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Genius Adventures: Night of the Starbird
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2015 12:21:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Genius Adventure clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look!



This being an adventure module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Even in the remotest of locations, PCs have a propensity for trouble - and so, they happen upon a complex devoted to the Astronix, a being or deity sacred to many an avian race, and not on any day, but on the most sacred of nights, the Night of the Starbird. Why is this important? well, for once, the legends speak of this entity being in charge of keeping the stars in the skies - oh, and yes, massive treasure, of course, accompanies this. Now here one has to know about the massive knowledge of author Stan! regarding Japanese and Eastern mythology -and indeed, the fully provided myth of the Astronix is depicted in a detail and way that rings TRUE; as many of you may know, studying and analyzing mythology and its resonant themes ranks among my many hobbies and the Astronix's myth qualifies as believable, organic by the hard standards I have, so yeah - kudos for that.



It should also be noticed that, while this module features Tengu, the respective characters with their fly speeds deviate consciously from PFRPG's standard for the race in an endeavor to bring them closer to the mythological roots of the race and build on the atmosphere of the module - it is one such tengu on the trails of the Astronix, separated from the rest of his expedition force, who now crashes down in front of the PCs, wrestling with a gargoyle in mortal combat. Once the creature has been dispatched, the tengu (or the notebook on his corpse) can provide the clues for the exceedingly well-hidden door to the dungeon crawl that makes up the main meat of the module:



And indeed, the module breathes an interesting spirit - the guardian gargoyles are nigh-unkillable, courtesy of the eternal-template and after the perilous climb, dungeon-exploration follows - but in a dungeon especially designed for avian folk - the vertical dimension is pretty well integrated into the module. Indeed, from murals to doors, the level of detail provided, often with rules-relevant DCs to glean more information or interact, are rather massive.



Indeed, the writing here and its implications reach a level of coolness seldom seen in any module - and the challenges the PCs will face not only sport this depth, but also resonate with the mythi in uncommon challenges - what about e.g. symbolically helping Astronix to sweep the stars in place while the ever emboldened mythical phoenix tries to fry them? Indeed, from an artifact orrery that also doubles as a kind of hazard/puzzle to arrogant aellar honor guards, the challenges are diverse - literally every encounter has at least one unique component, not only in crunch, but also in fluff - what about e.g. all turning black - while also getting rid of the floor?



What has this to do with the tengu mentioned before? Well, turns out that the tengu are anything but faithful of Stronix, with the leader/sorceror seeking to transplant his mind into the semi-divine mythical being - so let's hope the PCs choose the right side in the chaos and manage to prevent the villain's step-by-step ritual; 5 move actions - a hard timer to beat, even for capable groups!



The ending, in either way, breathes the spirit of myths - whether the PCs will have to face a deadly CR 15 mythical being with the mind of a foe or just witness the rise of the avian entity, perhaps as the first non-winged folk, the climax still has my players talking - quite impressive for such an inexpensive module!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf's cartography is solid. The maps do not come with extra player-friendly versions, which constitutes a detriment in my book. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Stan! is an industry-legend and if you want to know why, read this. I'm not kidding when I'm saying that this module can be considered a superb offering for any group with even the slightest inclination towards an old-school feeling of the mythical, the strange - this module can be seen as an homage to the way in which Eastern mythology is crafted and to the old-school - all while also featuring a level of detail one usually only sees in Raging Swan Press modules (Sights and sounds? Yup. Tactics? Yup. DCs and details galore? Yup.).

Where RSP's modules usually are subdued and feel very much kind-of-realistic, this one breathes the spirit you'd expect from high-fantasy Japanese fantasy in the traditional sense; not the subdued horror of Kwaidan, but rather the blaring glory in the traditions of the myths of e.g. Amaterasu and Susano-o. This module is high concept in all the right ways and constitutes one of those glorious surprises - my only complaints would have been that this module would have benefited from vertical maps, but with the extent of detail provided, a DM can truly bring these FANTASTIC vistas to life - and no, the module does not require an Eastern backdrop to unfold all of its glory - the beautiful thing about myths like the one PCs can partake herein would be the universality they exhibit. They resound. They touch. Their images stay wish you.



This is a beautiful module and the exceedingly fair price offsets the missing maps for me. This is a glorious module and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - get this awesome little module.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Genius Adventures: Night of the Starbird
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Mini-Dungeon #005: The Soularium
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2015 12:17:21
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.



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. Got that? Great!



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



Still here?

All right!



The Soularium is pretty uncommon in that it does not represent a classic dungeon, but rather a cult's dread operation disguised as a charity - what at first looks like a benevolent organization, quickly turns out to be the soul harvesting operation of a nasty quasit and his faithful cult - including and alignment seeing statue and pretty concise defenses - conceivably well--crafted for such a small module and sporting actual traps and the like 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. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.



Rory Toma's Soularium is an interesting, fun sidetrek with cool defenses, nice ideas and a solid cartography to boot. There is not much to complain about here - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #005: The Soularium
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Mythic Monsters: Worms
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2015 03:35:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



This time around, the installment of mythic monsters begins with supplemental material fans of Dune may appreciate - mythic feats intended for WORM-RIDING! Handling of worms? Check, including mythic power boost and extension to the creature-type - d'uh. Riding worms? Check as well -again, with a mythic upgrade of the feat, for your convenience. And yes, this IS the most concise way of handling riding worms and the like sans suffocating immediately, drowning, etc. I've seen in ages - love these feats! This, however, is not where the pdf stops - we also get the new worm domain, which includes a wormy sanctuary, tremorsense, etc. - and have I mentioned the stats for remorhaz, purple worm etc. companions for use with the new feats? Yes, awesome.



But we're not here for the supplemental material, cool as it may be, are we? So let's begin -with a wormy demon, the Vermlek at CR 4/MR 1, -not only can these beings implant themselves into corpses, they may even utilize the knowledge of the fallen they inhabit against their adversaries. This and their gruesome, gory exit from bodies render them great body invasion/creepy critters and a neat example for good low-CR critter design. At the same CR/MR, gricks can cause unpleasant diseases and even cause paralysis - solid, but kind of unremarkable upgrade here.



At one CR and MR more, the mythic FLAIL SNAILS receive better mucus, slimy runes, stunning attacks and slimy ropes - what can I say, but FLAIL SNAIL, baby - just love these guys! Better, though, would be the leech swarm upgrades - healing via blood drain, horrific body intrusions and clinging drain that stays with the victims - beautiful and deadly and what the leech swarm ought to have been capable of in the first day - yay! Now I'm going to use this and the giant file and gruesome giants to make leechwalkers, Demon Souls-style! The more mundane giant slugs (CR 10/MR 4) can use mythic power to spit acid in a spread and have a body so sticky, that weapons may adhere to it.



On the high end, CR15/MR 6 frost worms can use mythic power to amp up their coldness to staggering levels and they may utilize their hypersonic trills to cancel out magical silence - coolest, though, would be the option to call down a giant avalanche, potentially changing the terrain beyond the immediate deadly power of the attack itself - and yes, in other terrains, the effects are different. At 1 CR higher the purple worm-build not only uses a feat provided in the build (from Mythic Minis: Feats of grappling), but also get a powerful crush. Cooler, though, would be the ability to assault foes and drag them with them into their tunnels, potentially burying foes alive in the process - finally! Big tunneling worms ought to have had this capacity from the get-go. Two thumbs up! Finally, at CR 19/MR 7, one of my favorite critters ever, the neothelid not only receives full capacity of a sage, but also may use mythic power to store energy -worse, they can blast said stored energy at foes or charge its own attacks with it - it's the gauss-ring-style neothelid - love it! Have I mentioned that it uses the giant template (alternate sans it provided), disease-causing mindfire breath and immediate drop-to-minus 1 hp- psychic crushing? What about spawning seugathi, mythic ones at that? Yes, these guys are glorious.



Speaking of mythic seugathi - at CR 7/MR 3, poisonous gas, contagious madness and telepathic command of confused creatures render the critter so much cooler - two thumbs up, once again! At the lowest end of the spectrum, CR 3/MR 1 thoqqua constantly transform the terrain, are sunder specialists and take one of the lamest base creatures, rendering it mechanically exceedingly distinct - kudos for making these cooler! The penultimate creature herein is one of my favorites (Yes, I love Age of Worms...) - the worm-that-walks. While we get a CR 17/MR 7 conjurer as a base creature, the template itself is the star (and will be used in my planned AoW-mythic campaigns) - the template provides numerical escalation, tighter ability-control - and yes - various tier-based abilities make these guys a beauty. Oh, and yes, there is a worm-zombie simple template...though I wished it was as deadly as the spawn of Kyuss...



Thereafter, ladies and gentlemen, the goth and literature scholar in me had a slight nerdgasm - at CR 21/MR 8, the new creature herein is the *drum roll* CONQUEROR WORM. Poe's poems pwn posers. *ahem* Pardon. Not only is the artwork stunning (and not so slug-like as in 3.X's fiend folio, the conqueror worm actually gets unique tricks this time around, not just a numerical escalation - Deathless (regenerating in an HOUR) with ranged CMBs via tongues, lethal, all-consuming slime that adds insult to injury by reviving the slain as undead and massive spellcasting prowess, these things will SO feature in my campaigns - even among the iconic new creatures in the product-line, these worms stand out.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from some minor formatting hiccups here and there. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice two-column full color standard, streamlined and developed further - and for the better. The artworks by Michael Jaecks is neat indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jason Nelson, Mike Welham, Alistair Rigg, Tom Philips - I extend my sincere congratulations to you, gentlemen . this ranks as one of my favorite installments in the series - with the exception of the relatively bland grick, these worms are downright glorious, with supplemental material and templates standing out just as much as the surprising diversity of unique abilities that set the worms apart; that give them a distinct identity beyond "worm-like, eats and kills" - these critters fight totally differently from their non-mythic versions and bring to the table the unique panache I have come to expect from mythic monsters. And worm-riding. worm companions. Come on! How awesome is that? Final verdict? Unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval - superb job indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Worms
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Demon Cults 2: Doomspeakers
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2015 03:33:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press' Demon Cults-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 3/4 of a page SRD, leaving us with 10 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what are the doomspeakers? Are they the homeless persons with the "The end is nigh"-shields? Nope, and neither are they doom metal enthusiasts - in this context, the doomspeakers are the antipaladin champions that have drank deeply from the well of profanity that is the Book of Nine Dooms, chaotic demon-worshipers, one and all.



Know how often alignment doesn't work so well in my preferred mode of shades of gray morality? Well, even there, sometimes, you have people that just *fit* the alignment system - their ideologies match up perfectly. This is one such example. If you're tired by moral conundrums, these guys fit the bill - it doesn't get more evil. These are guys that do not even try to seem morally ambiguous - we have capital E level, vile demon worshippers here and their methods and ideology reflect that. Now, unlike the first installment, we receive a bunch of statblocks, not one - from Narn, a straight 16-level antipaladin build (also known for crucifying captured enemies and minions) to a savage level 11 gnoll antipaladin, the first two builds are nasty pieces. A somewhat tragic tiefling oracle (level 12 of the pit-born subtype, btw.) is a more diverse character - severely mutilated by ignorant townsfolk, her descent into utter darkness was traumatic indeed. Oddly, her type is wrong - she is stated to be a humanoid (elf, human), when obviously, she should be a native outsider. Finally, a gnoll cleric and a half-elven arcane duelist (level 8 and 7, respectively) complete this array of champions of evil.



Now in direct comparison to the first installment, the doomspeaker's hooks have been greatly expanded: Each APL-array receives a plethora of exceedingly detailed hooks - essentially, this provides enough fodder for the DM to potentially run a whole campaign centered on the doomspeakers - and honestly, some of these hooks are significantly more compelling than quite a few full-blown modules I've read - without this section, the doomspeakers would feel like a cardboard cutout cult; with it, they come into their own as a distinct entity. Fans of Midgard should be aware of the sidebox that contains information on the cult in Midgard. Kudos for the inspired writing here!



The supplement also sports 2 new magic items - the bone whip, which is nice and the primal doom - these items can be thrown at foes, conjuring forth the very worst fears of the target, with the save influencing the particular CR of the doom called forth. Nasty and a cool storytelling device. The pdf also sport a new spell, the Doom of Ancient Decrepitude, which temporarily ages all targets, including the caster, while in the area - a nasty debuff indeed, and one that can have fatal consequences - be sure to take a look at the SRD-page, btw. - the spell's text carries over to this page.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to a modification of Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with the borders evoking the theme of the gorgeous front cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jeff Lee's Doomspeakers were the Demon Cult I was least excited about - it is a personal preference, but I simply enjoy less obvious black and white morality more. That, and I'm quite frankly burned out on evil demon cults that are evil for evil's sake. I was positively surprised by the rather intriguing hooks for the sue of the doomspeakers, which help bringing the straight builds for the NPCs into a given campaign - they provide a depth I honestly did not expect to find. At the same time, however, I couldn't help but feel like the Demon Cult could have used a tad more elements to set it distinctively apart. What remains here would be a very straightforward cadre of vile opponents, foes worthy of radiant heroes. In the hands of a lesser author, the doomspeakers could have been a textbook example of evil blandness, but Jeff Lee's inspired and exceedingly detailed hooks set them apart and improve this book to a point where I'm considering this to be a worthwhile addition to a campaign.



The unique spell and items further help establishing a unique identity and manage to do an admirable job within the confines of this pdf. Now personally, I would have liked a tad bit more unique tricks for the cult - more distinct, exclusive crunch to set them apart more. The primal doom, for example, is a great narrative device and adding some special qualities to the creatures called, perhaps via a modular template, would have been the icing on the cake. As written, this pdf remains a surprisingly good installment and clocks in at a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Cults 2: Doomspeakers
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So What's The Human Called, Anyway? III
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2015 03:30:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third of the name-generators for humans clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, let's get this out of the way - this not something fancy, it's a name-generator, with 3 columns per page. Each column sports 50 entries: 50 male names, 50 female names and 50 place names, meaning that, as far as nomenclature goes, you'll have quite an array of choices at your command.



We receive one table of African names, one devoted to Arabic names and one for Chinese names. Beyond these, Japanese names, Italian names, Spanish and Slavic names and even South American names are covered - the latter sporting a peculiarity in that they explain the meaning of the nick names the third column features- an entry would for example read: "Ixtelolohtli, Brown Eyes." Wait, didn't I say "place names? well, the Chinese, Slavic and Italian tables instead provide 50 surnames to account for the peculiarity of their linguistic conventions.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - with the exception of one entry, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a crisp 3-column standard for the tables that is very printer-friendly. The pdf comes in two versions - one intended for the printer and one for screen-use. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Now, as some of you may know, I learn languages as one of my hobbies and have a pretty easy time acquiring new ones; that being said, I have to admit to not being able to judge whether all of the names herein are "right" in their respective languages. I did not notice a mayor hiccup or the like that felt "wrong" in a given table - and hey, that's about all you could expect from a name-generator, right? Well, personally, and this is only the language-nerd in me, I think pronunciation guidelines for each table would have been the icing on the cake - you know, like "x" is pronounced like a "sh" here... The like. Yes, I'm aware that no one but me and a minority would care. Still, I would have loved to see that.



Another potential issue might be that the pdf could have provided family etc. in lieu of places names, sticking closer to the premise of the title of this pdf, but again, this is a mostly cosmetic gripe.

Barring any valid gripes against this pdf, I will award Aaron Bailey's name-generators 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 - they do exactly what they say on the lid.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
So What's The Human Called, Anyway? III
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The Secrets of the Divine: Adventure, Earth, Magic, & Water (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2015 03:19:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second book detailing the diverse faiths and churches of Questhaven, the much-anticipated city of adventurers that doubles as Rite Publishing's default setting, clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The first of the deities (and associated churches) presented herein would be Our Grandfather of Water and Wave -within this write-up, we are introduced not only to this deity and the reason Questhaven does not field a standing navy, but also receive new feats - for example, significant bonus damage against foes significantly larger than you. Now I've been pretty much a proponent of unique tricks for faiths depending on domains, stand-alone bonuses and tricks that help distinguish faiths. A particular feat herein comes to mind here - expend 3 uses of destruction and water domain level 1-abilities (or subdomain) and watch as water forces its way down the throat of a target of your spells, attempting to drown the target. Now I've been pretty vocal in my disdain for the drowning mechanics, but a) the significant resource investiture and the second save as well as the significant, high-level prereqs make me consider this mechanically okay, in spite of its lethal power. The deity's church's rogues obviously also have some pirate-themed options, one of which deserves special mention: Gain an exotic animal which doubles as a familiar that shares rogue talents with you. Why is this cool? In my home campaign, most pirates ended up as ranger multiclass characters or straight rangers to have an animal companion they never really used. Love it! Trick fighting rogues should also enjoy the means to 3/day use improvised items as weapons. Wait, what? You can have that on a permanent basis, right? Well, yeah, but you can't usually use it to perform an AoO-less maneuver as a swift action. While there is some overlap with the feat here, I still consider this mechanically interesting, though the daily limit, while sound on a design perspective, feels in-game a bit clunky.



Beyond a depth-curse, we also get new archetypes - the Acetic of the Sea paladin, who loses all spell casting and also access to spell-trigger etc. items; instead, the archetype becomes immune to the conditions his mercies may alleviate and later become better swimmers. Higher level ascetics can supplement their bull rushes and drags with conjured waves, while the capstone is a beauty - it allows you to unleash a true maelstrom, causing massive damage and potentially even destroying vessels. The crunch here is complex and covers just about all of the bases - how it works within the logic of a planar cosmology, how swimming or vessels with sailors on it interact with it - I really enjoyed this ability, in spite of there being a superfluous "is" in one of the sentences. The 8th level ability to suppress morale benefits as well as detrimental fear effects makes for an interesting alternate buff/debuff aura as well.



The second deity would be Our Grandmother Earth - a deity much in the tradition of Gaia and similar fertility deities, yes, but with a surprising mercantile bent that provides, again, a subtle twist of a deity which could have ended up as generic, but surprisingly didn't. Among the supplemental material, we once again receive a massive domain-ability-investing feat akin to the drowning-trick mentioned above, this time lacing magic with serious acid damage - ouch! I am a HUGE fan of Rite Publishing's Legendary Curses, so to see the inclusion of a new one to punish those who violate the rules of hospitality brought a smile to my face. Archetype-wise, we get the Gleaners of the Hare monks - humble mendicants that receive scaling damage reduction, may select immunities to certain conditions and generally make for solid, defensive monks. One should mention that they receive a mettle-like ability. What's "mettle", you ask? Evasion for fort-and will-saves. No effects on successful saves. Combined with evasion, this makes them superb mage-slayers and yes, I have ranted time and again against how badly broken mettle is in the first place. But we're talking monk-class here. And honestly, whether regular or unchained, the poor class can damn well use this ability to suck less. On a nitpicky side, I noticed a cut-copy-paste error, referring to "inquisitor" as base class instead of monk.



Wardens of the Earth are lawful neutral paladins that focus on dealing with out...LANDERS. No, not a typo - it includes aberrations, non-native outsiders, undead and non-elemental creatures with the extraplanar subtype). Detect and smite works for those - which is okay. Where things get interesting is the option to choose each level whether to have lay on hands or touch of cruelty - this duality also extends to channel energy and mercies/cruelties, allowing you to portray changes in focus of your character pretty fluently without constant atonements. It should be noted that the resulting, more flexible class features lock out the archetype of a couple of optimization options by virtue of not being able to replace class feature x with z (since it has e.g. technically no mercy - class feature, only "Mercy or Cruelty") and on a nitpicky side, the pdf ought to specify that mercies/cruelties once chosen can't be simply switched around every time the change is made. On the awesome side, however, we do receive not only a fully detailed code of conduct, we also get 10 precepts, including days of fasting etc. - these are roleplaying gold in my book and really help the archetype feel unique beyond its duality; oh, and yes, "suffer not a outlander to live" is among them...ouch! In direct comparison, I really wished the ascetic of the sea had received this awesome level of detail.



Our Heavenly Archmage of Secrets represents a take on the magic-deity that should also be considered slightly unconventional - taking Vecna's propensity for secrets and separating it from the evil component, we add in a slice of Odin (The Rook Storm reports all the birds see to the Archmage...) and get a compelling mythological melting pot. Among the feats, we have the "Slap yourself"-feat, as it has been nicknamed in my group - a lore warden's reflexive option to make a target attack itself - and while the idea of "force takes weapon, attacks enemy" seems simple in theory, in practice there are a lot of things to take into account - like whether you're considered armed still, etc. - and the feat manages to cover those. Pretty impressive! Pretty cool - suppressing magic items of targets subject to your save-requiring spells - which is cool and ultimately, functional. On a nitpicky side, the pdf could have more organically specified that the suppression is not automatic, but rather requires you making a CL-check - as written, it looks like the effect is automatic, only to add the CL-caveat after that.



Archetype-wise, Magi may join the League of the Ruby Mongoose - these guys, much like prestige classes, require a certain array of prerequisites to classify as members - interesting choice! Instead of receiving a knowledge pool, the archetype may spend 1 arcane point to make a single attack as a standard action that "ignores all a foe's magic-based protections." The definition here would be "Armor Class bonuses, stoneskin, and so on." You don't have to be a rocket scientist to notice that this is exceedingly problematic - so, do enhancement bonuses of items qualify? Rings of protection? Magic-grown scales received by bloodlines etc.? While the ability gets interaction with reflexive spells like fire shield right, this ability and its ill-defined parameters stick out like a sore thumb among the otherwise well-defined class abilities provided in this book. Depending on how you read it (all magic vs. spells/spell-like abilities only), this could be one of the most broken abilities I've seen in a while. I sincerely hope this one will be properly re-defined. At high levels, one can essentially crit even uncritable foes 1/day with even higher power - over all, apart from the one issue, this is a nice idea. Next up would be the wizard archetype of the gemcaster trope. these wizards may scribe spells into gems and then subsequently use them as gem foci, learning to use them in lieu of material components and later, even instead of foci, with concise cost-breakdowns. Each school is assigned to one type of gem and the gems can be worn in a given magic item slot. The interesting piece herein would imho be the means of charging gem foci via the expenditure of spells to turn them into power gems, which provide power component-like benefits to the spells cast. To offset the power-gain this offers, beyond the increased flexibility, there also is a chance to burn out gems when using them thus. Mechanically, this turned out to be a surprisingly concise take on the trope of kind-of-metamagic-y-specialists, though honestly, while I appreciated the relative simplicity and elegance of the system, I just am not that blown away by this one; perhaps I've seen too many takes on this concept.



The final deity herein would be Our Laughing Traveler of Passages and Messages, who could be envisioned as a benevolent trickster deity somewhat akin to Cayden, but with a more distinct focus on traveling and exploration, suffused with a healthy dose of far eastern mythology - including a Son-Goku-like champion...oh, and a focus on moneylending, for a sprinkling of civilization and one of the most interesting concepts of e.g. the Abadarian chutch thrown in the mix. Rules-wise, rogues may join the Jaunters of Our Sovereign of Paths, which nets haunter's hop at first level as well as a pool to enhance her stealth. At higher levels, disposing of evidence and using said pool to supplement more skills also become possible. More relevant, though, would be the options to utilize said points at higher levels to supplement the potency of combat maneuvers or not provoke an AOO when performing such. On a nitpicky side, the ability does not specifically specify that bonuses to CMB are gained on a point-by-point basis. The interesting component here, which sets this apart from e.g. the Glory Rogue and similar variants, would be that taking feats that nets bonuses to checks eligible for the Stealth pool bonuses also increases the pool size by an amount equal to the bonus granted, allowing you to stack such through the roof. This makes rogues actually VERY competent at their chosen field and while it would probably be OP for other classes, with the rather weak rogue chassis, it imho works. The archetype also sports a significant array of complex rogue talents that are themed around utilizing a second pool, one that grants essentially motes of teleportation movement - from reflexive blinks versus crits and lethal attacks to imprisonment of willing targets for easy extraplanar prisoner transportations up to reflexive dimensional anchors, the array of unique abilities powered by this archetype is glorious. Have I mentioned the powerful options at high levels to force teleport foes into e.g. the hearts of active volcanoes and similar, deadly places or the gravitational, nasty vortex that may draw foes in? Yeah, this archetype's array of unique tricks would have been enough for a whole alternate class and while powerful, plays like a damn cool take on the actually competent, unique magical rogue. I adore this archetype!



The CG Rebel Champion paladin is pretty straight-forward in comparison, being focused on fighting particular organizations and thus also changes the targets of their smite evil. Solid, but after the jaunter, not as mind-boggling.



The pdf closes with a DM's introduction to the themes and design rationales behind Questhaven - useful to read and note and also a nice peek behin the designer's curtain here.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are, on a formal level, not perfect, but on a rules-level, paradoxically, far better than most supplements that tackle concepts of this complexity. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and sports evocative, original b/w-artwork as well as full color symbols of the deities covered. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



I have a certain mindset when I dig a Rite Publishing-book from my pile - usually, after just finishing a massive crunch-book that was as dry a read as summer in the Sahara. Rite Publishing's books are good reads - the in-character prose, character quotes etc. make analyzing crunch books much more compelling - and, more often than not, it is in the small tidbits that the books shine - a mythological hint here, a quote there - and boom, you have your adventure hook, your inspiration. For all intents, I should have been terribly bored by this book - yet another supplement with deities that, by necessity of domains et al., fill certain niches? Well, I wasn't - mainly to the mythcrafting being familiar, yes, but also distinct. The devil is in the details and one can see that here. In the hands of a less gifted writer than rite Publishing's overlord Steven D. Russell, these deities could have been boring. Here, they shine.



What drew me as a customer to Rite Publishing, even in the pioneer days of pathfinder, though, was the unwillingness to provide material that is "okay" -Rite Publishing's supplements tend to be as high-concept as they come, with the vast majority being all about capturing some iconic, unique imagery with crunch, not just recombining existing pieces. Heck, the magic items with scaling DCs based on character level that are pretty much a standard today? Saw that first in a Rite Publishing supplement. This pdf, ultimately, follows in this tradition. The jaunter archetype is damn cool, the design-decisions taken here and there are unique and still, after all this time, I feel the sense of jamais-vu here and there, a fresh wind blowing from these pages. So if you enjoy high-concept material that can easily be integrated into a campaign, material that can make deities more useful - or if you need some design-inspiration, then be sure to check this out.



Not all is glitter and bunnies, though - while, for most of the time, this pdf's rules-language is concise to a point where one can readily see vast design-experience at work, wordings which cover all the bases I'd usually nitpick apart, there are some minor botches spread throughout the supplement; for the most part, these represent cases where the wording would have benefited from a slightly more concise flow or from being slightly more specific, but there are a few instances herein, where this, alas, impedes the functionality of some components slightly. While these blemishes are few and far in-between considering the page-count, they do conspire alongside the slightly higher amount of typo-level glitches than usual for a Rite Publishing book to drag this slightly down - not by much, mind you - this is still a damn cool supplement, but by enough to make me settle on a final verdict of 4 stars - with the caveat that, for me personally, the jaunter alone is worth the fair asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Divine: Adventure, Earth, Magic, & Water (PFRPG)
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The Gadgeteer: Mother of Invention [PFRPG & D&D 3.5]
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2015 06:16:28
AN ENdzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This massive, highly-customizable, complex base-class by Interjection Games is 38 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 35 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The gadgeteer-class gets d8, proficiency with medium armor and shields as well as simple weapons, hammers (light war- and lucerne), 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills per level and no good saves. Yeah, all slow progression -how come? The answer is simple: At first level a gadgeteer chooses one of 3 so-called professional angles - essentially a set of skills that are added to the list of class skills. Beyond that, each professional angle corresponds to one save, which then becomes the good save of the class, with the regular good save progression as noted in the class table's professional angle save entry. Nice idea for some basic customization here. To represent a wide array of expertise, 5th level and every 4 levels after that net the class Skill Focus: Knowledge (any) as a bonus feat



Gadgeteers of 2nd level also get a bonus to saves against mechanical traps and a bonus to AC versus their attacks that scales up to +5, and yes, this potentially stacks with trap sense. At 11th level, the gadgeteer also gets essentially evasion against traps as long as she/he is not under the effects of int damage/drain or wearing too heavy armor. Now onwards to the central feature, the gadgets - Gadgeteers need to have 10+ total amount of structure points of the respective item, with saves per default being 10 + 1/2 class level +int-mod. There are two types of blanks for gadgeteers: Custom weapon and custom accessory blanks. Each blank starts with 2 structure points assigned to it. The total amount of structure points per blank increases by +1 at 3rd level and 7th level and every 4 levels after that.

Accessory blanks can be enhanced via add-ons (which depend on the item) and custom weapons have three types of enhancements: Offensive, defensive and addon: Each custom weapon can only have one enhancement per type, i.e. no two defensive customizations on one weapon. In order to improve a weapon, a gadgeteer needs to be proficient with it and apart from that, anything, from mundane to artifact-level may be enhanced by the gadgeteer. HOWEVER, in order to retain a weapon's enhancement bonus, a number of SP equal to the weapon's enhancement bonus need to be expended, thus meaning that powerful weapons are harder to modify. Special weapon abilities may also be retained, with the cost of SP being equal to the ability's enhancement bonus equivalent. If the points are not expended, the weapon counts as simply masterwork and yes, flat-price enchantments are covered as well. Bonuses and penalties incurred only feature into the equation when actively wielded. The preparation of these gadgets follows much the same rules as the prepared spellcasting of spellcasters, i.e. 8 hours rest + preparation time. Daily uses, if applicable, are also reset thus. It should be noted that custom weapons take a full 8-hour slot to assemble/disassemble.

So far, so (relatively) linear - additional blanks (either accessory OR weapon!) are gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter up to 16th level, though a gadgeteer may never have more than 4 blanks of a given type. At 2nd level, gadgeteers get access to a second pool of SP - 1/2 class level + int-mod. These can be used to further modify blanks that already have their SP expended.



Finally, at 20th level, the gadgeteer may chose from one of 6 different capstones - so-called masterpieces, which can come as a bonus to saves and an attribute via a self-performed operation. More interesting would be a filtration-unit that can fire adamantine needles that deal five points of attribute damage in addition to some base damage. Alternatively a 10d6/instant-destroying crystallization-spray (cool idea, but why not follow the extreme-damage-formula of most PFRPG-death effects?) or contact lenses that provide a fire-damage dealing gaze attack, 3/day rerolls via talking to alternate reality versions of oneself, while universal lubricants can add +20 to checks rolls against grapples, cancel entanglement/staggered conditions and autotrips anything trying to pass over it.



We also get favored class options for the core-races, aasimar, tieflings, kobolds, puddlings, hobgoblins and drow and 3 feats for the class: Extra Parts increases your spare parts pool gained at second level by +1. Jury-rigging allows you to McGuyver your way out of tight situations - each accessory gadget has materials - as long as these are available, you may scrap one of your accessories (or use a blank if you have one) and spontaneously recreate one accessory of your liking at a -2 SP-penalty. This takes 1 minute per SP-cost and can be done only to one accessory per day. Finally, quicker custom weapon assembly/disassembly is possible.



Speaking of custom weapons - a total of 3 pages are devoted to the list of custom weapon modifications, providing type, SP-cost, prerequisites and effects at one handy look before going into details. So what do these do? Well, let's take the first cluster of abilities - via diverse alchemical procedures, weapons can grant +2 to Str, Dex, Con, damage or +1 to hit - all with different requirements regarding the necessary ranks in Craft (alchemy). None too wowed, well, as always with Interjection Games' classes, there are some abilities here that make use of more obscure rules - there is for example a berserker button - pressing this declares the next attack with the weapon a smite (unfortunate nomenclature there), which, when hitting a construct, nets it a significant chance to from there on go berserk. Especially tinkers or machinesmiths will learn to hate this one, I'd wager! You can also add e.g. +1 bleed damage for -2 to AC, +1 AC for -1 to initiative or make your weapon a charge-deterrent.



The weapon can also net you AoOs at -4 (reducing the penalty at higher levels) against charges made against you. Increasing CMD or CMB, a capsule that releases 1 minutes worth of breathable air, adding a battery to a weapon that deals additional damage (untyped, probably should have either the weapon's type or deal electricity damage) when expending charges (or later, lesser damage sans charges...) or ignoring partially miss chances and damaging incorporeal foes - quite some options here. Adding small cones of elemental damage is also possible, as would be easier hiding of weapons via sleight of hand, absorbing up to gadgeteer level points of physical damage. Elemental batteries can provide resistance at the cost of minor penalties to saves against other elemental attacks. You can also have your weapon mimic the energy you're damaged by, hurl balls of energy, react to energy damage by gaining temporarily fast healing - thankfully with a minimum amount of damage. *packs away the bag of elementally-infused kittens* What about adding a hamster-powered light to your weapon? Yes, the class is suffused by cool, unobtrusive humor like this. Beyond expanded threat ranges, adding int-mod instead of str to weapon damage (also relevant for composite bows now using int) is another option available to the gadgeteer. The Kinetic Potential Conversion unit may act either offensively, defensively or both, allowing you to gain charges by being damaged physically and using this momentum either offensively or defensively - depending on which version you chose. While in theory, you could get 1-damage-dealing dire-kitten-adversaries and fast heal/regenerate/orison-cure, the limited bonuses granted don't make this strategy rewarding.



Laser Sights added to ranged weapons allow you to make a standard attack action at +4 to hit and you can tie weapons to your hand via leather straps, gain SR, mental/physical poisons...and there is Mr. Thingy. What's that, you ask? Well, it's a gadget that temporarily adds a random condition to foes hit by your weapon upon the expenditure of a charge - said conditions upgrade over the levels, getting a second table and more rolls. And yes, fear-based ones count as mind-affecting - nice catch!

Rerolling mind-affecting saves at +2 DC, adding a weapon's enhancement bonus again as an insight bonus to damage or as enhancement bonus to AC, immunity to mundane splash weapons (alchemist bombs are still a problem), incurring bleed damage to cancel out poisons/diseases on a successful save...there are some rather unique tricks here. Take for example one particular gadget that converts your weapon's damage to positive energy, thus healing the person hit (at decreased potency at range to maintain balance) - cool idea as a minor support healer, though limited by charges. What about a gadget that turns the weapon to creature-type bane for the day upon hitting the first creature? Or gadgets that penalize natural attacks/unarmed attack by dealing thorny retribution damage? Increased combat maneuver bonuses? There are A LOT of customization options here, especially when taking into account that magical weapons can be enhanced with these, stacking further damage upon them - oh, and the revision now also covers interaction with special weapon abilities...so yeah, combo away!



A total of 13 accessories are presented, each with its own custom set of add-ons - take adhesive strips: a total of 10 add-ons can be added to the strips and they can be used to repair objects, weapons and be used to improvise weapons - sans add-ons. With them, they can be sued to tape shut the mouth of adversaries (including bleed damage upon removal for bearded adversaries) and yes, even the fixing of constructs and complex devices, glue foes/objects to walls, improvise ammunition, entangling taped foes, or add bleed damage and further increase the efficiency of improvised weapons. As mentioned, each entry of add-ons etc. comes with materials for true Mcguyver-scrapping AS WELL AS information whether or not it can be jury-rigged.



What about a chemical dispenser that can be used to render alchemical items useless but also alternatively increase their potency? On the interesting side, the add-ons allow the dispenser to negate e.g. the effects of glitterdust, blinding powder etc. or makes the dispenser dissolve unattended inorganic objects (why no damage for constructs/items?) or temporarily grant DR, but receive the damage after that (but not below 0) via Titan.-(Arkham City, anyone?)



Next up would be Cigars - these come with an integrated micro-camera. Yes. Photography. No, I don't see an issue there -especially since info on cracking the micro black box is given -nice story-telling potential for espionage-themed scenes and in a world of excessive divination, I don't see this breaking the mood. On to the add-ons - Itching powder, knockout darts, especially noxious fumes, increased DCs to crack the box or detect it and yes, even a PARACHUTE (clamp down on the cigar...as tight as your mouth allows...) make this gadget awesome in every way.



More esoteric would be the Doppler Device, which provides concealment that can't be pierced by true seeing and may be extended to allies -that's about it, though. Only 3 modifications here. More are available for the energy bar compressor - these can turn food into energy bars that heal the persons eating them (or damage undead - yeah, death by snickers!) - but eating more than one causes indigestion (sickened!) sans save - nice bluffing potential here. Special animal bars that make handling them easier. If you don't want to spend ranks in profession (cook), you can use craft (metalworking) via add-ons instead and yes, you can make mushroom-bars that nauseate tricked adversaries via their disgusting food additives. This one has been upgraded in its potency a bit - good to see!



Extreme Vision Goggles can grant the gadgeteer low light vision and can be enhanced for a low-range fire-damage-dealing gaze attack and/or darkvision, increase saves versus blinding/dazzling effects (and resistance versus light-based spells), dazzle adversaries or help your sleuthing. The Facetome allows the gadgeteer to duplicate an adversary's face, producing very convincing disguises by pressing the mold first to the target to be copied and then to him/herself. Among the add-ons, "saving" one face for later use, gaining DR 5/- and further increasing disguise and bluff as well as distorting the face in a frightening manner are possible. I got a distinct clayface-vibe here - which is awesome as far as I'm concerned.



The Fist Cannon can be enhanced by elements, supercharge it and convey additional detrimental effects to those hit depending on the elemental damage chosen. Flare Guns can be used to create colored flares, burning and/or smoking flares and even add inhaled toxins to the smoke of the flare gun. All right, the next one had me chuckle - the joy buzzer allows the gadgeteer to daze foes with melee touch attacks, dealing electricity damage, send foes prone via the shock, stun or bull rush the target or reduce the target's movement rate. As a joker-fan, I really liked this one! The multifunctional pocketknife is all about utility, getting an inexhaustible supply of tindertwigs and one daily use of antitoxin (both of which can't be sold anymore), bonuses to open locks or disabling traps, ignoring the hardness of glass or reflect incoming rays with an opposing attack roll as a readied action or create mundane metal or wood items, raw materials provided, in one hour or extend to a 10-foot pole.



Sound Emitters are essentially remote-wired megaphones that can be augmented to deal sonic damage (including a dog whistle option that only damages animals, magical beasts and anthropomorphic humanoids like catfolk, canids, tengu etc.), longer wires, ear-drum rupturing blasts, damage to objects (and beings of glass/crystal) - name the sound-based mayhem, it's here. Something for dandys and femme fatales would be the stealth lipstick -poisonous like the kiss of Poison Ivy, the potency of the poison and which attribute it affects can be changed - as can the poison be made plant-based.



The final gadget would be the automated workhorse - while useless in combat, it can make your bed, cook etc. and thus delivers morale bonuses to those employing them. Functions can, via add-ons, be triggered at precise times and the morale bonus can be upgraded and even shared. It should be noted that all accessories come with add-ons that increase their uses/day - these can be taken multiple times, limited by the class level of the gadgeteer.



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are up to Interjection Games standards now - the beta-terminology hiccups and remnants have been cleared up. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and artwork is thematically fitting stock art. The revised edition has no bookmarks, which renders navigation of the massive class less comfortable than it ought to be.



Ahhh, Interjection Games classes - there are none quite like them out there. With the notable exception of Morgan Boehringer's Direlock, none take me as long to review as mastermind Bradley Crouch's beasts (looking especially at you, Ethermancer and Mechgineer!), and there's a reason for that - they have a lot of customization-options, are complex and never simple in their math. That being said, my primary gripes with them tend to be minor instances where things are handled slightly differently than in comparable spells/maneuvers etc. Then I started looking in-depth at this one...and was honestly surprised.



Why? Well, most classes are centered on combat. This one is not. Yes, it has combat capabilities, yes, fiddling with one's customized weapons is fun. But honestly, the class is simply not that awesome in combat and after Tinker, Herbalist and especially Ethermancer, I somewhat expected another class with such a focus. Still, the spark did not really ignite me - the weapon customizations are nice, yes, but the gadgeteer is generally is decidedly not about inflicting max damage.



It's not intended to. Its only restrictions to what it can do are the skill ranks/levels required, which means each gadgeteer has an incredible amount of things to do/jury-rig - and these, especially the accessories, can be summed up as "Batman's Rogue's Gallery's Gadgets - the Class" - which honestly hits a VERY soft spot of mine. I'm a total Batman fanboy and from cigar-parabols to buzzers, the gadgeteer makes for a superb gimmick-based agent-type character. Will the gadgeteer shine in every campaign/environment? No. While not a bad choice in dungeon-crawls, the class is simply not that geared towards hacking and slashing everything apart, instead providing ample thoroughly unique options that have been lacking in the game so far. In short, it does something defiantly new in its focus on the ROLEplaying, with multiple options requiring smarts of not only the character, but also the player. If you're into espionage/investigation-modules, this should be considered a required purchase. The gadgeteer makes for a great support character that has its best moments to shine beyond the tawdry concerns of combat - and it is, at least in my opinion, that is what makes it great.



The gadgeteer's revision sees full blown magic item synergy for an influx in power, has gotten rid of the formal glitches that hounded the first iteration and, by now, has had some underpowered options upgraded. The superb expansion should be considered a must-have supplement for the class, as, without it, I still retain a certain sense of the class needing something more. As written, though, the base class as such now works well and breathes unique concepts. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for this revised edition.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gadgeteer: Mother of Invention [PFRPG & D&D 3.5]
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The Sanguine Disciple - A Maneuvers Base Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2015 06:03:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base-class, commissioned by Preston Mitchell, clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page b/w-version of front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Sanguine Disciples receive 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, all melee martial weapons dealing slashing/piercing damage (including all weapons that deal either as part of their damage), light and medium armor and shields. They may cast sanguine disciple spells while wearing these armors + shield without incurring arcane spell failure. Okay, so spellcasting is VERY odd at first glance - sanguine disciples are spontaneous casters and cast their spells not governed by Cha, as one would expect, but by Con. Sanguine Disciples may cast each spell they know exactly once per day and learn new spells for high con-mods, akin to how the Composition Magic-system handles spellcasting. At 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the sanguine disciple may retrain a spell. As a special component of the spellcasting, the spells deal damage equal to their spell-level to the sanguine disciple upon being cast - I assume after the respective casting, but on a nitpicky side, that ought to be specified to prevent concentration-confusion.



At 1st level, the sanguine disciple chooses a bloodsong and at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and every two levels thereafter, the sanguine disciple learns an additional bloodsong. Now here is the rules-modification that makes a blood-themed class work in the first place - bleed effects generated by bloodsongs stack their bleed damage, thus directly contradicting the bland way bleed works in vanilla PFRPG. No, not going to complain about that. I've been pretty vocal in my praise for TPK Games' Laying Waste's design decision to get rid of the stacking-prohibition of bleed damage. Wounding weapons also are taken into account, but thankfully, all other bleed effects do not stack with them, preventing a pretty obvious potential problem.



Bloodsongs are grouped into 4 categories: Builders have a cost to activate and generate one focus, a resource required to activate a finisher. A focus lasts for up to 1 minute before it vanishes and can be stacked - the maximum amount of foci a sanguine disciple can thus have would be 10.

Finisher bloodsongs have a focus needed-line, which mentions the minimum required focus to activate the finisher - and upon executing a finisher, focus is set back to 0. So no focus-hoarding. Harmonies grant a double-edged bonus/penalty and once activated, cannot be dismissed - they need to run their course. only one harmony can be in effect at a given time. Resonances are constant abilities that are always in effect and do not require a cost to activate.



There are two ways to pay for these bloodsongs - number 1 would be to reduce con by the bloodsong's blood point cost for 1 minute. This is not damage or drain and thus cannot be healed by any means. At 2nd level, the sanguine disciple also receives a blood pool with a maximum size of 2 + 1/2 class level. This pool's points can be used to pay the cost for bloodsongs without incurring the Con-reduction. When the sanguine disciple reduces a creature suffering from an ongoing bleed effect to 0 hp or lower, the sanguine disciple regains 1 blood point. And yes, the ability comes with an HD-cap, thus rendering it non-kitten-able. Nice! The blood pool also replenishes upon resting. Btw., in case you don't want to do the simple blood pool size math, the table also sports a column that lists the maximum pool size for each level.



At 1st level, the sanguine disciple also receives a so-called sanguine relic - -this is a martial weapon that doubles as a bonded object. The weapon can be enhanced with a specific list of weapon special abilities. The sanguine disciple can have his relic "eat" other magical items, paying thus for the enhancement of the weapon. Changing relics etc. is also covered.



Now if you've checked respective creatures, there are certain types/subtypes that are immune to bleed damage - enter the 5th level ability everything bleeds, which allows you to choose a creature type/subtype and ignore bleeding immunity for the type. An additional creature type/subtype can be chosen at 11th and 17th level. Now personally, I consider the attached template a bit of a trap for inexperienced players, mainly because some choices are obviously much, much more potent than others - constructs and undead, for example, universally have immunity to bleed, whereas none of the other choices (yes, including oozes/aberrations!) receive automatic immunity to bleed damage per their creature type. From the top of my head, I couldn't mention a single creature of the animal type that is immune to bleed. However, outsiders and humanoids have a pretty fine-grained distinction, whereas a bunch of subtypes (like the bleed-immune behemoth or kami) are not per default covered as their own entry. Now yes, there is a 12th level bloodsong that nets you 2 blood points when defeating a creature of the chosen type and the drow's FCO, which nets +1/3 dodge bonus to AC against the chosen type, but that's about all the additional reasoning I can find for some of these. Don't get wrong - I can easily make creatures bleed-immune as a DM - that's what templates and similar tricks are for. Still, inexperienced players may receive a bit of a hamper to their fun here if they make a bad choice.



At 7th level, whenever an ongoing bloodsong-caused bleed-effect receives magical healing, the healer must succeed a DC 10 + 1/2 Sanguine Disciple level + Con-mod level check - on a failure, the healing only halves the bleed effect's damage. Now personally, I think that the Heal skill check should also receive an increasing DC - per default, bleed can be ended at a fixed DC 15 check - not terribly relevant in combat, but still - feels like an oversight to me.



High level abilities include immunity to bleed damage, DR reduction equal to ongoing bleed effects and the powerful option to halve the potency of magical healing, fast healing and regeneration. The class receives FCOs for the core races, aasimars, tieflings, drow, orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds and puddlings. They are generally nice. There also are two new feats - one for an extra bloodsong and one that nets you a secondary bloodpool of 2 points - it can only be used when wielding the sanguine relic AND can only be replenished by resting. This pool can be further increased.



The spell-lists take all big Paizo hardcovers into account and feel pretty well-balanced...but let's get on to what you've all been waiting for, the bloodsongs.



Generally, bloodsongs tend to have level-restrictions and a few of them also sport minor feat/skill prereqs or a minimum number of bloodsongs known, but ultimately, these are pretty easy to qualify for.



Now as mentioned before, resonances are constantly in effect - and include aforementioned better blood point generation, temporary boosts to knowledge skill checks, treating 1s of bleed damage rolled as 2s etc. The interesting thing about them would be the inherent combo potential - receiving e.g. a temporary luck bonus when willingly reducing your Con to pay for bloodsong activation should be considered interesting. Automatically fatiguing creatures suffering from bleed damage while within 10 feet of you also can be considered an interesting tactical option. Receiving a temporary blood point for 1 round upon being critically hit also can be considered a nice way to exert vengeance on your foes. Now where things become pretty interesting would be with the builders - for example, temporarily increasing your movement rate by a +30-feet enhancement bonus, adding demoralization to bleed or immediate action-based dodge bonuses all provide a diverse array of tricks that can be easily crafted into a nice skirmishing/combo-potential. Replacing the spell's usual damage to the sanguine disciple with healing can also be found.



On the harmony-side, Bloodletter Savant also can be considered an interesting bloodsong - it doubles the effects of bleed, but suspends the effects of the laceration class abilities. Here, a minor glitch has crept in - the bloodsong refers to jagged lacerations, a class ability that does not exist and probably has been renamed persistent lacerations. A somewhat unfortunately named rage called "Bloodrage" is cool. Bloodsongs dealing attribute-damage, exsanguinating blasts...quite a few very interesting options. For example, 10th level sanguine disciples can learn to enter a harmony that lets you no longer provoke AoOs, but also prohibits you from executing any yourself - very powerful skirmisher option! Another harmony would also be interesting - it increases speed and morale bonuses, but increases the penalty the character receives when frightened, shaken, etc. What about drawing weapons and executing retributive attacks with the weapon as an immediate action? A curse-like effect that spreads bleed to other creatures is also interesting and receiving reflexive, shrapnel-like blood is also pretty awesome in imagery. What about ending bleed effects in favor of a fiery burst?



Extremely important for low level sanguine disciples: TAKE THE SANGUINE HUNGER, spasmatic influence or a similar level 1 builder bloodsong as soon as possible. Why? because it's a builder that allows you to deal bleed damage with your sanguine relic - without it, low level sanguine disciples may be stranded without means of causing bleed damage - on which almost all abilities are based.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not as good as in most Interjection Games' releases - I noticed some minor issues. Layout adheres to Interjection Games 2-column b/w-standard with thematically fitting stock-art. The pdf comes with full, nested bookmarks for your convenience.



This base-class is very much exciting - its complex resource-management game and skirmishing are a playstyle I very much enjoy and the relatively powerful options and stacking combos you can pull off with these guys can be rather impressive. That being said, the class does have its downsides, which boil down that one can very much see the iterations this class went through - author Bradley Crouch's gift at making finely-entwined, complex systems that allow for awesome combos can be seen in the bloodsongs. The class itself, on the other hand, feels like a slightly disjointed chassis for the system, rendering the sanguine disciple less user-friendly than usual for Interjection Games. See, usually, the difficulty of Interjection Games' systems stems from grasping the system in the first place and then mastering it - which is also the reason these reviews take me so long. Not so here - with the notable exception of the edgewalker, the sanguine disciple can be considered one of the most simple base classes released by Bradley Crouch. - everything bleeds vastly fluctuating effectiveness would be one rough edge. One, I think, that can be explained. At one point, the class feature probably had additional effects that were re-assigned/changed. And then there's the very real possibility that a careless player may be stranded without access to bleed-damage at low levels. This particular problem is pretty nasty in my book and not an issue any of the other Interjection games-classes share - why not put a class feature that is required for just about everything in the non-optional part of the class? Yes, careful reading and properly understanding the class does help mitigate this, but my argument remains.



Now don't get me wrong - in playtesting, this issue did not come up at my table - why? Because my players are *very* experienced. In the hands of a novice, the class can be pretty sucky - but in the hands of my players, it was a very fun melee skirmisher with some rather nasty, unique options and glorious flavor. But that may just be my inclination towards anything blood magic-related gushing like a fanboy. The diverse stacking options very much are thematically awesome and the sanguine disciple will fit perfectly into more gritty campaigns. Which brings me to another interesting fact the playtest spat out - the class fits thematically and mechanically perfectly with TPK Games' Laying Waster critical hit-enhancing book - they share a propensity for stacking bleed and visceral imagery that blend together surprisingly well. Additionally, with the more numerous options to cause bleed that laying waste offers, it is harder to build yourself into a dead end. Hence, for campaigns using that book, I very much recommend the sanguine disciple, provided the player has enough experience.



Now the decision on how to rate this one has been exceedingly hard for me - for the class works in play. Pretty well, actually. I *love* the system and I am not kidding when I'm saying that this is my favorite martial system since Dreadfox Games' Swordmaster. Bloodsongs ooze style (haha...I'm sorry. I'll hit myself later...) and practically demand expansion. Indeed, I could envision the whole bloodsystem as provided herein work for a diverse array of classes. Then again, the class is rougher around the edges than what I'm accustomed to by Interjection games, it feels slightly less refined and, much like the gadgeteer back in the day (before its awesome expansion!), like it could have used some additional tools at its disposal. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars - novices should round down, whereas experts and rounds utilizing Laying Waste should definitely round up and give the class a shot. While I usually round up in such cases, my official reviewer's rating here will round down, in spite of me really liking the class (and, as mentioned, as a person, I'd round up) - the blemishes can be pretty nasty.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Sanguine Disciple - A Maneuvers Base Class
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Mini-Dungeon #004: Summoner's Remorse
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/05/2015 06:00:22
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.



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. Got that? Great!



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



Still here?

All right!



Okay, so recently, villagers have been kidnapped by a nefarious cult, HEL-bent (haha) on rescuing a dark naga from the limbo of HEL via terrible human sacrifice. The mini-dungeon kicks off by a maddened villager slitting his throat in front of the PCs, thus conjuring forth scarab swarms - 3 scarab stones need to be destroyed in the complex to thwart the scarab swarm-controlling cult in a surprisingly atmospheric, dark module that has an atmosphere I did not expect to see in this series.



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.



Justin Andrew Mason pushes the boundaries of the series in this module, providing a rather atmospheric, awesome mini-dungeon for your perusal - from cool adversaries to nasty atmosphere, solid challenges and a sense of urgency, this one delivers more than a file of its length conceivably has a right to - excellent job, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #004: Summoner's Remorse
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Dragon Companion Handbook
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2015 07:41:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, this is another pdf that puts dragons in the hands of players. My dislike for this very concept is by now probably widely known, so rest assured that I am not a fan of the very concept this book is based. My first thought here was simply that I did not want to do the vast amounts of math - but hey, I guess I'm pretty much a pro regarding reviews, so I swallowed my own inclinations like a man and opened the pdf. On the first page, the pdf immediately alleviated my very first concern - overlap. Rogue Genius Games has provided the Dragonrider and Dracomancer base classes, Rite Publishing the option to play a dragon as a player-race with In the Company of Dragons - all of which are excellent products ad this pdf acknowledges this and does NOT try to wilder in their areas of expertise - plus, pointing them out to potential customers is a great example of 3pp-camraderie.



A quick glance at the pdf's pages does show that the dragon race as used herein clocks in at 33 RP - and even though the RP-value from the ARG is anything but reliable, more than thrice the RP of humans should drive home the notion that yes, even small dragons are powerful and as presented herein, only should be used as PCs in the most high-powered of games.



So what, if not that, does this pdf cover? Well, dragon companions. Dragons as cohorts (including synergy with the glorious leadership handbook.). Dragons receive the following racial traits: +2 Str and Cha, 30 ft. speed, 30 ft. fly speed (average), start off as small, get darkvision and low-light vision, +2 natural armor and a bite and 2 claw attacks at 1d4 and 1d3, respectively. As a nitpick, I would have liked them to specify whether these are primary or secondary natural weapons - and yes, I am aware of the default-rulings here, but not having to look it up is always better than searching for the info. Breath weapons are either 60-ft. lines or 30 ft. cones and have a save DC of 10 + level + con-mod. Per default, the breath weapon can be used 1/day. Now why would dragons accompany those puny, squishy, scale-less murder hobos? Simple: Power-gain. The rationale is genius: Dragons doze all the time, slowly gaining power. The issue is that young dragons will have a hard to impossible time to defeat older dragons - so some opt to become "sleepless." These dragons may scorn the traditions of their ancestors (thus coming with built-in reasons for dragons to try to take the PCs and their cohorts out...) and thus accompany e.g. PCs for power and protection. Dragons, as detailed here, are organized in septs, something chosen at 1st level.



Each sept modifies the racial traits - from subtypes to movement rate modification to the breath weapon and the additional qualities, these septs provide surprisingly well-balanced ability-modifications - Brass dragon septs get, for example fire immunity...but also cold vulnerability. And yes, I could break them down, sept by sept - but know what? That would bloat this review beyond compare. Why? Because they ALL are covered. Chromatics and metallics are obviously covered - but so are brine and cloud dragons, lunar dragons, magma dragons, time dragons, vortex dragons - honestly, I had forgotten about the existence of some of the more esoteric among these. Beyond these, favored class options, including the ACG-classes, the Occultist, the superb technician (from Age of Electrotech) and e.g. the mystic from Amora's Liber Influxus Communis yes, an age, height and weight-table.



There also is a dragon racial paragon-class - which receives d12, 6+Int skills per level, no proficiencies beyond natural weapons (but do not take arcane spell failure when wearing light armor once you become proficient in it), all good saves, good BAB-progression, spontaneous sorc/wiz-spells via Cha of up to 4th level, natural armor +1 at 4th level, +1 at 9th, 13th and 18th level and, of course, attribute and size modifications throughout the levels obtained. Draconic powers not gained via the chosen sept are instead gained via the draconic heritage class feature at 1st, 3rd and every 6 levels thereafter. Frightful presence is its separate entity and need not be chosen. At 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the draconic paragon also receives a bonus-feat, one to be chosen from those with the [dragon]-descriptor. Finally, the class receives scaling DR, blindsense etc. It should be noted that the heritages themselves can be approximately likened to bloodlines, orders etc. in that they offer bonus spells, modifications of abilities and linear ability-progressions over the levels - as well as a unique capstone for each heritage, often in the guise of very powerful SPs. And yes, unique effects can be found herein - the red dragon paragon for example, learns to melt stone at 15th level - with different effects when e.g. targeting the floor or the ceiling, potentially grounding e.g. flyers hit by the lava. And yes, the complex wordings such abilities require are delivered with the trademark, almost Zen ease I have come to enjoy from Alexander Augunas' writing.



Want to know what's even cooler? These heritages double as bloodlines for the purposes of qualifying for certain abilities, PRCs, feats, etc. - but only, obviously, for the draconic bloodline. As a drawback, a heritage locks you out of certain options - like non-dragon bloodlines. So this massive section covers the cohort option - but this is, after all, the COMPANION handbook - and as such, the handbook also provides a companion-like treatment - with level-based advancement stats for every one of the huge amount of dragons provided, including, of course, the massive 20-level table for your convenience's sake. Now a handy table explaining subtypes is nice - a table that handles aging and even age regression and the effects on dragons? That is one-step-beyond level of care.



Now I have already talked about there being a significant array of (dragon)-feats to modify your draconic companion. Speaking of which - how do you get one? Easy, via a concisely defined feat that acts as a tax for the obviously superior power of a dragon companion over a non-dragon companion - and before you ask: Yes, the feat has a rank-based limit that prevents a character from achieving easy dragon-based flight at 1st level - as mentioned in the beginning, there are classes for that and sticking to its guns is pretty smart for the book, as it allows for a proper balancing that e.g. dragonrider etc. achieve via other means. Now, if you are playing e.g. a kobold or a dragon sans the paragon class and still want to benefit from a heritage, that s covered as well. Faster movement rates, breath weapons, camouflage - the feats are numerous and provide ample of choices. Wanna go dragons...in SPACE? There's a feat for that. Petrifying foes dropped to 0 hp? Superb ambush predator tricks? Yup, all there.



Conclusion:

editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches apart from e.g. a Special-line not bolded and similar cosmetic hiccups - those are few and far in-between, though. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original pieces of art by Jacob Blackmon are beautiful, with especially the dragonrider battling cthulhoid creatures IN SPACE being fantastic.



Alexander Augunas' Dragon Companion Handbook is one of those pdfs I dread - so much math, so many numbers. Making such a book must have been capital "W" work - and yet, this book breathes a very fresh and light spirit - surprisingly, this book feels very much easy to use, easy to grasp and balanced in an almost uncanny way. The companions herein work, mainly because they do not claim to be anything else - The dragonrider and dracomancer balanced the dragon via action economy; In the company of dragons did so via essentially radically redesigning the whole concept. Both succeeded in interesting ways. The Dragon Companion Handbook also succeeds in this endeavor by focusing on its design-goal. And yes, the book goes a step beyond and theoretically does allow for the full-blown super-high-power gameplay of these as characters, if that's the campaign you are going for; heck, even for low-level games, the linear codification of draconic abilities may allow for a finer grained way of balancing draconic adversaries to make them viable adversaries when vanilla bestiary dragons would be too much; one could conceivably even use the rules herein to create dragon/class/race-hybrids for adversaries.



Let me state that flat-out - I can't find fault with this book. For me, as a person, this book is 4 stars due to the reason that I just can't get myself to like the very concept this book caters to - dragons, to me, are the big, bad movers and shakers, not the adventuring pets, no matter how good or organic the rationale may be. As a reviewer, though, I have to admit the elegance of the design herein, the smooth flow of...everything and of course, the fact that this book triumphantly succeeds at what it sets out to do, including taking the intangible, non-math benefits into account, which I elaborated upon in "In the Company of Dragons"'s review. Which brings me to the point - the synergy is the final, shining star here, the last viable means of complaint I could have offered - and it is eliminated on the very first page. As a reviewer, I have to rate this 5 stars -and even if you're like me and loathe the concept, the scavenging of mechanics still renders this an excellent purchase, well-worth of your hard-earned bucks.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Companion Handbook
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Once Upon an Encounter: Red Riding Hood
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2015 07:40:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review



This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

I've you've been following my reviews, you may have noticed that I am quite versed with the folklore penned by the Brothers Grimm - not coincidentally. Beyond being a German, I grew up with *slightly* censured original tales, only to have the uncensored ones appeal even more to me when I became old enough to cope with the rather grisly details. Suffice to say, I never was a big fan of most Disney adaptations...

What series would hence be better suited as the first product I've reviewed by Flaming Crab Games?

So, what do we receive? Well, we obviously receive an encounter - but its set-up goes slightly beyond what one would expect: 3 different set-ups for the encounter are provided: From a cunning trap engineered by the wolf to stumbling upon the wolf's doing, the set-ups can be considered well-crafted and diverse/detailed enough, as far as hooks go.

Speaking of which - the solid statblock for the Big Bad Wolf, here envisioned as a CR 6 unique outsider (including, thankfully, swallow whole et al.) and the one provided for Red Riding Hood can be considered surprisingly fresh - the latter has been reimagined as a paladin...alas, as a conflicted one, for the lady suffers from the taint of the wolf, which makes her temper volatile and might cost her paladinhood, should she not manage to slay the dread beast. As such, the characters offer a dynamic I did not expect from the encounter set-up, so kudos for that!

Red's riding hood has been introduced as a shoulder-slot occupying item that helps the wearer to discern falsehoods and see through illusions, while also providing 1/day true seeing. Beyond that, there are two boxes with scaling DCs that should net some information for PCs actually doing proper legwork when tackling the challenge herein - a box for Red and the Wolf detail that.

So, let's get this out of the way - set-up-wise, this is a damn cool encounter and the builds for both Red and Wolf are nice. Alas, one can also perceive the distinct note of this being a first installment in the series in the finer details and the rough edges one can find with a fine-tooth comb. One example would be, alas, found in one of the cooler options herein - namely skinning the Big Bad Wolf to wear his pelt: While the survival DC to skin him is provided, the effect being specified as like that of a hat of disguise, the piece lacks the CL of the alter self effect. While just taking the default stats of the hat certainly is possible, it does detract from the coolness of the pelt. A higher CL and proper information on what slot the pelt occupies would certainly have been appreciated. The stomach can be salvaged as a bag of holding type II, but again no CL of unique effect is provided. I also like how the teeth can be used as power components, but they can also be used to cast transmutation spells at +1 CL - which is cool, but do they act as a focus or material component when used in conjunction with spells? I *love* the "unique monster-bit-scavenging" - in fact, I require the like for crafting in my homegame. However, at the same time, I would have loved this set-up to go slightly further and provide more unique benefits. On the nitpicky part, one survival check for skinning, stomach and teeth feels a bit much - separate DCs for the items would have made more sense to me, but that is me being nitpicky.

A second rough edge, imho, would be Red's cool, volatile temper - "Any time Red Hood perceives another’s words as insulting to herself, her honor or her goddess, she must make a DC 10 Will save or attack the speaker." While the pdf tells the DM to potentially raise/lower the DC, Red has a will-save of +8, meaning that chances are pretty slim for her to fail the save - depending on the DM's interpretation of "insulting to honor or goddess" she arguably might never blow up. Since the encounter already mentions that the taint's influence grows, why not add a timer and have the DC rise per day, with outbursts resetting the timer? In my book, that would have made the threat more dynamic and organic and provide DMs with a better base than their own fiat/bad luck.

Finally, there is one detracting component I need to mention - if you are looking for an interesting terrain set-up, some options to use weather, thickets etc. to render the encounter more complex, you won't find those here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, there is not much to complain about in this department. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly two-column standard with thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alex Abel and J. Gray deliver an encounter that turned out to be more inspired than I would have imagined. In fact, both the builds and the micro-story embedded in this encounter work quite well. Indeed, I love the monster-scavenging, the troubled paladin-take on Red etc. - this is a pretty nice offering indeed. Alas, it also suffers from some minor rough edges and falls short of its own potential - with some terrain modifications, slightly more defined and unique scavenging etc., this could have reached the highest echelons. As written, we receive a solid encounter with nice statblocks for just a buck. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price and due to being the first in the series. I'm looking forward to seeing how the product-line matures!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Once Upon an Encounter: Red Riding Hood
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Sidebar #1 - Shields as Cover
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2015 07:36:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Fat Goblin Games' sidebar-series clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 1 page of content, so what does it...



...no, I'm not gonna insult your intelligence by summing up a premise that can be read in the title of this pdf as a rhetorical question.



I loathe how shields work in PFRPG. Their bonuses are paltry and often, the benefits cannot stand up to similar benefits granted by more massive weapons and over all, shields always felt to me like they did not do their job: We all know the iconic images of characters covering between shields to weather dragon's breath or fireballs flung at them. why then do shields not simply grant cover?



So, this pdf, on one page provides what amounts to an optional houserule - this is not intended as derogatory, mind you, just calling a thing by its name. That being said, the presentation itself is pretty solid - shield bashes, rays and being flat-footed: All such pieces are covered. Shields also benefit from an easy-to-grasp, concise expansion of their function: Each shield-size grants different degrees of cover when employed in regular combat, fighting defensively or using total defense:



A heavy shield, to give you an example, nets partial cover (+2 AC, +1 Ref) when used regularly, standard cover (+4 AC, +2 Ref) when fighting defensively and improved cover (+8 AC, +4 Ref) when using the total defense action. The distinct reader may note that no, abuse of this cover for Stealth-purposes is NOT possible. Interaction with Shield Focus and similar tricks are covered as well, as are tower shield's special tricks and the interaction with these rules. Even a kind of stacking of cover when employing shields while adjacent to a wall is covered.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - though I noticed a plural/singular discrepancy, I don't consider this important. Layout adheres to a beautiful, easy to read 2-column full-color standard ad the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



So yes, I do like this system - mainly due to it rewarding basic tactical decisions and since it provides a more strategic array of options when using shields, options which feel more diverse and closer to what shields in my opinion should do. This little pdf is in fact pretty close to a houserule I used in some of my campaigns. What is here, is functional and nice, but the premise does suffer from the brevity of the format - While e.g. the interaction with Lob Shot works still (and pretty much feels organic to me), Improved Precise Shot is still the bane of cover and unique benefits for tower shields that make these cumbersome things more versatile would have also been nice - as written, they are treated as just another shield class.

Author Lucus Palosaari delivers essentially a nice, inexpensive and pretty concise house-rule that should not break any game and offer some easy tactical depth and increased reason to opt for sword-and-board fighting styles. While not perfect, this pdf can be considered an inexpensive rules-variation. It could be more complex, but honestly should be a great fit for quite a few groups out there. Oh, and one can easily expand the content herein, making the system more complex - which is exactly what I intend to do. All in all, this pdf thus remains, at least for me, a solid 4 stars - this may not be earthshattering, but it is a nice option for people dissatisfied with how shields work in vanilla PFRPG.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sidebar #1 - Shields as Cover
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NeoExodus Chronicles: Weapons of Machinesmith Destruction (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2015 03:23:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for LPJr Design's neat Machinesmith-class clocks in at 14 pages, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We begin with a new greatwork, the constructor - this greatwork occupies the head-slot and can be used to create items instantaneously from thin air. And yes, if you've been following my reviews, you'll realize that the very concept is a hornet's nest - weight-limits, masterwork items, material restrictions, etc. - there is a lot to take into account. Now here's the cincher - the items are fleeting and come with material and weight-restrictions that, believe it or not, prevent abuse. The necessity to know what you want to make prevents the manifestation of fitting keys from thin air (unless the DM is lenient) and the restrictions even manage to maintain the balancing scarcity/price-level of firearms, clockworks etc. - Which renders the greatwork's basic capabilities one impressive feat of design. Kudos!



Now where a basic nod from me becomes a full-blown grin would be with the progression of the upgrades of the greatwork - here, steel and yes, even progressive magic item creation on a temporary basis become possible. If you even remotely think about the very notion, you'll realize the sheer amount of issues this necessarily creates - and will realize what an impressive feat the avoidance of just all of these problems is. The rules presented are so concise, they even take destructible items à la staves of the magi into account - oh, and the upgrades come at times, when the creation of firearms etc. from thin air become more than valid and not unbalancing. The permanent item creation at capstone levels, feat-interaction - this greatwork is a mechanical beauty and should be considered the reference work for crunch like this. Yes, charges etc. are covered. I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this greatwork and want to stress that yes, this makes non-magic crazy-prepared characters very much within the realm of possibility.



We also receive new machinesmith tricks - analyzers allow for the rerolls of natural 1s, faster motion analysis and a pretty cool idea: Scanning spells from scrolls to cast them on the fly via the analyzer - once again a hornet's nest of design to cover that manages to get expensive components, etc. - all RIGHT! Mechanus augmentations have a different formatting for their header than the other tricks. The tricks here include additional charges, storing and launching drones from the mechanus, adding poison-biting capacity and even providing a rudimentary intelligence - yes, complete with a limited skill- and feat-list. Moebius suits can have crossbows/firearms installed, can provide monk-style improved unarmored strikes and higher level suit-wearers may even dimension door or spell turn.



If you have a moebius weapon, a crit-stunning impact hammer, additional, charge-costing attacks and progressive replacement of str/dex with into for attacks/damage (with multiple taking of the trick providing progressively better replacements) as well as bleed damage and maneuver-enhancers provide for neat tricks. The aforementioned new constructor can create more items, recall them or produce on greater scales - and at high levels , execute mage's disjunction. The augmentations provided for the converter include environmental attunement, short-range fire-novas and high-level time stops.



Of course, we also receive an array of new gadgets - from alchemical sprayer (including improvements and concise mechanics), crank-powered third arms these are just as awesome - and I'm saying that before the more unique options, like deploying melee-turret-style fighting bots, instant-minimoat-creating brass worms, folding horses, flamethrowers, pneumatic launchers and portable cannons enter the fray. What about circular saws? One-man rampage armors? Dune-style water-purification devices? Sound-based stunners? Yeah. Awesome!



The techniques provided include losing prepared prototypes for greater dispel magic or even share their tricks - the techniques herein may be less flashy than the aforementioned options, but they nevertheless are powerful, nifty options. Finally, we also receive numerous new prototypes, some of which utilize the new and concisely-defined construct-subschool - here, we get animated swordsmen and shieldbearers, concussive bombs, emergency stabilizing constructs, electroshock coils for weapons, explosive tips for ammunition, prototypes tailor-made to blow locks apart and even vibro-blade enhancements.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but the one component I could complain about - the formatting of the titles and subtitles is not consistent. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous full-color art - all original and as beautiful as you'd expect. The pdf's printer-friendly second version is also in full-color - and less than 1 mb! I thought at first something went wrong with my download, but no - fully functional. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



This pdf can be summed up in "Stepping up your game." After the evocative, but rushed and flawed first two machinesmith expansions, I was not looking forward to this one - and oh boy was I wrong! LPJr Design's high-concept books have a surprisingly pervasive way of sneaking into my games, even when I complained to no end regarding a flawed piece of crunch or another - there is usually this sense of pure joy, of high-concept awesomeness in the books. Know what? This one marries this unmitigated joy with crunch mastery of some of the most difficult-to-execute, complex systems for one simply inspired expansion. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this utterly blew me away and that it should be considered a must-own pdf for any user of the machinesmith. Even if you don't use the class, any steampunk/magepunk/whatever-system can benefit from the wealth of riches and precisely-executed crunch. Unless I'm sorely mistaken, this was the first such pdf by Jonathan Palmer I've read (I know him mainly from some Headless Hydra supplements, magic item supplements and the basic machinesmith) - and I definitely want more - Sir, my hat's off to you for this glorious expansion. Same goes for LPJr Design - this level of quality definitely deserves accolades! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - and yes, I am very glad I am able to dish out this verdict - the machinesmith deserves tools of this quality.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus Chronicles: Weapons of Machinesmith Destruction (PFRPG)
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Urban Dressing: Dwarven Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2015 03:21:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin this supplement with vistas both unique and wondrous - in the towns of the dwaves, one may witness a plethora of sights and sounds mundane and wondrous - from chimney stacks that bear witness to the industrious nature of the stout folk to dwarves strumming the lyres (there is in fact a correlation between music and productivity), the life of a busy settlement breathes from the massive 100-entry strong table - and yes, of course miners, cave-ins, smiths and the like can be met as well. Few things will endear the PCs more to the populace than quenching a dwarf's beard, recently set ablaze or participating in competitions of boulder-throwing - a thoroughly alive place indeed.



The 50 businesses also reflect the industrious nature of the dwarven people - from the obligatory smithies and architects, one can surely learn wondrous feats of engineering, while here, even second-hand equipment adheres to the high quality-standards set by the dwarven folk. Boneminders and etchers offer their services to the discerning clientele and for those PCs looking for something more out of the ordinary - what about ships to travel on lava? This single entry had me come up with essentially a whole culture, a vast set of adventure ideas - "inspired" is indeed the word to use.



Whereas the primary inhabitants of such a town obviously belong to the stout race, from jailed half-orcs (rightfully or due to racial prejudice?) to halfling couriers to half-elven lawyers and pyromaniac elven exiles, the list of 50 notable folk can be described as adhering to the same level of liveliness and diversity one would expect from such a supplement - and yes, fret not -the majority of the entries does cover dwarves!



Finally, 20 hooks provide for ample adventuring material - from dwarven miners lost in the tunnels to dangerous, tunneling worms that destabilize areas to gas explosions and goblin spies, quite an array of diverse options await.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.



Josh Vogt's Urban Dressing pdf have become a continuous source of joy for my table - the amount of life oozing from them, their unfettered creativity and their quite frankly astounding diversity has taken the weakest of the Dressing-series and brought it to a level that can only be considered inspired in all the right ways. Now racial settlements tend to be a difficult topic, mainly because you have to cater to a race's iconic stereotypes, while still providing a distinct sense of identity. This manages to do just that - in a glorious fashion indeed. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Dwarven Town
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Underworld Races: Colliatur
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2015 05:32:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Underworld Races-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Disclaimer: The Colliatur are based on the colloid, an entity I created for Rise of the Drow. This makes me partial to the concept underlying the race. However, I had no involvement in the concept and creation of this race beyond being asked if the concepts would be true to the spirit in which the colloid was written - I provided neither editing, development, writing or the like for these guys as presented here. I entered this review exceedingly skeptical on whether this race would make sense or stand up in any way to what I expected this to deliver - experience has shown that I usually end up pretty disappointed when I tackle any book with serious expectations. I went into this with a negative bias - so could this survive my scrutiny?



We begin this supplement, as had become the tradition with this line of products, with an introduction to the numerous cataclysms that shaped the underworld of Aventyr - and among these, the colloid. The alien crystalline structure that seeks annihilation of all undead, though, did not go unopposed and thus, the colliatur were born as a race - a blending of the colloid's body invasion and a pathogen released in the water that did result in some mishaps instead of annihilation of the crystal: Instead of halting the advance of crystallization or becoming one with the colloid, the subjects instead became something new - the shepherds of those lost in the colloid, independent and free-willed - and thus, also a threat - but only for the wicked. For, surprisingly, the colliatur are friendly and inclusive, with hair and bodies laced with crystalline strands and an origin from various races, though, of course, humans are considered the default origin. Say what you want about the colloid - the entity's intrinsic value of life has a rather interesting effect on the race of the colliatur. In the cloak and dagger backstabbing world of the underdark, tendency towards an ennui-like, benign neutrality is very much a fresh wind.



Racial trait-wise, colliatur may freely choose one ability score to receive a +2 bonus, are native outsiders, get darkvision (not bolded in a minor formatting glitch) and a +2 bonus to AC. 1/day they may deflect a ray as if using the Deflect Arrows feat via their crystalline refractions. Also rather interesting - they receive resistance against negative energy 5, do not lose hit points when taking a negative level and receive a +2 bonus to saves versus necromancy, death, etc. effects. Contact with acid triggers fast healing 2, but thankfully, this healing caps at 2 hp per level per day - solid minor healing sans abuse potential. As sociable and nice fellows, colliatur may try again to positively influence attitudes when only failing by 5 or less. They receive +2 to concentration checks to cast spells defensively and colliatur with Int 11+ may cast comprehend languages, detect magic and read magic 1/day. They also receive +1 to attacks versus undead. This quite an impressive ability array with numerous unique signature abilities - which is great. However, balance-wise, we'd have an issue in spite of the relative scarcity of negative energy...this is offset somewhat by a weakness - the colliatur's partially crystal bodies are susceptible to sonic damage, rendering them vulnerable. So all in all - the race works.



And yes, in theory, you can combine these guys with other races, but that is beyond the scope of this pdf (and quite a challenging expansion to design!) - now interesting would also be the favored class options, which, unlike those of quite a few "good" races, actually reflect the compassion of the race - we can see quite a few nice non-lethal damage upgrades and, also rather neat, a gunslinger archetype-specific FCO. The inquisitor's FCO also deserves special mention, its benefit depending on the type of judgment active, resulting in either DR/nonlethal (VERY interesting) or a nonlethal damage bonus. As far as FCOs with their limited design options go, these are inspired indeed.



Now I noted a racial archetype, which would be the crystal cannonade, a gunslinger archetype for everyone - even those of you who do not like guns. The idea is as follows: You take a crossbow and your own body's crystal fuses with it, granting you the option to reload it as swift actions - with one hand. Your body does the reloading for you, meaning that you also have no need for ammunition. Shots fired thus are touch attacks and deal nonlethal damage - unless the target is immune against it - then, they deal half damage as bludgeoning damage. Yes, this not only allows you to play a gunslinger in non-black-powder games, it also provides a means to dual wield heavy crossbows and pull off some nasty tricks with them (yes, feats and deeds work with this...) - even before you get dex to damage and further increase that amount over the levels. It is odd, though, that these weapons still can be disarmed, though they become an extension of the colliatur, oh well, not a big gripe. Personally, I would have preferred a slight upgrade to the base weapon's potency to bring the archetype's basic weapon framework closer to that of firearms, but again, this is me being a very spoiled reviewer. This is a deceptively cool archetype - for one, it's not LOUD. It's not expensive at low levels. It renders crossbows a valid weapon choice. And its synergy with the vast array of reloading options ensures that you can make some pretty nasty builds that were not possible before. On a nitpick, the reload for heavy and simple crossbows via this ability remains the same, but since the feat-based action economy remains the same as before, the combinations thereof lead to different results - so I'm going to assume this choice to be intentional. So yes, one of the subtle-good-archetypes.



Thankfully, this level of quality extend to the alchemical items -from divination-enhancing powder that taps into the colloid's foresight to improvised weapons of crystal pried from the fallen, the colliatur get some cool tricks. The feats available mostly also fall into this category - some colliatur may emit dancing lights or light at will, whereas others can reduce the amount of negative levels taken per attack, making them predisposed to battling the tougher undead threats. This does not end here, though - what about breaking off parts of your body to make crystalline tools (and yes, later even weapons!)? Yeah, these feats are pretty awesome, though the follow-up feat could have used the line of the base feat again how to heal the speed reduction and damage this may cause. Mind you, the feats are functional and all is there, the presentation could just be slightly more detailed. Finally, what about morphing your hands into crystalline weapons, even ones with reach, provided you have additional colliatur feats? And yes, there is a positive energy-damage booster feat for casters, further emphasizing the anti-undead stance alongside the scaling feat that increases negative energy resistance.



The magic items follow this weird, but awesome trend - there are implants that grant a telepathic bond, even in an antimagic field and which can be tuned to diverse frequencies, allowing for elite-squads to act in silent unison. There is also a shard that REWARDS nonlethal spellcasting - while wielding it, you cast a spell merciful, but at CL +3 - which is powerful, but fittingly so.



The pdf also sports 5 new spells - from communion of minds that allows for Knowledge-rerolls to eidolon evolution-like tricks via alien surge and its greater brother, the spells are interesting. On a minor nitpick - regular alien surge scales while the greater one does not. And yes, there are two pretty powerful nonlethal damage-spells.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches beyond the two minor bolding issues. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard for the Underworld Races-series and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with copious amounts of gorgeous, original full-color artwork - and I mean gorgeous. Jacob Blackmon has outdone himself and created colliatur that at once are beautiful and still evoke a sense of uncanny-valley-like alienness that still is somewhat captivating. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that the pieces he made here rank among my favorites of his work.



I get the allure of the darkness. The flair of the brooding antihero. The gritty protagonist. But know what? Beyond all those grimdark races out there, the Colliatur are a breath of fresh air. Why? Because they are, unabashedly so, a hero-race. They are kind, friendly, not dour or xenophobic. They may come off as a bit arrogant, but they're beautiful and even the worst examples of their race can be superb allies versus the undead. The race has a very distinct style and aesthetic that sets them apart and makes them unique - and one of the races I'd never ever want to miss in my games. Beyond making superb adventurers, they are a balanced race (approximately on par with the planetouched races) and one that has a mechanic distinctiveness beyond what aasimar or tieflings offer.



The anti-negative-energy-shtick is pretty innovative, but it is the mechanic representation of their tendencies to value all life set the colliatur apart for me. Colliatur are a great reminder that adventurers, especially good adventurers, do not need to be murder hobos. They can be knock-out hobos as well. ;) Kidding aside - thematically, one of the glorious things about them is that they provide a concise feeling for elements that had no fluffy identity - beyond the focus on nonlethal damage (and the mechanical REWARDS for using them!) they also provide a cool alternative for the crazy-prepared trope of feats...and mutable bodies. We've seen a lot tentacley-mutatey takes on scavenging some of the versatility of the eidolon et al - but let's face it, you won't be playing a paladin that grows tentacles with razor-fanged suckers anytime soon. (If you are, great for you!)



A race perpetually gleaming white teeth, star-shaped pupils in the eyes, crystalline strands in hair and body that can form their hands into beautiful instruments of destruction? A race suitable to combat some of the vilest foes out there? Yeah, more like it, ain't it? Essentially, this race is a thoroughly fresh take on the radiant champion trope, exceedingly distinct from the aasimar and still mechanically more than valid. The pdf does have some minor rough edges here and there, but for each rough edge, I found at least 2 pieces of crunch I considered awesome or ideas that were downright inspired. The fluff of these guys is superb. Their identity is pronounced -and yet, they fit easily within the frame of just about any campaign. Better yet - they are not necessarily geared towards an alignment - and picture one of these guys as a master torturer/slaver (very good at capturing prey alive...) or as a psychopath stalking the streets, slaying undead and living alike and you have some cool adventure potential - just picture the vampire whimpering in fear of the "white teeth, the star-eyes...." Yes, I am running that module sooner or later...



In case you haven't noticed - I adore this race. They have an awesome visual style, the story to back them up, unique rules, a unique niche and still manage to not be restrained by it. DMs can easily blend other races with the colliatur in their home-game as well... In one sentence -this delivers all of what I look for in a race - with equal capacity for being radiant heroes and slightly uncanny-valleyesque beings or even villains, Mike Myler's colliatur are inspired in all the right ways - final verdict? 5 stars plus seal of approval. Check out this race - it is definitely worth it!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Colliatur
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