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Gonzo 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/25/2016 02:47:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This book clocks in at 419 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with...414 pages of content.


...


..


WTF, 419-pages?? Seriously, I had various iterations of the playtest-doc since last year. It's the only reason you're seeing this review NOW. This has been moved forward on my review-queue as a prioritized review...and doing so was smart, for this book has been in circulation among playtest classes for more than a few months This is seriously the biggest book of CRUNCH I have ever reviewed, even taking the one-column layout into account...and it would completely break my format. So how to review this?


All right, let's establish some standards, shall we? I am not going to go into an in-depth analysis break-down of each ability, since that would bloat this review to an extent that helps no one. Instead, I will give you a brief class-by-class breakdown and then provide my general assessment of it, all right? Great!


The architect is a 3/4 BAB-progression class with a good Will saving-throw, d8 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. These guys let you create towers based on environments present, with a scaling number of active towers at a given time. He may also choose to summon improved versions at 5th level - these count as two towers active. Towers are created as a standard actions and have different base stats depending on resources used in construction. Beyond that, they have a mobile weapon's platform. Gravity-towers, elemental towers...quite a lot of types are provided and the class has 3 capstone super-towers...though presentation here is slightly inconsistent - the table erroneously calls these "citadel cannon" instead of grand tower and one of them has a somewhat not really required reference to a tower being only a possible choice at 20th level - which already is the case for the whole category and makes the presentation slightly more confusing. The titan archetype is a full BAB one and uses towers to supplement his increasingly mechanical body and gaining size and towers to be added to the body - complex and unique.


The atomic adept is a 3/4 BAB class with a good Fortitude saving throw, d8 HD, 4 + Int skill points, and 6th level casting - with a unique twist: While the class has an extremely small Int-governed spell list, they are defined by radiation: These guys are kinda like warlock-y type of blasters, with scaling rays that inflict radiation damage (treated like negative energy, minus option to heal undead). Here's the interesting component, though: These blasts can only be performed safely a number of times per day; any blast thereafter inflicts double the amount of rads on the atomic adept. Spells also influence the rad count with a somewhat chaotic chance of incurring a meltdown against himself. The higher the rad count a creature has, the more severe the negative conditions incurred, with rest, spells etc. being capable of reducing rad-count. Sufficient natural or regular armor also reduces rads incurred. This class is odd - there are VERY powerful talents that let you gain full progression for the blasts, for example...but at the same time, you may inflict this damage upon yourself when suffering a meltdown...and while the class has not the finesse of e.g. the Interjection Games ethermagic-system, the overall balancing of the class is interesting in that it can pull off a lot of powerful blasts, but is very limited in their function. Personally, I gravitate to more customization, though I do believe that the rad-system has a lot to offer - via other classes and expansions, there is a ton of potential here. That, and I do like the chaotic nature of spellcasting here. The mad bomber replaces nuclear strike with radiation damage dealing bombs as an alchemist - which may, due to the daily limit of bombs, be more suitable for less high-powered games...though there is some issue regarding blowing all bombs at once. If the bombs were intended to not have a daily cap, then this needs some balance-finetuning - unlimited bombs = better damage output than the base class. Overall my least favorite class in the book and the one I can see having the most issues.


The battle butler (or battle maid) is a full BAB class with good Reflex- and Will- saves, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points that treats expensive clothes as armor. They specialize in Dex-based and are somewhat bodygaurd-ish, choosing a creature as their contract and defending them. More become available at higher levels they can select more people. Unlike many full BAB-classes, they have a bunch of non-combat utility tricks, including massages that can get rid of exhaustion/heal attribute damage. And yes, the ability has anti-abuse caveats. What about perfect memory? The interesting component with the class would be the service meter - this meter fluctuates when the master is struck and oscillates between providing bonuses (or penalty) to critical hit confirmation rolls and damage bonuses - the interesting component here is that the class gets damage-bonuses when they also have penalties to critical confirmation rolls. The table and system are simple and play rather interestingly. The class also features the new butler weapon group and several appropriately-themed weapons. This will make a whole lot of Otakus very happy! If you haven't noticed, btw.: The battle butler does undergo a rigid conditioning - and sometimes, something goes wrong - cue in the rapscallion archetype, who begin with empty service meters, but may exert more control over them.


The chessmaster gets 3/4 BAB-progression with good Reflex and Will saves, d8 HD, and 8 + Int skill points. They utilize edge points gained in combat and skill challenges and providing advice to allies actually yields results - the perfect class for all the "I know better than you where to place your character on the grid"-type of players...and providing bonuses makes listening, for once, viable and also gain edge points when their suggestion is carried out. These points they can use to return the favor by giving that action a boost via edge points- and yes, this may actually result in proper teamwork. They also get the option to set-up gambits, with prereqs, costs, triggers and effects - higher levels unlock new gambits and allow for new customizations of old ones. Interesting: At higher levels, the chessmaster can provvide advice to the enemies - when the enemy follows the advice, the chessmaster gains edge points; if not, the chessmaster can penalize him. Very interesting mastermind/tactician-style class. The trickster archetype swaps two abilities and replaces plans and coordination with a limited spell list.


The chimney sweep is a full BAB class with good Fortitude- and Reflex-saves, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. They gain soot points via chimney sweeping, which they can use to create concealment at first, and gain other benefits at higher levels. They can see through fog, mist, and soot without penalty, and gain various tricks based on soot - generally, think of these guys as polearm/concealment fighters and soot-point based bonus precision damage. Okay, but very limited specialist.


The croupier gets full BAB-progression with a good Reflex and Will save, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. The croupier receives the Sense, which makes hostile attacks of ever-increasing natural attack rolls fail - e.g. natural 2s. When a foe misses him, he gains Sense points, which may then be expended to modify e.g. d20 rolls: Think of the mechanic as somewhat akin to a Charisma-based version of grit, but based on being missed. Additionally, weapons like pool cues and cards are part of the deal - and important: The class can conjure forth cards and throw them at foes, with the suits becoming relevant when chosen via one of the class's talents - with e.g. hearts offering healing, clubs debuffs, etc. Billiard-based combat tricks and chaotic firearm use or limited bardic abilities complement a chaotic, but interesting class. Archetype-wise, the cheater can use his tricks to influence the rolls of others - basically, the more misfortune-themed variant of the class. The second archetype, the pool shark, would be the specialist who manifests a cue ball of force energy, usable in conjunction with a couple of unique rounder talents...including a mechanically novel crazy eight ball that may suddenly change course...


The davatti gains full BAB-progression and good Fortitude- and Reflex-save-progression, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. The interesting point here being that they can move 4-dimensionally - in the directions of ana and kata - to illustrate the concept for 3D-thinking: Imagine you're a denizen of Flatland (2D) and can move into the depth or height of your world - 4D-movement works similarly, but obviously lacks as poignant an illustration since our own perception is attuned to 3D. Mechanics-wise, this class can be summed up as the perfect skirmisher - since they can short-burst teleport/4D-move to just about any space, they are supremely agile and make hit and run tactics pretty awesome; since their4D-movement is still restricted by movement-type, this movement can't be cheesed. Also truly intriguing: Non-4D movement charges their "manabar", i.e. the points they can expend to modify their tricks via talents and the like. That's not all, however - the class also sports a highly customizable "nth blade", which interacts in some instances with these mechanics - basically, we get a skirmisher with a highly customizable blade type. Pretty impressive class! The archetype for this class provided would be the deja-vin - instead of using their powers to phase around, these guys can try to force creatures to repeat their previous actions to the best of their abilities, including, obviously, modified warp talents.


The dynamancer gets full BAB-progression and a good Will saving throw, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. Inspired by Gurren Lagann et al., they can fire beams of love...that deal love damage. Evil foes take more damage from this, but have an easier time saving against it. The interesting component, here, is momentum - being hit (or hitting a foe) grants the class momentum, while it also may expend said points...and even go negative, incurring penalties for doing so. And no, can't be cheesed/kitten'd. In combat, the class has a BAB that is different from the listed amount, clocking in at CR of the opponent, with class level +3 (later: class level +5) being the caps. Aforementioned love ray can be supplemented and expanded upon over the levels to result in compulsions and signature styles (including gender fluidity of those hit or breakdancing). Additionally, the gain handicaps, which allow for different uses of momentum - blind dynamancers can spend momentum to gain blindsight for a limited time-frame, for example. They also get an aura at higher levels that prevents creatures with a low Charisma from approaching them and a sufficiently whacky capstone. Archetype-wise, there is a somewhat tactician-y one, the greaser, who may lend signature styles to allies, for example.


The guide has 1/2 BAB-progression, good Reflex and Will saves, d4 HD (no, you have not misread!), and 8 + Int skill points. Have you seen the infamously stupid D&D cartoon and thought the GM as a character was a good idea? Have you ever played Ocarina of Time and NOT wanted to bash Navi's wispy bauble to smithereens? Well, there are guides. Guides serve the Storyteller, who prefers happy endings and thus sends out these fellows to guide heroes. Hence the name. These guides can change into tiny bubbles (with elemental traits) - even though the text confusingly once states that their form is diminutive and can basically provide all those support tricks: Mage Hand, Knock, high-level limited wishes, 1/day raise dead at the cost of being reduced to -1 HP, swift/immediate action cures - think of these guys as the support globe that hopefully isn't as annoying as the more infamous rendition in video games. Balance-wise, these guys are very fragile and their limited offense capabilities make them an uncommon playing experience. Unassisted flight at 1st level may prove to be problematic for some campaigns, though admittedly, the fragility of the class does help here a bit - a few well-placed arrows and you had a guide... One note: At 2nd level, these guys may cast magic missile at will, providing an easy and convenient way for very reliable damage. Depending on the precise nature of your campaign, this could prove to be an issue, thought it won't be in most. Fairy godmothers replace bauble form and some tricks with Cha-based spellcasting from the cleric's list and generally is a significant change of the feeling of the class.


The henchling gets full BAB-progression and good Fortitude saves, as well as d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points per level. The class is pretty ingenious in that it takes the old "who carries the loot"-discussion and puts an end to it: These guys do. Not penalized by encumbrance, they are superb at carrying huge amounts of gear...and actually benefit from it: You see, the primary weapon of these guys is the pack - basically, they can enchant their back packs, bags or the like and are particularly adept at bludgeoning foes to death with all the loot gathered. Interesting: Melee splash damage...and yes, you actually WANT to carry around increasing amounts of gear, since the higher your level, the higher the bonus damage for progressively higher weights carried around will be. Damn cool idea and uncomplicated, easy to grasp execution. Archetype-wise, the merchant, a rather complex one, can provide a significant number of quality of life improvements and the option to ferret out rewards for things/foes defeated is interesting as well.


The henshin hero is a full BAB class and has good Fortitude- and Will-save-progression, d10 HD, and gets 4 + Int skill points per level. These guys have a trinket à la Power Rangers that allows them to assume a special form a limited amount of rounds per day; while thus transformed, they gain tension points for passing rounds and defeated foes. These points act as a resource to power special tricks, including enhancers to the bonus damage-dealing finishers. The talents of the class include mounts, better action economy, explosive finishers and transformations - the whole array of tricks you know from the genre. Beyond the modularity this framework offers, the henshin hero also may choose one from a metric ton of leitmotifs, which cover bases from space to the alignment axes - these basically act as somewhat order-like/bloodline-like ability-suites that unlock new tricks at higher levels and provide modifications of the aforementioned finisher moves. Morph rangers are, obviously, more teamwork focused.


The magical girl gets 3/4-BAB-progression, good Fortitude- and Will-saves, d8 HD, 4 + Int skill points, and 6th level Cha-based spontaneous spellcasting. Magical girls are a hybrid between the henshin hero and the magus classes, and thus also gain a transformation as well the ability to gain and use tension, with finishers being untyped damage-blasts. Her motif acts more like a witch's patron, essentially a list of bonus spells. They also gain spell combat and some magical girl powers that blend magus arcana and hero powers and may expend transformation rounds to power spellcasting or dispel effects. Interesting: They can modify their finisher to work as AoE- basically, Sailor Moon, the class. The magical girl and henshin hero may btw. modify their trinkets via the empathetic device archetype to make their defining trinkets slightly sentient. Fused heroes, in the meantime, do not have such trinkets at all, working via different attributes and gaining a unique overdrive state, which can prove to be rather risky.


The monster cowboy gets full BAB and good Fortitude- and Reflex-saves, d10 HD, and 6 + Int skill points. They gain the gunslinger's gunsmith ability and, more importantly, a monstrous companion that acts like an animal companion (though the list is expanded to include e.g. gorgons, hydras or shambling mounds...), and gain the ability to ride pretty much anything you can imagine: With the exception of humanoids, incorporeal undead and oozes - even if they're not willing. While initially, this is done mainly to hassle the foes and gain advantages over them, things change once steel points enter the fray; these can be used to attempt to force creatures into submission via Handle Animal checks, though it is a mind-affecting effect. Beyond SPs gained by brands and the subversion of the will of branded foes, these guys They also have the ability to perform extra tricks with lassos and nets. Monstrous mount-choices, obviously, are part of the class presentation, though I really would have loved to see a pseudo-Chocobo here...oh well...riding owlbears is pretty awesome. And FYI: Since riding fellow adventurers doesn't really help the class, it thankfully steers clear of the minefield that is one PC riding another...


The multiman gets 3/4 BAB-progression and a good Reflex save, d8 HD, and measly 2 + Int skill points. Their main ability is creating clones - at first 1 at a given time, later up to 4. Clones are created as a swift action 4/day, +1/day for each class level, lasting for class level rounds, minimum 3. Clones are restricted in the actions they can perform and observant adversaries may pick out the prime multiman. Clones are rather fragile to begin with and draw upon a collective pool of resources. Impressive: The disarm/item-duplication-cheese options are covered. The class becomes more interesting pretty fast, with customizable clones (e.g. remote-detonation clones or ones that fly/are invisible) providing options via two separate suits of talents. Oh, and obviously, the class also gets some serious teamwork-vibes going on. Archetype-wise, the mitotic man is similar yet different, splitting off clones by mitosis, with consecutively powerful ooze traits gained instead of mirror manipulations. I am a bit weary of these guys, but then again, the visuals are glorious.


Class number 15, The phantom thief, gets 3/4 BAB-progression with good Reflex- and Will- saves, d8 HD, 6 + Int skill points, and 6th-level spontaneous Cha-based spellcasting. Billed as a hybrid of the rogue and the bard they also get a pool of panache, the ability to fight more effectively in light or no armor, and the ability to spend panache to sneak attack. They later gain a number of tricks to allow them to steal various non-physical things, amongst other abilities. The class has the crazy prepared option among the talents (which works well and can't be cheesed, though it lacks the "no-specific-key" caveat)...and can steal abstract concepts - from memories to attitudes, these guys come off as the mythic tricksters with a slight touch of the magical. If you're familiar with a lot of 3pp-books: Think of these guys as a pretty powerful take on the Abstract Thief that works much better than the class of the same name. My favorite version of the concept so far - kudos! The bagman archetype of the class is the gift-giving specialist, just fyi - and yes, you could make conceivably battle santa with this one.


The sparkle princess has a 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fortitude- and Will-saves, d10 HD, 2 + Int skill points, and Charisma-governed spontaneous spellcasting of up to 4th level, though spells may be cast alternatively via sparkle power. Sparkle princesses are ruthless, savage killers, honed by fighting devils in a nightmarish demiplane of Hell, dread Candyland ruled by the Chocolate King, where everything is tooth-achingly sweet and the devils assume cutesy-wootsy forms, tempting children into the plane where most are either devoured or pressed into slave labor. They utilize special snowflake powers that can be powered by their sparkles...or they perform atrocities, which are sparkle-powered modifications of their respective attacks. Including the severing of limbs. Obviously. (Yes, rules included.) They also gain an animal companion or can establish a bond with their allies. Information on the demiplane is provided, as is the +2 Cha and Con, -2 Int half-construct teddybear race. ...the sparkle princess may not be mechanically the most novel of options herein...but oh boy do I love the class and its notion. Oh, and there is the mother archetype who can reselect all mommy powers it comes with at 16th level - via the aptly-named "Best Mom Ever"-ability.


The thread maiden is similarly a 3/4 BAB class with a good Will save, d8 HD, 6 + Int skill points, and 6th-level Wisdom-based prepared spellcasting. They can see the threads of fate, which results in a rather unique perspective on the world and creatures - think of her seeing things basically as though we all were sackboys/girls from Little Big Planet. Depending on the specialization chosen, they can unweave magic, take away the qualities (or types) of creatures or objects. Additionally, special attacks, so-called snips, allow for the expenditure of unused spell slots to provide pretty nasty debuffs.


Finally, the ungermaw gets full BAB, plus a good Fortitude-save, d10 HD, and 4 + Int skill points. These people can draw in air with such force it delivers targets closer to his gnashing teeth. They get a bite (proper primary/secondary codification provided) and are defined by hunger - they must eat twice as much as a regular character and still are never sated. They gain a number of talents, mostly focused on consumption as they progress, making their bite more deadly, allowing them to exhale to push people away, and even the ability to feast on magic itself...and yes, swallow whole. The cannibal archetype of this class, while technically not correctly named, gets abilities depending on the creature eaten.


The pdf also sports archetypes beyond the aforementioned ones:


Abductee clerics replace channel energy with the option to deal nonlethal damage...however, there is a chance that the target is abducted and subject to alien experimentation. Interesting one. Broodmother summoners are the harbingers of insectoid or otherwise weird symbiotes - instead of an eidolon, they can caused touched creatures to be infected and then mutate. They get less creatures to be summoned, but may cause damage versus those infected, as a capstone even providing a killswitch. The Comrade paladin...is a holy warrior of the ideals of Marxism, devoted to bringing down nobility and bourgeoisie. The coward rogue is permanently shaken and deals minimum sneak attack damage - but may inflict its cowardice on others and even learns to modify his levels of fear - a lot of unique talents included. Interesting archetype-concept.


Pretty cool, particularly for all interested in modern-style gaming, the ranger-archetype of first responder, with paramedic, firefighter and police officers being represented. The folken barbarian hails from a strange land and has a blend of superstition-style abilities (yep, hex) and signature weapons as well as the option to stir the hearts of those that listen to him using his native tongue.


Glitch sorcerors are interesting enough to be almost considered their own class and rank as one of my favorite sorceror archetypes EVER - getting rid of the defining bloodline and all that's associated with it, these beings regard reality as a simulation and may tamper with in, hacking the world itself: This allows them to swap creatures with other creatures, for example. Modifying DR or hacking resistance also are...interesting. The significant, potentially game-changing power comes at a price, though: Each time the glitch hacks reality, reality recoils. The GM has an assortment of options, from problematic objects to worsened starting attitudes...and yes, this can lead to very unique situations. I really like this one, though it does require a quick-thinking GM. Still, a campaign with these guys and Rite Publishing's Metadventurers could be absolutely hilarious! Goblin rogues may elect to become battle clowns (including an assortment of goblin jokes) and harpy witches replace hexes with belittling, vile insults.


The impersonator PrC gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves and 7/10 spellcasting progression, a bonus feat at 1st and every 3 levels thereafter...and generally, has the fine-tuning depending on the persona he impersonates: A Schwarzenegger impersonator gets different class skills, applies better weapon training to different weapons than a Bruce Lee impersonator, for example. 6 sample icons are provided. The Slimelord PrC gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, 1/2 spell/extract-progression, 1/2 BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort-progression - by studying oozes, they can lob oozy bomb-like globs at foes, get different slime forms and progressively take on ever more oozy traits...but at the cost of progressively losing Charisma. Oh, and yes, there is a new deity: Baygorth, the elderslime, whose favorite weapon...is green and needs to smell like peaches. That's it. provided you can make a weapon adhere to these criteria and do so...well, you got it. And yes, you can take Weapon Focus (Green and Smells Like Peaches). This section also introduces us to the humanoid oozes called Rezumar, who get 2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int and have a couple, but thankfully not all ooz-y traits...and make for an overall balanced race, though I wished it had more space to shine.


One of the oddest archetypes I have ever seen would be the Master Familiar - a familiar who gets a wizard thrall. Kinda awesome! The Nascent deity oracle archetype selects a dominion from a list of cleric domains, with provides a prerogative and a list of class skills, replacing the mystery and mystery bonus spells. Not a big fan of this one, mainly since I've seen the concept done better. The negotiator inquisitor is a slick, silver-tongued guy with some battle-butler-synergy and ooze chemist alchemists get a symbiotic ooze (erroneously, he's called "mad experimentalist" once here) - basically an ooze companion that can be enhanced by extracts, but the alchemist does lose bombs. Unfortunately, I've seen that one done before in a bit more unique manner by Flying Pincushion Games. Pacifist fighters are perhaps not perfectly named, but they do provide a solid means of depicting a face-fighter that does not kill his foes. Pyrotechnicians are bomb-specialist-alchemists with full BAB and Ex bombs as well as no spellcasting - mainly useful for non-magical settings; in the fantastic context, I've seen this trope done better.


On a high note: Rancer cavaliers get orthellas - magical motor-cycles. Awesome, though I wished there were more than the two sample ones provided here. Speedster monks increase their damage, the more they have moved and become progressively faster (think Flash or Quicksilver, light edition), while starchild druids gain a psychedelic outsider companion and the option to animate dreams. The take on the Storyteller archetype, here provided for the bard, has weaponized books and can conjure forth legends of old.


Of course, in a book of this size, one should not be surprised to see feats - and indeed, from Dance-Fu fighting style to Percussive Maintenance Style or Sissy Slap style, there are quite a few rather funny ones. The feat-section also provides a lot of options for the huge array of classes (and archetypes) herein - e.g. the harpy does get a couple of feats. Nice, btw.: You see the associated class at one glance - in optional brackets behind the feat-name. Very helpful! Firing a bow with your feet? Possible. Also cool: Elemental Phobia: it nets you resistance versus the element, but makes you react with dread when faced by it...and yes, upgradeable. A fascination-inducing Puppy-Dog gaze, a personal theme song-feat...this book earns its title.


The book also sports new gear - metal jaws, cloudpress and darksteel, nacreous silver...quite a bunch of new materials can be found...oh, and yeah, there even are a couple (5) cool combat drugs. Books of lewd desires or bullets that talk with you while sticking in your body...have I mentioned the "Oh Dear Mother of God why would you do this"-chain that can discorporate into a spider swarm on command?


Sooo, and right now I come to a chapter that may single-handedly make some people buy this book, even those that don't care at all for a single class herein: Mecha-construction rules. You get build points, various frames, engines, weapons, defense systems, movement systems, special systems - in one word: Easy to grasp-rules (with Build Point-progression rules for Mecha-XP, if you will - slow, normal and fast progression...), different sizes, different generators - the set-up is simple, yet works...and may well be a great start for a whole book of mecha...the system's relative simplicity certainly would allow for a lot of expansion beyond the ~20 pages devoted to it! I love this chapter and its rules, but on a nitpicky side, explaining how the system works in detail would have been didactically smart - while it becomes evident upon reading what the components do, clearly explaining all components, not just the basics before going into the system would have made it a tad bit more user-friendly. Then again, it's so easy to grasp, you won't have any issues.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are...honestly much better than I expected. In a book of this significant size, there are surprisingly few glitches herein. Kudos to Morgan Boehringer, Christina Johnson and Rahul Kanojia. Layout adheres to a 1-column full-color standard and there is a LOT of playful, original full-color art herein. On the downside, I don't really like the one-column standard for books like this (more page-flipping) and I'm no fan of the font. Both are subjective points and thus will not enter the equation regarding my final verdict. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and a second b/w printer-friendly version -great to see that one!


Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Ian Sisson, Sasha Hall, Mark Nordheim, Christos Gurd - congratulations. This book is the biggest crunch-book I have ever reviewed. It took me forever to get done and I honestly expected the reviewing process to devolve into pure pain somewhere along the way. It didn't. This is due to several facts:


1) This book opts to go the high road: You won't see any lackluster combinations of old class mechanics herein; even in hybrid type classes, the results are unique and have their own unique schtick.


2) Almost all of the classes feature some kind of very distinct and novel mechanic - granted, I dislike some of them personally, but I have to applaud their creativity and said dislike stems universally from personal tastes. You can e.g. reduce rads via magic pretty easily; in my games, this would be a problem; in others, it may be required for the mechanic to be considered worthwhile - bug or feature? You decide.


3) Overall, there are no downright broken components herein. There are some strong options herein, but they universally are circumstantial in their power and focus: Obviously, the glowing Navi-thing must fly...is that an issue in your low-level game? It can be, but it doesn't have to be.


4) This book, honestly, is great for serious games as well. The davatti, for example, will certainly see use in my games, no matter the tone.


5) This book is never, ever BORING. I have seen A LOT of different crunch books and quite a few...well, feel somewhat redundant to me at this point. This one, for the staggering majority of its vast page-count, managed to keep me entertained while reading and analyzing it.


How to rate this colossus, then? See, this is where it gets tricky for me - I have encountered a couple of instances where the rules-language or presentation could have been a bit clearer. I didn't like everything...but on the other hand, this is pretty much a colossal grab-bag of options, a scavenger's toolkit that allows you to play basically Power Rangers, Sailor Moon, use tropes like the battle maid, skirmish through space or play a friggin' fairy godmother...or a psychotic sparkle princess. Not all options or power-levels will be appropriate for every campaign. Not all classes will be to your liking...but chances are, you'll find a lot of damn cool material (or rules-inspirations) in this book. Ever wanted to play Ghostrider? There's an option for that. And then there's the bang-for-buck ratio. ~$0.04 per page. You'll be pretty hard-pressed to find a book of this imaginative potential with such an impressive bang-for-buck ratio. While there are some hiccups herein, the totality of the book deserves praise and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars...and since I loved a lot of the imaginative and innovative options herein, I'll round up and while not all components inside deserve it, I will still slap my seal of approval on this massive book for the multitude of components inside that I do love. If you want to see something radically different, take a look at this tome - there is so much to love here, even if you end up loathing some components, it's well worth the investment!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gonzo 2
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Tome of Wicked Things 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2016 05:33:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.25 pages of SRD, leaving us with ~12 pages of content, so let's take a look!


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


We begin this supplement with the slasher base class, intended to allow for GMs to duplicate the gruesome sprees of Jason, Michael Myers etc. The base class receives d12, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor, full BAB-progression and, interestingly, good Will-saves. Slashers obviously need to be evil and are intended primarily as antagonists. A slasher begins play with the accursed ability, which nets a pool of curse points they can use to power their class abilities. Said points are interesting in that they can hold up to 2 times class level + Charisma modifier. They get +1 curse point when they see a creature die, +2 if they kill it themselves. Curse points refresh at the stroke of Midnight. I'd usually start my kitten-test-schtick right now...but in the case of this class, that seems kind of stupid. Yes, slashers WOULD kill kittens to replenish curse points.


Slashers instinctively understand every language, but cannot articulate any, being relegated to grunts, moans and the like. Also at first level, the slasher chooses a tragedy from 6 presented - these can be likened to bloodlines or orders in that they modify the list of class skills and, in some cases, proficiencies. Each such tragedy confers multiple boons upon the slasher, but also an array of weaknesses. Let's take a look at "Cursed One", as an example: These guys receive SR 11 + class level as well as an oracle's curse (with tongues being not allowed - nice catch!) - but weakness-wise, being targeted by a hex temporarily inverts their fast healing, dealing damage instead (this could be a bit more clearly spelled out) and wielding magic weapons whose bonus exceeds 1/3rd their level similarly sabotages their fast healing. Finally, each slasher has a preferred target - here, that would be any creature with a CL or at least 1 SP.


Knights of hell receives a mount and heavy armor (and tower shield) proficiency as well as an upgrade for the infernal template at 4th level. They are weak to holy symbols and good weapons and target non-evil creatures. The remorseless killer triples the amount of bleed damage caused and instantly kills creatures reduced to 0 HP, but they are weak to law-aligned weapons and symbols and target such creatures. The restless avenger never grows tired and needs no sleep and gains Endurance at 1st level. Any damage caused by the slasher renders the target tired for 3 rounds. They are weak to chaotic-aligned weapons and when they are reminded of their first act of vengeance...or subject to the tolling of bells. The seeker of power can duplicate a limited array of spells from the sorceror/wizard-list via curse points. Unfortunately, the ability is not specified as SP and thus, I have no idea which attribute governs the saves - I assume Charisma, but I'm not sure. If the slasher casts spells thus, he does take damage, though. They are weak to silver/cold iron and target outsiders. Finally, there would be the tortured child tragedy, which is immune to fear effects and increases the DC of such effects caused by +2. The tragedy also grants a level-based bonus to atk and damage versus creatures that are smaller. Their healing is inverted when hearing a baby cry, when they're confronted with a memento/effigy of the torturing parent and they target humanoids.


Also at 1st level, slashers receive a calling card - this has a 60 ft.-radius: Torches may double effectiveness and turn into weird colors. Weird melodies (Freddy comes a-knockin...) can penalize concentration, the chill of the grave or water turning into blood - these effects are not subtle...but they are cool...and can be suppressed as a swift action. Also at 1st level, the slasher receives a weapon of grief, in which he is automatically proficient. When wielding this weapon, slashers may expend one curse point to deal + Cha-mod damage versus good-aligned creatures noted in the preferred target-line of his tragedy.


At 2nd level, the class can deliver a single attack as a full-round action - if the attack hits, he deals 1 point of attribute damage or bleed damage, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. He may also expend curse points equal to the amount of this damage inflicted to accompany the first attack of a full attack to add said effect to the first attack. This ability could be a tad more precise in its wording. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the slasher may choose one of the talents of the class: These include more weapons of grief, Bleeding Critical, hideous laughter (not properly italicized) as a curse point-based SP. (Yes, this one gets SP and CL right.) One talent also allows for instant healing as a response to seeing a nearby creature killed. Literally feeding on fear (and even healing via fear) and an option to go unnoticed as well as the option to hamstring foes can be found herein. And yes, with the right talent, slashers can detach their head or double the range of their calling card. Off-screen teleportation into a hiding place/concealment is represented by curse point-based dimension door, oddly not codified as Sp, but as Su, which means that CL-info and the like is slightly problematic here. Higher level slashers may deal both attribute damage and bleed damage at once. Oh, and there would be the option to force killed targets to emit a scream, resulting in AoE-demoralize. Invisibility as an SP is also nice and a second calling card is fun as well. Hunting down specific creatures and reflexive teleport to stand behind doors, curtains etc. complement some cool, if not always perfect abilities.


At 3rd level, the slasher gets a scaling short-range fear aura. At 4th level, the slasher gains fast healing 1 as long as he has at least 1 curse point. Fats healing increases by +1 at 8th level, +1 every four levels thereafter. The inversion of fast healing noted in the tragedies deals twice the fast healing's amount as damage, btw. 5th level nets 30 ft. lifesense (blindsight, only for living creatures) and 10th level provides 1/day a free reflexive raise dead. As a capstone, this rising from the grave instead works via true resurrection within minutes (instead of raise dead's hour-countdown)...oh, and the slasher sends his victims straight to an evil-aligned underworld...and killing creatures nets the slasher HD of creature killed x2 HP.


The pdf also introduces a new races, the Grinn - 7ft. tall boogeymen with elongated limbs and digits and look somewhat like walking corpses - they may be rather eloquent...or brutal killing machines. Grinn obviously are fey, suffer from light sensitivity, get low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft and get +1 to Intimidate and Knowledge (Nobility), which also are always class skills for them. This can be replaced by more nasty grims that champion slaughter with 2 1d4 claw-attacks - I assume the default her, but specifying primary/secondary would have been nice. Their defining, eponymous feature, though, would be their dreadful smile. This is a mind-affecting fear-effect that works like a gaze attack and causes targets to be temporarily shaken, with a hex-24-hour cool down, but also scaling DC. Nice balance between keeping the gaze relevant and preventing spamming here. The race does feature age. height and weight-tables, which is neat to see. The pdf also sports 4 feats for the Grinn, which unlock a smile that panics/paralyzes at balance-wise appropriate levels (kudos!), free Intimidates after hitting with both claws and the scent-quality, but only for creatures suffering from fear-effects.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay, though I've seen Little Red Goblin Games do better in that regard - there are some typos, abilities not properly classified as SP when they obviously should be that and similar minor hiccups in the rules-language, though admittedly, they tend not to influence the feasibility of the respective material. Layout adheres to a solid two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson and Ian Sisson have crafted a book... that I like more than I should. Quite frankly, this book hits a couple of things that usually irk me to no end - small imperfections that just...gall me. But know what? For once, I honestly don't care that much. Why? Because I'm a huge horror-fan (d'uh!) and have seen more slasher-flicks than I can shake a stick at - actually, I've analyzed quite a few of them properly...but that's for another topic. The slasher herein is interesting, because it captures rather well in mechanic terms how those killers operate. The class also does a great job mirroring the impeccable advance of the slasher, meaning the class can work in player hands in an evil game...though its class featured can be cheesed...by design.


The odd thing here is that I'm not 100% positive whether this is aimed at players or at GMs - for the GM-side, the class may actually be a bit too balanced for its own sake. For the player-side, I abhor the kitten-cheese of curse-point-replenishment, particularly when an easy tying of the curse point replenishment to the tragedy's preferred victims would have offset that. Similarly, I love the more creative, narrative weaknesses (tolling of bells, etc.) but while I consider the alignment-based ones balance-wise justified, they fall somewhat behind in visuals and potential. This class leaves me very much torn.


Regarding the grinn - well, here, I have nothing to complain: The race should work in all but the most low-powered of games and is evocative in its fluff. While I wished it had some FCOs for good measure, I enjoy the race and look forward to using it when I one day get to run e.g. Richard Pett's The Blight.


How to rate this, then? See, here, things become VERY difficult for me. Craftsmanship-wise, there is a lot to love...and quite a bit to dislike as well. So I'll leave this up to you, my readers: If you want perfect craftsmanship and minor hiccups in the abilities irk you, then you will probably consider this to be a 3 star-file. If you're looking for a scavenging ground of ideas and crunchy tricks, then this will certainly deliver - for you, this will probably be a 4-star file. Similarly, if you're playing an evil campaign and both you and your GM are fine with gentlemen's agreements/minor modifications, this will do its job well and should be considered as a nice, inexpensive purchase. My final verdict will thus fall in-between, at 3.5 stars...and because I really enjoy the grinn and the subject matter, I will round up.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Wicked Things 2
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Sage (Character Class)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2016 04:32:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf 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, so let's take a look!


Sages as a class receive d6 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-Saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are subject to arcane spell failure when utilizing armor or shields. Unsurprisingly from the chassis, the sage is a full caster that draws spells from the sorc/wizard spell-list and learns them at the same rate as the sorceror. Here's a divergence from established tropes, though: In spite of being a spontaneous caster, the sage's governing spellcasting attribute is not Charisma, but Intelligence. They still get Eschew Materials at first level.


The defining class feature for the sage, though, would be meditation, an extraordinary ability. A given sage can meditate for 4+Wisdom modifier rounds per day, +2 rounds every level after the first. Temporary enhancements to Wisdom do not grant additional rounds of meditation and the ability is replenished after resting. While meditating, sages receive a +4 bonus to Int and +2 to Will-saves, though the Int-increase does not net you skill points or the like. Additionally, spells cast receive a +1 bonus to their caster level, but this does come at an interesting cost - the base speed is reduced to 5 ft., 0 ft. if her speed already was 10 ft. or less. Additionally, meditating sages receive a penalty of -4 to Str and Dex and cannot make skill-checks based on them...oh, and they're flatfooted. A sage may end a given meditation as a free action, but remains befuddled for 2 rounds per round spent in meditation - this translates to -4 Int and Wis. Being subject to any effect that causes befuddlement while already befuddled renders the sage confused instead and entering meditation is impossible while befuddled.


All right, let's drop the pretense - the sage can easily be summed up as a full caster class that utilizes the design paradigm of the barbarian and as such it should come as no surprise that the sage begins play with a meditation power and receives an additional power every two levels thereafter, read: every odd level. Said powers can obviously only be utilized while in meditation. The meditation powers themselves un a rather diverse gamut of options - for example, one nets you scaling spells available only in meditation: First just a 0-level spell, but at 18th level, you also get up to 4th level spells - though the spells thus gained only remain available while meditating. Another two meditations allow you to treat the SR of e.g. evil or good creatures as lower than it is while meditating. At 6th level, you can teleport 30 ft within line of sight as a move action, somewhat offsetting the sage's crippled movement - nice, though imho this should be designated as a conjuration [teleportation]-effect for purposes of interaction with other mechanics. Similarly, sages with another power may use their out of meditation movement...provided they end the movement adjacent to an enemy.


There is also an option that allows you to freely change elemental types of spells cast (and gets the descriptor-caveat right - kudos!) or gain a familiar that only is present in meditation. Levitation while meditating can also be found among the options here and there also is an immediate action retributive bull rush based on Wis versus targets daring to come close to the sage. 1/meditation touch-spell maximization is nasty.


As for the other class abilities: I'm not a fan of adding two attribute-modifiers to any skill, so unsurprisingly, I don't like the addition of Wis-mod to all Knowledge and Spellcraft-checks at 3rd level.8th level provides essentially evasion for Will-saving throws while in meditation and 10th level upgrades meditation bonuses to +6/+3, respectively, with the capstone further increasing them to +8/+4.


At 10th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the sage receives an advanced meditation (5 such abilities are provided by the pdf, which is a bit sparse) - these can be considered modifications of a basic meditation - you enter them as a swift action, but can't revert back to a regular meditation. Only one advanced meditation may be in effect at a given time. The first of these allows the sage to damage herself to deal additional damage and also causes continuous damage while maintained - think of it as sudden death mode. Deeper Meditation allows for even better SR-penetration, while delving into cyclopean mysteries increases CL and upgrades the maximum damage dice cap of spells, but comes at the price of confusion after exiting the meditation. Studied Meditation allows you to pay for metamagic benefits with meditation rounds, while isolated meditation increased chances to hit and threat ranges of spells. The capstone ability of the class allows for the activation of two such advanced meditations at once.


The pdf goes on to present the Conduit, which is erroneously referenced as "sage" in the proficiency-list, which is modified to include the favored weapon of the conduit's deity. The conduit's spells are drawn from the cleric spell list and are not prepared in advance (though the write-up here contradicts itself by stating before that they are prepared in advance...nasty cut copy paste error...). Uncommon once again - they are governed by Intelligence, not Wisdom. Instead of the knowledge-bonuses and the will-evasion, conduits receive the Divine Conduit ability at 3rd level, which allows for channel energy, with a radius of 15 ft. This effect may not be suppressed and deals/heals 1d6 at 4th level (which is odd - is it 3rd or 4th level??), +1d6 every 4 levels thereafter. Okay, if you can't see the glaring issue here, let me enlighten you: This is always on. Not only in meditation, ALWAYS. ON. Infinite AoE-damage (which renders evil conduits basically incapable of interacting with anything but undead), it also represents infinite healing. I am pretty sure this is supposed to be only active while meditating, but ultimately, RAW, that's what we get - and as such, it won't get anywhere near my table.


The pdf also sports 6 new feats: More meditation rounds, +1 meditation power, expending 3 rounds of meditation as a swift action for +Wis-mod damage with damaging spells (do the expended rounds count towards the befuddlement period? - No Idea.), a feat that can be sued once per round when piercing SR to get +1 meditation round (effectively maintaining the allotted rounds), better skill-use in meditation and a feat for access to a bloodline power while in meditation.


The pdf also sports 4 unique magic items: A sensory deprivation helm that nets blindsight in meditation, a torc that allows for other classes to enter meditation (or adds +3 rounds) that is pretty underpriced at 8K, a ring that lets you ignore befuddlement at the expense of damage (or reduce confusion down to befuddlement) - but again: Does this allow for the renewed initiation of meditation or does it simply offset the penalties? No clue. There also are sandals that increase movement speed and grant sages access to a meditation power. Slightly annoying: The magic items deviate from formatting standards, lacking spell-italicization and the usual bolding of Aura, CL, etc.


The pdf closes with 2 new spells, touch of befuddlement and waves of befuddlement - the latter has an instantaneous duration and renders all creatures in the cone befuddled, no save...but does not specify for how long. The touch is solid and nice.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay, though not perfect - there are some deviations from formatting standards to be found here. At the same time, some potentially nasty cut-copy-paste-errors and ambiguities have crept into an otherwise clean array of rules-language exhibited in the class. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has some nice, original pieces of artwork. The pdf also sports bookmarks, though oddly, the archetype is absent from them - which doesn't really surprise me.


Why? Where the base sage is clean and precise in its depiction (for the most part), the conduit feels very much rushed, less refined and basically non-functional. Jeff Gomez, Dayton Johnson and Scott Gladstein seem to have created a solid, if brief class that could have used some more choices with the sage: In playtest, the class performed exactly as I expected: Basically, the sage is somewhat akin to a sorceror that can go hulk: It's pretty satisfying to start wrecking foes with enhanced magical potency. The cool-down means that you have to choose your meditation wisely and that buffs suddenly become more viable if their duration is long enough to survive the befuddlement cool-down. Similarly, meditation-cycling can make for interesting flows in long battles. Let me state this explicitly: The sage would be OP, were it not for the movement decrease and the vulnerability this imposes - even the best sage remains FLATFOOTED when meditating, which means a sage is only as good as his minions/fellow PCs - one rogue can literally instagib him...and this makes for a rather interesting dynamic. I ended up really liking the sage, in spite of some rough edges and me wishing it had more advanced meditations and meditation powers to choose from.


At the same time, the conduit is broken and the supplemental material, unfortunately, does not reach the level of refinement of the base-class, sporting several unnecessary issues that could have been easily eliminated. What remains, thus, is an interesting, powerful base-class that sports a unique playstyle, hamstrung somewhat (see what I did there - crippled movement, hamstrung...okay, I'll drop a buck in the bad pun jar) by the accumulating issues beyond the basic framework of the class. Hence, unfortunately, I can't rate this as high as I'd like to - my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Sage (Character Class)
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Alternate Paths: Martial Characters
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/03/2016 04:13:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at...wait...what? 119 pages? Okay, this'll be a long one. Of these pages, 1 page is devoted to the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 116 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, there are classes herein - a lot of them, and they are defined pretty much by their cultural niche and concept - being labeled as exotic classes, since they may be more specialized than a given class, but still taking the same niche. So no, these do not count as alternate classes. Rules-wise, we are introduced to so-called "trappings," items, which, much like e.g. an arcane bonded object, is a defining item for the class - 4 feats allow for the utilization of such trappings in additional ways, limited negation of disarms, functioning after being broken or rerolling confirmation rolls. Clothing can, via one feat, grant the benefits of the endure elements spell while wearing the trapping - which is not bad, though I wished the feat was slightly more precise regarding the benefit applying to the effects only. Feral Feats may be taken in lieu of rage powers or favored terrain. War feats can only be used AFTER initiative has been rolled. In an interesting rule, the pdf codifies morale and suggests bonuses for the side which currently is dominant in that regard, a system supported by 3 feats.


The pdf also suggests house rules for e.g. allowing skill-boosting feats like Athletic to grant the skills as class skills and a rules that allows for a 1-round period of grace for killed characters to be healed...which is a bit odd, once death magic and non-damage-causing magic enters the fray. I think this rule was intended to apply only to hit points, but still - not a well-presented rule. I do like the idea of granting favored class status to a PrC in addition to the base class. The notion to 12-hour retrain favored enemy and terrain is problematic from a rules-perspective, though understandable. The flexibility is nice, but the lack of retraining cost makes it a bit too easy to switch in my book. The book also champions normalization of groups via an easy mechanic and sports a retro-active crazy-prepared (within reason) option to retroactively have bought certain items. While this works in GUMSHOE, the presence and significance of such a rule makes the game progress smoother and de-emphasizes careful planning - whether you like that or not depends ultimately on your own forte.


Now usually, I'm a big fan of realistic, simulation-style combat, but shieldbreaker may go a bit too far, making shields take damage when blocking weapons, rendering the item-class even more...less optimal. Using reposition to halve shield bonuses? Now that one I can easily get behind - makes sense to me and is concisely presented. Are you looking for a combat option that emphasizes more savagery? Well, in theory, making each attack provoke an AoO that is executed AFTER the attack may sound like a good theory; in practice, though, this rule makes the already impressively powerful ranged weapons more powerful. From a fluff-perspective, an assumption of general illiteracy makes sense and is something I used in my games before. Another rule makes combat MUCH more deadly - weapons with one rule deal their damage die + enhancement bonus as bleed damage and an easy fatigue/exhaustion-threshold makes sense. Chances of big creatures knocking smaller ones prone also makes sense. The book also has a rule that means when an attack hits touch AC, but not regular AC, the character would receive the attacker's Str-mod in damage still - I also experimented with this rule in dark fantasy contexts and it is interesting, though it further emphasizes offense over defense. Making weapons grant bonuses to AC make sense, though the limitation is not my favorite. Allowing for Con-check driven ferocity when downed below 0 HP is also something I tried in my games. Personally, I'm not a big fan of regaining 1 hp stable status upon landing a killing blow on a foe.


All of these variant rules can be used and combined and three sample arrays of rule-combinations are provided.


All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the significant array of new base classes (9, to be precise). The first would be the adventurer, who gets d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB-progression and only good saves. They also get simple and martial weapon proficiency and a bonus feat at 1st level and every 4 levels thereafter. The adventurer can grant himself luck bonuses as free actions 1/2 character level times per day and receives wild-card crazy-prepared of items equal to 100 gp times character level, to be upgraded to 1000 gp times level. While the items adhere to a weight limit, the free and easy access to magic items can be an immensely unbalancing factor, depending on your group: Need scrolls that protect you versus the elements? Got them. Amulets that increase the carrying capacity of the fighter buddy? All ready.


Now in some campaigns, this may be nice and something a given group enjoys. Personally, I loathe the ability with all my heart and consider the limitations not strict enough. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the adventurer receives a talent that include counting as having access to all spells for crafting purposes, quick drawing items from backpack etc., very limited healing (that could use a scaling mechanism to retain its relevance). On the plus side, spellcasting scavenging is represented in a surprisingly concise manner that even takes classes like palas or ranger's decreased CL into account - kudos! At higher levels, the adventurer may preroll a limited number d20s and later substitute them for rolls, with the capstone allowing for rerolls of all d20-rolls and an even more freeform item-generation. While I get that in some campaigns, the crazy-prepared ability can be a true blessing, in others, it may well be a truly annoying alien element that can spoil the fun of other players that like planning ahead...and the balancing control of GMs on item availability. While I belong firmly in the second group and would not allow this ability sans some serious restrictions and nerfing, as a reviewer, I have to swallow my distaste here. On the plus-side, I do enjoy that this guy is a martial that is useful beyond combat thanks to skills etc. In the end, I consider the class a little bit too strong due to its powerful chassis. Nor for every group, but definitely a class some groups will love.


The Athlete base class has d10, only 2+Int skills per level, proficiency in simple weapons and light armor as well as automatic proficiency with sports equipment, 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-progression. The athlete begins with the option to use his determination to reroll failed rolls, with saves and skills receiving a bonus on the reroll attempt, with every 5 levels increasing the bonus granted by +1 and also providing +1 use. More important and defining, though, would be the position class feature: The position offers an array of changes, including, in e.g. the defender's case, an upgrade of HD from d10 to d12, better BAB-progression or swifter movement. Additionally, each such position allows for additional uses of determination. A new position is learned at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Beyond this chassis-modifying ability-suite, athletes are obviously defined by their sports, which provide bonuses depending on the sport - somewhat inelegantly called "skill bonuses", but the rules are clear enough in their intended meaning. For the purpose of feat prereqs, athletes use their full level and they also receive inherent physical attribute bonuses at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. 8th level nets evasion and higher levels provide take 10-options for related skills and even a take 20-option at level 20. The class is supplemented by baseball and soccer-weaponry. An okay class, though the few skills somewhat limit it in non-combat environments.


The Gladiator gets d10, 2+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and proficiency in simple weapons, gladius, light and medium armor and also a school of combat, which further modifies the proficiencies, bonus feats and specific special tricks the class learns -Bloodpit Fighters, for example, get sneak attack, while the dimachaerus reduces two-weapon fighting penalties and can even get bonuses in the end...so yes, these have an inherent scaling. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter net maneuver specializations that go beyond the base feats, employing gladiatorial points. When the gladiator does something that would make him grant a performance check, he may use the point to power class features and the like - the synergy of renewable resource-management and performance combat is pretty awesome and allows for some rather unique options. Fighting for the gods, life and death of those vanquished, are determined by a coin toss - which is surprisingly tense at the table in actual play. This gladiator did not look as cool as it actually played on paper - I really like this beast, as it manages to make performance combat matter sans crowds. Two thumbs up, though, once again I wished it had more non-combat utility. Still, a great class that has been added to my homegame's roster! (FYI: I upgraded skills per level by +2 in my home game.)


The Guardian gets d10, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all martial and simple weapons and all armor, including tower shields. While wearing a shield, these guys may expend attacks of opportunity to interpose himself in the line of foes threatening his adjacent allies. To do so, he attacks with +Dex-mod and +shield-bonus versus the target's AC. And no, I'm not complaining about competing rolls here since the ability retains roll vs. fixed value as a paradigm. On a success, the guardian becomes the new target of the attack, which is probably the best designed level 1 bodyguard ability I've seen so far. It should come as no surprise considering the focus of the class, that shield tricks and a charge that ends with e.g. Heal-checks or similar aids to allies are part of the deal, though I found myself rather surprised at the ease and simplicity of this design - and why it hadn't been done before. Speaking of shield tricks - these allow you to one-hand two-handed weapons, but at the cost of not being able to perform more than one attack in a full-round action. Better nonlethal damage output, SP shield other and both numerical options and more allies to be shielded complement a tightly focused class that plays surprisingly well, making armor and shields matter. A rewarding choice, though I'd once again advise for +2 skills per level. Still - kudos! I'll certainly be using these guys!


At d10, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves , 4+Int skills and proficiency in simple weapons, light armors and shields, the inheritor is defined by the legacy of her name and honored ancestry. Basically, you get trappings as well as an ability-suite called lineage, defined by two characteristics like "Beloved" or "Wicked" that provides a modification of class skills and also determines the boons the class gains. The class begins with 1 boon and receives +1 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter and they do include attribute bonuses. Additionally, inheritors can channel their ancestors as a swift action, a total of 1 minute per level per day - some effects of the boons chosen only become available while channeling. Additionally, the class is defined by hereditary attributes/the option to substitute mental ability scores for attack-bonus calculation and defense; alas, the high level option of 2 attributes to attack are a bit too much for my tastes.


The Tataued Warrior gets d10, a trapping, 2 +Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields and prepared divine spellcasting guided by Cha, drawn from the ranger's list with certain modifications and probably is the best example of what I'd consider an exotic class: Following battle protocol (e.g. formal bows) provides benefits for the class, including the possible substitution of Cha-mod in attacks and later even damage-rolls. The defining feature of the tataued warrior, though, would be the ritual weapon, which can be activated as a swift action. Once powered, it acts as a magical weapon. That being said, the flexibility regarding enchantments and their scaling benefits is offset by a fatigue cool-down after use, similar to barbarian-rages. The scaling here is pretty conservative, just fyi, so even low-powered groups should be able to use this one. For high-powered groups; I'd suggest improving the enhancement-bonus granting-progression of the ritual weapon. The defining class feature beyond that, though, would be tataus, gained at 1st level and every even level thereafter, codified by level - and being awesome. While combat utility is here, the tataus provided often feature a drawback at higher levels, providing ample roleplaying potential and justification for superstitions. Furthermore, they allow, when wisely chosen, for actually relevant out of combat options. 6th level self-haste via battle-chants and flexible spell preparation/exchange-options complement an interesting class I really enjoyed, particularly thanks to the significant array of choices this offers!


Thanes receive d10, 2+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and the great club - and that's pretty much in on that front. Defined by size and brawn, the thane is basically the bully of the battlefield, increasing accuracy and damage output against targets smaller than him. It should then come as no surprise that the class features size-increase (a brief table of weapon damage progression for larger sizes would have been appreciated here) and is particularly adept at using big weaponry. The class also receives a talent selection, but still constitutes my least favorite base class herein so far - reason being that its limited proficiencies, skills and its size can be a severe hindrance: There are dungeons too cramped for large creatures and the added space occupied cannot offset a second character. Furthermore, the lack of defensive options of the class makes it play like a bully: A nasty punch, but can't take one himself. The thane is basically, in spite of size and potency, a pretty bad glass cannon and the magus provides the more interesting playing experience in that field.


The Undying has d8, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all armors and simple/martial weapons. The undying receives scaling bonuses versus fear and pain effects, but pay for this conditioning with the requirement to obey orders. Here's the deal of the class: You want to die. The first time you die each level, you're resurrected as per true resurrection (CL information would be appreciated for magic-suppression-interaction), +1/day at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter.However, undying already die at 0 HP - but the cool thing here is that, when they resurrect, they unleash so-called phoenix arts, the first of which is gained at 4th level, +1 every 4 levels thereafter: From bursts of light to devastating flame-novas and AOE-heals, these are pretty much awesome. Only one burst can be applied, +1 at 10th level and the class receives further abilities themed around the extremely evocative concept. Okay, if you've read my review of Rite Publishing's "Secrets of the Divine: Madness, Death, Justice, Healing," you'll know that I really like the idea of a campaign focused on returning characters. If you're like me, this class elicited a "Hell no!"-response nevertheless - when it shouldn't. You see, while powerful on the defensive side and while the deaths seem incredibly strong, the class is in a bit of a dilemma: In order to work at peak efficiency, the undying has to die - which makes it more vulnerable. The bursts are very powerful, but they need to be just that...and the increased vulnerability of the class further helps here. It's surprising, but in playtest, this one turned out to be very much killable and balanced, particularly due to scaling issues against mind-control. Yes, you have your nigh-unstoppable undying...but you may want to be careful with that enchanter over there...oh, and actually being mind-controlled and then slain by your allies is a valid strategy here that should result in no bad blood. This class plays completely differently from any class I've seen so far. Ambitious and oozing flavor, these guys are theme-wise by far my favorites in this book and may be worth getting the book all on their own!


Okay, you may very much call me out on this one, but I'm not sold we actually needed the Wrath class, a hybrid of rogue and inquisitor. Paying for rogue abilities with the inqui's spells, their eponymous wrath can be pictured as an always-on judgment with singular targets. That being said, this 3/4 BAB-progression class does have something some other martials herein lack: Non-combat utility galore. Oh, and the rogue talents the class can exclusively access are superb - there is, e.g., one that allows the wrath to suppress divine energy (channeling, spells...) and another that allows you to fluidly poison weapons after crits. Or what about the genius ability I'll scavenge for inquis, which allows the wrath a massive (+20) bonus to notice invisible foes? (Yes, that sneaky invisible guy will SWEAT in his corners and try hard not to move...) I was pretty much surprised by this one in that I actually liked some design-decisions here and enough unique material to set it apart versus the parent-classes - so kudos there!


This book also contains PrCs galore, all but one (the Storm Envoy) featuring full BAB-progression over their respective 10 levels. Seeing how this review already passed its fifth page as I write this, I shall be brief. The aforementioned Storm Envoy would be a legendary courier you employ when you need things delivered to hostile places like war zones or the abyss. Storm Envoys receive increasing speed as well as agility-related options (e.g. Acrobatics at full speed), self-haste and the option to utilize their vast speed to duplicate spells, from teleport to mirror image by tapping into the resource-management of the PRC. All in all, a cool one.


Speaking of which: The Mystic Seeker would be a representation of the famous, eerily accurate blind fighter trope, managing to get blindsense/sight-progression down rather well - though the interesting component would not be the limited true strikes they can unleash, but rather the high-level option to completely re-do one of their turns, explained by their preternatural insight. Interesting!


The Lone Wolf would be just that - a powerful representation of the solitary skirmisher, the savage soldier that loses animal companions and t5he like, but finds so much more potency in their solitude, including immunity to fear, but at the expense of their cynicism thwarting any morale bonuses. The PrC is iconic and cool.


The Frog Knight would be an agile knight - D'uh - and can jump really well; additionally, he's pretty great at amphibian warfare tactics and provides nice synergy with Dragon Tiger Ox's more differentiated (and tactical!) unarmed attack rules. Sure, this is a bit of an odd PrC, but still a cool and valid option.


Commandos are basically Rambo-the-PRC, with great stealth and several specializations that include limited spells, barbarian rages and the like as well as a focus on ambushes -and here, the commando is downright OP: Gaining a limited number of special, additional solo surprise rounds per day - basically, before rolling initiative's done, these guys can get a free surprise round out of the deal. In the hands of an experienced player, these guys can be true nightmares - while I like the flexibility and design of the chassis, I'm not too big a fan of the PrC's numbers.


Finally, there would be the Bogatyr of the Dying Light - sworn to hopeless causes, there only traditionally are 23 of these knights only unleash their full potential against foes stronger than they are - including, at higher levels, ignoring DR. The PrC also gets resolve and some neat offensive and defensive tricks, making these guys not only flavorful, but also pretty iconic and rewarding to play.


Beyond all these classes and PrCs, this massive book also sports 6 pages of feats - why else would I have explained the [Feral] and [War]-descriptors in the beginning of this review? So yeah, there are quite a lot of feats herein, including a follow-up-feat for Weapon Focus that extends its benefits to all of your proficient weapons, nonlethal damage causing demoralize-attempts and the obligatory class-enhancing feats. The book also sports traits o further emphasize the rival-trait and a feat to grant yourself temporary hit points 1/day. Now, as you know, I'm not a big fan of revising feats unless there is a specific reason - adding grapple to Weapon Focus' options would be one such case, while the revisions in particular of the critical-feats here make sense to me. That being said, this obviously is a matter of taste. The pdf then closes with a rather impressive amount of unique weapons, ranging from Qian Kun Ri Yue Daos to heavy rapiers and dire kukris.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting on a rules-level are surprisingly tight for a book of this size. On a formal level, though, there are quite a few glitches like its/it's, missing letters and the like. The PrCs are also inconsistent in their listing of iterative attack-bonuses or their omission. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with each class receiving a great full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.


The team of designers of Little Red Goblin Games (here Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Christos Gurd, Ian Sisson and Dayton Johnson) have surprised me with this book. You know why? because I've seen a lot of martial classes and, for the most part, specialist martial niche classes end up feeling to me like they could have been handled via archetypes in most cases. Not so here - each of the classes herein has a complex framework of abilities that justifies the classes standing on their own. The PrCs sport high concepts and make sense as classes not immediately available - they get the "Prestige"-component right, something many, including Paizo's, often fail at. There is a more important factor, though: This book follows the first commandment of design in all instances: "Thou shalt not be boring!" Achieving this is harder than it sounds when you're confronted with a jaded bastard like yours truly.


While not each and every component herein is perfect, there certainly are instances in this book I'd consider absolutely glorious: The Undying is narrative potential galore for the GM and a very uncommon experience for the player and it alone is book-seller-level awesome. The Guardian is really cool as well and I do enjoy the tataued warrior - much more so than I thought. While the Adventurer will never get near my games, I know it will find its niche out there. Add to that some rather cool PrCs and we have a book that lacks any objectively bland content - we could argue about some design decisions of commando and wrath, sure, but still - the significant majority of this huge book of crunch saw me smile and even inspired me in some cases...and ultimately, I'd rather have some awesomeness and some components that slightly over/undershoot their mark than a grey paste of blandness that's perfectly balanced.


The majority of content herein is well-crafted, if plagued by none-too-precise editing here and there and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars with a recommendation if the content even remotely interests you - you'll be hard-pressed to find a better bang for buck ratio and it's been a while since a single crunch-book has seen as many classes being allowed in my games ...so yeah...this is one of those cases, where components of a book actually excited me. As a reviewer, I may not be able to give this five stars for its formal and, sometimes, balancing flaws- but the components I love definitely justify slamming my seal of approval on this book. Hence, my final verdict will be 4 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Paths: Martial Characters
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Necropunk Advanced Player's Guide
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/18/2015 07:16:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive expansion book for LRGG's glorious, innovative Necropunk setting clocks in at 122 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page list of kickstarter-backers, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 117 pages of content - now this is a lot of material, so let's dive in, shall we?


This massive supplement's central theme would be war - and it does show - from the introduction onwards, we obviously dive right into the matter at hand - an explanation of how the diverse ethnicities of the Necropunk setting handle the concept of warfare. Now, where's war, there are vehicles and if you're like me, you love the concept of vehicles and have changed the overly demanding requirements of driving skill-checks in lieu of more friendly DCs - it should come as a relief, then, that Little Red Goblin Games also have identified this issue and make driving work easily - unless you want to execute some complex maneuvers. Something I never got in certain sci-fi setting is also addressed - a focus on faster, smaller spacecrafts: Swarms of small vehicles simply are more lethal than unwieldy huge crafts. The revised driving rules provided for the vehicles are quick, concise and fun - and should be considered great indeed. Moving on the Z Axis and the component of height is also addressed, though I'd suggest you check out "Companions of the Firmament" for more detailed and diverse aerial combat solutions - the combination will work in Necropunk's space just as well as in a fantasy context.


Vehicle combat and highjacking other vehicles are also covered in the detail one would want - attacking engines, bridges, etc. - all part of the deal, with sizes making an impact. The section also covers vehicle materials and diverse vehicles maneuvers and vehicle conditions before introducing the unique and very odd vehicle designs - the Ewgee Bladderwort, for example, captures the technology/organic cross-section that defines necropunk aesthetic: These also provide artworks for quite a few of them, including lotus-shaped ships or ones that look like d12s with odd, three-fingered fleshy-arms extending from them - an aesthetic somewhere between Lexx: The Dark Zone and never seen before - cool!


We also get a new base-class with the Pilot. Pilots receive 5 PPI, d8, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort-and ref-saves and a 3/4 social bonus progression. Pilots may tap into the T'jek to make their own fortunae and enhance attacks, craft-checks, saves, etc. and receive bonded vessels. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, a pilot may select a maneuver, which include options to wilder in fighter's toolkits, granting ships temporary evasion via barrel rolls or even temporarily double the acceleration. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the pilot may tune up his vessel, optimizing ramming capabilities, armor, maneuverability, etc. and this theme is also reflected in the options that are available as a capstone, allowing you to truly make your bonded vessel the stuff of legends.


Okay, so the next chapter is about the Partisan and teh Zeitgeist - no, not related to me or the Zeitgeist movement, but rather the intangible conglomerate of a people's consciousness. Partisans can be considered the leaders and champions of an age, someone that taps into the flow of possibility. They receive d8,PPI 7, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, full Social-progression, good will-saves. As idealists and champions of people and ideology, they choose a cause and/or faction and treats these somewhat akin to deities in other settings - with titles, social tricks to quickly get bearings of rooms and the like as well as smites, you'll note something - the partisan, unabashedly, is a more charismatic paladin, a champion of a cause without the component of magic - and I really like this class!


In the wonderful tradition of Necropunk, we also are introduced to new languages, variations thereof, and yes, dead languages - I did enjoy the inclusion of Norse as a dialect of Old English (being fluent in both, yes, they are this similar - though, as the book asserts, there are significant differences...) and after this glorious little chapter, we get a significant array of new items: From biolocks to anti-radiation medication to organic computers to fast-growing, acidic vines, the items herein are INSPIRED and even if you do not use Necropunk, with some reskinning, you can use quite a few of these in different settings as well. Ball turrets with upgradeable blindsense up to dragonflys, infrasonic soundwave detonations - there is a lot of nastiness to be found herein.


Particularly interesting for story purposes would also be the rules for assassination-costs and yes, deadly melee weapons are part of the deal as well and includes the new shovel weapon group as well as quite a few nice full-color illustrations of the weaponry. Where there are offensive options, there also are defensive ones - hazmat suits, skirmisher pattern bone skins...or what about a gravity sink that accompanies the Ramses Casing? Do you have a ghoul? well, you're in luck, for now, you can have your very own Igor as a faithful assistant! Now, as before, I am only touching on the very basics here - why - because there are A LOT of modifications, grouped by technology tier, to add to armors etc. - many, many micro-templates that exponentially diversify the options available for the discerning customer - and yes, this does include penalties and flaws of certain designs. Now while I do adore this system, I noticed some minor formatting issues regarding bolding here and the penalties, for example, don't always line up - blindness/deafness is less grievous than being paralyzed, for example, though both flaws have the same value. Some minor tweaking would have helped here.


Now since the topic is war, one would be remiss to forget to mention the feared atomic priesthood - much like the necromancer's guild, this organization has a dread monopoly, the monopoly on A-packs, atomic bombs. And yes, concise rules for these weapons of mass destruction, including degrees of sickness for radiation poisoning and the creation of e.g. power plants etc. have been covered - we for example receive the information on how much a given world spends on energy a year - so yes, if you want to go for a resource-scarcity effects. The atomic brotherhood's priests, btw., also are featured as an archetype of medics, which come with its own code of conduct - said priests can also generate anti-radiation supplies as well as regenerate ability drain or damage faster. Pilots may elect to become an admiral, particularly adept at teamwork. Chevra fighters are those that bury the dead - masters of fighting with shovels, they are deadly cyber-gravediggers, the stewards of the dead, including high-level options to entomb foes or even burrow through the earth in rather quick ways. H'shen welshen pilots can be considered the welshen equivalent of the admiral, while the R'zo pilots can be considered the more combat-inclined pilots.


We also receive an array of prestige classes - and were I to analyze them step by step, this review would be bloated even further. And yes, some indeed are PRESTIGE classes. Advisors, for example, require an Int of 22+. Yeah. Ouch. As masters of deduction and reading people, they have a mechanism of anxiety points that can be used to duplicate spell-like effects or achieve unique things, with each trick being assigned to a skill. Anxiety points can be countered by indulgences that range from sleep to vices and self-mutilation. The PrC can be considered a truly interesting social scion, a nice representation of the smart character that has an incredible, unfiltered perception and thus suffers the strain from it, with ample roleplaiyng potential hardcoded into the very way the crunch works. Black Cards are similarly interesting - belonging to a secret cabal of immensely powerful and rich brokers, these people are ridiculously rich - their black cards allow them to purchase just about anything their hearts desire. So yeah, if you wnat to play the CEO with the exclsuive space station/terraformed asteroid, the guy who rubs elbows with the cadre of secret movers and shakers, then this is the PrC for you -if you can afford the 1-million-buy-in...


Darrig are specialized assassins that utilize fear as the tool of their power - with PPI-powered fear-pheromones and options to instill unrest or tamper with the minds and memories of others, the darrig are interesting. with their subtle hypnotic suggestions, though annoyingly, spells, when referenced, are not italicized. Living Lions are immune against fear, may exert their will to heal themselves - and that's about it. Some armor training, some bonus feats - pretty boring when compared to most necropunk options. The Necronaut, once again, is a return to form - a character that hears the whispers of death, these guys can feign death and see the future when nearing death. Beyond that séances and ethereal out of body experiences provide for a cool PrC - as a cool bonus, the class also provides help for vanilla PFRPG-conversion, with a capstone "reduce-to-0-hp"-touch making for a fitting endgame. Snipers...well, are snipers. Apart from a bolding glitch, exactly what you'd expect from such a class - I'd btw. recommend this class as a means to make crossbow snipers relevant in vanilla PFRPG. The Swordslinger PrC chooses slashing weapon and greatly increases BAB and damage-output, while also gaining talents etc. - these include one-handing two-handed weapons, more AoOs, etc. - solid. Thoughtguards would be diplomat/psychic-combo-classes with enchantment SPs and the like - okay, but nothing to write home about.


Now where there are vehicles and war, there better be mass combat - and indeed, that's what we get - with technology-factors, crafts etc. as well as squad rules, this system allows for some quick calculations that help you determine the winner of a combat. In contrast to such off-screen combat resolutions, direct squad combat provides a slightly more hands-on option to resolve this. Still, I would have loved mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign fully converted to Necropunk - with phase combat and all.


We also, of course, get a significant array of new feats and also new uses for skills to repair vehicles etc., also as service, making codes, etc.


The pdf ends with an awesome short primer of handling Graveworlds, including some pregenerated ones and an iconic image of one of the threats found thereon...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor glitches, from formatting to wording, which could have been slightly tighter. Still, for a book of this length, the formal criteria are pretty impressive. Layout adheres to Little Red Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard with awesome original artwork and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Caleb Alysworth - gentlemen, you have done a good job! The Necropunk Advanced Player's Guide is a massive crunch-book that adds a vast array of options to the Necropunk world - the atomic priesthood, the vehicles - there are a lot of awesome options herein and more often than not, the options indeed are FUN.


They add a massive dimension to the game and expand the setting in meaningful ways. Indeed, this is a huge grab-bag and some options herein would work rather well in mainstream PFRPG - indeed, I'll be converting quite a few bits and pieces herein. Now while I love the pilot-class, the fluff of the partisan and the vehicles, there are also some components I wasn't that impressed by - some of the archetypes and PrCs obviously are less inspired than others and quite frankly, overall, I expected perhaps too much. I would have e.g. very much loved further options for phase combat trickery with vehicles and similar far-out options.


Now don't get me wrong - there are great pieces of crunch herein, but at the same time, when compared to the Ewgee and Welshen-books, while the crunch herein may be better on average, there just isn't that much fluff, and that was what blew me away in those faction-books. It took me forever to nail down this component, but while the crunch is more refined, I did also feel like it was less ambitious and does not do too much with the unique mechanics provided by necropunk - where are the unique tricks with Zero-G-combat and phase combat? Vehicles that enhance social combat (propaganda cruisers)? More unique tricks regarding radiation and the iconic organization in charge of atomic blasts? Yes, the advisor PrC etc. does sport some awesome ideas, and yes, some of the content herein had me cackle with glee...but still.


Perhaps I love Necropunk too much. You probably know by now how much I adore this setting, its worldbuilding and utterly unique premises. I want fiction and many, many more books - but to me, Necropunk never was about even more archetypes, PrCs and options, it is about the world, the unique concepts - and yes, they are expanded, but the feeling remains that I would have loved to see more of this superb universe. After careful deliberation, I determined that this is my own problem - I can't penalize a crunch-book for not sporting enough fluff. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars (the half star due to the aforementioned glitches and some a bit filler-ish components), rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Personally, I'd still prefer the two faction-sourcebooks, more flawed though they may be, over this one. Still - a must-buy for fans of necropunk.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Necropunk Advanced Player's Guide
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Gonzo
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2015 03:44:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This supplement clocks in at a massive 65 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages blank, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Wait, one note before that - this pdf comes with a second version that provides a 2-page layout, but for the purpose of page-count, I opted for the one-page version. Got that? All right!


So this book kicks off with a definition of what "gonzo" is - in short, it is an experiment in testing out the malleability of pathfinder, of providing weird ideas, in being somewhat bonkers. It also aims to retain the functionality of the system and maintaining enjoyment for everyone - hence also the first chapter, which defines a core aesthetic for the campaign and provides some rather sound advice for DMs - not only when using this book. Fun fact - the very first example of what this book is about is actually something I ran - a massive 80s-metal-inspired dungeon crawl with Blue Öyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" in the background - theme and music conspire to make the game more immersive. Other sound advice herein pertains the "anything 20/1"-concept, which translates to awesome successes...and failures at tasks - and why not? I've been using exactly this in quite a few of my games for great effect. Gestalting is also touched upon (no WuXia sans monk-gestalt, righto?), as is the importance of terrain. The one thing I'd disagree on would be the "few and easy names" - then again, I have a private board for my group, including an ever-growing compendium of names, places and factoids.


The first new base-class herein would be the Craven - these guys get full BAB-progression, d10, 2+Int-modifier, good fort-saves and all proficiencies - a martial class in the traditional sense. The class, however, also is an expert-appraiser and suffers from its greed - the craven has a hard time turning down bribes and consuming valuable objects. Optional physical change, which include money-signs in the eyes and the like can also be added for an extra-level of weird. Mechanically, the craven can sacrifice up to his class level in gold to add a similar amount to the weapon damage roll of a single attack. At later levels, each such attack also spawns a wooden coin (a so-called discount token), which can be used as a substitute gold piece to power craven abilities.


Beyond that, he may consume gold by flinging it as deadly weapons at adversaries (scaling in level, btw.), eat it to heal himself (thankfully with a scaling, daily cap) and of course, receives quite a bunch of fitting enhancements regarding the acquisition of money - from the illegal to the legal venues. Higher level cravens can prevents death by paying hefty fees. The capstone nets him the midas touch and an array of talents allow for solid customization options that include using discount tokens gained. The class also sports platinum as a material for weapons etc. and certain class features interact with this precious material. Whether or not you like the craven very much depends on whether you as a DM wish to have very tight control over WBL - the craven can literally eat a party's funds and requires a cooperative group; conversely, in campaigns with an abundance of funds, the craven's commerce-enhancing abilities can prove to be too powerful; the balancing via gold just begs to be abused like crazy, with both healing and damage bonuses being ultimately less expensive than via similar one-use items. I get that, it's kind of the premise of this class, but it does render this class very experimental Other than that, his mechanics are rather solid and, when handled with care, this guy can work as a pretty interesting, cool addition to a given group.


Next up would be the 10-level PrC Living Bomb: d8, 2+Int, 3rd level arcane spells prereq, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 fort and will-save progression, 7/10th spellcasting progression, d8 HD. The Living Bomb gets a class feature that is indeed odd - they can combust spontaneously character-level times, dealing damage die in fire damage -equal to the HD used to power the explosion. A barbarian 1/wizard 5/living bomb 2 may for example use the class feature 8 times per day. Now each explosion is tracked separately and also adds the Int-modifier to damage- 1d12 barb 1/day, 1d6 wiz 5/day, 1d8 Living Bomb 2/day. Got that? Well, the more PrC-levels you have the more dice you add - at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter, the amount of damage dice available for each of the explosions is increased by +1. I like this ability and generally, its wording is very concise - though I still had to read the ability 3 times to properly get it - a terminology for the explosion die etc. would have helped here, but that's not my gripe with this one. The ability takes a standard action and isn't that powerful. However, it is a readied omni-evasion: "The living bomb is also reduced to dust as if by disintegrate. At the start of the living bomb’s next turn if he is alive he reforms and is staggered for 1 round." This allows you to avoid just about anything with it - dragon's breath, etc. And this would be too strong, wouldn't it also eat the readied action. Also, technically, the reference to disintegrate is wrong here - the living bomb only takes a few hit points (minimum, btw.) damage and does not take the massive damage assocaited with disintegrate. Technically, when you are disintegrated, you also are dead, which clearly does not apply to the Living Bomb, so while the ability is clear in its intent and mostly concise, it could have been slightly clearer still.


Now what's rather interesting is that the combustion leaves the living bomb staggered - and the energy build up is not strictly voluntarily. Indeed, these guys receive eruption points by using Empower Spell or by being subject to crits. Upon surpassing a threshold, they explode (painfully, I might add), unless they release the pressure before. Other than this, the living bomb is a specialist of making the most of Empower Spell - not only do the class specializations potentially get rid of the level-increase, they can also significantly increase the potency of the metamagic feat. Additionally, higher level living bombs may elect to deal cold damage with explosions, draw others closer with spontaneous implosions and add spontaneous combustion effects to creatures reduced to 0 HP (sans the whole disintegrate-thingy). Shaping the blast is also possible at the cost of power and mundane enhancements for disabling devices and creating alchemical explosives are also covered by the PrC.


The Living Bomb is very complex in its mechanics and if you haven't noticed by now - the AoE-potential of these guys is SICK. A properly made character with this PrC is DEADLY - not per se due to the explosion/implosion tricks (though the chain reaction can be the ultimate mook-sweeper), but rather due to the Empower Spell-increase in potency. Now granted, 3 levels of spellcasting is a hefty fee, but I still maintain that you should be very careful about allowing this guy - the PrC is not per se broken, but it CAN be broken and provide some very nasty war-mage AoE-sweepers. On the other hand, it allows for an actually unique character concept/build far beyond what most PrCs can accomplish. So yeah - impressive, but, like the titular explosives, living bombs need to be handled with care.


D8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 2+Int skills, good will-saves and simple weapon/light armor proficiency - the mime base class does not, at first, look too impressive. Mimes also loose progressively the ability to create sound - later, they do not produce any and can even extend their silence to objects touched. Perhaps that's my own thing, but I suddenly see creepy mime-serial-killers making an appearance in my campaign... This communication breakdown allows mimes to communicate surprisingly fast and well with their charades...a benefit that does not extend to other PCs. At 2nd level, the mime receives character level + cha-mod masquerade points, which constitute the resource of the class.


They also choose a masquerade, with an additional one being unlocked at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Each masquerade unlocks e.g. new class skills or proficiencies to be added, bonus feats and often, enabling tricks that help other characters - the rogue-inspired masquerade, for example, can increase the damage of other characters in a sneak attack-y manner. The interesting thing here is that the effects all deviate rather significantly from just copying the base class - which is the awesome part. Now where things get really odd is with neutral energy - mimes can channel the utterly absurd neutral energy - it provides temporary hit points and using it requires an odd gesture or the like as a swift action. If this gesture is repeated by an affected creature, the creature is healed for this amount. If not, the creature instead takes damage equal to the amount of temporary hit points left. This AoE-swift-action-control trickery can be significantly more interesting in play than on paper - especially if you're using a lot of 3pp classes that utilize swift actions. Now where I have an issue would be the peculiarities of the wording and scaling of the ability - regarding wording, temporary hit points usually are not "destroyed" and a couple of strange rules-semantics choices made the ability more opaque than it ought to be. Secondly, the amount of temporary hit points is equal to the Performance bonus of the mime - and we all know how easily skills can be blown through the roof. Why not adhere to a more linear scaling of e.g. twice the ranks +3 for the class skill bonus? Would prevent undue escalation...then again, seeing this book, undue escalation may exactly be the intent here, seeing how the capstone also uses the total perform bonus...


For added complexity, mimes may at later levels combine multiple of these masquerades at once.


Mimes also receive a significant array of talents to choose from for further customization options. Walls of force can also be created, alas without specifying the action required. Temporarily duplicating combat feats in action is also pretty awesome, especially seeing how later levels do not require the mime to meet the prereq...


The Mime was a surprise -IRL, I do not like them. Other people consider clowns creepy, I always considered mimes worse. They give me the heebie-jeebies. This class, though, can be one of the most hilarious enabler-classes you can imagine - from the charade to the mocking, enabling tricks, a mime is a fun addition to a given table, alas also one that could have used slightly better streamlining in some abilities and rules semantics.


At d10, 4+Int, full BAB-progression and good ref-saves as well as uncommon weapon proficiencies, the next base class, the Punk, is in one word, awesome. Indeed, mechanically, the class may be one of the best choices for gestalting and certain high-flair concepts - why? Because these guys are melee-centric, yes - but their focus is very much on the vertical: They are masters at moving out of range after attacking, can expertly launch themselves into the air and deliver devastating attacks from above. They also learn significant parcours-tricks and can combine them with their fighting style and increasing base speed into a surprisingly fun class - oh yes, tagging, bonuses versus lawful outsiders etc. are all part of the deal, but even if you loathe the fluff, you actually get one awesome, mobile melee class here that can pull off unique stunts - like air-juggling foes, leaving impact craters when crashing down, etc. Even if you strip away the delightful fluff, this class pretty much makes for an awesome mobile fighter addition, including remaining in the air for short bursts - in game, this made Devil May Cry-style antics rather easy and played exceedingly well. This class is awesome and my only gripes would be some minor rules language hiccups - when an ability that only allows for attacks from above, for example, specifies " The punk may only make an attack delivered after


falling or jumping from a higher surface.", that may easily be misconstrued as a terrible restriction, when it pertains only "such an" attack, a "gravity gain" attack. Conversely, while it is clear that the ability means to say that the punk can execute an attack after falling on a foe, provided he has the action to do so, the pdf does not explicitly state this, rendering action economy slightly more opaque than it out to be. Conversely, the ability to launch 5 foot into the air on a successful attack should provide the caveat that this is not a 5-foot-step and that it does not provoke AoOs - the interaction here did cause some initial confusion at my table. Still, seriously, try this one - it can be exceedingly fun to play and provide "See what I did there"-moments. Two thumbs up, my favorite class from LRGG so far!


The penultimate base-class herein has the most badass illustration I've seen in ages (full color, more than one page viking/black-metal dude with a guitar that deserves being called a weapon...) and receives d10, 2+int, full BAB-progression, good will-saves and may utilize instruments, a bunch of which are provided, as weapons. A rockstar's message increases in potency from cosmetic to significant and they may use perform in lieu of a skill, depending on their genre, with possibilities being pretty much endless. Someone has clearly been playing Brutal legend, for, as a standard action, rock stars may deal sonic damage to everything around them - via two abilities, rock-out and solo. Both look pretty much identical at first, but the combination possibilities with other class abilities differ - planning the two becomes important later in the class when the sequence of abilities used in a combat changes the benefits granted.


They may also substitute their perform check for AC as an immediate action while wielding an instrument - generally not a fan of this since it leads to minmaxing the skill and competing throws - personally, after some quick math, I'll houserule that as a fixed value of 15 +Perform ranks + 3 + cha-mod for faster combat and less enticement to min-max the skill. The class also receives talents that allow the rockstar to essentially become larger than life and yes, the class also features a kind of second form with the stage persona and the capstone (how could it be any other song? "The Show Must Go On")allows the rockstar to pretty much ignore all impediments but total annihilation to continue playing - just because he's lost both arms does not mean he can't play the guitar anymore. Kudos to anyone who got that Metalocalypse-reference and groaned. What can I say - I've played brütal legend thrice, am a goth and metalhead...how can I not like this class? The rockstar is solid, versatile and cool - I just wished he had a bit more exclusive talents, but I guess we can't have it all.


The final class herein would be the Toon, aka "Who framed Roger Rabbit?" - the class. Toons get d10, 2+int skills, full BAB-progression, good will-saves and AC/CMB-bonuses that scale up to +5. Proificency-wise, they are proficient with all simple and improvised weapons, but with no armors. The toon may prestidigitate at will...and should. Why? Because the resource that powers his antics is laughter - by spending this resource, he can do all the Warner Brothers tricks you can fathom and do the impossible - however, pointing this out actually requires the toon to spend more laughter. The toon also becomes more and more like a caricature and can take ridiculous high falls. Also cool would be the gutterspace - whether its deep pockets or something similar, a toon can bring forth the oddest of items - with a chance of instead getting something rather odd. Other than that, an array of combat feats etc. make sure he can dish out nasty damage. Solid one, though the resilience factor of toons could have used more representation - as written, the class is pretty squishy.


The supplemental feats for the classes contain the obligatory +x limited resource class ability-array as well as e.g. more control for rock outs, options to stun devils in musical contests or reduce the speed of foes instead of dealing damage via rock out or solo. Pretty solid.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. Considering the imaginative, unconventional mechanics herein, the rules-language is also much more concise than what I've seen in "easier" mechanics. Layout adheres to, as mentioned, a 1 or 2-page standard and the pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience. The artworks are mostly in full color, original and awesome.


Scott Gladstein, Thomas Lee Hornyak Jr, Christos Gurd, Dayton Johnson, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby - gentlemen, the acclaim Gonzo has received is pretty much well deserved. This is, indeed, at least in my book, the most refined Little Red Goblin Game-pdf I've reviewed. The rules-language with its eclectic concepts and innovative twists on the rules does not lazily recombine existing pieces, instead opting for something new with each and every class - and I love it for that.


At the same time, though, some of the classes herein can turn pretty problematic - the Craven in the context of WBL-deviations and the Living Bomb in particular can work superbly for some games, while being utterly broken in others, so careful consideration is in order here. Now at least partially, that's a system-inherent issue, granted, but it does remain one.


Now the surprise of this book would be the Punk-class - I expected to hate it and instead love it to death, with a fitting reskin, this becomes in a fixture in my games and in the context of WuXia et. al, this will work just as well and might constitute a great alternative to monk-gestalting. Indeed, I'd seriously consider this class one of the best gestalt-options I've seen in a while. So yeah, people, I love this!


Now granted, I am biased towards the Rockstar and adore the concept, but kept on wishing its interaction and sequential gameplay reached the level of complexity supported by Interjection Games-composition magic - I will probably make a crossover class at one point. Nothing wrong here, mind you, just me preferring things a bit less straightforward...and the class essentially already has the sequential nature built in, so that shouldn't be too much of an issue.


So all's fine and dandy? No, there are, as mentioned above, several minor issues in the rules-semantics that weigh heavily when used with the more complex of options herein - but then again, I honestly prefer innovation over perfection.


And there is the layout. The font used, a typewriter-style old-school font, makes reading this book harder than it ought to be...and it cheats. The font has no italicization/bolding and while class abilities are red and blocky and easy to distinguish, the lack of italicization for spells etc. has been excruciatingly annoying for me. It makes reading so much slower and required more concentration to read the class abilities - there is a reason for the formatting convention and this flaunts them. Especially when providing complex concepts like this book does, the nonstandard layout and formatting can make understanding some abilities harder than it ought to be.


So yeah, there you have it - the thing is disliked most was the font. The rules-issues, where present, still leave the RAI pretty much obvious. Now that being said, if you want an easy, quick conventional book, then this is not for you - this book is one of the most experimental books I've seen for PFRPG and I applaud its guts!


Do I recommend this? Heck yeah! Even if you just are looking for abilities and ideas to scavenge, this provides both in ample spades. While not every class is for every game, just about all of them could be reskinned to some extent and introduced to most settings and a distinct joy is evident on the pages - plus, I really enjoy the fact that none of the classes took the easy way out. Not one class herein could be mistaken for another class or archetype - they are resoundingly distinct.


No, this is not perfect or for everyone, but it is an exceedingly fun, innovative book - and while its font, glitches and slight balance-concerns here and there prevent me from rating this the full five stars. In fact, were I to rate pdfs only on their formal properties and not also for the benefits of their imagination, this would probably fare less well - Gonzo is pretty much a a diamond that still needs to be polished. I'll still settle for a final verdict of 4 stars - while I firmly believe that the concepts herein deserve my seal of approval, the execution of the complex mechanics sports a tad bit too many hiccups for that and, depending on your personal preferences, you may consider the blemishes that are there to be more serious than I did. When adapting these classes for your game, you will probably need to do some minor tweaking here and there - at least I'd suggest doing so.


Still, in the end, I'll take courage and innovation over retreading anytime and I encourage you to reward the designers for the unmitigated joy that oozes from these pages, for the high-concept ideas, by checking this out...


Now excuse me, I have a certain Devil May Cry-style class to reskin for the upcoming Hell's Rebels AP...


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gonzo
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Good Samaritans #1
by Lucus P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2015 20:45:35

Solid artwork, interesting storyline. Was going to give 4 stars, but the pricepoint pushed me to 5 stars. I'll be curious to see how it all develops!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Good Samaritans #1
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Tome of Twisted Things
by Ilija H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2015 13:41:31

Disclaimer: moments of 3.x D&D reminiscence in this one.


I got this one for the avenger.
I liked the concept of non-casting, non-aligned paladin. Also it reminded me of FR vengeance knight (a prestige class I never got to play). It delivered very much although I would have liked more if it had kept some of the self curing of conditions through his reparations. Allowing for bane property in his Instrument of Vendetta could be considered a bit on the OP side (the similar abilities never allow for bane because it the best +1 property if you can choose for what it is a couple times per day).
The weapon proficiencies are still bungled as far as I know (paragraph wasn't properly copy-pasted) and he is still missing class skills. Although author(s) have claimed that since it's a paladin variant it should have his class skills, but I believe that Intimidate should replace Diplomacy, Spellcraft should be nixed (no spells, after all), and maybe re-arrange Knowledge skills.
All that said, I very much love this class, and even if you don't need something vengence-themed, it is far easier to rework into a holy warrior than a paladin ('cause of no aligment focus).


The rest of the book is a very nice crunch toolbox for evil characters (much better than say 3.5 Exemplars of Evil, IMO), and even for relative short page count has descriptive moments and ideas that remind of Book of Vile Darkness (a great praise from me).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Twisted Things
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ODYSSEY A Greek Source Book
by Yannick G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2015 11:50:06

Great book overall, with good ideas to get started on a Greek Campaign, just did wish the deity session was a bit bigger but beside that, enjoyed the book greatly.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ODYSSEY A Greek Source Book
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Necropunk Welshen Source Book
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/06/2015 05:03:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This sourcebook detailing the second of the two mayor factions/societies in Necropunk clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 37.5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


We kick off with a more than aptly-written introductory fluff that makes me once again crave a necropunk AP and a novel before diving straight into the new crunch, namely, Welshen-specific archetypes, first of which would be the H'devvel - a kind of living philosopher/artist who receives points with which to inspire allies - for 24 hours. Other than that, the ability utilizes interesting bonus-type juggling and can be considered an interesting variant on the bardic concept (supplemented by the social combat system), thus replacing the base wild-card class's genius ability. Unlike most welshen, h'devvel are not geared towards efficiency sans compromise, instead receiving BAB and social atk-progression of the diplomat base class. Additionally, charisma and intelligence govern their wild card abilities. Interesting archetype!


Welshen Masques are a subset of diplomats that receive a wild-card's social bonus and BAB-progression -pretty interesting: They are trained towards hyper-rationality, allowing them to overcome their own bias (using int instead of cha for social maneuvers) and may utilize this auto-conditioning to make them hard to target with psi or fear. Rek'el engineers (not diplomats, as the pdf states) are masters of scavenging and may constantly modify their magnum opus - not only daily, but even multiple times per day at higher levels.


The School of the Crying Birds (also known as Le'Sara Qu'em) use Dex instead of Str to calculate damage and can execute flurries with bone knives - and if you recall how well these can be enhanced, you'll realize how lethal this makes them. Additionally, they utilize Perform (dance) in lieu of Acrobatics to govern path abilities. Executing attacks with both hands at the end of a charge, increased PPI-allocation capacities and receiving scaling AC bonuses versus targets they hit render this Qu'em school distinct and interesting. The Qu'em school of the Golden Lion may utilize Qu'em while wearing light or medium armor (later even in heavy armor!) and have to select to which type of weapon they devoted their powers. Increased offense capacity otherwise cancels out most defensive tricks a regular Qu'em has - and yes, the charges of these guys HURT...a LOT. The School of the Sil'Van receives a diplomat's social bonus progression and is ODD - why? Because the archetype receives increased defense-capacity, but is actually conditioned to be a pacific and only fight in self-defense. A sidebar explains the linguistic meaning of the name and another tackles the concept of non-violence - a conceptually glorious archetype, though I wished it ahd some increased capacity to deal non-lethal damage.


The H'teach diplomats are more skilled than regular diplomats, receiving +2 skill points per level and gaining slightly increased tech levels or a craft bonus feat for more advanced welshen. Beyond tehse, we receive an alternate class, the H'vuul.


H'vuul have full BAB-progression, good fort and ref-saves, 1/2 social bonus progressions, 5 PPI. EDIT: This archetype/alternate class does not mention HD or skills gained per level - which I assumed was a glitch. The author insisted and made the valid point that this was intentional since this is an archetype and thus uses the base class's HD - a valid point for sure. If, however, an archetype has a whole class table, a new skill-list etc., I think one can understand the potential for confusion. I humbly suggest to include these two pieces of information in similar presentations, if only to avoid confusion and book-flipping.


Now on the cool side, these guys can act in phase 2 while unobserved and later even extend this to phase 3 or phase 2 while being observed - this renders them pretty awesome in my book and yes, I can picture them doing their iconic, fast stealth takedowns. The class also is a specialist of guerrilla warfare, receives a cool bound weapon and the equivalent of hide in plain sight. They are also int- rather than wis-based. Apart from the skill/HD-guffaw, a flavorful alternate class.


Next up would be the new PrCs, first of which is the 10-level Hn'Ist Nomad - these guys get 1/2 BAB-progression, d8, 1/2 will-save progression and 6+Int skills per level. These guys may utilize special breathing techniques and throat chanting to render himself immune to the magpie's rube goldberg machine ability and all effects that require the expenditure of t'jek points - but thankfully, this defense, while quickly activated, also can only be maintained a limited time per day. This chanting can further penalize other classes, wrecking concentration, qu'em styles and even reducing the phase order of adversaries. The philosophy of Hn'ist also provides benefits towards aid another, as befitting a philosophy that treats the whole universe as one organism. No, I have not covered all tricks this unique PrC has. In a rather nice idea, weapons classified as eleven may btw. be used by welshen.


H'Te'shen, aka Master Qu'em are a 5-level PrC that represents essnetially the wise martial arts masters of the Qu'em and, once again, the nomenclature of this cool reace is neatly explained.


Of course, we also receive new welshen ethnicities, i.e. races - a total of 5 clans are depicted: Clan X'el receives +2 Wis and Con, -2 Int, counts as prime bloodline and gets +2 to saves versus poison. Clan Mac'bel receives +2 Con adn Wis, -2 Cha, Knowledge (history) & /faction: welshen) as class skills and +2 racial bonuses to these checks. They also 1/day may reroll one roll. Clan fe'shex receive +2 Str and Con, -2 Cha (this focus on melee being explained via being slightly degenerate and less important in Necropunk than other settings, so, for once, no complaints about a focus on physicality), a further -2 position category penalty, ignores welshen weapon taboos and receives Knowledge (warfare) as a class skill. Clan Dem'rel is shunned due to a strange fever (fully presented) that has haunted the clan - they receive +2 Dex and int, -2 Con. They may be immune against the fever, but their bodies constantly wage war against the dormant affliction, imposing a penalty of -4 on saves versus diseases and poisons. They receive +2 to Heal and begin play with a containment suit - for everyone within 30 feet of a Dem'rel runs risk of infection and even a save can only temporarily render immune to the highly volatile disease. I love this idea - the duality of healing and contagion, the thematic of (incurable) diseases and the accompanying stagmatization- you don't have to be a philosopher to realize the vast potential for great storytelling. And yes, while there +are* cures, they are expensive and rare... Clan Sil'Van is slightly too focused on mental attributes, with +2 Wis and Cha, -2 Str, but seeing they are the pacifist clan hinted at before among the qu'em schools, receive Survival and Knowledge (religion) as class skills and improved social maneuver teaching (plus optionally using wis instead of int for such teaching purposes) - so once, again - due to Necropunk's more diverse take and different class make-up, no complaints regarding this dual fixation on mental attributes.


So what comes next? the personal highlight of this book, at least for me - a concise and captivating insight into welshen culture and philosophy - from the take on cultural topics like gender construction to captivating, flavorful explanations of common wordings to songs, the unique concepts of honor, the paradox of moral correctness vs. the extreme emphasis on efficiency, honor duels, taboos - this whole section is so captivating, so full of imaginative potential, it's downright brilliant. I honestly and sincerely wished more racial write-ups or ecologies would attain this level and depth of inspiring concepts. While I was reading this section, I was, for a couple of pages, more immersed in Necropunk than I've been in many comparable settings ever.


Unless I've miss-counted, a total of 19 feats are provided (though formatting botched on the first page, changing the presentation of the feats slightly from bolded to non-bolded - but that's cosmetic) - on the plus-side, the feats come with cool flavor text - on the downside, "home is where the kife is" renders an otherwise cool sentence somewhat less immersive. Exclusive feats to supplement qu'em style, a degree of control over the Dem'rel's dread disease and yes, new tricks for the core book's qu'em tricks - all in here.


We also receive a new style, the Fau Quan - this style focuses on hampering foes with crits, breaking bones or intimidate foes upon defeating adversaries. Personally, I think the bone-breaking should have a scaling save-DC instead of a fixed one. Also pretty interesting -Knife-bending - a kind of style for weapons, it makes light weapons a better option that utilizes the off-hand for defense and retaliation.


A total of 3 campaign traits, from clan lord to youngblood, these are interesting. Further adding to the unique components of the culture, there are several sojourns - pilgrimages, if you will, with fixed durations and requirements that not only provide vast narrative potential - they could also easily be used as story-feats, with completion requirements and bonuses - a total of 6 such sojourns are provided and they left me excited for more. A total of 5 new welshen weapons, 4 new necrotechs and two welshen war tokens as well as rules for the creation of said tokens and new uses for the Appraise skill round out this pdf.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay - I noticed a number of glitches - from omissions of rules-relevant information to typos here and there, alas, this would constitute the pdf's weak point. Layout adheres to Little Red Goblin Games' 2-column standard in color that is pretty printer-friendly. the original b/w-artworks are glorious and capture well the flair of Necropunk. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


Scott Gladstein, Jeremiah Zerby and Dayton Johnson deliver one glorious supplement here - I adore Necropunk and the options herein have so much SOUL. The feel like lovingly crafted vistas of a true labor of love - the writing is diverse and intelligent, the new tricks added can be considered smart, the modifications interesting. The welshen culture is utterly fascinating and mops the floor with about 98% of racial supplements I've read - they feel concise, alive, believable. This pdf's writing, in the best instances, is absolutely superb. On the other hand, it does also feels like it was rushed at one point - the glitches in editing and formatting, minor, slight hiccups here and there ripped me out of the experience once in a while. Let's not mince words: I wished this book had received a bit more polishing. Non-scaling DCs, glitches etc. - there is a lot that simply isn't that awesome regarding the sheer mechanical execution. That being said, anyone owning the Necropunk setting or even remotely interested in how to craft a unique culture (which could be reappropriated for other races and settings) should definitely get this sourcebook - there are not that many books that make me wish I had a massive 200+ pages book on a culture, not that many that make me crave novels and more material to this extent.


This book left me torn - on the one hand, I usually tend to be pretty strict regarding nasty glitches that influence rules...on the other hand, every fiber of my being demands that I praise this book in the highest of tones for its superb culture and intelligent fluff. I want rate this 5 stars + seal of approval...and for me, as a private person, that is what this book is to me. However, as a reviewer, I can't do that - I have to acknowledge the issues this pdf has. If you require another analogy - writing rpg-supplements is both a craft and an art. The craftsmanship can be learned, but true artistry...not so much. Craftsmanship, in its apex, can be art of its own and the same holds true for masterful art. This pdf represents superb artistry in worldcrafting, but is somewhat hampered by the flawed craftsmanship.


Hence, my final verdict will be one of the rare cases where I rate a product at 4 stars, but still award my seal of approval. We need more books with this level of detail, more books that actually manage to bring a culture to life.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Necropunk Welshen Source Book
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Necropunk Bestiary
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/11/2015 03:36:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This bestiary for Little Red Goblin Games' SUPERB, intelligent dark-scifi-setting necropunk clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 40.5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


This pdf kicks off with the new alien type and all required information to create more aliens - and these creatures are more colorful than you'd imagine - weird, yes, but also pretty organic. Resonating the themes of Necropunk, the aliens provided herein often hearken back towards strange insectoid beings or creatures that look like they may have spawned in an alternate evolution, so kudos. Attack Bug Swarms, gigantic clusters of nanomachines that can scourge and disintegrate foes, dissipating seamlessly upon facing too pronounced a danger -the adversaries herein are distinct and awesome and fit well not only within the context of Necropunk, but also within the frame of another setting.


Strange, squishy gas drifters with three tentacles, off aliens that look like a cross between a tapir and a kangaroo that can drain confidence with a mere gaze (including an improved, higher CR variant), deadly orbital crustaceans (that can leap hundreds of feet, generating deadly shockwaves upon impact), behemoth-like all consuming scoop mouths...or what about crosses between multi-eyed felines and hammerhead sharks? Yes, these creatures are alien and odd, but they are believable and have unique abilities and fitting full-color artworks. They also make good use of bulletproof defenses, evasive maneuvers and similar unique tricks, though, admittedly, I would have loved for them to make more use of Necropunk's unique rules-assets like social combat, phase combat and the psychic system. A further downside for those of you who want rock-solid stats - I did notice some (minor) glitches in the statblocks themselves.


Now I feel obliged to mention that the statblocks herein adhere to an unnecessary diversion from presentation standards - special abilities are presented not below the ecology section of the statblock, instead showing up right below the offense-section, before the statistics - this pulls the whole statblock unnecessarily apart and, while not impeding functionality, it does require some getting used to.


Beyond creatures, though, this pdf also provides us with Necropunk iconics, all with their own artworks and sample builds for level 1, 5, 10 and 15. A Total of 5 such iconics are provided and mooks, from mass-produced ghouls to security agents also help the DM.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - the non-standard formatting of statblocks, while consistent, is unnecessary and makes them slightly harder to read and the minor glitches beyond that remain a blemish on the file. The pdf adheres to Necropunk's printer-friendly two-column standard in full color, with most monsters receiving their own, unique artworks with a thoroughly distinct style. Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


Scott Gladstein, Jeremiah Zerby, Caleb Aylesworth, Maverick Bishop and Dayton Johnson have created a bestiary perhaps my favorite scifi-setting right now - I find myself craving a TV series, novels, more supplements for Necropunk on a rather regular basis and the innovative rules inherent to the system have found their way in one form or another in many facets of my home game. The aliens provided herein could have easily wrecked the distinct style, the hard to grasp cohesion of the setting's superb atmosphere. They didn't, so that's a massive plus for me. Instead, like many good scifi creatures, whether those encountered in George R.R. Martin's lesser known scifi stories (Necropunk meets Meathouse Man would be pretty interesting...) or those provided by classic scifi/pulp authors, they feel alive and believable. They also sport a diverse selection of unique abilities and tricks and the sample NPC-builds spare both players and DMs a lot of time. That being said, as much as I'd like to, I can't remain mute on the glitches in the statblocks, the unnecessary formatting decision that makes them harder to read. These constitute detrimental factors.


On the plus-side, though, this bestiary is cheap and makes sense in non-Necropunk-settings as well. Still, try as I might, I can't rate this bestiary higher than an enthusiastic 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 since the pdf is too good for a mediocre rating.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Necropunk Bestiary
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Little Red Goblin Games Racial Guide 4: Nontraditional Races
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2015 19:54:25

Racial Guide 4 (hereafter RG4) is a very impressive collection of new races for Pathfinder, most of whom are like nothing I've ever seen before. Taken as a whole, RG4's new races present a surrealistic fantasy world, and if I were to run a campaign with RG4, I'd set it on a world where these 32 critters are the only intelligent species available. It reminds me of off-kilter fantasy like the classic Bashi Wizards, 9, or even the Dark Crystal or even unusual kids fantasy like Fraggle Rock. In short, maybe its the artwork, but I imagine these new races as imaginative Muppets, having semi-psychadelic adventures, and that's a very good thing.


With more than 30 races in the sourcebook, RG4 is mixed bag. There are some stinker races mixed in with some truly imaginative concepts. My favorite races in the book have a really strong theme, and I'll talk about them below, while some of the others seem merely like random mutations stapled together.


Of the races described my favorites include:
Arma- who are hyper-competitive humanoids who can transform into magical weapons, basically a fantasy version of the Targetmasters from Transformers.


Behemoths- four armed, headless braichators.


Cuills- basically an Elf-like species whose race wide fertility problems (think Children of Men) have made them fierce protectors of children, distinguished by a thick bone crest on their neck that looks almost like a body-horror parody of Edwardian collars.


Kapre- spindly and physically frail stoner giants.


Talli- extremely fast breeding humanoids with a massive problem with death in childbirth, due to their incredible metabolic needs, ancestral memories, an adventurous disposition and iron-clad code of honor.


The book is a fine value. I'm giving it 4/5 stars, because as I mentioned it's a mixed bag.While I loved the races above, there are several others I can barely remember, or which had serious mechanical problems. For instance, while you can tell the authors really liked the Ouphre, and dedicated both page-count and several illustrations to this race of Labyrinth type critters, I wasn't too crazy about the mechanics behind the race. I felt their somewhat mutable mutations could of been handled more smoothly; for example, in Neo-Exodus, Louis Porter has a race that can potentially shift its survival adaptations regularly and he covers the same ground in fewer (and clearer) words.


Still, if you're a fan of non-traditional fantasy, get this book. You'll find at least a handful of new races to love., a few more races to like, and a handful to ignore.


CHRIS



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Little Red Goblin Games Racial Guide 4: Nontraditional Races
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Really Simple Prestige Classes
by Curtis G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/25/2014 09:05:41

Disclaimer – this review is based on read through and not actual playtesting.


Prestige classes have always had problems. In the olden days before Pathfinder, they were easy to abuse, dipping a level here and a level there to get something really super optimized. Then there was the fact that a lot of classes got boring at later levels, and prestige classes generally were a better choice than staying in your base class. Pathfinder changed that; the rule gave reward to those staying in a base class – lots of abilities based on class level, and new abilities gained, as well as capstone abilities. You take even 1 level outside your base class you lose your capstone ability. Not many campaigns get that far, but it does weigh on the mind.


Most prestige classes in Pathfinder are just not worth the effort. And some combinations of multiclassing don't work. The Exalted in Inner Sea Gods is an example of a different approach to prestige classes that weren't quite so problematic.


Really Simple Prestige Classes does this well.


Each class in the book is a 3 level prestige class, and aside from Runner, you cannot get into before 6th or 7th level. Runner, if you are human you could get into at 2nd level.


A lot of these classes seem unbalanced at first look – they seem too powerful – but that is a design point of the book; the classes presented make it a tough choice to take the class or take a level in your base class. Something most prestige classes don't do. Normally you are making a character to get a specific prestige class to get a character built around it. These classes are only 3 levels and give you character something really special to call their own, without requiring building from the ground up for that class. It lets you “dip” into the class for 3 levels and maintain balance with characters who stayed in base class.


I'm not going to go into the details of the classes, but this is a quick description of each posted in a thread by the publisher.


Acrobat: A three level class based around increases to acrobatics, evasion, and uncanny dodge.
Arcane Dabbler: Pick up a few useful spells and metamagic feats without impacting your BAB or HD too much.
Beastlord: Need an animal companion? Gain one that will be useful for the remainder of your levels as well as some nice abilities that focus on defeating/detecting beasts and magical beasts.
Enchanter: Is magical crafting your thing? Enchanter cuts down on crafting time and grants you some of the much-needed feats, allowing you to bypass a lot of red tape.
Magic User: Expand your spell list, boost your casting stats, and overall make your spellcasting more versatile.
Metamagister: Metamagic feats getting you down? Offset them with this class without sacrificing your caster level.
Runner: Need to get somewhere quicker? Runner boost your movement speed, deal with terrain challenges with ease, all while still offering attracting options for skirmishing characters.
Weapon Master: Why be good at one weapon when you can be good at all of them? (As a designer put it, “This one is a golf-bag fighter”.)
Weapon Specialist: Why be good at all the weapons when you can be an undisputed master of one? Gives early access to some weapon specific feats


Things I'd love to see in an update:
Bookmarks – while it is only an 18 page PDF, 16 pages of content, bookmarks to take the reader to each class would be nice. They are presented in alphabetical order and it's small so scrolling to the class is easy.


There were a few editing mistakes.


These little drawbacks don't impact the worth of this book, nor it's amazing content. This is one of the best player centric books of the year – both in content, and taking the idea of prestige classes in new directions and making them very useful. Hope more books follow, and it inspires other publishers to do similar things.
5/5



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Really Simple Prestige Classes
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Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/17/2014 07:35:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive book by Little Red Goblin Games clocks in at 172 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 7 pages of SRD (with some pages duplicating text from the adventure at the end of the book), leaving us with 163 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Now if you've been following my reviews, you'll know that I usually take apart crunch for races and classes in a pretty detailed manner. The problem with a book of this size and my approach is evident -were I to do that here, the review would bloat beyond compare. Hence, I'll be somewhat less detailed than usual in this review, picking out the cherries and the less than awesome components and highlighting them. Got that? Great!


So after a short introduction to the topics and tropes of WuXia/Wushu and the implied setting of Dragon Tiger Ox, we delve into the basic supplemental pieces of information. A basic introduction to a third alignment axis in the guise of honor can be found here, as can be new uses for knowledge skills to identify styles. Unlike in a standard assumption of a setting, each character receives a favored style through which they progress, counting their class level as BAB-prerequisites for the purpose of taking these feats. A similar terminology is established for ki-level - that means it class levels in a ki pool gaining class.


Additionally, a new combat maneuver may be used to disrupt styles, canceling their benefits and allowing the maneuver's executor to increase the amount of time entering a style takes. While not particularly effective in itself, the maneuver lends itself to a versatile array of possibilities to follow up on. What rather impressed me with its simplicity and yet, genius, would be the diversified martial arts - headbutts, kicks etc. all get their own damage-columns and bonuses - kicks tend to do more damage, but inflict the new off-balance condition on a character executing them. This system not only immediately makes flurry of blows actually interesting, it turned out to work in a rather balanced and cool manner when I tried it out. These alternate rules indeed are glorious and should be deemed a nigh must to make monks and martial artists in general a more interesting playing experience.


Now if you want to go for full-blown WireFu WuXia à la "Hero" and similar movies, an array of solid rules to achieve just that would be provided as well. On the downside, the suggestion to default gestalt as monks with other classes makes sense and fits the tone, but the lack of advice regarding power-levels of characters and adversaries when implementing these rules make them feel more like an afterthought. And yes, gestalting is explained in x guides online, but I maintain that introducing a suggestion like this should also be accompanied by a thorough examination of its ramifications.


Now for the more light-hearted among us, the bad dubbing rules that have you pantomime what your character means and another player say the words might not suit my tastes for a prolonged and serious campaign, mostly due to me trying to explore questions of ethics and psychology as well in my games, but for a fun evening with sake or beer, I can guarantee that the results can be utterly hilarious.


Now race-wise, aasimars and vanaras may choose new alternate racial traits (including a draconic breath weapon). The Guaiwu, one of the new races herein, would imho be just a tiny bit too strong with both darkvision and low light vision, though not by much - still a good example why the RP-rules from the ARG don't work as smoothly as they ought to and by no means broken. That being said, one could nitpick a bit here and there. The second race, the Samebito can be rather overpowered in any aquatic campaign - gaining fast healing in saltwater, these guys are per se a cool race, but one DMs should be a bit wary of in the context of nautically-inclined campaigns. Shishi are awakened from statues of foo lions/dogs and are celestial guardians - and here, I have not even the slightest gripe. On another note - the Guaiwu remain the only race that specifies its RP-cost, in case you were wondering.


A total of 11 racial feats allow half-breeds to have two favored styles, Gaiwu to shoot elemental blasts (with a VERY high range), gain blindsense under water, wield larger weapons etc. -especially the Gaiwu gain the brunt of cool tricks here, with one-handing two-handed weapons and gaining regeneration temporarily for eating oni-flesh being two examples that skirt what is balanced and what is cool. Generally, I do like the feats on their own, but the concentration of awesome tricks for the Gaiwu and relative lack of coolness for other races bespeaks a kind of favoritism here. Seeing how the race already is powerful when compared to the base races, the damn cool and iconic toys might push them over the edge for some DMs, so please read this one carefully. The good news would be that the options provided by themselves are not broken.


A short primer on languages had the linguist in me excited, though the level of detail of e.g. Necropunk's supplements is not reached herein. Beyond a new wildblooded draconic bloodline for sorcerors to represent the eastern dragon's flavor and a new one for ki-centric sorcerors that helps them not suck at ki-tricks/unarmed tricks - at least not as much. The ki/metamagic synergy gained at higher levels also makes for an interesting design choice here. We also receive the ki domain, whose ki-powered channel and the potentially extreme increase of radius for it can easily break the balance when taken in combination with variant channeling or simply a powerful channeling specialist, so take that one with a grain of caution.


Next up would be the 3 new prestige classes – in all brevity, 2 are full BAB-progression classes, the third a ¾ BAB-progression. The Shifu would be a master of one style on the verge of developing his own style – hence, the PrC receives a secondary pool, so-called prowess points, to modify his strikes with. In an interesting take, some of the class abilities depend on the base-class used to class into this PrC. If you happen to know the movie tropes – these guys learn the hardcore martial arts – dealing the same damage as last round via mirror palm (explicitly working with vital strike!) and elemental blasts make for iconic techniques that are powerful, but limited by daily uses. Beyond these, the PrC also receives a disintegration-style killer strike and an insta-death attack – especially the latter is not something I’m generally a fan of in classes that are not the assassin. Yeah, it exists in the literature and movies, but still.


The second PrC herein would be the Jade Warrior, which can be summed up best as a kind of holy warrior that strives to become a balanced paragon of stoic virtues, a kind of anti-dishonor-paladin, if you will – though one powered by ki with quite a few more unique abilities than I would have expected – I particularly liked that their wounds inflicted on dishonorable targets resist magical healing and may leave jade green scars unless treated by restoration.


The third PrC herein would be the Wolong – a hardcore strategist martial artist that learns tactician and similar tricks. While I am not a fan of the general option of a mechanic that allows for counter-strikes and ties the mechanic to initiative (d20 vs. d20 minus 5 – too much variance), I do like the ability – for while I don’t enjoy this component of it, the option to pick their turn apart and e.g. take move actions at a different initiative than standard actions etc. makes for some very interesting changes in tactics. The ability to command allies pales in comparison and has been done in more interesting ways in other classes. However, with the very strong and iconic round-break-up, more would have been unbalancing. That being said – NOT a fan of adding int to damage, even with a max class level caveat – stacking up multiple attributes to base damage is too easy to game.


A couple of rage powers and rogue talents allow for the parrying of unarmed attacks via blades and even monk-style tricks for barbarians, just before we delve into the meat of the setting information with a general overview of the celestial bureaucracy under the emperor. An assortment of suggested deities and heroes is presented, alongside a massive chapter on the diverse sample of clans, orders and schools. If you have access to LRGG’s Heroes of the East-series, you’ll also notice some synergy with the styles established therein, allowing you to easier weave a tangled web of diverse martial traditions and ideologies competing for supremacy.


Of course, no such book would be complete without a new chapter on feats and Dragon Tiger Ox surely delivers in that regard with a massive chapter and MANY, many feats. Rather weirdly, the necessary index-table shows up after the first couple of feats, but that is admittedly a nitpick. The feats themselves, as befitting of the theme, make ample use of ki and allow non-ki-classes to wilder in this territory; It should also be mentioned that these feats have been built with regards to a kind of compatibility regarding the “Heroes of the East”-series, which generally is rather neat. The fact that the exceedingly cool upgrade to Ki Cannon does not feature the prereq-feat from the HotE-series may gall some people, though. Beyond a significant array of regular feats, we are also introduced to so-called Forbidden Feats – these feats come with significant benefits, usually in the guise of significant damage to the character, even attribute damage, but allow the respective character to regain ki-points. Surprisingly, I have found no easy way to cheese these feats – while it is possible, it would require some deep digging and uncommon race/ability combinations not usually available t PCs, so…well done. On another note – it is a bit weird that follow-up feats to Forbidden feats not necessarily are forbidden feats themselves – there seems o be some minor thematic inconsistency going on here, but once again, that’s a nitpick.


As a nice nod towards the glorious Ultimate Campaign supplement, we also receive some thematically appropriate story feats that let you prove that YOUR style is the best…or that your school should be considered supreme to your rivals. Another array of new feats would be introduced herein – qinggong-feats, which essentially represent spell-like abilities that are unlocked via taking the feats. These abilities, while powerful, are tied to ki and burn quite a lot of this resource. The dispelling strikes that allow you to counter magic via ki deserve special mentioning, though I consider the forbidden technique that allows you to convert incoming spells into ki a perpetuum mobile of a finite resource that does require careful oversight. And yes, THAT one can be cheesed, but only at high levels. So yeah, no significant issue.


A total of 5 new styles can also be found within these pages – from the elven Drambor that rewards tumbling through and over foes to the leg irons using Rattling Chain, the styles are one thing – unique. They breathe a kind of inspiration absent from quite a few published styles out there. Now personally, I consider the Sacred Lotus Style’s option to substitute caster level for BAB for the purpose of delivering touch spells to be rather nasty – while it allows for certain builds to actually work rather well, it also has the potential to go rather awry and become OP depending on the resources you allow as a DM – essentially, as soon as you have a touch attack based class like the warlock-variants (e.g. Interjection Games’ superb Ethermancer), you may wish to think VERY hard before allowing this style. It should be noted that this remains the exception in an array that is otherwise rather interesting – rope-darts, ki-draining – generally, this chapter deserves accolades!


Now the styles have been ample clue here – yes, there also is quite an array of new equipment herein, namely cool stuff like Bond-style throwing hats, flying guillotines etc. – the latter would constitute the one totally broken weapon herein – not only does it have an x5 multiplier (as if x4 wasn’t bad enough…), it also has a damage dice upgrade when used in conjunction with Throw Anything. And yes, it does require a swift action to retract, but still…I don’t see the fun in luck being rewarded this much. Other than that, Umbrella Spears etc. make for interesting options that even allow for some unique tactics.


Where there are mundane items, there are magical ones and this book does deliver in this regard as well – beyond jade and peach wood as materials, an array of ki-powered jade masks, fans with the powers of the wind, wooden oxen figurines, leadening weights, enchanted gourds – quite a diverse array, often with primary passive benefits and additional, active ones that require the expenditure of ki. New magical armor and weapon properties as well as advice on the pricing of these items can be found within this chapter as well.


Now remember those forbidden feats I mentioned? Well, there also are the immortal clans and styles – taught directly by the immortals, theses styles are very powerful, but have significant, story-based drawbacks that really have a massive oomph – from slowly turning into a tree to becoming utterly reckless, these styles work exceedingly well -why? Because they use the ROLEPLAYING aspect to codify drawbacks in rather unique ways that can enhance the game rather than only relying on sheer numbers. These are feats for mature groups, yes, but damn fine ones – powerful, narrative gold here!


Becoming immortals would also be a distinct possibility and perhaps, most appropriate when going Mythic anyways – yes, this also provides advice on mythic adventures in the cosmos of DTO – From Universal to path-specific abilities, a vast array of mythic versions of feats etc. mean that there indeed is A LOT of mythic content herein to use. That being said, the balance, even within the context of mythic rules, has been stretched very thin by some of these options – being treated as always having 1 ki point and adding yet another way of regaining ki can be combined with these abilities to make some truly fearsome combos – now don’t get me wrong; I don’t necessarily consider this inappropriate in the context of Mythic Adventures – but the options herein are powerful indeed and may be considered too much for some DMs not going balls to the wall-crazy with mythic adventures.


A total of 4 different mythic-exclusive styles further increase the fantasy-factor here – clad, for example, in righteous flames, delivering negative levels by the attack – the mythic styles are extremely lethal, but also risky – more so even than the regular immortal styles. Once again, the caveat that they’re intended for the higher power-levels of gaming applies, though these provide less potential for abuse than the vast assortment of path abilities due to story-based limitations of their accessibility.


The final pages of this book are devoted to different ready-made encounters, which, among others, feature the challenge of a 36-chamber pagoda – and generally, I do enjoy these encounters. Alas, the statblocks provided here are rather opaque and the one time the layout failed – no bolding, no clearly distinguished attack/defense-sections – mind you, the words are there, but presentation-wise, the statblocks feel jumbled when they’re not – a good example that layout is important.


Conclusion:


Editing can be considered very good; I noticed no significant glitches that would have impeded my ability to understand the content; formatting is less impressive, though – I did notice a bunch of glitches especially in the formatting department: From feat names at the bottom of the page, with the rest of the text on the next page to flawed paragraphs and the aforementioned statblock-presentation, this component is simply not that impressive. Which is especially surprising considering the layout – DTO features a beautiful, elegant full-color 2-column standard that manages to still be printer-friendly. However, the book also sports rather broad borders, which means there’s less text per page. Additionally, many a page sports quite a bit of blank space – some optimization there would have probably spared me quite a few pages when I printed this out. The artworks deserve special mentioning – especially the character art throughout the book is drop-dead gorgeous and on par with the awesome cover. The pdf comes with massive, nested bookmarks that allow for easy navigation.


Designers Dayton Johnson, Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Jeremiah Zerby, Ian Sisson and Mike Myler have provided a massive, interesting book here – the love for the genre breathes from the pages and the fluff inherent in quite a few of these options remains compelling and cool. Now don’t expect a campaign setting here – this is a crunch-book with some setting-hints; If you’re looking for a setting, then this might not be for you. Continue reading, though.


Why? Because this massive book is essentially, for better and for worse, a huge grab-bag. Here and there, LRGG devises an alternate rule for something already codified by mainstream Pathfinder in another way, so an awareness and weariness of overlaps and stacking is required of prospective DMs. If you’re willing to approach Dragon Tiger Ox under this premise, though, you’ll be rewarded – unlike many books that feature complaints like the ones I fielded in the above paragraphs, Dragon Tiger Ox breathes the spirit of a true labor of love. In fact, rereading this review, it may even seem less positive than I intended it to be. Yes, there are potentially problematic options in here – but there is also a veritable treasure trove of options to scavenge, allow and use in your campaigns. From the iconic styles to the uncommon items, to the nice codification of ki that opens these tricks for a plethora of builds, Dragon Tiger Ox can be considered a great achievement and most importantly, a fun book.


Is it perfect? No. Do I consider all in this book good or balanced? No. Can I see myself using the vast majority of content herein? Heck yes! While not perfect, I do encourage any fan of WuXia or those wishing to run eastern campaigns to check this book out – it makes for a nice resource to have and its price is rather fair as well. Hence, in spite of some rough edges and the formatting glitches, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars with the caveat that a system-savvy DM should carefully contemplate the content herein prior to using it – some pieces might be inappropriate for some campaigns/rule-book combinations.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dragon Tiger Ox (Wuxia/Wushu Source Book)
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Tome of Twisted Things
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/15/2014 16:26:36

While not for every campaign, the Tome of Twisted Things is full of interesting and useful ideas and resources that could be easily incorporated into a campaign. Mostly they will fit into a campaign world where the fight between good and evil is brutal and where good is losing ground that is the sort of situation where the Darkborn and Avengers would thrive. My only real complaint is the pinkish background of the PDF which is a little disturbing to stare at.


The Tome of Twisted Things is a selection of darkness-tinged resources for Pathfinder, new prestige and variant classes, a new race and supporting feats. It begins with the Darkborn prestige class who draw upon the power of evil to defeat evil, a classic conceit. They must balance their dedication to good with their increasing urge to do evil. The class has powers called ‘darkweaves’ that are activated by bidding their ‘wickedness’ against the purity of their target, which is an interesting mechanic. They gain some interesting power but must always be fighting against the temptation to embrace the evil that fuels their abilities. Good stuff. But it seems that they should have knowledge (planes) as a class skill as they have several abilities that interact with outsiders.


Next up is the Avenger, a paladin variant that serves the god of retribution and is focused on settling scores, injure them and get stronger against the thing that injured them. The Ruiner is an anti-paladin archetype who just wants to tear down the world and gains bonuses when doing so. The Tyrant prestige class wraps up the class section with someone who wants to rule and will crush any who oppose that vision, an interesting option for lawful villains.


The new race is the Warped, children of a summoner and an eidolon, these are the definition of unusual but interesting. They gain access to a very limited amount of eidolon evolution but have no place where they fit in, being so rare and strange, making them a perfect sort for becoming adventurers. The warped also have access to two class archetypes: the Bloodborn (summoner) who summon creatures from their own blood, and the Monk of the Flowing Form, who master the adaptability of their own body.


Twenty new feats, and one new trait, round out this work, all but one dealing with class or race abilities from this product, but they provide a variety of interesting -if niche- options.


Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.


Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofsta-
rsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Twisted Things
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