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Slaves of Tsathoggua
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2017 05:47:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Crimson Dragon Slayer (the new, d6-based version) clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, we begin this pdf with a d20-chart that lets you determine how much of a peasant your character is: While some of these have minor in-game effects (like being a bad gambler), they also include living in a cardboard box, having dirt on even the dirt on you, etc. In short - this can make for a fun negative-bragging at the table: "Dude, my characters is so peasant, he only has rolls 3 teeth remaining!"

The PCs thus approach the little village of Needham, witnessing a strange funeral procession - the priest seems to have died and is now carted towards a cave...after all, anyone who has entered it will thereafter be brought back there for an eternal vigil. The 8 rumors similarly seem to speak of nasty things hidden there...but the road's been long, the weather foreboding, so the adventurers will probably head towards the tavern...and here, a man is goaded into entering the cave...a fool named Atsop. Witnessing the sod enter and exit will net a nasty scene, as he exits, slime eating his body, slowly and painfully....and indeed a suicide hidden in the village's vicinity similarly enhances the foreboding atmosphere.

...and this is about as far as I can go without going into serious SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, the main meat of the module represents a small dungeon crawl - the cavern complex is basically a ring of caverns around a strange machine, the scoop, which scoops up beings and deposits them inside the cave - as such, the numerous caverns to the sides of this central hub contain a variety of truly diverse encounters. The GM can resort btw. to a small d4-table to determine the desires of the respective creatures encountered. The planar instability also extends to the caverns - 12 entries of a table can allow the GM to make a cave Lovecraftian, icy, watery...etc. Similarly, a d30-table allows you to determine the weird insides of things the PCs may kill, slice open or dig into...ranging from endless bacon to small dolls with mysterious masks...so yeah, this is where the slightly gonzo weird comes in....but it retains a sinister streak. In short: It is a nice compromise between the gonzo Heavy Metal fantasy of the original Crimson Dragon Slayer and the darker aspects championed by the recent quick-play d6-based version in tone.

So that pertains the general dressing and environments - but what about the specific? Well, there would be Simon, a friendly tentacled diplomat from another dimension; there are silurians and zygothians, robots and plant monsters, faceless purple-skinned humanoids...there is a man with delusions of invulnerability, a horrible oracle who can employ emotional illusions and implant them within beings...but ultimately, in one of those side-caverns, the PCs will find a way deeper into the complex, past deadly insects and worse...oh, and if your PCs are idling, they'll meet radical anthropomorphized fruit sooner or later. And yep, these guys have a mean streak. Anyways, the PCs will probably sooner or later meet The Thing. - a horrid and very powerful entity...and past it, there looms a nugget of cosmic truth, of genocides in the past and the looming return of dread Tsathoggua...

But even if the PCs manage to survive this meat-grinder of a module (the progressive bosses have A LOT of HP), there is a handy 20-entry-table to roll regarding PTSD for surviving this insane experience. These range from drawbacks to benefits to primarily roleplaying relevant tricks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard and the pdf actually comes with a second, printer-friendly version - kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with extensive bookmarks and the b/w-artworks featured herein are amazing original pieces. The cartography by Glynn Seal is excellent as well, though I certainly wished we got a key-less version to cut up and hand to the PCs as they go.

After the revision of Crimson Dragon Slayer hit digital shelves, I wasn't too blown away; the sample module is pretty much standard dark fantasy minus all the gonzo weirdness that made me like the original Crimson Dragon Slayer. This module would then be a synthesis of both approaches: This is very much dark and brooding fantasy and a grinder of a module, yes - but at the same time, it features quite a lot of thoroughly surreal and interesting components. The surreal aspects are more grim than before, sure - but at the same time, the module manages to sell them as both scary-weird and atmospheric, which is a feat as far as I'm concerned. In short: This is significantly better than the intro-module of for CDS's revision and feels once again like it has its very own identity. Now the module may not be a world-shaking scenario, but for the fair price point, it certainly delivers an enjoyable session of gaming. So yeah, I don't have significant complaints against this module by Venger As'Nas Satanis...and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars - If you want to play the new Crimson Dragon Slayer version, get this module to accompany it.

Endeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Slaves of Tsathoggua
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Race Options: Svirfneblin
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2017 05:44:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Race Options-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

And now for something completely different - this time around, we take a look at expansion material for one of the arguably most powerful races for PFRPG, the svirfneblin. The racial properties of the race, all its traits etc. have been reproduced herein for your convenience and with SR, constant nondetection and similar tricks, it's not hard to see why the race is often banned. That being said, this review will simply accept the significant power-level of the base-race and look at the new material herein, starting with alternate racial traits. We get a total of 8 of those and they range from an alternate hatred versus aberrations (represented as both atk-bonus granting and AC-improving traits) to applying SR to darkness and darkness-creating effects (interesting!). Losing skills bonuses for Weapon Focus (heavy pick), stability and a vanilla rage also constitute interesting modifications. I also liked a decreased SR accompanied by minor DR to account for a more fey theme. There also is an alternate, less lopsided attribute array, namely +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha, which also eliminates svirfneblin magic and fortunate...and actually makes the race more balanced, while retaining its core theme. Kudos!

The pdf also contains two archetypes, the first of which would be the Pick Master fighter, who replaces armor training with an AC bonus versus melee attacks when attacking with a pick at 3rd level; 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter net a scaling bonus to atk and damage with picks and 7th level provides the option to immediate action retaliate when an attack fails to hit the archetype due to the shield bonus granted by the special pick fighting training. 9th level sports something picks imho did not need - instead of weapon training, the critical multiplier for picks is increased even further. 11th level provides +5 ft. reach when wielding picks, but only for AoO-purposes when a target moves through the area and then adjacent to the pick master. 13th level allows for tripping and disarming sans AoO with picks and at 15th level, the bonus after attacking with a pick now extends to ranged attacks as well and nets Deflect Arrows. 17th level yields knockback blows with pick attacks and the archetype is locked into picks for weapon mastery. All in all, a decent weapon specialist with some mechanically-complex abilities that replaces all those armor/weapon training tricks with specialized pick tricks.

The second archetype would be the subterranean druid, whose name provides already a pretty decent vision of what to expect. The archetype receives Knowledge (dungeoneering) as a class skill and receives a variant list of spontaneous casting options that has a pretty nice stone/earth-theme. Nature sense is replaced with a modified underground version and 2nd level yields a stone-based variant of woodland stride and modifies trackless step to instead apply to the underworld environment. Instead of resist nature's lure, +4 to saves versus the SPs and SUs of aberrations is gained and thousand faces is replaced with a variant of tree stride that instead employs stone as a medium.

The pdf also contains different pieces of mundane equipment - the first of these would be amorphofixate, a chemical that can rid adversaries temporarily of the amorphous quality of stabilize those whose forms have been destabilized. Cool. Depilatory would be the bane of all dwarves - the acid eliminates the hair of those hit directly by it. Want to piss off dwarves? There ya go! Very strong would be a special paste that reduced movement by 5 ft., but grants hardness 8 to the subject...but only until hardness is exceeded, at which point the shell crumbles. At 100 gp, this is not inexpensive, but it's perhaps an item I'd keep out of the hands of PCs for the lower two levels...unless you have foes with serious damage outputs. The pdf also contains three variant picks - long pick, saw-tooth pick and throwing pick.

The pdf also contains a total of 8 racial feats, which include bonuses + /day rerolls versus emotion-spells, a serious bonus to a social skill when dealing with fey, slightly increased movement rate when traversing stone, a 1/day option to force a foe to roll twice to try to overcome your SR, a feat to count as +1 size when using Power Attack with picks, a feat that allows you to ignore squeezing penalties in stone (cool!) and a higher-level option to burrow through stone. One feat is problematic, namely a teamwork feat that lets you occupy the same space as an allied svirfneblin, flanking adjacent opponents - not only is this pretty strong for some classes, it unfortunately also has the issue of targeting, splash damage direct hits, etc. It should be noted, though, that this is partially due to the squeezing/multiple guys in one-square rules being pretty opaque.

The pdf also sports two weapon special abilities, the first of which would be impaling, which honesty represents scavenging gold - basically, you sunder as part of the attack and on a crit, the weapon becomes lodged in the target, inflicting damage until it is yanked out. At +2, reasonably priced and a great basis if you're looking for a baseline to craft gritty "stuck in enemy"-rules for a campaign. The second ability would be stonebreaking at +1, which bypasses some stone hardness and deals additional damage versus stone creatures. Cool! Beyond these, we can find 3 specific magic items, the first of which would be the Caryatid Amulet is pretty cool - it yields DR that can temporarily be increased...and while in this state, weapons that target the wearer take serious damage. Damn cool and reasonably priced. Friendship Stones can be used to retain message-communication, but warn of betrayal as well and growstone solution can either create spike floors or soft stone. Cool!

The pdf closes with an array of 7 spells - these include imbuing crystals with electricity (making it easier to target metal-armored foes), an emergency brace versus cave-ins (awesome!), a spell to fortify stone, the secret message-passing enhancer group mind, the option to make potentially templated gargoyles from stone to do your bidding...and more. Particularly cool would be the spell to deal with burrowing creatures (stone ripple), that can also send non-burrowing creatures to the ground and there is also the work song - which obviously increases productivity or marching, as anyone who read Dickens knows.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has a nice piece of b/w-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - kudos!!

So, let me come clean here - svirfneblin are banned as PC-races in even my high-powered games. They're very strong and pretty lopsided, hitting two of my pet-peeves for races, so I wasn't too keen on picking this one apart. That being said, the alternate, imho better balanced racial traits contained herein come as close to fixing the race as I'm probably likely to get to see anytime soon. While I am not blown away by all components herein, with the archetypes being pretty conservative, particularly in the items and spells, this has some seriously cool gems. Oh, and it should be mentioned that some alternate racial traits actually manage to be somewhat innovative in the narrow paradigm they offer - which is a definite plus. In fact, I consider this pdf to be surprisingly good and captivating - Mike Welham shows his expertise by pricing feats, magic items etc. with deceptive ease. While I have a couple of minor nitpicks with some details, these ultimately pale before an otherwise fun and interesting setting -and the verbiage for impaling could, as mentioned before, potentially carry the piercing category of a whole no/low-magic campaign that emphasizes weapon type differences.

In short: Mr. Welham delivers a fun racial pdf, which, while not universally amazing, belongs to the better ones out there. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the low and more than fair price-point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Race Options: Svirfneblin
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Mythic Monsters #39: Slavic
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:32:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' critically-acclaimed Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of jam-packed content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf in the most flavorful of ways - with a nice short story, a fairy tale if you will - the "Bear with Steel Fur", a great little story that established the mood for the pdf...and could frankly yield quite a lot of inspiration in particularly for fans of Kobold Press' Midgard or similarly more Slavic/Germanic environments. Thus, in the proper mindset, we are introduced to the diverse mythic creatures found within, beginning our journey with the mythic Bagiennik (CR 7/MR 3), whose nasal spray is upgraded to also allow for the dousing of those slain to return them back to life via the expenditure of mythic power...oh, and they can emit a cloud of total concealment-granting murk. Nice one!

At the lowest CR/MR-spectrum (CR 1/MR 1), the Etiainen is greatly expanded - while the nice artwork used previously for a unique creature in the series is a rehash, the critter more than makes up for this: You see, they may not only expend mythic power to assume Tiny or Large sizes, they also do not perish when fading, thwart detection and can stack its memory drain - making completely new angles possible. Great example of low-level mythic critter-design! On the other end of the CR-range, at a mighty CR 18/MR 7, the gorynych may emit a fascinating haze, its breath weapons are also modified in their cooldown mechanics and may be enhanced with mythic power, adding some serious tactics to breath weapon use. Oh, and know what's worse? If you manage to slay this monstrosity, it discorporates in flame and death...and reassembles, hurt, but very much in fighting shape, with different defensive properties. Round 2 of the boss fight. NICE!

The famous domovoi at CR 4/MR 1 actually represents the spirit so much better with clean sweep - a telekinetic-style option to AoE clean/repair...and move foes. Add to that the option to assume the shape of a revered ancestor and we have a definite winner on our hands that feels truly magical. At one CR and MR more, the Dvorovoi similarly have been brought closer to the real world's tales - they enhance the growth of nearby plants, but once their ire is roused, they can utterly ruin a farmer's life with their magics and curse. At CR 3 and MR 1, the ovinnik would be another house spirit whose mythic upgrade receives unique tricks - namely a menacing bark to scare away intruders and fires started by them may warp the perception of creatures and allow for clairvoyance/audience tricks. I love all of these house spirits.

The CR 6/MR 2 kikimora receives a greatly empowered hidey hole that allows for some additional tactics; beyond that, they can enter the dreams of the sleeping, causing nightmares and also gaining bonuses versus those afflicted...and they can employ flaxen traps and spin it so quick, it can help them get away, making them a far deadlier adversary. Another classic that is often used would be the Rusalka, whose mythic version clocks in at CR 15/MR 6 and may maintain the beckoning call; beyond that, they can emit a shriek that can force others to attack a designated foe...and if you do not heed the ruslka's call, you suffer. Their powers to enslave nonmythic creatures are horrid, they can attack with their tresses of hair and in water, they receive a serious defense upgrade, making them an appropriately formidable, dare I say "mythic" foe. Kudos indeed!

Compared to these guys, the CR 3/MR 1 upgrade of the tatzlwyrm is a bit less impressive - mythic power expenditure for conical poison or free action breath...okay, I guess, but not too exciting. At CR 8/MR 3, the air veela's mythic version can draw the air forth from nearby creatures and gets a mythic power-based immediate action defensive power that ensures she does not go down quickly. The vodyanoi, at CR 6/MR 2, may summon water into the lungs of its victims and imprison the souls of its victims, drawing strength from them - this critter is basically an adventure plot in one statblock and a glorious representation of the creature's mythological tropes. Two thumbs up! At CR 4/MR 1m the vukodlak has a steal breath ability...which is unfortunately missing a part of its text and thus does not really work in a pretty glaring glitch.

The pdf also includes a new creature with a glorious full-color artwork would be the stalimedved - the eponymous, CR 21/MR 8 steely bears - gargantuan engines of destruction, whose flaming breath lingers; the creature can not only perform devastating physical attacks, its massive stomps can really wreck formations and structures. The quills are lethal as well and the sweeping claw attacks can hit multiple foes. All in all, a glorious, massive monstrosity.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, with the glaring exception of the cut-off steal breath ability. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a blend of classic full-color artwork and the amazing new artwork for the stalimedved. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Victoria Jaczko knocks this one right out of the stadium, if you want to engage in a Baseball-metaphor: The creatures herein and their respective upgrades represent amazing variations of the classic critters and bespeak a love for the mythology that inspired them - apart from the unfortunately cut off ability and the slightly less interesting tatzlwyrm, the pdf's critters are absolutely amazing, rendering this a very worthwhile addition to the series. While not perfect, it represents an inspired collection of critters and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #39: Slavic
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Bloodmage
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:29:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the first of these, the Bloodmage, who was built upon the Bloatmage PrC and the wizard-chassis. The class receives d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with blowgun, crossbows (hand, light & heavy), dagger, spiked gauntlet, butterfly and switchblade knives and quadrens. The class gets a good Will-save and a 1/2 BAB-progression. The class receives full spellcasting progression. 1/day at first level and an additional time at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the bloodmage may ingest blood from a sorceror or a creature (sample creature and associated bloodline table provided), gaining temporary access. At 1st level, the bloodmage can access the bloodline powers of a bloodline thus absorbed, using Intelligence instead of Charisma as governing attribute, and familiar/companion-granting abilities temporarily morph the "special" familiar of the bloodmage. See below for that one. At 6th level, the bloodmage gains access o the bloodline spells and at 14th, to the bloodline arcane.

In order to cast spells from the bloodline, the bloodmage must expend blood points equal to the spell's level. These points belong to the blood pool class feature, which is also gained at first level and equals half the bloodmage's class level. These blood points replenish upon resting, but only up to this cap, not when it is exceeded. More on that later. The perceptive reader may have noted that I have not yet commented on action economy of blood draining, consumption, etc. - well, primarily, because I have not complaints - the pdf properly codifies all of that in a concise and precise manner. Kudos. And no, summoned creatures may not be tapped for blood.

One option to thus increase the blood point reservoir is to engage in a bloodsurge - this is a free action and at 1st level, the bloodmage can bloodsurge 1/day and gains 1 blood point from the surge. 4th level, 8th and 12th level as well as 20th level increase the daily uses of the blood surge. Starting at 4th level, you gain 1d4 blood points instead, with 8th upgrading that to 1d8 and 12th to 1d12. Minor formal and purely aesthetic complaint - it should be "1d12", not "d12" in the example, analogue to the previous formatting. The bloodmage may drain himself in special rituals each day, which decreases the surge result by 1 at the cost of a -2 penalty to Con; Note that this is neither damage, nor drain! Why would you do that? Simple: If the blood point maximum exceeds 1/2 class level, the blood mage may suffer from the now somewhat unfortunately-named "Blood Rage" - note the blank space. I know the PRC predates the bloodrager...but yeah. If the maximum is exceeded, the bloodmage is sickened and if the bloodmage exceeds his class level in blood points, he enters a homicidal rage for 1d6 rounds or until blood points or HP are reduced to 0...and at the end of sucha rage, the character loses all blood points, takes damage equal to his remaining hp and is staggered. OUCH.

Now I mentioned the mutating familiar...and indeed, this would be represented via the alchemist's tumor familiar. Yes, this means that, with the right infusion, your sentient tumor detaches and morphs into the creature. Talk about messed up... 2nd level nets Spell Focus as a bonus feat and 3rd level nets the hemophilia drawback, which increases the DC to stop the bloodmage's bleeding and decreases his blood points...which means that the drawback can be uses as a means to control blood points. 5th level yields the corpulence class feature, which nets the bloated bloodmage +1 caster level when casting Spell Focus spells, but also makes him be treated as udner constant medium load, with max Dex-bonus to AC locked at +3 and ACP -3 and the respective speed decrease. 10th level nets +1 natural armor, 17th level increases that to +2, but reduces speed further by 10 ft.

Now here things turn even more interesting - unlike in previous prestige archetype series, we now receive alternate base class builds: The pdf covers multiple classes as alternate base chassis options and notes which class features are retained - these include arcanist, druid, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch. This significantly increases the breadth of the class uses. Beyond that, the pdf also features a selection of diverse favored class options specifically for the bloodmage, covering, beyond the core races, also some of my favorite Porphyran races and appropriate candidates like the dhampir, who learns to heal himself via blood points.

Cool: The pdf comes with a bonus creature that has a gorgeous full-color artwork: The Cr 7 Abaasy, a kind of cyclops with a freezing gaze and a deadly iron lash. Nice critter, though I can't comment on whether Perry Fehr or Mark Gedak wrote it, so I'll tag both in my review.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches and rules language is precise. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's Bloodmage is very cool first installment for the series - from the general favored class options to the blood mage's unique resource-management mechanic, the prestige archetype is rewarding, its ability dispersal makes sense and the rules-language is precise and well-crafted. In short: Apart from some example sentences sounding a bit wonky, there is nothing to complain about here. Well done and a great start for the series and leaves me without any serious complaints. This receives 5 stars, just short of my seal: The bloodsurge is cool and could carry more cool options. Still, a very promising start for the series!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Bloodmage
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Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:28:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Now treasure is not and should not be equal to other treasure. From strange pictures to sculptures and elaborate tobacco pouches, there are a lot of objects to which value can be ascribed. As such, the pdf goes a different route than one would expect - the first 3 tables, each of which is 20 entries strong and lists sample pieces of art, from black pottery vases to wall mirrors and rugs of white gorilla fur. These cover a lot of ground, but unlike many dressing files, they actually are governed by general price - 25 gp, 250 gp and 750 gp values each have their own table and the pdf actually lists Intelligence-check based DCs to properly determine the gp values of the objects, with the DCs scaling. The art objects worth 2500 gp and 7500 gp also get their own tables, each of which are btw. 10 entries strong.

Really cool - there is a mini-table of value modifiers - 4 different results on that table can yield worse or better prices for the objects, allowing you to get even more out of the material herein. So, the art aspect works pretty well - then what about those gemstones?

Well, first, we receive a small glossary of up to 4 different gem types - from translucent to opaque, the respective categories are clearly defined. We begin with two d12-entry-strong tables of the least valuable stones, gaining a d10-table for those worth 100 gp, a d6 table for gems worth 500 gp, a d8-table for gems worth 1000 gp and finally, a 4-entry-strong table of gems worth 5K gp...though that table is erroneously headed by a d6 instead of a d4 in a minor hiccup. And before you ask - yep, we do receive Intelligence DCs to evaluate these as well. The different qualities of gemstone allow for an even more detailed modification of base prices via a d10-table, once again getting more mileage out of every single entry.

The pdf does go on step beyond all of these, though: On the last pages, reputedly magical effects of gemstones that may or may not be true can be found and add a nice sense of magic and cohesion to the subject matter. Additionally, there is a final table that consists of two parts, both of which are 12 entries long: The first lets you determine a special property for the gemstone, while the second presents a complication and/or opportunity: From significant sizes to strange cuts and mystical glowing, the special appearances are nice - and from trapped adventurers to fakes or acting as keys, the latter similarly are interesting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to RagingS wan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standards with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer- kudos!

Richard Green's Treasures & Trinkets - installment regarding art and gems is an inspired little dressing file: With a bit of crunch, solid modifiers and well-crafted, diverse tables, the pdf is ready to use in any 5e-game and features enough system-relevant bits to make use as comfortable as possible. The entries include the mundane and fantastic and the modifiers allow you to really squeeze dry this pdf. In short: This is very much worth the low and fair asking price and should be considered to be a great little addition to a GM's arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
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Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2017 05:26:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Now treasure is not and should not be equal to other treasure. From strange pictures to sculptures and elaborate tobacco pouches, there are a lot of objects to which value can be ascribed. As such, the pdf goes a different route than one would expect - the first 3 tables, each of which is 20 entries strong and lists sample pieces of art, from black pottery vases to wall mirrors and rugs of white gorilla fur. These cover a lot of ground, but unlike many dressing files, they actually are governed by general price - 25 gp, 250 gp and 750 gp values each have their own table. The art objects worth 2500 gp and 7500 gp also get their own tables, each of which are btw. 10 entries strong.

Really cool - there is a mini-table of value modifiers - 4 different results on that table can yield worse or better prices for the objects, allowing you to get even more out of the material herein. So, the art aspect works pretty well - then what about those gemstones?

Well, first, we receive a small glossary of up to 4 different gem types - from translucent to opaque, the respective categories are clearly defined. We begin with two d12-entry-strong tables of the least valuable stones, gaining a d10-table for those worth 100 gp, a d6 table for gems worth 500 gp, a d8-table for gems worth 1000 gp and finally, a 4-entry-strong table of gems worth 5K gp...though that table is erroneously headed by a d6 instead of a d4 in a minor hiccup. The different qualities of gemstone allow for an even more detailed modification of base prices via a d10-table, once again getting more mileage out of every single entry.

The pdf does go on step beyond all of these, though: On the last pages, reputedly magical effects of gemstones that may or may not be true can be found and add a nice sense of magic and cohesion to the subject matter. Additionally, there is a final table that consists of two parts, both of which are 12 entries long: The first lets you determine a special property for the gemstone, while the second presents a complication and/or opportunity: From significant sizes to strange cuts and mystical glowing, the special appearances are nice - and from trapped adventurers to fakes or acting as keys, the latter similarly are interesting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to RagingS wan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standards with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer- kudos!

Richard Green's Treasures & Trinkets - installment regarding art and gems is an inspired little dressing file - that holds true in the system-neutral version as well. This is basically identical to the 5e-version, with only the evaluating DCs to determine the prices purged. This is not bad, mind you - the resulting pdf still provides a ton of mileage, but I couldn't help but wonder is some sort of additional option for the system-neutral version wouldn't have been prudent here. If you're playing both 5e and OSR material, you may thus want to go for the 5e-version; if, however, you absolutely loathe system-relevant material...well, then this one if the file to go for. For me, this iteration has a tiny bit less to offer, which is why it will "only" receive a final verdict of 5 stars - this pdf still very much represents a fantastic offering for the price-point, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (SNE)
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Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:55:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion pdf for the cleric-class clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction to the subject matter at hand, we start off with the Blood Domain...and at one glance, we can see that the spells in the domain's list are not italicized, in a pretty obvious formatting hiccup. However, wait for a second - the spells themselves make sense, so how do the features fare? Well, at 1st level, you gain proficiency in all simple and martial weapons that deal slashing or piercing damage and when you fall below 1/2 maximum hit points, you receive temporary hit points equal to twice your cleric level, but only once per short-rest-interval. If your current hit points are below half of the maximum, you gain temporary hit points of the same amount when rolling initiative...which could be interpreted in two ways: One, it is an additional effect or two, this counts towards the limit. Option one makes more sense to me, but presentation-wise, this could be slightly more elegant. One more note: Since most ranged weapons are piercing, I'd suggest caution in case you're using a lot of 3pp piercing weapons and firearms - in that case, I'd strongly suggest limiting the proficiency to slashing weapons, though that just as an aside that will not influence the final verdict.

Channel Divinity's version for the domain also makes use of the 1/2 maximum hit points threshold - allies within 60 ft. may use their reaction to attack with a slashing or piercing weapon and if these attacks hit, they add your Wisdom modifier to damage. At 11th level and 17th level, such attacks also inflict +1d8 damage or +2d8 damage, respectively. At 6th level, any 1 or 2 you roll on healing effects or damaging effects/attacks is treated as a 3 instead, which is powerful and rewards risky play. 8th level adds +1d8 damage to piercing and slashing weapons, +2d8 at 1th level. You also get to add Wisdom modifier to cleric cantrip damage. At 17th level, things become hardcore - when you reduce a creature to 0 hp, you regain channel divinity or an expanded spell slot, with the spell slot equal to half the CR of the creature damaged or 5. Thankfully, I can put away my bag of fluffy kittens - the feature can only be used twice in a long-rest-interval. All in all an interesting domain that rewards risky playstyle - you basically are at your best when at below half hit points and the same holds true for your allies. In such, this feels like an heir of 4e's bloodied mechanic, of which I never was a big fan. Still, from a neutral position, I can appreciate it.

The second domain herein would be the exorcism domain, which yields your choice of proficiency in Arcana, Insight or Intimidation at 1st level and also proficiency in Abyssal, infernal, Celestial, Sylvan or Primordial as well as heavy armor. Finally, you get the censure cantrip -bingo, not italicized. Channel Divinity allows you to turn fiends and fey and reveals their true form if they fail their Wisdom save. At 6th level, channel divinity can be used as a reaction to grant an ally within 30 ft. a reroll of a save resulting in possession or the charmed/frightened conditions - nice!! Even betetr - if said save is successful, you deal radiant damage to the creature that prompted the save - 2d8 + Cha-mod, which increases to 3d8 and 4d8 at 11th and 17th level, respectively. At 8th level, your weapon attack once per turn gains +1d8 radiant damage, +2d8 at 14th level, and you add Wisdom modifier to any cleric cantrip's damage. The 17th level feature adds a temporary banishment effect to unearthly creatures (precise list includes undead, fey, elementals, etc.) when they roll a 1 on saves versus you - including the option to potentially drop concentration in favor of the banishment. VERY cool! I love this domain. It's a specialist, sure, but it has some seriously cool mechanics!

The spirit domain nets proficiency with the herbalism kit and the spirit claw cantrip as well as proficiency in your choice of Animal Handling, Nature or Survival. You also get a totemic companion of either bear, eagle, snake or wolf - and the mechanics are amazing: You can direct this spirit as part of any other action to move and it is impervious to all but force damage and regenerates all damage after one round; however, 10 points of damage disperse it. Here's the cool thing: When you do not cast a spell (excluding curing spells) or attack, said companion gets to attack! This basically allows the player to contribute in otherwise dead/healing rounds or when concentrating. Big, big kudos!

At 2nd level, channel divinity allows for some seriously cool tricks - depending on totem spirit chosen, the activation can range from reaction to action...and they include damage resistance for yourself or an ally versus one effect, spirit companion short-range teleport (which takes an ally along, in the eagle's case or heals a target close to the destination of the snake totem!) or knock foes prone. Very, very cool - and at 6th level we get even more of these variable options. Absolutely amazing. 8th level allows the spirit companion to gain free attacks versus creatures you damage and 17th level nets resistance against cold, acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison and thunder damage, which may be a bit overkill, particularly since you may also, once per long-rest interval, grant yourself proficiency in a language, save, skill or tool. Know what this domain made me think: Ironically, it is a better, cooler representation of the shamanic concept than tribality's shaman class. It's amazing. It's the coolest domain I have read so far for 5e.

The pdf also includes, surprise, 8 new spells for the cleric, with a handy sidebar guiding the GM regarding their use/whether they're appropriate for other classes - kudos for going the extra mile there! Angelic Boon can be used as either a healing spell for allies or as a radiant damage inflicting melee spell attack. Clarion Call can rouse sleepers and end one condition like charmed, frightened or confused. Harrow deals minor psychic damage, but also adds a debuff to the creature's next roll before the end of its turn. Righteous Accusation can be upgraded with a proper and costly scroll containing a target's sins -and inflicts serious psychic damage and can cause the creature to be frightened. If the more costly version is used, the creature also receives two vulnerabilities...which is very powerful, yes...but also rewards proper legwork...and I'm pretty okay with it, in spite of the spell's damage type being pretty potent. Song of Battle is a cantrip that deals psychic damage and also adds radiant damage to a nearby ally's attack. Aforementioned Spirit Claw is basically a spell-command for the spirit companion to attack and thus does nothing without one. Spirit Wind, at 8th level inflicts selective radiant or necrotic damage to a type of creature or race and bolsters you or an ally with temporary hit points, healing or better damage, though only one benefit may be gained thus - so no, can't be kitten'd and explicitly states that deities do not look kindly upon the spell's misuse. Word of Censure, finally, would be another psychic damage-causing cantrip, but one with an interesting mechanic - if a creature affected moves closer to you, it'll take the damage a second time.

Conclusion:

Editing is top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. On the formatting side, the lack of italicization is a bit jarring. Layout adheres to Tribality Publishing's crisp and very unique 2-column full-color standard and the pdf includes the thematically-fitting, kind of photography-like artworks we've come to expect by now. The pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a minor comfort detriment at this length.

All right, while I am not sold 100% on the cantrips and the pretty potent utility they exhibit herein and while I really dislike the bloodied-style mechanics of the Blood domain, this pdf is still amazing. The exorcism domain is extremely flavorful...but it is the spirit domain that makes me smile from ear to ear. The spirit companion mechanics is a stroke of genius and allows you to actually act and do something active, even while healing allies and doing less exciting cleric stuff. Add the tactical options via the channel divinity tricks and we have a full-blown winner that is worth the low asking price all on its own. The spells similarly provide some absolutely evocative visuals. To sum up - one domain is very much a matter of taste, one is very good, one is pure amazing and the spells also should be considered to be among the better examples of their craft. In short: Brandes Stoddard's pdf is an amazing deal for any 5e-cleric (Seriously: Spirit domain. Never look back.) and deserves a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5. Excellent job!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Gods (5E)
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Bloodragers of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:51:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though you should be aware that the pdf is formatted for A5-booklet-size (6'' by9'') and thus allows you to fit up to 4 of these pages on a given sheet of A4-paper.

All right, let's begin with the new archetypes contained here, the first of which would be the Beast Brother, who gains his 1st level bloodline power at 4th level, the 4th level bloodline power at 8th level, the 8th level bloodline power at 12th level, the 12th level bloodline power at 15th level and at 20th level, he gains the 16th level bloodline power. To make up for this delayed progression, the bloodrager receives an animal companion at full druid level progression. The animal companion receives the bloodline powers when the beat brother is raging, while the beast brother gains access to any one of the special qualities the animal companion possesses. Now the wording here is a bit weird - the companion "Also" seems to gain the bloodline benefits, implying that both receive the benefits of the bloodrage....which is a very strong option. At the same time, the companion replaces the 1st, 8th and 16th level bloodline power...but that directly contradicts the notes on delayed ability gain of the bloodline powers, making the archetype an uncharacteristically non-functional one. I have no idea whether the bloodrage only applies to the companion, of whether the 3 bloodline powers are supposed to be lost or not...as presented, this does not work.

The second archetype would be the bloodcaster, who gains only a 3/4 BAB-progression, but adds all bard-spells and the abjuration and evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list to his spell list, replacing DR, Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge. Bloodrage is reduced/changed to +2 Str and Con as well as Cha. Blood Casting and Eschew Materials are gained at 1st level, with 11th level and 20th level increasing the bonuses to +4 and +6, respectively. A more caster-y bloodrager with a very potent spell-list that makes the magus cry in comparison.

The feral bloodrager gains a 1d6 bite and 2 1d4 claws when bloodraging and takes a -2 penalty to Will-saves - on a nitpick, it would have been nice to see the natural weapons specify whether they behave as primary or secondary and damage types would have been neat as well, though one can resort to the default choices. Starting at 11th level, natural weapons and weapons are treated as +1 size category when using a full attack while bloodraging, but at the cost of -2 Dex when calculating AC and Ref-saves; the crit-range of natural weapons is increased to 19-20, but conversely, the threat range of attacks versus the feral bloodrager increases by 1. I like this, engine-wise. The capstone makes bloodrage permanent, suppressed as a move action for Wis-mod rounds, with an additional size increase for the damage output of weapons. he also ignores fortification and the like and auto-confirms crits...but similarly, all crits against the bloodrager are automatically confirmed and ignore crit-negating abilities...ouch!!

The next archetype would be the scion of the blood, whose bloodrage neither conveys bonuses, nor penalties, but to make up for this, the bloodline powers of the scion's bloodlines are gained sooner: The 4th level power is gained at third and every subsequent bloodline power is gained an additional level earlier - the 8th level power is gained two levels earlier, for example. The archetype may also select a mutated bloodline's options, with the highest levels allowing for access to a related bloodline's options. The Student of Fury archetype receives a variant rage - learned rage yields +4 to Str, Con or Int, with higher levels increasing that to +6 and +8, with the option to distribute the bonuses in increments of 2 between, I assume, Int and Con - as written, it almost sounds like the Str-bonus could also be freely allocated, which would be min-maxy overkill. Instead of 1st level's bloodline power, the archetype receives an arcane pool and he may learn a magus arcana instead of a bloodrage power. Additionally, the archetype casts via Int and is a prepared spellcaster...with all the power that includes. Yeah, not comfortable with this archetype; it does not lose nearly enough for the power gain it receives.

The final archetype would be the Zen Rager, who receives a variant bloodrage he can maintain for 4 + Wisdom mod rounds, +2 rounds per level - he gains a +1 bonus to melee and thrown damage rolls as well as melee attack rolls and +3 to Will-saves. The zen rager also gains 3 temporary hit points per HD and the ability has a cooldown to prevent cycling-abuse. The upgrades increase these bonuses to +2/+4, 4 temporary hit points per HD and +3, +5 and 5 temporary hit points per HD, respectively. Instead of the 1st level's bloodline power, the archetype receives a monk-style AC-bonus while unarmored and unencumbered- Bloodline power-gain is delayed by 4 levels. All in all, perhaps my favorite herein.

Now next up would be a very interesting array of options - particularly for more down-to-earth/gritty groups - mundane bloodrager bloodlines, of which 5 are presented. The idea is genius in its simplicity, taking a bit of the very high-.magic flavor out of the bloodrager class, while still providing meaningful options. The first of these would be the Bestial bloodline which provides animal fang etc. as spells as well as a selection of correctly codified primary natural attacks, with 12th level providing advanced attack options like rend, gore etc. depending on the natural attack chosen. Being treated as animal for spell purposes and the option to treat allied animals as also bloodraging are interesting, though the latter ability is in dire need of a hard cap - otherwise putting one of these guys in an army-sized array of animals gets ridiculous pretty fast.

Second, there would be the guardian bloodline, which provides increased Constitution and AC-bonuses, with 4th level allowing for an immediate action to force an enemy attacking an ally (or casting a spell) to instead target you on a failed Will-save. This is a cool idea. However, what happens if you are not an eligible target for the attack, because you're further away/line of sight/effect is blocked? No idea. The ability looks deceptively simple and really isn't, with a lack of range and basically infinite uses, it requires further clarification. At higher levels, progressively more physical damage is converted to nonlethal damage, which is pretty cool. There also are upgrades to AC and CMD and as a capstone, you can redirect otherwise lethal attacks to you - and if you die due to those, you gain no negative levels from being resurrected. The Heroic bloodline gains a pala's smite evil, though the daily cap's wording is slightly troubling - The pdf specifies: "You can use this ability once per bloodrage, once per day, plus one additional time per day at 5th level and every 5 levels after that." -which could be read as the ability having a total cap or either a cap determined by the bloodrage, with additional uses per bloodrage hinging on the level. In short - this could be a bit more clear. Beyond that, we get the usual aura suspects.

The Hatred bloodline is interesting, in that its base ability, bloodlust, is a weapon that cuts both ways - while it nets a powerful + class level to attack and damage, it also means you have to succeed at a difficult save whenever you're damage to not fly into a murderous rage. Oh, and while the ability has a caveat that it does not stack with haste (not properly italicized), it does also yield you +1 attack versus the target at maximum BAB, which is insanely strong at 1st level. Higher levels increase speed and DR as well as damage output versus the respective adversary. I love the concept of this one, but the execution ends up as very strong. The plagued bloodline nets Charisma bonus to Fort-saves and allows you at 4th level to select on whether or not to contract a disease - oh, and you reduce damage inflicted by those. This becomes particularly relevant once you learn to coat weapons in your diseased blood, which is amazing...but imho should be gained sooner to make the playing experience unique from the get-go, instead of delaying this option to 8th level. 12th level yields a breath weapon of diseases, with the levels beyond providing higher DCs, with the capstone making you a deadly harbinger of contagion.

The pdf also features 5 wildblooded bloodlines: Eldritch, associated with the aberrant bloodline, nets you a frightening gaze at 8th level and a confusing aura at 16th...oh, and suppressing it is a standard action...ouch! The jabberwock bloodline, associated with the fey bloodline, nets you a spread burble that causes confusion or a line of sonic damage, with high-level options yielding some of the impressive defensive properties of the jabberwock. The phoenix bloodline, associated with the elemental (fire) bloodline, gains a reflexive shroud of fire with a proper cap and a capstone that has the phoenix signature auto-resurrection. The reaper bloodline, associated with the undead bloodline, has a damn cool ability at 4th level - if you hit a creature, it gains SR for healing spells! Damn cool...though the lack of a duration is troubling. At 16th level, those killed become harder to get back from the dead. The Wild Magic bloodline, associated with the arcane bloodline, lets you imbue force damage into melee attacks for a limited amount of time, with higher levels providing an increase to the enhancement bonuses of weapons wielded - this lets you basically break the +5 cap...so why not simply grant a regular bonus there instead of breaking this rule?

The pdf also contains several new feats sporting the (Blood)-descriptor, which may be taken by characters with a bloodline in place of a bloodline feat or power. Additional daily bloodline uses, gaining a bloodline power you lost due to exchanging it and increasing the damage output of such a power can be found here, with the latter being potentially problematic, considering it simply provides an x1.5 modifier for damage. Pretty cool on the non-Blood-feat side would be the option to take Con-damage to temporarily increase your Strength. Problematic, even at -2 class level s - one feat-access to a 1st level bloodline ability. Considering that passive benefits can be found there, some seriously powerful options can thus become available....and with follow-up feats, you can gain even higher level powers. Adding rage powers similarly seems like overkill to me.

The pdf also contains a couple of new spells: blood infusion allows you to temporarily share bloodline powers with allies at -2 levels, though active tricks will require the target to have an appropriate bloodrage class ability to activate. Numerical escalation is okay. The dragonblood storm is balanced in potency by the costly dragon-blood required for its effects, though groups featuring dragon PCs via ItC-Dragons, for example, should retain the cost for balance's sake. Cool: Those with the proper bloodline can instead pay in Con-damage, which seems more than fitting as balance for the power the spell offers. Quiet the Storm allows for the character to use mental skills and patience while bloodraging/engaging in raging song and helps mitigate fatigue etc., with raging strike allowing for the scaling ignoring of DR and hardness. All in all, the spell-selection here is pretty cool.

The pdf also features 2 magical weapons - the warlock's blade penalizes the saves of those hit by it and the savage gauntlet lets you literally punch holes through the hearts of foes, potentially insta-killing them - and yes, they're reasonably priced. The 3 armor special qualities include attuned, which is problematic: It makes you count as always in bloodrage for the purpose of bloodline power activation, which can become highly problematic in the case of bloodline powers balanced on the idea of bloodrage not being an infinite resource. Bloody is similarly BROKEN. Expend 1 hp per level as a free action to not expend bloodrage rounds. This is so ridiculously broken, I don't even know where to start - it allows you, with even a halfway decent healing strategy, to bloodrage infinite rounds. Blergh. calm armor eliminates the bloodrage penalties. The belt of howling fury, oddly, increases the benefits of rage, taking the unchained barbarian into account...but oddly, RAW, has no benefits for a bloodrager, specifically referring to the rage class feature. The blood-drenched handwraps can be soaked by a bloodrager via Con-damage - thereafter, they can be used by others to bloodrage and access that bloodrager's powers. Cool! Pauldrons of the Line increase the bloodrager's level by for the purpose of bloodline powers he can use - the lack of an up to character level cap and extent is pretty insane for the price-point.

The pdf comes with a cool bonus-pdf penned by Aaron Hollingsworth, which depicts the stalactaur, a CR 6 magical beast that can absorb light - thin of it as a dinosaur with razor-sharp, crystalline plates that can blind foes with flashes - and yes, the critter comes with a pretty cool full-color artwork!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good - apart from an italicization here and there, I noticed no grievous formal glitches. On a rules-language level, several wordings could have been more precise. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column standard and the pdf has nice full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Nathan Reinecke has so far delivered two superb books; in particularly his book on swashbucklers was truly impressive. I don't know what has happened in this book, but it feels rushed - while the rules-language looks precise at first glance, in several cases, it simply is not. From wide-open abilities to utterly overpowered delimitations of a limited resource, this pdf ticks off several no-goes of design... It's frustrating, really. The archetypes also feel a bit wonky in balance and, compared to the often inspired swashbuckler engines, pretty uninspired, covering the basic hybrid-y tricks. In short, this lacks the precision and passion that made me love his previous offerings and feels like the passion's not been there. The mundane bloodlines as a concept, while not perfect in execution, are intriguing and I hope to see more of them at one point. That being said, this is by far the weakest "...of Porphyra"-pdf I have analyzed in quite a while. Considering the issues I encountered (and I did not list all exploits), I can't go higher than 2.5 stars...though the low-price point and cool bonus critter make me round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodragers of Porphyra
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:50:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of 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!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped with notes on its characteristics and the PFRPG version's marketplace section has been replaced with an artwork of a tree sporting hanged men - appropriate. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but while I can't complain about a lack of stats in a system-neutral pdf, I still wished the space had been used to highlight the proceedings further with more dressing. You know, the full blown "Evil plant overlord angle. Mind-clouding sap in the local brew; the flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds, shamble around and collapse to spread the seeds of the horrid plant-thing. Some creepy cult iconography or a table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed."

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.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in its focus, why not make it shine and go all out? The pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature and its unwilling subordinates in question and certainly could have used the added room. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. However, since this is the system neutral version, I at least wasn't missing a proper unique adversary statblock, which is why I'll round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:48:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of 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!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped notes on its characteristics, but once again does not get a unique 5e-marketplace section, which is a bit of a missed chance. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? The pdf also has an issue in that it has a character in the village sport a plan, where smearing paste on the treant's roots can temporarily negate some of its abilities...which implies that the treant isn't mobile. If that were the case, just lob fire at it and be done with it. At least, in 5e (as opposed to PFRPG), plants can actually be poisoned, so that's one logic bug less for the GM to deal with.

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.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this narrow in focus and in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It falls short of what it easily could have been and its linear angle does provide some rough edges for the GM to navigate. Hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:46:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of 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!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped with proper settlement statblock characteristics as well as a marketplace section of items to pursue. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? There is another issue: One inhabitant has access to a paste, which, when smeared on the treant's roots, can take away its abilities to animate trees. Okay, why don't we get stats for that? Also, it is called a "poison" here - and guess what: Plants in PFRPG are RAW immune to poison. Worse, this implies the tree can't move, which breaks completely the whole angle - just lob fire at it and be done with it.

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.

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It lacks the stats for the unique gizmo for resolving the settlement's storyline and its implications contradict rules. In short: In a series this beloved, that has so many amazing installments, it falls flat for me and is utterly uncharacteristic for the author.

My final verdict can't go higher than 2.5 stars for this one...and I'm only rounding up because the angle, in spite of the logic issues, is too cool to deserve a 2-star-slap.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
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Animal Races: Clan of the Ox
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2017 05:52:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Animal Races-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The clan of the ox as a race is one of basically minotaurs, which, as the pdf mentions "Sacred cow" stemming from the derogatory moniker for a particularly devout individual. As such, these guys are medium humanoids with the minotaur subtype, low-light vision and a +1 natural AC-bonus that increases to +2 at 10th level. The race receives 5-ft-scent that increases in range to 30 ft. at 6th level and a 1d4 primary natural gore attack for Medium members of the clan, 1d6 for Large ones.

The bison clan receives +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Int and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat as a ranger combat style feat. Buffalo Clan members receive s+2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Cha and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat as a rage power. Ox clan therians gain +2 to Con and Wis, -2 Int and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat instead of an inquisitor teamwork feat. "Sacred Cows" gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 to Int and may gain Ox Clan Heritage instead of a paladin mercy. Water Buffaloes get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Dex and may select Ox Clan Rice Farmer as a ranger combat style feat. the Yak clan members gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int and may select Ox Clan Mountaineer instead of a revelation.

Now, what does these heritage feats unlock? To recap, if this is the first review of a pdf of this series you read - basically, they provide a selection of different abilities; the more often you take them, the more you get to choose and once you have enough of them, you unlock more powerful options, though they have a scaling prereq-caveat that prevents abuse via feat-heavy classes. Ox Clan Heritage lets you select beast of burden (which increases your carrying capacity), fast movement, improved gore, powerful charge or trample; once these have been covered, the therian may learn either improved trample or grow to Large-size. If you instead gain the Ox Clan Mountaineer, you may select fast movement, improved gore, insulated fur, powerful charge or trample. Similarly, improved trample and Large size can be taken beyond that. In case you were wondering - insulated fur renders you scentless and immune to nonlethal cold damage.

The Ox Clan Rice Farmer heritage feat allows for the selection of beast of burden, improved gore, powerful charge, swamp stride or trample - once these have been chosen, you can select improved trample, or - bingo, grow to Large size. As always, we also receive extensive notes on the genealogy of the evocative clan and the pdf dives deep into the lore of our game, tying monsters like gorgons or thanadaemons to the folklore and mythology of the clan.

The pdf also covers the deity of the ox-therians, namely Athor, also known as the eye of Ra. Beyond this nice write-up, we receive a total of 6 of the awesome heraldry traits - as we've come to expect from these, they do exceed in raw power traditional traits, but come with a slight drawback each to make up for that - no balance complaints regarding them, just fyi.

Interesting - the clan of the ox seems to love jewelry and regalia and thus, magic items they create often tend to look differently - this section can be a bit opaque. If an eye-slot item thus occupies a forehead, does this mean it occupies the headband slot? I assume that this is mostly intended to be a cosmetic modification.

The final section of the pdf may also be one of its most inspired components: The PCs can for example engage in a crossover of an aurochs drinking game and a ritual combat, explained step by step - which is amazing. Additionally, rules for Corrida and Encierro can be found herein - love these cultural practices.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the series' elegant, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for you convenience.

Eric Morton's Clan of the Ox is yet another excellent installment in the series - balanced, flavorful and interesting, the pdf doesn't leave much to be desired. And yes, age, height and weight tables are included, though no favored class options can be found. Unlike other such offerings, there are already a couple of nice minotaur-ish options as competition, though the balance herein is pretty immaculate. I do think that there is more potential for the race than necessarily realized here, but the pdf remains an interesting, smart option. I am only nitpicking at a very high level here, though -. my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Ox
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Monster Classes: Woodlands
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2017 05:51:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, slightly more than 1 page of glossary, leaving us with ~12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It's Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of "Play monsters"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let's not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren't really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn't work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

The first creature herein would be the pseudodragon, who gets -4 Str, +4 Dex (minmaxy...), is Tiny, immune to sleep and paralysis, has a base speed of 15 ft., darkvision and low-light vision, +2 natural AC. The monster class covers 2 levels and nets d12 HD, full BAB-progression, all good saves, 6 + Int skills per level and only proficiency with natural weapons. 1st level starts with a primary 1d2 bite attack as well as a primary 1d2 sting attack with 5 ft. reach, negating a key issue Tiny characters face. The race starts with SR 10 + HD and telepathy 60 ft. At 1st level, pseudodragons get 30 ft. fly speed with good maneuverability, increasing then by +30 ft. at 2nd level. 2nd level also nets a scaling blindsense of 5 ft. per HD, capping at 120 ft. and +4 to Stealth checks, which doubles in forests and woodland areas. 2nd level also unlocks an infinite daily use soporific poison to be delivered via the stinger. Attribute-bonus-wise, the class nets +2 Con and +2 Wis.

I...have no serious complaints here. While certainly not weak, the race is playable, if a bit lopsided. It should not result in any issues in games that contemplate using these guys. If I had one gripe here, it would be that either blindsense or the Stealth-bonus is slightly overkill in my book, but yeah. Nice job!

Next up would be the treant, who receives +2 Str and Int, is a Medium plant with low-light vision, +4 to Stealth in woodlands, +2 natural AC and vulnerability to fire. The monster class for these fellows covers 12 levels and gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with natural and simple weapons, d8 HD and 2 + Int-mod skills per level. The class begins with a 1d4 slam that increases to 1d6 at 4th, 1d8 at 8th and 2d6 at 12th level. 2nd level and every even level thereafter increases natural AC by +2. 3rd level unlocks tree speech, 2nd rock throwing with a 40-ft.-range increment that improves in steps to a whopping 180 ft. at 12th level. 5th level nets DR 5/slashing, which improves to DR 10/slashing at 10th level. 4th level provides a size increase to Large, with 12th level providing another to Huge size. 6th level provides trample, 7th double damage versus objects (which makes them excellent sunder-builds) and 7th and 10th level increase natural camouflage to +8 and +16 respectively. Animate trees is unlocked at 12th level. Attribute-gain-wise, we receives +16 Str, - 2 Dex (at 12th level), +12 Con, +6 Wis, +2 Cha for a total of 34 attribute points...and yep, we're once again at that point. The entry also sports an animated tree statblock. I'd consider this worthwhile from an analysis perspective...if "In the Company of Treants" did not exist, which provides multiple treants-races that are suitable for diverse power-levels and work without being lopsided and this blown up with attribute gains. Get the ItC-book if you want to play treants. Next.

The third race/monster class-combo would be the winter wolf, who gets +2 Str and Con, - Int, are magical beasts with the cold subtype and thus gain cold immunity and vulnerability to fire. Winter wolves are fast (40 ft.) and get both low-light vision and darkvision, +6 to Stealth in snowy terrain, +2 Survival and +1 AC. As quadrupeds, they increase their CMD regarding trip by 4. The monster class comes with full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level and only proficiency with natural weapons. They begin play with a 1d6 primary bite that increases to 1d8 at 4th level. Said bite deals +1d6 cold damage. First level and every odd level thereafter increase the natural AC bonus by +2. Second level nets trip and a conical 15.-ft. cold breath weapon with a 1d4 cooldown. This contradicts the table, which states 2d6 damage and increases that by +1d6 at every level thereafter. Speaking of which: Scent is either gained at 2nd level or 3rd, depending on whether you believe text or table. 4th level nets +10 ft. movement as well as a size increase to Large. 5th level nets + 2 to Perception and Stealth. Attribute-bonus-wise, we're looking at +8 Str, +2 Dex, +6 Con, +2 Wis, for a net-gain of 18, making the winter wolf pretty geared towards martial pursuits.

The infinite breath weapon, while true to the critter, will disqualify these guys for quite a few games and the pdf does not address the question of magic item slots for winter wolves; I assume the default of animal companions...but one could argue otherwise.

The pdf concludes with 11 feats, partially reprints of monster feats like Awesome Blow. The other feats are interesting, allowing winter wolves to change the shape of their breath weapon...or manipulate objects with their mouths or wield weapons...jep, if you wanted to make a Sif-build from Dark Souls...there you go. This feat is damn cool. At the same time, I am not quite sure how this feat would interact with a being with arms using it to wield a weapon in the mouth...and frankly, I think the feat should lock that possibility down. Mystic Mimicry for the pseudodragon is pretty powerful. When you succeed a saving throw versus SP, spell, psi power, etc., you may store part of it - this energy can be expelled as a 1d8 force damage breath weapon that depends in potency on either creature HD or spell/power-level. I'd increase that 2nd-level prerequisite here, since the damage type remains very potent. Nice one, to end this review on a high note: Humanoid-skinchanging winterwolves.

As always, the pdf comes with a glossary of monster abilities.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the pdf sports both unnecessary glitches and a couple of annoying formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf has some bookmarks. The artwork is nice this time around.

Jeffrey Swank's Monster Classes depicting woodland beings...is actually one of the better ones in the series. I can see both pseudodragon and winter wolf work in most contexts, with the infinite breath weapon constituting issues for lower-powered games. I'd suggest tweaking them to have a hard cap in such games, but that is a pretty simple operation. The treant is, unfortunately, pretty much inferior in every way when compared to Rite's massive take on the playable treant. As a whole, this is pretty much a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side, and thus receives a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Woodlands
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Psionics Augmented: Kineticists
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2017 08:19:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third of the so far thoroughly mega-impressive psionics/occult-crossover-pdfs clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After the by now obligatory introduction that explains the interaction and thematic foci of both psionics and psychic magic, we begin this pdf with the Avant Guard archetype for the kineticist. The Avant Guard gains Autohypnosis and Knowledge (psionics) as class skills. Instead of the usual level 1 utility wild talent, the archetype receives magnum opus as a bonus wild talent. While the archetype still chooses a primary element, he does not receive the simple blast or basic utility wild talent, nor the defense talent at 2nd level - though in that one's case, the matter is slightly more complex. The archetype receives the psionic feat Wild Talent as a bonus feat and while it alters elemental focus, it is explicitly exempt from the rule of thus not qualifying for other elemental focus-modifying archetypes, provided the combo has still the above list of options to give up.

Instead of accepting burn as a regular kineticist would, these fellows may, in a ritual, sculpt their elemental, metacreativity-laden powers inwards, sculpting them into shape. While doing so, the archetype may accept a number of points of burn determined by class level, with higher levels also providing a burn reduction on a 3 to 1-basis for wild talents and other abilities. Now I do have an issue with the fact that the ability can even reduce the burn of wild talents that are usually exempt from having burn reduced, mainly since this is used as a balancing caveat in quite a few instances, though I do understand the reason, considering the massively-changed construct this archetype represents as well as the hard cap - only one wild talent may be kept in effect at a given time and the avant guard may otherwise not accept burn, which significantly hampers the flexibility of the archetype's options. So yes, while the option can potentially generate problems in future-proofing etc., I understand the design rationale. Additionally, the archetype may employ Con instead of Int as governing attribute for the purpose of Craft (sculpture).

Okay, at this point, it is necessary to talk about the utility wild talents of the archetype, namely magnum opus: The magnum opus is an astral construct of a level equal to the burn accepted during the aforementioned sculpting process, at which time menu choices etc. are similarly made. As a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, you can deploy said magnum opus, with a daily cap of burn accepted during the sculpting + Con-mod, min 1, with each copy coming at full hit points. Great catch: Yep, construct-enhancing feats etc. do apply. Now where things get interesting is with the stand together simple blast: Instead of being resolved as a blast, it offers two options: Assault and Battery: Assault required a ranged touch attack and basically is treated as though the magnum opus had hit the target, with additional effects added depending on elemental overflow etc.; in the aftermath of the blast, the magnum opus is created in an unoccupied space adjacent to the target. Battery can prompt the attack on an already deployed magnum opus, with burn accepted equaling the bonus it receives and substance infusions applying.

The astute reader may have noticed that this array would potentially offer the option to cheese action economy, but the pdf thankfully does prevent such exploits - and before you're asking: Only one magnum opus may be deployed at a given time - until 16th level, when a second one may be deployed. Thirdly, there would be the get back utility wild talent, which provides a scaling percentile chance of the magnum opus taking damage instead of the avant guard. The effect may btw. be dismissed and restored, takes into account choice, additional effects, etc. - very complex and very cool. Get back, in case you were wondering, replaces the elemental defense, while stand together replaces the standard simple blast of the archetype's chosen element. Similarly, the burn accepted does not convey the usual benefits and instead enhances the respective magnum opus. Starting at 6th level, the avant guard may bestow additional menu choices on the magnum opus, with 11th level providing a partial infusion of the chosen element - these range from aether's ability to add natural AC bonus to touch AC, full fly speed, earth glide, etc - the options are pretty cool, and they better be, they are replacing internal buffer, after all. As a capstone, the avant guard may replace his own bodily form with a magnum opus for brief periods of time, inhabiting basically the connection between his shunted away body and the magnum opus created.

This archetype is very, very smart - it is complex, powerful and flavorful and there is a reason the cover was chosen - with only the tiniest of flavor-disjoint (regarding personality maintenance - and that can be solved via roleplaying), the archetype allows you to make Full Metal Alchemist a viable playing option. And yes, I really like that series, its problematic subtext none withstanding - how could I not? So yeah - color me impressed.

The second archetype herein would be the gambler, who receives Autohypnosis, Bluff and Sense Motive as class skills. Instead of elemental focus, this archetype receives gambler's blast as a simple talent, which uses the active energy type as a means to govern its damage type - though earth and sonic as associated never made much sense to me. Oh well. The gambler receives access to psionic powers of up to 6th level, drawn from their own list of powers. Power points scale from 1 to 70 and powers known begin with 2 and increase to 21 at 20th level. The governing attribute for the gambler's powers would be, surprise, Constitution. True to the name, the archetype has a unique way in which burn affects the archetype: Not at all...at least at first: On a natural 1 on a saving throw or attack roll, the gambler loses power points equal to her current amount of burn times her character level, with excess points lost being applied as the usual, non-healing damage. However, each such backlash incurred resets burn to 0. A gambler can accept 1 burn per round, +1 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, with a maximum cap of 3 + Con-mod, though external forces can catapult her above this limit.

Instead of supercharge and gather power, the gambler may, as a move action convert burn into short-lived temporary power points that vanish after class level round. Good call: The ability explicitly forbids cheesing via power point granting power manifestation. and the ability, dubbed "cash out", btw., cannot be used in the same turn as wager and vice versa. Cashing out is loud and visible and the number of power points gained in conversion increases to 3 per point of burn converted, 4 at 20th level. Yeah, you know what this means, right? It means infinite power points. Picture me pinching the ridge of my nose hard right there. Though, one should mention that there are several safeguards in place: For one, the archetype explicitly forbids the use of said power points for powers granted by other classes, preventing the worst cheese there. Secondly, the set-up and short duration and action economy restrictions ultimately mean that, in practice, you can't maintain a steady flow of infinite casting. It does mean, however, that you'll never truly run out of power - you'll sputter at one point, though. When the gambler cashes out, the benefits of elemental overflow persist for 1 round before vanishing. From a design perspective, I am pretty impressed by the engine here. In order to fully discuss this archetype, we need to look at the wagers first, though:

Now, instead of infusions, the gambler receives wagers - a total of 6 of these are provided: Ante Up can only be performed when burn is 0 and results in accepting maximum allowed burn - on a failed Will-save, which is weak for the gambler, she takes a 1-round serious penalty: High stakes are the theme of the class and this is also represented in Blistering Bluff, which is basically a gathering power-feint that can result in a blast versus an opponent that is treated as flat-footed. Minor complaint: There is no RAW way to determine the nature of this bluff; out game, you know that gathering power's not part and parcel of the gambler's tricks, but in-game...not. Anyways, on a hit, burn of subsequent wagers is reduced, while misses (unlikely though these may be) result in the gaining of 1 point of burn. Double or Nothing is an ability you love or hate - Physical blast. If you hit, you threaten a critical hit. If you lose, you suffer backlash. Elemental Roulette allows for the lacing of powers into blasts and the random change to an active energy type. Raise the stakes is pretty strong and allows the gambler to lace a psionic power manifested subsequently into her blasts, managing to get the complex rules-language done. Finally, Spell Tell is damn cool: It allows for blast AoOs and makes nearby spellcasters provoke AoOs from the gambler.

5th level and every 5 levels thereafter increase the blast range by 30 ft. At 2nd level, the archetype receives a powerful defensive trick: 1+ Con-mod times per day, the gambler may expend her psionic focus as an immediate action to short-range teleport, replacing elemental defense

Starting at 5th level, the gambler can increase or reduce the burn cost of wagers by 1 (even exceeding the per-round cap), with 8th and every 4 levels thereafter increasing the allowed increase/reduction by a further plus/minus 1, replacing infusion specialization, internal buffer and composite specialization. 5th level and every 4 thereafter net a bonus metapsionic feat instead of metakinesis, while 19th level reduces a metapsionic feat's power point cost by 2. 7th level provides live dangerously: When saving successfully versus the active energy, the gambler takes no damage and increases her burn by the maximum number allowed. I am puzzled by "At 15th level, the gambler chooses cold, electricity, fire or sonic." Whenever the ability is activated? I assume this choice is supposed to replace the active element? Or is that an always active choice in addition to the active element? I am honestly not sure. Instead of omnikinesis, the archetype receives a powerful ability that allows the gambler to ignore any maximum burn limit, blazing in raw psionic power.

The gambler is a complex game of resource management I absolutely love regarding its interaction of burn and psionic powers - the idea to make burn a resource may take a bit away from the very concept, but the execution is really interesting, engaging in a smart and deliberate play of resources and actions that takes a bit to wrap one's head around, but once one does, it is a rewarding experience.

That being said, it is still infinite casting. Yes, it is limited by action economy and once you're down to 0 power points, you're no dynamo of awesome, but a sputtering battery...but this does not change the fact that grittier campaigns should disallow this archetype by virtue of this fact alone. From a personal perspective, I will never allow this RAW anywhere near my game unless I'm playing a high-powered game with prominent infinite resources à la Path of War. It's not broken per se, but it can be, depending on the type of game you're running. If you're like me and really enjoy the framework and the game of resource management this offers, but prefer a grittier gameplay, there are basically two easy modifications you could employ: 1) Tie the maximum burn the gambler may accept to the current power points; this'll require some math-skills, obviously. The easier (though less elegant) move would be to simply put a hard cap of daily uses on cash out, 1/2 level plus Con-mod, for example. Yeah, you can tell I like this archetype's framework and design, even if the particular execution needlessly restricts the archetype's appeal to more high fantasy environments.

The pdf also provides a variety of diverse feats that include a simple blast and wild talent via a feat, though at added burn cost, it is interesting. Composite energy admixture, a skald/bard-crossover-feat can be found and there would be a dual-wielding kinetic blade talent for a single off-hand attack is pretty powerful - personally, I would have made that the focus of an archetype or PrC, but yeah. A monk/kineticist multi-class feat can also be found here. There are also some reprints here: I am no fan of Altered Life, which replaces Con with Wis or Cha as HP-governing attribute and the flicker gauntlet has been reproduced here as well. For the avant guard's convenience, the pdf also contains the relevant rules-information for the astral constructs the archetype employs.

The new simple blasts both are problematic: Sound blast and, worse, athanatic blast are basically non-resisted energy types, with the latter's energy having been introduced in "The Seventh Path" - pure positive energy. These will not go anywhere near my games. Creatures and NPCs have no means of protection there. Sound blast counting as air for infusions is also...well, not the biggest fan there. (Also is internally inconsistent - sonic energy is associated with earth in quite a few abilities herein.) The pdf also has 3 composite blasts, with the psionic exclusive half elemental/half physical physical blast of crystalline needles being okay. Overwhelming life can be gained at 5th level, which is very low for the relatively reliable Con-damage it and its associated disease offer. A substance infusion that generate hampering barriers is intriguing. Finally, there are 3 new utility talents, with telepathy being nice. Primordial Flame is insane: As a full-round action, 0 burn and psionic focus expenditure, you can force a target within 30 ft. to save or DIE. No SR and it may even affect creatures immune to fire. And it leaves precious treasure intact and still deals damage on a successful save. WTF?? No, not at required level 8. Not gonna happen. The final talent allows for close range terrain control - which is pretty cool and, at level 6, it makes for a cool choice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in either the formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf comes with great full color artworks. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version and both versions come fully bookmarked.

Oh boy. Forrest Heck is a brilliant designer. I adore her two archetypes, even though the gambler will be modified in my games to adhere to a more conservative power-level. Still, they represent not only superb craftsmanship, they also exhibit a level of artistry that I absolutely adore. That being said, the supplemental material featured herein feels less refined, is less universally appealing: If you're playing in a high-powered game with Path of War options or the like, you may see no issue with the save or suck and the particular balancing of the options; you may not care about athanatic energy being basically on par with force damage, lacking valid counter-strategies for pretty much all vanilla creatures and classes. I do. I very much do care and it was the central reason Seventh Path did not receive higher accolades from yours truly. In short: The pdf builds, thankfully only in part, on a flawed fundament.

At the same time, the avant guard and gambler are profoundly unique and amazing takes on the engine that I really, really enjoy. I can't universally recommend this installment of the series, but I very much can state that the avant guard alone may be worth the asking price. This pdf has sports serious inspiration and while I do not consider it to be perfect, it is still a good purchase - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Kineticists
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Mutations Mutable
Publisher: Violent Media
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2017 08:18:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The idea is pretty simple: You have 5 pages, each of which sports 6 mutations. You take 12 or 20 of them, put them on a chart and roll - the pdf suggests 1d12 or 1d20 for that. Mutations may replace previous versions of the mutation, stack with it, reverse it, etc. Yep, this does mean that the respective mutations have several degrees of severity, which you determine by rolling 1d6, with the higher results yielding the more potent abilities.

The pdf has an interesting 1st-level spell which mutates the target...but if it saves, the caster must save as well to avoid being mutated! I really like this, as it emphasizes the danger inherent in magic and makes magic...well, feel more like magic.

So, what do the respective mutations cover Well, let's take a look at scaled skin: That one can yield either psoriasis, ichtyosis vulgaris or actually armor-bonus-granting scales. You could also turn into an anthropomorphic dragonfly (which RAW, weirdly, does not have the mandibles of the middle mutation)...and there would be boils that can actually scald those popping them...but is the damage applies to an attacker? The one with the boils? The mutations are per se imaginative, but their rules-language simply could be more precise.

Spinnerets, scorpion stingers, snake tongues, which nets "+1/6 for searching where smell is relevant" - that should probably be 1d6 or +1 in 6 chance or something like that, when referencing how that is usually phrased in LotFP and some other OSR systems... What kind of plague do plague buboes inflict? On the plus side, diverse metals as skin is interesting. A mutation that splits the character in multiples refers erroneously to wizard instead of mutatee. Players retain control over the characters...but that makes me wonder if the split copies have a kind of self-sustaining drive. The process may be reversed by consuming the copies, you see...A wizard pearl growing in the throat is cool idea-wise...but does that impede breathing/swallowing/talking? You get the idea: The mutations are interesting, but could be slightly more precise in their respective effects.

The pdf also contains 3 magic items, the first of which would be the returning vial, which raises all nearby its possessor when the creature is slain...but those raised receive several mutations. Secondly, there would be the pipes of abandon that cause those that hear its tunes to be forced to dance, granting powerful benefits...but at the cost of being aged and the player risks mutation. Thirdly, there would be a wand that casts spells as though they were 1d6 levels higher...ouch. Depending on the precise system used, this can be pretty potent...but, once again - excessive use will mutate you.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are pretty good. On a rules-language level, these aspects could be slightly more precise. Layout adheres to a 1-column/2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no unique artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't necessarily require them at this length.

Edward Lockhart's little mutation engine does not stand up to the more massive ones I have for diverse systems, from OSR to PFRPG etc. This does have a raison d'être, though - this is PWYW, after all, and as such, is actually worth taking a look at if you need a quick mutation array. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mutations Mutable
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