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Mythic Minis 64: Divine Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2015 03:12:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!


-Abundant Revelations: + 1/2 mythic tier uses of chosen revelation; You change the revelation to which this applies by spending 1 mythic power upon meditating to refresh your spellcasting ability.


-Channeled Revival: Adds healing for allies in range of the effect as if you had expended channel energy for this purpose. The target of the channeled revival does not receive this healing. Expend one use of mythic power and mythic breath of life the target. If you can cast breath of life, you can expend mythic power or an equal number of channel energy uses to cast the mythic or augmented versions of the spell. I'm not sure I'm reading this correctly - how much mythic power? One? Regular (1 or 2 at 9th tier)?


-Channeling Scourge: +tier to cleric levels for determining channel energy damage dice and DC. Spend 1 mythic power to extend the effect by 5 ft., +5 ft per mythic tiers. I consider this one to be too strong; the damage-escalation feels excessive.


-Contingent Channeling: If a target imbued is reduced to 0 HP, the character triggers a 30-ft burst of positive healing energy, while ALSO damaging undead. Has synergy with Selective Channeling. I think this effect should cost mythic power - this is essentially a powerful contingency healing with area effect.


-Create Reliquary Arms and Shields: Your creation can serve any creature serving your religion/deity. Mythic creatures wielding it can spend mythic power to consecrate/desecrate as an SP, centered on the item. When crafting the item, you can also imbue mythic divine spells equal to your tier in the object by expending mythic power. Once completed, mythic divine spellcasters following your patron deity may spend mythic power to cast these spells. You may change the imbued spells. I really like this one, even though, personally, I'd prevent some spells from being included in items like this!


-Crusader's Fist: Spend 1 mythic power to have Crusader's Fist's bonus damage also multiply on a crit. Numerical escalation, and for crits to boot. Not a fan.


-Double Bane: For mythic tier rounds per day, apply bane to two weapons while only expending 1 round of bane. If you hit the same creature with both bane weapons in a round, you may expend mythic power to make the second attack a critical threat. Nasty, cool and mechanically interesting. Like it.


-Extra Bane: Spend mythic power to extend the bane duration by 1/2 tier. these rounds do not count against your maximum, but end immediately upon changing the bane effect. Awesome!


-Instant Judgment: Spend 1 mythic power to pronounce a judgment or change an active one as a free action.


-Menacing Bane: Weapon is considered BOTH menacing and bane; synergy with Double Bane. Nice.


-Merciful Bane: When using non-lethal damage via bane, you increase the critical multiplier by 1/2 your tier. I really like nonlethal...wait. WHAT? + 1/2 TIER? I can break x10 crit damage with this. Not gonna happen in my game.


The SRD page has even more material:


-Planar Wild Shape: Spend +2 wild shape uses and 2 mythic power to wild-shape into half-fiend or half-celestial animal forms. Nice.


-Righteous Healing: Maximizes all your cure spells while a judgment is in effect. This is pretty powerful - imho a tad bit too powerful.


-Shapeshifting Hunter: Whenever you reduce a favored enemy (with minimum HD equal to yours -4) to -1 hit points or less, you regain one use of wild shape. While it has a means of preventing being kitten'd at higher levels, I'd still have preferred an absolute cap based on mythic tier, with mythic power as a means to increase the cap/daily uses beyond tier uses to prevent a limited resource being unlimited. Some always tries to cheese options like this.


-Shared Judgment: +1 ally can share in the judgment per tier you have. OUCH!


-Spell Bane: Use mythic power to force two saves with your Spell bane, targets taking the worse result.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson, Jonathan H. Keith and Robert Brookes' divine feats have been a mixed bag for me - I am wary of the balance implications of quite a few of these feats, with several breaking even the increased power-levels of mythic gameplay. At the same time, some of the options herein are pretty creative and honestly, a capable GM can enforce additional restrictions on some of the less refined feats herein. While one of the more problematic mythic feat-collections out there, this is not bad per se and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 64: Divine Feats
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Path of War Expanded: Harbinger
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/21/2015 03:02:23
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Before we dive into the analysis of this pdf, let me first make some things clear -I am not going to judge this pdf as per the power-level of the base game and instead take a look at it in the context of Path of War and its increased power-level -anything different would be rather ridiculous regarding an expansion to said system, after all. Conversely, this is not going to be a rehash of all my different takes on individual rules-decisions of Path of War that ultimately, to me, are unnecessary design-relics. If you're not familiar with the gripes I have with the base-system (and the opinions which diverged from mine on that, after all, I do not consider my reviews to be the only valid opinion!), you can read up on them in the extensive discussion on my site and certain boards. Hence, I will try to limit my complaining about these old gripes to a minimum, should I encounter them. Got all of that? Great!



This pdf introduces a new Path of War-class, the Harbinger, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and proficiency with simple and martial melee weapons, light armor and shields. The harbinger begins play with 5 maneuvers known, 3 of which can be readied and 1 stance, increasing this to 16 known, 10 readied and 6 stances at 20th level. Maneuvers may be chosen from Cursed Razor, Primal Fury, Shattered Mirror and Veiled Moon. For my issues with the old disciplines, please check my reviews of those. I'll return to the new disciplines later. Harbingers can be considered the brooding anti-heroes, the dark bringers of woe and as such, contemplating1 0 minutes of negativity allows the harbinger to ready other maneuvers. In order to regain spent maneuvers in combat, Dark Claim is used - as a swift action, the harbinger can claim a creature in close range she can see - this lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 her class level.



A harbinger can only have up to Int-mod creatures claimed at a given time, though such creatures provoke AoOs when leaving squares threatened by the harbinger with the withdraw action. The harbinger automatically knows the location of claimed creatures, though creatures not seen still receive total concealment and this does not prevent flanking etc. Whenever the harbinger activates this class feature, she recovers one maneuver and when she vanquishes a claimed target, she recovers Int-mod maneuvers. Alternatively, a harbinger may focus and spend a standard action to regain a maneuver. This mechanic is versatile indeed and worked pretty well in my playtest - while I personally prefer maneuver regaining to have a drawback to provide a more strategic process (and a playing experience with more high/low-phases), I really enjoyed how this plays out -clever tactics are rewarded: If played smartly, a harbinger will not want for maneuvers, though they *can* run out of them, requiring the expenditure of actions. Personally, I do believe it should be easier to run out of maneuvers. Still, the tying of the mechanic to setting up future maneuver-recoveries puts player agenda higher on the level, without providing the warlord's imho too significant benefits for doing so. More importantly, this enhances the skirmisher playing experience the class obviously goes for.



First level harbingers add 1/2 their Int-mod to attack rolls, 10th level harbingers also add full Int-mod to damage rolls, offsetting their 3/4 BAB. I am NOT a fan of dual stats to any roll, but that is documented by now, alongside the obvious means to min-max the s*** out of such a set up, right? They also get +10 ft. movement rate, increasing this by a further 10 ft at 10th level. At 2nd level, the class gets Dark Focus - a kind of specialization on one discipline, which nets +1 competence bonus to atk and save DCs with boosts and strikes of said discipline, increasing the bonus by a further +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 6th level nets wither Advanced Study or Discipline Focus as a bonus feat; 10th level nets a second discipline and 14th level provides the option to spontaneously expend a maneuver readied to spontaneously perform a maneuver known from the Dark Focus, which has a level equal to or lower than the expended maneuver. Finally, 20th level makes all maneuvers known of the chosen disciplines count as readied in addition to the ones readied regularly.



At 3rd level, harbingers may 1/encounter (thankfully now defined in in-game time in Path of War, so no more complaints regarding that!) move up to her speed as a swift action, increasing this by +1/encounter at 9th and 15th level; however, at these very same levels, harbingers can also opt for fly speed, swim speed and immunity to inhaled toxins/no more breathing required, or climb speed with bonuses to disarm and grapple OR the ability to teleport up to her speed as a move action - while the latter sounds like it is the most powerful of these, that would be a flawed assumption - the action economy versatility does somewhat balance these out, though teleport and flight remain clearly the stronger options. On a nitpicky side, though, I do believe that this short-range teleport ability does need to specify that it is a conjuration [teleport]-effect. Why? To maintain balance with existing mechanics that block teleportation-effects. Still, not a grievous oversight here.



At 4th level, the harbinger may initiate a readied strike as an immediate action once per encounter whenever she reduces a foe to 0 Hp or below, with the strike being required to have an initiation action of one standard action, +1/encounter use at 10th and 16th level. The limit helps to keep this in line and makes it a good resort when a harbinger needs an extra oomph. Now granted, this ability, while not looking like much on paper, is actually very powerful - seeing how, in many games, the GMs are not as adept at drawing out combats, these abilities may be considered very painful for a continuous micro-novaing through "small" encounters. 5th level provides a +2 bonus to AC and Ref when moving more than 10 ft. in a given round, rewarding alacrity - as does the 11th level ability, which allows for the movement of 1/2 movement as an immediate action 1/encounter. I like this ability per se, but does it have the capacity to waste e.g. attacks or spells executed against the harbinger? This messing with the movement economy is not bad, but some clarification would be nice.



As a nice mind game, at-will magic aura at 7th level makes for a flavorful ability, though one that imho would make sense at a lower level. 8th level nets better flanking and 12th level makes claimed targets shaken. 13th level provides one nasty control-trick - for Int-mod rounds, the harbinger may treat close range as melee reach for the purpose of initiating strikes, smartly avoiding the whole mess with reach and threatened areas - which is good! However, in an odd kind of way, the ability somewhat feels like it actually contradicts how the class plays - first, you're all about mobility and then, you extend your reach like a turret? Odd and an ability that ultimately feels like a jarring change of pace that does not fit within the frame of the class and its feel - like a foreign object. This ability fits better into a different class. 18th level allows for strike initiation (strikes with standard action initiation only) as an AoO and 19th level strikes IGNORE ALL IMMUNITIES. Ouch!



Okay, so the base frame of this class is very interesting and it is one of the most solid of the Path of War-frames provided so far - it also makes the flexible skirmisher concept, usually pretty hard to pull off, work very well, so yes, over all, I do enjoy the class, though it could use a tad bit more options to choose from among the class abilities to enhance the diversity among members of the class. However, I do see an issue and this would lie in the excessive increase of DCs - since the class uses Int for almost everything and does not suffer from a significant MAD, the sample builds, thanks to Dark Focus, managed a level of DC that surpassed other initiator classes and casters in direct comparison - with the power of the maneuvers, this constitutes a balance issue even within the context of Path of War even before taking other abilities into account, one that needs to be rectified.



Now there are two archetypes provided herein - the Crimson Countess and the Ravenlord. The Crimson Countess deals damage to creatures claimed - 1d4 at first, then 2d4 at 6th level, +1d4 every 4 levels thereafter. The ability per se is rather cool, though I have an issue with the damage being untyped - the lack of a means to negate the damage renders the character extremely potent against any threat that is short on HP and great on alternate damage-negation. This, theoretically, allows for very easy high-DR construct-slaying, for example. Applying a proper damage type would help here. At 2nd level, the crimson countess receives a pool of vitae points equal o the number of claimed targets, with a max storage capacity equal to the class level of the countess. The pool drops to 0 after 1 minute out of combat and the countess receives +1/2 Vitae points as morale bonus to atk and damage rolls made via maneuvers, +2 when executed against claimed creatures. The ability also scales with levels, providing unlocking additional means of utilizing vitae, with further untyped damage equal to her class level to all claimed creatures as a move action, additionally potentially providing 1d6 hp per creature claimed - the healing may be none too much, but it still makes me think that my countesses would carry bags of kittens around for handy claim-kills and infinite personal healing. *sigh*



On the plus-side, the ability does provide an expansion of the recovery options available, with higher levels netting forced teleportation (which should specify that the effect is a conjuration [teleport]-effect for the purpose of interaction with base rules) and a 1/encounter option to shove off half damage (or ability damage) to a target claimed creature - the latter can be extremely powerful, though the archetype actually prevents the worst of the ability's potential for OP abuse by establishing a minimum required amount of vitae to execute it, requiring a set-up. The capstone provides an exceedingly lethal save or take damage ability, though one that thankfully does not suffer from the base class's increased DC-issue due to this replacing Dark Focus. On the awesome side, the class receives the powerful ability to turn into a big pool of blood and reform later, getting a bunch of unique benefits while in said form. This archetype, in a nutshell, replaces agility with reliable damage-output - though swift action movement is still here. I love the fluff of this glorious beast. The Crimson Countess actually will see some use in my game (ONLY as an NPC-class) with very minor tweaks and imho, this archetype play radically different, with the minimum of vitae points putting player agenda and planning higher on the agenda than I would have expected. This is not a cookie-cutter archetype and it is fun - some minor tweaks can make it work even within my conservative preferred power frame.



The second archetype, the Ravenlord receives a bird-exclusive animal companion with the harbinger's Int that shares in several class abilities - now the clue is that the ravenlord may have the companion execute maneuvers, though only one strike may be executed per round by the pair. The interesting component here would be that they also generate a small area of debuffing gloom whenever the OTHER executes a strike, allowing for a fluid (and EXCEEDINGLY fun) switching between roles and benefits. Also: They actually can be defended against by being designated in proper rules-terms - good, since the penalties are massive. Still, no complaints against this awesome mechanic. Higher levels net increased durability for the messenger and switching teleportation (again, insert core-rules-interaction-mechanic). While this archetype has the Dark Focus issue persist, if you take this one's issues away (which is none too hard for an experienced GM), you get a thoroughly compelling and interesting archetype I sincerely enjoy.



Now this book also sports new feats, which are interesting - there are two mutually-exclusive feats that penalize claimed creature's atk by the number of creatures claimed, but only either when attacking creatures other than you or against you - but you may only choose ONE of these feats - either you divert or you kite, essentially. Making claimed creatures provoke AoOs when 5-foot-stepping through your threatened squares is cool as it emphasizes the tactics of the class. I also like a feat that lets you claim up to +2 creatures with one action, but I do think it should have a low minimum level - my gut'd say 5th level. Adding debuff effects to claiming, additional uses for limited abilities - the usual is here. Reach through Darkness is odd - it lets you treat creatures claimed that are 35 or more feet away from you as though they were only 30 ft. away for the purpose of powers, maneuvers and spells - this means yes, the target is considered in range. This is VERY powerful, though the lack of mitigation of line of sight/effect still limits the feat a bit, rendering it only a slightly ridiculous, instead of utterly ridiculous- thankfully! The Sin Eater feat is interesting in my book - it nets you twice the HD of a vanquished claimed creature as temporary hit points. Jup, kitten-proof. Kudos! I also like the ability to increase your movement rate by 5 ft. per creature currently claimed. Over all, perhaps the most solid feat-chapter I've read in a given Path of War-installment, with plenty of unique tricks.



Now you are, of course, interested in the two new disciplines herein, right? Well, the first would be Cursed Razor. This discipline is associated with heavy and light blades and spears, with Spellcraft being the key skill. Shattered Mirror, the second discipline, focuses on heavy and light blades and close weapons and uses Craft (glassmaking, painting, sculpture or sketching. Broken Mirror offers stances to curse temporarily foes hit by you and strikes that add nasty spell failure chances (also to divine casters!) - nice! There also would be a pretty interesting counter, one where I actually *drum roll* LIKE the fact that it's powered by a skill-roll. Why? Because it's a magical counter and it requires the target to be cursed - this requires set-up and provides a grounding of the odd mechanics within the context of the gameworld. Oh, and it helps that the effect is not one that vastly benefits from maxing the hell out of the skill. That being said, the "cursed" caveat employed by some of these maneuvers imho should be defined, unless the harbinger-class is intended to be the ultimate oracle slayer.

Spreading curses inside your aura, using brands to disrupt abilities - the discipline as such provides an intriguing array of options. The maneuvers also allow for paralysis - which is problematic since the maneuver in question ignores immunity to the save-or-suck effect, which, especially considering the VERY high DCs harbingers can get, is too nasty in my book. That being said, long-range teleporting foes into adjacent non-difficult terrain, attack with bonus damage? Cool! Plus: It gets the descriptor-thingy right! High-level stealing of abilities is also evil and fun. This is, no hyperbole, my favorite discipline so far -strategic, bereft of legacy-rules and logic bugs and focused on nasty debuffs and unique tricks, it is powerful - at low levels, perhaps a bit too much. But still - over all, the most PFRPG-feeling discipline I've read so far, with issues stemming primarily from the nasty and excessive DC-stacking of the base class.



The Shattered Mirror lets you do something interesting - utilize, for example, the atk of the last attack of the foe, dealing nasty damage to the target. Know another thing? The Skill/attack-material here is intriguing - using a skill IN ADDITION to attack rolls to add benefits to strikes? Now that a) makes sense to me and b) is elegant and avoids the easy stacking of bonuses on skills - kudos! A very powerful maneuver would be Equivocate - choose a target: When said target is subject to a power, psi-like ability, spell or spell-like ability, you also receive the benefits - and vice versa. While VERY powerful, this also allows for a vast array of exciting tactics. That being said, it is WIDE OPEN for abuse. You can elect to fail saves, so this one ability makes dragon-slaying pretty easy - establish this one, no save, eat harm and watch the colossus eat it as well - have I mentioned that the effects apply to single target spells and so on, even mitigating invalid ranges. OUCH. This needs some serious nerfing in my book. I'm not a fan of using a craft-check in lieu of a save, but that one will not break the game. Doubling strikes and setting the range at close is powerful - as is a strike that curses a target to receive damage equal to what it inflicts - thankfully of the same type. Still - nasty and also open for abuse, though to a lesser extent. Imho, such a maneuver should have a caveat that precludes AoE-damage from being reflected multiple times. The capstone covers a save-or-suck strike that imprisons the target's soul - yeah, ouch. Cool imagery, though. Shattered Mirror is an odd discipline in that it imposes, much like Blue Mage/Mimic-style-classes, a task on the GM - namely one that should be *very* aware of the potential of NPC/Monster abilities being hijacked. This does not need to be an issue, but it could be one since that type of foresight usually is not required - and yes, I can see a GM walk face first into a brick wall here.

I maintain, though, that integrating a scaling-mechanism into the ability-hijacks would help maintain a balance for less experienced GMs.

Much like Cursed Razor, I really like this discipline - though, once again, there are some maneuvers herein that can, even in Path of War's context need a serious whack with the nerf-bat and restrictions - still, very much more refined and versatile than what I've seen so far and, especially regarding the design-aesthetics, closer to the conventions of PFRPG. This does feel more like an offering belonging to PFRPG for me.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant formal glitches. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with nice artworks (partially stock) and is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, with a second one being more printer-friendly.



So, I was not looking forward to reviewing this. Path of War was a colossal amount of work and ended up, in spite of me trying to be very clear regarding my gripes and issues with the system, a controversial review. I honestly wondered whether I should review Path of War Expanded at all since the fans seemed to, at least partially, not want any criticism of the system and since the detractors just wanted me to bash it - neither of which ultimately was my intent. In the end, when Dreamscarred Press sent me the file, I admired the company's integrity and figured "What the hell."



I pulled out my copy and scheduled playtests for the material herein. Granted, playtests whose announcement did not elicit much excitement from my players, but when I actually read and ran this one, it turned out to be a thoroughly interesting class - my favorite in the whole series, in fact. The harbinger feels distinct, very distinct - more so than the original Path of War-classes. It is also, thankfully, bereft of any infinite-healing exploits ( with the exception of the Crimson Countess, who can be kitten'd and does get fast healing in blood pool form, but only late in the game), streamlines obsolete mechanics away and instead incorporates the heritage, including mechanics, in a frame that fits more organically with the PFRPG-rules. Chris Bennett and Jade Ripley have, on a formal level, created so far the best Path of War-class out there that has the most refined design-aesthetics. No make-believe damage types, no easy +20 atk.-exploits...nice.



That being said, purists may want to be aware of the very much annoying need to still specify what is "cursed" - which, ultimately, alas, could devolve in the final book into yet another inorganic make-believe term that requires massive revision on part of the GM like the loathsome '*&%§$ that is holy/unholy damage. Let's hope the definition does not go this route. EDIT, since two people have made this observation: Yes, I am aware of Cursed Razor specifying what "cursed" is in the intro-text of the discipline. Alas, there are a couple of issues with that: The cursed condition has no direct effects, which is a violation of how conditions work. Secondly, the term "cursed" is already heavily used in Pathfinder in a context where it does NOT pertain to effects of Cursed Razor, rendering the referring to the "condition" somewhat problematic. In order to future-proof this beast and render it less ambiguous, I'd strongly suggest a fixed definition of the condition set apart from the discipline as well as a new name for the condition that is not already assigned to a plethora of contexts. Or at least very specific referrals towards the condition as specified, as opposed to the other meanings of the word.When e.g. a boost refers to "when you initiate this boost you gain a +1 luck bonus to AC for each cursed opponent within medium range (100 feet + 10 feet per level), up to a maximum bonus of +5." there is no mention of the cursed condition, which creates a gaping loophole.



And yes, much like previous Path of War classes, the optimization threshold for the classes is pretty much non-existent - you *will* get a *very* efficient character out of this without needs to optimize; If you do, you'll get a beast, which also remains one of the reasons I am pretty much convinced that, as much as I like this class, the harbinger will not fit into low-powered games.



The harbinger is a fun glass cannon/controller/skirmisher-hybrid that plays very much like a magus on steroids that specializes in actually effective skirmishing tactics over move-into-melee and kill, something the PFRPG-rules usually discourage. Now yes, the class does have some balance-streamlining issues - the escalated save DCs are NASTY and blow the saves against the maneuvers to a point that is beyond what I'm comfortable with, even in a Path of War context. So yes, I do believe that there is some streamlining to be done here. At the same, I have to applaud that the archetypes actually radically change the playing experience. This pdf, essentially, constitutes very much what I hoped to see from the get-go from the series. Would I allow the class in a regular power-level game? No! The harbinger is a debuff monster that can be very nasty and its overall optimization-requirements are very, very low. But I actually *will* do the work to nerf it for use in my game. Why?

Because I genuinely like the concept of the class and because the new disciplines have some pretty unique tricks I will use for monster special abilities etc. and to make some REALLY nasty adversaries. Plus, I am actually going to use this class in more high-powered games for adversaries, since none of the design-decisions create a frame I can't fix or modify to suit my needs. So yes, this can be considered a good class, one that borders, in the context of Path of War, on the edge of greatness. And as a reviewer, I absolutely applaud what this pdf represents!



At the same time, I still am very much conscious of this class being not for every group - if what you observed in Path of War galled you to no end in components that pertained to balance as opposed to those related to design-aesthetics, then this will still not be made for you.



Now if the minor hiccups are cleaned up and with minor filing off of rough patches to streamline some unbalanced components, this has the potential to be glorious. My final verdict, after much deliberation, clocks in at 4 stars, mainly due to the balance-concerns I still have, even in a Path of War context. Note that, much like the original Path of War, this amps up the power-curve of your game and if you're conservative regarding PC-balance and interaction with established concepts (or if you're playing gritty low fantasy etc.), you should detract a star, though all herein is more refined than the first book. Consider my interest for the series reignited!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Path of War Expanded: Harbinger
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Monster Advancement: Enhanced Undead
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/21/2015 02:59:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the monster advancement-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what do we have here? Essentially, this pdf provides one expanded, massive, extremely customizable templatey toolkit to enhance undead (d'uh), but with a focus of skeletal champions and zombie lords, thematically - so no, VtM-fans, you won't find a huge array of vampiric powers in here, though the modifications within this book are generic enough to be applicable to just about any undead - the primary focus (and thus mechanical execution) simply is different.



Basically, the template provides one special quality per 3 points of CR, though capable GMs should have no issue playing with the pretty simple base mechanics. At the same time, though, novices are not left in the proverbial dark with the undead: Instead, what we have here, is a concise depiction of the thought-process behind the undead - from researching special abilities to an actually concise explanation of DR-enhancement (and any designer who tried to write one of those will appreciate the effort!), the explanations are nice indeed.



Now as for the content provided, we actually go one step beyond what one would expect - with e.g. support for Pact magic by Radiance House Press, we can see an example of commendable 3pp-camraderie. Beyond this instance, though, we have more than basic augmentations: Necrotic pustules for plagued undead, disease-causing breaths, auras of despair, soul devouring, ability drain - you name the basic, nasty tricks and they're here. However, even beyond these, especially GMs in horror-themed campaigns (or those of you fed up with certain tactics) will cackle with glee upon reading of undead that can temporarily shut down divine casting, those that act as dimensional anchors or negative energy breath weapons.



Speaking of which: Julian Neale is one of the few designers I know who is *VERY MUCH* into the nit and grit of math - so much so that his designs tend to look less impressive than they actually are in gameplay: Here, though, this predilection works exceedingly in his favor - if you're going for a breath weapon, you'll have a massive table for each CR from 3 to 20, sporting 3 entries - one with smoothed and pretty continuous output, one that is swingy and, if that's how you roll (or rather, not roll), one containing damage averages. That is above and beyond of what I expected - kudos for going the extra mile!



With Kyuss-style vermin-mastery, better undead control, gaze attacks, object-ruining claws, desecrate auras, telekinesis, flawless two-weapon fighting and a significant and upgradeable array of SPs, the undead herein can be made truly deadly and versatile. Following a design-tenet near and dear to my heart that rewards players for their legwork, flaws are presented as optional modifications, as are specific armors. Skill bonuses and subtype-acquisition are listed as further means of modification. Beyond simply providing this massive toolkit and leaving you alone with it, advice on actually using it is provided - as are 6 sample undead, including a lamia juju zombie inquisitor or a mummy cleric.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting, while not perfect, can still be considered pretty good. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but ultimately needs none. The pdf comes fully and extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Julian Neale, as mentioned above, is a designer who quite frankly should see more exposure - his humble and often intriguing designs, with their unpretentious subtlety can be pretty much a joy to read, especially when tackling monsters etc. This pdf, then, plays his strengths perfectly - what we have here is basically a nice, complex toolkit that blends basic and more complex options and allows a GM to quickly and efficiently customize the undead that his players have destroyed time and again and bring the fear of them back. As far as I'm concerned, I thoroughly enjoyed this toolkit and consider it definitely superior to simply slapping a bland "advanced" template on a creature - this kit changes tactics, and often in a rather crucial manner. Every fan of the undead and horror GMs in particular should take a look at this. While you won't find inspiring fluff herein, the toolkit and its rules very much make for a fun addition that *will* keep the players on their toes. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Advancement: Enhanced Undead
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Mini-Dungeon #018: Neotomas' Paradise
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/21/2015 02:56:44
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 apart from any deviations from the linked base creature/NPC.



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!



So, beggars have been vanishing and thus, it falls to the PCs to venture forth into the sewers to find them - and yes, they may contact a disease more horrible than filth fever here - which is a nice deviation from the tired "contract filth fever"-routine...after all, bubonic plague is so much more unsettling. Exploring the dark caverns, the PCs not only have to brave rat swarms, they will also encounter a ghost of a slain beggar before finding the culprit of the disappearances - a nasty wererat slaver on a recruiting spree and by now transformed were-rat beggars...oh, and yes, the PCs can walk into a gelatinous cube.



Conclusion:

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



Michael Smith delivers a sewer level, but one of the good ones - with lighting, environmental hazards and actual chances for social interaction and some minor investigation, it is quite impressive to see what he managed to cram into these two paltry pages. In fact, this is pretty much an example in many ways on how you can render such a tired trope work, even when hobbled by the strictest page-count imaginable. This mini-dungeon was absolutely fun for its brevity and deserves a final verdict of 4.5 stars, falling short of the round up only due to the absence of skill-related obstacles herein - swimming, climbing etc. and minor terrain hazards beyond would have made this even more impressive.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #018: Neotomas' Paradise
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Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2015 09:45:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, in case you're not 100% sure - yes, this is an April's Fools product. And yes, I'm reviewing it in August. Sad, but better late than never, right? So this begins with a basic, humorous introduction of poles - both in the game worlds and in real life. Let me go on a slight tangent here: If you do not know 10-foot-poles, they are perhaps the source of more anecdotes and prevented PC-death in old-school gaming than any other item. They also are the punch-line of more dirty jokes than rods of lordly might - and in case you're new school and never got see their awesomeness in action, take a look at 2 pages of long (and surprisingly viable!) suggestions on how to use these poles and potentially prevent your character's death - you'll never want to leave your home without your trusty pole.

...

..

I'm sorry. I'll put a buck in the groaner joke jar. So, during the years, 10-foot poles, their usefulness undisputed and tried and tested by more adventurers in varying degrees of success, have obviously spawned an array of variants, many of which can be found herein - from butterfly nets with which you can capture those annoying pixies to balancing poles, there are quite a few nice variants to be found - of course, including the 11-foot pole for the customer who goes one step beyond. This also includes folding poles and the combat ladder - an exotic weapon with the brace, blocking, disarm, grapple, monk, performance, reach and trip qualities. Overpowered? Perhaps. But -6 to atk and CMB when using it sober are at least some nice drawbacks. I just wished the basic drunkeness rules of PFRPG were better. If you actually plan on using this weapon, I'd strongly suggest using it with Raging Swan Press' rules for barroom brawls and tie it to the hammered condition featured in that book. Technology Guide-based hydraulic poles, vermin attracting giant toothpicks, stilts - the mundane objects herein, while not always perfectly balanced, generally fall within the purview of being rather well-crafted indeed.



Of course, some poles are magical, they grow when... Ouch. Yes, I'll stop. Sorry. Must be the summer heat BBQing my brain. *puts another dime in the groaner jar* Here, we can find bandolier containing toothpicks that can extend to proper poles; Decoy poles with hats etc. on top that act as protection from arrows. Poles with continuous flames on top; those that behave like a compass needle pr one that can be transformed in a cat with a limited movement radius. No, this pun was not one of my creation! What about a robe containing multiple useful poles? Hej, my clothes...OUCH. Yes, I'll stop.



One step beyond these, there also are cursed poles - petulant ones that refuse to properly modify; magnetic ones...or what about the pole-ka, which is best combined with playing Weird Al instrumentals irl? Yes, the poles here are genuinely funny. What about an intelligent limbo pole that acts as a one-way portal through walls...if you can limbo under it, becoming progressively harder? There even are mythic poles herein, and I'm not talking about...Ouch. *puts another one in the jar*



What about the Staff of Sun Wukong (aka Son Goku?) Yes, cool. The giant stick bug, which may also act as a familiar, makes for a nice additional creature, before we dive into the new bard archetype, the pole dancer. Pole dancers replace bardic knowledge with a battle dance - with the effects only affecting the pole dancer and initiation actions required scaling. They also are masters of fighting with ten-foot poles, gaining dex to atk and damage with them and allowing them to treat the weapons as other types regarding damage. The overall slight decrease in power is offset by an increased capacity to use alluring abilities and the ability to substitute Perform (Dance) for Acrobatics, making them save that skill-investment. At higher levels, battle dancing pole dancers are treated as hasted and in an interesting way, they may quicken spells by expending move actions while casting spells. Powerful defensive dances that heal damage and moving while making attacks and the capstone nets an attack versus all foes in range during any point of a move. The pole dancer is an interesting archetype I very much like concept-wise. At the same time, it suffers from some issues - it is not clear whether battle dance is gained in addition to bardic performance or replaces it - I assume the latter, since the former would be pretty OP. Conversely, I assume the battle dances have a round-cap akin to performance, but the ability doesn't specify it, which is a pity. Some of the other abilities also sport minor ambiguities that can be problematic, the most glaring component here would be the absence of weapon statistics for the 10-foot pole. I assume an improvised large weapon, but I'm not sure. On a nitpicky side, the archetype also switches genders mid-sentence, which I consider supremely annoying.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - some entries sport font-changes and there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language here and there. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard with nice, stock artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a detriment regarding the convenient use of this pdf in my book.



Quite a team has worked on this one: Ismael Alvarez, Jeff Gomez, J. Gray, Garrett Guillotte, Kiel Howell, Taylor Hubler, Lucus Palosaari, Matt Roth, Jessie Staffler, Jeffrey Swank - surprisingly, now, this does not translate to a feeling of disparate voices.



I did not expect much from this book and was positively surprised - yes, this is a joke offering; and yes, not all content herein may be perfect. But this book actually manages to be something only a few roleplaying books achieve - genuinely funny. Beyond this rare achievement, portal limbo poles are a stroke of genius and quite a few other ideas herein a delightful, playful and, best of all - feel magical. Whimsical even. While, alas, due to aforementioned glitches and minor hiccups, I can't rate this among the highest echelons of my rating system, this still very much is a good, and more importantly, fun offering and thus well worth a final verdict of 4 stars - oh, and you can get it as a "Pay what you want"-book, so no reason not to check this out!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
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The Book of Loot
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2015 03:22:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 72 pages. I received this book in print for the purpose of an unbiased, critical review and it thus was moved up in my reviewing queue. Even if you are not interested in 13th Age, please read this review. Finally: I do not own the pdf version of this book, so I can't comment on it.



All right, so if you've been reading my reviews for a while, you'll know what my introductory spiel will be here: If there is one thing I loathe about d20-based systems, it would be that they wrecked magic. What do I mean by this? The massive rules-interaction possibilities and mathematical crafting rules ultimately enabled players to create their own legends, yes, but at the same time, the system necessitated a codification of magic items, armor, etc. via the paradigms of gold, spells known and feats invested. Ultimately, this practice led to a plethora of humorous posts on how the ecology in any such a world would not work properly (or be driven wholly by murder hobos...) - google it and you'll surely find one or two such issues and I'm not even scratching the surface here.



While I am perhaps one of the more anal-retentive GMs out there regarding the feeling of the world I play in, one of the guys who design customs, rune-languages etc. to enhance internal consistency of a world, this component is surprisingly not the one that has irked me the most. What has galled me to no end is that magic just lost its luster and glory, it became not only easy to codify, it became predictable, with all unpredictability stemming ultimately from a huge array of sourcebooks that not only perpetuated power escalation among options like spells, but ultimately also among magic items based on said spells. With the Christmas-tree syndrome becoming more and more apparent (and loathed by at least a certain part of the target demographic), alternate means of power gain closer to our beloved fictional narratives were sought, found and implemented, with legacy weapons being refined into legendary weapons over the years and various system-modifications allowing for a playstyle that does not hinge on covering your PC in more magical bling than an early 90s rapper. (Note: While I am a goth/metal-head, I actually like hip hop...go figure, this was not a barb.)



Now 13th Age does several thing right with the magical items - from potential jealousy to quirks that are projected onto the character, the basic premise of 13th Age imho managed to offset this exceedingly grievous complaint many a person has with magic items: In 13th Age, magical items may once again feel like MAGIC, like something unpredictable. Now yes, the 13th Age system does assume the Iconics as movers and shakers and if you recall my review of the core book, I wasn't too thrilled by them. Now obviously, the items herein are grouped by iconic that created them (or that thematically fits them) - and honestly, the items provide more indirect characterization of the respective iconics than the base book's write-up. The Archmage's pomp, the Diabolist's reality-rending, the difference between the savage magic of the High Druid and the Emperor - the item classes actually feel differently o an extent I did not anticipate.



And yes, this book does have, obviously, some traditionally "useful" items - like a robe that teleports you out of danger when you reach 0 HP or an armor that deals fire damage to any supernatural being teleporting while in your proximity. It is not these items that have made me grin, almost continuously, from ear to ear while reading this book - it is the sheer, vast, huge imaginative potential of the items herein: Take for example the Dwarf King - a beard of entanglement is at the same time ridiculous and awesome - it has the whimsical quality I expect from magic. Or take the incredibly faithful hat that will show up EVERYWHERE you end up, including the 3 items you put in its compartments. I quote the book: "[...]stripped naked, hurled through a portal into the abyss and carried by a demonic roc to its nest in an uncharted, infernal mountain range -and you'll find your hat waiting there." And yes, you pet your hat as if it were a pet. This is awesome on so many levels!



Students of classic literature will surely enjoy the helm that can go full-blown Castle of Otranto as a defensible watchtower, while advocates of a certain barbarian and his timeless question of what is best in life most certainly will enjoy the throne-threading sandals. Now if you're like me, these examples alone (by far not the only ones, btw.!) will be enough to make you love this book, but if you don't have humor and do not enjoy this type of thing, then rest assured that there are enough "serious" items herein - what about e.g. a ring that declares you as one of the Elf Queen's consorts for your easy and daily fix of debauchery and court politics? Or what about the literal hand of winter that may or may not force you to draw the season back to where it belongs once it gets out of control? Or perhaps you prefer the more subtle side of things and with it a girdle that makes you the ultimate chameleon - but perhaps at the cost of finding out that interpersonal interaction and potential conflict ultimately are a crucial component that defines us.



Beyond these glorious, specific items, treasure trove generators, general item-creation advice and concise lists of items by chakra and a few potions and oils further complement this absolutely stunning book.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the book comes softbound and on glossy, thick high-quality paper that withstood my page-skipping while I was sweating terribly due to my Scandinavian ancestry.



This book, much like the superb Bestiary of 13th Age, is more inspired than I ever believed it to be possible - the Book of Loot was NOT a book I looked forward to reading and when I did, I was continuously and constantly blown away - so much so, that I have used A LOT of the items herein - in 13th Age, PFRPG, DCC - their playfulness and imaginative potential is downright genius and they bring back a sense of the unpredictable, of the MAGICAL.

Author Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan delivers an absolutely stunning assortment of items that breathe narrative potential, that inspire, that actually feel like they could spring straight from the pages of your favorite fantasy novels, with the vast majority of them being able to support a story all on their own - or even a campaign. Add to that the novice-friendly advice in the beginning and we have a book that is a little masterpiece - it constitutes one of the best magic item books I've read since 2nd edition and brings back defining characteristics of what magic items can be - more than a sum of endlessly recombined numbers, bonuses and parts, more than just a mathematical bonus-machinery. And yes, there are such items herein, but ultimately, even these have some sort of component that makes them transcend their system-dependency. I consider this book an excellent buy for all d20-based systems and as such, this book receives 5 stars + my seal of approval and status as a candidate of my Top Ten of 2015 - a capable GM who understands the mechanics of 13th Age and another system can easily convert them. GLORIOUS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Loot
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Remedial Tinkering: Rocket's Red Glare
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2015 03:18:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the tinker clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As the pdf observes, this pdf offers options for lower levels tinkers - though this time around, a minimum of 3rd level to get properly started. It should also be mentioned that this pdf links up with rules in the SUPERB tinker-expansion Happy Little Automatons, which every fan of the class should have.



We have three new invention types herein - compartments and fireworks. Compartment inventions are introduced to streamline the compartment-questions provided in previous installments that featured some sort of fuel/etc. Fireworks-inventions are special inventions that occupy space in a given compartment as though they were goods - they thus need compartment space and may, important, NOT be launched by hand, only by the respective invention. Fireworks have a range of 30 ft., max 150 ft. and they are executed against grid intersections (AC 5) and may target occupied and unoccupied intersections, thus deviating from splash weapons, though occupied intersections are treated as ranged fire into melee, including potential for penalty negation via Precise Shot. Intersections sans walls etc. also have their AC increased. On a miss, we determine how it missed, also providing concise rules for determining z-axis issues when shot into the air (or into a pit).



Finally, there would be propellant inventions, which modify all fireworks in a given compartment at the time of deployment; only one propellant can be added per compartment.



All right, got that? We thus gain 3 new innovations: One that negates the chance of fireworks exploding when going unlaunched, one that increases capacity of all compartments by +1 as though they were improved compartments for the purpose of holding different substances and one that lets you break the "only one propellant"-rule and allows you to add 2 in a single compartment.



And then, we have inventions - and at this point, anyone who has ever made a tinker starts cackling with glee, mainly because the by now beautifully customizable system benefits from the expansions made so far: Take e.g. Alphas that contains vast amounts of fireworks that furthermore has an increased propellant capacity, increasing the value of the fireworks stored by the alpha.



The base for fireworks would be firework tubes or hot pockets, reloading from a chosen compartment as a move action, launching them as a directed attack, with potential options to fire multiple fireworks and synergy with Rapid Reload and Rapid Shot. Hot Pockets may be used to prime fireworks and fire them all at once as a directed attack, though primed fireworks continuously decrease their maximum range and may even explode in the automaton if the tinker fails to direct the attack, making the base system work essentially like a pretty interesting game of action-economy conversion and set-ups. And yes, e.g. The Late Bloomer can be used to increase the radius of launched fireworks, while a propellant may be added to increase the range of fireworks - a potential synergy with another range-increasing tube-modification.



Even general fireworks end up having something interesting going for them, with AC-penalizing caustic fireworks, propellants that may dazzle those adjacent to the flight or fireworks that contains hundreds of angry spiders (!!!)?



Want something cooler? What about a propellant that makes it hard for undead to cross the exhaust-line left by a rocket for smart terrain control? Or ones that contain entangling good? What about a glitterdust-y emission of tracer particles? Have I mention condition stacking, damage to adjacent creatures in the flight path? Oh yeah!



Oh, and btw. - yes, the pdf has a list of which inventions get the compartment-subtype. Kudos!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and sports thematically fitting b/w-artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks and does not necessarily require them at this length.



The last Remedial tinkering-expansion by Bradley Crouch was absolutely AWESOME in that it not only provided great low-level tricks, its combo-set-up potential was thoroughly inspired. Now, one can say pretty much the same for the content herein, with one minor gripe on my end: It quite frankly took me longer than I would have liked to piece together how exactly fireworks are launched - a slightly more concise explanation in the beginning would have certainly helped here.



That being said, not only do the fireworks here work how they should and in a mechanically distinct way, they also sport a damn cool array of combo potentials. Now I might grumble a bit here, but then there's one more thing to consider: This is FREE. It costs zilch, zero, nada, nothing - and who am I to nitpick on a quality, fun and simply interesting expansion that is free to boot? All in all, I'm glad I can now add this cool array of options to my tinkers, though I certainly wished that a) this was longer and b), it explained the process of launching fireworks in a slightly more concise manner. That being said, this is still a great expansion and one that requires literally zero investment from you - well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Remedial Tinkering: Rocket's Red Glare
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Mythic Minis 63: Planetouched Feats II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2015 03:17:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Airy Step: +4 to saves versus air/electricity spells and effects; ignore the first 30 ft. of falling;Spend 1 mythic power as an immediate action for 1 round of air walk.



-Aquatic Ancestry: +20 ft. swim speed; double darkvision range while underwater. If you have deepsight, instead increase darkvision by +60 ft. Spend 1 mythic power to double your swim speed for one round.



-Cloud Gazer: See through fog, mist and clouds sans penalty. Spend 1 mythic power as a standard action to grant non-mythic Cloud Gazer to an adjacent ally for mythic tier rounds; spend 2 mythic power to grant it to all adjacent allies. Cool one!



-Hydraulic Maneuver: +1/2 tier to CMB with hydraulic push. Spend one mythic power to detract Dex and dodge bonuses from your target's CMD.



-Inner Breath: +2 to saves vs. inhaled poisons. Spend 1 mythic power as a full-round action that provokes AoO to end all effects of poisons, clouds, etc. affecting you or an adjacent ally. If within the area of such an effect, instead you can disperse 10-ft. cube of such an area per 2 mythic tiers you have, minimum 1. I do like this one, though I wished it would specify whether damage-dealing clouds etc. like volcanic bursts qualified.



-Steam Caster: Don't increase casting time and use it in conjunction with SPs and SUs. The resulting obscuring mist lasts for 1 round, + tier rounds for mythic power. When expending mythic power, your steam also deals spell level fire damage to all creatures entering or beginning their turn in the area, save vs. the spell's DC (or as though it had a DC) negates.



-Triton Portal: Use hydraulic push to cast lesser planar ally or dimension door, but you can only do so while immersed in water; the destination must also be submerged; At 6th tier, spend 2 mythic power to instead shadow walk, but instead use the elemental plane of water, requiring the ability to breathe water while transitioning. +1 use per day powered by mythic power. Generally solid, though in some campaigns, significant differences between plane of water and material plane may be problematic; unlike the plane of shadow, it is not generally considered to resemble the prime material plane. A minor nitpick, but something GMs should be aware of.



-Water Skinned: Extinguish 5 ft of fire as a swift or move action. Extinguish a 5-ft cube as a standard action; a 10 ft-cube or a 4-ft-cube of magical fire for mythic power, as a dispel based on level + tier. Interesting



-Wings of Air: +10 ft fly speed; +10 ft more per tier. If you are affected by an air/electricity effect, spend mythic power to temporarily gain SR 15 + tier versus such effects. Okay.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jeff Lee and Jonathan H. Keith deliver a solid array of mythic feats, with some being pretty unique - more so than I expected them to be. While there are some minor quibbles I could field and some fringe-cases wherein a slightly increased precision would have helped, all in all, this is a cool, solid array of options that actually extends the options available rather than just going for numerical escalation, thus being well worth of a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 63: Planetouched Feats II
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Mythic Minis 60: Legendary Item Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/19/2015 04:33:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Inestimable Beauty: The item gains impervious (enhancement bonus equal to 1/2 tier) and allows you to use distraction or fascinate as a bardic performance (level = tier), at skill ranks equal to 2 times the tier. Expend legendary power to enthrall or hypnotic pattern at CL = HD+tier; two uses instead provide the mythic versions of the spells. Nice one!



-Mighty Servant: Transform the weapon as a standard action into a small construct, medium construct (one use of legendary power) or large construct (2 uses) that acts as an animated object that is considered mythic and can overcome DR/epic, with build points equal to half your tier, full tier if you expend mythic power, double tier for 2 mythic power. The item must be a minor or major artifact. AWESOME.



-Resonant Regalia: If you're at least 3rd tier, you may split this item's power with another bonding both and granting both this quality. You also select a resonant power, an additional legendary ability that only works when both are used in conjunction. Wielders may utilize legendary power and mythic power to utilize mythic versions of e.g. spells granted and are treated as one item for the purpose of legendary power, though they increase the uses by one if used together. If separated, the uses are split between the items evenly. While wielding both, you increase surge die size and at 6th tier, you may add a 3rd item, further increasing the benefits and allowing for do-it-yourself regalia construction - GLORIOUS!



-Soul Drinker: Always adds death knell to attacks that reduce a creature to 0 hp, but you gain teh effects thankfully only on a kitten-proof basis. When slaying a creature with it, you may rest eternal it, as the creature's soul is drawn into the weapon, with only the broken condition suppressing the effect. For each day thus bound, the soul receives a negative level until it is completely devoured, making resurrection impossible by all but the most powerful of magics.



-Soul Safe: Makes your weapon essentially a phylactery that respawns your body in 30 ft. Also allows for the use of legendary power to negate energy drain or death effects, with scaling costs. Nice!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson delivers in this pdf - with an array of all killer, no filler awesome item qualities that resonate with the glorious concepts and traditions of our game, this pdf can be seen as a great nod towards some of the most iconic item concepts, making them perfectly usable via mythic rules sans breaking the game - an effort worth easy 5 stars + seal of approval.



Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 60: Legendary Item Abilities
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Mythic Minis 62: Feats of the Sharpshooter
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/19/2015 04:32:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Arc Slinger: Reduces range penalties with sling or sling staff by tier; Point Blank Shot bonuses extend to 50 ft. (80 ft. for sling staff); +5 ft. per tier. No penalty to atk or damage when using non-sling-bullet ammunition as long as size fits. 1 use of mythic power = +1/2 tier to damage for tier rounds.



-Casterbane Shot: Penalize concentration of targets hit by 1/2 tier for one round. Further increase concentration difficulty when readying an action or Snap Shooting casters, with mythic power expenditure to further increase the DC-increase.



-Charging Hurler: +1/2 tier to atk with ranged charge attacks; exchange the atk-bonus for a damage boost in a 1 for 2-ratio. Mythic power negates the penalty to AC and increases the size of the projectile by 2 sizes.



-Improved Charging Hurler: When the target is within 30 ft., add tier to damage. If you hit, expend mythic power to bull rush the target, with +5 per 10 points of damage you dealt. Love it!



-Clustered Shots: When shooting at the same target as a full-round action (or via another ability that allows you to execute multiple shots versus the target), add damage equal to the number attacks that hit the target. Additionally, you treat all as one type of attack for the purpose of overcoming DR or death from massive damage (if you're playing with the latter in mythic, you're more masochistic than I am...). Also gain +2 to atk versus an opponent you've hit in a given round. Urgh. The bonus itself is not that bad - the DR-overcoming is nasty, though. Why? Shuriken. OUCH.



-Impact Critical Shot: Adds stagger to the effects of the maneuvers of the base feat.



-Opening Volley: Render foes flat-footed to your melee attacks that you hit with a ranged weapon. This is extremely strong for the right build. Not gonna happen in my game.



-Prone Shooter: While under the benefits of the feat, 1/round negate an attack by moving 5 feet. Per se cool - but is this a 5-foot-"crawl"? Does the movement provoke AoOs? I think it doesn't but if it does and an enemy keeps you fixed, does the attack you sought to avoid still hit? No idea. Needs clarification.



-Prone Slinger: Creatures are flat-footed to the first ranged attack you make each round. Not gonna happen in my game. Imho broken.



-Redirected Shot: Use the feat after the results of your ally's attack have been made known. Additionally, if cover from you and your ally to the target differs, use the lower of the two. Nice one!



There is more on the SRD-page:

-Slayer's Knack: Increase critical multiplier from up to x6. Numerical escalation of multipliers. Just what mythic gameplay needs. */sarcasm*



-Sling Flail: Add ranged attack as an immediate action to your melee attack executed with a sling. This attack does not provoke an AoO from the target.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jonathan H. Keith, Jason Nelson and Robert Brookes have crafted a diverse array of sharpshooting feats and some indeed are diverse and utterly intriguing in their tactical options. Alas, if ranged combat did not need one thing, much less so in mythic gameplay, then that would be even more damage output -which some of these feats frankly provide. The easy access to guaranteed flat-footed conditions, even when applied to otherwise not so-great base feats also overshoot their goal by quite a bit and end up being just exceedingly nasty. In the end, I considered this mythic mini a mixed bag and thus will settle on a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 62: Feats of the Sharpshooter
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FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2015 02:40:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 42 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being a review of a module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. You do NOT want to spoil this module, believe me.

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All right, only judges remaining? Great! We begin this module in the aftermath of the superb first two DCC-modules in the series, 15 miles south of the Grimmswood wherein the PCs had ample challenges of the most peculiar and interesting kind. If you haven't read the first two modules, let me recommend them wholeheartedly.



So, Yuletide is upon the less-than-subtle named town of Portsmouth and the adventure takes place during the 12 days of celebration in town - the problem here being that things are not simple. In fact, the town, once known for the rich seafood that could be wrestled from the waves had seen a plunge of efficiency only rectified in the relatively recent history - unbeknown to the PCs, there is a power struggle going on between servants of Dagon and his esoteric order and Cthulhu cultists - but that only serves as a kind of backdrop and variant on the theme, for essentially, this is an adaptation most twisted of the Little Mermaid: Prince Manxus was saved from certain death by her and while she had lost her voice due to the deal with the Sea Witch and while every step on land hurts horribly, the mermaid has managed to capture Manxus' heart. Until the Dagonites intervened with the tantalizing hybrid Orne and a magical orb, seeking to seize control over the town. The timer is ticking and the fate of the town is at stake - as is the mermaid's very soul.



And yes, the tl;dr version would probably be "The Little Mermaid" in Innsmouth. Now, admittedly, this type of reductionist summary would not do the module justice. Why? Because this can be considered pretty much an impressive sandbox that presents the town in lavish detail, while also preventing a time-driven time-line of events that feature read-aloud text and the like. With rumors and signs of the hybrid-inbreeding associated with the very theme of Innsmouth, we have a significant level of detail an atmosphere, against which a judge can craft a tale most harrowing: The contrast of cthulhoid horror and the gothic horror elicited by the original fairy tale can be considered a truly stunning experience if handled with proper care.



Much like in the previous modules of the series, I find myself often wondering how to adequately portray the module, mostly due to one simple fact: This one lives by the details. The disparate themes are crafted together in a concise way that very much lives from the details, which ultimately also can be used to govern the investigation towards its conclusion. What level of detail? Well, what about mapped tunnels below the town? Street names? Aforementioned tables? Now don't get me wrong - this *is* a sandbox and as such, it does require some investment on behalf of the DM to properly pull off. At the same time, though, it does generate a compelling and unique atmosphere that deviates significantly from the goal one would assume a module featuring the theme of degeneration. Oh, and in which other module does it actually make sense to ally yourself with cultists of cthulhu on a mission of love? Yeah, pretty awesome. The conclusion of this investigation, though, ultimately will see its fair share of confrontation, so yes, if you're itching to roll some bones and kick some Dagonite ass in the name of love, that's part of the deal as well.



It should be noted that the beautiful full-color maps comes with player-friendly versions and even as high-res jpgs - nice!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to an elegant, old-school 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Furthermore, the module sports numerous gorgeous original b/w-artworks and the maps, as mentioned before, in player-friendly and high-res versions - kudos for going above and beyond.



Daniel J. Bishop has a wonderful style - he can write creepy, disturbing sword and sorcery material with a great pulpy old-school flair, yes. But the unique characteristic of his writing and what makes me actually run his modules, is that he can blend this with a subdued whimsy and a feeling for the mythological that is grounded in well-researched tasks and a broad basis of knowledge of topics that resound.

Arguably, the themes of this module should not work with one another, but their synthesis is so well-crafted and so compelling, it ends up actually working. That being said, this is not only a module - in fact, you could easily enjoy this module as a sourcebook of an interesting, disturbing town, providing a truly captivating look at yet another glorious facet of the world he's weaving. With optional tie ins and information on the repercussions of the first two modules, in case they have been played, this one becomes yet another triumphant installment in the series and further cements Daniel J. Bishop as an excellent writer whose adventures I very much anticipate with a baited breath.



My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
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Urban Dressing: Trade Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2015 02:37:49
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!



The trade town is a trope that is used due to the vast potential inherent in the set-up - the merging of cultures and tropes that is the by-product of such a place ultimately provides a vast panorama of different options for GMs to explore. While unique, the result thus could be inspired, but also lose a distinct identity. With barrels that house hundreds of rats, non-voluntary offering boxes of temples, baying donkeys and town criers and street urchins, over all, we have a significant array of different sights and sounds in the 100-entry strong table.



The second table, with 50 entries, provides 50 businesses, from washer's guilds to preservative specialists and disease control, the businesses thankfully go quite a bit above and beyond what one would expect from the default of such towns, providing excellent fluff from slave blocks to traffic guides. The third table also provide 50 entries covering different folks that run the whole gamut of different alignments and professions -from good half-orcs to everyday evil and selfish persons to more pure or villainous characters.



Finally, this pdf also sports an array of hooks and complications - more of them than in the previous installment, with no less than 20 entries providing ample material for GMs to kick off modules, encounters and story-quests - why is the manically-laughing man throwing gold coins into a crowd of people? Is he mad or just emulating Egill Skallagrímsson? All up for you to decide! And yes, I urge anyone to read this classic!



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 reinvented Urban Dressing-series has become more or less a guarantee for exceedingly high-quality fluff, an inspiring array of options and ultimately, a fun series of supplements. Even in a pdf that suffers from a source-material with a hard-to-grasp identity, he captures the essentials and delivers a concise amount of dressing in the pages of this pdf - and yes, this *IS* a fun, versatile installment that achieves just that - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Trade Town
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Mythic Minis 61: Planetouched Feats I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/18/2015 02:35:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Blazing Aura: When using Scorching Weapons, generate an aura that deals 2d6 fire damage to adjacent foes. Foes striking you in melee have their weapons take 2d6 fire damage that ignores hardness. Unarmed foes risk catching fire on a failed save.



-Blistering Feint: +4 to feinting when wielding weapons that deal fire damage. Add fire damage + tier damage to foes feinted and have it risk catching fire. Foes that start burning can be targeted as an immediate action at your highest BAB. Interesting option and nice imagery!



-Dwarf-Blooded: +2 to saves vs. poison, spells and spell-like abilities, +4 to CMD vs. Bull Rush and Trip while on the ground. Okay, I guess.



-Echoes of Stone: +6 to Performance while udnerground and to Survival to avoid becoming lost there. Also, gain tremorsense 10 ft. as long as you don't move Also: One mythic power for stone tell as a spell, with your character level being the caster level. that should probably be an SP and movement needs to be defined - after moving, for example, one stands still. Tremorsense? Yes or no? I assume, this requires a round of no movement, but not sure.



-Elemental jaunt: Share planar adjustment as its mass variant when you plane shift. Cool!



-Firesight: See invisible creatures within 10 ft. of a flame. Cool!



-Inner Flame: Bonus to saves vs. fire and light descriptor'd spells and effects increases to +6. Also adds scorching weapon damage to grapples and makes you potentially ignite foes.



-Murmurs of Earth: Gain your tremorsense as a swift action. Use mythic power to expend its range to 30 ft and increase the duration by +1 round per 3 tiers you have - no minimum, btw..



-Oread Burrower: Gain full burrow speed through sand, gravel, etc. Use mythic power to make a tunnel, which collapses behind you after 1 round per tier. Alternatively, when expending mythic power, burrow at 1/3 your speed and make a tunnel last. Nice, but I wished the tunnel's collapse referred to the collapse/buried alive rules. I also wished this allowed for control of when temporary tunnels collapse - as provided, higher tiers may make hunting down the burrower easier.



-Oread Earth Glider: Earth glide at base speed + 5 ft per every two tiers, min + 5 ft. Burrow through stone at your base speed.



-Scorching Weapons: Bonus to saves vs. light/fire spells and effects increases to +4; weapons remain heated for mythic tier rounds; Also, spend one mythic power to temporarily grant the flaming weapon ability for 1/2 mythic tier rounds.



-Stony Step: Move through +5 ft. of stone/earth-based difficult terrain per round as though it were normal terrain. Use mythic power to execute a charge and ignore all such terrain between you and your target and charge through creatures of the earth subtype. Also grants +2 to atk and +1/2 tier in damage to charges if you and the target are touching earth or stone. Solid one!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jeff Lee and Jonathan H. Keith deliver an array of interesting Planetouched Feats that provide interesting extensions of the concepts of the base feats, often allowing for additional, cool tricks not available for the base feats. While not always perfect, the feats generally are a cool selection and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 61: Planetouched Feats I
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Microsized Adventures
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/17/2015 02:52:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's dive in!



Microsized characters have been a staple in the movies of my childhood, when I learned that perspective is a crucial factor in determining what is creepy or dangerous and what isn't. And indeed, in earlier editions of the game, there have been quite a few modules that utilized this concept to some gain - one of which would be Ravenloft's "The Created" - a great module in the hands of a capable GM and utterly disturbing.



Now if you endeavor to run such a scenario in your own game, you'll quickly run into a brick wall, as you realize that the interconnected rules frameworks of 3.X and its follow-ups like Pathfinder do not lend themselves well to the very concept - of course, one could go the easy way out and hand-wave scaling, but in the end, that does not work well - as anyone who's tried it can attest. So, we necessarily begin with the very basics that need addressing.



5-foot steps are replaced with shifting steps - the range of these steps depends on the size of the creature attempting them and the size of the square used on the grid - essentially, the relation of the two - if that sounds complicated, well, it's not - one glance at the table and you're good to go. The second issue immediately crops up regarding attacks of opportunity and relative size: In an imho more feasible rule, creatures using this book can threaten any creature in its space as long as the creature is no more than four size categories larger or smaller than the threatening creature. Creatures with a reach of 0 feet can provide flanking within a creature's space and 2 or more such creatures can flank if they enter a creature's space. This generally means that tiny and smaller opponents become an increased threat against regularly-sized PCs.



A total and utter cluster-F*** in PFRPG, perhaps one of the worst rules-components of it, in my opinion would be weapon-size rules for over/under-sized weaponry - convoluted and utterly messy. In a supplement that deals with radical changes of sizes and huge discrepancies between them, this could break the neck of the supplement - so how does microsized adventures tackle this? Simple: By making damage increase and decrease based on the size of the opponent in relation to your own. I am aware that this changes radically the dynamics of combat against bigger foes, but that's a significant appeal, at least to me - why? Because I was always bothered by the scenes where adventurers poke giants to death- it just makes more sense to me. This is btw. handled with a simple array of additional hit points that is equal to the special size modifier times the number of creatures sizes smaller than the creature. This math is easy, quick and, supported by the tables, can be done on the fly if your multiplication skills aren't rusty.



On can definitely see Alexander Augunas' teaching experience at work in the way in which the pdf is organized in that it concisely presents the respective steps in an easy to grasp manner. We begin size category alteration and go, step by step, through skills from Fly to Intimidate and Stealth onwards to Strength etc. - all supported by tables that present the necessary information at the blink of an eye. Step 2 would thereafter be the recalculation of special size modifiers that thankfully not only mentions minimum damage, but also the interaction with spells, supernatural and spell-like abilities. The carrying capacity and its modification are also addressed, including an object's respective new weight, including when objects do not alter size - inappropriately sized gear and shields, weapons and shields - all covered via concise AC and weight-multipliers. Oh, and for convenience's sake and didactic reasons, we receive analogues for sample weights to better picture the result and ground it in reality.



Now this would not cover everything, obviously - want to simply make an ordinarily-sized creature a different size? Go for it, step by step - including CR-step-by-step adjustments and advice on handling massive CR-escalation due to size changes. How do swarms work? Well, you will be happy to know that rules for both regular-sized swarms versus diminished characters and diminished swarms are covered - oh and, if you require stats for regular pets, quick and dirty substitution suggestions will spare you the effort of looking them up.



Now as for the scale of the grid in which movement happens, that essentially remains the same - only the scale changes, which is pretty elegant - and the same can be said about the range-calculations for ranged weapons of varying sizes, spells and area effects. Now if you're like me, the first monster subtype you'll run through this would be the kaiju (obviously) due to its non-standard size-rules...and because kaiju are AWESOME. Suffice to say, this book covers even this fringe creature type.



Okay, so far, so good. Want to know where true awesomeness begins? With rules that have been in place in my home-game for ages, once again, seemingly plucked from my mind - with two new combat maneuvers: Crush and Scale. Crush is obviously used to flatten those tiny insects, whereas scale is a requirement in my games to deal damage to anything huge+? Why? Because, as mentioned before, I loathe the idea of PCs poking giants to death by ramming teeny-tiny weapons into their feet. And yes, the latter actually has a downright ingenious rules-interaction with the Climb-skill - once again, one I've been using in my games for this type of maneuver as well. If you're even halfway into good, thoughtful video-games: Yes, these are your basic tools to play Shadow of the Colossus-type boss fights.



If you've played that game, you're probably buying this right now. For the rest of you, my dear readers: Yes, the mobile suit golems and mechas recently pioneered by Rite Publishing and Rogue Genius Games (Kaiju Codex and Construct Companion, if you didn't know) make actually more sense - because puny medium creatures may end up being too small to damage a kaiju or elder dragon... Yes, finally a reason to crank out those siege engines, Berserk-like huge swords and similar fun tricks.



Now if you think this book is a dry read, you'd be sorely mistaken - interspersed throughout the book are the (mis-)adventures of Alexander Augunas' signature Kitsune Kyr'shin - oh, and GMs can actually look forward to a concise advice section that helps planning a microsized adventure properly - from the catalyst to questions of terrain and exploration up to sample hooks that run the gamut from traditional to far-out. I mentioned terrain - yes, even a table on wind effects and their severity and rules for minuscule siege weapons can be found within these pages - oh, and two sample artifacts for the GM or the player's perusal to easily move into the microsized worlds are provided.



Beyond that, the pdf does not leave players in the dark either - with new rage powers that let barbarians feel a bit like berserk ants (or crush foes) and an archetype that make break improvised weapons for additional potency, a gunslinger archetype that is a thrown weapons expert (since gunslingers can't well get the materials for their expensive weaponry in dust mote size...) to investigators that use their eidetic memory to foil monsters and finally, rogues that are scaling specialists or born scrappers, the crunch here is just as solid. But that's not all - with two new combat maneuvers, it should come as no surprise that this book also features a plethora of feats that deal with them - and these go beyond the simple standard-improved-greater-chain and extends to even teamwork feats. The second focus here would be on the necessity of properly using improvised weapons, so yeah - awesome as well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from minor glitches like a typo "if" that should read "of" and the like, I have found no glaring ones, and none that would compromise the reading experience unduly. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience as well as with several pieces of neat original full-color art by Jacob Blackmon.



It is my firm conviction that you have to play this book to truly by able to judge it. When I got this, I though "Looks all nice and shiny, but so did your idea of size-changing scenarios..." -so I went and playtested this book's material. Size-changes affect a lot of variables and color me surprised when I noted how well this book manages to transport the respective mechanics. In fact, analysis made me appreciate that even more, because the math behind this system is surprisingly beautiful - I know, I know - but believe me when I say that I can definitely appreciate that.



So, the system works - but how well? That is a task I struggled with to properly convey - see, Alexander Augunas is not by accident a regular face among my Top Ten-lists. In the hands of a lesser designer, this system would be a mess of numbers, tiring to read and hard to comprehend. The excessive use of examples, the concise step-by-step guidelines and didactically sound presentation conspire to make a complex rules-operation feel simple. Best of all, if you're a GM not afraid of diving into the grit of numbers, you can easily modify all or even only parts of the system. Why? Because it is surprisingly modular. Crush and Scale can enrich any game; Particularly epic games with a focus on cinematic combat may want to further increase the hit point buffer against smaller weapons and attacks - or even move the spaces around where attacks become ineffective.



An internally closed system, whether mathematically or rhetoric, is an impressive and powerful beast to behold - if you require proof of that, just try to argue against some prevailing psychological theories without hard science to back you up. A system that is modular, that can be modified, scavenged and mutated to fit one's individual needs, though, that is the one that ultimately will receive the broadest traction, the system that has the highest potential for growth. Microsized adventure can act as a closed system and as a modular system - you *can* appreciate and run this as presented, yes - it'll work perfectly. But we're gamers and we have very strong opinions of how things should be, right? We all have pet-peeves and particular likes and dislikes. The genius of this system is its robust framework, which allows for *skilled* GMs to modify it according to their preferences.



A book as beginner-friendly as possible that has a maximum of user-friendly expert-customization options - that's hard to find. Harder and rarer even is the book that blends this with a sincere, total sense of jamais-vu - I have literally never seen a d20-based book that tackles this concept, much less one that actually does it with such a deceptive ease and panache. This book is, for size-change/discrepancy-style stories what Cerulean Seas was for underwater adventuring, what Companions of the Firmament is for flying - whether against impossibly large adversaries, shrunken battles versus house cats or anything in between and beyond, this book is an inspired gem that belongs into the library of any GM, a book that needs sequels and or a print-on-demand-version...or a 300+ page AP + hardcover...



If the above was not ample clue for you - this is the type of book I review for. If I can get even one person out there to give this a shot, I'm happy. It's that good. This book is an apex-level, innovative, awesome supplement and receives 5 stars + seal of approval, unsurprising status as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 and the EZG Essential-tag. Why the latter? Because in my games, the really big monsters should scare the living hell out of players and because, ultimately, I love the huge cosmos of options this unlocks. Perfect score and synergy with other publications to boot - I couldn't complain about this wonderful pdf for the life of me. Have I mentioned the low 5-buck-price-tag? This is a steal if there ever was one! Do yourself a favor and get this NOW!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Microsized Adventures
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Animal Races: Clan of the Raptor
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/17/2015 02:49:23
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Animal Races-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin this installment of the Animal Races-series with a compelling piece of prose describing one of the ritualistic dances the members of the Raptor Clan perform before diving right into the usual physical appearance, age, height and weight tables etc. Members of the Raptor Clans are humanoid with the shapechanger and Garuda-subtype and may be either medium (+2 Dex , -2 Str) or Small (same attributes + size bonuses), regular base speed (30 ft. medium, 20 ft. small), low-light vision, a primary bite attack at 1d4 (1d3 for small raptors) and natural AC +1, scaling up to +2 at 1oth level. Additionally, members of the raptor-clan can assume the form of a bird of your size as a supernatural polymorph effect. This eliminates all but appropriate natural attacks and can be maintained 1 minute per character level. Changing shape is a standard action and does not provoke AoOs. Now, as you all know: Unassisted flight at 1st level is usually a big no-go for me (and a bunch of DMs out there), mainly due to modules usually not being written for this kind of power. That being said, the daily cap as such renders this a more viable option here and over all, I'm inclined to allow it in my less low-powered games.



As always, there are further customizations for the clan presented, subtypes, if you will. This time around, we have a selection of 4 subtypes: Eagle Clan members get +2 to Cha and treat all instances of lawful good in the paladin's class description as "chaotic good" - they may also select the heritage feat as a mercy. I get what this tries to do - make chaotic good paladins. Alas, if it were that simple, there wouldn't be so many different takes on the trope. Let's begin with detects, smites etc. - shouldn't e.g. smite apply to lawful evil instead? The concept is certainly not new and I get its appeal, but that does NOT work via a one-word substitution. Ideology, code of conduct etc. - a LOT changes and quite frankly, I believe that these humble, well-intentioned lines open a HUGE can of worms of issues for any GM who thinks that's all there is to the concept of a non-LG paladin. Highly problematic.



Hawks get +2 Wis and may select the heritage feat in lieu of an inquisitor's teamwork feat - but not retrain/change it. Nice mechanical pitfall avoided there! Owl clan members also get +2 Wis and may use Wis instead of Cha as governing attribute for oracle class abilities as well as take the heritage feat instead of a revelation. This is a teeny tiny bit stronger than the default since Wis governs Will, but I can live with it; concept-wise it makes sense to me. They also have their own Heritage feat.



Finally, vultures get +2 to Int and +4 to saves versus diseases, but reduce their fly speed granted by their bird shape by 10 feet. They also have their own heritage feat, which can be taken in lieu of hexes.



The racial heritage feats allow the respective raptors to increase their bite attacks to 1d6 (1d4 if small), gain scent (only vultures), +20 ft. fly speed, two primary natural weapons, talons, at 1d4 (1d3 for small raptors). Owls can also select to be treated as having concealment when flying, even when faced with creatures who have darkvision/low-light vision, provided the lighting is appropriately dim/dark. The traits available for all three also sport avid shapechanger, which increases the duration of the alternate shape to an hour per character level each time and makes the ability usable 3/day. Personally, I think this ought to be available later - the unassisted flight at low levels is strong enough; taking the limits away to this extent is imho too soon and should be relegated to the lower mid-levels. This holds true for all subtypes of raptors.



The subtypes vary in which additional racial traits are unlocked: While all may select the true shapechanger that makes the shapechanges at-will and unlimited, owls and raptors, for example, can take raptor's dive: Deal double damage on a charge if you began it at least 10 feet above your foe. Vultures may not select the flight-enhancers, but instead can select scavenger, which renders immune to all ingested poisons...and ingested diseases. While usually, diseases are not classified as ingested, inhaled, etc., I actually like this deviation since it provides more clarity than the default. Apart from avid shapechanger being available too soon, I have nothing to complain here.



As always in this series, pure crunch mechanics is not all we get - instead, we are introduced to the genealogy of the raptor clans and their stance on several established monsters and creatures, firmly anchoring the clan in the lore of a given world - while I usually remain pretty silent regarding these sections, I felt a need to emphasize for once that they are an integral part of making the race feel concise.



The deity presented would be a CN take on Horus, which feels a bit odd since Horus is usually depicted as pretty much an epitome of LG or LN virtues, but all right. As always with the series, we are introduced to the heraldry of the clans, which also double as race traits that go a bit beyond what one could get from regular traits - but at the cost of a minor drawback. No complaints here!



Now here is where this pdf pulls out all the big guns, as it provides an array of immensely flavorful ritual dances - beyond being simple, yet awesomely flavorful cultural tidbits, they also double as a kind of unique, complex skill challenge that render the culture and interaction with the raptors so much cooler - I LOVE this section and, to me, it made the final section of this book so much more compelling. I really hope we'll see more of the like!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the series' elegant, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for you convenience.

Eric Morton's raptors are a significantly more fun array of races of races than I expected - the base race is more diverse and better balanced than I anticipated and the decision to make flight limited is a good one. That being said, I think the expansion of the alternate shape's duration should be delayed to a higher level to maintain the unassisted flight-cap implicit in the rules. On the other nitpicky side, the CG paladin concept obviously does not work as suggested - AT ALL - so be aware of that. On the plus-side, the culture and the dances make the clans herein rank among the most unique and compelling in the whole series - which somewhat offsets these minor concerns. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Raptor
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