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Legendary Shamans: Second Edition (PF2)
by Alexai Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/25/2022 21:52:27

The book feels like it should have had a once-over by an editor. The colors and boxes of the traits ("uncommon," "shaman," etc.) are rough and don't follow established convention, the wind spirit mentions elementals with the "wind" trait (air trait?), there are unicode boxes in the lower-left of every page. This feels incomplete and of low quality, regardless of how well it's balanced.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Shamans: Second Edition (PF2)
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Gothic Grimoires: The Necrotic Verses 5E
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2022 00:35:08

This reads like what it is: a conversion of a Pathfinder product to D&D 5th Edition. The titular Necrotic Verses have a neat enough backstory (blatantly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's "The Music of Erich Zann"), followed by mechanics allowing bards to learn new spells and "masterpieces" from the work. The masterpieces are music-themed abilities that permanently replace a bard's feats or spell slots; each has a very detailed description with evocative imagery, but also complicated mechanics much more suited to Pathfinder than 5E. (Also, some Pathfinder terminology managed to sneak through.) This product might suit 5E DMs or players who enjoy more complex rules than usual, but I suspect most would find this too cumbersome to use.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Gothic Grimoires: The Necrotic Verses 5E
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Ultimate Commander (5E)
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2022 00:20:22

The core concept of this third-party D&D 5th Edition book is neat - a class called the General that can command a "squad" of soldiers, much like other classes have animal companions and the like. The squad is represented in an abstract way, and levels with the General. They also include a variant called the Hordelord, which has a horde of zombies instead of living soldiers.

The problem is the execution of this concept - very wordy, and very complicated. There are just way too many options for the General and for the squad (including 13 subclasses!), and it's a slog to read through. (The Hordelord has far fewer options, but is still complicated at its core.) It's not very surprising to realize that this was a conversion of a Pathfinder product; the mechanics feel much more at home in that sort of game than they do in the leaner approach taken in 5E.

I imagine there are 5E players who would love these rules, but for most, I suspect this would be just too much. Shame, as the core idea is pretty cool. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Commander (5E)
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Aethera Campaign Setting
by Jan-Niklas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/23/2022 13:20:49

One of the most well thoughtout settings I've ever read. There are only a few races on four worlds, but all of them are given deep cultures and complex histories. The core worlds are very distinguished too, but also build around common themes and ideas, that hold the cosmology together. They tone is very grey, even though the gouvernments are shown to be corrupt or in a state of corruption. Which means, that this universe it the perfect place to play heroes and villains, who will change the course of history.

The Setting delivers a lot of ideas for adventures and campaigns and the archetypes of known classes read interesting enough. I also like the idea of cutting clerics out of the setting and give bards more ways too shine.

My personal point of critique though is, that there's onlyone Archetype for Paladins, which is my favorite class in Pathfinder and D&D. The kinetic knight does read fun (like a Jedi only using his mindtricks), but I'm more a fan of knights in shinning armor. I would have loved more descritptions or ideas what makes a paladin different in Aethera, especially since paladins still use clerical magic.

Besides that, I sincerly hope that the designers are still working on the setting and that there will be soon conversions to 5e and Starfinder. Since this is already the case for supplements, I'm quite hopeful. It would be a shame, if the Starfinder campaign setting would have a monopoly on science-fantasy rolepaying games.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aethera Campaign Setting
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Book of Exalted Darkness (Shadow of the Demon Lord)
by Manuel L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2022 12:43:02

I know there is much effort and work in a product like this, but as a GM it doesnt really help me in the regular SotDL world.

  1. If you know how Angels work in SotDL you wouldn't create an ancestry like Angelkin, without a proper explanation, or refer to Celestials or Tiefling when you describe them.
  2. Both new ancestrys got no level 4.
  3. You can argue about taste, but Introducing holy and unholy damage to SotDL, just dont feel right.

There still is good content available and many inspirations, you can make it work as a GM with a little extra effort. All i know about DnD, i guess the 5E version shouldnt have this issues. :)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Exalted Darkness (Shadow of the Demon Lord)
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Arcforge Campaign Setting: Ravages of the Qlippoth
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:06:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Arcforge-supplement clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 54 pages of content (yes, the pdf is missing its SRD), so let’s take a look!

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

Now, before we start, it should be noted that Arcforge is a highly-permissive setting that gravitates to the upper echelon of the power-spectrum; psionics, akasha and tech in particular are firmly integrated into the setting, and it should be noted that the two core-engine books Arcforge: technology Expanded and Arcforge: Psibertech have some issues in internal consistency regarding their balance and the power-parity between options within those very options presented. For the purpose of this review, I’m not going to rehash my complaints in those regards, and instead focus on the content presented herein.

Structurally, the book uses a somewhat weird approach: It begins with campaign information, then proceeds towards a bestiary, and finishes with class options; personally, I prefer my player-facing material at the front, GM material at the back, but that just as an aside. I’ll start off with the player-facing options, which include 7 archetypes: Apostate dreads replace Climb, Stealth and Swim with Diplomacy and Knowledge (Arcana, Planes, and Religion), and twin fear is replaced with the Spook ability (which curiously, has a double colon); the ability enforces concentration checks for enemies, and ties the extra action array of the shadow twin feature instead to failing such a check. 15th level allows for the dread of shadow twin to emit an antimagic or null psionics field when such a check is failed…and twin/dread are unaffected. This is a clever-high-level tweak. I like it. 18th level allows for the expenditure of 2 terror uses to use mage’s disjunction or unravel psionics, and for 3 uses, both can be activated at once, targeting the same area; this replaces level 18’s terror. The two terrors allow for dispel magic/psionics (upgrades later), or impose an effect that manifests their casting/Manifesting ability. I like this archetype.

The chainmaster soulknife reduces damage die size by one step, but gets the reach and trip traits for the mind blade, regardless of form, and makes the mind blade qualify as a spiked chain for feat etc. purposes. Instead of quick draw, the mind chain may manipulate things as though his chains were hands, and also nets an untyped +2 bonus to combat maneuver checks, and it adds the grapple quality. Bonus should be typed here, and there is a “APG”-superscript not properly formatted here. Instead of 8th and 16th level’s blade skills, we have damage and backlash damage increases for the vicious special property (incorrectly formatted), which makes an even more massive sudden death attack, and at 16th level, mind chains ignore DR and hardness and increase critical damage multiplier by 1 to a maximum of x6. X5 is already ridiculous, so yeah, not a fan. The archetype also gets a soul binding capstone coupled with assimilate and the option to manifest the chain sans save in a null psionics field, though it still loses its special abilities.

The depthlord oracle exchanges mystery skills for Knowledge (dungeoneering, engineering) and Use Magic Device, and mystery bonus spells are replaced at 2nd level with a psychic spell one level lower than highest oracle spell known; the spell is treated as one level higher for all purposes. Every two levels thereafter, the depthlord may choose another. The revelations include SR and PR, and transparency between magic and psionics, including an interesting caveat. Eldritch Abomination antipaladins actually get smit abomination (vs. aberrations, Great old One servants, etc.), detect psionics instead of detect good, and touch of corruption and channel negative energy are replaced with the option to impart cumulative Will save penalties with attacks, with cruelties including confusion, insanity, and mind-shattering. 4th level nets gifted blade at one level lower instead of spells, and a metamorphosis powers-based replacement for fiendish boon. Interesting one; great for the dark champion that fights horrors with horror trope.

The reshaper cryptic replaces pattern design with a warped appearance, and may forego cryptic insights in favor of 2 customization points for aberrant aegis customizations; 7th and 16th level net (greater) metamorphosis, respectively, and we have a new capstone. Rustsworn hunter slayers get proficiency with heavy armor and sniper weapons, but moves studied target to 5th level and reduces its bonus by 1. The archetype also loses armor check penalty on Stealth (incorrect formatting) instead of 6th level’s slayer talent. The talent at 12th level is replaced by class level resistance to fire, cold and acid. Steelduster rangers lose wild empathy and spellcasting in favor or a mech, and a new feat array option array for the combat style feats; hunter’s bond is modified to get a synthetic companion that may merge with the mech, and at the highest levels, the steelduster’s companion can even pilot the mech. The quarry abilities are lost, though.

The book includes 6 new feats: boon mech is a multiclass feat for mech progression; Harmonic Resilience makes your SR apply to powers, and PR to spells. Killing Madness lets you kill a creature by reducing it to 0 sanity or a mental ability score to negatives…I like the idea, but it’s not that hard to abuse. Mechanical Initiate nets a bonded mech at -4 class level. Metapsionic Ability has its verbiage in a pretty confusing mess: it’s clear that it originally was an excerpt from some other rules-component; its presentation as a feat confused me, big time. Still not 100% sure about how this was supposed to work. Soul Keeper makes creatures you kill slightly harder to return to the living, and nets you a minor bonus when you kill a critter; the bonus is conservative enough to make a kitten-exploit not feasible.

Unless I’ve miscounted, the pdf also includes 16 new powers…wait. Tactical suppression…that save-or-suck prevent creatures from using specific actions…sounds familiar. And those super-potent augmentation options…that bestow curse, just in better and much more flexible malefic metamorphosis…I definitely have seen that stuff before. That cool latent programming power…I know it…but…I also have those weird flashbacks to that one pdf. The Horror, the Horror! Kidding aside, the pdf reproduces a series of psionic powers first featured in the Terrors from the ID-supplement. On the plus side, the formatting this time around is not a total trainwreck, but on the downside, a few of them could have used some gentle nerfbat-prodding. Oh, and the formatting is still littered with some legacy errors from Terrors, with power-references erroneously title-cased and the like. That being said, as a whole, the powers selected tend to rank among the best/most creative from Terrors book; if you need to make a decision, get this one right here. The cool mind-games powers are all here, formatting is better, and the power-selection is certainly something of a best of. If you need guidance on some nerfing, I’d suggest being very careful with the augmentation options provided. Eliminating them makes the power-section more suitable for lower-powered games.

Okay, that out of the way, let’s take a look at the setting section: The first 7 pages provide the basic introduction to the setting of Vandara, and if you read Spheres of Influence, for example, will be material you already know. Where the pdf diverges from previous books in the series would be with its major locations, which include the Ashfield, perfect reminder of the ruin that the qlippoth war wrought upon the lands; deadly and frozen Coeusel, where the qlippoth reign supreme and corrupt wildlife; the nuke-blasted and hobgoblin-led Dorukalad, a region that seemingly consists of trenches and bunkers, with war as the raison d’être for daemons and goblinoids alike…and there would be the Erebine, a labyrinth at the planet’s core and dumping ground for ancient war creatures and titans from the Maker’s War. We learn about the wreckage-choked Gray Ocean, where the qlippoth still retain some sort of supremacy, and the sajac fortification, fortresses on and around mountains,a re a bit like a combined super-dwarven hold and The Wall. Finally, the silicone barrier is also expanded upon. These lore-heavy write-ups are an absolute joy to read and genuinely compelling; they adhere to the “go large or go home”-style, without ever feeling rididculous. They make sense.

The majority of the book is taken up by…dingdingding monsters! We start off with a CR +2 template for apostle kytons, who can recite damaging prayers, cause bleeding wounds, and style-wise definitely have the whole Hellraiser-conversion angle going. Nice template, supported by a CR 12 cryptic with the template. A CR 13 shooting star firing and disease-devouring papinjuwari giant is also provided here, but it seems to have lost its flavor on the cutting-room floor. Of course, the main focus of this booklet would be the qlippoths: the book presents a psionic subtype variant, which is pretty nice, though oddly the headers for the signature abilities it nets have not been bolded properly. This is cosmetic, though. Qlippoths in Vandara have a corruption, and when they reduce Wisdom or Charisma to 0, they permanently alter the unfortunate: Elves may become drow; dragons psionic dragons; cyclops papinjuwari…you get the idea. I really like this. They also detonate. I’m fond of detonating monsters. I’m even more fond of the state of Aristeia, which means “certain doom”; essentially, it’s the super-saiyajin state for qlippoths, represent by, well a mythic template. A Cr 16/MR 6 Ylyrgoi (including a really nifty full-color artwork) illustrates that.

At CR 2 the cythnigot, at CR 3 the hydraggon, at CR 4 the thognorok, at CR 5 the deinochos, at CR 7 the shoggti, at CR 8 the utukku, at CR 10 the nyogoth, at CR 11 the gongorinan, at CR 12 the chernobue, at CR 13 the behimiron, at CR 14, we have the augnagarat, at CR 15 the wilbopik, at CR 16 the cataboligne, at CR 18 the thulgant, and at CR 20 the iathavos. Yep, that would be the whole qlippoth-cadre rebuilt as psionic qlippoths. I like this very much, as the new versions tend to be a tad bit more frightening/potent. Are the builds perfect? Not always; there’s e.g. an instance where a Psi-like ability notes a CL instead of a ML…but as a whole, this is certainly nice to have. These hiccups in refinement can also be seen with the qlippoth-corrupted creature, which has its header modification header not properly formatted; more egregious: the sample creature (Gnoph-Keh, CR 12, fyi) refers to “qlippoth-blighted” instead of “qlippoth-corrupted”; it also e.g. lacks the scent universal monster ability that it’s supposed to get from the template, among other.

But the book has one trump-card left to play. Or rather, 7. Askyjoth. Estidoth. Kazeyoth. Liktruoth. Nyorbradoth. Remaloth. Zelovoth. Most of them are CR 24. Yep, you guessed it: qlippoth lords. And yes, they can go Aristeia with a modified template, and they get their own qlippoth lord traits. Oh, and those builds…ACs in the 40s. massive hp pools (usually 400+); massive defensive capabilities; signature abilities galore. We have e.g. one with crossover construct-outsider immunities and the ability to ignore warped/difficult terrain, essentially a living terraformer; we have a dervish-style shredder wielding 4 adamantine scimitars who can scavenge each day anew the abilities of 3 level 20 characters, and some less complex behemoths…and can you picture what kind of damage output you need to best that lord who also has a 20th-level vitalist’s collective? These lords ROCK. Why? Because they take the ultra-permissive approach of Arcforge and make massive numbers-puzzles bossfights that require top-tier, optimized parties to beat, doing what, arguably, only PFRPG can do to this extent. Some of these builds reminded me of some bossrebuilds I made for my super-optimized campaign, and I mean that as a true compliment. And yes, they get full-color artworks. There is but one thing I can complain about realistically here, and that would be that they lack lore; it’d have been amazing to see a big, fat lore section for each of the lords. Then again, their statblocks do tell stories, and ensure that even optimized parties should do their legwork before challenging them. Why? What about one who is immune to AND capable of using any psi-like ability of undead creatures under its command? Yeah, run into this fellow unprepared and without a plan, and you go splatter-splotch. And the themes they have are represented exceedingly well in the respective signature abilities. Yes, I’m a sucker for super-enemies…but who isn’t? Particularly when they highlight so well what the author can do?

Conclusion: Editing and formatting in particular are a bit inconsistent: On the one hand, there are top-tier complexity statblocks without any gripes, on the other hand, we have some aggravating formatting snafus in basic ability headers. Still, as a whole, so far the most refined Arcforge-book I’ve covered. Rules issues tend to be primarily focused in reprinted material, and as such, I’ll deemphasize those in the rating. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a blend of old and new artwork. The bookmarks are only basic: For example, we only get a bookmark for qlippoth lords, not for each individual one, which makes navigation less comfortable than it should be.

This installment of Matt Daley’s Arcforge-series feels like he found his voice; the flavor/setting components are great and evocative, and the monster builds, particularly for the lords, are BRUTAL, in the best of ways. The player-facing options show more restraint than I’ve seen in Arcforge so far, which is a very good thing indeed. The only components I’m not too keen on would be the powers, but mainly due to their augmentation options generally catapulting them significantly above comparable options at the same level; getting rid of the augmentation options is a rough, but swift way of nerfing them slightly at least, which should be sufficient for Arcforge games embracing the massive power presumed by the setting. (or, you know, only use them for qlippoths…) For other games, a sharper scrutiny may be in order. Still, even when taking the issues in the powers-reprint into consideration, design-wise, this is the most refined I’ve seen Arcforge so far.

Now, this book does have its fair share of avoidable hiccups, but it similarly has a lot going for it; if you’re as much of a fan as I am when it comes to super-deadly bosses, then this booklet will make you smile and warrant the asking price for the qlippoth lords alone. The Aristeia mode is just a beautifully volatile icing on the qlippoth cake as far as I’m concerned and adds a significant level of danger and unpredictability to the supplement. It also BREATHES Anime/Evangelion/etc., which I adore. Psionics and qlippoth are a great match, and I appreciated the rebuilds as well.

Soooo, how to rate this? Weeeeell. Formally, there are a lot of small hiccups that accumulate, and that some will consider to be jarring. HOWEVER, there is also a lot of genuinely inspiring stuff here. And I love the qlippoth lords. As a person, I’ll round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars; as a reviewer, though, I have to round down, since the sheer amount of formal hiccups would make rounding up unfair for all the other books I’ve covered over the years. Still, if you like your top-tier/super-deadly builds, check this out, even if the core-ideas of mechas and Arcforge as a setting are less interesting to you. If you even remotely like qlippoths, this is worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arcforge Campaign Setting: Ravages of the Qlippoth
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Arcforge: Star*Path
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/01/2021 10:50:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book in the Arcforge-series clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all: I don’t expect perfection here. I went into this review with the firm desire to be lenient, as this book attempts something that can system-immanently not be achieved with perfect precision, namely provide more extensive guidelines regarding the translation of SFRPG material to Pathfinder’s first edition, and vice versa.

While both systems seem similar at first glance, even a cursory analysis will show that there are crucial differences in almost all components of the systems in question. This, of course, comes as no surprise to people who have actually played both systems, but it bears mentioning. These differences obviously also extend to the act of building characters and using options.

Now, ideally, we’d have a kind of book-shaped program—input system A, output content perfectly-balanced for system B, but the like would require a near boundless database of material, considering PFRPG’s vast amount of content, and SFRPG’s constant growth.  Unfortunately, the like is, pretty much system-immanently, a squaring of the circle for systems of this complexity, and not something the book could ever originally hope to achieve. If you want a perfect conversion product, then, well, you’ll be disappointed. This book never had a chance to deliver that.

PFRPG’s focus on numerical bonuses, SFRPG’s stamina/resolve-chassis, how magic items and damage is handled, and so many more components, are simply incompatible in many ways, and would require a firm retooling from the ground up.

To make this abundantly clear: The basic premise of this book is as deeply and fundamentally flawed as the SFRPG Core-book’s basic conversion guidelines, at least if you want to maintain the aesthetics and balancing of the two systems, a problem that is more pronounced in SFRPG, as it generally is much less swingy regarding the power-levels of the characters and parties as a whole. If you ever went through the hassle of using SFRPG’s core book’s conversion guidelines for a complex PFRPG-class, you’ll know what I mean.

Introducing PFRPG into this context will inevitably break the power-curve of SFRPG, and/or result in some very weird situations. Same goes vice versa—in PFRPG, targeting touch AC is a huge thing; in SFRPG, touch ACs, per the core book’s conversion guidelines are converted into something that targets EAC instead, which is generally significantly higher than touch AC.

However, if you are sufficiently proficient with both systems and wanted more guidelines than the rather sparse ones the SFRPG-core book offered, then continue reading. This book can’t relieve the task of conversion and balancing off your shoulders, but let’s see whether it can succeed in facilitating the process.

First of all, similar names of abilities, archetypes, etc. are handled by adding “SF” or “PF”, respectively, and the pdf acknowledges that PF-archetypes, when using PF-classes in SFRPG, should be allowed, with the caveat of requiring a case-by-case judgment regarding their applicability.

The book wastes no time and goes through all of Paizo’s PFRPG1-classes and how to adapt them to SFRPG, and also covers the Legendary-rebuilds, up to and including the samurai and magus.  This section and the notes of which class features are diminished, which lost, makes my contention above work better than anything I could have come up with. To give you an example, the following in the entirety of the conversion notes presented for the magus-class:

“2nd Level: For the highest level of magus spells you

can prepare, reduce the number of spells prepared

by 1.

4th Level: You do not gain Spell Recall. When you

would gain Improved Spell Recall, you instead gain

Spell Recall.

Multilevel 6th, 9th, 12th, and 18th levels: You do not

gain a Magus Arcana.“

Okay, so if you follow the global conversion guidelines, the touch attack of spellstrike now targets EAC, but in SFRPG, crits don’t require a reroll to confirm. This book later goes into the topics of critical hits and notes that unusual threat ranges and higher critical multipliers should have a translation regarding critical hit effects instead, and uses wound and severe wound as examples here. Okay but what about a spellstrike critically hitting? Should it have a different critical hit effect for melee attack and for spell conveyed? More generally, many of the secondary pools in PFRPG offer powers that are on par with options that require Resolve expenditure in SFRPG, and/or that have a cooldown, in that they can only be reused in SFRPG after a 10-minute rest in which Resolve was spent to regain Stamina. The book does state that a magus’ arcane pool should be eliminated in favor of Resolve LATER, but does not per se present any guidelines regarding the limitations that often accompany powers contingent on Resolve expenditure.

The material provided by this supplement, ultimately, can never be more than the tiniest fragment of the actual work that would be required to make PFRPG classes work in SFRPG – heck, a proper conversion of 1-3 classes from SFRPG would probably require at least the page-count of this entire book. And that’s not even starting with the fact that SFRPG’s spells tend to be weaker than those of PFRPG.

So yeah – this cannot be the universal conversion guideline it wants to be.

However, it does have some components going for it, in spite of this, as a general rough starting point for your own designs. What to do with favored class options, for example? Well, the pdf covers that.

We then take a look at the helmsman class from Arcforge: Technology Expanded, and probably is the most interesting take here, with the pdf acknowledging the need to remove the numerical bonuses prevalent in akasha, as well as suggestions for Resolve use, bonded vessel starships, etc.—there are some salient starting guidelines here, as well as a couple of armaments…but at the same time, the in-depth look at akasha and its global rewiring to adhere to the conventions of SFRPG isn’t really done.  Some feats, like Technologist and those pertaining combat maneuvers are covered as well, essentially elaborating slightly on the general guidelines presented in SFRPG’s core book. The pdf discourages the use of martial maneuvers and Path of War classes in SFRPG, but does imply the use of psionics and akasha, with the power-increasing and rather problematic “…as advanced tech” guidelines from Arcforge: Technology Expanded to be okay in SFRPG. …Yeah. NO.

This is problematic on a balance-level perspective, and also regarding the respective “item levels” or the like, as which these then are supposed to be treated. Personal pet-peeve: There is no “power armor” in SFRPG—the correct name is “powered armor”, and oddly, the book suggests making Arcforge: Technology Expanded’s mechs behave as powered armor, which makes NO SENSE. They behave clearly as a vehicle that is closer regarding its mobility to a powered armor, but…again. What was I expecting? To properly translate the rules to SFRPG would take much more space than just a paragraph.

On the plus-side, weapon category translation from PFRPG to SFRPG makes sense, and we take the finesse/operative angle into account, and the pdf also provides a quick fix regarding the different types of automatic fire when using PFRPG weapons with automatic fire in SFRPG—the pdf suggests changing the PFRPG version’s name to “automatic (burst).” PFRPG charges count as ½ SFRPG charge, and charges sourced from a SFRPG-battery count as two charges for PFRPG weaponry. And yep, oddly there is no acknowledging of the fact that PFRPG’s version of automatic fire can allow for automatic long-range blasts, while SFRPG’s version, oddly, is more spray and pray, in spite of ostensibly using the higher tech…well…tech. This is, alas, symptomatic. As soon as you go into the details, the book falls apart.

The quick and dirty 2 gold = 1 credit conversion for item costs may work for some games, but it is, balance-wise, widely off. Compare the dark blue rhomboid ioun stone with its +2 to Perception and Sense Motive (+4 when reaching 10 ranks) in Pathfinder, with its aeon stone equivalent. In SFRPG. the item in SFRPG provides a +2 insight bonus to Perception and Sense Motive. Both very basic, right? No later scaling in SFRPG, so the PFRPG-version is better.

If you follow these guidelines, the PFRPG-item (price: 10K gold) would only cost 5,000 credits in SFRPG. Here’s the thing: The SFRPG aeon stone? Priced at 18,000 credits and item level 10. Those are the most basic examples I could find at a glance; better one exist, but this one is so straightforward, it’s impossible to dispute.

The system provided here is not even close to what the output should be, and this example is the most basic I could find. It does get worse.

Let me make that abundantly clear:

These guidelines DO NOT WORK and will destroy any semblance of balance your SFRPG game has.

As an aside, I’d also like to mention that, in SFRPG, the resource is credits, and NOT “CP.”

It gets so much worse. “In SF, characters are unable to wear more than two functioning magic items at a time. Given the sheer number of magic items that become available when PF content is allowed, players may wish for a way to circumvent this restriction. Hence, it is proposed that for every unused armor upgrade slot the character possesses in their armor, the character may wear and use an additional worn magic item.” (Arcforge: Star*Path, pg.11)

And this is where anybody obviously stopped caring about any notion of balance whatsoever. Because a mk1 electrostatic field is CLEARLY the equivalent of a 192,000 gold amulet. Clearly. Nobody ever took a look at this and thought: “I think there ought to be some differentiation based on price going on here.”????

There is a table of technological artifacts with horribly priced items. PFRPG’s power armor from the Technology Guide is seriously presented as a 150,000 credit item…you know, instead of with, I don’t know…PROPER POWERED ARMOR STATS FOR SFRPG.

Oh, and don’t even think that the high-level armor-benefits and damage outputs in SFRPG are in any way, shape or form balanced with the PFRPG-material converted to the system.

In summary: The conversion notes from PFRPG to SFRPG are a dismal failure that will break your SFRPG-game to smithereens.

So, does the conversion notes from SFRPG to the first edition of PFRPG fare better? So, we begin with a solid conversion regarding HD, classes with weapon specialization lose it, and Resolve is used as a regular pool for class abilities only. Spells lose Resolve cost, and since many items, feats and ship actions require Resolve as well, the pdf champions the introduction of yet another pool, namely surge points, which is equal  ½ HD or CR, + the creature’s highest ability score modifier. The pdf advises in favor of doubling static bonus gains and the conversion notes for each class are better than that for the PFRPG classes, making use of spell lists, proficiencies, spell casting categories. Ironic: In the per se simple race conversions, static bonuses should be racial in PFRPG as well – something missing from e.g. the shirren’s gifted linguist ability. Blindsense in PFRPG is also much stronger than in SFRPG. Still, as a whole, this is somewhat better than the first part of the book.

And then we come to global system changes: When using this variant, all characters get Precise Shot, Technologist, Weapon Finesse and Improved Unarmed Strike, even if they don’t meet the prerequisites. Oh, and for the purpose of prerequisites, all characters are treated as having the Combat Expertise, Dodge, Point-Blank Shot and Power Attack feats, and any Improved combat maneuver feats are not required for the purpose of prerequisites.

At this point, the book leaves conversion guideline territory, and becomes “essentially a massive hack to the game, with different expectations that any core game I know has.” On the plus-side, we get a table with some PFRPG-feats and the SF-version, noting which feat to use—you’d use SF’s Spring Attack, but PF’s Spell Focus, for example. Odd: The longer the pdf runs, the more typos there seem to be – superscripts not superscripted, a “h” missing from “heavy armor” and the like, but that as an aside. The translation of SFRPG critical hit effects to PFRPG works (they are realized with threat range/multiplier mods instead; not a fan of the design, but it does work), and Weapon Focus essentially now applies to item groups. The pdf also provides guidelines for damage die increases when using SFRPG weapons in PFRPG, and a handy chart that lists damage dice and average damage, which is helpful for non-designer GMs who can’t quickly calculate the like on the fly. But know what’s missing? Entirely? Damage conversion. Know how SFRPG-weapons can have insane base damage values in comparison with PFRPG? Guess what’s not even mentioned? Bingo. How to use these/convert these. The magic item/fusion conversion is btw. as wonky as you’d expect it to be.

The book next provides some VERY cursory guidelines for using SFRPG monsters in PFRPG—which’d be a good point to note that the pdf does mention Armor Penetration rules. These can be found in the Arcforge: Psibertech book, and not, as claimed here, in the Arcforge: Technology Expanded book. Not a complaint, mind you, but it’s something I noticed while testing these three books.

This is btw. the section where it all clicked for me: Why no proper modification of armor and weapons: The GM’s supposed to modify the encounters to make up for the ridiculous escalation of AC and weapon damage! While some general guidelines are presented, this presents a kind of problem not unlike the one witnessed, ironically, with Mythic Adventures BEFORE Legendary Games started bashing that system into a better shape and properly upgraded the adversaries, banned the broken bits, etc.

I was honestly chuckling there for a second—in a very, very bitter way. I don’t think this is worth it. The conversion breaks the game, knows it, shrugs its shoulders and tells the GM to “git gud” and play rocket launcher tag. As an aside: Numerous spell references are wrong here, and throwing more enemies at PCs, high initiative, negative statuses and environment can only go so far. This is not an acceptable or in any way salient way of handling conversion.

This should have received the attention and care to make it work for vanilla Pathfinder groups.

The book also contains new mechanics in the guise of PF1-archetypes:

The ace greaser mechanic gets a companion vehicle and may choose helmsman overcharges in place of mechanic tricks. The robot lord helmsman gets the mechanic’s artificial intelligence and custom rig instead of the bonded vessel stuff.

But there is more. Did a lot of the above sound familiar to you?  The disregard of balancing tools in both systems. The damage escalation. The fact that the book sees no issue in blatant power-escalation…well, the majority of archetypes herein are made with Path of War rules. And the shortcomings in the SFRPG to PFRPG-section suddenly make sense. If you can dish out ridiculous amount of damage and the design goal is to solo dragons, the SFRPG weapons won’t bother you (as much)—but they’ll be added to that, so sure you want that? Regarding math, a +20 AC matters less when you use a subsystem that is based partially on the assumption that you can substitute skill-checks for attack rolls, allowing you to boost your attacks in a ridiculous manner. When you can hit with a skill that you can buff by +5 for less than 1K gold, this lack of concern becomes suddenly understandable. When the system’s already changed regarding its base assumptions regarding PC and NPC power, undercutting prices and the like? Suddenly falls by the wayside.

In all brevity: Eliminator’s operatives get Steel Serpent, Tempest Gale and Thrashing Dragon, as well as the option to Claim targets as a swift action. This has a close range, and lasts for ½ class level rounds, and it makes you auto-succeed trick attacks against claimed targets. Legatus envoys get Golden Lion, Scarlet Throne and Tempest Gale…and…oh boy. Guess what? The ability to execute maneuvers through allies? You know, one of the rajah’s ridiculously strong abilities? This fellow has it. But guess what? While extremely potent, I’d allow this fellow in Path of War games. It’s a very strong option, but not as escalated as the rajah. Starknight solarians get Elemental Flux, Golden Lion, Riven Hourglass, Solar Wind and Veiled Moon. Their maneuvers are randomly granted in combat, somewhat akin to the crusader class of To9S of yore. Interesting: 2 disciplines are assigned to photon, two to graviton, while Elemental Flux is always an option. As such, stellar mode is modified into an animus ability (required for Elemental Flux). I like the blend of maneuver-and mode-engines here. For a Path of War game, it’s an interesting engine-tweak. The uplink warrior mechanic chooses here disciplines and uses them via exocortex, including an ability to gain temporarily combat feats. The zenith marine soldier gets four disciplines of their choice and a series of fixed immunities in exchange for 5 bonus feats and kill shot, which is a ridiculously good deal, but I kinda expected as much.

The pdf closes with a couple of solarian and technomancer options balanced for PFRPG (don’t use these in SFRPG!), and feats to adjust classes to the power-level of the fused systems – such as making trick attacks possible with all weapons, an option to use a mind blade and enhance is like a solar blade, etc. There is also a feat that lets you use PFRPG automatic weapons with the SFRPG automatic property. Ironically, the PFRPG automatic property is better in SFRPG, with its focus on longer-range combat, and the SFRPG automatic, with its spray and pray, is stronger in PFRPG…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not particularly impressive on a formal or rules-language level, particularly not for Legendary Games. There are plenty of formatting hiccups herein, with missed italicizations, capitalized things that shouldn’t be, etc. I also found quite a few typos. The rules-language level fares better, but only regarding the formal execution. If you even remotely value the balance of your game, take ANYTHING herein, even the components that seem to make sense or sound like true convictions and facts, with not a grain, but a large dose of salt. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matt Daley’s Star*Path didn’t really have as big a mountain to climb to my heart. I did not expect it to be exhaustive; it can’t be at this page count. I expected it to be helpful; incomplete, but genuinely helpful. All I wanted out of this book, was some tables, some math done for me, so I wouldn’t have to extrapolate as much. And I VERY MUCH wanted to like this book.

This needed to present some guidelines for GMs to decide when an ability converted from PFRPG to SFRPG needed a resource cost, some suggestions for pools and how they operate. This needed to get the magic translation from system to system right, provide guidelines for spells. And get the items right. All of these things, general design principles from which one can extrapolate special cases, could have easily fitted within the book’s 38 pages.

Instead, we get essentially useless, fragmentary class conversion starts that gobble up wordcount; utterly broken, worthless and handwaving pricing guidelines that don’t live up to the most cursory of scrutiny. The conversion notes are mired in specifics, when it should have provided WORKING general guidelines. The conversion to SFRPG is a colossal mess. Don’t use it.

The other way round fares a bit better; it’s not good either, though, and much like the other direction it is just as mired in specifics, which, while nice when they apply, was not what this book professed to be.

To make this abundantly clear: Whether you want to convert PFRPG to SFRPG, or vice versa—this book fails in delivering anything remotely balanced. For most groups, the material herein will not work. The conversion to SFRPG in particular is horribly uneven. I tried both directions and found both incredibly wanting.

That being said, there is one thing of value for a very select audience: The fused system based on PFRPG, with SFRPG-components spliced in, makes sense in a very abstract, theoretical manner. The assumed power-level of this fusion is greater than its parts, and the prevalence of Path of War-based material is testament to that. The notion of playing fast and loose with balancing in favor of a power-fantasy, the crucial defining feature of Path of War, is also prevalent here. So, if your aesthetic is that you should be able to solo dragons and don’t mind escalation beyond Path of War Expanded, then this fused system will have merit for you and your group.

If you wanted a solarian balanced against non-Path of War-PFRPG? Then I’d suggest the edgeknight by Interjection Games, a light/darkness-mode full-BAB class (see Ultimate Antipodism) that will not break your game, potentially with some power upgrades, depending on your game’s power level. For PFRPG, there are plenty of classes that fill SFRPG-class niches.

The only groups to whom I can really recommend this pdf, are those that play with Path of War, who also REALLY wanted to have the SFRPG-classes in PFRPG. For you, this may be a solid offering, though you’ll still have to rephrase all those abilities for smooth gameplay.

For me as a person, this book was worthless. I got nothing out of it.

Nothing at all. I will use nothing from this book ever again. For me, this is a 1-star dud.

As a reviewer, I consider it problematic, in that it professes to provide reliable metrics for conversions (see item conversion) with an air of conviction, but if you even slightly prod the numbers, they fall apart, making it a somewhat malign trap for less number-focused GMs.

Heck, the even remotely mathematically-inclined who went into some deep dives regarding the engines of the two systems will notice pretty much immediately that this doesn’t deliver what it needed to.

A book like this is certainly possible, but it needed to really get into the math and the grit of the systems and focus on getting the core translation right. This did not, and instead got lost in specifics without addressing the fundamental issues of the task at hand. For super high-powered groups, this can be an okay, if seriously flawed book; for all others, this is at best a dud, at worst a danger to the integrity of your game.

I wanted to love this. I hoped to adore it. I didn’t want a perfect conversion code, but I wanted a functional core from which one can extrapolate—because that’s what this book desperately needed to deliver. And didn’t.

My final verdict can’t exceed 1.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Arcforge: Star*Path
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Asian Monsters (5E)
by patrick m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2021 13:43:36

I thought it would have been nice toget wherethey from. Ifeltthereshouldhave been more. Iguess that's my own fault for havingexpectatio



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Monsters (5E)
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The cultural origins for the monsters in the book are listed on page 4, as part of the 3-page introduction discussing cultural origins and influences. Hope you're having fun using these monsters in your game! AUSTRALIA: moa, papinijuwari, tiddalik CAMBODIA: kmoch pray, neak ta CHINA: hundun, imperial dragons, jiang-shi vampire, nian, stone lion, terra-cotta rider, terra-cotta soldier INVENTED MONSTERS: colossal ape, colossal king ape, fire monkey, spawned yaoguai KAIJU MOVIES: Masura, Mogaru INDIA: asura, bhuta, garuda, jyoti, kabandha, naga, nagaji, pisacha, rakshasa, rakshasa ambari INDONESIA: megalania, orang-pendak, yeren JAPAN: aoandon, atuikakura, bakekujira, gaki, gashadokuro, harionago, harionna, hyakume, jinmenju, jorugumo, kami, kappa, kawa akago, kirin, kitsune, komainu, oni, pipefox, rokurokubi, tanuki, tsuchigumo, umibozu, yamata-no-orochi, yuki-onna, yūrei KOREA: bulgasari, gwishin, kyeryong, mulyong LAOS: flame naga MALAYSIA: penanggalen, polong MYANMAR: einsaung nat, lu nat PHILIPPINES: aswang, kapre, manananggal THAILAND: chang nam TIBET: srin-po, tiberolith VIETNAM: doc cu’o’c, kting voar, quyrua
Arcforge Campaign Setting: Spheres of Influence
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/04/2021 11:07:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Arcforge-series clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page ToC, 6 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This supplement was moved up in my reviewing queue, since the remainder of Arcforge was requested as well, but while I’m in the process of analyzing and purchasing the series, I figured that it would make sense to take a look at this, as this supplement doubles as a gazetteer of sorts for the setting.

It should be noted that the issues I have found within the first two Arcforge supplements do not influence this review; instead, I’ll tackle this in as thorough a manner as I can as its own entity. This is relevant in as far as the first Arcforge supplements codified psionics as Advanced Technology and Akasha as Cybertech. Personally, I’d suggest making these components operate primarily on a flavor level—something that, fyi, works rather well. So no, you do not need all the implications of no longer denoting these components as magic.

Similarly, Arcforge partially has the notion that it can use PFRPG and SFRPG in the same game. While my analysis of the pertinent file, Star*Path, is not yet complete, there is a definite tendency that lets me state even now said pdf does not manage to achieve this goal. Consequently, I will review the PFRPG and SFRPG content included herein as components divorced from each other.

Okay, that being said, the book does contain the genesis of the setting of Vandara, a world rich in magic and resources, primed to become a center of culture and sophisticated magitech… which would then change as the people of Vandara made contact with extravandarians…the Qlippoth. Chthonic, alien and mighty, the alien scourge cut swaths of devastation into the land, to only be vanquished by the creation of the eponymous Arcforge. And yet, as the external threat eased, humanoid nature prevailed and the nations of the mighty planet once more fell apart into factions, now armed with exceedingly potent high-tech magical weaponry.

From this baseline, one can already pinpoint several defining factors: Arcforge is a high science-fantasy setting, with the “science”-part having a higher focus than usual, but the fantastic is also deeply ingrained in the planet, which is, just fyi, a creation of the progenitor dragon species. With Outer Lords having ships that blot the very sun, Vandara brims with high-tech, and the Arcforge-mech-angle also means that there is a distinct Anime-angle infused in the setting; not in a Lodoss War way, but in one that reminded me more of ole’ Appleseed, Gundam, etc. One of the most interesting and helpful pieces of flavor provided here would be the 12 injunctions: Essentially a grand societal contract that the people of Vandara agreed upon; these injunctions prevent for example war crimes, atomic exchanges, etc., with the Qlippoth threat emphasized by being listed here. If you need an analogue, I’d consider them to be closer to Warhammer’s CHAOS than to regular demonic cultists.

Now, one thing that the author Matt Daley and I have in common would be a rather extensive tendency for permissiveness regarding various exotic and less-exotic 3pp-options, and indeed, the Arcforge setting does a couple of things I very much enjoy: It explains the place and context of a type of magic within the frame of the respective setting; So what actually, logic-wise, akasha is in Vandara? That’s explained. Same goes for psionics, for psychic magic, etc. Here are a couple of differences, though: Vandara overlaps with the ethereal plane, but otherwise is pretty isolated from standard planar cosmology due to the Silicon Barrier, which renders e.g. banishment etc. a painful (untyped damage) random teleport instead, and which means that summon spells? They actually draw from creatures in Vandara. The latter is a VERY important change of the core assumptions here, and one that can have very interesting and far-reaching consequences. The aforementioned barrier also prevents communication with any soul that perished prior to the creation of it, and raising the dead? It actually weakens outsiders of the respective creature’s alignment nearby.

The planet also features a magical alternative to the internet, loosely based on mindscapes, and the supplement then proceeds to give us an overview of the nations of Vandara, some supported by stunning artworks. All of this lore and the basic premise of the setting has me rather excited indeed; the setting is compelling and interesting, and manages to evoke a sense of a plausible world that touches upon familiar tropes without being just a reiteration of the old, also courtesy due to the rules informing to a significant degree the underlying premises of the setting.

On a rules-level, we have the arcforged champion class template for paladins and antipaladins, which can best be summed up as an option to make a mech-pilot paladin or antipaladin. It is a well-wrought and welcome option for Arcforge and does what it says on the tin.

Now, one basic premise you need to know regarding Arcforge, is that the setting uses a LOT of different subsystems, and not all of them necessarily operate within the same frame of reference, but it should also be noted that this supplement at least does show examples of crossover options that are interesting: Let us take the 4 new armorist tricks (for the Spheres of Power class); the minor layout hiccups (a superscript missing, the “S” of “SoP” has been added to the “armorist”-word) aside, we have e.g. the option to reduce enhancement bonus from the armorist to gain the soulknife’s emulate technological weapon blade skills; this does represent a power-upgrade, but Spheres of Power is a system that is geared towards an (often) more down-to-earth power-level, whereas Arcforge, courtesy of its other systems, tends to gravitate to the higher power-levels. In a way, this can be seen as a power-increase, yes, but one in line with the higher-powered paradigms implied by the setting. The “magical” “call me”-type of mech also gets a representation here, which is, obviously, a powerful option, but one that perfectly fits within the context of the world; conversely, if that sort of thing does not gel with your aesthetics, its limitations make it easy to discard from your iteration of Vandara. There also are a few rules-relevant components that might be construed to be problematic, such as a +2 enhancement bonus increase that does not specify the usual cap these have. Using spell points to rapidly change mech enhancements will be welcomed by people who want their mechs more magical/flexible.

While we’re on the subject of Spheres of Power: We also have a symbiat archetype, the technopath; regarding the core engine, the technopath is interesting, foregoing telekinetic manipulation for the option to transfer sprites as immediate actions, a kind of mental super-defense field and linkage, etc. —per se cool; I’m not a fan of the untyped bonus employed by the optimize ability, though. Wait. Sprite. Need to talk about that, right? Well, the pdf includes a new sphere, the Technomancy sphere.

This sphere lets you, as a standard action, generate sprites, technomagical entities within constructs or technological items, which persist as long as you concentrate, or 1 minute per level sans concentration if you spend a spell point. While such a program exists in such an object, you may run one of 4 different programs: Drain does what it says on the tin and drains a charge on a failed save, and constructs instead get a scaling debuff. Interfere can negate the action of another sprite, even when it’s not your turn. Power generates a charge, or acts as a buff. The former is problematic, as it generates infinite charges and lends itself to infinite healing exploits and similar tricks, particularly since the charges gained also increase. This would get a hard limit per item per day in my game, or the ban hammer. This one needs a caveat or a proper non-exploit agreement between players and GMs. Transfer makes the sprite move to another host in close range. While close range is a technical term, it’d have been more convenient to have the distance spelled out. Also: The core ability does not specify a range, and both touch and close would make sense, though this usage of the sphere makes close the more likely culprit. Note that each sprite can only execute ONE of these per round, which means there’s theoretically some cool strategizing going on here. I can see users of these spheres pit their sprites against each other in a compelling manner. 16 talents are also included for the sphere, including new programs to unlock for the sprites, which are set apart by the (program) tag; these include skill boosts due to analyzing targets (annoyingly untyped and the verbiage includes a few skill references not in title case), and e.g. making the target deal additional damage; ideally, the damage type would specify that this uses the host’s damage type, but yeah. Other talents let sprites assimilate charges they Drain and use them to Power other objects; see above. Concealed sprites etc. can also be found, and having sprites from a destroyed host evacuate to other targets? Yeah, can see that. If you also have the divination sphere, you can divine for sprites, which was a nice touch. For completion’s sake: Yes, the sphere’s abilities sometimes prompt Fortitude saves, and objects/constructs are usually exempt, but considering the exclusive focus of the sphere, I don’t consider the omission of an exception-clause for this particular rule to be a problematic. Mathematically, it should be noted, though, that courtesy of these immunities, constructs do not have adequate saves to reliably resist these effects. As a consequence, implementing the sphere on the player’s side does require some contemplation on the GM’s side, and a likewise implementation…or a modification of the construct type’s chassis. It also should be noted that the sphere effects tend to cap at 20th level, which most Spheres of Power-based options do not. HOWEVER, personally, I do think that this makes sense (and that Spheres of Power would have benefited from hard caps. Just my 2 cents.

The advanced talents include transforming targets into Ais, controlling mechs, or making sprites permanent – super-powerful, high-concept…and honestly? All well-situated in the advanced talents sphere. Unlike many a sphere, here the differentiation is VERY clear in conceptual power, and while the core sphere isn’t perfect, the differentiation between those parts? Smooth indeed.

The pdf also offers an incanter sphere specialization for the sphere, which makes your sprites more resilient to interference and also nets you buffs versus sprite hosts. I think the level 1 ability is too dippable here, and I’m not too fond of the unified energy ability; I can construct an exploit out of it, but it’s an obscure enough one to not repeat it here. I was rather fond of the sprite-based prodigy-imbue sequence and its system overload finisher. The one boon provided is brutal: Techno-Miraculous makes attempts to counterspell or dispel you fail automatically, unless the target has the Technomancy sphere or Harmonic Counter (one of 7 new feats; lets you use Counterspell feats vs. technological equipment). As noted before, this “separate”-angle imho doesn’t work too well in PFRPG, but YMMV; personally, I’d rather roll the Harmonic Counter into the regular engine, but that may be me. Two drawbacks are included, and for Spheres of Might we have a talent that nets proficiency with all heavy weapons.

The other feats include two (Dual-Sphere) feats, one for use of Life Sphere with tech, and one that lets you use sprites and Mind sphere to make constructs valid targets; the latter makes sense on many levels to me. There is another feat that nets transparency between spells and psionics, and one that lets you one-hand two-handed weapons at a -2 penalty. Not a fan, also because of the massive array of consequences this has for weapons, but I guess this is a bit of genre-pandering. You might consider it awesome instead. Magical Lorekeeper lets you poach spells from other members of your spellcasting tradition, but fails to account for how the situation of a spell with different spell-levels for different classes is handled. Soul Keeper is an outsider feat that lets you hold souls and be buffed by killing. 12 casting and mixed traditions are also provided.

There is one more pathfinder archetype to note: The zoomer for the powerful (and very interesting) voyager class; now, I’ve gone on record stating that I adore a lot about that fellow, even if the voyager is pretty damn potent and beyond what I’m comfortable allowing in most of my games. Most of them. The zoomer, essentially, is the mech-version of the class, and may e.g. use the vehicle they get as a the location of her parallel action range; the archetype is an excellent rendition of the zipping, space-bending ace-pilot we know from various anime series, often as the nigh unstoppable enemy who ends up being pretty fragile. Considering the voyager chassis, this makes sense. On the down-side, the formatting glitches here and there, like e.g. an ability-header that’s not bold…well, that did make my face twitch. There also is a “call mech to you” vigilante archetype, just fyi.

The Starfinder content presented herein is in a way unconventional, as they are class-specific archetypes; in short, they operate like PFRPG-archetypes, not like the blanket archetypes SFRPG usually employs. I’m okay with that per se. The Industrial priest technomancer is a divine spellcaster, and they get a variant cache capacitator. Annoying: Spell-list formatting of the available spells is borked completely, and yes, it includes PFRPG spells, I assume due to StarPath. One of the abilities lets the technomancer spend Resolve to convert half damage dealt to untyped holy or unholy; not a fan. In a way, this is a good point to state one of the issues that StarPath encountered, and that would be the cardinal issue I have with Arcforge: The assumption of global parities between sub-systems and powers, and here, systems. PFRPG and SFRPG look a lot alike, and play in a similar manner, but with some experience under the belt, the differences become evident, even if one doesn’t engage in a deep math analysis. So yeah, I’m not a fan of this one; the machine voice envoy who can affect constructs and gets a custom rig? Okay, here I wasn’t really sure why it exists, to be honest, and the scholastic technomancer is essentially a book-caster version…which, again, struck me as a weird choice.

In PFRPG, some options may be a bit rough, but I see why they’re here; the SFRPG options, on the other hand, don’t feel like they were really made for the system, and oddly look like filler to me; none of the excitement of the design decisions in the remainder of the book can be found with them.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level; when it comes to a rules-language level, the pdf, alas, attains an at-best “okay” rating; there were several instances of formatting hiccups, some even in ability names, and the rules-language also has some wide-open exploits and minor omissions that tarnish what is a per se inspired basic set-up. The pdf is certainly not up to the usual level of polish Legendary Games supplements tend to have. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a blend of old and new full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matt Daley’s Arcforge-setting, on a conceptual level, has truly captured my interest; I really like it, and it appeals to the scifi-fan in me as well as the mecha-fanboy; the SETTING is one I’d genuinely enjoy playing in, and it is obvious that some serious passion for PFRPG went into this. This feels like a passion-project from top to bottom, and I can really appreciate this. I did not expect to say this after the hit and miss and frustration of the first two books, but I like the setting and want to know more. It has this sense of genuine passion and excitement that are hard to come by.

As a reviewer, this book, though, leaves me in a weird state. Now, reviewing Arcforge is a TON of work due to all the things you have to bear in mind, and I might be wrong, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a dev, any dev, would have thrown their hands in the air at one point. It’s also hard to review, because Arcforge’s core books got so much almost right, only to then add in options for parity that upended the very systems the books provided.

In many ways, I can see why this was hard to work on. Which is a shame, for this supplement feels, as a whole, a bit smoother than the first 2; there is a higher consistence regarding the (high) power-level of the setting, if post Ultimate Psionics-psionics (i.e. the REALLY powerful stuff that doesn’t work smoothly with most of Paizo-PF anymore)/C7S-permissible stuff is your jam, then this is well worth checking out.

If you play PFRPG. The SFRPG-options are afterthoughts, at best, and it is clear where the focus of this book did lie. For SFRPG-fans, I’d recommend steering very far away from this supplement, unless you consider the flavor to be sufficient to warrant the purchase. Design-wise, there is nothing interesting in here for SFRPG. Personally, I’d have been ROYALLY pissed if I had bought this as a SFRPG supplement.

How to rate this? Oh boy. So, the pdf is a bit rough in the formal criteria, and there are several instances where bonuses that shouldn’t be untyped are untyped, etc.; there are several instances of those necessary little caveats missing…damn, this is SO CLOSE to being an easy recommendation.

But I can’t rate hypotheticals. I like what’s here as a person. But the amount of stuff I’d use from this book without a very careful re-evaluation/re-design is rather low indeed. So, let’s look at focus: We have 8 pages of rules stuff, with one of them lost to the almost useless pseudo-SFRPG-stuff; the remainder of the supplement is the setting…and that setting? Well, I really enjoyed it. So: For SFRPG? Dud, 1.5 stars, steer clear. For PFRPG: If you like high-powered, enjoy a very permissive game, and don’t mind a bit of fixing? Worthwhile investing the work. But there is more to take into account: The setting is intriguing, and the pdf only clocks in at a VERY fair $2.00. Two bucks? HECK YES, this is worth two frickin’ bucks. The VERY low price point does help offset the flaws of the supplement…plus the setting? It genuinely entertained and intrigued me. It has a quality of distinctiveness that sets it apart and makes it resonate. These two components are ultimately responsible for why my final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up. For PFRPG.

As noted above: caveat emptor if you tend to gravitate to lower power-levels and are not willing to invest some time to streamline the rougher parts. In that instance, you should consider this to be closer to the 3-star-vicinity.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arcforge Campaign Setting: Spheres of Influence
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Akashic Classes: Kheshig
by VITOR A. D. O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2021 10:13:53

Keshig is a class that builds upon the "Akashic Mysteries" sub-system made by Dream Scarred Press "Akashic Mysteries" which is based itself in the "Magic of Incarnum" from the good ol' 3.5 days.

The class was made to fill the "Fighter" role, so its a basic class which is great for new players and people how want to try the sub-system but don't know how or where to start. That said, it's also a very customizable class, that you can safely adapt to any playstyle you like to play a "fighter". Ex: One-handed fighter, Two-handed fighter, Bow user, Unarmed Combat, etc.

But for me, the "meat" of this suplement are the new veils. Those my friend, are amazing. The [Enhanced] veils are my favorites and a great way to balance the "weapon-like veils" published previously in other suplements. Almost every veil here can be the focus and inspiration for a new character, so if its variety you looking for, you just found it! This suplement has a total of 57 veils!

There are some veils here and there that could use some polish, the veil that gives you what is basicaly "Monk's Bonus AC" should make it clear it does not stack with Monk's Bonus AC (and other abilities like it). It's not a perfect PDF, but is anything perfect?

For everything it brings to the table: the flavourful options, the fun mechanics and the new, easy to pick up class this is more than enough for me to recommend this suplement. I have being using it non-stop since I got it and I don't see myself stoping any soon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Classes: Kheshig
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Battlemasters & Berserkers
by Chris B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/27/2021 19:31:31

So I have to say that I am a little disappointed with this KS backed book. Before I continue though, I will point out that there are quite a few good things in here. And what I'm disappointed with is not bad so much as weird or I don't see the point of.

I'll try to show the mostly positive stuff first. The layout and presentation are excellent. Clear, concise, and easy to read. That's always a plus. Now, onto the meat of the book.

Most of the Fighter Subclasses are neat ideas, usable except for tthree. Although I'm not entirely sure of the constant need to add Wisdom or Charisma stats for certain things. The Chainmaster bothers me because the 5e play-testers fought hard to get rid of single weapon specialists. Even the Monk's Kensai doesn't do this, which this would be better for anyway. And the Guardian is pointless when I can do everything better with two feats and a Fighting Style by level 2. And the Gladiator shows that really, there needs to an alternate rules option for fantasy sword and sorcery play. But again, most of the rest of the class are interesting ideas.

Most of the Barbarian subclasses, the same. Some I want to like, but... Path of the Destroyer is built around breaking the enemy's items. But the best way to break a weapon, is to break the warrior wielding it. Still, most of them are functional, if somewhat limited in application. And Primal Fury is cute, but not entirely too sure about. Still, willing to let players try them out for themselves.

I love the alternate class features and rage powers though, which again is a mixed bag, but the fact of the matter is that you can mix and match adds flavour and that's always appreciated in my book. The brands and severing limbs are also fun additions, although I think that the severing could have used some expansion. But then I'm always up for finding ways for the Fighting Men of D&D to end fights harder and faster, then forcing the Wizard and Magic to do it for them.

The Backgrounds are nice, I like them, even if most of them are just extensions of the basic Player Handbook alternate background features. But that's part of their appeal, more flavour is always nice. The Magic Items section is also pretty nice, with lot's of cool, if a little too setting focused.

The Fighter/Barbarian in 'other genres' is unnecessary, as most already know this, not to mention this weird apologetic tone for the Barbarian tribes section. We know it's fantasy, we understand, don't worry.

But here's my biggest issues: The Feats and Weapons sections. Most of the feats are cute, but I'm not sure the authors understand what they're meant to be. Small packets of at least two to three slightly special abilities to enhance the character, some of them are better off as either in game manoeuvres or part an actual Feat.

My biggest bug bear are the weapons, though. The reason the 5e core books don't have the Katana or Bastard Swords listed is because the Long Sword is meant to cover them. A Long Sword is any blade between 3-4.5ft in length, able to be used in one or two hands. Anything bigger is now a Great Sword, smaller, Show Sword. And the extra weapon 'tags' are unnecessary. Finally, I'm not sure the authors understand that Reach means the weapon can go out to 10ft, often making them that long too.

All in all, however, it's a good book, despite my gripes, I still say it's worth what I paid for.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Battlemasters & Berserkers
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Akashic Classes: Kheshig
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2021 15:10:09

So what in Abaddon is a Kheshig?

Introduction The Keshig is the second in a new series of Akashic Classes by Legendary Games, which is an amazing company that maintains a high production value and quality. The Volus was a really good first entry for the series. But can they maintain the quality in this realm of Akashic Magic? Read on!

What’s inside? 36 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 10 bucks, which include:

-The Kheshig Akashic class: Before I get into the class, I again got intrigued by the name and found that the Kheshig, favored/blessed in Mongolian, were the imperial guard and bodyguards of the Mongolian royalty, like Ghengis Khan himself! A great name for a protector/tank class!

Anyway, Kheshig is a veilweaving class, with a warrior chassis (full BAB/d10 HD, good Fortitude AND Will save, simple and martial weapons and all armor and shield proficiencies, including tower shields), but more skilled (4 skill points for 15 skills, including physical, social and some scholarly options) that has many core abilities.

Fighting Style: at 1st and 4th levels, the Kheshig learns a fighting style, from a list of 7 (basically 2 weapons, weapon and shield, one handed weapon and a free hand, two-handed weapon, unarmed, ranged volley and ranged snipe). At 7th and 10th, the Kheshig gets to improve one of their two chosen fighting style. While most of this fighting styles are just a specific bonus feat (or two in the case of the ranged ones), there are some nice unique abilities. I am not sure about how the Titan Weapon style works, since it can damage even dodge-based defenses. I would have worded it that if it doesn’t connect to normal AC but would connect against touch AC, it deals the damage. Cool array of options that will sadly typecast characters (not an uncommon thing among martials).

Veilweaving: Kheshig have wisdom-based veilweaving abilities (nice, not enough wisdom-based veilshapers), going from 1 to 6 veils shaped during their progression and have the possibility to get up to 6 binds from among all 10; interestingly, they get to CHOOSE some of these binds from among a small lists (two low, to middle, one high, and one “whole”). All in all, VERY powerful options, AND a Kheshig can beat even Viziers in the level race to get access to binds. This is problematic since each chakra has a level requirement, with very few exceptions.

Their maximum essence capacity also increases thrice, another common aspect of Akashic classes but I’m not sure this is ok for a class with this chassis. It can be argued that of the two other Akashic melee-ers, Daevics and Solars, the later DO get the 3 increases too, so ok. The Kheshig also gets the ability to shape up to two veils with their Akashic Armory ability, as long as these veils have the so-called Enhanced descriptor; a nice aspect of this ability is that these veil don’t take a Chakra slot, so you could have a hands veil plus an enhanced hands veil. There is another “small” problem here, since at least the “weapon” veils can be bound to ANY Chakra at level 2! Body bind? The ones that are like veilweavers’ capstones and mostly gotten at level 20? Yeah, at level 2! Even if the veils contained here don’t have binds to the body slot (and at least one do), this is not the only veil source out there, so in my opinion this ability need to be polished. The “armor” veil doesn’t suffer from this ability since the extra Chakra-bind doesn’t happen until 18th level.

To empower these 6+2 veils, plus their “bodyguard” ability, the Kheshig kind of follows the medium-BAB progression for essence but 1 level faster, starting with 1 and finishing with 15. They get extra essence that can’t be used for veils, though. At every 3 levels, they get the “reinforced” ability, which gives them 5 extra hit points AND an extra point of essence that can empower veils. Nice, but it would have been better if put in the class table, under the essence column, after a +.

The class-defining ability would be Essence-Bound Duty, which links you to a “charge”, and is a great ability concept-wise. The execution? Not so much. When D^D transitioned from 2nd to 3rd edition, one of the things they got the F away from was miss chances. Magic Resistance was a percentile-based defense mainly found in monsters and some OP non-core PC races. It was great when you resisted a meteor swarm, but it was a B when your opponents did the same. It-s main problem is that it didn’t take into account the power of the caster, and there were incredibly few ways to lower it. In 3rd edition they changed it to work in a way similar to AC, a much more elegant solution. So, why do I mention it? Because with a one-hour ritual, your Charge gets a 10% miss chance against PHYSICAL attacks AND spells that don’t also target the Kheshig. This is way too strong, because it negates smites, criticals, and any special attack the opponent uses, PLUS spells and powers, BUT does nothing about attacks that are not spells… like veils. Your charge has to be in your line of sight, but if you are within 15 feet, the percentage doubles. With essence, you increase the miss chance by 5% each! If we take into account that essence capacity normally gets up to 4, but Kheshigs get 3 improvements, and with a feat you get one more… you can invest 8 essence for a whopping +40%, for a total of 50% that DOUBLES WITHIN 15 FEET! We are talking about the highest levels of play here, but come on! There are a lot of ridiculous situations this can lead to. The Keshig protecting a warrior at distance in a contest to cheat, or my favorite… 2 high level Kheshig protecting each other! Immune to physical combat!

As you can see, the basic ability is broken as all hell. I would give the charge a deflection bonus to AC, or DR, and resistance to saves, both improved if the Kheshig is near but not doubling the bonus. Maybe give the charge a higher bonus if they were really weak, maybe even evasion, and lowering its power if the charge was higher level than the Kheshig. THEN I could stomach the ability. But as it is? Well. Apart from this, the ability advances in a couple of ways. When someone attacks your charge, it becomes marked until you damage them OR a minute has passed. You get free movement (15 feet plus 5 per essence invested) as long as you get closer to the marked, and you get you veilweaving modifier (Wisdom) as a bonus to attack the marked, plus 1d6 damage that increases by 1 die every 3 levels (7d6), that is Akashic damage that can be reduced/resisted. I think this bonus to attack should be limited to your level to prevent dipping, and the damage is too much for my taste but not OP. At 5th you get immediate movement (too much if you count the free movement you get as a base, plus your normal movement) if your charge is attacked, but only if you end adjacent to your charge, AND you can automatically redirect the original attack to yourself with no roll needed, and your charge becomes immune to fear. At 9th your charge gets the hardness of a veil (cool), and they get temporary hp similar to a veil’s. At 13th, marks now last for 1 minute or at the end of any turn where you damage the marked foe, and out of the blue you become immune to mind-affecting effects. Such a powerful ability would at least deserve its own entry in the class table and class feature section, and flat-out immunity is too much. At 17th level, your charge becomes immune to death effects (cool, and ok at the level gained), and if your charge would be reduced below 1 hp, you can receive that excess damage.

Finally, the Kheshig becomes immune to aging, removes all existing aging effects and cannot be magically aged at 19th, and at 20th they get a Karmic Justice capstone ability that makes all damage inflicted by marked foes that doesn’t include you is also inflicted halved on the marked.

If you don’t want to be a protector, you can choose to be a hunter, you can change Essence-bound Duty and Karmic Justice, and let’s just say that, while powerful, it is way less busted than the original. Finally, the Kheshig includes 2 general Favored Class Bonuses for any character, and that’s it.

-8 feats: 1 makes you a good bodyguard and 3 of them are Combat feats (one for shields and two for one-handed combat, although these ones are kind of busted, getting up to +7 dodge bonus to AC). The other 4 deal with the weaponry veils, one lets you enchant your own veils, increasing the creation DC if you don’t have a prerequisite. However, this can be completely ignored by another feat that lets you change the configuration of abilities each time you shape your veil, and one even gives you the ability to auto-enhance all veils you shape, by having a kind of “track” of enhancements that apply to each veil. Some of these might have been class features of the Kheshig, since as they stand they are too good to pass on by most veilshapers. The only one I’m going to use without modification is one that lets you store a weapon veil in the feat, and you can change it with the one you shaped for the day. Cool!

-1 new weapon: Armored Fist, a new weapon that has the new “unarmed” special ability, which lets you use any unarmed special ability, and if enhanced passes the enhancements to all your unarmed attacks AND even some natural attacks. RIP Amulet of Mighty Fists (sigh). A really nice idea, but the execution? Not so much.

-Veilweaving section: As in the Volur book, here we have a pimped-up section that AGAIN doesn’t include the ability to suppress your own veils. Apart from this, the book includes 4 new veil descriptors. Enhanced is the most important, since it affects all combat equipment veils and many class features and feats in this book. As I mentioned in my review of the Stormbound, I think this ability is interesting but care must be taken since, at it is, it eliminates the need for magical weapon and armor. Why? Because one of the beauties of Akashic Magic is that everyone can access any non-special veil by taking a feat, and any warrior would want an immortal, enhanced weapon, shield and/or armor. This lets any character steps in the toes of classes like the Aegis, Soulknife or Zodiac. Of course it costs money, but the cost is not increased like when using an Amulet of Mighty Fists, and even there the Amulet itself can be sundered. This ability BEGS to be costlier and more developed, including the possibility of damaging the enhancement of the veil. And wait, it also makes you proficient in the weapon/armor shaped, so forget about taking any Armor or Weapon Proficiency feats AND just take Shape Veil. Armor even appears on you when shaped!

The Steady descriptors change the way DC to save from veils work, using the normal formula for special attacks. Paired is a descriptor that can accompany Enhanced veils, and basically shares the enhancement from the veil to the “paired” weapon, shield or unarmed. The final descriptor is Undetectable, which makes veils REALLY difficult to detect. Like in the Volur book, here you can find the Kheshig’s veil list. It is very small, but Kheshig also include ALL veils in this book (57!).

-14 weapon veils: These… are really cool! After a kind of sour taste from the previous sections, we find really cool options, and some of these have mini-engines that make them more dynamic in combat. There are some that need polish or a hit with the Nerf bat, but all in all are a cool addition to the weapon veils already there. Some of my faves include: Blade of Stone and Air is a cool bastard sword that has two modes, depending if you use it one or two handed, and generate a charge for the opposite element that can be spent in unique maneuvers. Dancing Glaive (and the also the Staff of Ten-Thousand Truths) is the kind of thing I have been waiting for since I started playing D&D 3rd, converting you into a martial artist that can fight with a 2-handed weapon AND still attack unarmed. Hardlight Axe can give you twin axes AND let you attack at range as if you were in melee, with strong Castlevania vibes. Speaking of cool vibes, Juggernaut Blade gives you a sword so massive that you can use it AND even enchant it as a shield, Dragon Slayer from Berserk much? Eff yeah! AND you get the option to perform some cool maneuvers. Mark of the Gate Guardian gives you twin shields… however, as written, it doesn’t specify that these shield bonus stack, so I guess it needs to include that this is a special exception. Still Waters, Clear Skies is the “weapon” I mentioned had more than simple hand Chakra-bind, including hand, feet, shoulder AND body! Why? Because this veil emulates an ancient martial artist’s style! So, Kheshig can at 2nd level get the benefits of the body bind… which to my surprise is not really THAT OP, but still… An awesome veil notwithstanding!

-5 ranged weapon veils: These ones are also cool, even if they ALSO need some polish and Nerf-batting. Black Iron Cannon is a massive ship’s cannon that can be used as a great club! It deals WAY too much damage, attacks touch AC, and binding it reduces its “balance” caveat. Cerulean Bow mentions its ties to its “past” (the Incarnum system), and while it has an interesting engine, it is WAY TOO BROKEN! Dance of Daggers is another cool idea, bad execution, since in the feet of a monk, it can destroy whole units! Der Freischütz creates a rifle that never misfires… a no-brainer feat for Gunslingers, without counting its abilities. Wolfhound’s Crossbow is the last one, and is my favorite one and the least broken. The major problem of this section is the firearms, since it eliminates their balancing caveat… their rarity of not only the weapon itself, but also its blackpowder AND munitions.

-8 armor veils: These veils include 2 full-plates, 2 breastplates, 2 leathers (both with no max Dex bonus) and two unarmored armors. These last two add any enhancement they have as armor bonuses that don’t stack with normal armor. Weird, since they normally are counted as enhancement bonuses to your AC that stack with base armor, so if you had a +5 leather armor and +8 bracers of armor, you would have a total of +13 armor bonus (the higher of your armor bonuses plus the enhancement bonus). My guess is that this was used as a balancing factor, but that is not the way it should work. Anyway, I will cover one of each. Armor of Steel and Silk is a breastplate that has two modes, one that enhances your protection against melee and another against ranged. Juggernaut Plating is a full-plate that transform you into The Juggernaut from Marvel, giving you great demolishing abilities. Superior Reflexes is an unarmored armor that gives you your veilweaving-modifier to AC, with no mention of not stacking with the monk’s AC bonus. And Tattered Clothes give you a miss chance that increases each time your opponents miss… sigh. Another cool batch of veils that again need to be polished.

-30 general veils: The final section of the book. I liked most of the veils. Just to mention a few: Charred Angel Wings give you a ranged attack that impedes flying! However, as written, the attack can only be used against flying targets, and completely destroys flying encounters; this is a steady veil, so its DC will always be high, and it can be increased by essence! OP even if it is situational, but the imagery is awesome! The humble Delver’s Gloves, when boun to the headband, let’s you see in magical darkness! Grace of the Goddess is an amazing healer’s veil that, while it doesn’t heal hp, it helps you both in magical and non-magical healing. The really cool Honeycomb Necklace gives you the great thematic ability of becoming “honey-tongued” that, if you fail at persuading, let’s you VOMIT A BEE SWARM! Lion’s Heart makes you immune to fear and resistant to mind-affecting effects. Mask of the Hunter is a Ranger’s wetdream, Visage of Hunger is an awesome veil that gives you a bite attack while frightening people around you, and Wildfang Necklace let you roar to buff allies around you, and can even dispel fear effects on your allies when bound! There are many winners here that can be used just as they are, some need polishing/nerfing, and then there’s Dark Heart. I wouldn’t allow this veil since it lets you nova very easily and can frustrate players when they botch their nova, since it leaves them in a really bad shape.

Of Note: The imagery conjured by the options found in this book are really cool!

Anything wrong?: As noted during my review, this book need another round or two of balancing AND polishing. ALL of it.

What I want: Sigh… The last book in this line excited me way less at the beginning, but I ended liking it. This one? The exact opposite. I was very excited and was left blue, because of the unrealized potential. I BEG Legendary Games to give this book the polish is deserved.

What cool things did this inspire?: A lot! Some of the veils are really character-defining, and if I have the time I will make some archetypes for non-Akashic classes, I at least have a Ranger and a Paladin one already lurking in my mind!

Do I recommend it?: As it is, sadly no. I would recommend this book only to those people that have the time, patience and system knowledge to “fix” it. I would rate the crunch as 2, the fluff as 5, for an average of 3.5, rounded down because I don’t think this book deserves the same score as the Volus. So, 3 stars it is. HOWEVER, I’m willing to change my rating if this book gets the improvement it deserves.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Classes: Kheshig
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Legendary Adventures: Epic 5E
by Sir R. B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2021 21:54:54

Just received my books. Although I have not had time to play, I have thumbed through. I very much look forward to diving into this and squeezing every ounce of adventure out of it. Fantastic art work!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Adventures: Epic 5E
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Akashic Classes: Volur
by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2021 14:30:12

So what in the abyss is a Volur?

Introduction The Volur is the first in a new series of Akashic Classes by Legendary Games, which is an amazing company that maintains a high production value and quality. Can they maintain the quality in this realm of Akashic Magic? Read on!

What’s inside? 23 pages of content (not counting covers, ads etc.) for 7 bucks, which include:

-The Volur class: Before I get into the class, I got intrigued by the name and found some interesting things. Apparently, Volür are ancient Norse female seers, an Indian lake where two rivers confluence, and a Canadian metal band. I liked the connections with seers, and the confluence of the rivers has some ties with the abilities of the class… and I like metal LOL

Anyway, Volur is a veilweaving class, with a wizard-like chassis (low BAB/d6 HD, good Will save, simple weapons and light armor proficiencies, plus bucklers), but more skilled (4 skill points for 21 skills, including physical, social and scholarly options) that has 3 main abilities.

Veilweaving: Volur have modest charisma-based veilweaving abilities, going from 1 to 6 veils shaped during their progression and having 7 binds (feet, head, shoulders, headband, neck, belt and body), but their veil list includes veils for all 10 slots; their maximum essence capacity also increases thrice, another common aspect of akashic classes. To empower these 6 veils, the Volur gets 1 point of essence per level, like most Akashic classes out there. It is worth noting that their veilweaving is their only class feature that depends on essence, since most akashic classes have other ways to invest it, so feel free to invest it in your favorite veils.

Brandweaving: This book includes 16 new veils with the Brand descriptor, which mark them as special debuffing veils (more info below). HOWEVER, the Volur gets to shape them in a different, unique way. By brandweaving a veil, it doesn’t occupy a slot, is treated as if invested with max essence, and determines its DC using the formula of special attacks (10 + ½ Volur level + Cha mod). Volur go from 1 brand at 1st level to 5 at 18th. Starting at 3rd level, they can treat some of their brandweaved veils as bound without requiring a chakra slot, regardless of the chakra, ending with all brands bound at 20th. This could be problematic since the level at which you get chakra binds is an important balance caveat. As masters of brand veils, Volur can later place more than one at a time AND can place and maintain them at longer ranges. A funny design glitch is that they get to mass brand faster that they get extra brands, even finishing with the ability to apply 6 brands at 20th level when they only get access to 5 brands. There is the possibility that, if you shape a brand using your normal veil slots, you COULD benefit from this ability, but I would’t do that since you wouldn’t get all the special benefits of brandweaving, but the possibility is there if you want.

Akashic Spirit: Each Volur start with the company of an AS, which regenerates fully when shaping veils if damaged. The spirit can manifest physically or can merge with the Volur’s essence and basically ceases to exist. While I wouldn’t call the Volur a pet class, the AS works more like a familiar, a tiny outsider companion born from the knowledge stored in the Akashic Records that has a slime-like appearance, can’t hold things or wear armor, but CAN wear other magical items. Like other familiars/animal companions, this AS has its own progression table, which includes common things like evasion, shared senses, telepathic link, spell resistance and ability score increases, and can deliver akashic touch or touch attack effects. The AS starts with 10 in all ability scores but Dexterity, which gets a 16 (10 in strength for tiny? wow).

Each AS can take many forms, 16 in fact, depending on the aspectual circle they are tied to. Each of the 4 Aspectual Circles include 4 aspect options, and the Volur starts with access to 1 circle and get access to another at 7th and 16th levels, never getting access to all 4 circles. Each aspect dictates the appearance of the AS, gives it a new form of movement, and gives the Volur a passive supernatural ability. At 6th level, the Volur can embody the AS’ aspect, changing his appearance and getting a new ability. The 4 circles are:

-The Circle of the Cycle includes the aspects of Decay, Growth, Life and Death. Their themed abilities include temporary hit points, the decay of detrimental effects that decreases its duration, changing the positive/negative energy “polarity”, and all of their embodied abilities manifest as powerful auras. The most powerful aspect in my opinion and one I would allow only at a higher level.

-The Circle of the Elements is weirdly not tied to the 4 basic elements, but their energies (acid, electricity, fire and ice). All of them change your AS’s slam damage to the appropriate energy, give you a stacking resistance to said energy, and the embodiment of acid and ice give you a defensive ability, while the ones for electricity and fire give you an offensive one.

-The Circle of the Wilds’ 4 aspects are Avians, Mammalians, Piscines and Verminia. Each gives you a modest situational skill bonus and if embodied lets you transform into a small, medium or large-sized animal or magical beast.

-The Circle of the World does includes the aspects of the 3 remaining classical elements, Air, Earth and Water, plus Plants. Their abilities are a bit more powerful/useful than the last Circle’s, and if embodied the World’s aspects change you into an elemental-like creature.

Finally, the Volur includes 2 general Favored Class Bonuses for any character, 4 Circle-improving FCB for the 4 non-human blooded core races, and one for humans that can increase the DC of a specific brand veil. Remember that both half-elves and half-orcs can access their parents’ racial FCB.

-5 feats: 4 of these let you dabble in Volur-ness, letting you maintain brands at longer ranges or branding two opponents at the same time, and letting familiar summoners call an Akashic Spirit (bound to a specific aspect), an even embody it at higher levels with another feat. The only feat useful for a Volur is Painful Severance, which damages a branded creature that gets its brand destroyed with a special “akashic pulse of power” that ignores damage reduction and energy resistance. This “akashic pulse” should be elaborated on, especially since it appears in the newer Akashic Classes book.

-3 magic items: The Veilbreaking +1-equivalent weapon ability works like Bane, but only for veils, and also ignore veil’s hardness. I would have loved a more powerful version that worked also on akashic classes and creatures, or that suppressed the veil for longer, but nice nonetheless. The Amulet of the Unbranded gives you resistance to saves, but doubles the bonus against brands. Finally, Totem of Brand Prevention is a slotless magical item that is destroyed if you fail a save against a brand, and even then it suppresses the brand for a couple of rounds.

-Veilweaving Section: This includes a more polished presentation of the section we have read in other Akashic magic books, and even mentions to “break the rules” like shaping two veils in the same chakra under the Chakra Slots section, or the ability to bind veils without having levels in an Akashic class. All in all an improved section that has only one fault: it doesn’t include the ability to suppress your own veils, which doesn’t appear in Akashic Mysteries but does appear in each of the author’s books after that. For some reason, it was decided that this was the place for the Volur’s veil list. This section also has the new Brand descriptor for veils and everything you need to know to use them.

-16 Brand veils: These veils include which classes have access to them, including all 3 “core” plus the ones in Akashic Trinity, AND the Stormbound. No Brand includes the Helmsman, another class published in a Legendary Games book, nor the Lunar Zodiac, and I don’t know if it is an omission or a design decision. Also, the “highest chakra” these veils can be bound to is the Belt chakra, which normally should be accessed at 16th level. I mention this because of the special Brandweaving abilities of the Volur. I-m not going to cover all of them, but I will describe some of them:

Blight of the Elements reduces resistance to one of the 4 basic types of energy damage, treating immune creatures as having a base of 50 before reduction. Essence further reduces this and when bound, if the resistance is reduced to 0, the target becomes vulnerable, receiving 50% more damage! Bloodvine Embrace has some cool imagery, damages the target as a poison effect (so creatures immune to poison receive no damage), and heals the “brander” if it has at least half of its HDs. If bound, the veil sprouts “bloodberries” that can heal others. Cloak of the Leper creates a kind of contagious mark that deals nonlethal damage to the branded and those “foes” near him, and if successfully saves against this veil the brander can pass it on a creature that failed, and if bound ACTUALLY makes copies of itself on surrounding creatures AND can deal lethal damage! Really cool! Dancer’s Curse penalizes the branded if they don’t move a certain distance, and even damages them if bound. Nice enough, but a Volus can combo it with Grasping Chains, damaging the creature if it moves AND making it more difficult to do it! Mageblight causes supernatural abilities that take actions to use, spells cast, and even spell-like abilities to fail a small percentage of the time, increasable with essence, and if bound the effect CAN happen but affects the branded! There are other cool ones, like putting a mask of stone on foes, making them suspicious of their allies, charm them, and other nifty effects. There is even one called Sword of Damocles for Damocles’ sake!

Of Note: The brand veils look suspiciously familiar to an idea I gave the author of Akashic Mysteries for its unrealized sequel book LOL. But I’m happy someone got the same idea and ran with it. The Volus might seem a bit all over the place (modest veilweaver, powerful debuffer, druid wannabe), but has an interesting variant of veilweaving. I think it is an interesting idea AND everyone is invited to the party, since all of the 16 veils can be used by other Akashic classes (but the Lunar, sorry mah guy).

Anything wrong?: The favored class bonus could include at least orcs, if not many other thematically-fitting races. Finally, while I’m still not sure about the difference in power of Circles, and auto chakra-bound brand veils of the Volus, I enjoyed the book, even if it needs a bit of polish here and there (like in the mass branding ability or the veilshaping section).

What I want: A Daevic that merges with an Akashic spirit instead of a daeva would be interesting, as would be a hippie Guru philosophy or a Vizier mystic attunement that deals with the Circles. The spirit itself would make for an interesting variant of elementals, or even work as aspectual templates! Also, at least one class feature that benefited from investing essence, since right now they are the only class, apart from Viziers, that don’t have any class features that benefits from essence-investment.

What cool things did this inspire?: A Suli with a spirit attuned to the Circle of the Cycle would be cool as a non-focused elementalist. Also, with some of the veils out there that deal with disease and decay, I will device a nasty opponent for my players.

Do I recommend it?: Yes! Even if the class itself didn’t excite me as much as, say, the Zodiac, it still is a cool Akashic debuffer. AND the Brands themselves are really cool additions to other Akashic classes’ arsenals. Taking into account the small details, I will give it 4.5 stars, rounded down. Nice work!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Classes: Volur
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Second Edition Classes: Cabalist
by Chris D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/14/2021 21:32:40

An intriguing new class for PF2, which happens to explore a fair amount of the territory that the canonical Witch class does -- the cabalist has a familiar and serves 'mysterious entities that are well beyond anyone’s understanding'. It's a bit more focused than the Witch, exclusively an Occult caster where the Witch can partake of all four of the traditions, and whether either of those choices is a strength or a weakness is entirely subjective. On the whole, I think it offers enough of a different take that it could replace the Witch in campaigns with an Occult focus, like many horror-tinged settings, but I'm uncertain of the notion of allowing them both to exist in the same setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Second Edition Classes: Cabalist
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