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Star Log.EM-018: Msvokas
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/21/2018 03:57:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After the by now traditional introduction to the subject matter, we begin with the flavorful component of the presentation of the race. The “Playing as XX“-section, as before in the series, is the only missing component in this section that contextualizes the race within Starfinder. As before, if you’re interested in Rogue Genius Games and Everyman Gaming’s shared Xa-Osoro system, you’ll be in for a bit of a treat, as the section unobtrusively notes how the races works within this implicit setting. The msvokas, somewhat goofy-looking though they may be, as you can see on the cover, are pretty unique:

They get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Strength, and have darkvision. They also get immunity to nonmagical radiation. +4 to saves versus magical radiation (should be, bonus-type-wise, a racial bonus) and fire resistance 5. Msvokas are naturally radioactive with a radius of 0 ft., extending only to their skin. However, grappling these creatures can cause radiation poisoning. I assume that the level of the radiation incurred is based on the scaling save DC, but having that explicitly stated would have been nice. As written, one could assume that the level of radiation is missing.

They can also unleash a radioactive ranged blast from their mouth, targeting EAC. Targets hit get a save or become poisoned by low radiation. If the msvoka expends Resolve Point, the blast ignores environmental protection versus radiation, though the usual +4 bonus such protections might convey is still applied. Here, things become really freaky, in a cool way: As radioactive beings that accrue toxic materials etc. within their bodies – after 6d4 months, these toxic substances begin breaking down their bodies, affecting them with the racial disease of isotopic degradation, which is based on Constitution, track-wise. It is incurable and cannot be distilled into doses. Now, here’s the thing:

When a msvoka rests for 8 hours, at the end, they can opt to undergo rebirthing, which turns their body to ash, cures the disease, and leaves a 1-foot egg with negligible bulk. The egg needs to be incubated for 4d6 days by a source of radiation; after hatching, the msvoka grows to adulthood in 1d3 days. Rules for infant/toddler-stages are noted, and upon reaching adulthood, the reborn msvoka regains the respective abilities. This rebirthing process may also be initiated upon dying, though at the cost of 2 negative levels added to the process. Death effects or accumulating negative levels, or falling to isotopic degradation, are the exceptions from this. Destruction of the egg also eliminates the msvoka.

Notice something? Yeah, the racial hit points, alas, are missing from the write up in an obvious and unnecessary oversight. The pdf also comes with a racial feat, Radiation Flare, which allows you to spend Resolve to extend the radiation aura – cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the lack of the racial hit points are the one serious glitch here. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and Jacob Blackmon’s artwork for the race is great. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ msvokas are easily one of the coolest races I’ve seen in a while: The bubbly, somewhat friendly radiation-phoenix-race is creative in the best of ways, and really makes me want to play this critter. The radiation-angle is cool, and while I would have loved to see the radiation-level component explicitly spelled out, the race still is damn cool, one of the most unique races I’ve seen in ages! In fact, this would be a 5 star + seal race, but lacking racial hit points and with the slight inconvenience regarding radiation levels, I unfortunately can’t go higher than 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-018: Msvokas
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Star Log.EM-017: Gnolls
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2018 05:46:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction to the subject matter, we begin with a flavorful series of fluffy bits that serve to contextualize the gnoll race thematically within Starfinder as a rules system, as well as within the implied Xa-Osoro setting shared by Everyman Gaming and Rogue Genius Games. As before in the Star Log.EM-series, the “Playing a XX”-section that notes how you likely behave and how other races view you, is missing here.

Mechanically, gnolls get +2 Str and Con, -2 Cha, 6 hit points, and they are Medium with a 30 ft. speed. They get low-light vision, as well as a +2 bonus to saves versus disease, fear and poison. The bonus type here is not properly codified – it should be a racial bonus. They get unarmed natural weapon, analogue to that of the vesk race. As a unique ability, gnolls can heckle targets. They get Intimidate as a class skill and gain +1 to Intimidate instead f they already have the skill. Gnolls may attempt to demoralize all foes within 30 ft. as a full action.

The pdf also contains 5 feats: Canine Gait allows you to adopt or stand from a 4-limed movement rate as a move action, for quicker movement. Charging allows for the standing up as a swift action…or would, if it worked properly. A full action in SFRPG prevents the use of a swift action, and charging is a full action. Clamouring Heckle and Goading Heckle build on the AoE-demoralize, with the first allowing for quicker regular and AoE-demoralize, the latter allowing for the addition of the off-target condition, or the extension of such an effect created by an ally. Finally, Hyena Shape is cool, allowing you to assume hyena shape and potentially knock targets you hit that form prone. Like it!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, for the most part, are very good on a formal and rules-language level. The glitch in the perhaps coolest feat does hurt the pdf somewhat, though. Layout adheres to the full-color two-column standard of the series, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ take on gnolls in SFRPG is per se solid; I like the Intimidate-focus via heckling – it makes sense to me and adds some unique identity to the gnolls. That being said, I would have loved to see the race have an additional trick. The minor snafus decrease the final verdict this receives from being considered to be a good offering. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-017: Gnolls
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Star Log Deluxe: Aging Rules
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/19/2018 08:35:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This extra-long installment of the Star Log-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, after a brief introduction to the subject matter, we begin with defining age categories, a component I found puzzling in its absence from the Starfinder core rulebook.

This pdf seeks to remedy this gap and provide mechanically-relevant consequences of age. The pdf recognizes 8 age categories: Infant, toddler, child, adolescent, young adult, mature adult, old adult, and venerable adult. Mental and physical age category usually are identical, but don’t have to be.

Each age category has an aging modifier that applies to many of the character’s abilities, acting as ability penalties, which may only be lessened, removed or suppressed by other aging effects. The mental age category’s aging penalty is applied to the mental ability score, the physical one to the physical ability scores. Infants and toddlers are restricted regarding both physical and mental acumen, while they and children have restrictions regarding physical traits. The maximum age penalty an age category can impose on its own is -5. The age categories are concisely presented – toddlers and infants are, obviously, highly restricted on the actions they can take, for example.

But more important, the aging process in itself is concisely defined, and a massive table notes age categories for the core races, legacy Pathfinder races and the massive amount of Starfinder races, including the skinwalkers introduced in the Star Log.EM-series. Since the scifi-genre is rife with complex races and uncommon life-cycles, the system can account for reverse aging etc. and similar oddities. Since the pdf provides, step by step breakdowns of aging categories, the pdf is superbly easy to tweak regarding these components. Heck, provided the GM allows, there is the option to treat characters as 25% younger or older to account for differences in maturity.

Now, Julian Barnes once said, that “identity is memory, memory identity”. – it is a sad truth that the deterioration of the physical form represents a fate that all living things have to come to terms with. Optional rules to avoid mental and physical deterioration are provided, which allow you to depict the ever-growing strain that trauma can impose on the well-being of the individual. Particularly if you’re aiming for a more gritty Starfinder-experience, these rules should prove o be inspiring. Special cases like androids or samsarans are also mentioned.

This out of the way, we are introduced to two new themes: Old-times nets +1 to one mental ability score and nets you and Int-based theme skill. 6th level enhances your bonuses for covering fire, harrying fire and aid another, provided your skill bonus in the skill in question, BAB or age exceeds that of the assisted ally – the respective conditions are presented in a concise and precise manner. 12th level lets you add +1d4 to a nearby younger ally’s skill check, provided the ally has been under your tutelage. This can be used only once per day per target, with Resolve paying for additional uses. At 18th level, you can regain limited Resolve when a younger being rolls a natural 20. The ability has a hard cap to prevent abuse. Cool theme!

The second theme is prodigy, which nets a class skill, -5 to all of the skill’s DCs, and nets you +1 in the associated ability score. 6th level allows you to roll a skill check in the skill at advantage (roll twice, take better result) 1/day. 12th level allows you to complete longer tasks quicker by entering a trance that leaves you wide open. As a capstone, at 20th level, you can regain limited Resolve when rolling a natural 20 in the skill you specialize in. The pdf also includes new technology associated with age:

NCNUs (neural cartography nanite units) are implanted in the brain and rewire the mind, enhancing the character to Young Adult category in 6 months; Youth Enhancer Systems (endocrine slot) reduce physical ability score penalties imposed by the aging modifier – these come up to Mk V. Also for the endocrine system, there’d be the quick-gro biotech, basically the biotech means to physically age you to young adulthood quickly. There are two magic serums introduced – one for age regression and one for age progression.

The pdf also contains two different hybrid items, the first of which would be the external neural interface, which allows you to directly interface with powered armor, starships or vehicles. Powered armor pilots gain initiative and Ref-saves bonuses and increased maximum Dexterity values; starships can be piloted better and gunning, obviously, also improves when taking that role. Vehicles can be enhanced regarding attacks and AI autopilots overridden. Implanting this item in adults is more dangerous than usual – though kids have an easier time surviving the process unharmed. Particularly nasty: The higher Mk versions require the previous one to be present, meaning that a new surgery for upgrading is required. Similarly, reducing such a system takes multiple surgeries, so you better know what you’re getting into… Secondly, rejuvies are pills that combine necromancy and nanobots to combat aging in a delightful satire of our culture’s obsession with youth: These can alleviate age penalties and pain, and “Gray Away” pills can get rid of physical age modifiers, with greater versions allowing for the temporary regression of mental age – this can make for particularly interesting narratives in conjunction with the deterioration-rules in grittier games, or to offset penalties of an aged character, with a pressure to adventure for credits to keep the rejuvies flowing…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no significant formal or rules-relevant guffaws. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf sports a nice full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alexander Augunas’ aging rules are precise, easy to grasp, and cleanly-presented. They fill an important hole in Starfinder’s core rules and do so elegantly. The material presented is complex enough to be mechanically-relevant, without becoming too potent, too character-defining; your character will be race and class first, then defined by the age, not vice versa. Min-maxing isn’t a good option here either. Sure, there are tangible benefits to age categories, but not enough to unhinge the math. In short, this represents a well-crafted, interesting supplement, well worth checking out: My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log Deluxe: Aging Rules
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Starfarer's Companion
by Joseph D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2018 12:10:36

Despite a few editorial and design issues initially (which at the time of this review have been fixed) this book is fantastic! I utilize it as an 'additional core' for our Starfinder campaign.

The additional races are better balanced than their Pathfinder equivalent, and the classes are up to snuff with the Core Starfinder classes, adding a bevy of new options and abilities to the table.

Highly recommend picking it up for the price, and I know I intend to try and get my hands on a physical copy or two to have for quick reference!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starfarer's Companion
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Star Log.EM-016: Stellar Revelations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2018 06:29:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the Solarian-class 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!

After the introduction, which also discusses the dualistic nature of the class, we move straight into the new stellar revelations of the class, with graviton and pulsar revelations both sporting a “G” or “P” to denote their respective type. We begin with 2nd level, where 3 revelations are provided, 2 of which are proton revelations: Proton blast lets you fire plasma as a laser small arm, with an item level no greater than one below your solarian level. This cannot have autofire, does not require charges, and inflicts E& F damage. Solar weapon and manifestation apply their benefits to this blast. Proton lash acts similarly, using a taclash as a basis, using Charisma bonus instead of Strength bonus, with the tweaks otherwise being similar. The Graviton defender revelation, alas, is slightly wonky: Whenever an ally within 60 ft. of you makes an attack, you can use your reaction to divert the attack, making it behave as covering fire sans requiring an attack roll, with the penalty being -2 or Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. Covering fire, as per SFRPG, requires that you designate a selected ally, something that this ability does not mention; I assume that the affected ally is the one whose attack you diverted.

At 6th level, 3 new revelations are provided as well: The plasma flare proton revelation makes it possible for enemies hit with plasma weapons while in proton mode to get the burning condition on a failed save,a s you tap into solar armor’s power, which acts as a prerequisite. One of the two graviton revelations also requires solar armor: Graviton impact allows you, while attuned to graviton mode and taking a full attack, attack or charge t spend 1 Resolve Point. If you do, the next time you hit a target before the start of your next turn, you may use a free sunder attempt versus that enemy’s weaponry or armor, using attack roll as the combat maneuver, applying all usual bonuses. When fully attuned, you add the penetrating special weapon quality. The second graviton revelation lets you, as a standard action, target a foe within 30 ft., who must succeed a Fort-save or suffer temporarily as though carrying additional bulk. When fully attuned, you also impose a penalty based on Charisma to determine the amount of bulk the target can carry thus.

The pdf also sports two 10th level revelations. Graviton fluctuations lets you, when in graviton mode and using defy gravity to gain a fly speed, leave fluctuations in your wake that may render targets off-kilter on a failed save, with 12th level allowing for the extension of durations. Damn cool! Nitpick: The ability does not specify that it requires defy gravity, which it probably should. The proton burst revelation builds on the proton blast/lash or solarian weapon: When making a single attack with these as a standard action, you can adopt proton mode until the start of your next turn. You may choose explosion or line mode, adding explode (5 ft.) for melee (should probably note “melee” explicitly, even though that aspect is evident from context), acting as a grenade at range. In line mode, proton burst counts as having the unwieldy and line properties, but no benefits for the other options are provided here.

The pdf closes with a nice section that talks about solarians in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, there were a few minor nitpicks for me to note. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf has a nice artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

The solarian is one of the most interesting classes in SFRPG, and easily one aspects of the game that sets it apart from other Scifi games. I really enjoy the flavor and ideas inherent in the Solarian options, and the mode-based playstyle is intriguing. The added options presented here allow for some intriguing tweaks to the chassis and generally are components that I enjoy. However, at the same time, the rules are a tad bit less refined than what I’m accustomed to see from Alexander Augunas, and at this length, minor flaws weigh heavier than in larger files. If you can look past aforementioned nitpicks, then consider this to be worth rounding up; as a reviewer, I can’t round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-016: Stellar Revelations
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Star Log.EM-015: Skinwalker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/12/2018 06:37:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin with a brief introduction to the subject matter at hand before getting a detailed depiction of the Skinwalker races, including a physical description, notes on their home world and the like – and indeed, the race’s history in the Xa-Osoro system is rather amazing: When Blood Space seeped into Eogawa’s atmosphere, the non-native population of the moon was turned into frothing lycanthropes…and yet, by some miracle, those infected while pregnant gave birth to skinwalkers, rising from savagery courtesy of vanara aid! A young race defined by the culture into which they’re birthed, we get notes on different skinwalker relations and yes, as such a young species, they have adventuring pretty much hardcoded into their DNA. Minor nitpick: No “Playing as…”-section is provided. Vital statistics regarding weight, etc. are not included, alas, though one can assume the human baseline.

Rules-wise, skinwalkers get 4 hp, +2 Wis, -2 Cha and add +2 to a physical ability score of their choice. Skinwalkers are humanoids with the human, skinwalker and shapechanger subtypes, are Medium and have a base speed of 30 ft. One animal or vermin is chosen as lineage. Every skinwalker can assume a hybrid shape based on their lineage as a standard action (reversal is the same), granting them a +10 racial bonus to Disguise. Being knocked unconscious and the like is properly covered. In this hybrid form, they get a +1 bonus to AC. They also have low-light vision, gain +2 to Survival and in their hybrid form, they get natural attacks analogue to the Vesk.

At 2nd, 4th, 6th, 12th or 18th level, a skinwalker may choose the Bestial Shapechange feat as if granted by an archetype. When taking the feat, you get to choose one of several manifestations, provided you meet the prerequisites, if any. These include no penalties to damage and atk underwater with kinetic melee weapons, and being able to hold your breath longer. Being able to speak with vermin, magical beasts and animals, gaining a blindsight (type taken into account; it must make sense regarding lineage – this is an important balancing factor, as it prevents taking the more potent blindsight variants), darkvision (can be improved regarding range), quicker shapechanging and gaining two class skills from a brief list complement this section.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf sports a nice piece of artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas provides an interesting race here: Born from a cataclysmic event, skinwalkers allow you to play, in a balanced manner, the classic lycanthrope concept without the infection issues that usually accompany it. The benefits of the feat are weighed and presented in an interesting manner as well. All in all, I consider this to be a well-crafted little racial supplement. While the supplement could have used a tiny bit more material regarding secondary flavor, I consider it to be a worthwhile offering. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-015: Skinwalker
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Star Log.EM-014: Eldritch Knight
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/12/2018 06:33:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

All right, after the by now classic introduction, we dive into the rules, though it should be noted that it makes sense to read this, as the design goal here was to encapsulate, in spite of the existence of the soldier-class, the flavor of the classic eldritch knight.

The eldritch knight archetype grants additional class features at 2nd, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th level. At 2nd level, we have spell critical, which is a special critical hit effect that you can use instead of that of the weapon. When confirming a crit, you may cast a spell as a swift action, which must include the target among those affected. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity. This is problematic in as much as that the spell does not state a maximum casting time, which is not exactly a smart means of future-proofing this one. The ability should restrict the eligible spell in some way. All other class features provide a fighting style technique from the arcane assailant soldier; rune of the eldritch knight at 6th, secret of the magi at 9th, power of legend at 12th and secret of the archmagi at 18th level.

The pdf also presents a total of 4 new feats to complement the concept: Disrupting Grappler forces foes to succeed a caster level check in order to cast a spell when you’re grappling them, with DC scaling via your BAB. Enhanced Dispel Magic provides a bonus to dispel SPs that work like specific spells and extends the counterspell range to long. Nice! Riving Strike requires Mystic Strike or rune of the eldritch knight, and allows you to render opponents vulnerable to magic, penalizing saves or reducing SR temporarily with a standard action attack. You need to expend a swift action to add this, though. Will save DC scales with your highest ability score modifier and BAB or CL. Nice: A target affected by it can’t be affected again for a day, providing a means to prevent cheesing. Interesting here: Full action-using attacks do not allow for this, courtesy of SFRPG’s action economy, which means that the feat promotes more creative play. Kudos! Finally, we have Spell Severance, which once more requires Mystic Strike or the rune, as well as 1 rank Mysticism, which is really neat: 1/day, you can dispel magic a foe hit with a magic weapon, using BAB as CL. Really cool, though personally, I would have added a means to spend (a lot) of Resolve to recharge it.

The pdf closes with a nice piece of flavor-text regarding eldritch knights in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no obvious formatting snafus etc. Layout adheres to the colorful standard of the series and the pdf sports the nice artwork on the cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ eldritch knight has a tough heritage – the classic option hasn’t been the most remarkable out there in the first place, and since the soldier incorporates much of the thematic concept, we are left with a solid, if not perfect take on the idea of the eldritch knight that goes as light step further than the soldier, but which doesn’t necessarily feel radically different. As noted, I am convinced that the spell critical class feature should be future-proofed regarding maximum casting time; apart from this one, I enjoyed all of the feats herein, leaving us with a mixed bag that is slightly on the positive side of things. Still, as far as I’m concerned, it’s closer to the 4 stars than to the 3, which is why I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-014: Eldritch Knight
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Everyman Unchained: Bards
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/11/2018 04:18:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The unchained bard clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, the first page, beyond having a brief ToC, summarizes the design-paradigm of this class, and frankly, what’s here sounds feasible – the central focus lies on making the bard more interesting and versatile without requiring archetypes and other modifications, so let’s see how this fellow holds up!

The unchained bard gets d8 HD as well as 6 + Intelligence modifier skills per level – here, it should be noted that the skills are presented in a tidy table, as opposed to the usually cluttered skill-block. I really like this, as it makes looking class skills up quicker. Proficiency-wise, we cover light armor, shields (except tower shields) and simple weapons plus longsword, rapier, saps, shortswords, shortbows and whips. Once more, we have a nice presentation-innovation, as the proficiency-list has a subheader for armor- and weapon-proficiencies. Once more, that represents an improvement in my book. We still have ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves. The unchained bard retains spellcasting of up to 6th level, and every bard spell has a verbal component, with Charisma as governing attribute and spontaneous spellcasting.

And this is pretty much where the similarities end. On first level, the bard chooses a Muse, gaining skill ranks in that muse’s associated Performance skill for free at each class level. These muses also determine associated skills and denoted the performance components (A for audible, and V for visual; these and the limitations they entail are clearly noted in the bardic masterpiece entry) in their respective brackets, making presentation here once more truly streamlined. 12 muses are presented and range from classics à la strings to keyboard, stage magic, legerdemain, etc., covering even more obscure Perform variants like juggling. What do the associated skills do? Well, starting at 3rd level, a bard can use his total ranks in the muse’s key Perform skill instead for the associated skills; ranks previously assigned to associated skills are refunded. These skills are treated as on the class skill list and also may be treated as though they were governed by Charisma, analogue to the Perform skill, instead.

Bardic performance has been rewired: It now starts a bardic masterpiece, and its effects last 1 round, but the effects may be maintained as a free action, unless otherwise noted in the respective action entry. The decision to maintain a performance must be made at the start of the round, and duration caps at 1 minute per bard level, unless otherwise noted. Performances immediately end upon becoming paralyzed, etc. and performances may be started Charisma-modifier +1/2 class level times per day. Notice something? Yep, the maintenance of performances no longer expends rounds! This means that low level bards won’t run out of juice as fast, and the different ability improvement and metrics mean that high-level bards won’t drown in rounds they can't employ properly.

Now, I already mentioned bardic masterpieces – these are different from the often maligned, yet intriguing feature of the same name that was originally tacked on to grant the bard more unique tricks. The unchained bard begins play with one masterpiece known and gains an additional one at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. Save DC calculation is interesting: 10 + ½ the ranks in the muse’s key performance skill + Charisma modifier. If the masterpiece requires that an opponent makes a skill check, the DC is 10 + 1.5 times the bard’s skill ranks in the key Perform skill associated with the muse + the bard’s Charisma modifier. A bard also begins play with a so-called performance bonus, which begins at +1 and increases by a further +1 at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. The bonus type depends on to what the bardic masterpiece applies it: Attack and damage rolls gain a competence bonus, saving throws a morale bonus and otherwise, we have an insight bonus. This makes sense to be, both from a design and logic perspective. Starting at 7th level, the action economy of starting bardic masterpieces improves, and masterpieces that required a standard action may be used as a move action, with 1th level allowing optionally to start performances that need a standard or move action to be initiated as a swift action. Presentation-wise, it should be noted that all these aspects are grouped under the same ability-header, with distinct subheaders to set them apart. This presentation-sequence makes sense and renders grasping the mechanics easier. Kudos!

Also at first level, the bard picks a so-called repertoire from a list of 7. Each repertoire covers 4 different skills, and the bard gains a bonus on skill checks associated with them equal to ½ class level, minimum 1. Trained only skills may be used untrained. Starting at 9th level, the bard may take 10 in these skills, even while distracted or in danger, and he may expend a bardic performance use to take 20 instead, in spite of the circumstances, and taking the regular amount of time, not the usual, extended one.

Now, as noted before bardic masterpieces are crucial component to the engine, and the class unlocks new available selections at 3rd, 7th, 11th and 15th level. Muses determine the type of masterpieces you can learn, and area, range, effects etc. are part of the masterpiece’s block. Each performance also comes with a bit of flavor-text, which is nice. Now, the pdf does something really clever: The header of each masterpiece sports one or multiple, self-explanatory glyphs that are explained in a sidebar, though personally, I considered their meaning to be self-evident: The glyphs denote basically descriptor types. See a comic-style text-bubble? Language-dependent. Caduceus? Healing. Skull and bones? Death. Brain? Mind-affecting. It’s simple, but it helps render the rules-language less monstrous, while at the same time retaining the complexity demanded.

These melodies, fyi, accomplish a ton of different things, and some of them provide massive changes to party dynamics. We have to look no further than Ameliorating melody, the very first of these masterpieces. All allies in a 60 ft. emanation heal 1 hit point per performance bonus, and one ally heals 1d8 per performance bonus. Doesn’t sound like much? Well, remember that it lasts 1 minute per bard level – that’s a lot of healing, even at first level! While this sounds like much, and it pretty much is, the design-paradigm is clear here: This is slower, less bursty healing than what the cleric offers– but this masterpiece alone provides, mathematically, sufficient healing to classify the unchained bard as a primary healer. While the sheer amount of healing this offers is pretty massive, it should be taken into account that the bard lacks the spell-healing capabilities. Depending on how gritty you like your games to be and your personal aesthetics, you may or may not like this – personally, I’m not the biggest fan of burst-y instant-healing that returns characters constantly from the brink of death. We’ve all been there: The roly-poly syndrome of PCs falling, dying, being healed and getting back up, falling again…the more spread out healing can be sensible for grittier games that prefer to avoid this. Or, well, there’s also a chance that the sheer amount of healing is something you don’t like in your games. The bard’s healing array will be hard to whittle down via attrition tactics. Personally, I very much enjoy how this makes a group sans healing-cleric more viable, particularly in games that sport a darker aesthetic. The one thing that should be monitored here by the GM is, that a combination of a good healer-cleric AND a bard with this option can be really, really brutal and may be something that can, depending on your campaign’s goal and themes, prove to be very strong.

Soooo, basically the very first masterpiece already provides a rather pronounced paradigm change. Now, it should be noted that masterpieces differentiate between effects that begin when starting a performance, and then maintained; others reduplicate their initial effects time and again, as they’re maintained. Summoning critters, for example is an effect that is tied to the start of a performance, with the maintenance of the summoning via maintenance of the performance. The scaling of this one, btw., is based on half class level. Rendering targets prone via laughing, the classic fascinate and inspire competence, courage, etc. can be found, and raging song is also codified as such – and yes, there is a spellsteal option here as well! At 3rd level, gathering of crowds, condition alleviation, mocking debuffs, sonic strikes (that cannot be cheesed regarding action economy). Minor nitpick: there’s a typo here ” work” should refer to “word”; this is cosmetic, though. 7th level includes the options, among others, to antagonize targets (see Ultimate Charisma; the pdf has a few abilities referring to the amazing Psychology DC and antagonize-rules from that book), provide resistances, reincarnate targets (takes time and a lot of daily uses)…At 11th level, we have the dance of the dead, untyped damage based on type/subtype or wandering star motes become available. Finally, we get a discordant confusion effect (that interacts correctly with conclusion), pied piping and raising the dead (at massive cost of resources), all added to the list to choose from at 15th level. The capstone provides the inspire legends bardic masterpiece that combines two others into one.

Now, this is not the end – at 2nd level, the unchained bard gets a performance flourish, with another one gained every 2 levels thereafter. These behave somewhat like talents and are grouped in three categories: The first bunch becomes available for the choosing at 2nd level, with 8th and 16th level unlocking a new array. If a flourish allows for a save, or prompts a skill check from an opponent, the DCs are calculated in the same way as for masterpieces. There is an option to gain an additional masterpiece, which can be taken up to three times, with 10th and 18th level as subsequent minimum levels and applicable level-restrictions. A couple of them are passive, and allow, for example, for 2d4 minutes of time invested to make armor worn to behave as glamered. HOWEVER, there is more to this ability-class. You see, there also are a couple of them that sport an asterisk. These flourishes apply to a bardic masterpiece, and are chosen upon starting or maintaining a masterpiece, allowing for reassigning etc.. Only one such effect can be applied at any given time and this section includes the classic distraction, countersong, etc., as well as escapist’s jig etc. – in short, what previously were helpful, but for the bard-character, potentially boring actions, now are customizations for the heroic, active stuff he does. Poaching among psychic, oracle or sorcerer tricks, being famous, affecting plants, making allies believing in the same deity count as brandishing holy symbols – we basically have tweaks and more active agenda here. Gone are the times when the bard was required to perform away his rounds to maintain support for allies. Tricking targets into spilling the beans has a hex-caveat to limit the at-will availability. There is another balancing component here, as, beyond the masterpiece ability trees, there are some flourishes restricted to certain masterpieces. Increased ranges and numerical boosts, spell kennings and the like – your heart’s desires and classic tricks may be found here. Among the higher level tricks, we have mass expansions for previous flourishes or the means to absorb and return spells with suitable mechanics, building on spellsteal. We thus have a wide array of significantly expanded player agenda during building as well as at the table.

The engine becomes more complex: At 5th level, the class gets accompaniment: When maintaining a bardic masterpiece, he can start a second masterpiece as a standard action, counting the new performance against the total daily uses as usual. The second one must be one that can be started as a standard action or less, regarding of modifying class features that decrease action economy, and its maintenance is a move action. This second one can only be maintained after the primary masterpiece has been maintained. 17th level further upgrades that to allow for the retaining of a third masterpiece. The maintenance action of the third one, however, is locked to a standard action.

Starting at 2nd level, a bard gets a +4 insight bonus versus figments, patterns, language-dependent effects, sonic effects and other bardic performances – minor nitpick here: While the text and table place this one at 2nd level, the header reads 3rd, which is incorrect.

Now, this is not everything: At 7th level, and once more every 4 levels thereafter, the unchained bard gets a versatility talent. These apply the key Perform skill to a variety of different tasks and circumstances: Here, we can once more learn masterpieces, muses, repertoires or increase the starting attitude of animals, with the added option to use bardic performance uses to duplicate speak with animals. Gaining muse key skill ranks as BAB for the purpose of a combat maneuver, expanding the associated skills of a muse, slandering targets, evasion, becoming harder to antagonize, feint, etc., teamwork feats, etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; apart from minor typo-level glitches and the aforementioned minor level snafu, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s new, two-column standard and the pdf sports several, original, gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I love Alexander Augunas’ unchained bard. The class has evolved beyond its linear and oftentimes, somewhat bland beginnings. The massive amount of customization available for the class means that players finally have all the agenda they want. The unchained bard manages to not only enhance the choices of the PCs, it also succeeds in making the playing experience as meaningful as it should be. The bard remains a jack of all trades, versatile and unique, but now, the active abilities have been retweaked, have become stronger and no longer require that you need to spend your rounds doing boring stuff. In short, this is the definite bard. The fact that it can make for a good healer is another huge boon, particularly for groups that lack a ton of players or that are bored by clerics. In short, this is a resounding success of its attempted design goals. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Unchained: Bards
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Star Log.EM-013: Augmentative Equipment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/31/2018 11:09:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this supplement with a brief look at augmentation in the galaxy and the Xa-Osoro system in general, before getting a massive table that lists the material by price and level, noting system modified as well. We also have the new weapon fusion, biointegration, which clocks in at only 680 credits, which represents the classic means of the integrated weapon. While deployed, you can’t do anything with the hand but use that weapon. Unfusing is a move action and only one-handed weapons may be fused thus – the plus-side being obviously that dropping or disarming is out of the question, and half damage dealt to the fused weapon is dealt to the character instead of the item, which can make for an interesting double-edged sword. Haha. Get it? …Sorry for the bad pun.

Anyways, we also get two new armor upgrades. Phantom emitters are classified as hybrids, and can compress armor via extradimensional means into 1/16th of the usual size sans modifying your size category, allowing you to squeeze through 1/4th your space sans counting as squeezing. While the armor is thus compressed, you have 360° vision and move via rolling, restricting you to unarmed strikes that benefit from shock, but are not considered to be archaic. On the plus-side, total defense in ball form is more useful. Weapon integration systems can be installed into light and heavy armor only and make it possible to install weapons as though the suit were a power armor, with weapon types codified properly by weapons slots granted by this upgrade.

The pdf also sports 4 different biotech augmentations. Adamantine boneplates are provided up to MK 7, granting increasing DR (or improving your existing one); as it applies to the skeleton, it has a different system than dermal plating, but they may explicitly not be combined. Good catch. Biotic Flight is added to the spinal column and comes in Mk 1 – 3, beginning with basically gliding and improving to include first clumsy and slow, then better, flight. Spiked growth depend, system-wise, on where you get them, but they enhance your climbing capabilities and provide the means to inflict piercing damage with unarmed strikes – the augmentation is presented in one version. Cool: the rules take hardness of surface scaled into account AND also provides a benefit for folks with Improved Unarmed Strike. Kudos!

Finally, the muscle mass magnifier lets you execute penetrating unarmed strikes, with 9th level plus adding critical effects. Nice! They are presented up to Mk 10.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I sported no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s colorful and nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has a nice artwork, as seen on the cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ augmentative equipment provides several pretty crucial modifications for characters. The rules are precise and make good use of SFRPG’s item levels; the presentation is precise and, as a whole, I really enjoyed this one, as it provides some classics that I as an old Shadowrun-veteran simply expect to see from futuristic games. In short: Very much recommended, 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-013: Augmentative Equipment
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Star Log.EM-012: Loremaster
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/25/2018 03:26:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

As always, we begin with a brief introduction and the meta-framework of accessing a database. The pdf represents another one of the classic concepts of d20-based gaming and converts it to SFRPG, this time around featuring the loremaster, one of the arguably most boring PrCs ever devised. I always liked the idea of the loremaster, but the implementation has never really touched me, so let’s see whether the Starfinder-version fares better!

Structurally, the loremaster is an archetype, and supplemental material-wise, we also receive 3 feats. Let’s start with these. Cunning nets you +1 skill rank for every character level you have and gain from there on out. Additionally, when making a skill check with a trained skill associated with the class’s key ability modifier, you add a +1 base bonus to the check. If you’re a multiclass character, you must choose one key ability modifier. The feat takes the peculiarities of Constitution into account. Now, rules-language-wise, this is interesting, as it employs Starfinder codifying base bonuses and providing a means to enhance your skills. I like the implementation here, but in the long run, I am a bit weary of skill boosts that, by their nature, can provide too much stacking. Now, this feat does not have an issue or the like, I’m just slightly cautious regarding the long run. Resolute Fighting is a combat feat that builds on Adaptive Fighting and allows you to spend 1 Resolve Point to use it again without having to rest. This is not an action. Studied Aim is interesting. After successfully identifying a creature with the appropriate skill, you may use the skill instead of your BAB for the purpose of determining the bonus damage caused by Deadly Aim. If skill and BAB are equal to your level, you increase the damage of Deadly Aim by +2 instead. The interaction with existing feats is precise and manages to find a use for skills sans falling prey to the cheesable aspects, and the damage increase this yields is held in check by action economy. I was really surprised to like this.

Now, the loremaster archetype grants alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 12th and 18th level. The second level nets you a +1 enhancement bonus to all skill checks made to identify creatures or recall knowledge about them, and allows you to make the check untrained. Additionally, you add a skill from a list to your class skills. At 4th, 12th and 18th level, the archetype nets a Loremaster’s Secret, which is a bonus feat, limited by the fact that its prerequisites may not contain anything but skill ranks and ability scores, so no combat trees, advanced feats, etc.. The 6th level ability is called “Saw it All” and lets you choose 3 options, which may include a 1st-level connection power, a 2nd level envoy improvisation, mechanic trick, operative exploit, stellar revelation, magic hack or combat feat, except Adaptive Fighting. These still require that you have access to abilities the chosen options build upon. As a move action, you can gain the benefit of one of these for a minute. The ability may be used once per rest interval, and upon gaining a level, you may exchange one of the options chosen with another.

The pdf, as always, concludes with a well-written section that contextualizes the loremaster tradition in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and the piece of artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ translation of the loremaster had me surprised. I already confessed to my personal disdain for the PrC this was based on, and while the loremaster presented here isn’t exactly the most unique concept, it is still remarkable what level of identity the author has coaxed out of one of the most generic, milquetoast-bland concepts in d20. Contrary to my expectations, the loremaster presented here actually has some complex and interesting tricks – the Saw it All feature is wide open, but functional, and the material herein, as a whole, can be considered a success. Now, I still don’t like the loremaster much, but I can get behind this iteration, and that’s quite a victory. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-012: Loremaster
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Everyman Minis: Family Options
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/17/2018 12:14:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series 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!

This pdf focuses on an underutilized component of character development – families should matter. All too often, there are no tangible benefits apart from kidnapping or tragic deaths for a character to have an extensive family. This is a huge component of untapped potential. There is no AP that lets the players play a family-chronicle/enterprise, and we have very few options that interact with familial ties, apart from hereditary curses. This pdf seeks to somewhat change that. On the first page, we get a new spell that takes ACG and OA-classes into account, and this single spell is a game changer. It is a level 3/4 spell that is called blood bond, which may only be cast upon blood relatives and lets you target such a relative with personal spells. This makes e.g. brothers, where one is a spellcaster, the other a rogue or fighter, suddenly much more potent. It is a limited resource, but I love it to bits.

The pdf also provides two new feats: Bound by Blood builds on Psychic Sensitivity or the ability to cast psychic spells. You can choose up to your highest mental ability score allies, using the psychic magic universal monster rule, to cast message, mindlink, sending and status, with PE-values noted. You have 5 + character level PE. If an ally has the teamwork feat, you reduce PE costs to cast the spell for that ally, and on a new level, you can swap a character. This is narrative gold and provides easy access to basic psychic tricks. Love it. Synchronized Assault is a combat teamwork feat, which nets you a circumstance bonus equal to the number of allies within 30 ft. that also possesses the feat when you readied an attack that is triggered. If the allies with the feat also have readied an attack, they may immediately trigger the readied actions after your attack is resolved. Now, I think that the bonus should have a level-based cap instead of just number of allies, but yeah, other than that, I like it.

The pdf also features 4 precisely codified traits, and these deserve special mention, as they are meaningful regarding their benefits, and also have a teamwork component: We get a bonus to saves versus magical effects that works better if an ally also activates it. We get better aid another, a special, jumbled childhood language that is impossible to magically decipher (AMAZING!) and the option to fortify allies affected by mind-affecting effects via your faith. Excellent traits.

The pdf also contains two magic items: The clock of whereabouts is a helicopter parent’s (or mastermind’s) wish come true: 12 hands can be attached, and when an individual puts the name on a hand, the clock will spin to show the preset occupation (like “At work”, “late”, “lost”, etc.) of the character. The second item is the adoption ring: Parents and child to be adopted prick their fingers, having a drop of blood congeal into a gemstone. The adopted kid may then use the change shape universal monster ability to assume the shape of the parents’ race. The benefits of this Disguise are properly codified, though there is a spell-reference not italicized. Interesting: Incompatible parents of different races and shapechanging parents are noted as well. I love this item and all the storytelling potential it has.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, with only a missed italicization as a complaint here. Layout adheres to the 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris’ family options are genuinely amazing. The new spell is amazing and both feats are interesting and complex. The traits matter beyond numerical bonuses and offer player-agenda, and the magic items are interesting. This is a great pdf, and my only regret here is that it could have been longer. The topic, as mentioned, is one that hasn’t been addressed extensively. Anyways, this is a great little pdf, easily worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Family Options
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Star Log.EM-011: Arcane Artillerist
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2018 05:42:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

After a brief introduction, including the by now standard and enjoyable “Query”-dialogue that simulates logging onto a database, we begin this pdf with SFRPG’s take on one of the most trouble-laden concepts of the 3.X history, the arcane archer…erhhh, I mean “arcane artillerist.”

For Starfinder, the concept has been envisioned as an archetype here, with alternate class features gained at 4th, 6th, 9th and 18th level. Artillerist’s Seal lets you create a unique fusion seal chosen from the list: Called, dispelling, glamered, illuminating, merciful, seeking. Odd: “Called” and “Seeking” are not properly italicized. The seal works only for the arcane artillerist, and you may change weapon fusions after an 8-hour rest, or by resting 10 minutes and spending an additional Resolve Point. Daily use limitations can’t be cheesed and the ability notes the conditions to replace a seal. Minor complaint: The example illustrating the limitation uses a fusion that becomes available at 6th level, instead of one of the base ones; as a purely cosmetic observation “(such as blasting, gained at 6th level)” would be slightly easier to grasp than “(such as blasting).” No, I won’t penalize the pdf for that.

At 6th level, this seal is improved, adding blasting, ghost killer, hybridized, spellthrower, torrent or trailblazer to the list. Additionally, the weapon with the affixed seal gets the durable fusion for free, as if it were a 0-level fusion. Finally, you can place up to two weapon fusions into the seal, but their combined level may not exceed half your level. Minor nitpick: I assume, since fusions in the corebook don’t sport 0-level fusions, that the durable fusion is not part of the two weapon fusions that you can combine.

Now, the eagle-eyed reader may have noted that the torrent fusion is new. It is, indeed, one of 3 different new fusions. Torrent clocks in at level 2. This nets a 1/day automatic attack as a full action, with a range of half the weapon’s range increment. Thankfully, automatic, explode, line or thrown weapons are excluded, as are weapons that don’t require an attack roll. The other two new weapon fusions clock both in at level 9, when their corresponding ability unlocks them for the archetype’s seal. The first would be phasing, which translates to a single attack ignoring nonmagical physical barriers, excluding armor, 1/day as a full action. You may choose whether to resolve it versus KAC or EAC and it ignores concealment and cover, but magical barriers (spell references not italicized) automatically stop it. Automatic, explode or line weapons can’t be enhanced with this fusion, and neither can those that don’t require attack rolls. Imbued also clocks in at 9th level, and 1/day lets a spellcaster place an area of effect spell as a full action. When a single attack is made as a full action, the spell’s area is centered where the attack strikes, ignoring e.g. restrictions that would require it to be centered on the caster. Only spells with a casting time of a standard action or less can be imbued thus, and the projectile is fired as part of the action and suffers from -4 to atk. A miss wastes spell and ammo Explode or line weapons may not carry spells, and neither may those that don’t require attack rolls.

You see, the classic shots, re-imagined as weapon fusions. Interesting. As hinted at before, 9th level further expands the list of available fusions for the seal, including the energy and alignment-based ones as well as the new ones mentioned before. For 2 Resolve points and a move action, you can change the seal’s fusions. Additionally, fusions with daily uses may be recharged for 1 Resolve Point – note: The latter ability does not state an activation action; to me, it’d have made sense to make that a move action.

Finally, 18th level delimits the seal: You can place any number of fusions in the seal, up to a maximum of your character level. The pdf closes with a nice piece of flavor text regarding these fellows in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting as a whole are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the colorful 2-column standard of the series and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ take on the arcane sniper is indeed one of the better ones out there. Building on fusions is a smart choice, and the fact that most potent ones will burn through Resolve like a child’s birthday through candy means that you won’t be spamming the deadly ones. Similarly, the restrictions imposed on these ones keep the cheesing potential at bay. Now, personally, I’d strongly suggest keeping the new fusions archetype exclusive, but that may be me being paranoid. This is a good take on the concept, and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. Worth getting!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-011: Arcane Artillerist
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Star Log.EM-010: Operative Specializations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2018 05:37:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

After a brief introduction, including the by now standard and enjoyable “Query”-dialogue that simulates logging onto a database, we begin with 4 new operative specializations.

Since the operative specializations make use of new exploits, we should talk about those first. 4 are provided, and they all are unlocked for the general operative public that doesn’t have the proper specializations, at 10th level. Fast poisoner lets you once per round poison a slashing/piercing melee weapon or load a poison into an injection weapon as part of the attack. Frightful trick can render the target of debilitating trick shaken instead of flat-footed or off-target. Foes immune to fear can’t be affected. Spell Steal allows you to attempt to steal a benevolent magical effect from a target via debilitating trick, using the targeted version of dispel magic (not italicized), using operative level as class level. On a success, the target gets a Will save – on a failure, you hijack the remaining duration. Cool! The exploit is btw. balanced by requiring 10 minutes of rest a Resolve Point to use it again. Finally, unconventional skill lets you choose one class skill, adding that skill to the specialization’s associated skills. Previously invested ranks in a skill chosen are refunded, and e.g. Skill Synergy et al may also be reassigned.

The first of the operative specializations is Crackerjacks may choose two skills from the operative’s class skills or have been added via racial traits of theme powers. These skills may be used to make a trick attack, and if the chosen skill is not Dexterity-based, you get +4 on the skill check to do so. The exploit would be unconventional skill and the specialization’s 11th level ability lets you choose a skill for which you have less than half total character level ranks at the start of the day. When you make a skill check with that skill, you are treated as though you had +1/2 character level ranks invested, up to the usual maximum. This does allow you explicitly to use previously untrained skills with the +3 for being trained, and the skill thus chosen may be reassigned “rest, by taking a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points and spending 1 Resolve Points instead of the usual 1 Resolve Point “ – while it’s pretty clear what’s meant here, this is a bit confusing. This should probably read “and spending an additional Resolve Point…” Alternatively, you may reassign the skill as a move action by spending 5 Resolve. I really like this, as it rewards NOT specializing and min-maxing core competence skills.

The second specialization is poisoner, which has Medicine and Sleight of Hand as associated skills. When making a trick attack with Medicine with a weapon with an injection weapon that deals slashing or piercing damage, loaded with poison, you get +4 to the check, unless the target is immune to poison. The exploit is fast poisoner. At 11th level, we get the trick poisoner ability, which lets you increase the save DC of poisons used with debilitating trick, and additionally, you can make lethal poisons stop one step before death. The scaremonger would be the fear specialist, with Bluff and Intimidate as associated skills, and +4 to Bluff and Intimidate checks to make trick attacks if the target isn’t immune versus mind-affecting effects. 11th level basically combines frightful trick’s benefits with the standard benefits of trick attacks, allowing you to add shaken to one of the standard conditions, rather than to replace it.

Finally, spellstealer gets Mysticism and Sleight of Hand as associated skills. When using Mysticism for trick attacks, you get +4 and treat it as magic for purpose of overcoming DR and affecting incorporeal critters. The exploit gained would be Spell steal, obviously. 11th level is cool_ If you hit with debilitating trick, you cause the target to lose a spell slot of 3rd level or lower, higher level slots first, with every three levels thereafter increasing the maximum spell slot level affected.

The pdf concludes with a brief series of notes on operatives in the Xa-Osoro system. Nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting as a whole are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the colorful 2-column standard of the series and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ operative specializations present classics regarding the themes they cover, but this does not mean that the design-work here was simple. Spell theft is a notorious tough one, and the crackerjack’s take on a rewarding dilettante with eclectic interests also managed to walk that precise line, that makes it worthwhile, without being OP. In short, this is, in spite of the hiccup noted, represents a very much worthwhile supplement. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, and considering the degree of complexity and difficulty of the material presented, I will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-010: Operative Specializations
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Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/11/2018 04:06:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

The flavor-centric introduction of the class acknowledges the transition magic undergone, eliminating the erstwhile arcane/divine divide in favor of the new magic traditions of Starfinder; as such, the mystic theurge tradition is seen as a form of pioneer in the context of Xa-Osoro.

The mystic theurge archetype behaves, to an extent, behaves as a kind of magical archaeologist and, as written, the archetype is written to be compatible with the Starfarer’s Companion’s classes. The archetype gains alternate class features at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th level. It should be noted that the archetype focuses on spells and as such requires pretty much spellcasting: All alternate class features, except the one gained at 9th level, would be esoteric spell lore.

At each of these levels, you choose a spell list other than your own and a chosen spell from that list that is not on your class list. You add the chosen spell to the spell’s known, and if you employ another external way to prepare your spells, you add the spell to that receptacle instead. Once you have chosen this spell, you may not change it later, though e.g. if you’ve chosen a spell with a variable spell level, you may replace the lower level version with a higher level version. It should be noted that this does not allow you to choose race-exclusive spells, nor spells taken from a bonus spell-list à la mystic connections. When you choose this spell, it must be one level lower than the highest spell-level you can cast. EDIT: I believe in owning up to my mistakes. I have erroneously stated that this would be useless; however, Starfinder's 0-level spells are no longer divorced, nomenclature-wise, from the "proper" spells, making this aspect work as presented. Mea Culpa! On the plus-side, the 9th level casters (of which I’m not biggest fan) in Starfarer’s Companion do get alternate rules pertaining that - ½ the highest spell level you can cast +1.

The other alternate class feature, gained at 9th level, would be spell synthesis, which allows you to cast two spells at once as a full action: One from your class spell list and one chosen via esoteric lore. The spells must have a standard action casting time or less and the ability requires 1 Resolve to activate. If you spend 2 Resolve instead, you gain +2 to overcome SR with both spells. Okay, so one question here: How does that interact with concentration?? Does spell synthesis allow you to maintain concentration on both spells cast as one or not? One could argue for either way, depending on whether you assume the spells to be independent entities or a fused conglomerate. I assume no, but clarifying that aspect would be very much appreciated.

The pdf foes come with a new feat, the Combine Spells feat that requires levels in more than one spellcasting class, which allows you to cast 1st level or lower spells using spell slots from either spellcasting class, but at +1 spell level slot required. The feat may be chosen multiple times and each time, it applies its benefits to one spell slot higher.

The pdf closes with a flavorful half page text on how mystic theurges behave in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, some hiccups and ambiguities have crept into the file. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series and the piece of full-color artwork is solid. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

EDIT: Alexander Augunas’ mystic theurges are a per se nifty take on the concept, though one that is bogged down a bit by the rough edges re spell synthesis. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down, due to the ambiguities in spell synthesis.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Star Log.EM-008: Mystic Theurge
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Everyman Minis: Festive Armory
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:39:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Minis-installment clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this little supplement with a brief introduction as well as a helpful note on how to present holidays in your game: Festival of Lights, Kami’s Eve and Yuletide are presented, all featuring obvious real-world iconography without requiring the integration of, say, a Judeo-Christian faith in your fantasy RPG. This may be a small sidebar, but it is one I thoroughly appreciated.

Now, as you could glean from the title, this pdf focuses on magical items with a festival theme. The first of these, the neverlost compass, should bring a smile to quite a few gamers of a younger age: 1/day, you can name a specific location, whereafter, a light is emitted from the compass, duplicating find the path. (The spell reference is not italicized properly, but apart from that, I enjoyed the visuals here.) The oil lamp of illumination is associated with the aforementioned festival of lights. The lamp is placed inside a paper lantern, illuminating a 60-ft.-radius. However, when oils or potions with the light descriptor are used instead, the lantern will emit light at that spell level, countering darkness. If good potions or oils are used, the glow will also dazzle evil creatures for a short while and light-sensitive creatures are affected to a higher degree. And yes, daylight etc. interaction is properly covered. The lamp extends the duration of such light-.effects to 10 minutes times the CL of the oil or potion. I adore the visuals of this item, the narrative options here, and the tight execution.

The rod of decorative cheer is a low-cost item that I’d love: You use it to create festival-themed decorations. It’s a “magical world” type of item, but one that makes sense and one that can’t be abused. The yuletide rod of gift-giving duplicates major creation (not italicized), with a cap per week and an inability to duplicate too costly materials. This is a pretty potent universal-tool style option, but one I can get behind due to its sensible limitations.

One whole page of the pdf is devoted to an artifact that I haven’t seen executed this way before, namely the mighty lucky dreidel. Spinning the dreidel is a move action; hereafter, the artifact spins for 1d6 rounds. When it stops spinning, you roll 1d4 to determine which of the 4 glyphs is facing upwards, and then 1d6 to determine the effects of the respective glyph. The themes of the glyphs would be as follows: Change can temporarily switch ability scores or affect the target with forced reincarnation. Reduction of age, sex change or an ability score bonus can also be found here – all properly codified. The Fate glyph has 3 entries for bad and 3 for good fortune. These include, for example, basically disadvantage or having a lucky number: When that number is rolled, you get a surge-like bonus of +1d6. The Happiness glyph can provide more refreshing rest, calmness, an item or living through a perfect day. Finally, the Wealth glyph offers 3 detrimental and 3 positive effects focusing on material gains. The artifact comes with a means to destroy it and, as a whole, manages to hit that sweet spot between being random and being still, as a whole, interesting and sufficiently benevolent to make the spinning worthwhile. If a certain deck always felt like it was to cataclysmic for your tastes, then this will be a godsend.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are per se top-notch on a rules-language level. On a formal level, a missing separating line between two table entries and the two missed italicizations can be considered to be minor detriments, but not to the point where I’d consider them to be problematic. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly b/w 2-column standard of the series and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Scott Beeh’s festive armory surprised me in a positive manner. I expected the usual suspects regarding Christmas items, judging from the cover, and got something much more compelling, cool and flavorful. All items herein are winners that have a distinct place in fantasy gaming. The execution of the rules is precise and compelling as well. This is literally an all killer, no filler product, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the minor snafus in formatting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Festive Armory
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