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Legendary Classes: Sacredote
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 03:40:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page blank, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The sacredote base class presented herein gets d6 HD, 2+Int skills, proficiency with dagger, club, hanbo, quarterstaff and no armors - sacerdotes in armor risk arcane spell failure for divine spells when wearing armor/using shields. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves. A sacerdote casts prepared divine spells governed by Wisdom as casting attribute from the cleric's spell-list. He may not cast spells from opposed alignments, as usual - however, here's the catch: They have a second spell-list, based on domains: Sacerdotes add 5 domains together from their patron deity/deities and generate a domain spell-list: They gain as many spells from these domains as from regular spellcasting. And no, thankfully, they don't get domain powers from all of the domains. PrC-wise, sacerdotes only benefit from spellcasting progression that extends to all spellcasting, not from those that exclusively apply to divine spellcasting. At 3rd level and every 4th level beyond, the sacerdote receives a bonus feat chosen from metamagic feats, item creation feats and wrath feats - more on those later.


As the more theoretical divine caster, a sacerdote receives Intelligence modifier in addition to the usual attribute used on attack rolls with spells or divine wrath rays, not extending this benefit to e.g. spell-supported attacks like attacking with a magic weapon. Additionally, they may treat spells with a range of touch as though they had a range of 5ft. times class level, using Dex-mod to calculate attack bonus in conjunction with Int for such touch attacks. On misses, the charge cannot be held, just fyi. And yes, the class is smart enough to restrict this ability exclusively to spells granted from the sacerdote class.


Now I mentioned divine wrath - this would be an SP-signature ability of the class: As a standard action that provokes AoOs, sacerdotes may sacrifice a spell f level one or higher and unleashes a burst of divine energy that deals untyped damage (and doesn't damage constructs and objects) equal to 1d6 per spell level sacrificed, +1d6 at 2nd level and every even level thereafter. (At 4th level, divine wrath would hence deal spell level times d6 + 2d6 damage.) This is treated as a spell equal to the level of the sacrificed spell for purposes of counterspelling. Divine wrath can be manifested as either a 20-ft.-cone burst with a Will save DC of 10 + spell level sacrificed + Int-mod for half damage. The ranged touch attack ray has a range of medium (100 ft + 10 ft. per level) and offers no save, but targets, obviously only one creature. This, like spellcasting, requires the divine focus and it counts as channel energy for purposes of haunts, contingencies etc. - nice catch there.


Starting at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the sacerdote gets a manifestation, which allows the sacerdote to modify the divine wrath to generate lines, forked rays, cylinders, etc. and evena snake line. The class also sports a bunch of favored class options that cover not only base races, but also Porphyran races like the dragonblooded or exotic choices like the samsaran. We also get a CR 10 sample furnace elf sacerdote.


Archetype-wise, the class also receives some options, first of which would be the augur: These guys have a similar chassis as the sacerdote, but get a modified spell-list, the exclusive augury domain and no divine wrath - instead, they may at long range, as an immediate action, twist fate, allowing the augur to expend spells to add their level (capping at Int-bonus) to the result of a check, even after the results are made known. Starting at 8h level, augurs may instead also penalize creatures. They gain bonus feats at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. They may also recast divinations yielding unfavorable results, even when that would usually be prohibited. At 12th level, he can 1/day use good omen sans it being an action (2/day at 20th level) and level 16, groups of people requiring concerted effort can benefit from good omens, for as long as the checks happen in the same round. The sample augur provided is an augur at CR 6.


The pdf also provides a druidic version of the sacerdote: These guys get light armor and a limited domain selection, but they do modify the spell list with a list of at least 2 spells per level that can be spontaneously cast. They add Int-mod to natural attacks and may also spontaneously convert spells into summon nature's ally. Wild empathy is of course also part of the deal. The passive abilities like resist nature's lure, venom immunity, timeless body etc. can be found as well. The sample character provided is an atheling at CR 4.


After this one, we also get an elemental-themed sacerdote - with elemental domains, obviously. Instead of the regular divine wrath, these guys can channel energies as blasts and the elemental wrath can be resisted via Ref-saves saves. These guys gain Placate Outsiders at 2nd level. Now the interesting thing from a design perspective: The fewer energy types you have access to, the more scaling resistance you gain to the energy associated with your domains - this value also determines the amount of energy resistance the elemental wrath can bypass. Interesting set-up. The sample character would be a CR 6 half-cyclops.


The invoker would be the summoning specialist herein - with quicker summons, and spontaneous conversion into summoning spells, with available creatures being determined by the domains chosen. Slightly problematic - for summons of usually a casting duration of 1 round, the class should specify the actions available for the summoned creature in the round they are conjured forth. Also interesting - the creature type determined by the domains can also be targeted with an AoE charm/dominate-like effect...but one tied to your HD. The sample character provided clocks in at CR 6.


The healing sacerdote receives a positive energy-based healing variant of divine wrath, aptly called divine weal: This can take two forms, a 40 ft.-cone or the medium range ray that only affects a single target, but always cures the maximum amount. The ability heals 1d6 per spell level converted, +1d6 at 4th level, with every 4 levels thereafter increasing that amount by +1d6. Non-damaging wrath feats may be used in conjunction with this ability. Unsurprisingly, this variant needs to take the Healing domain. They also get +Int-mod to CL-checks to remove a harmful effect or condition with magic such as break enchantment et al. and alsoincreases touch spell range to 5 ft. times Int-mod, using Dex-mod to calculate atk. At 2nd level, these guys may channel mercy and basically add mercy-like condition-removers, with up to 5 conditions removed in one go. 5th level allows for either the application of aforementioned mercies or to gain treat rolled 1s as 6s when using divine weal. Healing sacerdotes get a manifestation at 9th, 13th and 17th level, and it affects divine weal instead of divine wrath, obviously. The sample character clocks in at CR 10.


Proselytizers are basically a Cha-based variant of the standard sacerdote that is locked into the Community domain. At 3rd level, the class gets Selective Wrath as a bonus feat, but at 5th level and every 2 levels thereafter, he may exclude an additional creature from the effects of divine wrath. At 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, proselytizers may choose bonus feats (metamagic, item creation, wrath) instead of manifestations. At 7th level, allies excluded from selective wrath gain a new Will-save versus ongoing effects that allow a saving throw, possibly shaking the effect off. Here, the ability is probably a bit wonky - I'm pretty sure this is supposed to only apply to Will-save based effects, but as written, it allows people to shake off ongoing Ref- and Fort-based effects, which would be odd indeed...and render the level 11 ability, which does that for Fort- and Ref-saves obsolete. At 15th level, excluded allies also gain 1 temporary hit point per die of damage of divine wrath. 19th level is brutal: Allies affected by the wrath may take a move or standard action as an immediate action. The sample character is a CR 4 geralite.


The spirit sacerdote is the first of these variants/archetypes that doesn't have its own class table (so yes, the above are pretty complex modifications of the class) and also is governed by Cha and pretty unique: They can change domains by negotiating with creatures, spirits, even the dead, a massive table providing monster types and correlating them to domains - a lot of roleplaying potential here! The sample character clocks in at CR 8.


The theurgist as no access to domains...but can learn ALL domain spells, even opposing alignment domains...but only the spells. Theurgists cast arcane spells. The arcane wrath of the theurgist requires no focus, which is a bit problematic - no disarm or similar tricks will help here. These guys have a cleric spellbook and a domain spellbook. Each level, the theurgist gets +2 cleric spells and 2 new domain spells for free and may learn spells like a wizard. The sample character clocks in at CR 8.


The pdf closes with over 20 feats, most of which belong to the [wrath]-category - these include DC-increases for divine wrath, multiple feats that allow you to placate other types of creatures (like animals, aberrations...you get the idea), gain an extra manifestation...etc. Heightening divine wrath's DC by using it as a full-round action instead is VERY powerful and something I'd nerf. Similarly, there's a save or suck (you won't save) feat that deals no damage to constructs...but dazes them for damage die rounds...considering the crappy Will-saves of constructs a powerful lock-down. Speaking of OP: There is a feat that lets you heal via divine wrath...which means you'll be better at healing raw HP than the Healing archetype (who gets half the bonus die scaling that the damaging version gets). Granted, you can't take away those negative conditions...but still.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good - while not always internally consistent (third vs. 3rd), the book, as a whole, is well-crafted, with precise rules-language and only a precious few hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard with some niece pieces of full color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Carl Cramér's Sacerdotes (with additional design by Julian Neale and Mark Gedak) are interesting in that they leave me pretty torn. On the one hand, I actually really enjoy this take on the armor-less divine caster/holy man. The complex domain-tricks and variants are pretty awesome, with divine wrath's power being dependant on spells making for an interesting resource-management game. The fragility of the class is pretty important, and, while it looks brutal on paper, in game, the sacerdote and its variants mean one thing: KILL THEM FIRST. More so than clerics and druids, games with sacerdotes should be aware of the fact that these guys can dish out tons of damage...and heal even more in the case of the healer. Similarly, the invoker can pretty much go all Master Summoner on the table and drown foes in summoned creatures. That is, foes should know in-game to attack these guys like crazy - the fact that they can extend touch spells to range, limited though that may be, also means that they can provide healing more reliably sans getting into danger. When they do end up adjacent to any halfway decent attacker, though, they fold like wet tissues.


In playtest, these characters did yield a surprising result: When they worked, they owned the table - a healing sacerdote, for example, can maintain a front-line of melee barbarians in a manner most fearsome and lets a group withstand tremendous amounts of punishment...but at the same time, they could be squashed very easily. I managed to one-hit the guy. MAD is also used in a rather smart manner to reign these guys in.


The base sacerdote's restrictions are interesting and while I still prefer Interjection Games' ethermagic for warlock-y gaming, for divine blasters, these guys are interesting - though I have to warn against one component, particularly in mid-to high level gaming: Divine wrath is UNTYPED and not subject to SR. There is literally no way to reliably guard against this - even negative energy has a few creatures that are immune/resist it...so I'd very much recommend making this a classic damage type. Similarly, if you had issues with summon-spams in the past, the invoker will exacerbate the issue of creature-spamming. Still, overall, that makes for options that may not be perfect...but neither are they automatically problematic. Being able to learn ALL DOMAINS and the theurgist's arcane wrath feel a bit ill-conceived - the more domains you allow, the worse it gets. The means to extend touch spells to range should imho be restricted to cure/inflict-spells - on its own, that would already be VERY strong; with all the others...well...ouch.


Still, as a whole, I like he frame, if not all the precise details.


Where things get rather wonky would be the feats: The increased DC is VERY strong; Being able to potentially outheal the healing variant of the class for one measly feat is similarly baffling. On the other hand, the placate feats sport some cool ideas (a turn-like one for undead, for example), but vary in efficiency. The fact that you can get significant control over divine wrath AND increase the DC significantly means that you'll consider the ability ultimately much more useful and versatile than channel energy. This pdf, in a nutshell, offers some generally well-crafted options in the upper power-echelons. It imho could have used a bit more streamlining and nerfing and has some bits that can become problematic.


In a nut-shell, the sacerdote has awesome blasting, many spells, (broken) powerful healing (broken if you take the feat...)...and still is about as durable as a wet paper towel. On one hand, this class is arguably OP and gets too much out of being a bad BAB-class - for the nerf, they get more spells, ranged healing (already insanely powerful on its own, even with short range) and then add the superb blasting to the fray. In my playtest, I could take sacerdotes down, sure - but I had to do so...fast.


On the other hand, the framework and system presented here is neat, fun and lends itself to easy modification. Still, I can't just rate this on potential and have to rate it for what it presents, no matter how easily one could fix the hiccups and retune the balancing issues. As much as I like this book, I think it does overshoot the target significantly. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars - if you think you can fix the aforementioned balance-issues or have a high-powered game, round up; otherwise, round down. For the purpose of this platform, I will round up due to in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Sacredote
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Ultimate Relationships
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 03:34:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition


This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page table-index, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We've all been there - a key-NPC just is more interesting to the players than a given module anticipated - whether as for romantic interests or just for the purpose of being buddies, the social component of interaction between characters is pretty much a component often neglected in PFRPG. Now this pdf provides a concise, no-frills base system to track how players and NPCs interact with one another. Basically, relationships are codified in 10 ranks, with rank 4, 7 and 10 being milestones. the default rank is 0, with 1 representing a basic alliance. Much like what happens behind the scenes with videogames from Mass Effect to The Walking Dead, these relationships are codified via the tracking of camaraderie points.


When a PC acts in concordance with a specific NPC, the PC gets 1 - 2 camaraderie points, with contrary actions potentially decreasing relationships. Whenever a PC levels up, he can assign 2 camaraderie points to assign to an NPC to represent the PC spending extra time with that NPC. Camaraderie starts at 0 for each new rank, but ranks are NOT lost due to camaraderie-loss - instead, the PC suffers a penalty according to negative camaraderie points. The higher the rank, the more camaraderie points one requires to rank up. Once the PC has accumulated enough camaraderie points to rank up, a talk is required, potentially also requiring a skill check or more. Failing to rank up does provide bonuses to future checks, so, much like in the Persona games, your relationships will not stagnate. Finally, there would be the component of affinities - essentially a representation on how a character interacts with a PC depending on diverse circumstances: A xenophobic dwarf may, for example, be a tough nut to crack for your elven character, while other dwarves find establishing a connection easier.


There also are so-called milestones (on the nit-picky side - the first reference to them points towards page XX, instead of the correct page-number) - one can determine these via providing about 5 per AP-book, with each providing different qualities of the interactions and gifts via a solid table of DCs - craftsmanship and repetition of such acts determine the target DC of these interactions to get camaraderie points. Rivalries are also covered in these contexts. A PC with a campaign-specific trait begins with a chosen NPC at rank 2, with +2 points towards rank 3.


Ranks achieved also net the PC XP-rewards and additionally, NPCs and PCs may actually end up with tangible, rules-relevant benefits from better relationships. EDIT: The system, generally, remains untouched, though the revised edition does offer a couple of subtle changes - for one, the pdf now provides advice for using these rules beyond the frame of the 6-book-AP-structure, with the imho most important change now being that the pdf does provide an easy formula you can use with e.g. mega-adventures and similar, different set-ups - yes, including downtime. Additionally, advice on affinity, for example, has been provided. Finally, the pdf mentions the possibility of redemption paths of evil characters in the future...interesting!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to legendary Games' beautiful full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf provides a solid array of nice full-color artworks.


Mark Seifter's relationship system per se is absolutely awesome and at 2 bucks, very affordable to boot. At this length, I did not expect fully fleshed out relationships herein, but I do believe that this pdf would have didactically benefited from one or two sample relationships to illustrate the system in game - if you want the examples, check out Imperial Relationships or the Ultimate Relationships-series. This is the nitpick-category of complaining, though.


Significantly more important, for my purposes at least, is the fact that this revised edition does offer rules for non-6-book-AP-relationships, which basically renders the revised edition universally useful as opposed to the self-imposed restrictions of the earlier formula. This instantly catapults this inexpensive, cool pdf to a new final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Relationships
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Village Backdrop: Wellswood System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2016 03:31:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


In this installment of Raging Swan Press' by now legendary series, we travel to the village of Wellswood - which is aptly-named: Situated in the midst of a gorgeous forest, the settlement sports numerous wells - both natural ones and those crafted by dwarven hands, for the settlement sports a significant dwarven population, who faithfully serves the local dour and somewhat greedy, but none too unpleasant lord Ilmari Issakainen.


The uncommon occurrence of a forest-bound dwarven clan also results in a surprising amount of fortified stone buildings jutting forth from the massive forest. While secure, the rather significant taxes imposed are not to be trifled with, though merchants and travelers won't have too much of a problem paying them. No less than three inns (all coming with information on accommodation-prices and food) are detailed within these pages, as befitting of a village under the auspice of a church of travelers - which btw. includes a brief deity-write-up. Industry-wise, the local lake with its fishing (requiring permission of the lord...which is, again, taxed) is based mostly on the massive influx of travelers passing through.


Oh, but I've failed to mention the interesting component here: You see, aforementioned lake, much like the hold of the dwarven clan, is subterranean and heavily regulated - though that does not mean that there are no means of getting down there sans the lord knowing...if you know whom to ask. Yes, the subterranean lake actually writes adventures of itself, considering the plethora of potential dangers there and the mere presence of it makes a potentially cataclysmic earthquake all the more dangerous - so yes, plenty of development options are provided here, from the local color (the village sports notes on nomenclature, clothing, magic items for sale etc.) to more massive storylines - after all, there is a reason the dwarves are here - but to know that, you'll have to travel to Wellswood yourself!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out and sports a great artwork of a fishing trip on the subterranean lake.


Creighton Broadhurst's Wellswood is a compelling settlement that manages to strike a precarious balance: On the one hand, it is a pretty pleasant place that, in itself, is not yet an adventure and the lack of a central conflict means that you don't have a streamlined narrative cut out for you. However, unlike many a supplement with such a broad focus, Wellswood still manages to retain a sense of holistic integrity, a feeling of concise options, ready to be explored at any time. From politics to potential threats, whether as just a waystation or as a new home for the PCs, the village manages to support and accommodate threats both significant and trivial. While the supplement does not achieve the highest echelons of the series, it remains an excellent book that does offer a significant, tight array of interesting options for GMs and players to explore and, more important, a tight and unique place to visit. The system-neutral version loses nothing of the brilliance that made me love the original iteration - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Wellswood System Neutral Edition
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End of Autumn
Publisher: Murder of Crows Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2016 06:05:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf is 35 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 1 blank page, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS, thus potential players are advised to jump to the conclusion.


All right, still here?
The Wandering River area into which the PCs stumble makes one thing relatively clear – they’re in for trouble, as ominous mists are rising and no matter how well they fare survival-wise, they always seem to end up in the same location again. Healing magic seems to be impeded in certain areas as well. Sounds familiar? Well get this – the area, suffused by dark magic and tragedy, is about to be drawn into becoming a full-blown domain of dread.


Yeah. DMs like yours truly started smiling exactly upon reading that, for this module is shamelessly and unabashedly a Ravenloft-module in everything but IP-protected name and as such comes with weird details as well as a creepy children’s rhyme make sure that the module manages to actually convey a slowly rising sense of terror and dread, something only scarcely seen in modules nowadays that all too often focus on blunt-force horror. All Hallow’s Eve draws near and with it, the decision whether the PCs and the whole region are sucked to the domains o dread.


I mentioned a tragedy and it is what lies in the past of the small town River’s Edge that is directly responsible for the terrible fate that is about to befall the region. Where once, druidic old sacred stones held the encroaching mists of the Demiplane of Dread at bay, a misguided cleric of a radical religion (the Lightbringer – easily inserted into just about any setting), one lord Theodon, toppled several of these stones with his fanatics.
While his life has ended many moons ago, his spirit yet wanders, impossible to vanquish, these lands, ready to become the Dark Lord of the area. In order to avert this dread fate, the PCs need to decipher the insane ramblings of the last senile member of the old faith as well as cryptic clues of the benevolent spirit only known as Autumn Lady, and determine the location of the right sacred stones and re-erect them – all while the clock is ticking and All Hallow’s Eve draws closer.
In order to succeed, the PCs have to properly research the location of the correct stones from the archives and aforementioned insane ramblings as well as manage to survive – for both the spirit of Theodon and ghostly hounds will start hunting the PCs, essentially immortal and rejuvenating as long as the dread grip of the mists has not been broken. As soon as they show up, the module switches mood from a rising suspension of subtle horror to one of desperation and a run against the clock – when the PCs finally encounter the spirit in the tunnels that contain the last of the stones, they will have been sorely tested.


The pdf provides a total of 9 pages of battle-mat-style, grid-studded maps in full color and 1 page b/w player map of the area.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and the pdf has a full color background, which renders the pdf slightly less user-friendly than necessary. Out of some weird reason, the statblocks adhere to a one-column standard and the statblocks, while adhering to standard formatting, lack bold print etc., making them harder to read than necessary. The maps are ok, but nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, the pdf has no bookmarks, which serves a quite a detrimental factor.


Oh boy. End of Autumn gets Ravenloft and proper Gothic Horror more than any self-proclaimed homage I've read. The mood, the characters, the slow build-up and its deserving pay-off – all those conspire to make this module by Jeremy Cusker, writing-wise, to rank as a stellar example of its craft and a must-have for fans of Ravenloft. But not all is well – whether it’s the not particularly compelling font, the lack of bookmarks or the statblock presentation – layout-wise, the module suffers from some beginner’s glitches that detract from its appeal.


Most detracting, though, is the unfortunate brevity of the module – a proper detailing of the town of River’s End, more encounters that are not directly tied to the story, a red herring or two – and this would be a superb example of the art of adventure-crafting. As presented, it unfortunately falls a bit flat in these regards.


That being said, if you’re a fan of Ravenloft (or atmospheric, dark modules that don’t rely on an overabundance of gore) and if you can see past the less than pleasant presentation, this still might be a 4.5 or 5-star file for you, in spite of the module’s relative brevity. As a reviewer, though, no matter how well this suits my tastes, I’ll have to take these issues into account. If the presentation/brevity bug you, then this pdf would be a 3.5 or 3 star file for you. In the end, my final verdict thus shall be between both and clock in as a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
End of Autumn
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Gonzo 2
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2016 02:47:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This book clocks in at 419 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with...414 pages of content.


...


..


WTF, 419-pages?? Seriously, I had various iterations of the playtest-doc since last year. It's the only reason you're seeing this review NOW. This has been moved forward on my review-queue as a prioritized review...and doing so was smart, for this book has been in circulation among playtest classes for more than a few months This is seriously the biggest book of CRUNCH I have ever reviewed, even taking the one-column layout into account...and it would completely break my format. So how to review this?


All right, let's establish some standards, shall we? I am not going to go into an in-depth analysis break-down of each ability, since that would bloat this review to an extent that helps no one. Instead, I will give you a brief class-by-class breakdown and then provide my general assessment of it, all right? Great!


The architect is a 3/4 BAB-progression class with a good Will saving-throw, d8 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. These guys let you create towers based on environments present, with a scaling number of active towers at a given time. He may also choose to summon improved versions at 5th level - these count as two towers active. Towers are created as a standard actions and have different base stats depending on resources used in construction. Beyond that, they have a mobile weapon's platform. Gravity-towers, elemental towers...quite a lot of types are provided and the class has 3 capstone super-towers...though presentation here is slightly inconsistent - the table erroneously calls these "citadel cannon" instead of grand tower and one of them has a somewhat not really required reference to a tower being only a possible choice at 20th level - which already is the case for the whole category and makes the presentation slightly more confusing. The titan archetype is a full BAB one and uses towers to supplement his increasingly mechanical body and gaining size and towers to be added to the body - complex and unique.


The atomic adept is a 3/4 BAB class with a good Fortitude saving throw, d8 HD, 4 + Int skill points, and 6th level casting - with a unique twist: While the class has an extremely small Int-governed spell list, they are defined by radiation: These guys are kinda like warlock-y type of blasters, with scaling rays that inflict radiation damage (treated like negative energy, minus option to heal undead). Here's the interesting component, though: These blasts can only be performed safely a number of times per day; any blast thereafter inflicts double the amount of rads on the atomic adept. Spells also influence the rad count with a somewhat chaotic chance of incurring a meltdown against himself. The higher the rad count a creature has, the more severe the negative conditions incurred, with rest, spells etc. being capable of reducing rad-count. Sufficient natural or regular armor also reduces rads incurred. This class is odd - there are VERY powerful talents that let you gain full progression for the blasts, for example...but at the same time, you may inflict this damage upon yourself when suffering a meltdown...and while the class has not the finesse of e.g. the Interjection Games ethermagic-system, the overall balancing of the class is interesting in that it can pull off a lot of powerful blasts, but is very limited in their function. Personally, I gravitate to more customization, though I do believe that the rad-system has a lot to offer - via other classes and expansions, there is a ton of potential here. That, and I do like the chaotic nature of spellcasting here. The mad bomber replaces nuclear strike with radiation damage dealing bombs as an alchemist - which may, due to the daily limit of bombs, be more suitable for less high-powered games...though there is some issue regarding blowing all bombs at once. If the bombs were intended to not have a daily cap, then this needs some balance-finetuning - unlimited bombs = better damage output than the base class. Overall my least favorite class in the book and the one I can see having the most issues.


The battle butler (or battle maid) is a full BAB class with good Reflex- and Will- saves, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points that treats expensive clothes as armor. They specialize in Dex-based and are somewhat bodygaurd-ish, choosing a creature as their contract and defending them. More become available at higher levels they can select more people. Unlike many full BAB-classes, they have a bunch of non-combat utility tricks, including massages that can get rid of exhaustion/heal attribute damage. And yes, the ability has anti-abuse caveats. What about perfect memory? The interesting component with the class would be the service meter - this meter fluctuates when the master is struck and oscillates between providing bonuses (or penalty) to critical hit confirmation rolls and damage bonuses - the interesting component here is that the class gets damage-bonuses when they also have penalties to critical confirmation rolls. The table and system are simple and play rather interestingly. The class also features the new butler weapon group and several appropriately-themed weapons. This will make a whole lot of Otakus very happy! If you haven't noticed, btw.: The battle butler does undergo a rigid conditioning - and sometimes, something goes wrong - cue in the rapscallion archetype, who begin with empty service meters, but may exert more control over them.


The chessmaster gets 3/4 BAB-progression with good Reflex and Will saves, d8 HD, and 8 + Int skill points. They utilize edge points gained in combat and skill challenges and providing advice to allies actually yields results - the perfect class for all the "I know better than you where to place your character on the grid"-type of players...and providing bonuses makes listening, for once, viable and also gain edge points when their suggestion is carried out. These points they can use to return the favor by giving that action a boost via edge points- and yes, this may actually result in proper teamwork. They also get the option to set-up gambits, with prereqs, costs, triggers and effects - higher levels unlock new gambits and allow for new customizations of old ones. Interesting: At higher levels, the chessmaster can provvide advice to the enemies - when the enemy follows the advice, the chessmaster gains edge points; if not, the chessmaster can penalize him. Very interesting mastermind/tactician-style class. The trickster archetype swaps two abilities and replaces plans and coordination with a limited spell list.


The chimney sweep is a full BAB class with good Fortitude- and Reflex-saves, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. They gain soot points via chimney sweeping, which they can use to create concealment at first, and gain other benefits at higher levels. They can see through fog, mist, and soot without penalty, and gain various tricks based on soot - generally, think of these guys as polearm/concealment fighters and soot-point based bonus precision damage. Okay, but very limited specialist.


The croupier gets full BAB-progression with a good Reflex and Will save, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. The croupier receives the Sense, which makes hostile attacks of ever-increasing natural attack rolls fail - e.g. natural 2s. When a foe misses him, he gains Sense points, which may then be expended to modify e.g. d20 rolls: Think of the mechanic as somewhat akin to a Charisma-based version of grit, but based on being missed. Additionally, weapons like pool cues and cards are part of the deal - and important: The class can conjure forth cards and throw them at foes, with the suits becoming relevant when chosen via one of the class's talents - with e.g. hearts offering healing, clubs debuffs, etc. Billiard-based combat tricks and chaotic firearm use or limited bardic abilities complement a chaotic, but interesting class. Archetype-wise, the cheater can use his tricks to influence the rolls of others - basically, the more misfortune-themed variant of the class. The second archetype, the pool shark, would be the specialist who manifests a cue ball of force energy, usable in conjunction with a couple of unique rounder talents...including a mechanically novel crazy eight ball that may suddenly change course...


The davatti gains full BAB-progression and good Fortitude- and Reflex-save-progression, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. The interesting point here being that they can move 4-dimensionally - in the directions of ana and kata - to illustrate the concept for 3D-thinking: Imagine you're a denizen of Flatland (2D) and can move into the depth or height of your world - 4D-movement works similarly, but obviously lacks as poignant an illustration since our own perception is attuned to 3D. Mechanics-wise, this class can be summed up as the perfect skirmisher - since they can short-burst teleport/4D-move to just about any space, they are supremely agile and make hit and run tactics pretty awesome; since their4D-movement is still restricted by movement-type, this movement can't be cheesed. Also truly intriguing: Non-4D movement charges their "manabar", i.e. the points they can expend to modify their tricks via talents and the like. That's not all, however - the class also sports a highly customizable "nth blade", which interacts in some instances with these mechanics - basically, we get a skirmisher with a highly customizable blade type. Pretty impressive class! The archetype for this class provided would be the deja-vin - instead of using their powers to phase around, these guys can try to force creatures to repeat their previous actions to the best of their abilities, including, obviously, modified warp talents.


The dynamancer gets full BAB-progression and a good Will saving throw, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. Inspired by Gurren Lagann et al., they can fire beams of love...that deal love damage. Evil foes take more damage from this, but have an easier time saving against it. The interesting component, here, is momentum - being hit (or hitting a foe) grants the class momentum, while it also may expend said points...and even go negative, incurring penalties for doing so. And no, can't be cheesed/kitten'd. In combat, the class has a BAB that is different from the listed amount, clocking in at CR of the opponent, with class level +3 (later: class level +5) being the caps. Aforementioned love ray can be supplemented and expanded upon over the levels to result in compulsions and signature styles (including gender fluidity of those hit or breakdancing). Additionally, the gain handicaps, which allow for different uses of momentum - blind dynamancers can spend momentum to gain blindsight for a limited time-frame, for example. They also get an aura at higher levels that prevents creatures with a low Charisma from approaching them and a sufficiently whacky capstone. Archetype-wise, there is a somewhat tactician-y one, the greaser, who may lend signature styles to allies, for example.


The guide has 1/2 BAB-progression, good Reflex and Will saves, d4 HD (no, you have not misread!), and 8 + Int skill points. Have you seen the infamously stupid D&D cartoon and thought the GM as a character was a good idea? Have you ever played Ocarina of Time and NOT wanted to bash Navi's wispy bauble to smithereens? Well, there are guides. Guides serve the Storyteller, who prefers happy endings and thus sends out these fellows to guide heroes. Hence the name. These guides can change into tiny bubbles (with elemental traits) - even though the text confusingly once states that their form is diminutive and can basically provide all those support tricks: Mage Hand, Knock, high-level limited wishes, 1/day raise dead at the cost of being reduced to -1 HP, swift/immediate action cures - think of these guys as the support globe that hopefully isn't as annoying as the more infamous rendition in video games. Balance-wise, these guys are very fragile and their limited offense capabilities make them an uncommon playing experience. Unassisted flight at 1st level may prove to be problematic for some campaigns, though admittedly, the fragility of the class does help here a bit - a few well-placed arrows and you had a guide... One note: At 2nd level, these guys may cast magic missile at will, providing an easy and convenient way for very reliable damage. Depending on the precise nature of your campaign, this could prove to be an issue, thought it won't be in most. Fairy godmothers replace bauble form and some tricks with Cha-based spellcasting from the cleric's list and generally is a significant change of the feeling of the class.


The henchling gets full BAB-progression and good Fortitude saves, as well as d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points per level. The class is pretty ingenious in that it takes the old "who carries the loot"-discussion and puts an end to it: These guys do. Not penalized by encumbrance, they are superb at carrying huge amounts of gear...and actually benefit from it: You see, the primary weapon of these guys is the pack - basically, they can enchant their back packs, bags or the like and are particularly adept at bludgeoning foes to death with all the loot gathered. Interesting: Melee splash damage...and yes, you actually WANT to carry around increasing amounts of gear, since the higher your level, the higher the bonus damage for progressively higher weights carried around will be. Damn cool idea and uncomplicated, easy to grasp execution. Archetype-wise, the merchant, a rather complex one, can provide a significant number of quality of life improvements and the option to ferret out rewards for things/foes defeated is interesting as well.


The henshin hero is a full BAB class and has good Fortitude- and Will-save-progression, d10 HD, and gets 4 + Int skill points per level. These guys have a trinket à la Power Rangers that allows them to assume a special form a limited amount of rounds per day; while thus transformed, they gain tension points for passing rounds and defeated foes. These points act as a resource to power special tricks, including enhancers to the bonus damage-dealing finishers. The talents of the class include mounts, better action economy, explosive finishers and transformations - the whole array of tricks you know from the genre. Beyond the modularity this framework offers, the henshin hero also may choose one from a metric ton of leitmotifs, which cover bases from space to the alignment axes - these basically act as somewhat order-like/bloodline-like ability-suites that unlock new tricks at higher levels and provide modifications of the aforementioned finisher moves. Morph rangers are, obviously, more teamwork focused.


The magical girl gets 3/4-BAB-progression, good Fortitude- and Will-saves, d8 HD, 4 + Int skill points, and 6th level Cha-based spontaneous spellcasting. Magical girls are a hybrid between the henshin hero and the magus classes, and thus also gain a transformation as well the ability to gain and use tension, with finishers being untyped damage-blasts. Her motif acts more like a witch's patron, essentially a list of bonus spells. They also gain spell combat and some magical girl powers that blend magus arcana and hero powers and may expend transformation rounds to power spellcasting or dispel effects. Interesting: They can modify their finisher to work as AoE- basically, Sailor Moon, the class. The magical girl and henshin hero may btw. modify their trinkets via the empathetic device archetype to make their defining trinkets slightly sentient. Fused heroes, in the meantime, do not have such trinkets at all, working via different attributes and gaining a unique overdrive state, which can prove to be rather risky.


The monster cowboy gets full BAB and good Fortitude- and Reflex-saves, d10 HD, and 6 + Int skill points. They gain the gunslinger's gunsmith ability and, more importantly, a monstrous companion that acts like an animal companion (though the list is expanded to include e.g. gorgons, hydras or shambling mounds...), and gain the ability to ride pretty much anything you can imagine: With the exception of humanoids, incorporeal undead and oozes - even if they're not willing. While initially, this is done mainly to hassle the foes and gain advantages over them, things change once steel points enter the fray; these can be used to attempt to force creatures into submission via Handle Animal checks, though it is a mind-affecting effect. Beyond SPs gained by brands and the subversion of the will of branded foes, these guys They also have the ability to perform extra tricks with lassos and nets. Monstrous mount-choices, obviously, are part of the class presentation, though I really would have loved to see a pseudo-Chocobo here...oh well...riding owlbears is pretty awesome. And FYI: Since riding fellow adventurers doesn't really help the class, it thankfully steers clear of the minefield that is one PC riding another...


The multiman gets 3/4 BAB-progression and a good Reflex save, d8 HD, and measly 2 + Int skill points. Their main ability is creating clones - at first 1 at a given time, later up to 4. Clones are created as a swift action 4/day, +1/day for each class level, lasting for class level rounds, minimum 3. Clones are restricted in the actions they can perform and observant adversaries may pick out the prime multiman. Clones are rather fragile to begin with and draw upon a collective pool of resources. Impressive: The disarm/item-duplication-cheese options are covered. The class becomes more interesting pretty fast, with customizable clones (e.g. remote-detonation clones or ones that fly/are invisible) providing options via two separate suits of talents. Oh, and obviously, the class also gets some serious teamwork-vibes going on. Archetype-wise, the mitotic man is similar yet different, splitting off clones by mitosis, with consecutively powerful ooze traits gained instead of mirror manipulations. I am a bit weary of these guys, but then again, the visuals are glorious.


Class number 15, The phantom thief, gets 3/4 BAB-progression with good Reflex- and Will- saves, d8 HD, 6 + Int skill points, and 6th-level spontaneous Cha-based spellcasting. Billed as a hybrid of the rogue and the bard they also get a pool of panache, the ability to fight more effectively in light or no armor, and the ability to spend panache to sneak attack. They later gain a number of tricks to allow them to steal various non-physical things, amongst other abilities. The class has the crazy prepared option among the talents (which works well and can't be cheesed, though it lacks the "no-specific-key" caveat)...and can steal abstract concepts - from memories to attitudes, these guys come off as the mythic tricksters with a slight touch of the magical. If you're familiar with a lot of 3pp-books: Think of these guys as a pretty powerful take on the Abstract Thief that works much better than the class of the same name. My favorite version of the concept so far - kudos! The bagman archetype of the class is the gift-giving specialist, just fyi - and yes, you could make conceivably battle santa with this one.


The sparkle princess has a 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fortitude- and Will-saves, d10 HD, 2 + Int skill points, and Charisma-governed spontaneous spellcasting of up to 4th level, though spells may be cast alternatively via sparkle power. Sparkle princesses are ruthless, savage killers, honed by fighting devils in a nightmarish demiplane of Hell, dread Candyland ruled by the Chocolate King, where everything is tooth-achingly sweet and the devils assume cutesy-wootsy forms, tempting children into the plane where most are either devoured or pressed into slave labor. They utilize special snowflake powers that can be powered by their sparkles...or they perform atrocities, which are sparkle-powered modifications of their respective attacks. Including the severing of limbs. Obviously. (Yes, rules included.) They also gain an animal companion or can establish a bond with their allies. Information on the demiplane is provided, as is the +2 Cha and Con, -2 Int half-construct teddybear race. ...the sparkle princess may not be mechanically the most novel of options herein...but oh boy do I love the class and its notion. Oh, and there is the mother archetype who can reselect all mommy powers it comes with at 16th level - via the aptly-named "Best Mom Ever"-ability.


The thread maiden is similarly a 3/4 BAB class with a good Will save, d8 HD, 6 + Int skill points, and 6th-level Wisdom-based prepared spellcasting. They can see the threads of fate, which results in a rather unique perspective on the world and creatures - think of her seeing things basically as though we all were sackboys/girls from Little Big Planet. Depending on the specialization chosen, they can unweave magic, take away the qualities (or types) of creatures or objects. Additionally, special attacks, so-called snips, allow for the expenditure of unused spell slots to provide pretty nasty debuffs.


Finally, the ungermaw gets full BAB, plus a good Fortitude-save, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. These people can draw in air with such force it delivers targets closer to his gnashing teeth. They get a bite (proper primary/secondary codification provided) and are defined by hunger - they must eat twice as much as a regular character and still are never sated. They gain a number of talents, mostly focused on consumption as they progress, making their bite more deadly, allowing them to exhale to push people away, and even the ability to feast on magic itself...and yes, swallow whole. The cannibal archetype of this class, while technically not correctly named, gets abilities depending on the creature eaten.


The pdf also sports archetypes beyond the aforementioned ones:


Abductee clerics replace channel energy with the option to deal nonlethal damage...however, there is a chance that the target is abducted and subject to alien experimentation. Interesting one. Broodmother summoners are the harbingers of insectoid or otherwise weird symbiotes - instead of an eidolon, they can caused touched creatures to be infected and then mutate. They get less creatures to be summoned, but may cause damage versus those infected, as a capstone even providing a killswitch. The Comrade paladin...is a holy warrior of the ideals of Marxism, devoted to bringing down nobility and bourgeoisie. The coward rogue is permanently shaken and deals minimum sneak attack damage - but may inflict its cowardice on others and even learns to modify his levels of fear - a lot of unique talents included. Interesting archetype-concept.


Pretty cool, particularly for all interested in modern-style gaming, the ranger-archetype of first responder, with paramedic, firefighter and police officers being represented. The folken barbarian hails from a strange land and has a blend of superstition-style abilities (yep, hex) and signature weapons as well as the option to stir the hearts of those that listen to him using his native tongue.


Glitch sorcerors are interesting enough to be almost considered their own class and rank as one of my favorite sorceror archetypes EVER - getting rid of the defining bloodline and all that's associated with it, these beings regard reality as a simulation and may tamper with in, hacking the world itself: This allows them to swap creatures with other creatures, for example. Modifying DR or hacking resistance also are...interesting. The significant, potentially game-changing power comes at a price, though: Each time the glitch hacks reality, reality recoils. The GM has an assortment of options, from problematic objects to worsened starting attitudes...and yes, this can lead to very unique situations. I really like this one, though it does require a quick-thinking GM. Still, a campaign with these guys and Rite Publishing's Metadventurers could be absolutely hilarious! Goblin rogues may elect to become battle clowns (including an assortment of goblin jokes) and harpy witches replace hexes with belittling, vile insults.


The impersonator PrC gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves and 7/10 spellcasting progression, a bonus feat at 1st and every 3 levels thereafter...and generally, has the fine-tuning depending on the persona he impersonates: A Schwarzenegger impersonator gets different class skills, applies better weapon training to different weapons than a Bruce Lee impersonator, for example. 6 sample icons are provided. The Slimelord PrC gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, 1/2 spell/extract-progression, 1/2 BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort-progression - by studying oozes, they can lob oozy bomb-like globs at foes, get different slime forms and progressively take on ever more oozy traits...but at the cost of progressively losing Charisma. Oh, and yes, there is a new deity: Baygorth, the elderslime, whose favorite weapon...is green and needs to smell like peaches. That's it. provided you can make a weapon adhere to these criteria and do so...well, you got it. And yes, you can take Weapon Focus (Green and Smells Like Peaches). This section also introduces us to the humanoid oozes called Rezumar, who get 2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int and have a couple, but thankfully not all ooz-y traits...and make for an overall balanced race, though I wished it had more space to shine.


One of the oddest archetypes I have ever seen would be the Master Familiar - a familiar who gets a wizard thrall. Kinda awesome! The Nascent deity oracle archetype selects a dominion from a list of cleric domains, with provides a prerogative and a list of class skills, replacing the mystery and mystery bonus spells. Not a big fan of this one, mainly since I've seen the concept done better. The negotiator inquisitor is a slick, silver-tongued guy with some battle-butler-synergy and ooze chemist alchemists get a symbiotic ooze (erroneously, he's called "mad experimentalist" once here) - basically an ooze companion that can be enhanced by extracts, but the alchemist does lose bombs. Unfortunately, I've seen that one done before in a bit more unique manner by Flying Pincushion Games. Pacifist fighters are perhaps not perfectly named, but they do provide a solid means of depicting a face-fighter that does not kill his foes. Pyrotechnicians are bomb-specialist-alchemists with full BAB and Ex bombs as well as no spellcasting - mainly useful for non-magical settings; in the fantastic context, I've seen this trope done better.


On a high note: Rancer cavaliers get orthellas - magical motor-cycles. Awesome, though I wished there were more than the two sample ones provided here. Speedster monks increase their damage, the more they have moved and become progressively faster (think Flash or Quicksilver, light edition), while starchild druids gain a psychedelic outsider companion and the option to animate dreams. The take on the Storyteller archetype, here provided for the bard, has weaponized books and can conjure forth legends of old.


Of course, in a book of this size, one should not be surprised to see feats - and indeed, from Dance-Fu fighting style to Percussive Maintenance Style or Sissy Slap style, there are quite a few rather funny ones. The feat-section also provides a lot of options for the huge array of classes (and archetypes) herein - e.g. the harpy does get a couple of feats. Nice, btw.: You see the associated class at one glance - in optional brackets behind the feat-name. Very helpful! Firing a bow with your feet? Possible. Also cool: Elemental Phobia: it nets you resistance versus the element, but makes you react with dread when faced by it...and yes, upgradeable. A fascination-inducing Puppy-Dog gaze, a personal theme song-feat...this book earns its title.


The book also sports new gear - metal jaws, cloudpress and darksteel, nacreous silver...quite a bunch of new materials can be found...oh, and yeah, there even are a couple (5) cool combat drugs. Books of lewd desires or bullets that talk with you while sticking in your body...have I mentioned the "Oh Dear Mother of God why would you do this"-chain that can discorporate into a spider swarm on command?


Sooo, and right now I come to a chapter that may single-handedly make some people buy this book, even those that don't care at all for a single class herein: Mecha-construction rules. You get build points, various frames, engines, weapons, defense systems, movement systems, special systems - in one word: Easy to grasp-rules (with Build Point-progression rules for Mecha-XP, if you will - slow, normal and fast progression...), different sizes, different generators - the set-up is simple, yet works...and may well be a great start for a whole book of mecha...the system's relative simplicity certainly would allow for a lot of expansion beyond the ~20 pages devoted to it! I love this chapter and its rules, but on a nitpicky side, explaining how the system works in detail would have been didactically smart - while it becomes evident upon reading what the components do, clearly explaining all components, not just the basics before going into the system would have made it a tad bit more user-friendly. Then again, it's so easy to grasp, you won't have any issues.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are...honestly much better than I expected. In a book of this significant size, there are surprisingly few glitches herein. Kudos to Morgan Boehringer, Christina Johnson and Rahul Kanojia. Layout adheres to a 1-column full-color standard and there is a LOT of playful, original full-color art herein. On the downside, I don't really like the one-column standard for books like this (more page-flipping) and I'm no fan of the font. Both are subjective points and thus will not enter the equation regarding my final verdict. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and a second b/w printer-friendly version -great to see that one!


Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Ian Sisson, Sasha Hall, Mark Nordheim, Christos Gurd - congratulations. This book is the biggest crunch-book I have ever reviewed. It took me forever to get done and I honestly expected the reviewing process to devolve into pure pain somewhere along the way. It didn't. This is due to several facts:


1) This book opts to go the high road: You won't see any lackluster combinations of old class mechanics herein; even in hybrid type classes, the results are unique and have their own unique schtick.


2) Almost all of the classes feature some kind of very distinct and novel mechanic - granted, I dislike some of them personally, but I have to applaud their creativity and said dislike stems universally from personal tastes. You can e.g. reduce rads via magic pretty easily; in my games, this would be a problem; in others, it may be required for the mechanic to be considered worthwhile - bug or feature? You decide.


3) Overall, there are no downright broken components herein. There are some strong options herein, but they universally are circumstantial in their power and focus: Obviously, the glowing Navi-thing must fly...is that an issue in your low-level game? It can be, but it doesn't have to be.


4) This book, honestly, is great for serious games as well. The davatti, for example, will certainly see use in my games, no matter the tone.


5) This book is never, ever BORING. I have seen A LOT of different crunch books and quite a few...well, feel somewhat redundant to me at this point. This one, for the staggering majority of its vast page-count, managed to keep me entertained while reading and analyzing it.


How to rate this colossus, then? See, this is where it gets tricky for me - I have encountered a couple of instances where the rules-language or presentation could have been a bit clearer. I didn't like everything...but on the other hand, this is pretty much a colossal grab-bag of options, a scavenger's toolkit that allows you to play basically Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, use tropes like the battle maid, skirmish through space or play a friggin' fairy godmother...or a psychotic sparkle princess. Not all options or power-levels will be appropriate for every campaign. Not all classes will be to your liking...but chances are, you'll find a lot of damn cool material (or rules-inspirations) in this book. Ever wanted to play Ghostrider? There's an option for that. And then there's the bang-for-buck ratio. ~$0.04 per page. You'll be pretty hard-pressed to find a book of this imaginative potential with such an impressive bang-for-buck ratio. While there are some hiccups herein, the totality of the book deserves praise and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars...and since I loved a lot of the imaginative and innovative options herein, I'll round up and while not all components inside deserve it, I will still slap my seal of approval on this massive book for the multitude of components inside that I do love. If you want to see something radically different, take a look at this tome - there is so much to love here, even if you end up loathing some components, it's well worth the investment!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Call to Arms: The Magic Satchel
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2016 02:45:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover/editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so what do we get?


Well, first of all, we begin, as always, with a bit of flavor-text and the history of the "bigger on the inside" idea that has accompanied mankind from Santa Claus to Doctor Who - and it shows awareness of a possible reason for the initial introduction of the classic bag of holding into the context of the games we know and love.


I feel obliged to go on a little digression: As you may have noticed, I can be a bit of a stickler for encumbrance, carrying capacity etc. - it just helps my immersion in a given game and I am very much what you'd call a simulationalist GM. I want to know where the weapons etc. are. The problem here, is, alas, that tracking a ton of items can become tedious and time-consuming...but ignoring packing, carrying capacity etc. them altogether (like many a game I witnessed do) rubs me the wrong way. Similarly, I have spent literally whole sessions of players just buying equipment for a massive wilderness trek, haggling with the merchants and the like - and I enjoy sessions like that...most of the time. Sometimes, I just wished the system had a means for characters to be "crazy prepared" and just draw an item from the pack...within reason. Unfortunately, most of the time, takes on the crazy-prepared mechanic simply don't work as smooth as they should. This pdf approaches this conundrum by introducing the practical pack mechanic.


The mechanic itself is dead simple: There is a chance a character has stored an item away in the practical pack, assuming the item is under a set weight and cost. Determining whether the item is stored inside is handled via an associated skill-check (or Int/Wis, if you have no ranks in the associated skill) - characters with ranks in Climb are more likely to have packed tools for climbing, for example. Now thankfully, the pdf does not leave you alone to associate skills with items: A massive table does that work for you and should you desire to extend the mechanic from the mundane and masterwork items to e.g. weapons and armor, you'll find some guidance herein as well.


Such practical packs are usually containers of some sort - and from the bandolier to saddlebags, a lot of different sample containers (including volume information) allow for more precise takes on what can potentially fit in such a container - an no, as written, specific keys to locks could not be duplicated, though lockpicks could - which is nice in my book. How does filling the pack work? Well, you determine a value and go shopping. When you draw an item ex nihilo from the pack, the item's price is detracted from the value used in shopping - unlike quite a few "crazy prepared"-takes, no chance of suddenly drawing forth odd items when finding treasure. No single object in the pack can weigh more than 1/4 of the weight of the pack and total weight cannot exceed the weight of the pack, so cheating encumbrance via these can't be done efficiently either.


How to draw items from it? Well, the skill-check is a simple DC 10 + cost in gold of the world. Less than 10 Copper means DC 10, silver is rounded up to 1 gp. Common items reduce the DC by 5; uncommon items increase base DC to 15, rare ones to DC 20. You also reduce the base DC for each factor of 10 the item is less than the value of the bag. As an example: A 40 gp alchemist's kit would be DC 50, but if the practical pack has been filled with 400 gp or more, you'd calculate 40 gp/400 gp, arriving at a DC of 14. If the value of the pack were 4K gp, you'd instead arrive at a DC of 11 - 10 base, +1 for a value exceeding 1 sp. If this sounds complicated to you at first - it really isn't; in fact, in practice, it can be done fluidly on the fly. If you botch the skill by 5 or less, a GM may allow you to draw forth a substitute, adding in degrees of success/failure - a design-notion I really enjoy!


If you require multiple items of a type and wouldn't usually carry multiples, the pdf has you covered as well, providing concise rules for that as well. Some items, like flint, a non-combat knife and similar tools are codified as always available and rechecking for similar items is also possible.


Very important: If you're one of the GMs or players who hates minutiae like this - the pdf does offer a simplified version of this system as well. They are based on bag quality (4 steps) and fit comfortable on half a page, covering all bases. Now this is accounting for table variance!


Okay, so this is where things get even more interesting: Rather than rehashing the ole' bag of holding rules, the pdf continues to develop the aforementioned rules and applies them to magic bags: There are, for example, mercane bags: You drop items in for the mercane to sell, but may, yourself, request magic items from the mercane by putting your hand inside...and yes, this easy reselling of loot is thankfully balanced via market value modifications. Two particularly nasty cursed satchels are provided as well - the bag of devouring that tries to eat you and your items...and there is a bag into which you can throw items...only to get worthless junk back.


Really fun: The evil, demonic and intelligent chomper, a devouring bag that not only is malevolent, you can swing it at foes to bite them. Cool visuals! The helpful steward of the bag is intelligent as well and could be visualized as a bag of holding with an integrated butler that lists all objects inside. The mythic bag of needful things takes a bow before one of Mr. King's better books and can generate objects. Finally, the artifact of this installment of Call to Arms would be the doorknocker to a private sanctum - basically a doorknocker you can affix to any door, open it, and enter your very own private demiplane...which can btw. be altered, in case you were wondering.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice artworks in full color by Rick Hershey. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Lucus Palosaari's magic satchels...are BRILLIANT. I'm not even going to try to slowly lead into this. Magic Satchels as envisioned here are exactly what I always wanted - this book pretty much looks and feels almost like it was written for me. This streamlines the extensive shopping trips and planning required in simulationalist gameplay without sacrificing the need for planning in advance; this provides almost the ease of GM-handwaving encumbrance and actually creates suspense: The cheers when players draw forth the third stake they needed on a hard skill-check...is glorious and adds actually a fun, novel component to the gameplay...and all without falling into the innumerable pits and traps this type of design sports: From weight to scarcity to even a simpler system, this book covers ALL basics in its deceptively few pages.


The page-count may not sound impressive...but if you're like me, you'll celebrate this system for its grace and elegance, for its innovation and seamless integration in gameplay as well as for speeding up the game sans losing the threat and excitement of e.g. prolonged wilderness trips. Oh, and the simple alternate system is great for less detail-oriented games, providing supreme support for different table types.


This is a truly brilliant little pdf that will feature in each and every one of my campaigns from now on. I adore this book. Its final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and it receives EZG Essential status: If you love your details, but want an truly elegant way of speeding things up sans breaking your game, get this!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: The Magic Satchel
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The Secrets of the Metadventurer (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2016 07:30:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review


Wow, wow, wow...are you serious? This is the reviewer who is supposed to judge my magnificence? This odd, long-haired German goth/metalhead-sod? Really? Oh well. I'm in a good mood, so I'll "help" you, okay endy? Great! So, my splendorous debut is 11 pages long, though 1 page is the front cover, 1 the editorial, 2 are advertisement and 1 page is the SRD, which means I get a full 6 pages...not that I'd need more to show how awesome I am, mind you...but still, gotta talk to my agent about that... walks off


Ehem, yeah, so this is a prioritized review and was moved up in my queue at the request of my patreons, before this strange guy rudely interrupted...oh damn, he's coming back!


Hey, Chris...yeah, about those... WAIT. You there, endy! I said I'd do that for you, right? Right! So, what do I do - urgh...I hate repeating myself and I explained it in the book already...but, in a nut-shell:


I WIN PATHFINDER.


There, 'nuff said.


Urgh, you're still reading. I can see you. So yeah, wanna know more? Gotcha. I am better and more awesome than all other classes, because I friggin' know. I'm not some pseudo-smart wizard-sheeple...I know I'm a character in your game. Yeah, you heard me. I know I have 2+Int skills (really? come on!) and d8 HD and proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armors. I have 3/4 BAB-progression. I also am good at Min/Maxing - bonus points for kicking off a discussion on the Stormwind Fallacy. When resting, I choose one good save (two good saves at 12th level) and the others are bad save.


Starting at 4th level, I can select two skills that are not knowledge (No, GM, I don't care about the intricacies of your world!) and get max ranks for the day. At 8th level, I can also swap attributes and at 16th level I can swap 1/day saving throws, ability scores and bogus feats. I also am a master of optimizing flexibility: I can choose each day to gain arcane casting, divine casting, martial tricks or a crapton of skill. Oh yes, I'm that awesome.


Starting at 2nd level, I get a metagaming pool equal to 1/2 class level + 3. I can spend these as free actions to get skill bonuses, additional non-AoO-5-foot movements and even negate partial effects on successful saves. At 3rd level, I know what you know. No seriously, I can simply metagame what you know - d20+class level + Int-modifier and bam...you're GM is pissed. Priceless, believe me.


At 5th level and every 6 thereafter, I get Bogus feats. I can change these whenever I rest. Why? Cause that is how I roll! Oh, and 6th level, I can spend metagaming points to alter the damage of my weapons. At 7th level, I am adept at making allies count as abettors for Betrayal feats...who needs these suckers, after all? Oh, and yeah, at 9th level I can Rules Lawyer game-mechanics 1/day and alter them by +2/-2 or +10%/-10%, twice that much at 19th level, +1 daily use every 5 levels above 9th.


At 10th level, I can change energy types or better pass through SR via metagaming. At 13th level, I can divert effects when I failed my save to allies - we all know we only have to do better than the other suckers, right? And guess what? I have read all those supplements - at 13th level, I can take a treasure and identify it...and determine which treasure it is, within GP-boundaries. I always get what I want, man. At 15th level, as long as you, the player, bring a third party book to the table, it'll be game for me. I know. Awesome, right? Oh, guess what, at 18th level, I can metagame those stupid action economy limitations. But the most fun is 20th level - the ability's called "Make the GM Cry" - extraordinary wish. Oh, and when I die, I immediately resurrect. Oh yeah. You know you want to see that in action, right? Thought so.


Conclusion:


All right, so this reviewer-git doesn't pay me enough for this, so blabla, nice artworks full color 2-column layout etc. Bookmarks are there as well.


So, I dictated the book to Wendall Roy and he seems to be able to write it - congrats, dude. No seriously, I couldn't wait anymore. This game needs my awesomeness in it. It's time that those prissy wizards and stuck-up paladins learn their place. This is where I come in, by the way. So do yourself a favor and get this book - we'll have a lot of fun making your fellow players cry. And best of all - you can always just point to the fact that I'm not "overpowered." Not our problem if the others just can't play the game, right? Hate the game, not the player!


Ehem...how do you end these things? Oh yeah, I'm obviously 5 stars + seal of approval (Seriously? "Seal of approval"? Pretentious much? Man, reviewer-dude, you got some issues...) and totally inexpensive, so buy my awesome book!


Metadventurer out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Metadventurer (PFRPG)
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Lost Lore: Ecology of the Troll
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2016 07:27:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Frog God Games' Lost Lore-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3/4 of a page blank, leaving us with 4 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf with a brief piece of in-character prose, setting the mood...and then dive into the genesis of the troll, here depicted in the telling of a legend, where mighty Eirik, lord of the North, instructed the dark sorceror Inghard to find a way to gain soldiers that would not de - and hence, in truly compelling prose, we accompany these two on the way to the doom that befalls the fools of stories such as this: The undying soon were to practice/become fleischtrollen (an interesting composite of German Fleisch = flesh and trollen = walk somewhere at a deliberate pace) - basically flesh-seeking shamblers. So yes, we have a rather unique background story here, on I actually enjoyed reading, though I couldn't help but feel that the "trollen" was probably intended to mean "the troll", but "troll" is a neuter and would thus get the -et ending. But I digress.


The discrepancy between depictions of fat and emaciated trolls is explains and rationalized well in the section on physiology and the explorations of stages of life and sociology further expounds upon interesting details regarding this mythical species. For players intent on hunting trolls, glass sphere tips that can contains liquids and the regeneration halting trollkin-toxin should help - unless the poor sap is mushed to bits before by the large weapon introduced, the devastating troll maul. The pdf also sports 3 new feats for trolls - two to further increase regeneration and one for double rend damage dice - this one has to be carefully monitored and probably shouldn't be in PC hands - rend in PC hands is already brutal enough.


Interesting: The pdf also expounds upon the precise strategies a GM can use when employng trolls and elaborates on their tactics, which is pretty interesting. The pdf also sports G'Mash, the troll king - massive CR 19 barbarian 7/ranger 7 with a unique, huge-sized magical armor, which, while solid, is not that...wait...Huge? Oh, I forgot to mention that right? If you're like me, you always wanted trolls to continue growing, to potentially one day reach truly intimidating sizes. Well, this take on the troll assumes just that. Anyways, the deadly troll king ends the pdf on a high note, even though the final page being mostly empty somewhat galls me.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has an awesome piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks and while it needs none at this length, they still would have been nice to see.


James Thomas' prose is excellent -the legend of the trolls depicted herein resonates on a mythological level and makes sense; the pdf rationalizes the vastly diverging pictures and concepts of trolls, which is awesome from an internal consistency's point of view. The flavor of this pdf is awesome, though it admittedly left me wanting more and somewhat bemoaning the lack of discussion on subtypes etc.. On the crunch-side, as mentioned before the rend-enhancer feat can be problematic and sports very lenient prerequs (Namely, you need a rend attack...that's it.) and it being a combat feat means it's be a no-brainer for characters with ample access to them. I can't help but feel that just doubling the dice rolled feels a bit off. Similarly, the troll maul, as a weapon, is not that interesting. Where this pdf shines, though, is with its great prose, its concise ideas for troll tactics and uses etc. How to rate this, then? Well, what we have here is a rather brief, but sweet ecology that could have used a bit more to reach true greatness. Still, this is a worthwhile addition to your arsenal and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Ecology of the Troll
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Suzerain (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Savage Mojo
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/21/2016 07:57:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive book clocks in at 186 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page of back cover, leaving us with a massive 177 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Well, this book has two sections - one for players and one for GMs - it should be noted that the player's version, the Suzerain Continuum Guide, can be considered a massive teaser for this book - and it's FREE! So yeah, you can take a look at what this book offers by downloading that one.


But back to what this book offers, shall we? Suzerain, in a nut-shell, can be described as a kind of meta-campaign setting template; it denotes a massive collective of worlds and plains. Campaign settings are described as realms - so both Golarion and Athas could, potentially, exist within the confines of this meta-setting. Suzerain assumes that you use the hero point mechanics introduced in the APG...but goes one step further: For one, the maximum of 3 hero points is not in effect. Secondly, escaping death only takes one hero point and returns to play with starting hero points if their rank is high enough.


A given Suzerain character has a Telesma, a special kind of gem set in jewelry, weapons or the like - but more on Telesma later. Suzerain Sports 10 ranks in 6 categories that denote how much you're touched by "greatness" - even rank 2 classifies you as god-touched, while 10+ means you qualify as a demigod. Each rank provides its own benefits: Hero Points, bonus feats, ability score increases, save bonuses...and later even a pulse pool (equal to 1/4 character level + highest ability score modifier)...but again, more on that later. Rules for cohorts, new followers in a given realm and similar interactions are covered.


Upon reaching demigod rank, characters can "flex a nexus" - a nexus denotes an important historic anchor. You flex a nexus by paying 1 pulse and 1 hero point, 2 for a major flex - these allow for the modification of the setting; consider them narrative wild-cards: Whether you manage to find a fully functional hovertank in a post-apocalyptic desert or make a bridge disappear - the effects are basically massive narrative components that are deliberately loose in their wording...with one exception: They last about 5 minutes and generally can affect an area of about 150 ft. Creatures with a pulse pool can resist...that's it. Gods (and ONLY true gods) can use 3-point godlike flexes...which brings me to an important motif: The characters may become demigods here...but they sure are no deities...to quote to old Shadowrun/WoD-wisdom: There are always bigger fish in the tank...Character creation wise, 6+2d6 or 25-point-buy are recommended for this high fantasy romp.


Okay, so what do these Pulse-feat-tricks do? Well, once your PCs have reached demigod-hood...they'll have some impressive tricks at their disposal: Via the right pulse feat, you can e.g. mitigate critical hits down to regular hits or even force them to reroll the original attack (NOT the confirmation roll) or rearrange initiative order as you see fit immediately after initiative is rolled. 3/day SPs, reduced falling damage (plus means to stop nearly any fall), temporarily ignoring fear conditions (upgradeable to immunity while you have at least 1 pulse) or partially breaking through resistances. Choosing an attribute and using pulse as constantly consecutive means to retroactively add bonuses to the related check on a 1 pulse:+2-basis, extended number of targets for spells, using pulse as a +5 bonus to any d20 check (not even an action), causing a sickening pain-aura to form around you - the pulse-feats themselves are powerful, but well within the confines of what can be deemed as something a GM can handle - it should be noted that their general feeling is less that of hyper-specialization or escalation that mythic rules sport, instead focusing on a broader, more general means of usefulness. If you need a comparison: Mythic rules are more about playing guys like Hercules, where these seem to champion a playstyle that is more reminiscent of Dr.Who - you're basically better, stronger, more resilient and have reality-bending powers, but still retain a certain fragility...though it's hard to kill you. Really hard.


Interesting: Once the group has achieved an average of folk hero on the ranking system, their telesmae resonate and they receive their very own pocket dimension. Telesmae are basically semi-sentient, very powerful artifacts with a divine spirit - while it's impossible to lose them per se, they do have a catch - in the spirit world (the ethereal plane), they are easily distinguished; they act as beacons to gods and outsiders alike and mean that you'll have a lot potential issues on your hand...and finally, while not too smart, they do have a will of their own...which can also lead to troubles. Telesmae are considered to be CL 20 items with an aura of moderate abjuration, divination, illusion and have 30 ft senses. Starting at 11th level, they increase their Int by +1 per level, with Wis/Cha adhering to a 1/2-progression and 11th level + every 3 levels thereafter, they gain a telesma growth, basically an ability you choose from a set of different ones. Basic telesma personalities also grant a skill bonus - yeah, they are kind of like psycrystals. On a nitpicky side, the table of these personalities and the header have been integrated in a less than superb manner on the page - the text from the previous page continues under the table, while the table's header-section adheres to the same formatting as said previous page, which makes this page, at first glance, slightly confusing.


So that's the basics.


After that, a sample world is mentioned - Relic, in the year 298, where Egyptian-style sea elves rule the waves and huge Greco-Roman empires loom - think of it as a blending of classical antiquity with your basic fantasy tropes. Unique-crunch-wise, there are a couple of Planar feats - the base feat of these must be taken at first level, with further feats allowing the character to enhance his/her/its tricks; The feats closely reflect the politics of the setting, with prerequisites featuring "may not be an elf" or "may not be bestial" - Fury, as a feat-tree, is for example a means to play a quasi-lycanthropic shapechanger that starts the game with full claw and bite-attack array, while Living Rock reduces your speed by 5 ft., but grants DR 2/bludgeoning...and yes, these feats often have additional, Pulse-based effects that obviously come into play later. Considering that this is a sample and teaser, it's hard to judge whether these kind-of-racial feats end up as balanced in the context of the overall world -for a default high-fantasy world they sure as hell are potent.


The second part of this massive book would be the GM-section - so what do we get here? Well, we begin with a discussion of the spirit world, Suzerain's iteration of the ethereal plane and what is has to offer; how religion can shape the place and the pulse-touched CR+2 template that allows the GM to make creatures that can employ some of the PC-tricks. Native creatures of the ethereal plane, the spirits of feral glee and their variants, the spirits of feral empathy are featured alongside the Mael-born - at the end of the spirit world, the veil lies...and beyond it, terra incognita: Very little solid ground, all held aloft by pure pulse - here space and time become fluid and some gods have their realms in this weird place - and there are a lot: Whether Yggdrasil's realm, that of the archangels or Mount Olympus or the more strange realm of pure mages, where raw mathematics and genius reign supreme are concerned - the places depicted sound fantastical and sufficiently familiar and weird to be considered interesting.


The section discussing travels in time and space via portals and other means deserves special mention: Unlike many a bad movie or series-episode, it establishes a concise background that subscribes to the elastic history approach and explains its tenets and consequences in detail - while this section may be fluff-centric, ultimately, it is useful - more so than quite a few more rules-heavy takes on the concept I've seen.


Now one of the most pronounced goals of Suzerain is to make gameplay beyond 10th level more interesting, more fulfilling - thus, the discussion and advice regarding games at folk-hero rank (rank 6 - 7) cover a significant array of themes to ponder - whether to restrict yourself to one world, how to make multiple themes and campaign settings fluidly interact. Similarly, extensive pieces of advice for player/character types...and demigod games are provided: With themes like massive glory, end-times, alternate realities and similar high-concept ideas, the contemplations and themes change here once again. There also is the idea of the plot-point campaign - which is then exemplified via a massively detailed sample campaign in Relic - while each chapter sports just a couple of scenes, there is a lot of crunchy material herein: Nanobot pseudo-swarms, various NPCs (often with complex class arrangements), a new vehicle...and a suitably cataclysmic final fight.


Sure, it's basically a skeleton set-up...but if you're time-starved or if the creative juices have run dry, this is great. Similarly, for scavenging purposes, there is quite a bit to find here. Similarly, multiple encounter/adventure-sketches follow suit, providing a pretty wide and diverse accumulation of ideas to scavenge and peruse -and yes, several of them take place in different epochs of our very own world, while others assume diverse realms within the maelstrom - whether they want to pit themselves against the desolation engine or stave off an invasion of bipedal, evolved saurians and their titanosaur from an alternate earth. What if priests tried to manipulate the Olympian gods to bring about the end of the multi-verse? Or a quasi-sentient protocol infects and converts people? ...well, and of course, the obligatory throw-down between aforementioned arch-angels and dread forces of darkness - including multiple, fully statted high-level foes. Basically, the majority of this section of the book can be considered a sketch-book of stories, encounters and adversaries that make for a rather superb scavenging-ground, even when not playing Suzerain directly.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no significant accumulations of glitches. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard. People with extensive collections of obscure 3.X-supplements may recognize some of the gorgeous full-color artworks herein, though I have seen the vast majority never before. The book is art-heavy and beautiful. The pdf is fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks. I can't comment on the virtues or lack thereof of the print edition.


Miles M. Kantir, Zach Wellhouse, Alan Bundock, Clyde Clark, Richard Mendenhall, Aaron Rosenberg, George "Loki" Williams, Pastor Allan Hoffmann, Richard Moore and Matt Medeiros have done an impressive job in this huge book. Suzerain endeavors to be basically a campaign-template for high-level gaming and themes - and it succeeds in several interesting regards: The decision to emphasize the narrative component without drifting off into the, pardon my French, competitive bullshitting of FATE, works surprisingly well in the Pathfinder-context. The demigod-rules are sufficiently different from mythic rules to fit a different playstyle and themes, which is a BIG plus in my book - I love mythic rules (provided I can use all those Legendary Games-supplements; I hate vanilla mythic with a fiery passion...)...and I can see myself growing to love these rules as well, perhaps even combining them for some particularly brutal foes.


Theme-wise, Suzerain is basically the planewalker's toolkit as opposed to mythic's superhero-flair. Toolkit...that's what describes this book best. There are crunchier books out there, sure - but the ideas and observations regarding often problematic themes, setting-switching etc. make this a handy tome to have. The crunchy statblocks and adventure/campaign-sketches also illustrate rather well how to utilize these rules....or rather, concepts. The true treasure herein lies in the concepts and yes, this book makes it significantly easier to come up with a justification for the jumping between worlds.


Suzerain is an intriguing book, that has two minor flaws, which I still feel obliged to mention: In the player-section in particular, a cleaner division between fluff and crunch would be appreciated - the size of the Pulse Pool, for example, is neither its own paragraph, nor bolded or the like - it's hidden in the flow of text, something you can observe regarding other components as well. The second component would pertain the fact that the numerous, rather awesome-sounding realms that Savage Mojo has hinted at in Palace of the Lich Queen (and/or already released for their Savage Worlds-rules-set) have not yet been converted to PFRPG; while I e.g. am truly intrigued in this fantasy take on Norse or Greek mythology, the antique/scifi-blend of Set Rising and similar settings, this book, by necessity, is a bit opaque regarding the respective places. Personally, I would have loved to see more on the Spirit World and the Maelstrom, the meta-world, if you will - perhaps with mechanical repercussions, unique hazards or planar traits.


As it stands on its own, Suzerain is a captivating, massive book somewhere between campaign template, DM-advice book and meta-setting - and it fulfills these roles rather well for the most part. Still, in the end, I found myself wishing for more material regarding the meta-realm, if you will - something you can chalk up to a) the excellent prose that made reading this book a rather pleasant experience and b) the amount of space devoted to the high-concept campaign/adventure/encounter-seeds. In the end, I consider Suzerain a worthwhile, high-quality book that will continue to grow in usefulness with the release of subsequent settings and books in the continuum; as a stand-alone book, for now I will settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Suzerain (Pathfinder)
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Ultimate Relationships #3: The Cassisian Detective
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2016 05:10:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Ultimate Relationship-series clocks in at 8 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page how to use, 1 page SRD leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


All right, so this series provides romantic interests for the PCs as per the Ultimate Relationship-rules, so I'm assuming you're familiar with them. If not, check out that pdf first (and/or my review for it).


All right, so this time around...we romance a helmet with wings. No, I'm not kidding. Look up the artwork. The statblock is the most complex we've seen so far in the series, though, unlike another review I noticed, I saw no glitches pertaining class abilities - the archetype has been correctly added in the iteration of this pdf I read.


Affinity-wise, the cassian detective prefers introverted, silent characters, particularly investigators and the like and obviously has a fondness for riddles and puzzles and, obviously, as a good outsider, he loathes evildoers. A sense of requiring completion makes keeping him around rather easy and he is available for being a cohort as soon as 4th rank.


The detective, interestingly, is devoted to the empyreal lord of departed lovers and as such, entering a proper romantic relationship, abstract though it may be, ultimately would result in conflicting notions, particularly since the entity is currently in a chaste crush on Verity it/her/himself. (This gender-thing is getting confusing regarding helmet-shaped outsiders...apologies. And no, I'm not using "they" - it sounds wrong to me, like finger nails on chalkboard. Sorry.)


That being said, the ranking up procedure of the romance with the cassisian detective easily is the most intriguing so far: For one, the outsider loves riddles, so Int-checks (or out-game riddle-savvy players) are preferred. Secondly, the entity has a perfect memory, so if you're like me and have a better memory than your players, this can really be hilarious...otherwise, I'd suggest taking notes to properly roleplay him. Which is also, by far, the most awesome thing about this installment of Ultimate Relationships - you see, the cassisian does not know about a chaste crush on his mistress and is interested in the gaps and holes of actions and behavior - having a perfect, gapless memory, he feels intrigued by lack - the objectivity of nothing, the concept of presence heightened through absence, making this character truly well-rounded and unique.


Boon-wise, the relationship unlocks either Linguistics or Perform (Oratory) as class skills and +1 to saves versus visual and sonic effects, stacking with celestial obedience, if present. At 10th rank, the boon, you can 1/day expend 3 full-round actions to duplicate the detective's careful teamwork performance lasting 10 minutes and affecting only you and double campaign bonuses associated with the detective.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf has a nice artwork of the outsider.


Mark Seifter's Cassisian Detective is by far the weirdest of the relationships so far - but it's also the most unique, intriguing and well-rounded - the character has depth, means for philosophical engagement and character beyond being a relationship-stereotype - in a nutshell, this feels organic and well-crafted. Personally, I consider this by far the most intriguing of the relationships provided so far and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Relationships #3: The Cassisian Detective
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Village Backdrop: Coldwater System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2016 05:09:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement


Coldwater is perched upon an inhospitable, mud-drenched coast, with one access by land, its harbor is in the delta of a miserably stream that empties its contents into the sea - and if that does not reflect a place you'd like to visit, then that's pretty much a representation of how most folks see this place. Nearby caverns sport strange stair-like features that only rarely become visible and the inhabitants of the village are just as sullen and unfriendly as the weather suggests. The village lore reflects the relative hostility and rugged nature of the village rather well, while a Finnish-inspired nomenclature emphasizes an association with the colder climes.


Indeed, the rustic and eccentric locals e.g. sport a man named Holg, who has a well-stacked ware-house, but lets no one in - you have to tell the old man what you're looking for and mysteriously, more often than not, he procures the object from within the depths of his dubious "locker." Indeed, one cannot really fault the locals for their sullen outlook on life: As the events and the subtle wrongness in the tides underline, there is something wrong here - there are the deformed, both in mind and body- how and why the poor folks of this village are struck by this curse ultimately is up to the GM, but the presence of the template and its varied effects alongside the stigmatization such folk may experience should drive home pretty well that something is wrong here...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst has skill - and this one shows it pretty well. The mastermind of Raging Swan Press delivers what I'd like to call a wide open sandbox: We are faced with problems and the respective NPCs mentioned can be used to exacerbate it, change it...all depending on your whims. Basically, this is one of the village backdrops that is so compelling, it can make PCs pretty much write their own tale: Throw them in and watch what happens. In this aspect, though, this one is slightly inferior to Kennutcat. However, at the same time, it sports local color that made me think of the slight surreal elements that made Twin Peaks so compelling, at least for me -from the dwindling fortunes of one family to female, hard-working and drinking half-orc, there is a lot of quirkiness, a lot of unique bits and pieces here; enough, to make this thoroughly compelling. The system-neutral version loses nothing of the luster of the original and is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Coldwater System Neutral Edition
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Relic Files: Manticore Power Armor
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2016 08:04:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this installment of Relic Files with a deviation from the standard, as a significant section provides a well-crafted piece of introductory prose. Beyond that, the supplement is btw. one of the books that is a pretty good read - the pdf uses a "review" of the power armor presented as a nice narrative framing device - including "Protips" - rather cool!


All right, so what does the Power Armor do? Well, for one, it increases the size of the wearer effectively to Large and grants DR 12/adamantine, +1 AC versus unguided missiles, +8 Str-score (count as Str 30 for purposes of carrying/lifting, etc.) and -2 Dex while armored. The armor is equipped with a flechette rifle and the armor and rifle's stats are fully depicted, including construction information. The HUD of the armor provides +1 to atk and damage, grants low-light vision and darkvision 60 ft and decreases miss chances incurred due to mist etc. by 25%. Wounds incurred by the flechette rifle continue to bleed for 1 point per round. Speaking of those: Flechette-ammo for shotguns are provided and yes, they may be poisoned. A new feat, Exotic Armor Proficiency, allows for proper piloting.


Providing full synergy with Rogue Genius Games' excellent Anachronistic Adventures, we also get a sample character, one Lily Compton, who is depicted with a highly detailed amount of fluff as well as full stats as a level 8 daredevil (CR 7). Interesting here - a total of 4 manticore power armor tricks are provided - locking joints to increase CMD, leaping free and self-destruction as well as radar displacement are covered. Similarly, rules for radar displacement are covered and the pdf sports Lily's unique prototype of the armor, noting modifications like plasma throwers etc.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


This is an intriguing deviation from Rogue Genius Games' relic files - instead of a scaling magic item, we instead get concise rules for a well-made power-armor. Andrew Marlowe delivers in this pdf - it offers a lavishly rendered, cool power armor - and frankly, my one gripe with this pdf remains that I really would have wanted even more power armors. Not only due to the solid mechanics, but also due to this pdf being a surprisingly fun read. All in all, this is a great little pdf and I hope we'll see more sample power armors in the future...I still have that mecha-campaign I really want to play... My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Relic Files: Manticore Power Armor
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The Thingomancer Prestige Class
Publisher: ARMR Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2016 08:01:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Thingomancers possess and use many...things. As such, they need to be chaotic, have Craft Wondrous Item and be able to cast 3rd level spells and have at least 5 ranks in Appraise...and Craft (backpack making). The PrC nets d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Will-save-progression and full spellcasting progression. Thingomancers also gain proficiency with all martial weapons.


At first level, they get the Thingamajig-ability, crafting a special backpack that has the characteristics of a bag of holding type I, with the caveat that he can only have one of these and may retrieve items from it as a move action. This upgrades to type II at 5th level, type IV at 9th level.


Also at first level, the PrC learns Thingomancy, adding class level as a bonus to Perception to detect objects (i.e. not creatures) and UMD. Starting at 2nd level, the PrC gains Eschew Materials as a bonus feat (formatting flawed: Feats are depicted in capital letters, not italicized) and the thingomancer is always treated as though he has 2K Gp worth of costly material components, though the value is taken from the total gold he has - no cheesing possible...kudos!! This GP-amount increases per level beyond 2nd by +1000 GP. The capacity to pull costly components from thin air refreshes upon resting. At 3rd level, Thingomancers get their class level as a bonus to Disable Device (not properly capitalized in the text) and may disable magical traps.


Starting at 3rd level, the thingomancer may draw mundane objects from his thingamajig, though they evaporate after 24 hours. The ability can be used class level + Int mod times per day. Here, I have an issue: Can the thingomancer produce specific items like e.g. the key for the lock there? At 4th level, the thingomancer may call forth weapons and even ammunition, with enhancement bonuses equal to 1/2 class level, lasting for 1 hour before exploding in confetti. At 7th level, the thingomancer can draw forth masterwork mundane items and gets +3 daily uses.


At 6th level, the PrC gets a pool of class level x 1000 GP gold, usable for crafting purposes only. the pool refreshes every week...and wrecks the WBL assumptions completely. While this may not be much of an issue, in crafting intense games or long-term games à la Kingmaker with plenty of downtime, this is deadly.


Starting at 8th level, the thingomancer can expend a spell slot or prepared spell of 5th level or higher to duplicate the effects of a rod of wonder. Additionally, when activating such an item, he may roll twice and choose the results. On a nitpicky side, this ability lacks the activation action, though I assume rod of wonder activation as a baseline for the action to activate the ability. As a 10th level capstone, he may call forth a deck of many things and draw a single card. If he does have the item, he may discard up to Intelligence modifier cards sans activating them, but must draw an equal amount of new cards. The duplication of conjuring forth the deck also lacks the activation action.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though I've read books by the author with more precise rules-language and less minor formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to ARMR Studios' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. The b/w-artworks provided are surprisingly nice for a PWYW-product - kudos!


Angel Miranda's thingomancer is a solid take on the crazy prepared-type of character and the theme. That being said, it is a tad bit less precise in activation actions than I would like it to be - while drawing items can be assumed as a baseline, actually spelling it out would have been nice. The lack of a specific-items caveat is a bit annoying, but the one thing one really needs to be careful with is the crafting pool: While perfectly feasible in fast-paced campaigns, any campaign without stringent time frames can make the tons of free crafting gold at 6th level very strong.


And yes, due to my propensity for cursed items (or those that belonged to powerful entities), I have ample experience with crafting-heavy PCs...and yes, such a free gold-pool kills basically the main means of reigning such characters in. This does make what would otherwise be a surprisingly cool PrC problematic. That being said, this is still a PrC available as "Pay What You Want" and as such, its minor glitches do pale somewhat. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to it being PWYW and in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Thingomancer Prestige Class
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Cerulean Seas: Celadon Shores
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2016 07:35:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive supplement for aquatic adventuring clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page kickstarter-thanks, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 132 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, after a brief introductory text that introduces us to the subject matter with well-crafted fluff, we enter the meat of this book: Much like previous Cerulean Seas-expansions (which btw. is the must-have underwater-adventuring resource for PFRPG), this one depicts in lavish detail a part of the submerged world and the plethora of options that accompany it - after venturing to the lightless depths and the frigid regions of the world, this book basically can be considered to be the Far Eastern supplement for Cerulean Seas. If you're new to these books, rest assured that we begin with the level of precise detail one can expect from the whole series: From types of lakes to environmental peculiarities, rules-relevant and concise basic information sets the stage for the things that are to follow, namely, the more detailed components.


But unlike Cerulean Seas supplements so far, there is a crucial secondary twist to the subject matter at hand - a distinction between salt- and fresh water, between the themes of assimilation versus tradition...but more on that later. In an admirable level of involvement with the setting, anthromorph and merfolk subspecies are revisited and explained as how far they work within the context of Celadon Shores, before we're introduced to the respective new player character races. Part of this is a new humanoid subtype, the kamigei, which are aligned with a particular eastern element, which can then, as a supernatural ability, add minor elemental damage. The subtype also is in tune with nature and receives resistance based on the associated element.


The new races mentioned before are interesting - for one, taking breathing and the ability to exist in salt/fresh-water into account - in a world where depth tolerance and swim speed are most important, e.g. the avian Benitsuru may be interesting, but their lack of gills means that they are severely limited - and the focus on underwater adventuring means I actually for once will not complain about a race that begins with a fly speed instead of upgrading gliding wings. And yes, each of the races herein has at least one flavorful, interesting and unique trick, like knowing the weather. The heikegani crab-people adhere to a code of honor reminiscent of the samurai and sport an artwork that is downright awesome. The lobster-like creatures begin play with deadly crab-claws as well as Improved Grapple and may utilize their power over metal to form it into objects - an intriguing one, though a rather powerful race.


The hitogoi carp-people, denizens of freshwater, are accomplished craftsmen, while sea kappas have a cool twist: These kappa sport a bubble on their head - as lunged creature, they need to resurface to refill their bubble, otherwise following the mythology regarding the Strength-draining effects of a kappa's bowl being emptied. The four-armed mizugumo, bell spider-like centaur-y individuals with 4 arms may be powerful, but needing both lungs and requiring fresh water means that they ultimately are fragile as far as their ecological niche is considered. Like the heikegani, though, they can be considered one of the more powerful races that can cause issues in less high-powered games that handwave the complex interactions of depth etc. and have a different focus. And yes, they can weave spider silk. The Mizugumo also have a lopsided attribute-distribution in favor of the physical, while the river ningyo is lopsided in favor of the mental attributes.


The shark-like Sembito with their blindsense, blood fury and emphasis on physical attributes similarly are a bit lopsided in their focus on physical prowess. The bioluminescent Suibo, gorgeous jelly-fish people with their tendrils and boneless bodies similarly adheres to this, slightly more advanced power-curve, while the fearless Uobei, based on betta-fish, once again adhere to a slightly more conservative racial balancing. The races all feature age, height and weight tables and generally can be considered to adhere to roughly two different power-levels -there are some races here obviously intended for lower-powered games, while the others exceed them, but remain on a level playing field amongst themselves. Now noted, depth tolerance and racial buoyancy as well as lungs/gills and salt/fresh-water all constitute balancing mechanisms that can be used to reign them in, but it's still a component I wished had been handled slightly more streamlined, perhaps with scaling options for the races.


The next chapter would be devoted to class options, with a short discussion on class roles in the context of Celadon Shores being the first component...and thereafter, we have samurai orders. Not one, not two - 7 full-blown orders with their own edicts and abilities can be found on these pages, constituting the single largest concentration of orders designed for the class I know of. The order of the crab is an order of dedicated bodyguards that can mitigate attacks on allies, while the order of the crane is a specialist of non-lethal combat and taking foes in alive. The sebek-ka-exclusive order of the crocodile is thoroughly devoted to the emperor and may enhance their defenses with a variable mystical armor that allows for some flexibility regarding special qualities added. The order of the imperial dragon may negate crits/sneak attacks a limited amount of times per day and is basically the most "default" feeling of the orders, while the order of the shark can cause retributive bleed damage and, at high levels, maintain functionality while near death - and even transcend death, provided he can keep on dishing out ever increasing amounts of damage. The order of the snake gets poison use and vindictive, retributive attacks, while the order of the wheel is all about the elements and a serene understanding of the forces of the world, allowing him to ignore certain amounts of damage a limited number of times per day. All in all, a flavorful, well-crafted array of diverse orders here!


The book also contains multiple relatively complex archetypes for your perusal, the first of which would be the hoiyomi wizard - these guys don't have spellbooks; instead, they have spell tattoos, which they can quickly and temporarily apply to their skin. Beyond regular magical tattoos, they also receive at higher levels the option to spontaneously convert spells into blasts of energy and their familiars similarly are tattoos they can call forth from their skin. Nice one! And yes, the capstone ability allows them to make the tattoos of targets rip them practically asunder.


The kawakage is an archetype of the mariner class, modifying the movement superiority of the base class to particularly affect the interaction with rapids, waves on water and even offer land speeds that don't suck quite as hard as those of many a race herein - particularly in a world where the land/fresh/salt-water differences become important, this one makes for a well-crafted, intriguing choice. The Yamabushi presented here would be a variant of the paladin class who is particularly focused on upholding the natural order and as such, opposed to the undead, though at the cost of lay on hands and mercies.


The book also sports two base classes, the first of which would be the Godaikishi, who gets simple and martial weapon as well as shield proficiency, d10, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves. The class is determined by the attunement with a mystic element, with an additional element being gained at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. The element chosen determines other class abilities and changing attunement is a full-round action. While unarmored, the class adds Wis-mod to AC and CMD and sports a scaling bonus as well, though the attuned element determined the additional effects conveyed by this mystic armor, ranging from being treated as spiked to offering protection versus the cold climate. At 5th level, a similar enhancement based on the attuned element is available for the weaponry of the class. The class can also generate an elemental lash to add to his regular attack, a kind of elemental-themed smite, if you will, with daily uses scaling over the levels.


2nd level provides a 1/2 level-based scaling elemental touch as well as growing resistance versus elements that can later be extended to allies. Said resistance also becomes full-blown immunity at higher levels, which is interesting. At 4th level, these guys can unleash the elemental touch within sight as a ray...though one that could have used a proper range - as written, it's line of sight - granted, not as far underwater, but still...fixed values tend to be less prone to abuse than sight. 4th level provides arcane spells of up to 4th level, curiously governed by the Wisdom modifier, which need to be prepared and are drawn from the spell-list of the class. Higher levels provide SR and full-blown immunity to spells and effects of certain descriptor and, rather intriguing, the capstone is similarly variable and dependant on the attuned element. All in all, a well-crafted elemental-themed class that did not bore me - the relative simplicity of the class and its great magical defenses make this a relevant addition to the game., though I really wished it got 4 skills instead of just 2.


The second class is the Wokou, who gets d10, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light armor and buckler and gets full BAB-progression as well as good Reflex-saves. They also begin play with an animal companion - and this is pretty much one factor of the class: Basically, the wokou is a teamwork-based pet-class with a front-line fighter who can ignore difficult terrain, with higher levels providing size-increases, abilities like evasion and (improved) uncanny dodge and the like, while also sporting a secondary focus on intimidating foes. There's nothing wrong with this class, but it is very linear - not much choice or strategy beyond the base framework. Not bad by any means, but not mind-boggling either.


The book also sports two PrCs, both spanning 10 levels. The Mambabarang gets d6, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB, Fort- and Ref-progression and 1/2 spells per day progression...and the PrC is kinda awesome, if disturbing: You see, the idea here is to imbue spells with a range of touch in Vermin, which then receive improved defensive capabilities. The spells are then delivered to the target touched by the vermin. Yes, this is tactical and narrative gold. Furthermore, unnatural lust regarding vermin to recruit creepy-crawlies, gain a vermin companion and yes, they can make their creatures explode and clothe themselves in a halo of bugs - awesome, unique, fun and perfectly functional beyond the confines of the waves, this is one of the best vermin master/caster type of takes I've seen in a long, long time. Kudos!


The Tsuwamono is a lawful PrC that gets d10, 4+Int skills, full BAB-progression and 1/2 Fort-progression as well as DR increasing from 1/- at 6th level to 5/- at 10th. They offer 1/2 challenge-progression and gain attribute bonuses as well as physical-attribute dependant bonus feats. At 4th level, they can manifest an ephemeral imperial sea dragon and maintain his presence for 4+Cha-mod rounds. 9th level allows them to 1/day declare an attack a natural 20 or maximum damage - both requiring the use before rolling the respective dice. A solidly-crafted PrC with a nice blend of unique abilities and a more common ones. Nothing to complain, though not as awesome as the Mambabarang.


Oh, but the lands of Nikaikoku have so much more to offer: The next chapter not only has detailed information on currency etc. - it also sports a colossal amount of weapons and armor - the weapon table alone spans two-pages! And yes, mounts can be found here as well and suffice to say, many of the weapons have rather lavish full-color illustrations, something that btw. extends to armors. And yes, the balance here is tight - kudos! Very important for the dynamics of this book would also be the Hitogoi inventions, which contain e.g. an apparatus that allows the wearer to breathe saltwater as though it were freshwater or bioluminescence suppressors. A significant array of racial feats can also be found here, though going through all of them would bloat this review even further. The array of new spells also features the respective dichotomy between salt water and fresh water and provides a pretty intriguing array of well-crafted spells - racial trail spells that provide continuous damage, loud gong strikes - the spells range from numerical effects to those that make sense from a utility perspective - nice. 5 magical items and 5 mystic shards can be found here as well - the latter of which represent the elements and probably, the fractured balanced of the very world: There is, for example, ghost water, which does not dissolve anything and refuses to freeze. Similarly, true steel or livewood allow for nice, mystical tricks - basically, these can be considered to be interesting magical materials that you can use for puzzles, explaining how things work and so much more. It's an uncommon item-class, but one I really adore.


The fifth chapter of this book covers the setting-information and as such. sports a glorious map of the area covered as well as information on sample cities, factions, languages, histories and deities as well as the racial histories of the people there, including remarkable NPC-write ups, though these remain fluff-only, we receive an inspired chapter that should suffice as a gazetteer to the region.


The next chapter once again displays one of the most impressive aspects of the Cerulean Seas - the bestiaries: The creatures sport awesome artworks, are concisely created and usually sport a whole array of unique abilities: What about a cross of a long-hair witch and a coral? Yes, this is just as disturbing as you think it would be. Or Foo Otters and Seals? Sea Worm/Cephalopod crossovers? Newts equipped with howdahs? Snail-Oni? Killer clams with tentacles? Oh YEAH! And trueform river otters made me flash back to South Park, but in an awesome way. As always, we get appendices: Monsters by CR and source book (and by freshwater/saltwater), a brief pronunciation guide (!!!), an index of tables, an index of art by artist, cardstock minis for PC-races and a colossal, detailed index that makes handling the book easy. Finally, we close with a brief haiku - as befitting this tome.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches - kudos to Margaret Hawkswood, Patricia Hisakawa and Steven O'Neal. Layout adheres to Alluria Publishing's gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf is fully bookmarked. Both cartography and artwork are STUNNING - the artwork in particular is absolutely gorgeous and reaches Paizo/WotC-levels in most cases - this is a truly gorgeous, beautiful book.


Emily Kubisz, with help from Sam G. Hing and Cameron Mount, has crafted yet another fantastic addition to the Cerulean Seas canon - this series of books continuously maintains an exceedingly high quality standard and produces a vision of a world both alien and familiar - one that suffused by the believable. Even biologists among my friends comment on how the books feel "right" to them, concise and ultimately, "realistic" - as far as a completely flooded world of fish people can be. But beyond the obvious usefulness in a Cerulean Sea context, quite a lot of the pieces herein, from classes to archetypes etc., can easily be scavenged for landlubbing Pathfinder campaigns - while the design-aesthetic tends to focus less on player agenda and variance than I'd like and while the balancing of the races is not always perfect, these components ultimately do not unduly mar the package as a whole: Celadon Seas sports a huge array of truly inspiring components and ideas, has a great bestiary and the overall quality is certainly impressive. The unique ideas like the mystic shards are inspiring -and I really wished the book had done a bit more with them, introduced perhaps devices or vehicles based on their fluctuation of the like - but I can't put that omission forth as a valid means of criticizing this book.


While I am not sold on the balance of all the races and while I really liked only one of the two classes, 1 of the PrCs, and at least the class/PrC components can be chalked up to personal taste....and there's a lot of other cool crunch to adore. In the overall context of this book, the flaws literally remain a drop of tainted water in the gorgeous, endless sea. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerulean Seas: Celadon Shores
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Occult Character Codex: Mediums
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2016 07:32:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Occult Character Codex-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page how-to-use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Occult Adventures is a great book, but the rather complex classes in the book do provide a challenge regarding time-investment to create sample NPCs. This is where this series comes in for the time-starved GM - basically, we have a collection of characters herein, spanning the CRs from 1 - 20, all ready and set for your perusal.


So how were they made? Well, for one, the builds use Pathfinder Unchained's automatic bonus progression, which means that the characters have a better chance to stand against the PCs sans flooding the campaign with magic items. The builds are not made to be sheer exercises in powergaming superiority that exist in a vacuum, instead championing the approach of making viable characters that work concisely as though they were proper characters, complete with a brief personality sketch, but expect no lengthy elaboration of motivations etc.. Options and buffs are included in the statblocks, though handy pre-buff sections provide the information sans them, should your PCs be able to catch the character unaware. There are also some minor pieces of advice for GMs using the character


As far as diversity of the statblocks is concerned, there is, particularly concerning the racial variety, enough going on: Beyond the core-races, we actually get e.g. centaurs and berbalangs. Now, as in previous installments, e.g. the berbalang and centaur-builds look similar in archetypes used, but that similarity comes apart almost immediately once you take a look at feat-choice, spells etc. - so no, no boring straight progressions.


Archetype-wise, we slightly deviate from the formula established by the series - that is, this time around, three archetypes are used in builds: Here, that would be the relic channeler and the storyteller and we also get a reanimated medium - unfortunately, the others aren't covered. On the plus-side, the tactics-section for the respective builds is relatively detailed and the statblocks include buff-suites, where applicable as well as stats for the unbuffed iterations of the respective character. Now, class-specific things to consider would be the following: The mediums presented here are presented with the spirit they usually channel - different spirits obviously have different ramifications. The general selection of spirits featured in the builds is pretty diverse. Taboos have not been preselected - an array of suggested taboos would have been nice. The pdf also noted that archmage's spells do not suffer from arcane spell failure and tactics are based on mediums not gaining additional influence.


The builds themselves, as organic characters, sport barkeepers, con artists and master merchants as well as adventurers; quite a few flavors are covered and provide different foci for the respective characters. Skills and magic item selection is similarly diverse, offering a broad selection of foci for the respective builds.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several beautiful pieces of full-color artwork, some old, some new. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience


Julian Neale's collection of mediums is diverse, concise and covers a significant array of different roles and builds. While I would have loved to see all archetypes covered, I get why not all of them are part of this pdf's cadre of NPCs. All in all, this is a solid collection of NPCs that does what it says on the tin. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Occult Character Codex: Mediums
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