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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:14:17

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!

Lanthorn is a peculiar settlement - named for the magical lanterns set atop its gates, the perpetually-shrouded village is situated under a massive overhang in Kuldor Pass, where winters are long and cruel and summers but brief. Heavily defended and fortified, the settlement controls traffic through the pass and represents a gateway to the untamed wilderness beyond. Governed by a conclave of powerful wizards with an economy fueled by adventurers and fortune-seekers commissioning magic items, the village also is home to a thoroughly atypical tribe of matriarchal goblins the Flaming Skull tribe, who also act as the village's miners, digging strange and potent metals from the earth for their eldritch masters. These goblins have also found a pool of bubbling, highly volatile liquid deep within the mines, which helps against the ever-present threat of trolls...which seem to be drawn to the mines in an inexplicable compulsion.

Indeed, the theme of a city under siege and goblin propensity towards lighting foes ablaze both are represented well in the depiction of the unique settlement, making it feel very much unique - and yes, the alliance between the grand conclave of sublime artificers and the flaming skull has resulted in almost all shops being owned by goblins...so while healing services can be found, they often boil down to experimental surgery and cauterization and food...well. Let's just say that it's available. Half-orcs seem to also be viable business owners here, lending a martial and somewhat rough-and-tumble edge to the settlement, while at the same emphasizing arcane sophistication in a weird, yet compelling blending of themes. It should come as no surprise that goblins are pretty keen on making lots of wands of fireball in a place where some families actually have a troll-baiting and - burning history.

From a rules-relevant perspective, we get the proper pieces of information regarding the settlement's demographics and the classic market-place section is similarly included and properly modified to represent 5e's stance on magic items. Kudos for not simply cutting that one - the custom result really is appropriate for the settlement!! Prices of food and accommodation can be found for the respective establishments and, as always, 6 whispers and rumours have been included as red herrings/adventure seeds to further develop or ignore. The pdf also includes the classic sections of lore that PCs may be familiar with and a total of 6 events that the GM can use to further kickstart adventuring, should the PCs dawdle. As a minor complaint, the second entry reads "As #2, but this merchant caravan..." - that should be "As #1...".

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement's demographics-section, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities - that we don't get siege weapon/magic device stats for them is somewhat a lost chance. Similarly, aforementioned volatile troll-exploding liquid would have deserved proper alchemical stats as far as I'm concerned. The marketplace just notes double fire damage...double of what? On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches beyond aforementioned minor hiccup in the event table. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Maciej Zagorski, 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.

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls and the 5e-marketplace-section are certainly appreciated. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. At the same time, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of mechanical stats for the eponymous lanterns and the killer-troll-burn liquid, which are obvious key components of the village. Sure, a GM could handwave those...but having precise stats for them would have been the icing on the cake, at least for me. Hence, the 5e-version is equal to the PFRPG-version in what it offers and lacks and misses my seal of approval by a small margin, making the pdf clock in at 5 stars. Good step up for the 5e-village backdrops!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:10:40

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!

Lanthorn is a peculiar settlement - named for the magical lanterns set atop its gates, the perpetually-shrouded village is situated under a massive overhang in Kuldor Pass, where winters are long and cruel and summers but brief. Heavily defended and fortified, the settlement controls traffic through the pass and represents a gateway to the untamed wilderness beyond. Governed by a conclave of powerful wizards with an economy fueled by adventurers and fortune-seekers commissioning magic items, the village also is home to a thoroughly atypical tribe of matriarchal goblins the Flaming Skull tribe, who also act as the village's miners, digging strange and potent metals from the earth for their eldritch masters. These goblins have also found a pool of bubbling, highly volatile liquid deep within the mines, which helps against the ever-present threat of trolls...which seem to be drawn to the mines in an inexplicable compulsion.

Indeed, the theme of a city under siege and goblin propensity towards lighting foes ablaze both are represented well in the depiction of the unique settlement, making it feel very much unique - and yes, the alliance between the grand conclave of sublime artificers and the flaming skull has resulted in almost all shops being owned by goblins...so while healing services can be found, they often boil down to experimental surgery and cauterization and food...well. Let's just say that it's available. Half-orcs seem to also be viable business owners here, lending a martial and somewhat rough-and-tumble edge to the settlement, while at the same emphasizing arcane sophistication in a weird, yet compelling blending of themes. It should come as no surprise that goblins are pretty keen on making lots of wands of fireball in a place where some families actually have a troll-baiting and - burning history.

From a rules-relevant perspective, we get the proper pieces of information regarding the settlement's stats and the classic market-place section is similarly included. The settlement's stats make use of the under siege property, which has been included for your convenience. Prices of food and accommodation can be found for the respective establishments and, as always 6 whispers and rumours have been included as red herrings/adventure seeds. The pdf also includes the classic sections of lore that PCs may be familiar with and a total of 6 events that the GM can use to further kickstart adventuring, should the PCs dawdle. As a minor complaint, the second entry reads "As #2, but this merchant caravan..." - that should be "As #1...".

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement statblock, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities - that we don't get siege weapon/magic device stats for them is somewhat a lost chance. Similarly, aforementioned volatile troll-exploding liquid would have deserved proper alchemical stats as far as I'm concerned: The marketplace just notes double fire damage...double of what? On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches beyond aforementioned minor hiccup in the event table. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map by Maciej Zagorski, 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.

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls makes the tribe work even in the context of PFRPG's re-envisioned and modified goblins. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. At the same time, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of mechanical stats for the eponymous lanterns and the killer-troll-burn liquid, which are obvious key components of the village. Sure, a GM could handwave those...but having precise stats for them would have been the icing on the cake, at least for me. Hence, the Pathfinder-version misses my seal of approval by a small margin, making the pdf clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Lanthorn
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Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2017 04:41:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Psionics Augmented-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages f content, so let's take a look!

Psicrystals have always been a crucial, distinct feature of the psionics system as far as I'm concerned; the idea of taking a part of one's personality, extracting it and having it float along as an externalized component of a facet of your personality has pretty much been roleplaying gold, as far as I'm concerned. Thus, the introduction of this pdf's content, which talks about the different types of psicrystals, how they're created and the interaction with them, at least to me, represented a tantalizing reading experience. This section also deals explicitly with the details of repairing psicrystals and provides an expansion for Psicrystal Affinity: For the purpose of this feat, all feats that depend on it and all abilities that stem from it, all psionic class levels are treated as manifester levels - this, among other things, makes psicrystals relevant for a whole new cadre of psionic classes. Building on Psicrystal Affinity, there is a new feat herein that represents a gateway to an array of new tricks, namely Superior Psicrystal - the type of option I am talking about would be the attuned psicrystal.

Provided a character has the feat and 5th level, the psicrystal gains significant additional benefits that depend on the class chosen: Psychic Warriors receive better natural AC and more hit points for their crystals, Wilder psicrystals can absorb the negative effects of psychic enervation, with scaling daily uses. Kineticist psions (not the base class, the psychokinesis specialists!) gain free augmentation power points when channeled through the crystal, rewarding the teamwork-use; telepaths can, for example, borrow the sighted ability. Marksmen may use their psicrystals to negate Dex-bonuses to AC or even evasion, while soulknives may attack through the psicrystal and e.g. dread or cryptic may have their psicrystal employ their own tricks. Finally, the collective-generating classes receive appropriate bonuses for the inclusion of the psicrystal - all of these powerful benefits, mind you, are balanced via scaling daily uses and some are pretty complex rules-operations, in spite of the deceptive brevity of the material - so yeah, impressive.

The pdf goes on, however - there is another type of psicrystal included here, the cognizance psicrystal, which is also unlocked via Superior Psicrystal. And yes, before you're asking - these manifestations of the psicrystal feat are mutually exclusive. Cognizance psicrystals can store power points; the master can store these as a move action, reclaim them as a free action; these stored power points can be used to fuel manifestations.

There is a third option unlocked via the feat would be the merging ritual which allows the psionic character to merge the psicrystal with animals etc., creating a familiar-like crystallized creature: This creature behaves like a psicrystal sans the sighted and self-propulsion abilities; the amalgam has the higher Intelligence score between psicrystal and the creature's Intelligence, with unintelligent base forms treat their Intelligence as 1 instead. While the base creature thus uses the base form of the animal companion, the psicrystal-infused creature does not require Handle Animal. The base level of the psionic determines btw. the base forms available and the respective implanted psicrystal has its own little table of gained abilities.

Another option would be the empowered psicrystal - this option nets a +2 bonus to Intelligence and a doubled range for sighted, telepathic speech and sight link ranges. Beyond these, they get to choose psi-like abilities.

There is also the weapon psicrystal - and yes, the rules are concise and once again feature their own table. As an aside: I LOVE this option. My player's favorite legendary weapon I designed for my games was "The Blade of Shards", a blade of fragmented minds of psicrystals whose owners had become insane; in order to wield the weapon, one had to accept that one sooner or later would join the cacophonous choir or bloodthirsty mind-fragments contained in the blade. It could generate storms of razor-sharp crystals, extend...etc. I had to build that weapon from scratch back in the day, whereas here, we have a balanced, more subdued engine that makes for a great base-line for such designs, though obviously, the focus here is more on making an intelligent blade that shares part of your personality.

Beyond all of these options, we also receive a plethora of new feats herein, which interact smoothly with the new options and build upon them Cortex Strike allows, for example, to add sneak attack damage to psionic weapon when used in conjunction with the psionic weapon version of Superior Psicrystal. Yes, there is an Improved follow-up feat - which converts the damage to psychic damage, being usually one of those damn make-believe damage types I harp on about...but considering the steep feat-investment and the fact that it converts sneak attack, an often subpar damage-option, makes me actually okay with it, just this once. ;)

Flexible Personality is a true gem, not only for benefit-purposes, but also for RPG-purposes - 1/day, as a standard action, you can change your psicrystal's personality, which makes all kinds of sense to me and can be absolute roleplaying gold. Of course, enhancers for aforementioned Psi-like abilities of the empowered version. The option to allows a psicrystal to refocus as long as you still have power points increases their utility and flexibility as well. Focusing weapons for reducing critters to 0 Hp can potentially be cheesed in a ridiculous scenario based on iterative attacks slaying kittens, but the scenario is so out there and limited in its effectiveness, not even I want to really complain there. Combining Cleave with Psionic Weapon's focus expenditure is interesting - as is the option to forego regular damage and sneak attack damage when attacking with a psicrystal weapon to instead inflict Strength damage...sounds cheap? Well, it kinda is, but the required expenditure of psionic focus imposes a sufficient tax on the option...as does the array of prerequisites required to take the feat. Also really cool - psicrystals that may shed their body analogue to the uncarnate class feature.

The pdf also provides two new psionic powers: Autorecall lets you immediately recall your psicrystal , with an augment for immediate action recalls as well, allowing for some amazing tactics, even before the option to get a kind of contingency-like recall for the crystal. Hide Psicrystal is actually more flavorful than you'd think - it's not simply a cloaking power, it fuses the crystal with your body.Aegis gain a new 1 point customization and soulknives a new blade skill for use with the psicrystal options herein and, very, very cool and seriously overdue: We close with a nice, complex and greatly expanded list of psicrystal personalities. Kudos indeed!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from stuff like its/it's or an inconsistent formatting of psicrystal abilities (sometimes italicized, sometimes not). Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fulyl bookmarked for your convenience as well as with a nice, more printer-friendly second version. The pdf sports a nice full-color artwork as well.

Andreas Rönnqvist seems to effortlessly put his boot down in this pdf and squashes any doubt regarding his capabilities; one of the original masterminds behind DSP's psionics, he creates a pdf that looks pretty humble at first glance. But only at first glance - oh boy, does this deliver!

The options for the new psicrystal variants in this pdf are incredibly diverse and allow for a ton of customization, sure - but they don't scream loud in your face what you should do with them. Instead, this pdf takes a bit of time to simmer, a bit of contemplation, until you realize that vast amount of amazing stuff you can do with this. Taking one crucial, yet neglected component of psionics and expanding its identity to this extent is amazing. Doing so while retaining balance of the options presented is glorious. From the gem-possessed animal to the intelligent blade, this book represents a cornucopia of not only viable rollplaying options, but also pure ROLEplaying gold, extending psionic concepts in an impressive manner.

Instead of throwing archetypes at s, we receive a smooth and yet complex extension of the base psicrystal rules that add a whole new, amazing dimension to them. I not only love this pdf, I consider it also to be the very first psionics augmented book that is, without a doubt, a must-own addition for everyone using Ultimate Psionics. Class does not matter, neither does race; no matter whether your game is high-powered or low-powered, this pdf feels like an organic extension of Ultimate Psionics. It will not break low-powered, gritty games and it will have sufficient oomph and impact for the high-powered ones. In short: This is a little masterpiece and an absolute must-buy for all fans of psionics. 5 stars + seal of approval...and for campaigns with psionics, this is essential...hence, this receives my EZG Essential-tag and also is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. Best expansion you can currently buy for psionics, with only the glorious Living Legend and Mind and Soul coming close, and these two are more specific in their appeal, focusing on archetypes. In short: Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Cyphermage
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2017 04:38:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 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 class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the cypher mage, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. Cypher mages may also select additional bonus languages. Cyphermages must choose between an arcane school and arcane bond; in the former case, they're locked into divination. They may also choose a wizard bonus feat in lieu of a cypher lore.

Cypher lore would be the talent-array of the prestige archetype, with the first gained at 1st level and subsequent lores being unlocked at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, meaning that the class, as presented, sports some serious player agenda. These include bypassing symbols, automatically analyzing scrolls, extended summon-lists, metamagic-enhancers of scrolls, better giant-mind subversion, using Int instead of Cha for UMD

Cypher mages cast spells from scrolls at +1 caster level higher than that of the scroll and +1 to checks to activate scrolls with CLs exceeding his own. Cypher mages also receive a cypher pool equal to his "Intelligence bonus + 1/2 class level" (that's usually presented the other way round, to engage in a cosmetic nitpick) - these points may be expended to increase the CL of a scroll by 1 or the DC to recognize a spell by 5, but at the cost of increasing the activation to a full-round action - and yes, this can be used in conjunction with spontaneous metamagic. And yes, dear readers - the aforementioned summoning enhancer is actually new and not something the base PrC had - so kudos! A known cypher lore that requires a swift action to activate may be chosen at 10th level and thereafter be activated as a free action, with 14th and 18th level adding another one to the array.

2nd level yields Scribe Scroll and the capstone yields the bonus to saves versus glyphs etc. - a less bland capstone would have been nice to see in this redesign.

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a cyphermage adept based on one of those classes, you're in luck. It should also be noted that these modifications this time around are more complex than in other installments

The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. 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 take on the cypher mage is a definite step up from the PrC - the prestige archetype is well-crafted, fun and solid - the cypher points add player agenda from the get-go and make the experience of playing the class more interesting than it would be without them. While I would have loved that class feature to be more interwoven and while the capstone still isn't that impressive, we have a good installment on our hands here. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Cyphermage
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Fetishistic Arcana
Publisher: Violent Media
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2017 04:36:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, though it should be noted that they're formatted for A5 (6'' by 9'')-sized booklets; you can fit 4 of them on one sheet of paper, if you choose to print them out, so let's take a look, shall we?

So, on the first page, we actually get a public domain extract from a German ethnographic collection, including a bit of text, which was somewhat hilarious and fitting to me, contextualizing the concept presented within these pages. So, what are fetishes in the context of this pdf? They are items that must be worn or held and their construction requires the arts and a ritual, but not necessarily any staggering costs and any of these fetishes may be used by any spellcaster. A total of 12 such fetishes are included in the pdf, with 4 qualifying as ancient fetishes - more on those later.

Well, for once, they represent items that low-level magic-users can have. That make them somewhat less of a liability. GASP I know, I know, heresy and all such, but let me state something here for a second: I'm all for weak casters at low levels. It explains why the land's not flooded with arch wizards and makes getting to the levels where you can pulverize whole legions an accomplishment to be proud of. It's the reason I prefer even my rules-heavy systems to have an imbalance in the progression of characters as opposed to e.g. 4th edition's fighters and casters feeling so similar. It's a matter of taste.

Now in OSR games, I do like that playing a low-level magic-user is a PAIN; depending n the system you use, a housecat can arguably kill you RAW. However, as much as like old-school gaming, I can't deny that I do have serious experience with more rules-intense versions of the game...and with these, obviously also came a certain feeling of entitlement. Not regarding power, mind you - I always prefer my games on the gritty side. But regarding OPTIONS. You know. Player agenda. Not being restricted to the 5-minute adventuring day. Being able to modify magic to make it feel...well. Magical. Strange. Alien. It's a reason for me liking LotFP's occult feeling, unstable and dangerous take on magic that may royally screw over the careless - it's risky...but it has a bit more options, a bit more agenda.

The items herein follow a similar design paradigm. They come with hefty, yet affordable silver prices. They also feature construction rituals. Let me give you a taste: When a human warrior is slain on the battlefield via treachery and when the human has taken at least one goblin life, that's when teh sacred sightless, goblins that have blinded themselves, goblins that have never seen the hated sun, can smell the corpse. The body will be desecrated and defiled, its components strewn through the wilds, its jawbone kept intact and chewed free of most flesh. The bone will then be hanged from a widow's walking stick and dried there; finally, 6 raven feathers are attached to the jawbone, the loosened teeth rattling as it is shaken. All damaging spells thereafter cast through the item inflict +1 damage versus human and also inflict the spell's damage inevitably again on the following round - though the wording here could be more precise: One could read this echo to pertain only to the bonus damage, when the whole spell is meant. Oh, and non-goblin users risk a chance of becoming goblins when using the fetish.

This example should illustrate pretty well the strengths, but also the weaknesses of the pdf. The construction requirements for the fetishes generally are well-presented and evocative, as is their activation. At the same time, the rules-language honestly leaves something o be desired. And no, OSR does not equal tolerance for sloppy rules; one look at S&W, LL or LotFP shows pretty clearly that these rule-books actually are VERY precise beasts.

There are more precise items, like mirrors of obfuscation that can be rather interesting, which allow you to stealthily cast spells, but at a small risk of forgetting that you have cast the spell AND the spell from the spellbook, which can actually result in an interesting plot. There is also a defensive fetish that increases the duration of defensive spells greatly - which is cool...but brings me to a nitpick. While some spells are noted, the fetish fails to present a precise list. This may be a mostly cosmetic thing in actual use, but can still yield some issues, which is why many OSR titles assume a default system - here, that would be LotFP - but when one assumes a default system, why not present a concise list?

That being said, the items themselves do feature some seriously cool options - like an artificial jaw into which you insert a dead man's teeth and thus can talk to the perished, even without requiring a functional body...but there is a chance that the spirit will be stuck in the fetish. Another fetish enhances arachnid-related spells, but makes you foe and preferred target of arachnid creatures encountered. What about a rose that greatly increased the potency of your charming spells, but has a serious risk of falling in love with the spell's target? Lenses that make you perceive the whole truth, fused to your body. There also would be ram's horns that generate bursts of deadly energy, providing a taste of later level's potency, though the direct damage, if you presume LotFP's standard design paradigm, are pretty valuable - the particular item imho fits LL or S&W more.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on both a formal and rules-language level - while both can be improved, the pdf generally is solid. Layout adheres to a 1-column full-color standard in A5 (6'' by 9'') with fitting stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

Edward Lockhart's collection of fetishistic arcana is a somewhat mixed bag. The pdf's items are interesting and often can jumpstart an adventure or two by means of the complications they offer. The detailed construction notes similarly are nice and flavorful. So, on the plus-side, we get some seriously cool options for magic-users, in particularly to make low-level existence less of a hassle and more rewarding; not less deadly, mind you - but more versatile, which is good as far as I'm concerned. At the same time, the rules-language components could be more precise than they are. How to rate this, then? Well, to me, this file is a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side - which is why I'll settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the PWYW-nature of the pdf. Well worth contemplating for your OSR games and idea-scavenging...and leaving a tip for.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fetishistic  Arcana
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Mythic Monsters #40: North America
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2017 05:49:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' critically-acclaimed Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 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 23 pages of jam-packed content, so let's take a look!

We, surprisingly, begin this pdf with supplemental material that is not only useful for mythic contexts per se - the pdf introduces Scrimshaw items as an item-class, with a respective feat to fashion these (though it oddly does not have the Item Creation descriptor, but that just as a nitpicky aside) - scrimshaw magic items, though, are rather fragile - and this fragility is a central focus of the respective items introduced: E.g. a knife that returns those slain with it as undead servitors, which is balanced via the chance of splintering. The pendant of life sense can help communicating, but excess damage to the target depicted in the pendant can result in a collapse. Whalebone Helms can emit thundering cones and emit high-pitched cries that allow for long-range communications...I like this general item-class and the guidance provided for the GM is nice. The class certainly has some serious potential for e.g. an ice age-themed game.

Beyond these items, the pdf obviously also contains a selection of creatures - the CR 16/MR 6 version of the Akhlut can instantly generate devastating storms and add devastating takedowns of the assaults...and it also learns to perform truly devastating smashing assaults and fly during storms...oh, and they become gargantuan. A true classic would also be the CR 10/MR 4 Jersey Devil - this being receives an AoO as a result to mythic power expenditures and may even expend mythic power to assault foes...and it actually gains temporary mythic power when targeted by an appropriate hit. Adding a curse-debuff to the breath...and the version may combine the breath via trampling for ghost rider-style running over...oh, and it finally is as hard to kill as befitting of the legend.

The CR 7/MR 3 mythic hodag not only gains better ambush predator tricks and may execute devastating attacks from below...and these guys are incredibly hard to hunt down, making for deadly hunters. The mythic ijiraq at CR 11/MR 4 may banish foes affected by the disorienting gaze into the plane of shadows and the constantly blurred form adds a significant defense upgrade to the critter. Nice one!

At the highest echelons, the mythic manitou receives a CR 18/MR 7 incarnation that has a powerful domain of guarded lands and also sports a powerful aura of karmic retribution aura, which can negate the defenses of foes foolish enough to attack him...oh, and he may possess foes! Beyond this, powerful clouds of steam and an improved spirit stampede and a mythic power expanded token of fortune is pretty intriguing. (Oh, and the Mythic Awesome Blow feat is reprinted here for your convenience!) So yeah, a great one!

The pdf's next critter would be the CR 9/MR 4 qallupilluk, who gains grasping claws, seriously powerful additional options when the creature hits multiple times with its claws, and may tunelessly hum to lead its victims astray as well as employ with deadly hexes. There is yet another critter - the sasquatch, at CR 3/MR 1 receives the blurred form trick and also receives a particularly nasty stench. At CR 4/MR 1, the snallygaster receives a horrific shriek...and once again, the mythic Flyby Attack feat, used in the build, is included here.

The most American of critters in iconography would perhaps be the thunderbird at CR 13/MR 5 - these beings may not only absorb lightning, they can actually assume lightning form, a reflexive electrified body and is particularly effective in combat versus serpentfolk and similar reptilian threats. And yes, the mythic version can use mythic power to greatly enhance the signature storm aura...and I should also note the ability to fire whole salvos of thunderbolts! Amazing! The tupilaq's mythic version, at CR 8/MR 3, can have spells inscribed upon it and with blood of a victim, can become a deadly, unrelenting bloodhound - and yes, these base creature abilities become even more potent in the mythic version, supplemented by better physical power and feats. Nice representation of a construct being created to fulfill certain functions.

The wakandagi, at CR 17/MR 7, is surrounded by an aura of toxin-cancelling purity and may counter the first attack each round, form the weather and utterly obliterate ships...so a massive upgrade for the base creature, which always felt a bit limited to me - big, big kudos! (Mythic Multiattack is reprinted here as well, as it is used in the build!) One of the most epic builds in the whole series is next - and it better should be: The wendigo has been done often in various iterations, but the CR 21/MR 8-version herein is a true beauty of utter, deadly destruction - exceedingly fact, with the option to instill wendigo psychosis via nightmares, and absolutely phenomenal evasion tricks, these guys can actually stand before high-level mythic PCs - wreck them; hit and run; drain mythic power - the signature abilities span two pages on their own, making this build a glorious story-foe and villain.

The CR 5/MR 2 wikkawak gains mythic power from making creatures frightened and, on crits, these guys can take mementos from crited foes, which thereafter make the creature more deadly against the being in question. Oh, and thuggery is enhanced as well!

The new creature herein, lavishly rendered in full color, would be the CR 6/MR 2 Giiwedin, an incorporeal undead with the air and cold subtypes - these beings can possess others, wracking them with spellblights and hampering the healing options of the character in question...and those slain return as frost wights. Spirits of those slain in the frozen tundra, these hunters are delightfully deadly, if not absolutely mind-boggling in their options, but their strong and evocative theme makes sure I'll certainly use them in my adaptation of LotFP's excellent "Weird New World".

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports pretty amazing original pieces of artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

The mythic monsters featured herein, penned by the veteran hands of Jason Nelson and Alex Riggs, count among their number some of the coolest critters in the series...and indeed, not one of the conversions has disappointed me with its tricks; they build expertly upon the mythological foundation of the respective creatures. The mechanics are similarly excellent and manitou and wendigo alone may well be worth getting this file on their own. In short - this is an excellent addition to the Mythic Monsters-series and thus receives my highest accolades at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitegist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #40: North America
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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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