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Heroes of the Haunted Sea
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/14/2017 06:06:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the big Porphyra-regional sourcebooks/player guides clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 64 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

All right, we begin with a well-written piece of introductory prose that establishes the tone of the region (hint: not the most harmless region of Porphyra…) before we dive into the respective racial write-ups. We begin with the bilgerat, a ratfolk variant that gets +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis; they are small ratfolk with a slow speed, carrion sense, darkvision 60 ft., Agile Maneuvers as a bonus feat, a 1d2 bite attack (minor complaint – you need to default to standard and look up the type), +2 to saves versus ingested poisons, disease or the nauseated and sickened conditions, +2 to Appraise and Perception to find hidden doors, constant speak with animals (rats and other rodents only), swarming and +1 to Stealth and do not lose Dex-mod when climbing or using Acrobatics to cross slippery surfaces. The race comes with a cool trait that provides whip-proficiency and lets bilgerat characters employ ropes as chains or whips. Cool.

Deep-spawn are envision as aboleth-blooded tieflings in the context of this region, which, rules-wise, translates to +2 Str and Cha, -2 Con. They are outsiders with Aboleth Heritage as a bonus feat, darkvision 60 ft., fiendish resistance, +2 to saves vs. illusions, a prehensile tail and they may envenom weapons etc. with toxic saliva/blood. Cool: The ability has a proper daily cap. Even cooler: We get a massive 50-entry strong table that lists cosmetic abnormalities that represent the deep-spawn’s tainted nature.

The 3rd player race would be the forlarren, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Str. They are fey with low-light vision, get +2 to Craft and Profession, DR/cold iron equal to half their character level, min 1, max 5, 2 claws worth 1d4 each (properly codified). Forlarren treat Stealth as class skill and, rather cool, the signature remorse upon killing a being has been translated properly.

Next up would be the half-medusa, who gets +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wis. They have darkvision 60 ft., +2 to Intimidate and Perception as well as +2 to AC versus flanking foes. They add +1 to the DC of all effects that cause the fascinated condition and 1/day, the half-medusa may force a target of such an effect to reroll and use the second result. They are treated as humans, medusa and monstrous humanoids…that is a bit weird, since human and monstrous humanoid usually are mutually exclusive. Just as an aside – the aforementioned races and those to follow all sport their own traits, most of which actually do something worthwhile, balanced and interesting…but we’re not yet done with races.

The halinae (half-nereids) gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str, are native outsiders with a swim speed of 30 ft and the same speed on land. They are amphibious and may assume the shape of a single human. They get 120 ft. deepsight, treat their Cha for the purpose of the water-bloodline and sorcerer class abilities as +2, may cast nereid’s grace 1/day as a SP and 1/day activate a 30-foot fascination aura.

Humans of the region get improved racial traits to account for Porphyra’s slightly increased power-level, with Skill Focus at 1st,8th and 16th level, two favored classes and +1 skill rank as well as +2 to Diplomacy and Sense Motive in social situations. Maenads gain +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, have Wild Talent, get +2 to Profession (sailor) and Swim as well as Survival at sea. They get +4 to CMD to resist bull rushes and trip attempts on ships as well as weapon familiarity with flails, heavy flails and pilums. They add +1 to the DC os saves vs. sonic effects. Maenads with Charisma of 13+ can cast energy ray 1/day, sonic only. Minor complaint: The power is not properly italicized.

Alluria’s Obitu race has been modified: They gain +2 Str and Dex (slightly lopsided), -2 Cha and are native outsiders with darkvision, resistance 5 vs. negative energy and no hp loss from negative levels. They get +2 to saves vs. death effects, energy drain, etc. They get +4 to saves vs. disease and poison and are immune to sleep effects. They don’t sleep, but incur -2 to Perception while resiting. Escape Artist and Acrobatics are class skills for them. The obitu are tied to a magical disease, the waters of vivification, which is a pretty cool angle here.

The orcam orca-folk can also be found – they get +2 Con and Cha, 30 ft. base speed and swim speed (minor redundancy/cut-copy-paste glitch here), low-light vision, cold resistance 2, hold breath, proficiency with spears, tridents and nets, +2 to Ride dolphins and whales and as a move action, they can emit an echolocation pulse, which may be negated by silence (not italicized), but only underwater. Satyrine gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int, are fey with low-light vision and gain a primary headbutt attack for 1d6 that may daze targets on a failed save if inflicting 6+ damage; not a big fan of this mechanic; it become pretty much automatic almost immediately. They have stability, gain +1 to Bluff and Profession (sailor) and gain a 1/day standard action heightened charm person based on a spell level equal to ½ character level and with Charisma as governing attribute for the save DC.

Okay, so the races chapter, in spite of my absurdly high expectations regarding races, is, as a whole, very well presented; the power-level is pretty concise and with a few minor hiccups as exceptions, I enjoyed all write-ups presented. Down-side: None of the races presented here come with their age, height and weight tables.

So, here is the coolest component of the Haunted Seas. The Deity Nise has ensorcelled the islands and they thus move: 10 months a year (which are not clear!), the landlocked parts of the haunted seas move throughout Porphyra, allowing the region to collect a vast array of diverse resources! Oh, and having suddenly a massive region on your hands can make for a really cool change of local dynamics! The region comes with a great. Player-friendly full-color regional map and even a rhyming poem/shanty about these so-called Rides, which are a glorious way to render the whole region volatile. Unlike Vernathea’s Veil-region, the Haunted Sea is not encased in a massive storm as it moves, providing a completely different experience for the moving region. On the islands of the haunted sea, Kormus would be a den of vice; Port Calist’s splendor is governed by the potent guilds; Sthenno is the place for subterfuge, with broodmothers of the half-medusa and forlarren races reigning supreme. Finally, Xebic has been raised on the shell of a giant dragon turtle, with an air of somber melancholy over the loss of the critter’s loss. The settlements in the haunted sea come with a wide variety of cool settlement qualities and all of these aforementioned, unique settlements not only come with proper settlement statblocks, they also sport great vignettes that do a really nice job at capturing the flavor of the respective locales.

This is not where we stop, though: We also are introduced to a variety of other places of interest, some of which practically demand to be used: From the bloodstained cay to the flooded ghetto, there is some interesting adventuring potential to be found here. Yes, there are cannibal isles, just fyi.

Now, this would not be a Porphyran player’s guide without a massive array of player-centric options. Proper underwater bombing for alchemists (with optional increased splash radius for a reduced potency) can be found. The Blackpowder disciple base class gets an archetype with the blackpowder rover – basically a pirate-y flurrying monk/gun-user. Not too excited here. The Deck warden mariner archetype is a sea-specialist – favored vessel, storm sight, sure-footed; you get the idea. The fiendish stalker is a forlarren slayer that focuses on natural attack sneaks (using d8s for them, d4s for sneak attacks with weapons) and, a limited amount of times per day, they may substitute fire damage for sneak attack, courtesy of their connection to hell. Yeah, these fellows are evil. At higher levels, we get minor defensive auras, clinging hellfire sneaks, etc. per se flavorful, evil killer. Knight sister warpriests are devoted to the Stormmaiden and gain tactician and slight bonuses when healing…but pay for that with lost sacred weapon features at 4th level and higher. The Nereid sorcerer bloodline nets a poisonous touch, the ability to become transparent at higher levels and sea-based abilities – no complaints here.

The rime chemist alchemist is Wisdom-based and gains desiccation bombs, which are particularly potent versus oozes, plants etc., increasing the damage output there, but at the cost of lower damage versus other targets. The bombs can also sicken and their damage-type is concisely defined. The mutagen nets you the aquatic subtype including ½ base speed swim speed at the cost of poison use. The archetype may choose from a limited array of revelations from the waves mystery and higher levels provide SPs, upgrades, etc. – all with the water-theme. The archetype, as a whole, provides a viable exchange – no complaints. River Guide undine shamans are underwater trackers/striders and can provide water breathing via kisses and, at the highest levels, even grant freedom of movement (italicization missing). The savage bulwark skald has diminished spellcasting and qualifies easier for shield-based combat feats. The archetype is a defense specialist that gains some solid boosts to shield use. The serpent disciple half-medusa monk replaces stunning fist with bardic performance and gains both climb and swim speed – cool: They get to choose which movement rates to improve at higher levels. Instead of maneuver training, we get stern gaze. Quivering palm is replaced with a potentially petrifying strike that is particularly hard to resist if your speed’s been reduced to 0 ft.

The pdf does sport the Aboleth Exemplar 10-level PrC. Anyhow, the PrC gets ½ BAB-progression, ½ Fort – and Will-save progression, 7/10th spellcasting progression and 2 + Int-mod skills per level. The PrC nets no new proficiencies. If the character has the aboleth bloodline, levels in the PRC stack with sorcerer levels; if not, the PrC unlocks bloodline powers of said bloodline. Over the course of the PrC, characters gain a total of +4 Str, +2 Int and +4 Cha, with 1st, 4th and 7th level providing natural armor bonus +2 each. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter yield a bloodline feat and 2nd level sports the ability to excrete slime that turns acidic at 6th level and further improves at 10th level. 3rd level yields a 30-ft.-cone acid-breath weapon, usable 1/day, with 7th and 10th level providing additional uses. 5th level yields tremorsense, 7th 1/day the ability to assume medium aboleth form, including mucus cloud, but only in this form. This form may be assumed a second time at 10th level, and the form is improved, becomes Large, etc. 9th level yields the tentacles bloodline power.

The Exalted Captain PrC would be a variant of the Battle Herald prestige class, customized for a seafaring focus – it is a solid variant, though you will need to consult the original battle herald – think of the presentation as basically an archetype for a prestige class. Beyond these, we get a bunch of new feats. Among these, you’ll find the aforementioned Aboleth Heritage feat, which includes 1/day poison spray, secondary tail attacks etc. – cool choices! There are also three Chosen of…-feats – these feats denote champions of specific deities and provide potent boons, which may only be invoked a fixed number of times per day to offset their power. Nice array. We can find Deep-Sea Adaptation for higher level characters, extended echolocation range, a Barroom Brawler follow-up feat that helps qualify for combat feats as well, an improvement for racial faerie fire SPs, further upgrades for tails, better throwing underwater, share your racial remorse for killing (and upgrade that component further…) and a Whirlwind Feint that gets interaction with the established feats right. All in all, a solid feat-chapter with some cool rules-hole-filling feats for specific flavors of characters.

Unless I have miscounted, we also get 25 new spells – these range from the self-explanatory anchor over the force-based boarding plank to calm waters and some interesting tricks: Like a spell to deflect ramming attacks of incoming ships! There is also a spell that temporarily discorporates a single sail, a spell to desalinate water, a mage’s lavish keelboat – you get the idea. The focus here is utility, but quite a few of the spells look deceptively simple, but can have really fun repercussions in naval combat and environments – though, as you could glean from a couple of the utility spells mentioned, there are a few of them that definitely fit to Porphyra’s high-magic aesthetics, but which I’d not introduce to grittier settings to maintain the difficulty of wilderness survival. Minor complaint: I get the balancing rationale of the spell, but I don’t think that, flavor-wise, scalding sea should inflict untyped damage. The untyped nature is balanced by spell level etc., but still. Feels wrong from an internal logic for me. Then again, that may just be me.

Now, for quite some time, the equipment chapters of these books have been favorites of mine, and this is no different: We get rules for air bladders and weight kits, belaying pins, life vests, lobster traps, swimfins…and materials: From crocodile to shark leather, you’ll have the rules for stylish leather…and kraken bane thorn weapons, armor from Kraken beak, whale bone or obsidian weaponry…there is a lot of cool materials here. Among the alchemical items, we find oil that can help to slightly calm the seas; we can find slippery eel slime, Cha-enhancing manatee tears, venoms…some really cool stuff.

Among the magic items, bone compasses point away from danger, while bone flags help being a sailor and enhance saves vs. fear, while also allowing for the use of fear 1/day as a standard action. Deckhand rings and the improved captain’s variant help skill challenged characters contribute; there is a cursed map that points towards danger (and diminished rewards) and 4 enchanted figureheads are included. The helm of a fabled triton kraken-slayer, a cloak that keeps the water-dwellers moist…some neat tricks here. Now, one of my favorite aspects of these books is definitely that they include MASSIVE, extremely convenient equipment lists: This not only is nice in the context of the book; the availability thus provided lends its own sense of identity to the region. Grouped by type in the respective sub-tables, this section is a great candidate for printing out and tucking into your GM-screen.

The pdf also provides a massive cadre of sample NPCs: We get a CR 7 knight sister, a CR 4 blackpowder rover, a CR 8 fiendish stalker, a mighty CR 16 sorcerer/aboleth exemplar,a CR 6 savage bulwark and a rime chemist at the same range; there is a deck warden at CR 5, a river guide at CR 2, a CR 13 tactician/sea singer/battle herald (Neat!) and a master of many styles/serpent disciple dual archetype at CR 11. Nice NPC codex section.

Finally, we get a nice bonus-pdf: This time around, we get a new monster, the CR 3 Botach, an incorporeal spirit somewhere between the lines of fey and undead, the entity comes with an aura of ill luck and its mere presence causes potentially horrific, dire catastrophes – dispose of it…fast! Neat one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are very good – I noticed no glaring issues in the presentation or functionality of the rules. On a formal level, I did notice e.g. a couple of missed italicizations, a superfluous “G”, an instance of a component that was bolded and should have been italicized…while not perfect, the book as a whole is presented in a solid manner. Layout adheres to a two-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly: b/w with Purple highlights. The book sports several nice, full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks and all.

Treyson Sanders, with additional writing by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, delivers a massive tome here: Bang-for-buck-ratio-wise, this player’s guide delivers. The overall quality of the crunch is pretty high as well; while you won’t necessarily find mind-blowing modifications among the class options, they are better than most naval specialists, in that they sport some interesting flavor components. The rather well-balanced racial chapter was an impressive read; while not all are suitable for gritty gameplay, the races should not unbalance most regular fantasy games. The regional areas of interest noted ooze flavor, and so do several of the items, materials, etc.

In short, all in all, this is a well-rounded player’s guide. The region is wondrous, weird and has some massive conflict potential: And suddenly, the haunted sea if right at your door! Go! Yes, that can change the dynamics of a region in rather interesting ways; heck, you could potentially play a siege against one of the isles: Your paltry hovel of a homebase only has to withstand the assaults until the Haunted Sea goes elsewhere…

So yeah, there is a lot here I like. At the same time, I honestly found myself wishing we’d get less naval class options and more information on the respective islands and their unique cultures; a couple of the class options tie in well with the flavor presented there (and that’s a huge plus!), but a few of them imho are a bit less exciting. This notwithstanding, the pdf manages to keep the high standards set by these player’s guides – the series has consistently scored at the higher ranks of my rating scale and this is no different. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Very much worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Haunted Sea
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Caster Prestige Archetype: Souldrinker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/13/2017 04:15:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

At this point, after I have covered 3 whole series of prestige archetype classes, I assume that you’re familiar with the concept and won’t bore you again with an explanation; instead, let us focus on the first thing you’ll note, namely a significant array of favored class options provided for the class, one that goes beyond the core and more uncommon races and also features several of Porphyra’s more exotic options. These generally add spells with limits based on race and also feature some enhancers for durations, racial feature uses, etc. Balance-wise, I noticed no broken components here. It should be noted that this is one of TWO such lists – the general list provided exists alongside a souldrinker specific FCO-list, which includes a couple of rather interesting, flavorful options: Dwarven souldrinkers are particularly capable when making items from souls, for example.

Class-chassis-wise, the souldrinker receives d6 HD and 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, ½ BAB-progression and good Will-saves – as you may have noticed, the default chassis employed in building this fellow was the wizard (yep, full spellcasting), but there are alternate versions included. Arcanist souldrinkers do not modify the default chassis; clerics and oracles get modified BAB, saves, HD and proficiencies and clerics are subject to alignment restrictions, but gain two domains. Oracles gain a mystery, a curse and a revelation, but no further revelations down the road. Psychics may use the class’s pool as phrenic pool substitute and gain phrenic amplifications at 3rd, 7th and 11th level, excluding major ones. Sacerdotes gain massive domain selections; sorcerers have a bloodline, but only its skill and spells. Witches have a familiar-progression built-in.

At 1st level, the souldrinker chooses one of the four horsemen (not, not the designers) as the patron and, like other evil prestige archetypes, the class begins play as damned, making resurrection a less likely prospect. The class starts play with a familiar that is stark black and white and Neutral Evil. 2nd level yields energy drain – the ability to bestow negative levels to gain temporary hit points, though only when used against helpless targets. At 7th level, the attack may be employed as a melee touch attack; 13th level makes the use as a ranged touch attack (30 ft. range) possible and 18th level increases the negative levels bestowed to 2. Minor complaint here: With a sufficient amount of harmless critters, you can maintain the benefits of this ability, conservative though they are, indefinitely. An anti-kitten-caveat would have been appreciated here.

At 2nd level, we also gain a soul pool – for each negative level bestowed, the soul drinker gains 1 soul pool point – and here, THANKFULLY, the use of kittens, rats etc. to gain infinite soul points is NOT possible. Kudos for preventing abuse there. Cool: Exceptional beings may qualify still, even if their souls RAW would not qualify. The maximum number of points you can hold is ½ class level + spellcasting ability modifier. These points may be used as substitutions for costly material components, to recover spell slots (expend spell level soul points) or pretty quickly replace slain familiars. At 3rd level, summon monster spells may be paid for by soul points: Problem: RAW, the ability does allow a low level soul drinker to use the ability to cast high-level summon monster spells – the ability lacks the caveat that the spell duplicated must be one that the souldrinker could cast. 4th level allows for the use of soul points to extend the duration of summons. Cool: they may be used when the spell has already been cast. Not so cool: I have no idea how this interacts with partially elapsed spells: If, e.g., after 3 rounds I choose to extend the duration, does it reset its duration as though the creature had been called anew, or do the increments carry over when the ability is used to increase the increments from rounds to minutes? I assume the latter, but RAW, the class doesn’t define this one enough.

6th level yields a cacodaemon familiar and 9th level provides item creation and staff recharge options for the soul pool. 14th level upgrades that to the option to use soul points as replacements for wand or staff charges and scrolls. The capstone yields a daemonic apotheosis.

Now, I already mentioned the patrons: They come with listed symbols, domains and favored weapons and govern three abilities: 8th level yields a lesser oblivion, which is a passive benefit, namely immunities associated with the respective horseman. At 12th level, the oblivion is gained: An SP that costs 1 soul point to activate…and that has an INSANE DC: 10 + class level + spellcasting ability modifier. I am not sure if this massive DC is intentional; usually, ½ class level is what you’d expect. The 16th level ability would be greater oblivion, which costs 3 soul points to activate and is an SP, once more with the massively potent DC formula. Death nets fast healing 10 for 10 rounds and war nets greater magic weapon with an expanded list.

The pdf also features a supplemental feat that allows the character to call NE daemons via summon monster.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect on either formal or rules language level – I noticed a couple of commas missing (in a place where that caused confusion) and there are a few hiccups in the rules-language. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks.

Carl Cramér’s souldrinker is, flavor-wise, a nice take on the concept and rather inexpensive – at a very fair price, you get a solid, if not perfect little class. That being said, the hiccups that can be found did strike me as slightly odd, particularly when compared to the precision the Caster Prestige Archetypes-series has otherwise shown. As written, I unfortunately can’t go higher than 3 stars on this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Caster Prestige Archetype: Souldrinker
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AL 8: Fire in the Mountain (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2017 06:23:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for DCC clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, ½ a page editorial/patreon-thanks, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first thing you should know: The pdf actually includes a new race, somewhat goat-like humanoids of fey origin that gain 1d8 hit points per level. They may use blackjack, blowgun, club, sling, spear and shortbow and staff sans penalty, but other weapons suffer from a -2 to attack rolls in addition to the -1d penalty. Attacks with hooves, claws etc. are not penalized. Urisk also balk at armor: Anything beyond a wooden shield nets a +1d increase in Fumble Dice and +2 to armor check penalty. Their horns inflict 1d6, their fists 1d5 and their hooves 1d4. Urisks may use an Action Die to make multiple attacks: Both horns, both fists or both hooves or any combination thereof, but the attacks are penalized at -1d. The urisk also may make three attacks, one of each type, but this comes at a -2 on the dice chain to hit. Pretty sure there should be a “d” after the 2.

When an urisk makes a successful attack with a natural weapon, he may add his Savage Die to damage rolls, or, in the case of a crit, to the critical hit table instead. Urisk get very slow access to a couple of spells, representing their skill in the old ways. The have movement 30’ and are not impeded by hilly or mountainous terrain, gain infravision 30’ and can eat anything – their rations only cost ¼th that of humans. They save against ingested poisons at +2d and versus fire with +1d. They also detract 1d3 damage from fire. Iron and steel exposure halves their healing rate. Action Die can be used for atk, skills and spells; Additional Action Dice only for movement. At 1st level, the urisk adds Luck modifier to one natural attack and one spell. The urisk come with a proper class table; atk mod scales up to +4; Savage Attack damage die increases from +1d3 to +1d8; crit die/table starts at 1d7/III and improves to 1d30/IV. Action Die increases from 1d20 to 1d20 + 1d20. Ref- and Will-save adhere to a ½ progression, with Fort scaling up to +4. They learn up to 10 spells, maximum spell level 2 (unlocked at 7th level). They also start with +4 Climb, scaling to +14 at 10th level. Level titles for lawful, neutral and chaotic urisk characters are provided from level 1 to 5.

This being an adventure review, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign! Potential players should jump to the conclusion!

..

.

All righty, only judges around? Great!

All right, so this is a funnel set if Purple Duck Games’ patchwork planet of Porphyra, wherein players players may play urisk mountain-dwellers or characters willing to help one. A nice introductory text introduces the conundrum: Billy Cloven-Foot, an urisk, has found a cave with some strangely modern looking bits…he tinkered with a door and opened it…and now, those spirits freed need to be laid to rest. The module presents some encounters for trekking up the mountains and information for PCs interrogating Billy. En route, the PCs may run afoul of faerie foo lights, fire bees…and reaching the dungeon, the PCs will find the remnants of charred bones and soon encounter multi-eyed, upright walking capering goat things that spontaneously combust upon being slain. In true DCC manner, PCs should be smart – there is a chance to bring a whole cave don on their heads (probably lethal).

The PCs exploring the complex will soon realize that this is a place sanctified to the elemental lord Krakaal, foe of the NewGod Obikaal (Porphyra’s core divine conflict is between the elemental lords and the interloper NewGods); the complex sports an ice spider, a hive of the aforementioned fire bees and their magical wax. Worse, there are the Impenitent, once imprisoned, now free – they are the masterminds behind transforming Billy’s goats into these THINGS…so defeating these beings and their leader, the abbot, may help the region…but there is another problem: Know what’s within this dungeon, beyond cool terrain features? An access point to HELL. There is a wheel. Turning it leads to another place, another time…so if the PCs turn it, they basically turn the world and time AROUND that point – they may well see themselves, the shape of things to come, creatures far beyond their power…and they will realize that, ultimately, to move the access point away, at least one PC will have to remain…or, you know, all of them go that route. They may inadvertently end up FAR away from their humble homes – questing to return is certainly something the judge should consider! (Oh, and the impenitent may have had a LONG time to cause all kinds of havoc…

Either way, the module certainly doe s neat job at being a cool, introductory funnel.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The module sports nice full-color artworks and comes with detailed, nested bookmarks. Cartography is b/w and solid. There is no player-friendly version of the map to cut up and hand out, which is a bit of a pity as far as I’m concerned.

Daniel J. Bishop’s “Fire in the Mountain” is a great offering; it makes me swallow my own words. You see, at one point, I pretty loudly proclaimed that Porphyra’s aesthetics would run contrary to the tenets of DCC. Well, I’m not above admitting mistakes; turns out that all it takes is the right approach/author. This module takes the weirdness of Porphyra and emphasizes it in an interesting manner – the adventure feels distinctly Porphyran, but at the same time less like high fantasy and more like a strange land, unlike our own. This works very much to the adventure’s advantage and the potentially weighty decision that the players have to make in one room is glorious. As an aside, this also makes for great convention-gaming: I can see this work really well in a con time-slot. While I would have liked a player map and while this is not my favorite DCC-book Daniel J. Bishop penned for the ducks, it is a neat addition to the array of amazing supplements PDG has released for DCC. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 8: Fire in the Mountain (DCC)
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Hybrid Class: Keener
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2017 12:08:14

An Endzietgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content. It should be noted, though, that the pages are formatted for A5 (6’’ by 9’’ digest) size – you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper if your sight’s good enough.

So, the keener would a hybrid class of bard and cleric, with d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and light armors and shields, excluding tower shields. They gain spontaneous Charisma-based spellcasting, drawing their spells from both the bard and cleric lists. Bard spells are converted to divine spells and the keener does not need to provide a divine focus. They gain spells of up to 6th spell level. As an aside: The table lacks the value denoting the amount of 6th levels at 20th level – extrapolating from the table, the entry should probably be “4.”

Okay, we begin with a very potent ability – eulogist allows a keener’s spells and lament abilities to affect undead creatures with mind-affecting abilities and conditions that undead are usually immune to. Yes, you read right. ALL of them. And this exact moment is when this class got banned at my table. That’s a capstone, not a 1st-level ability. Undead, usually immune, lack the defenses that comparable creatures get. Why not spread the conditions (which should be listed) over the levels of the class? Would be better balanced and rewarding. Also: Does this extend to Fort-based effects that don’t usually affect undead? This…is a mess. Additionally, the ability nets 1/day sanctify corpse as a SP, which, at 10th level, may be made permanent for 500 gp.

The signature ability of the keener would btw. be keening – gained at 1st level, the ability can be activated as a standard action. Good keeners get positive energy, evil ones get negative energy and neutral ones can choose. Keening has a range of 25 ft + 2 ft. per 2 class levels and bursts then in a 30 ft.-spread, striking a number of additional targets in that spread equal to the keener’s class level – kudos for the Dev-comment here – the regular ability is a bit confusing in its wording. The damage-scaling of keening contradicts itself 1d6 “plus 1d4 for every 2 keener levels beyond first (1d6 at 3rd…” – so, are the additional dice d4s or d6s? The save works analogue to a Cha-governed channel and the ability can be used 3 + Cha-mod times per day, +1 for every keener level attained after 1st. Targets must be able to hear the keener to be affected. So yes, keening is SIGNIFICANTLY better than channel energy. It has more control built in from the get-go and allows you to hit targets beyond line of sight! Once again, a per se cool idea, but balance-wise something I’d consider problematic.

5th level nets the ability to cast Verbal-only spells (erroneously referred to as “Vocal”) sans provoking AoOs. OUCH. It gets worse: Spend, as a free action, a keening use to cast ANY spell sans provoking AoOs. 8th level nets the Su-ability to ask a corpse a question (as speak with dead, but does not count as cast spell), with a ridiculous save of 10 + keener level. 10th level nets immunity to fear and 2/day overwhelming grief, +1/day at 17th level. 15th level nets one of the following SPs: Hymn of Mercy, Imprisonment, Soul Bind, Wail of the Banshee, usable 1/day. The capstone provides either undead or fey apotheosis. Lame.

Now, the keener also has a kind of talent array – so-called laments. The first of these is gained at second level and every even level thereafter yields another lament. Additional effects of laments used in conjunction with keening are negated on a successful save. Each lament may only be used once per day and affects a single keening. Laments may be chosen multiple times, granting an additional daily use. “All bonuses are either “profane or divine”…That should be “sacred”!

Now, there are a ton of laments: On the offensive section, we have added blindness, energy type conversion, sickening targets, fatiguing targets – you get the idea. Negative conditions last for class level rounds. The “good” laments on the other hand allow the keener to heal negative conditions. The wording for these, considering their simplicity, is surprisingly often a bit wonky.

The class comes with supplemental feats: +2 keenings, +1 lament, a feat for +4 to Intimidate checks (not Intimidation) against dragons, reptiles, snakes and similar critters (BOOORING) and Harmonic Lament, which lets you expend two uses of keening to apply two laments to a single keening. Okay, are these two keening uses in addition to the keening to be modified or is that cost instead of the 1 keening required for activation? No idea.

The favored class options are extensive in scope (covering a ton of the Porphyran races), but very inconsistent in their power, ranging from very powerful (spontaneous caster!) additional spells for some to nigh useless +1/2 daily use of sanctify corpse.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, a couple of issues that influence the rules-integrity have crept into the class. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s keener could have been so much better – with a more dispersed unlocking of affecting undead, a more limited keening in the beginning (and instead, better laments/lament-scaling) and a generally tighter focus, this could have been an amazing hybrid. I like the idea and the flavor here. It should be noted that the dev-note explaining keening helps a lot –the wording of the ability is a bit confused. Speaking of which – the scaling and extent of keening remains opaque. This is an inexpensive pdf, sure, but the class presented is a flawed offering. You can make it work, but it will take a bit of fiddling – and honestly, what’s here, is very bursty. My final verdict, ultimately, can’t exceed 2.5 stars – and I can’t round up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Keener
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Godmetals of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Alexander M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2017 19:07:25

I'm writing this primarily because a good deal more information is available for the Lands of Porphyra campaign setting and that can change perspective on the value of this work. Godmetals of Porphyra is a short work, and underappreciated. The eponymous godmetals are seven in number, each with different uses. Not all of them are designed to be in the hands of player characters under normal circumstances. Hellstone and Mawine both read like they were designed with evil rogues and assassins in mind. Both have properties to them that a clever DM could apply to traps. Although this book was created in response to Paizo's Skymetals being Product Identity, I feel that an update should be done to make the Godmetals concept more Porphyran. There are 27 deities in Lands of Porphyra, and while some of them ascended during the Calling, in the lore that era took place almost 1,000 years ago. We have 7 godmetals, maybe someday we could have 27. It would be more interesting, though, if the idea were instead expanded beyond the existing special ores and stones to include other divine materials used in crafting. *****



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Godmetals of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Hybrid Class: Abomination
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/22/2017 05:27:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content. It should be noted that the text is laid-out for digest/booklet-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’).

The abomination as depicted herein would be a hybrid of unchained barbarian and unchained summoner. The class gains d12 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and a natural armor bonus that increases from +0 at 1st level to +8 at 20th level. The abomination only gains proficiency with two simple weapons of his choice as well as with light armor.

Spellcasting is handled via SPs – the abomination begins play with a spell-like ability drawn from the unchained summoner’s spell-list. At 4th level, 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the abomination receives an additional spell-like ability. Restriction-wise, the abomination’s class level must be at least twice the spell level to be selected as SP to make it eligible – it thus takes 6 class levels to choose a 3rd level SP. These SPs are governed by Charisma and may be employed 3/day; exception to this rule would be 0-level SPs – such SPs can instead be used at-will. Now, summoner spells often influence eidolons in specific way – in a nice bit of service, these spells don’t just fall by the wayside; instead, we cover a couple of them, highlighting how they interact and work – life conduit, for example, can be rather risky. Still, I actually liked this aspect about the presentation of the class – it shows care.

Now, unsurprisingly, the abomination also gains an evolution pool: We start with 1 point and increase that to up to 8. These evolutions are per se fixed, but may be changed upon gaining a level or by being transmogrify-d. The abomination does receive a rage-variant, the rampage. This one can be maintained for 4 + Constitution modifier rounds, +2 per class level. Temporary increases in Con do not grant additional rounds. The abomination gains +1 to Atk with melee attacks, +1 to melee and thrown weapon damage rolls and Will-saves, as well as -1 AC and 1 temporary hit point per HD. After a rampage, the abomination is shaken and the ability is treated as rage for the purpose of prerequisites, etc. Now personally, I would have loved to see a caveat that precludes characters immune to the shaken condition for rampage-cycling here. On the plus-side: The 17th level ability eliminates the shaken-cooldown, but does not yield temporary hit points again if trying to re-enter the rampage before 1 minute has elapsed. The bonuses rampage grants are upgraded to +2 and 2 temporary hit points per HD at 11th level, +3 and 3 temporary hit points per HD at 20th level.

At 2nd level, we get uncanny dodge and evasion; 5th level provides improved uncanny dodge and 7th level nets DR 1/-, which improves every 3 levels thereafter. 14th level nets improved evasion.

Now thankfully, the abomination does not gain free access to all evolutions – instead, the class gets its own custom list, which thankfully do clarify the respective natural weapon interaction. That being said, there is a bit of an oversight, convenience-wise: the natural attacks tend to list their damage values for Large abominations – but not for Small ones. Probably a heritage issue left over from the eidolon-translation. Not a big deal, but inconvenient nonetheless. Big plus among the 1-point evolutions: They don’t break game-assumptions à la low level personal flight etc.; on the downside, there are a couple of choices that can be a bit weird in play: It is, for example, possible to give yourself pincers…but RAW, you don’t have issues tying your laces, holding those lockpicks – you get the idea. It’s not a big issue, mind you: As Limbs is a 2-point evolution, you can easily do the glabrezu and have a second pair of pincer arms (no, you don’t get additional attacks), but yeah – there are a couple of evolutions, where a bit more PC (as opposed to pet-function)-functionality/explanation would have been cool.

Know how I commented on how the 1-point evolutions don’t break low-level assumptions? Well, it is my pleasure to report that both e.g. elemental bonus damage and unassisted flight are locked behind 5th level; similarly, the powerful rake and rend options are locked behind 4th and 6th level, respectively. The nature of the natural attacks required for them further provide limiting factors here. Nice: The 3-pt.-evolutions include e.g. Wisdom damage causing consciousness (with sanity alternatives for Horror Adventures!); infinite, but slow fast healing is locked behind 11th level – not the biggest fan there, but yeah.

It should also be noted that 8th level nets a monster feat – the abomination must meet the prerequisites, thankfully, but may choose to lose and replace this feat upon gaining a new level. The pdf also provides new feats: +4 rounds of rampage, +1 evolution pool (which may be taken more often, with 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter as extended prereqs). The monster feats provided, Aberrant Creature and Determined Spell-like Ability, both made me cringe a bit – the latter lets you roll 1d20 upon using a SP – on a 15+, you don’t expend it, with 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding you a +1 bonus to the roll. Yeah, I wouldn’t allow that anywhere close to player hands. Aberrant Creature sports this gem “You are now classified as aberrant in creature type.“ as part of its rules-text. Rules-language, this is not, young padawan.

The pdf does contain one archetype, the mire champion, who gains bonus languages, adds Knowledge (nature) to the list of class skills and draw their spells from the druid spell list, using the unchained summoner spells known charts. The archetype sports this puzzling sentence “Mire champions gain bonus spells and adjust saving throws using their Wisdom score and its modifiers. They are thus classified as ‘spontaneous casters’“ – that’s not how you designate prepared or spontaneous spellcasters; the saving throw bit is confusing at best and, newsflash, Wisdom-based casters are more often prepared spellcasters than spontaneous ones. Just as an aesthetic aside. The whole defensive array of abilities is replaces with fast healing while in contact with soil (sans limits – urgh, but works only sans armor) and the archetype replaces the 8th level monster feat with constant speak with plants. Not a fan of this archetype – it feels rushed in more ways than one.

We get a metric ton of favored class options for Porphyran races, which is pretty neat – however, the +1/4 evolution pool options are significantly better than the others; I am also not the biggest fan of the crit-confirmation-boosts with natural weapons, though at least the non-stacking caveat with Critical Focus there does help a bit.

The pdf comes with a nice little bonus file – the Dragon mite, penned by Perry Fehr, which represents a CR 1/3 Diminutive vermin that infest dragons! Yep, dragon parasites! The cranky dragon actually has a reason to recruit the PCs, as they delouse the creature from its potent, energy-blasting mites! Oh, and guess what? We get a cool dinosaur variant as well. These don’t have the energy shenanigans, but do inflict salmonella…ew!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level – the rules-language, for the most part, is concise and clean; while I would have liked to see a couple more prereqs/interaction elaborations here and there, the presentation per se is solid. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard, is printer-friendly and comes with purple highlights. The artworks for the class and the bonus critter are in full-color and rather neat. The pdf, strangely, doesn’t sport bookmarks, which represents a minor comfort detriment.

I enjoyed Aaron Hollingworth’s abomination more than I thought I would. I have seen quite a few evolution-based shifter-classes and this one’s focus is sufficiently distinct to make it stand out…a bit. You see, this may just be me, but after having played Darkest Dungeon, I did kinda hope that this would be a two-mode class; you know, with rampage tying in with the evolutions. As written, the components of the class, while not bad, are pretty static. It would have imho been more interesting to provide ability suite a) in normal mode, ability suite b) in rampage mode. But that’s just an opinion and will not influence the final verdict. Similarly, I think that going full-blown horror-adventures with the fear-rules, sanity etc. could have yielded a thoroughly compelling, unique engine here, one that would have set the class more distinctly apart from its brethren.

What will influence it, though, would be the sudden drop in rules-language integrity when it comes to archetype and feats, which frankly struck me as puzzling. That being said, the damn cool bonus critter does make up for those shortcomings, at least to an extent. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Abomination
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Archdevils of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/08/2017 05:19:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyran books on potent entities clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, this pdf should come as no surprise to anyone who read the Caster Prestige Archetype series – much like the installment on Demon Lords, there is a class in that series that ties directly into the portrayals herein. The archdevils within this pdf come with full Inner Sea Gods-level of support – this means that we get a reprint of the Deific Obedience feat as well as 3 boons per archdevils to add some customization options to the respective worshiper.

The respective archdevil entries mention not only favored weapon, but also favored instrument and favored animal. Domain-wise, the Big chief Sathax gains 4 (as well as 4 sub-domains), with the other archdevils gaining 3 domains and subdomains, respectively. There is one exception to this rule, but I’ll get to that later. It should also be noted that each of the respective archdevils comes with a spell-preparation ritual and, obviously, an obedience. But yeah, Sathax – this fellow, the Grand Archdevil, the snake in a robe is elitist – and in the grand tradition of archdevils, his cult and worshipers emphasize quality over quantity – no wonder, the 3rd boon lets you 1/month, on full moon nights, beseech the archdevil for a wish – not a big fan of making this a Diplomacy check with just a single DC – a more modular DC would have been more elegant here, but that is just a design-aesthetic complaint – since the boon is restricted, I have no issues with its massive power.

The Chained Queen, born from a tryst between Sathax’s deceased wife and the god Kamus, the divine child has become ruler of her own empire, courtesy of Sathax’ grace in the face of pristine logic. Subversion, self-flagellation and “just following orders” are leitmotifs for the lady. Nice dressing: A rosary-type linked chain that acts as a means to depict rank in the church.

Duke Melektus is all about seeming; about appearances over substance; the fellow is the tarnished child of light, twisted to lead the mortals astray – from blood-letting to other quak-remedies, he is also the patron of healing – though of healing that is tainted; the boons reflect that really well, with e.g. parasitic powers. Truly unique and flavorful write-up!

Duke Mastema, Khan of the Asherake, is the second son of Sathax – bold where, Melektus is subservient. He chose to rise through the ranks of devilkind and sports only contempt for mankind, preferring more powerful races – he is the concept of merit blended with elitis on a racial basis. Nice!

Duchess Hadriel is the firstborn of Sathax, mistress of domination. Her mere presence enslaves mortal minds and she prefers females to males, causing some consternation in hell’s hierarchies. Ambitious beyond belief, she hopes to claim proper demi-goddess-status…and she is slowly getting there, with calculations and a focus on myth/planning serving as a backdrop to her boundless ambition. Ibolis is Sathax’ ally – at least as far as that is possible for a being of pure darkness, the master of singularity. Mysterious, intriguing and shrouded in a veil of secrecy, the arch-devil is not part of the family of Sathax, but he is sufficiently strange to act as an intriguing wildcard. Now, I did mention the offspring of the grand lord of hell’s wife before – this demigod and archdevil would be Kram-Hotep. He is really interesting, embodying the fear of dying, of being lost in the fabric of history. Mortality, to be remembered – his Twilight-Pyramid and unique flavor most assuredly make him stand out – he seeks not souls, but slaves. Courtesy of his status, he does gain 4 different domains, not just 3. All in all, I enjoyed all of the archdevils presented herein.

The pdf then proceeds to depict a variety of infernal magic items – framed by some prose, we get 8 different items: Books of Infernal Extortion contain names – monsters and beings identified can then be commanded, even at range via e.g. whispering wind – on a failed save, we have a curse on their hands…nasty! At 8K, pretty inexpensive, but the evil nature should keep it out of PC hands. Hopefully. Cloaks of fiendish recovery allow the wearer to crouch down, becoming invisible. They can reveal themselves in a puff of smoke and provide limited spell recovery. While only usable once per day, I wished that the activation action was more precise than “crouching down” – not a big issue, since you can research that, but yeah. Coins of corruption are lucky for LE beings and hamper the healing received by others. Really cool!! The Cube of Kram is a twist on the Hellraiser-cube, tied to Kram-Hotep’s domain – it can be cheesed…by intention! You see, that’s part of the fun here and actually comes fully codified in rules regarding responses taken. Cool!

Flails of humiliation cause nonlethal bonus damage versus foes with resistance and immunity to electricity – nice one. I can see devils enjoying this. Rod of cynical duality heals targets, but also shatters objects – and it MUST alternate. There’s a price to be paid, I guess… The Sceptre of Seven Circles is an artifact – the rod of the king of devilkind and allows the wielder to command legions of devils. Finally, superior’s rings are really creative: You designate a target in sight before initiative is rolled; Your initiative is set at +1 higher than the target. Amazing! While very potent in mythic contexts, it can actually help NPCs defeat the rocket launcher tag-strategy. In regular contexts, it most assuredly can be a puzzling, fun item to stick on foes. All in all, a really cool magic item section.

The pdf also contains new spells: The Blessing of Sathax fortifies your d20-rolls with Charisma-modifier 1/round. Commision Pergensia Bodyguard nets you a powerful bodyguard – not to fight for you, but to keep you from harm. Well. Devils. You’ll better shore up on your logic skills. Enforce fate can only target a foe once per 24 hours: The caster rolls 5 d20s and the target has to use the results in the order determined by the caster. NASTY! Hard darkness is basically a darkness and solid fog crossover. Hotep’s Inexorable Pyramid is a REALLY creative variant of forcecage. Love it. Odious betrayal is also really creative: It penalizes teamwork sharing and similar support with damage and negative conditions – powerful, but requires the set-up of a creature under a compulsion. Really cool. Summon petitioner slave is self-explanatory. The spells cover the occult and ACG-classes as well, just fyi.

Next up are two new subdomains: Betrayal is a subdomain of Evil – it allows you to steal the AC of allies. Nice idea. The blackmail subdomain of the knowledge domain ties in with lorekeeper and allows you to penalize foes. Caps for the subdomain abilities prevent abuse. Nice. There also is the cold domain, with a numbing touch and later, an aura of cold. Nice. Next up is a whole page of traits. These include 1/day causing a target to lose 1 point of initiative. Bonus types are, with one exception, concisely codified and the traits are meaningful without being overpowered.

The final page of this pdf is devoted to the Suppligon devil, a CR 8 goat-thing with 5 flaming eyes in pentacle-form. Yeah, damn creepy! The stats are solid as well – huge kudos!

The pdf also comes with a bonus-pdf, also penned by Perry Fehr, which depicts the Rancor Daemon (CR 14): Warlords with huge, mantis-like claws, whip-like tongues and massive swords, they look incredibly badass, are commanders that get better when supported by nearby daemons– and sport neat, solid stats – big kudos for a really neat bonus critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language, I noticed no true glitches herein. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a ton of artworks: Full-color symbols for all archdevils and the monsters also get amazing, full-color artworks – all original and damn cool! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

When Perry Fehr takes his time to properly craft his material (or when his glorious ideas are properly streamlined by a good developer), something beautiful happens. This is a prime example of such a case. This pdf is refined, professional and amazing – the archdevils all sport at least one unique angle; they breathe the proper flavor. The obediences are creative.

Creativity. That’s something you can find in pretty much all of Perry’s pdfs, but here, the creativity is paired with proper, careful execution, marrying the art and craftsmanship aspects of design. In short: This is an inspired, amazing pdf I wholeheartedly recommend. Oh, it’s also, much like all of PDG’s books, open content. In short: This deserves being supported. If you enjoy the infernal and need some great tools, then check this out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Archdevils of Porphyra
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The Raider
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:47:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The Raider base class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted, that layout adheres to the A5-digest-size (6’’ by 9’’). All right, let’s take a look!

The raider’s base-engine provides d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. Proficiency-wise, raiders are proficient with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor, but not with shields.

The key ability of the raider would be grandstand, which is gained at first level. The ability is used as a move action that is taken upon hitting a target with a melee attack. The raider then proceeds to roll an Intimidate check to demoralize the target hit – on a success, instead of demoralizing the target, the target gains one point of three different things: Fury, cowardice or spite. For every 5 that the raider exceeds the DC to intimidate the target, it takes another point of the one selected. A creature can accumulate a total number of points of either of these 3 choices equal to 1 + 1/3 the raider’s class level. Multiple raiders grandstanding the same creature are tracked separately. Grandstanding is an emotion-based, mind-affecting status. The points are lost either when used or upon ending the encounter – personally, I really dislike the “per encounter”-ending (insert my long, and by now, tired rant of how a fixed duration after combat elapsed makes more sense…). It should be noted that these points, on their own, do not really have an effect, but interact with the other abilities of the class.

Now, you have probably realized three things at this point: 1) 3 different resources? Sounds pretty cool! 2) Oh wait, move action to activate? 3) Intimidate as a basis for their accumulation? We have two wonky bits here: Number one would be the basis on skill check instead of skill ranks – pretty much any player or GM can rattle off a series of magic items that provide serious, huge skill bonuses, which renders the math prone to breaking. Add to that the fact that 2nd level yields +1/2 class level to Intimidate… You get the idea.

Secondly, the strict and costly activation action required by the grandstanding ability means that you’ll be limited in the builds employed – the class practically forces you down the Vital Strike path. As an aside: These issues can be fixed pretty quickly; make grandstanding based on skill ranks, impose a hard cap on the number of grandstanding checks per round and/or decrease the activation action required – it should be noted that the hard cap is required to prevent abuse when using builds that focus on amassing a lot of attacks…but let’s see first what the class otherwise does with this foundation.

There is another issue here: Raiding party. Gained at 2nd level, the ability allows you to expend an immediate action whenever a creature holding at least one point of strife, fury or cowardice is reduced to 0 hit points to make an Intimidate check against all creatures within 30 feet of the defeated target. All creatures thus intimidated count as grandstanded and gain the same type of point as the defeated creature had. Hand me the kitten, will you? No, I’m not kidding. Scream at the kitten, walk into enemies, kill it – voilà, much quicker AoE-grandstanding. This needs a kitten-caveat. Badly.

If grandstanding is the resource-accumulating resource, the gunpowder of the class, if you will, then prideful strike would be the fuse. Upon making a melee attack against a target currently holding a point of fury, cowardice or spite, the raider may decide to declare the attack a prideful strike – this must be done prior to attacking. If the raider hits, the target loses all accumulated points. For every point of fury thus accumulated, the target takes 1d6 + the raider’s Charisma bonus (minimum 1) untyped damage. Why untyped? Considering the value of DR and resistances, making the damage untyped is wonky. The Cha-governed bonus damage also is a bit weird – is that added to the total as usual, or per die? Thirdly, how does this interact with critical hits? No idea.

Cowardice that is triggered imposes a stacking -2 penalty to atk, CMB and weapon damage rolls for Charisma bonus (minimum 1) rounds. Spite that is triggered instead imposes a stacking -2 penalty to AC, CMD and saving throws for Charisma bonus (minimum 1) rounds. A raider can only trigger points she herself heaped upon the target. Okay, so fury is better than the two debuff options. Reliable damage that may or may not multiply on crits? Yeah, probably preferable to the debuff options, unless you’re fighting against a powerful foe, though the latter two are significantly more interesting. Here, we also encounter an issue with the proposed fix of grandstanding: If the points can be accumulated more quickly, you’ll need to cut up the benefits of the respective tricks here.

At 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the raider chooses one of his three grandstanding resources. The maximum number of such points that a target can have is increased by 1. At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the raider gains a bonus feat chosen from the list of combat and teamwork feats. As a capstone, the raider gains +2 Str, Dex, Con and Cha and there is no longer a limit on the maximum number of points of one resource of grandstanding that a target can hold.

Obviously, the class also has some choice – these would be Raid tactics, the first of which is gained at 3rd level, with every 3 levels thereafter yielding another raid tactic. Saving throws against raid tactics, if applicable, are against 10 + ½ the raider’s class level + her Charisma modifier. The raid tactics can e.g. be used to add a Will-save penalty to cowardice. Analogues for other saves are provided as well. Clouded fury hampers concentration – and should probably state the baseline for the concentration roll – I assume 10. Critical pride is weird: When confirming a critical hit with a prideful strike, the raider adds his critical hit multiplier to her Charisma modifier to determine the effects of prideful strike. What does that mean? More points gained? No idea how this is supposed to work.

Determined glory adds Strength modifier to Intimidate to give one type of point – because that skill is not easy enough to cheese already. Embarrassing grandstand is a tactic that should imho be part of the base class array – the raider chooses a point type; when a creature misses the raider, she may grandstand by expending an AoO to put the selected point on the target. Similarly, resilient grandstand lets you expend AoOs after succeeding a save to grant the creature that prompted the save one point.

Grand party makes the already ridiculous raiding party worse – 2 points per slain kitten. Honed pride gains +1/4 class level to attack with prideful strikes – which are the only attacks the raiders will probably execute – this improves, de facto, the BAB beyond full BAB-progression. Inept purpose is broken, courtesy of the skill-based base mechanics – increase the DC by 5, but grant the target one point of two different types, +1 point for both types for every additional 5 by which the raider beats the DC. Compare that to getting Weapon Focus and being treated as a fighter for prerequisites. Yeah, the internal balancing of these is really weird. The tactic that lets the raider ignore immunity to mind-affecting effects with his grandstanding, but only to grant the target spite.

All in all, A cool idea, though the execution leaves something to be desired. The class also comes with archetypes: Amazons lose grandstand in favor of gaining glory points when using aid another (which improves at later levels) – no choice there, just one point resource. When the amazon successfully crits, all creatures with glory points within 30 ft. lose the points and heal, based on points and critical multipliers. Hand me a bag of kittens to bash to death. Infinite healing. Sloppy. The raid tactics of the amazon are unique and all work with the glory resource – including granting herself glory, DR, etc. – doesn’t change the infinite healing exploits and instead heaps on them, which means this one is never getting near my table. Ghosts of the Haunted Seas are cowardice specialists and may perform attacks with ranged weapons within 30 ft. for the purpose of accumulating points. References to e.g. ghost touch are not properly italicized. There is a tactic that allows for the use of firearms thus…which is redundant, since RAW, they already can be used…oh, and damage escalation. Because the one thing firearms need, is more damage.

The pit-bloodied of Jheriak would be the fury specialists and basically represents the gladiator-turned –raider. Missed chance here: Performance combat. Reavers lose medium armor proficiency and can’t inflict cowardice. Their harsh upbringing can provide some movement/environmental adaptation…but lacks the activation action. Half-rakshasa riders of the plains are fury specialists that gain a mount and the option to share teamwork feats with allies based on fury. Per se cool, but since the range is sight/hearing, multiple such raiders can grant serious arrays of feats. Temple soldiers use Perform (oratory) to cause foes to gain hubris, allies to gain faith. These can be used as AoE buff and debuffs, respectively. More talents and abilities building on this duality can be found for the archetype.

Treasure hunters are basically…Indy. You gain the whip, luck-based abilities to negate crits, better Acrobatics – you get the idea. Wavebreaker hobgoblins are spite specialists and can inflict bonus damage (here, thankfully, based on the weapon’s type), taking the same amount of damage (unless criting). He also can poach some rage powers.

The pdf also includes feats, 8 to be precise. Extra Raid Tactics is self-explanatory. Gladiator as Raider nets you temporary hit points upon removing fury. Harsher Upbringing improves the ability of the reaver. Raiding Nomad buffs you when removing spite. Raiding Viking does the same for cowardice. Pious Preacher and Pious Redeemer enhance the options of the temple soldier’s grandstanding variant. Shoot the Swordsman lets you add cowardice to enemies when killing foes with firearms…hand me those kittens…

The pdf sports a ton of favored class options, though their balance is a bit questionable: +1/2 to atk with prideful strikes (sometimes tied to weapons, sometimes to creature types), is imho further overkill and significantly better than other options. The +1 ft. movement speed FCO lacks the “has no effect unless taken in increments of 5”-caveat, but that is just nitpicking. On the plus-side: A lot of the cool Porphyran races are covered.

The pdf also sports 4 magic items: The helm of fury increases the fury limit (or +7 (!!!) rounds of rage, and 1/day +2d8+10 damage on the next melee attack. Damage type? Also: Ridiculously strong for 14K. The ring of spite can add 1/day bane to a target hit and enhances spite. Also has synergy with the brujo class. The torc of cowardice enhances, bingo, cowardice…and nets dreads using it +3 terror uses. Ouch. Finally, there would be an artifact version of the ark of the covenant – which, alas, lacks rules on how to open it, just the devastating effects of doing so.

The pdf closes with Ghendis Raar, a half-rakshasa rider of the plains (CR 5) and his mount. The pdf comes with a bonus file penned by Perry Fehr, which contains the mighty xexenagh qlippoth – a threat that clocks in at CR 16: Think of these as maddening, demonic Giger-esque super Aliens. Deadly and a welcome addition to the pdf!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: Apart from precious few hiccups on the formal side of things, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. Art is sparse, but nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This was frustrating for me. You see, I pretty much adore all things Norse; I’ve devoted a significant part of my life to studying Scandinavian culture. I also am a big fan of melee classes that do more than just hitting things with a pointy stick. The raider scratches all of these itches, but at the same time, it suffers from a lot of issues, not in the presentation, but in the very design of its features.

At this point in time, the thoroughly exploitable nature of skill-checks as base mechanics is no secret; the reliance of the class on this mechanic ultimately means that its very foundation is flawed. Similarly, the balance between the class options available oscillates between “should be part of the chassis/ridiculously strong” and shrug-inducing ones. The idea of the system presented here, let me make that abundantly clear, is AMAZING. I really like it.

The execution, however, shoots itself in the foot: Since your are very constricted regarding your attack options, you need cheese AoE tricks to accumulate the signature points; you’re forced into the Vital Strike path for damage and, at higher levels, can use aforementioned AoE-options to generate very crippling debuffs. I don’t object to the latter, mind you – I object to how the class requires a very specific playstyle to work. And the kittens. It’s been a while since I saw a class that begs, this thoroughly and needlessly, to be exploited for quicker AoEs to reduce the set-up period, for infinite healing…in short, from a design-perspective, I absolutely loathe the execution.

The class, needlessly, in my opinion, hamstrings itself time and again – the base engine can be made much more solid, but the questionable balance between the follow-up abilities prevent a quick fixing of the material. In short: I think this class needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up. Not because it is badly executed or presented, as is the case in most of such instances, but because it needlessly cuts down its own potential, buries it in weird and/or problematic restrictions and decisions.

Do I believe that this class can be fun? Yes. There most assuredly are groups out there that will enjoy what the raider brings to the table. It is playable as written. But Sasha Hall and Perry Fehr had the potential for a truly amazing class here…and that, the raider is most assuredly not. For that, the issues in the finer parts of the design are too numerous and grave.

That being said, I also don’t think that this class deserves the slap of a 2-star verdict – which is why my final rating will be 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Raider
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Demon Lords of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2017 05:45:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyra-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, the first thing will only come as a surprise to those of you not following the Prestige Class Archetype-series – namely the reprint of the (as far as Paizo hardcovers are concerned) Deific Obedience system from Inner Sea Gods, which is a big plus from the get-go. The demoniac, for example, made use of the materials herein. Anyways, we thus gain an expanded deific portfolio for the respective demon lords depicted within this book: Being the default obedience benefits, three boons are provided for all of them. It should be noted that, yes, domain arrays are internally concise – 3 domains, 3 subdomains. No undue discrepancies here, with the exception of the Spider-queen stand in, who gains 4 domains and subdomains. As a big plus, I should not fail to mention that each of the demon lords depicted within features his/her/its own spell-preparation ritual…and the favored weapons and animals/instruments noted in the respective demon lord summaries add a sense of immersion to the proceedings. At the same time, there are some minor, cosmetic hiccups here and there – the first demon lord’s alternate titles sport one that has erroneously been printed in purple. There also is a remnant formatting (b) before a correctly bolded spell-preparation ritual - you get the idea. On the plus-side, these are cosmetic and don’t impede the functionality of the game.

Well, if you’re like me, you’re here for the demon lords themselves, right? Well, we begin with Ayporos, the Counter – also nicknamed Mr. Blue, for his irrational fondness of the color, which extends to his signature narcotic Deep Blue…after all, the demon lord’s favorite weapon, the syringe spear, makes pretty clear that addiction’s the name of the game…and his clerics like to indulge…and to tattoo themselves. Balakor, the corpse-king, the unrepentant. Once the lord of the city that should not have been, fabled Bhaal-aak. Dispossessed, angry and driven into exile, his works crumbled to dust, wailing and a palpable sense of being cheated out of one’s due power adds a complex and interesting angle to the necromancy/living ghoul-theme of this demon lord – big kudos for managing to provide a fresh take on a trope that features in most campaign settings. Big thumbs up!

Buer, a classic from mythology, also comes with a rather enticing idea that I have NEVER seen before for a demon lord: The Giver, the Extinctor promises the ecstasy of a return to the wild, to a more primitive state of being. Oh, and his boons include the option to curse an area in a forest – those that linger suffer suicidal urges – NO SAVE. While this is very potent, its limitations are enough to reign it in and the ability is evocative indeed.

The Dark Mistress, an ascended succubus with ties to the movers and shakers, is interesting. Oh, and there is Gomm-Thog. All about destruction, this guy would be the demonic equivalent of the Incredible Hulk, defined by smashing and breaking stuff and violent, deadly rages. There would also be aforementioned spider-queen stand-in, Kazerothrine – who becomes somewhat interesting as an embodiment of hungry and destructive motherhood. The Lord of Many Forms is actually something different altogether: Imprisoned in the Crucible Tower, this entity has gestated from the amalgamation of a living seal made of nobles and proteans – a demon lord created and ripened, if you will,a being of pure chaotic malevolence, rather than just a large blob from the Abyss. Morcheox would make for another highly unconventional and cool demon lord – here, we have the trope of the demonic moon. IT alone (no typo!) makes for a potent foe that strikes the chords of the Sword & Planet genre, apocalyptic fiction and classics ranging from Final Fantasy VIII to 3.5’s Elder Evils in a rather neat manner. Naehemoth, an ascended Qlippoth lord, makes for a cool twist on old Nyarlathotep, though with a focus on madmen and forbidden lore. Perhaps it’s the symbol of the deity (each demon lord gets his/her/its own custom, full-color symbol!), but I was reminded more of the malevolent, inscrutable entities behind the Blair Witch, as heralded in the little-known Rustin Parr-sequel to the cult classic video game Nocturne. If you got that reference, my hat’s off to you, btw.!

Pasiphae would be one of the most interesting demon lords featured herein – the mistress of puzzles, is about unsolvable, nasty puzzles – and her obedience focuses on playing with a perception-defying puzzle. I absolutely ADORE this one. Why? Because the destruction of PERCEPTION is supremely creepy to me…and not something I have ever seen a demon lord focus on. Big kudos! Good ole’ classic Pazuzu can be found within, as can Tajam’muhur: This fellow is the lord of the despondent masses housed in squalor, the lorded over and downtrodden; he is the master of the mob, the cruelty of the masses that manages to eliminate any semblance of decency. Notice something? These are really creative. Thurin’Waethil, the bloody marshal, She Who Weeps, was defeated, but certainly not destroyed. Her boons include a hampering of mundane means to stabilize others and her desire for blood and vengeance make her an intriguing being as well. Yog-Muan would be the God-Killer, a reptilian demon lord that is a twist on Yig, with the added emphasis on killing deities – in a world, where they may rise and fall, this makes sense to me and provides, once again, a creative divergence from the default tropes. Zaqqit, the Fallen, is the epitome of the fallen angel – once a solar lord, he swells with pride and power, but also arrogance and hubris, cultivating a decadent sense of superiority.

Beyond these amazing, creative demon lords, we also get a wide array of new magical items (with some mundane ones spliced in) – here, we can find the angel-heart (exactly what it says on the tin…), which can bolster the summoning of demons and even be bartered away. The Kitab al-Sahar Shaytan, the book of demon lords, is amazing, idea-wise – it is basically the in-game representation artifact of this book: It contains the information on demon lords presented previously as well as the new spells featured herein. It also is hazardous to keep if you’re not a demon worshipper…and as an artifact, it makes for a dangerous tool indeed. Buerite unguits, which may ricochet, the magical drug Deep Blue…and I like the demonpelt cloak, which provides a variety of defenses, but only temporarily…and switching between them is a cool tactical option. Khadeg’s capturing pentacle is a temporary means of trapping demonic foes. When the ladder of the pit is inserted into desecrated ground, it can provide a means to get into the Lower Planes. There is also one item that is somewhat problematic: The lash of the legion conjures a dretch when doing damage – only 1 per target and the wound may not be healed without dismissing the dretch. Now, on a formal level, the “+1” should be IN FRONT of the magic weapon properties, not behind it (and nope, most of the items get that right). Secondly, the weapon should specify that it requires sentient beings to conjure dretches. While kittens can’t be whipped well due to the weapon’s unholy ability, slightly stronger animals to be herded and whipped can result in ridiculous legions due to a lack of a maximum cap of dretches called.

Thurin’waethil’s personal blade, Revenge’s Tear and a ring that fortifies against the potent auras of celestials complement this section. Now, as mentioned before, we also get a selection of new spells, which btw. come with full ACG and Occult Adventures compatibility. The signature spells note their associated demon lords and are, generally, rather potent. There are some minor formatting deviations – “Int” instead of “Intelligence”, slightly non-standard rules-syntax…but on the other hand, the spells actually do cool things: Gomm-Thog (the Hulk Demon Lord) comes with the signature spell concussion, which causes bludgeoning damage and Int damage on a failed save, scaling with damage caused (nice balancing), and enough subsequent casts may cause Intelligence drain. Really funny: The verbal component is actually shouting the alternate name of the spell: “BONK!”

A sneaky movement redirection curse deserves special mention as a creative and cool spell as well. All in all, I was rather impressed here: While a bit rough around the edges here and there, the spells featured are creative. Or take hubris, which begins as a buff and then proceeds to devolve into a debuff – really cool for sudden betrayal scenarios! Ultimate Weapon allows you to create a custom weapon, somewhat Green Lantern-style, and may modify it – personally, I think e.g. adamantine should be locked behind higher levels – more pronounced scaling among the effects would make sense here. Unfortunately, there also are a few instances where the rules are slightly compromised: Vengeful Tears causes the caster to bleed, but also makes those suffering regular attacks from suffering bleed damage. Two problems: The wording in clumsy, but more importantly, it is pretty evident that the bleeding damage should stack, which it RAW does not. Easy enough to fix, sure, but still.

Next up would be array of various subdomains/domains: Anarchy, Betrayal, Borders, Genocide, Porphyrite, Ruins, Spider and Verminkind: These and their abilities, as a whole, sport some seriously inspired tricks: Shifting ACs, drawing potent borders in the sand…but there also are some rough patches. The Genocide domain, for example, sports this sentence: “…as an immediate action, when any creature is killed within 30 ft. of you, you gain a caster level when casting spells against fur­ther members of that creature’s type for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom bonus.“ This almost assuredly decreases the CL. I assume it should be a CL-bonus…but if that’s the case, then the bonus frankly is too high and should be nerfed in favor of a scaling one. The ruin domain’s Remembrance ability refers to druid levels.

Finally, we close the pdf with new traits for worshipers of demon lords – a LOT of them. And they generally are pretty nice. That being said, it almost looks as though multiple authors wrote this: We have precise traits with proper trait bonuses etc. We have a few remnant (i)s from intended, but not executed italicizations and some traits lacking the proper bonus type. We have really complex wording done right and potentially confusing, wonky verbiage like “You may class Knowledge (geography) as a class skill…” – we know what’s meant, all right, but you don’t “class” skills as class skills – for obvious reasons. It should also be noted that the traits do not state their trait type. We conclude the pdf with a summary of demon lords, with worshipers, domains, subdomains, etc. all collated on a handy table.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak, one depicting “The Watch”, an eye-king otyugh who clocks in at CR 6 – think of these things as a beholder-y/otyugh elite law enforcement unit in the Advent Imperiax. Yeah, pure awesome!! Two thumbs up for this cool critter!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a rules-language level, okay on a formal level. While there are more easily caught glitches here than what I’d consider good, it’s a big step up in comparison to the author’s previous offering. Rules-language is mostly functional, with only a few instances I’d consider to be problematic, though there are some herein as well. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column standard with purple highlights. The full-color icons of the holy symbols are really cool – two thumbs up. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr is an inspired author. I’ll stand by that statement every day of the week. Alas, his rules-language tends to oscillate in quality rather strongly: Sometimes, he gets highly complex and evocative, creative concepts done right…and sometimes, he botches really basic stuff. This pdf highlights all of these observations in a rather succinct manner: The demon lords are absolutely amazing. I mean it. In a tradition so old, with so many iterations, he weaves narrative gold and really creative, innovative and flavorful concepts. As far as the concept-side of things go, this is a 5 star + seal of approval file – I adored the demon lords and while there are a few rules-hiccups here and there, they are minor ones. The magic items also are pretty strong offerings…and honestly, so is the rest of the book. However, similarly, the editing and formatting glitches do accumulate and drag down this pdf from the lofty perches I’d place it otherwise.

With a bit of nitpicky editing and/or development, this could have been a master-class pdf. Here’s the good news, though: A halfway capable GM can fix the issues herein pretty much on the fly, at least for the most part. And the high-concept content deserves being used – this is worth owning. If you’re looking for a go-play supplement, this may not be for you, but if you want to read some really fresh and creative takes on demon lords, then this can be a truly inspiring offering. This is, in short a diamond in the rough, with avoidable glitches hampering what would otherwise be pure awesomeness. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform based on the strength of the amazing concepts as well as the inspired bonus file.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Lords of Porphyra
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4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/26/2017 10:13:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first expansion for Purple Duck Games‘ neat 4Saken-horror-game clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, ¾ page blank, leaving us with an impressive 39 ¼ pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper.

All right, so this is the first (of hopefully many!) expansions for the 4Saken horror-game and it focuses, surprise, on the ideas and rules required to depict plots of satanic possession in the context of the game. Now, unlike many other supplements for various RPGs, the focus of this supplement is not on depicting the influence of untold legions of fiends of varying dispositions – instead, we’re focusing on THE Devil. The singular force of evil.

As such, we first take a look at means to classify these tales in 3 different categories, all of which come with helpful classics, should you find yourself requiring some inspiration. The categories are 1) Possession/Exorcism, 2) Devil Spawn and 3) Summoning. After discussing these sub-genres and their general structure, we move on to take a look at the backgrounds and instincts most suitable for the genre of devil-based movies: Very good choices, okay ones and not so great ones: Particularly Bargainer and Monster should be avoided, though we make up for this by getting new backgrounds: These include Cop (+5 Fortitude and Awareness after spending Trait points, can go above 19, and gains basic Ranged Combat and Vehicles as well as +2 Contact picks), Priest (+10 Trait points for mental attributes, can raise them beyond 19, +2 contact picks, gain Clerical Respect – he can defuse volatile social situations), Reporters (+5 Awareness after Trait points are spent, can go over 19, gain Artistry (Writing) and Investigation, Perception or Streetwise on basic level for free and gains Favors; may spend 5 Luck to treat an NPC as a Contact once), Theurgist (+10 Willpower after spending Trait points, can go above 19, gains Lore (Occult) specialty for free, +1RS with ritual magic/powers). All in all, a cool, fitting selection, though e.g. Trait points are inconsistent in their formatting.

We also get new instincts: Experiencer, Desperate, Despodent and Observer – all come with their own bonuses and penalties, with often interesting uses of the table for the orange and red results. Gifts should be limited to mundane ones to keep paranormal or psychic gifts from changing the intended mood. After this, we take a look on the rules governing the respective stages of the script: The director gains extensive guidance regarding the three stages of possession, and how to depict them – from slow and steady ramping up of the creepy to a quicker, more action-focused progression, the considerations depicted here are nice. Rules-wise, the Devil establishes his Menace Factor by channeling infernal energy through the possessed: Each incident costs Infernal Energy while attempting to reduce the victim’s Willpower – the lesser the Willpower, the more the possession progresses. The Devil starts at a whopping 50 Infernal Energy and limits are imposed: The devil can’t just attempt to whittle down the Willpower of the victim as fast as possible: Just one check per day, which is btw. resolved as a Fear check versus Instincts, with Infernal Points spent as Menace Factor – success not only triggers the instinct, but also lowers the target’s Willpower…

Attacks similarly cost Infernal Power…and know what’s interesting? This system means that the Devil becomes more likely to succeed later, but also constantly makes the Devil more vulnerably. This is an interesting trick, rules-wise. Extra effects that trigger fear, but are NOT part of the base attack, do not count for the purposes of Willpower reduction, btw. – this adds another interesting strategy to the proceedings. Obsession effects are qualified and quantified next, with effects organized by stage and each effect sporting the respective costs in Infernal Power: We have apportation, cold spots, ghost sounds, obfuscation, unnerved animals in the Obsession stage. In the Oppression stage, we get infernal visage, inflict slashes, rabid animals, tech failure, violent apport. Finally, in the subjugation stage, we have infernal storms, speaking in tongues, unnatural movement. All in all, this presents all the classic tools a director could ask for, though I do wish we’ll get a couple of more specialized uses of Infernal Power at one point.

With ritual magic being a central component of the genre, we take a look at the structure of it next: Rituals require Expenses, time, intensity (the color the caster needs to meet with intelligence on the Master table) and Costs – these represent the cost to the caster’s Willpower, Luck, Life or Fortitude. From mesmerism to abjure evil, to summoning hellbeasts, we get a couple of examples for the relatively easy to grasp system.

Exorcism works pretty much like an inverted possession – only one attempt per day, and the ritual takes longer, the further it has progressed – the Intensity obviously increases as well. The ritual requires serious cost in Willpower, which means that yes, you will probably need multiple characters joining forces. Beyond the frightening nature, exorcisms also require Exhaustion rolls. Relics and true names can provide an edge for the exorcists. After we have codified the mechanics of exorcism in a tight manner, we take a look at the forces of hell next.

In this chapter, we mention the marauders and gain stats for devilspawn (Stats for childhood and puberty included!), infernal animals, summoners and tempters – all the cool basic things you’d expect.

The pdf ends with the basic outline of 3 story seeds, which may be connected to form a cool trilogy – and in case you’re wondering, they do include strange…things found and focus on three connected, but radically different set-ups. No, I am not going to SPOIL these here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level – I noticed a few minor formatting inconsistencies, but these are few and far in between and did not impede my ability to grasp this book’s content. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard and the pdf sports a couple of really nice, original pieces of full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Don Walsh and Brett Neufeld provide a really cool expansion for 4Saken: The mechanics employed for devilish possession can obviously be expanded beyond the confines of the genre; the backgrounds and instincts work well in conjunction with those presented by the core game book. There is a lot of guidance for the director, a lot of cool material crammed into these pages – more than I expected.

In short: If you’re enjoying the 4Saken-game, then this pretty much represents a must-own offering. Beyond the aforementioned minor hiccups, there is not much to complain about. Now personally, I would have enjoyed to see more of the outlier abilities and some suggestions for tweaking the strength of the Devil – to e.g. represent lesser demons, other demons, dark gods, etc. But then again, that’s not really a fair complaint, considering the focus of the book on the infernal big, bad guy. As such, I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
4Saken Cinema: Devil Films
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Fighters of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/18/2017 04:13:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ „..of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages, though it should be noted that these are laid out for digest-size. When printing them out, you can fit up to 4 on a single page, providing your eyesight’s good enough.

Anyways, we begin, somewhat surprisingly, with global rules for fighters in the Porphyra setting: Fighters get 4 + Int skills per level (a houserule I also use) and only take a -2 penalty when wielding weapons sans proficiency. If a fighter’s Intelligence is less than 13,, it is treated as 13 for the purpose of combat feat prerequisites. They also halve the time to Craft armor, weapons and ammunition. Fighters can inflict lethal damage with unarmed strikes (but still suffer from AoOs). The one modification I have a problem with would be that two-handed weapons dealing slashing or piercing damage also deal bludgeoning damage when wielded by a fighter. This can make DR-interaction etc. pretty confusing and further devalues the two-handed bludgeoning damage. Also weird: They get a bonus skill point each level – I assume that’s intended to be in addition to the ones granted by the 4 + Int-modification, but it feels a bit clunky nonetheless.

Okay, so those global rules out of the way, let’s take a look at the archetypes herein! The first of these would be the anticavalier, who treats all two-handed weapons as though they had the trip special quality and they get +2 to Trip-attempts against quadrupedal creatures. 2nd level, they add the brace special weapon quality to two-handed weapons and +4 to CMD versus overrun. 5th level becomes a bit problematic, as they start treating two-handed weapons as reach weapons with -1 to atk, losing the penalty at 8th level. 6th level adds the deadly special property to such weapons. This replaces the bonus feats gained first, 2nd, 4th and 6th level.

The second archetype would be the giant killer, who replaces bravery with selective immunity against intimidation and fear caused by giants. 3rd level replaces armor mastery with (untyped) bonuses to Reflex saves and a dodge bonus to AC against a “larger creature’s area effects.” That’s problematic. Sure, the creature needs to be one size-category larger, but since you can play Small characters, what would be situational can pretty quickly become always-on – pretty sure that exploit for Small characters has not been intentional. Cool: Instead of making a secondary attack, the giant killer can move 5 ft. Okay, does that count as a 5-foot-step? I assume no, which means it provokes AoOs, which renders the ability less compelling. At 10th level, we have the capacity to overrun larger creatures, causing falling damage on successes – which is pretty cool, but the rules-language is a bit wonky, speaking of “giant humanoids” – does that mean the subtype? Or does it refer to a size category? No idea.

The immortal is an archetype specifically for the amazing Zendiqi ethnicity, one of my favorite cultures on Porphyra. The archetype is restricted to the planet-touched, genasi-races (i.e. those associated with the 4 elements) and zendiqi and these guys only get 2 + Int mod skills per level. They are proficient with light and medium armors, shields (excluding tower shields) and simple and martial weapons. The archetype begins play with a ramah, a special spear or longspear with a silver tip. At 6th level, this is upgraded to adamantine. The second item they get is the tiarah (a better name would have been nice), a sacred blinder that nets +1 to saves versus visual, auditory, sonic and language-dependant effects that increases to +2 at 11th level, but imposes -1 on Perception. This replaces the ability to make unarmed attacks lethal from the global rules. The archetype inflicts +1 energy damage with successful melee, ranged or unarmed attacks per 4 class levels, with the type depending on bayit or race. At 7th level, the archetype is locked into Leadership and can grant adjacent allies a +1 shield bonus that scales over the levels. Cool flavor, less than interesting benefits.

The janissary loses proficiency with heavy armors and shields in favor of firearms. He also treats scimitars as light weapons, falchions as a two-handed light weapons. Okayyy…that doesn’t work as written. Per definition, light weapons are used one-handedly and may be used in grapples. Two-hand wielding light weapons does not increase the Str-bonus to damage, so how does that interact with a falchion? No idea. Instead of bravery, the archetype gains a scaling bonus to saves vs. enchantments. Circular thrust’s ability-name has no5t been properly formatted and replaces armor training and mastery with a scaling atk-bonus while fighting defensively.

The Lone Wolf loses the armor training ability tree. When narrowly missed by an attack, the archetype inflicts minor damage on the target’s weapon (which is damn cool!) and takes unarmed/natural weapons into account. At 7th level, rolling natural 1s when facing these guys also nets this damage and an AoO. 11th level increases the damage mentioned and so does 15th and 19th level. At these higher levels, failed maneuvers can also trigger the ability, and a shield bonus or gaining the benefits while one-hand wielding a weapon complement this one. This archetype is the first herein I consider interesting - while I wish there had been done more with the engine, the idea is intriguing.

Pawns begin play with less starting wealth and only simple weapon/light armor proficiency. When gaining a bonus feat, they also gain a character trait, and are exempt from the limiting rule regarding multiple traits of the same category. 3rd level yields a scaling dodge bonus to AC 5th level nets a bonus to atk and damage equal to the difference between the character’s CR and that of the opponent faced – not a fan, since the ability’s pretty meta-gamey. 9th level lets him treat all simple weapons as a weapon group, which he may select.

The primeval loses heavy armor and martial weapon proficiency, but gains Improved Unarmed Strike. In a mind-boggling confusion, the archetype also gains slam or claw attacks (not codified) that sport a monk’s unarmed damage scaling. This shows a profound lack of understanding between unarmed strikes and natural attacks – they are NOT the same. 6th level yields an immediate action AoO-less combat maneuver when critting targets with a natural attack, which is upgraded to hitting at 10th level, provided both natural attacks hit. At 16th level, crits provide action-less maneuvers and one maneuver needs only one attack to hit.

Spellfighters add Knowledge (arcane), Spellcraft and UMD to the class skill list and lose proficiency with all armors and shields. They gain spontaneous spellcasting based on Charisma…of UP TO 9TH LEVEL, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list. WTF. Or, as the pdf says: “Like wizards and sorcerers, spellfighters are 9 level spellcasters.”[sic!] – sure, they “only” get abjuration and EVOCATION spells, but really? The magus over there? He’s weeping in the corner, even before weapon group: touch spells wrecks the rest. The math of these already is wobbly; adding full BAB and it completely falls apart. Just NO.

The varonis gains simple and martial weapon proficiency, + one exotic weapon of choice as well as light armors, but no shields. They have a good idea: Adding damage to combat maneuvers. Alas, the rules-language of the base ability is a total MESS. “As a standard action, when making a successful combat maneuver check with which they also have an “Improved” feat, they may also add the weapon damage of the melee weapon they are wielding at the time of the combat maneuver.” As a standard action? Add “weapon damage”? I tried hard to puzzle out how this is supposed to work. I have not the slightest idea. I have a suspicion, but the rules-language is so messed up, I can only guess. While the ability tries to clarify bonus damage dice, it fails to account for magical special weapon abilities…Non-operational RAW. The archetype gains a scaling dodge bonus to AC, minor skill boosts, scaling atk and damage with AoOs and at 8th level, scaling DR...which also applies when making a Reflex save? WUT?

The elisud hybrid class is next. It needs to be LG, is a hybrid of paladin and fighter, has 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency in all armors and simple and martial weapons and shields, excluding tower shields. 1st, 2nd and every 4 levels thereafter yield a fighter bonus feat and treats class level as fighter levels for prerequisite purposes. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. They also treat Intimidate and Diplomacy as one skill, akin to the Middle Kingdom’s codionic knights – that was wonky back then and still is. How does that interact with skill boosts? Skill unlocks? 5th level nets Signature Skill: Sense Motive.

He also begins play with a morale bonus equal to ½ class level to Sense Motive. Okay, at first level, is that rounded down? They also get +2 to all saving throws – again, a morale bonus. And guess what: All morale bonuses of the class stack with each other. At 3rd level, they gain, bingo, a morale bonus to saves versus fear and diseases equal to ½ class level. At this level, they also get ½ class level + Cha-mod morale points, which may be expended as a swift action for a +2 morale bonus to ANY d20-roll, not only for the elusid, but also for an ally. Fun fact: Since they stack with each other, multiple elusids can do really ridiculous things…5th level yields +1/2 class level to saves versus illusion spells and spell-like abilities. I assume that to only pertain to illusion SPs. 8th level does that for charms, 11th for “chaotic spells and SPs”, 13th for “necromantic”…URGH. 17th level for evil and compulsions…The issues are so apparent. Beyond failures to properly clarify the effects, these abilities only yield boring numerical escalations.

5th level yields weapon training. 7th level allows the character to impose a minor scaling penalty on a threatened foe as an immediate action. 19th level yields DR 5/- while wearing armor or using a shield and the capstone prevents being unarmed when wielding an “instrument of justice” – whatever that’s supposed to be in the context of the class. It also renders immune versus alignment changes and being forced to violate them. Whoop-die-doo? This is the worst hybrid class I’ve read by PDG. It is BORING, has no identity of its own, is surprisingly wobbly for how basic it is…No. Just no.

The pdf also mentions the idea of feat slicing – i.e. halving the benefits of a feat, but gaining two instead. I don’t even have to explain why that’s a bad idea, considering the very basic notion of prerequisites etc….right?

Okay, so, next up would be new mundane pieces of equipment – like the Folly Kit – which allows you to heal 1 hit point as a full-round action, holding up to 100 hit points worth of healing. 300 gp., but still…Why isn’t this properly tied to Heal and Healer’s kits? There is a helm that grants a headbutt attack and lacks a damage type and treats it as a bite, which can be all sorts of weird. On the plus-side: Flammable clubs? Cool idea! Is it its own weapon or is it treated as a club? There is some coolness here, though: The concept of hybrid weapons with additional modifications is pretty cool, if explored only in a rudimentary manner– still, I’d like to see a book based on that idea at one point, though one that should get some very careful looks regarding balance.

The pdf closes with a section of magic weapon qualities and items. Here, we have gems like this: “An opportunist weapon allows the wielder an immediate attack on its opponent if that opponent rolled a natural 1 on any of its previously attempted attacks upon the wielder.[…] The wielder can make as many opportunistic attacks as there are natural 1’s rolled against him, but only 1 response attack per attacker.” I THINK I know what this tries to do, but the rules-language has some serious issues. Curving weapons further marginalize shields. Almost funny: The brand of balance, a blade that generates a constant antimagic field around its wearer. It’s a magic weapon. Yeah. It doesn’t work RAW. The spell reads: “Likewise, it prevents the functioning of any magic items or spells within its confines.” Pricing also is a bit weird in the section. And while there are other magic items here, I’ll cut this short right now.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, the Blindbraun monster by David N. Ross – CR 2, undead dwarves with a horrid wail and a blinding gaze. Easily the best part of the whole deal!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good. On a rules-language level, there is something left to be desired here, with quite a few wording issues that influence rules-integrity. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ 1-column standard with some nice full-color pieces, though fans of PDG may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

After the fantastic “Witches of Porphyra” (get it!), the previous installment, and after reading Aaron Hollingworth’s amazing Vessel hybrid class, I went into this file with a smile on my face, expecting to find some cool material herein. The global rules sounded promising, providing some nice tidbits to modify.

I don’t know what happened. I really don’t. The archetypes are lackluster at best, focusing on bland modifications and when they don’t, they do not properly capitalize on their ideas. I consider not a single one of them to be compelling; there are some gleams of interesting ideas here, but they are few and far in-between. The hybrid class one ups that – it is insulting. As in 1-star- or-1.5-star-bad, with the only analogues being the early Wayward Rogues Publishing offerings – their later material is better, if still problematic. The hybrid herein lacks any agenda, identity or care – it is lackluster filler of the worst sort, a class that manages to be less compelling than both of its parents.

Unfortunately, the rest of the supplemental content doesn’t really improve that much – while the unmitigated low point of this book is the hybrid, the other material isn’t close to dragging this up to levels where I’d consider it possible to recommend this. I try hard to see the positive in even flawed designs, but this pdf’s content, for the most part, looks like the author simply had no interest in writing a fighter-book, cobbled something together and went on. The fighter needs good options. Interesting abilities. And there are some herein…but the execution of these is lackluster as well.

I am, as a whole, a fan of the class-centric installments in this series – there are some amazing gems to be found. This is not such a file. In fact, I’d strongly suggest skipping this one. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, saved to being rounded up by the bonus-pdf. Purple Duck Games deserves being supported: They give a chance to new talent and often deliver some really amazing books – the installments on samurais, witches etc. are awesome – get them instead. Heck, if you want to support the author, get his cool Vessel class instead. But steer clear of this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Fighters of Porphyra
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Heroic Rings
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/13/2017 04:22:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ inexpensive pdfs clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content. It should be noted that the content is formatted for digest-size – you can fit 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this. Let’s take a look!

We begin with the extremely potent (over 3K price) circle of the sage sentinel – it may only be used by someone with a trait, ability etc. that grants a bonus to saves vs. fear or immunity to fear, The ring nets the benefits of mage armor, overland flight at will and several X/day abilities, ranging from 10/day magic missile to 1/day crushing/grasping/forceful hand – as a minor complaint: Their activation could be clearer - I assume defaults, but one could argue otherwise. The ring requires that the wearer swears anew to uphold the ideals of justice each day, charging the ring with light – yep, this is a variant of the Green lantern ring.

Fans of Star Trek will enjoy the decoder ring and Grimm rings allow for the use of elemental body III. Jungle rings duplicate the gorilla form of beast shape II, while the signet of the legion Aeris nets constant fly, a bonus to Fly-checks and 1/day sending to other wearers of the ring. Twin rings of wonder are tied to one another and only work when used together – kudos for getting the rules right there. Finally, the wardrobe ring can store an outfit and be dressed in it as a swift action – cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed a double “s”-typo, but no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard. The pdf has rudimentary bookmarks for start and end – kudos.

Jacob Blackmon’s rings are solid. They won’t blow your socks off, but for the low asking price, the pdf is worth checking out if the rings mentioned intrigue you. A nice, unpretentious collection – my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Heroic Rings
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Psychic Disciplines of Porphyra II
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/11/2017 05:42:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second pdf of disciplines for Porphyra clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf is laid out for digest-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’) – you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, should you choose to do so.

Most of the psychic disciplines herein employ Charisma as governing attribute for the phrenic pool – as such, I’ll explicitly note the two disciplines that use Wisdom instead.

The first of the disciplines would be Dance, which covers, bonus spell-wise, the gamut from feather fall to overwhelming presence. It nets Perform (dance) as a class skill and ½ psychic level, minimum 1, as a bonus to he skill-checks. Amazing: You can make an immediate action check to dance to fortify allies against sight-based magical effects. Starting at 5th level, you may substitute Perform (dance) for Acrobatics and Fly and 13th level lets you replace thought and emotion components with the somatic component of dancing, but at the downside of potentially incurring spell failure. Meaningful, creative and cool ways to influence the gameplay – huge kudos!

The second discipline would be fear, beginning, unsurprisingly, with cause fear and offering cruel jaunt and the like later. The focus of this discipline is cool: You are still affected by fear, but it hampers you less – really cool: You can elect to be affected by effects causing the shaken condition and instead of the condition’s normal effects, even gain a buff – cool tweak on the condition and, once again, a meaningful way to customize the character – particularly for darker, grittier games this one can be cool for a player who wants a character that is not impervious to fear, but who learns to harness its powers.

The heroism discipline nets you proficiency with 2 martial weapons, or one exotic weapon of Improved Unarmed Strike and makes the psychic basically a Way of Life practitioner (see PDG’s underappreciated, nice martial arts sourcebook "Unarmored and Dangerous") – but fret not: The relevant rules are provided herein – you don’t need that book to use the discipline. Higher levels yield Uncanny dodge and its improved brother. Once again, meaningful tweak, with spells ranging from mage armor to deflection and heroic invocation.

Kyudo would be governed by Wisdom and focuses, unsurprisingly, if your Japanese is up to snuff, on archery and precision, netting Precise Shot, proficiencies, starting equipment and a cool mechanic: Scoring critical hits against targets with bows replenishes 1 point of your phrenic pool. Better yet: The ability can’t be kitten’d due to a HD-cap – kudos!! You may also replace thought or emotion components with focus or somatic components while wielding the bow. Spells with a range that is not touch or personal, nor has a cone-shaped AoE may be delivered in the form of ghostly arrows, using the bow’s range increment instead and starting at 13th level, the discipline allows for the replacement of both thought and emotion components. Once again, really, really cool!

Mascot nets you a familiar or animal companion (Improved Familiar may not be taken) and sports, spell-wise, the usual array of animal-themed spells, from speak with animals to animal shapes, with e.g. planar refuge included as well. However, to prepare spells, the discipline requires touching the mascot. 5th level yields a Will-save bonus when sharing a space with the mascot and 13th level allows for the sharing of the mascot’s evasive abilities. Perhaps that’s the otaku in me talking, but while this one isn’t mechanically brilliant, it does make me recall some anime I really enjoyed…I can see that one being the default caster role in some campaigns.

The final discipline, Void, is once again based on Wisdom and would be the second discipline centered around the concept of a psychic with moderate capabilities in WuXia-like contexts – with spells like anticipate peril, transformation, mind blank and akashic form, it certainly works that way. Particularly since it provides the second tie-in with “Unarmored and Dangerous” – the psychic using this discipline is a Way of the Void practitioner. Once again, the full rules required are presented herein. Higher levels yield evasion and its improved version, respectively.

The pdf sports a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak, where we get, on the two pages of content, Sirani the Favored, a level 1 (CR 1/2 ) dhosari paladin. Nice bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch: Apart from one instance where the size category “Small” was lower case’d, I noticed no hiccups – and that one is cosmetic. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf and bonus pdf sport no artworks apart from the cover, but at this price, that’s totally fine with me. Amazing: The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. BIG kudos!

Carl Cramér second foray into psychic disciplines lacks all my criticisms of the first one: Each discipline herein is meticulously precise, offers a strong theme for both role- and roll-playing and, more importantly and impressively, a meaningful change in how the psychic class operates. In short: This is a truly impressive little gem. Oh, and it costs a ridiculously low $1.50. Seriously, I have read a lot pdfs with 20 times the word count and less cool ideas. Oh, and yes, if you’re looking for a way to make the psychic fit into an Asian context – well, then this should be considered to be a must-buy. Even if the Asian flavor of some disciplines doesn’t do it for you, they’re one name-change away from fitting into pretty much any setting. Inexpensive, creative, precise – 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psychic Disciplines of Porphyra II
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Purple Mountain II: Desolate Dwarven Delve (DCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/10/2017 09:31:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second level of the conversion of PDG's old-school dungeon delve in the Purple Mountain is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/patreon-thanks, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with 34 pages of content. The pages are formatted for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit approximately 4 pages on a sheet of paper if you’re trying to conserve ink/toner.

All righty, first things first: While this is obviously level 2 of a mega-dungeon, the pdf does come with advice for judges to use the dungeon presented herein as both a sequel to level 1 (including some troubleshooting advice) and as a stand-alone offering. Being dwarven-themed (no spoilers there-it’s literally in the title!), the adventure’s potential hooks also include this means of tying it to the interesting AL 3 Waystation location, a stand-alone, interesting little drop-in locale for DCC.

Judges should be aware that the module does present its basic environmental rules (doors, illumination, etc.) in a concise manner, including potentially slippery fungus that covers parts of the dungeon. As in the first installment of these, the pdf does feature both regular random encounters and special random encounters, though the latter are less diverse this time around.

Also not spoiler-territory (since it’s part of the hooks and provides no real advantage for the PCs to know), but very worth noting: This module does feature gremlins. While they are a much loathed staple in PFRPG, I was pretty interested to see what Daniel J. Bishop did with them, particularly their aura of bad luck – and frankly, I was positively surprised to see the mechanics make good use of DCC’s peculiarities. Indeed, this dungeon being more conservative in how it is set-up, we have quite a few critters, including otyughs, converted herein.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Still here? All right!

Having jumped in the meat grinder/waste disposal shaft in the temple of the vermin lord and being received enthusiastically by a hungry, young otyugh, the PCs enter what once was a nice little Dwarven colony - unfortunately for the PCs, emphasis lies on the "was" - the colony was wiped by a manifold threat – an infestation of dark ivy (aka yellow musk creeper – a plant monster that generates zombie-like servants from the slain); there is a cadre of gremlins haunting these halls…and the slain dwarves have returned as nasty, undead versions of themselves, so-called blindbrauns.

That does not mean that there is just hostility to be encountered, mind you: In fact, there is a troglodyte hermit (who also represents a possible tie-in to the excellent Silent Nightfall module) and Pallcap, a faerie-like shroom being, both of which may be helpful when clearing out this level…or they may prove to be more obstacles to vanquish – in short, this is a dynamic dungeon with a couple of mini-factions. Special note deserve the gremlin-cursed waters with their diverse effects and the detailed, dwarven machinery, which has been rigged, trap-style…and yes, these interconnect.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, while I did not notice an undue accumulation of glitches, I did encounter a couple of minor conversion relics, where the way in which some rules work still felt a bit Pathfindery. These are not jarring and not something you’ll find often, but purists may be slightly annoyed. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard with a white background and purple highlights. The pdf does sport several full-color artworks that are nice, if not all glorious. The cartography is okay, but annoyingly, we do not get a player-friendly map, which is particularly jarring, since the map contains the pipes of the dwarven machinery, representing a SPOILER of sorts when handed out to the PCs. Also annoying: Out of some strange reason, the pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a serious comfort detriment.

David N. Ross’ installment of the original version of this level was my least favorite installment in the whole series and Daniel J. Bishop’s conversion, alas, didn’t change much here. The DCC-version of this module feels, theme-wise, surprisingly like standard fantasy. It is a faithful conversion, but compared to level 1, whose themes were closer to those of DCC, level 2 feels overall less inspired. If you’re like me and expect a bit more of the weird and extraordinary from DCC, then this may strike you as a bit vanilla.

If a bit slightly less outré fantasy in your DCC campaign is what you’re looking for, then this should deliver. That being said, the lack of both player-friendly map and bookmarks, serve as two major hamstrings for what already was the weakest installment in the series, and without them, I frankly can’t go higher than 3 stars. That being said, judges: Even if you do end skipping this one, stick with the series: As someone who has run all modules in it, let me tell you that the next levels will be amazing treats indeed if the conversion holds up!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain II: Desolate Dwarven Delve (DCC)
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Oracle Mysteries of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/05/2017 04:22:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyra-expansion books clocks in at 17 pages,1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for booklet-size – 6’’ by 9’’ (or A5), which means you’ll be able to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, provided your eyesight’s good enough.

All righty, let’s not dilly-dally and dive right into those mysteries, shall we? This humble pdf contains no less than 5 complete, new mysteries, the first of which would be ascension, which, unsurprisingly, focuses on ascending to a nascent divinity. The class skills granted would be Climb, Fly, Intimidate and Swim and from illusion of calm to create greater demiplane, the spell-selection makes sense. Among the revelations, we have darkvision (including stacking caveat AND scaling improvements at higher levels that are tied, really smart, to alignment – evil oracles can see in magical darkness, while non-evil ones also gain low-light vision and scent – cool!), a limited use energy blast, scaling DR (with an appropriate level-cap), natural weapons (that are properly codified – HECK YES!), resistances, telepathy…and the ability to grow wings (which begin as humble levitate and improve to proper flight, retaining the soft balancing mechanism of flight). The final revelation provides at-will greater teleport. Immaculate, makes sense – two thumbs up!

The celestial mystery nets Fly, Linguistics, Perception and Perform and focuses on the traditionally “good” spells like dispel evil and, alter, even holy sword. Sounds boring? Sounds like “been there, done that”? Well, what about infusing a small area with planar traits? Creating difficult terrain via heavenly meadows? Overcoming alignment restrictions (and undetectable alignment at higher levels?) or firing balls of sparks that can be separated into smaller blasts? This one represents a minor confusion, though: You can use more than one daily use to increase the affected area, but the pdf fails to specify by how much. On a nitpicky side, it’s electricity damage, not electric damage. Still, the options that are here are surprisingly creative!

On the other end of the alignment spectrum would be the Infernal mystery, which nets Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (nobility) and Survival. And no, it is no lame alignment-flipped version of Celestial; while planar infusion is also here, we have the ability to tap into the pits and barriers of hell, rendering targets flat-footed. We also get the ability to infuse hellish power in weaponry or cause painful bursts of hellfire – minor complaint here: Reflex should be capitalized.

Nimbus surrounds you with the energy of light or darkness, focusing on a ref-fluffed array of force effects, represented, spell-wise, by the gamut from mage armor to crushing hand. The revelations include making weaponry ghost touch and indestructible by means short of disintegration. The mystery also nets a potent force-damage touch attack that can later by used as a limited use AoE-blast. The revelation also nets scaling negative conditions, though the save to negate these and halve the damage as well as the alignment-based nature of the ability keeps it from becoming too much. SPs (dark or light), scrying – as a whole, a creative mystery.

Finally, there would be the pontifex mystery, which nets Knowledge (arcane), Linguistics, UMD and Intimidate – it focuses on conjuration, bonus spell-wise, beginning at summon monster I and scales up to greater planar binding. Here, things become interesting – these guys can choose the terrain control options of hell and heaven alike and even generate abyssal terrain. Constant planar adaptation, including the option to use it as an SP at higher levels and quicker summoning of an outsider subtype and limited use flexible energy descriptor changes make for yet another interesting spin here.

And then there’s the bonus pdf: The Bosch Fiend, penned by Mark Gedak, a nightmarish thing reminiscent of Hieronymus’ visions. Or rather, a massive plethora of critters. You see, this is basically a “Make your own twisted thing”-toolkit, with 3 menus of abilities and 9 (!!!) sample stats provided. The bonus pdf sports 9(!!!) pages of bonus content! And I really love the critter’s concept. Seriously, worthy of being upgraded further!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level and very good on a rules-language level: While I noticed a few minor hiccups, they did not compromise the integrity of the rules. Similarly, not all wordings are perfectly smooth, but they work. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf has no interior artworks, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér’s oracle mysteries turned out to be a pleasant surprise: Theme-wise, they didn’t exactly elicit excitement from yours truly, but that changed pretty quickly once I started looking at what they offer: Instead of rehashing bland standards, the little pdf manages to generate some actually unique, fun options beyond what you’d expect. Add to that the more than fair price, the glorious bonus pdf and frankly, the minor flaws pale to the point where I feel justified in rounding up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars to the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Oracle Mysteries of Porphyra
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