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Ultimate Ethermagic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2014 05:47:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 91 pages of content, so let's...wait. First, here's my



DISCLAIMER: I have a history with ethermagic. When Bradley Crouch first made the ethermancer, I was skeptical - another warlock-style "blast all day"-class? Urgh. In my experience, they boiled down to inflexible blasters that at the same time made logic for the very existence of bows et al. tenuous at best, were utterly OP OR resulted in plain boring gameplay. Upon diving into the class, I realized two things - a), it is a complex class indeed and b), I'd have to playtest it to properly judge it. And oh boy, did it playtest well! One of my players fell totally in love with the class and wrote an optimization guide for it. The only reason I did not completely gush about it was the existence of quite a few options that did not make much sense for the ethermancer. Fast forward to the Strange Magic Kickstarter, of which this is the first release. At this point, I had seen half a year of ethermancer in action in my main campaign and started tinkering with the system to expand it. When Bradley asked me to join the KS as a guest author alongside Jason Linker, I jumped the chance. I feel obliged to mention that I was compensated for my work on this book. However, there are significant bunches of content I had no hand in whatsoever. Additionally, I have before criticized products I contributed to and thus, will do my best to analyze, break, etc. this system, just like in all my other reviews. I felt obliged to mention this and should you consider my involvement a conflict of interest, feel free to tell me so - I am confident, however, that analysis of this book will suffice to prove the validity of the points I make in this review.



All right, that out of the way, let's dive in! If you are familiar with the basic ethermancer, you'll be surprised to see that the first class herein is NOT the old one, but rather Jason Linker's Ethermagus. But before I jump into the meat of the 3 classes, let me explain how ethermagic works, all right?



Ethermagic can be explained as pricking a whole into the fabric of reality, channeling the very stuff that separates planes and realities in a unique manner - the ability to channel this power is measured in etherpoints, or EP - so far, so common. However, unlike many similar resources, EP regenerate each round, depending on the formula of the respective base class. The EP regeneration rate is also featured for convenience's sake in the respective class-feature-tables. Ethermagic is generally treated as evocation magic and tight rules for counterspelling ethermagic are provided - though regular caster should be advised not to try to outcast an ethercaster. Additionally, much like spells, manifestations are grouped by level - the higher your level, the higher the level of manifestation you may learn. Wait, what? Manifestations? Well, yes. Etherspells have two components - the etherheart and the manifestations applied to it. Etherhearts are gained at specific levels in the class progression and allow the respective class to do different things - think about them as a chassis, to which manifestations can be applied. To use a manifestation, an ether-using class needs to have at least a cha of 10+manifestation-level and the save DC is 10+highest manifestation level used + charisma modifier, analogue to spells. However, not all etherhearts become available to all classes. Let me give you a run-down:



The most basic of etherhearts would be the lesser blasts - these have a close range and constitute touch attack rays that deal 1d3+cha-mod bludgeoning damage, +1d3 for every caster level beyond 1st for the ethermancer. Ethermagi and etherslingers have significantly less scaling at 1/2 and 1/4 class level respectively. Up to 3 manifestations can be applied to them and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



Greater blasts, exclusively available to the ethermancer, have the same range, but deal 1d10+cha-mod damage, +1d10 for every 2 caster levels beyond the first. Like its lesser brother, a total of 3 manifestations can be added and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



A further, pretty basic etherheart available to all ethermagic users would be the alteration etherheart - this can be considered the utility/defense etherheart with a range of personal and a duration of 1 min/level. Duration deserves special mention here - with the exception of one etherheart, etherspells cannot be dismissed. Additionally, alterations can be modified by exactly one manifestation and only one alteration can be in effect at a given time.



The Bestow etherheart would in effect be similar to the alteration etherheart in that it sports a duration, requires exactly one manifestation to be added to it, but unlike alteration, bestow etherhearts in effect reduce the maximum EP-pool for as long they persist - essentially, the EP used in maintaining the etherspell are only regenerated once the etherspell has run its course. Unlike alteration etherspells, those cast via the bestow etherheart need to be delivered via a touch attack and cannot be targeted at the ethermagic-using class.



The Genesis etherheart, available for ethermancer and etherslinger, conjures objects out of thin ether - once again, exactly one manifestation can be added to the etherheart. The effect is permanent, as long as the object remains within close proximity of its creator, however, like bestow effects, EP remain reduced for as long as the genesis etherspell exists. Unlike any other etherheart, a genesis etherspell can be dismissed at any given time.



The ethermagus' exclusive etherheart, Voidmeld, also has a personal range and applies to the void blade of the ethermagus (more on that later). It also reduces the ethermagus' maximum EP analogue to Bestow for as long as it persists, but unlike it, voidmeld etherspells can be dismissed by dismissing the void blade upon which they're cast. Unlike all other etherhearts, voidmeld etherspells have a base casting time of only a swift action, as opposed to the default standard action. (Which can be superseded by manifestations applied - only the highest casting duration counts.) Another peculiarity of the voidmeld etherheart would be the fact that one may apply as many manifestations as one likes, provided the total of their combined levels remains below the highest manifestation level the ethermagus knows. Once again, only one voidmeld can be in effect at a given time.



You may have noticed that obviously, etherspells seem to scale with levels and this is reflected in their cost - to cast an alteration etherspell, for example, one has to pay the base cost of the etherheart, plus the EP-cost of the manifestation applied. The base EP-costs of the etherhearts scale with levels - in the case of alteration, the base cost would be 1+ 1/4 caster level, rounded down. There is one more restriction imposed on ethermagic - you cannot learn more manifestations for a given etherheart than you have at a lower level - if you for example know 2 3rd level blast manifestations, you can't learn another manifestation unless you have at least 3 2nd level blast manifestations - think of it as a pyramid rule for each etherheart.

While all of this may sound complex (and the math behind it *is* complex, believe me...), it's really easy to understand once you wrap your head around it - whether by a manabar or pool or by cooldown timers, the ways to visualize the system are plentiful.



Okay, before I go into the basics of manifestations, let's take a look at all the classes and goodies herein, all right?



The ethermagus comes with a 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor (and no spell failure chance in light armor), a maximum manifestation level of 5 and an ether regeneration rate that scales up from 1 EP per round to 7 at 20th level. An ethermagus has access to the voidmeld etherheart at 1st level, learns the lesser blast etherheart at 2nd level and the alteration etherheart at 5th level. Ethermagi learn up to 12 voidmeld manifestations, 13 lesser blast manifestations and 9 alteration manifestations over the course of their 20-level progression. At 10th level, lesser blasts executed by the ethermagus receive a damage-bonus equal to 1/2 class level.



Additionally, starting at 1st level, ethermagi can manifest void blades drawn from the ether - these can be either light or medium one-handed weapons that deal either slashing or piercing damage, chosen upon the manifestation of the blade. The entry also features information on hardness and hit points. Starting at 4th level, all void blades receive a +1 enhancement bonus, +1 every 4 levels thereafter and at 11th and 20th level, their damage dice increase by one step. At 7th level, the void blade receives the defending quality and at 9th level, the ethermagus may expend 3 EP to temporarily entangle targets hit by your blade.



At 2nd level, ethermagi may execute so-called etherstrikes, delivering lesser blast etherspells with their void blade analogue to spellstrike - and yes, the wording gets it right. At 3rd level, the ethermagus can regain 1 EP whenever he reduces a target creature of at least 1/2 class level HD to 0 HP or below via an attack with the void blade or a lesser blast etherspell. Particularly interesting, at 11th level, the improved ether surge allows for the addition of one non-stacking additional non-shape manifestation to the next lesser blast he executes.

At 5th level, the thoroughly solid ether variant of spellcombat (sans concentration penalty-ambiguity!) is gained. At higher levels, the ethermagus additionally receives a bonus to concentration checks made in ether combat and at high levels, double the opted penalty is received as a bonus instead.



Continuous exposure to ether hardens the ethermagus' musculature and thus, the class receives a +2 bonus to one physical attribute at 13th level, another +2 to a score not chosen at 13th level at 17th and at 15th level, the ethermagus may 1/day knock a foe prone and pin the foe; +1/day at 20th level, where this can also be executed with blasts. A decompressing shock can be used with EP to end this prone condition/pinning, but deal nasty damage. The capstone, beyond aforementioned effects, can now also be shaped and create/dismiss the void blade as a swift action.



The class comes with excessive FCOs for core races, plane-touched races, puddlings, orcs, hobgoblins, drow, kobolds, vishkanya, kitsune and vanara.



Kickstarter backer Mathew Duckwitz has sponsored the Mad Evangelst archetype, who replaces spellcombat and its follow-up abilities with a metamorphosis pool of class level + cha-mod. Upon slaying targets, the mad evangelist may expend metamorphosis points equal to the slain creature's HD to revive it as a zombie under the control of the evangelist after creature's HD rounds. To maintain the revived creature, the evangelist has to spend the points again upon their regeneration, essentially making this a kind of minion pool. At 3rd level, these revived creatures may be modified at metamorphosis pool cost via an array of so-called "Aspects of the Master" - an array of options that becomes expanded at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter by +1 aspect. Some of these aspects have the [variant] descriptor, denoting that only one such piece can be applied to a given zombie - somewhat akin to tinker designs.

From touchy cilia to flanking prevention sores, applying various templates (aforementioned variants) and similar tricks, the aspects allow for some damn cool modifications...and they have rather cool synergy with the base class - think of it as a cooler version of the Battlefield Defiler archetype for the magus, with truly unique, customizable zombies.



Instead of aberrant musculature and bonus feats, the evangelist also may choose from an array of gifts from beyond - from developing a vast plethora of eyes, to fast healing and even an ether powered gaze attack, these gifts are pretty damn awesome - mostly due to simply not being boring - want an example? Well, fast healing sounds bland, right? Well, this kind of fast healing can be activated reflexively to e.g. survive the effects of being vorpal'd as a severed head - if the head is healed to max HP within one minute, it regrows the body and is fine; Otherwise it dies - now come on, is that a unique, cool last-second save mechanism or what? Or what about a whippy tentacle that can be used to deliver voidmeld manifestations as an exception to the void blade only rule? Yeah, pretty awesome! Also rather interesting from a mechanical standpoint - at 14th level, the mad evangelist becomes immune to either fear, disease or poison - but at the cost of susceptibility to the other two!



The second archetype would be the Void Stalker, essentially a more roguish ethermagus with increases skills per level. In addition to light and medium weapons, these guys may select double weapons as void blades and receives sneak attack at 2nd level, +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter, but pay for these tricks with the lesser blast ether heart, etherstrike and ethercombat. Rather cool - they can dim the lights (at the cost of 1 EP per round and no ether regeneration), greatly boosting stealth and even providing a miss chance at higher levels instead of ethersurge. The void stalker also receives a rogue talent at 4th level (advanced talents at 13th level) and every 3 levels thereafter, but may not choose the same talent twice and cannot select ninja tricks, but pays for this flexibility with the alteration etherheart - which is good, since the combo-potential would have been pretty insane - but don't fret: The iconic ultraviolet shift is gained at 10th level (in a unique modification with reduced costs, analogue to the stealth-enhancer mentioned above) and uncanny dodge, evasion etc. should help get over the absence of this etherheart. The vorpal capstone is also nice.



Next up hereafter would be the voidstar - instead of a voidblade, 3+1/2 class level void star shuriken constitute the targets of the voidmelds of this archetype and receives an increased limit of voidmeld manifestations to apply to these shurikens, scaling up to +3 at 13th level. Instead of etherstrike, 5th level grants the ability to treat said stars as either silver, cold iron or adamantine for the purpose of bypassing DR and instead of void shield, this one receives keen shuriken - while this looks nasty on paper, the math checks out - nice, kind of ninja-ish/halfling-ish throwing specialist.



Ethermancers are the full casters of the bunch and since I have already written a more than excessive review on them AND already explained the basics of ethermagic, I will refrain from going through this guy in detail - though it should be noted that the previously somewhat uneven multiuniversal philosophies (the taking of which also determines the capstone!) have been streamlined and expanded - limited x/day reduction of EP-costs for bestow etherspells, increased raw damage output for less- or unmodified greater blasts, resistance reduction - these class features have been upgraded from "well, that exists, too" to cool enhancers that can be used to increase the effectiveness of various playstyles - increased hit points, limited instant EP-regeneration equal to cha-mod etc. - so much choices and by now, they're actually pretty hard and diverse, eliminating one of my gripes with the original iteration of the class. A fortification-like scaling effect and a 1 immune, 2 susceptible choice is still in the ring. The FCOs are more diverse than before as well!



Kickstarter backer Alexander W. Corrin has granted us the etherfuser, a class that can generate a fusion pool by reducing the maximum EP available on a point by point basis, allowing you to essentially trade the regenerating EP for the non-regenerating FP in the form of ether jelly. This gooey stuff can be used to create etherfusions that are treated as etherspells of the highest manifestation level known with a range of 30 ft., etc., but unlike etherspells, they scale with levels in an additional way - they unlock modifiers over the levels. The fusion that nets temporary hit points on a round by round basis can thus e.g. be increased to provide more every round and/or also net minor DR. What about curing ability damage and freely diving the points cured among damaged attributes? Defense buffs? Setting targets on fire?



Well, things get better - the archetype receives a unique, FP-enhancing philosophy (accessible only via a feat, alas - the general class feature is not gained!) AND learns a variant of lay on hands powered by ether jelly AND even the option to learn mercies (and duplicate the effects of cruelties via an etherfusion...), modifying even extra mercy et al. to properly work with this unique new take on healing. Essentially, these guys are ethermancers that can spontaneously reduce their pool to provide healing for their allies - damn cool concept and glorious execution!



Next up would be the Herald of Creation, essentially a specialist of alteration and genesis etherhearts, complete with increased EP-regeneration while under the effects of alterations, 2 unique multiuniversal philosophies (one of which allows for alteration-blankets at increased costs a limited amount of times per day) and thus also two new capstones - essentially the first of what I'd call specialist-archetypes. The second would be the Herald of Madness, who receives access to gifts from beyond, with some overlap with aforementioned mad evangelist, but also quite an array of exclusive gifts that help the different playstyle - hanging on walls, better touch attacks - rather cool options, including a +2d4 initiative boost, which may see you staggered on a roll of twice the same number - rather nice gamble! The archetype receives an exclusive philosophy for more gifts, the option to lace his bestow etherspells with confusion effects, but also makes the spell mind-affecting. Then again, bestowing is so much easier with a handy tentacle growing from your body... Oh, and the capstone has a confusion-causing aura as well as an aberration apotheosis. The final Herald would be the Herald of the Void, who is a specialist of greater manifestations -but more on that system later. The interstitial philosopher then would be an ethermancer who forgoes greater blasts, aberrant physiology and aberrant form in favor of more multiuniversal philosophies and feats for massive flexibility.



The third base-class in the book would be mine, the Etherslinger, so let me explain to you the basics of the class - essentially, I noticed that gunslingers don't play particularly versatile or interesting. I love a bunch of the design decisions of the class to death, but especially in low powered campaigns and low levels, the action economy penalty, the costly ammunition, the inability to use guns with stealth - all these conspired to make the class less interesting than it should be. On a design perspective, at high levels full BAB touch at close range makes hitting ridiculously easy and the auto-granted deeds, while cool, do not allow for much customization - per default rules, there's not much variety between gunslingers. This class is designed to get rid of all of that and more. The class thus receives d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms and light armors and bucklers, the latter sans spell failure. Etherslingers receive class level + cha-mod EP and EP-regeneration equal to 1/3 class level, rounded up. The etherslinger's caster level is equal to 3/4 her class level. Her blasts only scale up every 4 levels, but has no etherheart at 1st level - so what does she do with the EP? Well, the class receives a linear set of base abilities called etherslinging that improves in a linear way over the levels - up to cha-mod EP can be spent per round in etherslinging abilities. These allow the etherslinger to expend EP for skill-bonuses, bonuses to her next attack...and more importantly, make the use of firearms more versatile. How?



Well, first of all, the etherslinger can repair her starting gun with ether clear as an EP-costing standard action - no more "damn, I botched, now my gun is done for the battle"-crap. (Oh, and it can be further hastened by also expending grit - more on that later!) Additionally, the etherslinger may stabilize the gun to decrease misfire rates. Now at 3rd level, the etherslinger may directly generate etherbullets and propellant in her gun - these do not cost anything! No more annoyed eye-rolling at the slinger for the expensive ammunition and bullets. These ephemeral bullets, though, at least at low levels, dissipate beyond the second range increment, thus not invalidating regular bullets. At 9th level, they increase their range and at 17th level, proper sniping with these bullets becomes possible. Better yet, the action-type required to reload them can be lessened by the expenditure of EP and grit and at higher levels, free action reloads can be executed. Have I mentioned the ability to select damage types at higher levels, including elemental damage-types starting 13th level? Additionally, the etherslinging allows you to treat your guns as if they had an increased capacity for etherbullets - capacity +1 at 5th level, +2 at 15th level.



An etherslinger also receives a grit pool of up to wis-mod points of grit that follow the usual rules, but do not apply to deeds - instead, the etherslinger, beyond the ways to expend grit via etherslinging, has several unique tricks that require at least one grit or that require the expenditure of grit. Speaking of which - while the etherslinger needs guns to cast etherspells (now that's gun-obsession for you...), the class can also gaze 1/day as an immediate action at her gun to regain 1 grit, +1/day at 10th and 20th level. So, instead of grit, etherslingers receive etherslinger talents - one at 2nd level, +1 for every 2 class level after the 2nd. These talents range from passive gains of abilities while she has a minimum amount of grit available to special, active tricks that let her combine the casting (or duration-extension) of an alteration manifestation with a ranged firearm attack. What about shooting targets with the firearm and transporting the otherwise woefully short-ranged bestow etherspells to the target? Beyond that, there are quite a few unique things this class can do: What about shooting haunts and determining their destruction conditions? Making your guns water-proof and functional for that underwater adventure you've been dreading? Wrapping allies in bestow effects while you put bullet holes into the opposition and spontaneous doppler dodges? Etherslingers can also cushion their own fall by shooting at the ground, cause misfires of opponents? I also made a couple of Lucky Luke-talents that allow the etherslinger especially fast draws of the weapon, particularly compelling for those planning a lot of ambushes.



Slightly increased damage output for blasts, using grit to temporarily boost your EP-regeneration rate provide a distinct array of options and builds. A pet-peeve of mine can also be eliminated - know how a firearm-user on board wrecks any infiltration? Well, talents for the etherslinger allow them to actually participate in scenarios like that, silencing their bullets - yes, these guys can go full-blown hitman with magical silencer! Like those movies or books, where special ammunition is prepared? Well, etherslingers can do just that - against creature types and even specific creatures, with increased damage output. The cost for stabilizing guns can also be permanently reduced by talents and causing flashes of light, ricochets and the like do sound like fun don't they? Indeed, the class can also learn to treat the target of the firearm as the origin of an etherspell (relevant for shaped blasts). But, as you may have noticed, the class is not primarily about damage output - it's about terrain control, versatility and non-crippling firearm use and both the blasts as well as the talents support that - but I have failed to mention so far the exceedingly cool option to shoot bullets into unoccupied squares, creating essentially Schrödinger's bullets - as soon as a hapless fool steps in the square, the bullet is unleashed, allowing you to generate either short-lived traps or, if you choose to select a couple of talents, energy-damage dealing minefields. In playtest, mining dungeon corridors for escape or for holding positions proved to be ample fun indeed, not to speak of the nasty ambushes you can make with these short-lived pocket-dimension bullet-mines. High-level etherslingers may also destabilize their guns, increasing misfire and critical threat range and yes, making ether facsimiles of her gun is not beyond the capacities of the etherslinger - nasty surprise for those bandits that caught and disarmed all of you...



Oh, and then there are the capstone talents...what about e.g. the one that lets the etherslinger know when an intelligent creature willingly utters here name and means her, allowing her to teleport to the target? Yeah, there are quite a few of tricks like that here...have I mentioned that the class receives access to all non-class-exclusive etherhearts? Now I know this may look very powerful on paper, but MAD, small power pool, etc. result in a balanced overall contribution - most importantly, though, one that is versatile and fun. I am extremely proud of this class and I guarantee it's playing style is much more rewarding if you prefer variety over repetition and a certain level of complexity and tinkering.



One final note for the WuXia-aficionados - yes, there is a feat in here that grants you a grit-powered ki-pool (and the option to spend that ki on spontaneous bonuses to AC), opening quite an avenue of even further tricks if you want to use books like "Heroes of the Jade Oath", "Dragon Tiger Ox", etc.



(Feel free to tell me about your etherslinger's exploits via endzeitgeist.com's contact tab - I'd love to hear how my baby is doing out there! One last piece of advice - stay out of melee...)



We also receive a whole slew of new feats, which have since the original ethermancer-pdf's inception been redesigned and vastly expanded - from vastly improved base-feats to glorious feats that allow etherslingers to gain a small time-manipulation genesis manifestation to changing voidblade damage to your etherstrike etehrspell's energy type, the vast array of feats allows for some damn cool combinations indeed - including casting a limited array of alterations as spell-like abilities a couple of times per day!



Now the manifestations - oh boy! Not only are there * a lot*, they also are exceedingly flexible, from temporary EP to energy-damage buffers to reflexive damage and even tricks to convert energy damage into ether - the amount of fine-tuned and expanded alterations is awesome to see, especially since the choices that before were sub-par for the ethermancer now definitely work well for the ethermagus and etherslinger!



It should also be noted that especially alteration and bestow have received quite an array of damn cool options, many of which could be considered exceedingly interesting - what about e.g. making the target a conduit for madness - potentially spreading confusion to those nearby? Or what about trapping a target creature in dream combat with a deadly shadow of the subject's mind's own making? What about becoming a haste-like hyperspace beacon that can extend its benefits to the closest ally? What about linking two creatures with quantum indeterminacy, allowing them to swap places? Ever wanted to enable your allies to blast foes as with batteries of comets? Yup, now you can! Or what about making your allies into laser batteries that pummel foes with potentially blinding rays of light? The heretofore rather underrepresented greater blasts by now have a whole array of unique manifestations that can only be added to them. What about e.g. bouncing blasts? Yeah - damn cool. Speaking of which - genesis has also seen quite an array of new, cool options. Take e.g. the option to generate an anti-gravity (or gravity) well or making a blade with a stored blast etherspell inside? (And yes, the well allows you to use the rope of teh well to pull buckets of gravity from it...I laughed so hard when I read that...) Or perhaps you fancy a sand-filled hourglass wristband that allows you to increase your actions, but have time take its toll thereafter - pretty cool! Speaking of which - making ephemeral copies of objects can be quite helpful when playing investigation-heavy scenarios. Or how about making a book of ether that stores your knowledge-skill for you, allowing others to benefit from it, but at the cost of not having the knowledge available for yourself? What about a short-range beacon to which to teleport back to?



The voidmeld etherheart, completely new, has a vast array of new tricks at your disposal - from fishing crits to power lesser blasts to breaking the +5 enchantment limit (and yes, the math checks out and is NOT broken) and receiving a non-kitten-able hit-healing trick are part of the deal. And you know you always wanted to hit something with the force of a black hole's event horizon...right?



Now I mentioned Greater Manifestations - these are an optional system you may elect to ignore, but in my opinion shouldn't - two options are provided: 1) An ethermancer may lose a manifestation and a multiuniversal philosophy slot to learn one of these. Option 2) opens them for all classes, including ethermagus/slinger via a feat - whether you allow limited access, full access or none - all left in your hands -and that is awesome. Greater manifestations can be cast 1/day and essentially constitute the true "OMG, did you see that?" hard insta-death, crowd-control etc. tricks - 5 feats can be taken to enhance them/learn them and yes, the aforementioned multiuniversal philosophy also comes with an apotheosis. And greater manifestations are damn powerful -reducing the next etherspell's cost to 0? Yep. Black Hole? Check. But the very cake is taken the new and advanced Clockwork Universe: You choose a sun and planets that provide varying passive and active effects as you craft a miniature galaxy - and yes, inhabited planets in this galaxy may send forth motherships to destroy your enemies whenever one other satellite in your clockwork universe is destroyed or consumed by throwing it at your foes. Oh, and, of course, desert planets (one of the various additions to this already brilliant manifestation) have especially high capacities for mother ships...Have I mentioned moon bases and their capacity to fire teeny-tiny-planet-cracker missiles at your foes? This massive greater manifestation was a beauty before - now it is just one gigantic, splendid piece of awesomeness. Insta-kills, maximized numeric effects - don't get me wrong, I love the other manifestations, but this one is just too cool. What about erasing all energy-affinity from a creature? Speaking of which: HAMSTER BALL OF DEATH. Okay, It's called Firmament, is made of crystal and protects you from just about every damage, but it also allows for particularly devastating charges, hamsterball style. I *love* it! And yes, +3 manifestations for utterly massive blasts can also be chosen, as well as granting allies a taste of ether magic and a small, temporary pool. Oh, and yes, one may even resurrect creatures thanks to the powers of white holes!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting were top-notch even before I went over it and by now, all potentially game-glitch issues are gone and wording should be fitting- at least I found none. Layout adheres to a damn cool, unique, 2-column b/w-standard with original b/w-character artworks and thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf is rather printer-friendly and excessively bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Even before, ethermagic was awesome - but it suffered from being the playing ground of just one class and not all options being made for it. Then this book came. Jason Linker's Ethermagus' concept of godblades and lead designer Bradley Crouch's new and *vastly* improved ethermancer, with all their awesome ideas and tricks, their combos, their glorious fluff and crunch - these two alone would have carried this book. Well, I am admittedly biased towards my own etherslinger class - however, I have received quite a lot feedback - from both my players AND complete strangers how much they love this class. So there has got to be something going for it, right? ;)



Kidding aside - this system makes resource-management fun. It lets you blast or magic-slice...or shoot ALL DAY LONG without breaking the game. Each and every class and archetype herein is unique and has something to offer - this is literally an all killer, no filler crunch book of awesomeness and ever since I have it in my hands, it has become a permanent fixture in my games - as indispensable as psionics or pact magic. Have I mentioned that its system could easily be used for the representation of the force or similar scifi-themed power-sources by just changing fluff? Yeah. For me, this is an EZG Essential, a candidate for my top ten of 2014 and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. This is, even without anything I added, the best crunch-book I've seen in ages - innovative, fun, complex and yet, pretty easy to grasp. (And if you need explanations/advice or just want to tell me about your experiences with this book, don't hesitate to contact me via my hp's contact tab.)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Ethermagic
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The Antipodist - Radiant Shadowsage
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2014 05:04:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base-class clocks in at 28 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The antipodist base class receives d6,1/2 BAB-progression, no good saves and a locus-progression of level 1 to level 4 and 2+Int skills per level. Antipodists are proficient with simple weapons, but not any armor or shields - no here's an interesting cincher - they double the point costs of their loci when wearing armor they're not proficient in, but are otherwise not hindered by them - meaning that you're only a feat away from armored casting with these guys - sans penaltes.



The Antipodist receives two pools - a radiance pool equal to class level + wis-mod and a shadow pool equal to class level + int mod. These replenish after 8 hours of consecutive rest. If you're familiar with Interjection Games classes, you'll notice a similarity with the edgewalker here - and thankfully, multiclass-information is provided. Now an antipodist's career is called "Journey through Light and Shadow" for a good reason - the antipodist learns so-called loci, which range from passive extraordinary abilities to supernatural and spell-like tricks. Loci are broken into two subtypes - light and dark and within these subtypes, there are different philosophies further providing variance/sub-subtypes if you will. Now antipodists surprisingly have no caster level per se, but for interaction purposes, they treat their class level as caster level. Additionally, though some of the antipodist's loci are treated as spell-like abilities, they do NOT count as spells for e.g. PrC etc. purposes. Catching this one and covering it properly is rather impressive. For the purpose of concentration, a locus is treated as locus level + 1/4 antipodist class level, rounded down. It should be noted that supernatural and extraordinary loci cannot be identified via spellcraft. In order to activate a locus, the antipodist requires a key attribute (wis or int) of 10 + 2x level of the locus and save DCs, if required, are 10 + 1/2 class level + key attribute modifier.



An antipodist begins the game with 3 loci and she receives +1 locus every class level. However, within each philosophy, an antipodist can never know more loci of a higher level than of a lower one - in order to e.g. learn a second locus of the 3rd level of a philosophy, the antipodist needs to know at least 2 loci of the second level of the philosophy - essentially a pyramid rule. The antipodist may replace a locus with a new one at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, but must maintain the level of the retrained locus - but NOT the philosophy, allowing you to "cheat" the pyramid rule to some extent. Like the edgewalker, some loci require the use of the antipodist's shadow and thus, only one of them can be in effect for a certain time.



Got that? Well, that's not all - unlike the edgewalker, the antipodist can have different philosophical leaning - radiance, shadow or twilight. Twilight maintains the duality between light and darkness, whereas light and shadow, whereas the specialists in either light or darkness may not be able to utilize the other's tricks, but instead receive a slightly (+2) increased pool and, more importantly, may choose to ignore aforementioned pyramid rule to compensate their decreased versatility - anyways, all choices further modify what an antipodist receives bonus-wise - which is nice. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the philosophical leaning also provides further bonuses - increased pool size and minor bonus to one of the three saves. It should also be noted, that extensive advice for the DM and player to handle the transition of philosophies are provided - and that both light and dark are not tied to an alignment - playing CE radiance specialists or LG shadow specialisits is very much possible. Now interesting in this seeming dichotomy would be the "drawn from experience" ability gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, choosing a philosphy and increasing its potency - the trick here being that the very progression of the class can be used to mirror the moral development of the character and the preferences chosen. The extensive advice for philosophy-changing goes above and beyond, providing detailed guidance for the turnfrom one leaning to another, both in the crunch AND in the fluff departments.

At 2nd, 7th and every 6 levels thereafter, the antipodist may also choose one 1st level locus to become "well-travelled", reducing the cost of said locus to 0, but at the cost of treating a level-dependent effect as half the actual antipodist level, with the exception of DCs and saving throws. At 11th level, the antipodist may 1/day cause a 3rd level or lower locus to be spontaneously treated as well-travelled, +1/day for every 3 levels. Finally, at 20th level, three different capstones loom, depending on the philosophy chosen - these include turning one 4th level dark locus into a light-locus (and vice versa) or a third pool, the twilight pool, which can exclusively be used to pay for loci of the twilight philosophy.



The class also comes with favored class options for the core-races plus drow, aasimar, tiefling, kobold, orc, hobgoblin, puddling (with the one for elves referring to edgewalker instead of antipodist) and 3 feats for the class: Increased pool-sizes (including variance between twilight and the extreme leanings), making a 1st level locus well-travelled and +1 first level locus are possible here - solid, especially since the latter feat becomes rather important for pyramid rule-planning.



Now a total of 4 philosophies for radiance and shadow are provided and additionally, there is the twilight philosophy, which counts as either. Got that? All right, so I'll give you a brief run-down of the philosophies (If I mention every locus, the review would bloat...): Anima allows you to animate your shadow to execute close range reposition maneuvers, have your shadow record a locus (and execute it at your command) or stretch and peek around corners or even invade a target, potentially slaying it via fear. Other tricks of anima allow you to animate other's shadows, commanding them to help or hinder target creatures and passive bonuses to AC when not utilizing your shadow actively can also be found herein



The Beacon philosophy can help you cancel out ongoing fear-effects. on yourself and allies and perfect, short-burst flight alongside buff/debuff-effects, fast healing and healing (the latter with a 2 round delay-mechanism - interesting!) as well as beneficial mood lighting. Reflexive damage + dazzle when targets of a locus are hit by attacks and eliminating diseases and poisons also make for interesting choices. Now the coruscation locus is more combat-centric - duplicating color spray, unleashing deadly blasts of atomizing light and blinding light make for interesting choices. On a design paradigm level interesting, one locus allows you to regain limited radiance points of spent loci when reducing foes below 0 hp, meaning that the ability can't be cheesed or kitten'd via well-travelled loci - nice way of preventing abuse there. Dazzling and blinding of foes are often accompanying effects of this, and the negation of concealment as well as causing "catching fire" (akin to alchemist's fire) with coruscation loci can mean a nasty drain on an enemy's action economy. Interesting.

The illumination locus allows you to e.g. charge and increase the damage-output of the next damage-dealing locus you cast, net yourself darkvision, infuse texts with appropriate bonuses to skills or even "store" a d20 roll and later substitute it. The Manipulator philosophy has some truly unique options as well - take for example the possibility of subverting and hijacking summoning spells - damn cool! Subverting enemy morale also makes for a cool idea - as does intensifying conditions - making the relatively useless dazzle-condition blinded instead, upping entangled to staggered - really cool, especially since the save varies on the condition intensified! Also rather unique - clouding the minds of foes, causing them to treat all targets as if subject to concealment. Ignoring the immunity of mind-affecting effects at the cost of shadow points also makes for a cool idea, somewhat analogue to DSP's dread class. Also rather nasty - one high-level locus that is the equivalent of mass-haste for allies and mass-slow for adversaries. Causing the shaken-condition via images of "spiders, mothers-in-law" and similar horrific images made me chuckle and manipulating weapon-hands is interesting - a word of warning, though - if a target's HD exceed those of the antipodist, they may instead receive a buff! Now while this may look like an strange design decision, it also opens an uncommon way of using the class - cohorts and similar followers may actually end up as buff-specialists for their masters, with minor manipulation thrown in the mix. Interesting!



Now the Obscurity philosophy, of course, is the go-to toolbox of stealth-focused tricks - from turning into smoke and instantly moving 5 ft. per class level (to e.g. escape from the guts of a huge creature that has swallowed you whole), entangling globs of greasy darkness, dual short-term reflexive shaken/blindness - so far, so good. What about beginning an insurrection of shadows, resulting in a target receiving additional weapon damage when hit by a target for the first time in a given round? This philosophy has also perhaps one of the most powerful passive abilities of the whole class - once per day, your shadow dies instead of you when first reduced by something that required an attack roll reduces you below 0 hp. (Of course, the shadow regenerates, rendering this a neat type of life-insurance, though your shadow's absence may severely limit some of your options...) Shadow evasion and granting a weak sneak attack can be considered rather cool options as well, rendering this philosophy probably one of the go-to choices for thieves and those versed in the lore of the underworld - tag-teaming with your shadow to ignore the movement-penalty of difficult terrain does make for cool imagery.



The Refraction philosophy allows for 1st level invisibility via bend light, with the added caveat that taken items (up to 10 ft. sticking away from your body) also become invisible. Now while the mechanics of parabolic dishes may not be particularly elegant (not a fan of opposed rolls in PFRPG), it works mathematically here - d20+BAB+Wis-mod+deflection bonus to AC (e.g. granted from the hovering parabolic dish) against incoming rays - if you win, you can catch and return the ray to its sender, destroying the dish. Generally, this one can be thought as the most defense-focused of the philosophies, with quite an array of e.g. AC-bonus netting and even mirror image-like loci. An abuse-safe retribution-spear can also be found among the loci here. The Umbral Embrace philosophy is probably the most sinister of the respective philosophies - a lot of the loci impose negative levels and e.g. darkness rising even further penalizes saves against the ability depending on the amount of negative levels accumulated. One of the more iconic loci would e.g. allow you to conjure forth the literal sandman to put your foes to sleep and another generates an anti-duplicate of the target that crashes into it for massive damage.

The Twilight philosophy is rather peculiar in its general versatility, allowing you to increase the potency of loci when alternating between light and dark loci. Increasing the point cost of loci in order to have them apply to additional targets also makes for versatile options and adding swift action dimension doors to the casting of 4th level loci also offers some unique tactical tricks. A sneaking, auto-flanking weapon of shadow, a bolt that can be modified as belonging to any type of philosophy - the twilight philosophy is probably the most versatile and diverse of the philosophies.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard with fitting stock art and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - with actual, nested bookmarks, rendering navigation easier than in many IG-pdfs.



The Antipodist was a surprisingly tough pdf to properly take apart - and this is mostly due to the pyramid rule and the slight modifications one may apply to its progression via retraining. Now shadow magic, as introduced back in the 3.X days of old, was a high-concept idea, flawed in its execution, and the antipodist provides a distinct array of tools that are significantly better balanced. While generally defense-friendly due to the option to go armored caster, the bad saves and otherwise subpar base stats of the class maintain and enforce one basic concept - the antipodist is what I'd call a trick-class. That means both that it is somewhat tricky in that you should carefully consider your advancement through it, but also that it lets you pull off interesting tricks beyond the capability of other classes. Much like the (scarce) good parts of shadow magic of days gone by, the antipodist offers some very unique options, cool imagery and goes beyond the original, tight focus, by adding in the concept of duality and specialization.



More interesting, though, would be the option to radically change philosophies mid-game and essentially reboot the character and choices made throughout the PC's career. This flexibility is in my book the most impressive component of the class alongside the cool twilight tricks. Now if I were to complain about one component of this pdf, it probably would be the antipodist's so far limited (though by no means TOO limited) selection of foci when compared to full casters, but then again, there's always the chance there'll be expansions for this guy down the line. The pyramid rule and whole theme of the class, blending mechanics with the proverbial metaphysical journey also proves to be gold for roleplaying - in the hands of a capable player, these guys can really, really shine, tying the acquisition of powers on level ups to key moments in the campaign.



The handling of one or two pools remains a relatively simple affair, so apart from planning for cool combos (especially with twilight-antipodists), the class is relatively simple to wrap your head around when compared to other IG-releases. So how to rate this latest piece by Bradley Crouch then? Well, to cut a long ramble short in its tracks - this is the shadowcaster class I always wanted.

Its odd options more often than not go a step beyond what can be done with spells and quite a few loci have this cool "see what I did there"-flair. Add to that the cool condition dispersal/identification-options and we have a winner, though one that imho misses one damn cool option - as written, edgewalkers and antipodists, while thematically similar, have no overlap apart from their pools. Some sort of synergy between waypoints and loci would have been damn cool and made the whole system much more modular (and rewarded those who have both books) - perhaps something to consider for a future expansion? After all, the system per se is similar and the other way round, using loci as waypoints, would have been interesting as well. Now yes, this probably would have been a nightmare to balance, but still - if it's not done some day, I'll probably do it myself to render the shadow magic as intangible and unpredictable as possible. Now consider this a the spoiled whining of one jaded reviewer, though - this class is still a damn fun option and quite simply the shadow magic we always wanted. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Antipodist - Radiant Shadowsage
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The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:11:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Cartomancer gets d6, 4+Inst skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor (receiving arcane spell failure in all pieces of armor/when using shields s/he is not proficient with, but none with those s/he is proficient with), 1/2 BAB-progression and good will-saves. The class being card-based, its hand-size increases from 2 to 6 over the 20 levels, while the active deck composition (least/lesser/greater) starts at 4/1/0 and amps up to 23/10/5 at level 20 - but how does this cartomancy work?



First of all, you don't have to be afraid of this class requiring a specific deck of cards - as the class specifies, it's not what's ON that card, but rather the cartomancer's narrative that's associated with it that makes the magic work. The cartomancer's magic is called "portents" - these are surprisingly treated as divine magic (even though the cartomancer suffers from arcane spell failure chance in equipment s/he's not proficient with) and are spell-like abilities, completely with associated schools of magic and thus can be enhanced via items, feats, etc. Portents can be counterspelled by any spell of the same school as the associated school, an extremely important distinction to regular spell-like abilities, which cannot be counterspelled. Least portents count as 1st level spells, lesser as 2nd level and greater as 4th level spells for the purpose of concentration. Each portent has a somatic component and requires a Cha of at least 11, 12 and 14 to use the respective portents. Cartomancers instantly know all portents, much like clerics get access to their whole array of spells. Saves, if applicable, are higher than spells - 10 + 1/2 class level+cha-mod.



A cartomancer has a so-called active deck, which includes the cards s/he can use this day - and has to adhere to rules: No duplicate portents (though at 11th level, 2 least portents may be in the active deck at the same time. The deck must include 2+class level least portents, 1 lesser portent + 1 for every two levels beyond 1st and starting at 4th level, also one greater portent +1 for every 4 levels beyond 4th. To change the composition of the active deck, a cartomancer requires 8 hours rest + 1 hour study, but does not need to study to refresh the daily uses of her active deck - just 8 hours of sleep suffice. Since a cartomancer knows all cards, the cards not included in the active deck of the day are called "collection."

Playing a card (and AFTER THAT unleashing the portent) also may deviate from how spell-like abilities usually work - some portents can be played as swift or immediate actions and these do not provoke AoOS, while those that require a move action or a standard action do provoke AoOs. So yes, the playing of a card is one effect, the portent unleashed another - counterspelling the portent does not cancel the effect from playing the card. Cards that are played go into the discard pile - and whenever the cartomancer plays a card, all cards of a lesser type than the one played (i.e. lesser and least if you play a greater card, least if you play a lesser card) are shuffled back into the active deck, adding further strategy, especially since there are effects associated to discarding certain types of cards and discarding the cards to produce such an effect does NOT trigger the reshuffling. Now to play a card, a cartomancer must draw it from the active deck into the hand, which can be done once per round as a move action as long as you have not reached your maximum hand size. There would also be the terminology "Reveal", which flips up the face of the uppermost card of your active deck. More on that later.



Starting at 1st level, cartomancers may 3+cha-mod times per day tell a fortune, for good or ill, providing one of 20 random insight-bonuses, with 1, 13 and 20 reversing the effect. The insight bonuses last for class level X 10 minutes and the process takes 1 minute per fortune. Cartomancers also get a fatespinning pool at second level, amounting to 1/2 class level +wis-mod points. Whenever a cartomancer uses such a point, the cartomancer rolls on the aforementioned table. At 3rd level, the cartomancer can tell his/her own fortune, Starting at seventh level, +1 use of the ability allows the cartomancer to roll twice and make both effects come to pass, whereas at 9th level, +1 use can result in rerolls of all but 1, 13 and 20s (those can only be rerolled at 19th level) and at 17th level, telling fortunes can be rushed to only take a full-round action, but also shortens duration to 1 minute per level and requires the target's consent. These modifications do not require additional ability expenditures when applied to the cartomancer herself and at 13th level, the class gets an upgrade for the bonuses/penalties to +2/-2, respectively.



Points of fate can be used in various ways - as a standard action to look at the top 3 cards of the deck; as a swift action, to draw a car; play a lesser portent as a move action, but only when also playing a greater portent in the same round, or play a least portent as a move action, but only when playing a lesser or greater portent in the same round. Starting at 2nd level, cartomancers also get access to a seal, +1 every 4 levels thereafter. These talent-like abilities also have a fate points cost, often a minimum requirement, and require you to discard a card to kick off their effects. The more powerful the card, the better the effect. DCs, if applicable ,are 10 +1/2 class level + wis-mod. Each seal has a different activation action, with actions ranging from swift actions to full-round actions and a total of 12 seals are provided.



To give you an example what these can do: The "Seal of Pentacles", which costs 1 point of fate, actually makes crafting mundane items much more feasible - the duration lasts for 1 day and increases production speed by factor 2 for least, 4 for lesser and even 10 for greater portents discarded. The "Seal of Persistent Fate" is also interesting, allowing you to exchange a card on your hand with a portent of equal power from your discard pile at the cost of one point of fate. The "Seal of the Read Palm" on the other hand would be a chaotic debuff, allowing you for 1 point of fate and a standard action, to apply Tell Fortune-benefits (or penalties) for 1 minute per class level to a target within 30 feet, with. Granting retroactive skill-bonuses (1d3, +1d6, greater also to saves) to atk and skill-checks as an immediate action also makes for a very interesting ability. 10th+ level cartomancers may also spend 3 fate points to create a 1-minute persisting 1-charge wand that they can share with allies, with divine casters treating the granted portent (which is chosen from the discard pile) as being on their spell-list for UMD-purposes. While I would have preferred an explicit statement clarifying that activation of the wand follows the wand-rules and not the portent's, that is arguably a very minor nitpick and hence won't influence my final verdict.

As a capstone, the class can discard lesser portents for 1 fate point, greater portents for 5 fate points - okay, but not as cool as most Interjection Games-capstones. We also get FCOs for Aasimar, Drow, Hobgoblins, kobolds, Orcs, Tieflings and Puddlings as well as the standard races. It should be noted that the half-orc's benefit requires greater portents to work, but taking it prior to access to the card type will render it more powerful.



We also get a massive array of 26 feats for the cartomancer - these add further gambits to the cartomancer's arsenal. Remember the ability to place two copies of the same least portent in the same active deck? Well, if one of the two is in the discard pile and the other on your hand, 2 points of fate let you look through your deck for said second card and put it in your hand. Increased hand sizes, -2 least portents for +1 lesser portents (and analogue, for greater portents), shorter duration for penalties incurred by telling fortunes, increased bonuses/penalties for telling fortunes, better DCs for seals, using fate points to target additional creatures with portents that are eligible targets and within 10 feet of the first target. Interesting would be Morning Rush, which adds + 2 to max hand size when drawing a hand in the morning, but also increases drawing cards from a move action to a full-round action whenever your hand's empty. Interesting risk-reward scenario. Using seals to draw a least portent from the discard pile is also an option in here (including abuse-proof caveat). Also interesting would be "Fate by Association", which lets you spread all Tell Fortune outcome rolls applying to one target within 3o feet to all other creatures within 10 feet of the first target - will-save negates and shorter duration, but still - interesting. The improved version even takes the save away from adjacent targets and further expands the AoE - this feat in particular can be used for some VERY nasty combinations. My favorite feat, though, would be one granting you a Monty Deck - it's Kobyashi for your foes: Choose one of three cards (this deck can be used 1/day, does not go in the discard pile and has no interactions with your regular deck) - 1 is a lesser, 2 are least portents. If the lesser is drawn, it affects the target. If the least is drawn, both least portents are unleashed on the target.



Now if you don't have the print & play cards in the end of this document printed out, massive tables for use with playing cards are provided, with associated portents and power-levels all collated on one page. Prefer Tarot? 3 pages of card/portent-connections are provided for these decks as well - awesome! Better yet - the respective portents have their associated cards mentioned as well, making use at one glimpse rather easy.



Notice something? So far, the class does not look too impressive on paper. That changes right now. Quite a few of the portents have an a caveat that allows you to benefit from e.g. playing an additional, just drawn card when drawing a greater portent. The portents allow you to reflectively deal slashing damage to foes that damaged you or an ally, buff them...and generally, there are some pretty neat ones to choose from. Portents are grouped in 3 categories - least, lesser and greater. Take as example for least portents e.g. the guilt portent: When the subject attacks you, it takes force damage equal to the base weapon dice used. Or what about limiting the target's hands? Alas, not all can be considered well-balanced - take needles: These reduce movement rate by 5 ft. whenever the target moves and renders the subject HELPLESS if movement ever becomes 0. This is a dragon slayer, in spite of its ref-save. A less deadly condition would be appropriate here - perhaps an entangle-effect that also precludes movement? Now it should be mentioned that some of these have a synergy with greater portents - for example the "Spark"-portent, which has its class level x 1d4 damage upgraded to x d6 when cast in the same round as a greater portent. A better shield other, a fire aura, an auto-counterspell dependant on school, treating the next roll of a d20 as a natural 21 or as a natural 1. Multiple healing and hp-rearrangement options can be found herein as well.



Among the Greater Portents, adding damage on a target that has botched last round (sans save), adding a heal-effect to drawing cards, a glamer that duplicates full concealment (but still allows you to be targeted) - generally, these are cool. The Downfall-card does require a nerfing, though - a creature targeted takes max hp- current hp damage, max 6 X cartomancer level; While unable to kill targets, this one is a dragon-slayer. Worse, there is one that establishes a link that sees a creature die if the linked creature dies - the problem with this one is quite distinct, link kitten to enemy, kill kitten -> save or die save for dragon/emperor/whatever. This one needs some kind of HD-based connection or other limitation that prevents abuse in that regard. We also receive for example, energy-conversion, rerolls - quite a few unique tricks.



It should be noted that pages 29 -42 contain playing-card-like cards that contain all the cartomancer's unique tricks, allowing you to print them out at a handy convenience - these cards sport swords, shields and x's for easy overlook of what category they fall in. Their power-level is coded in colored borders, from least = green, to lesser = blue to greater = red.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and the pdf comes with nice thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, though not excessively so.



Bradley Crouch knows how to make complex, uncommon classes and this time around, he takes a look at the concept of a card-based class. I won't lie - I wasn't stoked to make this review. Regular Interjection Games-classes are already difficult to review and Dreadfox Games Gypsy-class back in the day took quite some time to properly analyze and so did this one - and its well and good that I took the appropriate time and tried this one out in game. The massive issue of different card-based classes would be the luck-factor of the draw and balancing this with being useful - lack of control + power makes for a rather hard design to pull off.



The cartomancer can offset a certain amount of bad draws, has unique mechanics and the limited, yet still existing level of control makes for a rather cool playing experience - in fact, a much better one than the class looks on paper. While some of the portents herein could use some minor nerfing, over all the cartomancer fared quite better than a first reading suggested - the overall performance of the class by far outclassed the gypsy and while a first reading made me gulp at some of the combos and options available, in play the class proved to be powerful, but not necessarily broken. Now it is not perfect or as streamlined as most Interjection Games-classes, the cartomancer still makes for a powerful, cool class. As for my final verdict - I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 since the class does not deserve a mediocre rating.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
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Class Expansions: Mysteries of Madness [PFRPG]
by Rachel C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2014 02:41:29
Very nice. I bought it for the Perfect Bacon, which is awesome, but actually love the Cacophony a bit more.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions: Mysteries of Madness [PFRPG]
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The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/04/2014 04:32:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revised and expanded version of the base-class by Interjection Games clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC (and a story of the genesis of this class - it has been commissioned by Preston Mitchell!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The edgewalker gets 4+Int skills per level, d8, proficiency with simple weapons, short sword, rapier, sap, kukri, shortbow and whip as well as light armors and shields. Over the 20 levels of the class it receives a sneak attack progression from +1d6 to a maximum of +7d6 at 19th level and the class gets a 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. As you can imagine, Uncanny Dodge also can be found among the class features, at 3rd level.



So, what is the edgewalker's deal? The class can be described as a martial artist with a thematic connection to light and darkness - a kind of monk/rogue blend, if you will, and more importantly, one that does not fall by the wayside. Edgewalkers at first level receive thus two pools - the radiance and the shadow pool, both at least containing one point and both using an attribute modifier (wis for radiance, int for shadow) to determine additional points for the respective pools. At 5th level and every six levels thereafter, the edgewalker receives a +2 to maximum pool size that can be freely distributed among the pools (for a net gain of +1/+1 or +0/+2)



Now as a Batman/stealth type of class, receiving evasion relatively soon should not be considered uncommon (2nd level, improved evasion at 11th level, nerfing these two and taking away any lingering sense of these components being problematic) and 6th level edgewalkers receive hide in plain sight as long as they are within 10 feet of a sufficiently large shadow. Moving hide in plain sight further down the class progression was a smart choice, rendering the balance of the class better for it. Now this still makes targeting the edgewalker with spells et al rather difficult - the class is geared rather well towards taking softer targets out.



Now beyond FCOs for core races, drow, aasimar, tieflings, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs and puddlings (all solid), we also receive 4 feats for the class, but these require explanation of the core talent system of the class: Essentially, edgewalkers start the game with two so-called waypoints known, one light, one darkness and at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the class receives an additional waypoint. Now there is a cool restriction in place here - the edgewalker needs to keep a balance between light and darkness, which translates to waypoint selection: If your light-based waypoints exceed those that are darkness-based, you need to learn a darkness-based one next and vice versa, creating a kind of equilibrium. It should also be noted that a couple of these waypoints count as either light, or darkness, depending on your needs.



The new feats can be used to gain a waypoint and do some interesting things - "Harmony of Essence" increases your effective edgewalker level for the purpose of the other type of waypoint whenever you use one, rewarding mechanically the switching between light and darkness. Luminous truth nets you the benefits of true seeing for 1 round as a supernatural effect (an effective caster level or SP as a base type would have been better, probably) and another feat allows you to alleviate one restriction of certain waypoints - some of these have asterisks, which denote that they manipulate the shadow of the edgewalker for the effect. That means only one of these can be in effect at a given time, though aforementioned feat allows you to have two of these in effect at a given time.



Now before I get towards waypoints, you should also be aware that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the edgewalker also receives a greater waypoint, which can be considered a kind of more powerful talent - one that requires some planning, for the greater waypoints also have to adhere to the light/darkness-dichotomy, offering opportunities for proper planning of character progression.



Now you're of course interested in the aforementioned waypoints and the waypoints themselves have diverse prerequisites - from none, to level-caps and other waypoints have certain skills and feats as prerequisites.. Now what can you for example make with these waypoints? Well, since there are more than 50 in here, I'm just going to note that the following is not a comprehensive list, but rather an array of options that should be considered kind of presentational for the class.



Very interesting for blocking charges and the like, "A Thousand Grasping Tendrils" allows you to, as a swift action, reshape your shadow into an array of tendrils that create a micro-aura of 10 feet of difficult terrain around you - which, of course, does not hinder you in any way. Ignoring difficult terrain and effortlessly scaling any incline less than 90° can also be done by these fellows. Another waypoint offers a dazzle against a creature you threaten - sans save, as an immediate action, useable whenever you switch between light and darkness consecutively. Armors of light (that do not necessarily enhance your stealth...), a shaken-causing breath weapon of black wind, 1 round slow at a higher save DC, better stealth, cushioning falls (the longer the fall, the higher the cost), very minor reflexive damage (plus dazzle), creating areas of demoralizing gloom and putting creatures subjected to fatigue-related negative conditions or con-damage/drain to sleep is rather interesting. Why? because for the edgewalker, rolling bad on sneak attack is not necessarily a bad thing: For each natural 1,2 or 3 rolled on such a roll, you also deal one point of con damage if you take the 8th level dark waypoint.



Now where things get interesting would e.g. be with the exceedingly cool ability that lets you set up your shadow as a flanking supplement and, quite possibly for the first time since I've been doing this reviewing thing, gets such an ability actually right. Now, with Ichor of the Firefly, the edgewalker may coat his/her weapons with virulent light that invades the bodies of target, negating invisibility etc., while also providing significant bonus damage, especially against creatures sensitive to light. Making conversely, a poison from darkness itself that scales damage-wise over the levels also becomes a distinct possibility. Speaking of said poison - if you use the dark-aligned poison, you may add a neat combo (though the following is not restricted to the darkness-based poison) that allows you to ignite the poison coursing through your foe's veins, dealing significant fire damage. Damn cool!



The equivalent of solo tactics sans requiring an ally (but only while your shadow isn't otherwise occupied) also makes for a cool array of tactical options. Want to know what's lurking round the corner, in the adjacent room etc.? What about stretching your shadow up to 60 feet and looking through its eyes? This ability, which can be taken at first level, is narrative gold and iconic in imagery!



Of course, various spell-like abilities, poison use, pillars of light that heal minor damage, motes of searing light or making your shadow the equivalent of a kind of bear trap are possible, but for me, the anti-ray/attack-roll spell Tenebrous Tango, which allows you to have spells utterly miss you - think mirror image variant with an edge. At a permanent cost of 1 point from a pool of your choosing, you may also master poisons to the extent they become more potent, making your poisons at +1 DC more lethal - and with quite a few requiring consecutive saves in PFRPG, this makes sense.



Now I did mention those greater waypoints and as you may have imagined, they are the big ones - Summoning forth several shadows from you one - cool. But more interesting would, at least for me, be the game-changer that is Cumulative Exposure - it deals automatic damage to all adjacent creatures whenever you subsequently use two waypoints. Using multiple dark waypoints may also yield bonuses and igniting mundane light sources to emit blinding flashes makes for a cool idea and better light/darkness poison/ichors are lethal and cool - what about e.g. an ichor that makes the target suffer from miss chances galore, but also receive an applicable miss chance as it becomes insubstantial -nice reflection of the duality-theme in the crunch here. Now also rather awesome would be the option to steal other creature's shadows via ranged CMB to power darkness-waypoints. Cool here - the ability manages to properly prevent kitten-bag abuse. Lifelinks also are possible - ouch! Now it should be noted that, although the page-count of the pdf remains unchanged, quite a few stock artworks have been taken out of the file to make room for more waypoints, which is rather cool and adds to the arsenal of an already fun and inspired class. It should be specifically noted that the greater waypoints receiving some awesome tricks - what about establishing a link that damages a target when you are healed? Yeah, evil and oh so cool!



The capstone of the class allows you to use radiance and darkness pool interchangeably, with the on-intended pool only increasing the cost of waypoints by 1 when paid from the other pool - which seems a bit boring at first, but the capstone greater waypoints more than make up for this - raise dead sans material components, ignoring just about all immunities, DRs etc. for a time or having your shadow utterly erase a creature from existence - quite awesome imagery and tricks await at the peak of power as well!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The artwork is thematically fitting stock and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort detriment.



This class by Bradley Crouch is rather simple when compared to other Interjection Games-classes and should not overexert anyone's capability to understand it getting the class at first read-through is all but guaranteed. That being said, the edgewalker is more complex than one would assume at first glance - one can set up quite a bunch of rather interesting combos and the synergy with some abilities present in the edgewalker makes for a surprisingly unique playing experience. When I went into this class, I honestly expected either a rip-off of a certain PrC from the 3.X Book of 9 Swords or a slightly more mystical ninja.

What I got turned out to be more rewarding than either. Whereas the ninja-class is essentially a type of rogue on steroids, playing an edgewalker in game, while similar on paper, feels actually much more tactical, more rewarding. The edgewalker is a great skirmisher/trick fighter and surprisingly fun to play. My final verdict is hence based on how the class performed in actual game, on its rather cool playstyle and neat variety - add the option for easy expansion of the system and the easy to grasp mechanics and we have a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval - now that we actually get more content and the rough edges have been polished off, there is literally no reason not to get this cool class and give it a try!



(Especially since I happen to have read the Antipodist, Interjection Games upcoming take on shadow magic, and the classes WILL have some interesting synergy...)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness
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The Plaguewright: Lord of the Microscopic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/26/2014 05:36:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what is the Plaguewright all about? Well, basically, we get a 3/4 BAB-progression-class with good fort and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and syringe spears, light and medium armors and shields and when wearing shields with which the character is not proficient, it will decrease action economy efficiency of loading syringes. Now the name Plaguewright may sound awfully negative, though one should be aware that this class, as a pioneer in biology and its application in warfare, can just as well be used for good -so no, not an evil-only class.



Plaguewrights compartmentalize these weapons in containers of different sizes that hold the microbe-containers. Plaguewrights begin play with one vessel and receive another vessel at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. They also receive 1 vial at 1st level and the class receives +1 vial every level. Their difference is in container-size. A vial can contain enough culture to fuel one syringue, whereas a vessel can contain 1/2 class level +Int-mod uses.

The cultures made require a minimum intelligence score of 11+number of filled mutation slots of the given culture. The save-DC for the respective culture varies on the basic strain used. While plaguewright cultures refresh daily, they do not require sleep.



Now I mentioned strains - the Plaguewright begins play with 3 strains known and at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the plaguewright receives an additional strain. Plaguewrights also begin play with 2+ Int-mod mutations and learn an additional mutation every level.



Got that? All right! So what type of methodology do these cultures adhere to? Essentially, cultures have 1 mutation slot and increase the amount of mutation slots by +1 at 4th level and every 4th level thereafter. Now here's the catch - microbes don't grow on trees. Well, all right, they actually do, but generating cultures actually takes a bit of time.



Now since attacking (and delivering) with strains of microbes via syringes requires precision, the class also receives the scaling ignoring of DRs and as a capstones, removal and changing of mutations becomes twice as effective.



The class comes with full FCOs that also cover exotic races like puddlings, hobgoblins, kobolds, and the plane-touched aasimar and tieflings. The pdf also includes 10 different feats to further enhance the options available of the plaguewright. Faster mutation-application, increased DCs and additional mutations and strains, improved vial capacities, making hybrid strains and reloading as a substitute for an AoO etc. - quite a nice array of nice options.



Strains generally can be grouped in benignant or malignant strains (though one can be categorized as either) and the same holds true for mutations. All of the respective strains and mutations count as supernatural effects and supernatural diseases that bypass immunity to mundane diseases - otherwise, e.g. adding a mutation with the mind-affecting descriptor renders the whole culture mind affecting. The system is relatively easy to grasp. Some strains have cumulative save modifiers that actually increase, durations and symptoms - and some of the mutations are terminal; Essentially, they are the end-game effects and a separate supernatural ability to the respective culture.



So what about those strains? Take the Barbaris-strain - a benign bacteria, it provides temporary DR to the target - and duration is an interesting component here - benign strains tend to have their duration measured in an interesting way: The recipient saves every round and upon a failed save, the effect ends, but a maximum duration prevents infinite buffing exploits. Increased temporary hit points, being enabled to temporarily "fly" by making jump-like saunters, getting roid-like str-enhancements.



Among the malignant strains, we have those that cause nausea, shortness of breath, confusion -dex-damage-causing, crashing all strains and mutations for painful damage...bleed-inducing elephantitis, a virus that makes the recipient treat all creatures as if they had been subjected to a mirror image-like effect. Higher level malignant strains can induce heart-failure (with a cool mechanic - exhaustion for x rounds, once rounds elapsed > HD, the creature dies), cripple casters, mind-control parasites that make the recipients suicidal and classic flesh-eating bacteria - there are quite a few rather nasty and versatile options. Of course, as you could probably glean from these, Interjection Games' unique effects can be found herein as well - what about e.g. a damage-dealing strain that grows a nodule of skinsack, which can then be harvested as a rather effect healing potion? Yucky, yes, but also rather cool! On another level, it should be noted that the respective strains sometimes modify the amount of mutations that can be applied to them for further concerns in the customization department.



Now you should remember - these examples only covered a selection of the base strains - so what can mutations accomplish? Well - for example, they can affect creatures adjacent to those infected by the syringe at the cost of mutations applied, there are mutations that can decrease the amount of AoOs the target can perform, those that bypass even immunities to supernatural diseases and negative conditions, susceptibilities, an euphoria-inducing bliss (which translates to temporary hit points) - all of these modifications are fun to play with, but where things get REALLY nasty would be with ones that end in a terminal cloud that may infect adjacent targets - crafting a micro-epidemic of effects may actually work out for Plaguewrights that handle their craft well. Of course, similar synergy effects might also be achieved for buffing strains, though it should be noted that these imho benefit more from symptoms - when e.g. your infected ally not only benefits from the primary effects of the strain, but also kicks off with healed attribute damage? Or a fast healing added to the effect? Chances to ignore precision damage? The smart combination of a basic strain, symptoms, regular mutations and terminal boosts to e.g. atk can make for rather interesting effects and the same holds true for the possible combinations of offensive strains. Now I can see the central question - all fort-save based? Well, it's my pleasure to tell you that there are mutations to make the saves will instead.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf's artworks are thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a slight comfort detriment.



Bradley Crouch's Plaguewright is a very interesting concept - a debuff-warrior kind of akin to the glorious Maestro; I.e., a highly-customizable class that allows the player to tailor-make the buffs and debuffs of the given culture to make truly unique effects. Unlike more common options of buffing/debuffing, the sheer amount of customization and daily uses and the option to combine, realign etc. so many components makes optimizing the class interesting and allows for quite some versatility to make the right tools, for the right job. The respective strains and mutations offer for a neat array of fun options that should allow the player hours of fun in making new and unique tools to vanquish foes. Both strains and mutations are easy groups of abilities to expand for the enterprising DM (and potential future supplements, should there be any) and Interjection Games' trademark unique abilities, none of which just lamely duplicate established spells, just add a piece of icing on the cake.



Now not all is perfect here, though - the pdf could have been more precise regarding the mechanics of growing cultures with applied mutations and costs for applying syringes to other weapons (with hardness for sundering etc.) would have made this pdf even better, as would have bookmarks. These nagging points out of the way, this should not be deemed a significant detriment - the Plaguewright is still a glorious, unique class with a significant array of innovative options that, most of all, is a unique playing experience - hence, in spite of the minor flaws, this is well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Plaguewright: Lord of the Microscopic
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One Bling to Rule Them All - Scaling Magic Items
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2014 10:05:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is this pdf all about? well, first of all, it's about being against the magic item Christmas tree-syndrome - and about making magic items feel more magical. These items actually increase in power over the levels of the wielder. Scalars detect as all schools of magic at once and, if required, treat their CL as = HD of the wielder. Each scalar uses a body slot -close proximity is required for the peculiar attunement these items require. Scalars attune themselves to a master and maintain a stubborn loyalty to function only for this respective individual - until a lot of time has elapsed. Now to maintain the allegiance of a scalar, only casual contact is required. As you can imagine, actually using these items if you're not the master turns out to be rather difficult. - properly "hacking" a scalar requires quite some mastery in using magic items - and the process is actually explained in a rather smart way, providing a great explanation that actually makes sense. Auras et al also are provided - generally, scalars receive 2 Level 1 abilities, 2 from the level 5 list, 2 from the level 10 list, 1 from the level 15 list and 1 from the level 20 list. Oh yeah, scalars are jealous, so no multiple items.



Now the grand thing here is that this toolkit thus allows for relatively easy modification. However, that is not where scalars end - upon attunement, a master receives ranks to use with the scalars, equal to the amount of HDs of the respective master. The ability lines tend to have a required array of ranks - to e.g. unlock an ability that requires 4 ranks means that other abilities require a total of 4 ranks invested in other abilities. The abilities of scalars, unless otherwise noted, do not provoke attacks of opportunity.



Now scalars change the dichotomies of a given campaign's magic item-density and hence, they do come with an improved WBL-table that takes their impact on a group's power-level into account...and checking this one took ages, but the table actually is sound and should result in no change of power-level - which is exceedingly awesome for especially balance-conscious groups. Now introductions of new items/systems would be solid on the value of crunch alone, but thankfully, some cool, fluffy suggested origins for the genesis of scalars help provide DMs with inspiration in that department as well.



Now the base system out of the way, let's take a look at the abilities, shall we? There are offensive and defensive abilities, those that are constant and some that have a limited amount of uses per day - but it'll be easier to grasp if I just mention examples - Arcane Bulwark, for example: this level 1 ability nets you SR 5 +number of ranks invested. Or what about an ability that increases the amount of HD of undead a necromancer can control at a given time depending on the amount of ranks invested?Cones and lines as draconic breath weapons, increased skill prowess or movement rates, being hard to swallow, increased carrying capacities - the effects are diverse and interesting and yes, winds that impede ranged attacks - the respective abilities do provide interesting, nice options that thankfully do not just rethread old effects.



The level 5 abilities become even more interesting - take alchemical ammunition: This one actually nets you a pool of points you can use to supplement the power of the respective base items. Essentially, the points of this ability allow the wielder of the scalar to imbue ammunition spontaneously with the effects of alchemical items. Or what about being able to cook creatures slain for bonuses? Even relatively boring abilities tend to come with an interesting twist - swim bonus? May be nice. But how cool is actually getting a proper swim speed once you've invested enough ranks in the ability? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.



What about wildering among revelations? Hexes? In a neat twist, these scalars allow not only the proper codifying of core abilities, they also provide support regarding the more uncommon class options. Of course, 1/day rerolls with luck bonuses equal to invested ranks, regenerating poison, ooze alliance...the abilities are cool. And some actually made me grin - take DR against traps, aptly named "Barbarian Trapfinding" - or what about 1/day per rank halving environmental damage. Spellcasters can have elemental energy-spells and effects enhanced. And yes, better escape velocity can also be achieved.



At higher levels, scalars can make your pores excrete acid as a response reaction to being hit, generating short-range swathes of acidic mist. Alternative options would be to overcome spell resistance, increase the inertia (and base damage-dice) of a given weapons. Rather unique - rolling an asserted, increasing amount of dice at the beginning of the day and recording the result; Once you roll the type of die during the day, you can replace the roll with the recorded die-roll. Now the capstone-abilities...are brilliant. Take "Abnormal Paranoia" - this one laces ALL scrolls you generate automatically with explosive runes. What about making your scalar a remote antimagic field that does not impede the functionality of the scalar? Or perhaps you'd prefer a material component-less raise dead or ranged attacks that may ricochet. Vampiric bonus damage that heals you also is one of the possible capstones...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games 2-column b/w-standard and the art is thematically fitting stock. The pdf comes sans bookmarks at this length, which is a slight comfort detriment.



Bradley Crouch offers us a great system here - one that provides some cool, unique benefits, customization options for the respective players to enjoy - so what's not to like? Indeed, the help for DMs regarding WBL, the way the benefits scale - all of these conspire to make scalars a unique, easy to grasp system of nice choices that should not unhinge any game, while at the same time fighting the magical supermarket syndrome - and it involves the players to an extent absent in more mainstream magical items! Over all, a great, modular system that can be expanded easily by just about any DM and which most certainly would benefit from future expansions, whether made for a given home-group or in the guise of additional pdfs. Over all, a great pdf well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
One Bling to Rule Them All - Scaling Magic Items
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Tinkering 301: Pimp My Alpha
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/23/2014 07:10:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The pdf takes a cool approach to Alphas - it introduces unique customization options for Alphas via advanced inventions - these can only be applied to alphas and only one can be applied at a given time, unless it's based on another one, in which case it may replace that.



It is this new class of options that can be enhanced via two new innovations, with the first option allowing tinkers to temporarily impede the use of advanced inventions and the second allowing the tinker to remove the advanced descriptor at the cost of increasing BP cost by multiplying it with two. As a new greater innovation, you can add up to two advanced inventions to a given alpha.



Further enhancements to str or dex, more hit points are among the options here - the 18 inventions provided do not simply adhere to solid, but none-too-exciting further enhancements to existing inventions, though - what about a defense mechanism that reflexively activates to provide DR versus a type of physical damage, surprisingly not the type that dealt the damage? Yeah, mechanically interesting! Now on the side of pretty awesomeness would be an integrated beehive that, while somewhat dangerous to harvest, continuously produces honey, beeswax etc.? (and yes, that can be VERY useful!)



A dream for maximizers would be the blast-resistant plating, which allows your automatons to take damage from kamikaze, not be automatically destroyed. Allowing automatons to cannibalize limited use inventions to refresh their own daily uses also offers A LOT of options to make some tricks.



Chest-mounted, spring-loaded punching gloves, sawblades etc also allow automatons to execute combat maneuvers after hitting targets, though one of them mentions the wrong maneuver - the disarm invention instead mentions "sunder." Getting an umbrella-style static shield and rapid blasting of flasks as well as improved kamikaze avoidance. One particular protocol is also very interesting - it allows an automaton to deploy a copy of a just deployed automaton, but expends all remaining deploying capacities of the master. More importantly, the automaton may actually direct said progeny and needs no master and no explicit directive.



Now truly cool would be the inventions that overheat an automaton to continuously generate a smoke-screen or the one that always makes it possible to pin-point the master of the automaton -great narrative or fail-safe-devices!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as perfect as most Interjection Games' offerings. Layout adheres to the elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock-art.



Bradley Crouch's latest addition to the Tinker's excessive, awesome arsenal offers fun, complex options that make the Alpha stand out more - the advanced inventions offer a vast array of cool options, some of which are simply glorious - and of which we require more. Seriously, beyond further customization for the alpha, making it stand out so much more, not-so-far-advanced inventions would make for a cool tertiary class of inventions...but perhaps I'm at this points just too enamored with the tinker's options.



The content herein is damn cool, though not flawless - and I would have loved for one or two more of the unique ones, but this remains a great expansion for the tinker indeed -My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tinkering 301: Pimp My Alpha
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Perplexing Puzzles #1: A Crystal Puzzle is Forever
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/06/2014 04:46:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look at what this offers, shall we?

As you can see, this pdf is FREE and about PUZZLES. Yes, puzzles. Remember those? You know the type that, back in the days of 1st and 2nd edition, provided the awesome brain-teasers, the food for your grey matter beyond crunching combat-numbers? Yeah. There aren't many around anymore, which I consider rather a pity - so what are these about?

Essentially, the idea is relatively simple - you have crystals and rods to poke the crystals with. There are three types of rods - one red, one green, one blue.

Crystals can have up to 4 different colors - red, green, blue and clear. Each of the rods has a specific result when poking a crystal. Taking for example a blue rod to poke a crystal will have the following results:

-It makes a red or green crystal blue.

-It makes a blue crystal clear.

-It also affects all adjacent crystals (not those diagonally adjacent) to the crystal touched.

Each rod has a different array of such rules that make figuring the puzzles out rather fun - and easily expandable.

Each Puzzle herein has a base configuration of colored crystals and a goal configuration to reach and the difficulty ranges from child's play to challenging - the penultimate puzzle took my group about 30 minutes to get right and my guys are good at solving logical puzzles. If you as the DM can't be bothered to solve this, sample steps to solve the puzzles are provided, though it should be noted that these not always are the most efficient way to solve these.

Now if this looks rather underwhelming on paper, rest assured that it's actually fun if your players enjoy actually thinking and flexing their mental muscles. I know my players enjoyed it enough to to make me make puzzles like these the basic technology of hotwiring the creations of one particular ancient civilization in my game.

While primarily intended as a mini-game while waiting for the one guy who's late, the 5 sample puzzles provided can easily be expanded by an enterprising DM to include many, many more. A total of 4 pages of dot-cut-outs to represent crystals is provided as well, if your players need a visual cue - for advanced groups, I'd suggest not providing these, since it makes the task slightly more complicated and is a nice memory-training exercise.

Now the pdf also offers some advanced tricks - If your players have too hard a time, provide a multi-colored rod that can change colors - especially nice if your PCs failed to find one of the rods. If you're sadistic (or to reflect botched UMD-checks, there is a variant which changes a random crystal's color every 5 moves. This should NOT be used for the more complex puzzles, though - your players won't be happy about it. Finally, there is a kind of template for a golem who can be tuned to a color, with different special attacks based on the crystal color they're attuned to.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor non-standard rules-language in the end, that is not something problematic or grievous in a free product. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has rudimentary bookmarks.

Okay, I'll come right out and say it - I love this pdf. A) It's FREE. B) It inspired me - the possibilities of this deceptively simple system are endless - more complex patterns of crystals? Possible. A Ziggurat that needs to be solved, with crystals strewn throughout the dungeon, requiring exploration to get the pattern and then solve it? Possible. Creatures that have superb defensive powers (Vastly increased DR etc.) and need to be solved first, requiring attacks with the rods while they try to bash you to smithereens? Possible. The potential of this humble little book is staggering and it simply is FUN. Now granted, if your players don't enjoy logic puzzles, then this might not be for you - but come on, give it a try. Remember those days when gaming was a teaser for the intellect as well as the imagination, from the time to which we point when we tell ourselves that gamers are above average in intelligence. Unleash your nerd and dare to use some fun puzzles - you literally have nothing to lose with these - they're for FREE and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - an awesome free product by Bradley Crouch.

Interjection Games currently runs an awesome Kickstarter - search for "Strange Magic".

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Perplexing Puzzles #1: A Crystal Puzzle is Forever
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Prestigeous Organizations: The Order of the Nullblades
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/01/2014 06:46:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what are the Nullblades? Essentially, they can be considered an organization fiercely opposed to the MACS-suffering casters - megalomanical arcane caster syndrome that tends too infect just about every high-level spellcaster. You know the drill - the point where the friendly arch-wizard experiments a bit too much and makes the fabric of reality unravel, transforming the town of Bimberton into undead oreo-cookies. And this makes sense in-game to me - there would probably be an organization like this, annoying, harassing and potentially, eliminating spellcasters they deem an issue. The organization and its stance on members, relationships with other classes, buying potions (only from bards and alchemists!), the chance of there being a chapterhouse in a given settlement - 6 possible amenities to be found in a chapterhouse - all of these (and the at times hilarious humor) render the organization a joy to read and highly entertaining. That being said, I'm a bit sad that chapterhouses don't have an influence on a settlement's statblock/kingdom building rules-information or prestige-mechanics based benefits - there's a hierarchy and benefits, why not codify them in the given system?



Oh well, the pdf also features a new 10-level PrC, the Nullblade, which provides full BAB-progression, 1/2 fort-save progression, d10, 2+Int skills per level. The class gets a 15 feet-lead-based aura that hampers concentration (and extends to 30 feet at later levels, increasing its potency throughout the PrC-progression) and become immune to lead-poisoning and more resilient versus diseases and toxins. furthermore, they may detect and identify magic a will and may choose up to 5 techniques (the talents of the class) over the course of their ten levels. A total of 20 techniques are provided for the PrC. These include preventing the teleport of foes, dealing damage to foes that fumble concentration, granting himself temporary SR and even forcing foes to stutter-cast, i.e. only be able to cast the last spell they cast for a round - a bunch of powerful, yet never overpowered abilities here. And, as a capstone, how could it be any other way - antimagic field-generation.



We round off this pdf with two pregenerated NPCs complete with story-hooks, background, appearance and tactics, reaching a neat level of detail one usually only sees in releases by Raging Swan Press. First would be Drimble Underhill, a fighter 6/Nullblade 3 halfling, second would be Cerabiel, an elven bard (arcane duelist)7/bard 2/nullblade 4 - a surprisingly varied and cool build, if I may say so.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a slight bummer. The pdf's artworks are thematically-fitting stock art.



Bradley Crouch has humor - I've rarely enjoyed the subtle (and not so subtle) jibes herein, but rest assured - this is no joke. Indeed, this PrC ranks among the better takes on the innumerable anti-magic archetypes and PrCs I've read over the years and the Nullblade, honestly works rather well. The organization makes sense, the NPCs are neat and the PrC does what it sets out to do - make a magic-bane fighter. Now not all is perfect, as mentioned above - kingdom building/prestige/settlement-rules would have been the icing on the cake. Then again, this pdf is FREE. FREE is very hard to beat at this level of quality and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestigeous Organizations: The Order of the Nullblades
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Under the Knife: The Grafter, a Tinker Prestige Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/29/2014 04:13:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Tinker-expansion clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's check out the Grafter!



Mechanically, we have a 5-level PrC with 10 ranks heal, 7 ranks knowledge (engineering), skill focus (heal) and 3rd level invention/blueprints as prereqs. The class gets d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-and fort-saves and 4+Int skills per level, but ONLY heal and intimidate as class skills. They also get full invention-progression, with the important caveat that BP per blueprint DO NOT increase via grafter level.



Got that? All right. At first level, a grafter gains a grafting pool equal to class level X 3. These points can be used as BP to apply inventions to the grafter's own body when preparing inventions and do not replenish, unless the grafter removes a given graft to free points. Inventions with limited uses per day refresh upon blueprint-preparation and at 3rd level of the class, the grafter may apply grafts to others as well. Inventions that require activation also require at least int 3 (no grafted oozes, sorry) or int 11 on behalf of the controller in the case of controlled unintelligent foes (like undead). This also provides an interesting precedent for similar master/minion relationships with other creatures such as constructs. A given creature can maintain a total of grafter's int-mod in BP as grafts at a given time.



Now there are restrictions - skill bonuses, class skills and proficiencies cannot be granted via these grafts and any untyped bonus for an automaton becomes an enhancement bonus for an intelligent grafted creature. If a graft requires a given feat via an invention and the base creature also has that feat, it can take the follow-up invention as a graft, but graft-granted abilities cannot be used as prerequisites to qualify for feats etc. Got that? Good!



At first level, the grafter also learns to add int-mod to wis-mod regarding heal-skills (NOT a fan of two attribute-mods to one skill). As you may have noted, grafters can be somewhat neutered in their grafting capabilities by their graftees simply walking away - this is remedied at 3rd level, when they get full control over their grafts, allowing them to declare them obsolete when resting and thus making them break/reclaim their grafting BP...which allows for nice roleplaying potential: "Yes, Mr. Ogre...I can graft you so you can eat those knights in the castle." *ogre flies off with rotor* "I declare it obsolete." Ogre falls...far. (Though this does, unfortunately, not work - design-inventions can't be grafted...)



At 4th level, the class nets those grafted with 5 BP or more one of 5 bonuses (HP, CMD, fort, COn or natural armor) as long as they remain enhanced by you. At 5th level, the grafter may artificially increase his graft-pool temporarily by expending his infuse automaton ability, allowing for even more flexibility in that regard.



It should also be noted that the grafter at 2nd level learns a so-called implant, essentially an invention that can only be applied to organic beings and not automata. He also learn another one every class level after that (though it should be noted, that, like regular inventions, only one of a kind can be applied to a given being, i.e. no doubling of a given implant on a creature). Some of these have level restrictions as well.



I was talking about implants. What about an adrenaline injection unit, that nets a bonus of +4 to Dex (or Str...) for one round as a swift action class levels x 2 per day times? Vastly improved carrying capacity? A nose-installed flame-thrower? (If you're like me and grew up with Sonic, remember the final boss of Sonic & Knuckles and chuckle...) A limited use +5 insight bonus to attack? Limited times per day auto-succeed saves versus toxins and diseases, even if you have failed the save? Immunity to fear at the cost of gaining no morale bonuses? Fortification-like metal plates that help versus sneak attacks? Simply more Hp? Auto-heal via stimpack when reaching 0 hp (but not when dying immediately)?



The most powerful of grafts allow you to grant yourself (and others) dragon-like energy lines (and even cones!) as breath weapons and implant artificial brainstems that temporarily revive your minions as double HD fast zombies that retain their weapon and armor proficiencies - great if your villain just has to run...or if your fighter has no scruples about that sort of last ditch-effort to take down a villain...



Now, I know what you're asking - how does the PrC play with all those inventions? Well, there are (as can be imagined in such a wide field) some cases, where the interaction between inventions and implants, for example, take a VERY experienced player to handle. Take Augmented (or Definite) Structure: +1 Hp per HD of the base-creature at 2 BP cost. Does that one stack with the structural augmentation implant for +5 maximum Hp at 1 BP? (Answer: Yes it does - bonus-types stacking...) What I'm trying to say here is -know the rules, tinker and this book - this is complex as hell.



It should be noted that by now, prior ambiguities as to e.g. arms/legs etc. and inventions have been cleared up and via the now established transparency between implant and invention-usage, another source of potential confusion has been streamlined away.



The revised rules also properly cover action economy for graftees of varying intelligences by being treated like an alpha using the invention, thus eliminating some of the ridiculously action-economy breaking potential builds I could construct. Great to see this smoothed and made work!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Artworks are thematically-fitting stock.



Okay, Bradley Crouch's Grafter's V.1.0 struck me as awesome, but unrefined. I wrote a review and then, life happened. For a time, I was actively out of the reviewing game as you may know and then, I get back and I find this beast. I check back...and by now it actually works. At least I couldn't, from the top of my head, break it and reading this revised edition provided no angle for me to break this beast -and this deserves accolades. No, seriously. Fixing glitches to provide a better experience for one's customers is great, especially when always trying to stretch the boundaries by trying insanely complex rules-stunts and classes and actually getting the job more than done deserves applause. The grafter as such took a mind-bogglingly complex base class and made it more complex while also opening its benefits up to other classes, adding some significant value to your tinker-class in game. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Under the Knife: The Grafter, a Tinker Prestige Class
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The Brewmaster: Life of the Party
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2014 10:13:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base-class by Interjection Games clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The brewmaster base-class gets proficiency with simple weapons, martial reach weapons, martial bludgeoning weapons and light/medium armors and shields, but not tower shields, d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level, a good will-save and, surprisingly, full BAB-progression.



A Brewmaster starts game with 2 casks and increases that number by +1 for every 3 class levels up to 8 at 20th level - but what store in the casks? Well, beverages, of course! Homebrew, to be precise! That this stuff is potent (and can vary in effect) can anyone attest who had the joy of tasting some different types of hembränd sprit - but the brewmaster's draught is...different.



So, how does homebrewing work within the context of this pdf? Well, there are essentially a couple of things to bear in mind: Each cask must contain a sugar and a fermenter and may contain additionally a single clarifier and up to a number of additives as prescribed by the fermenter. So far, so simple!



Sugars dictate how often a cask can be used - essentially, sugars determine the charges and also determines the primary benefit. Brewmasters start game with 2 sugars known and add +1 at 2nd level and every 2 levels after that. Fermenters determine how long the brewing takes and how long the buzz, being "roaring drunk" as determined by the alcohol level, lasts. Brewmasters start game knowing all of them.



Additives modify being roaring drunk and often scale with the drink's alcohol level. They also "Each additive has a "minimum quality level", that is, they have no effect in a homebrew"...and this is where the sentence ends - which should have probably gone on to describe that a brewmaster requires a minimum class level to use them. Unless otherwise stated, only one additive per homebrew. A brewmaster starts with 2 additives known, +1 per level.



One clarifier can be added to a drink after it has matured and generally have significant influence on the homebrew. A brewmaster learns the first clarifier at 4th level, +1 every 5 levels after that. Thus, over 20 levels, the brewmaster learns up to 12 sugars, 21 additives and 4 clarifiers.



In order to prepare a given homebrew, the brewmaster must have a minimum wisdom score of 10+the total number of ingredients in the cask, with saving throws, if applicable, being against 10+1/2 class level + wis-mod. Non brewmasters can benefit from casks as well, but gain no benefit from effects modifying the brewmaster's class features if they don't have them themselves. Tricks to consume potions faster do work, but if that results in a required action only being a move action, swift action or less, the faster consumption spills 1 additional dose, essentially consuming 2 uses instead of one, with the second being just spilled. This is a very cool balancing mechanism in my book!



Okay, so what about the brewing process? This one includes essentially 3 phases - The first phase would be the fermentation phase - a fermenter determines, when a dink is good and when not - a drink has either a poor, a good, or a perfect quality, depending on the speed of the fermentation and the number of days the drink had to age. After waiting until either poor, good or perfect result can be yielded, boiling is initiated - here, additives are added. Then, conditioning begins - here, we calculate the brewing DC. This one consists of the base sugar's base DC, modified by fermenter, clarifiers and additives. Then, you make a d20+level+wis-mod check - if you fail, quality can degrade by one or two steps (or even totally ruin the homebrew), potentially modifying which additives work out in the end. The table with degrees of failure and overall system make for a nice, planning-rewarding risk-reward-system here. The handy table listing the qualities by fermentation speed along the days is extremely handy here as well.



Now, I've mentioned before being "roaring drunk" - this is the result of drinking from a cask, lasts for alcohol level rounds and is somewhat akin to a rage (+2 Str, Con, will-saves, -2 to int/wis-based skill checks), increasing by +1/-1 at 4th level and every 4 levels after that to a maximum of +/-6 at 16th level. When already this drunk, drinking further from a cask nets the character an extended duration for the effect, while drinking from a cask when the remaining rounds of being roaring drunk exceed class level, the brewmaster gets sick instead, potentially barfing on the baron's carpet...or the dragon's favorite coin-pile.



Brewmasters add 1/2 class level to max HP and also get this bonus to saves versus spoiled/poisoned food and similar ingested threats. Starting at 5th level, the brewmaster can accelerate a cask to immediately ferment 1d4 days 1/day, +1/day every 5 levels up to 3 accelerated fermentations per day - though one cask can only be accelerated 1/day. At 7th and 13th level, brewmasters learn to mitigate aforementioned spillage from fast drinking.



At 11th level, the class gets Brew Potion as a bonus feat and counts his class levels as caster levels for the purpose of this feat - he can bypass the spell-requirements usually required, naturally (since the class is no caster), but that requires more money. He also counts as having class level ranks in spellcraft for the purpose of identifying potions and produce potions much, much faster at higher levels. As a capstone, the class can create instant-perfect, improved homebrew.



The class comes with favored class options for the base races, drow, hobgoblins, orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, tieflings, puddlings and aasimar. Brewmasters may also select from 10 feats, which include extra sugars, additives, clarifiers, offsetting the penalty to wis-based skills while drunk (instead applying it to dex-or cha-based skills), better potion-spell-requirement-bypassing, get full 4 hours of work done while adventuring, +2 to brewing checks, +2 to damage while drunk, +4 to fort-save vs. saves to become sickened or spike potions with alcohol (triggering roaring drunk).



So what about those fermenters - this is perhaps best explained with one example, so I'll provide one: Dwarven Breakfast Blend is a fast fermenter, which means alcohol level 3 on day one (perfect), 2 at day 2 (good) and one at day 3 (bad) - after that, the cask spoils. Other fermenters have Poor 3, Good 4 or Perfect 6 as alcohol levels. Brewing DC-modifiers are either +0 or +3 and the number of additives the fermenters allow ranges from 1 to 3. It should be noted that each fermenter comes with a nice bit of awesome, often hilarious flavor-text.



Now on to the sugars, shall we? It should be noted that several sugars herein feature a base level prerequisite and some of them also require a set amount of ranks in a given skill in order to utilize - a handy table sums these up for your convenience. Base brewing-DCs range from 3+1/2 level to 11+1/2 level and the sugars have varying effects depending on the quality of the homebrew ingested.



But what exactly do these sugars do? Well, let's take at the level 8 Barrel Cactus Fruit Sugar - upon imbibing a homebrew made with this sugar, a timer starts - 2, 5 or class level rounds. The first charge attack you make within this time frame allows you to end your charge with one additional attack at your highest BAB -essentially allowing for two attacks at the end of a charge. While thankfully including a caveat against stacking with pounce etc., the additional attack could still use some clarification - do the modifications to atk of a charge still apply to the second attack? What about the bonus to bull rush? And more importantly, what about mounted brewmasters and lances? Would both attacks count as mounted charges or would the second attack granted count as a regular melee attack?



Belchweed allows you to belch at foes in melee, temporarily sickening them on a failed save, at level 11+ even potentially sickening multiple foes in a small area - cool! Also rather interesting would be sugars that allow you to deal attribute damage - sans save. While usually, I'd go bananas over this, the mechanics are interesting here - the roaring drunk class feature's morale bonuses are temporarily mitigated, instead allowing you to deal half this bonus as damage to attribute(s) depending on the sugar, but only with the first attack, making stacking of such damage harder. Powerful, yes, but at required level 9 not broken.



Blue Agave is a nice risk/reward gambit - when drinking from this cask and executing a full-round action, you may elect to provoke an AoO from all eligible targets to get an additional attack at your highest BAB. However, if you're hit, all your attacks receive a penalty to atk -from -3 to -1, depending on the quality. And no, no stacking with haste et al. Not all sugars are offensive - there's also essentially medicinal alcohol that can burn diseases from your system by allowing for a new save. If you fail, though, you'll take damage. Another sugar nets you a fiery (or ice-cold! Or acid!) breath weapon that you can use in lieu of a charge or full attack action's attack. It's a bit strange that the fire-sugar requires 5 ranks along as level 6, while neither the cold, nor the acid-damage dealing one has a skill prerequisite. Another sugar makes a drink essentially a thrown weapon of tarry goo - neat! Healing homebrews are also possible (including caveats that undead shouldn't drink these...)...



Short-grain and its bigger brother, long-grain Rice laced with Koji also deserves mention due to a strange mechanic: All physical damage beneath a low threshold is ignored. Starting at 2 at the lowest quality and increasing by +1 for every 4 class levels (or starting at 2 and increasing every 2 class levels at perfect quality), all attacks that deal below these damage are ignored. So, like DR? No. All attacks that surpass the threshold deal full damage. Now per se, I like this mechanic, but it does have its issues - if a character has resistance to a given physical damage due to DR, does it apply first or after the drink's effects? Also, this one lacks a duration.



Minor buffing, increased speed, creating a fast-healing granting cloud of vapors, a lesser bonus (scaling up to lesser true strike)-style bonus to one attack (class level of the brewmaster) and a sugar that temporarily nets you spring attack and shot on the run make all for interesting options. On the interesting side, creating difficult terrain and the schadenfruit that heals you whenever an ally within range takes more than 10 points of damage make for fun concepts. It does say something about my players when they really, really got into the latter in playtest. And no, I didn't find a way to break the latter. Another sugar allows you to wreck foe's armors with cumulative permanent penalties (until magical repair/Craft/Profession is received!), while the highest level sugar can allow you to ignore the effects of being below 0 hp for 1 round - and yes, even death! But only in the perfect quality - no effect whatsoever in the other two. VERY interesting!



Onwards to additives - these again have usually a class level prerequisite, with some also having skill prerequisites. They also have a minimum quality of the brew - every drink that fails to meet this standard gets no benefits from the additive, as mentioned above. They also increase the brewing DC of the respective homebrew from +1 to +5. Oh, and the list of them is LONG. From spell-like effects like enlarge person, stacking acid resistance, bonus to knowledge check while drunk, swim speed and similar buffs are in here, as are several tricks that mitigate the roaring drunk penalties to specific skills. Spit e.g. on your weapon to make it flaming? Yep - possible! Increased speed due to my beloved habanero peppers? Yup. And no, not going to break down all of them. If you're storming a mage academy, you might wish to choose the additive that allows you to become utterly immune to a first level spell for some time.



Finally, there would be 9 clarifiers - which modify the brewing DC by a range from -1 to +8 and include prerequisites from levels to clarifiers known. These allow you to double the effects of one additive, improve roaring drunk, lower the minim quality required for a specific additive or increase a cask's quality. Distillation (the +8 one) is also interesting - alcohol level is multiplied by the number of doses, hereafter the dose is reduced to 1 - essentially allowing you for a rather long-lasting roaring drunk rampage - but drinking cannot be faster than a standard action.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column standard and the pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, though not excessively so. Artwork is thematically fitting stock-art.



The brewmaster is a class that sounds like a joke - so let's get that misconception out of the way from the get-go: It's not. This is a fully functional, rewarding class to play. Fun, yes, but pity the fool who taunts a brewmaster! This is the class for those fans of Drunken Masters, for those players who always wanted to play the hedonistic dandy, the drunken dwarf that smashes all opposition. Now it should be noted that, at least for Interjection Games-levels, this class is VERY easy to get into. Complex and customizable, yes, but it should NOT be considered hard to get into.



Also, contrary to expectations you might have, the brewmaster is a thinking man's melee class - less in direct combat, more so in the planning of adventuring. Due to the homebrews taking some time, we have a similar experience like prepared casters - planning ahead is rewarded with this class, with more flexibility being possible, but also requiring some thought. This has two direct results - number one, the class is actually rather versatile, especially for a full BAB-class. Number two - while combat might be fun, humorous even here and there, this class still is serious - seriously fun! Now extremely simulationalist DMs should beware that the components don't need to be purchased - but for most campaigns (who glance over component pouches etc.) that should not prove a hindrance.



I seriously enjoyed the brewmaster, its unique mechanics, the nice descriptions and its unobtrusive humor - and consider it a great addition to the game...but one that has some minor glitches, as mentioned above. While no deal-breaker, they keep the class from the highest honors, making me settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.



Excuse me, it's my heritage coming through - as a Franconian (we do have the highest micro-brewery density in the world!), I think I'll have to get a beer now!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Brewmaster: Life of the Party
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Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/09/2014 04:15:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf is 68 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 65 pages of content.



Yes, 65 pages of Interjection Games-level complexity content for me to analyze. Ouch. But I won't complain - instead, let's take a look at the base-class, the Truenamer: At d6, 2+Int skills per level, d6, good will-saves, 1/2 BAB-progression, we have no doubt a full caster on our hands. The first interesting component can be found in the proficiency section - truenamers do not take the classic arcane spell failure chance, instead increasing the DC of their recitations by at least +1 (for armor/shields etc. sans armor check penalty) or otherwise by their armor check penalty. It should be noted, that, while they do get proficiency with simple weapons, no shield or armor proficiencies are part of the deal, thus imposing a feat tax. Still, an interesting design decision here.



Okay, much like the malaligned original 3.X Truenamer, Bradley Crouch's class gets access to a diverse set of codices: First would be the codex of mind body, which is essentially a starter's codex. Truenamers start game with 3 recitations from this codex and get +1 at every level. At 4th level, the truenamer gets access to the codex of artifice, with another recitation gained at 5th level and every two class levels beyond that. The third codex, the codex of far-flung spheres, is gained at 7th level, with an additional recitation every 3 class levels after that. Finally, the codex of the realized vision nets the truenamer the first recitation at 10th level, with 14th, 18th and 20th netting additional recitations. All recitations gained are subject to their respective limitations/prerequisites.



Got that? Okay, so how do recitations work? First of all: Thank all philosophies you may or may not believe in - it's not a skill-check. How that system didn't work, anyone who tried truenaming in 3.X already knows. But it does maintain the spirit - there is a so-called truenaming check: DC 7 + 3xrecitation's level. The check is essentially a d20+class level+int-mod, saves against them 10+recitation level+int-mod analogous to spells. Relearning recitations, interaction with established spell schools (via similar schools), Spell Resistance - all the interactions with regular magic/spellcasting are taken into account. And yes, defensively reciting at the usual 5-DC-penalty is also included. Now it should be noted that truenaming magic always is verbal (d'uh), but rather interesting, penalties which would apply to a similar concentration-DC are halved.

Now failure has its price - 4 laws govern truenaming magic: Upon failing a truenaming check, the truenamer incurs a penalty to subsequent truenaming checks equal to the failed recitation's level for 5 rounds. Whenever a truenamer recites a recitation one level lower than the maximum of what s/he can recite, s/he may take 10 on the check, resulting in less chaos and some degree of reliability. VERY interesting would also be the law of flowing rhetoric - a truenamer cannot have the same effect twice in play, i.e. no two same recitations. Even if counterspelled or otherwise failed, a truenamer needs to wait for the recitation's duration to have elapsed to again try to utter it - this makes durations of buffs etc. a double-edged sword...interesting. Finally, the multiverse gets annoyed by truenamers asking the same thing over and over again -each subsequent use of a given recitation per day increases the truenaming DC by +2 until the truenamer has sufficiently apologized to the multiverse (i.e. rested).

If you're like me and think: "But what about the poor linguistics-skill!" - well, at first level, if you share a language with a creature (and truly share it, i.e. not via magic shenanigans), your recitations targeting that creature get a bonus of +2 to their truenaming check. At 2nd level and every two levels after that, you also learn an additional language - which may be nice, though personally, I would have preferred a tie with the linguistics-skill, but oh well.



Now if that wasn't enough complexity for you so far, at 3rd level the truenamer gets an inflection, and another one every 3 levels after that. A total of 15 different inflections are provided. These increase casting time of an recitation to a full-round action and also increase both the DC of the truenaming check to properly cast them and the law of malleability-DC by a fixed amount. The latter would be the law that makes casting consecutive iterations of the same recitation that day harder. Essentially, these are kind-of metamagic modifications that allow you additional effects, but at the cost of not being able to pull off the same trick that often. And yes, inflected recitations count as the base recitation for purposes of the law of limited malleability. These inflections allow you to e.g. substitute a chosen energy form with another, empower recitations, increase their range, maximize them or even penalize target creature's saves by -2 as well as forcing them to reroll the save and take the worse result. As you can glean, the respective inflection vary in strength, but thankfully are concisely balanced via level-requirements.

The class also gets a bonus to saves against language-dependant spells and at 12th level, may add two inflections to a given recitation (but at a further +2 to limited malleability) and finally, as a capstone, a truenamer may 1/day per codex take 20 on a truenaming-check.



We also get truenamer archetypes - The Orator gets a modified spell-list and increases the bonus gained for speaking a creature's language at higher levels at the cost of one inflection. Instead of the 12th level inflection, he becomes harder to demoralize (and more adept in this game of chicken!) He also becomes rather adept at prepared speeches, adding int-mod to them if he had time to prepare (does not extend to truenaming!). Instead of the double-inflection-trick, an orator gets a special inflection that extends a recitation to all creatures close to the primary target of the recitation.



The Truescribe can create one scroll per available codex, containing one recitation that does not influence the law of finite malleability, essentially netting the archetype a small pool of reserve recitations (which can't be used by others btw. - no UMDing these...) These special scrolls adhere to their own set of unique limitations and, while expanded via another ability, they remain thus limited. They also become particularly adept at resisting writing-leitmotif spells and effects and later even gain a save against the dreaded explosive rune-spell. At 12th level, they even have a shorthand, which allows for a difficult UMD-check to properly use their scrolls - rather cool.



The final archetype would be the verminspeaker, who gets the shared-language-bonus versus mindless creatures (thus making him/her also an ooze-talker or golemwhisperer) as well as a vermin-animal-companion sans share spells and very limited tricks. At 6th level, they learn an inflection that allows you to use mind-influencing effects on mindless beings...which can be VERY strong in my experience. DMs should take care when throwing golems and the like at a vermin speaker... Now each of these archetypes comes with a full table, and we also get an animal companion table, which is nice. On the very minor nitpick-side, the archetypes and base-class do have varying degrees of somewhat dead levels, but at full casters and in this case, that's okay in my book.



One final thing - recitations are grouped from levels 1 - 6. We also get FCOs for all base races, drow, orcs, puddlings, tieflings, aasimar, kobolds and hobgoblins and 12 special truenamer feats. These allow you to gain additional inflections, counterspelling recitations (two feats), recitation specialization (where a follow-up feat allows you recite that one defensively, sans the +5 DC penalty) and of course there also are feats for additional recitations. It should be noted that a feat makes secret languages accessible - which depending on your campaign, might be rather cool. Check with your DM regarding that one, though!



All right, got that? Great, let's take a look at some select recitations (though I'm NOT going through all in detail - you want this review to be shorter than 10+ pages, don't you?).



The first thing you'll note in the codex of the heart and mind would be that we not only get a list of all the recitations - beyond sharing a range of 60 ft and targeting one creature and applying SR, they actually have two effects! Take the attraction-recitation: You can pull creatures 10 feet in a straight line towards you, the movement netting a +4 dodge bonus to AC vs. AoOs. The reverse instead sends the target away. So far, so obvious, right? What about slightly increasing/decreasing DR? Things become more interesting with e.g. ice-themed attack recitations that can deal damage to targets or provide a defensive, cold-damage dealing sheen? Here, we have different durations for the regular and reverse effects and both have their own conditions to reduce the damaged target's movement speeds temporarily halved. And yes, temporarily raising zombies (or destroying mindless undead) is possible.



Rather awesome would be a recitation, which makes a target a living bomb - but also makes the target realize this, allowing it to being able to minimize collateral damage. The reverse is rather special as well - this one makes it possible to negate self-destruct abilities. Beyond the tinker's kamikaze directives, think certain staves and their planes-shattering final strikes. Yes, useful and unique. Many of these recitations actually work with rather cool durations/effects that only happen on the end of a recitation's duration, necessitating actual planning on behalf of the truenamer.



Now the codex of artifice is more about item-modification, allowing you to net temporary charges to wands (or make them consume twice that amount when used), buff weapons/armor etc. A minor nitpick here - the recitations dealing with charges should probably in their reverse function double the amount of charges consumed. As written, the recitations only consume "2 charges" when activated, which becomes problematic as soon as some item has abilities that cost multiple charges - is it double the charges or +1 charge consumed?



What about instilling alchemical items with paranoia, inciting them to go off? What about making items orbiting bodyguards or imbuing items as deadly splash weapons? Ranged stealing (via proper use of CMB etc.) or protecting belongings is possible! Very cool for those ambushes in the night - make temporarily hastily donned armor properly donned and vice versa.



The codex of the far-flung spheres has a range of 100 ft and an AoE of 20 ft. and, unless the first two codices, this one has only one effect per recitation. Barring creatures from teleporting, making creatures more adept at grappling etc. - all nice. But what about yodeling and making the target area difficult terrain? Yes, funny and oh so cool! What about insta-growing plants/fungi etc. for rations? Also VERY interesting - an area that deals damage to the target in it that has the MOST hp. This one has a LOT of tactical potential!



The final codex, the codex of the realized vision, is the one closest to regular spells, with just about every recitation featuring its own formal properties like individual ranges (e.g. 60 ft., personal, touch...) etc. Animating up to gargantuan animated objects, afflict targets with crushing ennui (save or do nothing -for 5 rounds! Ouch!), creating non-weaponized spheres that can dig tunnels for you. Also interesting: Cover the floor with material that deals +3d6 damage upon falling, including being tripped! Cool for its tactical options! Asking questions to the multiverse, fabricating objects ex nihilo - quite a few options here. Oh, and there is also a recitation that erases creatures from the multiverse - but instead of save-or-suck, it requires consecutive saves over the duration. Once the target has failed 3, s/he/it's gone - cool take on the mechanic - Think about players scrambling to take down the truenamer to prevent their comrade being erased! When mechanics in themselves make for more fun/excitement, then that's a good indicator for good design! (Preventing falls with huge spongy discs can also be achieved, should you be so inclined!)



Got all that? Well, there also are three (yes, 3) new prestige classes for the truenamer. Since this review already is rather long, I'll just give you the cliffnotes-version of them, all right? First would be the 5-level Speaker of the Word, essentially a combo-divine caster/truenamer, gaining cool synergy of truenaming/channel energy and limitedadditional recitations that work similar to divine spells. Iconic! The 10-level Willshackler is very interesting - the PrC studies a certain creature type and gains so-called command words, a total of 10 are available for selection. These have a diverging DC from the standard truenaming formula and allow you to narrow possible futures to force targets to do your bidding - non-mind-influencing! These words are rather powerful, iconic and well-worth the choice! (Oh and expelling targets from the universe, utterly destroying them via the utterance of a single name makes for a neat capstone!)



The final PrC, the wordsworn defender may need to be able to recite from the codex of far-flung spheres and have significant proficiencies (martial weapons + tower shields), but essentially, it takes the concept of truename magic working better bith armor and allows you to create a truenaming knight - bonus feats, d10 and especially...tower shield specialization. Yes. the poor, often neglected tower shield actually gets some unique tricks in this PrC - I so want to make these guys a guild/order in my campaign.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as superb as usual in Interjection Games' releases - I noticed a couple of punctuation glitches that make sentences that are finished look unfinished and similar minor glitches, nothing that impedes usability, though. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though don't expect bookmarks for individual recitations. You should print this beats for your game.



When author Bradley Crouch made this one, I cackled like a mad man for a second. Why? Because Interjection Games-classes tend to be HARD to review. They're complex, there's a lot of math and complex concepts in them. I once spent a total of 4 hours on a small Prestige Class-pdf. Yeah, they're work. Experience in my campaign has shown that they're also fun. I've tried all of them so far in my game (re all I've reviewed) and they tend to bring some rather unique tricks to the table. At this length, though...ouch. A lot of work. Then, there's truename magic. From the 3 cool, but universally failed concepts from 3.X's Tome of Magic, this one was probably the worst. (though Shadow Magic wasn't much better...) Pact Magic has since, to much acclaim and praise, been taken up by Radiance House with their superb Pact Magic Unbound-series.



So here's master Crouch taking on the terribly broken truenaming...and by divorcing it from skill-mechanics while maintaining (and honestly, greatly expanding) the customizability, this type of magic suddenly doesn't suck anymore - highly variable, the duration-based necessitating of planning of recitations makes playing this class a) effective and b) terribly rewarding. Not only are the effects unique, the book suffused by a neat trademark humor, they actually allow you to do things thoroughly different from what other casters can do, while maintaining compatibility and making playing these guys actually reward proper planning.



One can see the hand that wrote the superb ethermancer (btw. - the best warlock class I've seen in any d20-iteration...) here - which, with the in-game experience I have for that class by now, works much better (and more balanced!) than even the playtest I did for it predicted. Let me say this loud and clear - this system for truenaming is great. It's modular, versatile, comes with various class-options and unique PrCs and the overall casting and recitations are so compelling, so distinct from standard options, that I can all but recommend this one - while the price-tag may seem high, I can assure you this monster is worth each cent, offering a vast array of cool options and salvaging the truenaming concept, making it actually work while maintaining its distinct identity.

Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval and a spot on my list of candidates for my top ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
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The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2014 09:52:08
The Cartomancer is an entertaining concept: he seeks to tweak Fate itself into doing what he wants. The mechanism by which this is accomplished is a deck of cards - you can use anything from Tarot cards or a regular deck to the print & play cards provided in this product. These are used to used to determine potential futures or 'portents' which act in a manner akin to a divine spell. However, the cartomancer is able to sway the outcome - for example, if he is telling someone's fortune he can decide if that individual will have good or bad luck, although what is actually going to happen is randomised rather than determined.

Naturally, whilst many of the cartomancer's abilities are wrapped up in the language of fortune-telling and divination many of them have game mechanical effects based on the alteration of die-rolls - which may be the cartomancer's own or those of someone upon whom he wishes to have an effect.

Complete with a table covering 1st to 20th level, an array of class abilities and everything else you need for a base class, loads of feats and other materials - including a custom card deck to print out if desired - everything you need to design and play a cartomancer is here. It's a good class for the mathematically-inclined, as a good understanding of probabilities will be helpful in determining just which portent will be most effective in a given situation. It also has a delight - given the way the mechanics are laid out - of being quite GM-friendly. The GM isn't required to come up with forecasts of what might happen for the character to interpret, as so often is the case with divination magic: the cartomancer is busy affecting, little by little, the outcomes of the ongoing situation.

Perhaps a little strange, but it could well be fun to play, especially if you enjoy messing with people's heads!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
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Greater Manifestations for the Ethermancer Base Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/19/2014 12:09:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the ethermancer is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this supplement with a short introduction that explains the matter at hand - essentially, the idea is to create greater manifestations as a way to nova for the ethermancer, granting x/day abilities (in contrast to the perpetual casting of the base class). These abilities impose a tax on the class, though - but more on that later.



First, we get a new multiuniversal philosophy, the multiuniversal perfectionist. This philosophy allows the ethermancer to replace a 2nd level or higher manifestation with a greater manifestation of the same etherheart and level and learns this instead. The 20th level capstone allows for all greater manifestations chosen via this philosophy to be used 2/day - a cool idea for an impressive 20th level.



We also are in for 6 new feats - one being particularly interesting - the bombardier feat allows you to deal +2d6 bonus damage with greater blast-based manifestations if you also managed to hit regular AC, not just touch AC. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one handles in-game (since one of my players currently plays an ethermancer). The feat Greater Manifestation Study allows you to replace a manifestation known of 2nd level or greater with a greater manifestation of the same level and heart, much like the new philosophy. Another feat allows you to choose an etherheart and use a greater manifestation of said etherheart a second time after you've expended it. Now Shed Alteration is a feat I know my player will take, for it allows you to dismiss the otherwise un-dismissible alteration manifestation for a point cost, while shed gifts allows you to do the same for bestow effects. Finally, weaponized shedding allows you to deal damage to your immediate surrounding when dismissing alterations and to the target, when dismissing bestow manifestations. Note though that this feat, while powerful, also is a double-edged sword - it works AUTOMATICALLY. No choice there - once taken, you ALWAYS inflict that damage. Interesting!



So what can those greater manifestations do? Well, what about one that reduces the next regular etherspell's cost to 0? Sound relatively...regular, but once you start thinking about the way you have to budget your etherspells, this becomes rather interesting. At ethermancer 5, there is also the option...to create a FRIGGIN BLACK HOLE. Yes, an insta-death orb that draws targets inside, obliterating one target totally. On the slightly nitpicky side, the manifestation does not specify whether the ethermancer can choose which target to annihilate - this is relevant since the black hole does not discriminate between targets - allies and even the ethermancer himself can potentially be destroyed by the forces unleashed. Personally, I'll settle for a random-determination...just to drive home that some forces ought to be respected (and since I consider it cooler that way) - not a deal-breaker, mind you, just a minor imperfection in an otherwise cool ability.



rather cool - clockwork universe. As a level 6 greater manifestation, it's the apex of power and damn, does it feel like it! First, you choose a star (from 5) - each star has a an EP-cost (which may be 0, though) and modifies the maximum amount of satellites available in a given system or provides a different passive benefit. You may also throw these stars as splash weapons to deal rather unpleasant amounts of damage on the target square. A given solar system can also contain up to 1/2 caster level, rounded down, satellites, chosen from an array of 8 different types. The respective satellites have their own restrictions. Just to give you an impression here - if your model contains an inhabited planet, the planet replies to a thrown satellite by launching a miniature mothership (!!!!) you can direct to attack your foes. Yes. If you're in any way like me, that not only made you chuckle, but rather grin from ear to ear. ^^ Have I mentioned that you can actually grant this manifestation to another character if you have the right feat? Yes. Passive and active, very modular, iconic in imagery - in one word: Glorious.



A maximized etherspell, an insta-kill death effect, a bestow that stuns foes with unearthly screams...cool. What's truly glorious would be Erase Physics - choose an element, erase it from the creature. Spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, resistance, damage - all gone. And yes, the wording is concise enough to make that work and yes, additional conditions etc. remain. There is also a powerful auto-buff herein and a greater manifestation to blast multiple blasts at once...Awesome.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't necessarily need them at this length.



So if you've been following my reviews, you'll be asking...why doesn't Endzeitgeist complain about the insta-death effects? Because they're more limited than regular spells, extremely high level and are based on sphere of annihilation as a model. So no matter which way I look at it, I can't complain. Speaking of which - the galaxy model is glorious. This pdf made my ethermancer player grin from ear to ear and I'm the same - this pdf offers some rather cool, new options for the ethermancer that improve the base-class with thoroughly iconic, cool tricks that just OOZE awesomeness and should be considered a must-buy for ethermancer-players and those interested in the class. And if you haven't taken a look at Bradley Crouch's ethermancer, this expansion is an excellent additional reason to do so. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Greater Manifestations for the Ethermancer Base Class
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