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Everyman Minis: Sleeping Rules
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:16:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so we begin with a brief recap of the terms “rest”, “sleep” and “unconscious(ness)” in the context of the PFRPG-rules – handy to realize the distinctions when you’re not already an expert designer.

After this recap, we take a look at sleep required for characters – and then move on to concise rules for Sleep Deprivation, which tie in smoothly with Horror Adventure’s sanity system (or any other sanity system you choose to employ) – the rules are based on exhaustion-mechanics and concisely codify how proper sleep can end the weirdness of sleep deprivation, if it hasn’t gone on for too long – and as someone who has suffered from insomnia time and again, I am very much in love with this depiction.

Better yet, these tie in with the conditions of “Asleep” or “Drowsy”, concisely codifying both states and providing, basically, a ladder of sleep-related conditions that allows for a finer gradient. Why is this phenomenal? With just a bit of tweaking, you can balance some of the save-or-suck options at low levels, like the slumber hex, to just note one, without forbidding them or rendering them moot. I ADORE this section.

A total of 3 new spells complement this pdf: Curse of insomnia is pretty much self-explanatory. Sedative drone renders targets drowsy and stimulate can suppress sleep effects or fortify against them, akin to such options for fear.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column standard with a printer-friendly, white background. The full-color artwork is neat. The pdf does not have bookmarks, but needs none.

Alexander Augunas and Matt Morris present a humble, little pdf that presents a significantly more rewarding take on sleep than the default: The rules for sleep deprivation are damn cool; but more than that, it’s what you can DO with these rules that makes this amazing.

Replacing save-or-suck insta-sleep with the new condition makes encountering creatures with sleep-inducing capabilities more rewarding for players and GMs alike, balancing some nasty save-or-suck tricks in the process. In short: Using this pdf makes your game better, with almost no work. While I would have loved to see an ability-by-ability-guideline for drowsiness via magic items and effects, what we do get is amazing and all you can ask of such a humble pdf. I adore this. There are very few such small pdfs that increase a game to this extent – and as such, I award this 5 stars + seal of approval. If it had this list, it’d also get a spot as a candidate of my Top Ten of 2017. This is really, really good – get it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Sleeping Rules
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Town Backdrop: Dunstone
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:14:35

An ENdzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Speaking of danger: The PFRPG-version does come with settlement stats and a market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have.

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, crunchy tidbits or dressing?

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for the review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Dunstone so much!
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:12:58

An Endzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The system neutral version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the old-school crowd!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As a minor note for the system neutral version: While the pdf correctly references thieves as such, it does use “wizard” and “bard” as viable notes for the fluff-only NPCs – personally, I don’t mind that, but someone is bound to complain when I don’t mention that it doesn’t say “magic-user.” So yeah, there you go.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

There’s another thing to be aware of, and this requires a MAJOR SPOILER. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Only referees around? Okay, so the BBEG is an intellect devourer, not exactly the most commonly available monster. While MOST folks will know what this is and should encounter no issues, I figured I should mention that for the context of the system-neutral edition.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a proper marketplace is a big plus for the SNE-version – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
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Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:09:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The 5e version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the 5e-crowd. While this section is almost identical with the SNE-version, it deserves special applause: In old-school games, one spell that’s available is called spiritual hammer – in 5e, the spell obviously is spiritual weapon. The pdf gets this right. It’s a small thing, but it shows attention to detail and care, when cut-copy-pasting would have been simple. Kudos!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place (as always, you can unearth these via Intelligence checks), provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors (as always, you can unearth these via Charisma checks), that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

The NPCs of the town refer, where applicable, to the bolded sample NPCs and creatures.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a properly modified marketplace is a big plus for the 5e-version and as a whole, it has been done with the care I expect – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
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Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
Publisher: Zenith Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:04:42

An Endzietgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so we begin with an explanation of paragon classes: Inc ase you are not aware of Rite Publishing’s phenomenal “In the Company of…”-series, here’s the gist of it: It’s a class, exclusive to a race, that lets you improve your innate racial abilities, allowing you to become more potent over several levels. As this pertains undead racial paragon classes, we begin the pdf with the rotting corpse racial template, which serves as the foundation of the material herein:

Rotting corpses get -2 to Str, Dex, Int, Wis and Cha and use Charisma instead of Constitution as governing attribute. Weird, verbiage-wise: “If the base race gained an ability modifier to Constitution, apply that same modifier to Charisma.” Looks like dwarves make for particularly good-looking corpses…Anyhow; the rotting corpse becomes undead, but retains the parent race’s subtype. Okay, do they still qualify as humanoids of their parent race for the purpose of bane etc.? Rotting corpses don’t suffer from the standard 0 hp-destroyed issue of most undead, instead becoming disabled upon being reduced to 0 hp – it takes an exceeding of Charisma score in negative hit points to destroy them. The race gets +2 to Intimidate versus living creatures, but -2 to Diplomacy, Handle Animal and Ride when interacting with the living. They are not immune to ability drain or damage or mind-affecting effects. They otherwise retain full undead immunities.

Okay, so fragility-issue is addressed; the base race has a couple of nerfs that prevent it from going overboard, but the immunity array is still pretty damn potent. A level 6 spell to raise undead (as opposed to the living) has been included – and yes, it’s still costly as all hell, retaining balance there.

Now, let’s take a look at the racial paragon classes, shall we? Skeletons get d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level (ouch), proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armors and shields, including tower shields. They gain full BAB-progression and god Ref-saves and start the game with Improved Initiative as a bonus feat. They also begin play with their class level as DR/bludgeoning and cold resistance equal to twice their class level. However, they also take their class level as a penalty to Disguise checks to pass as living. They are treated as possessing the skeletal template for the purpose of feats, abilities, etc. At 3rd level, the skeleton gains two claw attacks (doesn’t specify their damage or whether they’re primary or secondary, requiring you to resort to the defaults) and 5th level yields weapon training, with every 4 levels thereafter yielding another weapon training and bonus increases. 9th level provides the option to instead choose advanced weapon training instead. 7th level provides uncanny dodge and 17th level its improved version. 11th level nets cold immunity. 19th level provides immunity to piercing and slashing damage and as a capstone ability, the class gets +4 to initiative, may always act in surprise rounds and gets +2 to Dex. Creatures hit by claws are frightened on a failed save (nitpick: The formula should refer to “Charisma modifier”, not “Cha modifier” and it should refer to class levels – RAW, it could be read as either class or character levels), an ability held in check by a hex-caveat (24 hours immunity on a successful save).

2nd level and every even level thereafter also nets a talent, which are called skeletal boons for this class. If applicable, their save-DCs are governed by Charisma. Here we can find e.g. Point-Blank Shot as a bonus feat r any feat based on it – the skeleton “must meet all qualifications for the feat.” That doesn’t RAW exist – prerequisites is the correct term. Beyond combat feats, we get bleed-damage causing claw attacks (+1d4 bleed, as soon as 4th level – ouch!) and damage auras, both energy based and reflexive explosions that may be upgraded to cause bleeding damage. You’ll notice something: Internal balance is wonky. Would you like +4 to Bluff against the living or massive resistance that upgrades to immunity versus fire or electricity? Yeah, thought so. This hold particularly true with extra arm. It nets you an extra arm. And while that arm doesn’t allow for additional attacks, it can manipulate objects, hold weapons etc. and it has its own hand and ring slots, but still adheres to the cap…which, as a whole, makes this REALLY weird. All the traditional benefits of more arms, apart from holding more stuff ready, don’t apply, and the whole drawing items interactions become wonky. The way in which these additional arms (you may take this as many times as you like) interact with full attacks etc. are also puzzling.

The second racial paragon class would be the zombie, who gains d12 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and proficiency with all simple weapons, but no armor. Instead, the class gains a natural armor bonus that improves from +1 all the way up to +7. The class nets DR/slashing equal to class levels and begins play with a slam attack. Lack of clarification regarding type and damage output means that you need to resort to default values here. Paragon zombies gain slow and steady and Toughness at 1st level. The zombified ability, which makes them count as being a zombie for prerequisite purposes etc., is missing from the class table.

Starting at 3rd level, the paragon zombies gain clinging attacks:, gaining the grab ability – that is very soon for this potent ability; comparable class options yield it later. 5th level yields a bite attack, which once again requires defaulting to standard values, but more so than before, a lack a specification regarding primary or secondary nature is felt here. 7th level yields the Bloody bonus feat, which yields fast healing 1 (increases later) sans cap and thus opens a whole lot of potential exploits. Not a fan. 9th level provides an iterative slam attack. 17th level provides another iterative slam attack at -10. Starting at 13th level, the class also gain s an iterative bite attack at -5. Undead Regeneration is gained at 11th level, suffering from a similar issue as Bloody, just exacerbated. Starting at 13th level, the zombie gains +1 to Fort-, Ref- and Will-saves, which increase by a further +1 every 2 levels thereafter. The capstone doubles regeneration and no longer has it impeded by positive energy and his regeneration may not be suppressed – he becomes unkillable. He can just be incarcerated etc. – not be destroyed. Cool idea, but not sure about it being so absolute.

Much like the skeleton, 2nd level yields a zombie boon, with an additional boon unlocked every even level thereafter. These include stench and an upgrade for it, a concentration-hampering aura, climb speed or constrict, which should be locked behind an appropriate level-cap. There is also a boon that lets the zombie heal by feasting on corpses. While each corpse can only provide nourishment based on Constitution score rounds, this is weird: Tough, Tiny critters yield a ton of sustenance. And yes, this means you’ll have infinite healing, as long as you don’t run out of rats or kittens to consume. Just bad design, forgetting the abuse-prevention there. Similarly potent: Housing a swarm, which is exuded on a crit – once again, internal balance of options could be tighter.

The third class herein would be the paragon vampire, who gets d6 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression. Good Ref- and Will-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The vampire also gains spellcasting and may cast spells in light or medium armor sans incurring spell failure chance. The vampire gains spellcasting of up to 6th level, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list and is a spontaneous spellcaster who uses Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute. Each round a vampire is exposed to sunlight, he is staggered and takes a whopping 2 damage, with the damage increasing by +2 for every level attained after first. He may spend 1 blood point to become immune to the sun for 1 hour. Okay, does this extend to spells that duplicate daylight? If so, then this directly violates a central tenet of how vampires usually are handled.

Paragon vampires are treated as having the template for feat and prerequisite etc. purposes and they begin play with blood drain. While in a grapple and pinning the target, they drain 1d4 Con, healing 5 hit points or gaining 5 temporary hit points per round they drain blood. Temporary hit points seem to stack with themselves, capping at a maximum of the vampire’s normal hit point maximum. The vampire also gains a blood pool of 4 + class level +Charisma modifier blood points. If these drop to 0, the vampire takes -2 to Str, Dex, Cha, Int and Wis and a further -2 to all Charisma-based skill checks. Blood points are also regained by draining targets: If the target has an Intelligence of 5 or less or is mindless, the vampire gains “1 blood point for every two points of Constitution damaged during blood drain.” So, RAW, that would always be 0. Damage =/= drain in PFRPG-rules-language and the difference is quite important. Anyhow, intelligent targets instead yield 1 blood point per Constitution drained (no, sentence 2 didn’t get it right either). Matching the vampires type yields even more blood. In case you’ve been wondering: Yes, this means the class has infinite healing from level 1 onwards AND infinite blood points, just as long as you don’t run out of cute, futzzy kittens to suck dry. Unnecessarily exploitable.

Blood points may be used, starting 1st level, to power a Su-variant of charm person at CL equal character level (or is that class level? The wording could been cleaner…). 7th level unlocks dominate person for 1d6 blood points. 16th level provides dominate monster for 1d10 blood points. 11th level nets create spawn. The capstone reduces the cost of vampire boons by 1 blood point and also provides a fly speed of 30 ft. with perfect maneuverability and +2 to Charisma. Odd, that the reduction doesn’t apply to the charm/dominate-chain.

Vampire boons, you guessed it, represent the talents of the class and the first is gained at 2nd level, with an additional one unlocked every 2 levels thereafter. Boons require the expenditure of blood points and if the amount rolled exceeds the current blood points, the vampire is reduced to 0 blood and the action is wasted. If applicable, saving throw DCs are calculated via Charisma. Children of the night yields the ability to summon nature’s ally, with every 2 levels after 2nd unlocking the higher level versions of the spell – which also cost more blood points, obviously. Gaining a physical buff while in withdrawal, in comparison, is rather weak. The vampire can also choose to be able to assume gaseous form. Energy drain requires blood point expenditure and is relegated to higher levels. Minor bonuses to social skills, gaining resistances for 24 hours – the defensive options and how they are tied to blood points is interesting, but ultimately, they only mean that a vampire will snack on kittens when waking up – their durations are long and since the resource is ridiculously easy to replenish, any choice becomes pretty much non-required. Suffice to say, while I do like the idea of the variable costs, I pretty much HATE this whole class. There have been significantly smoother takes on the playable vampire.

Now, I have already grazed the topic here and there, but there are 2 pages in the pdf, which are devoted to supplemental undead feats: A couple of them and their problems, I have already touched upon. Beyond them, we can find (Improved) Channel Resistance, the extra boon feats, +4 to Ride and Handle Animal and Ride as a class skill (Yay?) and some problematic ones that could use a couple of minimum levels – like one that forces anyone witnessing you attack someone, as not even an option, make a Will-save or become shaken. Still has a hex-caveat, but this should have a maximum range at least. Undead Fortification has no prerequisites either, not has getting freeze or an unnatural aura, though there, I do understand why. Compared with +2 on Disguise checks and losing the disgusting trait, the power-differences should be readily apparent, though. Two feats deserve special mention: Remove Head and Remove Hand (both require at least 4 levels, thankfully) – these are both macabre, somewhat situational, remarkable and offer some interesting tactical options – they represent, if not in perfection, then certainly in style, the high point of this pdf for me.

None of the classes get favored class options and there are no alternate racial traits herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level – I only encountered a couple of formal issues in the rules-language, though there are some serious issues with some design-decisions. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports fitting stock-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a serious comfort-detriment as far as I’m concerned.

Okay, let me get this straight: Jeff Gomez’ undead paragon classes herein aren’t bad per se. They are, however, significantly less versatile and refined than I expected them to be. The low price point does alleviate this slightly, but not completely – personally, I wouldn’t allow any of the classes herein at my table – the cheesing-issues are pretty blatant and while one could try to justify the exploits by the nature of the undead, ultimately there are plenty of 3pp-options that don’t have to resort to the like to make an option work. Beyond that, even if I’d allow them, I’d honestly doubt that any of my players would go for them – the tricks and abilities presented are simply not that interesting and while the vampire’s engine could have carried a vastly superior class, it is trapped in a fragile, rather unimpressive representation of the trope. If you don’t mind infinite healing exploits, then this may provide some fun for you -the pdf isn’t all bad and pretty cheap, after all, and the classes, while not necessarily balanced, are at least functional. Still, personally, I can’t really find any reason to introduce these to the table. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Undead Paragon Classes: Skeleton, Zombie and Vampire
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In The Company of Wights (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/25/2017 04:44:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This revised installment of Rite Publishing's "In the Company of..."-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This is the review of the revised edition with the cool horseman on the cover – if you have the old version, re-download this asap.

All right, we begin this pdf with a heart-warming dedication to the founder of Rite Publishing, Steven D. Russell, who has left us too soon. After this, though, it is similarly heart-warming to see that the traditions of master Russell live on - we begin with an in-character letter of a member of the race, sent to Qwilion of Questhaven, the scribe that is responsible for collecting these pieces of information in the context of the great meta-narratives that suffuse these books.

Thus, as has become the tradition, the flavor-text presented to us would be written from the point of view of the species "We are the hollowed" - indeed! Intelligent, sentient wights spawned from strong souls, these beings sport a glowing gaze and retain the previous race's racial characteristics like height and they, obviously, stop aging -as such, this time around, we actually don't need an age, height or weight table and the racial traits replace those of the base race, but more on that later. The pdf elaborates on society...or rather, about how to fit in with the living and dead...and there is the Urge - the wights herein do crave the essence of the living and there are those that have succumbed to the Urge, while others resist it - the scenario is, roleplay-wise, not unlike that of the World of Darkness.

Now, regarding racial traits, we begin by acknowledging the first issue -as quasi-undead, the wights depicted herein (who call themselves the hollowed) have no Constitution, which would render them OP via most character creation methods - hence, ways to use them in a balanced context with point-buy etc. are included. The hollowed get +2 to Cha, -2 to Int and retain their former humanoid race’s speed and size, which means Small or Medium for the purpose of this race. Base speed is retained, though the hollowed lose, for example, slow and steady. As modified undead, the hollowed gain darkvision 60 ft., a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate.

Modified undead? Well, a sidebar properly defines this: Hollowed have no Constitution score, but have no immunity or resistance to mind-influencing effects. They are immune to bleed, disease and poison, as well as stunning or paralysis, with the caveat that effects that cause the latter two and are resisted by a Will-save still apply – interesting. The race is immune to death and sleep effects and neither subject to nonlethal damage, nor ability drain or damage to physical ability scores. However, they are still subject to energy drain or damage/drain to mental ability scores as though they were living creatures. They are immune to exhaustion and fatigue, unless caused by The Urge or unless caused by a spell, SP or SU or class feature the hollowed possesses. A fatigued or exhausted hollow must save versus the urge when damaged. Now this is interesting – however, there is a minor oddity here: RAW, learning a spell or SP makes the hollowed susceptible to fatigue/exhaustion gained from it. Some may complain about that, but I think one can justify that in game by being more attuned to the particular magics. Balance-wise, this is very much necessary to prevent a metric ton of cheesy exploits. Hollowed are NOT immune versus effects that require a Fort-save and use Charisma modifier instead of Constitution modifier for such saves. Big plus: They lose the annoying undead fragility and remain undead and kicking unless reduced to negative Charisma score hp. Resurrecting magic causes massive damage to them and they don’t need to eat regular food or breathe, but require meditative rest akin to sleep.

Okay, that is already a VAST improvement right there. Death’s Stigma makes starting attitude of creatures two steps worse, one step worse for those that have had interactions with friendly undead. Disguising as a mortal imposes a -5 penalty on the hollowed’s Disguise check

Now, let’s look at the urge and how it has been translated, shall we? The urge is the rage of the void and destruction – going for longer than 24 hours sans 8 hours rest fatigues the hollowed; 48 hours cause exhaustion. When a hollowed is fatigued and takes damage, she must succeed a Will save (DC 15 + ½ character level, DC 20 + ½ character level if exhausted) – on a failure, they succumb to the urge and are compelled to attack the nearest living creature with their slam and energy drain. While under the effects of the urge, the hollowed may not use Cha-, Dex- or Int-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate and Ride) or any ability that requires concentration. Successfully imposing a negative level on a creature causes the hollowed to lose the fatigued/exhausted condition and allows the hollowed to re-attempt a Will-save (versus Dc 15 + ½ character level) to end the urge as an immediate action – on a failure, the hollowed must inflict another negative level before getting a chance to shake off the urge. Hollowed may choose to willingly succumb to the urge as a free action, but after doing so, it requires killing a humanoid (!!!) to get the chance to end the urge via a save – so no, your bag of kitten will not cut it! Big, big kudos!

A hollowed that has succumbed to the urge gains a primary slam attack, (1d4 Medium, 1d3 Small) and energy drain, but the hollowed does not gain temporary hit points from the drain. Humanoids slain by them become wights (with penalties to atk, saves, etc.) – however, these spawns may be controlled freely by the hollow, provided he does not exceed his maximum or chooses to free them. Slightly weird: The spawn-notes refer to a Stealth bonus they do not get, one I could not find among the base traits of the race. Not a big issues, though – it does not impact gameplay.

It should be noted that character creation for 5 attributes and the process of becoming hollowed are concisely codified here.

Clung to life, the first of the alternate racial traits, eliminates the harsh death’s stigma, but replaces your immunities to bleed, disease and poison with a +2 racial bonus on saves against them. Cure seekers are not harmed by resurrecting magic and have the built-in potential to become living once more – they lose the ability to beget spawn. Death sense nets deathwatch 3/day as a SP, replacing darkvision. With humanoid racial trait, which can be selected twice, you can choose to retain some abilities from your parent-race, balancing them on a helpful case by case basis that the pdf concisely codifies. Finally, cure seekers may also choose to have positive energy affinity, but loses energy drain for the easier healing. All in all, a VAST improvement that couldn’t be bigger. I mean it. Every single aspect has been improved far beyond what I would have dared to hope for!

The favored class option-section has similarly been expanded and now covers all classes prior to the ACG and sports meaningful options – e.g. access to cure or inflict spells for bards. Big kudos.

The pdf also features 3 racial archetypes. The night strider rogue can fake being destroyed when at negative hit points, replacing trapfinding. 2nd level replaces evasion with the equivalent for Fort-saves. This can be upgraded to an improved evasion equivalent with an advanced talent. The debilitating strike rogue talent can cause sneak attacked humanoids to temporarily become sickened. An advanced talent can upgrade that to cause negative levels. Trap sense is replaced with scaling save-bonuses versus effects that traditionally affect undead. HUGE improvement.

Now, the pale rider cavalier gains an undead mount at 1st level (losing several of the mount’s potent trick to make up for its undead defenses) Instead of the tactician ability tree, the pale rider gets to choose from hollow boons – basically a talent engine in small, the first of which is gained at 1st level, with 9th and 17th level providing additional choices. These include gaining a burning mount (must be 9th level for that one), cold immunity, channel resistance, being diseased, skeletal mounts air walk options (locked behind minimum 9th level), stench, and much more – these are very strong, but are balanced by a hollow flaw, which must be taken whenever a boon is gained: Sunlight powerlessness, fire vulnerability, recoiling from mirrors (particularly fitting when going for a vampiric mount…) – very flavorful and damn cool. Starting at 5th level, nearby living foes are penalized for the mere presence of the undead mount and 14th level upgrades that to potentially causing the shaken condition – which may then be exploited by a display of standard rearing, potentially causing worse conditions. This re-design represents an upgrade from lame and useless to evocative and pure amazing. Two big thumbs up!

The final archetype would be the void singer bards, who replace inspire courage with a demoralizing dirge and they may instill a pale reflection of the urge, replacing suggestion. Instead of versatile performance, they gain the dirge bard’s secrets of the grave. Solid engine-tweak.

The True Wight racial paragon class gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Will-saves, d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons and light armor. At 1st level, they gain the ability to create spawn and add +1/2 class level to Stealth checks – at 10th level, spawn within 30 ft. also use their master’s result. The racial paragon class nets the Slam feat at 1st level (the feat nets you the slam attack, even when not under the effects of the urge) and it is treated as both manufactured weapon and natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance it. The slam attack of the racial paragon scales over the levels, with the table noting Small, Medium and Large damage progressions. Why Large? Well, there is a chance that your Gm lets your Large PC race turn wight one day – while RAW not supported by the race, I really appreciate this inclusiveness.

2nd level yields a +1 bonus to Will-saves to resist the urge that increases by a further +1 every 4 levels thereafter.5th level yields telepathic communication with nearby spawns and 7th level yields DR 1/- that improves at 10th level and every 3 levels thereafter. This level also yields Multiattack when using weapons and slam attacks in conjunction. 11th level allows the true wight to enslave mindless undead within 30 ft. (with concisely defined limits). 17th level lets the true wight always add his full Strength modifier to slam attacks, double Strength modifier when just using the slam. The capstone lets the true wight potentially enslave intelligent undead. 2nd level provides a death mastery, the talents of the class: More than 2 full pages of talents are provided and an additional talent is gained every 2 levels thereafter. These include a variety of demoralization effects that enhance these with a variety of tougher negative conditions. Better controlled surrendering to the urge, at-will detect undead, worsening fear-conditions via subsequent demoralize effects, quicker movement or even swim speed, granting nearby spawns draining, energy drain slams (as a full-round action) while not under the urge…pretty cool. Supplying temporary hit points a limited number of times per day, fast healing with a daily cap and the option to grant it to other undead, free-willed spawn, Leadership-style, talking to the dead, possessing spawn (AMAZING), a rage-based ability tree…all in all a cool, visceral array of talents.

The pdf also sports 12 feats: Beyond the aforementioned Slam, we have Undying, which lets you remain active when not reduced below 0 hp. Strong Spirit nets you +2 to saves versus death effects and versus abilities and effects that cause mental ability score damage/drain – also, while under the urge, you gain immunity to these! Ritual Spawn lets you create spawn sans succumbing to the urge via ritual murder (not useful in combat, but amazing storytelling tool). Recovery nets you a sort of natural healing and lets you and your spawn benefit from long-term care. Pass for Living helps you, bingo, pass for living. Consume Life provides temporary hit points when causing negative levels. Control lets you roll twice to avoid succumbing to the urge or when trying to recover from it. Dead Mind (minor typo: Prerequisite: hollowed) should capitalize the “´H”) nets you +2 to saves versus mind-affecting effects, upgrading to immunity while under the urge. Extra Mastery nets you a death mastery. Greater Spawn improves the spawn (surprise!) and Pack Hunter nets you lifesense 30 ft. while within 30 ft. of a spawn or hollowed with this feat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting of the revised version are very good, I noticed no serious issues in either formal or rules-language levels. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with excellent, new pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Phelps’ original version of this file took a severe beating from me. Deservedly so.

Instead of shrugging and moving on, Rite Publishing’s Miranda Russell did the rite thing: She hired none other than Stephen Rowe of the four horsemen to fix the file.

If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll note that Stephen’s name on ANYTHING is pretty much as close to a guarantee that it’ll be amazing as you get. Well, he did not simply fix the copious errors in the file. He basically rewrote the whole damn file from the ground up: Previously lame or broken options suddenly not only cover MUCH more ground, they have been turned into versatile, amazing options. A race that struggled with horrid mechanics, balance-issues and a lack of a unique identity was transformed in a zero-to-hero success-story of design into one of the best takes on undead PC-races I have ever seen.

Let that sink in. The hollowed,a s depicted herein, are decidedly undead – they feel and play like undead. But at the same time, you retain control at all costs: Want to play the reviled outcast? Possible. Want a lower impact of your undead nature? Possible. Want an undead sans the fragility? Possible. Positive energy? Possible. Do you want a stint of undead existence for your PC, perhaps spanning a few levels, with the goal of returning to life? Possible. Want to become the dread leader of an undead pack? The pdf obliges. More than all of that, I adore how the undead traits have been balanced here – as written, the wights herein provide meaningful benefits and immunities that set them apart, but not to the extent of flat-out immunities left and right -and the engine Stephen created allows you to customize precisely how your wight behaves. Are you playing in a pandemic campaign, where immunity to disease would trivialize the threat posed, making your GM concerned? You can get rid of that immunity if you want – or you could embrace it, but all decisions have consequences, all options are carefully structured to emphasize player agenda sans tipping the scales of balance.

In short, Stephen Rowe has rumpelstilskin’d this pdf thoroughly – he has spun gold not from wheat, but from chaff. His improvements not only pertain to mechanics, but also flavor, conjuring ex nihilo a compelling and amazing take on the undead rider trope that ranks as one of my favorites in this category. The expanded page-count is amazing. Heck, if you ever wanted a perfect example of what difference a great developer can make in a pdf, look at this and the horrible original back to back.

If you’ve been on the fence for this file, rest assured that this now represents a reference work par excellence regarding undead PCs – this is inspired in all the rite (haha!) ways. It also shows that Rite Publishing really cares about feedback and seeks to provide not something that’s just good or okay- the goal is excellence. A lofty level that this pdf undoubtedly has reached. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Wights (PFRPG)
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Book of Magic: Dragon Spells and Archetypes (PFRPG)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2017 04:25:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Book of Magic-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

All right, after a neat introduction, we move straight on to the new spells contained herein – and before you ask: They take the ACG-classes into account regarding their spell-levels, but alas, not the occult classes – particularly weird since we get new class options there later…but anyway, let#s take a look at the spells, shall we?

Death incarnate requires that you’re a dragon and is level 8 and makes you undead for the duration – sans HP recalculation, but with a DR, immunity to cold and electricity, doubled frightful presence range and extra negative energy damage with claws. ODD: “which can used to heal yourself in your undead state as a full-round action” – so, does only the bonus damage heal the dragon? One total or that of two claws? That whole construct is wobbly. Deflect breath weapon is an interesting spell: It sports evocative visuals for both cones and lines and nets massive bonuses to Reflex saves as an immediate action spell – I am a bit torn here: While I like the visuals, the spell does take away from the deserved paranoia and fear that breathing dragons should cause. Cool: Elemental fear causes energy damage to those struck by your frightful presence, slashing if you have no breath weapon. I am pretty sure this spell was intended to be a dragons-only-option, which it RAW is not. Fear focus makes this problem more apparent: It focuses frightful presence into a cone and forces the targets to save – on a success, they become frightened, on a failure panicked. At 3rd level, that is highly exploitable for characters that managed to get their hands on some sort of frightful presence – at this level, there usually is a negate option for successful saves. Also weird: The spell notes as level only sorcerer 3 – does that mean that wizards can’t cast it? Or is that just a glitch?

Heartseeker is a level 1 spell (level 2 for cleric/oracle/shaman) that adds 5 + CL, maximum 15 negative energy damage to a weapon’s next attack. Lure of greed enchants a coin. All dragons within long range, sans requiring line of sight/effect, must attempt to get to the coin and once they reach it, the stand captivated in front of it. The spell contradicts itself: It notes that Will negates, but the text mentions that it requires saves on subsequent rounds. It also doesn’t cover what happens when multiple dragons seek to claim the same coin and at 3rd level, it is pretty low for the powerful compulsion it RAW presents.

Manifest greed manifests a targeted dragon’s greed as an ectoplasmic creature with DR 10/-, one size category larger than the dragon and it has all natural attacks and the target’s armor class and is one size category larger than the dragon targeted. Yeah, that’s not how that works in PFRPG. Okay, what type has the manifestation? If it has a larger size, what if the dragon’s Colossal? Size-increases change stats, AC and attacks. Beyond that, an allied dragon could potentially double its destructive effectiveness, provided the spell worked as it should. Scale lock targets dragons or reptiles: The target becomes automatically grappled and then, you use the target’s CMB to deal damage to it. The target creature can attempt to grapple versus its CMD to be able to move. Two successes are require to break free of the grappled condition. Oh boy. The math here is a mess. Can the scales pin the target? Do two successful checks end the spell?

Shredding scales is a 2nd-level burst that causes slashing damage via your scales. Spell envelope is a cool idea: You create a spell cocoon, into which you place another spell before the end of your next round: SR versus the spell placed is reduced by 5. This is a VERY cool option. However, nearby casters may also place spells in the cocoon, which makes it less clear when the spell in the cocoon is hurled towards the target. As soon as it’s placed inside? On your next turn? More importantly, the effects stack with feats etc. that reduce SR – but which character may use these? Is the caster of spell envelope the guy to check for these feats or the one that placed the spell in the cocoon? Or both? This is a really cool spell, but that aspect needs some explanation. Same goes, obvious, for the greater version.

We also get a total of 5 summon extraplanar dragon spells, which are thankfully relegated to the higher levels. Tainted treasure poisons a hoard and is ridiculous: It deals 1d4 Constitution damage (erroneously referred to as Con once in the text) for 7 rounds to a dragon that touches it. Fort save each round for half damage. Oh, and guess what? It’s not a poison, RAW – no immunity. This has an excellent chance of killing or severely crippling dragons. It’s also a level 4 spell and highly situational. Still, this needs a serious whack with the nerf-bat. Wheeze on the other hand is cool and interesting – it increases the breath weapon reset time by 1d6 rounds on a failed Fort-save. Big kudos! Wounding wheeze adds your choice of either fire or acid damage when the target uses its breath weapon - interesting. Wings of the wyrmling gets rid of age-related Dexterity penalties and improved maneuverability to average. Solid.

We also get some draconic class options herein, the first of which would be draconic implements for the occultist. As a resonant power, we have natural armor increases and the base focus power lets you, as a standard action, expend 1 point of mental focus, conjuring draconic shape that causes fear – the number of targets affected is limited by range, mental focus invested and by the HD of the targets – high HD-creatures in relation to your own HD suffer less. Impressive! The focus power include breath weapon, form of the dragon, better senses, temporary hit points or wings – all of which sport some sort of nice scaling. As a minor complaint, the ranged touch-based conjuring of a spectral dragon maw should probably at least cause force damage – RAW, it is untyped. The option does come with its own spell-list – and as a whole, I’m pretty surprised. I liked this! There is a variant of the enchantment school for the wizard, one that replaces enchanting smile, dazing touch and aura of despair. Sly master nets you a scaling bonus to the social skill checks and as a capstone, it lets you recast enchantment spells of an equal or lower spell-level after saving versus an enchantment spell. Interesting.

The option also nets an aura (that does not specify when it’s gained) that penalizes saves versus fear and mind-affecting effects, with higher levels increasing the range. Dragons targeted with fear or mind-influencing effects gain a bonus to bypass SR. At 8th level, enchantments cast versus dragons get a much higher save – interesting. There are also two arcane discoveries: Dragon wizard lets you target dragons with spells that target specific creature types – I think this should specify one type; RAW, it can yield some weird interactions. The second one nets you further bonuses for bypassing SR. We also gain the dragon spirit for the shaman: Increased movement rate and Nimble Moves, swift action-base sense enhancement, a fear-inducing gaze, a natural armor-bestowing ward and blur. The spirit animal gains natural armor bonus and a minor (or increased) fly speed – that does not specify maneuverability, alas. The spirit abilities net a limited use untyped damage causing melee touch attack (why not type it?) and at 11th level, the shaman treats all weapons as keen. The greater spirit ability yields fire resistance 5 and 3/day a 15-ft. fire breath (1d6 per class level!) with a 1d4 cooldown. In case you’re wondering: Yes, this is a linear improvement over fiery soul. 5 resistance less for an upgrade of 1d4 top 1d6 per level? Yeah, ouch. The true spirit ability yields form of the dragon II and the manifestation capstone nets fire resistance 20, immunity to paralysis and sleep and 60 ft. blindsense.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal, but leave something to be desired on a rules-language level. While there are plenty of examples where the pdf manages to get this right, there are quite a few inconsistencies in the finder details. Layout adheres to a solid 2-column full-color standard with a while background and interior artwork is solid, full-color stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Maurice de Mare’s dragon spells and archetypes are an odd bunch: On one hand, they attempt complex and interesting things, offering some evocative and really amazing tricks – on the other hand, they stumble, more than once, in the details…and weirdly, not always in the difficult aspects. Still, this almost feels like the work of two designers or at least, like content created at different stages of one designer’s development. There are some rather problematic aspects herein, but similarly, one can find some gems. Still, this is not enough for a unanimous recommendation. If you’re willing to work a bit with the material, you may find some gems, but this is a mixed bag. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: Dragon Spells and Archetypes (PFRPG)
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Smile with Us, Friend...
Publisher: Violent Media
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2017 04:22:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This weird module clocks in at 22 pages in the pdf version – 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content. The pages are laid out for a booklet/digest-sized A5-size (6’’ by 9’’), which means you can fit up to 4 on a sheet of paper when trying to conserve ink/toner. Enough delays, let’s take a look!

It should be noted that one of the pages herein is devoted to a mutation table that overlaps with Violent Media’s mutation supplement – it is decent, but if you have access to a more detailed one, I’d suggest going with that instead. The pdf does come with a high-res .png GM-map and a player map replicated as a nice .jpg…which ties in with one of the adventure hooks. This is remarkable and cool, as far as player maps go. Why?

Well, to quote the pdf: “Further ensuring no good will come of this, the Consumptive Prophet coughed up a blood-spatter blessing, “depicting” the inside of the complex. He will gladly share the knowledge from his sacred disease, for a nominal fee and small percentage of the loot. Fee up front. No Refunds.” Call me weirdo, but at “Consumptive Prophet, I was smiling. Seeing a blood-spatter map of the complex? Damn cool!

Anyways, it should be noted that I do own both the PWYW pdf-version and the saddle-stitched paperback version, which does come with a bonus chapter. But more on that in the SPOILER-section. It should be noted that, beyond the bonus content, the print version also has a kind of appendix that collates all stats and a page of quick room descriptions, with all relevant bits on one page. It also features a handy encounter-chart. The suggested OSR-rules for use in conjunction with this are LotFP-rules.

As a cool comfort-bonus, the pdf-version comes with a 2-page pdf of printables that collects the maps on one page and sports a handy tracker of the NPCs featured herein on the second page – big kudos!!

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

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! You know, sometimes you want a change of pace, something utterly different than anything you’ve read. This module is just that. Somewhere in the fields, there is a hole in the ground. In this hole, strange spider people exist, worshipping the seven-armed spinner in darkness. These spider-folks, all seven-armed/legged and based on a real-world spider…are actually happy. Kind. Caring even, for the most part. That makes them dangerous.

You see, this dungeon is inhabited by the friends of the 7; for the most part, these spider-people were once sad or even evil folks; now, they have found a place to belong, a family of sorts, all in order to get the blessing of their chthonic and potentially really nasty deity. Still, these beings aren’t out to slaughter innocents. Quite the contrary. They constantly invite everyone they can find to join them and become just as happy.

Here’s the problem: Whenever someone declines a direct invitation to the cult, they immediately exhibit a disgusting mutation. The spiderfolk don’t necessarily want this, but it happens. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Suffice to say, the nearby population has become extremely paranoid of the spiderfolk. Enter the PCs, who get to explore the complex and deal with the spiderfolk…but how?

Sure, the idol can be destroyed…but to get there, the PCs will have to brave the kind-hearted, giddy spiderfolk who want them to join…and finding creative ways in roleplaying to say no sans actually doing so represents a major part of this weird-sad locale. The well-meaning head-spider-thing-cultist in his earnest glee may actually be one of the saddest final bosses I have seen…but even if the PCs murderhobo through this (and probably feel bad about it), there are some honestly interesting places to find, like the blood sand bottoms, where viewing starfish constellations may bestow strange benefits…

Now, I mentioned the print version’s bonus content, right? It’s well worth getting the print version. Over 4 pages, we are introduced to the forest o’ the puppeteer. This landscape is inhabited by strange marionettes – cutting their strings sends then crashing to the floor. Tying a string on a person charms them and those slain here have wooden puppets burst forth from their corpse. There are the stage left and right mountains and the track canyons to limit the area – and at the furthest depths, where the sky no longer has any room to flee, an old man teeters behind the sky’s blue curtain – slaying him turns the victor into the new puppeteer. The second, strange place featured would be the Obedient Place,a park of roiling greens that can never change. There is always a vulpine queen, two ursine dukes. There are 4 cygnine countesses, 8 feline barons and 16 equine knights…and 32 coal-eyed slaves. Killing a slave or the queen turns you into them. Killing a knight transforms the closest slave into a knight. Killing a baron transforms the closest knight into a baron. You get the idea. It’s twisted and interesting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to a 1-column full-color standard and the art by Anxious P. is suitably weird. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment. However, the high-res maps and cool player-map make up for that. The softcover comes on high-quality, glossy paper and is worth getting, as far as I’m concerned.

Edward Lockhart’s pdfs had not really impressed me that much up to this point. It’s strange, but sometimes, I have a very strong impulse to get something I know nothing about; the cover looks strange, sure, but I am to this day not sure why I bought the print version of this supplement, apart from perhaps wanting to show a bit of support. As a result, the booklet did lie around for a while before falling back into my hands. I began reading it, downloaded the pdf for the maps and review-purposes as well, and frankly, I haven’t looked back.

“Smile with us, Friend…” is something you only very rarely get to see – a thoroughly unique module. The premise is interesting and not something I’ve seen before. Billed as “weird-sadness”, the tag-line does perfectly sum up the flavor of this module. This can be a somber experience or a hilarious mutation hackfest, depending on the inclinations of your PCs, though the detailed and intriguing NPCs imho deserve being interacted with...and it’s damn funny to watch how long PCs can try to ROLEplay themselves out of mutations…

In short, this is an amazing module. Even if you don’t play with an OSR-system, this is worth getting and converting. The bonus environments provided for the print version are amazing and creative as well. Better yet: You can get the electronic version for PWYW, check it out and then determine whether this is worth a tip and/or getting the print version. Personally, I absolutely ADORE this humble module. Strongly recommended! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Smile with Us, Friend...
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Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/22/2017 04:20:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second compilation of Wayward Rogues‘ hybrid classes clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Well, I have covered a lot of these before in their stand-alone releases, so let’s just revisit them briefly before checking out the Bullet Disciple, shall we?

The dimensionist has obviously gotten a bit of a facelift: While the rules-language for non-euclidean intrusion is a bit less refined regarding its wording, it now thankfully talks about its action economy…and its daily uses have been nerfed down to 1/day at first level, +1/day at 7th and 15th level. The ability also still lacks a range. Unfortunately, this results in quite a few dead levels characterized exclusively by a new spell slot, not necessarily even a new spell level reached. Spell distortions are not freely choosable and are presented in a painfully non-standard formatting. Speaking of formatting and confusion: Some abilities are after the capstone – some of which previously were distortions. And at 17th level, the class, weirdly, notes “Nimble +5” in the table. This is…worse than in the stand-alone version. The italicizations are still missing left and right and the archetypes are similarly nothing to write home about. Ouch.

Okay, so no improvement there, what about the incarnate? Well, we still have dead levels. We still have partial redundancies (the base class gains martial weapon proficiency) and a revelation of a mystery nets access to that and Exotic Weapon Proficiency for all such weapons. A lot of the revelations still lack their activation action. Abilities still have not been codified properly.

The librarian still fails to specify how many memory points he actually gets. Lightning instead of electricity…it’d have been a few minutes of work to make this class work properly. It’s so close. A single capable rules-dev could have done so in less than half an hour. Alas, it has been taken 1:1 from its pdf.

…well, on the plus-side, there are two new archetypes for the librarian: The Bibliophile, that replaces instant study and quick study with halving the required rest duration for his race and 14th level providing immunity to starvation, thirst and sleep for as long as the librarian has a new book to read. This is cool, but does it allow for the preparation of spells after the brief rest period? Instead of bestow knowledge with the “my favorite part” ability, usable 3 + Charisma (not properly capitalized) modifier times per day – these would btw. be full-round action buffs for nearby allies. The archetype’s relatively solid. The second librarian archetype would be the exotic ecologist, who can roll d20s when interacting with creatures analyzed twice, taking the better result 3/day, +1/day for every 3 levels after 3rd, replacing bestow knowledge. Yeah, that translates to the equivalent of advantage. And I do not really get what “re-learn” means. Ability-gains are btw. not in sequence and at 2nd level, you can treat non-humanoids of several creature types, even mindless ones, as humanoids, which can be OP. The other two abilities, providing eidetic memory interaction (doesn’t work in the base class) as well as tongues – which is obviously not italicized, and a surge-like bonus on Charisma skill checks…which is not adhering to PFRPG-rules-language. There are several feats for the librarian, which include using books as weapons. And guess what? The feats even manage to screw up properly noting the damage type of these books. They also impose save penalties and another feat nets +1 use of eidetic memory or +2 bestow knowledge uses. Erasing a spell with a descriptor allows you to temporarily erase a creature’s resistance to the energy for 1 round…which is interesting, though wonky in wording.

The revanchist’s sense murder still doesn’t work properly. The class still makes no real sense to me and still has some serious balance-and versatility-issues. The class now gets an archetype, the territory shepherd can form a bond with a limited number of allies, helping their overland movement and healing while resting. Instead of oath of vengeance, judgments apply to all allies in the aforementioned bond instead and the broken sense murderer is replaced with teamwork sharing The higher level abilities further enhance this tactician-y style. The big plus here: The archetype is MUCH better than the base class. The downside: Dreamscarred Press’ tactician and several other classes like the Battle Lord do everything this one does…better. As in more diverse, more interesting, more options. And no, formatting’s not perfect here either. Next.

Vivisectionist…oh dear, please let them have fixed this guy, he’s so cool! (And he’s not among the bookmarks. Odd. *brief read-through. Nope. Swift alchemy still contradicts the table. Rules-nomenclature’s still non-standard in cases. Ach, come on! The spells from the original pdf have been included. The vivisectionist also gets an archetype here – the chirurgeon, who gets a healing touch instead of channel negative energy as well as Turn Undead and a quasi-channel that only works in conjunction with the feat. The fear aura is replaced with a buff, life bond replaces vivisection and we get better healing, life sight and later, anti-death effect-boosts and a save, even when usually none would be allowed. Okay, what type of save? I like the idea of a non-evil vivisectionist, but this does have a few hiccups as well.

…okay, so, up next would be the new hybrid class herein, which is yet another combo of monk and gunslinger. If I had a dime for each take on that combo I have analyzed…Anyways, these guys need to be lawful, get d10 HD, 4 + Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, firearms and light armor as well as full BAB-progression (because firearm-using classes totally need full BAB…) and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class gets an ancestral arm (pistol, blunderbuss or musket) “that is hard to wield without the years of doctrine and training” – okay, cool. Effects? RAW: None. There is a bullet flurry ability at first level, somewhat balanced by not being able to target the same creature (I think…) and imposing penalties on subsequent attacks, with 11th level providing a second, optional attack. The ability stacks with haste (non-italicized) and its wording is a bit wonky. Wanna hear something funny? The class gets a scaling precision-damage-based bonus damage at first level, +1d4, scaling up to +2d8. In second range increment or further, the bullet disciple is treated as -4 levels for the purpose of this damage. Because we all know that the issue with firearms was that they don’t do enough damage.

1st level yields Rapid Reload, 5th level nimble +2 (which upgrades every 4 levels thereafter by +1). 3rd level provides the option to ignore one cover between the bullet disciple and the target (not total cover) and 7th level provides Shot on the Run and starting at 11th level, the character no longer provokes AoOs with the gun and may not be disarmed of firearms and attempts to steal ammo may be countered with an unarmed pistol whip. 15th level yields 1/day a shot that ignores DR, hardness, cover and concealment. Nova, much? This is enhanced to 10 bullets at 19th level, which does nothing to make the ability more palpable. The capstone is a full-attack kill shot that manages to get the rules-language non-standard in spite of literally dozens of precedence cases.

On the plus-side, the class gets a so-called doctrine at 2nd level, +1 every even level thereafter – these are talents that partially mimic deeds, partially allow for firearm modifications – only one modification may be applied to a given firearm, but the pdf fails to specify how long removing such a modification in favor of a new one takes. The formatting, obviously, is inconsistent here, but the abilities sport some gems – like keeping powder dry, or providing cover fire (which doesn’t specify if it takes up AoOs or not – assume no, but yeah…). Non-typed damage, failure to specify if unarmed penalties to kicks apply…The basics look well enough at first glance, but once you start dissecting the section, it starts showing strains.

The class does come with a cool Dark tower-Gunslinger-esque code that made me wish the class had been polished a bit more. It also sports no less than 3 archetypes. The brimstone initiate displays ignorance of how unarmed combat works in the proficiency line: “Only proficient with her fists and a single firearm” – so the kick doctrine is non-proficient? WTF? Instead of gun damage boosts, the character gains monk unarmed attack damage progression and (non-capitalized) Improved Unarmed Strike. Starting at 2nd level, iterative attacks with unarmed strikes grant stacking attack bonuses with the firearm, discharging on a successful hit. If the bonus doesn’t increase or isn’t discharged, it returns to 0 after 1 round. So, beat up kitten until you have infinite god-precision (something like +100), have ally open door, fire imba auto-hit inside. Yeah, this bonus should cap. Even more lulzy: At 4th level, firearm attacks increase unarmed threat ranges. Yeah, there’s a reason why threat range increases only stack in very rare exceptions. Oh and 8th level provides auto-load with “spiritual energy bullets". Okay, do they disperse? Can they be sold? It notes, like many abilities, ki, sans the class actually having ki – is that supposed to be flavor? If so: Very poor word-choice. There’s a reason for rules-terminology…

Ballistic Engineers gain a custom firearm that inflicts damage as though he was an unarmed monk of equal level, with Intelligence being added to damage rolls and replacing the default doctrine-list with only modifications and a couple of exclusive tweaks, including stacking threat modifiers (WTF) and adamantine bullets (or elemental ones) at 2nd level – the archetype shows a blatant disregard for how damage types, DR, etc. work – not starting with balance. The walking hurricane gets two pistols with an advanced capacity (1/4 character level), losing the flurry, and TWF (not capitalized) as well as better sundering abilities with the pistols…yay?

None of the classes presented in this book get favored class options, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are…okay, so, if you value, in any way, shape or form adherence to things like spells being italicized properly, like feats being in capital letters…you know, the very basics of formatting for PFRPG, then this’ll hurt you. Rules-language oscillates from still okay to “core ability RAW doesn’t work.” Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard with mostly solid stock art and the original pieces presented for the stand-alone classes. The pdf does have bookmarks, but not for all classes – and if you expected nested bookmarks for archetypes etc., I’ll have to disappoint you. At this length, not cool. As always with Wayward Rogues, highlighting and copying text from the pdf is impossible, which means you’ll have to copy the text BY HAND. Supremely annoying, to say the least.

Robert Gresham, Aaron Hollingsworth, Rodney Sloan and Jarret Sigler had a chance to do it right. (I assume some of the authors of one of the classes wanted to be left out – otherwise, this does not credit the authors of the vivisectionist, easily the best part of the book.) When one of my patreons tasked me to review all the Wayward Rogues material, I didn’t think I’d have to bash quite as much as I had to so far. I frankly feel like a bully and I don’t like that, but there’s no sugarcoating it. While thankfully better than the first compilation, this leaves a lot to be desired.

Problem one is the obvious lack of an editor. I have never, in all of my PFRPG-days, seen a compilation that so consistently ignores basic formatting principles. While a rules-editor would have most definitely helped, this isn’t necessarily what galls me most about this pdf. It is evident that the classes were copy-pasted from their initial releases. No additional development or editing pass was provided; all typos are still there; all ambiguities. And then there would be the dimensionist: Either the stand-alone file has been seriously revised (and lost some crucial information), or this book has the revised version – which plays less interesting and has its own share of issues. Neither version is up to the standards of the 3pp-industry.

This all is particularly galling, when a single afternoon could have fixed pretty much EVERYTHING in this book. Well, a lot of it, anyways. Even if the more broken classes had been left untouched, at least fixing those that almost get something amazing done right would have elevated this pdf. But no. The bullet disciple, just fyi, while not the worst iteration of the by now very old trope, is also not the best one and sports the same categories of glitches and hiccups as the other classes. Not one of the options herein can be run RAW, without requiring some GM-intervention in the rules-department. Ultimately, I cannot recommend this pdf – from the accumulated issues to the disabled text-parsing and associated comfort detriments, this compilation falls flat of what it could and should have been. And don’t get me started on diversity, choice, and the finer details of class design – aesthetics don’t even feature in this rating. Ultimately, I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
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Assassin Techniques - The Integration Cold Tech Tree
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2017 04:14:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The expansion for the glorious Assassin-class clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This pdf features a new cold technique category for the momentum-based assassin, namely the integration category, which can be summed up as deep cover, social engineering, etc. The techniques within this category include having civilian contacts: Basically, you have friends that can provide a variety of benefits and for every four integration techniques you know, you’ll get an additional contact. The contacts themselves, beyond offering obvious roleplaying potential, are codified in 11 basic roles: Alchemist nets you a discount with less expensive alchemical items and firearms and allows for low-cost renting of the lab; aristocrats net you access to proper social events, beggars can discreetly keep tabs on your targets, fences can get rid of problematic items, guards keep you in touch with the watch’s notes…you get the idea. The technique is certainly fun and makes for great RPing – and if you’re inclined to run solo-campaigns/adventures, it helps there as well. One further technique allows you to relocate contacts once every 3 months, which is pretty cool as well!

Having a good cover story is represented by skill bonuses and limited SPs to cast (scaling at 9th level included). Swift action -1 presence change intimidation is nice. 8th level assassins may become immune to fear. Investigate mark deserves mention: Upon researching a target, you gain temporary techniques, but only versus the target. You may only have one target at any given time and the effects last 1 week or until the target’s vanquished. At 5th level, you get to choose an additional target, against whom you gain 1 technique. As a -2 presence change technique, killer’s ritual lets you choose an alignment and nets you protection against the chosen alignment for a pretty long time. Memento lets you take a memento of the target slain, hampering magics that seek to return the target to life, with 12th and 18th level yielding further mementos. Paladin proofing rocks – it permanently conceals you with undetectable alignment and 6th level lets you simulate a selected alignment and at 12th level, you may even be treated as the alignment you mimic for spell and ability interaction purposes.

Silver-tongued rogue nets you a scaling social skill bonus when not in combat and Sweep the Room, at -1 presence change, lets you, as a full-round action, be treated as though you had taken 20 on a Perception check – amazing when hunting trap-master style characters that can litter traps behind themselves. Unfazed by Death mitigates being nauseated by gore etc. to being sickened instead and unfazed by foulness provides immunity to inhaled poisons and SR 10 + class level versus spells with the death descriptor. Finally, there would be the 10th level technique The Watson, which nets you an assassin contact, whose technique loadout is exactly opposite to yours. The Wtason has 2 character levels less than you do and is treated as a kind of cool complementary cohort. Watson may be a cross-specialization technique and is not replaced upon dying – the guy must be resurrected. And no, does not stack with pre-existing cohorts. Minor complaint: “Special:” is not bolded.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Interjection games’ two-column b/w-standard and is as elegant and nice as we’ve come to expect. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Bradley Crouch’s assassin expansion is pretty damn cool – it provides some of the social components that we really wanted to see for the class. The base class was phenomenal, but more than that, this very much made me want to play a solo-campaign with an assassin-PC…though I should mention that the contacts work just as well with a group, mind you, particularly in an intrigue-heavy game. And we get all of that for a single buck. This is a great expansion, very well worth the fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Assassin Techniques - The Integration Cold Tech Tree
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5E Mini-Dungeon #059: With a Candlestick
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2017 04:11:03

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 and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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!

And now for something completely different! Lord and Lady Scarlet are wealthy, well-connected and even pretty popular - the nobles have established a national embassy. When the PCs arrive, however, they come at a rather bad time. Mere minutes before, lord Scarlet was found murdered. There are a couple of guests here...and we have a powerful mastermind, doppelgangers and intrigue...as well as a gorgeously mapped massive mansion. Any GM halfway worth his/her salt can further complicate the scenario with a variety of NPCs, making this an amazing set-up...but if the PCs don't take care, that'll end up bad for them...very bad. Speaking of NPCs – we get full stats for the Verdant knight, who happens to be a guest here, as well – and clashing blades with him is a distinct possibility!

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 really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael McCarthy delivers a nice mini-murder-mystery; the map if great, the details surprisingly pronounced for the length, the whole set-up surprisingly well done, considering the limitations of the wordcount. This deserves respect and is really neat. If you're willing to add a bit of detail, consider this 5 stars; if you want go-play, 4 instead. My official verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the nice bonus stats of the knight – kudos to whoever did the conversion: Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #059: With a Candlestick
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5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/21/2017 04:09:36

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 and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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!

Ahmad Sahir was once a great wizard, devotee of the three goddesses of divination and oases, goddesses whom he rescued from a scrupulous sultan - and as such, the fantastic map depicts the palace of this man at the palm-covered shore of such an oasis. Cursed by the sultan, madness has consumed poor Sahir and now, he has himself enslaved the minor deities, using the blood of his servants as a means to bind them to his bidding.

Ultimately, the PCs will have to explore his exotic compound and deal with the maddened mage, braving guards mundane and magical, ranging from elementals to infernal threats. Amazing: We get full boss stats for Ahmad, who comes with unique tricks – kudos!

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 absolutely glorious, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael Holland provides a story from 1001 nights; a high-concept fantasy, a unique environment - in short, a great little mini-dungeon. The map is amazing and evocative and the bonus boss stats (whoever did the conversion: Good job!) elevate this mini-dungeon to the level I love to see from the series, namely the one where I don’t have to complain. 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking IV
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/20/2017 03:52:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth of Daniel J. Bishop‘s Dispatches on the nature of gaming, structures etc. clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content. These pages are laid out for digest-size (A5 or 6’’ by 9’’) and thus, you can fit up to 4 of them on a given sheet of paper if your eye-sight’s good enough and you need to conserve ink/toner.

We begin this installment with a historic recap of the concept of a mega-dungeon – in both the context of Appendix N, literature and, well, gaming – similarly, we take a look at the development of so-called balance of encounters and it is here that the growth of the series is readily apparent. Instead of antagonistic opinions, we receive a well-reasoned recap of the development of monster/encounter-balance over the course of various editions – and the sentiment expressed, namely that encounters do not need to be level-appropriate, is one that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. While I am an enemy of set-ups that just screw players over, I similarly am a big enemy of designing worlds all around the PCs and ensuring that they will always have an “appropriate” challenge. As the pdf aptly surmises, this takes away from the organic nature of the world and also eliminates player agenda – when all challenges are strictly level-appropriate, player decisions to play risky or more cautious matter less.

Now, beyond this base-line, we take a look at the core subject-matter of the mega-dungeon – the pdf does provide several intriguing pieces of advice for the discerning judge/Gm/writer – whether it’s how to e.g. draw from mythology/myth-based settings or by looking at descriptive elements from the 1st edition DM Guide, we are shown on how to use a couple of words to inspire: We go one by one through the list, brainstorming ideas based on it. This is simple, yes, but it is an exercise well worth engaging in. From here on out, we take a look at some neat tricks to make monsters unique: We categorize them by type of beast and then look at e.g. what happens when you anagram-scramble the names, potentially drawing inspiration right then and there…and you make the monster feel unique! (Hint for those of you who read my own writing: I use that technique as well. One of my published characters is e.g. an anagram for Isaac Asimov…)

Similarly, treasure should be worthwhile – not just a +5 sword of killing stuff – the treasure to be found in a massive dungeon should engender greed, paranoia…you get the idea. Treasures are categorized similarly to monsters. The pdf then proceeds to guide you through brainstorming: From the power of names to sketches of critters and how they potentially interact/make sense, the brainstorming general section is fun and directly leads into pattern mapping, which is VERY important. We have an intrinsic idea of what looks “right” and many “makes no sense”-moments in published modules could have been avoided by properly structured planning. Furthermore, the book teaches to envision first how areas interact, rather than their direct proximity – since ultimately, the dungeon’s structure is beholden to the needs of storytelling, this makes sense and yet again makes for an excellent piece of advice.

Having done the basic sketches, we use the previously generated list and then note, by respective region, where they’ll fit in: This generates the details and, wholly organically, can generate the whole dynamics of a given dungeon. The shrine the goblins worship is in the vampire lord’s territory? Okay, are they allied? In a master/slave relationship? Is coercion involved? This establishes the general structure of the dungeon, and from here on out, once we have established a general vision, we move to the specific and can marvel at Daniel J. Bishop’s seasoned pen elaborating on the themes and topics previously established, adding the evocative flourishes to the great base-lines – suddenly, Esbastus becomes a gynosphinx; there is a vampire survivor of an age long past. A woman of Jade. Monster hunter Owlgrin. This dressing-series alone may be worth getting this, even if you’re not per se interesting in the design/writing-advice provided.

In case you’re interested: Both otyughs and their evolved brethren receive full and proper DCC-stats herein…and yes, the final chapter is where the book transitions from excellent advice for any game to the material directly applying to the DCC-rules: The considerations, colored by the aesthetics, do mention some excellent resources beyond the confines of the rules-set, both regarding literature and gaming material. In short – this section ends the dispatches on the same high note it began.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ nice 1-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports quite a few nice full-color pieces. While fans of PDG may be familiar with some, I don’t have reasons to complain here. The pdf does provide a nice map and sketch to illustrate the process. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Daniel J. Bishop’s Dispatches series has been excellent from the get-go: The advice provided goes into more detail and depth than that provided by many comparable supplements. While the author and I sometimes deviate greatly regarding our opinions, I have yet to encounter one of these books that hasn’t provided some sort of trick, idea or knowledge – these are great advice-books, even for veterans. Much to my pleasant surprise, this installment provides a well-balanced look at the subject matters sans needing to rely on the subjectivity clause, which is still here, though – just in case. This supplement provides some very smart pieces of advice regarding the daunting task of structuring big pieces of in-game landscape – whether mega-dungeons, wildernesses or settlements. It is my contention that the advice herein can help you design all of them and more. This is, in short, an inspired little advice booklet, well worth the extremely fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. If you struggle with “big design” in games or think you’d like to learn some tricks of the trade – this delivers.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking IV
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Everyman Minis: Spells of Comedy
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/20/2017 03:51:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, we begin with a bit of supplemental material after the introduction, which, this time around, would be the Tricky Spell metamagic feat, which increases the spell level in question by two: In short, the feat lets you make a dirty trick attempt against ALL targets of the spell in question, substituting caster level for BAB and governing spellcasting attribute for Strength. Feats that enhance dirty tricks apply here as well, but only creatures you either hit or that have failed their saving throw are affected. All creatures targeted by one spell share the same dirty trick effect. I like this feat, though personally, I’d value the flexibility Dirty trick offers higher, at +3 spell levels, considering the less flexible metamagic feats that occupy a precious feat slot and add similar debuffs.

All righty, so what do the spells do? At 1st level, banana slippers enchants fruit peels to wrap around the target’s feet, making the area more slippery. Movement may render the target prone, though slowed movement and Acrobatics d help a bit. There is a 2nd/3rd-level mass-version included. The second level spell (3rd for the psychic/witch) gibber imposes a penalty to Charisma-based skill checks and Charisma checks as well as a 20% spellcasting failure chance for spells or abilities with verbal components. This “wastes the target’s action and any uses of the ability” – I assume this means that the action used for the ability/spell and that the spell in question is expended when failing thus. The wording here, while solid, made me twitch a bit. There is a mass-version at one spell-level higher. Dutiful doorkeeper is a level 1 spell that enchants a door, box, etc. – any attempt t open it is thwarted, with the hand attacking (using CL + governing spellcasting attribute) and inflicting CL times 1d6 force damage (max 5d6). Weird: The hand can attack at range, but has no maximum range. At 1 hour per level, it is a VERY potent option for low level casters: Enchant a box/door and wait – lots of force damage there. While the spell has a passphrase, I think it should have a range for its attacks and since its strikes creatures adjacent to the opener, it can be weaponized weirdly and also imho should have a means to Disable Device it. Not the biggest fan here.

Illusory trio generates basically a figment of three stooges-like comedians that hamper Perception of those nearby and opposed skill checks as well as concentration of nearby casters. Pie projectile is a level 1 ranged dirty trick, again, using the CL and governing spellcasting attribute substitution, but may only generate the blinded condition. Odd: The rules-language, while not that different from other dirty trick-based options, reads a bit wonky in one sentence: “Attempt a combat maneuver check to make a dirty trick attempt against the target…” – cosmetic, sure, but it sticks out when compared to the other spells. Finally, the third level spell (4th for sorc/wiz) production of endless pies generates up to CL pies, which are held as a charge and may be thrown as an attack or full-attack action, with new pie-creation being a free action. The reference to the previous spell is not italicized properly, but the interaction with haste works. Fyi: No flurrying etc. with the spell.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed nothing too jarring. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s nice two-column standard with a white background. The full-color artwork included is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Luis Loza’s spells of comedy are pretty complex for the concepts they attempt and manage to get the required rules-language mostly right. That being said, the focus lies clearly on dirty trick-spells – the pdf focuses pretty strongly on this one rules-concept and does so pretty well, but this also makes the pdf a bit more limited than I’d have liked it to be. The production of endless pies engine of rules-language is pretty impressive, though, and can easily be scavenged and adapted, making that one of my favorites herein. This pdf is not necessarily a must-have, but it is a fun, humble and nice little offering – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Spells of Comedy
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The Genius Guide to Homophone Spells
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/20/2017 03:49:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Genius Guide clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, after a brief and humorous introduction, we move right on to the spells in question – which btw. do take the occult classes, ACG classes etc. into account regarding their availability. The first of these would be Ade, which generates a refreshing beverage that quenches thirst for a day and prevents needing to succeed Constitution checks to avoid nonlethal damage from thirst. At 1st level, that trivializes travel hazards a bit early…and as an aside, personally, I become more thirsty when drinking ade – whether it’s Power- or Gator-ade…perhaps I’m just not used to the chemicals and the sugar/sugar-substitutes… Brake enchantment refers to itself, erroneously, as “break enchantment” in its text and makes stopping vehicles easier. Fey’s door opens a gateway to the First World. Flair makes the clothes of the target look more fancy, potentially allowing a Charisma-based ability- or skill-reroll. Gait is pretty potent for 3rd level, allowing each affected target to either increase its speed (I assume just one…or all?), ignore all types of difficult terrain (OUCH), +4 untyped bonus to Acrobatics or standing up from prone sans AoO. Not a fan.

Heel forces an affected animal to follow you and comes with a mass version. Make hole generates a hole under the target’s feet and allows you to make a dirty trick with CL and spellcasting attribute. Meatier swarm is a slightly improved summon swarm. Miner creation creates a digging automaton – oddly, the automaton has no stats, can’t be destroyed and can’t affect structures. No direction scrambles the sense of direction of the target. Plain shift is a cantrip that nets +1 untyped bonus on Fortitude saves versus cold or warm weather. Reed magic is cool: Quickly and magically woven, it makes the terrain over which the reed mat is put less slippery and also use it to trip targets. Sole bind renders immune to caltrops for its duration. Thyme stop eliminates all taste and seasoning from nearby food, making those that eat the fare more prone to being affected by some negative effects.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good. I noticed no undue accumulation of bad glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ two-column full-color standard. The sketches by industry-legend Stan! Are neat and actually my favorite part of the supplement. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Keeley’s homophone spells are pretty funny, or at least quite a few are. While I’m not a big fan of all the untyped bonuses and while I don’t consider all balancing decisions to be that great, this does represent a nice little supplement. System-immanently, the pdf has less use for you if you don’t play the game in English – homophone jokes usually don’t translate that well (see, most famously, Rammstein’s “Du hast”). When you take the joke component away, you’re left with a decent, if not mind-boggling collection of spells that sports some neat ideas. As a whole, this struck me as a solid, if somewhat unremarkable offering, mainly interesting if you enjoy the novelty-aspect of this supplement. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars – and honestly, to me, they’re closer to 3, which is why I’ll round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Homophone Spells
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