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Borderland Provinces Journey Generator
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:48:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

One central component of any sandbox campaign worth its salt is the component of the journey - whether because wine and wenches await in a far-off place or because something needs to be delivered - whether a secret missive, a caravan or something altogether different. The problem that a GM does have here is that it is hard to come up with meaning full journeys - enter this book and its 2 different types of journey generation: Number one creates journeys focused on getting to the adventure, whereas the second generator creates journeys that represent the main meat of the adventuring experience in question. It should be noted that this book, obviously, focuses on the Borderland Provinces - hence, we get a total of 12 tables, one for each of the respective provinces and a table that features a variety of patrons and supplemental motivations for the patrons. The patron tables could have been a little more versatile, though: A lot of diplomatic missions, tasks for churches, etc.

The pdf goes on to provide a table of 10 simple journey details; for more complex journeys, 10 objectives, 20 locations, 10 groups and 10 immediate threats can be quickly rolled and combines. 14 general monster themes, 20 related objects and 5 possible complications allow for flexible modifications. The journey completed, 5 entries for the final wrap-up of the journey can add a final sense of unpredictability to the proceedings.

Beyond these basic setups, a quick price change table for quick trading makes for a fun and smooth trading rules array. Of course, the pdf also has a massive table to generate roadside inns, with name patterns, creature and item adjectives, creatures and items, etc. Basic descriptions of inns, religious hostels and a neat what's for dinner table. The book also sports 10 conditions and events to further add to the journey and the book concludes with 31 fully detailed sample journeys.

Conclusions:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has neither artworks, nor bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf is fully bookmarked and the hardcopy is of the usual high quality for Frog God Games print books.

I really like Matthew J. Finch's Journey generator and the tables to quickly generate locations to precise locations in the Borderland Provinces makes this a pretty useful book. But at the same time, it feels like it does fall a bit short - I am pretty spoiled by Raging Swan Press' absolutely legendary GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing and regarding the details of the journey, I'd very much suggest taking this legendary book (#1 of my Top Ten 2014, just fyi...) to add all the evocative dressing you require to the basic journey generated herein, since this booklet simply doesn't have that level of detail. I was also pretty disappointed, for a journey-book depicting a specific region, to get no handy table of distances between places and projected number f traveling days by foot, horse or cart. This does not mean that this book is bad, mind you - it just means that it falls short of its own potential. While useful for the Borderland Provinces, the pdf could have been significantly more useful with a bit more room to shine and the lack of travel-distances decrease the usefulness of this one for me. A solid book slightly on the positive side, my final verdict for this one will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purposes of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Provinces Journey Generator
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Borderland Provinces Player's Gazetteer
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:47:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This booklet clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The Borderland Provinces Player's Guide took a rather brave and evocative step by focusing exclusively on the atmosphere created, on providing a book that conveys properly the unique flavor of the Borderland Provinces. At the same time, this book alone would some tables leave wanting the harsh facts, the breakdown of the lands to be found in this illustrious region and notes on the history of the place - after all, when you have lived here for a while, you will probably know a bit about this place, right?

So, as opposed to the player's guide, which provides the totality of the atmosphere and leitmotifs of adventuring in the provinces, this one focuses on instilling the overview information. To be more precise, we get a MASSIVE chronology of the lands here, with 3 different calendars! The hyperborean incursions, the rise and fall of Foere and the recent Suilleyn secession and imperial aspirations are noted and establish the basic, global dynamics.

Beyond the chronology of the respective regions, the player's gazetteer then goes on to depict the various regions, from Aachen to Exeter and Gaelon. Beyond notes on population and notable settlements, unique terrain features, humorously inappropriately named dark and brooding forests (Forest of Hope - really got a chuckle out of me!) to notes on trade and diplomatic relationships as well as trade and commerce - the tapestry woven here is great and the guide. More importantly, the gazetteer does provide information and inspiration...but does not dive into SPOILER-territory, retaining full functionality for its player-book-status.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports unique and original b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the hardcopy is a booklet of the usual, high FGG-quality.

Matthew J. Finch's pen is mighty indeed - the more I read from him, the more I love his prose and talent of weaving evocative worlds. This gazetteer is a great little supplement that delivers exactly what was missing from the Player's Guide. Which brings me to the one reason this does not gain the seal of approval: In my opinion, combining the two guides into one would have been the smarter move and made book-organization easier, but that may just be me. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Provinces Player's Gazetteer
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Steelforge: Book 1
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:54:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of Steelforge clocks in at 16 pages,. 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief foreword by the authors, we dive right into the respective items contained herein and the first item-class already makes pretty much clear that this is NOT a standard magic item book - we begin with 3 inexpensive types of auto-loader magazines for crossbows. What do they do? Well, they make crossbows on par with bows. Thank you. That being said, I am a more than a bit weary of the ability to copy enchanted bolts in an infinite capacity - once you insert a bolt, the magazine copies the bolt's properties on other bolts contained herein - insert mundane bolt, add one powerful magic bolt, get infinite copies of the powerful bolt. This would be utterly broken, were it not for the VERY smart caveat of it being impossible to taking any bolts out of this magazine sans destroying them, putting a hard cap on the number of bolts you can copy. This catapults the item class immediately from problematic to all awesome. Chest-slot-assigned natural armor enhancers, corsets that enhance your saves, girdles of protection and the like can also be found here.

In case you need that spelled out: The items here utilize other slots than e.g. the standardized slots - which may be a blessing or curse, depending on your take: While I really like the fact that now cloaks and rings aren't necessarily occupied to make the high-level math work, this also allows for some optimization tricks that weren't possible before. Since this issue is pretty much system-immanent, I will not penalize the pdf for it. That being said, I did notice an uncharacteristic glitch: The construction prices of the aforementioned corset are equal to the market prices, which is an obvious error. (As an aside: I do believe that prices could have been used to account for the value of the respective slots and some balancing here, somewhat offsetting the gained flexibility, but I digress.)

This is not all, though - hate seeds allow you to utilize the dread's paranoia terror (cool!) and ironbody cloaks contain temporary hit points, which help in particular to offset the squishiness of some characters at high levels...or in high damage output games like those employing Path of War or similarly optimized characters. Headset-style earrings are damn cool and tie in well with collective rules and dimensional anchor nets have been a staple in my games for a while - nice to see them represented here as well! Seriously underpriced at 12K, Steelwalker's Boots may add to the flexibility and flow of combat by allowing 1/2 movement in conjunction with full attacks, but they also cheapen all skirmishing builds I know. I'd hate this item like crazy, were it not for the fact that, unless you actually hit, you are staggered, making this a high-risk/reward item I actually ended up liking!

There is also a nice take on transferring magic enchantments from items to items (somewhat akin to Interjection games' glyph wrappings).

More important would be the highly versatile charming trinket-systems: There is a bracelet and necklace that can each hold charms, with a ton of them provided in two groups, included upgrades for Claim-limits, ki points, etc. Nice customization array, though its flexibility and low price point, while cool, may not be what every GM is looking for, they do sport some serious value.

This is not all, though: We are introduced to the 3rd-level flightbreaker spell and the absolutely glorious endeca's gregarious gravity slime: Somewhere between intelligent slime and item, you rub these slimes on weapons, attack foes and watch them do their magic. The slime is AWESOME and evocative and comes with a rather cute artwork. No complaints.

The pdf also feature the gravity slime master PrC, which covers 5 levels and adds a total of +3 BAB and Ref/Will-saves as well as two levels of class feature progression, d8 HD, 4 +Int skills per level. As a minor nitpick, Dreamscarred Press has established a time-frame in concrete time for per-encounter abilities that is not reprinted here, in spite of the PrC using such mechanics. The PrC can launch damaging, DR/resistance-ignoring untyped damage dealing gravity slimes at foes - while I have no balance concerns here, I still wished it wasn't untyped. The gravity slime master also receives a gravity slime guardian at first level, basically a kind of variant eidolon that gains a series of free evolution, but no pool of its own or magic item-sharing with the master. And yes, at higher levels, it gains more evolutions and can act as a mount. The gravity slime master's launched gravity slimes get additional, hampering effects at higher levels and starting at 3rd level, this impact ability extends to gravity slimes added to weapons. Really evocative little PrC.

The final chapter of the pdf covers a topic near and dear to my heart: Combating the Christmas Tree syndrome. This section pretty much is worth getting the pdf on its own. Why? Well, while most of Dreamscarred Press' recent offerings have been geared towards high-powered gameplay, this chapter will provide a ton of benefits for pretty much all groups I can think of: Rare/Low magic campaigns can employ it and its massive table to codify the value of saving throw bonuses, armor class bonuses (by type) or resistances to be added to items, allowing for customization of more unique items and adding their benefits. Since the enhancements are listed in steps, they do take the slot component into account. This section is pretty minimalistic, yes - it basically covers the must-own enhancers to make the math come out right. I absolutely love it. The section is made primarily for GMs and can prove to be extremely helpful when pricing items that feature these options among others - from legendary items to legacy items, these humble two pages will see A LOT of use in my own game. One note, though: In spite of the non-stack caveats and very precise presentation here, I'd suggest GMs keeping a tight control over these rules, since, again, system-immanently, the added variety does allow for combos otherwise impossible. This is very much a feature in 99% of the cases, but it can be a bug, in spite of the section doing everything right.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both rules-language and formal levels - with the one exception regarding prices mentioned above, but that one is pretty obvious as well. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, it comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. Kudos for going the extra mile there!

The authors of this pdf Jacob Karpel, Jade Ripley, Anthony Altovilla and Forrest Heck have crafted an intriguing pdf here: All crunch, steelforge's first book is not a traditional item book; instead, it could be best described as a design-paradigm toolkit that provides item-options and tricks to customize your game. More importantly, several of its items address some gaps in the system; in particular, the temporary HP granting items can be a true blessing for high-powered gameplay. Other aspects of the pdf provide increased flexibility for magic items, interesting variants and options as well as some serious designing help for DMs looking for an easy price-cheat-sheet for the modification/design of legendary/legacy weapons or an end to the Christmas tree syndrome, making this pdf a valuable asset for lower powered games as well. That being said, considering the nature of this pdf, I do believe that some guidance for GMs regarding the ramifications of introducing some contents herein would have been helpful: This is basically a massive engine-tweak, but it does require a bit more understanding of the consequences of adding the content than I consider necessary. While this does mean that the pdf remains very focused on the crunchy aspects, it also makes it a pdf that requires some serious thought on behalf of the GM on which options to employ in the end.

It should be noted, however, that thinking about this is rewarded; Steelforge's Book I has some truly glorious ideas and the gravity slime is a cool concept that can, engine-wise, certainly be expanded in future releases. I consider Steelforge I an excellent book that only misses my seal of approval due to the fact that it, as more of an engine-tweak than a traditional item book, could have used more didactic guidance for less experienced GMs. Still, consider this well worth getting - my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars,. rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steelforge: Book 1
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Call to Arms: Tomes of Power (revised)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:52:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 44 pages,1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial/introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Knowledge is power. This sentence has become a bit of a cliché. Okay, it IS a huge cliché. It is true nonetheless. From Latin to runes, language as a means of transporting knowledge in a written form is exceedingly powerful and ideas, ultimately, are the most powerful weapons of all.

As has become the tradition with the Call to Arms-series, we thus begin the pdf with a complex array of ruminations on the nature of text, its functions and components, not shirking e.g. the issues of copying and translation. (And anyone who has ever compare e.g. Shakespeare, Baudelaire or Goethe translations with the original will certainly attest a cringe-worthy quality that can result here...) In a fantastic context, the concept is similarly important, if not even more so: The pdf does mention Chambers' classic The King in Yellow, which may well have provided an initial spark for Lovecraft and others...as often, the idea cuts deep.

One of my central gripes with Pathfinder as a system has always been the fact that tomes basically suffer from a rather niche existence; when compared to e.g. the Witcher games, where knowledge is the most valuable good you can have in combat with the weird creatures of the earth, it is significantly less important in our games and has less mechanical repercussions...and this one tries to fix that. The pdf collates, collects and expands the mundane tomes released so far, introducing arcane school reference books, chronicles etc. - rules-wise, these generally grant bonuses to associated checks when referencing the book or studying it. 3 new types of spellbooks (and two classics) can be found within these pages as well. The pdf also features two spellbooks with preparation rituals. (one for magus and one for the investigator.)

Beyond that, the pdf also collects all types of intriguing books herein - from the golem manuals to the summoning extenders and manuals that increase your attributes, grant combat feats. Very cool for sorcerors: Pages of Spell Knowledge. These pages contain a single spell; prepared casters may expend a spell slot of the appropriate spell slot to cast the spell on the page. A writ allows for instant atonement benefits, but requires longer hours of studying to maintain the benefits. As always in the series, we get a cursed tome and an intelligent item: The latter being A Young Person's Phantasmagorical Primer, which contains fairy tales and allows persons featuring only NPC classes to gain the training required for PC classes and the book's illusory realms are interesting, to say the least. Beyond that, we also get a total of 3 mythic books, one of which enhances a character's capabilities when dealing with extraplanar creatures and another nets cruel jokes. Finally, another book allows for reincarnate. The book also contains 3 artifacts - the classic book of infinite spells, the codex of the lower planes and a take on the mother of all evil books, the intelligent necronomicon, including an advanced soul eater that may come for you. (CR 15, just fyi.) And yes, the book is cursed.

The pdf does contain two different spells, one that translates a book perfectly into ancient dwarven and one that animates a quill to copy writing. As always, though, we do receive a couple of variant rules, the first of which would be modifications for Linguistics to account for time-related changes in dialects, handwriting, translation qualities, if applicable, etc.

More importantly, the pdf does feature rules for forbidden knowledge - studiyng texts like this may result in corruption and the more thorough you study the texts, the harder it will be to resist the nasty effects of the respective tomes. Certain actions will trigger corruption saves and on a failure, the character gains a corruption point - all pretty simple. Here's the cool thing, though: Tehse points can be used as either mythic power, hero points, as sanity...or a combination of them all, depending simply on your own tae on the subject matter, with proper synergy with the much-anticipated new Shadows over Vathak campaign setting book. A total of 3 such tainted tomes end this installment of Call to Arms on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed a couple of typo level glitches and would have loved slightly modified wording here and there, as a whole, the rules-language remains sufficiently precise to not result in any issues. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has some neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Richard D. Bennett's revised take on Tomes of Power is a fun offering, with in particular the variant rules herein being an inspired array of modifications. The book, as a whole, is a fun offering and delivers what it promises. In contrast to some of the other Call to Arms-books, though, it does feel a tad bit less evocative: A lot of the options here in the book are pretty conservative in the items represented - the more powerful items, for example, are either classic in concepts or, in the case of the mythic books, pretty weak. Apart from the evocative intelligent book and the awesome forbidden tomes, I simply wasn't as blown away here, since I already knew a lot of the concepts here. This does not make the pdf bad, mind you, but it does deprive it of a place amid the best of these books. In the end, this is a good book - and well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Tomes of Power (revised)
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Bite Me! Wererats
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:49:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Bite Me!-series clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This time around, we take a look at wererats, now reimagined as part of the Bite Me!-series. They get +2 Dex and Con, -2 Wis, the two bloods racial feature (making you count as a parent race as well as a shapeshifter for purposes of being affected by effects), low-light vision, +2 to Perception and Survival. Beast Form works is presented in a rather precise wording construct that takes temporary hit points, equipment and the like into account and the odd formatting discrepancies gone - no complaints. In beats or hybrid form, DR 2/silver is gained and increases by +2 every odd level gained to a maximum of DR 10/silver. The wererat gains wolfsbane vulnerability and silver vulnerability. Wererats also gain Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat. That may just be me, but I am not too keen on wolfsbane as a universal vulnerability for lycanthrope-races; to me, it makes less sense for wererats to be affected by it, but that just as an aside. Regarding beast form and advancement, wererats may actually be suitable for the less powerful groups than some of the other Bite Me-iterations, since their diseased bite may be strong, but has less direct combat application.

Wererats get their own age, height and weight table, which is nice. The race does receive an assortment of no less than 11 alternate racial traits that include darkvision, Dodge as a bonus feat, emphasis on the social nature of rats, permanent rat teeth (cool!) or the option to call forth rodents to talk to and command. No complaints here and the section does combine these in handy, preconfigured set-ups for your perusal. The pdf provides favored class options for the APG, classes, UC-classes and the magus. They generally are cool, though the barbarian-entry lacks the note that the movement speed increase does not have mechanical repercussions unless taken in increments of 5 to account for the 5-ft-focus of tactical movement.

The pdf features a total of 3 different archetypes, the first of which would be the Bully Slayer ranger, who specializes in bringing down Large or larger humanoids and replaces wild empathy for +1/2 class level to Intimidate checks, while also losing the size penalty. 1/day bane versus bullies and longer duration of the ability complement this one. The second archetype is the lightning rager barbarian, who modifies rage to instead grant +2 Str and Con, +4 Dex; 3rd level provides a scaling dodge bonus to AC and an insight bonus to Ref-saves. 7th level nets evasion, 13th improved evasion. Huge problem: The better rages do not follow the theme set by the base rage ability, making the archetype feel half-finished. Not something a GM can't fix, but still. The third archetype would be the Sewer druid, who replaces woodland stride with skill bonuses, movement through difficult terrain in sewers instead of trackless step and iron stomach as well as disease immunity. Wild shape is gained later, at 6th level and at -2 druid levels...oh, and they may assume otyugh and ooze-forms.

The pdf offers a total of 12 racial feats for wererats. These feats include 1/day rerolls due to danger sense, skilled disappearing in crowds, improving the summon tricks to include swarms, bleed to bites, a swim speed and some unique tricks via a 3-feat Style-chain: For example, when targeted by a full attack and missed by all attacks, you can retaliate with a combat maneuver to render the foe fatigued. The problem is that this feat does not specify an activation action - I assume it just happens when the foe misses you, but I'm not sure. Gaining the benefits of being Small is possible and the pdf also has a means to use next a 5-foot-step to avoid attacks, which is cool. Somewhat odd - the feat makes clear that the character can't use a 5-foot step in the round following its use, making sure that you basically borrow next round's 5-foot-step, but what about regular movement? I assume that's still possible or does the evasive action count as next round's 5-foot step and thus eliminates other movement? This pdf does not contain Bite Me!'s Hybrid and Primal Shape feats, so if you're looking for these, you'll need supplemental material.

The pdf also covers items - a total of 4 mundane items is included, featuring rat scent, rat-calling pipes, slick that helps staying out of the grasp of foes and air sweetener to avoid diseases. The pdf also features a new special weapon quality, which, at +1, increases hide and miss chances AND maintains invisibility for the attacker...which is insane and totally underpriced, particularly since it can be applied to ranged weapons. A helm that facilitates rodent communication and nets a diseased bite attack (properly codified as primary) and a rat saddle are okay, as are lenses that can store light they then may emit as fiery rays. The one item that really is cool among the magical ones would be oil that slims targets passing through squares treated with it, allowing thieves and scoundrels to escape through impossibly thin cracks - very cool.

The pdf features a rodent subdomain that allows the user to gain increased speed and a bonus to Stealth 3+Wis-mod times per day. The pdf also features a total of 5 new spells: Close Quarters is intriguing: It allows you and another Medium or smaller ally to occupy the same square and count as flanking foes if you attack the same target, which is incredibly useful for sneak attack. That being said, the spell assumes that you move into an adjacent square when it ends - but what if there is no room? Also, at level 1 bard, inqui and ranger, this spell is pretty strong, though the restriction to the "tricky" classes keeps is still in the "potentially VERY problematic" rather than the "broken" field. Using crowd stride to teleport through crowds is pretty cool and gnaw anything lets you ignore significant amounts of hardness with a selected natural weapon. Growing creatures in a swarm to twice their size is cool and there is a spell-option to increase the deadliness of diseases and poisons.

The pdf concludes with two sample characters with extensive backgrounds, motivations and schemes to incorporate them in your game - Suilin Hinatoi, a CR 11 monk/ninja and Merrick, a CR 9 sewer druid - both of the characters come with stats for humanoid and beast shape. As for the flavor of wererats as presented here, I don't have significant complaints this time around - the social nature and predilection to guild structures, warrens and use of rodents as pets make sense and utilize the established material well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though on a rules-level, there are some minor hiccups. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version: Kudos!! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with an array of gorgeous full-color original pieces in Jacob Blackmon's signature style. Particularly the rat-toothed humanoid shape getting ready to gnaw through a rope is awesome.

Robert H. Hudson Jr. and Mike Welham's wererats rank among the better offerings in the wererat series. While there is some material to nitpicking the details, as a whole, there are some gems to be found in the squeezing and crowd-maneuvering component. Power-level-wise, the wererat is one of my favorites among the individual lycanthrope-race pdfs in the series. That being said, the hiccup in the barbarian is not too cool and the other archetypes didn't really wow me either - I've frankly seen the concepts done in more complex and detailed ways. Usually, the items are a highlight in these and the same holds true here - there is some magic to be found...though the book oversteps balance-wise its boundaries here and there.

Staying invisible while attacking sans requiring a the improved version is very strong and in the hands of the right build, can be devastating. Similarly, two capable sneakers occupying the same space can make for a true shredder with the right build. This does not make the options broken, mind you - it just is a symptom of an impression of this pdf, namely that it could have used a slightly more delicate touch requiring some of the repercussions of its effects. These do not have to come up, mind you...but they may. In spite of the gems herein and me liking quite a bit of what I can see here, I hence have to rate this 3.5 stars, rounded down - a mixed bag slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Wererats
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New Paths 8: the Trickster (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:50:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the Second Revision

This second revised installment of the New Paths-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue at the request of my players.

The trickster class presented herein receives d8 HD, a now reduced 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus rapier, longsword, sap, short sword, shortbow, whip light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and may freely cast spells while only wearing light armor and/or using a shield. The class receives 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves and gains spellcasting.

Spellcasting of the trickster is slightly more tricky (I'll punch myself later for that one) than you'd expect: The trickster's spellcasting is governed by Intelligence and thus is prepared according to convention. However, spells prepared are not expended upon being cast - instead, the spell slot of the appropriate level is expended. Metamagic is handled as for sorcerors and similar spontaneous casting classes. High Intelligence influences the number of spells a trickster can cast, but not the amount of spell-slots he has - this is pretty important for balance, so bear that in mind. So, in summary, we have an actually working blend of prepared and spontaneous casting here for a surprisingly unique take on the old vancian system. And yes, concise rules for cantrips gained (often overlooked) and spellbooks (ditto!) are part of the deal here. This section is rather elegant - kudos here! Tricksters begin play with 4 cantrips known and 2 1st level spells and increase that up to 6 for each spell level, barring 5th and 6th, which cap at 5. 5 is also the maximum spells per day limit. Akin to the alchemist and similar classes, spellcasting caps at spell level 6.

The trickster also receives access to sneak attack and begins play with +1d6, increasing this by +1d6 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Similarly, at first level, the trickster gains trapfinding. So far, so rogue-y, right?

Well, second level becomes a bit more unique, as the trickster gains a forte on which to focus, of which 4 are provided. Structure-wise, the fortes provide immediate benefits and unlock new abilities at 5th and 9th level. The first would be Acrobat, which not only provides skill-bonuses to movement-related skills and eliminates the need for running starts to get the associated bonus. Additional movement while not carrying heavy load or the like and no armor check penalty for Dex-based skills can also be found here. At 5th level, the trickster gains a scaling bonus to AC and CMD and may also act as though under freedom of movement for trickster level round per day, but only for movement purposes. The 9th level ability has been similarly redesigned - provided the trickster has at least 10 ft., he can dimension door as part of the move action expended, but, in a unique twist, the total distance he can thus travel is limited and capped with a daily max. The second forte is arcane accomplice, which nets a familiar, though the familiar receives Disable Device and Sleight of Hand as class skills and can deal sneak attack as long as it's within 30 ft. of the trickster - and yes, this means you can basically double-team on your own, greatly increasing the validity of sneak attack, though, for balance's sake, a familiar's sneak attack uses d4s, which proved mathematically feasible in my tests. 5th level goes one step further and nets the familiar all teamwork feats of the trickster as well as AC +2, while 9th level provides basically spring attack for the familiar, but only with regards to delivering harmless touch attacks - and yes, this is more versatile than you'd think.

The third forte is Beguile and provides +1 to DCs and +1 to rolls to overcome SR, scaling by +1 at 5th and 9th level - but only when targeting creatures that would be denied their Dexterity-modifier or that are helpless. At 5th level, when successfully feinting, the target would be denied his Dex-mod to AC for the next melee attack or spell targeting by the trickster, but only when performed on or before his next turn. 9th level decreases the required action to feint to a move action, a swift action if the trickster has Improved Feint.

The fourth forte is Spell Pilfer, which is easily the most unique of the fortes: As an immediate action, the trickster can make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) to identify the spell and, if successful, the trickster may attempt to pilfer the spell. The caster receives a Will-save versus 10 + 1/2 trickster class level + Int-mod to negate the attempt. If the caster fails, he loses access to the spell known or prepared spell, while the trickster temporarily (1/2 class levels, minimum 1) adds the spell to his list of spells known. While the spell is pilfered, the original caster may not cast it, but the trickster may, provided he has an available spell slot. Only one spell (again, VERY important for balance) can be pilfered at a given time - pilfering a second spell, the previous spell immediately reverts to the owner. This ability can be used 3 + Intelligence mod times per day. It should be noted that tricksters can only pilfer spells they can cast, another VERY important limitation. Now you may have noted that Will-saves are pretty easy for most casters - thus, at 5th level, the trickster's Wisdom modifier is also added to the DC to resist the pilfer attempt. I am usually fiercely opposed to dual attribute-mods to anything, but considering that Wis is NOT a trickster's crucial stat in any way, in practice, this is not problematic. 9th level allows the trickster to pilfer spells above his casting capacity, but thankfully with the caveat that the trickster can't cast such spells - so no abuse possible. This is a very impressive ability in my book, since it makes spell theft work sans holes in the wording, sans abuse. Love it!

The new, fifth forte would be shadow, which nets a +2 insight bonus on Stealth checks in dim light or less and it also nets low-light vision and darkvision 30 ft. (Or +30 ft., if the trickster already has darkvision.) 5th level nets something unique - the option to 3* Int-mod times per day animate shadows of targets to attack them (cool). Shadow and darkness spells are cast at CL +1. At 9th level, the trickster can basically hide in plain sight while within 10 feet of a shadow other than his own and at that level, the shadow may use the trickster's sneak attack, which is a pretty cool revision. The revision of the shadow forte is more intriguing and unique. Kudos for making it more interesting.

Starting at 3rd level the trickster adds +1 competence bonus to Bluff, Disguise, Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand or Stealth, increasing the bonus by +1 every third level, though the new bonuses gained may be freely distributed among aforementioned spells. 3rd level also nets evasion and 6th, 12th and 18th level provides bonus feats from a limited list. 8th level provides uncanny dodge, 11th improved uncanny dodge.

At the level, as a standard action, the trickster can cast a spell with a range of touch and deliver it as part of a melee attack, with the restriction of only working in conjunction with spells that have a casting time of 1 standard action or less. If the trickster hits, he also deals sneak attack damage in conjunction with the touch spell. Important: Misses mean the spell is lost, not held! This, combined with 3/4 BAB, is an important balancing mechanism...At least until high levels, for at 17th level, it is no longer lost - as a minor nitpick, while it is clear from the wording, it would have been nice to see the class explicitly specify that the trickster can hold only one sneakspell charge to avoid stacking them up. Spells thus delivered may also not be enhanced by metamagic and, have a crit mod of x2. 9th level provides ranged legerdemain, though the ability is thankfully MORE precise than that of the arcane trickster PrC, specifying how far you can propel stolen objects and increasing the required skill ranks to 5. At 14th level, the trickster receives Filch Spell, which allows the trickster to hijack spells requiring direction (flaming spheres etc.) as a move action 3+Inttelligence modifier times per day. 15th level provides Surprise spells - but unlike the imprecise original take on the ability, this one clarifies from the get-go how it works with magic missiles or AoE-spells. As a capstone, the trickster treats all sneak attack damage 1s and 2s as 3s and automatically confirms all crits when using sneak attack. Additionally, the trickster may add metamagic to sneakspells sans increasing the casting time.

It should be noted that the trickster, still exceedingly powerful, now has a suggestion to decrease the power of the class: The suggestion is to eliminate necromancy and evocation from the spells they can cast. While this may be a sound idea and a quick and dirty elimination of the blasting capabilities of the trickster, it only marginally addresses the issue of power - an alternate, more conservative spell-progression would have been a more prudent solution in my book and maintained the universality of character concepts one can realize - instead of restricting the options, reducing the resources available, especially considering the strong framework of the class, would have made sense to me.

The previously horribly broken archetype has been completely redesigned and basically been split into two mutually exclusive archetypes both of which feature diminished spellcasting to 4th level. The first of these would be the Dual-Forte master, who gains a second forte at 6th level. He is treated as -4 levels for this forte, .2 levels at 11th and use full level for the second forte at 20th level. Feat-exchanges further balance the archetype. The second archetype would be the forte master, who gains a further upgrade for the forte chosen - one ability is gained at 11th and at 14th level, with the respective abilities depending on the forte chosen. Acrobats can inflict sneak attack when moving more than 10 feet and maintain actions after using dimension door. Arcane Accomplices increase familiar potency and may teleport them to an adjacent square 1/day as a swift action. Beguilers get enchantment tricks, shadow masters darkness-related tricks that blend the dark with nice tricks and spell pilferers may now steal divine spells as well. And yes, these significantly powerful upgrades are further balanced by 2 lost feats in addition to the spellcasting

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch and precise, I noticed but one minor fringe case; other than that - all around precise and well done in both formal and rules-language departments. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports multiple gorgeous pieces of original art. The pdf comes with bookmarks in spite of its brevity - nice.

Marc Radle's trickster is interesting - it is a testament to how much we love the concept of a rogue-y character that the by now pretty broken (as in: too weak) base class continues to see truly excellent takes on the trope. Regarding customization options, both the talented rogue and in particularly, Legendary Games' absolutely brilliant Legendary Rogues-book provided options for the "mundane" rogue that retain their viability in the system. Why "retain"? Well, simple: You see, the rogue has been pretty much a casualty to changing design-paradigms in PFRPG - when the core-rules were releases, the value of a rogue talent was obviously set to about a feat or less, while later classes have increased the value of class-specific options - compare alchemist discoveries and rogue talents if you need proof of that...or look at the ninja's framework and unique tricks and you'll notice the paradigm-shift.

The trickster, however, is not a simple rogue redesign - it could be summed up as a magus/rogue-hybrid, but that does not do the class justice: Instead of cobbling together two classes, the trickster is a completely unique class. Let me sum up the unique benefits here: The trickster streamlines problematic arcane trickster class features, has a unique spellcasting-blend that plays different from standard classes while being easy to understand and it provides a balanced, strong means to represent the sneak attack double team as well as, most importantly, creating the AWESOME spell pilfer mechanic.

Where am I going with this history lesson/comparison? Well, the trickster is stronger than the vanilla rogue - no doubt. It frankly SHOULD be - there are three classes that need versatility/power-upgrades: Rogue, monk and (versatility-wise/unique class feature-wise) fighter. The trickster is stronger than the rogue can deliver solid damage - much like a magus, this class is a glass cannon, though one that also is a rather good face/skill-monkey. Personally, I very much welcome the decrease in skills per level, though this in no way decreases the potency of the class.

Here's what I really like here: Marc Radle has actually listened to the feedback of the first revision and improved the file significantly. The new archetypes are balanced and do fun things and the totality of the trickster can now truly be called a great little class. The second revisions improvements catapult this to the rating-echelon of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths 8: the Trickster (Pathfinder RPG)
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01AA02 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #2 - The Tormented and the Twisted (PFRPG) PDF
Publisher: SagaRPG
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:36:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The massive second installment of the Darkwood Adventure Arc clocks in at 128 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 122 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so in case you haven't read my reviews of the first full module and excursion, please wait a second and even if you don't want to play a full sequence of modules, please continue reading, all right?

So, what makes these modules unique? Number one would be aesthetics: A central draw of these modules lies in the aesthetic and the truly fresh feeling that is based on taking aesthetics and tropes of classic Wild West, blending them with a healthy dose of weird fantasy and applying them to a fantasy scenario. Basically, this feels like a medieval Wild West that never was, suffused with a healthy dose of new school game design of the best kind. The mutating, complex disease first introduced in the first Darkwood installment can be found among the supplemental materials; the new magic items sports several full color artworks to represent them. The pdf features new alchemical creations, a stone-forming cleric archetype, a new witch patron with hexes, new spells, two new religions (one of which is all about technology as the thing to worship, basically representing transhumanism blended with magic and the ideology of enlightenment) as well as an update of the town Darkwood, including a bulletin board for the local tavern of sorts, where, rendered in full color, you can read about the prices and local policies. The pdf also has mechanics for intoxication, no less than 3 insanities and a fully rendered gazetteer on the ahsen'i, the local Native American-like ethnicity. We even get a char-sheet!

So yes, regarding bonus material, this leaves nothing to be desired...but you're not here for that, right? You want to know about the module? Well, I shall oblige, but in order to properly discuss this, we need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. Trust me, you do NOT want to SPOIL this one.

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Still here? All right! In the aftermath of the unpleasant attack on the locals in the last installment and extensive establishing shots regarding the unique nature and feeling of the setting, we begin with one of several fully rendered introductions. And I mean "fully" - with read-aloud text. Why is this relevant? The saga emulates coalition allegiances with an optional, rather rewarding allegiances system and each of the factions so far introduced gets its own introduction, establishing firmly the respective tropes and methodology of the groups...and boyo, does it do a good job here. While I could talk about magic keelhauling, strange séances and less weird practices for this section, ultimately I couldn't be able to properly capture the sense of immersion this book's prose manages to capture. Have I btw. mentioned that, in said séance, the smoke forming a message has actually been reproduced as artwork, doubling as a handout? Oh yes, this is the level of care we're dealing with here!

There seems, in any ways, to be some sort of connection between the tainted, aggressive trolls that attacked the town and a mysterious elven explorer called Geneal -and each faction has a very good reason to want to talk to him. Here's the issue, though: The elf's incarcerated in Fetterstone prison, a veritable fortress under the command of duergar bondswarden Hafnir Kreigsbyte.

Yes. This is a prison break/infiltration. The module does take this complex set-up in a manner that I have frankly seen too rarely, so here is the list.

We have extensive notes on the information that can be gathered before.

We have intentionally incomplete, player-friendly maps of the complex.

We actually get different entry vectors, from full Stealth to various means of infiltration. We have stuff that Stealth-less characters can do.

We have a matrix of the key characters among the prison-fortresses guards noting their loyalty and whether they can be bribed and how much it takes to do so!

The prison has prepared alert levels with responses !!

We have a security detail map for the GM, with guards and the routes of the patrols !!!

We actually also have social dynamics among the populace !!!!

In all my years of Shadowrun, Night's Black Agents and similar, more stealth-focused games, I have never seen ANY module do this better. I did not need to do ANYTHING regarding security details, including magics. The level of detail here is absolutely immaculate and blasts everything about of the water.

This is truly glorious...and guess what? It also actually takes the "getting caught"-angle seriously; there is a second chance for the PCs if they screw up (or elect to use that entry vector!) - the PCs may actually be pressganged into a tactical assault upon a caravan with foreign agents in a fully realized encounter, including tactical map. This is simply going above and beyond.

Oh, and the dungeon below the complex is nothing to sneeze at either - with subtle humor (Mr. Pouncy the cat familiar), glimpses of the horrific, challenging traps, magical problems, unique critters...oh, and a truly lethal dungeon self-destruct mechanism that may see the dungeon flood as the PCs are frantically trying to disable the complex mechanism or run from the collapse, adding even more action and excitement to this frankly legendary module!

That's not where the pdf stops, though - the module does have two fully mapped sidetreks - mini-modules that in no way fall behind in detail or atmosphere behind the main meat of the module: We have "The Witching of Stump Hall", where strange occurrences have begun, as fey seemingly invade darkwood and a mastermind weaves the threads of a plan most grim indeed. In the second sidetrek, the PCs will have the opportunity to explore a Ahsen'i bonefield and deal with the deadly challenges lurking there. Yes, mapped as well. And yes, these "sidetreks" can be used as glorious, convention-style scenarios, if you're looking for that.

One final note here - know how the first module introduced written-in background challenges and character-specific sidequests a GM can utilize - basically, when used with pregens or modified by the GM, the pdf has character-specific arcs and quests written as optional components into its very nature, helping the players get more invested in the narrative.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous, two-column full-color standard with a ton of original full-color artwork of excellent quality. The pdf also features a ton of full-color cartography - with glorious full-color tactical maps, player-handout maps and nothing to be desired. Glorious. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks and the pdf is layered, allowing full customization of GM labels. The pdf actually comes with a second pdf optimized for the use with mobile devices. I loved this book so much, I actually got the print version - and seriously, that's the one I'd go for.

Lars Lundberg & Nick Johnson's second installment of the Darkwood Adventure Arc is PHENOMENAL. This breathes a unique cultural flair that is inspired and unique in the truest sense of the word and must be called out as nothing less than the masterclass of adventure design. I have NEVER seen any prison-break/infiltration-scenario done even half as well as this one: It has EVERYTHING - from the absolutely glorious entry-vectors to the copious, well-written read-aloud texts to the trouble-solving options, supplemental material, builds, modules and production values, this module blows 99.9% of Pathfinder modules out of the water and leaves them in shreds. How this works for the more than fair price-point is frankly beyond me; this module has a spot of honor on my shelf, surpasses its already excellent predecessors and can be considered to e an example of the very finest of virtues that contemporary adventure design has to offer.

It's been a while since we had a module by SagaRPG and I don't know whether the arc will be completed, but even as a stand-alone, this has all the virtues and unique power it requires. Even as a stand-alone module, this is frankly one of the very most awesome pieces of content you can find and I'd frankly eat ramen for a month to support a kickstarter to keep this series going - that's how much I love it. I have frankly failed this series and should have highlighted this module so much sooner - not only on behalf of the team that crafted this masterpiece, but on behalf of you, my readers, for not pointing out the level of awesomeness this offers sooner. So yes, even though this was released sooner, I only covered, ran and enjoyed it recently - so this does get a final verdict of 5 stars, seal of approval and is a candidate for my Top Ten of this year. I love it that much. So please, do check out this absolutely legendary module. I am positive you will not regret it and if you do hate it, drop me a line and I'll see that I can make it up to you - that's how much I adore this module! Must Own. Get it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
01AA02 - Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #2 - The Tormented and the Twisted  (PFRPG) PDF
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ASA: Picnic at Forest Cove
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:34:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revised edition of the module intended for younger audiences clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In case you're new to the product line - this module is intended for play with kids, to be completed in one session after school...and impart some knowledge unobtrusively while playing. All right, got that? Great!

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

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..

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All right, still here? Only GMs around? The PCs are accompanying Master Michele, in charge with wizard education towards a famous picnic spot, and en route, the wizard utilizes potions of speak with animals to allow the kids the chance to converse with a badger family, who are currently heading for greener pastures - obviously, something has forced them to relocate from their home. (And yes, the pdf does note what's inside their picnic baskets.)

On the way to the picnic location, more unpleasant things are afoot - a rather emancicated wolverine is fighting for his life against disgusting giant ticks! The PCs can help the hungry, poor critter and help it - though it'll take some delicate care to make the weary and wounded animal trust the PCs, though healing and aid against the ticks does help significantly.

The half-starved critter also tells of blackened water and indeed, at the wonderful, once untouched beach, one can now see a log fort and black waters - and indeed, passing a relatively harmless "trap", the PCs encounter two appropriately goofy azer brothers, who are very proud of their Rock-B-Coal device and the quick processing of coal! It is said device and particularly the swift syrup that hastens the process that is responsible for the pollution and while combat is a way to drive them off, Diplomacy and, more importantly, science, can really help here, making the process less strenuous on the environment. This would also be a great time, just fyi, to explain the coalification process, with notes provided and a handy link for further information available.

This is not how the pdf stops, though: We also receive a recipe for "coal lumps" based on chocolate sandwich cookies and mini marshmallows...and there also is the coal cookie mining activity that teaches the cost and process of mining! The activity takes 1 - 2 hours and requires play money, 3 different types of packaged chocolate chips, grid paper, pencils, flat toothpicks, round toothpicks, paper clips and that's it!

The pdf begins with the procedure explained: Coal mining companies need to revert the land to the status before mining, which is a significant cost. The mining should be profitable even with these costs. Each participant gets $19 play money, a sheet of grid paper and the handy cookie mining worksheet included. Each player may purchase mining property (a cookie) with different prices, depending on type. The cookie is placed on the grid and traced - the number of squares that are included in the outline (including partial square) are noted down. Next, you purchase mining equipment: Flat toothpicks cost $2, round ones $4 and a paper clip is 6$. Each minute of labor (mining) costs $1 and each chocolate chip mined from the cookies nets a $2 profit. Broken chips can be combined into whole chips, but consumed chips will eat into profit! The participants may mine for a maximum of 5 minutes. In the end, the participants must do "reclamation"- I.e. return the cookie to its former state - with only the tools they have! Each square outside the original outline costs $1.

This whole experience is discussed, with questions, potential for extensions and the like - and I really love this game. It's easy to grasp, somewhat difficult and yet not too hard and incredibly fun. It also helps getting a more differentiated picture of the challenges of mining as opposed to the glorification/demonization we can often find in various media. Oh, and the activity would make for a great drunk party game for adults!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a colorful 2-column full-color standard with nice color artworks. The pdf is bookmarked, in spite of its brevity, which is nice.

The revised version of Kelly Pawlik's module is vastly superior to the original iteration and manages to provide an educational and rewarding experience, best suited for kids ages 4 - 10.

My one, minor gripe here is that the activity, flexible as it is, is basically separate from the module. The plus side is that it can easily be run before or after the module and that it works perfectly as a stand-alone sans the module part.

But still, in my mind, helping the azer brothers mine in game would have probably made for a cool synergy and provided a second side to the whole experience: The pollutant syrup could have made some operations cheaper, for example, tying both environmental concern and the need to make profit, together and illustrate via one experience both sides and the difficulties faced. Anyways, a capable GM can easily do this and this is an inexpensive, fun and educational module. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ASA: Picnic at Forest Cove
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Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 6
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:33:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This inexpensive little pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What exactly is in here? Well, know how the AP-installment have a couple of monsters in the back? This book converts the beasts in the back of the furious finale of RotRL, Greg A. Vaughan's "Spires of Xin-Shalast", into mythic critters, so let's take a look and check whether this holds up!

The thread of the weird as a subtext of Golarion was featured in the existence of the denizens of Leng prominently, who have been translated to CR 10/MR 4. The strange circulation of these beings now features toxic blood and the abilities of the being complement well the planar weirdness of these beings. Similarly associated with Mythos and folklore, the CR 21/MR 8 Wendigo with its cannibal compulsion is cool - but, OMG, really cool would be the defensive withdraw that leaves a fetish-double that fakes death and can cause deadly compulsions in those exposed to it. That's BEFORE the chill, the heart eating, draining of mythic power and the hit and run abilities. FINALLY, a build worthy of legendary wendigo! YES! The pdf has the Suppress Vulnerability mythic feat reproduced here for your convenience.

At CR 15/MR 6, the scarlet walker's mythic version comes with a blood-draining gaze that can penetrate, x-ray style, through hindrances, move through difficult terrain sans issues and use mythic power to exsanguinate foes...or cause the targets to become entangled in their own vascular system, ripped from their body...now if THAT is not some disturbing, awesome imagery - glorious!

At the same MR/CR, the kuchrima lamia now get accelerated onset disease-causing, a replaced and improved version of the devastating sniping abilities of the base critter, a reflexive feather burst and the option to imbue rays that hit them into rays they can send back to the sender - cool. At CR 18/MR 7, the hungerer lamia with its aura of famine, the option to turn the blood of those affected by their acid to...acid and suffocate them...oh, and steal feats or spells. Absolutely inspired!

And if that is not yet enough, what about the CR +3/MR3 lamia harridan template, which represents the true master-enslavers/tyrants of the lamia, enhancing the enslavement-themes.

At CR 22/MR 9, the signature rune gaint, perhaps the most evocative of RotRL's giants can blind those casting nearby, cause Wisdom-drain, generate showers of lethal sparks and parry attacks directed at it - superb! The pdf does also feature a version with the giant simple template added, increasing CR to 23 for this engine of destruction.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson, Jim Groves, Tom Phillips and Jonathan Keith's critters herein are definitely all-killer, no filler - I am particularly enamored with the glorious Wendigo-build, though scarlet walkers and lamias similarly are great. The template could be a tad bit more flexible for the CR/MR-adjustment, but that should not be taken as a complaint. This little pdf is great - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 6
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Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 5
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:32:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This inexpensive little pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What exactly is in here? Well, know how the AP-installment have a couple of monsters in the back? This book converts the beasts in the mega-dungeon-centric issue of the first AP into mythic iterations.

The lowest power-level here is CR 5/MR 2, the ercinee to be more precise: The critter can use mythic power to increase its light to blinding levels, spatter nearby foes with luminous fluid and lull foes into sleep or screech them into confusion. Solid! The CR 10/MR 4 marsh giant may make use of huge gaffs and drag foes into the drowning depths and 1/day transform into a brineborn abomination form that lends some seriously needed unique identity to the none-too intriguing base creature. Nice!

The most powerful critter herein is the demonic engine of destruction that is the CR 20/MR 8 shemhazian - a thing that oozes a cowering inducing apex predator aura, that can highjack rage effects, retribution versus critical hits and an aura of fury sans benefits for those subject to it. The critter also comes with the mythic iteration of Quick Awesome Blow, reprinted here for your convenience. The critter is all about precise and devastating damage...and it is damn cool.

At CR 11/MR 4, the witchfire can increase the witchfire flame via mythic power, gain a reflexive flame and may use mythic power to emit lethal, unerring bolts of their lethal blasts.

The 5th module of RotRL is most known for, probably for the two heralds featured inside - at CR 18/MR 7, the pdf features the Herald of Lamashtu and Desna. The latter, the Night Monarch, sports cocooning webs and may partially shiver into the realm of dreams, access to revelations of the heavens mystery's revelations and grant boons to the willing, emphasizing both the nature of the critter, Desna's themes and the themes of the deity - oh, and mythic Wind Stance included in the build, reproduced here for your convenience. Kudos.

Dread Yethazmari, Lamashtu's herald, also has a build that is not to be underestimated: Quick gestation of a litter of abominations, protection from critters (and an enhancing aura that makes said critters better at striking back versus those that dare strike Yethazmari), reactive AoOs, maddening curses and the truly deadly demonflesh plague that may turn you into a dretch, the herald emphasizes the unique abilities of the base critter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jim Groves, Steven T. Helt, Tom Phillips, Alistair J. Rigg and Mike Welham have created a collection of mythic critters herein ranks among the best in the series so far. The lethal powers of the critters herein are evocative and I particularly love the heralds blending conceptually the themes of deities and creatures in a truly evocative manner. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 5
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Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 4
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2016 07:29:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This inexpensive little pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What exactly is in here? Well, know how the AP-installment have a couple of monsters in the back? This book converts the beasts in the by now legendary AP-installment penned by Wolfgang Baur, to be more precise, the fourth Pathfinder installment ever, into mythic versions.

All right, we begin this installment of the Mythic Module Monsters-series with the CR 7/MR 3 take on the evocative concept of the Deathweb and it IS GLORIOUS - not only can it react to combat maneuvers with losing parts of their exoskeleton, a lethal infestation aura, rapid self-repair, the option to evade smaller creatures or emit spider swarm-infested webs. Absolutely the awesome critter the deathweb was supposed to be. Two thumbs up!

The CR 7/MR 3 version of the redcap is particularly possessive of his cap and lethal versus thieves of it and the mythic critter reacts to good-aligned holy symbols with rabid rage and the eponymous redcaps...well, more powerful as well.

The pdf also features an upgrade of the Runeslave-template, at CR +2/MR 1, does feature quite an array of nice tricks, including the catching of spells and the arcane decay essence being provided in a smart and evocative manner. That being said, I do feel that the template could have gone a step further in flexibility and means to depict these hulking super-soldiers.

The CR 9/MR 3 iteration of the legendary hound of Tindalos gains entropic shields when moving through angles and may use mythic power to exist in two spaces at once, manipulate probabilities and time itself and tear foes asunder with its ripping gazes.

At CR 15/MR 6, the Taiga Giant may add combat feats to the effects of boulders thrown on the run, poach abilities from the ancestor mystery and more unique tricks pertaining mastery of spears and the ancestor spirit-angle, making them more unique than the none-too-original base creature. The build also includes the mythic version of Hulking Hurler, reprinted here. The same CR/MR is featured for the shining child' mythic version, whose burning light sticks to targets, blinds foes, may teleport around like crazy and gains a moderately powerful death throes ability.

At CR 12/MR, the mythic scanderig gets added fire damage and the spit slag is articularly difficult to escape. Here's the cool thing, though: The corpulent fiend may roll itself into a wrecking ball form and truly smash asunder foes - unique and awesome and of so fitting!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson, Jim Groves, Tom Phillips, Alistair J. Rigg and Steven T. Helt's take on the monsters from the fourth RotRL-installment was a surprise for me. Why? Because I actually really like what was done with a lot of these critters; the Deathweb is my star here, no doubt, and imho worth the fair price on its own. The other critters do not fall short either, though I was slightly disappointed at the top-class level by the shining child and runeslave, said disappointment only stems from the insane expectations I have for these critters at this point. This is a superb little pdf, well worth 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Module Monsters: Rune Lords 4
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Winter Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2016 18:38:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is all about providing evocative pregens, primarily intended for use with the Reign of Winter AP and clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of how to use/introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look at those pregens!

First of all, how were they created? The characters herein, in default, are presented as 20-pt.-buy characters and the respective characters do have information pertaining 15-pt.-buy downscaling rules I very much appreciate. The pregens make rules of current PFRPG hardcovers as well as Paths of Prestige and the Inner Sea Bestiary. The respective characters also feature several roleplaying tips

The first of the characters herein would be Brynla, a scythe-wielding half-orc druidess of the green faith initiate archetype; bullied by her less than kind siblings and raised in humble origins, she is slowly moving towards becoming an acolyte and certainly, spring seems like a symbolic change of pace for her.

The second character in here, Maja Tasker, is an investigator sleuth of halfling descent, her smarts and investigations have unearthed that Kostchtchie's minions have been cooperating with a white witch of Irrisen - but why? How? The search for truth will lead her, provided she survives, towards truths unimagined as her parents still pose a mystery she needs to solve.

Pero, a human summoner, just 16 years old, was saved from raiders...and found a purring creature atop him, the eidolon was here, avatar of his power - ever since that, the young summoner has kept his high spirits and positive attitude and, in case you were wondering - yep, eidolon stats included.

Roelof, a male dwarven witch (ley line guardian), has forever been intrigued with the rare lore of odd arcana and studied ever since a key event - but when he tried to actually fulfill his life's dream, receive the training from the witches he so desperately craved, he was laughed off. Frustrated, he looked back to his childhood and realized his calling, singing to him from his past...and so he may yet become a dwarven, male winter witch or horizon walker...we'll see.

Senka Featherfingers, fetchling rogue, she has found a mysterious bracelet, but ever since then, she has been haunted by unfortunate occurrences, as winter itself seems to trail her very steps...but how and why, that will need to be shown.

Stojan would be a great candidate for those looking for a slightly more uncommon character, as the two-handed fighter is also a half-snowborn elf; here would be btw. as great a place as any to notice that the pregens do feature some serious interactions among themselves- Stojan's items, for example, contain items he is carrying for his brother and similarly, the backgrounds intersect.

Aforementioned brother would, just fyi, be the half snowborn elven battle oracle, was transformed into his current state by the same traumatic event - and like his brother, his seemingly carefree attitude is founded upon a desire to hide the scars of his past, here mixed with a fear that his brother may seek the relief of death.

The final character herein would be Zuza Holt - a herald of the horn skald, Zuza can be pictured as a female version of Conan - in love with a warm fire, pleasures of the flesh and blood-stirring songs, the greataxe-wilding beauty feels like a Cimmerian (or Kellid) warrior queen transported to Golarion, but one with a touching quest: She is looking for an elixir of sex change for her sister, for that is her heart's desire.

The pdf does feature a page of paper minis for the respective characters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the 1-page artworks for the PCs make for glorious artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Liz Courts' Winter Heroes are an inspired collection of diverse characters that cover a lot of different roles and feature evocative angles. Power-level wise, they are efficient at their respective niches/tasks, but more importantly, their builds represent feasible and organically grown builds - the stats represent the stories and vice versa. With a diverse set of angles, AP leitmotifs reflected in backgrounds and generally great prose, this collection of pregens is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Winter Heroes: Pregenerated Characters
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2016 18:35:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first of the Dispatches from the Raven Crowking collection of blogposts, miscellanea, new material and the like for DCC clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 48 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this book with an essay that discusses roleplaying games under the criteria of the eponymous three Cs, but not before making clear that, what follows, is not intended as a cure-all or as a universal truth - it's been a while since I've seen a subjectivity clause in a GM advice section and I won't lie - I consider its inclusion refreshing and professional. Anyways, the following essay can be pictured as a concise and pointed breakdown of the three Cs, so let us begin: Ultimately, more so than in our daily lives, roleplaying games are exercises in free will and choices; much like our reality and social structure imposes a certain degree of rules upon us, so does a given roleplaying system. Once you realize the importance of choice, it becomes pretty apparent why both highly codified games like PFRPG and those that feature a minimum of rules enjoy their popularity: Either by means of simply providing a huge and fine-grained array of diverse options or by requiring none of them, choice is facilitated. However, this is only the system; the practice of roleplaying similarly is informed by choices and this extends to fudging - or not fudging, dice, a theme covered in a separate essay, but one that I feel ties directly into the 3 Cs.

The pdf makes a pretty vehement stand (unsurprisingly) in favor of letting the dice fall as they may and point a single fact out: If you roll the dice and disregard the result, why roll at all? At first glance, this may generate some anger or seem infuriating, but there is an intriguing meta-point here: If the module/system/engine you utilize features a choice and you decide via the dice, what does it say about the game when the results are ignored in favor of an optimum narrative? The pdf does take a stab at the design philosophy of 3.X here and, to a certain degree, I concur: As soon as you do not emphasize challenge, but rather a fixed and relatively likely success and then proceed to streamline deviations from said behavior away, you eliminate not only your own choice, but that of the players as well. More importantly: If a module or given supplement's options feature a lot of information that is bound (and assumed) to be ignored in favor of an ideal scenario, what does that say about the design? The problem here directly taps into the consequences of actions and the impact and severity they ought to have.

At the same time, I think the argumentation does undervalue the aspect of context - herein, context is defined as the world and the game itself; i.e. the environment in which the respective rolls are made. A context depicts the framework in which choices are made and making no choice is a choice in itself - to use the tired old quote "Sometimes the only way to win is not to play." - Replace "win" with "choice" and you have the paradox, for not choosing is a choice.

Here, the pdf imho could be a bit clearer: It identifies a crucial, immersion-hampering issue with quite a few roleplaying games, but fails to draw a truly helpful conclusion from it, instead opting for an enumeration of virtues of DCC and a more hardcore gaming aesthetic. A distinct issue that more codified roleplaying games have featured time and again lies in a sense of entitlement that has crept into the respective systems: Players demanding certain results; XP after this many encounters, levels after Y more, an availability of certain options because they are "official" (never mind how sucky many of 3.X's official WotC-splatbooks were...) and at the same time discouraging 3pp material. The second paradox in this development is, ultimately, that the people demanding such design-philosophy deprive themselves of the option to be surprised in favor of a streamlined experience; similarly this idealized streamlined experience needs to be reflected in "official" modules and supplements. This necessarily implies an ideal structure and sequence and as such, the fudging of dice to not deviate from this scenario suddenly becomes significantly more appealing.

What do I mean by this? Well, I have nothing but the highest respect for Paizo's module catalogue as a whole. There is a significant array of creative and downright brutal modules out there for Pathfinder that, if you do the math, will grind PCs, even minmaxed ones, when played properly. To have the industry leader put there out is a refutation of the premise that the adventure design philosophy is solely to blame. Instead, think carefully whether and how you fudged dice to spare a player making yet another character with complex rules, not wreck your metaplot, etc. It is, at least upon closer examination, not the module's fault or the fault of a design philosophy, at least not alone - it is a mindset, a capitulation before an internalized entitlement by both players and GMs that drains away subtly the achievement of having bested some of the more lethal modules. And I know, that even though I pride myself on being a killer-GM, am tempted to fudge the dice once in a while. But the clumsy lich, the TPK, the multi-criting halfling monk...perhaps the weirdness and uncommon quirks of fate that arise by virtue of the dice, deserve to be heard, deserve not to be fudged over. Perhaps GMs, just like players, have become a bit lazy and don't want to go off the rails anymore.

And I understand - unlike the text, my personal observation pertaining the issue stems from a deep love of both OSR-gaming, PFRPG, GUMSHOE, 13th Age and a ton of games more and in some of them, character generation is significantly more work than rolling 3d6 6 times and be done with it. Fudging is not bad per se. So let me propose an experiment: Get CoC or a similar rules-light system...and play a module with the distinct, purist mindset that everyone will die or become insane or worse. Play it. Let the dice fall. If you're doing it right, your players will have fun. Then return to your regularly scheduled game and play...and when next time the context is right and you're tempted...don't ignore that die roll. It doesn't have to be the infamous deck of many things...but still. Let the BBEG die ingloriously as the rogue backstabs him with a lucky crit; let the paladin be eaten by that gelatinous cube. If anything, there is fun to be had in failure and chaos as well.

And yes, this may have deviated quite a bit from the thesis of this pdf, but I considered it important to convey, for these observations and their clarity ultimately resulted from me reading the book and finding myself both agreeing and disagreeing - and this type of thought-provoking dialog, in lack of a better term, is exactly what I expect from such a book.

Another essay herein pertains the epic endgame - and the considerations you should make when planning the like: Why has no one else attempted it? The risks involved, etc. - think of it, both from a player and villain perspective: Every Bond-villain ever? Thwarted in the endgame. Throwing the One Ring in Mt. Doom? Endgame. By thinking about the scope and implications, one can lend a better sense of the stakes and gravitas involved to the proceedings. Beyond this, there is also an expansive Appendix N-section, which talks about Edgar Rice Burroghs, Sterling E. Lanier's Hiero's Journey and the impact both can have on a given campaign.

There is more than game theory to be found herein, though: If you are looking for an intriguing environment, you will find one with Shanthopal and the background provided for the Golden City, breathing the spirit of the fantastical blended with sword & sorcery, breathing an evocative spirit that only made me wish to hear more. Kudos!

On the utility-section, DCC judges will be happy to realize that the advice articles herein are useful indeed: Both regarding 0-level funnels and the transition to 1st level and the use of patrons within the game (and the modifications/expansions the author has brought to the concept) are discussed alongside relatively extensive lists of books to consult and check out, both released by Goodman games and 3pps. Similarly and more importantly, the emphasis to end the "generic orc/haf-dragon/etc."-syndrome, how to capture the weird and fantastic and slowly generate a DCC world and aesthetic are covered in quick, precise and well-reasoned terms, showing the author's understanding of the themes of DCC.

Alternate rules-wise, spontaneous spell learning with a significant risk factor is provided, though personally, I'm not the biggest fan of that one...however, that may be due to aesthetics. To me, in particularly in DCC, magic needs deliberation and study or help; unlocking, even a risky spontaneity in that regard makes it feel cheaper to me and thus, less magical. Your mileage may vary, obviously.

The pdf also features several creatures - namely statblocks for ammonites for DCC: Swarms in three sizes and single, larger ones from Small to Huge size can be found in the book. Additionally, we are introduced to R'yalas, lord of the drowned one, a powerful ammonite wizard and thus closes the pdf with an adversary worthy of our good ole' Cimmerian friend.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly b/w one-column A5 format (6'' by 9'') and the pdf features some solid b/w-artworks. I'd suggest getting this in print, since the pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment for the use of the electronic version.

Daniel J. Bishop's first collection of dispatches is an intriguing little GM-handbook, in particular for the weird fantasy and the sword & sorcery aesthetic, both of which I really like. His writing is precise and while I cringed HARD when reading Mother Theresa listed alongside people you'd consider heroes in examples for epic endgames and their achievement, that does not take away from the fact that I took something away from this pdf.

The writing herein is certainly opinionated, but it deserves being replied to in as far as its content manages to elucidate several not necessarily apparent conventions and structures pertaining our games. As a person, I think the WotC-bashing component is not always justified and the prospective buyer should be aware that this is very much written from a DCC-perspective; the more complex tasks more rules-intense systems demand make the subject matter more complex than the book manages to depict or even acknowledge. This remains the crucial one flaw of this book's formal essays: While it extends its reach beyond the confines of DCC and provides a valid opinion piece that certainly is thought-provoking, it does exhibit a certain ignorance, whether willful or not remains irrelevant, regarding the different requirements and dynamics of systems with a higher degree of complexity and the ramifications that result from these complexities.

It should be noted that this does NOT mean that this is a bad pdf - far from it; it just means that it oversimplifies a rather complex topic when reaching beyond the primary comfort and application zone of DCC and OSR gaming. Within the chosen paradigm and primary target audience, this should resonate; beyond these confines, it can improve the game, but requires some deliberate and thoughtful consideration of the theses and their consequences.

...

Or you just don't care about all of that and just are a DCC judge who wants some nice essays, monsters, ideas and GMing advice for your favorite game. In that case as well as in the above instances, I'd recommend this booklet, for you'll certainly find some nice inspiration and intriguing thoughts herein. In the end, considering target audience, scope and quality, I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
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Bite Me! Werebats
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2016 18:33:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Bite Me-series clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD (with one page sporting one paragraph of text pertaining char-hooks), leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This time around, we take a look at werebats, now reimagined as part of the Bite Me!-series. They get +2 Dex and Con, -2 Int, the two bloods racial feature (making you count as a parent race as well as a shapeshifter for purposes of being affected by effects), low-light vision, +2 to Perception and Fly. Beast Form works is presented in a rather precise wording construct that takes temporary hit points, equipment and the like into account and the odd formatting discrepancies gone - no complaints. In beats or hybrid form, DR 2/silver is gained and increases by +2 every odd level gained to a maximum of DR 10/silver. The werebat gains wolfsbane vulnerability and silver vulnerability. That may just be me, but I am not too keen on wolfsbane as a universal vulnerability for lycanthrope-races; to me, it makes less sense for werebats to be affected by it, but that just as an aside. Regarding beast form and advancement, I do not have significant complaints here...apart from the elephant in the room. We're talking BATS here, after all, and as such, beast form provides unassisted flight at 1st level, which may present a significant issue for some campaigns and modules, where unassisted flight is generally assumed to be available at around 5th or 6th level. Now I've ranted, raved and analyzed the unassisted flight component in detail in various reviews of mine, so let me leave you with this as a caveat emptor warning for GMs and move on. Werebats get their own age, height and weight table, which is nice.

Flavor-wise, werebats make sense to me: Considering the relatively social nature their real life brethren exhibit, expecting a tendency towards the lawful in spite of what outsiders would consider a pretty chaotic commune-structure as the most common social norm, werebats as depicted here are actually pretty comfortable in their hides and environments, which is certainly a relatively intriguing spin on the concept, deviating from the old tropes regarding them. Customization-wise, we receive a total of 7 alternate racial traits for quicker flying, Small werebats and improved social skills. I have an issue with one of these: Cavern Colonist nets a climb speed of 10 feet as well as +8 racial bonus on Climb checks associated with having a climb speed. Stacking with the bonus inherent in climb speed? There wording makes it look like it is. The trait also retains a 30 feet fly speed, regardless of form and fails to note what it replaces. On the plus-side, 3 different subtypes have been created for your convenience using the traits - just one look and there you go.

The pdf also features an array of favored class options covering Core and APG-classes as well as Magus and the UC-classes. In an only aesthetic nitpick, the names of the classes here are usually red and properly bolded - the cleric, oddly, is not red, but black. That's it and pretty much the definition of a harmless cosmetic hiccup. Rules-wise, however, the section of favored class options provides solid and feasible rules-operations and leaves nothing to be desired.

A massive total of 13 racial feats have been included, though veterans of the series will recognize some of them from previous installments: Primal Form makes a return, as does Hybrid Form, which was curiously absent in some of the installments. Personally, I welcome the inclusion of the two pretty central feats. The feats range from useful to creative: Using Fly instead of Acrobatics or as the skill governing bardic performances, for example, makes sense. blindsense 10 ft. that can be upgraded similarly makes sense and better dogfighting capabilities are appreciated. Improving CMD while flying and increasing maneuverability similarly fall into the utility category. Dazing Shriek and its follow-up feat Fearsome Shriek allow werebats to modulate their blindsense to emit an AoE-daze burst as a move action, allowing them to potentially daze lock enemies. While only available at 6th level and beyond, the lack of a hard cap (or at least cool-down) make me uncomfortable with this feat...which is rather odd, considering that Fearsome Shriek's debuffing cone does have a hard cap of uses and arguably, is weaker regarding its direct effects, though the lack of a save makes this also pretty hard-core and something I'd personally nerf in my games. Gaining a reflexive 5-foot step after being hit while airborne is really cool and, speaking of which - there is a feat called Feet like Hands which lets you use your feet for fine manipulations, wielding weapons, etc. However, the feat fails to specify how its benefits interact with multiweapon fighting etc. and, as written needs some serious GM work to work. Oh, becoming a disease carrier is also an option.

The pdf features one racial archetype, the thunder child monk, who gains a sonic-damage causing elemental fist that increases in damage output every 5 levels instead of stunning fist. At 4th level, slow fall is replaced with the option expend 2 points of ki to emit blasts of sonic energy that duplicate a sonic based variant of scorching ray. This theme is expanded at 8th level, where a variant of breath of the dragon can be found, 10th level, where discordant blast is unlocked and 14th level, where, for 3 ki, ki shout is unlocked. All of these are supernatural, but come with CL-info as well as concentration info, which is generally nice. I like the visuals of the archetype, in spite of many abilities being spells-in-a-can-style tricks; certainly one of the more evocative and flavorful archetypes in the series.

The pdf also features information pertaining mundane equipment, which includes bomber's harness, foot shields and delightfully disgusting guano grenades. On the magical item front, a total of 5 items can be found, with carrying nets helping the werebats carry loads while staying aloft, featherlight armor helping with protection while flying. Absolutely glorious: The gastrolith of the hidden hand: Eat a small stone shaped like a finger with a ring on it; you thereafter may vomit forth the ring intentionally (or when really botching saves vs. the nauseated condition), allowing for some pretty cool ring-smuggling. Infusion Collars act as a store option for infusions or extracts of up to 6 3rd level or lower extracts or infusions, which then can be activated via command word. I'm not the biggest fan of such storage items, but for the steep price, I can see it work. Screamer's Masks, finally, would be sonic-blasts-in-a-can.

The pdf also features a total of 6 new spells: These allow you to conjure forth bat swarms or riding bats, emit a sonic scream that can be hear up to 2 miles away, helping orientation and two mirrored spells that grant a bonus/penalize cavern exploration. An anti-air net of entangling force similarly makes sense.

The two sample characters in this installment would be a werebat paladin at CR 6 and a werebat alchemist at CR 9; the paladin comes with statblocks for all three forms (he has Hybrid Shape), while the alchemist comes with two; both of the NPCs feature, as always, neat artworks and notes on schemes and plots to integrate them easier into an ongoing campaign.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-level, there are some minor things that can use a bit of streamlining, but as a whole, the book does a good job. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard and the pdf features several nice, original full-color artworks. As a nice service, we get a printer-friendly iteration of the pdf and the pdfs are fully bookmarked with nested, detailed bookmarks for your convenience.

Robert H. Hudson Jr.'s werebats are honestly better than I expected; while there is some overlap in the base engine of the race (i.e. it has the same traits as the other Bite Me!-lycanthrope-races with one skill switched), the beast form benefits are pretty solid and while 1st level unassisted flight is something I am very weary of in Pathfinder contexts, as a whole, the presentation here is nice. There are some fun ideas to be found herein and, while flaws exist, as a whole the pdf provides a pretty nice look at werebats. In the end, this is a good pdf of mechanically, but not power-wise conservative designs with a few hiccups. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo. If you disallow low-level unassisted flight, these obviously are not for you, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Werebats
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Campaign Backdrop: Hills & Mountains
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2016 06:01:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' Campaign Backdrops-compilations clocks in at 115 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 108 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being a compilation of material, we begin this massive book with a handy list of statblcoks by CR with the respective page number for easy reference obviously included. Beyond that, the pdf provides advice for novice GMs on how to read statblocks and an extensive acknowledgement of author bios - I mention the latter primarily since I consider this aspect to be great and hope that other publishers will include the like in their books as well.

Anyways, as you may already know if you've read my review of the last Campaign Backdrop, we have an organization of Raging Swan Press material in this book by terrain; where the GM's Miscellany series took content and organized it by type (i.e. "Dressing" or "Villages"), these books basically provide all the material you'd need to flesh out a specific region.

The structure here is based on going from the general to the more complex/detailed; we begin with Wilderness Dressings for Hills and Mountains and move on to random encounters, which are separated by subregion - a total of 14 hill-themed encounters and 7 mountain-themed ones can be found. EL-wise, these encounters range from 1 - 9. The organization here makes slightly more sense than in the forest-installment, featuring general properties of hills and mountains (like movement through rubble, etc.) in front of the encounters with the good ole' Raging Swan Press GM-cheat-sheets I really have come to love.

Like the installment on forests, this book also has urban dressing material to reflect civilization's encroaching upon nature, with mining towns receiving their detailed dressing-due. After these more modular components, the pdf introduces us to the adventure location called prismatic tower and no less than 4 ready-to drop-in villages you can sprinkle into your mountainous region: This time around, these villages would be Denton's End, Feigrvidr, Hjalward and Silver Bluff - and yes, these rank as some of my favorites in the Village Backdrop-series.

Now, as before, gentle reader, I'd love to avoid redundancy and not rattle off the respective content again - I have covered in detail the constituent files and as such, I'd like to point you to the respective reviews I've written for them.

Conclusion:

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

John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Robert Brooks, Jeff Erwin, Fabian Fehrs, James F.D. Graham, Brian Gregory, Ben Kent, Stephen Radney MacFarland, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham deliver one exceedingly tight and useful toolkit here: Particularly if you don't already own the constituent files, this book delivers an extremely easy to use and game-enhancing toolkit for the beleaguered GM. Similarly, if you really want print of all the options herein, you'll notice that not all pieces of content in this book have so far been included in GM's Miscellany books, so there's that component as well.

As with the previous book, my one minor gripe with this is that I would have loved its terrain-related scope to be emphasized slightly more, with more hazards and mechanically relevant types of terrain...but that's just me being a total spoiled prick. The organization is slightly better this time around and, as a whole, this can be considered a true boon for any GM looking for material to flesh out the mountainous and hilly regions of her campaign. It should also be noted that the average quality of content provided herein is exceedingly high.

Now, this does not change that fans of Raging Swan Press that already have the material won't get much beyond the stellar and handy organization out of this tome...but at the same time, for people new to what RSP has to offer, this is a superb godsend indeed. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, though with the caveat that RSP-veterans may want to skip this unless they want the book for the convenience it arguably offers.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Backdrop: Hills & Mountains
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