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5E Mini-Dungeon #071: The Unwise Young, They Say Do Ne'er Live Long
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:34:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Paladins can make mistakes. Uskonto the unshakeable manned up to causing the death of a child, venturing down into the Underworld, seeking atonement. The PCs follow the hero, and the trail leads to a complex that is a haven of sorts, but considering that we’re talking about the underworld, the waystation complex houses both neutral and evil designated areas and, provided the PCs don’t die to biting off more than what they can chew when dealing with the residents, they may well find the erstwhile paladin, who has become rather…different…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

If PCs attempt to kill their way through this one, they may probably die horribly. There are unique traps and strange allies and finding the target will not necessarily be the end. Surprising, how much Stephen Yeardley managed to cram into this brief module! And yes, the creature choices in the PFRPG-version are as creative as you expect them to be from Mr. Yeardley’s mini-dungeons, which presented some issues for the conversion team of Chris Harris and Kyle Crider. The solution is smart: The mini-dungeon does use a ton of creatures from Kobold Press’ fantastic Tome of Beasts, but unlike in previous mini-dungeons, this one does not include the relevant stats. They simply wouldn’t have fit on the card. In short: You absolutely need Tome of Beasts to make the most out of this, as e.g. the devilbound gnoll prince or the grim jester has not been hyperlinked; sans the book, you should detract 1 or 2 stars from the final verdict.

My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #071: The Unwise Young, They Say Do Ne'er Live Long
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Mini-Dungeon #071: The Unwise Young, They Say Do Ne'er Live Long
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:32:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Paladins can make mistakes. Uskonto the unshakeable manned up to causing the death of a child, venturing down into the Underworld, seeking atonement. The PCs follow the hero, and the trail leads to a complex that is a haven of sorts, but considering that we’re talking about the underworld, the waystation complex houses both neutral and evil designated areas and, provided the PCs don’t die to biting off more than what they can chew when dealing with the residents, they may well find the erstwhile paladin, who has become rather…different..

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

If PCs attempt to kill their way through this one, they may probably die horribly. There are unique traps and strange allies and finding the target will not necessarily be the end. Surprising, how much Stephen Yeardley managed to cram into this brief module! And yes, the creature choices are as creative as you expect them to be from Mr. Yeardley’s mini-dungeons! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #071: The Unwise Young, They Say Do Ne'er Live Long
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5E Mini-Dungeon #070: I Am Not Of Your Element
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:30:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

When a faultline had a wave of unearthly energy flow into the underworld, it decimated a fire giant monastery down to just a few devotees. Now, a traveling and injured fellow remains, almost having fallen prey to one of the horrid beings from beyond. You see, while in PFRPG, the module excelled via its strange nanite-creatures, the 5e-version takes a different theme and instead provides the stats for both shoggoth and the urochar (strangling watcher), substituting a strong dark tapestry-theme instead…and the module works just as strongly in this case!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Chris Harris’ conversion of Stephen Yeardley’s module retains the draw of the original – while, system-immanently, the system sports less monsters, the use of Tome of Beast critters (stats included) and the change of theme are smart decisions. My final verdict will thus also clock in at 4 stars for the 5e-version.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #070: I Am Not Of Your Element
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Mini-Dungeon #070: I Am Not Of Your Element
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:28:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

When a faultline had a wave of unearthly energy flow into the underworld, it decimated a fire giant monastery down to just a doombringer. Now, a travelling and injured shadowdancer awaits, as a massive swarm of gray goo seeks to change folks; it has animated a brass golem and a fire giant banshee-variant (stat-modifications provided) can be found. The place is one of wrecked glory, as a ghorazagh plans the final take-over of the place…and indeed, smart players may well contemplate at least a temporary alliance with the fire giant doombringer…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley’s take on a subterranean monastery haunted by a recent catastrophe is interesting, mainly due to the clever enemies employed. While I would have loved to see the terrain matter a bit more, this is a fun sidetrek. (Come on, nanite-infused lava!) My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #070: I Am Not Of Your Element
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5E Mini-Dungeon #069: The Broken River
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:26:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is, a helpful tool in the GM’s arsenal. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

How does a river break? Well, in this instance, easily, for its origin is not natural, but a set of decanters of endless water. While dangerous, the river must be recreated and erosion thwarted – as such, the PCs explore a pretty dangerous place, including weird critters and special ore that attracts magic…and the module actually also notes further adventuring options! This is pretty cool…however, less scrupulous PCs could abscond with the potent items, which can be problematic.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Colin Strickin’s little sidetrek is a fun adventure worth checking out. The premise is magical and interesting and the execution neat, with further adventuring baked into the module for the GM’s convenience. Nothing to complain here. The conversion by Chris Harris is solid. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #069: The Broken River
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Mini-Dungeon #069: The Broken River
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2018 04:25:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

How does a river break? Well, in this instance, easily, for its origin is not natural, but a set of decanters of endless water. While dangerous, the river must be recreated and erosion thwarted – as such, the PCs explore a pretty dangerous place, including weird critters and special ore that attracts magic…and the module actually also notes further adventuring options! This is pretty cool…however, less scrupulous PCs could abscond with the potent items, which can be problematic.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Colin Strickin’s little sidetrek is a fun adventure worth checking out. The premise is magical and interesting and the execution neat, with further adventuring baked into the module for the GM’s convenience. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #069: The Broken River
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Everyman Minis: Occultic Singularity Ritual
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2018 01:12:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 3.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, this pdf depicts a new occult ritual, if the title and cover were not enough indication. I know, captain Obvious-Endzy is obvious. The ritual presented here is the Macabre Pledge of Occultic Singularity, which clocks in at 5th level and has the compulsion and evil descriptors. The ritual has a 5 hour casting time and its components are amazing and manage to generate the appropriate flair: 18 black candles, infused with the ash of those sacrificed to the cult’s object of veneration; identical regalia for primary caster, secondary caster and target; a feast worth of food etc. – and an “alter” (should be “altar”) adorned with ebony, onyx and obsidian. Come on, you can picture that ceremony, right?

The ritual must be performed outdoors when the sun doesn’t shine. Each member of the secondary casters is designated a role in a hierarchy for the ritual, recognizing 4 different ranks. Unlike most rituals, this one acts as a party of sorts, requiring 10 secondary casters per skill bonus. It should also be noted that the hierarchy is not cosmetic – it determines who can contribute. The ritual includes an eerily wordless bacchanal of debauchery as candles are lit and the targets are painted with cultic symbols and signs. Those affected by the ritual, secondary casters and targets,a re bound to the primary caster, which makes scrying attempts reveal all members, but also a nasty backfire. Secondly, all non-primary or secondary casters are rendered helpful to the cult’s cause and ideology in a super-potent form of brainwashing that is really hard to cancel. The primary caster may use witness as a SP, with a massive range of 1 mile per caster level, targeting members of the ritual at will. This allows the primary caster to transfer bardic performance effects, spells of 4th level of lower with a range of touch, short, medium or long to the target as if adjacent to it. Worse, members that vanquish others in combat can dominate their victims. The ritual also has no less than 4 different means to enhance the ritual beyond the basics. Utterly, utterly creepy.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good; apart from the one type, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a nice full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Clinton Boomer delivers a super-creepy, amazing ritual here: the ritual itself has a strong Eyes Wide Shut-ish vibe and can be considered to be almost Lynchian in its visuals. The consequences of it are potent as well, adding a gloriously paranoia-inducing sense of omniscience to the proceedings. The conversion of targets just adds to the glorious conspiracy vibe this evokes. In short: The supplement can really make a cult that is “just another cult” stand out and become a force to be reckoned with – potentially changing the dynamics of whole cities and environments. In short: This is a glorious narrative tool and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Occultic Singularity Ritual
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Heroes of the Seven Principalities
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2018 01:09:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the neat Porphyran Player’s Guides clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 69 (!!) pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first of all, we begin with a well-written little piece of prose that introduces us to the Seven Principalities and life there – these 7 islands (+one below the waves) are a pretty unique environment and the roles assumed by the races within the respective contexts are explained in each of the racial write-ups, which also make up the first chapter of the book.

We begin with the Erkunae, traditionally one of my favorite Porphyran races. These near-humans are treated as humans for the purpose of abilities and the like and gain +2 Strength and Intelligence, -2 Constitution. They gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (nobility) as well as Knowledge (engineering) and (dungeoneering) as well as to Stealth while inside a building or construction of some sort. Additionally, they gain +1 to atk when facing down a single opponent, who must be armed with a weapon – so no bonuses versus monks and similar martial artists! This is interesting to me, but as a minor complaint, the bonuses have not been properly codified as racial. The erkunae are distinguished by their pacts with elder powers, 6 of which are provided to choose from. These duplicate a limited form of summon monster as a SP (not italicized properly) and allow for the calling of elementals, skeletons as well as calling forth a familiar or animal companion – to nitpick here, the ability should specify that the called creature uses character level to determine the potency of the respective companion. Also, the called companion/familiar should specify that it can’t be stacked on top of an already existing companion. So yeah, these two need a bit of clarification. The other pacts include getting a masterwork brineblade or using guidance via conch shells. I liked the latter 2, but they make it quite evident that the companion/familiar summon should be nerfed. Erkunae are obsessed with blades and inflict -1 damage with piercing and bludgeoning weapons, but get proficiency with all slashing weapons – I assume this includes weapons capable of dealing more than one damage type. There are three race traits (erroneously called “Racial traits”, which can be confusing at first – that’s something else! Annoyingly, this guffaw extends to the other races as well.) that are interesting – for example, there is one that nets a 1 in 6 chance of having the first two rounds of rage or bloodrage a day as free! Cool! That being said, the traits don’t use the proper bonus type.

Humans in the 7 principalities get 6 additional choices to choose from, each one representing a different focus – here, bonus types are tight and I found no issues. Kudos! The three race traits provided are solid, though we once more lack the proper bonus type. Now the next race is interesting: We are introduced to the Kanseeran, the crabfolk! Yes, crabfolk! They are medium creatures with a slow speed and a swim speed of 20 ft., are amphibious and get +2 Str, +4 Con, -2 Cha and Int. This makes them lopsidedly geared towards martial pursuits and the high Constitution score bonus makes them a bit more min-maxy in that regard than what I personally enjoy. They are amphibious and get a +2 natural AC. They have darkvision and the dwarf subtype and get two pincer claws that inflict 1d4 damage that is treated as all three physical damage types. These claws net them a +4 racial bonus versus disarm attempts when wielding two-handed weapons, but also prevent them from using light or one-handed melee weapons. The claws are not codified as primary or secondary natural weapons and its somewhat hard to default here, considering that they share characteristics with bites. Anyway, they get a +2 dodge bonus versus sahratan natural attacks and +4 racial bonus to saves versus their lure ability. They also get +2 to Appraise and Profession, which is oddly not typed, but oh well. They can charge sideways, providing a +1 racial bonus to atk and damage when charging. The traits are nice, but lack the type once more. As an aside: The race gets one frickin’ AMAZING full-color artwork!

The lizardfolk of the principalities get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, are reptilian humanoids with a swim speed of 30 ft. They get hold breath and a 1d3 bite and two 1d4 claws – here, the natural attacks are properly codified. They get +4 to Acrobatics when balancing, courtesy of their tail and +2 natural armor bonus. The traits are nice, but, bingo, miss their bonus types once more.

The second thoroughly unique race featured herein would be the Partatingi, or parrotfolk. These fellows are Medium, get +2 Int and Dex, -2 Con and gain a +4 racial bonus to Linguistics and learn 2 languages per point invested in the skill. They get one bite and two talon natural attacks, all of which clock in at 1d4s, and they are properly codified. Kudos. They may use ventriloquism as a non-magic ability for 1 minute per character level per day and get a +1 natural AC as well as +4 racial bonus to Acrobatics to balance. Here’s the thing, as the tea-cup holding Partatingi-artwork perfectly illustrates: They have wing hands. Yes, they get a fly speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability. However, when holding anything, that drops by 10 ft. They can’t hold tools or manufactured weapons while flying. This does somewhat limit this ability. Still, a more elegant solution would have been to impose a hard cap on unassisted flight at low levels and then delimiting it around 5th level, when PFRPG assumes unassisted flight to be available. I am not complaining too loud here, since the feathery wing-hands mean that they can only wield light melee weapons effectively, taking a -2 penalty to attack with all other weapons. They do get a +2 bonus to atk with light melee weapons, though – oddly, this one is not classified as a racial bonus. The race traits once more are interesting. Okay, I liked this race. It’s not for everyone, but the wing-hands with finger-feathers? I can get behind that inspired weirdness.

Okay, form this section, we move on to the history of the seven principalities, which once had been the luxurious Eight Delights of the erkunae, basically colonies/vacation spots until the empire collapsed; thereafter, war ravaged the lands until Romos the Beguiler, prince of now sunken Torl, made the erkuane lords wage their wars on tabletops instead. This was all fine and good, but then, Asterion came. The mighty minotaur mage took control of the island of Huq, and when the council met to decide on his claim, he promptly used a potent artifact to sink the whole island, drowning everyone. He rules with an iron fist until adventurers managed to deduce that his artifact had but one use and then managed to assassinate the mighty beast. Still, only two of the group survived, and they took the mantles of rulership for two of the new 7 remaining islands. In the defeat of the dread despot, trade is picking up and alchemy flourishes. Really cool: We get global modifications for item category prices – metal is, for example, more expensive and carved seashell (called “Simbi”) or milled obsidian (called “Black”) are commonly used as coinage. These are small aspects, mind you, but reading how these are carried and used makes the area come alive for me. From here, we move to the neat full-color map and then proceed to cover the respective settlements that can be found within the principalities, all of which btw. come with flavorful introductory text and a proper settlement statblock as well as hooks galore for the enterprising GM to develop.

Speaking of “for the GM to develop” – Asterion was a minotaur. As such, he had a famous mega-dungeon-labyrinth of sorts, one of stacked demiplanes which PCs can now explore. In a nice take on the subject matter, the pdf recommends an online labyrinth creator and mechanics. We also get a nice sample labyrinth map. The pdf then proceeds to cover the notable personages of the islands, providing inspiring fluff-only entries for the islands of the principalities, with 3 such NPCs provided per principality. These characters also note remarkable possessions, alignment and suggested class levels, adding a bit of guidance for the GM. One of my favorite chapters in the book, as the NPCs are interesting.

Now, this being a player’s guide, we also get a ton of class options: Alchemists can opt to become brine bakers, who replace Brew Potion with the option to create weaponry from sea water. These brineblades inflict bonus non-lethal damage on critical hits, which is further increased over the levels, replacing the poison resistance/immunity ability tree. The archetype’s discoveries allow for the creation of abjurant salt or grave salt. I actually like this one. It’s an interesting, flavorful ability modification. Now, Asterion may be vanquished, but his shadow still looms – one of the class options that represent this would be the bullman antipaladin, who replaces detect good with a horned, crimson helmet that acts as an unholy symbol, can inflict 1d8 damage (type missing) and nets Improved Bull Rush. Okay, what if it goes missing/is sundered? No idea. Does it occupy the helmet slot? This is an item, confused as a class ability, and as such sports some serious issues in the finer rules-interactions. The archetype gets a smite-variant and replaces plaguebringer with immunity to being flat-footed. Unholy champion is replaced with 1/day create demiplane, usable only in subterranean environments. The Gray Blades swashbuckler, former navy turned pirates, replace Profession with Stealth. They get limited per day uses of better stealing instead of charmed life and replace swashbuckler training with Improved Steal and baked in bonuses.

The high beast unchained barbarian replaces danger sense with a bonus to CMD to avoid being swallowed whole and a bonus to AC versus natural weapons and to Perception to avoid being surprised. They get +4 to saves versus poisons when raging, replacing indomitable will. They get a rage power that nets bonuses to damage versus targets with natural attacks and save-less stunning crits versus animals and magical beasts. The order of the bear is interesting in that they represent somewhat swashbuckly rebels who can cancel their charges and the like with a bonus 5-foot step, which can be rather interesting. The unchained rogue rigger gets a modified proficiency list as well as specialized Equipment Trick rope tricks. These are cool, interesting and make sense. Storydancer bards get a specialized sign language that allows them to convey concepts to intelligent species. They also eliminate the language-dependent descriptor for spells and replaces well-versed with a bonus to concentration checks with somatic spells. Here’s the issue: RAW, the spells still have verbal components and I’m pretty sure that spells that lose the language descriptor should not be potentially be made Still as well – otherwise, we’d have spells sans any components, and the theme of dance-based casting would be lost. The tribal surfer ranger gets access to tower shields and is a specialist of the paddleboat style, perfectly navigating the waves. Nice one. The volcanic bloodline presented labors under the misconception that eliminating the arcana suffices to make it viable or mechanically consistent for bloodragers as well. That is not the case. No, I am not going to bother listing the myriad of reasons why. They are evident enough.

The pdf also contains two 5-level prestige classes, the first of which would be the pirate hunter, who gets good Fort-saves, full BAB-progression, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. Prerequisite-wise, it requires a lawful alignment and 3 different skills at 5 ranks and Leadership. Proficiency-wise, the PrC nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and a firearm as well as light and medium armor. The archetype builds on Leadership, granting a commissioned ship and may 1/day cancel a steal, sneak attack or critical hit, 2/day at 5th level. Third level nets a gold/item-bonus and 2nd, 3rd and 4th level net a prince’s edict. These include gaining cannons or Amateur Gunslinger and the like. Okay, but nothing mind-blowing.

The second PrC is the royal messenger, who needs 3 skills at 5 ranks and the Noble Neutraility feat as well as the lore master class feature. The PrC nets 6 + Int skills per level, d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression and slightly non-standard Ref- and Will-save progressions, scaling up to +4. The PrC nets spellcasting progression on 4 of its levels and grants proficiency with simple weapons as well as longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword and shortbow. They are also proficient in light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and don’t incur arcane spell failure when using these. They also get immunity: “Any being with an intelligence of 6 or better must make a roll of 10 + the messengers Charisma bonus + his royal messenger bonus to make a melee attack against him.” What’s this ominous “royal messenger bonus”? I have no idea. Next ability isn’t better: “When performing any verbal-based action, such a starting a bardic performance or casting a spell with a Verbal component, a royal mes­senger also treats his initiative roll as a 20, if he chooses.” WHAT THE F***. Seriously?? This is SUPER-OP. Also: I have no idea how in the infinite layers of the abyss this is supposed to work. You decide when you act on your turn, not at the start of the round. Can the messenger retroactively increase initiative? Total mess of an ability. Added spells known, evasion, money “a free masterpiece” (should be bardic masterpiece)…yeah, I like the idea here, but the execution is messy.

The pdf also includes a pretty massive feat chapter. One nets +6 to saves versus fear effects. … Yeah, not impressed either. We get the xth feat that nets bonuses when outnumbered, increases to favored terrain bonuses. We get a limited daily use option to expend prepared spells to increase Dodge’s bonus, which is neat and one of the feats I liked. I like the notion of a muffled gunshot as well, but “add +2 to critical damage, if achieved.“ is painfully non-standard verbiage. It also fails to specify whether the bonus damage is multiplied or not. Swim speed for monks of 3rd level and Con 13 is a flavorful option. This is a feat text: “You may ignore the effects of any one of the following, once per day: successful Intimidate check, unsuccessful Sense Motive check (reroll), unsuccessful Will saving throw (reroll).” So, can I reroll a Will save or Sense Motive check, or can I ignore a failed reroll? That’s just sloppy. As a whole, the feat chapter is the weakest in the history of Porphyran player’s guides. The rules are weak and the benefits are not interesting for the most part.

The spell-chapter is an improvement in quality overall, featuring a 3rd level combined protection from evil/chaos that also affects undead vreated by evil effects. The spellcaster debuff aphasia is nice and the spell that requires water to execute a line-shaped (I assume 5-ft.-width) brinestrike is similarly a cool visual. A chaos-themes spell is interesting in its oscillation between buff and debuff, though I wished bonuses were properly codified. Sacrificing targets to elementals, fantasy islands (lavishly illustrated), getting temporarily the no breath quality – the chapter is not necessarily perfect, but nice. Cool: The magic item chapter includes the legendary weapon Asterion’s Soul – a blade that increases in potency with the wielder’s levels. We get partatingi/bird-folk blades (with serviceable, if non-standard verbiage benefits), opaline helmets and gemstone blades. Not all items are perfect, though – there is a trident that is missing the activation action from its active, secondary use. On the cool side, there is a vest that can produce magical pistols and Asterion’s island-disintegrating artifact can be found here. All in all, rules-wise my favorite chapter herein; not perfect, but has some nice components.

The mundane equipment contains pipes that can be turned into blowguns (heck yes!) and paddleboats and the pdf provides a ginormous list of available items, grouped by types and the like. This should seriously be standard for ANY player’s guide. Big plus, as the section is super-handy for GM and players alike, taking the annoying and time-consuming minutia back and forth of “You can’t get that here.” “Can I have XYZ?” “Yes, but it costs…” off your hands. Big kudos.

The pdf concludes with an NPC codex of sorts, providing a CR 8 erkunae brine baker, a CR 17 half-elf bullsman, a CR 4 human gray blade, a CR 3 kanseeran high beast, a CR 11 human cavalier, a CR 10 kanseeran pala/pirate hunter (including his ship!), a CR 4 lizardfolk rigger, a CR 10 paratatingi bard/royal messenger, a CR 8 partatingi storydancer, a CR 7 erkuane tribal surfer and a CR 14 lizardfolk sorcerer with the volcanic bloodline. All of these come with brief stories, adding a touch of character to them.

The pdf comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the Leiopleurodon, a CR 5 prehistoric aquatic animal that is a potent ambush predator and which can accelerate in brutal bursts. Nice one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are weaker than usual for Porphyran player’s guides – there are a couple of formal hiccups, but more importantly, the rules this time around are much more inconsistent in quality and precision than usual for the series. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and nice, full-color artworks, some of which are downright amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Huh. Weird. Aaron Hollingsworth and Perry Fehr’s last collaboration was much stronger than this one from a rules-perspective. And indeed, this is rather painful for me to say, but this Porphyran player#s guide is perhaps more contingent than any of its brethren before it on why you’re interested in it. You see, theme-wise, this is EASILY one of my favorite player’s guides ever. Yes, I kid you not. I mean, a weird Caribbean-like environment, with sprinkles of Krete and ancient Greece strewn in? Alchemists that make weapons from brine? What’s not to like. I adored the flavor and theme of the region, and while I do not subscribe to all design decisions made regarding the new races, I really LOVE the notion of crab-dwarves and parrot-folk. Come on, that is damn cool, different and creative! The fluff herein and the setting per se are fantastic and inspiring.

At the same time, the mechanics underlying them oscillate rather significantly in quality – while some of the components are very precise, to the point and well-made, there also are plenty of hiccups in the details, some of which seriously affect the functionality of some components. There also is a bit more filler material in the rules-relevant options here. Compared to the series’ previous installments, the crunchy components fall somewhat flat, which is a damn pity. The lack of occult adventures-support is somewhat sad, considering how cool a crabfolk mesmerist would have been. Speaking of which: Where are the eye stalks as a alternate racial trait? Where is the partatingi option that lets them parrot messages and later spells in a limited manner? The concepts herein are amazing, but the execution of the supplemental rules-material left me rather unimpressed. I would have loved to see more here; the themes and amazing flavor deserve more. So…how to rate this. See, this is where it gets tough. Regarding glitches and issues and rules, this falls into the mixed bag territory. Regarding flavor and ideas, this is fantastic and worthy of the highest accolades. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If you’re in it for the lore, then round up and check this out – it in inspiring! Otherwise, though, I sadly have to recommend rounding down. Now, I try to take the type of book into account when reviewing, and while I would not recommend this on the merits of its rules, I can recommend it, with reservations, on the strength of its concepts as a player's guide/region sourcebook. As such, my final verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Seven Principalities
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Transcendent 10 - Psionics of Conflict - Zones of Power
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/09/2018 01:07:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. This pdf was released after Dreamscarred Press had expanded the roster of psionic classes, but before the most current, occult psionic options and classes – as such, it is 100% Ultimate Psionics compatible.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin with a definition of the eponymous zones of power: They have a visual display and are indiscriminate. They very palpably emanate from the character in question and they move with the manifester. Now, and this is important, zones do NOT allow for saving throws and, RAW, they ignore power resistance, which sends all my alarm bells into alert-mode. No save and no resistance can be rather brutal. But let’s see how they hold up! The first would be the battlefield manifestation zone, which is available as a 3rd level power for psion/wilder, cryptic, marksman, psychic warrior and tactician. All creatures in this zone except the manifester have cover, and movement is restricted as if by “hindering terrain” – that should be “difficult terrain.” For 2 power points, the zone can be extended by 30 ft., while 1 power point allows for the exclusion of one square, which is cool – but can this square be reassigned? Since the zone can move, this would make sense, but RAW, the hole thus created cannot be reassigned. This is particularly problematic since all the zones sport these two basic augments. There is another augment here, one for 4 power points. This augment makes a move action only amount to 5 ft. (WTF) and makes the zone grant total concealment. Yeah, that is utterly OP and should be handled with a movement penalty and minimum movement instead.

Dimensional interface zone is available for nomad and cryptic as a 6th level power and basically makes the zone behave as a plane, copying its planar traits. The augments have a 5-ft.-square exclusion for 1 power point, +30 ft. radius for 2 power points and for 4, you can extend the duration to 10 min/level. Empathic transfer zone is a 3rd level power for psychic warrior and vitalist (5 power points), 4th level for psion/wilder (7 power points) and 2nd level for dread (3 power points). When you take damage for the first time in a round, roll 1d6 – all targets in the zone take this much damage. The total of this rolled damage is then subtracted from any damage you would take. Broken as all 9 hells. Does someone have a bag of kittens to cheese the hell out of this one? Next.

Energy amplification zone costs 5 power points for psion/wilder and psychic warrior and clocks in as a 3rd level power for them, while kineticists (the psionic ones) can get it as a 2nd level power for 3 power points. Once more, we have the augment for +30 ft., for 5 ft.-square exclusion. The power adds +1d6 to all energy damage of a chosen type. This should specify the energy types available. (What about force, sonic, negative energy? Can it be used to enhance those?); For +2 power points, you can add a second energy or increase the damage by a further +1d6. Not a big fan of the number-escalation here. Lifeforce flare is available as a third level power for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and vitalist. The zone nets a 10 temporary hit points buffer that any creature within can use to decrease damage incurred. The usual shaping augments are included and for +1 power point, you get +10 temporary hit points. Okay, do these replenish each round or not? I like the idea, but the execution is rough.

Necrotic corruption zone is a third level power for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and vitalist, at 5 power point cost, 2nd level for dread at 3 power points cost. It can be shaped with the standard two shape augments for increased emanation radius and 5 ft.-holes. The zone adds +1d6 negative energy damage o each attack, +1 bleed and nets undead fast healing 1. OUCH. For +2 power points, the damage increases by +1d6, for one additional power point, you can increase the bleed incurred by 1.

Probability distortion zone, defensive clocks in at 3rd level for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and tactician, 2nd level for marksman and seer. It nets +1 insight bonus to AC and saves. For 3 power points, this increases by 1. Compared to the other zones, this is pretty weak. Probability distortion zone, hostile clocks in at 3rd level for psion/wilder, psychic warrior and tactician, 2nd level for dread and seer, with power point costs at 5 and 3, respectively. This one is the inverse of the previous zone and instead provides the penalty. Minor nitpick: Penalties in PFRPG are untyped. Probability manipulation zone clocks in at 4th level for cryptic, psion/wilder, psychic warrior, tactician, costing 7 power points. Seers get it as a 3rd level power for 5 power points. This…doesn’t really behave like a zone. Only the manifester has control over it. It nets an immediate action d20 reroll. +2 power points for an additional reroll before it discharges. Odd one.

Finally, warp strike zone clocks in at 3rd level for dread, nomad and psychic warrior, 4th level for the tactician, with 5 and 7 power points as base costs. Okay, this is another zone that needs to die in a fiery blaze. All targets in the zone are treated as eligible for touch attacks by the manifester. I kid you not. The augment for 4 points can even extend that to a 5 ft.-square to get this benefit. Yeah. No. Just no.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting shows, alas, that this is an early work – the later offerings by Lost Spheres Publishing are MUCH better. Bolding isn’t consistent and rules-language in the base chassis has problems. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with red highlights and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover.

Yeah, to be honest, this was what I kind of expected from early works in the series. The Transcendent 10-series has positively surprised me with its unique and complex concepts and honest gems that shine through the lack of experience the author had back then. (And rest assured, the new stuff is much more refined!) This extends, to a degree, to this offering. However, unfortunately, the very base engine of the zones is flawed. Moving zones are tricky in PFRPG – I should know, I’ve written a whole class based on the concept and have juggled the concept in more than one of my designs. The zones as defined herein are interesting per se and less problematic than I expected them to be; alas, they sport some seriously problematic exploits and a rather big flaw in the base engine. At the same time, the active zones for manifesters only at the end feel odd, almost like the author had run out of ideas for the base engine. They are, comparably, boring. While I maintain that the concept attempted here is cool and definitely worth pursuing, the execution here, alas, leaves quite a lot to be desired, requiring imho further design-work by the GM to streamline them and make them work properly. As such, my final verdict cannot exceed 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Psionics of Conflict - Zones of Power
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Gnomes vs. Gremlins
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2018 04:23:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the delightfully oddball „Letters from the Flaming Crab“-series clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as always, we begin with the charming frame narrative, wherein mister J Gray finds a letter from the planes- and world-hopping UCS Flaming Crab, providing a nice and flavorful introduction to the two races contained within this pdf, the first of which would be the gyrenomes. They are not affected by wanderlust and instead focused on insatiable curiosity, with a propensity for knowledge and tech. Sounds familiar? Yeah, they are somewhat like a slightly less insane version of Krynn’s tinker gnomes.

Stat-wise, they get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis (grin), are Small and packrats: If they spend 10 minutes organizing their backpacks etc., they are treated as Medium for the purposes of carrying capacity. They can also jury-rig items, offsetting the penalties of the broken condition as a move action, for up to 1 round per character level. Cool! They get a +2 racial bonus to Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) and gain Technologist as a bonus feat. When crafting any of the tech-based items (as via Craft Cybernetics, etc.), they can do so in half the time and at half cost HOWEVER, if they choose to do so and roll a 1 on a crafting check or failing it by 5 or more, they need to roll on the malfunctions table. These become only apparent upon using the item. To not go the quick and risky route requires a Will-save, btw. The malfunctions table, in case you were wondering, is massive: From blowing up to generating cheap dye or doubled charge use, the effects are mechanically relevant, have extremely tight mechanical effects (damage types, bonuses, etc.) and the table is 3 full pages long! LOVE it! Gyrenomes also have acid and fire resistance 5 and proficiency with hand and repeating crossbows. They treat one-handed firearms and tech-based ones as martial weapons.

The race comes with a total o 4 different alternate racial traits – fey roots replaces the tech savviness with classic gnome SPs and a+ bonus to saves versus charms and compulsions; the packrat tricks can be replaced with +2 to saves vs. diseases and poisons. Smog breather replaces the resistances and allows them to temporarily ignore the effects of smoke/cloud-based effects (COOL!) and Zero Gravity Savant replaces the skill bonuses with +2 to Fly and better maneuverability. The substitutions are balanced, meaningful, elegant and fun. Kudos. We also get favored class options for alchemist, bard, gunslinger, occultist, rogue, summoner, swashbuckler and wizard. I have no complaints there.

The race sports the nanotechnician alchemist replaces mutagen with boost, an edible oil that takes 1 hour to produce and a full-round action to consume/activate. A nanotechnician can only benefit from one boost and only one may be maintained – no stockpiling. These can net scaling fast healing, mental or physical attribute boosts, SR, an electricity-based touch attack or a speed-enhancer. Boosts last for class level minutes and render the nanotechnician sickened after the duration has elapsed. Cool tweak. Swift and instant alchemy are replaced with full-round and standard action extract mixing and the capstone nets a potent, untyped damage bomb of nanites. Cool archetype! The second racial archetype is the racketeer swashbuckler, who gains a modified proficiency-list that includes one-handed firearms and one-handed technological weapons, which is also reflected in the panache-modification to regain points. The archetype also gets 7 unique deeds that replace standard deeds, allowing for gliding flight, sped up flight, barrel roll attacks, 45° or 90° turns, hovering, etc. – full blown aerial mobility here. The deeds are glorious and allow you to start with Batman type glides and then upgrade that. Instead of swashbuckler finesse and weapon training, these folks begin with a battered boost glider that later works as a jetpack. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter improve maneuverability, replacing nimble. Seriously cool archetype!

The race comes with a Ki Field feat that lets you expend ki for shield bonuses to AC. We get two mundane items – action vests can be studded with small items, which may then be quickly procured. Insta-rations are what you’d expect. Nice ones! Now, beyond the aforementioned boost glider, we also get omnitool gauntlets that work as a universal, charge-powered toolset for Craft and Disable Device checks. Neat! The tractor beam baton can move matter, with charges required depending on weight. We also get a new psychic/sorc/wiz/summoner spell at 1st level, overclocked weapon, which increases the damage output of big weapons, but also makes them prone to misfires. The write-up of this cool races concludes with a brief gazetteer of gnomehome, a sample village. And yes, the write-up does mention the appropriate age, height and weight tables to use.

Okay, so far, we have pure awesomeness – let’s see if the mogwai gremlin race can compete with that level of quality! Mentality-wise, they are conservative protectors of the natural order and as such, at odds with the gyrenomes. Rules-wise, they get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Str and are treated as fey. They are Tiny and fast for their size, gaining 30 ft. speed. Mogwai have low-light vision and treat Disable Device and Survival as class skills. Mogwai get a +1 racial bonus to atk versus androids and constructs, aptly named Rage Against the Machine. They can 1/day cast prestidigitation as a SP and Mogwai with a Wisdom of 13 or higher gain sabotage touch, usable 1/day versus non-intelligent technological items. On a success, the item suffers a malfunction, making great use of the inspired table, from the inverse end. They also get a +1 racial bonus to saves versus technological items and creatures. Instead of the prestidigitation SP, they can choose a 1 point, properly codified bite attack. This and low-light vision may be exchanged for darkvision and may replace RatM with +4 to trip. Bonus types are super-tight and the race gets its own age, height and weight table. Favored class option-wise, alchemist, barbarian, rogue and shaman are covered.

As far as class options are concerned, we get the primal nature oracle mystery, which nets access to Disable Device, Intimidate, Knowledge (nature) and Survival. Bonus spell-wise, we begin with break and move on to nature’s exile, magic circle against technology, primal regression and at higher levels, atavism, mass and return to nature. Nice spell-selection. The revelations include an untyped damage touch versus objects and constructs with limited daily uses. We also can grow natural weapons temporarily, which later upgrade to include enhancement bonuses. Two of these also may be maintained congruously at 11th level. Calling nature’s allies, commune with nature, replacing Dex-mod with Cha-mod for AC and Reflex-saves, Favored Enemy Spellcasting (constructs) as a bonus feat, which later adds Robot’s Bane and Technophobe, a variant, vampiric discharge… nice tricks here. The capstone nets the primordial template and immunity to all spells that don’t affect animals or plants as well as 1/day shapechange. All in all, a really nice mystery with a strong theme.

The second class option provided would be the blowslinger gunslinger archetype, who is, bingo, a blowgun specialist. Pellets may be imbued with poison, alchemy, etc. as a standard action and act as a conductor for the substances. Action economy of this improves at 7th and 15th level. This replaces gunsmith and menacing/startling shot. Grit applies to blowguns and we get 6 specialized blowgun-based deeds, with utility dart sporting two distinct uses that lets the blowslinger jam mechanisms and constructs or scoot objects. Keeping poison in the mouth sans ill effects, blowgun melee, sniping, negating AoOs when firing in melee and increasing save DCs of pellets – nice array. Gun training is replaced with blowgun training. The race gets a new item that is called “Ball of wasps” – guess what it does? Yes, I like it. Feat-wise, we get two racial feats: Spit Darts lets you hide darts in your mouth and speak two-word sentences while holding them there. Combine that with poison in the mouth. Neato. Toxic Bomb lets you add inhaled or contact poison to bombs. The racial spell provided is a clearly codified detect technological creatures and we conclude this racial write-up with a 1-page depiction of a gremlin warren as a fluffy backdrop.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level – even the small intricacies have been accounted for. Kudos indeed! Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series, with artworks being a blend of original b/w and fitting public domain art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kelly and Ken Pawlik and Margherita Tramontano deliver in spades in this humble racial supplement. This pdf provides two balanced, cool and flavorful races that employ the amazing malfunction table in the middle for a truly intriguing offering. I had no gripes regarding any of the options herein and indeed found myself excited about some of the class options and racial abilities, something which is not a given at this point. In short, this is an amazing little pdf, well worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Gnomes vs. Gremlins
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Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Multiclass & Melee
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2018 04:19:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1/2 page blank, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief recap of what constitutes a bonded companion for the purpose of this pdf. It should also be noted that, unlike a few of the other entries in the series, the witch-class actually gets some new spell material herein. As before, formatting of spells is missing bolding, but otherwise is pretty tight.

Anyways, let’s move to the spells, the first of which, adduced mastery, clocks in at 2nd level for all classes.This spell lets you touch a ring or item; the caster then can gain a feat of the former owner of that item for the spell’s duration, though he still needs to qualify for it, which is an important measure to prevent abuse. The duration is pretty long and the pdf is smart enough to cover magic item slot-interaction in the context of the pdf. Armament of energy clocks in at 2nd level for all arcane casters apart from alchemist and witch and generates a weapon for which the caster must have proficiency. Attacks executed with the energy weapon substitute the casting ability modifier for Strength and are applied 1.5 if shaped as a two-handed weapon. Here’s the interesting thing: The weapon generates a pool of dice of energy damage chosen from the 4 basic elements (nitpick: It’s electricity damage, not electrical damage) that may be discharged with successful attacks. Now, personally, I think that there ought to be a cap on maximum discharge per hit to prevent nova-crits, for the energy damage multiplies fully, which can result in pretty ridiculous crits. That being said, apart from that, the spell does a lot right and even covers decreased damage die size for sonic damage.

Bond transpossession I is really interesting, in that it allows you to replace a bonded creature with one available from summon monster/nature’s ally, with the type of spell this is based on contingent on the spell list available to the class. This is really cool, at it allows you to have the “right” bonded companion available. It should also be noted that the pdf provides bonus spells for this one – bonded transpossession II – IX. This is important, since the spells, subject to GM approval, can also yield other forms beyond the list, balanced by CR. The follow-up spells properly and appropriately scale this.

Cry of blood can be cast as a swift action and is available for bard, sorc/wiz and cle/oracle. Its components…include 1 round of rage. An ally within earshot under the benefits of a morale bonus you created gains the benefits of rage and potentially rage powers you have and may end a rage-burst thus granted as a free action sans suffering fatigue. Interesting for multiclass characters currently not in rage/the option to cast in rage. Divine echoes is a level 1 spell for bards and the non-nature-themed divine classes and nets the recipients of your morale bonus granting “bard song” (not the proper term) the benefits of sacred bonuses you currently enjoy. It also lets you grant an ally affected smite, though you still have to activate it. Interesting one, though the bonus-sharing can become rather brutal. Eidolonic weapon is available for assassin, blackguard, cle/oracle, sorc/wiz, magus, pala…and wizard? That should be witch. It allows you to draw a weapon you’re proficient with from your eidolon, using its natural attacks as a template to determine its damage.

Sacred savagery is available for antipala, pala and cle/oracle at 2nd spell level and requires one use of channel energy as a component. It allows the character to used the channeled energy to either sustain a limited, morale bonus-granting ability for the duration (which is OP – this should be based on channel dice) or enhance the bonuses. Weird: Here, it is based on channel dice. Sanguine bond clocks in at 2nd level for alchemist, summoner, witch and sorc/wiz, 1st spell level for the ranger. The spell affects the caster and companion and allows the caster to imbibe potions, mutagen and spells and choose to split the duration evenly between caster and companion or have the companion instead be affected. Interesting! Shared instincts clocks in at level for most classes, level 3 for druids, and allows for the sharing of insight bonuses, “precision-based hit and damage bonuses” (what’s the hit bonus here? I know precision damage, but no such bonus exists…) and sneak attack dice (covered under precision, so redundant). This can be really brutal with the right build.

The final spell herein would be trance of divine precision, available for antipala and pala as well as cle/oracle. The spell consumes 1 use of channel energy as a material component. “For the duration

of this spell you add your dice of channeling damage to all critical hits, ranger favored enemy bonuses, and other precision based attacks (such as sneak attack).” Okay, does this mean the NUMBER of channeling dice? Or the actual dice? In the latter case, we have a ridiculous damage escalation in the right hands. The only reason I am not screaming bloody murder here is the multiclass requirement and the fact that casting another spell ends it prematurely. Still, I’d be weary of letting it fall into the hands of a good min-maxer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are, on a formal level, good if you can look past the formatting convention deviations. On a rules-language level, the pdf attempts highly complex modifications and often succeeds rather admirably in conveying the intent. The verbiage is a bit rough, but considering that this is an early work, it is impressive. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, is pretty printer-friendly, and we don’t get interior artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ early design-offerings frankly prove to be much more enjoyable than I thought they would; this Transcendent 10-installment is no different in that regard. There are some genuinely cool ideas and rules-operations here, and while Lost Spheres Publishing’s current releases are much more refined, this already has several components that I’d consider more interesting than whole spell-pdfs of thrice the size. In short, if you can live with the minor rough edges, then this has some creative and interesting design-work that can inspire and provide some cool tricks to develop, tweak, etc. For the low asking price, this is worth taking a look at. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, courtesy of the rough patches and age of the pdf. I will still round up due to in dubio pro reo, though, as this holds up better than it honestly has a right to after all this time. If anything, the Transcendent 10 spell installments are a great way to show what could have been done with spellcasting on a large scale, instead of just substituting a shape and energy type for the oomphteenth fireball clone. I really wish that the ambition and design-paradigms of the series find more traction. If anything, I hope that a few designers out there take a look and think about what spells could be.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Multiclass & Melee
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Straight Skills
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/05/2018 04:17:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternative take on skills clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC/introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content. There is an alternate version included, which has been laid-out in landscape standard, optimized for e-readers. As such, it clocks in at 14 pages, but is otherwise content-wise identical to the letter-version.

Okay, so the skill system assumes a 3-pronged skill category system: A skill can be either broad, general or specific. A broad skill can include noticing things, recognizing creatures etc. General skills can include e.g. recognizing undead or spotting. A character skilled in a general skill “grants a +2 bonus” on related skill checks – that should be “gains,” otherwise it implies an aid another scenario. Specific skills include e.g. searching for traps and yield a +4 bonus instead.

If you’re skilled in a skill, you roll 1d20 + character level +3. When you roll something your character is capable at, you roll 1d20 + character level. Otherwise, roll 1d20 +1. The respective skill bonuses are added for being capable or skilled. Speaking of which: I think it would have made sense to properly define “skilled” and “capable” before going into rules-intricacies.

A character is skilled in skill ranks gained by class (NOT + Int-mod!) plus Spotting, Searching and Listening. They also are capable in 4 things. Gaining a level in a new class that has more skill points than the original class nets +1 thing to be skilled in, +1 to be capable in. This is weird: Stepping from martial classes up to skilled ones is thus more efficient, skill-wise, than vice versa. When stepping “down” to a class with less skills and gaining a level in it, you demote a skilled skill to capable or lose one skill they had been capable in. Clerics and Wizards get additional skills, but oddly none of the other classes do. Only the core classes are codified thus.

Retraining a skill takes 3 days of downtime and 50 gp per character level. Half as much costs for being capable. There is an alternate suggested for skill points, but which retains the skill categories introduced here. In this scenario, general skills net +2, specific ones +5. Complaint here: There’s a “See page XX” reference here that should just point to the next page.

The final page is devoted to a massive list of sample skills, with broad, general and specific skills listed.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf has no interior artworks.

Michael McCarthy’s alternate skill system is per se interesting; it does not, however, represent a simplification. It divorces skills from attributes, which may be something you enjoy or dislike. That being said, it actually allows for a more defined gradience between different uses of a general notion of a skill. The system makes intimidating creatures in combat, getting folks to tell you things and getting folks to give you things three different specific skills. Whether that makes sense to you or not depends on your personal tastes. Personally, I like the more detail-oriented notion here, if not the classification employed. I similarly don’t get how asking questions and court etiquette necessarily are different things – when I try to ask discreet questions in court, which skill do I use?

I can also make a case for the pdf being not complete. How does the system interact with class abilities that net a bonus to the skill? What about magic items? We get the very barebones basic system here, which was to be expected, considering the low asking price. It is my contention, though, that the straight skill system presented here would have benefited from a) more details and b) clarified interactions with rules-components that are not replaced; considering that ability score modifiers are taken out of skills, the emphasis of skill-boosting items may well further increase (not a fan). How do skill-contests work? Feinting? Intimidation? Feats? In short, this is a promising, alternate skill system, but it is simply not finished. Using it on its own will require copious amounts of GM-calls. And I don’t really see the value here. The system doesn’t make things easier per se. It makes the skills behave in a more unified manner, yes, but to properly capitalize on the idea, we’d need more information regarding the more intricate details.

Still, the notion underlying this pdf has some value and I can see this appealing to some groups. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Straight Skills
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Asian Spell Compendium
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:49:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive collection of spells clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 1 + 2/3 of a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 1/3 pages of content – as always in LG-books, we get a ton of content per page, so the pdf actually contains more material than you’d assume from the page-count.

Now, we begin with functionality – to be more precise, we begin with a means of making the book much more user-friendly: We not only get a list of alphabetical spell names, we also get a list of spells by class, organized by ascending levels in the respective class entry. Even cooler: We get a third spell list that depicts spells by school and descriptor. Need a language-dependent spell? Just look it up. That is a HUGE plus as far as I’m concerned. It significantly increases the chances of spells herein actually seeing use.

Ahem, now, theme-wise, this book is part of the series of pdfs intended for use with Jade Regent or similarly-themed settings and as such follows an aesthetic that is in line with WuXia movies and mediums, though a couple of the options herein should work as well in more low-key environments like Rite Publishing’s Kaidan setting. There are a total of 110 spells herein.

All right, so let’s take a look at these spells, shall? Ancestral wrath would be a 2nd level necromancy that calls an ancestral spirit that streaks towards a target in close range, hitting automatically and dealing untyped damage (boo!) that scales up to 5d6 for living beings, up to 10d6 for undead. It deals full damage versus incorporeal targets and an undead target damaged that fails its save is shaken for 1 round. Okay, so Fortitude partial – does that mean that only undead need to save and that the save negates only the condition? I assume so, but the spell could be slightly clearer there. Does this spell sound familiar to you by any means? Well, there is a reason for that! If you’re like me and really adored the Rokugan setting and Oriental Adventures in its various iterations, you’ll meet some old favorites here, updated and for the most part, streamlined. Considering e.g. Rokugan’s mechanics regarding jade, etc., the spells are more than just cut-copy paste with new classes thrown in – to use this example spell, we have it available for classes where it makes sense – spiritualist, medium, shaman, witch, cleric and occultist. It may be a small thing, but I’m a big fan of keeping the themes of classes consistent, so that aspect is a definite plus for me. (As an aside: The 3.X books never properly covered all the different, cool katas in d20-games…would love to see those. But I digress.)

Since this book contains a staggering amount of spells, I will not go into the details of each and every spell within, instead focusing on the greater picture and attempting to give you an overview, all right? Right! While we’re on the subject of death, often less permanent in the mythology than we’d assume, awakened from death represents narrative gold: The target awakens from death temporarily, feebleminded and with hazy memories. An undead was walking down the road, not knowing why…and yes, this would fit it pitch-perfectly with Kaidan.

A low-level means of generating an enemy-only targeting shaken effect via an illusory mask, an army of unseen servants to cater to your every need – I can see the spells herein work formidably in settings like Jade Oath and beyond. Interesting: There is a spell that makes partially wooden weapons turn around to attack their wielders. Fully metal weapons are not affected. Why? Well, think about the modified elements assumed in such settings and it makes sense. It’s a small component, but it adds to my immersion here. A blackblade katana bestows temporary negative levels and yields the wielder temporary hit points; the dark nature of blood magic as a form of spellcasting can also be found in e.g. the bleeding fire spell, which nets a magic missile like fire-based effect with higher damage output, chance to set targets ablaze, etc. – and yes, it makes sense at the level of the spell.

The classic blessed jade strike makes a return. There also are mechanically really interesting spells here – take focusing/centering form: These two spells can be cast as a swift action and interact with another spell being cast, enhancing concentration as it is cast or wholly allowing the caster to make the unconscious mind take care of the concentration required to maintain the spell in question. There is a high-level spell to conjure forth a cloud barge or a resplendent cloud of fog of light that dazzles targets and really hampers any creature not used to its light.

Now, some may remember cobra spit – it’s a 10-ft. cone that causes 1d3 Con-damage on a failed Fort-save, additionally dazzling targets and blinding them on a natural 1. I took this relatively simple spell to highlight how it makes sense: The ability score damage is sensible for the 2nd-level spell; the classes that get it are druid, alchemist and witch and it has the proper descriptors, classifying it as poison. In short, it gets all those small details right that you’re liable to miss when doing conversions yourself. Did I mention the 9th-level Colossus that grows you to a MINIMUM of Colossal size? Yes, you can attempt to fist-fight that kaiju….but oddly, the end of the spell mentions you “shrink”ing – that should be “grow.” I assume that’ s due to the wording being partially copied from the reverse version, greater diminution. (As an aside: Everyman Gaming’s Microsized Adventures really helps with dealing with massive size-changes.)

Speaking of high-levels: Clerics with access to 8th level spells can force permanent alignment changes on targets that fail their save versus compulsory conversion. There is also an interesting fire-based high-level spell that uses a save and a HD-cap, but can yield what otherwise only death effects can provide: Save or die. It’s 9th level and takes a full round to cast, though, making sure that its use remains limited to a degree.

The pdf also includes variations of spiritual weapon with a stacking, capped misfortune-curse added, dancing weaponry and a rather helpful spell that allows you to analyze the nature of a curse currently affecting a target. I am not the biggest fan of doubled range increments for ranged weaponry, but how could I not like a cloud of fireflies that renders targets drowsy? An old favorite of mine has also been recovered and converted – fault line causes bludgeoning damage (properly codified) and also acts as a light terrain control spell with its difficult terrain creation. Cool: Ghostly glow represents an eerie variant of dancing lights that interacts with Horror Adventures’ spooked condition. (And yes, once more, perfect fit for Kaidan…)

Glory of the Chrysanthemum Throne may be one of the coolest high-level spells within: It creates innumerable, daylight-shedding ghostly flowers that detonate upon contact with evil creatures, while also providing a miss chance. Oh, and you can designate a rightful person to sit on the thronw who gains a really brutal buff. Amazing 9th-level spell.

Inscribed enemy is interesting: You designate a target and enchant a weapon (NOT ammo!) – the weapon’s first hit versus the target is treated as though executed by a +1 bane weapon. I also loved the visuals of jade prison, which slowly encases evil in a jade statue. I also enjoyed how a couple of the spells herein have been designated as koans, which adds a bit of flavor to their effects. The codification of magnetic ray was also something I rather enjoyed seeing here. Ridiculously funny: Marvelous chopsticks. Think of them as a Bigby/Hand-spell variant that deposits targets in extradimensional spaces, where they are chewed. On the low-level end of the spectrum, I loved meltwater or the nonlethal enforcing merciful mandate. What about making a ladder from smoke?

Fans of rokugan’s shugenja will certainly appreciate the return of phoenix wings. Punji pits make for nice terrain control and a mist that can clean up harmful vapors is a long overdue spell-based counter method for the vile miasmas. Remove fatigue is a spell I see with a degree of skepticism, since it explicitly suppresses further instances of fatigue incurred, which allows for rage cycling etc., banning the spell at my table. Seize the Heart, on the other hand, looks OP at first, but isn’t: The spell can instantly kill a target on a failed save, which, at spell level 3 or 4, is nasty – however, a HD-cap helps keep it in line and instead makes it a great mook-sweeper. What about making scarves lethal…and potentially decapitating targets with them? Yeah, thought you’d enjoy that! And yes, there is a tengu fighting fan that not only nets you an item – you can decrease the remaining duration for special combat tricks. I love this type of versatile design.

Snake arrows do pretty much what they say on the tin, and I probably will not need to explain either Terra Cotta Legion or Lions, right? Quite a few of the spells within interact with spirits and the spirit world, which is nice to see, as it better reflects the realities of most Asian settings. Sublime detachment is a great form of almost-enlightenment high-level means of fortifying against emotions, but also prevents morale bonuses. What about transforming items into origami? Yeah, players will really like that happening to their blades…MUAHAHA. Sorry. Had a bit of a moment there.

It should be noted that the pdf provides an optional rule to make identification of these spells harder when encountered outside of their usual cultural context.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level herein, though not as perfect as in many LG-books. Layout adheres to the nice 2-column full-color standard that the Jade Regent plug-ins employ. The pdf comes with bookmarks for the chapters, but not for the individual spells or at least beginning letters – it could be slightly more comfortable here.

Jason Nelson delivers a love-letter to oriental Adventures here, with a massive selection of unique and colorful spells that breathe the spirit of WuXia. Their mechanical representations are rather nice, and I’d allow the vast majority of them in my game. While I don’t get how a glaring oversight like remove fatigue could happen, the vast majority of the book is precise, concise and interesting. The book provides a rather impressive array of complex spells, many of which sport neat visuals, mechanic, or both. In short, this is a good collection of spells, one well worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and though I do feel that this one is closer to the 4 and 5 stars due to the heavy quoting of Oriental Adventures, as a reviewer, I do have an in dubio pro reo policy and hence will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Spell Compendium
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Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Elemental Exchanges
Publisher: Lost Spheres Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:47:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

So, Lost Spheres Publishing, back in the day, began with the Transcendent 10-series. While these represent the early works of the company, the company flew under my radar for a long while, so it’s high time we took a look at the series, right? It should be noted that the company has evolved since then – reviews of more current books will hit sites soon as well. But how do these early works hold up against the test of time? Let’s find out!

One thing I really enjoy about this series would be the designer’s commentary that is provided for each respective piece of design – they help a GM and player to properly contextualize the content, which is particularly helpful for folks who don’t have a veteran’s level of system mastery. The pdf predates the ACG and OA, and as such, I will not complain about a lack of representation of the classes from these books in the spell-lists.

Anyways, this pdf is 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 /2 page blank, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as before regarding the spell-centric installments of this series, we get an explanation of a core design tenet here, namely elemental balance. This should be no news for experienced players, but we do get a list of the 4 classic elements, with associated energy types and opposed elements and their energy types – so in the unlikely case that you are new to this, you’ll have the concept explained here. Once more witches don’t get these new spells.

All right, the first spell herein would be elemental duality, which clocks in at level 2 for alchemist, magus and sorc/wiz, level 3 for the druid. The spell allocates two opposing elements to two limbs: A limb may not share two such focal points. The caster may then launch energy (2d6, +1d6 for every 4 caster levels after 3rd, up to 5d6) as ranged touch attacks with Medium range , or add this damage to a melee attack executed with the limb chosen as the focus. Casting the spell includes executing an attack, btw. Okay, does this only work for unarmed/natural strikes? Or can it be combined with spellstrike? In the latter case, it represents a bit of an overkill, as far as I’m concerned. Elemental oscillation clocks in at 4th level for druid and summoner, 3rd for sorcerer and wizard and is interesting: You make a ranged touch attack: If you hit, the target suffers 1d6 per levels of the first element chosen, on the subsequent round the same amount from the opposing element. Breaking concentration or line of effect breaking ends this and the spell alternates between the damage types for its duration. This one is interesting: Damage is enough to make it viable, but not too high to make its added flexibility an issue. I like it.

The pdf proceeds to introduce us to Elemental reaction, which exists in two versions: The lesser one clocks in at level 5 for inqui/cle/oracle, 4 for druid/magus/sorc/wizard. It can be cast as an immediate action and allows you to basically copy a hostile (not healing cheesing) spell with an energy descriptor an enemy casts and target the enemy with it. While it specifies that the caster must be in the new area of effect of the spell (and thus covers touch etc.), the spell’s range could be misinterpreted as substituting that of the copied spell. In short, this could be a bit tighter in its rules. The spell can only affect spell levels of 3rd or lower…does that mean that you have to identify the spell being mimicked first or not? I assume no, but that makes casting it a bit of a guessing game. The greater version clocks in at level 9 for cleric/oracle and sorc/wizard, 8 for druids and 6 for magi/inquisitors; it can mimic spells of up to 7th level.

Oppositional echo is 3rd level for sorc/wizard and magus, 4th for the divine casters and is pretty cool: You copy an elemental spell of an allied caster and inverse the elements, targeting the same area/target. Like it! Opposition sheen is available at 4th spell level for cle/oracle, magus and sorc/wizard and represents an immediate action shield that can negate incoming elemental attacks – if you make your CL-check. This is dynamic, not 100% reliable AND also covers supernatural attacks…so yes, it can shield you, theoretically, versus that dragon breath…if you make the CL-check based on HD… I LOVE this. Even cooler, you get a short-lived defensive aura. Two thumbs up for this onne!

Reactive echo cascade clocks in at 9th spell level for the full casters. You copy a hostile elemental spell and rebuttal it with 3 versions of the same spell (!!) that use the other elements and energies. 5th level is, balance-wise, the maximum spell level you can affect thus. Really cool. Shared opposition clocks in at 3rd level for cle/oracle and magus, 2nd for druid and sorc/wiz. It requires a phyiscla bond with another spellcaster and assigns one element to each. Each spellcaster gets a reservoir of 2d6 energy damage dice, +1d6 per round. These may be used to enhance energy damage of the assigned element. Cool cooperative casting boost! Tormiand’s triad clocks in at 4th level for magi and sorc/wizards. This generates basically a triangle that can fire either fire, cold or electricity bolts as ranged touch attacks over 3 rounds, one bolt per round, or blast all of them at first round. Damage caps at 10d6 per bolt. While the spell is in effect, the caster suffers a penalty to Dex as well as minor energy resistance, depending on energy left. Interesting one. Tormiand’s tetrastrike would be the 6th level upgrade for the spell, instead covering all 4 base energy types and capping at 15d6 maximum damage per bolt.

The pdf also includes two new feats: Oppositional Might nets +1 DC when alternating between opposing elements with powers etc. Elemental Breach makes a target you hit with a melee attack that deals energy damage suffer a short-lived, minor penalty to saves versus that energy. Both feats are functional, but their rules-language could be tighter. It’s energy damage, not elemental damage, for example.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – bolding, italicization and the like hasn't been implemented in a truly concise manner and there are a couple of instances where minor aspects or the rules-language are a bit wonky. However, at the same time, the pdf manages to get complex and difficult concepts represented in a tight manner, so yeah – flaws in the details, but the ambitious big picture stands., The pdf adheres to a 2-column full-color standard, has no interior artwork and no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Christen N. Sowards’ humble little book of elementalism spells is actually rather interesting and holds up pretty well. While not all spells are perfect, I found myself genuinely excited about some of them, and considering the amount of spells I’ve read, that means something. The formatting shortcomings are a tad bit grating, though. Still, while a bit rough around the edges, and while the bonus feats are somewhat sucky, this is still worth checking out. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Transcendent 10 - Spells of Synergy - Elemental Exchanges
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Hybrid Class: The Hermit
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:45:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

The hermit is a hybrid of witch and druid. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are divine spellcasters that draw their spells from the druid and witch spell lists and uses Wisdom as governing attribute for spellcasting. They may not cast spells opposed to their alignment and they learn a few spells when leveling up; the hermit may also learn spells from other hermits and their spellcasting is intricately entwined with their lantern. This must be a source of illumination, though the precise form varies from hermit to hermit. The lantern can shine light like a bull’s eye lantern or hooded lantern and may be lit or extinguished as a swift action. It is not affected by environmental effects and requires no fuel. The lantern may be enhanced via item creation feats. Damaged lanterns regain full hit points next time the hermit rests and destroyed lanterns may be replaced. It has hardness 8 and ½ the hermit’s hit points. Lanterns act as divine focus and the hand holding it counts as unoccupied for the purpose of somatic components.

Okay, so far, so cool. Once a lantern is created, you choose one of 4 rune powers. The first expands the area of circular spell effects (cones, cylinders, etc.) as a swift/immediate action 3 + Wis-mod times per day, upgrading to +10 ft. at 10th level. I per se like this, but since RAW, the area of effect increase is total, not based on radius, it is a bit awkward - +2.5 feet radius makes for some off shapes. Making the increase based on radius would have been much more elegant. The second rune makes the lantern behave as a masterwork “light flail”, which can be temporarily enchanted with scaling bonuses, but no unique special weapon qualities. RAW, this bonus can also exceed the +5 cap, which is not how this type of thing usually works. This has a couple of issues. One: There is no “light flail” – it’s either “flail” or “heavy flail”. Or dire flail. Or flailpole. But not “light flail.” Two: RAW, the “light” flail (i.e. the non-heavy one) is a martial weapon, for which the hermit has no proficiency. The next rune grants an untyped, scaling bonus to all saves for allies in the light. It lacks an activation action. The final rune is the inverse, debuff version – but it’s missing its activation action as well.

2nd level nets endurance, 3rd level nets “withdraw” (not the smartest choice for the ability, considering the withdraw action), which acts as 3 + Wis-mod sanctuary per day, with ½ CL added to the DC (WUT??) It also nets + Wisdom mod AC when using the ability. 9th level nets commune as a supernatural variant, with 13th and 17th level increasing the number of questions he can answer per day. At 1st and 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the hermit gets to choose an illumination, which are governed by Int, and which include a +4 Disguise and Bluff bonus to pass off as older, a thousand faces starting at 14th level. There is an illumination that adds the Wisdom modifier a second time to AC when using withdraw. Cool: Getting a bonus to saves versus breathable hazards via filtering, unkempt hair. Weird: The internal balance of these can come off as strange. There is one illumination that nets +1/2 class level to Sense Motive, Diplomacy and Knowledge check DC to learn about the hermit; there also is one that nets +2 to two skills. Another illumination nets new spells or a metamagic bonus feat or a limited array of witch hexes. Immunities are properly situated behind sufficient levels. Weird: Adding 1d4 piercing damage to touch attacks. That’s not how fingernails or the like usually work in PFRPG. All in all, some cool visuals, but also some guffaws. The selection could be longer as well, considering the amount of illuminations the class gets.

The capstone allows the class to expend a spellslot as a swift or immediate action to grant herself a bonus equal to the spell’s level to a Wisdom-based check. The capstone also nets permanent true seeing and sight in perfect darkness. The pdf includes 4 class feats: Additional illumination does what it says on the tin. Become the Dim World nets 50% concealment when using the withdraw class feature, further adding to the vast power of that trick. Born on a Monday nets +2 to social interactions with fey and increases starting attitude to indifferent or better. Legacy of Diogenes sounds cool, but, alas, does not really represent one of the famous exploits of the man, but jus represents a numeric escalation.

Nice: We get a list of magical illumination sources as well as a magic lantern that nets detect illusion once per day and once per night. It also is utterly broken: The limited spellcasting of the class regarding availability is removed here – this one makes the WHOLE spell-lists of druid and witch available. For less than 10K price. Either stick to the limit, or don’t. An item should not be practically required/so good it MUST be taken by every hermit. The pdf closes with a massive list of favored class options, which cover the core races, less common ones and Porphyran races. There is some overlap between the individual FCOs and they vary in usefulness – more spells or withdraw-duration, for example, are more potent than other tricks here.

The pdf comes with a bonus file that includes the CR 5 Chingatrüll, which was also featured in Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the class has some issues in the design. Not to the extent where it becomes unusable, but to an extent where it becomes problematic. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artworks apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingworth’s Hermit has the makings of a cool class. The idea here is strong – the old hermit, with ragged hair and lantern illuminating, quite literally, the dark in the world….or luring it. I like the theme here. While the withdraw-DC-increase is overkill, it’s limited in its uses, so that’s a plus of sorts. That being said, the hermit could have really used more unique illuminations. Similarly, the lantern BEGS to be used to modify the area of effect of spells and hexes and abilities – instead, it amounts to an object-familiar-substitute. Speaking of objects – the magic lantern that delimits the balancing factor for the spell-list flexibility of the class should die in a blaze. This one is frustrating, fr it has the potential to become outstanding – the spell-engine is interesting and the lantern-idea, half-implemented though it may be, could carry so much more. I can’t rate that potential, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: The Hermit
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