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DNH4 - Confronting Hastur - 5th Edition
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/14/2018 03:31:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Haunting of Hastur-series clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 34 pages of content – this does not take the sturdy wrap-around cover into account. This cover is detachable, and the inside of this massive cover, is a GORGEOUS map of the city of Meavold, depicted in full color and in a player-friendly version – you can just hand it to your players. Big aesthetic plus!

The module, like every installment in the series, does come with an alternate introduction to the series, should you and your players be new to the series, making it easy to get into the series. This is easier this time around, courtesy of the structure of the module, but more on that later. My review is based on the Kickstarter exclusive premium print edition, which I received in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

If you have been playing the series, you will have heard about Meavold before – it is the human city on the surface that is the primary trading partner of the City of Talos, now that the PCs have hopefully ended the self-imposed isolation of the Formene Elves.

The pdf does sport a total of 5 different statblocks, one of which belongs to a new creature, a so-called brain-drinker – you can probably glean from the angle that this fellow is basically a reskinned Illithid. This critter, with a vole’s head, is a pretty deadly adversary and its rendition is pretty solid. Annoyingly, the statblocks don’t provide the values for all attributes in the statblocks, which may require a bit of GM-mojo on your end – much like the previous installments. That being said, chances are that these minor hiccups won’t impact your game unduly. Skills are noted in allcaps, attribute checks are bolded and the like – the formatting deviates in several crucial ways from standard 5e conventions, so if that type of thing annoys you, it’s something to take into account.

Now, this module is unconventional in its structure, in that, much like the previous modules, it doesn’t really offer the traditional read-aloud text for new school modules or the like. Genre/structure-wise, this adventure is a sandboxy investigation that covers quite a few influential people. These NPCs are depicted with detailed background stories and characteristics and feel well-constructed and multi-faceted. The respective homes of these NPCs are fully mapped in detailed and high-quality maps – in the pdf, these are full color; in the print version, b/w. The maps by Justin Andrew mason are amazing and if you need a ton of mansion/upper-class mansions and stuff like that, then this may be worth getting for the maps alone.

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

..

.

All right, only GMs around? So, the PCs are contacted by Wyatt, a human agent of Talos – and he has unearthed troubling intelligence. The cult of Hastur, thwarted in the first adventure, has basically gone one step further: Wyatt is convinced that the cult is once more attempting to create a statue-vessel for Hastur, somewhere within Meavold. The consequences, obviously, would be dire, so it’s once more up to the PCs to thwart the machinations of the cult. Wyatt has thankfully started the investigation and limited the number of suspects : It obviously takes quite a lot of resources and clout to generate a larger statue of Hastur and keep the shrine/cult hidden – and this does limit the list of suspects in the massive city down.

Thankfully, the PCs still get a rather sizable list, and clever players will be able to already disqualify quite a lot of these beings. The encounters to do so and these easily disqualified NPCs are noted with names and occupations, but the module does not provide details regarding these. Some GM skill is required here to make these exclusions work. Alternatively, you can just handwave this away, but personally, I think that reducing this aspect of the module does take a bit away from the achievement of the module. The main meat of the module is devoted to the 5 primary suspects, all of whom feel alive in an interesting manner…and they all feel alive. The maps provided for their mansions and the like are super helpful. The fact that we get maps helps a lot to make them “qualify” as a potential villain: The players can’t just deduce the validity of the NPC being a villain by the presence or absence of detailed cartography. The details provided for the NPC-backgrounds also help regarding these fellows, and while we get ability scores noted for these NPCs, we don’t get detailed stats of sample hit points for them. As noncombatants, this is no issue, though. Associated NPCs are also noted, which further emphasizes the concept of a living, detailed cadre of NPCs.

Now, there are plenty of secrets to be unearthed regarding these NPCs – there are illicit affairs, for example, and there are folks trying to escape the bonds imposed by the prudish morals of Meavold’s upper class. One individual involved in an affair attempts to manipulate the partner to assassinate the spouse and hang for it, for example. A former smuggler gone legit has been goaded into a duel that he can’t win without help, and his thoroughly professional relationship with his unique live-in-chief can provide an interesting further angle. The fact that his manor has an observatory obviously makes him suspect. There also would be a brilliant businessperson, ages ahead of their time, who has a sham of a marriage and a long-term same-sex relationship…alas, their spouse has plans to get rid of them and end the charade, which may well result in rather disastrous consequences. A mighty dynasty of landowners has also been stretching their fingers towards the underworld, and a well-respected, reserved Royal Explorer complements this section.

The presence of the brain drinker also means that there is some rather dangerous aspect to the investigation – beyond the requirement to tread delicately when investigating the most powerful people of Meavold. Here, the adventure misses an obvious chance: The presence of the brain drinker could have allowed the GM to justify making any of these NPCs the culprit, but the adventure instead opts for a fixed culprit. While this does slightly decrease the replay value of the adventure, a GM halfway worth their salt will be able to modify this aspect thus. Still, as a reviewer, I think this could have made for a cool twist of the angle presented. Now, ultimately, the PCs will find the thankfully not-yet finished statue devoted to Hastur – and destroying it is simple enough, but in the aftermath, the Old One will have had enough – in a blast of unearthly light, the PCs will be spirited away to the final adventure’s locale – to the dread Carcosa Complex, but we’ll get to that in module #6.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the adventure could have provided more regarding NPC stats and the like. Formatting also deviates in multiple ways from 5e’s standard. Layout adheres to a two-column standard and the module sports quite a bunch of original nice b/w-artworks. The cartography is particularly impressive, and the impressive amount of maps makes for a great selling point for the adventure. The print version is a nice book that embraces its old-school aesthetic in a concise manner, and the full-color map of Meavold on the insides of the detachable wrap-around cover is nice.

L. Kevin Watson’s “Confronting Hastur” is, in a way, the logical progression of his sandboxy adventures. Where #2 was limited by locale and #3 was focused on depicting a general timeline, supplemented by set-pieces, this one is, as befitting an investigation, as wide-open as possible. You can’t run this spontaneously, and novice GMs may well feel overwhelmed here. This adventure basically provides an array of plot-lines and complications, red herrings and the like, and requires that you run the module as the PCs explore the possibilities. I at once love this, and am somewhat disenchanted by it: On the one hand, the sheer amount of cartography and eccentric NPCs work exceedingly well: They make sense, are intriguing and won’t make the solution readily apparent. On the other hand, I can see some GMs annoyed by this – you get these lavishly depicted places, mansions and castles, but anything that happens here needs to be structured by the GM. This is both a crucial bug and a huge feature for the adventure – what we have here, is essentially a set-up. What you do with it is up to you.

Now, unlike adventure #3 “The City of Talos”, you’re left without set-piece tidbits to splice into the module. All such concrete components herein need to be crafted by the GM. Now, on the plus-side, the complex NPCs and their detailed agendas and exciting characters do mean that these basically write themselves, but it’s still something to bear in mind. Whether you can handle this or not, and whether you consider this an issue, depends on your own priorities. If you’re looking for a ready-to-run adventure that doesn’t require work, then this may not be for you. If, on the other hand, you want a complex investigation with amazing maps, one that sports unique NPCs, if you enjoy the idea of having a complex, fully mapped investigation scenario at your hands, then this may well deliver what you’re looking for. If you’re willing to properly flesh out the components of the adventure, that is. Now, I do consider this module to be a really worthwhile experience, but similarly, I can see this not work half as well for some groups.

As a reviewer, this puts me in a rough spot – I could see this work really well, and I can see it not live up to what some folks might expect. That being said, if you are aware of the sketch-like set-up and would like to see a great investigation set-up, then is definitely worth getting! Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DNH4 - Confronting Hastur - 5th Edition
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Swords & Wizardry Continual Light
Publisher: Triumvirate Tavern Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/14/2018 03:29:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 1 page editorial,1 page SRD, 2 pages blank at the end of the pdf, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

So, first things first: What is this? Well, Swords & Wizardry Light is a super-brief twist on the classic Swords & Wizardry OSR-rules-set – and it’s available for free, so you can check it out without any hassle. All basic rules are presented in the file, and it really helps getting newbies into gaming – no need to read hundreds of pages of rules and the like. That being said, its use is contingent on an experienced gamer filling in the brevity-immanent holes, and it does not suffice to play a longer campaign. It is intended to provide easy access to gaming at, for example, conventions, but from a longer-term perspective, it is not stand-alone in the traditional manner. This is where this pdf comes into play: Based on Swords & Wizardry Light, this is a slightly expanded version – one that is still rules-lite by pretty much every definition of the word, but does feature all the components you’d really need to run the game without requiring background knowledge of a big book – in that way, it’s a take on the light version that is “continual.”

All right, so, how does Swords & Wizardry Continual Light (SWCL) work? Well, we have the 6 classic ability scores. You roll 3d6 for them, and stats of 15 or higher net you a +1 bonus, with the respective attributes noting to what the bonuses apply. Race-wise, dwarves, elves and halflings are covered. Dwarves and halflings may only become fighters and thieves, while elves also qualify as magic-users.

Now, as per the base system, AC values for both descending and ascending ACs are provided, something to bear in mind. In this review, I will opt for noting bonuses as ascending – if you read plus X, this means it’s a bonus, not a penalty. Dwarves get +4 to AC versus Large targets, +1 Find and Remove Traps and Open Lock, +1 to hit and damage versus orcs and goblins, and +4 to saves vs. magic and poison. Elves get +1 to hit versus orcs, goblins and undead, immunity to paralysis, +2 to saves vs. magic and +1 to Hide in Shadows and Move Silently. Halflings get +4 to AC versus large enemies, +2 to hit with ranged weapons and +1 to Open Locks, Pick Pockets, Hide in Shadows and Move Silently. Humans don’t get bonuses, but qualify for all classes.

Now, as far as classes go, the system knows 7 levels. Fighters begin play with 1+1 HD (might have made sense to spell briefly out what that means for novices) and a BHB (basic hit bonus) of +0, improving that by +1 at every level. Save begins at 16 and improved to 10 in a linear manner. The fighter gets a HD every level. True to old-school, fighters get one attack per level versus foes with 1 HD or less. They also have +1 to saves vs. death and poisons. All classes come with multiple gear sets to choose from.

Clerics gain 6 HD over their levels (4th level netting just +1) and their BHB improves from +0 to +3. They learn cleric spells of up to 3rd level. The cleric gets +2 to saves vs. death and poison, spells of up to 3rd level, has the traditional weaponry restrictions (blunt weaponry and slings) and comes with a turn undead table. There is no daily limit of uses for the cleric’s turning. Saves progress linearly every level, starting at 14 at 1st, improving to 8.

Magic-users get +2 to saves vs. magic, up to 4 HD (every even level nets just a +1); saves begin at 15 and improve in a linear manner, and the class only gets +1 BHB at 5th level, which improves to +2 at 7th; armor restrictions and weapon restrictions apply, and magic-users unlock spells of up to 4th level.

Thieves have the same save-progression as magic users, starting off with 15, but get up to 5 HD, with 3rd and 6th level just yielding +1s. BHB scales up to +3. Thieves may use any weapon, but are restricted to leather armor. Backstabbing foes nets +4 to hit and deals double damage. Thief skills are noted not in a percentile manner, and instead offer a X in d6 chance that increases by +1 at 3rd and 5th level, capping at a maximum 1-5 chance of success. This thankfully makes the 1st level thief moderately competent and not useless.

Levels are gained by completing adventures. Simple and easy. However, the book does offer a bit more: There’s a value in brackets here – it’s for so-called optional classes. These include monks, assassins, bards, druids, paladins, rangers, necromancers and swashbucklers. They are more powerful than the standard classes. Assassins and Swashbucklers in particular tend to be tougher the regular classes. Anyways, there are three optional rules I’d very much advocate following: Maximum hit points at 1st level, allowing humans to swap the lowest ability score with a 15 and one that treats 1st level clerics as having 0 1st level spells, granting a bonus spell for high Wisdom.

Beyond 7th level, PCs may accumulate perks by paying with credits – one credit is gained per adventure completed. These may be used to pay for more hit points, lowering saving throws, etc. Class-only options are also covered. These are solid. The pdf does include a series of weapons and ammunition is not tracked in SWCL. Damage ranged from 1d6 – to 1d6 +1. The game knows 5 types of armor and some adventuring gear is also included.

Combat is simple: You determine initiative: 1d6. Side that rolls higher goes first. There is a chance for a tie – “the sides are considered to be acting simultaneously. How does this work? No idea. Options for the game are simple: Moving, attacking, casting spells. Characters can attack and move or cast a spell and move. Characters within 10 ft. are considered to be in combat. Missile attacks into combat have an equal chance to hit enemies or allies in combat. Targets with 0 hp die, and a day of uninterrupted rest nets 1 hit point. Monsters save by subtracting their HD from 19. Base movement per round is assumed to be 90 ft. for the small races 120 ft. for humans and elves. Running doubles that. Spells are depicted in a minimalist bullet-point style, noting range and duration. Traps are categorized in 4 different lethality degrees, and the pdf contains an impressive array of critters from the classics, with special monster traits noted in the back. Mundane and magical treasure is also included.

We end with a handy glossary and half a page of advice to convert Swords & Wizardry to SWCL and vice versa. The pdf comes with a no-frills character sheet.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language and formal level. The pdf is easy to grasp, pick up and play – sequence of presentation makes sense. Layout adheres to a no-frills 1-column b/w-standard with a mixture of really nice and some less impressive b/w-pieces. Annoyingly, the pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment when using this. Particularly rules-sets, even rules-lite ones, should allow for quick navigation.

Zach Glazar, James M. Spahn and Erik “Tenkar” Stiene’s take on Matt Finch’s original retroclone is a resounding success in what it attempts to do. This is traditional old-school gaming, with the classic attributes and everything, envisioned in a way that is as accessible as it’s bound to become. This is a fantastic way to get into gaming. Now, I do think that there are a few components here that could use a tad bit of streamlining. Death attacks should have a save, imho, and I’d limit swashbuckler armor choices. Similarly, the fact that there are ascending and descending AC values can be slightly confusing for newbies, and the +1 in the HD table should be explained. Apart from these nitpicks, many of which were born from tradition and the desire to remain faithful to the source material, this represents a resounding success for a more than fair price point. While not perfect, I consider this well worth checking out – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swords & Wizardry Continual Light
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Omnilibertas: The City of Freedom
Publisher: Wayward Rogues Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/14/2018 03:23:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The city of Omnilibertas (sometimes written as “OmniLibertas” or “OmniLiberatis” within, with no discernible reason for doing so – those two are just from the first column of text, mind you…) is the heart of the Republic of Unchained Helot, with the river Thadmuss neatly bisecting the city and acting as the central lifeblood of the place, bringing trade and new people to the place. The city, as its name implies, puts prime value of self-realization, fiercely celebrating individuality.

In a somewhat odd peculiarity regarding the prose, the quality is somewhat inconsistent and, in some paragraphs, becomes staccato-like. “The citizenry prepares for the Freedom games. The growing event brings people from all over the world within the borders of the city. The games change every four years. They are perhaps the only constant tradition with the city walls. That and the growing power of the prime minister.” Or: “The founding of OmniLiberatis was turbulent. Slaves seeking freedom found an old fortress. Tired, pursued, and scared. The hero Derrock Stockman led his people here.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to minimalist sentence structure, but the syntax is pretty repetitive and really hampers the reading flow in some instances.

This is particularly jarring, since it’s the only thing I can justifiably rate. Why? Well, while this is designated as a Pathfinder-product, it offers not even rudimentary information regarding the population, alignment or the like the city has. Its size is opaque and not defined – at all. We don’t get a settlement statblock. While there is a full-color map that would be nice, we get no player-friendly version, and colored overlays in various colors designate the different districts. However, we don’t know anything about how you become a citizen, the power brokers, etc. Even the system neutral versions of Village Backdrops released by Raging Swan Press offer infinitely more detail.

While citizenship seems to be something to aspire to, we get no idea how to actually gain this status, and this opaque nature really hampers, much to my chagrin, what would be an interesting place: Omnilibertas (or however this place is supposed to be called) notes unusual customs and laws that feature a rather libertine approach to morals and rules – and a direct opposition to the notion of ownership of other sentient beings can yield interesting consequences: Even children are not necessarily claimed as belonging to one couple, as that would imply ownership. The consequences and their development can make for compelling concepts to develop, particularly in a campaign setting, wherein morals are bound to be more conservative than in our world.

And indeed, with all the points of interest noted, the city offers quite a few intriguing places that makes it feel radically modern in many ways – even more modern than e.g. Andoran, and as such, there is a distinct feeling of a kind of Utopia to be found here, a notion only rarely explored in gaming. Interestingly, the points of interest do offer quite a few interesting glimpses into the city’s daily life. The issue, however, remains – while these tidbits are interesting, the city never really becomes alive, as its big frame, the stuff that is supposed to hold things together, that is supposed to contextualize this, simply is not there.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are bad – considering that this is very much a system neutral book sans rules-language and the like to screw up, it’s a bit appalling to note the numerous glitches and inconsistencies in these few pages. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that is aesthetically pleasing, and the pdf sports nice, original artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks. Annoyingly, you can’t copy text from the pdf. If you want to prepare excerpts for your players or just get rid of the ton of typos, you’ll need to copy the text by hand, typing it as you go. If you do, you’ll become even more cognizant of the bad editing and flaws in the flow of the prose. Cartography would be nice, but the color-shaded overlays mar what would have been an aesthetically-pleasing map. There is no player-friendly version provided.

Jarrett Sigler’s “Omnilibertas” is an exercise in frustration for me. I really love the idea of a utopian metropolis, and the idea underlying this is neat, but the execution is lackluster, and the absence of settlement stats can be excused for settlements in modules, but not for sourcebooks, no matter how brief they may be. This has to stand up to supplements like those by Raging Swan Press, and this woefully falls short of this level in every conceivable way. This does have a ton of potential, and with a picky editor, this, even in its current state, could have been a solid introduction to the metropolis. As written, it alas falls short of what it could have been, of what the idea deserved. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Omnilibertas: The City of Freedom
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The Culinary Magic Cookbook
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
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)
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
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)
Click to show product description

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Masters & Minions: Cult of the Mirrored King
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/13/2018 03:42:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Masters & Minions-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, this is a toolkit for a basically ready-to-play evil cult. As such, there will be some SPOILERS below. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around!

So, I can summarize this pdf in one sentence: This is Vidocq, the gaming supplement. If you haven’t seen the 2001 movie, then do so at your earliest convenience. I used its visuals and aesthetics with great fun in my Ravenloft game back in the day – it’s an inspired supernatural mystery movie with a pretty subdued magical angle that makes it perfect for low/rare magic or gritty games, though it works just as well in a high fantasy context. And yes, this would work perfectly in Fat Goblin Games’ Shadows over Vathak. As an aside: The title track was contributed by Apocalyptica featuring Matthias Sayer, the singer of Farmer Boys, an obscure German metal/rock band that is criminally underrated. The music video for Hope Vol.II, said track, made me get the movie, and it floored me as much as the excerpts from the video made me hope it would. It’s not a super high-budget blockbuster, but it’s still one of the movies I’d consider true, hidden cinematic gems.

Now, there are some differences between the movie and the supplement – instead of the singular “Alchemist” serial killer in the movie, we have a cult on our hands here – one that serves the eponymous Mirrored King, a mighty devil who specializes in deception and overthrowing authority – and interesting decision to represent the methodical approach here, as opposed to the chaos of demonic agendas we’d usually associate with overthrowing authorities. Now, while in the movie, the chemical component is represented by the title “The Alchemist”, it is here provided via the angle of a drug manufactured by the cult – Unachieved Dreams. This drug, obviously, helps capture the seedy, grimy aesthetics of the movies without having to use established drug-stats for, for example, opium, which do not fit the narrative requirements.

So, this magical drug nets 4 hours of sleep, uninterrupted, and imbibing it risks severe addiction with a nasty DC 24 Fort-save. At 1 gp, it is pretty inexpensive and nets +2 to Charisma checks (not properly capitalized) – here is the nasty twist: While the imbiber sleeps, they witness their greatest desires made manifest, but unbeknown to the imbibers, their souls are drawn to the Mirrored King’s palace in hell, where they actually experience these; upon reduction to Wisdom 0, the souls of the addicts are magic jar’d by the nasty entity, and their body, outsider-possessed in a way, may continue functioning. This has horror potential galore and can be really frightening when played right.

Now, such a drug operation obviously does require some muscle and cogs in the machine to work – this time around, this is represented by three CR ½ flunkies: A bruiser, a drugrunner, a catburglar, and we get a CR 4 cult initiate – all of these come with full statblocks using NPC classes. Beyond these generic NPC stats for the lower ranking cult members, we get stats for Borunda “Smasher”, the CR 4 barbarian muscle of the cult – alas, her statblock does have a few glitches – her raging version’s CMB and CMD, for example, are incorrect – they do not take in the boosts. Easy enough to fix, but kinda jarring. For more delicate tasks, there would be “Shorty” Mirrek Novos, a CR 4 halfling rogue, who takes care of accounting as well. This fellow’s stats do get CMD/CMB right, btw.

The star here, though, would be the Mirrored Man, the stand-in for the primary antagonist in the movie: The mirror mask-wearing mastermind of the cult: The Mirrored Man clocks in at CR 10 and is an interesting cleric 6/alchemist (mindchemist) 5. We get a background story here, and in an interesting twist, the stats here do come rather close to the tricks the character can pull off in the movie. Speaking of which: The mask is represented here as a mighty, unique magic item, the mirrored mask, which allows for excellent redirection of divinations, and enhances Disguises – the hands of an evil vigilante, this one could become even worse… As a minor missed chance, it would have been nice to see the movies’ soul-glass angle represented here as well.

The supplement does not stop here, though: We get a summary of the current goals of the Mirrored Man, with the plots woven by these smart and dangerous foes and their considerable ambitions noted. Beyond these angles, the pdf also depicts the Tavern of Achieved Dreams, the headquarter of the cult – and guess what: We get a surprisingly nice, full-color map of its two floors, with squares noted. Getting a full-color lair map, particularly one you can use just as a handout, makes for a great additional option here, and ends the pdf on a high note for me!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed a few minor snafus, though nothing that wrecks the supplement. Layout adheres to a fitting and flavorful two-column full-color standard with blood splotches etc. – this is an aesthetically-pleasing pdf, and we get quite a few nice full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kim Frandsen’s tribute to Vidocq is a truly fun little pdf – but I have a hard time rating it. You see, I’m a pretty rabid fanboy of the movie, and its one of the very few movies I watched more than once. On one hand, I do think the lore does have more potential than what we get in here; on the other hand, I really enjoy the twists that have been made regarding the concepts the movie provides.

Let me make that very clear: This is a riff on the subject matter, and a good one at that.

Now, personally, I’d be making the mirrored master of the cult a gestalted mythic alchemist/skinchanger (Legendary Games’ excellent hybrid class), but one can’t conceivably expect the like from a supplement intended for mass consumption. While it has a few rough edges, the pdf delivers on what it promises, and it could have easily really botched the pretty demanding subject matter. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeit



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Masters & Minions: Cult of the Mirrored King
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Execution Corner
Publisher: GM Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/13/2018 03:38:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This is essentially system neutral, sporting no rules-relevant components, but the supplement obviously works bets in quasi-medieval settings.

Now, if you’re even halfway familiar with the history of the penal system, you will know that, at one point, we realized that basing a penal system solely on corporeal punishment, instead of focusing on reeducation and rehabilitation, would in the long run hurt society. I’m not going to bore you with a summary of Foucault’s Surveiller et Punir (Discipline and Punish), as pretty much every freshman gets to at least read a summary at one point; just let it be known that executions and corporeal punishment were routed in parts in the Christian notion of the world being a valley of tears to cross for a better afterlife – a notion we have thankfully, mostly, managed to at least lessen, courtesy of the wonderful advances of modern life.

However, in fantasy gaming, this notion does indeed ring true – because it kinda is. Particularly if your world is pretty grim and down to earth, the medieval notion of life being short, painful and something to be endured while people die like flies makes sense. That being said, beyond the spectacle of execution, the executioner himself, much like butchers and those working on leather, traditionally were rather shunned. When, after a lifetime of diligent service, Nuremberg’s Meister Franz Schmidt managed to gain citizenship rights in the city, that was a truly impressive achievement. As an aside, I have read his journals (he taught himself to write), which are still available for insight in Bavaria, and they are worth reading. For the less academically-bent, I can wholeheartedly recommend “The Faithful Executioner” by Joel F. Harrington for insight into the profession and this fascinating character, but I digress.

Unlike cities, most communities and villages had no resident executioners, often requiring that these folk travel through the rather unsafe roads from place to place, or sporting singular hangman’s cottages between the settlements, so that no settlement would have to necessarily count the hangman as one of its denizens. This pdf depicts one such rural set-up, with a hand-drawn full-color map (sans squares or other indicators of scale) depicting the execution site, the home of the executioner, as well as the little industry that sprang up around it: We learn about a baker selling bread on execution days, about an enterprising gentleman selling the ostensibly magical hair of the hanged, and about a tavern that has sprang up to cater to the folks that come to gawk. The nearby fields of the corrupt are where the executed are then buried in unmarked graves. Nearby creeks and woods are also explained, and 5 miscellaneous assorted facts provide further food for thought for the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard and manages to cram quite a lot of content on the one page. The map provided is nice, and while it does sport names for the depicted locales, no immersion-breaking numbers are provided. Big plus! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Tim Shorts is up to his A-game here. This humble pdf is fun, evocative and cool. While I really wished that Tim Shorts had spent a full-sized book on the subject matter and its vast, mostly untapped potential, this pdf provided a fun supplement. It’s not a pdf that will change your life, but it does its intended job well – as a PWYW-pdf, this is certainly worth leaving a tip! My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Execution Corner
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Gossamer Guilds: Praecons(Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/10/2018 04:05:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Lords of Gossamer and Shadows clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as a prioritized review by my patreons.

This supplement begins with preliminary notes, written in character by Shanya Talis, which establishes the praecones as wandering bards, storytellers and occasional spies that traverse the gossamer worlds. Membership of the organization is loose, to put it mildly: You need a drive for discovery, the ability to travel the gossamer worlds and a passion for storytelling. Oddly, juggler, acrobats and clowns don’t seem to qualify among the otherwise pretty bard-like praecones (singular praeco, fyi) – according to the teller of the story here, the praecones predate the Dwimmerlaik Wars, but, well – that’s a story in and of itself.

Joining the guild is pretty easy and superbly hard – basically, you have to be a virtuoso of sorts, and then, by talent or by being noticed, have the ability to travel the Grand Stair…and that’s pretty much it. The standard tale is obviously that of a praecox finding a talented teacher of the arts, but countless variants exist. Apprenticeship often lasts several years and both travelling and resident praecones are noted. The guild’s dens/houses are the so-called Storyhouses, which act as a mixture of guild house and information brokerage market place. Praecones that visit a Storyhouse for more than a brief stay are expected to have someone gifted in Wrighting create an Icon, to facilitate quick responses in times of crisis. At the top of the guild’s loose hierarchy are the librarians, who, among other things, use their knowledge to create cartas, you know, partial maps of the vastness of the Grand Stair and the realms beyond. Teachers and additional staff associated is noted, and while few praecones become Wardens of the Grand Stair, Exegesis and Opening and Closing Doors are wide spread among the more experienced praecones.

As befitting a guild of travelers, many use the Open cantrip to travel, and interestingly, the guild seems to take a pretty neutral stance towards the dichotomy of Umbra vs. Eidolon. They also use so-called travel watches, an item whose origin the guild guards – these watches allow for the creation of Doors and record the travels of their wearers. Praecones, loosely organized as they are, don’t really have organization-level foes, and the restriction that they are expected to refuse assassination requests also enforces this. Failure to comply will cause expulsion. Instead of violence, the guild employs its narrative talent and gathered secrets to destroy those that would harm its members.

We get 4 brief adventure hooks for the guild, and item-wise, three types of portable library 82, 5 and 8 points), as well as regular (4 points) and psychic translators. (5 points.)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue hiccups here. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the LoGaS-supplements, and the pdf sports quite a few nice full-color interior artworks of different styles. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

John Snead’s praecones are good news for fans of Lords of Gossamer and Shadows – with some luck, we’ll see more supplements coming out, and when I think back to the Gossamer Worlds series, that makes me excited indeed! That being said, I wasn’t as impressed by this guild as I hoped I would be. It’s the trope of the vast guild focusing on arts, somewhat akin to the Pathfinder Lodge or the Harpers, just on a scale befitting the Grand Stair, down to the items (compass watches with magical properties – sounds a bit like wayfinders…) and the guild’s kinda-benevolent focus. As such, I found myself less inspired by this that I hoped I’d be. That being said, this pdf provides a lot of bang for buck –for just $1.49, you get quite a bit of content, which is why I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Guilds: Praecons(Diceless)
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Starfarer's Codex: Planetary Explorers' Essential Equipment
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/10/2018 04:02:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Starfarer’s Codex-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, we begin this pdf with 16 different technological items, which include pretty much what you’d expect to see, considering the title of this pdf: There is, for example, a toxicity sensor, a a water purifier…and e.g. a sonic topographer, which is a great excuse for the GM to share maps and allow PCs to plan expeditions properly. The aerial survey is a fist-sized sphere that follows a similar paradigm: In a cool way, it needs to return to provide the holographic image, which once more can provide an interesting way to use it, while still allowing the GM to limit it.

The distress beacon also represents a definite classic that will get some serious use. Don’t want to spend the night on the floor? An elevated blind does the trick, and (xeno-) archaeologists will appreciate the hand excavator for careful excavations. I also really enjoyed the convenience of the properly codified hyperspace delivery drone and seismic charges that can help level terrain. Off to an inhospitable planet? Well, you will want to pack perimeter fences…and depending on the amount of life there, a nutrition station and a mobile lab can mean the difference between death and survival. A personal bivouacs and portable spans can help you maneuver the rugged terrains you may find.

Rebreather masks and specimen containment units, ranging from S to L, complement a section that must be considered to be a rather impressive array. Beyond these, we are introduced to a total of 6 different magic items: Automated deforesters are basically one-use, low-cost magical herbicides that can be pretty lethal to plants. Beastblind amulets hide you from unintelligent fauna, but only from animals. The boots of winding ways record steps taken, which has pretty damn cool narrative potential! Greensight goggles grant sense through, but only through vegetable matter, of 60 ft. The immersive panorama visual, auditory, olfactory and thermal impressions and can then reproduce them as a 4th level holographic image. Like it. The sympathy stone can be held nearby an object, then flying to the closest concentration of that material in a 400 ft. radius. Vermin repellant does pretty much what it says on the tin.

We also get an array of 6 different hybrid items: Campsite veils are basically cloaking versions of the perimeter fence, and there is one more potent version included, with the invisibility veil. Perimeter walls go full scifi with basically the force-protection upgrade for such fences. The Nav beacon greatly helps navigation, allowing for reliable, if not perfect, approaching of the beacon while cryostorage…well, I think you know what that one does, right? The section also includes orbital gateways.

The pdf concludes with two new vehicles: At level 3, the hardy planetary rover (anyone said Mass Effect?) and the level 10 mobile command station.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches on either a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series, and interior artwork is full-color and of a consistent style, showing new pieces by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf comes with detailed bookmarks, making navigation comfortable and fun.

Matt Morris delivers big time here – this humble item-collection provides a ton of items that include the staple ideas we have about planetary exploration, and it does so in an inspired manner, providing narrative angles for both players and GMs to explore. This is a fantastic little offering, and manages to cram more style into its humble objects than I dared to expect. Highly recommended for all Starfinder groups seeking to explore unique planets in a professional and systematic manner – the book made me think about xenobiological/archaeological explorations and how to run them – inspired! This is a fantastic little book, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Starfarer's Codex: Planetary Explorers' Essential Equipment
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Hybrid Class: Pundit
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/10/2018 04:00:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21.5 pages of content, all of which are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this one.

The pundit is a hybrid class of cavalier and wizard, gaining d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression and Will-saves as well as simple and martial weapon proficiency and light armor proficiency. The pundit may cast arcane spells drawn from the class in light armor sans chance of spell failure. The hybrid class gets full casting progression of up to 9th level, with Intelligence as the governing spellcasting attribute, spells drawn from the wizard list. They may substitute Draconic for one of their starting languages and employ spellbooks. However, the spell selection is limited by the authority chosen. I’ll return to these in a bit. The class begins play with a combat trained mount with Light Armor Proficiency. This mount may be replaced for free after 1 week, but it only gains link, evasion, devotion, etc. upon the pundit gaining the next level.

The class also begins play with a clout pool equal to 3 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier, replenishing after rests. As a swift action, the pundit may spend a clout point to gain a morale bonus equal to Charisma modifier to all melee attacks, CMBs and damage rolls. Authorities chosen also have uses for clout-based abilities. At 5th level, as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity, the pundit may expend an unused spell slot, gaining clout points equal to that spell’s level, though clout may not exceed the maximum daily allotment. This may be used 1/day, +17day at 10th level. At this level, the ability may be used as a standard action and no longer provokes attacks of opportunity. Also at this level, the pundit may expend 1 clout point as part of casting a spell to enhance the DC by 1. The capstone doubles all skill modifiers to Intelligence and Charisma based skill checks while mounted. Additionally, targets critically hit by a mounted pundit must make a Will-save versus 10 + class level. (so…30.) or become stunned for 1d4 rounds, staggered on a successful save.

Now, I mentioned authorities: 9 different authorities are provided, and they work basically analogue to the cavalier’s orders: 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th level provide a linear array of abilities granted by the authority. An authority expands the class skill list by 2 skills, with one at +1/2 class level bonus. The authority also governs the type of spellcasting the pundit may have: Each authority is assigned two schools, and the pundit may only learn spells from those schools. Arcane buckler nets abjuration and universal, bone axe necromancy and universal…you get the idea. The authority of hidden truths is unique here: Any illusion cast with a duration of concentration retains its effects for ½ class level rounds after ceasing concentration. Additionally, the 20th level pundit with this authority may make such an illusion permanent, with only one such permanent illusion in place at any given time.

These authorities further enhance the uses of clout: The authority of the arcane buckler, for example, nets you an additional morale bonus versus a single target if that target has made an attack against another target…which makes no sense, since clout only works for a round, unlike challenge…so how do you determine whether or not the bonus applies? Weird. The abjuration authority nets scaling resistance to en energy type you can choose each day anew. Energy types available are not listed. A deflective aura and limited damage conversion to non-lethal damage. The 8th level nets a shield versus energy types. ALL OF THEM. This is basically a 3 x class level hit point shield versus energy attacks. Again, all of them. Yes, including RAW sonic, negative energy and force. An improved Stand Still and at 16th level, the option to immediate action move and attack, but at the cost of being staggered in the next round, complement this one.

The necromancy authority nets Command and Turn Undead, with a Cha-governed save, fear-inducing touch, better Intimidate, Critical Focus and lifesight, as well as attacks versus foes attacking allies via AoO and with a +2 bonus. The clout ability is problematic: “Whenever the pundit uses a clout point to successfully attack a creature whose kind she has encountered in the past 24 hours…” What constitutes “encountered” for the purpose of this ability? Defeating a target? Killing it? No idea. What does “kind” mean? Subtype? Nationality? Class? Nonfunctional.

The clout ability of the enchanted rose allows the pundit to offer terms of surrender as a standard action, but nets further benefits if the target then declines these. Okay, cool. For how long? Just for the activation of one clout? Then it does nothing, since clout only lasts a round. Many of these abilities clearly have been designed for duration-based abilities or permanent ones, not for point-based, short-burst boosts, and the design-ambiguities and issues when you prod them, alas, do show that. We also can find designs like high-level competing attack rolls (still consider them wonky). That being said, apart from the clout-hiccups, the rest of the abilities provided by the respective authorities tend to gravitate towards the more interesting angle, and rules language is better than quite a few of these hybrid classes.

The pdf includes an archetype, the sigil rider, who begins play with a more powerful mount that is kept in place by negative levels that may not be removed. Higher levels yield better mounts. Since this only replaces high horse, it’d be stupid not to take it after 2nd level. This one really need to cost the class more. The pdf includes 3 new feats:+2 clout, +2 daily uses of an authority power usable 3 +Int mod per day….and a feat that nets you access to a WHOLE NEW SCHOOL. This is bound to be a must have feat. The pdf comes with 10 types of favored class options, which diverge in presentation from the standards and are all assigned to multiple races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good on a formal level, though there are quite a few issues in the details of the rules-language. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full color artwork is nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s pundit is an interesting class – the combo of wizard and cavalier is interesting, but it also shows a couple of issues in its execution: Beyond the problems with quite a few of the clout abilities not having been properly translated from their challenge-origins, the class is very front heavy, providing a lot at 1st level. It also never addresses the vigorous motion/concentration issue, which makes casting while riding unreliable, to say the least. That being said, with a bit of tweaking I can see this fellow work as intended. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Pundit
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Legendary Hybrids: Skinchanger
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2018 03:27:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Legendary Hybrids-series clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 3.5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20.5 pages of content. Now, as always, Legendary Games’ consumer-friendly layout means that there is a lot of text on these pages, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the skinchanger? Well, the class is a hybrid of druid and vigilante, and gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and all natural weapons gained from skinchanging as well as light armors, but not shields. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression, has only good save-progressions for all 3 saving throws, and skinchangers at 4th level gain spellcasting, drawing their spells from a massive, customized list. Their governing spellcasting attribute for these spells is Charisma, but they do need to prepare spells, and the skinchanger gets a unique twist on spontaneous spell-conversion: They may lose a prepared spell of an equal level or higher to convert it into alter self, monstrous physique I, or giant form I.

The base ability that takes the place of dual identity would be adopted persona: With 1 minute of mental and physical preparation, the skinchanger can adopt an invented or copied persona. The latter must be the identity of a target the skinchanger has studied closely – this means 1 week of spending time with the target, which can make for a great deep cover infiltration angle. Better yet, the ability actually is super precise regarding the daily studying required, making this ability exceedingly precise. Up to half class level, minimum 1, such personas may be maintained at any given time – learning a new one requires that the skinchanger forgets an old one, and personae must be maintained in a way, requiring at least 1 hour per week spent with the target. The transformation duration may NOT be hastened by abilities or effects that quicken a vigilante’s identity change. While within a persona, the skinchanger gets half her class level, minimum +1, to Bluff to maintain the ruse, as well as up to three Knowledge/profession skills related to the topics that constitute the adopted persona’s personality and occupation. This only applies while in the guise of the proper persona, obviously. Acting grossly out of character does blow your cover, and starting at 5th level, these bonuses apply even if you are untrained in the respective skills.

The skinchanger begins play with hidden strike +1d8, inflicting this as bonus precision damage versus unaware targets with melee weapons (or ranged ones, standard 30 ft. max distance caveat applies), with the damage increasing by +1d8 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The damage applies versus flanked targets, but is reduced to d4s. The ability stacks with the stalker specialization. The class also begins play with improved Unarmed Strike, and the ability specifies its interaction with natural attacks. The second core class feature would be the one that lends the class its name – I am, of course, talking about the supernatural skinchange ability.

Skinchange lets the skinchanger change form as a standard action and doesn’t provoke Attacks of Opportunity. The ability may be used 1/day, +1/day at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, with 20th level making the ability work at-will. Druid levels stack with skinchanger levels for the purpose of determining wild shape and skinchanging, and skinchanging counts as wild shape for the purpose of prerequisites. Feats and abilities that modify wild shape, such as Quick Wild Shape do not apply their benefits to the skinchange ability. The duration of a skinchange is 1 hour per skinchanger level, and if applicable, the save DC is 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier. Activating skinchanges while observed spoils any disguise granted by it – nice catch there!

Skinchanges fall into two different categories: Polymorph skinchanges and mutation skinchanges. The former follows the rules and restrictions that apply to the polymorph transmutation subschool, and when activating or dismissing a polymorph skinchange, the skinchanger may change one choice made for her mutation skinchanges as a swift action. Any number of mutation skinchanges may be in effect at any given time, but each must be activated separately as a standard action the activation costs must be paid, obviously. At 1st level, the skinchanger can alter her height, weight, skin, color, texture, hair and sex within her type, gaining a +5 untyped bonus to Disguise that does not stack with the polymorphing. This bonus increases to +10 at 4th level. This is btw. a mutation. Starting at second level, the skinchanger may assume Small or Medium humanoid or monstrous humanoid (at 4th level) form, functioning as alter self, with weapon/natural weapon interacting concisely defined. This does necessitate familiarity with the chosen form. This follows the rules for monstrous physique I, and 6th level allows for Tiny and Large creature forms, following, analogue, monstrous physique II.

At 4th level, the ability upgrades to advanced skinchange, which is no longer linear – instead, an option is chosen, and another one is unlocked every even level thereafter. In short, these would be class-exclusive talents that allow for further customization of the base ability. These include the mutation based ability to gain a hunter’s animal focus, camouflage, scaling boosts to physical attributes, extra forms and limbs, reach increase and easier squeezing, quicker movement, limited self-healing (has a cooldown)…and what about the immediate action +4 dodge bonus to AC and DR 10/bludgeoning for a skinchange use? Yeah, there is some interesting martial stuff going on here! Temporarily integrating tools into your form, reproducing sounds…really cool tricks here. The ability is further differentiated, though: At 10th level, the array of greater skinchanges is unlocked, where further size modifications are provided, and elemental based forms are also found here. These also allow for the further upgrade of the item creation angle that the advanced skinchange option offered: These abilities are particularly intriguing, considering the high difficulty or the rules operation here. Did I mention the ability to enter a death-like torpor? Also one of the really impressive ones from a design perspective would be the trap form: Become temporarily a trap! I have NEVER seen that operation pulled off properly before!!

Finally, 16th level unlocks the most potent of the skinchange tricks available to the class – the legendary skinchanges. Density control, Colossal forms, super-quick shapechange, further, numerical boosts…nice ones, suitable for these high levels.

The skinchanger also begins play with a social talent, gaining another one every 4 levels thereafter. These are, as a consequence of the unique engine, modified: Quicker studying of targets (that improves further at 13th level), assuming a special, anonymous persona (think faceless men), the aptly-named celebrity-lookalike that nets discounts and services (codified as tightly as you’d expect), defeating abilities that detect falsehoods, gaining the option to 50% avoiding divinations targeting her persona while she’s not in them, gaining a bonus to a selected skill (with a few exceptions), higher level options to quicker change, gaining languages with personae…or what about being adept at convincing others that she is the real deal when attempting to declare the original an impostor…really cool tricks here! I was positively surprised by how much these tricks deviate from the vigilante’s array, though vigilante social talents may also be selected from a list. Kudos!

At 2nd level, shapeshifter’s empathy allows for nonverbal universal communication via sound, pantomime and body language, and she may use class level + Charisma modifier instead to roll the check. This qualifies as wild empathy for prerequisite purposes. 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter yield a stalker talent, with once more Charisma acting as governing key ability score. The ability does include the information for use of these while observed, and quite a few of these talents apply to hidden strike – such talents are designated an asterisk, and only one such asterisk’d talent may be applied to a hidden strike. The ability does offer vigilante synergy and interact, once more, in unique ways with the adopted persona class feature: We can get perona-based combat wild-card feat, using Charisma as a replacement ability score prerequisite (so no feat tree cheesing/ easy monster feat unlocking) and the ability to Bluff items instead of UMDing them similarly is intriguing. Improving damage output of unarmed and natural strikes to monk-levels, drawing weapons melded with the skinchanger’s body as a swift action and synergy between Sleight of Hand palming and polymorphing make for cool tricks. Rogue talents, vigilante talents and the like can be found, and transformation abilities are tweaked and codified as talents instead, which makes all kinds of sense. Activating and dismissing polymorphs and combine them with grapples also rocks. 3rd level nets trackless step, and the capstone provides a shapechanger apotheosis and, as noted before, skinchange at will. Taking 20 sans increasing the action required for Disguise, while also adding the adopted persona bonus is also part of the deal.

A sample list of skinchanger forms is provided, and we get favored class options for the standard races plus android, auttaine, chlorvian, kitsune, reptoid, rougarou, skinwalker, tretharri and zvarr. I have no issues with these. There are a total of 4 different feats provided: Extra Skinchange nets + 1 skinchange and an additional daily use; Fast Skinchange lets you activate one as a move action…and in an interesting angle, this is contingent on exceeding the skinchange’s minimum level by 6 or more, making lower level skinchanges retain relevance at higher levels. Form Finesse lets you choose more special abilities when choosing from a list. Memorized Personae nets you Intelligence bonus (minimum 1) personae as permanent – this one may be taken multiple times.

The pdf sports 3 different archetypes: The Chimerist can adopt two personae simultaneously, but only gets the Bluff bonus from the base class feature, and social/stalker talents and similar personae-based tricks are assigned one of the personae. Since the chimeric forms are somewhat monstrous, the archetype gets ½ class level as a bonus to Intimidate. Instead of 4th level’s skinchange, we get minor augmentation, which basically codifies the rules required for the unique chimeric skinchanging the archetype offers, with 6th, 10th and 14th and 18th level provide the augmentations for this signature fusion ability, though the archetype does pay for this with stalker talents and hidden strike progressions. The second archetype would by the Lycanthrope Aspirant, choosing an animal form, with 9th level unlocking magical beasts – yes, this means that you could go quasi-displacer beast lycanthrope at higher levels! The archetype does come with a variety of unique skinchanges, including hybrid form. Form Finesse is baked into the archetype and it gets DR. The third archetype would be the shape thief, who modifies the base engine by requiring the touching of targets, replacing the disguise trick. This touch can also yield personae and follow the skinchange quicker after touching a target. Higher level shape thieves may steal memories as well and learn to, get this, swap shapes! Now this makes for some unique gambits! 16th level shape thieves even learn to mimic magic in a limited form! The archetypes all come with suggestions for fitting skinchanges, social and stalker talents, making them more user-friendly for newer players.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a variety of different full-color artworks. Some of these will be familiar to fans of Legendary Games. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

David N. Ross and Patrick N. R. Julius provide a beats of a hybrid class here: Distinct, with an identity that transcends the parent classes, the skinchanger plays in a unique way. The engine provided is top tier difficulty regarding the demands of the design, and manages to depict perhaps the best faceless-man-style shapechanger available for PFRPG. Yep. Now, I can tell you about a ton of evolution-based shapechanger-classes that do the icky-monster angle well…but the social chameleon? The brilliant infiltrator? Not so much. This class fills this niche with panache aplomb, showcasing the amazing potential that an excellent hybrid class can have. The skinchanger is an inspired class that ranks as one of the finest hybrid classes I have ever read. This is a masterpiece and even if you’re skeptical regarding hybrid classes, this is well worth getting. The skinchanger is a true joy, one of the best hybrid classes out there, and as such, it should come as no surprise that my final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Hybrids: Skinchanger
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers VI
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/09/2018 03:26:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 6th collection of new bloodlines for sorcerers clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, so let’s take a look!

All right, we begin with 5 new feats:

-Bloodline Beast: Counts as Improved Familiar sans requiring the familiar class feature. There is no such feature. It’s witch’s familiar, arcane bond, etc. Level-restrictions thankfully still apply. A dead familiar causes Con-drain, but does not require costs to replace. Cool: Lets you bypass alignment restrictions.

-Bloodline Bias: Choose a monster type from a list; you get +1 damage with damaging spells versus the chosen type and +1 DC. This also applies to sorcerers and bloodragers.A handy mini-table nets you the equivalents.

-Sorcerous Battery: Use a limited use bloodline power to activate a magic item with charges as a standard action. CL of the item must be equal to or less than UMD ranks, and single use items can’t be activated thus. Nice one!

-Sorcerous Power Drain: The inverse one: Drain magic items to power limited use bloodline powers. Caster level of the item must be higher or equal than your CL. This and battery could power a whole culture and are inspiring, though potent.

-Sorcerous Synergy (Teamwork): +1 CL and +1 to DC and roll twice to bypass SR when aided asa full-round action by your buddy.

The pdf also includes 7 bloodlines, the first of which would be aeon, which may never choose a good or evil spell to the list of spells known, but which allows you to combine Knowledge checks with spellcasting. This is a leitmotif of sorts herein: While I don’t always agree with the balancing, which sometimes makes the bloodlines clock in at rather strong levels, I applaud that they provide meaningful changes for the base spellcasting engine.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, aeon. We get a touch that dazes targets and also nets insight (Knowledge bonus) – nice limited use touch. Neat defensive tricks and a high-level combo-buff complement this one. The capstone makes you basically immortal…with auto-resurrection…but you do lose equipment…Cool one!

The Demodand bloodline nets you a limited use Str-damage touch. Their higher-level slime-ability, oddly, works RAW versus ranged or reach weapons as well, which it should not. Cool: At higher levels, the bloodline lets you temporarily suppress divine casting and channel energy.

The eclipse bloodline yields a positive or negative energy touch that can harm or heal, analogue to channel et. al. Dodge bonus, a wall of fire that can fascinate you, shadow step as a SP (plus immunity to [darkness] and [light] spells as well as an apotheosis of sorts complement this one. Also cool: The spells known make alignment-variations of spells more sensible for the sorcerer to take.

Leshy-blooded sorcerers may add druid spells to their spells known, fire entangling pods, a “double-strength” (not exactly perfect rules-verbiage) shield with unique properties and more subdued abilities complement this one, making up for the potent spells-known expansion.

The manasaputra bloodline nets you a third eye that opens on your head when casting spells, granting you a temporary skill buff. The bloodline also lets you fire limited fire or positive energy blasts, adaptive resistance and make a really powerful buffing aura at 9th level. The high-level abilities are slightly less potent to make up for that.

The sakhil bloodline enhances the DC of fear-spells and gets a fear-inducing limited use gaze. Nitpick: Save DC should refer to class level, not just “level.” Ectoplasmic Spell sans casting-time increase (verbiage a bit wonky) and added ghost touch (not properly italicized) are okay, but the capstone immunity array is imho a bit overkill.

Finally, the yaksha bloodline nets you spell level as a bonus to Fort-saves for 1 round after casting. The touch attack labors under the misconception that “distracted” is a condition – it’s not. Worse: It generates a gold coin. Sure, only 3 + Cha-mod per day, but you can wreck an economy with a bunch of these sorcerers. The bloodline also includes a fertility field, metamagic and an interesting apotheosis.

The pdf comes with a bonus-file depicting the Children of the Dead, a monster penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr. These are undead that are spawned by the dread crypt mothers – they have the dhampir subtype and are slavishly devoted to their horrid progenitor. The pdf includes three variants. Really cool, if grim CR 1 critter with a neat full-color artwork.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting oscillate a bit: I did notice a few formal glitches and rules-verbiage deviations, but also a couple of complex concepts well executed. The pdf actually manages to be innovative and interesting more than once, which does help mitigate some of the issues I encountered. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr knows how to write intriguing, creative crunch, and when he makes sure his rules-fu is top-notch, we get amazing stuff. There are a couple of real gems herein, but also quite a few hiccups and potential issues. This is not a pdf that will fit every campaign, but it is one that may well be truly inspiring for some. Ultimately, this is pretty much the definition of a mixed bag, which lies slightly on the positive side due to its neat ideas. Now, usually, I’d still round down here, since a few of the hiccups are pretty grievous, but the neat bonus critter and low and fair price point make me round up instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers VI
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Legendary Classes: Cartomancer
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2018 05:44:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, the cartomancer as envisioned by Purple Duck games, comes with d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons (but not any armor – they interfere with spellcasting), ¾ BAB-progression and good Will-saves. They are arcane spellcasters, gaining spells of up to 9th level, drawn from their own spell-list, using Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute. The cartomancer’s spellcasting engine is pretty unique, as it interacts with the deck of cards that grants the class its name: At 1st level, the cartomancer has a deck of 54 cards. When the cartomancer prepares spells, each spell must be attributed to a different card of the deck. The deck is composed of six suits, with 9 cards each: Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, Water and Wood. When preparing spells, the cartomancer gets to choose which suit each spell card is from. This deck may not contain more than 9 cards of a given suit. There also are trick and trump cards, which must be of a specific suit, but I’ll return to those later.

While the cartomancer is within 5 ft. of his deck, he may execute a number of tricks, none of which provoke AoOs: The cartomancer may draw a card as a swift action, creating a “hand”; at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the cartomancer may draw an additional card. Previously held cards are discarded. The cartomancer may discard the cards in his hand, shuffling them back into the deck. Discarding cards does not lose them, and they are intangible, so they may not be caught etc. There are effects that do get rid of cards – the terminology for this would be “consume” – a card consumed is lost and no longer available until the cartomancer manages to prepare spells. When the cartomancer casts a spell from a card, he has to discard a number of cards from the hand equal to the spell level of the spell cast, including the spell’s card – casting 6th level spell, for example, would require discarding 6 cards, including the spell’s card, while casting a 1st level spell would only require the discarding of the 1st level’s spell card.

The cartomancer may only prepare a limited number of cantrips per day, and this number is equal to the maximum number of cards that may be assigned cantrips. Cantrips are assigned a suit, any any card of that suit may be used to cast a cantrip associated with it, without requiring the discarding of cards. A cartomancer may choose to keep a card as if he had not cast it – this ability is known as clean draw, and may be used a number of times per day for each spell level equal to the number of sorcerer bonus spells per day the character would get, as based on Charisma modifier. This allows for some control and features a unique limitation that is, engine-wise, interesting. The cartomancer begins play with Eschew Materials. While cards are definitely recommended, the pdf does note that alternate means of randomization would be possible and provides basic guidelines.

Starting at 2nd level, the cartomancer chooses a favored suit, with 8th and 14th level providing the same choice: If the same suit is chosen multiple times, progressively better abilities are gained, rewarding both specialization and diversification. The first benefit of the suit specializations, for example, include a +4 dodge bonus to AC versus AoOs provoked via trick cards, a 1/day minor healing effect, new class skills, replacing a Fire card’s spell with burning hands, etc. The second effects include CL-increases for the suit, while the 3rd option provides, once more, unique effects: For earth, that nets, for example, a cumulative natural armor bonus equal to the spell level of Earth cards cast for 3 rounds, allowing you, with the right hands, to truly withstand punishment. No AoOs for trick card water casts, a defensive whirlwind (that has a very minor verbiage issue that does not compromise rules – “deviates” should be “deflect”) or metamagic use. These are unique and add meaningful differentiations between specialists. Like them!

At 3rd level, aforementioned trick cards come into play: You choose a trick card, which acts as a SP, with 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter yielding another trick card. Trick cards take up a slot in the deck, and using it is a standard action that does provoke attacks of opportunity unless otherwise specified. Trick cards take up a card slot when assigned, obviously. It should be noted that the favored suit choices do NOT lock the cartomancer out of trick cards – while associated trick card of the favored suit can benefit from the favored suit, a cartomancer specializing in air could easily take an earth trick card, for example. 5 trick cards per element are provided, and they include unique effects, like e.g. a rod of wonder effect, gain a massive +5 morale bonus to Charisma-based checks for a minute, though this one does consume the card. Some of these have high level prerequisites that unlock combos: Consuming trick card +2 cards to draw twice as many cards as usual, for example, makes for some unique gambits.

Also interesting – instead of burrow speed or the like, an earth trick card allows for the SWIMMING through earth, stone, etc. – with all the complications that swimming entails! I really loved the visuals here! Reducing required discard numbers, moving fires around, making foes lose one of their highest level prepared spells – there are quite a few really interesting and creative tricks to be found here! The unique tricks do not end there, though: At 5th level, the cartomancer gets a second type of card: The trump card. An additional trump card is gained at 8th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Like trick cards, trump cards are associated with a given suit, and they work in a unique way: You basically discard them as part of discarding cards for spellcasting, in addition to the discard cost of the spell. These cards are basically the “metamagic”-y tricks of the class, and once more, all trump cards may affect all spells, regardless of favored suit chosen.

Once more, the class goes the high road, offering quite a few unique tricks: One air trump card, for example, allows you to increase the distance between targets of a spell, allowing you to increase distances between them by 30 ft. – interesting tweak for, for example, haste etc. That being said, there are a few minor snafus – there are, for example, no “contact spells”: That should be “touch spells.” There also is a unique option to penalize summoned targets, to change spell damage to slashing, etc. – once more, I considered these to be interesting, and any complaints regarding rules are based on cosmetic glitches. It’s always clear what’s meant. The capstone lets the cartomancer choose to consume cards instead of discarding them, up to a minimum deck size of 14, and the cartomancer my Cha-mod times per day choose a card of choice when drawing. Beyond the custom spell-list, we get one of the most massive favored class options lists I have ever seen: Not only are the core races and the more exotic ones covered, we also get a vast amount of support for the significant array of Porphyran races. And yes, these include psionic races.

There also are two different archetypes included: The card reader gets an expanded spell-list of divination spells that may be cast in a kind of spontaneous manner without having them in the hand. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, one of these must be taken. At 8th level, the card-reader gets harrowing as a SP, Cha-mod times per day, with 14th level providing greater harrowing, which replaces the trick cards at 8th and 14th level.

The second archetype is the dice master, who must be chaotic, and represents basically a die-based alternative to the cartomancer, gaining a luck pool at 3rd level, equal to ½ + Cha-mod points, which may be spent to improve skill checks and saves before rolling, using the spell-die sides to determine their potency. Since the archetype does not gain trick or trump cards, the class feature instead unlocks new uses for these luck points. I liked these, but the lack of a proper capstone for it is a bit of a pity. The pdf does have a total of 11 feats as well: Atypical Deck lets you replace a trick card with a trump card or vice versa, and may thereafter choose trick cards instead of trump cards and vice versa. Cool! Bludgeoning Box lets you wield the card box as a weapon. Once/round discarding and redrawing, a bonus trick card, having your box in the ethereal plane and accompany you there, better concentration for spell-card casting…cool. Looking at the top card prior to drawing and putting it at the bottom, if you like, adding wizard’s spells to the spell list and decreasing discarded card requirements complement this section.

The pdf also has a new array of spells that introduces the (invisible) spell descriptor, which makes identifying it harder, imposing a -5 penalty to Spellcraft. These are really cool, in that they provide pretty significant benefits that are triggered as immediate actions while the brief durations lasts. There is, for example, a spell that triggers when a certain amount of enemies come nearby! Really cool spell array, and yes, these have some unique interactions with the cartomancy-engine! The pdf does provide extensive advance for integrating cartomancy and comes with a sample ratfolk cartomancer NPC, with stats for levels 1, 5, 10 and 15.

The pdf does not stop here, though: We get a massive amount of support material: We get a worksheet table for customizing the deck (cool!); we also get printable versions of the trick/trump cards, with the respective suit’s glyphs on each page, and finally, a page of blank spell cards to print out! Big plus there!

The pdf does also come with a bonus pdf penned by Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak, depicting the CR 1 fur-bearing trout based famously on the cryptoid. The pdf also includes a variant, the bush mackerel.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is precise and tight where it counts, but sports a few deviations from the standards. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights we’ve come to associate with Purple Duck Games, and the pdf sports quite a few really nice pieces of full-color artwork. The pd comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks making navigation simple and painless.

Nikolaï Samarine’s cartomancer has some really tough competition – the cartomancer by Interjection Games is a rather impressive direct comparison. However, and I did not expect to say this, I do kinda prefer Purple Duck Games’ take on the card-based caster. The synergy with spell-based casting means that the class can interact in meaningful ways with the vast spellcasting engines of PFRPG. More importantly, the class does have plenty of unique things it can do: From how simple the base engine is to grasp, to how the trick and trump cards offer for meaningful twists, the class is intriguing in that it actually play rather well – the card-based chaos-casting is notoriously hard to get right, and it’s even harder to actually judge on paper. Sans playtest, it is nigh impossible to judge how the like fares. This class has obviously seen use at the table, or otherwise is an example of excellent theorycrafting – either way, I am quite smitten by the engine presented and by how it works, as it generates a smooth flow of ebbs and tides that makes spellcasting feel fresh. The innovation does extend to quite a few of the class features the pdf offers, and stretches to small tidbits that add unique twists to concepts. Playing a cartomancer is unlike playing a wizard, and allows you to do things only the class could pull off.

As much as I adore a lot this class does, I did also notice a few minor hiccups that bled into the rules, which might confuse less experienced players, and the dice archetype’s lack of a unique capstone is an unpleasant oversight. While this does cost the class my highest accolades, I consider it to be an impressive achievement and, in spite of the minor flaws, worthy of a final verdict of 4.5 stars, and since this pdf does provide a ton of cool and helpful supplemental material, I will round up. Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Cartomancer
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GM's Screen #6: Borderland Keep
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2018 05:42:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.

Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.

One column notes 10 entries for dressing, including sparring dummies and smoke rising from a chimney of the fort. Minor complaint here: Dressing outside and inside should probably be separate. The second 10 entries are devoted to sights and sounds, which does have a bit of an overlap with the previous table: A single boot jutting from the mud due to rain (table 1), compared to a raven squatting on the battlements (table 2) – I fail to see a distinct differentiation here. Making one table focus on inside, one on outside, would have probably been smarter. The final column features 10 whispers and rumors, telling us about the strange behavior of the priest, rumored bandit activity and the bedbug infestation of the tavern, these are okay, but nothing too exciting.

Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. These include human female and male sample names, alternate names for battlements, castles and wilderness, as well as for soldiers. A few castle descriptors are also noted.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.

I wanted to like this GM-screen insert more than I did – Creighton Broadhurst usually does better and the information has more thematic overlap than the previous screen-inserts. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars – easily the weakest of the first 6 screen-inserts.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Screen #6: Borderland Keep
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GM's Screen #5: Noisome Sewer
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2018 05:41:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.

Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.

One column notes 10 entries for dressing, which include bricks that have fallen to create a slippery surface, a roughly-hewn niche, and also evidence of something large slithering through the much…nice table. The second 10 entries for sample events, which include rumbling from above (yay for paranoia!), muted splashes of something heavy falling in, sudden wings driving the abominable stench home… The final column features 10 things to find in the sewers, including a small tree floating in the effluent, a silver necklace on one branch, ropes dangling from hammered in spikes dangling over a channel, a dagger tip wedged between rocks – some nice pieces of detail here.

Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we learn alternatives for “damp”, darkness, for decay, disgusting things, for excrement and similarly delightful concepts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst provides a nice GM screen insert here – it certainly is helpful for sewers and has been well-curated and chosen. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Screen #5: Noisome Sewer
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