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Magitech Archetypes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2018 08:26:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games‘ science-fantasy/Iron Gods-plug-in-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 3 pages introduction/how to use the book, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, though it should be noted that, as always for LG-books, there is quite a lot of content within these pages, courtesy of the consumer-friendly layout.

Now, as far as supplements are concerned, this book makes, obviously, use of Technology Guide’s engine and also provides new options for occult classes, core classes and offers some ACG love.

Today, I’d champion mention moving through the content from the back of the book, where the 7 new feats can be found. Technopath would be the first feat worth mentioning: This one is amazing and something I’d offer for solo-stealth missions as a bonus feat: The feat requires a means to use the ability to detect thoughts or mindlink and lets you expend such uses to cause erratic functions in computers etc., tightly codifying shutting down power etc. More important would be that, while it’s short range, it blends magic and tech in a cool way and has a very distinct, cool, espionage angle. This is really a more than rewarding one, which comes with a follow-up: Said follow-up feat, building on Technopath, allows you to use your mind to interface with computers in close range. This is pretty iconic and something I definitely liked to see here. Two really iconic winners here. Welker in Rust is a feat that is particularly suited for metal elementalists or urban druids, allowing for the use of a palm-sized metal object as arcane bonded object – minor complaint: For non-arcane casters, the “arcane” may seems slightly confusing here. Anyways, that’s nitpicking. The feat allows you to spontaneously convert summon spells into ones that call a distinct array of junk golems. Minor complaint: It’d have been nice to see the reference to Small sized junk golems sport more than just the HP modification. Similarly, no suggested burn cost for use in conjunction with the Necrotech (see below) material’s included. The object noted can btw. also be used in conjunction with shield guardians, if any, adding a cosmetic rust theme and a stored rusting grasp to the array.

Now, 4 of the new feats within deal with Necrotech: The Adept feat lets you use Charisma instead of Constitution to determine Fort-saves, but to make up for this power increase, you lower Constitution by 2. The feat must be taken at first level and influences the ability to take the Necrotech master archetype. Necrotech Genius also lowers your Con, but nets you a save-buff based on the Burn you currently possess. Necrotech Leader lets you accept burn to enslave undead nearby, which is a cool angle for necro-themes kineticists. Necrotech Transformation, finally, changes your type to undead. Since the feat requires a new archetype herein, the interactions are actually clear here.

Now, I already mentioned the necrotech master, so let’s start with this kineticist archetype, shall we? The archetype must be a construct or corporeal undead (or have the aforementioned Necrotech Adept feat) and is is locked into machine as primary element. The archetype does note that it makes use of Charisma instead of Constitution for the purpose of kineticist abilities, concentration for wild talents etc. The archetype takes a -1 penalty to Fort-saves per point of burn accepted, rather than taking lethal damage, with 3 + Cha-mod acting as the cap for the ability. This radically changes how the archetype plays, as opposed to the base class: The fragility of hit point dearth is replaced with a susceptibility for what we associate with those dabbling in necromancy – being sickly, easily subject to poisons and the like. This makes sense to me and also emphasizes these often somewhat overlooked components. Particularly for less experienced players that have an issue with the increasing fragility of the kineticist will welcome this rock-paper-scissors-y approach. The second tweak that enforces this notion, would be the unholy union ability: If the character is a construct, he gets + Cha-mod hit points per level, while undead necrotech masters gain fixed bonus hit points as though they were constructs. They are treated as both construct or undead when the like would be beneficial. They are only destroyed upon being reduced to Cha mod + class level hit points. These bonus hit points and type-based defenses replace the basic kinesis utility talents gained by selecting an elemental focus and defense. 4th level allows for the taking of machine’s elemental defense as a utility wild talent instead. Starting at 3rd level, the necrotech master may choose to gain a profane bonus to Charisma in place of a size bonus to a physical ability score, replacing elemental overflow.

Instead of 6th level’s utility wild talent, the archetype is locked into taking the construct creator utility wild talent, and may use the ability as though it was animat dead. Constructs created thus as treated as undead for the purposes of desecrate. Also at this level, the archetype may accept 1 point of burn to select a creature created or controlled (undead + constructs only) to grant them a single machine defense or utility wild talent with a burn cost of 0 or –; The level of the ability granted must be lower than class level, and the recipient creature is treated as though its HD were kineticist levels for the purpose of effects, using Cha instead of Con as governing attribute. Targets thus buffed may not accept burn. At 11th level and 16th level, the archetype may grant additional talents for increased burn costs; only one creature at a given time may be buffed thus, though. This replaces internal buffer. 7th level locks the archetype into void as expanded element and negative blast for simple blast. Undead or constructs created gain the aforementioned unholy union ability, with 15th level locking the archetype into machine as expanded element, and into void blast composite blast as composite blast, regardless of prerequisites. 8th level locks into construct hacker, and 9th level adds a negative level to living targets hit by a kinetic blast, replacing metakinesis (maximize); 12th level nets forced reboot, allowing the archetype to revive undead, causing them to return as undead – pretty sure the first reference should refer to “constructs or undead” instead. 14th level provides the means to use the Turing computation utility wild talent, as well as the ability to use it on undead.

Okay, so it only makes organically sense to move on to the new kineticist element while we’re at it, right? Machine nets Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) as class skills, and basic technokinesis allows you to power machines via Burn and use mending on machines, constructs, etc. Junk blast would be the simple blast, and it sports all 3 physical damage types and is, no surprise there, a physical blast. (As an aside: Personally, I prefer damage mode changes, but that’s personal aesthetics.) As noted before, Diesel heart would be the defense wild talent, and it nets scaling DR, with accepted burn for machine talents temporarily increasing that. The talent also allows you to gain scaling percentile chances to ignore crits and sneak attack, based on burn accepted. I enjoy this one! The composite blasts provided and their options make sense and are, theme-wise, rather neat and make sense regarding damage types etc. 5 infusion wild talents are included, which feature causing Con damage via Bloodrust (damn cool name!), nanite-based sunder, soaking foes in oil, etc. – I really enjoyed these. Beyond the already noted basic utility wild talent, we get basically 30 utility wild talents to choose from; the aforementioned Turing computation awakens constructs, and similarly, the focus of quite a few of them, is on crafting and hacking constructs, on blindisght to note them (or metalsense…), on quicker repairs to keep them viable in battle (including tricks to use burn for a better action economy when doing so), on using nanites to duplicate ability score buffs on allies, a surge like auto-buff, a burn-based overclocking that hastes you and enhances your blast damage, subdermal plating…oh, and grafting weapons and upgrading grafts in 3 steps! It should be noted that the rather potent initiative buff twitch reflexes is associated with a cool elemental saturation.

…okay, I’ll say it right now: This is one of my favorite kineticist elements EVER. It really changes up playstyles and makes kineticists that take it go places where other elements don’t. This is inspired and may well be worth the asking price on its lonesome. Huge kudos!!

What do we have herein beyond kineticist options? Well, what about the robot fighter ranger, who replaces Knowledge (nature) + (geography) with Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) and gets +1/2 class level to Perception and Disable Device checks to find and disarm traps, making the archetype, chassis-wise, a good rogue-substitute? Combat Style is replaced with basically a gunslinger lite array, while Endurance is swapped out with technologist. The first two favored terrains are locked and the archetype comes with a modified spell-list and must select a non-animal companion. Higher levels provide hardness ignoring and higher DCs to resist being stunned by crits, free movement through rubble and ruins and higher levels include swift action discharge or, at even higher levels, rebuke technology. Spell sacrifice for electromagnetic pulses and the ability to bypass sensors, penetrate force fields and the like further complement the archetype, culminating in an insta-construct-destruction trick. I’m generally not a big fan of nemesis-classes, but this one at least has its own array of tricks that make it play differently from the base class.

The Penumbral arcanist replaces 1st level’s exploit with the option to reduce illumination levels; exploits provided are shadow-themed, including adding new spells or granting creatures shadow fading. The archetype gets a custom capstone….and honestly, I don’t particularly like it. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but compared to Lost Spheres Publishing’s superb Shadow Weaver, it feels bland, and it also kinda feels like an odd man out in the supplement. Not very magitech-y.

Thankfully, the nanotech infuser sorcerer does fit: Loss of Bluff and Intimidate in favor of Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering), at-will mending and a touch that damages constructs at touch a limited amount of time, bypassing defenses. Higher levels see the nanites replace parts of the body, making the sorcerer automatically stabilize and take less damage from bleed and blood drain, but at the cost of becoming more inhuman. This transition further improves at 19th level. Cool: At 13th level, we have a nanovirus, which deals Wisdom and Con-damage, and which may make those that succumb to it rise as a nanite zombies.

The Astrologer mesmerist replaces consummate liar with skill bonuses related to the profession and benefits from the guiding star under the night sky, Adding Charisma in addition to Wisdom modifier to the checks of Wis-based checks, as well as 1/night free metamagic-modified tricks. This is theme-wise pretty cool. Higher levels provide the option to substitute components with less than 1K costs with astrolabe/telescope use – I Like this flavor-wise. Moment of prescience, which a target may benefit 1/week from, is cool, and getting a satellite of forceful hand that can work as clenched fist is similarly cool. These abilities tend to be used, resource-wise, via mesmerist tricks, and the capstone nets interplanetary teleport. I like the flavor here, but I can’t really see why this fellow is jammed on the mesmerist chassis. It does not interact in a meaningful way with the base-chassis and feels more like an option that’d make sense for the medium or psychic class.

The delver wizard replaces Blind-Fight with Scribe Scroll, and replaces arcane bond with favored terrain and at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter providing one of 9 talent-like abilities, which include tremorsense, Craft Technological Items, squeezing, etc. – the archetype basically represents the delving wizard…which is nice, but I wished the focus on tech would be slightly more pronounced. 10th level provides better divination below ground and also a nice, modified summon monster list.

The final archetype within would be the engram channeler spiritualist. Oddly, the ability headers here, throughout the whole class option haven’t been properly bolded, representing one of the couple of minor formatting glitches through out the pdf. The archetype comes with a modified spell list. Instead of a phantom, the archetype calls forth an engram, which can’t manifest in ectroplasmic form and is a construct, rather than an outsider, sporting concise modifications of the base engine here. Cool: The engram gets an intellectual, rather than an emotional focus, and sports different special abilities – I really like this, but wished we got more intellectual focuses to choose from. This feels, somewhat, cut-down by word-count. Anyway, taking 10 on Knowledge checks (and 1/day taking 20), at-will technomancy and tech-interacting abilities complement this archetype. This may be me just being a huge fan of Bruce R. Cordell’s 3.X-book “When the Sky Falls”, but I wished this one had had more room to shine; the concept is stronger than the space that it allotted to it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are VERY good on a rules-language and formal level; however, there are slightly more guffaws here than usual for Legendary Games, though these tend to be cosmetic. Layout adheres to the smooth two-column full-color standard of the iron Gods plug-ins and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artworks should mostly be familiar for fans of legendary Games.

Jason Nelson, N. Jolly, Loren Sieg, Jeff Lee and Clinton J. Boomer provide an amazing book…when it actually focuses on the magitech/science-fantasy promise. It’s really odd – I even liked the nemesis-style ranger, and the tech-y options are inspired; Particularly if you’re enjoying the kineticist, this is a no-brainer book. The machine element is pure amazing. At the same time, there are three archetypes herein that have, at best, a somewhat tangential connection to magitech – the general themes of science-fantasy are kind of there, but feel a bit more like an afterthought; don’t get me wrong – they are cool, but ultimately, this means that the book is pretty strongly geared towards occult, in particular, kineticist, content. Now, I am very much happy with that, but if you expected a broader focus, you may end up slightly disappointed. Still, what does click, does so with the panache and experience we expect from Legendary Games! Kineticist fans in particular should consider this to be an absolute must-own tome – that part of the book is absolute genius and 5 star + seal material; as noted, ranking among my favorite kineticist options ever.

However, I have to rate the entirety of the book, and while never bland or mediocre, a few of the options fell slightly short of the promise of the rest. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Magitech Archetypes
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Faerie Mysteries (5E)
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2018 10:37:03

Faerie Mysteries is part of Legendary Games' Adventure Path Plug-Ins series, which offer a set of nice options for dungeon masters to add to their game as they see fit. Looking for a magical feature to give a dungeon some flavor? An encounter to soften up a party before a big fight? Did half of your players cancel and you need a quick side quest? This book can solve all of those problems for you. As expected, Faerie Mysteries focuses on encounters with fae. The book includes a few monsters toward the end of the fae type or of other types that are thematically related to fae, but more importantly, it includes encounters that are not necessarily just monster battles. Much of the book focuses on locations of close proximity between the material plane and the fae realm--where faerie magic spills into the material world. There are various types of encounters called fey influences--which include several encounter levels called rumors, ripples, and ruptures. These are all low to mid-level encounters that aren't terribly dangerous, but do add something interesting to an adventure. Rumors include things like areas with active illusion spells triggered by players that are little more than distractions that they will want to investigate, but turn out to be harmless. Ripples are more severe releases of fae energy that often threaten the players with some sort of minor magical penalty for a short time. Ruptures often present a threat to the players, and might harm them with physical damage or a magical curse. As well, there is a list of more traditional encounters that can be added into nearly any adventure. Whether walking through a forest, crossing a river, or even in town, there are ways to seamlessly get your party involved in an extra encounter. The only downside is that most adventures top out around level 8. Then again, there are many encounters of variable level that can serve as adevnture hooks that can easily lead to far more powerful encounters with a little prep. Some of the included hooks even could spark an entire fae-themed story arc if you're just looking for a place to get ideas. Though it doesn't offer anything for players, this is a great book for dungeon masters. It's perfect for those who find that they need to improvise and add an unexpected encounter on occasion. It's a great book to have around for when you're in a pinch and need to keep your players occupied.

Read the full review at GeeksAGogo.com



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faerie Mysteries (5E)
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Pirate Campaign Compendium (Pathfinder)
by JEROME M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/24/2018 21:50:22

I was a backer for the kickstarter for this book and boy am I glad I joined it! Put simply, this book contains everything you need to run pirate or naval based campaigns. You get rules, a pirate codex, bestiaries ,both normal and mythic, rules for ship to ship combat, rules for mass naval combat, adventures, spells, magic items and so much more.

There's too much content to cover concisely here. Just read the description above. All of that stuff is indeed trapped between these pages. The hardback is grogeous and will look great on your shelf or in your hands for years to come. If you are running the classic pirate adventure path from Paizo or just running a pirate campaign at home, then this book is a must-buy!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pirate Campaign Compendium (Pathfinder)
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Legendary Kineticists II
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/28/2018 03:57:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Legendary Games‘ expansion books for the kineticist clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introductions, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of crunch, so let’s take a look!

We begin this supplement with a selection of new kineticist archetypes, starting with the bestial kineticist. Here’s the thing. It’s not for your CHARACTER. It’s for your animal companion! A bestial kineticist may select any feat that requires kineticist levels, using HD as kineticist levels, as companion feats. Additionally, if the companion and master know the same kinetic blast of the same element and have Interweave Composite blast both, they may use that feat to interweave a composite blast that requires the element as primary and expanded elements in addition to the normal effects. Kudos: Takes wood properly into account, even if you play prior to Arcane Anthology’s addition of a wood/wood composite blast. Instead of a trick, a bestial kineticist can choose to gain an infusion or utility wild talent, but the critter may never have more than 2 more infusions than utility wild blasts, or vice versa. Cool: wild talents learned this way are correctly codified via Handle Animal, and if the master knows the same wild talent, the DC is reduced. As far as ability score bonuses are concerned, the companion chooses either Strength or Dexterity and gets +1 per druid levels the master possesses, minimum 0 – this bonus also applies to Constitution.

Instead of evasion and improved evasion, the bestial kineticist gains all kineticist class features except elemental defense, expanded element, metakinesis and omnikinesis. No utility wild talents or infusions are gained beyond those taken as tricks. Nice catch: The critter may fire kinetic blasts with any appendage with which they could execute a natural attack. The companion is treated as a native outsider in addition to its creature type to determine what spells can affect it, which can be a bit wonky – what if an effect affects outsiders and the creature type differently? Interesting: While elemental overflow is active, the bestial kineticist takes on an elemental subtype defined by the simple blast, with a nice list provided. The kineticist does Not attain subtype-based vulnerabilities, and if the creature has 5+ Burn, it is also treated as the elemental subtype. Instead of multiattack, we get a cool teamwork charge: Standard action, fire simple blast at master; after that, the master may fire the blast, treating its damage as from a kineticist with the bestial kineticist’s HD +2. The blast must be used by the end of the round, and it may include infusions that the bestial kineticist has. At 16th level, composite blasts may be used thus. The ability has a range of 60 ft. and still makes the bestial kineticist take burn. 12th level’s bonus trick is replaced with expanded element, and if the bestial kineticist takes the primary element, we get +1 to atk, damage DC and caster level checks for that element’s wild talents, as well as gaining a bonus infusion or wild talent. I really loved this one!

The second archetype would be the metakinetic savant, who may, at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, choose a metamagic feat instead of one of the metakinesis progressions, which they may then apply to any kinetic blast, with burn cost increasing as per the increased spell level of the respective metamagic feat. Cool: Schools and subschools of blasts are properly codified, and unlisted blasts are up to the GM’s control, with some guidance provided. Also nice: A whole series of potentially problematic metamagic feats are noted. A metakinetic savant may take Expanded Metakinesis as soon as 1st level, and starting at 5th level, the metakinetic savant may select any metamagic feat for Expanded Metakinesis, provided it increases the spell level by 1 or less, and the interaction of abilities if retained in a tight manner. The internal buffer of the archetype is doubled in size and multiple points may be spent per round on the same wild talent, but the points may only be spent to avoid accepting burn from metakinesis or metamagic feats added to blasts. Instead of metakinetic master, 16th level metakinesis and metamagic feat burn cost is reduced by 1, with the effect not stacking when multiple such modifications are added to a single blast. The archetype may btw. be taken in conjunction with other archetypes that modify metakinesis, but may not replace metakinesis which other archetypes alter or replace. A really interesting engine tweak!

The nihilicist must be one step within neutral alignment and may not be forced to gain an element, kinetic blast or wild talent. If the archetype ever willingly gains a primary element or any non-universal wild talent, except those aligned with the ones granted by the archetype, they lose this archetype. A nihilicist gains no element, but rather nothingness. Empty blast is a simple blast, which may be a physical or energy blast. It is kinda untyped, damage-wise, but actually not and drains away a part of the target’s existence. 7th level provides the Zero blast composite blast, at the cost of 2 burn. Universal infusions may be applied to these, as well as e.g. chain, cyclone, etc. Nice: Damage output here is balanced and modified individually to account for the damage type, a decision that bespeaks the knowledge of the authors regarding the deep levels of kineticist design. The archetype starts with empty infusion and 7th and 15th level nets a bonus feat, infusion or utility wild talent. This ability replaces the basic utility wild talent, elemental focus and expanded element and alters utility wild talents. Now, I noted that special damage – this would be nihil damage. This is nonlethal damage for purposes of being cured, but transcends immunity to them. Nihil damage ignores hardness and staggers targets that have their HP exceeded by it, even if they would be immune. Additionally, a nihilicist can select up to one creature per 60 ft. away, plus 1 per 3 class levels, converting all nihil damage to lethal damage as a standard action, which may also be done in conjunction with gathering power as a full-round action by decreasing the burn reduction it provides by 1. Cool: An amount of damage from the conversion may also be changed into conditions, with a scaling save to avoid. This replaces the infusions gained at 1st, 9th and 17th level and offers a unique playstyle…and seriously, in spite of usually HATING new damage types thrown in, this one is so rooted in existing ones and works so smoothly (and so intricately entwined with detailed features) that I really liked it.

Instead of elemental defense, the nihilicist can convert Constitution modifier lethal damage into nonlethal damage 1/day as a full-round action, +1/day at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Whenever they accept burn to use a wild talent, they gain DR equal to class level + Constitution modifier versus nonlethal damage for 1 round; it does not prevent burn, nor does it affect nonlethal damage converted to lethal. Also at 2nd level, we get constant negate aroma, less food and sleep required and 6th level, this also includes nondetection and at 12th level, mind blank. Additionally, folks will forget the nihilicist, though the character can prevent this permanently via accepting burn and a touch attack – though even willing targets have to save! This one costs 3 utility wild talents, gained at 2nd, 6th and 12th levels. Instead of the 3rd level infusion, the archetype may increase the burn cost of a nihil damage-causing kinetic blast by 1 to immediately apply the effects of the lethal/condition conversion effect, but only pertaining the blast’s damage, not any previously sustained nihil damage. The conversion ratio begins at ½ here and upgrades to full and may later also convert previously sustained nihil damage, but at the cost of additional burn. The capstone reduces the damage-conversion cost for conditions and the capstone also allows them to go out with a…non-bang. The character can center a sphere of annihilation on themselves. This is…beautiful. The ultimate self-sacrifice, an sans suffering left behind, but also with one’s mark completely obliterated. This is a truly tragic and super potent way to go that fits perfectly with the archetype.

The onslaught blaster is amazing for epic battle scenes: Whenever the character uses the kinetic blast, he may fire multiple blasts, equal to 1d6 + 1 damage for physical energy and 1d6 for energy damage, with an additional blast for every 2 kineticist levels past 1st. Each individual hit takes damage equal to the onslaught blaster’s Constitution modifier for physical blasts, half as much for energy blasts. Attacked targets are decided prior to rolling an attack roll and substance or form infusions applied apply to all blasts. Versus a single target, the attacks are pooled into a stronger blast, which is treated as a single attack and effects apply only once to the blast, so no cheesing there. For every 2 blasts beyond the first that target the same creature, damage increases by +3 for physical, +1 for energy blasts. However, an onslaught blaster may not have any form infusion that reduces the range, emulates a melee attack or many throw infusion applied. Telekinetic blast can only throw a single object. This…is beautiful. I’m beaming right here. Once more, this showcases system mastery to a truly impressive degree. Instead of gather power, supercharge and metakinesis, the character can use the onslaught blast as a full-round action at -1 burn, with 11th and 19th level providing further options to reduce burn, tied to action economy.

At 3rd level, when using the aforementioned ability while having 1 burn, they may execute an additional blast, with 9th and 15th level providing +1 blast at 3 and 5 burn, respectively. Elemental overflow does not provide a bonus to damage for the archetype, though. Metakinesis (empower) is replaced with the option to accept burn to execute additional blasts, with 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter adding to that. Additionally, the ability nets a slight damage-increase, which also extends to the other abilities that replace the metakinesis ability tree. At 9th level, we add temporary debuffs to creatures pummeled, and 13th and 17th level allow for artillery style additional blasts for increasing burn costs. This fellow is pretty brutal, but also rather epic – it’s actually a really good mook-mower, and the archetype has a rather easy means to scale for lower-powered games, with the bonus damage granted by the metakinesis-replacements making for an easy choice to slightly decrease the damage output, should you so choose.

The final kineticist archetype herein would be the telekinetic bladeshifter, who gain proficiency with all simple melee and one-handed martial weapons, as well as all thrown simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor, and shields, excluding tower shields. They are locked into aether as primary element and telekinetic blast as the kinetic blast, but retains archetype compatibility regarding these features. The archetype has a full ABB-progression, but only 1/3rd class level Reflex-save progression. At 1st level, the archetype chooses a light or one-handed melee or thrown weapon that is neither unarmed, natural or projectile-based and when using telekinetic blast, rather than normal, it transforms the object used into the chosen weapon and may be used as a free action once per turn, treating the bladeshifter as if wielding the weapon, dealing damage as a warpriest’s sacred weapon. The weapon thus wielded may be enhanced as a kinetic blast and substance infusions as well as metakinesis applied to telekinetic blasts work as if used with the kinetic whip infusion. 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the bladeshifter gets an additional weapon that may be chosen as such, with 9th level unlocking advanced weapon/armor training options, substituting elemental overflow attack roll bonus for the weapon training bonus. Non-telekinetic blast kinetic blasts deal damage as a ½ class level sacred weapon and 1/3 spell level, if relevant. Elemental overflow does not provide a bonus to attack roll (would have been overkill here) and the damage-bonus it provides is equal to the burn the character currently has. The archetype is locked out of form infusions. The archetype may choose combat feats instead of utility wild talents, using their class level as fighter levels to qualify. At 5th level, they can choose substance infusions instead of wild talents, but at 4 class levels lower. This reduction also applies to infusions chosen as part of the expanded element.

At 2nd level, elemental defenses is replaced with forcewoven shield, which allows the character to accept burn in order to increase the enhancement bonus of a shield used by +1, not interfering with gather power. There is an issue here: The bonus scales up to +10, and can generate shields with basically a +15 bonus, which surpasses the cap assumed by PFRPG for enhancement bonuses. It probably won’t break the game, but since high-level math is already finicky for the GM to get right, that amount beyond the usual…well. Not a fan. This effect may also be used in conjunction with other abilities that grant a shield bonus, btw. Not as happy with this one. 3rd level nets the option to make telekinetic blast weapons out of force and target touch AC, which is, for a full BAB-class, an all but guaranteed hit. Sure, at the cost of halved damage and being subject to SR…but still. For 2 burn, the blast can inflict full damage while in force mode. Additionally, for a swift action, telekinetic blast weapons can be enhanced (up to +5) or add a variety of different special weapon properties. For the weapon mods, the archetype loses the 3rd, 11th and 19th level infusions. 9th and 17th level provide a specialization based on armor, shield, or weapon type preferred, allowing you, for example, to make two-handed melee weapons for the telekinetic blade ability, etc., but at the cost of composite and infusion specialization at 5th, 11th and 17th level as well as metakinesis (twice/maximize). The capstone is bland, with auto-confirmed crits and critical multiplier increase by +1 (x4’s bad enough, imho) as well as DR when having the shield active. This archetype is the one of the kineticist archetypes herein that feels a bit rough – it’s not bad, mind you, but it feels like it tries to do a whole lot, and could do so much more with its concepts, but instead had to settle for a cut-down version that used numerical bonuses instead of diverse abilities. This left me with the impression that it should have received a hybrid class treatment akin to the cool kinetic shinobi.

There are also 3 non-kineticist archetypes/class options in the book: The Planetouched oracle loses mystery and revelation in favor of spliced in kineticist options; the planar custodian druid takes a similar role, but take a more interesting stance as far as I’m concerned, in that they require the companion to take the bestial kineticist archetype, with domains being pretty detailed in their guidance as well. Domains can also tie in with the elemental focus from the kineticist class, which replaces wild empathy and creates an interesting alternate choice here. It should be noted that even exotic choices like plant companions are addressed. Thus, the modification of nature’s bond is already a pretty big change on how this plays. It is also interesting to note that the level-based mechanics of the companion-archetype tie in rather well here, with burn instead applying to the kineticist level, providing an engine that feels different. Infusions gained are balanced versus wild shape improvements and the primary element’s defense wild talent is similarly powered by wild shape starting at 6th level, with the woodland stride and venom immunity features paying for it. We can, obviously, also find elemental body/plant shape (for wood specialists) here, though annoyingly the spell-references are not italicized properly. (They are hyperlinked, though!). The capstone makes burn costs of infusions be treated as less and adds wild shape uses. Really nice hybrid-style archetype. Play differently from both parents, like it!

Finally, there would be the order of the scion, which would be a cavalier order devoted to keep the world in balance. Interesting: Depending on element chosen, the challenge will bestow bonuses for allies associated with the respective element, making that aspect team-focused. The order thus has a pretty extensive, if not exhaustive list of abilities associated with the element chosen. The 2nd level nets a no-burn at-will simple kinetic blast modified with kinetic whip, but only as a 1st level kineticist, which is upgraded at 7th level, where a challenge use may be expended to increase the damage versus a challenge target. The blast, however, is treated as a lance for how it interacts with charges. Yeah, that’s a damn good reason for the base damage-scaling’s subdued nature here! 15th level nets a composite blast and 8th level provides the defense wild talent, with 15th level unlocking elemental overflow, and in the absence of burn, the order once more has an interesting cooldown here.

The pdf contains 6 general infusions: Lingering Darkness adds masochistic shadow to one target of the negative energy-based blast. Ricochet does what it says on the tin for 2 burn, with only a 15 ft. bounce of range, bludgeoning damage and no further ricochet possible beyond the first. Works for me. Dehydrating blast, at 2 burn, reduces damage die size by one step and does not travel to the target; SR applies and the target may end up fatigued until it had something to drink. Nice: Blood kineticists may use it with blood blast. Dehydrating blast also has a greater level 6 upgrade for 4 burn, which makes the extracted water as a globe of water the origin for a follow-up water blast, which is all kinds of cool and allows for neat point-of-origin tricks. Countering and spellturning infusion are great ideas, but RAW do not work as intended. They can be used to counter activated extraordinary or supernatural attacks as well, but fail to specify a metric by which you could determine the success of the like, which is a real bummer, for the idea here is pretty cool!

Unless I’ve miscounted, 13 wild talents are next and included here are basic cryokinesis and electrokinesis, improved celerity is back from LK I, afflicting targets with dyslexia…and BECOMING A KINETIC LICH. _ YES! Happy. (There is also one for kinetic undead PCs, fyi, if you for example wanted to play an undead wight/vampire via Rite Publishing’s In the Company-series, for example.) What about having energy linger around targets reduced to 0 hp, making for nasty surprises for the healers? Or the one that links hit targets together, drawing them magnetically to one another? Yeah, I really liked this section. It’s complex, creative and has some true gems. We can also finmd 11 feats here, some of which have some interesting synergy: Kinetic Railgun makes onslaught blaster capable of benefiting from haste with their onslaught blast and adding metakinesis to animal companions, dark elementalist support…and then there is Autobuffer, which is usually the type of feat IM not too keen on. When accepting burn on a wild talent, you have a 20% to regain a point of burn in the internal buffer at the beginning of next turn. Each time you fail it, the chance increases by +20%, and upon success, it resets to 20%. However, the feat has no effect when already having maximum points in the internal buffer…and it’s interesting in that it’s slightly unreliable nature makes it exciting at the table. So yeah. Well done.

Speaking of “well done” – there are 5 spells within (covering, class-wise, all the classes, including ACG and OA): Here we have turning nonlethal to lethal damage temporarily, delaying burn…and two real gems. One that forces the target to accept burn (ouch) and the second one is actually a permanent spell that stipulates a prohibition, a violation of which causes the target to accept burn. I can see whole evil empires or “benevolent” The-state/church/etc.-knows-what’s-best types use this one to chilling efficiency. Inspiring!

The pdf also includes a 10-level PrC that nets d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Will-save progression as well as 3/5th spellcasting progression. The PrC requires 5 ranks in Spellcraft and Knowledge (nature) or (planes), ability to cast 2nd level arcane or psychic spells and needs the kinetic blast class feature as well as an additional one like spellstrike and its variants, arcanist exploits, fetish, harrowing, etc. The PrC nets 4 + Int skills per level and nets proficiency with simple weapons, light armors and bucklers. If you haven’t noticed via the prerequisites – this is pretty much a classic, hybrid-y kineticist/caster multiclass and as such, kineticist-advancement takes place whenever the class does not gain spellcasting progression. The PrC is, design-wise, once more an impressive achievement, as it manages to codify blasts as something that may be delivered via e.g. spellstrikes while retaining balancing factors that prevent this aspect from being cheesed to smithereens. The PrC also has a rather interesting series of three conductive substance infusions that allow you to lace kinetic blasts into touch spells, with composite blasts unlocked via the Greater version and there is progression of previous class features hard-coded into the PrC as well. I was also rather positively surprised by the extended holding charge mechanic, which does not automatically delivers a held spell when touching someone, providing additional control via a rather rarely employed angle. Burn to power spellcasting and the ability to prepare kinetic blasts in spell slots makes for an interesting capstone as well. While we’re on the subject of multiclassing/hybrid-concepts: The pdf does contain proper variant multiclassing rules that provide some meaningful, if less potent, options. I liked how these turned out.

Now, obviously, there would be the big thing still missing – here, that would be the Legendary Kineticist variant class. (I’ll abbreviated the fellow as “LK” from here on out.) The LK gets d8 HD, 4 + Int-mod skills, proficiency with simple weapons as well as light and medium armors, ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-saves. 1st level nets elemental focus alongside the basic utility talent as a bonus wild talent. 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter nets a new utility wild talent, and at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, one may be replaced, but not if it’s been used to qualify for another wild talent. Wild talents auto-scale in DC, with save DC governed by 10 + ½ class levels and Constitution modifier. 1st level also nets kinetic blast, obviously, and gather power only requires ONE free hand now, which can be pretty potent as a minor tweak, but which also makes sense to me. 1st level nets an infusion, with another one granted at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, with 4th level and every 4 levels after that allowing for retraining of one. This represents an upgrade in flexibility, obviously. Form infusions still use Dexterity to calculate the save DCs, thankfully. They may NOT replace an infusion with a wild talent. 2nd level nets elemental defense and 3rd level provides elemental overflow. Infusion specialization is retained as well. Metakinesis (ability name not bolded properly) is modified: 9th level is actually better balanced here: For the burn cost, the LK can force a target to reroll the save as if using Persistent Spell.

Expanded element is, as a base-line, more powerful now: It is gained at 6th level (again at 14th) and retains its benefits; however, the second element is no longer treated as -4 kineticist levels for the purpose of qualifying for wild talents. HOWEVER, and that is one of the balancing components here, expanded element no longer can grant you wild talents when expanding a previous element. To offset that, internal buffer is moved up to 7th level. This one works differently: It now starts at 1 and replenishes each day, but may not be simply charged back up. Points spent from it don’t activate elemental overflow and do not add to its effects, and the buffer may explicitly be used to exceed a single turn’s burn, but may not be used with battle burn. Buffer-size increases to 2 points at 11th and 3 at 16th level.

Wait, battle burn? Well, yeah, that’s one of the big differences here. Gained as soon as 4th level, battle burn means that the kineticist can accept 1 point of battle burn that has no physical effect. This may be taken when using an infusion or utility wild talent, but the respective ability must have a non-instantaneous duration measured in rounds or minutes. Wild talent duration is reduced to 5 minutes when powered by battle burn, or their normal duration, whichever is less. LKs can accept battle burn alongside normal burn (thus exceeding the limits) and 11th and 18th level increase the battle burn by +1, though the LK can only accept one per round. Here’s the catch: A 5 minute rest replenishes all battle burn. Yeah…I enjoy the idea, but I think that, in conjunction with the tweaks to the Burn-engine and slight power-upgrades here and there, this goes slightly too far.

Supercharge may now also be used as a swift action to reduce burn cost by 1 in addition to its classic effects. Composite blast remains at 16th level, metakinetic master remains at 19th level, and the capstone accounts for the changes wrought by battle burn. Extra Wild Talent has been rewritten for use in conjunction with this class.

Okay. I postponed this long enough. Let’s talk Burn. The LK’s burn cap is 3 + Constitution modifier, and the class can accept 1 point of burn per round, +1 at 6th level and for every 3 levels thereafter. Now, for one, battle burn, as noted, does not come into play here; neither does the internal buffer require this long to “recharge”, so we have as a whole some improved flexibility. But what’s the effect of burn? Well, it’s a -1 penalty to all Strength and Dexterity-based ability and skill checks, except initiative. That’s it. No save-penalty. No AC-penalty. Now, granted, this supersedes immunity to taking penalties to these, but the design ramifications are vast. I’ll get to those below.

The pdf, as has become the tradition with these files, concludes with a fully realized character, Trueno, the herald of the white sky, a middle-aged half-elven onslaught blaster legendary kineticist 8 with a nice backgroundstory and boon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level – while I noticed some minor deviations here and there, the pdf as a whole is pretty crisp and clean in that regard. Rules-language is impressive. The pdf juggles top-tier complexity concepts and displays an in-depth knowledge of rules-intricacies and balancing tweaks that few books showcase. While a few minor snafus have crept into the book, they are few and far in-between, and I’ll rather have highly complex and fun options with minor blemishes than perfect, low-difficulty blandness. Layout adheres to legendary Games’ 2-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf features a blend of classic and new artwork from LG’s catalogue. It should be noted that the layout crams a ton of information on each page, making this a very dense book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

N. Jolly and Onyx Tanuki, with contributing editors Blue Maculagh, Jacob McCoy, Timothy Mclaughlin and Blake Morton, have delivered what I did not expect here.

To get that out of the way: As a person, I LOATHE, with a fiery passion, the legendary kineticist’s burn mechanic. To me, the decreased combat capability and increasing vulnerability of kineticists due to burn is what makes them unique, fun and exciting to play. It’s literally what made me like the class. The LK gets rid of that in favor of a penalty that even a moderately capable group can play around without too much hassle. The LK retains combat power without a meaningful compromise in its defenses, which is pretty much what made it interesting for me. (Unless you get grappled and need to pass through threatened squares/climb/etc. in combat – then, you’ll suffer…if you didn’t plan ahead via magic items etc.) In short, the LK’s burn is more of a minor inconvenience than a question of survival/betting/etc. I hate the loss of flexibility regarding movement on the battlefield in favor of raw power here.

That being said, this is NOT a bug. It’s a feature. It’s what a lot of folks wanted. You see, the regular kineticist is a class that can be pretty challenging to play, simply because it can become so damn fragile. What excites me may be frustrating for others. And so, while I, as a person, despise it, am cognizant as a reviewer, that it will be just what the doctor ordered for many, many folks out there. It requires less system mastery, less teamwork and cautious playing, particularly in combination with battle burn. For me personally, this combo catapults the class to the point where I wouldn’t allow it in my games. HOWEVER, at the same time, there is a ton to love about the LK. I love pretty much all other tweaks t the chassis of the class. I really do, and, as a whole, I consider the chassis to be smoother and more elegant, with internal buffer as one example that many a group should scavenge. So yes, in spite of knowing about the burn beforehand and knowing I’d hate it, there is still a lot to love about this class...and if you want my advice and feel the same, you can put a hard, scaling daily cap on battle burn and use the old burn with this chassis sans breaking the game…so that’s probably what I’ll do.

Now, what I did not expect, was to like the archetypes and other supplemental material to this extent: With the notable exception of the telekinetic blademaster and its slightly weird design decisions, I found myself grinning rather broadly while reading this. The druid-companion double team, the unique tweaks to kineticist tricks, the inspired nihilicist…there is a ton to love here, and indeed, I consider this to be one of the best kineticist expansions out there. There is a lot of creative, high-concept and high-difficulty material in this book. It is creative and manages to convey a surprising amount of flavor in its dense crunch. Indeed, in contrast to my expectations, in spite of the couple of hiccups regarding the counter/spellturn options, in spite of knowing that I wouldn’t like the cornerstone of the damn main selling point of the book, I still found myself enjoying this book. The spells, the little options here and there…there is so much passion evident here, even after so many kineticist books. This is, in short, a book I’d consider to be a must-have for kineticist-fans. If you gravitate towards grittier playstyles, you should treat the LK with care and consider nerfing it, but even then, this will have so many cool concepts within its pages that it remains worth the asking price even if divorced from the alternate class. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars due to the minor hiccups and balance-concerns, but I absolutely HAVE to round up for this book. It made me smile with its ambition and skill, and as such, I’ll also slap my seal of approval on this. In case you were wondering: This, for me as a person, shares the throne of best kineticist supplement with Kineticists of Prophyra III.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Kineticists II
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Intrigue Archetypes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2018 07:29:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of archetypes, nominally associated with the Curse of the Crimson Throne plug-ins, clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 2 pages ToC/explanation of references, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We first begin this supplement with a total of 10 different archetypes, the first of which would be the Cityscape hierophant, a druid who receives a modified class skill list (losing nature skills, but gaining social skills, Knowledge (nobility) etc.) and similarly, proficiencies are modified: The archetype gets access to clubs, crossbows (all), dagger, dart, quarterstaff, sap and one-handed firearms as well as light armors and bucklers. The cityscape hierophant does not gain Sylvan as a bonus language, instead communicating with a weird sort of bastardized Druidic via e.g. graffiti. This is translated to arcane mark at-will as well as the glyph of warding spells being added to the spell-list. Instead of nature sense and wild empathy, we get a variant of detect undead that applies to undead, fey, outsiders as well as astral, ethereal and incorporeal creatures – spirit sense. The druid gets a concisely codified summoning tweak, with elementals and urban creatures, which, at the GM’s discretion, can include low leveled mooks based on NPC Codex stats. The archetype does not gain an animal companion, instead gaining a domain chosen from a limited list, which represents the changed focus of the archetype, allowing for the choice of Community, Nobility, etc. This also ties in with spontaneous casting, which is instead tied to domain spells instead of the usual summon nature’s ally conversions. The archetype replaces woodland stride and trackless step with favored terrain for urban terrain, scaling up to a +8 bonus at 17th level. Resist nature’s lure is replaced with +4 to saves vs. diseases, poison and alcohol and drugs. A thousand faces is gained at 6th level and wild shape is delayed until 8th level, usable at class level -4 and a limited animal familiarity restricted to city-bound animals. However, at 9th level, the basic, nerfed wildshape gets another use: As a swift or immediate action, the archetype may expend one use of wildshape to gain one of 5 different benefits for one hour per druid level. These include adaptable sight (first low-light vision, the darkvision after 1d4 rounds), waterbreathing after submersion, etc. – this is really cool. Camouflage, better jumping (+feather fall), evading detection…it makes you a badass urban druid that is superb in disappearing. Really cool. The archetype pays for this with venom immunity and timeless body. All in all, a great archetype and one of the best reasons to get this.

The next archetype would be an engine-tweak: The inquisitive detective may not take the inspired vigilante talent, gaining an investigator’s inspiration, governed by Charisma, and may take investigator talents instead of social talents, paying for the added flexibility with 3rd and 11th level’s social talents. The archetype does not gain free uses of inspiration on trained Knowledge etc. checks unless taking the inspired intelligence talent. It gets interaction with potentially problematic components right. Not a huge fan here, but the tweak at least prevents alchemist discoveries to be gained thus. Still, not that blown away here.

The mastermind psychic is another engine tweak. The archetype replaces one of the 1st level discipline psychic powers with Conceal Spell, with the explicit note that you can use social skills or Sense Motive in conjunction with this feat, The mastermind may undercast all spells with the ruse-descriptor, which seems simple, but is actually pretty complex. 5th level nets Brilliant Planner, replacing 5th level’s discipline power.

The scheming priest cleric must be non-good and uses Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute, gaining a couple of spells as added cleric spells, including glibness and, later, mage’s private sanctum at 5th spell level and mind blank at 8th spell level. The archetype only gets one domain and loses spontaneous casting, but gains a mesmerist’s hypnotic stare. Instead of channel energy, we get bold stare at 3rd level, and 9th level nets mask alignment, which does what it says on the tin. A hybrid-y engine tweak I really enjoyed. The next one would be the shapeshifting hunter, who replaces Handle Animal with Disguise and Sense Motive, class skill-wise. The character is treated as having a dead animal companion and adds detect and seek thoughts to the spellcasting. Instances of bonus tricks and hunter tactics are replaced with favored terrain at 3rd level. 4th level nets wild shape at full progression, with 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 16th level providing progressions, unlocking Huge and diminutive monstrous humanoid forms and using both monstrous physique and giant form as basis for the improvements, This replaces the companion and the links etc. – nice, complex shift of focus for the class.

Spell hacker wizards replace arcane bond with an arcanist exploit chosen from a list, treating her class level as arcanist level -3, minimum 1. This choice may be changed once per day. Instead of 5th level’s bonus feat, we get the option to 1 + 1 per 5 wizard levels prepare spells as if modified by one of multiple metamagic feats. The subtle gunslinger is a rather complex engine-tweak: The class gets psychic spells as a medium -3, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute and has a custom spell-list. This replaces pistol whip and utility shot as well as all higher level deeds. This is per se interesting, though it does not address the most frustrating aspects of the gunslinger class.

The talented tactician vigilante gets all knowledge skills and Spellcraft as class skills, but loses Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Disable Device and Survival. Similarly, their skills per level are reduced to 4 + Intelligence modifier. The archetype loses proficiency with two-handed martial weapons and medium armor, but may cast spells, governed by Intelligence, and otherwise using the bard’s engine, and doe so freely when wearing light armor etc. This replaces 5 of the potent vigilante talents. Spellcasting is also hard-coded to be associated with a bonded object spellbook. Instead of vigilante specialization, we get tactical analysis, which is a move action that targets a foe within 60 ft., using a Knowledge check as though identifying them. This nets all allies a circumstance bonus to atk and damage for Intelligence modifier +1/2 level rounds. The ability codified Knowledge skill used by creature type. Instead of vigilante talents, the archetype may choose arcanist exploits and qualifies for the Extra feat. Additionally, the archetype may choose from a list of a variety of unique talents. These include unlocking arcane reservoir and consume spells, damage increase, a magus’ spell combat, spellstrike, infinite pages in the spellbook, a familiar, adding Int-mod to atk with one-handed and light weapons. Better scroll casting and multi-target analysis as well as some limited spell-poaching can be found here. At 5th level, we get additional benefits for analysis, including knowing precise hit points of foes, ignoring Int mod DR, an AC-buff, etc. At 11th and 17th level, another such benefit is chosen. This replaces the appearance ability-tree. Instead of vengeance strike, we have basically imposed disadvantage for saves analyzed foes attempt versus the tactician’s spells. While this is an interesting, complex tactician tweak for the vigilante, I prefer other executions of the tactician trope, as blending of magus, arcanist and analysis and vigilante feel like a bit all over the place as far as I’m concerned.

The second vigilante archetype is the trickshot sniper, who loses martial melee weapon proficiency in favor of bows, chakrams, crossbows, firearms, slings, sling staves and shuriken. They must choose a specific weapon category among the ranged ones (or throws weapons) as a specialty, and these weapons may be reloaded as a free action, provided they do not take longer than a full-round action to reload. Good catch there! Bow/sling users etc. instead halve range penalties. Regardless of selected weapon, the character can designate a thrown weapon or ammo as part of using it as special, which translates to a scaling atk bonus. These may also be altered by ammo talents. 2 pieces of ammo may be designated per 5 minutes, +1 per such interval at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter and only one may be designated thus per round. This replaces vigilante specialization. The reference to ammo talents has probably cued you in: The archetype gets its own array of signature talents – not a few, mind you: We get more than 3 (!!) pages of signature talents, some of which are designated as ammo talents. We get reduced misfire rates adding energy damage, scatter shots, etc. – basically, if you wanted Green Arrow or Hawkeye as an archetype, then this fellow delivers. The archetype loses unshakeable in favor of sniping, and the appearance-ability-sequence is replaced with Shot on the Run and improving Shot on the Run for less penalties and more shots. The archetype also gets a modified capstone for full attack Stealth sniping.

The final archetype would be the Wild Card swashbuckler, who loses proficiency with martial weapons and gets Throw Anything as a bonus feat as well as Quarterstaff Master, with an obvious focus on applying the benefits of the swashbuckler’s usual features to the staff itself. The archetype loses out on one use of charmed life at 10th level, and 3rd level provides a means to quickly stand up via quarterstaff and improve jumping, sans AoO or with bonus to Acrobatics via panache expenditure. The 3rd level also nets the option to generate prestidigitation cards that act as shuriken, sans AoO while you have at least 1 panache. Yeah, you’ll probably have realized it by now – this archetype is basically the means to play Gambit from X-men. Infusing cards to be magical, and having them detonate at higher levels is damn cool. Similarly, using panache for charm person. Swashbuckler weapon training is delayed to 9th level, and instead of bleeding wound, we get the means to use panache to influence luck-based challenges and mitigate natural 1s with surges. 12th level nets Tripping Twirl instead of the bonus feat. All in all, this guy and the trick sniper are my favorites herein. It should be noted that the trickshot sniper also comes with a quiver that can duplicate magic ammo/thrown weapons with short-lived duplicates produced.

The pdf also contains a couple of class options: Arcanist exploits include two options: Layered Spell lets you hide a spell in another, with the cost in points contingent on spell level. The exploit is pretty potent, somewhat kept in check by limiting the applicable spells for the dual cast at 2 spell levels lower than the maximum you can cast. The second exploit is Spontaneous Ruse, which allows you to spontaneously change a ruse spell to its non-ruse version, even if you don’t have it. The exploit also lets you expend points to cast the ruse, even if not prepared. There are 4 different magus arcana; three for 1/day free metamagic for certain fats, and one that lets you expend an arcane pool point for + class level bonus to Str or Dex-based skill checks next round. There are three new vigilante talents. One that lets you scavenge amid the ammo talents of the trickshot sniper; one for more damage with crossbows etc. and one for quicker reloading with wrist launchers, crossbows, etc.

The feat chapter provides several tweaks for the vigilante, like one that nets you vigilante talents if you have a casting vigilante archetype that costs you this precious resource; there is a feat for better talented tactician analysis, one for Wisdom or Intelligence-using vigilantes…you get the idea. The chapter also contains a ton of feats that show the very distinct penmanship of Clinton Boomer: I.e., there are feats herein that are very much things to build characters towards, with seriously high complexity in several cases. For example, only urban druids of cityscape hierophants may take Aegis of Brick and Glass. This not only expands your spell-list, it makes the spells use local masonry etc. to duplicate the architectural style, providing a means of hiding and blending with your surroundings; furthermore, for example, stone shape in urban environment can affect glass, bricks and tiles, etc. This is incredibly cool and flavorful and a design aesthetic that suffuses the vast majority of these feats. Black Magick Gumshoe is a cityscape hierophant/detective multiclass feat, while Deductive Intellect provides synergy between Cityscape Hierophant, detective (bard and investigator (rogue) are blended, with Deduction Points representing the potent deductions. Blending touch of corruption and Deduction points. Pitiless Economies allows you to decrease the cost-of-living benefits of targets, cursing them…and yes, this may maintain your life. This is twisted and really dangerous. Not a fan of the auto-confirmed crits versus destitute targets, but yeah. Cool one! It should be noted that the majority of these complex feats are for the cityscape hierophant druid, so if that archetype already resounded with you, then this chapter will make you love it.

The pdf also provides a new PrC that spans 10 levels. The Coinmage gets d6 HD, 6 + Intelligence modifier skills, no new proficiencies, ½ BAB- and Ref- and Will-save progression and no new armor/weapon proficiency. In order to qualify for the PrC, you need 5 ranks of Sleight of Hand, you must be capable of casting 1st level arcane spells and prestidigitation as well as either sneak attack or hidden strike. The class gets progression at 1st level, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th level – either gain sneak attack/hidden strike or spellcasting progression. Problematic: The 4th level notes progression twice in the class table – one of these may be simply misplaced and intended for 5th level, but I’m not sure. The class manipulates coins, measuring the ability to influence them by numismatic capacity, using highest spell known or sneak attack/hidden strike dice to determine it. The value also increases at certain levels, but may not exceed 7, unless expanded with numismatic specialty – more on that later. Coin effects can encompass multiple flights of coins and may be influenced as a standard action at 1st level. Later, attentions are gained, and upon gaining an attention, the previous effects will be optionally reduced. Range may be upgraded, and so may speed. The class provides fixed access to the copper, silver and gold ability suites. Class levels 6th and every level thereafter yield access to an advanced metal regarding the abilities. Now, these flights of coins per se offer interesting options, with line of sight blocking, missile coins, etc. The abilities even have a fatigue engine that decreases CL on failed concentration checks after the flights had been animated. And the capstone allows you to tweak the flights of clouds. This PrC is weird. I read it multiple times until I finally understood how it works – it is somewhat obtuse and hard to grasp, with e.g. “Choice Upgrade” and the sequence of its presentation being confusing and unfortunately named. This sense of not being as refined as the rest of the pdf extends to the effecs themselves, save-reference not capitalized…and the engine and notes ultimately make this feel like it spiraled somewhat out of control, like it could have been a good class tweak/alternate class, but as provided, this is really hard to understand. It’s not necessarily bad, mind you, it just feels less refined, with no maximum damage cap for iron coins apart from the flight-coin limit. This is also enforced by e.g. one and the same type of save formula, “15 + your coinmage level” coming once with “plus” and once with “+” on the same page. This feels like a late addition that could have used a dev-pass to make its per se interesting framework more refined. The concept would have deserved as much.

The pdf closes with a really cool, kickass half-elf vigilante trickshot sniper, Nitha Rathi, who gets a cool background and a neat boon for PCs befriending her, ending the pdf on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are top notch on both a formal and rules-language level. There are some aspects, where the book suddenly becomes slightly less refined, though. Layout adheres to a really beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with nice full-color artworks, though fans of legendary games will be familiar with quite a few of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

More so than most such archetype books, this book by N. Jolly, Jason Nelson, Clinton J. Boomer, Jonathan H. Keith, Julian Neale and David N. Ross is one that turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. I really liked the scheming priest, but the main winners here are antipaladins/evil guys (feat chapter!), and druid and vigilante players. The cityscape hierophant archetype is a joy to read and made me recall China Miéville’s vast sprawls and Perdido Street Station in particular. The vigilante’s two class tweaks were hit and miss for me: Tactician-wise, there imho are better base classes out there, and the blend of magus and arcanist tricks grafted to its chassis didn’t gel with me well on a personal level – probably, because I consider the arcanist class to be perhaps one of the most problematic ones in vanilla PFRPG, or because it felt too thinly-spread. It also has a metagame-component, which I don’t really like that much. On the other hand, the trickshot sniper is amazing and oozes flavor.

The other classes get somewhat less material herein, but frankly, the trickshot sniper and cityscape hierophant warrant getting this on their own, the latter particularly courtesy to the massive feat-expansions later. If either one interests you, get this! The PrC could have been a shining star of the pdf, but instead ends up being a rather hard to grasp component that feels less refined than usual for Legendary Games. Compared to the asian archetypes-pdfs by Legendary Games, this one feels more focused in its usefulness, less universally appealing. That being said, I still consider this to be very much worth getting, but I feel I cannot round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Intrigue Archetypes
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Book of Celestial Heroes (5E)
by Sarah R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2018 00:53:14

Great purchase with or without the The Book of Exalted Darkness . This book offers fantasy setting rich in flavor that is a fresh and creative take on the classic elements of D&D. A solid list classes, spells, creatures and feats help make this world unique and different from the countless others out there. The setting is versatile and intuitive and is developed very well and features tons of things that kindle the imagination. The layout of the book is pretty great and it features beautiful art throughout, to help you visualize what the setting has created and evoke the right mood. A lot of effort has gone into the making of this book so that DMs can effortlessly bring all of the content directly into their games. Everything seems to be well balanced and the included adventure is pretty fun as well! Overall, I think this a great book for anyone who loves decopunk fantasy and wants something different from the standard setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Celestial Heroes (5E)
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Vile Primer (5E)
by Craig P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2018 15:32:58

This is an interesting read. I do not usually play games like this, but I am finding them interesting. As a solo, homebound, Disabled Veteran, and retired state employee, I obtain these items more for reading material than actually playing. The text is easy to read and follow, and the included photos are useful visual aids.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vile Primer (5E)
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Asian Archetypes: Magical
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/19/2018 04:08:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second book of archetypes for Asian settings clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, chock-full with new material – remember, Legendary Games books have a LOT of words per page, so we have a lot of ground to cover!

It should be noted that this pdf features some spells from Legendary Games’ massive Asian Spell Compendium – but you do not need to purchase it to use this book – all spells referenced have been reproduced herein for your convenience. Big kudos for that!

The first archetype herein would be the Bodhisattva paladin, who must be of good alignment and loses proficiency with heavy armor. Instead of aura of good, we get a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and to Intimidate with good creatures, a minus 2 penalty to Diplomacy with evil creatures. Paladin spells with the [good] descriptor and conjuration (healing) spells at full CL. Additionally, detect disease, detect good, detect poison, guidance, purify food and drink, resistance, virtue may be used as a SP, with the total uses equal to paladin class level, at full CL. The lay on hands abilities of this archetype gets an upgrade as well, extending damaging capabilities to include evil outsiders, half fiends and fiendish creatures. The bodhisattva also learns at 2nd level to sense the taint of evil creatures and objects as with scent, which also acts as uncanny dodge for evil targets, attacks with evil objects and regarding spells with the [evil] descriptor – interesting! This ability also allows for the tracking of evil via Sense Motive, rather than via Survival – and yes, a brief table of sample DCs is provided. Heck, mind-shielding spells can make the DC higher, as a proper table also mentions and clarifies. This one replaces divine grace and is really cool. Like it.

The archetype also expands player agenda, as 4th level’s channel energy based on lay on hands is expanded, allowing for a choice of 1 celestial channeling option chosen from an array of 6, with an additional one gained every 4 levels thereafter. These include an auto-dazzling nimbus of light, banishing outsiders (with a max-cap to prevent abuse) and a 1-round daze on a failed save for evil creatures, for example. Nice ones – I wish we could have gotten slightly longer list, though. This replaces aura of resolve/justice. 5th level nets summon satva, which may be used 1/day +1/day for every 4 levels after 5th. Satvas may shed lights and manifest in an unoccupied square up to 30 ft. away. They don’t block line of sight/effect. Each satva may be only called once per day. Each of these basically provides a persistent magic effect that can provide a passive buff or even healing/DR/fast healing, with the activation action, if any, clearly codified. All in all, a rewarding, potent and fun archetype!

The Censor inquisitor gets Wis-mod to Diplomacy and ½ class level to Perception to note forgery or Sleight of Hand, replacing monster lore. Instead of solo tactics and 3rd level’s teamwork feat, we reduce the miss chance granted by illusions by 5% per 2 class levels. Instead of 6th level’s teamwork feat, we add erase/memory lapse as 1st level spells to the spells known. When successfully targeting a creature with them, the censor may expend a 1st-level spell slot to ask the creature a question that may be answered with a single word or short sentence, with the save DC equal to the original spell’s to resist. On a failure, the target answers truthfully AND forgets about this immediately. Cool! 9th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to expend a 2nd level spell slot as a swift action upon scoring a crit, causing the target to take 2 Cha-damage and affect the target with caster croak spellblight, with a proper, Wis-based scaling DC. 12th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to swift action true seeing against a target of judgments – nice blend of the abilities. 15th level nets immediate awareness of shapechanging/altering effects as well as having the option to expend 4th-level spell slots to force such an effect to end. 18th level nets you the option to expend a 5th-level spellslot to make a circle of light, which not only gets rid of lies and forces Stealth to cease, it also eliminates magical Stealth-enhancers. And yes, the latter two abilities replace the teamwork feats. Another nice one.

The jade fist bloodrager are up next, and receive the bloodrage’s Will-save bonus to fear and necromancy effects as well as those generated by undead. The archetype adds blessed jade strike as a 3rd level spell to spells known (spell provided for you). Instead of 1st and 12th level’s bloodrager powers, these guys get +2 natural AC, but -2 to Dex when entering a bloodrage, as the skin turns to jade. This also provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. death effects, disease, energy drain, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning and necromantic effects. 12th level increases the bonuses and penalties incurred by 2. These guys get aImproved Unarmed Strike, at 1d6 for Medium bloodragers, replacing fast movement. 2nd level nets DR 1/Adamantine, which increases by 1 for every 2 levels thereafter, replacing uncanny dodge and the regular DR. At 4th, the jade fist may expend spell slots as a swift action to add lifesurge to unarmed strikes, considering it as +1 regarding enhancement bonus, +1 for every 4 levels thereafter, though this only applies vs. undead. Duration is governed by the level of the spell slot expended. At 8th level, this may be extended to weapons wielded, though the weapon needs to be partially made of jade. This replaces 4th level’s bloodline power. At 5th level, he gets basically 25% fortification, which increases to 15th level, replacing improved uncanny dodge and bloodline feat gained at 15th level. Kudos: This covers interaction with proper fortification right. Instead of 14th level’s indomitable will, we can expend 4th level spell slots to cast a spell as a swift action, sans AoO, treating it as 4th level.

The jinshi wizard must not be chaotic and automatically gains the average living expenses benefits, but he is also required to spend some days of the month serving the people, a duration that may btw. be paid off each month. These guys add Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive to class skills and learns two languages for every 2 ranks of Linguistics invested. They also add comprehend/share languages as well as tongues as spells known at 1st level. These fellows may not gain a familiar, instead gaining a bonded object. They may draw 1 spell from this object into an unoccupied spell slot, needing to fulfill all other requirements. This spell is available only fleetingly, and only ½ CL such spells may be retrieved from the object per day. This does not allow for the cheesing of prohibited schools. There is also the requirement of thereafter adding to the repository of spells, illustrating nicely the idea of a magic repository that transcends the ages. Instead of Scribe Scroll and the 1st level school power, these folks get Allied Spellcaster, gaining the benefits even if the nearby ally doesn’t have the feat. When readying actions and casting the same spells, DCs are increased and the higher CL is used. The feat may also be loaned for a limited number of rounds to allies, using school power uses as a resource. Clever. 5th level nets lore master and 10th level lets 1/day jinshi Empower or Extend Spells retrieved from the repository, +1/day use at 15th level and every 5 levels thereafter., where Maximize and Widen Spell are added to theoptions. The Allied Spellcaster ability also allows for use with this one. 15th level relives the character of the duties and also allows for at-range sharing of Allied Spellcasters, with allies sans spellcasting instead gaining Shielded Caster. Nice.

The unchained summoner kaiju caller loses proficiency with medium and heavy armor. When they use summon monster SP. You may expend 2 uses instead to summon a version at +1 size category, gaining the benefits of enlarge person. These guys only get the eidolon at 5th level, and it is brutish – ¼ skill points, Intelligence 1. However, it is immune to Intelligence drain/damage. The eidolon does gain a ferocity variant and the ability to 1/day immediate action delay the onset of a condition by one round. The summoner can grant his eidolon also a reroll as an alternative…and gets the complex ruler-interactions done right. Instead of transposition, we get chant of doom, which nets a doom chant that employs summon monster uses as resource and no-save shakens targets, but does not exacerbate previous fear effects. Nice one. At 10th level, the chant can grant allies a lesser form of rage (+2 Str/Con, +1 to Will-saves; -1 AC + restrictions to Cha/Dex/Int-based skill checks, excluding Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate and Ride). These benefits scale at higher levels and targets are not fatigued when the benefit elapses. This replaces aspect and greater aspect. The capstone lets the character generate natural disasters…or call Kaiju. OUCH. Damn cool.

The Kannushi druid adds Diplomacy/Knowledge (local + planes)) as class skills and loses medium and shield proficiency. Wild empathy is replaced with a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local, planes, religion). The archetype gets an expanded spell list, courtesy of kami tutelage and can call them with summon nature’s ally and entice fey, replacing spontaneous spells. Nature’s bond is delayed to 4th level, at 3 levels lower, gaining one spirit domain from an elder fey/jinushigami if worshiping such a target. Venom immunity is replaced by a shrine that can protect everything stored there. Interesting one.

The kenja cleric may not be evil and begins play with a potent vow of peace as a restriction that enforces fighting defensively or in total defense for the first two rounds, or cast defensive/healing spells. When given the chance, he must attempt to deal nonlethal damage to living targets. The archetype also loses proficiency with armor and shields, and only proficient in bolas, club, light mace, quarterstaff, sap, sling and sling staff. They get a monk-like unarmored AC bonus and may, as a move action, commune with ancestors to add a +2 insight bonus to the next d20-roll before the end of the next turn, usable Wis-mod + ½ cleric levels times per day. 1/day, the kenja may expend 3 uses to enter a trance that duplicates scaling divination effects. This replaces one 1st-level domain power. He also gets basically a lay on hands ability that substitutes for channel energy, including mercies gained throughout character progression. When used offensively, it may duplicate Touch of Serenity and the ability may also Merciful Spell spontaneously spells. This may not be used to damage undead. The archetype can spontaneously convert spells to peacebond or calm emotions (no cheesing possible) and 4th level nets sanctuary with buffs added – only one may be maintained, but the ability fails to specify the activation action – I assume the default standard action for SUs, but one could make a case for less. The ability improves at 8th and 16th level and may be used offensively to prevent creatures from attacking. This replaces the second domain power of a domain. I like this one’s “balanced Book of Exalted Deeds”-vibe, in spite of my nitpicks.

The mantis Madonna is a magus who loses armor proficiency, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute, treating spells as psychic spells. Huge kudos: Component substitution mentioned and covered! Spells are limited, but may be spontaneously cast and chosen from magus and psychic spell lists. The arcane pool is governed by Wisdom as well and applies to unarmed strikes – and yes, these folks get Improved Unarmed Strike and a monk’s progression for it as well as Stunning Fist, applying arcane pool benefits to these attacks and gaining a defense AC-granting buff to arcane pool-uses. Spellstrike applies to unarmed attacks and the archetype receives a modified magus arcana list, which include arcane eye/ lesser astral projection. I liked how the archetype handles the concept of combat precognition as an arcana, plus, we get defensive tricks like evasion and its improved brethren, further emphasizing the magus/monk-crossover idea. Instead of spell recall and its improved version, the archetype can expend arcane pool points to replenish spell slots, and the bonus feat array encompasses Style feats…and, actually gets the wording for feats that build on style feats right. Picture me celebrating hard in front of the screen! This is something almost everyone gets wrong! Kudos!! The archetype can also expend arcane pool points when preparing spells for a wildcard-ish psychic spell selection. At high levels, we also get Style/Stance-blending, which is something I always loved. While we lose the spell combat upgrades, we do get cool cosmic awareness-themed SPs as well as acting in a surprise round. I love this archetype. It’s a great representation of a hybrid-y archetype that feels distinct.

The miko shaman adds Appraise to the skill list and all their spells employ ofudas as an inexpensive material component, replacing divine focus. Here’s the cool thing: They can’t be dispelled. Instead, the ofuda must be taken off the target and targets don’t see ofudas attached to themselves. Now, this spellcasting tweak is really, really cool and includes grappling and stealing ofudas, as well as hp-levels. The archetype also gets ½ class level to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate as well as Sense Motive when interacting with fey and kami, and the ability to talk to dormant and nascent kami translates to speak with animals, plants or object reading, with 10th level unlocking stone tell, though these are limited by a hex-caveat – appropriate, since the ability replaces 2nd level’s hex. 8th level nets a shikigami kami as a spirit animal and may morph into animal form at beast shape III. The archetype also expands the summon nature’s ally-list with kamis. This replaces 8th level’s hex. 12th level is per se amazing: A potent option to bless a group to either grant bonuses or net cool benefits in conjunction with the downtime system – but, alas, the ability does not specify how long it takes to perform.

The Numerologist wizard must be lawful and adds Disable Device as a class skill. Scribing a spell requires twice the time, but they only take up half the space and other wizards have a hard time deciphering spells from their cipher. They also forfeit one spell per day of the highest spell level, with later levels losing similarly spell slots. Scribe Scrolls are harder to decipher for other casters and to make up for some of the drawbacks, these guys gain factors, which may be used ½ class levels, minimum 1, + Int-mod times per day as a move action These factors can provide a variety of numerical bonuses or reduce concealment, for example Minor nitpick: The factor unlocking is a move action, and thereafter, the numerologist can store multiple ones, up to Int-mod factors. This could have been phrased slightly more elegantly, but oh well. This replaces arcane bond. The archetype may break down higher level spell slots into lower level spell slots and gets some non-magic divination-effects at 4th level. They can prepare hexagrams as Silent Spell substitutions of verbal components (but you need somatic ones to brandish the hexagram) – this replaced 5th level’s bonus feat. At 10th level, the hexagram becomes more potent, adding +1 CL and Enlarge/Sculpt Spells brandished thus. The archetype receives symbolic magic, which nets glyph spells added as wella s the option to really competently deal with such trap-magics. Higher levels yield a bonus to saves vs. compulsion and insanity/confusion-immunity. 12th level lets the character 1/day replace a roll of his (or another being) with the average. Random rolls by items like the rod of wonder may be rolled multiple times for factor uses and fortune/misfortune hexes can also be sued. Damn cool archetype.

The origamist arcanist replaces the 1st level exploit with a construct origami familiar and may substitute origamis for material components that cost less than 1 gp. 5th level locks the character in a variant of the consume magic items exploit that only applies to magic items made of paper. Scrolls on the sorc/wiz list may be folded into origamis and cast sans writing them into the spellbook. He may also fold scrolls into costly material components. 9th level’s exploit is replaced with an origami-based shadow conjuration variant and unfortunate origami and paper vessel are added to spells known (these are reproduced for your convenience) at 10th and 12th level, respectively. 13th level provides a really cool, alternate 2D-paper-form that includes benefits for turning sideways, including furling into an impossibly thin line. Really cool replacement for that level’s exploit.

Ehem. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun. insert amazing beat The next archetype is Raiden. A shaman archetype and the guy you see on the cover. Proficiency-wise, we get long- and shortbows, whips and simple weapons and light armor. Wind is the prescribed spirit choice and may infuse shocking touch in arrows. We get lightning/storm-themed spirit magic spontaneous casting options and the ability to use shocking touch to fire a low-range electricity ray. This replaces wandering spirit. Instead of wandering he, we get the ability to make a super fast lightning ladder, which is REALLY useful. More so than you’d think. Instead of greater wandering spirit,w e get thundering or shock added to weaponry, as well as free thundering added on crits made with shocking touch. Really cool: Combo resistance-grant/line of damage instead of wandering hex (greater). Mechanically not the most interesting archetype herein, but I love MK, and I love playing Raiden…so yeah. Ehem.

The skyflower savant alchemist gets snapdragon fireworks as a first level extract and proceeds to get limited access to [fire]-descriptor (erroneously called fire subtype) evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list, with a limited set of discoveries as an alternate choice. These choices are made at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. The bombs of the alchemist dazzle targets on failed saves and may even blind the unlucky (nat 1 on save or confirmed crit), replacing Brew Potion. Poison resistance and immunity are traded in for a scaling bonus to saves versus fire effects and the blinded, dazzled and deafened conditions, as well as scaling fire resistance. Swift alchemy is traded in for quicker firework and black powder creation. Finally, there would be the Wushen wizard, who gets +1 toC L when preparing at least 3 spells of the same element. The class needs to adhere to a taboo, +1 at 3rd level and every three levels thereafter, with violations penalizing CL and spell save DC. They begin play with a ki pool of 1 point and add Int-mod points at 5th level, +1 for every 5 levels after 5th. These can be used for minor bonuses as well as to increase CL by 1d4, for 2 points, starting at 10th level. This replaces bonus feats. Instead of arcane bond, they can craft a fetish at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. These act as a spellbook substitute, allowing for preparation sans the spellbook, as if with both Spell Mastery and Eschew Materials. The fetish spell can also add a +1 spell level adjustment metamagic feat, which is free for the spell as long as the fetish is worn. The wushen does not need to know the feat, fyi. Cool take on the concept!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language level – considering the density and high complexity of the rules-operations herein, the precision is marvelous indeed. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will know most. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson and David N. Ross deliver an all-killer pdf of archetypes. These options ooze flavor galore, cover unique and fun concepts…and they can stand up to even the high levels of coolness that e.g. Interjection Games’ Onmyoji reached, providing meaningful and unique changes to the game. I am particularly enamored with the superbly-elegant ofuda-casting herein: Easy to implement, making it the dominant (or only) casting tradition can have phenomenal and interesting repercussions for the world. I am definitely experimenting with this in the days to come! The book, in short, is a winner. Well worth checking out, full of cool ideas, I was left with minor nitpicks here and there, but not enough to steal the crown of 5 stars + seal of approval from this excellent book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Archetypes: Magical
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Asian Bloodlines
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:28:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of bloodrager and sorcerer bloodlines intended for Asian settings clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 2/3 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so structure-wise, a few of the bloodlines herein make use of spells from the Asian Spell Compendium – these have been reprinted here for your convenience. (Kudos!) The pdf first proceeds to present bloodrager bloodlines, then sorcerer bloodlines. The respective ones have been properly tailored to the two classes, while retaining concise leitmotifs.

Let me demonstrate with the first bloodline, the imperial dragons, who choose a lineage corresponding to the 5 imperial dragon types. This influenced the shape of the breath weapon as well of the associated energy type. The imperial dragon bloodlines presented are based on the core draconic bloodlines, with 12th level adding an increased threat range to them. The dragon resistances at 4th level represents a natural AC bonus and DR 5/bludgeoning or slashing, with the AC scaling at higher levels. Breath weapons of imperial sea dragons can alternatively be executed as a 60 ft.-line and the draconic movement is adjusted for each of the lineages chosen and tweaked in unique ways – for example, forest dragon scions get the abilities trackless step and woodland stride in forests as well as freedom of movement as well as the high-level option to see through natural obstacles in forests: Vines etc. offer no concealment. That is damn cool and allows for some really nasty tactical options. You can see how the respective draconic options here work well for the bloodrager. The sorcerer version of the bloodline gets enhanced piercing damage spells as bloodline arcana as well as a focus on better damage output for e.g. animated objects chiefly made of earth, stone, mud, etc. The sorcerer option has less direct adjustments than the bloodrager option, but it still is distinct from it.

Now the imperious bloodline so far had no bloodrager equivalent, a fact that hereby changes, as the imperious bloodrager provides a decrease of length required to use Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge versus humans to one round while bloodraging, as well as a bonus to Intimidate versus those affected by your spells. Really cool: Executing good hope/suggestion as part of entering bloodrage! Even cooler, there is actually a caveat that prevents abuse by bloodrage-cycling. At higher levels, we have the option for immediate action demoralizing of targets as a response to being targeted by spells, SUs, etc. 12th level nets inspired rage raging song via spell slot expenditure, with spell levels denoting the duration. The higher level options provide 1/day adding geas/quest or vengeful outrage to Intimidate, while the capstone nets immunity to death effects and energy drain and cease to age or require drink/sleep. The bloodline is really cool, as it focuses on a leader bloodrager, a trope we only rarely see catered to. Nice!

Both bloodrager and sorcerer get the kami bloodline. For the bloodrager, this begins with a VERY potent skirmishing trick – ignoring difficult terrain while bloodraging. I’d complain here, were it not for the limitation by bloodrage. This would only be the first ability, though, and the bloodline frankly moves on to provide a thoroughly awesome rendition of the concept underlying the notion of kami: The bloodline allows for the use of bloodrage rounds to animate objects with kamis, with progressively better animations. Similarly, melding into the ground, spirit sight and designating a ward make this one a truly cool and unique bloodline that allows for meaningful changes of the playing experience. I love it! The sorcerer version of the bloodline is similar, but instead of the unbound chaos of animated objects, we get the options to make origami shikigami! Yeah, amazing, right? Spells and bloodline arcana also represent rather well a different take on the concept that feels much more sorcerer-y while retaining its familiar ties with the bloodrager bloodline.

The kappa bloodline provided for both classes nets defensive options, including no arcane spell failure in heavy armor and when using tower shields for the bloodrager, as well as sight through mists and kappa-transformation when entering bloodrage. The bloodrager can also short-range teleport in mists etc. with spell-slot expenditure, with higher levels providing grabbing claws as well as dragon turtle bloodrage and an antimagic shell that nets SR. Once more, a rules-relevant and interesting modification of the bloodrager-experience that I applaud. The sorcerer bloodline, alas, is less interesting – we get scaling defenses, resistances and the like, but nothing that really screams “unique”, though the option to change fire-damage spells to ones that cause cold damage at +1 damage per die rolled is a nice bloodline arcana.

The next bloodline would be the kitsune bloodline – the sorcerer bloodline makes the saves versus interacting with your illusions tougher if the targets are friendly or better and you can generate fox fire, which are dancing lights that add an option to be fired as fiery globes. Cool! Unsurprisingly, we get a focus on shapechanging that scales, as well as more persistent illusions that persist after your concentration breaks. Really cool: Polymorphing into targets you have magic jar’d and the capstone swift action illusion maintenance. At this level, we can also expend spell slots to enhance the shapechanging tricks. The passion and design is evident – Alexander Augunas has obviously designed this one. It has his style written all over it. The bloodrager version of the bloodline is damn cool as well and goes a thoroughly different route: We get Kumiho transformation when bloodraging as well as 4th level full spellcasting while in kumiho form, which btw. also makes your spells harder to identify. The bloodline then proceeds to provide further upgrades for this fearsome form, including the option to execute heart strikes, which, at higher levels, can become instantly fatal, but require set-up. I love how different a route this one takes, yet how it remains distinctly kitsune. There is also a cool kyubi mutated bloodline that gets a ki pool governed by Charisma, which comes with some unique enhancers to spellcasting. It also makes for really cool synergies with different ki-tricks of other classes and options from e.g. The Way of Ki or the numerous WuXia-themed options out there. This one replaces potent illusions.

Next up would be the naga bloodline: For the bloodrager, this one nets a properly codified bite attack that scales with levels and later nets you poison with it. Scaling AC-bonuses and naga shape III, a capstone immunity to mind-reading and permanent see invisibility as well as at-will detect thoughts and a +2 bonus to saves versus mind-influencing effects. The naga bloodline for sorcerers nets limited invisibility, better enchantment DCs and saves vs. mind-influencing effects and poisons, casting sans hands and a capstone, at-will naga shape III plus immunity to charm, mind-reading and poison. We also get two mutated bloodlines, with the guardian naga adding an AC-buff when fortifying yourself with transmutations. There is a somewhat hilarious cut-copy-paste glitch here that mentions them deriving their power from the kyubi, but it does not influence rules-integrity. Instead of vanishing, guardian nagas can spit poison a limited number of times, ensnaring eyes are replaced with bonuses to mind-influencing effects and the bloodline nets a few cleric spells added to the spell-list. The second mutated bloodline would be the spirit naga, who can squeeze through tighter spaces and gets +2 to Escape Artist as well as to escape from grapples and to saves versus entangling/restricting conditions. This replaces naga resistances and 9th level nets a fascinating gaze that replaces ensnaring eyes.

The oni bloodline nets a touch that inflicts scaling nonlethal damage (cool!) a limited amount of times, with altered self gained at 3rd level and 17th level unlimiting the ability. We also get gaseous form and 15th level nets you oni regeneration, which kicks in once you’re reduced below 0 hit points. A limit prevents the cheesing of the ability via Hp-transfer tricks – kudos! A lesser designer would have stumbled over this one. The capstone nets a giant shape I-based alternate form as well as SR and +2 to DCs for charm and compulsion. There is a mutated bloodline for the oni, the nogitsune, which lets you see past sight-obscuring spells (cool!!) and replaces the gaseous form ability with additional target/increased area of effects for charm and compulsion spells. The bloodrager iteration of the bloodline, which nets you a gore attack, whose damage is properly codified. (Type must be defaulted, but it’s gore, so yeah, no big issue.) The alter self/gaseous form options are retained, though oni regeneration is tweaked and instead uses a maximum daily cap, but may be activated as a swift or immediate action, which makes sense for the class. The high-level options, we get the giant form I-based trick, with a further enlarge person as part of bloodrage and SR added as well; if already in giant form I, it upgrades to II. Neat one.

The rakshasa bloodline is another nice bloodrager option that makes sense for faces – +5 to Bluff to lie and characters attempting to force the truth out of the fellow require a CL-check. We also get a well-made claw attack in bloodrage (properly codified) and limited, instant detect thoughts sans the 3-round concentration requirement, which is cool. Nondetection/misdirection becomes available at 12th level, and 16th level nets a save versus divine spells and channel energy/domain powers as well as DR 5/good and piercing , which increases at 20th level. The capstone nets you an unlimited, alternate raksaha form. The sorcerer version comes with the same cool silver tongue ability at first level, the same detect thoughts…but makes nondetection permanent and also yields unlimited alter self into any humanoid. The capstone nets outsider apotheosis as well as DR 10/piercing, though it should be noted that it explicitly does not come with the usual outsider-apotheosis returning-from-death-restrictions.

The final bloodline provided herein would be the tengu. The Sorcerer version nets +1 to attack with spells that create slashing weapons as well as +1 to the DC of language-dependent effects. The bloodline powers begin limited gliding/feather fall via gliding wings – really cool! 3rd level nets swordtraining and thus, a massively-enhanced proficiency-list, as well as sorcerer level as BAB for the purpose of feat-qualification. This also nets Weapon Focus and qualifies for Weapon Specialization later. 9th level nets scent, which is particularly efficient versus undead. The higher level options include being able to avoid the limitations of language-dependent spells and effects a limited amount of times per day, as well as full spellcasting functionality in bird form. The capstone nets you a tengu shape as well as the option to negate an attack by becoming a cloud of feathers that also makes you effectively benefit from gaseous form, nets you concealment and allows for the follow-up beast shape II assuming of a crow shape. Neat one! The bloodrager variant of the bloodline nets you a beak, which acts a s a secondary natural weapon (damage type not codified); attacks with it are enhanced when wielding a sword and 4th level provides bonded blade, which may be quickly drawn…and comes with a parry mechanic based on opposed attack rolls. Here’s the thing: Action, rounds of bloodrage and AoOs as resources to fuel it make it actually tactical. While I’ll never be a fan of them, this is pretty much one of the best iterations of a parry mechanic I know. Even cooler: You can expend spell slots to temporarily render the bonded even more potent, adding bonuses or special qualities. Minor complaint: The bloodline nets Style feats, and while the base Style feat is available all the time, the 12th and 16th levels net +1 such feat, with the wording implying that these could be follow-up feats from a Style’s feat-chain. Here’s the issue: Only the FIRST feat in a Style-feat chain is a Style-feat. Style feats are limited and those that build on them usually are combat feats. So yeah, this one is a tad bit more wonky than I’m accustomed to see from LG. 12th level nets your flight in bloodrage; 16th provides Deflect Arrows while in bloodrage and the capstone nets auto-confirms for crits and an increased multiplier as well as immunity to being disarmed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, with only one, harmless, formal typo and very minor hiccups in the rules. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will be familiar with them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

Jason Nelson, Alexander Augunas and David N. Ross are all veteran designers that deliver a ton of first-class products. Their names are almost always a really good indicator that the book will be at least good, quite probably amazing. Now, let me be frank: I’m rather burned out on the concept of bloodlines. I have analyzed and read so many of them, that this review took me longer than it should have. That being said, this book frankly clocks in as one of the best books for sorcerers and bloodragers that you can possibly get for PFRPG, with only Interjection games’ Big Book of Bloodlines sporting bloodlines this distinct. While I wasn’t utterly blown away by all bloodlines herein, there are quite a bunch that rather radically change the playing experience of the respective base class, and that is an amazing thing to achieve. This is a really compelling, well-written supplement that provides a LOT of information and quality rules in its pages. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Bloodlines
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Book of Exalted Darkness (5E)
by andrew e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2018 16:49:40

Practice your evil laugh, warm up the sacrificial altars and pull the lever, because the Book of Exalted Darkness does the corrupted and dark justice that a proper evil campaign deserves.

Our playgroup has twirled their mustaches, laughed maniacally and sent many a do-gooder to their doom. Throughout my years as a GM I’ve had several evil campaigns pop up both on purpose and on accident, but they rarely went well for long. Evil campaigns have inherent problems that are hard to shake, problems that inevitably degrade and undo the notion of a coherent adventuring party.

The Book of Exalted Darkness addresses all the problems with an evil campaign and wraps it up with a neat little bow for you.

I had given up on evil campaigns but with the Book of Exalted Darkness I feel like it’s time to tie some more maidens to the railroad tracks. Every problem that I’d encountered in our evil endeavors of the past have been smoothed out by this book.

The first problem was usually a matter of setting and threat. Your average campaign can often be boiled down to an essentially neutral world threatened by some oncoming threat either on a small scale, or up to a world ending one. In many evil campaigns this is still somehow true, your party still needs to save the world, just for evil reasons. Just how am I supposed to eat my orphans in peace while all this end of the world nonsense is going on? The setting presented in the Book of Exalted Darkness takes care of this swimmingly. The world in the Book of Exalted Darkness is painfully and oppressively good and presents many prominent magical restraints and enforcements of “goodness” that the party can seek to overturn. The status quo is the goodness in the world and is riddled with tinges of hypocrisy and tyranny (such as the secretly undead paladins and a virus that turns rapists into werewolves), that just gives you that wonderful manic fulfilment when demolished. This allows the party’s resistance to the status quo to be the conflict that can drive a plot forward.

The second problem with an evil campaign is usually motivation. In 5th edition as in most editions, there really isn’t an incentive for most evil acts. Yes, you can go burn down the orphanage and slowly pull out the hero’s spleen, but what’s the point? Beyond the roleplaying experience there wasn’t much to gain. In the Book of Exalted Darkness you can literally make a kickass magic item out of those useless orphans, and a whole section of horrific medical experiments to perform on those unfortunate enough to be on your operating table. Heck, there’s a whole section about painfully dissecting and eating what are clearly legally distinct smurfs™. This book lets you become mad scientists, twisted mutant abominations and cannibalistic casters, not just as roleplaying but as detailed class options that entice you to play them and revel in their evil deeds. On that note I should warn you, this book is dark. It can be played off as mustache twirling Saturday morning villain fun, but a lot of it goes into very bloody detail for the more deranged among us, we know who we are.
Fundamentally, the Book of Exalted Darkness is full of classes, archetypes, spells and features that make you want to play an evil character. After reading it I already had a dozen ideas for characters I wanted to play and that’s the highest praise I can possibly give.

The third problem was party cohesion. My mad scientist really doesn’t have an inherent reason to get along with Gromak the baby eater. The Book of Exalted Darkness gives you plenty of plot reasons to stick together. Such as the oppressive goody-two-shoes authority breathing down your necks, the anarchic goals of their destruction and mysterious evil benefactors and agents that can bind you to one another. But it also gives you mechanical reasons to help each other’s actual evil plots, an element that always seemed missing from our previous evil campaigns. Helping your cultist friend catch the innocents needed to perform a ritual to benefit you all, helping the mad scientist get the fleshy components needed to graft you a new tentacle arm. The wealth of actual mechanical reasons to pursue these evil schemes and cooperate for mutual fiendish benefits helps your dastardly team stick together.

Being critical for a moment, some of the art feels very stock but that’s understandable as the book is massive, weighing in at over 400 pages. My strongest issue with the book was just a formatting issue, it does a white with black text when describing the good in the world and black with white text covering the evil. It’s neat but the black with white text hurt my eyes after a while and I found myself closing it up just to rest my eyes.

Even if you aren’t planning on running an evil campaign you should still give the Book of Exalted Darkness a read. It’s full of concepts and sections that I’ve already stolen and started implementing in my existing campaigns. The vehicle section was a welcome surprise with a detailed and comprehensive system to use everything including motorcycles and jetpacks. The madness system is wonderfully twisted, and the plethora of poisons perked my interest and have already sizzled their way into the veins of some of my players. Great monsters and NPCs, evil spells and feats, even two full short campaigns at the end. There’s a lot here to work with. Have fun with this book, I know my playgroup will be cackling maniacally for quite some time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Exalted Darkness (5E)
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Asian Spell Compendium
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:49:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive collection of spells clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 1 + 2/3 of a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 1/3 pages of content – as always in LG-books, we get a ton of content per page, so the pdf actually contains more material than you’d assume from the page-count.

Now, we begin with functionality – to be more precise, we begin with a means of making the book much more user-friendly: We not only get a list of alphabetical spell names, we also get a list of spells by class, organized by ascending levels in the respective class entry. Even cooler: We get a third spell list that depicts spells by school and descriptor. Need a language-dependent spell? Just look it up. That is a HUGE plus as far as I’m concerned. It significantly increases the chances of spells herein actually seeing use.

Ahem, now, theme-wise, this book is part of the series of pdfs intended for use with Jade Regent or similarly-themed settings and as such follows an aesthetic that is in line with WuXia movies and mediums, though a couple of the options herein should work as well in more low-key environments like Rite Publishing’s Kaidan setting. There are a total of 110 spells herein.

All right, so let’s take a look at these spells, shall? Ancestral wrath would be a 2nd level necromancy that calls an ancestral spirit that streaks towards a target in close range, hitting automatically and dealing untyped damage (boo!) that scales up to 5d6 for living beings, up to 10d6 for undead. It deals full damage versus incorporeal targets and an undead target damaged that fails its save is shaken for 1 round. Okay, so Fortitude partial – does that mean that only undead need to save and that the save negates only the condition? I assume so, but the spell could be slightly clearer there. Does this spell sound familiar to you by any means? Well, there is a reason for that! If you’re like me and really adored the Rokugan setting and Oriental Adventures in its various iterations, you’ll meet some old favorites here, updated and for the most part, streamlined. Considering e.g. Rokugan’s mechanics regarding jade, etc., the spells are more than just cut-copy paste with new classes thrown in – to use this example spell, we have it available for classes where it makes sense – spiritualist, medium, shaman, witch, cleric and occultist. It may be a small thing, but I’m a big fan of keeping the themes of classes consistent, so that aspect is a definite plus for me. (As an aside: The 3.X books never properly covered all the different, cool katas in d20-games…would love to see those. But I digress.)

Since this book contains a staggering amount of spells, I will not go into the details of each and every spell within, instead focusing on the greater picture and attempting to give you an overview, all right? Right! While we’re on the subject of death, often less permanent in the mythology than we’d assume, awakened from death represents narrative gold: The target awakens from death temporarily, feebleminded and with hazy memories. An undead was walking down the road, not knowing why…and yes, this would fit it pitch-perfectly with Kaidan.

A low-level means of generating an enemy-only targeting shaken effect via an illusory mask, an army of unseen servants to cater to your every need – I can see the spells herein work formidably in settings like Jade Oath and beyond. Interesting: There is a spell that makes partially wooden weapons turn around to attack their wielders. Fully metal weapons are not affected. Why? Well, think about the modified elements assumed in such settings and it makes sense. It’s a small component, but it adds to my immersion here. A blackblade katana bestows temporary negative levels and yields the wielder temporary hit points; the dark nature of blood magic as a form of spellcasting can also be found in e.g. the bleeding fire spell, which nets a magic missile like fire-based effect with higher damage output, chance to set targets ablaze, etc. – and yes, it makes sense at the level of the spell.

The classic blessed jade strike makes a return. There also are mechanically really interesting spells here – take focusing/centering form: These two spells can be cast as a swift action and interact with another spell being cast, enhancing concentration as it is cast or wholly allowing the caster to make the unconscious mind take care of the concentration required to maintain the spell in question. There is a high-level spell to conjure forth a cloud barge or a resplendent cloud of fog of light that dazzles targets and really hampers any creature not used to its light.

Now, some may remember cobra spit – it’s a 10-ft. cone that causes 1d3 Con-damage on a failed Fort-save, additionally dazzling targets and blinding them on a natural 1. I took this relatively simple spell to highlight how it makes sense: The ability score damage is sensible for the 2nd-level spell; the classes that get it are druid, alchemist and witch and it has the proper descriptors, classifying it as poison. In short, it gets all those small details right that you’re liable to miss when doing conversions yourself. Did I mention the 9th-level Colossus that grows you to a MINIMUM of Colossal size? Yes, you can attempt to fist-fight that kaiju….but oddly, the end of the spell mentions you “shrink”ing – that should be “grow.” I assume that’ s due to the wording being partially copied from the reverse version, greater diminution. (As an aside: Everyman Gaming’s Microsized Adventures really helps with dealing with massive size-changes.)

Speaking of high-levels: Clerics with access to 8th level spells can force permanent alignment changes on targets that fail their save versus compulsory conversion. There is also an interesting fire-based high-level spell that uses a save and a HD-cap, but can yield what otherwise only death effects can provide: Save or die. It’s 9th level and takes a full round to cast, though, making sure that its use remains limited to a degree.

The pdf also includes variations of spiritual weapon with a stacking, capped misfortune-curse added, dancing weaponry and a rather helpful spell that allows you to analyze the nature of a curse currently affecting a target. I am not the biggest fan of doubled range increments for ranged weaponry, but how could I not like a cloud of fireflies that renders targets drowsy? An old favorite of mine has also been recovered and converted – fault line causes bludgeoning damage (properly codified) and also acts as a light terrain control spell with its difficult terrain creation. Cool: Ghostly glow represents an eerie variant of dancing lights that interacts with Horror Adventures’ spooked condition. (And yes, once more, perfect fit for Kaidan…)

Glory of the Chrysanthemum Throne may be one of the coolest high-level spells within: It creates innumerable, daylight-shedding ghostly flowers that detonate upon contact with evil creatures, while also providing a miss chance. Oh, and you can designate a rightful person to sit on the thronw who gains a really brutal buff. Amazing 9th-level spell.

Inscribed enemy is interesting: You designate a target and enchant a weapon (NOT ammo!) – the weapon’s first hit versus the target is treated as though executed by a +1 bane weapon. I also loved the visuals of jade prison, which slowly encases evil in a jade statue. I also enjoyed how a couple of the spells herein have been designated as koans, which adds a bit of flavor to their effects. The codification of magnetic ray was also something I rather enjoyed seeing here. Ridiculously funny: Marvelous chopsticks. Think of them as a Bigby/Hand-spell variant that deposits targets in extradimensional spaces, where they are chewed. On the low-level end of the spectrum, I loved meltwater or the nonlethal enforcing merciful mandate. What about making a ladder from smoke?

Fans of rokugan’s shugenja will certainly appreciate the return of phoenix wings. Punji pits make for nice terrain control and a mist that can clean up harmful vapors is a long overdue spell-based counter method for the vile miasmas. Remove fatigue is a spell I see with a degree of skepticism, since it explicitly suppresses further instances of fatigue incurred, which allows for rage cycling etc., banning the spell at my table. Seize the Heart, on the other hand, looks OP at first, but isn’t: The spell can instantly kill a target on a failed save, which, at spell level 3 or 4, is nasty – however, a HD-cap helps keep it in line and instead makes it a great mook-sweeper. What about making scarves lethal…and potentially decapitating targets with them? Yeah, thought you’d enjoy that! And yes, there is a tengu fighting fan that not only nets you an item – you can decrease the remaining duration for special combat tricks. I love this type of versatile design.

Snake arrows do pretty much what they say on the tin, and I probably will not need to explain either Terra Cotta Legion or Lions, right? Quite a few of the spells within interact with spirits and the spirit world, which is nice to see, as it better reflects the realities of most Asian settings. Sublime detachment is a great form of almost-enlightenment high-level means of fortifying against emotions, but also prevents morale bonuses. What about transforming items into origami? Yeah, players will really like that happening to their blades…MUAHAHA. Sorry. Had a bit of a moment there.

It should be noted that the pdf provides an optional rule to make identification of these spells harder when encountered outside of their usual cultural context.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level herein, though not as perfect as in many LG-books. Layout adheres to the nice 2-column full-color standard that the Jade Regent plug-ins employ. The pdf comes with bookmarks for the chapters, but not for the individual spells or at least beginning letters – it could be slightly more comfortable here.

Jason Nelson delivers a love-letter to oriental Adventures here, with a massive selection of unique and colorful spells that breathe the spirit of WuXia. Their mechanical representations are rather nice, and I’d allow the vast majority of them in my game. While I don’t get how a glaring oversight like remove fatigue could happen, the vast majority of the book is precise, concise and interesting. The book provides a rather impressive array of complex spells, many of which sport neat visuals, mechanic, or both. In short, this is a good collection of spells, one well worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and though I do feel that this one is closer to the 4 and 5 stars due to the heavy quoting of Oriental Adventures, as a reviewer, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy and hence will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Spell Compendium
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Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2018 15:31:56

Having bought the printed version of ‘Mythic Magic: Horror Spells’, I personally attribute this installment with the maximum 5 stars. Comparing the price of this product with the amount of actual pages of content (18 pages out of 26 pages) one gets, the usefulness of the content (both toward players as well toward GM’s), the editing and formatting quality, the beautiful colored artwork, the quality of the paper on which this installment is printed, the nice table of contents overview, …, it is definitely worth its maximum stars.

This particular installment contains 69 mythic spells with crystal clear spell descriptions, a must have for any horror campaign lover.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
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Mythic Monsters #46: Japan
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/02/2018 06:14:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games‘ Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as always, we begin this supplement with new supplemental content – and this time around, that content comes in the guide of 5 new magic items, the first of which would be the mighty crane kimono, which nets the wearer Crane Style while unencumbered and in light armor and also bestows good fortune, which particularly shows when rolling an advantage-like roll, i.e. twice and taking the better result. Really cool: The kimono also protects from the ravages of time, rendering mythic wearers even immortal! Cool: We can use mythic power to render spells merciful or apply Touch of Serenity to attacks. I can see the kimono’s cranes being released. Evocative one. The second item would be a representation of the classic oni mask, here envisioned as allowing wearers to grow in size and gain oni-like defensive traits, which may be further enhanced via mythic power expenditure. Additionally, the mask can be thrown into the air to grow, pummeling a designated foe as forceful hand, representing a classic visual. Wearers can also fire rays and mythic wearers get passive bonuses. Cool take on the trope!

Less costly would be the princess peony, which can create a spectral bodyguard of sorts. The rokurokubi whip can have its tail transform into the head of the dreaded creature, which can also transmit caster croak! Mythic wearers can also wield it as a scarf, granting sustenance, the option to become a pseudo-rokurokubi etc. – amazing weapon! The tombo fan, finally, enhances bardic performance while acting as a magical fighting fan, while mythic wielders can begin to fly while maintaining performances with the fan. Nice one!

Now, what about the monsters? Well, at Cr 3/MR 1, we have the Pipefox, whose mythic incarnation is a true font of knowledge and who may, 1/day stun targets with a revelation. Fun one.! At the same CR/MR, kappa can thankfully now turtle up in their significantly stronger shells. I was also happy to see the water gourd represented in a proper ability here. Well done. At 1 CR higher, the Kawa Akago can break of their fangs in targets now, and they also get a luring, mournful cry – which is delightfully twisted.

From here, we move to the classic tanuki, here as CR 5/MR 2. The Tanuki gets its choice of a limited array of feats each round, to represent drunken master-style unpredictability, and yes, the classic flame breath as well as pilfering hand 3/day while in raccoon form. The Kirin’s mythic version clocks in at CR 8/MR 3 and is unfettered by boundaries – freedom of movement. They can use mythic power for quickened cure spells and get smite evil. They can also add a mythic power-based detonation to their new signature ability, which is a corona of purifying flames that harm neutral and evil creatures. (Kudos: Half fire/half untyped properly codified.)

At CR 10/MR 4, we have two creatures, the first of which would be the ogre mage, who gains a disease to afflict targets with as well as more natural weaponry to represent the maneater aspect. Oh, and they may use mythic power to increase spell DCs and enter a specialized rage. The second creature herein at this power-level would be the ice-maiden, the Yuki-onna can now bull rush in spite of being incorporeal and gets the trick to send magic flying back to casters. Nice! While we’re on the subject of deathly pale beauties: The Harionago clocks in at CR 13/MR 5 and does finally justice to the myth: DR-penetrating barbs in the hair, a nasty shriek (did I hear banshee?)…really cool. My favorite ability, though, would be a representation of her not handling rejection well: When someone resists her tricks, she takes Wisdom damage, but also gains a buff. This rewards smart players and has the plot-angle practically baked in. Kudos! Japanese legends sport some of my favorite woman-monsters, and the spider-hybrid Jorogumo, at CR 15/MR 6 is also included, and of boy is she cool: Webs laced with intoxicants and aphrodisiacs; enhancing spiders with breath weapons, implanting eggs, quick wrapping of targets – pure amazing!

At 1 CR more, the mythic Gashadokuro can fire skulls that latch onto victims and gnaw them to bits; they are nigh-unstoppable when faced by those suffering from starvation and they get a demoralizing roar and enhance the starvation aura to apply feast of ashes via successful attacks. At CR 21/MR 8, we have the Bakekujira, who can unleash mythic contagion, can Awesome Blow via tail slaps and gets fast healing 10 – but only in water…or, well. It can get half fast healing for a limited time for mythic power. Mythic power may also be used to attempt to affect creatures that saved via levathan’s call. They have bane versus ANY creature that killed an aquatic animal and those killed by their smashing breach rise as savage draugr! Have I mentioned the undead parasites? Oh yes. At the same lofty CR/MR, we get the mythic shinigami. These can crush soul gems quicker and gain cumulative bonuses when focusing on a target – death, alas, is inevitable, as they say. Similarly, escaping from one may see the mortal cursed with an escalating, devastating curse and their presence makes death effects bypass SR automatically. OUCH. And yes, their scythe can’t be disarmed…oh, and you DON’T want to be critted by them. If the damage doesn’t kill them, DC 37 save or die should make even mythic characters gulp for a second when facing these legends.

What’s the new creature, you asked? Well, none other than perhaps the most famous, legendary beast from Japanese myth. We’ve fought it in Nioh, in okami, we’ve read about it in Catherynne M. Valente’s Grass-Cutting Sword – represented in a ton of different media, we get the epic, eight-headed Yamata-No-Orochi, at CR 30/MR 10. Full attacks with charges. Beheading bites. 8 different breath weapons. Oh, it can INFLICT BURN. It has independent minds and control of which one is affected. It can intercept attacks by foregoing attacks or breath weapons. Oh, and it can, obviously, regenerate heads. Its jumps generate tsunamis/earthquakes…and it is a relentless sake-addict. Which may well be the only reliable way to survive seeing this glorious legend. Seriously, do the DPR-calculations for a smartly-played Yamato-No-Orochi. No matter how amazing the mythic high-level PCs are, they will fear this beast!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artists Tim Kings-Lynne, Mike Lowe and Tanyaporn Sangsnit did a glorious job with the artworks – the cover artwork in particular is PHENOMENAL. As in, one of my all-time favorite cover-artworks.

Jason Nelson, Loren Sieg and Mike Welham provide a homerun here – every single iteration of these mythic upgrades is suffused in mythology, sports amazing abilities, and blows its regular version out of the water – not only in power, but in how they try to represent the associated concepts. This is one of the best installments in the whole series, at least for me. It oozes flair and panache in every critter and the depiction of the legendary 8-headed snake as a new campaign-endboss-level super-beast adds icing on a cake made of awesome. 5 stars +seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

(As an aside, if you’re playing in Kaidan and are looking for some really tough bosses…there you go!)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #46: Japan
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Ultimate Factions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2018 04:33:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction/how to use, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content. It should be noted, though, that much like in every LG-book, these pages are chock-full with text and information – we get a ton of content in these pages.

So, what did I complain about regarding kingdom building? What did people really want to see there? What’s a big weakness of the base kingdom building system, even after LG’s massive and glorious expansions like Ultimate Rulership? Well, it represents kingdoms as cohesive entities, when both in fiction and reality, they never behaved as such. The vizier wants to be caliph instead of the caliph, religious cults and mage guild vie for control, and the noble families are plotting.

Now, I am perfectly capable of plotting complex machinations of a ton of factions in the background of the campaign, seeing the information in tiny nuggets. My players like piecing together complex happenings – but what happens when a large group of NPCs in a kingdom-building game exerts its influence, either under the control of PCs or in opposition to them? In the more abstract kingdom-building, seeding hooks and the like becomes tougher. Enter this supplement.

As an aside, this also acts as a bridge of sorts between regular and kingdom-building gameplay: The PCs could e.g. begin using the rules for large organizations in kingdom building as well as Ultimate Intrigue’s organization influence rules to influence organizations, via them kingdoms…and perhaps actually become caliphs instead of the caliph. (Kudos if you got that reference, btw.) This allows for a more organic playstyle – from rags to leaders, to kings, this book allows for a linear progression and acts as a synthesis between Ultimate Intrigue and Campaign.

Okay, so how do factions behave? First thing you’ll notice is that factions actually get tangible benefits from their alignment: Lawful factions get +2 resources, chaotic ones +2 power, good ones get +2 reputation and evil factions +2 to power. Neutral factions get +1 to reputation and power, while true neutral factions get this bonus, obviously, twice. If the combined size of a kingdom’s factions exceeds 10 times the kingdom’s size, it’ll get +1 unrest during upkeep’s Step 4. Goals designate the faction’s endgame; operation denotes the means by which the organization seeks to achieve its goal.

Power, Reputation and Resources are pretty self-explanatory and constitute the attributes of the organization. A point of size roughly represents 25 members, and in a cool twist, we get Ultimate Rulership-synergy here. If the members are dissatisfied with the faction’s leadership, then this leads to tension, which translates to a scaling penalty to faction checks. Factions may have types and measure their wealth in Wealth Points (WP), each of which is worth approximately 400 gp, or 1 BP in kingdom building. WP may be purchased during the income phase.

In order to create a faction, you first calculate its size. They begin with a size of 0, and buildings in the kingdom increase the maximum initial size. A MASSIVE table of a detailed building-list provides an easy 1-page-stop-reference for the sizes, and, once more also covers Ultimate Rulership’s buildings. Factions may start as a smaller size than maximum, should they choose to do so. This table also the 9 types of factions – for example, an academic faction obviously benefits from an academy, while a military or religious one does not. These 9 types, just fyi, each convey a total of +2 to the faction’s attributes, though obviously, some of them split the +2 bonus between two attributes.

As an aside: The engine allows, as presented here, for pretty easy changes of faction type: Wanted to subvert those religious fanatics via wit? Change the type of the faction. Looking for a representation of growing fanaticism and radical thinkers, or an increasing enlightenment? Type-changes can provide an easy means to write a new chapter of your faction’s history. After the type, you determine the secrecy of the faction –a faction may be open, covert or disguised. After codifying different basic types of possible goals, we take a look at the scale of the goal, which obviously may range from local to encompassing the whole kingdom. Note that public and covert goals may be different from another! Goals have a basic DC 15 to achieve, with aims, scale and privacy determining the DC-modifier to achieve a goal.

So that’s the base engine for the faction. From here, we proceed to take a look at the faction turn. A faction turn takes place during the kingdom turn sequence, after the Edict phase. Results of the faction turn should take place before the start of the Income phase. All factions perform each faction phase before moving on to the next phase. Power acts as an initiative of sorts for factions, and on a tie, the smaller faction goes first.

First, we have the upkeep phase – here, we check tension. If tensions become particularly bad, we may well see a splintering of factions here! After that, we pay upkeep costs.

After that, we move on to the operations phase: Here, factions may act, with their sizes governing how many operations can be initiated. Operations happen in a contiguous sequence, not parallel: First OP #1, then OP #2, etc. The sequence may be freely chosen. Here, gp can be converted to WP and income is determined. Operations are classified in two categories – active and maintenance. These include advancing a goal, abandoning one, aiding factions, earning wealth, pursuing alliances, engaging in faction conflict, recruitment…you get the idea. These interact in meaningful ways with the kingdom building rules.

Now, I mentioned splintering factions before, and this indeed is a part where the intrigue component comes into play – you see, the pdf provides the tool to treat factions as organizations and vice versa, allowing you to switch between them with relative ease. This makes it very much possible for individual characters to matter and provides an uninterrupted line of player agenda from the personal to the kingdom level, which, to me, represents a HUGE selling point. This is also relevant, obviously, for the easy to grasp splintering rules. If you already have a kingdom in play, fret not – the book contains rules for creating actions for existing kingdoms.

Now, if we assume factions and PCs as a constant line of sorts, it should become obvious that PCs will sooner or later want to use skills in the context of factions, right? Well, the pdf provides concise rules there as well.

Does that all sound too complex for you? Fret not! Simple faction rules included. Now, the pdf is not content in just providing an unbroken line from intrigue to Campaign – it actually ALSO provides the means to use the downtime rules in context with factions! Yes, this is purely optional, but oh boy did I smile here. Of course, kingdoms may attempt to support or suppress a faction and, as noted, the faction/intrigue rules, are presented in a concise manner: The process covers approximately a page and is tight and was understandable on my first read-through. Considering the systems in question, that is quite an achievement.

Now, the book is content with just providing you with tools – it proceeds to elaborate on why factions matter and how you can use them in play – and, if you’re a lazy fellow like yours truly, you’ll certainly appreciate the 6 generic sample factions that allow you to throw factions into play without much hassle. The pdf concludes with a handy table-index.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no glitches on a forma or rules-language level. Layout adheres to legendary Games’ nice two-column full-color standard. The artworks are in full-color and nice, though fans of Legendary Games will be familiar with all but one of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

WTF has just happened here? This is, to my knowledge, Ben Walklate’s FIRST RPG-supplement. As in: Freshman offering. At least I couldn’t find any previous rulebook. This pdf has no business being so darn impressive! I expected that this book would be good; after all, Legendary Games would not jeopardize the reputation of their phenomenal kingdom-building supplements.

Still, I did not expect this little book to actually succeed in such an impressive manner in a task that can well be deemed a squaring of the circle of sorts: We have a seamless progression from character to faction/organization to kingdom-building level, providing not only perfect synergy between Ultimate Intrigue and Campaign, but also with the must-own Ultimate Rulership. This is baffling. I mean it. The systems presented are organic, precise and, best of all, remain easy and painless to sue and integrate. Indeed, the rules presented herein sport an almost effortless elegance that, from a design-perspective, is a true achievement.

This book is a missing link of sorts; whether you take the analogue of Conan (Solitary PC -> faction -> king) or just kingdom-spanning intrigues that oscillate between the different levels, this book delivers; with transparency and much-needed interactions between the different levels, this represents an absolute masterpiece that allows you to tell a whole cosmos of new stories. There are very few book that attain this level of game-enhancing characteristics, much less in such a tight manner. Ultimate factions is a masterstroke and the single most impressive freshman offering I have read in a long, long while. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this qualifies as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017. This is a must-have offering and should be considered to be an EZG-Essential for any games that want to blend intrigue and kingdom-building. This is a true masterpiece. Get it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Factions
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Legendary Hybrids: Yakuza
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/19/2018 04:57:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Hybrid Class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, which, as always for Legendary Games, are chock-full with text – so yeah, there’s more content herein that the page-count might lead you to believe,

All right, so the yakuza is a hybrid of the unchained monk…Wait. It’s NOT? WTF? So yeah, the yakuza’s parent classes are actually something completely different: Cavalier and ninja. I know, right?

So, the yakuza gets ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and d8 HD as well as 6 + Int skills per level. Proficiency-wise, we get proficiency with simple weapons, kama, katana, kusarigama (HECK YEAH!), kyoketsu shoge, nunchaku, sai, shortbow, short sword, shuriken, siangham and wakizashi as well as light armor, but not shields. The class begins play with a teamwork feat, for which he must meet the prerequisites. As a standard action, the yakuza can grant this feat to all allies within 30 ft that can see and hear the yakuza. This feat is retained for 3 rounds + 1 round for every 2 class levels the yakuza possesses. These allies don’t have to meet the prerequisites. This ability may be used 1/day, + an additional time per day at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter and is treated as the tactician class feature for the purpose of prerequisites and archetypes, etc. Additionally, all members of the yakuza gang are treated as having the teamwork feat for the purpose of determining bonuses granted by the yakuza’s teamwork feats. 9th level and 18th level provide more choices here regarding feats and improve action economy and allow for the sharing, in the latter case, of more teamwork feats at once.

Now, pretty cool: The Yakuza begins play with a contact and gains an additional one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. They also get +2 to Diplomacy to procure services from contacts. If the contact is part of the same yakuza gang, the Trust level will be increased by 1. However, violating the tenets of the gang will result in a general reduction of Trust level by 1, by 2 for members of the respective gang. Gang? Yep, the equivalent of the cavalier’s orders is chosen at 1st level. Adherence to a gang’s ideals and what constitutes a violation thereof is within the realms of GM interpretation and changing gangs first strips you of the former gang’s abilities and requires a process of re-dedication.

The pdf provides a total of 5 such sample gangs. Each gang modifies the character by granting a boost to sneak attack and skills at first level; the skill boosts provide their benefit to one use of a given skill, like e.g. influencing a creature’s attitude. Formula-wise, the bonuses granted are +1/3 class level, minimum +1. Beyond those, 2nd, 8th and 15th level provide gang abilities. What do the gangs do? The black rain gang grants a +2 bonus to atk versus foes that are unaware of the presence of the character (or consider him an ally) when sneak attacking; 2nd level is treated as having concealment versus such targets and 8th level allows for a Cha-governed, supernatural, ki-powered suggestion. 15th level allows for the maximizing of sneak attack damage when attacking unaware or friendly targets.

The blood tong gains a +2 bonus versus foes that damaged him; skill-boost is applied to brokering a deal. The 2nd level ability nets a bonus versus targets that broke an oath with the yakuza or the blood tong. 8th level nets the option to use ki to make a deal a blood pact, which bestows a curse upon those that dare break it. The 15th level option allows the yakuza to shift obligations of blood oaths to other characters and treats the blood oath as geas/quest. The dragon lords chooses a ranger’s favored enemy and applies a +2 atk to sneak attacks versus that type. Skill-boost-wise, we get the bonus to Bluff non-dragon lord yakuza. 2nd level allows for aid another as a swift action and 8th level has something cool: 1/day when using aid another, the aided character also gets a move action. This may be used an additional time at 12th level and every 4 levels thereafter, 15th level allows for the expenditure of two uses of this ability to grant a standard action.

The Jade Triad gets the sneak boost versus demoralized foes, the skill boost to demoralize targets. 2nd level allows for swift action demoralizing when hitting a target with a sneak attack. 8th level upgrades demoralization to cause the target to be frightened 1/day. For ki expenditure, he may even bypass fear immunity. 12th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield another daily use. The 15th level ability allows for sneak attack damage dice rerolls versus demoralized targets: All that come up as 1 may be rerolled once. For 1 ki expenditure, the dice that come up as 1s and 2s may be rerolled, and they may be rerolled until they all come up as 3+. Finally, the white tigers gain their sneak boost versus targets threatened by more allies and apply their skill boost to shift attitudes of friends and foes via Diplomacy. 2nd level provides a 5-ft.-speed reduction (I assume, all movement rates are affected) accompanying sneak attack, for Cha-mod rounds, min 1. 8th and 16th level increase that speed reduction by 5 ft., respectively. 8th level provides the ability to expend a point of ki when successfully sneak attacking a target; if the yakuza does, the target may not use withdraw or 5-ft-steps for Cha-mod rounds, min 1. The 15th level ability allows for the expenditure of ki when damaging a foe with sneak attack, setting their speed to 0 and inflicting the staggered condition on a failed Ref-save. Minor complaint here – no save DC is given. While it is pretty obvious that the DC should be 10 + ½ class level + Cha-mod, analogue to other gang abilities, that can be a bit confusing at first.

2nd level nets a ki pool equal to ½ class level + Cha-mod. This nets them two hadou techniques: By spending 1 ki point, the yakuza can grant himself a +1d6 bonus on a skill check or save, or to atk versus a target who is denied Dex-mod to AC or flanked. Additionally, for spending one ki, the yakuza can grant himself an additional 5-foot-step of a +20 ft. speed enhancement for 1 round. Finally, 1 ki may be spent to grant the yakuza the option to open/close a door or draw/sheathe a weapon when using Sleight of Hand to conceal. These are activated as a swift action. Minor complaint: The save boost probably should have been activated as an immediate action instead; otherwise, it’s pretty useless. Cool: The ability covers interaction with other ki-based classes. 2nd level also yields sneak attack, which increases in die-pool-size by +1d6 every 3 levels after 2nd.

At 3rd level, the yakuza gains no trace who not only provide a bonus to Disguise and opposed Stealth checks, it also makes tracking them, particularly if they lay low, increasingly harder. This level also nets home turf, , which means that he treats all urban terrain as favored terrain, gaining Knowledge (local) instead of Knowledge (geography), boost-wise. The bonus begins at +2 and improved by +2 every 5 levels thereafter. Cool: The yakuza is not automatically familiar with a new city – it takes a bit of studying, represented rather well in the engine. He may only have one home turf, though. Even cooler: The bonus actually is not simply passive: The yakuza actually may use ki in such familiar terrains to increase his AC and is not impeded by crowds! REALLY cool representation of the concept.

4th level yields uncanny dodge and 7th level, improved uncanny dodge. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield a ninja trick, with 12th level unlocking master tricks. At 5th level, the yakuza gains the right to wear the elaborate tattoos that we associate with the concept. These provide a +1 moral bonus to saves versus fear effects for all allies within 30 ft., which increases to +2 for gang members and further scales up by +1 every 5 levels thereafter. Additionally, the yakuza gains Dazzling Display, with a +2 to Intimidate versus targets that can see his tattoos. This bonus similarly scales. 6th level nets Black marketer, which nets Black Market Dealings as a bonus feat. Any team lead by the yakuza gets +2 to all Cha-based social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate) related to black markets. 10th level yields uncanny flanker, treating class level as 4 higher for the purpose of determining flanking capabilities regarding improved uncanny dodge. Additionally, the yakuza may spend 1 point of ki as a swift action to determine any adjacent square as her position for setting up flanking positions. COOL!

At 11th level, we get druglord, basically providing poison use and gets +1/2 class level to Craft checks to make drugs and poisons as well as +4 to saves to resist poison, drugs and alcohol, including recovery from intoxication or addiction. Knowingly ingesting a poison, the yakuza can delay the onset of its effects via ki expenditure. “Sure, this wine is totally not laced with black lotus. See, I’ll take the first sip…” Damn cool. Additionally, via ki, the yakuza can combine poisons and drugs, though such combined materials are short-lived, preventing the creation of ridiculous mega-drugs/poisons. Well done.

At 13th level, gambler nets the option to spend ki to roll twice when gambling (or guessing riddles). Also, whenever the yakuza rolls a natural 1, he can expend 1 ki for a reroll with +1d6 luck bonus – but if the reroll is still a failure, he takes -1 to all d20-rolls and can’t use the ability for 1 minute. Nice one. 19th level eliminates the autofail of atk, saves and some skill checks on a natural 1 and the capstone prevents dying from old age as well as providing immunity to death effects, diseases and poisons. Any accrued age-related penalties may be suppressed via ki expenditure. Cool one!

Now, I already mentioned one of the new feats herein, Black Market Dealings: This one nets +4 to Diplomacy to access it and eliminates the gp-cost to do so as well as the consequences for failing to the check by 10 or more. Additionally, and that is pretty damn cool, you can attempt to find merchants with deeper pockets by increasing the access DC, with a settlement’s crime modifier as a bonus. I really liked this and its concise rules. Mind Trick lets you select one Dex-based class skill, which may then be used as governed by Cha, ignoring armor check penalty for it. Additionally, when using aid another with the skill, you add Cha-mod to the boost granted, which can be brutal, but fits. Overflowing Ki makes you count as always having at least 1 ki for the purpose of abilities that require that you have at least 1 point. Additionally, you can meditate for 1 hour to regain 1 point of ki. The class also comes with favored class options for the core races as well as aasimar, catfolk, dhampir, drow, fetchling, goblin, hobgoblin, ifrit, kobold, orc, oread, ratfolk, sylph, tengu, tuefling and undine. In an uncharacteristic glitch, three favored class options lack their numerical values: Orc and half-orc deal “+ damage on sneak attacks”, which probably should be +1; goblins and humans get “+ of a ninja trick”, which probably should be 1/6, analogue to the rogue FCO.

A total of 8 different archetypes are included in the pdf: The Absent bansho replaces the teamwork sharing and contacts features with the vigilante’s dual identity and seamless guise; the teamwork sharing abilities are delayed to 5th and 13th level and yakuza-levels are treated as 4 lower for the purpose of these benefits. To make up for this, the gang abilities are replaces with a vigilante talent at 2nd, 8th and 15th level, assuming the stalker specialization. The flying tiger does not gain light armor proficiency and replaces the teamwork sharing with Improved Unarmed Strike and monk-like damage scaling. They also begin play with Tiger Style and get Tiger Claws at 4th, Tiger Pounce at 8th level, replacing the ninja tricks at these levels. Contacts are delayed to 6th level and are treated as -5 levels. Instead of 2nd level’s sneak attack, the character gains rain of star, +1 attack in a full-attack, +2 attacks at 11th level; for +1 ki, another attack may be added, though all such attacks must be executed with shuriken. Sneak attack is delayed to 4th level and gained at -2 yakuza levels and 3rd level yields slow fall and 6th level, high jump. Starting at 12th level, the character may choose style feats or monk bonus feats instead of ninja tricks. Instead of uncanny dodge, we get evasion at 4th level and 7th level nets swoop, which is really cool: As a sift or immediate action, you can spend 1 ki during a jump or fall to turn up to 90 degrees and move ½ slow fall distance in any direction, including up. Yes, it’s double-jumping/swooshing as seen in Wuxia-media, games like Devil May Cry, etc. Love it. Also: This movement has a dodge bonus to AC based on Cha associated with it...or you may forfeit the bonus, to end the changed movement with an unarmed strike.

At 10th level, this ability can be further enhanced and allows you to drag foes –love this part of the engine. 11th level nets improved evasion and 13th level nets flight for class level minutes per day, with the option to increase duration via ki-expenditure. And yes, sports proper interaction with the swooping ricks. A real winner here. Love this archetype.

The gun runner is proficient with all firearms, excluding siege engines and replaces contracts with Gunsmithing. 2nd level nets Amateur Gunslinger as a bonus feat, using ki as a grit-substitute. While he has at least 1 ki, he gains + Dex-mod to damage with firearms, capping, thankfully, at yakuza level, though. 2nd level increases reload speed by one step, stacking with Rapid Reload (note here – it would have been convenient to get the actions listed, but that is only the slightest comfort detriment); 8th level lets you spend a ki point to double the first range increment of a firearm wielded for Cha-mod rounds. I assume the action to be swift here, in line with other swift action ability uses, though the Su may point otherwise. Clarification would be neat here. 15th level upgrades this to also adding +Cha-mod damage, but only until the next round.

The junk pirate loses light armor proficiency and delays contacts gained to 6th level, treating his class level as 5 lower for it. However, they gain +2 to Sleight of Hand to conceal small objects, as well as to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Linguistics and Profession checks to come off as a regular businessman. At 3rd level, they can spend 1 ki to force targets to roll at basically disadvantage (taking the worse result) when opposing these skills with Perception or Sense Motive, with a Cha-governed Will-save to negate. No trace is replaces with scaling skill boosts to Swim as well as Climb and Acrobatics atop a ship and in aquatic terrain. Home turf is replaced with favored terrain (aquatic) and the ninja tricks are replaced with deep sea pirate tricks. 4th level nets a familiar at ½ level, which also helps prevent being flanked while in the vicinity. 7th level nets the option to cut sneak attack damage in half for a free reposition as well as the option to move to a square thus freed as a swift action, sans AoO and in addition to other movement, mind you. Instead of gambling, we get ki-based curses, which improve at 15th level.

The pack rat is only proficient with simple weapons and light armor and gets either Catch off-Guard or Throw Anything at first weapon. He replaces the gang-based ability with a scaling crazy-prepared ability – 100 gp per class level. While the ability has a maximum item value and weight caveat, it does not have a no-specific-items caveat, which is a somewhat annoying oversight. The archetype also is treated as +4 Str for the purpose of carrying capacity if he properly packs his stuff and gains +4 to Sleight of Hand to conceal small objects. 3rd level allows the character to attempt Profession untrained, as well as getting +1 to trained Craft and Profession checks. Also at 3rd level, we get the option to use ki to feint as a response to being attacked by a higher CR foe; on a success, the foe must save or deem the pack rat harmless, focusing on other targets. A target thus bluffed can be attacked by the packrat as though flat-footed for one round. Nice: The ability has a caveat to avoid spamming it or use the trick on those that witness it, with a hex-like cooldown. 4th level nets a pack animal animal companion or familiar. No trace is delayed to 6th level and 7th level nets the gang war teamwork sharing ability, but only pertaining the companion. 11th level lets the archetype use dirty tricks in conjunction with improvised weaponry or unarmed strikes versus targets that are denied Dex mod.

The serpent chemist loses proficiency with light armor and delays contacts to 6th level, but gains druglord at 1st level. 3rd level nets swift poisoner. The archetype gets poison-related tricks to choose from, including some SPs in conjunction with drugs/poison or select some alchemical extracts. 9th level has an Int-governed option to create more doses, with Master Alchemist synergy provided as well. 10th level nets DC increases based on sneak attack damage dice foregoing as well as ki-based swift action poisoning. 11th level nets the option to use ki to reroll saves versus alcohol, poison or drugs immediately, taking the better result, which may also, as a full-round action, be extended to an ally. Minor complaint: The ability has no range and it probably should – 30 ft. or adjacent. The ability also allows the chemist to mitigate ability score drain and damage an ally has suffered from such toxins. 13th level allows for super-fast toxin creation.

The tattooed one replaces contacts with better Intimidate versus non-yakuza, better Diplomacy for yakuza. Additionally, fear effect DCs are increased by 1- 2nd level allows the yakuza to use prestidigitation at-will via his magical tattoos and higher levels net ki-based illusions, with 10th level and higher unlocking shadow illusions. These are btw. considered to be parts of the gang. Sneak attack is delayed to 4th level and 3rd level allows the tattoos to dance to fascinate targets, with ki to power the ability and 8th and 13th level improving the action economy of the ability. 8th level allows for the use of ki to double the range. Instead of uncanny dodge, we get the option to shake off nauseated, sickened, fatigued and exhausted conditions on subsequent rounds or halve the duration of save-less conditions. The conditions to which this applies are expanded by dazed, frightened, shaken and stunned at 7th level. Instead of black marketeer, the archetype can mark targets with tattoos, duplicate some cantrips and use ki for tattoo-based unseen servants. 9th level provides more ki-powered SP-like tattoo-animation.

Finally, the triad enforcer gets Enforcer at 1st level and replaces home turf and no trace with a samurai’s resolve. Cool: They can use their own resolve or ki to break that of other creatures! They can also cause Wis-damage (save to negate) with demoralizations, but for a cost of ki. Gang war is delayed to 5th level and 6th level nets a bonus to Bluff and Intimidate. Cool: This one has honor point system synergy, taking only half the penalty for dishonorable actions. 7th level nets dirty fighting, which helps with improvised weapons and CMB-checks as well as allowing the character to forego critical bonus damage for debuff effects. 11th level lets you add, as a swift action, another attack when reducing a target to 0 hp, at +character level damage. 13th level nets fear immunity as wellas the option to spend ki to affect creatures usually immune to fear, but only if they are no more than one size larger than the enforcer.

Finally, the pdf sports a detailed and lavishly-illustrated sample NPC, Shinsuke Tatsu a CR 7 tattooed one yakuza, whose story ties in with the deadly NPC from Legendary Villains: Vigilantes. It should be noted that the name of the character’s lost lover is Yoshi, which usually denotes a male in Japanese. Personally, I applaud the integration of a well-rounded, gay badass here. It should be noted that the NPC comes with a full boon-write-up as well, ending the pdf on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good for the main class; the supplemental material sports a few more glitches in the details than usual for Legendary games, though – none of them are grievous, but they slightly tarnish this otherwise inspired book. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard. Weird: The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. The full-color artworks are a blend of artworks LG has used before and the new, cool class piece.

Okay, so first things first: I frickin’ LOVE Jason Nelson and N. Jolly’s Yakuza. This is a hybrid class done right. It plays differently from both of its parent classes; the abilities do an AMAZING job of reflecting the flavor of the yakuza and the tropes associated with them. The archetypes, even the engine-tweaks, are all meaningful modifications of the chassis and the abilities of the class manage to marry fluff and crunch in precise and flavorful ways. If only all hybrid classes were this good…

Now, the base class is great and expertly balanced – it should not provide issues in even low-powered, gritty games and I adore the vast majority of this pdf…but unfortunately, the minor hiccups here and there do need to be represented in some way in the final verdict. Hence, I will rate this as 5 stars, but omit my seal of approval. If the minor gripes I noted don’t faze you, then get this hybrid asap!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Hybrids: Yakuza
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