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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:48:13

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!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped notes on its characteristics, but once again does not get a unique 5e-marketplace section, which is a bit of a missed chance. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? The pdf also has an issue in that it has a character in the village sport a plan, where smearing paste on the treant's roots can temporarily negate some of its abilities...which implies that the treant isn't mobile. If that were the case, just lob fire at it and be done with it. At least, in 5e (as opposed to PFRPG), plants can actually be poisoned, so that's one logic bug less for the GM to deal with.

Conclusion:

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

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this narrow in focus and in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It falls short of what it easily could have been and its linear angle does provide some rough edges for the GM to navigate. Hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/17/2017 04:46:06

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!

So, Black Wyvern would be the final village in the vicinity of the town backdrop Deksport, situated on the relatively lawless Picaroon Peninsula. And guess what? It was founded by a pirate captain and named after his ship. Did not see that one coming, right? Sarcasm aside, the village actually does have a somewhat unique angle: The base premise of the village would be evil colonialist pirates displacing similarly evil local goblinoids and orcs...but it turns out that the pirates inherited more than they could chew: An ancient moon oak, gnarled, withered and used to execute countless folk, has gained sentience and now looms over this place an arboreal overlord that controls access to the woods...and to an extent, the population here.

The settlement comes fully equipped with proper settlement statblock characteristics as well as a marketplace section of items to pursue. Nomenclature is similarly covered, though, oddly, mannerisms and dressing habits are nowhere to be found. On the plus-side, we receive village lore, the usual 6 whispers and rumors for hooks and red herrings as well as more precise details on the local population and sites of interest within the beautifully mapped village.

An extra section on local industry and law and order (or their relative lack of) complement the pdf alongside 6 sample events you can use to jumpstart proceedings if the PCs are idling. That being said, the final page is a one-page illustration of the dread tree...a great b/w-artwork, for sure...but personally, I would have loved the space to instead be used to provide actual unique stats for the evil treant-monstrosity lording over the place - just making it an NE treant feels...I don't know...kinda lame?

Particularly considering the importance of this BBEG for the dynamics of the town, some crunch would have been warranted here. Come on: An animate hangman's tree? Where are the animated carcasses? The flung corpses that spit forth thorny seeds? The body-snatcher plant-invasion angle? Where is the creepy cult iconography? The table of strange utterings à la "Death to you, life for your seed", where is the Wickerman Summer Isle-style angle? There is another issue: One inhabitant has access to a paste, which, when smeared on the treant's roots, can take away its abilities to animate trees. Okay, why don't we get stats for that? Also, it is called a "poison" here - and guess what: Plants in PFRPG are RAW immune to poison. Worse, this implies the tree can't move, which breaks completely the whole angle - just lob fire at it and be done with it.

Conclusion:

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

Richard Green's Black Wyvern has a more unique angle than his last pirate-y settlement, so that's a definite plus. On the downside, this village is very straightforward in how it'll work in play and doesn't fully capitalize on the straightforward angle. If you depict a threat this explicit in how it'll be used, why not make it shine and go all out? Slapping an evil alignment on a critter does not make for a compelling adversary on its own as far as I'm concerned and the pdf certainly has the space to further elaborate on the creature in question. As a whole, this feels like one of the weaker installments in the series and is slightly briefer as well. It lacks the stats for the unique gizmo for resolving the settlement's storyline and its implications contradict rules. In short: In a series this beloved, that has so many amazing installments, it falls flat for me and is utterly uncharacteristic for the author.

My final verdict can't go higher than 2.5 stars for this one...and I'm only rounding up because the angle, in spite of the logic issues, is too cool to deserve a 2-star-slap.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Black Wyvern
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Animal Races: Clan of the Ox
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2017 05:52:28

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 ox as a race is one of basically minotaurs, which, as the pdf mentions "Sacred cow" stemming from the derogatory moniker for a particularly devout individual. As such, these guys are medium humanoids with the minotaur subtype, 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 1d4 primary natural gore attack for Medium members of the clan, 1d6 for Large ones.

The bison clan receives +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Int and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat as a ranger combat style feat. Buffalo Clan members receive s+2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Cha and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat as a rage power. Ox clan therians gain +2 to Con and Wis, -2 Int and may select the Ox Clan Heritage feat instead of an inquisitor teamwork feat. "Sacred Cows" gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 to Int and may gain Ox Clan Heritage instead of a paladin mercy. Water Buffaloes get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Dex and may select Ox Clan Rice Farmer as a ranger combat style feat. the Yak clan members gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int and may select Ox Clan Mountaineer instead of a revelation.

Now, what does these heritage feats unlock? 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. Ox Clan Heritage lets you select beast of burden (which increases your carrying capacity), fast movement, improved gore, powerful charge or trample; once these have been covered, the therian may learn either improved trample or grow to Large-size. If you instead gain the Ox Clan Mountaineer, you may select fast movement, improved gore, insulated fur, powerful charge or trample. Similarly, improved trample and Large size can be taken beyond that. In case you were wondering - insulated fur renders you scentless and immune to nonlethal cold damage.

The Ox Clan Rice Farmer heritage feat allows for the selection of beast of burden, improved gore, powerful charge, swamp stride or trample - once these have been chosen, you can select improved trample, or - bingo, grow to Large size. As always, we also receive extensive notes on the genealogy of the evocative clan and the pdf dives deep into the lore of our game, tying monsters like gorgons or thanadaemons to the folklore and mythology of the clan.

The pdf also covers the deity of the ox-therians, namely Athor, also known as the eye of Ra. Beyond this nice write-up, we receive a total of 6 of the awesome heraldry traits - as we've come to expect from these, they do exceed in raw power traditional traits, but come with a slight drawback each to make up for that - no balance complaints regarding them, just fyi.

Interesting - the clan of the ox seems to love jewelry and regalia and thus, magic items they create often tend to look differently - this section can be a bit opaque. If an eye-slot item thus occupies a forehead, does this mean it occupies the headband slot? I assume that this is mostly intended to be a cosmetic modification.

The final section of the pdf may also be one of its most inspired components: The PCs can for example engage in a crossover of an aurochs drinking game and a ritual combat, explained step by step - which is amazing. Additionally, rules for Corrida and Encierro can be found herein - love these cultural practices.

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 Ox is yet another excellent installment in the series - balanced, flavorful and interesting, the pdf doesn't leave much to be desired. And yes, age, height and weight tables are included, though no favored class options can be found. Unlike other such offerings, there are already a couple of nice minotaur-ish options as competition, though the balance herein is pretty immaculate. I do think that there is more potential for the race than necessarily realized here, but the pdf remains an interesting, smart option. I am only nitpicking at a very high level here, though -. my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Ox
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Monster Classes: Woodlands
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/16/2017 05:51:14

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.

The first creature herein would be the pseudodragon, who gets -4 Str, +4 Dex (minmaxy...), is Tiny, immune to sleep and paralysis, has a base speed of 15 ft., darkvision and low-light vision, +2 natural AC. The monster class covers 2 levels and nets d12 HD, full BAB-progression, all good saves, 6 + Int skills per level and only proficiency with natural weapons. 1st level starts with a primary 1d2 bite attack as well as a primary 1d2 sting attack with 5 ft. reach, negating a key issue Tiny characters face. The race starts with SR 10 + HD and telepathy 60 ft. At 1st level, pseudodragons get 30 ft. fly speed with good maneuverability, increasing then by +30 ft. at 2nd level. 2nd level also nets a scaling blindsense of 5 ft. per HD, capping at 120 ft. and +4 to Stealth checks, which doubles in forests and woodland areas. 2nd level also unlocks an infinite daily use soporific poison to be delivered via the stinger. Attribute-bonus-wise, the class nets +2 Con and +2 Wis.

I...have no serious complaints here. While certainly not weak, the race is playable, if a bit lopsided. It should not result in any issues in games that contemplate using these guys. If I had one gripe here, it would be that either blindsense or the Stealth-bonus is slightly overkill in my book, but yeah. Nice job!

Next up would be the treant, who receives +2 Str and Int, is a Medium plant with low-light vision, +4 to Stealth in woodlands, +2 natural AC and vulnerability to fire. The monster class for these fellows covers 12 levels and gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with natural and simple weapons, d8 HD and 2 + Int-mod skills per level. The class begins with a 1d4 slam that increases to 1d6 at 4th, 1d8 at 8th and 2d6 at 12th level. 2nd level and every even level thereafter increases natural AC by +2. 3rd level unlocks tree speech, 2nd rock throwing with a 40-ft.-range increment that improves in steps to a whopping 180 ft. at 12th level. 5th level nets DR 5/slashing, which improves to DR 10/slashing at 10th level. 4th level provides a size increase to Large, with 12th level providing another to Huge size. 6th level provides trample, 7th double damage versus objects (which makes them excellent sunder-builds) and 7th and 10th level increase natural camouflage to +8 and +16 respectively. Animate trees is unlocked at 12th level. Attribute-gain-wise, we receives +16 Str, - 2 Dex (at 12th level), +12 Con, +6 Wis, +2 Cha for a total of 34 attribute points...and yep, we're once again at that point. The entry also sports an animated tree statblock. I'd consider this worthwhile from an analysis perspective...if "In the Company of Treants" did not exist, which provides multiple treants-races that are suitable for diverse power-levels and work without being lopsided and this blown up with attribute gains. Get the ItC-book if you want to play treants. Next.

The third race/monster class-combo would be the winter wolf, who gets +2 Str and Con, - Int, are magical beasts with the cold subtype and thus gain cold immunity and vulnerability to fire. Winter wolves are fast (40 ft.) and get both low-light vision and darkvision, +6 to Stealth in snowy terrain, +2 Survival and +1 AC. As quadrupeds, they increase their CMD regarding trip by 4. The monster class comes with full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level and only proficiency with natural weapons. They begin play with a 1d6 primary bite that increases to 1d8 at 4th level. Said bite deals +1d6 cold damage. First level and every odd level thereafter increase the natural AC bonus by +2. Second level nets trip and a conical 15.-ft. cold breath weapon with a 1d4 cooldown. This contradicts the table, which states 2d6 damage and increases that by +1d6 at every level thereafter. Speaking of which: Scent is either gained at 2nd level or 3rd, depending on whether you believe text or table. 4th level nets +10 ft. movement as well as a size increase to Large. 5th level nets + 2 to Perception and Stealth. Attribute-bonus-wise, we're looking at +8 Str, +2 Dex, +6 Con, +2 Wis, for a net-gain of 18, making the winter wolf pretty geared towards martial pursuits.

The infinite breath weapon, while true to the critter, will disqualify these guys for quite a few games and the pdf does not address the question of magic item slots for winter wolves; I assume the default of animal companions...but one could argue otherwise.

The pdf concludes with 11 feats, partially reprints of monster feats like Awesome Blow. The other feats are interesting, allowing winter wolves to change the shape of their breath weapon...or manipulate objects with their mouths or wield weapons...jep, if you wanted to make a Sif-build from Dark Souls...there you go. This feat is damn cool. At the same time, I am not quite sure how this feat would interact with a being with arms using it to wield a weapon in the mouth...and frankly, I think the feat should lock that possibility down. Mystic Mimicry for the pseudodragon is pretty powerful. When you succeed a saving throw versus SP, spell, psi power, etc., you may store part of it - this energy can be expelled as a 1d8 force damage breath weapon that depends in potency on either creature HD or spell/power-level. I'd increase that 2nd-level prerequisite here, since the damage type remains very potent. Nice one, to end this review on a high note: Humanoid-skinchanging winterwolves.

As always, the pdf comes with a glossary of monster abilities.

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 depicting woodland beings...is actually one of the better ones in the series. I can see both pseudodragon and winter wolf work in most contexts, with the infinite breath weapon constituting issues for lower-powered games. I'd suggest tweaking them to have a hard cap in such games, but that is a pretty simple operation. The treant is, unfortunately, pretty much inferior in every way when compared to Rite's massive take on the playable treant. As a whole, this is pretty much a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side, and thus receives a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Classes: Woodlands
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Psionics Augmented: Kineticists
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2017 08:19:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third of the so far thoroughly mega-impressive psionics/occult-crossover-pdfs clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After the by now obligatory introduction that explains the interaction and thematic foci of both psionics and psychic magic, we begin this pdf with the Avant Guard archetype for the kineticist. The Avant Guard gains Autohypnosis and Knowledge (psionics) as class skills. Instead of the usual level 1 utility wild talent, the archetype receives magnum opus as a bonus wild talent. While the archetype still chooses a primary element, he does not receive the simple blast or basic utility wild talent, nor the defense talent at 2nd level - though in that one's case, the matter is slightly more complex. The archetype receives the psionic feat Wild Talent as a bonus feat and while it alters elemental focus, it is explicitly exempt from the rule of thus not qualifying for other elemental focus-modifying archetypes, provided the combo has still the above list of options to give up.

Instead of accepting burn as a regular kineticist would, these fellows may, in a ritual, sculpt their elemental, metacreativity-laden powers inwards, sculpting them into shape. While doing so, the archetype may accept a number of points of burn determined by class level, with higher levels also providing a burn reduction on a 3 to 1-basis for wild talents and other abilities. Now I do have an issue with the fact that the ability can even reduce the burn of wild talents that are usually exempt from having burn reduced, mainly since this is used as a balancing caveat in quite a few instances, though I do understand the reason, considering the massively-changed construct this archetype represents as well as the hard cap - only one wild talent may be kept in effect at a given time and the avant guard may otherwise not accept burn, which significantly hampers the flexibility of the archetype's options. So yes, while the option can potentially generate problems in future-proofing etc., I understand the design rationale. Additionally, the archetype may employ Con instead of Int as governing attribute for the purpose of Craft (sculpture).

Okay, at this point, it is necessary to talk about the utility wild talents of the archetype, namely magnum opus: The magnum opus is an astral construct of a level equal to the burn accepted during the aforementioned sculpting process, at which time menu choices etc. are similarly made. As a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, you can deploy said magnum opus, with a daily cap of burn accepted during the sculpting + Con-mod, min 1, with each copy coming at full hit points. Great catch: Yep, construct-enhancing feats etc. do apply. Now where things get interesting is with the stand together simple blast: Instead of being resolved as a blast, it offers two options: Assault and Battery: Assault required a ranged touch attack and basically is treated as though the magnum opus had hit the target, with additional effects added depending on elemental overflow etc.; in the aftermath of the blast, the magnum opus is created in an unoccupied space adjacent to the target. Battery can prompt the attack on an already deployed magnum opus, with burn accepted equaling the bonus it receives and substance infusions applying.

The astute reader may have noticed that this array would potentially offer the option to cheese action economy, but the pdf thankfully does prevent such exploits - and before you're asking: Only one magnum opus may be deployed at a given time - until 16th level, when a second one may be deployed. Thirdly, there would be the get back utility wild talent, which provides a scaling percentile chance of the magnum opus taking damage instead of the avant guard. The effect may btw. be dismissed and restored, takes into account choice, additional effects, etc. - very complex and very cool. Get back, in case you were wondering, replaces the elemental defense, while stand together replaces the standard simple blast of the archetype's chosen element. Similarly, the burn accepted does not convey the usual benefits and instead enhances the respective magnum opus. Starting at 6th level, the avant guard may bestow additional menu choices on the magnum opus, with 11th level providing a partial infusion of the chosen element - these range from aether's ability to add natural AC bonus to touch AC, full fly speed, earth glide, etc - the options are pretty cool, and they better be, they are replacing internal buffer, after all. As a capstone, the avant guard may replace his own bodily form with a magnum opus for brief periods of time, inhabiting basically the connection between his shunted away body and the magnum opus created.

This archetype is very, very smart - it is complex, powerful and flavorful and there is a reason the cover was chosen - with only the tiniest of flavor-disjoint (regarding personality maintenance - and that can be solved via roleplaying), the archetype allows you to make Full Metal Alchemist a viable playing option. And yes, I really like that series, its problematic subtext none withstanding - how could I not? So yeah - color me impressed.

The second archetype herein would be the gambler, who receives Autohypnosis, Bluff and Sense Motive as class skills. Instead of elemental focus, this archetype receives gambler's blast as a simple talent, which uses the active energy type as a means to govern its damage type - though earth and sonic as associated never made much sense to me. Oh well. The gambler receives access to psionic powers of up to 6th level, drawn from their own list of powers. Power points scale from 1 to 70 and powers known begin with 2 and increase to 21 at 20th level. The governing attribute for the gambler's powers would be, surprise, Constitution. True to the name, the archetype has a unique way in which burn affects the archetype: Not at all...at least at first: On a natural 1 on a saving throw or attack roll, the gambler loses power points equal to her current amount of burn times her character level, with excess points lost being applied as the usual, non-healing damage. However, each such backlash incurred resets burn to 0. A gambler can accept 1 burn per round, +1 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, with a maximum cap of 3 + Con-mod, though external forces can catapult her above this limit.

Instead of supercharge and gather power, the gambler may, as a move action convert burn into short-lived temporary power points that vanish after class level round. Good call: The ability explicitly forbids cheesing via power point granting power manifestation. and the ability, dubbed "cash out", btw., cannot be used in the same turn as wager and vice versa. Cashing out is loud and visible and the number of power points gained in conversion increases to 3 per point of burn converted, 4 at 20th level. Yeah, you know what this means, right? It means infinite power points. Picture me pinching the ridge of my nose hard right there. Though, one should mention that there are several safeguards in place: For one, the archetype explicitly forbids the use of said power points for powers granted by other classes, preventing the worst cheese there. Secondly, the set-up and short duration and action economy restrictions ultimately mean that, in practice, you can't maintain a steady flow of infinite casting. It does mean, however, that you'll never truly run out of power - you'll sputter at one point, though. When the gambler cashes out, the benefits of elemental overflow persist for 1 round before vanishing. From a design perspective, I am pretty impressed by the engine here. In order to fully discuss this archetype, we need to look at the wagers first, though:

Now, instead of infusions, the gambler receives wagers - a total of 6 of these are provided: Ante Up can only be performed when burn is 0 and results in accepting maximum allowed burn - on a failed Will-save, which is weak for the gambler, she takes a 1-round serious penalty: High stakes are the theme of the class and this is also represented in Blistering Bluff, which is basically a gathering power-feint that can result in a blast versus an opponent that is treated as flat-footed. Minor complaint: There is no RAW way to determine the nature of this bluff; out game, you know that gathering power's not part and parcel of the gambler's tricks, but in-game...not. Anyways, on a hit, burn of subsequent wagers is reduced, while misses (unlikely though these may be) result in the gaining of 1 point of burn. Double or Nothing is an ability you love or hate - Physical blast. If you hit, you threaten a critical hit. If you lose, you suffer backlash. Elemental Roulette allows for the lacing of powers into blasts and the random change to an active energy type. Raise the stakes is pretty strong and allows the gambler to lace a psionic power manifested subsequently into her blasts, managing to get the complex rules-language done. Finally, Spell Tell is damn cool: It allows for blast AoOs and makes nearby spellcasters provoke AoOs from the gambler.

5th level and every 5 levels thereafter increase the blast range by 30 ft. At 2nd level, the archetype receives a powerful defensive trick: 1+ Con-mod times per day, the gambler may expend her psionic focus as an immediate action to short-range teleport, replacing elemental defense

Starting at 5th level, the gambler can increase or reduce the burn cost of wagers by 1 (even exceeding the per-round cap), with 8th and every 4 levels thereafter increasing the allowed increase/reduction by a further plus/minus 1, replacing infusion specialization, internal buffer and composite specialization. 5th level and every 4 thereafter net a bonus metapsionic feat instead of metakinesis, while 19th level reduces a metapsionic feat's power point cost by 2. 7th level provides live dangerously: When saving successfully versus the active energy, the gambler takes no damage and increases her burn by the maximum number allowed. I am puzzled by "At 15th level, the gambler chooses cold, electricity, fire or sonic." Whenever the ability is activated? I assume this choice is supposed to replace the active element? Or is that an always active choice in addition to the active element? I am honestly not sure. Instead of omnikinesis, the archetype receives a powerful ability that allows the gambler to ignore any maximum burn limit, blazing in raw psionic power.

The gambler is a complex game of resource management I absolutely love regarding its interaction of burn and psionic powers - the idea to make burn a resource may take a bit away from the very concept, but the execution is really interesting, engaging in a smart and deliberate play of resources and actions that takes a bit to wrap one's head around, but once one does, it is a rewarding experience.

That being said, it is still infinite casting. Yes, it is limited by action economy and once you're down to 0 power points, you're no dynamo of awesome, but a sputtering battery...but this does not change the fact that grittier campaigns should disallow this archetype by virtue of this fact alone. From a personal perspective, I will never allow this RAW anywhere near my game unless I'm playing a high-powered game with prominent infinite resources à la Path of War. It's not broken per se, but it can be, depending on the type of game you're running. If you're like me and really enjoy the framework and the game of resource management this offers, but prefer a grittier gameplay, there are basically two easy modifications you could employ: 1) Tie the maximum burn the gambler may accept to the current power points; this'll require some math-skills, obviously. The easier (though less elegant) move would be to simply put a hard cap of daily uses on cash out, 1/2 level plus Con-mod, for example. Yeah, you can tell I like this archetype's framework and design, even if the particular execution needlessly restricts the archetype's appeal to more high fantasy environments.

The pdf also provides a variety of diverse feats that include a simple blast and wild talent via a feat, though at added burn cost, it is interesting. Composite energy admixture, a skald/bard-crossover-feat can be found and there would be a dual-wielding kinetic blade talent for a single off-hand attack is pretty powerful - personally, I would have made that the focus of an archetype or PrC, but yeah. A monk/kineticist multi-class feat can also be found here. There are also some reprints here: I am no fan of Altered Life, which replaces Con with Wis or Cha as HP-governing attribute and the flicker gauntlet has been reproduced here as well. For the avant guard's convenience, the pdf also contains the relevant rules-information for the astral constructs the archetype employs.

The new simple blasts both are problematic: Sound blast and, worse, athanatic blast are basically non-resisted energy types, with the latter's energy having been introduced in "The Seventh Path" - pure positive energy. These will not go anywhere near my games. Creatures and NPCs have no means of protection there. Sound blast counting as air for infusions is also...well, not the biggest fan there. (Also is internally inconsistent - sonic energy is associated with earth in quite a few abilities herein.) The pdf also has 3 composite blasts, with the psionic exclusive half elemental/half physical physical blast of crystalline needles being okay. Overwhelming life can be gained at 5th level, which is very low for the relatively reliable Con-damage it and its associated disease offer. A substance infusion that generate hampering barriers is intriguing. Finally, there are 3 new utility talents, with telepathy being nice. Primordial Flame is insane: As a full-round action, 0 burn and psionic focus expenditure, you can force a target within 30 ft. to save or DIE. No SR and it may even affect creatures immune to fire. And it leaves precious treasure intact and still deals damage on a successful save. WTF?? No, not at required level 8. Not gonna happen. The final talent allows for close range terrain control - which is pretty cool and, at level 6, it makes for a cool choice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in either the formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf comes with great full color artworks. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version and both versions come fully bookmarked.

Oh boy. Forrest Heck is a brilliant designer. I adore her two archetypes, even though the gambler will be modified in my games to adhere to a more conservative power-level. Still, they represent not only superb craftsmanship, they also exhibit a level of artistry that I absolutely adore. That being said, the supplemental material featured herein feels less refined, is less universally appealing: If you're playing in a high-powered game with Path of War options or the like, you may see no issue with the save or suck and the particular balancing of the options; you may not care about athanatic energy being basically on par with force damage, lacking valid counter-strategies for pretty much all vanilla creatures and classes. I do. I very much do care and it was the central reason Seventh Path did not receive higher accolades from yours truly. In short: The pdf builds, thankfully only in part, on a flawed fundament.

At the same time, the avant guard and gambler are profoundly unique and amazing takes on the engine that I really, really enjoy. I can't universally recommend this installment of the series, but I very much can state that the avant guard alone may be worth the asking price. This pdf has sports serious inspiration and while I do not consider it to be perfect, it is still a good purchase - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Kineticists
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Mutations Mutable
Publisher: Violent Media
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2017 08:18:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The idea is pretty simple: You have 5 pages, each of which sports 6 mutations. You take 12 or 20 of them, put them on a chart and roll - the pdf suggests 1d12 or 1d20 for that. Mutations may replace previous versions of the mutation, stack with it, reverse it, etc. Yep, this does mean that the respective mutations have several degrees of severity, which you determine by rolling 1d6, with the higher results yielding the more potent abilities.

The pdf has an interesting 1st-level spell which mutates the target...but if it saves, the caster must save as well to avoid being mutated! I really like this, as it emphasizes the danger inherent in magic and makes magic...well, feel more like magic.

So, what do the respective mutations cover Well, let's take a look at scaled skin: That one can yield either psoriasis, ichtyosis vulgaris or actually armor-bonus-granting scales. You could also turn into an anthropomorphic dragonfly (which RAW, weirdly, does not have the mandibles of the middle mutation)...and there would be boils that can actually scald those popping them...but is the damage applies to an attacker? The one with the boils? The mutations are per se imaginative, but their rules-language simply could be more precise.

Spinnerets, scorpion stingers, snake tongues, which nets "+1/6 for searching where smell is relevant" - that should probably be 1d6 or +1 in 6 chance or something like that, when referencing how that is usually phrased in LotFP and some other OSR systems... What kind of plague do plague buboes inflict? On the plus side, diverse metals as skin is interesting. A mutation that splits the character in multiples refers erroneously to wizard instead of mutatee. Players retain control over the characters...but that makes me wonder if the split copies have a kind of self-sustaining drive. The process may be reversed by consuming the copies, you see...A wizard pearl growing in the throat is cool idea-wise...but does that impede breathing/swallowing/talking? You get the idea: The mutations are interesting, but could be slightly more precise in their respective effects.

The pdf also contains 3 magic items, the first of which would be the returning vial, which raises all nearby its possessor when the creature is slain...but those raised receive several mutations. Secondly, there would be the pipes of abandon that cause those that hear its tunes to be forced to dance, granting powerful benefits...but at the cost of being aged and the player risks mutation. Thirdly, there would be a wand that casts spells as though they were 1d6 levels higher...ouch. Depending on the precise system used, this can be pretty potent...but, once again - excessive use will mutate you.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are pretty good. On a rules-language level, these aspects could be slightly more precise. Layout adheres to a 1-column/2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no unique artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't necessarily require them at this length.

Edward Lockhart's little mutation engine does not stand up to the more massive ones I have for diverse systems, from OSR to PFRPG etc. This does have a raison d'être, though - this is PWYW, after all, and as such, is actually worth taking a look at if you need a quick mutation array. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mutations Mutable
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Weird New World
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:56:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/sandbox clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 60 pages of content, though these pages are formatted for the A5 (6'' by 9'' booklet)-size, which means you can pretty easily fit 4 pages of content on one sheet of paper when you're printing this out.

All right, so this represents pretty much one of the experiences where I got a book merely for completion's sake. The title "Weird New World" did not appeal to me and neither did the cover...but I am very much happy that I did get this book.

So, what is this? In short, it is a depiction of a fantastic version of Antarctica or a similarly icy environment - and I mean "beyond Norse sphere of culture"-level icy environment. As in polar nights and days. And while I was reading through this book, I realized...that I had never seen this angle attempted in an RPG-supplement. Basically, this adventure's goal, if you want to put it that bluntly, is for the PCs to chart a kind of Northwest Passage. Wait!

I know, it sounds dull.

Believe me when I'm telling you that it's anything but dull!

So the premise is pretty simple, yes - there are tiny civilization outposts represented by stations and their soldiers, but what exactly you do with the set-up that's provided is wide open - a sandbox in the truest sense of the word. But a sandbox that is more than just basics: First of all, I should note the grand scale - the final page of the pdf is devoted to a gigantic map of the hex-crawling environment that can be found within these pages; this area is so big that it also comes with quadrant-versions for printing out.

Thing is also- cold does not equal cold in the arctic; everyone who even has spent one winter in a Northern climate will know the massive differences - and hence, the pdf introduces basically 6 different climate zones, with varying degrees of winter severity, codified also by the respective months of the year - and they are brutal. If you thought going into the arctic with metal weapons and armor...well, not a good idea. The different effects on the player characters can be harsh. Of course, random encounter tables, by sea, land and ice, are included in the deal, with brief descriptions of the respective encounters. This extreme cold weather system alone may be well worth the scavenging potential, but it is, by far, not the central draw of this supplement/module.

You see, the draw of this toolkit/setting to throw your PCs in lies, to a vast degree, in the question of what you do with it: The pdf is littered with story seeds. Of course, there would be the local Inuit stand-ins, the Eskuit tribes and the less than amicable treatment they receive at the hands of the agents of the "civilized" world; but that is only the tip of the ice-berg. (Haha - okay, I'll punch myself later for this!)

Anyways, in order to give you a closer idea of what to expect herein, I'll have to resort to going into SPOILERS. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, so let's start with the obvious: There are elves. But not some kind, friendly Santa's Little Helpers. And no cliché ice-elves...but the bane of the frickin' Eskuit. You see, the elves in these climates once believed that they'd set sail to their undying lands...and landed here, believing that basically their afterlife had been compromised, that this bleak, icy hellscape was their purgatory. Obviously, the only way to solve this is and get to the proper undying lands... is to KILL EVERYONE that taints these elven lands. Yeah, they are not nice.

Beyond these, there would be an adversary straight out of a simulationalist survival story - the Beast. A super-strong, hyper-deadly and aggressive, preternaturally cunning white bear that will do its best to hunt down the PCs. It should be almost taken for granted that, yes, there also is a Carpenter-Thing waiting to be encountered (and woe to those that carry its seeds to civilization!) and there is a living aurora that makes what people believe it to be true - so listen well to the PC's speculations! A Rushmore-esque representation of dread Ymir carved in the ice, a shuttered village full of vampires (30 days of night, anyone?), remnants of ancient civilizations and strange obelisks can be found in the white wasteland.

If you don't get devoured by the white worm, you can even meet bird-people, a man who exerts mental control over caribou...and worse. Beyond these copious seeds, each of which can potentially carry a whole adventure, there also are detailed mini-dungeons.

One of them would be the cavern used by pirates to hide their treasures - where body-invading fireflies can be found alongside caves that make you believe you're among anthropomorphized candy can be found. (Okay second one with that theme in 2 weeks...sometimes, my life is weird...though, admittedly, here, it is a hallucinogenic fungus' work...) Beyond that, remnants of super-science and vending machines can be found as well as puzzles solved - it is intriguing to see the execution managing to make modern elements fantastic. The description helps the GM drive home the strange dynamics that happen when medieval/early modern characters meet modern objects.

Have I btw. mentioned the references to reptilian people and the insane weirdos that believe they're Norse gods?

The first of these mini-dungeons, though, would pale in direct comparison of the second of the more detailed locales: The great shipwreck #2: The ship has been impaled on a column of coral, with mast and sail under water, with only the rear of the ship rising from the water: The exploration of the mapped ship adds an amazing sense of verticality to the exploration, one rarely seen...and there would be strange survivors...and there are undead (including invisible ones) that operate on subjective gravity. Yes, this can be one of the most amazing scenes...but things get cooler. You see, the coral shaft is hollow and leads to even stranger, subterranean caves...and crawling it down may see the PCs attacked by a squid, as it's ripping apart the column, its tentacles potentially sealing the shaft in a truly claustrophobic and cinematic encounter. And have I mentioned the strange spine-fish men down below?

Oh, and there would be, outside of these locales, the plateaus that contain ancient cities, now haunted by the abomination that wiped out the culture...or frozen mammoths....and no, I have not touched on everything herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf is pretty printer-friendly. The interior b/w-artworks are sparse, but evocative and act as nice handouts, if you want to. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The cartography is solid and does its job.

James Edward Raggi IV's Weird New World is a fantastic supplement that contains a ton of gorgeous adventure hooks and seeds. Incredibly dense, the book can conceivably provide at least a month or even up to half a year of more of gaming if you really want to squeeze this gem dry. Chock-full with a massive array of glorious seeds, inspiration and potential, this represents one of the best exploration modules I have ever read - while there is ample of weirdness and a plethora of deadly creatures to be found in these pages, that is not what makes this supplement exceptional.

What makes this supplement/module shine is that, more than the collective sum of the weirdness-toting things you can encounter, it is always the icy eternity of the area that represents the true adversary here, that makes the module/environment work. This is inspired, evocative and a sandbox in the truest sense - and no, if you're sensitive - while challenging and yes, lethal, this book is never unfair, never dickish or sadistic for its own sake. Relentless and brutal like the environment it depicts, yeah - but gloriously so. In short: To me, this represents one of the most amazing of the early LotFP-offerings, a book that should be considered to be a must-own. Now can we please get a revised and expanded option that I can get in print, preferably with a poster map?

Forgot the verdict? Oh yeah, obviously 5 stars + seal of approval. A must-have offering, even if you're playing another system. This is definitely good enough to convert...and if you're an OSR-gamer, then what are you waiting for? Get this now!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weird New World
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:53:25

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!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption? The first thing you'll notice would be that the village, this time around does come once again with proper PFRPG settlement statblock rules, which is a big plus as far as I'm concerned. Similarly, the site comes with a nice settlement quality (historic site) and a proper, full-blown market place section of objects to purchase.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds, combined with the cursory notes on nearby places, all providing ample options for adventure. Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

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

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. In short, this has nothing I could complain about and represents a great little village with adventuring potential galore. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:52:17

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!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption?

The system neutral version of this file replaces the market place section with a solid artwork of a b/w-shield and the settlements rules-relevant sections have been extracted.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds as well as cursory notes on nearby places providing ample options for adventure.

Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

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

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. While this lacks the rules-relevant aspects of the PFRPG-version, it does not lose any significant information or dressing components, and as such, I am comfortable in rating this just as highly - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:50:14

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!

Kingsfell can be found in a strategically important area upstream from vast saltmarshes, acting as a base and gateways for the brave souls that venture into the harrowing territory under the stern and benevolent auspice of paladin Mira Lankinen. Situated atop a location of a massacre in ages long past, the dead do not rest easily here, as their pain and hatred is slowly seeping into the populace...how long can the righteous rule of the paladin withstand this seeping corruption?

The 5e version of this file replaces the market place section with a solid artwork of a b/w-shield and the settlements rules-relevant sections have been extracted - it is slightly unfortunate that we do not receive a 5e marketplace section of mundane and odd items or special local goods.

Lavishly illustrated and mapped by cartography champion Tommi Salamma, the village and its population receive full coverage regarding the diverse dressing habits, local nomenclature and features the by now expected array of 6 whispers and rumors to jumpstart adventuring and/or provide red herrings, if required. Beyond no less than 2 taverns (which feature prices etc.!), the appeal of this relatively safe haven lies within the hidden history of the ominously named village, with the heavily armored statues colloquially known kingstones (which come with a great b/w-artwork!) and the four brothers, burial mounds as well as cursory notes on nearby places, all providing ample options for adventure.

Add to that the subtle threat implied by the metaplot and the 4 sample events and we have a great borderland-style village/place to kick off a new campaign...or pass through.

Conclusion:

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

Creighton Broadhurst's Kingsfell is a great village. While its prose is slightly less awe-inspiring than his excursion to Greystone, if you take personal taste out of the equation, this remains the better roleplaying game supplement: The ruins and mounds allow for ample story hooks; an opaque threat is clearly defined, yet provides a clear leitmotif. The cartography is excellent and the formal criteria of the installment are precise and to the point. While, as a person, I prefer the horror/dark fantasy tone of Greystone, as a reviewer, I can see this having simply more universal appeal...and the craftsmanship of the formal aspects is better. The 5e-version is, apart from the stats referenced in the brief NPC cliffnotes, pretty much almost equal to the system neutral version, which is a slight pity, considering the options available for 5e and the chance to add to them. This is not a bad supplement, far from it, but it could have gone one step further. Hence, this only receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Kingsfell (5e)
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Players Guide to Whispers of the Dark Mother Adventure Path
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/14/2017 07:47:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Player's Guide for the "Whispers of the Dark Mother"-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content. It should be noted that a nice full-color map of the area featured in the AP is included between SRD and back cover.

The modules takes place in the nation of Bryndell, defined by the worship of ancestral heroes and begins in the town of Brighton, a relatively busy little trade-hub (and available for free if you require further details!). With such a background, it should not come as a surprise that seasonal adventurers, common folks taking up swords instead of plowshares, are not uncommon - but the relatively open nature of the environment also mean that characters from other backgrounds can relatively easily fit in within the story to be told. The pdf also provides from the get-go a relatively concise overview of the common knowledge in the locale - the Laughing Dragon as the "Adventurer's pub" is mentioned and similarly, the mysterious beast that supposedly haunts the area and has remained conspicuously silent for a long time... Beyond that, if you require some motivation for adventurers of a more scholarly or pious bent, there is a bit of guidance for those as well.

The pdf also specifies, from the get-go, the theme of horror the AP will try to maintain as a leitmotif - and as such, it comes as no surprise that flawed heroes are preferred. A selection of a total of 8 flaws are presented and taking one will not only enhance the roleplaying aspect of the series, but also conveys a +1 trait-bonus on Knowledge (local). This bonus is pretty fixed and if you have access to other flaw-featuring books, I'd suggest adding them and the trait-selection they usually feature to the selection. Still, not a bad collection.

A total of 3 different feats are included in the deal: Bravado of Olde lets you add Cleave to the end of your charges - and all follow-up feats of Cleave. Pretty strong option there. Flyer's Remorse is pretty amazing, though: As a move action, it lets you ready an attack versus a flying creature - if it moves within your 1st range increment, you may shoot at it, re-readying the attack thereafter if you expend an AoO. This is mechanically interesting, and the prereq makes sense. Like it! Heroic Legacy, finally, nets you +1 to atk and damage when facing a creature with double your HD or 3 or more creatures with HD equal to your own. Yeah, not that cool.

Next up would be a selection of 10 traits - Combat traits include a damage bonus with holy water and better atk with polearms; there is a trait that represents having grown up in the cult of the dark mother and there's one that represents having drunk enough to be more resilient against poisons. Similarly, pilgrims can be found and 1/day bonus damage, being a survivor of ogre's aley - there are some seriously nice, flavorful traits here, with one of them actually containing two different options, bonus-wise. Nice.

A total of 6 spells can be found within the pdf as well; Grey Maiden's Tears let you weep ashen tears in a basin to contact a passed individual - provided you have someone mourning the respective individual. Emergency Succor is powerful, but interesting - cast as an immediate action on a target that would be reduced below 1 hit point, it transfers the excess damage to the caster and actually sports a caveat that prevents it from being cheesed/negated. Gran's Minor Lance lets you conjure forth a lance of force energy to throw at your adversaries, hitting everything in a line - basically, an AoE-variant of magic missile with a short range and a save to negate....with the added use of acting as a short-duration lance before that. The wording could be more explicit/slightly streamlined. The improved version of the spell has functional, but still non-standard verbiage, in its stating that the attacks with it are calculated using the spellcasting ability modifier of the character in conjunction with BAB. It also no longer allows for a save to negate, which is powerful considering the spell's damage type, but also valid, considering its spell level. Nice catch - the lance's return to the hand of the caster includes a caveat that avoids the issue of iterative attacks.

Sinew Spasm is relatively interesting, enchanting a corpse to attack a target - though RAW, the spell has an issue in that it does not specify that the target square for the corpse to attack needs to be within the corpse's reach; RAW, the corpse can twitch and spasm into pretty much any area of the spell. If this is the intended function, it should have been made more clear. There is also a spell that drops a rock on targets in an area. It should be noted that rules-formatting in these is not always perfect - the latter spell, sky stone, has for example a Saving Throw-line that reads: "Reflex;" - that should be "Reflex negates" and the text e.g. does not capitalize Reflex properly. This is not necessarily a big issue, but if you're picky with the like, it can be slightly annoying.

On a more positive note, the pdf does offer two pieces of equipment - the grapple arrow, which can help bring down flying foes, and the weighted javelin, a similar means to penalize flying foes. (The pdf does a pretty good job of making PCs seriously contemplate having some means to deal with flying foes...). After that, we are introduced to a total of 5 sample faiths and philosophies for the PCs to follow, all of which come with domains, favored weapons, etc. - on a slight nitpick, the goddess of the sea Amaura has one domain more than the other gods, totaling 6 domains.

Finally, the pdf concludes with the dust warden archetype for the paladin class. This archetype replaces detect evil with detect undead. Their smite is modified to only affect undead...but oh boy will they suffer: 3 times class level bonus damage on the first smiting attack and every hit of such a smite against the undead actually also debuffs their defenses. Divine bond either nets a chosen mount at-will detect evil or adds ghost touch to the available bonded weapon options. It should be noted that the archetype misses a couple of italicization instances. Decent, if unspectacular anti-undead-type of archetype.

Conclusion:

Editing is pretty good on a formal and rules-language level; there are a few cases that sport a bit clumsy, but functional rules-language. Formatting f the rules is slightly less refined, missing a couple of italicizations and proper formatting conventions. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several really nice full-color artwork, though fans of Wayward Rogues Publishing may recognize some from earlier publications. The cartography is solid and in full color. Really annoying, though: The pdf has neither bookmarks, nor can you copy text from the pdf - if you want to use the material herein, you'll have to either print it out, open the pdf and scroll there or hand-write the effects down. I don't get this peculiarity with Wayward Rogues Publishing's offerings - I really don't. Not one of the big 3pps does that and it is not particularly customer-friendly.

Anyways, Jarret Sigler, Rodney Sloan, Robert Gresham, Ewan Cummins, Simon Peter Munoz and James Edger's Player's Guide is actually a pretty nice book - it does not spoil the plot of the series, has some actually interesting and cool options (particularly the anti-aerial creature tricks) and is significantly more refined in its crunch than earlier offerings. While editing and formatting remain a bit of a weak-point and while I was not blown away by everything herein, this remains a nice little Player's Guide...and it's available for PWYW. It's pretty hard to argue with that. The pdf may not be perfect, but it actually does have some really interesting options and is certainly worth checking out and leaving a tip. Taking its PWYW-bonus into account, I feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Take a look and check it out, you have nothing to lose!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Players Guide to Whispers of the Dark Mother Adventure Path
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Everyman Unchained: Fighters
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2017 05:45:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This re-design of the fighter-class clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 38 pages of contents, so let's take a look!

The fighter. Know what? the last vanilla fighter anyone played for non-testing purposes in my group...was in 3.0. The class has no unique selling points, only receives a ton of feats, lacks skills to excel beyond combat and is just BOOORING. Heck, one of my players tried to play a talented fighter and switched characters because, even with the talented flexibility, he considered the class too boring.

So let's see if this redesign finally makes it work? The fighter remains a full BAB-class, gains all proficiencies (including tower shields and weapon group training), d10 HD, good Fort-saves...and 4 + Int skills per level. Thank the deities for the skills! 1st level and every even level thereafter nets a bonus feat, with 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter allowing the replacement of such a feat.

Armor training is situated at 3rd and 7th level, armor mastery at 19th and weapon training is gained at 1st level, choosing a group and gaining the weapon group's weapons - including the exotic weapons! Weapon mastery is gained at 20th level. Weapon training's bonuses are still increased at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter - oh, and the fighter can just spend stamina to increase the weapon training bonus.

Wait...yep, the class thankfully has the stamina-mechanic of PFU completely integrated into its framework, with BAB + Con-mod denoting the pool-size and the regain conditions etc. all coming in Alexander Augunas' trademark precision. 2nd level retains bravery, which increases every 4 levels thereafter - so if you're like me and really like the Bravery feats by Rogue Genius Games, the respective base-line still exists. 3rd level provides second wind, which represents a swift action and stamina-expenditure based ability to gain temporary hit points - interesting here is that the cap of the temp hit points is oriented at the damage taken by the class, with higher levels (11th and 19th) also providing the options to do so at 11th and 19th level as a free/immediate action.

Starting at 4th level, the unchained fighter can use a move action to gain the benefits of a combat feat for 1 minute, at the cost of 3 stamina, providing some wild-card flexibility here. 5th level nets advanced weapon training, with 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter, one such option is gained. Originally featured in the Weapon Master's Handbook, this basically represents the on-steroids-version of this: From new weapon groups to Ultimate Charisma-support, sharing teamwork feats, additional daily uses for limited use tricks, battle trance, a Dazzling Display that makes action-economy-wise sense, dual-wielding chosen weapon group weapons, finessing non-finesse weapons, stamina-based parry, damage upgrades when finessing - and I haven't even come close to mentioning even half of the options available - so yes, fighters now have a serious array of different distinguishing abilities beyond feats.

This much required differentiation also extends to advanced armor training, with 7th level, 11th and 19th level providing one such choice from a seriously impressive, if briefer, list that includes a wide variety of defensive options, including DR, better CMD, being capable of protecting nearby allies, full sprinting in armor, quicker armor donning and even piecemeal armor training...oh, and scaling SR. Yes, the badass fighter is now no longer the sucker that jealously looks at the barbarian for things he ought to do to those spell-slingers. So yes, massive, massive customization options.

Now here is the thing: Even if the weapon training and armor training offer a metric TON of options, there is more to be found - namely fighter training options that you can choose to substitute either. Yes, I am not even kidding, the unchained fighter has a metric ton of even more options - with negative condition suppression powered by stamina, ranger traps, item mastery feats, improving the options for the aforementioned wild card option (which is btw. called martial spontaneity), mounts, etc. - and yes, some build upon one another. This is a gigantic array of unique tricks and, as we've come to expect from Alexander Augunas, he has skillfully woven the stamina-mechanic into the powerful options. The pdf also lists the respective weapon groups, advanced weapon groups - and better yet, uncommon weaponry from ultimate equipment has similarly been added, including a massive amount of tables listing all those aspects as and rules-relevant stats...so amazing. Have I btw. mentioned the finesse weapon group and the options it allows for in conjunction with the new options?

But this is not even close to reaching the density of crunch this offers: The book has a massive, colossal amount of archetypes modifies for the use with the unchained fighter: Airborne Ambusher, Archer, Armor Master, Brawler, Cad, Cavern Sniper, Crossbowman, Dirty Fighter, Dragoon, Foehammer, Free Hand Fighter, Gladiator, Mobile Fighter, Phalanx Soldier, Polearm Master, Roughrider, Savage Warrior, Sensate, Shielded Fighter, Tactician, Thunderstriker, Tower Shield Specialist, Two-Handed Fighter, Two-Weapon Warrior, Unarmed Fighter, Unbreakable, Weapon Master. I can't cover all of these in the detail I'd usually provide without bloating the reviews beyond belief- just let me say that the further tweaks of this massive array of additional options provide is amazing. They take all the customization options we expect and smoothly streamline them to fit the new chassis.

Oh, and obviously, for the fighter as the formerly-feat-centric class, this pdf also features a significant collection of different feats: We can find a feat for stamina-based save rerolls; we can find an option that allows for the ignoring of temporary physical ability score damages; quicker natural healing...and then there is the exceedingly cool fact that, yes, the feats come with combat tricks beyond the already neat benefits!!! So yes, the leitmotif here is MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with numerous Jacob Blackmon-artworks throughout - and yes, copious kitsune and nagaji included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Alexander Augunas delivers the class the fighter always was supposed to be: We retain the massive depth of combat tricks, but instead of making one-trick pony specialists that play alike in every single round, the unchained fighter not only has a colossal amount of customization options - the talented fighter had that as well. The accomplishment of the class lies definitely in the flexibility that is not restrained to the building path chosen, but to the options it allows the player to take within said paths: Even if you compare two fighters employing the same weaponry and roughly similar fighting styles, you will have differentiations between them, completely different experiences. The in-depth integration of the stamina-system further provides fun to the act of playing a fighter and adds a component of resource-management to the experience. In short: The unchained fighter provides a ton of player and character agenda - the increased skills per level and other abilities available mean that the fighter no longer has to impotently twiddle his thumbs while the barbs and rangers get to do all the non-combat fun stuff.

This rebuild of the fighter is the best I have seen so far and most certainly should be a required addition to any game that has players who want to play one; mechanically precise, fun and well-designed, chock-full of unique and fun options, this pdf is worth every cent of its asking price twice and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and also receives a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016. Very much required and from this point onward the point of reference that other fighter fixes will have to beat in order to have any raison d'être.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Unchained: Fighters
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Everyman Options: Unchained Fighters
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2017 05:43:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the superb unchained fighter class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 3 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

It was pretty evident that the chassis of the unchained fighter as presented in that amazing book, would have enough slots to further diversify it beyond its already impressive scope - after all, it has basically 3 categories of talent-like ability-arrays you can expand. Thus, we begin with no less than 7 new advanced armor training options in this book. We have less penalties for fighting defensively, better Sleight of Hand to conceal items and higher weight capacity, we get cover training that increases the bonuses cover grants. There is also a way to use Bluff as a substitute to AC or CMD - if the attacker beats the result, the fighter can choose to be hit anyways to gain a bonus on his next attack roll or skill check - considering how highly you can stack Bluff, I am not comfortable with this. The rules-language could also more explicitly state that failure to penetrate the skill's result negates the attack - while obvious from context, the precise wording could be more explicit here. There is also an option to use Acrobatics and an immediate action to negate critical hits, but only when unarmored, which is pretty neat. Oh, have I mentioned decreased physical attribute damage? With the Bluffing-one as an exception, a damn cool assortment of new tricks.

More than 10 new options for advanced weapon training have similarly been included in this pdf - these include interaction with Ultimate Charisma, allowing for baleful glares that allow for at-range psychological maneuvers, which is really, really nice. Adding minor bludgeoning damage to some maneuvers is nice, but pales in the options that e.g. the simultaneous maintenance of multiple styles at once can provide; this chain of abilities alone can generate some seriously cool fighting game style tricks. (Remember when Mortal Kombat had style-switch options?). There would also be a catch-all combo of Power Attack and Deadly Aim, not stacking with those as well as the one-hand wield two-handed weapon trick - so yeah, if you wanted to go all guts and one-hand-wield a really big, nasty weapon...possible. Gaining the nothing can stop me vigilante talent also is a neat idea.

Beyond these, the pdf also provides new types of fighter training options...and they are really, really interesting. Take e.g. one that emulates attributes, scaling with class levels, but only for the purpose of the wild-card martial spontaneity ability. Further vigilante crossover for some nice social talent (yes, Face-fighters. Mind-boggling, right?), kip-ups, gaining a climb or swim speed (requiring sufficient Climb/Swim ranks as prerequisites to avoid cheesing)...oh, and if you're like me and enjoy pushing your PCs through grueling wilderness treks, you'll certainly appreciate the marching drill, that allows the fighter to extend bonuses granted to allies. Modifying a select array of proficient weapons to be treated as belonging to a weapon group and the substitution of Knowledge (engineering) for Disable Device make for some sensible, intriguing tricks.

Oh, and if you've been one of the folks who complained that "their" archetype was not included in the original unchained fighter pdf, rest assured that this sports a vast selection of them: Blackjack Mercenary, Border Guardian, Vengeful Hunter, Corsair, Dragonheir Scion, Combat Infiltrator, Drill Sergeant, Eldritch Guardian, Eldritch Warrior, Falcata Duelist, Lore Warden, Mutation Warrior, Martial Master, Mystic Warrior, Opportunist, Relic Master, Seasoned Commander (which oddly states "Fighter" instead of "Archetype" in the brackets, Siegebreaker, Steelbound Fighter, Studied Duelist, Swordlord (remember - no closed IP), Titan Fighter, Trench Fighter, Viking and Whirlwind Dervish are included in this array.

You'll notice the obvious change in focus: Whereas the core pdf dealt with the traditional, very fighter-y archetypes, this time around, we get the applications of the multiclass-scavenging options - want mutagens with your unchained fighter? A more rogue-y one? A draconic bloodline (including primal dragons and similar less common options)? Those options and more can be found here. Now it should be noted that these do not represent radical departures from the original fighter options - if you take a look at, for example, the viking, you won't find a full-blown redesign or application of Ultimate Charisma's rules here - but since this is a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, I won't hold that against the pdf. The focus/stance taken still is nice to know from a consumer perspective, though - hence this little discussion. The new archetypes are the combat infiltrator, who can best be pictured as a Rambo-like commando with some armored sneaking capacities and the Mystic Warrior, who learns to fire elemental bolts at adversaries. And no, it does not use kineticist tricks. It's okay, but personally, I'm not a fan of ammunition-less, unlimited shots, so this hits a pet-peeve of mine.

The pdf also contains 6 new feats, which may not look like much until you take a close look at them. First of all, the pdf features Weapon Mastery feats, which require the weapon training class feature and only bestow their benefits in conjunction with a chosen, appropriate weapon - but these would not be the only feats here. Lightning Draw allows you to fluidly stowing and drawing weapons, allowing for whole new combo-style assaults and building further on Quick Draw and Quick Stow.

And yes, the feats here do come with combat tricks that require stamina expenditure. There would be an option for increased damage output for ranged weapons that is balanced by an important caveat to prevent the further escalation of ranged weaponry; there is an option to Parkour charge. Better yet: Depending on the material of your shield, you can grant yourself scaling energy resistance, which is AMAZING, as it makes sense internally AND provides some much needed love for shields. Know that scene from x movies, where a throwing specialist puts his all in a single throw, increasing the damage it inflicts? That can now be executed. I was also duly impressed by Volley Attack, which looks insanely powerful at first, covering 10 ft. per BAB-point...but then you realize that the feat eliminates the bonuses bestowed by other feats, abilities and spells and arrive at a painful hail, that still is very much feasible, balanced. That and the prerequisites mean that not every Jim and Joe will be able to pull off such a devastating hail.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues in rules-language or formal criteria. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, but not to individual feats/abilities. The artwork by Jacob Blackmon is full color and neat.

Alexander Augunas' expansion for the glorious unchained fighter is an interesting pdf for me - I absolutely adore several of the class options and the feat-chapter similarly is inspired. At the same time, as a person, I was slightly less enthused (much like in the original unchained fighter) by the archetype adaptations - they do their job well, don't get me wrong...but they are adaptations. Personally, I prefer the more pronounced changes, the massive redesigns.

But, let's make that abundantly clear, that is simply my own personal preference. The new training options for the most part and all of the feats are absolutely inspired and may warrant getting this, even if you're like me and not too blown away by the archetype array. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars -a very good expansion for the phenomenal fighter rebuild.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Options: Unchained Fighters
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Swashbucklers of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/10/2017 04:01:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though, as always, they are formatted for an A5-booklet (6'' by 9'') size - you can fit about 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

All right, so let's take a look at what the swashbucklers get here! The first archetype would be the Acrobatic Swordsman, who receives a modified deed list that provides a scaling bonus to Acrobatics to move around -making the swashbuckler...you know...actually halfway competent at swashbuckling! Sure, this may eliminate menacing swordplay, but things get cooler at 3rd level, where acrobatic twist allows the swashbuckler to count as occupying the sqaure he began his turn in, allowing him to flank with himself, rewarding acrobatic tricks. Instead of superior feint, 10th level provides the option to follow a, thanks to Acrobatics avoided attack of opportunity, with an attack executed as a swift action attack. Also at 7th level, the swashbuckler may temporarily reduce an enemy's speed when hitting them, with 15th level providing an Improved Whirlwing Attack-style, panache-powered storm of death. Charmed Life is replaced with faster movement, Nimble is more efficient (and actually relevant!) when moving and both weapon and armor mastery are properly modified to suit the archetype's needs. This archetype represents an unmitigated win for the class. It lets the swashbuckler actually skirmish. Two thumbs up!

The second archetype would be the anatomist, who is basically a debuff machine - instead of opportune parry and riposte (which is moved to 7th level), the archetype learns the complex targeted strike mechanic, which allows for the targeting of body parts like wings, legs, etc., with scaling benefits for each of the areas targeted: Very cool btw.: You can daze etc. targets, but a truly elegant caveat prevents the ability from being cheesed. Also interesting: Panache's regain mechanic is modified to instead pertain to enemies hampered by targeted strike. 3rd level nets sneak attack at -2 levels and 5th level replaces the critical range increase with the option to pass critical hits to allies via Butterfly Sting. And yep, another archetype that cannot be cheesed, that plays differently and has a sufficiently unique engine. In short - another winner.

The Braggart does not have panache in the traditional sense - instead, he needs to basically bluster and Bluff - if his boasting is good enough, he'll get the panache required for that respective deed he tries to perform. While this reliably (skills are so easy to boost) delimits panache as a resource, it also eliminates the passive always-on benefits of deeds and panache-based feats, which makes the engine actually come out as pretty elegant in not only representing the concept in question, but also in balancing it. Instead of opportune parry and riposte, the character can boast of his skill, increasing temporarily his stats...though the more he wants to increase them, the higher the DC'll be. Here, you can see, pretty well, actually, math in action: The boosts can be significant, yes - but the author has obviously done his math. Even with all item-cheesing etc., I couldn't break this. Kudos. Big, big kudos. Yes, this archetype is all bluster; all Bluff; but even with the usual +20-cheeses via spells etc., it remains a valid option that doesn't overstep its boundaries. The archetype may not be for every group, but I very much like the execution here.

The dandy is fighting armor and shield-less and thus gains an AC bonus governed by Charisma. The emphasis of the interplay between sharp tongue and sharp weapon is nice here: The dandy is a superb face and may use panache to increase his social skills with surge-like boosts that can even explode (i.e., if you roll a 6 on the surge's d6, you roll again and add it!) and the archetype builds on demoralizing foes, increasing the damage output against them. At higher levels, the dandy may even expend all panache to try to avoid death by negotiating with the ole' reaper. Nice face-type swashbuckler.

The dastard can be summed in one sentence in that the archetype represents the dirty trick specialist swashbuckler, with panache regain tied to dirty tricks. A solid engine tweak, though one that can be reliably cheesed regarding panache-regaining. Not a big fan of this guy. The honorable swordsman replaces derring-do with the option to not be moved while he at least has 1 panache and the archetype, as a whole, is basically a swashbuckler/samurai crossover - these guys can use katanas, replace charmed life with resolve, well, you get the idea. I liked this hybrid-y one more than I figured I would, courtesy of the flavor and the overall nice cultural niche this has.

Nightingales are masters of voice projection that may employ their hypnotic song instead of Stealth and Bluff - once it is gained, the two skills are immediately retrained. Basically, this is the slightly supernatural-seeming killer whose weird song clouds the mind of those nearby, the singing ninja/rogue/scoundrel. While I am not the biggest fan of the effective skill-collation the archetype performs, I found myself contemplating it still - it is a relatively simple concept from a mechanics point of view, but one that oozes flavor.

The Quixotic Swordsman is hilarious: Instead of panache, they get a nonsense pool that greatly fortifies his will...but at the same time, 2nd level's regain mechanic is the fun part - these guys fight windmills, foes that are not there, but, on a failed save to resist this madness, they regain nonsense - RAW the only way to do so apart from resting. Not for every group or campaign, but hilarious in the right context. Finally, the scrapper may expend panache to move and use Acrobatics to potentially negate attacks, use panache to gain temporary DR...but the most interesting aspect of these guys beyond the defensive deeds would be their unarmed martial arts - yup, these guys are unarmed swashbuckler and the longer the fight is, the more he fights, the more potent his assaults become. Whether it's the agile Eastern martial artist of a Terrence Hill-like pugilist...what could have been a basic hybrid-y archetype actually has an interesting mechanical engine and thus, playstyle.

The new feats herein contain some seriously nice options as well: Better Acrobatics for better skirmishing, for one...and then there would be an alternate representation of the concept of a weapon bin via a feat, if the integration of bind-maneuvers was something you tried to avoid. Better footwork and the classic throw at the end of movement and twisting blades? Jep, can see that. The pdf also introduces 2 new style feat-chains, with the Acrobatic Style allowing for better skirmishing and maneuverability and even the substitution of Fort- with Ref-saves while active: Since this does not wreck non-combat saves, is circumstantial and the third of the Style's feats...I'm actually good with it. The second style introduced would be Flynn Style, which nets you bonus AoOs for parry-purposes and enhanced ripostes. This could have easily been a broken array...but the feats actually have some nice balancing tweaks - the feats provide additional options and thus, more flexibility, but deliver these powerful options at the cost of no panache-regains when employing them. Want to play a scrapper with a weapon? Well, there's also a feat for that. Alternate better throwing into melee? Possible. There is also a 3-feat-tree that lets you use items with progressively larger shield-hands and an alternate Cha-based Mobility can similarly be found - and yes, it still requires Dodge, so it just makes what would be a feat-tax for some characters on their way to Spring Attack convey an actual benefit. Kudos!

The pdf also contains 2 new armor qualities and 4 weapon qualities. One of the armor qualities which nets basically dodging panache, erroneously refers to panache as prestige, while the other enhances Acrobatics. The weapon enhancements include increased precision damage on crits, increased mobility and there would be a quality that acts as basically a once per day deed-and panache reservoir. The pricing of these all looks solid to me. The pdf also features 3 wondrous items - the jaunty cap that helps when a swashbuckler's stranded sans panache; the puffed shirt of the fancy man can be enchanted - and then acts as armor. Nice for the fashion-conscious noble...or infiltrations! The Swordmaster's Flair category of items are basically defensive accessories powered by panache. One slight complaint - the slot should say "varies", not "none" - at least when I interpret the construction requirements and pricing choice correctly.

The pdf concludes with Theon Augustus, a CR 10 dandy - all ready for your perusal.

Know what's also cool? The pdf comes with the CR 13 Lepidoral agathion in a cool bonus-pdf...and yes, it depicts the cool rabbit-y outsider in full-color glory! Have I mentioned aura of mischief and confusing strikes? Pretty cool critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, almost top-notch: I noticed some very minor hiccups, but yeah - this is a precise book. Kudos to the editors! Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 1-column standard and the book sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

I don't like the swashbuckler class. I love the idea, I'm a huge fan of the classic movies...but the execution...not so much. There is a reason I've been looking for 3pp-options for it for quite a while. Nathan Reinecke delivers a truly impressive toolkit for the class. Not only are pretty much all options presented here valid - they eliminate some serious issues swashbucklers faced (cough Mobility /cough). The archetypes do not shy away from complex operations and, yes, innovation even! Several archetypes herein represent actual innovation. This pdf makes the swashbuckler a good skirmisher, with several options presented to emphasize different tasks. In short, apart from the dastard, I consider all archetypes herein to be shining examples of their craft. The feats allow for cool options and are well-priced regarding prerequisites; the items are similarly well-priced. In short: This shows SERIOUS care and research. Heck, it has a skill-based bonus system that cannot be cheesed to smithereens, even with the massive bonus options for skills. In short - this not only has flavor galore that does not get in the way (if the Quixotic swordsman looks too gonzo for you, reskin the guy as a traumatized/insane...and there you go), it also shows that the author engaged in serious research and did not shy away from good ole' math. Oh, and the pdf is seriously inexpensive.

For the more than fair price-point, there is frankly nothing more I could have asked of a class-pdf like this. Considering that the few glitches I found were cosmetic, I feel more than justified in rating this 5 stars + seal of approval. This is pretty much a must-own pdf of options for anyone who wants to play a swashbuckler. My one gripe with the pdf is that I would have loved to see more reasons to stick with the swashbuckler class at the highest levels....but that, dear readers, is just me offering the most well-meant of constructive criticisms - the swashbuckler is better off for having access to this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swashbucklers of Porphyra
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Descent into the Candy Crypts
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/10/2017 04:00:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for Crimson Dragon Slayer clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial,1 page back cover/Kort'thalis glyph, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The Candy Realms lie west of Valeece and are inhabited by candy people (which are also known as candles). Sounds nice, right? Well, candy people are colossal a-holes. They are totally into slavery, considering themselves to be a delightfully sweet master-race. Fruit people, also known as Fruities, have been enslaved for a while by this vile nation and only recently threw off the yoke of the candy people oppression. Turns out they consider the candy folk to be too sweet...and aren't really that much better. The big question is why the players of a Crimson Dragon Slayer game should care about that. Well, this question is answered by a d8-table.

This table includes having lost a leg to candy land-mines, having been cheated at cards by Cando Carysian, being the offspring of a dentist...you get the idea. Basically, you hate candy. Oh, and guess what. You can play the long-suppressed fruities!

There would be Strawberry Folk, who get -2 Strength and Willpower and 4 racial hit points, but have a mean streak: When you make a strawberry see red, you're doomed: 1/day, they may gain advantage on attacks for level rounds. On a 2, they attack the nearest target; on a 1 they hit themselves while thus afflicted. To nitpick: Specifying that this pertains to the attack roll would have been helpful - it's evident, but first generated some minor confusion.

Banana-men look like bananas with arms and legs and eyes...the eyes of a serial killer. They have no mouths. They get -2 to Dexterity and Charisma and have 6 racial hit points. 1/day, they can start a death stare that forces the GM to select another target when trying to attack them.

Thirdly, grapes. Grapes get -2 Strength and Constitution and 8 racial hit points. They look like anthropomorphized grapes...with a tentacle that they can 1/day you to seduce a target, making it inclined to non-violent conflict resolutions. Yeah...don't try to picture it. Grapes are purple. Tentacles, purple...leitmotif for Kort'thalis. The rules here could be slightly more precise, but as a whole, you can grasp their intent.

The module comes with conversion notes to other old-school RPGs and has a d12 "Let's make this interesting"-table for the GM: From granting laser guns to every foe, finding the necromonicon, to boys that can use wishes - basically, this is the big chaos-infusion if, at one point the GM gets bored and things are running too smoothly.

And that is as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Well, the module takes place in the Too Sweet Asylum's ruins - the place seems to have rotted from within, like a bad tooth...and below it lie the eponymous candy crypts. Within the ruins of the asylum, one can encounter ring pop wraiths, a convenient dentist (for those that abuse cotton candy healing) and fruities planning the infiltration of the compound - for below, in the candy crypts, there are fruitie prisoners to be freed. And yes, a kiwi-fruitie speaks with a New Zealand accent. Obviously. Treacherous peaches and a genius-level insane pina-colada marshmallow can also be found among the prisoners and the PCs will stumble over the dread result of candy genetic engineering...and potentially blow up if they fail to stabilize a sabotaged generator about to bust. Guards are btw., obviously, donuts and can jam you into their hole, squeezing hard for serious damage. This sentence sounds somehow so damn wrong...

Anyways, a small chocolate river contains a deadly fudge golem must be passed and there would, obviously, be the evil lolipop king with his butterscotch wizard, who has a CANDYFICATION MACHINE! Beyond this horrible threat, the gumdrop ichor, the dread peanut brittle vampire - there a copious amounts of bonkers foes. And yes, the module for a system that quotes Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. actually quotes South Park's Cat-Piss-episode quoting Heavy Metal F.A.K.K....which, I'm pretty sure is one step short of generating a referential black hole... Oh, and I should also mention the cherry light district in the crypts. 5 rooms are devoted to...yeah, there's a sugarplum faerie stripping on a pole. There is a rap battle in process. And a jello massage parlor. I'll just add my voice to the comment of the module: "You don't want to know what goes on there."

The pdf also has 4 magic items - a sword of vengeance, a lightning wand, kryptonite candy...and the amethyst ring of WTF, which ties in with the Purple Islands of Putrescence.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and is pretty elegant. The pdf's b/w-artwork is nice, original and bonkers. The map of the complex by Glynn Seal is absolutely excellent - no player-friendly, key-less version is included, though. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

Venger As'Nas Satanis excursion into the candy crypts left me somewhat baffled. In all my years, I have never thought I'd be typing, seriously, a review of a module wherein you play anthropomorphized fruit, duking it out with genocidal candy folk. This feels, very much, like a LSD-hallucination of a module in the sheer outré nature of the proceedings. "What happened at the gaming session today?" "Well, I got stuck in a donut and squeezed to death."

How do you rate this? Well, it's pretty much a straight dungeon-crawl regarding its structure. I can also say that this is by far the best module wherein you defeat evil anthropomorphized candy people I have read to this date. This is EXTREMELY WEIRD AND GONZO. And know what? I like it. If you strip away the weird, the module is nothing groundbreaking, but oh boy did I laugh my behind off! The rules-language aspects could be slightly more precise here and there, but that does not change that this module is more entertaining than it has, structure-wise, any right to be. Considering the pretty fair price-point, I feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars. And while I, as a person, had more fun with this than with comparable, brief dungeons and believe that wonky, bat-shit crazy stuff should be supported, the module's structure etc. is nothing mind-boggling beyond the premise. Hence, the reviewer in me demands that I round down for my official verdict.

Need something mega-gonzo? Look no further.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Descent into the Candy Crypts
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