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Four Horsemen Present: Even More Horrifically Overpowered Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 12:29:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of the pdf, so let's take a look!

It's been a while since we had Horrifically Overpowered feats or options in a book, so, here's a quick history lesson: These options were crafted as an April's Fool's offering once, being broken by the very sentiment of their design, far eclipsing all of the tenets of what we expect from a feat's power - to the extent where one of these feats basically increases CR of a creature by at least 1. So no, even in the mythic context/direct comparison, they exceed power levels of mythic feats for the most part. They were designed as instant upgrades and super-level "who cares 'bout balance"-style gameplay...purportedly. You see, the thing is that Rogue Genius Games' Horrifically Overpowered feats have seen quite some use in my games for BBEGs, extra-high-powered one-shots and the like. Why? Because they still have some frame of reference.

It is a sad truth that I can mention several options out there that are less balanced than these feats. But I'm not here to embark on an epic rant; I'm here to take a look at this book. Anyways, so these feats are obviously horrifically overpowered and as such, can only be taken at the GM's discretion and should be restricted to very high-powered gameplay or used as a means to upgrade the often woefully underpowered villains in published modules.

Unless I have miscounted, the pdf contains a total of 35 such feats, collected for your convenience in a feat-table. The feats within, to give you an idea, begins with Army Fighting, which makes you immune to flanking (!!!) and even makes enemies not count as flanking you AND it does not mean autohit on natural 20s against you anymore. Oh, and foes can't aid each other against you. This feat pretty much perfectly encapsulates what I was getting at in the above: This is powerful as hell and the feat basically eliminates a significant assortment of builds and changes a basic truism of how the game works. At the same time, it lets you play basically Conan, Red Sonja or any Dynasty Warrior character jumping into the enemy lines.

Speaking of changing truisms: Clear Rage lets you still use Cha-, Int- and Dex-based checks and abilities while raging and eliminates the penalty to AC. On its own, this may no look bad, but give this to a decent optimizer and you'll see a devilish glimmer in his/her eyes...there's a reason for that. If you ever thought that barbs don't deal enough damage...allow this feat and wait what happens. What about a full-blown sorc-bloodline or domain? Expansion of smite evil to all chaotic and evil creatures with bonuses versus CE foes (and antipala variant)? Yep. Adding familiar benefits to the animal companion (or vice versa)? OUCH! What about two bardic music effects in play at a given time?

That being said, the pdf does offer one series of feats which will actually see play in quite a few games that contain powerful races far beyond the potency of the core races, the so-called paragon feats. Grognards will appreciate them as well. Why? Well, the dwarven feat nets you immunity to poison, SR 11 + HD (or +5 to SR). Eleven Paragon makes you immune versus enchantment, nets you sight 4 times as good as that of a human and eliminates range penalty to Perception and makes you immortal, negating all age-penalties. Super-crafter gnomes that can attempt Craft and Profession as though they had HD ranks and are immune to illusions. These feats basically represent the more powerful takes on the core races and can bring them up to that insane multi-headed and armed ooze-thing your fellow player wanted to make.

There are some options I wouldn't employ, regardless of the power of the game, at least for PCs - Fluid Style would be one such feat: It lets you enter the stance of ANY fighting style of a style feat...any style feat, even ones you don't know. Oh, and switching styles? Free action. Yeah...I can see the uses, but this one most certainly should not fall into player hands in most campaigns. Instant crafting of magic items (1 day) can make sense in some games.

DR and Immunity versus damage types at the expense of vulnerabilities can be found alongside gaining bonuses to atk versus foes after missing them and even potential crits after several misses - this looks like a cool houserule for some games that emphasize cinematic action. There also is a crazy prepared feat (not the best I've seen - the concept can be done sans being OP) and an option to dismiss non-dismissable spells and change the precise type of spell cast - e.g. changing the fire shield employed.

If that doesn't yet sound too amazing - let me present Meld: A teamwork feat that lets you and your allies combine into a gestalt entity, which is pretty cool...with one complaint: I think presenting a mechanic on which player gets to do what would have been more than helpful here. Another feat nets you. As a minor nitpick, Permanency could use a slightly cleaner wording: The feat nets you a spell or spell-like ability with a duration permanent...which could be read to include the "Duration: Instantaneous" spells it obviously was intended to exclude when "non-instantaneous" would have made it watertight and airproof, but it's still clear enough.

Speaking of "clearer wording" -Stubborn has a troubling sentence in its wording: "You ignore any potentially negative effects of failing a skill check." Does this extend to Acrobatics, Climb, etc.? Anyways, this probably would be one feat I'd disallow in ALL of my games, no matter how ridiculously high-powered I'd go, but if you really have players that deal badly with failing, even failing forward, this may be for you. Still, even in the Horrifically Overpowered context, I consider this one OP.

In case the above have not made that clear, both Super Strength (massive Str-boost) and Super Speed (+ 1 move action) should make clear that the power-level here is appropriately off the charts - this book's theme is basically superhero style gameplay with the PFRPG-engine.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to RGG's 2-column full-color standard with solid stock art. The pdf has bookmarks, but only for the table and basics, no individual bookmarks for the feats.

Stephen Rowe's feats herein fall in basically two categories - takes on old-school gaming style for Pathfinder (which ends up increasing the power significantly!) or superhero style gameplay. The latter features some minor hiccups here and there, though none are grating and I'm not too fond of all options, there is bound to be some serious usefulness for some groups and GMs out there. The powerlevel remains, with some minor exceptions internally consistent within the design paradigms; when compared to the totality of feats herein and already in existence, there are some that transcend what we know from these feats...but then again, you're reading a review of a book that blatantly states its intent in the very title. How to rate this, then? Well, I do like this pdf, but I have seen master Rowe handle things slightly better in the past; as a whole, this is a good pdf, bordering on the great, but slightly short of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Even More Horrifically Overpowered Feats
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Lost Lore: The Headhunter
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 12:27:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The headhunter as depicted herein is a 10-level prestige class that grants 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progressions, d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and can be qualified for at 5th level. The first important aspect here pertains the fact that carrying carrion heads around does not really always go over well - a sidebar deals with the cultural implications and what happens when you e.g. carry a foe's head to a creature. After severing a defeated foe's head, the headhunter may select one of the creature's class or special abilities, extraordinary or supernatural abilities, feats (regardless of prerequisites), but sans spells "growth points" or abilities that summon creatures. This ability may be used once as a standard action and if an ability has an indefinite duration, it instead lasts character level rounds. A total of 1/2 class level (minimum 1) heads may be carried around. Weird - the ability suddenly mentions a Craft (taxidermy) check, when no such check was rolled upon harvesting the head, making me thing that something went wrong here - the ability should specify making the roll not only in the example, but also in the ability itself before suddenly mentioning it. 2nd level nets Cha-mod times /day gentle repose. 6th level unlocks ant haul as an SP.

Starting at 3rd level and every other level thereafter, the PrC may take a headhunter secret - these include a +1 bonus to Intimidate checks per head carried. Others unlock undead heads as viable targets or the option to make use of spells or SPs as if a scroll or use it in conjunction with spontaneous are prepared spellcasting, which can be pretty powerful. Using the head as a bane weapon versus the social group associated (table by size included) or gain a severed head familiar. Weird: The class is generally spell-progression-less, but mentions the head acting as a familiar sans specifying the familiar-progression. Also odd: Formatting is different for that secret when compared to the others. The head is created by applying a template included in the pdf (including sample head). Head-weights are btw. provided.

At 4th level, the headhunter may carve (with another Craft-skill) primitive bone rings that grant CR temporary hit points to the wearer. 8th level nets the ability to make skull masks that duplicate skull masks. As a capstone, the Craft (taxidermy)-result no longer depicts the number of days a given head lasts. At 10th level, the headhunter may share the benefits of heads with allies via skull cups.

Really odd - the class features a total of 7 abilities that I think are headhunter secrets - oddly, though, they have a different formatting than the first secrets provided. These include transferring heads to animal companions or cohorts and another one has a bardic performance granted per head. Also odd: A secret that allows the headhunter to use a "Skill as if it was a class or racial ability" - what is this supposed to mean? Oh, and one secret makes heads last as long as they do by the base ability, longer when kept dry and vermin-free, making the secret useless at 10th level.

The pdf also features archetypes: The face-marking warrior is broken as hell: "When a barbarian would normally gain a rage power, he may instead select the abilities of a foe slain within the last year that does not require an action to activate and gains the ability during rage." ARGH. This is so horribly broken, I'm not going to dignify the archetype with anything else. Broken. Next.

The Head-taker archetype replaces the 2nd level bonus feat with the option to incur a -4 penalty to atk and incur an AoO to perform an attack that deals 1d4 rounds of sickening; on a crit, the ability also deals 1d6 points of damage to ALL mental attributes AND staggers the foes. WTF. Next.

The Mystery of the Head's revelation has some abilities that could use an activation action, but also has the extremely evocative trick of removing a victim's head, keeping the head alive...which is pretty awesome. Also cool: The capstone lets you take off your head! Yes, this, while having only limited use as a player, is a cool ability to scavenge. The head-shrinker shaman can use shrunken heads to counterspell, with the slain foe's CR acting as caster level for the dispel attempt and gains a severed head familiar. Torques of Blade Turning prevent decapitation and head-severing effects...but does that extend to granting immunity to vorpal weapons? No idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are uncharacteristically jumbled for Frog God Games - there seems to be something seriously wrong with the head hunters formatting, to the point where it impedes the functionality of the PrC. Layout adheres to FGG's two-column full-color standard and the pdf has a neat b/w-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jeff Erwin's headhunter, alas, is a mess. In case you haven't noticed - the PrC and the mechanics herein are based upon the deeply flawed called shots system, but lack the mechanical precision and scope to make the content really work. The material isn't horrible and in fact, very flavorful, but it is all over the place. Synergy with classes exceedingly unlikely to take the PrC (per se nice, but only when the bases are all covered!), internal balance between secrets all over the place, flawed formatting, confused presentation. And then there would be the fact that, beyond the called shot-based issue, the pdf also falls on its face regarding the balancing and proper codification of abilities stolen from vanquished foes; one-use makes them potentially OP and the pdf fails to specify how that works with feats. Additionally, the sheer wide-open nature sans detailed notes of codifying abilities render this wide open to PGing and GM ruling. This does not mean that it doesn't work - it just means that it doesn't work even near the level of precision I expect from a crunch-supplement, no matter how flavorful and cool the abilities are. It is the ambition and flavor of these abilities and the scavenging potential are the saving graces of this pdf. My final verdict clocks in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: The Headhunter
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ASA:AIW: Down The Rabbit Hole 5E
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/21/2016 12:23:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second module in the Wonderland-inspired series of mini-modules for the youngest gamers clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. Young 'uns - sneaking a peek here can spoil your fun - don't do it, okay?

...

..

.

All right, so the PCs have chased the white rabbit through the forest in #1 and this module begins as the players fall down the rabbit hole...wait, no, they are not...they basically are floating, with no means of propulsion and the sides of the tunnel too far away to reach. As the PCs ponder their predicament, a blue dictionary will float over...you know, it's hungry and wants to be fed with words from A - Z. This little vocab test, including an Intelligence or Wisdom check to help them for the more difficult words, is a fun start. Then, things get more difficult with the letter "I": The next array of words needs to have the letter AND two syllables. Once the PCs reach "R", they will have to work backwards from Z to S. Oh, and the read-aloud text of the dictionary is intended to be sung to "Pop goes the Weasel" and rhymes appropriately. And yes, I had to look the tune up. XD

As the party finally floats down, they will reach a table with a drink and a cake...and we all know what these do, right? But there's a twist: A) If the PCs are itching for a fight, the table will happily oblige. And B), the doors open to show the peek-a-boo - a unique monster that has the proper key to pass...and it teleports to other doors when the PCs try to take it from its mouth. Here, multiple strategies help: Making the creature laugh, guarding doors, using logic, making it cry - oh, and the module does use this chance to teach the players about using attribute checks to determine information about creatures - which, however, sports a minor hiccup - it refers to Intelligence (Lore), which should probably be (History) or (Nature) instead.

Bypassing the friendly creature in this game concludes the adventure for now and should see the PCs reach level 2.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues apart from aforementioned little hiccup. Layout adheres to Playground Adventures' beautiful two-column full-color standard with Cheshire Cat on top and all. The pdf's art is sparse, but similarly child-friendly. Spells etc. are hyperlinked to the PRD for your convenience. In spite of the module's brevity, it features bookmarks - nice. This time around, the module has no cartography, but it doesn't really need maps for the encounters herein.

J Gray's second Adventures in Wonderland-module is more rewarding than the first: Where the first module focused its efforts via a boardgame-like playing field on teaching the very basics of roleplaying, this one focuses a bit more on the actual roleplaying aspect and problem-solving skills of the kids that play it. This renders the module more palatable for older kids as well. The content herein is btw. appropriate for kids ages 4 and up (with my suggestion being that players ages 8+ will probably start having less fun with this due to its cute tone) and even the most scaredycat, sensitive child will not be frightened by this one; this is pretty much the definition of wholesome and harmless, with literally each encounter focusing on unobtrusive engagement of the mental faculties of kids rather than just rolling the dice and defeating foes. Even the optional combat is not something anyone would consider problematic.

So yes, this very much achieves its goal; it has versatile challenges, nice visuals and is a fun romp. My one complaint would be that a hard-mode version for the challenges would have been nice for particularly smart kids, but then again, one can easily improvise the like on the fly, based on the material that is provided here. (The syllable angle can be easily expanded; I had them actually spell the words...but only do that if the kids are already reading a lot and capable of spelling...you know your audience best, GM!)

So, how to rate this? As mentioned, I consider this to be better than the first module and while older kids won't have as much fun with this as the young ones, for the target demographic, this is awesome indeed. The unobtrusive educational angle's here and the locations are unique. The small hiccup and the fact that the conversion of the creatures is a bit more conservative than I like is all that costs this version the seal of approval, leaving me with still a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ASA:AIW: Down The Rabbit Hole 5E
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Lost Lore: Eminent Domains
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 05:58:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, domains - in theory, they are supposed to depict a certain theological focus for the respective deities and their servants; in practice, that does not translate too well, though. There are subdomains and Rogue Genius Games' exalted domains as a means to further emphasize particular concepts. This pdf features a different, multi-pronged approach to the subject matter - in short, there are 3 feats: Domain Affinity grants you an at-will SP as part of preparing a given domain spell. As soon as you cast the respective domain spell, you lose the SP, rewarding players for not casting the domain spell at once - which is a pretty cool idea, considering how these spells usually are pretty powerful when compared to the standard list. Here's the thing - the options gained actually are pretty intriguing! Characters with the air domain, for example, can, for as long as they retain the ability to cast obscuring mist, cause a creature within 60 ft. to move to an adjacent square on a failed save, potentially moving allies or foes - but, to retain balance, sans provoking AoOs. Generating an arbitrary symmetry in the actions of opponents, heating the feet of foes. The effects here are varied, creative and cool.

The second feat would be Domain Channel, which provides a variety of effects - unlike e.g. Rite Publishing's Divine Channeler or variant channeling, the respective benefits are more varied: For one, a domain has an automatic benefit: E.g. divine channeling by clerics with the Fire domain lets you suspend ongoing fire damage or fire/heat damage for a number of rounds equal to the channel dice. Now here is where the abilities get awesome - not only does the general framework manage to keep the complex rules-operation flawless, channelers with this feat may exchange channel dice for effects - each of the domains features effects for 1, 2 or 4 dice to be exchanged. Good clerics could e.g. make all evil targets glowing evil for one die as though seen through detect evil. For 2 dice, you can generate an anti-evil somewhat sanctuary-like bubble. For 4 dice, you may add a bonus to atk and checks made against evil targets, with bonus depending on aura-strength. The benefits provided here add fun flexibility and resource-management to the channel mechanic beyond anything I've seen so far and does so with panache, elegance and no fear of complex concepts.

Finally, Domain Loyalty allows you to gain a unique benefit governed by the domain whenever you only prepare domain spells from the domain. These include airy rivulets that can carry objects and keep them in easy reach, gaining minor benefits (with a flexible choice) when provoking an AoO and similarly unique tricks.

These feats are NOT the end, though - the pdf also sports 3 spells: Fast Favor (1st), Borne for Battle (2nd) and Battle Benediction (3rd). The first two spells are personal, while the third can affect a creature touched. Like the feats, each of these spells has a completely unique effect for the respective domains: Fast Favor for the air domain, lets you blast with agile jumps around, while borne for battle adds bull rush to attacks. Finally, battle benediction even nets you an extra 5-foot-step and manages to get the complex rules-operation required right.

Oh, but that's not all: The domains featured here also have a variant holy/unholy water included - earth, for example, nets a gunk that causes those that step inside to treat any terrain as difficult terrain. Patient coals wherein the embers still smolder can also be found here alongside black and white standardized sand.

But what domains are covered? Good, Evil, Chaos, Law, Air, Earth, Fire and Water.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard for the series, with nice, original b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort detriment.

Uhrgh, another domain-book? To say that I was not excited for this would be a serious understatement. Well, guess what - this is absolutely glorious. Hal Maclean's eminent domains are precise, varied and add whole new tactical dimensions to the domains, rendering them more distinct and exciting - the options provided are varied, fun and brilliant. They do not cut corners, use no cookie-cutter designs and use rules in a creative, fun manner.

...and my one complaint here is that we need more. In fact, I want ALL domains covered with this simple, elegant and fun system. This is an unexpectedly awesome pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval. We need sequels. That's right: Plural.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Eminent Domains
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Mythic Magic: Occult Spells
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 05:55:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page of SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this mythic upgrade for the glorious occult spells with an alphabetic list of the spells, including hyperlinks, before going into the spell descriptions. The upgrades of the respective occult spells to mythic levels of power follow by now well-established standards - analyze aura allows for instant information on auras, for example. Apport Animal increases the distance it can travel and extends the target creatures to Small or smaller animals. The mythic iteration of bilocation allows for the 5th tier augment to increase the action array available at the character's disposal.

The more unique spells also feature some interesting tricks - create mindscape lets you choose slow or rapid time, interacting well with the cool concept. Mindscapes can also be detected with the respective spell through divination-blocking effects. Longer durations, increased chances of getting useful information via grave words...some solid upgrades here. Mythic mind swap's allows for decreased duration self-bind after a swap and then reverse the swap at a moment's notice, adding a cool tactical dimension to the spell. Better object possession and possessing objects that kill you reflexively feel frickin' occult and damn cool!

Remaining only stunned while using psychic image, using psychic surgery to aid in retraining...very cool. One of my favorites, though, would be withdraw affliction, now with the option to hold the affliction in your hand and hurl it at foes...or use mythic power to make them traps or use them more often, spreading curses. Absolutely glorious!

Now, psychic spellcasting does have some peculiarities -in case you were wondering, undercast psychic spells can be mythic, but is always treated like the lower-level version. Mythic psychic spells can only be undercast as mythic spells when the character knows the lower-level mythic spell. Spontaneous psychic spellcasters that choose to lose an earlier version of a spell that can be undercast, the mythic spellcaster can no longer cast a mythic or augmented version of that lower-level spell. And yes, Mythic Spell Lore works just like for arcane and divine spells. The different scaling psychic spells tend to share a mythic version regarding effects, which means that augments there sometimes are limited to the version they work for; still, I would have preferred different augments within the sequences. That. may just be me, though.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches herein. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and features some nice full-color pieces of artwork, though fans of Legendary Games will know a couple of them from previous publications. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson, Amanda Hamon Kunz and Jonathan H. Keith deliver a more than solid take on mythic, occult spellcasting - formally, there is not much to complain here, particularly considering the increased difficulty of designing both with occult and mythic spells. I am a huge fan of Occult Adventures as a book, as you may have noticed - I love the aesthetics, rules, focus - everything about this book is awesome in one way or another. If anything, my only gripe with this pdf is that I would have loved this pdf to make slightly more use of the unique ideas of the hardcover. That being said, there is genius and evocative material herein alongside more conventional designs. My final verdict hence will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Occult Spells
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Lost Lore: Schools of Thought
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/20/2016 05:53:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is this? In short, these are wizard schools, not organized by spell school, but instead by theme; they otherwise work just like the regular arcane schools, including opposed schools that need to be chosen, etc. The schools thus introduced would be commercial, court wizard, entertainer, hedge wizard, investigator, lord, mentor, mystic. Beyond the spell-lists provided for the respective schools, there is some guidance for GMs to integrate spells in these schools, which include the rule of fun/pun - the associated spell-lists, thus, do make sense and generally are rather well-constructed.

The schools follow interesting paradigms - one would be one that can be explained via the commercial school: The base ability allows you to use detect magic to determine the value of items. Starting at 5th level, the school allows for the suppressing of magical item abilities - as a minor complaint, the mechanic here uses an opposed caster level check, which is uncommon for PFRPG and not something I fancy too much due to the swingy nature of opposed rolls. Said suppressed spell may be prepared by the mage, with higher levels unlocking progressively more powerful magical items to be thus manipulated. Intriguing - the school can generate a slow bolt that becomes faster if the target does not keep his distance and 8th level allows you to booby trap items. The abilities, even in cases where I do not 100% love the specific execution, the abilities are not lame, boring or uncreative - they utilize complex tricks and let the wizards do things not otherwise possible, which is a big plus for me.

Court Wizards let the caster add aid another to the recipients of spells, even at range and another one, allows the respective wizard to use his magical force to move targets out of harm's way and, at 8th level, exalt allies with flexible bonuses. Entertainer wizards can generate magical, nonlethal damage causing streams of rotten fruit or, at 8th level, generate a kind of illusory spotlight, which is pretty cool. Hedge Wizards are problematic - you can prepare spells with random numeric variables and affect them to deliver minimum results...but with a Spellcraft check, the spell is not expended. I am not a fan of this one, since it allows for infinite spellcasting of petty spells. An increasing DC would have helped here, as would a check that is not as easily maxed as a skill. That being said, I do like the option to enhance cantrips or endow magic in mundane items for other characters to use and while I disagree with the particular rules-solution here, it at least is precise.

The Investigator school is cool, allowing for better interrogation of targets or the addition of trailing acidic paint to targets is cool. Oh, and the school has the means to capture foes alive and bind them into nonmagical items that then grant bonuses to the wizard! Yeah, that can be spun in really nasty or really benevolent ways...cool!

Lords are all about controlling targets, coaxing them into action and leech power off them -you get the idea. Mystics of 8th level can suppress mind-affecting effects and, as a whole, I really like the creativity the respective schools did exhibit here, from the teacher's role of the mentor to the other ones - there is merit to be found in all of them -so kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice, original b/w-artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a slight comfort-detriment.

Hal MacLean's schools of thought are intriguing. While there are some components I disagree with in their respective execution and some minor bits here and there that could be slightly more precise and while adding other spells to the schools is a bit of work, the schools do provide unique options and playing experiences, which is a pretty big thing for me. At the same time, this does mean that the pdf is harder to employ and requires some work for the GM to use in the long run.

While not perfect and slightly more work than I like to see, as a whole, this is a creative and fun offering well worth of a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lost Lore: Schools of Thought
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Creature Components Vol 1
Publisher: Playground Adventures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/05/2016 21:11:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 58 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page inside of front cover, 3 pages of detailed ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 50 pages of raw content, so let’s take a look!

This book has been moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review. I actually have had quite some time to digest the pre-release version (with only layout missing) and tried to get the review done before my trip. Alas, there were some delays and thus, the final version only hit sites after my departure. I do have a policy to cover only finalized books with proper reviews, though, and thus, I did the only thing I could – sit down and type away at this review whenever I had the chance – in the evenings, after a long drive; in the breaks; when my lady was at the wheel. I don’t have my laptop with me, so please bear with me regarding any glitches/typos. This is pretty much the raw on-the-road edition of reviewing. ;)

All right, that out oft he way, this begins with a flavortext in character that renders the book a nice read – and the flavortext, at least form e, has a touching component, but let me elaborate. Once in a while, Rite Publishing’s late mastermind Steven D. Russell would go one step above and beyond in his 101-series. Sometimes, he would deliver a book of raw creative potency that blew even the generally very high standard oft he series away – this book is, in dedication and also in flavortext, a nod to his creativity and person, as it employs the proper appellations and nomenclature; in a way, this book is a take on his concept of power components and special materials, a book he never had the time to write, but always wanted to.

So what are these components? Well, there is a disjunction in d20-based roleplaying I never was too comfortable with – said disjunction would exist between the huge diversity of critters that exist fort he game we all love and cherish and the non-information; nay, the sheer mundane nature of how their vanquishing is handled. Think of Sigfried/Sigurðr – bathing in dragon’s blood rendered him nigh-unstoppable. Think of Hercules and his golden fleece; of the medusa’s head; oft he basilisk’s blood and the manticore‘s stinger; think of a wyvern’s poison…think of all the hundreds of glorious remnanty of fantastical creatures our own mythology has bequeathed upon us…so why in all hell is defeating such foes so mundane in Pathfinder and similar systems? Where is the gravitas, the „realism“, the magic? The components used herein elevate defeated foes from being simply collections of XP with a mechanical coating. The pdf does this in a variety of ways, so let’s examine them.

Number one would be the use as optional power components – using a component to enhance a spell. Number two would be to aid the creation of magical items…but before the components can be used in any way, they have to be harvested. A simple table and guidelines, with CR as guideline and associated prices provided, does offer a massive help for any prospective GM who wants to add a slew of Geralt of Riva’s fantasy aesthetics to the game. Beyond even that, essence vials for capturing parts of ephemeral creatures and the willing gift of components is covered herein as well. Concise guidelines are provided to help the GM handling creature components in a given game.

For purposes of spellcasting enhancement, the pdf provides several broad categories that help classifying the components and their effects on spellcasting – and yes, they do take into account the variety of prepared vs. Spontaneous spellcasting, as just one example; optional, GM-controlled downsides for grittier games are mentioned as well and using items to modify magic items or reduce the cost of creation provide a truly concise and comprehensive framework to make the process as smooth as possible: A GM who wants to steer his group towards a certain module that features foes the PCs are reluctant to engage can thus easily employ these components a spart oft he treasure of even main objective: In order to break through defensive dweomer XYZ, you will need that ettercap’s silk-spinnerts…

So, this would be the basic framework the pdf offers – sufficient to generate a ton of material and ideas for adventures, for whole campaigns, even. However, the main meat oft he book does not lie within the general, but nevertheless interesting guidelines presented thus far – no, it lies in the massive catalog of components featured thereafter: we basically take the first Pathfinder bestiary and its creatures and provide components for them. Andy es, aasimars are included; and no, you can’t „milk“ these fellows- the non-abuse/GM-control clauses in the general section make sure of that and even provide a reasonable justification in the spiritual component required for these items to work. Trust me, it makes sense as featured in this book.

Anyways, we begin with aasimar blood, which can add Flaring Spell’s effects to any spell with a light-descriptor. If you’d expect now a one creature, one component breakdown oft he material herein, you’d be surprised to realize that there is often more than one component provided – aboleth mucus and cerebral fluid are included as two components, for example; similarly, while angel blood does have general properties, the individual creatures and their vital fluids actually offer different tricks fort he discerning user. The modifications often feature metamagic effects or a cost reduction; however, it would be a gross and unjust miss-characterization of this book to only expect cookie-cutting effects; quite the contrary, actually.

Let’s stay with „A“ for a second and talk about the ankhegs, some of my favorite critters; Their saliva, when used to cast a spell with an acid-descriptor, increases the damage-die type by one step (max 1d12); however, when used to enhance a spell of 3rd level or lower, the user also becomes immune to acid damage for 1 round upon casting the spell, adding a brand new tactical dimension to the casting. How is such a component presented? Well, we have an alphabetical listing, with the general potency (as introduced before), component class (think oft hat as the type oft he component) and spell that can be augmented noted; similarly, prices have been provided. Whether you employ balor essence or horn makes a significant difference in use, for example, though both are components with a potency of greater. Want to enhance a spell or effect that causes the nauseated or sickened condition? Hezrou sweat is the way to go! Replacing caused diseases with devil’s chills? Possible. If you add mimic spittle to spells that grant DR or an increase to touch AC, you may also increase the CMB for grapple purposes…well, I could go on like this forever. Basically, this book takes the essences of creatures and codifies them in a quasi-alchemical component system that makes the creatures feel more…well, alive. Believable.

Speaking of which, notice how I mentioned that the x-blooded races would be kept in check to avoid the abuse of harvesting components? Beyond feats that build on the system presented herein, there also are feats that allow a character with a certain bloodline to properly harvest his own blood, but thankfully with a proper cap.

This is, however, not even close to the totality of what this book offers – in the spirit of „waste not what you’ve killed“, the book also features a significant plethora of magic items based on components as well as variants of existing ones reimagined within the framework of this book; suddenly, the cloak of resistance is no longer the most boring magic item ever, but „the item we made from that owlbear that almost killed Yorvan“ – but beyond that, e.g. a remorhaz forge deserves special mention…sans fuel, fantastic…and absolutely stunning to look at. Look at? Well, guess what? This is the first Playground Adventures book not specifically targeted at a younger audience and oh boy, it is BEAUTIFUL. As in „Usually, we only see that in Kickstarters“ level of beautiful. The component section features several quasi-anatomical renditions that evoke the spirit oft he classic Vetruvian man and real life bestiaries. (In case you didn’t know – in less enlightened times and long before even daguerreotypes were a thing, cataloging of creatures both mundane and fantastical was done in such tomes.) In the item-section, the artistic style is deliberately changed to provide renditions of many oft he items included in stunning full-color; and we’re talking about the same quality as the cover. Yeah. This book is BEAUTIFUL.

But I digress – note how I mentioned the famous Sigfried myth? Well, in the end, even some special properties may be modified…so yes, actually using dragon’s blood to enhance your armor will yield results…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups and, considering the length of this book, that is quite a feat. Layout adheres to a gorgeous 2-column full-color standard that blends well with the aforementioned glorious art-direction of this book: Jocelyn Sarvida’s art complements BJ Hensley’s layout really well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with individual bookmarks for all critters, making navigation really comfortable.

Daniel Marshall’s books so far have always had the right creative spark, but stumbled somewhere along the line; I’m not sure if the development by Stephen Rowe or just a natural growth as a designer or both are responsible…but guess what?

THIS IS AMAZING. Congratulations are in order!

Know how I always complain about fantasy feeling mundane? About the fact that we have these tropes of requiring some unique components, but no mechanical representation? Well, this is it. This is the book fort he GMs who are tired of monsters that just feel like mechanics; the book fort he groups that want to craft their own equipment; the groups that want it to matter what kind of foes they defeated; this is the book fort he Geralt of Riva fans; this is the book for all the groups who want to play rare/low magic and make the defeat of those mighty foes matter. The book fort he collectors, the scavengers, the groups that want an unicorn’s gift horn and self-sacrifice matter; that want devil’s blood to have repercussions; that want a touch of our myths, our fantastic tropes in the game. This is a book fort he fans oft he occult that want their fantasy to feel real. While feasible for any system, particularly fans of darker fantasy will consider this book a must own purchase.

In case you were wondering - the above all, in some extent or another, holds true for me. This book is a touching monument, a great tribute and beyond that, it frankly is one inspiring tome. Honestly, even before all the „OMG, it is so beautiful“-artwork and layout, I read the plain ole‘ doc and was grinning from ear to ear; to be honest, it’s one reason I managed to sit down after hundreds of miles at the wheel, dead tired and write this.

I wanted to draw attention to this gem. Immediately. This book is a fantastic resource for groups of all ages, for various games; it is an exceptional resource that very much will become a default staple in pretty much all of my games once I return home. There is a chance you just want to kill things and their names and flavor don’t matter to you; perhaps you’re fine with just nameless, mass-produced cloaks of resistance – that’s fine, I don’t judge. But you’re missing out on something wonderful.

I will always prefer the item with the story, the personal attachment. I will always adore the smart caster from our novels, the one who has the component tool to modify his spell in unique ways. This book provides all of that. It may be a crunch book, but it, like the late scribe Russell’s offerings, is a great read and manages to inspire.

So please, please, please – if what I mentioned above even slightly resonates with you, take a look at this, buy this and support Playground Adventures so weg et more. I know that I can’t wait for Vol. II and hopefully a lot, lot more – this is very much the innovative,game-enhancing crunch book we need. To paraphrase Saint-Exupéry, this book is very much the spirit breathing upon the clay oft he mechanics to create more soul for both items, magic and creatures. There is narrative potential for years in the system presented here and I absolutely love it to bits. This book is stellar and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, is a candidate for my top ten of 2016 and receives the EZG Essentials-tag.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creature Components Vol 1
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The Assassin: A Modular, Momentum Maneuvers Base Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:55:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base class, commissioned via Interjection Games' patreon by Brandon Funderburgh, clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages, so let's take a look!

An assassin-class? Another one? Why would anyone care? Well, there IS a reason and this one was crafted by Bradley Crouch, so I'll expect something rather unique here...so please continue reading. What does the assassin class get?

Chassis-wise, the class gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-save progression and proficiency with simple weapons, blade boot, hand crossbow, katana, kukri, rapier, sap, scimitar, short sword, shortbow (including composite), shuriken and wakizashi as well as light armor. The class begins play with sneak attack +1d6 and increases sneak attack damage by +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter. As a minor nitpick, the table lacks the "+" before sneak attack, but is at least consistent in that regard. 2nd level nets evasion, just fyi.

The first defining aspect of the assassin class would be assassin techniques - the class begins play with 4 of them and learns a new one each level, up to 23 at 20th level. Techniques have two categories, "hot" and "cold" techniques and a save Dc of 10 + 1/2 class level + Int-mod, if applicable. Unless stated otherwise, only one technique per round may be executed. Hot techniques interact with Presence: An assassin begins play with the ability to exploit emotions and instinctive reflexes of targets - and uses them to accomplish deeds otherwise impossible. When a non-allied creature approaches within 60 feet of the assassin, the creature gains a presence pool, which can hold a maximum of 4 presence points and the pools are lost when a creature leaves the 60 ft. range for the assassin's Cha-mod minutes. Techniques modify the presence pool and can increase or decrease the presence pool of the creature in question. Thus, hot techniques have a presence source, which is usually single target (affecting the presence pool of a single foe); the more fantastic techniques have a certain presence required and they sport a presence change that modifies the presence points of the affected foe.

In contrast to hot techniques, cold techniques do NOT modify the presence pool and instead modify the assassin's technique pool. The assassin gains technique pool points equal to class level + Int-mod. These points replenish after 8 hours. These cold techniques ignore the presence required and presence change entries. They are paid from the technique pool and cost a number of points equal to the presence change. Finally, there are "lukewarm" techniques that may be executed as either hot or cold techniques. If that sounds complicated, rest assured that it really isn't once you've read the pdf.

Each of the two technique types also has 4 categories, which could be likened to schools - for hot techniques, we get acupressure, execution, initiation and magehunting, while cold techniques encompass infiltration (not properly italicized), intuition and poison. A system of this versatility does look like it could suffer from not having the necessary ease of building, but the class has a total of 5 universal techniques hard-wired in the class: At 1st level, studying a target can net you a presence change (and this one can be used in conjunction with other techniques). Later, creatures with HD equal to 1/2 assassin HD or less, you may reduce the presence pool of such a foe down to 0 and net you a temporary technique pool against the target, allowing for relatively quick dispatching of mooks. At 8th level, at the end of your turn, a nearby creature with 0 presence gets +1 presence (at 20th level all creatures are affected). 12th level lets you reduce a target's presence to 0, but also execute + 1 technique this round and 14th level nets you a luck bonus versus creatures with a presence pool that increases at 18th level.

As always, we get favored class options for aasimar, drow, hobgoblins, kitsune, kobold, orc, puddling, tiefling, vanara, vishkanya and core races and the class comes with almost 20 new feats for the class - beyond the obligatory increase of the technique pool, the feats allow for absolutely impressive, creative operations: Adding presence to adjacent foes after using an execution technique, retaining more stolen spells spells, spells as SPs... but there is more to be found: For example teaching an ally technique pools and the basics of assassination for 24 hours! Absolutely awesome and may be expanded! Gaining the option to add presence in surprise rounds is neat indeed. Have I mentioned gaining an infiltration technique. These feats allow for unique gambits, daily limit tricks, passive and active tricks - all in all an inspired set-up!

So, let's take a look at the technique lists! Structure-wise, we have the majority of techniques sans prerequisites, level 4, 6 and 8 as further prerequisite-levels and the techniques are listed by specialization and prereq-level in handy tables for your convenience. Let's start with the hot techniques: Acupressure techniques allow you to cause foes to drop objects, deafen or blind them or force them to move - basically, it takes all those cool chakra control and acupressure tropes we know from Easterns, WuXia movies and anime and codifies them as cool tricks.

Execution is awesome as well - Take the eponymous execute technique: It requires 4 presence, but deals damage to the target equal to the damage taken so far, max 1d6 per level, allowing you to finish off critters with awesome precision. I have never seen an ability that takes this concept actually work - here it does. Impressive. Nasty debuffs, bleeding wounds and adding feints combine brutal end-game attacks and set-ups. Awesome and absolutely glorious. Initiation allows for sniping: Instant throwing knives, disarming shots...oh, and what about hitting a target and then causing its actions to damage the target? That is mechanically intriguing and the sniping tricks work perfectly for Hitman-style assassins - get your inner 47 on!

Magehunting is similarly awesome and something I mentioned before: Spell-pilfering, penalized CLs, better saves, making homunculi from mages slain (!!!), dispel magic or copy spells you saved against - this one technique officially makes the assassin my favorite take on the anti-mage killer/ (slightly) arcane trickster trope ever.

Cold techniques are nothing to sneeze at either: Quicker movement, instant Kip Up, leaping through difficult terrain, walking up walls, blending with crowds: Infiltration makes you the badass secret agent/killer the assassin should be.

Once again taking the tropes of the Eastern/WuXia/tropes associated with mystic assassins, Intuition is all about preternatural awareness with lie detector tricks by touch, store d20s to later use (and even share with allies) - the tricks here go far beyond what we usually see and are creative, different and simply impressive. Finally, poison specialization autogrants poison mixology, which nets you daily, highly customable poisons as a basic framework that is used by all techniques, featuring additional doses, the option to drink poisons to heal (!!!) and squirt it from your eyeballs (!!!!) at foes. Making lethargic liquids to impose increasingly powerful conditions on foes...absolutely amazing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some formal hiccups, these never impede the rules-language, which is impeccably precise, as we've come to expect from Bradley Crouch. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports solid stock art. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, but does not feature bookmarks for the individual techniques.

OH MY GAWD. Sorry, I can't contain myself here. I read this and liked it. I tested it and loved it. I picked it apart and truly adored it. I saw it and thought "Great, yet ANOTHER assassin class." Don't be fooled. I am NOT kidding when I'm saying that:

A) This plays incredibly well, allowing for all the things that assassins were always supposed to do. B) From all the classes and takes on the concept I know of, none even comes remotely close to this class in versatility and, more importantly, in the category of fun. C) I have literally not seen about 90% of the tricks this class has before, and when I have seen one before, it was usually the one truly impressive trick of a class, not one among the vast numbers of unique options.

The momentum and point engines interact absolutely beautifully and the math framework is a beauty to behold if you pen it down: You have the passives, the set-ups, the daily tricks, a vast assortment of customization feats and, on a whole, truly different focuses in the specializations - each of them alone can make for glorious playing experiences, but mixing and matching is even cooler. With a ton of options in combat and beyond, this class is simply one of the best, most rewarding and unique playing experiences I know of for Pathfinder. It perfectly takes the much-maligned and often sucky trope of the assassin and makes it work perfectly, flawlessly and awesome for the first time in PFRPG.

Whether you want to play Assassin's Creed, Ninja's Scroll, Raj' Al-Ghul's killers, Codename 47 or any combination of these guys - this delivers and oh boy, do I want MORE!

This class may quite literally be my very favorite class from the pen of Bradley Crouch; it's that good. Let me reiterate: Even among his unique roster of classes, this stands out far above and beyond in concept and execution. It finally gives the superb concept of the assassin the proper due it deserves and actually has replaced the swordmaster as my favorite non-spellcaster class. Easy to grasp, with a glorious playing experience, this is a must-own class, one of the best classes out there and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars, my seal of approval and is a candidate for my Top ten of 2016. Oh, and it is from now on my go-to class for assassins and thus gets my EZG Essential tag.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Assassin: A Modular, Momentum Maneuvers Base Class
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Girls Gone Rogue
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:54:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion-book for the sleazy space opera RPG Alpha Blue clocks in at 80 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 72 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, before we dive in: This is designated as Mature Content. It is the expansion book for a rules-light RPG that reproduces the aesthetics of scifi-porn-satires, so if you have a problem with sexuality, dick/vagina/boob-jokes and gender stereotyping for men and women, this may not be for you. While the males and females I played this with considered it hilarious, that must not necessarily hold true for you or your game. Artwork-wise, this book's artwork contains full-frontal drawn nudity and also features artworks of orgies that involve tentacle-aliens that look like gricks - the artwork is significantly more explicit than in Alpha Blue - where Alpha Blue was softcore, this one's artwork is hardcore.

And the artwork and content includes...vagina sandwhales. That says it all right there. This book is not for people who take themselves too seriously and can't take a dirty joke. If your impulse to such behavior is "unbecoming" or "puerile", this may not be for you.

All right, this out of the way, we begin with the author's signature array of extensive tables to provide dressing and random features, beginning with general scifi-aesthetics, a total of 30 unique alien features...and then things become interesting: Relative experience in space with 6 entries actually has significant influence regarding mechanics, netting you unique benefits. 8 alternative careers are also included. Finally, there would be Zedi - yep, Jedi-parody. Their abilities are usually rolled with 2d6, but when a character only very rarely uses his powers, it's 4d6, which is a nice idea. However, the respective powers are severely lacking in precision. Stopping an energy weapon in mid air is cool...but can it affect ship weapons? What range does it have? What does "Boosts a zedi's luck in games of chance." actually do? No idea. This is basically not functional and requires copious amounts of GM-fiat. And no, just because it's supposed to be rules-light, this does not get a pass for this one. Not good. Also problematic: The dark templar's death curse, while a cool idea, nets a target only a 2 in 6 chance of survival, which pretty much begs to be abused, but can at least not be spammed or the like.

A total of 30 archetypes (basically tropes sans mechanical repercussions) can help customize the character and the book contains a hilarious "And now for something completely different Monty Python"-event table. A table to determine what happens to PCs between games is neat and we also get a table for sexual vibes and a massive 5 column, 20 row weird sexual fantasies and fetish creator: You could end up with " Pineapple, pom-poms, ferns, mazes and severed toes" - yeah, not kidding about weirdness. Reactions of females to unsolicited advances, random clothing articles, hair and body, physical beauty, profession and names, 100 peculiarities of women (and 20 of men - hey, we're simple critters!) an random "O"-face-generator, a random table to determine orgasms, Stockholm Syndrome, random pawn shop items, and a hangover "What the fuck did I do last night?" table add a lot of weirdness to the game.

Sample Alpha Blue NPCs, Noir-ish sample characters, small talk topics, using Spaghetti Western Tropes in space (cough Firefly /cough), blaster duel rules, technology glitches, planet generators, ship to ship combat (that actually runs smooth and is pretty deadly) and additional fuel sources are included.

Okay, but this also contains adventures - or rather, adventure-set-ups. Basically, the pdf walks you through the process pretty well, but do not expect read-aloud texts galore, cartography of the locations and the like - however, even more of the copious tables are included in the book's modules.

Note: The following takes a look at the module section, so potential players should jump to the conclusion to avoid SPOILERS.

...

..

.

All right, still here?

The first module is basically a parody of a combination of Blade Runner and a twist on the exploitation classic; hence the module is all about Ilsa of the SS - basically a Slut Series sex-replicant that has lived too long and developed sentience. By means of contracting a bio-engineered STD, the PCs are press-ganged into hunting her down, but not all is as it seems. And yes, the hunt for her will lead the PCs to a planet that contains aforementioned vagina-whale sandworms as well as washed up legend Bubba Fatt. Oh, and killer sex-bot moves.

The second module treats the PCs after the Ilsa-incident as basically loose ends and involves the PCs in a political set-up between a power-struggle in another planet's monarchy/an escort mission with a princess in disguise. Can you picture how that'll go. Yep. Similarly, winning the lottery may see a whole galaxy snuffed out. There is also the plot of amazonian slavers, a sex-enhancing drug...and then there would be the titanic colony ship, captained by Black Helmet, aka Moranis...or the space-sheikh's harem...or the escape from the penal planet destructo...and have I mentioned the outline that is an homage of the genius Life of Brian? Saving a space-cheerleader from a slaver is also a pretty nice one.

The book concludes with excellent maps - the Barstar D and no less than three ships (one with strange tentacle-studded organic components, all in full-color and spanning two maps, provided testament of cartographer Glynn Seal's talent.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, the book oscillates between great and some instances where it is lacking. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks throughout are glorious. The pdf contains the glyph-font that you can translate to lewd sentences. The cartography is stellar and the pdf is fully bookmarked. I do not have the print version, so I can't comment on that aspect.

One of the issues I had with Alpha Blue as a base book was that it didn't go the whole way - to use an appropriate terminology, it got stuck in the heavy-petting phase. This one goes all out - so kudos for that! For the most part, this book contains an excellent array of awesomeness regarding the supplemental material for Alpha Blue, but there are some serious hiccups in here as well: The non-functional Zedi are disappointing and regarding the "modules"...I don't know. Less would have been more here. Don't get me wrong, the two long "modules" here are pretty cool, fun and evocative.

The other encounters/module-set-ups, in contrast, feel like afterthoughts and usually have this one cool idea, but don't do too much with it. It may be just me, but I really would have preferred a more precise take on the big modules, more fodder, more details, maps or the like over these sketches. Why am I using quotation marks for "modules" here? Well...apart from the longer two, the others are basically what you'd read in an adventure-synopsis. They need you to fill in all the details and while I don't mind too much, I still feel that their respective cool concepts could have been boiled down to a paragraph and replaced with more detailed material for the big ones - which are similarly a bit sketchy. This, as a whole, is pretty weird, for Venger As'Nas Satanis has shown that he can write more precise modules. On the plus-side, what is here tends to put a smile on your face and inspire, even if it does require some work on the Space DM's side.

In the end, this is a good expansion, but one that falls a bit short of what it could have been. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Girls Gone Rogue
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Borderland Provinces Player's Guide
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:50:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what kind of player's guide is this? The answer is simple: It's the type of guide you read because you want to read it. The theme is relatively simple - instead of just confronting players with a dry synopsis of the respective regions, this pdf is written to emulate a collection of letters/correspondences and documents of characters that are traveling the borderland provinces that will be the adventuring location for the players. The intriguing component with this approach is that this approach actually not only manages to shine diverging focuses upon the things going on and thus highlight different aspects of the regions:

We can get a glimpse of intrigues and politics through the motivations of nobility; we can witness a character fall to the devil opium and slowly sink into the clutches of demon-worship; we can see clerics fighting the heresies that spring up and realize the truth behind the supposed commoner. Each of the characters has his/her own narrative voice, with the letters of a barely literate knight using a more phonetic writing style full of at times humorous glitches, showing that the character in question probably had one too many jousting lances to the head (or used Int as a dump stat).

Via the letters of these characters, we move through the borderlands and accompany their triumphs and tribulations, their fear of the untamed wilderness and the draconic doom lurking right out there sinking slowly to the reader. unlike the quasi-early modern period, a sense of medieval structures is conveyed in a believable manner. The city of Manas, capital of Suilley, does get a full-page map for the convenience of players and the final page provides a collection of no less 8 heraldic crests, which help players identify the knights and holdings - when the GM describes the crest of a tower with a crown above it, the players will know to expect the Exeter province's holdings and retainers. Exeter? Yep, nomenclature is associated with central European nomenclature, with Aachen and Vourdon, as further examples, illustrating well the linguistic aesthetic.

In the hands of lesser authors, this could easily backfire, but t does not in this book. So yes, after reading this supplement, I sure as hell knew that I wanted to play in the Borderland Provinces.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column b/w-standard and the cartography and artwork in b/w are neat indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed bookmarks and the print copy is a qualitatively neat booklet with good paper - as we've come to expect from frog God Games.

I have become a big fan of Matthew J. Finch's writing and he delivers herein, creating a tantalizing atmosphere. Furthermore, he highlights the different, interwoven leitmotifs of the region in a compelling manner and makes you excited to check out the region and unravel all the plots and options I have seen in such guides. This is a player's guide well worth the asking price and a neat companion book for the big tome. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Provinces Player's Guide
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Borderland Provinces Journey Generator
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:48:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

One central component of any sandbox campaign worth its salt is the component of the journey - whether because wine and wenches await in a far-off place or because something needs to be delivered - whether a secret missive, a caravan or something altogether different. The problem that a GM does have here is that it is hard to come up with meaning full journeys - enter this book and its 2 different types of journey generation: Number one creates journeys focused on getting to the adventure, whereas the second generator creates journeys that represent the main meat of the adventuring experience in question. It should be noted that this book, obviously, focuses on the Borderland Provinces - hence, we get a total of 12 tables, one for each of the respective provinces and a table that features a variety of patrons and supplemental motivations for the patrons. The patron tables could have been a little more versatile, though: A lot of diplomatic missions, tasks for churches, etc.

The pdf goes on to provide a table of 10 simple journey details; for more complex journeys, 10 objectives, 20 locations, 10 groups and 10 immediate threats can be quickly rolled and combines. 14 general monster themes, 20 related objects and 5 possible complications allow for flexible modifications. The journey completed, 5 entries for the final wrap-up of the journey can add a final sense of unpredictability to the proceedings.

Beyond these basic setups, a quick price change table for quick trading makes for a fun and smooth trading rules array. Of course, the pdf also has a massive table to generate roadside inns, with name patterns, creature and item adjectives, creatures and items, etc. Basic descriptions of inns, religious hostels and a neat what's for dinner table. The book also sports 10 conditions and events to further add to the journey and the book concludes with 31 fully detailed sample journeys.

Conclusions:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has neither artworks, nor bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf is fully bookmarked and the hardcopy is of the usual high quality for Frog God Games print books.

I really like Matthew J. Finch's Journey generator and the tables to quickly generate locations to precise locations in the Borderland Provinces makes this a pretty useful book. But at the same time, it feels like it does fall a bit short - I am pretty spoiled by Raging Swan Press' absolutely legendary GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing and regarding the details of the journey, I'd very much suggest taking this legendary book (#1 of my Top Ten 2014, just fyi...) to add all the evocative dressing you require to the basic journey generated herein, since this booklet simply doesn't have that level of detail. I was also pretty disappointed, for a journey-book depicting a specific region, to get no handy table of distances between places and projected number f traveling days by foot, horse or cart. This does not mean that this book is bad, mind you - it just means that it falls short of its own potential. While useful for the Borderland Provinces, the pdf could have been significantly more useful with a bit more room to shine and the lack of travel-distances decrease the usefulness of this one for me. A solid book slightly on the positive side, my final verdict for this one will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purposes of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Provinces Journey Generator
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Borderland Provinces Player's Gazetteer
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 09:47:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This booklet clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The Borderland Provinces Player's Guide took a rather brave and evocative step by focusing exclusively on the atmosphere created, on providing a book that conveys properly the unique flavor of the Borderland Provinces. At the same time, this book alone would some tables leave wanting the harsh facts, the breakdown of the lands to be found in this illustrious region and notes on the history of the place - after all, when you have lived here for a while, you will probably know a bit about this place, right?

So, as opposed to the player's guide, which provides the totality of the atmosphere and leitmotifs of adventuring in the provinces, this one focuses on instilling the overview information. To be more precise, we get a MASSIVE chronology of the lands here, with 3 different calendars! The hyperborean incursions, the rise and fall of Foere and the recent Suilleyn secession and imperial aspirations are noted and establish the basic, global dynamics.

Beyond the chronology of the respective regions, the player's gazetteer then goes on to depict the various regions, from Aachen to Exeter and Gaelon. Beyond notes on population and notable settlements, unique terrain features, humorously inappropriately named dark and brooding forests (Forest of Hope - really got a chuckle out of me!) to notes on trade and diplomatic relationships as well as trade and commerce - the tapestry woven here is great and the guide. More importantly, the gazetteer does provide information and inspiration...but does not dive into SPOILER-territory, retaining full functionality for its player-book-status.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports unique and original b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the hardcopy is a booklet of the usual, high FGG-quality.

Matthew J. Finch's pen is mighty indeed - the more I read from him, the more I love his prose and talent of weaving evocative worlds. This gazetteer is a great little supplement that delivers exactly what was missing from the Player's Guide. Which brings me to the one reason this does not gain the seal of approval: In my opinion, combining the two guides into one would have been the smarter move and made book-organization easier, but that may just be me. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Borderland Provinces Player's Gazetteer
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Steelforge: Book 1
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:54:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of Steelforge clocks in at 16 pages,. 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief foreword by the authors, we dive right into the respective items contained herein and the first item-class already makes pretty much clear that this is NOT a standard magic item book - we begin with 3 inexpensive types of auto-loader magazines for crossbows. What do they do? Well, they make crossbows on par with bows. Thank you. That being said, I am a more than a bit weary of the ability to copy enchanted bolts in an infinite capacity - once you insert a bolt, the magazine copies the bolt's properties on other bolts contained herein - insert mundane bolt, add one powerful magic bolt, get infinite copies of the powerful bolt. This would be utterly broken, were it not for the VERY smart caveat of it being impossible to taking any bolts out of this magazine sans destroying them, putting a hard cap on the number of bolts you can copy. This catapults the item class immediately from problematic to all awesome. Chest-slot-assigned natural armor enhancers, corsets that enhance your saves, girdles of protection and the like can also be found here.

In case you need that spelled out: The items here utilize other slots than e.g. the standardized slots - which may be a blessing or curse, depending on your take: While I really like the fact that now cloaks and rings aren't necessarily occupied to make the high-level math work, this also allows for some optimization tricks that weren't possible before. Since this issue is pretty much system-immanent, I will not penalize the pdf for it. That being said, I did notice an uncharacteristic glitch: The construction prices of the aforementioned corset are equal to the market prices, which is an obvious error. (As an aside: I do believe that prices could have been used to account for the value of the respective slots and some balancing here, somewhat offsetting the gained flexibility, but I digress.)

This is not all, though - hate seeds allow you to utilize the dread's paranoia terror (cool!) and ironbody cloaks contain temporary hit points, which help in particular to offset the squishiness of some characters at high levels...or in high damage output games like those employing Path of War or similarly optimized characters. Headset-style earrings are damn cool and tie in well with collective rules and dimensional anchor nets have been a staple in my games for a while - nice to see them represented here as well! Seriously underpriced at 12K, Steelwalker's Boots may add to the flexibility and flow of combat by allowing 1/2 movement in conjunction with full attacks, but they also cheapen all skirmishing builds I know. I'd hate this item like crazy, were it not for the fact that, unless you actually hit, you are staggered, making this a high-risk/reward item I actually ended up liking!

There is also a nice take on transferring magic enchantments from items to items (somewhat akin to Interjection games' glyph wrappings).

More important would be the highly versatile charming trinket-systems: There is a bracelet and necklace that can each hold charms, with a ton of them provided in two groups, included upgrades for Claim-limits, ki points, etc. Nice customization array, though its flexibility and low price point, while cool, may not be what every GM is looking for, they do sport some serious value.

This is not all, though: We are introduced to the 3rd-level flightbreaker spell and the absolutely glorious endeca's gregarious gravity slime: Somewhere between intelligent slime and item, you rub these slimes on weapons, attack foes and watch them do their magic. The slime is AWESOME and evocative and comes with a rather cute artwork. No complaints.

The pdf also feature the gravity slime master PrC, which covers 5 levels and adds a total of +3 BAB and Ref/Will-saves as well as two levels of class feature progression, d8 HD, 4 +Int skills per level. As a minor nitpick, Dreamscarred Press has established a time-frame in concrete time for per-encounter abilities that is not reprinted here, in spite of the PrC using such mechanics. The PrC can launch damaging, DR/resistance-ignoring untyped damage dealing gravity slimes at foes - while I have no balance concerns here, I still wished it wasn't untyped. The gravity slime master also receives a gravity slime guardian at first level, basically a kind of variant eidolon that gains a series of free evolution, but no pool of its own or magic item-sharing with the master. And yes, at higher levels, it gains more evolutions and can act as a mount. The gravity slime master's launched gravity slimes get additional, hampering effects at higher levels and starting at 3rd level, this impact ability extends to gravity slimes added to weapons. Really evocative little PrC.

The final chapter of the pdf covers a topic near and dear to my heart: Combating the Christmas Tree syndrome. This section pretty much is worth getting the pdf on its own. Why? Well, while most of Dreamscarred Press' recent offerings have been geared towards high-powered gameplay, this chapter will provide a ton of benefits for pretty much all groups I can think of: Rare/Low magic campaigns can employ it and its massive table to codify the value of saving throw bonuses, armor class bonuses (by type) or resistances to be added to items, allowing for customization of more unique items and adding their benefits. Since the enhancements are listed in steps, they do take the slot component into account. This section is pretty minimalistic, yes - it basically covers the must-own enhancers to make the math come out right. I absolutely love it. The section is made primarily for GMs and can prove to be extremely helpful when pricing items that feature these options among others - from legendary items to legacy items, these humble two pages will see A LOT of use in my own game. One note, though: In spite of the non-stack caveats and very precise presentation here, I'd suggest GMs keeping a tight control over these rules, since, again, system-immanently, the added variety does allow for combos otherwise impossible. This is very much a feature in 99% of the cases, but it can be a bug, in spite of the section doing everything right.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both rules-language and formal levels - with the one exception regarding prices mentioned above, but that one is pretty obvious as well. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, it comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. Kudos for going the extra mile there!

The authors of this pdf Jacob Karpel, Jade Ripley, Anthony Altovilla and Forrest Heck have crafted an intriguing pdf here: All crunch, steelforge's first book is not a traditional item book; instead, it could be best described as a design-paradigm toolkit that provides item-options and tricks to customize your game. More importantly, several of its items address some gaps in the system; in particular, the temporary HP granting items can be a true blessing for high-powered gameplay. Other aspects of the pdf provide increased flexibility for magic items, interesting variants and options as well as some serious designing help for DMs looking for an easy price-cheat-sheet for the modification/design of legendary/legacy weapons or an end to the Christmas tree syndrome, making this pdf a valuable asset for lower powered games as well. That being said, considering the nature of this pdf, I do believe that some guidance for GMs regarding the ramifications of introducing some contents herein would have been helpful: This is basically a massive engine-tweak, but it does require a bit more understanding of the consequences of adding the content than I consider necessary. While this does mean that the pdf remains very focused on the crunchy aspects, it also makes it a pdf that requires some serious thought on behalf of the GM on which options to employ in the end.

It should be noted, however, that thinking about this is rewarded; Steelforge's Book I has some truly glorious ideas and the gravity slime is a cool concept that can, engine-wise, certainly be expanded in future releases. I consider Steelforge I an excellent book that only misses my seal of approval due to the fact that it, as more of an engine-tweak than a traditional item book, could have used more didactic guidance for less experienced GMs. Still, consider this well worth getting - my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars,. rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steelforge: Book 1
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Call to Arms: Tomes of Power (revised)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:52:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Call to Arms-series clocks in at 44 pages,1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial/introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Knowledge is power. This sentence has become a bit of a cliché. Okay, it IS a huge cliché. It is true nonetheless. From Latin to runes, language as a means of transporting knowledge in a written form is exceedingly powerful and ideas, ultimately, are the most powerful weapons of all.

As has become the tradition with the Call to Arms-series, we thus begin the pdf with a complex array of ruminations on the nature of text, its functions and components, not shirking e.g. the issues of copying and translation. (And anyone who has ever compare e.g. Shakespeare, Baudelaire or Goethe translations with the original will certainly attest a cringe-worthy quality that can result here...) In a fantastic context, the concept is similarly important, if not even more so: The pdf does mention Chambers' classic The King in Yellow, which may well have provided an initial spark for Lovecraft and others...as often, the idea cuts deep.

One of my central gripes with Pathfinder as a system has always been the fact that tomes basically suffer from a rather niche existence; when compared to e.g. the Witcher games, where knowledge is the most valuable good you can have in combat with the weird creatures of the earth, it is significantly less important in our games and has less mechanical repercussions...and this one tries to fix that. The pdf collates, collects and expands the mundane tomes released so far, introducing arcane school reference books, chronicles etc. - rules-wise, these generally grant bonuses to associated checks when referencing the book or studying it. 3 new types of spellbooks (and two classics) can be found within these pages as well. The pdf also features two spellbooks with preparation rituals. (one for magus and one for the investigator.)

Beyond that, the pdf also collects all types of intriguing books herein - from the golem manuals to the summoning extenders and manuals that increase your attributes, grant combat feats. Very cool for sorcerors: Pages of Spell Knowledge. These pages contain a single spell; prepared casters may expend a spell slot of the appropriate spell slot to cast the spell on the page. A writ allows for instant atonement benefits, but requires longer hours of studying to maintain the benefits. As always in the series, we get a cursed tome and an intelligent item: The latter being A Young Person's Phantasmagorical Primer, which contains fairy tales and allows persons featuring only NPC classes to gain the training required for PC classes and the book's illusory realms are interesting, to say the least. Beyond that, we also get a total of 3 mythic books, one of which enhances a character's capabilities when dealing with extraplanar creatures and another nets cruel jokes. Finally, another book allows for reincarnate. The book also contains 3 artifacts - the classic book of infinite spells, the codex of the lower planes and a take on the mother of all evil books, the intelligent necronomicon, including an advanced soul eater that may come for you. (CR 15, just fyi.) And yes, the book is cursed.

The pdf does contain two different spells, one that translates a book perfectly into ancient dwarven and one that animates a quill to copy writing. As always, though, we do receive a couple of variant rules, the first of which would be modifications for Linguistics to account for time-related changes in dialects, handwriting, translation qualities, if applicable, etc.

More importantly, the pdf does feature rules for forbidden knowledge - studiyng texts like this may result in corruption and the more thorough you study the texts, the harder it will be to resist the nasty effects of the respective tomes. Certain actions will trigger corruption saves and on a failure, the character gains a corruption point - all pretty simple. Here's the cool thing, though: Tehse points can be used as either mythic power, hero points, as sanity...or a combination of them all, depending simply on your own tae on the subject matter, with proper synergy with the much-anticipated new Shadows over Vathak campaign setting book. A total of 3 such tainted tomes end this installment of Call to Arms on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed a couple of typo level glitches and would have loved slightly modified wording here and there, as a whole, the rules-language remains sufficiently precise to not result in any issues. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has some neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Richard D. Bennett's revised take on Tomes of Power is a fun offering, with in particular the variant rules herein being an inspired array of modifications. The book, as a whole, is a fun offering and delivers what it promises. In contrast to some of the other Call to Arms-books, though, it does feel a tad bit less evocative: A lot of the options here in the book are pretty conservative in the items represented - the more powerful items, for example, are either classic in concepts or, in the case of the mythic books, pretty weak. Apart from the evocative intelligent book and the awesome forbidden tomes, I simply wasn't as blown away here, since I already knew a lot of the concepts here. This does not make the pdf bad, mind you, but it does deprive it of a place amid the best of these books. In the end, this is a good book - and well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Tomes of Power (revised)
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Bite Me! Wererats
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2016 04:49:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Bite Me!-series clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This time around, we take a look at wererats, now reimagined as part of the Bite Me!-series. They get +2 Dex and Con, -2 Wis, the two bloods racial feature (making you count as a parent race as well as a shapeshifter for purposes of being affected by effects), low-light vision, +2 to Perception and Survival. Beast Form works is presented in a rather precise wording construct that takes temporary hit points, equipment and the like into account and the odd formatting discrepancies gone - no complaints. In beats or hybrid form, DR 2/silver is gained and increases by +2 every odd level gained to a maximum of DR 10/silver. The wererat gains wolfsbane vulnerability and silver vulnerability. Wererats also gain Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat. That may just be me, but I am not too keen on wolfsbane as a universal vulnerability for lycanthrope-races; to me, it makes less sense for wererats to be affected by it, but that just as an aside. Regarding beast form and advancement, wererats may actually be suitable for the less powerful groups than some of the other Bite Me-iterations, since their diseased bite may be strong, but has less direct combat application.

Wererats get their own age, height and weight table, which is nice. The race does receive an assortment of no less than 11 alternate racial traits that include darkvision, Dodge as a bonus feat, emphasis on the social nature of rats, permanent rat teeth (cool!) or the option to call forth rodents to talk to and command. No complaints here and the section does combine these in handy, preconfigured set-ups for your perusal. The pdf provides favored class options for the APG, classes, UC-classes and the magus. They generally are cool, though the barbarian-entry lacks the note that the movement speed increase does not have mechanical repercussions unless taken in increments of 5 to account for the 5-ft-focus of tactical movement.

The pdf features a total of 3 different archetypes, the first of which would be the Bully Slayer ranger, who specializes in bringing down Large or larger humanoids and replaces wild empathy for +1/2 class level to Intimidate checks, while also losing the size penalty. 1/day bane versus bullies and longer duration of the ability complement this one. The second archetype is the lightning rager barbarian, who modifies rage to instead grant +2 Str and Con, +4 Dex; 3rd level provides a scaling dodge bonus to AC and an insight bonus to Ref-saves. 7th level nets evasion, 13th improved evasion. Huge problem: The better rages do not follow the theme set by the base rage ability, making the archetype feel half-finished. Not something a GM can't fix, but still. The third archetype would be the Sewer druid, who replaces woodland stride with skill bonuses, movement through difficult terrain in sewers instead of trackless step and iron stomach as well as disease immunity. Wild shape is gained later, at 6th level and at -2 druid levels...oh, and they may assume otyugh and ooze-forms.

The pdf offers a total of 12 racial feats for wererats. These feats include 1/day rerolls due to danger sense, skilled disappearing in crowds, improving the summon tricks to include swarms, bleed to bites, a swim speed and some unique tricks via a 3-feat Style-chain: For example, when targeted by a full attack and missed by all attacks, you can retaliate with a combat maneuver to render the foe fatigued. The problem is that this feat does not specify an activation action - I assume it just happens when the foe misses you, but I'm not sure. Gaining the benefits of being Small is possible and the pdf also has a means to use next a 5-foot-step to avoid attacks, which is cool. Somewhat odd - the feat makes clear that the character can't use a 5-foot step in the round following its use, making sure that you basically borrow next round's 5-foot-step, but what about regular movement? I assume that's still possible or does the evasive action count as next round's 5-foot step and thus eliminates other movement? This pdf does not contain Bite Me!'s Hybrid and Primal Shape feats, so if you're looking for these, you'll need supplemental material.

The pdf also covers items - a total of 4 mundane items is included, featuring rat scent, rat-calling pipes, slick that helps staying out of the grasp of foes and air sweetener to avoid diseases. The pdf also features a new special weapon quality, which, at +1, increases hide and miss chances AND maintains invisibility for the attacker...which is insane and totally underpriced, particularly since it can be applied to ranged weapons. A helm that facilitates rodent communication and nets a diseased bite attack (properly codified as primary) and a rat saddle are okay, as are lenses that can store light they then may emit as fiery rays. The one item that really is cool among the magical ones would be oil that slims targets passing through squares treated with it, allowing thieves and scoundrels to escape through impossibly thin cracks - very cool.

The pdf features a rodent subdomain that allows the user to gain increased speed and a bonus to Stealth 3+Wis-mod times per day. The pdf also features a total of 5 new spells: Close Quarters is intriguing: It allows you and another Medium or smaller ally to occupy the same square and count as flanking foes if you attack the same target, which is incredibly useful for sneak attack. That being said, the spell assumes that you move into an adjacent square when it ends - but what if there is no room? Also, at level 1 bard, inqui and ranger, this spell is pretty strong, though the restriction to the "tricky" classes keeps is still in the "potentially VERY problematic" rather than the "broken" field. Using crowd stride to teleport through crowds is pretty cool and gnaw anything lets you ignore significant amounts of hardness with a selected natural weapon. Growing creatures in a swarm to twice their size is cool and there is a spell-option to increase the deadliness of diseases and poisons.

The pdf concludes with two sample characters with extensive backgrounds, motivations and schemes to incorporate them in your game - Suilin Hinatoi, a CR 11 monk/ninja and Merrick, a CR 9 sewer druid - both of the characters come with stats for humanoid and beast shape. As for the flavor of wererats as presented here, I don't have significant complaints this time around - the social nature and predilection to guild structures, warrens and use of rodents as pets make sense and utilize the established material well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though on a rules-level, there are some minor hiccups. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version: Kudos!! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with an array of gorgeous full-color original pieces in Jacob Blackmon's signature style. Particularly the rat-toothed humanoid shape getting ready to gnaw through a rope is awesome.

Robert H. Hudson Jr. and Mike Welham's wererats rank among the better offerings in the wererat series. While there is some material to nitpicking the details, as a whole, there are some gems to be found in the squeezing and crowd-maneuvering component. Power-level-wise, the wererat is one of my favorites among the individual lycanthrope-race pdfs in the series. That being said, the hiccup in the barbarian is not too cool and the other archetypes didn't really wow me either - I've frankly seen the concepts done in more complex and detailed ways. Usually, the items are a highlight in these and the same holds true here - there is some magic to be found...though the book oversteps balance-wise its boundaries here and there.

Staying invisible while attacking sans requiring a the improved version is very strong and in the hands of the right build, can be devastating. Similarly, two capable sneakers occupying the same space can make for a true shredder with the right build. This does not make the options broken, mind you - it just is a symptom of an impression of this pdf, namely that it could have used a slightly more delicate touch requiring some of the repercussions of its effects. These do not have to come up, mind you...but they may. In spite of the gems herein and me liking quite a bit of what I can see here, I hence have to rate this 3.5 stars, rounded down - a mixed bag slightly on the positive side.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Wererats
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