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Monster Advancement: Enhanced Aberrations
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2015 03:49:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The third installment of Julian Neale's highly modular toolkit-templates to enhance your critters clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The base template's CR modification ranges from CR +1 to CR+2 depending on the amount of abilities gained and a handy sidebar that explains the DR-enhancing options is provided within these pages. Beyond that, you'll immediately note something truly awesome - a scaling aura of otherworldly corruption scaling with size and CR of the creature in question, representing more than well the utter wrongness the more powerful aberrations sport.


However, even more so than previous iterations in the series, this time around, we receive utterly unique and yes, downright inspired unique abilities galore: What about crystalline growths that allow the aberration to emit deadly rays of light? What about aberrations having full compatibility with Radiance House's superb Pact Magic rules? Yes, this is awesome.


Even better, the pdf manages to maintain the mathematical diversity I loved in the previous installments - for example, you don't get one type of breath weapon that scales with levels; no, you actually get a pretty consistent entry in a table, a steady, fixed average damage-dealing breath weapon (handy for 13th Age-aesthetics fans) and even an exceedingly swingy one - it is this level of flexibility, this "above and beyond", that sets this humble pdf apart.


Want aberrations that emit destructive harmonics or ones that lock down dimensional travel? The material is in here and feeding upon the dead as well as mastery of oozes and vermins can be found amid these pages alongside elemental-based SPs, devastating killer-mindblasts, stunning blasts, illithid-style save-or-be-reduced to -1 hp options for high end-CR creatures - this pdf covers the bases from the highly customizable, scaling SPs granted to boss abilities that grant additional actions and even provides poisonous spores that detonate those succumbing to their deadly effects.


Beyond even that, a handy guideline provides advice for applying the template and, for the time-starved GM, we get sample creatures spanning the CRs from 3 to 18, running the gamut from paladin flumphs to naga sorcerors.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf has no art apart from the cover, but honestly, I'm all for substance over style in such a case.


Julian Neale is a subtle designer whose books so far, if they had any flaw, then that would be that the books required some thought before the "This is great!"-reaction sets in; they are not flashy. His monsters, builds and options tend to sport some thoroughly unique and inspiring ideas, with this installment of the awesome Monster Advancement-series even surpassing the already excellent first two. Why?


Because this time around, we actually have those flashy tidbits that provoke an immediate "This is awesome!"-reaction, combined with the obvious skill regarding number-fu and creature design in general. This is, all in all, a thoroughly inspired, glorious aberration toolbox that will see ample use in my games - well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and a definite recommendation that you get this right now!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Advancement: Enhanced Aberrations
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Mythic Minis 79: Uncommon Racial Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2015 03:47:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 4 pages - 1 page front cover, 1.75 pages of SRD, 1.25 pages content, let's go!


-Agile Tongue: Pick up objects weighing up to 10 lbs and execute trips with your tongue; also numerical escalation for steal and disarm. Cool!


-Draconic Aspect: Gain resistance 10 according to your scale's color; use mythic power for temporary immunity; cool synergy with dragon-scaled racial trait with alternate benefits. Two thumbs up!


-Draconic Breath: +4 saves vs. sleep/paralysis; 1/day breath weapon, +1/day per mythic tier; breath weapon depends on color of scales, with only chromatics covered as per the base feat. Has special synergy for draconic/kobold-blooded kobold sorcerors.


-Draconic Glide: +4 saves vs. sleep/paralysis; extended glide speed, synergy with gliding wings trait, which also allows for mythic power-based true flight (sans maneuverability rating).


-Draconic Paragon: +4 saves vs. sleep/paralysis; Additional breath use, damage output upgrade and synergy with more draconic feats; cool!


-Kobold Ambusher: Decreased penalty when moving fast while Stealth-using; also, better ambush-damage.


-Kobold Sniper: Better chance to stay hidden while sniping; also increases damage and allows you to sow strife between allies, who erroneously believe their allies attacked them. Cool!


-Mother's Gift: Manifestation chosen intensifies in varied, cool ways. Awesome little feat!


There are three more feats on the SRD-page:


-Sea Hunter: Use feat versus creatures with a swim speed or freedom of movement; use mythic power to entangle targets sans requiring a second combat maneuver check.


-Stretched Wings: Increased flight speed plus Wingover via mythic power. Cool!


-Tail Terror: Tail is a primary natural weapon, apply Weapon Focus/Specialization for one kobold tail attachment to all of them; spend mythic power to upgrade the benefits to the Mythic versions of the feats temporarily.


Conclusion:


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


Jeff Lee and Jason Nelson's final feat-based mythic mini does provide a diverse array of interesting feats, some of which can even be considered brilliant; that being said, in direct comparison, the pdf does not manage to reach the level of pure excellence, "only" remaining a pdf you can't complain about, a very good buy - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 79: Uncommon Racial Feats
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7 Icon Campaign
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2015 03:45:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of 13th Age Monthly clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, 7 icons, hmm? Concept-wise, the following have been combined: Dwarf king and crusader (=Dwarf King), emperor and gold wyrm )=Golden One), archmage and priestess (=Hierophant), diabolist and lich king (=Queen of Hell), the three and prince of shadows (= The Three), elf queen and high druid (=The Wild Queen). The Orc lord is still just the orc lord - no combination there.


The new icons do come with new sample options - the servants of the Dwarf King may take the a feat that completely changes the "That's Really your Best Shot?" racial power: 1/battle as a free action, you can react to being hit with a healing recovery. If the escalation die is less than 2, only at half strength, though. You have to roll this one...because you get half the rolled result as bonus damage to the next attack that hits the enemy. OUCH. That being said, the ability does not work if you'd drop unconscious. The damage this nets is pretty nasty and not something suitable for all 13th Age campaigns, though it should work in the majority.


Paladins of the Golden One may select a new talent which allows of vs. PD golden flame attacks while also providing resist fire - scaling via feats and levels. Solid one. The Hierophant's followers get feats that allow for the exchange of cleric and wizard talents and the swapping of spells. The Queen of Hell gets a new 7th level necro-spell - that puts a helpful demon/undead spirit into your ally, healing them and keeping them alive...but yeah, it's friggin' possession...and yes, this spell can have some nasty consequences and narrative effects. Bards of the Three can take a new talent that adds an effect when you end a song or fail to sustain it: Either a better critical range, lightning damage or a quartered recovery as a free action. A couple of design-aesthetic points: Quartered recovery is not a particularly elegant mechanic. Expanded crit range is nasty and further adds to 13th Age's massive damage output. Oh, and via feats, you get the improved versions - the three effects don't feel particularly well-balanced among themselves and The Red = healing feels odd to me.


The Wild Queen's sorceror followers can Gather Wild Magic via a new sorceror talent, replacing the basic gather power feature - you roll 1d6 and have one of 3 effects, with each tier getting better and respective feats unlocking more. The defensive gathering here is pretty cool and makes sorcerors be a bit tougher; at the same time, it does not really alleviate the fact that gathering magic still is the default MO of the sorceror, meaning you're only doing cool stuff when not gathering power. My players don't particularly like this mechanic of the sorceror and neither do I. Your mileage may vary, of course.


The pdf closes with some notes on ancient history in a campaign featuring the 7 icons as well as some questions for the respective races and classes. These range from "useful" to "wasted space":


"We haven’t tinkered with the chaos mage mechanics as they’d need to be tinkered with for the 7 Icons campaign, partly because Jonathan wasn’t going to welcome one into the campaign. So the real question here is probably: can you and your GM figure out how to translate the icon-mechanics embedded into the chaos mage into a 7 Icon framework?" - Okay...thanks for nothing, I guess? Some contemplations are valid and useful, but why couldn't the authors be bothered to include suggestions for all? That's kind of what we buy such books for, right?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to 13th Age's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides neat re-shaped icon-symbols for the 7-icon-campaign championed here. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.


The 7-icon scenario is something I very much enjoy and one can see Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet's mastery of their own system here -I like this. After all, from a narrative perspective, this means that each icon (minus orc-lord) becomes more interesting: Has e.g. the Dwarf King gone off the deep end? The icons presented here feel less one-note to me, and this is a good thing. The new crunch ranges from awesome to fluff/crunch-discrepancy - I mean, come on: The Red allows for healing, really? I don't understand the rationale here.


I also really would have loved the new icons to get the full-blown, detailed write-up like in the core book, including "everything's all right..."-sections and the whole shebang - as written, they feel a bit more rudimentary than what they could have been. Which is jarring, since, especially to me, their more diverse focus would have provided ample space to explore shades of gray and uncommon thematic overlaps. All in all, this is a solid addition to the 13th Age Monthly-series, but one that suffers from the brevity of the format. I can't help but feel that better questions at the end, slightly more details for each icon, would have made this pdf truly awesome. As presented, it is a solid choice, but by no means required or for every campaign or even a 7 icons campaign- my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
7 Icon Campaign
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Echo & Gauntlet
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2015 03:09:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of 13th Age Monthly clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, what do we get this time around? Well, it is no secret that demonic corruption spreads like a plague across the Dragon Empire, held in check by the dubious methods of the Crusader - herein, we are introduced to two of his more refined weapons, the first of which is the eponymous Echo: A bleak hellscape of post-apocalyptic ruins, this desolate place allows for the sifting through time, adding a tangible 4th dimensional element to narrative structure, one further developed by inspiring notions - what if the Crusader actually came back in time from the future? Where did the echo originate? Can the PCs perhaps use its power to undo a glaring error in judgment, as PCs are prone to make?


The dimension and its iconic imagery is chock-full of narrative potential that is simply inspiring - after all, we know how the Crusader loves fashioning tools and weapons from foes...so what he can do with the echo...your own fantasy is literally the only limiting factor here, for within the Echo's eternity, the Ebon Gauntlet's members are reforged into something different, something deadly - and thus 5 sample soldiers and adversaries are provided, including nastier specials that deserve the name - including advice on how to use the Ebon gauntlet's dire forces.


Oh, and if that is not enough, additional suggestions regarding the involvement of other icons do add further dimensions to the glorious array of potential shown here - and yes, two brief, fluff-centric adventure-locales are provided as well with the Ebon Citadel and the Bleak Pit - yup, they're as cosy as you'd expect them to be!.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to 13th Age's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides neat artworks in full color. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.


Michael E. Shea and Rob Heinsoo deliver a surprisingly inspired pdf here - yes, this installment may be a bit on the short side of things, but oh boy did I enjoy reading every line of it: The prose is captivating in just the right way, the concepts are fitting and the pdf actually adds a thoroughly unique dimension to the Crusader that makes the very icon infinitely more interesting and compelling - which is quite a feat in my book! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echo & Gauntlet
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Mythic Minis 78: Catfolk, Ratfolk, and Dhampir Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/15/2015 03:06:18

An Endzietgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 4 pages - 1 page front cover, 1.75 pages SRD, 1.25 pages content, let's go!


-Black Cat: Use as a free action instead of an immediate action; Non-mythic attackers receive severe penalties and spend mythic surges to enhance the penalty; use more often via mythic power. Cool upgrade!


-Blood Drinker: +tier temporary hit points; optionally forego benefits for a lesser restoration. Fits. Like it.


-Blood Feaster: Gain listed benefits when draining 2+ points of Con, duration + tier.


-Blood Salvage: Use Blood Drinker on recently deceased corpse.


-Burrowing teeth: Gain burrow speed equal to base speed; leave a tunnel behind when burrowing at half speed; use mythic power to burrow through stone.


-Catfolk Exemplar: Change exemplar ability via mythic power; the more mythic power, the faster. Awesome!


-Claw Pounce: Add secondary rake attack to charge; mythic power for two rakes as secondary or one as primary natural weapon.


-Diverse Palate: Choose additional subtypes that scale with tiers.


-Feline Grace: Numerical escalation to +4; use mythic power as an immediate action to force rerolls of CMB-checks in the relevant maneuvers against you.


-Natural Charmer: Use mythic power to use feat as a standard action; CL versus humanoids by +1 and expend mythic surge to increase save DCs by half surge die, min 1.


-Nimble Striker: +10 ft when charging, running or withdrawing and you're not denied Dex when running or using Acrobatics to balance on narrow/slippery etc. surfaces. You also get +2 to AC versus AoO provoked by your movement when charging/Cleave/Lunge.


Two more feats are on the SRD-page:


-Sharpclaw: Adds rend; For mythic power, you get bleed added to claws, stacking with itself. Neat!


-Tunnel Rat: Count as two sizes smaller for squeezing etc. and can use swarming to share the square of small creatures or allies, even if that ally is not a ratfolk. Allies don't take penalties when you're in their square. Awesome!


Conclusion:


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


Jeff Lee and Jason Nelson deliver a broad selection of mythic feats here that universally belong in the upper echelon; from conservative and none too awesome ones to truly unique benefits, the feats run the gamut from solid to awesome, with a few in either direction. Barring any serious complaints, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 78: Catfolk, Ratfolk, and Dhampir Feats
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Pixies on Parade
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2015 04:06:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This module clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


I playtested this module with my group of kids, which spans the ages 4 - 11 since this is a kid-friendly module and as such needs to be tested regarding its best age-range - the tabs on my homepage contain the suggested range I'd most recommend this for.


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion - you see, no one likes cheaters and you'll just make the module boring for you if you continue reading.


...


..


.


All right, only GMs here? Great! Every year, the town of Glavnost celebrates a festival most peculiar, dressing up with wings and the like to honor the fully statted town's pixie protectors that keep even the most unruly children from being lost in the forest...failing only very rarely. Alas, one particularly stubborn child named Edwin, seeking freedom from his parent's commands and wanting a life of eternal blissful parade with the pixies, slipped through the cracks - and the Nightmare King, a boogeyman got him, halting his aging process and grooming him to become the successor, a son...a new boogeyman.


After a brief introduction of the key-NPCs of Glavnost, the festivities of the town (which comes with a thoroughly gorgeous map that could come straight out of a children's book) are in full-blown preparation - here, the kids have some time to roam, to mingle with the townsfolk and do some research that may hint at the importance of the pixie parade, the nightmare king and the disbelief regarding the existence of gremlins, in spite of the little buggers being made responsible for many a mischief. The prevalence of fey magic allows for a unique gift here: Imagination magic.


With the power of imagination, the kids can subtly alter reality, which also represents e.g. carts coming around in just the right place to catch falling characters and the like - and yes, if the kids are smart, they'll pick up on this and use it to their advantage! Speaking of kid-friendly: A handy little sidebar covers cartoon violence and how to depict it - for while the adults can't see the gremlins sabotaging the town, the kids can - and thus, the first task is basically gremlin extermination, with 3 sample sabotages being provided.


Eventually, the success of the PCs will earn them the attention of fairy godmother Lista, who fills them in on Edwin's fate - which mirrors a playful way to convey stranger danger's importance as well as acknowledging something: That parents don't tell all stories to the children, worrying it might give them bad dreams. This is something that ultimately, instinctively, all children know - and to save Edwin, the fairy bestows 6th level (previously gained XP) on the players, tasking them to redeem Edwin and freeing him from the Nightmare King's influence.


In order to do that, though, they have to brave Edwin's dark dreams - first, defeating his shade in a game of hide and seek and then, braving toy soldier variant wood golems (the battle featuring a GLORIOUS isometric map!) that are moved around via a giant, shadowy hand. Edwin's hound would be the next task - and here, things become interesting: The poor dog, turned hellhound by Edwin's descent into darkness, just wants to play fetch, but the damn sticks keep burning, resulting in angry fire blasts into the woods...which may cause a forest fire! Here, one can teach about being careful with fire...and the encounter rewards kids thinking and providing a stick that doesn't burn...and reduce the dog back to a regular, non-hellhound pup.


On the, again, lavishly mapped isometric map of the path ahead, fairy circle traps and a tooth fairy await and upon vanquishing the fey, the PCs may get a glitterdust-duplicating Baby Tooth of Edwin. There is another encounter next that offers yet another means to educate and slightly shock: Edwin, thinking he can impress the fey with a present, stole his parent's wedding ring - this item became the symbol his remorse, transforming into a now chained golden dragon that needs to be freed, filling in the PCs on Edwin's crime before turning back into the ring, asking them to present it to Edwin.


...and then, the ground shakes...trees start toppling...and a ravaging, massive stuffed bear of colossal proportions breaks through the trees...and yes, this encounter once again is beautifully rendered in isometric maps of stellar quality...and yes, the massive, powerful Terror Bear is a powerful adversary indeed...but vanquishing him provides a return of the creature to Edwin's teddy-bear of old, which may suppress fear effects.


An then, it's time for the final boss fight: Edwin, accompanied by corrupted, color-less pixies, wants to collect all the pixies for his twisted mockery of a parade...but thankfully, the encounters so far have provided all the components the PCs need to save him: Each of his erstwhile fragments of innocence recovered frees a pixie and, together, they may free Edwin, exorcising the influence of the Nightmare King, freeing raw nightmare power - which is a thoroughly awesome climax: The Nightmare Avatar has powerful, unique powers that the kids may know from nightmares: Like being slowed. At the same time, though, they can use their imagination magic to counter his dread powers in an excellent showdown that may end with the PCs reuniting Edwin with his overjoyed parents - happy ends don't happen on their own; one needs to fight for them...and one needs to do the right thing. This morale, unobtrusively conveyed throughout these pages, it what really makes this shine above and beyond.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard by Daniel Marshall and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The copious full-color artworks by Jacob Blackmon are neat indeed. A special shout-out to cartographer Jocelyn Sarvida - the maps of this books are downright BEAUTIFUL, featuring gorgeous renditions of the adversaries, which makes them btw. also suitable handouts. Speaking of which - as the astute reader may have noticed, I did not explicitly state that there'd be 1-page hand-outs of said maps. Well, never fret - as the final piece of awesome, this module does feature a PWYW-map-folio for handouts purposes. Take a look at it if you need any example on how good the maps are...


Stephen Rowe's Pixies on Parade is, in one word, inspired: Mirroring classic tropes of the power of imagination and fairy tales, it never crams morality down the throats of the players, while still teaching what's right and what's wrong. The idea of imagination magic is brilliant as a tool for GMs. Now, as for the themes of the module and its suitability for kids: It's pretty much perfect, mirroring themes of beloved children's tales and not shirking away from important topics, all presented in a child-friendly manner. I can see some very young kids that are particularly sensitive considering the themes a bit frightening, but in my case, the 4-year old enjoyed the module, surprisingly, more than "A Friend in Need," despite being frightened a bit - that depends on the kid in question, though and requires the discretion of the parents. Personally, I would have loved this module as a 4-year old, having always had a penchant for slightly more mature stories, even as a kid...and yes, I learned to read at a very young age to read some fairy-tales my parents considered inappropriate...which became my favorites. It is my firm belief that kids can benefit from topics that are not all sunshine and flowers, particularly if they feature a didactic and moral component.


As a reviewer, I think the target age-range for most kids will span the ages of 6+ - and yes, I did not include a limit for a reason. Why? Because this module not only is great for kids. It's just as awesome for adults: Seriously, just tweak the fluff a bit and make it darker and you have a GLORIOUS fairy-tale themed introductory module that makes for a great starting point of PC careers as a prologue: Just let the level 6-blessing revert after the module and skip to adulthood - where you can also add elements appropriate for the process of growing up and paint a bleaker picture.


Pixies on Parade is a downright awesome: From the gorgeous maps to the blending of sandboxing in the beginning and a more linear heroes' journey, this book's themes are concise...and there is not a single boring encounter in this book, not a single uninspired critter or problematic scene, nothing I could complain about. In one sentence: This is a must-have, perfect module for kids, a great module for adults and a book that should be considered simply inspired in all the right ways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval..and considering the perfection, the fact that it transcends the intended target demographic and the map-folio, I will also award this the status as a nominee for my top ten of 2015.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pixies on Parade
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Gossamer Options: Characters (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2015 04:05:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This MASSIVE book for Lords of Gossamer and Shadows clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a colossal 69 pages of content, so let's take a look!


What began as a reverse design based on the art that was available via the deck funded via LoGaS' KS soon became this massive book - and oh boy. But let me begin differently: What's the one thing you need to crunch in LoGaS, the one thing that takes time out of your GM's day that does not pertain weaving the most awesome stories you can conceive? Yes, that would be statblocks for NPCs. While significantly simpler than in PFRPG (or 13th Age if you want to run NPCs with PC-rules against them as opposed to monster statblocks...), LoGaS still requires some work - well, this book takes that work from your shoulders and provided a 100-point, 200-point and 300-point iteration for each and every character featured within - of whom there are, just fyi,30.


Yes, 30. And know what? They deserve being called characters regarding their general concepts. The very first one is a self-aware harvest robot (KKND 2, anyone?) and, from strange nomads of the stairs to characters born to inhuman trysts or characters made into the ultimate weapon of destruction, with an all-consuming rage within. What about nigh perfect hunters, strange dragon riders or strange creatures sprung from worlds of pure magic, where constant forms constantly disintegrate and re-assemble? Perhaps an intelligence agent, fiercely loyal to her world-spanning empire, would be more to your liking?


Perhaps your PCs need help - then introduce them to Seleca Crane, righteous slayer of gods or the mysterious Swan Queen or perhaps a former black ops operative from earth? Or another one, a circus artist stranded on the Grand Stairs? What I'm trying to get at with this enumeration is that the concepts covered are pretty broad. At the same time, though, they do sport imho two relatively unpleasant tendencies: For one, their fluff-angles, usually something I absolutely adore in LoGaS-supplements, are simply not that awesome - the prose is nice, sure, but it falls way flat of e.g. Matt Banach's penmanship. Secondly, the builds themselves feel less imaginative and even a bit restricted - to me, the beauty of LoGaS lies within the fluidity of the concepts, particularly Umbra and Eidolon - there is a lot they can be, not much that they have to be. The characters herein feature, implicitly and explicitly, a more monolithic vision of both concepts, which, while certainly not reduced to a basic good/evil-dichotomy, falls short of the true draw of the very fundamentals existing in LoGaS.


Thirdly, the builds themselves and the way their points are used may be relatively diverse...but more often than not, they boil down to "I have awesome weapons, armor, etc." - which would not be as big an issue, had the Gossamer Worlds series not demonstrated with superb panache what kind of awesome things you can actually do here.


There are a lot of NPCs in here, spanning a wide diversity of occupations and ideologies. Better yet, the pdf provides ample advice on how to make compelling NPCs for LoGaS yourself - step by step, point by point, from concept to execution - which is a section new GMs in particular will certainly appreciate.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good - though I noticed some grammatical/punctuation issues here- more than what I've come to expect from Rite Publishing. Layout adheres to LoGaS two-column full-color standard with one neat full color artwork per character provided. These are awesome, though some of them are slightly pixelated. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Author Mark Knights, with development from Christopher Kindred and Steven D. Russell, provides an interesting collection of NPCs in this massive book, one which, while falling short of LoGaS massive potential, still can be considered to be a worthwhile look. After all, this is "Pay what you want" - you can literally get this, digest it and then pay what you think it's worth.


And personally, the statblocks of the ample characters alone and the time they spare me do warrant downloading this alone, even though I probably won't use them as written - the respective concepts do not resonate with me as strongly as those depicted time and again in e.g. the Gossamer Worlds or Threats-series.


This is still me complaining at a high level, though: The concepts of the respective NPCs herein are imaginative enough to jumpstart the imagination. The very hard to beat price point is what ultimately makes me look past the rough edges and minor flaws this exhibits. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform due to its PWYW-status.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Options: Characters (Diceless)
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Gossamer Options: Characters (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/14/2015 04:05:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This MASSIVE book for Lords of Gossamer and Shadows clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a colossal 69 pages of content, so let's take a look!


What began as a reverse design based on the art that was available via the deck funded via LoGaS' KS soon became this massive book - and oh boy. But let me begin differently: What's the one thing you need to crunch in LoGaS, the one thing that takes time out of your GM's day that does not pertain weaving the most awesome stories you can conceive? Yes, that would be statblocks for NPCs. While significantly simpler than in PFRPG (or 13th Age if you want to run NPCs with PC-rules against them as opposed to monster statblocks...), LoGaS still requires some work - well, this book takes that work from your shoulders and provided a 100-point, 200-point and 300-point iteration for each and every character featured within - of whom there are, just fyi,30.


Yes, 30. And know what? They deserve being called characters regarding their general concepts. The very first one is a self-aware harvest robot (KKND 2, anyone?) and, from strange nomads of the stairs to characters born to inhuman trysts or characters made into the ultimate weapon of destruction, with an all-consuming rage within. What about nigh perfect hunters, strange dragon riders or strange creatures sprung from worlds of pure magic, where constant forms constantly disintegrate and re-assemble? Perhaps an intelligence agent, fiercely loyal to her world-spanning empire, would be more to your liking?


Perhaps your PCs need help - then introduce them to Seleca Crane, righteous slayer of gods or the mysterious Swan Queen or perhaps a former black ops operative from earth? Or another one, a circus artist stranded on the Grand Stairs? What I'm trying to get at with this enumeration is that the concepts covered are pretty broad. At the same time, though, they do sport imho two relatively unpleasant tendencies: For one, their fluff-angles, usually something I absolutely adore in LoGaS-supplements, are simply not that awesome - the prose is nice, sure, but it falls way flat of e.g. Matt Banach's penmanship. Secondly, the builds themselves feel less imaginative and even a bit restricted - to me, the beauty of LoGaS lies within the fluidity of the concepts, particularly Umbra and Eidolon - there is a lot they can be, not much that they have to be. The characters herein feature, implicitly and explicitly, a more monolithic vision of both concepts, which, while certainly not reduced to a basic good/evil-dichotomy, falls short of the true draw of the very fundamentals existing in LoGaS.


Thirdly, the builds themselves and the way their points are used may be relatively diverse...but more often than not, they boil down to "I have awesome weapons, armor, etc." - which would not be as big an issue, had the Gossamer Worlds series not demonstrated with superb panache what kind of awesome things you can actually do here.


There are a lot of NPCs in here, spanning a wide diversity of occupations and ideologies. Better yet, the pdf provides ample advice on how to make compelling NPCs for LoGaS yourself - step by step, point by point, from concept to execution - which is a section new GMs in particular will certainly appreciate.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good - though I noticed some grammatical/punctuation issues here- more than what I've come to expect from Rite Publishing. Layout adheres to LoGaS two-column full-color standard with one neat full color artwork per character provided. These are awesome, though some of them are slightly pixelated. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Author Mark Knights, with development from Christopher Kindred and Steven D. Russell, provides an interesting collection of NPCs in this massive book, one which, while falling short of LoGaS massive potential, still can be considered to be a worthwhile look. After all, this is "Pay what you want" - you can literally get this, digest it and then pay what you think it's worth.


And personally, the statblocks of the ample characters alone and the time they spare me do warrant downloading this alone, even though I probably won't use them as written - the respective concepts do not resonate with me as strongly as those depicted time and again in e.g. the Gossamer Worlds or Threats-series.


This is still me complaining at a high level, though: The concepts of the respective NPCs herein are imaginative enough to jumpstart the imagination. The very hard to beat price point is what ultimately makes me look past the rough edges and minor flaws this exhibits. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform due to its PWYW-status.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Options: Characters (Diceless)
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Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist's Laboratory
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2015 04:15:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


What is this series? Well, in a nutshell, Alternate Dungeons is a series of brief, flexible pdfs that allow you to reskin dungeons to sport unique themes, supplemented by both fluff and crunch: Crawling through a fey-ish forest (with open skies) or exploring other exotic locales allows for a more diverse and rewarding experience and these handy helpers supplement the GM in the endeavor to spice up his/her campaign with such options.


As always, we begin the pdf with peculiarities of the respective dungeon to consider - this time providing the potentially lethal, healing-impeding alchemical waste (awesome and SO going to use the hell out of this scaling hazard for my games!) and both heat sources and ventilation as well as maintenance are covered - absolutely awesome section here!


Conversely, from airflow to contaminants up to corrosive compounds and yes, explosives and mutagens, the hazards provided are extensive and mechanically diverse and awesome and the same level of detail is provided in the great sacking the dungeon section, which covers plundering the place for documents and precious metals. Of course, such a place is defined in no small part via the dressing provided and the table that covers it does sport unique things galore: Furnaces with slots and trays, coils of hair hanging from the ceiling and electricity arcs cover both the wondrous basics and here and there even add small pieces of crunch to the fray.


At the same time, the pdf does, in one instance, fall a bit short of this level of awesomeness, namely with the sample denizen/suggested creature section that is pretty uninteresting and universally the default you'd expect to see. Where the pdf once again comes into its own is, obviously, with the trap-section: From classic traps and hazards to asbestos dust, invasive tumors or Midas touch-style Golden Touch-afflictions or dweomersinks and arcane reactions, this once again elevates this one to the highest echelons. Better yet, the 3 sample adventure hooks provided are truly creative and ooze style and flair, ending the book on a high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions: One intended for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos!


Nicholas Wasko delivers perhaps the very best Alternate Dungeon so far: With ample of creative hazards and challenges, unique afflictions and downright inspired dressing, this is, to me, the best installment of the series so far: It oozes style, sports a ton of awesome scavenging potential (particularly for the brevity and low price!) and made me immediately come up with multiple modules - which is the sign of a great resource of this type. In fact, were it not for the less inspired array of sample creatures suggested, I'd have awarded this status as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015; instead, I'll "only" award this well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval as well as my personal recommendation to get this gem ASAP - whether you're going for scifantasy, steampunk or old-school alchemy, this one WILL deliver and enhance your game!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist's Laboratory
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10 Kingdom Seeds: Forests (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2015 04:13:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review


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


So what are these kingdom seeds? Basically, you can consider them to be mini village-backdrops - each of the villages comes with a full village statblock as well as information on unique places associated with the village as well as three rumors that can be considered to be micro adventure seeds. The villages are intended to be inserted into a given kingdom (or any other campaign) - thus the name of the pdf.


What makes the villages unique? Well, they exhibit Rite Publishing's interesting, trademark high-concept ideas: The village of Butteroak, for example, is protected by a double palisade between which assassin vines are planted to keep out the dread predators outside - oh, and if you're caught breaking the law, you get a dagger, are stripped down and have to run around the village...if you're not eaten by the vines, you get to leave...chilling combination of might makes right and pragmatism here.


More common, Calddell is defined by its bowyers, while Eristan is known for their syrupy birch beer and Fayebridge, set in a caldera, utilizes its ample bees to defend the town and keep the massive copses of fruit trees fertilized. Garrant is a nasty place, but one defined by unique copper jewelry made with the help of odd leaves, while Maplelea is defined by the less sinister eponymous maple produce. Mournesse may be snowed in half the year, but is a village of survivors that live via lumber and skins. Nulukkhir, a primarily dwarven and gnomish hamlet, is defined by its half-over-grown houses and pig-farms. Soulmerrow, an elven hamlet defined by the massive cinnamon trees, is similarly an interesting place and finally, Whitespell, is a place where charcoral is made by a kind and welcoming populace.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity - nice! The pdf also sports nice full-color art.


Liz Smith delivers a per se cool array of brief village-write-ups, with the respective industries and raisons d'être providing enough variation to make this a compelling buy for the low price-point. At the same time, I found myself wishing that there was a little bit more detail and more material that reaches the level of uniqueness of Butteroak's assassin vine palisade - compared to that one, the other hamlets featured fall a bit short. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
10 Kingdom Seeds: Forests (PFRPG)
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Mythic Minis 77: Underdark Racial Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/11/2015 04:12:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review


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


-Drow Nobility: Numerical escalation and additional uses via mythic power- standard.


-Giant Steps: Add tier times 5 ft to the increase in base speed...which may be a bit much.


-Improved Drow Nobility: Choose 1/2 tier racial SPs and use mythic versions of them via mythic power; also learn those as mythic spells, if you can cast them.


-Greater Drow Nobility: 3/day use mythic SP sans paying mythic power and sans augments.


-Lingering Invisibility: Longer concealment after invisibility; while it's maintained, use mythic power allowing for reactivation of previously unused invisibility.


-Nobel Spell Resistance: Numerical escalation of social bonuses and SR.


-Shadow Caster: Numerical escalation for shadow-subschool spells and DCs to dispel them; + full tier level for mythic power; higher CL for purposes of checking for darkness-suppression. "Darkness" should probably be italicized - it looks like it specifically refers to the spell.


-Spider Step: Freedom of movement through webs and climb on them at climb speed; power spider climb uses via mythic power.


-Spider Summoner: Spiders summoned are mythic and gain DR/epic equal to tier and icnrease poison saves. Spend mythic power to add the savage mythic template. Nice one!


-Stoic Pose: Use it sans spending 5 rounds finding a suitable location while in rocky/underground terrain; at higher tiers, you also gain mythic power based spell-duplications as supernatural effects. Nice one!


-Umbral Scion: Select SPs from a brief list; additional uses via mythic power.


Conclusion:


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


Jeff Lee, Jonathan H. Keith and Jason Nelson's underdark racial feats are pretty nice, though they do not reach the creativity and diversity of e.g. the installment on orcs, probably also due to the base feats in question - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for a good, in not exceptional, mythic mini.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 77: Underdark Racial Feats
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Kroma Draconics
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2015 03:55:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of 13th Age Monthly clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


All right, so, personal antipathy aside, there seem to be a lot of players who enjoy playing dragon-people and the variant race introduced back in the day, so here, we actually get chromatic draconics fully depicted - though their moniker, "kroma", obvious is shorter...and hence the one most widely used. The cool thing in this installment of 13th Age Monthly, at least as far as I'm concerned, is that the race now is no afterthought-option anymore: With evocative 13 things that might be true about them as well as information on inner-racial nomenclature, 5 origin myths (and some advice on weaving them together) as well as some ideas regarding icon influence, kroma draconics end of feel much more rounded, much more organic that before - and that is great in my book.


In fact, against my own personal bias against the very notion of draconics, I found myself rather impressed by the campaign seed that essentially suggests a Koru-behemoth-based draconic state - kudos!


The additional feat options herein allow for either better breath weapon-progression and limited flight based on the battle and, at champion-tier, the escalation die - pretty interesting means of not allowing for low-level reliable flying, particularly considering that flight eliminates your breath weapon racial power. Tying breath weapon and rage together for barbarians is an interesting combo, while fighter may go for the 1st level tail whip or the 7th level gathering breath maneuver - both of which are solid. A new sorceror talent ties re-use of breath weapon spells to the breath weapon power's recharge - so yes, some nice, thematically-fitting options here.


The book, beyond this, also features one draconic monster-stat per color, running the gamut from 3rd level archer to 7th level wrecker, including two universal draconic nastier specials - providing a well-rounded array of adversaries, all with unique tricks.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to 13th Age's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides neat artworks in full color. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.


Cal Moore and Rob Heinsoo deliver herein. I just can't deny it. I've never made a secret about me not liking most representations of dragon-like humanoids and their impact on the world, with the notable exception of the Mharoti empire in Kobold Press' Midgard. Apart from that, they always felt wrong and kind of lackluster to me. I really dislike the notion and am not a fan of the very concept. Know what? This pdf is still great. I tried hard to swallow my dislike for the subject matter and ended up not having to do so: What we have here is an inspired little ecology that also doubles as a nice expansion for players. I did not expect to find anything I'd like as a person herein and found aplenty - and if that is not testament to being a worthy addition, what is? My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kroma Draconics
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Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2015 03:52:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second pdf containing meditation feats clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf as the last installment, with a recap/reprint of the base meditation feats the feats herein are based on - the pdf thus is pretty considerate and user-friendly. The feats herein are grouped in two general fluff-classes: Yin and Yang. Unless otherwise noted, the benefits only apply when under the effects of a meditation. Let's begin with the Yang-feats.


-Enter the Zone: Roll crit damage twice and take the better result, does not extend to sneak attack et al. Nice one.


-Flow Like Water: Switch between starting stances and style feats as a swift action at any point. Interesting one that dives into the grit of the rules.


-Identify Imperfection: +1 per meditation feat to identify monsters. Weak and pretty lame.


-Mind's Eyesight: Meditate as a full-round action to gain character level rounds the ability to see auras and, with time and practice (odd wording choice) can use thus aura sight and detect magic as SPs. The wording of the last sentence here is a bit redundant and wonky.


-Reckless Clarity: Combines moment of clarity-fueled rage powers and meditations. Interesting one!


-Regurgitate Poison: Ingest poison, delay its onset and spit it at a target within 15ft via a ranged touch attack. I assume that this renders ingested/injury-based poisons contact poisons for the purpose of the spit attack; though the wording is pretty precise, specifying that would have made it better still.


-Self-Reflection: 50% to determine weal or woe, with longer meditation increasing chance of successful outcome by 5% per minute. Solid, but I wouldn't spend a feat on this.


-Tummo: Ignore temperatures of up to -50° F sans having to make Fort-saves; also, meditating generates heat and may melt snow around you, drying you and your belongings. Really like this one!


The Yin-group sports 2 feats:
-Dim Step: Dimension Door between dim lights of up to your base speed. Per se cool, but odd: The spell requires a standard action to cast, while the feat does not have an activation action. The line stating the possibility of multiple jumps implies that you can jump multiple times. I assume that the jumps can be made as part of a movement, but I am not sure - a slight clarification for this per se great feat would be appreciated.


-Shadow Reflection: This one is awesome: You create an illusory double and determine a course for it - the double runs from you, following your preset course. For one ki, you can reactivate this distraction-granting feat after the initial activation. Damn cool, but it should imho specify the illusion subtype (pattern, figment?) and the initial meditation is pretty long - 1 minute, meaning that you'll mainly use this feat via ki.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good - while the rules-language does sport some minor rough edges, over all, you get the intent of the feats herein. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Greg LaRose's second array of meditation feats is better than the first one: While there still are minor deviations from rules-language here and there and while some feats could use a bit of clarifications, this mops the floor with its predecessor mainly due to the fact that the benefits granted herein feel more versatile, more visually interesting and ultimately, more unique. The pdf also sports less potential problem-sources than the previous pdf.


Generally, I liked this little, inexpensive pdf and considering the difficulty of the base material and concepts attempted, this does get a bit of leeway. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I'll round up this time around. For the low asking price, this is worth checking out if you like the concepts.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
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Legendary Paladins
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 04:55:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first of Legendary Games' class-support-centric entries in the Ultimate Plug-ins series clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf, surprisingly, not with feats or the like - instead, we get alternate class features for the paladin: Repel Evil, a replacement of smite evil, allows you to protect nearby allies by granting immediate action-activated Cha-mod to AC and saves to both pala and ally, decreasing damage taken from such foes by the pala's class level. +1/use per day every 3 levels beyond the first. Brilliant ability to represent a mechanically valid bodyguard/protector of the innocent knight - kudos!


For more offensively-minded paladins, there would also be a rather intriguing class feature: Scourges. Not merely a mirror like the antipaladin's cruelties, these constitute offensive replacements of the mercies the paladin usually receives, including providing temporary boosts to weapons, protecting allies in combat and the like. All in all, this option provides a more than well-crafted alternative to mercies that significantly enhances the appeal and versatility of the paladin class for me - and yes, the wording and balance of the abilities is sound enough for me not to waste any more breath beyond "Excellent!" on the option.


As, historically, the archetypical embodiment of Christianity's virtues it should also come as no surprise that the class options provided cover ecclesiastical vows: Basically, instead of tying monk vows to ki, we instead have an association, we have the abilities tied to lay on hands uses, with modified (thankfully) vows of poverty austerity and charity as samples. Again, this is a thematically-fitting addition to the subject matter at hand.


The pdf then goes on to introduce the 10-level Paraclete PrC, which gets d10, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, a limited array of paladin spells and 1/2 Fort-save progression. The Paraclete is intended to be open to non-paladins as well and can be best envisioned as a defensive martial character that gains some paladin-like abilities. The intriguing thing here, beyond the PrCs obvious feasibility, being that the class manages to properly depict a defensive fighter, something PFRPG is not particularly adept at - from significantly increased, scaling AoOs to better attack-interception (including retributive attacks) to delayed negative condition onset, a celestial familiar to the impressive capstone (which nets multiple immediate actions for purposes of In Harm's Way), the PrC is well-crafted and sports a code AND notes on paladin-interaction - kudos for this well-crafted PrC!


Now obviously, such a book in Pathfinder does need archetypes and indeed, there are more than a few within these pages, the first of which would be the Bloodrager Angel of Wrath. Yes, there are non-paladin archetypes herein, with the angel of wrath gaining Cha-mod to saves, but only versus evil creatures and spells/effects. Conversely, the archetype receives auras while raging that scale with your level. The class also gets smite evil at -4 levels, fueled by bloodrager rage rounds. All in all, a solid blend of paladin and bloodrager. The second non-pala-class herein that gets an archetype would be the Magus, who can now opt to become a Spell Saint, who retains the magus-spell-list, but adds healing and some stars from the paladin's (and cleric's) spell-list to the fray: While I am usually not a fan of other classes getting e.g. bless weapon or holy sword, but at least the latter is moved to 5th level. Still, the spells gained are VERY potent. The Spell Saint also receives lay on hands and mercies (at level -2) as arcana - and here, I'm a bit weary. You see, the two levels alone are nothing bad, neither are the spells and the presentation and interaction of lay on hands and the like is impressive; at the same time, the spell saint does not pay for any of these bonuses; there is no drawback to this archetype, nothing exchanged. Sure, the pala-tricks are predicated on the same resource as the regular magus tricks, but it is my firm conviction that the magus should pay for the potent pala-spells gained; particularly bless weapon and a high-crit magus build are nightmare-fuel. I consider this archetype relatively OP due to the lack of trade-off.


Obviously, most archetypes herein are about the paladin, the first of which would be the Auroran, who has light-based spells added to his spell-list, gets scaling SR instead of divine grace, may read the night sky for omen and portents as well as a scaling incorporeal form of light instead of aura of righteousness. Solid archetype. The Celestial Centurion is more interesting - instead of smite evil, he can grant allies scaling bonuses (based on level, capping at Cha-mod) and even change the bonuses granted on the fly and yes, granting teamwork feats is part of the deal, with higher levels allowing for either extended range or multiple mantles in effect. Sharing the (weaker version - nice balancing there) celestial bond, rallying troops and the banner ability complement a well-crafted archetype that may conjure forth the forces of heaven at high levels - a great commander archetype. On the more down-to-earth side of things, the Cottager would be the humble, unpretentious philanthropist. Not only can he create an aura of sanctuary/shield of faith, he also receives the option to making a healing stew that takes a bit, but heals more...and nourishes the targets. Reinforcing structures and mass lay on hands at high levels make these guys suitable for grittier games as well - kudos!


Balancing is also solid here, with channel energy being lost. One nitpick: The pdf does not specify whether the stew can be combined with mercies or not. I assume so, since it is an extension of the lay on hands ability, but clarification would still be appreciated.


The Dragon Knight is not something that particularly excites me personally - basically, you are only half as effective when smiting/lay on hands on non-dragons and replace divine health and mercies with scaling energy resistance. Beyond that, channel energy is given up for a kind of breath weapon powered by lay on hands. At mid to higher levels, the archetype gets a draconic companion and becomes exceedingly lethal while riding said beast. I'm not sold on the concept and am not too blown away by the abilities - mechanically solid, but by the numbers. Also: The archetype suffers from the nemesis-syndrome: Classes geared too much towards a creature type end up either very strong in a campaign or pretty weak, depending on the frequency of, this time, dragons.


The Heavenly Hunter once again is intriguing: The archetype can track teleports from the get-go and counter attempts to escape his wrath via magic: A very function-centric archetype, but one I enjoy - particularly in campaigns with a relatively high amount of magic, this one is awesome...oh and 11th level grants allies the ability to smite evil outsiders when the hunter expends a smite evil for this purpose...ouch!


The Holy Questioner replaces smite evil with judgments and can offensively channel energy against foes of her faith. Additionally, high levels allow for melee rerolls instead of aura of faith - nice inquisitor/paladin combo-archetype. The Verdant Knight receives modified mercy-lists/progressions, favored terrain (instead of divine health) and, at 5th level, a jungle-appropriate mount: Water buffalo, lion or styracosaurus and, as a capstone Fire resistance 20 and constant endure elements. Yes, this one is concept-wise awesome, though I wished it did slightly more with its cool premise - the abilities themselves are simply less compelling than the cool concept deserves. The final archetype would be the winter knight, who also gets favored terrain - but, more importantly, he gets blazing strike, which is a fire-themed smite-like enhancer that ignores all immunity and resistance, while also shielding against the cold. On the nipicky side, the mount-section has a problematic candidate: The winter wolf. Not only is it arguably better than the other mount options, winter wolves are intelligent...and EVIL. The capstone is a mirror of the verdant knight's one.


Beyond these archetypes, we are introduced to new spells next, with angelic steeds, teamwork feat sharing with divine bond granted companions (and a somewhat confused rules language here: "When you call your bonded creature with your divine class feature, you can cast this spell and select any one teamwork feat for which you qualify." - that should be "divine bond class feature", right?)and options to save allies at the cost of your own HP, the section is generally nice. Now personally, I dislike a spell that renders a weapon cold iron - I get the intent, but since the vulnerability towards iron stems from the anti-magic-superstition associated with it, I do cringe a bit there - though that's just me and will not feature in the final verdict. I do like the option to deal more damage at the cost of half damage to yourself. Flavor-wise, I think that causing foes to attack their allies via Sinful Suspicion should only be an inquisitor spell - while the chances are lower that non-evil characters become collateral damage to this spell's effects, it remains a possibility, which renders the spell, fluff-wise, better at home with only the inquisitor and not the paladin. Again, this is a personal opinion and will not influence the rating. Tireless Vigil, though, can be rather problematic - while tying the creature benefitting from it to a spot, its immunity to fatigue and sleep seems too much for a first level spell, even though the target becomes exhausted after the 8-hour duration. On the other side, this spell allows for some rather awesome visuals...so yeah...it gets a pass. Overall, a solid section.


The pdf closes with new paladin magic items, spanning the values 4,400 GP to 114,375 GP - and they generally are interesting: The armor of life e.g. can be infused via channel energy to offer retributive damage versus undead foolish enough to attack the wearer. The Shield of Intercession allows paladins to protect allies. I also particularly enjoyed the non-sword "holy X" items that range from warhammers to lances and adheres to enchantments similarly iconic as the holy avenger - kudos here for weapon diversification: E.g. the holy dragonslayer-lance and its exceedingly high resistance versus draconic attempts to destroy it can be considered a neat representation of the concept! Manalces that silence the wearers also should be considered interesting, particularly when escorting that nasty demonologist to his due judgment... The saddle of shared smiting, though, may be a bit too much: Beyond making natural weapons of the mount good, sharing smite with the mount can be exceedingly devastating, particularly with mounts that sport enough natural attacks.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, i noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with some nice artworks, though fans of Legendary Games may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Legendary Paladins is a good book. budoom-dish Yeah, I know, that one was bad. Sorry, I'll put on those muting manacles later. ;) Kidding aside, I was positively surprised by quite a few of the pieces of content in Jason Nelson adn Amber Scott's book - particularly most of the magic items and, surprisingly, the alternate class options and the PrC definitely are highlights for this book and justify its asking price. Now personally, I wasn't that blown away by most archetypes herein, but, again, the minor problems some have are offset by the e.g. the great Celestial Centurion archetype. Rules-language is generally VERY precise, as we've come to expect from legendary Games, and manages to convey complex concepts in a concise manner, though there are slightly more minor hiccups here than in most of LG's offerings. All in all, this book remains a good buy, with some brilliant pieces that shine, like the paladins that take them, brighter than some of its other components. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Paladins
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Priest Base Class
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 04:48:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The freshman offering by Flaming Crab Games clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The priest base class gets d6, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves as well as proficiency with club, dagger, light mace, quarterstaff and stake. The priest does not get armor or shield proficiency. Off here: the priest loses spellcasting while wearing armor or shields - no increased spell failure or the like - just strap a padded armor on those hostile priests and boom: Impotent priests. Not a fan of this design decision.


Like a cleric, the priest receives an Aura (but has the (ex) not properly bolded in a minor formatting glitch) and gets Wis-based prepared spellcasting and channel energy progression like a cleric - which brings me to one point: This is an alternate class and should be designated as such to prevent multiclassing with the cleric...but I digress.


What you'll ask by now, you'll note that there needs to be something to offset the lack of martial potency the priest exhibits in comparison to the cleric. This would be the selection of a dogma: These can generally be considered to be the replacements for the respective domains and alignment-specific constraints regarding spells etc. still retain in effect. The dogmas have the same name of the domains, conveniently, and thus provide all necessary means of adapting new content to the class, which is neat indeed. Dogmas also sport dogma powers, which unless otherwise noted, are initiated as a standard action.


2nd level adds half class level to Knowledge (Arcana), (Religion), one Knowledge of the priest's choice and Linguistics and may make such checks untrained. 2nd level grants two secondary dogmas and 4th level unlocks these second dogma's powers, while the capstone makes the dogma-selection flexible on a daily basis...which is kind of lame, considering the limited array of dogmas each deity offers. The important change, though, does lie in the spontaneous conversion ability of the priest - you see, the class can spontaneously convert spells prepared into the dogma's respective granted bonus spells, providing superior spell flexibility over the regular cleric's selection - one btw. further enhanced by a wide array of subdogmas associated basically with the cleric's respective subdomain choices and yes, the dogmas sport the respective powers you'd assume.


Now, while quite a few of these dogmas are truly intriguing, at the same time, I do feel like they are not close to being universally well-balanced. You see, the basic premise of the priest is that it feels more wizard-y and thus is more spell-centric than the more martial bent of the cleric and in this regard, the class does succeed at its goal. In the fine-tuning of the class, however, some serious playtesting wouldn't have hurt the priest. The dogmas do not sport the cleric's usual spell-list, with Destruction providing fireball at 4th level and lightning bolt at 3rd level - okay, right? Well...it kind of isn't nice once you start thinking about it. The one defining weakness of the wizard and the only thing that renders the sorceror even halfway valid, is the lack of flexibility and requirement for the preparation in advance. Secondly, the cleric and druid get instant access to all divine spells and so does the priest, meaning that the relative, slightly decreased usefulness of these spells versus the superb sorc/wiz-list is offset by mere availability. Now dogmas do poach excessively among better spell-lists, so that's one component that offsets the loss of martial prowess, so far, so good. However, things get kind of ugly once you realize that you have 3 dogmas for spontaneous conversion, with some allowing you to maintain the power output of a sorceror or wizard that only specializes in a given field, while also retaining superb flexibility. The problem is evident: While high-powered campaigns may shrug this issue off, more conservatively balanced groups will not appreciate this; it's, ultimately, a balance-concern here that surpasses the payoff of the decreased martial prowess, though not in a way that necessarily renders it broken - only potentially problematic.


The pdf also comes with a broad selection of archetypes for the priest class, all of which can be considered to be among the small, function-driven type. The Fanatic replaces channel energy with scaling columns of 10-ft divine, untyped power, which is pretty nasty, as it is not subject to any means of prevention. Heretics may choose a dogma (not a subdogma) from another deity, but loses one dogma power from among her dogmas, exacerbating the above-mentioned flexibility issue, but also providing a lot of roleplaying potential in-game. The Hospitaler is the dedicated healer priest, locked into healing channels and the dogma, but also gets mercy-like anti-condition benefits to add to her channels, which is pretty powerful, but okay. The Kahuna replaces two dogmas with nature bond and the class also gets a witch hex at first level, +1 at 2nd and every even level thereafter - which is much too strong, considering the power of hexes. Worse, at 10th level, the archetype allows for the selection of a grand hex WHENEVER SHE GAINS A NEW HEX. Grand Hex. You know, the stuff witches get at 18th level...äh...lol? I do believe this ought to be major hexes, NOT grand hexes...


The very unfortunately-named Necromancer-archetype loses one secondary dogma, but obviously gets some undead-control tricks and automatically empowers all spells, spell-like abilities, etc. used to heal undead...which is nasty indeed and should probably have a daily cap. Philosophers may freely replace all dogma spells of a dogma with any spells from the sorc/wiz or cleric list and treat them as dogma spells instead, but at +1 level. This allows you to cherry pick spells. Extremely powerful...and problematic. The Sage uses Int instead of Wis and gets the benefits for skills. Additionally, instead of secondary dogma, the archetype gets one spell of the sorc/wiz-list at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, again, cherry-picking spells, but at least at the cost of most of dogma's flexibility.


The undivided priest cannot select a subdogma for her primary dogma, but gains an increased caster level or two of her primary dogma's subdogma's powers as well as adding subdogma spells to the spells known - basically, we have a variation of the flexibility the base class provides here, with a focus on subdogma spells, with the issues from the base class basically still existing in variations. Wanderers replace the primary dogmas with animal companions and they also may add spells from the druid spell list (1 at 2nd level, +1 every even level) to their arsenal in lieu of druid levels while also receiving gaining associated skill benefits. 6th level is a bit problematic, with a level 1 druid spell with a duration longer than instantaneous with a range of creature touched/personal becoming a supernatural ability on a permanent basis - while this can be problematic, the replacement for channel energy makes this still valid - in fact, this archetype is better balanced than the base class. Zealots get +1 primary dogma, but may not cast any spells not on the dogma lists - again, taking care of the balance-ramifications, though in this case, the nerf may be a bit too pronounced. The pdf closes with 4 feats: 2 uses of Channel energy for an empowered version; one feat to increase die-size of channel by one step, one feat that renders the sage's divine arcana a full-blown wildcard spell (BROKEN) and one that lets you expend 3 channels for a maximized channel - which is better than 4WFG's version of the feat with its flat 3/day limit sans taxing the resource itself.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a GORGEOUS artwork for the class - kudos to the artist! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and also sports hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com's shop - the good ones, mind you. Finally, the book comes with a lite-version that is more tablet-friendly and also one with hidden hyperlinks - kudos there again!


Alex Abel and his Flaming Cab Games' freshman offering, the Priest, is certainly an interesting class that very much feels like an alternate class and should be declared as such; The priest does not stun you with mechanical innovation or the like, but the way in which it codifies a vast amount of dogmas and the like is an impressive feat in itself.


At the same time, this pdf does show less refinement than later Flaming Crab Games pdfs in both rules-language and the precise components of the respective rules - the value of spontaneous conversion, for example, is grossly underestimated by the class's balancing and generally, I would have really enjoyed more unique tricks - as presented, this pretty much can be considered a more wizard-like alternate class of the cleric that may work fine at some tables and break the game for more gritty/optimization-centric tables.


By no means bad, this still remains a flawed, though not terribly so, class that can easily work with some agreement between players and GMs at a given table. On the formal side, I wish this ironed out the glitches that haunt it and took the balance between dogmas and values of its benefits a bit more serious...and had a better armor-rule, which is pretty nasty. In the end, this is an okay freshman offering for the company that can still work for some tables- hence, I will rate this 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to this being a freshman offering.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Priest Base Class
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