DriveThruRPG.com
Close
Close
Browse
 Publisher Info









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
Mythic Minis 93: Feats of Agility
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/01/2017 07:48:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content, so let's go!

-Acrobatic Spellcaster: Replace concentration with Acrobatics when casting defensively. Also allows you to expend mythic power as part of spellcasting to also move. The move, even for mythic power expenditure, is very powerful and takes away one of the few balancing checks spellcasters still have. Also: There is a reason spellcasters don't use a concentration skill in Pathfinder anymore. I can easily cheese Acrobatics very high. This one is not getting into my games, not even into the mythic ones.

-Careful Flyer: When flying at 1/2 speed, you gain a massive bonus vs. being checked or blown away and suffer less penalty due to high wind speeds. Expend mythic power to enhance skill check. Solid.

-Cat's Fall: Take less damage from falls softened by Acrobatics and convert more falling damage into nonlethal damage. Use mythic tier for a bonus on the check. Solid.

-City Sprinter: Increases bonus and allows for mythic power expenditure for quicker movement via skills. Solid.

-Deft Catcher: Use feat as a free action and when used as an immediate action, you can add tier to the check. You may use it even while panicked, stunned, etc. (cool!) and may expend mythic power to avoid falling prone on a failure. Like it!!

-Owl Style: Less Stealth penalty when charging, eve less when flying. When catching a foe unaware thus, you don't take charge's AC-penalty and add the charge's atk bonus to damage as well. Solid.

-Owl Dive: +1/2 tier to Acrobatics to move through enemy spaces. Use mythic power to temporarily get perfect maneuverability and if your charge ends at a lower place than it began, your charge will be more potent. Really cool one!

-Owl Swoop: No Acrobatics penalty while moving quickly. Also has an immediate action, mythic-power-costing parry built in. Okay.

-Sliding Dash: Numerical escalation - less AC-penalty, higher Acrobatics bonus. Nice: If you fail the Acrobatics-check, you may forego the attack to not provoke an AoO. if your Acrobatics-check's really good, the target loses an AoO. Love this one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson and Alex Riggs deliver some nice feats here - while a couple only are numerical escalations and while I consider one to be OP; even for mythic gameplay, there are also some nice gems herein. In the end, this, to me, is pretty much a decent installment with some serious gems inside. Particularly Owl Style's tree is pretty cool and so is Sliding Dash. Arkham series Batman, anyone? I digress. I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 93: Feats of Agility
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Mythic Minis 92: Intrigue Magic Feats II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/01/2017 07:46:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal by now, right? 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content, so let's go!

-Extra Contingency: Cast two contingency spells that trigger simultaneously; cast two entirely separate contingency spells with separate triggering conditions or cast 3 contingency spells that use the same triggering condition, happening at 1/round. And we have an amazing must-have feat for pretty much every spellcasting adversary ever. Amazing!

-Fey Spell Lore: You gain the mythic versions of all spells granted by the feat and may prepare them as though you had Piercing Spell. Nice!

-Fey Spell Versatility: Gain all mythic versions of the spells granted by the base feat. You can also expend a number of mythic power equal to the level of a spell from this list you prepared to change it into another spell (and cast said spell's mythic version!), but at the cost of no longer being capable of preparing the spell for which you exchanged it. A Willing fey ally provided, you may switch spells when preparing spells without having to expend mythic power.

-Fool Magic: Add 2x mythic tier to Disguide and UMD-checks to emulate other races and alignments for the purpose of bypassing nasty effects or handling items etc. VERY cool: For one mythic power, your Disguise detects as the new alignment; for 2 mythic power, your Disguise can actually let you count as another alignment for spell etc. purposes. Amazing one!!

-Gaze Reflection: When averting eyes, subtract twice mythic power from the percentile roll to determine whether you're affected or not You may also expend one mesmerist trick to gain mythic tier rounds immunity to gazes. For two expended mesmerist tricks, you gain immunity AND reflect the gaze back at the creature, range 30 ft. Awesome!

-Read Spell Traces: Double the bonuses granted by the base feat; expend mythic power to automatically identify a spell from its aura and gain a rough estimate when it was cast. Nice for magical investigations!

-Sabotage Magic Items: When exceeding an item's DC by 5 or more, you can render it cursed instead of magic it cause a mishap; UMD can be used o negate the curse. Via mythic power, you may roll thrice on the common curse table, choosing which you'll take. Damn cool!

-Superior Scryer: Perception bonus by the base feat is increased and the save DC is similarly increased; however, it also lets you use a slew of spells through the sensor, which is pretty cool! As a minor and purely aesthetic hiccup - an "OA" that should be superscript isn't.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two column full-color standard and it features the artwork on the cover; that's it - the one page content is solely devoted to crunch. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson and Alex Riggs' second array of intrigue magic feats is absolutely amazing - creative, evocative, with some seriously cool options, this once again transcends the use for mythic gameplay, offering scavenging potential galore beyond that. Well-crafted, creative and diverse, this is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 92: Intrigue Magic Feats II
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

5e NPCs: Bullies and Brutes
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2017 03:38:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of NPCs clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (including challenge ratings), 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

The pdf covers a total of 18 characters, ready to be inserted into your game, which range from CR 1/2 to CR 18. Fans of the Tangible Taverns/Tavern Tales product-lines will notice some overlap regarding the NPCs, as for example Pie-Eating Pete or Tuffy Brokehaft make a reappearance herein - which can be considered to be a slight detriment for some - personally, I would have preferred an all-new cast, but considering that the vast majority of NPCs is new, I can live with that.

Speaking of which - in case you are not familiar with Dire Rugrat's 5e-character design philosophy: Instead of making just numbers and replicating pre-existing abilities, one of the charming peculiarities in their books would be that characters do actually receive special, unique abilities. Beyond these, the characters each come not only with a statblock, but also with their own artwork - these either are hand-drawn or stock. Most, but not all characters herein also feature a word of advice in a small box on how to best use them.

Now, what type of characters can we find herein? Well, for one, e.g. Pie-eating Pete or Jaiblik Nibork would represent two characters best describes as, bingo, bullies - Pete's signature ability, for example, lets him consume insane amounts of food, while Mr. Nibork is known for his incessant cursing and rambling, which can be pretty distracting for assailants.

These guys and a particularly cantankerous lady would be more on the semi-social side of things, but they are not the only characters herein - if you're looking for an instant-villain, you'll find the like herein. Take Lockjaw, the half-orc cannibal who can initiate grapples with his bite and who receives temporary hit points for biting foes. More ambiguous in use would be Butcher Bill, the dwarven headhunter, whose prickly spiked armor and expertise at shoving foes deserves mention.

Need a slaver? Hesssk Ta'Vaoren and his two worgs deliver just that -and there is more to the trio than meets the eye, for Hesssk not only is a master of the whip, he maintains also quasi-telepathic contact with them, making surprising them pretty hard. There would be a half-orc, wondering of what may have been and his fellow she-devil with a sword. There also is an enchantress-information broker with a mega-powerful way of maintaining control over dominated foes. There is also a corrupt guard captain (ironically named "shill") and a half-elven, humans hating eco-terrorist ready to shed blood.

There would be a halfling enforcer with a fear-inducing reaction stare, who may not only break legs - her cold fury is something to witness. That being said, the ability diverges a bit from how 5e usually handles the like, providing a 3/day hard cap, instead of tying it to long rests, analogue to the barbarian's rage feature. The powerful drow evoker Vreix Azztelle may pinpoint AoE spells to instead affect single targets and is pretty cool - however, if you're very picky about this kind of thing, the character is missing the drow magic feature the race usually has. Aforementioned half-orc cad also does not have the usual relentless endurance feature. Now, it is pretty evident that such features were exchanged for others that fit the characters better, but depending on your stance on NPCs and racial features, it still is worth mentioning. In dubio pro reo - I will not hold that against the pdf.

However, where things become ever so slightly annoying from a reviewer's perspective would be with the per se pretty cool Kel, the Blessed - a tiefling underboss with several nice, luck-themed abilities, whose hellish rebuke is noted as innate spellcasting, which does not include the note at what spell-level the spell is cast - a mostly cosmetic hiccup, but a blemish in one of the coolest characters herein. Seriously a nice character, though -and yes, I am nitpicking hard here.

Speaking of cool characters: Urden Shalespear, the dwarven herald of entropy, pretty much looks like the NPC-version of a class/archetype I have recently written and gets some cool tricks: Beyond an aura that brings desiccation and destruction, he is reborn in a bleak phoenix-like burst when slain---but pays a hafty price for this power. Oh, and he can tear open a devastating gate into nothingness, duplicating a new 9th-level spell featured herein. Slight complaint: The spell does not note for which classes it is appropriate. A suggestion would have been nice to see.

The final character herein, Lady Davia Belcouer, would be a powerful champion of the hells: With a sword of wounding, a powerful magical armor and the ability to behead foes with discernible heads, she also has no less than 3 legendary actions to negate crits or use Charisma-saves instead of others, making her a viable campaign-endgame adversary.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no significant hiccups in the rules-language and the pdf is similarly well put together in the formal department. Layout adheres to a pretty printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a solid piece of full-color artwork for each NPC - some are stock, but most are actual pieces drawn by the authors. The older pieces here do show that they have refined their crafted compared to the newer ones. Still, nice to see. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kelly and Ken Pawlik's collection of 5e adversaries is a pdf worth getting, let's get that right out of the way. The price-point is pretty fair and the characters feel like actual characters. The lengths to which I needed to go to nitpick some aspects here should tell you something about this pdf, namely that it is a neat, well-made collection. The only truly relevant gripe I can field against this economically-priced, inexpensive collection would be the inclusion of previously-featured characters. Even if you take these away, the bang to buck ratio is still pretty neat, though - which is why my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5e NPCs: Bullies and Brutes
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Bloodforge
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2017 03:33:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This massive book clocks in at 98 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a massive 93 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, the first race herein receives +... Wait. Wait a second. My usual in-depth analysis, piece-by-piece approach doesn't work here. This is literally a huge book of races and if I go into that level of detail, we'll be here come next Christmas-season. So, I'll paint a picture in broader strokes than usual, all right? First, if you're not 100% sure what this book is - this is essentially PFRPG's update of 3.0's Bastards and Bloodlines - a book much lauded for its creative race, but also somewhat notorious as one of the many, many ones in the 3.X era that had no idea whatsoever what this "Bahlenz"-thing is.

Speaking of this dreaded concept - the pdf does one thing right from the get-go: It ignores the flawed RP-guidelines established in the ARG in favor of an individual balancing, which I applaud. Each race comes with a short guideline as per name, appearance, demeanor, background and their relations to adventurers, with a handy table explaining the crossbreed-relationships. A massive age table and its corresponding height & weight-table also can be found herein, satisfying that pet-peeve of mine. The pdf begins by establishing the respective crossbreed subtypes featured within its pages, which is similarly helpful.

Another component of the racial design I generally can applaud would be the equilibrium of racial bonuses/penalties - most, though, alas, not all races herein receive a bonus to a physical and a mental attribute and one penalty, resulting in races that are not by their design geared towards specific career paths. It should also be noted that the pd thankfully avoids attribute-bonuses of more than +2 per the base racial traits. Another pet-peeve of mine (and many a DM out there), races that can fly at first level, also are thankfully absent here - instead, a two feat-chain that begins with slow-falling via vestigial wings and ends with proper flight, tied to HD when applicable and thus circumvents this issue. Excellent work there. I do have something I'd like to mention - the pdf always uses the phrase "X can see in the dark out to 60 feet." for Darkvision. Something in me cringes when I read this sentence. It's usually "up to" as a wording convention. Personal nitpick, though, and will not influence the final verdict.

Bastards and Bloodlines also did not have to deal with favored class options - which this massive book thankfully provides for quite a few of the classes, notably often also for Psionic classes, Akashic classes or Path of War classes. The minor hiccups in formatting previously present have been dealt with.

The races generally sport a couple of alternate racial traits for further customization (with e.g. the elf/unicorn-hybrid alicorn also coming with alternate racial traits for evil brethren...)and each race comes with full-color art - which represents one of the most poignant and immediate changes the revised edition featured: The previously at times needlessly cheese-cake artwork (and the couple of truly horror-inducing ones) have been replaced. While not all artworks adhere to the level of awesomeness featured on the cover, the majority of them actually now are amazing, high-quality pieces.

Movement rate-wise, we run the gamut from slow land speed 20 ft. to 45 ft. The respective races now all have their respective speed values for their movement rates properly codified and presented.

Before I go into the races: Please, read the whole review, don't just abort after a few lines. Why? Because I went very nitpicky on this one, showcasing some of the issues the races sport and you might construe that as problematic - however, there are concepts herein that warrant close scrutiny beyond the races and the flaws I'm about to point out. So, please - at least read the conclusion. Thank you.

So let's take a look at the races, shall we? These would be the elitist and proud hybrids of elves and giant eagles, the winged aellar - here, an interesting choice can be observed: Instead of providing Fly as a class skill via a racial trait, the race can opt into it via favored class options, many of which add the skill to the list alongside a bonus - though one that does feel a slight bit odd in the wording: "Gain Fly as a class skill and a +1/2 bonus." is okay wording-wise, but could have been slightly more elegant. On the plus-side, skill-starved fighters instead receive a full +1 bonus per FCO - I applaud that!

Where I get grumpy is with the option to use the fly-skill in lieu of their Reflex save when flying. Skills can easily be buffed through the roof. On the less nitpicky side, I do love how the previously slightly opaque ability to deal additional damage when charging while airborne has been made more precise. Similarly, the cool option to decrease miss-chances due to sight-based obstacles etc. now is as crisp and precise as it should be - kudos for improving it.

Instead of vestigial wings, some aellar receive claws, which, I assume, follow the default damage values for the type and scale up to d6 later - why "assume"? Because the ability does not specify the base damage value, nor whether they are treated as primary or secondary natural weapons - yes, one can assume the default, but from a customer's point of view the information still ought to be here, at one glance. This issue with natural weapons can be extended throughout the pdf, btw. The short fluffy write-up is inspiring and the revised edition, while still not perfect, is significantly improved.

So let's move on to the aforementioned alicorn, the first of quite a lot of fey-themed crossbreed races herein - the signature ability here being that the alicorn can transfer damage, diseases and poisons and ability damage to herself. The ability was a horrific clusterf*** before and has been significantly improved. However, it still has no daily cap, just begging an alicorn player to come up with a way to cheese it. I do believe that this may be an oversight, though, for the similarly fixed evil variant that can instead push these upon others now does have a daily cap.

Blinklings, the blink dog/halfling hybrids, on the other hand, are awesome all-around- 3/day reactive concealment as an immediate action? Yes, please! Extending their sight to the ethereal? Utterly unique and cool - and has some neat narrative potential. Seriously, I love this race and its write-up!

The ability that nets a blurring effect while moving has been reigned in and now is balanced versus the core ability - as a nitpick, its referred spell is not italicized, but oh well.

Decataurs, Elf/Centaur-hybrids sport a base speed of 45 ft., which seemed odd to me and they ignore movement and skill-check penalties caused by difficult terrain - which seems excessive to me - why not provide a scaling mechanic here instead of downright immunity? though, to be fair, the provided caveat versus damage-causing terrain helps. On the plus-side, the rest of the race is pretty much the best centaur-like race I've seen in quite a while. I feel obliged to mention that as per the writing of this review, the errata has not been incorporated into this book. Yup, this unfortunately means that the revised edition of this book does not contain the errata's information on hooves vs. feet. Oh, and as pretty much always (with ONE exception) when I review a centaur-ish race, I found myself shaking my head at the lack of notes regarding the handling of ladders and similar obstacles. On the plus-side, going for the 2-legged satyrkin alternate racial traits does alleviate this, so this kinda gets a pass.

The freedom-loving Dreigi, half-giants with an ancient grudge (against fey and chaotic outsiders) are flavor-wise one awesome piece of work, with an inspiring artwork etc. - but their massive scaling bonuses versus aforementioned creatures (+2 to saves, damage and atk, +1 more for every 4 levels), is too much in my book - though that one is easily scaled down, and it should be. Why? Because these guys get two damn awesome signature abilities: For one, their attacks count as cold iron; they may also create 1/day difficult cold-iron caltrop-y terrain. Secondly, they ignore the hardness of magical barriers and add their character level to damage versus them. Yes, this means they have a fighting chance versus walls of force and the like. I love this race and really would enjoy it more, had it not this one critical flaw that otherwise mars a superb example of race design - it's also unnecessary, mind you, since the theme of pro-freedom/anti-enslavement also is reflected in quite a few other racial abilities.

You may have noticed something - no Tanis-syndrome race so far. And indeed, you will not find mopey, angsty half-breeds herein. Take the Grendle, combining the best of parent race and troll, these guys are hardy and charismatic - and heal as if they had rested every hour. Apart from an unnecessary and imho rather OP ability to demoralize foes at +2 as an immediate action after being hit (or first level AoE-demoralize), the grendle is stylish and works very well. Strange, considering the revisions made to the book: The alternate racial traits still feel confused: One mentions "increasing a morale bonus to Str to +4" - a morale bonus thankfully cut in this iteration of the book, thus leading me to believe that we have a remnant of a previous iteration here. The ability the trait references simply does not exist. On the plus-side, gaining swim speed, but requiring 1 hour submersion in water to benefit from their healing each day is a pretty cool alternate racial trait, as is gaining a climb speed, but also fire vulnerability.

Half-Gnolls are glorious - powerful, but lacking any issues (apart from once being called "It", to which some gnoll-aficionados will vehemently object) - scent and claws plus pack hunting - exactly what you'd want and expect! Hunting down fleeing foes is also neat, though an ability that automatically deals bonus damage versus foes suffering from "a condition" should a) be more limited and restricted to the half-gnoll and b) once again, specify the damage type as belonging to the weapon used to execute the attack. Finally, since ranged builds already are pretty adept at the whole damage-dealing, I'd restrict the ability to melee - it's called Born Predator, not "I shoot you from behind my allies." ;) Still, all in all, a great race, though the alternate traits can use some finetuning.

Speaking of finetuning - the half-goblinoids, while melee-centric, all can generally considered pretty cool - though again, the alternate racial traits and what they replace does not always match power-wise: What would you take: A +2 bonus to Perception and taking 20 for 30 ft x 30 ft as a full-round action or +8 (!!!) to Stealth and +4 (!!!) to Escape Artist plus the option to squeeze through tiny-sized areas? Yeah, the fast search is awesome - I like it. But I don't see these two line up - the bonuses of the latter are too pronounced in my book; I'd cut them in half AT LEAST.

Half-hobgoblins still see better in the dark than their parent race (90 feet that pretty sure should be 60 instead...), but apart from that, both they and the half bugbears are pretty damn glorious! Also on the strong, but cool side, half-sahuagin may be slightly too well off on the winner's end-side regarding bonuses, at least for my tastes, but in groups that sport powerful races, the will fit in perfectly. Thankfully, the previously rather ill-conceived 4-arjm option has been purged.

The Hexbreather, heirs to the dreaded hags, have some nice hex-related abilities in the base form and yep, the revised book does fix some minor hiccups, making me generally more than okay with the result. One alternate racial trait also refers to the cursed condition, now properly defined (reference to Path of War Expanded, fyi).

The half-nymph Houri are a gorgeous example (literally) of this book's tricks - no issues, functional, versatile and unique signature abilities (debuff-beauty 1/day or friend to all animals...) -oh, and the new artwork rocks. The same can be said about the Kestrel - good, positive halfling/harpy-hybrids that use their powers for good- generally speaking, at least. The Kijin are the elf/oni crossbreeds and hit two rough spots for me - one, they have a per-encounter ability. You all know how much I love those. Secondly, they essentially cover the same niche as Rite Publishing's wyrd - and the wyrd benefit from a much more detailed and for me, compelling, cultural background courtesy of the expanded room within they can operate - full pdf versus couple of pages. I don't consider them perfect either, but in direct comparison, the wyrd are superior by a long shot. The same applies for the direct comparison of Rite's take on the lurker versus the one herein, though again, I consider both to fall slightly short of what they could be.

Nevertheless, this pdf does manage an utterly admirable job at rendering the respective halfbreeds distinct and culturally unique - to the point where some of the brief fluff-write-ups actually captivated me enough to make me consider playing the half-breeds - and that coming from a guy who went out of 3.X with a distinct oversaturation regarding fiendish/celestial creatures and half-dragons as well as a distinct dislike for mopey halfbreeds. So yeah, this pdf can be considered inspired in that regard - from the roper/dwarf bio-weapons created by the phrenic hegemony to the love-conquers-all children of merfolk and men to the inspired and monstrous ornibus, suffused with the essences of howlers, the halfbreeds manage to avoid thematic redundancy.

And, if the above exercises in racial nitpickery were not ample clue for you - over all, they tend to be almost awesome - during my analysis, I regularly found myself enjoying myself and getting ready to write a recommendation for a race, only to have some ability overextend what I consider viable. It should be noted, however, that the revised version does eliminate a couple of the big issues.

Generally, about 1 ability among the racial traits, more often among the alternate racial traits, can be considered too strong and in need of nerfing - or its balancing versus its replacement feels like it is wonky, but there are similarly races that work well. To give you an example - both the ornibus and the half-satyr pipers can be considered generally well-crafted. Similarly, the ophidian halfbreeds rana now have a scaling trick that lets them expend their psionic focus for better disarming...and they increase their AC in each round where they manifested something, providing a nice, built-in flux. And yes, if that and the examples above were not clue enough for you - there is yet another thing I need to address regarding the races - and it's a HUGE plus!

Know how the ARG-races tend to feel somewhat sameish? How many races are just a recombination of the same tools, again and again? Not so here - every race herein has at least one unique trick that sets it apart - a racial signature ability, if you wish. I love this general idea, if not always the execution of them. - the half-gargoyles may e.g. use their wings to take 1/2 damage of an adjacent ally - think of it as a limited, immediate action-based shield other and yes, the wording has been improved in the revised edition. It is an ability like this that really sets the race apart and makes it feel distinct - also in a mechanical way.

I have mentioned the tentacle-faced obvious heir to the half-illithids, haven't I? Yeah. The woodborn, which are just the race for anyone who ever wanted to tackle playing Pinocchio? Yeah, awesome. Even better - an alternate racial trait that nets you an assassin vine symbiote that deals more damage on a grapple just oozes style and its wording has been similarly improved.

Winterwolf/Hellhound/Worg/humanoid half-breeds also deserve two thumbs up regarding their ability-suites.

Now this pdf does have more to offer than just a metric ton of half-breed races - namely templates - for bi/quadruped creatures, half-doppelgängers/medusas, half-elementals (!!!), half-rakshasas and also so-called titanblooded creatures - the templates are pretty solid all-around, with ample cool ideas and tools for mad scientists/transmuters to play with - nothing grievous to complain about here.

The book furthermore offers a distinct array of feats, most of which have the [heritage]-descriptor. The feats run a wide gamut: We have for example one that substitutes a mental attribute (Wis or Cha) for Con - which would make me yell - however, it is restricted to bonus hp, not all the saves - which does, surprisingly, work for me. The presence of the Feral Fighter-feat feels a bit odd - it nets you claws or a bite as appropriate for your creature type. Why don't some of these races use this instead of the at times redundant or unnecessary-seeming amounts of natural weapons some receive? That would also put players agenda higher on the list. Bloodsong adept has thankfulyl been nerfed to now feature a cap -the feat allows you to use bardic performance only affecting your type/subtype, basically providing+1/2 your bardic performances additional performances as bloodsong performances that only affect your race. On the okay-side, there are multiple SP-granting feats and some that e.g. net grab to add to bites and tentacle attacks - not a fan of the latter, but that is personal taste.

Now on the other side, there is Mixed Blood, previously a feat, now a trait, which covers almost two pages and presents a wide variety of odd bloodlines/unlocked types. The re-evaluation here was well-made indeed, considering the ease by which it now can work in conjunction with various builds.

There also are 4 racially-themed PrCs - the brief run-down of them would be as follows:

The Bloodsong Heritor is the herald of his people - a solid, good bardic PrC with neat mechanics and not much to complain about - previously, its main issue did lie in the broken feat upon which it was built - now, it works and represents a nice PrC with unique performances that also include the expenditure of multiple rounds for interrupt-style effects while still maintaining the performance. Think of it as a less complex, much more limited and racially-themed take on what Interjection Games' Composition magic does.

The Kith Hunter is an okay slayer-type 5-level PrC. Seen better, seen worse. The Kithlord can be considered a solid racial champion PrC with commander-style tricks/auras and even teleports at higher levels - okay, though I'd be wary of this PrC in a uni-race group - mostly great for NPC-adversaries. Also has per-encounter tricks, if that bugs you. The 5-level mongrel has the most choices among the PrCs, offering quite an ability-array to choose from and some rather unique bonuses - including ways of getting rid of ability damage by leeching off magic - nice one.

The book also sports a small selection of new spells, which can generally be considered among the more powerful examples available - they are not bad, mind you, but the option to e.g. have earthskin and stoneskin overlap may not fit well with some groups. That being said, spells that provide minor bonuses versus e.g. kobolds and goblins will not break anyone's game. The spells are solid.

Finally, the book provides new magical items, including 4 new special abilities, one of which nets you a standard action in a surprise round for just the equivalent of +1...though you remain flat-footed. A +1 enhancement that bypasses the DRs of elementals and constructs essentially renders golems utterly useless at +1 enchantment - ridiculously OP and should be torn to smithereens. On the plus-side, conjuring forth a red blade of flame via bracers is pretty cool and the traveler's backpack will be a favorite for most wilderness adventures. So, all in all, solid section with some winners and some that obviously require significant nerfing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting in the revised iteration of this book have improved and taken care of the most glaring of issues. There are some minor deviations still here, but nothing too glaring. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has copious full-color artworks - the revised edition's artworks are pretty amazing for the most part and render this a beautiful book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the file comes witha second, more printer-friendly iteration.

You may have gotten a wrong impression from this review - I actually like this book.

No, really. I was honestly positively surprised by this pdf.

The signature abilities provided for the races, the unique, non-redundant fluff and the overall balancing of the races is great. No, really, I mean it. Alas, even in the revised iteration, this book is also the very definition of flawed - almost every race had either a wording hiccup or one ability that just went beyond what would be considered balanced in all but high-powered tables. Essentially, I could play "look for the bit that's too strong" with a huge array of races I otherwise loved - races that feel more organic and viable than they have any right to, provided the limited room they each have. So let me state this again:

This is a good book; in the revised version, it is a good to very good book.

The thing is, it could have easily been an OMG-HOW-AWESOME-IS-THAT-book. Perhaps I expected too much from the revised version of this tome. Matt Medeiros, Jade Ripley and Andreas Rönnqvist have ultimately crafted a massive racial book that has been streamlined and improved SIGNIFICATLY since its previous iteration. It is, as a whole, vastly superior to the previous version of bloodforge (still available as per the writing of this review as a .zip included among the downloads).

I can see people hating and loving this book. The rules-language of the revised version has significantly improved, and similarly the big, really bad hiccups are all cleared up; the issues that remain are the small ones. I'd still only recommend it unsupervised for high-powered games, but the chance that a GM can say "yes" to this book as a whole has increased by approximately +40%, at least as far as I'm concerned. The races do feel iconic, they can be cleaned of the problematic bits and a capable DM can adjust them with relative ease to a lower power-level, if such is required. Oh, and they, and that cannot be under-emphasized, do not suffer from the sucky bloat of skill-enhancer racial traits (Get +2 to Skill A and B) that hound so many races since the ARG, instead providing something unique.

How to rate this, then? See, this is where I was frankly disappointed on a high level: When I saw the new cover, heard about the changes made, I was stoked and downright excited to see the final book, hoping I'd be able to praise it to the high heavens. I hereby do praise it - it represents a SIGNIFICANT improvement in both balance and aesthetic quality as well as rules-language precision. This does net the book +1 star, rating-wise. There still are some hiccups in the details here, though - and some aspects still need nerfing as far as I'm concerned. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars for the revised edition. Whether you round up or down is contingent on how picky you are regarding wording and, more importantly, the power-level of your game: High-powered groups will want to definitely round up, while gritty groups may want to round down. As a person, I will round down, but as a reviewer, I do have my in dubio pro reo policy, which means my official verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bloodforge
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deadly Gardens: Mulch Stalker
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2017 03:30:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The pdf begins with two magic items made from natural items - the first of these being the manticore tail flail, which is amazing and can fire a limited array of spikes each day. The second one would be a frog's eye ioun stone, which helps avoid being surprised.

The critter herein, the mulch stalker, would btw. clock in at CR 3 - these critters consist of broad, overlapping leaves, with segmented, taloned branches jutting forth. Mulch Stalkers are small, but VERY fast - 50 ft, and may climb and leaf glide - they are, in short, very deadly in that regard. they have bites and talons. Speaking of which: These cause a form of rot that does not heal naturally. Ouch. Oh, and they can full attack when using a gliding charge. And they sneak attack. Oh yes, really nasty and cool critter...and they have Pack Attack! Yep, they are awesome and pretty much represent what I expect from the series, creativity/coolness-wise!

As always, we close the pdf with several natural items - including rust monster antennae, mulch rot powder or a medusa's head - which may also petrify the careless wielder or those around him. Similarly, size-reducing intellect devourer jelly is neat and now features significantly improved formatting and rules lingo. Hydra blood has increased its base price and nets fast healing 5 for 1d4 + 4 rounds, making it balance-wise more viable - not too bad and harvesting requires dead creatures, but still - one could argue that drawing blood could make an industry of the stuff. I's strongly suggest making them heart's blood or something like that/ the flavor more explicit. But then again, that is fluff-based.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good in the revised iteration. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the b/w-artwork provided is amazing. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked, which is nice.

Stephen Stack and Russ Brown deliver an amazing critter and in the revised version, the fixed hiccups increase the value of this further - to the point, where I can rate it 5 stars + seal of approval. For the low price, this is a steal indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Mulch Stalker
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deadly Gardens: Deathcap Fungus
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/31/2017 03:24:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this installment with 2 hazards, the first of which would be a lesser form of cave-in, with the second being a patch of the eponymous deathcap mushrooms, which may generate bursts of negative energy - thankfully, in a limited manner, so healing abuse by undead is not possible. We also receive a new alchemical item, the salt bomb, which deals AoE damage to targets. EDIT: Now the bomb is typed, damage-wise. The salt spread by the bomb does inflict more damage for subsequent rounds to targets susceptible to salt, with the subsequent rounds, weirdly, causing "salt damage" - I think that's supposed to be acid.

Now, the pdf does feature 3 sample creature modified with the new template of deathcap creature: Crypt thing, ghoul and zombie (CR 6, 4 and 1). The template adds +1 to the CR, nets a bit of positive energy resistance, adds a bit of negative energy damage and death throes. Each gets its own artwork, though the artworks do not adhere to a uniform style and the ghoul's artwork, as featured on the cover, is the superior one.

The pdf also features a total of 10 different natural items, which are in and of themselves mostly not related to the deathcap fungus - we get notes for black pudding acid, darkmantle eggs or gelatinous slime bladders. Now it should be noted that, if you're not familiar with these, that unless otherwise noted, activating these is a standard action that provokes AoOs - so yeah, the hyperlinked free pdf for these, if you don't already have it, may be worth checking out. That being said, not all are perfect: Take Powdered ID Ooze: It hits foes attempting to telepathically contact you with confusion for 1 round.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are improved in the revised edition. Layout adheres to a pretty printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with solid b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity. Nice!

Russ Brown's Deathcap fungi aren't bad by any means, but neither are they particularly impressive. They represent a plant-based upgrade for undead that is pretty basic. More damage, better defense, death throes, that's pretty much it. That's not bad, mind you, but it's not impressive either. The supplemental material is better now, but can't really make up for the template being pretty cookie-cutter. This is by no means a bad pdf, but at the same time, it falls short of the standard of the series. The low price does help to remedy it as far as I'm concerned, and the improvements made net this +0.5 stars, but I still can't round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Deathcap Fungus
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 3
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2017 04:47:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third collection of essays on game design by Daniel J. Bishop, intended primarily, but by far not exclusively, for the DCC RPG, clocks in at 58 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 54 pages of content, though it should be noted that this book's layout is intended for A5 (6'' by 9'')-booklets and, as such, you can fit up to 4 of these pages on one sheet, provided your eyesight is good.

Please read the whole review, not just a paragraph or two. This is going somewhere.

All right, so...the topic is the sandbox and the author begins, wisely, I might add, given how opinionated we RPG-folks tend to be, with a subjectivity-clause: This pdf and its essays represent opinions and one way of dealing with the theme of the sandbox - this does not mean it's the only way, but yeah. It also helps if you've read Dispatches Vol. I, wherein the importance of choices and consequences was discussed - why? because frankly, the sandbox IS the result of saying yes to choices and consequences. Before we dive in, let me add my own subjectivity disclaimer: While it is in the nature of a review, that it is an subjective opinion, this one is more subjective than most and my criticism herein is offered in the spirit of discourse, not with the claim of owning a monolithic truth.

A sandbox is an attempt to create a breathing world, one that is not beholden to a given plot of a sequence of adventures; a simulation, if you will - you generate the playing field and contemplate how xyz reacts to various impulses and then throw your PCs in. It is how I've ran pretty much all of my campaigns. This obviously does mean that there is more preparation, or at least, consideration, involved in making a sandbox: After all, you have to create (or improvise) more than just the sequence of places the PCs stumble through on their railroad...but this endeavor is very much rewarding, s it can generate truly magical moments.

This does NOT mean that the sandbox has no plot, mind you - quite the contrary: At any given time, only your mind and capability to juggle them is what counts. If the PCs don't want to get involved in that brewing war between kingdom A and B, it'll still happen - just without them. In short: The sandbox does not revolve around the PCs, but rather turns on its own. This also means that a proper sandbox takes off the stupid CR-restrictions (if employed as restrictions, not as guidelines) popularized in many games in favor of, tie in Vol I, choice and consequence- if your PCs are dumb enough to challenge the old wyrm at level two, they deserve being killed. Similarly, just because they have level 5 does not mean that they should waltz, staves blazing, into your game's equivalent of Mordor.

We're coming full-circle here - the determinant of any sandbox game is not ONE plot, but the player's DECISION to follow one of the multitude of plotlines that happen at any given time. So far, the reasoning of the pdf is, as far as these aspects are concerned, flawless. It's a democracy of choice within the realm where the GM is the absolute ruler.

At the same time, the subjectivity clause is well-deserved, for ultimately, these well-construed and -reasoned points do unfortunately intersect with what I'd consider a classic case of preaching to the choir and the advent of opinionated gaming where you tell groups they or their system are doing it wrong. You see, I do agree that the lack of choice inherent in linear storytelling formats like APs can be stifling. I do not agree with the notion, however, that whether or not they are wholly rests on the shoulders of a great GM-narrator. Similarly, "skirmishing games", as an aside towards rules-heavy games, are not by definition opposed to the very notion of a sandbox. To deconstruct a couple of theses herein: The pdf claims that a system matters for sandboxing. This is, indeed, true to a certain extent - the less preparation a given combat encounter or social scenario requires, the easier it gets. However, this does not mean that it's hard or impossible to do so. It may require marginally more work, but ultimately boils down to a GM's willingness and creative muscles. Similarly, there are ample COLOSSAL sandboxes out there for rules-heavy games - one look at Frog God Games' library would for example yield several monstrously large sandboxes that represent massive rebuttals.

That being said, if you define sandbox as a whole world as opposed to an adventuring region, no matter how large it is, then a sandbox cannot be contained in any published module due to the constraints of any given product - this fallacy is rebutted later, thankfully. Under such a perspective, it is up to the GM (or judge, or referee, or...) to take a world and litter it with adventure - but when such a definition is used, the whole argument of pre-packaged modules not working, no matter their structure, has rendered itself ad absurdum.

Nevertheless, there is a truth here, no matter the barbs towards certain systems - namely that, by virtue of the limitations of space and popularized formats of pre-existing modules, many publishers and authors have started designing in a very video-game-y manner. Scene A -> Combat -> Talk -> Transition -> Scene B. That is the railroad. That is a lack of player-choice, and very often one that sports a distinct lack of interaction options. It is pretty much what disillusioned me regarding many video games and made me go pen and paper in the first place. However, it is not a design aesthetic that is INHERENT to any system - it is, instead, a design CONVENTION that many authors elect to follow. No matter how complex a game's rules are, you can always make a sandbox. The ability to do so does not rely on the system. Note that the pdf does not claim it does, but heavily implies as such.

Point 2 is that sequential, prepackaged campaigns are similarly not necessarily anathema to a sandbox - there are examples of very free-form ones out there; but beyond that, the validity of the point the author makes here is subverted by one guiding principle of his own philosophy - player choice. See, if the players encounter, for example, module #1 of an AP, elect to start playing it...and then abandon its plot halfway through to do something else, then that is their CHOICE. If they are intrigued enough to follow the plot to module #3 and then abandon it, then that's their choice as well - it's not a question of the structure of a system or its conventions for module design, it's an issue reliant on the GM saying yes to their freedom of choice and preparing accordingly. Now the slightly schizophrenic aspect here is that, in the partially well-justified criticism of sequential adventure formulae, the book later (down in the DCC-section) concedes exactly this point - that published modules, with all their limitations, do not necessarily destroy a sandbox - basically, the tune changes completely and becomes inclusive. Now, I get it. The issue the author fields it that railroady campaigns are the problem - when the campaign is all the world. Railroady single modules are okay, though. Here's the thing, though - no one forces a group to stick to one campaign and a campaign consists of...modules. Again, it boils down to convention of how a GM looks at the material available, not the formula of presentation - whether that's a hex-crawl or an AP.

Let me, at this point, quote one of the most beautiful sentences of genuine wisdom this offers, one that may well be worth getting this: "Present me with a word. If I want to change it, I will."

This sentence is absolutely amazing. It is poignant and glorious and something every GM ever should always bear in mind. In the face of such wisdom and beauty, it is my contention that the arguments fielded in the beginning are slightly lost in the opinionated way they're presented here, when looking at it neutrally may have not yielded the same cheers from fans of the respective rules-lite systems, but would have yielded the more stringent impact. Chances are, that the GMs who were bound to benefit the most from this gem and the enlightened stance taken later in the pdf may have put the file away at this point, with the proselytizing in favor of certain systems detracting from the appeal of those most in need of the guidance herein.

The task here is not to praise system a) for qualities, which are entirely subjective, not to bash system b), whose merits and flaws are similarly subjective and a matter of taste. The point is that the CONVENTIONS of how modules are presented and a lack of consciousness for their limitations and downsides, for their meta-structure, are what governs an inability to properly sandbox more than a rules system ever could.

I've already talked about the sequential AP-formula; so, while I do adore sandbox gaming, let's take a look at the downsides here, which the pdf could imho do a slightly better job advising GMs: The biggest one, obviously, is choice paralysis. This may not necessarily be a thing in your game; veterans generally tend to be able to handle it rather well and find things to do. However, in the long run, just exploration and stumbling into the week's latest dungeon/monster/weird settlement can be just as frustrating as a restrictive railroad. Granted, the task of plotting meta-narratives is up to the GM...but then, how to seed them and maintain them? I'm trying hard to be the advocatus diaboli here, mind you.

Another point made to emphasize how some systems are less capable of depicting a sandbox would deal with character progression - broad, rather than narrow, are the terms employed here. Broad implies that more options are gained, whereas narrow implies that the respective options are improved. Similarly, these denote the type of challenge a given group can tackle over a series of levels -can a challenge be relevant for multiple levels or does it require redesign, etc.?. 4th edition, for example, would be a very narrow system. If you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll know that I loathe the system. I really dislike it, but ultimately, you can sandbox in it. It takes serious effort, but it is possible. Ultimately, it depends on the GM being capable of and willing to modify stats, encounters, etc. It's infinitely simpler for retro-clones like S&W, LotFP or DCC - sure. And yes, I absolutely agree that system does matter in this discipline. But what matters most, ultimately, is a GM's prowess.

takes a deep breath All right, that is not to say that there are no theses with which I 100% agree: One, simulationalist approaches work best in sandboxes. It can be extremely thrilling to see PCs risk starvation while exploring a wasteland; in the right hands, such a set-up doesn't require a single combat to be a nail-biting experience. Speedy character creation and world creation are two aspects that most certainly work easier for rules-lite games - not going to argue there, just note that capable players and GMs can whip out new characters even in incredibly rules-heavy systems rather quickly. Or purchase them. Such systems do tend to have a plethora of NPC-books, pregens, etc.

Encouraging GM fiat can be an empowering aspect and one that current generations of GMs often forget - particularly in rules-heavy environments. As opposed to a proper game-designer trying to use the system, a GM can, regardless of system, be the final arbiter...and should be just that. It is one of the most troubling developments in rules-heavy systems to see this aggravating player-entitlement that complains about an enemy not being "CR-appropriate". It's a world - or rather, simulation thereof. If you're demonstrating for whatever cause and come to blows with a soldier and get your behind handed to you, you can't complain about it being not fair regarding power-levels. At the same time, GM fiat can be very frustrating - it puts a lot of strain on a GM, as corner cases need to be remembered, sample rulings kept in mind. Sure, you can discard those...but that takes away from the all-important immersion, the sense of a concise and organic world. So, like everything, there are two sides to contemplate here.

Once again, that is not the consequence of a system, but the consequence of the design-conventions in place for that system - and the GM-conventions in place for the system. CoC-Keepers will run games differently than DCC judges, Pathfinder GMs or OSR referees. Okay, so, I've rambled on long enough about my take on the respective theses in the set-up chapters, but the book has more to offer than that. We begin with considerations pertaining initial bases of operations and a MORE THAN APT revision of Ray Winninger's rules of dungeoncraft - these two guidelines make significantly more sense and do not feature the implied justification of doing only the basics - kudos for a thoroughly well-reasoned expansion. Similarly, the pdf provides handy guidelines on grouping NPCs, how to know where to get more involved etc. - basically, it is a nice way of establishing priorities. Similarly, establishing the basics of making an interesting outdoors area are covered in succinct and crisp detail and similarly, guidelines for lair placement, into how much detail you should go - and ample inspirational reading, from RPGs to beyond, provide an excellent way of generating the mindset for a GM.

Now, this is billed as a DCC-supplement, so judges are in luck, for, from the general, we move to the particular, at least system-wise - we begin with a consideration of what a good funnel should achieve as a kickstart of a sandboxy environment; similarly, from classic Hommlet to White Plume Mountain, via basics of the gaming classics, we receive some excellent models which are used to illustrate the craftsmanship aspects of sandboxing. While I know that both are classics, I did wish the book to a slightly broader approach here and included more current examples - once again, since those most in need of this book probably haven't heard about those two classics. Oh, and you may stone me and pull out the pitchforks, but I consider both to be somewhat overhyped.

...

Huh, no giant d20 squashed me. Guess I have to try harder at RPG-heresy. Kidding aside, the pdf does lead by example - a minor sample adventuring site and a 2-page full-color hex-crawl map with basic notes for the respective hexes help getting the feel of how to run such a game and are, as we've come to expect from the author, well-written. A ten-entry (one is roll twice, one is no special ability) d30-table for judges to add special abilities to centaurs and the sample centaur character Asbolus as well as an aspect of Chiron complete this section and provide a nice base-line to illustrate how you can get serious mileage out of a given work/creature.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard and the pdf features some really neat full-color artwork. The pdf also sports nice full-color cartography as well as bookmarks for your convenience.

Daniel J. Bishop's third collection of Dispatches from the Raven Crowking would have, to be honest, landed in my recycling bin if I wasn't a reviewer. After a couple of pages, I just shook my head at several of the argumentative fallacies committed and put the pdf away. Let it be known that it has haunted me for a couple of days, as I began formulating why some of the initial claims felt so wrong to me. I returned, as you can see, in due time - and I am glad I did. From the bottom of my heart.

Now, as you may notice, I very much disagree with several core tenets of the train of thought constructed by the author. Significantly. It is my firm conviction that, in spite of the subjectivity clause, the needlessly judgmental way in which some systems and presentation modes are depicted, hampers the point the pdf tries to make - with the audience that most needs it. The pdf, in short, could have taken a more diversified stance here and been, ultimately, more respectable in its argumentation here. Then again, it does have the material - the synthesis of thesis and antithesis comes late. Similarly, the pdf does not necessarily paint a diversified picture of the issues that a group can face while sandboxing, focusing on GM preparation and how to handle this aspect - but less about how to handle players dealing (or not dealing) with a sandbox. There is only so far reactions and the like will get you and while the pdf does cover these aspects, I believe they are very much born of experience here and could have used a more novice-friendly depiction.

Oh boy. I'm realizing right now that this all sounds very negative. And it shouldn't be. Whether by happy accident or just by impulse, my annoyance in the face of some statements herein made me reevaluate basic structures of the presentation of gaming materials and systems in general and has left me enriched for it. While, as my review above should make more than clear, I do disagree on several finer points and agree with others, much like any good discussion with a dissenting point of view that is presented in a strong and concise manner, this book has left me richer and, hopefully, more enlightened than I was before; not by assimilation of another opinion, but by contemplating my own.

This is, ultimately, all you can ask of from a series of essays on game-design and structures.

Oh, and the book also is a pretty neat guideline to sandbox gaming. Yeah, there was that aspect as well while I was getting lost in the argument.

So, worth getting? My answer would be a resounding "yes." Final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 3
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Vigilantes of Skybourne
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2017 04:40:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion-pdf for the vigilante-class clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, we begin this pdf with a collection of archetypes, the first of which would be the living banner. At 2nd level, the archetype is locked into the inspired vigilante talent. At 3rd level, a unique peculiarity begins - the living banner receives access to the war sphere, using inspiration points instead of spell points. The totem abilities gained are always centered on the living banner and affect only allies while he's in the vigilante identity. In social identity, an ally within 30 ft. may be affected by the rally abilities, but not the totem abilities. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter net a talent from the war sphere. This replaces startling appearance and unshakeable. 11th level allows for a cool option: Whenever the banner would be reduced below 0 hit points while in vigilante identity, an ally within 30 ft may aid another for AC as an immediate action - if the AC bonus suffices to raise the vigilante's AC high enough so the attack misses, it is negated. This one replaces frightening appearance. 17th level nets the ability to allow allies to execute an attack as an immediate action against an adjacent target when the banner crits, replacing stunning appearance. All in all, a cool archetype.

The Iron Lord is basically an Iron Man archetype - instead of the default dual identity, the archetype can conjure forth a bonded armor that is of masterwork quality, +1 enchanted for every odd level beyond first, with the +5 cap maintained. Enhancements/special qualities can be switched upon reaching a new level. The armor vanishes once it loses the iron lord's possession and 7th level provides a second suit of armor for more flexibility, with changes between suits and identities following the normal dual identity rules Starting at 3rd level, the iron lord unlocks progressively better special materials to craft the suit from, with 7th and 11th level providing progressively better options. Now this is not meant as criticism and I won't penalize the pdf for it, but I would have loved to see some GM guidelines of when to unlock new materials beyond the standard Paizo stuff. Oh well.

The third archetype, the masked duelist, gains Weapon Finesse with one-handed piercing weapons and light weapons, replacing seamless guise. 2nd level replaces the vigilante talent with the swashbuckler's panache, including dodging panache and opportune parry and riposte, with 3rd level unlcoking precise strike and swashbuckler's initiative. 6th level replaces another vigilante talent nets Dazzling Display and treats all Weapon Finnese'd weapons as Weapon Focus weapons for the feat's purpose. A number of times per day equal to Cha-mod, the masked duelist can mark a foe as part of Dazzling Display, potentially dazing the adversary. You've no doubt discerned it - this is the Zorro-archetype. And I like it. One issue remains, though, one that is retained from the base swashbuckler - the archetype, much like the swashbuckler class, lacks a reliable skirmishing option, one that imho would have really benefited the archetype.

The next one is pretty interesting - the Possessed gains 4+ Int skills per level and instead of vigilante specialization, he gains possessed identity The possessed identity can either be construct, aligned outsider, elemental, plant, dragon or construct. The vigilante identity, before you start groaning, does not gain all immunities of the respective types (which is good), but still provides unique tricks: Construct possessed do not require air to breathe; undead are treated as both undead and living for the purpose of spells and effects and elementals provide speeds. The transformation is magical and thus faster - it can be completed in 5 rounds, but it is anything but subtle. Somewhat disappointing - no guideline regarding how loud it is was provided. The possessed is btw. treated as a low caster for the spheres system, using Charisma as governing attribute, he does not gain talents. MSB and MSD increase normally, but the spell pool only equals 1/2 + casting ability modifier points - odd: Why not use Cha here?

The secret police gains proficiency with the bow, sap and whip instead of martial weapons, shields or medium armors and replace seamless guise with Enforcer. These guys receive a scaling unarmed damage (Small and Large damage values included) and may execute these even with hands full and applies full Str-mod to damage, including off-hand attacks. Nonlethal damage does not impose penalties to atks with these. This replaces level 1's social talent. 2nd level replaces the vigilante talent with an inqui's judgment and 8th level provides a ring of protection that increases in power as more class levels are gained and this ring may conjure forth tears of death with an immediate onset, replacing that level's vigilante talent. I really liked this one - strong theme, well executed.

The sky marine adds Fly to the class skills and loses medium armor proficiency. The vigilante identity of the archetype relies on war paint, oils, piercings, etc., and as such does not gain any protection from scrying etc. usually conveyed by dual identities. That being said, the vigilante identity provides a scaling dodge bonus and improved startling/frightening appearance duration/AoE. This also kills off seamless guise, obviously. 6th level replaces the vigilante talent gained there and at 13th level as well as Vengeance Strike with the ability to enhance a ship he gains control of, with a handy table listing the quite significant benefits. Also at this level, the archetype may designate any spot on the ship as a temporary control device via cranks and pulleys - cool! 12th level either increases maneuverability (for engines) or nets the ship the ability to work sans sails. The capstone is so cool - it makes the ship return to the archetype within 1 week...and if the archetype is in contact with the ship, both marine and ship receive regeneration 5. Cool!

The next one would be the overwatch nets either a flying familiar or animal companion at full level, replacing the talent usually gained at 2nd level. 6th level nets improved empathic link, including the option to look through the companion's eyes, replacing 6th level's vigilante talent. The capstone lets the companion contribute up to 2 standard actions to vengeance strike. I consider this one somewhat problematic, taking into account the superiority of animal companions and their power at low levels; going druid-progression for them looks like a slight overkill to me. Ranger-route at -3 would have imho been smarter here, but it remains a pretty easy modification to execute, so yeah.

The uncanny archer loses medium armor proficiency and gains Precise Shot as a 1st level bonus feat. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter net a hunter's trick from the skirmisher ranger archetype, which may only be executed with ranged or thrown weapons. These may be used 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day. This replaces 4th level's vigilante talent. 8th level replaces that vigilante talent with 30 ft.-range ranged maneuvers and 12th level provides a ricochet-shot. Decent, but not too interesting as far as I'm concerned. The vessel archetype is interesting - the archetype has no control between the identities - they have to start the day in the social identity and may not sue the vigilante abilities while in social identity. Starting at 1st level, when the vessel or an ally is below 50% hit points, the archetype can assume their vigilante identity as an immediate action. 5th level lets the vigilante transform 1/day as a standard action, regardless of ally conditions, 10th level lets them assume vigilante identity at will and unlocks the vigilante talents for the social identity. The form also nets class level x2 temporary hit points when assuming vigilante identity, though it should be noted that these cannot easily be cycled. Okay, so how would I play this? I'd find a fluffy little kitten. Then...yeah, you get the idea. I'd be angry and whop out my supernatural identity as well when a kitten is hurt. Anyways, at least you don't have to kill them...

Moving on, instead of vigilante specialization, the archetype receives a luck pool equal to 1/2 class level + Cha-mod, which may be spent as part of an attack or damage roll to add a surge-y +1d6 to atk, or +1d6 per 5 class levels to damage. As an immediate action, the vigilante may add this amount to saves, thus replacing vigilante specialization. Also as an immediate action, the vessel may boost an ally's save or AC by +1d6 by expending 2 luck points. I really like this mechanic, but alas, the ally option is a separate ability and does not specify when it is unlocked. Until 10th level, these cannot be used while in vigilante form.

The next chapter provides more archetypes, this time racial ones - if you remember my review of the PG and its gross power imbalances, you'll notice that this does not necessarily leave me stoked. So, for the purpose of this book, I'll just look at these on their own, distinct entities, all right? The Cecaelia deepstalker replaces Climb with Knowledge (history) and gains proficiency with heavy and light underwater crossbow, but loses medium armor and shields, excluding bucklers. 1st level nets poison use and seamless guise is replaces with a bonus to Craft (alchemy) and (traps) - how much? No idea - there is a box-like layout/formatting remnant where the bonus should be. I assume from context that it should be 1/2, though. 4th level replaces the vigilante talent gained with a ranger trap and 20th level nets a pretty hard to counter final death-y ability when reducing foes to 0 hp.

The aasimar divine avenger replaces 5th level's startling appearance with Call Truce and 11th level nets an ability in social identity that makes it hard to say no to the avenger, requiring a WIll-save to not have your attitude improved temporarily - which is cool. However, it replaces "startling appearance" - which is wrong. That ought to read frightening appearance. 17th level replaces stunning appearance with a stun versus anyone at least indifferent when the vigilante identity is revealed. Okay one, I guess, but nothing special. The fenghuang ebon phoenix can assume the eponymous ebon phoenix form in only 5 rounds (as always, talents can hasten that) - and once again, there is no guideline for Perception checks to notice the pretty stark transformation. 1st level locks the character in the Renown social talent and quickens the ability to gain renown in settlements with some fenghuang. The downside here being that it's pretty hard for these fellows to disguise themselves from their people. 2nd level nets bonuses to skills and atk and damage versus fey, which increase at 8th and 16th level. This type may be changed in a 24-hour-ritual that requires sufficient knowledge of the threat being lethal to his people. The capstone allows for a cold-based self-immolation + full-healing auto-resurrection that is particularly potent versus the chosen threat.

The cherufe archetype lava walker is only available for the amet subtype and all members of the archetype share the same vigilante identity, gaining a bonus to Intimidate. Interesting: No mundane or magical compulsion can make a cherufe give up a lava walker's identity. This replaces seamless guise. 2nd level last longer lava and +1/2 class level additional uses, allowing you to perform iterative attacks with it. The lava may also be added to wielded weapons and unarmed/natural attacks, with 5th level making it magical and 7th and 11th level increasing the damage output, the latter also increasing duration. This replaces 2nd level's vigilante talent. 12th level upgrades fire resistance to 25 (or 30 with hotblooded) instead of the vigilante talent. The Reimagined created has basically two modes - the vigilante form may have a different configuration of creation points, though each form per se is fixed.. 3rd level lets the archetype, as a standard action, move around the ability score bonus granted by the repurposed ability, with additional daily uses gained at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter.

The technophile tatulani replaces martial weapon proficiency with firearms and begins play with a battered laser pistol and replaces seamless guise with +1/2 class level to Craft (mechanical) and Knowledge (engineering). 1st level's social talent is exchanged for Technologist and 7th level provides the pretty amazing ability to, in 8 hours, repurpose a room into a crafting laboratory, cybernetics lab, medical lab or military lab, with the Craft-check made determining the charges available. The character also receives Craft Technological Arms and Armor and thus replaces the social talent gained at 7th level. I love this lab-improvising-mechanic...really cool, though I wished the archetype went one step further with it.

The cuazaj winged terror replaces 1st level's social talent with +1/2 class level to Craft (alchemy) and gains alchemist bombs instead of a vigilante talent at 2nd level, though he does not add Int-mod to damage.5th level's startling appearance is replaced with a 30 ft. average fly speed (40 ft. and good with Real Flight) and 17th level's stunning appearance is replaces with even better flight. Weird: While two of the appearance abilities are exchanged, level 11's frightening appearance still is here. Aesthetics-wise, I consider that choice a bit odd.

The pdf does feature archetypes for classes beyond the vigilante, the first of which would be the Beast Tamer for the damn cool Luchador-class. The beast tamer replaces skilled combatant with a full-progression animal companion (alongside a bonus on wild empathy and Handle Animal checks. Thing is...he does not get wild empathy, RAW. Oversight? I don't know. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide a teamwork feat, with class level acting as BAB for prerequisite purposes - all animal companions he has are treated as though they also had these feats. Basically a pet-luchador.

The cloaked killer ranger archetype replaces wild empathy with dual identity and replaces spells with the stalker's hidden strike ability at -3 levels and damage increasing by +1d8 per 2 levels thereafter. 7th level lets the killer move unimpeded through crowds and nets concealment as well as an Intimidate bonus to influence crowds instead of woodland stride. The mutator alchemist replaces the default mutagen with a so-called evolutionary catalyst, which, instead of a mutagen's usual benefits, provides a pool of 1/2 class level 8min 1) spell points as well as a single mutation vigilante talent. Brew Potion is replaced with dual identity and two discoveries and one grand discovery can be used to further enhance the evolutionary catalyst. More on those mutation talents below, just fyi.

The swordsmith fighter loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency, but gains 4 + Int mod skills per level (thank you!), +1 per level that must be used for Craft (weapons). 5th level nets Master Craftsman for Craft (weapons). Starting at 3rd level, the swordsmith designates one weapon he made the blade of legend, which receives a +1 bonus when wielded by him, +1 at every odd level, with the usual +5 cap in place. The assigned abilities may be changed via a ritual and drawing said blade adds the bonus of the blade to Ref- and Will-saves as well as Cha-checks when drawn: The swordsmith basically transforms into an alternate identity, which may even be of a different alignment. However, the character may still be recognized by keen-eyed individuals. This replaces armor training ad qualifies as dual identity for prerequisite purposes. 19th level nets DR 5/- while wielding the sword instead of armor mastery and 20th level allows for on the fly reassignment of blade abilities. Love this one. It's basically He-man. Damn cool!

The pdf also features two 10-level-PrCs, the first of which would be the hellsworn, who receives d8 HD, 4 + skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression and prereq-wise, 5th level access. Oh, and you have to pledge your soul to hell, obviously, which makes resurrection unreliable - the interesting aspect here is that dual identity, if present, means that only one identity is condemned to hell. 1st level nets the option to add hellfire damage (untyped) as a swift action to attacks with mutations, bombs, attacks, etc. The ability also improves at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter, which extends to the skill bonuses it conveys. 2nd level provides class level DR/good and allows for quicker identity change. 4th level nets poison use as well as the option to conjure forth imp poison 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day. 6th level nets 15 + class level SR and 8th level lets him inflict devil chills Cha-mod times per day. The capstone nets an aura of fear.

The second PrC would be the shrouded captain, who receives d8 HD, 6 + Int-mod skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Will-save progression and can be taken prereq-wise as soon as 4th level. The character does need a ship, though - and losing it is nasty. They begin at 1st level with a shrouded crew, which means that the captain can cloak their identity, crafting basically dual identity's lite version for up to 10 x class level beings...which is an AMAZING rpg-catalyst! 3rd level and every three levels thereafter provide a social talent, which may be then included in the generated identities for crew members, though they can't get Renown and the ship will always be the Safe House, if applicable. 2nd level nets jolly roger, which doubles as dual identity for the captain, but extends its benefits to the ship - it also allows for ship intimidation and provides a scaling bonus to crew members' damage rolls and saves versus fear. 5th level and 7th level net a teamwork feat, which may then be shared with all crew members within 60 ft., for a daily total of 5 x class level rounds. 10th level is amazing: If the captain dies and is not returned to life within 24 hours, a member of the crew may take up his mantle, becoming for all intents and purposes the fallen captain, including personality and identity. And yes, this interacts properly with captains later returned to life. Amazing PrC full of flavor, one of the best Pirate-y ones I've seen.

The pdf also features a significant array of new class options for the vigilante: The enigma specialization makes the vigilante a Mid-caster using Cha, with class level + Cha-mod spell points, but does not gain magic talents. Two magical talents may be foregone in favor of a mutation vigilante talent. Mutation vigilante talents are supernatural abilities that do not provoke AoOs and, unless otherwise noted, require a standard action to activate. Many double as sphere effects and may thus be enhanced by magical talents, but may not be enhanced by staves. MSB is based on class level. The massive collection of talents include discoveries for alchemist bombs, Alteration sphere traits (Bestial Form, the talent, is not properly italicized), a combined teleport/darkness, [meld]-scavenging or several SPs. (Once again, one is not italicized correctly) that scale with levels. generating light daggers which can later be used to 30.-ft-whirlwind also are amazing...and yes, dear reader, if you're like me and loved the "Cloak and Dagger"-comics (Mantel und Degen, for my German readers) - the light and darkness-related tricks here are an amazing homage to these characters. Fire-breathing, laced energy, preventing lying, firing ocular blasts and radically improved speed all make sure that the ample inspiration from the superhero genre was well integrated with both spherecasting and the vigilante's engine. Speaking of which: You get two nerd-cred-points if you can reliably state the inspiration for "There is only the Night", which "kills" off a social identity and allows you to build a new one. So. Cool.

Social talent-wise, we get a bit less - only 5. One nets you a copycat, which you can use to retain your identity's secret, one that lets him buy at military discount in an area of renown, one that lets him request the help of fighters, one to make a ship the safe house and one that is the opposite of the aforementioned one that lets the vigilante have his vigilante identity "die" - only to construct a new one. The pdf also features favored class options for the skybourne races and closes with 6 feats: Clangorous Crash deafens foes temporarily when you roll maximum damage with a bludgeoning weapon (finally a reason to use hammers...). Dazzling Blow is smart: Single attack dazzling foes that also renders them flatfooted against you...but only until the start of your next turn, making this a great AoO/tactics set-up that can't be cheesed. Kidney Cutter allows your potshots to deal continuous nonlethal damage (neat!); Mutation nets you, bingo, a mutation. Sealed Mind proofs you versus divination/Mind Sphere abilities and Tertiary Identity nets you another social identity - cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-level - the pdf juggles complex concepts rather well. At the same time, there are some oversights and formatting hiccups here and there. Layout adheres to a really nice full-color two-column standard and the pdf sports a blend of stock art and several amazing full-color pieces I haven't seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Michael Sayre's vigilantes of Skybourne are pretty amazing as a whole; while not all archetypes wowed me, there are indeed some gems herein. In particular in the talent-selection, I kept grinning from ear to ear. As a longtime fan of Cloak And Dagger and as someone who grew up with He-man, there is a lot of heart's string-pulling involved here. The talents, if you're playing with Spheres of Power, are pretty much a reason of its own to get this. If you're not playing with the system, then this has less to offer, so let that stand as a warning.

To make that clear - SoP-using groups that feature vigilantes should consider this a must-have, though not all options reach the level of awesomeness as the ones I mentioned: The Zorro-archetype inherits the issues of the swashbuckler and the hellsworn, while obviously a homage to Spawn lacks symbiotic costume and the unique timer, ending up being basically just another hell-themed PrC...one that, theoretically and RAW, could be cheesed via the new talents that let an identity "die". So yeah, this is not perfect, but it represents a book worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Skybourne
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Templar Base Class
Publisher: ARMR Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/30/2017 04:38:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base class clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 4 pages for the templar base class.

The templar has d10 HD, 2 + Int-mod (lower cap'd in the pdf) skills per level, full BAB-progression and good Fort- as well as Will-saves. They gain proficiency with all simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields, except tower shields. The templar can cast arcane spells gained from the class (and only those) sans arcane spell failure. 4th level nets prepared arcane spellcasting based on Intelligence at -3 levels, with spells drawn from the sorc/wiz-list. As soon as they can cast spells, they may do so with hands full - and here the "only templar spells"-caveat is missing.

The class begins play with at-will detect magic and the option to 1/day chastise another as a swift action, which is basically a variant smite sans the bonus to atk, but with + class level to damage and a -2 penalty for attacking other targets while the ability is in effect. It may be used an additional time per day at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, though the ability itself does not spell that out - you need to look at the table to deduce that.

At first level, the templar also pledges an oath - these basically come with flavorful adventuring modifications and provide a passive benefit and an active benefit: These include gaining proficiency with tower shields, Arcane Strike as a bonus feat or an increased spell level of +3 (for full CL). The active benefits interact with chastise and provide e.g. DR, attack bonuses, save bonuses and AC - the standards, all of which scale with the chastise daily use progression. 2nd level provides eldritch hands, which is a temporary hit points granting variant of lay on hands, governed by Int (not properly capitalized in text), with 1/2 class level + Int-mod daily uses and 1d10 + 1/2 class level gained for use. This is upgrades to 2d10 + class level at 14th level.

The temporary hit points last an hour and touching others is a standard action, personal sue a swift action. 3rd level nets a familiar at full progression (WTF?), with 10th level providing Improved Familiar for free. 5th level provides at-will mount, though it can't be recast until its duration expires, so no mount spamming, which represents a nice catch. This upgrades to phantom steed at 11th level.

6th level and every 3 thereafter net a bonus feat chosen from combat, metamagic, Spell Focus or Spell Mastery or an Arcane Discovery.

Starting at 8th level, as a standard action, the templar can generate a 1-round aura that increases CLs or arcane spells by 1 and their DC similarly by 1, usable 3 + Int-mod times per day. 11th level allows the templar to expend two uses of chastise to grant all allies within 10 feet the ability to chastise, though they need to do so before the templar's next turn. Sooo, can the chastise once? As often as the templar? Before or after expenditure? Do they deplete his chastise-uses? That one could be more precise. The aura is a bit too opaque. It is upgraded by another +1 and a decreased activation action at 17th level. The capstone makes the templar immune to mundane weapons (Yay at this level?) and allows him to once per chastise double the damage bonus, add a targeted greater dispel magic AND end the chastise, allowing for a flexibility the class could have used sooner.

The pdf sports a feat for +2 chastise uses and the eldritch vindicator, a cold iron bastard sword that becomes more powerful in the hands of a templar...bingo, it's basically the equivalent of the good ole' holy avenger etc. It also sports some minor formatting hiccups.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent - the rules-language and formal criteria, for the most part, are solid, if not always perfect. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artwork's nice for a PWYW file. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

The templar by Angel "ARMR" Miranda is a decent take on the arcane paladin - nothing more, nothing less. It is, in short, a pretty basic rules-operation, with the oaths being the one source of player-agenda apart from the spells. The class's spellcasting engine is pretty brutal, but has to make up for the loss of mercies...which brings me to another point - this is basic and it could have been interesting: Adapting arcane mercies or tapping a substitution ability into the sellcasting instead of going the standard route could have made this guy really interesting. As written, it is a decent take on the trope, though I've seen better. On the plus-side, this being PWYW means that you can check it out rather easily and determine whether it's for you or not. If you need a quick arcane pala class with minor rough edges and sans frills, this may be worth taking a look at. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up by virtue of being PWYW.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Templar Base Class
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Shuigong - The Emperor's Watery Secret
Publisher: Gaming Paper
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/28/2017 10:12:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at a total of 16 pages, minus 3 for the editorial etc., leaving us with 13 pages of content, so what do we get?

This module was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a print copy of this book at Gencon.

The world of Orbis is one where steampunk influences abound, thanks to a special type of wood called scaldwood, which allows for the cleaner and more efficient generation of steam. Situated on this world, there is a nation roughly modeled after China - the Ten Thousand Scales, where the truth about the function of scaldwood and the actual use of steampunk-y technology is a jealously guarded secret, kept by advisors and bureaucracy from falling into the hands of the public, with the scheming at court keeping most issues far away from the emperor's notice. The PCs are contacted by the bureaucracy to deal with a rather significant issue - with 5 sample traits providing justification for them being chosen. The traits generally are solid and have but one issue: They do not specify their trait type.

Where should they go? Well, the deal offered to them provides a HUGE monetary benefit to go into Shuigong, the eponymous and restricted access filtration/sewer/water-processing system.

Anyways, this module is intended to be used with Gaming Paper's Mega Dungeon 3: The Sewers game aid, but does not require it - the final page is devoted to depicting the set-up of the gaming paper sheets, but also doubles as a map of the complex - player-friendly, in case you were wondering...

...and this is as far as I can go without SPOILING anything. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion from here on out.

...

..

.

All right, I mentioned the huge reward before, right? Well, players should be skeptical and if they manage to get on the bureaucrat's good side, they may gain some additional information: There is a monster hiding in Shuigong, and its body-count is rapidly rising. While details are scarce, public persons have been eliminated and the military had been sent in. To no avail. The dread "Beast Below" that has been causing the deaths in no monster, at least not in the classic sense of the word; rather than that, it is a man named Zihao, one born as a fourth son, but with serious magical talent. Emotionally and physically tortured by his brothers for the perceived favoritism he received, they sought to break his heart via a courtesan...and instead broke his mind. Zihao stalks the tunnels and has created a web of death below...one the PCs are now in the process of entering.

Shuigong is not a cosmetic backdrop - it is a proper environment: Pitch-black, slippery and potentially lethal, the place's structure influences CMD and Acrobatics and you should definitely know what you are doing - high Dex-characters will have some chance to shine here.

Exploring the dungeon that is Shuigong is btw. an internally consistent manner - it makes sense from the perspective of the deranged mastermind as well as from that of the GM: The obstacles the PCs will encounter focus on crippling PCs, on generating slowly a means of decreasing their potency; from deathblade poison-covered hidden blades to the creatures - which deserve special mention: The first would be hungry fleshes, which not only are diseased, they also accrue growth points and regenerates when hit by the wrong type of weapon, making for basically a puzzle-foe from the get-go.

This level of imaginative potential has been applied to more critters - take the plasmic otyugh, which can change its shape when in water - the interesting component here being definitely that the creature does not need to adhere to the standard formation of creature space, allowing for a creative application of flexibility and interesting tactical options I have not seen executed in any other critter so far. Even skeletons with filed feet or amphisbaena can be found here and astute players will slowly notice a sense of cohesion, that something is amiss - and indeed, the whole structure amounts to a gauntlet to soften up the pesky adventurers. From huecava and necrocrafts, the PCs will need more and more resources, as they slowly make their way towards the darkness and madness of Zihao and his ghoul retinue...

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are generally very good; while my print copy lacks some formatting among the statblocks (bolding/italicization), I have been told that this was cleaned up. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports several nice, original b/w-artworks. The print-version is a nice softcover. The cartography-overview page is solid and unfortunately, I can't comment on any pdf-versions, since I'm not sure there even exists one.

Dan Comrie's Shuigong is a nice, unpretentious, internally consistent dungeon crawl against relatively challenging foes that shows some sparks of brilliance and creativity among the builds for the adversaries; less so for the BBEG, but there is some true creativity herein. Considering the evocative twist on the classic sewer level trope, one can definitely consider this a nice module, particularly for slightly more experienced groups and convention play. While certainly not super-hard, it is definitely a potentially challenging module and I mean that in a good way. Not all encounters reach the highlight-level of brilliance, but for the brevity, the module does indeed deliver a fun excursion. All in all, a fun module - which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shuigong - The Emperor's Watery Secret
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Sewer Bestiary
Publisher: Gaming Paper
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2017 15:06:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little bestiary clocks in at 16 pages, 3 of which are devoted to editorial, etc. - leaving us with 13 pages for the critters herein.

The review is based on the dead-tree version I received at Gencon in exchange for an unbiased, critical review. Due to me receiving a print copy, this was moved up in my review-queue.

All right, so we begin this bestiary with the CR 1 Chimerette, which is an AMAZING concept: Think of these guys as anti-familiars, instilled with an intense hatred for spellcasters and a will to free their enslaved brethren. And yes, non-spellcasters may gain these as companions with a new feat presented herein.

The CR 4 Cystling is a similarly evocative concept - basically a fey that has literally been consumed and trasnformed by the cancerous growth of unchecked civlization's refuse into a horribly disturbing mockery of its former self. Yeah...evocative.

The giant cone snail and its increased emperor iteration at CR 1/2 and 3, respectively, are similarly cool: Trails of slime make terrain difficult, poisonous stings, soft bits and the option to traverse walls make these nasty threats Speaking of animal-like threats: The vessel-capsizing CR 5 black boar with its jagged tusks is another effective, deadly threat that maintains the streamlined emphasis on efficiency you expect from animal builds.

The denlock, at CR 3, are basically long-necked, hairless degenerate dwellers of the realms below, adept at swarming and leaping pounces. The CR 2 plague drake is a great story foe - they hatch from dragon eggs corrupted and diseased and thus can make for a perfect angle to introduce draconic mentors or do one of the scaled majesties a favor.

At CR 7, the gatorpede is actually one of the few examples of weird hybrid creatures where I really can see it work - unique and deadly, it has the potential to become as popular as the classic owlbear. The CR 3 filth golem is usually not created - it happens when refuse manages to gain accidental sentience, emitting a powerful stench, nauseating blows and the classic immunity to magic make this for a great foe.

The CR 6 prismatic cube determines its color and precise effects anew every single round - from fire to acid and poison, it is a unique twist on the gelatinous cube. I've, as often, kept the best for last: The CR 9 rat emperor is basically a composite entity composed of a swarm of rats that grant it a collective intelligence - as such, it can swarm, spellcast, inflict the bubonic plague on foes...and worse. That's campaign BBEG-material, just add the required class levels and there we go, even at higher levels. My favorite critter herein, though...is one you will never see. No, not even with invisibility purge. Dire Midge Swarms, at CR 4, cause horrible itching and painful welts and they are particularly nasty when facing foes that are bleeding...oh, and they are so small you can't see them. This is amazing and I already know how I'll be using these critters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; I noticed a minor formatting glitch of a purely aesthetic nature, but the Gaming Paper-crew has since told me they had fixed it, so consider this to be excellent. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, solid 2-column b/w-standard and each critter herein has a nice, original piece of artwork, all adhering to a uniform style. The softcover is solid and does not leave much to be desired for such a booklet.

A bestiary at this length has a tough job - it NEEDS to be all killer, no filler to warrant its dead tree price point, which is why you don't see too many small bestiaries at this length. Thankfully, the Gaming Paper crew has hired industry-legend Owen K.C. Stephens to write this pdf. This may be the first bestiary of his I have read and it's absolutely glorious, an all-killer, no-filler beauty that I really want to use in my games. Not a single creature herein is even "only" good - every single critter here is superb, making this one of the best small bestiaries I have read in a long, long while - and Legendary Games has spoiled me big time regarding great creature design. This is superb and well worth getting in print. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sewer Bestiary
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Trail of the Apprentice: The Bandit's Cave (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2017 07:43:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Trail of the Apprentice adventure arc (I refuse to use the term "AP" for anything that does not cover at least 12 levels) clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf comes with a massive 20-page art- and map-folio that contains not only nice sample artworks to use as handouts (and the handout), but also player-friendly iterations of the maps featured herein, complete with grid etc.

So, this is the first of the series that uses Beginner's Box rules to (hopefully)bring ample of new blood into the hobby we all know and love. The first thing you should know, then, is that the series takes place on the world of Terrallien. This world is a relatively normal fantasy world, though gunpowder is known - other than that, the flavor is relatively vanilla and allows for easy integration into most campaign settings. The game begins in the idyllic village of Corbin, which also constitutes the first of two appendices; the second provides the two statblocks herein that are slightly more complex in the regular PFRPG-rules-version, since all other stats use the simplified beginner's box statblock notation. Nice to see this extra support, particularly considering that plenty of kiddie-groups use full-blown rules. All right, that would be my cue: The Trail of the Apprentice is a relatively kid-friendly AP, which means that kids ages 8+ should not encounter issues; heck, there are some 6 year-olds that wouldn't have issues with this. That being said, parents with particularly sensitive kids should definitely read this before playing.

The pdf also features the moon goddess Losinia in a complete write-up. Depending on domain chosen, one of 5 domain abilities is present, though e.g. calming touch's text continuously refers to binding ties in a glitch that should have been caught. The handout, if you've forgotten to print the maps from the associated file, is also reproduced herein, though it'll only come into play at the very end of the module.

Now before I go into the plot of the module, it should be noted that this is perhaps the most novice-GM-friendly module I have encountered for PFRPG - encouragement is given in the copious sidebars, from tactics to notes on how to run traps and detecting secret stuff to advice on scaling encounters, overland movement and similar tricks - for us veterans, that's all easy-peasy, sure - but it's nice to see a module set out this deliberately to make running it easy for a GM with literally 0 or next to 0 experience. That being said, as always, a GM obviously needs to know the rules - the advice pertains the practice of GMing.

All right, and this is as far as I can go without SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Only GMs here? All right, so the plot is pretty simple: Lay down the map of the village, establish Corbin...and at dusk, the orcs attack. The PCs are interrupted from their nice stay at the tavern and the GM receives a lot of advice on playing orcs - and the first combat is on, as the PCs get a chance to defend the weapon shop. In the aftermath of the attack, the PCs are contacted by Sherif McBride to track down the orcs -for they have stolen a valuable artifact, a green serpent statue, from the local scholar This would be, btw., as good a place as any to note that the pdf does sport a ton of read-aloud text, making that aspect of "helping new GMs" work neatly as well.

Tracking the bandits overland, the PCs will soon enter Tiller's Marsh, and on the road, they will have a chance to deal with the classic of floral predators - a young assassin vine. The map provided for the encounter is btw. nice - as a whole, each combat-relevant place does get its map, which once again emphasizes the "easy for novices"-aspect of the series. The added tactics similarly help. In the gorgeously-mapped swamp, the PCs will have to deal with a lizardfolk attack and encounter their first hazard with swamp gas, which once again, is depicted in a manner that is easy to run -and yes, there is a player-friendly version that does not note the place the swamp-gas bubble bursts. The illustration of the lizardfolk makes for a great handout and depicts them as relatively nonthreatening - no one should get nightmares from these.

On their way, the next encounter represents an introduction to problem-solving, as the PCs can drag a local hunter from quicksand, with several possible means of achieving the goal being spelled out for the GM. In order to get to the bandit's cave, the PCs will also have to brave a giant grass spider's territory in what perhaps could be considered to be the most creepy of encounters herein, though smart PCs can simply provide food for the spider and bypass it completely. The eponymous bandit's cave, then, would be basically a simple 8-region cave - the progression is absolutely and deliberately linear to keep the group focused on progression - and as far as I'm concerned, it works that way. PCs who retreat and play it safe sans taking care may see that the bandits at least have some rudimentary tactics, though it should be noted that, including the boss Goroc and his wolf (lavishly-rendered), the challenge posed here is more than fair.

While a minor trap (introducing traps as a mechanic with ample GM-help) can pose a bit of a challenge, all but novices should cleave through these obstacles like a warm knife through butter - if e.g. kids already have some experience, you may need to beef that up a bit. (And if you have smart kids, using the regular rules, who known how to make effective builds, this becomes a slaughter...but then again, this is pretty much intentional.) The module ends, when the PCs find (surprise!) a letter of a mysterious "B" that tasked Goroc to steal the serpent - and no trace of it, which means the PCs are on their track to module #2 - the sage Ithamar tells them that the twin of teh statue, the white serpent, current in the care of Lord Samuel Wolfe, may well be in danger of theft as well - and sure enough, the PCs will head to the lord's private museum in Port Fairglade...in part #2.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with the glitch, in the rules-section of the new deity of all things, constituting the most major blunder herein. Layout adheres to a nice, easy-to-read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks provided are nice indeed and the plentiful full-color cartography is similarly great - for some groups, these may even represent the major draw here.

Paris Crenshaw's "Bandit's Cave" absolutely achieves its intended goal - if you'd rate a module in difficulty on a scale of 1 - 10 for both players and GMs, then this would be a 1 on both scales - this is a very easy introductory module that should not generate any frustration unless the dice REALLY hate the players...and that's part of the game as well, right? Anyways, this poses an interesting conundrum for me as a reviewer. You see, when you ask most folks of their very first RPG-experience, you probably won't hear about that AP with its elaborate plot, that highly complex investigation or that bone-chilling horror scenario that killed off all but one player.

What you'll hear, at least in my experience, is a variation of this simple, basic plot: Bandits and/or orcs/goblins/insert low-level humanoids attack; PCs track them to hideout and defeat them. Sometimes sans the tracking, beginning directly with the complex. The boss, usually, is a bandit with wolf, a shadow, a giant spider or an ogre. In the aftermath, the PCs find a very obvious hint that sends them on their quest. I have seen this set-up so many times in various configurations, I have, as a person, come to loathe it. Perhaps it's my personality structure and the fact that I lack a penchant for nostalgia, but as a person, I can't stand this set-up anymore. I wished I had AP-quality plots and complex modules back in the day.

That out of the way, I am not going to penalize this book for delivering what I'd call the "atomic roleplaying experience", the easiest introductory denominator, if you will, for that's exactly what the module is intended to do. The target demographic here is not a cheapshot of nostalgia cloaking a lack of imagination. Instead, every single aspect of the module is thoroughly designed to be easy on the players AND GM. GMs are so often forgotten, and while the learning curve of most GMs is pretty rapid and steep, a good GM can make or break not only a module, but how players perceive the hobby as a whole, particularly when they're new to it. It is here that the module sets itself apart from aforementioned adventures that employ the same atomic experience - it sets itself up, as deliberately as possible, to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone involved and achieves its goal very well, with each encounter and scene introducing one aspect of the game and how to handle it. That deserves applause.

Now there is one thing I considered to be somewhat surprising - you see, considering the focus of the module towards family gaming, towards new players and kids in particular, I was somewhat surprised to note that "good" behavior isn't really rewarded herein. Dealing with adversaries in a nonlethal fashion, an easy way of fine-tuning a moral compass in the making, and rewarding the players for being good guys, is not something the module does and constitutes the one aspect herein where I believe the module falls short of its mission-statement. How to rate this, then? Well, here things become difficult once again - jaded guys like yours truly won't get that much out of this module...but frankly, we're not the target demographic and later installments of the series do a better job there. But yeah, unless your nostalgically-inclined, experienced players and GMs probably won't be too blown away here. However, rating the pdf for such a demographic wouldn't be fair - instead, I will look at this under the premise of what kind of job it does as far as the "very first module"-aspect is concerned...and here, my own experience and cynicism aside, it excels.

Unless you're overly ambitious and want to jump in at the deep end, this represents the most gradual and easy way of "learning the tools of the trade" I have seen for current systems with the morals/nonlethal gripe being the one big flaw I can deduce. Hence, my final verdict for this module will clock in at 4 stars - GMs to be, those of you who never GMed before - this is your ticket towards realms unknown. It's not an epic saga of its own, but it is a fun time for all novices involved.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of the Apprentice: The Bandit's Cave (Pathfinder)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Deadly Gardens: Petrified Plants
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2017 07:41:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, we begin this Deadly Gardens-installment with something radically different - namely a new type of terrain, the stonebriar: These basically represent petrified thorn thickets - as such, either Strength- or Dexterity-checks can be attempted to pass through, with each 5 points over DC 10 providing 5 feet of progress, with Strength causing damage to the person trying to get through it that way. Slower, less lethal ways of passing through it also receive proper mechanical representation. And while I'd honestly usually complain about attribute-checks feeling a bit 5e-style, in this case, I think they're justified: The terrain is rare and probably should be this hampering/deadly. The terrain does not count as plant material for spells and effects, and in my one nitpick, I do believe that stone-manipulating tricks should affect it.

The new material woodstone shared properties with steel, but is treated as wood and is treated as both wood and stone for the purpose of interaction with appropriate magics. Prices for all types of magics are included and the connection to the elemental plane of earth make sure that the respective wands and staves should be in high demand by appropriate people.

Now, as you may have guessed, petrified plants would be represented by a template - depending on the HD of the base creatures, this may increase the CR from anything between +1 to +3. The higher the base HD, the higher the DR - at first, these are /adamantine, later even /- . The template kills any fire vulnerability, but decreases the speed. Its slams become more powerful and they may forego the additional damage of critical hits in favor of a free Awesome Blow. The pdf does feature two sample creatures with the template applied, the treant as seen on the cover and a greater ophidian vine.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series. The artwork provided is decent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity, which is nice.

Joe Kondrak's first offering (at least to my knowledge) that has crossed my path...is surprisingly cool. Now the template could use a bit more extravagant abilities, granted - but it does represent its concept pretty well. The new terrain type and material are surprisingly well-crafted as well, making this a pretty impressive freshman offering. And, as you all know, first offerings get the benefit of the doubt! Hence, my final verdict will round up from 4. 5 stars for the purpose of this platform - certainly worth the low and fair asking price!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Petrified Plants
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2017 07:37:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The D&D 5e-conversion of the Moe Races clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

"When the kami placed their thumbprint unto the forehead of man, breathing life into the husks of flesh, they wept tears of sorrow. Looking upon their children playing upon the ground, rolling in the fields of grass and running alone through lush tracks of wilderness, the Kami felt the hollowness of the human heartbeat, thumping alone." This is the beginning of the legend that talks of the creation of the kemonomimi, and it is but the beginning of a rather flavorful origin-myth, which continues to provide an interesting look at the respective sub-races of kemonomimi, all of which receive their own entry.

For those among my 5e-favoring readers concerned about conversion and detail, it should be noted that the racial entries mirror those in the PHB - that is, we get ample of flavor text as well as suggestions for which class to choose. The Akaimimi (red panda) increase Wisdom by 2 and Constitution by 1, are Medium, have a normal speed and gain darkvision as well as animal affinity towards red pandas and similar beasts - all kemonomimi-subtypes receive the affinity for their respectively aligned animals, just fyi. Similarly, they all have darkvision 60 ft.

Akaimimi may cast augury as an innate spell, recharging that on a long rest, with 10th level adding 1/week divination. You can spend this augury to ask questions to perform a specific task, granting benefits equal to guidance to yourself or another when performing it. Nice one! The race may also choose Arcana, Hisory, Nature or religion to gain proficiency in.

The araiguma (raccoon) kemonomimi increase Con by 2 and Int by 1, are Medium and beyond the standard kemonomimi abilities, they gain proficiency in either thieves' tools or Slight of Hand and may determine the next source of water as if using locate object. Similarly, they may purify food by washing it in fresh water, as the ritual. Nice.

The Inumimi, the dog kemonomimi, increase Strength by 2 and Wisdom by 1 and gain proficiency in Handle Animal or Survival in addition to the usual animal affinity and darkvision. The inumimi gain advantage on saves versus curses, hexes and similar abilities that bring bad luck and extend this benefit to adjacent allies. The fox-like Kitsunemimi increase their Intelligence by 2 and their Dexterity by 1 and may choose either Insight or Perception proficiency-wise. Their unique ability beyond the basics would be cunning planner: During a short or long rest, the character can plan for a specifc situation defined as either the kitsunemimi taking a declared action to affect a designated subject or such a subject taking an action against the kitsunemimi. Upon the conditions coming into play, you can add +1d4 to a relevant roll. The ability can be changed condition-wise in a short rest if not triggered; if triggered, it requires a long rest to recharge. Pretty cool!

The Nekomimi (based on cats, in case you're Japanese is rusty) increase Dexterity by 1 and Charisma by 2 and skill-proficiency-wise may choose either Athletics or Acrobatics. They may reroll a single dice roll, with a long rest to recharge. Tanukimimi (you guessed it - based on tanuki) increase Con by 2 and Cha by 1 and choose either Stealth or Survival as proficiency. As a bonus action, they can grant themselves character level + Constitution bonus temporary hit points, with a long rest to recharge.

The ahre-based Usagimimi receive an increase of Dexterity by 2 and Wisdom yb 1 and gain proficiency of a tool of their choice and one additional language and take only half as long to learn the use of either. They can perform the Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Search actions as a bonus action. Alternatively, they may use a bonus action to attack with a weapon they made themselves. This ability recharges after a short or long rest.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good, though the respective ability-headers are not italicized. Layout adheres to a pretty printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice and cute artworks for the respective Kemonomimi. With the Nekomimi as an exception, the artworks have to my knowledge not been used in pdfs apart from the other editions of this book, which is fair game. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment, though they are not required at this length.

Wojciech Gruchala and Greg LaRose deliver a more than solid, well-made conversion of the kemonomimi to 5e here. The balance of the respective races is on par with the races of the PHB and every type of kemonomimi herein does have at least one unique trick that sets the race apart. It's also nice to see that the animal affinities for more combat related critters (dogs and cats) have obviously influenced the balancing of the respective races. As far as I'm concerned, what's in here is pretty internally consistent, with the usagimimi's pretty powerful skittish bonus action tricks making up for the relatively subdued crafting aspect of 5e in comparison to PFRPG.

In short - this is pretty much an excellent example on how to make a good conversion. Much like its PFRPG-brother, the pdf only covers the base races, though. Supplemental material cannot be found herein, we just get the nice fluff and the similarly nice races. As a whole, this is worth getting and can be considered to be a solid addition to 5e-gaming. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Races (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

The Dimensional Wayfarer
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2017 07:36:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages, so let's take a look!

The dimensional wayfarer class' chassis nets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons + one exotic weapon of their choice as well as with light and medium armors, but not with shields. The class gets a 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Will-save progression and learns to cast spells spontaneously, with Wisdom governing (slightly uncommon) this type of spellcasting,, which is, fyi, drawn from a custom list. And here we begin with a big issue. The spellcasting notes that he casts a "mix of divine and arcane spells" - all right, I'll play. Does arcane spell failure affect them? Yes? No? Only those originally drawn from arcane lists? No frickin' idea.

The class begins play with planar channeling, which means they can channel baneful energies against creatures with the extraplanar subtype and can only harm, with a progression analogue to the cleric's channel energy. Weird " A dimensional wayfarer can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his bonus for the relevant ability of the spellcasting class he selected." Thing is - the class does not select anything, which makes me believe that this is a remnant from a previous version in the design process.

Also at 1st level, the class gains a planar guide benefit - that would be favored enemy, favored terrain or terrain mastery for a previously chosen favored terrain. Only a previously chosen favored terrain qualifies for terrain mastery, with other planes being the focus here. +1 of the planar guide abilities is gained every 3 levels thereafter and they do not scale at later levels. The other first level ability lets them 1/day use dimensional knowledge (+1/day at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter) - using it requires a Knowledge check, with the precise knowledge depending on creature types and a range of 60 ft. For 10 by which the check is succeeded, the bonus granted is enhanced. At first level, this nets an atk-bonus, with 5th level unlocking save-bonuses and 9th level 1d6 bonus damage. Weird: The second one has a maximum range of 60 ft., whereas the other two don't have a maximum range. I assume the "allies within 60 ft." -AoE should pertain to all three. At 13th level, the dimensional wayfarer may single-target a foe who is then dazzled; higher DCs can net daze and stun - and I'm good with no save here; it's a limited ability and temporarily stunlocking a foe at this level is okay with me. 17th level provides once again an AC-boost for allies, though oddly, here the range is 30 ft. Oh well.

2nd level nets Spell Focus (abjuration) as a bonus feat as well as counterport - that is basically a means of conjuration spells counterspelling via any spell of the school qualifying. 5th level nets Spell Penetration as a bonus feat. (Feats are btw. not properly capitalized.) 6th level nets a +1 sacred bonus vs. outsider spells, SPs, Su and Ex saves and increases the spell save DC, Ex, su, etc.-DC and Cl versus such targets, +1 for every 6 levels. 6th level nets 1/day teleport as an SU, lacking the CL for ability interaction. The character also gets SR 5 + class level to resist the effects of dimensional locks and similar spells and abilities. Nope, spells not italicized. 12th level adds greater teleport or plane shift and increases said SR to 10 + class level. Weird: Cut-copy-paste remnant "This replaces planar mastery."

8th level becomes a bit problematic, adding the wayfarer's choice of panicked, sickened or staggered to creatures who fail versus the wayfarer's channel energy...that's a pretty strong save-or-suck at 8th level, in spite of its limits. 10th level nets commune as a 1/day SP, + 1/day every 4 levels thereafter. 14th level increases the counterportation capability as an immediate action and in a nice ability-interlock, two uses of planar channel can be expended to return an escaped critter - very cool! That being said, it imho could have been a bit clearer in that it also inflicts planar channel to the target - the ability is understandable, the sequence of its presentation is not too elegant, though. 16th level adds no-save banishment of outsiders and 19th level makes the teleport etc. 1/hour as well as 3/day astral projection, etherealness, gate, teleportation circle. The SR is upgraded to a base value of 15 + and, oddly, once again features the replace-angle-remnant.

The capstone adds further damage to creatures redirected. Beyond the spell-list of the class, the pdf also contains several spells. These contain some spells from rite Publishing's 1001 Spells as well as other sources - a chaotic bolt cantrip, a viable variant of dimension door - per se a solid addition to the class.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are better than in previous Wayward Rogues Publishing-pdfs. They are still not at a point where I'd consider them good, though. There are both formal and rules-language hiccups here. Layout adheres to a nice full-color two-column standard and the interior artwork is solid stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks.

Robert Gresham's Dimensional Wayfarer is the best of the early hybrid classes he penned; while it is a Frankenstein-entity of cleric, planes walker PrC and arcane caster, its combination of tricks does have some potential. It is not a class that will necessarily blow you away and feels slightly unfocused at times, but in contrast to previous hybrid classes, it feels more like a cohesive entity, rather than just components smashed together. The distribution of abilities is nice, though the formatting and ccp-hiccups are jarring and detract from the pdf. That being said, I can see this appeal to someone who looks for the concept of a planar traveler/anti-outsider caster and it represents somewhat of a turning point for Wayward Rogues-classes. It gets better. The unresolved question of spellcasting as a basic mechanic does shoot down a core feature of the class, though, which is the main reason I cannot round up from my final verdict of 2.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Dimensional Wayfarer
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Displaying 46 to 60 (of 2783 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates