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Rangers of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/12/2015 09:34:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This take on rangers clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 1/4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8 3/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a brief introduction (sporting a LotR-quote), we dive into the first archetype, which is pretty much a simple archetype for mounted-themed halflings that gets rid of the size penalties to CMB/CMD as well as favored enemy bonuses versus additional subtypes of humanoids - pretty solid.



The Greenrunner can influence the attitude of plants and are locked into certain terrain types - they also need to get a plant companion. Again, a simple, yet flavorful option. Moon-Rangers would be rangers with a more esoteric bent - using a combination of their increased Sense Motive and spells, they may see past magically disguised alignments in a way that scales appropriately with the skill of the opposing creature. Nice! In lieu of Endurance, they get orisons based on Wis from the cleric-list and they also get access to ranger spells at the usual reduced level -3 instead of ranger spells. The class also offers an interesting mechanic, which allows for the increase of CL by 1 for wis-mod rounds - of either the ranger or his allies.

Only issue: The range of "allies" is not specified. Do they need to have line of sight? Line of effect? How many allies? They can also set up ambushes via Stealth - these grant allies and themselves a bonus to atk, saving throws and Stealth checks, with the bonus granted depending upon the check's result. Problem: Can the ranger take 10 or 20? How many allies can benefit from one such plan? Granted, neither ambiguities break the game, but they are annoying glitches that could have easily been avoided.



The Purple Sage Rider begins play with a free mount and upgrades that to mount at 4th level. Instead of favored enemies, the rider receives a scaling bonus to an assortment of skills that pertain infidels, i.e. followers of a certain deity. Beyond these, amateur gunslinging and abilities that interact with the unique porphyrite borders of Porphyra make for cool options. (In other settings, I'd suggest substituting either magical borders like the mists of Ravenloft or terrain borders).



Now Iron Gods-fans and people enjoying the technology-guide may enjoy the less than subtle Space Ranger! - quoting excessively early scifi, they get unarmed combat, firearm proficiency and a ranged combat style. More importantly, he begins play with an HEV suit with vacuum protection and flying capability as well as an utility belt that has significant carrying options and sports a bunch of items from the get-go. The suit has a laser pistol and a drive that can drain the ranger's constitution to refill a battery on a 1:2-basis. The suit also sports an augury and some detect-capability. This eats not only spells, starting equipment and wild empathy, but also woodland stride. The first terrain choice would be vacuum (normally not on the list), with higher levels upgrading the suit. I enjoy this archetype more than I expected, though I think that feats like technologist etc. could have been used to further emphasize the unique take of this archetype. Beyond that, I'm not sold on unassisted flying at 1st level - some limit that scales up to proper flying would be imho cooler and less problematic for some campaigns, perhaps with the 12th level upgrade increasing that to jetpack levels. The suit could also have used a better dispersal of abilities among the levels - as provided, it still makes the archetype too good for low-level dipping in my book - and indeed, with spells etc. gone, that's the most efficient way of sing this one.



The pdf also provides arm-cannons and double-barreled arm cannons as well as melee sap-drainers. 3 sample plant companions as well as info for interaction with the Xesa-race are provided. The pdf sports two new feats - one that prevents you from being considered helpless while sleeping, bound or unconscious, with the odd sentence: "Rogues cannot sneak attack against you when you are helpless, unless they could otherwise do so." I literally have no idea what this means or how this component of the feat works.

The second feat is just as confused: "As a standard action, you can parry melee attacks with a bow or crossbow, granting the benefits of fighting defensively while drawing a melee weapon, and still receiving a move action. You bow does 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage."



This makes no sense and shows that the author does not understand how fighting defensively works. First: Fighting defensively =/= Total Defense. Fighting defensively is executed _as part_ of a standard action or as part of a full-attack action, thus doing exactly nothing to diminish the move action a character has or doesn't have. Dropping a weapon is a free action. Sheathing a weapon is move action. Drawing a weapon, if combined with a move and executed by a character with a BAB of +1 or higher, is a free action. Furthermore, the feat should not lock the bow to arbitrary damage, but specify that using it as a melee weapon deals this amount of damage. These two feats are sloppy and unbecoming of the content provided so far.



On the plus-side, the 3 magic items are solid and nice - herb-pouch with charges that requires some healing knowledge, terrain-coded stones and reforged blades - okay. The spells herein are a mixed bag - a variant of cure for plants only, one that increases "The former effect increases the herbal potency of a plant, so that a Craft (alchemy) check to use the plant’s properties will be increased by 1 per casting." So one could stack that up? If so: Broken. If not...huh? Herbal potency? Wut iz zis? Please specify! A risky calling of undead to answer questions is pretty cool, but probably won't see much use at tables. Calling an alignment-dependent companion for one task is nice and a plant-themed aspect is okay.



The pdf also sports one sample level 9 moon ranger with two regional traits. The sample character uses the wrong HD - rangers have d10, not d8.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid on a formal level. On the rules-language level, they are just as varied in quality as almost always with Perry Fehr's crunch-centric offerings - partially great, partially horrible. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports the cool color-artwork.



This is frustrating to say the least. I really, really want to recommend this pdf is a more glowing light - the concepts for the rangers are solid and cool and technology-guide synergy is pretty cool as well. The archetypes once again show that author Perry Fehr can execute proper concepts and complex crunch. And then, sloppiness sets in - the two feats are glaring wrecks - how they got past any editing, I don't know. The spells and other supplemental content ranges in quality from okay to nice and the incorrect HD are another hiccup.



This installment could have easily been 4.5 stars, perhaps even a close 5, but the rough edges and partially glaring glitches, drag this down to a point where I can't rate it as high as I'd like to. While I still consider this pdf worth the very low price-point (if my complaints above did not annoy you, go for it!), I can't rate this pdf higher than 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Rangers of Porphyra
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Holy Island
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/11/2015 03:26:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Holy Island is a massive pdf - 129 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with no less than 125 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First of all - you should know that, obviously, not all of the pages herein are devoted to the module - instead, 4 Dollar Dungeons have a tradition of providing all required spells used in the module. A handy appendix collects them and prevents you from needing to constantly switch books. Beyond that, knowledge DCs and flavorful fluff information is provided for every creature encountered - consider these essentially fluff-upgrades; the type of information absent from most current bestiaries. Nice! Beyond that, it should be noted that all of the original artwork featured herein is contained in a look-see-art-appendix that can be used as handouts -I LOVE these appendices and wish more publications had such art-handouts-sections at least.



However, Holy Island also differs from other supplements published by 4 Dollar Dungeons in that it also utilizes the psionics-rules by Dreamscarred Press - and since you may not be familiar with how they work and/or not have Ultimate Psionics, the module also sports 10 pages of powers and basic information on how psionics work - so no, you do not need the psionic rules to run this, though it does help.



The pdf also comes with a massive array of 16 high-res jpgs of the maps featured in this book, with versions for both GMs and players being provided here - kudos for the player-friendly material!



All right, I have stalled long enough - so here we go: From here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. And yes, you don't want to spoil this one for you.

...

..

.

All right, still here? So, we are all aware of the legend of the mace of St. Cuthbert, right? The artifact has made appearances in mythology over the years and in many a game. What you may not know is that the artifact has a kind of homebase where it rests between making its appearances - this would be the island of Serafina, which coincidentally was known as Lindisfarne in aeons long passed. Evil does what evil does, though, and so, it was only a matter of time before Serafina was invaded - though the forces of good were not unprepared: With a colossus, the holy men and women were able to repel the invading hordes, but at a terrible cost - a toll so high, the order decided to sequester the island in its own demiplane, shrouding the island in obscurity and bringing an end to the fabled mace's appearances across the planes.

Why does the artifact not simply plane shift to another plane? Simple - it's a responsible artifact. This rationale not only made sense to me, it also got a chuckle out of me and is a great example of the unobtrusive humor that suffuses the prose herein.

Ever since then, the colossus has kept the few straggling vessels that cross the planar boundaries from leaving, destroying ship upon ship and thus generating a population of shipwrecked inhabitants - until a group of psionic individuals happened upon the island and saw its leader trapped by the colossus. But more on those folks later. In the long time since, deities have placed minions on the island - for a reason: The wielder of the mace may well be one destined for greatness and a bit of advertisement for one's faith doesn't hurt, right? Anyways, all of this would probably not be a big issue, had the order not died out -well, apart from one being: As in many a group of a certain size, there was indeed an odd man out, a former librarian now turned lich. Yes, lich. Third level module. I can hear you gulp. :)



Now, this module does provide what these days many a module lacks - extensive, concise help for the GM to run this adventure. From trouble-shooting to drawing some attention to the particulars of certain tactics and intentional rule-decisions - with SR and swarms being featured among the challenges, for example, there is a mechanical propensity here for a certain type of play-style. Now before I go into the details of this module, I feel obliged to mention something - this module presents a big sandbox with multiple encounters with aforementioned divine servitors. It is also pretty much a roleplaying module.



What do I mean by this? Well, as the module observes, our current modules seem to have moved away from roleplaying modules in the truest sense. And, let's be honest, there is some truth to that claim. Pathfinder behaves, essentially, like a combat-simulator in battle, making the rollplaying aspect of the game pretty awesome. At the same time, the roleplaying as such, though, is surprisingly often a neglected component - the module calls attention to the tendency towards puzzle-design; I.e. figuring out what to do next as opposed to a dynamic response. Mind you, this module does not judge these components as inferior or the like - there is no snobbery going on. However, at the same time, it observes that this constitutes a strange dearth in PFRPG. Conversely, one could argue that VtM has nothing but that going on for it and while I love it and CoC, the latter often falls into the puzzle-game niche - that's not a bad thing per se, either. When the puzzle makes no sense, when one component falls by the wayside or when there's just one solution, then we get the issues. And I *know* that every GM with some experience under the belt has ran face first into these issues as a story ground to a halt. We've all been there.



You might be wondering where this rant leads, right? Well, this module considers itself to be pretty much a roleplaying module, extending the sandboxy design-aesthetic not only to the overall structure of the plot presented and rendering it pretty modular (apart from the climax), it also tries to mirror this in the encounters with the deific servitors that inhabit the island. Now, bear this in mind, for it is a subtle nuance that may be lost on you when first reading the module as opposed to running it.

Now I mentioned a group of psionic travelers, right? These guys would be both a proxy for the GM as well as a story-catalyst: The Guardians of the Multiverse. They are a delightfully weird cast of characters, yes, and they actually can be considered an homage to the Guardians of the Galaxy or similar far-out comic-book heroes, with their leader Psi-Lord being an Elan who is currently trapped in the massive colossus. Yes, the tone here is radically different than in just about every 4$D-module I've read so far - again.

How the PCs act and explore, ultimately, is up to them, but per default, Psi-lord's Astral Caravan power is the intended way out of the island's demi-plane. So let's cover the possible first steps, right? Going on a salvage operation at their own stranded vessel? Covered. Finding a local village? Covered. Perceptive PCs may have noted Psi-Lord being trapped in a portcullis'd section of the colossus, though, and potentially try to save the elan. This would be generally easy since the colossus is not hostile towards the PCs and not constantly on the move. Would be. Were it not for one fun fact: The colossus sports a massive anti-magic/psionic field that annihilates every magic in the vicinity. All but the terrain-controlling and trolling spells the servant of the god of magic stationed here - which are tailor-made to prevent PCs from scaling the colossus. If your game is like mine, you'll have a field day annoying the PCs here and the joy upon defeating (or bypassing the creature) will be vast indeed.



Now Psi-Lord is helpful and willing to get the PCs off the island, but first, there s the question of his fellow guardians being missing -and indeed, they have ran afoul of some of the less than pleasant divine agents featured herein, often in a somewhat ironic manner. So, reassembling the guardians and/or finding out on what strange place they have stranded makes up the bulk of the module, as the odd divine agents make up for strange encounters. This is further punctuated by the selection regarding the random encounters, wilderness survival and terrain features provided. It should also be noted that the module does several unique things herein, with each encounter sporting some component that renders it memorable beyond the basic adversary fought.



Ultimately, in the end, the whole gambit is all about finding out that there's a lich present, seeking out and destroying the rather incompetent undead's phylactery and then finding a way to defeat the lich while still being vastly outclassed, even with the support of the guardians. And yes, actually using logical thinking and coming up with a sensible idea here is pretty much the awesome linchpin of the module and was one of the high points of the modules for my group -being the obvious and yet clever central puzzle of the module. And no, your PCs won't be wielding the artifact for long - unless you wish them to. I should also mention a certain, fully-mapped pagoda and a general penchant for some investigation to be had here, but going into the details would ultimately spoil some of the components I'd rather leave for you to discover.



Now granted, all of this, while a wide open sandbox, it looks on paper like it somewhat falls short of what you'd expect from 4 Dollar Dungeons - until you play it. You see, this module is actually a kind of alignment Myer-Briggs-test for the characters in disguise. What do I mean by this? There are ample ways to handle the issues the divine agents present - from signing a contract with an infernal Eve to defeating her to several other options, ultimately, though not explicitly spelled out in the module, the encounters faced within act as a test that can be used to determine the respective interpretations of a group's alignment: After all, we all know how many discussions that topic tends to spawn.

So yes, this module can be considered a huge exercise in in-game ethics, which works exceedingly well when probing the depths and moral fiber of characters and yes, potentially, depending on the competence of your players in abstracting themselves from their characters, them as well. Now this never devolves into a simple good/evil/neutral-option - instead, you get a set-up. How the PCs deal with it ultimately is up to them. Now that being said, even if you do not care for this type of gimmicky subtext, the encounters themselves are complex and interesting, sporting a multitude of cool options - and yes, the very final questions posed by a divine agent may very be uncomfortable to answer - so yeah, this psychological dimension is mirrored in the climax as well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are weaker than in previous 4 Dollar Dungeon-installments, with a tad bit more typos and glitches and, rather glaringly, all plusses missing from the statblocks herein - a peculiarity, which, while cosmetic MAY annoy some of you. The latter is a pretty serious annoyance, at least to me. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks include nice, old-school full-color and b/w-pieces and the module comes, as mentioned before, with high-res jpgs of the maps, which btw. have a higher quality than those we've seen in the series so far. Finally, the pdf comes in two versions - one intended for the US-market in letterpack and one optimized for the European A4-paper standard to ensure that both can be printed in maximum efficiency. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Richard Develyn is an artist if there ever was one among adventure authors and, hands-down, he is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Moreover, he is a thematic chameleon, switching up his styles in every module, again and again. That being said, Holy Island will probably elicit more than one "WTF?" from its readers. Let me go on a slight tangent here: My mother once worked for the US here in Germany and hence, I not only grew up with an early exposure to multiple languages, English in particular. I also could read English soon after I could read German, at the tender age of 5. This can be attributed to a clever trick: My mom had amassed this huge collection of comic books, some even from the Silver Age. Alas, they were in English and she tired pretty fast of the tedious task of translating comic books, instead setting about and teaching me to read them myself. Granted, many of the peculiar connotations of meanings were lost on me back then, but I could finally read this huge pile of glorious superhero knowledge - and be a wiseass to my friends about it. Yeah, some things never change, do they? ;P



Tangent aside, this module did evoke flashbacks to this era in tone - at one side, we have over the top, whimsical elements, at the other, we have real threats and a mood than can be described by an anything-goes ID run rampant, one that is kept in check by the necessity for narrative cohesion that later was to become the guiding principle that made worlds consistent, as far as that was still possible. Holy Island is essentially that - it is also a test of ethics and a subtle, satirical roundhouse kick in the face of several mythologies, though not a mean-spirited one. By combining elements from real life and game mythology, a subtle tapestry is woven that can provide a discerning reader with yet another layer of meaning that would not be readily apparent, nor is such a reading enforced or shoved down one's throat - so no, if you are religious, your sensibilities, if you are halfway mature and have at least a tiny speck of a funny bone in your body, will not be offended. This is not disrespectful and the winking breaking of the fourth wall for the GM in the footnotes further enforces this.



The oddest thing about this module, though, is that it plays completely different than it reads. Perhaps it's my playstyle and group, but when I read this, I thought things would get whacky and over the top, somewhat akin to certain Planescape modules of old, when in game, the whole module did turn out to be pretty atmospheric, with some light-hearted relief in between. Yes, this module can be funny. But it does not need to be. Analyzing *why* has been none too easy, but I have already touched upon the reason for this - namely the fact that the quoted mythology and inspirations evident in the text render the whole experience laden with a sense of unearthly gravitas, a sense of the mythological. Much like "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs" and similar arthouse movies utilize symbols and semiotics to generate implicit meaning, so does this module combine these connotations and ties them together with the respective divine agents and the inherent psychology of the conundrums presented unobtrusively herein.



Mythology resonates with the experiences of the conditio humana and thus, it should come as no surprise that the central experiences of mankind, some very powerful concepts of psychology, find the very root of their nomenclature in mythology. It is perhaps this fact, the application of the blending of the two and transference of this conglomerate to the mythology provided within the context of a game's codified deities, which makes this module actually work, which makes the players sooner or later realize that killing everything may not be in their best interest.

Or not. You can disregard all of my ramblings and analysis and play this as an oddball hack-n-slash. But you'd miss out.



I'm trying to say the following here: What should, for all intents and purposes, be a complete, utter, total, unprecedented thematic mess of tones and ideas, something disjointed, boring, reductive, somehow, by some quirk of strange fate and talent, actually works. The weird blending of themes reads a bit jarring, the encounters sound a bit disjointed, but in play, all works - even better than I anticipated. So yes, my rational consciousness considers this to be one of the most impressive feats in establishing a thoroughly unique theme I've seen in ages.



My emotional response, as much as I love the sheer smarts of the module, how it plays etc., still considers this somewhat inferior to Richard Develyn's best works. Mind you, that does not say much - Richard's modules have continuously scored my highest possible accolades and even made the number 1 spot of my Top Ten of a given year; I'm complaining here at a level that most authors cannot dream to reach.

Why? Well, while I do not require a breath-taking story-line, it remains a huge plus and this one, with its subtext being so layered, has the main story suffer a bit; if you do not care for semiotics and symbolism, you'll miss out on some of the module's appeal, since the basic plot is pretty simple. Secondly, the subtext and diversified theme of the module ultimately render the encounters themselves hazy, dreamlike - a good GM can make them feature in a manner that will remind you of the logic of dreams, hence also my reference to "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs" before. (If you require a less pretentious allusion: Picture a symbolism akin to the one of the original "Death Bed, the Bed that Eats," only less convoluted, game-themed and skippable via "I attack it." and similar methods.)



Ultimately, Holy Island is, much like its predecessors, an adventure that can be considered art. However, it is an art that may be less accessible in its entirety than previous modules. The non-analyzing way to play this beast, obviously grounded in Silver Age comic-book aesthetics, is something, alas, utterly and completely lost on me, for while I recall my enjoyment regarding that time of my life, I unfortunately completely lack the psychological capability to access this memory through the haze of nostalgia goggles due to my excellent memory.



One could say that the regular way, the standard running and reading experience of this module is just as lost to me as my overblown analysis of the subtext above may be lost on some of you out there. What ultimately makes me still consider this a superb module, in spite of its glitches, is the fact that it can be read, run and enjoyed as nostalgia-driven pop-corn cinema or as an intellectual exercise - or as anything in-between. This module is odd, but I am exceedingly glad it exists.

So if you do check this out, run it before shaking your head and walking off - you may just be surprised in more than one way. My final verdict will, pretty much exclusively due to the quality of the writing here, still clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of an alarming rate of minor glitch-increases. I've been thinking quite a bit on whether to make this a candidate for my top ten of 2015 - but in the end, I will do so; not necessarily due to me particularly liking the plot or set-up, but due to the achievement in generating a unique feeling, mood and theme that I can sincerely call a jamais-vu-experience. Check it out - it's only 4 dollars, after all, and I'm confident you won't find a module this strange and unique at this price-point.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Holy Island
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Animal Races: Clan of the Rabbit
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/11/2015 03:22:50
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



The generally peaceful members of Clan rabbit are therians - generally disorganized and benevolent ones, but yeah. Like some other clans, rabbits may elect to be either medium (+2 Dex, -2 Str) or small (same attributes, but size modifications included), gain the ratfolk subtype, low-light vision, scent, +1 natural armor (which scales up to +2 at 10th level) and a primary slam attack at 1d4 (1d3 for small rabbits). They may choose from 4 racial heritages: Jackrabbits get +2 to Wis and may choose Rabbit Clan Heritage as a monk bonus feat. Moongazing Hares get the same benefits, but may instead select the racial heritage feat as a bonus feat granted by the crusader cleric archetype. Pika Bandits get +2 to Int and may select the racial heritage feat as a rogue talent. Finally, members of the Rabbit Clan get +2 Cha and may choose the racial heritage feat as a rogue talent.



As always, the clan's racial heritage feat can be taken multiple times, unlocking new racial traits, with the one ability that requires the previous ones being hard to catch. The traits let you withdraw in a crooked line via Acrobatics - which is pretty nice, though no DC for the Acrobatics-check is given. I assume the DC that would be applicable for moving through threatened squares, but I'm not sure. RAW, ANY Acrobatics-check suffices, which is odd to me. Increased movement and +1/2 HD jumping (plus always counting as having a running start) can also be taken. The aforementioned hard to catch ability grants you the Liberation domain's 1st level domain power for character level rounds per day. Solid.



Beyond the racial bonus feat, we also get Bounding Charge, which lets you change direction when charging by making an Acrobatics-check - once again, without specifying the DC of the Acrobatics-check required.



Regarding the racial deity, we receive a take on trope of the bunny god in the moon, which should bring a smile to the faces of anyone remotely versed in Asian mythology. As always, the level of rooting the race in the world by linking it to established creatures is commendable and, once again, we receive the trademark cool heraldry-traits. These would be race traits that are linked to the respective crests - with rather significant benefits for traits, but also drawbacks where applicable - gain Skill Focus (Stealth) for -1 to all Ref-saves, for example.



As additional content and as a means of tying the race to the other animal races, we are also introduced to a kind-of pantheon/philosophy as a secondary deity/cleric-option with the Zodiac Council. The details provided here are a joy to read and they tie in nicely with the eastern zodiac we know from our real life mythology.



Conclusion:

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



Eric Morton's rabbit-clan is pretty interesting - mechanically, there is not much to complain besides the Acrobatics-hiccups I mentioned before and power-level wise, I also have no concerns. Still, when compared to e.g. the frogs, the rabbits feel a bit less diverse. They still are inspired and I consider the zodiac/astrology-theme cool, but at the same time, I would have enjoyed something playing against the stereotype in addition. Perhaps it's just the rampant Sam and Max-fanboy in me, but I would have loved a carefree, cheerful psycho-bunny clan that is resilient and or just nasty. I'm aware that this is my own opinion, though, and thus, this will not have an impact on my verdict of the book. Ultimately, the clan of the rabbit offers a solid installment of the series, though one that falls behind in creativity regarding some previous ones. In combination with the missing Acrobatics-DCs/notes which type of Acrobatics-check is required, we have a good, but not perfect book. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Rabbit
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Mythic Minis 56: Mythic Jewels
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/11/2015 03:18:23
An Endzeitgeist.com

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



-Crown of Iron Sorcery: Provides decreased arcane spell failure chance when wearing metal armor and also provides DR depending on your armor and shield. Also provides synergy effects with certain special weapon abilities and the Arcane Strike feat and very minor spell storing, with mythic wearers receiving additional benefits. All awesome!



-Diamond of Everwinter: Not only sustains you in the cold and makes you less susceptible to the elements, these diamonds can absorb cold and fire damage at the risk of breaking and the endure effect can be extended to allies. For mythic wearers, this one goes all out - not only does it provide access to the Rime Spell feat, it also allows for teleportation between spaces close to massive glaciers et al. Oh, and it gets bonus abilities when in the possession of a mythic character gaining a tier. While I would have preferred a minimum time-frame of attuning for the latter options to avoid abuse, I still adore this item.



-Force Shield Pin: Not only does this act like the bigger brother of the shield broach, it can also absorb unlimited magic missiles, cast (mythic) shield and extend the benefits to an emanation - it can also be recharged via mythic surges. Damn cool and useful!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from something on the line of "sn.owy terrain" - which is kind of hilarious in my mind. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



3 items, all killer, no filler - and while I'm not 100% happy with the diamond's ability-gain and the lack of an attunement period for its condition, I still found myself adoring these items - a great collection and well worth of a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 56: Mythic Jewels
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Campaign Options: The Feat Reference Document
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2015 09:14:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 282 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 5 pages of SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page blank back cover, leaving us with 270 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, in case you didn't know - this massive book collects all the feats released in adventures, companions and campaign-lines by Paizo that have NOT been uploaded on the PRD. This obviously means that this HUGE book has a gazillion of feats - as a reviewer, it would quite frankly be unfeasible to go through them, one by one and analyze them - more so due to them being official Paizo feats, reprinted - and thus not the responsibility of the authors.



It also puts me a strange point as a review - with the obvious goal of collecting material, how do I review what arguably is a compilation? Moreover, more often than not, there is a reason for feats not being put online - said reason being that they often are steeped in the lore of Golarion.



Thankfully, the massive feat reference document does mitigate several of these factors. What do I mean by this? Well, for once, much like Legendary Games' AP plug-ins, filing off the serial numbers of the feats is done extensively as to not infringe upon the closed IP. The instances are made obvious and easily identifiable via the inclusion of a yellow shade behind the respective changed lines. In the case where worship of a specific deity is required as a prerequisite, the feats utilize wordings that easily make the intended patron deity identifiable - e.g. "a neutral evil deity of darkness, loss and pain that grants the domains..."



Uncommon feat-types, from achievement to betrayal and damnation feats and yes, faction feats, are explained. Faction feats and their explanation is no less easily graspable - when Eagle Knights are replaces with Eagle Lords, no one halfway versed in Golarion lore should be confused. Familiar, Story and Meditation feats can also be found within these pages. When using the called shot rules, targeting feats provide the means you need to customize your options. How many feats are in here? Well, the first feat-table, which covers combat, critical etc. feats spans no less than 28 pages. And yes, more uncommon feat-tables also provide even more tables and texts. So far, so good, right?



Well, that is not where this massive book stops - from the halfling jinx to variant tiefling traits to familiar and school archetypes to fleshcrafting of draconic and other grafts to magic items and spells, there is A LOT of supplemental material herein as well. The obediences and their results, introduced in Inner Sea Gods, is also extensively covered, explained, and made viable as closed IP-free reskins, including demon lords, empyreal lords and much, much more. Primal Magic also can be found herein.



So, obviously, in a book that collects so many sources, we have quite a few that are downright broken. This book handles said cases in a more interesting way that I expected it to - some feats have added caveats, for example the first one, Acadamae Graduate, where a caveat has been added that eliminates the means for undead to cheese it. Said modified text also sports the yellow shade, rendering it easily identified as a change, a practice that also extends to full-blown alternate feats. Some feats are obviously VERY broken - thus, the original feat is provided alongside a revised version that may run smoother or simply be better - or just different. This, I honestly did NOT expect to find and I applaud it.



Now the filing off of the serial numbers may obviously lead to some minor confusion or you may just want to ban a constituent book or look up the original's fluff - but how do you point towards the source when you can't say it? With surprisingly smart and creative pseudonyms that are also listed in an appendix by the SRD-contributions - and you probably will understand which book is meant by "The Book of the North", "Complete History of the Dragon" and the like - yes, it is not 100% apparent at one glance, but looking at the feats and with some experience under one's belt, it makes sense and imho is a pretty ingenious way of providing a secondary organization principle to this massive collection.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed a surprisingly small amount of typos and the like in this massive book - surprising and commendable! Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with brownish borders that thankfully come out as pretty printer-friendly if you try to print them. Artwork ranges from stock to several pieces of full-color art I have not seen before - nice. The pdf, thankfully, comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Owen K.C. Stephens has collected a vast array of feats, nay a colossal bunch of feats in this tome and organizing them must have been an excruciating gruntwork I do not envy. At the same time, I dreaded this review - why? Because point by point analysis would have rendered this review useless. At the same time, I could not skip through these pages either, making the work on this review, though it may not show to you, an excruciating slog on my end as well.



That being said, while this ate up a lot of my time, I am glad I did not opt for the easy way out. Why? Because then I wouldn't have seen the fixes made to several of Paizo's...let's say, less than stellar rules-decisions. Now granted, not all pieces of content will find their way into my game and yes, I consider quite a few options provided in player companions et al. over the years OP. At the same time, some fixes actually make me contemplate using feats herein, fixing exploits and the like.



But how do I rate this? From the get-go, my decision way to not rate this as a feat-collection, but rather on the virtues of it being a compilation - and in said discipline, it excels - the filing off of serial numbers is handled elegantly. The organization and bookmark navigation is easy and concise. The fixed versions SIDE BY SIDE with the originals in the end mean that all camps will be happy - both fans of the original iterations and those that disliked exploits presented by the originals.



In the end, the amount of problematic feats and things I personally would have liked fixed is miniscule when compared to the workload that went into this tome and its overall content and presentation. And yes, while navigation, due to the necessity to avoid closed IP, is less intuitive than one would like, this book makes it as easy as possible within the legal restraints. As such, there is not much to complain regarding this massive book - and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars for a well-crafted, well-organized reference document.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Options: The Feat Reference Document
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Mythic Minis 55: Performance Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2015 09:12:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



-Dramatic Display: Numerical escalation plus mythic power expenditure for nat 20'd maneuver checks in the round after the display. I don't like nat 20-granting abilities particularly for a reason and this falls into the category - the secondary benefit is arguably better than some primary benefits for combat maneuver enhancement as it also provides a +4 bonus in addition. This one is pretty broken in my book.



-Whip Mastery: Numerical escalation, but also mythic power expenditure for a follow-up attack versus a foe just tripped or disarmed.



-Improved Whip Mastery: Threaten the area of your reach. Also: Move unattended objects with the whip and move medium and smaller foes you tripped. Cool!



-Greater Whip Mastery: Grappling of adjacent foes via whip, option to tie them up and also Chokehold them. Nice!



-Hero's Display: Present Weapon Focus'd weapon for AoE demoralize, with subsequent attacks with the weapon further extending the duration of the effect. Okay, I guess.



-Masterful Display: Select 2 mythic performance or 3 regular performance feats; when making the performance combat check, you gain access to them, but only a +2 to the combat performance check.



-Mocking Dance: Move 5 ft. sans AoO or full movement with AoO, but you can't end the movement in a square that threatens an enemy; Adds bonus to combat performance and allows for AoE demoralize and it makes it possible for Diplomacy or Intimidate to be used to Antagonize instead. I wished this feat had a more precise wording than its non-mythic base, which failed to specify whether the 5-foot movement counted as a 5-foot-step or not. On a design-aesthetic position, I also would have included Antagonize among the prereqs. Finally, while this is a nitpick, I'm not 100% clear whether the skill-substitution for Antagonize only works in conjunction with Mocking Dance, but I assume no.



-Murderer's Circle: Numerical escalation for the granted movement by critical hits and maneuvers, with mythic power allowing for a follow up attack at bonus - nasty, but cool!



-Performance Weapon Mastery: Numerical escalation of the base feat. Okay.



-Performing Combatant: Makes all your performance feats available (instead of just one) at DC 20 and spend mythic power to make it count as natural 20. Much like in the base feat, I wished this actually provided full-blown synergy with hypothetical/imagined crowds - think about it: A mythic character "performing" for a crowd of ancestor spirits? That would be pretty awesome. A solid feat, but also a wasted opportunity.



Conclusion:

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



Jeff Lee's performance feats are generally okay, though not always perfect. Over all, they do a solid job at what they set out to do, but also fall a bit flat of a conceptually awesome update - you receive solid craftsmanship with some minor hiccups and missed opportunities here. I will hence settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 55: Performance Feats
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Animal Races: Clan of the Frog
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/07/2015 02:50:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Animal Races-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The frog (and newt)-clans presented in this installment as the most civilized of boggards, once again, are presented in the trademark level of detail and believability one expects from Eric Morton's writing at this point. The supplement does cover both the intriguing psychology with distinct differentiations in aptitude and calling between parents and offspring and the resulting deviations of social structures from the default create a society familiar, yet alien.



Racial trait-wise, members of the frog-clan are either medium (+2 Dex, -2 Str) or small (+2 Dex, -2 Str), have the boggard subtype, low-light vision, normal speed of 30 ft. or 20 ft. respectively, scent (5 ft., scaling up to 30 ft. at 6th level), natural armor +1 (scaling up to +2 at 10th level) and it gets a sticky tongue that provides a penalty to AC and a movement limitation to those hit with it. The tongue can only be removed by an opposed strength check analogue to the boggard's ability. A total of 4 Frog Clan variants are provided. Bull Frogs get +2 Str and can select Frog Clan Heritage as a combat feat. Frog Clan members get +2 Int and can choose the Frog Clan Heritage as an alchemist's discovery, while Toad Clan members get the same modification, but may choose the feat in lieu of a hex instead. Tree Frog Clan members must be small, but gain +2 to Wis and the grippli subtype in addition to the boggard subtype, also gaining the Tree Frog heritage feat -which they may choose as a ranger's combat style feat.



Newt Clan base racial traits are identical with those of the frog clan, except that they gain a primary bite attack at 1d4/1d3 instead of the tongue. The Newt Clan members get +2 to Int and may select Salamander Heritage as a witch's hex, while Salamander clan members also get +2 to Int and may choose Salamander Heritage as an alchemist's discovery.



Now as to the racial heritage feats, Frog Clan offers hold breath or swamp stride, adding leap and terrifying croak thereafter. Tree Frogs can get camouflage, climb or swamp stride, adding glider, leap and toxic skin to the fray . Salamander's hold breath, flame resistance and swamp stride complement these options. The pdf also provides a feat that hearkens to the race's proclivities to strange science - Test Subject, allows you to learn a discovery that modifies physiology or body chemistry.



The pdf also provides 6 different alchemist discoveries, one of which nets a natural attack adamantine properties, which is imho a tad bit too soon at level 6. Infusing metal into natural attacks, gills; +4 to Intimidate at the cost of -4 to Disguise and an internal cavity (to store items in) as well as minor DR/piercing + slashing - apart from the adamantine issue being slightly too early in my book, a solid array.



The goddess of the new moon and alchemy and the genealogy as well as the interactions with the diverse mythologies of the clans once again provide compelling intersections with established creatures, thus rooting these clans in the respective cosmology and ecology. As always, we are also introduced to heraldic crests, though this time around, they are assigned to the symbols for alchemical substances, with partial negation of attribute-drain/damage providing interesting options.



This pdf does go beyond that with a second "deity" (or rather, cult), the Templar Cult, an evil organization devoted to literally worshiping technology - and yes, the pdf also sports 5 new technological items, from circuit threading to ray guns - nice ones! The pdf also provides a new cleric domain with Technology Guide-synergy.



Conclusion:

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



Eric Morton's frog and newt clans are interesting and compelling and over all, there is nothing truly wrong with any of the pieces herein: I really enjoy many of the options provided herein. That beings aid, some of the small balance-screws, while not loose, imho could have used some slight additional finetuning - the adamantine discovery is a tad bit too soon in my book. Still, this constitutes a truly fun addition to the series and ranks among the more unique and culturally distinct files in it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Frog
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Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2015 03:20:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This module was moved up on my review-queue at the request of my players. The following being an adventure-review, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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..

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All right, still here? Even the shadow fey can love, in their own, alien way - and so, a scáthesidhe, exiled from the winter court and hence known as the dusk queen, retreated to the dark woods and ruled as one would expect from a lady with her moniker. Against all possibility, a man from a far off land of eternal sun and scorching heat found his path into the dusk queen's dominion, where the two promptly fell in love - and here, the story might have ended, were it not for the construction of a dark mirror, which fueled the latent paranoia of the queen. The traveler, then known as sun king, tried to overlook his lover's continuing descent into amorality and evil, but when he noticed her plans to invade his home, he acted - weaving mighty magics, he imprisoned the queen and sundered her mirror; tales of tragic love being what they are, his solution did not prove to be permanent - and thus, the PCs happen upon a foreboding, dark forest, where the wind itself carries the words "She has returned" to their ears.



Entering the forest, a lavishly-illustrated treant weeping acid tears tasks the PCs in cryptic hints to track down the shards of the dusk queen's mirror - and escape is no option. From hampered teleportation to swarms of shadow stirges, the forest does its best to foil the PCs and yes, there is a table of wandering monsters, of which I encourage you to make ample use. The shadow forest's overview map (which is no less beautiful than the artwork) does provide several obvious paths that can be tackled in different sequences.



The locations themselves can be considered a veritable who's who of dark forest locations - from a pool of shadow nymphs to a bog most foul hiding an ancient monument and a spirit naga to a strike-force of bugbears under the command of a half umbral-dragon leader to a massive hangman's tree, the task of collecting the shards is a quick and interesting succession of iconic locales - and yes, of course, the PCs also get a chance to duke it out with a shadow drake.



Once they have finally assembled all the shards, it's time to face the dusk queen's tower, wherein she tries to cajole them into using the shards to repair her mirror and restore her to full power - hopefully barring that, she will attempt to use force - by means of her own theurge-magics as well as a graveknight antipaladin and his companion. Besting the two deadly adversaries (significantly easier if a strong-willed PC uses the powerful shards to blast them!) will see the end of the adventure and the tower's collapse - for now, for a sequel is in the making. Oh, and yes, there is a powerful, intelligent spellbook to be found here.



Now this pdf has GLORIOUS artworks and cartography all around - and you can actually use both: The module provides an art & map section that reproduces the Paizo-level gorgeous artwork (one provided for most major antagonists!) as one-page hand-outs to show to your players. Furthermore, the glorious full-color cartography of the dark wood is provided in a player-friendly version and to trump that, we also get the dusk queen's ruined throne room as a player-friendly, overview with a grid AND in battle-map-style size to print out - now THIS is going one step beyond! Two thumbs up!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, 2-column full-color standard and the artworks by Bryan Syme are staggering -see the cover? The copious amount of interior artwork is JUST AS GOOD. Yes. This is one of the most beautiful modules I've read in ages, with cartography also ranking in the top-tier echelon, especially due to the copious support regarding battle-map, player-friendly versions etc. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



My players still talk fondly of Marc Radle's first module published by Raging Swan Press, The Sunken Pyramid, so when I brought this module to the table, they were keen on playing it. The dark wood has a superb atmosphere that thankfully stands on its own and does not provide overlap with AAW Games' superb Snow White duology (Part I and Part II), instead creating its very own atmosphere and mood - which is a good thing. This module is all about atmosphere that is captured in great detail and enhanced by what could be considered to be some of the most stunning pieces of artwork I have ever seen in a 3pp module. Especially at the low price point, this is stunning.



Now I playtested this one twice, for a reason - my players were insanely lucky and had 14 natural 20s in the run of this module - and since it is pretty much a brief one that focuses on atmosphere, this meant they pretty much curb-stomped the opposition. When I ran it for a second time for a significantly less experienced and optimized group, there was one unlucky PC death, though that is to be attributed to abysmal luck. This module is not a meat-grinder and neither is it particularly challenging - the final fight in particular was very easy on my PCs in the first run.



Difficulty-wise, this is not a particularly challenging module, but it is a very much worthwhile adventure that feels completely like a Kobold Press adventure, breathing a sense of ancient fairy tales gone wrong. In direct comparison, the fights themselves do feel like they could have benefited from more environmental peculiarities and hazards - but that may just be me being spoiled. Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a premium quality module with a unique mood that very much manages to depict a compelling, short trip into a dark forest that actually deserves the moniker. My aforementioned nitpicks can mostly be attributed to me being a spoiled bastard and are offset by the quality of both production-values and mood. I do advise GMs running this for an experienced group to increase the difficulty-levels, though. In the end, I am happy with this module - its story resonates, its production values are superb, its builds are non-standard and interesting - and while it may be brief and none too hard, it was a great experience to run. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Now can we have more modules of that caliber? After all, that's what made me a fan of Kobold Pres back in the day when it still was Open Design...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows of the Dusk Queen (Pathfinder RPG)
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Search for Lost Legacy 4: By Eternal Wrath
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2015 03:18:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final installment of the Search for Lost Legacy adventure arc clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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

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All right, still here? This installment takes place in Vargon's former private sanctum, which is now under the command of his erstwhile second in command Damon Light-cleaver, though e.g. a Dark naga and certain servants provide ample opportunity for the PCs to sow discord within the ranks of their opposition - as this level is still very much inhabited, it should come as no surprise that the focus is a different one that takes a step away from the theme of abandonment and decrepitude.



In game, this proved to be at once an interesting change of pace and a flaw - while the series so far has excelled primarily in its indirect storytelling, so far almost all of the hints, from diary-entries to the theme of the sins of the ancestor inherited, this module changes its focus into a dungeon that is still operational, with the ancient wizard's lich-transformation being the central theme - sabotaged though it is, it is up to the PCs to complete it and annihilate the proto-lich while it phases back into reality in order to truly stop the wizard. While this is by no means an uncommon trope, it does not sport advice to trouble-shoot the very reasonable refusal of PCs to engage in exactly this practice, which can grind the module to a pretty nasty halt -essentially, the series fails to provide a good reason to actually try to destroy Vargon instead of leaving him in limbo. The exploration of the complex and braving of halls used in the process of lichdom-apotheosis works well as a concept per se, but still - from a dramaturgical perspective, I do think this pdf flounders.



On the plus-side, the social interactions and Bluff/sense Motive-boxes provided go above and beyond for the DM, with plenty of intriguing quotes that should not leave even the most inexperienced DMs baffled - two thumbs up for these!



That being said, to me, the internal consistency and realism the series evoked so far falls completely apart here - with so many powerful, unbound villains and his second-in-command here, with the transformation not completed, this whole level made no true sense to me. How could it go unnoticed? How can it be that Vargon hasn't been properly finished off? With so much of the complex remaining essentially barren and lost, why not extend the domain and claim those resources, rife for the picking? The reasons provided within the context of this module remain flimsy at best and, to me, invalidated the carefully established sense of cohesion and realism established over the curse of the series.



The pdf does collate Damon's story and the proto-lich template in the appendices (oddly featuring the 3.X-template as well as the PFRPG-version, though the 3.X-content has otherwise been purged from this pdf...) and sports the map of the complex in a player-friendly version as well - kudos for that.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though, as in the previous installment, some fluctuations in writing quality of both fluff and rules-text can be found herein. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with gorgeous full-color artwork and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



John R. Davis' series' final installment is challenging for the level-range, though not in an undue manner - my players considered it not that hard, but then again, the mechanical challenge was never the forte of the series. This module, ultimately, constitutes the logical conclusion of the series as foreshadowed in part III, though it does so in a disappointing manner. Ultimately, the threat foreshadowed is invalidated pretty much, the sense of logical cohesion established carefully via indirect storytelling crumbles somewhat apart. The extremely compelling leitmotif of the dungeon, carefully established in part I and II, already somewhat diminished by installment III, now completely crumbles apart and, unfortunately, takes what makes the series special with it.



Where the first two installments, and to a lesser extent the third, stood out due to the atmosphere evoked, the unique sense of a strange archeology, this one almost negates that very premise by undermining the very foundation that made this stand out - the presence of a BBEG beyond the story's focus/boss and the traitorous creatures herein almost constitute the antithesis of the cohesion the series has worked so hard to establish.



Don't get me wrong, I don't expect a sense of Gygaxian realism in my dungeons; I can have great fun with dungeons that make no sense whatsoever, living creatures just waiting behind a sealed door etc. But this series began as something logically and thematically incredibly cohesive and consistent. When slowly, but surely, this premise is eroded; when what constituted the main draw and unique flair is abandoned half-way, it becomes problematic. The third module still made sense and was as much a change of pace as an invasion in one of the Dark Souls-games; but instead of a return to form, a module that could have stood by virtue of the vistas and exploration provided, the set-up herein sports several narrative and logical choices that hurt this arc and render it the one thing I hoped the arc would avoid - a bit generic.

Detailed, yes, but still. Add to that the inherited minor issues (minor rules-hiccups, remnant references to 3.X) of the series and we have a module that fell short of the promise inherent in the arc's plot.

I still very much can recommend the first 3 installments of the series, yes, even the less than perfect 3rd one, but to me and my players, this one provided a frustrating anti-climax that cast a pall over our otherwise very much remarkable journey through this arc. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up mainly since I believe that this works alone well, or at least better - but within the context of the series and its themes, it sticks out like a sore thumb. As a personal recommendation; I'd advise GMs running this to heavily modify the final complex and maintain the theme of decay via failing wards and haunt-like effects throughout an exploration of ruined halls.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Search for Lost Legacy 4: By Eternal Wrath
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Mythic Minis 54: Mythic Clothing
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2015 03:16:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



The first piece of mythic clothing would be Foamfollower's Jack - a naval jacket that allows the wearer to alter winds and water walk, with mythic wearers having the option extend to other vessels in an interesting modification of the base abilities of the item.



The robe of teeth would make Gholad or Dahlver-Nar proud, as it animates and starts chewing up anyone foolish enough to grapple. Better yet, it can exude a disgusting, sticky tongue which can force move foes - and yes, mythic wearers can exude more of them - this item is AWESOME: Mechanically complex and glorious in imagery, this is beautiful...erhhh...disturbing! All awesome!



The 3rd item herein would be the scorpion cloak, which does not only grant bonuses when in desert environments and improves survival chances in combat with scorpions. More impressively, the item allows the wearer to receive tremorsense while not moving, also receiving a deadly, poison-delivering attack that can be executed from prone positions, with mythic wearers slightly escalating these options. I expected this to bore me and it didn't - kudos!



The 4th item, which can be found on the SRD-page, would be black silken slippers of star-striding, which not only provide an array of spell-duplications - but the interesting point here would be that light-sources can be targeted as a kind of teleport-beacon - oh, and interstellar transportation. Yes, awesome!



Conclusion:

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



Alistair Rigg and Jason Nelson deliver an all killer, no filler mythic mini with cool items that blend mechanical complexity with high-concept style - a great example of what this series can do. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 54: Mythic Clothing
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Mythic Skills
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/05/2015 05:40:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mythic plug-in clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1.5 pages of SRD, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, 4 pages advertisement, leaving us with 13.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Okay, I'll make this short: If you're playing with mythic rules, GET THIS NOW! Even if you DO NOT use mythic rules - this comes with full-blown rules for using the content herein in non-mythic games! Yes, you heard right - this works for vanilla PFRPG games. Go ahead, I'll wait here.

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Okay, want a more detailed analysis? I shall oblige! This pdf generally introduces an array of new options for mythic characters to keep the skills itself relevant in a game of quickly escalating numbers. In order to utilize these, skill-based feats, skill focus or a certain amount of minimum ranks can be used as gateway values to unlock the powers of these skills, including rules to use otherwise mythic-power based skill exploits (specific accomplishments of skill-based derring-do) and codify them via daily uses - and yes, this extends to hero point-support, should you prefer these. So yes, this pdf sports essentially maximum usability for any game.



Granted, mythic characters benefit most from this pdf, with concise rules for skill uses modified with the mythic rules, both by adding tiers and opening up unique, new options - and, of course, by the new exploits - using mythic power to feather fall via acrobatics may be cool - but what about the best of the best being able to balance across water (insert tasteless "It ain't Jeesus!"-joke here) or even air - yes, you can balance across air at a DC of 70. This is awesome.



What about using Appraise with bonuses and full synergy with the bargaining system or as a literal nose for sniffing out treasure? Planting suggestions via Bluff? Maximizing a limited daily array of surge dice for crafting purposes? Exceedingly accelerated Disguise-changes? Knock powered by mythic power as standard actions via Disable Device... Negate hits via Fly? Yeah. (And yes, I am aware that for some of you, as for me, this skill-use will be restricted to dogfights in the air and personally, I'm NOT a fan of it, but as a reviewer, I can't really complain here...)



I could go on and list trick upon trick, but ultimately, with all the scavenging, I could come up with one "issue" - the spell-duplicating skill uses are supernatural abilities - which have their CL concisely defined. These do feel like they should SPs, but then they'd provoke AoOs....so that's why I put it in quotation marks - it's a non-issue and there imho is no more elegant way to cover this. And yes, this is the only, exceedingly weak nitpick I could find. I'd almost be sad, were I not so happy.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the artworks are nice full-color pieces, though ones you'll know from other LG-pdfs. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.



Skills have been pretty much the overlooked rules-component of the mythic rules and this rectifies this GLARING oversight; This pdf should have been part of the core mythic rules.

Jason Nelson's mythic skills are a MUST HAVE for anyone playing with mythic rules. It's an inspired pdf and best of all, it provides nigh no overlap with my beloved 101 New Skill Uses by Rite Publishing, mainly due to a completely different focus. This pdf is as close to perfection as you can expect from such a pdf and ultimately, its usefulness even extends beyond mythic rules, being still a very good pdf for regular high-powered/-level campaigns. My final verdict for this glorious pdf clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval + status as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015. This is brilliant.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Skills
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Kingdom of Toads Mythic Edition
Publisher: Run Amok Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/05/2015 05:38:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive high-level module is 64 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Upgraded to mythic rules, this high-fantasy/level over-the-top epic action module provides mythic trials galore, should you require them.



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



Still here?

Okay! Being written for level 17-18 characters with 7 - 8 mythic tiers, we can expect some epic reasons for adventuring - and here they are: 2 days ago, the schemes of the vile witch Vakelna came to fruition when she conducted a ritual to turn THE WHOLE POPULATION OF THE KINGDOM of Kelwyk into toads. The kingdom would be lost, were it not for one sloppy flaw in the ritual and the fortuitous fact that Iselin, the king's advisor, was travelling the astral plane when the ritual was unleashed. Now, while he can't locate the witch to reverse the epic hex, he does contact the PCs, for he knows where to start searching:



Some years ago, Vakelna was slain by the mythic dragon Arovarax and it is there they may reclaim her former body. Travelling there will prove to be no problem thanks to the PC's massive resources, but the lair itself will not be a cake-walk - the dragon is worshipped by a ridiculously powerful guard of elite troglodytes. Fighting said menaces, the PCs can rescue a band of hapless adventurers - The Justiciars of Justice. Yes. The Paladin of the group ends every sentence with "and to vanquish evil!" and similar statements, providing comic relief (all too rarely seen in modules!) - powerful, but outclassed by both opposition and PCs, they should bring a few smiles to the faces of your players in a nice change of pace from testing their mettle versus mithril golems, tataka rakshasas and the CR 21/MR 7 advanced wyrm blue dragon Arovarax, who will use a combination of his mirage and breath weapon to deadly effect. The mythic expansions that have been applied to base module render the dragon a significantly increased threat, though I wished the foolish justicars had also been made mythic - it would explain how these numbnuts could survive...



Further complicating things, the kingdom of Stonevale, long-time rivals of Kelwyk, have no intention of letting the PCs save their rivals and thus have taken steps: The Thorn Company, the best adventuring party/agents the kingdom can muster, has been sent to take care of the PCs and end them: And end them they may - a high-level adventuring party striking from an ambush as a dynamic factor should challenge all but the best of groups to their limits - especially since the group has been upgraded to mythic status as well.



Returning to Kelwyk with the corpse of Vakelna, Iselin locates Vakelna's current incarnation -she is within the kingdom's Legacy oak - and she isn't. Sheltered away in a demiplane, the PCs will have to research a ritual to allow for gate to properly bring them there: Unfortunately, a fire has claimed the tome that contained said ritual and now, the clockwork librarian is the only hope. His memory has been jumbled, though, and in order to jog his cogs, the PCs will have to solve essentially a word-jigsaw-puzzle (not too hard, btw.) that comes with neat handouts to cut out and give to your players - and yes, all the various ways to cheat puzzles via spells at higher levels are addressed.



Solving the puzzle, the PCs can now travel into the Legacy Oak's demiplane to challenge Vakelna - if they survive their way through the huge tree-dungeon, in which not only gigantic lice, sap demons (upgraded to mythic) and similar threats lurk. Worse, the tree's "immune-system" is active and sards, terrifyingly powerful plant-creatures that have been rendered mythic, will seek to exterminate intruders as well. The PCs may also inadvertently unleash perhaps the most powerful pugwampi ever statted (who comes with a new feat a new magic item) - who not only seeks to trick the PCs, but also wants to claim Vakelna's cauldron for himself - oh, and CR 20 + 8 mythic ranks = PAIN. Speaking of which:



3 young, agile, mythic linnorms guarding the entrance to the final fight should provide enough time for Vakelna to cast her impressive buff-list and generally prepare herself and her 6 CR 14 giant twigjack rogues for a memorable showdown. Reversing the transformation, the PCs are hailed as heroes and quite possibly, planar threats await just around the corner.



The pdf can be scaled down to level 15-16 or up to 19-20 via information provided herein and the second appendix collates the new feat, magic items and two new creatures (Gargantuan Bark Beetles, baby!) and the two maps are also provided in player-friendly b/w-version in an extra pdf. We also get 5 mythic pregens.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches though there are minor hiccups here and there, with MR being consistently applied in the CR-lines. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, elegant b/w-standard and the artworks provided are original and nice. The pdf comes with an extra file of untagged maps to print out and use as hand-outs - NICE! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and aforementioned b/w-cartography provided is neat.



Author Ron Lundeen tries his hand at one epic high-level adventure breathing the spirit of broad repercussions appropriate for the level and manages to provide a module that challenges beyond its statblock-builds and also offers some food for the mind. Kingdom of Toads is a great adventure without the mythic rules and it works well with them as well. The builds are powerful and relatively cool and sport some unique tricks. So all's well? Alas, no.

Running this module as a playtest, I couldn't help but feel the serious sting of the limitations vanilla mythic rules provide - the one official hardcover just does not have that much fun material. Once you get used to Legendary Games' massive additional tricks released, you have a different perspective - I've literally used so much of their material that vanilla mythic feels even more incomplete to me without the additional pdfs than it did when the original hardcover was released - so yes, my sincere recommendation to mythic GMs is to crank out those books and add more mythic spells etc. to the fray. But that, I won't hold against this pdf. What I *do* hold against it is that the book's adversaries fall into the trap of vanilla mythic rules simply not being that well-rounded - hence, especially at higher tiers, combats can fall on the rocket-launcher-tag side of things and the adversaries herein imho required means to offset and counter this syndrome.



Much like Wrath of the Righteous, this module also suffers from what I'd consider the lost-chance syndrome - mythic rules as such engender a particular playstyle of high action and over the top stunts. While this module properly upgrades the primary antagonists and elite adversaries, I couldn't help but feel that the areas themselves, the hazards and distinctively unique environments in which this takes place, could have used some interaction with mythic rules: Use mythic power to enhance terrain, play with surges - the like. If one module was predisposed towards said type of shenanigans, it was this one. The absence of the like results in this not necessarily feeling like a "mythic high level module," but rather like a high level module with mythic adversaries. Fun fact - I tested this module with non-mythic PCs and my players, with much dying, some luck and strategy managed to prevail, so if your group is as insane and challenge-craving as mine, this module does test non-mythic characters to their limits and probably, beyond. Conversely, mythic characters had not an easy time, but neither was the party eliminated - in direct comparison, the non-mythic module felt more lethal for non-mythic characters than the mythic module for mythic characters. But I'm rambling.



On its own, sans modification and for mythic groups, this is a good module; surprisingly, it is an excellent module for groups wherein the players crave a challenge and are willing to pit themselves against mythic foes without being mythic themselves. My final verdict, thus, would oscillate between 4 and 5 stars - since the target audience consists of the former, though, I'll settle on 4 stars as an official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kingdom of Toads Mythic Edition
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Mythic Minis 53: Gunslinger Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/05/2015 05:36:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



-Amateur Gunslinger: Gain Wis-mod grit, min 1 as well as a single 3rd level deed. Also use mythic power in lieu of grit to perform a deed. Can be traded for Mythic Extra Grit if getting the class feature.



-Deft Shootist Deed: No AoOs for reloading/firing a firearm while you have at least 1 grit and +2 AC when wielding a firearm versus melee attacks. When attacked in melee, spend 1 grit or mythic power as an immediate action to execute a firearm attack against the foe. At 5th tier, you can execute this +1 time per round by expending an additional grit/mythic power. Now this is a corner case, but since immediate actions preclude you from taking swift actions, does using this ability to execute two counter attacks eat one immediate action or the immediate actions for the next two rounds? Clarification is required here.



-Extra Grit: +2 grit. Use mythic power whenever you regain grit to regain 2 grit instead. Cool mechanic!



-Snap Shot (found on the SRD-page, btw.): +2 AC when hitting a target with a ranged AoO; expend mythic power to make the bonus last for tier rounds. Alternatively, expend mythic power to temporarily gain Combat Reflexes for Ranged AoO-purposes or, if you have it already, increase number of AoOs per round by +1 per 3 tiers you have.



-Improved Snap Shot: Adds free 5-foot step to the ranged AoO and allows for mythic power-fuelled immediate action reload.



-Greater Snap Shot: Add +1/2 tier to damage and crit-confirmation rolls with your ranged AoOs and lets you use mythic power to auto-confirm a critical threat. I am NOT a fan of this latter option - why? Because firearms already deal terrible amounts of damage on crits and this further exacerbates the rocket launcher tag issue of mythic gameplay.



-Leaping Shot Deed: Further increase Acrobatics bonus. If you have the Quick Draw feat, you can drop a firearm as part of the full-round action and draw another, firing at a -2 penalized full attack bonus. For mythic power, you can end the shot on your feet instead of prone.



-No Name: Increases Bluff-checks with and without grit-expenditure. Also allows you to expend 1 grit to treat a disguise check as a natural 20.



-Ricochet Shot Deed: Ignore cover and concealment with ricochet shots; Spend 1 grit to render the target of such a shot flat-footed. That's VERY strong; not sold on this one.



-Secret Stash Deed: Pay only half cost for non-normal bullets, cartridges etc. recovered. For 1 mythic power, instead find 30 bullets, a powder horn or one magical bullet and powder. Magical bullets never exceed +2 enhancement. Sleight of Hand bonus increases when gambling. Solid one!



-Signature Deed: Reduce grit cost for the deed by 2. if the deed's cost is 0, you can perform it for free as long as you have 1 grit as the deeds regular action. The feat also allows you to decrease the action it takes to perform the deed via mythic power - so far, so nice. Then, things get broken HARD - whenever you perform the deed, you regain 1 grit. I don't have to tell you that this eliminates all limitations imposed on grit as a limited resource, right? Broken and needs nerfing.



-Sword and Pistol: Add +1 attack with pistol or crossbow when criting with a melee weapon. For one mythic power, you can double the threat range of the ranged weapon attack. Per se cool - two weapon fighting penalties apply. Got that. BUT: If you have executed 1 attack with your primary weapon and one with the off hand and score a crit on the second attack with the primary weapon, is the granted attack with the ranged off-hand weapon then executed at the usual penalty assigned to iterative attacks or at the full BAB? Since this is not an AoO, clarification is required here.



Conclusion:

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



Jeff Lee's gunslinger feats generally provide a fun array of options with some of them being capital letters-level fun. At the same time, several of the feats herein provide an unnecessary power-escalation in depth - something the mythic rules don't need. Breadth provides a more compelling playing experience and as provided, several of the feats herein distinctly serve as exacerbating factors for some of the nastier components of mythic gameplay. Additionally, there are some minor problems in wording herein that need clarification and thus, I will settle on a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up by a margin to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 53: Gunslinger Feats
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Monster Menagerie: The Construct Companion
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/04/2015 06:05:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 123 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1.5 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank back cover, leaving us with 114.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin this massive, huge book with an aptly-written piece of prose before diving straight into this massive book, which can be pictured as w2hat would happen if a book of the series formerly known as Mythic Menagerie (renamed due to the release of the mythic rules) took more steroids than an 80s locker-room full of pro-wrestlers. What do i mean by this? Well, this huge book is almost completely crunch - which means that, were I to go into my usual level of detail, this would be a review of epic proportions indeed. Instead of this, I opted for a more dynamic approach and filtered the analysis I undertook for your convenience. I will hence try to give you a fair sampling of what to expect within this book, so let's not lose any more time and get this beast going!



Well, the first thing you obviously have to know is that this book can be considered a toolkit among other things and contains a new expanded array of options for the creation of animated objects - whether it is the option of animated objects to animate more objects themselves, anchoring or a means to avoid detection, special materials and even swarm-form - the options herein enhance animated objects in meaningful, evocative ways - to the point where the few pages devoted to that made me come up with no less than 3 adventures. Better yet, following the design-philosophy of the horsemen's great gruesome monster templates, the inclusion of drawbacks for animated objects allow a GM to create adversaries that reward clever players, rendering this very much in line with my own tastes. This is NOT where the usefulness of this chapter end, though - we receive a second massive list for re-animated objects - whether from the remains of an alchemist's laboratory or from carrion, the added options here in no way remain behind in means of evocative ideas presented.



Speaking of evocative: Animated traps. I have NO IDEA how no one so far, me included, failed to codify a trope I have used in so many adventures, I can't even count it - the concept of a self-aware trap that can reset itself not only can enhance greatly the believability of a given world (who resets those death-traps?), it also sports easy and concise guidelines along samples for GMs to embrace this great concept - one less "A wizard did it." lame excuse. Animate Objects variants for diverse spell levels alongside mythic spell support further complement the awesomeness delivered so far. How can you increase my squee-factor further? Simple - add cool vessels. And indeed, animated dirigibles and galleys can be found here, though I admittedly found myself wishing the authors had opted for at least one options that was more far out.



Golemcrafters and DMs should grins from ear to ear at the selection of options that follows now - construct modifications. Whether as enchantments or templates, the options are glorious. What do I mean by that? Well, Jacob Blackmon's rendition of a plague-doctor-mask-wearing golem with a bloody saw and a hand of injector-needles captures, in spite of Jacob's lighthearted style very much the level of disturbing options here. Oh, and MOBILE SUIT GOLEM. Do I really have to say anything more? Best of all - no overlap with Rite's multi-pilot suit: Here, we have an option for a one-character golem-suit, whereas Rite provided the Saber Rider/Power Rangers "All control one"-style. The constructed creature and golem creature template also add a significant array of unique options to the fray. So that would be the toolkit section herein.



Of course, if you've followed the series, you expect a bestiary - and I never said it was not one. Since I've already gushed about animated objects - need some? Well, this pdf delivers in spades -from ill-tempered gates to wells with delusions of being a gallows, the diversity and imagery evoked here leaves simply nothing to be desired. What about canopic jars with multiple different subtypes? "But endy", I hear you say, "this is not necessarily a 'sexy' type of construct!"Got ya, but what would you say about full-blown mythic support in the guise of a return of our friends, the massive colossi? Gigantic, nay, colossal constructs of ice, vegetation...giant bodies? Yes, they're as awesome as they sound. Now what would happen if the Iron Throne of "A Song of Fire and Ice" were a golem? The CR 15 Broken Blade Golem, lavishly rendered, answers exactly this question. Golems made from the flesh of fey and the 4 unique constructs first premiered in the small pdf by Christina Stiles Presents can also be found within this chapter, though admittedly, one can perceive the growth of the horsemen since then. That being said, receiving mythic alternatives for example for the spiritflesh golem is cool and golden golems, grave golems or lodestone golems are awesome.



Now as you may know, I'm a HUGE Ravenloft fanboy and hence, I obviously also have run Vecna Reborn and Die, Vecna, Die!- though heavily modified since both modules sucked hard. I made them essentially a end-times scenario of the worst kind. Why am I bothering you with this? Because, when my players infiltrated the fortress-city of Vecna, the group's paladin led his final charge with the last survivors against the armies of Vecna's undead, duking it out against "The Eye", one of the 2 unique golems of Vecna. Well, there is a golem in that style in here as well, the disturbing, eye-themed Oculus Golem, who coincidentally comes with AWESOME upgrade templates for blinking and cursing glares. I ADORE this golem. Crystalline record-keepers, things entirely made of poisonous stinger - in here. What about a mechanical kraken or sand or salt golems?



Fans of Catherynne M. Valente's "Cities of Gold and Spice" will enjoy the tooth golem, a way to potentially represent the dread being entirely made of teeth, Gholad - once again, especially due to the glorious CR-modifying additional options available for the golem. Totem and Tusk golems can also indeed prove to be fertile grounds for the imagination, though the soldier-storing war golem should also be explicitly mentioned as a creature I enjoy. Beyond golems, guardian lions, mechanical butlers, disturbing construct butchers, telepathic link and poison combining mechanical scarabs - this chapter is thoroughly exciting, with all creatures sporting some sort of unique and compelling combination of options and signature abilities.



This is more than just a bestiary, though - we also have a new player race with the Impendigs - obviously artificial creatures that get +2 Con and Int, -4 Wis, darkvision and low-light vision. They may choose a skill each day and receive the benefits of Skill Focus for the chosen skill and are half-constructs. An okay race, I guess, though I can name a couple more compelling ones. The Adaptable Arcanist Wizard archetype receives a wildcard-slot at his highest spell level known (later on all ) that can be used to cast any spell in the arcanist's spellbook (or learned via Spell Mastery) instead of Scribe Scroll. At 5th level, the archetype can also choose a specialization every day with freely chosen opposing schools, but without gaining bonus slots or focused arcane school powers. All in all, okay, if a bit on the strong side - not a fan of further increasing the flexibility of the already very strong wizard class. The awakened would be a construct-themed druid, using Cha instead of Wis as governing spellcasting attribute.



The Inexorable construct race receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha, get darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision, ferocity, 6 + level SR, a slam attack at 1d4 + 1.5 times the Str-mod and the half-construct type. Again, okay though I can name some imho more compelling construct races. Racial-archetype wise, we get the drone fighter, who get modified proficiencies (minus heavy armor, plus firearm), base skills per level (4 instead of 2) - drones are created for one of 3 divisions: Command, strike or infantry, all of which modify the class skill list and various abilities of the archetype, rendering it more versatile than one could expect -at least thematically. While I LOVE this concept-wise, the actual impact on gameplay imho should have been more distinct - as written, we get a cool design-idea that is only carried through halfway to its logical conclusion. Still - kudos on a design-aesthetic level, also for the skill-deviation. :)



The second archetype would be the Munitionist gunslinger, a gunslinger with an integrated firearm who can spend grit to temporarily enhance the firearm with enhancement bonuses and weapon-qualities, magus-style. Solid.



There also are a selection of non-race specific archetypes to be found herein, though construct/half-construct as types remain prerequisite for the bloodless sorceror, for example, who essentially replace bloodline powers with natural armor, slam attacks et al. as well as one wild-card spell. Golem Slayer rangers are pretty self-explanatory concept-wise, though the immunity-negating and nasty debuff sigils render them more than a default bland nemesis archetype. Idolater clerics summon construct creatures and channel elemental construct healing energy. Lawbringer cavaliers get a construct companion (its own template/companion archetype) and the accompanying law-themed order fits, though it is not revolutionary. The Progenitor summoner replaces summon monster with animating objects and gets appropriately-themed substitution for the eidolon, in which he can also store spells. The capstone exoskeleton deserves special mention here - I honestly wished the archetype had focused on that one instead of its current focus. The Shielded magus is the first of these archetypes I truly consider cool - a shield specialist, these guys can grant properties of animated objects to their shields - and with new arcana and scaling effects, the tactical options this one allows are intriguing indeed. Finally, the warmachine fighter is also interesting, gaining half-construct benefits at the cost of permanent penalties of mental attributes and appropriately themed benefits. Over all, a nice archetype that allows for several concepts and narrative twists I like, though I have solved the same concept in a more scaling-heavy way in my own game.



Among the PrCs presented, the maker (d6, 2+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, 1/2 will-save progression, full spellcasting progression) determines a creature she has made as her guardian and thus provides scaling benefits, including skills, feats and abilities for said construct - pretty much a pet PrC with spell storing, no berserk etc. On the nitpicky side, the special column is usually in the class table between saves and spell progression, not at the end, but that is a cosmetic gripe at best. The second PrC, the Martinet (d8, 2+Int mod skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 fort- and will-save progression, 7/10th spellcasting progression) has the same presentation peculiarity and can be considered a bard-based commander-PrC - solid, though I've seen so many options to execute this theme that I can't really get excited about it. It's solid. The aforementioned template for construct companions and construct familiars respectively do not share this fate - I really like both options.



The pdf, obviously, also sports feats - a LOT o them: From natural armor to DR, you can expect quite a few customization options, with the themes, obviously, being construct upgrades and item creation feats. Not much to complain here. Where the pdf returns to full-blown form, though, would not be with feats that render golem creation a valid option during an adventurer's career - it's with the magic items, which btw. include their share of mythic items - for example golem armor, which, powered by mythic power, can confer temporarily the tricks of these iconic sentries upon their wearers.



Speaking of mythic - I have intentionally so far kept my mouth shut regarding abstraction golems - these would be mythic golems that represent special concepts from love to time, with corresponding templates and unique abilities as well as sample builds. The academic in me ADORES this chapter - why? Because it enhances the narrative cohesion by allowing a GM to provide mechanically relevant options for constructs that serve to emphasize chosen leitmotifs - from the temporal immortality of death golems to the obsession-inducing love golems (in case you need inspiration for a horror-story with this theme, play the indie-adventure Anna and unlock the final ending...), these golems are absolutely glorious. and combinations can provide more - take the sample dust golem, crafted from sand and time: Fear in a handful of dust indeed!



Oh, and if you're on the time-starved and/or lazy side, you will definitely appreciate the sample encounters provided in chapter five, where a recap's gambit (lavishly illustrated) can end up extremely nasty for the PCs or where golden and lodestoen golems combine for lethal threats in defense of the treasures of the kind of thieves. Have I mentioned the deadly tooth fairy swarm?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, especially considering the size of this massive book - on both a rules-language and a formal level. Layout is the one component of this book I positively loathe - each page has wide margins left and right, above and below, which also sport colored graphics in the background. Not only does this mean that this pdf takes more pages when printing it out, it also drains more printer. I don't understand why the fragmented artwork, mostly obscured by the main area of text anyway, still remains - it has NO FUNCTION and does not look good: What help is half an elven lady's head o the left side? The only thing this does is distract me from the text and wonder why the artwork has been cropped into the borders. Urgh. On the plus side, you will be hard-pressed to find a 3pp-pdf with such a vast density of qualitatively high full-color artworks: Jacob Blackmon's distinct style is evident in every artwork and renders a sense of visual cohesion to this pdf that somewhat serves to offset the layout faux-pas. So kudos to master Blackmon! The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive nested bookmarks for your convenience.



The author-collective/roleplaying think-tank called the The Four Horseman, consisting of Steven T. Helt, Stephen Rowe and Dan Dillon have a reputation with me - why? Because their templates rank among the very few monster books that still elicit excitement from me. Let's face it - with over 2000 reviews and most 3.X monster books by 3pps at my place, I've read more monsters than I probably should have. I still have all those second edition appendices and still remember the time when monsters were defined by story, not just mechanics. PFRPG's current development, at least in the 3pp-market, has thankfully moved away from the bland reconfiguration of mechanics towards unique and compelling creatures - but still, at one point or another, you have just seen SO MUCH. You get déjà-vus ALL THE TIME.



Where am I going with this rant? Well, usually it falls to Rite Publishing's complex builds or Legendary Games' unique mythic abilities to provide this sense of the exciting and new to me. This pdf manages exactly this feeling as well. Once you've read a certain amount of books, you get a kind of radar for when an author phones in a creature. You won't find that in here. Indeed, it can be considered stupefying how many unique tricks can be found in this massive bestiary/toolbox- for this is exactly that: A huge kit to render constructs relevant and exciting, a smart book full of inspired concepts that reward brains. Now the toolkit aspect, imho, is also a minor flaw of this book - for as inspired as I consider the monster/item sections, I would lie when claiming that I was blown away by races or archetypes.



The player-centric material, while solid, just does not have the space and detail to shine - from missing FCOs to traits, age, height and weight-tables etc., it is evident that these components are bonuses that have been included to make this a definite resource - and in the end, at least to me, they detracted more from the book than they added to it. Why? Because the other components, from the expanded animated object options to the mythic abstraction golems universally reach a level of quality only seldom seen in a bestiary, much less so in one with such an excellent bang-for-buck-ratio. It is against this backdrop of stellar concepts that anything "only" good seems infinitely less compelling. So, at least for players, this is perhaps not the revelation that it most definitely is for GMs.



The golems and options here are varied, unique and inspired - and were all components of this book as awesome (and the borders not as &%$§$), this would be a candidate for my top ten. As written, it remains one STELLAR, huge book that showcases well the reason why the Four Horsemen have developed a following in such a short time. This belongs in the library of any GM looking to make golems interesting and fun...and, most of all: Versatile. This is one of the best monster books I've read in ages and demands 5 stars + seal of approval - and rest assured in a book of a lesser quality, my rant on layout et al. would have been much more pronounced. Here, though, both that and the aforementioned pieces just are swallowed by awesomeness. Get this!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Menagerie: The Construct Companion
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Urban Dressing: Elven Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/03/2015 08:39:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this time around, our trip through diverse towns brings us into a town of elves - where the sights and sounds, of which no less than 100 are provided - from mist that stubbornly refuses to yield to the encroaching rays of the sun to out-of-place snowless lakes to newborns ritualistically drinking the sap of trees, this provides an aptly mystical glance at the insides of elven culture.



A total of 50 different businesses, from animal-shelter-style menageries to courier-services that utilize the branches above for fast travel through the forests and crystalline wind-chimes, all provide a distinct and somewhat unearthly flair. Of course, these places would, on their own, remain pretty opaque - hence, we get a massive array of no less than 50 entries detailing short fluff-only entries of sample inhabitants, which, while in focus obviously elven, also sport a diverse array of characters not belonging to this ethnicity -from obviously xenophobic "newborns" to halflings with a nasty temper, the array of characters covers quite a broad spectrum from benevolent to malicious - have I mentioned the incognito vampire?



In case all of these entries do not spark your interest right from the bat, you can still count on the final table covering 12 hooks and complications, with elven funerals and warriors providing quite a bit of nice hooks to draw this in.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.



Josh Vogt's Urban Dressing on elves could have been pretty much bland, but thankfully, that is not the case - much like the installment on dwarven towns, this provides inspired fluff galore to make your elven towns, no matter the precise look and feel for them you prefer in your games. This installment of Urban Dressing once again is a wonderful installment and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Elven Town
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