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Metahuman Martial Arts 3e
by Ethan P. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/20/2016 16:22:15

An excellent supplement. It makes combat a bit more crunchy at times, but it gives a lot of specialization options and makes martial arts and melee-centric characters much more fun!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metahuman Martial Arts 3e
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Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Demagogue Demon a.k.a. Tr'ump
by N. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2016 01:32:07

This is the most hamfisted 'satire' I have ever read, with absolutely no hint of subtly towards its intended target. But I laughed, so 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Demagogue Demon a.k.a. Tr'ump
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Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Demagogue Demon a.k.a. Tr'ump
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2016 21:47:15

Current presidental politics should be avoided. If you poke fun at one party, then poke fun at the other.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Misfit Studios June 2016 Newsletter
by Joseph G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2016 16:47:20

meh......................................................-
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............................................................-
............................................



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Misfit Studios June 2016 Newsletter
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Patricia Smith Presents: Barbarian Anna
by Jeremy Z. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/03/2016 05:08:57

With all the flood of bad computer art on this site, it's nice to see something this high quality, almost comparable to Franzetta, at a relatively reasonable price



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Patricia Smith Presents: Barbarian Anna
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Bite Me! Wererats
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2016 13:26:13

This 19 page supplement for players and GMs who are interested in running-&-playing Wererat PCs and NPCs ... is pretty much the cream of the crop reference source for said gameplay ambitions. That includes Paizo as well as PF 3PP sources.


As with the other Bite Me! supplements in the Misfit Studios line, the balance between new crunch and evocative fluff is about ideal for a supplement of its size and price range. The Table of Contents in conjunction with the book's formatting, coloration, design layout and art made for an nice,easy read on the eyes and quickly-navigable referencing.


The initial few pages of the book give a helpful recap of the Pathfinder game mechanics of the Wererat race for PC referencing ... as well as a handy ARG point breakdown for the race. The new ART's & FCO's were numerous and ran the quality spectrum from 'Above Average' to 'Excellent'. Lots of Wererat theme characters can be accentuated with these 2 character options alone. Plus, they all made conceptual sense and none of them looked unbalanced.


Amongst the 3 Racial Archetypes, I found all 3 to be fairly well balanced. The Sewer Druid to be a bit super-specialized ... the Lightning Rager to moderately interesting in its DEX-emphasizing rage mechanic ... and the Bully Slayer to be just outright awesome with its clever thematic bonuses that lend itselfs well to Wererat social behavior.


The new Wererat equipment emphasizes sewer-environment combat - and are all quite cool. The new feats were all themed towards stealth, dexterity, senses and size diminution. I would've liked to have seen a slight uptick in power level for most of the feats, but I liked the overall thematic cohesiveness of the bunch. The Magic Items were probably my favorite component of the book! All 5 of them will find happy homes in my urban campaign that I GM. I agree with N. Jolly in his review though, that the 'Hiding' WSA needs a +X boost ... perhaps to around +3 IMHO.


The Wererat Magic section is terrific! I love the Gnaw Anything, Close Quarters, Swarm Growth and Crowd Stride spell. Which are strong thematically with Wererat casters ... and have rock solid spell balancing mechanics. I might tweak them a little to allow those of the Wererat race to gain a slight-to-small additional benefit from them over those of other-racial spellcasters.


The 2 fleshed-out, multiple-level-perspective NPCs were creatively-written ... and their stat-blocks look clean and accurate. I'm definitely going to nab that Druid for use in my campaign world.


All in all, this book will get serious table-play with my one Pathfinder group that is currently involved in a long-term urban campaign. Besides their proclivity to prosper in urban settings, Wererats are probably the most adaptable of all the lycanthropes in regards to living in all types of environmentally harsh areas. So don't think of this book as being purely urban-centric.


My final rating for this book is a rock-solid 4 stars. It presents a sizeable amount of game mechanic options for Wererats that aren't in Paizo products but are definitely needed ... and options that make a lot of sociocultural-thematic sense too. I would've considered a higher rating if there were a few more knock-my-sock-off creative options.



To note, I now own 8 PDFs in the Misfit Studios 'Bite Me!' line for Pathfinder. This book and one other were comped to me in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. The other 6 I purchased on my own. I was originally drawn to the Bite Me! line because I knew the illustrious Christina Stiles was heading the project. So far, all 8 of these books have impressed me and are now in heavy rotation in both my PF groups as either the primary ruleset for lycanthrope PC's/NPC's ... or in a hybridized system with core-Paizo rules. I also just now looked at the authors of this specific book (Hudson & Welham). And now it all makes sense. Lol. I'm a huge fan of Mike Welham Pathfinder good ... and once again, he doesn't disappoint.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Wererats
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Bite Me! Wererats
by N. J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2016 16:25:49

Disclamer: While I have worked with this publisher before, I received no compensation for this review, and was not involved with this project.


Okay, checking out the lycanthrope wererat, a group I didn't normally consider looking at myself.


What I liked: Amusingly, the art of this book slowly grew on me to the point where I really started to like the style being used, making it feel like a 90's animated film. The lore of the wererats was quite engaging too, and it gave me a strong idea of where I could fit them into a game, although it didn't paint them as overly 'evil' which I appreciated.


The racial archetype that I really took a shine to was the bully slayer, which was both mechanically sound and very fun, although the picture that accompanied it was a large help in visualising it.


The mundane items were fun and flavorful, although the rat pipes could have used a bit more clarification on how long it took for the rat swarm to summon. Aside from that though, they were all things I think would help with running wererats.


I can't say I'd use all the feats as a player, but for an NPC I think there's a place for all of the feats included in this book.


The hiding weapon quality feels just too good to me, to the point where I might consider it unbalanced. It's very interesting, but it could be too good for a +1 bonus, so be aware of that. The rat saddle did make me smile though, and it just feels like a fun item. Red Eyes was okay, it was an interesting take and I liked it in that respect.


The gnaw anything and swarm growth spells both felt thematic and fun, definitely things I could see using in a game.


The sample characters were pretty nice too, and statted out well enough to the point where it wouldn't be too hard to put them into a game, although I do wish they'd have been further apart in level to make them usable at different points in a game.


What I was indifferent towards : The sewer druid was nicely designed, but just a tad boring for me, making it somewhat forgettable. Some of the magic items were pretty forgettable too, as the helm of ratkind felt too specialized to me. Aside from the above mentioned spells, the rest of the magic was passable, but nothing ground breaking.


What I didn't like : The layout of the book, while serviable and printer friendly, still felt quite barren. Some borders or such could have helped this, but it's not a major issue. The lighting rager archetype also did little for me; while thematic, it wasn't the kind of thing I could see using for a game of my own.


Personal preference here, but I'd have preferred the rat style feats be sectioned off to be more easily referenced, and rat trap is a rather weak feat in the chain.


Final Thoughts: Overall, it's a solid book if you're looking to vary the lycanthropes in your game. While you might not use all of the material in it, there's easily enough in here to give you a very solid base for any wererat adventures you're looking to include.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Abroa
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/11/2016 11:00:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first installment of the inexpensive creature-supplement-series by Misfit Studios clocks in at 5 pages, with 1 3/4 pages of SRD and the creature's artwork alongside the header and contact/social site info on the first page, taking up about 1/3 of the space, while editorial information is on page 2 alongside product identity and the declaration of open game content - I'm not a big fan of this layout decision since I tend to print out books and thus, the cover features quite a bit unnecessary ink/toner used in vain...but what about the creature?


The carnivorous coin, or abroa on its own is a CR 1/2 aberration that is fine and has a nasty bite for its size - alongside a dangerous acid. On a cool side, susceptibility to Perform and music makes for an interesting weakness. A second creature-version, the CR 2 swarm of these creatures is much more powerful and the 3 adventure hooks provided also work well with the creatures alongside a brief piece of IC-prose by the eponymous Crawthorne. The one crucial flaw of these creatures, though, does pertain its very angle: These things should look like coins, yes? Well, they have Stealth, so that's nice...but no means of actually disguising themselves/using Stealth to pass as coins - no ranks, no ability to be mistaken for coins, no ability like freeze or a similar means to avoid detection in plain sight...which left me, quite frankly, rather disappointed.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with 2 beautiful artworks I did not expect to find in such an inexpensive little file - kudos here. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. The pdf also comes with a second, more printer-friendly version - kudos again, though the imho sub-optimal aforementioned layout-choices mentioned and the social media icons retain their color.


Steven Trustrum has created a great little creature per se - but also a creature that falls short of its own potential and a layout that could be more considerate regarding the ability to be printed out. While by no means bad, this does thus fall short of excellence and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Crawthorne's Catalog of Creatures: Abroa
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Prestigious Paths: Horse Lord
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/07/2016 04:18:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1/2 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with ~4 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf with 4 new feats:


-Disciple of Cavalry: Use your or your mount's Str-mod for atk and damage; change as a free action. OUCH. This can be pretty powerful.


-Improved Trick Riding: Unless otherwise desired, treat all Guide with knees, Stay in Saddle, Cover, Fast Mount/Dismount-checks as taking 10. Damn cool since it eliminates unpleasant failures.


-Live in the Saddle: Substitute Ride skill modifiers for Wis, Int or Cha modifier for concentration checks in the saddle; sleep in the saddle for DC 15 Ride-checks. This is rather strong, considering how much higher a Ride skill will ultimately be. Not a fan.


-Master of Cavalry: Divide your inflicted damage freely in a 10-ft burst around the point of impact while making a mounted charge, minimum 1 damage per eligible target. Interesting.


There also are two new traits - one for determining breeds and health and one to negate penalties resulting from cultural discrepancies - I like both for their narrative potential.


The Horse Lord PrC nets d8, full BAB-progression with mounted, 3/4 BAB-progression while not mounted and requires a whopping 10 ranks, meaning it's a mid- to high-level goal. The PrC nets 1/2 Fort and Ref-save progression, 4+Int skills per level and proficiency in simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields. I do assume that the mounted BAB is also used for the purpose of combat maneuver calculation while in the saddle, though an explicit note would have been appreciated here. At first level, all Ride-checks may be treated as taking 10; 2nd level nets aforementioned Disciple of Cavalry feat and levels 3, 6 and 9 provide a fighter bonus feat. 3rd level horse lords may issue simple commands, horse whisperer style, to their own horses (and others) via Handle Animal and 4th level increases the number of tricks a horse can be taught by 3, with 11 special tricks (duplicating, for the most part, feats like Iron Will or Weapon Finesse) being provided in a brief table as unique tricks, 2 of which are counted as one trick - including DCs and training time.


At 5th level, horse lords no longer suffer penalties to ranged attacks while in the saddle, even when running only a -2. 7th level provides Master of Cavalry as a bonus feat and 8th level Spirited Charge (triple/quadruple damage if the horse lord already has the feat). As a capstone, we get a +5 dodge bonus for horse lord and mount while engaged in mounted combat.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a nice artwork and bookmarks - in spite of its brevity. Additionally, we get a more printer-friendly version - kudos!


Steven Trustrum's Horse Lord is a humble little PrC that does pretty much what's advertized on the cover: provide a relatively nice mounted PrC to represent nomads or cavalry specialists. There is nothing per se wrong with this PrC - but it does sport some rough edges: The new Disciple of Cavalry-feat, for example, has a pretty low entry-barrier...and the PrC explicitly does not grant any benefits to PCs already having the feat, resulting in a potentially dead level, with the same thing happening for Master of Cavalry at 7th level.


I don't get this - either the prereqs of the feats are too low or there should be something for specialists already having them. Basically, this introduces per se interesting new material, but penalizes players trying their best to use all of it at peak efficiency - and Spirited Charge + Master of Cavalry + Smite/Challenge + Cleave-builds can cut swathes through foes...so yeah, as always with cavalry-specialists, handle with care. ;) At the same time, this certainly is no bad supplement and the traits themselves are nice, as is the steed-trick array. Still, ultimately, the horse lord PrC does feel like it could have used more unique tricks to set it apart, things that e.g. a mounted paladin or cavalier can't do. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 - a solid, if a bit unremarkable PrC-book.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestigious Paths: Horse Lord
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Bite Me! Werewolves
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2015 17:53:41

Bite Me! Werewolves is a good and succinct product that delves into not what it is to be a shapechanger in general, but more specifically what it is to be a werewolf. It differs from Bite Me! Guide to Lycanthropy in that it really does give focus to werewolves. The product does a good job of showcasing them, and goes above and beyond to establish a social order for non-cursed werewolves.


And this is the part that impressed me. Much care was given to steer away from stereotypes of werewolves as ravenous killers or even as enemies to normal humanoids. Rather, they are depicted here as noble packs that value bonds and camaraderie over violence and glory. One could easily see an all werewolf game being run with just this book and the core rules alone!


I'm not ignoring the crunch of the book. Werewolves are presented as a race, so they are rounded out with alternative racial traits, racial sub-types, custom favored class options, racial archetypes, equipment, feats, magic items, a subdomain, spells, and two fabulous NPC write ups! And all of them are of the quality that I have come to expect from Misfit Studios, all being excellently written and developed. I was particularly happy with the archetypes and feats, as they drove home the pack mentality that the book espouses.


The art is awesome as always, and does a great job of setting the tone of the book. The whole thing clocks in at 30 pages, with roughly 7 devoted to advertisements and OGL material, but is still entirely worth the asking price. If I were going to run a werewolf campaign, I would certainly not only buy this product, acquire it in print somehow. A must for any who love werewolves! 5 out of 5!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Werewolves
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Jason Moser Presents: Battle in the Sky
by Jacob R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/30/2015 09:31:51

I purchased this picture and used it for the cover of a supplement called Thrilling Powers. It's become my bestselling product, and I believe that a large portion of the sales come from this beautiful cover. I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Jason Moser Presents: Battle in the Sky
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Bite Me! Meat-That-Screams
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/27/2015 02:01:09

Firstly, I received a review copy of this product.


The system and the feats that support it are amazingly robust, and I was happy to see that there was even a vegetarian option (though it may require the consumption of sentient plants). That having been said, I love the way that it was presented. It's a short product, and aptly priced, presenting a way to portray a ravenous lycanthrope (or any shapechanger really) that consumes the flesh of sentients to power terrible powers. The art is upstanding, and does a good job of setting the grim tone.


Now, I was very pleased with this system and concept, making for potentially interesting character choices and narratives. Personally, I find that I might see more use of this in making multi-faceted NPC characters, and also that this would better fit a group that is comfortable with the themes that the system espouses; that is to say, the subject matter and the type of story that it leads to can be a heavy one, and may lead to either abuse by player or GM, or potentially derail a game with the gruesome and dreary player actions.


Thankfully, the book addresses it. I am once again impressed with the Bite Me! line in that it thinks of everything, and knows that what it presents is very focused, and makes up for it with excellent GM advice. People who buy this book will know how to use it, and will only err if they ignore the advice.


This book gets my royal approval, and 5 stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! Meat-That-Screams
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Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/25/2015 05:19:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive book clocks in at 126 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page backer-thanks, 3 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 113 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


But first, before we do, let me mention something: This massive book is basically a compilation of material I have already reviewed...at least, for the most part: We have the lycanthrope-archetypes, the wereblooded races, the skindancers and the excellent advice/rules-book on actually playing lycanthropes and how to handle them in your campaign - I have already covered, in extensive detail, mind you, all of these pdfs, so in case you require an in-depth analysis, I'll just point you there.


The book begins with a nice introduction to the subject matter by Ann Dupuis before venturing forth into the chapter on playing lycanthropes - which still remains one of the most useful components for a GM or player contemplating the use of lycanthropes in the game - the section is absolutely glorious and exceedingly useful.


The section on archetypes is still solid - the archetypes provided cover most classes and add an option to spice your character up with lycanthropic options. The archetypes are mostly solid, though e.g. the cleric one may be a bit problematic. Still, an overall nice section. The wereblooded get some significant expansion, with Mike Welham providing no less than 7 new minor wereblooded clans. Charchardons get a 1d3 bite attack, can smell blood, hold their breath longer and get +2 to Swim. Chiroptera can lick weapons to make them cause bleed-damage, get +2 saves vs. ingested poisons and diseases as well as becoming nauseated/sickened; they also get +2 to perception and slightly reduce miss-chances granted by concealment as well as vestigial wings.


Crocodylus wereblooded get +2 to Swim (and +2 to Stealth while swimming), an anti-trip vestigial tail, the same plague/disease-resistance and a 1d3 bite. Mantids get +4 Stealth in a certain terrain, +2 to saves versus mind-reading/charm/compulsions and vestigial wings. The Meles must take either +2 Con or Str and get a minor barbarian-like frenzy. The Rattus consider Escape Artist and Swim class skills, get the anti-plague/disease trick at double strength and can squeeze into smaller confines - nice one! Sinuae get +2 CMB for bull rushs and overruns while on the ground and 1d3 tusks. All in all, a solid array of complimentary clans here that further improve the already pretty cool wereblooded material!


The skindancers remain an intriguing alternate race that has some downright glorious potential, but at the same time, they should be considered the most breakable component herein that has some obvious potential for issues; I'd suggest only experienced groups take this one and only once both player and GM have talked about balancing the character properly. Still, the narrative potential makes these guys interesting indeed and they make for truly superb villains with some powerful, evil options.


Now if all of this does not (yet) sound like too much, then you'll be happy to note that this book, more so than its component parts, acts pretty much as a kind of NPC-codex, with quite a few intriguing NPC-builds provided for the options contained within - with most of them even featuring their own artworks!


If you're a fan of well-written fiction, you most certainly will also appreciate the short story "The Duke's Tramp", provided by Dave Gross at the end of this book.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are excellent, particularly considering the length of this book. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' elegant and relatively printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with ample artworks. Additionally, a more printer-friendly version is provided - nice! The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with detailed, nested bookmarks and navigation etc. is simple indeed.


Ann Dupuis, Robert H. Hudson Jr., Jeff Erwin, Rich Howard, J.M. Perkins, Mike Welham, Morgan Boehringer, Jim Wettstein, Ben McFarland, Dave Gross -note something? All of the authors accumulated herein tend to fare pretty well regarding their offerings; they are all talented people and this book does show that. The added amount of content that can be found within these pages most certainly makes the book even more useful and for the asking price, we indeed have a more than fair offering on our hands. While not perfect in every instance, we nevertheless get a massive, concise book on the subject matter that should be appreciated by anyone remotely interested in the material. While I would have loved for some potentially rough edges to be sanded off in comparison to the constituent pdfs, the added content does somewhat alleviate my gripes in that direction. Over all, this is a useful resource indeed and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes
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Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2015 13:29:35

For disclosure, I did receive a review copy of this product.


First impressions: They are throwing themselves into the subject, have done a lot of research, and definitely are in love with the subject matter, which goes a long way in my book. The guide is also impressively sized for a supplement of its type, looking to be a comprehensive guide to animalistic shape changers at roughly 126 pages (give or take a few OGL pages).


I have to mention that I love the use of literary quotes, and that it is something I sort of miss from White Wolf products. They are all very well thought out and relevant.


There are good talking points about the downsides to afflicted lycanthropy, and why it should matter more than as a "power up". Additionally, I enjoyed the in depth discussions on playing a natural lycanthrope, and why it is important to measure and consider your choices, up to and including the type of animal you can shift into. There is a lot of care and detail spent emphasizing character development, which should more evident in other supplements about character creation options.


The gamemaster section comes with a healthy dose of caveats, which can be a hassle for people wanting to ignore a lot of the intricacies of lycanthropic PC's. I welcome the discourse though, because such changes to a character should be deep and meaningful, as would be the gamemastery element in such a game. Really, if you didn't want warnings and advice on how to run a lycanthrope, then you wouldn't really want a book like this; you'd use your GM fiat and the party's werewolf would treat his "affliction" more like a class or racial feature and less like a character defining trait.


To put it another way, you wouldn't let your players all play vampires unless you implicitly trusted them and came into it with a healthy perspective. This book offers plenty of perspective, as well as advice on what it could and perhaps should mean to run a game with one or more lycanthropes (or even the provided derivatives).


The book of course compiles the resources necessary to create a lycanthropes, collecting all current open material necessary, as well as providing new options to customize your character. There are a plethora of feats and magic items, creative NPC builds, various archetypes for several classes, all spread out over different flavors and magnitudes of lycanthropes.


The new were-blooded race is also an interesting option that lets you go mildly into the world of were-creatures.


Art is excellent, and well laid out. I'm impressed by the art direction for a book that delivers on the intense need for visual aids for cool looking lycanthropic creatures.


All that having been said, I thoroughly enjoy the book. I feel as though I did not only get a guide on playing lots of different kind of animal shapechangers, but also a smattering of anthropomorphic style characters as well. The advice on running for or playing as a shapechanger was invaluable, and something that any player or game master should read, whether or not they want to ever involve lycanthropy in their games. The advice is just too good, and is quite applicable to so many role playing topics and options, not just lycanthropy.


I give the book 5 stars, and the king's approval. (That would be my seal of approval).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Adequate Commoner
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/27/2015 05:16:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive book clock in at 133 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page Kickstarter-backer-list, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 125 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


Playing a commoner - as you can imagine, this book is not about a gameplay that is a cakewalk. Indeed, one may call it "insane" at first, as the in-character commentary spread throughout the book, from the mouth of the commoner-adventurer extraordinaire Felix Feckle, calls it. Well, turns out, and I can say that from my own experience, it's not that crazy. I have a couple of years of extremely dark, gritty roleplaying with a d20-chassis under my belt, so does this work? Well, for one, the book, alongside aptly-written prose, introduces a crucial component from the get-go: It contrasts playstyles. Commoners need to be smart and as such, wars of attrition, ambushes and dirty fighting with all you've got become not optional, but required.


While not supported in detail, the book also talks about the other NPC-classes with suggestions on their use in a low-powered game. The pdf takes a look at commoners and their balance with a regular group- the first would be to allow high RP-races or templates (double RP or template CR+2). This is highly problematic, since the RP-guidelines in the ARG are anything but a stable guideline - neither among themselves, nor in contrast with other races. This is not something I'd recommend. The second option suggested is to offer 1/2 class level in mythic ranks - this is the option to take for e.g. the divinely-touched PC. Obviously, the other PCs should have a different progression. Once again, not to the fault of this book, this option does suffer somewhat from the basic mythic adventures-rules simply not being that well-rounded. That being said, if you happen to own a couple of Legendary Games' superb Mythic rules-expansions, then this suddenly becomes very interesting -in theory. In practice, mythic rules often work as an amplifier - not exclusively so, but in many cases. Beyond the basic benefits granted by surges etc., the commoner does not have much to amplify in the first place, though. The playing experience of a mythic commoner is hence that of a battery with a pretty small charge - you get your mythic tricks...and then you're more useless than a mute and blind wizard sans spells or spellbook. This section could have used more guidance in that regard.


The third option suggested can be summarized as escalating the Christmas tree-syndrome. The gear-hero gets doubled PC-starting wealth. Additionally, each level provides the commoner a fixed amount of bonus wealth. While this suggestion, once again, is a valid one, it can wreak havoc with WBL-assumptions - what's to keep the other adventurers from benefiting more from the money than the commoner? In practice: Decency between players. Within a game-world's logic: Not much.


Certainly not the 1/2 BAB-progression, no proficiency, all bad saves, no spellcasting, 2+Int-skills chassis of the commoner class. If that sounds negative, it's not intended to be - it just points out the system-inherent issues this book faces. Much like a skin-graft, these solutions do patch up the issue faced - but at the expense of opening another wound. It is my conviction that this book could have done a better job at pointing out these potential issues for GMs contemplating commoner-PCs.


Beyond these, other applications can be found herein - contrary to the claim, 0-level commoner-like rules are nothing innovative: The very first non-starter-kit module I GM'd, "Die Schatzinsel," should anyone care, did exactly that - it does remain a valid option, though, and the rules presented are pretty concise. If that was too obscure to make my point: There are two 0-level rules, one by Tricky Owlbear Publishing and one by Rogue Genius Games for PFRPG.


The other contemplations are sound - from synergy with E6 to the concept of a ninja-revolt (who, historically, were anything but the universal martial arts gods popular media made them...), these can be considered intriguing, inspiring even.


There is another important faction -playing commoners (or in a game in which the odds are stacked against you) makes you a better player: Case in point: My own group. Via years of my exceedingly deadly Ravenloft with wound-systems, madness, highly restricted magic and the like, I have created a monstrously effective force of players. So yes, there is merit to gained from the experience for the players as well - a VERY important factor, at least in my book.


Okay,, I've briefly touched upon the commoner-class - beyond the aforementioned, commoners get d6, proficiency in one simple weapon and one commoner weapon. As FCO, they can gain +1 simple or commoner weapon proficiency. Since the commoner class's chassis is arguably the potentially most boring one possible, the pdf seeks to alleviate that with an interesting little mechanic - commoner jobs. From bouncer to failed apprentices, these variants of the base class modify basic proficiencies and skill-lists available for the class - nice idea!


Since commoners are not proficient with...well, anything that matters, careful consideration must be given regarding e.g. the choice of armors - suddenly, the unloved leather looks rather nifty - after all, 0 ACP means 0 penalty for non-proficiency...Obviously, easily wearable masterwork armor suddenly becomes rather enticing. Commoner weapons would be something to comment op -from pans to torches to cleavers, we get stats for many a weapon that would otherwise fall under the termino ombrellone "improvised weapon". Ideal melee and ranged weapon suggestions (often defined rather by versatility than sheer damage-output) help and a score-by-score breakdown of attributes further helps designing a commoner with at least adequate chances of survival. See what I did there? ;)


Skills are also handled, with handy advice on making e.g. Profession more useful in certain situations- something especially less experienced GMS should take a look at. The next chapter deals with trait-selection - quite an array of them are discussed and analyzed regarding their viability - but there also are new traits to choose from. The traits, for one, get the trait-bonus right, so that is a nice thing to see. The traits themselves are pretty strong as far as traits are concerned, so while fitting for their intended design-purpose, I do urge GMs to lock these down for other classes, mainly because there are traits here that cover an established trait's area. From +1 to crit confirmation to UMD as class skill including 1/day reroll, the traits are thematically consistent and supplement the task of properly playing commoners pretty well.


Regarding feats, the pdf has an assortment of nice ideas - basically, it acknowledges that regular classes get hard-coded combat styles via their design and codifies combat style-goals achievable via feats, taking some weight of your considerations - nice! These set-ups definitely help and are pretty nice, but more interesting would be the new [Commoner]-feats, which help offset some dangers and issues of running a commoner: Gaining Wis-bonus to Knowledge-checks to offset the lack of skills...adding the advanced template to your trained tiny animal - the options are pretty intriguing. Need a better draft animal to drag your equipment? Get a feat and train it - pretty cool! Adding filth fever to attacks, absolute basics of magic...while not suitable for regular classes, they sure work pretty neatly for commoners and the often used class level prereq prevents abuse - nice! There is also a modified leadership here - while I am a huge fan of the feat, I'm not sold on this one - mainly because the feat would have made for an easy way to actually make these guys balanced with base classes: Grant them leadership for commoners and allow them to form troops! While not particularly lethal, a solution similar to Legendary Games' General-class would not only have worked - it would have echoed the most iconic scenes of the angry mobs coming for the monsters... Then again, that may just be me.


The pdf also provides new story feats - and these not only have a significant array of cool narrative options, their specifically for commoners designed benefits also provide some iconic tropes - this chapter is inspired and helpful and, particularly all-commoner groups should definitely consider taking a bunch of these. I already mentioned that equipment and strategy are crucial for commoners - the equipment section goes, piece by piece, through your new favorite tools to keep you alive - and provides a significant array of awesome new alchemical items: From breathable air-granting crystals to fungal stun vials to (somewhat underpriced) tanglefoot bags that deal fire damage. The pdf also sports a similar discussion on magical consumables and important trick arrows that help coordinate the adventuring in the absence of reliable magic.


Easy rules for an array of improvised traps help you and your commoner-comrades keeping the upper hands and the most useful wondrous items are also compiled for your convenience - including a bunch new ones. All of these, ultimately, though, can only do so much - hence, the next chapter is of tantamount importance: Tactics. This section, quite frankly, is gold and not only useful for commoner-centric games. At the same time, though, I wished the one tactical encounter-map that highlights the generation of choke-points, would be different: One side's obstacles are coffins and, quite frankly, an undead horde can get over these, rendering the visualization of this advice subpar. This does not impede the validity of the text, though. The handy lists of combat advantages and disadvantages and basic pieces of advice for GMS are also appreciated. A sample way of taking down an adventurer party is depicted in a step-by-step-process and a similar scenario is provided for a a party of lvl 1-commoners vs. a CR 4 monster.


Obviously, the commoner-experience is not only about metagaming concerns and different approaches - it is also about getting into the mindset of the commoner and thus, roleplaying advice and the role of the community are further emphasized. 5 sample level 1 commoners, 1 sample CR 8 character and finally, the CR 18 character Mr. Feckle also gets his statblocks. That being said, he is a great example on why the CR-system isn't perfect - one of my 8th level characters, anyone of them, could easily take him down. Again, though, this is not explicitly this book's fault.


The pdf ends with a sample adventure: The premise being that the PCs are failed adventurers turned cooks - and the adventure is hilarious. From being afraid of the nagaji who gives them their task to getting the (dangerous!) ingredients to die, challenges include chopping onions sans irritation - better yet, there are optional modifications for the quest and pregens, all ready to go. And no, I'm not going into the details - the story is solid and amusing, challenging and structure-wise, pretty straight-forward - a surprisingly nice supplemental module.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that is pretty easy to read. The pdf sports numerous solid, comic-style full-color artworks and the pdf comes with extensive bookmarks, including nested bookmarks. Navigation is comfortable. Going a step beyond, the pdf comes with a printer-friendly b/w-version as well as with an interactive version that has a 3-column landscape layout-standard and makes use of this book with electronic media exceedingly easy.


Lead-designer J.M. Perkins, with additional writing by Mike Welham and Patrick Harris, has created a concise book - the definite lowest magic gaming pdf you can imagine: The material herein is solid, concise and well-presented. So yes, if you want to try hard mode, play PFRPG more like a puzzle game, if you want to increase the lethality factor or just go gonzo or extra-gritty, then this book is for you. If you have no experience with this type of gaming, the one wherein the odds are stacked horribly against you, then this will spare you a lot of trial and error and grief and provide a fresh experience. At the same time, this book is, at least to me, not perfect - why? Well, I know I am the absolute minority and would be surprised to hear of more groups with this much experience regarding the pitting of PCs versus ridiculously superior forces - but still: While reading this book, I pretty much felt a constant, almost never abating sense of déjà-vu. Basically, to me, this book offered not much eureka-moments or sufficiently new/unconventional material.


Whether I can recommend this book thus very much rests on the individual level of experience of your group and the GMing prowess/experience of the GM in charge. There is another factor I feel the need to mention: The new content herein is pretty awesome. At the same time, though, do not expect the whole pdf to be new material. On the plus-side, this book collects a lot of handy material for your convenience - it's nice to have all of these disparate rules in one book and e.g. the class's reprint is justified by the new jobs. At the same time, I found myself wishing this book had devoted less space to reprints of traits, feats and their minor modifications and also went a bit further off the trails - the crunch herein is solid, but it tends to limit its impact to more basic effects. When approaching this book from the mindset of a GM without experience in the field covered, I felt myself wishing for more of the per se well-written new content and more advice and tactical guidance, especially since the latter is perhaps the most useful chapter herein. Whether you prefer completion or also would have loved to see more new material (especially considering that what's here is pretty cool!) instead of reprints/modifications depends on your own preference.


When all is said and done, this book is a good purchase if you're looking for commoner-style game-play, but one that falls slightly short of what it could have been: Troops, lynch-mobs, perhaps a detailed array of terrain set-pieces with rules-relevant repercussions for GMs to further reward commoners, more advice - all of these would have suited the book better in my opinion. How to rate this, then? While this nice book fell short of being the definite resource on the topic, at least for me, it also remains the only resource on the subject matter and does its job well. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Adequate Commoner
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