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Deadly Delves: The Dragon's Dream (PFRPG)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2020 23:54:10

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy for review.

As a GM, I’m always poking around the vendor sites for something new. It’s partly vicarious gaming and partly looking for ideas. It seems a lot of material is for lower level encounters. There are full campaigns, but you have to start from scratch. So for an existing group, there’s not much.

Scaling up an encounter isn’t hard, use bigger monsters. But you don’t want all hack & slash. You can spend the time designing clever traps, odd terrain, and sticky situations but have to contend with better magic, and you don’t want a lot of oops-you’re-dead stuff. It’s a hard line to tread. Here we have some original ideas.

Dragon’s Dream is for 16th level characters with some interesting puzzles & high level opponents, some of the usual suspects and some new oddities not in the regular bag of tricks, with some off-beat touches. So there’s enough of a good brouhaha for that crowd. But this is also a thinking man’s dungeon. How do you deal with a dream? Not a spoiler, it’s there in the name. This part is a challenge for both the GM to run and the players to distress over. Good opportunities for the narrator to weave an entertaining yarn and the PCs to role-play their way around.

The author has given you a complex tale with subplots that will bring satisfaction to both sides of the table. And the publisher, JBE has done a fine job of producing a readable product with great illustrations, but the maps are really gorgeous full color in both player and GM versions. As I have found out in our current enforced solitude, these maps can be easily converted for your favorite online gaming table and you can dazzle your friends. Take it for a spin and leave your players reeling. RICHIE



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: The Dragon's Dream (PFRPG)
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Book of Heroes: Fearless Barbarian Paths (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/30/2020 07:16:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 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 patreon supporters.

All right, so the second Book of Heroes-installment provides 8 new barbarian primal paths, with the Path of the Frozen Fury being the first….and it’s a rather interesting one: When you’re raging, you emit cold, and creatures that are within 5 feet of you at the end of your turn take 1d6 cold damage, which improves to 1d10, 2d6 and 2d10 at 6th, 10th and 14th level. This damage has no save, but is dealt automatically and rewards a harrier style gameplay, which is interesting and changes the roles of the character. It also means that allies must take care when nearby, adding a tactical angle. Like it! And yes, the barbarian is obviously immune to this damage. 6th level increases your AC by 2 versus ranged weapon attacks, and 10th level makes you immune to being frightened or poisoned while raging, and if already under such an effect, they are suspended for the rage’s duration. 14th level lets you score a critical hit with your weapons on a 19-20.

The Path of the Conqueror lets you use a bonus action when you hit in melee– the target must make a save (based on your Strength as key ability), becoming incapacitated until the start of your next turn on a failed Constitution save; one use per short rest interval, +1 use at 6th and 10th level. 6th level provides proficiency with Charisma (Intimidation), doubling the proficiency bonus if you already were proficient. 10th level provides immunity to being frightened, and 14th level extends this to being charmed. Also at 14th level, there is a mighty ability that lets you add +10d6 damage (Akin to Sneak Attack, this damage type is not codified) to a melee weapon attack – a successful Constitution save of the target halves this damage. You can’t make additional attacks the round you use it. This damage cannot reduce a target below 1 hit point, and may only be used once per long rest interval.

The Path of the Demon makes you grow horns (1d6 piercing) that you can use for an additional attack executed as a bonus action after using the Attack action with a weapon. This horn attack does not gain your ability score modifier to damage. At 10th level, the horns are treated as magical. Weird: The barbarian is RAW not proficient with horns. 6th level nets the ability to read, write and speak Abyssal and advantage on Charisma checks dealing with fiends and those with fiendish patrons/connection. 10th level nets you resistance to fire and poison while raging, and at 14th level, you grow demonic wings while raging, with a flying speed (incorrectly called Fly speed, but that’s a nitpick) equal to your speed. Wings can’t be manifested while wearing armor, unless the armor can accommodate them. Also at 14th level, when you enter rage, you deal 3d6 fire damage to all within 10 feet, with a Dexterity saving throw for half damage. The governing ability score for the DC here is btw. Charisma, in line with the 6th-level feature.

The Path of the Giant nets you +5 feet reach with melee weapons while raging and proficiency with Strength (Athletics), double proficiency if you already were proficient in it. 6th level makes you choose one heritage corresponding to one of the giant types: Choosing Fire and frost giant nets you resistance to their corresponding energy types, Hill giant to poison damage, and storm giant to lightning damage. Stone giant get rock catching, and cloud giant lets you cast fog cloud and misty step once per day. The latter should specify spellcasting ability and probably be based on rest interval instead of per day, but those are cosmetic complaints. At 10th level, we get rock throwing (30/120), 2d10 bludgeoning, using Strength; 14th level doubles ranges and increases the damage output by +1d10. Also at 14th level, you can expend a bonus action after making an Attack to force a creature you attacked (regardless of whether you hit) to make a Constitution saving throw or be pushed 5 feet away, more if it fails the save by 5 or more. Your save DC is governed, as suitable, by Strength.

The Path of the Pyrorager is not simply a damage-type-flip of the Path of the Frozen Fury; While raging, your melee attacks add +1d6 fire damage, which improves by +1d6 at 6th, 10th and 14th level. Odd: This specifically mentions that this damage is treated as magical. Plus, though: The ability does not stack with spells or weapons that deal additional fire damage. (Minor nitpick: A reference to a flame tongue isn’t properly in italics.) Rather powerful? Yep, but here’s the catch – you REALLY need to be careful with this one, for when your rage ends, you suffer one level of exhaustion! 3rd level nets you Ignan, but is a bit weirdly-phrased – it mentions proficiency, when 5e codifies languages usually regarding the ability to speak, read and write. 6th level provides resistance to fire damage, which upgrades to immunity at 14th level. 10th level nets advantage on Charisma checks when conversing with elementals speaking Ignan. 14th level provides a 30-foot line of fire for 3d6 fire damage, with a Dexterity saving throw for half damage, usable once per long rest interval. Unfortunate: The line does not specify its width, which they need to do in 5e.

The Path of the Skald nets you 2 cantrips from the bard spell list, and begin with 2 spells known, increasing that up to 11. You get up to 4 spell slots for 1st and 2nd level, 3 for 3rd, and 2 for 4th spell level, and use Charisma as spellcasting ability score. You need a musical instrument to cast (somewhat weird, considering IRL skaldic tradition does not require them…) and you can cast damage-dealing spells while in rage, and you can add Rage Damage to the damage of your spells. Formatting nitpick: “rage damage” should be capitalized. The path also nets an inspiration mechanic (d4s), and targets can only use it to enhance damage. Kudos: This does clearly state interaction with bardic inspiration. At 6th level, you can use two uses of this feature to grant all allies within 30 ft., including yourself, a Skaldic Inspiration die. 10th and 14th level provide a bonus spell known, and 14th level replenishes your skaldic inspiration after a short rest as well, not just after a long one.

The Path of the Superstitious Warrior can perform a 5-minute ritual; after that, they can spend a bonus action to detect the location of any aberration, celestial, elemental, fey, fiend or undead within 30 feet, plus one use per short rest interval at 6th, 10th and 14th level. You can choose a creature thus detected and deal an extra 1d6 damage to it with melee attacks while raging. 6th level nets you an item that you believe will protect you from one type of creature you can detect via Superstitious Ritual. The item per se does nothing, but you get advantage on saving throws against spells and abilities of the chosen type. You can also use your reaction (to what?) to give an ally within 5 feet advantage on a saving throw against such a creature’s spells or abilities until the start of your next turn. 14th level nets you a second such item. These items don’t preclude you from wearing magic items, and replacement of lost items is covered. 10th level nets advantage on Wisdom (Survival) to track creatures chosen with the item, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them. (I assume this pertains to both types once the second item is gained, but the pdf doesn’t specify this.) 14th level lets you temporarily emulate a type of movement that one creature detected via the ritual, allowing you to hunt down such creatures better – and no, this cannot be cheesed..

The final path would be the Path of the War Avatar. At 3rd level, when using the Attack action, you can make another weapon attack as a bonus action, with full ability modifier to damage. You can use this feature Wisdom modifier times before requiring a long rest to recharge it. 6th level provides a, well, not so cool – the first attack you make after entering rage nets a +10 bonus to the roll. Not a fan – even true strike just nets advantage! 10th level nets advantage on Charisma checks made to converse with celestials and fiends, and 14th level lets you choose one of the three physical damage types, granting you resistance towards all nonmagical sources of the chosen type.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, with only a few niggles. On a rules-language level, the pdf is precise for the most part, with only a few exceptions. It should be noted, however, that rules syntax deviates sometimes from how 5e usually phrases certain things. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and we get 4 artworks – two full-page and two half-page artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience – kudos!

Dale C. McCoy Jr.’s barbarian options are a step forward in comparison with the fighter options in the last installment. The designs for the primal paths are bolder and genuinely change the playstyle of the class, which is a good thing in my book. While there are a few hiccups here and there, the options generally are interesting, with the possible exception of the final path, which I considered to be pretty underwhelming. That being said, the book does otherwise deliver a cool array of options, and while the minor hiccups prevent this from reaching higher rating echelons, this is still a barbarian option book I can recommend. Hence, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroes: Fearless Barbarian Paths (5e)
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Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 1 (13th Age Compatible)
by Carlo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2020 14:32:53

Really enjoyed the Mer and Cat folk classes! Exactly what my PCs needed! Thanks!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 1 (13th Age Compatible)
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Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
by Viktyr G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2020 20:52:18

Great book that really expands on the lore and the mechanical support for a dozen interesting races-- if you're a player who wants to try something different, or a worldbuilder sick of the Tolkien Trio, at least one of the races in this book is going to appeal to you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium (PFRPG)
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Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/03/2020 11:23:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Book of Heroes-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 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 patreon supporters.

As you could deduce from the cover, this book contains a new slew of martial archetypes for the fighter, so what do we get? Well, the first would be the knowledge guardian, who gets to choose two skills chosen from Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature and Religion, gaining proficiency in both. Additionally, you may use Intelligence instead of Dexterity to determine initiative, and a similar substitution is possible for when you’d usually add Strength or Dexterity to damage rolls.  At 7th level, you can use a bonus action to make a Charisma (Deception) check contested by a creature’s Wisdom (Insight) – on a success, you get advantage on your next attack against it; oh, and the creature needs to be within 5 ft., so no using this with weapons that have reach. At 7th level, you may also substitute Intelligence for Charisma in a skill check, but may only do so once until you require a short or long rest to do so again; you get an additional use per rest interval at 15th level. 10th level lets you spend 10 minutes in an area to know the location of traps in a 30-foot radius. One use, then requires  along rest to recharge. 15th level nets proficiency in Intelligence saving throws, 18th level lets you ignore class, alignment, race and level restrictions of magic items.

The pact-bound blade requires taking an otherworldly patron and treats any weapon wielded for at least an hour as magical and adds 1d6 force damage to its damage. This improves to 2d6 at 10th level. The archetype also gets Charisma-based spellcasting, starting off with 1 spell slot of 1st spell level, and improving that to 3 spell slots and maximum spell level 4th; you probably have realized by now that this is essentially a warlock-style archetype; The 2nd level spell is gained at 8th, the 3rd at 13th, and the 4th at 18th level. 7th level nets an eldritch invocation, with warlock level equal to ½ fighter levels regarding prerequisites. 15th level nets an otherworldly patron feature of 10th level or lower.

The shadowed blade starts with an feature to increase your melee reach by 5 ft. twice before requiring a short or long rest, with 8th level adding a use, and 15th level increasing that to 10 ft. 7th level allows you to teleport 15 feet while in dim light or darkness, 30 ft. at 13th level. One use before you need a long rest to use it again. 7th level also nets darkvision 30 ft. 10th level nets AC +1, 15th the feature to use your reaction to teleport up to 30 feet away – this might seem a violation of how reactions are usually phrased in 5e, but actually isn’t, as there are two distinct instances that are covered regarding incoming attacks and this feature, namely before and after damage is rolled. Personally, I think that more uses, but before/after attack roll results are made known would have made more sense, but that are just my 2 cents. 18th level makes you invisible when in dim light or darkness, even against opponents usually able to see in them. Somewhat surprising that the archetype got no Stealth proficiency.

The shieldbearer extends you shield’s AC bonus to allies within 5 ft. of you; allies wearing a shield do not get this bonus. 7th level lets you sacrifice your shield, making it broken, to negate a single weapon attack that targets you. This is btw. surprisingly not codified as a reaction, which I assume to be intentional, since the 10th level feature allows you to intercept attacks on nearby allies by throwing your shield in the way, imposing disadvantage on the incoming attack. This is a reaction, and has an interesting caveat: It can only be used again once you’ve obtained a shield. Decoupling this one from the rest mechanic is a good call. 15th level allows you to add your shield bonus to saving throws versus area of effect attacks, and if you’re standing between the source and allies, they also get that bonus. This is the iconic scene of the knight guarding his friends – love this one. The 18th level lets you use your reaction to make a melee attack against enemies trying to move, knocking them prone on a successful hit.

The tainted soul is immune to the frightened condition (they know the abyss or hell awaits them, and try to redeem themselves…) and other conditions caused by fear; you also increase your speed by 10 feet when taking the Dash action, provided you move towards an enemy. When you do, you can make a melee attack as a bonus action, at the cost of losing 2 AC until the start of your next turn. 7th level lets you interpose yourself between an attack and an ally within 5 ft. as a reaction; this hits you automatically, but doesn’t bypass resistances or immunities. Starting at 10th level, you only need to sleep once per week; you can still take long rests, etc. 15th level increases all of your weapon attacks’ damage by an additional 1d6 necrotic damage. 18th level makes any creature you attack suffer from disadvantage on attacks against you.

Tacticians can use their bonus action to grant allies your Charisma modifier either as a bonus to attack rolls or damage rolls against a creature for 1 minute, with 8th and 14th level providing another use before needing a short or long rest to recharge. Odd: The feature has no range, and does not specify that the allies must be able to hear/understand you – pretty sure that’s an oversight, comparing the phrasing with e.g. bardic inspiration. 7th level is neat, as it lets you use your bonus action to suppress a couple of negative conditions. At 10th level, you may Help an ally attack a creature within 5 feet of you, granting all of the allies’ attacks advantage. At 15th level, you can grant allies temporary hit points via a 1-minute pep-talk. 8th level nets a 30-ft. battle cry that renders enemies reliably frightened, with success reducing the duration to only the start of your next turn.

The thrown weapons master gets 3 throwing tricks at 3rd level, and 2 additional ones at 7th, 10th and 15th level. You have 4 uses of them, and at 7th and 15th level, you gain an additional use. There are 13 throwing tricks provided, which include critical hit on 19 and 20 (risky, since tricks have limited uses, in contrast to e.g. the champion’s Improved Critical feature. There’s also one for ignoring half or three-quarters cover via banked shots, double throws, choosing physical damage type freely, etc. Weird: Flesh Wound makes your thrown weapon deal half damage. Why would you ever do that in 5e, where you literally get to choose if an enemy lives or dies? Unfortunate name: “Foot Attack”, since RAW, it should also work on things sans feet. I was also puzzled why we didn’t get more tricks – there aren’t that many, considering that the archetype will get the majority of them (9 of 13) during its progression.

Also at third level, we have the feature to throw weapons sans disadvantage while in melee. 7th level nets proficiency in Acrobatics, Insight and Perception; if you already are in one, you double proficiency bonus for that skill. 10th level makes your aim as a bonus action versus targets within the normal range (consistently called “shorter range” here) for a doubled proficiency bonus on a single thrown weapon attack. 15th level lets you use your reaction to hit missiles passing within 10 ft. of you out of the air, and at 18th level, you notice invisible or hidden creatures within 10 ft. The former imho should get a contested check, but since it’s the 18th level feature, I get why there’s none here.

The unbroken hero can use their reaction to make an attack targeting an ally within 5 feet hit them instead; oddly, this is missing the caveat that you must be able to see the attack, which another feature in this very pdf did have; it obviously doesn’t work with AoE attacks or spells, as explicitly stated here. At 7th level, we have proficiency with Intimidation and Persuasion, doubled proficiency bonus if you already are. At 10th level, you get +1 use of Second Wind before requiring a rest; 15th level provides immunity to the frightened condition, as well as the option to remove it from an ally within 10 feet as a bonus action. The 18th level feature is better than that of the tactician – it’s also a Charisma-based scream, but it’s one that paralyzes for a minute, or renders frightened on a successful save until the start of your next turn.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay on a formal and rules-language level; while the syntax of abilities sometimes deviates slightly from 5e’s conventions, that doesn’t hamper rules integrity here. Apart from very minor snafus, such as one instance of proficiency “modifier” instead of bonus, I have nothing relevant to complain about. On a formatting side of things, some features list average damage values, which is not the standard for class features, but doesn’t hurt either. The pdf comes with a two-column full-color layout, as well as full-color artworks, with 3 one-page pieces and a half-page version of the cover-image. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dale C. McCoy Jr.’s martial archetypes for fighter cover some roles that are bound to see some demand out there; that being said, I also couldn’t help but finding myself wishing that there had been a few more bold designs here; the Tactician’s coordinated strike, for example, is rather potent, but only starts off with one use. Having it more limited, but more uses, would have made it more versatile and less of a feature you leave for the boss encounter. I was also somewhat surprised by the thematic overlap between a few of them: We have two capstone battle cries, for example. There’s more thematic overlaps here than I expected from a pdf of this size. The designs here aren’t bad in any way, but I wished the pdf was a bit bolder with its concepts. That being said, if you do enjoy the less complex martial archetypes and similar class options, you’ll find some compelling material here. As a whole, I consider this to be somewhat of a mixed bag, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes (5e)
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Book of Beasts: Warpriest Codex (PF 1e)
by Ryan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2020 02:36:04

This codex creates a nice range of potental allies, and foes drawn from the Warpriest Hybrid class.

The odd levels NPCs stick to more standard builds, with the even leveled NPCs being more unusual. The occasinal use of Acrtypes is nice, and the sensable use of races from the Advanced Race Guide makes for some of the more interesting builds.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Warpriest Codex (PF 1e)
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Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2020 05:38:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This supplement clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

So, if the title wasn’t enough of an indicator, this book provides material for the occult classes, the Ultimate Intrigue & Wilderness books – namely, for the Heroic Races introduced in Jon Brazer Enterprise’s Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium. The races covered herein are androids, changelings, catfolk, dhampir, elan, lizardfolk, merfolk, samsarans, sashahar, skinwalkers, tengus, umbral kobolds, wyrwoods and wyvarans. Each of the entries for the races comes with favored class options for the new classes in the aforementioned Paizo-hardcovers, and we get class options, racial feats and otherwise unique options for each of the races herein.

Androids get two new racial archetypes, the first of which would be the living archive medium, who loses shared séance, haunt channeler and astral journey. This would be a good place to note that I like the formatting here: Each of the archetypes and more complex options note the associated class and race as well as the replaced and modified abilities in the beginning – this makes it easier to determine whether the archetype is for the build you have in mind. So yeah, I like this decision.

Living archives use Charisma as governing spellcasting ability and 2nd level nets the spirit esoteric ability: One spirit is chosen as the specialty spirit, which means that the medium gains the chosen spirit’s spirit bonus even when not channeling it. When channeling another spirit, this bonus may supersede that usually granted by the spirit. 3rd level allows the living archive to perform a séance to channel this chosen spirit in places other than the favored location. 14th level provides SP legend lore, but requires touching the person, place or thing. The verbiage has improved here considerably.

The second archetype would be the splintered mind psychic, who loses detect thoughts, telepathic bond and telepathy. The archetype modifies discipline, and gains both the lore and self-perfection disciplines simultaneously. Whenever the psychic gets a discipline spell or power, she chooses one from these two or a lower-level discipline power or spell chosen from the two. Wisdom remains the phrenic pool-governing ability score. 2nd level allows the splintered mind to use 1 phrenic pool point to use the nanite surge racial ability, even if she has already expended it for the day. 9th level allows the character to use nanite surge after failing a save versus an enchantment spell or effect to attempt a second save on the next round, with a bonus as if she had nanite surge’d it. In the revised iteration, this properly states the activation action. 17th level nets a failsafe spell: Spend 10 minutes of meditation and expend twice the spell’s level in phrenic pool point cost to get a contingency-style spell that is triggered as long as she has at least one nanite surge left. The revised edition now allows for phrenic pool expenditure to power this as well, making it fully operational. Kudos!

The race gets 3 new feats: Nanite Firewall lets you expend a daily use of nanite surge to mitigate influence; Nanite Maintenance lets you expend a daily use of nanite surge to reduce influence by 1d3 (minimum 1). Nanite Stabilization upgrades Logical Spell to not require higher spell slots while you have at least 1 nanite surge remaining. Psychic repair dispels ongoing effects that reduce the mental ability scores (does NOT cure damage, drain or burn!) and with a nanite surge to boost it, it can eliminate a charm or compulsion effect targeting the caster – the spell is personal, fyi. Solid.

The catfolk get the new feline interloper vigilante archetype, which replaces unshakeable. The archetype gets proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as shuriken, bola and whip and adds Handle Animal and Knowledge (dungeoneering) and (engineering) to the class skills. The archetype is locked into the stalker specialization, but may use the combat skill talent to get catfolkr racial combat feats, and at 3rd level, gets + class level to the DC to be feinted. The archetype gets two social talents, one that acts as wild empathy with 1 + Cha-mod charm animal as a SP on top, which upgrades to charm monster at 7th level. Sounds OP? Well, it can only affect feline/felid creatures, so I’m good with it. The second talent nets better gathering of renown when stealing particularly valuable objects from a target. A new vigilante talent nets Improved Unarmed Strike and flurry of blows at unchained monk -3 levels. The second new vigilante talent allows for limited style strike poaching from the unchained monk. There are new mesmerist tricks here, including one that makes the subject emanate a dazzle-variant based on sound that can hamper spellcasting on the subject. The second trick can deny a target that moves adjacent to the subject their Dex-bonus versus the next attack executed by the subject, which is per se cool. However, the enemy gets an immediate action Sense Motive to negate this, which is interesting. There is a masterful trick upgrade of this one, which now properly states its prerequisite.

Changelings get the malformed eye mesmerist archetype, which loses consummate liar, hypnotic stare and painful stare. Instead, the archetype gets a witch’s patron and the evil eye hex, which allows for the addition of bold stare improvements as if it were hypnotic gaze. The revised iteration has made the rules clearer. The archetype may also use forbid action as a free action, 1/round at-will SP, but the target may still sue the action. When doing so, the target takes scaling, untyped damage. This can only be triggered once per round, though.

The race also gets a new medium spirit, the crone, who applies spirit bonus to concentration, Int-based checks and Will-saves. The séance boon increases the CL of all non-instantaneous spells by 3 for the purpose of determining duration. Influence penalty applies to AC, atk, non-spell damage rolls and Ref-saves. The taboos are interesting. The lesser ability nets you use the mesmerists’s spells per day and expands your spell-list with witch spells. The intermediate power nets a non-stacking CL-increase for a school. The greater ability lets you accept influence to further boost per-round—duration spell durations. The supreme ability lets you 1/day use this in a better manner, and sans influence. The shifter gets the black cat aspect. Minor form nets you a minor luck bonus to AC as well as a penalty to nearby foes at 8th level, with higher levels increasing range of the penalty and the bonus. The major form lets you assume a Tiny black cat shape, including a luck bonus to atk. Higher levels also grant Black Cat and extend the bonus to saves and makes the feat usable 3/day at 15th level. Once more, rules improved here. The favored class options here deserve special mention, as they are pretty complex and interesting.

Dhampirs get two new racial archetypes, the first of which would be the blood scion mesmerist, who loses touch treatment, mental potency and glib lie. Instead, 3rd level allows the dhampir to use a standard action to lock gazes with the subject of a hypnotic stare as a standard action, acting as charm person while under the dhampir’s stare. Interesting – the target loses the memory of being affected thus. Limited and rather potent, but also iconic for the vampire-theme – I can get behind this one particularly since it is balanced by a hex-like caveat, so yeah -I actually really like it! 5th level allows for the summon nature’s ally-based SP of calling children of the night, with 10th, 15th and 20th level improving that. The revised iteration imposes the proper limitation here. 14th level adds the advanced creature template to the creatures called. 11th level allows for a better version of the archetype’s base ability, duplicating dominate person. This is a prime example of a good, flavorful engine-tweak in the revised iteration – big kudos!

The second archetype is the grim warder occultist, who loses magic circles and outside contact. They are locked into adjuration and conjuration as first two implement schools, but casts spells from them at CL+2; however, necromancy implement school spells are cast at -2 CL and similarly, the level to qualify for focus powers of the school is reduced by 2. The archetype is also locked into these favored schools for implement mastery. 8th level nets warding circles, which are undead-only magic circles against evil that may be enhanced with death ward via mental focus expenditure, even suppressing, though not removing, penalties from negative levels incurred by creatures prior to entering it. 12th level provides an undead-only binding circle powered by mental focus and fast circle applies to these specialized circles. As much as I liked the first archetype, this one left me less enthused – a pretty vanilla anti-undead option. The race also gets the Hypnotic Charmer feat, which lets you take 20 or 10 when using Cha-based skills on targets of your hypnotic stare.

Elans are up next, and we get a new medium archetype, the generation channeler, who replaces shared séance. These fellows may spend 2 power points to increase the die-size of the spirit surge die for one surge. (Rules cleaned up – kudos!) Instead of a shared séance’s usual benefits, we get +2 to saves versus enchantment and mind-affecting effects. The archetype may also expend power points to ask additional questions to haunts channeled, with the maximum number of additional questions contingent on Intelligence modifier. The pdf also includes a new aether composite blast, at Burn 2 – the elan force thrust, which adds a bull rush to the blast and causes force damage. There is a new mesmerist trick that nets catapsi when targeted with a psionic power or psi-like ability, though it only affects the subject. There are new phrenic amplifications, the first of which is somewhat problematic: Use 2 power points for one phrenic pool point? OUCH. This really delimits phrenic pool points for primarily psions. Not gonna happen in my game. The second amplification lets you expend power points to cast standard action divinations as swift actions or increase the DC of scrying or mind-affecting divinations. Elan vigilantes can get Cha-mod/day demoralize as a psi-like power plus class level power points; alternatively, another talent makes all vigilante melee attacks ghost touch and, later also adds a bonus of +2 to atk versus incorporeal targets, undead, mediums channeling spirits and spiritualist phantoms. Neat ones!

We also get a new medium spirit, the elan elder, whose spirit bonus applies to concentration checks and Intelligence checks and Int-based skill checks. The séance boon nets +2 to Will saves versus mind-affecting spells and powers. The influence penalty applies to Dex checks and Dex-based skill checks as well as Perception checks, but not on any saves. The taboos make sense. The lesser ability lets you spend power points for capped bonuses when using psychic skill unlocks; the intermediate power lets the medium accept 1 point of influence for +2 DC for a medium spell’s or psionic power’s DC – a very welcome reorientation for the previously problematic ability. The greater ability requires letting the spirit gain 1 point of influence. If you do, you may manifest ANY psion/wilder power as if you were a psion/wilder of the same level. You expend a spell slot of a level to manifest ANY psion/wilder power of the level of the slot you expended. Metapsionics may not be added, but you can augment the power via power points. This is pretty brutal, but kept in check by the medium’s spell levels. The supreme ability lets you 1/day use the greater power sans spell slot requirements or influence gained and takes away the level-limitation. The revised version here is much better than the original.

The lizardfolk race gets a new shifter archetype that loses sharp claws, defensive instinct and trackless step as well as the shifter claw increases. 1st level nets scaling studied target and 2nd level a scaling, Wisdom-governed AC/CMD bonus, which is halved when wearing nonmetal shields/armor instead, otherwise akin to the way in which monk-AC bonuses work. 3rd level nets fast movement and 5th level extra precision damage when moving, which scales. The main meat of class options here would be shifter aspects, 5 of which are provided: Alligator/crocodile, gecko, chameleon, pteranodon and snapping turtle. The first nets better aquatic Stealth and a 1/minute boost to base speed at 8th level while in minor form; Kudos: The major form correctly codifies the natural bite attack granted and the abilities gained make sense. Chameleon also enhances Stealth in minor form, but less so and regardless of environment. It provides standard and move action in surprise rounds at 8th level, and the major form is cool, with high levels netting your sticky tongue bludgeoning damage based on racial claws or shifter’s claws. Gecko enhances climbing and initiative and the major form provides some true climbing superiority and bite enhancers. Pteranodon nets a bonus to AC and initiative in minor form, while major form nets you clumsy fly speed, which improves in speed and maneuverability later and also nets you Flyby Attack et al at 15th level. Snapping turtle is interesting, in that it nets an AC bonus that increases when the character doesn’t move or attack. All in all, I enjoyed these shifter aspects.

Merfolk get two new water blasts: Siren’s song is a burn 0 sonic simple blast at reduced die size of d4 to account for the rare damage type; the composite blast Shrieking Song clocks in at 2 burn and provides composite sonic with the same reduction. There also are two utility wild talents, the first of which is siren’s kiss. For 1 burn, the DC increases by 2 and the talent nets you unnatural lust, save it requires concentration to maintain. Siren’s call duplicates nixie’s lure, requires concentration and has a 100-ft.-range. Not a fan: If you accept 1 burn, you don’t need to maintain concentration and the effect is prolonged until you next recover burn. Merfolk mediums may gain two new legendary spirits – Charybdis and Scylla, based on marshal and trickster, respectively. Charybdis’ séance boon nets you +2 to grapple checks and the influence penalty applies to Int- and Int-based checks as well as CL for the purpose of determining duration and range, which is BRUTAL. You also can’t benefit from CL-enhancing effects, which now explicitly does not include feats. The spirit gets an interesting intermediate ability: When an enemy targets the directly affects the medium or counters or negates a medium’s spell, the medium may, as an immediate action, allow the spirit to gain 1 influence to have the opponent suffer from crushing despair for a number of rounds equal to the medium’s highest spell-level known. Durations stack. This ability has been seriously cleaned up. Like it!

Scylla, based on the trickster, applies the spirit boon to Dexterity checks, Dexterity-based skill checks and Ref-saves. The séance boon nets a +1 bonus on one skill, which is also treated as a class skill. The influence penalty makes you not count as an ally for effects and also makes you not count as a willing recipient of spells. You must even be hit by touch spells, but you’re not forced to save versus beneficial spells. The unique ability here is classified as greater and has been renamed “terror of Numbers.” The ability allows the medium to allow Scylla to gain 1 influence to either reroll a die-roll or force an enemy to reroll; an enemy forced to reroll takes a penalty to the reroll equal to number of opponents within 10 feet, maximum the medium’s Charisma modifier. This formerly broken ability has been properly cleaned up and now is pretty neat!

We also get two mesmerist tricks: The first can be triggered on entering light, granting the target temporary hit points. The second grants darkvision upon entering darkness. Shifters gain a new shark aspect, which focuses on sensory improvements. The major form nets later a better bite. Minor and purely aesthetic wording quibble in the FCOs: “When gaining a taboo, the medium can use spirit surge without incurring influence one additional +1/4 time per day.” The final part of that sentence could be a bit cleaner.

Samsarans get a new occultist implement school, the eternal implements. The resonant power nets +1 competence bonus to Intelligence-based skill and ability-checks for every 2 points of mental focus invested, capping at 1 + 1 for every 4 class levels. The base focus power is touch of antiquity, which allows you to expend 1 point of mental focus to cause an object to age, inflicting 1d4 +1d4 for every 2 occultist levels untyped damage to an object and also cause it to be broken. Constructs may alternatively be targeted with a melee touch attack and a base damage die of 1d6, scaling the same way as the damage to objects. We get a total of 6 focus powers: One grants a combat feat, which must not have feat prerequisites, but otherwise, the target needs not fulfill the prerequisites. The power lasts for 1 minute and another feat is granted every 6 class levels thereafter and the feats may build upon each other, offsetting the no-feat-prerequisite caveat. Now this one is INTERESTING and well-executed, particularly since the revised version got rid of the one hiccup. Collective calm lets you choose multiple skills and take 10 in them, even under duress. Mantle of antiquity nets you a 20% miss chance and the option to gain a massive +10 insight bonus to a save, ending the mantle’s effects. Vast improvement over the original. Reincarnation’s guise is a combo’d disguise self and +4 ability score boost. Restore grandeur is the inverse of the base focus power, restoring items and constructs. Living targets may also be healed thus, but only 1/day. Wisdom of the ages, finally, nets legend lore, and has been properly cleared up as well. The implement school comes with its own spell-list – no complaints there.

Samsarans also get two new racial feats, Empathic Healer, which lets you heal ability score damage via mental focus or phrenic pool points when using Life’s Blood, taking the damage yourself. Reincarnated Hero nets you a bonus on Cha-based checks in vigilante identity and helps renown when you gain it. This is one of my favorite chapters within! (And I don’t even particularly like the samsarans…)

The sashahar get a new legendary spirit with Sessinakka (based on Guardian), complete with taboos and gaining favor covered. The ability gained is intermediate and provides an extended spell-list and the option to use spirit surge to boost concentration and CL-checks when casting these spells. We also get a new implement school here, the sentinel implements. The resonant power here is applied to saves against the extraplanar subtype. The base focus power is a swift action 20 ft.-burst that deals 2 points of untyped damage per class level, no save. Not a fan. We get 6 focus powers and a custom spell-list. Negating flanking benefits for one round per class level, a boost to CMD and saves versus attempts to move you and fighting on when almost killed by an extraplanar subtype creature are three of the benefits. At 11th level, you can get a rather cool summoning-suppression-field, which I really liked; the new version no longer auto-wins against certain builds, so kudos. Planar ward debuffs foreigners to your plane and nets a boost versus their tricks. I also really liked the high-level teleportation scrambler.

We also get a new psychic discipline, the gate guardian, who uses Wisdom as governing attribute. The first discipline power nets you temporary access to defense-themed monster abilities like fast healing, ferocity or light fortification and these improve at higher levels, also adding DR and AC-boosts and resistances to the mix. 5th level nets a scaling save bonus to either Fort- or Ref-saves, your choice. 13th lets you negate 1 critical hit confirmation per day, 2/day at 18th level. Nice one. There is a vigilante talent that nets the planar weapon quality and upgrades to +2 to atk versus creatures with the extraplanar subtype.

Skinwalkers get a pretty nice medium archetype that tweaks all of the standard spirits. The lunar spirits include: Witchbeast (archmage): Reckless and dislikes casting on allies, uses witch spell list. Ruler of Fangs (champion) nets better natural weapon base damage and martial weapon proficiency. Furred Warden (guardian) nets spirit bonus to AC and heavy armor proficiency as a lesser ability. The greater ability has been thoroughly cleaned up and now operates properly, allowing you to step in and grapple foes targeting allies. Moonwatcher (hierophant) has the archmage arcana spirit power, using druid/shaman lists instead as a lesser power. The intermediate ability is pretty specific – it duplicates energy font, but instead causes all skinwalkers to change shape instantaneously. Overflowing moonlight builds on grace and the previous ability, modifying it accordingly. The Grinning Beast (marshal) gets only the basics modified, not the powers, and the same goes for the Sewer Grandmaster (trickster). All of the spirits have séance boons that grant bestial features according to the nature of the spirits. I really liked this one and wished it had more room to shine: The tying of bestial features with séances is smart, the taboos etc. are cool and I like the custom spirit array. This is worth returning to and expanding to full-blown class tweak, imho.

Skinwalkers also get a new vigilante archetype, the moonlight lurker, whose vigilante identity must incorporate the animalistic features of change shape. The archetype can shift identities as a full-round action, as a standard action in moonlight, using the change shape racial ability in conjunction with it. The lurker gets two bestial traits when using change shape, which improves by +1 at 5th and 9th level. 13th level also nets a potent ability like fly, pounce etc. 17th level nets a second one from this list and 20th level provides regeneration 5, suppressed by silver. This does come with a price, though: No social talent at first level and, more painfully, no vigilante specialization. There are two lycanthrope-themed vigilante-talents, one for scaling attribute bonuses and one for scaling DR/silver. The moonshifter loses chimeric aspect and its greater brother as well as final aspect. Shifter claw benefits are applied to two natural weapons gained via change shape and it may be activated as a swift action. 9th level provides a hybrid form when in minor aspect; this improved at 14th level and the capstone nets change shape/wild shape transparency as well as DR 10/silver.

Tengus are up next, beginning with the vinculum corruptor occultist, who loses magic item skill and aura sight. Additionally, he only gets ½ class level + Int-mod mental focus. However, he does get ½ level (I assume minimum 1) of vinculum focus. This behaves as a regular mental focus, but enhances the CL when targeting the owner’s type/subtype. Owner? Yep, for these points may only be invested in implements that rightfully belong to another, which is interesting. 2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Sleight of Hand and 5th level lets the archetype locate creature implement owners. The swaggering avenger vigilante loses the appearance-ability tree and the 2nd level vigilante talent. They are locked into the avenger specialization and gain Dazzling Display, usable sans weapon as a standard action, at 2nd level. +2 to atk versus foes demoralized thus. There is a talent that lets you make a creature hit itself – and in the revised edition, the ability not only works, it makes sense in-game – kudos! 5th level nets Performance Combatant and a performance feat. 11th level nets temporary hit points with successful performance combat checks and 17th level lets you now use a swift action when reducing a foe to negative HP to AoE-demoralize foes.

There is a complex phrenic amplification that allows you to steal mental energy, like focuses, mesmerist tricks etc. via spells, which is interesting and, more importantly, really smoothly designed: It can’t be cheesed with kittens, the save-interaction is tight and neat. The target is also temporarily staggered, and no, no stagger-locking the target. Impressive one! The shifter, finally, gets the crow aspect (doesn’t specify natural attack type, requires defaulting), but otherwise, solid. The favored class options here are interesting, though the occultist bonus requires a legacy weapon, making it only relevant for the transmutation implement school.

The umbral kobolds are up next, starting with the shadowpsychic, who gets more phrenic pool – but whenever he uses 2 or more points, the linked spell becomes a shadow spell. To make up for that, he gets telempathic shadow barrage and shadow targeting. The first lets you add debuffs to the telepathic bond via phrenic pool points. Shadow targeting has been reworked to instead affect range. Nice. The race also gets the aether-based shadow blast simple blast, which adds +2 damage per die and makes damage nonlethal for Burn 1. At 15th level, composite blasts may also be enhanced thus, at the cost of 1 additional Burn. I still think this would have made more sense as a utility wild talent, but it is better balanced now.

We also get a new medium spirit, Kurgog the Guardian. I assume this fellow replaces the regular guardian. The séance boon is applied to CMD and influence penalty nets you -2 to AC. The lesser spirit power nets Dodge, which also encompasses uncanny dodge at 10th level. So far, the pdf has done an excellent job of cleaning up hiccups, but here, a big one is still included: The intermediate ability lets you, as a swift action, “expend 1 point of mental focus…” WAIT. WUT? Yep, we have a glaring cut copy paste error here that also extends to the greater ability. It’s okay to make another class’s ability available for a spirit, but it has to be MODIFIED to reflect the realities of the new class.

The wyrwoods get two new archetypes, the first of which would be the equinox infiltrator vigilante, who loses vigilante specialization, a ton of vigilante talents, dual identity and two social talents. They also share the druid’s prohibition versus wearing metal armor. They have 3 identities and change requires 1 minute of meditation. The archetype has one social and two infiltrator identities. Each of the infiltrator identities is associated with one domain chosen from the 4 base elemental domains and they may only use the domain powers while in the corresponding identity. They gain an additional such identity at 7th and 15th level and they get the hunter’s spellcasting, using druid spell list and domains exclusively. There are two feats to upgrade this fellow: Solstice Identity nets+ 1 identity with an extended domain choice. Specialized Equinox nets subdomain access for the equinox identity and the domain chosen.

The second archetype would be the phantasmagorist spiritualist, who replaces the phantom with a memorandum construct that does not have an emotional focus or ethereal form. Instead of an emotional focus, we get a sorcerer bloodline at 3/4th class level (minimum 1 caveat missing). Each bonus spell granted by this bloodline may be cast 1/day as a SP. While the memorandum is in the spiritualist’s subconscious, the character gains teamwork feats of allies within 30 ft., now with a proper scaling mechanic. 3rd level’s bonded manifestation-tweak instead provides access to the bloodline-related powers and spells as SPs.

The final race would be the wyvarans. Here, we get 6 form infusions that represent cones and line-shaped blasts for any element, in three steps. The wyrmling’s breath now aligns in comparison with the fire form infusion; the mature version has the same burn cost and level requirements and its water specialized spray. The section also has a utility wild talent, the draconic mantle, which nets all creatures within 5 ft. energy damage equal to the number of burn you have. Energy types may be any energy blast you have. Dragonshifters lose the animal aspect gained at 1st level in favor of dragon aspect, and the breath weapon they have has a sensible cooldown now; major form also nets basically dragon boosts.

The second archetype is the treasure hoarder occultist, who loses 14th and 18th level’s implements and outside contact. He suffers from diminished spellcasting and uses Cha as governing attribute for class features and spellcasting. He begins play with 2 implements, +1 at 2nd level and every three level thereafter, capping at 9 at 20th level. Add to that that 7th level makes all implements acts as having +1 focus invested in them, +2 at 20th level. Still strong tweak, but no longer overwhelming. We also get a psychic discipline, the vishapakar, whose phrenic pool is governed by Intelligence. It nets at-will identify and the dowse occult skill unlock for ley lines and magic items even if untrained in Survival. We also get quicker ley line attunement and limited phrenic pool point recovery when doing so. Important here: Spellcasting is governed by Wisdom. The 5th level discipline power isn’t functioning as intended. It sports free, at-will short-range dimension door, with the caveat to break it into shorter ranges making me think that it’s supposed to have either a range-based cap or, you know, that it’s supposed to have a hard cap, like similar discipline powers. Only weak and passive 5th level discipline powers are always on. 13th level provides standard action attunement, provided you can touch a Large or larger carved stone touching a ley line. We also get two racial feats: Hoard Aura makes divinations fail to reveal worn and carried items unless the caster makes a CL-check. Also applies to a living area. Cool feat! Hoard Guard makes you keen eyed regarding items and provides AoOs when a foe attacks or seizes an object from you.

Conclusion: The revised edition seriously cleaned up the rules-language of the book, significantly improving it in the ruled editing and formatting departments. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks that will be familiar to fans of JBE. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, and now also features a printer-friendly iteration.

Quite a few authors worked on this: Joel Flank, Sasha Laranoa Harving, Richard Moore, Kevin Morris, David N. Ross, Rachel Ventura and George “Loki” Williams. The revised edition of this book vastly improves the precision of the material herein, significantly increasing the value of the supplement.

Some of the concepts herein could have used a bit more room to breathe – archetype-wise, we focus on engine-tweaks, but they are complex ones, and often, quite frankly more interesting than many comparable options. The supplemental material, as a whole, sports a couple of interesting components as well.

In short: The book and its material runs now as smoothly as it should, and the publisher deserves serious kudos for finetuning the materials herein! Now, this book may not be perfect, but it is a densely-packed, interesting supplement of options, and for what it offers, I am happy to increase my rating for the revised iteration to 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence (PFRPG)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2020 19:26:08

There may be spoilers. ——————————— I much prefer higher level encounters. If I wanted ordinary combat, I would play Napoleonics or ancients wargames. But I like the fantasy, the magic, and at lower levels it isn’t quite there yet. You have to give your players a chance to figure out their characters, and then throw a big challenge at them. There isn’t a lot out there for higher level groups, level 12 and up. Most campaigns start at first level and peak, just when the group comes into its own. So I generally scarf up any prepared module above this range. Like anything, some are gems and some not. This installment of Deadly Delves, Temple of Luminescence for level 15, is a solid gem. Something has gone askew at the sun god’s temple and it’s locked down. It uses its own deity, but is easily adapted to fit your setting. There are enough encounters with exotic monsters & high priests to keep your crew busy, but there are also tricks and traps to make them think. By now, PCs better be prepared for anything or you could have a TPK walking in the front door. The author makes good use of environment and at times it’s more deadly than any physical encounter. I found myself looking up the melting point of bronze (950F)! While most dangers are fire related, they are also part divine. And there are problems to figure out, that could easily end the adventure before coming upon the Big Bad, and that is no walk in the park at CR18! The constant quakes are not the problem, just foreshadowing the end of times. There is a good back story, and the boss encounter isn’t just sitting waiting. Its also not just at the end of the hall. You have to follow the clues to get to the heart of the matter. Serious traps can be avoided with careful attention. The maps come in a separate file. There are three versions, one for the DM, one without room numbers, and the third is just room outlines. They are nicely drawn and each fits on a single page. One slight issue I had was that room borders overlap the grid and room size needed checking. A good party could survive the challenges and not reach a good conclusion. This bothered me at first, but I realized that at this level, failure WAS an option.So, are your guys up to the challenge? Can they save all existence?

RICHIE Disclosure: I did receive a complimentary review copy, but I already had purchased the module.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: Nine Lives For Petane (PFRPG)
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2020 16:51:26

There may be SPOILERS. You have been warned. (I've tried to avoid repeating the descriptive text above. complimentary review copy recieved)

Been playing RPGs since the white box. Write a review? Reviewed some stuff in college. Saw a short movie of a guy shoot himself in the foot to avoid the draft. Vietnam for you youngsters. So much for my creds.

I’ve always preferred using published modules. So many DMs typing at so many typewriters, someone will come up with Shakespeare, or Greenwood, anyway, with lots of good ideas to pick from. However, 9 Lives for Petane is like a confection. One delicious bite. All or nothing. The party is charged with recovering a body, a family ancestor, from a mausoleum erected for the dead of the Great Orc War. Of course, it’s been centuries, and nothing ever happens in graveyards.

This crypt makes for a very classic dungeon crawl. It could be played in an afternoon or evening by a focused group. Since I’ve never found one, it’s more likely to take two sittings with the average casual group. It’s made for 4 PCs of 12th level, with encounters ranging from easy to change your shorts. A demonic cult has moved in and is doing their best to desecrate these halls. Cleansing the crypt can be a secondary goal. Some of the dead have already been defiled and block the halls and several new denizens have been summoned. Think demons and such, which are challenging by themselves. The party needs to find the correct coffin quickly, and muster their resources to get back out. There is enough combat for the hack & slash crowd, but this does require thoughtful reflection to accomplish the correct objectives and live.

I look forward to a player death or two, maybe a TPK. Besides, I can always blame the author!

RICHIE

PS One other note, can be easily slipped into any campaign. The module uses the Norse pantheon, but is easily changeable. And the one minor flaw, easily overlooked or corrected: Raise Dead, Resurrection, and True Resurrection require different portions of the remains to work, which circumvents a plot point.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Nine Lives For Petane (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (13th Age Compatible)
by John W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2019 01:19:30

This is a fun and shortish adventure in which an ancient cult has raised their Big Bad of Doom to get revenge on the society that oppressed them. Our heroes get involved and oppress them again, hopefully. It has many interesting questions and ideas that trail off and beg to be used with player backgrounds and connections.

Highlights

I loved the idea of crannogs used in a swamp, especially when the thematically much more Central American Lizards are attacking. There’s no specific callout for the crannogs, and there could be a little more explanation about what they ARE to differentiate them from say, wharves on the land next to the swamp.

The author’s callouts are gold, and I only wish that there were more of them. The size discussion (about the size and impact of large/huge creatures and the author’s intent) is especially strong and just the kind of smart-guy-talks-about-story-effect that works for me. The detailed plan for the main villain if her lair is attacked (with several options to escalate, impact, or scare players) is excellent, and what EVERY Big Bad should have so they don’t just stand around while a Paladin with a sword of Whacking wanders around their lair, then comes upon them sleeping and hits them for another divine smite. I am also glad that the author put time and effort into figuring out why the Icons might care or hook in their party contacts, although see below for minor concerns.

My group is unusually blessed in GMs, so I run one-shots every three sessions. This is shaping up to be a beautiful two-shot that just fits my needs without having so much tramping around chasing cultists or having only a quick climax in a one-shot.

Why 4 stars instead of 5?

  • Despite the company’s numerous other 13th age-related merch, his references to the icons are a little generic and involve a certain amount of confusion about title, name, and gender. I assume that he massaged the normative or traditional icons for his own purposes, but he didn’t mention it at all in the text, as far as I can tell. Contrast this with John Marvin from Gods and Icons, who calls out his process in his work on this site like The Overworld and Beyond.
  • I think that the author found the escalation die very exciting. Of course, the dragon uses that die against the players. It’s very thematic that a destiny-touched creature like a dragon can use the players’ strongest powers against them, even escalation! I’m less excited about the escalation die being used for the lizard priests, the giant venus flytrap, and even the piranha in the dragon’s lair. Now it’s beginning to feel like it’s just an “everything hits more” die. Instead of being a way to mitigate poor player luck, it’s just a way things can become more unbalanced if the GM has hot dice.
  • Similarly, I think that the Mummy's Curse is a bit too powerful. If the players wake one while fighting the 4 by 4 set of mud zombies, they might take 10 points ongoing for four or five turns, then have limited or no ability to heal that damage due to the curse. I think a hard save and no healing IN combat seems much better, since you'll likely have that unhealable character keel over a fight or two later from unrelated damage that can't be healed. Perhaps your table is less variable than mine, but my players tend to use those 8 or so recoveries during or between their four fights for the day. Making character recoveries unusable because it makes the curse more thematic (it does) is maybe not being a fan of the characters as much as the fan of a Kool idea. If you're going to break a rule, like Save-ends, it needs to pay off more.
  • Creature referencing should either be first appearance or, better, a separate page or two that is easily marked. Go to the very first fight in the book on page 6, the fight that sets the tone for the ensuing adventure, the fight that should be very sense-based, thrilling, and engaging. The five creatures referenced for this fight all have the basic four-number stat block, but to find the powers, theme, and attacks for each creature, the GM is referenced to:
    • The 13th Age core book (fair enough)
    • Area A2 (no page listed)
    • Area A1 (no page listed)
    • Right here is a stat block only for the NPC rangers assisting the party
    • Area E4 (no page listed)

Why in the name of the Crusader’s Gods didn’t you just write a final section with your new creatures in it, then key EVERY encounter back to it? If I’m in B2, opposing five to seven other minds controlling powerful characters in order to make my creatures look deadly but make the excitement happen, I do NOT want to have to flip back to B1 and A to find the other stat blocks! That said, I made my own summary sheet with all the stats on it and will run the scenario with that.

It was easy enough to modify for my own purposes, and the core story was strong. I would definitely purchase another scenario from this author. I don’t SEE any more deadly delves for 13th age yet, but...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin (13th Age Compatible)
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for taking the time to review our adventure. I really appreciate it. Concerning the icons, we cannot use the icons from the core book. These are not open for anyone to use. However, we are allowed to create "nudge, nudge, wink, wink," "close but still different" icons. So that is what we did. We hope that they are close enough that you can make use of them with little issue. Again, thank you for taking the time to review. We hope you enjoy the rest of our 13th Age line up.
Book of Heroic Races Compendium (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/06/2018 04:13:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 117 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 110 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as a prioritized review at the request of one of my patreons.

All right, so this is a compilation with new materials added – it collects the first three spotlight-pdfs for new races released by Jon Brazer Enterprises, namely the Half-Faerie Dragon, the Seedling and the Umbral Kobold races. The latter have been released as part of the supplements intended for the Plane of Shadows-related supplements that, alas, much to my chagrin, never kicked off beyond a few initial supplements. Jon Brazer Enterprise’s Shadowfall material is definitely worth checking out.

Now, I have written full reviews for these 3 massive chapters/stand-alone supplements – they do several things right: The seedlings still rank as one of the most balanced plant-PCs out there, and the umbral kobolds do a great job remaining kobolds, while being a better PC-race choice. The book compiles these three sections into new chapters, improving sequence of presentation and the like. However, e.g. the balance-concerns I have about the half-faerie dragon’s breath weapon feat chain (which lets you get a breath weapon that affects targets even if they make their saves) still remains valid – that aspect hasn’t been cleared up. In short, these chapters very much remain compilation-chapters sans further refinement. While understandable, considering that the three racial files range within the upper echelon of quality levels, it’s a missed chance to make them universally laudable files; as written, the rich lore provided and execution renders the races basically a good-to very good selection of tricks. These also take up the lion’s share of the book – 87 pages of the content are devoted to this massive collection of material. So yeah, this would be the tl;DR-version; for your convenience, and since I had to go over the compendium and original files, here would be the compiled information of the 3 reviews, for your convenience.

---------Begin of Review Compilation---------

Half-Faerie Dragons:

. If someone had told me I'd one day review such a book, I would have laughed that person in the face - which is thematically fitting, as few words describe this race's outlook as well as "whimsy". As the superbly amusing monologue that starts this pdf proves, Half-faerie dragons may not be too wise, but damn, they can be fun to play as a race - or can they? Well, let's take a look at the mechanics: Gaining +2 to Int, Dex and Cha, but -2 to Con and Wis, they are fragile. They also get the draconic subtype, slow speed, are small, get darkvision 60 ft., can cast prestidigitation Cha-mod times per day as a spell-like ability, +2 to saves versus paralysis and sleep effects and courtesy of their butterfly wings, +2 to acrobatics and fly-checks. They can also 1/day breathe a cloud of euphoria-inducing gas that staggers and sickens those hit by it, but also makes them immune to fear-effects, making it possibly to use it both offensively and defensively. Generally, the race feels like it belongs to the upper power echelon, but not necessarily in an unhinging way.

Taking a cue from the first book of the series, we go on to get extensive descriptions on the physical characteristics of the race, relations etc. - all in all well-written and compelling and also links the faerie-dragons with wishing. The 5 new traits allow you to customize your half-faerie dragon to be naturally adapt at magic, good at running away from angry tricked larger folk or better at acquiring things. Also, if you want to sparkle, there's a trait for that - just take care you don't become a vampire if you do! (Or wait, THAT would actually be damn funny...). The race also comes with 5 alternate racial traits that exchange draconic resistance for the option to cast disguise self cha-mod times/day, for 1d3 claws and if you also lose the power to use prestidigitation, you can belong to the dragon type. Alternatively, you can just sacrifice your capability of arcane whimsy for +2 to AC or sacrifice your breath weapon for the power to cast sorceror spells at +1 caster level.

Favored class options for bard, cleric, druid, paladin, rogue, sorceror, summoner and wizard are provided as well, as is a discussion on Half-Faerie Dragon psychology that includes the Art of the Prank, their approach to technology and magic, love and mating, history and lore etc. - all painting a surprisingly logical, well-presented panorama of an uncommon race to say the least. Oh, by the way, age, height and weight tables are also part of the deal.

Three new racial archetypes are presented after that, with the bookwyrm (for the wizard) replacing his 5th level bonus feat with getting half his class level as bonus to all knowledge-checks and providing the option to make these checks untrained. Thieves with Wings replace uncanny dodge and a rogue talent with gaining the fly-skill as a class skill, the feat to allow them flight as a bonus feat and the flyby attack feat. Butterfly Troubadours may boast of their exploit to the extent where they believe themselves to be actually better, mock foes and subtly weave the usage of his breath weapon into his performance, which is perhaps my favorite piece of rules in this context. This chapter also provides the new faerie dragon bloodline for sorcerers, which allows for befuddling touches, the signature euphoric breath weapon, butterfly wings, swap locations at higher levels with other beings and finally become a Half-faerie Dragon/live up to your full draconic potential. Quite nice about the bloodline: Its abilities take half-faerie dragons also into account and expand their racial powers instead of granting them like the bloodline does for none-half-faerie-dragons. The pdf also includes a new PrC for the race, the Dappled Theurge, who gets d6, 2+Int skills per level 1/2 BAB-progression and medium will-progression. What's interesting about this PrC is that it grants full spellcasting progression to BOTH prepared and spontaneous arcane spellcasting classes, taking a holistic approach to both. Rather interesting is the ability to cast progressively higher (starting at first level and going up to fifth) spells she knows (but need not have the spell prepared) by sacrificing a spontaneous spell slot of one level higher. As a capstone, the class reduces the level-increase of meta-magic applied to spells by half to a minimum of +1 spell level Int-mod/day. A thoroughly interesting design and an intriguing PrC.

A total of 9 racial feats have been included in the book to develop the race further: Temporarily blinding foes with light reflected from your blade, beast-shaping into a faerie-dragon, chameleon scales that allow you to use stealth even when observed and unable to hide, telepathy as a spell-like ability and at 7th level a fly-speed are some of the new options. Breath weapons may be augmented to use them once every 1d4 rounds and via other feats, add the confused effect to the others AND even get an option to make the breath weapon make foes staggered, confused and sickened for 1 round EVEN if they save. And honestly, that is where the pdf kind of underestimates the power-level: We are speaking of a 30 ft cone every 1d4 rounds that has a save of 10+ 1/2 class level + Con-mod and inflicts move OR standard actions (No more full-round actions), -2 to ability, skill checks, saves, atk and damage and the effects of confusion - for 1d6 rounds per application, at least 1 even on a successful save. As a supernatural ability that CAN'T BE DISRUPTED. This is the pay-off of 3 feats. This is insane on so many levels: Once every 4 rounds would be insanely strong even sans the confusion added. Making it apply even if foes save is really, really bad. And offering no way to counter it (it doesn't even count as poison) is just the icing on my personal Broken-rules-cake. Yes, I get that the Con-penalty is significant regarding the DC, but for e.g. martially inclined half-faerie-dragons this mini-feat-tree is rather powerful and unbalanced. Either a fixed limit, getting rid of the effects even on successful saves or a way to counteract the breath weapon are required to salvage this. A feat that lets you cast any prepared spell spontaneously by sacrificing one prepared spell of one level higher would also set off my radar, but its limitation to being usable once per day saves it and makes it an actually rather interesting idea.

Among the new items introduced in this installment, we get a kind of hookah that mixes multiple breaths for a more hilarious story-telling, globes containing bottled breath, swords that deal less damage than similar ones, but count as cold iron and have a threat range of 18-20, timed purse-shaped color-bombs to stain potential thieves, laughing poison, patchwork armors and arrows that essentially are stinking bombs of the most disgusting variety. All in all, cool items!

The pdf also includes write-ups of Half-Faerie Dragon theology and 3 racial deities as well as the new butterfly and wish subdomains and 4 new spells that allow you to conjure up butterfly swarms, plaguing victims with a chaotic (and funny) curse that changes properties each day, conjure a phantom crowd to mock your foes and transform just about anything into a pile of apples or a giant apple. Why? Half-faerie dragons LOVE apples, as the flavor-text in the book shows... Thus, we also get 3 magical apple tree tokens and the "Bag of Awesome", a bag of holding that can vomit forth items in a belch of euphoria-inducing gas, has a tongue-like rope (that can be used for rope tricks) and can blast foes (while in rope-trick-form) with euphoria-gas. There is also a foolish cape and a fitting rakish hat you can use to disappear in - when the fickle magic works...

The two artifacts are also neat: One straight-forward crown and one an artifact-level rod-of-wonders-style item that can summon giant squirrels to do your bidding or rain frozen apples from the sky or turn foes into dark chocolate...

GMs daunted by integrating this race into their campaign will welcome the 4 sample communities (sans settlement statblocks or the like, but full of ideas) as well as the advice given for both players and DMs to avoid turning the inclusion of this race into a kender-fiasco V.2.0. Be sure to read this chapter carefully! We also get sample NPCs, with the first being a straight-forward bard level 1, the second being an illusionist/sorcerer 4/dappled theurge 2 and the final one being truly interesting: At CR 11, the character is a bard 2/fighter 2/oracle 2/ranger 2/rogue 2/sorcerer 2 - a jack-of-all trades, indeed, though one that uses all the broken breath weapon feats.

Seedlings:

Kicking off with in-character journal entries that depict the life of one of the race of seedlings, this book introduces us to the new race called Seedling: These beings get +2 to Con, +2 to Wis, -2 to Dex, low-light vision, +1 natural AC, +2 to con to avoid suffocation, drowning and starvation as they can draw sustenance from photosynthesis, can as a standard-action treeshape (and gain tremorsense 30 ft.), +2 to saves versus mind-affecting effects and paralysis, and 1/ day speak with plants. As you may notice, seedlings get the distinct fluff of being plant-like creatures and appropriate benefits without succumbing to gaining the subtype and its associated benefits, going thus a similar route as RiP's Ironborn did for constructs. If you want more alien plant-beings, I'd point you to Purple Duck Games' Fehr's Ethnology: Xhesa.

The race is extremely detailed and up to current rules-developments: From favored class options, alternate racial traits (which include resistance to fire and electricity, having thorns, hailing from the underdark with darkvision and burrow speed and resistance to disease and poison) to favored class options, all niches are covered. Better yet, I don't have anything to complain about!

In stark contrast to many race-supplements, we get quite extensive pieces of information on seedling-culture-lore and land and of course, also on their takes regarding other races and classes - two thumbs up for these avidly and well-written pieces that make the race stand out and feel integrated into a campaign world, not just some addition. The race also gets two racial archetypes, with the first being the Switcher, a fighter that uses the new weapon of the seedlings, the signature switch whip (which is essentially their hair) and allows it to be used to inflict bleeding damage, ooze a poison that makes its victims flat-footed, grow razor-sharp leaves on the head etc. VERY COOL! The second archetype, the tree spirit druid, is extremely adapt at scrying via trees by focusing senses into trees - again, very cool!

The race also gets an exclusive PrC, the negotiator. The PrC gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB and medium Will-saves as well as a gamut of abilities that allow them to form binding agreements and make them superb "face"-style negotiators. Nice! The 9 new feats allow seedlings to further expand their switch whip powers and also do some interesting things via their rooting-ability, allowing them to better weather assaults and also increase their healing/photosynthesis.

Beyond aforementioned switch whips, we also get a new armor, glow moss and a serum the seedlings use for ritual scarring and healing. Beyond these crunchy bits, we also get a massive genesis-story told in captivating prose, a write-up of their 4 deities (with appropriate domains, subdomains and mysteries - nice indeed!) and 4 cool new spells, themed for plants and seedling flavor and anatomy. Among the new magic items we get explosive seeds, the dread aurora pendant, heartwood, two iconic artifacts (one of which can grow a forest - over night!) and even more:

5 fluff-only community-write-ups (I.e. no settlement-blocks, but ideas galore) provide further ideas for GMS and players alike to capitalize on and the write-up also features extensive advice for DMs to fit this race into a campaign.

Finally, the pdf includes 4 sample seedling characters, using the content herein, all ready to be dropped into your game and spanning CR 1/2 to CR 14.

Umbral Kobolds:

Dale McCoy Jr., head of Jon Brazer Enterprises, was dissatisfied with the standard race of kobolds and an introduction of what this race is – essentially, a kobold-race ramped up to be on par with PC-races without using the identity of being koboldish. We also get a short rundown on Shadowsfall, the plane-of-shadows-setting of JBE before we delve into an actually very well-written piece of in-character prose. The short story gets you just in the right mindset before you get to take a peek at the mechanical traits of this race.

Umbral Kobolds get -2 to Str, +2 to Dex and Int, are small, get darkvision, +1 natural armor bonus, 2 to Craft (Trapmaking), Perception and Profession (miner). Stealth and Craft (Trapmaking) are always class skills for umbral kobolds. They also get light sensitivity, extensive pieces of information regarding their relationships with other races, alignment and adventuring etc. as well as thankfully a table for age, height and weight including starting age. They also come with 4 alternate racial options that may replace light sensitivity with albinism (weird choice, since albinism makes one not particularly appreciate bright lights either…), give them a blinding spit attack 1/day, make them especially tied to the plane of shadows (for increased caster levels in the dark, but also heavy drawbacks upon confrontation with bright lights and finally, kobolds that replace their natural armor bonus with +1 to Dex and +2 to stealth. With the exception of the albinism-trait’s minor fluff/crunch-disjunction’s exception nothing to complain about here.

2 racial character traits are also provided, one that nets you Knowledge (Planes) as a class skill and +2 on it and the other that gives you +1 to ref and initiative. After that, we're introduced to two new archetypes, with the shadowsneak getting bonuses to racial bonuses to movement and as well 1/2 rogue level to craft (traps) and Perception to discover traps. Solid, I guess, but nothing too special. The Mad Bomber alchemist archetype gets 10 + 3/4 level +Int to determine bomb-DCs, doesn't provoke AoOs when using bombs and counts as +2 levels with regards to alchemist discoveries related to bombs. Solid.

After that, we're introduced 4 new feats, with one allowing you to mitigate some issues related to 1s on disable device checks and gunslinger misfires, one that allows bonuses for saving throws for each kobold in range, one that doubles miss chance in dim light to 40% and one that allows you 1+Cha-bonus shadow jumps per day.

Two new items are also included, with a new nauseating, blinding poison being one and the other being a dye to color scales. 32 full-blown racial kobold gods are also here and after their well-written write-ups, we get 3 new spells - one that creates an illusory double you can blow up, assault foes with shadow-illusion coins and one to create an aura of darkness for which a swarm of shadowy kobolds panics foes. Among the new magic items, we get an incantation that makes shooting into melee versus undead easier, a crown that nets +2 to Int and Cha as well as form of the dragon I, black dust that sends the undead running from recollections of their past life and a kitchy talisman that guards you with minor bonuses versus specific types of death.

The pdf closes with 3 sample communities in neat write-ups (though sans settlement statblocks) that can be considered well-written indeed. The final piece of crunch is a CR 11 shadowsneak umbral kobold.

---------End of Review Compilation---------

EDIT: So, I totally managed to miss copying my discussion on the reaper-race into my review – because it had languished in the drafts-section. It was penned at a time when I was asked to hold on to the review, and while it was done back then, I never ended up releasing it. So yeah, with a bit of delay, for the first time.

Reapers:

After a brief bit of evocative introductory prose, we dive into the section on Reapers – what are these fellows? Well, they are basically a plane-touched race with psychopomp blood. Trait-wise, they get +2 Dex and Wisdom, -2 Charisma, are native outsiders, have darkvision and get a +1 racial bonus to saves vs. death effects, energy drain and negative levels – when wearing funeral masks. This is the only item type they may wear in the face slot, but masks may be enchanted. (Cool!) 1/day whenthey would die from hit point damage, they get a respite unto next round, potentially delaying their deaths or avoiding them – sufficient healing can prevent death. This only works for hit point damage, so rules-integrity is perfect here, though personally, I’d have made this abilityhave a scaling maximum – as written, they get even the 1 round when blasted to shreds by a deity, firmly anchoring them on the high-fantasy side of the thematic spectrum. They can, as a swift action, wreathe their scythes in a ghost touch weapon, and they may crit incorporeal creatures, unless these are also immune from a different source, such as being an ooze. Great catch. Additionally, they may damage haunts with their weapons as though they were positive energy effects – a great mechanic!! Use daily is equal to character levels. Reapers get +2 to all social skills (minus Sense Motive) versus undead and geta 5 ft. undead-sense that works akin to blindsense for undead only, but does not extend to possessing spirits. All in all, an amazing race! Slightly on the powerful side, but chock-full with flavorful narrative facilitator abilities that make them stand out. Great return to form and, with the seedlings, another highlight for the series!

As before among the races covered in this series, we do get a couple of interesting race traits and a selection of alternate racial itraits that include psychopomp bloodline synergy, the ability to 1/day manifest an incorporeal spirit of themselves when dead or dying, undead hunting – particularly the spirit-angle is really, really cool. Detailed information on lands and cultures are provided as well as notes on their languages and relations with other races. As far as class options are provided, we get a memento mori/anti-undead style druid who receives access to a tweaked spell-list, Knowledge (religion) and one appropriate domain. Solid engine tweak. The second class option would be the psychopomp bloodline, which, with its spirit touch and sepulchral veil, should be considered to be one of the better examples for bloodlines.

The pdf does include two PrCs – the memoriam amanuensis, who gets d6 HD, 4 + Int skills and good Will-save progression as well as 4/5 spellcasting progression. It spans 5 levels and basically represents a historian of the dead, who collects information from the dead and masters obscure knowledge to the benefit of allies – solid one! The second PrC spans 10 levels and would be the spirit guide. Here,w e have d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields, ¾ BAB-progression and ½ Fort- and Will-save progression. They are spear specialists and get really cool abilities – crossroads can lead them to souls in need of assistance, and they are specialists of the mask feats (more on that below) – they are one of the best “focused” PrCs I’ve seen in a while, making spears potent and focusing on more than just adding combat power versus undead. Big fan!

As before in the series, we get an assortment of new feats, many of which make up a kind of mini-tree: Bonded Mask makes your mask a kind of bonded item that can then be enhanced by the other ones, with a spirit inhabiting it, causing of fear, etc – rather nice, and reminded me somewhat of good ole’ Shadowman! (That’s a good thing!) Better undead sight and undead-affecting bardic performances complement this section. We also get a selection of really neat mundane equipment pieces, interesting deity write-ups, a new subdomain for Repose, the psychopomp subdomain and 4 neat spells that include a portal that sucks incorporeal creatures towards the afterlife! Oh yeah! Two magical masks and a potent artifact spear complement the arsenal of reapers.

We close the reaper-section with a selection of flavorful notes on reaper communities as well as sample NPCs ranging from CR ½ to CR 11.

Beyond these previously released, super-detailed races, the pdf also features 4 new races in significantly less detail – only a total of 18 pages are devoted to these new races, which means that, alas, we do not get the same excessive, cultural detail as for the first three races within. The first of these entities would be the Fosterling, a result of the dalliance of mortals with eldritch horrors from beyond. These guys get +2 Constitution and Wisdom, -2 Charisma, are Medium humanoids, and they may keep fighting as if disabled until negative Constitution modifier hit points. They can’t be reincarnated, and their bodies rapidly decay, so if they are to be returned to life, their allies should better hurry. The race gets Skill Focus for one knowledge skill chosen from a list of 4 at 1st level, as well as -3 to Handle Animal, but +3 to Diplomacy with aberrations etc. – the bonus type here should probably be racial, not untyped. They get a +2 racial bonus to saves against mind-affecting effects, may reroll the percentile die of being confused, and rolls to confirm crits against them suffer a -4 penalty due to their weird anatomy. Interesting take here! To supplement the race, we get 6 racial feats, each of which locks them as the progeny of one mythos-creature like mi-go, etc. The race also comes with an oracle curse. All in all, a solid take on the “touched by eldritch things”-concept, and one I wished had received more room to shine.

Melodians, according to legend, are the offspring of immaculate humans and fey songbirds, and they receive +2 Dexterity and Charisma, -2 Wisdom, are Medium and count as fey for the purposes of race-related effects. Minor complaint: Can they choose which type they count as for the purpose of e.g. a spell that harms fey while bolstering humanoids or vice versa? Or not? They get low-light vision and +2 to saves to resist fear- and despair-based effects and may 1/day reroll a natural 1. They also get +2 to one type of Perform check and add +1 to the save DC of spells with the sonic descriptor. Melodians with Cha 13+ get sound burst as a 1/day SP. This SP and DC-increase may be exchanged for 2 others via alternate racial traits, and other alternate racial traits allow for bard FCO-improvement, and one for better Linguistics instead of singing. The race also gets a fighter archetype that is a dervish-y one with minor bard tricks spliced in. The write-up also includes three feats and the songsteel material.

The Sashahar are Small reptilians that receive +2 Intelligence and Constitution, -4 Strength, who are also naturally psionic, and may use conceal thoughts and detect psionics at-will as psi-like abilities. They have only 20 ft. speed, but get a whopping +2 luck bonus to all saves. They also are ebrrations with the psionic subtype, which is a bit odd – I’d have expected humanoid (reptilian) here. The write-up includes 2 solid traits and 3 ones that provide alternat psi-like abilities. A minor psionic rogue engine tweak archetype and 2 feats are provided. One of these feats, Force Burst, fails to get the rules-language for psionics correct, mistakenly mixing the rules-language for attacks and powers for a somewhat confusing whole. 2 solid equipment types and a power to locate traps complement this fellow. I would have really enjoyed to learn more about this race – more so than the previous two, it would have greatly benefitted from having the room to develop a unique culture etc. to set it apart.

The final one of these new ones would be the Ursine, who, bingo, would be bearfolk that get +2 Strength and Wisdom, -2 Dexterity. Low-light vision and hatred versus aberrations and giants (+1 to atk), as well as +1 to CL-checks to overcome SR are also part of the racial traits. These guys get +2 to saves vs. polymorph spells and effects, diseases and versus ingested/inhaled poisons. In a pretty cool and unique ability, these guys may wield a couple of less impressive weapons as though they were a size larger, making them viable. Beyond these, the ability actually makes this “kind-of-a-size-larger” ability active, allowing for selective target choice. The race also get Lucerne hammer familiarity. This and the size-trick may be replaced with natural weapons, which are properly codified regarding type, but require defaulting regarding damage type. There is a means to replace low-light vision with scent. The save-bonuses may be replaced with Handle Animal bonuses, and the alternate racial traits include a Craft/Profession and more martially-inclined trait that also is pretty interesting. A spirit caller druid archetype is provided, which replaces the ally-summoning angle with spells. The archetype also has a surge-like self-boost and is a solid engine-tweak. There are 3 racial feats, with a 2-level mini-tree allowing for 1-handing a two-handed weapon or wielding a one-handed one of a larger size. This is, in a way, tapping into one of PF’s more problematic engine-parts, so yeah, not the biggest fan.

The first appendix collects a HUGE amount of favored class options for pre-ACG-classes as well as the pre-Psionics Expanded psionic classes: So Psion, Wilder, Psychic Warrior and Soulknife. FCOs for dhampir, drow, duergar, fetchling, grippli, etc. are provided – a ton of these can be found, including ones for the new races. Apart from the ones for the new races herein, many of these have been taken from the Shadowsfall Favored Class Options-pdf, though the Time Thief/Warden and Malefactor class option-references have been eliminated.

The second appendix comes with an assortment of engine-tweak-style racial archetypes for duergar, dhampir, dwarves, etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, which is pretty impressive for a book of this massive size. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf contains quite a few really nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf is hyperlinked for your convenience.

Michael Eshleman, Dale C. McCoy Jr., Richard Moore, Mark J Seifter, Marie Small, Todd Stewart, R. William Thompson, George “Loki” Williams – this cadre of authors does know what they’re doing. The races within have one major benefit, as far as I’m concerned: None of them are boring. They all have an interesting angle, and the base races themselves should not provide any balance-issues with these, even if you gravitate to lower power-levels. This level of precision, alas, does not always extend to the supplemental material, and a couple of feats in particular should be subject to GM-oversight. The racial archetypes, as a whole, tend to gravitate to the engine-tweak side of things. All in all, this compilation is well worth getting, particularly if you don’t already own the seedlings, half faerie-dragons, reapers and umbral kobolds – the four previously-released races are the stars here and warrant the asking price.

That being said, you should be aware that the release of this one predates both ACG and Occult Adventures, so no synergies there. I am not going to penalize the compilation for this, as it wouldn’t be fair, but it’s something to bear in mind.

If you already have the four main-races, the compilation unfortunately has a bit less to offer – the new races are all interesting, but universally suffer from the brevity of their presentation. While we do get age-height and weight tables and basic rules-customization tricks and supplemental material for them, compared to the first 3, one can’t help but feel the absence of lovingly-crafted, detailed fluff and cultural information for them.

How to rate this, then? Well if you have the first 4 races, this’ll be a tough sell on you and probably is something only for the completionist. If, on the other hand, you have missed them, then you’ll find some interesting and creative playable races here. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars – whether you’ll round up or down will depend on how you value supplemental material in relation to the race: if you want in-depth cultures and flavor, then the first four truly deliver – round up; otherwise, the racial options presented tend to gravitate to the smaller and simpler side of things, so if you’re looking for complexity, you may want to round down. As a reviewer, I have an in dubio pro reo policy and thus will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Heroic Races Compendium (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/08/2018 07:54:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Delves-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As far as supplemental material is concerned, the module includes stats for a Small negative energy elemental, which is nice, as well as an evil book contained some dark rituals and tricks for folks associated with the living dead. These, alas, do not come with proper rules-codification and thus render the book very much an evil story-item for the PCs to destroy – somewhat odd, considering that the presentation makes it look like a regular item, and since the defense mechanisms of the book have been properly codified. The module sports read-aloud text for your convenience and provides some guidance regarding negotiation etc. during the initial hiring talks.

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

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the PCs are hired to retrieve a caravan’s crew, taken hostage by hobgoblins, and, if possible, a couple of barrels of wine the goblinoids stole. A mad beggar pronounced a dire warning as the PCs set off. En route, we have a random encounter chosen from a list of 6 (solid, brief ones; nothing too crazy), before the PCs arrive at the hobgoblin cave, where the first couple of rooms present a pretty vanilla hobgoblin crawl, with a CR 3 ranger and CR 2 acolyte statblock; the dungeon’s first 10 rooms offer some choice, aren’t linear and generally are nice. The one thing that’s odd in the complex would be all those weathered glyphs on the walls.

Well, turns out that this is a bait and switch scenario: the complex is neatly bisected into two different areas, with the final 4 areas across the river containing the remnants of agents of the cult of dread Tyrkaven: Extremely fast (50 ft.!) cursed zombies with CR ½ and the ability to emit a bolstering screech. Casting a single necromancy spell alerts these critters and has them burst into the rest of the complex! (The speed is important, also since they need to jump across the river and have no ranks in Acrobatics.) Chaos erupts, and chances are that the single hobgoblin who fights alongside the PCs may make for an interesting future ally. The Warmaster of these tyrkaven-zombies clocks in at CR 4, and the ghost of a madman can potentially provide further hooks. The pdf contains two handouts, which is a nice bonus. No template to create your own tyrkaven-undead is included, alas.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid full-color artworks. The cartography is similarly full color and nice, though, alas, no player-friendly version is included. The pdf has bookmarks that work, though they show up as gibberish in my version. The pdf comes with a second, printer-friendly version. Kudos!

Dale McCoy Jr. provides a nice and solidly-executed bait-and-switch scenario. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking one, but it doesn’t try to be. It executes its angle well and is enjoyable. That being said, there are a couple of small details in book, lack of player-friendly map, etc. that make this one feel less polished than the excellent, more recent installments in the series. All in all, I consider this to be a solid and fun module that plays better than it reads, at least in the hands of an experienced GM. Having an enemy-progressing chart/tracker would have made sense here. All in all, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (PFRPG)
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Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/31/2018 10:36:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Delves series of modules clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to being prioritized by my patreons.

Now, first things first – this is a high-level adventure intended for level 15 PCs, and as such, is bound to be challenging. A well-rounded group is very much recommended. The adventure, theme-wise, centers around a sun deity and a grand malfeasance befalling her most sacred of temples, and as such, the stats for the deity are provided in an appendix. Domains, subdomains, inquisitions and mysteries are noted, as is an occult ritual unique to this belief. Big plus here: The deity is easy to replace with Saranrae and similar sun goddesses and gods – the module does not require in-depth understanding of doctrine or the like to work, making adapting it simple. A CR 18 high-level monster is also introduced and doubles as the BBEG of this adventure – and yes, the demon is actually VERY destructive. This adversary is not the only fully statted high-level being herein, mind you.

As far as cartography is concerned, this module gets two thumbs up: The adventure comes with a second pdf that provides the map in a version with all keys and features, one sans keyed numbers and all features, and one sans features or keyed numbers, providing all the tools we expect regarding the respective cartography demands of the modern player. The maps are in full-color and neat. Big kudos for including full and proper map support here.

A big plus here would btw. be the terrain use of the module: With complicating terrain hazards and a global effect that makes the fire theme work in properly codified rules, the adventure makes clever use of obstacles, traps, curses, etc. – this is a big plus and a component that keeps the battles dynamic.

A big issue that many a GM faces regarding high-level dungeon exploration, is that most modules do not take player and PC-capabilities into full account. This module has a distinct and clever way to make the PCs explore the dungeon properly without handholding.

But in order to talk about how this works, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, bad things have been happening, and the PCs are asked to investigate the Temple of Luminescence, which is on lockdown. Bluffing or fighting their way past the guards, the PCs will soon realize the reason for the seismic activities haunting the area – it seem like the faithful have taken to a rather…well, let’s say, “radical” interpretation of their deity’s creed. The High priest plans to draw the sun closer to the planet, to bask all sinners and folks in the glory of a scorching sun. So yeah, the stakes are high – we’re talking about a global apocalypse here!

I did mention global effects for the dungeon before: Flame damage inflicted within stems half from divine energy, bypassing resistances etc., while maintaining the elemental theme. Furthermore, the seismic activities add further complications while exploring the already challenging temple. The clever idea I mentioned before, the one that makes the PCs explore the whole temple, ties btw. in with the ritual: The sanctum sanctorum can only be breached by defeating the Morning Priest and the Noontime Priest. In an interesting twist, this often puts the PCs in conflict with creatures only seldom faced in combat by PCs, for example devas and similar angels.

The traps, just fyi, are suitable for PCs of these lofty levels as well, and better yet, smart players may actually never get to see a few of them, as there is a sensible reason and means to bypass them – kudos for not sacrificing in-game plausibility for design here. That is not to say that they’re simple, mind you: One combo of a trap and a particularly nasty haunt (whose existence makes sense!) can be stated as something rather brutal, and delightfully so. The haunt is btw. fast, so yeah – this is a module that demands respect, even from high-level PCs – it’s not pleasant being blasted to dust by a photonic cannon or being crushed by a gravitic corridor, after all… That is a good thing. Not convinced yet? Well, one of the bosses that the PCs will need to best to get to the High Priest? Very old solar dragon. Did I mention the encapsulated singularity or the searing pulses of light? Light can be a cruel mistress indeed, and guess what? The High Priest is not the final boss! That CR 18 critter I mentioned? That would be a really nasty new form of demon, the sun demon. And no, he’s not so stupid as to fight those interlopers alone… So yeah, bring industrial quantities of magical sunscreen, you’ll definitely need them…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to the nice 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks – these are organized in a smart way, btw., featuring nested entries for specific sub-routes the PCs have to take. That’s going one step beyond and deserves applause. Interior artwork is consistent and mostly of the same style and quality as the cover. The cartography, as noted, is nice and full-color, and the player-friendly map support is a big plus for guys like yours truly that suck at drawing, or for those that play online.

An elemental dungeon at high levels? In the hands of a lesser author, this could have easily been a trainwreck. However, Mike Welham is a veteran, and his reputation is well-deserved: The Temple of Luminescence is an actually well-done, cataclysmic and dynamic dungeon. The clever use of traps, monsters and modular and local terrain hazards and effects can constantly maintain the gravitas of the situation at hand. It’s very hard to forget what’s at stake here, and the plot of the adventure, as well as the clever way to make the PCs actually explore the dungeon, is really cool. The adventure, in spite of being a rather technical dungeon crawl, never loses its unique and sensible atmosphere, never feels like “just another” dungeon. The clever adversary choices and diverse challenges render this an excellent example for rewarding high-level dungeon design that also has a BBEG who is surprisingly smart in how the last stand is set up – but you can see that for yourself.

In short: The “Temple of Luminescence” continues the streak of excellent adventures that have lately come out of the Deadly Delves series – this is a great adventure, worthy of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence (PFRPG)
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Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/26/2018 04:20:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 1 page 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.

Chilling Blast and Poisoning Blast require chill touch and poison spray as well as eldritch blast, and allow you to change the damage of the blast to cold or poison damage, respectively. Eternal laughter lets you cast hideous laughter once per long rest interval via a warlock spell slot. Devil’s Darkness requires the devil’s sight eldritch invocation and lets you cast darkness without using a warlock spell slot, with a unique recharge mechanic: When centering the spell on yourself, you can regain it on a short rest as well; otherwise, it requires a long rest to use it again. I like this.

Starting at 5th level, the warlock may choose acidic blood, which inflicts your Charisma modifier in acid damage on targets inflicting slashing or piercing damage upon you with natural attacks. This should take reach/range into account and only apply to melee attacks – after all, a manticore’s spikes are natural, right? And it doesn’t make sense for the blood to damage a target far away. There is also a means to grant yourself advantage on one Charisma (Intimidation) check per short or long rest interval. Flavorwise, that one makes you look like a fiend, which makes me think that it may have been intended for the Fiend patron only – it doesn’t make much sense for Archfey-warlocks to emulate a fiend. (And yes, this is fluff-nitpicking. I know.)

The 7th level invocation Undersea Horror nets you swim speed and proficiency in Strength (Athletics) checks made to swim. If you’re already proficient in Athletics, does that stack? I assume no. You can also breathe underater and cast water breathing once per long rest interval as a warlock spell. 9th level unlocks the option to use teleportation circle via a warlock spell slot, and adds teleport to the spell list, allowing you to take it at 13th level as Mystic Arcanum. Fiendish accuracy lets you, once per short rest interval, cast true strike sans using a warlock spell slot as a bonus action, applying its effects this turn. There is one invocation that requires 11th level to take, as well as dispel magic: Arcane nullification makes the spell treated as though it were cast with a spell slot equal to half your level, rounded down. This one should specify the cap at 9th level, obvious though that may seem.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, with hyperlinks added where applicable. On a rules-language level, there are very minor nitpicks here. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard. The pdf has a bookmark for credits and content, in spite of its brevity.

As a whole, I like Dale McCoy Jr.’s warlock invocations. The class feature isn’t exactly the most exciting thing about the class, but what we get here, is, as a whole, interesting. Now, you probably won’t be blown away by this one, but if you're looking for an inexpensive way to diversify warlock options, this may be worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations (5e)
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13 Cleric Domains and Spells (13th Age Compatible)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2018 05:00:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of class expansion-pdfs clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content – these include a gorgeous full-page full-color artwork and the introduction.

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

The pdf begins with 3 new domains: The first of these would be Elements OR Weather – you choose one of the 5 base damage types, and may 3/session as a quick action to reduce damage of the chosen energy by d4 times Charisma modifier. As invocation, you may convert half damage of a holy damage-inflicting spell to the chosen energy type. The three tiered feats increase these damage reducing tricks in die size and net you additional energy types. The Epic feat allows you to provide 16+ resistance to a target protected and lets you use it offensively, making targets lose resistance or become vulnerable for Charisma modifier rounds.

The second domain would be Liberation OR Anarchy, which nets you a one-point positive relationship with an icon you don’t already have a relation with, once per incremental advance. The invocation lets a nearby ally pop free, which may, via the feats, be used as a free action even if it’s not your turn, also end the grabbed or stuck conditions and, via the epic feat, 1/day target all nearby allies with it. Cool! (And yes, the icon relationship angle does get a bit of GM-advice – kudos!)

The final domain presented would be Luck, which once per battle on respective turns as a free action, lets you or your allies adjust the natural value of a single d20 roll downward by 1. Allies need to be nearby. Cool! The pdf, alas, mirrors in layout one of the guffaws of the 13th Age Core book, namely that of the Love Or Beauty domain, which counter-intuitively put the invocation at the back end. I will not penalize the pdf for it, but it didn’t make any sense in the core book. That being said, the invocation allows for the reduction of a save difficulty, and the two feats (Champion and Epic tier) allow allies to not use these benefits and instead fuel a temporary increase to AC or PD based on escalation die, with Epic tier’s feat adding MD to the options. I like this one.

We get 3 new 1st level spells, the first of which would be the ranged divine opportunity, which targets yourself and an ally, allowing both to execute an interrupt action, which does count against the actions in the subsequent round. Higher levels yield longer duration and more targets as well as upgrading the interrupt to free. The adventurer feat speeds casting time up to a move action. The other two spells are both close-quarters, with martyr’s touch being a quick action spell with a 16+ recharge after battle. The spells allows for recovery transfer, with later levels allowing for immediate healing, hit point transfer of up to escalation die recoveries to multiple allies, capping at one per ally. The feats enhance recharge and make it 1/battle, via the Champion tier feat. Spark of hope is daily and you must be staggered to cast it; the spell targets a nearby foe and attacks via Wisdom + Charisma + level vs. MD, rendering the target vulnerable 18+ to the attacks of your allies until the end of your turn, as well as providing minor temporary hit points to nearby allies. The hit points granted and vulnerability improve over the levels. The Adventurer tier feat adds dazing, the Champion tier feat weakening.

The pdf includes two 3rd level spells: Compelling litany is a ranged, once per battle spell that targets up to 3 enemies and inflicts minor holy damage, but also allows you to prevent them from one type of action: disengage, intercept, making opportunity attacks. Higher levels improve damage and allow for more prohibited actions, with 9th level making enemies lose an action on their turn. The feats require that enemies save to end the spell and allow you to target less, but far away, enemies. Okay, do all enemies targeted have their own prohibited behavior, or do they have to share the same prohibited behavior? What does “lose an action” mean? Does the affected character get to choose which one to lose? This one needs clarification. The second spell, hallowed ground, is a close-quarters daily spell, and is really cool, offering holy damage based on escalation die, and alos allows you to mitigate environmental effects. The Adventurer feat makes this 16+ Rechargem the champion feat lets you cast it as a quick action.

The 5th level spells presented are both daily ranged spells: Castigation targets a nearby enemy with Wisdom + level vs. MD, causing holy damage and stuck on a hit, escalation die-based penalty to MD on a miss; Higher levels add stun and increase damage. The spell can be enhanced with a Champion tier feat, which adds a self-directed attack on a successful save versus the spell. Nice. March of saints can be cast for power or broad effects: This influences the damage and number of targets, and the spell targets PD. Odd: The cast for broad effect can be more potent than the power one, as allies may elect to target PD instead of AC in this variant. On a Miss, the target is treated as engaged, and when moving sans disengaging, takes half damage. The spell’s higher levels upgrade damage and targets. No feats for this one.

At 7th level, there are two more ranged spells: Divine dominion is daily and targets MD, inflicting either holy damage on demons, devils, etc. and hampers such beings, or assume temporary control over the target if its another type of creature. Miss adheres a roughly halved effectiveness. The Epic feat really rocks: Once per level, when hitting a staggered target, you can spend icon relationship points which came up as 5 or 6 to sway the target to your side! Really cool! Glimpse of perdition is a recharge 11+ one that can only target foes with 160 hit points (250 hp at 9th level – formatting is a bit awkward here) or less, targeting MD. On hits, the enemy targeted is temporarily helpless and must flee; on a miss, the enemy suffers from fear. Undead, devils et al. have a harder time ending the condition. The epic feat can banish such beings to their home plane or grave – neato. Foes thus sent away may return with a icon relationship to which you’re negative or conflicted. Nice angle!

Finally, there is one 9th level spell, the daily close-quarters deific weapon. The casting requires the cashing in of an icon relationship point for which you rolled 6, and you manifest the legendary weapon of your deity, overwriting any regular item chakra benefits. The weapon grants a +3 bonus and two epic powers. While escalation die is less than Charisma modifier, foes of your deity or icons you have positive relationships with, become vulnerable (16+) versus the weapon. When hitting such targets by 4+, you also ignore any resistances. Ouch!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though the aforementioned minor guffaw and some of the aesthetic formatting decisions slightly hamper the pdf. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with two great full-color pieces of artwork – kudos for such a small pdf! The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity – once more, nice!

Richard Moore’s cleric options are my favorites among the 13th Age material he has so far released. There is more daring here – the pdf makes great use of the system’s escalation die and unique icon relations, rendering these effects really unique. While the minor guffaws noted slightly drag this down, it’s not by much – the pdf presents a well-designed array of tricks that dares to be creative: I’ll gladly take a minor glitch in an intriguing pdf over bland, but perfectly executed content. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13 Cleric Domains and Spells (13th Age Compatible)
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Creator Reply:
I am glad you enjoyed this. Thank you for taking the time to review.
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