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Mini-Dungeon IWG03: The Jotunn Encampment
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2016 15:31:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintery Gale"-saga.


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


The adventure assumes that the adventurers have returned to Völfsheimr with Jarl Vornig's artifacts - in their absence, a scouting party has discovered an encampment of Jötunn-kin in an abandonned Vikmordere fortress - the encampment needs to be neutralized. Enter the PCs. The main adversaries in the encampment are høyondes and the fortress actually sports a pass-code clever PCs may unearth as well as means of freeing hostages - and, via a levitating ruby, the PCs will have a chance to rub their triumph in to the Jötunn king...provided they manage to defeat their powerful adversaries.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Justin Andrew Mason's third expansion-mini-dungeon for Into the Wintry Gale is an unpretentious, fun little side-trek versus smart-acting adversaries - a fun romp and well tied into the main story. No complaints there, though the mini-dungeon does not have this one elevating idea of genius. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for a good mini-dungeon.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG03: The Jotunn Encampment
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Book of Icons (13th Age Compatible)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 05:36:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive pdf clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 42 pages of content, so let's take a look!


All right, at this point it's not a big secret that I'm not the biggest fan of 13th Age's vanilla icons - while recent installments of 13th Age Monthly and similar supplements have added dimensions to some of them, I still consider them to be a bit too archetypical. Similarly, the rather freeform approach to icons can be challenging for a GM, which is why this pdf provides pretty much a rather simple, yet more streamlined and concise nomenclature regarding icons and the interaction with them.


A proxy, for example, would be an NPC that serves as a reliable intermediary/liaison between PCs and icon, meaning that your low level PCs don't always get to hassle their icon, diminishing the effectiveness of actually interacting with them. An investment is a gift, an object or piece of information that provides a permanent advantage in the grand scheme of things, while an event would be a single occurrence that fits the theme of the respective icon. Similarly, the pdf provides the term of "thematic adjustment", which means that the GM reskins a given area to fit more closely with the themes of the respective icons.


As a nice nod to one of the cooler aspects of Rite Publishing's conversion of the superb Breaking of Forstor Nagar-module, the pdf also provides dead simple, elegant basic rules for hazardous terrain/attacks by the terrain. Two thumbs up!


Now before I get into the nit and grit of the respective icons featured within these pages, I'd be grossly negligent to mention an aspect that may well enhance your 13th Age GMing prowess, particularly if you are a relatively new GM - the rather handy step-by-step break-down and explanation of Relationship Dice and how to handle icons in the game. This section is VERY detailed and, particularly for GMs that aren't as good at improvising, pure gold - with advice on staging events, balance-considerations regarding aforementioned investments and thematic adjustments, it is a handy section to have, though one more experienced GMs won't require.


Now I mentioned new icons, so what's their schtick? Well, basically, the 6 new icons herein are based on 6 cards of Tarot's major arcana, with the first, the Fool being reimagined as the adventurer. (And yes, dear fans of the Persona-franchise, I'm thinking the same thing here and really want to expand that aspect...) The general presentation of the respective icons in this supplement sport information regarding heroic, ambiguous and villainous adventurers and d8 themes that can be mixed with the following to provide contexts relevant for the icon. Each of the icons sports a d6-table for proxies, events and investments that can be blended with the aforementioned leitmotif. Each of these d6-tables sports negative spins for the respective entries.


Based on the reversed fool, the revolutionary would be the next icon - where the adventurer is happy-go-lucky and all about the challenges in a given moment, the revolutionary is methodical and exists to take a stand - particularly in the regular 13th Age context with its plethora of established icons, this guys makes for an interesting addition as a more methodical wildcard. The order, in contrast, based on the Emperor-card, is, as the card shows, perhaps the most redundant of these - while one can envision it as a cabal that enforces the status quo, the obvious thematic overlap with the emperor icon and similar icons is apparent, though conflict between the two may make for an interesting narrative.


A similar duality can be seen with the Cult of One, based on the reversed emperor - this one is basically rooted in the belief of individual exceptionalism and can be used to spin it in a priestess-like believe in a messianic figure or twisted towards an ideology seeking to create a new species under an enlightened leadership...and history has certainly provided ample of examples how horribly wrong this type of ideology can turn out. The Monster, based on the devil arcana, would be an icon that is useful for the opposition: Brute, vile, tainting evil, this icon would be the mirthless, raving sledgehammer as opposed to the diabolist's razor or the crusader's pragmatic discipline - the icon of vile perversion, mutation and unwholesome change.


The more elegant and less overt evil icon herein, the tempter, also based on the devil arcana, could be bast summed up as the more subtle part of that, providing some overlap with the diabolist - basically, you can envision the methodology here as the devilish equivalent to the monster's demonic brute force, more Faustian than brute force.


This pdf does not stop with these icons, though: The book also sports some handy tools to add depth to the game, beginning with 10 abbreviated NPC-write-ups, several of which sport unique abilities alongside general guidelines and backgrounds as well as trappings. Beyond these, the book also sports no less than 7 sample organizations, ranging from the Fireworks, Demolishing and Quarry Blasting Company to the order of knight-hospitalers and adventurer guilds, the respective entries sport information on goals, structure, status and key areas of influence - but, as often, all may not be as it seems, which means that the GM is also presented with 6 secret agendas that include a claim for domination, being fronts for invaders from beyond and similar unpleasant, if classic twists.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard with nice, full-color artworks...though fans of Rite Publishing may have seen a couple of them before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


Patryk Adamski's Book of Icons is a good read and particularly useful for less experienced GMs - anyone who has had issues with the presentation of icons in 13th Age and handling them in-game can consider this to be a useful, nice sourcebook - which is also pretty much the theme for this book: The general presentation of the new icons, NPCs etc. is overall solid, easy to grasp and well presented, providing some additional structure to the icon-rules, while retaining the flexibility championed by 13th Age. Novice GMs and those who had/expect to have issues with icons and relationship dice should consider this well worth the investment.


At the same time, while certainly not a bad book, personally, I didn't take much out of this book - as a longtime veteran GM and someone who can improvise PFRPG-statblocks and whole adventures, I had no issues adjusting to the icon-mechanics of 13th Age. The new icons presented herein, by necessity of them being setting-agnostic, felt a bit opaque to me and while I like the Tarot-idea, the restriction to only 3 cards means that the new icons on their own can't really replace a pantheon of existing icons - and, more jarringly to me, they offer quite a bit of serious thematic overlap with 13th Age's default icons - unnecessarily so, at least in my opinion. By emphasizing other aspects of e.g. the tempter or the order, they could have been made more distinct...but perhaps that's just me being spoiled and expecting something akin to what Icons of Parsantium or the Midgard icons delivered regarding facets and depth.


Please take my criticism of this book with a grain of salt, for, as mentioned above, I may simply not be the target audience - for less experienced GMs and those struggling with integrating icons, this pdf may well be a godsend, though veteran GMs get decidedly less out of this book. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform - a good offering, though one that could have done a bit more to also provide material for the veterans.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Icons (13th Age Compatible)
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Mini-Dungeon IWG02: Snowblind Sanctuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 05:30:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintry Gale"-saga.


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


Stumbling through a particularly nasty blizzard in the mountains, the PCs stumble into a tunnel of an abandoned Vikmordere sanctuary - and it is unique: Deadly traps and atmospheric environments hearken, including a concise, relatively logical puzzle. Now it should be noted that, much like the first module, this does use a creature from Into the Wintry Gale (and an item from Raider's Haul as one treasure) as a combat challenge. Now here's what I did - I ignored it. Radical, right? No, seriously, this mini-complex works surprisingly well for 2 pages as a pure exercise in atmosphere and ruin-exploration...which is testament to the concise writing herein...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Justin Andrew Mason's second Into the Wintry Gale-expansion mini-dungeon is more versatile than the first and sports an ultimately more interesting complex alongside an intriguing little puzzle that makes sense. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for a solid, nice dungeon.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG02: Snowblind Sanctuary
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Relic Files: Treasures of the Earth I - Svarduun
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 03:01:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


After the deviation from the formula in the last installment of this series, where we took a look at a power armor, this constitutes a return to the formula of depicting a relic, i.e. with a magic weapon that increases in potency every level. The pdf clocks in at 5 pages, with 1 page SRD/editorial, 1/2 a page front cover, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a closer look!


We begin this item's entry with a significant and well-crafted section of fluffy introductory text, before getting into the details of the weapon - what, at first level, looks like a masterwork warhammer but may penetrate Dr as though it were magic swiftly improve: 2nd level lets the hammer work as a staff that contains the mending spell at either level 8 or the wielder's level, whichever is higher. This theme is further expanded, as higher levels provide Craft bonuses and less charges required to activate. On a nitpicky side, the notation of the Craft skills lacks the brackets. Higher levels unlock additional spells to use with the charges of the weapon, with magic weapon being added to the fray and mending being upgraded to make whole.


Beyond that, the weapon also grants scaling fire resistance and higher levels also provide a limited array of additional low-level spell preparation slots. The levels also, obviously, increase the enchantment and adds flame-themed properties, which are powered by charges as well. At the highest levels, wielders can use charges to grant the speed property, with highest levels providing attribute bonuses and counting as adamantine for dwarven wielders. The weapon, at high levels, also provides a new spell, Aspect of the Forgelord, increasing height and weight, providing bonuses and a fire aura that increases in potency at higher levels.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports two solid b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Andrew Marlowe's Svarduun is a cool, dwarven-themed relic that provides a cool, fun and mechanically interesting relic. Barring any significant complaints, this pdf receives a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Relic Files: Treasures of the Earth I - Svarduun
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Mini-Dungeon IWG01: Den of the Glacial Bear
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 02:59:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintry Gale"-saga.


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


The PCs stumble across a heavily injured vikmordere-raider, who has been badly mauled by a glacial bear (stats can be found in the associated ItWG-books; if you don't have access to them, template a bear with a winter/frost-themed template) and asks the PCs, if they save him, to save his brothers. The cave itself shows the brutal struggle between man and nature. Exploring the well-described, but otherwise pretty bland cave, the PCs can find survivors and finally face off with the glacial bear - who was defending her cubs from the vikmordere - but the angry beast isn't playing nice...


Having defeated the creature, it's up to the players how to treat the surviving cubs - leaving them to their fate is a sure death-sentence...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Justin Andrew Mason's first Into the Wintry Gale-expansion sports nice read-aloud text and a brief sidetrek - but that's about it. Personally, I got nothing out of this one - the fluff is nice, but there isn't that much to do - explore the caves, witness the build-up, fight boss, done. It's an okay mini-dungeon, but lacks the evocative setting the better ones have in spite of their brevity. Basically, this is a creature-showcase for the creature in the associated book. I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG01: Den of the Glacial Bear
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The Dragon's Hoard: Magic Arms & Armor
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2016 04:25:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first collection of magic items released by Flaming Crab Games clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this installment via 6 new magic armor special abilities: Featherlight armor duplicates featherfall and has reduced armor check penalty and increased maximum Dexterity bonus. Analogue to this, sea-faring armor provides water breathing and easier Swimming. While light resting armor allows the user to expend a move action to mitigate the armor's arcane spell failure for enhancement bonus rounds. I'm not a big fan of giant wrestling armor - it ignores the size modifier to CMD and CMB when fighting foes at least one size category larger: Considering the often horrible values for Dex, this is a bit inexpensive at +2. Salving armor can end bleed damage as a move action, which generally is appropriate, unless using bleed-heavy system modifications such as TPK Games' Laying Waste. Absolutely awesome and incredibly useful (and rendered via an artwork): Toy barding. It shrinks a mount to fine size...including info on food consumption. This one feels very magical and versatile and it solves many a "can't bring my mount into the dungeon"-issue. Two thumbs up!


A total of 10 different special magical armors are up next - and all of them sport their own, neat, pencil-drawn artworks - two thumbs up for the artistic extra mile here! Bastion Plates makes you count as larger and allow for a limited use bludgeoning-damage causing shock wave. Cacophonous armor is interesting -penalizing Stealth heavily, the armor can cause targets around the stopping point to become stunned for one round, deafened for 2d4 rounds. Fungal armor is slightly problematic - the armor has a cool defense mechanism. Targets grappled can become engulfed in fungal growths that deal Con damage. These growth may be picked off as a full-round action - but activation is odd: "If grappled, as a standard action..." is the first clause and the final sentence here says "the wearer can't willfully repress or activate this defense." - so which is it? Does it require a standard action? Or not? Or does this automatically happen in conjunction with the first grapple? Similarly, the secondary option, a cloud of spores "follows the wearer" - so, does it trail behind the wearer? Is it an aura or an emanation? The wording of this item needs a bit of clarification.


The gemini armor is interesting - as a move action 3/day, it creates a duplicate up to 30 ft. away, which receives one standard action, but can't perform SUs, SPs or cast spells. Damage caused to the double is transferred to the wearer. Interesting from a tactical perspective! Grasshopper armor helps when jumping - move action for +20...which seems a bit excessive. Jabberwock's Dream protects versus vorpal weapons and the wearer can fire ranged fire beams a limited amount of times per day. Solid! Lightning Guard Leather has 3 charges per day; beyond swift action bonuses when fighting defensively, the armor's charges can be used to grant a non-stacking haste-like attack when fighting defensively and finally, entering total defense as an immediate action is a nice trick. I really like this item, though the additional attack is more powerful than the other charge uses. There is also an anti-shapechanger armor and one that helps infiltrate the ranks of the lower planes. Finally, tehre is a shadowy armor that can duplicate mirror image.


Two shield properties allow a shield to provide sustenance or add shield bonus to touch AC. (Imho, shield bonuses should apply to touch AC in the first place, but that may just be me...suffice to say, I like this one - the massive +3 bonus is justified by making shield bash count as force damage, which is pretty strong!)


The book also sports 4 specific shields - the bombardier beetle shield not only helps versus acid, it also allows you to emit sprays of acid. There also is an animated tower shield that can be commanded to grant cover - and yes, it is an exception to the rule I can get behind. The Shield of the Dragon's Envoy is less interesting, with fire resistance and social skill bonuses + tongues, while the shield-type changing variable shield is once again unique and interesting.


A total of 13 special weapon qualities can be found next - adaptive slaying increases the damage bonus gained to bypass the creature's DR - which is a pretty good idea for most fantasy games - steer clear in horror and similar scenarios, though. On a nitpicky side - the ability should specify that it does not apply to e.g. epic DR, whose main catch is that it's less than regular DR, but nigh unbypassable. Ashenstrike is very cool - when missing in melee, you can grant yourself a cumulative 10 % miss chance, capping at total concealment's 50%. Note that you may miss on purpose and that it does not grant the additional benefits of concealment/total concealment, though. Still, at +1 bonus, this is a bit underpriced, considering its potential activation upon a miss. There also is a rather overpowered one - blistering weapons add +1d6 fire damage per attack AND continue to inflict this damage for two rounds, +1 round per additional hit. While Heal (and magical healing) can be used to halt the damage, the ability fails to specify which type of Heal-check is required - I assume First Aid. Still, this allows for pretty easy ongoing damage that requires serious action-investment to stop - considering flaming burst is +2, this would work better at +3 instead of its underpriced +2. Dehydrating weapons can cause fatigue on a failed save and deal bonus damage versus pants - odd: "The effect remains active until another command is given." The weapon's fatigue-effect, as written, has no "command" to activate it - rules-language here could be clearer.


Nice: Str and Dex damage versus constructs on critical hits, which at least slightly reward criting these foes. The +1 bonus enchantment drifting is interesting -when criting, you can expend an AoO to gain a free 5-foot-step - tactical and smart! Goliath weapons allow a wielder to use a weapon of +1 size category sans penalties. I also really like the greased weapon -at command, the weapon becomes slippery and requires a Ref-save to avoid dropping it, second command to end the effect. Pretty cool for signature weapons and in the hands of the right character, hilarious. Hellwreathed weapons deal half fire/half untyped damage and, at +3, is aptly priced. Lethal weapons increase crit multiplier - something we sure did not need - x4 is already exceedingly nasty. Odd: The one usual use and justification I could see for it, namely synergy with weapon mastery, is locked out - but then again, x5 is already broken as hell. Don't believe me? Watch a PC get hit by a pick or scythe-crit and die in one hit. Reverberating is great for sunder specialists, converting the weapon damage dice of sunder attempts as damage. Starlight weapons allow for atk-rerolls and are lighter and virulent weapons allow for faster poisoning and increase the DC.


The final section of the pdf covers over 30 specific magic weapons: There e.g. are virulent hand crossbows that can turn into tattoos, blades that can be played as wind instruments (and hold poisons) or a blade that nets Eschew Materials and is automatically available as a proficient weapon for arcane casters. Somewhat problematic: A blade that lets you add +1 eidolon evolution to creatures summoned at the price of stabbing yourself for damage that cannot be negated. While it gets the min level to prevent abuse right, does the stabbing influence the spellcasting? Concentration required? I'd assume so, but I'm not sure. Zombie femurs that cause fear-based paralysis and poisoned spears are okay, though the paralysis seems a bit harsh, in spite of the low save. There is also a flail with a clarion attached that potentially sickens targets and may deal additional damage on crits. Temporary blinding tekko-kagi, flaming whips that let you transform into smoke - these are okay. The gemini sword, however, is interesting - the sword can split in two and grants Two-Weapon-Fighting while split - the effect lasts for two rounds, though the item fails to specify activation action - I assume "free" here. On the nitpicky side, the rules technically also would have needed to specify that the wielder needs a free hand to split the blade and that he can't hand the second blade to allies.


A greataxe with a non-suppressible merciful quality is intriguing as well. Darts that cause lycanthropy and swords intended to work below water are solid and ice-themed starknives are a cool idea. Arrows that stagger foes instead of dealing damage are pretty intriguing. There also is a scarf that can cause Con-damage and even result in decapitations (powerful, but pretty awesome). A smelly dagger is okay, if not too exciting: More intriguing: A blade that can be used as a composite shortbow and fire arrows. There also are lucerne hammers herein - one that can crit natural armor away and another one that is the bane of flying foes...but only while the wielder remains earthbound. Negative energy-grappling whips and impaling weaponry that basically works like a bleeding grab can be considered interesting. A powerful, defensive scizore and a dagger that is particularly potent against identified foes is nice. I'm not sold on the volcanic maul - as a standard action, the earth breaker can unleash a 15ft. 5d4 cone of fire to be added to a melee attack - no daily limits. At 13K, this does seem a bit too much. I'd rather advocate a scaling number of uses depending on the wielder's level. The spear that allows you to unleash bursts of wind at range feels more aptly priced there and has degrees of failure regarding the negation of its additional effects. Just fyi - there are more items than the ones I mentioned in the review.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor typos and , considering the amount of different people involved in the creation of this pdf, a bit more streamlining of rules-language would have been nice - there are quite a few deviations from the standard, though most can be ignored and are cosmetic in nature. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a huge amount of beautiful line-drawn renditions of the specific items herein - impressive from an art-perspective! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Ths pdf is the work of a lot of authors: James Abendroth, Morgan Boehringer, Isaiah Burt, Kelce Casey, Byron Clark, Alexander W. Corrin, Chuck DiTusa, Robert Feather, J Gray, Phil Greeley, Ivan Havel, Sam Hing, JJ Jordan, Douglas “White Templar” Mawhinney, Jacob McCoy, David S. McCrae, Brian Minhinnick, Angel “A.R.M.R” Miranda, Sean McGowan, Dave Owens, Michael Riter, Matt Roth, Thiago Shinken, Jeffrey Swank, Anthony Torretti, Chris “Ne’er Do Well Games” Walter, Christopher Wasko. Folks, let's get right to it - overall, you did a great job. While not all items herein are perfect or brilliant, there are quite a few gems herein that warrant getting this collection of magic items. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dragon's Hoard: Magic Arms & Armor
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Alternate Dungeons: Frigid Ice Cave
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 02:54:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Raging Swan Press' Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The frigid caves of eternal ice inspire anyone who has ever ventured atop a glacier and beyond that - as a dungeon backdrop, they present unique challenges, which this pdf is designed to address: With cliffs and their scaling DC, chasms and ice-sheets, ledges and levels, there is a lot of cool terrain to consider, all presented with tight and concise mechanics to back up the evocative imagery. Similarly, this acts as a concise GM-cheat sheet, listing the effects of environmental cold, starvation and supplies and crumbling columns and stalagmites, going so far to even include the dangers of ice-cold water.


As has become the tradition with this series, we do receive information regarding the sacking of the dungeon - from the mundane (deceased explorers) to sunken vessels and objects encased in ice, this section has a lot to offer in terms of considerations for the GM. Similarly evocative would be the section discussing the function of the caves - whether to act as a place that houses ancient guardians or an elemental conduit, the ideas are intriguing...or let's flip that, shall we? Perhaps the caverns are more hospitable and thus offer shelter to hibernating creatures...or are subject to a sympathy spell that may attract creatures...perhaps to recruit guardians or for more sinister purposes, only the GM knows and decides...


As always, the pdf does feature a dressing-table, here spanning a whole page - though the reader will grin here, probably more than elsewhere. Why? Because the table sports a plethora of rules-relevant modifications - whether it's chilly blankets of mist, unstable ice that can be detected by Knowledge (engineering) or ominous stalactites that threaten to fall (and potentially crush the floor) in response to loud noises - this table goes one step beyond and is a joy to read.


Now the sample denizen section sports the usual suspects from frost giants to remorhazes and yetis, yes, but the pdf also features the wendigo and in some cases offers apt guidelines that even veteran GMs may use. Have you ever thought about reskinning goblins to be blue-skinned (no, they don't have to have psionics as per this pdf...but while we're at it...why not?) walrus-riders? Yeah, me neither.


Where the pdf goes the extra mile would be with the rather evocative hazards-section -from avalanches to cracking ice ledges and chilling winds to ice that acts like mirrors of life trapping, this page alone may be worth the fair asking price for the mundane and magical hazards collated.


Finally, we end this pdf with 3 adventure hooks - incursions by frothing mad yetis would be well...but what if a wendigo chased survivors to a dead-end, to watch them struggle and either become ghoulish undead or food to their erstwhile brethren? Yeah, that makes for an evocative survival adventure. Oh, and have I mentioned the dread gnomish necromancer demanding tribute, carrying his undead hordes in the belly of an undead worm to discipline settlements that fail to provide their tribute? Yep, these hooks are versatile and well-crafted.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features several nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer and both are bookmarked for your convenience.


Daron Woodson's frigid ice caves are a truly wondrous, wonderful environment to adventure in - whether it's via Frog God Games Northlands Saga, AAW Games' Rybalka or a similar environment, I can't wait to whip out this well-crafted pdf to supplement my next icy dungeon. Evocative, considerate and well-crafted as a whole and in the respective details, this is a shining example for the virtues of the series. It also shows how exceedingly useful this product line can be - for a ridiculously low price, you have great cheat sheets and all the tools to craft yourself...or simply reskin an otherwise less than interesting adventure. A fantastic supplement, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Frigid Ice Cave
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The Geomancer's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 02:53:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first sphere-specific expansion book for Drop Dead Studios' excellent Spheres of Power-system clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After an aptly-written piece of introductory prose, we dive into the sphere magic here, which begins with the option-array for metal geomancing via the nature sphere, allowing the spherecaster to draw forth metal from the ground and featuring a rather neatly-detailed table. Have I mentioned that this has the options to magnetize metal and throw it, with maximum item-size influenced and governed by level? On a more critical side (haha) - per concentration, metal weapons may be influences as a standard action to increase threat range, though thankfully featuring anti-abuse caveats. At the cost of an additional spell point, metal geomancy allows the object drawn forth from the earth to take the shape of a closer approximation of the respective weapon or ammunition you seek to duplicate. Similarly, making blades or similar weaponry a kind of magnetized sentry (anti-abuse caveat provided) or forming temporarily your weapon into a whip-like version of itself that can be used to better sunder/disarm/etc. can be considered visually impressive, novel options. Interesting indeed. I am, however, somewhat weary of the hemoglobin ability - allowing for at range Con-damage that also draws forth ore - sure, mechanically generally sound...but still, a pretty nasty one, particularly at lower levels, even with save to negate. Using your command of magnetism to have objects rebound to other targets is interesting. For spell points, you may also temporarily gain the stalwart ability (not StalwarD, as the pdf calls it) and since it's tied to a resource, I actually am not complaining about it for once- but more interesting, at least to me, would be advanced talents to grant objects regeneration 1 (acid) and yes, fire-forged, frost-forged and similar materials are reprinted for your convenience, which is nice -said holistic approach can btw. be found throughout the book, making it pretty user-friendly.


The nature sphere does receive new talents - beyond foggy acid rain, there is a means of aggravating foes...that made me very happy. Why? Because, well, instead of reinventing the wheel here, the pdf takes Everyman Gaming's excellent antagonize-mechanics from Ultimate Charisma and runs with them...which is rather awesome. On a formal and purely aesthetic side, I noticed some slight deviations from presentation standards: There are e.g. DCs like 14+1/2 HD + WIS modifier noted - when usually, you'd write "Wisdom modifier", but oh well - my joy about actually getting hardness and hp of pummeled branches and the like supersede this. Heating or cooling metal and/or water, creating lava or nature barriers in transparent or opaque material (from e.g. leaves or wood, glass or stone) - the options are neat. Beyond these, the pdf does sport combo tricks: Like adding sticky resin to plants, smoke to fires...and yep, there is a balanced fast healing option as well, one that can't get you above 1/2 health...


On the advanced talents-side, the pdf goes all out - with freezing geysers (fire, water, geomancing), the insubstantial condition...and yes, you may draw forth geomancy-born elementals with your power. Better yet - after two rituals, the pdf also sports two detailed incantations and information on hallowed druid circles. So, let's recap from here: We can now actually play with Magneto's tricks - so far, so cool!


The book continues to provide new material beyond that: The archaic alchemist is a Mid-Caster using Int and gains a magic talent each level, sporting also a discovery that allows the class to take hedgewitch secrets...and yep, this replaces alchemy. The warden armorist gets a modified skill list, 4+Int skills per level and may only wear "natural" armor. Instead of quick summons and armor training, the archetype receives the nature sphere (full character level = class level) and also sports an auto-confirm for crits, +1 crit multiplier and disarm-immunity as a capstone. The arsenal tricks introduced are intriguing and make use of material from Dreamscarred Press' excellent Ultimate Psionics, though reproduced herein for your convenience...and yeah, the material is NICE.


The Geosurveyor would be a cool nature-sphere/ranger-crossover with favored packages and is nice. The totemist soul weaver receives a channel devoted to balance: the wounded are healed, the hale are bleeding - with 1/2 max hit points being the threshold and the archetype does get the option use channel balance to add buffs, so-called totem-marks...which can then be dispersed for different boosts...and yes, the playstyle here is pretty awesome. The Yamabushi would be an unchained monk low-caster with a limited spell pool instead of ki, which is also used for powering ki-based abilities.


The pdf also sports feats that emphasize the combo-potential: Alloy Creation allows for the blending of creation and metal geomancing; what about better metal geomancy/telekinesis combo-potential? Bonuses when drawing upon both earth and water - interesting. There are a couple of minor hiccups here, though: The feat that grants access to alchemist formulae has this sentence, for example: "You must spend have a caster level with the entire Nature sphere equal to..." - the "spend" is obviously a hiccup and one that does make the feat slightly more opaque than it should be. Or perhaps you want to hurl burning plantlife at foes? Yup, possible. The traits are also nice and properly codify trait subtype - kudos!


The supplement also sports new magic armor and weapon abilities - shields with vines granting limited DR, entangling critical hits - the ideas here fit VERY well. Menhirs and trilithons codified as wondrous items may sound cool. The pdf also uses Legendary Item-rules, as pioneered by Purple Duck Games (a formula later used by Dreamscarred Press), here slightly erroneously attributed to DSP as the original source. Anyways, the Changestaff of the Oakling Prince still constitutes an awesome magic item that increases in power over the wielder's levels.


The pdf also sports a bestiary-section, where we are introduced to the Geomancy Elemental Born-template (CR+1) with a sample elemental and multiple Wyrgrove creatures as well as the CR 15 apocalypse rot grub swarm closing the book on a rather high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, but not as tight as I would have liked - there are some minor, mostly aesthetic divergences from standardized rules-language, with a couple potentially slightly making the material a bit more opaque. Layout adheres to a green-tinted, nice two-column full-color standard with a couple of great full-color pieces I have not seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This is the first of the patreon-based Spheres of Power-expansions and penned by Derfael Oliviera...and unless I am sorely mistaken, this is the first book by the author I have read...and it sure is damn impressive! Considering the complex subject matter of metal-interaction and tricks this pdf requires, the rules-language is often complex and shows some distinct talent. Even in the more flawed instances, the pdf still manages to get across what's intended and, more importantly, the pdf lacks truly problematic components. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of the 1/2-max-HP-bloodied style-mechanics since they constitute yet another number to track, but there is precedence for those...and when the pdf uses them, they are justified by the unique things the pdf does.


Speaking of which: While certainly not perfect, this book actually proved to be rather inspired in that it does unique things: A whole bunch of options herein simply cannot be reproduced by vancian magic and that is a HUGE plus for me; the combo-tricks and specializations further exonerate this pdf. The complex tricks juggled and overall smart choices made this, as a whole, a more than worthwhile addition to Spheres of Power...and yes, if you're like me and always wanted to play a Magneto-style character...well, this is it! That being said, this is also one of the cases where I simply can't rate the pdf as high as I'd like to - the hiccups are there. BUT: At the same time, this book sports basically all those cool subsystems I like (and yes, you can use them sans having their sources) - whether it's the brilliant antagonize, legendary items or incantations...for me, this increased the usefulness of the book...and it always gives credit where credit is due. With reprints of e.g. swarm traits in a statblock for your convenience, this is a surprisingly user-friendly expansion. So how to rate this, then? Well, in the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 due to the glitches...but considering how much I actually downright love in this book, I will still slap my seal of approval on this, despite the rough patches.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Geomancer's Handbook
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Class Expansions - Onmyoji Archetypes
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:49:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This inexpensive expansion for the superb Onmyōji-class clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with two pages for the archetypes, so let's take a look!


The first of the archetypes (both of which sport a brief paragraph of well-written fluff, just fyi) would be the Grinning Fox. Instead of aid of the minor kami ability, these fellows may choose an at-will cantrip and an at-will orison each day. Additionally, at 1st level, these guys get the Cha-based SP to cast lesser confusion twice a day...and grow their first fox tail, from now on counting as kitsune for purposes of e.g. the Magical Tail feat. The grinning fox receives spirit points equal to his class level plus Charisma modifier and replenishes these after 8 hours rest/meditation. At 2nd level, instead of gaining a shikigami, these folks gain Magical Tail as a bonus feat for the first time, gaining the feat an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. If the grinning fox already has the feat 8 times, he may instead choose one SP granted by it and increase daily uses for said SP by +1. I really like this archetype - in less "magical" worlds, this allows a player to undergo basically a kitsune-like apotheosis without introducing the race, while in high fantasy campaigns, it adds an interesting dimension to the interaction with kitsune: Do they frown upon Grinning Foxes? Encourage them? Perhaps even create them? Nice one!


The second archetype would be more complex - the Herald of the Lucky God. These guys exclusively specialize on one of the lucky gods - the lucky gods are listed including their dominions, but here's the catch - you get the petition of the lucky god you have chosen as a bonus petition as soon as you meet the prerequisites...however, you may never learn the petitions of the other lucky gods. Similarly, whenever the herald gains a class level and meets the prerequisites for the friendship feat associated with the chosen lucky god, he automatically receives it - once again, gods and associated friendship feats are listed for your convenience. This ability replaces aid of the minor kami. The archetype also learns an unique trick: At 3rd level, the herald learns the so-called Lucky God's Cantrip of the associated deity - and no, this is no 0-level spell. Instead, the abilities are either extraordinary or supernatural abilities, The abilities generally fit rather well with the respective theme of the lucky god chosen: Benzaiten, for example, grants all Knowledge skills as class skills and allows for untrained use of them. Daikokuten gets a pocket dimension that can hold one object of up to 5 lbs. (Hammerspace!), while e.g. Bishamonten grants an insight bonus to atk and AC when readying an action that is then wasted. While I'd champion a scaling bonus for the latter, you see that the abilities are pretty creative! Have I mentioned "Frequent Dier" that pays for a part of the costs of the spells that returned the character to life? If you're a DM like me, this will be used OFTEN. And yes, this got a chuckle out of me.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf provides stock photography of a rendition of the lucky gods, fitting exceedingly well. The pdf has no bookmarks, but frankly, needs none at this length.


So Alexander Augunas obviously had to sneak a kitsune-themed...wait. Wrong company and author, so sorry! ;P


Kidding aside, Bradley Crouch's expansion of the absolutely SUPERB, brilliant, genius, awesome, buy it now-level of greatness onmyōji-class is short, sweet and to the point. For a single buck, you get two well-made archetypes that certainly enrich the game and add new dimensions to the glorious base class. While I'm not completely blown out of the water by this expansion, it is still an excellent addition, which, at the ridiculously low $1-pricetag, is a no-brainer. MY final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


P.s.: Get that base class!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions - Onmyoji Archetypes
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Four Horsemen Present: Alien Races - Sokura
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:48:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Four Horsemen Present-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The sokura's depiction as a race is more intriguing that one would assume - featuring post-existential philosophy as well as perfect pitch, these somewhat feline, quadruped creatures are akin to centaurs with rhinoceros-like skin. Their tribal culture is intriguing in its blend of science and a scoietal structure generally codified as primitive, creating a distinct area of tension between the two poles and generating thus interest and narrative potential in a surprisingly concise depiction that left me curious for more details regarding the culture of the sokura, which is further enhanced by a kind of infatuation with weaponry and a polygamous and polyamorous structure to their relationships. Similarly, the blend of avian, feline and centaur-like traits is intriguing.


Racial trait-wise, Sokura may choose one ability score to which +2 is added, are four-legged with a base speed of 40 ft. and +4 to CMD, always treat Perform as a class skill (and gain +2 to said checks) and are treated as though subject to know direction while on a planet. This one imho should have been codified as SP or Ex and I assume from the text that this does not work while in space, but I'm not sure. Sokura can go up to 3 days sans water, 10 sans food without having to make starvation checks. They may also, as a standard action and a Perform-check versus DC 15 share a teamwork feat with 1 ally for 1 round per HD they have...which is pretty powerful for a racial ability. They are proficient with sokura blaster rifles. As far as alternate race traits are concerned, two are provided: Offworlder sokura replace the food/water-related hardiness with +2 to Diplomacy and +1 known language. Prodigy sokura replace the teamwork feat sharing with the Technologist feat.


Thankfully, the race comes with random starting ages, height and weight (with entries for both regular and offworlder sokura) and the race is smart in that it codifies sokura as medium, thus avoiding the large-creature-issues and undersized weapon-requirements of the centaurs. The pdf sports 3 racial feats: Survivor provides temperature adaption as well as a further increase of the time during which they do not need to eat/drink/etc. The other two feats are Sixth Sense, which nets blindsense 10 ft. (with a prereq of Blind-Fight) and its bigger cousin, which grants blindsense 30 ft. and blindsight 5 ft. The race also provides FCOs for bard, cavalier, fighter, gunslinger, ranger and skald - no complaints there.


The pdf also provides racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Honored Nomad cavalier, which modifies proficiencies to cover simple and martial weapons, firearms, bucklers and light armor and are locked into the order of the nomad at 1st level. Instead of a mount, these sokura get +10 ft. movement as well as Endurance. Speaking of the order of the nomad - the order provides +2 to AC versus AoOs from the challenge, increasing +2 for every four levels the cavalier has. Class skills are Perception and Survival. At 2nd level, the order increases starting attitude by +1 and penalizes the Bluffing against him from friendly or helpful creatures. At 8th level can, as an extraordinary ability, calm emotions of a creature as a full-round action, with a duration that is only maintained while the sokura maintains the expenditure of the required action. Making the save versus the ability offers a means of increasing attitude of the creature affected, though the spamming of the ability is impossible due to a hex-like once per 24 hours per creature caveat. At 15th level, Diplomacy can even be used sans shared language and foes are penalized depending on their attitude towards the cavalier. Over all, a cool idea - tying attitudes with combat-relevant abilities is a pretty rare approach.


The Mind Singer skald replaces Scribe Scroll with 10 ft. per class level via telepathy - but only one creature at a given time. Similarly, the raging songs granted by the archetype are hive-mind themed, enhancing the Will of the listeners and providing a telepathic song that grants telepathy to allies as well as sharing teamwork feats at higher levels. 10th level allows for the touching of foes to detect thoughts (immediately 3 rounds of concentration) - nice. 14th level does overshoot the target a bit for less powerful campaigns, allowing for the sharing of a single skill or feat, though at least targets still must meet the prerequisites, which prevents this from being OP. Odd: The honored nomad and mindsinger's headers sport different formatting choices.


The pdf provides two new weapons, the clay shard blades and the sokura blaster rifle (with a nice b/w-artwork). The pdf concludes with advice on how to use the sokura and a sample CR 1/2 vanilla skald (sans archetype), including the neat cover artwork.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - beyond the inconsistency regarding header formatting, this pdf has an odd layout-glitch: The first page sports the standard color background...and about half of the page instead has a white background. This is a cosmetic glitch, though. Layout, apart from aforementioned glitch, adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and sports solid artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Tim Hitchcock's Sokura are an interesting race - though one that does deviate in very minor instances from some established formatting choices. When I looked at the cover, I expected a mess - quite frankly, I have not seen a single quadruped race that truly works...or manages to address the ladder/large-creature-issues properly. The sokura, by virtue of ignoring their extra limbs for all but their base speed, manage to avoid the obvious multiple-arms- and size-issues, which is smart. More importantly, the tidbits we get on their culture actually are intriguing and exciting - they feel ALIEN and still sensible.


The tactician-lite racial ability may upset games that are predicated on more conservative racial stats, but at the same time, the race, as a whole, can be considered on par with the more powerful races like tiefling, aasimar, etc. Personally, I would have codified the ability-types of some abilities a bit differently, but that can be chalked up to mostly personal preference. So is the race good? Well, it's better than the brevity would suggest - it manages to depict a race that feels unique and more than a collection of stats an crunch - which is ultimately the most important component of a race and more than I can say about many racial supplements. Still, personally, I had a strange feeling that the sokura were intended as a psionic race - the mind-song and concepts feel like they could have easily tied in with Ultimate Psionics, considering how the rules in said book have established, precise rules for psionic collectives. A psionic variant at least would have been great to see, though I will not penalize the pdf for the omission of the like.


In the end, this is a nice, if brief, racial supplement that manages to rise above the average racial supplement, but also falls short of the potential of the race, mostly due to the brevity of the book. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Alien Races - Sokura
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Deadly Gardens: Phoenix Lily 5E
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:42:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The 5e-conversion of the Phoenix Lily clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After a brief introduction to the subject matter at hand, we are introduced to two magic items: The uncommon specimen jar, which conserves 1/2 cubic foot of material, preserving it. (Yes, including information on putting things inside or drawing forth items.) and the second being the very rare fecund totem: Vegetation within 600 feet of the totem becomes overgrown as if affected by plant growth, which is btw. not italicized in the pdf. The totem also grants all plant creatures +2 hit points per HD, +2 to all rolls and +2 to AC. Creatures marked by the sign on the totem are not attacked by plants unless provoked.


The eponymous sample creature herein, the Phoenix Lily, is a CR 4 adversary that sports a limited number of fiery blossoms that wilt upon being used, which they can use to emit fiery rays with a recharge of 3-6 (I assume, the recharge here represents a wilted blossom regaining its prowess). These lilies are vulnerable to cold and resistant to fire and may either attack twice via vines or fiery one of aforementioned rays. Interesting: Upon taking fire damage, a phoenix lily must succeed a Constitution save, with a DC equal to damage taken. On a failure, it erupts in an explosion akin to a fireball, with a damage equal to number of blossoms remaining times d6, Dexterity save vs. DC 15 halves. The plant is included in the targets and all blossoms wilt if this explosion is triggered. On a cosmetic side - the rules pertaining recharge and the wilting of blossoms are a bit opaque: Now I think wilting blossoms represent the total maximum of times the phoenix lily can fire its ray, while recharge is determined to denote the downtime required between shots - but one may just as well read this as recharge "unwilting" blossoms - hey, it's a phoenix lily, after all! A bit more precision in the interaction of these two would be nice.


The pdf also provides concise rules for harvesting phoenix blossoms that adhere to the default established in the accompanying FREE pdf and the rules for preserving them are provided as well - though the ever increasing DC means you won't be carrying a lot of these around for long. Intelligence (nature) can be used to fire them similarly to a one-use circlet of blasting. The pdf also contains rules for glow-emitting fire beetle glands and basilisk blood, which may revert creatures affected by a basilisk's petrification to their less statuesque forms and, when imbibed, can act similarly to cockatrice tongues as a means to temporarily gain advantage versus paralysis and petrification. Shambler Wafers are pretty powerful: Eating one grants you lightning immunity for one hour and converts the first time lightning damage is taken up to 20 hit points of damage prevented by the immunity into temporary hit points. At 200 gp, this item may be a bit on the inexpensive side, but its harvesting is dangerous enough...so yeah.


The pdf also provides means for using basilisk blood and phoenix blossoms as optional additional material components - and the modifications are interesting: E.g. gaining advantage to remove the petrified condition via dispel magic - or rather, that would be interesting...but, alas, pretrification requires greater restoration to remedy and can't be affected by dispel magic in the first place. Editing has some glitches here - when scorching ray notes "You get one extra ray than normal." and a multiplying "X" is missing in a spell's area increase, the bonus damage granted to phoenix lily-powered fireballs is not properly codified as fire damage, lack of italicization of a spell...I can't help but find myself thinking that editing should have caught this.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are the downsides of this pdf - while formally not bad, they could have used a cleaning up pertaining some components of the rules-language. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, nice 2-column standard that is easy on the printer. Oddly, one underline of the natural items is purple, not black like the others. The original b/w-artwork provided is awesome for the low price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Russ Brown and Ismael Alvarez' conversion of the Phoenix Lily to 5e is solid regarding the creature - while the recharge/wilting-component imho needs clarification, the creature as such is well-crafted and fun. The supplemental material, alas, ranges in quality, with editing feeling rushed on a formal and rules level - basically, this is a nice, inexpensive pdf hampered by the glitches in the details. If you just want to get this for the creature, go ahead; similarly, I enjoyed the notion of basilisk's blood being used to reverse petrification caused by them, as this taps into mythology. Still, the power component-section in particular needs some work. Still, for the plant, this is worth the asking price.


As a reviewer, though, I can't close my eyes to the hiccups herein. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I can't round up with the accumulated glitches in this brief pdf.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Phoenix Lily 5E
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Deadly Gardens Extra: Natural Items 5E
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:40:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This FREE pdf (included in regular Deadly Gardens, just fyi!) clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 1.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, what are natural items? They are basically parts of creatures vanquished, in some cases specifically treated. The harvesting of these items is pretty simple - all are based on Intelligence, though the precise skill used diverges from creature to creature. Beasts can be harvested via Intelligence (Nature), while most creatures can be harvested via Intelligence (Religion) and Intelligence (Arcana). Slightly odd to my eyes: Oozes are harvested via Intelligence (Investigation) - though that makes sense, if you stop to think about it. Scraping an ooze's remains from the floor? Yeah, sounds investigation-y.


The DC to harvest the respective natural items may be a bit high - per default, it is 10 + the creature's CR, with CR 1/2 et al being rounded up to 1, though, to be a nitpicky prick, the pdf does not explicitly state that one should round up. Conversely, the DC gets high pretty fast at higher levels. This does get a pass, though, since the two sample items provided make that apparent. Format-wise, natural items sport a Source that denotes the target creature from which an item is harvested, the Harvest line that states the skill used and DC and the yield. Yield denotes the number of such items you can harvest from a given carcass. Of course, price and weight also are included.


The sample items herein would be the cockatrice tongue, which, when consumed raw, grants advantage on saving throws versus petrification and paralysis. Mimic adhesive is interesting in that you can gain more of it when you succeed by +5 or more when harvesting. Mimic adhesive can be used as a glue, obviously, and is generally a nice item; I won't complain about no AC given for the glue, since the GM should be able to assign one - however, here a bit of Pathfinderism has crept into the pdf: The glue has 5 hit points...and hardness 3. After extensive perusal of my books and the SRD, I couldn't find any mention of hardness - was this supposed to be a damage threshold?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though I noticed a minor glitch here and there. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column color-standard and the pdf is relatively printer-friendly. In spite of its brevity, the pdf is fully bookmarked - kudos!


Ismael Alvarez has done a good job converting Russ Brown's pdf; while not an expansive pdf, this is FREE and I love the general notion of natural items. While not perfect, this is a nice bonus and certainly worth the download. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens Extra: Natural Items 5E
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Into the Breach: The Magus 2nd Wave
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2016 03:44:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Conclusion:


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


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


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Breach: The Magus 2nd Wave
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Lucien's Guide: Legends & Lies (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2016 03:42:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Lucien's Guide-series for Rite Publishing's critically acclaimed Diceless system clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 16 pages of content!


This pdf, presented as an account of famous Lucien, depicts various legends and ominous tales that make their rounds among the blessed beings capable of navigating the Grand Stair - generally, the respective entries begin with a brief legend that can be encountered, to then go on and discuss the truth...or one of it, behind the respective legend. The first of these we encounter would deal with Doorghuls - the legend of mimic-like creatures, masquerading as doors, waiting to swallow hapless travelers...


The second legend herein is a more complex one and one that will bring smiles to fans of the Dark Tower - it pertains the Fall of Gilead, reimagined as an inconceivably powerful world, one possibly shut down or destroyed by the Dwimmerlaik...or...well...perhaps they have chosen isolation? Instead of King's gunslingers, the fabled champions of this iteration of Gilead were the paladins and we do get concise rules for the 57 point paladin armor as a sample relic of fabled Gilead. By the way, have you heard about the darkened doors, that seemingly can't be opened, sealed from one side or another? For what reason, none can fathom...


Know how the Grand Stair is reasonably free of detritus? Well, in the drowned expanse, this is not the case, with partially and fully submerged doors leading...somewhere. To be more precise, the realms of a once unified lizard-like people called the Notar -and these fellows, as a whole race...can NATURALLY navigate the stairs. It's not rocket science to grasp the implications of such a race existing...and lets you gulp when thinking about the progenitors that engineered them. Lucien, btw., does not believe in the Old Ones that presumably exist beyond Eidolon and Umbra.


If you've read my review of the Gossamer World detailing the ramifications of colonization by the Incursion, you'll already be familiar with some of the problematic implications of this empire - which consider the Stair foremost a logistic problem - one they are methodically solving, step by step...and sure, their empire may have collapsed...but perhaps, they are just preparing themselves to rise...this time, with magic as well.


The legend of the infinite door is dismissed pretty quickly, but the nature of dragons and their interaction with the Stair...well, let's just say it's hard to find reliable sources. Oh, btw. - there is a section of the Grand Stair called God's Passage - where doors range from 60 ft - 200 ft....and if that doesn't unnerve you, you probably are a fool...particularly since they all lead to dead worlds, burning under a red sun. The pdf also talks about the forest of doors and Old Man Cavendish, who has lived through all tragedies of the Stair. Really cool: The cupboards - think of the Grand Stair, but only for interconnected cupboards...as though for mice or similar beings...


Finally, the pdf talks about broken stairs - the hypothesis being that the Grand Stair may shed sections of it, which then tumble as separate entities through time and space, but continue operating on a smaller scale...which is narrative gold.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard with ample of high quality, glorious full-color art and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Rob Donoghue's Lucien's Guide to Legends and Lies is a truly inspiring read that provides not only ample intriguing ideas and narrative potential, it also lets you ask some important questions pertaining the nature of the Grand Stair, while providing an indirect glimpse at the psychology of those that travel its expanses as a social entity. This is an inspired pdf and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide: Legends & Lies (Diceless)
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The Rangers of Uteria
Publisher: Lone Wanderer Entertainment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2016 03:39:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This FREE little supplement clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page (gorgeous) front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, so the first thing you'll notice is...well, as Uteria is an E8-setting, the ranger class depicted herein sports 8 levels. The second thing you'll notice is a modified list of ranger favored enemies...and one crucial change: Spellcasting works differently in Uteria and hence, the class gains no spellcasting progression - instead, it gains mana - based on Dexterity. Ranger with Dex<=14 get the first mana point at 5th level and can reach up to 4, while those with more than Dexterity 14 get the first mana point at 4th level, +1 every level thereafter, with 8th level providing a bump, increasing mana by +2 instead.


The spellcasting of these rangers is explained as natural talents. These require a Dex-score of 10 + talent tier to perform and save DC, if applicable, is 10 + tier level + Dex-mod. They are treated as spell-like and are used spontaneously. To regain mana, a ranger has to meditate for 1 hour and Cl is equal to ranger level -3.


Next up would be the lists of 1st tier (mana cost 1) and 2nd tier (mana cost 3) natural talents, both of which sport a new talent: the tier one ability Dazing Strike can daze foes of 4 HD or less. The talent also, oddly enough, explains the difference between being dazed and stunned, which could be considered to be somewhat confusing. The tier 2 talent, Stag's Reflexes increases AC and Perception by +2. Here, the explanation is downright incorrect, stating "...+2 Armor bonus (as a Dexterity bonus, though it does not raise the ranger's actual Dexterity)." You see, there is no "Dexterity bonus" unless you're talking about a bonus to Dexterity - there is a Dexterity modifier, which is applied to AC...and a metric ton of bonus types that could have been used here instead of this wonky wording.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though the rules-language sports some hiccups. Layout adheres to a solid full-color two-column standard and the artwork, both the cover and the interior art, are phenomenal. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Michael Bielaczyc's take on the E8-ranger is per se interesting, if not too remarkable. I consider the Dex-based casting interesting, but rules language is ultimately not as tight as it ought to be - still, this is a FREE book and as such, it gets a bit of a leeway...and the nice artworks may make this worth for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to being FREE.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Rangers of Uteria
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