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ASA: Madam Margareth's Magic Potion
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2016 11:35:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This brief educational module clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


So, this is an adventure - but it's also more than that; It's a little educational exercise for kids. So yeah, potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, first things first - you need red cabbage, white vinegar, baking soda, a large pot, a glass bottle, a strainer and an ice cube tray and about 3 hours preparation in advance to make special ice-cubes; of these, about ~30 minutes are required to prepare the potion. The calm of a peaceful midsummer's afternoon is broken by an agitated youth, who runs forth, saying that Cecil's in trouble. After a brief interlude, where characters may use their skills (whether it's Survival or Climb) to scout for Cecil, the kids and Margareth will find Cecil - who has eaten a wild mushroom in the forest. Unfortunately, the healer does not have all the ingredients; she needs frost stones, which are, alas, guarded by a vicious yeti who doesn't like visitors.


The kids will need to procure frost stones from the yeti (the special ice-cubes prepared); these will then need o be dropped into the potion she hands the PCs (the other prop she prepared). On trek to the mountains, the PCs can outrun or battle some hungry wolves and start climbing the mountain. At the summit, the PCs can battle the yeti and find the frost stones - and watch them change the color of the potion! Back down below, a pained Cecil will have learned to lesson to not eat wild mushrooms. After the adventure, the module sums up how exactly the trick with the red cabbage and the ice cubes worked - basically, this is teaching by adventure.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with two bookmarks in spite of its brevity. The module isn't too heavy on art apart from the beautiful layout's numerous graphic elements, but honestly, it doesn't need to be - the original art that's here is awesome. Stats and spells are hyperlinked for your convenience.


Justin Andrew Mason's after school adventure is awesome, pure and simple. Let me elaborate: I think our current generation and developments in society have caused children to not have enough time for...well, actually being children. When I reminisce about my childhood (which wasn't always pleasant, to say the least), I tend to not have any nostalgic rose-tinted glasses on. But my mom went all the way trying to teach me as much as possible without making it feel like cramming. And guess what? Lessons associated with things you love and enjoy...they tend to stick. I can still remember all those lessons and pieces of information. You can run this module in 2-4 hours, depending on your pace...and it imparts one important life lesson as well as providing a memorable concept to impart the acidic/alkaline concepts as well as pH-indicator concepts to the kids. If I were to complain about one thing, then perhaps that an explanation of these concepts for people who did not enjoy a proper education (or just forgot) would have been nice in an appendix...but seriously, you can research that in 5 minutes while the cabbage is simmering.


Fun, educational and suitable for children of all ages (and even open-minded adults who enjoy this kind of thing), this little educational adventure is absolutely awesome - 5 stars + seal of approval. We need more of them! Seriously, so much more! With enough of these avid roleplaying kids will not only start excelling in language/history-based subjects and math, but also in other subjects. Really awesome in concept and execution. Get this!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ASA: Madam Margareth's Magic Potion
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Subterranean Races - Puddling Archetypes
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2016 11:32:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This long overdue expansion for the awesome puddling-race clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this little collection with the Crystalbroken - puddling bloodragers that had a mishap when interacting with memory-crystals...resulting in unforeseen split personalities. These translate, mechanics-wise, to them being capable of replacing the bloodrager's 1st level bloodline power with cleric domain- or sorceror bloodline- powered SPs. Interesting - this can only be cast when bloodraging, but the usual bloodrager spells can't be cast. The archetype continues this theme, replacing powers with more SPs and later even domain powers/sorceror bloodline powers. It should be noted that this archetype is particularly rewarding when used in conjunction with The Big Book of Bloodlines.


The moderator wizard can speak telepathically to all creatures touching it (later: range 30 ft.) and may even restrict the communication of one touching character. This costs arcane school and the bonus feat at 10th level. Additionally, the archetype nets at 8th level status of all creatures in this telepathic network. Very flavorful archetype.


The protoplasmic fist monk replaces the bonus feat gained at first level with gaining DR 1/- due to wobbling until the next turn whenever he uses ki or stunning fist. 2nd level nets a 25% chance to ignore precision damage (50% at 10th level), while 3rd level allows the puddling to move on walls, sticking to surfaces spider climb-style Wis-mod times per day sans cost; subsequent uses cost 1 point of ki. Falling on creatures counts as charging and at higher levels, these guys can engulf creatures, which allows them to gain ki on a temporary basis - and no, this cannot be kitten'd. Unique: At 12th level, even when helpless or paralyzed, they can turn into an exceedingly fast moving, shapeless goo...and yes, this means auto-escape from grapples, though the ability costs 2 ki and a move action to activate. Pretty awesome!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, even ki has been properly italicized. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard with stock art and the pdf's artwork is stock, excluding the cute cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


The puddling archetypes Bradley Crouch has crafted herein are flavorful, balanced and fun. They all have a cool, unique shtick that makes them stand out, with particularly the monk archetype being pretty damn cool. That being said, they live very much from the cool flavor of the race and should not be considered separate entities - they add to the canon of puddlings and probably won't blow power-gamers away; they are not weak, but their fascination lies in their interaction with the puddling race and the emphasis on unique playing experiences that feel unique, on the roleplaying aspect, which trumps the rollplaying aspect here. Instead, one should consider these to be truly fun, unique and flavorful options for a more than fair price point. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Races - Puddling Archetypes
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Ottolf's Handy Manual of Everyday Magic
Publisher: Land's End Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/21/2016 11:30:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The freshman offering (and so far only one) of Land's End Press clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After a brief bit of introductory fluff, we begin with an elaboration of the unusual concepts depicted in this book: Exotic cantrips are cantrips that aren't automatically available from the get-go - they are rewards and have to be sought out. Some spells herein are augmentable - much like psionic powers and e.g. many spells in 5E, these spells can be prepared at higher levels, which increases its potency. However, it still can be counterspelled by its regular version. Spells on scrolls and similar items that can be augmented are cast as per the creator using the spell in the item's creation - if you used an augmented version, the item will also use the augmented version. The augments have the spell-level increase in brackets behind the augment-subheader. Finally, there are spells herein that have reversible effects: These spells allow you to spontaneously decide whether you want to cast the regular or reversed effect. The presentation of all of these concepts is concise and to the point.


Before diving into the spells themselves, we are introduced to the spells by class-list, with wizard/sorceror also featuring the schools listed - it is here one notices that this pdf has aged quite a bit: The spell-lists don't even cover the APG-classes, much less the later ones, so that is something to take into account for players of the current iteration of PFRPG. It should be noted that generally, the utility magic herein centers on the lower spell levels - clerics, and sorcerors/wizards get 1 and 2 3rd level spells, respectively - all other spells are below that in their levels.


So, what do the spells do? Well, Abigail's Discernible Tracks, for example, causes your footprints to emit a faint glow, with an augment allowing for additional creatures to be affected - basically a trail of magical breadcrumbs. Assort and Arrange also falls neatly in the realm of useful spells - it can be cast to affect a number of objects to align them according to your specifications: Think of that one as a magical "Sort by..."-function we all know from our PCs. Oh boy...I really wished this spell existed in our daily world...


An aura that makes you conspicuous, the hilarious beard on demand...there are some gems here. Also pretty evocative: Boffenpot's Bubbleblabber, a spell that produces bubbles when you try to speak in which the words are visibly trapped - only to be heard when the bubble bursts. Problematic from a balance point of view: Spellcasters affected can't cast any verbal spells, making this a pretty powerful level 1 save-or-suck-experience. Cool: Enchanting a chair to accept exactly one set of buttocks. A cantrip can create a 1-gallon-bottle to carry fluids around with you. Pretty cool: Bottling emotions, short messages or scents becomes possible as well. Connoisseur's Savvy is a bit of a problematic cantrip, as it ruins any story that hinges on anything ingested, like poison - the cantrip identifies presences of magical ingredients and the precise nature and quantity of mundane ones in a meal.


Less problematic, but pretty cool: Instantly conjuring forth a massive diagram. Also pretty interesting: a cantrip that lets you talk in a made up language and seem really authentic, with the augment-option to have additional creatures, like allies, understand you - I don't get, however, why Linguistics can't be used to potentially decipher this one. Oh well. A spell that helps a steed or other creature know the way home is pretty cool. Creating a jumbled mess out of a string (or instantly straightening one out) is also nice. Underpowered for the level: There is a paladin spell level 1 that lets your armor glow and keeps it clean of blood. Yeah right, I'll waste a precious slot I could use for bless weapon on that...


Speaking of issues in an otherwise solid presentation - bonuses, when present, do not adhere to the codified types - when I read "magical bonus", I cringe inside... Creating an illusory raconteur to regale your guests is certainly nice for wizards that dumped that Charisma-stat hard. Speaking of cool ideas: ottolf's insufferable guest: Get a flea-or cockroach-ridden sheet. Take it to a room. Cast the spell. Et voilà, a truly insufferable, prickish autonomous creature of your race and size, but not otherwise appearance or gender, that will provide a more than convenient alibi for whatever you're planning. Everyone will remember it. I want to craft a module around that. Enchanting containers of alcohol to not spill the drinks would be another spell that could have saved many a keyboard or laptop.


At spell to make a target incapable of giving away money is also interesting, but since the effect seems to be based on teleportation, the spell should have the appropriate descriptor - btw.: Descriptors generally can't be found in this book's spell-blocks. Interesting: Making all your pockets have the same entry point, instant drying or falling through water (up to 60 feet) also make for uncommon options - and yes, the latter does cover interaction with snow and ice. A cantrip that lets you seem awake while you're taking a nap is another spell I wish I knew in real life and gaining information about a person from the tombstone is interesting -and, surprisingly, will not break any investigations. A spell that enchants targets to perceive tasks as riddled with problems or an instant passage of seasons for a plant can be found herein alongside the zone of questionable truth, which fyi makes everything seems like a lie. The pdf comes with some nice appendices for permanency on objects/areas and self only as well as self and other creatures with associated gold costs and a handy index of spells.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good: Rules language and formal language are excellent, but in the spell-blocks, there are minor deviations here and there - cosmetic ones, sure...but still. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column standard with a parchment-like bachground that may not render this particularly printer-friendly...but still. This is a VERY professional-looking book. The artwork herein is original, with interior artwork being original b/w-pieces that illustrate some of the spells. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.


Cristián Andreu's freshman offering looks like the work of a veteran - this book, from cover to cover, is exceedingly professional, beautiful and generally well-made. While some of the spells sport minor balance hiccups, they are few and far in-between and the spells themselves are professional, well-crafted, employ solid rules-language...what more? Well, what about covering all classes?


I noted that this had aged not too well, right? Well, this was released 2014. Yeah. If this had come out, I don't know, in 2010, this would have been a milestone and cool, awesome, evocative. 2014? Well...exotic cantrips are established and augmentation...know from both mythic and psionic rules. Reversed spells? Seen that one before as well. The implementation is great - don't get me wrong. It is not, however, that innovative any more.


This does not make this a bad book, mind you - far from it. But it does make it dated on release - no support for even the APG-classes, magus, etc.? Not cool. I don't think that ALL classes need to be covered, mind you - but the APG is pretty much default, seminal - it is when PFRPG came to its own, became completely distinct from 3.X. So yeah. That is a BIG thing for me. It does not mitigate the quality of the spells herein...but it is a pretty serious flaw.


Anyways, how to rate this? Well, ultimately, this is, flaws aside, an impressive freshman offering - and as such, it does get a bit of leeway. hence, I arrive at a final rating of 4 stars - a good pdf that falls slightly short of greatness.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ottolf's Handy Manual of Everyday Magic
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SoR1: A Page of Scrolls
Publisher: Casey Brown
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2016 10:58:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This first module in the Shadows over Riverton AP clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This adventure was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a critical and unbiased review.


Wait: Before we do dive into the SPOILERS, let me make something very clear. Are you interested in Greyhawk's bandit kingdoms? Well, if you've been following my homepage, you'll notice how last Friday, I reviewed basically the unofficial chronicles of the Bandit Kingdoms, right? Right. Note how I enjoyed the sentiments there, the style and everything? How I wished that this institution was still around, that I could play in it? Well, the Living Greyhawk campaign may be gone, but this module, in themes and presentation, very much breathes the spirit of the bandit kingdoms, if not, obviously, the IP. This does mean a couple of things: For one, there is a more than pronounced level of detail available here, with footnotes helping with less common rules, concise use of skills and DCs - the presentation does show the experience of author Casey Brown in the harsh realities of living campaigns - and yes, this includes notes to scale challenges to higher APLs. This level of detail, and this is very important for the potential buyer to know, extends to the eponymous town of Riverton as depicted herein: Apart from the map and the handout, the pdf has no less than 7 pages devoted to Riverton -and the city's details are truly captivating.


Without spoiling anything, here's basically the gist: 18 years ago, The Bastard, a powerful cambion, gathered an army of humanoids and, via the support of shadow demons as assassins, managed to take Riverton and subject it to his brutal yoke. The people did not let that stand, however - they slowly, but surely eliminated the powerful abyssal assassins and then, civil war erupted and Riverton's champions managed to drive The Bastard and his servants from the town. However, a significant population of humanoids remained, which is probably one of the reasons Riverton, to this day, is governed by a Plar - "Someone who rules over a motley group." Beyond the racial tensions between the more monstrous humanoids and the general populace, recent weeks have brought dire warnings and refugees from the North streaming to Riverton, further adding tinder to the explosive cocktail brewing. If that does sound interesting, you'll be happy to hear that Riverton's depiction in its details goes one step beyond what just about every sourcebook does: We get full-blown settlement statblocks and write-ups for not only Riverton, but also beggartown, the somewhat remote harbor town-quarter and the respective districts (!!!), overall generating a truly compelling backdrop, which, in style, presentation and theme would work perfectly with just about every Frog God Games or Raging Swan Press-supplement in theme and style.


So yes, this, theme-wise, pretty much represents the best of Greyhawk-aesthetics. This does extend to creatures though: Goblins are e.g. not illiterate here and the revised background stories and flavor assumed for Golarion does not necessarily hold true within these pages. Which brings me full circle around to the unofficial bandit kingdom summary I mentioned before. In case you haven't noticed: This pdf, in its spirit, detail and style, very much can be considered the heir to the Bandit Kingdoms aesthetics and flavor. Having read the guide, it is very hard to divorce the module's premise from this heritage; you see, the section that amounts to a mini campaign setting with Riverton and its environments reverberates with the stories of the bandit kingdoms to an exceedingly pronounced degree - it feels like the sequel the narrative was always supposed to have.


Okay, this is as far as I can go without resorting to SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, only GMs here? We begin with an establishing shot, as the PCs make their way towards the gates of Riverton, towards Flaneur's gate, where access to the city can be gained; against a backdrop of refugees and yes, slavers, the PCs will have a taste of the frontier spirit and rough and tumble mindset beyond the borders, as they can save Stafania Wunderlich Homeagain, a halfling associated with the prominent Homeagain family, from slavers. The level of detail employed here is stunning and something you usually only see in modules by Raging Swan Press or 4 Dollar Dungeons - whether via combat or Intimidation, the pdf is not content in simply resolving the task with a skill check, but takes roleplaying and decisions as well as circumstances into account, extending this care to the consequences of the encounter as well. Beyond this intermezzo, the PCs will also have an easy means of bypassing the notorious anti-elven orc-captain Llerdnirg, who far exceeds the PCs in capability - probably with the help of one Ahren, a clumsy diviner in the employ of the local wizard's college. Pcs that understand Orcish may actually be rewarded with additional read-aloud text, to give you another example for the commendable level of care employed here.


Having entered the city, it is also Ahren that tries to recruit the PCs for a specific task: You see, the clumsy diviner has lost a scroll, which has fallen into the canalization under Riverton, a place that is the home of quite a few unpleasant folks. It is here that the brief mini-dungeon episode begins, as the PCs climb down into the canals to retrieve the scroll. The canals as such extend the level of detail employed for the social encounters above ground to the terrain and encounter with both intelligent and nonintelligent adversaries, providing a diverse set of challenges and including means for nonviolent conflict resolution, tough as those may be.


So yeah, while you may well roll your eyes at a sewer level, it actually is a well-crafted one, with a handy GM-reference for underwater combat being included in the deal. Beyond that, it should be mentioned that, while CR-appropriate, this is no hand-holding exercise: There are ample harder modules out there, but PCs unwilling to act and fight smart will be tested to their limits if Fortuna does not favor them. The brief sojourn into the stinking and infectious depths does end with some interesting loose ends: Hints towards a conspiracy/slaver-ring and the very nature of the scroll - blood biography - render the potential for future developments more than pronounced, particularly since the PCs will have had their first taste of the sunken remnants of former ages of Riverton below the surface...and since they may have made a tenuous alliance with goblins...or eradicated them completely. The overall sense with which this pdf leaves you is one of baited anticipation - much like a good establishing shot/first module, this seeds a lot of hooks and potential and provides a fascinating vista for further developments and already points towards a serious array of potential consequences for the actions of the PCs. The pdf also sports a new spell that lets you detect hidden writing and the scroll case in question is actually a new magic item.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are superb - I noticed not a single glitch. Layout adheres to a clean two-column full-color standard with the pages sporting a yellowish used parchment look. The artworks are serviceable and the full-color map is neat as well, though we do not get a player-friendly map to cut up and present to the players. I hope that future installments of the series will sport a map of Riverton, but for the purpose of this module, it is not (yet) required and therefore absent. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a nasty comfort detriment. The print version is thus preferable and can be considered to be a nice, solid softcover.


Casey Brown's "A Page of Scrolls" is an establishing shot of a module: It establishes a tone, connections and challenges, a specific design approach and does so with flying colors. The flair and atmosphere evoked are superb and captivating, particularly for those of us even remotely familiar with the bandit kingdoms, to which this is a predecessor in anything but closed IP. That being said, as much as I adore the flavor and design approach, the level of detail and care, this module ultimately remains just that - the establishing shot. If you take the level of detail, the atmosphere and the setting up away and look at this on its own, it loses some of its appeal due to the overall brevity of the module. The easiest means of understanding what this is would be to simply picture this as an excellent first part in a multi-part organized play saga, with some excellent gazetteer-style information added. As such, the module feels a bit lacking in its resolution, but does so by design. In the end, this made me exceedingly excited to see where the saga will go from here, but also left me somewhat dissatisfied regarding cliffhangers or first, pronounced consequence, instead just hinting at the things to come.


It is thus, that I arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars, with the explicit note that I can't wait to see where this series will go.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
SoR1: A Page of Scrolls
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Subterranean Races: The Puddlings [PFRPG]
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2016 10:55:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!


It is by now a tested trope that even gods may die in fantasy gaming - and where death is a possibility, one should not be surprised to see the concept of the divine assassin - whether in the guise of a Red Mantis of a psychotic killer. The assumption of this book is that there at least once was a divine assassin (perhaps a predecessor?) that has failed. When the divine assassin was sent to destroy Aggranius, lord of facets, the deity was prepared and rendered his own body into an eternal, resplendent prison for the slayer of gods, creating a race of oozes as stewards in the process.


At first, these beings, dissolving most materials, were basically stuck in a type of stone age - but ingenuity and an abundance of divinely infused crystals from their dead, but pretty present god, has allowed them to create their very own, unique technology, advancing in leaps and bounds in spite of their handicap. Now, ages later, the divine energy of Aggranius is faltering, the divine assassin stirs - and it's time for the puddlings to break their self-imposed isolation.


Now here is the deal - unlike about 99% of underworld races, puddlings...actually are not only cute, they are actually pretty nice guys! Relentlessly curious, they love interacting with outsiders, have a society based on consensus and always have a hat or two available for outsiders. Racial stat wise, puddlings get +2 Int and Con, -2 Dex, are medium, have a speed of 20 ft and speak puddle, their own language. They have acid resistance 5, get +2 to saves versus transmutation spells and effects, +1 to a skill of their own choosing, +1 DC of any transmutation cast. Puddlings with Int 11+ get 3/day mending as a SP. They have darkvision 60 ft. Contact to a puddling body causes 1 point of acid damage to metal, leather and paper equipment, with adamantine and acid resistant equipment being immune to this. They can't wear armor, but can wear shields, but their body's membrane can be enchanted as though it were a masterwork armor.


Instead of acid resistance, they can have the option to 1/hour spit acid (1d6 +1 per two character levels) as a ranged touch attack, increased acid damage (faster degrading for items, but retributive acid damage) or no item degrading. Extending the skill bonus to another skill. Now pretty cool: When you wear a magical het, you increase your Charisma, with the bonus scaling the more magical the hat is. Why? Because puddlings use hats to determine leaders for a certain duration. Hilarious and cool. Further enhancing skill bonuses is also possible. Overall, the race is balanced, cool and unique, with the alternate racial traits feeling right regarding their balancing - oh, and yes, age, height and weight tables are included and the race gets neat FCOs for the bard, fighter, monk, rogue, tinker and wizard classes.


The race also sports an array of 8 racial feats that grant light fortification, rerolls for the skills you obsess about (i.e. the ones you've chosen via racial traits), critical hits that let you penalize foes via latent telepathy, emit a blinding pulse 3/day, gain increasing armor bonuses, squeeze into cracks and crevices...and there even is an achievement feat that lets outsiders benefit from puddling arcanocrystals.


Which brings me to the puddling's unique resources - the arcane crystals, which can be used to decrease the costs of item creation. And yes, mining DCs and the like are provided. Arcane gel is interesting - also made from these crystals, it can be used as splash weapon and acts as an amplifier for magic, increasing the damage caused by subsequent exposure of magical energies. Memory crystals are used to keep...well, memories and consensus crystals are used to homogenize opinions - they thus are an integral component of puddling society. Mindtonic is a powerful tonic that can cure insanity and mental attribute drain to mental scores, making that tonic a good reason to travel to the puddling lands. The mugshot crystal can be used to...well duplicate mugshots...or show stretches of places, allowing for easier familiarization for purposes of scrying or teleport: Think of it as a kind of crystalline photo. Obsession enhancers and a costly, droning enhancer for casters complement a cool array of unique items.


A total of 5 different alchemical items can be found in these pages: Bouncers would be crystalline mines that ignore puddlings, while etch gel allows the puddlings to make exceedingly intricate stone work. Peptidoglycan boosters allows puddlings to gain the benefits of potions...and they can be thrown at puddlings, though that does deal a bit of damage to the recipient. The idea of throwing potions at creatures pretty much is awesome. Similarly, geodes that create crystalline caltrops are pretty cool.


The pdf's magic items are unique as well - Cryslinders, aka "wizard-in-a-can" or "Sunder that first!" are basically gel-based flame/acid/etc.-throwers. And yeah, the visuals are AWESOME and tunable variants are included. Decay-rate decreasing conservation-boxes and then there would be the humongous hat. This hat detects any other hats within one mile and then one-ups then. It sticks to the head of the wearer and also allows the wearer to record a d20 and use the recorded number instead of another roll. Talking poles help communication skills and can enhance the aforementioned blinding pulses of Puddling Fast-Talk. Universal Dictator translate puddle into other languages and the vessel of endless gel does basically what you'd expect.


The pdf also provides a bestiary: At CR 8, Arcanoplasm can absorb magic, also damage items with its attacks and unleash powerful force-damage storms. Damn cool! The CR 1 Blindfish is hard to keep track of and is farmed mainly for the use of its eyes as spell components. Finally, the CR 6 Crystallite is very dangerous to unarmed fighters and these using natural weapons, deals Con-damage (ouch!) and can use crystalline shockwaves - appropriately dangerous for remnants of Aggranius' consciousness.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf uses stock-art apart from the exceedingly cute cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.


Bradley Crouch is famous for his mastery of crunch and class-design, not for races. Turns out that he excels at the latter as well: The puddlings are awesome. For one, the very concept is novel, fun and unique. More importantly, the race actually PLAYS completely differently from other races: The collective of items and feats makes sure that the race as a whole actually feels completely different from any other race I have reviewed - the crunch actually emphasizes the unique history, society and structure of the society of these lovable blobs of goo. More importantly, they are a breath of levity, of fun and hope in the often pretty grimdark underworld.


How good is this pdf? Well, it's good enough to actually have introduced them to my main campaign. They are unique, distinct in mechanics and flavor, with each component of content herein emphasizing their unique culture. This is awesomeness and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the missing bookmarks. Get this unique race and bring some serious fun and wonder to your games!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Races: The Puddlings [PFRPG]
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Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class: Shifu
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2016 10:53:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The fourth hybrid class released by the Four Horsemen clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The shifu, in case you haven't read already, is a hybrid of monk and kineticist and thus needs to be lawful and gets the monk's unarmed damage progression and AC-bonus as well as 3/4 BAB-progression and good Ref-and Will-saves. The class has d8 HD, 4+Int skills per level and gains proficiency with brass knuckles, cestus, club, crossbow (light OR heavy), dagger, handaxe, javelin, kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai, shortspear, , short sword, shuriken, siangham, sling, spear and temple sword, but not any armor or shield. At first level, they choose an elemental discipline from aether, air, earth, fire, void wood or water, with 10th level providing a second element.


Also at 1st level, the shifu gains elemental strike - these count as unarmed strikes and either deal "physical damage" or elemental energy damage chosen equal to the shifu's unarmed strike damage and SR does not apply. 5th level provides a second elemental strike associated with the primary element, while 10th level and 15th level provide one for the secondary element respectively. A shifu with two elements can make composite elemental strikes that allow for the free combination of physical damage and energy types available, with the damage being split evenly. Suffice to say, the class gets the monks Improved Unarmed Damage and conveniently provides the damage caused by Small and Large shifu characters in its own little table. For the purpose of multiclassing, the shifu's levels count as monk levels, but does not grant automatically access to monk abilities that scale with levels.


Starting at 2nd level, the shifu receives elemental flurry, which does not contain a regular flurry's penalty for the additional attack, but neither does it grant the associated BAB-increase for flurry-attacks. Starting at 3rd level, the shifu gains ki points equal to 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier, but cannot use this ki on its own - it's tied to ki disciplines, the first of which is also gained at 3rd level, with additional disciplines gained every 2 levels thereafter. At 4th level, the shifu may select her first infusion, with every 2 levels thereafter providing an additional infusion - these modify the elemental strike of the class. 8th level, 14th and 18th provide the only means to retrain those, so choose wisely!


4th level provides Stunning Fist (usable class level/day +1 for every 4 non-shifu levels), with some elemental strike secondary effects being powered by the expenditure of Stunning Fist uses. The capstone nets an outsider apotheosis alongside the option to spend ki for temporary access of any elemental strikes and thus also composite elemental strikes based on this one. So that's the base framework.


The elemental disciplines change the playstyle and modify the list of class skills available for the respective shifu, with generally a +2 bonus to saves versus the associated element that improves to +4 at 12th level. More importantly, they offer different elemental strikes - Aether can net you level one force damage (OUCH - and yes, aware of the codification...still not a fan) or the option to add telekinetic power to your attacks via Stunning Fist to send foes flying - i.e., this one makes no sense to take at 1st level, even though the text implies freedom of choice here. It should also be noted that the other elements do not gain something better than the option of mixing in force damage - they get their own respective elemental energies, which are worth less compared to force that is not only potent versus the incorporeal, but also the one damage-type next to nothing can resist. The additional effects of the secondary elemental strikes that can be powered by Stunning Fist btw. run the gamut from negative conditions to stacking acid damage. These are generally solid and do what you'd expect them to do. On the downside, there are a few options in this book that overshoot the target a bit regarding the negative conditions added to certain combos - e.g. void strike adds multi-round daze to the fray, which is pretty brutal. At the same time, however, one should comment on the fact that it at least offers a save to negate and the requirement to expend Stunning Fist uses puts a hard cap on them - a lenient one, but still. Personally, I may have moved them further down the availability-road, but as a whole, I can see the design rationale here.


The aforementioned composite energy strikes available are more interesting, increasing the size for purpose of base damage via gravity, ki-expenditure-based bonus force damage...the options here are pretty neat and more interesting than the base attacks.


Now I already mentioned ki disciplines - these have saves that, unless otherwise noted, are governed by Wisdom and adhere to the 10 + 1/2 class level + Wis-mod-formula and they are powered by ki if active - and they are associated with an elemental discipline, which restricts their availability. They generally can be considered to be the talents of the class and allow for some customization options - from passive endure elements for as long as the shifu has ki and scaling electricity resistance powered by ki to abundant step, diamond body and similar classics to gaining a climb speed and conical elemental bursts or evasion, these provide a generally interesting array that also manages to somewhat balance out the discrepancies in power of the elemental strikes: Void shifus get e.g. the option to have always on light fortification for as long as their ki is not empty, with ki-expenditure allowing for 75% fortification for one round as an immediate action. Aether shifus can spend ki can erect a shield of temporary hit points that, while only temporary, do regenerate slowly. High-level shifu characters with access to Fire can expend all ki to burst into flames and resurrect...which is cool. One hiccup: The ability does not specify a minimum of ki, which can potentially lead to annoying discussions with munchkins...but oh well. That nitpick is pretty cosmetic.


Increasing the cost of point-based abilities of targets is pretty intriguing and the pdf also sports utility-options, like aether's option to use mage hand at range in conjunction with Disable Device or Sleight of Hand. And yes, there is a metric ton of these in here, allowing for a wide variety of builds and differences between different shifus. As a minor complaint: A handy table that lists them by elemental discipline would have been very much appreciated here...


The selection of infusions are more limited, though they are also governed by Wisdom and adhere to the same DC-calculation, if appropriate. As already known, infusions can be added to associated elemental strikes and composite strikes containing the associated element and if they do not require an attack roll, they still consume an attack action and can be executed as part of a full attack. The infusions of the shifu come with a ki cost and thus are limited in their application, with options for some to spend more than one point of ki, thus increasing the potency. The infusions are grouped by relative power, with 8th, 12th and 16th level unlocking a new tier or progressively more powerful infusions. The combo-potential here is interesting, with e.g. Stunning Fist-powered effects potentially extending to small cones of fire, duplications of gust of wind, save to negate ability damage, creating cyclone-style swirling vortices...the tricks here are pretty damn cool and including energy blasts that impale foes and strike those behind them etc. Basically, the infusions are the "See what I did there"-tricks of the class and throwing groups of enemies away at high levels is bound to make you smile from ear to ear.


Conclusion:


Editing is excellent and sports only a few minor hiccups. Formatting is less refined - in an annoying twist that has haunted a few of these pdfs, the first paragraph of most text blocks is bolded (but not as bolded as the parts that ought to be), while the rest is regular text, which makes the pdf, from an aesthetic point of view, somewhat jarring to read, at least to me. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf's full-color artwork may be sparse, but is nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Tim Hitchcock's Shifu is by far my favorite from the 4 hybrid classes the Four Horsemen released - the class does not merely blend monk and kineticist - it completely changes the latter. You do not need to know the class or have Occult Adventures to use this one. The totality of the experience provided in the class is that of a supernatural martial arts monk with an elemental theme that has a lot of non-combat utility if you want, a lot of player-agenda and some serious, cool combo-potential. That being said, at least in my playtests, you will want to invest heavily in Extra Ki-feats - all the cool moves of the class, and cool they are, are predicated on this one resource - its scarcity being a balancing factor, yes - but it also means you'll be doing the cool stuff less often than you'd like. Still, the shifu is an excellent, cool class. In fact, I'd probably rate this even higher, were it not for the Master of Forms, which did the elemental-themed martial arts with a cooldown and a sequential chaining mechanic. While the shifu does an admirable job at making the class truly distinct from its parents, I do consider the master of forms to be more interesting, mainly due to the unique feeling of the respective elements - something the shifu also manages to achieve, though to a slightly lesser extent. However, that is, ultimately, a matter of taste and personal preference and it would be unfair to penalize the class for this -and the two classes do completely different things, play differently and obviously are intended for somewhat different audiences.


Hence, I arrive at a final verdict of 4.5 stars, still rounded up to 5 since my concerns mostly pertain personal preferences in design as opposed to valid complaints, with the annoying formatting, lack of discipline-powers by element and similar small gripes being the only components that cost this my seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class: Shifu
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BDKR1: The Unofficial Living Greyhawk Bandit Kingdoms Summary
Publisher: Casey Brown
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2016 08:51:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review


And now for something completely different - this book clocks in at 92 pages. While I do own the electronic versions, I'd suggest getting the print version if you can - mainly since I'm old-school and have based this review on the print copy.


This book was moved up in my review queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book in exchange for a critical, unbiased review.


Okay, so what is this? It is, at least to me as a German, a piece of gaming arcana: Back in the 3.X days of old, there was a Living campaign of organized play called Living Greyhawk, shaping the classic world, with different regions sporting different adventures. During the impressive 8-year run of Living Greyhawk, the region Bandit Kingdoms produced more than 130 unique modules. These modules, to my knowledge, have never been published in a concise form, which renders a part of this region's turbulent history...opaque.


Well, no longer. The bandit kingdoms in their diversity are laid open in this book's summaries and depictions. Okay, but why should you care? Well, let me elaborate for a second my own personal stance towards Greyhawk. I know this is tantamount to blasphemy, but here goes: I was never the biggest fan of the setting. Sure, I was pretty excited to get to know the place Mordenkainen called home, where Vecna and Kas feuded...but ultimately, the 3 settings I truly loved from the classic TSR/WotC-IPs will always be Ravenloft, Planescape and Dark Sun. Perhaps it's my own predilection for darker fantasy and horror and the weird fiction in general, perhaps it's just a resonance of the disillusion that accompanied many a book and gaming-supplement for 3.X's FRs and the mounting feeling that this world needed no heroes. I'm not sure. But at the end of the 3.X era, I had the feeling that the realms had devolved into a mess, where every hamlet had a level 16 blacksmith. It's subjective. I still like the realms...but from afar. It should hence come as no surprise that I never went truly deep inside the Greyhawk's canon's evolution during these times.


Turns out that that was a colossal mistake. The flair and old-school vibe of a world close to the brink, with mature shades of grey mentalities and ideologies, the sense of threats I enjoy in offerings by Raging Swan Press, Frog God Games or TPK Games can be found within these pages - as the introduction aptly puts it "I had to save the bad guys from the other PCs." In the Iuz-dominated and war-torn bandit kingdoms, royals are forged by tourneys of madness, taking the crown may spell your doom and heroism has still its place, although it's tinted with a healthy dose of survivalism and realpolitik. From 591 - 598, this book chronicles the adventures that were undertaken by countless players, shaping the destiny of the bandit kingdoms in struggles that deviate from the tired challenge-rating-appropriate-formula in quite a few instances, breathing a sense of old-school danger that has been absent in far too many publications. A handy index sums up the respective scenarios by year for your convenience and we also get a glimpse behind the screen, wherein author Casey Brown, one of the meta-organization coordinators, discusses the respective issues with scenario designs and encounter design problems that resulted from some...well, let's say less than well-conceived design decisions that were imposed on the respective authors.


Now here is the interesting component - this massive book provides a comprehensive list of extensive summaries for all those aforementioned modules. The respective modules come with their own designation, the name of the author and list the AP they are associated with - with AP here denoting the sequence of modules that form a cohesive story, not the "whole campaign"-meaning the term has lately taken as its primary meaning. Each of the respective modules comes with a synopsis of the plot as well as a commentary.


Here would be as good a place as any to talk about Casey Brown's obvious experience in academia: From informative and properly placed footnotes to an easy to read, compelling style, what should by all accounts have been a pretty dry read actually became rather engrossing and kept me awake at night while digesting all the information contained herein - also from a mechanical standpoint, for e.g. calling out the Spell compendium (still hurts to type that book's very name). And yes, these tangents are brief, but their very existence is something I truly appreciate. Additionally, if that sound tiring or bland to you, the respective entries often feature extensive commentary that satisfy another craving of the conditio humana we experience: The human element. When e.g. a knight has won a crown as part of his retirement and steps down in favor of his competitor, only to have said competitor be soultrapped by the vile opposition, you can practically see the tables upon tables of players staring in utter disbelief. When an arrogant player's letter results in him becoming part of the metaplot, when a dwarf's famous last stand becomes a symbol for heroism in a region known for cut-throat politics, betrayal and dishonor - then the knowing roleplaying veteran nods and realizes that there are some stories that are only written in our medium, at least in the extent and impact they have on lives and collective ideologies shifting.


The compelling and intelligently-crafted political landscape of the bandit kingdoms, slowly unraveling before my eyes, complete with a powerful (almost) undefeated dragon, a kind of elder evil and Iuz' nigh-unstoppable forces ultimately provides a truly compelling insight into a whole campaign's worth of material, with a massive list of adventures by associated AP and a timeline that chronicles the events by year from CY 576 onward, this book offers a fascinating insight into the rich landscape of this region.


Beyond that, the pdf also offers intriguing miscellanea: Including favorite quotes...and they are hilarious: "You say medusa, I say artist." DM: "You hear a bloodcurdling scream from down the hallway." Player of a rogue: " I Take 10 searching the square in front of me." "We have two kinds of heroes: dead ones and...we have one kind of hero, actually." This book ends with a list of those who served as triad and Iuz circle members.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no glitches of hiccups. The book's layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. One thing that may annoy you is the tendency to have a blank page at the end of a chapter, but that's about it regarding complaints in formal criteria. The electronic version comes in three formats: Pdf, EPUB and MOBI and the print and the classic cover style, with the book sporting the 8 x 02 x 10 inch-dimensions. The pdf, in a minor complaint, is not bookmarked, which is a bit jarring. The paper used in the print does its job regarding its thickness and consistency.


Okay, so why should you care about a by now non-existent, discontinued living campaign? The obvious reason would be nostalgia on part of the participants...but that alone does not do the job. More important, for me as a reviewer is that this book made me actually want to participate in organized play. Pretty much for the first time. I'm not a fan of formulaic or necessarily "Balanced" or "fair" modules - I want a compelling, evolving world and this is a truly astounding glimpse right into such a world. I am neither a big fan of Arcanis, nor of the Pathfinder Society or Greyhawk, as a setting for that matter. But damn, I want to play this. Had I lived in Texas and Oklahoma during this campaign's run, I probably wouldn't have missed a single adventure. The picture painted vividly in this chronicle is that of a campaign that is mature, compelling and dynamic. Beyond the knowledge on the formal aspects conveyed herein, this can be considered to be one of the most compelling takes on roleplaying history I have ever read - and it is an inspiring book. I put this book down and started scribbling scenario-ideas and campaign seeds right of the bat - so even if you are not at all interested in Greyhawk, bandit kingdoms or anything like that, you still get a lot of mileage out of this book.


Casey Brown, Britt Frey and Austin "Theo" Judd have crafted a thoroughly unique document that has its special place of honor on my bookshelf - whether for the Lost Lands, the anarchic regions of Golarion or any other campaign setting, really - this book has a ton to offer for people who don't care about Greyhawk at all. An inspired chronicle that got me excited, a book that is testament to the fact that major story-changes by players can and should happen in living campaigns, a book that does show that there is fun to be had in darker settings and dangerous challenges - what more can you want? This is an inexpensive, awesome book and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BDKR1: The Unofficial Living Greyhawk Bandit Kingdoms Summary
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Everyman Unchained: Eidolons
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2016 08:50:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Everyman Unchained clocks in at a massive 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 43 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!


Or rather, well, before we do, let me state that this book was a ton (no, really!) of work, but also one I truly appreciated. When i began reviewing the Everyman Unchained-series, I had to cover basically everything...and compare the individual builds with Purple Duck Games' takes on the same concepts. Which turned reviewing these into a comparative nightmare. Worse, from a reviewer's point of view, the two approaches taken diverged significantly. Wherein Alexander Augunas stuck close to the original archetypes and options when designing and thus managed to attain a close proximity to the non-unchained material, Carl Cramér took the opposite approach and provided free-form designs, tinkered with core mechanics of archetypes beyond what was necessary, etc. As a reviewer, perhaps even worse, both authors actually did really good jobs and arrived at completely different results -and in the end, I loved some of Alex' designs more in some cases, while preferring some crafted by Carl in other instances.


So I did what I am wont to do when I review something that is simply brutal, dry comparative reading and analysis - I bitched and moaned...and the authors heard me. This book, thus, can be summed up as these two designers joining forces to take a look at the eidolon of the unchained summoner - granted, a creature that received a rather overdue nerf, but also an extremely restrictive narrowing of its possible applications. It is thus that this pdf seeks to expand the options available for unchained eidolons and maintain the established balance of the base forms of Pathfinder Unchained. A total of 8 such new base forms are provided: Aquatic, Avian, Cactus, Conifer, Horror, Mushroom, Tauric and Tree. The base-forms, generally, are well-crafted and on par with the power-levels of the three defaults established in PFU.


The pdf, obviously, does not stop with the customization options for eidolons at a few new base forms - instead, this pdf provides a HUGE, and I mean HUGE assortment of eidolon evolutions. But how do you maintain balancing with such an expansion of options while also staying true to the general mission of making this more variable? Well, you tie certain evolutions to eidolon subtypes - more so than in the defaults in PFU: Limited fey magic, construct materials (accompanying tables with material -> associated Craft skill), advanced alchemical golem effects, speed surges for draconic sept eidolons ad feasible minimum level requirements render eidolons so much more than they honestly were before: With options to gain bloodgolems or carrion golems (or any other material - from ice to clockwork to junk) to diseases, capsizing vessels or getting a tiny eidolon to 12th level-prereq'd strangle and even multi-headed breath weapons, the array of options herein is staggering, up to the point where the general presentation reaches a level of customization that is pretty hard to do within the confines of the non-unchained version...without falling prey to its cheesing tricks.


The subtypes of outsider available for eidolons as depicted in PFU may have covered a lot - but it was by far at no point an extensive coverage. This pdf remedies that by going into the details - whether it's the mephit, oni, kami, aeon, qlippoth or manasaputra, the respective types can be considered not only to be thematically appropriate - they are also balanced against one another while maintaining distinct thematic identities. This devotion to customization also extends to the aberration-themed eidolons - from lurking rays and gibberers to mutants and aliens, these feel different enough from the previous ones to really make you salivate. Animal-themed eidolons, from elemental-infused animals to shadow beings and constrcuted ones, from golem and animated objects and robots to draconic eidolons, this pdf covers a huge and extensive breadth of options...and yes, the latter does sport dragonoids, imperial dragons, primal dragons. Fey sport a broader categorization between beautiful, fearsome and trickster-themes, while taking a giant eidolon, one molded after dark folk or trolls, bandersnatch-themed ones or ones shaped after hydras also becomes well within the realm of possibility with these.


The classic ooze-commander also is covered in various ways and includeds puddings, gelatinous eidolons or even fledgling shoggoths, while Thriae and Doppelgängers wait in the wings only a few pages away. Beyond those gaining plant-based fungoid eidolons (creepy!) or making them from the dismembered dead, i.e. the creepy life-death-axis, is covered as well. Via base form, alignment and generally well-placed ability progressions that oscillate between evolution pool-modifications and a metric ton of unique options, the balance of the respective forms, surprisingly for a book of this size, works rather impressively well, with type skill-list and similar general rules providing additional means for control, and, if required in a given setting, GM-adjustments.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant or glaring hiccups herein - apart from one: The kyton subtype is missing the 8th level ability - credit where credit is due: While I did go through the whole book looking for missing abilities etc., it was Eric Hinkle who first brought this one to my attention. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming's two-column full-color standard with a blend of classic and new full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Alexander Augunas and Carl Cramér joining forces has worked actually exceedingly well in this book: The complex concept, all about the balance of the mechanics, sports Alex's trademark care, while also featuring Carl's often slightly more expansive modification tricks. The balancing of these options is certainly smoother than those of the non-unchained summoner's eidolon ever were. This does have another achievement it can tout, though.


One that is more important, at least to me - by virtue of its extensive types and options, it redefines the notion of what an eidolon should be. Instead of a wobbly, fluid and strange being, this pdf offers a staggering array of thematic and rules-identities that can inspire the reader by virtue of their sheer presence. That Jack the Ripper style serial killer? Perhaps he is just collecting parts for his dismembered eidolon! Even in low magic or gritty (or very lighthearted) contexts that made eidolons feel a bit odd before, they can now work - they are embedded in the respective world rather than an odd class-feature-afterthought, making the very notion of having such an eidolon infinitely more compelling, at least for me.


Beyond the sheer expansion of option, this book reevaluates the identity of the eidolon and presents a thoroughly compelling take on the subject matter with flair and panache, while also retaining a sense of the DIY-aspect that proved to be one of the most compelling components of the original class. In other words - this is pretty much the best summoner book I know of for PFRPG, a must-own book. How good? Well, my players were pretty disillusioned with the unchained summoner's restrictiveness. Since I presented this book, they actually want to play the class. I know that I could have gone into the nit and grit of the respective types - but ultimately, I think that would have done this pdf no justice. unlike the previous class-focused Everyman Unchained-books, this one simply is no "pick yours, forget rest"-offering that happens to contain your archetype, now working for PFU.


This should be considered to be the most concise eidolon-toolkit written for PFRPG so far...and frankly, this book is an excellent reason to rebuild your classic summoner with the unchained rules. With excellence like that, who would I be to complain about this book? My final verdict clocks in at a well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Unchained: Eidolons
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Starfall
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2016 11:08:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review


Okay, this plug-in for Iron Gods...wait. Scratch that. This is basically no plug-in, it's a damn huge expansion. Starfall clocks in at 76 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 69 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This module is intended for 13th level characters, who should, in the process of this module, gain about 1.5 levels worth of XP. The pdf provides two technological items, the photon pistol (with stun and kill-settings) and the radiation suit and sports, creature-wise, the toadhemoth, which would be a CR 14 variant of the froghemoth. A mythic creature, the Qomok, first featured in Mythic Monsters: Aliens is also featured in this module with its full and deadly stats. The numerous maps in full color are also featured in player-friendly versions that lack tell-tale keys and legends, which is great indeed to so.


So, that's basically the gist of the basics - in order to go into more detail, I will have to, obviously, go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion to avoid having their experience soured.


...


..


.


All right, only GMs still around? Excellent! The adventure begins inconspicuous enough when the PCs happen upon Kreth, who hails them in order to ask for their assistance: His tribe, the Shadow Crow nomads, have fallen victim to raiding giants that came upon them with a strange, crab-like entity. The expedition to reclaim the kidnapped individuals has, alas, been a total failure and resulted in the deaths of many capable members of the tribe - and this is where the PCs come in, as they track the brutes, deal with a behir in the wings and stumble upon a lethal ambush-site, where the crab-thing has prepared an ambush most lethal, for it is no mind-less brute, but actually one of the dreaded neh-thalggu. The fight is on...and then, something unprecedented happens - a strange silvery egg appears...and the brain collector seems to actually be terrified of it!


The weird apparatus emits a massive blast that paralyzes those hit and then proceeds to accelerate the PCs and the neh-thalggu into orbit, protecting them from the deadly journey...and then the fight ostensibly resumes encased by strange glass walls, as the residents of Ardent Hope observe the strange savages (the PCs) fighting. The Dzjaeri, pale, live-skinned humanoids observe this curious result of the malfunctioning AI within the strange silvery egg. After hostilities are resolved, the strange observes open communications, informing the PCs of the need to sterilize them before flooding the chamber with a strange, sickening hazard before opening the secured arrival rooms...and beginning negotiations. One of the Dzjaeri apologies for the inconvenience imposed upon the PCs (though they are held at gun-point for now) and explains their situation: It seems like the probe that brought the PCs to the Ardent Hope has been destroyed...which sees them stranded in orbit. Yay.


Things are even better - you see, the Ardent Hope is basically toast at this point: The Dzjaeri can't colonize and move down to Golarion since a bacterium that exists there triggers lethal brain aneurysms in their kind - and the neh-thalggu's collected brains seem to offer a means or at least a lead on how to fix this issue...for it's only a matter of time before the ship ceases to function. A previous malfunction has already compromised the Terrestial Enclosure and tainted it with the bacterium and, what's worse, neh-thalggus have actually escaped. 8 of them. The reactor has went offline as well and the air and nutrient processors went offline with it. Thousands of their people, still in cryogenic sleep, await a grim end indeed.


The deal offered by the Dzjaeri Jathis is simple: Eliminate the escaped neh-thalggus, secure the brains and reactivate the failed systems and he'll awaken an engineer and have him prepare an escape pod for the PCs. Sounds like a cake-walk, right? Well...no. The Ardent Hope, depicted in lavish detail, has visited quite a few worlds before it started to fall apart to this extent and thus, the terrestal enclave now houses some rather interesting creatures, like aforementioned toadhemoth, lethal flora or plant-elk herds. Aurumvoraxes and lukwatas complement the trip through jungles most alien and the hidden control room now sports an assortment of the dreaded brain-collectors.


Interesting, btw. - repairing the service lift etc. - all of that is not the finale. Not even close to it. A) The PCs won't find the neh-thalggu...at least not all of them. B) the qomok I mentioned before? Well. Now awake. And suddenly the timer starts ticking, mercilessly towards extinction, as the stardrive's self-destruct sequence has been initiated. You know, the drive that keep the huge asteroid-space-station afloat in orbit? Yes, this is a problem - a huge one. Worse yet, the countdown means that the PCs, from now on, must hurry - and the cat-and-mouse game has now been extended to also including a transdimensonal entity that basically is a take on Carpenter's "Thing" or dead Space's dread Necromorphs - the entity tries to assimilate basically anything it can get in its dread clutches. It is powerful (mythic even). It's smart and deadly - but for now, the PCs will have to brave hull breaches and tackle varied technologies in order to prevent the Ardent Hope from plunging drive-less into Golarion.


Whether you integrate the qomok hunt (and their gambit to make landfall and spread on Golarion...) into this frantic series of events or restructure it to do the action first and then the bug hunt, the module does accommodate for that. Speaking of which: Realize how my own review so far assumes, at least to some extent, cooperation with the Dzjaeri? Well, while this may be the default assumption of the module, it is by far not the only playstyle covered. My own players are far too mistrusting (and have, imho correctly, deduced that the Dzjaeri may well pose a threat to Golarion in the long run...brains and stuff...) and promptly turned upon them. The interesting component here may well be that a couple of unique robots and stats for the NPCs, security nodes etc. can also make this module work as a free for all, though this playstyle requires a slightly more experienced GM. Why does this work? Well, because the Ardent Hope actually sports A LOT of material regarding its environments, unique challenges and hazards and entities . you are not reduced to following the proposed script here, though this still feels very much like a story-driven module.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grating accumulations of glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous artworks in full color, all of which are excellent, though fans of LG may know some of them from previous publications. The cartography is extensive and neat in its attention to detail, though not as impressive as the artwork. Still - the player-friendly maps are a huge boon and make for neat handouts!


What happens when Tom Philips and Mike Welham join forces? Awesome, that's what. Starfall is a massive module with potentially apocalyptic consequences, should the PCs fail. While the beginning is a classic, lackluster-looking bait-and-switch, that is by design and interesting. The new race/culture depicted herein is equal parts interesting and disturbing and would make for a great cast of allies...or villains. The use of the powerful entities, the switching of tempos from exploration to frantic hustling for one's life and the different themes evoked throughout the module nonetheless coalesce into a concise whole that makes for a long, fun module that not only works within Iron Gods, but makes for a pretty seamless insertion into most campaigns - though, obviously, characters even halfway capable regarding technology should be assumed. Then again, PCs that do not try to eradicate the Dzjaeri always have these guys to fall back on, which means that not even this is a requirement.


All in all, this module is fun, diverse, has some unique challenges and plenty of potential to be customized for various vastly diverging playstyles. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starfall
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Royal Class
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2016 11:06:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This class-supplement clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


Wait, before we do, let's make one thing perfectly clear: This class was specifically designed with kids and new players in mind, which means that it won't have the astounding customization depth of e.g. one of the offerings of Bradley Crouch or Alexander Augunas - it's intended to work as a simple option and thus, I won't fault it for its design, though I will comment on it if I should deem it appropriate.


The royal base class as presented herein gets d8 HD, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, 6+Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as with light and medium armor and shields, but, as almost always, not with tower shields. Royals spontaneously cast divine spells of up to 6th level drawn from the cleric's spell-list via Charisma as the governing attribute and do not require a divine focus to do so. Their spells are modified at 1st level with a crucial choice - of whether to be a blessed or cursed royal. Blessed royals add cure spells to their list of spells known, whereas cursed royals instead add the inflict spells. Additionally, and this is perhaps one of the most interesting features of this divide, blessed royals can cast good spells sans being good and cursed royals can cast evil spells - both without any repercussions to their alignment. You could e.g. pit an evil spells-casting cursed LG royal against a healing, despicable blessed oracle. This has some nice narrative potential.


Blessed oracles gain the Disney-Snow-White version of wild empathy and can influence non-carnivores or predators, while cursed royals can instead influence vermin and predatory animals and both may use the ability to influence magical beasts of alignments corresponding to their destiny (cursed or blessed) at a -4 penalty. They also gain channel energy at second level, increasing potency every even level thereafter, with the type of channel being, obviously, determined by the blessed or cursed destiny.


2nd level makes it easy to recognize the royal as a royal and nets the character +1/2 class level to Diplomacy and Intimidate and they treat settlements of primarily their type as +1 size for purposes of items etc. available. At 11th level, the class becomes immune to fear and at 17th, this immunity becomes an aura that extends to 10 ft. - interesting: As a standard action, the royal can extend this aura to 60 ft.


If the above did look as though there was something missing from the chassis of the class, you'd be right: The destiny chosen, whether it's cursed or blessed, directly influences the royal and provides a somewhat order-like linear structure of abilities. For advanced kids and players or for those looking for more customization, the pdf does offer a suggestion for royals that get choices, which is a nice touch. The abilities thus gained are generally categorized as boons, with the blessed royal gaining the ability to support nearby allies with scaling bonuses to atk, AC, saves or skill checks, with higher levels allowing the royal to affect more allies and at greater range. 3rd level nets them +Cha-mod to Ref-saves, 9th a better starting attitude and faster Diplomacy and at 19th level, they can charm monster permanently those who are friendly to them...oh, I can see that being a chassis for a nasty villain...


Cursed villains may instead inflict penalties on adversaries, gain Cha-mod to Fort-saves, gain a fast Intimidate and count as larger for purposes of size and when they demoralize does at 19th level, the creature forevermore must save to avoid being shaken by his presence.


The pdf offers a couple of archetypes - the befriended replaces channel energy with an animal companion, using her royal level as her druid level, with the usual abilities gained at generally sensible levels. The Commander can expend move actions to grant himself bonuses to atk, AC and saves, with the bonus scaling and may grant this benefit to allies at higher levels, with 13th decreasing the activation action to swift...at least that's what he gains if blessed. As a cursed royal, he gains the debuff equivalent. Additionally, they may elect to gain combat or teamwork feats instead of increasing their channel energy dice. Basically, this is a more martially competent character of a more tactician-y bent. The educated royal uses Int instead of Cha for casting and save DCs, gains 1/2 class level to Knowledge-checks instead of wild empathy and gains Int-mod to saves versus the extraordinary abilities of monsters correctly identified. 9th level provides the option to take 10 on Int-based skill-checks the royal has ranks in as well as 1/day take 20 as a standard action. 19th level provides eidetic memory via vision...sans fatigue.


The gifted royal replaces bonus spells from destiny with a bound object, gains Craft Wondrous Item at 2nd level (and 1/2 class level to Craft checks), with the royals gaining less costly crafting, while cursed royals can add curses to magic items crafted - instead of the linear progression of less costly crafting, the cursed royal gets something I actually haven't seen before - an array of curse-themed abilities that allow them to actually craft and employ the less expensive cursed items in pretty unique ways, allowing a crafty group to work around the significantly less expensive cursed items.


The pdf also sports alternate destinies that do not fall into the good-blessed/evil-cursed dichotomy, though these alternate destinies do affect more than boons - they can basically be thought of as archetypes blended with destinies. Arcane royals obviously lose a bit on the proficiency-side, but they can cast spells in light armor sans incurring spell failure. Spell failure? Yep, they draw their spells from the sorc/wiz-list instead, with a select array of spells added depending on whether she is blessed or cursed. They also get +4 to saves against arcane spells at 11th level and extend this an aura as per the defaults of the base destinies. Boon-wise, they may, as an immediate action, reroll saves versus spells up to Cha-mod times per day, auto-identifies (!!!) spells at 9th level and may at 19th level, add metamagic feats to her spells sans increasing casting time and gets permanent greater arcane sight as an Ex. In play, this guy behaves pretty much like a magus-y-character with healing capacity and better spell selection.


The bewitched alternate destiny would be a twist on this, instead opting for the witch spell-list, once again modified bonus spells and later level immunity to charm spells and effects, with the aura, once again, extending this to allies. Similarly, the royal gains bonuses versus effects associated with witchcraft -curses and polymorph. 9th level provides a single hex, 19th a single major hex. I am a bit less impressed by this one - honestly, I think that more hexes would have made this one a bit more distinct - but this is just my own opinion and thus will not influence the final verdict.


The Elemental royal gets 4 suits of spells, depending on element chosen...and they should get a means to avoid toasting allies, for their channel energy instead channels elemental energy, which can wipe groups sans means to exclude targets. They get empathy with creatures of the corresponding elemental subtype and elemental immunity at higher levels that can be expanded with the aura. Boon-wise, stacking resistance, increased movement and calling forth elementals complement this one. The final alternate destiny would be faerie, which draws upon the druid spell list, with the high-level immunities being granted against spells and abilities of fey or that use plants and similarly, the boons provide bonuses to enchantment and illusion-saves, polymorph and finally, the class may inflict the blessed or cursed ability permanently - but for as long as this persists, the ability is locked for the royal...so choose wisely!


To help new players, the final page is devoted to a sample feat and spell array for blessed and cursed royals, ranging from level 1 - 20: Kudos for this!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good - apart from one copy-paste remnant that read oracle instead of royal, I noticed no glitches. Layout is beautiful - with page borders and the space above and below in purple and gold, the pdf has a unique aesthetic identity that works well with the theme, one supplemented by the child-friendly illustrations in full color. The downside of this beauty, however, is that this drains quite a bit of ink/toner with its golden-purple boxes. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Stephen Rowe's royal class is interesting - on the one hand, the base set-up for the class is very beginner-friendly and accomplishes its goal rather well. So kudos for that!


On the second glance, the more complex alternate destinies are interesting and juggle some complex and rarely seen options - particularly the curse-item-crafting of the gifted archetype is rather ingenious and something almost never seen in mechanics, so kudos for that! Is this class something for you? Well, as a whole, I can attest that it does work rather well and in a generally balanced manner. Some caveats: If you're playing a fey-heavy campaign, the faerie's destiny becomes pretty OP and can wreck havoc with that. This is a situational issue, though, and does not necessarily apply to all campaigns.


Similarly, if you have expected Ultimate Campaign-support or kingdom-building tricks, you'll be left out. The royal as presented herein is basically a take on the Prince Charming/Belle-style royal sans the burdens of lordship and its boons. So yes, this does manage to capture this component. Granted, the class does bill itself as the royal as featured in fairy tales - basically, as the heir apparent and not as a simulation of how royalty would work in a more realistic context, but I still think it to be rather necessary to emphasize this. Why? Because the class very much feels like a royal...and doesn't. Reviewing this class pretty much felt weird to me: I consider this a perfect match for the royal - that royal we know from the Disney movies; at the same time, the class, to me, does not feel like a royal, since, with one ability as an exception, it does not really draw on royal tropes - lands; status; regalia; increased starting money; monthly gold-influx...if these things are what you're looking for...then you won't find them herein.


Okay, but how to rate this? The royal class itself is interesting, easy to grasp and not too hard to use...but frankly, I wished it had focused a bit more on doing something novel, even within the fairy-tale-royal context. Where is the beast form (as in Beauty and the Beast) for the cursed royal? The ability to break curses via kisses? Personally, I would have loved to see the class embrace the clichés we all grew up with, go full-blown into the tropes instead of using the channel mechanic. That being said, while the class does not hit this component at maximum efficiency, it still is a nice class that makes for a great offering for new players, with some unique and fun modifications for more seasoned players. Ultimately, I consider this a worthwhile addition to the class roster and well worth of a final verdict of 4 stars, with an explicit recommendation for groups looking for an "easy" class to use by less experienced players.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Royal Class
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Mythic Monsters #35: Demons Too
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2016 05:53:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This time around, we begin this installment with a nice piece of introductory prose before diving right into the creatures, the first of which would be the CR 4/MR 1 Abrikandilu, whose theme of vanity/destruction has been amplified to being able to twist reflections of targets and mutilate those hapless creatures seeking to do battle with this spawn of the abyss - great low CR/MR-demon!


The CR 6/MR 2 Brimorak's smoke breath can now choke its victims and its general modifications are solid as well - particularly since its smoke vision means that it is not hampered by its own tricks. At CR 3/MR 1, the mythic iteration of the cambion gets sinfrenzy - with each deadly sin aligned with a class, granting appropriate bonuses. Similarly, the sin-theme extends to a trick that lets the cambion destabilize persons and make their ID run rampant. This take on the cambion is absolutely superb and fun - two thumbs up!! Similarly cool at the same CR/MR: dretches now can instill sloth in creatures and may use miserable pity/unadulterated loathing - once again, great way to upgrade classics!


The mythic coloxus at CR 15/MR 6 gets a death attack, a Cha-drain-causing bite, can mesmerize targets with his drone and perform a particularly powerful possession -and yes, this is a great, flavorful upgrade. The CR 12/MR 5 Derakni may only get one new ability, but that one is awesome - a detachable vescavor swarm aura! Yes, damn cool! The CR 23/MR 9 Gallu increase teamwork feat efficiency for demons and provide bonuses...and their total statblock + abilities cover 2 pages. With [good] and[lawful]-inhibiting aura, mythic power-based resurrection of demonic allies and storms of blood and eruptions of wounds, these commanders of the abyss are fearsome beasts to behold!


The disgusting Gibrileth can enhance SPs to become mythic and generate tumor familiars and make them die for himself...and use them as clones. Oh, and acidic flesh-eating tumors. EW. (And I mean that as a true compliment!) The Kithangian clocks in at CR 11/MR 4 and is glorious - with adamantine chitin and touch-based tongue-attacks that draw forth the target's bestial impulses, this is, once again, a great upgrade for the base creature. (FYI: Combat-capabilities are enhanced as well, thanks to two mythic feats reprinted here - Crippling Grip and Savage Grip.)


The CR 5/MR 2 Schir can steal style or teamwork feats, causes healing-resistant wound and moves unimpeded through difficult terrain, upgrading the pretty soulless base creature into a cool and valid threat. At CR 18/MR 7, the Seraptis draws healing from bleeding damage, has a powerful means of controlling foes and a gaze attack that instills suicidal urges...and yes, while here we have more of an upgrade instead of a reinvention, it is a feasible and cool upgrade. The CR 20/MR 8 iteration of the mythic shemhazian, on the other hand, is finally more than just a shredder - with an apex predator's power, retribution for critical hits (take that, crit-fisher builds!) and the option to mirror rages and similar effects, this demon now finally has a proper, unique identity. And yes, the brutal melee capacity of the beast has been enhanced as well Two thumbs up!


The pdf, of course, also features a new demon: The CR 9/MR 3 Skrekalga, which looks a bit like a mutated aardvark-humanoid/osyluth hybrid with a stinger-like protusion instead of a mouth -I'm not sure whether I consider these demons goofy or disturbing - but focus and puckered fingers probably will make the latter - for these creature fuel the darkest of obsessions with their auras, contagious compulsions and the option to telepathically instill seeds of darkest desires. These demons can conceivably turn nations against one another and are, ultimately, disturbing and dangerous foes and a welcome addition to the roster of the abyssal hordes.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games two-column full color standard. The original of full color art provided are high-quality and awesome, though fans of Legendary Games will know quite a few of them from previous publications. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Jason Nelson, Alistair Rigg, Steven T. Helt, Todd Stewart, Jim Groves, Nicolas Logue - these gentlemen have crafted a selection of demons that mops the floor with its predecessor - which, back what seems like ages ago, was the first Mythic Monsters-selection. Particularly in the instances where bland, identity-less cannon-fodder or simple "I kill you"-creatures have been taken and made into something unique and evocative, this pdf shines. A lot of the mythic demons herein lend sorely needed identities and unique tricks to the creatures, making them worthy of scorn and hatred...and making them feel more demonic. These are not kind "I kill you"-demons - these guys feel more like the darkness of the Warhammer universe, like things you should FEAR. I LOVE this pdf for that!


There is another reason I love this pdf: The collective theme and style of the demons herein - it may be coincidence or intention...but know what this pdf is? It's the "Make WotR not suck anymore"-toolkit. Take this and Path of Villains and bolster the sorely outclassed demonic hordes of the worldwound and actually make the PCs struggle. Seriously...any WotR-GM should consider this a must-buy book.


How to rate this? Well, while I wasn't too impressed by the introductory fiction this time around, that is more than made up for by the sheer awesomeness of practically all builds in this book. 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters #35: Demons Too
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I Loot the Cleric's Body System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2016 05:51:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Raging Swan Press' "I Loot the Body"-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This installment of the I loot the body-series begins with a 100-entry strong table of diverse outfits for clerics: From unusually large powdered wigs to strange brimmed hats, undershirts embroidered to look like ribs and bones (hey, I have one of those!) to thick cloaks of wool covered in angelic feathers and pauldrons denoting church hierarchy - there is an appropriately varied selection of unique vestments here.


The second table, also 100-entry-strong, covers religious objects - and these are just as varied: Clay prayer beads stained with blood, curved knives and jars of leeches, wooden hand drums with painted stars on them, carved knucklebones or fingernails torn from heretics and servants of other deities - no matter the clergy, there is something in here for your clerics.


Finally, as has become the tradition for ILB-files detailing spellcasters, we get a 100-entry-long table of pouch components - and here, the pdf becomes rather creative - scribbled warnings to not trust the owls, sketchbooks containing drawings of locals, leather stripes with defiled holy symbols, copper cases with wax impressions that are shaped like a key - in the tradition of the best of these dressing-files, the entries in this table can inspire further adventures...why did the cleric carry around 3 glass eyeballs?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, as we've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to the crisp and printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It should also be noted that the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use - kudos for the extra-mile there!


Taylor Hubler's take on looting clerics is a fun, diverse little file, with a significant diversity of unique fun tables - and none of them becoming redundant or boring. While not yet on par with e.g. Mike Welham's brilliance, the pdf still can be considered an excellent entry in the series, which means I will arrive at a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Cleric's Body System Neutral Edition
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I Loot the Cleric's Body
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2016 05:50:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Raging Swan Press' "I Loot the Body"-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This installment of the I loot the body-series begins with a 100-entry strong table of diverse outfits for clerics: From unusually large powdered wigs to strange brimmed hats, undershirts embroidered to look like ribs and bones (hey, I have one of those!) to thick cloaks of wool covered in angelic feathers and pauldrons denoting church hierarchy - there is an appropriately varied selection of unique vestments here.


The second table, also 100-entry-strong, covers religious objects - and these are just as varied: Clay prayer beads stained with blood, curved knives and jars of leeches, wooden hand drums with painted stars on them, carved knucklebones or fingernails torn from heretics and servants of other deities - no matter the clergy, there is something in here for your clerics.


Finally, as has become the tradition for ILB-files detailing spellcasters, we get a 100-entry-long table of pouch components - and here, the pdf becomes rather creative - scribbled warnings to not trust the owls, sketchbooks containing drawings of locals, leather stripes with defiled holy symbols, copper cases with wax impressions that are shaped like a key - in the tradition of the best of these dressing-files, the entries in this table can inspire further adventures...why did the cleric carry around 3 glass eyeballs?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, as we've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to the crisp and printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It should also be noted that the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use - kudos for the extra-mile there!


Taylor Hubler's take on looting clerics is a fun, diverse little file, with a significant diversity of unique fun tables - and none of them becoming redundant or boring. While not yet on par with e.g. Mike Welham's brilliance, the pdf still can be considered an excellent entry in the series, which means I will arrive at a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Cleric's Body
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Astonishing Races: Dog-Faced Kobold
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2016 03:52:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second installment of the Astonishing Races-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving su with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!


As in the installment on gripplis, we begin this supplement with an extensive amount of fluff that properly sets up the race - and yes, this basic set-up divorces kobolds from the dragon-angle, so if that is what you've been looking for, it's a nice alternative. Takes on alignment, nomenclature etc. are covered.


Racial stat-wise, dog-faced kobolds get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, are Small goblinoids witha base speed of 30 ft. and gain darkvision 60 ft., scent and the swarming ability, meaning that two can occupy the same square. They also get +1 to Stealth and Survival and may use said skills sans penalty while moving 20 ft. Overall, this makes them a pretty solid race on par with core and not a penalized issue like the default 5-RP-kobold. (though playing such a character has its charm!) Age, height and weight tables are included and do not deviate from those of the standard kobolds.


The pdf also includes a significant array of alternate racial traits for your perusal - hatred versus gnomes, Beast Trainer, a 1d3 bite (As a cosmetic complaint: This one's not noting damage type, but gets, and that's more important, primary/secondary classification right!), a rash-inducing skin, better initiative or tripping...some cool customizations here. Similarly, better darkvision at the cost of being automatically dazzled in bright light can be found. And no, I did not list all of those.


"Wait", you'll be asking, "where's the dog-faced aspect coming in?" Well, that would be via the racial heritages. These basically constitute alternate racial feature-packages: Golden Champions get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int and +1 to AC and Ref versus larger foes instead of swarming. Flat-faced kobolds get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int and +2 to select skill as well as Craft (traps) and Stealth as class skills instead of ambusher. Seaborne kobolds get Str and Wis +2, Int -2 and a reduced speed of 20 ft, but +1 Profession (Sailor) and 10 ft. swim speed instead of ambusher. The house kobold, finally, gets Dex and Int +2 and Wis -2 as well as proficiency with snare poles and nets instead of swarming. These packages universally are balanced, solid and I see no issues with them.


The pdf, as the first one, also contains a TON of favored class options: And unlike in most publications, you actually want to read them for more than the mechanical benefits, as they have some nice fluff that grounds the class in the context of the race. The favored class options, just fyi, are VERY extensive and cover the ACG and Occult Adventures classes as well as the classics. Mechanics-wise, there also are some uncommon choices: More channel damage to creatures caught sans Dex-mod, for example. Interesting and fitting. Slightly weird, though: The format is slightly inconsistent: Usually in these Astonishing Races-books, you get the flavor in plain text, the mechanical benefits in italics. The bard lacks the italicization and Shaman and Slayer lack the flavor-text, which is something that should probably have been caught - their absence is apparent at a single glance, the rules-text there, obviously, not italicized. I'm not complaining hard here, mind you - just stating that this inconsistency wasn't necessary.


The pdf also provides racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Guerrilla Leader (Brawler), who gets proficiency with simple weapons and thrown weapon fighter group weapons and light armors. They may use Brawler's Flurry with spears and thrown weapons, but not monk weapons or those from the close group. This ability does NOT grant Quick Draw (erroneously called "Quickdraw" here), which means that, for full functionality, we have a feat tax in the ability. It should be noted that pretty much all follow-up abilities of the archetype build on the concept of swarming, so that racial trait is locked in as well. The unique shtick of the archetype, just fyi, is entering the space of a creature as a quasi-combat maneuver, thus causing both the brawler and the creature to receive the entangled condition. Later, they can drag allies into the same space, which is pretty funny in my mind. This is kinda cool in theory, but in practice less useful, considering the archetype pay for the scaling improvement with maneuver training and the awesome blow abilities. Additionally, it leaves me with the question whether e.g. single-target effects that move one target in the square now move all three or not - since moving through squares occupied by hostiles is problematic. Basically, this is a cool idea, but needs some clarification - as written, it is a can of worms waiting to be opened. Using martial flexibility for teamwork feats is interesting, though.


The second archetype, the trapster rogue, is, you guessed it, a trap specialist - relatively nice: The archetype has a couple of rogue talents with which he can steal portable traps and even add the effects of select rogue talents to traps and add additional triggers. Not bad, but neither too novel - and some sample weights for traps that are carried around would have been useful for the GM.


The pdf also sports a selection of mundane items - from bird netting and feed to territory markers in 2 variants, trapped cages and whistle traps, the selection here is solid.


The pdf also sports 5 racial feats: Expert Trainer allows for the quicker training of animals (and is named like a Paizo feat that does something completely different), False Trail lets you put down, you guessed it, a false trail. Hidden Ambusher is a sniping feat for moving from concealment to concealment, while Swarming Expert and Swarming Sacrifice provide means to exempt kobolds from AoOs of foes and 1/day force a foe to roll twice, take the lower result and hit your ally. The feats range from useful to should have been a feat-use to, in the latter case, should scale regarding daily uses - 1/day reroll when having a kobold share a square with you may be cool...but on its own, it's not worth a feat.


The pdf also sports 4 magic items: Scepters of Subject Summoning allow you to whisper into them to have minions, cohorts or followers hear your message. Pricey, but an item that, due to lack of range limitations, can be very useful...or at least flavorful for the villain. Incense of Creature Location lets you determine the distance and direction of creatures or subtypes. Swarm Collars net animal companions the swarming ability and allow them and their master to be considered flanking when attacking the same foe from the same square. Wild Growth Grit can make difficult terrain...or even impassable terrain; it can also be thrown to ineffectively entangle targets. As a nitpick: Imho there should be a work-intense way of clearing impassable terrain - I can't see overgrowth withstanding a meteor swarm and retaining its impassable nature...then again, at 10 K and with only 10 applications, this is a costly means of delaying pursuers and one mostly appropriate for campaigns with a somewhat fairy tale style bent.


The pdf closes with a massive dressing table of 50 random dog-faced kobold features: From loving the moon and sometimes howling at it to considering oneself to be a miniature worg, hiding from everyone...or worshiping the squirrel lord, this table had me smile, drips with humor and roleplaying potential and ends the pdf on a high note.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - there are some hiccups among the finer rules-interactions and, as mentioned above, some minor formatting inconsistencies and typos - not much, mind you. But they can be found. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard for this series and the pdf comes with bookmarks. Artworks are nice and full color, as we've come to expect from master Hershey's company.


Taylor Hubler's dog-faced kobolds are a nice alternative for the default kobold-PC-race: While generally, one could conceivably blend the two and not lose too much, it's nice to see a 10+ RP variant of the kobold. The alternate racial traits are varied and fun and the subtypes similarly make sense, with none being overpowering -the base race material herein is suitable for even low fantasy campaigns - which is a good thing in my book. As in the first Astonishing Race-pdf I reviewed, I was positively surprised by the favored class options in this book.


A more mixed bag would be the archetypes and feats - both vary in potency a bit and while I like the swarming-trick as such, it also opens up a couple of issues in the math and rules-interactions: Special size modifiers, really big foes, interaction with movement forcing effects...While these instances are rare and the rules that are here are concise, I still consider that component problematic. On a plus-side, the alchemical and mundane items are flavorful and the dressing table at the end is gold.


How to rate this, then? That depends - if you're in it for the feats and archetypes, you probably will be a bit disappointed. Similarly, if you wanted a more thorough emphasis on the dog-aspect or more variety there, you may end up wanting more diverse heritages and/or more "doggy" traits and tricks. This pdf will also not blow you away with crunch innovation...but that isn't its goal in the first place.


If you were looking for a balanced take on the kobold on par with core races and a slightly different, generic, yet sufficiently distinct fluff that still feels "koboldy", then this may well be for you. All in all, I can see purchasers either considering this a 3 star or 4 star-file, depending on what they're looking for and how one weighs components. Since I really can't decide, I will settle on a verdict in the middle - 3.5 stars...and will round up due to my policy of in dubio pro reo. I can see people enjoying this book and considering it good, even though, personally, the crunch didn't blow me away.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Races: Dog-Faced Kobold
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Playable Monsters for 5th Edition
Publisher: Quasar Knight Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/08/2016 03:51:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The 5e-version of Quasar Knight Enterprises' take on playable monsters clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page of artist contacts, 1 page of writer info, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, after some general discussions on how to handle monstrous PCs and parties, we dive pretty much straight into the respective races, which cover a brief physical description, some minor information on society, relations with other races and alignment/religion preferences as well as how the race interacts with adventurers before diving into the respective racial traits - on a nitpicky formatting side, the pdf does not feature the full-stops at the end of the respective headers and here and there, a colon has snuck in, courtesy of the original PFRPG-version of the file. Similarly, it's Ability Score Increases, not the singular. HOWEVER, before you dismiss this - the monster races presented herein, in other regards, very much exhibit adherence to D&D 5e's formatting standards - from switches between "The insert race name" to "you", the general transition works pretty well. Similarly, the races generally sport rather balanced attribute increase dispersal. Similarly, Speed ratings and other rules-language tends to be rather solid. As something that annoyed me, though, I should mention that the pdf fails to provide weights for the respective races.


The races provided in this pdf are the boggards, centaurs, chokers, dark folk, derro, doppelganger, dryad, true giants, gnolls, harpies, lizardfolk, medusae, naga, pixies, sahuagins and vampires. Now, one thing I feel obliged to mention is the following: I gave the PFRPG-version of this pdf a thorough thrashing since it fails in many, many regards. The 5e-version of this book, in contrast, is significantly more refined - perhaps it's due to the relative simplicity of the rules in direct comparison, but generally, the races come off as rather balanced: Boggards, for example, are superb jumpers and swimmers, gaining advantage on both uses of Strength (Athletics) checks...though oddly, the Natural Jumper trait is listed twice. Still, that would generally constitute a massive improvement. Similarly, in contrast t PFRPG, there is, as of yet, no assumption of favored class options or alternate racial traits and similar supplemental material, making the bare-bones approach herein easier to stomach - still, if you expect extended pieces of flavor like in the PHB for the races, you'll probably be disappointed by the relatively brief depiction herein.


On the downside, though, e.g. sometimes spells are not properly italicized, though SPs at least mention the governing spellcasting attribute and gaining of racial abilities at later levels is pretty smoothly handled as a whole. On the downside, there are some instances when ability formatting could be clearer - when e.g. an ability nets you advantage on the bonus attack while two-weapon fighting, mentioning that it requires your intent to do so before mentioning that it recharges on a rest would have made it a tad bit clearer - though, this time around, I'm admittedly nitpicking. Not nitpicking would be the missing DC of a dark folk subrace's curse. And yes, there are a few, though not many, races herein that sport subraces. Somewhat odd - derro as a new dwarven subrace get a bonus action to attack with a net when fighting with a short sword and net...does that stack with two weapon fighting? No idea.


On both a plus-side and point of minor criticism - harpies no longer have an OP 1st level fly speed, instead gaining the option to glide, with 7th level providing proper flight. While the flight is magical in nature (and thus problematic), it can be envisioned as a jury-rig. Not complaining, mind you - just observing. That being said, I'm not a big fan of inventing a glide speed.


While overall, the races generally turn out to be relatively well-balanced, there are some examples that are slightly stronger than others...but there are some issues in the fine-print: E.g. a medusa's gaze of stone's damage lacks a damage type -which is a pity, for the ability is actually well-balanced in one smart way: The gaze only petrifies the target if it reduces the victim to incapacitated...which is pretty cool...but also takes a bit of the utility away. Why not simply go with a combined degrees of failure + multiple saves approach as the gazes of some creatures in the monster manual do? Also problematic - what about averting one's gaze? Gazes usually allow that option, though this one does not...which I get, but it basically turns the gaze into an ability that is a gaze in name only.


As a personal nitpick, neither centaur, nor naga tackle the ladder-conundrum - players and GMs will have to resolve that on their own. On a positive side, the vampire race herein is pretty playable and balanced, though its children of the night ability could use an action...still, both sunlight and running water weaknesses are pretty solidly depicted. On a downside - the write-up mentions a "resting place" - but no mechanics for it. Or for a weakness of being staked. It's basically the ultra-bare-bones approach to the subject matter. On a nitpicky part - vampire weaknesses already have established names in the Monster Manual - which interact with other rules...so I can't, for the life of me, find any valid reason why the vampires herein don't use that nomenclature as well. This is particularly odd, since one of the 4 feats herein is devoted to getting rid of just that (these racial feats btw. all lack prerequisite-lines). One feat grants you, among other benefits, the means to fluidly switch your domains...which is imho a bit much for a feat and will continue to grow in power the more domains are released. On the plus-side, see invisibility plus a cool ability that nets you advantage versus specific foes (elemental, fiends and fey, but strangely not celestials, for example) if you know their true names. The pdf sports two nice mundane items, one for breathing underwater and an item that temporarily helps versus light blindness, but oddly not sunlight sensitivity.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay; while there are several formatting glitches and minor deviations from the standard, for the most part, these do not cripple the pdf. Layout adheres to an okay 1-column full-color standard with a blend of full-color and b/w-artworks - they are okay, but nothing to write home about. The pdf, annoyingly, has no bookmarks, which renders navigation annoying.


Ray Chapel's second shot at the races herein fares better than the first; while the fluff-component of the racial depiction very much still follows the formatting of the PFRPG-version, the 5e-crunch ends up being better than the PFRPG version's crunch. Due to 5e's relative youth, there simply aren't that many alternative rules and the like to take into account and the balancing of the races generally feels more sound. Unfortunately, at the same time, this pdf does stumble quite a few times regarding the finer details of 5e's chassis with needless deviations from already existing abilities and similar hiccups. That being said, as a whole, this still remains pretty functional and should be considered an okay, if not mind-boggling purchase. If the concept strikes your fancy, you may get some mileage out of this, though sticklers for the details may be upset at some of the aesthetic glitches. Similarly, like in the PFRPG-version, if you expect racial fluff, compelling cultures or the like, you won't find that here. Still, in comparison to the original, this represents a significant step up. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Playable Monsters for 5th Edition
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