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Monsters of Porphyra 3
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/04/2020 11:52:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary clocks in at 256 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (by letter – smart!), 2 pages of alphabetic monster list, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 248 pages of monsters, 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.

Okay, so a few things first: The book provides a list by monster subtype, by monster type, by environment and by challenge rating – in short, combined with aforementioned ToC and alphabetic list, handling the book is simple and painless. That might sound like a small thing, but particularly for big bestiaries, it’s seriously helpful. It should also be noted that, if you’re not familiar with Porphyra RPG, this book’s content is pretty much compatible with PF1 – most GMs will be able to use the monsters herein on the fly, without any hassle.

However, this is not where the book stops: 12 pages are devoted to the universal monster rules employed herein, and we also get the rules for subtypes and types. And yes, these genuinely are helpful – take e.g. demon lords: They will be particularly proficient with ritual magic (coming soon), and do not possess a static initiative, providing a glimpse of what we can expect from apex-level outsiders. From ogdoad to the zicree, there is a lot here that is interesting: The zicree can e.g. construct via strange fibroids, and are automatically part of a collective for the purpose of ability interactions – so yes, psionics remain very much a fixed part of Porpyhra. Types have their own entry that lists their metabolism with a new header– so whether they eat, breathe or sleep…which is something I genuinely appreciated being here, as it makes parsing that information swifter than in the previous iteration. It’s admittedly a small thing, but I found it helpful. The slightly tweaked monster creation guidelines (up to CR 20) are also presented herein – it is notable that class skills of monsters have been moved to their types, which I personally like – it means you won’t have to flip pages as much.

Okay, that’s the organizational aspect covered, but there’s another big thing to note: The book has a list of artists, and which creatures they provided the artworks. I am always in favor of crediting people properly for their work, so kudos here – particularly considering the vast amount of full color art herein!! I wish more publishers did that. After this list, we have a pretty detailed “How to Use” for the book, which does include a handy summary of the poison rules (which imho are seriously superior to PF1’s take on poisons!). The section also explains the changes made to initiative (passive total) and Notice, which is essentially passive Perception.

Okay, so the book as a whole, obviously, is a monster book, and as such, it is devoted to presenting a ton of creatures for your game. I have reverse-engineered quite a lot of the critters herein, but not all of them. From the data I collected, I can attest a degree of precision that is beyond what you’d expect to see from a book of this size. Covering each and every creature herein would bloat the review beyond any utility, so I’ll try to provide a cross-section of what this book offers.

All right, so, what do we get? Well, the book supports quite a few of the less prominent outsiders, including aeons, and the CR 8 parabythos deserves special note: They can fire a blast that splits mortals in two – the body and a crystalline form, which is immobile, with both having half the target’s HP. And yes, getting rid/curing the affliction is included – unique, and flavorwise a neat niche covered here. The lepidoral agathion manages to make a bunny-person look cool, and has pretty brutal slaps that can cause confusion for a rather prolonged period of time, and speaking of agathions, there also are owl-agathions capable of creating blizzards. The book also introduces something rather uncommon, namely a low-CR angel, the meadow maid, and the book includes a psionic angel. Speaking of uncommon outsiders: What about a psionic beetle-like asura? The book also features a new demon lord, and something that made a lot sense to me: The apiary devils, essentially a whole low-CR caste of devils that acts as a group of individuals establishing footholds – and making fortresses, for they are super-adept at making new fortified structure. This makes so much sense in the context of infernal efficiency. 2 new genies (metal and wood) are also provided, and there’s a new inevitable as well – they are REALLY creepy to me, tasked with eliminated creatures of mixed bloodlines. Yep, that is a damn chilling thought here, having a four-armed monster come after you for your mixed bloodline...and did I mention the qlippoths designed to interact with mortals? They are also rather chilling.

Did I mention the sonic-themed sluu’gho? Or the four-armed warfan-using Hevaka, agents of Lyvalia, the Whispering Councillor?

The elemental themes of Porphyra are also represented in some really cool multi-type elementals, like the mighty CR 17 backdraft, which can suck targets prone and towards it, then deliver truly devastating multi-damage type explosions? Or the masagmasvima, hurling magma and an aura that can sicken targets?

Of course, there are a lot of other critters herein. For example, there are the one-eyed Abaasy giants with a fear-inducing gaze and horrid, metal lashes, the chthonic cyclops, and there are the anakim giants (aesthetically-coded as quasi-Sumerian); and with chingatrüll and drainpipe trolls provide 2 new types of trolls with unique signature abilities. Speaking of which: In case you were wondering, yes, this book does include several templates as well, for example ones for the unknowing creature, which is used to design creatures that haven’t realized that they’re dead – and who don’t take kindly to that being pointed out. Another example would be the hexenbiest template, which is a means to represent beings bound to a hag – as such, there is quite a bit of variety even within the template. Templates, of course, do include several sample creatures. I am particularly fond of the moldering template, since this template allows for the use of common molds and slimes as infections that take over the bodies of host creatures.

Do you like dragons as much as I do? Well, then this book has quite a lot of material for you! Beyond the guardian, hagiographical and porphyry drakes (4 statblocks provided for each of them), we also have the arid, ashen, darkstone and hoard dragons (3 statblocks + global rules provided for each of them), and the new CR 13 wasteland linnorm, which comes with suggested sample treasure. While an elemental, the sleet dragon is draconic in form, and the qi dragon is actually an animal and not exactly smart. I was surprised seeing that this fellow was not at least a magical beast, but its design is very much in line with the design paradigms of animals – very much focused on being a hunter, etc. The grotesque CR 20 typhoean, with its draconic headed arms can also be roughly considered to be a part of this section...and this also holds true for the really cool paper dragon golem! (CR 26, btw. – and yes, they are extremely deadly!)

Of course, there are more constructs in this book: There would be a spiderbot with laser webs, there are drones, there is a really cool guardian made from blood, linked to a ward? One of my favorites is the nightmare collector – a boss-monster-level construct that can create dark duplicates, with a smart Achilles’ heel – a very cool example of a puzzle boss!

Of course, the book also makes ample use of the notion of a fantastic ecology, which includes new oozes, giant wolf spiders, the long-limbed trog flies…and what about a horrid amalgamation of grizzly, shark and octopus? (!!) Two new owlbear variant are provided, and we can find the massive whalecrocs, and a mongoose-like creature bred with an eye towards thwarting killers, able to detect poison and studded with skunk-like spray. Dinosaurs and megafauna are also provided, and what about the grotesque psionic moddey dhoo, with their curse of the black dog, moving in perpetual silence? Did I mention that the book provides stats for dire penguins, or the rot monster, a chilling relative of the rust monster that is really creepy? The chameleon-like psionic shadowcat and the sheepsquatch, or the shadow-themed anglerfish-thing…the strange flora and fauna really help and add to the flavor presented here.

As you can see, there are some fun critters here – and this playfulness can also be partially seen among the fey, with beavertails…and did I mention that Tiny fey preferably ride…DIRE CORGIS? On the creepier side, the undead/fey crossover botachs, who portend disasters, are also here. Coral dryads and other water-borne critters are provided. Plants also deserve special mentioning: For example, there are spores from space which blight and transform organic material, generating twisted lifeforms. What about oozes grown in bear-form (jellybears?), or a take on the CR 15 leucrotta, or the roog, which are fey that have adapted to urban life, distilling poison from their surroundings? The eye-plucking Vaar’s ravens are magical beasts, but also sport this flavor, and we do get a wendigo template as well as a take on Old Man Winter. Did I mention the racing snails, including brief rules on handling races?

Do you prefer the macabre? Well, the yaramayahu has a grossly-enlarged head and can swallow foes and regurgitate those slain as spawn, their bite shrinking targets. This monster would be ridiculous, but the artwork actually made it in equal parts disturbing and surreal. The crypt mother is a genuinely disturbing undead, twisting the themes of motherhood, with the children of the dead complementing this in a twisted manner. What about swarms of eyeballs? Based on porphyran lore would be undead nature spirits and deist spirits. The typhoid mary creating plague doctor undead also offers a twisted angle – and if my fey examples above were too much on the cute/myth-side – there are truly twisted fey here as well, for example the organ thief…and yes, nomen est omen.

Of course, if epic tales are more to your liking than the horrific, this book delivers as well: There are the mighty techtonic terrors (pun intended), a construct doomsday machine capable of causing earthquakes, searing those nearby and firing jets of magma. There are the starfallen inquisitors, heralds of strange worlds beyond;  there are steam-powered turtles, and the mighty CR 22 Colossus of Dhu (CR 22) recontextualizes the Rhodos notion for an oasis in an epic manner. The artwork of the lion-headed golden titan certainly set my mind ablaze. Or perhaps you liked the notion of horde demons, of standing against a Berserk-like flood of deadly demons? Good enws: We get a whole category with the Bosch demons, so named after ole’ Hieronymus, with several menus of abilities. I mentioned the zicree before: Think of these as psionic octopi with multiple eyes and strange exposed brains – and did I mention their guided evolution and potent creations? 8 zicree are provided, with surprisingly different tricks – these breathe a nigh-perfect pulp-angle, and it’s been quite some time since a creature-species immediately made me want to write a whole series of adventures for them.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are super-impressive on a formal and rules-language level; this ook is impressive regarding its precision as a whole, particularly considering that it’s essentially an indie production, even though you wouldn’t notice! Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights, and each monster gets a proper full-color artwork. An original one, mind you! (!!) The blending of styles is rather nice – horrifying monsters look horrifying; goofier monsters goofier – the assignment of artists to monsters was handled very clever. Moreover, the styles don’t differ too much, providing a rather consistent aesthetic identity. The book also includes a couple of full-page artworks. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked with EXCESSIVE bookmarks – links are included for each critter. Kudos!! I can’t yet comment on the print version yet, as it hasn’t been released as per the writing of this review, but I’ll be sure to get it.

Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, with additional material by Derek Blakely, manage to deliver something genuinely impressive: Not only are big bestiaries hard to make, delivering the third (!!) such massive book, the purple ducks managed to actually provide creatures here that I haven’t seen before: There are plenty of unique abilities, and I’d be hard-pressed to mention a creature I didn’t enjoy. Oh, and the authors achieved that without being redundant, adding unique twists to classic concepts in the few instances where the like was quoted. Moreover, the supplement manages to be incredibly well-rounded, filling niches in monster-coverage even when already using PF1’s 6 Paizo-bestiaries and the first two Monsters of Porphyra. The thematic gamut runs from science-fantasy to pulp to horror to the mythological, to monsters drawing from D&D’s tradition of weird fantastic ecologies. Like dragons? This delivers. Enjoying dinosaurs? The book has material for you. Enjoy pulp? Monsters for you are right here. Do you need some horror-critters? The book has you covered.

This is even more impressive when you consider that this book didn’t have a huge team of people working on it – apart from the ton of talented artists (Bob Greyvenstein, Brett Neufeld, Brian Brinlee, Carlos Torreblanca, Gary Dupuis, Gennifer Bone, Jacob Blackman, Jayaraj Paul, Justine Stilborn, Kristen Collins, Matt Morrow, Michael Syrigos, Rick Her­shey, Ryan Rhodes, Tamas Baranya, Theresa Guido), only three people managed to make this gem of a book. For context: This actually is my favorite Monsters of Porphyra-tome so far – the genesis regarding the transition from PF1 to Porphyra RPG did not hurt this gem. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval, and this gets a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2020.

If you’re looking for a great bestiary for PF1 or Porphyra RPG, get this! Oh, and as an aside – by using Monsters of Porphyra I – III as the creatures in your new campaign, you can really change up the tone of your game in a cool manner. Try it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Porphyra 3
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Elemental-Kin of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/01/2020 10:53:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.

In case you weren’t aware of it: Porphyra RPG is pretty much compatible with PFRPG’s 1st edition; the game behaves akin to how PFRPG modernized 3.5 back in the day, and presents a continuation of the tradition, in contrast to PF2 being a whole different beast. As such, the content herein can be adapted to PF1 with minimal fuss.

We begin with the tale of the fall of the Ruby City of the Mountains, Chelmor, at the hands of the elemental-kin armies, and then proceed to learn about their turbulent history on the patchwork planet; how the war between Elementalists and Deists waged, how they suffered, and how they ultimately segregated from the teachings of the Zendik order.

Each individual write-up features a brief overview of the race, the racial characteristics (including alternate ones), and supplemental feats. All are, obviously, native outsiders. Ifrit get +2 Dexterity and Charisma, -2 Wisdom, are Medium with a base speed of 30, and get darkvision (which has no range in Porphyra RPG and includes low-light vision), resist fire 5 , and if you have a spell list, you get spells with the fire descriptor added and cast them at +1 CL. When they take fire damage, the ifrit get fast healing 2, though there is a scaling fixed daily cap on how much they can heal per day. They also get a +1 racial bonus to attack-rolls versus non-elemental outsiders, and choose elf, orc, or human, getting a +4 dodge bonus against the subtype. The race also gets dancing lights 1/day as a SP. Alternate racial traits include replacing the fast healing for a +2 racial bonus to Stealth; the fire spell affinity and SP may be replaced with 1/day enlarge person as a SP; fire magic affinity may also be traded in for +1 fire damage with unarmed attacks and making them count as armed; the fire resistance may be traded in for +2 to initiative. The attack and dodge bonuses can be traded in for Diplomacy as class skill, bonus and boons that let you retry. There is a nice consistency here, in that the aforementioned bonuses represent war memories and hatred, which doesn’t fit with Diplomacy; in short, there is consistency of tone and mechanics here.

The race also gets two feats: Blazing Personality lets you demoralize as a swift action; Scorchblade lets you sue a swift action to wreathe a weapon in fire, increasing its damage by +2 fire damage for 1 round. Now, in case you didn’t know: Porphyra RPG feats scale: Blazing Personality, at 5 HD, lets you demoralize via Diplomacy, sans the targets taking it personally. Scorchblade increases its fire damage at higher levels.

The Khashabi, also known as woodfolk, get +2 Strength and Dexterity, but only have a 20 ft. speed, which is not modified by encumbrance or armor. They also get darkvision, a natural armor bonus of +1, resist radiance 5, the same bonus to attack as the ifrit versus non-elemental outsiders, and the same dodge bonus. Why? These are the traits shared by the elemental kin due to their experiences in the wars. Khashabi get +4 to Stealth (bonus type missing, should be racial) in overgrown areas and forests, and a +4 racial bonus to resist combat maneuvers hat move them while they’re on the ground. They also get enlarge person as a 1/day SP. The armor and dwarf-like movement can be replaced with 30 ft. speed; alternatively, the armor can be traded in with proficiency in unarmed strikes and a threat range of 19-20 with them. The race adds all radiant spells to their list, if present, and 1/day in full sunlight, can heal 1d8 + Charisma modifier damage. Nitpick: This should state that it can heal their own damage; as written, the wording is ambiguous and could be taken to instead apply to anyone. It’s pretty clear that the ability’s supposed to only apply to the khashabi, though. This one btw. replaces the war abilities. The plant-stealth and difficult to topple abilities can be traded in for a + racial bonus to attacks with axes. The racial feats include scaling damage bonuses with weapons made of wood and additional sun-healing uses.

The oreads of Porphyra get +2 Strength and Wisdom, -2 Charisma, and get the usual native outsider, darkvision and war memory abilities as above; their elemental resistance applies to acid, and they get an analogue ability to the ifrit regarding healing when taking acid damage, with the same cap thankfully in place. Their SP is stone fist 1/day, and, bingo, they add all earth descriptor spells to their spell-list, if present. These magic tricks can be replaced with 1/day entangle and access to all plant descriptor spells instead. Stone magic may also be replaced in favor of an increased Ac versus ray attacks, and 1/day Deflect Arrow style ray deflection. Cool! The SP may be traded in with the ability to sacrifice a gem to increase the CL or damage output of earth spells. The attack bonus versus non-elemental outsiders can be exchanged for two class skills, representing sapper-experience, and elemental resistance can be exchanged for an untyped +2 to combat maneuvers made to bull rush or overrun. If you have the gem magic tricks and want to see more, consider using the Crystallomancer feat. (As an aside: These oread abilities reminded me of Underworld Races & Classes, particularly the colliatur and the svirfneblin’s gem magic, so if you enjoy these concepts, blending them would be a neat idea…) The second racial feat makes stone weapon wielding a reliable operation, and provides a damage bonus with them.

Sylphs receive the war traits, air magic affinity, alter winds as a SP, resist electricity 5 and +2 Dexterity and Intelligence, -2 Constitution. They also get the self-healing when hit, this time applying to electricity damage. Cool: One of the war-traits can be replaced for a bonus to Knowledge (engineering) and a 1-time-round trip for free to any place in Poprphyra, courtesy of your Fourlander Flight guild connections. The healing and air magic can be replaced with an AC boost courtesy of the winds surrounding you, and you can exhaust this passive ability with a 1/day ranged combat maneuver to bull rush or trip a target. Neat! The resistance can also be exchanged for a bonus to saves versus diseases, poisons and related conditions (which is quite valuable, considering that poisons are better in Porphyra); the second war-related trait and SP can also be exchanged for running Stealth and reduced penalty while moving. Finally, the anti-outsider bonus can be replaced with increased summon-duration for air creatures. The racial feats include scaling negative energy melee damage in shadows and darker, while the second one nets you scaling power and uses of feather fall and shocking grasp as SPs.

The undine of Porphyra get +2 Dexterity and Wisdom, -2 Strength, swim speed 30 ft. hydraulic push as the 1/day SP, and their resistance applies to cold, the magic affinity obviously to water spells. One of the war traits may be exchanged for +2 to CL, and SPs and water magic affinity may be exchanged for a cold cone breath attack. If you choose the latter, you can get a feat that also lets you wreathe your weapon in scaling cold damage, analogue to the ifrit feat. The war traits and water magic may be replaced with blindsense 30 ft. in water; the SP can be traded in for poison use, and one of the war traits and resistance for a bonus to saves versus mind and poison effects and poison. the latter bonus is not typed. The other racial feat requires taking the CL-boosting trait, and nets you an additional 1st-level spell slot for water spells, as well as the ability to ignore level increases of metamagic 1/day for a water spell. The ability can be used more often at higher HD.

Finally, there are the Vithr, also known as Ironmen – much like the Khashabi, they get a rather cool full-color artwork; rules-wise, they have +2 Strength and Charisma, -2 Intelligence, and their elemental resistance applies to sonic damage. Beyond the shared war traits and elemental spell affinity, we have ironskin as a 1/day SP. Minor nitpick: The elemental affinity has a cut-copy-paste glitch, referring to water instead of metal as the relevant descriptor. Unfortunately, they are missing the entry for their base speed, which is somewhat egregious, since the first alternate characteristic lets you exchange elemental resistance in favor of +10 ft. movement when charging, running, or withdrawing. The magic-related characteristics may be replaced with +1 to CMD (should be typed), the SP for a +1 natural armor, and one of the war characteristics with an untyped bonus to saves versus fear (should be typed). On the plus side: 1/day forming a metal piece into an object weighing 10 pounds or less? Awesome. One of the racial feats represents an alternate ability score adjustment array as well as axe proficiency, Dwarven language, and scaling a mage bonus with axes. The second feat lets you negate critical hits by sacrificing armor or shield, which become broken. I like this conceptually, but it should have some sort of caveat, since it’s reliable, and nothing keeps me from stocking up on a ton of bucklers…

4 global feats are also included: These range from a potentially Con-damage causing dance-challenge (NICE!) to Elemental Sight, scaling sues of plane shift to the associated plane, and the rather potent Zendik Commando, which can net you two of 5 bonuses when adjacent to an ally or flanking with them. The verbiage, unfortunately, is super-vague her. Are these chosen once? Each time anew? Is a “+1 teamwork bonus to attacks of opportunity” a bonus to the amount of times per round, or to the attack roll? I like this feat, as it looks like it’s a teamwork feat worth taking, but it needs to eb more precise.

The pdf also provides 6 archetypes: The Bolt-thrower is a sylph archetype for the arcane archer (which is my least favorite Porphyra class); this one lets you fire limited amounts of arrows that count as magical at higher levels and also cause bonus electricity damage; starting at 9th level, you can create arrows ex nihilo, the latter of which replaces all of archer’s luck, instead of having a scaling boost at 14th and 19th level, respectively. The Brotherhood of rust for the vithr is locked into the elemental assassin secret, and instead of poison use, gets the ability to lace their weapons with radiant damage. Interesting: the second secret nets you a cloak, which makes you count as in a situation marked by the element, but takes up the shoulders slot. The ifrit forgeknight eldritch knight gets a special breastplate bonded object in which they can sleep, crafting, and later may make the armor glow. The Khashabi get nature’s wrath as a champion cause, which enhances your survivability in a natural environment, as well as later providing a companion steed, telepathic bond, growing, etc. The oread pillar of stone for the stalwart defender, which is a minor engine tweak with a cool endgame, that lets you self-petrify into a nigh-invincible stone form. The undine seeker of Arlia is essentially a water-themed magic bloodhound for the slayer class.

7 magic items are presented: Elixirs of infiltration make native outsiders pass as human; forgelings are cylinders that seem to fuse with the hand, becoming harder to disarm; they can change variant weapon types as an immediate action: The Warhammer form, for example, bypasses a specific material DR, etc. Iron rings flat out negate the first 4 critical hits or sneak attacks per day, but make the wearer susceptible to rusting attacks; at just 12 K price, this is VERY strong. Khanjar of resistance let an elemental-kin apply their resistance as damage on critical hits. The mask of radiance can be charged up to fire light beams – oddly at a fixed attack bonus, and sans specifying the type of action that firing the beams takes. Oppressors of the elemental-kin are shaped like related items and can cast 0-level spells, but can also enslave the related elemental-kin. Totems of the elemental kin net an ability score boost and a CMD boost versus being demoralized.

The pdf concludes with 7 new spells: Absorb weapon is an exotic spell that heals you when struck, as you absorb weaponry used to attack you if the wielder fails a Reflex save. Ironskin nets a scaling bonus to your pre-existing natural AC, and may be dismissed to negate critical hits or sneak attacks. This is pretty strong for level 2 – at the very least, this spell should imho be exotic. Awful radiance dazzles those nearby and imposes more penalties on the light sensitive. Radiant armor is a defense spell that causes minor radiant damage to foes attacking you in melee; Radiant beam and focused radiance both deal radiant damage in a pretty straightforward manner; flame of Aurex is a mythos radiant battle spell. Radiant damage, by the way, cannot be healed by positive energy, or by fast healing and regeneration – only naturally, making it a VERY valuable resource.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting oscillates from proper precision to a few instances where the author falters and falls back into old habits; as a whole, I consider this to be a well-crafted supplement, though unfortunately, some of the glitches do hamper the rules-integrity of the presented material. Layout adheres to the series printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights, and the supplement comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks presented are full-color and really nice.

Perry Fehr’s take on Elemental-kin starts off very strong: The respective races have been tweaked to work well in the context of Porphyra RPG’s assumed power-level, are well-executed and share enough similarities to be considered to be related, also historically, but also have quite a few components that set them apart. Much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying some of the alternate racial traits most here. The system’s scaling feats are a good call, and remain so, but what’s done herein with them is often less interesting than what I’ve seen, often favoring a simple escalation of numbers, which is valid, but e.g. minor fire damage boosts won’t justify spending a valuable swift action at higher levels. The scaling here needed some nuance. The archetypes are probably the weakest part of this book – they have cool concepts, but their execution is very basic, making them all minor modifications. They left me with a sense of unrealized potential, and feel slightly rushed – e.g. the arcane archer archetype lists a higher level ability before a lower level one; that sort of thing. Why am I talking about “unrealized potential” instead of whacking this more? Because conceptually, there are really cool nuggets here, and they’re realized. I was also surprised to see some of the cool ideas for the elemental-kin as a whole – Perry Fehr is great when it comes to cultures and the like, and I wished he spent more time on them here.

As a whole, I consider this to be a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side of things; personally, I wasn’t too blown away by the archetypes, but some might well enjoy them. Still, as a whole, when compared to what the author has done before, and what other authors have done with Porphyra RPG, this feels less impressive to me. If you’re looking for a selection of strong and interesting elemental kin-races, this’ll do, and you should round up, but as a whole, I think this is closer to 3 than 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Elemental-Kin of Porphyra
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Purple Mountain VIII: Bastion of Entropy
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/09/2019 14:04:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Purple Mountain mega-dungeon clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This was moved up in my reviewing queue…because I wanted to. You see, Purple Mountain started of solid enough, but with the third installment? It really amped up the awesomeness. Not a single level since then has disappointed me. The dungeon also is much friendlier to non-mega-dungeon campaigns than comparable supplements – due to the high-concept nature of the installments, it’s rather easy to pick this dungeon apart, and just insert the levels you’re intrigued by. Indeed, the series seems to have picked up on this – while nominally, you can run this as part of the mega-dungeon, you could just as well drop the bastion on the surface in your game. The module offers guidance for use in conjunction with the mega-dungeon, as well as for stand-alone use.

Now, as you can see above, this is the first installment of the series that is penned for Porphyra RPG, but since the system is designed to offer the GM the option to run PFRPG materials with minimal hassle, it works just as well for PFRPG 1st edition. As an aside: The themes of this module fit perfectly within e.g. the context of Planescape, the City of 7 Seraphs or similar settings – I’ll elaborate why below!

The module also does not require that you flip books or the like – while the adventure makes extensive use of the criminally-underrated Monsters of Porphyra-bestiaries, all stats are provided: Between monsters and NPCs, this amounts to more than 25 stats! The module also comes with 5 new magic items, a new drug, two new poisons, and a new spell – so let’s start with discussing these, shall? We can find a horn here, which may be used to call yaksha – and add specific yaksha to the wielder’s summon monster/nature’s ally lists! Awesome! (As an aside: Kudos for italicizing spell-references here!) This design paradigm is also represented by the cube of seven sides, which causes lesser confusion to onlookers – but also can be used to answer three questions per week…with a 1 in 6 (or 1 in 7, if you have a d7!)-chance of the answer being false. It is not mechanically interesting as an item, but its execution, how it works and how it’s described? Makes it work for me. It feels MAGICAL. The shackles of compliance are missing the bolding for Aura, slots, etc., but are a nice manacle item – they make the wearer more susceptible to being cowed by intimidation, and the wearer may be commanded thrice per day, with a pretty brutal DC. There is an amulet that provides protection from outsiders (protean) and helps versus chaos blasts and e.g. the instability curse of chaos beasts. The item reads “has the added bonus of reducing 46 the number of times one must make a saving throw against a chaos beast’s corporeal instability curse.” Okay, how? By how much?

Thankfully, this remains the only such instance of an item being problematic. The pdf also offers magical tokens that can be used as a currency for planar ally favors – which makes so much sense to me! The book also offers, as noted, a new drug – and it’s one that is worth including, for its benefits and drawbacks are well-weighed. The poisons include a simple one and a complex one – the complex one being bloodwine, which actually is a potent buff for e.g. vampires – nice! The new spell is an exotic one, chakra stimulation, which nets a +2 enhancement bonus to Charisma, but at the cost of 1 Intelligence damage. Sounds boring? Well, it only has a somatic gesture and may be cast as a swift action! I was pleasantly surprised by this section – I am usually pretty opposed to spell-in-a-can items, but this module does execute them in a way that adds twists and interesting aspects to them, elevating them from the default snorefest quality they usually have, and making them feel special.

The module can be considered to be an old-school adventure in the good way – it is a dangerous adventures that demands player attention, and offers more than combat – and in the grand tradition of these modules, there is a solid chance that careless players may end up in a pretty massive free for all battle. We get read-aloud text that e.g. takes listening at doors and the like into account.

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

… .. .

Do you remember the old Planescape adventure from the “Well of the Worlds”-anthology, where the PCs deal with an illicit love-affair between a demon and devil? If so, you’ll probably share my sentiment that this was a cool idea that wasn’t executed too well. Well, guess what, this adventure is all about love in the outer planes – and in a way, it’s more scandalous! First of all, the massive introductory text/briefing of the group is HILARIOUSLY weird: We have two very regal and strange beings: One a fly-headed aristocrat, the other a lady…wait, a man…wait…yep, the second individual CONSTANTLY changes their appearance, gender, species, ethnicity…rather funny indeed. Both are agents for important outsider lords, know each other, and their banter suffusing the introduction put a wide smile on my face. As did the premise.

You see, an incubus and a bralani eloped – only to happen upon a yaksha (the pdf does have a one-page illustration of one type of yaksah, suitable as handout, and woven into the briefing), with this extra-planar ménage-à-trois eloping to the eponymous Bastion of Entropy – and the two outsiders? They decide that the PCs might be just the people to liberate the outsiders and return them to their partners. The emissaries open a gate for the PCs to pass through – and bam, adventure!

Note how I mentioned that the adventure has a lot going on? What about the very first hazard, a coruscating gate, which can be defused by proper Perform checks – provided the PCs realize what the gate is – the check must be attempted at a specific time. Just saying that you roll won’t suffice! That’s good news, as far as I’m concerned. This design paradigm also btw. extends to how secret doors are handled. As for the yaksha here, we have sample yaksha names and treasures, allowing the GM to create a plausible illusion of custom creatures. The old-school mentality is also on expert display with puzzle-portals: There is, for example, one that requires a bit of experimentation, and while it is dangerous, it is not debilitating: Smart parties will be able to deduce how it can be stabilized pretty smoothly, and yes, it may also be brute-forced, though I consider this to be the less interesting option. The PCs can recruit an arbiter inevitable, and in a really cool angle, by helping it, the party will gain an in-game version of the player map! I LOVE this! More modules should account for parties doing their proper legwork! Ogdoad (Porphyra’s kind-of-Slaadi) are encountered – and there is one pretty badass scene, where a super-potent yaksha bmanifests and fights for 3 rounds, before retreating to maintain cosmic balance – still, 3 rounds? The PCs will have to survive that long… (Round to round tactical breakdown provided, fyi)

The PCs will also find a pentagram, with a ghostly hand extended from it, and 5 figures on the ring encircling it – this is represented, once more, as a one-page full-color artwork. It’s awesome. Know rock-paper-scissors? Well, the PCs get to play that against the hand, only cooler: Each of the entities (angel, wizard, demon, ghost, tree) all have their own signs. And yes, demon is obviously the metal-head’s greeting – forefinger and pinkie up; 2nd and 3rd down, held by thumb. If you are bested, though, you will pay the price – a unique effect is provided for each of the signs. I LOVE this mini-game. It is awesome and something we get to see all too rarely in adventures for complex games. Big kudos! The entropy-angle can btw. also result in PCs getting limited-use rod of wonder effects. Smart players might also wish to save the prisoners here – that will result in some chaos and soften the potent yaksha forces here…

And ultimately, the party will have to venture into a demiplane inside the fortress, maintained by an artifact, the cyst of life. Smart players track it down and quickly destroy it, instead of facing the very powerful and deadly yakshini yaksha – if they do, they’ll witness her being dragged to the decadent place of opulence of her master – with her paramours left sobbing behind. How the party treats these…well, that’ll be left up to them. Either way, they have curried favor with azata and demons alike – but made a powerful foe of the mighty yaksha!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level; I noticed a few typos and the like, but nothing that hampers gameplay. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 2-column standard, with purple highlights. The pdf is easy to print, and the supplement features several neat full-color artworks, including two that act as essentially handouts. The module comes with full-color maps, and as noted, before, the player-friendly version can be attained in-game – awesome! Even better: The GM gets to decide whether the secret rooms are on the player map – or not – no deceptive “S”-indicators, no annoying numbers on it. I love that.

Perry Fehr’s crunch-design may not always be perfect, but his cultures and adventures? They are almost always pure AWESOME. The Bastion of Entropy plays actually better than it looks, and in many ways, its design-philosophy is more progressive and excellent than most ainstream offerings: It offers the tactical challenge we expect from games like Poprhyra RPG and Pathfinder, but also requires actual thinking. It BRIMS with creativity and is easily one of the coolest adventures I’ve seen this year. It does quote a Planescape classic without being a rehash, instead electing to go a different route. It is outrageous, at times funny, and does pretty much everything right: The complex is not linear, there are things to do beyond killing everything; smart players are rewarded, traps are not dumb “I walk across an invisible line and take damage/save or suck”, instead focusing on means for players to bypass them or handle them, combat is challenging… Regarding traps – there are invisible summon traps – but at this level, the party should have the means to detect them sans running into them, and the combat ensuing is part of the challenge, so there is no penalty.

In short, this adventure is meticulously-well DESIGNED. The fact that its themes make it perfect for e.g. the City of 7 Seraphs or Planescape adds a further plus to the impressive list it managed to accrue. Oh, and guess what? In all my years with PF1, I haven’t seen a module like it. This may well be the best adventure Perry Fehr has penned so far. If this is the level of quality we can expect from modules for Porphyra RPG, then we’re in for one awesome ride. 5 stars + seal of approval, and, because this hits so many of my own preferences so perfectly, this also gets a nomination for my Top Ten of 2019, in spite of a few typos. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a creative, challenging planar yarn!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain VIII: Bastion of Entropy
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Stock Art: Dragonblood
by Graham L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/04/2019 20:15:58

Wonderful! Would love to see more like this. Great value too.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Dragonblood
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Frogfolk of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2019 12:30:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, with the pdf laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), leaving us with 54 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This book was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.

In case you were wondering: Porphyra RPG is essentially a continuation of Pathfinder 1, fully backwards compatible in the same way as Pathfinder behaved to 3.5, but with several cool features such as scaling feats and the like. Now, it should be noted that this pdf was written before the rules for Porphyra RPG were finalized, a fact that makes this closer to Pathfinder in several ways, so this is something to bear in mind.

All right, so, frogfolk! Who doesn’t love them? I sure as heck love me some gripplis, and indeed, these frogfolk are one of the three races contained herein, with the other two being the boggards and the doathi. We start with the boggards, and indeed, the book begins with a really well-written introduction by Perry Fehr, one that does a rather excellent job of setting the stage for culture and leitmotifs of the boggards, who are said to have ventured to the patchwork planet of Porphyra at the behest of the Great Old Ones, and boggards are resembling humanoid monstrous toads (as opposed to the gripplis being frog-like); the boggards as depicted here are an extremely primal society native to swamplands, and they still feel the sting of the Elemental Lords losing the NewGod war, reserving particular enmity for the Chiuta. The details provided, which include sample names, provide a compelling picture.

Mechanics-wise, boggards get +2 Strength and Constitution, -2 Intelligence, which makes them somewhat lopsided regarding their preferred classes. They are Medium humanoids with the boggard subtype, speed 20 ft., swim speed 30 ft., and get darkvision and low-light vision. This is one of the changes, were the pdf is closer to PF1 than Porphyra RPG, as in Porphyra RPG darkvision has no range, and includes low-light vision. Boggards have hold breath, and get a 10-feet tongue secondary attack; interesting here: This tongue locks you and the target down, but does not interact with the drag/pull rules, instead locking you and the target in place in relation to each other, making the tongue a pretty potent tool; however, since it’s easy to break loose, there is no reliable way to cheese this. Still, theoretically, this would allow a tribe of boggards to use their tongues to limit the movements of targets that they shouldn’t be able to restrict – this does not paralyze them, or anything, but it does allow boggard groups to lock down targets action economy-wise. While this does seem a bit odd to me, it may well be intentional. Still, a certain sense of disjunction did not leave me here. Boggards get marsh strike, and the mind-affecting sonic, Charisma-governed terrifying croak ability, usable 1/hour as a standard action. A target can end up being briefly shaken, and the ability has a caveat that prevents spamming it, but lists no range – I assume as far as can be heard, but yeah, pretty sure there should be a range.

Alternative racial traits include a bite attack (that does not properly specify damage type – Porphyra’s convention is bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage for that), some water-themed SPs…and a really cool one, that allows them to communicate across surprising distances – this one in particular, the toadsong, has some seriously cool repercussions regarding how you can depict them, and sets them apart. Really like it! There also is a replacement for the tongue that lets you make 10 foot 5-foot-steps on a successful Acrobatics check – the DC here is a very low flat DC, when it would have made more sense to at least somewhat tie this to the threatening creatures. Then again, Porphyra RPG has gotten rid of much of the bonus stacking tricks, so yeah. The pdf includes 4 nice, properly-coded race traits and 3 racial feats that scale with levels: Exploding Warts punishes critical hits against you with acid damage; Marshmaster nets you a +2 bonus to AC, initiative, Perception in marshes (later +4), and Toad-Boss Bully provides minor debuffs to creatures you demoralize or hit with melee attacks but only one target may be affected at a given time. I assume that affecting a new target ends the previous effect, but this is not explicitly stated.

Doathia are essentially batrachians deep ones, who look like humans, but suffer a -2 penalty to Charisma upon reaching middle age. They get either gills, +1 natural armor, +2 to Perception, or “resist sonic 5” (should be resistance); the bonus types are not codified properly either, and formatting differs from how Porphyra RPG usually does that. Odd: This is not included in the racial traits. Doathi get +2 to any “characteristic” (should be ability score), -2 to Charisma, are Medium aberrations, have darkvision (again, not the Porphyra version) and resistance acid and sonic 5, once more erroneously referred to as “resist.” They have an unnatural aura and a properly codified +4 racial bonus to Athletics made to swim, and may take 10 while swimming. 4 alternate racial traits are included, and I have no complaints there – they are well-balanced and precisely-presented, including easier item activation due to a history of forbidden lore, SPs, etc.. and the pdf also sports some cool traits: My favorite states: “You are fascinated with the Great Old Ones, but their cults are too gauche for your membership.” This nets you mythos spells added t spell list, and made me genuinely chuckle. Hidden Twin is a great racial feat, it lets you summon an invisible monster that later is greater invisible. Ogdoad Legacy nets you limited fast healing and later no breath and acid immunity. Like these!

The grippli,a s depicted herein, get +2 Dexterity and Wisdom, -2 Strength, are Small, have the boggard subtype, darkvision (same issue as before), 30 ft. speed on land and in water, 20 ft. climb speed, +8 racial bonus to Athletics checks made to climb and swim, +4 racial bonus to Stealth in marshes and forested areas. They can also fall in a more controlled manner if not overly encumbered; they always have a running start for jumping purposes, marsh stride, a Con-governed toxic skin (Track: Sluggish-Stiffened, Staggered), kept in check by limited uses, and weapon familiarity with nets. Overall, a pretty powerful race regarding the utility. In the alternate racial characteristics, something has gone wrong – there is one, bughunter, which nets you a +1 trait bonus to hit and damage vermin. That should be a trait, and its cost should not be the vastly superior jumper and toxic skin. Pretty sure that this should be a trait, and have no cost. Grippli also get the cool communication-angle, and toxic skin may be replaced with a skin that is permeable, allowing for bladders storing potions to be smashed and consumed more quickly. This one is really cool. The 4 traits that are presented here, are once more all mechanically-tight and properly codified. There are three racial feats: Poison Spit lets you spit the toxin, but since it’s just 1/day, that may not be the smartest move. Frog Style is a cool (Style) feat that lets you bounce around when critting, with two cool follow-up tricks that allows you to potentially throw and follow foes. Split-Second Leap lets you 1/combat avoid a ranged attack with a Reflex save – I generally like this, but it should not have a nonsensical “per combat” use, and instead specify a fixed duration.

The pdf also presents new racial spells (Porphyra differentiates more between spell-lists, which is one fantastic change). For the purpose of readability of this review, I will put spell names in italics, even though Porphyra RPG’s convention is to not do so. 3 variants of call bugs (pretty self-explanatory what that does) are included; Curse of the Ogdoad is a nasty, permanent curse that afflicts the target with essentially disadvantage on d20-rolls. Key and Jewel points the caster towards the nearest magic item (excluding those in the caster’s possession and those of their allies), which is a great time-saver at the table. Plague of Warts is interesting, in that it is a debuff – but for boggards and aberrations, it acts as a buff. Toe of Frog is a nice little grippli-curse, and Wall of Muck allows for low-level terrain control.

We also are introduced to an array of new magical items, which includes the Batrachonomicon artifact – and yes, it’s a risky tome. The Boggy Bodhran is a buffing hand-drum, and really creepy: Elixirs if Devolution can make anthropomorphic humanoids revert to being animals, with hybrids such as doathi having a 50% chance to become giant frogs or orangutans…A jade frog wondrous figurine can warn you of traps (or move/transform into a frog), and there is a mask that enhances mythos spells. Cursed totems of the Great Old Ones, makes that can plague of warts targets, and there is a web-woven grippli-armor as well. Generally a neat selection! Mundane items, such as snares that may be carried around (damage type not properly codified), a grippli fruit drink (called, of course, “Buu’uurp”), and firefly essence (which is essentially an anti-concealment bomb)…also cool: The custom to make Ghoul Portraits. When someone dies, the family commissions a super-ugly/repulsive portrait – the deceased person does return to hideous unlife, the portrait has a good chance of scaring them away! I LOVE this! Heck, I’d love it, if folks would do that once I’m dead and gone. We also get a siege weapon, a macabre, simple tongue-themed ballista, a drug that can induce astral projection…some gems here that I look forward to using!

The supplement also presents three new archetypes(class options, one for each race: The bloated champion is for the boggards, and is a new cause, which nets Deception and Intimidate as class skills, 1/day enlarge person (self only), and has a theme of becoming more massive; the former ability lacks the proper descriptor as (Sp), which is also missing from the capstone that lets you call a potent ally. Other than those niggles (and no proper bonus types), a cool cause. Grippli arcane archers can choose to become zappers, which are essentially anti-vermin exterminator specialists that can act unimpeded underwater, among other things. The ability to do see duplicates freedom of movement, but is extraordinary, and as such, should specify an activation action. The third option would be the Sothite doathi wizard, who is a disciple of Yog-Sothoth – they lose some weapon proficiencies, but get free action low-range demoralize attempts with limited daily uses, uttering words of Yog – cool. The archetype also gets some esoteric, exotic spells and is a bonded object that may be enchanted as a weapon.

The appendix of the pdf is massive and contains some monster update rules re types and things like Improved Drag, Quicken Spell-Like Ability, a couple of spells and universal monster rules. From giant ants, flies (statblock misses bolding and dragonflies to the leather-winged toads called Mobogo and the dreaded Ogdoad (4 types of these batrachians sires of the doathi), this section offers some fun builds.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting oscillate on a rules-language and formal level between admirable precision and missing some obvious components. Layout adheres to the series’ 1-column standard with purple highlights, and the pdf is all about the content, with no interior artwork. The pdf comes with extensive nested bookmarks that render navigation simple and comfortable.

Perry Fehr (and Mark Gedak) deliver a pdf here that sports a few hiccups stemming from Porphyra RPG by then not being finalized. That being said, the supplement does take advantage of several great rules – from the scaling feats to spell-balancing via categories (such as powerful curses being balanced by being exclusives), the pdf highlights several plusses of the game. Perry Fehr is a great author, and actually manages to make the respective races come to life, feel distinct, so that’s a huge plus for me; at the same time, his rules oscillate between inspired and unconventional to less than impressive. Minor bonus-granting feats? Lame. Similarly, the rules are rather often precise and to the point; at other instances, as noted above, they lack bonus types of sports a few oddities – in short, this is pretty much a definition of a mixed bag; while personally, I consider this to be on the positive side of things, I’d usually round down due to the hiccups. If you are particular about the details, you may wish to round down. HOWEVER, considering the amount of content we get, and the rather cool critters featured in the extensive appendix, my final verdict will round up from 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Frogfolk of Porphyra
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Porphyra Roleplaying Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2019 04:42:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive game clocks in at 606 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 7 pages of SRD, 8 pages of helpful index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 585 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So before we dive into what this book is, and what it isn’t, let’s recap: Pathfinder Playtest very much defined that Pathfinder Second Edition would feel like a radically different game in many ways; as you have probably noticed, Pathfinder Playtest left me hopeful, but also filled with quite a lot of trepidation, and to say that I was ecstatic would be simply false. I am currently in the process of analyzing Pathfinder’s Second Edition, and I can say two things for sure: 1) It is a better game than Pathfinder Playtest in many regards. 2) It is a very different game from Pathfinder’s first edition.

This stark difference between systems offers chances, but also means that the game focuses on something else in many ways. Enter Porphyra RPG. Purple Duck Games’ Porphyra RPG, in many ways, behaves to Pathfinder’s first edition in a way that Pathfinder’s first edition acted in comparison to D&D 3.X – in presents a conservative refinement of the content of the system we’ve learned and loved for years. Much like Pathfinder’s first edition, it presents a series of changes, but as a whole, you can use the material for Pathfinder’s first edition without any issues in the context of a Porphyra RPG game. Somewhat like you can use e.g. OSRIC-material in a B/X-game. Sure, there will be some minor differences and aesthetics at play here, but where Pathfinder Second Edition opted for a new start, this instead represents a kind of progression for the game. As such, Porphyra RPG begins in a surprisingly smart and concise way – it briefly explains what an RPG is, and then presents rules conventions – it explains the core building blocks of its system, the minimum vocabulary, if you will, on one page – which also highlights several changes of the system. This page both serves as a recap for veterans and a helpful introduction for newbies – I like this, as it, among other things, explicitly explains the difference between caster and character level, for example. Similarly, descriptors are properly defined.

Ability penalties can never reduce a score below one; got that; things become more tight in the instance where the game explains saving throw defaults, spellcasting modifiers, etc. Similarly, halving/rounding up is covered; the game explains how its bonuses stack, and does something different here: Untyped modifiers and modifiers with different names add together – they stack. If you have two modifiers of the same name, only the greater of the two is used. This is particularly important for e.g. dodge bonuses and how builds based on them for defense are used. A second and pretty important difference would be the caster check – this is a d20 + caster level + spellcasting ability modifier. These are used BOTH as spell attack rolls, AND to bypass SR – in short, they have streamlined this process. Much like CMB/CMD, this is an aspect that will have to grow, and it is one where backwards compatibility with PF1 might present some rough spots: Touch AC does not exist anymore per se, which means that a full casters behave like a full BAB class when attacking with spells, making such options, balanced for use with ¾ BAB or ½ BAB-classes, something that requires oversight. So yeah, we have a pretty significant component that has changed here.

After these basics, we are talked through the process of making a character – traits have now been hard-coded into the basic character creation framework, but do remain an optional step. Ability score modifiers, bonus spells per day by spell level, etc. – all listed. Each of the ability scores provides a summary of what the ability score influences and modifies. This, once more, makes “getting” the game pretty easy.

Now Porphyra has a pretty rich lore, and this book touch upon a few choice, relevant pieces of lore before the race section – this information is carefully curated, and once more, smart, as it provides a small baseline and context, without throwing an info-dump on the reader; neither does this lock you into Porphyra per se as a setting. (Though I do genuinely encourage you to take a look at the patchwork planet!) The races presented here would be the Anpur (jackal folk), the dragonblooded (think of mighty human-like beings with magical blood), dwarves, elves, orcs, half-humans (yes, you can be a half-gnome or half-dwarf), erkunae (Cult at this point!), eventual (those with inevitable bloodlines), orcam (orca-folk; purely aesthetic nitpick – their ability scores are listed as the abbreviations, like “+2 Str” instead of “+2 Strength”, like the others) and zendiqi (Porphyr’s xenophobic natives, sworn to the elemental lords). Balance-wise, I was positively surprised by this chapter, as its different races are not only chosen with an eye towards cool creatures, but also sport a great blending of the strange and familiar. The different races also check out regarding their respective power-levels, offering a nice, yet potent baseline.

The section also highlights a series of different changes of the game: Darkvision lets you see in darkness and low-light areas sans penalty – there is no more range. Low-light vision works as before. You can also see ability score abbreviations in brackets behind some abilities – if e.g. a racial ability nets you a spell-like ability, it might state “(Cha)” behind its name – this designates it as being based on Charisma. Not all abilities have such a tag – it shows up when a spellcasting ability modifier is relevant. This is an elegant solution, as far as I’m concerned. There is another pretty important component – with some few exceptions (probably oversights), spell-like abilities and spells in the rules text are no longer printed in italics. I get how this makes formatting easier for a small publisher like Purple Duck Games, but it’s the first choice I am genuinely not a huge fan of, as it renders the parsing of information slightly harder.

The game then proceeds to explain different classes – these are called “Heroic Classes”, and from Hit Dice to skills to tables, all the little bits are explained. Class ability saving throws are also defaulted – 10 +1/2 class level + the respective key ability modifier. The game presents two HUGE improvements, as far as I’m concerned. 1) Iterative attacks suck less. At BAB +6, you get a second attack at +1. At BAB +11, however, you get another attack at full BAB, and one at -5 (+11/+11/+6); at BAB +16, you get a second attack at -5. (+16/+16/+11/+11). This keeps the iterative attacks at high levels relevant. You do not gain iterative attacks if using a mixture of natural and manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes.

The second major factor that changed is tied to magic – first of all, there is no difference between divine and arcane magic. The separation is gone. Spell lists are based on descriptors. These are both permissive and prescriptive – that is, they lists specify the descriptors that you HAVE access to, but also those that you NEVER have access to. If a spell on a list has a descriptor called out, and another not called out, you have the spell; however, if your class specifies that you NEVER have access to a descriptor, you also don’t have access to any spells featuring that descriptor, regardless of how many other descriptors you get the spell might have. Once more, this is imho a pretty elegant solution, and one that lets you use descriptors to make classes feature distinct identities without constantly requiring the reassessment of different spells, expansion of spell lists, etc. Spells also are grouped in three classes – simple spells are widely known; complex spells can’t even be mimicked by nonspellcasters, and exotic spells are often unique, nigh unknown, personal or signature spells – once more allowing for nuanced world/magic-building. IN a way, this takes two smart strategies of Pathfinder Second Edition and Arcana Evolved for a nice combination. In case you were wondering: Concentration is handled by caster checks as well, and the explanation of different spell baselines also includes a clearly presented hierarchy of items affected by spells targeting . I love this.

But back to the heroic classes – we have arcane archer and eldritch knight, as well as stalwart defender and wizard. Rogue, slayer, fighter etc. are provided. Among the classics, we have the fighter gaining a Stamina pool, combat tricks, etc.; rogues get additional sneak attack benefits; the classes have been changed to represent the design-aesthetics of unchained classes, with a variety of valid choices. This also is represented by other classes – like clerics, whose gods now actually (THANKFULLY!) have their ethos and require compliance with them. Deity and faith influence proficiency, domains, etc. Champions also show up – think of these as alignment-less paladins; if you know Arcana Evolved, you’ll get the idea of being a champion of a people, of a person, etc. – I liked this one as well. The rather impressive Assassin of Porphyra class has also been brought to the fold here, differentiated by the rogue getting e.g. skill unlocks. And yes, a stalwart defender is included. A big plus would be the inclusion of starting packages to choose from. This quickens introduction of new characters and helps newer players.

After choosing traits (massive selection provided, with bonus types properly codified), we move on to character advancement – and a quick glance shows us that the XPs required have been shrunk: The advancement speeds and advancement by milestone are provided, but the numbers required have been condensed to be much lower. We’ll see how this works out in the long run.

The skill chapter is another section wherein some streamlining has taken place – Swim and Climb are both now parts of one skill, namely Athletics. Similarly, Bluff and Disguise are now the Deception skill (which makes sense to me!); breaking objects and damaging them is now handled with the Sap skill, and e.g. Scrutiny is a new complement to the Perception skill – it lets you explicitly determine phenomena, interpret haunts, recognize patterns, etc. – it is basically akin to what Investigation does in 5e, save that it is a defined in a tighter manner. Autohypnosis is also a core skill now, and no longer just for psionic characters – it btw. lets you 1/day heal some hit points!

Feats have been similarly streamlined, now featuring a unified save DC formula, if applicable; they also have another aspect – many feats gain new benefits once the character reaches certain BAB or saving throw values, skill ranks, or caster levels. Some also require certain minimum class levels in a given class., or certain minimum class features – Elemental Channel, for example, gets its upgrade at channel energy 5d6. This paradigm of scaling feats keeps e.g. bleeding critical relevant. Blind Fight, for example, now lets you ignore any miss chance from concealment below total concealment once you’ve reached 10 ranks in Perception. This particularly makes styles more accessible – as e.g. there is no more style feat chain – instead, styles unlock the subsequent abilities once the character reaches certain requirements. Endurance now allows for sleeping in heavy armor and provides a bigger bonus if you reach 6 HD; Dodge upgrades to +4 dodge bonus at 3 HD for the purpose of moving through threatened areas – essentially rolling Mobility into the feat. Feats like Iron Will later unlock a 1/day reroll – in short, the chapter takes many classics and fixes some of the traditionally underwhelming options and decreases the feat-tax required for some of the more interesting combat options. As a whole, scaling feats are an excellent idea, and one I wholeheartedly welcome. Feat-chains still exist, but I noticed no more whole series of feats required to excel at one particular thing – Improved XYZ maneuver feats now scale, making their choice still required to excel, but not just an unlock. There are many design-decisions here that I genuinely liked seeing.

The book also contains a massive equipment section, once more explaining basics in a smart manner – critical multipliers and threat ranges, weapon damage by size, weapon categories and special features – you get the idea. There are some crucial differences – you can spend skill points to gain proficiency in ONE type of shield or armor – the heavier the armor, the more skill points. This also holds true for weapons – you can get weapon proficiencies with skill points – simple ones cost 2, exotic ones 6, to give you a framework. The equipment section also includes a metric ton of items, poisons, clothing, etc. From food to mounts to transport, the book covers a wide array of options. Vital statistics and encumbrance, movement tables (including handy overland walk distance covered etc.) is included. The card-based chase rules are also included, and since Sap changes pretty drastically how objects may be broken, this also includes a pretty extensive section.

Tactical combat is explained in an easy to grasp manner, and how actions are used, the whole tactical combat thing – everything explained in a pretty concise and clever manner. There is a massive list of arcane traditions, as well as domains – as noted before deity disapproval is a thing, and this genuinely changes how clerics etc. feel – and I love it. It makes the faithful more rewarding to play AND it makes them feel like, you know, agents of a higher power. And yep, it takes some time to lose your abilities – it’s not just an annoying, discussion-causing instant loss, it requires some time and serious wrongdoings. Spell interaction is also explained in streamlined in simple ways – if two spells operate in the same area, the higher-level spell operates, the lower spell doesn’t – INCLUDING the targets affected. Small explanations and rules-interactions like this add more to the game than I genuinely expected them to. Similarly, descriptors are tightly-defined.

A huge chapter of spells can be found here, and the book also covers rules for spellblights. Crafting gets an overhaul as well – you get Craft Points every level, and may use them to craft and assist. I do not yet have sufficient experience with the system to make a final verdict on this aspect, but it does look promising. Wealth by level, stats for walls and doors, rules for getting lost, a nice array of both creative and classic hazards are included. Suffice to say, we also get rules for storms, weather, winds, cold dangers…and traps.

The trap-making engine deserves special mention: It is an elegant and concise table, with damage, poison levels, spell levels, atk, etc. all defined – the engine is elegant and mighty and allows for quick and painless trap creation for simple traps – for the traps that are basically invisible lines of damage, this engine is super helpful. While it doesn’t allow for the generation of complex traps, it does what PFRPG’s first edition understands as the standard trap exceedingly well. Kudos!

Magic items are defined, and note their DCs to identify them in the header – super helpful! The game provides a massive magic item chapter; this also includes magic item creation, obviously. The book also features rules and abbreviated stats for sample NPCs, and curses, diseases and poisons – all covered. The latter use btw. the unchained-like rules, with progression tracks. It should, however, be noted that there now is a poison damage type as well, coexisting with the track-system – which makes sense to me, and yep, one glance at the Dc lets you know the default poison damage caused. The massive tome ends with summaries of terms, negative energy, SR, etc. – all helpful and easy to parse.

The game comes with a character sheet, and a SUPER-BRIEF errata that currently contains one entry regarding a single capstone.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Considering the vast density of the rules material herein, the book is exceedingly precise in its presentation of the subject matter. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard with purple highlights, and the book features a lot of rather nice full-color artwork. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, making navigation pretty simple.

Mark Gedak’s background in the higher education teaching sector shows rather well in this book – in a way, the Porphyra RPG’s presentation always makes sense in an almost uncanny manner: The book feels, much more than other d20-based books, like it guides you through the process of playing, like the sequence of information presentation simply makes sense. This is a huge deal for a core book like this.

The changes made to Pathfinder 1st edition’s chassis also proved to be, for the most part, absolutely welcome – the streamlining of the magic system, its spell classes and descriptor focus – they make sense and I adore what this offers – it makes spells feel more magical, allows for the creation of casting traditions and the like, for limitations, if desired. Similarly, the changes to clerics are excellent and welcome. The scaling feats also are great and truly welcome – as is the notion of using skills to pay for proficiencies. There is a ton to love about the system. There are a couple of instances, where the game needs more context and time to allow me to properly judge facets – how crafting points pan out, how the whole caster check to attack pans out, etc. – particularly the latter is something that does not instill me with confidence. On a personal note, I really dislike spells and SPs not being in italics anymore – and surprisingly, those remain my most pronounced gripes with this tome.

In a way, Porphyra RPG is a bit like one of the OSR-systems that don’t just seek to replicate a given edition; it feels like a labor of love, like a love-letter to Pathfinder’s first edition, and I really adore this book for it. While there are things I love about Pathfinder’s Second Edition, there also are components that I already can say that just, by virtue of different systems, will behave in different ways and appeal to me in completely different ways.

The best explanation, perhaps, would be as follows: I really like old-school games. I also love games like D&D 5e,Starfinder, etc. I wouldn’t derive the same sort of enjoyment from these; I’d use them to tell different stories. This very notion, to me, seems to hold true for Pathfinder 1st edition and its 2nd edition – the systems feel as different to me as e.g. AD&D and 3.X did.

And this is where Porphyra RPG comes in – it takes the heritage of Pathfinder 1st edition and adds a whole array of improvements and changes to the game, much like how Pathfinder 1st edition did for 3.5 – only to an imho more efficient degree. Pathfinder’s first edition, to me, only grew a proper identity with the release of the APG. Same goes for e.g. how 13th Age only came into itself with 13 True Ways. Porphyra RPG, on the other hand already feels like a very distinct streamlined take of PFRPG’s 1st edition, one with a distinct identity.

In many ways, I consider this to be a great game to own, and one I wish to see prosper – not only because of the money I have invested in Pathfinder’s first edition, but because I do believe that, regardless of how much I might like other systems, I will always enjoy Pathfinder’s first edition – and if I can have it with a lot of tweaks, heck, that’s a good thing. The sheer complexity of combat and build options available can make for seriously outstanding combat “puzzles”, if you will – in ways that a system with a more tightly-wound math can’t account for. Porphyra RPG revises without invalidating – and its changes and their extent, mirror in many ways how Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 used to operate. The changes in Porphyra RPG’s rules tend to affect the rules in an overall positive manner, while still allowing for the use of older components with a bit of quick hacking. In a way, this almost feels like a love-letter hack of d20-based games – the continuation for people who didn’t want a hard break.

If you’re fed up with the old Pathfinder, then this won’t blow your mind; if, however, you had hoped for a PF 1.75 at one point, for something akin to what Pathfinder’s first edition was for D&D 3.5, then this delivers, in spades. And considering that this was the work of such a small team, it is a genuinely impressive achievement. Speaking of team: Beyond Mark Gedak, Derek Blakely, Carl Cramér, Keith J. Davies, Perry Fehr, Kent Little and Patrick Kossmann have provided designs to this book, with the Purple Duck Games-patreon supporters credited also for their help; as such, I’ll mention these valiant souls as well: Derek Blakely, Raphael Bressel, Carl Cramér, Nicolas Desjardins, John Gardner, Brett Glass, Von Krieger, Gregory Lusak, Cecil Maye, Andre Roy, Justin P. Sluder, Mike Welham. Oh, and guess what? All herein is open game content. That’s impressive generosity, and while not new for Purple Duck Games, it still impresses me for a book of this size. Oh, and there is an evolving rules-wiki!

How to rate this? Well, if the above appealed to you, then consider this to be an explicit recommendation. My direct comparisons for this book would be PFRPG 1st edition’s core rules and 13th Age, as both are +.75-versions of previous games. Both of these books, divorced from the expansions that would help them come into their own, are 4-star books for me. And in a way, Porphyra RPG fares better in many regards. Yes, there are a precious few instances like caster checks to attack, which frankly worry me, as I can’t see their math working out, but I can’t yet fully judge how this will develop in the future. That being said, the vast majority of the changes are pretty significant and straight improvements, as far as I’m concerned. And yes, I freely admit to loving this game, not in spite of its inheritance, but because of it. So yeah. If you can manage to take a neutral look at Pathfinder’s first edition, you should probably consider this to be a 4-star game as well; however, if you enjoy the game, but want some evolution of what you already love, then this delivers in spades. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and I’ll round up. Finally, this also gets my seal of approval – because I genuinely adore many of the decisions made herein. Here’s to the future for both this game and Pathfinder Second Edition – two distinct playstyles I both enjoy for different reasons.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Porphyra Roleplaying Game
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Genie Riders of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2019 12:12:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

The genie rider class gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields, excluding tower shields.

The class also comes with a so-called genie mount, which begins play with 1 bonus trick and increases these to up to 7 over the course of the class progression. Nitpick here – the write-up of bonus tricks erroneously references the druid class instead of the genie rider class in an obvious cut-copy-paste glitch. The mount gets full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-saves; starting at third level, it gets a +2 natural AC bonus, and increases this to up to +12 in increments of +2. Also at third level, we have a +1 increase to both Strength and Dexterity, which also increases in increments of 3 levels to up to +6. Additionally, 4th level and every 4 thereafter net a +2 ability score increase. The mount begins with 1 skill, and starts play with a feat and increases that to a total of 10 feats over the course of the 20 levels of progression.

The mount may be handled as a free action, and the rider gets +4 circumstance bonus regarding her mount, courtesy of evasion. 3rd level nets evasion, 15th level improved evasion, and 6th level provides Devotion, +4 to saves vs. mind-affecting spells and effects. 9th level nets Multiattack. The table of the mount is flipped 90°, which while understandable, can be slightly awkward when using this on a non-phone screen – not a major complaint, mind you, as most folks using this electronically will indubitably do so on phones, tablets, etc. The pdf comes with 6 mount choices: Camel, lion, horse, mawgriff, pony and wolf, with Medium genie riders restricted to horse/camel and the other options being exclusives for Small genie riders. Genie riders do not take armor check penalty when riding their mount, and the mounts are considered to be combat trained and start play with Armor Training. Minor nitpick: The pdf doesn’t mention anything regarding the means to replenish mounts after one has fallen in battle.

Genie riders begin play with the camaraderie ability, which allows the rider to use aid another to help allies within 30 feet, and the bonus granted increases by 1. Both 7th and 14th level provide a further +1 increase to the bonus. The class begins with the challenge ability: 1/day, activated as a swift action, and the bonus damage caused is equal to the genie rider’s level. The ability gets an additional daily use at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. At 12th level, challenges also penalize the AC of the challenge target versus attacks from other foes.

At 2nd level, a genie rider damaging a target prevents that target from providing a flanking for 1 round. 3rd level nets controlled charge, which increases the attack bonus granted by charging and negates the AC lost when charging. 5th level nets ½ class level thunderous charges per day as a full-round action. This works as a charge, and the end point of the charge is rocked, with nearby targets risking falling prone, and the option to exclude targets at higher levels. The radius of these quakes increases at higher levels as well. 9th level nets the mount the trample universal monster ability, but this does require, as a nice balancing tool, being properly commanded – at least until 18th level, where this restriction is lost, and damage further increases.

6th level provides symbol of courage, which means immunity to fear for mount and rider, and an aura that nets nearby allies a bonus to saves vs. fear effects. 13th level nets the ability to inspire allies as a move action, which nets all allies within 60 feet the rider’s Charisma bonus as a bonus to attack and damage rolls with weapons for one round (so not mount buff). This may be used 3/day, plus 1/day for every level beyond 13th and the effect is properly codified. 15th level nets “All Eyes On Me”, a supernatural ability usable 3/day as a swift action. Each foe within 30 ft. must succeed on a Will-save or become flat-footed and suffer a -2 penalty to AC against attacks from the rider’s allies.

At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the genie rider’s mount receives a genie tribe’s blessing, chosen from a list of 5. This means, ultimately, that all genie riders at 20th level will have all of the blessing benefits, which is a bit of a bummer. Djinni blessing enhances speed and later nets feather falk/air walk. Efreeti nets fire resistance and fire bonus damage; the blessing of the janni enhances saves and allows the mount to alter/disguise self at will, culminating in rerolls at 20th level. Marid’s Blessing helps retain concentration and allows for better Stealth, Ref-saves and swim speed/water breathing at higher levels. Finally, the shaitan’s blessing negates penalties incurred from armor, DR, an improved devotion and the ability to carry more.

The pdf concludes with a sample zendiqi genie rider, including mount stats and a brief story.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level, and apart from minor cosmetic snafus, I noticed no issues on a formal level either. Kudos! Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights, and the artwork on the cover is nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is a nice plus.

Carl Cramér’s genie rider is basically a variant cavalier, for better or worse. It doesn’t address the linearity of the class that inspired it, and replaces the one choice we had, order…with nothing. The supplemental abilities are nice – the quaking angle? Heck yeah! Why don’t we have abilities for unique attacks, depending on genie blessings? Indeed, further enhancing the meaningfulness of genie blessing would be a huge step to make this class more compelling. Smoke charges, drowning attacks, aerial acrobatics – the awesome concept has its work cut out for it, but as presented, this does not capitalize on the cool idea, at least not to the extent that it imho should. All in all, if you’re looking for an Arabian nights-style cavalier variant, this is certainly worth getting for the low asking price. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, but I can’t round up for this fellow.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Genie Riders of Porphyra
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Great Old Ones of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2019 13:01:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „…of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD…and that’s it – the rest are 36 pages of content so let’s take a look!

Now, in case you were wondering: Porphyra RPG is basically an evolution of first edition Pathfinder. While the system has a couple of differences when compared to PF1, it is close enough to it to allow for pretty seamless use of PF1-content. The Porphyra RPG has finally left beta-status behind, so expect to see me take a look at it in detail very soon.

Okay, so, that out of the way, why should you care about yet another supplement depicting the mythos entities? Well, what about the fact that they are actually seamlessly integrated within the lore of Porphyra? As far as I’m concerned, that’s a big plus – it’s very much established how they interact with the Elemental Lords (who btw. banished them!) and the NewGods – the arrival of the latter has, among other things, also allowed the Great old Ones to attempt to worm their way back into the hearts and minds of mortals. It should also be noted that this does not end on the divine level – the snail-race zif, for example, is tapping into Cthulhu’s power, but is very much aware of how dangerous the entity is, and thus does not worship him, acting more as jailers. Similarly, the pdf acknowledges that the creativity Hastur can foster, the sheer rationality of Nyarlathotep, that all these can potentially have (at least short-term) beneficent effects. The Great Old Ones are listed in a handy table with domains and favored weapons noted, alongside which type of energy their clerics channel. A very cool aspect of Porphyra is that clerics etc. have a code of conduct that is different for each deity – and as such, codes for all the Great old Ones are provided. And guess what? There are plenty of cool ones here, and none of the annoying “Be evil blarghlblarghl”-BS. Servants of Dagon, for example, may only eat what is taken from the sea by their hands or that of others, and must address older males as “Father”, younger ones as “Son.” See what this does? It provides a roleplaying impetus! I love it!

Anyhow, after this introductory section, we go on to take a look at the respective individual write-ups for the Great Old Ones: Cthulhu, Dagon, hastur, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, Tsathoggua, Yig and Yog-Sothoth are covered, just fyi. Each entry lists sample worshipers, domains, the channeled energy, favored weapon, favored creature and favored instrument. Each of the write-ups also features a note on the legend underlying the entity in question, notes of the cult, and a spell preparation ritual that grants you bonuses when you undertake it – I love these, though e.g. the one for Yog-Sothoth is missing a “DC” in its “Intelligence 11 ability check.”. Each of the Great old Ones also features two religion traits. Unfortunate: The bonus types these provide are not codified correctly – they should provide trait bonuses, and are instead untyped herein. They do make use of a couple of Porphyra RPG’s innovations, for example Craft Points – one of Cthulhu’s religion traits nets you 60 of those….which probably should be upgraded, as the Porphyra RPG has another trait that instead yields a whopping 300 Craft Points! Anyhow, another thing you’ll note, is that spell-reference are no longer in italics in Porphyra RPG – I get why, as it makes formatting easier, but it does imho decrease the immediate readability of the text slightly. Each of the Great Old Ones btw. comes with a full-color (un-)holy symbol, which is something I very much liked seeing.

The write-ups of the Great Old Ones out of the way, we dive next into the section on integrating them into your game, which includes notes of player character cultists, which includes two human-blooded new races, the Kayanoi, who get +2 to ability score of their choice, 30 ft. base speed, a bonus feat and the extra skill rank per level, but also an additional starting language and +2 to saves vs. confusion, fear and madness. The save bonus should be codified as racial. The Sikayans lose the bonus feat, but get +2 to Survival (bonus type missing) and something cool: When affected by madness, confusion, fear, etc., they can choose to replace the condition with being frightened for the same duration. This should probably specify that this instance of being frightened may not be alleviated, otherwise, this ability begs to be cheesed. They also can ignore difficult terrain created by bogs, peat and shallow waters, or, if from the desert, that created by sand or shallow water. Both come with two nice race traits, though, once more, where present, the pdf doesn’t specify the correct bonus type.

The pdf then proceeds to provide 10 new [mythos]-spells – these are only on the spell-list of servants of the Great old Ones, and they retain the spell rarity rules Porphrya RPG introduced – still a pretty big fan of them! From temporary exiles in maddening dimensions via Assault from Beyond to the narratively-interesting contact creature, which lets you send over vast distances a call, much like the ones that fuel so many stories, these are conceptually nice. Also new in Porphyra RPG: there now is radiance damage, and e.g. the Flame of Aurex uses it. As a minor complaint – another spell references resistance to light, which should probably be radiance. Wrenching scream is a nice low-level spell that deals minor damage and hampers spellcasting etc. short-term – I like it, but its damage type is untyped, which it shouldn’t be. All in all, I liked the spells herein (there are more than those I mentioned), but there also are a couple of minor rough spots in the details.

The book then proceeds to summarize the rules from the impressive Spellbooks of Porphyra-supplement (which are still elegant and nice) and then proceeds to provide the classics: The Book of Azathoth, the Book of Eibon, Dhol Chants, Necromonicon, the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, The Curse of Yig, The King in Yellow, and, of course, Unspeakable Cults, are provided. As an aside: The lore butchered the book’s title from the get-go: It’s actually either “Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten”, oder “Unaussprechliche Kulte” in proper German, but that just as an aside. Each of these mighty tomes comes with its own list of spells contained, preparation ritual and lore – and a curse; these curses are often very roleplaying-centric, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. I don’t need, nor want, e.g. the user’s understanding of reality being undermined by Tsathoggua’s Weltanschauung codified as a paltry penalty. Good call!

The pdf then proceeds to provide updates of creature traits and universal monster rules, before continuing with the stats for byakhee (CR 4),d ark young of Shub-Niggurath (Cr 12), deep ones (CR 1), panther (CR 2), hunter sea urchins (CR 1), serpentfolk (CR 4) , venomous snakes (CR 1), star-spawn of Cthulhu (CR 20) and giant toads (CR 2).

Conclusion: Editing and formatting suffer a bit on a rules language level from this pdf being released prior to the finished Porphyra RPG; this particularly shows up in a couple of components, such as bonus and damage types. As a whole, this book doesn’t fall apart due to this, but it’s perceptible and makes it feel rougher around the edges than it deserved. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, with purple highlights providing color. The pdf has a surprising amount of nice full-color artworks, and e.g. the symbols for the Great Old Ones are very much appreciated. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am left with a weird task here, regarding this book penned by Carl Cramér, Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak. You see, from a mechanical point of view, this is actually pretty cohesive and concise, but feels like its bonus types were left out until Porphyra RPG was finalized. So, what am I to do? I could penalize the pdf for its inconsistencies, such as regarding the Craft Point discrepancy noted in the beginning, but that wouldn’t necessarily be fair. Plus, considering the cool aspects herein, there also is quite a lot to like – for example the fact that this does not feel like it glues the Great Old Ones to an existing fantasy cosmology. I can’t emphasize enough how much I like seeing them better integrated into the overall narrative. The spells, such as the one that confuses movement via non-Euclidian chaos, also sport a couple of pretty cool angles.

And yet, as a person, I am also suffering from a bit of fatigue regarding the by now pretty well-documented Great Old Ones. Ultimately, I am rather torn on where to go with this pdf – on one hand, I consider it to have too many formal snafus to warrant a formal recommendation, and on the other hand, complaining about them isn’t entirely fair in this instance. After much deliberation, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars; personally, I will round down. However, if you are looking for a well-crafted fantasy-take on the mythos, then you may want to round up. My official reviewer’s rating will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Great Old Ones of Porphyra
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Stock Art: Female Human Ghostspeaker
by Massimo T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/04/2019 08:31:57

The artwork is good but there is no version with a transparent background, just white.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Human Ghostspeaker
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Steel and Fury (DCC)
by Evan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/03/2019 10:57:56

THE ULTIMATE guide to getting the most out of Mighty Deeds of Arms in DCC RPG. Your Deeds will never be boring again, and it likely will give you ideas you never considered. Could this reference book be improved? Practically speaking, I don't see how. Everything is extremely well thought-out, with over three dozen types of Deeds (eg Headbutt, Muting Strike, Punch, Sever Arm, Throw Shield) spelled out, each on its own individual page for easy printing. Layout is superb, poetic quotations straight from actual Appendix N fiction to illustrate the Deeds in action are superb, Deed descriptions are superb, and tables per Deed Die roll result (including Deed Fumble and Mighty Critical results!) are superb. What's more, an extraordinarily helpful "Deeds by Weapon" index is included so that players can quickly pick a compatible Deed type based on whatever they're holding. Guaranteed to spice up gameplay with minimal effort. I love it; it's by far the single most useful DCC RPG supplement I've picked up, kind of like if the level of detail in the Wizard and Cleric spell tables in the Core Rules also got expanded to Warrior and Dwarf Deeds. Wonderful, and I keep mine tucked right in the Core Rules. Well done!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steel and Fury (DCC)
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Nagaji of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/12/2019 11:38:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, though it should be noted that one of the SRD-pages also contains a bit of information taken from a magic item update. The pdf is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper.

As always: While this is intended for the Porphyra RPG currently being playtested and streamlined, the book as a whole is properly compatible with PFRPG 1e with minimum fuss.

After a brief bit of introductory prose, we start with notes on the physical description and ecology of nagaji, and their society – which seems to be hell-bent on amassing enough money and power to reclaim a glorious past that may never have been; hell-bent of punishing the Porphyrite Dragon (which, while awesome, should be referred to as awful from the nagaji’s perspective) and reclaiming a glorious empire, the by now tribal people worshipping Empress S’sluun certainly represent an interesting angle on the racial concept. Ironically (for serpent people) poisoned by ideology and religion, the race includes notes on various faiths prominent among the nagaji-people of Porphyra. Proper vital statistics are included, and nagaji in Porphyra get +2 Strength and Constitution, -2 Intelligence, are Medium reptilians with a normal speed, low-light vision, +1 natural AC, +2 to saves against mind and poison descriptors (nice taking advantage of one of Porphyra RPG’s improvements), and a +2 racial bonus to Perception and Handle Animal.

7 alternate racial traits are provided: The skill boost and low-light vision may be exchanged with darkvision (which works differently in Porphyra RPG and thus has no range listed – that’s not a glitch!); the save-boost may be exchanged with one that applies to disease and poison and includes being able to go longer without food and drink before starving. The skill boost may also be exchanged with a 1/day SP hypnotism, using HD as CL. The spell-reference is not italicized here, which may be subject to change depending on the way in which Porphyra RPG ends up establishing formatting conventions. Similarly, nagaji may exchange their resistance with a +1 racial bonus to attacks against prone or flanked targets. There also is a trait that replaces the reptilian subtype with the human one and nets you a nasty social skill penalty, but also a boost to initiative. Poison use can be chosen in lieu of the skill-boost and the armor can be exchanged for a boost to Stealth, courtesy of darker scales.

The pdf includes 5 race traits that actually are mechanically-relevant, power-levels-wise in line, and that do tie in with the race’s lore – nice! After this, we get 6 different new racial feats that highlight another nice thing in Porphyra RPG – they have a line below, after which they note a BAB-value. Once you reach this value, you unlock new benefits! Blood of the Serpent requires that you fail two saves to move down the poison progression track, and at BAB+6, you get to choose two tracks and become immune to poisons of those tracks. Cool! Guarded Thoughts nets +4 racial bonus to saves vs. mind descriptor spells, and BAB +11 upgrades that to include immunity vs. divinations with the mind descriptor. Naga Speed lets you bite as an immediate action when a flanking ally hits, and BAB +8 upgrades this to allow an ally an AoO when you hit with the bite. Snaketongue lets you communicate with snakes, and BAB +4 makes snakes helpful. Sharp Fangs nets you a properly codified bite attack (strength should be capitalized, though); at BAB +8, you get a poisonous bite. S’sluun’s Warrior nets proficiency with the sawtooth sabre, and CMD to resist demoralization increases by +4 while wielding the deity’s favorite weapon. BAB +9 makes the sabre deal 1 point of bleed damage and renders you immune to being demoralized.

The pdf proceeds to provide two racial archetypes: The Fanged Assassin for the Assassin base class gets proficiency with simple weapons, kukris, sawtooth sabres and short swords, and replaces poison use with the Sharp Fangs feat; Venomous Bite is gained at 2nd level. 16th level makes the bite ignore poison immunity, and the archetype comes with its own racial assassin secret. Class-skill-wise, this means we get Deception, Knowledge (dungeoneering) Knowledge (religion) and Survival . ½ class level (minimum 1) is added to Athletics and Sap checks, and the class features provide scaling poison damage, the option to spit venom, and poison upgrades.

The Naga Clanpriest cleric may use Knowledge (religion) instead of monster lore checks, and retry each Knowledge (religion) check once. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the clanpriest may choose one of 6 marks; these represent fanatic devotion, and sometimes are double-edged swords. 3 unique and rather cool poisons are presented next, from red lotus powder to rapture, and we get 4 new exotic nagaji spells: Agony of the Naga Empress caused crippling pain that renders the target helpless. As an aside – the description did remind me of my own migraines…and yep, you are struck no matter what by pain – the save determines whether this is permanent. OUCH. At level 8 and properly gated by spell scarcity etc., suitable in a way. Breed Posion makes use of Porphyra RPG’s poison engine, enhancing duration and frequency. Shape of the Sacred Snake is a painful process that transforms the caster, body and mind, into an emperor cobra. Shedding Flesh makes you hallucinate that you’re shedding your flesh – not good for morale…

The pdf also sports 5 new magic items: We get write-ups for arrows with a magical sleeping effect, idols that provide serious penalties, but reward those suffering through them with a boost (should specify that they don’t stack in effects with other idols), daggers that allow for the use of detect thoughts, and we get cursed rings that slowly kill targets in excruciating agony as a twisted kind of magical sacrificial device. Rings of the serpent make the wearers aware of other wearers, making for a deadly tool of elite strikeforces.

The pdf also surprised me by diving deep into nagan politics, with multiple faction leaders noted with their positions and ranks, adding some serious flavor to the pdf. The bastion of the naga, the Asp Fortress, receives a full settlement write-up as well, including a fully realized settlement statblock that lists qualities ad defenses, etc. The pdf also provides some neat updates penned by Mark Gedak – from universal monster rules referenced to emperor cobra stats to two magic item updates, this appendix renders the supplement easier to use. Nice one!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. The few glitches I found were cosmetic in nature. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column standard with purple headers and highlights, and the pdf features some rather nice 1-page full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This is, at least to my knowledge, Quinn Carter’s first offering, and I am happy to report that I ended up being duly impressed: The flavor is interesting, and the execution of the rules is precise. The supplement does a great job highlighting several of the improvements and unique components that Porphyra RPG brings to the table. All in all, I consider this to be a great example of what a well-crafted racial supplement can achieve. It also has achieved something that is worth noting: It genuinely serves as a great pitch for the entire Porphyra RPG. The changes to the rules presented, the concepts – they managed to make me truly excited about the game, making this a great first-exposure-pdf. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars; and the combination of showing the system improvements, flavor and freshman bonus combine to grant this my seal of approval. If this type of book is what we can expect, then the future looks rosy…erh…I meant…purple, of course!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nagaji of Porphyra
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Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
by Ian C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2019 01:21:01

I ran this today, and it was a hit. The story was great and had tons of good description.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
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Cavers of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2019 08:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

If you buy this class, you’ll notice a little comment bubble in the cover page – this is very helpful for folks new to Porphyra RPG, as the game does have a couple of differences from PFRPG. This bubble explains a couple of them, which is really helpful and something I hope the final book of Porphyra RPG will do. Porphyra RPG, as per the writing of this review, has not yet been completed and is still being tested; as such, I can’t provide the same in-depth analysis regarding formatting.

Relevant for this review: Porphyra has no alignments (YES!!!), spells are grouped by scarcity (common, rare, exotic), and touch attacks are replaced with caster checks – in this pdf, 1d20 + caster level + Wisdom modifier; I assume that other classes use their own spellcasting-governing ability score modifier. These also replace and unify spell penetration and concentration checks. This also explains changes in the skill-system. It’s a small touch, but it really helps using this fellow in context with PFRPG, for example, and makes transition to Porphyra RPG easier.

After a brief introduction and flavor, we are introduced to the framework of the class: Cavers get d8 HD and 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, long sword, rapier, sap, scorpion whip, shortsword and sword cane as well as light armor. The class gets a ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves, and starting at 4th level, we have spellcasting progression. This is spontaneous spellcasting, and gets up to 4th level, with Wisdom as governing spellcasting ability score. The class may not choose spells affecting class features.

At 1st level, cavers choose a career from a list of 5 that encompasses bard, bloodrager, medium, ranger and zealot. The first gets the bardic performance, with 2 + Wisdom modifier rounds , +2 per level gained. We start with countersong, inspire courage, gain inspire competence at 3rd level, dirge of doom at 8th level and soothing performance at 12th level. The choice of bloodrager nets a bloodrager bloodline and bloodline powers at 1s and 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, with a limited descriptor choice re spells and no normal bloodline spells gained. As a minor nitpick: The notation of levels is inconsistent herein: 1st level vs. level 1. That should be unified in the final iteration.

The Medium choice nets fey and mind descriptor spells, haunt channeler at 3rd level, location channel at 5th, connection channel (level 7), ask the spirits at 13th level and astral journey at 14th level. Ranger gets endurance and wild empathy at 1st level, combat style at 2nd (6th, 10th, 14th, 18th), with favored terrain and camouflage modified to interact with the class abilities. Descriptor-wise, we have animal and plant as the ones available here.

Finally, zealot nets darkness and rune spells, descriptor-wise, sneak attack at 1st, uncanny dodge at 4th, improved uncanny dodge at 8th level. Sneak attack progression is tied to every 2 levels after 1st.

A crucial key ability briefly mentioned in the ability text, but not this review, would be the so-called “Caver Tub.” As a standard action, the caver declares herself and up to 3 + Wisdom modifier allies as part of the caver tub. The caver is always part of her tub, even when it’s not declared. The members must be within 30 ft. of the caver at any point during the caver’s turns to be members of the tub, and if they don’t fulfill that criteria, the caver has to designate them as part of it again. Members share the favored cave feature and gain the use of teamwork feats the caver has, without having to meet the prerequisites. Unless the teamwork feat-engine is overhauled to make them stronger, this is a valid design-choice to make them not suck. 9th and 17th level increase the range of the ability by +30 ft. each, while 13th and 19th level allow for the optional designation of a caver tub as a swift or immediate action, respectively.

Favored cave is btw. gained at 3rd level and nets ties with a particular community, denoted as “cave” – the caver gains +2 to initiative, Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth and Survival there, and the caver adds Survival skill bonus to the attempts to track her there. Unless in immediate danger, the caver can find shelter there, and at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the caver gets an additional cave and the bonuses increase. Cavers start play with +10 ft. land movement speed, and further increase that to +20 ft. at 12th level.

The class begins play with an anthodite, a rare crystal, that looks like a sea urchin and that inspires the caver to defend the tub. Cavers receive an untyped (intentionally?) bonus to atk and damage versus creatures that have attacked a member of the tub during the last minute, and the bonus is also applied to aid another when helping the members of the tub. The bonus increases from +1 to +5 over the class’s progression. I love the flavor – but why make this an ability? RAW, the crystal as a physical entity has no impact whatsoever. It doesn’t occupy a slot; it’s not clear whether it must be worn, held, etc. What if it’s lost? Can it be stolen? This, to me, looks like it should be a magic item, not a class feature. (And if it should be a class feature, it needs better verbiage.)

The class features a talent-array, so-called capers, the first of which is gained at 2nd level, with another unlocked every 2 levels thereafter. These include canceling size benefits of foes trying to Intimidate the tub, bonus feats, and some interesting tricks: Like making Diplomacy or Sense Motive as part of total defense, a code language, conceal thoughts, the ability to hide 1/day magical properties, immediate action aid another, a swift action one-round debuff to Will-saves, rogue talents, poison use, stealthy sunder attempts (nice!), social talents, Dexterity modifier to damage for a crossbow or firearm, trap rigging and breaking – you get the idea.

As a capstone, the caver may 1/week, as a full-round action, call for rebellion and include all targets within 1000 feet that choose to join the caver a part of her tub, and in the round of joining, they get break enchantment and freedom of movement, with caster level checks automatically succeeding. This is an epic and awesome capstone.

The pdf includes a sample level 1 caver NPC.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay, but not impressive. While the rules-language is solid, the verbiage per se is pretty inconsistent, which makes the class seem rougher than it actually is. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with bookmarks in spite of its brevity. Nice! The artwork on the cover is neat as well – you can see for yourself.

Carl Cramér’s caver is an odd one – it’s a skill-monkey class with a guardian angle – not exactly what I expected when I read “caver.” The class does a few things very well – namely showing advantages that Porphyra RPG will have regarding aesthetics and design space when compared to classic Pathfinder. At the same time, the class doesn’t do that much beyond that. The teamwork angle of the caver tub is something I generally enjoy seeing, but ultimately, the class suffers from not having that much unique stuff going on. The urchin-ability is a bit weird, and frankly, I didn’t get where this was supposed to be going, until I got to the capstone. Then it clicked. The capstone is awesome, and it opened my eyes regarding what this class needs: It needs persistent abilities that kick in when the tub is in effect, and abilities that only kick in when it’s established. Granted, that’d make it a wholly different class, but it’d also make it more distinct. (Supplemental material would be nice as well, but considering that the game’s still being tested, I understand the omission.) As a whole, I consider this a solid offering, though not one that will blow you away. My final verdict, taking the very low and fair price into account, will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cavers of Porphyra
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Stock Art: Crab Demon with Whip
by Samurai S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2019 07:43:48

Great piece, but in .jpg only, so either you edit the white out or put it on a white background. Will definitely rate higher if it's updated with a .png or .tif clear background.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Crab Demon with Whip
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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2019 03:41:25

I'm a huge fan of DCC and Grimm fairytales. Needless to say this was an amazingly perfect combination. This funnel adventure was what started my current long running campaign. It's a fantastic adventure, and I highly recommend this to anyone looking to explore the darker side of the fairytales we became familiar with as children, Dungeom Crawl Classics style!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator
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