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Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:42:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book is 64 pages long, with one page credits...and we actually get MORE out of the book than its 64 pages. How does that work? Well, let me elaborate.

This pdf is based on the second edition, primarily the print edition. It has received pretty much a selection of awards. So why review this now? Because all reviews I found did not really prepare me for what this book actually brings to the table.

So let's start with the obvious: This book is radically and systematically designed to make use of the features of the physicality of the medium book. The hardcover comes with a sleeve and on the inside of the sleeve, you get a massive full-color map that can be found via a secret link if you get the pdf version. The map , much like the cover image and interior artwork, all adhere to author Zak Sabbath's unique and distinct style - a style that may polarize, but personally, I enjoy the somewhat post-punk/post-gothic, fantastic anachronism that the depictions of the city as black claws rising from the world conveyed - my immediate association would be the BLAME manga-series and its sprawling, cruel structures...but this is no mere quote, it is an aesthetic vision and, as all good art does, it will not be to everyone's liking.

The book's structure. Well, on the inside of the sleeves and yes, throughout the book, would be instructions for charts: The front and back cover, on the inside and outside, provide charts, with representations of the claw-like sprawling city structures framed by numbers; by for example dropping dice on these artworks, you can, among other things, determine quick and dirty damage and attacks versus body parts or use it to jumpstart your imagination in a variety of other ways. One page away from the inside of the back cover (which btw. contains a gigantic table), we have a vast selection of professions - similarly, relations between them can thus be quickly determined. And indeed, while not all such functions championed by the book can be perfectly translated to all the different systems out there, I should not be remiss to mention that a significant section of this pdf is devoted to being basically one of the most amazing GM-aids I have ever read, regardless of the system you're using.

If you have ever read a fantasy book like China Miéville's brilliant Bas-Lag novels and wondered how to ever depict a sprawling metropolis like that in your game without resorting to copious levels of handwaving or gigantic tomes of prepared material - this book is the answer. the urbancrawling rules are meta and brilliant: The book sports a vast array of so-called urbancrawling rules and tricks that allow you to almost instantly generate whole neighborhoods, street webs, etc. - beyond the fantasy metropolis, these methods can easily be employed in pretty much any roleplaying context, whether you're going for the fantastic hive, a sprawling science-fiction station, non-Euclidean ruins... generating chaotic street-networks within a few minutes has been a boon for my own campaign ever since I read the ideas here. They may be deceptively simple, yes - but oh so effective. And no, I am not going to spoil the details here. Why? Because I really want you to get this book.

Now, these urbancrawling rules obviously can only provide the framework for an enterprising GM to use, but in conjunction with aforementioned graphs and tables, the book becomes more interesting. And if you require a vast array of detail, fret not, for a significant portion of the book is devoted to gigantic table upon table of names, professions, goals, names - and tying the NPCs together in social webs is similarly covered. I tried it. Within 30 minutes with this book, I can make a moderately detailed series of very professional feeling villages, neighborhoods and similar settlements. And I suck at drawing maps and am damn picky. And yes, from looted bodies to fortunes and magical effects, the strange and uncommon all tap into this massive dressing collection herein.

Now, the dressing here does depict the Vornheim setting; the Grey Maze, its sprawling spires rising from the arctic plane, a city near a forest that should not exist, of which scholars claim that the trees may be phlegmatic undead; a city wondrous and vile, near the city of goblins, situated on a hive of stone, ostensibly the result of legendary medusas once petrifying the flesh of whatever once was...the world?. Here, the church of the god of Iron, Rust and Rain and the church of the goddess of all flesh exist. It is within this city that the decadent upper class has taken to the fad of purchasing slow pets, highlighting their copious surfeit of spare time; it is here that sometimes, there are masquerades; sometimes, the gates are opened to the wolves. It is common knowledge that the skin of snakes and serpentine creatures are books that contain ancient secrets and that here, the wyvern of the well can be found - who will unerringly answer ONE question for any interlocutor. From the granary cats to the grub nagas and thornchildren, a selection of truly imaginative creatures inhabits this place...and a selection of superstitions can provide a vast array of different adventure hooks.

Which brings me to yet another aspect of the book: You see, Vornheim is ALSO a book containing three modules.

I'll be brief, but potential players should still jump to the conclusion. There are some SPOILERS to be found here.

...

..

.

The most common would be the House of the Medusa, wherein the PCs have to infiltrate the house of one of the fabled medusas...oh, and if they kill her, they may inadvertently de-petrify a significant part of the world, making it flesh once again...with far-reaching consequences.

The second module deals with the Immortal Zoo of Ping Feng, a menagerie of strange creatures gone totally rogue, where the primary antagonist of the book, the mastermind takes on a form most peculiar - and if the PCs don't want to brave all those lethal and unique creatures, they should be up to their A-game.

Thirdly, we have the labyrinthine puzzle-dungeon also known as the library of Zorlac, basically an interesting infiltration/espionage-scenario at your fingertips...or a truly strange place to visit and work in.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a very buy one-column or two-column standard, with a ton of information on every single page. The layout is obviously made for the A5-booklet (6'' by 9'') size, though I'd strongly suggest not printing out multiple pages on one sheet of paper here - the sheer information density means that the font becomes too small if you try that here. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The book is incredibly aesthetically pleasing if you enjoy Zak Sabbath's style of art, with layout using black frames on the pages - so yeah, this is not the most printer-friendly of books. And while the pdf does an admirable job at maintaining the raw functionality of the physical dead-tree hardcover, the sheer switching of sheets of paper takes a bit away from the immediate functionality when comparing the printed version or screen-version with the physical hardcover. The hardcover is the preferred version - with nice binding, sleeves and even the covers having a function...so yeah. If you can afford it, go for print.

Zak Sabbath's Vornheim is a piece of art that captured my interest to a higher extent that many, many books of ten times their page-count and more. As a GM-aid, this provides some phenomenally-innovative tools of the trade that even veteran GMs may not necessarily know yet - I learned more from this book's tricks than from any comparable GM-book, which is a feat in and of itself, considering the experience I have. While the quick-and-dirty attack-charts or any chart really, may not be for everyone, I'd be seriously surprised if any GM went into this book without some seriously cool new tool of the trade.

The city Vornheim itself represents one of the most evocative settlements I have read in a long time: Beyond the truly fantastic setting, its unconventional premises and unfettered, raw collection of absolutely inspired tidbits, the influences of contemporary weird fiction and the writings of Borges are readily apparent on every page. The city manages to evoke a sense of wonder only all too rarely still found among the settings out there - it is phenomenal and I would not have minded a 500-page tome on the city; it's brevity is almost painful, it's excellence achingly pronounced, particularly if you've found yourself bored with standard settlements and most so-called "fantastic" cities and customs.

The 3 modules contained herein all have different, interesting angles and while I explicitly remained brief in their descriptions, they similarly...well, are brief. They are interesting, evocative, inspired...but brief. Oh so brief.

You're probably seeing where this is going. Vornheim is, in all components of its content, whether as a GM-aid, as a sourcebook or regarding the modules included, a truly phenomenal offering; each component shines brightly like a cruel Northern star - but at the same time, while the components are interconnected, I could not help but feel like it was buckling under its own ambition - the book is so jam-packed, it strains at the seams and universally leaves the reader inspired and wiser, yes - but also wanting more. You will not finish reading this book and feel saturated. When I came to the end of the setting-section, I was disappointed I did not get more; the same held true for all other sections. This book represents a perfect kit to create a glorious city, a sprawling moloch. It perfectly depicts one of the most unique, fantastic cities I've read...but it may be, at times, too good, too inspired for its own sake.

I can absolutely see someone expecting a campaign setting/city-setting wanting more; I can see those craving adventures wanting more detail; I can see those that looked for the GM-aid components wanting to receive more dressing, more details, more tricks...but ultimately, all of these criticisms are not fair. Do I believe that this, at double the page count, would have been even better? Heck yes. Do I want a full-blown, massive sourcebook on Vornheim, perhaps a whole mega-campaign or AP set in it? OH YES. Yes, please. But the thing is - the book does not try to be just a city sourcebook; just some modules, just some game-aids - while the amalgamation of these components may put a strain on the reader, they also force the GM's hand.

Vornheim says: "This is what you can do with the book. Want more? Then strain your creativity, use your own brain. CREATE." This book, in short, forces the GM to act, to create. It strips away the pretensions, the excuses we make time and again and tells us to make its contents our own, make this grey maze our grey maze. Sure, we may crave just consumption - but this does not try to be simply consumed - it forces you to create, by virtue of its own brilliance.

All the accolades heaped upon this book are justified. While the pdf loses a bit of the impact of its physicality in the electronic version, I still consider this to be one truly amazing, unique book that should grace the shelves of any self-respecting GM. It is a brilliant exercise in inspiration, a rallying call to flex one's own creative muscles - it is, in short, an intoxicating vision. Get this.

My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval. And yes, this receives the EZG-Essential-tag. This belongs into the library of any advanced GM.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
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Campaign Kits: What Lies in the Shadows Under the Trees
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:40:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Kits-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, what are campaign kits? Basically, they are backdrops and encounters that you can insert into your campaign; in previous installments, we had the skeleton of a village, loosely tied to a theme. This theme is represented in more detail by a collection of more detailed encounters that provide a tad bit more detail - haunts, traps and statblocks for these brief adventure/sidetrek-sketches are included. This installment differs a bit from previous installments of the series - instead of focusing on encounters that are intended for the use with pretty much any forested terrain.

This time around, the encounters contained here will range from level 1 to level 6 and have not hub to tie them together - think of this instead as a general sidetrek-encounter-collection. Got that? Great!

In order to go into more details, I have to start with SPOILERS now...thus, potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Okay, only GMs around? Great! The first locale/encounter-sequence takes place in an ancient fey burial site and features the altercations with a leaf ray and a jack-o'-lantern, with options to put the spookyness to rest. At level 2, we have a little safari scenario that can result in an evil druidic item to be found and destroyed. The second level 2 scenario presented here focuses on defending a caravan versus roving goblinoids.

More interesting would be the level 3 encounter up next, which is an interesting twist - the PCs encounter a man who asks them to help prevent further disappearances of loggers; what might first look like an opportunity to save a damsel in distress...who turns out to be a rather pissed off dryad who is NOT in a good mood...including her enslaved humanoids and assassin vine...

The next level 3 encounter would be a hunting party scenario, complete with traps and moss trolls potentially trading places as hunters and hunted in the interaction with the PCs. The next encounter does have a sad dimension to the proceedings - the PCs happen upon a down on his luck ringmaster and the tiny, dilapidated circus he owns...and, as they take a closer look, they are attacked by the unleashed beasts, as the sad ringmaster tries everything to feed his hungry dire wolverine, owlbear , etc. - if you enjoy a melancholic downer-encounter once in a while, this certainly delivers.

The encounter for level 4 would be "Don't Open the Gate!", where the PCs stumble upon an evil acolyte trying to open the very gates of the abyss, conjuring forth demons - pretty straightforward. The level 5 encounter centers on the plight of a druidess, who has a bug-issue, powered by the evil magics of a hostile witch - an extermination job for pros! At 5th level, the PCs can also be hired by saddened folks who think that local brownies have turned evil - though the culprits for the recent deaths, as it turns out, would be fire drakes.

The level 6 encounter speaks of a mist-shrouded tower in the forest and braving the locale will require the defeat of a wood golem as well as the besting of Twigsnap, gnomish necromancer par excellence. As always, we get stats for the creatures and NPCs encountered in the respective encounters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a very nice, aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard and the pdf features some really nice full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kalyna Conrad's collection of forest encounters is fun, diverse and hits some nice notes in some of the respective encounters. Not all are mega-interesting, but for what they try to do and the relatively fair price-point, I can see these work as an expansion for the sidetrek-folder of most GMs. I generally like the options here and they certainly are worth the low asking price for the convenience of the stats, the set-ups, etc. - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. Nice one!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Kits: What Lies in the Shadows Under the Trees
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Darkfire Adept
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:37:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.

Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.

Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the blackfire adept, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. Darkfire adepts begin play with an evil cleric's aura and the ability to spontaneously convert spells into summon monster, with 2nd level providing the Sacred Summons feat. 4th level yields Augment Summoning and makes the adept qualify as having the Spell Focus (conjuration)-feat for prereq-purposes.

At 3rd level, the character chooses an evil outsider, including asura, qlippoths, rakshasa, etc., gaining +1 to Cl, saves, Charisma ability and skill-checks versus these and when using planar ally/binding, +2 HD of outsiders of the chosen subtype may be called, which also gain the darkfire adept's class level as temporary hit points as well as a bonus of +1 to saves and to DCs to banish/dispel them. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield another outsider type to choose from, additionally increasing the aforementioned bonus types by a further +1. Starting at 6th level, the character receives the darkfire taint, which may be executed as a standard action versus a target within 30 feet - the target receives a save penalty versus the adept and the adept a bonus to atk and CL-checks. The taint lasts class level rounds and increases in potency at 12th and 18th level to +/-2 and +/-3, respectively. At 8th level, prepared spell or spell slots of 4th level or higher may be sacrificed in order to generate a darkfire eruption, which doubles as a slightly improved unholy blight - one with slightly more damage, that ignores hardness and disintegrates those slain. Beware, do-gooders!

9th level allows for the sacrifice of a prepared spell or spell slot to bypass summon-warding, with lower levels than the wards only allowing for a check and 16th level allowing for the use of this ability to work even in magic-dead environments and similarly powerful effects. At 10th level, summoning evil subtype (not alignment!) creatures is only a standard action for the darkfire adept. Here, an unfortunate typo has crept into the pdf - it should be "Note", not "Not". Starting at 13th level, creatures of the chosen darkfire pact retain their summoning options, which can get pretty crowded...but interestingly, such creatures are not under the darkfire adept's control, which makes the whole endeavor a dangerous proposal. Starting at 14th level, the darkfire adept may decrease damage inflicted by the attack of a creature versus a target affected by his darkfire taint by 1 hit point per class level as a swift action - if he does and the being is slain, he gains the target creature's HD as temporary hit points. As a capstone, the darkfire adept may use his darkfire eruption as an immediate action whenever a conjuration effect happens nearby (Nasty and not necessarily intentional - that includes healing spells! The wording makes me think that this should only work for conjuration [teleportation] and summoning effects...), potentially dropping foes on evil planes...talk about expressway to hell...

As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror, summoner and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a darkfire adept based on one of those classes, you're in luck. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!

Carl Cramér's darkfire adept is an interesting, generally well-crafted prestige archetype - while the summoning aspect is slightly problematic as a system-inherent component, the prestige archetype's darkfire taint makes for a fun base mechanic, though one that could have been tied even more into the summoning aspect: The mechanic is cool and having more options for combo-gameplay would have helped to set this fellow further apart. This is not bad, but it is also not a mindblowing installment -all in all a solid one that deserves a final verdict of 3.5 stars...and I'll round up for it, courtesy of the fair price and the fact that it does not deserve being called mediocre.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Darkfire Adept
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Campaign Kits: Maidenhill and Her Many Secrets
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/27/2017 05:35:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Campaign Kits-series clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is a campaign kit? The simple reply to this question is that is somewhere between a dressing file and a sequence of encounters that can be developed into basically a collection of different little modules. We get the small city of Maidenhill, with full-color map (alas, sans key-less version, but since it has no SPOILERS, I'm okay with it) and settlement statblock - Maidenhill can easily be placed in pretty much any campaign setting: You just need a forest and a river.

The city itself is pretty sketch-like and basic in its depiction - it basically acts as a kind of everyday village backdrop for the encounters/adventure-sketches presented herein; we get 2 level 1, 2 and 3 encounters/modules as well as 1 for levels 4, 5, 6, and 7. Why am I using these brackets? Well, the respective sections do provide the required statblocks to run them in appendices, but as a whole, these scenarios are basically organic little sidetreks - they are basically starts and set-ups for modules, but still require the GM to steer the respective adventure and build upon it.

Okay, got that? Great, so let's take a look at these, so let's dive deep into SPOILER territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So, the angles for the level 1 would be that transients have been going missing - travelers, homeless...but why? Is the mayor involved? What about the rumor that a local vampire is covertly living here, tolerated for as long as he leaves the locals alone? Fact or fiction - the GM decides. The second one has the PCs hunt down a particularly nasty wild boar that has attacked a supply train...which yields not only a reward in food, but also in bacon.

At 2nd level, we have an investigation of a mill haunted by ill-fortune, where components of the mill can turn out to be pretty dangerous traps...and pugwampis need to be purged from the building. The second level 2 scenario. The second scenario is pretty hilarious - and focuses on an elderly lady cursing the male population of the town with baldness...and it turns out the old lady did have her reasons for doing so!

At 3rd level, PCs will get a chance to solve a brief trail of clues for a little investigation after a robbery; and the second of the little encounters would be a minor goblin extermination. The level 4 set-up deals with the logging community aspect of the settlement and requires that the PCs catch an elven anti-deforestation activist. The level 5 encounter builds upon a very important component for the peace and morale of any frontier town: Namely, the PCs are asked by one of the prostitutes of the settlement to help them - two of their profession have been killed and the trail leads to a rather nasty, religious bigot. At level 6, the pdf offers perhaps the best of the angles - there is a tragic mansion out of town, one haunted by the spirits of tragedies past...but in the past, these spirits, also represented by nice haunts, have remained contained to the place...but now, an infamous highwayman has taken up residence in the mansion...and in order to restore peace, the PCs will have to deal with this intruder.

Finally, for level 7, we go full circle - remember that level 1 hook about the vampire hiding in the settlement? Well the highest level set up is all about taking down this vampire alchemist and his spawn. The pdf also feature a bunch of statblocks for the beings featured herein and two smaller maps for locales featured herein beyond the town map.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice, aesthetically-pleasing 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf features really nice, picturesque full-color artworks. Cartography is decent and functional, but not as impressive as the artworks.

Kalyna Conrad's Maidenhill makes for a great little base between big adventures; it is a change of pace in as far as it is really, really down-to-earth; even the traditionally more scary set-ups are relatively benevolent in their resolution,, evoking the equivalent of a fantastic small-town's tasks. This campaign kit does not sport world-changing events or the like; instead it acts as a nice grounding between bigger tasks and adventures. While the town could use a bit more detail in the beginning and a handy summary of key personalities or the like, Maidenhill makes for a great little home away from home for adventurers. It may not be a spectacular book and a little bit too idyllic and picturesque, but it is a very useful and inexpensive one for the amount of content provided. Hence, my final verdict for this neat little offering will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Kits: Maidenhill and Her Many Secrets
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Deep Magic: Rune Magic
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2017 11:11:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

The second installment of Kobold Press' Deep Magic-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Rune magic works differently from other magic types in its PFRPG-version - and so it makes sense to use a different system in 5e as well: There is a feat called Rune Knowledge, which nets knowledge of 2 runes of the player's choice, granting the respective rune bonuses. Additionally, once per day, you can invoke a rune's rune power, provided you meet the prerequisite, for several runes have several rune powers, with progressively better ones being unlocked later. The feat may be taken additional times, with each additional time granting access to more runes and their powers. As a nitpick, I think rune powers should not be tied to days, but long rest intervals, but that is a mostly cosmetic gripe.

There is a follow-up feat, analogue to PFRPG: Rune Mastery. This feat requires the previous feat and grants you access to one rune mastery effect. As a minor complaint: While rune mastery abilities have prerequisite levels, the feat, unlike its brother, does not mention the requirement of meeting that prerequisite, which is relevant since some rune mastery powers don't unlock at 8th level, but rather at 13th or as late as 15th level, for example. Again, I think tying them to rest intervals instead of enforcing a hard daily cap would have made sense for rune mastery powers as well.

A rune's save throw DC is dependent on the rune employed - if it forces a Cha-save, for example, it employs Cha as governing attribute for the save, which follows the default 8 + rune maker's ability bonus + rune maker's proficiency bonus. In another cosmetic hiccup that will not influence the final verdict, usually you list the proficiency bonus first. Anyways, the runes are based on the FuÞark and basic meanings are noted.

Yes, meanings. Plural. The runes were not necessarily used as classic letters, but also have a very significant symbolic meaning...which is btw. the reason I almost get an aneurysm whenever someone wears some piece of gaudy jewelry that uses runes as a letter-substitution. Ahem. Anyways, their benefits run a pretty wide array of different benefits - the goal, from a design perspective, is obviously based on establishing breadth, rather than depth: While many runes provide minor bonuses to a certain skill (rune bonuses), the runes are more remarkable for the breadth they provide: Take the very first one, Algiz: It allows you to create elk horn wands, which represent a new magic item that allows the wielder to generate saving throw bonuses for a brief time and enhances dispelling. As a rune power, the user may scratch it on a wall or structure, granting bonuses to saves and effects versus sleep or unconsciousness that last for 8 hours.

Many of these runes are not only balanced by the steep cost of two feats, but also by their cultural context, hard-wired into the very design of the respective runes, with several explicitly stating that they unleash their power only versus foes of the Aesir, who have wrung their control from the well of Mimir. (Insert long-winded and at this time redundant digression about Norse mythology you have by now hear x times from me here...)

This contextualizes them well and makes them feel infused with the culture...and also provides a rationale for their design-philosophy deviating slightly from what you usually receive in 5e. In short: They behave like their own engine, which is something I applaud, considering that, at least as far as my experiences are concerned, it is said sub-engines that make certain class choices more popular than others in 5e. It is also why I am not complaining about colons instead of full stops in the formatting of the rune abilities.

I digress. I should also mention that several runes have multiple rune mastery powers, though only one can be invoked for each rune, with the benefits ranging from local plant growth to communing with the dead, making an item teleport out of a creature's hand once it dies...there is some serious narrative potential here, as several runes practically beg both players and GMs to embark on a collective narrative experience. Only one rune got a bit lost: Poor Raido does not have a rune mastery power, though its brief water walking and forced march enhancing capabilities make for a nice basic rune. One more thing that will make this pdf instantly more compelling to quite a few of my readers out there, a fact that very much makes this a viable purchase even if you're not interested in the concept of runes:

This installment of deep magic introduces the snowblindness condition and the 4-stage frostbite/hypothermia-engine, which ties into the amazing exhaustion mechanics of 5e (seriously, I love them!). These alone may be enough to justify getting this book, I kid you not. I am a big fan of environmental/wilderness gaming and 5e's base engine does a nice job at portraying a rigorous adventuring life in regular climates, but in the more extreme zones, it needed this expansion. Seriously: Massive kudos!

These conditions, btw., do not exist in their own little universe - instead, the runes and new spells make nice use of them and their effects. Speaking of spells: perhaps my favorite blending of runes and spells is that there are rune rituals that follow pretty much the format of rituals, but which can only be learned by the rune associated with them: Whether you wish to call forth the vaettir (whose stats are reprinted from the ToB) to transforming creatures into lycanthropes...the applications are fun. Now personally, I do believe that Tyr's Peace should rather be Forseti's Peace, considering that Tyr's area or expertise was primarily judgment/justice in regards to warfare, while the ritual penalizes bloodshed in general, not just among previous combatants...but one could argue for Tyr just as well...so yeah, I'm good with these.

I am NOT good with all of the new and updated spells herein.While not all spells have been streamlined (fire under the tongue is still pitiful for a 1st level spell...which hurts, considering the cool visuals!), the revised version has been improved in that regard. Still, not as cool as the rune section, which is a pity, for concept-wise, quite a few of these are amazing.

Beyond aforementioned wand, we get the nithing pole wondrous item, which promises a curse to the named person that dares approach it. Two thumbs up! Now, I already mentioned the Vaettir, but one of my favorites from Northlands, the tupilak golem at challenge 4 can also be found within this supplement...and its 5e-iteration is surprisingly brutal for its challenge. I mean it. Love this guy...but if you encounter it...run and do your legwork, otherwise you'll be in for pain!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice too grievous hiccups. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several truly gorgeous full-color artworks, some of which are original, while the vaettir, for example, will be familiar to owners of the ToB. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but not to individual runes or spells.

Chris Harris delivers regarding rune magic: I really, really like how he has converted the engine; the magic is suffused by a sense of the primal and fantastic, it breathes mythology and its generally conservative, but narrative-wise relevant bonuses and tricks are a boon and just make for great story-telling. I really like them. I ADORE the hypothermia-engine and snowblindness as well and the critters would similarly receive two thumbs up from me. While I have nitpicked quite a bit in the beginning, if that was all, I'd frankly slap, gladly, my seal on this. I like how this behaves as an engine, I like the wealth of options it provides and how it can be used to run gritty campaigns - I could see myself running a game sans regular magic, with only the runes in a really gritty setting.

The spells, while improved, are still not perfect examples of their craft, though they are theme-wise strong. Hence, my final verdict can "only" clock in at EDIT: 4.5 stars, and I feel I can't round up for this one, though I still HIGHLY recommend getting this if you plan on playing any adventure in the frigid landscapes of the North.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Rune Magic
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Deep Magic: Clockwork
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2017 10:58:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Deep Magic-series of 5e-pdfs clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, almost one page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are few aspects I associate as much with Kobold Press' phenomenal Midgard-setting as clockwork magic. (In fact, only one: Fey...but I digress..) The magic which spread from the by now legendary city of Zobeck across the disk (Midgard's flat) is evocative and interesting...so how has it been translated to 5e? Well, beyond two clockwork-associated gods (surprisingly missing Rava!) after a brief introduction to the history of clockwork magic, we dive right into a new cleric domain, the, surprise, clockwork domain.

The domain nets proficiency in clockmaker's tools and heavy armor as well as advantage on attacks versus clockworks and constructs, with the spell-dispersal making sense and good use of the new material herein. Channel divinity lets the cleric hijack constructs if they fail a Wisdom saving throw - if they badly fail their save, the control extends in duration. Starting at 6th level, spells used to repair damage to clockwork creatures etc. always restore maximum possible hit points, which I consider problematic, considering the presence of a clockwork PC-race among the roster for Midgard - a purely gearforged group, for example. 8th level, you can designate a controlled construct within 60 ft. as a viable target for spells that usually only target the cleric. 17th level nets the ability to merge with a construct controlled, restoring all hit points. For the duration, you gain all immunities and qualities of the construct and may cast spells, use class features, etc. This can only be used once per long-rest-interval. I assume that this includes access to the special traits and features of the creature merged with, but I am not 100% sure - the ability could be slightly more precise here.

The warlock also receives support here, to be precise, the great machine patron. At 1st level, the warlock may decide to spring ahead in the initiative order to right before a given creature, and yes, this ability is concise and covers the changes in the order properly. This one, much like 6th level's ability, recovers on a short or long rest. 6th level's ability lets you reroll a missed attack witha dvantage. 10th level provides immunity to psychic damage and mind reading, unless you allow it and 14th level allows you to designate a creature within 60 ft. The creature must succeed a Charisma save versus spell save DC or take 10d10 psychic damage and must make another Cha-save to avoid being stunned for 1 minute. Once again, short or long rest to recharge.

Pact boon-wise, the warlock may choose a clockwork familiar, a changing blade or a pocket-sized device that replaces a book. Three eldritch invocations allow for gear barrage, +1d6 fire damage in melee and reflexive 1d6 fire damage as well as the option to overcome construct immunity to being frightened and charmed.

Wizards may opt for the path of the clockwork mage, who gain an aforementioned clockwork familiar. Their school lets them halve time and gold it costs to add a clockwork spell to the spellbook. The duration of animate constructs increases by proficiency bonus minutes, with 20th level providing permanence instead. 6th level nets metal shape, which lets you reshape metal of size Small or smaller under your control. Here's the amazing: For once, the ability requires familiarity with an object - no easy cheating via key-generation. Cool! 10th level nets golem form, which lets you retain mental faculties, but lets you assume the physical characteristics of a golem/clockwork creature with a CR less than the current level, lasting up to 1 minute per level. 14th level allows for an Int-based hijacking of constructs, analogue to the cleric tricks.

The pdf, after several class lists of spells, then begins to introduce new and updated spells: These include absolute command that lets you issue commands to constructs, animating constructs with size by spell slot and base stats for each. Armored heart nets an interesting option to, as a bonus action, gain resistance to the 3 physical damage types for 1 round, enhancing potential defense/withdraw-sections. Taking on a zelekhut's powers (stats included) - there are some cool tricks here. EDIT: catapult now specifies the damage type it inflicts

Rust is added to the list of afflictions available via contagion...all in all, a well-made selection of options. You don't know what rust does? Well, thankfully, the pdf does cover this! A ritual for hellforged gearforged allows for an interesting variant of the gearforged race. Sacrificing a construct to temporarily imbue a target with construct-tricks...very cool. Speaking of which - have I mentioned the spell that uses a music box to rip open the planes, allowing them to partially overlap? Pendulum is interesting as well, locking d20-throws at 20, 1, 19, 18...which is generally cool, but considering that it's concentration, up to 1 minute, it kind of loses a bit of its sting and is a better buff than debuff, which is pretty surely not how it was intended, unless it's supposed to be just one half swing of a pendulum. Interaction with memory gears and winding keys is intriguing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and now also on a formal level. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports high-quality artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the class features, but not the individual spells.

Scott Carter's translation of clockwork magic to 5e constitutes a well-crafted first installment for the series, though one that misses a couple of minor beats. There are some serious gems here and much of the interaction with e.g. gearforged etc. and the magic aspects that are integral to Midgard have been properly presented. While not perfect, this is a nice, inexpensive pdf and as such receives a final verdict of EDIT: Some glitches have been ironed out, which adds + 0.5 stars to the final verdict. Due to my in dubio pro reo policy, the final verdict will be rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Clockwork
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In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:06:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the amazing "In the Company..."-series, my go-to-series for playable monsters, clocks in at a mighty 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin with a gorgeous image of a letter, representing the correspondence of Pers Veilborn with Qwilion of Questhaven, contextualizing the pdf within the context of the series in an awesome hint of a frame-narrative. Speaking of which - in case you are not familiar with the series, let it be known that you're in for a treat: The installment thankfully follows in the tradition of the pdfs, as it depicts the introduction to the race herein, at least partially, from the in-character perspective of its members, making the pdf actually nice to read. (So not kidding you - I read a lot of racial pdfs and most are DRY. This is not. This is actually something you want to read.) While the narrator this time around is less opinionated and more laid back and neutral in his descriptions, the sections still deserve being called prose and represent more than just an accumulation of game data.

Beyond the vivid prose, the introduction, the recap of the culture and peculiarities of the genie-mindset serves another crucial task, namely to contextualize and elaborate the very mindset of the race in question. In this instance, it is not any being that narrates this pdf, but the very last lord of the janni - and thus we learn of the proxy wars that have almost undone the equilibrium that our world requires to prosper; and indeed, the lord seems to have closed the pass in a final act of preserving our world; has left agents to help us withstand the elemental onslaught of the genie, if push comes to shove.

The jann are made of the stuff of this plane, yet distinct from it and the origin myth for their race - it is also via this origin myth that the concept of the trapped janni is explained in a metaphysically concise manner that makes sense within the context of the game. Similarly, their behavior and role on both elemental and material planes is elaborated upon and helps picture the race within the realm of the game world's cosmology. The level of detail we expect extends to the janni and their interactions with adventurers, faith and society, allowing for a pretty detailed starting point for any players electing to play a janni - which is amazing and something that should frankly be standard: Races are more than just an accumulation of dry stats and have so much more potential, need so much more to feel distinct. From all of these to nomenclature, the fluff presented is nice and evocative indeed.

But what about the crunch? Janni receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, are Medium native outsiders, get low-light vision and choose a dominant element at character creation. Their diversity is represented in an array of racial traits, two of which are chosen at character creation. These sometimes interact with the dominant element chosen and include bonuses to atk and Knowledge versus the efreet, superb adaptation that makes it easier to blend into larger communities, element-dependant bonuses to skills, elemental-dependant caster level bonus, natural armor, darkvision 60 ft., skill-check-bonuses while near large bodies of water and the like - and yes, even RP-based scavenging of other race abilities - though in a limited capacity. The base race, in short, is perfectly balanced and can work in any high- or low-fantasy context without any snags. Big kudos! Also: Age, height and weight table is included in the deal. The favored class options presented include core and APG-races, magus, bloodrager, kineticist and vigilante, tie in well with the race's themes and do not sport any problems.

All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the racial archetypes contained herein, the first of which would be the Jann Fury bloodrager, who is locked into either the destined or elemental bloodline, but also gets to choose a jann path from the list available to the jann racial paragon class - said path must correspond to the element chosen or be the true jann path, gaining the listed class skills.

Let's make a quick detour here to talk about these paths. The racial paragon class chooses one such path at 1st level; these paths each add two class skills to their list and determine the type of points contained in another class feature, the elemental pool: The path of Djinn, for example, adds air empathy points. These elemental paths behave somewhat akin to bloodlines in that they provide a so-called path inheritance at 2nd level and every even level thereafter up until 10th level. To retain the example of the path of the djinn, we begin with +2 to initiative at 2nd, + class level acid resistance at 4th level and 6th level allows for the option to concentrate and remain motionless for 3 rounds - if the character does, he can pinpoint hidden corporeal creatures and may extend this sense even around blockages, provides she could bypass them. 8th level allows for 5-foot-steps in difficult terrain and 10th level provides the limited ability to assume a whirlwind form for a scaling number of rounds per level. You're no doubt noticing that the abilities actually provide some cool tactical tricks and this indeed extends to the other oaths: Fire damage for AoOs, ignoring limited amounts of fire resistance, vortex form and a combo of bull rush and grapple can be found...oh, and what about bull rushing foes into the earth? The janni choice is the most flexible of them, obvious, but also has the least raw power, with high-level options allowing for prolonged existence on the elemental planes. How? Well, they get to choose their resistance. Pretty cool.

However, the path is further entwines with the racial paragon class - you see, starting at 10th level, the jann paragon may cast plane shift 1/day as a SP and is furthermore considered to be a noble specimen of the respective race. At this point, the chosen path further determines the ability unlocked - which, in this case, would be the ability to assume an alternate form while on the corresponding elemental plane; in some cases, the ability also bestows passive always-on benefits like a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. At this halfway point, the benefits of the chosen path also change: From here on out, at 12th level and every 2 additional levels thereafter, the jann gets to choose a so-called noble inheritance from a list provided by the respective path. In short - these behave more like talents. The noble inheritances include the respective energy immunities, select SPs to conform with the noble genies and upgrades, like a better vortex form, but also sport e.g. fire-to-fire teleportation, causing tremors and the like. As a minor complaint - some abilities build upon other noble inheritances or elemental powers and don't require their prerequisites to take, which can leave an inexperienced player with a dud-choice if they don't read the pdf properly. That being said, since they are unlocked at 12th level, a player at this point is not inexperienced, hence this gets a pass.

All right, got that all? Great, let's get back to the jann fury for now. Instead of the bloodline power of 1st level, the jann fury receives an elemental pool with the corresponding affinity and also learns one elemental power from a limited list - more on those concepts later in the racial paragon discussion. 3rd level yields the 2nd level path inheritance of the chosen path, with 7th level providing the 6th level path inheritance and 10th level providing the 8th level path inheritance. Starting at 13th level, the bloodrager receives a noble inheritance, plus an additional one every 3 levels thereafter. This does eliminate blood sanctuary and DR. 4th level yields the 1st level bloodline power and the 4th level path inheritance, but eliminates the 4th level bloodline power. Bloodrage is gained at 4th level and at -3 class levels. 13th level yields the noble janni benefits instead of 13th level's bloodline spells and 16th level's bloodline power and 20th level replaces the bloodline capstone with that of the racial paragon class.

The second archetype contained herein would be the primal weaver kineticist. These guys gain the same diluted path ability as the bloodrager archetype, modifying class skill selection. Elemental focus must correspond to the choice made here and at 7th and 15th level, the primary element must be chosen as expanded element. At the lower, even levels that would yield path inheritances, we receive those instead of the utility wild talents. Instead of metakinesis (quicken), the character receives the noble janni ability. 17th level replaces metakinesis (double) with a noble inheritance and 20th level replaces the omnikinesis capstone with that of the racial paragon class. The archetypes, while flavorful and tied in well with the base class, did not absolutely blow me away, so let's take a look at the racial paragon class now.

The jann class' framework is powerful: Full BAB-progression, 6 +Int skills per level, d10 HD and good Ref- and Will-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons...but not with armors or shields. Now, I already mentioned the elemental pool: Gained at 1st level. This pool contains 3 + Class level elemental affinity points. While the jann paragon has at least one elemental affinity point, he can, as a swift action, use detect magic or conjure forth images and shapes from nearby elements...which is a nice, flavorful ability.

Beyond the aforementioned path and its benefits, the class also gains elemental powers - the first is chosen at 1st level and another is unlocked at every 2 levels after 1st. Elemental powers represent active abilities that are supernatural or spell-like abilities, with a save DC equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier, if applicable. These abilities require the expenditure of the respective elemental affinity points: In order to use elemental powers that require fire empathy, you need to, obviously, be able to use fire empathy points, with costs ranging from 1 - 3 points. Elemental powers with a cost of 1 point can be activated as a move action, while more costly tricks require a standard action to activate. Thus, the choice of path also influences the choices available here. However, quite a few of the abilities featured in this selection are available for multiple paths, allowing the janni to pay the cost in one of multiple affinities. These choices generally make sense: Control water requires the use of water affinity points, for example, while control weather can be paid for with either air or water affinity points. Beyond the obvious, offensive fire burst and similar options, you'll also find some unique options - like the ability to control the density of water to keep people afloat or make them sink, so depending on your priorities/build, you can actually provide some unique utility options. At range combat maneuvers via earthen hands or bursts of air also allow the character to engage in some soft battlefield control. Conjuring forth elemental shields or turning into scaling elemental body shapes. Choking others, dealing minor damage or adding a debuff can also provide some hard controlling actions, while creating clouds of elemental energy or mounts allow for further modifications and interesting options - and yes, elemental walls are similarly included, should you require hard battlefield control. Basically, these limited resources allow you to engage in pretty potent tricks, yes, but they do feel balanced within the context of the class. The capstone lets you assume the noble form of the noble janni feature for an indefinite amount of time as well as plane shift at-will.

The pdf also includes 5 feats: +2 elemental pool points, an extra elemental power and a 1/day reroll versus charm, possession, etc. can be found. Another feat yields a kineticist's basic utility talent of the chosen element and a final feat yields a latent elemental power than that may be used at -4 class levels, a total of 4 - elemental power point costs in an interesting twist on the formula of such feats. Basically, it lets you gain an elemental power sans point costs, but with a hard cap of daily uses.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's nice and easy to read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks and all. The pdf is full of really nice full-color images I haven't seen before, making it aesthetically pleasing as well.

It's been too long since I had a book by T.H. Gulliver in my hands and it's nice to see that some things don't change: For one, the flavor of the janni-race herein is awesome; and while I wasn't too blowna way by the racial archetypes, at least they did tie in with the unique options available for the race. The racial paragon class, the heart of this pdf, is flavorful, evocative and fun and has a nice selection of unique tricks that allow you to play it in widely different ways: You could play these guys as dangerous skirmishers, utility warriors, martial battlefield controllers...and so much more. The base chassis looks incredibly strong, but thanks to the structure and nature of the talents, the class plays in a fun, yet not overpowering manner. Oh, and I have seen A LOT of elemental -themed books. To the point where I'm frankly, at least for the most part, very sick of them. This does not hold true here - the class actually manages to cover some new ground in this well-tread field - so yeah, what more can you ask of a pdf? This is a well-presented, well-written, fun way to actually play a genie - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
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The Cult of the Colour out of Space
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:05:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, this first very positive surprise you'll notice when reading this pdf would be the general set-up that is presented in the history of this cult. At this point, we have all seen iterations of the color in fiction or CoC/ToC-supplements before, but this pdf actually puts the influence of the entity in an interesting sequence of events: You see, the cult's locale is situated within the Bright Mountain Valley, where the local fey population, xenophobic korreds, have been fighting a losing battle versus the approach of civilization.

The ever more desperate fey resorted to conjuring forth lethal plant-creatures - though that backfired big time; turns out calling mindslaver molds with imperfect control over them is a really bad idea and so the fey fell to the mold's influence. Worse, the color that arrived hijacked the mold, creating a horrid dual layer of control the deadly adversaries. While there are a couple of typos like xatabay instead of xtabay, but still, the set-up is intriguing and makes a surprising amount of sense within the context of the game. The contact of foreigners with the color led in a growing legend that brought a dragon to the vale as well - a being who ended in a stasis between destruction via the color and life, becoming another insane herald for the cult. So yes, the presentation and angle provided here blend the fantastic and the Lovecraftian themes very well with the crunchy realities of PFRPG; basically, this is fantasy with mythos-themes, as opposed to horror with sprinklings of fantasy.

Now, the pdf also contains stats for some of the creatures that are now controlling the cult - the mind-enslaved color-blighted korreds and the mindslaver mold, for example. The statblock of the korreds does unfortunately contain some glitches. Beyond these two, the pdf also introduces us to Ichabod Krona, a somewhat cringe-worthily-named occultist of the sinister savant archetype. The man has studied the mysterium magnum, a dread grimoire, and his has brought him towards the cult. The aforementioned book is btw. included in the pdf: The cursed book has some nice benefits for those with Psychic Sensitivity or psychic spellcasting and can help automatic writing...but this also comes with a pretty random and evocative array of strange side-effects when using this ability...side effects that are not only creepy, but can provide some further adventuring angles. Nice job there.

The aforementioned sinister savant archetype is included in the book as well: At 1st level, the occultist replaces occultist implements with the ability to use magical books and scrolls as implement focuses, provided they contain a magic or effect related to the implement school to be emulated. The lack of implement schools means that the archetype has also modified resonant power: Whoever reads the implement in question gains a +2 bonus to Knowledge for every 2 points of mental focus invested, with a maximum of 2 +1 for every 2occultist levels.

Reading an implement takes 1 round - that should probably be "full-round action", considering the benefits conveyed. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the character has a 50% chance to receive a random insanity and also learns 1 level-appropriate spell from the implement schools known, replacing shift focus. As a capstone, the character receives full information on a CR 20+ creature of doom and may extol its horrid powers, potentially causing panic. The powerful diversity of the variable access to diverse implement schools is offset a bit. However, at the same time, the archetype has a few formatting hiccups - spells not italicized, wording that could be a bit more precise...but it remains a functional option.

I already mentioned the horrible dragon, kept in stasis between life and annihilation, the green brute Novastarov, kept alive by her ring of sheltered vitality. Her CR 13 iteration was included, though the powerful ring she has is imho underpriced as far as I'm concerned. Similarly, the sheltered vitality spell that provides immunity to all ability damage and drain as well as fatigue and exhaustion is utterly OP for its level and needs a serious whacking with the nerf-bat.

That as an aside, but the pdf does contain more than those powerful scions of the cult - it also contains the stats and precise motivations of the dread glowing god, a colour from out of space with the mighty template, with history, lore DCs and detailed write-ups - though, once again, the rules-components have some flaws - Knowledge (dungeoneering) is e.g. written as "knowledge dungeoneering (oozes) - which does not exist. That being said, the lore section and components of this write-up otherwise are pretty well-presented and actually evocative.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay on a formal and rules-language levels - while there are quite a bunch of obvious errors in those components, they generally do not tamper with one's ability to employ the material. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several nice full-color artworks. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, which, in conjunction with the disabled text-copying option, constitutes a severe comfort-detriment when using this pdf.

Robert Gresham, with additional writing by Rodney Sloan and Angel "ARMR" Miranda, provides an interesting cult that could have easily reached the lofty levels of excellence. In fact, this pdf does make for a viable purchase if you're looking for flavor, for ideas and the like - the pdf feels like it does offer heart's blood, careful consideration of the game's realities. That's a big plus for me. However, if you are one of the people who expect flawless rules, you will like the prose, sure...but the execution of the rules-relevant components leaves something to be desired and shows that this pdf could have used the hand of an experienced editor and/or developer. From the utterly OP item/spell to the other components, most rules herein sport deviations from standards, hiccups and the like and may really gall some people.

As a person, I actually did derive some joy from reading this book - the very stringent and logical entwinement of the tropes of traditional fantasy and mythos makes for an intriguing offering. At the same time, as a reviewer, I have to rate the formal criteria of this pdf as well, and beyond the comfort issues, the glitches do accumulate. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars - those of you looking for mostly flavor should round up...but my official verdict, alas, can't do that.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Cult of the Colour out of Space
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Monster Classes: Sand and Spirit
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:02:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Dreamscarred Press' Monster Classes-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, slightly more than 1 page of glossary, leaving us with ~12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In one sentence: It's Dreamscarred press providing the Savage Species type of "Play monsters"-rules for the context of the Pathfinder roleplaying game. The pdf does acknowledge that this series (or even, individual installments) may not be for everyone - the fact is that most modules are humanocentric and thus, playing monsters can wreck havoc with the assumptions of a given game...more so than players are liable to anyways.

Let's not kid ourselves here - the guidelines presented in the bestiaries aren't really doing a good job; CR = levels doesn't work out too well - the concept needs a finer balancing. The series acknowledges exactly this requirement. The solution here would be to employ basically racial paragon/monster classes; instead of progressing in a class, the respective critters advance to grow into the full power array.

We begin with the janni, which are native outsiders with darkvision, a natural armor bonus of +1 and +2 Strength and Intelligence. The racial class spans 6 levels, gets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a total attribute gain of +6 Str, +4 Dex, +2 Int, +2 Cha, +4 Wis, for a net gain of 18 points. The class nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors. Janni may only remain on the elemental planes for 48 hours before taking damage, 1 per hour - while I am aware that this is a reproduction of the janni's special ability, I still wished it had been modified. 2nd level nets fire resistance 5, which upgrades to 10 at 5th level. Spell-like ability-wise, 1st level nets 3/day speak with animals, 2nd provides create food and water 1/day, 3rd nets 1/day invisibility (which upgrades to 3/day at 4th level) and 6th level nets ethereal jaunt 1/day and 3/day plane shift to material, astral and elemental planes only. 2nd level nets telepathy 30 ft., which is upgraded to 50 ft and 100 ft at 4th and 6th level, respectively. 3rd level nets Improved Initiative and 4th level nets 20 ft. perfect maneuverability fly speed, which is early, but not unduly so - no complaint here. I do, however, complain about change size: Its referred spells are not italicized and the text contradicts the table: The text notes 4th level, while the table unlocks it at 3rd. The ability can be used an additional time per day at 6th level.

All in all, one of the better entries in the series, in spite of the hiccups that still haunt it. However, while the pdf predated it, the superior "In the Company of Genies" has since then been released...which kinda takes away the main case I could make for this race, as Rite Publishing's book is vastly superior in details, how easy you can integrate it into your game...etc.

The second class herein would be the mummy, who receives +2 Str, -4 Int, is undead, has darkvision 60 ft., +2 natural AC and vulnerability to fire. The monster class spans 8 levels and nets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and begins at 1st level with a 1d4 slam attack that improves its base damage to 1d6 and 1d8 at 4th and 8th level. The natural armor bonus increases by +2 at every odd level. 2nd level nets DR 1/-, which increases to DR 3/- and DR 5/- at 4th and 6th level. 3rd level unlocks despair, which has a 10-ft.-reach and renders the target shaken the target on a failed save. This increases to 20 ft. and allows for an alternate paralysis effect for 1 round. This paralysis is increased to 1d4 rounds at 7th level, which also extends the aura farther, to 30 ft. THANKFULLY, the aura has a once-in-24-hours-caveat akin to hexes, which prevents it from being horribly broken and reduces it to being strong, but manageable. 8th level unlocks the signature mummy rot. Attribute-gain-wise, the mummy receives +12 Str (!!!), +2 Wis, +4 Cha, making it very lopsided. Odd: The reduced movement rate of the mummy is not represented by the race. As a whole: Not a fan.

Next up would be the rakshasa, who receives +2 Dex and Int, is a native outsider shapechanger, has a fast speed of 40 feet, darkvision, +2 to Disguise and Bluff, +1 natural armor.

The racial class spans 10 levels, nets d10 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, good Ref- and Will-saves, full BAB-progression, proficiency with simple and martial weapons. The class gets 1d4 claws at 1st level, a secondary 1d6 bite at 2nd level and begins play with SR equal to 10 + HD, increasing that to 15 + HD at 5th level. At first level, we get 1/day change shape (spell-reference not italicized, with similar cases in the table). At 2nd level, 5th and 8th, the racial bonus to Disguise increases by +2 and 8th level adds +2 to Bluff. 4th level nets 1/day detect thoughts, +1/day for every level thereafter, with 9th level making that at-will. 5th level nets DR 5/good and piercing, which increases by +5 at 7th and 10th level. Spellcasting as a sorceror at minus 3 class levels is unlocked at 4th level.

Attribute-gain-wise, the rakshasa receives +6 Str, +8 Dex, +12 Con, +2 Wis, +6 Cha, for a total of 34 attribute points gained. I could go on picking this apart, but the monster class has the unpleasant task of going up against the SUPERB, stellar "In the Company of Rakshasa", which not only has the better balance, it also has culture galore, more detailed class options and manages to hit the flavor of rakshasa, their decadence and hunger, infinitely better. If you want to play a rakshasa, get that book instead. It's one of the best racial books for a playable monster I have ever read.

The final creature within this pdf would be the sentient flesh golem, who receives +2 Str and Dex, -5 Cha, is a construct with darkvision and 30 feet. Full construct immunities (minus mind-affecting: They can be hit by that at least.) at 1st level. And there goes the utility for pretty much all but the most high-powered of campaigns. 20 bonus hit points for being Medium. Yeah...I can see campaigns making that work...but it's nowhere near something I'd recommend. Beyond that, they get low-light vision as well as +2 natural AC.

The 9-level monster class nets +2 natural AC at 1st level, increasing that by a further +2 at every odd level thereafter for a total of +12 and begins play with a 1d4 slam attack that is increased to 1d6 at 4th, 2d6 at 7th and 2d8 at 9th level. They begin play with SR equal to 10 + HD and at 2nd level, gain DR 1/adamantine, which increases to 5/adamantine and 10/adamantine and 6th and 8th level. 4th level nets a size-increase to Large and 9th level unlocks magic immunity. Attribute-gain-wise, the class only receives +8 Str...but considering the immunities...that's good. Still, Fat Goblin Games' Player's Guide to Vathak has a significantly less problematic flesh golem-player-race.

The pdf also sports a total of 12 feats for the races here, some of which are very much cool: Rage of the Machine, for example, 17day prevents the construct's destruction when reduced to 0 hp, instead making it go berserk at 1 HP and cannot be destroyed by hit point damage. Similarly, being able to smash traps rather than disarm them is a cool idea. 1st level-only aquatic mummies, flight tricks...pretty cool stuff here, though e.g. using Int or Cha for Fort-saves isn't something I enjoy. gaining a hope aura instead of despair is interesting, as is the ability to ritualistically make a curse trap. Annoying: Spell-references are not italicized here either. The pdf concludes with a glossary.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay -the pdf sports both unnecessary glitches and a couple of annoying formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf has some bookmarks. The artwork is nice this time around.

Jeffrey Swank's Monster Classes covering these roughly desert-themed beings are...decent? The janni is okay, if not too exciting - and as per the writing of this, "In the Company of Genies" has hit sites...so they may actually be considered to be redundant as well. The golem is at the same time OP and fragile as all hell, basically requiring the very strong Rage-feat...which can result in weird low-level encounters: Throw the golem in the room, nothing can kill it, it kills everything, repeat the next day. I like the idea here, but I think the execution is flawed. The mummy is front-end heavy...and the rakshasa is just redundant in any world where Rite Publishing's superior "In the Company of Rakshasa" exists. Similarly, the "Player's Guide to Vathak "covers the golem-angle better...and I've seen better balanced undead PC races by the dozen. Which leaves me in an odd place. This is not by any means the worst installment in the series, but I can't really figure out a reason to get it. I tried hard to like anything herein and only partially succeeded. If you have a less pronounced library of amazing races than I do, you may get something out of this, I wager...but considering the context, I can't go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Sand and Spirit
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Mythic Magic: Intrigue Spells
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:21:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look at this book!

So, at this point, you probably are familiar with what these books by now - if not, the pitch is simple: We get mythic versions of all spells contained in Ultimate Intrigue and thus, we begin with an alphabetic list of the spells featured within this book. However, there is an important paradigm shift in this book, courtesy of the changed design paradigm Paizo introduced back in Occult Adventures and continued in Ultimate Intrigue. You see, the adaptations of spells in earlier hardcovers have been somewhat different in tone and focus; numerical bonuses and damage types, as a whole, obviously lend themselves to an adaptation to mythic adventure contexts based on numerical escalation; you get the idea - expend mythic power for x, use mythic surge in conjunction with it for y.

That type of design simply does not gel too well with Ultimate Intrigue's spell selection. What do I mean by this? well, the first spell already makes this clear: Mythic absolution allows you to retain specific charms and compulsions, while still allowing for code of conduct violation rerolls, with the 4th tier augment allowing for the expenditure of 2 uses of mythic power, with better saves for the target. Similarly, aerial tracks augment options allows you to automatically succeed Survival checks of DC 40 or below if you power it via mythic power. Aphasia can bypass tongues and may be upgraded to behave basically like a curse, audiovisual hallucinations actually react appropriately towards damage inflicted and may receive more complex instructions.

Mass Charm Person is harder to detect when used in its mythic iteration, while codespeak significantly increases its duration - amazing: The mythic version actually PERMANENTLY teaches to read and understand the code...which is amazing for complex spy-games. Similarly, making a conditional curse hereditary represents an amazing augment and conjuration foil's mythic iteration may represent a numerical upgrade, but also includes a variety of tactical options. The crime spells allow for multiple rolls and the caster's choice of the result taken. Dark whispers affects up to two creatures per tier beyond line of sight/effect and may even imitate voices. Deadman's contingency's upgrade allows you to actually layer several of them upon each other. False Belief allows for the implantation of fake memories, while e.g. handy grapnel is indeed a full-blown Batman-level super-grapnel. Cool: Hollow Heroism is incorrectly identified by probing magic as mythic heroism, while illusion of treachery allows for a significantly increased control.

Casters of majestic image may employ other spells in conjunction with the spell and phantasmal affliction may impose curse, poison or wasting-like benefits. Rumormonger also gets an amazing upgrade, providing basically a rumor-web, which can really make high-powered investigations provide a whole new assortment of options -same goes for trace teleport....and treacherous teleport.

Now there are also a couple of different spells that do not go this way - true prognostication, for example, has a higher maximum chance of success and does not have a cost. Undetectable Trap continues until the next time the trap is triggered, while also increasing the DC to notice the trap...and no automatic detection chances for anyone. Vicarious view has a longer duration and may be used in conjunction with senses of a spell level lower than your tier. So yes, there are a couple of diverse spells that are a little bit less extensive in their options.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf features several nice full-color artworks, though fans of Legendary Games will probably be familiar with several of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive bookmarks for your convenience.

Alex Riggs and David N. Ross went above and beyond in this mythic magic-installment: The spells and their effects have been seriously expanded, allowing for a wide variety of brilliant gambits to stack upon another. In fact, this is probably the best Mythic Magic-installment so far. Why am I saying this? Simple: This book has managed what no other Mythic Magic book made me want to do: Play a very specific game. As some of you may know, I'm a huge fan of Batman, Death Note and similar battle of wits type of scenarios and this pdf's spells allow for the truly epic battling of magical wits: The spells in the base book already had this Batman/Sherlock detective-battle-of-wits type of vibe, but once you add this book's vastly expanded options to the fray, things become amazing, allowing the PCs and villains to pit complex gambits against one another...and boy, do I love that! I really want to make a truly intrigue-heavy game with these!

Expertly crafted, this installment is absolutely inspired and allows the GM and players to engage in a whole new level of deception, subterfuge and style. This is an amazing, diverse and extremely well-made pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Intrigue Spells
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Animal Races: Clan of the Goat
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:18:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

The clan of the goat encompasses more than goats; sheep etc. are included...and the pdf has some intriguing cultural peculiarities - the clans know, for example, 4 genders, with pregnant females and infertile males being their own genders. Similarly, to wear or not to wear shoes is an important ideological statement! It is these little tidbits that make sense, that make these come to life! Muskox are mostly neutral, sheep mostly good and lawful and goats mostly evil and chaotic, tapping into the iconography of real world religions and blending them in a smart way with the race's flavor.

Members of the clan of the goat, these guys are medium humanoids with the faun subtype, gain low-light vision and a +1 natural AC-bonus that increases to +2 at 10th level. The race receives 5-ft-scent that increases in range to 30 ft. at 6th level and a gore attack for 1d4 as a primary natural attack (1d3 if the character is Small). The character may choose to be either Medium and gain +2 Str, -2 Wis or be Small, with +2 Dex and -2 Str. Members of the goat clan receive +2 Int and speak Infernal as a bonus language,. They may also choose Goat Clan Heritage instead of a witch hex. Mountain Goats begin speaking Terran and gain +2 Cha and may select Goat Clan Mountaineer instead of a oracle's stone or wind revelation. Muskox members begin play speaking Sylvan and gain +2 Cha and may select Goat Clan Heritage instead of an oracle's nature revelation. Finally, sheep clan members gain +2 Cha, speak Celestial, with the option of gaining Goat Clan Heritage instead of a paladin's mercy.

As always, the race taps in its flavor into the respective Racial Heritage-feat-mechanic: To recap, if this is the first review of a pdf of this series you read - basically, they provide a selection of different abilities; the more often you take them, the more you get to choose and once you have enough of them, you unlock more powerful options, though they have a scaling prereq-caveat that prevents abuse via feat-heavy classes. The Goat Clan Heritage feat allows for the selection of climb, fast movement, improved gore, scavenger (the latter netting immunity to ingested diseases and poisons and being nauseated or sickened from eating something like that); once all of these have been taken, you can choose powerful charge. Goat Clan Mountaineer allows for the selection of climb, cold resistance, improved gore or scavenger, with powerful charge as an unlocked final option. The pdf also provides three more racial feats: Gruff Demeanor is a bland, +2 to two skills, later +4 at 10+ ranks skill-bonus feat. Scapegoat allows your familiar to intercept lethal attacks, while Troll Slayer can temporarily negate a creature's regeneration, which is pretty cool.

As always, the pdf has an assortment of different, cool notes on genealogy and the respective fantastic creatures of PFRPG and how they interact with the clan, firmly entrenching the race in the fantastic context of the game. Oh, and age, height and weight tables are included, though there are no favored class options. The pdf also features the write-up for the deity Amon, another divinity who claims the title of Eye of Ra.

Beyond this well-written write-up, there is a nice CR 8 creature, namely the Krampus, including chain armor, swallowing burlap-sack and child-scenting. One of the best iterations of the creature I have seen so far!

The pdf, as always, sports the cool heraldry traits that, in power, slightly exceed regular traits, but include minor penalties to offset the power of the benefits they convey. In a cool thematic aspect, they this time around not only include feats, but also a select array of hexes. The pdf also includes a cool oracle curse - instead of succumbing to fear effects, the character falls asleep, faints, and after awakening, the fear (and later charm etc. effects) suddenly vanish. Nice one!

Conclusion:

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

Eric Morton's Clan of the Goat is really interesting - while I wished the pdf was longer and had even more material to provide cool angles to the interesting race featured herein, it does contain well-balanced, fun options that should be viable for pretty much every game. The flavor and prose are concise, the vision consistent - there is nothing to seriously complain about herein. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Goat
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Village Backdrop: Lanthorn (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/23/2017 05:16:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

Life in Lanthorn is surprisingly ordered and peaceful and nomenclature is provided in the settlement's demographics-section, though no general dressing habits and the like are included this time around. On the criticism side, the pdf does offer some truly tantalizing concepts: You see, the magical lanterns of the place are rumored to be sentient and seem to exhibit fiery, destructive capabilities and this being the system-neutral version, I can't well complain about a lack of stats for them. Similarly, I won't complain on the slightly opaque explosive oil stats that does "double fire damage" contained herein, at least not in this version. On the plus-side, the village does offer something amazing: Beyond the well-done standard map, we also get a lavishly-illustrated side-view-version of the village in b/w - big kudos for this very evocative piece.

Conclusion:

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

Creighton Broadhurst's Lanthorn is one absolutely AMAZING settlement. I adore this place. The explanation of the atypical nature of the Flameskulls and the old-school-marketplace-section are certainly appreciated. The place's visual representation is glorious and the threat of trolls serious enough to warrant magical laser-lanterns. (At least that's how I picture them.) In short - this pdf has it all - Lanthorn is a fantastic village and, for me as a person, one of the coolest in the whole product line. In the system-neutral version, I can't really complain about a lack of precise stats for some of the unique features sported by the village. Thus, I consider the system-neutral version, for its intents and demographics, to be the best of the 3 versions - and worthy of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Psicrystals Expanded
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