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The Culinary Magic Cookbook
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/13/2018 03:53:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 117 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page photography credits/KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page dedication, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 107 pages of content, so let’s take a look! There is one peculiarity you should be aware of: This book does not have the standard dimensions of RPG-books, instead sporting the somewhat landscape-like format that most of my cookbooks have – this makes it work pretty smoothly in the kitchen without adding chaos to the cooking book shelf. It also means that there is a surprising amount of content to be found within the pages of this book - more than the page-count would lead you to believe! My review is primarily based on the hardcover print version of the metric version.

Metric version? Well yeah – there are two different versions of this book, one for imperial measurements, and one for metric measurements. I really appreciate the latter, as I am a European and ounces, gallons, etc. mean nothing to me – I always have to do quick calculations. Same goes for degrees Fahrenheit. Distance measurements I can get behind, but temperature and weight? Compared to the metric system as based on multiples of 10/100/1000s, which make sense and are easy to implement, I just could never get into it. I guess if I had been born and raised in the US, that would have been different. Same goes for degrees Fahrenheit; degrees Celsius are elegant: 0°C? Water freezes. 100°C? Water boils. Simple, efficient, elegant. But I digress – that’s probably just the German in me speaking! What I’m trying to say here in my own convoluted way is this: It’s great to see a roleplaying game company take care of their international customers, allowing us all to choose freely! Grown up with/accustomed to the imperial system? You’re good! Same goes for those accustomed to the metric system.

There is another huge plus here: No matter which version you get in print, the pdf-component actually includes BOTH versions! So, if you’re for example an expat or just are interested in the alternate measurements, the book has you covered! You’ll have your print version with the preferred measurements and both measurement systems in pdf! This is particularly cool if your group contains folks accustomed to either system. Your book is in imperial measurement, but you wanted to lend it to your buddy accustomed to the metric system? No problem, you have the pdf! Many other publishers would have you buy both versions separately – so huge kudos to Flaming Crab Games for doing the right and customer-friendly thing there!

As you could glean from the above, this review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.

So, Culinary Magic was one of my biggest surprises to come out of the criminally underrated “Letters from the Flaming Crab”-series. Culinary magic is a form of everyman’s magic – it does not require taking a new class, it does not require an archetype or learning a complex system. The magic system is based on Craft (culinary), which acts as a catch-all skill for Craft (cooking) and Craft (baking), which is a sensible unification here. The buy-in, nominally, is the Culinary Magic feat, which nets you +2 to Craft (culinary) when preparing mundane meals. You know recipes equal to your skill rank and get new recipes upon gaining a new skill rank. Additionally, you can learn recipes from other cooks, books, etc. In order to learn such a recipe, you must succeed a Craft (culinary) check vs. the meal’s DC + 10. The first time you cook a meal, the price to create it is doubled. If your game is particularly high fantasy and high-powered, it should be noted that the system is robust enough to work with the feat (sans the +2 bonus) simply baked into (haha!) the character options available. Culinary magic will not break your game.

It should be noted that the cookbook does not contain precise temperatures for each dish, but does specify the suggested minimum temperatures provided by the FDA to cook meats – these temperatures are provided in both °F and °C, regardless of version you end up using.

Recipes note the name of the dish, the DC to Craft it, provide descriptions of the dish, ingredients, how many servings the recipe creates (important to determine affected targets and how many folks you can feed), prep & cooking time, costs (as noted in a general rating score, since prices vary from place to place – while “exotic” goods, eating out in really great restaurants, for example, are comparably cheap in the US, I was utterly flabbergasted how expensive fruit, vegetables etc. are! Then, we get the directions to create the dish, followed by the magical benefits the dish offers and the duration of these benefits.

Now, since PFRPG is a game where WBL and the like are important, the general ranking of the meals, we get gold prices for ingredients and servings noted, tables for rare ingredient prices by CR of the entity from which they hail, and the pdf even talks about which meals are available for characters with a Vow of Poverty. A super-handy index with DCs, costs, effects and durations noted is in the back of the book, listing all dishes first by category, and within the categories, alphabetically. From a usage perspective, this is as convenient as it can be. It should also be noted that numerical benefits, if any, often scale and improve depending on how well you did preparing the dish in question, providing increasing degrees of success and retaining the viability of the dishes throughout the levels.

You will already have realized the main draw here, right? Bingo – this is not simply a gaming supplement! These magical recipes? Well, we actually can make them ourselves! This book blends real life and gaming in the most delicious of ways, providing tangible benefits for…you know, making proper food for the gaming group! Not just eating super fatty fast food and chips. So yeah, if you have someone passionate about cooking in your group, this can be pretty amazing – obviously, magical effects will be in-game only, but yeah, love this.

While I have attempted to get a good overview of how these recipes fare in practice, there is one thing you need to know here: I suffer from a ton of allergies. I can’t eat nuts, apples and a ton of other things, and while I’m not lactose intolerant, my system doesn’t handle cheese or food with copious amounts of milk well, rendering me tired and unable to concentrate properly for days on end. Thus, my examples noted below will focus on foodstuff that doesn’t feature either of those. That being said, I’m a HUGE fan of proper BBQ (and you can’t get good BBQ, or proper Mexican food, for that matter, around here…) and a chili-head. Since a few of the dishes make use of hot sauce, allow me to provide my unsolicited advice:

So, regarding hot sauces, I heartily recommend, depending on your preferred level of heat, the very mild and tropical Blair’s Sweet Death for beginners; for pros, I’d definitely recommend Blair’s “Shot to Hell” and, if you can get your hands on them, any of the 4 limited edition Blair’s FF15, particularly the amazing FF15 Passion. If you’re living in or near Texas, my favorite hot sauce combination ever for meats is to mix the ghost pepper and habanero hot sauces by Black’s BBQ in Lockhart. I’m getting hungry just thinking of them… The combination, at least to my palate, is divine and transcends the sum of its parts. For chilies, I suggest sticking to habaneros or jalapenos (if you’re not that into spicy food) for most dishes; unless you’re really experienced and the dish complements the distinct flavor, I’d suggest being very careful with ghost peppers. As always: Super hot sauces and spices are no laughing matter, and no one should be tricked into eating these.

Not, to make that abundantly clear: Most of the dishes herein do not use hot spices or the like, so don’t be afraid there! The dwarven curry recipe uses ghost peppers, and since hot sauces are either optional or vary greatly in their heat levels, customization is very easy. The book also is relevant to the interests of vegetarians and vegans – there are quite a bunch of recipes that can be enjoyed even by folks that have elected to not consume meat, fish or animal-based products – and for the other dishes, the usual substitution tactics work rather well.

Now, similarly important would be the need to comment on the difficulty of the dishes presented within this book: Even the highest DC culinary magic dishes within these pages do not require special equipment. There is one single dish that probably works best with a deep fryer; other than that, any household kitchen should be able to handle these dishes. Similarly, you don’t have to be a chef to make the meals within this book – the dishes are on the simpler side of things, and the directions regarding prep time and how long it takes to make these end up on the conservative side: I managed to make quite a few of them in a fraction of the time noted, in one instance making a dish that was assumed to be 3 hours of work in half an hour. So yeah, this is, in a way, very much a beginner’s cookbook. None of the dishes within exceed 5 steps required for preparation, and sometimes one of these steps pertains the magical nature of them, and can thus be ignored IRL. Most dishes can be made in 3 simple steps, and the dishes and their recipes can fit comfortably on a single page.

There is another aspect here regarding the food chosen that is rather important: Most of these dishes do not require constant micromanaging. You can either prep them in advance, or prepare them pretty quickly during the smoking/get beer/etc. breaks, if any, at your table. This makes prepping quite a few of these dishes actually really friendly while sitting at the table.

Okay, that being said, this is not a dry reading experience, and there is one aspect that very much requires a degree of experimentation from prospective cooks. You see, this book is very consistent in its conceit of sporting magical recipes from another world, right? It should hence be no surprise that you can’t just shop for kaiju nigiri or cockatrice flesh in your local grocery store. Thus, for us real life persons, we’ll need to substitute a couple of mundane ingredients. This is relevant and of interest for, to note one example, mushrooms and the like – it is obvious that different folks will enjoy different mushrooms, so some experimentation is required here to customize your recipes in real life. That is not a flaw of the book, mind you, and if you’re a novice to cooking, don’t be dissuaded or stumped by it: A lot of my favorite dishes evolved via experimentation, and cooking is an art-form that thrives on creativity and customization, so if one aspect of the dish doesn’t match your tastes, change it! I know, sounds dumb, but as someone who is rather compulsive regarding adherence to formulae and the like, I wish someone had spelled that out for me when I started cooking.

Structure-wise, the book begins with a breakfast chapter, then moves on to soups and salads, entrées and sides and then provides recipes for beverages and sides as well as desserts and treats.

Anyways, now, from a game-design perspective, the recipes within have a tough challenge ahead of them: General accessibility means that they could easily negatively impact a setting’s internal balance. Beyond that, there is another thing to consider: As PFRPG is mechanically complex, just another set of numerical bonuses would, ultimately, not provide a particularly exciting incitement to dive into making these dishes, right? Well, the book handles this rather impressively: When applicable, bonuses are tightly codified regarding proper types, so that’s a formal plus. Indeed, the book is precise in its usage of the rules. If we, for example, partake in divine pecan pie, the consumer is shielded by a sanctuary-like effect, though the Will-save is 10 + ½ the cook’s Craft (culinary) skill bonus. Additionally, enemies attacking the consumer take 1d3 points of damage, half of which is fire damage, while the other stems directly from divine power. The pdf avoids falling into the trap of assuming holy damage exists in PFRPG – it doesn’t, but it’s still a thing that a ton of books get wrong, so kudos! If that sounds super powerful for eating a pie (the DC can become really high!), the effect has a duration AND ends when the consumer moves, ensuring that this meal, while useful, will not break your game.

Now, there are other examples for this subdued, but still very much relevant design-paradigm employed here. One of my favorites, the Dragonbane Soup, would be one such example: The ingredients of this vegetarian soup (you can easily make it vegan) are associated with the chromatic dragons, noting the significance of the ingredients and how they relate to the dragons in question. What does it do? It lasts for 3 hours, and the first time someone who has eaten it is targeted by a dragon’s breath weapon, they completely negate that damage! Now, usually I’m a big enemy of flat-out negation, but this makes sense to me: It’s limited by time and duration and can provide a last second save for PCs that may well spell the difference between success and death. Is your group going to battle the big bad dragon in this week’s game? With this book, you can make the food for the game and provide a tangible benefit for your PC buddies as well – and we all know that a properly-played dragon requires that you make use of all tools at your disposal…

Eating a clouded miso mushroom soup can extend your eyes-based sight modes (including the clouded vision oracle’s) by 10 ft. Partaking in Armanthore’s Manticore Chilli (usually eaten with manticore spine chopsticks, obviously!) makes you hit hybrid creatures harder. Oh, and YES, contrary to what one would expect, the rules do clarify in a concise manner what hybrid creatures are for the purpose of this effect. If you’ve eaten a Moonlight Croissant, you’ll get a bonus to saves to resist lycanthropy, and, as a cool aside…you can use them as THROWN WEAPONS versus lycanthropes! Death by croissant! That is frickin’ hilarious!

If these sound like dishes you may know already, what about indlovu omkuhulu phuthu pap, a putu pap recipe that can be preserved for a few days and provides a short burst of 10 minutes alchemical bonus of +2 to Strength. The white porridge made from ground corn and drenched with onions and tomato sauce makes for a surprisingly effective and fun side that can be tweaked and further customized easily – both IRL, and regarding the benefits it conveys in-game! Speaking of modification: Due to my own, previously noted dietary restrictions I couldn’t eat the default Kaldor’s Breakfast Eatzza, which is a breakfast pizza-ish dish, but the recipe did give me all the ideas I needed to make my own version, which turned out to be delicious. Flavorwise, this one alleviates homesickness and thus provides skill-bonuses that help you fit in.

Serving citrus posset can detect undead, as the liquid meal bubbles when undead are nearby – though consuming it does not convey this benefit. To give you an example regarding the impressive internal consistency of this game, this is justified by the sunlight stored in the citrus fruit used in its creation, which makes sense regarding the in-game logic. As a German, born and raised in Bavaria, I’m a horrible snob regarding pretzels, so I’m probably not the best guy to comment on the merits of the Fairy Ring pretzels – however, I can comment on Mushroom Flowers, which are one of my go-to low-cost dishes when finances are tight: They take me less than 20 minutes to make and are utterly delicious. For filling, my own recommendation for filling is a blend of chanterelles, king oyster mushrooms and smoked, diced bacon, plus any vegetables you fancy. The champignons take on the taste of the more costly mushrooms, the dish is super filling, and the king oyster mushrooms and their herby taste mean that you don’t even need much spices to make the dish amazing!

One of my favorite dishes was contributed by a backer – such dishes note their authors, and the dish would be mushroom and apricot stuffed pheasant, contributed by André Roy. Truly delicious, and interestingly, the effects complement each other: the pheasant itself helps you climb, making you lighter. The stuffing, on the other hand, helps decrease falling damage. The stuffing is btw. its own dish. And yes, the two do note what happens if you eat the whole deal, so yeah, kudos to editors and development for catching even such easily overlooked potentially confusing cases!

What about hot spaghetti that allows you to breathe fire a limited number of times? Or what about a fried, lotus-like onion that is so inspiring, it enhances Perform checks? Really fun: Regarding cocktails, wands of air bubble are noted as ingredients, obviously to add fizz to the drinks, soda-style. It’s little touches like this that make the book feel so concise. What about spider silk noodles? Twisted herb-infused bread? Whiskey Jelly Jar Ohs? There also are fairy cakes that allow for levitations, with the effects contingent of the consumer’s emotional state? The ability to craft fully statted gingerbread golems is cool, and while we’re on the subject manner – what about a gingerbread house trap? Chaos cupcakes have one of 8 different, randomized effects, depending on the flavor – this can make for a fun game that surprises both players and PCs alike! Now, if you do use these flavors yourself, you can thus simulate the PC surprise IRL! Love it.

And yes, since I haven’t noted that before: The book does codify how long it takes to eat, how much you need to eat, and who can benefit from culinary magic.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level: The book is exceedingly precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to a 1-column landscape-ish standard as you’d see in cookbooks, and aesthetics wise, the recipes look like they have been printed on paper, glued into the book, much like you’d expect from a DIY cookbook. From small splotches to alignment of these, the layout manages to provide a captivating and distinct visual identity. Instead of artworks, we get delicious, mouth-watering photographs of the meals. These look like food, mind you, not like the disgusting plastic-like food photography we often see in glossy papers. The pdf versions come fully bookmarked for your convenience, but particularly if you’re planning to use this to cook, you should get the hardcover/print – personally, I get antsy when taking my device into the kitchen, where hot plates, water, etc. await.

Designers Alex Shanks-Abel, J Gray (who also did the layout!), David S. McCrae, Angel “ARMR” Miranda, Kelly Pawlik, Rodney Sloan and Margherita Tramontano, alongside head chefs Luca Basset, Rhiannon Davis, Grimlaf, the High Family, Arvin “Kazefirst” K., Steven Kohn, Richard “Rysky” Lawson, Donavon McClung, Terrence “TERENTIUS” Micheau, Francois Michel, Tina Porter, Joshua and Brigitte Root, André Roy, Jacqueline Vanni Shanks, Solux, and Tenacious Zod, have created an amazing resource.

The Culinary Magic Cookbook is not only a design-wise tight and precise book – its use transcends gaming and the confines of the PFRPG system. Yes, I can convert this book easily to other systems, but that’s not the point – the recipes are easy to make, diverse and sport some real gems. Additionally, the book makes for a great gift for e.g. couples where only one of the two games – it’s, after all, useful beyond gaming. The recipes are really simple and fun to pull off, and yield tasty results. Add to that the fact that both metric and imperial systems are supported, add the surprising internal consistency that never breaks the magical cookbook conceit, and we have a little masterpiece. If you’re a bit of a foody like I am, if you want a change of pace from yet another pile of chips at your table, then check this out. The book is worth its asking price and showcases the passion of the authors. I adore this book and am extremely happy that it exists – it has provided delights beyond gaming, and is an admirable achievement – I hope there will be sequels at one point! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Culinary Magic Cookbook
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The Culinary Magic Cookbook (Metric)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/13/2018 03:53:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 117 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page photography credits/KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page dedication, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 107 pages of content, so let’s take a look! There is one peculiarity you should be aware of: This book does not have the standard dimensions of RPG-books, instead sporting the somewhat landscape-like format that most of my cookbooks have – this makes it work pretty smoothly in the kitchen without adding chaos to the cooking book shelf. It also means that there is a surprising amount of content to be found within the pages of this book - more than the page-count would lead you to believe! My review is primarily based on the hardcover print version of the metric version.

Metric version? Well yeah – there are two different versions of this book, one for imperial measurements, and one for metric measurements. I really appreciate the latter, as I am a European and ounces, gallons, etc. mean nothing to me – I always have to do quick calculations. Same goes for degrees Fahrenheit. Distance measurements I can get behind, but temperature and weight? Compared to the metric system as based on multiples of 10/100/1000s, which make sense and are easy to implement, I just could never get into it. I guess if I had been born and raised in the US, that would have been different. Same goes for degrees Fahrenheit; degrees Celsius are elegant: 0°C? Water freezes. 100°C? Water boils. Simple, efficient, elegant. But I digress – that’s probably just the German in me speaking! What I’m trying to say here in my own convoluted way is this: It’s great to see a roleplaying game company take care of their international customers, allowing us all to choose freely! Grown up with/accustomed to the imperial system? You’re good! Same goes for those accustomed to the metric system.

There is another huge plus here: No matter which version you get in print, the pdf-component actually includes BOTH versions! So, if you’re for example an expat or just are interested in the alternate measurements, the book has you covered! You’ll have your print version with the preferred measurements and both measurement systems in pdf! This is particularly cool if your group contains folks accustomed to either system. Your book is in imperial measurement, but you wanted to lend it to your buddy accustomed to the metric system? No problem, you have the pdf! Many other publishers would have you buy both versions separately – so huge kudos to Flaming Crab Games for doing the right and customer-friendly thing there!

As you could glean from the above, this review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.

So, Culinary Magic was one of my biggest surprises to come out of the criminally underrated “Letters from the Flaming Crab”-series. Culinary magic is a form of everyman’s magic – it does not require taking a new class, it does not require an archetype or learning a complex system. The magic system is based on Craft (culinary), which acts as a catch-all skill for Craft (cooking) and Craft (baking), which is a sensible unification here. The buy-in, nominally, is the Culinary Magic feat, which nets you +2 to Craft (culinary) when preparing mundane meals. You know recipes equal to your skill rank and get new recipes upon gaining a new skill rank. Additionally, you can learn recipes from other cooks, books, etc. In order to learn such a recipe, you must succeed a Craft (culinary) check vs. the meal’s DC + 10. The first time you cook a meal, the price to create it is doubled. If your game is particularly high fantasy and high-powered, it should be noted that the system is robust enough to work with the feat (sans the +2 bonus) simply baked into (haha!) the character options available. Culinary magic will not break your game.

It should be noted that the cookbook does not contain precise temperatures for each dish, but does specify the suggested minimum temperatures provided by the FDA to cook meats – these temperatures are provided in both °F and °C, regardless of version you end up using.

Recipes note the name of the dish, the DC to Craft it, provide descriptions of the dish, ingredients, how many servings the recipe creates (important to determine affected targets and how many folks you can feed), prep & cooking time, costs (as noted in a general rating score, since prices vary from place to place – while “exotic” goods, eating out in really great restaurants, for example, are comparably cheap in the US, I was utterly flabbergasted how expensive fruit, vegetables etc. are! Then, we get the directions to create the dish, followed by the magical benefits the dish offers and the duration of these benefits.

Now, since PFRPG is a game where WBL and the like are important, the general ranking of the meals, we get gold prices for ingredients and servings noted, tables for rare ingredient prices by CR of the entity from which they hail, and the pdf even talks about which meals are available for characters with a Vow of Poverty. A super-handy index with DCs, costs, effects and durations noted is in the back of the book, listing all dishes first by category, and within the categories, alphabetically. From a usage perspective, this is as convenient as it can be. It should also be noted that numerical benefits, if any, often scale and improve depending on how well you did preparing the dish in question, providing increasing degrees of success and retaining the viability of the dishes throughout the levels.

You will already have realized the main draw here, right? Bingo – this is not simply a gaming supplement! These magical recipes? Well, we actually can make them ourselves! This book blends real life and gaming in the most delicious of ways, providing tangible benefits for…you know, making proper food for the gaming group! Not just eating super fatty fast food and chips. So yeah, if you have someone passionate about cooking in your group, this can be pretty amazing – obviously, magical effects will be in-game only, but yeah, love this.

While I have attempted to get a good overview of how these recipes fare in practice, there is one thing you need to know here: I suffer from a ton of allergies. I can’t eat nuts, apples and a ton of other things, and while I’m not lactose intolerant, my system doesn’t handle cheese or food with copious amounts of milk well, rendering me tired and unable to concentrate properly for days on end. Thus, my examples noted below will focus on foodstuff that doesn’t feature either of those. That being said, I’m a HUGE fan of proper BBQ (and you can’t get good BBQ, or proper Mexican food, for that matter, around here…) and a chili-head. Since a few of the dishes make use of hot sauce, allow me to provide my unsolicited advice:

So, regarding hot sauces, I heartily recommend, depending on your preferred level of heat, the very mild and tropical Blair’s Sweet Death for beginners; for pros, I’d definitely recommend Blair’s “Shot to Hell” and, if you can get your hands on them, any of the 4 limited edition Blair’s FF15, particularly the amazing FF15 Passion. If you’re living in or near Texas, my favorite hot sauce combination ever for meats is to mix the ghost pepper and habanero hot sauces by Black’s BBQ in Lockhart. I’m getting hungry just thinking of them… The combination, at least to my palate, is divine and transcends the sum of its parts. For chilies, I suggest sticking to habaneros or jalapenos (if you’re not that into spicy food) for most dishes; unless you’re really experienced and the dish complements the distinct flavor, I’d suggest being very careful with ghost peppers. As always: Super hot sauces and spices are no laughing matter, and no one should be tricked into eating these.

Not, to make that abundantly clear: Most of the dishes herein do not use hot spices or the like, so don’t be afraid there! The dwarven curry recipe uses ghost peppers, and since hot sauces are either optional or vary greatly in their heat levels, customization is very easy. The book also is relevant to the interests of vegetarians and vegans – there are quite a bunch of recipes that can be enjoyed even by folks that have elected to not consume meat, fish or animal-based products – and for the other dishes, the usual substitution tactics work rather well.

Now, similarly important would be the need to comment on the difficulty of the dishes presented within this book: Even the highest DC culinary magic dishes within these pages do not require special equipment. There is one single dish that probably works best with a deep fryer; other than that, any household kitchen should be able to handle these dishes. Similarly, you don’t have to be a chef to make the meals within this book – the dishes are on the simpler side of things, and the directions regarding prep time and how long it takes to make these end up on the conservative side: I managed to make quite a few of them in a fraction of the time noted, in one instance making a dish that was assumed to be 3 hours of work in half an hour. So yeah, this is, in a way, very much a beginner’s cookbook. None of the dishes within exceed 5 steps required for preparation, and sometimes one of these steps pertains the magical nature of them, and can thus be ignored IRL. Most dishes can be made in 3 simple steps, and the dishes and their recipes can fit comfortably on a single page.

There is another aspect here regarding the food chosen that is rather important: Most of these dishes do not require constant micromanaging. You can either prep them in advance, or prepare them pretty quickly during the smoking/get beer/etc. breaks, if any, at your table. This makes prepping quite a few of these dishes actually really friendly while sitting at the table.

Okay, that being said, this is not a dry reading experience, and there is one aspect that very much requires a degree of experimentation from prospective cooks. You see, this book is very consistent in its conceit of sporting magical recipes from another world, right? It should hence be no surprise that you can’t just shop for kaiju nigiri or cockatrice flesh in your local grocery store. Thus, for us real life persons, we’ll need to substitute a couple of mundane ingredients. This is relevant and of interest for, to note one example, mushrooms and the like – it is obvious that different folks will enjoy different mushrooms, so some experimentation is required here to customize your recipes in real life. That is not a flaw of the book, mind you, and if you’re a novice to cooking, don’t be dissuaded or stumped by it: A lot of my favorite dishes evolved via experimentation, and cooking is an art-form that thrives on creativity and customization, so if one aspect of the dish doesn’t match your tastes, change it! I know, sounds dumb, but as someone who is rather compulsive regarding adherence to formulae and the like, I wish someone had spelled that out for me when I started cooking.

Structure-wise, the book begins with a breakfast chapter, then moves on to soups and salads, entrées and sides and then provides recipes for beverages and sides as well as desserts and treats.

Anyways, now, from a game-design perspective, the recipes within have a tough challenge ahead of them: General accessibility means that they could easily negatively impact a setting’s internal balance. Beyond that, there is another thing to consider: As PFRPG is mechanically complex, just another set of numerical bonuses would, ultimately, not provide a particularly exciting incitement to dive into making these dishes, right? Well, the book handles this rather impressively: When applicable, bonuses are tightly codified regarding proper types, so that’s a formal plus. Indeed, the book is precise in its usage of the rules. If we, for example, partake in divine pecan pie, the consumer is shielded by a sanctuary-like effect, though the Will-save is 10 + ½ the cook’s Craft (culinary) skill bonus. Additionally, enemies attacking the consumer take 1d3 points of damage, half of which is fire damage, while the other stems directly from divine power. The pdf avoids falling into the trap of assuming holy damage exists in PFRPG – it doesn’t, but it’s still a thing that a ton of books get wrong, so kudos! If that sounds super powerful for eating a pie (the DC can become really high!), the effect has a duration AND ends when the consumer moves, ensuring that this meal, while useful, will not break your game.

Now, there are other examples for this subdued, but still very much relevant design-paradigm employed here. One of my favorites, the Dragonbane Soup, would be one such example: The ingredients of this vegetarian soup (you can easily make it vegan) are associated with the chromatic dragons, noting the significance of the ingredients and how they relate to the dragons in question. What does it do? It lasts for 3 hours, and the first time someone who has eaten it is targeted by a dragon’s breath weapon, they completely negate that damage! Now, usually I’m a big enemy of flat-out negation, but this makes sense to me: It’s limited by time and duration and can provide a last second save for PCs that may well spell the difference between success and death. Is your group going to battle the big bad dragon in this week’s game? With this book, you can make the food for the game and provide a tangible benefit for your PC buddies as well – and we all know that a properly-played dragon requires that you make use of all tools at your disposal…

Eating a clouded miso mushroom soup can extend your eyes-based sight modes (including the clouded vision oracle’s) by 10 ft. Partaking in Armanthore’s Manticore Chilli (usually eaten with manticore spine chopsticks, obviously!) makes you hit hybrid creatures harder. Oh, and YES, contrary to what one would expect, the rules do clarify in a concise manner what hybrid creatures are for the purpose of this effect. If you’ve eaten a Moonlight Croissant, you’ll get a bonus to saves to resist lycanthropy, and, as a cool aside…you can use them as THROWN WEAPONS versus lycanthropes! Death by croissant! That is frickin’ hilarious!

If these sound like dishes you may know already, what about indlovu omkuhulu phuthu pap, a putu pap recipe that can be preserved for a few days and provides a short burst of 10 minutes alchemical bonus of +2 to Strength. The white porridge made from ground corn and drenched with onions and tomato sauce makes for a surprisingly effective and fun side that can be tweaked and further customized easily – both IRL, and regarding the benefits it conveys in-game! Speaking of modification: Due to my own, previously noted dietary restrictions I couldn’t eat the default Kaldor’s Breakfast Eatzza, which is a breakfast pizza-ish dish, but the recipe did give me all the ideas I needed to make my own version, which turned out to be delicious. Flavorwise, this one alleviates homesickness and thus provides skill-bonuses that help you fit in.

Serving citrus posset can detect undead, as the liquid meal bubbles when undead are nearby – though consuming it does not convey this benefit. To give you an example regarding the impressive internal consistency of this game, this is justified by the sunlight stored in the citrus fruit used in its creation, which makes sense regarding the in-game logic. As a German, born and raised in Bavaria, I’m a horrible snob regarding pretzels, so I’m probably not the best guy to comment on the merits of the Fairy Ring pretzels – however, I can comment on Mushroom Flowers, which are one of my go-to low-cost dishes when finances are tight: They take me less than 20 minutes to make and are utterly delicious. For filling, my own recommendation for filling is a blend of chanterelles, king oyster mushrooms and smoked, diced bacon, plus any vegetables you fancy. The champignons take on the taste of the more costly mushrooms, the dish is super filling, and the king oyster mushrooms and their herby taste mean that you don’t even need much spices to make the dish amazing!

One of my favorite dishes was contributed by a backer – such dishes note their authors, and the dish would be mushroom and apricot stuffed pheasant, contributed by André Roy. Truly delicious, and interestingly, the effects complement each other: the pheasant itself helps you climb, making you lighter. The stuffing, on the other hand, helps decrease falling damage. The stuffing is btw. its own dish. And yes, the two do note what happens if you eat the whole deal, so yeah, kudos to editors and development for catching even such easily overlooked potentially confusing cases!

What about hot spaghetti that allows you to breathe fire a limited number of times? Or what about a fried, lotus-like onion that is so inspiring, it enhances Perform checks? Really fun: Regarding cocktails, wands of air bubble are noted as ingredients, obviously to add fizz to the drinks, soda-style. It’s little touches like this that make the book feel so concise. What about spider silk noodles? Twisted herb-infused bread? Whiskey Jelly Jar Ohs? There also are fairy cakes that allow for levitations, with the effects contingent of the consumer’s emotional state? The ability to craft fully statted gingerbread golems is cool, and while we’re on the subject manner – what about a gingerbread house trap? Chaos cupcakes have one of 8 different, randomized effects, depending on the flavor – this can make for a fun game that surprises both players and PCs alike! Now, if you do use these flavors yourself, you can thus simulate the PC surprise IRL! Love it.

And yes, since I haven’t noted that before: The book does codify how long it takes to eat, how much you need to eat, and who can benefit from culinary magic.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level: The book is exceedingly precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to a 1-column landscape-ish standard as you’d see in cookbooks, and aesthetics wise, the recipes look like they have been printed on paper, glued into the book, much like you’d expect from a DIY cookbook. From small splotches to alignment of these, the layout manages to provide a captivating and distinct visual identity. Instead of artworks, we get delicious, mouth-watering photographs of the meals. These look like food, mind you, not like the disgusting plastic-like food photography we often see in glossy papers. The pdf versions come fully bookmarked for your convenience, but particularly if you’re planning to use this to cook, you should get the hardcover/print – personally, I get antsy when taking my device into the kitchen, where hot plates, water, etc. await.

Designers Alex Shanks-Abel, J Gray (who also did the layout!), David S. McCrae, Angel “ARMR” Miranda, Kelly Pawlik, Rodney Sloan and Margherita Tramontano, alongside head chefs Luca Basset, Rhiannon Davis, Grimlaf, the High Family, Arvin “Kazefirst” K., Steven Kohn, Richard “Rysky” Lawson, Donavon McClung, Terrence “TERENTIUS” Micheau, Francois Michel, Tina Porter, Joshua and Brigitte Root, André Roy, Jacqueline Vanni Shanks, Solux, and Tenacious Zod, have created an amazing resource.

The Culinary Magic Cookbook is not only a design-wise tight and precise book – its use transcends gaming and the confines of the PFRPG system. Yes, I can convert this book easily to other systems, but that’s not the point – the recipes are easy to make, diverse and sport some real gems. Additionally, the book makes for a great gift for e.g. couples where only one of the two games – it’s, after all, useful beyond gaming. The recipes are really simple and fun to pull off, and yield tasty results. Add to that the fact that both metric and imperial systems are supported, add the surprising internal consistency that never breaks the magical cookbook conceit, and we have a little masterpiece. If you’re a bit of a foody like I am, if you want a change of pace from yet another pile of chips at your table, then check this out. The book is worth its asking price and showcases the passion of the authors. I adore this book and am extremely happy that it exists – it has provided delights beyond gaming, and is an admirable achievement – I hope there will be sequels at one point! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Culinary Magic Cookbook (Metric)
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/13/2018 13:49:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The, for now, final installment of the amazing „Letters from the Flaming Crab“-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The pdf, as always, begins with a nice in-character narrative of the exploits of the planes/world-hopping vessel that grants the series the in-prose name, as well as a brief commentary by the faithful scribe J Gray, who transcribes these letters. I still consider this framing device charming and hope that it will be retained once/if the series returns.

Anyway, the supplement’s base framework and idea is pretty cool: We have kids describing imaginary friends, which are then codified as proper entities. Rules-wise, the imaginary friends can be player-relevant, with a feat allowing you to take imaginary friends as familiars in a variant upgrade feat, with minimum level range spanning 7th to 11th level – yes, these are not exactly weak. The second feat, Wonder nets you one class skill chosen from a list of 4, 1/day see invisibility as a SP and +2 to Will-saves versus illusions, but also imposes a -1 penalty to saves vs. enchantment spells and effects.

So, this is one way to get in on the mechanics herein; the imaginary friends gained are built on a NB CR 2 base form. They defy detection and their presence bestows a bonus to saves versus fear effects to their ward – the ward, obviously, being the entity the imaginary friend guards. Unique: The younger the kid, the more potent the friend can be. Depending on the highest unaugmented/buffed attribute of the ward, they also gain a specific ability suite – as a minor nitpick, the pdf does not specify what happens when two attributes are equally high. Imaginary friends can’t truly be slain and rejuvenate a few hours after being vanquished, and they may 1/day manifest physically, but at great risk – when slain while manifested, they may permanently die!

Now, manifested forms can sometimes great deviate from the regular, incorporeal ones, which also means that we get separate stats if applicable (nice), and that these may even have a different CR! So, here is the adorable thing about this pdf: We get artworks either drawn by kids, or emulating kid-drawings at the very least pitch-perfectly for the imaginary friends!

So, what kind of imaginary friends do we get? Well, there would be CR 2 Animay, a sweet, Tiny girl that has limited bardic abilities and carries an oversized pencil as a “weapon” of sorts. Caloon Ready Freddy was a bit heart-rending, as the red creature has a frog-like head and red skin – it is truly good and, as the book notes, quoting, “When daddy died, he became Caloon Ready Freddy…” – I kinda gulped there. With jumpy legs, hypnotic eyes and a tentacle arm that can be turned into a sensory net, the CR 8 creature is inspiring.

Crocodile B, a CR 5 yellow crocodile that doesn’t like being touched due to a nasty scar, can change shapes and may grab targets regardless of size. Deaths, is CR 7, and came from a fear of dying. Creepy-looking and armed with an adamantine pitchfork, the drawing could have been taken from my own notepads when I was young. Rules-wise, this one is slightly less interesting, with a fear aura and suitable SPs, though. Ella is a Cr 3 classic: An under-stuffed, oversized Medium blue elephant, with an aura of friendship.

Lady Cimini, a motherly mini CR 5 imaginary friend, is vulnerable to air, and gets volcano mystery-based ability. She also is a shapeshifter that prefers hamster form – and while in hamster-form, she can’t cast, but she can assume the shape of a mini volcano! Cool! Magicus is slightly more conservative in rules, as the CN CR 4 floating ghost-like entity in tuxedo and top hat is primarily defined by spellcasting. Mister Bora, at CR 5, wields a massive sword of air and may assume panther form and use abilities in conjunction with this form. Rules-wise, this imaginary friend employs kineticist options, making the character feel different from many comparable creatures. Nice job.

Pat’chin (CR 4) is great regarding the imaginative potential the creature shows: A smiling, benevolent spider-pumpkin-looking thing with arms and a warm smile, capable of carrying immense loads. The pistol squidshark (CR 3) is a tiny shark’s body with a squid’s tentacles and head – they can only jet when moving backward, fly and swim, get the ink cloud – and the ward may grab them and use them as a nonlethal weapon! That is amazing! Damn, as someone who loves squid and octopodes, I wished I had one of these…

Secorit, a rather shy friend, carries a pink, heart-shaped bottle with liquid inside, and sports an aura of honestly. In combat, this CR 5 imaginary friend may use Diplomacy to buff versus foes. Minor nitpick: The rules here are not perfect, assuming (or at least looking like it) an opposed roll, which is not how this works in PFRPG. Shaper is a robot with a friendly face and triangular pieces stacked to form arms of sort , which can btw. be fired! Spotty reminded me of my own two imaginary friend when I was 3 – it’s a CR 3 Dalmatian, only 6 feet long, with spots that oscillate like the rainbow. For me, it was a spotted stallion, but yeah – I can relate. The spots change color, depending on Spotty’s mood, and spotty actually has a calming touch.

Trobot Espenzale, at CR 4, is a dancing robot whose arms extend and contract, represented in the SPs this fellow has, as well as the ability to become quicker. Waterwave, at CR 4, can short-range quasi-teleport and fire concussive blasts. Finally, there’d be Wobinar, swirling light manifesting in a chaotic, hovering mass – easily the most abstract of the friends, an interesting, since kids don’t often gravitate to abstract concepts: Composed of living light, this one has a really interesting angle, with color spray touch. Yes, CLs and DCs are properly noted!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no grievous snafus. Layout adheres to the relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artworks, as noted, are kid’s drawings, and I really like this here – they emphasize the theme rather well.

The creative minds and sense of innocent wonder of the kids that contributed these friends, Charlie, Clara, Giorgio, Isaac, Kennedy, London, Lumi, Michele, and Oliver, are to be applauded – I bet few kids ever got a writing credit this soon! Anyways, developer J Gray and publisher Alex Shanks-Abel deliver a wonderful little tome that really oozes joy and warm-heartedness. It’s not something most adults could have come up with. I know I couldn’t have.

You see, I can do exciting, epic, dark, horrific, etc. – I’m a pretty adept and versatile designer and GM…but I can’t, for the life of me, do innocent wonder. Perhaps it’s all the cynicism of the age, perhaps it’s me…but true wonder is hard to convey, to replicate, to emulate. This pdf does manage to do just that. The material herein is wholesome, heartwarming, and a pleasure to read. Now, not all of the imaginary friends herein are necessarily, from a pure design-perspective, genius, but they had to conform to the visions of the authors, i.e. the kids…and, as a whole, they do so admirably.

As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this book – particularly in conjunction with Everyman Gaming’s excellent Childhood Adventures toolkit, it can make for an inspiring little offering and add some serious fun to a campaign featuring or for, children. As an aside: I could see e.g. a storyline centering on adult PCs researching missing imaginary friends as a unique and rewarding storyline to pursue.

As far as rating is concerned, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. This pdf may not reinvent the wheel, but it is a great little supplement to read once you’re tired of darkness, grit, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends
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Ultimate 2nd Edition Comparable
by Odobald O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2018 00:57:04

This has got to be the most insightful analysis of things-to-come I have ever seen. It is obviously based on information that usually is availabe only to those with A1-clearance, and this means that either the author is a high ranking Pathfinder, or there is a leak somewhere in the Pathfinder organisation the size of which would make Lake Erie look like someone having body shots from a mouse's belly button.

Am I rambling?

And if yes, do mice actually have belly buttons? Or, more importantly: do mice do body shots?

Anyway... Nurse! I thinkt it's time for my Haldol!

tl;dr: brilliant spoof - I loved it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate 2nd Edition Comparable
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Gnomes vs. Gremlins
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2018 04:23:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the delightfully oddball „Letters from the Flaming Crab“-series clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as always, we begin with the charming frame narrative, wherein mister J Gray finds a letter from the planes- and world-hopping UCS Flaming Crab, providing a nice and flavorful introduction to the two races contained within this pdf, the first of which would be the gyrenomes. They are not affected by wanderlust and instead focused on insatiable curiosity, with a propensity for knowledge and tech. Sounds familiar? Yeah, they are somewhat like a slightly less insane version of Krynn’s tinker gnomes.

Stat-wise, they get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis (grin), are Small and packrats: If they spend 10 minutes organizing their backpacks etc., they are treated as Medium for the purposes of carrying capacity. They can also jury-rig items, offsetting the penalties of the broken condition as a move action, for up to 1 round per character level. Cool! They get a +2 racial bonus to Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) and gain Technologist as a bonus feat. When crafting any of the tech-based items (as via Craft Cybernetics, etc.), they can do so in half the time and at half cost HOWEVER, if they choose to do so and roll a 1 on a crafting check or failing it by 5 or more, they need to roll on the malfunctions table. These become only apparent upon using the item. To not go the quick and risky route requires a Will-save, btw. The malfunctions table, in case you were wondering, is massive: From blowing up to generating cheap dye or doubled charge use, the effects are mechanically relevant, have extremely tight mechanical effects (damage types, bonuses, etc.) and the table is 3 full pages long! LOVE it! Gyrenomes also have acid and fire resistance 5 and proficiency with hand and repeating crossbows. They treat one-handed firearms and tech-based ones as martial weapons.

The race comes with a total o 4 different alternate racial traits – fey roots replaces the tech savviness with classic gnome SPs and a+ bonus to saves versus charms and compulsions; the packrat tricks can be replaced with +2 to saves vs. diseases and poisons. Smog breather replaces the resistances and allows them to temporarily ignore the effects of smoke/cloud-based effects (COOL!) and Zero Gravity Savant replaces the skill bonuses with +2 to Fly and better maneuverability. The substitutions are balanced, meaningful, elegant and fun. Kudos. We also get favored class options for alchemist, bard, gunslinger, occultist, rogue, summoner, swashbuckler and wizard. I have no complaints there.

The race sports the nanotechnician alchemist replaces mutagen with boost, an edible oil that takes 1 hour to produce and a full-round action to consume/activate. A nanotechnician can only benefit from one boost and only one may be maintained – no stockpiling. These can net scaling fast healing, mental or physical attribute boosts, SR, an electricity-based touch attack or a speed-enhancer. Boosts last for class level minutes and render the nanotechnician sickened after the duration has elapsed. Cool tweak. Swift and instant alchemy are replaced with full-round and standard action extract mixing and the capstone nets a potent, untyped damage bomb of nanites. Cool archetype! The second racial archetype is the racketeer swashbuckler, who gains a modified proficiency-list that includes one-handed firearms and one-handed technological weapons, which is also reflected in the panache-modification to regain points. The archetype also gets 7 unique deeds that replace standard deeds, allowing for gliding flight, sped up flight, barrel roll attacks, 45° or 90° turns, hovering, etc. – full blown aerial mobility here. The deeds are glorious and allow you to start with Batman type glides and then upgrade that. Instead of swashbuckler finesse and weapon training, these folks begin with a battered boost glider that later works as a jetpack. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter improve maneuverability, replacing nimble. Seriously cool archetype!

The race comes with a Ki Field feat that lets you expend ki for shield bonuses to AC. We get two mundane items – action vests can be studded with small items, which may then be quickly procured. Insta-rations are what you’d expect. Nice ones! Now, beyond the aforementioned boost glider, we also get omnitool gauntlets that work as a universal, charge-powered toolset for Craft and Disable Device checks. Neat! The tractor beam baton can move matter, with charges required depending on weight. We also get a new psychic/sorc/wiz/summoner spell at 1st level, overclocked weapon, which increases the damage output of big weapons, but also makes them prone to misfires. The write-up of this cool races concludes with a brief gazetteer of gnomehome, a sample village. And yes, the write-up does mention the appropriate age, height and weight tables to use.

Okay, so far, we have pure awesomeness – let’s see if the mogwai gremlin race can compete with that level of quality! Mentality-wise, they are conservative protectors of the natural order and as such, at odds with the gyrenomes. Rules-wise, they get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Str and are treated as fey. They are Tiny and fast for their size, gaining 30 ft. speed. Mogwai have low-light vision and treat Disable Device and Survival as class skills. Mogwai get a +1 racial bonus to atk versus androids and constructs, aptly named Rage Against the Machine. They can 1/day cast prestidigitation as a SP and Mogwai with a Wisdom of 13 or higher gain sabotage touch, usable 1/day versus non-intelligent technological items. On a success, the item suffers a malfunction, making great use of the inspired table, from the inverse end. They also get a +1 racial bonus to saves versus technological items and creatures. Instead of the prestidigitation SP, they can choose a 1 point, properly codified bite attack. This and low-light vision may be exchanged for darkvision and may replace RatM with +4 to trip. Bonus types are super-tight and the race gets its own age, height and weight table. Favored class option-wise, alchemist, barbarian, rogue and shaman are covered.

As far as class options are concerned, we get the primal nature oracle mystery, which nets access to Disable Device, Intimidate, Knowledge (nature) and Survival. Bonus spell-wise, we begin with break and move on to nature’s exile, magic circle against technology, primal regression and at higher levels, atavism, mass and return to nature. Nice spell-selection. The revelations include an untyped damage touch versus objects and constructs with limited daily uses. We also can grow natural weapons temporarily, which later upgrade to include enhancement bonuses. Two of these also may be maintained congruously at 11th level. Calling nature’s allies, commune with nature, replacing Dex-mod with Cha-mod for AC and Reflex-saves, Favored Enemy Spellcasting (constructs) as a bonus feat, which later adds Robot’s Bane and Technophobe, a variant, vampiric discharge… nice tricks here. The capstone nets the primordial template and immunity to all spells that don’t affect animals or plants as well as 1/day shapechange. All in all, a really nice mystery with a strong theme.

The second class option provided would be the blowslinger gunslinger archetype, who is, bingo, a blowgun specialist. Pellets may be imbued with poison, alchemy, etc. as a standard action and act as a conductor for the substances. Action economy of this improves at 7th and 15th level. This replaces gunsmith and menacing/startling shot. Grit applies to blowguns and we get 6 specialized blowgun-based deeds, with utility dart sporting two distinct uses that lets the blowslinger jam mechanisms and constructs or scoot objects. Keeping poison in the mouth sans ill effects, blowgun melee, sniping, negating AoOs when firing in melee and increasing save DCs of pellets – nice array. Gun training is replaced with blowgun training. The race gets a new item that is called “Ball of wasps” – guess what it does? Yes, I like it. Feat-wise, we get two racial feats: Spit Darts lets you hide darts in your mouth and speak two-word sentences while holding them there. Combine that with poison in the mouth. Neato. Toxic Bomb lets you add inhaled or contact poison to bombs. The racial spell provided is a clearly codified detect technological creatures and we conclude this racial write-up with a 1-page depiction of a gremlin warren as a fluffy backdrop.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level – even the small intricacies have been accounted for. Kudos indeed! Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series, with artworks being a blend of original b/w and fitting public domain art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kelly and Ken Pawlik and Margherita Tramontano deliver in spades in this humble racial supplement. This pdf provides two balanced, cool and flavorful races that employ the amazing malfunction table in the middle for a truly intriguing offering. I had no gripes regarding any of the options herein and indeed found myself excited about some of the class options and racial abilities, something which is not a given at this point. In short, this is an amazing little pdf, well worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Gnomes vs. Gremlins
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Ultimate 2nd Edition Comparable
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2018 10:50:29

Perhaps the most important and emotionally moving part of this document is it's unafraid use of negative space to bring to the forefront of both our minds and our discourse the unease many of us feel at a new version of Pathfinder being released.

Comprehensive in its coverage and soul bearing in its depth, this book was not only worth the $39.99 it cost (plus $14.95 shipping.. for a PDF(?), but given the effort and risk compliting this information took, I'm sure it's to cover that) but also whatever the season pass DLC will cost as well. I open my wallet, my mind and my heart freely in thanks for the sacrifice and love shown by producing this product professionally for profit.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate 2nd Edition Comparable
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/11/2018 05:03:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the cool Letters from the Flaming Crab series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of editorial, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

All right, we begin this pdf, as always, with a great little letter dropped from the planes- and worlds-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab, found and faithfully transcribed by J Gray – and we begin this pdf with a brief recap of the institutions of libraries before defining it – for the purpose of this book and fantastic contexts, a library ultimately is a collection of information and similar forms of entertainment, composed most often, of written words. This definition, as the pdf acknowledges, is rather technical, though – ultimately, a library is more. If you have ever walked the hallsof a proper university library or perhaps even the thoroughly impressive ancient ones out there and felt the sheer awe they inspire, you’ll know what I meant. The nature and composition of the books, its building and nature all thoroughly influence the character of the place, a notion that can be easily amplified in a fantastic context, while knowledge even more directly translates to power than in our world.

Now, the pdf begins with a general step-by-step guideline regarding the creation of libraries – first, one should determine the type: Whether public or private, and then we move on to take a look at accessibility – after all, pretty much all governments, particularly those inclined towards totalitarian modes of operation, have a tendency to restrict access and information…same goes, obviously, for religions: Heresy, false information – the propaganda conflicts of the medieval ages once more sound pretty contemporary these days, in our brave new world…so yeah, society, groups and persons that established the libraries will ultimately define the accessibility and themes of a library. Similarly, circulation is a potential issue – curators, librarians and assistants, organization and audience should be taken into account. Nice: The effects of the various starting attitudes of curators have been noted, with extensive behavior guidelines for the GM – and yes, friendly curators can have pretty nice tangible benefits for the PCs.

Now, the pdf employs Ultimate Intrigue’s nice research rules to provide a vast variety of different libraries – these come with several research thresholds each and sport interesting ideas that rang from the obvious adventure angle to the more fantastic – there is e.g. the Dwarven Mining College Library, which can yield important notes on hidden veins of ore…and there’s a wagon of children#s books, some of which cannot be deciphered by adults and only make sense to children reading them…who curiously never tell what they read. If you wanted an excuse to employ Everyman gaming’s cool Childhood Adventures-rules…there you go! Mistress Sandwind’s unfinished magnum opus’ trail can be found beneath the desert sands. Another interesting example would be a national library (minor complaint here: One line is missing blank spaces – a little layout hiccup, I guess…) and, following the pretty loose definition of “library”, the court of Lishaz, sage of winter, is provided as an interesting example of an unconventional library.

Within a sunken city, last remnant of a once resplendent civilization, beckons – all those that can reach it. Reading rooms can be found…and the medical collection of a temple comes with a rare disease that only very few are susceptible to…and notes on how it could be caused. So if you’re looking for a Dr. House-like story to tell, there you go. Speaking of plague: Pcture a metropolis, wrecked, like clockwork, every 150 years by a plague – and holds e.g. a hidden mummy…and ancient pictographs may well hold the secret to end this scourge. Oh, and yes, there is a virtual library, remnant of a crashed starship, so if you’re enjoying a bit of sword & planet/science-fantasy, this has you covered.

Okay, after this pretty diverse and inspiring chapter, we move on to defining and discussing a variety of different document types – from tablets to codices to the virtual, this section is nice…and then, we move on to one aspect of PFRPG near and dear to my heart. As a polyglot and language-nerd, I always hated how most d20-based systems, including PFRPG, handle languages – one skill point per language?? Seriously? Anyways, this trivializes many of the cool scenes and hooks I enjoy in horror literature, sword & sorcery, etc. – hence e.g. the elimination of common in my games…and some house-rules. The pdf proposes a rather simple and elegant system here, one that is focused on gradient fluency. There are 3 general levels: Competent, fluent and proficient – if you ever took a language test, you should be familiar with the meanings, right. For each skill point in Linguistics gained, you assign two fluency points. This makes mastering a language a bit more complex and allows the GM finer distinction between proficiency-levels…and allows for more complex roleplaying situations. The benefits and limitations of the respective fluency levels are concisely defined, with proficiency providing minor benefits to award specialization – I really, really like this solution! Huge plus for the pdf here and what I’d consider to be a selling point – if you’re planning an occult, horror or intrigue-based campaign (or one with a more sword and sorcery-esque theme), then this should be considered to be mandatory reading. And yes, the rules are simple and rewarding enough to not overly complicate any book-keeping required – I’d suggest a superscript C, F or P noted with the languages. As a final aside here: Knowing a few words to get around is covered – really helpful!

Really cool, btw.: The pdf has collected a whole page of class options, items and spells that tie in with the concept of libraries – helpful and neat…kudos for going the extra mile here.

The pdf also sports some class options, the first of which would be the library subdomain, which is associated with Community and Knowledge, replacing either calming touch or lore keeper, respectively. The ability granted is narrative gold: Mind palace lets you read a tome as part of your morning prayers, allowing you to nigh-perfectly recall content, reflected by a bonus to Knowledge checks that scales with levels. This is gold for detective scenarios and sports a really nice imagery; it is also convenient for narrative games, as the quicker study can be helpful indeed. There is also a new oracle mystery, the words mystery, which nets Linguistics and Perform as class skills. Bonus spells range from the usual suspects like comprehend languages to spellcasting contracts, being a bit more vanilla than the notably cool replacement domain spells provided by the cleric subdomain. (Which include, just fyi, psychic asylum (library only) – which made me recall one of my favorite scenes from the Hannibal franchise. But I digress. The revelations available in the mystery are interesting – there is e.g. automatic writing that is prophetic and later upgraded to commune (spell-italicization missing)…which is interesting, but I consider it cooler to learn about an author by analyzing a text written – this makes for a pretty cool tool, which, at higher levels, also duplicates spell-effects. Here, the italicization’s correct, just fyi. Countering effects based on written or spoken words a limited amount of times per day is cool, but I am not 100% sold on how it works – you see, it references countersong as how it works – but countersong is based on bardic performance rounds, while the ability instead has a daily use array, which you’d expect from e.g. an immediate action counter ability and which makes it quite hard to decipher how this is supposed to work. Clarification would be appreciated here. “Esoteri Research”[sic!] is utterly broken. It lets you research spells from one class list of your choice as though they were two levels lower. Once you complete research of the spell, you gain it at +1 spell level as an oracle spell. Notice the issue? Well, oracles are limited by being spontaneous casters and their limited spell array – this allows you to basically use research to not only poach in another spell-list, it also eliminates the limit imposed on the spellcasting of the class. Not cool.

The next revelation is not properly formatted and looks like a continuation of the previous revelation, having its name indented as well. It is written has a terminology issue: Once per day, you can write a spell in air, earth or paper. (Oddly specific – why not in water?) The spell then is treated as not having verbal or “cheap material components” - okay, what is cheap? No cost? Anything below 1 gp? No idea. This is not proper rules language. Gaining access to symbol spells is nice and I really like the idea of swift action enlarging pens, quills, etc. to act as longswords, with a bit of class-level-based bonus damage. The ability only allows for one attack before reverting to standard size, though, and with a swift action and limited daily activations, is unfortunately rather weak. I really like the visuals of wall of text: You yammer on, creating a wall that deflects arrows, etc. – basically a variant wall of sound…and once more, the interaction with the referenced base are what sinks this. You see, it can be maintained for 10 (!!!) minutes per class level and you may spend them in 10-minute increments; unlike the spell, you do NOT RAW need concentration to maintain it. I am also not sure if it cause wall of sound’s damage…or not. Instead of the damage, the wall seems to be able to STUN targets on a failed save for ridiculously long times. Even stranger – the ability has a separate stun chance when near the oracle, which implies that the oracle needs to be directly behind the wall…which contradicts the range of wall of sound and leaves me utterly incapable of determining of how this should work. All in all, a promising mystery that is severely hampered by its rules-issues.

The final component of the pdf would be a magic item, the bookring, whose gems can hold non-magical tomes – which ends the pdf on a high note and with some cool, inspiring ideas.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not as good as usual for the series – I have noticed a couple of typo-level glitches and the rules-language hiccups I found are pretty obvious and left me a bit puzzled. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf employs neat, thematically fitting artworks – some from public domain and some really nice books with landscapes on their pages, visualizing the imaginary process.

June Bordas, Lindsey Shanks-Abel and Margherita Tramontano deliver a per se really cool installment here: I absolutely adored the section on libraries, the GM-guidelines and the fluency-section is gold – personally, I’ll employ an even finer distinction, but the rules are simple and concise enough to allow a GM easy modification: I’d suggest, for example, paying off of competence penalties and/or gaining proficiency benefits on a point-for-benefit-basis. I pretty much liked everything about this book apart from the formal hiccups and the disappointing oracle mystery, which represents a weird dip in overall quality; it is more vanilla than the subdomain and falls e.g. short of R.O.D.’s (Read or Die for non-Otakus – an anime classic) extensive tricks…or the more down to earth research tricks. Balancing of this one is really wonky as well and it drags, alongside the smaller glitches, down what otherwise would be a truly excellent supplement. As written, I cannot go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down, as I have to rate the whole book as a reviewer. If you can look past a couple of minor glitches and the mystery, then you should consider this a 5 star + seal file instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends
by Kim F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2018 08:49:28

This was originally review on the Open Gaming Network.

We take products and review them, intending to give the reader the best chance of evaluating whether this particular release is for them.

There is, of course, a scoring system, similar to that used elsewhere, in a 5-star rating, which we have determined as follows:

1 – Bad 2 – Mediocre 3 – Decent 4 – Good 5 * – Excellent

The following review is an OPINION piece and only reflects the opinion and tastes (because ultimately, all reviews will be based on personal taste) of the reviewer.

That disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the show!

This week we give you Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends

Publisher: Flaming Crab Games

Author: Charlie, Clara, Giorgio, Isaac, Kennedy, London, Lumi, Michele, Oliver

Cover Artist: Charlie, Clara, Giorgio, Isaac, Kennedy, London, Lumi, Michele, Oliver

System: Pathfinder

Page count: 25 ( 1 page cover, 1 page credits, 20 page content and 3 page OGL).

This is a weird one, in that it’s not a “classic” art cover, but considering that the title of the product is Imaginary Friends, it makes perfect sense that the illustrations are some that appear to be made by children (in fact, they are). Does this put me in the right mind? It sure does, it gives me an idea that this is either a product that designed for children, by children or something that’ll appeal to those who are still children at heart. (Not to be confused with those who are childish, as that is two entirely different things in my book).

The book itself focuses on the idea of imaginary friends being real, and protective of children. They all start with a base CR 2 form, and then each takes on a further form if their child ward is threatened. While the base form is CR 2, the manifested forms range from CR 2 to CR 8, depending on the form of the particular imaginary friend. Each form comes with its own illustration (3 of which are used for the cover), and are drawn by children, and (I believe) described by children, and then statted out. Each creature is remarkably well balanced for it’s CR, and each of them is something that I can recall and relate to from when I was a child, or from the children I’ve known myself. There’s a strange pool of color, a gunslinging shark-thing, as well as a robot and a creature made out of shapes. Each comes with different abilities and different names.

If it is not evident yet, I REALLY like these, and the idea of having a protective imaginary friend brings up many scenarios that I could think, especially for those rare adventures where the PCs are children (or played by children, and in need of a protective NPC).

Finally, there are 2 new feats, one which allows you to take an imaginary friend as a familiar and one that allows you to see invisibility once per day, plus granting you a class skill and a bonus on will saves. This is probably the weakest part of the book, as I’m not sure how much use these imaginary friends would be to the spellcasters who could get them (one of the creatures is only obtainable by a 19th level caster), and the other feat (for see invisibility) is probably too powerful, but that really is my only critique.

And so we come to the conclusion:

Editing here is great, I didn’t notice any typos or errors, and the content of the book itself is new and refreshing. As said, the only weak point, in my opinion, is the feats, but that is such a minor thing compared to the rest of the content hidden within. If you have a group who are willing to embrace their inner child or play child-PCs, then this book is for you.

As such, my conclusion comes in at 5-stars. This product is very likely to see use at my own gaming table, perhaps not for my regular group, but once my daughter grows up, I expect she’ll have an imaginary friend. (though, it was missing a dragon friend… Perhaps there’ll be a book 2? J )



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends
by Santo A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2017 15:18:13

For a complete review, please check out : http://goo.gl/GAwtXB

This book is imaginative, fun, and a nice break from the norm but is ultimately pretty niche. Even with the 16 new creatures and 2 new feats created by this book I found myself wanting more information about the origins of these mysterious creatures. Templates which allow you the ability to help create your own imaginary friend would be amazing or random encounter tables with story ideas for how to integrate into an already running adventure would have done wonders.

Despite this criticism, I’m happy to have this in my collection, and just based off its creativity alone I would rate this content a solid A-.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Puppet Show
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/14/2017 08:26:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the unique „Letters from the Flaming Crab“-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with, as always, a nice, letter from the eponymous planes-hopping vessel, before diving right into the crunchy bits – which, this time around, would be a new hybrid class – the marionetteer, whose parents would be both summoners and vigilantes. Interesting combination, right? Well, chassis-wise, the marionetteer gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, ¾ BAB-progression and good Will-saves.

The marionetteer can conceal the animated nature of a puppet – checks to Disguise marionettes as regular, inert puppets receive a +20 bonus; dual identity pertains the puppets. The marionetteer begins play with a Tiny puppet, the marionette. This puppet has hardness 3, 5 hp, 3lbs. weight and is bonded to an entity who brings it to life at the marionetteer’s command. In effect, the marionette is two things at once: The inanimate puppet receptacle and the animating spirit – these are referred to as the inert and animate forms. Calling the spirit into a puppet requires 1 minute. At 14th level, the marionette may be animated as a full-round action and the marionetteer doesn’t have to touch it – it just has to be within 100 ft.

Unless chosen otherwise, the puppet is inconspicuous and attempts to scry on the puppet work only when the puppet’s form is what’s searched for. The marionette is not a summoned creature, but may be forced into the inert state by being subjected to dismissing effects à la banishment etc. It acts on the same initiative as the marionetteer. It requires commanding, which is a move action that provokes AoOs. The commanding process, however, is pretty subtle, requiring a challenging Sense Motive DC and observation of both marionetteer and puppet – the DC scales with class levels and Cha-mod of the marionetteer. Marionetteers can only command marionettes up to 100 ft. away and they require line of sight; a marionette sans commands doesn’t act, but is not helpless – pretty important, there. Replacing an inert marionette takes 12 hours and class level times 10 gp and replenishes ½ maximum hit points. The marionetteer may only have one active marionette at any given time.

Since marionettes and eidolons work similarly, the rules for eidolons, including table, have been reprinted here for your convenience, which is nice. Now, where marionettes and eidolons differ in how they work would be the base form available – there are two base-form chassis types available for the marionette, the Arsenal and the Proxy. Both get a different set of accessible evolutions, allowing for different playing experiences – the Arsenal is Medium, the proxy is Small – both get claws, arms and legs, but the proxy also gets precise strike (basically a 1d4-sneak analogue that may be taken multiple times); the proxy is basically more subtle; they do not gain share spells. Arsenals get good Fort and Ref-saves, Proxies get good Will-saves. Arsenals have a base speed of 20 ft., proxies have a base speed of 30 ft. The claws inflict appropriate damage (1d4 for Arsenal, 1d3 for Proxies). Evolution points are reassigned at a newly gained level or when the marionette is replaced. Starting at 8th level, the marionetteer no longer needs line of sight to control marionettes within 100 ft.

At 1st level, 4th and every 3 levels thereafter, the marionetteer gains a social talent, using his class level as vigilante levels for the purpose of prerequisites. Marionetteers are always considered to be in their social identity. At 1st level, they add ½ class level as a bonus to Perform when using the inert marionette – I assume minimum 1 here, a minor oversight. Starting at 2nd level, they gain +1/2 class level to either Perform or Bluff. At 7th level, 1/day a marionetteer can cause those watching his performance cause suggestions for those watching the performance.

Starting at 3rd level, the marionetteer can repair damage done to the marionette 3 + Charisma modifier times per day as a standard action. This restores 1d8 hp. At 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the healing increases by +1d8. The ability can only used while the marionette is in inert form. Returning a marionette into inert form, just fyi, takes a standard action.

Starting at 5th level, a marionetteer can, as a standard action, animate Tiny, non-magical, unattended objects within 100 ft., as if using animate objects. The animation period spans 3 + class level rounds and at 7th level and every odd level thereafter, the number of puppets or their sizes increase. Multiple objects thus animated may be commanded with the same move action. At 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the marionetteer can maintain an additional marionette – only one may be active, but the marionetteer may basically switch through them, which is surprisingly cool!

At 12th level, as a standard action, the marionetteer can cause a humanoid target within 100 ft. within line of sight to make a Reflex save (DC governed by Cha-modifier); on a failure, the creature is dominated by Charisma modifier rounds; the dominated creature can be commanded as a move action that provokes AoOs. Creatures thus ensnared by the commanding strings of the marionetteer can attempt to escape the mystic bondage via Strength or Escape Artist checks. Nice one and, due to the lack of limitations apart from duration, a powerful tool.

As a capstone, the class gains either the option to split the animating force into 2 marionettes at once (both of which suffer -3 to all d20-rolls while the animating force is split thus) and may command them at once, or the marionetteer may share senses with the marionette and command them as a swift action.

Evolution-wise, we get full movement while using Acrobatics and Stealth and the option to make startling attacks when unaware of the marionette, rendering the target flat-footed versus the marionette (gets uncanny dodge interaction right); we also get increased speed. Scaling DR to represent the constructed body, firearm training, a second life (banishment to a home plane) – all in all, a nice array. The class gets archetypes: The performer replaces social talent with bardic performance and social grace with +1/2 class level to Diplomacy – basically, an archetype for less social-heavy games.

There is more, but, unlike what you might have expected, we go one step beyond: The pdf now proceeds to contextualize different, interesting puppeteering traditions; these are represented in more than one associated archetype; take Bunraku, one of the traditional Japanese traditions: We get the Phantom Puppeteers bardic masterpiece, which creates buffing mirror image-like shadow assistants – pretty cool! The marionetteer archetype here would be the Joruri: The puppet they use to animate needs to be bigger and as such, is more conspicuous: The puppet is as tall as the animated marionette (remember: The puppet for the regular marionette is Tiny!) – the archetype loses the animate objects-ability tree in favor of 3 + Cha-mod make whole, the ability to have the animated, sentient marionette guard them while sleeping and allow the puppet to heal them when dropped to 0 hp or below via Heal. At higher levels, we have a puppet that heals class level hit points per night. At 13th level, the marionetteer may accept the damage taken by the puppet and he may, 1/round, take a condition inflicted upon the marionette. 15th level nets the ability to share senses and commanding the puppet no longer requires hand movements. 17th level allows the puppet to drain spell-completion objects held to gain fast healing temporarily; at 19th level, the puppet gains temporary hit points and a buff against the caster upon succeeding a save against a single-target spell. Additionally, reduced effects on a success are completely negated.

Amazing: We dive into Afghan Buz-Baz, puppetry accompanied by music, next: The bardic masterpiece associated here would be the Bolero of Obedience, which allows you to issue commands or murderous commands, but lets the target retain mental and verbal command of his actions…now here’s a creepy visual for you… The archetype provides would be the Markhor Maestro, an archetype for the druid, which gains a modified class skill list and modifies the skill bonuses gained by nature sense to apply to perform (string) instead. They use Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute and are locked into a ram companion. They also gain inspire courage as a bard of their level, but only apply the benefits to the companion and summoned creatures. Flavorful one.

Giant puppetry comes with the Manipulation of the Massive masterpiece, which allows you to penalize the saves of bigger creatures or buffs allies to ignore size modifiers or restrictions based on size against creatures taller than you – this one can, depending on your campaign, be potentially be really overpowered – in e.g. an anti-dragon/giant campaign, I’d ban this masterpiece. The archetype presented for the marionetteer replaces the ability to have multiple marionettes at the ready with a single marionette that grows in size – space/reach, modifiers etc. are provided.

Chinese/Taiwanese glove puppetry (Du Dai Xi/Po Te Hi) is represented by the Battle of Sheng Mountain, Final Act masterpiece nets 1-hour per class level inspire courage sans performing, and targets may, as a swift action, end the effect with moment of greatness –cool. There also is the puppet partnership spell, which ties a puppet with an ally, allowing you to buff the ally while concentrating on the spell – per se a standard buff made cool by the visuals, which render the spell unique. The puppet protector is basically a figurine type that animates as a puppet fighter – three variants are included.

Indonesian Ondel-ondel comes with the Invocation of the Guardian masterpiece, that calls forth a protective ancestral spirit. The ondel-ondel sentinel would be basically a costume/puppet that you enter – you can sense evil inside and may merge with the puppet – think of it as a non-scifi-ish paladin-y power armor. Really cool! Punch and Judy are represented by Slapstick Reaction can cause targets to attack allies on failed saves; the Punchman bard archetype replaces well-versed with increased demoralize durations; lore master’s 5th level use is replaced with an immediate action option to grant allies rerolls versus enchantments/compulsions by expending bardic performances. They replace suggestion with dispel magic. Shadowgraphy is represented by The Nightmare Revue masterpiece – which can be brutal. AoE phantasmal killer…OUCH! And yes, minimum level etc. make that okay…and yes, I can picture that being one cool story angle… The archetype associated with this tradition would be the umbral pupetteer summoner: The eidolon gets the shadow creature template, but the creature can only be called in darkness. Summon monster is replaced with shadow conjuration, which expands to greater shadow conjuration at higher levels.

Ventriloquism comes with the Phantom Voice masterpiece allows you to hijack the utterances of other creaturesm which can be used for all kinds of cool shenanigans. The focused arcane school associated with necromancy that is presented here, gastromancy, lets you listen to the stomachs of the dead, listening to their wishes. (Yes, that’s a thing!) The final tradition of puppetry depicted herein would be Mua Roi Nuoc – Vietnamese water puppetry. The masterpiece we get here would be The Crocodile and the Farmer’s Daughter combines communal water walk with the option to gain, as a swift action, expeditious retreat for 1 round while still on the water. We also get a spell here – water dancer – basically the significantly improved and amazing version of water walk: You can walk up steep inclines, and even up waterfalls! Water elementals don’t get water mastery against you, etc. – cool!

Now those of you who, like myself, tend to enjoy researching other cultures may be aware that quite a few of the puppetry traditions here are associated with rituals/festivals – well, guess what? There actually are kingdom-edicts for kingdom-building rules herein: Glove puppetry, ondel-ondel and flood festival all come with their own edicts that helps the respective kingdom. Really cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – there are a couple of minor hiccups (like “arionette”), but those don’t influence the integrity of the rules. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf features several really nice public domain artworks and photographs that do a better job at conveying atmosphere than bad stock art could. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

J Gray, Jeff Lee, Neal Litherland, Michael McCarthy and Anthony Toretti are all experienced designers – and it shows here. Siobhan Bjorknas and J Gray in development certainly did a good job unifying narrative voices. For one, while this is most certainly a very, very crunchy book, its crunch is constantly grounded in cool ideas, flavorful descriptions, etc. – even in engine-tweak-style archetypes, there is some soul, some unique identity and cultural context, which does a lot to endear these concepts to me. The marionetteer class is GLORIOUS – it is not necessarily a great class for mega-dungeon exploration, but for e.g. Ravenloft-esque adventures, intrigue/social/city-campaigns or those focusing on the occult (or on explorations of different cultures!), this is GOLD. The hybrid class manages to retain the influence of both parent classes without being just a collection of recombined parts and ranks as one of the most flavorful examples for hybrid classes I know – it has a distinct and unique identity I enjoy.

The grounding of class options in the diverse puppetry traditions covered is a great idea and opened my eyes to some cultural traditions I wasn’t aware of – in a manner, this pdf actually ended up educating me, which is something I love. The diverse options for the traditions kept me glued to the screen, and frankly, in spite of this review having been more work than the average letter, I was honestly bummed when I reached the end of the pdf – the concept of puppetry and the notions explored herein, these cool traditions, they inspired me more than I expected and I’d frankly love to see more. What more can you ask of a short pdf like this? Excellent job, 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of minor blemishes here and there – the totality of concept, flavor and crunch is too cool to rate it any lower.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Puppet Show
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Monster Circus
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/13/2017 06:17:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games delightfully gonzo series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we begin with an eponymous letter from our favorite planes- and dimension-hopping vessel, the UCS Flaming Crab, continuing the charming and well-written meta-narrative that leads us to the topic at hand, which would be Argent & Midnight’s Circus Esoterica and Extravaganza of the Strange. This time, however, Gale and Jilius, the writers of this letter and latest members of the crew, actually also provide a second letter – and we get full stats for the friendly harpy sorceress and her harpy unchained rogue (pack rat) half-sister – as well as an absolutely STUNNING full-color, full-page artwork for the two: Kudos to artists Allen Morris and André Karwath!

Now, this circus, colloquially called Monster Circus, does have, obviously, a menagerie – here, we can find Humongous the owlbear, deathmaw the nasty-tempered manticore, flintbeak the cockatrice and also Crusty and Rusty, the rust monster…and the rust-removal monster! Yep, you heard me! One of the various mini-modules/encounters presented in conjunction with the circus deals with this unique and amazing little critter. I know that many an adventuring group will want one of these as a pet…

The astute reader may have noticed that some of these monsters mentioned above are intelligent…well, yeah, but with a ringmaster like the fully-statted Mr. Smiley, a goblin celebrity lich, there is a good reason why e.g. deathmaw doesn’t maul audiences. And his right-hand man Mr. Nick, a doppelganger expert can help cover up…issues as well. Cool, btw.: Mr. Smiley subsists on a unique diet, if you will: His phylactery sustains the lich in a rather devious manner. How? Well, I’m not going to spoil that!

Among the sights, there would also be Hugo Howl, the werewolf conductor, who guides his 12-headed singing hydra (stats provided) in a unique variation of throat-singing. One of the encounters proposed deals with this constellation: Hugo was fancied by a newcomer to the circus family, a vampire, and tried to resist her advance with garlic. Alas, that made him very enticing for his hydra, who ate him. The vampire was promptly disposed of, but now, no one can coax the hydra to sing! In order to help the circus, the PCs can investigate Hugo’s wagon and solve a nice, rather easy puzzle (or brute-force it, if that’s how you roll). Cool sidequest!

Beyond these folks, there is the living tapestry, whose prophecies can provide help for future encounters; Guk the troll and the bugbear Kursha, herself the tamer, make for interesting beings to meet…and finally, there are the Flying lashley twins – choker acrobats! These two unfortunately have some larcenous tendencies that may need to be reined in, as depicted in another sidetrek presented.

Nice, btw.: The pdf does come with a brief glossary of circus terms.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues beyond e.g. the level of the rust-removal monster being once called rust monster. Cosmetic stuff. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some amazing pieces of full-color and b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee and Alex Shanks-Abel deliver an impressive set-piece to insert into your campaign. The circus and its colorful, weird inhabitants and their stats make for a fun and diverse backdrop to adventure in. The pre-made encounters and playful tone help differentiate the pdf from similar offerings, making it a really fun, evocative backdrop to include in your game. Writing-quality-wise, this is absolutely top-notch and brims with creativity. On the downside, I really would have loved to get a map of the circus and/or the respective wagons – while the lack of a map doesn’t really hurt the pdf, it also represents my one minor complaint against an otherwise truly excellent, fun little offering. Hence my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Monster Circus
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
by Christen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2017 08:40:29

I have loved the Advanced Archetype stuff from Flaming Crab for a good long while. But I when looking at the “Letters from…” series, like many of you, had mostly thought "whimsical" when considering it. Nothing wrong with whimsy I say but not always to the quick with my pocketbook for it. But then I noticed that one of those products (this one) was labeled "World Tree" and being a longtime fan of the myth of Yggdrasil and the planar essence it adds to adventures I was immediately sold.

Again here I made a second mistake... because the product was neither whimsical (though there is a touch of whimsy) nor specifically about Yggdrasil. I am rarely so happy to be so wrong. It is a new (if familiar) myth, about a very SIMILAR tree but with its own origins. The material could serve as Yggdrasil, an offshoot or its analog. But also stands on its own.

And the crunch. I was not expecting that. So much. A religion about the dryad goddess of the tree with full Obedience rules (Like PFCS Inner Sea faiths). A fully developed PC race (with ARG buyout) having its own alternate racials, equipment, favored class bonuses (including classes from Advanced Class Guide and Occult Adventures and racial archetypes. Half a dozen monsters ranging from CR 2 to 24. Random encounters by the relative height the party is at in the tree, both relevant and clever.

All of that and still presented in a strong narrative frame with a clear layout, advice for adaptation, and a useable settlement with story elements for adventure. Even a great sidebar on adapting the material to other origins. Decidedly cohesive and well-thought. I applaud the team for delivering something so ubiquitously good and despise them a little bit because now I have to reconsider buying the whole damn series.

(It even has RATTATOSKIR so it pretty much won right there.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Ioun Artifacts
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/01/2017 04:11:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Ioun stones are magic items near and dear to my heart; and, after the usual, well-written framing narrative penned on the world-hopping UCS Flaming Crab, the pdf makes one thing clear – the ioun stones herein are not priced; they are intended to have the proper GM-control and they should represent unique treasure. They all clock in at either CL 12 or, most of the time, CL 20 – which may be closer to how they were envisioned in the first place, but at the same time, this makes judging their power/when they’re appropriate not necessarily easier. Thus, GMs using this book should have a bit of confidence in their skills in judging when and where making these available makes sense.

Okay, so the ioun stones portrayed herein belong to one of three distinct categories. The first of these would be chakra stones, which are born from beings that attain a sense of enlightenment that makes them disperse in the multiverse, reaching a higher state of existence. One is provided for each chakra, and they provide additional benefits to those that can open their chakras. No more than one such ioun stone can be assigned to each chakra. Additionally, the benefits of these chakra-themed ioun stones increase and provide some synergy benefits. This idea, per se, is pretty cool: Considering that the chakra-system presented in Occult Adventures can use a bit of a power upgrade, I can see these having a place in the game. So what do they do?

Well, to take the first one: The root stone nets you DR/- equal to the number of chakra stones being worn or the root chakra’s benefits, whichever is higher. If the chakra’s open, the character also gets fast healing for 1 round equal to the number of chakras opened. Okay, does that reset for each opened chakra at +1 or does it only activate upon opening the root chakra? When the character has the sacral stone, he also gets a bonus to CMD equal to the number of stones worn to resist being lifted off the floor or moved from the current position. Why not simply state the maneuvers to which that applies?? You know, for proper rules-language? Or provide a bonus that also applies to saves against such effects, at least. With the crown stone, we also get a 1/day Fort-save reroll – sans action, I assume. Now, this may sound nitpicky, but it really annoyed me: Ioun stones are WORN, not wielded. They are not weapons. The pdf constantly calls the character using them “wielder.” Then again, that may just be me, so it will not influence the final verdict.

What will, however, influence the final verdict would be stuff like this wording: “This stone grants the wielder the ability to use fly once per day, as cast by a 5th level caster.” – so, is that supposed to be a spell-completion? Spell-trigger? Does it grant the wearer the SP to do so? Why is the CL different from that of the item, which is 20th? The synergy bonuses between stones and open chakras of this item provide fly speed maneuverability improvements, so do these stack? Note that, yes, there are ioun stones out there that duplicate spells. Their wording, alas, is different and…precise.

This is really, really weird. Another ability should provide a defensive shield – you know, one that deals damage to the attacker if you’re hit. It sports this non-entity of a wording: “When an attacker strikes the wielder with its body or a hand-held weapon…” – so, what is a hand-held weapon? Do weapons with reach qualify? What about tail spurs? Tentacles? Claws? “body or hand-held weapon” is NOT proper rules-language. We also have e.g. a healing effect that has no activation action here, a sonic cone that lacks an activation action (AND a saving throw!) – it’s weird…particularly since some of the wordings do get issues like that right. Still, as a whole, this section does not live up to the level of care and quality I’ve come to expect from Flaming Crab Games. It’s a great concept, but the execution needs serious fine-tuning. Oh, know what the capstone, the legendary guidance of the ascended master that you get for getting all 7 artifacts is? 3/day augury, 90% success. WTF. Totally worthwhile. Right?

Okay, so, let’s move on to category 2, which would be dragonstones, first featured in the Letter on Tiny dragons…as non-artifacts. With a theme of activation by tiny dragon familiars. The ones herein are artifacts, born of the sacrifice of a dragon and another being. These are not continuously active and must be activated intentionally: A dragon must sing the name of the dragon that died making the stone as a standard action, unlocking it. After that, the character to benefit from it must use a standard action to activate it. Each stone’s abilities come in 4 steps: The higher the HD of the dragon, the more potent the benefits the non-dragon will get: 5 HD and every 5 HD thereafter unlock a new ability. Unless otherwise noted, lower HD abilities are retained when higher HD options are unlocked. Dragon stones for brine, astral, crystal, dream, etheric, lunar, magma, occult, prism, solar, time and void are provided. And know what’s weird? In spite of being artifacts, none of the dragonstones herein were as interesting as the non-artifact versions…

Unfortunately, the issues that plagued the chakra-stones can also be found here: CLs missing. “effective caster levels”, which are RAW not something you find in PFRPG; the ability to cast a spell that is not codified as a SP etc. and thus makes it weird to determine effects, DC, whether the dragon or character’s stats are used, whether spell failure is a thing, etc. Also weird: Since the stones can be activated an infinite number of times per day, 1/day limitations can feel strange – is that per character or a total maximum? “Once per day while the 5 HD power of the brine dragonstone is active, the wielder acts as if she is the target of the slipstream spell.” Okay, CL? Dragon HD? Stone? How is this choice activated? First activation? User’s choice? I don’t even have to try to poke more holes into these; I could poke more than I honestly care to do. We also have abilities that obviously should be immediate actions, etc.

And then we have the elephants in the room: Infinite activation and steep action economy. You literally need a dragon on hand AND basically spend a whole round of the dragon AND the character to activate the items. For, what often amounts to spells in a can. Infinite spell use is something I personally despise, but even in a game where that’d be okay, you need, literally a really powerful dragon. And frankly, I cannot picture a single instance where this use of a dragon’s action would be justified. Not one. The original, non-artifact dragonstones focused on unique utility effects, often modified spells, and while the ones herein are somewhat similar, their combat utility is horrendous.

For that, the dragonstones presented are too tame, not unique enough. I like the idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. And yes, if you play with dragon familiars etc., you run into another issue – namely potentially infinite activation…for unlike the previously-released ones, the options here are…well, less cool.

Okay, so what about the third category? These would be zodiac stones: Standard abilities are granted to all wearers; matching abilities are only granted to wearers with the same sign as the stone. Ruling abilities are granted to creatures during the time period ruled by the zodiac sign. Birth abilities are only granted on the creature’s birthday and only if its zodiac sign matches the stone. Once again, we have issues regarding the wording, regarding spell activation (see e.g. the agate ellipsoid for an example of an ioun stone that duplicates a spell precisely…)…and I’ll come right out and say it: This is the single, most cumbersome system I’ve seen for a magic item. It requires not only that you have fixed birthdays for the PCs; it also requires that you know (and track!) their sign AND when it rules. That is a lot of stuff to keep track of. The benefits the item-class provides for this added book-keeping had to be amazing for this level of book-keeping… and it is, frankly, underwhelming. On birthdays, we usually for example get an increase of energy resistance and a spell-in-a-can. Oh. Great. Sorry, but the pay-off is not adequate. Really weird: Clarification on the chakra stones’ voice of the ascended master is in this chapter, at the other end of the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though e.g. placement of the aforementioned box is weird; on a rules-language level, this is by far the weakest pdf Flaming Crab Games has released in the whole line. In short: It needs a rewrite. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series, with neat, fitting artworks in color and b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Ben Dowell, J Gray, Phoebe Harris and Scott Young had ideas for 3 utterly unique and cool ioun stone categories. Alas, the execution of these really leaves something to be desired. If you’ve been looking for artifacts, storied unique items with hooks etc. – you won’t find that here. What you’ll find instead are three item-systems that are extremely rough around the edges.

All items herein require serious investment to use and don’t provide sufficient incentive to do so; in fact, they all feel relatively generic, more so than generic magic items sometimes do; compared to e.g. Legendary Games’ item-pdfs, this falls flat big time.

Is it possible for the GM to use these? Yeah, sure. You can polish them, clean up the action economy and use the material herein. But, from my perspective, there simply isn’t enough incentive to do so. For that, the benefits are too vanilla, too “been there, done that”, too non-game-changing – spells in a can, minor bonuses and resistances…why bother? Mechanically, this falls flat and while I like all of the ideas for the ioun stone categories here, I really loathe their implementation. If they worked flawlessly, this would be a pdf for a very niche audience; when one third of the items need a level of book-keeping and tracking that make even me, as a passionate simulationalist, cringe, that’s not good. When the benefits don’t properly reward you for the like, then we have an issue. The other systems have their own issues and, beyond feeling anti-climactic for accumulating multiple artifacts/ dragging around a dragon for activation, similarly have enough problems that require fixing.

I’m sorry. I feel like a prick, but this is not up to Flaming Crab Games’ usual level of quality. I can’t imagine a campaign where you’d be using the material herein; all 3 item classes are flawed in their own way, as well as in a general way regarding rules-language as a whole. I like the ideas herein, but ultimately, I can’t go higher than 1.5 stars, rounded up for the ideas and the nice framing narrative in the front. I’d strongly advise you to get pretty much the whole series of pdfs – they tend to be creative and amazing…but sit this one out unless your campaign specifically demands for a concept featured herein…and you’re willing to spend the time to polish this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Ioun Artifacts
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2017 20:43:16

An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review:

It’s a trip to the old book borrower’s lounge as we check out Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries. We start with the normal credits and such, although Flaming Crab Letters (henceforth called FCLs) always seem to have a great deal more personality to them.

The intro is another fun example of this, with an in universe message to the reader, something fans of FCL have come to expect. We start off with a historic look at libraries, which has some fun information about their origins and such. This flows into what a library is, which is far more wide of a term than I had initially believed. The language is as evocative as I’ve come to expect from FCL, helping to draw one into the mythic qualities that a library can encompass.

From here the idea of different kinds of libraries and their differentiations are made, planting adventure seeds in all the variations that can occur. All of these are explained in ways that helps to give a sense of grandeur to libraries, something I didn’t think I’d ever say. I genuinely enjoy the curator examples, as the way that they’re presented allows them to be easily implemented into games without much issue.

Now we get some library stat blocks (again, not an expected statement), along with sample libraries which are fully statted. Each one of the KP (knowledge point) entries gives a fun bit of flavor which again could be easily transplanted into a game without much effort. This is followed up with different kinds of information storage, such as tablets, scrolls, wall carvings, and other such unique methods.

While I recognize the immersion perspective of the fluency point system, I also feel like it’s bogging down a book that has a lot of interesting mechanics already, creating more issues than solutions. Thankfully, this section is only about a page, meaning that if you’re like me and don’t care for it, you won’t be trudging through its rules for long.

At this point, we get some interesting info about magic in libraries, and a nice little section of content (classes/monsters/etc) that work well with library themed games. To follow this, we get the library subdomain for cleries and library mystery for oracles, giving us some mechanics (the oracle mystery is a little too specialized for my tastes, but it’s still very thematic). We finish with the bookring, which is a seriously cool magical item that lets us store books in gems for future use.

Mechanics: 4.5/5

FCLs aren’t known for their mechanics; that isn’t to say they’re bad, but it’s very obvious mechanics are secondary in focus. The mechanics given here though are fun, useful, and easily transplanted into games. It’s probably one of the largest strengths of FCLs, the ease at which they can be included in just about any game.

Thematics: 5/5

FCLs ARE known for their thematics though, and that continues on here. The language used is evocative enough to give libraries a sense of reverence and mystery that they lack normally, and just like I always feel when I finish an FCL, I want to include something from this book into any currently running game.

Final Thoughts: 5/5

Being entirely honest, the FCL series is a diamond in the rough in the RPG market. These books ooze with charm and include mechanics which feel fluid, but what they do more than that is to make the mundane amazing. After reading the hygiene book, I wanted to force players to bathe; after reading this, I want to force players to learn, and I’m sure if they did a book on proper chewing technique, you’d better believe I’ll have a session based solely around proper chewing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:06:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the impressive "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, before you're asking - this is not a straight rehash of the classic idea of the world tree as known from Norse myths and the like; instead, we have a contextualization of the idea within the reality of the game. Touched by the dryad Endainne, the oak that was to grow into the colossal tree featured herein would grow, however, to proportions only dwarfed by the cosmic tree of said myths - at over 6000 feet height, this titanic environment contains wonder galore - and it obviously influences the environment, which is why we discuss the effects on forest, roots and the area around the branches. Climate and traveling are covered in similar ways and the bounty of the tree also allows for better use of local produce when used in conjunction with culinary magic. (Here is the Letter on that topic...and if you like it, there currently is a KS running to create more! The link is here!)

The religion of Endainne, the dryad goddess, is properly depicted with 5 domains, 6 sub-domains, boons (Yep, Inner Sea Gods-compatible!) and we even cover tenets of the faith and sample servants of the deity - big kudos for going beyond the basics here! And yes, the boons and rules-language featured here are precise and leave nothing to be desired.

And this is where the pdf starts becoming REALLY interesting: An extremely detailed, one-page-spanning table of effects of the proximity of nearby offspring of the World Tree can be found: Excessive oxygen production, magic sustenance, clean air, strange lights...or all of them. The effects are cool and flavorful...and we go the extra mile, big time: Want the effects of such a tree on a settlement? The rules are included. Want to know the effects on the kingdom-building rules? Once again: Included for your convenience...and if you do not like the default flavor of the world tree (or want more diversity), a sidebar full of different, creative options has you covered!

Nestled in the boughs of the titanic world tree, there lies Portokali, a small, welcoming town which may require peace-bonds, but actually makes for a compelling place to visit, one supplemented with a rather impressive in-depth history and a nice side-view sketch of the way towards the settlement. Life in the settlement and a map of the uncommon locale can also be found here - while the settlement does come with a sketch-like map, that would be the one aspect where this aspect of the pdf falls a bit short of e.g. Raging Swan Press' Village Backdrops-series - in short, we get an amazing, detailed and thoroughly unique settlement with adventuring potential galore and even interesting classes that make up part of the unique social structure.

The pdf offers more, namely a new player character race, the daphanie, daughters of the world tree, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, are humanoids with the fey subtype, have low-light vision, gain +2 to Survival in forested/jungle terrain (and -2 to track them in such an environment), +2 to saves versus poison, always know where North is and have +2 to Climb. They can also grow a vine out of their dominant hand as a move action and use it to retrieve and manipulate small objects and may be used as a primary natural attack that uses the stats of a whip. Cool race and not one that should result in any issues. Instead of the tracking-tricks, they can get 1/day entangle or at-will speak with plants. The climbing trick can be replaced with darkvision. Instead of poison resistance, they can get +1 natural armor. There are Small daphanie and the signature vine can be replaced with claws (proper damage and natural attack type - kudos!), wild empathy or gliding membranes. All in all, a cool race.

We btw. do get a nice age, height and weight table as well as favored class options for alchemist, bard, druid, cleric, hunter, kineticist, monk, ranger and rogue. No complaints here!

The pdf also features racial archetypes, the first of which would be the tree glider monk, who must have the gliding membrane (obviously) and adds Fly to the list of class skills. Big kudos: The descending flight rules-language at 1st level has this Batman-y flair sans options to cheese it, retaining the lock on unassisted personal flight at low levels. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter increase the gliding flying speed and 5th level unlocks, properly, the flying options, allowing for the gaining of altitude. While this archetype is very much a small and humble one, it does its job well. Kudos!

The Toxibloom alchemist grows a symbiotic, toxic plant (thankfully, the toxin cannot be sold) that can produce 1/2 class level doses...but the ability does not specify what action the poison-generation is, which is a bit unfortunate. It also does not replace another class feature - which may or may not be an oversight. Instead of the 12th level discovery, the archetype receives toxic blood - and yes, this has different stats and specifies how often it can be sued and the activation action. Instead of persistent mutagen, the archetype gains poisonous pollen (again, with new stats and proper activation action). The archetype also gains two unique discoveries - one for acorn bombs and one that grows a vine whip on the torso.

Mundane equipment-wise, we do get plant pigments and the pdf features 4 racial feats. Alas, one nets a boring skill-bonus and is pretty much the epitome of filler. Another allows for sustenance through sunlight (and slightly enhanced natural healing), the third one allows for full-speed Acrobatics while balancing and enhances your ability to climb and catch falling allies. The final feat grants you thorns that deal "lethal" damage - which does not exist. That probably should be piercing.

The pdf also features 3 magic items: The petal cloak helps moving through underbrush and Handling Animals. The Staff of the World Tree is a nice druid-y staff and endainne's shield 1/day breath of life's you, which is pretty potent....not a fan here.

The pdf also contains a bestiary, with Endainne's aspect at a massive CR 24 being first - she is brutal and the build is nice, but I wished that she had a couple of unique tricks. Gnasher, the CR 21 version of Níðhöggr, does that right, just fyi - the mighty dragon comes with a miasmic breath weapon and some nasty, unique tricks. The CR 2 Rattatoskir should also feel familiar for fans of Norse myths, though I have seen that concept done more interestingly. The CR 7 Hyeorai, stick-dolls that are immune to magic and can emit deadly sprays of splinters make for a cool critter. The aforementioned servants of Endainne are also included: At CR 15, Mjarl the Strong represents the apex-version of the hyeorai, in gargantuan. The CR 9 Unkindness would be the legendary flock of ravens of the deity, including unluck-aura and eye-raking. A cliffnotes version of the respective critters and names is included and we conclude this pdf with 4 different random encounter tables for the regions of the world tree.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is still very good, but has a few hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artwork-wise, we get a mix of nice b/w-sketches and full-color versions of public domain art. The frame narrative of the Flaming Crab once again make this pdf pretty nice to read.

Kim Frandsen, Ken Pawlik and Tina Porter have done a nice job in this installment of the Letters-series: The environments presented are truly evocative and the pdf does go the extra mile in several crucial instances. The attention to detail is really cool and the settlements and twists on the familiar tropes render this pdf a fun, cool offering that has something for everyone. While not all aspects of the pdf are perfect, we do have a rather cool and evocative file on our hands here. In the end, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
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