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Liber Xpansion (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:41:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion for Amora Game’s critically-acclaimed and criminally-underrated Liber Influxus Communis“-tome clocks in at a massive 98 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page thank you, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 91 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This was a long time coming and the heartfelt dedication in the front of the book to a friend who has passed, Ryan Warrick Cramer, makes for a touching beginning before we take a look at 2 new classes presented in the first chapter.

The first of which would be the adventurer, who gains d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light & medium armors and shields as well as ¾ BAB-progression. The saves of the class are determined at 1st level – may be chosen as good saves and the class also gets to choose 2 + Int-mod skills to add to the list of class skills. They also choose a so-called apprentice skill from Craft and Profession skills available (the skill references have not been properly capitalized) – At 8th level, the adventurer may always take 10 in that skill. At 12th level, the adventurer may always take 20 when using her apprentice skill. 16th level yields bonuses for chosen Profession apprentice skills or automatic masterworks for adventurers that chose Craft – oh, and actually quick non-magical crafting. Instead of using Diplomacy, they may also use the apprentice skill for bargaining at this level.

3rd level yields uncanny dodge, 9th level improved uncanny dodge and 5th level yields solo tactics. At 13th level, the adventurer may 1/day change a rolled 1 on a d20 into a 20 – I assume that is sans action required/as part of the roll, but it would be nice to have that specified. 17th level eliminates the ability score penalties incurred by old age.

You have probably guessed it: Yes, the adventurer is defined by more than these: The class sports several signature abilities, the first of which would be guild training: The adventurer chooses one of 5 different adventurer guilds, a choice that can later not be reversed. The guild chosen determines what is considered to be a Guild Feat for the class as well as the abilities gained by the class. The first of these would be the adventuring guild, who may, as a swift action, grant herself a luck bonus to a variety of rolls 4 + Charisma modifier times per day, which can be maintained as a free action and increases in potency at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Assassins may choose non-combat feats as Guild feats and receive +1d6 sneak attack, increasing that by +1d6 every three levels thereafter. Explorers are very front-heavy, gaining +10 ft. movement rate as well as swim and climb speeds equal to the movement rate, which is too dippable for my tastes. The Herculean guild gets a very restrictive Guild feat list, but increases HD to 10 (does this include 1st level?) and receives an adrenaline rush – basically a more flexible variant of rage that allows for the increase of +4 to a physical ability score, which can be freely divided in increments of +2, with progression of rounds available being adhering once again to a scaling formula. Finally, the woodsman guild gets the ranger traps and associated feats as well as skirmish, which provides a scaling dodge bonus after moving and at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, a scaling damage-boost during rounds he is moving.

Beyond these, the guilds do influence the available talents for the class, which are called advanced guild trainings. Additional advanced guild trainings are gained every 3 levels after 4th and run a wide variety of options. Not all of them are perfectly, executed, though – the option to get a SP with scaling daily uses does not differentiate between spell-lists, for example, and spell-list strength does diverge a bit. Another training deals with called shots and, while good enough, reduction of penalties as the one granted by the talent is usually phrased slightly differently. That being said, these represent mostly cosmetic hiccups – on the plus-side, we have fast stealth, increased speed while mounted, increased initiative while mounted (ouch in mythic gameplay). Interesting: Using Escape Artist instead of Acrobatics to avoid AoOs and for every 5 ranks, he automatically avoids an attack – while very strong, it is limited enough to make it an interesting offering and tying it to ranks prevents abuse…so yeah, nice one! That being said, there is one general talent that is broke: Scrap it. Without requiring an action, you can interpose your shield between an attack – it absorbs ALL damage from the attack, becoming broken. A second use destroys the shield. While the talent states explicitly that the damage thus caused cannot be repaired, this still needs some serious limitation. Get a bucketload of bucklers, end up basically invincible as long as you can take up new shields. Not cool.

Among the guild-specific options, we have evasion, 1/day immediate action use of a standard action, shield allies from Ref-based effects and the like. Assassins can select bleeding attacks, death attacks, HiPS…you get the idea. Explorers are a bit wonky, introducing in one ability the Piloting skill (not how that works…) and skill boosts. Herculean adventurers get limited daily-use instant knockout hits, upgrades for adrenaline rush and the like. Balancing and formatting here is wonky – levels instead of class levels, a talent that adds “1d8 + STR”[sic!] damage to bull rushes– there are some serious hiccups here, some of which influence the integrity of the rules…which is REALLY weird, for at the same time, e.g. an option to mitigate adrenaline rush’s cooldown is presented precisely. Finally, woodsmen get favorite terrain, camouflage and a skirmish upgrade with a d12-table of conditions you can randomly cause – these range from feeble to save-or-suck…and frankly, I think the ability should have been cut up into a tree or offer some scaling for the ability, with the more potent options unlocking later. The guilds btw. also determine the capstone the class gets.

Finally, it should be noted that 2nd level yields best guess, a means to determine a ton of information via Survival.

The second class presented herein would be the gun adept hybrid class, a blend of Bard/magus and gunslinger, who gains d8 HD, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and firearms as well as light armor and does not incur spell failure while in light armor. The class gains spontaneous Charisma-based arcane spellcasting of up to 6th level, drawing spells from the bard’s list, ¾ BAB-progression and good Ref-saves. The class receives Gunsmith at 1st level and uses the gun thus gained as a focus, which allows the class to eschew components with a price of 100 gp or less, but as a kind of bonded object, casting without it is problematic. The arcane gun can be used to fire spells, not unlike my own etherslinger’s design – there are limits here in place, making only spells that require an attack roll (oddly listing cone and line spells in the same line as the attack structure, which is a bit weird since these usually are opposed by a saving throw) and adds the gun’s enhancement bonus as a bonus to spell DC. There is a mitigating risk to this power, though: When channeling a spell through the gun thus and you roll a 1 on the attack roll or a target succeeds a save with a natural 20, the gun becomes broken.

2nd level yields nimble, which increases in power every 4 levels thereafter, with 3rd level netting the option to channel spell levels into bullets, increasing the damage output of the gun by +1d6 per level. sigh Because slingers needed damage boosts. Also weird “magic damage” – considering the plethora of damage types available in PFRPG, this make-belief type is weird to see. And no, this was not for the purpose of DR interaction, for the ability precisely notes the interaction with that component. However, rune bullets do cost +1 gp and etching them while adventuring strains the eyes, providing a penalty to ranged atk. Alchemical bullets cannot be made into rune bullets and firing rune bullets via guns other than the arcane gun increases the misfire rate by 3. 4th level provides the option to have multiple arcane guns – if he instead specializes on one gun, the gun adept gains an x3 multiplier for spell critical, which is very, very potent.

Starting at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the gun adept gets an RBE – a rune bullet effect. There are three categories: Bullet effects add e.g. alignment effects, energy damage, etc. As a minor gripe: The deafening effect of thunder bullets – does the aura center on the target of the bullet or the gun adept? Trick shots provide the utility tricks – counterspell shots, for example – some nice tricks here including soft crowd control with creature drawing/pulling! Thirdly, there are so-called “whiskey” tricks, which affect the gun adept. Contained in this section would be bayonet charges that add a second firing attack to the charge…which is a bit weird, in that it does not precisely codify how firing the gun and charging/AoOs etc. interact. From named bullets to pistol-whipping, there are so interesting options here.

Starting at 7th level, fighter feats may be chosen as bonus feats, with 12th level providing another one. 9th level allows for the imbuing of a spell in a rune bullet, causing a “duel[sic!] effect” – there are some more typos here and the ability isn’t, alas, as concise as I’d like it to be. The bonus damage caused by rune bullets in such a case is reduced, at least until 19th level.

15th level provides an AoO for the gun adept whenever a spell within reach (should be RANGE) of the gun is cast; this is executed after the spell’s “complete” – whatever that means. I get what this is supposed to do, but RAW, it does not work. 20th level provides auto-crit for arcane gun, spells and rune bullets (WTF) and an increased critical multiplier. Double WTF. Even for 20th level, that’s overkill. At the same time, the rune bullet crafting process is depicted in surprising detail, so kudos.

All in all, the gun adept makes for a take on the trope that almost gets it right – the ideas, chassis etc. are cool, but the damage-escalation is BRUTAL and it does not help that the class fails to limit the spells that can be channeled through the gun to class spells. A good rules-editor fixing some aspects of this could have made it into one of the best gunslinger-options, but RAW it is, pardon the bad pun, a pretty raw offering. …yeah, will punch myself for this one later.

Anyways, that’s it for the first chapter of the book – hereafter, we dive into archetypes and class options, starting with Michael Sayre’s great Battle Lord. The Dual Specialist would be a meaningful engine-tweak, which loses divine aura, dual command and some combat drills in favor of being able to gain training benefits from a specialty he did not choose. Warchiefs would be a Cha-based chaotic variant of the class – instead of associating bonus feats with combat drills, he employs rage powers to grant to allies – who, alas, may not execute Dex and Int-based skills while the drill is active. Dual command is moved to 16th level and 8th instead yields a +4 morale bonus to Strength and +2 to Will-saves for allies affected by drills – however, no three-fold command. The archetype also gains a variant capstone…and is really cool, potent and mechanically PRECISE. The final archetype for the class would be the zealot, who is Wisdom-based and exchanges 4th and 16th level’s combat drills for channel energy, with 5th level providing Channel Smite and 16th level adding negative effects to channel smite. Meaningful, fun engine-tweak – and once again, precise and well-made.

The Conduit gets a full-blown alternate class version, the siphon, who, instead of absorbing magic, basically acts as an absorbing battery for psionics. As a minor complaint here – last time I checked, there was no psionic damage type. The rays they can fire from absorbed energy increase their ranges, with higher levels providing means to expend siphoned power points to activate unique talents – Pretty cool: These get unique displays, enhancing the flavor component here. I am, as a whole, pretty excited by this variant – and in a really cool twist, 10th level provides an important choice that radically alters how the class plays – either the base engine is retained, or the class changes how it works by gaining access to the option to absorb latent energy of nearby psionics – as a whole, an impressive variant that includes proper rules-language for interaction with psionic items etc. There are some minor hiccups on an editing point, with e.g. “longer” missing from “no ages or requires sleep…”

Metamorphs get a variety of new evolutions that include integrated blasters for construct phenotypes, blood drain, energy drain, jinxs, gliding, powerful leaps, with e.g. jinx building on exceptional luck. An upgrade for sores should imho have a cool-down or cap to prevent the spamming of poisonous spores. Nice, on the other hand – some Technology Guide support here! A new feat lets you expend vitality surges to temporarily gain an evolution worth 1 point per 5 levels (should probably be metamorph levels). The Bionicist archetype would btw. be the dedicated Technology Guide option for the class. The blob is cooler – an ooze metamorph, who gains basically fortification-style abilities and the higher level option to spawn oozelings – basically damaging terrain that can, at higher levels, be used for short-range teleportation. Doopelmorphs would be, in case you were wondering, metamorphs that focus on doppelganger-style human impersonation. Ever-changing metamorphs may change their forms daily, but has less evolution points. Necromorphs replace vitality surge with the option to gain a temporary hit point pool in addition to other temporary hit points, explicitly stacking – this is extremely cheesable, effectively doubling your hit points. While the temporary hit points are not tied to damage, but to positive hit points reduced, this only means you’ll need more kittens to suck dry when recharging your shield…and the temp hit point maximum thus gained is btw. = maximum hit points. Yeah, not gonna happen in my game.

The mnemonic section begins with a bit of errata (which not in the base book?) and comes with two archetypes. The first would be the Dan Tien, who uses Int instead of Str to determine unarmed strike damage output. Instead of the signature memory theft and wipe, the class gains the option to enter into a battle trance that provides a means to increase damage and atk as well as threat range (RAW stacks with other effects, which is something I don’t tend to enjoy) – the ability does not add the benefit to crit confirmations and instead rewards multiple critical hits with stacking untyped bonuses. I’d be complaining much louder here, if the trance had no succinct cap per day. Instead of photographic reflexes, we get an ability intended to mimic other attacks, which becomes problematic with attack-like abilities, natural attacks and the like. The class also gets a thought strike-based parry, defensive roll, etc. Solid, as a whole, though it did not blow me away. The second archetype, the sensei, replaces photographic reflexes with the ability to impart copied moves to allies – the wording that the ability is basically renamed here and that the uses still are used as resource could have been a bit clearer here. When using retraining rules, the sensei can also be really quick and helpful as a kind of omni-teacher.

Mystics gets new talents, both increased ranges and advanced talents that e.g. include flame-based propulsion. The class, alas, hasn’t aged too well, with the release of the kineticist since then…The dual energy tricks available here are okay, though. The extensionist is a basic engine tweak and sports a couple of sentences, where the structure seems to be wonky. “she must decided[sic!]” and the like. The Musha-Chie archetype is a psionic mystic, basically a psychic warrior crossover, who gets to use ki as power points, among other things. Not bad, but also not the most impressive of crossover options.

The pauper class was the weakest in the original LIC, and this book does help a bit, providing three proper guiding means to determine the gain of hope and despair with concise paths. The absolver archetype can gain despair by listening to sorrow or hope when delivering motivational speeches – this is pretty roleplaying-based, but yeah. On a more annoying note: assumption of sins fails to specify whether it is powered by hope or despair. Cool: They can transfer negative conditions and later provide atonements, for example. The conduit of futures is weird, being able to share their hope and despair abilities with nearby allies. While the rules-language is okay, it could be more precise here. Mastermind paupers are despair specialists, rationalists get emotion and logic pools (though not much beyond that is done with the cool concept) and taleweavers have pretty much free control of whether to gain hope or despair…which begs to question why to use the base class in the first place.

The survivor gets new tactics to add in surprise rounds or poach some adventurer tricks. The contender archetype loses the safe passage options to ally aiding. He also gains the option to substitute a scaling damage for unarmed strikes or grapples – though the formatting here is not as it should be, sporting cosmetic deviations. The archetype may use safe passage uses to suspend a scaling array of negative conditions…and unfortunately taps into the somewhat problematic herculean adventurer abilities, while also gaining a few new tricks to choose from.

The synergist begins with an errata (again –should be in the base book) as well as two archetypes: The echo declares a member of her cast as foil and chooses success or failure, basing synergy points on the performance of that foil, with higher levels providing more foils. Instead of complementary skills, nearby ability score modifiers of allies may be used and when multiple members of the cast roll the same number for a skill check or attack roll, the echo gains a bonus – which is pretty creative! All in all, one of the more interesting archetypes herein. Vagarist casts gain bonuses when failing as a whole, penalties when succeeding as a whole, comparing total combat performance. Via schadenfreude, they may base synergy on failures of foes in a surprisingly complex, interesting engine-tweak, which also extends to vagaries and subsequent abilities – once again, a rather interesting option that changes how the class works in a meaningful manner. The umbra’s missing smoke demiplane has been reproduced herein as well.

The warloghe class gains new taboos to provide some spellcasting – I assume for the choice made to enter a binding pact, since the spellcasting option already has spell access (and the binding pact option can use it…) There is a pretty cool option to animate terrain to provide creepy distractions that can be directed and even cause damage…it has a DC sans noting for what and is “damaging (1d6 hit points)” –that is not rules-language. Similar issues extend to poltergeist hurling of objects, which fail to specify if the attack roll required is ranged or melee. 3 twisted spirits are provided: The bhuta, who gets summon nature’s ally SPs and wild shape (boring), the poltergeist, which grants thematic spell options and shadow, which is the most complex of the 3, granting a shadow companion and providing an array of pretty interesting options. The class also comes with the twisted husk archetype, who gains basically a nasty, possessed armor and slightly increased martial prowess – a rather nice archetype, as a whole, though it loses the spirit binding options.

The new warsmith designs have some cool visuals: What about making nails etc. glow red hot? Yeah, cool…but the pdf fails to clarify the action economy of the design – the ability-group does not have a default, using attacks, skill uses, etc. as reference and basis for active abilities in the original…unfortunately, not the only design suffering from this. That being said: While such hiccups annoy the heck out of me, at the same time, this gets killing folks with the shrapnel of sundered weapons (!!!), in conjunction with edifice recognition, right. Highly complex operation and it works. Even has the anti-abuse caveat. Anatomist warsmiths get sneak attack as well as some field healing style abilities and sports solid, non-magical healing. Gunsmiths replace edifice recognition and Improved Sunder with an experimental firearm and learn to modify the firearm to have a larger capacity, operate recoilless, fire rune bullets. The ironclad takes plates and connects them to his body, getting armor-rules right there. No idea what this “bashing damage” the archetype references is supposed to be, though. The new designs complement the archetype with alloyed skin, an enchantable arm that can be used as both shield and weapon at once…Runesmiths have one unbolded ability that should be bolded – it states that the archetype uses Wisdom as governing attribute. The archetype also gains runes which may be learned in lieu of designs. The runes are interesting and well-presented as a whole.

If you haven’t noticed by now – no, we do not get new demiurge options, alas.

The book does contain several options for non-LIC-classes – the armiger magus provides minor boosts via the inscription of his crest and also gets a nice arcane heraldry ability – flavorful, but I wish it did something more interesting with its idea of using the special mark that denotes the weaponry. Battle sapper rangers are pretty damn cool, gaining the ability to place satchels of explosives that have been tightly and concisely defined, representing the trope rather well. Like it! Battle Sorceror…wait. Sound familiar? Yep, the book contains the archetypes from the Prepare for War Basic Training Manual, though not all of them.

I’m not going to go through all of these in detail once more. Ironskin slayers get d4 sneak attacks, but may target creatures benefiting from concealment with sneak and they basically represent heavy armor-wearing slayers that retain some mobility. The qigong ninja is pretty self-explanatory. Sleep peddler witches are locked into dreaming as patron and get a pretty OP ability: At-will standard action sleep – which also provides healing for willing targets if they sleep long enough. Problem – this is clearly supposed to be a hex, but not designated as such – hence activation and range are opaque. Basically a better slumber hex. Yeah, not sold.

The book also provides a massive array of new feats for extra class feature uses, etc. Some are pretty strong – like Follow Through, which nets you an AoO against another foe upon missing with an attack. Meditation feats from Amora Game’s stand-alone releases have also been included here. Alas, their rules language hasn’t been cleaned up.

The last chapter is devoted to prestige classes, collecting several previously released options like the beast hunter, breaker, centurion, meta adept, tavern brawler, toxicologist. There are new 10-level PrCs herein, but considering the epic length this review already sports, I’ll be pretty brief

The forged is basically a construct-apotheosis guy. He is decent, though e.g. “bashing” damage and similar hiccups can be found – and I’ve seen this done before in a variety of more flexible ways. Ki Scions are pretty solid elemental monks. Long Gunners can be utterly OP, treating their sniper shots as an automatic critical threat. It also scales up critical multiplier insanely high – x6 at level 10. OP and ridiculous damage-escalation. Finally, the wild shot is basically a pistol specialist. The section also suffers from more editing glitches and instances of improper declinations and the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the issues of this book, at least in significant sections. As the work of many authors, the different skill-levels and rules-language precision of the authors become very much evident when reading this book. There are some aspects, where highly complex abilities work precisely and to the point…and then, something simple is botched. This may also be due to inconsistent rules-editing, perhaps focusing only on the complicated parts. I don’t know and I frankly haven’t seen this before. "Inconsistent" is probably the best way to describe this. There is no way past noticing that this is a serious detriment for the book. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid pieces of full-color stock art. Big minus in the comfort department – the pdf has NO BOOKMARKS. For a book of this size, that is a jarring, jarring downside.

Greg LaRose, Adam Boucher, Andrew Boucher, Brian Moran, Christie Hollie, Ismael Alvarez, Justin Ragan, Kevin Bond, Ryan Bond, Michael Sayre, Morgan Boehringer, Sasha Hall and Wojciech Gruchala’s Liber Xpansion is a book I waited for with baited breath. In fact, one reason you haven’t seen this review sooner was that I was hoping for at least the bookmarks to be included. Or for another editing pass.

…damn. I LOVE the Liber Influxus Communis. I so wanted to love this as well. When I saw the “Ultimate Psionics Compatible”-logo on this book, my mind went BOOM! The possibilities! Tactician/battlelord-crossovers! Dread or cryptic mnemonics! Marksman battlelords! Oh, and all the untapped potential of LIC’s classes! Hybrid-y options for standard classes, expansions…there is a whole, vast world of untapped potential in these cool engines.

Some of the options in this book manage to reach these lofty expectations, providing nice, new material in the precision I wanted to see. The bad news is that the pdf doesn’t reach these levels of quality and coolness too often. While the LIC pretty much blew me away all the time, this book mostly felt like “only” a good expansion…when it worked. The inclusion of the previously-released material is nice, but I frankly wished these files had received another editing pass on both a rules- and proofing-level.

The good news here is that, generally, the material works – you won’t have to guess (often) how something is supposed to work and the adventurer class, while not perfect and with its own hiccups, can be considered to be mostly solid…but much like the gun adept and the rest of the book, it feels like…it almost got it right. This, to me, feels like a marathon, where you falter on the final stretch. As a rules-dev, I can literally see what it’d take to make this whole book be a good, perhaps even a very good offering. It is so damn close it breaks my heart. If you’re feeling up to the task, try your hand – it’s not an expensive book for the page-count, after all.

Still, this is a very flawed book…only, it’s not consistently flawed. Some parts of it are. The typos, proofing hiccups, rules-glitches, they are not persistent or constant, but they accumulate. On the other hand, we have some gems, even some innovation herein – though not even close to the extent that the LIC provided these. The whole book, ultimately, falls short of its vast promise.

…that being said, I have a responsibility to my readers and I can’t just close my eyes to the copious amounts of lack that define formal aspects of the book.

The lack of further refinement for the previously-released, compiled material, the lack of bookmarks for a book of this size, the lack of precise and unifying rules-language editing (you can’t tell me that “+ STR” in a text doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb; or that copy-replacing “bashing damage” for “bludgeoning damage” is a big deal) – there, the book falters.

This review breaks my heart. The adventurer on its own would be a 3.5 or 4-star class as is, it has all the makings of a 5-star-class if its few hiccups get cleaned up. Similarly, there are options herein worthy of 4 or 5 stars…but also a lot that simply does not live up to this level.

Do yourself a favor and get Liber Influxus Communis. It is a great, creative book full of cool, advanced classes by some of the most talented 3pp-designers. From Survivor to Demiurge, there is something for everyone, for those that prefer simple classes to those that enjoy super-complex monsters. It is inspired in all the right ways and I really cherish my print copy.

As for this book, I can’t unanimously recommend it – if you really liked the LIC and feel up to the task of doing some tinkering, you may get some cool stuff out of this…but I can’t rate this higher than 2.5 stars…and frankly, I should round down. However, there are some pieces of content herein that simply do not deserve this – it is for these gems that I will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Liber Xpansion (PFRPG)
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Art of War: Youxia
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/07/2017 16:59:01

An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review:

This week we’re looking over Art of War: Youxia; a hybrid class of samurai and unchained monk. Right away, I have to say that this is a different set of classes than I expected to see smashed together. With a d10 hit die and decent starting gold, our opening is pretty standard for something like this, giving us a role and letting us know that this is going to be another ki based class. We’re picking up a decent skill list with 4 ranks per level (thank god it’s not 2), and the normal monk weapons along with light and medium armor.

We get a pretty standard suite of bonus feats ala the monk side of thing, as well as picking up samurai’s resolve, so at the moment it feels pretty same-y along with the standard monk unarmed strike material. I will admit I like gaining the ki pool at 2nd level, as the monk felt like a class that needed to be 3rd level to be played fully. As someone who doesn’t like parry being as limited as it is normally, I really do appreciate being able to burn ki on that. Like it’s a straight swashbuckler lift, but hey, I like it.

Sadly we get to just wholesale stealing ki powers, which hey, it works, but at the same time, it removes a lot of unique design space that could have been utilized here. A lot of space could have been saved here by saying “see unchained monk ki powers for more information.” Also slightly odd that we have to get to the bottom of page 5 before we see the class’s table.

After this, we see the same class just pulling advanced weapon training and weapon mastery feats from the fighter class, which makes this feel like more of a monk/fighter hybrid instead of monk/samurai, as only resolve was pillaged from the samurai class.

It appears that we’re also getting a new skill here, meditate, that is going to factor into future products. I can’t really judge it by that though, so I’ll talk about how it plays into this class. It basically boils down to a way to ignore some debuffs for pretty low DCs (turning nausea into staggered effectively for DC 20), basically making it a powerful defensive skill. Out of the next section, the only content that really caught my eye was the signature ki feat, something that lets you reduce the ki cost of a ki power/technique by 1, but it cannot lower it below 1, making more expensive techniques manageable.

Beyond here we see more conversation of things that have been planned for the line along with more reprinted content, this time in the way of style feats. It’s thankfully not all reprints though, actually adding in some new styles to the mix with the interesting ‘sub style’ feats for existing style feats. Vermillion has some things I don’t like (needing to know your opponent’s strength score and saying a single attack at your highest base attack bonus rather than just attack action), but I enjoy the final part of it, as well as just the concept of being able to take different paths down a style tree.

I want to like phoenix style more, but it’s just very resource intensive for too little reward. That’s an issue with cockatrice style too, as while I like where it’s going, it’s going to require fighter tier feat acquisition to use it to its fullest. Desert Scorpion is odd in that it reduces your effective size, which could have been nice if it didn’t affect your damage. The fact that you have to go through the chain to undo these penalties is not consolation enough to use them.

Southern scorpion actually bucks the trend and makes for a much more engaging combat experience with how it plays out, although I really don’t like that it gives a deflection bonus as I’d rather see that as a dodge or shield bonus. Aside from that though, it’s pretty nice, definitely something I could see myself taking. Leopard style is another that I found myself liking due to how it plays with ability damage, although the excessive saving throws needed here can get exhausting. Manticore style is also another that I like, even if it’s a pretty easy way to sicken someone. It’s definitely a cool way of making throwing weapons more interesting.

I want to like mirror style, but it seems like hell to adjudicate at a table, stealing style feats and such. It’s far more meta than I’m comfortable with myself, and while it’s not ‘bad’, it is the kind of thing that could aid in immersion breaking, as you need to ask a lot of questions while using it.

Mechanics: 3.5/5

The class is easily the weakest part of this document, but it’s not terrible. It’s a hodge podge of other class’s mechanics, but the way that it’s put together certainly makes it better than the samurai. As a martial character, it will run you well enough, but no one running this class should get angry if they’re just called monk or fighter while doing it, because that’s very much what it is. Some of the style feats are what really drew my interest, which along with an okay class made for a decent experience. I really wish we’d gotten some archetypes, favored class bonuses, or just other small tweaks that would have made this class really stand out, give it a little more personality.

Thematics: 3/5

It really did feel as though this book is intended to be run as a part of a setting heavily incorporating style feats, and to me, that’s a cool idea. What drew me out of it though was the reprints which took up at least 1/3 of the book. I do feel like more content in the setting could help out a lot in getting across a much more vibrant picture, but as far as it stands, there was just enough to keep me out of truly embracing the idea that I can’t go higher.

Final Thoughts: 3/5

The youxia is an entirely serviceable class, but it takes no chances whatsoever, making it hard to remember in the grand scheme of pathfinder. Greg LaRose’s class is fine, but that’s as much as I could praise it, as I prefer to see more daring design choices made with hybrids rather than a smashing of two classes together. I feel like more chances could have been taken here, and in the future, I’d like to see something a good bit more unique from this author, as their creativity really showed in the concept of sub schools for style feats as well as a decent number of said said schools.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Art of War: Youxia
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2017 07:37:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The D&D 5e-conversion of the Moe Races clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

"When the kami placed their thumbprint unto the forehead of man, breathing life into the husks of flesh, they wept tears of sorrow. Looking upon their children playing upon the ground, rolling in the fields of grass and running alone through lush tracks of wilderness, the Kami felt the hollowness of the human heartbeat, thumping alone." This is the beginning of the legend that talks of the creation of the kemonomimi, and it is but the beginning of a rather flavorful origin-myth, which continues to provide an interesting look at the respective sub-races of kemonomimi, all of which receive their own entry.

For those among my 5e-favoring readers concerned about conversion and detail, it should be noted that the racial entries mirror those in the PHB - that is, we get ample of flavor text as well as suggestions for which class to choose. The Akaimimi (red panda) increase Wisdom by 2 and Constitution by 1, are Medium, have a normal speed and gain darkvision as well as animal affinity towards red pandas and similar beasts - all kemonomimi-subtypes receive the affinity for their respectively aligned animals, just fyi. Similarly, they all have darkvision 60 ft.

Akaimimi may cast augury as an innate spell, recharging that on a long rest, with 10th level adding 1/week divination. You can spend this augury to ask questions to perform a specific task, granting benefits equal to guidance to yourself or another when performing it. Nice one! The race may also choose Arcana, Hisory, Nature or religion to gain proficiency in.

The araiguma (raccoon) kemonomimi increase Con by 2 and Int by 1, are Medium and beyond the standard kemonomimi abilities, they gain proficiency in either thieves' tools or Slight of Hand and may determine the next source of water as if using locate object. Similarly, they may purify food by washing it in fresh water, as the ritual. Nice.

The Inumimi, the dog kemonomimi, increase Strength by 2 and Wisdom by 1 and gain proficiency in Handle Animal or Survival in addition to the usual animal affinity and darkvision. The inumimi gain advantage on saves versus curses, hexes and similar abilities that bring bad luck and extend this benefit to adjacent allies. The fox-like Kitsunemimi increase their Intelligence by 2 and their Dexterity by 1 and may choose either Insight or Perception proficiency-wise. Their unique ability beyond the basics would be cunning planner: During a short or long rest, the character can plan for a specifc situation defined as either the kitsunemimi taking a declared action to affect a designated subject or such a subject taking an action against the kitsunemimi. Upon the conditions coming into play, you can add +1d4 to a relevant roll. The ability can be changed condition-wise in a short rest if not triggered; if triggered, it requires a long rest to recharge. Pretty cool!

The Nekomimi (based on cats, in case you're Japanese is rusty) increase Dexterity by 1 and Charisma by 2 and skill-proficiency-wise may choose either Athletics or Acrobatics. They may reroll a single dice roll, with a long rest to recharge. Tanukimimi (you guessed it - based on tanuki) increase Con by 2 and Cha by 1 and choose either Stealth or Survival as proficiency. As a bonus action, they can grant themselves character level + Constitution bonus temporary hit points, with a long rest to recharge.

The ahre-based Usagimimi receive an increase of Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom yb 1 and gain proficiency of a tool of their choice and one additional language and take only half as long to learn the use of either. They can perform the Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Search actions as a bonus action. Alternatively, they may use a bonus action to attack with a weapon they made themselves. This ability recharges after a short or long rest.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good, though the respective ability-headers are not italicized. Layout adheres to a pretty printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice and cute artworks for the respective Kemonomimi. With the Nekomimi as an exception, the artworks have to my knowledge not been used in pdfs apart from the other editions of this book, which is fair game. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment, though they are not required at this length.

Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose deliver a more than solid, well-made conversion of the kemonomimi to 5e here. The balance of the respective races is on par with the races of the PHB and every type of kemonomimi herein does have at least one unique trick that sets the race apart. It's also nice to see that the animal affinities for more combat related critters (dogs and cats) have obviously influenced the balancing of the respective races. As far as I'm concerned, what's in here is pretty internally consistent, with the usagimimi's pretty powerful skittish bonus action tricks making up for the relatively subdued crafting aspect of 5e in comparison to PFRPG.

In short - this is pretty much an excellent example on how to make a good conversion. Much like its PFRPG-brother, the pdf only covers the base races, though. Supplemental material cannot be found herein, we just get the nice fluff and the similarly nice races. As a whole, this is worth getting and can be considered to be a solid addition to 5e-gaming. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
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Kemonomimi - Moe Options (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/20/2017 09:58:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little expansion for Amora Game's Moe races clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, for one, we begin with alternate racial traits - three universal ones would be provided; the affinity with the respective animals can be replaced with affinity with creatures of the kami subtype; similarly, another exchange allows for kemonomimi who have an easier time dealing with oni. Thirdly, low-light vision may be replaced with 60 ft. darkvision, but at the cost of being dazzled in bright lights.

Akaimimi with Wisdom scores of 11+ may replace racial skills and insightful question with 1/day SPs, namely detect psychic significance, guidance and mindlink. Replacing knowledge bonuses with +2 to Bluff and Sense Motive can also be found. Finally, insightful question can be replaced with a permanent undetectable alignment that reads them as neutral - which is strong, but pretty cool.

Araiguma can replace dowsing with better resistance versus ingested nastiness and the option to smell processed food at range as well as being able to function longer sans food. If an araiguma also replaces the racial skills, he can gain 1/day ghost sound, prestidigitation, vanish as SPs and thirdly, Escape Artist and Swim may be substituted for the usual skill bonuses.

Inumimi can similarly replace their skill bonuses with Heal and Spellcraft. Their SP-exchange-trait can net them alarm, protection from evil, resistance and thirdly, better atk, damage and SR-penetration versus oni as well as crit SR-negation complement the options presented here, but the more powerful options swallow repel misfortune.

Kitsunemimi may replace patient planner with the option to announce two actions when they ready; either may trigger the action, which is pretty cool. Their skill-exchange trait nets Diplomacy and Linguistics, the SP-trait covers 1/day mending, message and pass without trace. The nekomimi's SP-trait nets deathwatch, disrupt undead and touch of fatigue. Instead of fortune's favored, they gain concealment below 0 hit points, total concealment when dying and may 17day become incorporeal as a result to suffering a death effect. Pretty powerful - the second trait replaced forzune's favored would allow 3/day reroll of all damage dice with a spell, attack, etc. - imho, this may be a bit too strong for what it replaces.

The tanukimimi 's skill-change trait nets Appraise and UMD, with charm animal, daze and lullaby being the respective SPs for the SP-granting trait. The third alternate racial trait nets Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Grapple in exchange for the skills, which is hefty per se...but all classes for which this would usually be powerful have at least one built-in already, so I'm still okay with this.

The Usagimimi's SP-trait nets create water, prestidigitation and unseen servant, with the skill replacement trait providing +2 to Acrobatics and Ride instead of the usual benefits. The third alternate racial trait provides Improved Sunder as a bonus feat and lets spells and abilities ignore two points of hardness - overall, a pretty powerful exchange.

The pdf's final page contains 6 new feats:

-Convoluted Plan: This allows you to draw up 3/day a complex plan with up to Int-mod triggering conditions, in complexity comparable to a readied action or contingency (not italicized in the text); when said conditions trigger, you gain + Int-mod to a selection of checks potentially associated with that action and yes, the wording gets active and reactive conditions tightly and correctly codified. Nice one.

-Heritage of a Celestial Beast: Nets at-will detect kami. When cloaked in an illusion of an animal associated with your yokai ancestor, or polymorphed into such, you are harder to disbelief and wild shapes into the corresponding form can be activated as a swift action. However, this and the next feat are mutually exclusive.

-Heritage of a Mortal Man: No longer take a penalty to Disguise to pass as human and you gain the human subtype. Not even divinations detect you as anything but human. Similarly, illusions, alter self and similar effects that transform you into a humanoid form are harder to disbelief.

-Inspiring Tenacity: When using surprising tenacity, allies that can see or hear you within 30 ft. "temporarily gain hit points" equal to half character level + Cha-mod. Per se cool, though an explicit duration would have made sense here, considering the feat's temp hit points are their own effect. Also adds +1 daily use of surprising tenacity.

-Shout at the Oni!: As a swift action, you may suppress a fear effect that would otherwise prevent you from acting properly, for a total number of daily rounds equal to Con-mod. If you have access to ki, you can spend 1 ki per round to keep activating it. Nice one.

-Eye for the Fortune's Smile: Automatically notice luck bonuses on people as well as the ability to influence luck. You recognize when a random event was hampered with by luck and may use the corresponding racial ability +1/day. Really cool and has serious narrative potential.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with nice full-color artworks from the original pdf strewn in. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Wojciech Gruchala delivers a fun and inexpensive expansion for the kemonomimi-races here, one that allows for the customization I wanted to see. While many of the alternate racial traits provide basically one skill and one SP-exchange trait, the SPs themselves are well-chosen and unique. Similarly, the third option usually does something fun and uncommon. The feats also are thankfully bereft of filler-material. Now, granted, I can complain about e.g. the SPs not being of the precise same strength, but I'd ultimately be stretching for something to nitpick. This is a nice, well-made and unpretentious little pdf, ultimately well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the low and very fair price point. If you like the kemonomimi, then this is pretty much a no-brainer.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Options (PFRPG)
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/04/2016 16:33:59

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Dungeons & Dragons 5e opens some interesting options for character race by opening seven races of animal spirit touched beings for use as characters. While they certainly will not be to the taste of every player, or fit in every campaign, there are some good and useful ideas here that are worth taking a look at if animal-themed races have a place in your game world.

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Dungeons & Dragons 5e by Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose and published by Amora Game presents the seven new subraces of the Kemononmimi, animal spirits given human form to aid humanity. The layout is clear with color artwork illustration for each of the different type of Kemononmimi.

Simply put the Kemononmimi are animal spirits that were given human form to aid, guide and protect humanity. For example, the Inumimi (dog spirits) were tasked as guardians and the Akaimimi (red panda spirits) are to help humankind in its spiritual and meditative journey. They all share darkvision, an affinity for the animals their spirits reflect but otherwise have statistic and skill bonuses to reflect their personalities and assigned role. It seems to me that the universal traits could have been placed at the beginning of the descriptions rather than fully repeated for each but that is a minor layout issue.

For the right campaign niche, they could be quite interesting to encounter in game and the animal-person vibe will appeal to some players. Though some DM guideline on divination might not have been a bad call as the Akaimimi gain supernatural insight in the form of the Augury spell once a day, and if you give a player character a free use of Augury each day, they are going to use it. The other spirits all have their own themes as well with the effect that there is a subrace of the Kemononmimi here for most player styles.

If this product has a weakness is that it is only the Kemononmimi, no backgrounds or other support material is provided to allow for quick, thematic character generation.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2016 09:29:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages, so let's take a look!

"When the kami placed their thumbprint unto the forehead of man, bretahing life into the husks of flesh, they wept tears of sorrow. Looking upon their children playing upon the ground, rolling in the fields of grass and running alone through lush tracks of wilderness, the Kami felt the hollowness of the human heartbeat, thumping alone." This is the beginning of the legend that talks of the creation of the kemonomimi, and it is but the beginning of a rather flavorful origin-myth, which is subsequently enhanced via age, height and weight tables before diving into the respective races.

Each of the racial write-ups comes with information on physical descriptions of the races, their society, relations, alignment and religion and adventurers as well as with, obviously, racial traits. However, beyond these, neither favored class options nor racial feats or traits are provided, making the depiction in each case rather minimalistic. On an aesthetically positive note, each of the races does come with one or two original piece of full-color artwork (exceptions: Fox and Tanuki-based races...but then again, for the former, Everyman Gaming's numerous Kitsune-artworks should do the trick). All of the races share the kemonomimi subtype and are humanoids, in case you were wondering.

The red panda-based Akaimimi get +2 Con and Wis, low-light vision, +2 racial bonus to Knowledge checks, +4 to Handle Animal and Wild Empathy-checks made to influence red pandas and similar creatures and 1/day augury as a SP (on a nitpicky aside: Not properly italicized). Interesting: The SP can be cast by akaimimi with ki pool (also not italicized, but then, italicizing ki never made sense to me) additional times by expending ki. At 10th level, they also unlock 1/week divination.

The raccoon-based Araiguma get +2 Con and Int, low-light vision, +2 to Disable Device and Sleight of Hand, the same Handle Animal/wild empathy-bonus to influence raccoon-ish creatures and they can use dowsing to lead them to fresh water; By washing food (but not water), they can purify it...which is pretty clever and cool as an idea!

Inumimi, based on dogs, gain +2 Str and Wis, low-light vision, Handle Animal/wild empathy affinity with canine creatures, +2 to Handle Animals and Survival and they are resilient against curses, gaining a +2 bonus to saves against them. This bonus extends to adjacent allies, though multiple such bonuses do not stack. Nice one!

Kitsunemimi, obviously based on foxes, get +2 Dex and Int, low-light vision, +2 to Perception and Sense Motive, fox affinity and a +1 bonus whenever they take 10, +2 when they take 20. Again, a unique racial ability. Basically, think of these guys as more down-to-earth fox folk that work well in campaigns where kitsune are a bit too much.

Nekomimi, based on cats, gain +2 Dex and Cha, low-light vision, +2 to Climb and Perception, cat affinity and may reroll a single die roll 1/day, thanks to their luck. Nice variant of the catfolk trope!

The tanukimimi, based on the tanuki, gain +2 Con and Cha, low-light vision, +2 to Survival and Stealth, tanuki affinity and can gain, 1/day as a swift action, temporary hit points equal to their character level + Constitution bonus (EDIT: The author has contacted me and told me that the pdf's "bonus" is indeed intended here instead of the more common "modifier" - which is pretty rare, but not unknown. So, negative Con-mod is not applied here. Just fyi!) - these last for 1 hour. Neat one!

Finally, the Usagimimi, the harefolk, gain +2 Dex and Wis, low-light vision, +2 to Craft and Profession checks, hare affinity and they gain +1 to atk and skill checks (not rolls) with weapons, tools and vehicles they crafted as well as +1 CL when using scrolls and potions they made. They also reduce the armor check penalty of armors they crafted by 1 and increase the earnings of Perform and Profession by 10%.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. On a formal level, there is nothing grievous to complain, and while on the rules-level there are very minor deviations from the standard rules-language, these do, in no way compromise the integrity of the rules. Layout adheres to a full-color two-column standard with colored petal-like elements at the corners and, as mentioned before, a surprising amount of nice, full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but does not need them at this length.

Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose's kemonomimi races were a surprise for me. You know, I'm not the biggest fan of anthro races and I've seen quite a lot of them. Most of the time, or at least often enough, they either are lopsided, studded with "OMG, look how KEWL my athro is11!!"-arrays of abilities or the like.

This book is not like that. There is the old design adage of KISS - and this pdf very much is the application of it. The fluff is neat; the races, however, manage an interesting feat: They aren't boring. They are not jam-packed with skill-bonuses to x or z, instead, much like the fluff around them, exhibiting a Zen-like design-aesthetic. It simply does not take much to many abilities to make a unique race, just one good and unique one - and (almost) each of these has just that. Where many races I see are cobbled together from the pieces of the ARG, these guys all have their own, distinct trick that sets them apart and makes sense within the context of their respective fluff.

Suffice to say, I'd allow each of these races in any of my games; even in CORE-only games, these guys will not unhinge the game's balance...and they still feel distinct as races. I really like this racial design philosophy. To make this abundantly clear - in spite of not being too into the subject matter, I found myself intrigued and wanted to know more about these folks. Which brings me to the one detriment of this book - its brevity. The lack of favored class options, race traits, alternate racial traits and the like is the one downside of this very economically-priced supplement. It should also be considered to be the only reason this does not score higher than it does. The races per se are neat indeed and warrant a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
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Bevy of Blades (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/22/2016 06:40:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a page of introduction to the subject matter, we are introduced to the first of the base classes in this book, the aether blade, who gets d10 HD, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, aether blade, light armor and bucklers. The class has good Fort- and Will-saves and full BAB-progression. At 1st level, the class gets its defining aether weapon and chooses the shape, which is retained forever after - either light (1d6 base damage), one-handed (1d8 base damage) or two-handed (2d6 base damage) - the blade can be formed as a move action. Aether blades may choose damage type (piercing, slashing, bludgeoning) when they call forth the blade. There is something odd in the rules-language for changing damage-types: "The aether blade can change the damage type of an existing blade, or may summon a new blade with a different damage type, as a full-round action."

The problem here is twofold: One, the ability fails to its own nomenclature: aether blade = class; aether weapon = class feature. The text should refer to the weapon. Secondly, after relinquishing the grip or throwing the blade, it dissipates. Letting go of an item is...bingo, free action. So, drop weapon, call new one = move action. Why would I EVER spend a full-round action? It would make sense if the choice of damage type upon calling wasn't free every time around, but this way, action economy makes no sense. The aether weapon can be sustained within antimagic fields by succeeding Will-saves, which is a nice catch. 1st level also nets Arcane Strike, which treats aether blade levels as caster levels. The aether blade also receives Cha-mod to AC and applies said bonus to neither touch, not flat-footed AC. The aether blade loses the bonus when wearing armor heavier than light, medium or heavier load and when cowering/helpless, etc. At 6th level, the bonus does apply to touch AC, with 14th level applying it to CMD and flat-footed AC as well..

Starting at 2nd level, the aether blade gets the aetheric aura class feature, which allows the aether blade to use a standard action to disperse parts of her blade in a 20 ft- radius, granting a +1 morale bonus to all allies within the area, depending on the aura used. The bonus increases by +1 at 7th level, 13th level and 18th level. Auras can be maintained for 4 + Cha-mod rounds per day, +2 round per additional class level. One aura can be maintained at 2nd level, with 11th and 19th level allowing for +1 aura in effect at any given time. 6th level modifies the action economy to activate down to a move action, 11th down to a swift action. New auras are gained every 4 levels after the 2nd. The auras allow for the application of the bonus to initiative, concentration, melee damage rolls, CMD, Cl-checks, 5 times bonus energy resistance to an element chosen upon activation, saves vs fear effects, atk or CMB. As you can glean, the bonuses range from very universal to very specific - bonus versus fear don't seem to be on par with the others, for example.

The aether blade also uses Cha instead of Int-mod for Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft - oddly, this one is gained at 2nd level, which is rather odd, considering that it can mean, theoretically, that the class has higher capability in the skills at 1st level than 2nd - usually, such abilities make more sense at 1st level. Additionally, the ability does not specify the level it's gained at - you have to consult the table. Cosmetic, yes, but still a tad bit annoying. 3rd level unlocks aura vision - class level rounds of detect magic that immediately provide full 3-round infos. I'm not a fan of this one, but, beyond personal preference, it is SU (when it should probably be SP) and lacks the activation action. 3rd level also nets eldritch symbiosis, which can be likened to a kind of linear order or bloodline-ish ability, three of which are provided: Wand, staff and rod. New abilities are unlocked at 3rd (apprentice), 9th (journeyman) and 17th level (master). In order to activate the abilities granted by this class feature, the aether blade has to be formed around the respective item. The respective item can then be used by the aether blade as though she was a wizard equal to her class level. However, while this symbiosis is in effect, the aether weapon cannot be used as such - it has basically been transformed in the respective item. Each of the paths provide a bonus feat at apprentice level and more complex abilities at higher levels, with journeyman generally providing passive abilities. The master abilities diverge wildly - from expending charges to temporarily enhance aether weapon damage output, adding defending to Cha-mod short-range teleports, the abilities are diverse, though the latter fails to specify CL or whether it's SP or not...which it probably should be.

4th level provides the option to absorb and freely distribute bonuses of magic items, which is pretty OP - even similar godblade classes like the soulknife or ethermagus directly specify the enhancements available. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide exactly one spell of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th level respectively that can be cast 1/day, with each step of the ability increasing the daily uses of the previously chosen SPs by +1/day, with Cha acting as governing attribute, just fyi. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter net +1 to saves versus SPs and arcane spells and, as a capstone, the aether blade gets SR equal to 20 + Cha-mod, with the option to spell turn spells that fail to penetrate the SR as an immediate action. Additionally, the class can now cast an SP as a free action after confirming a crit.

The archetype provided for the class, the aether knight, is proficient with medium and heavy armor and shields, replacing aetheric armor and its follow-ups....and the regular list of proficiencies. Which is problematic, as RAW, it eliminates light armor and all weapon proficiencies of the class. Instead of an aether weapon, they can call forth an aetheric shield, with eldritch symbiosis being replaced with an appropriate, defensive version that applies to magical armor. Once again, a SP is not properly declared as such, but that's mostly a nitpick. Instead of spells, these guys can grant themselves scaling bonuses to physical attributes or natural AC.

The second class would be the Shadow Blade, who gets d10, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armors as well as full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-saves. They begin play with Improved Feint and unexpected strike, which is basically sneak attack that only applies when a foe is denied his Dex-mod, not when flanking, with die-increases only at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Starting at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the class may decrease armor check penalties by increasing amounts. 2nd level also provides Steel Shadows, a shield bonus to AC that increases over the levels - but the ability does not mention the scaling here; you have to take a look at the table, which is slightly inconvenient. This may also be due to the irregular scaling of the bonus: The bonus increases to +2 at 7th level, +3 at 11th level and then to +4 at 17th level.

3rd levels beshadowed blade nets +1/2 class level to feint, but only for one weapon...and the ability lacks an activation action. The same level also nets darkvision, which increases in range and may later penetrate magical darkness...and the ability has no interaction-clause for races that already have it. 4th level can be unintentionally OP: The intent for the ability is to eliminate movement rate reductions caused by armor, which is okay. The ability says, though: "While wearing shrouded armor, the shadow blade does not suffer from a reduction in speed." This can be read as eliminating reductions of the movement rate due to encumbrance, caltrops, difficult terrain, etc. due to not directly referring to the armor. While its twin ability makes the intent clear, this still needs polishing. Twin ability? Yup, twilight tread allows for a limited number of rounds of difficult terrain traversal per day, thankfully sans abuse options re damaging terrain. 5th level provides an SU dimension door-like low-range standard action-based (move at 10th, swift at 15th level) shadow jump that does not specify that it's a conjuration [teleportation]-effect or a caster level for purpose of block-interactions.

At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the shadow blade may choose a dark revelation, which basically constitute the unique maneuvers/tricks of the class. And generally, I like them...using shadow jumping distance as resources to flank with oneself (though the nerfed pseudo-sneak takes away some appeal here) is nice - though the very conservative distances available do mean that you won't pull off this trick often anyways. On the plus-side, SPs are properly designated here. At 8th level and every 4 thereafter, the shadow blade also gets a shrouded secret, which basically would be the defensive/stealth-themed tricks. The capstone allows the class to choose one of three effects - form large-area darkness through which allies can see, DR 10, low-light vision (srsly, at 20th level?) and immunity to cold or heavy fortification in the shrouded armor.

The umbral prowler archetype would be basically a rogue/shadow blade blend, with trapfinding, increasing movement rate, scaling dodge-bonus to AC as well as access to thievery-enhancing dark revelations and 6+Int skills.

The third class, the verdant blade gets d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves as well as Wisdom-based spellcasting up to 4th spell level, drawn from the druid spell-list, with the usual -3 level caveat, since spellcasting is learned at 4th level. Oddly, the class must be non-evil. The class gains a woad weapon of his choice, with composite bows adjusting to the Strength score of the character...which is problematic at low levels, considering how expensive these can get. The weapon usually is a kinda-symbiotic seed and can be drawn as though it was a normal weapon. At 5th level, Str-scores of composite bow forms can be upgraded and the verdant blade is considered to have Craft Magic Arms and Armor for purposes of woad weapon enhancement. Unfortunately, this provides no means to offset spell-requirements for crafting. The weapon naturally regenerates hit points. The verdant blade can implant seeds in foes; the effects last for 3 + Wis-mod rounds, can be used 1/2 class level + Wis-mod times per day and has a scaling save, with the precise save-type being determined by the seed discovery chosen. Continuous damage, entangling foes and debuffs can be found here, with the first such seed being available from level 1 onward and subsequently, gaining +1 such seed discovery every 4 levels thereafter. They vary greatly in power with low-level summon swarm being pretty OP in comparison to -2 to Will saves. +1/2 class level to Knowledge (nature) and Survival is also part of the starting ability array. AT 10th level, two seeds can be implanted at a given time and the maximum limit of seeds per target increases to 2.

At 2nd level, the class can scavenge together tools (nice!) a, with 4th level making wooden items like this tougher and treated as magic. He also gains woodland stride. 3rd level nets +1 natural armor; +1 every 4 levels thereafter as well as trackless step. 4th level provides the option to 3+ Wis-mod times create patches of caltrop-y terrain as a move action. 6th level provides a mantle that first grants concealment vs. ranged attacks, 12th extends this to melee and 18th grants fly speed 30 ft. + good maneuverability, all activated as a swift action and usable for class level + Wis-mod rounds. 8th level makes the blade count as cold iron and 14th level provides breath of life as a 1/day SP with damn cool visuals, as the verdant blade jump-starts fallen comrades by plunging his sword in their breast. 16th level allows for making treant allies and 50% provides basically a 50% fortification apotheosis complete with only 1 hour of sleep required and the option to gain sustenance from air and sun, etc.

The class can pursue the verdant florist archetype, who may grow and apply aromatic flowers on the woad weapon as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity to adjacent, willing allies. These provide morale bonuses to skill or ability checks or saves, with the bonus increasing by +1 at 9th and 17th level and the effect remaining for class level rounds. A total of 16 blossoms are provided. Starting at 5th level, two flowers can be combined into one bouquet and at 13th level, 3 effects can be chosen at once, though each blossom still consumes a use of the ability, with a total of 1/2 class level + Wis-mod daily uses. A flower is chosen instead of seeds and generally, this is the buff equivalent of the debuff-heavy class. On a nitpicky side, the mention of the flower sticking to the character as a kind of corsage implies it occupying a slot, which I assume it does not.

The final class herein would be the Vital Blade, who gains d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, is proficient with simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields except tower shields as well as full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves. Vital blades have a sangineous sword and begin play with Weapon Focus for it. This sword can, as a move action (swift at 8th, 16th level as a free action), be formed from a wound-like rune. Oddly, the ability can form any melee weapon the character is proficient with, making the name of the ability somewhat unfortunate. The vital blade begins play with a blood pool of 1 + Con mod points and is considered to have the Diehard feat while the pool sports at least 1 point. The pool refreshes via critical hits and killing blows - and BOTH have an anti-kitten-abuse caveat! NICE! 2nd level nets Endurance as a bonus feat as well as weeping weapon - as a swift action before making an attack, the vital blade can add scaling acid damage 3+ Con-mod times per day to his blade, with damage beginning at +1d4 and increasing by +1d4 every 4 levels thereafter.

3rd level decreases any bleed damage incurred by 1/2 class level. as well as granting the first blood talent, which is btw. the ability that will generally be used to consume those blood points. Additional blood talents are gained every 2 levels thereafter. Tracking by scent after tasting a foe's blood, gaining Con-mod to initiative, firing shrapnel of blood (consuming weeping wounds instead of blood points) - the ideas are solid. Problematic, considering the clusterf*** that weapon-size-rules are: Increasing the size of the vital blade...can the vital blade still wield the weapon as its original size or as the modified size? Passive abilities like natural armor and DR can also be chosen and AoO-less SP grease via blood as well as weeping wound enhancers are included in the deal. Creatures slain temporarily increase the enhancement bonus of the vital blade, with the daily maximum being determined by the class levels of the vital blade.

At higher levels, the sanguineous sword is treated as magic and can be used to attack as a touch attack a limited amount of times per day. The class has two capstones, one of which allows for self-healing and Con-damage inflicting, with the other providing immunities and a slowly replenishing blood pool. The archetype for the class is the crimson inheritor, who loses heavy armor proficiency and gains a sorceror (not bloodrager?) bloodline to replace his blood talents with - though only the arcanas are gained. Bonus feats from the bloodline can be taken instead of blood talents. At 6th level, 1/2 crimson inheritor level is treated as sorceror level for purpose of bloodline spell availability, with the spells costing their spell level in blood points to cast. As a capstone, the archetype provides the final bloodline power.

The pdf provides favored class options for the classes, but only for the core races. Finally, the pdf provides 5 new feats: One for +1 morale bonus for verdant florist flowers, +1 blood talents. The others are problematic: Applying lesser metamagic rods to SPs...ouch. That's just begging to be combo'd some way. Arcane Celerity and Bulwark are very strong: Both can be activated as a swift action. The first nets you 1/2 caster level + casting ability modifier temporary hit points, providing a constant shield. The second nets you 1/2 class level as bonus to you base land speed, and a bonus to AC vs AoOs equal to your highest mental attribute modifier. Both effects only last one round, sure, but the lack of cap makes them pretty strong. That being said, my main gripe with them is that both only require you to be able to cast arcane spells - that's it. As 1st level-available feats, they are underpriced.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - it noticed no formal glitches and the rules-languages was also, with some minor hiccups, very consistent and adhered to the standards. Well done! Layout adheres to a two-column full-color used-parchment-style look that is solid, though personally, I think the respective class names would have made good headers - as provided, these are jammed in the upper left corner. Speaking of which: This is a very dense pdf with a LOT of crunch within its pages. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artist-wise, the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though ardent readers of 3pp material will be familiar with the pieces used.

Brian Moran's Bevy of Blades is an interesting pdf in that it shows a capacity to handle pretty complex concepts. While there are a couple of freshman hiccups in the book, the classes themselves should not unhinge any game they're introduced into, so balance-wise, at least as a whole, I have no complaints apart from the two feats. Internally, the options of the classes diverge in power rather significantly, with clearly superior options and less optimal choices. Some internal streamlining may have helped here. The book, when it does have issues, mostly has them in the tiniest of rules-minutiae or on a meta-design level. Take the vital blade, which, with the verdant blade, would be my favorite herein: It gets this cool, somewhat grit-like blood pool...and must wait until 3rd level to actually do ANYTHING with it. That's not a particularly fulfilling two levels there. Player agenda, in short, could be slightly more pronounced in all of the classes. Internal nomenclature of the classes could also have been a bit tighter.

As for my personal assessment: The aether blade didn't particularly excite me with its pseudo-casting - you can have that concept in several, more compelling ways. The shadow blade...just isn't on par with superior takes on the concepts - of which there are many. The verdant blade and vital blade generally have cool engines set up in their class progression and as such, I enjoyed both - however, I really wished the classes did a bit more with their unique set-ups, focused a bit more on these aspects. In the end, whether you will like this book very much depends on how much 3pp-material you have and how much money you're willing to invest. Compared to e.g. the soulknife or the ethermagus, the aether blade just feels bland in options and playstyle. Similarly, there are more compelling shadow-themed classes. At the same time, you will be very hard-pressed to get said classes for the low asking price of this pdf and both verdant and vital blade, while not perfect, do have some pretty cool options. I look forward to seeing the designer tackle more complex and variable concepts. In the end, I consider this a solid buy for its low and fair asking price. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bevy of Blades (PFRPG)
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Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
by Customer Name Withheld [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2016 16:26:34

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Pathfinder opens some interesting thematic options for character race. While they certainly will not be to the taste of every player, or fit in every campaign, there are some fun and interesting ideas here that are worth taking a look at if animal-themed races have a place in your game world.

Kemononmimi: Moe Races for Pathfinder by Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose and published by Amora Game presents the seven new subraces of the Kemononmimi, animal spirits given human form to aid humanity. The layout is clear with color artwork illustration for each of the different type of Kemononmimi.

Simply put the Kemononmimi are animal spirits that were given human form to aid, guide and protect humanity. For example, the Inumimi (dog spirits) were tasked as guardians and the Akaimimi (red panda spirits) are to help humankind in its spiritual and meditative journey. They all share low-light vision and an affinity for the animals their spirits reflect but otherwise have statistic and skill bonuses to reflect their personalities and assigned role.

For the right campaign niche, they could be quite interesting to encounter in game and the animal-person vibe will appeal to some players. Some of the particular abilities are quite interesting the Akaimimi gain supernatural insight, the Araiguma (raccoon spirits) can dowse for water and purify food by washing it in clean water while the Usagimimi (hare spirits) have a creative craftsman ability reflecting their roles as builders that encourage in game crafting. So, there is a subrace of the Kemononmimi here for most player styles.

The products only weakness is that it is just the subraces, no traits, feats, or other support material is provided to really flesh them out and give them focused, thematic options.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (PFRPG)
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Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
by Elexious C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2016 16:59:39

Anyone Remember the Pathfinder Player Companion? Inside was a new feat type for Monks. I don't know about anyone else but for me those were terrible. Meditation feats, the feats in question, could be taken in place of monk bonus feats and represented getting bonuses for meditating. The entry feat gave you a one time +1 bonus to a roll if you meditate for one hour after 8 hours of rest. From there you can take more feats that give you different effects for the day that can be quite good or just offer another minor bonus. Then there's Combat Meditation which lets you meditate for a full round to gain instant benefits from other feats often with their own limits. I thought this was a neat mechanic but not much about it appealed to me because there weren't that many of them and there wasn't a real way to build around them. Plus I saw Combat Meditation and Meditation Master as pretty steep feat taxes for the kind of bonuses along the line.

Luckily Amora Games has release more meditation feats to let this new little subsystem play out, which is a great thing. The list of feats for monk bonus feats has always been awkward to me and meditation feats feel like a flavorful substitute that should have been a mainstay in the class rather than a small blip in a Player Companion. Potentially as big as style feats.

In Meditations of the Jade the feats are honestly not that exciting, at least in terms of combat effectiveness. There are a few that get cool and interesting, like the ability to spit poison, making a shadow double once a day, using dimension door, or detecting magic and invisibility, but others feel like they're more in there for flavor, like being able to switch styles in mid combat by using a swift action. I would say that half of them are nice to have or do something mildly exciting while the other half I wouldn't ever take considering that Meditation Master is already kind of a feat tax. This being a small book its hard to really judge because a few good ones can make the product good enough for most purposes and the low price tag doesn't hurt. I would warn customers not to get TOO excited but if you like the idea of monks getting a bit of divination and a bit of teleportation then this is a solid 4 out of 5 stars once you ignore the stinkers.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
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Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2016 03:58:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This conversion of the conduit-class clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First thing you'll notice is that the class pretty much follows the formula established in the 13th Age core books, with info on play style, popular races, etc. showing up. Attribute bonuses gained by the class (the usual +2) need to be applied to either Dex or Wis, though they can't be stacked on the same attribute favored by the race chosen. Starting equipment contains melee weapon, ranged weapon, light armor and receive 25 gp starting gold (or 1d6 x 10). Regarding basic attacks and armor-preference, the class is leaning toward the rogue, with Dex being added to hit and damage. Damage bonus from ability modifier increases at 5th and 8th level, base Hit points are (7+Con mod)x3 at first level, scaling up to x24 at 10th level. Level up ability bonuses are granted at 4th, 7th and 10th level and a handy chart provides the conduit stats and over all - I was positively surprised. The rather complex class depiction of 13th Ag has been properly replicated here.

The defining class feature of the conduit, though, would be the conduct die: This begins at 1d6 as adventurer and increases to 1d8 at champion, 1d10 at epic tier. After a given heal-up, the conduit assigns a conduction power for which she meets the prerequisites to a side of the conduct die. When a side of the die is rolled, this means a conduct power is being rolled. The die is rolled twice The powers that were thus rolled are considered to be "charged", whereas all other sides are considered to be "drained." Repeat sides are rerolled in this process.

Whenever a magical ability targets the conduit, they can choose to use an interrupt action to roll the conduct die. If the conduct die lands on a side depicting a drained power, said power becomes charged and the triggering ability automatically misses, as the conduit absorbs it. If the die lands on a charged power, the conduit may elect to have the magical ability automatically miss all targets, but then takes damage equal to the level of the creature that created the effect - or the conduit may have the ability proceed. The conduit rolls the conduct die each round as a free action - upon landing on a charged power, they can use it; on a drained power, they can't.

The careful reader may have noted some problems with this ability: One: Monster-level as damage is negligible, considering the amount of damage that flies around a 13th Age table. More importantly, though - 13th Age, alas, does not properly codify what is a magical attack and what isn't. Granted, one can argue that the GM can easily make judgments as to this regard, but ultimately, this isn't as easy as one would think - is a gaze attack magical? A dragon's breath? Some guidelines would be nice here.

The class talents available allow for the modification of the conduct die and similarly, feats available for the class allow for more reliable playstyle for more score modifications and e.g. the charging of drained powers when rolling a charged power. Special mention deserves the Gigas Conduct talent, which increases die-size further by +1 - more variety and a larger arsenal, but also less control. Mystical Weapon allows for the potential expansion of either atk or damage, though the bonus die granted at low level may be a tad bit much.

But what conduct powers do we get? Well, a total of 16 such powers are provided and they include pretty much what you'd expect regarding single-use attacks and defensive tricks: Better initiative, melee force damage blasts, interrupt action MD-based means of making foes miss (NICE!) or healing - there are some nice options here. However, once again, the "magical effect" hydra rears its ugly head -Dissipation deals psychic damage and may also lock down "magical" abilities for the affected targets - which, as established before, are simply not defined in 13th Age. It should be noted, though, that balance-wise, this remains the only problem of the conduit powers presented herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and features nice full-color artworks, though personally, I dislike both the decorative diamonds and the blue/yellow-color-scheme. Still, this is a matter of taste and will not influence the final verdict. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Sasha Hall's Conduit is a surprisingly awesome take on the concept: I expected some issues for the difficult concept and 13th Age's rather intricate class design and encountered no brutal problems. More importantly than that, the conduct die is a truly unique playing experience that rendered the class an experience you can't really compare to others - and that's AWESOME. Seriously, once you've read so many classes like I have, jamais-vu-experiences become rare indeed, particularly when they actually work out as intended. The conduit, balance-wise, can be considered to range in the middle fields of 13th Age-classes - it is not weak per se, but the chaotic nature of the Conduct Die means that it plays in a unique style: Either you have excellent, variable damage...or tricks. Fans of quick-witted thinking at the table will certainly adore this class and I know the class has a place at my table. That being said, as much as I'd like to bestow my highest accolades on this class, I can't do that - the "magical" effect issue puts an undue burden on the GM and represents a significant chink in the design of the otherwise compelling class. Finally, one note for potential expansions: The conduct die SCREAMS interaction with the escalation die to me - in fact, I can see myself writing powers and talents tying them together - the result can provide both planning AND escalate the chaos factor even further - which would be win-win in my book. Why this obvious, glorious possibility wasn't yet used, I don't know, but I hope for such interaction in a future.

How to rate this, then? The conduct die is sheer brilliance and I love the unique playstyle, but with the "magical effect"-hiccup, I unfortunately cannot go higher than 4 stars for this supplement. I still wholeheartedly encourage you to check this out, though - we've got some talent here that deserves being recognized, particularly for the exceedingly low price-point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
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Ultimate Battle Lord (PFRPG)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/14/2016 23:52:30

Ultimate Battle Lord

Disclaimer: I am a friend of Michael Sayre, the author of this product. I originally read and fell in love with the Battle Lord before I knew his name, so any gushing I do about the class stems from legitimate enjoyment and not friendship.

The Battle Lord Class I love this class for a lot of reasons. First and foremost is that it actually allows me to build a powerful fighting leader for any situation. I don’t have to spread my point buy thin touching all my bases, nor do I have to sacrifice the theme by going for a class that “sorta fits.” The Battle Lord is very adaptable and is very likely to come through for you if you’ve ever thought “I wish I could make a truly great leader of man who gets by with his wit and guts instead of with a spellbook and divine intervention.”

The Class has d10 hit die, a good Reflex and Will Save, 4+int skill points per level, and a pretty good list of class skills. I don’t believe the Battle Lord has a dump stat since each stat can lend you power in some way, but of your mental stats Intelligence will be key.

The class table has a lot of specific names on it, but essentially the Battle Lord has three class features.

Bravery: As Fighter, but it’s worth noting that Michael has written a pretty cool book that uses the Bravery class feature as a kick off point for some extremely cool feats.

Aura: This is your primary class feature. Essentially you have an aura radiating from your character that gets larger as the Battle Lord levels. The aura can be centered on yourself or thrown to an area you’re sending orders to, vocally or with hand signals. Auras are subdivided into Combat Drills and Noble Auras. Essential combat Drills give combat bonuses to those within and Noble Auras give out of combat bonuses. As you level you get access to a variety of Combat Drills and Noble Auras, eventually being able to have multiple active at once. You gain Combat Drills and Noble Auras on separate tracks. Some of the later level auras can do amazing things that many would find appropriate for a 15th+ level leader, like giving a speech so powerful and moving that people can’t help but respond in kind.

Specialty: Represent your special training. The base class includes Scout, Medic, Artilerist, and Soldier. You pick one at level one and as you level our Battle Lord gets pretty awesome features related to your specialty. You get stuff like adding your Int modifier to the stealth checks of allies within your aura or using heal checks to remove Diseases, Blindness, and other terrible afflictions or the ability to add your int modifier to CMB and CMD.

The Battle Lord is one of those classes that is simple to set up and play, but has a lot of depth for a proactive player.

Archetypes

This PDF contains 6 archetypes. Going over each one would be a bit much on my fingers, so I’ll summarize each. I believe they’re all pretty well balanced against a base Battle Lord though.

Cavalryman : Expecting a mounted Charger? No instead you get a horseman specializing in Sword and Pistol or 2xPistols. Honestly this is pretty refreshing and cool especially considering the historical context of this archetype.

Dual Specialist : This archetype essentially trades stacking Auras for having two specialties. This can make some pretty cool combinations that can really benefit the team and the Battle Lord themselves.

Eldritch Chevalier Replaces your Specialty and a few Auras with a slow progression of Wizard spells! You only get up to 5th level spells, so this isn’t a game breaker and actually ends up being about a match for a specialty.

Marine : A modified Scout specialty that makes you a very cool team player in the water. In a campaign where I expect a lot of water combat the Marine is indispensable. In a land based campaign it’s not worth it though.

War chief : Uses charisma instead of Int for specialty stuff. Combat Drills? Less tactical and more AM BARBARIAN (Rage Power sharing)! This archetype is perfect for someone who felt the Battle Lord was to civil and wants something more brutal.

Zealot: Uses Wisdom instead of Int. Gains channel energy and channel smite in exchange for some auras and aura range. Is more useful on a neutral deity since you can grab a negative energy channel for your channel smites. Will also probably be my archetype of choice since it’s very similar to the base class, but gives me a mechanical benefit for playing a deity worshipper (something I do in every campaign).

Feats

This section features a feat line similar to Eldritch Heritage to give players access to specialties. The requirements are appropriate for what it gives you.

A lot of teamwork feats of varying power. The standout to me being Frontline Shield Fighter, which utilizes a very good feat chain that a lot of players don’t know about and culminates in a super cool teamwork feat. I like a few more, but personally I find most of them to be a bit weak for my taste though.

Overall

If you want the perfect non-magical leader class then this is the book for you. In terms of content I think one well written class, 6 archetype, and a couple of pages of feats is more than worth the cost presented.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Battle Lord (PFRPG)
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Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
by KEN P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2016 02:40:19

Two disclaimers: First, I received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest review. Second, this review is based on my reading of the material; I haven’t had a chance to playtest it, thus my verdict may change once I have.

That out of the way, the 6 pages of Conduits of the Age contain a new class for the 13th Age RPG, the conduit, which is thematically based on Mike Myler’s magic absorbing class of the same name from Liber Influxus Communis by publisher Amora Game.

The pdf begins with an overview of the class from play style to Icons. This section, and in fact the entire product, are formatted exactly as the classes in the 13th Age core book and 13 True Ways are, which is nice. The overview is solid and actually has me interested about a few things; it is noted that half-orcs and gnomes are particularly common among the ranks of conduits which makes me wonder why that is and could lead to some interesting world building. Mechanically, this section notes that conduits can add +2 to either their Dexterity or Wisdom (which cannot be the same as the ability score increased by their choice of race) which is also an interesting choice as I would have assumed the choice would be between Dexterity and Constitution.

Next we have gear and basic attacks which are fitting for a character of a more roguish type, skewing more to light weapons and armor. The roguish feeling continues as basic melee attacks use Dexterity rather than Strength to determine their to-hit and damage. The charts summing up the conduit’s level progression, stats, and weapons look really nice, once again evoking the feeling that I’m looking at the 13th Age core book.

The meat of this class, it’s unique schtick, is the Conduct Die. The Conduct Die starts as a d6 at level one, progressing to a d8 at Champion tier and d10 at Epic tier. After each full heal-up, the conduit can assign one Conduct Power to each side of her die and then rolls the die twice to determine which powers are “charged,” the remaining powers are “drained.” Whenever a magical ability, which I suppose doesn’t need to be a magical attack, targets the conduit, they can choose to roll the conduct die as an interrupt action. If the die lands on a drained side, that side becomes charged and the magical ability misses all of its targets. If the Conduct Die lands on a charged side, the conduit can choose to have the ability miss all its targets and instead do damage to her equal to the attacker’s level. On the conduit’s turn, they always roll the Conduct Die and may use the corresponding power if it lands on a charged side. The feats associated with the Conduct Die are solid, allowing the conduit to reroll drained results on their turn, allowing them to assign Conduct Powers to 3 sides of the die, and giving them an additional interrupt action per round only for use to roll the Conduct Die. I have no complaints about any of them.

The very nature of the Conduct Die leads to a great deal of randomness in the conduit accessing her class powers at all, let alone which ones she may use. I personally like this design decision, but I can see it being problematic for some players. The bigger problems, in my opinion, are twofold. First, the Conduct Die interacts with “magical abilities;” 13th Age doesn’t really define what magical abilities are, and while a few monsters cast spells, I’m not certain if the Conduct Die is intended to allow the conduit to absorb a dragon’s breath weapon, for example. Or a drider’s web… or a goblin shaman’s shaking curse… While I am fine ruling on cases like this as a GM as they come up, there may be GMs out there who feel this creates an unnecessary burden on them; some clarity would be appreciated. Secondly, I really dislike the ability of the conduit to completely prevent area effect spells from affecting her companions. In my experience, there are very few situations where a party doesn’t benefit from a worst case scenario that has one person take (in this case, likely a fraction of) the damage from an area effect rather than letting it hit everybody. This second problem could be alleviated somewhat with a firmer definition of “magical ability.”

Next up are the Class Talents, of which a conduit selects three of the six options presented. The Controlled Conduct talent allows the conduit a modicum more control over which powers she may access; she may alter the roll of the Conduct Die up or down by 1. The feats associated are solid as well. Favorite Power allows a conduit to add the same power to two sides of the Conduct Die, allowing slightly more reliable access to her go-to powers. The associated feats are awesome, allowing the charging of a drained favorite power when the charged one is rolled, allowing the charging of both drained favorite powers when one would become charged, and allowing two different favorite powers as the Epic tier feat.

The Gigas Conduct talent precludes the taking of Controlled Conduct and increases the size of your Conduct Die to d8, d10, and d12 respectively but adds more randomness which may result in the inability to use the result you’ve rolled. The feats for this talent are pretty nice, allowing the conduit to ignore the d4 roll to a limited extent.

The Mystical Armor talent is alright, removing the penalties to attack for wearing heavier armor and increasing AC and Physical Defense. The Adventurer and Epic tier feats are nice, but the Champion tier feat’s bonus to Mental Defense seems a bit incongruous given the physical nature of the talent. The Mystical Weapons talent is interesting; I like the negation of penalties for using heavier weapons, but the extra damage die when your Conduct Die roll for the round is even seems like too much at low levels and like it will be pointless at higher levels… which I suppose makes it just about right if you look at it a certain way. The associated feats interact with the talent nicely. Finally, I don’t have strong feelings for the Wild Preservation talent. On the one hand, I’m not certain I like anything that adds modifiers to saving throws in 13th Age. On the other hand, it may not come up that often depending on your rolls, so it really doesn’t bother me overmuch. Two of the associated feats are interesting in that they affect recoveries, not saving throws, but again, this doesn’t bother me too much.

Overall, I like the talents. The Mystical Armor, Mystical Weapons, and Wild Preservation talents don’t interact much with the class’ primary feature, but they do offer a bit more breadth than just being a rechargeable magic battery. Honestly, my biggest gripe about them is that there aren’t more talent options, but I feel that way about all 13th Age classes, first or third party, so I won’t hold it against this one.

Finally, we come to the Conduct Powers, of which there are sixteen. I won’t go into depth on each, but they are what you would expect, being primarily a number of different single use attacks and defenses. There are some nice ones like Deflective, which may cause an attacker to miss as an interrupt action. Mending allows a target to heal using one of their recoveries. Mystical Movement allows the conduit to take an additional move action as a quick action. I will note that the various powers that allow the conduit to add an ability bonus (Dexterity for example) to a different ability’s check (Intelligence, say) will probably see less use than more strictly attack or defence ones. The assortment of feats for each power are fine for the most part, if somewhat conservative; there are quite a few increased damage dice among them, which are to be expected if kind of boring. I would love to see some feats that interact with the escalation die, which is a 13th Age innovation that has sadly been ignored entirely in this product.

The pdf itself is well edited and has a nice layout as I’ve noted previously. The design however, is not to my tastes. Each page has a trio of diamonds with large drop-shadows in the inner and outer margins. I find these distracting and dislike that the drop-shadows overlap with the text to a small degree; I’d prefer the diamonds, sans shadows, only on the outer margin. Similarly, the section headers use a mirrored font that I find distracting. Honestly these kind of things are probably me being persnickety, but they do warrant mention. On the other hand, the two pieces of art used are really nice; the fact I haven’t seen them before is just icing.

Sasha Hall shows a real aptitude for 13th Age design; she has done a really good job maintaining the theme of this class (magic absorbing blaster) from its Pathfinder roots and translating it into mechanics that honestly feel like something that was omitted from the 13th Age core due to space constraints. I hope she takes this as the compliment I intend it to be. The conduit’s biggest problems, its lack of facility without magic to absorb, and the lack of definition of magical abilities, can be alleviated to a large degree by a GM who knows how to design encounters to his players’ interests and who is comfortable making rulings in the absence of definition. I will end with a final verdict of four stars and a hope that I will see more 13th Age work from this author soon. Maybe even another LIC class!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
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Conduits of the Age (13th Age Compatible)
by Timothy B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2016 02:20:29

I like the concept behind this class. There's a heavily random component that reminds me of 13 True Way's chaos mage, but isn't as complex to play. Talents allow you to focus more or less on building a martial character, a self-healer, or focusing on conduit powers. Those powers range from spells to buffs to melee attacks to improvements on skill checks. I tied these abilities to my character being a cursed cleric, who was seeking a way to remove the curse and his inconsistent access to his osirons and miracles.

I had some issues with class balance. There's a talent which grants access to heavy armor without penalty and either increases your AC or your PD every round, for example. Another grants access to heavy and martial weapons and increases your attack bonus or adds a damage die each round. 13th Age is hesitant to give out bonuses to defences or attcks, so these struck me as unusual. Feats further increase the defense bonuses to +2 and increases damage die to d12's, respectively. In actual play, this resulted in a character that regularly did more damage than the rest of the group, while being hard to hit. Add to this the versatility of the conduit powers and an at-will chance to counter an enemy's spell, and this character ended up unintentionally hogging the spotlight.

Additionally, there are some unusual uses of action economy in the class abilities. For example, a feat allows a conduit to use their move action to re-roll their conduct die. Several conduit powers require move actions, even though the powers themselves aren't related to movement. These generally felt like they should have been free or quick actions, allowing the PC to move and do something cool this turn. This felt to me like the kind of tradeoff I might expect from Pathfinder, but it felt out of place in 13th Age.

I also found some of the conduit powers unusual in the way they were written. For example, I couldn't wrap my head around applying my dex modifier to intelligence checks for a round. There are a handful of other powers with similar pairings. I also couldn't figure out how to make use of these powers out of combat -- the time when you most often benefit from bonuses to attribute checks. The conduct die is only used in combat, and while I can easily house rule a system where the die is rolled before an ability check out of combat, this would have been a helpful rule to explicitly include in the class ability. Several conduit powers seemed very similar to existing spells or powers from existing classes, but were just different enough that I had to keep referring back to them. The 13th Age class mechanics are OGL content, and I would've rather seen them lifted wholecloth and added to this class (perhaps with a different name). Perhaps my biggest complaint about the conduit powers are their non-scaling damage. A power does the same damage at level 1 as it does at level 4. It even does the same damage at level 10, unless you've paid the feat tax at each tier. This made my conduit powers far weaker at level 3 than a spell-casting class' spells. 13th Age doesn't "do" feat taxes, and I wish each conduit power had featured cool feats that made it even more versatile or potent. Once again, borrowing directly from existing 13th Age classes would have provided ready-made options.

After experiencing these balance and action economy issues, I ended up nerfing my character's talents and spell-negating class feature and porting similar powers and spells and their associated feats over from the 13th Age core book. I kept the basic conduct die mechanic, and had a much better experience.

If you're willing to do some house ruling on this class, it has a fun play style and is different from any other 13th Age class.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/09/2015 03:52:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second pdf containing meditation feats clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf as the last installment, with a recap/reprint of the base meditation feats the feats herein are based on - the pdf thus is pretty considerate and user-friendly. The feats herein are grouped in two general fluff-classes: Yin and Yang. Unless otherwise noted, the benefits only apply when under the effects of a meditation. Let's begin with the Yang-feats.

-Enter the Zone: Roll crit damage twice and take the better result, does not extend to sneak attack et al. Nice one.

-Flow Like Water: Switch between starting stances and style feats as a swift action at any point. Interesting one that dives into the grit of the rules.

-Identify Imperfection: +1 per meditation feat to identify monsters. Weak and pretty lame.

-Mind's Eyesight: Meditate as a full-round action to gain character level rounds the ability to see auras and, with time and practice (odd wording choice) can use thus aura sight and detect magic as SPs. The wording of the last sentence here is a bit redundant and wonky.

-Reckless Clarity: Combines moment of clarity-fueled rage powers and meditations. Interesting one!

-Regurgitate Poison: Ingest poison, delay its onset and spit it at a target within 15ft via a ranged touch attack. I assume that this renders ingested/injury-based poisons contact poisons for the purpose of the spit attack; though the wording is pretty precise, specifying that would have made it better still.

-Self-Reflection: 50% to determine weal or woe, with longer meditation increasing chance of successful outcome by 5% per minute. Solid, but I wouldn't spend a feat on this.

-Tummo: Ignore temperatures of up to -50° F sans having to make Fort-saves; also, meditating generates heat and may melt snow around you, drying you and your belongings. Really like this one!

The Yin-group sports 2 feats: -Dim Step: Dimension Door between dim lights of up to your base speed. Per se cool, but odd: The spell requires a standard action to cast, while the feat does not have an activation action. The line stating the possibility of multiple jumps implies that you can jump multiple times. I assume that the jumps can be made as part of a movement, but I am not sure - a slight clarification for this per se great feat would be appreciated.

-Shadow Reflection: This one is awesome: You create an illusory double and determine a course for it - the double runs from you, following your preset course. For one ki, you can reactivate this distraction-granting feat after the initial activation. Damn cool, but it should imho specify the illusion subtype (pattern, figment?) and the initial meditation is pretty long - 1 minute, meaning that you'll mainly use this feat via ki.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good - while the rules-language does sport some minor rough edges, over all, you get the intent of the feats herein. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Greg LaRose's second array of meditation feats is better than the first one: While there still are minor deviations from rules-language here and there and while some feats could use a bit of clarifications, this mops the floor with its predecessor mainly due to the fact that the benefits granted herein feel more versatile, more visually interesting and ultimately, more unique. The pdf also sports less potential problem-sources than the previous pdf.

Generally, I liked this little, inexpensive pdf and considering the difficulty of the base material and concepts attempted, this does get a bit of leeway. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I'll round up this time around. For the low asking price, this is worth checking out if you like the concepts.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
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Meditations of the Lotus (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/04/2015 03:43:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first small pdf of Meditation feats by Amora Game clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 3 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Meditation feats were introduced in Faiths and Philosophies and the feats herein utilize these rules - which are reprinted for your convenience and grouped among the basic lotus position feats - Meditation Master, Body Control and Combat Meditation, to be precise. Beyond that, though, the pdf allows monks to take these feats as bonus feats and similarly Liber Influxus Communis' cool mnemonic class may take them instead of a bonus feat, while mystics may take them instead of a talent - nice to see the pdf be this considerate.

If the above feats do not ring a bell for you, well, then let me fill you in: Basically, you meditate for 1 hour to get a minor floating bonus you can later apply to a single roll over the course of the next 24 hours. Body Control grants a bonus versus poison, disease, starvation and fatigue/exhaustion effects. Both have in common that they are very weak, but flavorful feat-choices. Combat Meditation is more interesting allowing you full-round action meditation, granting the benefits of all meditation feats, but only for 1 round per level you have. This one is the interesting one that demands to be upgraded and this pdf does just that. So yes, while basically not perfect, we'll see what Amora Game did with these.

First, the feats herein are grouped by Yoga practices, the first group being the Sun Salutation.

-Body Mending: Gain Fast Healing 1 while subject to Combat Meditation's duration. Fitting for some groups, though it may result in problems in others: While slow, this still represents unlimited healing at levels 5+ - which I consider highly problematic in spite of the feat-tax.

-Chakra Disruption: After using Combat Meditation, you may deal 1 point of Str or Dex damage or with an unarmed strike or cause the target to be unable to spend grit, ki or panache for 1 round - and if using Ultimate Psionics or Liber Influxus Communis, the feat does have synergy here - nice.

-Center Focus: Gain 1 ki point through meditation, even when not having a ki pool, +1 if you also have Extra Ki, though you may not surpass the maximum of your pool, if available. This one is problematic, since it takes a restricted resource and makes it an unlimited resource at least if my reading is correct and Combat meditation allows for the use of this feat to grant temporary ki. I do like that e.g. Dragon Tiger Ox's ki-based shenanigans can be combined well with this one, but still - I advise caution regarding this feat.

-Circulatory Control: For 24 hours after meditating, you may utilize concentration to delay the onset of poison/bleed. Cool one!

-Contemplative Endurance: Meditate as a full-round action, losing 1 point of ki, but gaining 3 points of stamina that need to be spent within character level rounds.

-Contemplative Maneuver: Select one combat maneuver after meditation; thereafter, you may perform it 3 times immediately after a failed attack against you sans provoking an AoO. In Combat Meditation, you don't get additional uses, but may switch maneuver. Absolutely awesome little feat!

-Controlled Emotions: Reroll a Will-save versus a fear-effect once after meditation. Pretty weak.

-External Power: Select a Ki Power or Technique you meet the prereqs for; you can use it at character level monk levels; You can power the power or technique via grit.

-Gritty Thoughts: Meditate to use ki to fuel grit/panache. Cool one, though the ki-regain mentioned in a previous feat can make this nasty.

-Heroic Thoughts: Use ki to gain a temporary hero point.

-Innate Yang: +1 atk, +4 crit confirmation, with bonuses scaling the more meditation feats you have.

-Innate Yin: +Wis-mod AC, sclaes via meditation feats you have and stacks with other Wis-based insight bonuses to AC like that of the monk.

-Last Efforts: When dropping below 0 HP, automatically stabilize and perform one combat meditation - for the duration you are treated as though you have 1 hp and may act as normal - basically, you are immortal until the meditation ends, with damage etc. being postponed to the end of the meditation...as well as healing. The feat's last sentence has a glitch in the sentence structure, but its intents remain clear. Nice high-level feat!

-Living Sword Technique: Choose Craft or Profession and use your RANKS in such a skill in place of BAB - cool one and proof versus magic-boost abuse.

-Sound of Waves: Gain Sonic and Force resistance (!!!) 5.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still good: On a formal level, there is not much to complain, though there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Greg LaRose has grown tremendously as a designer and this pdf shows that; while the rules-language is not always perfect, my gripes almost universally pertain purely aesthetic minor hiccups that do not negatively influence the rules - kudos! Also: The high-level immortality-feat is awesome.

I am a bit torn here - on the one hand, vanilla monks can use the feats herein and in such games, the feats herein should cause no problems. If you're like me, though, and have books with ki-powered weapons, rays powered by it etc., then making ki an unlimited resource can break your game's balance, depending on the power level you're gunning for. Still, this is by far not a bad pdf you can get for a more than fair, low price - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform -a quintessential mixed bag, slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of the Lotus (PFRPG)
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