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Places of Power: Fraywrack (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/13/2017 06:30:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

On a lonesome shore of rocky headland, known as the Harpy's Head, there lies the wrecked ruin of an erstwhile powerful ship - and it conceals an alliance most peculiar: You see, a flight of harpies has lured the vessel ashore - but the wreck contains no signs of slaughter, but rather an impromptu war-camp, for the harpies thus forcefully recruited the crew of survivors as soldiers in their desperate fight against Dagon and his strange, deformed minions that rise from the depth in a truly unique coalition.

Following the tradition of the series, we do get notes on Lore and the appearance of local folk, as well as the nomenclature employed. The 6 events and rumors further enhance this unique constellation of characters - from harpies not being too keen to be forced to play with their food to drunken sailors, there is an intrinsic tension that suffuses the set-up that, by means of its very definition, is upset by the arrival of PCs.

The system-neutral version has been properly converted, using the correct old-school classes in the brief, fluffy descriptions of named NPCs and the pdf even sports a small marketplace section for generic, minor magic items (healing potions) and consumables to be purchased. Kudos there! The lore-section, just fyi, has similarly been given over to the GM to do as s/he pleases, as befitting of old-school gameplay. Minor complaint: The text at one point mentions a couple of specific magic items to be found - some flavorful descriptions would have been nice here; it's not hard to find and covert them, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches apart from the aforementioned oversights. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Jacob W. Michaels' Fraywrack s creative, cool and unique - the idea is simple, but the execution is frankly inspired and chock-full with roleplaying potential. In short: This is an amazing offering and a great example for the cool things you can do with the Places of Power-formula. My only complaints here are nitpicks - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Fraywrack (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for this review, End. I'm glad you liked Fraywrack!
Places of Power: Fraywrack (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/13/2017 06:25:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

On a lonesome shore of rocky headland, known as the Harpy's Head, there lies the wrecked ruin of an erstwhile powerful ship - and it conceals an alliance most peculiar: You see, a flight of harpies has lured the vessel ashore - but the wreck contains no signs of slaughter, but rather an impromptu war-camp, for the harpies thus forcefully recruited the crew of survivors as soldiers in their desperate fight against Dagon and his strange, deformed minions that rise from the depth in a truly unique coalition.

Following the tradition of the series, we do get notes on Lore and the appearance of local folk, as well as the nomenclature employed. The 6 events and rumors further enhance this unique constellation of characters - from harpies not being too keen to be forced to play with their food to drunken sailors, there is an intrinsic tension that suffuses the set-up that, by means of its very definition, is upset by the arrival of PCs.

On the formal end of the spectrum, we have two entries among the NPCs that clearly are remnants from the system-neutral edition, mentioning the thief and magic-user classes instead of a 5e-NPC/monster-statblock. Big plus: We do actually get a properly converted Marketplace-section for the 5e-version, so big kudos there!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches apart from the aforementioned oversights. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Jacob W. Michaels' Fraywrack s creative, cool and unique - the idea is simple, but the execution is frankly inspired and chock-full with roleplaying potential. In short: This is an amazing offering and a great example for the cool things you can do with the Places of Power-formula. The minor hiccups do hurt this, but only in the formal criteria - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Fraywrack (5e)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for this review. And thank you for spotting those typos. I'll be uploading a corrected version of the book shortly!
Game Master's Guide to Kaidan
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2017 04:39:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 221 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 216 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review. Furthermore, I was a backer of the KS that made this book. I was not in any way involved in the production of this book.

However, there is one thing you need to know: I am a Japanophile of sorts and as such, I am predisposed to liking this book.

But what exactly is Kaidan? The short answer, obviously, would be "A Japanese Horror Setting." - This, however, does not really help, so let us take a step back for now and talk about the representation of Asian cultures in most (Western) RPGs. You see, at least if you're like me and really into foreign cultures and their myths and peculiarities, you'll quickly notice that the way in which Asian cultures tend to be blended - influences and concepts from Chinese and (sometimes) Korean myths are blended with Japanese concepts to create a hodgepodge. Now that per se it not something I have an issue with. In fact, I do enjoy, to a degree, this melting pot blending.

At the same time, this left me, at least partially dissatisfied. Beyond modern authors like Murakami or classics like Dazai, the classics, from Genji to the folklore faithfully transcribed by Lafcadio Hearn, the Japanese culture has a truly distinct cultural tradition I adore. Moreover, the mythology and tales offer a vast panorama of adventuring potential far beyond those usually quoted by modern roleplaying games.

Kaidan, then, tries to be very much an authentically Japanese setting; at the same time, it does not fall into the trap of just reproducing cultural texts by different names or a varied emphasis, weaving a myth of a land that is similar, yet also very much distinct. This is more of a feat than you'd think at first glance, particularly considering the way in which mythology and religion has influenced and continues to influence Japanese culture to this date. But let me explain: The history of the islands known as Wa at one point, destined to become the lands of Kaidan, is one of immigration, paradoxically - it is a tale of the human ethnicity of the Anu and their beliefs mingling with that of the yokai, ultimately giving birth to what would develop into the stand-in for Shintoism, the Yokintoism. Kami, shrines, the concept of Mitama - all have been properly represented. Similarly, the second religion that has deeply influenced Kaidan, perhaps more so than Ykintoism, would be Zaoism...but more on that later.

Before we come to the original catastrophe that wrecked Kaidan, we should take a gander at the races featured herein: Anu (human variant, distinct from the Kaidanese), Henge, Kappa, Kitsune, Korobokuru and Tengu are included in the deal: While fans of Kaidan may recall a couple of them featuring in previous Kaidan-supplements, it bears mentioning for the new folks that the balancing of these races is pretty much pitch-perfect - the henge-variants, for example, never are lopsided. In short: The races are suitable for even grittier games and low-powered gaming, also courtesy of their unique abilities and racial traits: Korobokuru, for example, have an intrinsic loathing of violence, whereas the kitsune featured herein may e consummate shapechangers, yes - but at the same time, when in great distress, their concealing magics may partially fail, revealing fox-like characteristics. It is these small tidbits that make the races align more closely with the myths we know - and at the same time, they represent narrative angles and roleplaying potential steeped deeply within the lore of the setting and its culture. It should be noted that this is the GM book and while age, height and weight tables as well as some alternate racial traits have been included, no favored class options or the like can be found - I expect those to show up in the Player's Guide.

The existence of these races beyond the realms of myth is by the way more than window dressing - the races and their unique perspectives on religion, etc. and their interactions with the humans have ultimately shaped the land; they are not only believable cultures, they are deeply entrenched within the setting, with histories of dogmaticism and conflict engendering further a form of isolationalism and distrust towards strangers that not only extends to gaijin. Kaidan is wondrous, but it should not be thought of as a realm defined by being welcoming to strangers.

Which brings me back, full circle, to Zaoism. Zaoism is one of my favorite re-imaginations of basically any philosophy or religion ever. It fills the role that Buddhism has in Japanese cultural development, but does so in a genius way. Why genius? Because, as an atheist and humanist, Buddhism's philosophical teachings, if not the beliefs, resound with me. Kaidan inverts them thoroughly and constructs a take on the concept of reincarnation that is shattered - and it ties in with the famous feud between the Minamoto and Taira clans that most scholar of Japanese lore should be familiar with.

Let me engage in a brief digression here: Kaidan literally can be transcribed as the kanji for "recited narrative" and "strange, supernatural or uncommon occurence"; during the Edo period, telling ghost stories became a kind of competitive endeavor, a past time ostensibly reaching back to samurai testing their will, morale and mettle in an age where enlightenment had not yet vanquished the phantasms of superstition. As such, the tales had a performance character and, all too often, a psychological component - they were not focused on being in your face or startling in the traditional sense, instead building on tension and dread, slowly, steadily - often subverting the sense that the "world was right", if you will. A certain existential anxiety regarding merciless rules of the spirit world or a breaking, unwilling or not, thereof, suffuses these tales and makes them effective, even to this date.

And this is what ties in, once again, with the Minamoto/Taira-feud and Zaoism - you see, the Minamoto, much like in our world, won. However, unlike in our world, magic exists. And forms of malevolence exist as well. And thus, the curse was born: The ritual suicide and curse of the last of the Taira was so potent it severed Kaidan's connections from all but two spiritual realms: Jingoku and Yomi. Mists arose (And here, ladies and gentlemen, would be the OBVIOUS Ravenloft angle - Kaidan works PERFECTLY in conjunction with our favorite demiplane of dread...) and envelopped the lands. Escape seems impossible, with only death seemingly providing release - but not even death can save the populace, for the wheel is broken - the concept of enlightenment through pure living can no longer be attained. Kaidan is an eternal purgatory, represents the horror of perpetual, eternal spiritual stagnation....one represented perfectly by the eternal emperor and his undead daimyo, risen from the waters to reign forevermore over these lands...but then again, at least the undead overlords keep the oni hordes at bay...

This concept and the logical consequence of an undead ruling caste seeking to establish a power base ties in perfectly with the historical developments of the lands of Kaidan and explains in a succinct and concise manner not only the nature of the caste system in place here, but also how it came to be...and why it has been deeply ingrained in the moral fiber of the people living in these lands - the rationalizations and secrets revealed here make perfect sense and give further credence to the pervading sense of authenticity that suffuses this book.

It should be noted, that, from Miko Shrine maidens to warrior archetypes for NPC Sohei, the book also addresses, in quite a lot of detail, in fact, how class options interact with the world - that, for example, most priests do not have the powers of a cleric and instead are experts; that not all religious warriors are the undead-slaying yamabushi paladins...the general sense evoked by these balanced and flavorful class options is that they represent the exception, tying cultural status and a role within the respective social strata into the concept.

Let us reiterate: The web of culture, history, religion, and classes generates a thoroughly sensible and unique panorama, one that is supported by an interesting cosmology indeed. However, the main meat of this book undoubtedly would be the gazetteer-style overview of the fully-mapped regions of the archipelago, including a vast array of settlement statblocks...and secrets. This is the Gamemaster's Guide, after all, so the identity of lords, adventure hooks and the like can all be found herein - and since these would constitute undue SPOILERS, I will refrain from commenting on them.

What I will comment on, however, is the wonderful fact that we get whole chapters on life and death of the populace - and yes, if you've been a fan of the Project Zero (aka Fatal Frame) games, you should realize that the amount of truly horrific potential and dark rites depicted in these games make for a perfect fit, theme-wise, for Kaidan. is a land where NOONE is free. The concept of reincarnation, any life after death, has an inherent horror that is used to great effect by pretty much all religions - from the threat of hell to "demotion" to a lesser creature. In Kaidan, it is very much real and the inevitability of the broken wheel of reincarnation just further emphasizes the futility of struggle, the illusion of free will that is, ultimately, the consequence of a life after death - after all, this eliminates the freedom to choose annihilation. In Kaidan, paradoxically, there is no enlightenment - not even the reward, the consequence - instead, we get a karma system to determine player reincarnation one that ultimately comes full circle for even the most potent of nobles. Via magic diseases, as yurei or via other means - there is no end, no breaking of the cycle, a samsaran's ultimate nightmare of a world gone haywire, of a deck stacked against all of the world's inhabitants: As the book astutely sums up: Evil is ascendant, life is hard, the supernatural is hidden, magic is divine, tenmei is absolute and death is not the end.

The book, being a GM book, also elaborates on the types of fear you may wish to evoke and the strategies. Organizations, extensive mundane equipment, armor and weaponry complement the book, and from honor to wealth (and the relative scarcity of metal), there are a lot of different factors - and they, ultimately, all make SENSE. Speaking of which: The traditions of magic and the feeling of the setting, to a degree, is greatly enhanced by the spell-section of all candidates. Steven. D. Russell (at least if I understand correctly), has written a metric ton of power word-spells for all levels, as that is a dominant casting tradition in Kaidan. The effects are actually subtle: At low levels, maintaining health, already important, can become even more vital. Similarly, with options that can cause characters to attack allies or take one out of the fights for a few rounds, the combat requires more flexibility and strategy by the players - and indeed, the spells change the paradigm of quite a few encounters, potentially adding some very iconic scenes to the fray. And yes, condition-power and hit point limits are correlated in a rather well-crafted manner. While I would not allow all of these spells in a high fantasy game, where min-maxing and option-breadth can provide horrid combos, these work perfectly in the context of Kaidan.

Tsukumogami, haunted objects, if you will, are covered in the book with a variety of evocative and cool examples, and so are ancestral relics, magic items that grow in potency over the levels. From teh bones and remnants of the fallen, to enchanting brushes, we also get a couple of nice magic items and some solid feats. Shikigami stats can be found and the book concludes with a great, inspirational appendix as well as a glossary. And while we're speaking of language: Did I mention the dialect rules? Well, now I did.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-language level, though, on a formal level, one can find a couple of minor, typo-level glitches like one of the magic items having a weight of "ZZ" - nothing serious, but notable for perfectionists. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard with red headers. The gorgeous original b/w-artworks throughout the book are amazing and thematically consistent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is most assuredly a nice book I'm glad to own.

Kaidan's concept was envisioned by Michael K. Tumey, penned by Jonathan McAnulty, with additional writing by the late and sorely missed Steven D. Russell - and all of these gentlemen did a fantastic job here. Kaidan is not a splat-book in disguise - it is an honestly amazing campaign setting oozing with detail; it is a campaign setting that is characterized perfectly by its exceedingly strong leitmotifs, by its internal consistency and the strong authorial vision that shaped the book. This does not try to accommodate Western tropes and mindsets where they don't fit, instead electing to concisely weave together elements into a whole that is infinitely more compelling than the sum of its parts. This is not the book to get when you're looking for high-powered options; the crunch, while solid, is not necessarily the draw here. This is a horror setting with a thoroughly disquieting, subtle sense of wrongness pervading the world, a tome that has tragedy and the creepy hardwired into its very fabric.

It is in the nature of the setting that I can't write "OMG; CHECK OUT THAT CR 40 OLD-ONE!!"; this is not about startling, about escalation - this setting is subtle in its horror, building dread and tension slowly without relying on cheap shocks. I tried hard to convey why I adore this setting the way I do, but it is hard to convey without representing the totality, as, much like in the weaving of real world myths, it is not simply a narrative that exists in a vacuum, but rather an organically-grown complex. It should be taken as a testament to the authors' respective prowess. In short: Kaidan is awesome. It is a great, inspiring read and if you even remotely are interested in Japanese horror, then this is a no-brainer. Even if you have never contemplated checking it out, this may well be a true breath of fresh air for you. As you may have gleaned, I adore this book. It is inspired and inspiring in all the right ways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and I nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Master's Guide to Kaidan
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Corruption Codex
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2017 04:38:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/ToC, 5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so if you've read my review of the Horror Adventures hardcore, you will have noted that I am slightly ambivalent regarding the corruption system taking away player control at high level; I also noted that this aspect could be eliminated from the respective corruptions with a minimum of fuss, making that a definite mechanical strength for tweaking the corruptions in question. Now, I will not hold it against this pdf that it mirrors the design-paradigm of the Horror Adventures corruptions, but I most assuredly will take note on whether the respective progressions remain as tweakable. Note that I do this for the sake of my own fancy, rather than as in a reviewer-capacity; it would not be fair to complain in an official context about a tweaking option that represents my private sensibilities, after all.

All right, so what types of corruptions do we get? Well, the first of these already is interesting, in that its very concept represents an anxiety that steeped fin-de-siècle aesthetics...and those that went before and after: The first corruption herein is the concept of Devolution, an evolutionary regression to a more instinct-driven state. The corruption does this with an ingenious way: It tallies a sentience score that is the sum of all mental ability scores. When engaging in a manner that is bestial or primal, you are tempted to take it and acting on such an impulse nets you a Will-save - on a failure, you roll 1d20 and lose that much sentience. Upon reaching 0 sentience, you advance a stage. It should be noted that the variety of Manifestations provided make perfect sense for the concept: Gaining alternate means of locomotion, an improved physiology and toughness or particularly potent skin. Scaling skill bonuses in physical endeavors and instinctual cunning can also be found among these. I really love this corruption, as it not only is iconic, its sentience mechanic's replenishment allows for an exceedingly easy tweaking option to customize the corruption to your campaign's needs. As a fearsome aside: Offspring sires while in the throes of the corruption actually shares the ability score reductions that progression in the corruption stages net you... Oh, and know what's cool? We get a ML 9 sample character to highlight what you can do, mechanically, with the corruption. In fact, each of the corruptions featured within this pdf has a nice sample NPC!

The second corruption featured herein is one I consider rather creepy indeed: The Fungal corruption. It shares a theme with the subversion of one's mental faculties, obviously, but it is completely distinct in the ways in which its stages are handled. Once again, this engine allows for pretty easy tweaking, with time being a major factor - and no, a simple remove disease (not italicized) won't suffice. Those that have been infected with these horrid fungal matters can spawn horrid fungal caricatures of regular summoned creatures, draw sustenance from the earth or decaying matter and you may even exhibit a strange, fungal rot, enhanced senses, the ability to influence plants and the like. And yes, the sample artwork for the infected character is actually really creepy. And yep, poisonous spores and blood are part of the deal.

The Kaiju corruption takes a different stance - as you probably have gleaned by its name, it is one usually gained by being subjected to truly malevolent magic - and its effects are serious, tapping into Ultimate Charisma's amazing antagonized condition: The poor victims can't end it simply and treat all the world as the antagonizing target, with. once again, corruption stage advancement being tied to an easily modified mechanic that is based on damage inflicted while being enraged by it. Beyond rock catching and the like, the theme here obviously would be the transformation into a mindless, gigantic, rage-driven monstrosity that lashes out against the world - very cinematic, and yes, cool!

Poor beings that have fallen prey to the voidspawn corruption have been touched by one of the innumerable forces of malevolence in the cold void between the stars - and there is some sentience to this infection, this tarnishing of terrestrial flesh: The progression this time around focuses on using its powers (which you will want to...) as well as the discorporation generated by teleportation et al. - being torn up in molecules and reformed seems to facilitate the work of the vile corruption. Beyond the nightmares that haunt those touched by the void, the tendrils so aptly showcased on the cover, the summoning of things from the void. The gifts also feature vastly extended reach for these tendrils, warping space, which grants progressively better effects and begins with ignoring difficult terrain and also nets a touch attack that deals untyped damage and feeds you. I'm never a fan of untyped damage, but considering the nasty stain (when you're touched, roll a Will-save or use it...your healers and support casters will love that...), I can see it work. Miss-chances due to non-Euclidean anomalies and all-around vision (which, alas, prevents you from closing your eyes versus gaze attacks...). Have I mentioned the option to gain bisected limbs (no, you won't be doing 4-Weapon-Fighting)?

The pdf does feature more than these corruptions, though: We are introduced to a variety of interesting feat-options, with the (Corrupt)-feats building in unique ways on the influence of corruptions: E.g. taking Abandoned Heritage eliminates your original subtypes if it is not the same as the one tied potentially to a corruption: Humans would, e.g. no longer be affected by abilities specifically targeting them. Gaining bonuses, courtesy of the malevolent forces that have touched you. There also would by the Corrupted Style-feat-tree, which enhances a chosen weapon or natural attack, and which may cause Wisdom damage with follow-up feats...and worse, at the pinnacle of the tree, you may spread your corruption via your attacks...Additional limited-uses of corruption abilities can also be found and there are (Salvation)-feats, which work perfectly for the more heroic horror adventures and characters, who wish to keep their corruption at bay.

More than the significant array of content we have covered so far, the pdf also offers templates to represent the creatures touched by corruptions in the book - which brings me to another aspect: Pretty much every corruption herein could carry an adventure of its own. The pdf also sports a CR 6 voidspawn drone as well as notes on greater voidspawns. On the item side of things, we get a bane variant versus those corrupted and a weapon that can mend itself by damaging those tainted by the darkness...oh, and its wielder can gain temporary hit points, with a fitting maximum limit. The despoiling feaster rapier is particularly potent in the hands of a creature with a manifestation level, while a set of harnesses can act as helpful boosters for corruption manifestations. The diamond of corruption expulsion allows you to extract your corruption, Mr. Hyde-style, while specific masks that sport taboos offering protection. The pdf also sports the Dervish of Dawn and Leshy Warden archetypes and two feats as reference material for the proper use of the NPCs featured herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with only minor hiccups (like a plural glitch and some straggling italicizations missed). Rules-language-wise, the pdf is as precise as I like it to be - no complaints there. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks featured are nice original pieces done in the same style as that on the cover - i.e. Jacob Blackmon's distinct style. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alexander Augunas, N. Jolly and Isabelle Lee deliver big time in this cool supplement - the corruptions have unique angles, worthwhile gifts and twisted stains. The supplemental material is similarly qualitatively high and the items sport some cool angles as well. Each of the corruptions has the ability and potential to carry an adventure or series of modules and plentiful character concepts. The Kaiju corruption should find its fans even in the hardcore fantasy crowd that doesn't like horror, while the devolution corruption just begs to be used in the context of pulp games. In short: This pdf is most assuredly useful and amazing beyond the confines of its thematic focus - and what more can you ask of such a book? I most certainly want more/a sequel! This is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Corruption Codex
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Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2017 10:22:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

The revised and expanded edition of this pdf clocks in at 58 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, 6 pages of SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, I'm not starting with the subject matter, but with the houserule mentioned on the first page: It's kinda weird that bloodline spells are learned later, so the pdf provides an interesting and concise way to fix that without increasing the power of the class. Beyond that, we also get alternate rationalizations why a given character may have the draconic bloodline, from constellations to soul-wrenching rites of passage, this makes for a basic and pretty nice introduction. The pdf also presents suggestions of how a given bloodline may influence the character's behavior, which is a nice roleplaying aspect in the crunchy tome.

But what is this truly about? Well, to put it bluntly, the author at one point realized that it is kind of dumb that one draconic bloodline represents the influence of all of dragonkind, with its distinct and widely diverging branches. So, while we reiterate the basic draconic bloodline as a starting point, we from here on out extrapolate the respective, more customized ones. This usually not only changes a couple of bloodline spells and powers, but makes them work as basically their own, unique and distinct entities. The respective abilities are formatted in a slightly unconventional manner, with the respective ability names in power-point like bubbles and tabs on top, denoting the precise ability type and the level it's gained - while not immediately aesthetically pleasing, from an organizational point of view, this solution proved to be surprisingly efficient in conveying the necessary information - so yeah, I actually grew to like it pretty quickly.

Speaking of sensible and smart ways of conveying information: The sub-chapters of the pdf begin with tables that denote the spells, breath weapons and powers of the respective draconic bloodlines in tables that render the use of the pdf extremely comfortable. Now, as mentioned, the draconic bloodlines featured herein do not completely change the draconic base bloodline, instead opting for what could be considered to be an approach similar to mutated or wildblooded bloodlines, though the changes made. A sorceror who traces his ancestry to a black dragon, for example, gains the sire's ability to breathe underwater and freely use spells, breath weapon etc. while submerged - which makes all kinds of sense to me.

Where applicable, scaling mechanisms have been included - for example regarding the electricity aura of sorcerors hailing from a blue bloodline. That being said, in some of the scaling information bits, very minor and purely aesthetic hiccups have crept in: While it is evident that the damage increase should cause electricity damage, the pdf omits the damage type for these increases. That is me at my nitpickiest, though, and should not be taken as a complaint against the rules-integrity of the pdf - from context, the damage type is perfectly evident and referenced a sentence before. Amazing: The blue bloodline sorcerors get WINGS OF LIGHTNING. That actually interact with breath weapon etc. at higher levels. Come on, those visuals are cool! Sorcerors with a red sire can, as a capstone, learn to incinerate foes utterly with their breath, as another cool example of such custom abilities.

While the first section of the pdf covers the chromatics, as you no doubt have gleaned by now, the second section proceeds to cover the metallic dragons, where brass dragons get the sandstorm capstone of their parentage, while scions of bronze receive water mastery and the ability to generate vortices at higher levels. It should be noted that many of these abilities in themselves do feature a scaling mechanism, improving over the course of the respective bloodline's ability-steps.

Thirdly, beyond these two classic families of dragon, we take a look at the primal dragons as well, with the cloud scion's lightning fog at 9th level constituting a neat example for the ability. Minor hiccups in rules-syntax have, just fyi, been taken care of. Kudos there!. And yes, even the claw progressions of the respective bloodlines also tend to differ in some ways, which was a welcome surprise to me. That being said, while it is easy to resort to the default, I still would have appreciated the natural attack abilities specifying whether they're primary or secondary - still, that is purely aesthetic and won't influence the final verdict, as it is based on the way in which the original bloodline was worded. On the plus-side and to give you an example, umbral-blooded sorcerors gaining the ghost touch property for their claws makes sense to me.

The pdf doesn't even stop there, though - the imperial dragons are yet another massive group of dragons covered with proper bloodlines, which should elicit cheers from the WuXia crowd...and, once again, the ability-modifications make sense as a whole: Forest dragon-bloodline sorcerors gaining huntsman claws and a capstone that lets them petrify foes, for example, makes sense to me and sets them apart from a flavor point of view in an interesting manner. The capstone for sky dragon bloodline sorcerors to ignore electricity immunity and resistance with their breaths makes for nasty surprises and the sovereign dragon's heritage, which increases the DC of spell saves and allows for the conjuring of golden armor (and a master counterspelling capstone) also fits the themes of the draconic sire.

"But wait, endy," you're saying "that's not all dragons!" You'd be right. Even the frickin' outer dragons are covered! Solar dragon sorcerors get lay on hands - and yes, the pdf does provide information for what happens if you multiclass with paladin, just fyi. Big plus: The verbiage of the ability and its multiclass interaction have been cleaned up and now provide full synergy without a means to misread the material.

.

Speaking of which, the pdf is not always perfect regarding its abilities: The time dragon's "second chance"-ability, for example, reads: "At 3rd level, you get a bonus to initiative checks equal to 1/2 your sorceror level." (VERY potent - keep it away from mythic gaming!) and provides rerolls at higher levels - the ability, which could previously be misread if you tried hard, has been streamlined further and now works in a precise manner. Kudos.

The revised iteration of this book, however, features more tweaks: Accounting for the Player Companion: Legacy of Dragons, the pdf now includes the expanded draconic bloodline options, such as arcana for the draconic families and the breath weapon types. The Draconic Manifestation feat has also been integrated into the material - and it should be noted that the form of the exotic/alien dragon spells have been integrated into the various different bloodlines. Better yet, the pdf actually explains some very minor (and imho justified) divergences in design paradigms here. And yes, the book has changed more than half of the bloodline arcanas herein to maintain compatibility and a unified perspective. What I'm trying to say is this: The pdf has not only taken the minor hiccups and fixed them, it went the extra mile while doing so. I really appreciate this mentality.

The pdf ends with designer's notes that explain why esoteric dragons have not been included, the design-goals and an exceedingly helpful and detailed six-page index for the pdf that makes navigation really, really comfortable. And before you're asking - I actually checked the index - yep, it has been updated to represent the changes made to the file and the expanded content - again, big kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have been improved from their already impressive original iteration - this is now top-notch. The colored ability-headers can be a bit of a drain on the printer, but other than that, no complaints in that area. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes with very detailed, nested bookmarks that render navigation comfortable. These, in conjunction with the index and the clean and crisp presentation generate an overall extremely easy to use pdf.

Keith Davies' "Draconic Bloodlines" fix a hole in the rules that is so evident, it's a wonder it hasn't been taken care of earlier. I have often wondered why the draconic bloodline has been neglected thus and this massive differentiation of the material is more than appreciated. Better yet, the themes of the respective draconic sires often feature unique and rather fun visuals that set the respective sorceror apart. This book is a godsend for campaigns wishing to play with multiple draconic characters, feuds, etc. and I'm certainly going to use it in Legendary Games' upcoming dragon-AP.

Balance-wise, the abilities sometimes exceed that of the base draconic bloodline by a slight bit, but considering that it is not the strongest of options in the first place, I am good with that - the pdf should not provide any difficulties regarding balance, even when used in gritty campaigns. In short: Even the most hardcore gritty and restrictive of games should encounter no issues while using this pdf.

The revised edition goes the extra mile and not only updates the very few minor hiccups I found, but also expands the content further, making this a rewarding, cool and well-presented file. The design decisions make sense to me and the overall presentation of the material makes this, as a whole, a pdf certainly worth getting for the more than fair asking price. My final verdict of the file will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Just one note: Fans of Bloodragers won't get anything out of this file, but then again, there is always the chance of a sequel.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Expansions: Draconic Bloodlines
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Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:46:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 255 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 248 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

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

Okay, so this is a massive book for the...let's say, more unconventional races out there. The respective write-ups have a couple of things in common, so let's start with establishing that: For the most part, the races have either not been properly covered in the respective books that introduced them or get some additional coverage herein; the write-ups contain a well-written prose-introduction to the race at hand, proper age, height & weight tables (YEAH!), the basic racial stats, alternate racial traits, notes on society, nomenclature and the like and racial equipment as well as archetypes. A formatting peculiarity here would be that the archetypes specify an "Associated Class" instead of putting the class-name in brackets behind the archetype's name, but that's a purely cosmetic decision. It is a matter of taste whether you like that the archetypes herein list the abilities they replace and modify in their respective lists in the beginning of the archetype entry. The plus-side is that you quickly see whether the build is relevant for your concept or not. The downside would be that one loses the direct correlation between abilities gained and replaced...but since I figure that this is more important for me in a reviewer-capacity than for people using the options, I will not penalize the book for that choice.

Racial deities can also be found and the respective entries sport sample NPCs for your perusal, beginning at the low levels and scaling up to the higher CRs - while the levels are different from race to race, you generally should find a feasible build for each roughly approximated level-range. 5 such builds are provided per race.

The pdf also contains a MASSIVE array of favored class options for each of the races, covering the classes up to and including the ACG, as well as the Ultimate Psionics-classes - yep, fans of Dreamscarred Press, this book has some serious fodder. Fans of rogue Genius Games amazing Time Thief class will similarly love that the class gets its due here. For those of us who enjoy a dash of science-fantasy, the chapter on racial technology should put a smile on quite a few faces, with 9 spells interacting with racial technology provided for your convenience, taking some of ten classics from ten Technology Guide. Similarly, feats required for crafting etc. have been reproduced in this section and we get specific items for the "non-high-powered" (more on that distinction, or at least as how I see it, later) races that are featured in the book. These items encompass a serum that lets tengu spout wings, heavy gravity beam-weapons (really cool!) or microwave based charge-draining guns. Skinwalkers gain ferocity-enhancing implants as well as enhancer-drugs or claw plating as well as a skinwalker bloodrager archetype that modifies bloodrage to grant less potent numerical benefits, instead enhancing the Mark versions of implanted cybertech as well as floating charges while in his bloodrage. Interesting one!

Samsarans can implant a memory decryption device and I was rather intrigued by the Technology/Time-Thief crossover archetype they get - at the cost of massive set-ups, these guys get less motes, but can use them to grant herself instant turns...and surprisingly, it avoids the readying exploit . From context and logic, it seems like delaying isn't viable either, but as a nitpick, I think it would have helped to spell that out here. Very potent, but interesting option for the class.

Lizardfolk equipment sports selectively harmful poisonous gas thrower, underwater combat tech and internalized triggers, while gillmen receive 3 archetypes: Voidwright arcanists may dabble in the dark tapestry mystery for arcane exploits and can drain tech items. I would not allow this guy. He casts Sor/Wiz spells as divine spells, which is utterly OP. The samurai ancient infantry gains limited bloodrager castintg with a unique list as well as tech expertise instead of mounts and order, which works out surprisingly well - like it! The advanced error dread tech and dread tricks and gains a tentacle at higher levels, but loses 3 terrors and psionic manifesting. Elans gain 5 pieces of cool devices, including hard light thieves' tools and enhancers versus psionic assaults in a solid, if potent item array. The catfolk tech rigger is a modification of the investigator class, replacing poison tricks and the associated alchemy options with appropriate technological replacements. Oh, and no studied strike, but we do get tech bombs. Finally, androids not only receive a rogue archetype, but also ten Technology domain.

Speaking of androids: These guys would be the first race graced with a full entry, so let's move from the tech-guide appendix back to the start of the tome, shall we? One note here: While it would be possible t analyze the content in piece by piece, this would bloat the review to something in the vicinity of 30+ pages - this book is incredibly dense. In favor of readability and to give you a proper overview of the material contained herein, I will thus endeavor to remain brief in my descriptions of the material.

As you can glean from the introduction of androids here, the regular races featured herein rank approximately on par with the stronger core races and plane-touched races. The base racial traits don't tend to be modified, but it should be noted that this does not mean that you won't get new material out of the race trait section: Androids, for example, can benefit from the anomaly alternate racial trait, which eliminates their morale bonus lock-out, but at an appropriately hefty cost. Similar alternates are provided and include making them e.g. being potentially prone to being bluffed. The living weapon brawler uses energy weapons instead of unarmed strikes in his distinct fighting style, while the nanoshade is a ninja who replaces ki pools with nanite reserves and even potentially infuse them into targets. Thought scribe psions replace disciplines and discipline abilities with psionic circuitry and Scribe Tattoo, gaining psionic tattooing at increasing potency. Wiremind cryptics lose the trap-related abilities in favor of some skill bonuses, which sounds unremarkable - but 6th level's ability is somewhat potentially problematic, granting effectively a second psionic focus. Considering the vast combo-potential of quite a lot abilities, this is something I'd be incredibly weary of at that level -I'd frankly disallow it and consider it problematic.

Beyond these archetypes, we get quite a few nice class options to evade at higher levels, for example, blindsight, add electricity damage to Elemental Fist, gain some resistances, extra race ability uses -etc. The philosophy, the Final Cause, and the associated inquisitor archetype are solid and the spells as well as the power presented herein (which allows you to Upload yourself into an android body) are intriguing. Items that allow androids to use nanite surges to generate antimagic shields (which are partially selective!) and such make for a cool array as well. It should also be noted that each of the races comes with a small chapter that deals with integration of the race into an ongoing campaign, its themes, etc. -which is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

The second races presented herein would be the catfolk, with the nine lives racial trait being worth of special mention - it can be sued exactly 9 times and can prevent death. This is, obviously, not intended for all campaigns, but depending on the type of game you're running, it can be considered to be amazing. Among the class options, we have the feral rager barbarian, who gains a mobility-focus (dodge-bonuses, Ref- instead of Will-save bonus in rage) in favor of the classic DR etc. Treedancer slayers get a modified talent selection and a replacement for tracking, moving stalker to 7th level and focusing on climbing etc. The race gets a whole array of rogue talents that include subtle communication via tails, fast squeezing, etc. The grymalkin bloodline gets a dazing touch attack. On the racial feat side, we get better flanking etc. as well as Copy-Cat, which allows you to duplicate of a feat used by an ally - its frame is that it requires the feat to be used in that encounter. And it has a per-encounter limit. sigh Insert here my rant on why per-encounter abilities make no sense whatsoever. On the plus-side: Low-range blindsense due to Sensitive Whiskers? Makes sense to me and the high-level Pounce and Rake option will find its fans. The racial deities number 3 this time around and the associated archetype this time around would be the ghost hunter paladin, who is, bingo a nemesis-type archetype focusing on the destruction of incorporeal foes. On the magic-side of things, we have a spell that allows the ignoring of circle of protection and protection from type spells (Yep, adding that to the arsenal of my nasties...) as well as an evil spell to cause toxoplasmosis and the conjuration of a semi-real, feral cat-swarm. A magical prayer kit and a wine that is potent, but used in religious ceremony, enhancing cleric abilities complement this section.

Changelings would be the third race herein and represent perhaps one of the most customizable of races I have seen - the alternate racial traits further diversify the array of choices the base race provides, with the option of Paternal heritage mattering (and replacing the hag heritage). This trait alone covers almost two pages, with races from drow to suli and the ARG-races covered alongside many herein. Kudos indeed! The Heartshorn witch is easily one of the coolest archetypes in the book: The witch removes her heart, making it into a stone - this acts as an Achilles heel, yes, but it also allows the witch to redirect (with restrictions) effects to the stone. This is simple and elegant and I really enjoy it. The incantrix sorcerer is a bit less cool, replacing bloodline arcana and the 9th and 15th level bloodline power with SR, arcane sight and Cha-based Knowledge and Spellcraft. The healing-themed Cleansed sorceror bloodline can mitigate some potent negative conditions and makes for an interesting take on the arcane healer. Some solid rogue talents and the accursed bloodrager bloodline (with limited use staggering gazes and horrific visage as well as other, neat hag-themed abilities) complement this section. We also get a Cleansed bloodrager bloodline that focuses more on gusts of wind to disperse miasmas or purification by fiery bursts, featuring more visceral and less angelic themes than the sorceror version -kudos for making these so distinct from one another.

The feats allow for the further development of the magical ancestry of the race...or for the storing of potions in your lungs (!!). Eye-dyes and 3 racial deities also are part of this chapter and we get no less than 4 archetypes associated with these deities, 2 for the cleric class, 1 inquisitor and 1 ranger, though apart from the caravan-master style ranger, I wasn't blown away by these brief tweaks of the base class. Hag Aspect spells and darklight as well as caps that make you hard to be remembered can also be found here.

Next up would be the elan race and it is one I have a love-hate-relationship with; on the one hand, I adore the race for its unique history and feeling, and on the other...well, if you've ever played a truly efficient elan, you know how potent they can be. The numerous traits featured herein do provide some nice customization options that stand out, providing e.g. temporary crystal armor, being breathless and the like - considering the power of the traits replaced, these make sense indeed. I am not a big fan of the alternate racial trait, which pays for +4 Str,D ex or Con with -2 Charisma, as that renders the race more min-maxy than it already is. This minor guffaw, however, is quickly remedied by one of my favorite archetypes herein, the ratha priest slayer psychic warrior, who specializes in hampering the abilities of the devout. Similarly, the creche defender fighter provides a nice, slightly psionic option - compared to the archetypes of the other races, these stand out via their conceptual strength and the fact that they offer distinct playing experiences. Some crossover rogue talents and the arcane elan bloodline for sorcerors allow for a wider focus for the race than before, which is another plus. The feats provide some nice expasnions for elan abilities in conjunction with psionics and from psiflares to mundane tomes that provide benefits, we have a strong equipment section as well. The racial deity is supplement by a psionics/oracle crossover that works rather well and the psychic domain. 5 solid racial powers can be found -and while one permanently degrades an item's hardness, its massive +5d6 damage boost can be a big issue with characters that have the option to create weaponry ex nihilo....so yeah, I'd strongly suggest banning that one. Speaking of which_: Crystals that can hold psionic focus for paltry +3K should die in a fiery blaze. Considering the massive combo-potential one such crystal alone can yield...

The gillmen section provides claws, among other things, as alternate racial traits (as often, you have to defer to the default rather than having the type of natural attack spelled out), though the angle is interesting - as presented here, the race has been freed from the dominion of their erstwhile masters, which is represented in a more wholesome flavor. Archetype-wise, we get an aqautic monk, the wave crasher, the lightningcaster magus (bingo: electricity specialist) and the tentacled horror bloodrager, who provides the eldritch flavor that you'd have expected, with tentacles that can hold but not use) items and higher-level off-hand tentacle attacks. The precise rules-interactions here can become a tad bit wobbly, as tentacles usually are natural attacks. The section also provides the nice catshark familiar as well as new options, once again including psionic ones and even a temporal talent and the order of the sinking ship, which is a bit problematic: When issuing an order, he is not affected by environmental damage, which RAW would include pits of acid, lava, etc. - it's pretty clear that that's not meant, but still - a more concise wording would make sense here. On the plus side, from giant seahorses to snapping turtles and manta rays, the new companions included are neat. The feats are okay, but I'm not 100% blown away by them, Racial deity wise, we get a good deity and Cthulhu, who also gets Bringer of Insanity warpriests, which tie into the Madness domain and replace sacred weapon with sneak attack - not blown away here. The depths shaman spirit is, on the other hand, pretty cool - and speaking of which, the racial spells this time around are nifty: Conjuring forth basically weaponized salmon to bludgeon your foes is cool. And yes, you can fence with a swordfish. Wall of water is also pretty classic. The magic item section this time around is decent, but not universally so: Adding + casting ability modifier to damage (even possible for SPs) can be rather potent, particularly underwater, when you also add the spell-level of the highest spell/SP known to damage dealt. Yes, it can only be used on melee weapons, but I can get past that as well.

The next race within would be the lizardfolk, who get a potentially diseased bite, chameleon scales, bulky or small physiology - some cool alternate racial options here. The tribal defender fighter would be a defensive fighter who gains several nice abilities that enhance the protection of allies, though the competing attack roll mechanic introduced at higher levels is not something I'm fond of. The cannibal bloodrager bloodline makes for a cool and well-crafted one, though, once again, a high-level option isn't perfect and can be (slightly and not too efficiently) cheesed. The chapter also contains the Anointed One PrC, which provides full BAB-progression as well as 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression and 2 + Int skills per level. The PrC focuses on an anointed weapon and the use of oils to enhance it, dabbling a bit in mutagens and discoveries for an alchemical fighter. The option to lock weapons with an attacker is interesting and concisely presented, making use of AoOs and the weapon in question to negate hits, which is per se, damn cool. A GM should just be weary to not let an indestructible weapon such as an artifact fall into the hands of the character. The serious array of racial feats allows for the expansion of the potency of the natural attacks. Personally, I am not a fan of yet another feat to increase the damage output of Vital Strikes. Two racial deities and 3 subdomains can be found, and no, I don't have any issues here. Oracles may choose the albinism curse, which is pretty cool The anti-fire battle-magic squall makes for a potent and neat spell and the magic items, for the most part, are neat - though once again there's an option here to further increase Vital Strike damage. As always, I'd advise caution here.

Among the merfolk, we gain two full-blown subtypes in addition to the alternate racial traits, with the angufolk and the octopi adding some nice visuals, though the latter, with +2 Dex and Con, are a bit lopsided on the physical side for my tastes. Still: Octopi-merfolk. Cool. Archetype-wise, the cyraniel bard is an investigator crossover with diminished spellcasting and an inspiration pool to enhance skills. The thematically-fitting aegan sorceror bloodline, which draws upon the Sea King's powers and the carcharodon bloodragers that tap into the wrath of megalodons, make for solid options, though the former has a purely cosmetic hiccup in the capstone header, sporting the "20" from the level it's gained. I really like the feat that lets you see better in murky water and mud and the swift octo-trip option among the racial feats. Edible cork and coral armor make for nice pieces of equipment. A new power lets you form legs on land and there are some nice utility underwater spells. The iconic belt of the land walker also provides a nice option to allow merfolk to adventure on dry land. I also liked the ink-grenades here and the artifact, the trident of the 7 seas, is appropriately potent!

The chapter on samsarans has the unfortunate handicap of having to compete with the Dynastic Races Compendium, though one should mention that it doesn't do a bad job at it - the alternate racial traits are solid and tie in well with the reincarnation-angle of the race. The pdf takes a different approach here, focusing more on the aspect of time, with the chronomancer wizard (who basically replaces schools etc. with spell echoes and customized bonus spells, arcane bond, etc.), the anti-evil knight eternal paladin and the timeless warden druid, who emphasizes the cyclical nature and is more a guardian-style priest of nature than a wood-stalking hermit, gaining channel energy, but losing wild shape, woodland stride, etc. The Panacean sorceror bloodline would, bingo, be another arcane healing option - their touch can provide nourishment and they even receive some lay on hands and mercy-tricks. Depending on your attributes, you may select feats to retain some knowledge from previous lives and some samsaran priests may even use channel energy to heal ability damage and drain - though thankfully with proper prerequisites and ratio - kudos! On the faith-side of things, the deity presented here is supplemented by the dreams mystery and the vision subdomain, both of which are solid options. I am particularly partial to the nonlethal damage causing touch that comes with a free merciful upgrade at later levels. Showing the truth of a soul via a polymorph-effect or gaining flashes of insight from previous lives are some examples for the spells featured herein...and there is a blade to grant final death to reincarnating creatures. It also makes sense to me that there are capsules that contain information from past lives. All in all, I liked the chapter, but compared to the in-depth look in Dynastic Races Compendium, it was shorter and thus had less space to develop its take on the race.

Next up would be the pretty potent skinwalker race, who gains alternate change shape options among the alternate racial traits and traits to ignore a single 5-ft.-square of difficult terrain while running or charging. The archetypes feature the beastwalker druid, who gains the ability to assume hybrid forms via wild shape. The kinetic assailant replaces the mind-blade enhancing options with the means to use move actions to store kinetic energy in unarmed or natural attacks, increasing their damage output. While generally functional, the core ability of the archetype deviates significantly in the way it is presented from how such rules-operations are usually phrased. As such, there are a couple of rough patches here. The rougarou witch replaces patron and may choose the governing attribute for her magic. With diminished spellcasting and familiar as well as a natural spellstrike variant, the archetype is really intriguing and provides an interesting playing experience - two thumbs up for this one! The wild stalker hunter is a minor tweak. Cursed scars and wounds and new animal foci make for more compelling options. The racial feats focus on enhancing natural attacks (such as using a swift action to add a grapple attempt to a bite), tripping foes that run from you, etc. - all in all an interesting selection and one that thankfully hides pounce behind a sufficient level-cap. Beyond 3 sample deities, we also get a new shaman spirit, who focuses on the moon - including "lunacy" to confuse targets - and yep, that's where the word comes from -in German it's "mondsüchtig" - moon-addicted, but that as an aside. I like the spirit! The moon/hunter-theme also extends to the spell-array, with one allowing for the sharing of the skinwalker's bestial form...The magic items cover an iteration of the classic lycanthrope-mantle, transformative masks and shape-locking arrows.

Next up would be the tengus, who can hail from ravens and sports a rather nice assortment of traits and solid alternate racial traits as well - no complaints here! Aerialist swashbucklers focus on jumping over foes, attacking them from above, etc., while crow shamans get modified class skills and spells as well as some trickster style at-range theft...and item-cloaking. Nice one! Kite fighters specialize in the war kite (!! - That's a new weapon herein, btw.) weapon, while raven knight cavaliers get a raven that can carry them at 1st level at 1/2 speed (important note, considering the limitations of aerial mounts - but I still wish it didn't use an absolute value and instead employed proper carrying capacity and size-interactions. Spell scavenger wizards can use left-over magic to power spells and siphon off magic from dispels - interesting. A critical Eye Gouge feat is interesting...though move action combat feat duplication once again suffers from per-encounter mechanics. Using filth to make weapons infectious is...disgusting, but cool. The pdf contains two racial deities as well as an OP damage channeler, whose channel energy damages both living and undead, excluding the character. Yeah, no. Full untyped damage there? Nope. The spying subdomain is nice and so are the new magic options, which include the long nose curse, sword snapping bite and the theft of eyes. The magic items include geta that allow tengus to walk through hurricanes and warkites that help jumping or call down lightning. Pretty cool chapter!

The final two races herein would be more potent than the others, which is why I considered them to be worthy of extra mentioning - the wyrwood has full construct immunities (but also their instantaneous 0 hp destruction), while the wyvarang begins play with unassisted personal flight. Both are imho aspects that require some GM-consideration. But both also have in common that we have basically heard and seen nothing about them or their respective culture before, with the wyrwood entry making pretty clear that they can be an intriguing option when handled with care. Their crafted nature and stone-based variant, the latter provided in the alternate, make for an interesting background. Similarly, there is an option for a wyrwood to have emotions, unlocking them for a variety of options. The character options have a really cool tactician, who gains 3 unique strategies as well as the option to act as full cover for allies and some free-form temporary hit points that are shared among the collective - I assume that these are replenished after a rest, but I'm not 100% sure - they could also manifest upon forming a collective. The golembreaker would be anti-construct/undead/etc. rogue - nice! Alchemists can gain construct-healing options via a discovery and there is the eldritch bloodline, which, for bloodragers, features shield and low-range force damage for those nearby while in a bloodrage. The sorceror iteration of the bloodline instead features at-range Sleight of Hand, spying, etc., focusing on arcane subterfuge. Feats to craft Wyrwoods and repair them are neat, but I am particularly impressed by the ability to hold positive or negative energy for a limited time and deliver it to targets - the two feats here are really intriguing. A form of variant channeling for constructs and two philosophies can be found alongside the amaranthine mystery, which focuses on knowledge and construct mastery - including flooding the minds of foes with information. Construct-affecting cure-variants can be found, and the remainder of the magic and psionic options is decent, with e.g. a psionic shield other variant. In the magic item section, an item class that can absorb energy damage to regain spell levels deserves some serious warning, as the item class can delimit spells. The massive price is what keeps me from complaining more here - not broken, but potent.

The wyvaran, forged by the Tinkerer from kobolds and wyverns in the magical forge known as Cauldron (no, not the city in the Volcano!) come with a slew of alternate racial traits that include honoring the trapmaking of their kobold forebears, poison glands, better darkvision and fast healing when taking electricity damage - thankfully with a daily maximum to avoid infinite healing exploits. The class options include the intuitor investigator, who replace Inspiration with Intuition (which is governed by Wisdom, as are other class features). Regulator rangers replace the druid-y components of the ranger with warpriest tricks, while stormlancer cavaliers gain either the Air or Weather blessing and flight-enhancing tricks instead of the whole mount/charge-tree - cool one! Skylord monks lose fast movement and slow fall in favor of better flight options. The wyvern bloodline allows, among other things, a bite and the option to assume a semi-wyvern form at higher levels. Including poison. The racial feat array includes several ones that enhance flight as well as options to use wings defensively and the option to use tail or wings for attacks - cool: These are properly codified as secondary/primary natural attacks. The equipment section sports shrieking armor (which makes a ruckus when charging) and there are two racial deities provided. Reaper clerics can deliver inflict spells via weaponry and they can use their scythes to generate arcs of energy that are half negative energy and half "pure force" - does that mean force damage? I'm honestly not sure, but either way, losing a domain and channel energy makes for a viable trade-off for these potent tricks. The racial spells include the 9th level pillar of doom, which is pretty damn badass (it can explode or topple) as well as the updraft cantrip, which can help while flying. The magic items this time around are less interesting in my book, offering a crown that causes panic, a morningstar with form of the dragon I - you get the idea.

It should be noted that the book contains a massive spells & powers appendix by class and level, as well as a massive 5-page index that helps navigating this massive tome.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are impressive for a crunch-book of this size. I mean it. The bonus and damage types are admirably, impressively consistent, the rules-language and narrative voices of the respective chapters have been brought together into a concise whole - the editors Richard Moore and Kevin Morris have done a really good job here. Considering the number of authors involved, that's an impressive accomplishment! Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the book sports a significant array of full-color artwork, both original and stock pieces. The book comes with EXCESSIVE, nested bookmarks for your convenience - in conjunction with the appendices, this makes navigation of the tome very comfortable. I cannot comment on the physical version, since I do not own it.

My heartfelt congratulations to the cadre of authors: Michael Eshleman, Joel Flank, Sasha Hall, Maurice de Mare, Dale McCoy Jr., Matthew Ryan, Richard Moore, Ken Morris, E. Steev Ramsdell, David N. Ross, Rachel Ventura and Goerge "Loki" Williams. Racial books have a hard time convincing me of their reason to exist - you see, I expect more from a race than stats - I expect a culture, an interesting roleplaying angle. That alone is, for many races, a hard task. This book had an even harder standing. I never made any pretensions of liking the ARG - I hate the book with a fiery passion. This tome is largely based on races from the ARG - but it manages to make them feel like more than the sum of their mechanics, adding depth and dimension to them. Now, I consider the wyvaran and wyrwood races, balance-wise, problematic; same goes for the skinwalkers, but it would not be fair to penalize this book, as it was crafted to build on the existing races. To cut an already oversized review short: This massive tome manages to add much-needed depth to the respective races. The racial class options, while not all pure amazing, most of the time tie in with racial options and forma concise whole that makes it pretty clear how they tie in with the race in question. This focused identity adds further dimensions to the races in question. The fluff serves to enhance the individual entries as well.

For a book of this size and depth, let it be known that the crunch is impressive - while there are some instances where I can complain and nitpick, as a whole, the book holds up really well. My gripes come mainly from my knowledge of combos, from minor nitpicks and a rather conservative power-aesthetic. I think, for example, that psionic options herein tend to severely undervalue the massive power that more psionic foci can net. It should be noted, that crunch I'd consider problematic remains the exception in a massive book.

Most folks probably will encounter no issues with the material herein and it should be strongly emphasized that the majority of the material herein works smoothly - to the point where I was honestly impressed. This may not be perfect, but it most assuredly is a high-quality compilation and an incredibly tightly-packed book of crunch that brings to life races that were nothing but pale stats before. What more can you ask for? If you hated these races before, then this book may change actually that! If you wanted more detail, then this book will deliver. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
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Incarnate Hybrid Class
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:43:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The incarnate is a hybrid of oracle and barbarian and receives d12 HD as well as 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons, as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Incarnates draw spells from the cleric spell list, which are first gained at 4th level. The spellcasting is spontaneous and governed by Charisma. They don't require a divine focus and may not swap mystery or cure/inflict spells when leveling up - as a minor complaint, these spell-references have not been italicized. Spellcasting caps at 4th level, just fyi. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves.

2nd level provides uncanny dodge, 5th improved uncanny dodge and 7th level yields DR 1/-, which increases by +1 at 10th level and every 3 levels thereafter. The incarnate begins play with fast movement and the oracle's curse - this sports an ambiguity: As oracle curse progression is usually tied to to levels, with non-oracle levels and HD counting as 1/2 levels, so it's not 100% clear whether incarnate levels are treated as oracle levels or as other levels for the purpose of this ability. 14th level nets a +4 bonus to Will-saves versus enchantment spells (but RAW, not abilities) while soulraging.

What is soulraging? Well, it is one of the defining features of this hybrid class: 4 + Constitution modifier rounds per day, +2 rounds for every level first level. While in soulrage, the character receives a +4 profane bonus to Str and Con (interesting bonus type choice) and a +2 morale bonus to Will-saves, but -2 to AC. The ability gets temporary hit point increase etc. right. Unlike a barb's rage, soulrage does not hamper skills that require concentration and incarnate spells (and only them - kudos!) can be cast while in soulrage. Soulrage btw. qualifies as rage for the purpose of feats and prerequisites. Analogue to the barbarian, 11th level provides an upgrade of the bonuses to +6/+3, respectively, with 17th level providing the tireless and 20th level the big +8/+4 upgrades.

However, soulrage, starting at 11th level, does allow for a unique trick: Upon entering soulrage, you can apply the effects of a cleric or mystery spell of 2nd level or lower to herself, with the limitation of requiring a range of touch or personal - and the use still consumes the spell slot. If the duration exceeds 1 round, it lasts for the whole soulrage, which is the aspect I consider most problematic here, as there are spells with durations that are significantly lower for a reason. The capstone eliminates the 2nd-level restriction, just fyi.

The second defining feature of this hybrid class would be its mysteries - chosen at first level, these act pretty much as you'd expect them to, but they are distinct from those of the standard oracle. The mysteries add 3 skills to the list of class skills and grant mystery bonus spells at 7th level and every 3 level thereafter, up to the 16th. As a minor complaint: The mystery base ability's wording mentions a spell gained at 4th level and the spell-progression mentioned in the base ability directly contradicts that of the mysteries themselves and the table - I assume that the latter are correct. Still, this is a pretty nasty hiccup that should have been caught. A total of 10 different mysteries are detailed herein, focusing mostly on a nature theme. The respective mysteries govern the precise abilities gained at 1st level, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, providing a linear ability progression in the revelations gained - in short, they behave a bit more like bloodlines than mysteries. Where appropriate, they are governed by Charisma, just fyi.

To give you a brief run-down of the mysteries: Battle provides expanded proficiencies - all martial AND exotic weapons (!!) - but the latter only while raging. 4th levels yields a high-range chant that provides minor bonuses to allies - and lacks an activation action, duration or what it takes to maintain it. We can also find better AoOs into threatened areas and, at high-levels DR based on stoneskin, replacing your regular DR...which may, in some situations, be a minor drawback, as stoneskin has a fixed cap of preventable damage AND revelation powers only work while soulraging. on a cosmetic side, the two highest level ability names have not been properly italicized.

The Bones mystery nets you an armor bonus-granting (and later also DR-granting) bones-armor while soulraging (COOL!) - but does the "last after soulrage ends"-timer rest upon reentering soulrage? the ability-interaction here is a bit wonky. Adding bleeding wounds to negative damage is nice, but if you don't take an inflict spell, you're locked out of the benefit until you gain the follow-up revelation power, since RAW, the incarnate does not have the spontaneous spell-conversion. High-level abilities here net you undead to fight beside you and a negative energy touch. Once again, action-economy is not always as clear as it should be - something that extends to quite a few abilities throughout the mysteries, mind you.

The respective mysteries also influence the capstone, mind you, with each granting a form of Apotheosis that is sufficiently strong - and the small rules interaction glitches herein do accumulate, unfortunately: I like e.g. a power word: kill 1/day, with hit point limit increased to 150, but I think it probably was intended to be a SP and thus codified. There is a cool heat aura in the flame mystery that causes damage and grants concealment with limited daily uses, fire breath, etc. - as a minor complaint, a couple of these should probably refer to class levels, not levels "Heavans"([sic!] - that typo is the header...) provides some cool star-based defensive and offensive options - including a nice idea to represent the dweller in dark via spells.

The life mystery nets channel energy while in soulrage. RAW, however, only damage healed and caused is used for the calculation, which means that daily uses are locked. That being said, transformation into a being of life is a pretty cool visual! (And yes, I can poke some minor holes in this one as well, but by now you get the idea.) The Lore mystery suddenly mentions a patron that the class does not have and focuses on violently probing the mind of others, representing the war-scholar type of trope. Nature has abilities that stabilize you via temporary fast healing and the option at higher levels to leech hit points (should be negative energy damage, imho) and gain temporary hit points. This would btw. be a place to mention an issue in rules-interaction: Several revelation powers duplicate spells as accompanying effects upon entering soulrage. However, these include summons, which I assume will vanish - still a ruling on duration-interactions would be fitting here. Stone provides reflexive weapon damage, stability and the like. Waves include cold damage and slow on critical hits, while wind e.g. adds stagger effects to crits. That may be a personal thing, but I'm not the biggest fan of such save-less crit-fishing boons, but that will not enter into the considerations of the final verdict. Still: Limited use long-range thunderclaps and the like are pretty cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are much better than usual for Wayward Rogues Publishing's offerings: While there are glitches in formatting, there are less than in previous classes. From a rules-language point of view, the class is mostly solid in its base-chassis, with only the interaction of revelation powers not always being perfect. If you're willing to make a few calls, though, the class remains pretty functional. Layout adheres to Wayward Rogue's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a blend of really nice, original artworks and a few stock pieces. The pdf doesn't have bookmarks, which is an annoying comfort detriment. Furthermore, the pdf does not allow you to select, search of copy text, which is extremely annoying and a pretty big comfort detriment. If you want to extract information for your char-sheet, you have to do so by hand.

Rodney Sloan's incarnate ranks among the better of hybrid classes I covered from the Wayward Rogues. For one, while it does not have a potent leitmotif in the traditional sense, it does play in a pretty unique way, somewhat akin to a paladin/barb with oracle sprinkled in. Now, balance-wise, I am not 100% sold on all decisions, partially due to the minor ambiguities found herein. That being said, the linear mysteries provide distinct playstyles, which is a plus. On the downside, there is, apart from mystery choice, no player agenda here - you get this one choice and that's it. Still, while not perfect, I can see this class being fun for some groups, making this a quintessential mixed bag, slightly dragged down by the editing and comfort-issues. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Incarnate Hybrid Class
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The Illuminator's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:40:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansions-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 a page blank, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction and explanation on how to use this book, we move on to new class options, the first of which would be the astrology hedgewitch tradition, which nets Knowledge (Geography), Knowledge (planes) and Perception as class skills and the Light sphere as a bonus magic talent. As a tradition power, these gals may project a so-called celestial aura as a swift action, which affects all allies (including the hedgewitch) within 30 ft. and lasts until dismissed - only one such aura may be projected at a given time and it increases the lighting levels up to normal. 4 types are included, of which you must choose 2. Moon nets an untyped (should probably be typed) bonus to Fort-saves and replenishing temporary hit points. Planet nets resistance to either fire or cold, with class levels added as scaling device. Star grants an untyped Perception bonus as well as a scaling initiative bonus (ouch) and Sun adds fire damage to weapon damage rolls, 1d4, +1d4 for every 5 class levels. Personally, I think that Moon, Star and Sun are significantly stronger than the other two options. The tradition secrets, 5 of which are presented, allow for the expansion of the aura radius or the ability to gain another aura. You can also gain an oracle revelation from the heavens mystery, modify the light-level of the aura...and the final one, the grand secret, lets you project two auras at once. The tradition mastery increases your character level by 5 for determining aura potency and lets you change auras as a swift action. A new hedgewitch secret lets you dabble in the tradition.

The pdf also contains archetypes, the first of which would be the glass-eye gunmage, who replaces Knowledge (local) with Knowledge (arcana) and Sleight of Hand with Spellcraft. He must also swap out two deeds of his choice, one at 1st and one at 3rd level. Instead of the first-level deed, he gains Lens Array, which nets a Perception bonus and allows for grit-expenditure to reroll Perception. The 3rd level deed lets him ignore penalties to Perception for being distracted or asleep and may expend 1 grit at the start of battle to not be treated as flat-footed. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the gunmage gains (lens) talents from the Light sphere, treating class levels as casting levels and using grit as a resource. EDIT: Big kudos to Amber Underwood and Drop Dead Studios - the previous issue in the lens-talents has been fixed, which means that the archetype works properly now! :D

The radiant paragon shifter replaces Handle Animal with bluff and gains the Light sphere at 1st level at full CL, as well as the Touch of Light drawback. This replaces animal empathy. The archetype also employs the new Bioluminescent Transformation feat at 3rd level, which adds glow to shapeshift, allowing for some combo potential. 8th level provides two unique traits to add to shapeshift - +1/2 caster level bonus to Stealth checks (untyped - meh) or demoralize as a swift action via sudden color-shifts. This replaces poison immunity.

The third archetype would be the sun warrior, based on the mageknight class, who replaces Handle Animal with Intimidate, uses Cha as casting ability modifier and is locked into the Light sphere at first level. The archetype also gains the Glory talent instead of gaining resist magic, and uses her class level as caster level "on" glows benefitting from Glory - which lets your glow shed low-range bright light for combo set-ups. This may be as well a place as any to note that the rules-language has some cosmetic deviations in the finer details - mostly nothing glaring, though. When the sun warrior would gain a mystic combat ability or bonus combat feat, the archetype may choose solar radiance abilities instead. 5 of these are presented and include for increased radius for Glory, selective light talent application when affecting equipment, more Light talents, lending the glow (not italicized here) affected by Glory to allies and free action Searing Light application ties in for a cool combo. By FAR the coolest archetype herein and the only one I really liked. It also lends itself very well for Dark Souls-esque characters: "Do you even praise the Sun, brah?" I'd enjoy playing this guy!

From here, we move on to basic talents, which include a minor errata for glow: When you create a glow you may cause it to shed bright light as part of the same action, but otherwise follow the normal rules for causing a glow to shed bright light. To give you a brief summary: (Lens) talents can be placed as a standard action on targets within glow, potentially requiring melee or ranged touch attacks to hit. Spell point expenditure can increase duration to 1 hour per CL. Among the (lens) talents, we can find Aiming Scope (here, proper bonus types are thankfully reinstated...) and the lenses include an option that nets you the option to Hide in Plain Sight - which is usually unlocked at a higher level - imho, this should have a minimum level requirement. Forcing rerolls from attackers and using lenses to ignore miss chances for living creatures is pretty potent - a reduction may have been more viable there. EDIT: Dim Lights only grants immunity to one's own lights to the target, but its wording could sue improvement - "You cause a target to suffer no ill effects from light." could be read as superseding/complementing the benefits of the talent.

(Nimbus) talents modify glow, but only one may b applied per glow. You may switch these as a free action, but they thankfully affect an area only once per round. These include the ability to make light-show style beams, selectively illuminate cubes or leave trails of light. There btw. also is an option to bypass the 1-nimbus restriction.

Beyond these subtypes, we also get quite an array of other talents - bending radiance, shedding black light, generate patterns that may cause targets to fall prone and we have dual application of light talents to glows. Very interesting would be Flash, which eliminates the end of turn only restriction imposed on the application of (light) talents. Having glow linger and controlling intensity as well as gaining artistic modifications of glows make for interesting, flavorful options. Nonlethal damage via glows also makes for a nice option.

The advanced magic chapter lets you generate motes of Dancing Lights glows, which is cool...but Diffuse Body is really intriguing. When you move while under the effects of Flicker, you actually move in two places - and only upon being attacked or targeted, you decide which location you are...basically Schrödinger's caster. Permanently imbuing objects with glow is nice, I guess. With another talent, you can turn a creature affected by Flicker into a being of pure light - very potent and thankfully locked behind an appropriate prereq-array...and the form may be further upgraded with vast movement superiority via Light Speed. Making the glow turn prismatic is similarly cool and Con-draining radiation light is cool. The chapter also contains two rituals - reflection/refraction, which alters objects and beacon pillar, creating a bauble you can crush to emit a beacon of light.

The feat-chapter includes Dual Sphere feats for Auroras and propulsion via beams, +2 MSB and MSD for Light sphere effects, doubled when trying to make an opposed check versus magical darkness; Firing light-based destructive blasts that are not hindered by windows, but by light-blocking things is nice. Creations of hard light, Photosynthesis. not a fan of addition of untyped damage to Searing Light, myself. 5 solid traits also are here and we get 3 sphere-specific drawbacks and 3 alternate racial traits. No complaints there.

The equipment section defines different light sources and types - motes, strobes, etc. -handy. Cool: radiant edge weapons project deadly light, slightly increasing their reach (Can I hear Burnt Ivory King?), but sans increasing the threatening range. Staves with sunset let glows linger slightly. There are 3 specific magic items, a veil that fortifies versus the dazzled condition, the brush that generates colorful ink and a nice miniature orrery. The pdf concludes with 6 radiant tattoos, which shed light and allows for hypnotizing targets while dancing, for doubling as a divine focus, etc. - no complaints here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good for the most part - in fact, the material is generally very good, though the class section could use some refinement - it has a couple of minor hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series. EDIT: The previously migraine-inducing bright, yellow headers have been dimmed down. Thank the deities! Artwork is a blend of the nice cover and some okay stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Amber Underwood had a relatively challenging task here - the sphere is simply not as "sexy" as some of its brethren, though this book does a valiant job enhancing the Light-options. While I disagree with some of the design decisions, as a whole, this is a well-made supplement with some minor imperfections. EDIT: With the headers and the archetype-glitch fixed, this now is a proper addition to the series, worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Illuminator's Handbook
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Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2017 14:39:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, I know - it does sound a bit like a contradictio in adjecto - horror and mythic gameplay? Well, once one thinks about it, that seeming contradiction is immediately resolved: After all, when dealing with potent, heroic characters, why not even the playing field with high-powered, mythic villains? At the same time, the corruption of true paragons of virtue and demi-gods can indeed make for an intriguing set-up.

As always in this series, we take a massive hardcover's spells and add mythic upgrades to the respective spells, so let us survey how the horrific options fare when upgraded to mythic status! After an alphabetical list of the spells covered (handy), we begin with absurdity, which ties in, penalty-wise, with humor-based spells in addition to numerical escalation of penalties etc. - really creative here would be the 4th tier augment, which adds nauseated to the aftermath of fear-based effects that the spell would provide immunity for, which makes for a rather interesting array of options as far as I'm concerned.

Alleviate Corruption is a spell, at least in its mythic iteration, that should be welcomed by anyone disliking the implementation of the system, allowing for the removal of manifestations and a 2-stage decrease...oh, and via 6th tier augment and 3 uses of mythic power, you can potentially avoid catching corruptions. There also are mythic upgrades that do not require their sometimes problematic components and we have modifications, for e.g. assume appearance allowing for the assumption of a helpless target's appearance in a focus modification, with the augment further enhancing this trick - really cool!

Not all spells, obviously, are thus enhanced in breadth - ban corruption, for example, simply also suppresses the effects on a successful save as well and it also increases the spell's duration. Barbed chains can be used for grappling when properly augmented and blood ties eliminates the damage cap of transferred damage, which enhances the spell's already impressive narrative potential. Nice job there!

Contact entity, just fyi, lets you contact more of them and yields a bonus when interacting with them...oh, and at higher tiers, you can mix the eldritch abominations you contact! The curse of fell seasons is vastly expanded (1 mile per tier radius), also enhancing the cool visuals and potent curse-visuals of the base spell...and yes, obviously, this extends to curse of night. And yes, before you're asking, I'm so making dread lords use mythic spells and abilities. MUAHAHAHA!

...

Sorry, disregard that. The various curse terrain spells all get different entries - beyond control of hazard placement, we get more of them and yes, once again, the radius is vastly enhanced. Using decapitate as a response to a critical threat and get a bonus to confirmation...other than that, we have increased bonus damage and penalized saves for nonmythic creatures - ouch!

Decollate ties in with one of my favorite Ravenloft NPCs, allowing for the removal of heads of even unwilling victims. For this upgrade alone, I'd hug this pdf - to anthropomorphize it slightly...oh, and action economy and interaction are presented in clear and concise ways - pretty damn cool! Flickering Lights allow for slightly more control by rolling twice...while green caress amps up the body horror by making it work a bit like a plant apotheosis...not fully, but enough to be weird in an uncanny valley way. Impossible Angles increases the chaos of the direction stumbled in a fun manner, while, guess what, mythic massacre really lives up to its name...and the augment makes it conical and adds necromantic energy to the fray. As a minor complaint, that should probably be negative energy damage, not untyped.

The various effects for maze of madness and suffering are creative and honestly, can be used for really potent terrain hazards, should you choose so. Phobia's upgrade is also devious, providing new and sensible options to the spell. Pure narrative gold: The upgrade of the sacramental seal spell, which now comes with a mighty 10th tier augmentation that allows for at-range maintenance of the seal. "We were all safe while the kind of wizard lived...but now, the darkness has broken free..." It should also be noted that the new types of fear introduced in Horror Adventures have found their respective rules-language. Sleepwalking suggestion, btw., does now allow you to go full-blown Wieland-plot with it! And no, I have not nearly touched upon all of the spells, just tried to provide a nice and varied sampling.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard for the series. The artworks should be mostly familiar ones for fans of LG - they are in full-color and mostly fit the content. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Alex Riggs and Jason Nelson deliver one furious, amazing upgrade for the spells in the Horror Adventures hardcover. As always in this series, I am impressed by the work that has went into this book, but more so than by the numerical upgrades and escalations, it is the increase in breadth, the better representation of mighty concepts that made me enjoy this. Much like the installment on Intrigue Spells, this amps up the themes and, in my book, the expanded curses and potent abilities herein just scream for being tied to the dread lords! The creative and concise rules-language delivers and, as a whole, this is not only a good options-book - it is a great book for GMs using Horror Adventures to get more out of the tools they have, to tell different stories. And that is more than most spellbooks can ever hope to accomplish. While there are a few cosmetic nitpicks I could field, ultimately, that would not do the book justice. I consider this an awesome expansion, well worth of a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Horror Spells
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Castle Falkenstein: Firearms & Margarine: An Adventure Entertainment
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/07/2017 05:18:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for Castle Falkenstein clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Before you're asking: Of course Captain Thomas Olam is returning as the framing device for this adventure, with the esteemed Mr. J Gray acting as the transcriber of his notes. It should also be noted that the adventure comes with pregenerated dramatic characters - 6, to be precise. In a rather nice manner, the module collects the game-relevant stats on a few pages - but goes one step beyond: In the back, extensive, char-sheet-like depictions of the characters, complete with proper space for notes and even b/w-photographs depicting them can be found, enhancing the immersion. I strongly suggest handing these out to players when running it and not using the dramatic characters. You see, the German iteration of CoC uses period piece photography extensively and it does enhance immersion, so kudos for doing that!

We also get a massive city map of Paris, where the proceedings take place, in the pdf - both with a player-friendly iteration and one for the host, which contextualizes and places the adventuring locales. That being said, I do have a very minor gripe here, one that does not in any way impede the functionality of the adventure at hand, so consider this just me being a scoundrel: The city map as a physical artifact from the time must have been HUGE and as such, the one-page scans make reading streets-names etc. impossible. Now note that this is not required: The city map is here to put the adventuring locales in relation to one another, but as someone who really enjoys old maps, a high-res iteration would have been amazing. (And yes, quite probably, there is no such scan, but one may dream, right?)

Anyways, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to humbly ask you to excuse my digressions, so let us adjust our pince-nezes, put down our walking sticks and fans and take a look at what this recent account of Captain Olam has to offer. It should be noted that only the most dastardly rogue, tarnishing the good graces of the house of the Host of his regular game, would continue to read the following if he (or she) planned to attend the game wherein the proceedings depicted in this module take place. As the profane rabble is wont to say, from here on out, this review will contain copious amounts of SPOILERS.

...

..

.

Dear hosts, are we alone? Have all preening eyes, all scoundrels and spirits departed to their respective haunting grounds? Excellent, so let us commence with our discussion of the matter at hand! As we all know, this is an enlightened age that will catapult our species to realms heretofore unimagined and at the forefront of one such foray in the advancement of our glorious civilization would be the gentleman known as Martin Hoog, currently approaching the completion of his margarine factory, which will undoubtedly revolutionize significant aspects of our customs. However, as we all know, progress not always goes unopposed, and to the obvious concern of dairy farmers in the rural areas, we have to add the unfortunate sentiment of the brownie population - after all, it does seem like the machines will manage to even outdo the Faerie's vast working capacity.

The leader of this resistance, in case you were not aware, falls in this particular case to the Fae lady usually referred to as Danielle Bendit, and appropriate name, if her detractors are to be believed. The current state of affairs has her and her rabble preventing the opening of the factory. The protest has been going on for a couple of days, with no real progress on either side, as the authorities in their wisdom have to prevent a proper escalation of the proceedings. There are, of course, plenty of justifications for proper ladies and gentlemen to bear witness to the horrid proceedings that are about to unfold, but it should be noted that, if all else fails, one should not discard serendipitous coincidence as a means of getting the proper minds involved.

It is my sad duty to announce that there will be an incident most unfortunate, for, as Mme Bendit and her right-hand man Michel are about to announce the strategies of their further protests and the goals of their fledgling movement, a shot will ring - and provide the first decision, which only the cool heads of those of proper breeding and accomplishment may make: Whether to hound the assailant sniper or to move towards the stage and offer educated help; the chaos of hundreds of fae dispersing into the ethereal and panicked protesters fleeing the scene makes both endeavors rather complicated.

The office, from which the shot was fired, unsurprisingly yields a mystery - very perceptive characters may note signs that the window was kept open, an orphaned rifle with a scope awaiting - and particularly learned characters may deduce the "how" of this dastardly attack: The rifle was prepared by a devious mechanical mind with one of these fancy cells pioneered by Edmond Becquerel in 1839, firing as the fog cleared and light touched it.

At the same time, more compassionate characters with a less analytic bent (we shall not engage in the obvious associations here) may have moved towards the stage to find Michel, murdered in the arms of Mme Bendit, shot by cold iron - and as he lies there, only the most astute of characters will have a chance to collect further evidence before the poor creature suffers the Final Death, shortly before the griefstruck Mme Bendit is spirited away. Those among you illustrious hosts who fear that the obvious murder mystery here would be solved too easily by the inclusion of a certain order of thaumaturgical detectives should rest assured that proper guidance is provided to deal with such potential hindrances in a manner that if befittingly fair for dramatic characters.

Unless our valiant cast has split, the characters will hence have one primary lead, though one should not be remiss to mention that the arrival of the police force will put an end to the investigation of the scene of the deplorable crime. Recognizing the obvious potential for conflict inherent in the situation, and listening to their own valiant hearts and nerves of steel, our illustrious cast hence moves on to question the diverse beings involved in this most puzzling of cases - and here, the classic adage of truth, smoke and mirrors is indeed one that should prove true: The investigation of anarchist involvement and the grieving Mme can yield a surprising variety of rather intriguing clues. Astute individuals, examining the less than trustworthy guards employed at the factory as well as Mr. Hoog himself may even deduce a rather scandalous development and situation, though ultimately, not even that should suffice to coax veritas from the cloaking shadows - indeed, the potentially risky involvement with the préfet de police may proceed to escalate to a duel, though the puzzling demeanor exhibited here by the préfet can be considered to be another piece of this puzzle...or can it?

Indeed, the investigation of the proceedings can unearth a rather puzzling painting predicting the murder - precognition? Perilous premonition? Indeed, the colloquially so-called "red herrings" that are cleverly woven throughout this adventure render both murderous motivation and precise procedure of the dastardly deed a subject suitable for the magnificent minds that you, dear host, elect to entertain. Various ways can lead to the unearthing of the true culprit and the aftermath of the assassination will be strongly influenced by the astuteness of the minds involved - and yes, dear host: Much like any good mystery, there are multiple meandering ways to arrive at the elusive poodle's core, with the supplemental storylines and their conclusions allowing for the concise expansion and continuation of the adventure.

Who is responsible? How was it done? Why, my dear readers - that is only for the distinguished host to discover! It is my duty to mention in this context that the dramatis personae of this curious constellation of characters comes with the appropriate contextualization within the rules of the game. Those of us who enjoy the winding ways of history will be overjoyed to observe that Captain Olam's elaborations of the discrepancies between our world and his curious home have returned. Furthermore scholars of the Fae will most assuredly like the details provided for the Teuz, the brownies most commonly encountered in the Bretagne.

Conclusion:

The all too often thankless tasks of proofreader and editor have been fulfilled to my utmost satisfaction. The visual presentation of the subject matter at hand adheres to a 2-column standard, set against a beautiful, colored backdrop. The artistry of the photographs, portraits and paintings herein, taken from the vast treasure-trove of our species, serves well to enhance the consistent feeling of this book. Should you prefer one of these magical presentation methods, rest assured that more bookmarks can be found herein than would be feasible for a physical book.

Mister J Gray deserves my heartfelt congratulations for his triumphant transcription of this heretofore unreleased account from the fabulous fiction called "Castle Falkenstein." The adventure takes degrees of success and the importance of class, race, etc. well into account and presents a thoroughly compelling mystery that most assuredly is worthy of one or multiple encores. It is my utmost pleasure to be in the fortunate position to announce that the understanding of the period and the special considerations the presence of the Faerie have had on the world, should be considered more than adequate; indeed, I consider them worthy of heartfelt praise.

It is hence my honor and privilege to award this distinguished and entertaining murder mystery the honors of 5 stars as well as the seal of approval for extraordinary merits. A round of applause, mesdames et messieurs!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Firearms & Margarine: An Adventure Entertainment
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Fabulous Archetypes
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/07/2017 05:14:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 1/3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 2/3 pages of content, so let's take a look! It should be noted that the pages are formatted and laid out for a 6'' by 9'' booklet standard, which means you can fit up to 4 of these pages on a given sheet of paper if your eyesight is good enough to cope with the letter-size.

We begin with a brief Yeats-quote as well as a short definition of what "fabulous" means within the context of this pdf before moving on to the unicorn rider cavalier archetype, who is locked into good alignment and a properly statted unicorn mount companion. (As a minor complaint from someone who has spent too many hours playing Robot Unicorn Attack's metal-version - pity, I wanted black unicorns...). The archetype comes with its own order, which is set apart by the unicorn choosing the rider. Edicts etc. are concisely defined and Perform and Survival are added, class skill-wise. The order also adds Charisma modifier in addition to Wisdom to the DC to avoid being demoralized.

8th level makes the natural attacks count as good and magic and provides at-will detect evil as a SP. 15th level provides Awesome Blow for the mount.

The next archetype would be Feyfriend, which can be taken by both druid and ranger, since it replaces the regular companion with a fey friend, thus replacing nature's/hunter's bond, respectively. Scaling is based on the druid-levels, which retains balance in the ranger's case. The feyfriend scales up to 16 HD, has 1/2 save-progression for all saves, 6 + Int skills and learns up to 8 feats. Additionally, the fey friend gains a +2 dodge bonus to AC at 3rd level, increasing that in increments of +2 every 3 levels thereafter. Analogue to this, 3rd level yields +1 to Dexterity and Charisma, increasing the value every 3 levels by a further +1 each. Level 1 yields link and share spells, level 3 nets evasion and 15th level improved evasion. Ability score increases are gained at 4th level and every 5 levels thereafter, excluding 19th - here, the ability score increase is instead delayed to 20th level. 6th level nets a +4 morale bonus to Will-saves.

The main draw, however, would be the SPs gained: The feyfriend begins play with a cantrip SP, unlocking one for first level or lower at 3rd level and gains more SPs every 3 levels after that, unlocking a new spell level every time. The SPs are governed by Cha and HD and the feyfriend must chooses, bard, druid, witch or wizard for the SP-selection. Big plus: 3/day limit for non-cantrip SPs. I see quite a few of you rolling their eyes right now - yes, this is potent. However, the feyfriend is diminutive and only has d6 HD to show, which does act, at least somewhat, as a balancing tool with the rather weak base frame. Still, the lack of tricks-requirements does mean that the chance is pretty high that you'll gain more out of the feyfriend. I wouldn't allow it is gritty campaigns, but in standard fantasy, you shouldn't encounter significant issues, considering the fragility of the fey.

After this companion archetype, we move on to the flower child druid, who may not be evil and adds Diplomacy, Knowledge (local) and Perform to her class skills. They lose all weapon proficiencies except for one simple weapon of the player's choice. The archetype gains +2 to Diplomacy and Perform and may retry a botched attempt to sway opinions a second time prior to the 24 hours elapsing. Instead of wild empathy, they may cause their elemental damage-causing spells to inflict nonlethal damage and they increase their CL with nonlethal damage causing spells by 1. The archetype is locked into a domain choice from a list as a replacement of "nature bond". As you can see, there are a couple of minor typos here.

The Ensorceller mesmerist is up next and may cast spells sans spell failure in light armor...and yep, these guys cast arcane spells instead. Instead of the mesmerist tricks gained at 2nd, 4th, 10th and 16th level, the archetype receives access to a bloodline chosen from a limited array. Instead of touch treatments gained at 3rd, 6th, 10th and 14th level, the archetype gains scaling bonuses versus gaze attacks, with 14th level providing immunity.

The Holistic would be an unchained monk archetype, who replaces Intimidate and Knowledge (history) with Craft (alchemy) and Heal. Instead of stunning fis, the archetype adds +1/2 clss level as a bonus to Heal checks (skill reference not italicized here). 2nd level yields joint cracking, replacing the bonus feats gained at 2nd and 6th level: Pretty cool: the archetype can, as a standard action, suppress Str or Dex damage from a willing ally, with the amount increasing from 1d4 to up to 2d6. And yep, an ally may only benefit once per 24-hour interval from it. I really like this, idea-wise!! Holistic tea is cool: Requiring the use of an "alchemy kit" (should be "alchemist's kit"), the character can brew tea - by also expending ki, they may make the tea heal living creatures, replacing the ki powers gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter - instead, the healing capabilities increase on these levels. Like it! 13th level yields aromatherapy, 3/day mass cure light wounds as a properly codified SP. The rules are solid and work, but teh ability should probably be SP, not SU. Oh well, that one's cosmetic.

The final archetype herein would be the jolter wizard, who gains 4 + Int skills per level and an expanded class skill list that includes the physical skills - you know, Escape Artist, Stealth, Climb, etc. The spelljolter can expend a spell as a swift or immediate action to grant himself a bonus to said aforementioned array of physical skills. Additionally, he may, as an immediate action, grant himself the bonus to Reflex saves, replacing arcane bond thus. Instead of 5th level's bonus feat, the archetype can expend spells as a swift action to grant himself a dodge bonus to AC equal to the spell's level, for 1 round. Instead of 10th level's bonus feat, he may now also use spelljolt to fortify his Fort- and Will-saves. Really annoying, though: The archetype uses a "magical bonus" for all but the AC-bonus. Know how many bonus types we have in PFRPG? Why not use one of them?

Cool, btw.: The pdf comes with a bonus monster pdf penned by Mark Gedak, the CR 2 meadow maid, a flexible angel that may seem fey-like and is drawn to idyllic pastures, carrying a consecration aura around with her - nice critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level, good on a formal level - apart from some minor & cosmetic hiccups and a few typo-level glitches, I noticed nothing glaring that would compromise the content. Layout adheres to PDG's 1-column standard for 6'' by 9''-sized booklets and the pdf has no artworks apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked - kudos!

Aaron Hollingworth's fabulous archetypes area generally well-crafted lot - in particular the holistic is REALLY cool and adds a whole new dimension to the monk class that makes SENSE. The concepts and their representations are solid and well-made and the spelljolter sports an interesting playing experience, in spite of its brevity. While I was not utterly blown away by this humble pdf, when one considers the low and more than fair price-point, this most assuredly is worth getting, particularly if the holistic or riding a unicorn interests you. The bonus critter adds even more bang for your buck, which makes this a nice offering. As a whole, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fabulous Archetypes
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5E Mini-Dungeon #029: Heart of the Sacred Dawn
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/07/2017 05:13:28

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 and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

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!

In ages long gone, the lord of dragons Tenebrash was vanquished by the order of sacred dawn with the help of an ancient relic, the lucespel. Now, evil has returned to the lands of mortals and it is up to the heroes to find and secure the lucespel within the confines of the now ruined temple-keep of the order of sacred dawn. The deity once in command of the artifact remains purposefully obscure and can be considered to be a great placeholder for deities from Saranrae to Latander or Arden.

Within these sacred halls, only the mightiest of heroes have a chance to prove their mettle - to do so, they must defeat exceedingly powerful knights turned to planetars. The ruins also sport a task that requires the PCs to collect certain words, which prove to be the answer to a simple riddle. When solved an ancient black dragon still stands between the PCs and triumph...oh, and that one downright sadistic trap...that, RAW, is even triggered when the correct key has been taken, which may be an oversight. 3 x Power Word: Kill should not be triggered when the correct key is used. Similarly, that should be a trap or at least something like an avoidable terrain hazard, as the pdf has a tough option for legendary rogues to bypass some components. Beyond these secured portals, the artifact beckons - though its exact powers are left for the GM to decide.

Conclusion:

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

Justin Andrew Mason's Heart of the Sacred Dawn is a mini-dungeon we can really use. Why? Simple: We don't have a lot of quality high-level material. The added requirements of high-level gameplay are tough to master and conversely, this pdf doesn't have the space to provide elaborate notes on the certainty of teleportation et al. That being said, the challenges are flavorful and diverse, with the kill-trap's trigger in either case being my one true structural gripe beyond wishing that the exploration required some more uses of high-level tricks and abilities. Apart from the combat challenges and overkill-kinda-trap, the module could be handled by lower level PCs as well. Kyle Crider's conversion does lose a bit of the awesomeness of PFRPG's highly templated boss - some unique legendary actions would have been nice here.

How to rate this? Well, while not perfect, this constitutes a fun diversion for high-level PCs and in the hand of a good GM, this can be a pretty cool insertion. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #029: Heart of the Sacred Dawn
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The Tidus Tomb - 5th Edition
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2017 05:09:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The module does come with a high-res jpg of the map of the complex featured herein - while keys have been purged from it, the secret doors are still on the map. HOWEVER, I do applaud how they're implemented - when cutting up a printed version of the map or partially concealing one in VTT, you don't have the tell-tale "S" in the wall, but rather after it, making the map featured actually pretty player-friendly! Kudos!

It should be noted that a handy summary at the beginning of the complex highlights the room height, doors, illumination, etc. - all at a glance, which is nice from a comfort point of view.

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

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

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So, the name of the "tidus tomb" actually is a butchered name: You see, the monarch who was laid to rest here was a horrible germaphobe (picture how that must have sucked in the Early Modern period that serves as a backdrop for the fantasy world of most games...) and hence, the people joked that he would inhabit "the tidiest tomb" ever! Unfortunately, this monarch, Khazdoran, was kept from his rightful rest by his own compulsion, which rendered the tomb haunted.

Via one of three sample adventuring hooks (or one of the GM's own devising), the players are hence set out to explore this locale...and the atmosphere is interesting: In the tradition of Pyromaniac Press modules, we get extensive read-aloud texts that help GMs less confident in their improvisational skills in depicting the place. The nature of the tomb and its inhabitants is btw. hinted at in the very structure and dressing: Neatly polished and carefully arranged piles of bones in the front start establishing the leitmotif of the complex from the get-go.

Exploring the tomb with pit the PCs sooner or later in conflict with the "cleaners" of the place, gelatinous cubes and skeletons, and allow them to rescue a poor artist, whose handiwork can be seen in the restored murals of the place. Being rather obsessive, the ghost of the ancient monarch has conscripted the poor sod to restore them to former glory...or end up on the menu of the cubes. Among the strange things you can encounter would be a mascot skeleton non-combatant who follows the PCs around, unless destroyed. Yeah, this has a weird angle and I mean that as a complement.

Now, the 5e-conversion deserves special mention here - it goes beyond the basics like converting skill DCs, poisons, damage thresholds etc.: A cursed item has, for example, been replaced with an animated rug and the formal aspects, items and loot all have been adjusted to properly work within the different power-level aesthetics of 5e. That being said, the module is significantly harder in the 5e-version. Since gelatinous cubes are stronger in 5e than in PFRPG, these can be a bit more of a challenge here.

Regarding further threats, we can encounter animated, pristine armors here...and it should be noted that the faded and restored murals act as a nice way of filling in the story and the undead monarch. The PCs ultimately can find the funerary barge of Khazdoran, where the remnants of a scholar's account can provide a hint - there is a soul prism here and, while Khazdoran actually should not be tied to it, his deeply-held conviction is that the prism, ultimately is his anchor - thus, destroying this vessel ends his haunting of the tomb forever. The pdf does note that it is "extremely fragile", implying that any attack will destroy it, but I still wish we got some sort of mechanical representation or stats for the vessel here - still, that is not a serious gripe. It should be noted that the ghost uses default stats for ghosts in 5e, which accounts for the one page less in page-count of this version when compared to the PFRPG-iteration. That may be me, but I really would have liked the ghost to have some unique tricks up his sleeve. On the balance-plus-side, the ghost makes for a slightly easier boss in 5e than in PFRPG, which emphasizes smart play more - you can conceivably play this and really rock it...or have a tough time. It very much depends on the players.

What do I mean by this? Clean and none-too-intrusive PCs may make their way to the ghost before he even realizes that they are here...but woe betide those that trigger his cleanliness compulsions... The ghost itself is a pretty potent being and has interesting tactics - like possessing PCs and running into gelatinous cubes, but as a whole, the tomb should be a challenging, but manageable sidetrek that sports quite an array of loot to find - nothing too jarring, mind you.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Pyromaniac Press' nice two-column full-color standard. The full-color artworks featured herein are original and pretty amazing pieces, particularly for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf actually comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the full-color cartography is really nice as well.

Micah Watt's "Tidus Tomb" is a nice, creative little sidetrek that is worth checking out: The flavor-text is engrossing and the theme of the dungeon similarly is pretty...neat. (Sorry, I couldn't resist this groaner pun...I'll hit myself later for it...) Anyways, I did enjoy this indeed. If there is anything to complain about, then it would be that, as far as non-combat challenges are concerned, the module feels a bit drumroll sterile! (Sorry, I must have hit my head this morning...) Kidding aside, the flavor and dressing are amazing and lavishly-detailed, but if you expect creative hazards or traps or the like, you won't find that here, which makes the dungeon easy to run, but at the same time, it makes the combats feel a slightly less diverse than they could be. The conversion excels at its attention. No complaints in that regard.

The 5e-iteration of this module is definitely harder than the PFRPG-version and whether you like that or don't depends ultimately on personal preferences. With the potent and rather tough cubes (84 hit points...), the module certainly feels less suited for a lighthearted interpretation than the PFRPG-version. So, how to rate this? Well, as a whole, I enjoyed this and while I consider the dungeon's mechanics per se to be slightly less than what they could have been, this is well worth checking out. The well-done conversion makes the module run in a slightly different manner, which is actually something I personally enjoyed, gaming aesthetics-wise. For the extremely fair price of just 2 bucks, this makes for a fun and creative, well-presented sidetrek. The 5e version has a slightly different focus, resulting from the respective changes in focus, creature potency etc., but ultimately evens out - it is a bit more focused on smart player decisions, at least in my book.

Ultimately, I like both versions and as such, my final verdict will clock in at the same verdict, 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tidus Tomb - 5th Edition
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The Tidus Tomb - Pathfinder
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2017 04:59:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The module does come with a high-res jpg of the map of the complex featured herein - while keys have been purged from it, the secret doors are still on the map. HOWEVER, I do applaud how they're implemented - when cutting up a printed version of the map or partially concealing one in VTT, you don't have the tell-tale "S" in the wall, but rather after it, making the map featured actually pretty player-friendly! Kudos!

It should be noted that a handy summary at the beginning of the complex highlights the room height, doors, illumination, etc. - all at a glance, which is nice from a comfort point of view.

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

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

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So, the name of the "tidus tomb" actually is a butchered name: You see, the monarch who was laid to rest here was a horrible germaphobe (picture how that must have sucked in the Early Modern period that serves as a backdrop for the fantasy world of most games...) and hence, the people joked that he would inhabit "the tidiest tomb" ever! Unfortunately, this monarch, Khazdoran, was kept from his rightful rest by his own compulsion, which rendered the tomb haunted.

Via one of three sample adventuring hooks (or one of the GM's own devising), the players are hence set out to explore this locale...and the atmosphere is interesting: In the tradition of Pyromaniac Press modules, we get extensive read-aloud texts that help GMs less confident in their improvisational skills in depicting the place. The nature of the tomb and its inhabitants is btw. hinted at in the very structure and dressing: Neatly polished and carefully arranged piles of bones in the front start establishing the leitmotif of the complex from the get-go.

Exploring the tomb with pit the PCs sooner or later in conflict with the "cleaners" of the place, gelatinous cubes and skeletons, and allow them to rescue a poor artist, whose handiwork can be seen in the restored murals of the place. Being rather obsessive, the ghost of the ancient monarch has conscripted the poor sod to restore them to former glory...or end up on the menu of the cubes. Among the strange things you can encounter would be a mascot skeleton non-combatant who follows the PCs around, unless destroyed. Yeah, this has a weird angle and I mean that as a complement.

Regarding further threats, we can encounter animated, pristine armors here...and it should be noted that the faded and restored murals act as a nice way of filling in the story and the undead monarch. The PCs ultimately can find the funerary barge of Khazdoran, where the remnants of a scholar's account can provide a hint - there is a soul prism here and, while Khazdoran actually should not be tied to it, his deeply-held conviction is that the prism, ultimately is his anchor - thus, destroying this vessel ends his haunting of the tomb forever. The pdf does note that it is "extremely fragile", implying that any attack will destroy it, but I still wish we got some sort of mechanical representation or stats for the vessel here - still, that is not a serious gripe. Interesting: Clean and none-too-intrusive PCs may make their way to the ghost before he even realizes that they are here...but woe betide those that trigger his cleanliness compulsions... The ghost itself is a pretty potent being and has interesting tactics - like possessing PCs and running into gelatinous cubes, but as a whole, the tomb should be a challenging, but manageable sidetrek that sports quite an array of loot to find - nothing too jarring, mind you.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, i noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Pyromaniac Press' nice two-column full-color standard. The full-color artworks featured herein are original and pretty amazing pieces, particularly for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf actually comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the full-color cartography is really nice as well.

Micah Watt's "Tidus Tomb" is a nice, creative little sidetrek that is worth checking out: The flavor-text is engrossing and the theme of the dungeon similarly is pretty...neat. (Sorry, I couldn't resist this groaner pun...I'll hit myself later for it...) Anyways, I did enjoy this indeed. If there is anything to complain about, then it would be that, as far as non-combat challenges are concerned, the module feels a bit drumroll sterile! (Sorry, I must have hit my head this morning...) Kidding aside, the flavor and dressing are amazing and lavishly-detailed, but if you expect creative hazards or traps or the like, you won't find that here, which makes the dungeon easy to run, but at the same time, it makes the combats feel a slightly less diverse than they could be. On the plus-side, poisons and cursed items do make this dungeon anything but a cakewalk!

However, the module does have a pretty cool advantage over comparable offerings: Beyond the great production values, it can be run in a variety of ways: You could easily depict this module and its proceedings as tragic, creepy or even as comical! In fact, I'd actually advise you to depict the ghost as a tragicomic figure - it may provide the most fun for the players involved. So, how to rate this? Well, as a whole, I enjoyed this and while I consider the dungeon's mechanics per se to be slightly less than what they could have been, this is well worth checking out. For the extremely fair price of just 2 bucks, this makes for a fun and creative, well-presented sidetrek. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Tidus Tomb - Pathfinder
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The S'rulyan Vault
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/06/2017 04:54:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, before we get into it - let me make one thing abundantly clear: This is NOT a regular gaming supplement. Instead, this is one massive blue-white old-school map. The gigantic map is intended for the massive size of 34'' times 44'' and it comes in two high-res iterations - one in the classic blue and white and one in full-color and a parchment-style look.

Now this would not be Kort'thalis Publishing if the massive map didn't have some fun details showing up - cartographer Glynn Seal has included, among others, tentacles, clearly visible and erupting from pits and walls, black holes, magical vortices, sarcophagi, obviously magical circles and the like. The pdf does have grids and between the rooms, decorative skeletons of dragons can be seen in the earth. The vault itself provides a great selection of artificially created rooms as well as natural caverns and pools connected with subterranean tunnels, rifts and the like make for an inspiring dungeon - the map is one of the kind that you can put before an experienced GM and just watch him or her improvise a great game around - so yeah, the main selling-point of this product is excellent.

One note, though - if you're using a lot of mobile devices and the like, you should be aware of the fact that the high-res maps clock in at over 20 MBs for the blue-white-version, over 100 mbs for the parchment version.

Okay, that out of the way, the product does come with a pdf - this pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages. One of these pages is devoted to a nice char-sheet and one page is devoted to notes.

The pdf depicts the history of the S'rulyan Vault, speaking of the rise of a champion of mankind, the pact of the horrid snake-men with the demon lord S'rul...and how a band of brave adventurers defeated the snake-men just as they were about to exterminate mankind. They achieved this feat with the Helm of Power, a mighty relic...and three adventurers emerged...their children and heirs taking the mantles of kingdoms. One of these, alas, has reawakened S'rul...and the genocidal plans of the demon and its powerful allies once again are in full motion.

1 million gold pieces are the ostensible reward for the demon's head...so who will claim it? Okay, this back-story is AWESOME. Cheesy and cliché in just the right ways to evoke classic tropes. The pdf provides 10 sample motivations to make the quest personal and 12 rumors are provided to add more local color to the proceedings. There even is read-aloud text for the facade of the dungeon and advice on the chance for random encounters.

The pdf then proceeds to provide a d20 table of random things that can be found - treasure, traps, monsters, discovery, science-fantasy gizmos - the like. But, you know, since this is not a module, but more of a geomorph, these remain somewhat opaque, which slightly hampers their impact. The pdf also provides a 20-entry generator for the behavior of encountered humanoids, and a 100-entry table of strange things to find - from platinum pieces to toe clippings and weird vials or erotic lithographies, the treasure table is a definite highlight herein.

As the PCs explore the vault, they will find a weird brotherhood - men that claim that the world has ended in the meanwhile - and RAW, there is a 50% chance the world has indeed ended, with 4 sample cataclysms provided, in case you can't make up your own. A snake-men spy, 12 sample magic item treasures are also in here...and may make some purists scowl: A dagger +3 with a 1 in 4 chance of making a target hit a sentient ooze (no save) will probably annoy new-school fans for not sporting a save, old-school purists for its plusses. These aren't bad, mind you, but they could use some refinement and suffer from the quasi-system-neutral approach. 3 sample artifacts and relics follow and, oddly, one actually sports a save. Indeed, the rules for these are actually better - perhaps due to the extended space allotted to them. An 8-entry table of cursed item modifications can also be found here.

The final section of the pdf contains a fortunes/fortune-reading generator: D4 for the fortune teller, d12 for the means of reading fortunes, d10 and d8 for the two components of the reading itself, d6 for the third part of the reading...and d20 for the price the fortune teller expects.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout of the pdf adheres to an elegant, nice 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf does come with great b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The maps are excellent high-res jpgs - Glynn Seal's cartography is excellent here.

Venger As' Nas Satanis' and Glynn Seal's S'rulyan Vault is a glorious map, let me make that abundantly clear. It is not particularly inexpensive, but if you enjoy evocative maps, it is most certainly worth getting.

That being said, the accompanying pdf is less focused than what we usually get from Venger: The pdf can't seem to decide whether it wants to be a hyper-specific, detailed adventure-outline or a highly-generic collection of various generators. These are not bad, mind you, but everything in the pdf never really clicks together, never forms a cohesive whole. The parts are pretty much amazing when they are specific...and when they are generic, they feel suddenly like they have less gravitas...resulting in a somewhat strange disjoint in the internal flavor.

Now, since his product is billed primarily as the map, I am going to rate it as such - and as a map, it is a very good offering. At the same time, I found myself wishing there was a version sans the hidden tunnel below the pool, for example. The pdf is a nice bonus, but not enough to catapult this to the level I'd consider excellent. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The S'rulyan Vault
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