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Glavost: A Fairy Tale Village
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2016 06:34:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This supplement clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Before we do, though: Since this is Playground Adventures: This village featured first in the absolutely, I can't emphasize this enough, STELLAR "Pixies on Parade"-module - I VERY MUCH suggest getting this module! As for age-range, I consider this appropriate for ages 4 and up if the kid in question is pretty mature; more sensitive kids can consider some components a bit more creepy, but ages 6 and up should do just fine and in fact, enjoy this - much like several of my most beloved childhood movies, there is darkness herein - it makes the fight worthwhile. And yes, much like e.g. Secrets of Nimh and similar movies, this has resonated with me as an adult as well.


That out of the way, what is Glavost? Glavost is, first of all, a fully detailed fantasy village, complete with settlement statblock and precise information on key locales. It is, as the name suggests, also a village very much in line with traditional fairy-tale narratives of the more whimsical kind: The place is notoriously haunted by gremlins, for example, which, while not honestly believed in, act as convenient excuses to blame for issues. Situated next to a fairy forest, the lavishly mapped village (featuring a full-color isometric map) has a tradition of a pixie parade (see my review of the module) and thus, one fairy-ring sporting isometric map of the way through the forest is also provided. While we do not get primers on local nomenclature or sample events/sights & sounds like in Raging Swan Press' village settlements, Glavost has different additional content, namely creatures. If you've read my review of Pixies on Parade, you may already be familiar with the threat of the Nightmare King


This little book sports quite an array of low CR, whimsical creatures - like the monkey-like Cerecopes (CR 5) that is an excellent thief and has a long, whipping tail, the conflict-inducing Deckit (CR 2) gremlins, the water-contaminating Rotah (CR 2) gremlins or stats for the fairy godmother (CR 8)we know so well from numerous fairy tales -including, obviously magic wand. The sleep-inducing mahr (CR 3) heals when in the presence of the sleeping and can cause night terrors with its bite and the primary antagonist the PCs could save in Pixies on Parade can also be found here - both he and the nightmare avatar had their stats reprinted for completion's sake...though more interestingly, we get full stats for the dread Nightmare King himself (CR 11)...as well as his triumphant, ascended and rather lethal mythic iteration! (CR 14/MR 5)


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Playground Adventure's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and all new creatures herein with the exception of the Nightmare King receive gorgeous artworks in Jacob Blackmon's style - and the mahr in particularly is rather cute in a twisted sort of way. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the maps, though featured before, have lost nothing of their splendor. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Stephen Rowe's Glavost is a great town - it's unique, captures its theme perfectly well and sports superb artwork. However, it does not fully reach the level of detail of Raging Swan Press' village backdrops - some more detailed information on clothing-habits, names and the like along some sample encounters would have gone a long way, particularly considering that the new gremlins herein practically beg to be asked in conjunction with Pixies on Parade. Similarly, if you expected an expansion to the concept of imagination magic, I'll have to disappoint you. Still, as a stand-alone, this works rather well. Know how it works even better, though? If you consider this the extended cut version-expansion for Pixies on Parade. I would have loved to have this pdf when I ran the module, for the new creatures herein demand being used in the beginning of the module and the nightmare king stats can make for a cool super-boss (perhaps after a further temporary level-upgrade) or even for a sequel. I really like everything in here...but I've liked a lot back in Pixies on Parade. If you get this, be aware that there's a lot of overlap between the two, though this pdf is obviously more detailed. If you don't mind that and plan on running Pixies on Parade, then get this NOW. If you do mind, you may want to consider the decision a bit more carefully, though the price-point is low and fair as far as I'm concerned.


Personally, I enjoyed the new critters herein enough and the means for expanding the narrative and to craft your own sequel for the superb module are certainly appreciated - now excuse me, I need to start writing...oh, final verdict? Hmm, that's a tough one. As mentioned before, if overlaps between books annoy, you, detract a star...if, however, you want a fairy-tale village with gorgeous maps and some thematically-fitting critters to accompany it, or if you want to add more oomph to Pixies on Parade, then this is for you and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glavost: A Fairy Tale Village
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Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Magic Expanded
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2016 06:32:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Four Horsemen present-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, mythic magic expanded? But didn't Legendary Games already cover mythic versions of all spells? Well, thankfully, this pdf does offer something different, namely magical traditions based on mythic feats.


Unfortunately, the very first of these traditions already opens pretty much a can of whoop-ass issues: Blood Magic's the feat's name, and it allows you to deal damage to yourself to cast mythic bloodline spells sans expenditure of mythic power. Okay, does the damage affect/require concentration? Three: This makes mythic spellcasting of bloodline spells significantly less limited and based on HP as opposed to being based on the most coveted resource available in mythic game play. This may be less of a problem when playing vanilla mythic gameplay, but if you're like most GMs I know that dabble in the mythic, you'll be using Legendary Games' massive collections of mythic spells, which amps the power up by a bit - for the default-options if no mythic spell exists is to add either +2 to the DC and CL to overcome SR or making it hard to counter (-4 dispel check; needs mythic power to counter).


...okay, the feat will be heavily regulated at my table...but the tradition of Blood Sacrifice? Damn yes, it will come up- ALL THE TIME. The concise codifying of sacrifice of beings with bloodlines is awesome - though I really wished it's codification extended to creature-types and wasn't limited to bloodlines/mythic beings. I really love this one, as it provides in-game justification for kidnapping creatures of powerful bloodlines/destinies. Speaking of the topic - there is no single big resource on blood magic out there...designers, think about that!


The second tradition's feat, Mortal Faith delimits divine spells from the divine source path ability - as long a worshiper has line of sight to you, you no longer expend mythic power, though augmenting still does cost it. This one is pretty brutal, but I can see it work, even though it can be cheesed by having anything even remotely resembling Leadership. The wonderful aspect here, though, is that this one's tradition codifies the rituals of believers (the more, the better) in a concise and awesome fashion. For making the trope of the believers gathering and praying versus the approaching devastation work alone, this should be in the arsenal of any mythic GM.


Any good GM knows that there is power in the weaving of narratives and similarly, every great storyteller has held this as true - thus, it is my ardent pleasure to report that the act of Storytelling, represented by feat and tradition, coupled with Perform (Oratory), makes an appearance here and codifies the narrative tradition as a powerful means of weaving magic - though I am weary of the DC 50 ability that lets you augment spells even when not meeting the tier requirements - this is just begging to cause problems in the long run and undermines the foundation of the few checks and balances in mythic - I strongly advise GMs to retain tier-prerequisites, in spite of requiring a crowd of 100+ listeners to pull off...heroes with leadership can theoretically get that done rather easily. More elegant would have been simply a scaling mechanism that provides incremental means of surpassing the augment-cap in small steps, requiring ever more listeners (and logistical trouble) to avoid abuse in Leadership-heavy campaigns and prevent low tier characters cheesing it. Other than that, a cool one.


The next one would be Sigil Carving...EDIT: And here, one can see a great example of author-support: The original iteration of the feat had a problematic exploit, which has since then been taken care of - which is awesome indeed and establishes designer Stephen Rowe as an author who is not only a joy to discuss with, but also as someone who deeply cares about his work. Kudos indeed, particularly since the accompanying magical tradition is GOLD and allows for the addition of unique benefits to teh respective items. Kudos indeed!


The next one would also be based on Crafting, but thankfully does not suffer from such glaring issues - Craft Monument allows you to create powerful...monuments that freely enhance regular spells to mythic levels and represent an iconic, cool take on shaping a given campaign world - the means required and the solid rules conspire to make this one all awesome. Oh, two sample ones are included in the deal. Again, iconic...now can we have kingdom building-synergy? Pretty please?


Finally, there would be Warding Circles, which can be made to trap outsiders and thus represent, significantly more concisely than certain spells, with creation-rules being concise and well-presented. The often-featured plot-device of the trapped powerful outsider makes much more sense in this context - oh, and binding the summoned outsider does come with concise social interaction rules as well - nice, no complaints here!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues to speak of in those departments. The pdf adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and sports solid stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Stephen Rowe is a capable designer, but mythic rules are brutal and rather unforgiving: The very precarious balance of mythic rules needs some serious respect to avoid devolving into full-blown number-escalations and infinite exploits. There's a reason Legendary Games made a handy little book called Mythic Solutions...and when LG began publishing mythic content, there was a learning curve there as well.


Now this pdf, on one hand, is absolutely INSPIRED. The traditions and their concepts are downright brilliant in every way. At the same time, though, there are some components, namely feats, herein that can potentially cause significant issues with the central balance tenets, the few of them mythic rules have, mind you - and break said tenets. Bypassing augment tier-requirements based on audience-size, for example, is something that can be cheesed if your players are like mine and very excited about Leadership. That being said, the most glaring of exploits has been eliminated and what remains are scenarios, which, while sometimes circumstantially cheeseable, remain very much valid and only potentially problematic in very specific constellations.


So, let me state this loud and clear:


This is wonderful and inspired and I LOVE, I ADORE the traditions themselves - they are cool, evocative, awesome....but the flaws of some components also are there. The supplemental feats sport some components that can, in a fraction of games, lead to issues, though the big problem has been, as mentioned above, been taken care of.


If I didn't love just about everything in this book barring the issues, I'd quite frankly complain more.


As provided, this pdf oscillates between the most brilliant lights in the guise of high-concept tradition as well as some less radiant flecks interspersed. While I cannot recommend this as mechanical perfection due to aforementioned fringe-cases, I absolutely adore the respective traditions and how they are presented: Evocative and crunchy, sans devolving into pure number-fests, always breathing the spirit of high concept tricks. It is my love of the concepts and my sincere hope to see more of them, that makes me settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform - but I also have to expend a mythic surge to slap my seal of approval on this - hard. The concepts of the traditions and their respective execution is inspired.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Magic Expanded
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Call to Arms: Torch and Flame
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/04/2016 03:54:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, I never thought I'd be one time in my career be reviewing a 40-page pdf that focuses on flames and torches. So what do we get? Well, following the at this time slowly arising standard of the series, we begin with a well-researched recapitulation of the history of fire as tool and weapon - as much as that is feasibly possible, mind you. For such a basic process, and one obviously popularized and charged with symbolic significance by the Dark Souls-series, it is pretty much surprising to research lighting fires and what the rules say on it - which is not much. In one of the trademark "why hasn't this been done before"-moments, we are introduced to simple, concise rules for lighting fires, with a simple nomenclature: Sparks, tinder, kindling, fuel, embers. The rules are simple, easy to grasp, accounts for burning objects and provides easily inserted rules that don't unnecessarily complicate matters - instead, we get concise precision, which extends to A LOT of examples for sparks, tinder, etc. - and similarly, the pdf collates the rules for extinguishing fires. And yes, solid math supports this.


But beyond these components, the pdf sports two new materials - one would be fire-forged steel, which would be a subtype of steel that can channel heat away from the wielder, charging itself with fire when exposed to such...and no, it does not allow for flaming-abuse and actually has a kind of set-benefit when combined with armor made from the material. The second material would be the intrinsically magical pure fire, flames that have been solidified to the durability of metal - and yes, sans resistance or better, immunity, wielding such weapons or more stupid, wearing an armor made from the material, is just as hazardous as you'd expect. And yes, it can repair itself, is uniquely subject to antimagical effects and the like...and is simply interesting.


Now, as per the series' later issues, we also receive an excessive coverage of mundane materials that should have any low-fantasy gamer grin from ear to ear: From alcohol to fighting pitch or the flame fountain firework, there are a lot of interesting tools - including tabgleburn bags, keros oil, fuse grenades, flash powder...and even a catch-all entry for superheated substances. Similarly, tools of flames, from the classic bellows to amadou (highly flammable fungal material) to burning glasses, driptorchs and fire-resistant gloves - the tools of trade offered herein are diverse, detailed and offer a distinct, detailed dimension to firestarting you probably didn't know you needed...but reading this...well, you do.


Now this pdf also sports a rather diverse array of magical items associated with flames - these include powerful armors that can absorb a limited amount of magical fire as well as a broad array of items utilizing the unique pure fire material, often interacting with class abilities like rage. Always thought that the limitation of flaming and flaming burst regarding magic enhancements of your burning tools of death were kinda lame? Well, improved and greater versions and an enchantment that ignites foes complement the material herein...and similarly, there is a quenching ability. There is also a hammer that enhances the channel heat ability of azers, a balor lord's flaming whip and the like - even classics like the flametongue can be found reprinted here for your convenience. Braziers of conjuring fire elementals are similarly classics, but instant-campfire beads, everburning slow matches and the like can be considered to be interesting indeed. Need a fuse for underwater use? The fireless fuse with do the trick for appropriate underwater sabotage. Beyond goblin skull bombs and fire drums, variations of the necklace of (delayed blast) fireballs and the shirts of immolation provide an overall solid chapter. Cursed cloaks that immolate you, alternative spell-lists for staves of fire, Asha, the intelligent flame of truth - there are some intriguing components here. Speaking of cloaks and immolation - 3 mythic items, including the potentially explosion-causing cloak are also depicted in these pages.


The proverbial divine fire is also codified in this book as a minor artifact, which is pretty cool and iconic...however, as a whole, the item-section left me with a craving I needed time to identify - after careful consideration, I found what irked me. Torches and weaponized torch-like items - there is a distinct lack of them in a book that features them in the header. Okay, azer-hammers may be nice, but know what would have been cooler? Hollow meteor-hammers filled with burning chemicals. Magical battle-pois. A quarterstaff whose ends can ignite in different flames, with different properties. Now I'm not going to hold it against the pdf that its focus is on the more mundane torches and specifically, on flame - but some odd magical and mundane weapons in that category would have been the icing on the cake.


Oh, and then, there would be the handy rules-appendix, which codifies heat dangers, boiling water and steam, smoke effects, catching on fire and expands heated metal by providing 5 stages of heat, with modifications to hardness, damage while wearing it, damage to item caused and conditions incurred when used. Similarly nice: Molten material. Once again pure genius, though, would be the concise rules that allow for a fire hazard to be treated as pretty much a creature in combat, providing concise and captivating rules for encounters that are based on fire-control/escaping the flames, etc.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches that would truly hamper the content herein, though I did notice some minor formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has solid, nice full-color artwork. EDIT: The pdf now comes with bookmarks!


Lucus Palosaari has written a massive book on perhaps one of the most one-dimensional topics I could imagine - and he has wrested brilliance from its kindling-dry set-up. I expected to see heat-conductive material herein; even flame made into material. I expected the comprehensive, handy collection of material. What I did not expect, in any way, was how much I'd enjoy this supplement. From the firestarting-rules to the heating-stages of metal and finally, the rules for fire as a creature-like hazard to be fought - all supplemented by solid math, well-crafted components...wow.


You see, the subject matter isn't that versatile - what Lucus Palosaari has wrought from it is truly impressive to me: The alchemical items, magical items and the like are solid, sure, but alone they are, at least to me, as smart as they sometimes are, no book-sellers. Not even the smarter ones, though some "solid, but kind of unremarkable" ones can be found herein. But the three aforementioned innovations account for A LOT. Basically, this is the comprehensive fire-manual for Pathfinder and its brilliant components and ideas, sporting no less than 3 "why hasn't this been done before"-moments and to me, they even offset the annoying lack of bookmarks.


Let me state this clearly: This is a glorious resource on the theme of fire. I don't want to miss this book at my table anymore and it is really handy to have as a reference tome for GMs - I'll be consulting this time and again in the future. In particular survival-focused ´borderlands/wilderness-campaigns will have a field day with this book. That being said, I really do think the "torch"-component could have used some additional coverage and would have considered that more interesting than the fireball necklaces - but that's, in the end, my personal opinion and will thus not feature in the final verdict.


After some careful deliberation, my final verdict will clock in at EDIT: full 5 stars, +0.5 stars for the addition of bookmarks...missing my seal only by a tiny margin. This is an excellent resource I can recommend getting and a book that makes handling fires so much more compelling.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Torch and Flame
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Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Magic Items
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/04/2016 03:50:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Four Horsemen present-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1/2 page editorial, leaving us with 6.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this supplement with a collection of new legendary items, 4 to be precise. The first of these would be Hirasthe, a blade of hardened obsidian, driven to create sorrow, anguish and undermine morality - so the blade's a politician...Just kidding. Half. Kidding aside, the blade is a brilliant liar can use glibness and magic jar with surprising efficiency...and quite frankly, I can see an adventure where this blade, not the wielder, is the primary antagonist. That's a good thing, as it should serve well to drive home how well this evil blade is crafted. The mighty parapet is also rather interesting in that you can expend legendary power to make it basically form a square fortress of protection around the wielder - awesome and pretty cool. The Ring of Razors (provided in 5 variants from +1 to +5) and greatly enhances claw/grappling/natural attack capacity as well as offering legendary power based, bleeding damage causing barbed wire grapples. Love it! Oh, and since this is a Four Horsemen-product, we also get a damn cool classic: Wormwood. No, not the comic-series, but the staff/greatclub that has delightfully apocalyptic SPs as well as drain/damage/disease-etc.-suppression, as befitting a herald of the end-times.


We go on to 3 new mythic weapons - the first of which, the brush blade, can annihilate or heal vegetation. The crushing mallet can strike as a larger weapon and the scimitar quicksand discorporates into sand that enables for dirty trick combos, only to immediately recombine. The distracting plate may hypnotize foes, but it makes it hard to go unnoticed, while the sundering shield can reflexively sunder weapons unfortunate enough to strike it.


The pdf also sports a rather diverse array of mythic wondrous items: The Boots of Time and Space not only prevent slowing, they also allow for perfect Zero-G-navigation, while the cascading cloak, seemingly woven from fabric depicting a waterfall, can unleash such a torrent upon foes. A crown that enforces unworthy creatures to stay their distance, an iron locust figurine - nice! There would also be a variant on the hand of glory-theme, the hand of the rogue, which can be animated as a rather grisly master thief - particularly nice for groups lacking a more...let's say, discreet, character.


Scrivener's tools infused with the very authority and power of an empire can be utilized to draft truly compelling documents and there also is a book here that allows you to use CL to determine level-dependant variables, even if they exceed the cap of the spell - which can be a bit ugly. A mask that dishes out death and animates the victims as subservient undead will make for a fitting regalia for necromancer lords. There is also a helm that is narrative potential galore: The Unyielding helmet, which supersedes the need of allies to withdraw and actively compels them to stand their ground. Know that dwarven last stand? How those peasants held the fortress versus the screeching hordes of the undead? Well, this helmet may just be the reason they made it...but can you use such an item, even if it costs the lives of those thus forced to fight? Finally, the Wild Charm is basically a super amulet for nature-characters - skill-bonuses and improved senses are solid and possess companion makes for a solid, if somewhat unremarkable final item.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though once again, the bolding is off - the first paragraph of the items is bolded for no discernible reason, which is somewhat jarring on an aesthetic level. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard for the series and sports solid stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Steven T. Helt delivers in this pdf - the mythic items herein, for the most part, are truly intriguing - even in the case of items that traditionally act as spells in a can like staves, the book sport unique stories and benefits that elevate the items beyond the bland, gray default to something beautiful and evocative. While not all items herein reach the superb, lofty realms of excellence, the majority of them actually do, with only 3 ranging in the solid/good-but-none-too-remarkable category - that means this pdf consists mostly of evocative excellence, of fun concepts, some of which inspire by means of their very crunch and presentation -and what more can you ask from such a book? While the small flaws cost this my seal of approval, it is still an excellent pdf, well worth a final rating of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Magic Items
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Tome of Wicked Things 2
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/03/2016 05:33:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.25 pages of SRD, 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 supplement with the slasher base class, intended to allow for GMs to duplicate the gruesome sprees of Jason, Michael Myers etc. The base class receives d12, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor, full BAB-progression and, interestingly, good Will-saves. Slashers obviously need to be evil and are intended primarily as antagonists. A slasher begins play with the accursed ability, which nets a pool of curse points they can use to power their class abilities. Said points are interesting in that they can hold up to 2 times class level + Charisma modifier. They get +1 curse point when they see a creature die, +2 if they kill it themselves. Curse points refresh at the stroke of Midnight. I'd usually start my kitten-test-schtick right now...but in the case of this class, that seems kind of stupid. Yes, slashers WOULD kill kittens to replenish curse points.


Slashers instinctively understand every language, but cannot articulate any, being relegated to grunts, moans and the like. Also at first level, the slasher chooses a tragedy from 6 presented - these can be likened to bloodlines or orders in that they modify the list of class skills and, in some cases, proficiencies. Each such tragedy confers multiple boons upon the slasher, but also an array of weaknesses. Let's take a look at "Cursed One", as an example: These guys receive SR 11 + class level as well as an oracle's curse (with tongues being not allowed - nice catch!) - but weakness-wise, being targeted by a hex temporarily inverts their fast healing, dealing damage instead (this could be a bit more clearly spelled out) and wielding magic weapons whose bonus exceeds 1/3rd their level similarly sabotages their fast healing. Finally, each slasher has a preferred target - here, that would be any creature with a CL or at least 1 SP.


Knights of hell receives a mount and heavy armor (and tower shield) proficiency as well as an upgrade for the infernal template at 4th level. They are weak to holy symbols and good weapons and target non-evil creatures. The remorseless killer triples the amount of bleed damage caused and instantly kills creatures reduced to 0 HP, but they are weak to law-aligned weapons and symbols and target such creatures. The restless avenger never grows tired and needs no sleep and gains Endurance at 1st level. Any damage caused by the slasher renders the target tired for 3 rounds. They are weak to chaotic-aligned weapons and when they are reminded of their first act of vengeance...or subject to the tolling of bells. The seeker of power can duplicate a limited array of spells from the sorceror/wizard-list via curse points. Unfortunately, the ability is not specified as SP and thus, I have no idea which attribute governs the saves - I assume Charisma, but I'm not sure. If the slasher casts spells thus, he does take damage, though. They are weak to silver/cold iron and target outsiders. Finally, there would be the tortured child tragedy, which is immune to fear effects and increases the DC of such effects caused by +2. The tragedy also grants a level-based bonus to atk and damage versus creatures that are smaller. Their healing is inverted when hearing a baby cry, when they're confronted with a memento/effigy of the torturing parent and they target humanoids.


Also at 1st level, slashers receive a calling card - this has a 60 ft.-radius: Torches may double effectiveness and turn into weird colors. Weird melodies (Freddy comes a-knockin...) can penalize concentration, the chill of the grave or water turning into blood - these effects are not subtle...but they are cool...and can be suppressed as a swift action. Also at 1st level, the slasher receives a weapon of grief, in which he is automatically proficient. When wielding this weapon, slashers may expend one curse point to deal + Cha-mod damage versus good-aligned creatures noted in the preferred target-line of his tragedy.


At 2nd level, the class can deliver a single attack as a full-round action - if the attack hits, he deals 1 point of attribute damage or bleed damage, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. He may also expend curse points equal to the amount of this damage inflicted to accompany the first attack of a full attack to add said effect to the first attack. This ability could be a tad more precise in its wording. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the slasher may choose one of the talents of the class: These include more weapons of grief, Bleeding Critical, hideous laughter (not properly italicized) as a curse point-based SP. (Yes, this one gets SP and CL right.) One talent also allows for instant healing as a response to seeing a nearby creature killed. Literally feeding on fear (and even healing via fear) and an option to go unnoticed as well as the option to hamstring foes can be found herein. And yes, with the right talent, slashers can detach their head or double the range of their calling card. Off-screen teleportation into a hiding place/concealment is represented by curse point-based dimension door, oddly not codified as Sp, but as Su, which means that CL-info and the like is slightly problematic here. Higher level slashers may deal both attribute damage and bleed damage at once. Oh, and there would be the option to force killed targets to emit a scream, resulting in AoE-demoralize. Invisibility as an SP is also nice and a second calling card is fun as well. Hunting down specific creatures and reflexive teleport to stand behind doors, curtains etc. complement some cool, if not always perfect abilities.


At 3rd level, the slasher gets a scaling short-range fear aura. At 4th level, the slasher gains fast healing 1 as long as he has at least 1 curse point. Fats healing increases by +1 at 8th level, +1 every four levels thereafter. The inversion of fast healing noted in the tragedies deals twice the fast healing's amount as damage, btw. 5th level nets 30 ft. lifesense (blindsight, only for living creatures) and 10th level provides 1/day a free reflexive raise dead. As a capstone, this rising from the grave instead works via true resurrection within minutes (instead of raise dead's hour-countdown)...oh, and the slasher sends his victims straight to an evil-aligned underworld...and killing creatures nets the slasher HD of creature killed x2 HP.


The pdf also introduces a new races, the Grinn - 7ft. tall boogeymen with elongated limbs and digits and look somewhat like walking corpses - they may be rather eloquent...or brutal killing machines. Grinn obviously are fey, suffer from light sensitivity, get low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft and get +1 to Intimidate and Knowledge (Nobility), which also are always class skills for them. This can be replaced by more nasty grims that champion slaughter with 2 1d4 claw-attacks - I assume the default her, but specifying primary/secondary would have been nice. Their defining, eponymous feature, though, would be their dreadful smile. This is a mind-affecting fear-effect that works like a gaze attack and causes targets to be temporarily shaken, with a hex-24-hour cool down, but also scaling DC. Nice balance between keeping the gaze relevant and preventing spamming here. The race does feature age. height and weight-tables, which is neat to see. The pdf also sports 4 feats for the Grinn, which unlock a smile that panics/paralyzes at balance-wise appropriate levels (kudos!), free Intimidates after hitting with both claws and the scent-quality, but only for creatures suffering from fear-effects.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay, though I've seen Little Red Goblin Games do better in that regard - there are some typos, abilities not properly classified as SP when they obviously should be that and similar minor hiccups in the rules-language, though admittedly, they tend not to influence the feasibility of the respective material. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson and Ian Sisson have crafted a book... that I like more than I should. Quite frankly, this book hits a couple of things that usually irk me to no end - small imperfections that just...gall me. But know what? For once, I honestly don't care that much. Why? Because I'm a huge horror-fan (d'uh!) and have seen more slasher-flicks than I can shake a stick at - actually, I've analyzed quite a few of them properly...but that's for another topic. The slasher herein is interesting, because it captures rather well in mechanic terms how those killers operate. The class also does a great job mirroring the impeccable advance of the slasher, meaning the class can work in player hands in an evil game...though its class featured can be cheesed...by design.


The odd thing here is that I'm not 100% positive whether this is aimed at players or at GMs - for the GM-side, the class may actually be a bit too balanced for its own sake. For the player-side, I abhor the kitten-cheese of curse-point-replenishment, particularly when an easy tying of the curse point replenishment to the tragedy's preferred victims would have offset that. Similarly, I love the more creative, narrative weaknesses (tolling of bells, etc.) but while I consider the alignment-based ones balance-wise justified, they fall somewhat behind in visuals and potential. This class leaves me very much torn.


Regarding the grinn - well, here, I have nothing to complain: The race should work in all but the most low-powered of games and is evocative in its fluff. While I wished it had some FCOs for good measure, I enjoy the race and look forward to using it when I one day get to run e.g. Richard Pett's The Blight.


How to rate this, then? See, here, things become VERY difficult for me. Craftsmanship-wise, there is a lot to love...and quite a bit to dislike as well. So I'll leave this up to you, my readers: If you want perfect craftsmanship and minor hiccups in the abilities irk you, then you will probably consider this to be a 3 star-file. If you're looking for a scavenging ground of ideas and crunchy tricks, then this will certainly deliver - for you, this will probably be a 4-star file. Similarly, if you're playing an evil campaign and both you and your GM are fine with gentlemen's agreements/minor modifications, this will do its job well and should be considered as a nice, inexpensive purchase. My final verdict will thus fall in-between, at 3.5 stars...and because I really enjoy the grinn and the subject matter, I will round up.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Wicked Things 2
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100% Crunch: Kobolds
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/03/2016 05:30:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The latest installment of Raging Swan press' handy collections of statblocks clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice GMs, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Well, first of all, the pdf explains a bit about the basics of kobolds and then goes on to provide a handy list of statblocks by CR - beginning with CR 1/6 for young kobolds and scaling (haha) up to CR 6 for senior kobold inquisitors. The pdf does feature the basic racial stats for kobolds and covers quite a breadth of characters, also sporting kobolds utilizing NPC-classes.


Both kobold adepts and noncombatant commoners can be found herein, for example. Similarly, even kobold skeletons or zombies are featured within this little book. Now as for class dispersal, it's actually beyond what you'd expect - while obviously, the rank-and-file kobolds sport the warrior/adept NPC-classes, we also are introduced to kobold monks, inquisitors and oracles in various degrees of prowess.


Furthermore, the pdf actually provides stats for crucial specialists - What about medium-sized giant kobold champions? Bodyguards or mining specialists? Well, there would also be foraging experts and scouts (using the ranger class or multiclassing warrior/expert) and the obvious draconic bloodline sorceror is covered as well. And yes, there are fighters herein. What about a bard using the dragon yapper archetype or a half-dragon (blue) multiclass kobold? Yes, from the common to the weird, this pdf strikes a nice balance between classic kobold tropes.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though not as perfect as usual for Raging Swan Press - there seems to be an internal inconsistency on whether or not to bold the separating lines that divide the section of the statblocks into attack, defense etc. - some are bold, some aren't, which looks slightly weird. Artwork-wise, we get cool b/w-artworks and layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports two versions, one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.


Julian Neale's collection of kobold statblocks is precise, diverse and nice, with particularly the specialists (giant kobolds? templates ones? NICE!) rising above the fray. While I was somewhat surprised to not see a lot of rogues herein, I get the decision to instead go via experts etc. and it makes sense to me. All in all, this is an excellent, inexpensive collection of kobold statblocks - and for the low price point, you sure get a lot of work taken off your back. This is enough for me to arrive at a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
100% Crunch: Kobolds
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Knowledge Check: 9 Funerary Rites
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/03/2016 05:28:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Knowledge Check-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!


There are theories out there that argue that mankind is defined by two conflicting notions and forces dragging us onwards to life - a striving for love and a striving for death, to oversimplify the terms of Eros and Thanatos unduly with all their ramifications - apologies for that, but we're here for a review and I am perfectly willing to engage in discussion with you, should you choose to. Back to the review - it is fascinating in such a context, that ultimately most human culture develop a stigmatization of the representation of one of these forces, a tabooization, if you will. No offense is meant by this, but e.g. traditional, extremely conservative takes on Sexuality in America would be one such example - on the other side, Thanatos, a fascination with violence and lack of censure thereof can be seen in that culture, with Europe and Japan, as two prominent examples, exhibiting the inverse - much to my chagrin, I have to import quite a few games intended for adults, in spite of me being a mature person - why? Because violent scenes get cut and I LOATHE any type of censure. On the plus-side, I do not suffer any problems getting erotic material.


Where am I going with this overblown introduction? Well, it is quite frankly baffling that, in a game so much representative of our values and experiences of our conditio humana (ironically so, considering how many non-humans we play), that central themes of our very existence, namely sex and death continuously fall by the wayside, both, I assume, in the name of making books child-friendly, when knowledge of neither is, per se, detrimental to a child's development, much less so in the case of adults. And yes, I mean DEATH. Not the blinking enemy evaporating, the capital letter exhibition of the grim reaper's prowess. And you will have seen him perform his grisly work: Ina world, where we are sheltered in increasing amounts from "negative" influences, being confronted with tem can hurt: I've seen grown men cry for their fallen character, heroically vanquished to defeat the forces of the dark and some of my most intense roleplaying sessions were funerals for characters that had fallen.


Isn't it peculiar, then, considering all of that, that unlike 2nd edition's sourcebooks, which mentioned elven songs so beautiful and heart-rending they could kill a man or other sources, which noted the elaboration of a valiant dwarf's deeds, with ritualized swearing of vengeance versus his foes by his clan, in current iterations of the game, we know nigh nothing about funerary customs and rites for just about anyone? Isn't this particularly odd, considering that non-adherence may result in the undead rising, as many a monster's fluff write-up makes us believe? Well, you see where this is going - I very much consider this book VERY overdue.


Within the pages of this humble little pdf, sample funerary rites are presented, rites that tell us something about the cultures that spawned them: Dwarves, for example, have a rite herein, where the remains of the honored dead are cleaned of flesh in the flames of a furnace - thereafter, tongs are used to provide bones to friends and family for the creation of tools; the skull is taken to the family's shrines and finally, the remaining bones are ground to dust, used to enhance the crafting of future items. This tells us something about dwarven values, family and also their relationship to their very own bodies.


On a less somber or majestic side, the ogre-funeral depicted herein amounts to culturally enforced cannibalization of the target - old or failed ogres are called forth and then ritualistically attacked by members of their family and blood - when they finally succumb, they are consumed, henceforth lending their strength to those that lived to break them. Quite the opposite to this, the elven funerary rite features applications of nature-related magic, symbolic union with trees - the elf in question's tree will be tended, with poultices and gentle repose being used to keep predators away, with continuous plant growths and a final move earth magically accompanying the grieving process and the final, proverbial, burial.


Gnomes and Hobgoblins are also featured among the more interesting racial ceremonies, though races are not all that are covered here - a burial at sea, a secular burial, that of a druid and a thief's funeral are covered herein as well - some of which feature formulaic read-aloud texts to accompany the key steps in the ceremony.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Richard D. Bennett provides an interesting, captivating little system-neutral pdf here - no matter the system you use, as long as your game is even remotely indebted to the traditional fantasy genre, you'll find some inspiration herein, for this pdf's rites add to the respective cultures, makes them feasible, allows for the breathers and enhances the overall believability of the cultures you depict - try it: Let your PCs participate in a funeral after an attack by your adversaries. Let them see grief, pain and hope - I guarantee they will be more motivated to defeat whoever has wrought this pain. Similarly, the witnessing of their foes, even the brutes, exhibiting grief and pain may very well serve as a better means of making them feel alive and relatable.


So, all awesome? Well, yes...and no. You see, this supplement does a surprisingly concise job at its task and is surprisingly compelling at what it delivers - but it does suffer from the necessity of having to cater to general cultures, not specific ones: Instead of campaign setting specific races or cultures that exist as a coherent identity, this pdf needed to, by virtue of its design, adhere to the broad strokes pictures we know from the tropes of fantasy. What it did in this context is impressive, but ultimately, the small components, the tidbits are impossible to feature in such a broad stroke picture, but they are ultimately what transforms the great into the awesome, emotional finale. So yes, this is an important pdf; a worthwhile offering and one that I hope will spawn sequels...but it falls a bit short of truly pulling my heart's strings, of blowing me away. Still, I encourage you to take a look - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Knowledge Check: 9 Funerary Rites
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Gossamer Worlds: Planet Fiction (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/02/2016 05:00:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This deluxe-length-installment of the excellent Gossamer Worlds series of Diceless-RPG-supplements clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, want the short version? If you're even remotely bibliophile, then get this.


The long version of the review will be a tad bit more complex and enlightening: Picture, among the myriad of possible worlds out there on the Grand Stair a door that leads, more literally than others, straight into imagination - or rather, into the direct representation thereof. To be more precise: Think of the world of Kipling, Doyle and similar authors, of a world in the throes of a steamtech-infused industrial revolution, a world wherein our very fiction and tropes, those that arguably continue to influence our very world, have achieved reality - conversely, what we have here is a bibliophile's love letter, a semiotician's passion project: When the primary colonial power is called Great Albion and incorporates the fabled realm and London's ample depictions into a blending that exemplifies rather well the original goal of allotopian fiction as popularized by the recent resurgence of steampunk aesthetics.


Beyond that, peaceful, fairy-tale-esque kingdoms like Graustark (literally: Grey-strength), Ruritania or Gérolstein (one accent away from a real life German place famous for the sparkling water) complement an interesting tapestry - particularly considering the harsh climate of the latter in combination with sporting a fine military and the continent's first air force - if the like seems none too inspiring, fans of Japano-RPGs may want to take a look at the plot of Tales of Graces F -and don't be driven off by the cutesy graphics, the plot is rather mature. But back to the topic at hand: From Mykenos to Siebenbürgen and Transsylvania (yes, there's a distinction made here - and you'll know why once you read this book...), there are a lot of nations depicted herein, often based on the merit of their literary providence and prominence - and yes, there is, obviously, a titanic mælstrom.


Taking the real life genre-implications into account, one should also not be surprised to see the topics expanded even further - after all, the genres would not be half as varied without the examples of exotism and, admittedly, Orientalism, that also find their representations herein in the coverage of the Silken Road, from the Middle East to the far away shores of Koryo-no-Shima. However, all of this beauty and wonder does come at a price of significant inconvenience for the discerning gossamer lord or lady: there is no easy exit door to leave Planet Fiction - and there is a reason for this, though, in the exceedingly well-written prose, it required the logic of none other than Sherlock Holmes to deduce the true nature of Planet Fiction. And NO, I'm not going to spoil that revelation, whether it is true in your game or not, here in this review.


Instead, I should like to draw your attention to the rather diverse NPCs provided herein, which come with a low point version, a middle range version and one truly high-powered one: From Sherlock Holmes to Captain Nemo to Cassandra, Sheherazade to Umslopogaas to Hua Mulan and even eminent Judge Dee and Mowgli can be encountered in this wondrous world, wherein, quite literally, all those Jules Vernes-novels, all those slices of childhood and classic literature, come to life.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports ample unique, beautiful pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


H.M. "Dain" Lybarger has woven a very clever world here - granted, the basic set-up already is pretty much every child's dream - I know I imagined, while lying bed-ridden at home, what would happen if Sherlock Holmes met Judge Dee, whether Mulan and Nemo wouldn't make for an interesting couple - and I discussed this to no end with my friends, often providing cliffnotes for those that had no ambition of matching my reading speed due to actually being able to play outside. Try as I might, I can't really approach this book neutrally - it tugs at too many of my heart's strings and does so with a clever, if not exceedingly clever, manner - it wouldn't have required Sherlock Holmes, at least in my opinion, to deduce the obvious de-facto ruler and go one step beyond...but that may just be me being a pretentious wise-ass.


What I'm trying to say is that this book, this world, has pretty much all the potential you can ask for in a given world - it allows you to freely scavenge among your literary preferences and change, adapt and insert - and it still manages to retain a somewhat unique identity, something woefully absent from many books in both the Steampunk and (Neo)-Victorianism genres - this world, in spite of its fictitious nature even within the level of the game, retains a reality that surpasses many fictional settings that do not exhibit the meta-level of fabulation-awareness depicted herein. We have themes resonating on very primal level and a gorgeous canvas on which one can apply the very colors of one's imagination. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - the only people out there to whom I would not recommend this, are those that don't like reading...and I'm honestly not sure whether such persons exist in this hobby.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Planet Fiction (Diceless)
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Mythic Monsters #31: Daemons
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/02/2016 04:57:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the mythic monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!


All right, so we begin this installment of Mythic Monsters with fiction - and if "Taste. Savor. Appreciate." as a title doesn't get you in the groove for the all too often neglected, purely evil daemons, then I sure don't know what will - disturbing and well-crafted!


The first creature herein takes no prisoners: CR 20/MR 8 Astradaemon - go! These monsters can devour souls as swift actions. Swift. Action. Oh, and that death immunity? Forget about it. They just chew that up and spit it out. OUCH. The CR 3/MR 1 Cacodaemon shows that the small bits and pieces can matter - those infected by these daemons can be telepathically contacted by the daemons...yes, this small fluff-only line is what made me grin from ear to ear here. Oh, and they can actually share their mythic power with other creatures...ouch! And yes, soul lock receives a significant flavor-increase as well.


The CR 9/MR 3 Ceustodaemon (lavishly depicted in full-color) can ignore challenges, judgments, smites and sneaks and charge areas with static electricity in the aftermath of their deadly breaths - cool! The CR 15/MR 6 Derghodaemon's insects can bypass almost everything and the rending claws and feeblemind auras of them represent well their concept of ruin and negation. The CR 10/MR 4 hydrodaemon can issue a decree of drowning to annihilate foes and negate their adaption to the aquatic environments as well as spit sleep-inducing spittle at foes...oh, and what about making water behave as the memory-draining, personality-eroding waters of Styx itself? Pure awesomesauce!


At 1 CR more, the CR 11/MR 4 leukodaemon takes the concept of plague-bringer up to the n-th degree - each creature affected becomes a dread carrier and standing in the mere presence of a leukodaemon's dread skull-face erodes your immune system...and like the legendary creatures from real world mythology, the champion's unstoppable shot complements these creatures perfectly.


The CR 14/MR 6 Meladaemon is a creature of dread hunger and as such, the consumptive aura and the locust conjuration these daemons bring to the field of battle...oh, and those unlucky enough to perish to these creatures will rise again as mythic ghasts...and then there would be the fact that a significant portion of the damage these foes cause can only be healed by eating...yeah, no quick heal ups...ouch! Oh, and have I mentioned the crippling aura that may expel contents from the digestive systems of their victims? OUCH! The CR 12/MR 5 Piscodaemon would be the poisonous adversary to the leukodaemon's disease, healing when foes succumb to poison...nasty one.


Speaking of nasty: At CR 22/MR 9 Purrodaemons, as generals of the daemonic armies, not only receive lethal synergy with other creatures of Abaddon, their very flesh disarms foes, their crits permanently lower Wis and they may transform weapons into devastating tools of destruction by sheathing them in their very own flesh...oh, and for enough mythic power, they can unsheathe all flesh-sheathed weapons and have them dance and cut their foes to shreds.


The CR 16/MR 7 Thanadaemon can annihilate death protection, cause premature aging and gain feats by embedding gems into its eye-sockets...oh, and as inevitable as old age's death itself, thanadaemons are truly hard to finally defeat and crushing extracted soul gems make wresting the dead from their greedy claws a task worthy of heroes of mythic pedigree. In the low-to-mid section, the Venedaemon as CR 6/MR 2 may not have too many abilities, but the way in which soul gems can be used by them to power mythic magic is pretty smart. The Vulnudaemon, at 1 CR less receives an upgraded aura of dread.


The new creature featured herein would be the CR 15/MR 6 Ignodaemon, (coming with a nice full-color artwork), is crafted from the souls of despots unwittingly serving the dread horsemen of the apocalypse - and much like the iron fist in the silken glove (kudos if you got that allusion!), the duality of their rule s what characterizes them: On one hand, they can be subtle; on the other, they can be brutal crushers of resistance. On the nitpicky side, the creature references a non-mythic version of the creature, which I couldn't find - so getting the non-mythic version of this creature would be kind of nice...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks provided are nice as well.


Alistair J. Riggs, Alex Riggs, Steven T. Helt and Todd Stewart provide a great array of daemons herein: The servants of true, pure undiluted evil are horribly effective at their given themes, the daemons herein feel like dread scourges of the lands, like the forces of apocalypse itself being unleashed upon the land: Basically, the daemons herein are all about inevitability: No matter how good your defenses, no matter how hard you think you are, these bastards will hit you hard and in the hands of a capable GM, their subtle, eroding powers make them worse foes to civilization than the more straight-forward demon-kind. To me, these daemons are more exciting, more frightening than the demons - and for the most part, they are expertly crafted, disturbing and unique - though the last two (Vene + Vulnudameon) could have used some additional tricks, particularly since the theme of soul destruction/consumption is a cool leitmotif that is featured among other daemons herein as well. The Vulnudaemon...falls just flat compared to every other creature herein.


Now mind you, this is me complaining at a high level - the mythic monsters series has established an exceedingly high standard and this book certainly should be bought by anyone even remotely interested by daemons - the vast majority of the creatures herein is AWESOME. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only by a margin.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #31: Daemons
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Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Archetypes
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/02/2016 04:55:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Four Horsemen Present-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, what are mythic archetypes? Well, the short and simple response is that they represent different foci for mythic characters - archetypes before paths, if you will. Instead of modifying mythic paths (and jumping straight into a huge hornet's nest, considering how intricate the diverse expansions for them out there are), the archetypes herein replace e.g. hard to kill, amazing initiative, recuperation and unstoppable - basically, you switch out the basic abilities gained by every mythic hero. For your convenience's sake (and due to not all archetypes replacing the same abilities, each of the respective archetypes in this book still notes which ability replaces which - kudos for adhering to rules-language standards there!


All right, so what do we get herein? Well, the first archetype would be the Adaptable Hero -exposed to some strange artifacts or spawn of an unearthly bloodline, this archetype is defined by adaptability (D'UH) as a survival-strategy - as such, SP disguise self that is harder to dispel, skill-boosts, quick retraining of feats that render them wildcard and, at 8th tier, at-will greater polymorph capture this one's focus pretty well - and seem like a valid trade-off for the basic mythic defensive abilities.


The Celestial Hero receives a mythic power-based protective aura, learns more mythic conjuration [healing] spells (be sure to check out LG's Mythic Magic-series to broaden your options) and may grant temporary hit points via the expenditure of mythic power by touch - interesting here: That can be combined with regular healing. And yes, paladin lay on hands, channel etc. is covered. Later tiers provide Cha-bonus (or tier) to saves, meaning you can get exceedingly good saves - particularly paladins, since the benefits stack, can get ridiculous saves thus - not a fan there, even though it replaces mythic saving throws. Finally, the archetype adds a brutal penalizing effect to the aura. All in all solid, if a bit heavy on numerical escalation for my tastes. This would btw. also be as good a place as any to note that layout/formatting is wonky in this pdf: There are quite a few abilities herein that have their whole text bolded for no discernible reason, which does not render them any less functional, but which is aesthetically somewhat jarring.


The Commanding Hero has design-wise some interesting choices, to be precise, it has abilities that reward maintaining the full complement of mythic powers. Ability-wise, being a stellar face and significant expansions of aid another in versatility and efficiency are coupled with 9th tier losing immortality - but also allowing the hero to bestow mortality upon foes, which at tier 10 even extends to demon lords and similar beings! Suddenly the foes have a reason to target the commander destined to defeat them - love this design-decision!


The Elemental Hero elicited the obligatory "oh, elemental - how novel"-sigh from me - apologies to all fans of the theme. That being said, you choose an element and receive better mythic spell access for spells with the associated descriptor (again, get the Mythic Magic-series for a wider selection) as well as the obligatory associated resistance. Each of the elements also comes with an elemental form that has several tier-based bonuses that can be considered to be BRUTAL: Hardness for earth, concealment (though technically, that should probably be concealment miss chance, since concealment is pretty much defined at 20%, not 5% per tier, but I digress and nitpick unduly here) for air...over all, I liked these benefits in their mechanical execution, even though the theme feels tired to me at this point.


The Ethereal Hero may freely target ethereal creatures and my mythic power-based perform immediate action blinks and gets one AWESOME ability at 6th tier: No gravity aura coupled with flight speed. Glorious! The high-level ability allows for pretty free shifting between material and ethereal plane - see, this one is tactical, it's unique, short, to the point and evocative. Can you see the legendary burglar with these tricks? I know I can. Awesome!


The Fiendish Hero would pretty much be the evil pendant to the Celestial Hero, though he does receive different bonuses, namely attribute-enhancement and gets a surprisingly brutal blaze of glory ability: The fiendish hero may take negative levels (which bypass any immunity) instead of expending mythic power. This is insanely strong and quite frankly, delimits the one component of mythic rules that keep them in check. This is not happening near my game. Mythic power-based charm monster of fiends is solid. 7th tier allows for the expenditure of one mythic power to grant a +6 profane bonus to an ability score as well as Mythic Companion as a bonus feat to a willing target - ending the pact causes 2d6 Cha drain sans save and the hero can have tier such pacts active at a given time. Again, rather brutal, considering the significant power the companions bestow. While I liked several ideas here, I will not use this one in my games.


The Mortal Hero is a jack-of-all-trades with equipment, armor and weapons and may quickly learn to use them superbly (skill bonuses and gained proficiencies) and may further enhance mythic surges via mythic power and escalate this via more expenditure of mythic power further. I am not a fan of this, since it makes math-wise impossible tasks possible at CRs and tiers where that is not intended. 5th tier nets universal immunity to mind-affecting effects and freedom of movement, even pertaining mythic spells and effects. Again, I'm not sold on this one.


The Shadow Hero once again benefits from having all mythic power to significantly increase the use of traditional thieving skills with illusions, see in darkness and use Stealth while being observed, courtesy of mythic power expenditure. Glamer-based "immunity" to all weapons (watch them gawk...) is awesome and full recuperation as soon as 3rd tier may be strong, but requires darkness. 5th tier nets a double-edged sword - bonuses/penalties that run the gamut from -4 to +6, depending on lighting conditions - and yes, the most significant bonuses penalties are reserved for mythic daylight/darkness.


The final archetype herein would be the Undying Hero - who either gains negative HP when undead or a significant array of immunities when alive. The immunities are excessive and pretty much in line with the undead- personally, I'm not a fan of this at first tier. Why not introduce a choose-your-immunity based on tier? Would be less front-end heavy... 3rd tier nets mythic power-based fast healing (or an upgrade thereof, if you already have it) and 5th tier allows for the healing via both positive and negative energy, constituting a unique benefit.


Conclusion:


Editing is top-notch, though the bolding glitches herein are jarring and imho should have been caught. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous nice full-color stock artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Stephen Rowe's mythic archetypes are innovation-wise awesome - taking the design-paradigm of general archetypes and applying them to mythic rules is pretty much a brilliant idea I really enjoy. In fact, several of the archetypes herein sport interesting decisions, even though concept-wise, many cover classic tropes. In particularly the Commanding hero, Shadow Hero and Ethereal hero feel balanced, versatile and unique to me - I literally came up with ideas for such characters while reading them. At the same time, this pdf's archetypes do something I am exceedingly weary of in some cases - namely, numerical escalation. You see, mythic's main problem can be found in exactly such numerical escalations - sans fixes, they can quite frankly make the game reach the somewhat problematic echelons - but I've commented on those components in my review of Mythic Solutions.


Basically, this is a pdf that has some inspired bits and pieces and some components that require some care when implementing them. Still, the innovation weighs more heavy for me than the annoying formatting hiccups and escalation-issues and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Mythic Archetypes
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Village Backdrop: Denhearth
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/01/2016 07:18:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Situated high atop the mountains on an isolated plateau, Denhearth has suffered long from the vile predations of the powerful red dragon nick-named Cinderblaze - until the vile creature was slain by the benevolent gold dragon Galiantana - under her auspices, the village prospered and even saw the creation of a fabled academy, established to guide those that have the sorceror's gifts towards a wholesome and controlled application of their draconic gifts.


But, alas, all golden ages (Get it? ... -.-...sorry, will put a buck in the bad pun jar later) must end eventually and noble Galiantana has not been seen in quite a while. Some rumor her to be dead, while others only fear her to be missing; in any case, Denhearth, with its academy, seems rife for the picking by the forces of darkness once again. Now, as always, the village comes with copious information on both local color (like nomenclature, clothing habits and the like), lore to be unearthed via the respective skills, rumors and events as well as magic for sale; and yes, the rumors, questioning e.g. the parentage of dragon-blooded locals and similar interesting hooks provide a neat and uncommon, yet sensible angle to the village's plot-options - which include btw. options to develop Galiantana's absence in various ways.


Unlike most recent installments of the series, this time around we get two damn cool sample statblocks, the first of which would be a CR 8 sorceror/dragon disciple, while the second would be a half-dragon chupacabra - yes, you read right. Oh, and the fellow is one of the anti-theft security measure of the local shop, which deserves its name "The Hoard."


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Jacob W. Michaels' Denhearth is a thoroughly compelling settlement - with a unique angle, capable NPCs and a surprising emphasis on kind characters as a beacon of light, the place not only will be useful for the PCs, it'll be a place they WANT to keep safe - which ties in perfectly with the numerous options and narrative directions a GM can take the village. Considering all of that, the uncommon locale and cool premise, we have a prime candidate for a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Denhearth
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Shadowlands: Tarina, Spiral of Sin
Publisher: BlackStar Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/01/2016 04:41:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive city-sourcebook clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1/2 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 62.5 pages of content, so let's return to the world of Sæmyyr!


Wait, what? Well, it's arguably been a while and this book has slipped somewhat between the cracks of my reviewing folder, but let's recapitulate, all right? Beyond being the setting of the Gates of Tarina-adventure, the eponymous city is an important jigsaw piece in the panorama of the Shadowlands, also known as Sæmyyr.


The world of Sæmyyr's ambition is rather significant, to say the least: The basic idea lies in a fantasy-realism: Magic is based on nigh-unknowable level of technology (though players will probably never find that out) and Gygaxian realism is another key tenet for the setting. Basically, shadowlands takes the old adage of advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic (look at your smart-phone and doubt that one's veracity...) and applies it consistently to a huge planet. The result is surprisingly interesting, for the basic premise, consequently, results in magic behaving slightly differently, being treated differently - since the set-up implies a certain level of consistency you'd only see in hard scifi, the result feels surprisingly organic...feasible. This is coupled with a take on fantasy usually not seen elsewhere: Namely, that of a quasi-Roman empire that is, in fact, more developed than traditional Middle Age-based fantasy. Coupled with aforementioned take on magic and have a setting that feels not only novel, but also consistent. And yes, this is enhanced by the massive map of the city: Tarina's map looks like a satellite map taken straight from Google Sæmyyr.


But enough, you want to know what's in this book, right? Well, we begin our trip to Tarina with several pages depicting an immersive, well-written short-story that portrays life in this metropolis before taking a glimpse at relationship demographics, including racial subtypes and sub-species - instead of bogging the game down with alternate stats for each of the classic races, these entries are based mostly on the captivating and well-presented fluff, with respective entries featuring information on nomenclature, personality and the like. Now usually, this can end up being pretty bland, though not in this book - the write-up is captivating and diverse and actually, and this will be true for the whole book, a pleasure to read.


However, at the same time, one can see the relative (then) inexperience of the designers - a little sidebox provides additional racial powers that are supernatural abilities - sans codifying them properly as either alternate racial traits or as race traits - instead, they seem to represent modifications of the base racial stats - which is fine with me, but would need to be explicitly stated to avoid confusion. Design-wise, they tend to be solid and feature scaling mechanisms for daily uses and DCs where applicable, though one in particular is just bad design: Ghost Hammer. Dwarves (here called Durinn) with this power call upon ancestral spirits to provide minor +2 atk or AC bonuses in combat...in the most convoluted way I can imagine. Each round, at the character's turn, sans expending an action, the character may perform an attack based on BAB and Wis-mod versus AC 10, the bonus lasting 1d4+Wis-score. The ability fails to specify whether both bonuses can be granted by subsequent uses; the bonuses are untyped...and I don't get, at all, why the ability requires the time-consuming attack in the first place. It's just die-rolling for the sake of die-rolling sans justifiable benefit.


Thankfully, the book quickly focuses again on more interesting components - the means by which classes are codified and assigned culturally relevant places in the framework of Sæmyyr enhances the sense of immersion featured in this book - the very fact that magic is nigh-monopolized by the Brotherhood, for example, is certainly a relevant factor in global and local politics. On the positive end, the pdf does sport a number of unique traits that help root characters in Tarina - and here, the pdf manages to provide the required precision.


Tarina is a conquered city and the majority of this book is, obviously, devoted to this metropolis - its crime families, its occupying force, its politics and unique places. The general depiction of this city is ultimately hard to capture properly in a review sans quoting passages upon passages of material from within - suffice to say, the quality of the prose here is high - unlike many similar supplements, I found myself reading this supplement without an internal wish to skip ahead. The portrayal of the metropolis of Tarina is an excellent example of what good writing can make or break a supplement - the numbers and nomenclature are important, sure, but this one's writing is what it makes captivating. This level of quality extends to the write-up of the organizations and the visuals provided for them are great - though, once again, the crunch falls somewhat flat of the imaginative potential of the fluff: The Knights of Kashouli, for example, can take a feat that allows them to 1/day, as a swift action, heal twice Wis-mod Hp. Yeah, let's go ahead and spend a feat on that. Yeah, you read right - no scaling of uses or increasing healing. Urgh. Similarly, the 5-level PrC for the knights is pretty much the definition of mechanically bland - some minor talents, better Knowledge, Diehard and finally, +1 Int or Wis as a capstone. You may not properly grasp this, but in view of how good the fluff is, this is jarring.


Now noted, the authors can actually create solid mechanics - particularly the magic-rules that take into account the specifics of Sæmyyr are interesting - non-brotherhood members are subject to flux-rolls when casting - these can provide critical/maximum effects to spells and the like, minimal effects and have a chance of forcing a roll on the rifts of insanity table, providing a complex and surprisingly concise system - granted, not one for every game, but mechanically it is interesting - though the damage-maximization/minimization will make magic and psionics ultimately more swingy. It should also be noted that, while the presentation is concise, a short explanation text would have made the flux-table and the rifts-mechanic associated with it more user-friendly. The aforementioned brotherhood caster class is also provided and can be considered to be a variant full caster with some flavorful order abilities (which work akin to cavalier orders - they offer a linear progression of abilities) and the class also provides titles for the respective levels (and the color of the eyes of these casters) - flavor-wise, this is a well-crafted class, though the omission of pluses in the table remains an obvious formatting glitch that should have been caught in editing. Still, flavorwise, this class is awesome and inspired - though I wished more than 2 of the sample orders were provided.


The next chapter deals with the power players of Tarina and their interaction with the respective PCs, providing a vast, inspired tapestry of adventure ideas galore and further insight into the intricately woven tapestry of Tarina.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good - on the one hand, formally, the editing is pretty awesome, though the depiction of the rules-components herein is simply less refined - a good developer/rules-editor would have helped here. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the book sports extremely awesome Paizo-level quality artworks and excellent cartography - this book is BEAUTIFUL. On the downside, the electronic version has no bookmarks, which represents a massive comfort detriment. This review was written by using mainly the print edition of this book, which was kindly donated to me by a friend and reader - the full-color KS-print is absolutely gorgeous and well worth getting.


Chris Merwin, Stephen Michael DiPesa and Jaye Sonia have created one truly astounding city herein - and, quite frankly, I shouldn't like Tarina as much as I actually do. There are quite a few rough edges in the crunch and some material that is flavor-wise awesome, but crunch-wise falls flat. Similarly, you won't find a settlement statblock for Tarina herein. I really shouldn't like this to that extent...but Tarina MAKES SENSE. One can clearly see the work of academics, of smart people that understand how culture, politics, society and the like work - and who manage to actually convey this knowledge and apply it. Tarina feels incredibly alive to me, chock-full of potential.


Similarly, this may be a detailed, very detailed setting, but one that does not drown in micro-management, walking the perfect balance between detail and high-concept: Whether you're interested in the big picture or in the small, Tarina delivers in spades and makes me anticipate the long-delayed campaign setting even more. How to rate this, then? This is kind of difficult - you see, if you're getting this for rules, then you'll probably be disappointed. But if you're getting this for the writing, for reading pleasure and inspiration, as a means of looking at a fascinating world I actually REALLY would love to play in, then this may well be an excellent investment. Still, with the minor flaws, I can't rate this as highly as I'd like to. The print version does receive a final verdict of 4.5 stars from me; If you're getting the electronic version, detract a star for the bookmark-issue, though if you even remotely have a thing for well-crafted cities and cultures, I'd suggest rounding up even then. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowlands: Tarina, Spiral of Sin
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Sage (Character Class)
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/01/2016 04:32:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Sages as a class receive d6 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-Saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are subject to arcane spell failure when utilizing armor or shields. Unsurprisingly from the chassis, the sage is a full caster that draws spells from the sorc/wizard spell-list and learns them at the same rate as the sorceror. Here's a divergence from established tropes, though: In spite of being a spontaneous caster, the sage's governing spellcasting attribute is not Charisma, but Intelligence. They still get Eschew Materials at first level.


The defining class feature for the sage, though, would be meditation, an extraordinary ability. A given sage can meditate for 4+Wisdom modifier rounds per day, +2 rounds every level after the first. Temporary enhancements to Wisdom do not grant additional rounds of meditation and the ability is replenished after resting. While meditating, sages receive a +4 bonus to Int and +2 to Will-saves, though the Int-increase does not net you skill points or the like. Additionally, spells cast receive a +1 bonus to their caster level, but this does come at an interesting cost - the base speed is reduced to 5 ft., 0 ft. if her speed already was 10 ft. or less. Additionally, meditating sages receive a penalty of -4 to Str and Dex and cannot make skill-checks based on them...oh, and they're flatfooted. A sage may end a given meditation as a free action, but remains befuddled for 2 rounds per round spent in meditation - this translates to -4 Int and Wis. Being subject to any effect that causes befuddlement while already befuddled renders the sage confused instead and entering meditation is impossible while befuddled.


All right, let's drop the pretense - the sage can easily be summed up as a full caster class that utilizes the design paradigm of the barbarian and as such it should come as no surprise that the sage begins play with a meditation power and receives an additional power every two levels thereafter, read: every odd level. Said powers can obviously only be utilized while in meditation. The meditation powers themselves un a rather diverse gamut of options - for example, one nets you scaling spells available only in meditation: First just a 0-level spell, but at 18th level, you also get up to 4th level spells - though the spells thus gained only remain available while meditating. Another two meditations allow you to treat the SR of e.g. evil or good creatures as lower than it is while meditating. At 6th level, you can teleport 30 ft within line of sight as a move action, somewhat offsetting the sage's crippled movement - nice, though imho this should be designated as a conjuration [teleportation]-effect for purposes of interaction with other mechanics. Similarly, sages with another power may use their out of meditation movement...provided they end the movement adjacent to an enemy.


There is also an option that allows you to freely change elemental types of spells cast (and gets the descriptor-caveat right - kudos!) or gain a familiar that only is present in meditation. Levitation while meditating can also be found among the options here and there also is an immediate action retributive bull rush based on Wis versus targets daring to come close to the sage. 1/meditation touch-spell maximization is nasty.


As for the other class abilities: I'm not a fan of adding two attribute-modifiers to any skill, so unsurprisingly, I don't like the addition of Wis-mod to all Knowledge and Spellcraft-checks at 3rd level.8th level provides essentially evasion for Will-saving throws while in meditation and 10th level upgrades meditation bonuses to +6/+3, respectively, with the capstone further increasing them to +8/+4.


At 10th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the sage receives an advanced meditation (5 such abilities are provided by the pdf, which is a bit sparse) - these can be considered modifications of a basic meditation - you enter them as a swift action, but can't revert back to a regular meditation. Only one advanced meditation may be in effect at a given time. The first of these allows the sage to damage herself to deal additional damage and also causes continuous damage while maintained - think of it as sudden death mode. Deeper Meditation allows for even better SR-penetration, while delving into cyclopean mysteries increases CL and upgrades the maximum damage dice cap of spells, but comes at the price of confusion after exiting the meditation. Studied Meditation allows you to pay for metamagic benefits with meditation rounds, while isolated meditation increased chances to hit and threat ranges of spells. The capstone ability of the class allows for the activation of two such advanced meditations at once.


The pdf goes on to present the Conduit, which is erroneously referenced as "sage" in the proficiency-list, which is modified to include the favored weapon of the conduit's deity. The conduit's spells are drawn from the cleric spell list and are not prepared in advance (though the write-up here contradicts itself by stating before that they are prepared in advance...nasty cut copy paste error...). Uncommon once again - they are governed by Intelligence, not Wisdom. Instead of the knowledge-bonuses and the will-evasion, conduits receive the Divine Conduit ability at 3rd level, which allows for channel energy, with a radius of 15 ft. This effect may not be suppressed and deals/heals 1d6 at 4th level (which is odd - is it 3rd or 4th level??), +1d6 every 4 levels thereafter. Okay, if you can't see the glaring issue here, let me enlighten you: This is always on. Not only in meditation, ALWAYS. ON. Infinite AoE-damage (which renders evil conduits basically incapable of interacting with anything but undead), it also represents infinite healing. I am pretty sure this is supposed to be only active while meditating, but ultimately, RAW, that's what we get - and as such, it won't get anywhere near my table.


The pdf also sports 6 new feats: More meditation rounds, +1 meditation power, expending 3 rounds of meditation as a swift action for +Wis-mod damage with damaging spells (do the expended rounds count towards the befuddlement period? - No Idea.), a feat that can be sued once per round when piercing SR to get +1 meditation round (effectively maintaining the allotted rounds), better skill-use in meditation and a feat for access to a bloodline power while in meditation.


The pdf also sports 4 unique magic items: A sensory deprivation helm that nets blindsight in meditation, a torc that allows for other classes to enter meditation (or adds +3 rounds) that is pretty underpriced at 8K, a ring that lets you ignore befuddlement at the expense of damage (or reduce confusion down to befuddlement) - but again: Does this allow for the renewed initiation of meditation or does it simply offset the penalties? No clue. There also are sandals that increase movement speed and grant sages access to a meditation power. Slightly annoying: The magic items deviate from formatting standards, lacking spell-italicization and the usual bolding of Aura, CL, etc.


The pdf closes with 2 new spells, touch of befuddlement and waves of befuddlement - the latter has an instantaneous duration and renders all creatures in the cone befuddled, no save...but does not specify for how long. The touch is solid and nice.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay, though not perfect - there are some deviations from formatting standards to be found here. At the same time, some potentially nasty cut-copy-paste-errors and ambiguities have crept into an otherwise clean array of rules-language exhibited in the class. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has some nice, original pieces of artwork. The pdf also sports bookmarks, though oddly, the archetype is absent from them - which doesn't really surprise me.


Why? Where the base sage is clean and precise in its depiction (for the most part), the conduit feels very much rushed, less refined and basically non-functional. Jeff Gomez, Dayton Johnson and Scott Gladstein seem to have created a solid, if brief class that could have used some more choices with the sage: In playtest, the class performed exactly as I expected: Basically, the sage is somewhat akin to a sorceror that can go hulk: It's pretty satisfying to start wrecking foes with enhanced magical potency. The cool-down means that you have to choose your meditation wisely and that buffs suddenly become more viable if their duration is long enough to survive the befuddlement cool-down. Similarly, meditation-cycling can make for interesting flows in long battles. Let me state this explicitly: The sage would be OP, were it not for the movement decrease and the vulnerability this imposes - even the best sage remains FLATFOOTED when meditating, which means a sage is only as good as his minions/fellow PCs - one rogue can literally instagib him...and this makes for a rather interesting dynamic. I ended up really liking the sage, in spite of some rough edges and me wishing it had more advanced meditations and meditation powers to choose from.


At the same time, the conduit is broken and the supplemental material, unfortunately, does not reach the level of refinement of the base-class, sporting several unnecessary issues that could have been easily eliminated. What remains, thus, is an interesting, powerful base-class that sports a unique playstyle, hamstrung somewhat (see what I did there - crippled movement, hamstrung...okay, I'll drop a buck in the bad pun jar) by the accumulating issues beyond the basic framework of the class. Hence, unfortunately, I can't rate this as high as I'd like to - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Sage (Character Class)
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The Master of Forms Base Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/29/2016 07:42:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This new base class clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Chassis-wise, the master of forms receives full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, unarmed damage scaling of the monk, unarmored AC-progression of up to Cha-mod+5, d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level and proficiency with brass knuckles, cesti, club, crossbows (light and heavy), dagger, handaxe, javelin, kama. nunchaku, quarterstaff, siangham, sai, shortspear, short sword, shuriken, sling, spear and temple sword, but not any armor or shields. It should be noted that we do get the unarmed damage tables for small and large PCs - kudos there!


The class is defined by the forms. Forms can be considered to be martial arts that either are extraordinary or supernatural abilities. They sport three defining components: Focus required denotes the minimum number of focus required to perform the form. Focus Change specifies how the performing of the form changes the focus points. Costs are paid up front, gained focus is awarded after performing the form. The Element, finally, denotes the subtype of the form. Masters of forms begin play with 3 forms and gain +1 form every level thereafter. DCs usually are 10 + 1/2 class level + Charisma modifier and unless otherwise noted, the master of forms can only perform one form per round.


I mentioned the focus pool in the above explanation: The maximum number of focus points in the pool is equal to 4. The pool begins empty and does not refresh simply by resting. Instead, executing certain forms increases or decreases the focus pool. Focus points can only be regained in combat and last only for Charisma modifier minutes outside of combat. While this can be inefficiently be kitten'd, the short duration means that it's not a good strategy. The master of forms automatically learns certain basic, universal forms: These are gained at 1st level, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Basically, you can picture these as the "minimum-functionality"-framework that prevents inexperienced players from locking themselves into a situation, where they can't gain focus - the most basic of these forms, for example, allows you to substitute a regular attack in a full-attack-sequence or use a standard action for an attack that deals regular damage + 1/2 Cha-mod (full Cha-mod starting 6th level) and nets you +1 focus.


At 4th level, for -1 focus, as a swift action, the master of forms can self-buff with minor luck bonuses, while 7th level provides a means for ending an elemental stance and immediately starting a new one as a move action. (As a swift action at 19th level, they can also end it, but gain focus and still be allowed to enter a second stance.). Level 10 provides temporary flight (YES - non-combat utility!) and higher levels sport save-bonuses. I already mentioned elemental stances, so let me elaborate a bit there: Universal forms have no element and thus do not disrupt active stances, though they do break the sequence required to activate an elemental stance.


All right, so what's the deal with stances? Well, whenever a master of forms performs three consecutive forms belonging to the same element, they enter the element's stance...and they are UNIQUE. Earth, for example, allows you to expend one focus when attacked by a weapon - if he does, he may roll dice equal to the weapon's base damage die, gaining the result as DR X/- against the attack. Oh, and guess what? No focus-cost if the master of forms is below 1/2 maximum HP.


Fire allows for roaring attacks, since here, the focus is gained prior o executing the attack. Ice allows for forms with focus change of +1 instead of an AoO, though that does change the focus change value of the form used to -1. Lightning increases movement rate by +5 ft. per focus point currently held, while wind provides +1 temporary focus when his focus is 0. This does not count towards required focus and are expended first, but otherwise, the temporary focus behaves as though it were a regular focus point.


At 2nd level, masters of forms may 1/day grant himself the ability to perform a second form per round 1/day, +1/day every 5 levels thereafter. Additionally, this level nets evasion, while 3rd provides slow fall, 8th purity of body, 14th diamond soul. As a capstone, the master of forms tallies up the forms known - the one for which he knows most forms (choose in case of a tie) is then known of predominant. The master is ALWAYS in the stance of this element while conscious and is considered even to be in the stance, while being in another active stance.


The class also gains access to so-called secret arts, the finishers/fatalities of the class, if you will - secret arts cannot be performed on the same round another form has been activated and if a duration is non-instantaneous, no other form may be performed while it persists. They do not require a focus, but require the master of forms to be in the corresponding elemental stance. Secret arts can be performed 1/day each, but choosing the same secret art multiple times adds +1 daily use of the secret art. Masters of forms choose a secret art at 5th level, +1 every 4 levels thereafter.


So what do they do? Well, let's take a look at Ice's Aquatic Triad: As a standard action, the master of forms expends all focus, choosing a 10 ft. burst area within 60 ft. range. This mist can be changed into steam, left as aerosolized water or deposit the burst as snow. Steam deals cold damage (drawing heat), maximizing damage versus foes in metal armor. Water makes all armor behave as having a Max Dex bonus of +0 for 1 minute and further enhance bonuses granted by flanking such targets; finally, snow deals scaling fire damage and maximizes damage versus targets wearing combustible armor. While the damage-types seem counter-intuitive, they are based on mighty science and energy transfer. Finally, it should be noted that the master of forms may choose two effects when performing this with 2+ focus, all when using it with 4 focus.


Bones of the Mountain allows you to draw forth a massive earthen, devastating club, while master of air can move as swift action and fire blasts of ranged touch attack trips that also deal damage. Another secret art allows the master of forms to treat himself as staggered, emulating the stasis of a frozen world - while in this ice-cold fugue, the master of forms may retaliate against any attack that hits him with attacks of opportunity, ignoring the usual limitations of AoOs per round. Blasting foes with cannon-like winds and auto-haste plus partial armor ignoring. Unleashing potentially blinding blasts of fiery pyroclasms or hurling lightning, Zeus-style also rock. The respective secret arts increase in potency and have scaling mechanisms both based on level and focus for the particular executions - love that component.


As always, you get a significant array of favored class options and they deserve special mention: Gnomes may, once choosing the FCO 5 times, add +1 form; when performing said form, they may spend 3 focus to execute a second form! Unique! Beyond the base-races, aasimar, drow, hobgoblins, kobolds, puddlings, orcs and tieflings are covered. The class gets +4 supplemental feats - one for +1/day deep focus use, +1 DC for the forms of an element, one for +2 forms and one that provides bonus elemental damage while in a stance.


All right, so, I've danced around this long enough - let's take a look at those forms. They are listed by element and requirements - most forms have no requirement, while level 4, 6 and 8 each can be considered to be thresholds that unlock new forms. It should be noted, though, that most forms are available from the get-go, meaning there's a lot of options to choose from the very beginning. The truly interesting component of the respective elements, though, would be that each and every one of the elemental types generally have at least one component that sets them apart and makes them feel distinct: While you'd expect e.g. earths forms to be movement-reducing (via grappling vines), they actually also sport temporary hit points...and the unique component of gaining additional benefits while below half maximum hit points. Their visuals are also pretty awesome: Gaining claws from crystallized hemoglobin? Heck yeah! Lassos from vines? Growing poisonous berries? Toppling shockwaves? Jup!


Fire allows you to suspend fast healing/regeneration and turn it upon foes, perform blazes of deadly fire...and quite a few of the forms here allow the respective master of forms to perform additional forms this round, emulating the sudden blaze of ignited flames. Oh, and 0 focus change bleed damage ending or causing weeping, seared wounds...quite interesting! Ice, however, is imho more awesome/unique: Beyond movement impediment, ice-chunks launched at foes, devastating waves of cold that may stagger foes, gradual freezing of adversaries or performing special strikes that make it very hard to concentrate...the forms of ice are wonderfully, delightfully dickish. There would be a strike that provides a warning to the creature attacked: If it subsequently performs a full-round action or move and standard action in the same round, with a failure staggering the creature. Particularly exciting would also be frozen surge, which is predicated on a former form missing, a save being made by a victim or you failing to hit a CMD, allowing you to unleash a burst of cold/bludgeoning damage. Ice, basically, is about building up focus...and then unleashing it suddenly, powerfully...and painfully. It's also about slowing/debuffing - absolutely fun.


Lightning, on the other hand, is about speed and volatile bursts - including, as a sidebox acknowledges, a means of performing potentially more than 2 forms per round. The forms also allow for changing directions in charges, penalize foes with blinding sparks...and at level 8, there is a form that allows you to take +1 standard action, but at the cost of being staggered in the round thereafter. Fast strikes that bypass certain amounts of hardness and DR or unleashing a storm cloud that can fire bolts of lightning at adversaries - once again, lightning has its own distinct playstyle.


Finally, wind may sound, concept-wise, as though it were similar to lightning - but it's not really. Where lightning is pretty much about agility in the way that pertains the covering of an area in straight lines, wind represents a more ephemeral component: Granting yourself concealment, defensive stances that make attackers provoke AoOs against which they are flatfooted - the wind element is interesting - also thanks to two interesting components: The build-up: There is e.g. a form that allows for a swift action trip as well as the execution of a second form, representing the rising of the storm. This theme is further enhanced by some forms having additional effects when the master of forms has at least a certain amount of focus, representing on a mechanic base the change from clear skies to storms. What about a touch attack-based whirlwind against all adjacent enemies, allowing you to perform AoO-less combat maneuvers against all of them? (And yes, this gets the moving-caveat right.) Wind is about fluidity, about maneuvers and foe control and it plays just as ephemeral as you'd expect it to.


Now here's the thing, though: While entering a stance is pretty much desirable...it's not necessarily the only strength of the class: Note that, unlike many such classes, this has no prohibited element - these diverse fighting styles are MEANT to be combined - perhaps to set-up a secret art and enter the respective stance, perhaps just to switch between them as you unleash new combos upon your adversaries.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor instances of flawed punctuation, I noticed nothing to complain about. The rules-language, as we've come to expect from Bradley Crouch, is precise to the point. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf has some nice stock art. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a comfort-detriment.


My first thought when I heard about this class was: "Oh no, not ANOTHER elemental martial arts/bender-style class. Urgh. We had enough elemental burst-blasting borefests..." My second thought was "What a waste of Bradley's talent." Oh boy have I been seldom wrong to this extent. This class was commissioned by Alex Ross via Interjection Games' patreon and I am truly grateful for it.


First of all, a solid skill array and high Cha-score mean that this class makes for a solid option in non-combat environments - not the best, but you'll have things you can do. But more importantly, this class, to me, is genius. Know why I don't like elemental classes? They're BORING most of the time. You'll probably have seen this before: Earth specialists that throw globs of rock that are variants of fireball, with parameters like added conditions, other saves and damage types changes. We've seen that again and again...and it never played right to me. What made Avatar so popular beyond the story and the writing, what made elementalists in good anime stand out, what made Scorpion and Sub Zero different was that their powers may have looked similar, that there were overlaps...but they played completely differently nonetheless. Now granted, some classes and options out there managed that, but still stuck to their niche; air specialists got air walk and were opposed to earth...you get the idea.


This is the furious rebuttal to the claim that elementalists can't play radically differently depending on the element used and it also emphasizes fluidity between the elements, a constant change and flux, with stability having its reward as well via secret arts and stances. This is basically the class-design equivalent of Bruce Lee saying "Be like water, my friend." - instead of limiting yourself to one particular element, which remains a valid strategy, the most awesome way of playing these guys is by mixing and matching the different elements and their forms, generating set-ups to then either directly escalate or to generate a stabile stance to then conclude with a secret art - so, not only do the respective forms feel unique in the respective elements, the option to mix them makes the system even more awesome.


The master of forms play flexible, fun and has truly unique effects: Beyond being a solid front-line fighter, the class can also double as terrain control, targeted debuffer, skirmisher - there are a lot of ways to play this class, and all work. The one thing this pdf left me with, ultimately, is a huge desire to see even more: More forms, more types of forms/schools...more. This is a thinking man's martial class, a fun, balanced elementalist that actually makes the respective elements feel distinctly unique while maintaining flexibility. Oh, and yes, the unique components of the elemental forms do retain a distinct mechanical identity that fits together with the fluff. I so want more material for this class - my players love it, I enjoy it and it, overall, is a glorious martial arts-class, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Master of Forms Base Class
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Four Horsemen Present: Pakuvresh, the Flesh Golem Factory
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/29/2016 07:40:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 0.5 pages of editorial, leaving us with 9.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This being an adventure set-piece/location-supplement/encounter-collection, the following will have SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


So what is Pakuvresh? The simple response would be that it is what happens when a truly vile wizard has too much time on his hands - the location is basically an autonomous plant that cranks out horrid monstrosities and awaits its creator's return to unleash its dread armies...or so the story goes. Situated in the astral plane, the place is certainly not one that novice adventurers will want to visit.


Anyways, the pdf then goes on to provide a series of linked encounters: We begin with bone devils harvesting flesh via their "recruitment" in a wasted village, with the devils bearing a new item, shadowstones, which allow for easy travel to Pakuvresh's gates. The gates of the factory on the plane of shadows are guarded - you guessed it - by flesh golems...and an animated lock. Nice to see that one feature herein. Beyond the adamantine-banded doors, strange machinery tries to dissect magical creatures to generate prototype plane-shifting golems, something the mad sole survivor, a one-legged gnome named Glimix, tries hard to prevent - though his delusions don't help him there.


Horrid golem gatekeepers and advanced crawling horrors guard the pens of the raw material to soon disassembled and recombined into flesh golem form, though to save the missing people, the PCs will have to brave Mauxet, an advanced osyluth...and the steel butchers, that are about to cut the hapless people to pieces...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports nice full-color artwork, some of which you may know from other supplements.


Steven T. Helt's prose is impeccable - Pakuvresh is an awesome location and drips the gory fear of an automated slaughterhouse and combines it with body horror par excellence - prose-wise, there is not much to complain. At the same time, this supplement left me somewhat unsatisfied - for one, while I enjoyed the respective encounters, I did feel like the place is more opaque than it really should be - the lack of a map hurts this pdf quite a bit. There is a more important component here that's a bit amiss, one perhaps tied to the lack of a map, though I'm not 100% sure: This is this huge, magical slaughterhouse that makes monsters from killed people, right? So where are the conveyor belts? The automated hooks? The sudden saw blades ? The blood drains? The chutes? The "Evil Within"-cut-everything-to-pieces-madness?


When I picture a place like this, I see lethal terrain galore - monsters, yes, but also a location that's as much the enemy as any of its caretakers. The encounters, perhaps due to a lack of a map, are suspiciously bereft of interesting terrain features to utilize in combat.


You won't find complex hazards or the like herein, which, ultimately, made Pakuvresh less of a threat and more creepy window-dressing for a series of good encounters. So yeah, I was pretty much disappointed by this one, as loathe as I am to say it. The excellent prose and glorious concept quite frankly would have deserved a better, deserved the one step beyond this does not go. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Pakuvresh, the Flesh Golem Factory
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