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Kineticist Codex
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2016 13:52:20

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 stars



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Rabbit Archer
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Kineticists of Porphyra
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2016 14:11:07

A great expansion upon the Kineticist occult class, this title provides three new archetypes, each rather well balanced, as well as three new elements and a plethora or new wild talents for the new and pre-existing elements. That said it is, in some ways, odd. Those familiar with the Kineticist class will know that each element gains a movement-type utility wild talent at spell level third (level 6), but the three presented here do not gain their movement utilities until later. In addition, the Sound element does not seem to have one at all. That said, Light and Time, the other two elements, do have an exceptionally powerful movement ability, so perhaps this choice was implemented to balance the new options.

But that's just nitpicking. There are some balance issues present to be sure (the three new elements, while interesting, are also very weak in a lot of respects, especially Time) and they lack the "Saturation" features most of the original Kineticist elements have, which can make them an odd choice.

Still, despite that, Kineticists of Porphyra does open a lot of new potential for those interested in the class, and is very well written and organized for easy reading and navigation. I highly recommend anyone interested in the class to pick up this title; you'll be missing out on some great fun without it.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra
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CE 6 - The Crimson Void
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2015 09:31:27

The Crimson Void is one of the most interesting RPG materials I've seen. The Crimson Void is not exactly an adventure; the Campaign Elements (CE...hehe) series is designed as drop-in content to any campaign world. TCV is something that can be weaved into a long-running campaign. It contains a few surprises that only insightful, or persistent, players will be able to dig up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 6 - The Crimson Void
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Lands of Porphyra Campaign Setting (PFRPG)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/26/2015 23:43:23

Disclaimer of compensation: I received a complimentary copy of this product in exchange for my review. I received no other compensation, nor do I have any ties to Purple Duck Games. Disclaimer of Tentativity: At the time I posted this review, this product is less than one year old. Thus, all opinions expressed in this review, and especially the long term rating, must be considered tentative. This supplement clocks in a whopping 214 pages, including 209 page of content. After a brief introduction, we get 110 pages presenting overview of each of the 52 major region in the world of Porphyra. Yes, [i]52[/i] major regions. While each is given only a few pages, they are incredibly diverse and well written. Some of the regions are given more detail in separate, dedicated supplements. Purple Duck Games has taken a unique route with Porphyra. Most RPG companies, even those who regularly use the Open Gaming Licesnse, have been very protective in keeping their fluff closed-content. Purple Duck Games has gone the opposite route and made the entirety of Porphyra open gaming content, including the gods, nations, and the extensive fictional history. The declaration of Open Gaming Content in this book says simply “All Text”. Much of the information in this book can be viewed for free on PDG’s Porphyra wiki. Following the extensive descriptions of regions, we get a 15 page chapter briefly describing the places of different fantasy races in the world of Porphyra. Each of 87 races gets about a paragraph of description, and a list of regions in which they can be found. No stat-blocks are provided: most of the given races have been statted in one of Paizo’s bestiaries, whilst the others have been statted in other PDG products. All in all, this section is nice and convenient but rather skimpy on details. Next we get details on the gods of Porphyra, separated into four major pantheons: the New Gods, the Risen Gods, the Elemental Lords and the Protean Lords. These pantheons are all described in more detail in their own, separate supplements. Great care has been taken to make the gods of Porphyra distinct from the generic clones many other campaign settings use. Better yet, all information in this chapter can be viewed for free on the Porphyra wiki.
After a few short miscellaneous sections, we get a long chunk of crunch. The section starts with various magic options, including tie-ins to other PDG supplements, and altered versions of several domains. Next comes a trio of prestige classes. The first, the Impervious, is a full BAB partial divine spellcasting class. The second is a 3/4 BAB partial spellcasting class which requires gunslinger’s grit. The third prestige is an anti-divine-magic 3/4 BAB class associated with the Sandmen organization described earlier in the book. Overall, the quality of the prestige classes is decent, but a step down from the earlier portions of the book, with a lot of bog-standard abilities. Following the prestige classes we get a bunch of regional traits tied to different regions of Porphyra, and campaign traits tied to other aspects of the world. The traits are the biggest disappointment of the book, with lots of bland number boosts and very little ingenuity.
Finally, we get the Ruins of Greencastle, a short adventure for first level PCs which is meant to introduce the setting. The adventure itself is a simple dungeon crawl. It is well constructed and comes with fully detailed maps and statblocks, but is on the whole unmemorable and mainly functions as a way to introduce pieces of the setting. Short Term Use: The editing and presentation is top notch. The rules that are present are easy enough to understand that they can be dropped into a campaign quickly, but the crunch is overall subpar for Purple Duck Games. The campaign world’s elaborate fictional history and enormous scope makes getting in to it somewhat daunting, even with the introductory adventure. Hence, this supplement earns a short term rating of 2/5. Long Term Rating: As you have probably deduced from my review thus far, the world of Porphyra is really big. The strong writing and diverse lands make it an excellent place to run a long-running campaign. The fact that many of the regions are sparse on details allows you plenty of room to fill things in during your campaign over many years of playing. Thus, this book gets a well-deserved long term rating of 5/5.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lands of Porphyra Campaign Setting (PFRPG)
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Kineticists of Porphyra
by Josh H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2015 19:09:42

As a huge fan of the Kineticist, I'm excited to see additional content being released for the class like this. Kineticists function so much differently than other classes that many of the traditional feats and options you would turn to first don't quite work, which on the one hand gave kineticists a lot of room to do what they wanted, but at the expense of anything that really amped up their abilities in the vein of Rapid Shot, Power Attack, or metamagic feats. Likewise, as a new class, they still lack a lot of support with regards to different options for utility talents and infusions, leading to a slight degree of sameness across builds. This book fixes all of that and then some, with some interesting new archetypes, some fantastic new elements, a ton of new infusions and wild talents, and some useful new feats.

I'm going to address the cons first, because there aren't many and I like ending on a positive note. There are some minor grammatical errors sprinkled throughout the book--nothing that fundamentally changes the meaning of anything, but if you're a stickler for subject-verb agreement, they'll stand out. Also, there are a few talents and features that could use some clarification, but again, nothing major. Most tables should be able to come to reasonable rulings on the few examples I can think of, and N. Jolly is active on the boards if you absolutely have to get the word of god.

Now on to the goodies: 1) There are four new archetypes, of varying quality: The Cerebral Kineticist, an Int-based kineticist who suffers mental debilitation in place of nonlethal damage for burn; the Elemental Avatar, because everyone wants to be Aang and/or Korra; the Elemental Scion, which really rewards you for sticking with a single element; and the Kinetic Duelist, which is a melee-based kineticist which doesn't lose all the interesting stuff the way the Elemental Annihilator does. My quick review is that the Avatar and Scion actually seem to be good archetypes if you're interested in either greater versatility or only a single element, respectively, while the Kinetic Duelist changes the play style too much for me to really speak to it yet, and the Cerebral Kineticist, like the Overwhelming Soul, feels like it gives up too much for too little by trying to dance around burn.

2) There are three new elements, and they're all great: Light, Sound, and Time. Light kineticists have a lot of illusions (that they can make explode!) in addition to the light and blinding effects you'd expect, and seem like they'd make great tricksters. They also pair well with the Sound element, which involves a lot of audible illusions, but also has a wide grab-bag of really useful blast infusions and utility talents, letting them deafen foes, charm people, push around or confuse their foes, buff their friends like pseudo-bards, and gain echolocation. I personally feel like their elemental defense is on the weak side mechanically, but since it basically involves having your own personal soundtrack playing at all times it's also possibly my favorite defense for roleplaying purposes. And finally, the Time element is for people who like to mess with people, since so many of their abilities are based on debuffing their foes, messing with their actions, slowing or stopping time, and even stealing time from other people (oh hey, I'll just take all of your move actions for the rest of the combat, thanks!).

3) There are more new infusions and utility talents in this book than you can shake a halfling at, and they do a good job of providing interesting abilities for the new elements as well as bolstering the existing elements. Just a quick sample: phytokineticists can now turn their foes into trees, hydrokineticists and geokineticists can encase their foes in ice or rock, and chaokineticists can raise their fallen foes as zombies, steal their life as temporary hit points, or just summon some black tentacles from the weird things that live past the stars to grapple their foes to death. I don't see anything that seems unbalanced at first glance, and in fact like the core kineticist, many of the new talents seem to be rather conservative in their power for my taste. On the other hand, everything also seems useful, unlike some of the core kineticist's talents, so I feel like they've hit a sweet spot here.

4) And finally, there are a handful of genuinely useful feats. There are a few feats that alter your ability to gather power or handle burn, reducing the nonlethal damage you take, improving your internal buffer, or letting you gather power faster or more quietly. Adaptive Utility might be the best feat in the book for certain elements, as it improves the DCs for all of your utility talents, but Kinetic Prodigy lets you qualify for infusions at an improved rate, which makes it a fantastic pick early on. And finally, there's a feat that lets you sculpt your AoE blasts so you don't accidentally clobber your friends, which is a great addition.

In conclusion, this is a great book for fans of the kineticist, and the price is a steal. Get it, love it, and if you happen to roll up a chronokineticist, I'd maybe recommend bringing your DM some pizza to apologize in advance for how much fun you're about to have messing up his action economy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra
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Monster Advancement: Enhanced Aberrations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2015 03:49:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of Julian Neale's highly modular toolkit-templates to enhance your critters clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The base template's CR modification ranges from CR +1 to CR+2 depending on the amount of abilities gained and a handy sidebar that explains the DR-enhancing options is provided within these pages. Beyond that, you'll immediately note something truly awesome - a scaling aura of otherworldly corruption scaling with size and CR of the creature in question, representing more than well the utter wrongness the more powerful aberrations sport.

However, even more so than previous iterations in the series, this time around, we receive utterly unique and yes, downright inspired unique abilities galore: What about crystalline growths that allow the aberration to emit deadly rays of light? What about aberrations having full compatibility with Radiance House's superb Pact Magic rules? Yes, this is awesome.

Even better, the pdf manages to maintain the mathematical diversity I loved in the previous installments - for example, you don't get one type of breath weapon that scales with levels; no, you actually get a pretty consistent entry in a table, a steady, fixed average damage-dealing breath weapon (handy for 13th Age-aesthetics fans) and even an exceedingly swingy one - it is this level of flexibility, this "above and beyond", that sets this humble pdf apart.

Want aberrations that emit destructive harmonics or ones that lock down dimensional travel? The material is in here and feeding upon the dead as well as mastery of oozes and vermins can be found amid these pages alongside elemental-based SPs, devastating killer-mindblasts, stunning blasts, illithid-style save-or-be-reduced to -1 hp options for high end-CR creatures - this pdf covers the bases from the highly customizable, scaling SPs granted to boss abilities that grant additional actions and even provides poisonous spores that detonate those succumbing to their deadly effects.

Beyond even that, a handy guideline provides advice for applying the template and, for the time-starved GM, we get sample creatures spanning the CRs from 3 to 18, running the gamut from paladin flumphs to naga sorcerors.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover, but honestly, I'm all for substance over style in such a case.

Julian Neale is a subtle designer whose books so far, if they had any flaw, then that would be that the books required some thought before the "This is great!"-reaction sets in; they are not flashy. His monsters, builds and options tend to sport some thoroughly unique and inspiring ideas, with this installment of the awesome Monster Advancement-series even surpassing the already excellent first two. Why?

Because this time around, we actually have those flashy tidbits that provoke an immediate "This is awesome!"-reaction, combined with the obvious skill regarding number-fu and creature design in general. This is, all in all, a thoroughly inspired, glorious aberration toolbox that will see ample use in my games - well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and a definite recommendation that you get this right now!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Advancement: Enhanced Aberrations
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Fehr's Ethnology Complete
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2015 02:55:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of Purple Duck Games' "Fehr's Ethnology"-series clocks in at an impressive 130 pages, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 126 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin with a brief introduction of the subject matter and how to use this book before delving into the races themselves. Each of the write ups not only comes with the basic information on the race's stats, but also extends to new race traits, alternate racial traits and favored class options. Beyond that, we get mundane and magical equipment for the respective races as well as unique racial archetypes, spells and feats - all of these help particularly in making the unique races fit within Purple Duck Games' unique patchwork planet Porphyra. The inclusion of age, height and weight-tables for the races featured is also rather appreciated.

The first race covered would be the Avoodim. Essentially, they are a melancholic race cast down from heaven - having failed at becoming archons, they in their shame didn't try again and hence have been sent down to earth, looking for a way, a purpose, a chance for redemption. Avoodim get +4 Con, +2 Str,-2 Dex and Cha, are native outsiders, get darkvision, celestial resistances, +2 to craft or profession-checks related to stone/metal, and +1 to atk against all outsiders, the option to use doom on foes as well as a racial susceptibility to bouts of melancholia and despair. The increased potency over the previous iteration of the race is justified via a 1/day forced reroll on a natural 20, as creation itself seeks to keep them low. (And yes, there is a feat, which, while lacking the "Benefits"-header, lets you mitigate this - and yes, the feat is more solid than in the previous pdf.

While an uncommon mechanic and while I'm not a fan of the martial bent of the race (preferring races to have both bonuses for physical and mental attributes), this balancing mechanism can be nasty...and pretty unique. It also should show you something rather significant: Unlike many compilations out there, this is not simply the sum of its parts - it has been tinkered with, retooled and changed. While not all components like traits are 100% precise in their wording à la "You may cast virtue as a spell-like ability 1/day, only on yourself.", one can glean the intent of the range being modified to personal from this still -not perfect, but it's functional. Similar hiccups à la "sightline" for "line of sight" and the like continue to crop up throughout the book and while they are neither glaring, nor crippling, if you're a stickler for rules-language, you may feel a certain twitch when reading such components. At the same time, e.g. getting temporary assistance of avoodim NPCs at level-2 once per month can be pretty cool. It should be noted at the same time, that the aforementioned hiccups in rules-language are not a constant throughout this book, mind you: Some of the new archetypes/class options provided, like the anti-mook fighter "One-Man-Army" get highly uncommon, yet interesting abilities, the signature of which lends you +1 attack at your lowest BAB when attacked by more than one creature. While this looks like it can be kitten'd, that's not the case - the requirement for even attack dispersals between valid targets prevents any cheesing of the ability - NICE.

The quadribrachial dhosari are an interesting race - flavor-wise, bred as slaves for the Erkunae, these uncommon beings not only have 4 arms they can bring to bear - their additional archetypes and material are also interesting; alas, at the same time, the race has still inherited some of the issues from the individual installment first detailing them. The pdf still does not specify, for example, whether they can wear two sets of bracers, 4 rings, etc. and I still consider their abuse-potential quite frankly too high.

The same can thankfully not be said about two of my favorite races from the original series, namely the dragonblooded and the erkunae - both races are pretty well-balanced and yes, inspired even. To the point where I allow both in my own games, though, again, the rules-language is not always perfect in either cases. The yeti-like Ith'n Ya'roo have btw. also been cleaned up: The broken feat-granting trait is gone and instead, bleed damage via bone weapons becomes feasible and the prior first level immunity to cold has been properly nerfed to a significant, but feasible immunity. Granted, the racial trait "Resistance to Cold Adaptation" should probably just read "Cold Adaptation," but at least the ability works. This level of fixing and expansion btw. also extends to the formerly pretty ridiculously-named Hhundi (which sounded like the German equivalent of "doggie") being renamed Kripar: Gone is the broken "roll twice" trait that constituted the race's most grievous glitch: Instead, we get a nice race of solitary lurkers and ambush predators - and yes, now we get a proper age, height and weight table.

The psionic, mute cat-people Qit'ar still can be considered nice and e.g. a solid psychic warrior path among the new features makes sure that I am not going to revise my rather positive stance on the race - I like them. My favorite plant-race out there by now, the wonderfully weird Xesa (and perhaps the one race where I swallowed my disdain for +4 attribute-races) also are further expanded...including a psion-archetype that allows for the limited and controlled burning of Con to gain power points, which is pretty nice. The fact that they also gain +1 power per level as long as psion is their favored class, though, is too much. I'd cut that down to at least +1/2. Still, a compelling write-up. The most problematic race among the original series was the Urisk-race and while, balance-wise, I am still weary of it and consider the thematically-awesome fey-hillbillies too strong for my tastes, I should note that e.g. the highly problematic Dance of the Fey-feat has since been cleaned up and now has a precise, functional wording - so yes, such changes overall make the race better than it was before.

The book also sports new material regarding whole races, btw.: Take the Eventual:+2 to Con and Int, -2 Cha native outsiders with darkvision, electricity resistance 5, 1/day shocking grasp, at-will tongues and law affinity for sorc-spells and abilities render this law-centric variant of the outsider-blooded theme pretty solid regarding the foundation, something that thankfully generally extends to the traits and alternate racial traits. The racial feats allow you to further build on the inevitable-flavored heritage of the race. Indeed, e.g. a counterspell specialist-feat can be taken as example for what I love and hate about this book: The feat per se is solid in its intent, but we have a wording like this right in the middle: "Your Spellcraft check you must succeed at to identify an opponent’s spell is equal to 20 plus your opponent’s spell level, but you are able to cast as your counterspell any spell from the same school as the foes." That's the middle of the three sentences and yes, I pasted it straight from the book...and yes, it hurts me to have to complain about hiccups like this, particularly among concepts I enjoy. One spell that allows for a limited time-reversal is somewhat problematic and should be controlled rigidly by GMs, but it may also be truly outstanding for some groups. The saberhagen lawful barbarians with their rigid rage codes may be locked into a progression according to the code chosen among the 3 available, but they are interesting enough. All in all, a solid racial addition.

The second newcomer herein would be the Polkan, who is a somewhat centaur-like race that gets +2 Str and Wis, counts as monstrous humanoids, is large (but wields medium-sized armor + weapons), can see twice as far in starlight/dim light (low-light vision by any other name - why not use the proper name?), a base speed of 40 ft, +4 quadruped bonus vs. trip and limited retries on failed Diplomacy-checks. Generally, I like the race and its racial options - the feats, hoof-spikes and similar supplemental contents provided are nice; alas, much like all centaur-like race takes I've seen so far, the race fails to provide the proper information regarding the magic item slots it should have and neither does the race fix the old ladder-conundrum.

Now, I like to end reviews on a high note and the xenophobic, elemental-worshiping Zendiqi definitely are just that. Being one of the few races that have managed to secure a permanent place among those in my campaign - something precious few races managed to achieve, mind you, the Zendiqi are simply inspired and work well in just about any campaign - from Sword and Sorcery to high fantasy. The introduction of e.g. an archetype of the hero-point-based infinyte-class is more than welcome here: The archetype takes the narratively intriguing fluff of the base-class and expands it by a flavorful concept, introducing a kind of antibalance, a champion of change by virtue of order or chaos. Speaking of high notes: The extensive rules-index in the back of the book helps keeping tabs on all the options contained herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' slightly streamlined, printer-friendly two-column standard, with quite a few nice full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for our convenience.

First things first: This is the type of compilation pdf for which I do not mind re-reading the whole material - this is due to two facts: 1) Perry Fehr's fluff is excellent. While the main author of this book imho is much better with fluff than with crunch, one can see both his and Mark Gedak's talent in the expertly-written, high-concept fluff provided herein. 2) The compilation here actually took the vast majority of the more grievous issues and balance-concerns and cleaned them up, something also by far not all compilations do. And then, there would be the SIGNIFICANT array of new material provided in this book, which I btw. only cursorily touched upon in this review.

Indeed, if this compilation did one thing right, it would be that it further expanded upon the strengths of the material herein and were I to rate concepts alone, this would be my favorite racial pdf in a long time. At the same time, however, and there is no denying that, the rules-language, while functional for the most part, is simply imprecise. I'd indeed harp on it much more, were it not for the fact that, time and again, the book gets it right..and then restarts the glitchy parts. It's odd and somewhat frustrating, at least from a reviewer's perspective. There is a lot of non-standard wording in these pages and if you're like me, that may make you cringe a bit. The book, alas, also suffers from a few questions not answered regarding e.g. minor balance-concerns with some of the races herein.

The question thus is valid - to get this or not to get this? I am quite frankly hesitant to pronounce an all-out recommendation for this book, considering the hiccups contained herein - they are somewhat glaring and, at least to me, tarnish the otherwise inspired content herein. Undoubtedly, though, few books on the topic of races have managed to inspire me to the extent that this book has and fewer still had their featured races enter my game to the extent this book has. GMs confident in their abilities to iron out the rough spots and capable in determining whether a given race is for their game should definitely take a look - for the low price, this indeed is a good haul of not always perfect, but always inspiring, content that is bound to inspire with its prose, content and cool races. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 since this book does not deserve being relegated to the middle grounds.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fehr's Ethnology Complete
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: Sword Lord
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/13/2015 05:58:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

So, this time around, we're looking at the Aldori Swordlord - in case you're not familiar with the issue: "Aldori" is closed IP, which means that dueling sword etc. obviously refers to the respective sword. The swordlord as presented here gets full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all weapons (+ the exotic dueling sword) and light armor and weapon finesse at first level. Second level nets Dazzling Display, 3rd Dueling Mastery. 2nd level provides bravery (which means synergy with Bravery-feats - yeah!) with 5-level scaling. Deft Strike is also part of the deal from 1st level onwards and third level nets Steel Net, which is reimagined as a scaling dodge bonus.

4th level provides some bonuses for performance combat and better Dazzling Display-synergy, while 5th level nets better dueling sword specialization that increases every 4 levels thereafter, extending this to maneuvers and the defense against them. Disarming Strike is relegated to 6th level. The original PrC's Steel Net's ability to decrease the penalty for defensive fighting gets fixed - it now also applies to Combat Expertise - kudos here!

9th level provides a cool ability that adds demoralize injuries to crits and maneuvers and even suppress the target's morale bonuses - awesome new ability! Even cooler that, at really high levels, they may negate even more bonuses! Using immediate actions to grant himself 25% chance to negate crits would be unlocked at 10th level (upgrade at 16th level)

Level 11 lets them maintain Dex while using Acrobatics/Climbing alongside from decreased AoO-provoking when standing up from any creatures hit while prone. The class also gets an ability that represents adjusting tactics to an individual foe and counterattack is gained at 15th level.

The highest levels provide DRs and auto-confirms of crits, the latter, obviously, as the capstone.

As always, we get favored class options for the core races and a sample NPC at level 1, 5, 10 and 15 - but we also get advice on making alternate sword lords! Nice!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

Carl Cramér has done it here - as you all may know, I'm a huge fan of Dreadfox Games' Swordmaster class as a dex-based martial. However, the class is complex and not suited for everyone. Here, Carl Cramér has taken a mediocre PrC with some neat ideas, balanced it tighter and woven a thread of crunchy gold through it - from level one, this one is unique and its inspired tricks continue to evolve throughout the whole class. Balanced and fun, this is the beginner-friendly-duelist class that effortlessly mops the floor with its component PrC -this is inspired and awesome and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, a perfect example of the potential of this series.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: Sword Lord
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: Sun Seeker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2015 04:18:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

This one takes the Skyseeker-PrC and utilizes the ranger chassis - which means full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, full proficiency with weapons and light + medium armor and shields, Wis-based spellcasting from the ranger's list starting at 4th level and 6+Int skills. 7th level nets heavy armor proficiency.

The class, as presented here, adheres pretty closely to the ranger-frame - favored enemy, progression 3rd level endurance, 1st level track + wild empathy - the dispersal of ranger abilities throughout the levels is pretty solid. 2nd level nets the know direction-based Find Citadel ability - so no, combat style is not part of the deal for this class.

3rd level provides a new ability that immediately makes this version superior to its PrC-iteration - ancestral allies: You choose either companions, allowing her to grant favored enemy bonus to allies, an animal companion or the favored terrain class feature - this level of customization is nice to see and thematically fits the class well. At 4th level, the rune-carved armor is gained and 5th level grants ancestral weapons, with the ability's damage-scaling being dispersed organically throughout the levels of the class. 6th level nets 1/week Commune, +1 use every 6 levels thereafter. 9th level either grants darkvision or expands it, with the second expansion happening at 14th level.

The SR-granting runes of Resistance is gained at 13th level and 16th level offers path of the ancients. The powerful, mettle-like effect Stalwart is gained appropriately late at 17th level and the PrC's capstone Call to Arms can now be found at 18th level. The new capstone allows for full speed tracking, standard action attacks versus favored enemies that operate on save-or-die, including the option to instead drop foes via nonlethal damage.

The pdf, as always, provides solid FCOs for the core-races and this time around, sports a sample dwarf at level 1, 5, 10 and 15. The pdf also has a feat that allows for easier stabilization alongside 1/day crit/sneak negation down to a normal hit.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

The Sun seeker as presented by Carl Cramér here suffers from a downright sucky PrC -I liked its concept, but the execution of the PrC is all over the place and feels confused. This Prestige Archetype does a better job at making the class feel concise and thematically consistent. That being said, I really wished ancestral weapon, the first active signature ability that could be conceivably moved to lower levels, was there - perhaps instead of some ranger abilities. As written, the class takes a LONG time to become truly distinct. While ancestral allies somewhat mitigates this, one might argue that moving it slightly would have been nice, since it essentially mimics ranger abilities. As written rune-carved armor at 4th level is the first truly distinct ability, 5th level offering the first offensive one. In my playtest, this rendered the class, at low levels, pretty much less distinct than it ought to have been. Higher levels somewhat mitigate this, but still - all in all a solid take on the concept, but it falls rather short of Carl's better prestige archetypes. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: Sun Seeker
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: Student of War
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2015 04:30:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1/2 a page advertisement, 1 page SRD leaving us with a 4.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

The student of war utilizes the fighter as the base chassis, which means full BAB-progression and proficiencies, good Fort-saves and d10 HD, but teh Student fo War gets 4+Int skills.

The class gets a bonus feat at first, 2nd and every 4 levels thereafter, which must be chosen from the combat-feat-type. They may select fighter-only feats, treating their class level as fighter level for the purpose of prerequisites. 3rd level nets armor training, 7th allows for full movement in heavy armor and 19th level nets DR 5/- whenever wearing armor or a shield.

2nd level provides mind over metal, i.e. the Int-for Dex-substitution of the PrC - good to see this moved down, since it's a basic ability. The signature ability Know Your Enemy is gained at 4th level, and if you're like me and obsessively memorize text, a quick check-up of the base PrC's text will show that the wording here actually cleans up a glaring oversight regarding humanoids from the PRC - kudos! The bonus granted and its scaling is solid and action-economy-wise, we also get a nice progression that fits with the respective levels. The same cannot be said about Anticipate - also gained at 4th level, it's where the class somewhat goes off the rails: Where the original ability had a daily limit, this one hasn't. Yes, this means essentially evasion for all 3 saves. Urgh.

8th level nets Telling Blow, 12th nemesis, 16th deadly blow and the class has a new capstone - against all studied targets, you auto-confirm crits at +1 multiplier - NICE!

The pdf provides FCOs for the core races as well as a sample goblin NPC at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

Carl Cramér has a difficult task here - the student of war is certainly not the most compelling of PrCs. The class presented here is a solid take on the concept - and one, let me state this loud and clear, that is better than the base PrC it is based one. That being said, it also falls a bit short of its own potential. The decision to make the first 3 levels defined exclusively by bonus feats & passive abilities make the class less compelling than it could be - by moving the distinct Know thy Enemy-ability down to 1st level and adding a scaling mechanism to prevent dip-exploits, this class could have been more distinct. As written, it begins to come into its own at 4th level, where the active signature abilities are granted. And yes, I do believe that Anticipate should remain here - but not as an unrestricted ability. A lenient daily cap that scales with class levels could have made this one fit perfectly...as written, this ability is good enough to make a 4-level dip into the class an option I'd definitely consider, especially when combined with a class that provides many or more good saves...for in the context of the student of war itself, the ability is not broken...in the overall frame of rules, though...urgh.

At the same time, this Prestige Archetype does have some awesome components, providing a fix and some nice new content...so how to rate this? In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 3 stars for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: Student of War
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