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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
von Cody B. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 12/03/2018 17:21:08

This book made me a fan of Kobald Press and I've been following them ever since! I honestly prefer this book over the MM. The breadth of content, both low and high level, is amazing. The art is top-notch.

I particularly love how they have given stats for the fey lords and ladies, deamon princes and other high level individual entities. I cannot recommend this product enough. Love, love, love it.



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Eldritch Lairs for 5th Edition
von Ryan S. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 11/05/2018 21:49:41

Good collection of lair based encounters. Fun, thought out, and great finished product as always from Kobold Press. Definitely worth having in your folder of quick encounters, or reading through for inspiration.



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Eldritch Lairs for 5th Edition
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Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
von Monica G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 10/17/2018 21:47:15

Prepared! is a book of 12 encounters with a detailed backstory that are easy to fit into most campaigns or even easier to run as one-shot adventures. The encounters in this book cover from about 1st to 15th level. Though, it should be noted that they aren't long adventures, they're encounters that can fill up a game session of a few hours in length. This book is the perfect place to find a quick one-shot when you need to run a game in a pinch, such as when some of your players can't make it to your regular game, and you can't run the adventure you had planned, or if you need a quick adventure to run with your buddies next weekend. In those situations, you'll be able to find something here that's nice and easy to run for most player levels.

As for the adventures found in this book, there are some really creative and memorable encounters. Some of the adventures include a raid on a goblin 'fortress', a crawl through a mine that is actually the fossilized remains of a long-dead monster, a tomb that contains some clever traps and challenges, and an investiation into a secret tomb beneath a feast hall. These encounters all have interesting hooks that are easy to incorporate into a long-running game, and each provides questions that you, as the DM, can incorporate into future adventures that you write yourself if you chose to do so. As well, the authors also make it easy for DMs to prepare with a short list of the elements that make up each adventure alongside some really nice artwork and maps that set the scene. This really helps speed up preparation if you haven't read the adventure and you need to get caught up quickly. The only problem you may run into is that some adventures use monsters from Kobold Press' Tome of Beasts. This is a great book that we'll save for another review, but most adventures only require you to have your Monster Manual handy, and you can take a few mintues to swap out for monsters in the Monster Manual if need be.

Overall, this book is a huge help to dungeon masters who need to run an adventure right now, but don't have time to prep. Most players will find these adventures to be interesting, challenging, and engaging. This book is extremely useful for a quick one-shot, maybe after hours in the hotel lobby at a gaming convention or at a weekend retreat. Given the quality of the encounters, and fact that it offers adventures for many levels, it's a must-have for regular DMs.

Check out the whole review and other titles at Geeksagogo.com!



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Zobeck City Map
von Rainer G. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 08/12/2018 05:20:02

OK, folks are complaining about the product being broken up into four images...but it's not too hard to extract a single jpg or png file from it (but, yes that should have been included).

Once downloaded,in Adobe Reader, just click on the map (crosshair cursor) . Ctrl-C to copy the image (you get the whole map, not just a corner)! Paste it into any painting program (paint.net is good and it's free). And Save it to JPG or PNG format!

The image is 2475x1800 in size. A higher resolution would be nice as the location description fonts are a bit chunky, but they are legible. They should also provide a version with no numbered locations overlaying the buildings, and a B&W players printable version.

BUT WAIT...

Currently the "Zobeck Gazetteer" is discounted to $4.99 and has same map at modestly lower quality.

If your really tight on funds the free preview also has the map! Use the technique above to extract it (the preview's "Sample file" overlay text won't appear). It's vertically compressed in the preview by half. First Rotate it 90° clockwise to a normal viewing orientation. it’s size is now 1728(width)x2376(height). You can then use Image Resize to expand from a width of 1728 to 3456. This gives you get a surprisingly usable image, text is legible, etc. Perhaps use Effects, Photo, Sharpen at say 4% to enhance it a tad.



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Midgard Worldbook for 5th Edition and PFRPG
von Bruce A. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/25/2018 00:07:22

The Midgard Worldbook for 5th Edition and Pathfinder is a huge and complex campaign setting for D&D 5e and Pathfinder. The majority of the book is presented without reference to specific rules, and any necessary rules for either system are presented in short appendices at the back of the book. Its’ 461 pages contains one chapter detailing the history and background of the world, ten chapters exploring the nations and people of Midgard, one chapter detailing the deities of the world, and the two afore mentioned appendices. Unfortunately the book lacks an index, which would have been useful in a tome of this size. To run a full campaign in the Midgard setting, one of the companion books, The Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition, or the Midgard Player’s Guide for PFRPG is required. These books detail the racial and class options specific to Midgard, as well as spells and new magic rules. The Tome of Beasts is also an indispensable resource for 5th Edition Midgard specific creatures.

The world of Midgard is vast, and it is both familiar and fantastical at the same time. Many of the nations and cultures are based strongly on corresponding historical cultures and regions of Earth. There are also some areas that are entirely fantastical. The world of Midgard goes far beyond the Western Medieval culture prevalent in so many fantasy RPG settings. Midgard is based most heavily on Eastern European and Middle Eastern culture, but includes so much more, from Northern barbarians to ancient Egyptian god kings. It also offers several wildly fantastical lands that have no corresponding culture in real world history.

The jewel in the crown, for me, is the chapter on Midgard's pantheon. It presents us with gods that are both mysterious and immanent. The nature and identity of the gods is inscrutable as gods take on masks of other gods, some benign, some malevolent, yet possibly both at the same time.

The art in the book is very evocative, and does a great job of presenting the imagery that the text hints at. I found a few typos throughout the book, but nothing too distracting. For those familiar with the original Midgard Campaign Setting, this book advances the plot line of the world by about 10 years.

For a more in depth review and overview of the setting, see my blog post here



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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
von Steve D. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/20/2018 03:54:38

Absolutely fantastic. If you're handy with Photoshop or similar and want to make 2D paper minis of the new cdreatures, the artwork in the PDF is generally easy to separate out. Just the thing to give the seen-it-all veteran player a genuine WTF moment or 400!



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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
von Paul L. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/18/2018 17:36:33

This is exceptional... For a PDF version, the artwork does not suffer, and of course the creatures are great. I use Roll20 and I am able to build my own bestiary in that program by simply copying and pasting, which my players are not happy about because none of them HAVE this book, so no one knows what I am throwing that them. Glass Gator? HA! You don't know. I look forward to using this with glee. Great price great content. Thank you to the creators and Thanks to Dungeon Master's guild.



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Prepared 2: A Dozen One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
von Customer Name Withheld [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/12/2018 08:45:18

Some of the 12 adventures are more "scenarios" than they are short adventures that take approx 2 hrs to complete (which is what I was expecting). The underlying ideas are reasonably creative/interesting. 4 stars for content.

Unfortunately, the PDF is wonky, it hangs up a lot (hourglass) and I sometimes have to wait 30+ seconds for it to "catch up" in order to continue scrolling through the document. I also own a pdf of the Book of Lairs from Kobold, which does not present similar problems when scrolling through the document. Perhaps offering a "print friendly" version for download with artwork that is not as high quality would solve this problem(?). 2 stars for technical implementation.



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Prepared 2: A Dozen One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition
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Midgard Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition
von Nathan T. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/09/2018 23:59:56

I've read through most of this product and for the most part I like what I see.   I don't intend to run a game in this setting but there is plenty of material here worth using: weapon maneuver options, ley lines, new conjuration spells. many of the class options are very specific and only make sense in he contex of the Midgard setting. the cleric domains just didn't cut it for me. I might not allow ssomethings as player options,   but as DM I'm totally going to build npcs with them. new races are good although in my opinion trollkin need a tweak. overall great effort by kobold press.



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Midgard Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 05/08/2018 05:23:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive hardcover clocks in at 211 pages, 207 if you don’t count editorial, ToC, etc. – 216 pages minus the usual aforementioned components, if you count by pdf pages and include the covers.

This review is based on the hardcover print version of the book, which I received in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. The book was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons and due to receiving the print copy of this book. I have also had the chance to take a look at the pdf to ascertain electronic functionality, but have mainly based my review on the print version of this book.

Now, first things first – this book is very much the big Midgardian crunch-book, i.e. it focuses on providing new mechanics for your 5e-game. The book does not consist wholly of new material, though: Instead, it also collates and refines material taken from the Deep Magic-series, as well as from e.g. Beyond Damage Dice, and the racial supplements, which were released to much acclaim for 5e, such as Midgard Heroes. That being said, the compilation aspect is very much secondary to the huge amount of new material featured herein.

As far as Deep Magic is concerned, the book does only include the player-facing installments of the series, which is, considering the rather problematic Doom & Blood-installment, a boon. At the same time, this means that you won’t find the excellent Void Magic-installment within these pages.

Now, this being a book that contains a huge amount of class options, new races, etc., I cannot simply provide you a breakdown of each and every feat, spell, archetype, etc. – if I did go for the level of detail I provided in e.g. my reviews of the Deep Magic-series, the review would be bloated beyond any usefulness and eat more hours of my time than I can devote to a single book. That means that I am going to paint in slightly broader strokes than usual.

It should also be noted that this is NOT a player’s gazetteer or the like – while the introduction mentions a couple of Migardian regions and themes, the book focuses primarily on rules components and does not offer regional explorations or the like, edited and freed of spoilers for player-use. This is a rules-book, not a setting book – though the setting-specific components do bleed into this book here and there, it is about as setting agnostic as you can be without compromising the flavor.

All right, got that? Perfect!

So, after the aforementioned quick introduction, we begin this massive tome with the racial chapter. Presentation-wise, this is oriented along the baselines established in 5e’s PHB, i.e. we get notes on nomenclature and the like, advice for the playing the race and the respective mindset, etc. This chapter also contains notes on subraces that correspond to certain ethnicities in the Midgard setting – for example, river elves, canton dwarves, etc. are mentioned. The racial chapter features a couple of favorites introduced before: The centaur, gearforged, dhampir, gnoll, kobold, minotaur, ravenfolk, shadow fey and trollkin make a return here, representing pretty much a best-of of the race-centric 5e-supplements released by Kobold Press so far. Beyond these, the chapter includes two previously unreleased races, the first of whom would be the bearfolk, who increase Str by 2 and have a 1d6 + Str-mod bite attack that causes piercing damage. They get 13 + Dex-mod natural AC and are treated as +1 size to determine carrying capacity. Bearfolk have proficiency in Athletics and Perception. The grizzlehide subrace gets +1 Constitution and may Constitution modifier times per long rest interval attempt an unarmed strike as a bonus action when making an attack, adding grappling. They are also resistant to cold damage. Purifiers increase Wisdom by 1, get 1 druid cantrip, using Wisdom as spellcasting ability, and once per rest interval, they can roll +1d4 and add it to a save governed by a mental attribute.

The second race would be the ratfolk, who increase Dexterity by +2 and Intelligence by 1, but also decrease Strength by 2. They are Small, with a walking speed of 25 ft, and have a swimming speed of 10 ft. Ratfolk get darkvision and may move through a hostile creature’s space as long as it’s Medium or larger. Ratfolk get advantage on attack rolls if an ally is within 5 ft. of the creature and not incapacitated. They get advantage on Handle Animal to influence rodents. All races come with notes on life expectancy, as well as height etc.

No complaints regarding the races-chapter – well-presented material here. The second, massive chapter deals with new options for martial and roguish characters, offering options for non-spellcasting classes. Now, even a cursory glance will show you one thing here: The material is not evenly spread, not by a long shot. We get one primal path, two bardic colleges, 6 martial archetypes for the fighter, two paladin oaths, two ranger archetypes and 3 archetypes for the rogue. So yeah, the barbarian gets the short end of the stick here, particularly since the one primal path is neither complex, nor particularly interesting. Advantage on Wisdom saves, once per rest interval calm emotions, a bit psychic bonus damage while raging and freedom of movement while raging will probably not really sell many players. The first bardic college, the college of entropy, has been taken from Deep Magic: Chaos Magic, while the Greenleaf college nets a slightly expanded spell list that nets users of inspiration dice temporary hit points, provides land’s stride and the option to remove diseases and detrimental conditions from a brief list – basically a slightly druid-y bard.

Now, as far as fighters are concerned, the clanking mercenary gets the option to temporarily improve armor or weaponry, with higher levels providing construct-themed benefits, like advantage on saves vs. frightened and charmed, reducing exhaustion gained by 1, thankfully usable only once per rest interval and the 18th level option to spend HD as a bonus action to negate some negative conditions. The elite of the Mharoti empire, the edjet, is a specialist of using both shield and versatile weapons, with higher levels providing the option to shoe multiple targets, quicker healing during short rests, once per long rest interval, and at high levels, a cool, defensive trick to help allies and improve your own AC when wielding a shield, all reaction-based. I liked this one, though personally, I would have made the defensive trick available sooner and instead have it scale. Morgau and Doresh’s ghost knights are pretty straightforward, in that they receive a find steed-based creepy horse that upgrades to undead at 7th level. It would have been nice to get stats for the undead steed. Frightening charges, necrotic bonus damage, requiring no more food or drinks and immunity to being frightened are unlocked. The 18th level ability lets you turn insubstantial, which is pretty neat. The second riding-themed option would be Zobeck’s griffon knights, gaining a griffon mount that scales with your level, which is an extremely potent option at low levels, compared to other pets, particularly since 3rd level provides 1/day (weird – why not once per long rest interval?) feather fall, which mitigates the primary danger of falling to your death. Higher levels yield aerial maneuvers, which increase damage (this scales) and total at 3, +1 gained at 10th level. This one is really strong, and frankly, I’d have preferred more versatility regarding maneuvers. The shieldbearer is a shield specialist, the sword-dancer, surprise, a somewhat dexterous light or no armor specialist. I found both to be pretty enjoyable.

The paladin oaths would be the oath of radiance, who has a radiance/light-theme versus undead and creatures from the shadow plane. This is relevant due to for example shadow fey hailing from there. A solid one, though one that made me wish it tied in with the cool angelic seal-engine. The second oath would be the oath of thunder, who focuses on somewhat Thor/Perun-like visuals, with the option to fire lightning bolts via Channel Divinity and a focus on crushing fiends and aberrations. Tenets are provided for both oaths. The vampire slayer ranger does what it says on the tin, providing anti-undead alternatives to those usually gained. Not the biggest fan of such nemesis designs, and 11th level nets +6d6 (RAW untyped) damage when making a melee attack versus a favored enemy. Zobecker scouts are more interesting, gaining the ability to be aware of select items, an expanded spell list and the option to create interesting alchemical devices. I wish we got more selections there, but this one, theme-wise, is one of my favorites in the chapter. The rogue duelist is really interesting; The archetype gets a point-based resource, prowess, which may be used to activate a variety of techniques, which manage to depict an interesting, rather well-balanced array of classic duelist tricks. One of my favorite takes on the concept. The rogue fixer focuses on commerce, securing items, etc. and is probably more suitable for NPCs than for PCs, at least unless you’re running a really gritty campaign. The whisper archetype, reproduced from Deep Magic: Shadow, but alas, sans tweaking the, admittedly minor complaints I had there.

Then, we are introduced to weapon options first introduced in Beyond Damage Dice, which I still maintain, are an awesome idea. Special abilities, depending on weapons employed? Heck yes. The base save DC is 8 + proficiency modifier + Strength or Dexterity modifier. Now, I think heavy weapons should be restricted to using Strength, but that is an aesthetic complaint. Now, Beyond Damage Dice, while a good idea, was less impressive, to say the least, in its execution. Needlessly swingy all-or-nothing parries (even though a perfectly serviceable parry-mechanic exists in 5e!) and a general uneven power-curve that makes some weapons better than others did detract from the per se genius idea. Javelins get, for example, an ability that only kicks in at maximum range, making it hyper-circumstantial…and no, it’s not potent. Spears are still non-existent in the engine, focusing only on polearms. This section represents a HUGE missed opportunity to clean up, expand and refine the subsystem. Alas, no such luck. Disappointing.

The next chapter deals with divine casters – we get a brief overview of Midgardian deities and a whopping 17 (!!) domains, rules to create a pantheist priest who circles patron deities…and has no drawback for the improved flexibility…and a whopping 1 druid circle. One. This would be the circle of the stones, who receives a spirit guide familiar, bonus spells with a theme of illusion and divination, the option to enhance your spells via a brief bonus action spirit dance, a lifeline of the “prevents death” type, usable once per long-rest interval and at 14th level, a potent spirit form. I like this one. But seriously. One paltry circle versus a metric ton of domains? Why? Anyways, the domains provided would be Apocalypse, Beer (Heck yeah, spirituality I can get behind!), Cat, Clockwork, Darkness, Dragon, Hunger, Hunting, Justice, Labyrinth, Moon, Mountain, Ocean, Prophecy, Speed, Travel and Void. The latter would probably have made for a cool tie-in with the void magic engine that is absent from the book, but that as a purely aesthetic observation. The domains are pretty straight-forward in their benefits. I am not the biggest fan of +10 to a Dexterity ability or skill check via the Cat domain’s channel divinity, and I’m concerned about the Travel domain’s easy, channel divinity-powered exhaustion level remover at 2nd level.

The next chapter deals with new options for arcane casters, encompassing two sorcerous origins (here called “sorcerous bloodline”), 3 warlock pacts, and 11 wizard schools. The Shadow bloodline is reprinted from Deep Magic: Shadow Magic. The other origin would be the mazeborn, which represents minotaur blood and thus doubles proficiency bonus to Charisma checks with them, if it does apply to the check. The base ability nets you the ability to bonus action cast a spell that requires a melee attack in conjunction with Dash – sans limits. 6th levels nets horns and the option to cast enlarge via 1 sorcery point. 14th adds + Cha-mod damage to spells that cause psychic damage, and one creature damaged by such a spell may also be affected by confusion for 2 sorcery points. The 18th level ability allows you to spend 3 sorcery points to create phantasmal labyrinth distortions, which can prevent reactions, imposes disadvantage on attacks against you, and requires concentration to maintain as a balancing factor. The warlock pacts include the genie lord from Deep Magic: Elemental Magic, the Great Machine from Deep Magic: Clockwork Magic and the Light Eater from Deep Magic: Shadow Magic. While these pacts are per se tightly presented, the few minor rough patches have not been addressed…and if you’re a fan of the Deep Magic-series, you get exactly 0 new content here.

Now, fans of the wizard will smirk at that, but we meet several old acquaintances here as well: The Angelic Scribe, the Clockwork, Dragon Masks, Elementalism, Elven High Magic, Entropy (chaos magic), Illumination and Ring Warden would be previously released options. Here, we have something I enjoyed seeing – the chaos magic, for example, has been streamlined and made a tad bit more precise, making it now one of the most compelling aspects of the book, at least as far as I’m concerned. Elven High Magic could still be slightly more precise in its details, but remains a favorite of mine as a person. Dragon masks, angelic glyphs, etc. are still frickin’ amazing. Now, what about the new stuff? Well, for one, we have the doom croaker, obviously a ravenfolk-inspired one, which halves time and gold for adding divination spells to the spellbook at 2nd level. The tradition is basically a slightly Norse-flavored divination specialist, flavor-wise aligned with the ravenfolk. In case you were wondering: No, strangely, it does not interact with the rune magic system. Speaking of which: Yes, it makes a return. No, Raido STILL has no rune mastery power. Urgh. On the plus-side, the appendix once more contains the stats for the Vaettir and tupilak golems, elk horn rod and nothing pole and the golem now gets proper flavor-text and formatting. The neat hypothermia and snow blindness rules from that installment can similarly be found in the appendix at the end of the book, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The phenomenal ley line engine for 5e is similarly included here and represented by the geomancer and in the general spellcasting section. This leaves us with the rather brief necrophagy tradition, which is obviously cannibal/dead-eating themed and as such aligned with the darakhul. This one is a necromancy specialist who gets an undead familiar (tweaks noted) and who can eat the dead to fortify himself. Kudos for the ability being kitten-test-proof, i.e. you can’t cheese it by eating a bag of kittens. Per se solid. The feat chapter focuses on the supplemental feats for the respective arcane traditions.

Now, the next section is one of my favorites in the whole book: We get 20 fully realized backgrounds, with two variants added on top. The backgrounds come with all rules-relevant material, as well as the personality traits, ideals, flaws, and bond-tables we expect, and they are actually INTERESTING. The titles say it all: Amazons of Perunalia, Arbonesse Exiles, Benmean Scholars, Blood Sisters (you know you want to play an evil nun!), Dancing Bear Guides, Dhampirs of Morgau, Exiles of the Black City, Ghost knights, Gnoll Caravan Raiders, Haunted Villagers, Krakovan Rebels, Mharoti Emmisaries, Miners, Mountain’s Witnesses, Mystics of Baba Yaga, Neimhein Gnomes, Northlands Reavers, Nurian Theurges, Seers and Prophets – the backgrounds provide some seriously awesome flavor, ooze the great Midgardian lore in many cases…and still offer some options that are applicable sans any reskinning. With the exception of Seer, Prophet and the 2 variant backgrounds (previously released in Unlikely Heroes), all of these, at least to my knowledge, are new – and they’re not reskins either: The gnoll caravan raider, for example, is different from the generic raider background previously introduced. A ton of flavorful, fun new material in this chapter. Huge kudos!

Now, obviously, with such a focus on magic, the final “big” chapter (I already touched upon the appendix) contains a ton of spells. The chapter begins with a spell list by character class, with the spells organized within by spell level. Huge plus here: The respective spell-lists, and the individual spells in the alphabetical presentation that follows the lists, sport tags that denote the magical tradition to which they belong. This is CRUCIAL in navigating this book, at least in my opinion. You see, it allows the GM to allow, for example, character x access to clockwork magic, while his buddy gets ring labyrinth magic. This is very, very important. However, at the same time, the organization of this chapter makes it ultimately slightly less comfortable to use than it probably should be – you see, this adheres to 5e’s, pardon my French, idiotic idea that it’d be smart to no longer note in a spell’s block what kind of classes can cast it. It’s one of the most inconvenient formatting decisions of 5e and one I intensely dislike – I also find it odd, since some Deep Magic-installments did note the classes for each spell in an improvement regarding that component. Oh well. That being said, since the book does adhere to the formatting convention established by the PHB, I will not penalize it for this decision. At the same time, the lack of an index does constitute a comfort detriment of sorts as far as I’m concerned.

Anyways, let us take a look at the spells shall we? The chapter encompasses, sans the aforementioned spell lists, a total of 55 pages of spells. Here, I can complement the Kobold crew: Previously not codified reactions now specify their precise conditions; verbiage that erroneously refer to “charm and fear effects” and the like was cleaned up, so the rules are definitely more precise than in their debut. There are still nitpicks to be found here and there, though – while in the context of walking wall, it’s evident that we’re talking about melee attacks, the text per se does not say so. Chaotic vitality refers to caster level, a concept that does not exist in 5e – on the plus-side, though, it now has its potential haste effect properly codified. To me, that is more important, since the CL-snafu, frankly, can be handled by a half-way competent GM…and it’s the only instance of this reference in the whole book.

Much to my pleasant surprise, some of the spells that previously were too potent have been adjusted to present more sensible effects. Shadow trove, for example, can no longer be used to get rid of artifacts, spilling its contents on the floor instead of vanishing them. Slither, the second level spell that turns you into a shadow not still nets you a potent defense and RP-options, but does so without being broken. Starfall has similarly been balanced in a better way to account for its increased flexibility when compared to other spells. Now, the book contains, spell-wise, three Deep Magic-traditions previously not codified as such: Labyrinth, Rothenian and hieroglyphs. The latter sports, for example, a potent 8th-level combined true seeing and detect magic that automatically identifies each spell witnessed, as well as the much-beloved beguiling gift, translated to 5e to the rejoicing of tricksters everywhere. Bless the dead prevents rising from death as an undead – and must be cast when touching the corpse. Boreas’ breath freezes water. Broken charge lets labyrinth specialists divert the path of an incoming adversary and inflicts minor psychic damage. Its low range and reaction (properly codified) casting time keep it in check. Confused senses, revelations via moonlight, calling forth scarab swarms, cursing targets to not be sated by food… there are some nice ones here.

On a purely formal observation, desiccating breath’s average damage value is not required for spells. This spell also refers to animals, which is not correct terminology in 5e – the creature type is “beast”. I am also not the biggest fan of e.g. eidetic memory, which, instead of giving you something unique to derive from its benefits, translates to a somewhat lame and slightly Pathfinder-y +10 to Intelligence checks. On the plus-side, an encrypt/decrypt cantrip makes sense, though more potent versions would be the first that I’d research... Exsanguinate’s damage at 5th level may be somewhat pitiful, but it reduces maximum hit points until a long rest has been completed and may incapacitate targets, which is rather potent. On another note, RAW, it causes bludgeoning damage, which is a slightly odd choice, considering that the blood drain of vampires, for example, is based on necrotic damage. It also can, RAW, affect creatures sans blood, which is even odder to me. Anyways, that is a more or less aesthetic complaint. Assuming a potent form of the gods (avatar stats included) is a neat idea. On the plus-side, having a target dragged away, potentially to death, by spectral ponies? Heck yeah! All in all, this chapter represents a pleasant surprise. The book has refined and steamlined a lot here, and the fact that it has retained the structure of the spell traditions means that A GM can pretty easily allow players access to the material that’s considered to be appropriate for the character.

The appendix, beyond the material already mentioned, includes notes of clockwork scarabs, special features for various breeds of Midgardian horses, notes on kobold mounts, and the ring servant also makes a return here. We also get snow cat stats and rules for alchemist’s smoke and clockwork caltrops.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are, as a whole, very good. It is evident that care has gone into dealing with quite a few hiccups in previous iterations of material compiled within, both formally and rules-language wise. Layout, as always with kobold Press’ books, is gorgeous and adheres to a two-column full-color standard. The book contains a lot of gorgeous artwork, though fans of Kobold Press will be familiar with quite a few of the pieces. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The hardcover is a beautiful book with thick, matte pages and glossy front and back cover. Its binding is solid as well – so the recommended version of this book, without a doubt, would be print.

Designers Dan Dillon, Greg Marks, Chris Harris, Richard Green and Shawn Merwin, with additional design by Jon Sawatsky, Michael Ohl, Rich Howard, Scott Carter and Wolfgang Baur, have created the best crunch book Kobold Press has released so far. Kobold Press’ strength traditionally did lie more in the phenomenal lore woven, in the adventures and the popular Midgard setting’s amazing flavor. While this book retains some Midgard flavor, it also represents a strong focus on the mechanical aspects of the game, creating basically a second Player’s Handbook in scope and ambition.

This book is a tough nut to rate, for it is at once a compilation, yet still offers a lot of new material. This material, while not always as refined or as mechanically interesting (you won’t see much that can hold a candle to dragon magic, for example), contains some true gems that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you haven’t yet checked out Kobold Press’ 5e-offerings, then this is an absolute no-brainer: There are phenomenal pdfs compiled herein, and quite a few of the options have been improved, redesigned and streamlined. This is definitely better than the constituent pdfs.

At the same time, I confess to having expected slightly more. The fact that e.g. Beyond Damage Dice’s brilliant ideas haven’t been expanded and balanced struck me as odd. Another weakness of the book pertains the distribution of class options. If you’re a barbarian player or have a druid, you’ll be rather underwhelmed, while your cleric and wizard buddies drown in new options. I don’t expect books to offer something for every class, mind you, but the distribution of material herein is uneven to the point where it is somewhat jarring. My final gripe here is with the lack of an index.

That being said, all of these gripes, when looked at in the context of the whole book, with its inspiring backgrounds and flavorful ideas, do pale to an extent. The question remains, whether to get this or not. The response is somewhat tricky.

Fans of Kobold Press who already own the constituent pdfs may well consider the added refinement this offers worth it, may adore having the material collected and in a handy print tome.

On the other hand, if you’re such a fan and expected more rules-components that reach the level of brilliance of some of the more complex and mechanically innovative Deep Magic installments, then you may be disappointed at a high level by the majority of new content being solid, but also pretty conservative in its design-aesthetics.

If you’re new to Midgard and Kobold Press’ 5e-offerings in general, then get this – chances are that you’ll love it! Similarly, if you’re like me and vastly prefer proper print, then this is a no-brainer.

This book, let me make that ABUNDANTLY clear, is a very good, fun and densely packed book of cool stuff.

At the same time, it also, at least to a degree, could have been a tome for the ages. While some of the new martial options are amazing, while the improvements are significant, the book could have been a defining milestone. With evenly distributed material and more stuff for the poor barbarians, sorcerers, warlocks and druids. With a streamlining and expansion of, for example, the weapon options from beyond damage dice….you get the idea. This could have been THE defining crunch-handbook, an unofficial PHB 2…and it still can be seen as such. However, it also represents a book that, while compelling, interesting and well-wrought, feels like it doesn’t 100% reach the heights that it could have.

Ultimately, I have to take all those perspectives into account, and thus, I arrive at a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Whether you round up or down, ultimately depends on what you’re looking for in this book. Personally, I consider this to be closer to 5 stars, and as such, this is what my official verdict will be.

If you’re looking for some seriously huge tome of crunch for your 5e-game, then look no further than this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Wertung:
[5 von 5 Sternen!]
Midgard Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition
von Charles K. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/07/2018 16:06:59

An amazing compilation and expansion onto the Midgard Setting for 5E. Elements from the Deep Magic's series, Beyond Damage Dice, Unlikely Hero', Midgard Hero's, and much much more, that comes together and helps create an epic world with enough options to satisfy the most ravenous of D&D Consumers.

A must have for anyone interested in the Midgard Setting and a GREAT resource for DM's and Players of all calibers.

6 Stars out of 5!



Wertung:
[5 von 5 Sternen!]
Demon Cults & Secret Societies for 5th Edition
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 05/07/2018 11:08:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 5e-version of this massive tome clocks in at 178 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 171 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

First things first: This book references, in some instances, the phenomenal Tome of Beasts. If you don’t have that book, I’d suggest getting it right now. The book also references three installments of the Deep Magic-series: Rune Magic (worth getting), Void Magic (excellent) and Blood & Doom (skip that one). While the book remains functional as a whole sans these other files, the experience is enhanced with them.

Okay, so I’ll actually start the review of this book by covering the final chapter first – in it, we discuss the concept of antipaladins in the context of 5e, represented by two antipaladin oaths. It should be noted that the tweak of the base class chassis as presented in the problematic Deep Magic: Blood and Doom, has not been reproduced herein. The first of the oaths presented here would be the Oath of the Crawling Beyond, which makes copious use of the spells introduced in the excellent Deep Magic: Void Magic file. The channel divinity option of this oath allows you to channel the cold starlight of the void. This only has a range f 10 ft., but on a failed Con-save, the target can’t talk for 1 minute, with saves on subsequent rounds allowing for saves to shake this off. Problematic: While creatures affected can negate this one, they can’t negate the secondary effect, which nets disadvantage on both Dexterity-based and concentration checks until the target completes a long rest. Pretty sure that should be negated on a successful save. The second channel divinity-based option gained here is the void-spun syllable, which forces all creatures within 30 feet to complete your void-syllable into a word, causing your Charisma modifier times d6 psychic damage and stunning the targets until the end of their turn. The verbiage here is slightly odd, as it almost looks like the targets need to complete the syllable on their turn. Upon reaching 5th level, the character gains the Marked feature, which grows tentacles somewhere that increase passive Perception by 2 and provide advantage on Perception checks. 7th level adds blinding to the already strong cold starlight – does it affect those that make the save? No idea. 13th level increases the range to 20 ft. and nets you 10 temporary hit points per target affected, up to a maximum of 20. 15th level nets a damage-increase for void-spun syllables and nets you domination over the targets, with concentration to maintain. The capstone nets you the option to use your action to transform into a horrid beast once per long rest interval, with +2 AC and a size increase, as well as advantage on all attack rolls and successful attacks being treated as critical hits. Creatures witnessing the transformation must save of fall unconscious.

The second oath presented would be the infernal oath, which also introduces two channel divinity options at 3rd level. The first would be the abyssal fires, which inflicts Charisma modifier times 1d8 fire damage to up to 3 creatures – odd: No sight-caveat here. Anyways, creatures that take damage (if they fail their Dex-save) are also charmed for 1 minute, with saves on the end of subsequent turns to shake it off. This also nets you a bonus to atk, ability- and skill-checks and saves equal to the number of creatures charmed with this ability. I am pretty sure that this should have an anti-nova-caveat: RAW, using this feature multiple times could be read as the bonus stacking. The second channel divinity option would be Sow Doubt, which targets 1 creature that can hear you. The target must succeed a Wisdom-save or be unable to take actions or abilities or spell to aid allies for Charisma modifier rounds. Okay, does that include effects that are already in place and require concentration to maintain? Upon reaching 5th level, the character becomes immune to fire damage and gains half the damage you would take as temporary hitpoints, up to a maximum of 10. This would be an infinite temporary hit point shield. Or so the ability would work in theory. The following sentence is right after stating immunity to fire damage: “Additionally, you gain temporary hit points equal to half the amount of fire damage dealt to you, up to a maximum of 10 hit points.” You’re immune. You don’t take fire damage. Thus, you don’t get temporary hit points. Ever. There’s a very important word missing here, namely “would.” 7th level upgrades abyssal fires to target up to 7 targets. At 15th level, sow doubt can apply to up to three creatures. Additionally, half of any damage inflicted to you is divided equally to the affected creatures as fire damage, which can be brutal. The capstone lets you use your action to conjure a 50-ft. column of green fire around you. The pushes targets up to 20 ft. away and deafens them on a failed save. Creatures within 5 ft. of you also take Charisma modifier times 1d10 fire damage on a failed save. You can also have the column topple over sans action, generating a 20-ft.-radius of 4d10 (average damage value included, oddly) fire damage and be grappled by the remains of the fire pillar until the end of the next turn. The chapter also contains 3 new spells, two of which are first level spells: Delay passing temporarily holds a recently slain target’s spirit back for interrogation. Feed the worms targets a creature dropped to 0 hp, which, on a failed Con-save, is instantly consumed and transformed into a swarm of insects. The third spell is the 4th-level wield soul, which is rather potent, as it allows you to tap into a dead creature’s spells or innate spellcasting abilities, choosing one, which you may then cast once as a bonus action. This should have a caveat regarding maximum spell-levels.

Okay, this concludes the antipaladin appendix of sorts, so let’s dive into the respective cults, shall we? Now, organization-wise, each of the cults comes with detailed write-up of its basics regarding organization and goals and the respective leaders are depicted as fully realized NPCs, often with gorgeous artworks. Beyond the named NPC movers and shakers, each of the cult-write ups also features stats for rank and file members of the cult, monsters, if applicable, as well as supplemental material, which depends on the respective cult, but generally represents crunchy bits. Now, as these rules-relevant supplemental materials are clearly intended for use by the antagonists of the PCs, I will judge them as such. Now, if I were to just list each individual statblock herein, we’d bloat this review beyond any immediate usefulness, so I’m taking the broad view here. It should also be mentioned that each of the cults comes with a suggested campaign/adventure-sequence outline of sorts, allowing you to plan the involvement of the cult as appropriate to the level of your party. These outlines deserve special mention, as they’re often rather creative and interesting – and they make the GM’s job easier, so kudos there. It should be noted, though, that these are OUTLINES, not fully realized encounters or campaign plots – they are a suggested skeleton of a plot that you can weave into your game.

It should be noted that the presentation of the cults does not come with backgrounds or the like, as the cults are intended as antagonistic organizations and not as cults for the PCs to join. Fans of Midgard will appreciate the tie-ins of lore for the respective cult entries to the lore of the evocative setting, and, indeed, while the cults can be used in pretty much every setting, they benefit greatly from the tie-ins with Kobold Press’ cult fantasy setting. That being said, some of the cults with deeper ties to Midgard instead come with notes to use them in other settings, which will be appreciated by quite a few readers.

All right, got that? As the following pertains some SPOILERS regarding the nature of the cults in question and their themes and arsenals, I strongly suggest that players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The first cult would be a classic of sorts for many gamers – the Black Goat’s Flock is classic Cthulhiana, depicting a cult of good ole’ Shub-Niggurath, as seen through the lens of Midgard’s brand of dark fantasy: the cult attempts to reassemble the Veridian Codex, an attempt codified, rules-wise, the fully statted spellbook of one of the movers and shakers of the cult. The cult comes with 3 spells, the first of which would be the curse of formless shape (6th level, druid, wizard), which makes you amorphous and socially not acceptable, nets resistance to slashing and piercing damage and prevents holding items etc.; Morphic flux is a high-level (7th) buff that fortifies against crits etc., grants resistance to piercing and slashing and nets you a bonus action additional unarmed attack, the physical damage type of which you may freely choose. Selfish wish (9th level, sorc and wiz)is basically an evil wish variant that is twisted – something that many a campaign does with regular wishes, but oh well. The cult also gets three decent, if unspectacular items – a defensive cloak and a gore-attack granting mask that also sports a 1/day confusion gaze with a range of 30 ft. The third item would be the maddening Valcrist folio, which nets access to the mind-bending options of Deep Magic: Void Magic, one of my favorites from that series. The spells referenced are NOT reproduced herein. The new monster would be the challenge 9 flame-scourged scion, basically a fire-scorched dark young. The most interesting component here would be two of the three leaders, an androgynous fey from beyond the stars and a super-potent goblin cleric. The third is the man that lent his name to the aforementioned folio.

The next cult would be the first of an array of cults that depict a heresy of an established religion, which may require a bit more fiddling when using non-Midgardian campaigns; here we learn about a heresy of the god Baal-Hotep, deity of dragons and fire. The burning rune cult is led by one Ust-Ziyad, a potent challenge 10 Wisdom-based caster that makes use of the rules presented in Deep Magic: Rune Magic, i.e., he makes use of Midgard’s rune magic. We also get stats for a named phlogiston faerie. The most interesting components here would be the Altar Flame Golem at challenge 10, the new brenna-Þurfa rune and the ability to create timed scorch-bombs, which allows the GM to create some nasty death traps and evoke, through a fantasy lens, some modern anxieties pertaining our own safety in an age of globalized threats and urban guerilla warfare. Minor complaint: The rune bombs in 5e are pretty tame, as they require attunement by a master of the kaunen-rune, limiting how many of them you can potentially place. Personally, I think this makes the cult more tame than it should be and is a pretty crippling downside to it. Pathfinder executed that one better.

While we’re on the topic of heresies, let’s talk about the other cults that can be roughly summarized under this moniker. The first of these would be the Night Cauldron of Chernobog, which, when summed up, can be thought of as radical adherents to darkness, with the ultimate goal of bringing the eternal night. With winter hags and a potent alchemist at the top of their food chain, their methodology does differ significantly from e.g. the burning rune – something that also holds true for the third heresy in the book, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The rank and file members also deserve special mention here, making interesting use of derro, dark folk, etc. As far as supplemental material is concerned, we get a poison that causes both blindness and hamper rests and one that not only poisons for 8 hours, it also seeps away Strength. The spells make use of the Tome of Beasts, spawning a shadow beast from a slain target (6th level, cleric, sorc, wiz) and there is a 9th-level ritual for sorc and wiz that can yield permanent boons…but also result in e.g. vulnerability, if not performed properly.

The new items include a darkness-causing lamp (Seen those before. Often.) and the bituminous orb, which fortifies against necrotic damage and yields advantage on saves vs. radiant damage. The orb can also fire blinding and grappling rays that can be used to hold targets and crush them. Interesting translation of the item that I rather enjoyed.

The third heresy of sorts would be one that should be familiar to fans of Midgard in PFRPG – Selket’s Sting is introduced, for the first time to 5e here. Now, the thing that sets this heresy apart from the previous ones would be pretty obvious – the cult is presented in a manner, where the PCs may actually be servants of the cult. It adheres to a quasi-Egyptian leitmotif and represents basically a religious secret police that executes those that violate Selket’s divine mandate. Now, I have already covered this cult in my review of the Demon Cults-series installment for PFRPG, originally released as stand-alone pdfs to supplement the massive Southlands book. Since there previously was no 5e-iteration, here is what this one is about:

These fanatics include a challenge 8 dwarven master of explosives (whose bombs, oddly, cause force damage) and we get a gynosphinx, including several sample riddles. Downside: Sans Tome of Beasts, you won’t have stats for her – it would have been nice to see the standard gynosphinx stats modified for her. The daughter of Selkhet is a potent challenge 11 chosen of the god, including a giant scorpion mount/companion. Supplemental material-wise, we get a bracer that can help poison weapons and there is a spell to call forth a manabane swarm (stats not included). Oh, and the spell fails to specify for which classes it should be made available. A lost chance would be that, in PFRPG, the “serve the cult”-angle was further developed – in 5e, a background would be appropriate here. (As an aside, a general ex-cultist background would have suited the book rather well.)

So what are the doomspeakers? Are they the homeless persons with the "The end is nigh"-shields? Nope, and neither are they doom metal enthusiasts - in this context, the doomspeakers are the antipaladin champions that have drank deeply from the well of profanity that is the Book of Nine Dooms, chaotic demon-worshippers, one and all. If you're tired by moral conundrums, these guys fit the bill - it doesn't get more evil. These are guys that do not even try to seem morally ambiguous - we have capital E level, vile demon worshippers here and their methods and ideology reflect that. Now, unlike the first installment, we receive a bunch of statblocks, not one - from Narn, a straight challenge 10 evil (anti-)paladin dude (also known for crucifying captured enemies and minions) to a savage challenge 7 gnoll (anti-)paladin, the first two builds are nasty pieces. A somewhat tragic tiefling caster (challenge 9) is a more diverse character - severely mutilated by ignorant townsfolk, her descent into utter darkness was traumatic indeed. A challenge 8 gnoll veteran and an evil bardic type (challenge 6) complement this section. The new magic items here include a bone whip that may temporarily reduce maximum hp 1/day. Primal dooms are basically fiends in a bauble – not a big fan there. The section includes a new spell, the 5th level doom of ancient decreptitude, which is frickin’ OP: 2 levels of exhaustion upon casting, then 1 on subsequent rounds. Considering how fast exhaustion can kill you in 5e, this won’t fly, not even as an enemy-only spell. Sure, it’s a doom-spell and as such affects the caster as well, but yeah. Not a fan. The spell does not specify which classes should be able to cast it.

Next up would be the Emerald Order, a cabal of wizards that serve Thoth-Hermes and deciphered the secrets within the Emerald Tablets, the members have managed to attain increased magical prowess - alas, as per the truism, power corrupts and the Emerald Order, in the time-honored tradition of secret societies, is exerting significant influence of the bodies politic in the realms wherein they have established themselves. Guided in that endeavor are they by their fully statted leader Dromdal-Re, who is one badass challenge 13 caster. The section includes the emerald shard ioun stone that can absorb 5 damage from all incoming attacks, burning out at 120 points. The cult also sports the rules for the potent artifact Emerald Tablets of Thoth-Hermes, which are presented in a rather cool manner. The chapter also provides the stats for the challenge 12 smaragdine golems. In PFRPG, this cult came with a prestige class, and personally, I think that an arcane tradition to reflect the specific tradition would have been nice to see.

The Hand of Nakresh is named for forty-fingered simian demon-god of thieves, with his lower left hand reserved for his most daring of thefts - it is this hand that gives this cult its name. The leadership of the cult is firmly in the hands of the Five Exalted, which receive full-blown statblocks herein - a kobold bomber (challenge 11), a gnoll warrior with a hyenado companion (challenge 8), a derro arcanist (challenge 12), an albino tengu cleric-like caster (challenge 9) and a roach-like (challenge 10) killer make up this illustrious party, which could pretty much be run as an opposing adventurer party, a rival group, should you choose to. There is a new spell herein, a 4th-level variant of mirror image, wherein the duplicates run in random directions if you move - I do like the concept and the spell is functional, but I would have liked to see interaction with damaging terrain - do the images running over such terrain ignore it? I assume so, but this conversely makes finding the true culprit easier. The spell also allows for the changing of positions once per casting. The magic items included feature a monkey’s paw that can provide charge-based rerolls at +10 (feels a bit odd in 5e) and a clockwork siege crab-vehicle, which is pretty damn cool.

The Servants of the White Ape would be a cult that breathes the spirit of sword and sorcery: A disenfranchised aristocrat had to escape into the jungles and stumbled upon a hidden, ruined city, Josef Kranz would have not dreamed that the carnivorous white apes haunting the ruins would one day bow to him - and bow they do, for he is the summoner that commands the Great White Ape, what in PFRPG was his eidolon. In 5e, we get a relatively smooth transition of the entity being akin to their tribal deity. Over years of study and careful planning, the mad master, now known as the New Father, has commanded the white apes in combat, subjugating all that dare oppose him and his simian slaves. Kranz and his powerful avatar of the White Ape receive statblocks (though annoyingly, you have to puzzle together the stats of the standard giant ape and that of the avatar). His simian warriors also receive stats, but that's not all - the awakened apes spread a dreaded condition, the spellscourge, which not only renders those infected into primal, degenerate and evil undead savages, but also allows them to devour magic. Yes, this pretty much could have been drawn from the pen of Rider Haggard or similar authors. The father’s staff wielded by Kranz, makes for a potent staff and we get magic item stats for white ape hide, which is potent armor that has several abilities that can be activated sans action.

There are quite a few new cults beyond these, which had so far not been released for another system: There are those, for example the Chosen of the Demon Bat, who represent, at least at first glance, the servants of Camazotz.

Led by a derro variant vampire (you’ll have to puzzle together the stats here with the MM) with explosive concoctions and a darkness-themed, with a fungus-armored giant, the cult’s elite is interesting and we even get a unique challenge 16 demon bat, Vespertilo – once a high-ranking servant of Camazotz, the mighty demon has been exiled to the material plane and an unholy alliance with the mi-go! This makes the overall feeling of the cult rather distinct. The mi-go stats are in the Tome of Beasts. The cult gets a new feat, Paincaster, which nets advantage on concentration-related Constitution checks, immunity to charmed and frightened conditions while maintaining concentration and, and when a creature ends your concentration, it suffers from disadvantage to saves versus your spells on your next turn. We also get a new hazard with fungal pods and a variant form of strange spellbook with the ebon shards, which require attunement. The cult also gets a thematically-fitting staff as well as magical lenses and there is a new swarm, a poison that renders you unconscious and a spell that calls forth bats or birds to act as spies. Two vehicles are included, the fungal flyer, which is a horribly mutated, fungified dire bat, and the skittering skiff,w hich may once have been a carrion crawler. I liked this bait and switch approach to a cult that starts as straightforward and adds a complicating twist.

The Creed of All Flesh is tied to the concept of the intelligent darakhul ghouls in Midgard and their subterranean empire…and those mortals that crave the flesh of their brethren. Considering how cool the notion of darakhul is in the first place, it should come as no surprise that I consider the darakhul-themed cult as depicted here to be rather interesting. The leadership of the cult clocks in at challenge 10, 13 and 5, respectively, and the respective features of the NPCs are smart. The execution of the respective campaign-sketch is also pretty damn creepy, so yeah, theme-wise, a resounding success as far as cannibal cults are concerned. With magical broths and jerky, a mace-like rod that can attempt to bite creatures and heal the wielder and a nasty tome, these are nice. I am particularly partial to the lavishly-illustrated ghoulsteed mount-undead. One of my favorites herein.

Speaking of the living dead: As you all probably know by now, the Red Goddess Marena would be one of my favorite deities in Midgard; in the vampire-rules principalities of Morgau and Doresh, her worship is open and serves to justify the vampiric rulers; in essence, they are a sort of anti-Catholic-church, one based on a doctrine of tainted life and suffering as a promise for an elevated existence beyond the shroud of death, though here, it is not in some afterlife, but as a reborn vampire. Combine that with elitism and the notion that the deity has elevated the worthy and we arrive at a nice blend of the, by today’s standards, somewhat disquieting concept of divine providence for rulers and vampiric themes, which have resonated through class discourse throughout the ages. Marena also has covert agents, the blood sisters, who act beyond the confines of the vampire-ruled home-bases of the cult. (As an aside: Evil blood-magic nuns are just badass…and this provides the stats of Sister Alkava, probably known from her own little adventure. We also get a variant vampire whose stats you have to puzzle together once more, the stats for the church’s Grand Inquisitor…and yes, before you ask: Marena is also a goddess of lust. Her servants thus control brothels…The cult also includes two new blood magic spells to add to the arsenal presented by the Deep Magic-series, the sanguine spear, a spear of frozen blood drawn from the dead, and the stigmata of the red goddess, which causes the caster to take damage, but also buffs – the lack of concentration required here makes the spell mechanically interesting. The incantation bloodline strike is amazing…and much to my chagrin, completely absent from the 5e-version, which is puzzling, as it represented perhaps the coolest signature move of the cult. A dagger to exsanguinate and a magic scourge complement the supplemental section. The dagger in 5e regains charges on crits, which may be spent for bonus damage or to heal. Unfortunately, the latter lacks limitations. So while you’ll be going through a ton of rats and kittens to heal yourself with it, you can – a simple type or daily limit caveat would have made this work properly. The monsters associated with the cult include the blood hound and a variant blood zombie.

Whereas the blood sisters are basically an organized orthodoxy that is, theme-wise, in line with organized religions, the sanguine path, the second blood-themed cult within, takes a wholly different route: While the connotations of sexuality and hedonism as well as blood consumption remain, that is mostly due to our cultural associations with blood and sexuality, which are inextricably linked. Anyways, the cult is focused more on a theme of hedonism and oracular power, with sacred prostitutes generating a mythological resonance with e.g. the cult of Ishtar, though such associations, ultimately, should not be taken as an indication that the cult is benevolent. It’s not. Leaders that contain vampires, red hags and blood hags should make that clear. All of the leaders require that you piece together their stats, modifying the base creatures from MM and Tome of Beasts. The bloodwhisper cauldron has been demoted to very rare item that provides some healing, foresight and miasma, but loses the wish ability from the PFRPG-version, making it a less compelling cornerstone item for the cult, and decreasing the incentives to join it. Blood strike allows for the transfer of a spell or affliction to another member of the bloodline – which is cool. Once more, no suggested class provided for the ritual. The creature-section include the Blood-bound template, which grants power, but at the price of withdrawal from the elixir that bestows these powers…

The final cult within this tome would be the weavers of truth, which may be the last cult herein, but certainly not the least: The cult is devoted to Pazuzu and basically acts as a magical think-tank of firebrands and misinformation, with deception-focused seductresses, charlatans and the batlike echo demons (challenge 6) making them a formidable cabal of adversaries that probably will need to be fought less with blades and more with roleplaying. This is in particular represented by the absolutely glorious Incantation of Lies Made Truth, which THANKFULLY has been reproduced as a proper 5e-ritual. It can make for an absolutely mind-boggling twist as, it can turn whole organizations, kingdoms or cities around, rewriting what is considered to be truth. I also absolutely adore the carriage of whispers, a hybrid magic item/vehicle that allows a passenger to influence those it passes – which can make for an amazing showdown, in which the PCs turn from celebrated heroes to outcasts, as a whole city suddenly becomes ever more hostile, but this has VAST potential in my book. This cult is by far the most inspired in the book and I am glad to report that its transition to 5e has been executed rather well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good, though somewhat inconsistent regarding the formatting of creature features. On a rules-level, there are a few questionable components herein, but as a whole, the book can be considered to be solid in that aspect. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf contains a ton of really amazing full-color artworks, though fans of Kobold Press may be familiar with some, but by far not all of the pieces. I cannot comment on the physical version of the book, since I do not own it.

Jeff Lee, with additional design by Jon Swatskyand Mike Welham, delivers one massive book of interesting cults. While I do not consider all of the cults herein winners, particularly the doomspeakers and the Shub-Niggurath cult being somewhat less interesting than they should be, I found myself enjoying this book overall. In particular the Red Sisters and the Weavers of Truth make for some truly evocative and formidable adversaries, with the unique blend of the chosen of the demon bat coming in close behind them.

The 5e-version probably has the better bang for buck ratio for you, as the conversions of the respective cults had not been previously released. The cults per se manage to, in more than one case, become rather inspiring, and considering how stat-starved 5e is regarding interesting NPC-statblocks, the pdf may be worth getting for that alone. That being said, I also consider the 5e version to be needlessly inconvenient in quite a few instances. Now, I do not object to variant NPCs per se and I adore templates and think that 5e would benefit from more of them. At the same time, I am somewhat puzzled that quite a few statblocks require that you piece together an NPC’s stat from Monster Manual/Tome of Beasts, when page-count per couldn’t have been the big issue – the 5e-book is briefer than the PFRPG-version. This requires, in short, more prep-time for the GM than what I’d consider to be necessary. All 4 leaders of the Sanguine Path, for example, need to be pieced together thus.

This inconvenience left me with a strange ambivalence regarding the book. On one hand, some of the 5e-conversions are truly inspired; a certain summoner and his white ape come to mind. At the same time, this book feels very much like a conversion in some segments. When we get no background for Selket’s Sting, when the emerald order doesn’t get its own casting tradition…and in the less impressive antipaladin chapter, which, while okay, did not exactly wow me. The supplemental material stood out most when it focused on the story, rather than combat utility or other mechanical aspects.

However, the book, as a whole, makes for a compelling reading experience, with a ton of truly cool storylines to scavenge and modify and something for pretty much all tastes inside. While not perfect, my final verdict will acknowledge the book’s intended focus and cool ideas and thus clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
von Carl C. [Verifizierter Käufer] Hinzugefügt am: 05/04/2018 16:22:50

Southlands is massive. It's "face" is made out of two well-known tropes, both in a unique "Midgard" version - Arabian Nights and Pharaonic Egypt. These are the places an explorer from the north are likely to encounter first, and they are reasonably familiar to most gamers - except that these takes are special, not just the standard rehashed. Further south are even more exotic places, likely less well known to most gamers - jungle and desert lands. Each country is detailed as a homeland, there are rules for Traits and sometimes whole races typical to the origin. The feel of these places is more sword-and-sorcery than medieval romance. Few places are good or bad, it is very much a patchwork of greys.

On one hand, this is the GM's secret world book detailing new and exotic places. On the other hand, it is the player's handbook for a new continent, with loads and loads of new character opportunities. And perhaps this is the problem with the book; it doesn't quite know who it is for.

This review is based on the PDF from the kickstarter; I've not seen the physical book yer, but it looks like it will be gorgeous. Layout is open with the right amount of space, art is gorgeous, and the maps look wonderful. It feels like the PDF format doesn't quite do them justice.

Edit: I now have the physical book and... the PDF was actually more impressive. In the PDF I can zoom in on the art and maps to see detail that gets lost in the print version. Still, the print book is gorgeous, and a good piece to casually put on your table to impress guests with - even non-gamer friends.



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Southlands Campaign Setting
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Demon Cults & Secret Societies for PFRPG
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 05/04/2018 04:01:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The PFRPG-version of the massive Demon Cults & Secret Societies book clocks in at 214 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2/3rds of a page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 209 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so I’ll actually start the review of this book by covering the final chapter first – in it, we discuss the antipaladin class in a way that is actually helpful – we begin with a brief summary of how to handle the fall from being a paladin to becoming an anitpaladin – as the book astutely observes, the personality structure of the paladin is, paradoxically, closer to its evil mirror than e.g. a regular or more moderate foot soldier would be to becoming a champion of darkness. This goes two ways, though, and similarly, an antipaladin’s road to redemption, though significantly less often depicted in gaming (in fact, I couldn’t name one example at the top of my hat), is definitely one that deserves consideration. We also discuss perhaps one of the most underutilized class features EVER, namely plague bringer. While theoretically interesting and wide open, the lack of clarification of how disease vectors spread has left this ability somewhat hamstrung in the eyes of many players and GMs, also courtesy of the general design and rules-paradigms of PFRPG. As such, this section provides some clarification for spreading pestilence without slowing the game unduly. The pdf also provides an array of new antipaladin cruelties. These include scaling bleed damage, dropping anything carried in the hands or spellcasting hampering…and, e.g., forgetting the last round. At higher levels, we get halted fast healing/regeneration, temporarily phasing out of existence or losing ALL energy resistance and DR, all SR, being temporarily petrified…or, at 18th level, dying if the target has less than 100 hp. There are some problems here, namely the clear codification of offense-options. The spellcasting hampering option, for example, is flavor-wise clearly a pain effect, but is not classified as such. The kill-if-below-100-hp cruelty should definitely be a death effect and as such, preventable. Petrification should be classified as a transmutation effect…you get the idea. It’s not that the cruelties are bad, it’s just that their interactions with defensive tricks RAW bypass immunities and defenses they should not bypass.

The pdf also contains a total of 8 different antipaladin archetypes: The Bloodwarg replaces spellcasting and the derived ability to use spell-trigger and spell-completion items, with wild shape. Fury knights follow the same design-paradigm, but get rage at -3 class levels instead. The Deathbolt Master replaces touch of corruption with a 30 ft.-range ranged touch attack that may deal damage or heal undead, but pays for this flexibility with decreased damage – only 1 per class level. The goremaster does not add Cha-mod to atk when smiting, but instead inflicts + Cha-mod as bleed damage when smiting. They are locked into the new bleed damage-causing cruelty, and their channel energy is based on d4s instead, but also inflicts minor bleed damage. When casting a spell classified as Blood Magic, as per the Deep Magic book, they increase their CL by 2 and the DC by 1. At 8th level, targets within 10 ft. take +50% bleed damage; this excess bleed damage is gained as temporary hit points, replacing aura of despair.

Knights of hellfire are LE and replace fiendish boon with scaling, modified summon monster SPs, usable Cha-mod times per day. Thankfully, only one such effect may be in effect at any given time, preventing annoying battle-field flooding. Aura of despair is replaced with darkvision and poison immunity and 9th level’s cruelty is replaced with acid and cold resistance 5, fire resistance 10. 11th level yields perfect sight in any darkness and telepathy with a range of 100 ft., replacing aura of vengeance. 15th level provides immunity to fire as well as acid and cold resistance 10 and his attacks count as lawful and evil instead of the usual cruelty. 20th level provides a devil apotheosis. The knight of many eyes, in contrast, would be an antipaladin devoted to the squirming things from the dark tapestry. Instead of fiendish boon, we get a tentacle attack (alas, not codified re primary/secondary, requiring defaulting) and eyes that prevent flaking, darkvision as well as a scaling chance of ignoring critical hits and precision damage from sneak attacks. Minor complaint regarding formatting: Reference to armor special abilities have not been properly italicized in the abilities. Higher levels add grab to the tentacles and add more tentacles gained. The capstone, unsurprisingly, would be an aberration apotheosis. The third knight-based archetype is basically a palette-swapped knight of hellfire: The knight of the abyss is, design-paradigm-wise, akin to its infernal brethren, just replaces the minor, defensive abilities gained with ones that are more in line with a demonic leitmotif.

Finally, the plaguebearer gets Heal as a class skill, is locked into the plague cruelty at 3rd level and at 5th level, replaces fiendish boon with an upgrade to the disease DC as well as immediate onset, making it more immediately useful in combat. Instead of aura of despair, the archetype gains the new Corrupting Smite feat, which adds a free cruelty to the first attack that hits and is executed against a target of your smite, with a Fort-save DC based on class level and Cha to negate. 11th level replaces aura of vengeance with another new feat, namely Channeled Cruelty. This feat nets you the ability to channel at half damage, but add a cruelty to the effect, with successful saves negating the channel altogether. 14th level replaces aura of sin with a +2 insight bonus to atk and damage versus diseased targets and 17th level nets DR 5/good as well as a penalty to saves versus diseases for nearby targets. The capstone yields further DR-increase as well as the option to afflict targets of smite with all plagues; same goes for channel, but at no damage instead. I like the theme of this fellow, but considering the amount of creatures immune to disease, it would have made sense to have some option to at least temporarily negate that.

The chapter also contains 7 spells, which include asking a spirit questions by delaying its departure from this plane, a charm person variant that only works against those affected by a fear-condition (including a mass version) and there is a death knell variant that also conjures forth a cockroach swarm. One spell sickens a target that is wounded sans save (and, as a litany spell, it can’t be combo’d with other litanies). There is a spell that temporarily lets a target detect as evil for the purposes of spell interactions sans forcing alignment changes and there is a better coup-de-grace type of spell that nets temporary access to 1 spell or SP with a casting time of 1 standard action or less of the deceased target. Personally, I think the spell should have a cap on the HD of the creature it can affect.

The pdf also provides an array of feats for antipaladins beyond those I already covered above. One nets the option to make a touch of corruption-based short-range aura, one imposes a -4 penalty to saves versus the antipaladin’s spells and SPs to targets of smite. Interesting: Use two uses of smite good to smite an evil target as though good – makes sense to me. High level double-cruelty inflicting also makes sense, And there is an option to expand auras as well as a +2 DC increase for cruelties. Now, Fast Corruption is a feat I would not allow in all my games, as it allows the antipaladin to execute touch of corruption as a regular attack, which makes the class feature behave rather nova-like. I liked the Misleading Aura, which fortifies against detection. Two feats allow for the combination of touch of corruption and cruelties with unarmed attacks. Finally, there would be Personal Sacrifice, which is pretty potent, as it allows you to accept 2 points of burn to use smite good/evil sans expending a daily use. Similarly, touch of corruption or lay on hands may be sued for 1 point of burn sans expending a use. The feat does have a problem regarding its rules-interactions: The kineticist’s burn is governed by CHARACTER level, whereas the feat erroneously references CLASS level. That should definitely be character level, otherwise the whole burn engine becomes wonky.

The chapter closes with a CR 7 and CR 14 sample antipaladin.

Okay, so this concludes the antipaladin appendix of sorts, so let’s dive into the respective cults, shall we? Now, organization-wise, each of the cults comes with detailed write-up of its basics regarding organization and goals and the respective leaders are depicted as fully realized NPCs, often with gorgeous artworks. Beyond the named NPC movers and shakers, each of the cult-write ups also features stats for rank and file members of the cult, monsters, if applicable, as well as supplemental material, which depends on the respective cult, but generally represents crunchy bits. Now, as these rules-relevant supplemental materials are clearly intended for use by the antagonists of the PCs, I will judge them as such. Now, if I were to just list each individual statblock herein, we’d bloat this review beyond any immediate usefulness, so I’m taking the broad view here. It should also be mentioned that each of the cults comes with a suggested campaign/adventure-sequence outline of sorts, allowing you to plan the involvement of the cult as appropriate to the APL of your party. These outlines deserve special mention, as they’re often rather creative and interesting – and they make the GM’s job easier, so kudos there. It should be noted, though, that these are OUTLINES, not fully realized encounters or campaign plots – they are a suggested skeleton of a plot that you can weave into your game.

It should be noted that none of the cults make use of the fame/reputation-mechanics, as they are intended as antagonistic organizations and not as cults for the PCs to join. Fans of Midgard will appreciate the tie-ins of lore for the respective cult entries to the lore of the evocative setting, and, indeed, while the cults can be used in pretty much every setting, they benefit greatly from the tie-ins with Kobold Press’ cult fantasy setting. That being said, some of the cults with deeper ties to Midgard instead come with notes to use them in other settings, which will be appreciated by quite a few readers.

All right, got that? As the following pertains some SPOILERS regarding the nature of the cults in question and their themes and arsenals, I strongly suggest that players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The first cult would be a classic of sorts for many gamers – the Black Goat’s Flock is classic Cthulhiana, depicting a cult of good ole’ Shub-Niggurath, as seen through the lens of Midgard’s brand of dark fantasy: the cult attempts to reassemble the Veridian Codex, an attempt codified, rules-wise, the fully statted spellbook of one of the movers and shakers of the cult. The cult comes with 3 spells, the first of which would be the curse of formless shape, which makes you amorphous and socially not acceptable, hampers movement and prevents holding items etc.; Morphic flux is a high-level buff that fortifies against crits etc., grants all-around vision and nets you a slam. Selfish wish is basically an 8th level, evil wish variant that is twisted – something that many a campaign does with regular wishes, but oh well. The cult also gets two decent, if unspectacular items – a defensive cloak and a gore-granting mask. The new monster would be the CR 12 flame-scourged scion, basically a fire-scorched dark young. The most interesting component here would be two leaders, an androgynous fey from beyond the stars and a super-potent goblin cleric.

The next cult would be the first of an array of cults that depict a heresy of an established religion, which may require a bit more fiddling when using non-Midgardian campaigns, here a heresy of the god Baal-Hotep, deity of dragons and fire. The burning rune cult is led by one Ust-Ziyad, a potent CR 13 oracle and makes use of Midgard’s rune magic. The most interesting components here would be the Altar Flame Golem at CR 12, the new brenna-Þurfa rune and the ability to create timed scorch-bombs, which allows the GM to create some nasty death traps and evoke, through a fantasy lens, some modern anxieties pertaining our own safety in an age of globalized threats and urban guerilla warfare.

While we’re on the topic of heresies, let’s talk about the other cults that can be roughly summarized under this moniker. The first of these would be the Night Cauldron of Chernobog, which, when summed up, can be thought of as radical adherents to darkness, with the ultimate goal of bringing the eternal night. With winter hags and a potent alchemist at the top of their food chain, their methodology does differ significantly from e.g. the burning rune – something that also holds true for the third heresy in the book, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The rank and file members also deserve special mention here, making interesting use of the vast array of NPC-races. As far as supplemental material is concerned, we get a poison that causes both blindness and Wisdom damage and a spell that “…if it gained the phantasmal creature template (Midgard Bestiary) at 50% real.” Yeah, that’s not how this is usually worded; flipping up my Midgard Bestiary, the reason becomes pretty apparent: The template distinguished between different degrees of reality. Still, the spell proceeds to talk about “effectiveness” and non-rules-language entities, instead of concisely summing up the benefits of the template. RAW, this is not functional and really wonky to implement. The new items include a darkness-causing lamp (Seen those before. Often.) and an interesting dirk that renders the target incorporeal as well as potentially staggered, which can be rather intriguing. The write-up also includes a minor artifact, the bituminous orb, which fortifies against positive energy, and which may cause enervation as well as a 1/day Str-draining buff to CMB and CMD. Once more, the rules-language here isn’t perfect. On the plus-side, we do get a cool occult ritual that represents the followers undergoing a transformation into beings more aligned with shadow. I really liked that one. The CR 6 contaminant shade is a more devious take on the shadow, which I found myself enjoying.

The third heresy of sorts would be one that should be familiar to fans of Midgard in PFRPG – Selket’s Sting. Now, the thing that sets this heresy apart from the previous ones would be pretty obvious – the cult is presented in a manner, where the PCs may actually be servants of the cult. It adheres to a quasi-Egyptian leitmotif and represents basically a religious secret police that executes those that violate Selket’s divine mandate. Now, I have already covered this cult in my review of the Demon Cults-series installment, originally released as stand-alone pdfs to supplement the massive Southlands book.

In fact, this book, apart from its new content, acts as a compilation of sorts for the previously-released PFRPG-Demon Cults-series. This means that the Sword & Sorcery-themed cabal dubbed the Emerald Order of Thoth-Hermes, the somewhat generic order of antipaladins called Doomspeakers and the cool, highly uncommon crime-syndicate Hand of Nakresh can be found herein. Similarly, the Servants of the White Ape under the command of their potent summoner overlord can be found within the pages of this tome. Since I have already covered all of these in excruciating detail, I’ll just point you towards these reviews instead for the details – just click on the “Demon Cults”-tag on my homepage, and you’ll have them all conveniently listed.

There are quite a few new cults beyond these, those – for example, the Chosen of the Demon Bat, who represent, at least at first glance, the servants of Camazotz. Led by a derro alchemist and a masked oracle, with an advanced fungal cave giant, the cult’s elite is interesting and we even get a unique CR 18 demon bat, Vespertillo – once a high-ranking servant of Camazotz, the mighty demon has been exiled to the material plane and an unholy alliance with the mi-go! This makes the overall feeling of the cult rather distinct. The cult gets a decent, if somewhat unremarkable feat that nets a bonus to concentration when injured while casting. We also get a new hazard with fungal pods and a variant form of strange spellbook with the ebon shards. The cult also gets a thematically-fitting staff as well as magical lenses and there is a new swarm, a poison that renders you unconscious and a spell that calls forth bats or birds to act as spies. Two vehicles are included, the fungal flyer and skittering skiff. I liked this bait and switch approach to a cult that starts as straightforward and adds a complicating twist.

The Creed of All Flesh is tied to the concept of the intelligent darakhul ghouls in Midgard and their subterranean empire…and those mrtals that crave the flesh of their brethren. Considering how cool the notion of darakhul is in the first place, it should come as no surprise that I consider the darakhul-themed cult as depicted here and interesting. On a mechanical perspective, I liked the notion of a DR that can either be bypassed by magic or while in daylight, and the options previously presented in Midgard supplements that are copiously used in the NPC builds help to set them apart. The execution of the respective campaign-sketch is also pretty damn creepy, so yeah, theme-wise, a resounding success as far as cannibal cults are concerned. With magical broths and jerky, a mace-like rod that can attempt to swallow and bite creatures and a nasty tome, these are nice. I am particularly partial to the lavishly-illustrated Greater Festrog mount-undead. One of my favorites herein.

Speaking of the living dead: As you all probably know by now, the Red Goddess Marena would be one of my favorite deities in Midgard; in the vampire-rules principalities of Morgau and Doresh, her worship is open and serves to justify the vampiric rulers; in essence, they are a sort of anti-Catholic-church, one based on a doctrine of tainted life and suffering as a promise for an elevated existence beyond the shroud of death, though here, it is not in some afterlife, but as a reborn vampire. Combine that with elitism and the notion that the deity has elevated the worthy and we arrive at a nice blend of the, by today’s standards, concept of divine providence for rulers and vampiric themes. Marena also has covert agents, the blood sisters, who act beyond the confines of the vampire-ruled home-bases of the cult. (As an aside: Evil blood-magic nuns are just badass…and with the stats herein, you can use Kobold Press’ “Blood Vaults of Sister Alkava” with minimal fuss – the stats of the sister are included herein, alongside a potent vampire mesmerist, the stats for the church’s Grand Inquisitor…and yes, before you ask: Marena is also a goddess of lust. Her servants thus control brothels…The cult also includes two new blood magic spells to add to the arsenal presented by Deep Magic, the sanguine spear, a spear of frozen blood drawn from the dead, and the stigmata of the red goddess, which causes bleed to the caster, but also buffs. The incantation bloodline strike is amazing: Capture a target of a bloodline and make it thus a conduit to target other members of it. Classic and well executed. An dagger to exsanguinate and a magic scourge complement the supplemental section. The monsters associated with the cult include the blood familiar and blood zombie templates as well as the blood pudding creature.

Whereas the blood sisters are basically an organized orthodoxy that is, theme-wise, in line with organized religions, the sanguine path, the second blood-themed cult within, takes a wholly different route: While the connotations of sexuality and hedonism as well as blood consumption remain, that is mostly due to our cultural associations with blood and sexuality, which are inextricably linked. Anyways, the cult is focused more on a theme of hedonism and oracular power, with sacred prostitutes generating a mythological resonance with e.g. the cult of Ishtar, though such associations, ultimately, should not be taken as an indication that the cult is benevolent. It’s not. Leaders that contain vampires, red hags and blood hags should make that clear. There are two feats to supplement the cult, which are both highly specific and focused on enhancing blood-based divinations, which makes them less useful for PCs. The bloodwhisper cauldron is an artifact that provides some spells and which can 1/year generate a wish (not italicized in the book). Blood strike allows for the transfer of a spell or affliction to another member of the bloodline. The creatures include the Blood-bound template, which grants power, but at the price of withdrawal from the elixir that bestows these powers…

The final cult within this tome would be the weavers of truth, which may be the last cult herein, but certainly not the least: The cult is devoted to Pazuzu and basically acts as a magical think-tank of firebrands and misinformation, with deception-focused clerics, charlatans and the batlike echo demons making them a formidable cabal of adversaries that probably will need to be fought less with blades and more with roleplaying. This is in particular represented by the absolutely glorious Incantation of Lies Made Truth, which can make for an absolutely mind-boggling twist as an occult ritual. I also absolutely adore the carriage of whispers, a hybrid magic item/vehicle that allows a passenger to influence those it passes – which can make for an amazing showdown, in which the PCs turn from celebrated heroes to outcasts, as a whole city suddenly becomes ever more hostile, but this has VAST potential in my book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal and rules-language level are very good, if not perfect: I noticed a couple of formal glitches, missed italicizations etc. as well as a few components where the rules-language could have been tighter. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf contains a ton of really amazing full-color artworks, though fans of Kobold Press may be familiar with some, but by far not all of the pieces. I cannot comment on the physical version of the book, since I do not own it.

Jeff Lee, with additional design by Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham, delivers one massive book of interesting cults. While I do not consider all of the cults herein winners, particularly the doomspeakers and the Shub-Niggurath cult being somewhat less interesting than they should be, I found myself enjoying this book overall. In particular the Red Sisters and the Weavers of Truth make for some truly evocative and formidable adversaries, with the unique blend of the chosen of the demon bat coming in close behind them. I also found myself inspired by the cultists of the burning rune and my take on the old cults and new ones should by now be pretty apparent. In short: This is per se a very good book regarding its ideas and the plentiful statblocks for NPCs and monsters add further value for the GM. That being said, the rules-components beyond these left me less impressed. The antipaladin chapter, while okay, did not exactly wow me and the supplemental material stood out most when it focused on the story, rather than combat utility – the rituals and incantations are infinitely more interesting than the regular spells and items. In the mechanical aspect beyond NPCs/monsters, I’d consider this to be a 3.5 – 4-file, at best.

However, the book, as a whole, makes for a compelling reading experience, with a ton of truly cool storylines to scavenge and modify and something for pretty much all tastes inside. While not perfect, my final verdict will acknowledge the book’s intended focus and cool ideas and thus clock in at 4.5 stars, though I can’t round up from that verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.



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New Paths Compendium - Expanded Edition (Pathfinder RPG)
von Thilo G. [Häufiger Rezensent] Hinzugefügt am: 04/30/2018 04:29:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive, crunchy hardcover clocks in at 170 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 161 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving the limited edition print version of this book. My review is mainly based on this version, though I have also contacted the pdf to ascertain the functionality of that version. It was also requested as a priority review.

Now, first of all: This review is a HUGE monster, intended to help you ascertain for yourself the content.

Wait, didn’t I already review the New Paths Compendium? Well yeah, I did. I also covered all previously released installments of the New Paths-series released since then and analyzed them in depth. However, this book not only represents a sort of final version for them, it also contains new content. Plus, Pathfinder has changed, often quite significantly, since the release of the initial releases, so revisiting the material and analyzing how it holds up will be one of the goals here. Now, I cannot go into the really deep level of detail for a book of this size sans bloating the review beyond any usefulness – I will focus more on the big components, i.e. on the classes and supplemental material that make up the majority of the book.

All right, so we begin with no less than 12 different new base classes. The first of these that I’d like to cover would be an oldie-but-goldie, the spell-less ranger. The spell-less ranger gets full BAB, d10 HD, 6+Int skills per level, good Fort- and Ref-saves, up to 5 favored enemies, up to 4 favored terrains and additionally stealth attack which is a terrain/favored enemy-based, weaker variant of sneak attack that is gained at 2nd level and scales up to +5d6, increasing by +1d6 every 4 levels thereafter. Hunter’s bond with allies or companion (from a limited list) is chosen at 4th level. Staples like track and wild empathy at 1st, combat style at 2nd level and endurance at 3rd level are provided. 5th level and 12th increase base movement rate in favored terrain by +10 ft. each and 7th level nets woodland stride, 8th swift tracker and 9th evasion. Quarry is gained at 11th level, camouflage at 12th, improved evasion at 16th, hide in plain sight at 17th and improved quarry at 19th level. The capstone nets full-speed following tracks as well as a standard action attack versus favored enemies that prompts a save-or-die. The death strike ability component may be used 1/day versus each favored enemy, but not more than once per target – this is important, since there may be overlaps. The class gets some unique tricks as well, with 3rd level providing the means to use Heal for expanded, medicinal purposes, and the class gets further customization tricks in the guise of ranger talents at 4th, 7th, 9th,11th,13th, 16th and 19th level. These include low-light vision, combat feats, treating difficult terrain in favored terrain as normal, +4 to confirmation rolls to confirm critical hits, ignoring concealment with a standard action ranged attack or gaining an additional animal companion. These are potent, but they have to be to make up for the loss of spellcasting.

The spell-less ranger features 3 archetypes: Companion-bound rangers do not suffer from the restrictions regarding companion choices of the regular spell-less ranger. However, to make up for this, the spell-less ranger only gets a single favored terrain, which limits the usefulness of some of the more potent talents and stealth attack. To avoid cheesing the better companion selection, the talent that nets an additional companion is expressively prohibited for the archetype. Instead of woodland stride, we get feat-based companion-enhancement and quarry and its improved version is modified to apply to the companion as well. Empathic link is gained at 12th level, The dual-style ranger only gets a single favored enemy, but gains, surprise, two styles. The shadow stalker replaces favored enemy with studied target and may combine it with stealth attack as an immediate action. Instead of wild empathy, we get poison use. 7th level replaces woodland stride with the option to study a target as a full-round action and then follow the studying with a potentially deadly attack, assassin style. This is very potent and may not be for all campaigns, as it makes the game a bit grittier and works well in a more savage/brutal type of fantasy. The reason why I’m not up in arms regarding this ability is that is it kept in check by only being able to target a given character 1/day – after that, it’s 24 hours immune to the attack. As an aside: This archetype makes for a really good solo-play class.

One of the other classes presented herein is very much akin to the spell-less ranger, to the point where it can be considered to be a variant class of it. This would be the skin-changer. The skin-changer begins play with minor animal shape, which duplicates beast shape I, usable as a standard action and lasting 10 minutes per class level. This upgrades at 4th level and unlocks new size categories at 6th and 8th level, with 6th level and every 2 levels thereafter yielding an additional daily use. 10th level unlocks healing whenever forms are changed, which similarly scales, and 12th level nets DR in animal form. Changing action economy also improves. 3rd level nets speak with animals at-will in favored terrain, and 2nd level nets animal combat, which translates to bonuses for natural attacks and damage, as well as initiative in animal form. These improve, and over the levels, the natural attacks also count as progressively better for bypassing DR, with 8th level yielding Critical Focus, 11th Bleeding Critical and 14th Improved Natural Attack. The class gets 4 favored terrains and stealth attack is gained at 6th level at +2d6, improving by +1d6 for every 4 levels thereafter. No hunter’s bond is gained and 15th level nets +3 natural armor in animal form, which increases by +2 at 17th and 19th level. It should also be noted that the capstone’s death attack is not tied to creature type, but is contingent on favored terrain and comes with a hard cap of 3/day. This is perhaps the easiest to use shifter-style class I know – it has merit in that regard. However, at the same time, I think that Interjection Games’ Animist and Everyman Gaming’s Shapechanger (from Paranormal Adventures) are the more interesting classes, though both require a higher degree of system mastery. If you’re looking for a no-frills shapechanger, though, then this fellow still holds up.

The spell-less ranger was a resounding success when it was first released, and it remains so to this date – the class is fun, straightforward and easy to grasp, and the archetypes and their exchanges are meaningful engine-tweaks. The class is fun and well-made and remains a true classic.

While we’re on the subject of nature-themed classes, let us talk about the shaman, now renamed spirit shaman following the release of Paizo’s ACG-class. The shaman is basically the oracle-like spontaneous caster variant to the prepared druid. The spirit shaman offers d8 HD, 4+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, proficiency in light and medium armor and shields, but only non-metal ones and full spontaneous spellcasting from the druid's spell-list, governed by Charisma. The usual alignment-opposite restrictions apply and the class begins play with wild empathy as well as +2 to Knowledge (nature) and Heal. 2nd level nets woodland stride and 4th level provides wild shape, with elemental and plant shapes added at higher levels.

Important and more fun that one gets first: 3rd level nets shaman’s touch, which may be used Cha-mod times per day and duplicates scaling healing spells/dealing damage to the undead. 9th level provides spirit dance, which is basically a 3-round means to ritualistically modify spellcasting to improve the spellcasting for higher DCs and later, free metamagic addition (with a cap to prevent abuse) and better penetration of SR. 13th level nets class level rounds in spirit form, as per ethereal jaunt, with 17th level astral projection may be undertaken, with the added benefit of potentially providing legend lore benefits, representing a vision quest of sorts. The spirit shaman also gets totem spells depending on totem chosen. The spirit shaman also chooses a totem secret at 1st level, 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, allowing the class to e.g. spend time doing haruspex to see into the future,, become invisible, conjure forth protective spirits, etc. Nice: These scale and improve and include a super-potent trance that nets a massive +20 bonus to an Intelligence-based skill check. Seeing the incorporeal, better damage versus the incorporeal, etc. – these are nice. Now I am not a big fan of ability score substitution, so using Charisma instead or Dexterity for AC, Reflex-saves, etc. isn’t something I’m too keen on. Then again, that is my own bias and not something I’d penalize the pdf for. The capstone, however, is slightly problematic, as it renders the character functionally immortal in a way: After 7 days, the character returns from life as per true resurrection. The spirit shaman also gets infinite spirit dance uses.

Now, the class also gets a spirit guide, which is basically a modified form of animal companion that can deliver touch spells, act to deliver touch spells and become incorporeal at higher levels. The pdf contains 17 different sample companion stats, all with totem spells noted. Archetype-wise, we get 3 archetypes, the first of which would be the elemental shaman, who gets an elemental companion, which is clearly intended to replace the regular spirit guide, but doesn’t say so in a little oversight. Instead of woodland step, we get Elemental Spell as a bonus feat as well as a +2 increase to the DC of spells with element-related descriptors. Wild shape is relegated to 6th level and focus on elemental body improvement. The archetype sports companion stats, complete with totem spells, for the 4 classic elements. The second archetype is the primal shifter, who gets diminished spellcasting, but heals a bit of damage whenever the primal shifter changes form via his wild shape. The dance-mechanic is similarly changed, instead focusing on enhancement of physical and combat capacities. The third archetype is the witch doctor, who gets healing-themed bonus spells. These fellows replace wild empathy with spirit sense and replace woodland stride with Brew Potion. The archetype can use shaman’s touch class level + Cha-mod times per day, but at the cost of diminished wild shape capacity.

The spirit shaman is another class that holds up really well to this date – the spontaneous, very druid-y spirit guide/spirit shaman-trope is well-executed here and has seen quite a lot of use in my games. The class is easy to grasp, tight and neat. As a nitpick, I noticed one instance where the original “shaman”, sans the “spirit” remained, but this is an utter non-entity of an oversight here, as the context is readily evident.

While we’re on the subject of spirits and related mysticism, let’s talk a bit about a relatively recent addition to the product-line, let’s talk about the White Necromancer. White Necromancers get d6 HD, must be non-evil, get 2 + Int skills per level, as well as proficiency with simple weapons (no armors and shields - arcane spell failure), 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves as well as full spellcasting of up to 9th level. Spellcasting is handled via Charisma and thus is spontaneous. The class gets Eschew Materials at first level and surprisingly, is not banned from casting evil necromancy spells, but the respective spells use two slots when being cast - interesting balancing there! This restriction is btw. removed at 4th level.

They also add their Wisdom-modifier to all Knowledge (religion)-checks pertaining death and the undead, burial rites etc. and receive +1/2 class level (minimum +1) to Heal skill checks. As low-level signature ability at 1st level, they also get the option to Rebuke Death as a standard action, which translates to healing living creatures by touching them for 1d4+1 per two class levels, usable 3+Cha-mod times per day. Nice...at least at low levels. At higher levels, a more rapid scaling of healing would very much be in order to make the class retain viability as a healer.

At 3rd level, the class may also Turn Undead 1 + Charisma-modifier times per day and the class is treated as having channel energy, but ONLY for the purpose of turning the undead. Adding on further channeling feats is also mentioned and covered regarding ability-interactions. The 4th level provides the ability that lends the class its name – white necromancy. Undead creation-spells cast by the White Necromancer no longer count as evil and the resulting undead are free-willed, if intelligent, and of the same alignment as the White Necromancer - and as a crucial difference to regular undead: They are not slaves. To make them perform a task (even mindless ones), requires a Diplomacy-check on behalf of the White Necromancer - and while I can hear some groans, I do think that's valid - interrupting someone's eternal rest should be no laughing matter and require some finesse. Intelligent undead have a friendly disposition towards the white necromancer, and as such checks to request tasks receive a +2 bonus.

At 5th level, the class gets perhaps one of its most iconic abilities with Life Bond, a supernatural ability. As a standard action, the White Necromancer may create a bond between her and one living creature within 90 ft. Each round at the White Necromancer's turn, each bonded creature (of which the White Necromancer may have up to her class level active at once) is healed by 5 hp if they've been damaged for more than 5 hp below their maximum hp, while the white necromancer siphons her life into them. Now this ability seems weaker on paper than in play - the tactical options it offers are significant and beyond that, the ability mirrors well the duality between life and death as well as lending itself to great potential for heroic sacrifice: We've all been there, the villain is almost vanquished, but it becomes readily apparent that she/he/it will take on PC down with it - with a solemn smile, the white necromancer can now make the conscious decision to give his/her life to give the PCs just that edge to survive. Any number of bonds may be ended as an immediate action, btw. This component of the engine is further enhanced at 7th level, with necrotic transfer, when the white necromancer may sacrifice up to 10+Constitution-score (NOT modifier!!)+class level hit points and transfer them via touch to an ally.

7th level nets speak with the dead for class level rounds, with 9th level and every 2 levels thereafter yielding a cumulative -2 penalty to resist the ability. 9th level also provides lifesight 10 ft., which increases by 10 ft. at 13th level and every 4 levels thereafter. At 11th level, damage-dealing skeletal arms erupting from the ground make for a more macabre form of attack in a 20 ft.-burst, with scaling, properly codified damage and a Ref-save to halve. An additional daily use is gained every 4 levels after 11th. 13th level provides the option to turn incorporeal for a limited number of rounds each day, and at 15th level, the class adds +1/2 class level as a morale bonus to all saves vs. death effects and gets a save, even when such an effect would usually not provide for one. It would be nice to know the DC for non-spell-based death effects, though. Starting at 17th level, the white necromancer can temporarily emit an aura that nets immunity to death effects, energy drain, negative levels, etc. The capstone, unsurprisingly, offers immunity to death effects. The character can also be no longer reduced below 1 by ability score damage/drain and may 1/day cast power word kill, affecting up to 150 hp worth of targets. The white necromancer may also nice per round cast bleed/stabilize as a free action. It should be noted that, RAW, the white necromancer has a unique spell-list, though expanding it should prove o be relatively simple.

As before, we get three archetypes: The grave warden replaces the low level healing touch with 3 + Charisma modifier sanctify corpse, with 10th level allowing the archetype to make it permanent 1/day. Instead of the Turn Undead-angle, the grave warden gets channel energy, but only to damage undead. At 20th level, this ignores channel resistance, if any. Life bond is replaces with detect evil, detect undead, hide from undead, which may be cast a total of 3 + Charisma modifier times per day as a SP. The other transference ability nets a scaling skill boost versus the undead. At 17th level, we get a potent defense-buff aura that can also be empowered by channel energy uses to destroy undead that dare enter it, thankfully with a caveat that makes undead with twice as many HD as the grave warden immune. In essence, this one loses the healer angle and instead focuses on undead destruction. The second one would be the grave bound, who loses the high level protective aura in favor of cold resistance 10, DR 5/- and +4 t saves vs. spells and SPs cast by undead. Unintelligent undead also no longer notice the grave bound unless attacked by him. Life bond, a pretty important ability, is exchanged for an undead companion. These companions share the same basic advancement table and increase in power at 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th level, gaining new abilities depending on their type. There is a complaint here regarding their base stats, though: The zombie, for example, has AC 16, with only +2 natural noted in the brackets. The ghost’s starting AC is 17, but ability-score-wise, should be 15. Some of the ACs note the constituent bonuses, some don’t. This is an inconsistency that could have been caught here. 6 different companions are provided.

Finally, the necrotic healer get better healing touch and a couple of bonus spells and may take negative conditions of others, taken from a fixed list, to suffer for them – RAW, the condition must be suffered for 1d3 rounds or its original duration, whichever is lower. I have an issue with this, as it can be applied to permanent conditions. Instead of communion with the dead, we get enhanced healing (as if Empower Spell’d). 9th level allows for the absorption of wounds/effects that allies suffer from as an immediate action (limited daily uses) and the high-level protective aura is enhanced by lasting + Charisma modifier rounds.

I really like the white necromancer. I still do. At the same time, I like it less than I should. I don’t know, I find myself wishing it had a couple more unique tricks up its sleeve, a bloodline-like component or something like that with different paths for final death, retribution, etc. With the focus on life/self-sacrifice/etc., a kind of buffer/shield-engine would have made sense as well – if you roll HD and roll badly, you’ll be in pain – I definitely suggest contemplating Constitution as highest or second highest ability score. Still, it’s a good class and I stand by my original verdict of 4.5 stars for it, even though grave-bound clearly is the strongest archetype, losing not enough for the power the companion grants. Flavor-wise, the martyr-style scholar of death is nice and easy to grasp and play.

While we’re on the subject of full casters and the like, let’s move on to the priest-class. The priest class receives d6 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency in only simple weapons. The class begins play with an aura as per the cleric's default and bonus languages include the respective languages of the alignment-related outer planes. Similarly, the restrictions we know regarding opposed alignment spells still apply. A priest draws her spells from the cleric spell list and must prepare them in advance; however, they are not expended upon being cast, instead consuming a spell slot available. The governing spellcasting attribute for the priest would be Wisdom and the priest begins with 1 + 1 spells of first level prepared, +4 orisons. Obviously, as a full caster, she progresses to learn up to 9th level spells and the maximum spells per day per spell level clock in at unmodified 4, with prepared spells capping at 4 + 2 per spell level.

The plusses in the spells known list refer obviously to the domain spells; a priest selects a total of 3 domains from her deity and she gains all of the domain powers and bonus spells of the chosen domains. The priest's spellcasting is also tied to her holy symbol, with which she shares a sacred bond - much like an arcane bond, casting without it becomes problematic, but here's the kicker: The priest may use the holy (or unholy) symbol to cast single-target (excluding mass/communal versions) cure or inflict spells as though they had a range of close instead of touch - which is a huge boon. Back in 3.X literally EVERY cleric in my games had the feat to do just that.

The priest also receives access to channel energy at 2nd level, improving every 3 levels after 2nd by +1d6, though the ability is governed by Wisdom for the class, making it less multiple-attribute-dependent (MAD). 7th level optionally decreases activation action to a move action, at 14th level it may even be executed as a swift action. Since the ability has no per-round cap, that makes channel pretty nova-like and can allow the priest to channel thrice in a round. Yeah, that is problematic and was one of the aspects of the class that should have been addressed for the compilation. 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus feat from a nice selection of mostly channel-themed feats, and, as a capstone, the class becomes immune to death attacks and negative levels and may never be reduced below 1 in any ability score. Additionally, the priest remains alive until twice negative Constitution score in hit points is exceeded.

The customization options of the class include so-called divine gifts, which can be used 1/day as a swift action. 10 such gifts are provided and all are available - you don't have to choose. The priest may use the ability, as mentioned, 1/day, but may use it +1/day for every 3 levels beyond first. If a gift enhances a spell, it may only enhance cleric spells and only one gift may enhance each spell. The gifts include CL and DC-increases of the next spell cast, invisibility (that scales up to greater invisibility at 7th level), metamagic enhancements, immediate action rerolls, wings at 5th level, Ac and save bonuses with DR and SR or bursts of raw, damaging divine power...or, well, spell-swapping.

The book provides two archetypes for the priest, the first of which would be the chosen of nature, who gets a modified class skill list and draws spells from the druid spell list. Instead of channel energy, we get nature shape, a variant of wild shape at 2nd level. The ability counts as wild shape for ability interactions and comes with Natural Spell baked into it, but only duplicates increasingly more potent beast shape spells, capping at VI, and unlocks plant shapes at half the value of the beast shapes –i.e. upon unlocking beast shape IV, plant shape II is unlocked. Daily uses increase on a total basis. 6th level’s bonus feat is replaced with constant speak with animals/plants, and the bonus feat of 12th level instead allows the archetype to optionally activate nature shape as a move action. The bonus feat at 18th level is replaced with 1/day foresight, only usable in a natural environment. The second archetype would be the guarded priest, who gets a slightly modified spell list to account for the fact that divine gift is replaced with an unchained summoner’s eidolon that must take the agathion, angel, archon, azata, daemon, demon or devil base evolution. The eidolon may also choose a new 3-point evolution, namely smite evil or good, depending on alignment, using its own Charisma and HD to calculate effects. The evolution may be taken more often to grant additional daily uses.

The priest was and still is a class I always wanted – a full, divine caster that is not a front-line combatant. The issue here is that the cleric already is a full caster, which means that the priest needed something to excel beyond the capabilities of the cleric. The divine gift angle of a deed-like engine is a good idea, though I did wish the class had employed a slightly more rewarding engine here. With the advent of influence mechanics, it would have been nice to add such an angle. The nova-issue hasn’t been addressed, which may necessitate some sort of gentlemen’s agreement. Ultimately, I like the class, but I want to like the concept more than I actually enjoy the execution.

While we’re on the subject of full casters and executions that I don’t like as much as I want to: The theurge is back. The class gets d6 HD, 2 +Intelligence modifier skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, good Will-saves and prepared spellcasting -arcane spellcasting governed via Intelligence and divine spellcasting governed via Wisdom - both from first level on. A Theurge gets a spellbook and a prayerbook and the latter requires the divine spells to be learned similarly to how arcane spells behave - from scrolls or levels. The superior spell selection of the original iteration has been reigned in somewhat. The class gets Scribe Scroll as a 2nd level bonus feat and 3rd level allows the class to reroll any concentration check, taking the better result.

While first, slots are distinct from another, starting at fourth level, arcane spells may be prepared via divine slots and vice versa, but at a penalty level-wise to the spell prepared, i.e. second level spells need to be prepared as third level spells etc. This may not be done if a spell exists on both spell lists, preventing cheesing, and the ability clarifies the maximum spell level that may be thus prepared via the other casting tradition’s slots. The capstone gets rid of this limitation regarding the spell slot higher (but not the maximum level!) and allows the theurge to add a metamagic feat for free to a spell cast, up to either Wisdom or Intelligence modifier times per day, whichever is higher.

The capstone gets rid of this minor penalty, though. At 5th level, theurges may cast two spells with the same casting time at once - one arcane, one divine, with targets affected by both suffering from a -4 penalty to saves, with the theurge getting +4 to CL-checks to overcome SR with them. This may be used 1/day, +1/day per 6 levels after that.

They also learn to cast a select limited array of spells as SPs, starting at 6th level, where one 1st level spell may be chosen. 9th level and every 3 levels thereafter yield another such SP, with the maximum spell level that may be chosen increasing by +1 as well each time. 8th and 14th level net a bonus feat chosen from a limited list and 9th level nets the wand adept ability, using his own ability scores (Intelligence and Wisdom) to calculate save DCs when using wands containing spells from his spell lists. At 14th level, the higher caster level of theurge or wand is used. To nitpick here, the save-DC-increase should only apply to spells known. The theurge gets no archetypes.

I still don’t like the theurge, even though it has gotten rid of one of its worst offenders regarding spell-list poaching or non-full-casters. A full caster that can cast both divine and arcane spells is a cool concept, and yes, the amount of spells cast (which never increases above 2 arcane + 2 divine per level (+ bonus spells via Intelligence + Wisdom) is severely restricted. This means every spell needs to count. I get that the general restriction on spells-slots is there for balance. I'm not sold, though, that it'll make for a particularly fun playing experience.

Sure, once you hit out your crême de la crême spells, you'll own the game...but what about the other time? Unlike most other classes, the theurge has nothing but spellcasting and will thus resort to wands and staves and scrolls. You’ll be carrying a buttload of spells-in-a-can around since you don't have enough spells for proper utility tricks, proper buffing, proper debuffing - essentially the class is geared very much toward being flashy super-spell nova-heavy. Which you may like, but personally, I think the class would have been more rewarding with more casts per day and a more restricted balancing via spells known. So, while the class has gotten rid of its rules-wise problematic aspects, its basic design premise remains: It's a glass pumpgun (also re buffs/debuffs) - two devastating shots and empty. Personally, I'd be not keen as a DM to structure my adventures to "empty" the super spell-arsenal of the theurge or to play one, trying to keep my super-ammo for the big bad boss.

Now all of this sounds negative, but the class per se is not a bad design, it does have its niche in which it will excel, and I’m pretty sure that some folks out there will like how this one plays. While I'm not sold on the place in a regular adventuring group, I do think the theurge will work superbly in 1 on 1-adventures and small groups - especially if the DM modifies adventures accordingly, groups starved for players get essentially divine and arcane in one class without resorting to gestalting - so yeah, the theurge has its niche, though I maintain it could have been more versatile in its use. With the advent of Occult Adventures, an elegant way to balance the two spell lists would have, for example, been a kind of Burn-like engine that activates when switching from divine to arcane and back…or as a general resource to account for more spell slots. So yeah, over all, an improvement over the previous iteration of the class, but still not a class I enjoy or would allow in my game.

Since we’re already neck-deep in casting classes, let’s take a look at one niche that the book devotes two whole classes to: The blaster. The blaster is a popular concept, as evidenced by the gazillion of different options in that regard. One of the earlier incarnations of blasting classes in PFRPG was the Battle Scion, only predated, I believe, by the Archon and Vanguard classes released by Rogue Genius Games (back then Super Genius Games). Much like the vanguard, who was also penned by Marc Radle, the Battle Scion replaces a form of arcane gish, an arcane paladin, if you will.

The Battle Scion gets d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Fort-and Will-saves, 2 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency in light, medium and heavy armor, shields and simple and martial weapons AND may cast spells while in armor from the very first level onwards without arcane spell-failure chance - thankfully still specifying regular spell failure chances for spells granted by other classes. Starting at 4th level, Battle Scions get access to arcane spells from the sorcerer/wizard-list of up to 4th level, which they cast as a prepared caster via Intelligence as governing attribute, with a caster level equal to their battle scion level-3. Furthermore, starting at 4th level, they also count as fighter of battle scion level -3 for the purpose of qualifying for fighter-only feats. At 2nd level, the battle scion gets a +1 deflection bonus to AC as well as a +1 insight bonus to hit with force blasts, both of which improve by +1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd. 3rd level nets Combat Casting as a bonus feat.

What are force blasts? They are basically 60 ft.-range touch attacks that inflict 2d4 damage, +1d4 for every 3 levels beyond 1st. SR applies and they are SPs, but battle scions treat their CL for the purpose of overcoming SR as their class level. The battle scion may emit one such blast 3 + Intelligence modifier times per day as a standard action, making sure that e.g. ranged weapons are not invalidated. That being said, the damage is untyped and a force effect, which is odd – I expected force damage here, but RAW, this would even bypass the very few force resistances out there. Considering the limitations imposed on the ability, I can see it work, though. Starting at 5th level, the class gets the dweomer weapon ability, which allows the battle scion, as a standard action, to focus energy into a weapon, which proceeds to shed light as a torch. The weapon gains a +1 enhancement bonus, which increases by +1 at every 3 levels beyond 5th, capping at +6 at 20th level, but only to the regular maximum of +5. You guessed it: The plusses can be exchanged in favor of special weapon properties and are added to pre-existing properties of the enhanced weapon. The ability lasts for 1 minute and may be used 1/day, +1/day for every 4 class levels beyond 5th. 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter nets a metamagic or combat bonus feat. 7th level increases the Combat Casting bonus to +6, with 11th level improving that to +8. Starting at 11th level, the battle scion may cast a prepared arcane spell (should specify from its own spell list, but oh well) as a swift action, but the spell must have a casting time of 1 standard action or less and the ability may only be used 3 + Intelligence modifier times per day. Starting at 8th level, armor check penalty is reduced by 1, and maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by armor is increased by 1. This bonus further improves at every 4 levels thereafter, and the ability also provides unimpeded movement in medium and heavy armor. The capstone turns the CL and fighter level to full class level and allows for the immediate action casting of a spell when confirming a critical hit.

The class comes with 3 archetypes: First, there would be the bonded scion, who loses the deflection aura and makes his weapon an arcane bonded item and may enhance his bonded weapon. 8th level’s armored maneuvers instead nets a Improved Bonded Object at 5th level. Instead of 6th level’s bonus feat, we get +2 to critical hit confirmation with the bonded weapon, which increases by +1 for every four levels thereafter. Instead of 10th level’s feat, we get the option to use a force blast to temporarily enhance the weapon, making it ghost touch and adding class level to damage versus incorporeal foes. 11th level’s spell tactician benefit is replaced with the option to make the bonded weapon bane, but at a higher damage output. 14th level’s bonus feat is replaced with Awaken Bonded Object. Mostly a numbers game regarding a special weapon. The second archetype is the force blaster, who may use his force blasts as a move action at 2nd level. At 11th level, instead of spell tactician, he may use force blast 3/day as a swift action. 5th level increases the damage of these as if empowered, and the force blasts come with a ranged combat maneuver that may push targets and knock them prone, all at once. This replaces the dweomer weapon. At 6th level, the archetype is locked into a blast-enhancing feat and 10th level’s bonus feat is replaced with the option to fire two blasts per use of force blasts, which upgrades to 3 at 17th level. The third archetype would be the wild scion, who gets Eschew Materials instead of fighter training and has spontaneous spellcasting governed by Charisma. This is a really sucky proposition, considering that none of the other class features are adjusted – suddenly, you also need Charisma, for an archetype that is much too MAD. This one feels like a bad filler-afterthought that hasn’t been contemplated properly.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the battle scion when it was released, and that hasn’t changed…but even if you liked it, it hasn’t aged well. At all. In a world, where Interjection Games’ ethermagic makes for highly customizable, balanced blasters, and where the big dog Paizo has introduced the versatile, unique kineticist, the battle scion feels a bit off. The fact that the class uses more than full BAB (bonuses granted by class features) for the blasts feels like unnecessary overkill nowadays; touch attacks don’t need a full BAB-class. When taking a look at e.g. vigilante as a relatively recent, versatile and pretty amazing class, the battle scion feels a bit rudimentary. The godblade-weapon-enhancer is a concept that a lot of classes have done in more interesting ways as well. The class isn’t bad per se, mind you – but unlike e.g. spell-less ranger, it hasn’t aged well.

There is a second blaster class herein, one that makes its first appearance in this book. The name should make clear what it’s all about from the get-go: I’m talking about the warlock. Yep, we get a classic blaster-class within this book, so what does the warlock do? The warlock class gets d8 HD, 2 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and the warlock’s bond weapon, ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves, as well as Intelligence-governed prepared spellcasting of up to 6th level, drawing upon the witch’s spell list. This spellcasting behaves analogue to the arcanist, though. The class has essentially two central angles: The warlock’s bond is a variant bonded weapon and gained at first level. It also acts as the familiar/spellbook substitute for the spell preparation of the class. The means of gaining new spells from e.g. other bond weapons and the like is concisely codified, and learning from scrolls is possible. The general weapon category of the bonded weapon determines a static bonus: The book distinguishes between 4 categories, with axes providing +2 to confirm crits, blades netting +2 to initiative, hammer and flails provide +2 to Fort saves and polearm bonded weapons allow the warlock to shorten his grip as an immediate action and attack adjacent targets at -2 to atk; if a polearm is not a reach weapon, the warlock gains a +1 insight bonus to attack rolls with it. Guess which one I liked best? Yeah, the polearm bonus is neat.

While wielding the bond weapon, the warlock adds Charisma modifier to CMD to resist disarm and sunder and this bonus applies to spells et al. that target the weapon and seek to change it. At 4th level, the warlock may deliver touch spells with it, and at 7th, 12th and 16th level, one of classic magic weapon properties is chosen from a brief list. At 10th level, the weapon awakens, becoming intelligent. Senses and attributes are defined and so are the skills available to the bonded weapon. Also at this level, we gain telepathy with the weapon. 14th level unlocks dark defenses, an ability that provides immunity for the shaken and frightened conditions as well as a +2 morale bonus to Will-saves. As a standard action, you can grant yourself SR equal to 6 + class level for class level rounds. This SR may not be suppressed. At 18th level, the morale bonus granted by dark defenses scales to +4 and the panicked condition is added to the immunity-list. The SR upgrades to 10 + class level. At 20th level, finally, the bonded weapon gets one of the most potent special weapon abilities, once more chosen from a brief list. It should be noted that aforementioned immunities only apply while wielding the bond weapon.

The second defining feature here should not surprise anyone – we get the dread bolt, which may be executed as a standard action. It’s a ranged, single-target blast that targets touch AC and has a range of 60 ft. It inflicts 1d6 force damage and increases that by +1d6 for every two warlock level beyond 1st. 5th level increases the range to 80 ft., and every 5 levels thereafter, the range further increases by +20 ft. Now, I’m not a fan of this being force damage, as the warlock gets infinite dread bolts per day, and force is the most valuable damage type in PFRPG, short of untyped, which is most of the time an oversight anyways. My issue lies within another construct here: Dread bolts “are treated as a weapon for purposes of making multiple attacks at higher levels.” This directly contradicts the activation action, which is a standard action. It also opens up a rather puzzling conundrum: If the activation action is correct and the dread bolt can indeed be executed as a standard action, does that allow for full attacks with dread bolts as a standard action? I assume no, but this aspect really needs polishing. Why do I assume that this is not the case? Beginning at 8th level, a warlock may attack with bond weapon and dread bolts in any combination or order when executing full attacks. This sentence implies that this was not the case before, but depending on how you read the standard action/iterative attack interaction, you get wildly different abilities here. This needs some cleaning up.

2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Knowledge (planes) and Knowledge (arcana). Beginning at 4th level, the warlock gets a +1 deflection bonus to AC and a +1 insight bonus to hit with dread bolts, which both increase every 4 levels thereafter. This ability is not required and feels like needless escalation of numbers, as ¾ BAB-progression mathematically suffices to hit pretty much any CR-relevant touch attack; it’s, in essence the gunslinger/battle scion BAB-overkill for blasting. At 10th level, warlocks btw. add Intelligence modifier to dread bolt damage. At 18th level, the warlock may 1/week contact other plane in a more reliable manner.

At 14th level, the warlock may roll for normal damage when adding a dread bolt transmutation to a dread bolt. What’s that? Well it represents, apart from spellcasting, the customization of the warlock. Beginning at 6th level, you get the first such dread bolt transmutation. As a swift action when hitting a target with a dread bolt, the warlock may activate one such transmutation instead of rolling for damage. Only a single transmutation may be used per round (that is already handled by action economy, so a bit weird), and save DCs are governed by Intelligence, with class level doubling as CL for SP-purposes. Transmutations don’t stack with themselves. This ability may be used 3/day, + 1/day for every 3 levels beyond 6th. So, why is there this caveat regarding per round cap? The capstone lets you execute a transmutation whenever you hit with a dread bolt. I assume that this does not get rid of the daily cap of uses, but explicitly stating something to that extent would have helped here.

So, what do these transmutations do? Well, basically, we have hard debuffing here, with bleed, phantasmal killer, negative conditions – you get the idea. There are 20 such transmutations and they are all available, provided that the warlock meets the minimum prerequisites regarding levels. Some of these employ condition scaling (fatigue upgrades to exhausted at 9th level, for example) and there are a couple that will not fit with all games: The agonizing transmutation, for example, causes the target to be staggered for a whopping class level rounds, with a successful save only reducing that to ½ class level. Yep, you heard me. This is a reliable stagger lock that can be taken as soon as 6th level. So yeah, I’m afraid that this fellow won’t get near my game. The class gets a single archetype, the dimensional traveler, who replaces the boost to AC and damage with blasts with 3 + Intelligence modifier swift action dimension doors that are restricted to the warlock. At 4th level, range is 20 ft. and this distance increases by +5 ft. every two class levels after that. Instead of dread bolt transmutations, 6th level yields Dimensional Agility and the bonus granted by the feat scales for the archetype.

So, all in all, as a person, I don’t like this class. It is rather linear and the transmutations are very strong, and pay for that strength with being limited in use. Which means you get a few potent debuffs and then run out – by decreasing the transmutation potency and making them generally available, the class would imho gain appeal. Compared to kineticist and ethermancer etc., the class boils down to the same blasts, with a few spells added. The lack of restrictions on force blasts also bugs me. Compared to what you can do with kineticist (and e.g. N. Jolly’s phenomenal Dimensional Ripper archetype, see Kineticists of Porphyra III), the warlock, to me as a person, is boring and too nova-y regarding the transmutations. Apart from spells, there is also no customization apart from minor bonded weapon tweaks, making the class pretty linear, which annoys me – when all members of a class have pretty much the same capabilities, it tends to bore me fast. This is a personal preference, though, and will not influence the verdict, for what is a huge no-go for me may actually be a feature for a lot of folks out there. Don’t like the kineticist’s burn-engine? Don’t like a ton of moving parts in your class? Just want a foolproof, uncomplicated take on the blaster sans a ton of choices or build options? Well, then you’ll like this class. Just make sure that the GM is aware of the potent debuff-locks and makes a ruling regarding the objectively flawed base bolt engine.

While we’re on the subject of ranged combat specialists, let’s talk about the mystic archer, who gets d8 HD, 2 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light armor and buckler. Spells gained by the class don’t suffer from arcane spell failure when wearing light armor or using a buckler. The class gets full BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. They begin play with access to prepared arcane spellcasting, governed by Intelligence, but it only scales up to 4th level spells. The class gets +1 to Perception checks and increases the range increment for any bow by +5 ft., with both increasing by a further +1/+5ft at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The class also begin with Weapon Focus for a bow as a bonus feat. Starting at 2nd level, all arrows fired by the class are considered to be magic and silver, and starting at 10th level, they are treated as the alignment of the character for the purpose of bypassing DR. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter yields a bonus feat chosen from a specific list. Upon reaching 4th level, the mystic archer may use a standard action to enhance the respective bow with special weapon properties, in a variant of similar enhancements of e.g. the battle scion.

Starting at 5th level, we choose the first archer trick, with another unlocked every 4 levels thereafter. These include dispelling arrows, close combat shots, arrow-based disarming etc. The class only gets 7 to choose from, though – a few more would have been nice. At 7th level, the class gets the imbue arrow class feature, allowing the class to place touch evocation spells upon arrows, with 12th level adding area of effect (emanation and spread only) spells. It should be noted that these still retain some restrictions that prevent cheesing of long casting time spells. This is one of the best ways to handle the concept that I’ve seen so far, but it lacks a crucial piece of information – how do the imbued spells behave regarding critical hits? No idea. 8th level lets you 1/day execute a hail of arrow, targeting 1 character per 3 mystic archer levels in a 60 ft. radius, executing an attack at full BAB against them. Additional daily uses are gained every 4 levels thereafter. 10th level increases critical range, but does not stack with Improved Critical or similar threat range increases, thankfully. Additionally, once per day as an immediate action upon confirming a critical hit with the bow, the mystic archer may increase threat multiplier by 1. At 11th level, we get deliberate aim, which translates to a single full-round action attack, adding ½ class level to atk. At 16th level, this may ignore armor and shield bonuses. At 14th level, we get 1/day phase arrow, which bypasses nonmagical barriers, cover, concealment, armor and shield bonuses as a standard action. An additional daily use is gained every 3 levels thereafter. 16th level nets the option to, as an immediate action, sacrifice a prepared spell to grant herself an insight bonus to atk until the end of her turn. At 19th level, we get penetrating shot, the archer may make a -4 atk versus a creature behind a target successfully crited. Okay, do the special shots à la imbued, any spells laced into the shot etc. apply to the second target as well? No idea. The capstone auto-confirms critical hits and, once per day, as a full-round action, she can fire an arrow that may cause exactly 100 hp damage if it hits and the target fails the DC 23 + Intelligence modifier Fort-save. The class gets no archetypes.

The mystic archer does a lot right, executing the notoriously difficult arcane archer concept rather well. At the same time, the rules-integrity could be a bit better.

The rather notorious savant class introduced in the first New Paths Compendium has received a general overhaul. The new version of the class gets d8 HD, 4 + Intelligence modifier skill points per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, but not shields, as well as ¾ BAB-progression and good Will-saves. The savant chooses an area of interest at 1st level, and does so again at 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter – this means that all savants will pick up all areas of interest by 16th level. Each area is associated with a number of knacks – knacks from the area of interest may be retained longer. What’s a knack in the context of the class? Well, it’s basically a borrowed ability, but requires first that the character scrutinizes a target. As a standard action, the savant can attempt a Perception check to identify a target, with the DC being 5 + the creature’s CR. On a success, the savant gets to know about aspects of the target’s statistics, with an additional aspect known for every 5 by which he exceeds the DC. The savant, upon scrutinizing the target, may gain a number of knacks equal to his maximum number of active knacks, which increases from 3 at 1st level up to 8. Gaining or changing a knack is a free action when scrutinizing, a standard action when consulting the notebook.

Wait, what? Yep, at 2nd level, the savant gets a notebooks, which means that after losing a knack, the savant has 1 hour to pen it down in the book, with the number of knacks that can be maintained in it capping at Intelligence modifier. Some knacks may be gained multiple times at once, allowing for the use of knacks as mini-feat-trees and the like. Fyi regarding feats: The savant has to meet the prerequisites and uses his own level to calculate level-based variables. Some of the knacks, like scrutinizing BAB, refer to a knack bonus, which begins at +1 and increases by +1 every 3 levels thereafter. While the class specifies a maximum spell level for the class, which caps at 5th, there is a potentially HUGE problem with the engine here: The savant can duplicate scrutinized divine and arcane spells. This means that, for as long as your allies have the spell, you can cast it an infinite number of times. Yes, this pretty much is infinite healing/spell-blasting at 1st level. This is a gamebreaker of an issue that immediately should disqualify the class as written RAW for many tables, and one that could have easily been prevented by implementing a simple 1 scrutiny per day per target cap. At 3rd level, advanced knacks are unlocked, providing access to whole spell lists of targets, yielding attribute enhancers, etc. – these only last for Intelligence modifier rounds, minimum 1, though. Some of these advanced knacks do not count towards the limit of active knacks. At 8th level, the savant adds his knack bonus to aid another with a skill from a knack associated with an area of interest. 14th level nets the option to gain a basic knack sans scrutinizing or notebook 1/day. The capstone nets doubled knack bonus when gaining a knack associated with an area of interest…which is needlessly wordy, considering that the savant will have all 4 areas of interest covered at this level. Additionally, knacks associated with the area of interest no longer count towards the maximum. RAW, this translates to infinite knacks. Something, somewhere, in the development of this class went horribly wrong. The area of interest is supposed to increase the duration of knacks, but fails to specify how. The capstone similarly implies that there should have been more areas of interest at one point – unless infinite active knacks are what the goal was.

The book contains the raconteur archetype for the savant, who creates an avatar corresponding to the area of interest,, with Perform (oratory) acting as the skill whose result determines knacks gained via epic storytelling. Yep, this archetype represents something akin to the old savant, but suffers, like the base class, from having a key ability based on a skill, which are notoriously easy to cheese with spells and items. Making that a level-based check would have been more balanced and elegant. The savant was the class I was most stoked for – its revision is really cool, in that it manages to get really, really close to making a really nice Blue mage type of class that bases its powers on foes encountered. System-immanently, this means that class does require a bit of metagaming, but per se, I would not object to that here. However, the rules-chassis has some unfortunate holes in it that seriously need fixing to work properly.

The trickster class presented herein receives d8 HD, 4 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus rapier, longsword, sap, short sword, shortbow, whip light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and may freely cast spells while only wearing light armor and/or using a shield. The class receives 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves and gains spellcasting.

Spellcasting of the trickster is slightly more tricky (I'll punch myself later for that one) than you'd expect: The trickster's spellcasting is governed by Intelligence and thus is prepared according to convention. However, spells prepared are not expended upon being cast - instead, the spell slot of the appropriate level is expended. Metamagic is handled as for sorcerers and similar spontaneous casting classes. High Intelligence influences the number of spells a trickster can cast, but not the amount of spell-slots he has - this is pretty important for balance, so bear that in mind. In short, the trickster has somewhat arcanist-y casting.

Tricksters begin play with 4 cantrips known and 2 1st level spells and increase that up to 6 for each spell level, barring 5th and 6th, which cap at 5. 5 is also the maximum spells per day limit. Akin to the alchemist and similar classes, spellcasting caps at spell level 6.

The trickster also receives access to sneak attack and begins play with +1d6, increasing this by +1d6 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Similarly, at first level, the trickster gains trapfinding. Starting at 3rd level the trickster adds +1 competence bonus to Bluff, Disguise, Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand or Stealth, increasing the bonus by +1 every third level, though the new bonuses gained may be freely distributed among aforementioned skills. 3rd level also nets evasion and 6th, 12th and 18th level provides bonus feats from a limited list. 8th level provides uncanny dodge, 11th level improved uncanny dodge.

At the 5th level, as a standard action, the trickster can cast a spell with a range of touch and deliver it as part of a melee attack, with the restriction of only working in conjunction with spells that have a casting time of 1 standard action or less. If the trickster hits, he also deals sneak attack damage in conjunction with the touch spell. Problematic here: The sneakspell’s damage is doubled on a critical hit, which can result in ridiculous numbers. At least metamagic can’t be applied. Starting at 17th level, a sneakspell that misses is no longer lost.

9th level provides ranged legerdemain, though the ability is thankfully MORE precise than that of the arcane trickster PrC, specifying how far you can propel stolen objects and increasing the required skill ranks to 5. At 14th level, the trickster receives Filch Spell, which allows the trickster to hijack ongoing spells requiring direction (flaming spheres etc.) as a move action 3 + Intelligence modifier times per day. 15th level provides Surprise spells - but unlike the imprecise original take on the ability, this one clarifies from the get-go how it works with magic missiles or AoE-spells. As the capstone, the trickster treats all 1s and 2s of sneak attack as 3s and auto-confirms crits executed with sneak attacks. Additionally, now metamagic feats may be added to sneakspells sans increasing the casting time.

The class has some customizations, in the guise of so-called fortes, which is gained at 2nd level and yields new abilities at 5th and 9th level. The first would be Acrobat, which not only provides skill-bonuses to movement-related skills and eliminates the need for running starts to get the associated bonus. Additional movement while not carrying heavy load or the like and no armor check penalty for Dex-based skills can also be found here. At 5th level, the trickster gains a scaling bonus to AC and CMD and may also act as though under freedom of movement for trickster level round per day, but only for movement purposes. Provided the trickster has at least 10 ft. at 9th level, he can dimension door as part of the move action expended, but, in a unique twist, the total distance he can thus travel is limited and capped with a daily max. The second forte is arcane accomplice, which nets a familiar, though the familiar receives Disable Device and Sleight of Hand as class skills and can deal sneak attack as long as it's within 30 ft. of the trickster - and yes, this means you can basically double-team on your own, greatly increasing the validity of sneak attack, though, for balance's sake, a familiar's sneak attack uses d4s, which proved mathematically feasible in my tests. 5th level goes one step further and nets the familiar all teamwork feats of the trickster as well as AC +2, while 9th level provides basically spring attack for the familiar, but only with regards to delivering harmless touch attacks - and yes, this is more versatile than you'd think.

The third forte is Beguile and provides +1 to DCs and +1 to rolls to overcome SR, scaling by +1 at 5th and 9th level - but only when targeting creatures that would be denied their Dexterity-modifier or that are helpless. At 5th level, when successfully feinting, the target would be denied his Dex-mod to AC for the next melee attack or spell targeting by the trickster, but only when performed on or before his next turn. 9th level decreases the required action to feint to a move action, a swift action if the trickster has Improved Feint.

The fourth forte is Spell Pilfer, which is easily the most unique of the fortes: As an immediate action, the trickster can make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) to identify the spell and, if successful, the trickster may attempt to pilfer the spell. The caster receives a Will-save versus 10 + 1/2 trickster class level + Intelligence-modifier to negate the attempt. If the caster fails, he loses access to the spell known or prepared spell, while the trickster temporarily (1/2 class levels, minimum 1) adds the spell to his list of spells known. While the spell is pilfered, the original caster may not cast it, but the trickster may, provided he has an available spell slot. Only one spell (again, VERY important for balance) can be pilfered at a given time - pilfering a second spell, the previous spell immediately reverts to the owner. This ability can be used 3 + Intelligence modifier times per day. It should be noted that tricksters can only pilfer spells they can cast, another VERY important limitation. Now you may have noted that Will-saves are pretty easy for most casters - thus, at 5th level, the trickster's Wisdom modifier is also added to the DC to resist the pilfer attempt. I am usually fiercely opposed to dual attribute-modifiers to anything, but considering that Wisdom is NOT a trickster's crucial stat in any way, in practice, this is less problematic. 9th level allows the trickster to pilfer spells above his casting capacity, but thankfully with the caveat that the trickster can't cast such spells - so no abuse possible. This is a very impressive ability in my book, since it makes spell theft work sans holes in the wording, sans abuse. Love it! I wish this level of care had been extended to some of the other classes that dabble in pilfer/duplication.

The fifth forte would be shadow, which increases CL of shadow school or darkness-descriptor-spells by +1 and it also nets low-light vision and darkvision 30 ft. (Or +30 ft., if the trickster already has darkvision.) 5th level nets something unique - the option to 3 + Intelligence modifier-mod times per day animate shadows of targets to attack them (cool). At 9th level, the trickster can basically hide in plain sight while within 10 feet of a shadow other than his own and at that level, the shadow may use the trickster's sneak attack.

There are two trickster archetypes here, the dual forte and the forte master trickster: Both have diminished spellcasting, but the dual forte trickster replaces the 6th, 12th and 18th level bonus feats with a second forte gained at 6th level, for which he is treated as -4 class levels, a limitation that ends at the capstone abilities. The forte master adds two very potent abilities to each forte, gained at 11th and 14th level, replacing the 12th and 18th level bonus feats. Acrobats can inflict sneak attack when moving more than 10 feet and maintain actions after using dimension door. Arcane accomplices increase familiar potency and may teleport them to an adjacent square 1/day as a swift action. Beguilers get enchantment tricks, shadow masters darkness-related tricks, and spell pilferers may now steal divine spells as well. Big plus: For campaigns that prefer a bit lower power-level than what the rather potent trickster-chassis offers, the pdf has some advice regarding the limitation of spell-lists. I STRONGLY recommend implementing this advice for most campaigns. The trickster is a relatively young and pretty potent class and I still like it.

The final class herein is another new one, the tinkerer. These fellows get d8 HD, 6 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency in simple weapons, plus hand and repeating crossbow as well as his grenades and light and medium armor, but not shields. Tinkerers get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves. Grenades are a tweak on the bomb mechanic – the tinkerer can make up to class level + Intelligence modifier of them per day, and they can’t be stored. The tinkerer need raw materials sans cost, but grenades must be thrown immediately, or they explode for maximum damage. They are thrown splash weapons with a range of 20 ft. and they are treated as weapons for feat purposes. Direct hits inflict 1d6 + Intelligence modifier damage, half of which is bludgeoning, half piercing – nice damage-type codification there! Damage increases by +1d6 every odd level thereafter, but this damage is not multiplied by crits or Vital Strike. Splash damage is equal to minimum damage. At 4th level, the tinkerer adds Intelligence modifier to Disable Device and UMD and may select a skill from a list, gaining +2 competence bonus in the skill and +2 insight to Perception checks pertaining to it. At 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the tinkerer adds another skill and increases the bonuses of an existing one by +2. At 14th level, the tinkerer may roll twice on such a skill, taking the better result, up to Intelligence modifier times per day. 18th level nets the option to always take 10 and once per day take 20 in one of them

5th level provides trapfinding and 8th level Master Craftsman, or Gunsmith – the latter obviously only in firearm-using campaigns, though in such a case, the proficiency list should imho be extended from the get-go. Starting at 6th level, the tinkerer may modify up to 3 + Intelligence modifier grenades to have e.g. an increased splash radius, add incendiary cloud, remove squares from the detonation, etc. The capstone gets rid of the daily limit of these improved grenades and similarly gets rid of the daily limit of rolling twice in specialized skills. At 10th level, the tinkerer may suppress mechanical traps and becomes better at disarming them safely – the suppression can provide interesting scenarios. 12th level adds ½ class level to the Perception and Disable Device skill to disarm traps he made, as well to all saves against them.

Part II of my review can be found in the product discussion.



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