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Heroes of the Waves (A Polynesian Sourcebook)
Publisher: Little Red Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2017 13:07:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 41.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, what is this? In one sentence, it is basically a toolkit to play a fantasy campaign based on Polynesian culture. This in itself already adds some value to the book for me. Beyond Tolkienesque fantasy and mostly Japanese-inspired Anime or Chinese WuXia, it is pretty jarring that we don't make half as much use of those fantastic cultures and mythologies our diverse species has spawned in our games.

We begin with a two page introduction (though parts of the second page are blank space and then beginw ith basically a cultural primer: We learn about "Mana", which constitutes as a term the equivalent of Gottesgnadentum, the divinely-ordained right to rule; "Tapu" would be the origin of the word "taboo", while "hara" denotes errors in the eyes of gods. "Pono" is the term for atonement for transgressions. Similarly, there was a profession-based, loose caste-system that is explained here; while not as rigid as that of the Indian culture which we nowadays mostly associate with it. Something I wasn't aware of: Kahuna can mean different things - when added to a word like a profession, it can denote expertise in that field, while its second use is basically somewhat akin to "priest". If that sounds confusing, you can use the Maori term "Tohunga" instead.

Now, a specific cultural circle will result, ultimately in a changed array of assumptions and the pdf guides you through these. First would be the absence of metal; there were no land mammals, which obviously meant no farming and significantly different domesticated animals. Similarly, there would not be one culture, but rather an extensive pluralism. All magic is considered to be divine and the vast amount of islands mean that each can easily serve as a self-contained module - and the closed ecosystems there are fragile, which allows for an interesting angle, should you choose to pursue it. Armor was, considering temperatures and the omni-presence of the sea, pretty much non-existent and impractical and as such, the pdf provides a nice AC bonus by level, which is dubbed mana - three such progressions are provided, beginning at +6, +4 and +2, respectively, and scaling up to +34, +30 and +25 at 20th level. The adaption of this system to other classes is dead simple: You look at armor proficiency and then, depending on the default proficiency, you determine the scaling AC. It is pretty obvious that characters sans armor proficiency don't get Mana at all, but from a didactic point of view, it would have made sense to explicitly spell that out.

In the absence of horses etc., Ride (Dex) is replaced with Seafaring (Wis). This new skill is used to handle ocean travel, faster travel, etc. - and similarly, the skill may be used to prevent capsizing when fighting e.g. in a canoe; and yes, Acrobatics may be used for that one as well. Judging depth and determining underwater obstacles, fishing etc. - the skill is concisely presented.

Okay, the basics out of the way, we look next towards the respective classes: Paizo-classes (excluding the ACG, OA, etc.-classes) and LRGG-classes are discussed and categorized in 4 groups: Classes that require no work to fit a Polynesian setting, ones that require some work to make them fit, those that need some serious explanation and those that are simply inappropriate - they'd require mechanical tweaks as opposed to thematic modification. Similarly, races are appropriately codified: With some tweaks, the genasi-style elemental races make sense in a Polynesian context. Similarly, gnomes are thematically appropriate, but the classic Tolkien-races are not. Merfolk and Gillmen fit the bill as well and LRGG-races are discussed similarly.

Speaking of races: The samebito would be an aquatic humanoid with slow speed (never modified by armor or encumbrance) and they gain +2 Str and Cha, -2 Wis, gain a swim speed of 49 ft., are amphibious. They gain fast healing when completely submerged in water, up to a maximum of 2 x character level per day. They also have a 1d3 primary natural bite attack. As a whole, they are appropriate for every game and should not unbalance even gritty games. Well done. The menehune gnome subrace, replace gnome weapon training with an untyped +4 to Swim and Seafaring. (Personally, I would have preferred racial bonuses here.) They also replace the hatred trait with double carrying capacity.

The Nawao (Wild Men), weirdly, come with RP-values when the other races did not, but that's a cosmetic inconsistency. Similarly, the racial modifications of ability scores (+2 Con and Wis, -2 Int) are not properly formatted, but otherwise functional. They are monstrous humanoids, gain +2 to Intimidate, +4 to Stealth and +2 to Survival (all proper racial bonuses) and have darkvision. They also gain +1 to damage rolls with simple weapons and may 1/day fly into a frenzy upon taking damage, gaining +2 Str and Con, -2 to AC for 1 minute. The bonuses to Stealth and Survival may be replaced with Stealth and Knowledge (local).

The gaunt, blue-skinned and red-haired Turehu follow the same formatting-choices and gain +2 Cha and Dex, -2 Wis and always treat Perform (wind instrument) as a class skill. They have a 20 ft climb speed and gain +2 to saving throws. Nice: They are afraid of fire and take a penalty when near one. They also gain this penalty when eating "cook food" - an "-ed" is missing here, but I like the flavor here. They may also cast bane and bless at will, with Cha governing the save-DC. Problem: The ability is not properly codified as SP or SU; the presence of a codified caster level (equal to character level) does retain functionality, though. All in all, apart from cosmetic hiccups, a well-crafted racial chapter.

The pdf also features 2 base classes, the first of which would be the Kahuna. The class receives d6 HD, 8+ Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and prepared divine spellcasting governed by Wis of up to 9th level.To prepare spells, the kahuna creates a makeshift prayer hut (or uses an existing one) to communicate with the spirits. Now, kahuna begin play with an interesting ability - they may cast forbid action (reprinted here for your convenience) as a swift action a number of times per day equal to 3 + class level + Wis-mod. A creature may, however, ignore the tapu pronounced by the kahuna, even on a failed save - this, however, results in a penalty that scales over the levels to ALL d20 rolls as well as auto-failure of critical hit confirmation rolls. This allows the kahuna to deal with crit-fishing characters, which is pretty neat. At 5th level, the kahuna may instead employ greater forbid action for 2 uses. 10th level adds a confusion-effect to the breaking of a tapu. AT 15th level, all enemies within 10 ft. per class level can be affected by a tapu, though this use of the ability costs 4 daily uses.

3rd level and every 5 levels thereafter, the kahuna chooses a Craft, Profession or otherwise skill-represented talent of vital importance to the community, gaining the skill unlock powers for the chosen skill, with skill ranks still being required to determine the effects. The capstone makes the kahuna count as having at least 1/2 class level ranks in every skill. Nice: If you're not plaiyng with skill unlocks, alternate benefits are provided. The class also comes with its own spell-list and favored class options for the races featured here + Oread and Undine as well as LRGG's Lun'la.

The second class may be familiar to those of you who have LRGG's Alternate Path: Martial-pdf. The Tataued Warrior gets d10, 2 +Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields and prepared divine spellcasting guided by Cha, drawn from the ranger's list with certain modifications. These spells are unlocked at 4th level, analogue to the ranger. At 5th level, spellcasting is modified via the option to blood cast: As a swift action, the tataued warrior may cause spell level nonlethal damage to himself to change a prepared spell to another spell he knows. Minor complaint: Does this require concentration-checks/count as receiving damage for the purpose of concentration? I assume so, but I am not sure.

One of the coolest aspects here would be that following battle protocol is written into the class with ritual weapon: Upon commencing battle, a swift action sign of respect nets first a defensive bonus, with 6th level unlocking the option to use Cha-mod instead of Str for damage rolls and 10th adding both attributes to damage with the ritual weapon. I am not the biggest fan of dual attributes to anything, but as a whole, the execution here is solid. I mentioned the ritual weapon: This is a ritualistic object that may be empowered to act as a +1 weapon, with the state of empowerment lasting class level + Con-mod round. 4th level unlocks a variant form and allows for the changing of said forms via a ceremony, with every 4 levels thereafter increasing the potency of the weapon. That being said, the flexibility regarding enchantments and their scaling benefits is offset by a fatigue cool-down after use, similar to barbarian-rages. The scaling here is pretty conservative, just fyi, so even low-powered groups should be able to use this one. For high-powered groups; I'd suggest improving the enhancement-bonus granting-progression of the ritual weapon.

The second defining class feature beyond that, though, would be tataus, gained at 1st level and every even level thereafter, codified by level - and being awesome. New tataus are unlocked at 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th level and their benefits cover a wide range: Beyond the usual suspects like skill bonuses and bonus feats, there also are some unique benefits: Being able to use Stunning Fist in conjunction with the ritual weapon constitutes, for example, one such benefit. Starting with the options unlocked at 3rd level, the tataus gained also feature a drawback that often make for great roleplaying catalysts - the tatau of the goat, for example, requires that you frequently add a goat sound to the end of your sentences. Another tatau may make octopi consider you an attractive food source and draw them to you. What about gaining proficiency with all martial weapons and 3 exotic ones and being able to treat all manufactured weapons as ritual weapons? Yeah, that allows for the true master of arms playstyle...but it also makes all non-simple weapons wielded fragile... These drawbacks add a nice roleplaying component to the class and provide justifications for the spirit-suffused and superstitious cultural context. Really cool!

6th level unlocks the battle chant, which translates to +1 attack at the highest BAB as part of full-round actions and +2 to Intimidate checks, with a duration of Con-mod rounds and a swift action activation. 10th level and every 4 levels thereafter provides +1 daily use. The capstone of the class allows you to choose from up to 5 super-tataus that include a free true ressurection the first time you die each day and SR, or auto-confirming crits, for example. Pretty cool! The class comes with favored class options for the respective races featured herein, plus ifrit and merfolk.

Now, the next component of the pdf is particularly suitable for less high fantasy games and would pertain the condition introduced herein: Broken Bones, which can render the target shaken and produce penalties. As a minor formatting hiccup, two spell references are not properly italicized here. The pdf also provides a total of 6 new feats, three of which represent a new style, Kapu Kuialua, the art of bone breaking - the base feat allows you to break bones with each damage-causing attack; the follow-up extends that to weapon critical hits and the third, to grapple checks. Adding broken bones via stunning fist use expenditure to trips is also included. The final feat nets you the option to ceremoniously sacrifice a spell slot to increase your Mana-AC-bonus. There is also a "barbarian talent" (should be "rage power") and a bone-breaking antipaladin cruelty. A total of 7 mundane weapons (including two-handed martial finesse weapons) can be found as well.

The pdf sports 4 magic items: two types of tooth to call forth sharks, a hook that generates islands (in 3 levels of potency) and an enchanted surfboard. All have in common, that their spell-references are improperly formatted and lack italicization, though they otherwise are pretty cool. We conclude this pdf with 6 Hawaiian and 6 Maori deity-write-ups. These remain pretty basic, with one paragraph per deity, and unfortunately sport discrepancies in the domain selection: Kane, for example, sports 7 domains, while Ku only has 5. If that was intended to balance domains of different potency, I couldn't really make out the reasons for the choices made.

Conclusion:

Editing is pretty good on both a formal and rules-language level, but formatting is less consistent: From the presentation of races to the missing italicizations, there are a couple of avoidable glitches here. Layout adheres, apart from the 1-column intro, to a 2-column full-color standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The full color artworks are solid. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with detailed, nested bookmarks.

From the cultural notes to the concepts herein, there is a lot to love about this book. The Seafaring skill, bone breaking mechanic and class array generally are nice, with the tataued warrior being a rather cool character and the kahuna representing a powerful option indeed that has some cool crowd-control tricks. More importantly, this represents a great first step towards making your own Polynesian inspired campaign (come on, folks - write that campaign setting) - or to simply add material to a certain ethnicity that's pretty prominent in the Razor Coast. So yes, this is a good book and a fun offering I enjoyed reading.

At the same time, it could have been a tad bit more refined - the glitches that are herein make it unfortunately impossible for me to rate this as highly as I, as a person, would like to. Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Ian Sisson and Christos Gurd have, however, crafted a toolkit I can recommend for anyone looking for a great first step into Polynesian culture - even if you're just looking for ideas to scavenge, this has something to offer. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I cannot round up. I do encourage you to pick this up -we need to send a sign that non-WuXia, non-Tolkienesque fantasy does exist and does have fans and people that want something different.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Waves (A Polynesian Sourcebook)
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Cultures of Celmae: Majeed
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/25/2017 13:01:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Cultures of Celmae-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, one of the aspects in my home-game that came from my deep love for the Sword & Sorcery-genre, it would be unique ability-score arrays and racial traits for different ethnicities - thus, I am pretty happy to see this pdf add mechanical relevance to a culture. The culture depicted herein would be the Majeed, who are humans that receive a +1 bonus to Will-saves. Now there is more to a culture, obviously - the Majeed, dusky-skinned, are the dominant seafaring nation of the world of Celmae and in an interesting twist, their social structure is actually fiercely matriarchal, flipping the despicable sexism to which women were subjected to in earlier ages on the head: Men are considered to be little more than breeding stock and fodder for the army, potentially also due to the emphasis of the worship of the sea goddess Amaura.

The culture of these beings, inextricably linked to the waves and water, in public baths and a fantastic iteration of the fables colossus of Rhodes generate a nice mythical resonance - even though the colossus' destructive ray could have warranted mechanical representation. The ongoing war with sahuagin and the hunters set to assault them further adds a nice tidbit of the local culture for these guys.

The pdf also sports 8 race traits for the Majeed, though none of them have been properly subtyped. It should also be noted that the bonus type array for the traits is inconsistent - there are some traits that properly use the trait bonus, while others remain untyped. Minor thing, sure, but an avoidable flaw. The traits generally are nice and include 1/day immediate action debuffs to accompany spellcasting, skill bonuses, and the like. Unfortunately-named: Sea Legs. there is already a feat with that name and the trait nets you not one, but two skills as class skills, which may be a bit much - the usual formula is a minor bonus and one class skill. As a whole, though, this section is pretty solid.

From the culture of the Majeed, we dive into the kingdom of Majera and receive a nice, quick summary of the history of the place - interesting btw. - the wealth of the empire has made being poor basically an affront to Amaura - which has its own massive array of potentially intriguing angles. The capital city of Harodai receives its own settlement statblock and we close with a deity write-up of Amaura - a generally nice write-up, though two favored weapons and 7 domains both exceed the standards established for deities, with the dual favored weapon opening up some issues regarding favored weapon proficiencies: Do worshipers get one? Both? The engine assumes one and this can put a bit of sand in the gears. These are ultimately minor hiccups, but they do drag this a bit down.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not yet good, but better than in older books by Wayward Rogues Publishing - there are a couple of rules-language and formal hiccups here. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice, original full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but they aren't necessarily required at this length.

Robert Gresham and Cody Martin provide a glimpse at the Majeed that constitutes a solid first look at a culture. It is very basic and there's not that much meat herein. The prose is solid for the most part, but the general flow of the text could be slightly smoother. The pdf is, if you're looking for such a mostly fluffy offering, worth a look, but falls slightly short of the potential the Majeed have - there could be slightly more information on colossus, on the customs, nomenclature, etc. - we only get a glimpse. The pdf has potential and offers a glimpse, but only a glimpse.

I certainly hope to learn more about this culture in the future, for the big bane of this pdf is that it simply has even less meat than the already minimal content featured in the Brynnyn-installment. What's here is per se solid, if not particularly grand prose...but at this length and with mostly fluff, it is the prose that needed to excel - and it's solid, sure...but not to the point where I'd consider this to be mega-compelling. However, at the same time, this is Pay What you Want as per the writing of this review and thus, allows you to determine yourself whether you consider this worthwhile or not. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to this being PWYW.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cultures of Celmae: Majeed
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Everyman Options: Paranormal Classes
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:53:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion for the new base-classes introduced in Paranormal Adventures clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review is based on the revised version of the pdf.

We begin, as always in Everyman Gaming publications, with an introduction, ToC and a kind of mission statement, if you will - but beyond that, we begin directly with one of the most requested aspects for the shapeshifter class: MORE kingdoms. These, however, also come with new base shape abilities, so what do they offer? Well, for one, marine creatures are primarily air-breathers, but spend a lot of time in the water and thus gain Hold Breath, which also exists on its own. Being able to squeeze through narrow confines similarly is possible. Very interesting: Being Faceless is just as possible as gaining a shell, the later enhancing defensive fighting or total defense by the respectively noted bonus to AC. The respective kingdoms introduced follow the established formula. To recap: We get base shape, shape sizes, speed and the respective abilities granted by the kingdom, which are unlocked at 2nd, 8th and 15th level, respectively. The governing attributes of the respective kingdom are provided for one's convenience in brackets after the name. Simple and elegant in presentation.

Now it is the selection of shapeshifter kingdoms that proves to be the intriguing aspect: Aardvarks can, for example, not only run pretty fast, they can actually smell through rock, dirt, etc. and at higher levels, they excel at fighting prone and kipping up from a prone position...and at 15th level, they may even rend while prone. This may sound goofy at first glance, but this actually allows for an interesting fighting style. Anteaters gain a repositioning tongue that can pull targets closer (alas, sans synergy for the purpose of standard reposition maneuvers) - there is one issue here, though - I think that the tongue probably should have a reach. It can be intended as default reach, which is why I won't hold that against the pdf, but from the context and multiple repositioning (and flair)-perspective, I think that reach was perhaps intended. (And it would be cool...but perhaps, I watched too many pink panther cartoons as a child...) I digress. Armadillos, surprisingly, are all about defense, while bats begin with unassisted personal flight -as always, my usual "DMs should take heed of low-level flight"-caveat applies, but overall balance-wise, I am pretty okay with it. I really like the bivalve kingdom that can fluidly clamp the shell shut and burrow at higher levels. The Bovine kingdom plays on the sexual dimorphism of the species and grants different options for the sexes as well as trample capability. And as someone who has once evaded a charging wild boar, let me tell you, these are NOT to be trifled with.

A wide smile graced my face, when I noticed that camels can dirty trick-spit foes as well as move through difficult terrain - the combo makes for a relatively nice skirmishing action here. Centipedes gain poison, grab and constrict and those seeking to emulate our sleeping overlords in the sunken cities are in luck: The cephalopod kingdom's part of the deal as well. And yes, at 15th level, you'll have up to 8 tentacle attacks. OUCH. Cetaceans can bull rush in a unique way, while crustaceans at high level are expert grapplers, though both kingdoms are more conservative in design. Deer make nice skirmishers and are highly mobile, while echidna gain defensive spines and, once again, a tongue. Elephants could potentially be problematic, depending on the game - their shape size is Huge. Enchinoderms get pull and staggering spines and yes, friends of horses etc. - the equine kingdom's part of the deal! Gastropods and Marsupials are similarly covered...in the latter case, I am sorely tempted of making a monk who uses his trampling as well as a tail attack. (Kudos if you got that reference!) Mongoose are ferocious and are resilient to poison, while monkeys excel at skills, dirty tricks, etc. Raccoons follow a similar base-line, while the rhinoceros kingdom is suitably unsubtle. Scorpions similarly are unlocked, as are sirenias, sloths and skunks. And yes, sloths can gain a neat burst of speed, while skunks get their signature sickening spray (later nauseated). Turtles and Weasels complement the impressive array of new options here.

Unless I have miscounted, you may also choose from no less than 25 (!!) subkingdoms that should make our friends Down Under happy - koala and kangaroo are part of the deal, just so you know...and so are Gophers, who can carry significant loads in their cheeks and retrieve them via swift actions! That is SO AMAZING. I mean, come on, don't tell me you never wanted to make a badass hamster-hero? Hilarious RP-potential, btw.: While carrying stuff in your cheeks, you're difficult to understand. Add some M&Ms, grapes or similar goodies, stuff them in while playing, et voilà - hilarity. Two thumbs up! Legless humanoids, megabats...and there is a blanaced version of multi-armed humanoid options here...same goes for multiple heads. Whether you want to go rabbit or starfish...or even, yes, sheep - the subkingdoms are intriguing and often are associated with different attributes than the regular kingdoms.

Now the vessel class was a surprise to me back in the day - I frankly believed I had that role covered, but it did bring an interesting engine to the table that made me slowly come around to liking it. The class also receives an assortment of various new passengers to choose from. These follow the established formula. To recap: Each has an alignment, associated domains (3), a damage reduction, a flavorful manifestation of grace as well as a linear sequence of grace boons, which are gained/enhanced at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. Concept-wise, these passengers provide a diverse array - we begin with the animate dream, who receives the defensive capabilities you'd expect (better saves vs. emotion, fear, etc. effects) and SR, but also receives tiring strikes, higher-level intangibility and suggestion implanting. It should be noted that said dream, like nightshade or oni, do not receive bracketed subtypes, though e.g. asura and manasaputra do receive these. The former btw. do receive nondetection as well as high-level resistance towards divine magic., while the latter provides Cha-based monk-like defenses. At higher levels, these guys can fire rays of cosmic fire, which inflict both fire damage and positive energy damage - and in contrast to another instance of 3pp-use of positive energy damage, it does not harm creatures usually not harmed by it, which makes it more in line with established depictions of the damage type, so I'm good with it.

Nightshade vessels are the nightmares of evil clerics, being healed by negative energy as well as by positive energy in an interesting variation of the usual type of depictions of such abilities. Channeling energy and summon forth undead similarly are in line with the expected tricks. Oni passengers convey better revitalizing, grace-powered immediate action death knell and such nasty combos. Qlippoth-bound vessels gain tentacles and may capitalize on the aberrant anatomy of their passengers, inflict horrid fungal infections and receive a nasty gaze at 9th level. More subtle and deceptive would be the spells added, courtesy of the rakshasa passenger, as well as the shape changing and spell-poaching, later more flexible when used in conjunction with grace expenditure. The sakhil are slightly less interesting, with a focus on fear and emotion and a grace-powered frightful presence that can be combined with other actions.

The vessel also gets to choose two different archetypes - the possessed vessel is treated as the passenger's type and is susceptible to possession, but may also expend grace to eject passengers. Nice tweak of the base engine. The Psychic Vessel gains psychic spellcasting drawn from the psychic's spell-list of up to 6th level and replaces 2nd level's omen with a small phrenic pool and a phrenic amplification. A total of 4 new omens can be found: Breath of Grace is basically a grace-powered variant of breath of life; Omen of Sorcery nets one or two sorc-spells; quick weal-woe visions and divination with really cool associated imagery of speaking in tongues complement this assortment.

Now perhaps the most radical of flavor-paradigm-innovations herein would be vessel usurpers. Vessels usually are outsiders; usurpers behave very much like passengers, but grant insight bonuses instead of sacred/profane bonuses and generally tend to not be too nice - whether it's the fey, ghost or yithian, I don't applaud the respective usurpers for their designs per se - they behave very much like passengers. I do love, however, that e.g. the Yithian allows me to go full-blown Loath Nolder (kudos if you know those games; more kudos if you've completed them!) - their design is certainly nice! However, at the same time, I found myself wishing that they had a more pronounced behavioral change mechanic to complement their flavor...or a more different feel. That being said, I very much consider the concept to be rife with potential!

Beyond the new class options for the original paranormal classes, we also receive an assortment of archetypes that unlocks options for existing ones: The Devourer alchemist, for example, replaces mutagen (and cognatogen, if applicable) with the option to consume parts of a creature vanquished, allowing them to scavenge abilities associated with the kingdoms and subkingdoms of the shapeshifter. As such, it should come as no surprise that the archetype receives a more melee-centric replacement for throw anything, as well as the option to receive instincts instead of discoveries. The kingdom abilities of the creature consumed are unlocked at 4th level, with higher-level kingdom abilities being unlocked later, thus consuming 3 discoveries the class would usually receive. 14th level increases the duration of the shapeshifting, thus replacing persistent mutagen.

NICE one: The pdf takes the concept of animal companion archetypes and introduces the fey-touched archetype for such companions: Instead of Str/Dex-bonus with becoming intelligent and a fey creature; 3rd level replaces evasion with fey-associated resistances and DR/cold iron and 9th level provides Eldritch Claws instead of Multiattack, with 15th level providing short-range teleport. I REALLY like this one; it trades raw power for versatility and it even provides concise synergy with previously established hunter levels. Kudos!! The Linewalker arcanist is, as the title implies, a specialist of detecting ley lines - instead of consuming spells, the arcane reservois of this archetype may be replenished via tapping into ley lines, which not only is flavorful, it also puts some control in the hands of the GM, a design decision I do applaud. However, before the power-gamers start pulling out the pitchforks, I should mention that these guys can seriously enhance spell save DCs and, at high levels, make better use of places of power. I'm not the biggest fan of the class, but I found myself contemplating this archetype quite a bit - kudos!

Now, the original Paranormal Adventures is basically an unabashed love-letter to the Supernatural TV-series and the bloodrager leviathan spawn, locked into the aberrant bloodline, would be a continuation of the themes established - with environmental and even planar adaption and high-level fast healing while raging, the archetype manages to convey well (and in a balanced form) the power of the leviathan. Similarly, the sorcerors may now choose the levialogos mutated bloodline that enhances your disguises and nets you nasty tentacles.

A new bardic masterpiece that first exhausts targets, then sends them asleep. As a minor complaint - the page-reference of the Blessed Conduit cleric archetype is incorrect for the book (the page it should reference is 23, where the spell is found - not 13), though these Magic domain-using clerics would otherwise be a neat take on the ley line using cleric. The Occultist receives the essence guide archetype, who gets an alternate array of spells, sense undead, expend mental focus to generate an aura that impedes undead, generate anti-undead circles - basically a ghost-hunter. Solid, if not mind-boggling.

Unchained Monks may use new ki powers to gain ghost touch, remove fear and similar emotion effects and even separate from the body to project his spirit - the latter in particular is nice, The pdf also provides a wide array of ranger traps (YEAH!) that include ghost salt traps, net launchers, etc. Rogues may elect to receive Psychic Sensitivity and a total of 7 new shapeshifter insticts can be found - these include becoming more lethal when faced with multiple enemies (you know, cornered beast and all...) as well as the ability to smell poison, which is pretty amazing.

Vigilantes also are covered, beginning with the cryptid, whose vigilante identity basically takes use of shapechanger mechanics - think of that as pretty much every werewolf-superhero or e.g. the archetype for fans of "The Wolf Among US" (the adaption of the Fables-comics). The invoker, unsurprisingly, would then be basically a vigilante/vessel-crossover, replacing, akin to the shapeshifter-crossover, vigilante specialization, having the passenger take care of the transformation. Basically, you could go Captain Marvel with that one, with grace accepting etc. - Shazam! (And nope, transformation is NOT subtle...but pretty fast!)

The final archetype is pretty complex and creepy as all hell - the poppet witch, who replaces patron spells with her own array: The witch receives an animated toy as a creepy construct familiar that has a soul focus that can be used to replace bodies...think of that a bit like Chucky, your new familiar. Oh, and the hexes further enhance this theme, allowing you to gain eitehr Improved Familiar...or an animal companion's power! Yes, your creepy killer-doll can actually...be a good creepy killer doll and you won't be penalized thanks to aforementioned soul mechanic, for sending it into the fray. Marionette-like domination, transforming targets into doll-effigies. This archetype is supremely creepy, mechanically complex and pretty much represents the designer at his best. LOVE it.

We conclude this pdf with a total of 9 feats: Cursing stares for mesmerists is neat; similarly, using channel energy to generate a mobile barrier versus fey, better defenses versus emotion effects, sharing a square with same-sized eidolon/phantom...some cool tricks there, though sharing a square and counting as flanking can be seriously nasty. Gaining a stun-inducing defense versus telepathic contact or divination and ghost touch shots for gunslingers are cool. Finally, the pdf introduces the new Sphinx Style, which provides benefits versus foes that you have identified - including potential negation of energy resistances or hardness, based on feats of the style. I usually am NOT a fan of such metagame-y tricks...but here, the implementation is damn cool.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while very good, aren't perfect - there are a couple of minor hiccups, though they do not impede the functionality of the rules- Rules-language, as pretty much always in Alexander Augunas' books, is precise and to the point. The pdf's artworks are in full-color and Jacob Blackmon's signature style. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though individual kingdoms and passengers have not been bookmarked, which may require a bit of page-flipping.

Alexander Augunas and Matt Morris deliver a cool expansion for the Paranormal Adventures classes; the material herein unlocks several of the neat tricks for other classes and features some true gems - the poppet witch, for example, is amazing and the yithian usurper similarly is cool. Plus: HAMSTER-cheek-action! I mean, come on, how cool is that? That being said, not each and every component herein is that inspired. A couple of the options feel, at least to me, like they could have carried a bit more. That being said, this is simply me being horribly spoiled by Everyman Gaming and similar high-caliber designers/publishers - this is pretty much a must-own expansion for the cool Paranormal Classes - and as such, this receives a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Options: Paranormal Classes
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Obscene Serpent Religion
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:47:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, the trope of the serpent cult is probably one of the oldest and most tired ones out there; throughout the pulp genre, horror, etc., serpents and snakes are one of the creepy go-to-critters for evil cults, rivaled only by spiders and bats. At one point, I was surprised to come to the realization that "Is evil, worships snakes"...well, does not really make for a good rationale if you take a closer look.

This is where this book comes in - it depicts everything you need to add some depth to your serpent cult...or constitutes a perfect one-stop-shop package to get a properly detailed serpent cult for your game. That being said, the emphasis here is on EVIL serpent cult. Capital letters. This is not a pdf for kids or the faint of heart: If the cover was not ample cue for you, the very layout and aesthetics of this pdf borrow heavily from black metal aesthetics. This means in particular that, if nightmarish artworks of long-haired dudes, mutilated corpses and ample gore, full-frontal nudity of males and females and drawn depictions of human sacrifice make you uncomfortable...well, then this is not for you. This is very much adult content. I mean, come on, what did you expect? It has "Obscene" literally in the title. If, however, you have a hearty collection of black/death metal cds, you'll have seen MUCH worse in the artworks and probably appreciate the fact that each artwork mirrors to some extent a style favored in cover and interior artworks of darker metal subgenres. Personally, I can appreciate that...but then again, I have a twisted, dark sense of aesthetics. Speaking of which - the fact that the abbreviation for this book is "OSR" and the black metal font of the author's name on the cover just add to that very thoroughly constructed overall impression.

All right, still here? Great! The cult depicted herein would be the Circle of Constriction (CoC...get it?) and we begin with the 6 (of course!) commandments of the circle, all of which you could easily poach. Beyond details on worshipping serpents, revering art and uttering sibilant holy tongue twisters (several provided!), these generally make sense from a dark and twisted way: "The Goddess is mother and murderess, holy above all others. The Goddess slithers through endless rain in a paradise of wounded birds and slow rabbits, her realm populated by children stillborn by umbilical strangulation..." Yeah, told you I was not kidding when I said "dark."

6 sample identities of the Goddess are btw. provided, though you can easily mix and match - from Cihuacoatl to Ningishizda and Renet, the entries themselves are similarly well-written. The faith must go further than commandments, obviously - thus, 6 tenets of the faith are provided, the first of which would be the self-injection of sweet nectar, a draught created from the willingly granted blood of sentient serpents that can provide a variety of benefits, depending on snake type: Adders extend threat range to 18+; Mamba can deliver 2/day poison bites, while Diamondback injection enhances saves.

Obviously, ophiophages need to be killed and a proper devotee must walk the gallery in the halls of undulation. Oh, and serve Saint Siavaca, perhaps the most nightmarish of beings herein: She had her arms and legs surgically removed and now moves by means of a serpentine harness of steel; she also had her jaws broken and reset, with metal fangs inserted. She subsists on a diet of heretics and infidels and new members must guard her while her hair is shorn or while she feeds. And yes, one artwork depicts her in her horrific glory, directly under a gutted corpse of an unfortunate victim...

The completion of the quests of the hexagram may hold ritualistic importance for the cult or raise one's standing within it, provided deep cover (or a very twisted campaign) is what you're going for: These include the theft of organs, lethally forcing a serpent into the body of a heretic in a public place (and getting away alive...), plunging someone into the darkest depths of despair, preventing the birth of children destined for greatness/goodness...yeah...have I mentioned that this is a toolkit to make a really EVIL serpent cult? Beyond these quests, the pdf also sports a brief 2d6-based mission generator: Roll 1d6 for the first part, 1d6 for the second, there you go.

A total of 6 sites of religious importance for the cult, from a snake-men village to the lair of the fabled True Hydra and the Glade of the First Kill, the places evoke a sufficiently dread sense of foreboding. But why follow the Goddess? Well, a total of 6 powers can be found here: The first lets you animate organs of corpses, which act as ambulatory spies (told you: Gory!), gaining scales...or a hiss that prevents any lies. Questions answered with it must be answered truthfully...if you're a mammal. Transmitting brief messages via a quasi-telepathy and decapitating victims, looking into their eyes and discerning some truth from that. Yup.

With 4d20, you can generate name, surname, epithet and situation of serpent cultists on the fly. Another sequence of 3d6 lets you generate encounters on the fly. The pdf also provides the benefits of imbibing sable nectar, sweet nectar mixed with the blood of a half-serpent being (like a medusa etc.) - this draught can have unpleasant side-effects, but may provide a total of up to 10 different bonuses, each of which lasts 1d6 hours.

Where there is orthodoxy, there must also thrive heresy; even in an admittedly twisted serpent cult. In this case, that would be the existence of Scarlet Nectar - it is sweet nectar mixed withs erpent blood, lasts 1d8 hours and has a benefit depending on the snake used: Pit viper blood nets you the ability to detect body heat up to 100' away, while mangroves render you invisible while in a tree.

Finally, the pdf does contain a new creature, the skin vessel: Skins of powerful persons who are filled up with serpents alongside thin tubes, animating the horrific conglomerate. More alien, these things, usually little more intelligent than zombies, sometimes gain sentience...and have a habit of believing people to not be real...though they'll happily talk to your skeleton or organs...which need liberation in the eyes of many of these grotesqueries.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, though the rules-language, in spite of being intended for LotFP and similar retro-clones, could be a bit more precise. The 2-column-layout is peculiar: Following the Black Metal booklet aesthetics, the presentation of the text leaves quite some space at the top and bottom of the page, so yeah, not the printer-friendliest file to print out. The cover is provided as a separate .png. The b/w-artworks are pretty impressive if you have a penchant for dark and disturbing imagery, even more so if you have a decent black/death metal collection - each artwork quotes a certain CD in motif, aesthetics or composition. So yes, this very much is a kind of concept-pdf. The electronic version comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. I don't own the PoD-version of this one, so I can't comment on it.

Rafael Chandler's "Obscene Serpent Religion" is very much a well-written excursion into a nightmarish serpent cult. Next time your jaded players yawn at a priest of Seth, are bored by yuan-ti, snake-men, what have you...or even contemplate that these guys aren't so bad...this is your toolkit. From the villainous quests to the disturbing practices, this makes snake-cults EVIL again. Not "slightly edgy and misunderstood", frickin' depraved and EVIL. Capital letters.

Oh, and there is another thing:

This is "Pay what you want".

If you end up being offended, you can simply delete it, but if you've read this far, you'll probably have figured out by now whether or not this could be for you and your group. It should btw. also be noted that the lulu-PoD is REALLY cheap - it is an at-cost offering that nets 0 profit. Personally, I wholeheartedly believe that this worth a tip. It may not be for everyone, but if you're not faint of heart, like the visuals and want to make a serpent cult appropriate for really dark fantasy or horror...well, there you go, this does a fantastic job at the task at hand. Just keep it out of kid hands and if you're easily offended or disturbed, do yourself a favor and skip it.

With this toolkit, you'll be good to go. Now if this was a commercial venture in the traditional sense, I'd probably go for something in the 4.5/4-star-range (with the caveat to beware due to the explicit nature), but considering that this is Pay What You Want, I absolutely will round up and give this a small bonus. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Obscene Serpent Religion
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Village Backdrop: Y'taris (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:45:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Y'taris is a village born of convenience: In the bleak and desolate harshness of the Broken mountains, there is a stone circle crafted as a silent witness to the confluence of ley lines here; a nexus of power that brings pilgrims galore to these desolate shores. Here, angles have fought, fey have roamed, apocalyptic cults have tried to enact their genocidal fantasies...and right now, another type of ill has befallen the place, namely that of being basically the fantasy-equivalent of a cut-throat tourist trap.

One Ayred Guilespire is in charge of nearly all stalls in the Grey Market, a boil-covered disgusting gnome runs the taverns and a dwarven lady coordinates the pickpockets. That would be the rulers here. Yeah, this is not a nice place. While the settlement is, quality-wise, magically attuned, the marketplace section this time around is pretty standard considering the highly magical flavor of the place.

I mentioned that this was not a nice place, right? well, there's a lich nearby. Who supposedly gets a stream of fresh corpses from the village. Yeah...Anyways, the village does come with the by now traditional nomenclature entries, notes on local dressing habits and appearances and, as always, 6 rumors and 6 events are neat and the latter even sport a unique little hazard. It should also be noted that the place's taverns etc. come with notes on costs of drinks - and one, interestingly, even has a brawling fine. A missed chance: If you go to the wrong place, you may end up with a room with secret doors and staff stealing belongings...but no DCs to notice or general capabilities for the staff are provided.

Being a remote place, it is magic that makes the village work - once again providing a nice angle to develop as a GM. Oh, and much like real life tourist traps, there is an arcane system of fines in place, guaranteed to infuriate the PCs.

Beyond the obvious power of the confluence, there is also an even more powerful, less known place of dark might here and they say that you can even purchase corpses and similar necromancy supplies here...if you know where to look.

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Y'taris is an amazing idea -I really like the magical tourism angle and the execution per se is nice. However, at the same time, it fell short for me. There is ample adventuring potential, but if the place is such a powerful destination, why does no one clean it up? Where are the remnants of ages long past, the unique local effects? We have ample of ways to represent cool magical locales in PFRPG and this one...boils down to a VERY lame CL-bonus and a tiny chance of not using a spell slot while casting inside the circle. That's really, really lame and the effect of the "hidden", lesser-known power-nexus is also...kinda bland. Considering the vast potential and flavor of this place, I can't really see anyone traveling here for the meager benefits the sights provide. 5e's engine would have been perfect for some cool tweaks here...but alas, nope. Let me make that clear - this does have its benefits; it's not a bad installment by any means...but it feels, to me, like it falls short of what it could have easily been. I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars - it doesn't deserve being slapped down to 3, though, which is why I'll round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Y'taris (5e)
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Village Backdrop: Y'taris System Neutral Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:41:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Y'taris is a village born of convenience: In the bleak and desolate harshness of the Broken mountains, there is a stone circle crafted as a silent witness to the confluence of ley lines here; a nexus of power that brings pilgrims galore to these desolate shores. Here, angles have fought, fey have roamed, apocalyptic cults have tried to enact their genocidal fantasies...and right now, another type of ill has befallen the place, namely that of being basically the fantasy-equivalent of a cut-throat tourist trap.

One Ayred Guilespire is in charge of nearly all stalls in the Grey Market, a boil-covered disgusting gnome runs the taverns and a dwarven lady coordinates the pickpockets. That would be the rulers here. Yeah, this is not a nice place.

I mentioned that this was not a nice place, right? well, there's a lich nearby. Who supposedly gets a stream of fresh corpses from the village. Yeah...Anyways, the village does come with the by now traditional nomenclature entries, notes on local dressing habits and appearances and, as always, 6 rumors and 6 events are neat and the latter even sport a unique little hazard - in the system-neutral version, the fire damage here does not allow for a save, mind you. It should also be noted that the place's taverns etc. come with notes on costs of drinks - and one, interestingly, even has a brawling fine. No complaints here about a lack of thieving stats in a less reputable inn this time around - this is the system-neutral version, after all.

Being a remote place, it is magic that makes the village work - once again providing a nice angle to develop as a GM. Oh, and much like real life tourist traps, there is an arcane system of fines in place, guaranteed to infuriate the PCs.

Beyond the obvious power of the confluence, there is also an even more powerful, less known place of dark might here and they say that you can even purchase corpses and similar necromancy supplies here...if you know where to look.

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Y'taris is an amazing idea -I really like the magical tourism angle and the execution per se is nice. However, at the same time, it fell short for me. There is ample adventuring potential, but if the place is such a powerful destination, why does no one clean it up? Where are the remnants of ages long past, the unique local effects? In a system-neutral version, sky's pretty much the limit and you can just hint at something and then have the GM look for the fitting effect, but this one, like its PFRPG-version...boils down to a VERY lame CL-bonus and a tiny chance of not using a spell slot while casting inside the circle. That's really, really lame and the effect of the "hidden", lesser-known power-nexus is also not too interesting. Less mechanics, more imagination would have been appropriate for the system-neutral version in particular.

Considering the vast potential and flavor of this place, I can't really see anyone traveling here for the meager benefits the sights provide. Let me make that clear - this does have its benefits; it's not a bad installment by any means...but it feels, to me, like it falls short of what it could have easily been. In this iteration, rules are less important, which is why it receives 4 stars - it's good, but not excellent.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Y'taris System Neutral Edition
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Village Backdrop: Y'taris
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:39:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

his installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Y'taris is a village born of convenience: In the bleak and desolate harshness of the Broken mountains, there is a stone circle crafted as a silent witness to the confluence of ley lines here; a nexus of power that brings pilgrims galore to these desolate shores. Here, angles have fought, fey have roamed, apocalyptic cults have tried to enact their genocidal fantasies...and right now, another type of ill has befallen the place, namely that of being basically the fantasy-equivalent of a cut-throat tourist trap.

One Ayred Guilespire is in charge of nearly all stalls in the Grey Market, a boil-covered disgusting gnome runs the taverns and a dwarven lady coordinates the pickpockets. That would be the rulers here. Yeah, this is not a nice place. While the settlement is, quality-wise, magically attuned, the marketplace section this time around is pretty standard considering the highly magical flavor of the place.

I mentioned that this was not a nice place, right? well, there's a lich nearby. Who supposedly gets a stream of fresh corpses from the village. Yeah...Anyways, the village does come with the by now traditional nomenclature entries, notes on local dressing habits and appearances and, as always, 6 rumors and 6 events are neat and the latter even sport a unique little hazard. It should also be noted that the place's taverns etc. come with notes on costs of drinks - and one, interestingly, even has a brawling fine. A missed chance: If you go to the wrong place, you may end up with a room with secret doors and staff stealing belongings...but no DCs to notice or general capabilities for the staff are provided.

Being a remote place, it is magic that makes the village work - once again providing a nice angle to develop as a GM. Oh, and much like real life tourist traps, there is an arcane system of fines in place, guaranteed to infuriate the PCs.

Beyond the obvious power of the confluence, there is also an even more powerful, less known place of dark might here and they say that you can even purchase corpses and similar necromancy supplies here...if you know where to look.

Conclusion:

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

Jeff Gomez' Y'taris is an amazing idea -I really like the magical tourism angle and the execution per se is nice. However, at the same time, it fell short for me. There is ample adventuring potential, but if the place is such a powerful destination, why does no one clean it up? Where are the remnants of ages long past, the unique local effects? We have ample of ways to represent cool magical locales in PFRPG and this one...boils down to a VERY lame CL-bonus and a tiny chance of not using a spell slot while casting inside the circle. That's really, really lame and the effect of the "hidden", lesser-known power-nexus is also...kinda bland. Considering the vast potential and flavor of this place, I can't really see anyone traveling here for the meager benefits the sights provide. Let me make that clear - this does have its benefits; it's not a bad installment by any means...but it feels, to me, like it falls short of what it could have easily been. I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars - it doesn't deserve being slapped down to 3, though, which is why I'll round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Y'taris
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Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2017 04:04:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, this pdf very much represents a substitution - Castle Falkenstein's default mode to generate magic is obviously that of employing a standard playing deck of cards, which makes sense in two ways: For one, pretty much every household has one. Secondly, and more importantly, dice, in the era emulated by the game, were the common man's playing tool. A proper lady or gentleman would obviously play with cards. It is a cultural convention, much like playing bridge and the gender-divide in "proper" society between drinking brandy and sherry.

Anyways, this, at least in Europe, does present an interesting occasion to watch the changing of values ascribed to cultural artifacts in action: At least where I'm coming from, playing cards lack the luster and glamour of high-stakes poker games. Instead, the first association most people have is that of old farmers and craftsmen sitting down at the rural pub to play a game of Schafkopf or a similarly simply game, while drinking beer and discussing politics, complaining about wives, sons, daughters - you get the idea. The glamour and bling once associated with cards, at least as far as I'm concerned, has not made the transition to our contemporary culture.

Now Castle Falkenstein is a very immersive game once you understand how it works; but the clash of connotations of the cultural artifact employed in play with the assumptions of the game does present the experience of a disjoint. Insert this simple little pdf. Before you start: Yes, I am very much aware that the heyday of the use of Tarot began pretty much at the end and after the era of Castle Falkenstein, but at the same time, the allotopia it represents does feature ample fey and supernatural beings, so it makes sense to me to assume that the Tarot deck gained traction sooner.

One more thing: If you're even remotely interested in occultism, you may know that there are different Tarot decks - this pdf assumes you'll employ the most commonly used and widely dispersed deck, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, but own a tarot deck, chances are extremely high that you'll have just that.

So, what are the mechanics? The playing card suites are replaced with tarot suites - Hearts with Cups, Spades with Swords - and the emotional harmonics are also included in the table. The minor arcana values can similarly be gleaned from a table and should present no challenge regarding implementation for anyone.

And this is where things get really interesting: As anyone who ever held a deck of Tarot cards knows, the deck does feature the suite of Major Arcana, 22 numbered cards, ranging from values 0 to 21 that have unique meanings and symbolisms. If you've played the fantastic Persona-JRPGs, you'll know these from your social links. There are two ways of handling major arcana - first, the simplest choice would be to treat them as a full draw from the Sorcery Deck, though one that does not provide Power Gathered, and one that results in the usual 2-minute cooldown. This is particularly suitable for games that wish to emphasize the unreliable nature of magic and that aim for a less magical style of gaming.

The second, more chaotic and interesting option would be to allow a sorceror who draws a major arcana card to continue drawing until a minor arcana card is drawn and added to the hand, gathering power. The host may, obviously, limit the total amount of major arcana cards that can be used in conjunction with a given spell. This option is obviously best for games that want to emphasize the somewhat chaotic, but powerful and unpredictable nature of magic. As a slight presentation guffaw: The table noting the effects of the major arcana cards precedes this text, but the text ends noting that the effects are as follows - in layout, that was obviously switched around. And yes, that is, at best, a cosmetic hiccup.

Now, what about those major arcana effects? Well, the fool's effects would be pretty much the most pedestrian, mirroring the effects of a Joker in a regular playing card game. The other cards are significantly more interesting: The magician, for example, grants control over one knot of energy, allowing the sorceror to convert the suit of a card to the suit of the spell. Similar card suit conversions, modifications of numerical values, harmonics entering the deal...very interesting. Oh, and selfish spells may backfire in the face of the justice card, you may attract unseelie (or seelie) farie and quicker gathering can all be found here. Basically, instead of having one unique effect based on cards, you have 22. This very much changes the dynamics of Castle Falkenstein for the better, for it makes casting as a whole more evocative, exciting and versatile - it adds a ton of spice to the proceedings.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - apart from the sequence, hiccup (which is cosmetic at best), I noticed no glitches in either formal or rules-departments. Layout adheres to an easy to read full-color two-column-standard, with the massive major arcana table being one-column. The pdf sports a nice piece of full color art beyond the front cover.

J Gray's Tarot variation is, dare I say, my dear readers, a stroke of genius. For one, we associated Tarot more with the era Castle Falkenstein emulates than regular playing cards, so that, in itself, would already constitute an improvement regarding immersion. However, and that is more important to me, the inclusion of major arcana cards with a ton of unique effects makes spellcasting as a whole infinitely more interesting, less predictable, and ultimately, more fun. Now here's the thing: This costs a single buck as per the writing of this review.

It is perhaps one of the best Dollars you can spend regarding RPGs. This humble pdf is GENIUS. I mean it. In 3 pages you get a system that is so easy to implement, it can be done by anyone. You need one page of those three printed out, that of the major arcana effects. That's it. This little pdf does not only provide ONE really, really good system that not only enhances the immersion in the game, but also represents a glorious expansion of the rules. You actually get TWO. No matter what type of game you're playing, one of them will fit the bill and oh boy, both are extremely interesting and enhance the game in a pronounced and amazing manner.

This is, in short, perhaps the best buck you can spend to vastly improve a single system, to breathe fresh air and versatility into a game, that I have seen in a long, long time. The simplicity is genius, the price can't be beaten, the results of using this and the joy it brings go far beyond what the humble price tag would make you think. This is a true gem of RPG-design and bespeaks the author's palpable love for the system. if you're playing Castle Falkenstein, then this is very much an absolute no-brainer. Concisely presented, thoroughly amazing and exceedingly concise, this receives my EZG Essential-tag for Castle Falkenstein. Moreover, the easy integration, added variety and fun this brings to the table make it one phenomenal offering, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and qualify this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016 for being exceedingly impressive from a design perspective. Make your game more magical NOW and get this gem!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Tarot Variation
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Legendary Kineticists
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2017 03:58:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' class-centric support books clocks in at 46 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 34 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with what many people would consider to be a star of this pdf, namely the artistic summoner kineticist, who is locked into either wood or water as elemental focus and their blasts are refluffed as ink if water's chosen, paper when wood is chosen and may apply the oil infusion to it. Latter infusion is gained, fyi, also at 1st level and has its burn cost reduced by 1 - to a total of 0. Oil basically allows for th drenching of foes and the better alight-setting of them and features a concise duration/mechanics-array. The archetype replaces the basic utility wild talent gained upon taking elemental focus as well as the regular 1st level infusion with that, but to make up for it, the respective sculptor/shape wood etc. are treated as universal wild talents for the archetype.

Things get really interesting at 2nd level, where the utility wild talent alongside that gained at 8th and 14th as well as the expanded element gained at 7th and 15th are replaced with a Constitution-governed variant of the summoner's summon monster ability, as based upon conjuring forth creatures from drawings etc. 7th level nets the blast they did not gain at 1st level. More importantly, they may expend uses of the summon monster ability as a swift action to fluidly apply the benefits of the oil infusion for free to it AND classifying the square attacked as a target area for the summoning of the monster. This replaces 7th level's infusion. 10th level replaces the wild talent usually gained with expanded element for either wood or water, but minus the simple blast and 11th level, finally, allows for a unique composite blast at burn cost 2: Sculpture Blast, which lets you generate duplicates of the target hit that follow the rules of lesser simulacra, but may be generated with, the right talents provided, from more than ink or paper, but also from fire, gravity, etc. This archetype not only has amazing visuals, it also rewards NOT spamming all your summon monster uses and manages to walk the tight rope of retaining balance. Really impressive.

The awakened bloodrager would basically be a kineticist/bloodrager hybrid, whose spells incur no arcane spell failure in light armor only, replacing their bloodline with an element, simple kinetic blast as well as a basic utility wild talent, but these are only available while bloodraging. They also may choose either extended range or kinetic blade as a bonus wild talent that has burn cost reduced to 0. Nice catch: The one not chosen can later be learned at full burn cost, explicitly stated by the pdf. Nice to see such precision. Blast damage output increases by +1d6 at 4th level and every 3rd level thereafter, with 4th level and ever 4 levels thereafter granting an infusion wild talent. Finally, 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter net either a utility wild talent, a barbarian rage power or a feat with kineticist level prerequisites, using their class level as kineticist levels. Finally, the ability manages to cover multiclassing interaction.

Cool: The bloodrage rules-language operation manages to avoid a nasty exploitation caveat, allowing only for the proper SPs and SUs to be used in conjunction with it. Utility wild talents only affect the awakened and the respective character may expend rounds of bloodrage instead to pay off burn accepted, with a scaling maximum preventing gross nova-abuse. Similarly, elemental defense is only active while bloodraging and may not be increased by accepting burn, instead gaining an interesting, level-dependent scaling mechanism. These abilities do restrict fast movement to only being applicable in light armor, though, delay uncanny dodge to 5th level and replace improved uncanny dodge. Starting at 4th level, basic utility wild talents may now be used beyond the confines of a bloodrage, and within a bloodrage, they may employ gather charge and may lace manufactured weapon-enhancing spells into their blasts while bloodraging. 7th level reduced burn cost of multiple infusions added to a blast by a total of 1, with every 3 levels thereafter further reducing this by 1. 11th and 20th level provide the expanded element benefits, alongside simple or composite blasts, wild talents et al.

I have to briefly talk about one of the new wild talents first, before we go further: Cantikinesis. At burn 0, you make an instrument that can deliver your kinetic blasts. If your Performance doesn't suck, at increased potency. I LOVE THIS. This is so frickin' METAL. (Or trumpet of Jericho, or dias de las muertos brass) - you blast with instruments. Brütal Legend, anyone? Damn, I need to play a guy with an electric guitar blasting foes to shreds...boy, of boy...Ahem...where was I?

The Evoker Minstrel reduced skills gained per level to 4 + Int mod, but does use Int to govern spellcasting and instead of bardic knowledge, they receive cantikinesis and improved cantikinesis wild talents, being treated as 1/2 class level (min 1) kineticist for their purposes. Yep, Int also governs that one. The archetype also adds 1/2 class level several knowledge checks and UMD and replaces the suggestion and mass suggestion bardic performances with an increased damage bonus when employing cantikinesis during bardic performances. The distraction bardic performance is moved to 6th level, but the soundweaver's fitting scenery is gained at 1st level. 18th level nets "The Consequence of Harmonious Convergence." 2nd level provides the defense wild talent of the same element as the cantikinesis-chosen blast and they may spend 2 minutes + rounds of bardic performance to make that count as though they had accepted 1 point of burn., with further expenditure being possible quicker for increased benefits. This eliminates well-versed. 10th level allows for soundweaver bardic masterpiece selection.

Wait, what? Soundweaver? Yeah, that would be the next one: A Charisma-based kineticist with 6 + Int skills per level and good Ref- and Will-saves. They begin play with cantikinesis and the improved and greater brethren and may use it to enhance their attacks. However, they do lose the basic utility wild talent gained from elemental focus, elemental overflow as well as the 1st level infusion. If the Cha-component made you furrow your brow, rest assured that the gain class level times Cha-mod as a kind of burn buffer, but only for burn accepted via the use of cantikinesis or a defense wild talent: Nice: Does not forget the nonlethal-immunity caveat. 3rd level nets a substance and form infusion, and again at 7th and 15th level, while 6th and every 3 levels thereafter allow for the retraining of infusions. 5th level nets access to bardic performance at -4 class levels, enhancing the damage output via cantikinesis while performing. The performances allow for minor AoE-damage etc. and 10th level rewards you from using multiple instruments in a kinetic concert. Wait, what? Yep starting 8th (and again at 16th) you gain additional instruments for cantikinesis, allowing for the increase of damage with multiple instruments manifested. Additionally, when choosing elemental focus as an expanded element, bonus wild talents thus gained may be foregone in order to add even more instruments to the fray. 11th and 19th level unlock bardic masterpieces, while the capstone unlocks kinetic blast reducing gather power as a swift action while in a kinetic concert as well as a masterpiece that allows you to grant allies temporarily kineticist powers! Yeah, pretty cool!

Better yet - we receive no less than 6 bardic masterpieces specifically designed for the soundweaver , including the sharing of defense wild talents, attuning nearby allies as possible origins for blasts of attuned elements, increasing the aforementioned AoE-performance damage output, etc. - these are interesting and provide sufficiently unique benefits. Oh, and their costs etc. make them viable choices in combat.

The surge fist unchained monk archetype employ their class levels as kineticist levels for feat prerequisite purposes and selects an element, gaining a simple blast; unlike a kineticist blast, the attack is unarmed and targets regular AC and uses Wis instead of Str for attribute-governing purposes. And yes, untyped damage is converted to a more palatable damage type...though force still is nasty. This fist-based blast is treated as a monk weapon for flurry purposes. They use ki instead of burn to add universal substance infusions or substance infusions of the chosen element to the surge fist and may learn additional substance infusions in lieu of ki powers and a various assortment of tricks allows for diverse and pretty fun options, including powerful full-round single strike attacks. Yes, it does retain style synergy.

In order to talk about the next archetype, we need to talk about the new element, namely mind. Practitioners are called neurokineticists and add Knowledge (history) (not capitalized properly) and Sense Motive to their class skills, gaining basic neurokinesis as basic manipulation, mental blast as a simple blast wild talent. That one would deliver untyped damage (yuck), but there is an intriguing component to this as an interesting balancing component: All wild talents are mind-influencing effects unless otherwise stated. Basic neurokinesis, just fyi, nets you extremely short range telepathy and the option to self-grant yourself a minor bonus to Int-based checks.

The elemental defense of the element would be numbness, which allows for the conversion of lethal damage to nonlethal damage and slowly escalating levels of fortification versus critical hits and sneak attack et al. The defense also nets +1/2 Con-modifier as a bonus to Will-saves when accepting burn, though Will-saves, once again, wasn't capitalized properly. There is also a formatting hiccup that makes the header of encephalon blast, one of the composite blasts, instead read "Composite Blast" in the header, Cerebral Empowerment below that - cosmetic, sure, but uncharacteristic for Legendary Games. Now the mind infusions are interesting -from eliminating one or more rounds from the foe's memory to temporarily controlling foes and inciting unnatural lust in them, the infusions provided are pretty cool and include affecting foes around the respective adversary via empathic surges. Oh, and what about making your infused blast a gaze attack (at reduced potency for balance's sake)? Yeah, there is some seriously cool stuff to be done here, including short-term enforced pacifism and the ability to establish a mental connection to affect foes hit with wild talents.

There also is a significant array of utility wild talents to choose from: Oh, that damage you took? Perhaps it's all in your head! (You may disbelieve...but at the same time, that can make for a killer...ahem...kineticist killer...) Implanting memories, full-blown mental manipulation, turning foes, permanently enslaving others - fans of telepaths and similar classes will have an alternate means of fulfilling many of the more unique tricks associated with the field, including the granting of sentience, forcing creatures to lie and establishing a hivemind. Implanting dreams is cool, mesmerizing suggestions are awesome: What about implanting mesmerist tricks? Yeah...neat! many of these have built-in combo-potential and e.g. disarming spellcasters as immediate actions, negating their spells is a great idea AND execution that blends well with some requirements of my own game. Several bosses will get that...just because I'm an evil, evil man. ;)

The True Psychic kineticist treats both aether and mind as primary elements and must select either telekinetic or mind blast, replacing 1st level's infusion. They are locked into either force ward or numbness at 2nd level and 7th level nets transparency between telekinetic and mind blast infusions and gains the blast not chosen at 1st level, with 8th level providing mindscape architect with some added benefits, while 9th level unlocks force and encephalon blast instead of metakinesis (maximize). The mindscape trickery is further enhanced at 15th and 20th level, respectively...including, in the capstone's case, the ability to maintain multiple mindscapes at once.

Finally, there would be the war kineticist, who may accept Con-mod burn per day. At 3rd level, these guys may accept battle burn, which does not inflict nonlethal damage and can be accepted in conjunction with the use of infusion or utility wild talents measured in rounds greater than 1., though that reduces duration to 5 minutes or the respective duration, whichever is lower. 9th and 15th level allow for the acceptance of +1 point of battle burn. Battle burn is treated as burn for activating elemental overflow and said ability +1 is gained at 6th level, +1 for every 6 levels thereafter. The internal buffer is twice as big as that of the regular kineticist, but can only be used for composite blasts, metakinesis and infusions. Wild talent burn thus prevented are treated as battle burn. I should hate this class and its easily regained (brief rest) battle burn. I don't. Why? Because I like the emphasis on careful resource-management this one requires. So yeah - kudos!

Now the pdf offers a selection of several new general infusions, which range from arbitrament-duplication, better crits with bludgeoning damage and blasts that deal no damage, but increase the save DC. The latter has some seriously cool tactical options, mind you. An improved follow-up of mobile blast. There also would be one that allows you to get rid of multiple physical damage types...I liked all of them and they often allow for REALLY cool tricks.

The pdf does also feature a broad array of unique wild talents that allow for new tricks - like better sniping while telekinetically invisible, AC that improves with your burn, making your composite blasts more versatile via infusions of constituting blasts...really cool. There is also a nod to Dark Sun here: One talent lets you make land permanently infertile...while and other sequence nets you an aura of plant growth you may manipulate with follow-up talents. The somewhat maligned wood element would be a pretty big winner this time around, with some seriously cool tricks.

The feat-section would go beyond the range of the usual class feature enhancements for the new archetypes, allowing e.g. the kinetic chirurgeon to actually gain access to burn-powered cure-spells. Playing an overwhelming soul? +1/2 Cha-mod mental prowess should be worth considering... Once again, a nice section, particularly considering the feat support some of the slightly less supported kineticist options receive.

The pdf also features 4 magic items, which includes a tattoo that allows you to fire blasts from your eyes (free hands!), a crossbow that can fire snake infusion blasts and an armor property that allows for the gaining of temporary hit points when affected by a wild talent as an immediate action...which is nice. We should, frankly, have more such defensive tricks, considering the glass-cannon-y aspect that many a kineticist tends to assume. (At least in my games...)

Now, the pdf also offers a cool elemental saturation, i.e. a place of power that offers a risk, but also the option to gain a unique min utility wild talent that lets you end mind-affecting effects as swift or immediate actions, but for 1 burn and being dazed for 1 round. Neat and evocative! The pdf concludes with Mindfang, a CR 11 neurokineticist - Hannah, as her true name is, is a slaver with a nasty reputation and a dark and tragic past, wanting to reclaim her love Teresa from the clutches of her (most assuredly) even less scrupulous brother. I was positively surprised by this character, as she makes for a multi-facetted, interesting NPC that can be both foil and ally at the same time. And yes, she does come with a boon if the PCs befriend her.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as nigh-perfect as in most Legendary Games-books. There are a couple of minor, cosmetic hiccups in formatting. Ruls-language-wise, there is, in spite of the significant complexity of the subject matter, nothing to complain about. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf offers a blend of original full-color pieces and some stock art I have seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

N. Jolly, with additional design by OnyxTanuki, seems to have it in for me. I mean, do you know how much work goes into analyzing these intricately-woven books?? Kidding aside, I was absolutely positive surprised by a LOT I saw within this book. Being the 4th (!!!) kineticist book by his pen, I figured he'd have to run out of steam at some point. Quite the contrary. In stark contrast to the supremely amazing, yet also potentially problematic dimensional rift creating apex of his craft so far, this book provides a diverse and captivating conglomerate of unique options. In the hands of a lesser designer, a kinetic summoner would have been a train wreck, awesome visuals notwithstanding. Here, it's just cool. Even the hybrid-archetypes reach a level of complexity that goes beyond simple excellent craftsmanship and reaches the level of artistry, making them better than quite a few full-blown hybrid classes I read. Now, let's talk about the new element. It has me a bit divided.

I know that untyped damage for kineticists is by now established...yaddayaddayadda...but I'm still not that comfortable with it. That being said, the mind-affecting angle is SMART. As a huge fan of telepaths and psionics, I considered the new element to have a bit much overlap with that field...but at the same time, there are quite a few unique tricks herein that simply can't be pulled off via other systems. More importantly, the neurokineticist actually PLAYS radically different from DSP's classes, which means that there is more than enough space for both to exist in the same universe.

Neuros, to me, feel more like the super-hero-y ones, the Psyclockes and the like, whereas other master of mental manipulation come closer to the shadowy mastermind/Charles Xavier-type. So yeah, I will actually continue to use this. Add to that the cool defensive armor (we need more tricks like that!), the feats that enhance neglected archetypes and OH MY GOD ELECTRIC GUITAR OF DEATH. DRUM OF DOOM. TRUMPET OF TORNADOES. Cantakinesis is a stroke of genius. Similarly, gaining Cyclops-like gaze-blasts is amazing...and implanting/memory manipulation has always been one of my favorite tricks as a GM. Yeah, I'm evil. I know.

Suffice to say, there is a TON of material herein, and I love a LOT of it. This is pretty much the epitome of a high-density, high-complexity, well-crafted book of evocative crunch. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Kineticists
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The Starship From Hell
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2017 03:56:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 39 pages of content, though these are formatted for the A5 ('' by 9'')-size, which means you can comfortable fit 4 of these pages on a given sheet of A4/US-letterpack paper, making printing this out pretty economical.

Okay, confession time. I am one of the weirdos that had more fun watching Primer than with all of the Star Wars franchise combined. I'm a fan of hard scifi, you know, the "boring, talky" movies sans kewl explosions and space battles. At the same time, I am a big fan of Dr. Who and can derive enjoyment from Star Trek. I also love Firefly. But know what? The type of scifi that first captured my imagination in my formative years was Alien. I managed to watch it at a family gathering while everyone was occupied. Ever since then, I was in love with dark scifi as well. Whether it's the alien-franchise and Giger's art in general, the Darkseed games or, well, event horizon. These movies may not have the intellectual stimulus I enjoy from a cerebral perspective, but something about the silent, dark spaces between the worlds grabs me. Dead Space I (let's never talk about the sequels...) blew me away and in its aftermath, I was pretty much determined to make a module on a hellish starship where everything went horribly wrong.

Said endeavor was put on the back burner due to the trademarked complications and obligations that life tends to throw our way and so, that idea was put on the back burner, but certainly not forgotten. fast forward a couple of years and I happen to stumble over a small pdf - this one, to be more precise. It's FREE. And it's basically a system-neutral generator to make a starship from hell adventure set-up in about 10 minutes.

The process is ridiculously simple: You roll 1d10 for ship type - autonomous, biotic, etc. Then, you roll d10 for ship category - these basically modify abstract ship attributes that may be low or medium - shields, weapons, maneuverability. After that, the horror-aspect sinks in: You roll a d20 to determine ship class. If you roll an innocuous scow...it has been hauling the same cargo around for a dozen years, but sans making a single delivery....and there would be a ship that collects the bodies of unwanted fetuses and one battleship manned by corpses animated by cybernetic augmentations. Yeah, I totally can't see those going wrong... ahem. Need a name? Roll twice on a 50-entry-strong d%-table.

That's not where it ends - you roll 1d10 for a passenger class: Biosynthetic constructs, for example...that unfortunately have relapsed to their default mode of operations in view of a lack of communications...you guessed it: Find and eat other species. Suicidal members of a lunar cult may want to crash the ship into an inhabited moon to scour infidels or fanatical religious devotees - these groups certainly can make for deadly adversaries. Insane psychos on their own do not suffice, though: Hence, you may roll 1d12 and look up a phenomenon heading the way of the ship: Like a 200 Km/s Moreton wave from a solar flare, the destruction of a stellar dreadnought Plaguebearer, guided, seemingly intelligent clusters of dark matter - the respective angles are unique and interesting.

Why would the PCs be here? Well, there are 12 reasons provided for your convenience...which conveniently also double as potential goals or antagonists: Rogue A.I.s, hull breaches...or even simple radiation. Mix and match for more nastiness.

Oh, and at this point, we haven't even reached the 20-entry strong threat table that range from the surreal to the nasty: There would e.g. be portals to worlds where sentient bacteria and viruses wage war, using all other species as vessels; there would be all life forms of a nearby planet going dark, dying at once; subjective perception between different PCs; cannibal killers, chrysalises waiting to hatch... And finally, there would be 20 secrets - like a virus that may kill everyone past puberty, sentient ships...or the weird fact that everyone is highly pregnant aboard, regardless of gender...

The second section handles the crew and NPCs: 10 crew ranks, 50 titles, 100 names as well as 20 personality traits and 20 areas of expertise allow you to quickly generate basics. 10 general factions to which the NPC may belong, 9 sample home planets - all handy to gain a basic grasp on the character in question. Two d20-tables, one to determine the location of a character on the upper and one for the lower decks. The pdf also features no less than 20 relevant NPC-possessions as well - and these include holographic recordings of a PC committing a brutal murder s/he can't remember...

Don't have the time for all of this dice-rolling? Two pregens complement the pdf, one with 2 and one with 3 NPCs. The pdf closes with an appendix of 12 bits and pieces.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. The pdf has no artwork, apart from the cover, which is included in .png-version, with the back cover as a separate .jpg. Additionally, a .doc-version's included. Oh, and the pdf is open content.

Rafael Chandler's "Starship from Hell" is an awesome one-stop-shop adventure-set-up. This pdf literally delivers a great basic adventure-skeleton in just a couple of minutes. The entries are diverse, creepy and manage to invoke a sense of threat I thoroughly enjoyed - many hint, tantalizingly, at entities and conglomerates beyond the ken of the book and do their job: They inspire. While the crew-section is slightly less legendary than the ship-section, this still is a great pdf. And it's FREE. It costs zilch. Nada. Nothing. Frankly, this is good enough to pay for - being FREE makes it one amazing file...and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval. Want to bring some dark scifi-goodness? You have no excuse not to pick this up right now.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Starship From Hell
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B24: Young Minds
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/20/2017 10:00:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This module, like Colin Stricklin's previous offerings in the series, takes place in the city of Hordenheim, which is...let's say, peculiar. If you have missed the excellent "Death & Taxes" and "For Rent, Lease and Conquest", I'd strongly suggest getting them. The form a kind of unofficial trilogy and while they all are self-contained, their collective does paint a very interesting picture of the city.

All right, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

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All right, still here? Great! So, Hordenheim has a bit of a different take on undead and monstrous humanoids and is pretty much a cosmopolitan city - and as such, it should come as no surprise that the place does have its own university, Leverinac Metropolitan University (LMU) - it is here that the module takes place, with the campus being depicted in a truly gorgeous full-color map, player-friendly version included with and without compass-needle and name, so if you just want to scavenge the map, no problem.

We begin this module in perhaps the funniest scene I've seen in a module for quite some time. The adventurers are staffing a booth at a job fair, extolling the virtues of their chosen profession. I am not kidding. This can be absolutely hilarious for anyone who has ever had to staff a booth for a job fair...and the very concept is similarly just so funny to me. And it gets better. During the job-fair, dean Derthag Dwarfeater is introduced- Yes. He's an orc. Obviously. Oh, and PCs can witness a harpy pranking a minotaur and have I mentioned Professor Fugglestone, the zombie lord teacher? No, I am not making that up. Better yet, it is said zombie lord who...expires (???) permanently. The PCs are tasked with finding out how the zombie lord was destroyed.

Thing is, among Fugglestone's notes the PCs are handed a hand-out, an anatomic drawing of an intellect devourer, alongside several notes. You see, intellect devourers are described as hedonistic creatures, but require a host body to properly feel the respective sensations. The dean assumes such a creature to have infiltrated the campus, obviously underestimating the decomposition of a zombie host body sans animating forces/brain. The irony of an intellect devourer eating a zombie's brain...once again is exquisite. It will hence be the PC's goal to infiltrate the underclassmen and find sudden changes in personality etc. and root out the parasitic creature.

For the purpose of this, the PCs receive magical rings that revert them to age 17 (with minor stat-adjustments) - and the stakes are high, for, according to the notes, young may well hatch soon and replace the minds of some of Hordenheim's most brightest! The PCs receive specially prepared alchemical nasal swabs they can use to find the right persons...but ultimately, getting people to agree to that will not be too simple. After all, a panic should be damn well avoided!

While the rings are detect magic-proof, the intellect devourer can still detect other items - so investigating the creature will not be simple. The PCs will have to juggle their courses and investigative duties (schedule of courses, in this, the semester's last week, is not too busy). The schedule, just fyi, represents another cool handout.

The investigation itself is basically a fun sandbox - the respective areas do have their own read-aloud text, with a plethora of different pupils and instructors provided in a nice array of fluffy write-ups - from head librarian to bookish minotaurs and clumsy ogre, the array presented is nice. Rumors, both useful and patently false, circulate - and two factions, delinquents and honor students, will seek to recruit the PCs to their causes. The cool thing beyond that backdrop would be that three sample suspects, in detail, with different evidence and encounters, are depicted: The arrogant hall monitor, the elderly, mean-spirited janitor (who is also a mite) and the ettin-coach all have their own challenges and interactions and can lead organically to one another - when played at a con, you can just run one; otherwise, putting them in an organic sequence is very easy - and the different factions have different goals associated with the respective suspects.

Beyond all of that, the timer's ticking and a barroom brawl with a chimera ( student at Trots Tech), a grand game of the local football-stand-in Hurly and an overachiever summoning hellhounds and fiendish dire lions at the same time...so yeah, beyond events and free-form investigation, much like a good Persona-game, you'll have such events to juggle. The intellect devourer, once unmasked, may well try to panic and escape, trying to save its brood - but the witlings have hatched...and promptly consume their parent and make off to the ceiling looking for prey. Fulfilled faction objectives during the module will help the PCs establish their standing - the more respected they are, the more help they'll receive...and they'll need all the help they can get to prevent a full-blown body-snatcher scenario! The module ends, thus, hopefully with a graduation...and hey, when they unmask, the PCs may actually have gained a proper cohort!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the cartography and handouts are high quality and neat.

Colin Stricklin's third Hordenheim module is absolutely phenomenal and proofs that he knows what he is doing. One or two can be happy coincidences; three? Not so much. This module is one of the most hilarious and bonkers modules I've read in quite a while. It is rewarding, imaginative and has some many moments that made me smile, so many cool and creative ideas, it simply is a joy to read. It also can be a pretty amazing module to run for older kids that are not fazed by intellect devourers as a concept; ages 8+ should work well for all but the most sensitive of kids. That being said, adults will absolutely adore all the cool jabs at the education systems, high-school/college/university-stereotypes, etc. - this module is funny on so many levels and provides a thoroughly evocative change of pace.

Absolutely amazing. Seriously, get this module and get the first two as well, while you're at it! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and the module, courtesy of its unique premise and creative execution. If you need a good laugh and a delightfully irreverent and unconventional module, this one delivers! The premise could carry a whole mega-adventure!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B24: Young Minds
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Kemonomimi - Moe Options (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/20/2017 09:58:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little expansion for Amora Game's Moe races clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, for one, we begin with alternate racial traits - three universal ones would be provided; the affinity with the respective animals can be replaced with affinity with creatures of the kami subtype; similarly, another exchange allows for kemonomimi who have an easier time dealing with oni. Thirdly, low-light vision may be replaced with 60 ft. darkvision, but at the cost of being dazzled in bright lights.

Akaimimi with Wisdom scores of 11+ may replace racial skills and insightful question with 1/day SPs, namely detect psychic significance, guidance and mindlink. Replacing knowledge bonuses with +2 to Bluff and Sense Motive can also be found. Finally, insightful question can be replaced with a permanent undetectable alignment that reads them as neutral - which is strong, but pretty cool.

Araiguma can replace dowsing with better resistance versus ingested nastiness and the option to smell processed food at range as well as being able to function longer sans food. If an araiguma also replaces the racial skills, he can gain 1/day ghost sound, prestidigitation, vanish as SPs and thirdly, Escape Artist and Swim may be substituted for the usual skill bonuses.

Inumimi can similarly replace their skill bonuses with Heal and Spellcraft. Their SP-exchange-trait can net them alarm, protection from evil, resistance and thirdly, better atk, damage and SR-penetration versus oni as well as crit SR-negation complement the options presented here, but the more powerful options swallow repel misfortune.

Kitsunemimi may replace patient planner with the option to announce two actions when they ready; either may trigger the action, which is pretty cool. Their skill-exchange trait nets Diplomacy and Linguistics, the SP-trait covers 1/day mending, message and pass without trace. The nekomimi's SP-trait nets deathwatch, disrupt undead and touch of fatigue. Instead of fortune's favored, they gain concealment below 0 hit points, total concealment when dying and may 17day become incorporeal as a result to suffering a death effect. Pretty powerful - the second trait replaced forzune's favored would allow 3/day reroll of all damage dice with a spell, attack, etc. - imho, this may be a bit too strong for what it replaces.

The tanukimimi 's skill-change trait nets Appraise and UMD, with charm animal, daze and lullaby being the respective SPs for the SP-granting trait. The third alternate racial trait nets Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Grapple in exchange for the skills, which is hefty per se...but all classes for which this would usually be powerful have at least one built-in already, so I'm still okay with this.

The Usagimimi's SP-trait nets create water, prestidigitation and unseen servant, with the skill replacement trait providing +2 to Acrobatics and Ride instead of the usual benefits. The third alternate racial trait provides Improved Sunder as a bonus feat and lets spells and abilities ignore two points of hardness - overall, a pretty powerful exchange.

The pdf's final page contains 6 new feats:

-Convoluted Plan: This allows you to draw up 3/day a complex plan with up to Int-mod triggering conditions, in complexity comparable to a readied action or contingency (not italicized in the text); when said conditions trigger, you gain + Int-mod to a selection of checks potentially associated with that action and yes, the wording gets active and reactive conditions tightly and correctly codified. Nice one.

-Heritage of a Celestial Beast: Nets at-will detect kami. When cloaked in an illusion of an animal associated with your yokai ancestor, or polymorphed into such, you are harder to disbelief and wild shapes into the corresponding form can be activated as a swift action. However, this and the next feat are mutually exclusive.

-Heritage of a Mortal Man: No longer take a penalty to Disguise to pass as human and you gain the human subtype. Not even divinations detect you as anything but human. Similarly, illusions, alter self and similar effects that transform you into a humanoid form are harder to disbelief.

-Inspiring Tenacity: When using surprising tenacity, allies that can see or hear you within 30 ft. "temporarily gain hit points" equal to half character level + Cha-mod. Per se cool, though an explicit duration would have made sense here, considering the feat's temp hit points are their own effect. Also adds +1 daily use of surprising tenacity.

-Shout at the Oni!: As a swift action, you may suppress a fear effect that would otherwise prevent you from acting properly, for a total number of daily rounds equal to Con-mod. If you have access to ki, you can spend 1 ki per round to keep activating it. Nice one.

-Eye for the Fortune's Smile: Automatically notice luck bonuses on people as well as the ability to influence luck. You recognize when a random event was hampered with by luck and may use the corresponding racial ability +1/day. Really cool and has serious narrative potential.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with nice full-color artworks from the original pdf strewn in. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Wojciech Gruchala delivers a fun and inexpensive expansion for the kemonomimi-races here, one that allows for the customization I wanted to see. While many of the alternate racial traits provide basically one skill and one SP-exchange trait, the SPs themselves are well-chosen and unique. Similarly, the third option usually does something fun and uncommon. The feats also are thankfully bereft of filler-material. Now, granted, I can complain about e.g. the SPs not being of the precise same strength, but I'd ultimately be stretching for something to nitpick. This is a nice, well-made and unpretentious little pdf, ultimately well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the low and very fair price point. If you like the kemonomimi, then this is pretty much a no-brainer.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kemonomimi - Moe Options (PFRPG)
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Mythic Minis 91: Feats of Cunning
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/20/2017 09:57:28

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!

-Brilliant Planner: Your plan can fund up to 500 gp per character level and only takes a single full-round action to initiate. When you expend one use of mythic power and 10 gp from your fund, you may include up to 8 hours of unskilled, nondangerous labor in the plan. VERY cool!

-Brilliant Spell Preparation: You can fill slots left open as a move action and may set aside spell slots of any level you can cast. By expending one mythic power when preparing spells, you may leave open one slot per level you can cast. When using recuperation, spell slots left open become standard spell slots - nice ability interaction catch!

-Insightful Advice: You can attempt a skill check to aid an ally with any skill, provided you have line of sight and the ally can hear you. This takes 1 minute and provides +2, +4 f the ally is nearby. Alternatively, you can use it to aid within 30 ft. as a standard action, provided you could help. The ally may benefit more than 1/day from the advice, but not more often than 1/round.

-Inspiring Mentor: Inspire competence in two skills at once or in one skill and inspire all allies within 60 ft. Mythic allies using this versus non-mythic creatures may reroll the check and take the better result as a free action, but are in for a 1 minute cooldown. You may also expend mythic power to increase the duration by + tier after stopping the performance.

-Omnipresent Mentor: Affect as many allies as you'd like, at the cost of 4 rounds of bardic performance per ally. You may choose the skill to enhance individually. Mythic allies using this versus non-mythic creatures may reroll the check and take the better result as a free action, but can't benefit from a boost to that skill from your inspire competence until you regain bardic performance. Alternatively, by spending 8 rounds of bardic performance per ally, you may grant inspire courage. If the ally is mythic and the foe nonmythic, they may choose to reroll an attack or save versus a charm or fear effect, taking the better result. After resolving this, they can't benefit from this use of the feat until you regain bardic performance. If you instead focus on one ally, you may inspire competence (erroneously called inspire courage here) to boost more than one skill; for each skill beyond the first, you pay +2 rounds of bardic performance. If the ally rerolls a check, only that skill's boost ends. Finally, you may add in inspire courage as well, but that doubles the cost. I really like this mythic feat...but in its complexity, the glitch is pretty nasty, even if what it's supposed to mean is pretty evident.

-Quick Study: It takes only 2 hours of training to learn a feat someone knows. You may also have up to two such feats at any given time. By expending a use of mythic power while fighting someone, you become aware of all the combat feats they have and may learn one of them. But as what action? Free? Immediate?

-Sense Relationship: Reduce penalties for not sharing creature type or language fro determining relationships between creatures. The bonuses granted are enhanced and when expending mythic power when making a Sense Motive check, you can automatically succeed in getting a hunch on the relationship.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups that would wreck anything. 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.

Alex Riggs and Jason Nelson's feats of cunning are concept-wise and complexity-wise definitely winners for the most part; Sense Relationship is a bit lame compared to the others and the ability confusion in the otherwise glorious Omnipresent Mentor hurts the pdf a bit, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 91: Feats of Cunning
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Mythic Minis 90: Intrigue Magic Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/20/2017 09:55:07

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!

-Cartogramancer: Find a location within 50 miles; if you exceed the DC by 10, 20 miles instead; if you exceed the DC by 20, you can narrow that down to 5 miles. Additionally, you may expend mythic power as part of making the Knowledge (geography) check, you receive 3 locations at roughly the appropriate distance instead of one. If you fail the check, you retain the mythic power.

-Conceal Spell: You add mythic tier to the DC to notice your spellcasting, regardless of skill used to set the DC. If you have (Mythic) Skill Focus in the respective skill, you increase the DC by 2 or 4 respectively. Said DC-increase also extends to Sense Motive. When expending one use of mythic power as part of casting the spell, you do not increase the casting time. Neat!

-Improved Conceal Spell: Add mythic tier to Spellcraft DC made to identify your spell as it's being cast. You may also add a surge die to the DC, which you may roll btw. twice when casting a mythic spell. Additionally, expend mythic power to make it undetectable to divination unless the snooping character manages a massive DC-check. Nice one!

-Fleeting Spell: Dismiss these spells as a free action and it retains the normal duration. You may also cast 1 round duration spells as fleeting spells and add mythic tier to the DC to detect a lingering aura or identify its school. Mythic spells thus cast can be dispelled by mythic effects sans checks. Non-mythic dispelling can end them at -4 dispel DC, balancing the power of the feat. Cool!

-Planar Wanderer: + twice mythic tier to Knowledge (planes) checks made in conjunction with Planar Wanderer. Expend mythic power when plane shifting to determine destination, as though you used teleport to get there.

-Studied Spell: When you cast a studied spell, you designate + 1 target for every 2 tiers (minimum 1). Single targets instead net you + tier to the Knowledge check to study it. If the target grants itself resistances, immunities or DR, you can free action identify the highest level spell or effect, plus 1 per 5 by which you beat the DC. Then, you may choose to ignore one such effect, but only with the studied spell in question. This is an amazing little piece of engine design that can really help reign in the powerful defenses...also those of players...

-Stylized Spell: + tier to the DC of Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft made to identify your spell, its effects, materials or created things, as well as to the DC to recognize your magical signature. You can also disguise the stylized spell as another spell of the same school and subschool with the same descriptors of any level, or as another spell of the same level and school with a different subschool or descriptor. VERY cool!

-Tenacious Spell: The DC to counter or dispel the spell in question is increased by 4 rather than 2; When used with a mythic spell, non-mythic attempts to dispel or counter it suffer a -2 penalty. If a tenacious spell is dispelled, it lingers for 1d4 + 1/2 tier rounds. The latter, frankly, can be pretty OP, considering the average length of combats.

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 pretty cool magic feats here; there are several options herein I'd consider must-owns or at the very least neat scavenging material even beyond the mythic context. Fleeting Spell's balancing mechanics are glorious...but at the same time, Tenacious Spell's mythic iteration is problematic in my book. Hence, this does miss my seal of approval by a slight margin, making it clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 90: Intrigue Magic Feats
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Hybrid Class: Luminary
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2017 04:48:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 9 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The luminary class, chassis-wise, receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and also receives 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The luminary receives spontaneous spellcasting governed by Charisma, with maximum spell level being 6th. His spells are drawn from the mesmerist list.

The luminary's signature tool and skill set would be occult photography - they begin play with a camera obscura that requires access to an alchemist lab to properly clean and set up each day. This device only works for the respective luminary and its hardness increases over the levels. It can be repaired pretty easily and taking a photograph (including loading etc.) is a standard action. A regular photo generates a flash of harmless light in a 20 ft.-cone. The less harmless manipulations, however, can be used a number of times per day equal to character level + Charisma modifier. It should be noted that taken photographs are tracked separately - class level +ü Cha-mod of these may be taken at a given level.

Speaking of manipulations: The luminary can adjust the flash of the camera to inflict fire damage in the area affected, dealing 1d6 points of fire damage, +1 d6 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. As a swift action, the area of effect can be adjusted to instead affect a 20 ft.-long, 5 ft. wide line. The Ref-save to halve the damage scales with levels, following the 10 + 1/2 class level + Charisma mod-formula. 11th level increases the range to 30 ft. First level also nets hypnotic stare.

At 2nd level, the luminary receives a manipulation, basically the talents of the class - another one is gained every even level thereafter. These include energy substitutions for the aforementioned fire flash, making the camera double as a spyglass, making alchemical photographs (that double as potions), getting a kirlian camera-style aura lens...and, VERY cool from a tactical perspective, setting a timer for the camera, which opens up all types of cool tricks! Higher level manipulations make use of the belief that cameras capture your essence, inflicting Wisdom or Charisma drain. Short-range staggering that increases in severity over the levels, higher-level dispels via the flash...the array of manipulations is damn cool. Similarly, higher level luminaries may elect to take more photos in a given round, generate progressively more potent cloud-effects or learn mesmerist tricks that can be implanted via photographs. And yes, going Fatal Frame /project Zero on spirits (and even the living!) is very much possible! Heck yes!

The propensity for light and darkness also net the luminary darkvision at 2nd level alongside bonuses to saves. 3rd level nets bold stare, with every 4th level thereafter imposing further effects. Once again, a sufficient diversity of options can be found here. 4th level nets a scaling dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. The capstones, 4 of which are provided, contain attribute-bonuses, powerful scrying or even a phylactery-style Dorian Gray-photograph. The final option duplicates 1/day sympathy, which is not properly italicized in the text. It should also be noted that

As is the tradition with Purple Duck Games-classes, we receive a massive array of favored class options beyond the confines of the core races, including rarer races and those found within Porphyra. The favored class options presented are pretty neat. The feats contained herein extend beyond the default +x class feature uses and include longer lines when using the flash in lines, preparing the flash for increased DCs and limited daily use circular flashes in a 30 ft.-radius. Instant photography development and ranged feints can also be found here.

3 mundane pieces of equipment, the new photographer profession and considerations of the introduction of photography into a fantasy context further help making the insertion of the class as seamless as possible, with a sample CR 9 ratfolk luminary sample NPC closing the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, bordering on good, on a formal level. The rules-language, however, is pretty precise, even though imho an introductory sidebar explaining the difference of uses, photos, etc. would have made the class a bit easier to grasp - didactically, it could be simpler. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column color-standard, with the awesome cover art being the only one in the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

All right, before we begin, let me go on a slight tangent: Photography is a crucial part of our cultural development. There is a phenomenon called the "visual turn", which denotes photography as a paradigm shift in our development as a species. Beyond its depiction in Hawthorne's classic "House of the Seven Gables", daguerreotypes changed how we perceive the world and ultimately, our selves: Up to this point, only portraits and thus, the filter of art and patronage, was used to depict us, with mirrors being expensive. As such, the unflinching and harsh rendition of our as-is-status and the immediacy of the experience (in spite of early photography requiring a LOT of long sitting around sans moving) changed our focus; it was no longer the written word that held primacy of concepts - a single photo could convey a cornucopia of information. It also went hand in hand with the 3 grand insults to the human's ego, tying into the third of them - we are not only not masters of our own minds, we are also not masters of our perception.

The subjectivity of our own ways of seeing the world and the anxiety resulting from seeing in black and white an artifact of, ostensibly, a more precise reality, can directly be linked to the increasing prevalence in horror and ultimately, the dethroning of the concept of an observer's objectivity, while also establishing a hierarchy of power centered on the gaze that would later be instrumental in our reforms of the systems of law and punishment in general. Yes, the topic is very near and dear to my heart.

Anyways, the pdf, alas, uses "camera obscura" as a name woefully wrong; a camera obscura is basically a projector, a primitive form of cinema, if you will - the term was coined by Johannes Kepler, who btw. also noticed that our retinas receive an inverted and reversed picture of the world, which is subsequently realigned by our brain, but that as an aside. The camera obscura was, in essence, a farther developed take on the pinhole camera that shares several properties with the laterna magica.

While both Descartes and Locke used the camera obscura as a metaphor for human understanding and while its shape was later developed into that of a photographic camera, it is NOT, I repeat, NOT a photograph taking camera as we understand the term today. It is, however, correct that back in the day when daguerrotypy was invented, there were no terms for photographic cameras and the first of daguerrotypes were shot on what amounts to a camera obscura by the terms then employed. Utterly useless tangent for the functionality f the class? Perhaps - but it is still something I felt the need to clarify. Ähem, where was I?

Oh yes, the profane banalities of analyzing the PFRPG-class. Let me lower my brows and get rid of my pince-nez. Aaron Hollingsworth's luminary, from a design-perspective, is a well-made hybrid class in every sense of the word. The class employs complex mechanics in a cool combination and feels distinct and different from its parents. More amazingly, it indeed plays differently from both mesmerist and alchemist and has a concise identity that extends beyond the confines of either parent class. It is, in short, different than the sum of its parts, which renders it a success in my book. While the tangent above may sound like a stuck-up scholar's nerdrage (and it kinda is), that should in no way take away from the fact that this class manages to translate photography into gaming mechanics in a concise and well-presented manner that retains mechanical viability and relevance. In short, this is a very good hybrid class.

Granted, the editing could be tighter and similarly, the concept is not even close to being exhausted - the theme and engine provided practically demand expansion and can carry a vast amount of further tricks. In short - this is actually a hybrid class where I wished it had more room to shine and one where I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more. Oh, it is also, to my knowledge, the author's first book I analyzed and as such, it receives the freshman bonus. Let it be known that I am pretty impressed and hope to see more of this quality...and more luminary material. My final verdict for this class clocks in at 4.5 stars, and in spite of the hiccups, the verdict is rounded up to 5 due to the freshman bonus and the strength and execution of the concept.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Luminary
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