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Psionics Augmented: Empaths
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:44:10

An Endzietgeist.com review

This installment of the occult branch of the Psionics Augmented-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, leaving 21 pages. Of these, 3 pages are devoted to reference material like feats and psionic powers from e.g. 7th Path. On these pages, the SRD can also be found. When all is said and done, the new content still amounts to 18 pages.

After a brief introduction to the matter at hand and the interaction of psionics and psychic magic, we get the empath. The new archetype herein. Yes. Singular. The empathy may be a medium archetype, but he is, no hyperbole, the most massive archetype I have EVER READ. I can rattle off base classes that take up less real estate than this fellow…so what exactly is the empathy about?

First things first: No, the archetype is not simply about touching stuff or folks and then suddenly knowing their surface thoughts. The archetype is significantly more than that. Instead of Knowledge (arcane) and Knowledge (religion), he gets Autohypnosis, Knowledge (history) and Knowledge (psionics) as class skills. Instead of the medium’s default spellcasting, an empathy gains access to psionic powers, using Charisma as governing attribute for bonus power points. They gain access to powers of up to 6th level and increase their base power points from a humble 2 at 1st level to 292 at 20th level over the course of their progression.

However, the power points are inextricably linked with the other class features of the archetype, so let’s talk spirits: Whiel the empathy is treated as channeling spirits when contracted to his key defining class feature, instead of the arguably less than exciting medium spirits, he forms a contract with a zeitgeist.

No.

Not with me. With one of my lesser brethren. … Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ll try to keep the bad zeitgeist-jokes to a bare a minimum. Anyways, zeitgeists are basically the product of the collective unconscious, if you’re feeling Jungian – a collective of emotions between all minds, reacting to events glorious and horrible. They are astral echoes of thought, attention and emotion – and during a 1-hour séance, an empathy may forge a contract with one or multiple zeitgeists. Unlike medium spirits, zeitgeists are separated in 4 tiers: 1st level empaths may only contract with lesser zeitgeists. 6th level unlocks intermediate zeitgeists, 11th level greater zeitgeists and 16th level provides access to supreme zeitgeists. Forming a contract with a zeitgeist requires a couple of things: The empathy, for example, must accept a compulsion and a goal. Zeitgeists require an offering. When bonding with multiple zeitgeists, they ask for power point costs and these costs are not limited by manifester level – good catch there! They always demand powers offered, but obviously offer power in return.

Now, it is obvious that aforementioned goals and compulsions are different from influences and taboos. Compulsions set basically a standard of behavior, while goals, when achieved, strengthen the empath’s link to the zeitgeist. Whenever the empathy acts against the compulsion of a given zeitgeist, he has a 15% psychic enervation chance. When suffering from psychic enervation, the empathy loses all psionic focus he has, power points equal to ½ manifester level, all remaining actions for the turn and becomes flat-footed until the start of his next turn. This otherwise can be modified by feats and abilities that modify psychic enervation. An empathy only risks suffering from psychic enervation once per action, even if that action requires a longer time to complete. Achieving a zeitgeist’s goal permanently strengthens the bond between zeitgeist and empathy: In the future, forming the contract with that zeitgeist nets a single use of the spirit surge class feature that may be used immediately. Multiple zeitgeist’s surges stack, but each zeitgeist may only provide a single spirit surge.

For the purpose of abilities and rules that require the tracking of spirit influence, a zeitgeist is always treated as having 3 influence over the empathy, though this influence does not carry any penalties and may neither be increased, nor decreased. Upon starting play, the empathy can claim to have a number of goals accomplished equal to half her spirit bonus, but all such goals must be from zeitgeists of a tier at least one lower than her current maximum.

Ability #2 that pretty much defines the empathy would be the volksgeist – a composite that roughly translates to “The spirit of the people”, btw. a concept that has similarly haunted academia since its conception. If you require some diversification, think of this as the totality of the attitudes and mindset of the vox populi. Rules-wise, the volksgeist does not refer to the spirit of a whole age, but rather to local and current thoughts and the volksgeist, as a whole, is not sentient. The empathy is always aware of it and can generally sense the attitude of a given community – this awareness is not detailed and does not yield secrets and the like, but it makes for a great roleplaying tool nonetheless. Abilities gained from the volksgeist are always on and are chosen as the empathy increases in levels – they may be changed (and this is really interesting!) when the empathy moves to a new community or when the empathy herself is subjected to sufficient changes, emphasizing the roleplaying aspect of the concept here. At 1st level, the connection to the volksgeist can affect a small tight-knit community like a neighborhood, a village, etc. and yields 2 psionic talents as well as empathy, which gains the network descriptor. 3rd level provides a spirit power gained from the volksgeist, which is represented by bonuses to skills; the nature of these is contingent on the general culture of the area.

New powers are gained at 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th level and at the latter, she also extends her volksgeist to encompass a larger area, gaining an intermediate spirit power, which is reflected in a variety of bonus feats, which, once again, are contingent on the area of the volksgeist: Downtrodden areas yield Endurance, for example, while insular communities can yield Racial heritage. 11th level provides more powers, as does 13th level, which further increases the benefits and range of the volksgeist. 15th and 17th level provide further improvements, with the latter representing the apex of the respective volksgeist’s granted abilities and scope. This ability replaces knacks, the channel-related tricks, propriaton, ask the spirits, trance of three and spacious soul. Oh, and it interacts with the collective empaths get: They can have up to Cha-mod or ½ class level, whichever is higher, beings in their collective. Fans of psionics will already be familiar with collectives, so here’s where things get interesting: While psionically focused, the empathy conveys the séance boon of contracted zeitgeists to all members of her collective. 5th level allows the empathy to expel a zeitgeist as a full-round action that provokes AoOs and risks psychic enervation. If the expelled zeitgeist was the free one, she instead declares another zeitgeist she paid power points to contract with as the new free one, regaining half that zeitgeist’s power point cost – prevents cheesing the ability. Nice. 3rd level provides telepathic communication between members of the collective and the capstone, “A Place in History”, is suitably amazing: You get to create your own zeitgeist that has neither compulsion, nor power point cost for its creator Dying while contracted to such a zeitgeist is not fatal for its creator: The zeitgeist acts as an extra life, respawning the fully healed empathy sans negative levels, but with psychic enervation and sans the zeitgeist. Other empaths may only contract with this zeitgeist if they are 20th level and were involved with the events that led to its creation. And yes, some further guidance is provided for this amazing capstone.

Okay, I’ve been dancing around the zeitgeists themselves for quite a while – and there is a reason for this: The lion’s share of this pdf is devoted to them, and for good reason. Beyond offering guidance on roleplaying the goals and compulsions, each of the zeitgeists comes with a brief, fluffy introduction and associated events. They sport the aforementioned goals and compulsions and grant séance boons and spirit powers, with each of the zeitgeists also sporting a brief table of psionic powers that the respective zeitgeist provides. So, what would be examples of zeitgeists? Well, the first lesser one would be Cogito, Sum of the First Thoughts (great pun there!) – when suffering enervation, you may expend all psionic focuses, delaying the onset of psychic enervation until you regain them. This is a simple spirit power, yes – but a) it is cheese-proof and b), it offers a meaningful tweak of the base engine from the get-go. Imperator, the foundation of civilization provides better aiding other; Little Dip O’ The Dops, representing learning for Survival from errant mice avoiding predators, nets you the option to avoid tremorsense (YES!). Resounding with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias, Obelisk lets you erect an ectoplasmic totem, a kind of tower, if you will, enhancing powers based on it. Parasite, the memetic virus, should bring a smile to students of Dawkins or the dispersal of memes, while Riastrad convey network descriptors to the powers this embodiment of a last stand grants.

The intermediate zeitgeists include eternal martyrdom with connotations of the undead, allowing for better relations with non-controlled undead and hijacking of controlled ones. Charade nets you basically the lite-version of a vigilante’s second persona and Hivemind nets tactician strategies. Iron eye, the broadcast lets you memorize scenes and create illusions in a nice bit of social commentary on television/computer-screens, deeply steeped in the fantastic – big kudos for the amazing artwork there. Ceaseless paranoia can make your changes or those of your allies cause fear, while Numquam, the Lost Moment, lets you add temporal components (as though using time hop (not italicized)) to your psychoportations. The light of potential shining can also be found here. Among the greater zeitgeists, the embodiment of championship, Et Panem, helps prevent provoking AoOs while psionically focused. Evol nets customization options to represent pure adaptability. Spacejammer fans will enjoy Jammer, whose theme is to boldly go where none has gone before. Nirvana lets you leave the shackles of your worldly flesh, becoming basically a bolstering, benevolent spirit for your allies…and Yus, tortured torturer, accumulates pain points with his powers, ultimately allowing the empathy to bend reality once a vast amount of pain has been collected.

Among the supreme zeitgeists, we find Athame, the first angel falling that nets quasi angelic benefits to allies, Mac Dex, the march of progress, who nets a sonic screwdriver, a portal gun and a universally recognized status symbol (get the reference?) – all three of which have been concisely codified – quite a feat in particular for the portal gun. Slash, a tear in space, nets you an hole in reality as a blade (and for once I consider the lack of damage types and ignoring DR and hardness totally justified!) that can also carve open the planar fabric to other lands. (Once again, we have a missed italicization here, but oh well.) Tessa, regal administrator, is about saving the world, while Vinum Verum, is, you guessed it, about altered conscience, courtesy of magic or substances. And there is You. No, that is not a typo. That is indeed a zeitgeist, and an intriguing one at that.

Beyond these inspired and interesting zeitgeists, the pdf goes one step further: It notes the ramifications on psionics-magic transparency variants when using the empathy; provides the reskin for rune magic…AND provides a combo feat for interaction with Ultimate Intrigue’s spiritualist zeitgeist binder, which would be more akin to a volksgeist in this pdf’s definitions, but who cares – cool multiclass feat ftw.!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – while I did notice a few missed italicizations, the sheer complexity of the rules-language construct attempted and executed herein and the overall clean presentation make this a total winner in these disciplines. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports pretty amazing, far-out full-color pictures. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Author Kevin Ryan, with design-lead by Forrest Heck and additional design by Doug Haworth and Adam Boucher, has created one massive archetype herein, one that addresses the weaknesses of the medium class and purges them with fire. Unless I am sorely mistaken, this is the author’s first project as the primary author – and what a project it is!

Okay, let me make this clear: Reading “empathy” on the cover made me about as excited as reading “lame detect specialist” on a cover. Then, I started reading. My Angela Merkel-style frown slowly and steadily turned into a beaming, radiant smile and it did not leave my face even once while reading this pdf.

To elaborate: The empath presented herein replaces the spirit engine of the base medium with one that emphasizes choice; within each choice made at a given time, we not only get a MEANINGFUL, interesting mechanic tweak of the base engine of the class, we also receive a meaningful roleplaying angle. Understanding the importance of ROLEplaying as well as ROLLplaying, the empathy beautifully marries both aspects of our game into a collective that is bigger than the sum of its parts. The zeitgeists are inspired and ooze flavor in an obvious way; the volksgeist does so in a more subtle manner that is no less rewarding and may actually serve as the drive for whole adventuring careers. From the smallest basics of the engine to its capstone, the empathy represents an absolute masterpiece of a supplement, one that manages to retain its feasibility for both low- and high-powered gaming; from gritty, low-powered Ravenloft or Midgard to potent high-fantasy Spacejammer, Planescape or the Zeitgeist AP, this offers a thoroughly rewarding, meaningful and delightful option. If the author was standing before me, I’d frankly shake his hand or hug him – it’s that impressive. The empathy ranks, even among Dreamscarred Press’ class hacks and complex options, as a highlight of skilled design and amazing narrative potential. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017. If you like psionics at all, get this gem. (Also, if you happen to make an Endzeitgeist zeitgeist, send it my way, all right? And no, I’m not affiliated with DSP or the author.)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Empaths
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Psionics Augmented: Occultists
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:15:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the occult branch of Psionics Augmented clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, we begin with a brief introduction to the matter at hand, including how to handle campaigns that feature both psionics and psychic magic – and, as a personal aside, designer Forrest heck’s observations regarding the occultist range true with me as well. When I read Occult Adventures back in the day for the first time, I wasn’t immediately smitten by the class – it took a more careful analysis to really appreciate it and by now, I am very fond of it. But I digress.

We begin this pdf with two different archetypes for the occultist class, the first of which would be the govi. Instead of aura sight, these fellows gain a bonus on skill-checks to see through disguises and detect mental control effects equal to ½ their class level. Additionally, possessed and shapeshifted targets within sight of the Govi must succeed a Will-save to prevent the govi from realizing that they are shapeshifters/possessed, respectively. And yes, once successful, the creature is safe for 24 hours – and they’d better be, considering that, thankfully, the DC scales with class levels. Starting at 8th level, the govi gains the signature ability that replaces magic circles, namely sealing techniques. As a full-round action that costs 3 points of mental focus, the govi can exorcise incorporeal undead, possessing creatures, those made by metacreativity, etc. within 30 ft. The target must succeed a Will-save. Cool: Creatures that have not been softened up by damage gain a bonus to the save against this form of being whisked away…into the implement! You see, the govi catches these critters in an implement (an implement can only hold one entity) and they may then proceed to expend mental focus 1/day to force a creature thus caught to reply truthfully. The trap is not perfect, though: The creature retains concisely codified, very limited awareness and keeps healing – upon reaching maximum hit points, it can attempt to break free once every day. Absolutely amazing, cool idea and execution here! At 12th level, the govi gains true seeing (not properly italicized) when carrying an implement with a caught creature inside, replacing binding circles. 16th level allows the govi to spend an additional point of mental focus to attempt a sealing technique as an immediate action instead. Before you’re asking: The govi retains outside contact, but must cast magic circle to use it – good catch!

The second archetype herein would be the shattered mind, who replaces Knowledge (planes) with Knowledge (psionics). The archetype gains access to psionic powers and power points, beginning with a base of 1, upgrading that to up to 128 power points at 20th level. The maximum power level known increases up to 6th level. The governing attribute would be Intelligence and the power list employed would be that of the psion/wilder. Instead of knacks, these fellows get talents and as they employ psionic powers instead of spells, they get access to some alternate focus powers: The Conjure implement is replaced with Create False Implement, which lets you expend 1 point of mental focus to generate a duplicate of a psicrystal implement, which may diverge from the original, but allows you to use the powers stored in that implement; it may, however, not be used to store mental focus or use effects that require it. Secondly, psychic fog is replaced with psionic fog as an alternative. As a standard action, you may expend 1 point of mental focus to generate a cloud of fog, duplicating fog cloud (not italicized) and may not be blown away. At higher levels, the occultist in question may expend more mental focus, duplicating solid fog (again, not italicized), but at a reduced duration. Sacred implements and the penalties they impose on opposed schools instead apply to the manifester level of powers of that school’s equivalent disciplines. This represents an interesting change, as far as I’m concerned, and a relatively subtle balancing trick. Now, I did mention psicrystal implements in the alternate focus powers – unlike normal occultists, shattered minds infuse their implements with a piece of psionic power and a fragment of their mind, beginning play with Psicrystal Affinity (reproduced for your convenience!) as a bonus feat. 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter provde an additional implement school. The implements then are treated as psicrystals, gaining the personality and abilities as normal, but preventing the acquisition of a regular psicrystal. Improved Psicrystal and other feats that alter psicrystal only apply to one of the implements, but she may take these feats multiple times, each time applying them to a new psicrystal implement. Class features interacting with psicrystals only affect a single psicrystal implement of the character’s choice. Shared and hel powers are only held by a single psicrystal implement and they are not shared among the collective of psicrystal implements. Upon creating a psicrystal implement, the shattered mind learns a single power from that school’s equivalent psionic discipline (see the handy table provided) – big kudos: The rules-language takes powers with different levels into account and gets the complex rules ramifications there right. If a given school has multiple equivalents, the archetype must choose one. Powers manifested with implements are treated as being manifested with their minimum manifester level (great cheese-avoidance there!) The base focus powers are granted, as usual.

Okay, that is a massive codification, and an impressive one. 8th level provides scatterbrained: The fragmentation process takes its toll, imposing a -2 penalty to Diplomacy, Intimidate and Perform checks, but also a +1 bonus to saves against effects that detect surface thoughts. The psicrystal implements can use her Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores instead of their own and share bonuses granted to the shattered mind by feats, abilities, etc. Starting at 12th level, the shattered mind can expend her psionic focus as a full-round action to assume control over a target carrying a psicrystal implement. This does not require line of sight, but still has a maximum range, allowing for absolutely amazing set ups, particularly since the effects grow more potent the more psicrystal implements the target wears – 4 steps are provided. Damn cool.

16th level provides channel power, even when not within reach and as a capstone, the shattered mind, if killed, is not truly vanquished unless all implements are destroyed, allowing the shattered mind to potentially destroy the mind of unfortunates that find her implements…pretty amazing. I adore the complexity of this archetype and its amazing theme – but there is one RAW problem that can utterly break the balance of the archetype: Psicrystal Containment, aka having the psicrystal carry a spare psionic focus. Since the psicrystal implements allow the archetype to take this feat multiple times, you can amass more psionic focuses than with any other option…and, as any fan of psionics can attest, the psionic focus remains one of the most potent resources. Even a single additional focus is potent. Multiple ones? OUCH. I strongly, strongly suggest for all groups that have a lower power level to expressively prevent this combination – it is OP for all but the most high-powered games and sports a ridiculous combo potential. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other than this (which will hopefully be nerfed/remedied), I loved this archetype to bits, though! I also was positively surprised to see some nice roleplaying advice for the psicrystal implements – kudos!

Beyond these, we also are introduced to the cryptographer psion archetype, who, instead of the regular discipline abilities gained, instead receives a single implement school of his choice, treating his psion level as occultist levels, though the implement school must correspond to the associated discipline, as featured in the table mentioned. Additionally, the respective psionic implement schools may be chosen, but more on that later. The cryptographer only gains one implement as well as ½ class level + Intelligence modifier, minimum 1, mental focus for use with the implement. 1st level provides the base focus powers, while 2nd level and every 6 levels thereafter provide a focus power from the chosen implement school, using, unless otherwise noted, Intelligence as the governing attribute. As the shattered mind, the cryptographer receives the modified focus powers covered before, if choosing them.

Now, I already mentioned this, so yes, this pdf contains a total of 7 implement schools, each of which corresponds to a psionic discipline; characters with the psionic subtype qualify for this, but when they cast psychic spells instead of manifesting powers, they learn spells from the associated magic school instead.

The 7th path, athanatism, balance-wise problematic for inflicting positive energy damage versus living targets (who have basically no means to resist it), provides a resonant power that provides negative or positive energy resistance. The basic focus power provides a scaling touch attack that deals 1d8, +1d8 points of damage per 2 class levels while psionically focused. These are the combination of negative and positive energy and can’t be resisted by either. sigh I can literally rattle off limited-use abilities that inflict damage that can be resisted. Won’t get near my game. The focus powers include a sickening aura and a pretty cool option that nets you better defense versus incorporeal attacks and lets you lock attackers in semi-corporeal form. Binding a corpse to your shadow is pretty cool and inverting healing effects nearby is damn cool. There is also a spectral projection option and a touch-based save or suck that renders a target BOTH confused and unconscious – it make wake up, though and the ability has a save, so yeah.

Clairsentience provides an initiative boost as a resonant power and a really cool base focus power: As a swift action, you can select a number of squares equal to the mental focus remaining in the implement (with a maximum that increases over the levels) and ignore difficult terrain in them. You may even treat them as though they were not occupied by other creatures and don’t provoke AoOs when moving into or from a selected square, though you may not end movement in such a square and need to be psionically focused to do so. The focus powers include protection from being scried, duplicating remote viewing and combo it with a psychic spell, daze targets, reroll d20s, agin uncanny dodge, etc. – pretty cool.

Metacreativity nets you a scaling AC bonus as a resonant power and an astral guardian as a base focus power – a 1st-level astral construct, which scales in potency with class levels and is limited by mental focus invested. Here’s the thing: You have to expend the psionic focus to call it and can’t regain it while the guardian remains. Big kudos: No servitor-combo-cheese and the ability gets the decreasing mental focus and thus, guardian power after expenditure done right! I already mentioned the false implement, and the other focus powers include ectoplasmic creation, entangling globs of ectoplasm, crowd-control via ectoplasmic pillars and blasts of properly typed and codified shrapnel.

Psychokinesis provides active energy resistance to wearers/holders of the implement and the base focus power lets you expend your psionic focus as a standard action to fire a scaling array of elemental missiles (1 +1 for every two occultist levels, up to 10 and equal to the amount of mental focus remaining) that hit on a ranged touch attack, inflicting damage based on your active energy type. Ouch. Even though the number of missiles will decrease, these are ranged touch attacks, each of which inflicts 1d8 + Intelligence modifier damage of the active energy type. 60 ft. range, sure, but as a standard action that is based on an infinite resource. That outclasses several comparable limited resource psionic powers and spells. No. Just no. This imho needs mental focus expenditure. The focus powers includes columns of energy (which, while dealing small AoE-damage, do cost mental focus), increased movement rate, untyped touch (why untyped?) that can propel targets backwards, shape psychokinesis effects to exclude squares via mental focus expenditure (cool!) or control objects (not italicized).

Psychometabolism nets temporary hit points in a persistent pool that are carried on from wielder to wielder; these may be replenished via healing, which is pretty neat. The base focus power nets you one or more alternate forms (as disguise self – spell-reference not italicized) and the focus powers include bonuses to Str- and Dex-based checks, bite of the wolf or claws of the beast, DR, metamorphosis, a touch for a touch that can render the target helpless and prone for 1 round on a failed save or alter the appearance of a creature. Psychoportation’s resonant power nets an increasing, minor miss chance that does not stack with concealment. The base focus power is cool – it lets you penalize your own movement speed to make an ally faster – AMAZING! The focus powers include a potent 11th level trick (at 3 mental focus, it’d better be!) to warp space to make all allies within 100 ft., for one round, be treated as though they were in your space – and yes, this gets the interaction with line of sight right. Potent and cool! Swapping places with an ally is nice. I’m not a big fan of untyped damage via a touch, but the mental focus cost at least keeps it limited. Short-range teleport, time hop (not italicized) are okay…but I love twisted path. On a failure, it forces the target to only move diagonally! That’s creative!

Telepathy’s resonant power fortifies against mental intrusion and divulging thoughts/mind reading. The base focus power lets you bond with allies, shifting perceptions to their PoV while psionically focused, with more senses shared at higher levels – cool! The focus powers include boosts to social skills and the ability to implant suggestions. Also cool: An ally bonded to you can be granted an attack by you if you expend 1 point of mental focus. Yes, this does provoke AoOs and, being based on mental focus expenditure, does not invite cheesing. Stopping a creature’s move on a failed save is cool, but the ability fails to specify a range – RAW, it doesn’t even require line of sight or effect. Another power lets you infiltrate the senses of targets hit by your bonded allies, which is cool. Another one lets allies use your senses or establishes a telepathic network between the bonded characters – very cool!

There also are two feats: Soulbound Implements requires enhanced mind blade and one occultist level and lets you stack them for the purpose of the enhancement bonus of the enhanced mind blade. Additionally, you can channel your mind blade with the implements on your person, reducing its enhancement bonus by +1 to tie it to the implement school in question. 1/round when hitting an opponent, you may use a focus power usually activated as a standard action as a free action for +1 mental focus cost and the mind blade may be reduced to +0 sans having to reshape it. Interesting! The second feat, Absolute Focus, alas, is broken. I mean BROKEN. Choose one focus power you know. Expend the psionic focus to reduce the mental focus costs of the power by 1 to a minimum of 0. Say hello to infinite healing via Flesh Mend! Say goodbye to all diseases and epidemics via purge corruption. Single occultist with this talent can end them. Blergh, this needs to die or be at least nerfed to minimum 1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are on the one hand very good – on the other, there are plenty of missed italicizations. On a rules-language level, we have, for the most part, the level of excellent precision we expect from Dreamscarred Press. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the artworks within are full-color stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with a second, more printer-friendly version.

Forrest Heck, with additional design by Kevin Ryan, Adam Boucher and Doug Haworth, delivers a truly impressive pdf; rules-language and design-difficulty-wise, this is one magnificent beast of a pdf. I found myself smiling from ear to ear, time and again, and I really enjoyed many of the options herein. The Containment-focus cheese needs addressing, though if you and your group can agree on not gaming the shattered mind, it otherwise is one amazing monster. The implement schools presented were mostly amazing, though their internal balance is a bit weird. Athanatism’s base touch is too good for an unlimited attack that bypasses everything. Similarly, the use of untyped damage without a clear need strikes me as unnecessary. As written, both athantism and psychokinesis are stronger than the others, to the point where I wouldn’t allow them in most of my games...which is somewhat jarring, considering how well-balanced most of the material herein is. Oh, and Absolute Focus needs to die. It’s a delimiter of the worst sort.

How to rate this, then? I’m really torn. The formatting was a bit worse than what we usually get from DSP. Still better than many comparable files, though. What’s more difficult for me is that I’d love to unanimously recommend the pdf, but the somewhat schizophrenic dual focus makes it harder than I’d like it to be. For the most part, I’d allow this pdf in my games. Barring aforementioned complaints, there is a lot of really cool, well-crafted material within this pdf. At the same time, I do have some serious concerns regarding the power of quite a few options. Have I mentioned that the feat needs to die? …if you don’t mind infinite healing exploits and/or have subscribed to the high-powered Path of War-style gameplay, then you’ll probably love these aspects…but at the same time, you may consider some of the options too well-balanced with regular gameplay. On the other hand, if you enjoy a more conservative power-level when gaming, then you’ll need to be aware and wary of the flexible elemental artillery, etc. In both instances, I’d strongly advise a thorough close reading before implementing (haha!) the content herein.

In the end, I enjoy, yes, even love a lot here, and I hope the aforementioned rough patches will receive re-evaluation. Without these blemishes, the pdf would have been 5 stars + seal. With them in place, however, I cannot go higher than 3.5 stars…though I’ll round up, as this does not deserve being relegated to the 3-star arena; the vast majority of the content, after all, is pretty damn cool.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Occultists
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Unfettered Dreams: Malefex
by Christen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2017 23:51:45

Unfettered Dreams: Malefex is (deliberately or not) another entry into the line-up of 3pp heir-apparents to the "hole" left by the 3.5 class, the Hexblade. Like it's predecessor it relies on curses of misfortune to weaken and vex foes. Other classes (malefactor from TPK, luckbringer (with the jinx archetype), and more) tried to scratch this itch with some success. Unlike the previous version of 3.5 and these others, malefex really delivers on the misfortune. The class revolves around swift action "malefactions" that flow in a similar manner to 3.5's warlock class but instead open a cornucopia of inflictions, thefts and other karmic alterations that make the spellcasting loss from hexblade (if that was the inspiration) forgettable. Buff spells fail, energy is stolen and dozen's of diverse playstyles are supported. The classes "wrack" ability assure a level of damage that is admirable against cursed foes who receive penalties to resist said abilities when flanked making the malefex have high party synergy with rogue. Spreaking of party synergy, the ability to spread and benefit from [curse] descriptors provides limitless interactions with the Path of War Expanded's curse using classes and martial manuevers leaning toward a party "wedge" or full-concept with common mechanic. Fifth wheel players (those who favor support or debuff classes outside the classic roles) have long sought a perfect anti-bard analog in this alley. The only other contender who matches malefex in my experience is its 3pp cousin malefactor (TPK Games) but when it comes to comparing the two, the malefex pulls ahead in precision ability usage (bersus malefactors broad ally-inclusive auras) and general party-friendliness. If you want to bring woe and disaster to all around you, you may want the other class but if you want a deliberate and delicious dealer of doom THIS IS YOUR CLASS.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unfettered Dreams: Malefex
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Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior II
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/01/2017 04:12:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second expansion for the psychic warrior class clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: In order to use all parts of this book, you need Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warriors I; that becomes relevant in the feat-chapter, which btw. also features the reprints of Tap Animus and Extra Animus- you know, the feats, that frickin' should have been in part I because more than half of the content was based on the frickin' animus system?

...

Ähem. Sorry. Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, new archetype!

The pdf introduces the Silhouette, whose signature ability replaces warrior's path and expanded path, but retains second path and twisting path + pathweaving thus don't work, but still can be traded in via archetypes. The silhouette gains shadowboxing, which manifests a fully-healed so-called shadow upon regaining power points. This construct can share the space of the silhouette freely and may even blend with its shadow, but cannot stray further than close range from the character before winking out and reappearing in the character's space. If the shadow is destroyed, the silhouette can, as a full-round action that provokes AoOs, reform it by expending character level power points. The silhouette and the shadow are linked, sense-wise, which replaces the first level's bonus feat. Directing the shadow double is a free action, just fyi.

The shadow (stats on page 5, btw. - the pdf has a "page X" remnant here) gets darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, is a construct, shares the creator's AC and saves, but also is a construct (OUCH). It has neither Con nor Int, Wis and Cha 10 and its Strength and Dexterity are equal to that of the creator. It has 1/2 the creator's maximum hit points and duplicates changes to reach, size, etc. of the creator. Thankfully, it cannot ready or delay actions, but it can use all combat and teamwork feats of the silhouette and may use skills (see below) and abilities as though sentient. The silhouette may share bonuses and effects affecting him also affect the shadow, but this does not double bonuses - so no double-sharing. Kudos for catching that. The shadow can copy the weapons wielded by the silhouette and the complex ability manages to prevent consumable weapon abuse, though, for VERY low-powered games, it should be noted that it can generate indefinite amounts of nonmagical ammunition - which can be problematic in very resource-conscious games or those using ammunition cost as low-level balancing for firearms etc. Speaking of potential hiccups: A sidebar talks about interaction with soulknife multiclass options, which brings me to one concern, namely panoply of blades and the like - while the pdf cleanly allows that, I'd strongly suggest to GMs to disallow that combo. Don't say I didn't warn you...The prestige class progression notes don't come with such a caveat from yours truly, mind you.

At 4th and 7th level, the silhouette chooses a skill he has ranks in - from here on out, the shadow may use that skill with the silhouette's bonus instead of its own. Whenever a +2 bonus would be gained by the path skills class feature, this process may be repeated for another skill. At 6th level, the silhouette may gain a shadow talent instead of a martial power - if he does, he never gains the martial power class feature. What are shadow talents? Well, at 2nd level and whenever the archetype would qualify for a psychic warrior bonus feat, he can choose to take a shadow talent. These...are potent. As a standard action, the silhouette may expend his psionic focus, detonating his shadow, inflicting 1d6 points of untyped damage to all creatures within 10 feet - this ignores hardness, all immunities (is there immunity to untyped damage anywhere??) and all types of damage reduction...oh, and guess what: The shadow isn't even destroyed by this. It reappears unharmed next round. Yeah...even with saves for half damage and a 1/round caveat, all that defense-ignoring is overkill in my book. Further roaming for silhouettes, Combat Reflexes...and there are some AMAZING tactical options here: As a standard action, recall the shadow to one's square, regaining psionic focus, for example - move action with Psionic Meditation, btw. Or the shifting of positions as a properly codified teleportation effect. Or TWFing cloned weapons...

Oh, but if you're thinking by now: "Why isn't endy screaming brimstone right now?" Well, the shadow is limited. Unless via some shadow talents, the shadow cannot make actions on its own. It can flank and use roll-less abilities, but it is mostly limited to Follow-Up: 1/round, when the silhouette misses an attack, the shadow may make an attack versus the target as a free action, even if it's not the shadow's turn - provided it can reach the target. Penalties on the original attack are carried over to the shadow's duplication of the attack. Shadow Talents can be used to add iterative attacks to the shadow's follow-up ability. As a standard action, the right shadow talent does allow the silhouette to delimit the action-limit imposed on the shadow, which also allows for interesting strategies. Limited, scaling damage redistribution to the shadow, channeling touch powers through it, sharing non-general feats...and there is an option to gain two shadows...but, for balance's sake, they thankfully still share the same pool of actions.

All in all, a very powerful, but also extremely cool archetype - and frankly, I think it works as a rather strong option in regular fantasy campaigns. While it’s not made for grittier games, I really enjoy the engine it employs in all but details. Two big thumbs up from yours truly!

The second part of the pdf contains the feats...and a bunch of them frankly should have been in Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warriors I. Metapsionic Animus, for example, which builds on the halo knight's animus-psionics engine and allows for the paying of metapsionic costs with animus (sharing the delimiting concern I voiced there). Psi-Animus Assault further increases the damage of Psionic Fist or Psionic Weapon by +1d6 for 1 point of animus, +1d6 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, with correspondingly higher animus costs. Ranged Martial Power...does NOTHING. You can use martial power when making ranged attacks. Yeah, you could do that before - ranged TOUCH attacks were prohibited by the class feature...for good reason, I might add...Warrior's Focus is pretty insane - it nets you an additional psionic focus that can be used only in conjunction with warrior's path abilities. Not getting near my game.

The three warrior's paths introduced in the previous pdf also get feats that expand upon them (why were they not in #1?): Advanced Anomalous Path adds the trance benefit to touch AC for powers, spells and psi- and spell-like abilities and increases the animus gained from the maneuver by increasing the die-size to d6s. Advanced Hungering Path renders those that fail a save versus your powers or abilities in the debuff aura sickened for 2 round. The drain is enhanced to also inflict 1d6 hit point damage, +1d6 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. It also nets you temporary hit points when leeching thus. These thankfully do not stack with themselves...kudos there. The Advanced Outrider Path's benefit is pretty nasty when passing an opponent within 5 ft. with the mount granted from the trance, you deal Wisdom modifier force damage, though it thankfully has a balancing caveat that makes this only possible 1/round/enemy...though I still wish that limit would make some sense in-game.

Advanced Gladiator Path lets you move 5 feet when in trance and failing a combat maneuver or having an enemy fail a combat maneuver against you. Additionally, the maneuver of the path may be made 1/round as a free action as part of an attack - expend the psionic focus and make a combat maneuver attempt as part of the attack action. Adrenal Overchannel allows you to use Overchannel to grant yourself a +1 insight bonus to atk, +2 insight bonus to damage rolls instead of the ML-bonus. This increases at 8th and 15th level to +2/+4 and +3/+6, respectively, while conversely increasing the damage taken to 3d8 and 5d8, respectively.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level - for the most part, this is as precise and amazing as we've come to expect from Dreamscarred Press, though the "see page X" glitch and the feat that does nothing are both uncharacteristic blunders. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the nice artwork on the cover is duplicated herein, making for a nice visualization of the silhouette. The pdf comes properly and fully bookmarked this time around - nice! The pdf also comes with a second, more printer-friendly version.

I really, really wished Dreamscarred Press had chosen a different way to split the content between this pdf and Psychic Warriors Augmented I. I honestly consider it really sucky that part #1 lacked the feat required for the archetype...and now, we have the supplemental material for the warrior's paths introduced in #1 here, in #2...alongside more feats made for the halo knight...and nothing for the amazing silhouette.

Let me make that abundantly clear: The silhouette is glorious. I love it. The dynamic gameplay, strategic choices, the limits imposed and means to offset them - Chris Bennett and Forrest Heck really show their design-muscles here. Big time. The archetype, on its own is pretty much pure amazing, if pretty potent. The same, alas, cannot be unanimously said for the feats and the distribution of content. The soulknives-installments didn't have that issue to this extent, so why start now? Especially when the solution would have been so simple: Anomalous path and all the Path of War crossover Halo Knight stuff in one pdf, reaver and silhouette in the other. Paths and feats that build on paths in the same pdf. Done. Not that hard. I assume that some snags in the production cycle caused this decision, but it still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Such operations always hurt the respective files.

That being said, even while the majority of the feats herein build on material from book #1, the pdf is clearly designated as such and makes that clear on the product page, so it gets a pass in that regard. Still, the feat-chapter leaves me more ambivalent than I'd like and I'd strongly suggest GMs checking these very, VERY carefully before allowing them...but still...get this if the silhouette even remotely interests you. While I do not agree with the soulknife-notes, that is the only big flaw I could find with it and it's based on my ambivalence regarding the mechanically amazing, but balance-wise problematic options there, and NOT, let me reiterate, NOT the fault of the archetype.

Tl;dr: Silhouette = amazing; supplemental material = not so amazing. Still, for the more than fair and low asking price, this is well worth a final verdict of 4 stars. If you're playing a really high-powered game/enjoy Path of War-style gameplay and have the first pdf, feel free to add a star to this, as you'll get more oomph out of the halo knight.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior II
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Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/31/2017 04:50:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Psionics Augmented-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with new archetypes, the first of which would be the Halo Knight, who REQUIRES Path of War Expanded - so if you don't use Path of War alongside psionics due to balance-concerns, this one provides a bit of a conundrum, since the pdf does not replicate the feat on which the core ability of the archetype is based. It should also be noted that yes, the power-level for this one is above what I’d allow in my regular, non-Path-of-War-using game.

The archetype replaces the first-level bonus feat with Tap Animus, which nets you an animus pool at the start of combat, with one point. You continue to gain one animus point each round and the pool lasts for one minute after the last adversary is defeated. While usually, maneuvers can generate animus, this is changed here to instead generate 1 animus for when manifesting psionic powers. Alternatively, he can generate 1 point of animus by expending 2 power points. If the character gains an animus pool later, he can exchange this feat with Extra Animus.

While the character has at least 1 point of animus, he is surrounded by a luminous field that grants 1 point of Wisdom bonus (if any) as a deflection bonus to AC; this field also generates light, but that effect may be suppressed, replacing psionic proficiency. At 9th level, this is upgraded to daylight and also kicks in upon rolling initiative, not upon the first round...and it provides uncanny dodge...oh, and it nets resistance 20 to the active energy type. If the character already has uncanny dodge, he instead gains improved uncanny dodge. This replaces secondary path.

The archetype is locked into the anomalous warrior's path. This is one of the new psychic warrior's paths and nets Knowledge (arcana), Perception and Spellcraft as skills, Knowledge (arcana) as the bonus class skill and the trance-effect nets a +1 bonus to saves versus powers, spells, psi-like and spell-like abilities while psionically focused, which increases by +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The bonus is not types as a competence bonus, unlike the bonuses gained by trances in Ultimate Psionics, which makes me suspect an oversight there. The maneuver of the path, gained at 3rd level, allows the psychic warrior to expend his psionic focus as a move action to add 1d4 points of animus to his animus pool, potentially even creating one if the psychic warrior usually does not have one. At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the psychic warrior adds a further 1d4 points of animus when activating this ability.

The two new powers granted by this path would, firstly, be transfer animus: This one, used as a swift action, allows the psychic warrior to transfer animus to the target; via augment-options and additional power point expenditure, this can be done at close range and as a ranged touch attack instead. This becomes a viable strategy with the second power, animus overload, which detonates the animus held by an enemy, causing 5 points of damage (unytped, but considering the set-up, okay) per point of animus held, with a Fort-save to negate, as the animus explodes. Analogue to transfer, this can be augmented to work at range...and is surprisingly cool. Charging and blowing up foes? I can get behind that!

But let us return to the Halo Knight, shall we? Whenever the halo knight would gain a psychic warrior bonus feat, he may elect to take an anima skill instead. Unless otherwise noted, save-DCs are governed by Wisdom, though in a deviation from the usual presentation, the save DC is not reiterated. While it's not hard to find out, that can result in a bit more book-flipping then necessary...but, before you're asking, no I'm not going to penalize this file for that. These skills allow for some seriously interesting combos - for example, anima infusion allows the halo knight to use a psychic warrior power with a range of personal as an immediate action by expending 3 points of anima...which should make some of you look up from this: Yes, this allows for more casts per round and as such, is rather potent.

Adding bonus damage to his weapon and ghost touch or an increased enhancement bonus for the weapon can be found. Another skill adds the array of blaster powers to his powers list, which per se would not be an issue - where I get cranky would be when the follow-up skill nets the option to expend psionic focus and three anima to cast such a power as a psi-like ability - no power point cost. Granted, since animus is restricted to combats you won't have infinite blasts...but it is still something that makes me twitch a bit, considering the other options of the archetype...The ability to use animus to grant fast healing 5 temporarily to allies nearby is similarly only held in check by the combat focus of the resource - without that, we'd have infinite healing. It gets a pass, but should get some GM oversight prior to introduction to a campaign. I know that some folks don't like the aesthetics there.

At 4th level, the halo knight stops any pretense and simply gets better in every conceivable way than a regular psychic warrior. He can use animus as power points to pay for the manifestation, delimiting a limited resource. Not WHOLLY, mind you - I very much understand the limitations of rounds and the like...but this is where I'd draw the line for my games - while he won't be able to operate near full potency, this makes animus behave basically as temporary power points. This won't hurt the archetype's functionality in a game that has a high power-level, but it disqualifies it for grittier games that include resource-management as something that actually matters.

Starting at 12th level, the archetype can 1/day (+1/day at 15th and 18th level) as a swift action, cause it to blaze for 1 minute, generating an additional point of animus at the start of the turn and when manifesting and creatures that hit him with melee attacks (reach is irrelevant, which is a violation of how that's usually handled) take 5d6 energy damage of the active energy type, but only once per round per creature. Problematic for all but the most high-powered of games: When in this mode, he can spend 3 animus as an immediate action to ignore any damage that would reduce him below 0 hit points. While this replaces pathweaving and twisting path, it is one of those abilities that I can see work in Path of War and high-powered games that emphasize super-potent PCs...but not in more down to earth games. ("God hit me with magic of doom? Pff, I can shrug that off at least 5 more times!") The capstone makes the halo always on and provides an outsider apotheosis.

The second archetype in this book would be the reaver, who gains Bluff, Disguise, Disable Device and Stealth as class skills as well as 6 + Int skills per level. Proficiency-wise, they get simple and martial weapons as well as kama, katana, kusarigama, nunchaku, sai, shuriken, siangham, and wakizashi as well as light armor, but not shields. These guys may choose powers from the cryptic's power-list IN ADDITION to that of the psychic warrior. At first level, they replace warrior's path with killer's claim: As a swift action a creature within close reach can be Claimed and a reaver may maintain up to Wisdom modifier such claimed targets, minimum 1. Creatures claimed provoke AoOs from the reaver when using Withdraw and the reaver knows their location. Claim has no duration. Instead of 3rd level's expanded path, the reaver gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC and a +1 bonus to Reflex saves while psionically focused, increasing that by +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, but only while wearing medium armor or less. At a later level, he gets +2 to damage rolls versus targets of his Claim, a bonus that increases by +2 at 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter. The reaver may expend his psionic focus to inflict +2d4 bonus damage per +2 bonus to damage instead.

At 9th level, reducing a killer's claim target to 0 hit points can 1/day instantly recover the psionic focus, +1/day use at 12th level and 15th, replacing twisting path and secondary path. The 18th level ability is really cool: A target claimed can be cursed 1/day, making healing and raising impossible while the curse is not broken. Cool replacement for pathweaving! As a capstone, he can enter a killing trance 1/day as a free action while psionically focused, lasting 5 minutes or until the focus is expended. During this trance, he gets + Wis-mod to atk, skills, ability checks, initiative and AC and 1/round round inflicts +10d4 damage to a target of Killer's Claim, usually on the first attack. Additionally, he may move up to his movement as an immediate action.

Of course, the archetype also has some choices to offer - so-called reaver insights may be taken instead of bonus feats: Bleeding damage to claimed targets, cryptic insights at -2 levels (excluding ones based on patterns). Slightly odd: One of these insights mentions the ability to maintain a Claim for up to 24 hours...implying that the base ability should have a duration...which it does not have. Penalizing saves and CMD of targets, skill-bonuses and rogue tricks complement an archetype...I REALLY, really like! This is a potent headhunter, sure, but it does not have any abilities I'd consider problematic...though an update regarding claim-duration would be helpful. Still: Two thumbs up for this one, I'd allow that in all my games, not just the high-fantasy/powered ones!

Beyond the aforementioned psychic warrior path, the pdf also offers the hungering path, which nets Intimidate, Knowledge (planes) (that's the bonus class skills, btw.) and Perception as skills. The trance puts a -2 penalty on saves versus the psychic warrior's abilities on targets within 10 feet, increasing the range by +5 ft. at 11th and 19th level and the penalty by -1 at 7th and 15th level. Power-wise, it nets corrosive aura and dissipating touch and the maneuver, unlocked at 3rd level, is potent: As a swift action, the psychic warrior can expend his focus when hitting a foe, draining 1d6 power points or one phrenic pool point, gaining 1 temporary power point. At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, this increases by +1d6 for power point loss, +1 for phrenic pool point loss and temporary power point gain. I assume that the temporary power points are only gained when something is actually drained, but I'm not 100% sure there - it can be read either way.

The third path would be that of the outrider, who gets Acrobatics, Ride and Handle Animal - the latter being the bonus class skill. Powers-wise, we get astral construct and skate. The path also has a really unique trance, one that creates a quasi-mount - this mount may be sped up via swift action expenditure as maneuvers and scales its potency, ignoring temporarily difficult terrain at 7th level and at 11th level, he can even move through creatures with it - pretty interesting.

Beyond the two powers already covered, one ties in with a reaver insight I deliberately didn't mention before: You see, reavers can assume the identities of those killed, with a variety of mental semblance a power that allows for the extremely potent impersonation of a target. Pretty cool! The final ability, steal animus, does pretty much what it says on the tin - once again with the option to augment it for close range action.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level - while a I noticed an errant "t" that should have been capitalized, though the absence of the killer's claim duration, pretty clearly implied by an insight, is not cool. Similarly, I find it problematic, particularly for fans of psionics who don't like Path of War, to not include the feat that's the base-line for more than half of the content herein - usually DSP is pretty good at avoiding such guffaws. And YES, I am aware that the feat can be found in "Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warriors II" (alongside supplemental material for this pdf that would make more sense in this pdf…), but the content-distribution still sucks. Layout adheres to Dreamscrred Press' nice two-column full-color standard and the halo knight's artwork, as seen on the cover, is damn cool. The pdf comes with rudimentary, very basic bookmarks. As always, we get a second, more printer-friendly version - kudos there!

Chris Bennett, with additional design from Forrest Heck, provides some highly complex and unique archetypes herein; both halo knight and reaver offer distinct playstyles based on concepts introduced in Path of War, though they do so in exceedingly different ways: The halo knight, I'd situate closer to the very high-powered non-stop gameplay one associates with Path of War: The archetype delimits power points, a primary spellcasting resource, and while it doesn't completely delimit it, in combination with the other potent options it provides, that's enough to disqualify the archetype in all but my most high-powered of games.

The reaver, on the other hand, takes a cue from the harbinger and takes the claiming engine and molds it to instead apply to concepts assigned to the cryptic, without infringing on the signature moves of the class, creating something thematically thoroughly unique - very potent, but also rewarding. I have absolutely no concerns regarding this one - while the added power-selection is very potent, the loss of flexibility regarding path choices etc. does somewhat make up for that. This is still a strong option, mind you - but not one that will lead to issues in most games.

The supplemental material is solid for the most part, with only minor hiccups like aforementioned missing bonus type - and these are few and far in-between. That being said, as a reviewer, I am not 100% sure to whom to recommend this - folks who'll love the vast power of the halo knight will probably shrug at the reaver...and vice versa: People who'll love the reaver most likely will consider the halo knight to be over the top and OP. The absence of the Halo Knight's very fundamental feat, the literal foundation on which the archetype is build, can also be...kinda jarring. This makes the pdf something of a mixed bag in my book - and yes, for lower power-levels, the halo knight can be nerfed pretty easily...but still. For me, as a person, I'll take the reaver out of this pdf...and that's it. As a person, I'd rate this 3 stars.

As a reviewer, however, I have to take into account that the halo knight will most definitely find its fans...which leaves me with the split focus and the flaws of the pdf as detrimental aspects. I thought long and hard and ultimately, I feel justified in rating this 3.5 stars. If you want lower-powered gameplay on par with Ultimate Psionics, round down; if you want more power à la Path of War, you'll probably want to round up. Still. This lacks the feat on which more than half of the content of this pdf is based on. As long as that feat's text is not reprinted herein, I cannot round up. As soon as it's included, I'll do just that for my official verdict as well.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Psychic Warrior
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Psionics Augmented: Occult
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2017 15:26:54

It is important to note that this book does not contain new information. Rather its is a collection of previously published "Psionic Augumented" installments.

Chapter 1 Psionics Augumented - Host of Heroes Psionics Augumented - Living Legends

Chapters 2 Psionics Augmented: Kineticists

Chapters 3 & 4 Psionics Augumented - Mind & Soul

Chapters 5 Psionics Augumented - Occultists

Chapters 6 Psionics Augumented - Empaths



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Occult
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Unfettered Dreams: Malefex
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2017 07:33:04

Unfettered Dreams: Malefex opens up with statements from the author Jade Ripley and from Ehn Jolly, a contributing author, adding a personal touch. Up next are a table of contents, a small section on "using this book" summarizing each chapter, and a list of books needed and suggested to use Unfettered Dreams: Malefex to the fullest.

First is the desctriptor for the malefex, painting them as scrappy folk magic users that utiliize their curses and hard earned skills to win their fights. What strikes me about the fluff is that malefex feels like it fits into most fantasy settings. It feels like a concept that should exist. It can even be used to emulate some comic book characters like Black Cat or Jinx. When it comes to class features matching fluff, the malefex defintitely earns an A.

Up next is the actual class. The malefex sits at d8 HD with medium BAB and good reflex and will saves. They also have an abundance of class skills and the skill points to use them. Finally, malefexes are proficient in martial weapons and light armor. No shield proficiency.

Class feature wise, the malefex's main tool are their malefactions. Malefactions are swift action curse effects that tend to debuff their foes or provide a buff to the malefex when abusing their enemies. As the malefex levels up they learn progressively stronger malefactions, capstoning with one of three very strong maledictions. These malefactions cover a variety of effects, from gluing a foe in place to giving the foe spell resistance that only blocks harmless effects and effects from their allies. Malefactions have an infinite duration as long as the foe remains in the malefex's line of site. Otherwise, the malefaction expires one minute later. There is even a side bar explaining how malefactions interact with the curse condition from Path of War Expanded.

Up next are knocks from the malefex's School of Hard Knocks ability. In stucture these are like talents from other classes, though they tend to be quite strong on their own and do not rely on taking chains of knacks in order to have significant effects to the character. These knacks offer a great degree of customization to the malefex. Between malefaction and knack choices, there can be a lot of variation between two malefexes.

Besides the two staples of maledictions and knocks, malefexes gain a variety of other features such as combat bonuses against cursed targets (malefactions are curses, but so are spells such as Bestow Curse), trapfinding, or the aptly named Schadenfreude which grants the malefex temporary hitpoints when nearby creatures suffer misfortune (curses). Malefexes also gain a variety of features augmenting their malefactions and fluffy features such as the ability to sniff out merchants and bargains, or break enchantment a few times a day.

There is more to the book than just the malefex class however. Presented after the class are a wide variety of favored class bonuses that cover a solid variety of races. There is also the rustpicker malefex archetype that gains and upgrades the Brilliant Planner feat from Ultimate Intrigue in a variety of interesting ways.

The feats are mostly the feats you would expect such as Extra X or Improved X feats. Honed Maliciousness however is a very strong feat that allows the malefex to pierce curse immunity, though at the cost of granting the foe a huge bonus on saves against curses. Wrack and Ruin is another cool feat, allowing more combat focused malefexes to deal some extra damage.

Rogues, slayers and vigilantes all gain talents that grant them access to knocks and maledictions. I am annoyed that the vigilante talent for malediction use gains more daily uses of maledictions thant he rogues and slayers. To cap off the book, some reference feats were printed. Sadly, the Brilliant Planner feat the rustpicker malefex is based around has not been reprinted here.

Overall, this is a excellent release. The malefex covers excellent thematic ground and backs up the strong themes with good mechanics. I feel like some of the later malefactions are overly strong; though not enough to make this class overpowered. Even with these shortcomings, Unfettered Dreams: Malefex is an awesome book! If you love curses or magical scrappers, this book is for you. If you want a class that focuses on a rarely used mechanic, this book is for you. I rate it a 4.5 out of 5 (so a 5 here on Drivethrurpg).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unfettered Dreams: Malefex
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Psionics Augmented: Host of Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/28/2017 05:02:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Occult branch of Psionics Augmented clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages introduction (which also contains notes on how to handle psionics and psychic magic in the same game, themes, etc.), 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, though it should be noted that two pages are devoted to reference material, ensuring that you get the most out of this and have all required material in one place - kudos!

The host of heroes is an archetype for the aegis base class, but one so massive, it can basically be called a class of its own. The host of heroes (which I'll just call "host" from now on) adds Knowledge (history) to his list of class skills. Instead of an ectoplasmic armor, the host calls upon legendary roles of old each day to form his astral suit. Each day upon regaining power points, one such legendary role is chosen and then emulated and the astral suit can only be formed into one matching the host's chosen role. Activation is btw., a swift action. The host is always proficient with his respective astral suit and each of them has different free customizations that never count against the host's total number of customization points spent on the astral suit. The appearance of the suit is not strictly chosen - instead, the suit mimics the appearance of the legend in question - as though he was channeling a larger than life version of the respective legend. Dismiss ectoplasm and no-psionics/magics field and interaction are properly covered, with manifester level being treated as class level. This replaces astral suit, but counts as it for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.

Instead of craftsman, the host gains a +2 bonus to two skills, as determined by the role he emulates with his suit, with 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter increasing the skill bonuses by +1. The host is considered to be trained in these skills. A big smile covered my face when I saw the theory (though I am not 100% sold on it) of the monomyth represented as the 3rd level ability. Each of the legendary roles has a list of customizations associated with its iteration of the associated facet of the monomyth theory. If you're not familiar with it, picture the monomyth as a reduction of stories to an archetypic journey, which receives different facets in its various versions. For the purpose of the class, this means that the archetypic mythic roles represent such a version - and the more you spend, customization-point-wise, the more you get to embody that respective tale. When the host spends customization points on a customization (excluding free ones), he can assign it to a particular role, provided it is on that role's list. A customization can only be assigned to one monomyth. A maximum number of such customization points equal to his class level may be assigned. If at least 3 points have been assigned to one, he begins unlocking special abilities - these are covered in steps of 3: 3, 6, 9 and 12 points are the respective thresholds to unlock new abilities.

In other words: The host can assign customization points to the roles he emulates, unlocking new abilities, adding further ability-choices: The host can assign these freely - e.g. a 12th level host could assign 3 points to 4 roles, unlocking 4 3-point monomyth abilities. Alternatively, he could assign 9 to one monomyth and 3 to another, unlocking the 3, 6 and 9 point abilities of one role, and the 3-point ability from another.

Additionally, each of the roles has a rite of passage, an action or test that the host can complete, starting at 3rd level, to gain a benefit from his role while his suit is activated - this bonus remains until he rests or violates the taboo associated with the respective rite of passage. Starting at 5th level, the completion of the rite can also gain a benefit, once for every five class levels, with cumulative effects - these include enhancement bonuses for armor, shields and weapons. As a minor complaint - the interaction with magic items potentially can be read to break the cap here. A caveat would have been prudent. This replaces damage reduction. At 4th level, the host can expend his psionic focus as a swift action to change the legendary role he emulates for Int-mod + 1/2 class level rounds, retaining customizations chosen, putting a damn cool twist on the reconfigure ability it replaces. The archetype also gets a custom capstone, saga's end, which renders his suit dispel-proof. Additionally, when killed or affected by a death effect, he can choose to dismiss his suit "sacrificing" the legend - he is healed to full maximum hit points and unaffected by the attack...and before you start groaning - this burns the role for one week, preventing cheeses at even this high level. Kudos there.

The host of heroes may also choose from a list of a couple of new 2-point customizations: Beacon outlines a target that has hit the host for his allies making the foe easier to perceive/hit (and foes don't see the light). Cunning represents basically a scaling headband of intellect, though personally, I think the skill ranks granted while wearing the suit should be locked at one skill - otherwise, this acts as a pretty potent skill wild-card. Faith nets a limited array of 1st level cleric spells, with subsequent takes unlocking higher levels. Magecraft does the same for sorc/wiz-spells, Potential for the psion-list. Skilled nets skill-bonuses and Wise Wisdom-enhancement analogue to Cunning - interesting: Most of these customizations have a limit on how often they can be taken, unless the host has the proper role emulated - this further entwines the concepts and rewards embracing the mode-style gameplay.

Okay, so, I've beaten around the bush long enough, let us take a look at the legendary roles in question, which, surprise, analogue to medium, etc., are based on the mythic paths in name and concept; I'll just touch upon each, as covering them in-depth would bloat the review further. Beyond the classic roster, the overmind mythic path is also covered and the pdf does provide a handy sidebar that tackles Path of War-interaction with maneuvers and roles. The respective roles, as mentioned before, offer both passive benefits and active ones, have associated customization lists and the monomyth and rite of passage abilities - in short, they offer more than many archetypes out there and can be considered to be rather diverse and intriguing roles. The first would be the archmage, who gains defensive mirror images as part of his astral suit and these even respawn via psionic focus and unlocks item use, with monomyth abilities adding to the defensive capabilities, providing energy blasts, expanding the blast to spreads and using it for iterative attacks...and, at the highest level, psychoport. The champion bulks you up via the suit and focuses on gaining feats via the monomyth abilities - at 9 points monomyth, you can even use power points to make one of them behave like a wildcard,

In contrast to that, the guardian gains adhesive feet, flexible suit and push and lets you bolster allies via psionic focus expenditure, with monomyth bonuses increasing your AoOs and defensive capabilities. The hierophant sports, surprisingly, cunning (and not wise) and fortification and unlocks cleric abilities as well as limited channel energy. The marshal gains flexible suit and ghostly guidance (reprinted in the reference material) and lets you spend power points to disperse teamwork feats temporarily to allies...and in a powerful and interesting trick, while psionically focuses, as a standard action, you can grant an ally a move action, which is taken immediately. Personally, I think this should have a cap of the ability only affecting a creature once per round, since otherwise, a group of hosts could spam move actions for one target - sure, not OP, but a weird image nonetheless. The overmind role nets you Int-bonus or 1/2 class level to AC and Deep Focus via monomyth and can also net you flight. The trickster role nets you climb and speed (2) as free customizations, emphasizing speed and provides proper trap disarming, power point-based, limited rerolls and better Stealth.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level - the pdf manages to capture highly complex concepts in a concise and well-presented manner. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured on the cover is badass. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version.

Doug Haworth, with Forrest Heck as design lead and Kevin Ryan and Adam Boucher as additional designers, delivers a potent, thoroughly amazing archetype here. The host of heroes seamlessly stand next to the thoroughly amazing, high-concept occult psionic options the series has brought us. Conceptually indebted (the pdf acknowledges as much) to the amazing Living Legend, the Host of Heroes has a similar leitmotif, but the execution and exact gameplay is absolutely distinct - this is not just a reskinned living legend. The roles and gameplay of these strange suits is truly evocative and allows for a wide variety of options - and the archetype does something interesting. You see, the aegis can be one of the more potent psionic classes in the hands of a good player. Instead of going into depth regarding the options of the class, the genius monomyth-engine manages to increase the flavorful themes of the base class and add flexibility, big time, to the options of the archetype. This flexibility, when properly employed, however, also takes away from the min-maxy spikes of the aegis - the archetype actively rewards you for playing a flexible, well-rounded character.

There are a few instances herein where I'd consider a caveat for lower-powered games appropriate and the archmage can be pretty brutal, but ultimately, the host of heroes makes for a truly amazing, flexible and well-crafted monster of an archetype. We need more options like this. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Host of Heroes
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April Augmented - 2017
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/08/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Dreamscarred Press' April's Fools-releases clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this one with a new 5-level PrC, the chessmaster, who needs 5 ranks in several skills, BAB +4 and the collective class feature to qualify. The PrC gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and doesn't gain additional weapon or armor proficiencies. BAB-wise, we get a 3/4 progression as well as Ref and Will-saves that improve to +3 over the course of the PrC. 4 of the 5 levels yield manifesting progression and levels in the class stack for the purpose of the collective's power. The base ability of the chessmaster is very, very strong: As a standard action, a member of the collective gains a benefit from Astral Construct Menu A, with 3rd level unlocking menu B and 5th level unlocking menu C - these last for one round per prestige class level, which is the literally only reason I am not screaming hellfire right now.

At the beginning of combat when rolling initiative, the collective may move 10 ft. as a free action. This movement does not count as having taken an action, but does provoke AoOs from eligible targets. 2nd level provides the immensely powerful castling ability - swap two members of the collective as a move action. It is codified as a teleportation effect, but does NOT provoke AoOs. Yep, that's infinite switcheroo. Oioioi. At 3rd level, the PrC gets En Passant: As a standard action, the chessmaster may designate a foe: If the foe leaves the space, he leaves behind a phantom afterimage - hitting this image inflicts damage to the foe. This lasts only for one round, but oh boy. At 4th level, the chessmaster may declare stalemate as an immediate action when an ally rolls an opposed check, but before results are made known. Both rolls are treated as the higher result. Also at this level, as a standard action, the chessmaster chooses an ally: A foe charged by this ally may not move until the beginning of the chessmaster's next turn. An ally may not be reused for a pin for one minute after use. At 5th level, the PrC learns checkmate, which is pretty amazing: Designate an ally and a foe - the ally must be able to act before the foe in the initiative order. The ally may immediately move their speed and take a standard action. If the foe is killed or reduced to 0 hp, the foe is temporal stasis'd. If not, the ally returns to his space, all results of the action undone. This also has a 1 minute cooldown.

A very potent PrC and conceptually awesome; at its power-level, I'd consider it suitable for Path of War power-level gameplay. Regular campaigns should think long and hard about its extremely potent powers before allowing it, though.

Next up would be an expansion for the Monster Classes-series, namely the owlbear. Base race-wise, these are magical beasts with +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, Medium, have low-light vision and darkvision 60 ft., +1 natural AC, are quadrupeds,...and really cool: The pdf specifies the ITEM SLOTS of the creature...and we get an age, height and weight table! Big effin' plus and makes me hope for the series' current revision! The monster class presented for the owlbear covers 5 levels and sports full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d4 claws at 1st level, d4 bite at second (both upgraded to d6 at 4th level), +2 natural armor at 2nd and 5th level,, scent at 2nd and an upgrade to Large size at 4th level. 5th level yields grab. Attribute bonus-wise, we get, +6 Str, +2 Dex, +6 Con, +2 Wis, for a total of 16 points gained over 5 levels, which is pretty potent. There are 4 feats for owlbears included: Arctic Adaption nets +5 Stealth in snowy areas and cold resistance 5 as well as a swim speed of 30 ft. - which is A LOT for one feat. Deep Adaptation nets darkvision to 120 ft., blindsight 60 ft. and eyeless if you take it a second time. Fruss Variety net fly speed 30 ft. with poor maneuverability and prolonged flight fatigues the owlbear. Great Hook-Claws net a climb speed of 20 ft. as well as a claw damage die upgrade by one step. All in all, very potent feats - but shouldn't the varieties be mutually-exclusive or is the potentially blind, white, flapping owlbear intended?

Race-wise, we are introduced to the longcatfolk, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, and they are treated as one size smaller when making an opposed check that takes size modifiers or special size modifiers into account, provided this would be beneficial to the longcatfolk, and they may squeeze through smaller spaces, replacing sprinter. 1/round, they can choose an adjacent 5-ft.-square and count as occupying that square for flanking purposes and once during that round, at -2 penalty, they can attack from that square, replacing natural hunter. The Munchkin catfolk gets +2 Cha and Int, -2 Con, is Small, slow and gains +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Perform, replacing natural hunter. Attitudes may be shifted by them an additional time, replacing sprinter.

Grippli may choose from two alternate racial traits: Bloodfrogs increase the Dc to still bleeding by +10 and even magical healing attempts to remove bleeding requires a CL-check to succeed. This replaces camouflage and swamp strider. Steelfrog nets a +6 armor bonus, but also a maximum Dexterity (should be capitalized) bonus of +3 and a -3 armor check penalty due to calcified skin. The skin may be enhanced as armor, replacing camouflage. Kitsune may choose "None of that weeaboo crap, either: They lose change shape and agile, but get +2 to Intimidate and may Intimidate as a move action - if they later gain the ability to intimidate as a move or swift action, they increase that to a free action...which probably should still have a cap per round. Dodo Tengu gain +2 Int and Cha, -4 Wis, gain the graveblood subtype and +4 to initiative, as the pdf specifies, "for some reason", replacing sneaky...which is too strong in my book. Emu tengus get +2 Str and Int, -2 Wis and powerful build, which replaces swordtrained and gifted linguist. They also get sprinter instead of sneaky, i.e. 40 ft. movement and Run as a bonus feat.

The Potoo has the following text: "What. God. No, this is a terrible idea. Why would you PLAY this thing? It looks like a goddamn muppet." XD Trait-wise, we have +2 Wis and Dex, -4 Cha, +4 to sight-based Perception, +2 to none-sight-based Perception instead of sneaky. +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy to convince other creatures they're harmless, -2 to Diplomacy in grave circumstances (the ability's called "Oh My God It Sounds Just AS Dumb" for a reason...) and +4 to Disguise checks to impersonate a log and may do so as an immediate action. This replaces swordtrained. And yes, I actually laughed out loud here. The shoebill tengu gets +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha, slow and steady, never take an Intimidate penalty for failure instead of gifted linguistic...and instead of swordtrained, they ignore ALL DIFFICULT TERRAIN. Wtf?

Fans of Path of War can take the new Damaged Glassware feat - initiators with two maneuvers from Shattered Mirror and Riven Hourglass gain an interesting option: When initiating a riven hourglass maneuver while within a shattered mirror stance, choose one target of the strike in its range. All squares within 10 ft. of the target are filled with glass shards, even if the strike misses. These shards vanish after one hour and gain an enhancement bonus to atk and damage equal to the level of the strike used and bypass DR as though they were a weapon with the strike level's enhancement bonus.

The psionic power false veil generates a veil that can be formed on any open chakra, which may be invested with essence, acting as a dupe. The cat-tastrophy level 9 spell affects a 1-mile radius area generating 1d100 + CL cats per round, with the cats potentially being focused on one square. Creatures slain erupt in even more housecats. Oh, and it may be made permanent. But only kind of. When the Focus cat's ears of wood are worn. Hilarious and made me go WTF in a good way rather hard. Recall Embarrassment is a debuff and animalfolk, lycanthropes etc. may appreciate the headpat cantrip and its greater level 1 version. Speaking of cantrips: Poser casters will love unlimited power while other may like the shadow puppet cantrip. Pun-tastic: Tailful Polymorph- which grows a tail. The greater one nets you more variety in the pseudo-animalistic features you wish to bestow.

Fans of akashic mysteries will appreciate the drunkard's sash, which prevents alcohol penalties, and drinking something nets twice character level temporary hit points, which may only be gained once per round and last one minute and may net essence invested in DR /-. Binding it to the waist nets bonuses depending on the substance consumed; Alcohol nets +2 Str, Tea + 2 Dex...etc. - these bonuses, intriguingly, are tied to the presence of remaining temporary hit points. I am not too keen on the nigh-infinite temporary hit points, but whether I'd consider that problematic would depend on the respective campaign.

Bottles or kegs of endless alcohol would make any tavern ridiculous; classic rulings binders provide +2 to Spellcraft and help identify spells untrained. Oh, and yes, there is a monster manual-equivalent (lol). The Familiar's familiar is fun in that one sentence manages to cram the word "familiar", in a rules-relevant manner, mind you, no less than 12 (!!!) times...and gets the italicizations right, showcasing well why formatting matters. Kudos! It gets even more absurd with the familiar's familiar's familiar -21 times in one sentence. Yes, that is my type of humor. Yes, I am weird. Marobo is, surprise, a magic, automated cleaning device and come with a greater variety. While a sidebar notes that they can be used as familiars, they lack the stats for that. Plushie Powder shrinks a deceased creature down to Tiny size and makes it a plushie...and there is an infinite bag variant...talk about adding insult to injury.

Finally, we get the highly customizable pocket assistant - basically a magical smart phone that can be fitted with a wide variety of apps: Daniel's Roster (Craig's List), locate myself or Necromancy MOVE, which appropriately, traps SOULS, make for some interesting options that made me smile.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and really impressive for a PWYW-kinda-joke product, on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks (but funny lines that explain why...) and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Adam Boucher, Anthony Cappel, Katia Oakes, Jacob Karpel, Jeffrey Swank and Patrick Miller have created an interesting pdf here: As we've come to expect from Dreamscarred Press, the rules-language is crisp and the respective concepts are depicted in a creative and fun manner. At the same time, it should be noted that the power-level of the options herein is generally pretty high - not all of them, mind you, but I'd strongly encourage checking very closely whether or not to include some of these in low or medium-powered games. At the same time, this is a) PWYW and b) a really FUNNY book that gets some actual mileage out of its funny components...and that's something to be applauded...and it's the intention of the book. Plus, high-powered campaigns will probably enjoy this VERY MUCH. While not for everyone, this does have its raison d'être and is worth downloading -at the very least, you'll get a chuckle out of it (The Potoo made me laugh SO HARD!) and you can decide relatively easily whether or not it is for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
April Augmented - 2017
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Bloodforge Infusions: Esoteric Energy
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/07/2017 05:52:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion-pdf for Dreamscarred Press' massive Bloodforge-book of races clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/foreword by the authors, 1/2 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, one thing bloodforge did that I should have commented on in my review back in the day, would be that it introduced the notion of certain subtypes that make it possible for a creature, to, via the subtype, count as a second creature type for the purpose of spells and effects, abilities etc. While this does not necessarily yield issues per se, it makes some type-interactions a bit more complex for the GM and, promptly, a rather annoyed reader did comment on this in a private e-mail I am not going to duplicate here. Suffice to say, I do not consider this a problem per se - purists may argue otherwise, and I get the potential issues here, but, as a whole, I don't consider that a strike against the system presented. I mention this since the half page below the ToC is used to recap these subtypes.

All right, the first race featured herein should bring a smile to fans of Full Metal Alchemist - the atstreidi are suits of living armor! They gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, if they choose the aegis class, they form its astral armor over their bodies, losing temporarily their armor shell and any armor absorbed in favor of the astral suit to prevent insane stacking. Wait, what? Okay, the slow route: They are aberrations with the psionic and slimeblood subtypes, Medium, have darkvision 60 ft. and are immune to diseases and poisons, gain all benefits of 8 hours of sleep in 2 hours (no, spellcasters can still only prepare spells once per day...) and they have a base 25% chance to negate crits and precision damage etc., with fortification and similar effects increasing that chance by 10% instead of the usual benefits. They gain a +4 armor bonus to AC from their armored shell, but cannot wear armor -instead, they can, in a 24 hour-process, migrate to a new suit of armor and are helpless while undergoing this rigorous ritual - once transferred, they replace the armored shell's bonus with that of the assimilated armor and are considered to be wearing it. The shell can be enchanted and its enchantments maintained - or those of the armor. The unarmed attacks and slams made are treated as though of the armor regarding DR and properties and yep, the ability takes sleeping in armor into account. The race also gets Wild Talent and may gain a power point as a favored class option. They can speak to deaf creatures, courtesy of their soothing voice, and get a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and to Bluff, but suffer a -2 penalty to Intimidate. It should be noted that teh communication and Diplomacy bonus are contingent on the creature not being immune to mind-affecting effects. They also gain a 1d4 primary slam attack.

As alternate racial traits, we have a +4 bonus to Intimidate and -2 to Diplomacy for those born of a psychic imprint of hate, replacing the soothing communication, obviously. Instead of a slam attack, a chosen weapon proficiency can be taken and there is an alternative for playing Small versions, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int. The pdf provides favored class options that include the option to gain 1/6 Heritage feat for all classes and specialized ones, for alchemist, aegis, barbarian, bard, druid, guru, inquisitor, monk, psychic warrior, soulknife, spiritualist, wilder, stalker and wizard. These are all solid.

The second new race herein would be the eiremian, born of a connection to the negative energy plane, inheriting an inner stillness that can be considered to be quieting and numbing, making them often feel like they're missing out. The pdf has a funny jab here "It could be worse. They could be a dhampir." They are native outsiders with +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, darkvision 60 ft., +2 to Disguise and Stealth, -2 to Diplomacy, +4 to saves versus emotion effects and +4 to the DC to intimidate them (here we have a missing italicization of a spell effect quoted as an example)...and they gain Silent Desolation. Negative energy dealt by them against creatures and objects usually immune to it, still inflicts half damage. ... Yeah, not getting anywhere near my game. Negative energy is already a very strong, rarely resisted energy type. They also gain "The Terrible Peace": As an immediate action, they can force a target within close range to halt, with the Will-save to resist being 10 + 1/2 character level + Wisdom modifier. Full-round actions thus interrupted count as having been a standard action...which becomes all manner of wonky when used in conjunction with full attacks: TWFing ally hits for 4 of his 5 attacks, gets hit and gets a free move. Yes, the ability implies that the immediate action has to be taken BEFORE the effects of a given action, but it does not explicitly state so and RAW, immediate and swift actions may be used during a full attack. Even without this cheese, this would be INCREDIBLY powerful for a racial ability - and it has no daily limit - just a 1-minute cool-down. Oh, and these guys gain character level + Wisdom modifier negative energy resistance.

Instead of terrible peace and the save bonus, there is an option to, up to 3/day as a standard action, designate 1 + 1 creature per 4 character levels within 60 ft. and line of sight - on a failed save, their attitude changes one step towards indifferent and morale bonuses, fear effects, confusion or emotion effects are suppressed for 1 minute. Also a replacement for terrible peace is the powerful inevitability: When subject to hold person or "another effect that would prevent her from acting normally", the save may be rerolled. It has a 1 minute cooldown. Yeah, that is a nonentity of rules-language I don't usually get to see in Dreamscarred Press books. What constitutes this nebulous "acting normally"? Rage? Madness? Dex-reducing poisons? Spells hat generate weight? Entangle? No idea. Finally, we have a subtype that makes them count as human. Favored class option-wise, we have 1/6 Heritage feat for all classes as an option and specific FCOs for alchemist, cleric, fighter, guru, harbinger, hunter, inquisitor, kineticist, mystic, occultist, slayer, spiritualist, soulknife, vitalist and warder.

Ethumions would be the positive energy counterparts with +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wisdom; they are native outsiders with darkvision 60 ft. and gain Quick Draw as a bonus feat and may use it to draw any object. As a standard action they may perform a supernatural version of mage hand as a standard action. They recover hp and eliminate fatigue every hour as though they had rested for 8 hours, making fatigue and derivatives as a balancing check meaningless...particularly since they also regenerate ability damage and burn at twice the normal rate. They also do not gain temporary hit points in excess of their maximum from positive energy-dominant planes. They also receive +2 to Sleight of Hand and Escape Artist, -2 to Bluff and when they heal a creature, they increase the amount healed by +1 hit point, + another hit point at every odd level thereafter. Okay, does this extend to healing in a vitalist's collective redistributed by the character? The ability specifies that it applies to powers etc., but does collective healing qualify?

When inflicting positive energy damage, they also add Constitution modifier to the damage caused. Instead of the healing boost and the telekinesis, they can gain a third, invisible, intangible hand that can wield weapons (though it can't be used as a third weapon attack). The wording here regarding the third attack can be a bit confusing, but ultimately works. Alternatively, they can reduce their darkvision to 30 ft., but gain constant deathwatch in that range (COOL!)...and, once again, mostly human is an option. Beyond the general heritage FCO option, we get specified ones for alchemist, surprisingly, antipaladin, barbarian, bard, daevic, fighter, kineticist, occultist, paladin, rogue, sorceror, soulknife, warder, warlord and wilder. Once again, these are solid and before you ask - yes, we do get an age. height and weight table.

The pdf reprints the mixed blood trait before moving on to a selection of reprints of heritage feats from the big book. Wondered what the weird creature on the cover was? Well, that would be the Ravid, a CR 5 creature that pulses with a flow of positive energy that animates objects and grants it armored shell on speed with on the fly customization and regenerating temporary hit points as well as the option to make the whirl of objects a vortex of shrapnel in bursts or cones...oh, and their attacks are laced with positive energy! An amazing, cool and versatile critter here. Two thumbs up!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - apart from missed italicizations, nothing grievous. For the most part, the rules-language of this pdf is as crisp and precise as we'd expect from the authors and Dreamscarred Press - i.e., top-notch...though, as mentioned above, there are some uncharacteristic hiccups that detract from an otherwise pretty excellent overall performance. The pdf adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports anime-style artworks that fit the theme of the races and the somewhat playful and chaotic nature of the Ravid.

Forrest Heck and Jade Ripley, with additional design by Adam Boucher, Doug Haworth, Jacob Karpel, Katia Oakes, Kevin Ryan and Matthew Ryan Medeiros have created three of the most creative races I've seen in a long, long while. Each of the races features not one, but several unique and amazing angles for roleplaying, flavorful and unique concepts, creative abilities that matter and very cool alternate racial traits. Two out of three also all are VERY, VERY STRONG. The Atstreidi, I'd allow in my regular-powered games - they are amazing, flavorful and their armor-engine is genius; You get a unique playing experience without it breaking the game and the limitations imposed on it and the crisp, pitch-perfect language that codifies them, is amazing. The ereimian and ethumion are also very flavorful, but mop the floor with aasimars, elans and other apex-level races, each of them breaking checks and balances in some way. They need, in my opinion, a hefty, prolonged whacking with a big nerfbat to bring them on par with even the strongest of races I usually get to see. I can't recommend them in any way, shape or form as written, which breaks my heart - You see, in spite of the minor flaws I complained about, I LOVE both races. Sure, they need to be cut down to size, but they are worth doing so and it's not hard to do so. As a reviewer, I have to rate what's here, though.

The Ravid, just fyi, closes this pdf in style as another definite high note for the pdf. But oh boy, how do I rate this? I have severe issues with more than half of the content., but ultimately, I do love even the flawed parts. The material I don't have issues with ranks as the absolute apex of what I've seen in races and frankly would deserve candidate status. Similarly, the ravid is a delightfully brutal monster with a thoroughly creative, compelling build.

...

Times like these, my job's really not easy. On the one hand, I want to scream and rage, on the other, I want to cheer and applaud...and ultimately, the second impulse is the stronger. This is a mixed bag, yes, but one where a capable GM (or a revision) can make the dark spots shine bright like a sun and add to otherwise truly amazing options. If you're planning on using eiremians and ethumions, whack them a bit before you do, unless you're playing in a really high-powered custom-races game, though...and if that irks you, round down instead. Still, ravid and atstreidi and the ideas alone make this worth the asking price and I have always valued imperfect and creative offerings over bland, but perfect ones...which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodforge Infusions: Esoteric Energy
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Divergent Paths: Fools Errand
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/18/2017 04:21:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Dreamscarred Press' Path of War system clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD (though this page also contains the available services of the new martial tradition contained herein), leaving us with slightly more than 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Since this requires Path of War and Path of War Expanded to use, I assume that you're familiar with the terminology of the system herein. Furthermore, it should be noted that I will rate this as an expansion for the Path of War system and its significantly increased power-level and not as something divorced from it - this review assumes that you're familiar and okay with the boost of PC power it creates.

So, this pdf depicts the new discipline Fool's Errand - so named because of the haughty words uttered by a mage - to shove it down that mage's throat would be the goal that ultimately led to the creation of this discipline. Something that should strike a chord with path of War's fans, as it encapsulates pretty much the raison d'être for the whole series. Anyways, Fool's Errand's associated skill is Climb and it plays well with a lot of combos, for all weapons are treated as associated weapons for the discipline. This easy accessibility is also mirrored in how it can be gained: Any class may trade one of its disciplines in to gain Fool's Errand and its Climb skill instead.

Quite a few of Fool's Errand's maneuvers make unarmed strikes - these are made at the highest BAB, may deal lethal or nonlethal damage (cool!) and do not provoke AoEs. They add the full Strength modifier to damage and initiators may execute them even when their hands are full or if they attacked with their hands already. These are treated as unarmed strikes for all intents and purposes and if a character is prohibited from making such strikes, they may still initiate a maneuver. However, other weapons may not be substituted for the unarmed strikes granted by Fool's Errand maneuvers - with the exception of gauntlets, obviously. It should also be noted that, while this makes Fool's Errand strikes operate as though they were Improved Unarmed Strikes, the discipline does not actually specify granting it, which serves as a multiclassing/prerequisite hurdle. All in all, a solid array of clearly defined limiting conditions.

Next up, we're introduced to a new condition imposed by many of the maneuvers herein, the "locked" condition. Only creatures within melee reach may be locked. Locking a creature does not provoke AoOs and while it is treated as a melee attack for purposes of miss chances, line sight etc., it is not a melee attack per se. It ends any Stealth you may have and a creature affected must succed a Reflex save versus 10 + 1/2 your highest initiator level + your Strength modifier or highest initiation modifier, whichever is highest, or become locked. Locking is considered to be a Fool's Errand maneuver for the purposes of DC-increasing abilities and a discipline weapon's bonus is considered to be already included in the save DC. In the case you are allowed to substitute another ability score modifier for melee attacks or CMB, you may use that one instead of Strength for the purpose of determining the save DC.

A creature that has been locked may not voluntarily move from their current space without escaping the lock and airborne creatures locked do not fall. Freedom of movement and slip the bonds (both not properly italicized) prevent being locked. A lock may be ended as a free action and ends if a creature is no longer in reach. The initiator of the locked condition may move freely while locking a target and may drag creatures by moving at 1/2 speed, in relation to your position. Creatures thus dragged need to have a viable place - you can't drag them into or through solid objects, but you can drag them into dangerous terrain. The locked creature's movement, however, does not provoke AoOs and neither does the initiator's movement provoke AoOs from the locked creature. Creatures dragged into harmful locales may attempt a new save to escape the lock - on a success, they fall prone. Similarly, a locked creature may attempt a save on its turn as a move action/whenever it tries to move - that means 5-foot steps are potentially possible, but also expended on a failure - in either case, on a failure, the attempt is treated as having moved, preventing further 5-foot-steps for the target.

As a peculiarity, the Reflex save of the creature may alternatively employ their Strength modifier. Creatures that do not attempt to move may try to break free of a lock as a free action instead at the end of their turn. It should be noted that, unlike the last-second-save for being dragged into hazardous terrain, a regular saving throw to end the condition does not render the target prone. Finally, if the initiator becomes helpless, all creatures locked are released. In short: "Locked" is like a more swingy version of the drag maneuver that ignores creatures sizes - in fact, considering the sucky Ref-saves, but decent Strength-scores of many gigantic creatures, it does not immediately become a dragon slayer, while still retaining a chance for success.

All righty, those basics of the discipline out of the way, let's move forward and take a look at the maneuvers the Fool's Errand grants, shall we? The most basic strike, iron grip, would allow for an attack and lock attempt in combination; regarding stances, we have the Improved Unarmed Strike (or greater variety if you have it already) as well as substituting Climb for Acrobatics in the stance Lesson I: Balance. Lesson II: Control nets you the option to penalize locked foes and the counter lock step allows you to counter the attack of an incoming attack by a locked foe via a Climb check. One-Two Punch duplicates the two attacks for -2 to atk flurry as a standard action and there is a Climb check based option to throw targets up to 10 feet. The second level options include a boost for movement as a swift action within the threatened squares of a target and another boost, death at ten paces, nets your next melee attack, which must be single target, a range of 30 feet - while I personally think that this should still be treated as a ranged attack (it makes no sense to me that this does not apply the rules for firing into melee), I get the design decision. Lead and Follow is an AoO-lock attempt, initiated as an immediate action counter. Hurricane kick would be the kick that nets you temporary Fly - you know the iconic visual of the kicking, freeze-framed martial artist flying towards the foe? Yeah, that one.

At 2nd level, we also have a strike that combos weapon and unarmed strikes and ignores all hardness and DR - I have never been a fan of these, but there's precedence in Path of War and if you're using this system, DR and hardness don't matter much anyway, so yeah. At 3rd level, we have a combo of lock and entangling and Lesson III: Suppression represents a powerful stance: The first attack you execute each round is resolved as though the target is flat-footed and it also nets you a 1/round free action lock attempt. Countering melee attacks with Climb-based Disarms and the option to catch the enemy weapon can also be found here. Windmill Waltz Flurry nets you a weapon and two unarmed attacks with AoO-less 5-foot steps in between and full movement after resolving the attack, though this does provoke AoOs. 4th level yields the intriguing make them humble counter - which can be initiated to negate freedom of movement and similar effects, with the check based on ranks of Climb. Cool! Speaking of which - Night Falls is a strike that pins and silences those hit with its lock, helping infiltrators and providing versatility beyond numerical escalation.

The sincerest form of flattery is a potentially rather potent option that nets you a readied non-stance maneuver when used, though one that caps at what you could conceivably initiate. An upgrade to the throwing angle can also be found at level 4. The flurry angle is further upgraded at level 5 with a new strike. Cool: The stance Lesson IV: The Ladder lets you jump in sequence to the air, with Climb ranks acting as a non-cheesable limit. There also would be a counter that nets you a competing attack roll versus all incoming attacks for that round, negating them potentially. W whirlwind lock strike is also included for this level. At 6th level, we have a combo attack that locks a foe, drags it along and then follows up with a standard action attack or a strike. Lesson V: Expression is a stance that nets your unarmed attacks a range of 10 ft. with 5 range increments and also allows you to perform cone-based attacks - which are btw. explained in a helpful sidebox regarding their placement. Nice catch there. No Escape counters a foe's successful escape from your lock, either following up on it or flat-out negating it. We also get yet another flurry-style upgrade and one option to air-juggle foes with the boost To the Skies.

Throwing creatures by using Climb to surpass their CMD and combo-ing that with disarm/picking up weapons would be one of the level 7 option, whereas the boost Lightning Strikes Twice can be added after your attack - it then repeats last round's damage, haled, including any adverse conditions or the like, but with saves potentially applying. No, there's no save to resist this boost. Utter commitment nets a 30-foot cone and a bonus damage equal to 7 times initiator level, half that for those affected by the cone. The 8th level maneuvers provide the final upgrade for the flurry tree and the final stance, which nets a free lock attempt each round, another stance of 7th level or lower, AoO locks and better dragging/hostile creature movement negation. The level also provides the culmination of the throwing moves with sky-shattering throw, which allows for meteoric throws. The level 9 capstone can duplicate any 8th level or lower maneuver of a discipline you know one maneuver or stance for or a 7th level or lower maneuver or stance from a discipline you know no maneuver or stance from.

The pdf also contains archetypes, the first of which would be the contender brawler, who begins play with 3 maneuvers readied and known, 1 stance and increases that to 15 known, 7 readied and 5 stances. The archetype gets a maximum of level 6 maneuvers. His initiation modifier is Wisdom. He may choose Fool's Errand and two other disciplines of his choice. Readying maneuvers takes practice in the form of 10 minutes of exercise. Expended maneuvers are regained by using the ambush class feature or expending a standard action. The archetype loses knockout, awesome blow and 4 combat feats. Ambush lets the contender regain a maneuver whenever he successfully attacks or locks a foe denied his Dex-bonus. This may be done 1/round, plus an additional time per round at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The brawler may use martial flexibility to temporarily learn a new maneuver instead of a combat feat, exchanging it for a readied maneuver, but is limited in choice to disciplines he knows at least one maneuver of. Instead of brawler's flurry, the archetype gains point of concentration, which nets the option to lock adjacent foes hit with melee attacks 1/round, increasing that by +1/round at 8th and 15th level. The brawler may forego his movement to instead move all creatures he has locked for the distance they could have been moved via him dragging them. Maneuver training may be applied, bonus-wise, to lock-save DCs.

The second archetype herein would be the Night Terror vigilante, who, discipline-wise, gets Eternal Guardian, Fool's Errand, Tempest Gale and Veiled Moon, using Charisma as initiation modifier. The night terror features the same maneuver progression as the contender and has the same readying mechanic. However, recovering maneuvers works differently: As a full-round action, he makes A Stealth skill check while being observed to hide and move up to his speed. This recovers initiation modifier, minimum 2, maneuvers. Movement thus taken is not reduced by dragging locked creatures, and neither does the night terror take a Stealth penalty. Alternatively, we have the standard action for one maneuver default. Night terrors are locked into the stalker specialization and they increase hidden strike's potency to 1d8, increasing that by a further +1d8 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This bonus damage may be foregone in favor of a lock attempt, with a bonus to the DC equal to hidden strike damage dice. Such an attempt is still treated as a successful use of hidden strike for ability interaction purposes.

First level night terrors become proficient with improvised weapons and treat them as unarmed strikes for the purpose of amulet of mighty fists interaction (item not properly italicized). Starting at 8th level, the night terror may use such pieces of environment to perform attacks sans wielding them and 15th level increases the option to make attacks with unattended objects to 30 feet, treating these as thrown weapons, but sans the shooting into melee penalties. He still needs, thankfully, line of effect to object and target. The night terror may select Combat Skill, Fist of the Avenger, Heavy Training, Unkillable and Nothing Can Stop Me avenger talents and may choose Discipline Focus, Stalker Arts or learn to perform potentially unnoticed attacks, access to Mithral Current, the option to lock targets and pin them to the wall, silent takedowns or pinning foes to walls....Yeah, you probably noticed it, right?? This is basically Batman, the archetype, done via Path of War's rules!

The pdf also contains 5 new feats, three of which would be devoted to the Fool's Errand Style: The base Style feat lets you substitute entangled or sickened for your attack against a locked target, while Fool's Errand Scholar provides wildcard feats, taking limited resource feats into account. Nice. The third one, Fool's Errand Sensei provide the options to temporarily buff your AC or kip up via the expenditure of readied boosts or counters, respectively. Quicksilver Grip represents a discipline crossover feat for Fool's Errand and Mithral Current, providing the option to sheathe the weapon when hitting foes and adding the option to threaten locked foes with sheathed weapons and the option to draw as part of AoOs. SU Mithral Current maneuvers also becomes EX. Vortex Rush would then be the Elemental Flux & Fool's Errand crossover feat, which lets you and targets you force to move leave a trail of elemental energy that that causes initiation modifier energy damage of the associated energy of the element, but only once per creature and action and each trail is considered part of the one trail. Still, pretty cool!

The pdf closes with a brief write-up of the eponymous fellowship of fools, sticking it to magicians and psionics alike with martial potency.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-level, with the formal level sporting a few minor formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. Artwork is nice and full-color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Forrest Heck knows her math and rules-language. I have yet to read any pdf she created that was anything short of thoroughly impressive in these regards and this is no different. Fool's Errand's "locked" condition is something I'd expect to be set up for failure: Introducing new conditions is a bad idea in 99.9999% of cases. The interaction with spells etc. makes sense, though avoiding the whole CMD-mechanic (and thus means for other classes to avoid it) can be seen as problematic. The Str-to-Reflex mechanics do somewhat alleviate that, though not completely, as they necessitate a on the fly calculation not there in other contexts. Similarly, class features and the like that fortify against forced movement do nothing against being locked and dragged around. Where you like that or not remains a matter of taste.

On the plus-side, Fool's Errand ties in exceedingly well with the play-style and aesthetics of non-stop action Path of War employs and, in fact, to me is one of the coolest disciplines that came out of the system. It's no secret that I have a plethora of points wherein I completely disagree with the design decisions, power level and ramifications of the system, but that does not mean that I condemn it. Quite the contrary. While I wholeheartedly wished that the system was balanced with more conservative, non-Path of War options, I most certainly appreciate the design of the ideas and playstyle the respective options and disciplines generate. I am mentioning this in spite of the blowback this probably will once again create, mainly due to one thing:

No matter how you stand on the divisive system, from a design point of view, Fool's Errand is one magnificent beast and has a remarkable engine and flow.

The discipline may not look like it on paper, but actually playing it generates a flow of movement and assaults, quick sequences of stabs topped off by brutal blows, maneuverability and an overall aesthetic that makes me grin from ear to ear, as it manages to simulate perfectly the wire-fu WuXia movies I so love. To me, this is what Broken Blade should have been. It is elegant finesse and power, dragging foes through tree-tops while trading blows, and is surprisingly non-reliant on vanilla damage escalation.

Now yes, all of my usual complaints regarding the base system are there - obviously. This expansion requires embracing Path of War's playstyle, still is utterly incompatible with gritty fantasy and will not convert anyone. If you hated Path of War so far, this will not change that - it can't, being an expansion. If you like Path of War, however, you will absolutely adore this discipline. It plays well with others, has a ton of combo potential and diverse tricks, provides much needed versatility (breadth of options rather than depth) and represents one of my favorites in the whole system.

The neat archetypes are just icing on the cake and yes, I'm totally redesigning the Batman archetype for my grittier games. In short: This is an excellent addition to the Path of War-options. The craftsmanship is excellent and manages to make a concept work that could have been clunky and highly problematic in a lesser designer's hands. As always, we also receive an impressive high-concept touch of artistry herein, rendering the overall pdf a must-own for every fan of Path of War. Since I really adore the flow of the discipline, my verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the few formatting hiccups - for Path of War-fans, this is a no-brainer must-have addition to the game.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Divergent Paths: Fools Errand
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Divergent Paths: Medic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/02/2017 03:16:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press' Divergent Paths-series, which provides new options for the Path of War subsystem, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As always regarding Path of War supplements, please understand this review as written with the caveat that this represents a serious power-upgrade over regular Pathfinder gaming, championing a playstyle that is distinctly high-fantasy and geared towards a higher level of PC power. As such, I will not try to judge this for its balance with core Pathfinder, but for its interaction with the Path of War rules. In case you're new to the series: This series is not made for gritty, old-school play-styles.

Okay, that out of the way, let's look at the class! The medic uses Wisdom as the governing key-attribute for their maneuvers and receives d8 HD as well as 4 + Int skills per level. The class gains proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The class has a 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. Maneuver-wise, we begin with 5 known maneuvers, increasing that up to 16 are 20th level; 3 can be readied at 1st level, increasing up to 10 and finally, we begin with one stance known and increase that up to 7 at 20th level. Regarding disciplines available, the medic may choose Broken Blade, Iron Tortoise, Golden Lion, Steel Serpent and Tempest Gale - all in all, a fitting selection, when bearing the role of the class in mind.

Medics begin combat with all readied maneuvers unexpended. In order to recover maneuvers, the medic expends a full-round action to reassure allies of her presence - this lets her regain medic initiation modifier (minimum 2) expended maneuvers and also grants all allies within 30 feet, including the medic 3 times the medic's initiator level as temporary hit points as well as a bonus equal to her initiator level to Fortitude saves - the latter for one round, the former last for 1 minute. It should be noted that these temporary hit points stack with those gained from other sources, but not with themselves. Alternatively, the medic may extend a standard action to regain one maneuver.

The medic may, as a free action, assess the health of all allies present once per round, including poisons and diseases etc. and may, with a Heal check based on 10 + CR, also assess the health of every single foe present to do the same there. A crucial aspect of the class and perhaps the signature ability would be triage. At 1st level, this can be used as a swift action. Triage lets the medic move up to her movement speed, as long as she ends her movement adjacent to an ally. Said ally is healed by 3 times the medic's initiator level hit points. This increases to 4 times her initiator level at 7th level, 5 times initiator level at 14th level. This ability can be used 3/encounter (remember Path of War has defined that as a concise time-frame), plus an additional time per encounter at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Alternatively, triage can be used as a full-round action, expending two of its uses: When the medic does so, she may move up to twice her speed, the movement ignores difficult terrain (also damaging terrain?) and provokes no attacks of opportunity. Any ally that is adjacent to the medic at any point during that movement is healed for the medic's triage's amount. The swift use of triage allows the medic to add one medic's expertise to the healed character, the full-round version allows for the addition of up to class level expertises to each ally healed. However, each ally can only benefit once per use from a given triage. Additionally, it should be mentioned that full-round maneuver regaining also nets you an additional use of triage if you have none left. (As a nitpick, a "see page X" can be found in the ability text.)

So, what are these medic's expertises? Well, they are basically talents, many of which modify the triage class feature - these are denoted by asterisks for your convenience. The medic begins play with 2 of them at 1st level and gains another one at every even-numbered level thereafter. Unless I have miscounted, a total of 21 are included in the deal. These run the gamut you'd expect them to, considering the theme of the class and the wording of triage - one lets you negate automatically one AoO made against her during triage; one adds a free aid another as part of triage. (Another one increases the bonus granted.)

Healing herself as part of full-round triage can be found, as can be the option to neutralize poisons and gaining poison and nonmagical disease immunity - both of which are locked behind 8th level. Starting at 10th level, medics can use long term care to reapply severed limbs. One option also nets combat feats (and can be taken multiple times). Poison use (with the option to delay the onset of those affected by triage) can also be found. Increased movement when using triage is very potent, as is the option to end adverse conditions (first fatigued, sickened, staggered and shaken, then, with the follow-up expertise that is unlocked at 6th level, also blinded, dazed, deafened, exhausted, frightened, nauseated, paralyzed and stunned). I think "without moving" would have been a good addition here: "When the medic successfully hits with a strike, she may spend a triage as a swift action to heal an ally within 30 feet. This use of triage only heals 1/2 the normal amount of damage." - it also makes the extraordinary triage ability feel more supernatural, as far as I'm concerned, but yeah. An interesting and potent 10th level expertise lets the medic move up to her speed when using triage on herself, all sans provoking AoOs. Alternatively, the right expertise lets the medic heal up to initiation modifier attribute damage instead of hit point damage. Removing curses and diseases can also be unlocked (as a nitpick - both spell references have not been italicized) and there is a damage boost to follow up on triages.

Starting at 2nd level, the medic's treat deadly wounds recovers hit points and attribute damage as though the subject had rested for a full day and the medic doesn't need a healer's kit to do so. Starting at 6th level, the medic can treat deadly wounds or provide long-term care for up to initiation modifier creatures at once Additionally, creatures treated for deadly wounds regain hit points as though the had rested a full day with long-term care. At 11th level, creatures thus treated regain hit points and ability damage as if they had rested 3 days.

At 3rd level, the class gains Cura Te Ipsum - when they initiate a strike, they gain +1 to Ref- and Will-saves until the next turn, which increases by a further +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

5th level allows the medic to add to medic's expertises to any Triage, with 10th and 15th level increasing that by a further +1. At 6th level, the medic may 1/day initiate a counter as a free action, but it must be used to protect an ally within 30 feet, who is then treated as though they had initiated the counter in question, using the medic's stats for variables. The ability may be used an additional time per day at 12th and 18th level, but not more often than once per round. Starting at 9th level, the medic gains a breath of life-like use of triage, allowing them to stabilize/return fallen comrades from death, provided they have perished within one round. Starting at 14th level, we get 1/week raise dead and 17th level yields a 1/month true resurrection. The capstone allows for the addition of any number of expertises to the triage ability.

The pdf also provides favored class options for the core races, dhampir, hobgoblin, orc, tiefling, half-giant, maenad, ophiduan, alicorn, dreige and wulfkin races. Archetype-wise, we start with the ambu-lancer, who gains ride as a class skill and replaces Tempest gale with Piercing Thunder. Instead of the medic's first level expertise, the archetype gains a mount as an animal companion and the second expertise is exchanged for Mounted Combat. Instead of the mount's share spells feature, the mount may, from 1st level on, supply the movement component required by some maneuvers. Similarly, the mount may supply the movement for triage. At 4th level, the ambu-lancer generates an light-shedding siren that emits an ear-piercing screech while mounted. The effect may be suppressed, but while it's active, she gains Improved Overrun when using triage and creatures avoiding her may not execute AoOs against her. Hilarious visuals there. This replaces 4th level's additional triage use. At 6th level, the ambu-lancer may pull allies affected by triage atop the mount, also potentially shielding them via Mounted Combat. This replaces that level's additional triage use.

The angel of mercy loses Broken Blade in favor of Silver Crane and replaces one first level medic's expertises with resistance to acid and cold 5. At 8th level, fire and electricity resistance 5 is gained. Instead of 6th level's expertise, the angel emits a continuous 20-ft.-radius protection from evil (not italicized properly). At 10th level, whenever the angel initiates a strike that heals damage, all allies within 30 ft. gain the medic's initiator level as temporary hit points. This replaces improved triage. St 12th level, the angel can grown wings for 1 minute per class level with good maneuverability, replacing that level's expertise.

Next up would be the Sanguinist, who replaces one expertise at 1st level with Improved Unarmed Strike and its Greater brother at 3rd level, using medic level instead of BAB to calculate base damage. 1st level provides blood transfusion - whenever the sanguinist deals lethal damage with unarmed or natural attacks, they inflict an additional initiation modifier damage, gaining an equal amount of points for the blood reservoir. It should be noted that the archetype has a REALLY nice kitten-caveat. Now, this blood reserve is used as the resource from which healing for allies is drawn - instead of a fixed amount, any number of hit points from the pool may be healed. Instead of Cura Te Ipsum, +1 to atk and damage with natural or unarmed attacks are gained, with a similar increase in potency. Instead of the 4th level's expertise, the archetype becomes immune to all poisons and diseases and may absorb them via triage and then store these in the blood reserve. These stored afflictions may then be inflicted upon foes via triage or blood infusion. A total of initiation modifier such poisons and diseases may be stored. 20th level increases the drained hit points from target of unarmed strikes by +50%.

The final archetype would be the witch doctor, who gains Spellcraft and UMD as class skills and uses Wisdom as key ability modifier for both. The archetype loses triage and instead begins play with a level 1 wand of cure light wounds that has similar restriction s a gunslinger's starting gun. Similar to triage, the archetype may move up to her movement 3/encounter as a swift action, ending movement adjacent to an ally ad use a spell completion or spell trigger item with the healing descriptor (or from her spell list) on the ally. Use on self prohibits movement. Additional uses per encounter are gained at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Instead of the two medic's expertises, the archetype gains Scribe Scroll at 1st level, and Craft Wand at 5th level, using initiator level as a substitute caster level. The witch doctor is considered to have her own spell-list, which encompasses all spells with the healing descriptor as well as a small list for the purpose of item manufacture. This replaces 8 expertises as well as the returning-from-death-ability-suite. Starting at 6th level, the archetype treats the CL of spells from said list via wands etc. as being equal to the initiator level as well as the benefits of a free Empower Spell. As a capstone, the benefits of a free Maximize Spell are added as well.

The pdf also contains 9 new feats: These include an extra guardian of life ability use per day, an extra expertise and more: One feat nets you a free action shield don and, while in Mithral Current, a free 5-foot step when shield bashing or using a shield-reliant counter. First Aid Training net a creature benefiting from your Heal check your Wisdom modifier + Heal ranks as temporary hit points. Gugnir Technique is pretty cool, relying on Piercing Thunder and Silver Crane: When in a Silver Crane stance, you may use a polearm as though it was a ghost touch weapon and may target possessing entities sans affecting the possessed creature. There are more such discipline-crossover feats for penalized foes or temporary DR. Healer's Mercy lets you substitute Heal checks for coup-de-graces and also suppress regeneration for the duration. Plague Doctor provides bonuses to those treated against subsequent infections.

The pdf closes with 4 magic items: incense of convalescence lets the user inhale it in doses of 2, ignoring 2, 4 or 6 points of attribute damage, drain or penalties for up to 24 hours - cost: 750 gp. The plaster of recuperation is basically the same for physical attribute damage. Refinement charms can be added to e.g. a necklace of many charms (see Steelforge Book I) for +2 on Heal checks to treat poison or diseases or for +1 hit point healed via long term care use of the Heal skill. For 2K, power charms can also be added to such an item, but take up three of its slots. These include +1 hit point healed per medic initiator level, +1 guardian of life ability use per day, increasing Cura Te Ipsum's save bonus by +1 or + 1 effective CL or ML for effects that return dead creatures to life.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-level; on a formal level, there are a few minor hiccups like missed italicizations and the like. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration. Both are fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Anthony S. Altovilla provides the logical continuation of the Path of War system and design aesthetic. After delimiting AoE damage, magical effects and the like, the medic now does the same for similar means of attrition, allowing for infinite healing (though it is slower than that based on limited resources) of several negative conditions and afflictions, so if you used these methods to keep your Path of War characters "in check", then you may want to think twice about this. This is pretty much intended for the groups that employ the system in the playstyle heavily implied by the design, not for those groups that use the system with "buts" or "howevers." In short - this won't end any of the criticisms towards the system and retains its divisive nature; perhaps, for some it may be the escalation, while for others, it will be hailed as the fulfillment.

That being said, if you've read this review until this point, chances are you may be a fan of Path of War and if you are, then rejoice, for this book, in a way, completes the aesthetics of the system, catapulting the healing aspects, mostly limited up to this point, to a level more in line with the system. The ignoring of difficult terrain of the medic and the swift action triage mean that you'll be healing "on the fly" while still executing kick-ass martial moves, which makes the medic play like a powerful support martial artist and not like a heal bot. The class works as intended and rather smoothly. You'll be dishing out damage and healing all at once and the class, as such, works well in conjunction with the other Path of War classes. The magic items also emphasize this non-stop action aspect, blowing the effects of lesser restoration out of the water with an increased utility and potency geared more towards the constant action of Path of War's playstyle.

The decision's easy at this point: Do you like Path of War and how its power-level plays at your table? Then chances are very high that you'll also love the medic - the class and its supplemental material is professionally designed for this play-style. Now personally, at this point, there is one thing I'd like to see from DSP: A full, dedicated AP that is specifically designed to provide a challenge for Path of War characters. The roster is complete, so only the modules are missing, as far as I'm concerned, but that just as an aside.

How to rate this, then? Well, as mentioned before in my reviews for the system and its expansions, if you're into gritty or low-powered playstyles and resource-management, then don't touch this with a 10-foot pole. If you enjoy the play-style and love the powerful PCs it generates, then consider this to be a must-own continuation of the direction of the design. Since it makes absolutely zero sense to try to rate this according to non-Path of War aesthetics, my final verdict will reflect this file's usefulness for the system and those of you who enjoy it - and you'll love this. For you, this is a 5 stars file.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Divergent Paths: Medic
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Monster Classes: Harpy, Imp, Medusa
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2017 04:03:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Monster Classes-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It's Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of "Play monsters"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let's not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren't really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn't work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

We begin with the harpy base class, who receives +2 Str and Wis, -4 Int, are medium monstrous humanoids and a 20 ft. base speed. They have darkvision 60 ft. and a natural AC +1.

The racial paragon class covers 7 levels and receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor, morningstar and simple weapons, good BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class begins play with 1d4 damage inflicting talons (properly codified as a primary natural attack) that increase in potency to 1d6 at 4th level. 2nd level provides the gliding wings that increase in power to gain a fly speed of 60 ft. with average maneuverability, increasing the speed to 80 ft. at 7th level, with encumbrance/armor/etc. reducing the fly speed. Kudos for getting the flying progression right and universally balanced! 2nd level provides a +2 bonus to Bluff and Stealth, increasing that bonus to +4 at 5h level.

At 3rd level, the class learns the captivating song, with the DC governed by 1/2 HD and Cha-mod and a once/24 hours hex-caveat, with its reach beginning at a humble 10 ft., increasing that to 20 ft, at 4th level, then to 50 ft., 100 ft. and 300 ft. Attribute-gain-wise, the class nets +4 Dex and +6 Cha for a total of 10 gain...and guess what. While I would have loved less focus on Cha...I don't have an issue with this monster class. I actually like it. Kudos!!

After that, imps would be up next: Imps receive +2 Dex and Int, are Tiny evil and lawful outsiders, have a slow speed, darkvision 60 ft., fire resistance 10 and immunity to poison. They also gain +1 natural AC. The monster class covers three levels and sports full BAB-progression, good Ref. and Will-saves, d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons. At 1st level, the imp may assume beast shape I (not properly italicized) to assume raven or rat form, with 2nd level unlocking the shapes of a boar and giant spider. 1st level also nets cold and acid resistance 5 that increase to 10 at 3rd level. At first level, the imp receives a primary natural sting - as a nitpick, the racial traits list the reach of the tail as 5 ft., while the attack is a sting. As a Tiny creature, the imp very much needs the wings that grant a fly speed of 15 ft., increasing to 30 ft. and 50 ft. over the progression of the class. The SPs of the creature increase from 3/day detect good and detect magic to constants at higher levels, with 2nd level adding 1/day augury and at-will, self-only invisibility at 3rd level...which makes me really wish the class was a bit longer.2nd level nets see in darkness and 3rd level has DR 5/good or silver, fast healing and immunity to fire as well as poison.

Attribute-gain-wise, the imp receives +4 Dex, +2 Wis and +4 Cha, for a total net-gain of 10. The imp class, while suffering from the big Tiny drawback, feels like it could have used 2 levels more for a wider dispersal of options - with all jammed into 3 levels, it feels busy and the lack of a non-sting attack option with reach hurts and shoehorns the race in a role. Not perfect.

The third monster race herein is, surprise, the medusa, who is a monstrous humanoid with +2 Dex and Int, darkvision 60 ft. and +2 to Perception. The racial paragon class covers 8 levels and receives d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons +longbow and shortbow. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. The medusa begins play with one primary snake bite attack at 1d4, properly codified. 2nd level nets +1 natural armor, +1 at 5th and 8th level. 3rd level yields all-around vision and 4th level yields poison. 6th level provides the signature petrifying gaze that needs to be directed at a full-round action with a range of 30 ft., with 8th level constantly affecting all creatures within 30 ft. The save DC, in an example for a slight inconsistency in the series scales based on 1/2 class levels + Cha-mod, not using HD - I'm not complaining there, mind you; I think it's smart to cap the DC there! Attribute-gain-wise, the medusa receives +2 Dex, +8 Con, +2 Wis, +4 Cha for a net-gain of 16 points. With which I am okay, particularly since the gain does not pertain the most abuse-prone stats.

Beyond these, the pdf contains several feats for better talon attacks, 1/week commune, better harpy-songs, etc. -a solid mix. As always, we conclude with a glossary of subtypes etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a rules-language level, but on a formal level, there are a couple of series oversights - from excess bullet-points to layout being less easy to read regarding table-placement etc. and the missing italicizations, the pdf feels a bit rushed in that regard. Layout adheres to DSP's solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with solid full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. The pdf does come with a second, more printer-friendly version.

Jeffrey Swank's latest monster class-supplement is actually better than most; while usually, I have to look no further than the total of the attribute-bonuses to see problems, but here, the series actually presents two valid paragon classes that gain attributes, etc. - yes...but do that pretty well and balance the gains and ability-progressions versus one another. The imp is the weakest one of the options, still very much hampered by its size and the too tightly compressed ability gain; Still, this leaves me, for the most part, actually liking this pdf. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Harpy, Imp, Medusa
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Monster Classes: Sand and Spirit
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:02:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, slightly more than 1 page of glossary, leaving us with ~12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It's Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of "Play monsters"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let's not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren't really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn't work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

We begin with the janni, which are native outsiders with darkvision, a natural armor bonus of +1 and +2 Strength and Intelligence. The racial class spans 6 levels, gets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a total attribute gain of +6 Str, +4 Dex, +2 Int, +2 Cha, +4 Wis, for a net gain of 18 points. The class nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors. Janni may only remain on the elemental planes for 48 hours before taking damage, 1 per hour - while I am aware that this is a reproduction of the janni's special ability, I still wished it had been modified. 2nd level nets fire resistance 5, which upgrades to 10 at 5th level. Spell-like ability-wise, 1st level nets 3/day speak with animals, 2nd provides create food and water 1/day, 3rd nets 1/day invisibility (which upgrades to 3/day at 4th level) and 6th level nets ethereal jaunt 1/day and 3/day plane shift to material, astral and elemental planes only. 2nd level nets telepathy 30 ft., which is upgraded to 50 ft and 100 ft at 4th and 6th level, respectively. 3rd level nets Improved Initiative and 4th level nets 20 ft. perfect maneuverability fly speed, which is early, but not unduly so - no complaint here. I do, however, complain about change size: Its referred spells are not italicized and the text contradicts the table: The text notes 4th level, while the table unlocks it at 3rd. The ability can be used an additional time per day at 6th level.

All in all, one of the better entries in the series, in spite of the hiccups that still haunt it. However, while the pdf predated it, the superior "In the Company of Genies" has since then been released...which kinda takes away the main case I could make for this race, as Rite Publishing's book is vastly superior in details, how easy you can integrate it into your game...etc.

The second class herein would be the mummy, who receives +2 Str, -4 Int, is undead, has darkvision 60 ft., +2 natural AC and vulnerability to fire. The monster class spans 8 levels and nets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and begins at 1st level with a 1d4 slam attack that improves its base damage to 1d6 and 1d8 at 4th and 8th level. The natural armor bonus increases by +2 at every odd level. 2nd level nets DR 1/-, which increases to DR 3/- and DR 5/- at 4th and 6th level. 3rd level unlocks despair, which has a 10-ft.-reach and renders the target shaken the target on a failed save. This increases to 20 ft. and allows for an alternate paralysis effect for 1 round. This paralysis is increased to 1d4 rounds at 7th level, which also extends the aura farther, to 30 ft. THANKFULLY, the aura has a once-in-24-hours-caveat akin to hexes, which prevents it from being horribly broken and reduces it to being strong, but manageable. 8th level unlocks the signature mummy rot. Attribute-gain-wise, the mummy receives +12 Str (!!!), +2 Wis, +4 Cha, making it very lopsided. Odd: The reduced movement rate of the mummy is not represented by the race. As a whole: Not a fan.

Next up would be the rakshasa, who receives +2 Dex and Int, is a native outsider shapechanger, has a fast speed of 40 feet, darkvision, +2 to Disguise and Bluff, +1 natural armor.

The racial class spans 10 levels, nets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, good Ref- and Will-saves, full BAB-progression, proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The class gets 1d4 claws at 1st level, a secondary 1d6 bite at 2nd level and begins play with SR equal to 10 + HD, increasing that to 15 + HD at 5th level. At first level, we get 1/day change shape (spell-reference not italicized, with similar cases in the table). At 2nd level, 5th and 8th, the racial bonus to Disguise increases by +2 and 8th level adds +2 to Bluff. 4th level nets 1/day detect thoughts, +1/day for every level thereafter, with 9th level making that at-will. 5th level nets DR 5/good and piercing, which increases by +5 at 7th and 10th level. Spellcasting as a sorceror at minus 3 class levels is unlocked at 4th level.

Attribute-gain-wise, the rakshasa receives +6 Str, +8 Dex, +12 Con, +2 Wis, +6 Cha, for a total of 34 attribute points gained. I could go on picking this apart, but the monster class has the unpleasant task of going up against the SUPERB, stellar "In the Company of Rakshasa", which not only has the better balance, it also has culture galore, more detailed class options and manages to hit the flavor of rakshasa, their decadence and hunger, infinitely better. If you want to play a rakshasa, get that book instead. It's one of the best racial books for a playable monster I have ever read.

The final creature within this pdf would be the sentient flesh golem, who receives +2 Str and Dex, -5 Cha, is a construct with darkvision and 30 feet. Full construct immunities (minus mind-affecting: They can be hit by that at least.) at 1st level. And there goes the utility for pretty much all but the most high-powered of campaigns. 20 bonus hit points for being Medium. Yeah...I can see campaigns making that work...but it's nowhere near something I'd recommend. Beyond that, they get low-light vision as well as +2 natural AC.

The 9-level monster class nets +2 natural AC at 1st level, increasing that by a further +2 at every odd level thereafter for a total of +12 and begins play with a 1d4 slam attack that is increased to 1d6 at 4th, 2d6 at 7th and 2d8 at 9th level. They begin play with SR equal to 10 + HD and at 2nd level, gain DR 1/adamantine, which increases to 5/adamantine and 10/adamantine and 6th and 8th level. 4th level nets a size-increase to Large and 9th level unlocks magic immunity. Attribute-gain-wise, the class only receives +8 Str...but considering the immunities...that's good. Still, Fat Goblin Games' Player's Guide to Vathak has a significantly less problematic flesh golem-player-race.

The pdf also sports a total of 12 feats for the races here, some of which are very much cool: Rage of the Machine, for example, 17day prevents the construct's destruction when reduced to 0 hp, instead making it go berserk at 1 HP and cannot be destroyed by hit point damage. Similarly, being able to smash traps rather than disarm them is a cool idea. 1st level-only aquatic mummies, flight tricks...pretty cool stuff here, though e.g. using Int or Cha for Fort-saves isn't something I enjoy. gaining a hope aura instead of despair is interesting, as is the ability to ritualistically make a curse trap. Annoying: Spell-references are not italicized here either. The pdf concludes with a glossary.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the pdf sports both unnecessary glitches and a couple of annoying formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf has some bookmarks. The artwork is nice this time around.

Jeffrey Swank's Monster Classes covering these roughly desert-themed beings are...decent? The janni is okay, if not too exciting - and as per the writing of this, "In the Company of Genies" has hit sites...so they may actually be considered to be redundant as well. The golem is at the same time OP and fragile as all hell, basically requiring the very strong Rage-feat...which can result in weird low-level encounters: Throw the golem in the room, nothing can kill it, it kills everything, repeat the next day. I like the idea here, but I think the execution is flawed. The mummy is front-end heavy...and the rakshasa is just redundant in any world where Rite Publishing's superior "In the Company of Rakshasa" exists. Similarly, the "Player's Guide to Vathak "covers the golem-angle better...and I've seen better balanced undead PC races by the dozen. Which leaves me in an odd place. This is not by any means the worst installment in the series, but I can't really figure out a reason to get it. I tried hard to like anything herein and only partially succeeded. If you have a less pronounced library of amazing races than I do, you may get something out of this, I wager...but considering the context, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Sand and Spirit
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Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2017 04:41:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Psionics Augmented-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages f content, so let's take a look!

Psicrystals have always been a crucial, distinct feature of the psionics system as far as I'm concerned; the idea of taking a part of one's personality, extracting it and having it float along as an externalized component of a facet of your personality has pretty much been roleplaying gold, as far as I'm concerned. Thus, the introduction of this pdf's content, which talks about the different types of psicrystals, how they're created and the interaction with them, at least to me, represented a tantalizing reading experience. This section also deals explicitly with the details of repairing psicrystals and provides an expansion for Psicrystal Affinity: For the purpose of this feat, all feats that depend on it and all abilities that stem from it, all psionic class levels are treated as manifester levels - this, among other things, makes psicrystals relevant for a whole new cadre of psionic classes. Building on Psicrystal Affinity, there is a new feat herein that represents a gateway to an array of new tricks, namely Superior Psicrystal - the type of option I am talking about would be the attuned psicrystal.

Provided a character has the feat and 5th level, the psicrystal gains significant additional benefits that depend on the class chosen: Psychic Warriors receive better natural AC and more hit points for their crystals, Wilder psicrystals can absorb the negative effects of psychic enervation, with scaling daily uses. Kineticist psions (not the base class, the psychokinesis specialists!) gain free augmentation power points when channeled through the crystal, rewarding the teamwork-use; telepaths can, for example, borrow the sighted ability. Marksmen may use their psicrystals to negate Dex-bonuses to AC or even evasion, while soulknives may attack through the psicrystal and e.g. dread or cryptic may have their psicrystal employ their own tricks. Finally, the collective-generating classes receive appropriate bonuses for the inclusion of the psicrystal - all of these powerful benefits, mind you, are balanced via scaling daily uses and some are pretty complex rules-operations, in spite of the deceptive brevity of the material - so yeah, impressive.

The pdf goes on, however - there is another type of psicrystal included here, the cognizance psicrystal, which is also unlocked via Superior Psicrystal. And yes, before you're asking - these manifestations of the psicrystal feat are mutually exclusive. Cognizance psicrystals can store power points; the master can store these as a move action, reclaim them as a free action; these stored power points can be used to fuel manifestations.

There is a third option unlocked via the feat would be the merging ritual which allows the psionic character to merge the psicrystal with animals etc., creating a familiar-like crystallized creature: This creature behaves like a psicrystal sans the sighted and self-propulsion abilities; the amalgam has the higher Intelligence score between psicrystal and the creature's Intelligence, with unintelligent base forms treat their Intelligence as 1 instead. While the base creature thus uses the base form of the animal companion, the psicrystal-infused creature does not require Handle Animal. The base level of the psionic determines btw. the base forms available and the respective implanted psicrystal has its own little table of gained abilities.

Another option would be the empowered psicrystal - this option nets a +2 bonus to Intelligence and a doubled range for sighted, telepathic speech and sight link ranges. Beyond these, they get to choose psi-like abilities.

There is also the weapon psicrystal - and yes, the rules are concise and once again feature their own table. As an aside: I LOVE this option. My player's favorite legendary weapon I designed for my games was "The Blade of Shards", a blade of fragmented minds of psicrystals whose owners had become insane; in order to wield the weapon, one had to accept that one sooner or later would join the cacophonous choir or bloodthirsty mind-fragments contained in the blade. It could generate storms of razor-sharp crystals, extend...etc. I had to build that weapon from scratch back in the day, whereas here, we have a balanced, more subdued engine that makes for a great base-line for such designs, though obviously, the focus here is more on making an intelligent blade that shares part of your personality.

Beyond all of these options, we also receive a plethora of new feats herein, which interact smoothly with the new options and build upon them Cortex Strike allows, for example, to add sneak attack damage to psionic weapon when used in conjunction with the psionic weapon version of Superior Psicrystal. Yes, there is an Improved follow-up feat - which converts the damage to psychic damage, being usually one of those damn make-believe damage types I harp on about...but considering the steep feat-investment and the fact that it converts sneak attack, an often subpar damage-option, makes me actually okay with it, just this once. ;)

Flexible Personality is a true gem, not only for benefit-purposes, but also for RPG-purposes - 1/day, as a standard action, you can change your psicrystal's personality, which makes all kinds of sense to me and can be absolute roleplaying gold. Of course, enhancers for aforementioned Psi-like abilities of the empowered version. The option to allows a psicrystal to refocus as long as you still have power points increases their utility and flexibility as well. Focusing weapons for reducing critters to 0 Hp can potentially be cheesed in a ridiculous scenario based on iterative attacks slaying kittens, but the scenario is so out there and limited in its effectiveness, not even I want to really complain there. Combining Cleave with Psionic Weapon's focus expenditure is interesting - as is the option to forego regular damage and sneak attack damage when attacking with a psicrystal weapon to instead inflict Strength damage...sounds cheap? Well, it kinda is, but the required expenditure of psionic focus imposes a sufficient tax on the option...as does the array of prerequisites required to take the feat. Also really cool - psicrystals that may shed their body analogue to the uncarnate class feature.

The pdf also provides two new psionic powers: Autorecall lets you immediately recall your psicrystal , with an augment for immediate action recalls as well, allowing for some amazing tactics, even before the option to get a kind of contingency-like recall for the crystal. Hide Psicrystal is actually more flavorful than you'd think - it's not simply a cloaking power, it fuses the crystal with your body.Aegis gain a new 1 point customization and soulknives a new blade skill for use with the psicrystal options herein and, very, very cool and seriously overdue: We close with a nice, complex and greatly expanded list of psicrystal personalities. Kudos indeed!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from stuff like its/it's or an inconsistent formatting of psicrystal abilities (sometimes italicized, sometimes not). Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fulyl bookmarked for your convenience as well as with a nice, more printer-friendly second version. The pdf sports a nice full-color artwork as well.

Andreas Rönnqvist seems to effortlessly put his boot down in this pdf and squashes any doubt regarding his capabilities; one of the original masterminds behind DSP's psionics, he creates a pdf that looks pretty humble at first glance. But only at first glance - oh boy, does this deliver!

The options for the new psicrystal variants in this pdf are incredibly diverse and allow for a ton of customization, sure - but they don't scream loud in your face what you should do with them. Instead, this pdf takes a bit of time to simmer, a bit of contemplation, until you realize that vast amount of amazing stuff you can do with this. Taking one crucial, yet neglected component of psionics and expanding its identity to this extent is amazing. Doing so while retaining balance of the options presented is glorious. From the gem-possessed animal to the intelligent blade, this book represents a cornucopia of not only viable rollplaying options, but also pure ROLEplaying gold, extending psionic concepts in an impressive manner.

Instead of throwing archetypes at s, we receive a smooth and yet complex extension of the base psicrystal rules that add a whole new, amazing dimension to them. I not only love this pdf, I consider it also to be the very first psionics augmented book that is, without a doubt, a must-own addition for everyone using Ultimate Psionics. Class does not matter, neither does race; no matter whether your game is high-powered or low-powered, this pdf feels like an organic extension of Ultimate Psionics. It will not break low-powered, gritty games and it will have sufficient oomph and impact for the high-powered ones. In short: This is a little masterpiece and an absolute must-buy for all fans of psionics. 5 stars + seal of approval...and for campaigns with psionics, this is essential...hence, this receives my EZG Essential-tag and also is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. Best expansion you can currently buy for psionics, with only the glorious Living Legend and Mind and Soul coming close, and these two are more specific in their appeal, focusing on archetypes. In short: Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
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