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AaWBlog Presents: Armory of Adventures
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/11/2015 02:37:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page back cover, 1 3/4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

...

No, you haven't misread. This many pages for a buck. And yes, the content herein premiered on the AAWBlog before, but ultimately, I'm a dinosaur when it comes to devices - I ban them at my game since I have had the experience of them being constant sources of distraction.



So what exactly do we get? As an example analysis, take the ashenbone axe: A lavishly-illustrated (btw., like most items herein!) axe that emits a light - so far, so bland. Where things become mechanically interesting is with the caveats: When a character is raging (via barbarian rage, a racial ability or spell), the damage increases by +1d8; conversely, when not raging, the damage-output decreases by 1d4. I really like the sentiment of this weapon, though its execution remains somewhat flawed - as written, this will be the axe the barbarian draws while raging, otherwise leaving it sheathed and thus eliminating pretty much the unique drawback. The axe also should explicitly specify that it only conveys its bonus damage while the wielder is subject to a rage-effect, not just "In the hands of a raging character" - since this could be read as a minor ambiguity. A simple solution would be to make this a cursed axe. A further plus, again, one that extends to all items herein, would be the flavorful description of the axe itself provided, as well as the scaling amount of information one can glean from researching it.



A ranger's hunting axe, poison-spraying locked gauntlets, an evil arcanist's angel-hunting crossbow, a greatsword that lets rangers with swamp as favored terrain breather underwater (alas, sans proper CL for the underwater breathing) - some interesting options here. What about a vicious blade that only reflects damage back upon the wielder 50% the time if he is pure at heart, but also illuminates such beings in radiant, stealth-negating harmless fire? Whips that can be used to entangle (alas, at a very low DC to escape) and nunchaku that make flurries of blows more effective are also among the interesting options provided herein.



Those familiar with a certain Hrólfr Kraki may be rather pleasantly surprised to find the almost-artifact level Skofnung herein. And yes, I freely admit to having a little "Heck yeah!"-moment here. There would also be a shield that allows for the substitute of hypnotism as an alternative to shield bash damage. There also is a very powerful, nasty ring that makes a character potentially a quasi-vampire. An enchanted spyglass, a dance-compelling gel, enchanted golden dentures (!!!) that fly out to attack foes, puzzle-boxes of holding - there are quite a few downright fun items to be found herein - all for a single buck!



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not necessarily perfect. Layout adheres to a beautiful, yet printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with a surprising amount of pieces of original artwork as well as some stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a bit of a comfort-detriment. The pdf does sport hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com, though they are not provided for every spell in a list and thus sometimes are a bit inconsequent in what's linked and what isn't.



Mike Myler, Jonathan Ely, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Jacob Michaels, Joshua Taylor and Eric Madsen have delivered perhaps one of the most inexpensive pdfs I've seen in a while - the artworks and lore-sections alone render many of the items worthwhile. Now granted, there are some magical items to be found herein that are plot-items pure and simple, but that is not in itself a bad thing -I'd rather have an interesting plot item than a boring +1 flaming thundering keen rapier... Ultimately, this collection is an inexpensive, convenient collection with some downright nice ideas. Now yes, there are a few examples like the one in my picking apart of the ashenbone axe, where one can arguably complain about the wording not being 100% tight. Still, at such a fair price-point, I still consider this a worthwhile purchase. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AaWBlog Presents: Armory of Adventures
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ZEITGEIST #8: Diaspora (PATHFINDER RPG)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2015 03:51:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of the (so far!) legendary Zeitgeist-saga clocks in at 99 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 94 pages of content, so let's take a look at whether this installment can keep up the stunning momentum of the saga!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS, including some minor ones for previous modules in the saga. Potential players of this massive AP should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here?

"Memory is identity, identity is memory." - Julian Barnes.

No words would fit better the premise of this module, wherein Zeitgeist changes paces once more - after infiltrating the great conclave of the Obscurati in Zeitgeist #7, dining and talking to the masterminds behind the vast conspiracy and shaping the very ideology of their opponents, the constables of the RHC may have actually changes sides - but after the culling of the ranks that unified the conspiracy, the Obscurati are now more dangerous than ever before. For the first time, however, the PCs may actually be in the loop regarding the dread masterplan of their adversaries - still, the Ob machinery is grinding on, but there may be a grain of sand that can bring the gears of revolution to a halt: This proverbial grain would be Kasvarina Varal, one of the founders of the Obscurati - separated from her memories, the eladrin woman may be the one thing that can put a stop to the plans of the conspiracy - thankfully, the PCs will have probably deduced ways to find Kasvarina and if they don't, their leadership may have an idea - so off they go towards Elfaivar - provided they can best the fleet combat waiting. *sigh* Yes, this is the time where I once again can ramble about the default naval combat rules of this AP sucking hard. I recommend you get Frog God Games' Fire as She Bears instead.



Tracking the vast colossus towards Kasvarina - via prestige and connections, their trek through the jungles will still be less than pleasant, and worse - the Ob are up to their game and have sent competing teams out and the trail leads onwards - into artillerist fire and ambushes, before the PCs have to face a lethal 10-headed lion-creature crafted from the stuff of dreams itself - and yes, the heads have powers conspicuously in line with certain IP-protected eye-themed creatures. ;)



Beyond these trials, the PCs may meet Asrabey again and finally make contact with Kasvarina, who then fills the PCs in regarding her memories of her experience of the eladrin diaspora -alas, Kasvarina is not the woman she once was. bereft of the traumatic experiences of her life, she is not a tabula rasa, but rather a story half-written. If will be up to the PCs to accompany her and put the triggers of recurring memories into perspective and influence how her personality evolves this time around - will she become the woman she once was, something better or even something worse? The theme of diaspora extends from the external to the internal of Kasvarina in a clever use of the concepts. Getting acceptance in Sentosa is just the prelude to the quest to reclaim the artifact, in which Kasvarina's memories are stored - only to walk right into the conflict between weretigers (non-evil, btw.) and clergy. While the general set-up here is great, I was kind of miffed by the John Smith/Pocahontas-reference (describing the lack of an easy solution) in one sentence of DM-advice-text. I'm aware of the myth, but having had plenty of academic experience with the topic, the cultural bridging proved to be less harmonious than popularized by Disney. That, however, remains one pet-peeve of mine and does not impede the quality of the module.



On a more awesome side, the PCs will have to brave various challenges aligned with various times, seeing the shape of the distant past and the things to come. The artifact then allows for access to the meat of the module - using it, the PCs can physically enter the memories of others, potentially even retrieving objects from inside - oh, and they can reap the benefits of their investigations and experience more of Kasvarina's past - alas, the triggers are spread around and a return to the Crypta Hereticarum is in order - which also doubles as an option to strike an uneasy alliance with Pemberton via his deadly bots. Worse than potentially being indebted to the demoness in the crypta, the party will have to find a way to infiltrate the capital of Danoran - which coincidentally lies in a zone of absolute dead magic spawned by the death of a goddess. Yes, not even supernatural abilities. Now watch your high-level PCs squirm. Or you would, did this follow the established rules for dead magic/antimagic zones.

Even worse, any roll caps at 30. Yes, this is nasty...and for once, I am not a fan of this cap - it feels a like cheating to me, potentially penalizing PCs that would have a chance to shine in this environment. I also would have liked specification on how summoned creatures, familiars, eidolons etc. interact with this zone - the pdf remains silent apart from "1 negative level for every magical creature, even when usually immune to it." This is not enough in my book and woefully imprecise. Furthermore, the cap literally BREAKS the rules - Take a look at how CMD/Feinting etc. work and do some quick checks for PCs - being immune to feints and bluffs is not hard here and the cap makes the whole system come apart when it comes to opposing rolls...or several other basic rules-options. My advice is to ignore this utterly bizarre and ill-conceived notion in favor of a better take more in line with the system.



On a more positive side, the D-day-style infiltration of Danor, including potential combat with a tank, is pretty challenging and interesting and an ascent accompanied by continuous barrages of memories does not help either. Finally, things become rather heated - the colossus Borne arrives to get his "mother", while Nicodemus himself shows up to abduct Kasvarina (or kill her) and interrupt the final memory, wherein a goddess was killed. The final battle against Nicodemus is not only extremely climactic, it also is exceedingly difficult - and may have the PCs stranded in the Dreaming, as the dread plans of the obscurati grind ahead....



The pdf provides a massive appendix of memories (optional ones), stats for NPCs and adversaries (including troops - nice!) and a short gazetteer of Methia.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Zeitgeist's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is a blend of stock-art and glorious full-color original pieces. The pdf's lavish full color maps benefit just as much as the pdf from the layered pdf, which makes it easy to customize the amount of ink/toner you're willing to expend. It also allows you to make the maps player-friendly.



I am a huge proponent of the concept of this adventure - the concept of helping shape a personality, of going from the global to the personal perspective and actually providing a believable person is awesome. I adore this pdf's premise and its execution by Thurston Hillman is superb and well-written, as I've come to expect from Zeitgeist.



Now at the same time, I did feel like this installment did a bit of "cheating" - at this point, I can shrug off the lame naval combat rules the series uses. Yes, it's a bit of work to make conversions, but the play-experience is worth it.

Conversely, I have never complained about Zeitgeist breaking some of the default rules-assumptions of the Pathfinder-rules - why? Because the campaign guide and player's guide provide ample justification for the changes in how flight, teleportation etc. work and ultimately are enablers for the story, not restrictions. The changes are organic and part of the world's setting and as such, valid in my book. Where I get grumpy, though, would be the antimagic premise herein - in PFRPG, there are two canon, established and well-codified types of antimagic zones and this pdf just ignores them in favor of a rather ill-defined sidebox that not only leaves questions open, it also feels like a cheat. I know that my players did not take kindly to the arbitrary restrictions imposed on them, especially seeing how they deviate from how things usually work.

As a recommendation for a more interesting solution, Interjection Games has released a FREE pdf of incremental antimagic a DM may enjoy as an alternative.



Now like other Zeitgeist installments, this pdf still is one awesome read and provides thoroughly unique and awesome challenges all around - Diaspora is a great module, though one that has its second half slightly tarnished by the unnecessary antimagic cop-out: In fact, in spite of my complaining above, Diaspora's innovative take on a personal and global tragedy, the memory-delving as a great substitution of time travel without the massive time travel logic glitches - all of these make Diaspora a worthwhile and great adventure - but one that is slightly more rough around the edges than the previous installments. Yes, it only has this issue in a small part of the overall book, but here, the impact was jarring. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4. Note that if you are willing to properly iron out the non-sense restrictions introduced in the second half of the module, this still should be considered a top-notch buy.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #8: Diaspora (PATHFINDER RPG)
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[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2015 03:49:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover/editorial,1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This supplement, obviously, provides fighting styles inspired by fantastic creatures, with each style sporting a nice, short fluff-paragraph that anchors the style in a kind of background you may scavenge. The first of these styles would be the cockatrice style, which increases teh DC of both Gorgon Fist and Scorpion Style, while also adding wis-mod to damage versus foes with reduced speed or in the staggered condition. Wait, I hear you say - Scorpion Style? But one can only be in one style at a given time unless one uses archetypes etc. - you would be right, but Paizo botched nomenclature - Scorpion Style is NOT a (style)-feat - just a combat-feat. ;) The follow-up feats allow for added Dex-damage when using Gorgon's Fist and Scorpion Style and the option to add an unarmed Gorgon Strike as a swift action against a target failing to save versus your Scorpion Style. Interesting blend of the two concepts.



The Couatl Style adds wis to damage versus foes denied their dex-bonus to AC versus your attacks and also adds wis to Bluff skill checks - not a fan of dual attributes to a skill. Additionally, feinting dazzles foes for one round. The follow-up feats allow for an immediate action feint that eliminates opponents as counting for flanking or whether you provoke AoOs, whereas the final feat allows for a 10-foot AoO feint when using a standard action to feint foes while in Couatl style. Additionally, foes feinted this way treat foes other than yourself as having concealment. Interesting!



Doppelgänger Style (sorry, can't write it with an "a" sans cringing) nets you a dodge bonus versus foes using style-feats and allows you to use swift actions to emulate a style employed by a foe who missed you for 1 round, while also netting you a minor buff. This one is pretty much brilliant - nuff said. The follow-up feats allow for the emulation of the feat-chain of said style, while the final feat allows for an AoO that allows you to disrupt another style, hence denying the target temporary access to the style's feat-chain. Sick...and awesome.



Manticore Style allows you to draw light thrown weapons as a free action and do no longer treat ammunition or darts as improvised weapons. The follow-up feats allow for a flurry with two additional attacks at -2 atk - but does that stack with flurry of blows/stars? The second one allows you to move full speed and execute a full attack's attacks at any point while doing so, but requires you to use unarmed attacks, light thrown weapons or ammunition to do so. This one feels too strong for my tastes - indeed, this is the first style that imho can benefit from a bit of streamlining - one feat needs ability-stack clarification, the other should be limited to a subpar weapon group - full attack plus movement with unarmed strikes is NASTY.



Peryton Style allows you to deal bludgeoning or piercing damage with your unarmed attacks, with piercing having a crit of x3. Additionally, you can choose to render a foe to cower instead of being frightened or panicked instead, but only for 1 round. Per se cool, but cower as one of the most powerful conditions is nasty - still, average duration shortened to 1 round balances that. The follow-up feat-chain allows for better charges and a scaling save-based selection of additional detrimental effects to impose on foes of your charge. The final feat allows you to coup-de-grâce cowering or stunned foes, and add an AoE-demoralize as a swift action when executing a foe like this. I like this style, but it is very prone to being cheesed: Coup-de-grâces are almost guaranteed kills and the relatively easy set-up for this finisher means that the style in itself is deadly - when combined with another character that deals in fear (Nightblades or Dreads come to mind...), this style can become broken pretty fast. However, at the same time, it is just glorious in the hands of assassin-style NPCs.



Phoenix Style nets you +2 CMD and unarmed strike damage when facing opponents with a higher Str-score or larger size. The bonus is doubled if a foe power attacks you. The follow-up feats allow you to increase your reach when only executing a single melee strike versus foes, alos netting you a dodge bonus to AC versus foes not adjacent to you. Finally, the third feat allows you to add a second attack to a charge and also allows you to use Acrobatics to move past the foe sans AoO. The feat also allows for a reflexive means to avoid grapples at the cost of movement in the next round.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-.color standard and the pdf sports numerous nice full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.



Wendall Roy delivers an interesting pdf here - I was honestly surprised to see the styles herein not shirk from the most complex of concepts and executing the rules-language required with laudable precision - with minor hiccups here and there, this pdf tackles top-difficulty concepts and executes them rather well - to the point where I will most definitely use this pdf's content in my campaign. So kudos for aiming for the top! Alas, I am not sold on the balancing of a couple of the styles herein -namely the Manticore Style and the Peryton Style imho require some streamlining - the former due to number of attacks stacking, the latter due to its extremely lethality with a pretty basic combo. These blemishes, though, do not drag down what is undoubtedly a cool pdf that should bring a grin to all aficionados of WuXia. While not perfect, I will hence settle on a verdict of 4.5 stars, just short of utter awesomeness. Since the issues mentioned impact balance, I will round down for what can be considered a quintessentially good pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
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Mini-Dungeon #013: The Case of the Scrupulous Pawnbroker
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/10/2015 03:43:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



This mini-dungeon begins with the PCs having either a business relationship or wanting to establish one with a hard, but fair pawnbroker - now his store's door is open and suspiciously empty, while an iron door in the basement leads towards a gruesome scene - the assistants have been slain and reanimated as zombies, though the PCs may save the owner's dog as further support. If the PCs do not tarry, they may save the pawn-broker from the hostile assault of a really nasty gang of thugs under the command of a sorceror - they're trying to break into his treasure vault, after all... Oddly, the thugs encountered in the final encounter have proper hyperlinks to their stats, whereas the first group of thugs lacks these, putting undue work on the DM. Beyond that, solid defenses for the treasure vault and a nice aftermath help make this module feel somewhat round.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf and it does sport a nice full-color artwork, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players.



This mini-dungeon has me torn - on the one hand, the story Stefanos Patelis weaves is a nice one that can easily fit in any urban environment and it does sport the small details and level of believability I enjoy. on the other hand, it could have benefitted from a short tactics-section for the adversaries if the PCs e.g. call the watch- a couple of lines would be there to warrant it and this may very well turn into a kind of hostage situation - bartering is a quite possible notion for the PCs and since the foes use the pawnbroker's traps to their advantage, one can see the potential of the writing here. While the hyperlink glitch is a bit annoying and the social dimension a tad neglected, for its limiting format, this one still fares above average - my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #013: The Case of the Scrupulous Pawnbroker
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Way of the Wicked Book Seven: Tales of Talingarde
Publisher: Fire Mountain Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2015 03:47:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is the bonus book for the critically-acclaimed Way of the Wicked AP - and yes, I am aware of the delay of the sequel AP and yes, I am a KS-backer of it, waiting for my print copies of both this book and Throne of Night, but that does not influence my review of this book.



So, what does this book provide? well, for one, it's 102 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 97 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, what do we get? Well, first of all, we receive allcaps HANDOUTS. Massive arrays of papers, including a very important contract, now receive lavish, beautiful renditions - Michael Clarke is definitely a gifted graphic artist and the numerous mugshots for secondary characters for the AP (spanning multiple pages!) are downright gorgeous. Extremely helpful would also be the handouts of common knowledge about Talingarde, provided for the players and the excessively better-detailed introduction on how the PCs got caught and what they saw on the way to the predicament, with which the AP kicks off. Beyond those, advice on making key props can be considered welcome. Everyone's favorite pet ogre NPC/cohort receives his fair share of love - with various, hilarious and well-written pieces of read-aloud text to be inserted throughout the campaign. This section can be considered pretty awesome indeed.



A gazetteer of the town of Aldencross, including an interesting creature the PCs may unleash upon the unsuspecting populace of the fully statted town and its inhabitants (including stats, again) and a certain naval-based journey in #1 also gets an optional, nasty encounter.



Thereafter begins the section of Minionquest - three interlude modules, wherein one may play the misadventures of the minions of the big bad PCs for a hopefully humorous change of pace. From here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Minionquest I happens in Farholde, MQ II in Farholde and MQ III in the capital of Talingarde. And yes, the minions are sent on pretty brutal, suicidal quests for their merciless, dark masters. Oh, and yes, they get grumblejack assigned - who promptly tries to bully them into submission, steal their money, begin barfights - you know the deal. With no proper capabilities, taking on a fanatic street preacher and his acolyte may seem hard - just wait until they realize the guy is a werewolf. Yeah. They better be smart. Same goes for the follow-up quest of MQ I, where they are tasked to capture a hydra (the beauty on the cover!) alive - a task which Grumblejack btw. will happily push on the PCs alone.



MQ II can be considered an utterly hilarious scavenger hunt of liquors (provided in a handout with art!) for the hiding place of the Duke Daeveryn - from exploding alchemist's shops to cheating goblinoids also in the race (of COURSE Grumblejack has a vested interest in the matter - and all the subtlety of a blood-coating, thundering sledgehammer...) for a magical sword, the second task is no less deadly than the first, but imho not as curvebally as the first. Still, a fun diversion from all things truly evil and important.



MQ III then deals with this one luxury manor that has not yet been pillaged...and oddly, no minions have returned from it. Strange, right? Well, turns out that a) the place is crawling with traps, b) haunted by the ghost of the place's last owner and c) is patrolled by an old stone golem who receives commands from the ghost. Have I mentioned that minions have 3 levels of an NPC-class? Yes, these quests are deadly, and hilariously so.



Beyond that, further options are provided - take Eiramanthus' library - well, now the kingdom of Talingarde (Asmodean edition) may go for advanced artillery, handguns, arcane theorie, clockwork soldiers - whatever your diabolical villains may research! Speaking of research - if technology isn't to your liking, rules for establishing Talingarde's first Wizard collegium and the research that can be done there (including the research of clockwork dragons!) should fit your tastes. If you were going for the vampiric version of WotW, the modified information for plunging Talingarde into eternal darkness, including builds for Adrastus and Sir Richard, all modified to reflect the change in emphasis.



Speaking of supplemental material - what if your PCs are as powerful and smart as mine? If they win the final battle? (Or are fanatics?) - Well, there is an alternate ending, wherein the PCs doom all of Talingarde, fusing it and everyone on it with the 9 hells. And yes, the massive ritual has an incredibly steep price to pay for in the final moments. Which one? I won't spoil THAT for you, only that one of the maps in the book provides for a nice visual representation here as well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to WotW's beautiful full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with copious artworks by the exceedingly talented Michale Clarke. The number of handouts and artworks provided herein make this book a massive increasing factor in the overall aesthetic department for all of WotW. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, with a printer-friendly version and a handy 16-page pdf that collates bookmarks and maps, the latter in full-color glory as well, of course - and rendered player-friendly. Two thumbs up!



Reading this book has been an excellent reminder why I love Gary MCBride's writing - this campaign is a stroke of genius, beautiful and is aptly enriched in every form by this pdf. Gaps are closed, fun is added and overall, this can be considered what one needs to get the Director's Cut of the AP -as such, I consider it non-optional, should you choose to run WotW.

At the same time, however, this supplement is not truly required. What do I mean by this? The new art and Minionquest-modules are fun, yes, but they in no way are required for the AP and the reward-ratio for the Minionquest-interludes is rather conservative. While they do have benefits that are tangible, in the end, they do not really reflect the challenge they pose. This may be intentional, yes, but it may result in a bit of disappointment by the players. Conversely, the Minionquest modules aren't conventional modules - they very much could be considered more akin to old Sierra adventures or the Quest for Glory-series in that they are exceedingly lethal and at times, by design, unfair even. For some groups, this may be a welcome change of pace; for others, it will annoy them like crazy. While *personally*, I love this type of challenge, one of my players was exceedingly annoyed by this type of design. What also remains is the simple fact that this very much is the director's cut of WotW - not everyone will enjoy the fact that the crisp story has been embellished; much like the Lord of the Rings director's cuts are not everyone's cup of tea. On the one hand, this brings more detail, options etc. - on the other hand, it does add in quite a bunch of material that is not crucial by any means, which may result in impatient players.



That being said, at the same time, this pdf is probably not enough to warrant running the AP again, should you have already finished it. Still, we have a stellar expansion to the AP IF you like the notion of the uncommon adventure design. If you do, this is well worth of a final verdict of 5 stars. If not, you may wish to detract a star. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Way of the Wicked Book Seven: Tales of Talingarde
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Village Backdrop: Aldwater
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/09/2015 03:44:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



Aldwater is immediately set apart by the map it sports - you see immediately an uncommon village on raised platforms, situated where the Blackraven Creek runs off into the Deepmire Marshes, with one bridge connecting the platforms with an island containing a labyrinth, which doubles as a final resting place for the village's ancestors. navigating the labyrinth has been the providence of the spiritspeaker of the town since time immemorial.



Against this backdrop of old, pagan customs, the village has certainly seen its fishing grounds become less fertile, with the spirits being goaded to provide information for strangers - on, for example, strange ruins in the swamp. Alas, what the ultimate consequences of outsider meddling turn out to be, none knows at this point, rendering this a nice potential set-up for either nasty Wicker-man-like scenarios and progress vs. tradition narratives..

Two sample characters/villagers complement this set-up, rife with adventuring potential. As always, this village comes with the full array of marketplace, village statblocks, demographics and yes, information on names, garb etc. worn by the villagers. Rumors provide more hooks and local color and yes, there are 6 sample events, as always.



The strange practice of the town and the magic item facilitating it are provided as a bonus in the pdf and both make sense, though I wished the ritual itself to have a slightly more complex depiction.



Conclusion:

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



Jacob Trier's Aldwater is very much one of the more subtle village backdrops - it doesn't bash you over the head with its premise and very much puts how it will work in your campaign in your hands - from acting as a traveling station/waypoint on a journey to horror or benevolent interpretations, this place has all the potential for untapping right at your fingertips without forcing your hand via a written-in basic conflict. Whether you go for benevolent mysticism or full-blown horror, Aldwater supports your choice and thus can be considered a great installment in the series - granted, one I had to read more than once to make it "click", but when it did, the results were beautiful. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Aldwater
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Liber Influxus Communis (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 03:25:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 184 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page KS-thanks-list, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 177 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Disclaimer: I was a backer of the kickstarter for this project, but was in no other way involved with the creation of this book.



After a brief introduction and one pages summing up the starting gold, we dive into the massive array of classes herein - the reason why this review took forever to get done. So expect one epic-length monster of a review here!



The first class would be Michael Sayre's Battle Lord, who gets d10, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light and medium armor as well as full BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. The battle lord receives a 10-ft aura that scales up by +5 ft at 3rd level, +5 every other level thereafter. Drills can be envisioned as such auras, only not centered on the Battle Lord himself; instead, they can originate anywhere within line of sight and require audible or visual components to execute; however, since the drills themselves are pretty easy to understand, even language-barriers can be overcome with some time and training (properly codified), thus rendering this kind-of, but not really a language-dependant extraordinary ability. A battle lord begins play with 2 drills and adds +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, which conversely is also when the skill-bonuses conferred by drills, if any, scale up by +1. Initiating a drill is a move action, switching them is a swift action - neither of which provoke AoOs, so yes, front-line commander-style here.

Drills can be, in their benefits, be summed up as teamwork feats that do not suck - essentially, some of the most useful teamwork feats (like Stealth Synergy) are granted to the targets for as long as the drill persists, while also granting additional bonuses to skills, damage rolls or minor enhancements to movement speed. The array of drills is expanded at 12th level, when the Battle Lord may choose to learn greater combat drills for mass bonus-fire damage to attacks, for example. Healing allies via fast healing up to 50% of their health, but with a daily cap, also works rather well. It should be noted that Int governs, if applicable, the Battle Lord's drills. At 8th and 16th level, a battle lord may maintain up to two (or three) auras and drills at the same time, changing all in one fell swoop, should he elect to do so.



At 3rd level, the Battle Lord receives a Noble Aura - this can be considered a non-combat exclusive buff that helps with investigations, social interaction, etc., depending on which auras are chosen - interestingly, this achieves what no other class of this type had managed to this point - render the Battle Lord relevant in contexts that are NOT fighting. At 15th level, these auras are expanded by an array of Imperial Auras, which can also be used in combat and have some SPs mixed in - the wording is solid here. At 20th level, one of some exclusive auras also doubles as a capstone. A battle lord also has a specialty, which can be considered a bloodline-like progression of abilities that modifies the class skill list. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the specialty unlocks a new part of a linear ability-progression. A total of 4 such specialties are provided - from artillerist to mundane healing via the medic and to the more stealthy scout, the options here are nice. The class also sports 3 archetypes - the aquatic marine, the sword and pistol mounted specialist cavalryman and the eldritch chevalier, who gets a very limited selection of spells. All are okay. It should be noted that the Battle Lord also receives Bravery, which would be unremarkable, were it not for Michael Sayre's glorious Bravery Feats, released by Rogue Genius Games, for which the Battle Lord coincidentally qualifies...



The second class herein would be the Conduit, written by Mike Myler. The class gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. The conduit can be envisioned as a magical battery - they have a conduct pool that begins at 3 and scales up to 35 - each point of said pool representing a spell-level the conduit can absorb. Conduits may also absorb spell-like abilities, but they need to be the targets of said spells and execute an immediate action, with the pool's max size and 1/2 class level as restrictions, the latter denoting the maximum amount of points he can expend per ability. On the nitpicky side, the latter should specify a minimum of 1, otherwise the conduit can't absorb anything but cantrips and orisons at first level - said spells do btw. NOT grant conduct pool points; instead, the conduit has SR against them equal to 11+ class level. Nice catch here! A conduit can only absorb a spell if its level does not surpass the level-dependant cap and when she has enough conduct pool points available - no excess point.

The conduit may unleash said energy as a standard action as a ranged touch attack with a range of 25 ft. that deals 2d6 points of FORCE damage, +1 per additional point spent. The range increases by +5 feet per conduit level at 2nd level. Now, you may have guessed it -I am NOT a fan of force damage here; I have bashed classes in the past for warlocky blasting via force and Interjection Games' ethermagic wisely handled that differently. However, the conduit's blasts must be envisioned as a limited resource and thus, be compared to spells - and indeed, in practice, this provided no issues. Kudos. Now nothing sucks more than being stranded sans resources and thus, the conduit receives options over the levels to inflict damage (and attribute damage etc.) on herself to generate a limited amount of points - thankfully, both with a daily limit and sans means to cheese the regain abilities.



At 3rd level, the conduit may select one of several conduit powers, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Conduit powers provoke AoOs and are SUs with DCs, if applicable, scaling via the 10 + 1/2 class level + cha-mod formula. The activation of these powers tends to also be powered by conduit points and as such, vary in the precise effects - from bonuses to skill-checks to passive abilities that allow the conduit to deliver mystic bolts as melee touch attacks to invisibility that scales up to its improved version, we have a significant array of choices, including duplicating low level spells, 1 1st level spell per power taken. The pool may also be used to generate weapons and shields with enhancement bonuses and movement can also be powered by the resource. Higher levels net SR and potential for AoE-spell absorption via will-save versus spellcaster level-check. At 11th level, the conduit receives a +2 enhancement bonus to an attribute whenever she expends points, lasting 1 hour per point expended and scaling up to +6 at 19th level. It should be noted that this is not bonus times points expended, as I first read the ability, but that the per-point-caveat only extends to duration. Here, the wording could have been slightly clearer. High level abilities also include leeching spell levels from foes, redirecting spells and forcing rerolls and the capstone is a magic-immune apotheosis.



The class also sports two archetypes. The Arrhythmic conduit bleeds points over time and, once empty, has a harder time regaining them and deals sonic damage instead of force damage. However, the archetype receives superior action economy, allowing for some nasty combos that allow for multiple abilities to be activated as once, or to have them interact in fluid ways - dismiss mystical protection for a free mystical bolt, for example. I really liked this archetype since it actually plays pretty much different! The cyclic channeler is brilliant - it adds a cooldown period for abilities, but increases their potency and as a bonus, we also get a nice alchemical item - however, the price of said item is high - it costs 50 Gp and can be created by a conduit with a spellcaster ad infinitum; selling it could break an economy, so DM-discretion is advised here.



The third class featured herein would be Will McCardell and Linda Zayas-Palmer's Demiurge had me, conceptually, grin from here to ear - it's essentially Plato's Theory of Forms, the class. And yes, I'm aware that being excited about this pretty much makes me a total nerd. The class receives d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. This class is complex, so bear with me as I try to explain it to you - and no, once you get it, it's not that bad. First of all, the demiurge chooses an enlightenment. Enlightenments can be likened to bloodlines or mysteries in that they provide a conceptual focus as well as a linear progression of abilities - these change the basic means of facsimile creation and provide beyond their base abilities, new ones at 2nd, 8th and 15th level - think of them akin to how a cavalier's order modifies challenge and the options of the class. I will return to this concept later with examples.



Among the "small" abilities, social and perception-focused abilities can be found in the progression of the class. The true signature ability of the class, though, would be the facsimile. A facsimile is a creature born from the ideals of the world of perfect, ideal forms - despite their autonomy, much like tinker automata, facsimiles are dependent on a demiurge's commands - he may issue a number of commands equal to his Charisma modifier as a move action, though not all need to be issued to the same facsimile. The creation of one facsimile (which manifests within 30 ft.)is a full-round action that can be hastened by additional quintessence expenditure (+0.5 total cost) to a standard action. Cost is not equal to cost, though - establishing a basic facsimile entails a maintenance cost, which becomes relevant upon facsimile destruction or dismissal (which can be executed as a standard action) - an array of said points, usually half, can be regained. The aforementioned additional cost thus is not refunded. Facsimiles have no duration and a demiurge can have up to half his class level (min 1) in facsimiles at a given time.



In order to create facsimiles, a demiurge has to expend quintessence points, a minimum of 6 are required for each facsimile. A demiurge has quintessence equal to Int-mod times two plus a fixed array of bonus points determined by the class level - this begins at +15 at 1st level and scales up to +155 at 20th level. Quintessence regaining requires 1 hour of contemplation and at least 4 hours of sleep - it should be noted that increases of Int-mod do not increase the quintessence pool. If a demiurge wishes to keep facsimiles around, he must pay the maintenance cost and deduct it from the total of his quintessence pool.



Facsimiles are based on one of two base forms - jack or brute. They have fixed ability scores that are either good or poor and the same holds true for saves. Attributes and saves scale up each level, with handy tables listing them. The different base-forms have different base size categories and skills available that you can assign. Their sizes can be enhanced by the expenditure of additional quintessence. They receive default magic slam attacks and a deflection bonus equal to the demiurge's Int-mod, but do not gain feats or magic items and they count as having HD equal to the demiurge's class level. A facsimile is treated as a construct for the purposes of spells and effects, but not for the purposes of base qualities. Now as ideas, facsimiles are somewhat more ephemeral than your average summoned creature - every time the facsimile receives damage, it has to make a dissipation check, with d20 +1/3 demiurge class level + facsimile's Cha-mod versus DC 10 + 1 per 2 points of damage taken, with natural 20s and 1s constituting automatic successes and failures, respectively. Some ideals and class abilities allow a facsimile to ignore some chances of dissipation and at 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the demiurge's facsimiles receive +1 chance to ignore dissipation. Upon destruction that is not an intended dismissal, a demiurge only receives 1/4 of a facsimile's maintenance cost back, as opposed to 1/2 of it. And yes, facsimiles, as ideal, do not have hit points.



Now each facsimile has 5 ideals that are drawn from 4 categories: Locomotion, Manipulative, Sensorial and Special. Each facsimile has one slot per category, 2 in the special category. However, each ideal's quintessence cost (or augmentation) can be doubled so it instead can be applied to occupy another category's slot. Facsimiles can thus be enhanced to have a massive array of different abilities and shapes, from humanoid ones that disrupt the terrain to those that can grant senses - want to make a tripedal moving facsimile that can share senses and dissipate itself to heal adjacent creatures? Possible.

The vast array of customizations here are impressive indeed, though not all augmentations feel like they are perfectly balanced, something that especially comes to mind when thinking about the ray ideal: This is an SP untyped ray that deals 1d4 + Cha-mod damage, with a base cost of 2. For +4 quintessence, the facsimile receives +1 ray attack and per 1 point of quintessence spent on this augmentation, the damage dice increases by +1d4, to a maximum of half the demiurge's class level. Now, if you're taking notes, you'll realize how this can be used to make one devastating laser battery at higher levels - if you ever wanted to make a final fantasy-summon style kill-all laser battery, well, there you go. Do the math. Even with *only* Int 18, one would get163 quintessence. Then take minimum cost for all ideals apart from rays, for 4 points beyond the base costs, one would be left with 151 points, which would translate to more than 30 ray attacks (37.75) à 10d4+Cha-mod damage. With Dex = 29 and full BAB, this laser battery can evaporate just about anything. This one component of the facsimile-building system is what doesn't work and honestly, I would have been somewhat confused, but I'm not the only one reading it this way. I believe the ability has undergone a layout glitch or oversight, since the rays also lack a range. My advice, at least for now, is to simply apply the cap on the augmentation that also applies to damage dice increase - 3 rays à 10d4+Cha-mod for a total of 10 quintessence seems like the more reasonable and probably, intended, cap - a minor rephrasing of the ideal would work here. Now do NOT let this one hiccup in this impressive class get in the way of appreciation of this glorious class, for that's not where things end!



The demiurge also sports a linear sequence of abilities, from 4th level on, which is called rhetoric. When using these abilities, one determines one facsimile designated as an argument facsimile and one as an arguer facsimile. The argument facsimile is considered the origin, the arguer the beneficiary. The argument facsimile's maintenance cost must be equal to or exceed that of the arguer. Performing the like is a full-round action and unless otherwise noted, the facsimiles need to be adjacent to one another. Rhetorics have a duration of 1 round per 2 demiurge levels and some may cause the argument facsimile to become disoriented, allowing them to only perform either a move action or a standard action and may still perform swift, immediate or free actions. A demiurge begins with 3 rhetorics and learns more as the levels progress. These rhetorics are what renders the facsimiles EVEN MORE interesting - they allow, for example, for the addition of the argument's locomotion ideals to the arguer while the rhetoric persists. Other options include making the facsimiles a wall and combining reaches of the facsimiles involved. It should be noted that the abilities themselves also sport some nice easter-eggs in the nomenclature.



The 7th level also nets the demiurge the option to create a thesis facsimile, a facsimile with a limited free will and a buffing aura and yes, they may heal allies via reclaimed quintessence.



Now to get back to the enlightenments I mentioned in the beginning? Take Agathon - this enlightenment has the final quintessence cost of facsimiles reduced by 1/4 class level and get a 6th slot, which costs half as much. At 2nd level, one can have one free facsimile with only 4 slots and a significantly-reduced effective level of class level -3, while also allowing for some on the fly modification. Artifice demiurges can create objects, while befuddlement allows for the creation of shadow facsimiles - in case you haven't noticed - each of the 6 enlightenments provided radically changes the way in which the class plays. The capstone is an interesting apotheosis, at least as far as that type of capstone goes. The bonus content covers 11 sample facsimiles. I adore the demiurge class - it is a thing of mechanical beauty, vast options and is utterly, completely unique. With all those pet-classes out there, it still is more unique and interesting and while it only belongs into the hands of experienced players, it is GLORIOUS. Any fan of classes with customization options and complex tricks needs to take a good luck at this class - a piece of advice: Just make a sample character. It makes *getting* the class rather easy and seriously, I don't get what the hassle is regarding the complexity of this class. It's not simple, sure, but it is damn rewarding and I can't bring myself to bash it for one ability with a wonky exploit due to a wording ambiguity. I adore this class and playtest showed it works in awesome ways - though, as a piece of advice, much like summoners et al., one should make sure the player can run it quickly and doesn't hog the spotlight. Still, probably my favorite class in ages and one that will be very hard to top!



After this complexity beast, the medium is rather simple: At d8, 2+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, good will-saves and 3/4 BAB-progression, the class looks a bit bare-bones. As a full-round action, the medium may channel spirits and let herself be possessed by her spirit companion as a full-round action, the duration clocking in at 4 hours, starting at 5th level instead for 1 hours per medium level. Interaction with being killed etc. is covered aptly by the wording, including memories etc. A medium can channel spirits equal to Cha-mod timer per day and the effect cannot be blocked by regular possession-preventing magic. The medium can use a standard action to provide minor bonuses and she may use séances to duplicate augury. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the class receives a revelation chosen from a limited list, interacting with their ability to channel spirits and utilize séances - here, an alternate nomenclature to make them deviate from the oracle's revelations would probably have been in order. So, the spirit companion...this is the defining class feature of the medium and shares your ability modifiers and hit points; however, the spirit does have class levels - yes, this class can be essentially summed up as gestalt, the character - you can essentially shift between forms and from leadership to spellcasting and psionic powers and feats, the spirit companion is handled pretty neatly - and the capstone allows for a true fusion of the two. Btw.: Yes, the revelations interact with the class choices you make for the spirit companion.



Archetype-wise, there would be one with less powerful spirits, but who receives more spirit companions, one that can be considered an oracle-crossover as well as one that specializes in revelations that interact with the physical world. And yes, there would also be one psionic medium archetype. Eric Morton's Medium is a solid, fun class that especially will be a boon to tables with less players that need to cover more roles. Two thumbs up!



The Metamorph-class with d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and natural attacks, but no armor, good 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves and begin play with a maximum number of 3 attacks and an evolution pool of 3 that scales up to 26 at 20th level. Metamorphs also have a built-in natural armor bonus that increases over the levels and ability-increases dispersed over the levels. 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter see bonus feats. 1st level metamorphs may choose their genesis, determining the key-ability modifier for the class and modifying the class skill list. Now unlike some other takes on the evolution-based class framework, a list of phenotypes, which determine ultimately the evolutions that become available for the class - a total of 8 phenotypes are provided and a massive table helps the player determine which evolutions are eligible for the phenotype chosen. Only fey and undying may for example choose the basic magic evolution, whereas only bestial, monstrous or reconstructed metamorphs may learn the trample evolution. A metamorph has 2+class level evolution points, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Evolutions can be reassigned upon gaining a level. The class also sports 3 archetypes - one that wilders amid sorceror bloodlines/eldritch heritages, while metamorphic abominations may wilder in racial heritages. Finally, the Transmogrifist may wilder in the alchemist's toolbox. We also get a sample level 13 character here.



I honestly was NOT looking forward to yet another evolution-based class - after masquerade reveler, underterror and iron titan, I was simply burned out on them. However, Wojciech Gruchala's metamorph ultimately may be one of the most user-friendly and easy to balance takes on the concept - while I prefer the fluff of the masquerade reveler still, the metamorph may be the most user-friendly take on the concept - with the handy table and restrictions that prevent abuse as well as thanks to the cap of maximum attack and the lack of flexible changes of the basic evolutions chosen. All in all, a solid take on the concept I can't really complain about.



The Mnemonic gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and one weapon of choice, full unarmed strike progression as a monk, 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Menomincs may execute a standard action to identify one or more feats a target creature possesses by making an Int-check versus 10 + CR, with creatures of a CR greater than the mnemonic's HD further increasing the DC by +3, revealing a scaling amount of feats a target has - the better the check, the more feats are revealed. Why would he waste an action like this beyond the tactical information? Thought Strikes. A mnemonic may execute class level + Int-mod of those per day and they can be executed as part of an attack action - somewhat akin to stunning fist, the targets receive a save, which may see them impeded by escalating negative conditions. Instead, a mnemonic may forego said detrimental conditions and execute a memory theft, to steal a skill bonus or feat for class level rounds.



A mnemonic still has to fulfill the prerequisites of a stolen feat to make use of it and stolen feats only lock down feats that build on the original feat, not those that only have it as a prerequisite. The amount of skill bonuses, feats, etc. a mnemonic can steal at a given time is handled via a nifty table and starting at 5th level, the mnemonic may eliminate spells as well, though without being able to cast them himself. Finally, it should be noted that mnemonics may expend thought strike uses to retain a given stolen feat for 24 hours, though future maintenance of this stolen knowledge progressively erodes the mnemonic's thought theft capacity further, preventing the infinite storing of a stolen feat. now granted, this can be cheesed simply by passing the feat from mnemonic to mnemonic, but in that case, I'd consider it a somewhat interesting plot-point/narrative device and, more importantly, not something that would in itself break the game - so yeah.



Beyond this theft component, a mnemonic of 3rd level may also copy extraordinary abilities and combat feats he has seen in the last 24 hours, with an effective class level decreased by -4, though, thankfully, only for 4+Int-mod rounds per day. High levels allow for the recalling of abilities and even sharing of them, thanks to the nice addition of telepathy-style abilities to the fray. It should also be noted that they may imprint part of their mind into objects, making them essentially intelligent with all the consequences - which is a kind of awesome additional twist for the class. Essentially, this is the brainy monk we know from Anime and WuXia who copies your moves and uses your own tricks against you - and it is more efficient than the woefully underpowered base class thanks to its tricks. Speaking of which - the amnesiac archetype, with its battle trance, hearkens also back to these media and provides a pretty cool alternative to the base concept. Hungry Minds would be evil mnemonics that may heal themselves via thought strikes (limited resource, so kitten-proof), while thought rippers replace the detrimental conditions of regular thought strikes with scaling non-lethal damage. Solid and nice- overall, a fun class - designer Mike Myler did a neat job here!



Next up would be the momenta, pitched by Erik Ottosen and written by the Amor Game-staff, and I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that I haven't seen a class like this before. We all have seen the trope in literature - the faithful, loyal companion that makes the heroes excel, the squire that does the grunt-work - that is the momenta. The class gets 6+Int skills per level (with 2 to be freely chosen as class skills), d, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light armor plus shields, 1/2 BAB-progression and good will-saves as well as prepared arcane casting via Int of up to 4th level, from their own spell-list, with the caveat that they can ignore "somatic components of up to 50 gold in value" while holding the book in their hands- I assume that should be material components. Additionally, as written, the momenta incurs spell failure chance for casting in light armor, which she probably shouldn't, seeing how she can only cast spells outside of combat in the first place (but only has a 6 hour required rest for spell memorization). It should be noted that limited spellcasting in combat can be achieved via the class's talents. Momenta of 4th level may cast cure light wounds as an arcane spell by either spending a motivation point or by spontaneously converting one of her spells. And these would be the momenta's central resource: A momenta receives Cha-mod motivation points in the beginning of a battle, +1 per ally that acts before an opponent.



Alas, this mechanic is utterly broken. First of all, it utilizes the nonsense per-encounter mechanic, which makes in-game no sense whatsoever. I've been VERY vocal about that not working, so I'll spare you my usual rant regarding this topic and just point you towards them. Tl; DR: Makes no sense since it is based on a fluid measurement of time rather than a concrete one. Secondly, the system can be gamed due to a lack of definition as to what constitutes an ally - master summoner conjures a lot of creatures with good initiative, momenta doesn't know what to do with this huge amount of points. A clearer definition is definitely in order here. A similar complaint can be fielded about how motivation is used - as a free action, the momenta can add 1d6 to the result of any one of her checks or that of an ally. One, there is some ongoing disparity which type of free action we're talking about - while some free actions can be used out of turn, this does not apply to all free actions - so yes, we have an issue with the base system here the class fails to address. Secondly, shouldn't the ability have some kind of range, audible or visual component? As written, it does not require the like, which feels odd to me. 2 Motivation points can also be used to reroll saving throws or attack rolls as an immediate action - no action-economy complaints here on my part.



A momenta also can utilize motivation via so-called stimuli, essentially the talents of the class, which are either extraordinary or spell-like abilities. These include being able to pay for metamagic with motivation, spell recall and the like - most importantly, though, the stimuli allow for the switching of initiative orders and allows the momenta to let allies act out of turn - an ability that can also be used offensively, by the way. So yes, the momenta per se is very powerful - even before non-stimulus abilities that include tactician and the like. However, the infinite resource of motivations also radiates into the stimuli - with an infinite capacity for encounters (versus infernal kittens, for example), the momenta can use infinite healing by utilizing motivation. So yes, this frame needs a daily cap for healing and a proper, codified time-frame instead of per-encounter.

Now all of this sounds pretty negative and it ultimately, alas, is. However, the basic premise of the class is awesome and while the framework looks weak, a momenta can provide a significant power-boost to a group -even as a cohort, the class excels pretty much. So let me emphasize this: I absolutely adore the concept and the unique tricks the momenta has, but I wished the Amora staff had slightly polished it more; as written, it can easily be fixed, but without fixes, I wouldn't use it. Still - the concept is so unique, so awesome that it is actually one of my favorite classes herein! Yeah, who would have thought? The pdf also provides 2 archetypes, one with less spellcasting and an option to knock out foes a limited amount of times per day and a second one that has limited bardic performances. Solid.



Next up would be the Mystic, who receives d8, 4+Int skills per level and either improved unarmed strikes or weapon focus at 1st level; proficiencies are determined by the elemental path chosen and the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression as well as all good saves. They also receive a ki-powered elemental strike (class level + wis-mod) and while they have at least one point of ki, they add wis-mod to AC. Elemental Strikes use the class level as BAB and damage scales up over the levels from 1d6 to 2d8. Ki can also be used for skill-boosts, adding additional attacks to full attacks. The class also receives a mystic talent at 2nd level, +1 every even level thereafter. There would be a higher-level option to make elemental strikes not cost ki anymore, evasions, finesse and the like - a solid kind-of-monkish array, with 10th level expanding the list by advanced talents. The capstone also sports choices, which is nice to see.



Now I mentioned elemental paths - these do not only influence class skills and proficiencies, they also net a basic ability associated with the element. Furthermore, each path provides a significant array of unique talents and 3rd level and every odd level thereafter nets an elemental technique from a list determined by the path, granting either a feat or a ki-powered spell, with DCs, if applicable, being governed by Wis. A total of 4 elemental paths plus the force path are provided, with each of them feeling utterly distinct.



While the force path has a force-blast and ranged combat maneuver-option, the limited range makes that one steer clear of my rant regarding that. The book also sports 3 archetypes - the ancient gets a reflexive reincarnate and sooner access to elemental techniques, but pays more for elemental strikes. Crossroads Mystics receive decreased damage dice for elemental strikes, but gets more ki and can select elemental techniques from all paths, but at higher costs. The final archetype, the kenjin, has more expensive elemental strikes, but gains access to ninja tricks. Alexander Augunas' Mystic has a bit of a flavor-issue with me - I'm utterly burned out on anything elemental-themed and this class is essentially the elemental bender-style character...or the Jedi. I don't like Star Wars. That being said, mechanically, the class is honestly beautiful - I prefer it over qinggong monk and the like and it executes its concept admirably well, with Alex's zen-like ease. At the same time, it has a cool idea - a sidebox talks about retooling the flavor to correspond to the alchemical humors - and the fluff I pretty much adore, which leaves me without any valid gripes to field - making me like a class whose concepts left me with disdain is a huge feat - congratulations!



Sasha Hall pitched the Pauper class, which was then developed by the Amora staff. The pauper gets d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. Paupers are defined by their two pools - hope and despair. Hope begins play with a maximum of 1 and scales up to 11, with despair beginning play with3 points, scaling up to 13. A pauper can execute a full-round action to turn despair points into hope points. Despair is gained whenever the pauper witnesses an act of strife or desperation, seeing an ally suffer a lethal wound and when witnessing cruel acts. Hope is conversely gained when seeing an enemy fall, acts of kindness etc. When one pool contains more points than the other, the pauper benefits from a unique effect. Paupers may execute nonlethal attacks versus allies to grant the ally a morale bonus. Pretty odd - the pauper can get all "morale, sacred and profane" penalties of allies and draw them upon herself. Only thing is - penalties are untyped, so the ability does not work as intended. Fr each penalty chosen to take upon himself, the pauper gains wis-mod temporary despair points.



The pauper's abilities, alas, at least to me, feel somewhat unfocused - they establish an empathic bond with a limited array of people (somewhat akin to how Dreamscarred Press' psionic networks work). The class also allows for minor healing as well as an aura that can either act as a buffer or a debuffer, depending on which pool is dominant. High-level paupers may transfer abilities from one ally to another, but thankfully with numerical and limited resources being subject to relatively stringent limitations. Strangely, supernatural abilities are not covered by the ability transference. All in all, the pauper has many makings of an interesting class, but it ultimately feels odd in many of its choices - aid another as a move/swift action for points may sound okay...but at 11th level, that's pretty late. The class also is completely linear - there is NO choice to be made here - not even the cavalier has such a small array of player agenda - the abilities, all unique ones, no groups, fall in line as a linear progression, making all paupers essentially the same. Beyond that, the class is dependent on two resources, which, in spite of a side-box, ultimately are highly circumstantial ad thus can only hardly be quantified - and thus, as feared by yours truly, the result will be a lot of arguments about hope and despair. Some tighter definitions would have imho helped here. The pauper gets an archetype with only one pool. Overall, the first class I really didn't like - conceptually, it feels not focused enough and mechanically, I've seen the interaction of fluid pool done better in some Interjection Games-releases. The class is not necessarily bad, mind you, but it's not up to the others.



The commander in chief of Little Red Goblin Games, Scott Gladstein, provides us with the Survivor, who gets d12, 6+Int skills per level, simple and martial weapon as well as light and medium armor proficiency, full BAB-progression and good fort-saves. Survivors not only can live off the land and can provide some of his class features with allies via the safe passage class feature, which provides a bonus to allies, usable Con-mod + 1/2 class level times per day. Bonus feats at 2nd level and 6th and every 4 levels thereafter are also there Beyond uncanny dodge, evasion et al., 3rd level, 7th and every 4 thereafter allow for DR, natural armor or elemental resistance, with each quality being selectable more than once. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provides a survival tactic, a unique, mostly defensive trick that can be considered the talent-array of the class - many of which can also be granted to allies. Level 13 nets essentially mettle (evasion for will- and fort-saves), called stalwart here, and at that level, this is okay.

The survivor has been my absolute surprise here - while not particularly complex on paper, this class works superbly in play -straightforward, fun and ultimately, it does just what you want: A ranger-y class sans all the mystic mumbo-jumbo, but who can make his allies so much better and harder to kill. This class is a great example why playtests of the complex classes herein was required - it fared much better in actual gameplay than I expected - the survivor is exceedingly fun to play, so kudos! 4 Archetypes are provided for the class - the feralist with simple weapon-exclusive vital strikes and modified feat/tactics-list, the seething survivor (with full barbarian synergy), the parkour specialist thrill seeker and the kind-of-rogueish urban survivor. A Synergist/survivor level 20 multiclass makes for a cool NPC.



Morgan Boehringer, the mastermind of Forest Guardian Press, presents the Synergist, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armor and shields and gets 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good fort- and will-saves. Synergists establish a kind of network akin to psionic networks equal to Cha-mod allies, with her being required to be part of the so-called "cast." The more creatures in the cast, the higher the shield bonus granted to the synergist. Via swift actions, members of the cast can coordinate, making firing into melee easier and teamwork feat granting is obviously part of the deal as well. Better aid another among the cast is also part of the scaling progression. At 1st level, synergists may create a synergy 1+Cha-mod times per day, +1 per 3 class levels. A synergist gets "+1 bonus synergy counters" for each successful attack, save or skill check, +2 for confirmed crits or nat 20s on non-attack-rolls. A synergist may store class level + Cha-mod counters. Synergy counters may be bestowed upon members of the cast, with a duration of Cha-mod+ 1/4 class level rounds. The counters can be used to enhance skill checks, temporary hit points, concentration, CMD, AC, etc. - this ability is glorious and fun.



At 1st level, the synergist may select a technique from a selection of 3, with 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter providing an additional array of new techniques, continuously expending the pool of options to choose from - NICE! Now where things become even more interesting is with the gaining of passive abilities and the collective bestowing of Lunge - a synergist can also negate critical hits and even enhance at higher levels the action tax required by a given action - the synergist pretty much, when played right, can radically change the way in which a unit of adventurers works - and it is awesome. Ultimately, the synergist can literally be the glue that holds a group together in combat and plays surprisingly efficient and different from classes with a similar concept - when to see something ridiculously flexible? Synergist plus Battle Lord. Add in a Tactician and cackle with glee. The archetype for the class falls somewhat behind the main class in coolness, with minor debuffs being just not that interesting - especially seeing the direlock by Morgan, I would have expected something a tad bit more special, but don't let that detract from the coolness of the class.



The Umbra (unfortunately named in my book - it has nothing to do with shadows...) would be a class by Interjection Games' mastermind Bradley Crouch and as such, it is complex: As a basic frame, it gets d8, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency in light armor and shields and weapon proficiency according to the primary embrace chosen. In heavier armor, planar powers suffers from arcane spell failure chance. The umbra gets 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves.



So what are those embraces? Well, they signify the heritage of the Umbra, with the primary being the dominant one and chosen at 1st level, the secondary embrace being unlocked at 5th level. Each embrace is assigned a pool of points - the primary embrace has primary points (PP), the secondary embrace secondary points (SP) - collectively, both are called embrace points (EP). Ep scale up from 2 PP to 12 and 1 SP (at 5th level) to 8. Umbra gain resistance to the energy of the primary plane equal to their class level, 1/2 class level for the secondary embrace and each plane has an assigned skill, which receives minor bonuses. At 6th level, the umbra may, as a swift action, generate a temporary EP to assign to a planar power or trait, which lasts for Cha-mod rounds, +1 point granted at 10th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This can be used Cha-mod times per day. There is an unfortunate error in one of the abilities, which specified that an ubiquitous power is gained at 3rd level, +1 at 5th and then +1 at every 4 levels thereafter, when the tables puts that at second level instead. Either that, or quickswap needs to be moved to second level. What does quickswap do? it allows for the reassignment of planar powers 1/day, scaling up by +1/day every 4 levels thereafter, making me belief that the first ubiquitous power ought to be gained at 2nd level.



Ubiquitous powers can be considered the "general" talents of the class, whereas the embraces cover the specialist tricks - the basic elemental planes and both positive and negative energy planes are available for the umbra to choose from, with each having assigned proficiencies. But the choice is more relevant than that - each plane has powers and traits associated. traits require an investiture of 1 point to use and then are static and passive. Powers, on the other hand, allow for more customization - the more points you invest in a given power, the longer you can activate it/the bigger its potency. Now, as you might expect, the benefits are pretty unique - what about a weak reflexive shield that can be dismissed to execute a smite? Yes, the benefits tend towards the unique side of things and some abilities utilize a cooldown mechanic I pretty much enjoy.



Now I'm an old-school Planescape fanboy, and thus, the further tricks of the class brought a smile to my face - yup, at 10th level, the umbra becomes a kind of embodied demiplane-intersection of his primary and secondary embrace. When assigning EP, an umbra can elect to convert either PP or SP into demiplance emergence points (abbreviated DE), but her SP pool must remain larger than the DE pool. Now the interesting part here would be that each demiplane's powers tend to work differently - some reward stockpiling DE-points. Some require their expenditure. Some ignore them mostly in favor of other counters, which are gained in means pertaining to the elemental condition in question and instead make for the resource of the demiplane: Cinders nets, for example, 1 "sputtering charge" whenever the umbra utilizes a power, but does not bypass the cooldown - this charge can be used as an additional invested point in an ability for a short while or expelled as a blast of negative energy and flame, with DE governing the damage output of the sputtering charge-powered blast. Have I mentioned the capstone that lets you make your own plane? Yeah.

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Damn, LIC, what are you doing here? Here I am rambling about how bored I am by elemental classes and themes and now I have a second class with such a theme I actually like. Damn. Kidding aside, the umbra is an interesting class with essentially a highly customizable array of tricks that makes it surpass the one-trick pony component inherent in most elemental-themed classes. I generally like it, though I still don't get where the name comes from.



The penultimate class herein would be Wayne Canepa's Warloghe, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, custom weapon proficiency and no armor or shield proficiencies. The class is built on a 3/4 BAB-progression good fort- and will-save chassis and their bond with a twisted spirit provides prepared arcane spellcasting from a custom list of up to 6th level, based on Wis -uncommon. However, alternatively, instead of spellcasting, a warloghe may select a binding pact with a spirit, gaining a linear, bloodline-like array of abilities, but more on those later. 2nd level warloghes get an essence pool equal to 4 + 1/2 class level + wis-mod, with a passive benefit and the option to expend points to inflict negative-energy based touch attacks, with higher levels allowing for AoE emanations and debuff conditions. At second level and every two levels thereafter, the warloghe selects a taboo - essentially the talents of the class, governed by Wis, with some being exclusive to certain twisted spirits chosen. These include SPs, upgrades to the vortex, dabbling in necromancy, familiars at -5 class levels - quite an array. The 5th level class feature, though, would be one of my favorites - warloghes may leave their soul behind as haunts, moving forward as a soulless shell! Damn cool! However I really wished the pdf sported a kind of instant-haunt-generator for warloghes that does not require handing GM-books to players. Taboos are expanded at 10th level to include more powerful choices. The taboos, when active, more often than not require the expenditure of essence points, which also powers a linear array of spell-like abilities granted over the class's level-progression.



A total of 5 twisted spirits, each with a custom spell-list and custom binding abilities, are provided - it should be noted, though, that each of them also results in a tainted soul, which translates to a continuous, negative effect on the warloghe that denotes his sinister dealings - however, they also provide a unique base benefit. The individual benefits are pretty unique and include stacking bleed damage, placing marks of vengeance, etc. The warloghe class gets an okay capstone, but 3 archetypes: One gets binding pact and spellcasting, but no taboos, while another can craft totem-constructs instead of getting the haunted ability. the final one may channel spirit strikes through his weapon and not waste points on misses, but loses the vortex AoE-control. Unremarkable, as far as archetypes go. The warloghe is pretty much a sinister glass cannon that feels a bit like a more damage-focused take on the witch-fluffed gish - now the class isn't bad and its damage output is balanced by being VERY squishy (more so than the magus) and I like the fluff, but I really think it would have benefited from significantly more spirits - those that are here are solid, though ultimately, the class suffers from me having years upon years of Pact Magic as a frame of reference and the latter just feels more versatile to me.



The final class is a new iteration of an old acquaintance of mine, the Warsmith, written by the Amora crew - at d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, hammer, picks and pilums, light armors and shields as well as 3/4 BAB-progression and good fort-saves, the warsmith is a retool of Amora Game's tinker - can it hold up? Well, first of all, beyond the craftsman bonuses and the significant bonuses to sundering via edifice recognition, the warsmith now may grant bonuses to armors and weapons, even duplicating special abilities at higher levels. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the warsmith receives a talent, here called design, which allows him to modify class features, expand crafting capabilities and even poach in alchemist/rogue territory with bombs or rogue talents. While not particularly complex, that ultimately is the strength of the class- it is a straightforward craft/sunder-specialist who is really good at what he does. Now personally, I'm not a big fan of e.g. a prone-knocking fissure having a fixed save-DC instead of a scaling one, but still, this remains the best iteration of the concept so far.



Since I have already covered the class options and archetypes above, I will only glance over the feats provided, all right? All in all, many of the feats here have a teamwork aspect and +x uses/+ longer uses of abilities for classes are provided alongside some interesting teamwork feats (since they don't suck for many classes herein) - unarmed fighting for non-monks, a style that makes combat maneuvers work sans improved-feats (and that while remaining balanced!) and some unique tricks, like playing switcheroo with magic item abilities, overall, this section can be considered well-crafted. In the cases where one may be familiar with some feats from previous publications of Amora Game, they tend to have undergone a streamlining of their wording - so yeah, while not 100% perfect, the vast majority of this chapter proved to be a fun read! Kudos!



Okay, so only one chapter to go - Adapt, Overcome, Survive - and it is GLORIOUS. Evocative haunts with nice flavor text ranging from CR 1 to 9 are complemented by environmental hazards... like exploding rats. Yes. You read it. Awesome! Two quick templates for magically-contaminated/infused creatures can also be found herein before we get rules for magical pollution of varying severity - think of them as the magical equivalent of radioactivity (and yes, just as deadly) - but with the nice added benefit of also coming with a ton of spellblights, of which we also get a quite significant array.



The pdf closes with a handy facsimile-sheet.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not perfect, but still pretty good - in a book of this size, with so much crunch, it is testament to the quality of the authors and editors/developers that almost no significant errors have crept into the complex matrixes of the class-crunch. Layout adheres to a crisp two-column full-color standard with a blending of stock and original artworks. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The print-copy, which I urge you to get, is well worth the price - I got mine from being a supporter of the KS and it sports a solid frame and high quality., glossy paper. This book has seen quite some use and it does not show. As a note for 3pps: Amora Game sent me the best-packaged book I have to date received from any 3pp - with significant amounts of bubble-wrap and a big package, the book has made it past the transition across the ocean and the careless hands of the postal service without even a dent. Kudos for gong the extra mile - a creaseless book is a definitely nice change of pace to receive!



The Liber Influxus Communis grew from the PFRPG-community, the community of which I consider myself a part of and for which I ultimately write my reviews. While Amora Game took a beating from me in the past, they never gave up and when their KS ran, I *think* I may have been the first backer - I wanted to believe in them. This was the reason I decided to make this my 2000th review - and I was hoping that my hopes would not be unjustified.



Now what Greg LaRose did was smart - he got essentially all 3pp top crunch-designers not too involved with their own projects: Alexander Augunas, Bradley Crouch, Daron Woodson, Eric Morton, Mike Myler, Scott Gladstein, Wayne Canepa, Will McCardell, Wojciech Gruchala, Kevin Bond, Linda Zayas-Palmer, Michael Sayre, Morgan Boehringer. Realize something? This is pretty much an all-stars-list and the content of this book shows it - each designer herein has brought his/her strengths to the table - from relatively simple to exceedingly complex, the classes provided herein all breathe a spirit of cooperation, of being unique and run the gamut of providing simple plug and play as well as highly complex tinkering classes that require significant planning to get right. The classes herein have one thing in common that transcends the differences in design: They are not boring. I consider no single class herein bland, no single concept to be redundant. In fact, I loved most of the classes, and I mean *loved* - when a book makes me enjoy two classes that sport a theme I loathe, you'll know you have something awesome at your fingertips.



Now this book is not perfect - I wasn't blown away by all archetypes; the momenta, which I love to death as one of my favorite classes herein, imho requires a second editing pass/a capable DM to streamline and take the rough edges off. The Demiurge's laser battery needs a nerf-whack. And the pauper left me singularly unimpressed, having seen the interacting pools done more in a precise and organic way. Heck, I even made a class with two fluid pools interacting with one another. That aside, the pauper also feels oddly linear and as if it were part of another book. Similarly, not all feats blew me away, but if I broke that down for you, the review would go on for even longer. And I honestly am not sure whether anyone will read this monstrosity as it stands.



Ultimately, though, none of the gripes I could muster, whether they be typos or the above, can stand before a superb appendix and no less than 13 classes I will definitely use in my games - this is pretty much the highest density of classes I have ever allowed a single book to contribute to any game of mine and that is a significant achievement. Now as you all know, I'm a stickler for the more complex classes, but even the simple ones herein have something unique going for them, a playing experience that deviates from what other classes can offer - and what more can you expect from a new base class? In the end, the Liber Influxus Communis may not be a perfect book, but it is still an excellent and inexpensive way to add a vast array of pure innovation to your game - a smörgåsbord of unique mechanics and things no other class can do. And I love it for exactly that. This book exemplifies the work of some of the finest designers in the field and I have, ultimately, always valued innovation and slight rough edges higher than bland mechanical perfection - and, as such, the few mechanical bumps that are herein could in no way stand in relation to the awesomeness that this book brings to the table, they simply pale and fade when seen in relation with the vast array of cool tricks the content herein makes possible. My final verdict thus will be 5 stars + seal of approval and I nominate this book as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.



And if you're still reading that, let me extend my heartfelt thank-you to you for sticking with my ramblings and reading my 2000th review. I write them for you and remain yours,

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Liber Influxus Communis (PFRPG)
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Dire, Devilish Deeds (4 of 4): Devaneas Arcineum 2
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 03:27:41
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final part of the Dire, Devilish Deeds-series and part II of the sorcerous gauntlet clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 42 pages, so let's take a look!



As with all the reviews of modules in this series, at this point I assume you're familiar with all my previous reviews of this series - I assume you're familiar with the basic premise of the series and the uncommon and slightly wonky way in which transmutation works herein and the potential rough edges you might encounter. I do assume that you're willing to tackle these books on their own level and appreciate a more adventure-style gameplay as opposed to what we usually get in a given module.



This module continues the brain-teasers of the sorcerous gauntlet's puzzles and polymorphed combat challenges. From now on, the SPOILERS thus reign - potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still here? Only DMs around? Great! The first challenge is pretty easy- use bone tiles to create a sentence...only with a twist. In the last installment, I complained about the forms into which the PCs were transformed - last installment, we got mainly bland celestial animals versus anaimals. Well, this time around, the first combat is PC Hound Archons versus Satyrs - raw damage vs. subtlety - interesting set-up!



The next challenge is imho too simple and amounts to a swift letter-changing puzzle. It's so simple, in fact, I don't really get how one could possibly fail it, but on the plus-side, the combat that pits the PCs in the skin of bralanis against salamanders makes somewhat up for this. The next puzzle is more interesting - we are presented with a visual representation of a pentagon that contains a pentagram and are challenged to determine the amount of triangles. I considered this one actually pretty interesting in its premise, so yeah - nice one and makes up for a once again bland combat -after the previous ones that sported tactics and various abilities, the reduction of celestial elephants versus dire tigers felt rather bland.



On the plus-side, the next puzzle does retain the high quality of the previous one - we are presented with a line of seemingly jumbled letters that can assume two configurations - by moving letters in the right way, one can craft a sentence from nonsense. And yes, in case you haven't noticed, the puzzles do mirror some concepts traditionally aligned with how one perceives arcane magic to work, so kudos for maintaining thematic consistency. The combat challenge awaiting would pit the PCs in celestial cachalot whale form versus dire sharks - at least the aquatic dimension should prove to be interesting, but still - would have preferred a more interesting set-up.



The final puzzle, once again, is pretty glorious, though - we receive 34 letters as tiles, which have to be arranged on a grid to spell out the numerical names of the different levels of magic - the problem being, that the combined letters of those amount to 45. Nice one! Thankfully, the final combat, which puts the PCs in leonal bodies and sees them challenge elder air elementals, once again also can be considered a fitting one.



Like the first gauntlet, the letters received as rewards for each bested challenge also double as the (simple) final puzzle, which, after a short respite, offers a way out of the gauntlet. The final aftermath, including the level-dependant treasure is provided in a way that mirrors the end of the first gauntlet...and that's it.



Don't get me wrong, much like in the first gauntlet's finale, I loved the final fluff of the section. I enjoyed the puzzles - but the ending of this, the last installment of the saga, feels horribly abrupt.



So the PCs have bested these two gauntlets, made point for the supremacy of either type of magic, proven their smarts...and now what? Nothing? Really? Where is the final epilogue, perhaps a comparable tally of success, something to wrap up the gauntlets? Don't get me wrong, I get the modular nature: "Start with whatever gauntlet you like and ignore the other, run both, etc. - all up to you." I GET that. But where's the climax? The conclusion? What if the PCs have aced both gauntlets? Where is the epilogue, the final puzzle, the final test? As written, the end of this saga feels terribly anti-climactic - it just peters out.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks in full-color are awesome. The map, which comes with a player-friendly-version, is functional, but not up to AAW Games' usual standard. The visual representations of the puzzles and their solutions are cool.



I absolutely adore Stephen Yeardley's Dire, Devilish Deeds-saga for its innovation, for its completely unique set-up for adventures, for being utterly distinct. If you've read my previous reviews, you'll realize that. However, at the same time, I do feel like the second gauntlet, while upping the ante regarding puzzle-quality, sports the less inspired combat challenges, with some amounting to none-too-interesting pairings - while less pronounced than in the last installment, this one also features some pairings that fall behind in terms of coolness, that feel less "arcane" than they ought to. Still, in this regard, this one surpasses its direct predecessor. At the same time, though, this is the final part in the series. Part 4 of 4. I *get* that one can play the first and second half of this series as stand-alone. I like this modular aspect - but neither installment 2, nor 4 provide a conclusion for anything beyond their own gauntlet - the overall narrative is left hanging, there is no true resolution, no catharsis to be had for the PCs and in a final installment of a series this unconventional, going all out for a final, big square off would have been not only rewarding, but awesome - where is the "Planetar PCs vs. Tarrasque"-climax, the "Elder Elementals vs. Pit Fiends" test? What about a combat of dragons? something like that, something that feels suitably epic. As written, the final challenges of each gauntlet are cool, yes, but then the modules, the whole saga, somewhat peters out. I really thought I'd see the big boom here, but instead, I got a whimper - or rather, a shrug.



This does not make this series any less awesome - even as scavenging material, this series is definitely worth its asking price. Still, with the somewhat abrupt ending and the couple of less inspired combats herein, I can't go as high as I'd want to - my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4, but I will add my seal of approval.



The overall series, mind you, would receive the same verdict as a whole - while I ADORE the uniqueness and premise, the puzzles and puzzle combat challenges, I do feel that the series has some rough edges, could have handled its polymorphing slightly better, could have had more exciting creature-pairings, especially in #3, and the lack of a true ending/epilogue may be jarring for some of you. While I still consider this series important as modules for PFRPG as a whole and worthwhile, even if only for scavenging purposes, I do consider them also to fall short of true excellence, of fully realizing the vast potential that is clearly here - this has the making of a total classic, but as written, its rough edges slightly mar the absolutely superb level of daring and innovation exhibited here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dire, Devilish Deeds (4 of 4): Devaneas Arcineum 2
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Mythic Options: Mythic Base Class Features
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 03:19:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Options-series clocks in at a massive 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of advertisement, leaving us with 26 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look!



Mythic class features, as in the installment on core abilities, can be taken as 1st tier universal path abilities or in lieu of a mythic feat. In order to take such a class feature, the character needs to have its non-mythic iteration. Where the first such pdf covered the base classes, this one covers the classes introduced in the other, big Paizo hardcovers, not including the hybrid classes. Since, much like the first pdf, the class features are plentiful herein, I will not analyze them piece by piece, instead trying to give you a general overview.



Alchemists may substitute mythic power for extracts when using them, but only to prevent the expenditure or extracts with a casting duration of a standard action or below, but with increased CL and yes, even with the addition of metamagic, but only while adhering to pretty specific restrictions. A similar trick can apply to mythic bombs, hence providing a nice theme of resource-conversion. Mythic mutagens deserve special mention, because they are downright brilliant - 1/mutagen duration, the character may draw upon the power of the mutagen to execute one of 3 special, unique and downright brilliant moves that reflect the nigh-impossible surge, for additional melee attacks and even speed-blasted drive-by attacks - and this type of ability, with inspired, odd mechanics and new, wholly distinct options is what I love to see from such pdfs - much like the familiar-upgrade in the first pdf provided new options, this one changes how mutagens feel - which is neat. The discoveries generally adhere to a solid numerical escalation, with increased usability or the option to mix damage-types for bombs. Generally, the abilities provided here can be considered inspired indeed - but when e.g. +1 DC is the only effect of Mythic Poison use, I can't help but ask who'd waste a path ability/mythic feat for the class feature...



The cavalier's challenge nets him tier SR versus the target, which may be neat, but not too impressive. Mounts receive the upgrades by tier we'd expect for them and order abilities generally net additional uses or better action economy. All in all, the latter results in an interesting array of new options, especially when considering the 60 ft. upgraded reach of the tactician ability's mythic version. Banner receives a similar upgrade in range, btw., and the capstoen supreme charge now is a flat-out save-or-die brute. A solid one.



Mythic gunslingers may utilize their new mythic tricks to repair guns on the fly and regain 1 point of grit whenever they expend a point of mythic power. Deeds receive a numerical escalation of some sorts (with e.g. deadeye ignoring the range-increment-penalties beyond the first, for a true sniping experience) or provide better transparency between mythic power and grit. The mythic inquisitor displays one of those "expand them yourself" abstract guidelines to provide versatile scaling for domain-abilities not covered in the book, akin to the formula utilized for sorceror bloodlines in the previous book - complex, but nice. That being said, unlike the unique inquisitions, the domain-specific tricks are taken from the cleric and as such feel a bit odd/not really fitting - and they have inherited the issue of e.g. duplicating the effects of mistsight in anything but the proper name. Extending judgments to allies via mythic power helps make them feel more viable (and imho would have served the base class pretty well!), while mythic bane now constantly applies - pretty powerful. Alas, while the editing of thsi one is better than that of the predecessor, there are glitches to be found herein as well - take mythic exploit weakness, which reads "When the inquisitor scores a critical hit against a creature, it's [sic!] fast healing and regenerations top functioning..." - we can all glean what that ought to say, but it still had me chuckle a bit - hey, at least it's a humorous double-typo!



The magus can receive spell-list expansion of a limited variety and increase the selection of special weapon abilities available via the arcane pool. Magus arcana are interesting in that they sport more than one way to gain a mythic upgrade - either, you can wildcard-instant-arcana retrain 1/day or provide numerical escalations for the arcana chosen. Especially interesting would be e.g. the options to deliver ray spells that target more targets in one touch attack - upon hitting, all effects are resolved versus the enemy at once - this may not sound like much, but some closer scrutiny should unveil without problems the significant increase in the glass-cannon-theme's efficiency. In non-mythic games, I'd be screaming brimstone and hellfire by now, but in certain (though probably not all) mythic games, this will work pretty well. Just be careful when handing out spells that net a lot of rays... The tier-based scaling of anti-magic weapon special abilities provided by the mythic version of dispelling strike once again can be considered a nice one. That being said, mythic spell combat is pretty massive - "The magus can use a hand wielding a weapon to fulfill somatic components." - this opens the way for all sword-and-board (mythic medium armor gets rid of arcane spell failure for shields) and dual-wielding types and the lack of restriction on melee/range means that even ranged magi are game. Now you are aware that I'm pretty much conservative when it comes to certain options, and the complete dissolution of most restrictions for spell combat opens the door wide for full-blown archer/caster-duality - and we all know that neither needed the increase in damage potential - so yeah, I'd be careful with this one. Same goes for allowing the magus access to wizard spells via the knowledge pool - that is INSANE. It's the largest, most powerful spell-list available. Not gonna happen, not even in my mythic games. Odd - fighter training's mythic version now allows the magus to count as 1/2 monk level for feat-prereq purposes - while I get the intent, there are not *that* many feats based on monk-levels as prereqs - most are based on feats and abilities.



Mythic oracles once again come with a massive and more than useful general guideline for the application of mysteries and revelations and generally, numerical escalations for the various revelations - upgrades from blindsense to blindsight, added tiers etc. - all in all, nice. A curse's debilitating effects also get mitigated sooner, with the character level for the purposes of the curse being effectively enhanced by the tier - and the option to suspend the curse and its drawbacks temporarily by expenditure of mythic power. The mythic summoner may also select a limited assortment of spells from other classes and the eidolon can be enhanced to receive mythic abilities as well as the option to expend mythic power - the ability is based on the animal companion here, with a druid-remnant making that ample clear. Surprisingly, in spite of transpoistion allowing for the eidolon to remain a bit after a knockout, the mythic summoner feels like one of the most rounded of feature-suites herein, though temporarily granting allies evolution points opens a huge can of worms that perhaps should be carefully considered - and definitely prepared ahead of time to avoid grinding the game to a halt.



The witch's cackle can now be executed by the familiar (not a big fan), but increasing the same to mythic would an option I'd consider must-have and long overdue. Once again, the witch can be considered, surprisingly, one of the suites I did not consider problematic. Now beyond these base-classes, Antipaladin, ninja and samurai are covered as well - the antipaladin being very interesting in that it is NOT a inverse paladin, instead receiving the option to choose one evil alignment per level, allowing the antipaladin to ignore the code of conduct as long as he retains the ethos of the alignment chosen. Permanent nondetection versus thought/alignment-reveals also should be considered a cool and overdue option. Spellcasting is also interesting - it provides a so-called "vile spell niche" - upon slaying a creature an antipaladin makes a character level check and may thus learn the spells of the creature slain - only temporarily, though. Pretty much inspired, that one. Ninjas receive mythic power/ki-point transparency and over all, can be considered nice (though there obviously is quite some overlap with the rogue) - I just wished mythic evasion had been slightly nerfed. Then again, using invisible blade to help adjacent allies vanish is pretty much one of the most iconic of ninja tricks - so yeah, over all, a cool suite. The mythic samurai may forego the order connection in favor of leadership/enhanced social prowess and status (and abilities). The numerical escalation for even more uses of resolve (+tier) feels excessive to me - the ability that boils essentially down to mettle did not need numerical escalation or even more uses -especially seeing how high-level samurai receive heal at full CL for 3 mythic power...ah, screw it, I like that they become very hard to kill indeed and samurai had the short end of the support stick for a long time!



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches, though less so than in the core mythic class ability-pdf. Layout adheres to a cleaner standard - the columns feel less jumbled than in older RGG-supplements and the pdf comes with a brownish background. The layout adheres to an otherwise pretty printer-friendly two-column standard with numerous stock-art pictures. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Owen K.C. Stephen's second take on mythic class features feels superior to the first book - mainly because it feels more refined - there are less obvious cut-copy-paste errors, less wonky bits...but most importantly, there simply are more interesting rules-choices herein. Perhaps it's the sheer amount of mythic supplements I've reviewed, but numerical escalation, whether in normal or mythic contexts, bores me and exacerbates the issues the math sports at higher levels. This pdf does something smart more often than not, opting for unique, cool options in quite a few cases, where the mythic versions simply add a distinct, new and unique element to the game - when the pdf does this, I could hug it - mythic mutagens, for example, will become an instant staple in my games.



The issue at the root of this system, though, is one that this pdf does not address either - since all class features utilize the same basic resource, we have a broad discrepancy between the power granted and viability of the class features within the classes and across their borders - wasting the precious resource for +1 DC is just downright dumb, especially when literally all other class features provide at least a larger numerical bonus or even aforementioned unique options. So the issue remains - and with it, my basic assertion - this is a pdf I will use and introduce - but only as a tightly-controlled toolkit. Its design-options that grant access and help for the DM are a godsend (looking at the general rules-info for all mysteries/revelations and their mythic scaling, for example) showcase Owen's massive capabilities, while at the same time the aforementioned resource-issue sticks out like a sore thumb and remains unresolved. The options provided are not balanced among themselves, with power varying wildly between the respective options provided.



So no, this will not land in my player's hand sans modification/filtering, but at the same time, I consider it a blessing for mythic games and a step forward when compared to its direct predecessor. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at a slightly improved 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purposes of this platform to signify the increased oomph and creativity this mythic option-pdf displays.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Options: Mythic Base Class Features
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Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 03:16:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



The tomb of Nekh-Ta-Nebi can be used as its own tomb of a minor noble or as part of a bigger complex, if you're for example running Gary Gygax Necropolis, Dunes/Desert of Desolation or Mummy's Mask. The complex itself is pretty much a straight-forward Egyptian-themed dungeon, complete with plague zombie retinue and undead hyenas, the latter of which have their stats handily modified), culminating in fights with a mummy and a shadow.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf has one piece of neat full-color artwork. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players.



Jonathan Ely's Tomb of Nekh-Ta-Nebi is as straight-forward a mini-dungeon as you'll get for the theme - it is solid in its theme and execution and there is nothing wrong with it. Conversely, it also is kind of unremarkable. No room, hazard or encounter really blew me away and the overall complex left me unimpressed. Now this may well be the jaded bastard in me speaking, but I found this mini-dungeon lacking in anything remarkable that sets it apart. While this means that this pdf probably fits into every Egyptian-themed scenario, it also left me thinking that I can brew a scenario like this up on the fly. Time-starved DMs may still consider this worthwhile, even though I, as a person, didn't. As a reviewer, I can value the solid craftsmanship, though, and for the time-starved DM, this might work. hence, my final verdict clocks in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
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Everyman Archetypes: Swashbuckler
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2015 02:48:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first Everyman Archetypes-pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, after a page that explains the basic design-tenets of the options herein, we are introduced to the daredevil. The signature deeds of this archetype allow it to use acrobatics and panache reactively to roll a skill-check versus an attack-roll to negate a particular assault. The expenditure of a finite resource saves this particular ability from the by-now old "EZG rants on skills versus atk"-tirade - while I remain not a big fan of it, I'll shut my trap for now. 3rd level sees a significant passive Acrobatics-bonus, increasing the mobility of the class. At 7th level, a kind of improved Spring Attack that also works with Vital Strike deserves special mention - why? Because the agile, devastating blow pretty much can be considered to be something the swashbuckler ought to have been able to do in the first place. Speaking of which - 5th level (and 9th) net the daredevil free Vital Strike with light and one-handed piercing weapons as well as a minor damage/atk-bonus, further emphasizing the concept provided by the aforementioned deeds. The capstone is an auto-crit-confirmer with better threat-range and multiplier, which, as you can probably glean, makes level 20 swashbucklers damage-monsters.



The dashing commander is essentially a cha-based specialist of Battle Cry, becoming immune to fear while under battle cry, with options to enhance ally-rerolls and morale benefits. The capstone also enhances the rerolls gained. Overall solid, if not that interesting. Oppugnant Duelists can use panache to gain surge-like 1d6-benefits to social skills - here, the interesting concept would be the exploding die: On a 6, the duelist may roll again and add the results together. Yes, I love this. Why? Because I will never forget the one time my elven Infiltrator managed to best an undead dragon in Shadowrun by making a check versus 37. The face of my then DM was priceless as the 6s came coming. Exploding dice rock. Even better, the archetype provides full synergy with the stellar Psychological Combat-pdf - while you do not require it, I do suggest you get this inexpensive gem. Another cool archetype, mainly because it plays like fun and can duplicate in game the unlikely deeds one associates with swashbuckling.



The Rapscallion gets 6+Int skill ranks per level and a modified proficiency list. Beyond these, they regain 1 panache whenever they roll a natural 6 on a sneak attack damage dice - sneak attack is gained at 3rd level and increases by +1d6 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. So yeah, this is the rogue-y swashbuckler and it makes sense, with rogue talents being added to the array of bonus feats available. The archetype also is particularly adept at using dirty tricks and feints. The class pays for this by losing precise strike, menacing swordplay and superior feint. I do like this one, but I am not sold on the sneak attack damage dice related panache-regain - it asks to be gamed and a cap per round, scaling upwards, would have somewhat mitigated the temptation of experimenting with number of attack-increasing trickery. That being said, on its own for more linear builds, the math checks out.



The Two-Weapon duelist gains a form of rend with two weapons and may utilize panache and AoOs as resources to render two-weapon combat more efficient -all in all solid, though I wished the pdf sported a means for the two-weapon specialist to be more agile - after all, that's the main drawback of two-weapon fighting in the first place and the one concept that does not line up well with the base class. Vainglory swashbucklers may gain personal deeds - they essentially can treat feats they do not own as deeds, with an ample list provided.



There also are new feats herein, though not all of them made me cackle with glee: Take Charmed Panache: While you have 1 panache, charmed life allows you to add cha-mod to all saves, with a failure ending it - this essentially triples the effect of the base ability and makes it passive. Nope, not gonna happen in my group. Feint targets of charges, on the other hand, is pretty much what I expected the base class to handle, so yeah, nice. There obviously is a Dex-to-damage feat and a means to negate AC-penalties imposed by feats you use via Bluff would be another one that may be okay, but also not earthshattering. A feat that allows for swashbuckling via natural attacks, on the other hand, pretty much is a huge enabler for a vast array of builds, so kudos there, though the built-in Dex-mod replacement makes the feat a bit stronger than the base take. Panache regain via natural 20s of combat maneuvers or skills is interesting. The pdf also sports a feat that allows you to swashbuckle with shields, emphasizing the blocker-aspect of the class and two-weapon precise strike synergy is nice as well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming's two-column full-color standard and sports actual unique full-color artworks - nice to see in such a small pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Alexander Augunas is right now one of my favorite crunch-designers and there is a reason for that - not one of the archetypes herein is boring, all of them radically change the way in which the base-class of the swashbuckler plays, and imho, in most cases, for the better. More than that, the archetypes do interesting things with their mechanics, things I have not seen other archetypes do - and this is worth quite a bit to me. Among a flood of boring +/--exchanges, these stand out. What this pdf manages to achieve is impressive in that it takes a base class frame-work that did not impress me and refined it to the point, where the archetypes herein imho are closer to what the class was trying to do in the first place.



At the same time, however, I am not 100% sold on some design-decisions herein -now don't get me wrong, they are NOT bad; they tend to be mostly mathematically sound and some sample builds in action proved that they are functional. Not all are perfect, though and ultimately, I wished some of them went one step beyond, further utilizing the awesome base mechanics Alex has devised to a fuller extent. That being said, I do consider the archetypes herein to be a vast blessing for the swashbuckler class and ultimately, a must-have addition to the class's roster. Still, in the end, I can't bring myself to absolutely unanimously recommend it - perhaps I've been spoiled by Alex' designs, but I found myself wishing that some of the archetypes herein went one step further to set them apart versus the base class, that they did slightly more with their utterly awesome unique rules-components. This, combined with the minor concerns mentioned above, makes me settle on a final verdict of 4 stars, with the caveat that fans of the swashbuckler class who want it to actually work better in its chosen field should definitely get this inexpensive pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Archetypes: Swashbuckler
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Puppets of Porphyra [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2015 02:46:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



No, I'm not stumped that I'm reviewing a supplement on puppets. I've reviewed a base-class of this theme in the past. So let's take a look at the beginning - the pdf starts with a definition of puppetry as a sub-category of Perform, which fittingly also covers using the shadow puppeteer wayang bard archetype and the interaction with this one's class abilities.



Next up would be the new 10-level puppeteer PrC. Said class receives 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, 6+Int skills per level and 1/2 ref-and will-save progression as well as 7/10 spellcasting-progression. The PrC does not receive any proficiencies, but it does add its level to the duration of any enchantment spells cast - which is interesting, seeing how long some enchantments last in the first place; we're talking about hours and days. So, where things become interesting would be with the modification of summon monster - the spell conjures forth an elemental spirit to animate a previously constructed puppet. Now if animated objects seem tougher than regular summons, that would be true -and is balanced via costs to create the bodies to be inhabited by the spirits.



The PrC thus can be considered an enchantment/minion-specialist who also receives craft construct and a powerful capstone that allows his puppets to defeat even fearsome foes, bypassing DR and increasing the threat-range. Next up would be the new magic items - and oh boy, are they delightfully bonkers!



While the first one is pretty conservative, being a beguiling gift spell-in-a-can, it also provides for a discount when shopping. Now concept-wise, the puppets are a DELIGHT. I mean it - they are awesome - from synergy with bardic performances to thoroughly unique abilities, these puppets can be considered inspired in all the right ways - I've been smiling like the Cheshire cat while reading these. Then, I began analyzing and the sighing began. What do I mean by this? Take the "Giant's Fearsome Duo:" When donning these odd puppets (What action? One for each of the two puppets?) 1/day, the user is affected by enlarge person. Furthermore, the following happens: "The mawgriff-head becomes a fearsome beast’s head attached to the user’s arm, gaining reach and allowing a bite attack with a +7 attack bonus, doing 1d8+5 damage, attacking once per round. Out of combat, the mawgriff-head grants the user the scent ability, used with a +9 Perception score."



So, does the head replace the arm? If so, does the attack count as primary or secondary? What happens to objects held in the hand affected? If not, is it autonomous? If so, can the user deliver touch spells via the mawgriff head and respective class abilities? Is the +7 attack bonus autonomous from the user? Can the user determine which target the head attacks? If the head grants the scent ability, why does it have a fixed Perception check listed? The user would modify usually his/her/its own Perception skill by adding scent... Now to give you an inkling of my pain here, remember that this is HALF of the magic item. And yes, there are more solid examples herein, but I just sat in front of my screen with a frowny face and thought "Why?" I honestly don't get how such awesome visuals and concepts can be hampered by such a lackluster execution. And yes, mentions of bardic "distraction checks" - which do not exist, btw., can also be found.



The bard can make performance checks to use the Distraction ability, but there is no such thing as a distraction check. At the same time, capability is not the issue - we have e.g. means of using Punch and Judy dolls to use rounds of bardic performance to deliver attacks at close range versus targets as though they were flat-footed - talk about imaginative crunch and cool imagery! Cursed puppets that try to murder their owners are also interesting, though I do not get how they can automatically deal damage when they obviously ought to attack the wielder. We also receive a new artifact and 4 cool construction point-options for animated objects alongside 3 flaws for further customization options. Manipulating unconscious, paralyzed or sleeping humanoids or creating an unhittable vermin make for rather cool (and potentially hilariously annoying!) spells. We also receive 4 sample puppets (including variants!) as well as a sample character utilizing the PrC.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay- in some instances, I do think that the minor glitches can render the rules syntax more opaque than it ought to be. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports some gorgeous full-color artworks - kudos!



Author Perry Fehr has a distinct style I absolutely ADORE - his prose and ideas are ridiculously awesome and fun and this pdf, being bonkers, allows him to perfectly use his talents to the full extent. I love this pdf, I really, really do - why? Because its crunch-decisions are brave and innovative - there is no single item I'd consider boring - even when the puppets provide a spell-in-a-can, they also have additional, unique benefits, often of a refreshingly unique, glorious bent.



So, as a person, I did adore this pdf, I really loved it.



As a reviewer, though, I ought to rip this a new one. As much as I want to rate this 5 stars + seal of approval, the rules-language just does not allow for it. While the builds, PrC etc. are pretty solid, there are so many, let's call them by their name, blunders. This pdf at once showcases that proper rules-language is not beyond the capacities of the author and how superb ideas can be tarnished by an execution that simply is not as concise, as good as it should be.



Now personally, I can easily salvage everything herein and my game is better off for this - as mentioned, I adore just about everything herein. At the same time, I can see this making issues galore for less rules-savvy groups and loathe the at times sloppy execution of concepts that deserve refinement. If you are willing to work with this pdf, then GET it - it is a delightfully bonkers, high-concept book. For you, this very much may be a 5 star + seal of approval file. If you, however, expect water-tight rules-language or shirk away from refining rules to make content work, then steer clear of this. My final verdict, as much as I hate to do it, will clock in at 3 stars since I have to take the issues into account.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Puppets of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Island Keep
Publisher: Ars Phantasia Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/03/2015 02:44:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Map-pack comes in a zip-file that sports two folders: One containing high-res jpegs, one that sports pdfs.



Let's start with the jpegs - these come with full-color and b/w-versions as well as a rendition of the cover - both come in two versions: One sports labels that denote which buildings are which, whereas the others come without them for maximum immersion. (Nice if you're like me and HATE handing out maps with numbers detailing the hotspots...



First of all, this keep/village provides multiple levels of fortification - all but the southern shore of the island sports massive, rugged cliffs that jut from the ocean. The southern shore also sports a significant array of wharves, with a slum/shanty-town-like section below the lowest wall. After the harbor's wall, one can find a basilica and a steep stairway that leads towards a beacon, which uncannily lies at the south-eastern rise of the cliffs. At the northwestern part of the island, one can see a second, higher and elevated rise, behind a second wall, one can perceive a massive keep that looms over an island that conspicuously looks like an inverse eagle's or dragon's head...



The pdfs clock in at 23 pages each - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, leaving a total of 20 pages for the maps. The pdf first provides aforementioned maps that also are included as high-res jpegs - so if you require an overview of the keep, these would be what you want. Thereafter, we get 4 blown-up versions of the map - each iteration is provided in a version, wherein the map spreads across a total of 4 pages, thus allowing you to print out a big map. If you're like me a European, you will be very much in luck, for one pdf provides the maps in letterpack format, whereas the second delivers the maps optimized for the A4-format.



Conclusion:

Tad Davis delivers a glorious, fortified locale here, one that, by virtue of its very make-up, inspires the imagination. Infiltrating this place should be challenging, as should be escaping from this place. As an adventuring locale, this is one neat place that showcases a talent for great cartography and for locales that inspire - that being said, there is quite a bit of water here and, when compared to the rest of the map, the lack of waves and relatively bland uni-color water looks less alive, less evocative than the rest of the map, so this is definitely a component wherein the pdf can be improved. I also would have loved a version of the map even further blown up and studded with a grid for miniature uses, but I guess we can't have everything. Still, this is one fine map and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzietgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Island Keep
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Gibbous Moon Collector's Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2015 05:09:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The collector's edition of Gibbous Moon clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages editorial/intro, 1 page ToC, 1 page foreword/author bios, 1 page of advice for using the adventure, 1 page advice for reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a page providing an introduction, we receive a new and rather well-drawn one-page illustration and then dive into what sets this edition apart from its previous iteration: Barlow. What is Barlow, you ask? Well, essentially, the module has been expanded to provide a full-blown village backdrop for your convenience - no longer is the default village considered to be an opaque place to drop the module into. Instead, what we have here amounts to a full-blown installment in Raging Swan press' beloved series.



In case you are not familiar with my reviews of the series, this does mean that the town not only receives lavish cartography, but also a statblock, a market section for magical items, sample names and yes, dressing habits of the local populace. This also covers sites of interest and in this case, mroe sample statblocks for villagers. Law and Order and daily routine of the local populace are touched upon as well and PCs doing the legwork can unearth local village lore or dive deep into the box of tricks that does contain whispers and rumors which may or may not eb true and can be considered a great spray of local color/adventure hooks. Furthermore, a selection of short, local events helps you bring the picturesque village of Barlow to life - and alive it is: What started as an isolated druidic enclave has seen a recent influx of dwarves (originally rescued from redcaps), who brought with them a sense of modernity not known in the rustic place.



Now if you expect yet another nature vs. progress-struggle, breathe a sigh of relief - no, the dwarves are not the bad progress-guys here - they actually do submit to the village's way of life and thus thankfully deviate from the stereotype. The conflict at the heart of this place is one of change versus tradition - and as we all know, change is inherently painful, but sticking to tradition may lead to stagnation - a kind of subtle leitmotif that is part of the whole module. Oh, and have I mentioned that there is an actual dryad in the center of the village? Alas, in the last couple of months, some cattle have gone missing and racial tensions rise, while a grumpy hermit at the wondrous local Clear Water has been less than cooperative.



Going above and beyond, we even get a mini-woodland dressing for the trek from the village to the hermitage...



Since this is an adventure I'm reviewing here, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? The adventurers are led to the Clear Pool hermitage after unearthing some additional pieces of information via social skills etc. in Barlow. Once at the hermitage, they can find not only the grisly remains of sheep, but also encounter a savage dire boar. The hermitage, located in cliffs near a waterfall, is presented as series of natural caves with RSP's trademark attention to detail being reflected in a table of carvings, carcasses to find etc. Speaking of grisly finds - in one of the caves, Viljo, lone survivor of his adventuring team, awaits - he was also sent to this place to recover saintly bones, but his companions have been slaughtered by the resident of this place, a man named Dunstan who subsequently made zombies out of Viljo's former companions.

Dunstan, himself once an adventurer and necromancer, was infected with were-boar lycanthropy and is responsible for the cattle thefts - he stole the livestock to quench his lycanthropic hunger and prevent the beast inside from turning upon the local populace. The moral dilemmata in confronting Dunstan are evident. While the man has acted to keep innocents from harm, he has resorted to theft to do so. Moreover, he has slain Viljo's comrades, animated them and infected the poor man with lycanthropy as well. He's not evil (yet) though, and while he is a necromancer, he's not one of the insane kind - so what do the PCs do? Kill him? Try to negotiate a deal between him and the village? Try to cure him? What is the right thing to do? This openness of the module is commendable and DCs to broker a non-violent solution, a cure for lycanthropy of his particular strain and multiple hooks for further adventuring are also included.



The pdf also provides 6 pregens for your convenience.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to RSP's concise and crisp standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for screen use and one to be printed out. Both files are small enough to not be a burden on mobile devices. The b/w-artworks and cartography are nice indeed.



So, the original Gibbous Moon was a solid, nice little sidetrek centered around a moral question and sporting a fun little dungeon with excruciating details. But it didn't manage to capture me to the extent that most RSP modules do - why? Because it felt a bit color-less in comparison to other supplements by RSP. Well, the collector's edition sweeps all of that away. We not only get a massive array of supplemental content, Creighton Broadhurst and Jacob W. Michaels deliver an utterly superior version with this module's expanded edition. The more detailed context lends a new unique leitmotif and sense of gravitas to the module that any DM worth their salt can develop into a full-blown awesomeness of consequences. Can a certain individual be reintegrated into a society already on the verge of change? Exciting and awesome, with resonating themes that surpass what one would expect from a short module like this, the collector's edition receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Even if you have the original, the village backdrop-installment added to the module still makes this a valid purchase.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gibbous Moon Collector's Edition
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Mini-Dungeon #011: Buta No Shiro
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/02/2015 05:07:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



When the PCs enter a certain town, they will end up on the hit-list of the reason of the local crackdown on any crime - a warthog-headed rakshasa has taken it upon himself to use his mind-reading powers to aid a local magistrate. To put a stop to the evil creature's machinations (before they end up on its hitlist...), the PCs have to infiltrate the hidden complex of the rakshasa, where advanced devils, shackled angels, a decadent harem and, of course, the dread mastermind behind the law-force's current efficiency loom.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players.



Jonathan Ely's Buta No Shiro is his first mini-dungeon I really like - not only is the premise awesome and cool, the complex's location is left deliberately opaque and the diversity of foes herein is also neat. Beyond that, smart tactics for the villain and nice prose render this a good mini-dungeon. While I would have enjoyed more terrain-hazards, this still is a fun mini-dungeon, well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4. If Jonathan continues to hone his craft, the next mini-dungeon could be pure awesomeness!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #011: Buta No Shiro
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