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Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
by Robert G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2015 13:51:52
This is a fantastic product with many great, unique cloaks to add to your game. I highly recommend it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
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Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/26/2015 06:36:50
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Fat Goblin Games' Call to Arms-series clocks in at a massive 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages of content so let's take a look!


Now this book, obviously, expands on the content of the Technology Guide, so I expect familiarity with that material in this review.


This supplement begins with a piece of adept prose and recap on the significant influence technology has had on the development of our very society and there is a reason for that: Before we can take a look at how technology works in game, we have to imho consider the implications of the addition of technology - namely why and how it found its way into a given game world. If you are like me and consider the internal consistency of a given game world to be of tantamount importance, you probably have sneered at quite a few explanations for the existence of technology in a given fantasy context - and thus, this book presents us with a plethora of options that explain the rise or prevalence of technology, including rationalizations for the potential of a limited prominence amid cultures. The intriguing component of these basic concepts that range from divine inspiration (see Zobeck's gear goddess) to the gifts of the precursors, would be that the respective rules by which technology operates in a fantastic context necessarily ought to change - and the results should not be ignored. If technology is, for example, granted by a divine mandate, it should come as no surprise that adversaries of the doctrine will have a more nature-bound, savage mindset - and vice versa. The inclusion of such ideas and adventure hooks renders this section a useful tool for most DMs who do not want to provide a static backdrop for technology that is relegated to a limited area.


Now here, things become pretty intriguing, at least to me: One of the basic and utterly jarring components of the basic Kingdom-building rules, even when supplemented by Legendary Games' superb expansions, would be the absence of a true means of properly advancing your kingdom. Sure, you can improve infrastructure etc., but you won't be able to create a bastion of enlightened scholars amid the savages, a kind of Neo-Atlantis/Azlant/Ankheshel. Indeed, the kingdom-building rules, by virtue of their origin, assume a medieval backdrop. If your campaign has a different scope, perhaps even spanning the lifetimes of multiple characters, then this will be a full-blown example in awesomeness: What am I talking about? Technology-levels for kingdom-building with concise definitions of which goods and buildings become available, which sciences are taught, etc. And yes, the respective technology tiers do sport rules-relevant benefits for the kingdoms that achieve them and bonuses for researching all technologies. I absolutely adore this chapter since, to me, it completely came out of left field - and yes, there is a huge array of new buildings to create, including android factories and orbital space stations. That's awesome. i mean, who wouldn't want to go all JLA on the bad guys? At the same time, there is one tiny component the system imho ought to have covered in a slightly different manner: Tier-advancement. As provided, the guidelines assume essentially a list of prerequisites that must be met regarding buildings and technology, but personally, I would have enjoyed a cost to upgrade once all the prerequisites are met - essentially a conscious push to move into the next age. It should be noted, however, that this very much represents a personal preference and thus does not negatively influence my verdict - plus, one can always include such an obstacle.


Okay, after this not only extremely useful, but also surprisingly inspired chapter, we finally move to what I thought this book was all about when I first laid eyes on it: Technological items. Though, once again, this claim just now would be ultimately just as reductive as my previous conception of what this contains. Let me elaborate: The very inclusion of the material plastic with concise stats is pretty much a "Why has no one done this before?" facepalm-moment - and I mean that in the most flattering way: With decreased weight and electricity resistance, plastic is an interesting material indeed. At the same time, though, it does receive vulnerability to fire, which results in a somewhat wonky interaction: Energy damage to objects is usually halved and ignores hardness - so am I correct in the assumption that this halving does not occur for fire damage? It would only make sense, but ultimately, this constitutes a pretty minor issue.


Beyond plastics, there is a further component that has galled me about the implementation of technology in most given rules-contexts: The assumption of total functionality vs. being broken - the totality of both conditions is a component, wherein not only the internal game world's consistency slightly suffers, but also a crucial deviation from the super-science/pulp/science-fantasy tropes the very rules are supposed to provide for. Ultimately, I can get behind class-specific technology that only works for one type of character the same way I can accept psionics and magic, but once you render this an item-class, this assumption fell away and the exclusivity-clause was removed. Enter this book.


The basic concept is absolutely iconic and genius and perfectly encapsulated in the term "augmentations" - these can be added to a given piece of equipment by characters sporting the Craft Technological Arms and Armor feat akin to how magic works, with a base price of magnitude squared times an amount of gold and magnitude also governing the Craft DC. Now annoyingly, formatting has botched in the bullet point-list that contains these rules - while not rendering the rules opaque in any way, the glitch is so obvious that even casual glimpses should have caught it. But I'll set that aside to talk about what can be done: From radioactive to monofilament enhancements in different degrees of efficiency, the augmentations are awesome and pretty much represent the fulfillment of my craving for orcs that tack barely understood chainsaws to their axes. And yes, I came to roleplaying games over Warhammer. From graviton hammers to chainsaw swords to plasma-axe muskets, the items herein, some of which receive lavish full-color artworks, uniformly deserve praise on a conceptual level. Interesting here would be that, while there are very minor hiccups here and there, the rules-language, traditionally not exactly the strongest forte of Fat Goblin Games, is up to a pretty high standard and supplements the logical consistency of the items provided - chain-blades, once activated, for example penalize Stealth heavily.


When technology becomes more relevant in warfare, it'll be only a matter of time before espionage and sabotage become a threat - and thus, the new cause for glitches gremlinite should be considered a further and potentially narratively rewarding addition to the glitch-rules. Beyond these, there is a pretty basic and wide-spread trope of certain items with an ingrained personality - whether it's a quantum processor-powered AI, a ghost in the shell or a HAL 9000 - AIs are inextricably linked to scifi and fantastic technology. Thus, the rules for actually creating AIs is simple - and the sample item "possessed" by this AI is also rather interesting. Now if that were not enough, what about adding a slew of mythic into the fray, providing new legendary item abilities that most certainly will see use by the Genius, Futurist and Stranger paths, should they feature in your game -what about e.g. overclocking beams to make them AoE? Yeah, ouch! What about an absolutely inspired and unwieldy artifact that can make a high-level dungeon indeed rather strategic? New vehicle propulsion options, from combustion engines to fusion?


The pdf closes with 4 feats that allow you to create Robots, scavenge parts of technological items for your crafting or make AIs. And there is a feat that lets you unarmed punch empty items to get one final charge out of them - thankfully with a cap to prevent abuse.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are a mixed bag - on the one hand, the rules-language is much more precise than I expected it to be, to the point where actually, I don't have any proper complaints that would truly detract from this book -so kudos to editor Lucus Palosaari! On the other hand, there are some obviously rushed glitches regarding formatting that annoyed me to no end -though it should be noted, that for most people out there, the amount of glitches will not be within annoyance parameters. The pdf does sport a beautiful 2-column full-color standard with quite a few nice, original full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though the bookmarks do sport a couple of wonderful names like"h.izabluogbq3a" before providing the proper (and correctly named) bookmarks - so yes, existent, but you should scroll down - and another example of the avoidable glitches that haunt this pdf.


When this landed on my pile to review, I was admittedly less than excited - Fat Goblin Games has a track record with me of having interesting concepts (and since John Bennett took the reins as line-developer, an actually great horror setting!), but issues with the finer rules-interactions. So analyzing a 40+ page book of rules was not exactly my definition of a good time. At this point, I wish to sincerely apologize for this obviously less than flattering preconception. Fat Goblin Games and author Garrett Guillotte have delivered a massive supplemental book that is so much better than I ever anticipated it would be. I expected a somewhat reductive and repetitive accumulation of Technological items herein - what I instead got can be considered the massive appendix for the Technology rules.


In some of my previous reviews pertaining subsystems generated by Paizo, I lamented the lack of synergy and further support for systems once established, while at the same time pointing out that this is pretty much where 3pps can take control and deliver. This book makes perfect use of this thesis - not only do we get some material for mythic fans, the kingdom-building component essentially provides the backdrop for campaigns to take a whole new scope: Instead of just focusing on one age or dynasty, one can utilize these to essentially make kingdom-building, Sid Meier's Civilization-edition. Indeed, a capable GM can just slot more tiers in between for a finer gradient between tiers and expand the concept further, allowing you to potentially tell stories of truly epic scope and breadth. If you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll note that this simple fact is something I value over almost anything else - beyond the mechanics of augmentations, the new items and AI-rules, it is the rules-framework to tell a *NEW* type of story that was previously not supported by a given system that ultimately makes me grin, makes me happy, makes me cherish a product.


And sometimes, I get lucky - first Alexander Augunas' Microsized Adventures, now this book - and two whole new inspiring ideas take form: When combining the two, you could conceivably play characters shrunken to enter an organism and fight diseases with their nanite "subjects" while kingdom-building the immune system. Yes, I'm actually going to run this for my group.


What I'm trying to say here is: This book ranks among the few truly inspired crunch book that manage to be innovative. At the same time, I do have a criticism of this book and that ultimately boils down to scope: Whether it's AIs, augmentations, tiers - I found myself ultimately wishing each of the cool components herein had seen more support and yes, I'd definitely would be very interested in a sequel - the ideas featured herein are so good, I actually would have loved to see them expanded beyond their page-count. Now for the amount of content provided, this is an inexpensive pdf and I wholeheartedly encourage you all to check this out - I don't mention books of the superb quality of Microsized Adventures lightly in the context of other books.


At the same time, though, the (kind of) professional reviewer has to grit his teeth and point out that this pdf is not perfect; it does have flaws and I wished the glitches I noted weren't there. If this were either more focused or longer or had no glitches, we'd have a definite candidate for my Top ten of 2015 here. It's that good. Alas, there are some hiccups in presentation and some concepts that could imho have benefited from more space to render them clearer. So no, I can't rate this the full 5 stars - I should probably round down. But know what? that would be a disservice to the book and ultimately, you, my readers. This book is inspiring and I always have and always will prefer innovation and inspiration over bland mechanical perfection - and here, this book delivers in spades. hence my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5, and yes, this book gets my seal of approval - it is simply too much fun, too inspired to be bogged down by the glitches, though the more nitpicky among you should remember that they're here and probably rather round down.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
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Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2015 09:45:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, in case you're not 100% sure - yes, this is an April's Fools product. And yes, I'm reviewing it in August. Sad, but better late than never, right? So this begins with a basic, humorous introduction of poles - both in the game worlds and in real life. Let me go on a slight tangent here: If you do not know 10-foot-poles, they are perhaps the source of more anecdotes and prevented PC-death in old-school gaming than any other item. They also are the punch-line of more dirty jokes than rods of lordly might - and in case you're new school and never got see their awesomeness in action, take a look at 2 pages of long (and surprisingly viable!) suggestions on how to use these poles and potentially prevent your character's death - you'll never want to leave your home without your trusty pole.

...

..

I'm sorry. I'll put a buck in the groaner joke jar. So, during the years, 10-foot poles, their usefulness undisputed and tried and tested by more adventurers in varying degrees of success, have obviously spawned an array of variants, many of which can be found herein - from butterfly nets with which you can capture those annoying pixies to balancing poles, there are quite a few nice variants to be found - of course, including the 11-foot pole for the customer who goes one step beyond. This also includes folding poles and the combat ladder - an exotic weapon with the brace, blocking, disarm, grapple, monk, performance, reach and trip qualities. Overpowered? Perhaps. But -6 to atk and CMB when using it sober are at least some nice drawbacks. I just wished the basic drunkeness rules of PFRPG were better. If you actually plan on using this weapon, I'd strongly suggest using it with Raging Swan Press' rules for barroom brawls and tie it to the hammered condition featured in that book. Technology Guide-based hydraulic poles, vermin attracting giant toothpicks, stilts - the mundane objects herein, while not always perfectly balanced, generally fall within the purview of being rather well-crafted indeed.



Of course, some poles are magical, they grow when... Ouch. Yes, I'll stop. Sorry. Must be the summer heat BBQing my brain. *puts another dime in the groaner jar* Here, we can find bandolier containing toothpicks that can extend to proper poles; Decoy poles with hats etc. on top that act as protection from arrows. Poles with continuous flames on top; those that behave like a compass needle pr one that can be transformed in a cat with a limited movement radius. No, this pun was not one of my creation! What about a robe containing multiple useful poles? Hej, my clothes...OUCH. Yes, I'll stop.



One step beyond these, there also are cursed poles - petulant ones that refuse to properly modify; magnetic ones...or what about the pole-ka, which is best combined with playing Weird Al instrumentals irl? Yes, the poles here are genuinely funny. What about an intelligent limbo pole that acts as a one-way portal through walls...if you can limbo under it, becoming progressively harder? There even are mythic poles herein, and I'm not talking about...Ouch. *puts another one in the jar*



What about the Staff of Sun Wukong (aka Son Goku?) Yes, cool. The giant stick bug, which may also act as a familiar, makes for a nice additional creature, before we dive into the new bard archetype, the pole dancer. Pole dancers replace bardic knowledge with a battle dance - with the effects only affecting the pole dancer and initiation actions required scaling. They also are masters of fighting with ten-foot poles, gaining dex to atk and damage with them and allowing them to treat the weapons as other types regarding damage. The overall slight decrease in power is offset by an increased capacity to use alluring abilities and the ability to substitute Perform (Dance) for Acrobatics, making them save that skill-investment. At higher levels, battle dancing pole dancers are treated as hasted and in an interesting way, they may quicken spells by expending move actions while casting spells. Powerful defensive dances that heal damage and moving while making attacks and the capstone nets an attack versus all foes in range during any point of a move. The pole dancer is an interesting archetype I very much like concept-wise. At the same time, it suffers from some issues - it is not clear whether battle dance is gained in addition to bardic performance or replaces it - I assume the latter, since the former would be pretty OP. Conversely, I assume the battle dances have a round-cap akin to performance, but the ability doesn't specify it, which is a pity. Some of the other abilities also sport minor ambiguities that can be problematic, the most glaring component here would be the absence of weapon statistics for the 10-foot pole. I assume an improvised large weapon, but I'm not sure. On a nitpicky side, the archetype also switches genders mid-sentence, which I consider supremely annoying.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - some entries sport font-changes and there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language here and there. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard with nice, stock artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a detriment regarding the convenient use of this pdf in my book.



Quite a team has worked on this one: Ismael Alvarez, Jeff Gomez, J. Gray, Garrett Guillotte, Kiel Howell, Taylor Hubler, Lucus Palosaari, Matt Roth, Jessie Staffler, Jeffrey Swank - surprisingly, now, this does not translate to a feeling of disparate voices.



I did not expect much from this book and was positively surprised - yes, this is a joke offering; and yes, not all content herein may be perfect. But this book actually manages to be something only a few roleplaying books achieve - genuinely funny. Beyond this rare achievement, portal limbo poles are a stroke of genius and quite a few other ideas herein a delightful, playful and, best of all - feel magical. Whimsical even. While, alas, due to aforementioned glitches and minor hiccups, I can't rate this among the highest echelons of my rating system, this still very much is a good, and more importantly, fun offering and thus well worth a final verdict of 4 stars - oh, and you can get it as a "Pay what you want"-book, so no reason not to check this out!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
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The Dread Codex: Goblin Chronicles
by Andrew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2015 15:54:42
This book is awesome and well worth the money. It has a lot of creative information on the different goblin subtypes, complete with profiles for using them in your games as both monsters and characters. Some of the goblin types are kind of boring, but most of them are really cool. The book also has a bunch of feats for goblin characters, and though they are mostly focused on sneak, intimidation and bluff checks, these are goblins, after all, and not warriors. It also contains info on some cool goblin gear, including fireworks and magical fireworks, and goblin-specific magic weapons.

This book is exactly what I would want to see from a book about a single type of monster. Though it is kind of pricey for a book with such a narrow focus, it has a lot of info and is around 70-something pages, so its price is fair. The artwork is good, with pictures of each of the goblin subtypes described in the book.

My only complaint would be that it is not well edited. It is totally readable, just has a bunch of grammatical mistakes. (If you are the publisher, I would be happy to proofread your stuff for a free copy of the product, by the way!)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dread Codex: Goblin Chronicles
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Fat Goblin Mega Load [BUNDLE]
by Andrew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 07:15:42
Overall, an absolutely awesome deal if you like the background information and detail-oriented stuff that really breathes life into your RPG settings.

The bundle has a wide range of products, most of which i found interesting reads. Most of the products were short (20 pages or so, give or take), but considering that you are getting a bunch of them, you will be reading for quite a while.

The only products that I didnt care for were the currency stuff (although I could print some off and use it with my next Monopoly game...), the tavern menus (not something that I get into in my games, though they were cool to read through) and the paper minis though you only get one paper mini product (there's no substitute for the metal/resin/plastics all painted up).

There are so many different things in the bundle that I can't go into them here. Personally, I like the various monster books as they add a lot of depth to the generic monster types. I mean, we've all dealt with Goblins before, but your campaign can now include a half dozen or so special goblin types instead.

A handful of the books also included new feats and magic items, which I always love. The SRD magic items don't have much character, so anything that beefs up those options are welcome.

In short, if you are looking for a bundle to base a campaign off of, skip this. But if you want to make your campaign setting super-interesting and able to surprise even the most veteran players, then you gotta grab this!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fat Goblin Mega Load [BUNDLE]
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Secret Societies of Vathak: The Final Phase
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/24/2015 10:28:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Vathak-supplement clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Final Phase is a cult that sprung form an appropriately nihilistic vision of life as sorrow unending and thus, it should come as no surprise that the already questionable ideology (as much of it as the well-written intro-fluff showcases) has been perverted even further in a world like Vathak - now, the cult is pretty much a decadent accumulation of cultists with a surprising range of influence. More disturbingly, the cult believes that the Great Old Ones hold the key to prevent resorption into the unending cycle of sorrow the multiverse propagates - and while this may sound angsty, in a fantasy setting with demons, angels etc., the clue is - they are kind of right. Okay, bringing the Great Old Ones to the world is not a good idea, but the aforementioned point has been a central and very effective theme in my last campaign: In the words of one of my favorite metal bands: "If my soul could revive from my carnal remains, what does it matter to me? If it all fades to black and I'm born once again, then no one really is free."



A pyramid structure that mirrors their inverted ziggurat ritualistic place is detailed alongside the current headquarters and initiation into the cult - particular mention deserves that WE ACTUALLY GET THE OATH the initiates recite. See, *this* is exactly what makes a cult come to life, what makes it more than just a collection of cultists.



The pdf also sports unique magical items, namely the Belt of the Great Old Ones that not only bestows ooze-like immunities and a miss chance on the wearer, but also allows you to squeeze through tight spaces - and make foes rue the day they tried to see through your miss-chance... On a nitpicky side, the item has a minor italicization glitch. The second item would be the Lamprey Sleeves. In the lower sections of aforementioned ziggurat is a vat, wherein lamprey await - upon plunging your arm inside, the lampreys devour the arm and magically turn into a disturbing facsimile of the arm, returning to their original disgusting form only upon activation, acting as a buckler and allowing for the wearer's choice of either vampiric touch or touch of madness 3/day, though again, with minor italicization glitches.



The pdf closes with adventure hooks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, apart from some minor italicization glitches, I noticed nothing severe. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is thematically fitting.



Jeffrey Swank's Final Phase has been an odd pdf for me to review. This began, to be honest, with me not being particularly excited - yet another nihilistic cult? Yawn. Only slowly did the themes and leitmotifs of self-determination emerge and lend an actual identity to the cult herein. The sample oath provided in particular made me wish this pdf sported more fluff like that, for it is here that the pdf shines -at this point, I expected this to be pretty much in the mediocre/good range. Then the items hit and hit hard - they are unique, strange and downright creepy, adding an element of body horror to the philosophical underpinning of the cult, blending a strange mix of psychological and body horror with the utterly creepy premise of elitism and "good intentions for the enlightened" to form an amalgam that is something I did not expect this pdf to deliver - something genuinely creepy.



Now granted, not all components of the organization hit home perfectly, but the blending of themes makes this work better than I honestly expected, rendering the cult a fun, inexpensive addition to one's game, mainly hampered by the brevity of the format - with a couple of additional pages to showcase ideology and rituals in more detail, this could have been top-tier awesome. As provided, it is a compelling secret society just short of true excellence and thus well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies of Vathak: The Final Phase
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[PFRPG] Pug's Bazaar: Tent #3
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/14/2015 08:04:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Our favorite goblin merchant of items both wondrous and weird is back, this time at 14 pages, with the cover doubling as introduction, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Each of the items herein comes with a well-written piece of introductory prose as well as an adventure hook, both helping to root the items in the lore of the game. The first items would pair a pair of deadly cesti/warhammer, both providing very powerful synergy-effects for magi, including a new enhancement that adds a stagger/daze/stun-effect to spellstrike-criticals, with severity scaling up according to the critical modifiers. Speaking of powerful items - what about a plate that increases the range threatened by 10 ft.? Yeah, OUCH! 50+K value may be much, but the benefits definitely outweigh that...thankfully, this only extends to movement-provoked AoOs...interesting. The plate also allows you to use up your movement as part of these AoOs (so you don't have to swat at thin air), utilizing movement rate of the next round as a resource - pretty smart.



A fire-themed variant of shocking grasp with a splash-dazzle added in makes for an interesting variant spell. At 2nd level, an improved entangle that causes damage and potentially bleed could be slightly clearer regarding whether the bleed damage is in addition, though one can argue that's the intent. Worms of light that cause Con-drain bleed at high levels provide one spooky imagery, and yes, they can effect undead, with modified wording. A canned trapsmith is a small, cute mechanical construct that can spot and disable traps autonomously. A pair of goggles that can not only perceive certain auras, but also make the visible to those not wearing them, may be interesting for some people.



A spell that increases damage-output versus creatures suffering from perception-impeding spells and effects is an interesting one in that it combines spellcasting, conditions and attacks/sneak attacks. Now where the pdf becomes glorious would be with the bandoleer of distractions, which consists a significant array of unique - from prone-knocking balls of fur to animal-frightening whistles, this item is made of awesome and win!



If you're like me and enjoy rock throwing monsters, what amounts to an enchanted orb that can cause earthquakes and the like as well as acting as a nasty piece of ammunition will be right up your alley. *cough* Giant Slayer Ap */cough* And yes, weight = 216 lbs. - player will have fun trying to haul this piece of loot around...



The final item herein would be the cremated ashes of a loremaster, which help identifying command words and items and by rubbing them on one's eyes, one can apply the wisdom of the ancients temporarily to one's own Perception.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a fromal level are top-notch, with the notable exception of italicization often being not implemented perfectly. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides copious full-color representations of the items in question - nice to see! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Wendall Roy knows his craftsmanship -while the pricing of a bunch of items herein feel a bit too liberal and low for my conservative tastes in that regard, the items themselves and their prose/hooks deliver - why? because not one is just a lame variant of accumulation of benefits. Instead, they come with unique, mechanically-relevant bonuses and often, complex rules-language that properly makes these qualities work. Indeed, this is one of the best little magic item books I've seen in a while - though, balance-wise, I'd still consider omitting my seal of approval, especially due to the added italicization oversights. But on the other hand, this pdf's items are, in part, gleefully bonkers and some are downright stupefying - they're FUN. They actually feel magical, unique, more than the sum of some bland bonuses - and for that, in spite of the minor flaws, I'll gladly rate this 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Pug's Bazaar: Tent #3
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Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2015 22:28:21
For those of you who don't know I'm a big fan of the technology guide. I love that we have rules for adding things like lasers, robots, rockets, and power armor to my fantasy setting. I love that it grants us the chance to insert a little more mystery into our worlds than just "it's magic" and make our players a bit more intrigued by the dungeons and worlds that exist in their lands both in Paizo's home setting and our home games without having to write a book myself to do it. What's more the style in which it was presented was amazing, a fusion of classic scifi tropes like laser pistols and death rays with a healthy dose of 40k future diesel punk and grim dark thrown in for some amazing options (looking at you chainsword, monowhip, and rad grenades) that really scratch that itch and make these options feel grimy and brutal in all the right ways for a world with Conan style barbarians rubbing shoulders with robot titans.

But with all that in mind it wasn't enough. We got a lot of the good starters but we were left with far more questions. How the hell does all of this fit into a world like golarion where stuff like a toothed sword that screams as it saws a man in half is far more likely to be attributed to being possessed by a demon than it is to a microprocessor? And for that matter what do they do with all the broken pieces, do they just leave them lying around, what do they think happens when one finally shuts down, and do they ever try to fix them or more try anything more interesting? Well it seems Fat Goblin has heard me, since with this book I get new tech, an answer to some of these questions, and oddly enough a tech tree system.

First lets talk about the biggest addition and the bulk of this product for most consumers, augmentations. An answer to my biggest question about what the hell all these primitive societies do with all this broken or discharged tech that is lying around in places like Numeria's rust fields or other worlds where these things are ancient technology left behind that they barely understand, augmentations are weapons and armor that have had used, broken, and discovered technology incorporated into their design to help improve their function or capitalize on the remains of destroyed tech. Augmentations let you do everything from repairing armor by lashing it all together with ion tape (basically duct tape) to attaching chainsaws to your greatclub to give you a baseball bat that will chew through your enemies like a wood chipper. In short they are amazingly inventive and already have me and my players chomping at the bit to play with them at the table, from our warpriest wanting to wrap a chainsaw blade around his holy weapon to both of them wanting to buy a pack of cylex rounds (ammunition coated with impact activated C4) to help them even the odds against a morlock tribe they ran afoul of in a local dungeon these things get me amped to not just incorporate them but use them as ways to explain how this midevil culture has started to incorporate them into their world beyond sacred relics. It lets me have blacksmith who make full plate out of rare plastics scraped from the machinery of ancient dungeons, weaponsmiths who craft greatswords around damaged graviton engines to impart "the thunder of the gods" into the wielders stroke, and to have kobolds that craft uranium laced longspears from broken rad grenades to permanently cripple any foolish long shank dumb enough to try and break into their lair. And all of it is done with a fusion of old gear and the pieces they would naturally find. That is awesome and what's more those are just some of the examples I could pull from here. On top of all that the rules for crafting them allow you to use old, burnt out, and discarded tech to create these augmentations, turning that timeworn chainsword you picked up and burned out a few sessions ago from a worthless piece of junk and into a key component for turning your humdrum greataxe into a howling toothed chainsaw greataxe that would make Kharn the Betrayer proud.

The next big thing in here is the tech tree system, oddly something designed for of all things the kingdom building system presented in Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign. With this system you get what is essentially a civilization style tech tree system that allows you to invest build points into furthering your nations understanding of technology, granting basic things like learning physics and basic biology at the start to eventually crafting things like orbital space stations, airports, and hospitals that can replace your arm with a top of the line cybernetic replacement at the highest end of the trees. The investments are steep for each facet of the various trees you invest in and many require investing in multiple trees to qualify for options (i.e. pharmaceuticals requires you have invested in biology and chemistry in order to begin studying it) but having a way to not further your nations education in a tangible way and see the fruits of it start to show up is just icing on the cake. The system even helps incorporate things like firearms into the equation, offering them up as some of the first pieces of advanced technology your budding nation can produce. The examples here go on and trying to lay them all out could take pages but suffice it to say if you would like to add a little more Civilization to your kingdom building this is a great place to start.

Finally you get the actual new tech of the book which is surprisingly sparse, in total numbering out to maybe a half dozen or so new items that are not examples of augmented tech but all of which are pretty cool. Ranging from a set of adamantine piston knuckles a la fallout that let you roll twice for damage to a nanofiber vest that can expedite healing and even grant fast healing but has the wearer risk cardiac arrest if the push the system too far. Each one is interesting, well priced, and easy to insert into any campaign alongside the tech guide with little problem.

Now the book is not perfect. It's got some formatting errors that drive me crazy like notes for where bullet points are supposed to be that haven't been added (part of why it's not 5 star as of this writing) but overall the book is an absolute treat for those looking for more ways to incorporate the options introduced in the technology guide in more interesting ways. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to design a gnoll barbarian with a radioactive axe.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
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[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2015 03:49:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover/editorial,1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This supplement, obviously, provides fighting styles inspired by fantastic creatures, with each style sporting a nice, short fluff-paragraph that anchors the style in a kind of background you may scavenge. The first of these styles would be the cockatrice style, which increases teh DC of both Gorgon Fist and Scorpion Style, while also adding wis-mod to damage versus foes with reduced speed or in the staggered condition. Wait, I hear you say - Scorpion Style? But one can only be in one style at a given time unless one uses archetypes etc. - you would be right, but Paizo botched nomenclature - Scorpion Style is NOT a (style)-feat - just a combat-feat. ;) The follow-up feats allow for added Dex-damage when using Gorgon's Fist and Scorpion Style and the option to add an unarmed Gorgon Strike as a swift action against a target failing to save versus your Scorpion Style. Interesting blend of the two concepts.



The Couatl Style adds wis to damage versus foes denied their dex-bonus to AC versus your attacks and also adds wis to Bluff skill checks - not a fan of dual attributes to a skill. Additionally, feinting dazzles foes for one round. The follow-up feats allow for an immediate action feint that eliminates opponents as counting for flanking or whether you provoke AoOs, whereas the final feat allows for a 10-foot AoO feint when using a standard action to feint foes while in Couatl style. Additionally, foes feinted this way treat foes other than yourself as having concealment. Interesting!



Doppelgänger Style (sorry, can't write it with an "a" sans cringing) nets you a dodge bonus versus foes using style-feats and allows you to use swift actions to emulate a style employed by a foe who missed you for 1 round, while also netting you a minor buff. This one is pretty much brilliant - nuff said. The follow-up feats allow for the emulation of the feat-chain of said style, while the final feat allows for an AoO that allows you to disrupt another style, hence denying the target temporary access to the style's feat-chain. Sick...and awesome.



Manticore Style allows you to draw light thrown weapons as a free action and do no longer treat ammunition or darts as improvised weapons. The follow-up feats allow for a flurry with two additional attacks at -2 atk - but does that stack with flurry of blows/stars? The second one allows you to move full speed and execute a full attack's attacks at any point while doing so, but requires you to use unarmed attacks, light thrown weapons or ammunition to do so. This one feels too strong for my tastes - indeed, this is the first style that imho can benefit from a bit of streamlining - one feat needs ability-stack clarification, the other should be limited to a subpar weapon group - full attack plus movement with unarmed strikes is NASTY.



Peryton Style allows you to deal bludgeoning or piercing damage with your unarmed attacks, with piercing having a crit of x3. Additionally, you can choose to render a foe to cower instead of being frightened or panicked instead, but only for 1 round. Per se cool, but cower as one of the most powerful conditions is nasty - still, average duration shortened to 1 round balances that. The follow-up feat-chain allows for better charges and a scaling save-based selection of additional detrimental effects to impose on foes of your charge. The final feat allows you to coup-de-grâce cowering or stunned foes, and add an AoE-demoralize as a swift action when executing a foe like this. I like this style, but it is very prone to being cheesed: Coup-de-grâces are almost guaranteed kills and the relatively easy set-up for this finisher means that the style in itself is deadly - when combined with another character that deals in fear (Nightblades or Dreads come to mind...), this style can become broken pretty fast. However, at the same time, it is just glorious in the hands of assassin-style NPCs.



Phoenix Style nets you +2 CMD and unarmed strike damage when facing opponents with a higher Str-score or larger size. The bonus is doubled if a foe power attacks you. The follow-up feats allow you to increase your reach when only executing a single melee strike versus foes, alos netting you a dodge bonus to AC versus foes not adjacent to you. Finally, the third feat allows you to add a second attack to a charge and also allows you to use Acrobatics to move past the foe sans AoO. The feat also allows for a reflexive means to avoid grapples at the cost of movement in the next round.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-.color standard and the pdf sports numerous nice full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.



Wendall Roy delivers an interesting pdf here - I was honestly surprised to see the styles herein not shirk from the most complex of concepts and executing the rules-language required with laudable precision - with minor hiccups here and there, this pdf tackles top-difficulty concepts and executes them rather well - to the point where I will most definitely use this pdf's content in my campaign. So kudos for aiming for the top! Alas, I am not sold on the balancing of a couple of the styles herein -namely the Manticore Style and the Peryton Style imho require some streamlining - the former due to number of attacks stacking, the latter due to its extremely lethality with a pretty basic combo. These blemishes, though, do not drag down what is undoubtedly a cool pdf that should bring a grin to all aficionados of WuXia. While not perfect, I will hence settle on a verdict of 4.5 stars, just short of utter awesomeness. Since the issues mentioned impact balance, I will round down for what can be considered a quintessentially good pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
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Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:46:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so what do we get?



Well, first of all, we get a short run-down of the background story of red rose manor - when a grove of dryads bit off more than they could chew, a rather nasty wizard cut down their trees and made them into the very wood that was used to construct red rose manor. If your PCs are wise, they'll be doing leg-work before entering such a place - if they botch their gathering of information, they may hear a kind of wrong rumor, whereas exceeding the DC provides secret, additional information.



The haunts herein range from CR 6 to CR 8 and generally, they do one thing exceedingly right - each haunt tells a part of the story. You see, what I like about haunts, why I adore them so, can be summed up easily by the means in which they can enhance a story - unlike most traps and hazards, haunts, by their very design, are supposed to be means of indirect storytelling, miniture exposition dumps, if you will - and the pdf gets this right.



When a door whispers seductively to partake in wine, the instance tells a part of the story and ties in with a sequel haunt that is directly associated with the wine itself. When a miniature tree turns out to be the cut of legs of a dryad, planted and created into a kind of facsimile tree via the utmost care, one can taste the madness that consumed the man behind the tragedy. Chests and drawers made from pieces of dryads, with bodies contorting in the wood, doors with wooden knots that once were eyes, narcissism-inducing eternal fireplaces, rugs of woven dryad hair that reflect the despair they felt. The final haunt has a rather unpleasant, but not lethal effect as well - though one that actually managed to chill me: A dominate effect suggesting that the creatures ought to plant themselves - but with what further repercussions? Yes, slowly starving with feet embedded in the earth would be the obvious consequence, but still - I would have liked at least a suggestion here.

It should be noted that some of the haunts actually can be tricked.



The pdf also provides suggestions for 4 optional "encounters" - these can probably be likened to suggested set-ups for related encounters.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of grammar glitches and the like. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a gorgeous front cover artwork. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks.



Were this a piece of fiction, I'd bash it to smithereens. No, seriously - this pdf is hard to review for one simple reason: Structurally, it is awesome. The haunts make ample use of interesting spells that thematically fit, admittedly to the point where I would have liked unique effects and modifications for the haunts itself.



The haunts themselves sport interesting imagery and this would be Kiel Howell's triumphant strength - he *gets* indirect storytelling via haunts. And he can craft utterly disturbing vistas - seriously, I have read a lot of horror supplements and when such a humble pdf can still elicit a reaction from me, that's when you realize that the imagery the respective haunts evoke is AWESOME.



The creative, imaginative potential, the one component that cannot be learned, is there. At the same time, though, the pdf has one massive issue - the prose simply isn't that good. As awesome as the set-pieces of the haunts and their interaction are, the prose linking them feels clumsy at times and did detract from the awesome imagery in places - take this sentence from the set up: "Their souls are bound to the wood, forever reminded of their failure to protect their trees, their failure to trick and enslave the wizard Renald Houssman with fake love, and their failure to move on in death." Sure, not bad, but far, far from the awesomeness of the concept "Here's a door that has the friggin' EYES of dryads, disguised as knots, set in the wood." At the same time, the haunts and their concepts are glorious, but the set-ups do somewhat detract from them. The good news here is that writing more compelling prose can be learned and is a matter of experience and practice.



To sum it up -super concepts and glorious imagery are slightly bogged down by prose not 100% up to the imaginative potential herein. Slightly more defined and varied mechanical effects would have been nice to see as well. In the end, this is an inexpensive collection of cool, thematically linked haunts, which any DM worth their salt can craft into one chilling module. While not perfect, it made me look forward to future offerings in the product-line as well as excited to see how Kiel Howell's writing improves - for his twisted mind definitely has a knack for conjuring up some chilling imagery. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
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Monster Movie Matinee
by Derek B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2015 00:52:33
This is a very cool concept. Take 10 iconic villains/monsters from horror movies, and stat them up. The best part is it's not just newer villains like the aliens of Mars Attacks, but also the giant space plant from Little Shop of Horrors. There was even a monster I didn't recognize, and had to look up the original write-up. I was pretty impressed that the monsters from Pitch Black made it in. Never expected that.

The pdf is 26 pages in length with 20 pages of content, including an appendix with the movies of inspiration.

The monsters range anywhere from CR 3 to 11, and all of them are pretty diverse in their abilities. They also are done up in a way that they're not 100% the same as their original counterpart. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting that. Take for instance the Nightmare Stalker, which is based off of Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger. Instead of claws, he has a barber's razor. Each monster comes with original coloured art, and a two-page spread worth of content.

While, overall, this is very original and it's cool to see these all converted to Pathfinder, there's a lot of things lacking, and it's my reason for the lower score. Firstly, the CR is inaccurate. As per the monster creation rules from the Pathfinder bestiaries, there's a very specific formula that each monster must use in order to be properly balanced. It has to have a specific number of hit points, a particular AC, and it must be able to deal X damage each round to a PC. If it can't, then its CR is a lie, and a party will either get wiped out in milliseconds, or the encounter will be a cake walk. There's also a few editing errors, such as the Unstoppable Maniac having a machete as his primary melee weapon, martial proficiency with it, but has Weapon Focus (longsword) as a feat. The Jungle Predator has +5 armor, but is only wearing a chain shirt. Where's the extra +1 come from? Then there's the Shark Tornado which is a medium animal swarm, yet it's got a 30 foot space. The main issues is the swarm subtype specifically says that it has to be fine, diminutive, or tiny. Even the Swarm Creature Template explains this. The damage is also relative, and shouldn't be 5d6 as the HD is not high enough. It's a nitpick, but it's one of those things that really stand out.

There's talk of a sequel to this with other movie monsters, and while I'd like to see it, I'd want to this book have an errata with builds closer to their CR, the editing looked over for skill ranks equaling correctly (if there's a discretion, just add Racial Modifiers to it) and the feats being labeled correctly. That way when the sequel book comes out, it'll be that much better a product. Theoretically.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Movie Matinee
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Vathak Grimoires: Echoes of the Final Heartbeat
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2015 05:00:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second Vathak Grimoire clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1/2 a page blank, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Echoes of the Final Heartbeat, firstly, would be a new, dread grimoire - and one that has a more evocative and distinct (and more detailed) fluff-introduction than the first installment of the series, with the grimoire's grim origin story providing a first and rather interesting hint at the things to come - written in blood to the point of complete self-destruction, this tome indeed is the dread testament of its creator. So, can the spells herein stand up to this grim legacy?



Before we take a look, you should be aware of the layout and formatting of the spells being significantly superior to the last installment, with a better presentation overall - kudos! Now onwards to the spells:



-Bloodletting Blade: +1 bleed damage with weapon, stacks with itself, but not other bleed damage inflicted. Pretty cool and since bleed usually does not stack, one can conceivably assume that the stacking damage supersedes the regular bleed from other sources once it has surpassed its potency. I would have prefered to see that explicitly stated, but that is me being a nitpicker.



-Bloodhungry Haze: This one is confused - it conjures forth a haze of vapor that drains the damage of the creatures within - I really like this. However, the damage does not work - this is a 5th level spell and it specifies it scales the 1d6 bleed damage up by +1d6 per caster level, up to 4d6. So how do you cast 5th level spells without being 4th level? Oo Worse, the spell once specifies that it deals CON-damage. 4d6 ?? WUT? That's quite possibly insta-kill for many characters! Plus, it's BLEED. Öh, something went wrong here. This spell obviously went through some revision that has not been properly implemented. The concept is cool, but as written, this is ridiculously broken and needs some refinement.



-Bloodsoaked Soil: Exceedingly powerful, high-level terrain-control spell that provides negative levels when crossing affected squares and doubles as a buff for undead. I really love the imagery here and the benefits are significant,. but requiring a save per affected square feels like it can bog down gameplay rather nastily - I'd advise for an increased DC when crossing multiple squares in one round instead, with each square making the DC harder. Just my 2 cents, of course!



-Feast on the Fallen: Gain fast healing depending on the amount of creatures dying or suffering from bleed damage in the area. Cool!



-Life Siphon: Minor debuff to foes, receive half hit points as healing of the damage the target receives. Nice one.



-Soulshackle Curse: Level 9 Curse that allows you to shackle someone to his/her body upon death, forcing the target to become an intelligent undead, who ahs a hard time resisting your control. True names make it more potent. Cool!



-Temporary Animate Dead: Animation of recently deceased foes for 1 round/level. Weird, but interesting lesser version of undead animation...oh, and it allows targets to be revived. Nice when your fighter-meat-shield bit the dust and you don't have the funds for a proper resurrection.



-Unholy Blood: When the target is hit by the right damage-types for sufficient damage, sprays of negative-energy-infused blood hit the foes.



-Vampling's Demise: Add Vampling's Death Throes ability to target. Requires access to the vampling creature.



The pdf also provides the new Siphoning Spell metamagic feat. At +2 levels, these spells net you spell level temporary hit points for every creature injured by the spell, equal to the unmodified spell level, capping at + your maximum HP temporary hit points. Powerful when fighting mooks, but the +2 spell levels are hard to swallow - which is good, for otherwise, this would be broken. Still, I wished this had its effect not determined by the number of creatures affected, but that's a design-aesthetic gripe and will not influence the final verdict.



The pdf closes with the fully-depicted stats for the eponymous level 18 necromancer grimoire, including a backlash boon that allows for reflexive negative energy damage when your blood is spilled.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are much better than in the first Vathak Grimoire - the presentation is more concise and apart from one spell, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard with glorious full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.



Jacob Trier gets almost everything right -while I would have preferred slightly more fluff, the spells herein are concise, cover gaps in the rules and generally provide a concise array of magic centered on the topic of blood and mortality, without delving too deep into the themes of vampirism. I've seen a lot of the concepts of this grimoire before, granted, but the overall execution of every component is a step up for the series. While not perfect in every way, this constitutes a definite step forward for the product line - My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the evocative concepts of the spells.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Grimoires: Echoes of the Final Heartbeat
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Vathak Grimoires: The Drowning Ceremony
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2015 05:36:21
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so what do we get here?



Well, we get a brief fluffy introduction and then, the content provided within the dread pages of the eponymous grimoire, which doubles as a depicted level 15 universalist spell book. As a preparation ritual, the caster can elect to take wisdom damage to gain +2 caster level checks per damage taken.



So, what can the unique spells do?



-Accelerate recovery: Reduce the number of rounds a negative condition measured in rounds lasts. Simple, fun, awesome.



-Erosion: Massive damage versus stone, damage versus earth elementals and similar creatures



-Drowning Gaze: High-level spell that allows for a gaze that inflicts drowning while focused on a character. Powerful, but okay at this level.



-Hydrophilia: This spell must be cast in sight of a body of water, which then proceeds to attract the target - go into the water... Like it.



-Stinging Water: Scorching ray-clone that deals 1d6 less damage, but inflicts 1 point of con-damage instead, which can be negated with a save. Should specify the damage type it inflicts; Untyped is too strong. Bludgeoning would be the default, I think. Other than that, I'm fine with this.



-Summon Void Parasites: Has a layout glitch that puts the header at the very bottom of the previous page; summons a rot grub swarm reskinned towards being an outsider...which would generally be a cool idea. HOWEVER, outsiders have different racial traits etc. than vermin, so just slapping the outsider-type on a rot grub swarm does NOT work. We need stats, which renders this...nonfunctional.



-Temporal Surge: Okay, this spell has a good idea - it allows you to perform additional actions and makes you take damage for them, which scales up fast and hard. The spell also gets it right to prevent means of evading the damage. The thing is - the spell-level, even at level 6, is too low for the number of creatures it affects and the damage is ridiculously low - you can outheal this with cohorts...easily. Note that this spell breaks the action economy for potentially a whole adventurer party, acting as a huge amplifier in power. The idea is good, the execution not bad, but oh boy, this spell is very, very broken. Even as a personal spell, it would be too strong, arguably in certain situations, it is stronger than time stop. This thing needs to be torn down and redesigned from the ground up.



-Tentacle Growth: Has a layout glitch that puts the header at the very bottom of the previous page; Grants you slots for holding items and also provides a reflexive disarm.



-Throes of Terror: Level 8 spell that lets you burst into outsider tick swarms (same stat-complaint as above applies) with disease quality. Your body reforms when you've drained enough Con to equal your own score. Cool idea!



-Toxic Breath: 30 ft.-cone of insanity mist. Solid, but bland.



The pdf also sports two new feats - Flux Spell, which adds +2 spell levels and allows you to roll numerical effects (but not saves or opposed rolls) twice. The second one would be Molting Spell - at +1 spell level, this one is pretty cool: It increases the numerical effects of a multi-round spanning spell by +50% in the first round, but reduces them to the normal level for half the duration thereafter, then decreasing the effects by 50%, mirroring a theme of degenerating power in rules. I do love this concept, though the wording could be slightly more concise - the intent is clear and the feat functional, though.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though the aforementioned layout-hiccups with spell-names are annoying. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks provided are awesome, as we've come to expect from fat Goblin Games.



Jason Keeley's Drowning Ceremony is an interesting offering - some of the spells herein are pretty awesome, inspired even and the general concept of the series is cool. However, at the same time, there are massive balance-concerns with one spell that pretty much redefines BROKEN, some spells feel a bit filler-ish...and honestly, this supplement left me a bit disappointed - why? Because we don't actually get the drowning ceremony. We get a spellbook and crunch, but a good grimoire, in my book (haha), requires more. With a name and concept this evocative, where is the awesome, dark background story, the lore-checks to research it, where is the slow corruption that comes from using it? The theme and topic are so evocative, but apart from an all-too-brief introduction, the book, to me, remained less of an unique entity, more like a series of thematically-linked crunch. Especially in the context of horror, it is not the mechanics that work alone - the fluff is of tantamount importance and here, this is the second flaw of this pdf; I honestly believe that LESS spells (kill the uninspired variants...), but some unique fluff instead would have really helped this book come into its own. As provided, this remains the quintessential mixed bag, falling short of its awesome premise. Don't get me wrong, this isn't bad, but it could have easily been awesome. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3, because the good concepts do deserve to be acknowledged..

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Grimoires: The Drowning Ceremony
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Sidebar #1 - Shields as Cover
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2015 07:36:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Fat Goblin Games' sidebar-series clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 1 page of content, so what does it...



...no, I'm not gonna insult your intelligence by summing up a premise that can be read in the title of this pdf as a rhetorical question.



I loathe how shields work in PFRPG. Their bonuses are paltry and often, the benefits cannot stand up to similar benefits granted by more massive weapons and over all, shields always felt to me like they did not do their job: We all know the iconic images of characters covering between shields to weather dragon's breath or fireballs flung at them. why then do shields not simply grant cover?



So, this pdf, on one page provides what amounts to an optional houserule - this is not intended as derogatory, mind you, just calling a thing by its name. That being said, the presentation itself is pretty solid - shield bashes, rays and being flat-footed: All such pieces are covered. Shields also benefit from an easy-to-grasp, concise expansion of their function: Each shield-size grants different degrees of cover when employed in regular combat, fighting defensively or using total defense:



A heavy shield, to give you an example, nets partial cover (+2 AC, +1 Ref) when used regularly, standard cover (+4 AC, +2 Ref) when fighting defensively and improved cover (+8 AC, +4 Ref) when using the total defense action. The distinct reader may note that no, abuse of this cover for Stealth-purposes is NOT possible. Interaction with Shield Focus and similar tricks are covered as well, as are tower shield's special tricks and the interaction with these rules. Even a kind of stacking of cover when employing shields while adjacent to a wall is covered.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - though I noticed a plural/singular discrepancy, I don't consider this important. Layout adheres to a beautiful, easy to read 2-column full-color standard ad the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



So yes, I do like this system - mainly due to it rewarding basic tactical decisions and since it provides a more strategic array of options when using shields, options which feel more diverse and closer to what shields in my opinion should do. This little pdf is in fact pretty close to a houserule I used in some of my campaigns. What is here, is functional and nice, but the premise does suffer from the brevity of the format - While e.g. the interaction with Lob Shot works still (and pretty much feels organic to me), Improved Precise Shot is still the bane of cover and unique benefits for tower shields that make these cumbersome things more versatile would have also been nice - as written, they are treated as just another shield class.

Author Lucus Palosaari delivers essentially a nice, inexpensive and pretty concise house-rule that should not break any game and offer some easy tactical depth and increased reason to opt for sword-and-board fighting styles. While not perfect, this pdf can be considered an inexpensive rules-variation. It could be more complex, but honestly should be a great fit for quite a few groups out there. Oh, and one can easily expand the content herein, making the system more complex - which is exactly what I intend to do. All in all, this pdf thus remains, at least for me, a solid 4 stars - this may not be earthshattering, but it is a nice option for people dissatisfied with how shields work in vanilla PFRPG.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sidebar #1 - Shields as Cover
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Dark Talents: Dhampir Feats for Shadows over Vathak
by David R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2015 04:30:15
2/3rds Good, Handle With Care

Length: 7 pages total: 1 page front cover, credits and introduction; 5 pages of content; 1 page licensing.

Format: 2-column, easy to read. I found 17 typographical and grammatical errors total, 11 of which are contained within the introductory text on page 1. It makes for a fairly poor first impression, but the errors were not serious enough to diminish the overall quality of the book.

Art: 2 pictures, both of characters, with one in color and one in black and white. Both are of good quality.

Dhampir Feats: There are 37 feats within this book, specifically for use within the Shadows over Vathak campaign setting. One of the feats listed within has a prerequisite that references elements of that campaign setting, so you may need to adjust or outright ban it if your adventures take place in another setting. Most of these feats are thematically appropriate for the Dhampir; enhancing senses, social abilities, necromantic powers, vampiric abilities and so on. I like many of the feats in this book, but several stood out as being strangely written or balanced, with a few missing prerequisites or having conflicting purposes.

The first strange feat is Animation by Touch, which appears to grant the ability to cast animate dead as many times as you want for free, with the only limit being that you may only animate one undead creature per turn with a maximum number of undead controlled being 2HD per caster level. I do not believe this is the intent, but as-written, this is an enormously powerful feat. Strangely, it appears to be impossible to actually take the feat, as something called "Death Touch" is listed in the prerequisites, but I can find no Pathfinder source for that ability/feat/trait on any of the usual websites or in my copy of the Shadows of Vathak campaign setting. There are multiple abilities that are similar, with the closest being "Death's Touch" for Bones Oracles or Grave Touch for Necromancy Wizards, but it's also possible that the writer inadvertently used a 3.x edition ability name by mistake. Since I do not know for sure what the intent was (and the feat appears to be way too powerful as-written), I would simply ban it as an option.

One of the core feats (acting as a prerequisite for 7 of the others) in this book is Blood Drinker, which grants a series of abilities related to drinking an enemy's blood, dealing 2 points of Constitution damage to the enemy and granting temporary hitpoints and a bonus to saves based on your own Constitution. Further feats add to these bonuses or otherwise alter the ability to be less restricted. As a balancing feature, the initial feat may only be used against a single subtype of (living) humanoids, but this may be expanded to animals, the recently deceased, monstrous humanoids or other humanoid subtypes. My only concern with this ability is that the Con damage and all of the bonuses appear to be automatically successful, so long as the actual bite attack connects. If you have a bite attack from another source, the blood-drinking is automatic and doesn't appear to take any time at all or have any cost, so a GM may find themselves picking different enemies to counter the tactic if this feat gets overused.

Bone Armor is a fantastic idea for a necromancer, but falls short mechanically. The idea is that you may encase yourself in bones forcefully drawn out of any dead bodies in the surrounding area, providing an armor bonus with no arcane spell failure chance of armor check penalty. Awesome! Except… it is limited to once per day, only provides +2 armor and only lasts a number of rounds equal to your level. The feat requires that you be a wizard so you will be able to cast mage armor, which grants +4 armor and lasts for 1 hour per level. Mechanically, why would you want to spend a feat on an inferior version of a level 1 spell? There is another feat in this book that upgrades the armor bonus to +4 but the duration is left untouched, so you're now potentially spending 2 feats on something that's still inferior to a level 1 spell. If the feat at least granted an automatic demoralize effect to any enemy that saw you use it, that would be something.

Perhaps the most confusing feat in this book is "Greater, Negative Energy Blast". To my eye, this feat may be read one of two ways: Either as "upgrading" a 1d8+1 per caster level (capped at 10d8+10) attack to a 1d6+2 per two caster levels (naturally capping at 10d6+20) attack; Or as granting an all-new ranged attack using the second set of numbers, but with no limit to the number of times per day it may be used.

Replicate the Divine appears to be partially broken. In theory, it's supposed to let an arcane caster use a single divine spell chosen from the Death domain as if they were a cleric of the appropriate level, in addition to their usual method of preparing and using it. Unfortunately, one of the prerequisites is that you have the ability to cast it as a divine spell. If you could already cast a divine version of one of those spells, why would you want to take a feat to allow yourself to cast that specific spell as if you were a cleric? If the writer had wanted the feat to be useful to arcane casters, the prerequisite should have been "ability to cast a spell that appears on the Death Domain spell list" instead of being "ability to cast divine spells from the Death Domain spell list".

Spirit Dissertation is interesting, but potential trouble for an unwary GM. The only prerequisite is that the character be a Dhampir, meaning that the feat could be taken at first level. It grants the supernatural ability to speak with dead, as the spell of the same name, once per day. This is a nice ability, but if you're playing a murder-mystery adventure at low levels, you may not want your 1st level players to have access to a 3rd level spell like this. I actually like this feat quite a bit, and don't have a problem with gaining early access to such an ability, considering how it is only useful in very specific situations.

Thirst For Blood is the last feat I take issue with on a technical level. It improves your bite attack by transferring a portion of their life force to you through the blood, effectively healing you a small amount. The only problem is that it does not grant you a bite attack or require that you already have one before taking the feat. It's a simple oversight, and I would hope that nobody would take a feat that they can't actually use, but better safe than sorry.

Thankfully, the list of feats I unequivocally like is much longer than the list I took issue with. In the interest of time, I'll briefly skim over them below.
• Augment Undead - Improves hp and Str of created undead
• Charming Gaze - Requires Shadows of Vathak, grants charm monster once per day
• Claws - Retractable claws that ignore some hardness.
• Crypt Lord - Increases the maximum size of your undead army.
• Energy Purge - Temporarily make yourself immune to positive and negative energies.
• Evil, Sense - Oddly formatted name aside, allows you to vaguely sense evil nearby.
• Forgettable - Allows you to bluff someone into forgetting what you were doing.
• Haunted Touch - Int mod per day spectral hand.
• Hypnotic Voice - Once per day hypnotism.
• Natural Charmer - Allows you to take 20 when using Charisma-based skills, within limits.
• Penitent of the Light - Increased morale while suffering the effects of light sensitivity.
• Sense Alignment - Full-round action to observe someone's alignment.
• Sense Invisibility - Full-round action to pinpoint an invisible creature.
• Shadow Servant - Split yourself from your shadow and send them out like an unseen servant.
• Shadow Stalker - Increased stealth effectiveness in dim light.
• True Seeing - Once per day, use a full-round action to grant 1 round of true seeing.
• Vampiric Senses - +2 Perception and gain the Scent ability.

Verdict: If you like Dhampirs already, you will almost definitely find a lot to like here, and if you don't like Dhampirs, there are some pretty great new feats that might change your mind. There are some issues I'd like to see cleaned up, but this book is mostly good.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Talents: Dhampir Feats for Shadows over Vathak
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