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Beasts of Legend: Beasts of the East
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/11/2016 02:41:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This bestiary by Legendary Games/Jade Regent-plug-in clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!


So, what do we get herein? The oomphteenth version of the Yuki-no-onna? Nope, this is a bestiary of Legendary Games, after all. In an interesting take on the concept of monsters, this supplement begins by talking a bit about the real-world inspirations of some of these creatures...and guess what? They are more often than not new to me.


Take the naga on the cover - inspired by snakes in the Mekong river, these CR 5 nagas get fire resistance, fast swimming and an array of spells - which, strangely, feature several "3/4"s before spell names in an uncommon formatting glitch that extends to other creatures. The naga's poison causes fire damage, which is an interesting twist, but overall, I wasn't too blown away by this one. Next up is the CR 8 Neak Ta Kami - an innocuous piece of wood with a painted face on some bricks with twigs. Cute, small...and will mess you up if you: With superb telekinetic abilities and a devastating 3/day cyclone while within reach of its ward, these kami are benevolent and sweet...but if you try to destroy them...well. Don't.


The Kmoch Pray (CR 11) is creepy. Really creepy. Think of a tree covered in caustic, yellow sap that can fling it in globs...oh, and it has deadly, scythe-like claws...as well as a weakness to positive energy. Absolutely unique, creative and awesome - glorious critter! Speaking of "never saw that one before" - the Kting Voar (CR 4), a bovine beast whose horns erupt from bones is a great example of good animal design: Powerful and all about sensible abilities, using reinforced horns, tough skin and trampling to defeat its foes.


This one, I've seen before, though: The Bakeneko Oni (CR 3) is pretty much a staple of Japanese mythology and one that ultimately has me surprised it has not been done by Paizo at this point. Anyways, think of them as maleficent halfling-sized cats that can stand upright with a scoiopathic rictus-grin. With some nasty, stealth-enhancing SPs as well as the option to denote creatures as marked by their envy, they are a nice take on the evil trickster. At CR 6, the Yeren Oni would be the embodiment of the excessive need to withdraw from society to live in the woods...and while that's a black metal cliché, it's one I can empathize with. Basically, think of these fellows as a cross between the sasquatch and an oni, with appropriate nature-themed SPs and the option to create scrawlings that confuse the happless traveler AND then erases their memory. This one ability makes this creature stand out for me - you can make a really nasty investigation out of this premise.


Okay, so what about a turtle with a crystalline shell that has a powerful weapon embedded in its back? (Sword in the stone? Who needs a sword in the stone when you can have a sword from a turtle!) These creatures are the Quyrua (CR 6) and they are the caretakers of the magical weapons embedded in them - they are sentient and honorable stewards and may allow creatures to draw their weapon - but are slain in the process. Very cool idea here!


The final creature in this book would be the Sirin-Po (CR 7) - ghoul aristocrats that rose from the dead as a result of being slain in what they perceive as a "dishonorable death", these gangly-limbed monsters now prey on fear, causing panic with attacks from their grotesquely elongated limbs and gaining bonuses versus creatures suffering from fear-based conditions.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though not as exceedingly tight as usual for Legendary Games. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf's artists William Hendershot, Michael Jaecks, Jason Juta, Stephen Najarian and Rian Trost deserve a special shout-out: Each of these creatures gets a great one page artwork in gorgeous full color. And boy, these artworks make for great hand-outs. This pdf may be worth it for the artworks alone. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Additionally, it should be noted that we get an additional pdf containing paper pawns for the creatures herein - kudos for going the extra mile here. Thuston Hillman's beasts from the east constitute a cool little bestiary: When he gets creatures right, they are absolutely awesome; in particular the more unique ones make sense and a sufficient elaboration on their respective modus operandi provides ideas for enterprising GMs to use them. At the same time, though, I do feel that this pdf does not reach the lofty heights of some other bestiaries from Legendary Games - the naga, bakeneko and the sirin-po feel like they fall a bit short of being as unique as their concepts warrant. Make no mistake, though - at the low price-point, this book is most certainly a steal and a great addition to your bestiary-arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo...and the fact that this provides some cool critters I haven't seen before.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of Legend: Beasts of the East
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The Flavour Handbook
Publisher: Duck and Roll Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2016 02:43:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive book clocks in at 96 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial,2 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 89 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


This pdf does not waste any time, beginning almost immediately by depicting a new base class for your perusal, which, what else could it be, would be the chef. The chef base class, chassis-wise, gets d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves as well as proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and shields. They may also use all kitchen-utensils as improvised weapons sans penalties, with some samples given - tenderizers work like light maces, woks make for shields, etc. As a nitpick, since this probably was not intended, considering the proficiencies: The class RAW gets proficiency with tower shields since it lacks the exclusion caveat for this item class.


Chefs add their class level to Profession (Cook) and may always take 10 on their check. Additionally, they may earn check result gold instead of half that amount, with higher levels increasing that further - including freebies in proper restaurants and later even potentially titles, with 20th level allowing them to cook for a god's discerning palate - potentially resulting in granted wishes or miracles. The spells are not italicized correctly in the text.


At 1st level, chefs may prepare special meals - these meals grant all characters participating in their consumption one of several benefits of the chef's choice, +1 such benefit at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Here, we do have some issues in the mechanical details of the class. For one, the ability is supernatural - which is nice. But the benefits are extraordinary, which, to me, makes more sense. Why can't a chef prepare such a meal in a magic-dead environment? More significant: there are 6 such benefits...which means all of them are covered at 13th level...but here's the issue: The rules-language of the benefits is flawed. to say the least. While e.g. "+5 temp hp" makes me cringe, it's functional. More problematic: With the exception of one bonus-granting ability, the bonuses conferred are morale bonuses. You know, the bonuses that are the most common ones? The ones where only the highest one applies? Here is where the clusterf*** begins: "All bonuses stack and are extraordinary in nature." Okay, so these stack with themselves...but they also stack with other morale bonuses? This is needlessly confusing, potentially a source of a lot of GM-confusion and frankly unnecessary. The ability should also note that one benefit can be chosen multiple times, which it doesn't - meaning that RAW, you run out of things to choose at 13th level. That being said, on a lighter side, the class does have a nice caveat that prevents multiple chefs from stacking benefits via multiple meals.


Also starting at 1st level, chefs may prepare snacks - these act like potions brewed with Brew Potion, but utilize Profession (Cook) as governing skill. Here is where things get problematic fast: Chefs have a recipe book for them, begin with "3+Wis bonus" (that should be 3 + Wisdom modifier) recipes...drawn from ANY spellcasting list. Yes, this means these guys can, very quickly, prepare all those nifty paladin, ranger, etc. spells. A restriction of spell-lists imho would have helped here. Another issue: The Brew Potion FEAT requires 3rd level CL as a prerequisite; the pdf ought to refer to the alchemist's Brew Potion extraordinary ability instead - RAW, the chef can't create a single snack or at least has an issue as far as CL is concerned. The ability does specify that new snacks are learned as per the rules of formulae, but unfortunately, the brewing component is not included in that one. Now I know, I know - I'm a nitpicky prick. One can sort of understand how this is supposed to work...but fact is, RAW, it doesn't. Which is painful to me, since the class has a pretty cool idea with "fresh snacks" - 1/10th the cost, but an expiration date of 24 hours and a significantly decreased time to prepare - only 1 hour. This ability may be good scavenging material! Also at 1st level, chefs get fire and cold resistance 4, +2 every level, until 20th level turns that into immunity - and the benefits of these resistances stack with other resistances.


Starting at 3rd level, the chef can make a melee touch attack against metallic objects to alter temperature, potentially dealing +2d4 fire or cold damage as well ashaving a utility use to keep armor warm (or cool) as a swift action- sounds cool, right? It is! But the rules-language once again lacks precision "This ability can be applied to up to a number of objects equal to 1 + 1 "per point of Wisdom bonus" cringes at rules-language. Okay, I'll play - does that mean the ability can be used 1+Wisdom modifier times per day? I assume no and that it instead can be applied an indefinite amount of times, with the cap denoting parallel uses, since duration is indefinite. The utility use can protect from "inclement heat or cold" - specify! There are different degrees of cold and heat weather hazards! The ability further specifies that it can cause "armor to deal the listed damage to any foe striking the wearer with a natural attack or unarmed strike."...Does that mean that the wearer of the armor thus heated/cooled down also takes the damage? The damage increases by +1d4 at 5th level and every 2 levels thereafter...and reads "the chef may choose to deal an additional 1d4 fire or cold damage with this ability." Does that mean you have to choose either fire or cold to get the damage-boost on a given level? Or does the "or" here mean that both damage types are increased. No idea. Worse: The ability is OP: It can be maintained at will, so touch an armored foe, teleport away...the guy will die. Armor takes a LONG time to take off. It's the cadre of knight-assassinating chefs, I guess...sigh


Starting at 2nd level and every other level thereafter, the chef gains access to culinary arts, the talents of the class - and they generally are interesting: Meals that grant bonuses to Intelligence or Wisdom and being able to instead have a result of class level instead of what you rolled on a Knowledge check. Also cool: Caliente lets you fling blinding/scent-negating spices as a ranged touch attack - that provides no immediate save, but allows a creature to take a move action to rub the spices away (Fortitude-save versus DC 10+ 1/2 chef level + chef's Wisdom modifier) and the pdf also extends the benefit-options of meals to fire and cold resistances. Other such options grant skill bonuses (and yes, skills are not properly capitalized) or..."+1 fast healing when below 1/2 of full hp." Okay, does "full hp" include temporary hit points? Why is there no cap for the fast healing provided? How does it interact with natural healing? If you e.g. eat a meal and rest, is natural healing added after reaching the 1/2 maximum HP? No idea. Also, in case you have not noted - this is infinite healing. Limited infinite healing, but infinite healing nonetheless, which disqualifies this class for grittier rounds for which the class seems to be otherwise geared. Also interesting - you need a feat to have the meal of the chef count as something to postpone the effects of starvation...which is extremely counterintuitive and not noted in the base ability. Btw.: If a talent has prerequisites, that also does not conform to how such prerequisites are usually presented for class talents, instead sporting a feat-like prerequisite note in the beginning.


Balance also is a bit wonky with some: Evil chefs may add HD of a dragon, humanoid, fey or monstrous humanoids or class levels to make better meals that provide +1 benefit per 5 HD/class levels of the creature eaten - which is per se cool, but how long do such creatures last? Could a chef pickle meat of a powerful dragon? If so, how much? Another issue: The base talent specifies that only creatures with an Int below 2 can be cooked, a restriction that should be RAW alleviated by the follow-up talent. Delayed poisons, immunity to fear or poison and diseases...there are quite a few such immunities granted to the chef. Granting Extra +X feats via meals and making class specific meals for allies is smart - here, for once, let me express being pretty impressed by the craftsmanship of the rules. I also enjoyed the talent that lets you make leshy. 20th level provides an array of different capstones -a total of 5 of them.


All in all, the chef has potential, but a lot of rough edges to file off...and it doesn't play that interesting. You prepare your snacks and they are basically all flexibility you get. You make meals...and that's pretty much it. Playing a chef is a very passive experience.


The class does feature a lot of favored class options, which generally are nice. Cooler, though: The pdf sports 6 sample recipes - and yes, I tried the dwarven pickled carrots and the tiefling scones. Nice and tasty! The pdf does sport several archetypes: Olfactory arcanist wizards are interesting: They require more expensive aromatherapy to learn spells instead of spellbooks, but may "cast the same spell again without using a spell slot" one round after casting a spell. And YES, this cannot be abused and has a caveat that prevents you from getting infinite casting loops...though the archetype does end up being VERY strong.


Hungry barbarians get less rounds of rage per day, but can prolong their rage by eating food via a standard action...or by inflicting 10+ points of damage with a bite attack. ...I have a barbarian with a bite attack in my game. He can't, EVER, NOT deal eat least 10 points of damage with a bite in range. If my barbarian had this ability, he'd run around with a bag of kittens, tear foes asunder with his claws and bite off the head of a kitten once per round for infinite rage...or until the kittens run out sigh Oh, and they can eat slain foes to regain rage, which is where the kitten-abuse just becomes ridiculous. Not gonna get near my table - in either the normal or Pathfinder Unchained-compatible version.


The food fighter is basically a chef/fighter crossover, while the Ale-chemist gets less bomb damage (die-size reduced by 1) and lasting splash damage and it's cool that this one has a splash-weapon abuse caveat...but at the same time, the rules-language, while pretty solid, is less precise than it should be. The archetype also can't decide whether it's alechemist or ale-chemist. Mutagens make the ale-chemist drunk and can cause nonlethal damage to creatures by pouring alcohol on weapons...cool! I really love this one, though I wished it had a tighter rules-language. Still, one that is fun and one I can see using myself.


Fruit ninjas can grow poisonous fruit...and regain ki by eating meals. Sigh Insert rant on eliminating the limit on a class resource. Also: At 8th level, they gain +2 damage per weapon damage roll they already made that round. Okay, does that include AoOs? I assume it does. But seriously - are shurikens and flurry of stars not nasty enough already? sigh


The bad apple antipaladin is interesting - they can smite regardless of alignment and teach this ability to paladins! Oh, and they can clothe foes in auras of evil, get an aura of rot, etc. - the bad apple spoils the bunch...and yes, while observing spellcasters preparing spells, they may potentially steal them. Absolutely awesome archetype, in spite of some minor hiccups in formatting. The vegetarian druid gets plant shapes and loses all animal-specific spells. The bunslinger thrown weapon specialist is pretty cool as well. The butcher chef would be the full BAB-version of the class, with hungry monks replacing flurry of blows with ever increasing, precise Vital Strikes...and yes, once again with an unchained version.


Fighting food summoners create animated creatures of food instead of an eidolon, which as such count as animated objects with increasing evolution points. And yes, once again, including an unchained version.


The pdf also introduces new feats: Calorie feats include burning of consumed meals, with uses beyond the number of meals consumed, tallying up to days of starvation. Constitution checks can be made to mitigate those days of starvation and increase DCs. While negative conditions incurred by starvation are brutal, the chances to die are rather minimal. The food-feats herein are nice, but aforementioned claorie-feats that allow for the burning of meals...are pretty damn OP. Why? BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO LIMITS. The one limit they have is "not dying due to damage" - we get CL-enhancers, attribute boosts and even more actions. 30 meals equal, for example, two full-round actions. The math is nowhere near functional regarding these feats, which is a pity, since idea-wise, I can get behind them. They'd just need stricter limits per round - as written, a creature can hold 3+Constitution modifier meals, with Large creatures holding 4 times as much and every additional size category allowing for 8 times this capacity. A single Large PC or one grown via magic by size completely breaks down any semblance of balance.


The spells in this book, on the other side, do not suffer from these issues: Linking stomachs, meal-eliminating hunger (including mythic upgrades) - no complaints here. The magic item section is also very creative - with weapons that take samples from foes for further use in spells to armor that makes you look appetizing or whisky ioun stones (erroneously called "Ion" stone in the beautiful full-color artwork), the items are creative and fun - though the formatting of aura, price and construction requirements, while complete, still violate just about EVERY formatting standard established for them. The pdf does also offer quite a lot of material for GMS - from 100 adventure hooks themed around cuisine to considerations of exotic ingredients, the importance of trade and food and the like, these chapters did indeed provide... wait for it...food for thought! HA! ...Sorry, I'll hit myself later for that. What I'm trying to say is: This chapter does offer several cool ideas for GMs. Kudos!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are a two-edged sword: On a formal level, both are pretty great, particularly for a new publisher. Rules-language and particularly its formatting is one of the worst components of the pdf. If there is any component of rules-formatting, chances are the pdf will break it - spells are not italicized, Attributes not capitalized, etc. This would be fine and dandy and cosmetic...but such standards exist for a reason - they prevent glitches and issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color standard that champions a 1-column standard. While I'm not a big fan of 1-column-standards, it works here. Btw.: This book sports a lot of gorgeous full-color artworks and comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


Gregory Ducker's freshman offering is generally a perfect example for a freshman offering that sports all the makings of a talented and artful designer...but also all the pitfalls. The pdf, in many cases, manages to get complex rules-operations right...kind of. At the same time, its rules-language often downright fails to adhere to the established standards, making quite a few components needlessly opaque or harder to grasp than they should be. From information of base abilities hidden in optional talents to rules being spread out, the pdf is not didactically well-constructed. Similarly, there are quite a bunch of balance-concerns and violations of the finer, implicit conventions that make up crucial balancing mechanisms of Pathfinder. And frankly, these accumulate.


I'm a HUGE fan of the concept of fantasy cooking and the recipes included are pretty cool; similarly, this pdf does show care, passion and that it certainly was created by someone who deeply cared about the subject matter - this book has soul. I just wished it had a proper balancing editor, a more active base class and an editor familiar with the peculiarities of PFRPG's rules-language. Why? Because this book gets almost everything almost right. Almost. De facto, all class features of the chef have at least one issue in the rules-language, even when ignoring formatting deviations. And then there is simply the problem that size-increases blow the whole meal/consumption mechanics completely to smithereens.


So...mechanically, this requires A LOT of careful work by a capable GM to work properly. And honestly, even taking the significant array of cool ideas and fluff into account, I'd usually round down for this one...but since this is a freshman offering, it gets the benefit of the doubt: I will round up from my final verdict of 2.5 stars to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


To close with something positive: This book shows a lot of promise and I certainly hope that the author will continue to hone his craftsmanship. There is potential here.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Flavour Handbook
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Nobles of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2016 02:42:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive supplement clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 48 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!


So...guess what - this actually is a prestige archetype book, one that takes the noble scion PrC and codifies it as a proper 20-level base class, though the set-up herein is obviously more versatile in this one - but there is more to this book than that: Beyond extensive observations regarding what it means to play a noble and the wealth available to them, the noble scions do receive a significant stipend each level, to be precise 750 gp times the class level and bonuses to skills according to the respective families they have and areas they belong to - it is here that the "of Porphyra"-component comes into play: The pdf provides a balanced, varied list of diverse regions of the setting for your perusal.


Beyond the aforementioned stipend, the nobles also get a weekly allowance of non-monetary favors equal to 25 gp times class level for top theatre seat, great rooms, etc. - this is known as prestigious influence. Unspent favors from this allowance do not stack, thankfully. At 3rd level, noble scions receive +1/3 class level to Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (Local) and Knowledge (Nobility) - this ability is called fame and fortune and 4th level nets an expert cohort called servitor...and no, he does not fight. 7th level nets Leadership and at 13th level, a cohort can be one level lower than the scion and all followers increase their levels by +1, with 19th level providing a cohort at the scion's class level and followers increasing their level by a further +1. As a capstone, these guys can roll twice on the appropriate social skills and 1/day treat one such roll as a 20.


So that is the basic framework - and it already is much more solid and feasible than the problematic aristocrat-NPC-class. This framework out of the way, we are introduced to the respective variants of noble scions: The first here being the bloodline scion, who gains 1/2 BAB-progression, d6 HD, good Will-saves and 4+Int skills as well as some basic proficiencies. Bloodline scions receive a sorceror bloodline and spontaneous Cha-based spellcasting of up to 6th level as well as related benefits: Bloodline feats at 6th level and every 6 level thereafter, with bloodline power progression at levels 1, 3, 9 and 15, with the capstone being exchangeable for the aforementioned general noble scion capstone. The class gets Eschew Materials at first level. The pdf does provide a CR 10 bloodline scion/wildblooded-sample character -each of the versions herein does sport such a complex sample character, all with detailed background stories...and, rather cool, there are quite a lot of neat full-color artworks here!


Similarly interesting - the chevalier takes the cavalier class and applies the noble scion - for full BAB-progression, full proficiency, d10 HD, good Fort-saves, level 1 mount and challenge, with well diversified class abilities - Banner at 5th level, tactician at 1st., etc. - all in all, this one is smooth and well-crafted.


The eldritch noble gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, d6 HD, very basic weapon and armor proficiencies and choose either wizard or witch at first level, gaining full 8th level Int-based prepared spellcasting - but losing the additional tricks like hexes, schools and the like - basically a full caster noble.


The enlightened noble, with 3/4-BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, light armors and rogue-y weapons, 8+Int skills and d8 HD alongside good Ref- and Will-saves. These guys are based, roughly, on the investigator. The class receives full studied strike progression and studied combat and applies inspiration to the nobility-themed skills instead - once again, a neatly-crafted variant/hybrid! Similarly, should you prefer a more rogue-y focus...well, the scheming noble, with a similar chassis, instead applies this design-paradigm and combines it with rogue talents, sneak attacks etc.


The hierarch cleric gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-and Will-saves, d8 HD, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, sword cane and fighting fan and light, medium and heavy armor as well as with the deity's favored weapons. This one would be the Wis-based prepared spellcaster with full spellcasting progression of up to 9th level. On a nitpicky, aesthetic point - the spellcasting/aura/etc. entries often read "cleric" instead of "hierarch cleric"... Yeah, I'll punch myself now for that one. It's needless nitpickery. And no, these guys do not get channel energy.


The monster scion is based on the summoner class, with 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, d8 HD, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, lance, long sword, rapier and light + medium armor, which do not provide arcane spell failure. They are spontaneous spellcasters via Charisma and gain up to 6th level spells. These guys get a hereditary eidolons - which are native outsiders and cannot be summoned. They are pretty hard to kill, gaining full HP into negative HP, but, upon being killed, need to be replaced via a ceremony and some time. Cool: Fame and fortune can later be applied to outsiders and the ancestral eidolons introduced herein get new evolutions for dual creature types, becoming extra-dimensional, fluid growth between sizes - all in all, neat.


The noble virtuoso gets d8 HD, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, longswords, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow and whip as well as shields and light armors. They get access to bardic spellcasting (via Cha, obviously) and free spellcasting sans penalty in light armor. The class receives, obviously, bardic performance progression, 10th level jack of all trades, etc. - all in all, solidly dispersed ability arrays here - but at the price of bardic knowledge and lore master.


The Renaissance Man, at d8 HD, good Fort- and Will-save progression, 3/4 BAB-progression, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light armor. This one gets Int-based spellcasting from the magus spell-list, 1st level arcane pool, 2nd level spellstrike, 4th level spell combat, 5th level spell recall and arcana at 3rd level, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Medium armor, however, is delayed to 14th level and similarly, the hybrid does pay a price regarding the regular magus-progression.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and also rather precise on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column full-color standard. The pdf sports several beautiful full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This book was much more work than the relatively brief review here may show - basically, it represents a significant array of hybrid classes between Noble Scions and a significant assortment of classes. The interesting component is that the pdf manages to get the WBL-increase and small favors afforded to nobility done rather well: The respective changes made make sense and, when compared to the base classes, provide a distinct identity that is similar to, but not identical to the respective base classes. The concept is interesting and there certainly is more than one set-up for a campaign that makes sense with one or more player characters belonging to the nobility - I know I've had such a set-up planned for quite a while.


Beyond solid crunch, Carl Cramér's nobles of Porphyra (with additional design by Justin Sluder and August Hahn) also sport a significant array of interesting characters - for a more than fair, low price. Nice crunch, cool fluff - what more could one ask for? In fact, one can, arguably, make one's own additional noble scion-hybrids by extrapolating from the classes provided here and using the general noble scion tricks in this book. All in all, this is a nice, cool pdf and well worth 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nobles of Porphyra
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Mini-Dungeon IWG04: Ways of the Old
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/10/2016 02:39:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintery Gale"-saga.


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


Sorrow's Snekkja may be the key to quenching the evil slumbering within Serpent Lake - unfortunately, the most reliable source who may know about this elusive item would be the well-known skald Boddi Boddason, whose last known destination was the crypt of a forgotten jarl - hence, the pdf are off to examine exactly this complex - and the PCs indeed find it...and the hints of Boddi's presence, drawing them further and further into the complex, only to find a makeshift office...and the skald deceased...but thankfully, his journal does provide a hint...but the PCs will have to escape the powerful aptrgangrs that stand guard within these confines - and yes, the combat here can be avoided, the curse broken - if the PCs are well-versed and smart enough to realize the option...


Conclusion:


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


Justin Andrew Mason's fourth mini-dungeon does it right: We have a great, flavorful build-up; evocative read-aloud text...and non-combat means to resolve the danger. Traps and even a bit of investigation set-up (optional) are provided - this is great and makes the formula work in spite of its brevity. My final verdict is 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG04: Ways of the Old
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Four Horsemen Present: Young Character Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2016 15:34:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD/editorial, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


We begin this pdf with several observations regarding how childhood in a quasi-medieval setting would look like - and if you're a bit of a history buff, you'll know that even games thus basically focus on teaching skills. In a given fantasy setting, this is twice as important - after all, the world is a dangerous place. The age-range for children of the various core-races receives a more fine-grained coverage and the respective entries do cover how the respective childhoods do look like - the cultural specifics ring true and sound.


It should be noted that this pdf does champion an approach that eliminates the penalties associated with young characters per the rules of Ultimate Campaign. Note, however, that this is not simply a fluff-operation: There actually is a trait to produce the rules-foundation for properly powerful young characters. The pdf also sports an assortment of intriguing traits - the best two of which, in my opinion, allow for easier passing off as small folk and, exceedingly intriguing: Fool detect alignment spells. Damien? Yes! I also particularly enjoyed the "pass unnoticed" trait -overall, the options provided here are concise and well-crafted.


The pdf also sport an array of prodigy-feats: Basically, these feats represent being a prodigy in a given region, including constant favored class based gaining of Perform ranks. Further feats let you perform a select array of combat maneuvers sans incurring an AoO, but at the cost of extending the action required to a full-round action. Interesting here: The feats actually provide synergy with the respective Improve...-feats. Being a prodigy of spell research is also interesting.


The pdf does feature a significant array of archetypes - the ageless oracle is all about...not aging. The archetype has a list of bonus spells that focuses on necromancy. The archetype does have a unique curse: The poor oracle never ages. Their revelations provide options to provide resistance to aging, including options to make the targets look younger or inflict aging upon adversaries.


The Destined Blade magus may not use his arcane pool to magically enhance his weapons (and only has Int-mod skills), but is instead defined by the eponymous destined blade - this blade increases over the levels, including scaling enhancement bonuses and three categories of blade abilities. Interesting here: The destined blade, the signature weapon, may actually be 2-handed, modifying spell combat appropriately, but overall pays for the power granted by the blade with a lack of a spellbook and inability to add new spells to the destined blade that works as the substitute for the spellbook.


The reincarnated master monk would be a creature that comes into his power early and thus has a modified unarmed strike damage and a rather intriguing option to control reaching adulthood whenever the class gets a bonus feat. Similarly, tapping into visions of past lives and the knowledge from these days is rather intriguing.


The street rat rogue does suffer from one decreased physical attribute chosen at 1st level, but does gain Endurance and Improved Unarmed Strike. They also are great pickpockets and gain scaling bonuses while within a city; once again, adulthood is an option. The wunderkind wizard may start with less spells in the spellbook, but also do get the option to spontaneously apply metamagic feats to spells they prepare, even if they do not have the respective feat. Like the former archetypes, the wunderkind does have the option to reach adulthood at certain levels, with corresponding attribute bonuses.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any formal glitches and rules-language is sufficiently precise - the worst deviation from standards I found was "drawing attacks of opportunity" instead of "provoking" - and that's cosmetic. So no, not complaining for once! Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several absolutely gorgeous, beautiful full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


BJ Hensley's little booklet on young characters intended as PCs (as opposed to Ultimate Campaign's more restrictive rules) is tight, concise and well-written. The crunch herein is solid, gets bonus types right and the pdf does feature several fun options for young characters. The traits, feats and archetypes in this book are well-crafted and, barring any proper complaints to field against this pdf, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Young Character Options
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Mini-Dungeon IWG03: The Jotunn Encampment
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2016 15:31:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintery Gale"-saga.


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


The adventure assumes that the adventurers have returned to Völfsheimr with Jarl Vornig's artifacts - in their absence, a scouting party has discovered an encampment of Jötunn-kin in an abandonned Vikmordere fortress - the encampment needs to be neutralized. Enter the PCs. The main adversaries in the encampment are høyondes and the fortress actually sports a pass-code clever PCs may unearth as well as means of freeing hostages - and, via a levitating ruby, the PCs will have a chance to rub their triumph in to the Jötunn king...provided they manage to defeat their powerful adversaries.


Conclusion:


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


Justin Andrew Mason's third expansion-mini-dungeon for Into the Wintry Gale is an unpretentious, fun little side-trek versus smart-acting adversaries - a fun romp and well tied into the main story. No complaints there, though the mini-dungeon does not have this one elevating idea of genius. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for a good mini-dungeon.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG03: The Jotunn Encampment
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Book of Icons (13th Age Compatible)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 05:36:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive pdf clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 42 pages of content, so let's take a look!


All right, at this point it's not a big secret that I'm not the biggest fan of 13th Age's vanilla icons - while recent installments of 13th Age Monthly and similar supplements have added dimensions to some of them, I still consider them to be a bit too archetypical. Similarly, the rather freeform approach to icons can be challenging for a GM, which is why this pdf provides pretty much a rather simple, yet more streamlined and concise nomenclature regarding icons and the interaction with them.


A proxy, for example, would be an NPC that serves as a reliable intermediary/liaison between PCs and icon, meaning that your low level PCs don't always get to hassle their icon, diminishing the effectiveness of actually interacting with them. An investment is a gift, an object or piece of information that provides a permanent advantage in the grand scheme of things, while an event would be a single occurrence that fits the theme of the respective icon. Similarly, the pdf provides the term of "thematic adjustment", which means that the GM reskins a given area to fit more closely with the themes of the respective icons.


As a nice nod to one of the cooler aspects of Rite Publishing's conversion of the superb Breaking of Forstor Nagar-module, the pdf also provides dead simple, elegant basic rules for hazardous terrain/attacks by the terrain. Two thumbs up!


Now before I get into the nit and grit of the respective icons featured within these pages, I'd be grossly negligent to mention an aspect that may well enhance your 13th Age GMing prowess, particularly if you are a relatively new GM - the rather handy step-by-step break-down and explanation of Relationship Dice and how to handle icons in the game. This section is VERY detailed and, particularly for GMs that aren't as good at improvising, pure gold - with advice on staging events, balance-considerations regarding aforementioned investments and thematic adjustments, it is a handy section to have, though one more experienced GMs won't require.


Now I mentioned new icons, so what's their schtick? Well, basically, the 6 new icons herein are based on 6 cards of Tarot's major arcana, with the first, the Fool being reimagined as the adventurer. (And yes, dear fans of the Persona-franchise, I'm thinking the same thing here and really want to expand that aspect...) The general presentation of the respective icons in this supplement sport information regarding heroic, ambiguous and villainous adventurers and d8 themes that can be mixed with the following to provide contexts relevant for the icon. Each of the icons sports a d6-table for proxies, events and investments that can be blended with the aforementioned leitmotif. Each of these d6-tables sports negative spins for the respective entries.


Based on the reversed fool, the revolutionary would be the next icon - where the adventurer is happy-go-lucky and all about the challenges in a given moment, the revolutionary is methodical and exists to take a stand - particularly in the regular 13th Age context with its plethora of established icons, this guys makes for an interesting addition as a more methodical wildcard. The order, in contrast, based on the Emperor-card, is, as the card shows, perhaps the most redundant of these - while one can envision it as a cabal that enforces the status quo, the obvious thematic overlap with the emperor icon and similar icons is apparent, though conflict between the two may make for an interesting narrative.


A similar duality can be seen with the Cult of One, based on the reversed emperor - this one is basically rooted in the belief of individual exceptionalism and can be used to spin it in a priestess-like believe in a messianic figure or twisted towards an ideology seeking to create a new species under an enlightened leadership...and history has certainly provided ample of examples how horribly wrong this type of ideology can turn out. The Monster, based on the devil arcana, would be an icon that is useful for the opposition: Brute, vile, tainting evil, this icon would be the mirthless, raving sledgehammer as opposed to the diabolist's razor or the crusader's pragmatic discipline - the icon of vile perversion, mutation and unwholesome change.


The more elegant and less overt evil icon herein, the tempter, also based on the devil arcana, could be bast summed up as the more subtle part of that, providing some overlap with the diabolist - basically, you can envision the methodology here as the devilish equivalent to the monster's demonic brute force, more Faustian than brute force.


This pdf does not stop with these icons, though: The book also sports some handy tools to add depth to the game, beginning with 10 abbreviated NPC-write-ups, several of which sport unique abilities alongside general guidelines and backgrounds as well as trappings. Beyond these, the book also sports no less than 7 sample organizations, ranging from the Fireworks, Demolishing and Quarry Blasting Company to the order of knight-hospitalers and adventurer guilds, the respective entries sport information on goals, structure, status and key areas of influence - but, as often, all may not be as it seems, which means that the GM is also presented with 6 secret agendas that include a claim for domination, being fronts for invaders from beyond and similar unpleasant, if classic twists.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard with nice, full-color artworks...though fans of Rite Publishing may have seen a couple of them before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


Patryk Adamski's Book of Icons is a good read and particularly useful for less experienced GMs - anyone who has had issues with the presentation of icons in 13th Age and handling them in-game can consider this to be a useful, nice sourcebook - which is also pretty much the theme for this book: The general presentation of the new icons, NPCs etc. is overall solid, easy to grasp and well presented, providing some additional structure to the icon-rules, while retaining the flexibility championed by 13th Age. Novice GMs and those who had/expect to have issues with icons and relationship dice should consider this well worth the investment.


At the same time, while certainly not a bad book, personally, I didn't take much out of this book - as a longtime veteran GM and someone who can improvise PFRPG-statblocks and whole adventures, I had no issues adjusting to the icon-mechanics of 13th Age. The new icons presented herein, by necessity of them being setting-agnostic, felt a bit opaque to me and while I like the Tarot-idea, the restriction to only 3 cards means that the new icons on their own can't really replace a pantheon of existing icons - and, more jarringly to me, they offer quite a bit of serious thematic overlap with 13th Age's default icons - unnecessarily so, at least in my opinion. By emphasizing other aspects of e.g. the tempter or the order, they could have been made more distinct...but perhaps that's just me being spoiled and expecting something akin to what Icons of Parsantium or the Midgard icons delivered regarding facets and depth.


Please take my criticism of this book with a grain of salt, for, as mentioned above, I may simply not be the target audience - for less experienced GMs and those struggling with integrating icons, this pdf may well be a godsend, though veteran GMs get decidedly less out of this book. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform - a good offering, though one that could have done a bit more to also provide material for the veterans.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Icons (13th Age Compatible)
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Mini-Dungeon IWG02: Snowblind Sanctuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/06/2016 05:30:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintry Gale"-saga.


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


Stumbling through a particularly nasty blizzard in the mountains, the PCs stumble into a tunnel of an abandoned Vikmordere sanctuary - and it is unique: Deadly traps and atmospheric environments hearken, including a concise, relatively logical puzzle. Now it should be noted that, much like the first module, this does use a creature from Into the Wintry Gale (and an item from Raider's Haul as one treasure) as a combat challenge. Now here's what I did - I ignored it. Radical, right? No, seriously, this mini-complex works surprisingly well for 2 pages as a pure exercise in atmosphere and ruin-exploration...which is testament to the concise writing herein...


Conclusion:


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


Justin Andrew Mason's second Into the Wintry Gale-expansion mini-dungeon is more versatile than the first and sports an ultimately more interesting complex alongside an intriguing little puzzle that makes sense. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars for a solid, nice dungeon.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG02: Snowblind Sanctuary
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Relic Files: Treasures of the Earth I - Svarduun
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 03:01:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


After the deviation from the formula in the last installment of this series, where we took a look at a power armor, this constitutes a return to the formula of depicting a relic, i.e. with a magic weapon that increases in potency every level. The pdf clocks in at 5 pages, with 1 page SRD/editorial, 1/2 a page front cover, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a closer look!


We begin this item's entry with a significant and well-crafted section of fluffy introductory text, before getting into the details of the weapon - what, at first level, looks like a masterwork warhammer but may penetrate Dr as though it were magic swiftly improve: 2nd level lets the hammer work as a staff that contains the mending spell at either level 8 or the wielder's level, whichever is higher. This theme is further expanded, as higher levels provide Craft bonuses and less charges required to activate. On a nitpicky side, the notation of the Craft skills lacks the brackets. Higher levels unlock additional spells to use with the charges of the weapon, with magic weapon being added to the fray and mending being upgraded to make whole.


Beyond that, the weapon also grants scaling fire resistance and higher levels also provide a limited array of additional low-level spell preparation slots. The levels also, obviously, increase the enchantment and adds flame-themed properties, which are powered by charges as well. At the highest levels, wielders can use charges to grant the speed property, with highest levels providing attribute bonuses and counting as adamantine for dwarven wielders. The weapon, at high levels, also provides a new spell, Aspect of the Forgelord, increasing height and weight, providing bonuses and a fire aura that increases in potency at higher levels.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports two solid b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Andrew Marlowe's Svarduun is a cool, dwarven-themed relic that provides a cool, fun and mechanically interesting relic. Barring any significant complaints, this pdf receives a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Relic Files: Treasures of the Earth I - Svarduun
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Mini-Dungeon IWG01: Den of the Glacial Bear
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/04/2016 02:59:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Additionally, it should be noted that this is intended for use in conjunction with the upcoming "Into the Wintry Gale"-saga.


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right!


The PCs stumble across a heavily injured vikmordere-raider, who has been badly mauled by a glacial bear (stats can be found in the associated ItWG-books; if you don't have access to them, template a bear with a winter/frost-themed template) and asks the PCs, if they save him, to save his brothers. The cave itself shows the brutal struggle between man and nature. Exploring the well-described, but otherwise pretty bland cave, the PCs can find survivors and finally face off with the glacial bear - who was defending her cubs from the vikmordere - but the angry beast isn't playing nice...


Having defeated the creature, it's up to the players how to treat the surviving cubs - leaving them to their fate is a sure death-sentence...


Conclusion:


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


Justin Andrew Mason's first Into the Wintry Gale-expansion sports nice read-aloud text and a brief sidetrek - but that's about it. Personally, I got nothing out of this one - the fluff is nice, but there isn't that much to do - explore the caves, witness the build-up, fight boss, done. It's an okay mini-dungeon, but lacks the evocative setting the better ones have in spite of their brevity. Basically, this is a creature-showcase for the creature in the associated book. I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon IWG01: Den of the Glacial Bear
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The Dragon's Hoard: Magic Arms & Armor
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/03/2016 04:25:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first collection of magic items released by Flaming Crab Games clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this installment via 6 new magic armor special abilities: Featherlight armor duplicates featherfall and has reduced armor check penalty and increased maximum Dexterity bonus. Analogue to this, sea-faring armor provides water breathing and easier Swimming. While light resting armor allows the user to expend a move action to mitigate the armor's arcane spell failure for enhancement bonus rounds. I'm not a big fan of giant wrestling armor - it ignores the size modifier to CMD and CMB when fighting foes at least one size category larger: Considering the often horrible values for Dex, this is a bit inexpensive at +2. Salving armor can end bleed damage as a move action, which generally is appropriate, unless using bleed-heavy system modifications such as TPK Games' Laying Waste. Absolutely awesome and incredibly useful (and rendered via an artwork): Toy barding. It shrinks a mount to fine size...including info on food consumption. This one feels very magical and versatile and it solves many a "can't bring my mount into the dungeon"-issue. Two thumbs up!


A total of 10 different special magical armors are up next - and all of them sport their own, neat, pencil-drawn artworks - two thumbs up for the artistic extra mile here! Bastion Plates makes you count as larger and allow for a limited use bludgeoning-damage causing shock wave. Cacophonous armor is interesting -penalizing Stealth heavily, the armor can cause targets around the stopping point to become stunned for one round, deafened for 2d4 rounds. Fungal armor is slightly problematic - the armor has a cool defense mechanism. Targets grappled can become engulfed in fungal growths that deal Con damage. These growth may be picked off as a full-round action - but activation is odd: "If grappled, as a standard action..." is the first clause and the final sentence here says "the wearer can't willfully repress or activate this defense." - so which is it? Does it require a standard action? Or not? Or does this automatically happen in conjunction with the first grapple? Similarly, the secondary option, a cloud of spores "follows the wearer" - so, does it trail behind the wearer? Is it an aura or an emanation? The wording of this item needs a bit of clarification.


The gemini armor is interesting - as a move action 3/day, it creates a duplicate up to 30 ft. away, which receives one standard action, but can't perform SUs, SPs or cast spells. Damage caused to the double is transferred to the wearer. Interesting from a tactical perspective! Grasshopper armor helps when jumping - move action for +20...which seems a bit excessive. Jabberwock's Dream protects versus vorpal weapons and the wearer can fire ranged fire beams a limited amount of times per day. Solid! Lightning Guard Leather has 3 charges per day; beyond swift action bonuses when fighting defensively, the armor's charges can be used to grant a non-stacking haste-like attack when fighting defensively and finally, entering total defense as an immediate action is a nice trick. I really like this item, though the additional attack is more powerful than the other charge uses. There is also an anti-shapechanger armor and one that helps infiltrate the ranks of the lower planes. Finally, tehre is a shadowy armor that can duplicate mirror image.


Two shield properties allow a shield to provide sustenance or add shield bonus to touch AC. (Imho, shield bonuses should apply to touch AC in the first place, but that may just be me...suffice to say, I like this one - the massive +3 bonus is justified by making shield bash count as force damage, which is pretty strong!)


The book also sports 4 specific shields - the bombardier beetle shield not only helps versus acid, it also allows you to emit sprays of acid. There also is an animated tower shield that can be commanded to grant cover - and yes, it is an exception to the rule I can get behind. The Shield of the Dragon's Envoy is less interesting, with fire resistance and social skill bonuses + tongues, while the shield-type changing variable shield is once again unique and interesting.


A total of 13 special weapon qualities can be found next - adaptive slaying increases the damage bonus gained to bypass the creature's DR - which is a pretty good idea for most fantasy games - steer clear in horror and similar scenarios, though. On a nitpicky side - the ability should specify that it does not apply to e.g. epic DR, whose main catch is that it's less than regular DR, but nigh unbypassable. Ashenstrike is very cool - when missing in melee, you can grant yourself a cumulative 10 % miss chance, capping at total concealment's 50%. Note that you may miss on purpose and that it does not grant the additional benefits of concealment/total concealment, though. Still, at +1 bonus, this is a bit underpriced, considering its potential activation upon a miss. There also is a rather overpowered one - blistering weapons add +1d6 fire damage per attack AND continue to inflict this damage for two rounds, +1 round per additional hit. While Heal (and magical healing) can be used to halt the damage, the ability fails to specify which type of Heal-check is required - I assume First Aid. Still, this allows for pretty easy ongoing damage that requires serious action-investment to stop - considering flaming burst is +2, this would work better at +3 instead of its underpriced +2. Dehydrating weapons can cause fatigue on a failed save and deal bonus damage versus pants - odd: "The effect remains active until another command is given." The weapon's fatigue-effect, as written, has no "command" to activate it - rules-language here could be clearer.


Nice: Str and Dex damage versus constructs on critical hits, which at least slightly reward criting these foes. The +1 bonus enchantment drifting is interesting -when criting, you can expend an AoO to gain a free 5-foot-step - tactical and smart! Goliath weapons allow a wielder to use a weapon of +1 size category sans penalties. I also really like the greased weapon -at command, the weapon becomes slippery and requires a Ref-save to avoid dropping it, second command to end the effect. Pretty cool for signature weapons and in the hands of the right character, hilarious. Hellwreathed weapons deal half fire/half untyped damage and, at +3, is aptly priced. Lethal weapons increase crit multiplier - something we sure did not need - x4 is already exceedingly nasty. Odd: The one usual use and justification I could see for it, namely synergy with weapon mastery, is locked out - but then again, x5 is already broken as hell. Don't believe me? Watch a PC get hit by a pick or scythe-crit and die in one hit. Reverberating is great for sunder specialists, converting the weapon damage dice of sunder attempts as damage. Starlight weapons allow for atk-rerolls and are lighter and virulent weapons allow for faster poisoning and increase the DC.


The final section of the pdf covers over 30 specific magic weapons: There e.g. are virulent hand crossbows that can turn into tattoos, blades that can be played as wind instruments (and hold poisons) or a blade that nets Eschew Materials and is automatically available as a proficient weapon for arcane casters. Somewhat problematic: A blade that lets you add +1 eidolon evolution to creatures summoned at the price of stabbing yourself for damage that cannot be negated. While it gets the min level to prevent abuse right, does the stabbing influence the spellcasting? Concentration required? I'd assume so, but I'm not sure. Zombie femurs that cause fear-based paralysis and poisoned spears are okay, though the paralysis seems a bit harsh, in spite of the low save. There is also a flail with a clarion attached that potentially sickens targets and may deal additional damage on crits. Temporary blinding tekko-kagi, flaming whips that let you transform into smoke - these are okay. The gemini sword, however, is interesting - the sword can split in two and grants Two-Weapon-Fighting while split - the effect lasts for two rounds, though the item fails to specify activation action - I assume "free" here. On the nitpicky side, the rules technically also would have needed to specify that the wielder needs a free hand to split the blade and that he can't hand the second blade to allies.


A greataxe with a non-suppressible merciful quality is intriguing as well. Darts that cause lycanthropy and swords intended to work below water are solid and ice-themed starknives are a cool idea. Arrows that stagger foes instead of dealing damage are pretty intriguing. There also is a scarf that can cause Con-damage and even result in decapitations (powerful, but pretty awesome). A smelly dagger is okay, if not too exciting: More intriguing: A blade that can be used as a composite shortbow and fire arrows. There also are lucerne hammers herein - one that can crit natural armor away and another one that is the bane of flying foes...but only while the wielder remains earthbound. Negative energy-grappling whips and impaling weaponry that basically works like a bleeding grab can be considered interesting. A powerful, defensive scizore and a dagger that is particularly potent against identified foes is nice. I'm not sold on the volcanic maul - as a standard action, the earth breaker can unleash a 15ft. 5d4 cone of fire to be added to a melee attack - no daily limits. At 13K, this does seem a bit too much. I'd rather advocate a scaling number of uses depending on the wielder's level. The spear that allows you to unleash bursts of wind at range feels more aptly priced there and has degrees of failure regarding the negation of its additional effects. Just fyi - there are more items than the ones I mentioned in the review.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor typos and , considering the amount of different people involved in the creation of this pdf, a bit more streamlining of rules-language would have been nice - there are quite a few deviations from the standard, though most can be ignored and are cosmetic in nature. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a huge amount of beautiful line-drawn renditions of the specific items herein - impressive from an art-perspective! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Ths pdf is the work of a lot of authors: James Abendroth, Morgan Boehringer, Isaiah Burt, Kelce Casey, Byron Clark, Alexander W. Corrin, Chuck DiTusa, Robert Feather, J Gray, Phil Greeley, Ivan Havel, Sam Hing, JJ Jordan, Douglas “White Templar” Mawhinney, Jacob McCoy, David S. McCrae, Brian Minhinnick, Angel “A.R.M.R” Miranda, Sean McGowan, Dave Owens, Michael Riter, Matt Roth, Thiago Shinken, Jeffrey Swank, Anthony Torretti, Chris “Ne’er Do Well Games” Walter, Christopher Wasko. Folks, let's get right to it - overall, you did a great job. While not all items herein are perfect or brilliant, there are quite a few gems herein that warrant getting this collection of magic items. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Dragon's Hoard: Magic Arms & Armor
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Alternate Dungeons: Frigid Ice Cave
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 02:54:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Raging Swan Press' Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The frigid caves of eternal ice inspire anyone who has ever ventured atop a glacier and beyond that - as a dungeon backdrop, they present unique challenges, which this pdf is designed to address: With cliffs and their scaling DC, chasms and ice-sheets, ledges and levels, there is a lot of cool terrain to consider, all presented with tight and concise mechanics to back up the evocative imagery. Similarly, this acts as a concise GM-cheat sheet, listing the effects of environmental cold, starvation and supplies and crumbling columns and stalagmites, going so far to even include the dangers of ice-cold water.


As has become the tradition with this series, we do receive information regarding the sacking of the dungeon - from the mundane (deceased explorers) to sunken vessels and objects encased in ice, this section has a lot to offer in terms of considerations for the GM. Similarly evocative would be the section discussing the function of the caves - whether to act as a place that houses ancient guardians or an elemental conduit, the ideas are intriguing...or let's flip that, shall we? Perhaps the caverns are more hospitable and thus offer shelter to hibernating creatures...or are subject to a sympathy spell that may attract creatures...perhaps to recruit guardians or for more sinister purposes, only the GM knows and decides...


As always, the pdf does feature a dressing-table, here spanning a whole page - though the reader will grin here, probably more than elsewhere. Why? Because the table sports a plethora of rules-relevant modifications - whether it's chilly blankets of mist, unstable ice that can be detected by Knowledge (engineering) or ominous stalactites that threaten to fall (and potentially crush the floor) in response to loud noises - this table goes one step beyond and is a joy to read.


Now the sample denizen section sports the usual suspects from frost giants to remorhazes and yetis, yes, but the pdf also features the wendigo and in some cases offers apt guidelines that even veteran GMs may use. Have you ever thought about reskinning goblins to be blue-skinned (no, they don't have to have psionics as per this pdf...but while we're at it...why not?) walrus-riders? Yeah, me neither.


Where the pdf goes the extra mile would be with the rather evocative hazards-section -from avalanches to cracking ice ledges and chilling winds to ice that acts like mirrors of life trapping, this page alone may be worth the fair asking price for the mundane and magical hazards collated.


Finally, we end this pdf with 3 adventure hooks - incursions by frothing mad yetis would be well...but what if a wendigo chased survivors to a dead-end, to watch them struggle and either become ghoulish undead or food to their erstwhile brethren? Yeah, that makes for an evocative survival adventure. Oh, and have I mentioned the dread gnomish necromancer demanding tribute, carrying his undead hordes in the belly of an undead worm to discipline settlements that fail to provide their tribute? Yep, these hooks are versatile and well-crafted.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features several nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer and both are bookmarked for your convenience.


Daron Woodson's frigid ice caves are a truly wondrous, wonderful environment to adventure in - whether it's via Frog God Games Northlands Saga, AAW Games' Rybalka or a similar environment, I can't wait to whip out this well-crafted pdf to supplement my next icy dungeon. Evocative, considerate and well-crafted as a whole and in the respective details, this is a shining example for the virtues of the series. It also shows how exceedingly useful this product line can be - for a ridiculously low price, you have great cheat sheets and all the tools to craft yourself...or simply reskin an otherwise less than interesting adventure. A fantastic supplement, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Frigid Ice Cave
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The Geomancer's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/02/2016 02:53:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first sphere-specific expansion book for Drop Dead Studios' excellent Spheres of Power-system clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After an aptly-written piece of introductory prose, we dive into the sphere magic here, which begins with the option-array for metal geomancing via the nature sphere, allowing the spherecaster to draw forth metal from the ground and featuring a rather neatly-detailed table. Have I mentioned that this has the options to magnetize metal and throw it, with maximum item-size influenced and governed by level? On a more critical side (haha) - per concentration, metal weapons may be influences as a standard action to increase threat range, though thankfully featuring anti-abuse caveats. At the cost of an additional spell point, metal geomancy allows the object drawn forth from the earth to take the shape of a closer approximation of the respective weapon or ammunition you seek to duplicate. Similarly, making blades or similar weaponry a kind of magnetized sentry (anti-abuse caveat provided) or forming temporarily your weapon into a whip-like version of itself that can be used to better sunder/disarm/etc. can be considered visually impressive, novel options. Interesting indeed. I am, however, somewhat weary of the hemoglobin ability - allowing for at range Con-damage that also draws forth ore - sure, mechanically generally sound...but still, a pretty nasty one, particularly at lower levels, even with save to negate. Using your command of magnetism to have objects rebound to other targets is interesting. For spell points, you may also temporarily gain the stalwart ability (not StalwarD, as the pdf calls it) and since it's tied to a resource, I actually am not complaining about it for once- but more interesting, at least to me, would be advanced talents to grant objects regeneration 1 (acid) and yes, fire-forged, frost-forged and similar materials are reprinted for your convenience, which is nice -said holistic approach can btw. be found throughout the book, making it pretty user-friendly.


The nature sphere does receive new talents - beyond foggy acid rain, there is a means of aggravating foes...that made me very happy. Why? Because, well, instead of reinventing the wheel here, the pdf takes Everyman Gaming's excellent antagonize-mechanics from Ultimate Charisma and runs with them...which is rather awesome. On a formal and purely aesthetic side, I noticed some slight deviations from presentation standards: There are e.g. DCs like 14+1/2 HD + WIS modifier noted - when usually, you'd write "Wisdom modifier", but oh well - my joy about actually getting hardness and hp of pummeled branches and the like supersede this. Heating or cooling metal and/or water, creating lava or nature barriers in transparent or opaque material (from e.g. leaves or wood, glass or stone) - the options are neat. Beyond these, the pdf does sport combo tricks: Like adding sticky resin to plants, smoke to fires...and yep, there is a balanced fast healing option as well, one that can't get you above 1/2 health...


On the advanced talents-side, the pdf goes all out - with freezing geysers (fire, water, geomancing), the insubstantial condition...and yes, you may draw forth geomancy-born elementals with your power. Better yet - after two rituals, the pdf also sports two detailed incantations and information on hallowed druid circles. So, let's recap from here: We can now actually play with Magneto's tricks - so far, so cool!


The book continues to provide new material beyond that: The archaic alchemist is a Mid-Caster using Int and gains a magic talent each level, sporting also a discovery that allows the class to take hedgewitch secrets...and yep, this replaces alchemy. The warden armorist gets a modified skill list, 4+Int skills per level and may only wear "natural" armor. Instead of quick summons and armor training, the archetype receives the nature sphere (full character level = class level) and also sports an auto-confirm for crits, +1 crit multiplier and disarm-immunity as a capstone. The arsenal tricks introduced are intriguing and make use of material from Dreamscarred Press' excellent Ultimate Psionics, though reproduced herein for your convenience...and yeah, the material is NICE.


The Geosurveyor would be a cool nature-sphere/ranger-crossover with favored packages and is nice. The totemist soul weaver receives a channel devoted to balance: the wounded are healed, the hale are bleeding - with 1/2 max hit points being the threshold and the archetype does get the option use channel balance to add buffs, so-called totem-marks...which can then be dispersed for different boosts...and yes, the playstyle here is pretty awesome. The Yamabushi would be an unchained monk low-caster with a limited spell pool instead of ki, which is also used for powering ki-based abilities.


The pdf also sports feats that emphasize the combo-potential: Alloy Creation allows for the blending of creation and metal geomancing; what about better metal geomancy/telekinesis combo-potential? Bonuses when drawing upon both earth and water - interesting. There are a couple of minor hiccups here, though: The feat that grants access to alchemist formulae has this sentence, for example: "You must spend have a caster level with the entire Nature sphere equal to..." - the "spend" is obviously a hiccup and one that does make the feat slightly more opaque than it should be. Or perhaps you want to hurl burning plantlife at foes? Yup, possible. The traits are also nice and properly codify trait subtype - kudos!


The supplement also sports new magic armor and weapon abilities - shields with vines granting limited DR, entangling critical hits - the ideas here fit VERY well. Menhirs and trilithons codified as wondrous items may sound cool. The pdf also uses Legendary Item-rules, as pioneered by Purple Duck Games (a formula later used by Dreamscarred Press), here slightly erroneously attributed to DSP as the original source. Anyways, the Changestaff of the Oakling Prince still constitutes an awesome magic item that increases in power over the wielder's levels.


The pdf also sports a bestiary-section, where we are introduced to the Geomancy Elemental Born-template (CR+1) with a sample elemental and multiple Wyrgrove creatures as well as the CR 15 apocalypse rot grub swarm closing the book on a rather high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, but not as tight as I would have liked - there are some minor, mostly aesthetic divergences from standardized rules-language, with a couple potentially slightly making the material a bit more opaque. Layout adheres to a green-tinted, nice two-column full-color standard with a couple of great full-color pieces I have not seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This is the first of the patreon-based Spheres of Power-expansions and penned by Derfael Oliviera...and unless I am sorely mistaken, this is the first book by the author I have read...and it sure is damn impressive! Considering the complex subject matter of metal-interaction and tricks this pdf requires, the rules-language is often complex and shows some distinct talent. Even in the more flawed instances, the pdf still manages to get across what's intended and, more importantly, the pdf lacks truly problematic components. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of the 1/2-max-HP-bloodied style-mechanics since they constitute yet another number to track, but there is precedence for those...and when the pdf uses them, they are justified by the unique things the pdf does.


Speaking of which: While certainly not perfect, this book actually proved to be rather inspired in that it does unique things: A whole bunch of options herein simply cannot be reproduced by vancian magic and that is a HUGE plus for me; the combo-tricks and specializations further exonerate this pdf. The complex tricks juggled and overall smart choices made this, as a whole, a more than worthwhile addition to Spheres of Power...and yes, if you're like me and always wanted to play a Magneto-style character...well, this is it! That being said, this is also one of the cases where I simply can't rate the pdf as high as I'd like to - the hiccups are there. BUT: At the same time, this book sports basically all those cool subsystems I like (and yes, you can use them sans having their sources) - whether it's the brilliant antagonize, legendary items or incantations...for me, this increased the usefulness of the book...and it always gives credit where credit is due. With reprints of e.g. swarm traits in a statblock for your convenience, this is a surprisingly user-friendly expansion. So how to rate this, then? Well, in the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 due to the glitches...but considering how much I actually downright love in this book, I will still slap my seal of approval on this, despite the rough patches.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Geomancer's Handbook
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Class Expansions - Onmyoji Archetypes
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:49:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This inexpensive expansion for the superb Onmyōji-class clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with two pages for the archetypes, so let's take a look!


The first of the archetypes (both of which sport a brief paragraph of well-written fluff, just fyi) would be the Grinning Fox. Instead of aid of the minor kami ability, these fellows may choose an at-will cantrip and an at-will orison each day. Additionally, at 1st level, these guys get the Cha-based SP to cast lesser confusion twice a day...and grow their first fox tail, from now on counting as kitsune for purposes of e.g. the Magical Tail feat. The grinning fox receives spirit points equal to his class level plus Charisma modifier and replenishes these after 8 hours rest/meditation. At 2nd level, instead of gaining a shikigami, these folks gain Magical Tail as a bonus feat for the first time, gaining the feat an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. If the grinning fox already has the feat 8 times, he may instead choose one SP granted by it and increase daily uses for said SP by +1. I really like this archetype - in less "magical" worlds, this allows a player to undergo basically a kitsune-like apotheosis without introducing the race, while in high fantasy campaigns, it adds an interesting dimension to the interaction with kitsune: Do they frown upon Grinning Foxes? Encourage them? Perhaps even create them? Nice one!


The second archetype would be more complex - the Herald of the Lucky God. These guys exclusively specialize on one of the lucky gods - the lucky gods are listed including their dominions, but here's the catch - you get the petition of the lucky god you have chosen as a bonus petition as soon as you meet the prerequisites...however, you may never learn the petitions of the other lucky gods. Similarly, whenever the herald gains a class level and meets the prerequisites for the friendship feat associated with the chosen lucky god, he automatically receives it - once again, gods and associated friendship feats are listed for your convenience. This ability replaces aid of the minor kami. The archetype also learns an unique trick: At 3rd level, the herald learns the so-called Lucky God's Cantrip of the associated deity - and no, this is no 0-level spell. Instead, the abilities are either extraordinary or supernatural abilities, The abilities generally fit rather well with the respective theme of the lucky god chosen: Benzaiten, for example, grants all Knowledge skills as class skills and allows for untrained use of them. Daikokuten gets a pocket dimension that can hold one object of up to 5 lbs. (Hammerspace!), while e.g. Bishamonten grants an insight bonus to atk and AC when readying an action that is then wasted. While I'd champion a scaling bonus for the latter, you see that the abilities are pretty creative! Have I mentioned "Frequent Dier" that pays for a part of the costs of the spells that returned the character to life? If you're a DM like me, this will be used OFTEN. And yes, this got a chuckle out of me.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf provides stock photography of a rendition of the lucky gods, fitting exceedingly well. The pdf has no bookmarks, but frankly, needs none at this length.


So Alexander Augunas obviously had to sneak a kitsune-themed...wait. Wrong company and author, so sorry! ;P


Kidding aside, Bradley Crouch's expansion of the absolutely SUPERB, brilliant, genius, awesome, buy it now-level of greatness onmyōji-class is short, sweet and to the point. For a single buck, you get two well-made archetypes that certainly enrich the game and add new dimensions to the glorious base class. While I'm not completely blown out of the water by this expansion, it is still an excellent addition, which, at the ridiculously low $1-pricetag, is a no-brainer. MY final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


P.s.: Get that base class!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions - Onmyoji Archetypes
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Four Horsemen Present: Alien Races - Sokura
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2016 05:48:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Four Horsemen Present-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The sokura's depiction as a race is more intriguing that one would assume - featuring post-existential philosophy as well as perfect pitch, these somewhat feline, quadruped creatures are akin to centaurs with rhinoceros-like skin. Their tribal culture is intriguing in its blend of science and a scoietal structure generally codified as primitive, creating a distinct area of tension between the two poles and generating thus interest and narrative potential in a surprisingly concise depiction that left me curious for more details regarding the culture of the sokura, which is further enhanced by a kind of infatuation with weaponry and a polygamous and polyamorous structure to their relationships. Similarly, the blend of avian, feline and centaur-like traits is intriguing.


Racial trait-wise, Sokura may choose one ability score to which +2 is added, are four-legged with a base speed of 40 ft. and +4 to CMD, always treat Perform as a class skill (and gain +2 to said checks) and are treated as though subject to know direction while on a planet. This one imho should have been codified as SP or Ex and I assume from the text that this does not work while in space, but I'm not sure. Sokura can go up to 3 days sans water, 10 sans food without having to make starvation checks. They may also, as a standard action and a Perform-check versus DC 15 share a teamwork feat with 1 ally for 1 round per HD they have...which is pretty powerful for a racial ability. They are proficient with sokura blaster rifles. As far as alternate race traits are concerned, two are provided: Offworlder sokura replace the food/water-related hardiness with +2 to Diplomacy and +1 known language. Prodigy sokura replace the teamwork feat sharing with the Technologist feat.


Thankfully, the race comes with random starting ages, height and weight (with entries for both regular and offworlder sokura) and the race is smart in that it codifies sokura as medium, thus avoiding the large-creature-issues and undersized weapon-requirements of the centaurs. The pdf sports 3 racial feats: Survivor provides temperature adaption as well as a further increase of the time during which they do not need to eat/drink/etc. The other two feats are Sixth Sense, which nets blindsense 10 ft. (with a prereq of Blind-Fight) and its bigger cousin, which grants blindsense 30 ft. and blindsight 5 ft. The race also provides FCOs for bard, cavalier, fighter, gunslinger, ranger and skald - no complaints there.


The pdf also provides racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Honored Nomad cavalier, which modifies proficiencies to cover simple and martial weapons, firearms, bucklers and light armor and are locked into the order of the nomad at 1st level. Instead of a mount, these sokura get +10 ft. movement as well as Endurance. Speaking of the order of the nomad - the order provides +2 to AC versus AoOs from the challenge, increasing +2 for every four levels the cavalier has. Class skills are Perception and Survival. At 2nd level, the order increases starting attitude by +1 and penalizes the Bluffing against him from friendly or helpful creatures. At 8th level can, as an extraordinary ability, calm emotions of a creature as a full-round action, with a duration that is only maintained while the sokura maintains the expenditure of the required action. Making the save versus the ability offers a means of increasing attitude of the creature affected, though the spamming of the ability is impossible due to a hex-like once per 24 hours per creature caveat. At 15th level, Diplomacy can even be used sans shared language and foes are penalized depending on their attitude towards the cavalier. Over all, a cool idea - tying attitudes with combat-relevant abilities is a pretty rare approach.


The Mind Singer skald replaces Scribe Scroll with 10 ft. per class level via telepathy - but only one creature at a given time. Similarly, the raging songs granted by the archetype are hive-mind themed, enhancing the Will of the listeners and providing a telepathic song that grants telepathy to allies as well as sharing teamwork feats at higher levels. 10th level allows for the touching of foes to detect thoughts (immediately 3 rounds of concentration) - nice. 14th level does overshoot the target a bit for less powerful campaigns, allowing for the sharing of a single skill or feat, though at least targets still must meet the prerequisites, which prevents this from being OP. Odd: The honored nomad and mindsinger's headers sport different formatting choices.


The pdf provides two new weapons, the clay shard blades and the sokura blaster rifle (with a nice b/w-artwork). The pdf concludes with advice on how to use the sokura and a sample CR 1/2 vanilla skald (sans archetype), including the neat cover artwork.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - beyond the inconsistency regarding header formatting, this pdf has an odd layout-glitch: The first page sports the standard color background...and about half of the page instead has a white background. This is a cosmetic glitch, though. Layout, apart from aforementioned glitch, adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and sports solid artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Tim Hitchcock's Sokura are an interesting race - though one that does deviate in very minor instances from some established formatting choices. When I looked at the cover, I expected a mess - quite frankly, I have not seen a single quadruped race that truly works...or manages to address the ladder/large-creature-issues properly. The sokura, by virtue of ignoring their extra limbs for all but their base speed, manage to avoid the obvious multiple-arms- and size-issues, which is smart. More importantly, the tidbits we get on their culture actually are intriguing and exciting - they feel ALIEN and still sensible.


The tactician-lite racial ability may upset games that are predicated on more conservative racial stats, but at the same time, the race, as a whole, can be considered on par with the more powerful races like tiefling, aasimar, etc. Personally, I would have codified the ability-types of some abilities a bit differently, but that can be chalked up to mostly personal preference. So is the race good? Well, it's better than the brevity would suggest - it manages to depict a race that feels unique and more than a collection of stats an crunch - which is ultimately the most important component of a race and more than I can say about many racial supplements. Still, personally, I had a strange feeling that the sokura were intended as a psionic race - the mind-song and concepts feel like they could have easily tied in with Ultimate Psionics, considering how the rules in said book have established, precise rules for psionic collectives. A psionic variant at least would have been great to see, though I will not penalize the pdf for the omission of the like.


In the end, this is a nice, if brief, racial supplement that manages to rise above the average racial supplement, but also falls short of the potential of the race, mostly due to the brevity of the book. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Alien Races - Sokura
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