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Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/15/2018 05:36:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure/environment clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 56 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue…because I wanted to. Post-apocalypse is a genre that is not employed as often, and Goodman Games’ Mutant Crawl Classics provides a unique twist on the subject matter…and, unless I am sorely mistaken, this may well be the very first MCC 3rd part adventure released!

Structurally, this funnel is a combination of a sandbox that allows for a wide variety of different outcomes, and a more story-driven experience. It can be run as a straight fire and forget module, but arguably can provide more playtime by virtue of its free-form set-up. The module does include read-aloud text for the regions visited, and provides guidance with sample answers to likely questions posed in NPC interactions, making free-forming these conversations easy for judges usually not that well-versed in portraying such interactions.

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

..

.

Okay, only judges around? Great! So, after the Great Disaster, Sammy Squirrel’s Smart Toys went dark, as the AI running the place went into power conservation mode to weather the centuries. When Servitors of a bored Star Child found the store, it reactivated – and combat ensued. In the centuries since the Great Disaster, the neural consciousness had been severed, allowing the Smart Toys to gain consciousness. Pilgrims, in the meanwhile, followed the “Star” of the Servitors, encountered the toys and promptly began worshiping them as gods. Not all sentient Smart Toys liked that, and thus, further fragmentation and shenanigans ensued…but that’s not all. Amoral and bound to the program, the Sammy Squirrel began substituting organic components in the creation of new toys, giving rise to Toy-Borgs and abominations. It is into this chaos that the PCs stumble.

That is a recipe for delightful chaos, and the AI acting as it does makes sense; plus, the Freddy Fazbear-like style of Sammy on the cover immediately gave me the creeps, big time. Now, if all of this seems like it’s a pretty large amount of things to decide and room required to make the factions work, then you’d be correct. However, the module does not leave you alone as a judge; instead, and this is a big plus regarding replay value and unique adversaries: Each faction comes with an at-one-glance summary of goals, leaders, noting leaders, allies and the like at one glance before providing details regarding the faction in question. Moreover, these do include, for example sample stats for members. These stats, however, do not just come with the basics, oh no! Each of the factions comes with tables to customize the aesthetics of the adversaries and NPCs encountered, and in some cases also provide more detailed customizations with MV values included, to give you just one example.

Beyond the factions I noted, there also are the Dollies, who want to make the store presentable once more; there are the Furries, which are led, no surprise there, by a bear. I’m having 5 Nights at Freddy’s flashbacks right now. In an adorable and really cool twist, these guys do have a weakness – hugging them makes them hug back! This can really generate some bizarrely-hilarious “AWWWW”-moments. Unique abilities of e.g. the Servitors, Sammy’s holograms and mechanically-relevant Toyborg modifications to customize them… all of these details are bizarre, weird, and oftentimes hilarious in a way…plain and simple, really cool. Oh, and guess what: The module does account for the means of using a Toyborg as a replacement PC! (A similar option is noted for toy worshipers, fyi!)

Now, the module sports a rather significant array of toys, and as such, it uses Artifact Checks, but for toys, these do not require the expenditure of Luck, which adds to the leitmotif of whacky playfulness suffusing this adventure, allowing the PCs and players to experiment with penalizing them for doing so. The sandboxy support goes so far to have tables suggesting two-faction or multi-faction encounters, with the respective tables further making the actual use of the module easier. The module presents its sandboxy aspects thus as comfortable for the judge to implement as you can potentially demand from a module.

This level of customization options also pertains to the amount of hooks that the funnel provides. It is this amount of tweaks that ensures that the module’s factions and environments may remain relevant beyond the scope of this adventure.

That being said, this is nonetheless also a story-driven module, and as such, it begins with an introductory scene, wherein the PCs happen upon mula-a-pedes (with their own mutation table!) and thus happen upon the buried toy store – this choice of location also allows the judge to potentially bury the place sans bigger impact on the setting or seamlessly plug and play it into ongoing campaigns, should such a solution be desired. After all, the extensive customization tricks ultimately do translate to the module being pretty easy to organically scale to higher levels.

Anyhow, the PCs are greeted by the slightly mad Sammy Squirrel, who obviously is an AI hologram in its decidedly unnerving following of programming and inability to process the state of the world of Terra A.D. As the PCs proceed to explore the store, they can find a wide variety of unique toys that come with evocative descriptions and rules-relevant effects, with TLs and CMs noted as appropriate. From smart boomerangs to zeroballs and hoverboards, another man’s toys may be a wasteland survivor’s potent tricks. Encountering the toy worshipers (led by, obviously, Ma-Ma…), finding the seasonal room of the store that can indeed change, med-bay (featuring boo-boo bandages, for example…), fake and real traps…there is a ton of stuff to find and encounter, and indeed, quite a few quests can be unearthed by encountering the diverse factions. Sarge and his toy soldiers, for example, want to secure the store from the invasion that they know will come. Mister Bear, the leader of the Furries-faction has a slight temper, which makes the sample dialogue one of the most hilarious examples of writing I’ve seen in a while – picture it, and then remember that hugging the fellow will make him hug back. Regardless of short fuse and a somewhat less than enthused relationship with regular folks and moderates – damn meat-huggers! XD (For the information of real life furries – this is not fursecution; it is not mean-spirited...unless you want to run it that way!)

This glorious absurdity encapsulates and captures a tone that is hard to get right without losing the thrill, without devolving into just fun and giggles. Ultimately, it’s the oscillation between what’s funny and what could be played as downright horrific that makes sections like this so successful within the confines of the adventure. This can also be aptly envisioned by the second level, where a room has Sammy (who makes for a great judge-proxy; bonus points for inhaling helium before speaking as Sammy…): “These pods let your parents make a backup copy of what they value the most: YOU!...” This notion of kids being clones by potentially neglectful parents in a pre-apocalypse dystopia…actually managed to send shivers up my spine, particularly since the system isn’t (and perhaps never was) reliable. Pet-combiner is another such super-science aperture that really creeped me out, and its undone button is broken…

Heck, this tightrope-like oscillation of tones that makes this work so well, combined with the attention to detail, is pretty impressive throughout. Candy with weird effects and notes on using them as nutrition (and the consequences!)…those are just a couple of examples.

Where I frankly started to stare in disbelief at the pages in front of me, was when the module provided the Game Room. Here, the PCs can enter a holo-dungeon (complete with a d7-table of holographic character classes!) and basically roleplay a fantasy roleplaying game within the roleplaying game. Yep, including adversary overlay and obvious further adventuring potential – as Sammy Squirrel, GM, notes, they can always get the full experience! Questing for new levels or simulations could make for some great adventure hooks and may well allow for a combination of MCC and more traditional fantasy games or even the blending of systems! After all, it’s perfectly feasible that the hologram game played may adhere to different rules! Or, well, you can just have that be a brief, if fun encounters wherein the PCs battle illusory adversaries…but why waste this vast potential? I mean, you can roleplay MCC-PCs roleplaying usual characters! That can and will be funny as all heck!

Did I mention that PCs can well become sleeper agents, and that the module can conclude in a truly amazing free-for-all bout of epic proportions?

Conclusions:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a nice and printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple high-lights. The artworks presented throughout are often really neat full-color pieces, but the aesthetic highlight for me personally would be the GORGEOUS b/w-isometric maps, with artworks, details and grids all noted…and even better if you’re, for example, playing via VTTs or the like: In contrast to the (amazingly beautiful) Good man games maps, the maps within actually do come with an unlabeled, key-less version! You could print them out sans SPOILERS, cut them up and hand them out or use them in VTT. That is a huge plus for me, particularly considering the top-notch quality of the maps.

While Keith Garrett has, to my knowledge, contributed to the Gongfarmer’s Almanac community ‘zine before, this is the first of his books that I have read, and it’s his first release as sole author. As such, this would have received a freshman bonus and some leeway from yours truly. However, Mutants in Toyland is a rarity among such books in that it frankly doesn’t need me to be merciful.

Even if I wanted to pick this apart, it would withstand such attempts, as it perfectly encapsulates the outré and outrageous, wild and weird tone of MCC, walking the narrow path between being horrific and hilarious. You could run this for laughs and giggles, as something utterly disturbing or a combination thereof; tonally, this reminded me of the essence of my favorite Fallout-series moments, distilled and expanded upon, and then injected in a concentrated form.

Mutants in toyland is a furious debut of delightfully quirky and quarrelsome factions and places that will stay with you long after the adventure itself has ended; in fact, I can see this acting as a really cool and novel starting settlement or PC homebase of sorts!

If what I mentioned above, if the concept even remotely interested you, then you will want to checks this out; I’d even go so far as to recommend this module beyond the confines of its system, for the unique concepts work just as well in DCC or any other game. This is one amazing book and provides yet another super-impressive entry in Purple Duck games’ DCC/MCC-lines. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval – highly recommended!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mutants in Toyland (MCC)
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Rogues of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2018 07:15:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the player-facing „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 30 pages of content – and yes, regular-sized pages!

This book is intended with both the classic and unchained rogue in mind, using brown text to denote content devised for the unchained rogue. The pdf begins by acknowledging the issues the rogue class has, and the ones that the unchained rogue class has. The author does offer some introductory advice for the player, and then begins to present basically fixes for the rogue and unchained rogue class, the first of which would be alternate key abilities, which allow the rogue to choose one of two key ability modifiers to govern their skills, thus reducing the inevitable multi-attribute-dependecy of the class. As an interesting idea, the pdf suggests modified the unchained rogue’s edge to grant virtual skill points in the edge’d skills, which don’t escalate numbers, but instead are taken into account as far as skill unlocks are concerned. I do like this notion. Superior retraining starting at end level and rogue talent replacement make sense. Sneak Attack has an alternative here as well, eliminating precision damage and instead choosing one of the base damage types of the attack for the bonus damage. I assume that this bonus damage still does not multiply, but clarification would have been nice. Interaction with defenses is properly codified, though.

The pdf does suggest a houserule I have been using for years: More skill points for everyone. +2 are suggested; and take it from me, the +2 skills per level will make your roleplaying experience beyond combat much cooler. Speaking of which: This also can be said about the plethora of skill uses codified within the pages of this book – for example, there is a means of analyzing traps, a means of using Disable Device to use demolitions to destroy objects instead of pure Strength, fire starting and extinguishing, making hurdles. Interesting would also be that the pdf champions of only rolling the best Perception check of the observers to counter Stealth. This greatly speeds up the game and is one rule I have been using myself, though I do myself use a variant, where concerted search efforts do accumulate benefits. The write-up does take into account the cases in which it’s important to know who’s observing. Speaking of Stealth: A compounded Stealth modifier table is pretty helpful, and as an optional rule, the unaware condition is suggested as a possible accelerator for faster playing.

There also is a cool section here for avoiding combats: Group and Marathon Stealth can both quicken the process in a nice manner. The pdf also sports no less than 9 cantrips/low-level spells (taking occult classes etc. into account) – these include a weak ray to push objects, conjuring forth ground mist, create a blind spot or tools. One of the spells is there to purge evidence and there is a lower level version of a short-range dimension door. Not the biggest fan of the latter, but that’s a matter of aesthetics. There are 7 new feats that allow for using alternate key ability modifiers, a follow-up for Spring Attack/Shot on the Run, and there is one interesting feats that lets you respond to a charge with an immediate action to retreat. Tower shield use via Pavises is also an interesting one. There also is one feat that lets you add Dex-mod to crossbow/firearm damage – and no, it doesn’t stack with other sources of Dex to damage or Str to damage – kudos and two thumbs up. There also is a Quick Sheathe feat.

The next section is one of the reasons you will want to seriously consider getting this supplement; it’s an example of honest design-work: The rogue talent section has a list of 1st party sources of rogue talents that are suitable for unchained rogues! The pdf goes further, though: It lists talents that should have their daily limits removed, advanced talents that are now available as regular talents and vigilante talents that should be available for rogues. This list is super-handy and keeps the class more relevant. Big kudos! A similar approach was btw. taken for advanced talents, and yes, if you have come to the same conclusions as I did with the progress of the game, then these are very much super-appreciated. The pdf also contains a ton of different rogue talents that offer further options that can become pretty ridiculously potent: Stealth Exploit, for example, lets you maintain Stealth after breaking it until the end of the round, allowing you to reestablish it. I’m super-torn on this one – on one hand, it makes infiltrations for specialists more reliable; on the other hand, a well-prepared group can use this to super-deadly effects and potentially cheese enemies really bad. That is not necessarily an issue of the talent, but rather one of the engine, but yeah. Still, as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this section, and depending on the system mastery levels of your game, this could well be a godsend of a section.

The pdf also contains no less than 10 different archetypes. The first of these would be the arcane adventurer, which is a hybrid of magus and rogue, though here, the sneak spell ability, which is intended to be the centerpiece of what makes this one unique, doesn’t properly work – it fails to designate how it actually works regarding spellcasting and “An arcane adventurer can use sneak spell on an outflanked target even if her spell is not a melee attack.” is just broken. The unchained rogue Brutal loses finesse training and gains a modified proficiency list and Combat Stamina. Solid tweak. Covins are basically mesmerist-versions of the hybrid-y magus/rogue chassis – and it, unfortunately, suffers from the same crucial issue. Everyday heroes get a vast skill list and a limited proficiency list. In a unique change of the engine, the everyday hero gets a scaling confidence pool that can be used to rerolls and skirmishing surges as well as special attacks, so called confident strikes – this pool is btw. easier to refill than even grit or panache, and the pdf does provide pretty extensive guidelines for replenishment. Instead of trapfinding, the everyday hero’s station, and confidence improves later. All in all, this is a well-made engine tweak with a distinct feeling.

Leeches gain good Fort-saves as well as Stalwart at higher levels; the archetype also gets a quite extensive array of unique talents that enhance further the already hastened mundane medicine that the archetype can apply. Using folk remedies to offset negative magical conditions etc. and using either super-quick surgery (or longer ones) for significant Con-damage regaining make this one interesting, particularly for games that make magical healing harder to come by. Mountebanks get a couple of investigator-y tricks and limited spellcasting, focusing on force effects etc. The saint of sinners is an interesting, complex fellow with a bit inquisitor thrown in. The archetype does gain a channel variant that deals damage to living and undead, and while it does note that constructs aren’t affected, the ability states that it’s a blend between positive and negative energy. This is super-problematic, as resistance and immunity interaction of the blended energy is not clear in the slightest, and many beings resistant to one component are also vulnerable to the other. Sneak channel, as a synergy ability, does actually work. The archetype also gains special abilities dubbed hoodoo, and makes for a potent, and interesting. The sapper is an interesting specialist/breach/pavise-user and is pretty neat. Solos are an interesting engine tweak – they sneak attack adjacent foes, but only if they’re not adjacent to any rogue ally. The final archetype is the most complex one – and it is this type of guy many guilds will want: Specialists: Instead of trap sense etc., you get to choose a rogue specialization, with changing later potentially possible.

The pdf comes with the lavishly-illustrated and rather dark crypt mother CR 6 monster, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr. Really dark bonus critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the pdf is, for the most part, remarkably precise, top-tier even. It’s just a precious few instances where the integrity is compromised. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple and brown highlights, and the pdf does feature a couple of nice full-color artworks I haven’t seen before! The pdf comes with EXTENSIVE bookmarks for everything – feats, spells, talents…big kudos in the comfort department.

Carl Cramér’s Rogues of Porphyra is a surprisingly compelling grab bag for everyone that wants to see the rogue upped, power-wise, to the levels we’re seeing right now in PF’s lifecycle. The variant rules allow capable groups to cherry-pick aspects and implement them, and many of these are actually really inspiring, obviously tested and fun. It’s interesting to note that, even as late in the system’s lifecycle as this is, it still does offer novel approaches and some meaningful engine-tweaks. With the exception of a precious few blunders, this represents an excellent book. That being said, these few blunders, alas, do compromise the rules-integrity of a few aspects within, and as such, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to. Considering the amount of interesting options inside, though, I still do consider this to be a pdf bordering on very good. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rogues of Porphyra
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AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/13/2018 14:06:12

I ran this adventure for my group last weekend, and it played very well. I did make one major adjustment. The map as presented is very linear. There are very few choices about which direction to take, and I opted to "un-collapse" a few rubble-filled hallways, providing mulitple options for exploration. In spite of this, the party found the dancing horror fairly quickly, and much to my delight one of the PCs had his skeleton extracted, and was subsequently successful (after significant luck-burning) in growing a new one. There is still another session worth of gameplay remaining.

BHotDH captures the DCC spirit quite well. It is strange, horrific, and funny as long as the players are inured to high-risk, high-reward gameplay. I have had this adventure for around 3 years and had been itching to run it. And it did not disappoint. One great aspect is that after the party defeats the "big boss", it reconstitutes itself in a new form and returns, for a second climactic encounter. I can't wait to spring that on them.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
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Changelings of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2018 10:01:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the player-centric „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this.

Really nice: This supplement is framed by a short story, namely “The Pink Flowers of Saint Zenobie”, previously released in a collection of stories the author penned alongside Cassandra Lee Hollingsworth. The story uses the implied Averoigne-setting and does so with permission. Thanks to the patchwork nature of Porphyra, though, that should provide no problems. The story is a nice reading experience and contextualizes the changelings of the patchwork planet rather well.

Now, here is a huge thing that differentiates the changelings of Porphyra from other worlds: We take a step away from the fey-angle. To quote the supplement: “As infants these beings are abducted, adopted, abandoned, sold, and/or traded, and then changed by magic to resemble a member of a different people.” This, of course, can provide ample fuel for nature vs. nurture storylines, for angles on self-determination of one’s race, gender, etc. and, as a whole, adds a rich variety of narrative options to the fray. So yeah, that small change, while perhaps something that most folks would not even notice, is pretty important to me and enhances the narrative angles available for both players and GMs.

Rules-wise, the chassis of Porphyran changelings is pretty much identical to the base changeling, though, and this is a plus, there are actually aspects that are MORE precise herein: The changelings’ claws, for example, get properly codified damage-types, requiring no defaulting to standards. Kudos for not just cut-copy-pasting here. Indeed, the changelings as presented here arguably make for better representatives of their expanded trope than the vanilla race. Porphyra changelings receive the racial emulation feature: You choose two races: the changeling looks like one humanoid race, but is, in fact a member of the other race chosen. This nature may be noticed by those well-versed in Knowledge (nature). The second racial trait unique to Porphyran changelings pertains the varied nature of the race as well: Upon character creation, changelings get 2 RP that are not assigned. These may be used to customize the race with standard traits taken from Defense, Feats and Skills, Magic, Movement, Offense, Senses and Other categories. While I have complained time and again about the exceedingly flawed nature of the RP-guidelines as presented in the ARG, I consider this limited form of customization actually an improvement over the alternate racial traits provided for the non-Porphyran variant of the race. It may be a flawed foundation to build upon, but the heritage/upbringing dichotomy should provide ample guidelines here.

The pdf proceeds to explain in details the diverse takes on adventuring, roles in society and ecologies of changelings and also sports sample names, age, height and weight tables and even non-gendered names. Since Porphyran changelings obviously have a much broader focus, this makes sense and further emphasizes this interesting and cool thematic expansion of the concept. The pdf also includes a total of 5 different race traits, one of which is missing a bonus type; the others are precise and interesting, providing for example a bonus to Concentration checks made to maintain spells with psychic components. Nice. The pdf does sport 5 different alternate racial traits, which includes damage type change for the claws, turning them into slams, being fey-descended, replacing claws with skill boosts or darkvision with a boost to saves versus illusions. I have no complaints here, and bonus types as well as powers of exchanged tricks are generally in line. The race, as a whole, can be very strong in the hands of a capable player, but it doesn’t have to be; the wide open nature is kept in line by the limited RP-wild card array, and the requirements regarding narrative consistency.

The pdf also includes a couple of class options, the first of which would be the Malcontent arcane trickster, based on the Prestige Archetype core class. This archetype loses ranged legerdemain in favor of +1/2 class level to Bluff and qualifying for Feint feats sans Expertise or Intelligence. Additionally, daze loses the HD-limit, which is a surprisingly interesting tweak on the engine here. Instead of Scribe Scroll, we get Deceitful. Instead of arcane bond, we get Signature Skill (Use Magic Device) and add Intelligence bonus to UMD checks as well.

The changeling bloodline nets Disguise as a class skill and focuses on disguise/alter self and polymorph spells, culminating with frightful aspect etc. Interesting: The arcana makes you ignore armor check penalty when wearing glamered armor – this adds the equipment-based angle to the disguising focus. Bloodline Powers net +1 to enchantment DCs and 1/day charm person as a SP at 1st level. 3rd level nets you 3 + Charisma modifier rounds of claws that may be grown as a free action. Damage is properly noted for Small characters as well, but the damage type requires defaulting. At higher levels, the damage increases and the claws become cunning. 9th level nets Cha-mod times Silent Spell sans spell slot increase. At 15th level, you may, as a move action, start an aura that makes it impossible for you to be individually targets by spells and SPs for up to sorcerer level round per day. The capstone nets either transmutation immunity or +4 save DC versus transmutation and +2 Cha and Dex. Solid bloodline.

The pan swashbuckler replaces Ride with Fly and gains the flight hex at first level, but may only use it while panache is greater than zero. Not a fan of this unassisted flight option at first level. At 8th level, instead of the bonus feat, the pan may expend 1 panache for +1 minute of flight per day. I assume this is no action or a free action. 1st level provides an interesting angle: For every rank in Perform (wind instruments), the pan gets to choose one from countersong, fascinate and distraction. The pan may maintain these bardic performances for class level + Charisma modifier rounds. Minor complaint here: Multiclassing interaction would have made for a helpful note here. The pan only gets 2 deeds whenever new deeds are gained.

Really cool: We get two new items: One handy lore book, and one alchemical mop that eliminates quickly traces of blood! Love this one! 3 racial feats are provided: Spell Rend is OP as hell. When you confirm a critical hit, as an immediate action, you can cast a touch spell on the target sans AoO. This should have limitations regarding casting duration, it should specify whether the touch spell still must hit, and flavorwise, it implies it only works with claws, which it RAW doesn’t. This does not work as intended. Spiteful Strike lets you, 1/day, as part of an attack action, declare a spiteful strike with a +1 morale bonus to atk and damage that increases to +2 at 10th level. This is boring. Strange Humor lets you 1/day as an immediate action apply Charisma modifier to a single Fort- or Will-save. This is the only worthwhile feat here.

The new magic items are thankfully a return to form: The queer egg can crack loudly in the presence of shapeshifting beings, forcing them to resume normal shapes. There is a claw-enhancing ring and there are caltrops that become living spider swarms upon damaging targets – cool! The pdf also contains 3 new spells: Create Changeling makes infants changelings; made from scratch is theme-wise cool: the spell targets a living creature or corpse and transforms it into food. Here’s the problem: The level 6 spell is save-or-die and is thus better than finger of death in all but range. OP, needs nerfing. Topsy turvy should probably be a cantrip, not 1st level. It renders a close target prone on a failed save – for 1 round.

The pdf also sports a metric ton of favored class options for diverse classes, including e.g. PDG’s Brujo and gladiator, illuminates and the classic classes + ACG and OA classes. We end the pdf with a sample level 1 bloodrager changeling.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally really good – with a few exceptions, the pdf is precise in both formal and rules-language categories. There are a few broken components among spells and feats that are problematic, though. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights, and the pdf actually sports nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s changelings are REALLY COOL. I did not expect to like these to the extent I ended up enjoying them. The expansion of the changeling trope makes these feel fresh, creative and novel – a huge plus as far as I’m concerned. The rules-operations similarly represent some neat and fun tricks, particularly among the base racial features and the item array. In fact, this was pretty much en route to getting my seal of approval, when the problematic feats and spells, as well as the very dippable and slightly problematic swashbuckler archetype dragged this a bit down. That being said, for the low asking price, you actually get a really fun expansion for the changeling concept, one that actually will find its way into my own game. Considering the more than fair asking price of just $2.99, this is easily worth getting, in spite of its minor blemishes. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Changelings of Porphyra
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Hybrid Class: Lurker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2018 13:24:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Porphyran hybrid class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 23 pages of content. The pdf is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

So, the lurker? Talk about a blast from the past – the lurker could be construed to be one of the OGs regarding hybrid classes. Premiered back in 3.X-days in Complete Psionics, the psionic rogue has been an interesting concept, but one that had some serious issues. Now, one glimpse at this class will show you something unexpected: The lurker as envisioned by Purple Duck Games is actually a hybrid of spiritualist and soulknife! Now that is an interesting combo, so let’s take a look at the execution.

Chassis-wise, the lurker gets d10 HD, 4+ Intelligence modifier skills per level, full BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The lurker is proficient with simple weapons, her own mindblade (regardless of form), light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The class can form mindblades as a move action, and may choose between light, one-handed and two-handed, which is pretty much analogue to the soulknife. A difference would be, though, that the lurker chooses an emotional focus at 1st level. These provide a linear ability progression akin to a bloodline or a cavalier order, providing abilities at 1st level, and then later at 7th, 12th and 17th level. 7 such foci are provided, and most of them net a bonus feat as well as an active ability at first level. To give you an example, Anger nets Power Attack and the powerful strike ability, usable 3 + class level times per day, which increases the damage die size by one step. 7th level provides the swift action aura that nets +2 to melee atk and -2 AC. Okay…so does the aura have a duration? I assume it needs to be maintained with swift actions, but clarification would be nice. Unlike other auras within, it does not state that it can be dismissed, so a maintenance action cost is implied. Enlarge person (with frightful presence added at 18th level) and a 1/day properly codified wail of the banshee can be found here.

Duty nets Iron Will and an atk and damage bonus versus a target attacking allies. Slightly odd – the lurker gets no control over to which enemy these bonuses are applied and only one may be in place at any given time. 7th level yields an aura that nets +2 to AC, CMD and saves in a 10-ft. aura. Here, the dismissal action is noted. 12th level nets immunity to being flat-footed in surprise rounds, as well as Wisdom modifier to initiative. 17th level provides immunity to possession and mind-affecting effects. Minor complaint – a spell reference is not italicized here.

Despair is unique in that it does not net a feat. Instead, the lurker gets +2 to attack and damage rolls versus targets affected by fear or despair-like effects – the latter are concisely codified, though a spell reference is not italicized. The strikes of this emotion impose a fear/emotion-based penalty to targets failing their saves. Activation and deactivation are noted, and these penalties stack with themselves – to make up for this power, the strike is limited in daily uses. Aura of despair and 3/day crushing despair can be found. The highest level ability eliminates the save versus the strike-debuff.

Fear nets Stealthy and a fear-inducing strike with limited uses; the focus nets an aura that can intensify fear effects (nice). Higher levels allow for increases of the fear-condition imposed. The level 17th ability makes allies in range of the aura immune to fear.

The hatred focus nets Weapon Finesse and the ability to designate a target as a hated enemy. Against this target, the lurker gets +2 to atk and + ½ HD (should be class level) (minimum 1) to damage versus the target. The lurker takes a -2 penalty to atk versus other targets. This is activated as a move action, which is upgraded to the option to use it as a swift action at 7th level. 7th level also nets an aura that inflicts the lurker’s Charisma modifier in damage to those hurting lurker or his allies while within 10 ft. The aura is properly codified. Higher levels net +3d6 sneak attack versus the hated enemy, upgrading to +5d6 at 18th level. Starting at 17th level, allies also get +2 to atk and +4 to damage versus the hated enemy.

Jealousy nets Deceitful and makes targets hit take a -2 penalty to attacks made against creatures other than the lurker. Once more, activation and deactivation are properly codified, and the ability can be used 3 + class level times per day. 7th level nets a 20 ft.-aura that can make targets in the aura that attack or cast spells on targets other than the lurker staggered on a failed save. At 12th level, attacks versus the lurker’s allies enrage him, granting +2d8 precision damage versus the target until the end of the next turn.17th level allows for the immediate action swapping of places with allies. These effects are properly codified.

Finally, Zeal nets Improved Initiative, 18 – 20 threat range and x3 critical multiplier at 11th level. Kudos: Gets non-stacking option for critical enhancers right. The 7th level aura nets +2 to atk and saves. The 12th level ability renders immune to sleep – if the lurker already is immune, he instead gains Alertness. 17th level nets 3/day rerolls for attack misses or failed saves.

Regardless of focus chosen, the lurker gets a single 0-level knack to be cast at will, chosen from the spiritualist’s list. Charisma if the governing attribute. The class also obviously begins with shape mind blade. 2nd level and every even level thereafter net a new blade skill. Throw Mind Blade (a soulknife, not a straight lurker ability) has been translated into a blade skill for the lurker. The blade skills btw. are curated – the lurker may take bladestorm or bladewind, but e.g. not alter blade. Combat slide, deadly blow etc. can also be found. Interesting: The Mind Shield bladeskill is here…and, alas, the pdf misunderstood this one and labors under a horrible misconception that breaks this WHOLE DAMN TREE OF BLADESKILLS. And this is what happens when you design for a class you don’t understand properly:

There is a blade skill that suddenly talks about enhancing the mind shield with weapon abilities instead of shield abilities, which is not something you can do with the mind shield bladeskill – the ability behaves like a shield, but RAW is no shield. Now, if you’re actually familiar with psionics, you’ll recognize why. This hybrid class failed to grasp that d20pfsrd.com lumps ALL bladeskills into one list. However, if you actually are proficient in rules language, you’ll know that a shield bonus makes no shield…and if you know psionics, you’ll know these shield enhancing blade skills. They are from the shielded blade soulknife archetype, who gets the base ability to, you guessed it, make a PROPER mindshield. Btw.: In Ultimate Psionics, that prerequisite and separation are VERY clear, meaning that this was built solely on d20pfsrd. Wanna know what’s hilarious? The pdf actually once refers to the form mind shield bladeksill, which does not exist – it’s an archetype ability in the first place, and it’s absent from the pdf. This is just sloppy and can cause massive confusion when you attempt to run this as written.

The lurker may take evasion and its improved version as a blade skill, but not the soulknife bladeskills that build on the energy weapon style skills: Firestorm, for example, is not on the lurker list. Odd: Lightning arc’s here and psionic focus-less. Indeed, the psionic focus rules-component is thoroughly absent from the class. Reaching blade is an exception and has a remnant reference to psionic focus, which is odd and an obvious oversight.

A unique skill lets the lurker get, as a full-round action, the benefits of blur for one minute – sans limit. This should have a minimum level. Another unique skill nets ghost touch for a round as a move action. The lurker can also take rogue talents, trapfinding and a swingy competing attack roll to block bladeskill, but since it is contingent (alongside its improved version) on the shield issue, this one is basically not functional.

The lurker’s mind blade grows in power at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 11th, 15th and 19th level, with the usual +1. In a puzzling display of WTF-level weirdness, the proper caveats of the base soulknife that govern the special ability etc. dispersal and maintain hard caps on enhancement bonuses have been ignored. sigh Cool: At 3rd level, the lurkers may move through solid matter, but this is painful: They take nonlethal damage and 1 point of Strength damage per 5 ft. moved, and the latter can’t be ignored. The lurker must begin and end movement outside of the solid matter…which is cool. But you don’t always know whether there’ll be solid matter on the other side, so what if you’re trapped in the wall? 5th level nets detect undead as an at-will SP. 7th level nets invisibility 1/day, with every 4th level adding another daily use. 9th level nets 1/day see invisibility. The capstone nets immunity to mind-affecting effects and possession. Devotion lurkers instead get immunity to death and poison effects.

The class gets three new feats: Improved Phase Lurch improves the slightly flawed move through walls trick. Incorporeal Flight lets you, for class level round per day, become incorporeal as a swift action, gaining 40 ft. perfect flight. 11th level is a feasible prerequisite here. Lurker Magic can be taken multiple times for further low level spiritualist knacks.

The pdf closes with 9 different types of favored class options, which have been assigned to a wide variety of classic and Porphyran races.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, featuring a few missed formatting components on a formal level. On a rules level, this displays some very unfortunate issues, which is particularly severe, considering how much content was simply cut copy pasted. Layout adheres to the 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights that we’ve come to expect from Purple Duck Games. The pdf has no interior artwork.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s Lurker began really promising. The emotional focus angle provides meaningful differentiation and has a couple of unique angles. That being said, the lurker does suffer from quite a few avoidable issues, some of which, alas, do compromise rules-relevant components in its design. More importantly, the unique bladeksills and shield tricks display an ignorance of how shield bonuses and shields work. This glitch is really, really bad – I mean, when you already have the blade skills pretty much all done and don’t have to, you know, actually write them, then at least curating and tweaking them properly would be the least one could ask for. As much as I tried to like this, we are thus left with a class that could have been amazing, but that really sinks itself due to a lack of care in its design. I am, honestly, quite appalled at the bladeskill glitch.

While this had all the tools to be a 4 or 5-star class, while it could have been unique and evocative, as written I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Lurker
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Ithreians of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/16/2018 14:23:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 35 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content. These pages have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if you print this out.

All right, so we begin this supplement with a deity write-up of Ithreia, also known as “Old Mother Owl” or as the “Queen of the Blinding Wind” – a deity of birds, sea and winter. The deity is Lawful neutral, with 4 domains and subdomains and the pilum as favored weapon. The write-up goes above what you’d expect – it also features an obedience and evangelist, exalted and sentinel boons – the second of the evangelist boons is particularly cool: It lets you tread through difficult terrain, and allies may follow in your footsteps, but only for a round! The boons, as a whole, are intriguing indeed.

As a deity associated with the elements, Ithreia is particularly loathed by the elemental lords, and her legend, realm and divine relations are explained in well-written detail, making full use of Porphyra’s unique cosmology. The write-up also sports notes on her holy texts and holdings and even features cool (get it, because ice….Ouch. Yeah, 2 cents into the bad pun jar…) aphorisms and a fully depicted spell preparation ritual. 2 meaningful and well-written religion traits are included as well, and worshipers of Ithreia can call different creatures – these minor spellcasting option changes add some nice details to the write-up. The pdf also notes divine servants. So far, so amazing!

Now, as far as class options are concerned, we get a variant of the less than impressive Accursed class that exchanged positive/negative energy resistance with cold resistance. (Boring.) The icebreaker is an archetype of the armjack hybrid class, who replaces bardic knowledge with +1/2 class level to Swim, Acrobatics, Survival, Climb profession (sailor) and Knowledge (religion) pertaining to Ithreia. Instead of versed with armor, we get Endurance and scaling cold resistance. At 6th level, the archetype can endure elements via cry to arms. The way in which the duration works here requires a bit of close reading – this could be slightly tighter. At 19th level, the archetype gains the option to use cry to arms to shatter ice/crystalline surfaces.

The pdf also sports quite a few different bardic masterpieces, with Blizzard’s Lament netting you an aura that staggers and blinds nearby targets with a save to negate. There is also one for blindsesne and one that nets allies within 30 ft. +10 (!!!) to initiative. And yes, 5th level bard spell known is hardcore, but considering how rocket launcher-tag-like high level PFRPG gaming can be, this will get nowhere near my game. A crazy prepared effect is also nice, particularly since it actually manages to be uncheesable! Huge kudos there! Fortifying targets versus cold and bleeding at the cost of initiative, Perception and susceptibility versus sleep also is interesting.

The order of the owl for the chronicler (see Prestige Archetypes) replaces well-versed with Endurance. The archetype also replaces mass suggestion with the option to call an Ithreian 11th level cleric. (And yes, statblocks are provided!) via the capstone. The druid archetype Eye of Old Mother Owl replaces nature sense with +2 to Perception and Sense Motive and is locked into a couple of choices regarding animal companions taken via nature’s bond. At 4th level, the archetype gets to cast divination spells while wild shape’d, and retain concentration on them as a move action while in wild shape. Additionally, sense fear and discern lies may be spontaneously cast and discern lies is added to the class list. This replaces resist nature’s lure. Instead of venom immunity, Perception-penalties due to distance are quartered and the druid increases range and area of divinations cast by 50%.

The hermit hybrid class gets a new illumination: +4 to Stealth and Survival in snow, and immunity to cold of up to -50°F and winds of less than hurricane force. The illumination also nets commune with birdsas the spell, may look through the eyes of a bird in long range (what happens with regular sight?), and at 8th level, the hermit knows when population is dangerously depleted or groups are ailing, as if she asked via commune with nature. Okay, does this require concentration? An action? Is it instantaneous? No idea.

There are two hunter foci: Gyrfalcon nets a scaling fly bonus, whale a scaling Survival bonus.

The keener hybrid class gets two laments: One that knocks prone a target and moves it, one that allows targets healed to stand up as a swift action or move 5 ft., even through difficult terrain, sans AoOs. Does the latter count as a 5 ft. step or not?

We also get new kineticist wild talents: Sheltering Snow is a utility wild talent, which lets you make walls of ice and tiny hut, with 1 Burn cost to make it last longer. Squall infusion can be applied to cold blasts and has no burn cost: It dazzles the target on a failed save, regardless if the target was damaged or not. Witheout is another substance infusion is cool: It makes your kinetic blast, the squares it moves through and area of effect provide concealment; at 2 burn cost, this is feasible.

The gyrfalcon of the blinding wind paladin must choose a mount, which must be a roc. Instead of spellcasting, the paladin gets to forage potions, which is damn cool – particularly since this class feature may not be cheesed – only a limited amount may be maintained, and the scaling is sensible. The aura of justice is replaced with…+10 to initiative, +4 for nearby allies. OP as all hell. Kill it with fire. The paladins of Ithreia may remove penalties to ability scores (NOT damage or drain!) with a mercy and fortify allies with a bonus to Fort saves and temporary hit points.

The cool quartermaster class gets the pack tinkerer archetype, who receives Ride as a class skill instead of Linguistics. The archetype gets a cavalier’s mount and may apply inspection only to it. Similarly, trap evasion only applies to it. Unique and cool: Instead of repurpose mechanism, the archetype can teach his animal to activate, ready or deploy items! Love this little engine tweak. The singing Guide ranger must chooses companions as bond and may share ½ favored terrain bonuses and Endurance with allies. The archetype never falls as a result of a botched Climb checks, never falls prone on ice or due to a vessel’s movement. 11th level nets a blindsense granting song that upgrades at higher levels and replaces quarry. There is a share sense based shaman hex with scaling range and we get two shifter aspects: The gyrfalcon one is based on the falcon and replaces the minor form benefit with scaling Fly-bonuses. The Whale aspect does pretty much what you’d expect: Minor form is analogue to the hunter aspect, major provides whale-associated tricks. Nothing spectacular. Finally, storm rider skalds replaces song of strength, dirge of doom and song of the fallen with custom raging songs: The base one if a cold blast; group flight and swimming and storm control make these nice. Well-versed and versatile performance are exchanged for counting as larger for withstanding winds and scaling cold resistance.

The pdf also includes a total of 10 spells that focus on Ithreia’s strong leitmotifs: The cold spells here are nice and do more than just damage, and having a spell that interacts with bardic performance in place is interesting: It nets you early flight as a level 2 spell, but requires maintenance of bardic performance and thus wrecks Stealth. It may also be discharged to reroll an attack roll, which is an interesting tactical angle. Using a spell to prepare a domain/subdomain spell (prepared casters only) is also intriguing. Particularly impressive here would be the spell that manages to preserve other spells – the rules-language here is impressive indeed and it is not cheesable! I really liked this spell section.

The magic item section provides a custom blue bag of chosen tricks, basically the ithreian version of the classic item, as well as three new figurines of wondrous power: opal gyrfalcon, pearl owl and sapphire whale.These are more potent in the hands of Ithreians, which is something I enjoy and a notion I’d very much love to see more of in the final version of the Porphyra RPG, but that as an aside. A glass to see through snow and ice is here, and what really made me smile: Remember that preserve spell trick I mentioned? Well, ithreians get an item class that are LITERALLY spells in preservation jars. Great meta-commentary and a way to make them, well, fun!

We end the pdf with a CR orcam armjack icebreaker and a CR 10 harpy cleric.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ no-frills 1-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf sports a few really nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes with EXCESSIVE bookmarks, making navigation both easy and comfortable.

David N. Ross is a very precise designer; he has created quite a few of my favorite class options and tricks out there, from covenant magic to his illuminates and shadow weaver, there are several neat examples of what he’s capable of. This depiction of the followers of a deity is admirable in the best of ways: Ithreia and her followers come to life in this little pdf: The class options breathe the leitmotifs of their patron deity and establish a sense of cohesion and consistency I love to see. I hope that faiths and how they are presented by Purple Duck Games in the future will adhere to similar principles. Beyond the flavor, the pdf manages to provide quite a bunch of complex rules-operations within its surprisingly extensive collection of engine-tweak archetypes and class options. Now, there are a few instances where the rules are slightly less tight, but that wouldn’t irk me. I’m flabbergasted, though, by the ignorance pertaining the gross power of initiative boosts this has. The massive initiative boosts a few options herein grant are ridiculously potent in the right hands and should be purged with extreme prejudice, marring an otherwise compelling and flavorful tome.

That being said, these components are easy to nerf and should not dissuade you from checking this out. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, but I’m afraid I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ithreians of Porphyra
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Stock Art: Female Witch with Serpent
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2018 09:13:19

Very interesting little witch with snake. Can't wait to find a good home for it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Female Witch with Serpent
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Hybrid Class: Pundit
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2018 04:00:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Pundit
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FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/09/2018 17:13:03

Since the DCC RPG’s release, a perception seems to have grown up around its playstyle as best suited for gonzo one-shot dungeon crawls. Daniel J. Bishop’s FT2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid and its companion module FT2.5 - Three Nights in Portsmouth show that DCC works just as well for open-ended urban adventures that emphasize investigation and social interaction just as much as direct confrontations via sword and spell.

The setting of the town of Portsmouth draws most directly from H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dagon” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm with plenty of other references to fairy tales and classic children’s literature as seen through Daniel Bishop’s dark lens. Although there is a main plotline set to track along with the 12 days of Portsmouth’s Yuletide Festival, there are enough factions, secret locations and unique random encounters to reward returning to the town over and over again as an adventure setting. In my campaign we’ve managed to run seven sessions so far just focussing on the main plotline and a couple of the side adventures from Three Nights in Portsmouth, with easily the potential for 3-4 sessions more. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers VI
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/09/2018 03:26:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

All right, we begin with 5 new feats:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



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

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Cartomancer
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Fantasy Divinations (systemless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/27/2018 03:44:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Purple Duck Storeroom-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means you can fit up to 4 of them on a sheet of paper when printing this.

We begin this installment of the series, which is btw. system neutral this time around, with a 2.5 page piece of fun introductory prose before providing 100 answers. For what?

Know when your players are stumped? Or when they use a divination and you have nothing prepared? Well, this humble pdf endeavors to provide no less than 100 suitably cryptic answers that should buy you some time to figure out a smooth way to get things back in order.

“Where is the Place we are looking for?” may be answered, for example, with “ The Desert Calls/The Sand Awaits/Backs to the Sun/For Three Long Days.” – and there you go, you’ll have them in the desert in no time. There are different levels of vagueness to be found, and “How do we get to the place?” is similarly covered – both get 12 responses. So does the answer to the question of what evil needs to be overcome or what treasure awaits. Similarly, if you want to know where the sought after person is, you’ll get 12 responses. “Kidnap. Bounds. Snarling whispers. Journey to the hole in the hill, covered in vines. Questions… questions… “ Yep, the standard cryptic/insane rambling is all here.

There are 10 answers provided for how the PCs may succeed in their mission, how the impending doom may be stopped. Similarly, the question on how to defeat the evil before the PCs gets 10 answers, as does the question for traps.

In a nice bit of comedy, a general purpose divination answer and “Reply hazy, ask again later…” are noted as a bit of fun at the end.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills, printer-friendly 1-column standard and the pdf has no interior artwork, apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity – kudos!

Perry Fehr’s divination replies make for a fun little pdf that’s worth the humble asking price of a single buck. It won’t change your game, but it may provide some time or angle for you to get your PCs where you want them. All in all, a nice, unpretentious file – 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the fair price point.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Fantasy Divinations (systemless)
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Legendary Treasures X
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2018 04:53:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Legendary Item-series clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 41 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this.

Now, in case you’re not familiar with the series: The Legendary Items pioneered by Purple Duck Games have influenced my own games to an extent that only very few series have achieved. The idea is simple: I don’t know a single player who really likes the throwaway magic economy; we know, from a ton of books, the notion that magic items slowly awaken with the power of the wielder, right? That’s basically legendary items – magic items that begin with a certain power-level, and then grow in power with characters, remaining relevant and often unlocking unique abilities.

Legendary items range in power-levels from 5 to 10, though most have 5 steps in advancement. These items do have base forms – for most beings, they act at their base capacity, but if you meet the prerequisites of the item, you can begin unlocking the powers. Saving throw DCs, if any, use the wielder’s highest mental ability score modifier to calculate save DCs. Non-SPs that allow for a save have a DC of 10 + ½ the wielder’s level + the wielder’s highest mental ability score modifier. For the purpose of CL of any effects, the wielder’s level is assumed to be the items CL. The pdf does suggest a variant rules for jealous items, which prevents hoarding of items.

We begin with the cloak of protection. Yes, exactly. No, not the ones you already know. The cloak presented here does indeed improve from +1 to +5, as expected – however, beyond that, the storied item also nets you endure elements and 1/day swift action resist energy (cold or fire) at 4th item level. These effects become an aura at higher level and the SP is upgraded to being communal. Scaling SR and, at highest level, resistance versus all elements are added. It’s interesting – a bit of story and some fun modifications and one of the most maligned and boring items ever suddenly is interesting.

At this point, it should be mentioned that we get gorgeous, often spanning a whole page, full-color artworks to accompany the background stories of these items! The construct bane scarab begins with detection of constructs; then gets the scaling ability to bypass hardness, and at higher levels, starts working as a golembane scarab and builds on that, enhancing the wearer’s attacks versus golems…and it learns to mitigate spell resistance of constructs, reduce their natural armor, 1/day negate a special attack of a golem (sans action – should probably be spelled out!) and even get a retaliatory aura. Cool!

The gauntlet of serpents comes with poison resistance, a fully statted clockwork snake (that works akin to a variant of the eminent iron cobra, improving over the levels) and the ability to get more of these deadly tools, add spit attacks to them, etc. Cool! Minor nitpick: It would have been easier for less experienced GMs and players to have an increase in die progression spelled out with an example, but that is nitpicking.

Mammoth boots enhance your overrun capabilities, but also make you louder, hampering Stealth somewhat. Gaining trample as though large, counting as a bigger size category for CMB and CMD and temperature adaption make sense – and yes, as a capstone, we get a mastodon form – which has its own hit point pool! I love this – it’s so simple, yet cool, and is something I wouldn’t object to seeing more often!

Neria’s Dreamsling is a sling staff that gets abundant ammunition and the ability to modify the enhancement granted to the weapon via a ritual into special weapon properties. Firing scaling boulder bullets that are actually phantasms and acting as a staff of slumber complement a well-written item that has its own, distinct identity.

The robes of the battlemonk come with a pretty powerful first level ability that has some issues regarding the rules-language: “When worn, it allows its wearer to make a 10-foot adjustment whenever she can normally make a 5 foot adjustment. This ability can be used to allow the wearer to make a 5 foot adjustment into rough terrain.” So, first of all, that should be 5-foot step. Secondly, 5-foot stepping in difficult terrain is really potent. That one should probably be relegated to its own ability. Changing base physical damage types with unarmed attacks. Weird: The prerequisites note flurry of blows or brawler’s flurry, but the 6th level ability grants you monk class features at 2 levels higher: AC bonus, speed or unarmed damage…so, what about brawlers? Do they get other benefits? Do they get the monk benefits at full character level +2? The item feels less refined than the others so far, extending to slightly cumbersome verbiage instances like “…gains the monster universal ability, pounce,…”, which would usually read “…gains the pounce (monster) universal ability…” – not bad, mind you, but it’s noticeable. This unrefined nature also extends to e.g. Sonic Kick, which can’t seem to decide on whether to inflict untyped bonus damage or force damage. (Why not, you know, inflict…sonic damage??)

The Robe of the Sovereign Mage is a combined robe of armor and robe of resistance. Minor CL-bonuses and SR are spinkled in, and two potent capstones are added on top. The capstones are interesting, but come imho too late – the item is pretty bland, particularly in contrast to the more versatile and organic cloak of resistance.

Witches and shamans can take a look at the Sack of a Thousand Fetishes, which enhances curses and nets cackle/chant, respectively, otherwise acting as a cackling hag’s blouse. Patron/spirit enhancement, additional curse spells, better cackling/chant hex enhancement…I liked this one!

Vailoaria’s Northstar Rose is mechanically interesting, in that it represents a wayfinder that gains additional ioun stone slots, apport-based sending SPs, dimension door, contingency-esque spell storing…and the item’s abilities tie in with the ioun stones in a unique manner. Mechanically, this is by far the coolest and most interesting item within – two thumbs up!

Finally, there would be Zaidyne’s Chaplet, an item intended for kineticists, allowing for the rough identification of kineticist wild talents via Spellcraft. Scaling kineticist’s diadem functionality, storing a blast (with metakinesis and infusions!) in the chaplet. Composite blasts, hollow rod functionality – the item shows that the authors knew what they were doing, accounting for the dense and complex rules-language of the kineticist’s engine – we end the pdf thus on a high note, with undoubtedly the item that highlights the most design skill within.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, depicting the owl-like Strigifal agathion at CR 9 – with wing and claw attacks, true seeing and the ability to generate blizzards, which, not unlike vrock dances, can be used cooperatively, these beings are a cool critter with a nifty artwork.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – while I noticed a remnant [i] here and there, formatting and formal categories are generally tight. On a rules-language level, the pdf is precise for the most part. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ booklet-style 1-column standard, is printer-friendly and the pdf sports a surprising array of amazing full color artworks for the items. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Derek Blakely and Onyx Tanuki provide a neat selection of items within, though the imaginative potential and precision does oscillate a bit: Reading inspired pieces back to back with e.g. the bland robe of the sovereign mage felt a bit jarring to me. That being said, there are a couple of true gems within, with the final two items deserving special mention. As a whole, the pdf is very much worth getting for the fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Treasures X
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Villains of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/13/2018 13:48:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 8 pages of SRD, leaving us with 42 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, pamphlet-style, which theoretically allows you to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, should you choose to print this supplement.

So, what do we get here? Well, basically what it says on the tin – this is no NPC Codex-style supplement that presents nameless adversaries and mook-fodder, but instead should be considered to be a collection of named and framed villains, ready to wreak havoc on your PCs. This obviously means that they all get their own piece of aptly-written prose, as well as statblocks, with the latter making use of Porphyra’s impressive cadre of creatures, races and content in general. Note that you do not need to own Porphyran books to use this, though! There is also a pretty neat Porphyra wiki, just fyi!

A total of 16 dastardly villains are provided within, so let’s take a look, shall we? For brevity’s sake, I am going to assume a degree of familiarity with Porphyra’s lore and races – should you be intrigued by the unique Patchwork plant, click on the “Porphyra”-tab of my review on my homepage, and you’ll have a list of files (and reviews) depicting more in terms of both crunch and lore.

We begin this supplement with Lady Daivona Scovalyx, a CR 17 inveigler erkunae investigator (mastermind) of the amazing erkunae race, still one of my all-time favorites of the setting for the cool, old-school non-Tolkien-ish vibe they have (Vance,Moorcock); anyways, she comes, as befitting of her stature, with her own pact creature (think: racial kinda-familiar), and is followed by Vsehnian, the Betrayer – a CR 11 dhosari rook; dhosari are btw. the servant race of the erkunae, but this clever individual, though aligned with Daivona, can make for a potent foe on his lonesome, clocking in at CR 10.

Brin is more straightforward, and is a CR 10 hobgoblin assassin (amking use of the Porphyran take of the class). Khorg the invincible would be a CR 19/MR 2 invincible half-ogre runereaper, and his damage output potential…well, let’s just say it’s nothing to sneeze at! Abil Copperborn would be a half-human (one further instance where Porphyra’s pretty cool…) skirmisher ranger at CR 15 – loyal and professional, he is actually LN and one of the most potent and skillful contract killers you’re bound to find. His writeup also features the scarf of camouflage item. Qippal Rillkeeper is a grippli hunter (primal companion) at CR 8, bonded to a dinosaur and victim of brutal and ruthless human “safaris” slaughtering all the once innocent frogfolk knew. Bad idea, humans. Bad idea…

Fhemish Darggun is a half-cyclops archaeologist bard at CR 16 – the most ruthless weapon’s fence and dealer of Giant’s Retreat – who, ironically, really likes civilization, even though his trade could potentially be considered to be contrasting with its establishment, or, more importantly, maintenance.

Fulgra the hungry would be a CR 10 wolf-shifter and we also learn about Bonebreaker Essrass, a CR 17 nagaji martial artist monk that can strike as a serpent… Ouch, all right, totally deserved that. ;)

Anyways, we also get to meet Kresta, a tengu unchained ninja seeking for the means to create conflagrations to starve and annihilate the land in favor to her divine master…Lady Gloam of Bhaal-aak made me smile, for here, Justin Sluder pulled out his skills: She is a stealthy creature plumekith assimar warpriest (CR 19), kidnapped and then raised and indoctrinated in the city of shadowy demon-worshipers…and yes, she sometimes visits her parents. Conversations are bound to be awkward, but that’d make for an interesting scene to roleplay…

Ursk the defiler would be a CR 9 skulk oracle, who champions, in a twisted way, freedom. Freedom from fear. Dignity. Reason. Life. With darkness-themed abilities and vampiric tricks, this fellow is twisted in a cool way. At CR 16, master Gyro is a boggle spell specialist arcanist, comes with notes of the uncommon elf lord’s battle armor spell from Kobold Press’ Deep Magic, as well as with bracers of defense item-class. I did grin when seeing the CR 10 augmented half-giant telekinesis/force specialist Brutus Half-forged and the CR 8 aberrant aegis/fighter multiclass from duergar stock Rosca Hatemonger. We end the supplement on a definite high note, with Ibuel the Frightlover, a fey creature xeph dread with 15 levels and CR 16.

The pdf comes with a bonus file depicting the Agropelter, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, a CR 3 fearsome critter magical beast, a wiry apelike thing whose arms have no middle joints, capable of quick bursts of speed. Solid creature that makes for a nasty artillery at low levels.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no excessive accumulation of grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard, is pretty printer-friendly and sports the classic purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience and ease of navigation, though the bookmarks don’t note the CRs, which, since the villains are listed in no order I could glean, represents a slight usability detriment when in a pinch.

Justin P. Sluder and Aaron Hollingsworth make for a good team, at least judging by this pdf. Justin has crafted some of my favorite NPCs/villains ever for the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, and his talents at making complex NPCs shows in quite a few of these villains, though not all of them. Still, the means by which this book employs Porphyra’s rich canon of options is nice to see indeed. The villain-motivations also are surprisingly diverse, the brief flavor texts lending depth to them. If anything, I did wish more than once that we had a tad bit more space per villain to further add to their myths. That being said, the use of diverse and interesting material herein and the obvious joy in some of the combinations does render this collection worthwhile – the enemies herein will be challenging for your group.

And hey, you can’t ever have enough adversary-statblocks, right? Right! In short: Totally worthwhile if you’re looking for some tough foes to throw at your players! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villains of Porphyra
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Ultimate Covenant Magic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2018 12:38:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 160 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 155 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, long, long before, back in 2013, before we even could conceive of Occult Adventures becoming such a great Paizo book, there was a humble pdf that fluttered on my digital shelves. It came with an unpretentious cover that read: Legendary Classes: Covenant Magic. It included a base class, then called “medium”, which proceeded to blow my mind, earning the supplement a spot among my Top Ten PFRPG products. Then, there were expansions, and these actually managed to retain the quality and imaginary vision of covenant magic.

In a way, this was an occult class, before “occult class” was a thing; you know, a class with a complex and rewarding action economy and player agency that does not simply escalate numbers, but instead has unobtrusive and rewarding ROLEplaying angles baked right into its very design. This may just be me, but with the release of Occult Adventures, I never stopped thinking of Covenant Magic as pretty much one of the origins of this rewarding school of class- and RPG- design.

Now, it should be noted that Ultimate Covenant Magic is NOT simply a rehash of the previously released material; Purple Duck Games have gone the extra mile here, which should be obvious from the get-go when simply comparing pagecount; moreover, the ducks have went through Covenant Magic with a finetooth-comb and reassessed all components herein, ironing out the very few rough patches the original files offered, while heaping new content galore on top – this is how compilations should be!

Fast forward to today and the issue of nomenclature: We get this – the ginormous, ultimate iteration of an already stellar system. With Occult Adventures’ release, this book renames its first class covenant mage. The covenant mage gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, ¾ BAB-progression and Charisma-governed spellcasting of up to 6th level – however, in a radical and daring departure from most classes, these are actually spell-like abilities, with all that entails. It is testament to the robustness of the engine and the skill of the designers involved that this never breaks the game. Covenant mages may not learn aligned spells, unless the covenant mage matches the alignment…OR has a covenant with a creature of that alignment! Yes, you can actually cast evil spells as the good guy here…with all that entails.

Now, as the name makes abundantly clear, the focus here are covenants. But wait, sounds familiar? Isn’t there the phenomenal “Grimoire of Lost Souls” already out there? Well, yes, but Purple Duck Games’ system has a radically different focus – covenants are themed around general themes, not necessarily individual spirits – you could have a covenant with a sidhe court, with qlippoths and the like, as opposed to pacts with singular entities. The focus sounds similar on paper, but in practice and roleplaying, actually is radically different. It should also be noted that the systems work remarkably smoothly and distinctly when used in the same game, and could allow for a covenant/pact-only game without much hassle. One of these days, that’s just the campaign I’m going to run!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I was talking about player agency before, and the class, from level one onward, and again at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th level, gets a spirit boon – basically the talent-list of the covenant mage: These are not simple “You get class feature xyz”-tricks, btw. Wanted to sap speed with a touch attack? You can do that. Conjure forth a shield of roiling spirits? Once more, you can do that! Of course, a better, detective-style speak with dead can be found here, and the basic themes you’d expect have representations, but the list brims with enthusiasm and design-glee – one that is based in the scaling guidance imparted on the covenant mage by virtue of their spirit guide; and yes, while intangible (so no phantom-like pet), this lone, humble ability can engender great roleplaying all on its own…and changes the system in exciting ways, for some abilities require that the spirit guide be sent away/used in a specific manner. If you’re familiar with shadow-usage in shadow magic-based systems, you’ll get what I’m talking about. This could have just been, mechanically, a cool-down timer. Instead, it has this nifty little narrative angle that you can take or leave. It should be noted that the already pretty impressive list of spirit boons is expanded on later levels – multiple times. These alone provide more options than many classes have.

Now, a central component of the covenant mage’s engine and perhaps one of the most impressive and concise rules-operations for a caster I know, would be their trance: 4 + Charisma modifier rounds, +2 rounds per class level after 1st; this trance may be entered as a move action, nets you rage-like bonuses to Constitution and Charisma as you channel entities, and allows the spirits to speak through you – which is a GREAT idea to explain why you can’t use spell completion/trigger items in a trance. It’s these little components, where even the tiniest thing makes sense from a narrative point of view, that set this apart…of, and then, there would be the covenants. Oh, and being knocked unconscious nets you +1 free, final round of trance. No, you can’t abuse it, but it does allow the respective entities to deliver threats etc. and corresponds with the classic and evocative tropes.

Now, a covenant mage selects an influence – these can, for example, be angelic choirs, abyssal hordes, draconic, the occult, the unity, etc. Here, we have a bloodline-ish ability suite that nets a bonus language and determines the capstone of the class. However, they ALSO govern special spell-like abilities while in trance (scaling with levels) and trance covenants, which also scale. Sounds a bit bland for you? Nothing could be further from the truth! Just take the qlippothic redeemer. Some qlippoths argue that extinction of mortal life may not be the way to go to reclaim the abyss – you just have to ensure that no more chaotic evil souls go down there! Hence, there is a qlippoth-sponsored influence with the goal of redeeming everyone! I ADORE this. Doing the right things, for horrifically wrong reasons can make for a fantastic character concept and interaction with an influence that is malign and alien and just wants everyone to get along. That’s the yarn great tales are spun from.

Covenants are grouped in 5 groups, which are progressively granted by the respective influence chosen: Least (1st level), minor (5th level), major (9th level), greater (13th level) and superior (17th level), just fyi. It should be noted that each influence notes a variety of creatures associated with the influence in question, and that such creatures may be called by the covenant mage with their séance ability. Did I mention that these fellows can deal with haunts (You really should take one along next time you go into that haunted mansion/ancient, haunted battlefield…), that the trance engine scales and that item activation etc. also follows a concise progression? The covenant mage is a class you have to play to truly appreciate, but oh boy. Ähem. Sorry. Did it sound like I might that class a wee bit? ;)

Anyways, this is NOT where the book stops; where, previously, we had but this one covenant-devoted class, we now get two: The book introduces the dervish, who gets d10 HD, 4+ Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weaponry and light armor and light shields, as well as fast movement, full BAB-progression and a good Ref-save 4th level nets the SPs of the covenant mage style, once more governed by Charisma, scaling up to 4th spell level. You may have deduced as much from the presence of fast movement, but uncanny dodge at 2nd level would be another good indicator what we have here – a hybrid class of covenant mage and barbarian.

And, I know what you’re thinking: “Now Endy will whip out the uninspired hybrid-bat.” Well, frankly, that’s not required. Quite the contrary, in fact. The class employs the trance engine; it has paths, which are the equivalent of influences (and yes, we get a ton of them, though not one for every single influence, only for those that make sense in the frame provided); it gets trance powers (kinda akin to rage powers and paths come with suggested trance powers) – oh, and the class is actually a solid skirmisher! I kid you not! Heck, path chosen influences, at high levels, the DR, with 8 different DRs noted, to account for thematic differences! This level of care is impressive; indeed, I’d like to state that the warrior-mystic angle has rarely been done this well; while the parent classes are obvious from the design choices made, the dervish manages to feel and play unique and exciting, rendering it one of the very rare examples of a hybrid class that deserves its name, that deserves being included in the game, that has its own identity and soul.

Now, here begin the 28 pages of archetypes – and while both covenant mage and dervish get AMPLE of choices here, it is my pleasure to mention that they are not alone: Wanted a covenant-using summoner? You can find that here. Inner Eye Fighters represent a rewarding covenant fighter option…oh, and did I mention that the book comes with full occult support, providing a means for Paizo’s often maligned medium class to become cooler via covenants? Or the death negotiator spiritualist? Does haggling with spirits for power sounds like a story that reminds you a cherished villain/hero in a comic book? Well, guess what: We even get a vigilante archetype here, with the spirit-chosen! Oh, and what about covenant-related hexes for both witch and shaman?? Want a covenant magic with anti-tech guide tricks? An engine-tweak by donning masks? Covenant mages with hexes, revelations or bloodlines? Yep, you’re covered. Similarly, if you want a divine dervish, unarmed mendicants or mounted dervishes, you’ll find what you’re looking for inside.

Now, beyond influences, covenant magic as a system is NOT hard-baked into classes; or, well, it kinda is in a way, but in theory, pretty much anyone could use it! Why? Well, the 5 different covenant ability strengths are concisely codified for Gm and players alike, with save DCs based on the patron’s Charisma and HD. This may come off as surprising, but the mere existence of this simple and easy to grasp component (with prices, assuring WBL-consistency) helps against the murder-hobo syndrome. Players are less likely to want to slaughter, for example, the fey over there, when coming to diplomatic terms with them could provide cool, unique powers…and from the GM’s perspective, that is a rewarding way to dish out treasure and segue into new adventures. The gp-value table makes this pretty much a no-brainer task – look at a table, done. It doesn’t get more comfortable than this. Now, if all this contract-stuff sounds dry or too wishy-washy for you, rest assured that you’re not left hanging: The details and components are discussed in a concise and helpful manner, including the consequences of breaking covenants, etc.

So, the covenants – the list of covenants included here, you know, the one that handily lists all the covenants alphabetically, ordered by power…is 4+ pages long. We’re talking about over 30 pages of such abilities, which allow you to breach through barriers, gain a kind of truespeech, a literally stunning voice, high level save-rerolls – they make sense! Want, for example, control of the strands of fate? Well, you better find a really potent being with mythic power or hero points…or a norn! Have a new buddy from the elemental plane of earth? Stone fists. Just sayin’! Know a potent undead or outsider with energy drain? Hej, when you get on with them, you may learn the art of the Soul Stealer… There also are a couple here, obviously, that are more limited, but you get the idea – this OOZES flavor. And yes, the classic restoration of youth can be bargained for… This is, in essence, a continuation of the design-paradigm that made the class options stand out – and it’s, in a way, the beating heart of the book; this is where we not only get material that can easily be integrated into any game, we have enough covenants provided and succinct, clear guidelines, that designing new ones should not prove too big a problem for anyone. This may sound dumb coming from me, with my love of fiddly, highly complex systems, but this level of accessibility is amazing. You could hand this to players and have them tinker with it. The system is that accessible. Oh, did I mention the page of mythic covenants that help if you’re playing mythic games? Oh yeah.

Now, I should note that, usually, only covenant mages and dervishes can strike covenants, but the 10-page character-options section provides the feat-basis for universal access, though higher-powered games can ostensibly ignore these; as a whole, this provides the grit and investment decision I love to see, while the aforementioned detailed explanation of the covenants themselves allows the system to be used without prescriptively requiring them. If you’re playing a regular game, use the feats; if you’re going for high-fantasy, go the direct route – simple. Oh, and guess what? Mythic feats AND rewarding Story-feats included! As an example, Spiritual Defiance allows you to enhance the numerical bonuses of trance sans gaining the usual abilities, as you defy your influence. You’re grinning right now, right? I know I am! Really cool: The pdf acknowledges modifying three feats from Pact Magic’s chassis – in the TEXT, not just the SRD. That bespeaks of integrity. Oh, and yes, we also get both traits and drawbacks – and yes, bonus types are TIGHT. There also are a couple of new spells to be found, and we even get two background tables, Ultimate Campaign style, for Covenant Mages and Dervishes. Want advice, and I mean EXTENSIVE advice on running covenants in your campaign, on negotiating contracts, a ton of sample potential patrons for covenant-users? Variant offerings that codify life force, souls and even integrate with Horror Adventure’s corruption-mechanics? This delivers. Heck, we even get two cool sample organizations! Oh, and guess what? Two templates, a ton of NPCs (yep, up to CR 19…), and we even get two ready-made PCs for the new classes, at level 1 and 7.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. From bonus type to rules language integrity, this is an achievement of a tome. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly 2-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a significant amount of nice full-color artwork, though fans of Purple Duck games may be familiar with the pieces. The pdf comes with extensive, nested and detailed bookmarks, making the use of the material herein super simple. Oh, and this being Purple Duck games, the whole text is open content. Yes. This is too rarely mentioned, but it’s one of the things I adore about Purple Duck Games.

David N. Ross and Julian Neale, with additional writing by Mike Myler, provide a masterpiece. I mean it. This is the OG of the Occult design philosophy, and it is superbly impressive, more so than it ever was before – and that’s saying something!

You see, I am very much cognizant that my love for complex, fiddly systems à la Interjection Games’ tinker or Michael Sayre’s Akasha is no secret; at the same time, complex systems are not for everyone; while a new system may provide a unique playstyle, not every player enjoys trying to wrap their heads around, for example, an engine like the kineticists. This is where covenant magic comes in. The genius of the design employed here is twofold: For one, the book manages to provide a crunchy system that is rich in story and actual roleplaying potential, which is not something many books achieve. But more importantly, it marries this potential with a playing experience that is utterly distinct and different from all Paizo-classes…while not requiring that you learn one bit of new system! This book manages the impossible feat of having the cake and eating it, too – it teases, coaxes and persuades the d20-system underlying Pathfinder in new and exciting shapes and forms.

If you’ve read the Paizo-classes, you can play this. This is the most accessible subsystem I know, at least in this range of excellence; for, while it retains its superb accessibility, it also manages to do utterly unique things with its engine; it manages to carve out its own, distinct and design-as well as flavor-wise, unique identity.

This ranks among my favorite 3pp-crunch books out there. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as “Ultimate Psionics” or the “Grimoire of Lost Souls.” Yes. That good.

Let me put it differently: I have a policy regarding my Top Ten-list: If the components of a compilation have won a spot on my Top Ten, the compilation can’t be featured on it once more. I have never been this tempted to break this rule. I won’t, as that would be unfair. But oh boy, do I want to!

Ultimate Covenant Magic is a masterpiece that oozes passion, care and attention to details; it’s, as noted, the small things that add up, that elevate this book to the lofty place it occupies in my esteem. My final verdict for this masterpiece, unsurprisingly after my glowing review, will be 5 stars + seal of approval. This also gets my EZG-Essentials-tag as a book I wouldn’t want to miss in my games. Why? Think about it: You can use covenants to combat that Christmas Tree syndrome of PCs with too much gear…replace magic item-rewards with boons and blessings that come with obligations and your game will take on a whole new direction.

Anyways, while it can’t feature on this year’s Top Ten list, this does get the candidate for my Top Ten of 2018 tag as well – to mark it as a book that has number 1-contender qualities, in spite of not being eligible to win. Basically, any way to make this show up when browsing for excellence. ;)

One more thing: Purple Duck Games is currently designing their Porphyra RPG – they will carry the torch of Pathfinder’s first edition with their very own spin. Books like this are what this game needs, so if that sounds like something you’d love, support the Purple Ducks!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Covenant Magic
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