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Hybrid Class: Godsend
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/17/2018 12:10:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

This hybrid class is a blend of paladin and porphyran assassin, which remains one of my favorite PFRPG-takes on the assassin. As a righteous killer, they must be good and get d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword as well as light armor. They get an aura of good and may use detect evil at will. They also get full BAB-progression. The class is intended to have good Reflex saves, but the column in the table NOTES THE WRONG VALUES. Unless 18th level is supposed to nerf Ref-save from +10 to +2, the high levels are wrong for the column – an oversight that even a cursory glance should have caught. 4th level yields paladin spellcasting, governed by Charisma.

The class gets a sneak attack variant dubbed secret smite, which applies when a target is denied Dexterity bonus to AC or when flanking a target. This starts as +1d6, and increases by 1d6 every 2 godsend levels thereafter. Sloppy: “If the target of secret smite is an outsider with the evil subtype, an evil-aligned dragon, or an undead creature, the bonus to dam­age on the first successful attack increases to 2 points of damage per level the godsend possesses.” I kid you not. That’s a downgrade. The godsend is actually WORSE at killing evil things. Also: reference to first attack is weird. OH, and secret smiting good creatures by accident wrecks your spellcasting and supernatural abilities for the day, killing a creature thus does it permanently. 2nd level yields lay on hands and quiet death (Stealth check when killing a creature in the surprise round to prevent notice). 3rd level nets immunity to fear and 4th level provides death attack, governed by Int. Sloppiness continues – we have references to sneak attack that should refer to secret smite.

As an aside: Secret smite is NOT a smite. It is not active. It’s always on. The name’s misleading and the ability just eats wordcount. Make it sneak attack and add a second ability that increases sneak damage versus smite targets. Anyway, 4th level also yields uncanny dodge and 6th level nets divine bond, for a weapon as well as the first mercies; 10th, 14th and 18th level expand the list of mercies available. 8th level nets improved uncanny dodge and an ability that lets you prep a corpse to make the target die once more if returned to life. A spell reference here has not been italicized. 9th level yields immunity to charm spells and SPs, but not effects. 12th level makes weapons behave as though good as well as the option to make a death attack after only one round of study. Detect evil can be sued as a swift action starting at 14th level and 15th level nets + Cha-bonus to secret smite damage versus evil targets and ignores all damage reduction. 18th level provides 1/week atonement. The capstone provides maximum healing as well as “sneak attack the godsend inflicts counts as a death attack, with no study required and regardless of the target’s suspicions.” Which RAW does nothing, since the godsend does not have sneak attack.

The pdf includes a brief code of conduct and 4 feats: One nets limited access to rook-spells. Hold Disguise nets 1/day use of lay on hands for disguise self. Yeah, wouldn’t waste a feat on that either. There’s another one that nets 1/day use of lay on hands as misdirection. Left-Handed Blade nets +2 to Bluff checks made to feint as well as swift action feints. The pdf closes with a HUGE list of favored class options for the vast amount of Porphyran races.

The one good thing here: The Colossus of Dhu, a CR 22 colossal, lion-headed construct that clocks in at CR 22 and makes for a really cool bonus pdf! The monster penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr gets two thumbs up.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good on a formal and rules-language level. Secret smite, the signature ability of the class, has not even been properly CCP’d. Layout adheres to a 1-page standard that is b/w and sports purple highlights. The pdf has no artwork apart from the cover and comes fully bookmarked.

Urgh. I don’t get it. The idea of the sacred killer is amazing and evocative. The godsend, though, is the least interesting incarnation of it. Its basic abilities are not interesting and lose what made the porphyran assassins cool. The class is super-linear and bland, lacking any distinct identity. The rules-language is not good either. I don’t get it, I really don’t. Aaron Hollingsworth can do so much better. He has done so much better. This, though, feels phoned in, uninspired and really, really bland. I can’t recommend this pdf. Unless you want the bonus file. The bonus critter is cool. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Godsend
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Spellbooks of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2018 06:27:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different! This installment of the “…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, we take a look at different spellbook styles, a section that, on its own, should already be considered required reading for many GMs. After all, why should all spellbooks be profane paper or vellum? Instead, this section talks about birch bark, jewelry, tiles, runesticks and magic itself acting as the medium to record magic. It may just be a page, but it is a page that can really jumpstart the creation process. Icons and talismans are similarly mentioned, and an important, often overlooked note is provided: Unless specifically enchanted and modified, spellbooks are per se not magical! That is important for hiding them in plain sight, etc. Spellbooks are categorized in 5 general categories: Formula books, spellbooks, occult books, meditation books and prayer books. Meditation books are used by spontaneous arcane casters, occult books by psychic casters and divine books by divine casters. Using another type of book than the intended one requires UMD and, if this differentiation makes no sense to you, an optional rule to ignore that is provided. I would not suggest doing so, though, as it can upset the careful balancing between spell types. Calculating value and the conditions to get the respective preparation ritual’s benefits are covered next, with writing and ritual costs collated in a handy little table.

And then, we begin the massive, main meat of this supplement. Spellbooks. Formula books. Prayer books. A metric, frickin’ ton of them. The respective entries feature a read-aloud description of the respective books, the values notes, price with and without preparation ritual, and the spells, of course. They also note the class and level of the author. Class-wise, all Paizo-classes, including antipaladin and bloodrager are covered, with rook and primordial mystic also getting their entries. The Wizard chapter is divided into sub-chapters for specialist wizards, with a universalist chapter as well. As hinted at before, ACG and Occult Adventures classes are included in the deal.

The nature of these texts varies wildly – Research Report MCMIII, for example, allows you to expend the boon as part of a thrown weapon attack the increase the range increment of the thrown weapon by 5 ft. per highest level “elixir” (should be “extract” – but at least, the glitch is consequent) in the book that you can cast – apart from the minor terminology snafu, a cool scaling mechanism. Pondering an investigation by testing a hypothesis, increasing a poison save DC, increase polymorph duration at an increased counter-vulnerability for the effect…really cool tricks here. The more well-read of GMs will also find quite a few unobtrusive easter-eggs here: The antipaladin prayer-book “Geranine, or the Misfortunes of Sin”, obviously represents a now to the writings of Marquis de Sade. Gnomic proverbs, which encompasses Wisdom such as “what you see is not what you get” made me chuckle. Some of these are really subtle: “Abyssmal,” according to the descriptive text, praises the abyss, and is very confused about what it is, noting devils, angels and armies of elemental siege engines. If you’re like me, you probably couldn’t help but smirk, for, in parts, the title was indeed my response to some chapters of “Paradise Lost”, the book this undoubtedly parodies – the preparation ritual’s boon, planar defiance, fits well with that theme.

There are also books about the world tree, collections of remedies, a heretical text that attempts to unify two faiths..what about collected posters from the walls of temple-inns? Divine records? A truly boredom-inducing snorefest that hides truly potent powers? Lore literally recorded on leaves? An inquisitor tome called “Watchers on the Wall”? (It refers to the Wall of Sleep in Porphyra, fyi) The Hexenhammer can be found, and mediums, with the right book, may ask famous Mr. Blaine, main character of a series of occult books. (In fact, several other books for other classes also reference Mr. Blaine…which was something I rather enjoyed.)

Did I mention the “Fall of the House of Strat” (XD) or the fact that psychics will really like finding the “Horrors of Old Dunmark”? And guess what? Witches will certainly want the account of “Dreams of the House-Witch”, which allows you to anchor an area when preparing spells, becoming nigh impossible to pin down. A clever twist, represented in rules as well. At the highest power levels, we can find the option to make some conjurations last 24 hours…and “Advancement by Fireball” is certainly a book that sounds like fun reading. (It can also enhance your damaging spells.) The illusionist tome “Selling Out” also got a chuckle out of me. The pdf is suffused with great ideas for the respective tomes, varying themes and focuses as well as boons constantly.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, depicting the CR 3 apiary devil, poisonous drones with a hive mind that can construct room of black foam in bewildering speed. I liked this critter, as it provides a rather neat excuse for the Gm to suddenly generate an alien and horrific environment.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, bordering in both cases on true excellence. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard that is mostly b/w with purple highlights. The pdf does not sport much artworks, just one previously used one – yes, this means that it is absolutely CHOCK-FULL with content. The pdf also comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience, making navigation as easy as can be.

Every GM has their pet-peeves regarding the prepping of the game. For me, the one aspect of the game I loathe with a fiery passion, is making spellbooks. I just don’t consider it to be enjoyable. Other folks will hate adding templates to monsters, but for me, it’s the much easier and quicker task of making concise spellbooks.

Because I want them to have a theme. An identity. And I seethe internally, whenever my players miss them, after I have puzzled together so many fitting spells, after I came up with a cool preparation ritual/boon. I talked about this in quite a few reviews; it’s one reason I tend to use more spontaneous casters than prepared ones.

And it’s, honestly, a damn pity. With all my books and pdfs, I can name surprisingly few that provide a decent accumulation of spellbooks with character, and these cases tend to gravitate towards the grimoires/high-powered end of things, where the books almost become their own characters. Now, don’t get me wrong: The most treasured possession of my current gaming group may well be “The Inverse Calculus of Unseen Refraction” by Legendary Games, but you can throw books of this power at the PCs all the time. You need moe subdued, yet relevant books, preferably ones with character.

Enter this pdf. Carl Cramér has done what I wouldn’t be able to do without rage-quitting at least 100 times. This book contains more than 100 (!!!) spellbooks, ready to use. Had-crafted. With unique benefits and character. This humble, unpretentious pdf managed to make reading through this vast amount of spellbooks actually INTERESTING. Heck, its allusions are so subtle and unobtrusive that you may not even get them all and still have a blast with this. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. The book retains its serious angle and concise in-game aesthetics without compromising its raw, undiluted utility.

In a surprising coup, this humble book represents honest, unpretentious design-WORK. Capital letters. This took a ton of effort, and it shows – it’s not something you can put together in a day or two. At the same time, this pdf very clearly emits a sense of playfulness and joy, which is remarkable, considering the very limited space that it has to operate within; each book does not have that much room to make it unique, and it should be seen as testament to the author’s passion that they don’t start to become redundant after half the book.

In short, this is a supplement that oozes passion and care, that genuinely feels like a supplement that was not only made to make the lives of GMs easier, but also to inspire, to spread some joy. This could have been an excellent example of “solid workmanship”, but it doesn’t settle for it, instead adding those little artistic flourishes that elevate a good book to a truly great one. Considering the type of book this is, the success in this endeavor should be considered to be even more impressive.

In short: Do yourself a favor, cut down your prep-time and get this pdf. Heck, even if you like making your own spellbooks, this may well be worth checking out, based on the strengths of the concepts this contains, based on the versatility of the books featured. This is an excellent, super-useful book, and receives 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spellbooks of Porphyra
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Partatingi Monster Codex
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/10/2018 09:36:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case you were wondering about the cover and haven’t yet checked out the Player’s Guide to the Seven Principalities: The partatingi are indeed hand-less parrotfolk that employ their wings as fingers of sorts. This pdf should be considered to be a spotlight of sorts regarding the race, providing further options for them. The pdf does not include the base racial stats for the partatingi, thus, in order to make most of this booklet, you should own the aforementioned player’s guide.

We begin this supplement with a well-written summary of life as a partatingi and some facts that can help roleplaying them. The first crunchier bits would be new alternate racial traits, 4 to be more precise. The first replaces the wing-hands with feet-hands, allowing you to basically wield weapons in your feet, while using the wings to stay aloft. This replaces, obviously, the wing hands and natural attack “racial characteristics,” as the trait calls them. This does not look like much, but it essentially eliminates the aspect of the partatingi that made them mechanically-distinct, as it gets rid of the light weapon focus. As an aside, this also makes magic item slot interaction slightly weird – could e.g. bracers/gloves still affect the feet-wielded weaponry? Instead of tail balance, we can opt for +2 to Diplomacy and Perception or +4 to Stealth in tropical environments, with bonuses properly codified. The natural attacks may be replaced with a strong beak for 1d8 /x3, which is properly codified as primary.

Weird: The pdf provides a racial variant at the very bottom of the sample NPC-section: Partatingikets are Small, have a slow base speed and replace parroting speech with a +4 racial bonus to Perform (act). No complaints here, other than the fact that it should have been in the section on alternate racial traits.

Okay, so the first archetype is pretty potent, but also absolutely amazing. The grown familiar loses the option to choose a familiar or bonded object. Why? Because he was mistaken for a regular parrot as a chick and served as a wizard’s familiar! That is a HILARIOUS angle and may be used as e.g. a backup character – sure, that time-magic may have killed the party’s wizard, but has also grown his “familiar.” I love this. The downside of this archetype is that it nets the wizard a lot of the abilities gained by familiars, including evasion at 2nd level. Minor wording deviations can also be observed – to quote the 11th level ability: “[…] you add your Intelligence modifier in addition to your Con modifier to Fortitude saves made against spells and spell-like abilities.” That’s a pretty obvious inconsistency here, and while it doesn’t impede the rules per se, I am still pretty positive that the archetype may be a bit too strong. The presentation of the benefits as bullet points is slightly uncommon, but the material is functional. If your game gravitates to higher power-levels, though, it should be fantastic. For grittier games, getting rid of evasion and the 11th level ability should nerf the archetype down.

The resplendent quill magus modifies arcane pool to become arcane quill: We have a pool here as well, one containing ½ class level (minimum 1) + Intelligence modifier points. The pool refreshes 1/day when preparing spells. At 1st level, the magus can expend 1 point as a swift action to transform a feather on the wing-hands into a light, bladed weapon he is proficient with. This weapon may not be disarmed, but can be sundered etc. The feather may be thrown (I assume, it behaves as the mimicked weapon in such a case), returning to feather form after the attack has been resolved. These weapons improve by +1 for every 4 levels beyond 1st, with 5th level providing the option to add weapon properties via these bonuses. Only one quill may remain thus transformed at a given time. Instead of medium and heavy armor proficiency gained at 7th and 13th level, the archetype gets +2 natural armor while he has at least 1 point in his arcane pool, with 13th level further increasing this bonus by +2. The archetype gets an arcane to increase the Spellcraft DC to identify the spells cast. I like the visuals of this one.

The third archetype is the screeching flyer unchained monk, replaces Stealth with bluff as a class skill. The archetype’s unarmed strikes deal all three physical damage types, which is ALWAYS a messy decision; not without precedence, granted, but more rewarding would be a simple means for the character to switch damage types as, for example a free action once per round, which would also emphasize player agenda. The archetype replaces stunning fist “and all abilities that scale with it” (DEFINE! That is a no-go. Replaced abilities are clearly spelled out.) with substituting his Dexterity modifier for the Charisma modifier used with Bluff to feint. At 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter, the archetype is intended to inflict +1d8 damage with unarmed attacks versus targets who “fail against the screeching flyer’s feint checks.” Oh boy, where do I even start? For how long? Additionally, this is not even close to how verbiage like this works in PFRPG. There are plenty of feinting options out there to read up on the verbiage. The bonus damage should also be codified.

Instead of 2nd level’s bonus feat, we’re locked into Improved Feint. Interesting: Ki expenditure is tied to requiring a piercing shriek that autofails Stealth. Simple, yet flavorful restriction. Purity of body is replaced with an ability that adds what should be class level instead of level, to Fly checks, as well as the option to spend a swift action and expend 1 point of ki for an untyped +20 bonus to Fly checks made that round. The bonus type should probably be competence or insight here. Instead of 6th level’s bonus feat, we add Wisdmo modifier to Reflex saves while flying. Flawless mind is replaced with the option to spend 3 points of ki as a standard action to duplicate way of the banshee with CL equal to class level, and the limitation of affecting just one target. The archetype gets a ki power for 16th level+ characters that can instantly break open the skull of a target with critical hits, prompting save or die and massive mental ability score damage on a successful save. The ki cost and caveat regarding precision damage retain this as very potent, but not broken per se.

The pdf also includes a new domain, the doubt domain, which allows you to emit bursts that render targets shaken on a failed save – but as an enchantment and NOT as a fear effect. Usable 3 + Wisdom modifier times per day. 6th level provides a couple of condition immunities, 20th immunity to all mind-affecting effects. The domain spells make sense to me.

There are 3 racial feats: Feather Darts is cool: It lets you pluck your own feathers as short-lived darts. If your Constitution exceeds 20, they are treated as masterwork. Minor complaint: How much feathers can you pluck thus per day? Free Fletches lets you reduce the cost of arrows made by 20 %, and also increase the range of such arrows when fired from a bow you made by +20 ft. Pilfering Plumage is lame in comparison: +4 to Sleight of Hands to hide small items? Yeah, let me waste a feat on that. Next up would be 5 racial spells, though one is basically a variant: Zone of Civil Discourse works like zone of truth, save it also affects the area with calm emotions. At 3rd level, that is a well-placed spell. Suspect motives prevents the use of flanking benefits and teamwork feats for its duration. Squawk of doom is odd. When you’re hit in combat by a melee attack, you let out a squawk that renders the attacker shaken for 1 round. The spell refers to “immediate”, which is a bad idea in rules-language, as it points towards immediate actions. The lack of a save to offset the condition is problematic. Tickle feathers is a swift action spell for +4 to Escape Artist/CMB to break free of grapples. Whistling Partatingi is nice, as it generates a light drizzle.

Now, the main meat of this supplement would be, as hinted by the title, the function as an NPC-codex of these parrotfolk. As such, we get unchained rogue 2 (CR off by 1), an investigator 6 (including a formula book), a level 6 storm lord druid, a green faith marshall inquisitor 4, a level 12 swashbuckler, a resplendent quill magus 7 (whose spellbook is called “On Being Awesome”) and more: Partatingi unfortunates, for example, are only born with animal intelligence. The pdf also includes an old unchained monk using the slightly problematic archetype mentioned before and we get a CR 9 sample grown familiar, once more, including spellbook.

The pdf concludes with a series of 4 suggested random encounter constellations that use the statblocks.

The pdf also comes with a bonus file penned by Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak, which depicts the Crimson Horror, a demonic CR 2 footsoldier. The build is solid, if not the most interesting I’ve seen. Still, as a bonus file, a nice added form of value.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are really weird. On the one hand, bonus types etc. tend to be tightly codified, and a majority of the material, on a rules-level, is pretty precise. At the same time, on a formal level, we have inconsistencies within one sentence and a lot of smaller violations regarding these components. Don’t get me wrong, you can usually discern what’s meant, but if you’re like me and that stuff bothers you, then this may feel oddly jarring. Apart from minor snafus, I considered the rules-aspects to be okay. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with purple highlights – it’s printer-friendly, and the pdfs sport the nice two cover artworks on main and bonus-file. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth and Mark Gedak deliver an interesting expansion for the cool partatingi race here. The majority of material herein has some interesting ideas and really cool visuals. The grown familiar idea, for example, while really potent, is genius. I also enjoyed the blade-feather-magus idea, even though the chassis could have carried more. As a whole, I consider this to be worth getting, though a few of the components inexplicably dip in quality regarding verbiage and rules-integrity. All in all, I consider this to be a somewhat mixed bag of a pdf, though one that is situated on the positive side of things. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Partatingi Monster Codex
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Stock Art: Vegetable Mount
by Richard W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/08/2018 07:43:05

I love this illustration! It inspired me to write an adventure about human knights replacing their horses with horseradishes, because the goblin tribes kept eating all their mounts.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Vegetable Mount
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Shibaten of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/25/2018 05:41:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, though it should be noted that they have been laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

We begin with a nice piece of introductory prose, one that is not wanting in “quack”-puns, before we come to the shibaten, or duck-folk, covering nomenclature, their relation with other races and adventuring, etc. Shibaten get +2 Strength and Charisma, -2 Wisdom, are humanoids with the tengu subtype and they are Small. Shibaten have a speed of 30 ft. and get a swim speed of 30 ft. as well, but only on the surface, as their swim speed is based on paddling. Shibaten have a hard time shutting up, and as such take a -4 penalty to Stealth, but do gain +2 to Perform (comedy), -4 to Perform (oratory, sing). They also get +2 to Intimidate and get Perception checks to notice things when within 5 ft. of the respective things. They also get +2 to CMD and CMB related to grapples. Bonus types are properly codified and we get a full age, height and weight table.

Paddling may be exchanged for a climbing speed of 20 ft., and if you accept lowering land speed to 20 ft., shibaten can hold their breath for 6 times Constitution rounds. Instead of the natural comedian angle, there is a variant that nets +2 to Perform (oratory), but nets -4 to Perform (act, sing). The grappling bonuses can be replaced with +2 to Profession (gambler) as well as Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive and Sleight of Hand regarding gambling. The uncanny perceptiveness can be replaced with +2 to Fly and all checks related to the driving of a vehicle. Instead of the Intimidate bonus and the natural comedian angle, shibaten can get +2 to Bluff, Disguise and Perform when mimicking sounds. Some shibaten can elect to not have racial bonuses penalties to Stealth and Intimidate. The Intimidate bonus may be replaced with a Bluff bonus and natural comedian and the Intimidate bonus may also be exchanged for +2 to all Perform checks. The grappling tricks can be replaced with choosing a skill each day, which is then temporarily considered to be a class skill, at +1 rank, up to the maximum. The Perception angle can be replaced with vestigial wings that net +4 to Acrobatics (oddly untyped here, when the rest of the traits do a really good job in codifying that) as well as x5 run-speed on land and water – and no it doesn’t work in heavy armor. The grappling may also be replaced with a perfectly-codified natural slam attack. Cool, btw.: Each alternate trait notes the color of plumage that most shibaten with this trait sport – this adds a sense of flavor to the traits and grounds them.

At this point, I should mention that traits and alternate racial traits are precise and fair in their respective exchanges; the paddle-mechanic is damn cool as well and provides a nice means of differentiation between swim speeds, the absence of which had always irked me. So kudos!

From here, we talk about the role of the race on Porphyra and then move on to a selection of race traits for the Shibaten, which includes the hilarious “Color Coded” one, which nets a +1 trait bonus to Intimidate and Diplomacy, making one of the skills class skill. Explanation: You thrive on stereotypes. Perhaps you’re good at thinking outside the egg – if that’s the case, you can 1/day attempt a skill check untrained that would usually not allow for that. Negating being flat-footed in surprise rounds by falling prone can be funny…and is pretty cool. The traits btw. get their bonus types right and blend tight mechanics with fun concepts.

The shibaten also receive 5 racial feats, the first of which will be Blow Over, which is elegant and smart: You can Intimidate targets, but limit the duration to 1d6+4 minutes. If you do, targets no longer decrease their starting attitude towards you. This…is so simple. Why haven’t I done this before?? Really cool! Break the Ice lets you use Perform (Comedy) to increase the starting attitude of targets, and yes, the feat can’t be cheesed – it can only be used once per target in a 24 hour period. Fear my Power lets you take a move action to Intimidate a target in 30 ft., but ends your turn. This is pretty potent for the right builds and needs to be handled with a bit of care. Grappling Charge lets you end a charge with a grapple, gaining +2 to CMD, -2 to AC. In Your Face makes you behave as +1 size category to determine which creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers.

Now, and this is really cool: Each of the favored class options (which include all of the classic classes, the ACG-classes, Brujo, Chi Warrior, Fencer, Kingpin, occult classes, quartermaster, sacerdote and vigilante) come with a short, flavorful statement that encapsulates the attitude towards the class. That makes the section a nicer reading experience and offers some fun RP-angles – kudos! The effects also are interesting and go in some cases beyond just playing with numbers – to give you an example, the psychic gains the following: “Add 1 to the psychic's level to qualify for and use the detect thoughts, telepathic bond, and telepathy class features. This allows the psychic to gain these abilities at an earlier level. If the psychic's effective level for these abilities exceeds 20, add 10 ft. to the range of the telepathy ability for each effective level after 20.” Meaningful, reigned in, yet flavorful. Really nice.

The pdf also includes racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Angry Quack barbarian (yes, archetype works for unchained barbarian as well!), who gets a modified skill list and 4 + Int skills, treating Intelligence as 13 for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites, replacing fast movement. Uncanny dodge is replaced with evasion. 3rd level yields martial flexibility, which improves at 6th, 12th and 15th level, replacing trap sense/danger sense, respectively. 5th level’s improved uncanny dodge is replaced with being no longer fatigued after a rage. And yes, usually, I’d be screaming bloody murder right now – but the ability has a caveat that explicitly prevents rage-cycling! Huge kudos! 9th level yields improved evasion and 18th level eliminates the action-restrictions in a rage. Cool engine-tweak.

The next one is a complex one, and one I expected to see from another company – the Everyman medium! This medium’s power does not derive from spirits at all! I know, right? Instead, the everyman spends a week embodying a legend (a duration that comes with GM guidance – big plus!) Instead of séances, the everyman can affect allies within 30 ft as though they had participated in a séance. Everymen cannot choose to use a legend at less than maximum power and the legend has no influence on the character, nor does it bestow an influence penalty. Supernatural abilities inherited from the medium become extraordinary. The archetype also gets a Quirk pool equal to the Charisma modifier – when he would take an influence penalty from a legend embodied, he instead loses a quirk point. Once his quirk points are emptied, he can no longer use the abilities. The pool replenishes once per day upon regaining spell slots – in essence, we have a countdown here. Nice. The everyman may choose to accept a taboo or an influence penalty from a legend embodied, which increases his quirk pool by +1. However, breaking this limitation costs him 2 quirk points! At 9th level, the everyman can spend 2 hours practicing the legend embodied, regaining 1 quirk point. This upgrades to 1 point per hour at 14th, 1 point per 10 minutes at 19th level. This replaces propitiation, astral journey and spirit mastery.

Instead of shared séance, everymen get a further +2 when receiving the Aid Another benefits, but only for the first person aiding him in a given task. Starting at 3rd level, we replace haunt channeler with abilities contingent on the legend embodied. +2 spells per spell level from sorc/wiz, fast movement, cavalier abilities – cool spirit powers! 13th level provides an expansion of spirit powers, btw.

Instead of spacious soul and location channeler, we get 2 skills to be treated as class skills, and in these skills, he is treated as if having ½ class level ranks; this upgrades to 6 skills at 18th level. Instead of connection channel, we get temporary Knowledge skills with at least ½ class level ranks, depending on legend. And yes, these rank-abilities do sport a cap to avoid abuse. The capstone nets +5 quirk points and lets him channel all 5 legends not chosen for 1 round granting access to intermediate, greater and supreme spirit powers. This probably should have a quirk point cost to activate or other limit…but then again, there’s a chance it’s intended to be this potent – it’s the capstone, after all. Really cool archetype!

Fighting Quacks are brawlers that gain proficiency with all simple and martial melee weapons as well as light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Instead of martial training, the character may use martial flexibility as part of using Bluff to feint or Intimidate to demoralize. Big kudos: Verbiage takes e.g. Dazzling Display etc. into account!!

The flurry of the class is modified for +1 additional attack at 2nd, +1 at 11th level. 4th level provides generic weapon focus, which applies to all unarmed attacks and melee weapons, but only for the purpose of feat-prerequisites. Weapon Focus, if known, applies its benefits universally in conjunction with this ability. This replaces knockout. The additional knockout uses are replaced with the option to use martial flexibility, save it may now grant a style strike that may be used in conjunction with flurries, including the style strike of another archetype herein. At 16th level, two style strikes may be gained simultaneously. Actually…another winner. Meaningful, interesting engine tweaks.

The Quack-fu monk is a Way of Life practitioner, i.e. a Charisma-governed monk (Unarmed & Dangerous introduced this way of thinking about martials and is a great, recommended homebrewing toolkit, but not required to use this pdf). The archetype replaces still mind with being treated as progressively larger to determine what kind of creatures you can affect with combat maneuvers, size-category-wise. Yes, you will suplex that dinosaur! The style strike noted before comes from sumotori and is a grabbing slap. And yes, I like it.

The last component here would be the Feather bloodline, a version of which is presented for bloodrager and sorcerer, with bonus spells properly adjusted for both. We get PERFECTLY codified talons for the bloodrager (and they are treated as both manufactured and natural weapons for purposes of special abilities) that scale regarding damage and threat range. They get types and damage types right. Perfect! 4th level yields plummeting wings that can’t ascend yet, which is upgraded to fly speed 60 ft. with average maneuverability at 8th level – but only in bloodrage. At 16th level, this becomes always available – and in bloodrage, you fly faster! 12th level is really clever, modifying the downward vertical distance for the purpose of spell range, ranged attacks and Perception checks. This is so simple, yet so cool! The capstone yields constant freedom of movement that can be reestablished sans action on your turn. Neat bloodline!

The sorcerer version nets Perception as skill and the arcana doubles the range of all divinations cast, as well as the range of detection and Perception abilities granted by such a spell. The talons of the sorcerer are not always on and instead can be maintained 3 + Cha-mod rounds; however, the vertical distance reduction is more potent here. 9th level provides +30 ft. for any fly speed, but does not per se grant it. 15th level yields a constant phantom limb (phantom wings), with new wings deployable as an immediate action. The capstone allows for the application of a list of metamagic feats sans spell slot increase, as well as one of them as a bonus feat. And yes, these also are on the bonus feat list, obviously.

The pdf comes with a bonus file penned by Mark Gedak – it showcases the Deigenae, represented as a CR ½ rook. The pdf also contains the base racial stats, though! These folks have +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, are humanoids with the extraplanar subtype and have a cleric’s aura, as governed by lineage. They get +2 to initiative as well as +2 to Knowledge (religion/planes) and Deigeneae with Cha 10+ can cast 3 cleric orisons 1/day as a SP, using Charisma as governing attribute. They use Charisma instead of Wisdom to govern their Will-save or get Iron Will as a bonus feat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, top-notch on a rules-language level. While I noticed a minor plural glitch etc., the rules are tight and manage to convey complex and innovative concepts. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ no-frills one-column standard with purple highlights. The interior artwork are nice full-color artworks that I have not seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér dove deep into the fringes of mythology, but when he found the shibaten spirit (really obscure!), we got this – and it’s awesome. I expected a ton of duck puns, and I got them. This made me chuckle a lot. However, this is NOT a useless comedy product; quite the contrary, in fact! The tie-in to pseudo-Japanese myth makes the shibaten as depicted actually work in the context of “serious” fantasy, Sure, they are a bit goofy, but you should NOT underestimate them! And yes, we get a ton of nods towards the much-beloved Duck Tales, obviously – but the book manages to actually transcend its niche! The class options focus on engine tweaks, which are traditionally not my favorites – here, however, we get quite an impressive array. Each of the options here does something innovative and interesting. Heck, even traditionally bland components have a narrative tie-in that adds to them, making them more than the sum of their parts and duck jokes.

In short, this is a really, really good racial supplement! It’s not perfect, but it contains a ton of actually interesting tricks and shows a deep understanding of what works and what doesn’t, of what’s interesting, etc. This is a fun supplement, yes, but it also is a really damn good one! Even if your kneejerk response is to cringe and move on, do yourself a favor and check out these fellows – the rules manage to be actually innovative in some cases! The shibaten are worth having. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shibaten of Porphyra
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Heroes of the Seven Principalities
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2018 01:09:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the neat Porphyran Player’s Guides clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 69 (!!) pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first of all, we begin with a well-written little piece of prose that introduces us to the Seven Principalities and life there – these 7 islands (+one below the waves) are a pretty unique environment and the roles assumed by the races within the respective contexts are explained in each of the racial write-ups, which also make up the first chapter of the book.

We begin with the Erkunae, traditionally one of my favorite Porphyran races. These near-humans are treated as humans for the purpose of abilities and the like and gain +2 Strength and Intelligence, -2 Constitution. They gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (nobility) as well as Knowledge (engineering) and (dungeoneering) as well as to Stealth while inside a building or construction of some sort. Additionally, they gain +1 to atk when facing down a single opponent, who must be armed with a weapon – so no bonuses versus monks and similar martial artists! This is interesting to me, but as a minor complaint, the bonuses have not been properly codified as racial. The erkunae are distinguished by their pacts with elder powers, 6 of which are provided to choose from. These duplicate a limited form of summon monster as a SP (not italicized properly) and allow for the calling of elementals, skeletons as well as calling forth a familiar or animal companion – to nitpick here, the ability should specify that the called creature uses character level to determine the potency of the respective companion. Also, the called companion/familiar should specify that it can’t be stacked on top of an already existing companion. So yeah, these two need a bit of clarification. The other pacts include getting a masterwork brineblade or using guidance via conch shells. I liked the latter 2, but they make it quite evident that the companion/familiar summon should be nerfed. Erkunae are obsessed with blades and inflict -1 damage with piercing and bludgeoning weapons, but get proficiency with all slashing weapons – I assume this includes weapons capable of dealing more than one damage type. There are three race traits (erroneously called “Racial traits”, which can be confusing at first – that’s something else! Annoyingly, this guffaw extends to the other races as well.) that are interesting – for example, there is one that nets a 1 in 6 chance of having the first two rounds of rage or bloodrage a day as free! Cool! That being said, the traits don’t use the proper bonus type.

Humans in the 7 principalities get 6 additional choices to choose from, each one representing a different focus – here, bonus types are tight and I found no issues. Kudos! The three race traits provided are solid, though we once more lack the proper bonus type. Now the next race is interesting: We are introduced to the Kanseeran, the crabfolk! Yes, crabfolk! They are medium creatures with a slow speed and a swim speed of 20 ft., are amphibious and get +2 Str, +4 Con, -2 Cha and Int. This makes them lopsidedly geared towards martial pursuits and the high Constitution score bonus makes them a bit more min-maxy in that regard than what I personally enjoy. They are amphibious and get a +2 natural AC. They have darkvision and the dwarf subtype and get two pincer claws that inflict 1d4 damage that is treated as all three physical damage types. These claws net them a +4 racial bonus versus disarm attempts when wielding two-handed weapons, but also prevent them from using light or one-handed melee weapons. The claws are not codified as primary or secondary natural weapons and its somewhat hard to default here, considering that they share characteristics with bites. Anyway, they get a +2 dodge bonus versus sahratan natural attacks and +4 racial bonus to saves versus their lure ability. They also get +2 to Appraise and Profession, which is oddly not typed, but oh well. They can charge sideways, providing a +1 racial bonus to atk and damage when charging. The traits are nice, but lack the type once more. As an aside: The race gets one frickin’ AMAZING full-color artwork!

The lizardfolk of the principalities get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, are reptilian humanoids with a swim speed of 30 ft. They get hold breath and a 1d3 bite and two 1d4 claws – here, the natural attacks are properly codified. They get +4 to Acrobatics when balancing, courtesy of their tail and +2 natural armor bonus. The traits are nice, but, bingo, miss their bonus types once more.

The second thoroughly unique race featured herein would be the Partatingi, or parrotfolk. These fellows are Medium, get +2 Int and Dex, -2 Con and gain a +4 racial bonus to Linguistics and learn 2 languages per point invested in the skill. They get one bite and two talon natural attacks, all of which clock in at 1d4s, and they are properly codified. Kudos. They may use ventriloquism as a non-magic ability for 1 minute per character level per day and get a +1 natural AC as well as +4 racial bonus to Acrobatics to balance. Here’s the thing, as the tea-cup holding Partatingi-artwork perfectly illustrates: They have wing hands. Yes, they get a fly speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability. However, when holding anything, that drops by 10 ft. They can’t hold tools or manufactured weapons while flying. This does somewhat limit this ability. Still, a more elegant solution would have been to impose a hard cap on unassisted flight at low levels and then delimiting it around 5th level, when PFRPG assumes unassisted flight to be available. I am not complaining too loud here, since the feathery wing-hands mean that they can only wield light melee weapons effectively, taking a -2 penalty to attack with all other weapons. They do get a +2 bonus to atk with light melee weapons, though – oddly, this one is not classified as a racial bonus. The race traits once more are interesting. Okay, I liked this race. It’s not for everyone, but the wing-hands with finger-feathers? I can get behind that inspired weirdness.

Okay, form this section, we move on to the history of the seven principalities, which once had been the luxurious Eight Delights of the erkunae, basically colonies/vacation spots until the empire collapsed; thereafter, war ravaged the lands until Romos the Beguiler, prince of now sunken Torl, made the erkuane lords wage their wars on tabletops instead. This was all fine and good, but then, Asterion came. The mighty minotaur mage took control of the island of Huq, and when the council met to decide on his claim, he promptly used a potent artifact to sink the whole island, drowning everyone. He rules with an iron fist until adventurers managed to deduce that his artifact had but one use and then managed to assassinate the mighty beast. Still, only two of the group survived, and they took the mantles of rulership for two of the new 7 remaining islands. In the defeat of the dread despot, trade is picking up and alchemy flourishes. Really cool: We get global modifications for item category prices – metal is, for example, more expensive and carved seashell (called “Simbi”) or milled obsidian (called “Black”) are commonly used as coinage. These are small aspects, mind you, but reading how these are carried and used makes the area come alive for me. From here, we move to the neat full-color map and then proceed to cover the respective settlements that can be found within the principalities, all of which btw. come with flavorful introductory text and a proper settlement statblock as well as hooks galore for the enterprising GM to develop.

Speaking of “for the GM to develop” – Asterion was a minotaur. As such, he had a famous mega-dungeon-labyrinth of sorts, one of stacked demiplanes which PCs can now explore. In a nice take on the subject matter, the pdf recommends an online labyrinth creator and mechanics. We also get a nice sample labyrinth map. The pdf then proceeds to cover the notable personages of the islands, providing inspiring fluff-only entries for the islands of the principalities, with 3 such NPCs provided per principality. These characters also note remarkable possessions, alignment and suggested class levels, adding a bit of guidance for the GM. One of my favorite chapters in the book, as the NPCs are interesting.

Now, this being a player’s guide, we also get a ton of class options: Alchemists can opt to become brine bakers, who replace Brew Potion with the option to create weaponry from sea water. These brineblades inflict bonus non-lethal damage on critical hits, which is further increased over the levels, replacing the poison resistance/immunity ability tree. The archetype’s discoveries allow for the creation of abjurant salt or grave salt. I actually like this one. It’s an interesting, flavorful ability modification. Now, Asterion may be vanquished, but his shadow still looms – one of the class options that represent this would be the bullman antipaladin, who replaces detect good with a horned, crimson helmet that acts as an unholy symbol, can inflict 1d8 damage (type missing) and nets Improved Bull Rush. Okay, what if it goes missing/is sundered? No idea. Does it occupy the helmet slot? This is an item, confused as a class ability, and as such sports some serious issues in the finer rules-interactions. The archetype gets a smite-variant and replaces plaguebringer with immunity to being flat-footed. Unholy champion is replaced with 1/day create demiplane, usable only in subterranean environments. The Gray Blades swashbuckler, former navy turned pirates, replace Profession with Stealth. They get limited per day uses of better stealing instead of charmed life and replace swashbuckler training with Improved Steal and baked in bonuses.

The high beast unchained barbarian replaces danger sense with a bonus to CMD to avoid being swallowed whole and a bonus to AC versus natural weapons and to Perception to avoid being surprised. They get +4 to saves versus poisons when raging, replacing indomitable will. They get a rage power that nets bonuses to damage versus targets with natural attacks and save-less stunning crits versus animals and magical beasts. The order of the bear is interesting in that they represent somewhat swashbuckly rebels who can cancel their charges and the like with a bonus 5-foot step, which can be rather interesting. The unchained rogue rigger gets a modified proficiency list as well as specialized Equipment Trick rope tricks. These are cool, interesting and make sense. Storydancer bards get a specialized sign language that allows them to convey concepts to intelligent species. They also eliminate the language-dependent descriptor for spells and replaces well-versed with a bonus to concentration checks with somatic spells. Here’s the issue: RAW, the spells still have verbal components and I’m pretty sure that spells that lose the language descriptor should not be potentially be made Still as well – otherwise, we’d have spells sans any components, and the theme of dance-based casting would be lost. The tribal surfer ranger gets access to tower shields and is a specialist of the paddleboat style, perfectly navigating the waves. Nice one. The volcanic bloodline presented labors under the misconception that eliminating the arcana suffices to make it viable or mechanically consistent for bloodragers as well. That is not the case. No, I am not going to bother listing the myriad of reasons why. They are evident enough.

The pdf also contains two 5-level prestige classes, the first of which would be the pirate hunter, who gets good Fort-saves, full BAB-progression, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. Prerequisite-wise, it requires a lawful alignment and 3 different skills at 5 ranks and Leadership. Proficiency-wise, the PrC nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and a firearm as well as light and medium armor. The archetype builds on Leadership, granting a commissioned ship and may 1/day cancel a steal, sneak attack or critical hit, 2/day at 5th level. Third level nets a gold/item-bonus and 2nd, 3rd and 4th level net a prince’s edict. These include gaining cannons or Amateur Gunslinger and the like. Okay, but nothing mind-blowing.

The second PrC is the royal messenger, who needs 3 skills at 5 ranks and the Noble Neutraility feat as well as the lore master class feature. The PrC nets 6 + Int skills per level, d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression and slightly non-standard Ref- and Will-save progressions, scaling up to +4. The PrC nets spellcasting progression on 4 of its levels and grants proficiency with simple weapons as well as longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword and shortbow. They are also proficient in light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and don’t incur arcane spell failure when using these. They also get immunity: “Any being with an intelligence of 6 or better must make a roll of 10 + the messengers Charisma bonus + his royal messenger bonus to make a melee attack against him.” What’s this ominous “royal messenger bonus”? I have no idea. Next ability isn’t better: “When performing any verbal-based action, such a starting a bardic performance or casting a spell with a Verbal component, a royal mes­senger also treats his initiative roll as a 20, if he chooses.” WHAT THE F***. Seriously?? This is SUPER-OP. Also: I have no idea how in the infinite layers of the abyss this is supposed to work. You decide when you act on your turn, not at the start of the round. Can the messenger retroactively increase initiative? Total mess of an ability. Added spells known, evasion, money “a free masterpiece” (should be bardic masterpiece)…yeah, I like the idea here, but the execution is messy.

The pdf also includes a pretty massive feat chapter. One nets +6 to saves versus fear effects. … Yeah, not impressed either. We get the xth feat that nets bonuses when outnumbered, increases to favored terrain bonuses. We get a limited daily use option to expend prepared spells to increase Dodge’s bonus, which is neat and one of the feats I liked. I like the notion of a muffled gunshot as well, but “add +2 to critical damage, if achieved.“ is painfully non-standard verbiage. It also fails to specify whether the bonus damage is multiplied or not. Swim speed for monks of 3rd level and Con 13 is a flavorful option. This is a feat text: “You may ignore the effects of any one of the following, once per day: successful Intimidate check, unsuccessful Sense Motive check (reroll), unsuccessful Will saving throw (reroll).” So, can I reroll a Will save or Sense Motive check, or can I ignore a failed reroll? That’s just sloppy. As a whole, the feat chapter is the weakest in the history of Porphyran player’s guides. The rules are weak and the benefits are not interesting for the most part.

The spell-chapter is an improvement in quality overall, featuring a 3rd level combined protection from evil/chaos that also affects undead vreated by evil effects. The spellcaster debuff aphasia is nice and the spell that requires water to execute a line-shaped (I assume 5-ft.-width) brinestrike is similarly a cool visual. A chaos-themes spell is interesting in its oscillation between buff and debuff, though I wished bonuses were properly codified. Sacrificing targets to elementals, fantasy islands (lavishly illustrated), getting temporarily the no breath quality – the chapter is not necessarily perfect, but nice. Cool: The magic item chapter includes the legendary weapon Asterion’s Soul – a blade that increases in potency with the wielder’s levels. We get partatingi/bird-folk blades (with serviceable, if non-standard verbiage benefits), opaline helmets and gemstone blades. Not all items are perfect, though – there is a trident that is missing the activation action from its active, secondary use. On the cool side, there is a vest that can produce magical pistols and Asterion’s island-disintegrating artifact can be found here. All in all, rules-wise my favorite chapter herein; not perfect, but has some nice components.

The mundane equipment contains pipes that can be turned into blowguns (heck yes!) and paddleboats and the pdf provides a ginormous list of available items, grouped by types and the like. This should seriously be standard for ANY player’s guide. Big plus, as the section is super-handy for GM and players alike, taking the annoying and time-consuming minutia back and forth of “You can’t get that here.” “Can I have XYZ?” “Yes, but it costs…” off your hands. Big kudos.

The pdf concludes with an NPC codex of sorts, providing a CR 8 erkunae brine baker, a CR 17 half-elf bullsman, a CR 4 human gray blade, a CR 3 kanseeran high beast, a CR 11 human cavalier, a CR 10 kanseeran pala/pirate hunter (including his ship!), a CR 4 lizardfolk rigger, a CR 10 paratatingi bard/royal messenger, a CR 8 partatingi storydancer, a CR 7 erkuane tribal surfer and a CR 14 lizardfolk sorcerer with the volcanic bloodline. All of these come with brief stories, adding a touch of character to them.

The pdf comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the Leiopleurodon, a CR 5 prehistoric aquatic animal that is a potent ambush predator and which can accelerate in brutal bursts. Nice one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are weaker than usual for Porphyran player’s guides – there are a couple of formal hiccups, but more importantly, the rules this time around are much more inconsistent in quality and precision than usual for the series. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and nice, full-color artworks, some of which are downright amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Huh. Weird. Aaron Hollingsworth and Perry Fehr’s last collaboration was much stronger than this one from a rules-perspective. And indeed, this is rather painful for me to say, but this Porphyran player#s guide is perhaps more contingent than any of its brethren before it on why you’re interested in it. You see, theme-wise, this is EASILY one of my favorite player’s guides ever. Yes, I kid you not. I mean, a weird Caribbean-like environment, with sprinkles of Krete and ancient Greece strewn in? Alchemists that make weapons from brine? What’s not to like. I adored the flavor and theme of the region, and while I do not subscribe to all design decisions made regarding the new races, I really LOVE the notion of crab-dwarves and parrot-folk. Come on, that is damn cool, different and creative! The fluff herein and the setting per se are fantastic and inspiring.

At the same time, the mechanics underlying them oscillate rather significantly in quality – while some of the components are very precise, to the point and well-made, there also are plenty of hiccups in the details, some of which seriously affect the functionality of some components. There also is a bit more filler material in the rules-relevant options here. Compared to the series’ previous installments, the crunchy components fall somewhat flat, which is a damn pity. The lack of occult adventures-support is somewhat sad, considering how cool a crabfolk mesmerist would have been. Speaking of which: Where are the eye stalks as a alternate racial trait? Where is the partatingi option that lets them parrot messages and later spells in a limited manner? The concepts herein are amazing, but the execution of the supplemental rules-material left me rather unimpressed. I would have loved to see more here; the themes and amazing flavor deserve more. So…how to rate this. See, this is where it gets tough. Regarding glitches and issues and rules, this falls into the mixed bag territory. Regarding flavor and ideas, this is fantastic and worthy of the highest accolades. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If you’re in it for the lore, then round up and check this out – it in inspiring! Otherwise, though, I sadly have to recommend rounding down. Now, I try to take the type of book into account when reviewing, and while I would not recommend this on the merits of its rules, I can recommend it, with reservations, on the strength of its concepts as a player's guide/region sourcebook. As such, my final verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroes of the Seven Principalities
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Stock Art: Evil Tree
by Florian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2018 06:50:55

Awesome artwork as all by Gary Dupuis and Purple Duck!

Thanks!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Evil Tree
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Hybrid Class: The Hermit
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2018 05:45:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

The hermit is a hybrid of witch and druid. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are divine spellcasters that draw their spells from the druid and witch spell lists and uses Wisdom as governing attribute for spellcasting. They may not cast spells opposed to their alignment and they learn a few spells when leveling up; the hermit may also learn spells from other hermits and their spellcasting is intricately entwined with their lantern. This must be a source of illumination, though the precise form varies from hermit to hermit. The lantern can shine light like a bull’s eye lantern or hooded lantern and may be lit or extinguished as a swift action. It is not affected by environmental effects and requires no fuel. The lantern may be enhanced via item creation feats. Damaged lanterns regain full hit points next time the hermit rests and destroyed lanterns may be replaced. It has hardness 8 and ½ the hermit’s hit points. Lanterns act as divine focus and the hand holding it counts as unoccupied for the purpose of somatic components.

Okay, so far, so cool. Once a lantern is created, you choose one of 4 rune powers. The first expands the area of circular spell effects (cones, cylinders, etc.) as a swift/immediate action 3 + Wis-mod times per day, upgrading to +10 ft. at 10th level. I per se like this, but since RAW, the area of effect increase is total, not based on radius, it is a bit awkward - +2.5 feet radius makes for some off shapes. Making the increase based on radius would have been much more elegant. The second rune makes the lantern behave as a masterwork “light flail”, which can be temporarily enchanted with scaling bonuses, but no unique special weapon qualities. RAW, this bonus can also exceed the +5 cap, which is not how this type of thing usually works. This has a couple of issues. One: There is no “light flail” – it’s either “flail” or “heavy flail”. Or dire flail. Or flailpole. But not “light flail.” Two: RAW, the “light” flail (i.e. the non-heavy one) is a martial weapon, for which the hermit has no proficiency. The next rune grants an untyped, scaling bonus to all saves for allies in the light. It lacks an activation action. The final rune is the inverse, debuff version – but it’s missing its activation action as well.

2nd level nets endurance, 3rd level nets “withdraw” (not the smartest choice for the ability, considering the withdraw action), which acts as 3 + Wis-mod sanctuary per day, with ½ CL added to the DC (WUT??) It also nets + Wisdom mod AC when using the ability. 9th level nets commune as a supernatural variant, with 13th and 17th level increasing the number of questions he can answer per day. At 1st and 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the hermit gets to choose an illumination, which are governed by Int, and which include a +4 Disguise and Bluff bonus to pass off as older, a thousand faces starting at 14th level. There is an illumination that adds the Wisdom modifier a second time to AC when using withdraw. Cool: Getting a bonus to saves versus breathable hazards via filtering, unkempt hair. Weird: The internal balance of these can come off as strange. There is one illumination that nets +1/2 class level to Sense Motive, Diplomacy and Knowledge check DC to learn about the hermit; there also is one that nets +2 to two skills. Another illumination nets new spells or a metamagic bonus feat or a limited array of witch hexes. Immunities are properly situated behind sufficient levels. Weird: Adding 1d4 piercing damage to touch attacks. That’s not how fingernails or the like usually work in PFRPG. All in all, some cool visuals, but also some guffaws. The selection could be longer as well, considering the amount of illuminations the class gets.

The capstone allows the class to expend a spellslot as a swift or immediate action to grant herself a bonus equal to the spell’s level to a Wisdom-based check. The capstone also nets permanent true seeing and sight in perfect darkness. The pdf includes 4 class feats: Additional illumination does what it says on the tin. Become the Dim World nets 50% concealment when using the withdraw class feature, further adding to the vast power of that trick. Born on a Monday nets +2 to social interactions with fey and increases starting attitude to indifferent or better. Legacy of Diogenes sounds cool, but, alas, does not really represent one of the famous exploits of the man, but jus represents a numeric escalation.

Nice: We get a list of magical illumination sources as well as a magic lantern that nets detect illusion once per day and once per night. It also is utterly broken: The limited spellcasting of the class regarding availability is removed here – this one makes the WHOLE spell-lists of druid and witch available. For less than 10K price. Either stick to the limit, or don’t. An item should not be practically required/so good it MUST be taken by every hermit. The pdf closes with a massive list of favored class options, which cover the core races, less common ones and Porphyran races. There is some overlap between the individual FCOs and they vary in usefulness – more spells or withdraw-duration, for example, are more potent than other tricks here.

The pdf comes with a bonus file that includes the CR 5 Chingatrüll, which was also featured in Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the class has some issues in the design. Not to the extent where it becomes unusable, but to an extent where it becomes problematic. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artworks apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingworth’s Hermit has the makings of a cool class. The idea here is strong – the old hermit, with ragged hair and lantern illuminating, quite literally, the dark in the world….or luring it. I like the theme here. While the withdraw-DC-increase is overkill, it’s limited in its uses, so that’s a plus of sorts. That being said, the hermit could have really used more unique illuminations. Similarly, the lantern BEGS to be used to modify the area of effect of spells and hexes and abilities – instead, it amounts to an object-familiar-substitute. Speaking of objects – the magic lantern that delimits the balancing factor for the spell-list flexibility of the class should die in a blaze. This one is frustrating, fr it has the potential to become outstanding – the spell-engine is interesting and the lantern-idea, half-implemented though it may be, could carry so much more. I can’t rate that potential, though. Hence, 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: The Hermit
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CE 9 - Both Foul and Deep
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2018 09:45:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This DCC-toolkit clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with a massive 50 pages of content, though these are formatted for 6’’ by 9’’ digest size (A5), which means you can fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first, in case you’re new to the series: The Campaign Elements-series is basically a collection of set-pieces supplemented with rules, intended to be dropped as is into an ongoing campaign…or to be used as a scavenging ground. As such, this sits squarely on the line between modules and setting supplements – while it can be used as written, it is just as useful as a file to supplement other modules; take e.g. “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” – the module assumes that the smartest way for the PCs to enter the locale would be via the sewers, but there isn’t much going on there. This is where an enterprising judge can employ this supplement, as we get a ton of material for sewers.

Wait. I know. Sewer levels/environments have a bad reputation. I can name, at the top of my head, a ton of modules that take place in sewers. Among these, 10%, at most, are worthwhile. But what if you want/need to run such a module? Well, this pdf pretty much helps dealing with that issue. We begin with a summary of different hooks to get the PCs down into the sewers. From there, we move on to general terrain features, the first thing a lot of modules in sewers fail to properly take into account. So yes, falling into sewage is a BAD idea – 6 different diseases can be found herein, ranging from mites and parasitic worms and scarlet rash. The second component many sewer-scenarios get wrong is that they depict, ironically, I might add, sewers as a mechanically sterile environment – this pdf does help here quite a bit: We get a d30 random encounter table, which brings me to one of the main components of this pdf.

You see, we not only get the usual people of the sewers (including secret taverns, cultists, etc.), but also a bunch of components we usually don’t see: Filthlarks, for example, the scavengers of the filthy places, gentlemen clubbers going to a clandestine meeting…and there are resurrection men; basically grave robbers in the name of science. Beyond those, we also get what amounts to a pretty massive bestiary section: We get albino alligators, aliens rats from another world, blood slugs, centipedes that seek to burrow into your flesh, carrion moths that spread hallucinogenic powder via their wings…even cooler: What about the cessceada? These swarming insects can cause the skin of those infected to slough off. There are beetles that can be sold to the dyer’s guild for profit, particularly agile drain runner foes, disgusting oozes, filth elementals… Have I mentioned the globlins that split by fission? Hellspore fungi and lamprey swarms are cool, and in the dark recesses, there also is the terrifying loathly one; there are phantom gentlemen…and more. This bestiary section is really cool, with each of the entries breathing some form of truly intriguing and captivating idea, in spite of the sometimes down to earth theme.

The pdf also provides the patron Squallas, mistress of the night soil rivers, but we only get the invoke patron table here – no custom spells, patron taint or spellburn, but all right. This would btw. be as well a place as any, there are quite a few really nice full-color illustrations throughout the pdf – particularly the sewer troll image is nice.

At this point, it should be noted that judges with an extensive library of books may find some nice easter eggs here and there – in the case of the troll, for example, a nod to the upcoming, Angels, Daemons and Beings Between II by Shinobi 27 Press. These nods are unobtrusive enough to not impede your enjoyment of the content, but certainly should be fun for quite a few judges…and they provide obscure and potentially easily ignored links you can further develop…but I digress.

Now, so far, I have mainly commented on the toolbox-y aspects of this pdf, but it is also an adventure locale. We get a solid b/w-map of the sewer-area depicted AND a player-friendly iteration, which is a huge plus, as far as I’m concerned. Now, the keyed encounter areas provided for the judge come with well-written read-aloud text (we have come to expect nothing less from Daniel J. Bishop!), but also feature unique hazards and creatures beyond the ones already mentioned – some are obviously intended as plot-threads for the judge to further develop, while others are just amazing; the image of a massive spider that carries its brood on its back is great, and just let it be known that just because corpses move doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily undead…which can result in a rather cool scene. Oh, and the line from the core book? Yes, there is a means to learn a spell from the mouth of a dead man…and how that phrase is twisted is really cool. I could explain all of the 9 keyed encounters here, but I’d frankly do the book a disservice.

You see, the series has traditionally a “squeezing it dry”-section, wherein you can find further suggestions to get the maximum amount of mileage out of the book – considering how strongly the toolbox/bestiary aspect is emphasized here, I can most definitely see judges employ this pdf’s contents far beyond the exploration of the sewers presented here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The full-color artworks are captivating, cool and deserve a big shout-out. The cartography featuring a player-friendly map is really cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable.

Daniel J. Bishop’s name on a book is, for the most part, a great indicator that it will rock – in fact, even if you do not play DCC, both new school and old school games can get something out of his offerings. There is a crisp quality to his prose, an overarching vision that not only gets the peculiarities of DCC, but, more importantly, really understands the tone and what makes it stand out. There is always an aspect of the weird here, one that feels like it was drawn straight from the greats. In fact, much like Leiber or Howard, he is adept at using precious few words to inspire; his fantasy, infused with a little dose of gonzo and the soul of sword & sorcery, has a distinct tone that is both grounded and wondrous, that retains this strange, captivating sense of plausibility. This booklet brings this aesthetic to sewers, perhaps the most maligned of adventuring locales, and elevates them. In short, this little booklet is one of the very few supplements/modules dealing with sewers that I’d consider superb – the monsters are so cool and interesting that quite a few may well warrant conversion. DCC judges, the primary audience of this book, should consider this a must-purchase anyway. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
CE 9 - Both Foul and Deep
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Desert Classes of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2018 05:13:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out – provided your eyes are good enough, obviously.

Okay, so this pdf contains a total of no less than 5 different classes, so let’s take a look at the details, shall we?

The first of these would be the ascetic, who can be envisioned as a variant class of the unchained monk. These folks must be lawful, has d10 HD, 4 + Int mod skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger, javelin, quarterstaff, scimitar, shortspear, siangham, sling, and spear. They don’t get access to monk weapons per se and get a scaling AC bonus, but lose it when using shield or armor. Interesting: The pdf uses the great toolkit Unarmed and Dangerous’ Way of the Body ability to tie the AC-bonus to Con. And no, you don’t need that pdf, but it shows a nice, applied use here. The class gets full BAB-progression, all good saves and 3rd level yields fast movement +10 ft., which improved by +10 ft every 3 levels thereafter. The class begins play with Endurance and flurry of blows as well as stunning fist. At 4th level, stunning fist can be sued to calm emotions, 8th can be used as a targeted dispel magic; 12th level nets staggered for 1d6+1 rounds and 20th level provides euphoric tranquility for 2d6+1 rounds and durations of subsequent uses stack. The class gets monk unarmed damage progression and Improved Unarmed Strike etc., with the table for Small and Large ascetics provided as well.

At 2nd level, ascetics gain Diehard and can subsist on ¼ food and water etc. They also gain evasion. 3rd level nets a Wis-governed ki pool, with 7th, 10th and 16th level providing the DR-bypassing scaling. Being ascetics can make them feel brash – as such, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide penalties to social graces, but also subsequent environmental adaptation. (Here, an endure elements has a minor formatting hiccup – the (i) for italicization has not been closed); this progresses to make them seem monstrous at 12th level, but also yields hide in plain sight at 16th level.

4th level and every 2 levels thereafter yield a ki power, with abundant step, diamond mind, empty body, etc. all codified as such and e.g. the option to use ki to treat rolled Acrobatics checks as natural 20s for 1 minute, emphasizing reliable skirmishing. Combining movement with flurries via ki and rerolls for allies, divination and longer holding breath etc. – the selection loses cobra breath, diamond body, elemental fury, elemental blast, ki guardian, ki blocker, ki mount, ki range and quivering palm, but gains empty body as an etherealness option. The decreased flexibility makes sense here, considering the upgrade in power of the base chassis.

4th level yields still mind, 5th purity of body and 5th level, style strike, with 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding another style strike, with 15th level allowing for a second style strike per round. The list replaces elbow smash with rock throw. 6th level makes the attacks executed behave as though they were ghost touch and 9th level yields improved evasion. 10th levels provides immunity to poisons, lets the character function in a vacuum and eliminates the need for sleep, food, etc. – ki points are automatically regenerated at dawn. 13th level yields tongue of the sun and moon, 14th DR, 17th timeless body and 18th level a ki-powered aura that can calm targets as well as negate penalties and bonuses to mental attributes, curing damage and drain to them, with a 24-hour hex-like caveat to avoid spamming. The capstone yields an outsider apotheosis. We get an array of favored class options for various porpyhran races here – and yes, this holds true for all of the classes herein; I’m not going to repeat myself in that regard for all of them.

Okay, this class should have highlighted the design paradigm employed herein: Basically, we have variant classes that exceed in modifications what you’d usually see from a standard archetype, but which are very clearly akin to more widespread class options. As such, they can be considered to be the local color iterations of a specific trope. In order to maintain the integrity of the review and its usefulness and to avoid boring you to tears by rehashing basics, I will proceed to now highlight the differences of the remainder of classes.

The defender of the city-state is very interesting, in that the class per se is very much akin to the paladin, with smite, spells, two good saves, etc. However, in a twist that I very much welcome, it makes use of the subjectivity of morals: While all such beings consider themselves to be both Lawful and Good, that need not be the case: Both patron, to whom fealty is sworn, and individual can deviate from this, and indeed, the class abilities reflect these variables, focusing not on the destruction of a monolithic evil as a concept, but rather on the enemy of the city/state/nation…you get the idea. The code of honor is provided and the class also gets some differentiation fighting tricks and home-turf-based options, generally making for a less angelic and monolithic, but more down-to-earth type of warrior that should fit rather well into games that prefer a more nuanced approach to matters of morals.

The next class would be the sand caster, a wizard variant who can fire blasts of slashing sands and substitute sands as focus and components of inexpensive components, which is btw. properly codified. Damage substitution, limited domain tricks…this one is really evocative and something I enjoy. The high-level (level 19) option nets limited fast healing after sandcasting, but consumes sand in the vicinity, preventing abuse.

The sand scarab would be another unchained monk-based variant, but, unlike the ascetic, does not gain good Will-saves. Focusing less on mysticism, their ki strikes don’t get the same supernatural tricks, but they can exert control over the base damage type caused, their bonus feats represent their more martial bent and ki power and style strike lists are modified in different ways, including a verminous hybrid shape as a ki power. Higher levels yield further vermin-themed abilities, like deciphering patterns from the behavior of different vermin they can observe, gaining divination-y abilities thus.

Now, while all of the options herein tie in rather neatly with Porphyra, the sharif provides a basic premise of sample city states by region, for, like the defender of the city, it is basically a variant take on the cleric that focuses instead on upholding the integrity of the city state in question. This ties in once more with the patronage idea and the modifications of the class emphasize player agenda: A city with a strong martial tradition may, for example, bestow a ranger style as part of its traditions and communion with legends from the city’s past may enhance summoning as an alternate choice here. All in all, once more a flavorful alternative.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf, the sin spider attractor by Perry Fehr, who clocks in at CR 5 – basically a flabby spider that generates a lure as a twisted ambush predator. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it before, but yeah – like the critter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are very good. On a formal level, I noticed a couple of minor snafus. The pdf provides really nice full-color pieces for all classes and otherwise adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. In a strange decision, the pdf sports no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment at this length.

Carl Cramér’s writing, based on those of C.A. Suleiman, is rather nice here: This pdf can be seen as a good way to illustrate how the design paradigms introduced in Unarmed and Dangerous may be applied in a seamless manner; beyond that, the variant classes fit within the themes we’d expect: The topics of Arabian nights or quasi-Egyptian contexts and Porphyra’s own, diverse regions all make for fitting origins for these variant classes. Rules-wise, the respective variants all make meaningful incisions into the base classes they’re derived from, providing a distinct feeling for all the tricks we’d associate with their concepts. In short, this is, as a whole, a well-crafted, inexpensive supplement that nets you a whole cadre of classes to set apart desert-dwelling heroes and villains from those hailing from more temperate climates. This pdf does not reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to – at the low and fair price point, we arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars, in spite of the lack of bookmarks and minor snafus – this is worth checking out if you want to add some local color to your desert-themed adventuring.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Desert Classes of Porphyra
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Ultimate Covenant Magic
by David S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/06/2018 22:19:38

A solid book. I would have ordered the chapters differently (skip to the covenant chapter!), but the content here is absolutely delicious. It is full of hooks that could make a campaign sing in whole new ways. It weaves in classic folklore and mythological roots that Pathfinder leaves on the ground. Let your character owe a favor to a fey power, and they plan to make good on it. In the meanwhile, they have given you a little gift, just to remember them by. They won't forget you, promise.

The spells are great, expanding the ability to call and negotiate with things beyond outsiders in a way that feels perfectly natural with classic stories.

The classes reach into these covenants and makes them the focus, and they do a good job of that, but I feel I should emphasize that this book is so very amazing even if you never touch a class. Add a dash of The Other, pray to the forces you feel you can get away with negotiating with, and always pay your debts.

Or else.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Covenant Magic
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Tyranny and Manipulation
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/05/2018 05:41:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive toolkit/grab-bag clocks in at 134 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 131 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so let me state one thing: I never expected to see this book. Way back when Pathfinder was young, there was a 3pp called 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming. The company released several much-beloved books and then went belly under, alas. Purple Duck Games took over, fulfilled the outstanding KS-obligations, and proceeded to make things right, something for which the master of the Purple Duck, Mark Gedak, has my gratitude.

Anyways, back in the day, one of my favorite 4WFG-books was “Strategists & Tacticians”, which pioneered several aspects of the game that we’d later see represented in various ways in the game. In that book and the associated interviews etc., a sequel that would be more GM-facing was teased time and again – this book would be Tyranny and Manipulation, a devil’s grab-bag of GM-tricks and tools. That being said, the material herein is designed to NOT be used by players.

Beyond rules, though, this is, to a degree, a GM-advice book, which is evident from the get-go, as the book proceeds to provide guidance regarding so-called Overlord-campaigns/villains. What does that mean? Well, there is, in essence, a variety Leadership feat for minions, called Overlord, presumably in a nod to the videogame franchise. The interesting component here, as the pdf notes, is that the Overlord feats, minions, etc. are all ways to create back-door tactics and increase villain survivability – in a sense, the design paradigm here is similar as the one of using Legendary Games’s mythic rules, but focuses more on the behavior of the adversary and the resource available, as opposed to individual capacity. As such, responses and mindset are explained for the GM, helping you craft sensible plots in that regard. Motivations and NPC roles and how they can be thought about also help – and while expert GMs are probably cognizant of quite a few of these strategies, it always helps to see them spelled out in a clear and concise manner.

The theme of tyranny is also represented in two new base classes, which primarily focus on being representations of classic NPC-tropes: A shepherd is basically the evil preacher – 6th level spellcasting, physically feeble, but with several abilities to draw power from the flock, these folks are the evil, religious firebrands, the nasty fire-and-brimstone preachers, the corrupt leaders of their flocks of fanatics. The warmonger, in comparison, would be the full BAB-equivalent of the trope, focusing on the cruel captain of mercenaries as one of the central leitmotifs. While I would not use these classes as a PC-class due to their linearity, they are a great foundation as a NPC-class to represents their respective tropes.

Now, the book also sports a massive array of different archetypes and class options, which cover base classes as well as those featured in the Advanced Player’s Guide. Here, the age of the original concept does show a bit – I somewhat bemoan that Occult Adventure’s amazing classes, Vigilante, etc. do not get support here, but considering the history of the book, that was expected. I couldn’t help but chuckle when the alchemist-section noted that the alchemist would be one of the most complex of base classes, when nowadays, it probably wouldn’t even rank as mid-tier complexity. Anyways, all of these classes get a special archetype of sorts that should be helpful for GMs who have problems making characters: There is a simplified version of the respective class features to be found for all of the classes. I am a bit “challenged” here regarding my ability to see the necessity for these options, seeing how I frankly consider the classes all to be rather simple and easy to work with, but I am not a good way of measuring system mastery and GM prowess in that regard. So yeah, these simplified class options will probably find their fans out there.

Now, if I go into my usual level of detail regarding the archetypes and options, the review will easily blast past 10+ pages, so I’ll remain brief in my discussion of the respective concepts. Now, the alchemist gets a ton of new discoveries, many of which interact with Overlord (making minions explosive) and also with mutations. Mutations? Yep, the 4th chapter is actually completely devoted to mutations. Approximately 30 pages classify mutations as frameshifts or lobos and talks about the risks and tribulations of mutation; how it can happen is also noted – from exposure to magic, rituals, oozes and their deliberate creation (Craft (mutation) is a thing now!), the pdf covers quite a few angles there, talking about their use in the game as well as use in conjunction with PCs. They have slots, come with descriptions and a total of 3 stages, as well as Tuner’s notes, commenting on how mutation would be seen in context. Now, as far as natural weaponry is concerned, they classify primary/secondary and take size categories into account, but require defaulting to standards regarding damage types inflicted. Becoming centaurian creatures, bowed frames, swelled skulls – the classics are provided, and as a whole, I found myself very much enjoying the mutation chapter, even though I did bemoan the lack of occult synergy here – psychic magic (or psionics) and mutation go together like peanut butter and jelly, as far as I’m concerned. Well. Or so I’ve heard. I’m allergic to peanuts. Anyways, back to the class options.

The hermetic alchemist can designate a creature to be the one for which the extracts work – that may be him or a patron, which is interesting indeed. The angle is further enhanced with extract capsules. The tuner, as hinted at before, would be the mutation specialist. Barbarians get the caged barbarian, basically a side-kick/beta-type of barbarian, and the screaming chief, who is a representation of the barbarian leader. We get rage powers here as well, which once more tie in with the mutation engine. Bards of the dictator archetype cause Wisdom damage on successful saves versus their bardic performances, which is pretty nasty; jesters are a take on the anti-bard trope, but did not age too well in comparison with other takes on the trope. The cavalier of the order of the monarch is a ruler-feat specialist and the mounted guard is pretty much what it says on the tin. The privileged leader is a cavalier who gets into battle atop a lectica, a portable throne carried by underlings, and as such, is the overlord-y specialist of the archetypes for the class.

The cleric gets the disciple as the underling-representation, and the theocrat as the villain/overlord archetype, which is pretty potent: Channel rapture deals damage to non-believers and heals believers and is untyped. So yeah, would strongly suggest to limit this fellow to NPCs only, just in case you wanted that spelled out. The druid feral master is, bingo, the druid leader, while the mutant avenger makes use of the mutation engine featured herein instead of wildshape. Fighters that are comrades-in-arms would be the underling archetype, while the foot general represents, bingo, the fighter leader. Inquisitors can become cult leaders or sleepers, who get a telepathic link with their patrons – the latter is surprisingly cool for its relative simplicity. The Bakmei monk would be the leader, while the student of the basilisk gets a stunning fist flurry touch attack…which is somewhat dubious, in spite of the 1 save per round caveat. The black knight can self-atone and either rules or serves, which is a surprisingly interesting take on the concept. Farsighted palas are sunder specialists and get to channel force damage. Weird? What about mercies? What does the channel (which also gets combat maneuvers etc.) replace?

Rangers get a new whip-based combat style and a new terrain, which is designated as “hazardous” and encapsulates a wide open plethora of terrain hazards. Yeah, that’s not a good idea. The hazardmaster builds on this. The urban infiltrator is an urban ranger. The guild leader is the rogue lord, the wetworks rogue the killer minion for the rough stuff, who gets a surprisingly interesting variant of sneak, with a lot of different, unique tricks. We get a mutant bloodline for sorcerers and a really cool mini-archetype: The suppressed sorcerer needs his master’s approval to cast. I can see whole societies build on that. Summoners can become mutant masters, replacing summoning with causing mutations and the evolution engine with mutations. Sliders can move allies around the battlefield, which is, once again, pretty interesting for such a small archetype. The gifter witch can bestow boons or banes (doesn’t specify what that ability replaces) and tempt foes; the coven mother is the leader-style archetype. The patsy wizard is the minion archetype, the wizard lord the leader.

Okay, that out of the way, we take a look at suggestions for simplified feats, skills and spells for the purpose of NPCs. If you’re looking for means to simplify, this will be worth checking out.

After this, we get a massive feat chapter, in which, obviously, the theme based on Overlord, is pretty strong. And yes, unlike Leadership, Overlord does not penalize cruelty or sucky behavior/NPC-casualties. Feat-wise, the dichotomy between roles is represented here as well: Ruler and Minion feats are introduced, with obvious uses. These…are brutal. I mean it. Keep them out of PC hands at all costs and use them with care. There is a prerequisite-less feat that doubles the numeric bonuses you gain from allied minions, and the ones allied minions gain from you. Using a full-round action to make the CL of all your minions equal to your own is similarly something that even a halfway capable player can abuse to smithereens. What about a full-round action that nets you an untyped AC-bonus equal to the number of minions of the same ruler within line of sight? Yeah, this does what it should: It fortifies the AC of villains to reflect the minions – but the claim of player-facing transparency should be, quite frankly, just ignored. Think of this as a GM-only book. Now, the feat and spell-chapter spans 29 pages, so no, I’m not going to pick them apart individually. The spells btw. interact in cool ways with the ruler/minion-dynamic. Clone minion. Just sayin’. There also are undead-curing options and spells that make use of aforementioned mutation-engine.

Now, the final chapter of this massive tome would once more be something that holds universal and timeless appeal: 10 pages of hazardous environments, from sentient areas to ones where things fall out of the sky, where leaves rustle to leave, where springs seek to charm you – this section is pure gold, with advanced effects allowing you to exacerbate the severity of the challenge posed. These environments are presented somewhat akin to traps and haunts, with DCs to note them, ACs, damage thresholds required to overcome to damage them, etc. Now, there also is a template/subtype somewhat akin to troops, namely hordes – while one could argue that this would be redundant, the rules are different enough to generate a sense of unease and make it harder for the PCs to know what they’re up against – which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

The pdf also comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, the CR 3 Darlith critter – an adamantine-shelled tentacle-snail-thing, whose adhesive glands can be harvested.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are surprisingly good for a book of this size. I noticed no undue accumulations of glitches – an “e” missing from “morale” and similar hiccups are what can be found here and there. On a rules-language level, the pdf is per se precise, but has an unfortunate propensity for not always specifying which abilities are modified/replaced by archetypes and the like. Interior artworks are full-color and plentiful, though some may be familiar to PDG-fans, and the pdf adheres toa 2-column standard with purple highlights, one that is, as a whole printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with shiny, nested bookmarks.

Ryan Costello Jr., with additional content by Matt Belanger, delivers an interesting tome here. Tyranny and Manipulation, when seen as a grab-bag of the GM, makes for a book that is well worth the asking price. As a reviewer, I am in a bit of a conundrum, though: You see, whether it’s the new classes, the archetypes or the feats – the age shows in quite a few of them, and I thought more than once that it would have been amazing to see this with Occult Adventures/Ultimate Intrigue-contexts. The balancing decisions of quite a few of the options also is dubious at best…which makes sense. This book, as a whole, is intended to increase the survivability of villains, and it does that job admirably. My issues here stem from the insistence of a semblance of player-GM-transparency, which, frankly, isn’t there. A lot of the options feel, here and there, as though they kind of could have been intended for players.

I’m not going to mice words here: As a player-facing book, I’d, at best, consider this to be a mixed bag and a far cry from what I’d consider to be excellence. Beyond the (intentional) balance-issues I’ve found, both archetypes and new classes fall short of the customization options I’d nowadays expect to see – while the two classes do what they’re supposed to do, they are very linear and, compared to current classes, not exactly PC-material.

Here’s the thing: They don’t have to be. As a GM’s toolkit, this is damn amazing and provides something for everyone. While, for example, I don’t like, want or need the simplified classes, someone out there will love them. Similar things can be observed regarding several of the archetypes and feats – quite a few of the tricks herein can, in one swoop, make the difference between a recurring villain and maggot food, courtesy of their power. The mutation and hazard-sections hold universal appeal, though, and may be well worth getting the book on their own.

As a whole, I found myself stupefied by how much I liked this book, in spite of the apparent age of some components; there is a timeless quality to many of the options, at least from a GM-perspective.

You know, I gotta hand it to Purple Duck Games – polishing the material towards the ends of being a GM-toolkit makes a ton of sense and, ultimately, this is what makes the book worthy of recommendation as far as I’m concerned. I did struggle with myself quite a bit, trying to decide whether to rate this as both a player and GM book or as only a GM book. Not finding an easy answer per se, I looked at how the book is advertized: “A GM’s secret weapon”? Okay, that pretty much makes the decision clear.

Because, honestly? It succeeds in that discipline admirably.

So, to sum up my struggles: This is NOT a player’s book. It is not billed as such, nor intended as such. Thus, I will not rate it as such.

It is neither perfect, nor is every component of the book relevant for every game. But chances are that you’ll, even when using only ¾ths or 2/3rds of the book, get more than your money’s worth. The hazard-section alone is gold; the mutations are interesting as well…and you WILL find an archetype that inspires you (enslaved suppressed sorcerer is imho gold…), a couple of feats that’ll help your BBEG survive to fight another day. We have more than 130 pages of material, advice, tricks and options, and while it may be unlikely that you’ll love all of these pages, I’m pretty confident in my prediction that there will be quite a lot that you will love. The bang for buck ratio is pretty damn good here.

You know, I actually did not expect to arrive here. At all. I saw this and thought: “Oh great, obsolete book.” …and got ready for a slog through an outdated splatbook. Color me surprised. It’s not obsolete. It retains its relevance; and while it falls short of the highest echelons of my rating system due to the system having evolved, I still consider it to be a very good book, one that can help enrich pretty much any GM’s campaign in one way or another. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tyranny and Manipulation
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Dragon Thanes of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/19/2018 04:37:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series was sponsored by the Purple Duck Games patreon and clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief summary of a variety of different in-character prose pieces before diving into what exactly dragon thanes are – in short, they are draconic gods or demigods, on a power-level with Porphyra’s elemental lords, psychopomp ushers, archdevils – you get the idea. Before we go into the nit and grit of the pdf, we actually get a handy table that lists the respective thanes with names, alignment, worshipers, domains and subdomains noted; favored weapon and animal are similarly noted in the respective write-ups. The respective thanes all sport 4 domains and subdomains, making them all well-rounded in that regard. It should also be noted that each of the dragon thanes gets his/her own holy symbol, rendered in full color. Each of the respective thanes gets 2 religion traits, though it should be noted that the pdf doesn’t use the trait bonus type, which constitutes a minor downside. However, the traits themselves are fitting and interesting…just internally add the bonus type… All of the thanes come with a nice spell preparation ritual as wella s notes on how the followers etc. behave – this adds some intriguing details to the overall proceedings.

Now, before you turn away, wait a second – we don’t actually get the standard, bland old duality-angle, instead opting for something different, which becomes evident from the get-go, with Dervayî, the Outer Thane. This neutral deity is tied to Porphyra’s first moon, which contains a plethora of craters that lead to…other places. While it is the gatekeeper that keeps these in control, it is Dervayrî, who, in regular intervals and for unknown reasons, seems to guide meteors into the moon, creating strange new gateways…but to what end, no one knows.

Douhaja Zmieja is an intriguing take on the genesis myth of the world serpent: The hoarder of sunken ships ostensibly squeezed the oceans, the blood, if you will, from a young and dry, dead planet…and promises to one day constrict and crush the world. The deity is thus both the origin of life and its promised end, blending those visuals with that of the serpent from the depths. Id Shidiin is a whole other beast: This entity hatched from the dreams of a dying, alien god and now dwells in spirit and flesh in the Cinotiksim Nation, where cryptic puzzle-dreams and nightmares are sent to the populace and the nation meets in congregation while asleep. Pure amazing and something one of my favorite Weird fiction authors could have written.

Magkon, Son of the First Rain, would be the imperial sovereign; his thanedom pertains refined civilization based on academic learning; it was him who ostensibly taught Draconic, who invented the scroll, and to this day, finding fabled Hidden Shei is actually the first test on a journey of lifelong learning…and maybe beyond. Speaking of the First Rain – soon thereafter, there was the first rainbow – but there were no intelligent lifeforms to marvel at its beauty, and thus it waited…for aeons. It became angry, spiteful, twisted. It became the Nameless Hunger when the people saw it and fled, and from its shards arose the twisted chromatic dragons, representations of a force of pure yearning and spite. AMAZING genesis!

The direct opposite would be Olha Pasom, the Mother General, grand lady of the metallic dragonkind and supreme ally of the ancient elven people…even to this day. In a really interesting twist, she champions basically a military dictatorship, in spite of being LG, leading to a rather impressive array of potentially intriguing moral conundrums in interaction with the fallible, but mostly well-meaning representatives of the militaristic church. Among draconic thanes that are so well-known, the strange and unknowable Porpyhrite Wyrm stands alone, a mystery with a strange agenda, partially served by errant Codionic Knights…but as a whole, this force of destruction may well play the long, long game, seeking to subvert both elementalists and deists alike.

Umhlaba, the Primal Thane, is a dragon cheated out of his place in history; or so his followers claim. The elemental lords and their zendiqi followers claim that the lords defeated the mighty titans that lorded over the planet in aeons long past. They lied. Back then, the elementals were undivided, one mind, and it rose as this Thane, as pretty much a Final Fantasy Weapon-level of planetary destruction, an engine of fury, not hate. The thane went, ostensibly, dormant and remains unconquered…woe, should it awaken!

And here is a section that warrants getting this pdf on its own, even if you don’t care about the amazing mythweaving featured in the write-ups of the thanes: Dragon cult rules. You see, this pdf posits that dragons in Porphyra can learn to grant divine spells to their followers…and they should, for they are immortal and don’t age: The number of followers and divine casters praying to the dragon are in direct correlation to the age category the dragon has; regression is not possible, and yes, this also governs the maximum spell level the dragon can provide to followers. The engine is amazing and includes notes on resurrected dragon worshipers, what happens if the dragon dies, etc. The pdf also provides dragon variants in the guise of dragons with limited evolution pools; beyond these, we can find incendiary breath weapons…and PORTAL BREATH. Yes, concisely codified.

The respective dragon thanes are further developed, courtesy to the unique artifact/near-artifact items provided for them. The belt of morphic loins allows for free race/gender switching and yields immunity to hostile polymorphs; Mangkon’s boots of serene steps allow for massive boosts to Acrobatics as well as both air and water walk and also prevents AoOs from moving through threatened squares. Breastplate of Sacred Generals would be Olha Pasom’s item, and it is a super potent breastplate that also provides the means to share teamwork feats, and successful use of such a feat yields temporary access to domain powers. The circlet of waking dream is basically a super Int-booster that also enhances senses and provides full control over waking and sleeping. I’d love to have this IRL…Faithbane is a special wepon quality that applies to targets of specific faiths (D’uhhh), a concept I’ve been using in my game for ages; here, it is based on domains. The gauntlets of endless stars not only are potent weapons, they can fire magic missiles. The kilt of primal endurance is a great puzzle-boss item – the wearer gets a massive boost to physical attributes and may slap the earth to FULLY HEAL…well, at the cost of 1 Intelligence drain. The ring of the all-dragon’s eye takes the concept of the draconic super-deity à la IO and provides knowledge…at a cost, as well as relatively free choice of level 1 domain powers… The sea snake corset is a powerful item that allows for depth-adaption, faster swim speed, better grappling and potent defenses. Finally, the Porphyrite Wyrm’s violet vainblade is a mega-potent weapon…intelligent, and it has the task to eradicate humankind. Yes, the collective gulp is justified.

The pdf also sports a couple of class options: We have a nice dragon miser oracle curse that makes you squirrel away items, but enhances your own item creation; The Faithbreather archetype can be applied to cleric or paladin, replacing channel energy with a breath weapon,a s appropriate for the dragon thane in question. The Heir of the Claw would be a tweak of the warpriest that gains sacred claws, which may be enhanced with increasing benefits. A handy table for damages by level for Small and Medium characters is provided. The sacred snout inquisitor replaces stern gaze and cunning initiative with frightful presence. They can also detect dragons and replace scent with the ability to sniff out treasure. Instead of bane, they learn to add special weapon abilities to their weapon for a limited number of rounds., with 12 th level upgrading their damage.

The final section of the pdf deals with unique spells (yes Occult support included): Ancestral allies allows the servants of the Mother General to call forth non-evil shadows of ancient elves to assist the caster, increasing in potency upon ancient elven cairns, where it may also yield the effects of commune. Yep, adventure-hook baked in. Love it. Bibliomorph is one of the more complex and amazing spells I’ve seen in a while. What do I mean by this? Well, you turn into a library. Yes, this is correctly codified; yes you retain senses. And theoretically, this can be a really cool narrative tool, just picture it: That blackout you had…there is a book missing from you! O.O

Devouring rainbow is a cool, low-level prismatic-style illusion; dragonrage fills the air with grit, as a stream of dust pours from the caster’s eyes; within the cloud, all take damage, but also get a buff…Dreamwalk is another spell that just drips storytelling potential galore, requiring a potion of sleep; the character emerges from the slumbering body as a dreamform…interesting one. Porphyrite detonation causes untyped damage, which I do not generally like…but the spell has a great additional effect: It prevents the crossing of the porphyrite borders. Anyways, while the damage is only 1d4 per caster level, I’m pretty sure the spell should not scale to full level and cap at 10 or 15 damage dice…but then again, the spell is granted by an evil thane and can help villains get away, so I’m kinda good with it. Still should probably be handled with care. Seasurge is amazing – basically a wave that races forth, crashing into creatures and objects, carrying them with the wave…and yes, this spell gets the complex interaction right. Finally, spaceflight…well, does what you’d think it does.

The pdf closes with a couple of suggestions for further, similar pdfs from PDG.

That’s not all, though: We get a bonus pdf penned by Perry Fehr with a deadly critter: The CR 8 Lavalantula! And yes, dear fans of Demon Souls, this lava-breathing spider with its ember hairs is an excellent representation of a certain boss. Pure awesome!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good; on a rules-language level, the pdf is similarly precise and juggles complex and rewarding concepts, with only a few and mostly cosmetic complaints on my part. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full-color artworks provided are nice and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr and Aaron Hollingsworth both are talented authors that sometimes stumble over rules language; it is my pleasure to report that the team has absolutely excelled in what they bring to the table in this pdf. The dragon thanes are an amazing departure from the endless repetition of the classic draconic deity tropes, one that taps deeply into components of myths and reconfigures them in amazing, innovative ways. There is not one thane herein that I’d consider even mediocre; beyond that, the artifacts are potent, but remain manageable and enhance the themes of their thanes via appropriate tools for their champions. The spells, finally, contain some of the most creative ones I’ve seen in a while. And the bonus pdf is damn cool as well. Purple Duck Games really rocked this one!

Beyond that, it should be noted that the mythology featured herein makes for a great way to diversify the Lost Isles campaign setting in Rite Publising’s In the Company of Dragons Expanded….or, well vice versa. The weirdness of the Lost Isles is a perfect fit for Porphyra…and the material herein is actually all OGL, which means that, theoretically, a crossover/expansion could happen.

But I’m rambling. This is a fantastic little pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Thanes of Porphyra
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The Accursed
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2018 08:43:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base class clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content. These pages are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ for digest-size, allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if your eye-sight’s good enough. This review is based on V.2 of the class.

The accursed class gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons (and no shields/armor), ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. They add Charisma bonus to AC and CMD while unarmored and also gain +1 o AC and CMD at 4th level, + 1 for every 4 levels thereafter. These bonuses even apply while the accursed is flat-footed and applies to touch AC and even while the character is helpless.

The accursed gains a 0-level SP, usable at-will at 1st level, as well as a 1st-level SP, usable 3/day. At 2nd level and every additional level thereafter, the accursed gains another SP, with twice the accursed’s class level being the limit of SPs. 0-level SPs may be used at-will; 1st – 3rd level spells can be used 3/day, 4th – 6th level spells may be used 2/day and higher level SPs only 1/day. A given spell may be chosen up to thrice; each time, you add the same uses per day to it. The accursed uses his class level as caster level for these and they are governed by Charisma.The revised edition now sports a caveat versus costly SP-abuse – 5 gp is the maximum value a material component may have of a chosen SP. Which spell-list is used? That depends on the mark of the accursed – more on that later.

As a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, the accursed may use touch of ruin – this touch attack may not be used in conjunction with other touch-based attack-forms, can be used as part of a full attack (and multiple times, should you choose), and begins at 1d4 piercing, slashing and bludgeoning damage – here, a choice and action-based switch would have been significantly more elegant regarding ability-interactions. The damage inflicted scales up to 2d8 at 20th level. These touch attacks may delivered, atk-wise, via Dex instead of Str, if desired. Touch of ruin crits on a natural 20, with x2 multiplier, and when used against objects, ignores up to ½ class levels of hardness. The accursed may channel touch of ruin through melee attacks, but loses the Charisma bonus damage and the effects of ruinations when doing so. On crits, the touch of ruin’s bonus damage is doubled, regardless of critical multipliers of weaponry etc. This ability, in short, means that the accursed can hit pretty hard from the get-go. Touch of ruin may be used as a 10 ft. ranged touch attack instead, adding +5 ft. range per every 3 accursed class levels attained.

This touch also leaves behind an arcane mark analogue – which, somewhat lame, only persists until the damage is healed. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the accursed gets to choose a ruination. These are modifications of the touch of ruin that add further effects, mostly conditions, with a save of 10 + ½ class level + Cha-mod to calculate the saving throw DC. Only one ruination that inflicts a negative condition can be used per touch of ruin.

The ruinations have been completely overhauled. In the original iteration, they were a broken mess. In the revised version, we get bonus energy damage, with more potent energies locked behind minimum levels. So yeah, huge step up. Annoying: Many use a nonsense per-combat mechanic. Insert here my rant on how per-combat mechanics make no sense in the logic of the game world. Yes, they are functional, but still. Why not just use a time—based cooldown? The ruination that nets you a skeleton for those slain is perhaps the most interesting of these. Still, as a whole, a huge step up.

Also at first level, the accursed gains meant to endure, +1 luck bonus to all saves while unarmored, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 9th level yields immunity to being targeted with divination spells and effects – and in the revised version, the accursed can actually activate or deactivate the ability, thankfully. At 19th level, the accursed is no longer considered to be part of her race for the purpose of spells, effects, etc.and loses the negative ability score modifiers of a race, if any. The capstone yields at-will bestow curse as an SP. Additionally, the class becomes immune to ability damage, drain and all curse-spells…which is WEIRD.

Now, as hinted at, 1st level requires the most important choice of the class, namely the mark – these marks govern the spell-list used by the afflicted to determine SPs available and provide abilities at 3rd, 7th, 13th and 17th damage. Here, we can find, for example condition immunities and touch abilities. Take the afflicted: These fellows get a touch of ruin-upgrade that inflicts 4 points of Con damage, now thankfully with a save and more daily uses. In contrast to the original, ability-interaction now works. The mark in question allows for the carrying of diseases, provides condition immunities to fatigued and exhausted at 13th level and proceeds to net poison and swarm damage immunity. Sin-touched nets Wisdom-damage according to a similar paradigm and provides negative/positive damage resistance that scales up to immunity, etc. The mindscarred can cause Int-damage and gets scaling DR/magic (upgraded to magic and silver later) and gains finally true seeing – here, there’s a minor layout glitch: The italicization (i) wasn’t properly closed, remaining as a remnant. Spellburnt accursed gain energy resistances, limited quickened SPs and SR for hostile spells only. The witchmarked represents a deviation from this formula, instead providing claws that upgrade in damage, crit-mod, etc. Once more, a remnant (i) is there.

The pdf has archetypes: Guarded accursed exchange the curse powers of the marks with an animal companion, though the animal gains +2 Wis, -2 Cha (min 1), +2 to saves at 7th level, Improved Natural Attack at 13th and immunity to mind-affecting effects at 17th level Yeah…that’s pretty much better than the mark abilities. Problem: Guess who doesn’t have Handle Animal as a class skill to train animal companions? Bingo, the accursed. The archetype should grant that.

The Sealed are locked in their armor, which is an AMAZING idea. While the archetype could do more with it, the revised version actually makes it work, so kudos. Yes, you can sleep in it. There is a “one/once”-typo, but that’s cosmetic.

The supplemental feats alas, still sport the strange seesawing tendency: 1/day, you can render a target staggered via Intimidate – PERMANENTLY. Sure, Will-save to negate, but I have no idea what the save DC/governing attribute is. It can also be upgraded to 3-day paralysis and even death, but none of these uses has been properly codified regarding effect types. DR/cold iron. A couple of sucky SPs and minor skill boosts can be found alongside minor speed increase while fleeing in fear (can become useless if you become immune…just sayin’)…and then there is the feat which lets you choose from lists other than your mark’s, which is vastly stronger than the above. Formatting has improved, though, and a 1/day evade death trick that makes you a very convincing “corpse” at -1 HP is an interesting continuation of the survivor-angle.

The pdf concludes with a massive favored class option benefit array that sports some decent, if repetitive options for a wide variety of races – big plus: The benefits have the races to which they apply in brackets – much better than an endless list with repeating entries. Sure, individual entries would have been nice, but yeah.

The pdf comes with a bonus-pdf containing the gorgeous Porphyrite Drake, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr – the critter clocks in at CR 11, can pass porphyrite borders, bypasses all DRs but DR/- and they can 3/day grant themselves speed-bursts. Oh, and know what? They are shredders in melee. And have a breath that teleports the subjected targets to locations of their choice. Oh yes. Dragon with portals. When played right, this critter is devious gold.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have been significantly improved. While the original was almost non-functional, this one may have a couple of minor glitches and verbiage-deviations, but works as written. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard with nice full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

First of all: Huge props to Cascade Chain and Von Krieger. Their suggestions have obviously helped Aaron Hollingsworth’s accursed a great deal. As written, the class is now basically a very hard-hitting, yet pretty fragile guy who’ll get a lot of immunities, courtesy of the survivor-angle and vibe the class aims for. The concept of the class is strong and I very much like cursed fighters like the direlock, hellion, malefactor, malefex, etc. – the accursed fills the cursed witch/monk-niche and the ideas that can be glimpsed at in a couple of the fluffy components, are promising. The execution of the idea, while now significantly better than before, could have been more interesting, though. The class is very much melee/close combat-centric, but doesn’t really allow for good defenses or a sustained presence there. The mark and how it is conveyed via the touch of ruin, as well as the ruination-options, are, while now functional, not exactly breath-taking. They are the usual suspects, upgrade-wise, and don’t really offer for a truly distinct playing experience. Particularly in comparison with direlock and malefex, this feels like less than it could have been.

That being said, if you’re looking for an easy to grasp class in that vein, this may well be worth taking a look at. I’ve been sitting on the original version’s review for a while (it was a 1.5 star-debacle) and the revised edition has really improved the class; it is now playable. Internal balancing is much tighter, though the supplemental material like archetypes and feats still…well, is not exactly perfect.

So yeah, not a mindblowing class, but a vast improvement over its beginnings – kudos for the effort of making it work. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Accursed
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Unchained Summoner Codex
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2018 04:27:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a few nice bits of prose, we learn about how summoners work within the patchwork planet of Porphyra: This section may be brief, but it adds a significant amount of flavor to the class. To give you an example: “The “soul companions” that summoners supervise, called ‘eidolons’ in the magica lexica of the Colleges of Magic…“ – there are multiple aspects here that rock: By calling the relationship “supervising”, we establish a hierarchy and all its components; the mention of the magica lexica contextualizes the uncommon word eidolon; there are colleges of magic and by tying eidolons to the soul of the summoner, we can assume a place within the context of planar geography. It’s a small sentence and one that can easily be ignored, but at the same time, it may easily be employed to inspire the GM. As you know by now, a crucial conflict of Porphyra would be the one between the Deists that serve the NewGods and the followers of the elemental lords. As such, we get a new faith trait for +1 to hit (should probably be a trait bonus) against summoners and eidolons of the opposing faction. The trait can obviously be pretty easily extrapolated to instead apply to other organizations, should you choose to go that route.

In case the title wasn’t ample clue, this book is all about a massive array of unchained summoner stats, including the respective eidolons. If you’re like me and just don’t have the time to crunch the numbers of a ton of such characters, well, there you go. But are they any good, or are they just throwaway stats? Well, first of all, the range covered is pretty massive: We gets stats ranging from level 1 to level 20 (CR ½ to CR 19); It should also be noted that the builds employ the diverse and unique races that can be found on Porphyra, but you do not necessarily need access to the respective races – the statblocks are functional without them. It should also be noted that, and this is a plus, the respective characters get brief fluff-texts that range from a brief paragraph to almost a page. So if you need a CHARACTER instead of just a statblock, this book has you covered. If you also enjoy Porphyra, you’ll be happy to note that the statblocks mention the homeland of a character as well as their faith. It’s just a little line and something you can ignore in other settings, but I really enjoyed this component.

All right, let’s begin, shall we? The first character would be Q’kar, a zendiqi (think xenophobic ultra-hardliner servants of the elemental lords…one of my favorite ethnicities available for PFRPG, just as an aside); while his CR is only ½, he is a bit of a romantic, dubbing his eidolon “The Sands of Vengeance”, which may be played for laughs, should the GM choose to do so: The creature is a pile of smoking, sandy dirt…but from humble origins, prophets and leaders may be born…so yeah, nice. Minor complaint: The fluff-text sports a layout remnant: An italicization wasn’t properly closed, with only the (i) open before a term, but that’s a cosmetic hiccup.

Hailing from the war-torn lotus blossom steppes, Xioudhra is next, and the lady doe have a fitting, serpentine eidolon. Why “fitting”?, Well, she is a half-medusa, only recently exiled for dabbling in necromancy, and while she currently is selling her services and that of her demon-worm eidolon, her ambitions do reach much higher. Fheldind the nange is a member of the “Robot Patrol Legion”, an ultra-lawful “more law-abiding than thou” hassle…and, well, in a unique twist, he is actually in love with Parrs, his eidolon – a sentiment that may be mutual. Some interesting roleplaying potential here!

Eedrilar, at CR 3, would be a killer-for-hire; the karza-drow is a male and as such, he is not deemed fit for military duty, but his daemon-arachnid eidolon does make for a powerful adversary. Arozarza is a nice example that not all builds here are evil or straightforward: the feykissed lady has the fey caller archetype and is accompanied by the golden-furred fox-lady Serene; with a benevolent trickster-bent, the two make for really neat allies for the PCs. Anydene would be a saurian and her eidolon has been dubbed “green devil”, for the two behave as pretty tyrannical bullies. This is btw. as good a place as any to note that the respective characters do sport extensive noted on behavior before and during combat, as well as on morale. Whle these may be small components, it makes running the NPCs easier and adds further character to them.

Ashub is a very powerful foe: The strix and his eidolon Diassos are the lone guards of a remote pass, but considering their aerial supremacy, they make a formidable pair of assailants. Giram Bazamgun, at CR 7, is an anpur and, mechanics-wise had the unwavering conduit archetype applied. He and his silvery eidolon, which emulates an empyreal lord, are stalwart guardians of their city of tombs – a position that is equally likely to put them into conflict with the PCs or make them a potent ally. Vieletta would be an enigmon, seeking the means to heal her sundered homeland. Her eidolon is usually only called upon in combat. Okay, at CR 9, we have an ogrillon blood god disciple, a potent lady called Ibal, who is btw. not evil: She is a recruiter for the gladiatorial arenas, with her eidolon being serpentine – in fluff, it assumes the shape of a thick, wildly mutable rope (!!), adept at transporting recruits and targets: Whether you want to run this pair as pressganging or as hunters of escaped convicts etc. remains up to your needs as a GM.

Ridis the lizardfolk is the heir of the tradition of island-keeper, tasked with guarding the ecosystem within the Rainbow Islands, and as such, sports the naturalist archetype. His eidolon takes the shape of an electric blue seal with articulated limbs. Yeah, awesome! I mean, come on: The idea of a lizardfolk nature protector isn’t new…but the lizard guy with the fast and deadly, blue seal-thing? Heck yeah, the PCs will remember this fellow! It’s just a few words, but they elevate the statblock and make the difference between fire-and-forget and remarkable.

Buma would be a muse, living in the futuristic ruins of Faldon town, her angelic eidolon guarding her sky-tower. She is also intensely disliked by the muse-leaders of nearby goblin and kobold factions. One paragraph – all it takes for an interesting adventure set-up. Talvius would be an eventual that has the evolutionist archetype. He is also an important guardian: In the oceans of Porphyra, there is a neutral ground, a meeting place for the gods, where even dreaded Mâl (typo here: “M^al”) respects the sanctity of the place. This island, masked from the most potent of magics, is where Talvius roams, with his potent eidolon guarding the place: A perfect, bronze warrior, this being is Talos. Yeah, you would be correct in assuming that this is a deliberate nod towards real-world mythology, one that is, btw., also explained in detail, should you not be familiar with it.

Okay, so, this goes above and beyond – next would be the goblin Milnun,a broodmaster – who comes not with one, but two distinct eidolons: The quadruped Cornerstone and the serpentine Slurry: This fellow comes with a fully depicted folk-lay of the Great Green. To give you an excerpt:

The Elemental Lords are gone,

banished, so is true-

That doesn’t stop the screams of pain

when Milnun comes for you…

His pets are fierce, their eyes they flash,

there’s none like them to view-

When Cornerstone and Slurry call,

they call, my friend, for you…

Come on, that is damn cool! I can actually hear this as a song/creepy ditty to foreshadow his arrival. An agent provocateur of sorts, he definitely makes for a cool and fearsome foe. (As an aside: Kudos for going the high road here: More often than not, archetypes that require more statblocks are not covered at all in such compilations, much less so at the higher levels where the stats require serious work…)

The orca-like humanoids called Orcam are one interesting race; the CR 14 summoner Mogarz sports an aquatic eidolon that is actually an agathion, whom she refers to as Endren, her water-spirit-self, adding a tint of the mystical to her take on her abilities. In a nice bonus, her ability to summon swarms is complemented by the fully statted samuqi swarm (CR 2), which may be called with the spell: A chubby fish that is actually quite tasty and may manifest as a rolling wave of silver and blue scales, teeth a-gleaming. Nice. The erkunae called Grunglei is a powerful CR 15 spirit summoner, who received her gifts as a result of blundering into a facility attempting to split dimensions, artificially bestowing her powers – the Advent Imperiax, the region where that happened, did not take kindly to this and thus, she had to flee home to Erkusaa, where she inherited Yrlyk’s ref ring of paragons, which allows the wielder to apply the elder beast template to summoned creatures (with a limit) and add nature spirits to the list of beings that may be called. Additionally, the powerful ring does allow for the 1/day summoning of a Medium (not capitalized) nature spirit as an SP…and the ring allows for something special: Once, and only once, the wearer can summon a frickin’ animal lord. The entity will demand the ring as payment, but oh boy. I really like this ring, but frankly, I think it is badly underpriced at 16K; I’d strongly suggest to make it a unique item that cannot be crafted or duplicated. Anyway, Grunglei’s eidolon behaves as a psychopomp, as befitting her ties to the spirit world. Once more, an intriguing character.

Thoning is a polkan. A really evil one. She will mess you up. Probably in melee. Wait, what? At AC 29, wielding a frickin’ impact greatsword with Improved Critical, she and her eidolon Crongy worship Ul’Ul, the Mad Maiden; There is a cult (members are known as “oolies” for licking raw Uliun ore) and she is a potent member…and a perfect example for another dimension, in which this pdf goes beyond what you’d require or expect: As you can glean from the uncommon build employed here, the book does a damn fine job of alternating builds and themes. There is no “this guy has the same build, just at a higher level”-case in this book; the respective summoners are all distinct, often radically so. This distinction is represented, in case you haven’t noticed, in both fluff and crunch. The character also comes with the spell uliun spray, which is imho a bit too strong for second level, spraying the drug-like substance, causing the targets to gain 1d4 Charisma while the drug’s effects persist, but also take 1d4 Wisdom damage. That being said, I do like the idea here and considering the flavor of the cult and the presentation, limiting access to the spell is very much intended, which kinda makes it okay.

At mighty CR 17, Irnu is a satyrine shadow caller and one of the most potent beings of her race. The mighty captain of the Shadowmask (whose full vehicle stats are included!!!) would probably be more prestigious, were it not for her worship of Lyvalia, anathema to her race. With a troubled past, her eidolon Yulalon is a manifestation of the kytons and adds a powerful ally to her already formidable capabilities. General Lairona is a level 19 master summoner of the fetchling race. She hails from the nation of Hesteria, which sports the planar anomaly called “The Wall of Sleep”; it is General Lairona that is the chief administrator of the wall, tasked with preventing it from disgorging unimaginable nightmares upon the land. Muted and effacing, one would not consider her to be part of the ruling council – though her potent angelic eidolon, her mirror-image, in a way, should make that very much clear. A true hero of a character and a great patron for the most potent of PCs.

The final character herein would be Guriel, a mighty dragonblooded unchained summoner, whose background speaks of the mighty Red King and other legends that are born on a regular basis; he is assumed to be no less than a cousin of the dreaded Red King, and his eidolon is often mistaken for a demon lord. Taking at look at its stats, I can understand why.

The pdf does come with a bonus file penned by Purple Duck mastermind Mark Gedak. The new creature herein sports one of the cutest artworks ever: Atop the critter, we can see a tiny faerie warrior riding it into battle. We are, of course, talking about the drum roll Cr ½ battle corgi!! And yes, beyond combat training, these cute doggies are particularly resilient against fear and despair, courtesy of their optimism special ability. Minor complaint: I would have loved to see animal companion stats for them.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, can be situated between good and very good. While there are a few instances of minor hiccups, as a whole, this aspect is well-done. Regarding rules-language, the pdf is rather precise. Here and there, I disagree with minor components of the supplemental material, but the statblocks per se are impressive. While I did not attempt to reverse-engineer all of them, the ones I took apart are solid. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a couple of neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I’ll make this short. Buy this book. Now. Okay, you really want to know, in detail, why? All right, all right.

Justin P. Sluder knows his NPC-builds; the man that brought you the amazing stats of many of Rite Publishing’s complex and cool adversaries has a ridiculous talent when it comes to creating truly distinct and cool builds; Perry Fehr knows Porphyra like no other (with the exception of Mark Gedak himself) and is an immensely talented weaver of lore. The synergy between these two authors is inspiring to witness. This pdf goes one step beyond in pretty much every way possible: Not content with simple slapping some stats together, the book is steeped in truly amazing lore that would honestly make this worth getting on its own. This book acts as a formidable pitch of the Porphyra-setting; while the statblocks per se can be used in any game, the respective fluff is utterly inspiring, taking us on a grand tour through the patch-work planet…and, in the tradition of Purple Duck Games, the components can be scavenged really easily. From strange place to wondrous islands, even if you don’t play in Porphyra, you could easily just pick concepts and regions out of this book.

So, that’s how the pdf goes one step beyond in the fluff-department: We get an impressive array of inspiring material here. In the crunch-department, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer diversity of the characters herein: We don’t get sequential builds that obviously are just higher-level continuations of previous stats, instead opting for wholly unique characters and builds. These builds run the gamut from the more classical to the utterly unexpected and often are utterly inspiring and fantastic. The unique races of the setting are employed efficiently and the pdf does not shirk away from more work-intense archetypes either. Heck, we even get a proper ship-statblock for the ship of one of the characters!

This is one of Purple Duck games’ patreon-releases, and it is glorious. It shows care, oozes passion. This is one of the rare NPC Codices that is actually a joy to read. Yes. You heard me. In spite of the massive statblock density, I had a blast reading this book. We all know how much work summoner statblocks can be. This book takes that burden from your shoulders and goes not one, but two extra miles. It provides thoroughly unique and captivating villains and allies, many of which could become recurring characters or even carry whole adventures or even campaigns. Heck, if this does not get your creative juices flowing, I don’t know what will. So, beyond being inspiring, this is also extremely handy and useful to have. Whether you only care about the stats, or only about the lore/character ideas, this pdf is worth getting. Suffice to say, I assume that you’ll care for both…and in such a case, you will beam with glee and wonder. My final verdict, in spite of a few glitches here and there, will be 5 stars + seal of approval. This is amazing.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unchained Summoner Codex
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