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Into the Breach: The Kineticist
by Jarryd W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2017 13:20:16

Lets get started then shall we…

To be fair to all who read this I want to disclose that Flying Pincushion Games gave me my copy of “Into the Breach: The Kineticist” in exchange for this review. They requested I do not let this fact colour my view of the work and I intend to be as objective in my review as I can.

Conclusion I really like this PDF. The quality of the crunch and the fluff is suburb. This book adds a bunch of really cool things you could never do before, and they are portrayed evocatively. The mechanics all seem to be well thought out and balanced. Honestly, if you find the current state of the kineticist to be slightly lacking, this book is pretty much a must. I would consider the content here to be on a par with the much acclaimed Kinetecists of Porphyra series.

The only things that I find lacking is some of the art work, some of the more niche rules interactions not being spelled out, and a bit of a personal dislike of the Hellfire Kineteicist’s portrayal.

4/5

The really long detail

The pdf clocks in at 40 pages, the content starts on page 5 and ends on page 39. For those like me who like to look at these things it sits at 35 pages of content, at 6$ you are getting a page for 0.1714..$. Not important to a lot of you but I like to look at price per page. This comes in pretty nicely on this front to be honest. It isn’t a paizo hardcover by any means (Pathfinder Cor rulebook is 0.0173..$ per page) but sits very comfortably in the realm of smaller pdf’s and third party products. Now onto the actual content of the PDF.

The table of contents is well laid out and tells us what to expect in the rest of the book and I will be trying to structure the rest of my review according to the table we are given:

  • About into the Breach
  • New Archetypes
  • New Prestige Classes
  • New Elements
  • New Wild Talents
  • New Feats
  • New Magic Items
  • New Mundane Items

About into the Breach A typical about section, tells us exactly what the book is here to do, and what the entire series of “Into the Breach” is about.

New Archetypes Aetheric Marksman is the first archetype and is a properly awesome idea. It adds a bunch of neat tricks to aether as an element specifically when using arrows in conjunction with her blast. The mechanics are very fun, and seem well balanced. A few questions remain unanswered with regards to how burn from some of the specific abilities interact with gather power, how one of the abilities interact with the snake infusion (Piercing arrow) and there should probably be an action type specified for removing an arrow from her Burrowing Arrow ability.

A very cool idea. I would also almost like to suggest that the Aetheric Marksman get to pick any ammunition to use to gain bonuses. If you want to play a Steel Pusher from the Mistborn being able to pick coins with this class gives you exactly what you want.

Hellfire Kineticist is the second archetype. The Hellfire Kineticist is called out as being an archetype specifically for Tiefling’s with a devilish bloodline.

The archetype has some very cool abilities and reminds me a bit of ghost rider in some cases and just a normal evil at others. I want to say that the crunch here is absolutely amazing, and the fluff is very interesting. Overall a really cool class again. A great archetype for those characters who you want to have fight against their evil lineage to do good, and also helps remove one of the biggest issues with sticking to a single element (energy resistances).

Wind Whistler is the final archetype.

This. Is. Sheer. Awesome. If you have ever wanted to play a buffer, but also a kineticist, this right here is what you want. It has some seriously cool fluff and the mechanics back it up just as well. I am a bit dubious about tying some bonus damage into a skill check, but it adds a very interesting element to the class, and helps you lower the priority of constitution a bit if you want to. However, beware that though con is taken away from damage, it is not taken away from maximum burn. It would be worth saying whether or not her saves from bardic performance are based off of her constitution or charisma, but as it says “exactly as the bard class ability” it is probably charisma.

This may well be my favourite of the three archetypes, with the other two very close behind. There are a few question left unanswered here but overall all of the archetypes are awesome.

New Prestige Classes Here we are given two 5 level prestige classes, one which expands the Kineticists options with regards melee combat, allowing her to wield weapons with strands of aether and imbue her shield and armor with her blasts to increase her defences. I really like the idea behind the Aetheric Assailant and one of my favourite things it does is integrate cleave in a balanced way. It also keeps progressing your blasts!

Cerulean Star Disciple is an anti-undead kineticist. This PrC also increases your blast progression and the like which is welcome. This to me is what you would get if you crossed a cleric with a kineticist and turned the dial to 11. This PrC adds a bunch of support and some cool tricks to an element that can be missing that.

New Elements The new elements introduced are both awesome and very flavourful. The best thing for me is the sheer versatility and the amount of content there is on all of these elements. It really is impressive.

There is also a page on how different existing infusions effect these elements, and suggestions on how some existing elements combine with the draining infusion.

New Wild Talents A short and sweet section that adds some new and very cool utility abilities. One of these is something I am sure that everyone has wanted to do and been sad they have been unable to.

New Feats Much like the new wild talent section. Some of these might be a bit costly for feats, but most are very cool and flavourful. One gives you an elements language if you have overflow active, and give you a circumstance bonus on charisma based checks with native speakers.

New Magic Items The new whistling arrow introduced in this section couples well with the first archetype introduced in the book. It is a nifty tool. Overall this section actually has a bunch of items you would want to buy on a kineticist to help you spend all that money you don’t have anything to spend on.

New Mundane Items These all share the same price and offer a slew of neat bonuses to a kineticist of certain elemental affinities. Again, quite cool and very interesting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Kineticist
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Into the Breach: The Kineticist
by Adam S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2017 23:45:42

A lot of material here.

As a fan of the kineticist I liked several of the options in this book.

The thing I found disappointing is that all the archetypes and prestige classes are element specific.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Kineticist
by Jerry M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2017 18:17:06

The PDF starts off with a brief description of what the series(Into the Breach) is about and then the table of contents. Before this is the cover art and a quote from [i]The Art of War[/i] that I think is really fitting for the class. Well done there.

Right after that we get to the archetypes.

Aetheric Marksman is an Aether Kineticist archetype that allows you to use a longbow or shortbow(with which you are proficient now) to make your Telekintic Blast. The damage you deal changes and feats like Rapid Shot don't work with it, but Weapon Focus(Kinetic Blast) works. The range is 60ft though, not the full increment of the bow, but any enhancements on your bow(like Flaming or Holy) apply and later you get the ability to grant your bow special properties too, albeit in exchange for taking burn. Later class features include turning arrows into small area of effect damage, piercing through a target to hit another and deal bleed, and shooting an arrow that digs itself deeper into the target.

Archetype Opinion: Not a bad archetype, but unless you can use Gather Power on the features that require burn(which I think you can, but I'm not sure) I don't see it being an all day use class.

Hellfire Kineticists(only available to devil-spawn tieflings) start off with an amazing ability: Half the damage of their fire blasts deal unholy damage. The second ability is an infusion(replacing first level infusion) that sickens or nauseates depending on if the target makes their save.

The part that makes me really hesitant is giving up elemental defense and a bunch of utility talents for being treated as an Outsider(Evil) and scaling bonus to fire and poison effects. Fire's Defense isn't good enough to warrant keeping it, but you can't gain one from any other element.

Later abilities include being able to know if someone has comitted an evil act and what it was, an imp familiar, and a pretty cool capstone.

Archetype Opinon: Pretty cool and evocative. It's a pretty neat archetype that is NOT evil only. Good job on this one, FPG!

Wind Whistler is an Air Kineticist archetype. I'm not so sure about it's first ability, which deals damage based on your Perform(wind) checks instead of adding your Constituion modifier. It's interesting, but skews damage a bit.

Next [i]all[/i] infusions are given up in exchange for getting bardic performances, including two unique to the archetype. Both are really cool, especially the one that allows you to give your Enveloping Winds to someone else! The rest of the abilities are equally good as well, with my favorite being trading your composite blast(you must choose Air are your expanded element) for a bardic masterpiece instead. You only get one though, but you can switch it out for free at 12th and 17th level for another one.

Archetype Opinion: This is just great. Without a doubt my favorite of the three archetypes. I'd have gone into more detail on describing the rest of it's abilities, but there are a lot and I don't wanna spoil them for anyone. :)

Prestige Classes: A sorely lacking option for kineticists so far. We get two in this PDF.

Aetheric Assailant is the Eldritch Knight of Kineticists, though it's a bit harder to get into(five feats[though on is armor proficiency], at least 3rd level kineticist, and one infusion).

It has full Base Attack Bonus and can use kinetic abilites(supernatural or spell-like) while Raging, which is a nice touch. You don't have to be a barbarian though, as even under the effects of the spell [i]rage[/i] you can use your abilities.

It also has the ability to add ther weapon damage dice(if using one) to their Kinetic Blade, but it comes at a hefty price: you target normal Armor Class and take cumulative burn for each attack beyond the first you make. Yikes!

It does get better from their though, with other abilities like your prestige class levels counting as kineticst and your martial class level for feats, channeling your Aether blast into your shield and/or armor, and even wielding one(or more!) weapon from afar. The capstone is being able to accept 1 extra point of burn in a round and free trip attempts when you confirm a critical hit.

Prestige Class Opinion: Pretty nice. I love prestige classes that you multiclass for, and Aetheric Assailant is really well made and balanced. I'd certainly play one.

Cerulean Star is for Pyro Kineticists that expanded into Fire twice. It's a five level prestige class that requires you to have Blue Flame blast to qualify. The weirdess bit is that Cerulean Stars gain proficiency with starknives. I mean, I get it, Star is in the name, but come on...

This prestige class is all about destroying undead. Your blast deals more damage against undead, you gain Kinetic Healer without needing Aether or Water that later can fix conditions like nauseated, setting undead on 'fire' that deals holy damage, and the capstone ability reduces your current burn by one every time you use Cerulean Fire to destroy an undead. I feel like that should've been the fourth level ability though, since their Heavenly Radiance ability at level 4 allows you to make your Cerulean Fire deal either full Holy damage, half Fire and half Holy, or full Fire damage as you choose. That's amazing.

Prestige Class Opinion: For what it does this prestige class does it well. While it is good at destroying undead it also has potential for fighting other kinds of evil creatures. It's a lovely class that has it's place in just about any campaign.

Now we move on to the new Elements.

Bone, first, is very creepy. It should be. Talents you can pick up include causing bones spurs to erupt out of the ground or give your blasts the [i]ghost touch[/i] quality. The defense is pretty thematic too.

Chaos is next and it have a [i]very[/i] unusual blast. First it is treated as [i]bane[/i] against Lawful subtyped creatures, deals no damage to Chaotic subtyped creatures, and changes damage dice into d20s and d12s as it increases. Whoa, weirdness! The defense gives you bonuses to avoid being grappled and getting out, lower armor check penalty, and gives you fortification that stacks with elemental overflow.

Crystal's defense is one that doesn't scale. Not by accpeting Burn, anyway. It gives you an armor bonus to your Armor Class and Touch Armor class that's based off of Con, and can blind those that hit you, no save, for a round. Crystal also has neat talents like increased crit range, bleed damage, and deflecting rays.

Dream is another with a neat blast. Think [i]shadow evocation[/i] but mimics other kinetic blasts instead. Need fire damage? Use it. Targets do get a will save for drastically reduced damage, and its mind-affecting so immunites and resistances apply. It's defense lets you continue to function if something makes you fall asleep, and you can accept to gain bonuses against mind-affecting spells and effects. It's not all nice though, as one utility talent is [i]phantasmal killer.[/i]

Time has two different blasts, one for aging others and another to throw weapons like a TK blast. It's defense is a Dodge bonus you can accept Burn to increase. It has a utility talent for running or charging up walls and across ceilings, so you have some nice movement options too.

There is a great section about Spark of Life and the new elements, and feats after that like treating one elemental defense as already having one point of Burn, or qualifying for any item creation feat. Kineticists making potions of Mage Armor and wands of Fireball are possible now, and that's great.

One feat really stands out as a way to act like you are less of a threat or be more careful with your damage. Merciful Blast treats any blast damage as non-lethal and you can reduce the damage you deal like you were a lower level than you really are. This is great for a few reasons, like a villain working with the party and not want to reveal the extent of their power.

After that there are sections for magical and mundane items, a quick glance of which really fit and looks nice.

All in all this is a great pdf that expands on the kineticist in ways I feel have been needed while also being different from other books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:19:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of multiclass-feats for bard-multiclasses clocks in at 6 ages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages, so let’s take a look!

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

All righty, after a brief introduction, we go through the feats alphabetically – you know the drill!

-Acting Over Action: Extra Performance is added to the list of bonus feats; alternatively, you can learn a bardic masterpiece you meet the prereqs instead.

-Bursting With Knowledge: Levels from a Knowledge (all) class skill class stack with bard levels for bardic knowledge.

-Cantrip Conversion: You reduce your bard cantrip array, but may convert a bard cantrip towards one of the other class when preparing spells. Interesting.

-Competent Precision: When using inspire competence, you can elect to expend twice the number of bardic performance rounds; if you do, an ally within 30 ft. targeted gains your sneak attack, while you lose it for that duration. This is amazing. Big time.

-Inspired Hymn: Designate smite target and start inspire courage higher; if the smite target is evil, treat the performance benefits as +5 higher. Neat.

-Inspiring Beatdown: When using a flurry (monk’s or brawler’s) while maintaining a bardic performance, you can spend 2 performance rounds as a swift action and make an easy Perform (Percussion) check – on a success, you increase the performance’s benefits as though your levels is +5 higher for 1 round. Nice!

-Musical Implement: When using an implement instrument while maintaining a bardic performance, the implement school spells are at CL +1. Mechanically simple, but makes SO MUCH SENSE. Oh yes, my violin’s haunted…

-Partners in Harmony: As a full-round action, have both you and linked companion (phantom, eidolon, animal companion, etc.) start a performance, provided the companion has Perform. Level of the performance increases by +5, but you consume twice the bardic performance rounds.

-Practiced Appel: Increases save DC of performances and penalty duration of performances and masterpieces versus favored enemies.

-Talent Show: 2/day, spend 4 rounds of performance to gain an increment of a talents-usage – these include kineticist talents, ninja tricks, alchemist discoveries, etc. and kineticist talents still cost burn and it only works for talents that work in increments of rounds and minutes – no cheese. Wide open…yet works. Nice.

-You Must be Mistaken: Once per 72 hours, as an immediate action, you can spend any number of bardic performance and make a Charisma check upon violating your order’s tenets – you get +1 to the check per round spent. On a success, you are treated as though you have not violated your edicts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf even has bookmarks, in spite of its brevity.

David S. McCrae delivers big time here – these could have been boring combo/hybrid-y mix-feats – instead, he has elected to go the extra mile and instead do something creative, unique with each of these feats, all while staying concise and precise. Being literally all killer, no filler, this humble supplement provides some seriously nice tactics for musically-inclined characters. Add to that the low asking-price and we have a great file, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
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Into the Breach: The Bard
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2017 14:30:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "Into the Breach"-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

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

We begin, as often, with a variety of new archetypes, the first of which would be the chronicler of blades, who gains a modified proficiency list that includes all the dueling weapons and at 1st level, they get Weapon Focus in their choice of short sword, longsword or rapier - which is a bit odd: Why include exotic weapons in the proficiency-array and then don't allow for their choice via this class ability? 2nd level yields Dazzling Display and every 4 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat, chosen from a generally well-selected array, and uses class level as BAB for the prerequisite purposes. At first level, he similarly uses class level instead of his BAB when making an attack or combat maneuver attempt with a sword for which the archetype has Weapon Focus while wearing light armor and no shield heavier than a buckler. You have guessed where this goes by now, right? Yep, this guy is basically a spell-less bard. Instead of well-versed, the archetype gets +4 (untyped) to learn or remember features of blades, which is pretty circumstantial. Instead of versatile performance, the archetype receives venerable gambit, which is usable 1/day, +1/day at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter. A venerable gambit is a Knowledge (history, nobility or local) check - 1/2 the result is added as a competence bonus to atk or CMB when using a sword. The definition could be a bit clearer here and while the skill-check can be boosted very high, the daily limit keeps this in check - combined with the lack of spellcasting, I can see this work. All in all, a martial bard, most suitable for lower powered games (or even magic-less ones!).

The courtless marvel replaces inspire courage with summon nature's ally, increasing the spell that's duplicated iteration by +1 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter - 5th level would allow for summon nature's ally III, for example. Speaking of which - at 5th level, several fey are added to the potentially called creatures, replacing lore master. And yes, the ability does have a caveat that prevents spamming it or stacking it via dismissing - no performance/summon-cycling and maintaining the creatures requires maintaining the performance. This is pretty interesting and even takes the item interaction into account. Instead of inspire greatness, 9th level provides the option to grant an ally the speed of a quickling, +1 ally affected for every 4 levels thereafter. Rules-wise, this increases all movements speeds and provides concealment.

No complaints. 12th level provides a stunning glance performance, including a caveat that prevents spamming it and a proper range and codification. At 15th level, inspire heroics is replaced with dance of fate: Choose an ally and a hostile creature within 60 ft of each other - if one is affected, so is the other. This is strategically interesting and pretty potent. Versatile performance is replaced with the fey theme, granting at 2nd and every 4 levels after that a spell known from the druid or ranger list. While the ranger-list is potent, it's the only thing I'd consider a bit wonky here. Well-versed is replaced by wild empathy at full level at 2nd level and 10th level provides a massive DC-improvement (1/4 class level, rounded down) to enchantment spells, but also makes the character more susceptible to the tricks of the fey. I really like this one. It has a strong theme, is pretty creative and while it is possible to poke small holes in some aspects of it, these won't usually come up in most games and are more something to be aware for the rules-savvy crowd. Still, really like this!

The fabulist employs Wisdom as the governing spellcasting attribute and gains an arcane bond with an animal as well as a domain from a limited list - and yes, they're cast as arcane spells, but loses countersong and well-versed. The "darker" performances are replaced with new ones - unfortunately, e.g. morsel of Wisdom is pretty nasty, allowing the fabulist to make an ally use his Wisdom modifier for all saves, ability checks and skill checks. while the performance is maintained...but the balance here would be that the performance cannot be started quickly and the fabulist can only grant one such bonus per performance, thus requiring cycling and a lot of action economy investment, rendering the power more moderate. Higher levels yield a performance-based planar ally and a capstone atonement, which is relatively fitting. Something that felt a bit weird: The archetype RAW gets a domain, but only specifies getting domain spells, which makes me think that the other crunchy bits are not gained...but I'm not sure there. The ability could be read either way.

The grotesque gets diminished spellcasting and replaces inspire courage with a powerful debuff. Dirge of doom can additionally be used as a variant that causes the sickened condition, rather than the shaken one, and similarly, 14th level yields a variant of frightening tune that can nauseate. The true unique selling point of the archetype, however, would be the disturbing acts - one is gained at 1st level and another one at 5th level and every 5 thereafter, excluding 20th, replacing bardic knowledge and well-versed. These take basically the classic Freakshow tropes and represent them as rules - and they are pretty potent: DR for being pierced by knives is solid, but the more intriguing ones would be the option to eat objects and regurgitate them, being able to initiate bardic performances as a free action after being hurt (and choosing to bleed profusely), the tricks are cool. Not all are perfect or equally potent or well-codified. The bite attack, I assume, would be primary as per default. Fire-spitting lacks a range and compared to it, the option to switch between multiple rings is much more potent. Similarly, the rules-language oscillates a bit, stumbling at basics, while getting, surprisingly, the option to be able to wear swarms and have them as unreliable quasi-pets pretty well done. I have a soft spot for the outcasts and this resonated very much with me - while not perfect, its blemishes can be easily fixed by a competent GM.

The jester is basically an Antagonize specialist who can use Perform (Dance) instead of Acrobatics for movement-related tricks and he also gets sneak attack and the evasions at higher levels instead of spellcasting. The option to use japes to render targets flat-footed on a failed save for multiple rounds needs some nerfing and an activation action, though. The lifeweaver, if the name was not ample indicator, would be the healing bard, who adds some condition-healing spells to his arsenal, while also gaining Lingering Performance (with a cap). The performances the archetype gains center on granting healing tricks to the performances -as well as the option to evenly divide damage among limited allies - which is very potent, but also cool. While the rules-language is very precise, it lies in the nature of this type of ability that it may present some issues to some groups...but at the same, it can make for a great "united we stand"-feeling among PCs and players, but also vastly enhances the value of DR and resistances. Pure amazing for some groups, broken for others...I'm divided on this one. Compared to that. the resistance-granting is less precise and fails to clarify the energies that qualify - does force count? Sonic? Channel energy at 1/2 class level can also be found. I like this archetype, but wish it was slightly more polished.

The matchmaker is really cool: He can choose and coach clients, use serenades to cause infatuation and use bardic performance to maintain matches between unlike beings. Very interesting and flavorful choice! The prop comic can only use Perform (comedy)-based masterpieces and gets diminished spellcasting...but at higher levels, he can designate targets as "lovely assistants", making them the butt of the joke (i.e. the one on the receiving end). At 2nd level and 5th, as well as every 3 levels thereafter, the archetype gets a schtick, which use Perform (Comedy) instead of CMB and have their saves governed by Cha ( 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha-mod), if applicable. Props need to be crafted, have a cost and a limited number of uses. They use bardic performance as a resource and are REALLY COOL. Use Battle Flatus, to force enemies to use immediate actions to move away from the fart-noise, interrupting combos. Use big-wig cigars to cloud yourself in smoke...or stick it in a foe's mouth and have it explode, using dirty tricks. These are creative, cool and really fun - and they include forcing pious characters to attack irreverent symbols. I love these. I seriously do. As an avid Joker-fan, I really want to see MORE of these. For me, this may well be the best archetype the Flying Pincushion crew has crafted so far. Complex, unique, cool. Seriously, one amazing archetype.

The rookery master gains a familiar (thrush or raven) which shares the performance round pool with the character - basically a pet-performance archetype. Simple, yet elegant. The Skirling Adept can use bardic performance to inflict low-range sonic damage via lethal whistles, gaining a familiar as well as the option to use totem spears more effectively and later shatter things or call lightning/wind wall - the archetype may not be as mechanically interesting, but its strong theme makes it a fun and flavorful option. The song bow is a sling specialist who can use slings as wind instruments, bows as fiddles. He can imbue sonic damage in his ammunition and may also fire ammo at empty squares and use it as origin of his performance. Big plus: The rules-language of the complex concept hits home. Sorry, I'll punch myself for that lame joke later...) At higher levels, allies share bonuses against targets hit by rallying shots and higher level options, we have sonic AoE-blasts - and yes, all of this is balanced and the archetype gets some custom spells added. Powerful, but damn cool option. The Squad Leader, finally, would be one of the more complex archetypes - he gets a tactician-like network of allies, the bound squad, and may use his urgent commands to allow for bonuses, teamwork feat sharing, grant additional AoOs - basically, this fellow represents a battle lord-ish commander. Potent and solid.

Now each of the Into the Breach-books has a PrC that aims to make a subpar class-combo worthwhile - this time around, the 5-level Holy Rhapsodist, with d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-Progression as well as 5/5th spellcasting progression does just that for the paladin and bard classes. The class enhances sonic damage of weapons wielded and smite may be turned into sonic damage that is more potent against evil targets. The PrC counts as paladin levels and bard levels for the purpose of lay on hands/mercy and bardic performance-progressions. These guys may expend lay on hands while performing to AoE heal and later even apply mercies and add buffs to allies. The 4th level ability should refer to character level, not class level, though - it's clear from context, but still a bit confusing. Oh, and woe to those that are on the receiving end of the smite of these guys...allies also get a damage boost...Powerful and interesting hybrid fusion PrC.

The mime is an alternate bard class that must be humanoid or a native outsider. The mime gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves. They do not get weapon proficiencies, but don't take penalties from using improvised weaponry. Their spellcasting is governed by Cha and something special...much like the whole class. Remember Final Fantasy 5 and 6? You see, the basic bardic performance of this class deals with just that: Copying the tricks of nearby allies. Attacks. Defense. Feints....a LOT of tricks can be used this way and the class manages to codify the tricks rather well. I do have a couple of questions here, though: The copycat performance is a standard action, but can be used on e.g. an ally full-attacking a foe - does this also grant a full attack to the mimic? If so, does it have to be executed against the same target as the copied action, if any? Apart from this ambiguity, the class feature is clear, which is pretty impressive. Beyond this copying of targets, the class gets a limited resource 3/day, +1/day at 3rd level and every 2 levels beyond 3rd. These allow for the emulation of class features, feats and even limited item use!! Interesting from an RPG point of view: Mimes have a vow of silence that can be a detriment and roleplaying challenge, but that also has its perks - mimic'd spells are Silent sans spell-level increase, for example. While not perfect (it also has e.g. a non-capitalized skill-reference), the mime is still by far the coolest and most creative alternate class the FPG-crew has made - I really like it. Unique, interesting and well worth making the GM-call regarding copycat.

The pdf then introduces us to fairy plays -these are basically single-use scrolls...but in awesome and fun. Each play has a variety of roles. Within 10 minutes, all roles (each of which must be filled by a different character) must try their task (usually, one has a high DC, the others lower DCs) - the fairy play then takes effect, depending on the number of successes. And yes, these make traveling troupes of even low-level actors potentially a threat. They have a tactical dimension and the more successes you can garner, the better the effects...or, well, actually, the effects differ in creative ways: 1 success: Rain of frogs (poisonous); 2: Make the frog's croaking hypnotic. 3: Veil the performers. Glowing, creepy pumpkins that can float and duplicate dancing lights (not italicized), an alarm-version (they shout "BEWARE!") and the option to detonate them in blinding bursts make this one rather interesting. While guidelines for more are provided, I wish we got more than the 3 provided - somewhere between quirky magic item and skill challenge, these are fun for the group and feel very much magical. I like them!

The pdf concludes with 7 magic items - the flying lion gong can accompany the character and rewards readied strikes for coordinated attacks. Hell's hurdy-gurdy brings out the debauchery in devils, while a mask can fortify against fear while using bardic performance, as long as the character incorporates buffoonish fear in the performance. Moonlight strings heal, while peddler's charumeras can instill hunger or thirst and sylph slippers enhance dances and may carry the dancer across pressure plates and even water. the star here, though, would be the siege carillon. Think Skaven bell. Think war organ. Smack in the middle between instrument and magical siege engine, this apocalyptic device can vastly enhance the power of the bard, his range and durations, charm targets and emit devastating bursts of apocalyptic sonic damage after tolling no less than 23 bells - 1 or 2 may be sounded per round as a move action. This is basically an amazing fight and had me come up with numerous scenarios on how I'll use this monster. It's basically a bardic fantasy tank!! Come on! How cool is that??

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have significantly improved over earlier installments in the series - they're now what I#d call good, bordering on very good. While some unfortunate hiccups and omissions can be found herein, the most significant improvement pertains rules-language, which now tackles significantly more complex concepts than ever before in the series, with greater precision than ever before in the series. Whatever the Flying Pincushion crew did here, I hope they'll continue to do it! Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard with really nice, well-chosen pictures, which I have not seen previously in other supplements. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I couldn't have asked for a more rewarding review to write after my real life-related, brief hiatus. Benjamin Wilkins, Frank Gori, Kris Newton, Jeff Harris (who also acted as editor) and David S. McCrae (who acted as lead developer as well) are back as well and finally make true on what I have always said in these reviews: There is potential here.

While this book began less than spectacular, slowly but surely the gems among the archetypes accumulated; while some have minor hiccups and require a GM-call, they are worth making that call. Instead of going for easy or simple routes, we have complex archetypes here - even the multi-class-y ones sport their unique playstyles and engines and many of them left me wanting more! Moreover, I have never seen an accumulation of this many cool variants for the bard before. The PrC is valid and potent, the alternate class amazing (if you do clarify copycat) - and when there are issues, they are cosmetic or stem from the archetypes aiming for the stars, for the high echelons, regarding their themes, ideas and leitmotifs. There is not a single option herein that I'd consider lame, redundant or filler.

Not all archetypes herein will be for every campaign, sure - but whether you prefer gritty low fantasy, high-powered hijinxs, whether you're looking for an option for a cleric-less game...the pdf offers a lot of really cool material. Oh, and then there are the no-filler, evocative magic items and the woefully short, few fairy plays, blending all-party kinda skill challenges with magic item use, while explaining how those traveling troupes not get eaten after the first bend in that nasty, monster-infested wilderness -so whip out that Skill Challenge Handbook (you do have that, right?), blend them and make more of them ASAP! (And yes, they work sans that book, but I like to unify my systems...)

In short: This is the first "Into the Breach"-review that will not feature a big "but" - this book has heart, passion and made me smile from ear to ear. As a person, I love this and consider it to be one of the best bard-supplements I've read. If you're confident in being able to make some rules-calls and judging which archetypes work for your game, then this is gold. However, as a reviewer, I have to remain fair, my own excitement none withstanding. There are a couple of instances where the ambitious, complex concepts could have used that one sentence to make them perfect, where the abilities needed a teeny bit more, where ranger spells should be available at higher levels, where skills are not capitalized. This is not perfect. That being said, I have always preferred slightly flawed, ambitious and cool concepts over lame cookie-cutters that are perfect. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars. If you want a perfect go-play book, round down; if you're looking for an inspiring toolkit full of joy and style, then round up. I can't award this my seal, but only due to its imperfections. Still, rounding down would be a disservice to the obvious passion, care and heart's blood that went into this. Did I mention the apocalyptic bardic battle tank?? Seriously, if you haven't checked out the Flying Pincushion's work, give this a shot. Now excuse me, I need to plan on which of my villains I'll put on that tank...

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Bard
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Into the Breach: The Bard
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2017 16:11:58

An Ehn's Gaming Foundry review

Today’s book is Into the Breach: The Bard, a mechanics book for the class that seeks to expand its options. First impressions are that the art and layout are sound; not amazing, but pretty nice for the cost of the book, which is always nice to see. We’re looking at about 40 pages of content here, so let’s get into it.

We start off with the chronicler of blades, which while a cool name, isn’t really my favorite archetype. We get some slightly different weapon proficiencies, bonus feats, but we lose all spellcasting, and that’s just…that’s no good. There’s no class feature here which really draws me back in after such a hard loss, so this definitely doesn’t work for me.

The courtless bard on the other hand has a very interesting mechanic of summoning a creature as per summon nature’s ally in place of inspire courage, with the creature lasting as long as you perform. Shimmering speed in place of inspire greatness is interesting too, giving a decent miss chance to allies. Stunning glance probably lasts a tad longer than I’d like (2d4 rounds), but with all the caveats and tags it has, it’s probably fine. As a whole, this is a very fun fey themed archetype.

Fabulist is our next archetype, and while the ability to get a familiar is nice, it’s odd that there would be options for non-familiar creatures, an oversight I don’t really like. Getting access to some domain spells is huge though, easily worth the trade here. Morsel of Wisdom is odd though, as it’s just a modifier swap, not really a huge deal here. Fabled Friend has a lot of potential to be busted, as it’s a planar ally effect that can be done quite a bit, and its capstone is highly situational.

Grotesque is an odd name for an archetype, and it’s already starting with reduced casting, along with a debuff to enemy attacks in place of a buff to your allies attacks. You’d need at least as many enemies as allies to make this a fair swap, at least to me. Sickening stunt and twisted masterpiece are fun additions though, and most of the disturbing acts are very flavorful and decently powerful as well. The flavor really sells this archetype, making it a favorite.

But Jester…is bad. Capering and cavorting is NOT worth losing spellcasting, and nothing in the archetype comes close to validating that. It even replaces casting at 2nd level, so do I get casting at 1st level, and just lose it the next?

Now lifeweaver starts hard, getting some new spells added to their list and free lingering performance with a bonus to it. As a whole, it’s a solid white mage archetype with altered performances to make sure that everyone stays on their feet, done in a way that’s thematically satisfying. While it might be a touch too good at its job, when it’s support, I can give it a pass.

The matchmaker is…very NPC-y. Like reading through its features, it’d make a great NPC, but as a player archetype, it’s far too specific in what it does. I really don’t think it needed to lose armor and weapon proficiencies though, but I guess that helps it fit its NPC role.

With prop comic, we have an interesting tone shift, and while I think using your perform (comedy) bonus in place of BAB (maybe ranks would be more fair), this is a very interesting archetype. With the amount of time and effort that goes into schticks, this feels more NPC-y, but at the same time, as a one shot character, this would be a blast.

Rookery Master is pretty standard, but the ability to start a bardic performance with a familiar while already doing so yourself is crazy powerful. It’s a pretty okay archetype aside from that, but getting extra familiars too is really pushing things.

Things that made unique weapons good are my jam, and skirling adept does that. Easy sonic damage for a round of bardic performance isn’t bad, and audimancy is an appreciable damage boost to both the few sonic spells there are as well, but dulcet duelist isn’t explained very clearly (it’s not a great ability, so it’s not a huge issue). Shattering resonance is another nice flavorful ability though, and windstorm whistle is just cool, definitely an archetype I enjoy.

Now song bow starts by giving us some utility with bows and slings (and proficiency with them), but singing arrow (or somewhere later in the book) should give stats for singing arrows or groaning bullets if they’re going to be required for a class feature. Aural shot feels like it should have more limitations, especially with being able to use it with lingering performance. With Rallying shot, the daily limit feels fair, but I’m still not in love here, and I really wish concussive shot had a ceiling for the damage, although the possible free trip is probably the better ability here. I do like tremor shot and the added spells though, so as a whole, I’m a fan.

We start off squad leader with weaker spellcasting and the ability to form squads, as well as the explanation of how commands work. Personally, with all the commands here, I’d say I like this better than the base bard, as it gives a lot of tactical options that really drive home the theme in a solid and mechanical fashion. Really, this is just a great archetype that I’m probably going to adopt into my games.

And here we get to the prestige class, the holy rhapsodist, which is intended for bard/paladin multiclasses. The prereqs are easy enough to meet, and it’s a d8 3/4th BAB class with a good fort and reflex save, getting 4 skill ranks per level. The class thankfully progresses casting, although you’ll be hurting from the 2 paladin levels needed to get in this prestige class. We start with holy resonance, which isn’t really great, as deafened is pretty weak, and it’s adding a second damage type, so not a huge fan here. Voice of the divine though is nice, as it keeps lay on hands and bardic performance from dropping off.

For needing to pay two uses of lay on hands, psalm of healing feels too weak to me, especially with that half healing caveat. Psalm of mercy would be better if you had enough paladin levels to get mercies, but bard levels are more important to keep your casting strong beforehand. Clarion call feels like it’s intended to only work with bardic performances that give bonuses to to saving throws, but even without that, it’s pretty meh. The entire prestige feels very unnecessary, like it was an afterthought.

Finally, we end with the mime alternative class, which has the same basic chassis as the bard, so we’re going to skip to class features…so, no armor or weapon proficiencies…cool. Spells are…confusing. Copycat is…okay, it’s interesting, and I hate to call back to non tabletop related things, but this feels like a conversion of the Mime class from Final Fantasy Tactics. Copycat makes casting really clunky, and as far as I can tell, you get a free round’s worth of actions. Distraction is just really situation, and the mimic ability feels gameable, especially with wand/potion mimic, which doesn’t take into account expensive material components. The code of silence is flavorful enough, little annoying, but nothing too bad. Also there’s a ton of dead levels here, like way more than should be considered okay for a product being released in 2017. As a whole, I feel there’s too many mechanics that are just gameable or too complex to make this worth using.

The fairy plays though, those are a lot of fun. An interesting new concept for a magic item that are performance based, these give reason to actually spread out your performance ranks. Both the sample plays given and the possibilities from them are pretty great, definitely a cool way to help make performances unique. There was nothing that felt truly stand out from the magical items to end the book, but they’re small fun diversions none the less.

Mechanics: 3/5

If not for the holy rhapsodist and mime class, this could have gone to a 4 easily, maybe a 4.5. But both of those drag this down significantly, making for either a tepid prestige class or an overly complex alternative class. The archetypes that were bad here were just bad, while the ones that were good were pretty awesome, and fairy plays are a great way to build magic item that’s just painfully flavorful. I appreciate the effort that went into everything, but some of the execution was just lacking.

Thematics: 4/5

The stronger suit of the book is that it really does a great job of making you feel the design goal of each piece of content, which is something that drew me in. While some pieces are weaker than others, the flavor of this book is definitely a large selling point, and there’s quite a few pieces of content in here that you can really feel the care that was taken in making them interesting.

Final Thoughts: 4/5

David S. Macrae along with Benjamin Wilkins, David S. McCrae, Frank Gori, Jeff Harris, and Kris Newton give us a nice group of archetypes with some less than stellar additional content, but when thinking if I would round up or down here, it’s fairy plays that managed to shift my opinion. The entire book has a lot of promise to it, and while there are some parts that I wish were more refined, as a whole this book gives enough value to make it a good purchase if you’re looking to vary your bards and their performances.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Rogue
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/02/2016 12:09:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flying Pincushion Games' class-centric series of pdfs clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with a massive 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin, as always, with new archetypes for the rogue class, the first of which would be the booksmart scout, who receives a modified list of class skills and replaces trapfinding with bardic knowledge. 2nd level needs passive benefits for the scout who successfully identifies hostile creatures instead of the usual evasion gained. 3rd level replaces trap sense with a swift action reroll of a filed Knowledge check at -5.

4th level nets a slightly inelegant ability - I like the notion, though: Increase sneak attack versus successfully identified foes. Alas, the increase is tied to the number by which the DC is beaten, which, considering the ridiculous minmaxing of skills is concerned, can deliver somewhat wobbly results. Adding in a level-based maximum would streamline this one. 6th level nets bonuses to social skills when first gathering info via Knowledge (local)...which is a bit wobbly, considering that you use Diplomacy, RAW, for info-gathering - NOT Knowledge (local). Uncanny dodge is delayed to 8th level and 10th level nets 1/day cognatogen. An okay archetype, though not one that blows me all away.

The second archetype would be the descrier, once again with a modified class skill list and sneak attack's progression is slightly stunted - it's gained at 1st level and progresses by +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter. 1st level also allows for exceptional focus, which, as a move action, lets the descrier gain some bonuses versus the chosen target and deal sneak attack damage versus such a foe, even if the creature would be immune to sneak attack...however, the damage dice is decreased to d4. This signature ability increases at higher levels. Instead of trap sense, you get a bonus feat at 3rd level, 4th level nets keen eyes (sneak versus dazed, entangled, exhausted, frightened or grappled foes), more conditions unlocked at 12th level, and 8th level lets the archetype cause sneak damage versus foes with concealment and bonuses to some skills versus the focused target. The highest level ability, at 16th level, auto-focuses foes properly identified. I like this modification of the chassis - it's solid, though the focus could certainly be used in additional, creative ways.

The third archetype would be the fugitive, who are hard to track, gain Int-mod to initiative and delay sneak attack progression. Generally, I like the idea of making overcome obstacles more dangerous for pursuers, but I certainly wished this one had a bit more precision - RAW, the damage-increase thus gained can make caltrops hyper-lethal and is permanent. A timeframe or maximum number affected is certainly required here. 14th level shields versus discern location etc. Haunted Skulks begin play with an oracle curse, but replace their rogue talents with a phantom - I like the idea of a cursed spiritualist-rogue, but losing rogue talents deprives the archetype of cool teamwork set-ups, talent-shares and similar tricks. Basically, this is the minimum-option iteration of the cool concept and falls a bit short of the excellence the idea could carry. The honeypot would be an interesting face-type archetype - the baseline of this one would be that the archetype is about generating an appealing look that increases Cha, but also makes everyone notice the character more easily. Yeah, it's basically the dandy/goth-archetype. ;) Kidding aside, gender neutrality at higher level makes this a nice homme/femme fatal(e)-iteration. Solid.

The kinetic sneak would e up next and 2nd level nets elemental focus and kinetic blast, though simple blast does not scale and surprise blast allows for sneak to damage via a feint...which is generally an issue: The class needs to use two actions, win the skill check and then hit for the bonus of a signature ability...all in all, a rogue with a bit of kineticist cobbled on. Not a fan.

Okay, so far, I have not been too impressed - that changes pretty much with the master hawserier archetype; with a grappling hook and lasso instead of hand crossbow/rapier in proficiency, the also gain +1 skill point at 1st level, to be invested in Craft (rope). Yes. You read correctly. Rope. We begin with better rope-use and Equipment Tricks at low-levels, but where the archetype becomes interesting is 6th level - here, 5 ropes are chosen from a massive list (+5 at 10th and 14th) - the character may now make these. For example, Blodeuwedd Hair. Or Cavefisher Filament. Yes, these ropes can utilize unique benefits AND come with equipment stats. So yes, even if you don't want to use this cool archetype, the item-scavenging potential here is pretty amazing. So yep, this guy - winner. My one complaint is that it takes pretty long until you get to the cool special ropes. I would have added level prereqs and dispersed the rope-gains more through the levels - as written, you have 3 bumps of versatility-trick gains, which is engine-wise less satisfying than continuous growth. Still: Nice work!

The Poacher is basically a ranger/rogue hybrid with trap emphasis. Okay, I guess, but I'm not blown away by the guy. The Quarrel knave would be more interesting - the idea behind this archetype is a valid dual-hand crossbow rogue, which does have means to use Acrobatics to deal with reload-based AoOs. I like the archetype's concept. Alas, the precision exhibited is not 100% there - 6th level unlocks Hail of Needles, which is basically flurry with hand crossbows...got ya...just, well, flurry is usually melee and thus, this needs a slight rewrite. While Rapid Reload takes care of the iterative attack issue with crossbows, the archetype does not note how interaction with the TWF-tree works here, since the base flurry builds on aforementioned feat-array. The archetype does get cool, Green Arrow-style modification of crossbows, class level points to customize them...and I really like these modifications, though, once again, at 8th level, they are pretty late in the game and I wished these signature tricks would be gained sooner. Conceptually cool, but has some rough edges.

Okay, so the next one sounds wonky, but stay with me - the trickster chef is a cooking specialist, who gains a nonlethal, save-based version of sneak attack - snack attack. Sounds lame? It's anything but that! You see, the archetype may select various recipes and snack attacks...well, make the target HUNGRY. Thus, presenting the targets with various special recipes (available via rogue talents), these guys can provide buffs, debuffs or soft terrain control - making the playing experience pretty cool and unique. Beyond this, the archetype actually gets a trick to further modify the properties of the meals cooked by using slain magical beasts...allowing for a bit of numerical tweaking. The most rounded of the archetypes so far and a rewarding, nice experience that could have carried +10 pages, engine-wise. The walking arsenal is a rogue who can hide weapons well, stitch them in clothes etc. -solid, but not an archetype that blew me away. The wild handler gets an animal companion and stunted sneak progression, but may have the companion employ rogue tricks. Pretty powerful, but considering the base rogue's issues, I'm good with that. Solid, but not amazingly creative.

Unchained rogues also get some options, the first of which would be the brickbat striker, who gets a modified skill- and proficiency-list and d4 sneak attack dice. However, he does get ruinous assault at first level, which is basically an ability that lets you forego sneak attack damage dice in favor of inflicting various detrimental conditions, including entangling foes, sicken them or setting up higher DCs (the DC, if applicable, is btw. based on Dex and includes 1/2 class level scaling) and much like deeds, new options are unlocked at higher levels - 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th, to be more precise. Basically, a deed-like engine. The Bunk mentalist is based mostly on skill unlocks, unlocking a mentalism power alongside every skill unlock - think of these as unique, additional unlocks: Handle Animal, for example, nets you Animal Empathy at full class level. Learning one piece of info about Appraised items is a cool narrative device and a 3-round period of grace versus scrutiny when disguised similarly is nice. It should be noted that not all skills offer such powers, though. Pretty intriguing one. The Guild Capo can "add an additional +2 morale bonus to aid another actions." As what action? Sure, it becomes apparent in the follow-ups of the ability (since AoO decreases from standard to swift) but the base ability should specify the action to activate. Similarly, what's the range? Is line of sight required? Sure, the recipient must hear the capo...but you get the idea - the ability is functional, but could be clearer. 2nd level nets tactician and latter levels allow for teamwork feats instead of rogue talents. The sharpshooter is basically an archer-based rogue archetype and may inflict damage to foes unaware of the sniper...and OUTSIDE the first range increment. At short range, some penalties can be applied to foes nearby. My favorite non-complex archetype herein, though at-range sneak can be brutal - I'd most certainly add in a caveat that being hit by the first arrow constitutes being made aware of the sniper.

After all of these archetypes, the pdf also presents the Libertine variant class at d8 HD, 8+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all types of armor and shield. The key ability would be intrigue, gained at first level - the ability's precise effects depend on the interpersonal relationship with another creature: The attitude of the creature to the libertine determines the type of benefits the libertine receives. When the attitude changes...well, the bonus is lost, for the ability is predicated on 48 hours of one attitude. One can be maintained at 1st level , +1 at 5th and every 5 levels thereafter. As a standard action, libertines may reveal secrets of targets gained to cause negative conditions to the subjects of her intrigue, with increasingly devastating options. The class also gets a scaling bonus versus divine spells and SPs and 2nd level unlocks so-called quirks - basically, the talents of the class. These can employ both buffs and debuffs - see, the thing is, that several of these require basically an ally to be affected by intrigue. So far, the main issue of this roleplaying-centric class would be the restrictions imposed upon the intrigue as core mechanic...and a lack of notes on what kind of action is required to determine/switch intrigues. Alas, the rules-language of this class does feature some unpleasant hiccups beyond this -take the shameless ability: "As a standard action, the libertine interrupts another creature who is casting a spell..." Read that sentence very closely. Let that stand as an example. The libertine, as a concept, is something I really like; heck, I consider myself to be at least a bit of a decadent libertine. I want to like this class and enjoy its roleplaying focus...but it needs some upgrade to its combat utility and some serious streamlining of its rules-language, which is pretty much among the weakest in this pdf. Note that I want to note that this class concept has potential galore - add in some combat-utility and streamlining and I'll really like it. As written, its primary focus lies in very low-powered games.

The pdf concludes with a ton of traits - and these run from solid bonus traits and sport teh proper categories, but also feature some issues: Iconoclasm lets you vandalize holy symbols, altars, etc. as a full-round action. You may worsen the damage with more rounds expended - the more you expend, the longer it'll take to make the item work again. Problem here: How does that interact with enchanted altars? Do the spells collapse? Apart from such minor hiccups, these are solid.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are nice on a formal level, while on a rules-level, the offering could be more concise...though honestly, it ranges as one of the best Flying Pincushion has delivered so far...good development here! Layout adheres for the most part to a 2-column full-color standard with nice artworks in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Richard Litzkow, Andrew Hoskins, Benjamin Wilkins, David S. McCrae, Frank Gori, Jacob W. Michaels, Jeff Harris, Kris Newton, Matt Medeiros and Taylor Hubler's ItB-installment for the rogue is perhaps the most consistent the series has produced so far - this is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. There are almost no glaring issues of the "ruins everything"-variety herein and the pdf actually does feature quite a few nice tweaks for the rogue's engine. While a couple of them are none-too-inspired "mix two classes"-type of archetypes, there are also some that are truly worth getting this for, if only for scavenging - the master hawserier, trickster chef and brickbat striker, to name a few, certainly are interesting tweaks of the system.

This does not change the fact that the supplement, ultimately, is a mixed bag that contains some coolness and some more problematic options. In the end, though, I do believe that this does have some gems that can elevate it above mediocrity...which are balanced out by some of the less amazing components. Hence, ultimately, I can't get higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Rogue
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Tides of War: Volley Teamwork Feats
by Elexious C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2016 12:21:54

A while ago, Flying Pincushion released an addition to their Tides of War line covering volley fire teamwork feats. I had uses for it but really the language made the feats difficult to understand and in some ways the rules as written didn't quite work. But they have since released a revision so here is a retrospective for the new product.

Like the mounted combat feats before it, this Tides of War is very short, with about two pages of usable feats but the pictures reduce it to about one and a half.

The first feat, Group Fire, is simple. Declare that you are making the special attack (A full round action) and anyone close to you with the same feat can make a shot as an immediate action at the same target. This gives everyone a plus one to attack and damage for each attacker at the cost of the participant (aside from the initiator) being staggered the next round. Its easy enough to follow and worthwhile for a gang of enemies or even a single cohort since it nets you at least a +2. There's a bit of weirdness where technically with the wording you don't need an ally to get at least a +1 bonus but given that its one shot for a full round action its not that bad since anyone in their right mind will just make multiple attacks. In fact at least it's something to do with the feat when you don't have allies which is nice I guess.

The rest of the feats require Group Fire and interact with it. Some are obvious, like the clustered shot one, and some seem to be there to compensate for situations where you only have one participant for your group fire. This is nice to have if you're an Inquisitor, or at least I assume so. I question whether or not for the purposes of Solo Tactics the participating ally gets to make an attack, gets the bonus and so on. Given the wording the I assume that the Inquisitor would be the 'source' of the ability and thus starts granting actions but not bonuses. I'm not sure how this works when she would have an ability that calls out granting a bonus to someone or even the clustered shot one. I'm guessing this is why Volley Fire and other teamwork feats function by things happening to you or you doing something than granting actions to allies. Bottom line is that I'm not sure if this is overtly useful for an Inquisitor.

For everyone else this is fine. With enough participants you can increase the threat range of weaker enemies, cluster your shots, get other ranged abilities a chance to participate, and hamper flying creatures among other things.

Everything is clear and easy to understand, which is a huge improvement from the product's previous iteration, but I do think that the inherent nature of how group fire works mucks up any ability that assumes that Teamwork feats don't grant actions or directly affects allies. Being initiated by an action as opposed to the feat enhancing an action does this as well. Case point is how Volley Fire works. As far as I can tell, only Solo Tactics gets confusing with it as it only calls out that participants don't receive bonuses but I don't think the rules intend for it to be able to grant immediate actions. Other than that I would take a hard look at any class feature that interacts with teamwork feats just to make sure.

I want to give this 5 out of 5 stars because the feats do grant new things to do and get creative with teamwork feats while being easy enough to implement, but the very premise is on shaky ground because I'm going to have to check for how it interacts with things. Perhaps Solo Tactics is the only outlier and I just have to rank all of this as mostly useless to it, but with the Inquisitor being one of the main classes that actually uses teamwork feats I'd like to not be confused as to how these feats interact with it. I also can't shake the feeling that this is inherent to teamwork feats not granting allies actions or new things to do specifically because of stuff like this. If we ignore those issues then these work fine whether you're dealing with a cohort or have a group of kobolds that you want to be a bit more dangerous. In the end I'll give this a 'high' 4 out of 5 stars. There's a glaring issue but I don't think you'll encounter the issue in most circumstances that you'll use these feats.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Volley Teamwork Feats
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Mystic Marketplaces: Einjhall's Hall of Exotic Equipment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/31/2016 10:50:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Flying Pincushion Games' Mystical Marketplaces-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 3/4 of a page blank, leaving us with approximately 11 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

Einjhall's is a lavish place for those with means -a purchase limit of 120 K and a base limit of 20K mean that the shop's inventory, both mundane and magical, is geared towards the wealthy and discerning connoisseur. Situated in a two-story chateau, manservants bringing warmed meads and sweet treats, the place has an air of opulence and decadence, with richly carved mahagony pillars hold stone pillars atop merchandise smelling of silk and saffron.

As such, this place is a thankful purveyor of ettercap silk, blink dog hide,d ragon's teeth and similar rare objects - the distinguished pair of owners Einjhall Alpinsonne (the last name meaning, just fyi, Alp's sun and literally also denotes a lesser known mirage-like phenomenon; and I butchered the name to "Einhjall" every time I wrote it...) and Ophan are certainly gentlemen of wealth and taste.

Yes, this reference was intentional, for the two not only sell decadent trinkets toward the fops and dandys and dandysettes- they also have a second, lesser known specialty. Before we come to that, though, I should mention that both the patronage point system introduced in the first installment and the bartering system make a return here.

The shop does feature an array of sample magic items that usually are available in the shop, but the place is by no means restricted to offering just that; in fact, returning customers can not only enjoy meals on the house, they may actually custom order items or gain spellcasting services: The two owners have found a way to make glamours permanent, with sample prices for several given as a means of orientation. Being clothiers at heart, the two aren't the perfect choice for gaining the doom-slayer sword of utter destruction...but more subtle means? Oh yes.

The supplement features3 sample quests that include bidding for a live ettercap on the black market auctions, getting more wraith shawl from the barrows...pretty creative hooks here! Similarly, shop tasks for less risky ways to increase the patronage score can be found herein.

Just take heed when shopping at Einjhall's - this place is very much a caveat emptor type of place, where those that are less scrupulous and know to ask (or just offend the owners) may purchase illicit and cursed items - which may or may not (depending on what the GM decides), be the reason this mob of dandys is causing trouble in the sample encounter. Generally, one could take that as an easy means of introducing the store and hinting at its nature of more than what it seems to be. The situation can be resolved via social skills and combat, with the nobles getting statblocks. Similarly, the owners receive a statblock (both share the same stats) and one glance should make clear that they are not to be trifled with. As far as encounters go that introduce a place, it certainly is a nice encounter that does its job well.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches in the formal and rules-language - Jeff Harris did a good job here. Layout adheres to a full-color 1-column standard - apart from the blank space on the final page that could have been filled with slightly more text, I don't have much to complain here. The pdf has a nice artwork of a dashing noble's portrait as a sample for the request to be drawn by the owners as well as some neat stock pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Frank Gori, Richard Litzkow and Taylor Hubbler's Einjhall's is a great second installment for the series: The place features unique benefits that make returning here a worthwhile proposition. The general hooks and presentation are fun, with the writing letting the place come to life...though only in a general sense. The framework is here, but if you require a room by room breakdown or want to know the precise merchandise and architecture, that the pdf will not deliver, being map-less and mostly focused on the concept of the store. That being said, since the store is less focused on individual "hotspots" than its predecessor and more on the general experience of shopping here, the lack of a map does not hurt Einjhall's - smart decision here!

While most would associate the kind-of Scandinavian-sounding name with a more rough and tumble place, playing against the trope here works to the pdf's advantage; similarly, the edge and duality of the shop as a leitmotif makes sense and is conveyed rather well via the interesting owners. If I have one complaint versus the content, then that would be the lack of guidance regarding the handling of the less savory items handled by the place - tying access to those via patronage would make sense. I assume that 10-point invitation to dinner with the two would be just that, but the pdf does not explicitly state this. In short - Einjhall's is a worthwhile and inexpensive purchase that makes for a fun and interesting place of opulence and decadence that would be right at home within the bustling streets of Oppara or a similar metropolis.

At the same time, I believe that this pdf does sell itself short a bit: Take the hooks, for example: Why not go for unique, dyed ettercap silk cat-burglar suits? What does one of these nifty wraith shawls do? The ideas here are so cool, I really wished they had also been translated to full magic item/material status! I am, however, complaining at a high level here - this one is imho better than the first installment in the series, mostly due to focusing on the overall experience rather than the individual interaction hotspots. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, still rounded down for now - but if the series keeps this up, the next installment may make the 5!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mystic Marketplaces: Einjhall's Hall of Exotic Equipment
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Tides of War: Rogue/X Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2016 12:05:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1/2 a page blank, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, the first of which, however, is devoted to the introduction to the subject matter at hand - which would be feats for multiclassing rogues.

I assume you're probably all familiar with multiclassing in the first place, what do these feats do?

-Balancing the Craft: When preparing spells exchange either one hex for a rogue talent you don't have or vice versa; you have to meet the prerequisites. The wildcard flexibility offsets some of the issues with multiclass rogue/witch characters. solid.

-Channel Shift: At the start of the day, you may reduce sneak attack bonus damage to increase channel energy by +1d6; once you reach +2d6 channel energy, you may reduce it to increase sneak attack damage by +1d6; as soon as both reach +3d6, you may move 2d6 around this way. This feat is generally nice idea-wise, but personally, I'd value a channel die higher than a sneak attack die, in spite of it being a limited resource.

-Devious Empathy: Use wild empathy to lie to animals. Cool idea...but not sure if it's worth a feat, considering the penalties that still apply and the pretty circumstantial benefits.

-Dextrous Focus: When making a Dex-enhancing mutagen, you may increase the Dex-bonus by +2, but if you do, you also increase the penalty to Wisdom by 2. Nice!

-Energetic Precision: Expend 1st level bloodline or domain power daily uses when successfully using sneak attack to add +1d6 damage and change the damage caused to the type of your bloodline/domain. I like this, quite a lot in fact, though it should probably read "limited use bloodline or domain power" as a caveat versus non-limited abilities that cause energy damage. I'd also be more comfortable if this actually specified the types of energy, but ultimately, that's more of a cosmetic gripe.

-Enhanced Magic Talent: Replace the minor magic rogue talent cantrip with a 1st level sorc/wiz spell. If you gain major magic as a rogue talent later, you gain a 2nd level spell instead of the 1st level spell. For a FEAT? So, I have to waste one or two rogue talents AND a feat for one lousy 1st level spell? Some sorcerors may go for that, but it's a sucky deal for them. Not starting with wizards...

-Inspired Precision: Add +1d6 plus your bardic performance's morale bonus to all precision-damage dealing attacks by you or your allies while you're remaining bardic performance. The feat should specify that allies have to be affected by bardic performance; RAW, allies beyond reach can be affected.

-New Levels of Daring: Whenever you use Acrobatics or missed by enemy attacks and more than 2 attacks of opportunity miss you, you gain 1 grit or panache. When an attack hits you that round, you don't regain grit. You can only do this either Cha (panache) or Wis (grit) bonus times per day. Reviewer puts away the bag of kittens for now...

-Sneaking Glance: As an immediate action, if a target of your glare is denied Dex to AC and is hit by an ally in melee, you may add your sneak attack damage - 1d6 to the attack, usable Cha-mod times per day. Interesting mesmerist-crossover here.

-Trickery over Training: Add Extra Rogue Talent to the fighter bonus feat list.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Flying Pincushion games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid stock art. I am not a fan of the final page's half-empty state - some sort of stock art (or more content) would have made that look less...empty. The pdf has two bookmarks in spite of its brevity - nice.

Frank Gori's multiclass feats for rogues vary in power and coolness a bit; the witch-feat, for example, completely outclasses the sorc/wiz-feat. and there are some minor hiccups in the finer points of the rules-language. That being said, for the low price-point, this still has something to offer for the discerning roguish dilettante. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars...and while I consider quite a few feats herein pretty solid, they feel a bit less streamlined than in the magus-pdf. In the end, I consider this a mixed bag on the slightly positive spectrum of things, but still have to round down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Rogue/X Feats
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Into the Breach: The Rogue
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2016 20:21:02

This supplement is 43 pages, including 39 pages of content. After a brief introduction, we are presented with a barrage of archetypes. The archetypes are divided into what the author calls “Core Archetypes” and “Unchained Archetypes,” the latter of which are meant to modify the Unchained Rogue class from Paizo. This division is somewhat of an odd choice, as it leaves the product without a clear target audience. The non-unchained rogue doesn’t really have a place at the same table as the unchained rogue, except maybe as an NPC class, and even that is a stretch given that it has to sit in the thin region between the Expert, Ninja, and Unchained Rogue. If this book had contained only “Unchained Archetypes,” then it would clearly be useful to someone looking for more support for a relatively new class. If it had had only “Core Archetypes,” then it could target an audience that wanted a low-powered game with NPC-class style classes, and complement Flying Pincusion’s previous [i]Into the Breach: Forgotten Classes[/i] as well as things like Knotty Works’ [i]It’s an NPC World.[/i] As it is, though, anyone who gets this book is going to be ignoring one chapter or the other, which is not a good situation for a book this small. The 12 “Core” archetypes are somewhat hit or miss. For example, the Booksmart Scout trades away Trapfinding and non-skill-related abilities to get Bardic Knowledge and some Alchemist toys. The Fugitive gains flat-out immunity to magic that determines their location, but doesn’t get it until 14th level and everything else the archetype gets is flat number boosts. The Haunted Skulk gets some Oracle and Occultist class features, which are well-implemented except that they are obviously superior to the unarchetyped rogue (maybe this one should have been an “Unchained Archetype?”) On the other hand, the excellent Master Hawserier gets a bunch of unique rope-related abilities which vary depending on the material of rope used. Examples are given from exotic “rope” types ranging from Assassin Vine to Siren Hair to Shark Skin.
Now, we move on to the four “Unchained Archetypes.” The Brickbat Striker has the option to reduce the number of damage dice they roll for Sneak Attack in exchange for applying one of several debuffs to their target, and the strength of the debuff depends on how much damage they give up. This is my favorite archetype in this book and the one I had the most fun playing with.
Moving on, the Bunk Mentalist archetype gets certain “mentalist powers” tied to skill unlocks, with one additional bonus listed for each skill. Unfortunately the abilities are too minor to work as a major class feature, and most of the rest of the archetype is just number boosts.
The two remaining archetypes are called the Guild Capo, which gains intelligence-to-damage with a single (finessable) weapon, and the Sharp Shooter, which gets a bunch of archery-oriented boosts. I haven’t gotten a chance to play or run either of these archetypes yet…. Next comes the Libertine, a full alternate class for the Unchained Rogue. The principle class feature it gets is called an “Intrigue,” which consists of special bonuses relating to (or fighting against) a specific NPC chosen when you first get the class feature. This sort of mechanic has all the pitfalls of the Ranger’s Favored Enemy cranked up to eleven: the class features are very potent as long as the subject of the Libertine’s Intrigue is closely tied to the current events of the campaign, but utterly useless as soon as that character leaves the action. You could probably make it more consistent by using another PC as your Intrigue, but many of the abilities relate to attacking the subject of your Intrigue, so you’d have to ignore those options unless you want to do pvp. The text seems to suggest that assigning the status of an Intrigue to an NPC is temporary, or that it can be swapped out for another Intrigue, but it gives now indication as to how long an Intrigue should last or the method for altering it. The other issue with the Intrigue ability is that many granted abilities depend on the clunkier portions of the Diplomacy skill. For example, you get bonuses depending on the “attitude” of the Intrigue in relation to the Libertine. Building a class feature around something you know a large portion of your audience is going to house rule is a risky move, as it is unclear how to implement numerous Libertine class options alongside the most common Diplomacy house rules. Starting at 2nd level, the Libertine gets “Quirks” which are mostly just Rogue Talents by another name. Advanced Quirks show up at 10th level, too. After some more number boosts and Uncanny Dodge, the Libertine gets another new class feature at 5th level, called “Shameless,” which allows you to make a skill check to negate an enemy’s action. At 11th level, you get an ability called “Hold Court,” which is one of the weirdest class abilities I have ever read. It allows you to invite numerous NPCs to a party/event. The Libertine gets skill bonuses against NPCs who attend the event, while NPCs who reject your invitation face penalties against those who did attend (it’s unclear whether that also includes you). The ability is somewhat vague in how exactly it works, but I have to give the author credit for trying to make a truly novel class feature that doesn’t require a whole new subsystem to introduce. As a capstone ability, you can make an Intrigue permanent, which might be nice except that I don’t know how long an Intrigue is supposed to last in the first place, and it brings back all the issues of the Ranger’s Favored Enemy.
The entire class is indicated as requiring “any non-lawful” alignment for no apparent reason. That’s either a wasted sentence if your group ignores it or an unfortunate limitation if your group enforces it. If you do want to adhere to the class’ alignment requirement, you’ll have to homebrew how it interacts with alignment changes, since the class does not contain an “Ex-Libertine” entry the way the Barbarian and Paladin classes do. Finally comes three pages worth of traits intended for rogues, divided into combat, social, magic, and faith traits. Like the rest of the book, they are rather hit-or-miss based on my initial reading. I haven’t gotten to actually play with any of these traits, though, (my group doesn’t use traits), so take my opinion with a pinch of salt. Short Term Use: I’ll admit, I had difficulty understanding how a few of the abilities worked the first few times I read them, which doesn’t’ happen very often. The Libertine’s Shameless ability took me a couple readings to get, as did several of the Quirks. The easiest way to use this book with minimal prep (that I can think of) might be to plop a Core-Archetype on some NPC rogues. The lack of rules clarity is the biggest impediment to short term utilization of this book. The Libertine class also has a lot of diplomacy-related abilities that don’t make sense on an NPC, so a Libertine NPC would be very difficult to run. Hence, I’ll settle on a Short Term Rating of 2/5.
Long Term Use: The most tantalizing option in this book should be the prospect of using the Libertine class either on a major NPC or a PC, but I don’t think it measures up to the competition. I could maybe envision running a low-powered campaign with mostly NPC classes, and making use of the Core Archetypes in this book (alongside Flying Pincushion’s other product for NPC class options), but several of the so-called Core Archetypes are actually quite a bit stronger and closer in power to the Unchained Rogue. There are some real gems in the Unchained Rogue archetype abilities, though. With a bit of work, some of the Libertine class features may be salvageable too. Overall, this product gets a 2.5/5 Long Term Rating, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform due to the low price.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Rogue
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Tides of War: Volley Teamwork Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2016 09:53:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

The revised version of Flying Pincushion Games' Tides of War-book 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!

This pdf begins with a brief introduction to the subject matter, before presenting several feats. These are based on Group Fire, a combat/teamwork feat that, as a full-round action, allows you to make a single ranged attack while calling to allies within 15 feet that have this feat. The allies may spend an immediate action to also fire on the target you are attacking, with each participant granting +1 to atk and damage, including the initiator. However, allies that perform this attack are staggered on their next turn. Okay, this is a HUGE step up from the first iteration of the pdf, let's see whether the feats that build on this are now similarly solid!

-Arcing Fire: Reduce cover-bonus to AC by half when firing in an arc; requires suficient space, obviously. Solid.

-Call the Firing Line: When you call for a group fire, all participants get your Cha-mod as a morale bonus to attack, but you can do this only a number of times per day equal to your ranks in Profession (soldier). NICE restriction-element here for the powerful bonus!

-Clustering Volley: Add total damage of group shots together before applying DR. Solid.

-Dodge this!: Each participant targets a 5-foot-squares instead, with scaling Ref-saves to negate the attack. Now this one is genius for hitting high AC targets, but damage is calculated only via base damage die. Nice and in line with similar damaging mechanisms.

-Dynamic Duo: When only using Group Fire with two members, both get a free Intimidate-check using the higher result +5. Actually useful for small units, like adventuring groups - kudos!

-Flying Pincushion: Penalize flying creatures with scaling benefits.

-Gauging Shot: Forego any benefits, but grant +2 to atk and damage rolls for your participating fellows.

-Improved Group Fire: Call out for Group Fire as part of a full attack.

-Greater Group Fire: Allies that participate can use their lowest BAB-attack when using Group Fire - if they do, they are not staggered, but may not be part of a Group Fire attack on their next turn.

-Throw Everything: Use group fire with bombs, kinetic blasts, bloodline/domain power-based attacks, etc. and even held spells. This can thankfully not be combined with Clustering Volley.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Flying Pincushion Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf needs no bookmarks at this length.

Frank Gori, with help from David S. McCrae and Jeff Harris has thoroughly revised the original, subpar iteration and created a thing of beauty here - for a low price, you can make creatures (and PCs!) actually fear the power of volleys...and the pdf also expands the usefulness of the feats for purposes of the adventuring groups. With completely cleaned up material, this is pretty much the antithesis to the previous offering: Creative, powerful and sensible, this covers its niche perfectly. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Volley Teamwork Feats
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Tides of War: Magus/x Feats
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/23/2016 09:13:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Tides of War-series 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!

As the first pages of introductory fluff clarifies, this pdf is intended to provide feats that facilitate a magus' means of multicassing synergy - so what do the feats do?

-Arcane Brew: The alchemist crossover feat allows you to spend arcane points as part of casting your spell or attacking to ignore penalties imposed on Intelligence or Strength by mutagens or cognatogens, respectively. Solid, functional, no complaints.

-Arcane Challenge: 1/day, spend 2 points from the arcane pool to get +1 challenge; alternatively, spend 1 point change challenge target. Cool, flexible, no complaints.

-Arcane Performance: After preparing spells, spend up to 1/2 magus level arcane points to gain +3 rounds of bardic performance or raging song for that day per point spent. Nice! Also, 1/day, expend 4 rounds of bardic performance or raging song to regain 1 point for the arcane pool.

-Arcane Rage: After preparing spells, spend up to 1/2 magus level arcane points to gain +3 rounds of rage or bloodrage for that day per point spent. Also, 1/day, expend 4 rounds of rage or bloodrage to regain 1 point for the arcane pool. Interesting - the increased potency would make this a superior trade-off when compared to the previous feat, but base class layout and multiclass-interaction isn't as strong. Comes out as balanced.

-Blood of the Magi: If the 1st level bloodline power has a limited number of uses per day, spend 1 point of the arcane pool as a swift action to regain 1 such daily use. Nice!

-Cantrip Combatant: When using spellstrike or spell combat, you may cast any cantrip with a casting time of 1 standard action in conjunction, not only those from the magus spell-list.

-Focused Smite: Also get +4 to concentration when casting defensively while adjacent to the target of the smite and to concentration-checks prompted by the target of the smite. 1/day regain 1 arcane pool point when defeating the target of the smite. Nice!

-Focused Favoritism: Gain favored enemy bonus to concentration-checks versus one chosen favored enemy. This bonus only applies when casting defensively or adjacent to the target. 1/day regain 1 point of the arcane pool when defeating a favored enemy. May be chosen multiple times, with each new choice applying to a different favored enemy.

-Link Diversion: Gain +4 to concentration while adjacent to your eidolon or phantasm and an enemy. Smooth one! Avoids exploit via melee caveat - NICE!!

-Persistent Hexing: Expend 1 point from the arcane pool as part of using a single-target hex to try to affect the target, even though it has already saved versus that hex within the last 24 hours. May be used 1/2 magus level times per day.

-Spellstrike Infusion: When you accept burn for the kinetic blade infusion to execute spell combat or spellstrike, you can expend 1 point of arcane pool to treat your HD as CL for the spell cast. Nice one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both formal and rules-language levels. Layout adheres to Flying Pincushion Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color stock art. The pdf has minimalist bookmarks, but more is not required at this level of brevity.

Frank Gori's Magus-multiclassing-feats are a return to form for the series after the rather problematic installment on volley archery feats. The feats in this humble pdf are smooth, balanced, lack means to easily abuse them and enhance the multiclass synergy of the magus, in particular for class-combos that would usually be more problematic...and what more can you ask of such a brief little pdf? Granted, I would have loved to see a feat or two more, but what's here works rather well. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars - for one buck most certainly a nice array of feats.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Magus/x Feats
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Into the Breach: The Magus 2nd Wave
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/28/2016 03:44:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Into the Breach-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

It's been quite a ride since Flying Pincushion Games, then still partnered with D20pfsrd.com Publishing, released their second book (and the first one I reviewed), namely the first Into the Breach: Magus. Well...let's just say that it didn't do so well. That being said, the crew has learned quite a bit since then, but does this second trip to the magus fare better than the first one?

We begin this book, as always, with an assortment of different archetypes, the first of which would be the Arcane Engineer. These guys get a modified skill-list (with all rogue-y related skills like Stealth or Disable Device), 6+Int skills per level and a similarly modified weapon and armor proficiency list. Arcane engineers do not learn to cast in medium and heavy armor at 7th and 15th level; rules-language-wise, stating that in the proficiency section is an unnecessary deviation from standard rules formatting. They also modify their spell-list, but, more importantly, may apply the bonuses granted by their arcane pool to objects and armor, but only to one object at a given time. Starting at 5th level, these guys may spontaneously add a limited list of metamagic feats' effects to spells by using arcane pool points equal to the spell level adjustment. While this sounds feasible, the rules-language is pretty wonky and deviates in many regards from how such mechanics usually are phrased.

Starting at 2nd level, these guys may channel spells through equipment - they may, e.g. get an Acrobatics bonus equal to his class level when casting "movement enhancement spell on an item worn on his feet item slot." SIGH For how long? Does non-magical equipment qualify? What constitutes a "movement enhancement spell"? Define. What if he has no item on the feet-slot? Doesn't work as written. To make up for that, targets of their spellstrike may save, even if there is usually no save. OUCH. Wait...what's the save? Fort? Ref? Will? No idea. The archetype also has a significantly expanded arcana section, allowing them to convert spells into arcane pool points - and no, they can't be retrieved via spell recall or improved spell recall. This severely de-limits the arcane pool - and fails to specify whether multiple instances of the same spell prepared also mean that the respective spell can't be recalled. Cosmetic, sure, but still. On the cool side, counting as having the quick trapsmith rogue talent while under the effect of haste can be considered to be an interesting synergy. Regarding almost humorously bad editing glitches: "When channeling the monkey fish spell through a wrist or belt slot item, the arcane engineer may ignore the armor check of light armor when climbing or swimming and add +5 ft to his Swim or Climb speed" Spot the glitches, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, beyond there being a "penalty" missing. Btw.: The maximum ACP for light armors...is -2. Another also nets the following gem: "[the shirt through which a spell is channeled] automatically gains a Heal skill check using the arcane engineer’s Heal skill modifier +10 to attempt to stop bleed damage." So, does the item gain an action? Does this happen immediately? As an action? Things get more wonky - "+8 to the Fly skill as though the arcane engineer were a flying creature." URGH. Does this stack with Fly speed's bonus? The bonus granted by the required spell, overland flight? No idea. This whole archetype is a neat idea, but not functional - it takes a complex concept and tries to beat it into a class chassis not intended for its use...and its wording is sloppy.

The second archetype, the Ebonheart Magus, adds several death-related spells to his spell list, namely death knell, death knell aura and bleed. Starting at 4th level, these guys may expend 1 arcane pool point as a swift action to, for one minute have all touch-range spells dealing hit point damage deal 1/2 their damage as negative energy damage, granting the magus "temporary hit points per level of the spell cast while this ability is in effect." These stack to a maximum of twice (thrice at 11th level) the magus' level and last 10 minutes. The plus-side here, is that death knell and this ability's temporary hit points are properly working in conjunction. The downside being that the magus gains these temporary hit points only once per spell cast. At 11th level, this ability extends its benefits to ranged spells - and here, things become very wonky: What about AoE-spells? Do they grant multiple temporary hitpoints? Technically, they're one "cast," as the ability calls it.

At 7th level, these guys may spend one point from the arcane pool to cast death knell upon reducing a foe to -1 hit points via a melee attack or touch-range spell as an immediate action. This ability gets an upgrade at 16th level. The archetype pays for these benefits with (improved) spell recall, the knowledge pool and counterstrike. The archetype gets 3 arcana for leeching blades. At 9th level, these guys can expend temporary hit points to properly heal or even regain prepared magus spells.

I like what this archetype tries to do: using temporary hit points as an alternate resource and tying it to the limited resources spells, hit points and arcane pool. Unfortunately, there is a reason for why this is usually not done - there are more ways to gain temporary hit points that can be exploited rather hard. Beyond the rules-language hiccups, this means this archetype will not get near my game.

The next archetype is the elemental champion - these guys lose (improved) spell recall and knowledge pool. To make up for this, these guy increase energy damage output and may expend arcane pool points up to Int-mod to change the energy types of spells prepared, with 11th level providing only the fly energy type change. Pretty much the epitome of boring elementalist.

The Fate's Edge can't spend arcane pool points to enhance his weapon, but may spend 1 point from the renamed Prescience Pool as a swift action to gain a +1 insight bonus that can either be applied to atk and damage or to AC and saves, increasing by +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The total bonus can freely be divided up between offense and defense. 5th level provides uncanny dodge, 10th level its improved sister ability. At 7th level, while already in prescient combat, the fate's edge may, as an immediate action, spend 1 point to reroll an attack or save and at 16th level, the archetype may force a creature targeting the fate's edge or saving versus a spell or effect generated by the fate's edge to roll twice and take the lower result. Arcana-wise, rerolling damage dice , rolling twice for initiative and spellbooks expanded with some divinations are pretty much what I expected. Mechanically, this one is pretty sound, but it won't win any innovation prizes - these are literally the default tricks in that category.

The Force Bulwark is, mechanically, perhaps one of the more intriguing archetypes herein - instead of spell combat, these guys gain the ability to create barriers of solid, visible magical force. This barrier, 5' square, has hardness equal to Int mod and hit points equal to 5 + cless level x 2. Versus energy damage, hardness is instead treated as energy resistance, retaining vulnerability versus these. The barrier provides cover and may, providing circumstances are right, even grant total cover. The barrier must be anchored but doesn't have to be vertically anchored. It can hold 100 pounds per caster level and has a range of "close" - I think that should be "short (25 ft + 5 ft./2 levels). At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the character can create + 1 5' square barrier, which must forma single continuous plane, though the barrier shares hit points.

The barrier is activated as a standard action, costs 1 arcane pool point and remains for 1 minute or until destroyed. A force bulwark may only have one such barrier in place at a given time. This replaces spell combat. At 8th level, the barrier can be formed into rough geometric forms (more precise wording would have been nice here) and the barrier may halve its hit points to extend to twice the area. At 14th level barriers need no anchor and 20th level eliminates the one-barrier at a time restriction. There are 4 exclusive types of arcana, which include AoE bull rushes versus attackers that destroy the barrier, minor retributive damage, fast healing barriers and more hardness that scales with levels. I really like the idea of this archetype, but its execution leaves a bit to be desired - the barriers generally are pretty weak and easily broken. While the complex concept generally is cool, it suffers from the limited space it has to shine - this should imho be a more detailed base class. Still my favorite so far.

The Mistblade may, as a standard action, spend 1 arcane pool point to create an illusory duplicate of himself that can move anywhere within close range of the creator. The duplicate is correctly coded as a figment and has an AC equal to your touch AC. The double is destroyed when it takes any damage. Unfortunately, the ability fails to specify the save DC to disbelief the double, which is important since non-disbelieved doubles can act as flanking partners. Duplicates can speak and changes to your appearance etc. affect the double as well. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the class feature grants +1 double, all of which must be destroyed or disbelieved separately. Odd: 5th level specifies that the doubles can now be directed as a free action, when prior to that, no action is given regarding directing the doubles. This replaces the magus' ability to enhance weapons with arcane pool. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter provide sneak attack progression instead of spellstrike.

The higher levels allow for the disbelieved duplicates to be reset as a standard action and 10th level allows them to affect the physical world as though they had a Str-score of 10, with the mist-blade's BAB + size modifiers as atk, with damage equal to the weapon's base damage sans enchantments, feats, abilities, etc. at 13th level, the mistblade can swap positions with a duplicate as a swift action. The ability lacks the note that it is a conjuration [teleportation] effect for purposes of ability interactions. They do lose medium and heavy armor and fighter training for these tricks. The arcana allow the mistblade to see through duplicates and poach among rogue talents and ninja tricks. All in all a thematically awesome, complex archetype that almost gets its difficult subject matter right.

Primalists get diminished spellcasting and may only use spell combat in conjunction with natural attacks or unarmed strikes. He may not enhance his weapon via arcane pool and instead gains primal shift that costs 1 point from the modified pool and can be activated as a standard action (swift action at 4th level). The shift lasts for one minute; it is properly codified as a polymorph effect: Every level, the character gains a number of evolution points that can be used to gain a limited array of evolutions; the evolutions are fixed each level, but can be reassigned on a level-up. The abilities of the archetype focus on modifying spell combat et al. for natural attacks/unarmed strikes, limited natural armor and modifying expanded spell list-abilities to refer to the druid spell-list instead of the wizard's. The arcana allows for reactive shifts, for example. A slight problem here lies in the utterly deadly combo of feral combat, spells and evolutions - the combo makes you a brutal shredder and the archetype, generally, is very, very strong. It still is okay in high-powered campaigns, but any halfway decent minmaxer will make a devastating beast out of these guys. GMs concerned with balance may want to be careful regarding this one.

The Pyroclastic Mystic has a cool name...and gets more fire spells, fire resistance, uses fire-forged steel, a cloak of ash, may sculpt fire damage spells...and takes until 11th level until it finally gets a means to reduce resistance...which may be a bit later. 5th level or even as soon as 3rd would have probably been a good idea. Overall one of the more visually interesting elementalists...but still, not really that cool.

The Spell-torch Savant looks, at first glance, like yet another one of these...but is interesting: These guys can spontaneously convert spells into a fixed list of divinations while wielding a torch and they attack with torches - when delivering touch spells with their torches, they add fire damage contingent on spell level and make the targets burn, scaling DC to resist and put out - which is pretty brutal. Thankfully, the fire at least can't spread. At 4th level extend this to ranged touch attack spells. Higher levels provides options regarding wind-resilient torches and instead of bonus feats, they can pose yes/no questions to their torch, brandishing it; if the answer is yes, the flame flares. I...actually love this one. The mechanics are unique and powerful, but the archetype is balanced pretty well...and makes torch-combat actually feasible and evocative - certainly an interesting class I'll use in my darker games.

The towering champion gets a reduced arcane pool...and is interesting as well: These guys may enter massive form, increasing their sizes and gaining attribute bonuses, natural armor and later even DR. The abilities are codified properly and size benefits are listed for your convenience. Giant-themed abilities like rock catching are provided and these guys get a choice - either be a protector or marauder. This choice determines whether the form features a buff for allies or debuff for foes (it can be changed each level) and the archetype can grapple foes with one hand. I like the visuals here; I also like the execution - a 11-grade distinction between massive forms means that they generally are level-appropriate regarding their balance. All in all, a good archetype, though a bit light on the player agenda - still, one of my favorites herein. I'll probably use this one sooner rather than later.

The next one would be the waystrider - no arcane pool weapon enhancement, but instead close range, arcane pool-based teleportation (properly codified - YAY!), with higher levels increasing range. The archetype also gets evasion, tagging along on teleportation and a somewhat erratic last second save teleport that staggers him for one round, but may save his life (or teleport him in a solid object, but oh well...). The arcana allows for the ignoring of line of sight, an afterimage and improved evasion. Know what? I like this. It's a solid teleporter-skirmisher archetype that does everything right. I have recently built a similar teleport-themed archetype...and have to say, I couldn't have done this one better. Credit where credit is due - this is awesome.

The whip weird gets a modified spell list and is the unpretentious whip-expert, with arcane pool powering temporary deafening strikes (later entangle and constricted), appropriate feats and proficiencies. This does not reinvent the wheel, but certainly is one of the better takes on the whip specialist I have seen, with sufficient precision in the rules language - again, kudos.

The pdf provides PrCs as well, the first of which would be the Anthropoarion, which requires the hummunculist archetype and gets d8 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression as well as 9/10th spellcasting progression, with each level choosing arcane casting or extract progression. Every level nets an arcana or an alchemist discovery. The PrC's levels stack with hummunculist for purposes of experimentation and he may use bombs in conjunction with spellstrike "as a full-round action". Does that mean full attack with bombs only? Or one bomb + spell? This needs a bit of clarification. AT higher levels, these guys can dimension door their homunculus, later switch locations with it. 9th level lets "the homunculus cast spells on behalf of his master as though he were his master" using the master's slots, but not actions...okay...so does it have to be commanded to do so? I assume no, but I'm not sure. As a capstone, the homunculus replaces BAB and HP with that of an animal companion and gets a huge boost to mental attributes, spellstrike and 1/2 the master's arcane pool. if the master dies, he "awakens the next day as the homunculus until returned to life" - which is cool...but what are the mechanics for this transition? Switched mental attributes? Total transposition? No idea.

The second PrC would be the erudite blade bravo, who gains d8, 2+Int skills per level, some exotic proficiencies, full spellcasting-progression, 1/2 BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Fort-save progression. The PrC provides full synergy with magus levels for purposes of arcana prereqs and may power mage hand with arcane pool points to wield weapons, though that requires swift action concentration. The one thing unclear here is whether the mage hand then threatens squares - I assume so, but I'm not perfectly sure. The PrC provides scaling AC-bonuses when wielding daggers, dagger-themed spells added to the spell-list and use Int instead of Str for damage, but thankfully with anti-cheese caveat. Better thrown range for daggers and a non-stacking, arcane pool-powered flurry complement this one. Overall, a rather interesting, overall mostly well-crafted PrC.

At this point, layout changes from the 2-column standard to the 1-column standard and the pdf sports a new Metamagic feat, adding smoke to spells. The feat has a cosmetic italicization glitch. Finally, the pdf offers 5 new spells - blazing shiv conjures basically a lightsaber and erroneously refers to "casting statistic," a term that does not exist in PFRPG rules language. Burrowing Blade lets you enchant light piercing or slashing weapons to embed them in foes and have them continue to burro into said foes - NICE! Cinder Fall is textbook power creep - it ignites flammable material and clearly outlines invisible creatures - sans penalty like glitterdust, making the spell better in that regard, though it is a level below that. Storm Spike is an electricity-based light saber and suffers from the same glitch as the former one. Wall of Smoke nauseates, obfuscates and can even deal nonlethal damage - overall, a cool spell.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still okay on a formal level; I noticed a couple of italicization glitches and the like. Rules-language is a different topic: It frankly oscillates between "This doesn't work -at all!", "this works but deviates from how it's usually worded" and "this is remarkably precise for the complex concept used." All in all, though, this pdf could have definitely used a tighter hand in development and the book shows the hands of 4 developers, some of which, reluctant though I am to state this, botched the job. Layout adheres, for the most book, to a 2-column standard, switching to a 1-column standard for the spells and feat. Artworks are gorgeous and full-color; while some stock pieces are there, I have never seen most of them and they tend to be very beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Frank Gori, Jacob W. Michaels and Taylor Hubler can do better. I've seen all of you do better and this pdf does sport some of the components I really wanted to see; there are a few gems herein, but the often problematic rules-language tarnishes some of the admittedly challenging concepts herein. That being said, while not the best work of Flying Pincushion Games or the authors, this indeed is better than the first magus-book. Still, over all, this is a frustratingly mixed bag of a book; if the rules language had received the required polish, this would have been an impressive book; as written, it is a rollercoaster ride between elation and frustration due to the grit in the gears of the finer rules. My final verdict for this one will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to in dubio pro reo and the fact that the gems herein do not deserve being bashed - it's a mixed bag, but it has its gems.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Magus 2nd Wave
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Mystic Marketplaces: Einjhall's Hall of Exotic Equipment
by Lisa K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2016 16:36:09

This PDF has 15 pages 12 of which have some gaming material on them. So value wise it is 25 cents per page.

So basically this PDF is about a single high end clothing store that also sells some magical clothing, weapons and armor. Their are a few suggetions on what they specifically sell but the details are mostly left to the GM.

The real meat of this product is the "Colorful" owners. These 2 gentlemen "handle" their customers according to how their customers treat them. So basically if you treat them well, do favors for them and basically be their flunkies they will give discounts buy at higher prices and even sell their secrets with illusionist magic. However if they don't like you if you are rude, greedy or underhanded in your dealing's then they like to substitute your purchases for cursed magic items or illusional merchandise.

So that being said. When your customers tend to be wealthy noblemen who by their very nature are rude and arrogant you are bound to garner enemies. Almost half of this pdf is about an encounter with just such a young nobleman and his friends. With presumably the PC's caught in the middle. So if you thought shopping was a dull activity think again.

Their is also a short system for patronage and another for bartering as a way to make shopping more interesting I guess.

Ok so what I liked about this product. It is a great ready made store to place in any city. So if your Players are wandering around a city and browsing through shops this is a great one to throw in to the mix.

What I would have liked to see more of. Equipment rare and exotic. I love equipment always have. I have even bought entire Tabletop RPG's just to raid the equipment lists. So I was a little disappointed that only one page featured any equipment.

So overall I am giving this a 4 which to me is a good score if you are looking for an interesting diversion for your players this might be just the thing. The shop owners could be longtime "associates" for your players to deal with between adventures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mystic Marketplaces: Einjhall's Hall of Exotic Equipment
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