional +4 Strength (ouch) and 1st level unlocks boulder hurling: You conjure forth boulders and increase their damage over the levels. While something in me cringed when I read that they "do 4d6." and while I'm missing boulder damage type, I like the idea. Higher levels yield reach, natural armor, low-light vision giant subtype and at-will SPs, immunities and better camouflage/throwing, depending on giant type chosen. Finally, 20th level nets at-will frightful aspect, which also works in conjunction with other polymorph effects.

The insect bloodline provides Handle Animal and lets you affect vermin with mind-affecting spells, with the bonus feats including Fast Healer, Brisk Spell, Toxic Spell, etc. The bonus spells granted include ant haul, barkskin, greater prying eyes, swarm skin, etc. If the skill was not ample clue, the bloodline lets you use Handle Animal with vermin. 3rd level nets mandibles that fail to specify both damage type inflicted and the type of natural weapon they qualify as - there are cases of both primary and secondary mandible-bites, so yeah. 9th level yields +4 to saves versus mind-affecting effects and 15th +2 to natural armor, climb speed and +10 to Acrobatics alongside being always treated as having a running start. 20th level nets immunity to mind-affecting effects and 60 ft. perfect fly speed.

Nature's Wrath provides the Survival skill and spells that range from magic fang to tar pool and tsunami. The bonus feats include making spells more bombastic (Widen + Reach Spell) and enhancing the sorceror's survival-chances. 1st level nets you a druid orison and at 3rd level, you gain both low-light vision and a druid spell, +1 every 2 levels thereafter. The bloodline also gets an animal companion at 1st level, who may deliver touch spells at 9th level. At 15th level, +2 to overcome SR is unlocked and, as a capstone, we get the ability for both sorc and companion to ignore difficult terrain and wind effects...and immunity to damage from spells you cast. Nice capstone.

The final bloodline would be the shapeshifter, who receives Knowledge (nature) as a class skill. Bonus spell-wise, we get savage maw at 3rd level, alter self at 5th and the first iterations of elemental body, form of the dragon and giant shape, concluding in shapechange at 19th level. The bonus feats include Arcane Strike, Fleeting Spell and Spontaneous Metafocus for some unconventional choices. Transformation (polymorph) spells with a duration of 1 minute per level are extended to 10 minutes per level and when in the shape of a creature that gains a racial skill bonus, you get that skill bonus...which is intriguing, though I'm not sure how that interacts with alternate racial traits...are they included in the available selection or not? Cool: At 3rd level, you can use Silent and Still Spell without increasing the spell level while polymorphed. 9th level lets you prolong the effects of a polymorph spell indefinitely, though at the cost of potentially losing your identity if you remain in the shape in question too long. 15th level nets communication while polymorphed, helping to maintain the charade. As a capstone, the bloodline nets an apotheosis to shapechanger, the option to be under the effects of multiple polymorphs and pretty free shapeshifting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-level. While tehre are a couple of non-standard verbiage choices and some interactions that could be slightly cleaner, as a whole, this pdf should not generate issues when using it. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column, printer-friendly standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér's monstrous bloodlines are solid options that provide the means to play a cleric-y, druid-y etc. sorceror. The general array of options presented is power-wise in line and should not yield significant issues at any table. There are some abilities herein I very much enjoyed and that is, frankly, more than I expected. You see, I'm jaded. I have read and analyzed more bloodlines than I care to count and Interjection Games' Big Book of Bloodlines has set an increasingly high standard, with bloodlines that feature unique subsystems etc. This humble pdf is less ambitious and, while not perfect, it does provide an inexpensive, nice little array of options with hiccups being mostly cosmetic and in the "fineprint" of the rules. As such, I feel justified in rating this as 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

EDIT: Oh, I failed to mention this: A bonus pdf with a nice CR 5 critter, the Chingatrüll, is included in the deal - very cool!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Wood
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/28/2017 07:53:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Elements series of modules/sites/set-pieces to introduce into a given campaign clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33.5 pages of content, though these pages are formatted for A5-sized (6'' by 9'') book, which means you can, provided your eyesight is good enough, jam up to 4 pages on one sheet of paper if you're printing this out.

This being pretty much an adventure-location-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great! The goblins presented here are small humanoids, accomplished miners with a lazy streak and a decidedly fey touch, with some sporting only a finger and a thumb on one hand and a reputation for being pretty ugly and abducting kids, but also for being talented craftsmen, provided you can keep their tendency to cut corners in check. Beyond basic adventure hooks, the pdf also contains a brief sketch of making this basically a goblin-themed funnel - one that features a table of nasty faerie tricks that include tiny flint arrows that magically and slowly burrow inside the affected being and worse...

The funnel is basically divided in a daytime reconnaissance and a nighttime full-blown exploration, which is a clever way of getting twice the value out of a given locale. Speaking of locale: The PCs will be able to encounter goblinoid cross between a bridge-troll and a water-beetle (yep, with artwork), witness red-hooded goblins haggle with elf-like faerie and twig-men. The PCs may encounter spatial disturbances that loop the area back upon itself; the PCs can encounter the goblin king of the red-hoods, perchance receive charms from the goblin witch doctor. Speaking of which: If the PCs ask the good doctor for advice, you'll have a nice and handy table to consult, which, you guessed it, does contain not only pieces of advice, but also rules-relevant repercussions for the respective prophecy.

Have I mentioned the grey ones? The wise, carnivorous sheep that answer your questions...but if they do, you're their lawful prey? There is also a dance-inducing faerie ring; rock-shell crabs. What about the small spider, whose voice can be captured, teaching the character to speak spider...which may lead to a sidequest to help her against her bullying spider sisters. Oh, and Gaulmurk, the ogre-sorceror is actually looking for such a voice, willing to trade it versus the weird of Sortharl that not only constantly changes appearance when unattended (massive table included), it's benefits are similarly chaotic.

Oh, and the pdf actually contains rules for 0-level goblins as well as the goblin warrior and goblin witch doctor class, both of which come fully depicted...so if you've been itching to lay a gobbo-game, you can do just that. As always, we receive information on how to get the most out of this particular book in the handy "squeezing it dry"-section...which btw. should be mandatory for all kinds of modules.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, most of which I have not seen before. Cartography is in b/w and solid, though no player-friendly map is included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Daniel J. Bishop is one of the authors, who, by now, has not only earned my respect - I go into each of his offerings expecting to be wowed in some form or another. That usually is bad news for an author, for I am one jaded bastard and I have seen a lot at this point. We have seen in the amazing "Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores"-series (Get it! If you're not playing DCC, convert it!) that he can do faerie tales meet horror; he can do weird and sword & sorcery...and this pdf is proof he can do classic faerie tale material as well. This pdf breathes the spirit of the original tales of the brothers Grimm; it is suffused with an angle of the strange and uncommon and depicts the environments and beings in a captivating and concise manner.

The added classes for goblins are a nice plus and indeed, this could be read as a great scavenging ground, not only as a set-piece. In short, he once again did it and created one great pdf. While personally, I considered the Giggling Deep to be slightly more intriguing, that is just a matter of personal taste. This most certainly constitutes one amazing pdf...but has the added handicap of having to compete with another goblin-centric set-piece by the author: Compared with the Goblin Market in Faerie Tales from Unlit Shores I: The Creeping Beauties, it falls a bit behind. In fact, it is my contention that perhaps the best use for this pdf is as a supplement to the amazing aforementioned module. (Srsly, if you're a DCC-judge, these are must-own; even if you're not, they're worth converting!!) Well worth the fair asking price, my final verdict for this pdf will thus clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Wood
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Stock Art: Bitter Tree
by Aaron F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2017 09:55:20

While I was looking for art to complement a bog/swamp area surrounded by a forest, I stumbled upon this piece. I literally could of used it three times in my adventure but it actually inspired me to make a new monster and I settled on using it for part of that description. There is a nice play of colors with the blues, greens and slight orange in the sky. There is also a nice shadow in the trunk...is it a door? a mouth? or just part of the tree....it can get the imagination going. Anyways, I was impressed with Jayaraj Paul's work and recommend it for your own projects.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Bitter Tree
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Hybrid Class: Armjack
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/24/2017 04:07:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The armjack hybrid class presented here represents a hybrid of bard and fighter that gets a d10 HD, 6 + Int-mod skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, all armors and shields, including tower shields. The armjack gets a full BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-save progression.

The armjack is a hybrid of bard and fighter and thus begins play with cry to arms, a variant of bardic performance that is started as a standard action and then maintained as a free action, with 7th level and 13th level reducing the activation action to, optionally, a move action or swift action. Nice catch: the original activation action can still be used. 1st level can yield +1 to atk, +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 2nd level nets a bonus to Will-saves as an option (improving at 6th level and every 4 thereafter); 4th level features a 60 ft.-range +2 to damage that increases by +2 at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 6th level can yield temporary hit points, 1 per HD of the affected creature. Nice: Has a cool down. Finally, 10th level allows for the ignoring of 5 DR (including, RAW, DR/epic), which increases to DR 10/-. The ability can be maintained for 3 + Cha-mod rounds, +2 rounds per level.

Additionally, the class begins play with judder strike, which allows for the free action addition of 1 sonic damage, +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 2nd level, alongside every 4 levels thereafter, nets you a combat feat and the armjack may substitute Charisma for Strength for the purpose of combat feat effects. For these feats, the armjack is also treated as a full-progression fighter. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the armjack reduces the armor check penalty of armor worn and increases the max Dex-value of them. Unique: The armjack adds an armor's AC bonus to saves versus language-dependent/sonic effects/deafening/etc. Like that! Starting at 7th level, the armjack may select an advanced armor training instead of the numerical increases the ability provides and the ability counts as armor training for prereq-purposes.

At 4th level, the armjack can Cha-mod rounds long gain a combat feat he meets the prerequisites for, +1 daily use for every 4 levels beyond 4th. At 5th level, the armjack selects a weapon group, gaining +1 to atk and damage with it, with every 4 levels thereafter adding another group and increasing the bonus of a previously gained group. The bonus damage thus gained is once again sonic and the armjack may, at 9th level, be replaced with instead an advanced weapon training option. 6th level provides a minor bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate and lets the armjack ignore racial prerequisites in feats, courtesy of his outlandish ways, with 10th level providing proficiency with all exotic weapons. 12th level makes the armjack be treated as lawful, even though he isn't, with DR 5/chaotic and benefits from axiomatic weaponry and spells etc included. Starting at 14th level, the Will-save bonus no longer consumes daily uses of cry to arms and at 16th level nets 1/day heroes' feast as a SP. At 18th level, he may use cry to arms even when paralyzed, unconscious, etc. and 19th level nets immunity to sonic damage and the deafened condition while wearing armor and shield. As a capstone, he reduces any penalties to atk etc. granted by weapons by Cha-mod and may apply Weapon Focus etc. to all his weapons. Pretty annoying oversight: It is pretty evident that advanced weapons/armor training refer to the class option by the weapon master and the pdf notes "see below" for these, when the respective lists are curiously absent from the pdf, requiring some research, which was no problem for me, but may annoy or confuse less rules-savvy players.

The hybrid class does receive some serious supplemental options, with favored class options for a metric ton of Porphyran races as well as two archetypes included: The first would be the Glory Hound, who receives a variant cry to arms that focuses on keeping allies standing/last stand like visuals. Instead of outlandish ways, he may use Cha-mod instead of Dex to calculate Ref-saves and has an aura that allows for rolling twice when trying to resist fatigue/exhaustion with 16th level netting a 1/day sympathetic vibration. The second archetype included here would be the revolutionary, who replaces judder strike with Gunsmith and is locked into the firearm weapon group, with several unique benefits. Solid.

The pdf also features 12 new feats, though some, like gaining +4 to Bluff to convey a secret message, must be called filler here. The judder strike mechanic of the class can be modified via different feats,, adding for example save-or-be-deafened effects to judder crits, a 15th level quivering palm duplicate...and there are other interesting tricks: Sharing temporarily combat feats via drills, for one. Also nice: Healing while affected by bardic performance...and yes, it cannot be cheesed. The fire-damage-dealing enhancing Flamboyant Style is pretty cool. The pdf concludes with Captain Mynxie Marie, a nice CR 10 sample armjack who even comes with a brief ditty.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches in the rules-language. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover.

Aaron Hollingsworth's armjack is frankly better than I expected it to be. From the base-classes and the blurb, I expected the class to be an identity-less option, one of these "let's smash two classes together"-hybrids. The armjack is NOT like that. The class options and playstyle are distinct and set it apart as a class from both of its parents, which is a big, big deal for me. On the downside, when compared to the author's amazing Luminary (seriously worth getting!), its identity is less pronounced - when you see the class in combat, you won't necessarily identify it immediately as an armjack.

That being said, I consider it pretty jarring that the advanced training options have not been included, particularly since they would have offered a means of further tweaking the established options in favor of new and unique tricks. That being said, the class even manages to sneak in some mechanic innovation here and there. So, how to rate this? That's where it becomes a bit difficult for me: The armjack is a viable, well-crafted hybrid class, but one that feels like it does not realize the full extent of its own potential. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - a nice, if not perfect addition to the Porphyran class roster.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Armjack
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

CE 7 - The Giggling Deep
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/23/2017 01:59:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Elements-series of set-pieces/modules/environments for DCC clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, ~1/2 page editorial, 1.5 pages SRD, leaving us with 28 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pages are A5-sized (6'' by 9''), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on one sheet of paper if you print it out.

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

...

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great! So, somewhere in a complex of your choosing, there is a stone cap, bedecked with runes. Via brains or brawn, read magic or thieving skills etc., the PCs can open this cap, unearthing the cap - and one it is sealed, it cannot be opened from within...so definite care should be taken. Oh, and fumbles opening it receive their own table! Beyond the cap, a natural cave system lies, illuminated by bioluminescene that is generated by strange, floating motes, by slime and glowing globules, driving home the weirdness of the place. The cavern is uncomfortably hot and humid, requiring Fort saves with progressive -1d penalties, with sloped tunnels adding a sense of verticality and depth to the complex - so yes, as far as the basic complex is concerned, I am pretty impressed here.

This flavor of a truly strange place is further enhanced in the random encounters, where crosses between dragonfly and enormous earwigs glitter with opalescent sheen (full color artwork provided!), ants made of metal with globs of orange jelly for heads, albino koala-like bears covered in glowing pus-sores with prehensile tongues and stranger beings loom. Furthermore, the goremera can be found here: Shapeshifting between a vaguely humanoid form and that of a chimera made of viscera, this dread entity can only be truly slain in these caverns, is highly resilient to most types of damage and reforms after death, making for an amazing and horrific recurring antagonist. In a lesser module, that creature could carry a whole adventure - here, it is just one of the wonders the PCs will encounter.

The level of detail and interesting ideas also extends to treasure, with wands coming with proper command words and treasures, from jade scorpions to endless quivers (that only remain endless as long as no arrow is sold or given away...) - the rewards are cool and breathe the spirit a good DCC module should have - one of wonder and fear in equal parts. The PCs, while exploring these caverns, may have run afoul of violet jellies - their destruction may well get them into deep trouble, as the creatures are the sensory organs of Mycarnos, a powerful sentient fungus. Oh, and the things on the cover? With the long, paralytic tongues? They're smart...so if one of your fellow PCs is suddenly missing, he may be in the process of being chewed to bits by these ambush predators.

At a hidden shrine, the PCs may trade secrets for divine boons; they may encounter spiked tortoises...and of course, there is a MASSIVE, several table-spanning generator to randomly make mushrooms from the fungal forest that the PCs choose to consume - the generator spans 4 tables, which should result in a vast array of wildly different benefits...and risks. Kudos for going the extra mile here! Have I mentioned that intruders into a hidden sanctum may be forced to deal with terrorpins, basically upright-walking mecha-turtles with razor-sharp claws? These receive their own, neat full-color artwork...alongside the red-robed wizardess Vos, the Spell-thief, who makes these caverns her lair. Kudos for her artwork, btw.!

Well, and then there would be the eponymous Giggling Deep, whose depths and susuring murmurs contains secrets untold, particularly for magic-users and elves...but at a terrible, potential lure, for the vast chasm of the giggling dark awaits the PCs, calling to them...and those that listen to the dread giggling may well find their steps irrevocably drawn to the edge, to jump and join the mysterious cacophony...

The pdf also contains notes for the judge to get the utmost out of the pdf, which is a damn fine touch.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to the 1-column booklet-size-standard and the pdf generally is pretty printer-friendly. The full-color artworks provided are nice and the cartography in b/w is neat as well, though I wished the pdf had a player-friendly iteration to cut up and hand out.

Daniel J. Bishop is an amazing AUTHOR as well as an adventure-designer. While I like his designs, I am mostly drawn to the wealth of grotesque and wondrous weirdness, the precise and evocative prose, which he employs when painting the picture of locations inhabited by creatures wondrous and weird, with properties that bring home the mystery of the magical. In short: This is an amazing location to drop into your game. It features unique critters, a reason to return to the place, copious chances for RP and interaction, has the potential to provide several cool boss fights and recurring villains, can be inserted pretty much everywhere...what more can one ask of such a humble book? This is evocative and cool enough to warrant converting if you're playing another system - just as an aside. So yeah. Amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 7 - The Giggling Deep
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
by R.L. D. C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2017 15:27:53

When one thinks about the Drow, one should think about the Dark assassin hidden in shadow. Perhaps thinking of the strange priest of darks Gods and rituals.

But too often, I think of tropes, tired and old concepts that have been done to death.

Then, we have the Strivog. These are the Drow that other Drow have nightmares about, the drow that make old Gods nervous and wonder if they should take notes. The Bone Drow are the nightmare fuel Gms look for when they want the players come away, looking at the night with mild concern.

Traders in death and flesh, the Bone Drow are a wonderful and refreshing addition to the gaming world and I for one, welcome the Strivog, with open hand and hidden dagger...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Drow of Porphyra - The Xelusine: Sirens of Sin
by R.L. D. C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/17/2017 15:22:24

Very well written, a new and intelligent approach to an ancient race. The Xelusine are presented in a way that will allow players to play drow with a new mind set from the old trope ridden drow of old. Clever provocateurs who move freely within society, becoming the movers and shakers of society.

I see the Bard and Rogue Drow coming into new fun play with this addition to the race.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drow of Porphyra - The Xelusine: Sirens of Sin
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/16/2017 03:35:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the series depicting the diverse drow cultures of the patchwork planet Porphyra clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 28 pages of content, so let's take a look!

One note first: This depicts a capital letters EVIL drow culture and as such contains some mature themes (hence no PFRPG-logo) - it's not grimdark and won't shock kids in their puberty, but sensitive small kids shouldn't read this. If you need guidance: If your kids love Conan or enjoy reading darker stuff, they'll be fine.

On a far-off planet, at one point, the elves were exiled from the light for offending the gods, becoming that world's wintery bogeymen, one and all, only allowed to roam when warmth and light receded. Cold as ice, haggard and drawn, they ravaged and slew...only to be drawn, inevitably, back into the cold confines of the underworld. Thus they languished and anxiously watched the calender, awaiting entropy and the ever-advancing assault of winter whittle away the days of summer, year by year - until they were finally free...or so they believed. It is in these days of gods that had abandoned their world that they encountered a deity of death - and it is the horror-fraught exile through this deity's land that forever transformed the strivog, in both mind and body, with the food of the dead, the acts of despicable cannibalism and worse demanding their toll, converting them to the worship of the dread entity...but also granting them strength, purpose and organization.

Thus they arose from the Icekrypt, a magically frozen wasteland of ice...and it is from these cold regions that they set forth, established their guilds and followed the deadly commands of their Lich Queen. Their culture is slow and deliberate, like the eternal ice and the patience of the dead; there is not much place for warmth in the hearts of the strivog and their brush with death left them even less fertile, which may be the once chance other races have. Ruthlessly meritocratic, their guilds and reputations and ranks are further extolled, painting a vivid picture of deadly culture, organized and structured and as inevitable and deliberate as the eternal ice, enslaving and generating vassal-dependencies, calling to the service of the dread Dark Maw.

The laws of the dead have been applied with grisly potency to the culture and the disturbing drow worship their deity via the grand edifices of sinew and bone these chillingly (haha) civilized drow craft in their calculated, merciless savagery, creating an overall highly-structured empire of ice and bone that manages to convey a concise and sensible picture of an evil empire.

Racial trait-wise, the strivog receive +2 to Dex and Int, -2 Cha, drow immunities, carrion sense, darkvision, resistance 5 to cold, +1 to the DC of necromancy spells (and, if the Wis is higher than 11, 1/day chill touch, command undead, touch of fatigue) , +2 when interacting with undead (should specify precisely the skills to which it applies, though it's clear that they should apply to the social skills) and undead made by them gain +2 turn resistance! OUCH! They gain 6 + class level SR (should be character level) and suffer a -4 penalty to saves versus hot climates, -2 to saves to resist fire spells and effects.

Now here is an interesting take on alternate racial traits: Flavor-wise, the strivog share traits with the undead/ half-undead, but to maintain balance, they do not gain these traits, instead allowing them to choose their progression and specializations via alternate racial traits in an interesting manner: For the price of a feat or a number of skill points defined by the respective trait, the strivog can learn it, with character level +5 acting as a scaling cap that prevents low-level super-strivog. Intriguing: The more of these admittedly powerful tricks (like skeletal DR 5/bludgeoning) the strivog accumulates, the more drawbacks associated with the dead they also have to take. These tricks include powerful, 1/day abilities like howling agony as an SP or a fear-based paralyzing gaze that is saved from being insanely OP by the hex-caveat and the 1-round duration. Still, the options presented here are more in line for campaigns using pretty powerful PC-races...but as far as NPCs are concerned, I have no such scruples...and the drawbacks are brutal.

Favored class options for core classes plus inqui and alchemist are provided. Strivog, being orderly and organized, belong to a guild and an order, and thus, we get faction traits galore, including an anti-version of stabilizing touch, 1/day skill rerolls. As a minor complaint, the bonus types here are not properly codified. The pdf also provides rules for making e.g. swords of sinews and bone (with the disturbing promise that they can do that while the victim still lives...). If you're btw. using the missing body parts/prosthetics-rules from Strategists and Tacticians, well, then you're in luck, for the engine for fetish and totem creation is compatible with these.

These fetishes and totems steal abilities and allow the user to hijack them: While based on Spellcraft, at least partially, their wide-open and modular creation actually manages to prevent cheesing via spells or items, which is very impressive. In fact...the whole process of the creation of these represents a truly impressive feat of crunchy craftsmanship: From activation to what can be done with them, this engine alone should make this pdf worthwhile for GMs...or those looking for some particularly grisly trophy-maker...and before you gas and scream OP - there is a steep cost for the like, namely XP, which is generally not done in PFRPG...but considering the power these offer, I very much support this decision here. Several saple fetishes are provided, from assassin vine sashes to the lucky halfling's foot.

From bone bags to funerary rites to 10 spells, we can see quite a few nice ones here - some of which are classics that made me smile for their inclusion here: Raise City. Just sayin' The pdf concludes with a brief fluff-only overview of the main settlements of the strivog empire and some adventure hooks.

The pdf also comes with a bonus-pdf, the 2 page (1 page monster, 1 page SRD) depicting the CR 2 sunbat that hibernates at night and has a spear-like beak - nice!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, but on a rules-language level , the pdf could be tighter. Some bonus types, some verbiages that are precise, but deviate from the standard, some minor hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard of the series and the pdf has some seriously nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Patricia Willenborg's series of drow-cultures, intended for mature audiences, is absolutely amazing. While I'd be hesitant to allow all options in non-high-powered games for players, so far each of the pdfs has managed to provide a truly evocative, unique vision of drow that sets them apart, big time, from the boring old spider-worshiping cliché. While they tend to have, on the crunch-side, some editing hiccups and minor issues, they more than make up for that by their engines: Whether it's the drug-generator, the poison-customizer or this one's fetish-generator, they provide easy and amazing customization options for GMs.

Beyond that, they just are a great read. The prose is captivating and compelling, painting a vivid and compelling picture. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that I was completely burned out on drow culture-sourcebooks before this series came along. The strivog, now, are part of that great tradition that makes me really want to integrate them in my campaigns. The attention to detail and consistency of the culture depicted is amazing, captivating and ignites that spark of creativity within me. In short: I love this pdf; it is well worth the low and more than fair asking price. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drow of Porphyra - The Strivog: The Bone Drow
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 46 to 60 (of 642 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates