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Publisher's Choice - Basic Racial Portraits (Fantasy Males)
by Joe W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2015 08:14:13

Another good quality art pack from Fat Goblin. I was able to use most of the art. For one figure (the dwarf) the image is cropped so tightly that I wouldn't be able to use it. (Not enough of the shoulders are there for a bleed/safety area--you'd have to put some of the head in the area that may get cropped away.) But that still means I made use of 5 images at a great price.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Basic Racial Portraits (Fantasy Males)
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Racial Ecologies: Guide to Saurians
by Joshua B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/23/2015 01:00:40

Note: I don't have a huge familiarity with balance when it comes to what is "balanced" or not. I've got some basic experience using 3rd party material and have bought/read through quite a bit.


This pdf is 11 pages long, specifically covering a race of dinosaur humanoids called Saurians.


It begins with a bit of fluff on why people like, or rather, are fascinated by reptiles overall. Specifically, the king of the repitles, the dinosaurs are focused here.


Saurians are an ancient race. There's a small line that I love about how when even during the creation of the new races, the saurians were already "old". They've lived through the catastrophes that end worlds, and continue on. They are a proud people, but also an out of touch people with the modern world. They keep their ancient ways if possible, clinging onto traditions that still remain.


Their personalities are generally calm, unhurried like the modern world, but when they act, they strike quickly and powerfully. They are friendly, eager to help out when possible, but also a bit reserved, and even stubborn.


Traits: They receive a +2 to Strength, +2 to Wisdom, and a -2 to Charisma. They are strong, wise, but a bit aloof. They gain a natural bite attack, have dark vision, favored terrain similar to the ranger's ability in terms of ignoring natural difficult terrain (not magical though!). They also have an ability that I really like, if for the fluff, called stability: receiving a +4 to CMD for resisting bull rush and trips while grounded. Akin to their reptilian cousins, they are cold blooded and take some minor penalties while in the cold.


Nothing too surprising here, all pretty basic stuff. It does seem very fitting for what their description earlier is too. They are strong, even able to stand their ground against much tougher creatures, but also not great at handling certain social situations.


For alternate traits, they gain a +5 against sense motive but lose the terrain bonuses. They exchange the ability to stand their ground in order to reroll a bull rush check once per day. They can also replace their stability for the ability to take a hit for an ally instead. All in all, some cool thematic abilities here that I like.


There are additional favored class options here for a large amount of the pathfinder base classes. Not going to go over them, but they all seem pretty cool. I'm always down for more options.


There's also a decent chunk of feats here too. Again, there's a decent chunk of variety: becoming amphibious and gaining +10 to swim, to being able to eat rotten foods and gaining some poison resistance, entering a semi-barbarian rage, or being able to fight well against other saurians. Nothing too gamebreaking overall here I'd say.


The next section covers armors and various "ancient" items. From the Beak Axe, which is like an axe, but the head is shaped like the beak of a bird to ancient style bone armor, there's some good stuff here. Again, very fitting for the ancient theme they've got. Makes me really want to run a Saurian style druid that focuses on channeling the spirits of their ancestors overall.


The next section covers magical items, but again, I'm not great when it comes to understanding what would be considered balanced here or not. The section covers 4 items in total: Boots of the Raptor (increase your movespeed by a large amount and also can be activated for offensive bonuses), the Crown with a Fossilized Eye (gain sight through a special gem), Collar of Beast Speech (enables your animals to speak, but doesn't improve their INT), and the Dinosaur Shield (a shield that can animate and also bite enemies).


The final section covers ancient ancestries. These replace the racial abilities in order to become similar to a specific breed of dinosaur. Again, lots of options here that all look pretty cool and interesting.



Conclusion:


In the reading I did, I didn't notice any big typos or any glitches. The imagery and art here were really good too, and was incredibly evocative of that ancient theme they've got going on. The race themselves have a pretty unique history that I definitely plan on using in a campaign.


I'm entirely happy with what I found in the book. There's a sizable chunk of options when it comes to how you want to make your Saurian; from their stats, to their heritages, to their class bonuses. Al lin all there's a lot of stuff to choose from, which as someone who was a player for many years is something I appreciate.


With that in mind, I give it a 5 out of 5. Nothing really detracted from what I saw and read, and it seems rather well thought-out that provides a good amount of options to customize your character.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Racial Ecologies: Guide to Saurians
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Publisher's Choice - Classic Horror Portraits
by Joe W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2015 07:54:00

Very good art, especially for the price. If I could give it 4.5 stars I would. But I'm knocking it down slightly for two reasons:



  1. There are some other art packs with better art, so while this may be in the top 20-15% of the art here, it isn't at the very top.

  2. It would be nice to have some more background above and to the sides so we can crop it better as needed.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher's Choice - Classic Horror Portraits
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CLASSifieds: The Apothecary
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/21/2015 07:10:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the CLASSifieds-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


The apothecary is a new base-class provided herein - it sports 1/2 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, simple weapon and light armor proficiency and Brew Potion as a 1st level bonus feat. The class lacks HD and skill-information, though. This is a glaring oversight, for while the class obviously mutated out of an archetype, it lacks the "X replaces Y"-information that is the standard for archetypes and thus would be considered a class of its own. While I assume the alchemist's default here for both, I can't properly judge whether this is the case or not - as a full caster, there is a good chance the apothecary should have less skill points, a lower HD or a modified skill list -alas, I can't tell since the pdf omits whether this is an archetype or an alternate class, the latter option potentially generating more issues.


The class is pretty much defined by its alchemy class feature - this functions kind of like an alchemist's alchemy, including being based on Intelligence - however, unlike the alchemist, the apothecary's extracts extend to 9th level and the class has its own extract list. Beyond this pretty solid list, the apothecary also receives a list of so-called concoctions, the first of which is gained at first level, +1 every two levels thereafter. So of these are metamix concoctions (including level-increase), which means that metamagic-like effects can be added to the effects. Concoctions also include a limited list of discoveries, the option to grow monsters (summon monster) from bottles (including a solid scaling mechanism) and the option to distill scrolls.


Generally, these concoctions are pretty solid, though I consider Ray Bounce somewhat nasty - missed rays can affect a second target if you manage an attack at -5 to atk...which is not bad for the pure class. Alas, the lack of a minimum level required makes this potentially broken when used in dipping. A minimum level would be appreciated here. On the plus-side, the other concoctions do feature such caps where applicable, solidly situating e.g. the cool contingency extract-option at a level where dipping would not make it viable - kudos!


Beyond these concoctions, apothecaries begin play with tonics, the cantrips of the class. 20th level provides one of 3 capstones, which range from immortality to Int-bonuses to an outsider-apotheosis..


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from the omission of skills and HD. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has the nice cover art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this brevity.


Tyler Beck delivers an intriguing take here - the extract-based full caster. The achievement of this class, thus, imho can be found in the solid, well-rounded and unique extract-list - it's subtle, but the list is pretty nice. The apothecary quite frankly surprised me - it does sport some truly evocative visuals (monsters from bottles? Heck yeah!) and fills a niche not yet covered. Much to my extreme annoyance, the pdf ALSO fails to list the ability-type (I.e. Ex, Su, Sp...) of the respective abilities gained. All of them. This is a blatant oversight that should have been caught.


On the plus-side, the rules-language is more precise than I expected to see and overall, this would be a class I'd rate as good, bordering on the very good, at something along the lines of 4.5 stars - and probably round up....had this no issues. The ray-bouncing could use a minimum level; and then there would be the lack of designation as either archetype or alternate class - and the subsequent ambiguity regarding two basic, crucial components of it. If you consider my harping here over the top, please remember that alternate classes lock themselves out of the ones they're based on, so this may or may not eliminate potential multiclassing issues - as provided, I can't judge it properly. It should be taken as a sign of how nice this one is per se that I still can't bring myself to rate this any lower than 3.5 stars, in spite of these glaring omissions. I do have to round down, though.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: The Apothecary
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Monster Movie Matinee
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2015 03:32:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This bestiary clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


So, as the introduction (accompanied by a ToC with CRs) specifies, this book constitutes a love-letter to monsters that pay homage to classic horror flicks - not the silver screen of old, but rather to the more recent creatures featured. The advice to let them build up momentum is something I, indeed, with years upon years of horror gaming under my belt, would also advise in favor of. So let's take a look, shall we?


The first creature herein would be the CR 5 Aquamonstrosity, which is interesting in that it obviously is a fish-man creature, yes - but one with a powerful ability: By burning some hit points, these beasts can execute either an additional attack or an additional move action. Alas, the wording stumbles here - the example specifies that the creature can perform a full-round action and a standard action, when this directly contradicts the previous assertion that the creature can only get an additional move action or an additional attack: There are more full-round actions that full attacks. A rather annoying factor that unfortunately can be seen throughout the pdf, would be the fact that the racial modifiers for the respective monsters are not listed, which renders the question whether the skills are correctly calculated an educated guessing game. Granted, not in this instance, but still. At the same time, it is nice to see that the changed action economy's impact on rend has been taken into account regarding the wording of the latter - kudos there!


The carnivorous mantrap with its domination-capability should also ring true as a classic, with the monster's ability to understand languages - in spite of a lack of an Int-score, though I'm not sure I get the omission thereof. Somewhat problematic - the blood drain additional effect does not specify whether it applies to bite and tentacles or only one of these attacks. At CR 3, Grey Invaders get death rays and nitrogen dependency, making their suits important for their efficient functioning. An okay critter, if not a special one.


The CR 7 Jungle Predator obviously would be a direct quote of the beloved scifi-franchise, including at-will fire blasts and invisibility. Oddly, I think there is something missing regarding the iterative attacks - at +11, +4 of which are due to Strength, they should have iterative attacks. Furthermore, the line seems to assume two-weapon fighting, which is dandy with me; alas, then the -2 penalty is missing. At the plus-side, I love the lethal self-destruct upon death. The Killer Clown, at CR 11, obviously is a call out to IT, with an ability to let it "not sink" (why not simply go the water walk-route? As written, the ability makes e.g. interaction with magma and slimes less than obvious - sink or no sink?) and a cool idea - the first kill a day increases the fear points of the creature, granting it bonuses; at 7 fear points, it becomes dormant. This essentially puts a nice timer on the creature and makes its actions make more sense, while also explaining the actions of the beast. It also heals whenever someone fails a Will save against its spells and abilities. Okay, the final form-giant spider (stats in appendix for your convenience) is a bit lame, but the blood-filled balloons...nice touch! And yes, this is a potential TPK for PCs acting less than smart.


Night terrors are manta-ray-like creatures with a barbed tail -and they can decrease lighting conditions, with more abilities overlapping, bringing darkness and a sneak attack that works even when foes have concealment. Interesting one - and +1 point if you can name the inspiration here! AT CR 9, Nightmare Stalkers would be the representation of Freddy et al., with the ability to shake off ongoing effects, change shape and have hallucinatory terrain. At CR 10, the Shark Tornado is odd - it does share several traits with swarms, but does sport deviations from it - due to the creatures in question being medium, the type is "animal", subtyped as swarm. Over all, I really liked this take on the sharknado-concept from a mechanical perspective - why? Granted, mechanically, the troop-subtype may have been the better choice than building a swarm with medium-sized animals. At the same time, the mindless destructive potential of the swarm DOES feel like a swarm - so yeah, good with it. The formatting has failed to use the correct font and style for the second half of the statblock's tornado-ability explanation in a slightly annoying formatting glitch, though.


The Snatchoid, obviously, would be a nod to the cult-franchise Tremors - including improves damage on surprise-round grabs - pity we do not get the evolved versions of the life-cycle, though. The Unstoppable Maniac, with the machete as the weapon of choice, would be a nice rendition of Jason etc. - with some resistances, DR and SR, these guys are tough. They can also rise again at 1d8 HP (which is NOT much) upon being killed and yes, they can dimension door. Additionally, they may not be able to run, but they ignore difficult terrain, making it very possible that they catch up to players...sooner or later. Their damage-potential, though, is pitiful at only 1d6+6.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are okay - while I did notice some minor hiccups, I also noticed quite a few statblocks that sport no grievous issues and in total, this is the most refined monster-book I've seen from Fat Goblin Games so far. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with one downright beautiful original artwork for each creature - absolutely awesome, especially at this low price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Author Eric Hindley provides quite a nice array of monsters here - though beyond the minor hiccups, I think this pdf does have a bit of an issue in theme: See, as any Ravenloft or horror-GM can attest, the creature is EVERYTHING in a well-crafted story in the genre; the same holds true for the monster movie genre. We do not cheer for the obnoxious stereotypes that are slaughtered - we like the monster.


The cultural ramifications for this are not as simple as one would think and lead far into the path of analysis - beyond the coming-of-age-imagery, the symbolism of sexual awakening inherent in the narrative is a complex one. And one, quite a few of the beasts herein can support.


At the same time, though, what we have here are arguably center-stage adversaries - bosses. BBEGs. And for that, there's no two ways around it, they sorely lack staying power.


With the notable exception of the Killer Clown, the creatures herein do not have pronounced defense capabilities that would stand in the face of PCs of the respective CR. Additionally, the damage-output of some of them undermines the horror they generate - the Jason and Freddy-iterations especially simply don't do that much damage, with the former lacking the regenerative feed-on-fear capabilities. While this may be me wanting "story"-monsters worthy of their inspirations, my playtest confirmed my suspicions - the creatures are not pitted versus hapless teenagers, but seasoned adventurers and these guys, alas, can make short process of most of the adversaries herein.


Thus, the issue of this pdf lies in a somewhat schizoid focus - on one hand, the creatures should be stars, creature-features if you will; on the other hand, they lack the staying power and capability to deliver on said promise.


The issue in horror roleplaying, especially with d20-rules, is that hit point loss alone is not creepy - it happens all the time. You need the threat of death, of crippling afflictions, of lethal attacks to transport fear to not only the characters, but also to the players. And here, this does not deliver. When some of the creatures in this book attacked, my players lost all respect for them. While in no way a bad supplement, this discrepancy does mar it for me.


Do not treat the monsters herein as though they can carry the final boss fight - instead, I'd suggest a modified appropriation of the concepts and statblocks and enhancing them, should you expect to truly frighten your PCs.


What remains, is a nice little bestiary with gorgeous artworks and a mixed bag of adversaries - not bad, but also short of its potential. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Movie Matinee
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Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
by Robert G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/03/2015 13:51:52

This is a fantastic product with many great, unique cloaks to add to your game. I highly recommend it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Mantles of Power
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Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/26/2015 06:36:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Fat Goblin Games' Call to Arms-series clocks in at a massive 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 pages of content so let's take a look!


Now this book, obviously, expands on the content of the Technology Guide, so I expect familiarity with that material in this review.


This supplement begins with a piece of adept prose and recap on the significant influence technology has had on the development of our very society and there is a reason for that: Before we can take a look at how technology works in game, we have to imho consider the implications of the addition of technology - namely why and how it found its way into a given game world. If you are like me and consider the internal consistency of a given game world to be of tantamount importance, you probably have sneered at quite a few explanations for the existence of technology in a given fantasy context - and thus, this book presents us with a plethora of options that explain the rise or prevalence of technology, including rationalizations for the potential of a limited prominence amid cultures. The intriguing component of these basic concepts that range from divine inspiration (see Zobeck's gear goddess) to the gifts of the precursors, would be that the respective rules by which technology operates in a fantastic context necessarily ought to change - and the results should not be ignored. If technology is, for example, granted by a divine mandate, it should come as no surprise that adversaries of the doctrine will have a more nature-bound, savage mindset - and vice versa. The inclusion of such ideas and adventure hooks renders this section a useful tool for most DMs who do not want to provide a static backdrop for technology that is relegated to a limited area.


Now here, things become pretty intriguing, at least to me: One of the basic and utterly jarring components of the basic Kingdom-building rules, even when supplemented by Legendary Games' superb expansions, would be the absence of a true means of properly advancing your kingdom. Sure, you can improve infrastructure etc., but you won't be able to create a bastion of enlightened scholars amid the savages, a kind of Neo-Atlantis/Azlant/Ankheshel. Indeed, the kingdom-building rules, by virtue of their origin, assume a medieval backdrop. If your campaign has a different scope, perhaps even spanning the lifetimes of multiple characters, then this will be a full-blown example in awesomeness: What am I talking about? Technology-levels for kingdom-building with concise definitions of which goods and buildings become available, which sciences are taught, etc. And yes, the respective technology tiers do sport rules-relevant benefits for the kingdoms that achieve them and bonuses for researching all technologies. I absolutely adore this chapter since, to me, it completely came out of left field - and yes, there is a huge array of new buildings to create, including android factories and orbital space stations. That's awesome. i mean, who wouldn't want to go all JLA on the bad guys? At the same time, there is one tiny component the system imho ought to have covered in a slightly different manner: Tier-advancement. As provided, the guidelines assume essentially a list of prerequisites that must be met regarding buildings and technology, but personally, I would have enjoyed a cost to upgrade once all the prerequisites are met - essentially a conscious push to move into the next age. It should be noted, however, that this very much represents a personal preference and thus does not negatively influence my verdict - plus, one can always include such an obstacle.


Okay, after this not only extremely useful, but also surprisingly inspired chapter, we finally move to what I thought this book was all about when I first laid eyes on it: Technological items. Though, once again, this claim just now would be ultimately just as reductive as my previous conception of what this contains. Let me elaborate: The very inclusion of the material plastic with concise stats is pretty much a "Why has no one done this before?" facepalm-moment - and I mean that in the most flattering way: With decreased weight and electricity resistance, plastic is an interesting material indeed. At the same time, though, it does receive vulnerability to fire, which results in a somewhat wonky interaction: Energy damage to objects is usually halved and ignores hardness - so am I correct in the assumption that this halving does not occur for fire damage? It would only make sense, but ultimately, this constitutes a pretty minor issue.


Beyond plastics, there is a further component that has galled me about the implementation of technology in most given rules-contexts: The assumption of total functionality vs. being broken - the totality of both conditions is a component, wherein not only the internal game world's consistency slightly suffers, but also a crucial deviation from the super-science/pulp/science-fantasy tropes the very rules are supposed to provide for. Ultimately, I can get behind class-specific technology that only works for one type of character the same way I can accept psionics and magic, but once you render this an item-class, this assumption fell away and the exclusivity-clause was removed. Enter this book.


The basic concept is absolutely iconic and genius and perfectly encapsulated in the term "augmentations" - these can be added to a given piece of equipment by characters sporting the Craft Technological Arms and Armor feat akin to how magic works, with a base price of magnitude squared times an amount of gold and magnitude also governing the Craft DC. Now annoyingly, formatting has botched in the bullet point-list that contains these rules - while not rendering the rules opaque in any way, the glitch is so obvious that even casual glimpses should have caught it. But I'll set that aside to talk about what can be done: From radioactive to monofilament enhancements in different degrees of efficiency, the augmentations are awesome and pretty much represent the fulfillment of my craving for orcs that tack barely understood chainsaws to their axes. And yes, I came to roleplaying games over Warhammer. From graviton hammers to chainsaw swords to plasma-axe muskets, the items herein, some of which receive lavish full-color artworks, uniformly deserve praise on a conceptual level. Interesting here would be that, while there are very minor hiccups here and there, the rules-language, traditionally not exactly the strongest forte of Fat Goblin Games, is up to a pretty high standard and supplements the logical consistency of the items provided - chain-blades, once activated, for example penalize Stealth heavily.


When technology becomes more relevant in warfare, it'll be only a matter of time before espionage and sabotage become a threat - and thus, the new cause for glitches gremlinite should be considered a further and potentially narratively rewarding addition to the glitch-rules. Beyond these, there is a pretty basic and wide-spread trope of certain items with an ingrained personality - whether it's a quantum processor-powered AI, a ghost in the shell or a HAL 9000 - AIs are inextricably linked to scifi and fantastic technology. Thus, the rules for actually creating AIs is simple - and the sample item "possessed" by this AI is also rather interesting. Now if that were not enough, what about adding a slew of mythic into the fray, providing new legendary item abilities that most certainly will see use by the Genius, Futurist and Stranger paths, should they feature in your game -what about e.g. overclocking beams to make them AoE? Yeah, ouch! What about an absolutely inspired and unwieldy artifact that can make a high-level dungeon indeed rather strategic? New vehicle propulsion options, from combustion engines to fusion?


The pdf closes with 4 feats that allow you to create Robots, scavenge parts of technological items for your crafting or make AIs. And there is a feat that lets you unarmed punch empty items to get one final charge out of them - thankfully with a cap to prevent abuse.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are a mixed bag - on the one hand, the rules-language is much more precise than I expected it to be, to the point where actually, I don't have any proper complaints that would truly detract from this book -so kudos to editor Lucus Palosaari! On the other hand, there are some obviously rushed glitches regarding formatting that annoyed me to no end -though it should be noted, that for most people out there, the amount of glitches will not be within annoyance parameters. The pdf does sport a beautiful 2-column full-color standard with quite a few nice, original full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though the bookmarks do sport a couple of wonderful names like"h.izabluogbq3a" before providing the proper (and correctly named) bookmarks - so yes, existent, but you should scroll down - and another example of the avoidable glitches that haunt this pdf.


When this landed on my pile to review, I was admittedly less than excited - Fat Goblin Games has a track record with me of having interesting concepts (and since John Bennett took the reins as line-developer, an actually great horror setting!), but issues with the finer rules-interactions. So analyzing a 40+ page book of rules was not exactly my definition of a good time. At this point, I wish to sincerely apologize for this obviously less than flattering preconception. Fat Goblin Games and author Garrett Guillotte have delivered a massive supplemental book that is so much better than I ever anticipated it would be. I expected a somewhat reductive and repetitive accumulation of Technological items herein - what I instead got can be considered the massive appendix for the Technology rules.


In some of my previous reviews pertaining subsystems generated by Paizo, I lamented the lack of synergy and further support for systems once established, while at the same time pointing out that this is pretty much where 3pps can take control and deliver. This book makes perfect use of this thesis - not only do we get some material for mythic fans, the kingdom-building component essentially provides the backdrop for campaigns to take a whole new scope: Instead of just focusing on one age or dynasty, one can utilize these to essentially make kingdom-building, Sid Meier's Civilization-edition. Indeed, a capable GM can just slot more tiers in between for a finer gradient between tiers and expand the concept further, allowing you to potentially tell stories of truly epic scope and breadth. If you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll note that this simple fact is something I value over almost anything else - beyond the mechanics of augmentations, the new items and AI-rules, it is the rules-framework to tell a NEW type of story that was previously not supported by a given system that ultimately makes me grin, makes me happy, makes me cherish a product.


And sometimes, I get lucky - first Alexander Augunas' Microsized Adventures, now this book - and two whole new inspiring ideas take form: When combining the two, you could conceivably play characters shrunken to enter an organism and fight diseases with their nanite "subjects" while kingdom-building the immune system. Yes, I'm actually going to run this for my group.


What I'm trying to say here is: This book ranks among the few truly inspired crunch book that manage to be innovative. At the same time, I do have a criticism of this book and that ultimately boils down to scope: Whether it's AIs, augmentations, tiers - I found myself ultimately wishing each of the cool components herein had seen more support and yes, I'd definitely would be very interested in a sequel - the ideas featured herein are so good, I actually would have loved to see them expanded beyond their page-count. Now for the amount of content provided, this is an inexpensive pdf and I wholeheartedly encourage you all to check this out - I don't mention books of the superb quality of Microsized Adventures lightly in the context of other books.


At the same time, though, the (kind of) professional reviewer has to grit his teeth and point out that this pdf is not perfect; it does have flaws and I wished the glitches I noted weren't there. If this were either more focused or longer or had no glitches, we'd have a definite candidate for my Top ten of 2015 here. It's that good. Alas, there are some hiccups in presentation and some concepts that could imho have benefited from more space to render them clearer. So no, I can't rate this the full 5 stars - I should probably round down. But know what? that would be a disservice to the book and ultimately, you, my readers. This book is inspiring and I always have and always will prefer innovation and inspiration over bland mechanical perfection - and here, this book delivers in spades. hence my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5, and yes, this book gets my seal of approval - it is simply too much fun, too inspired to be bogged down by the glitches, though the more nitpicky among you should remember that they're here and probably rather round down.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
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Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2015 09:45:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, in case you're not 100% sure - yes, this is an April's Fools product. And yes, I'm reviewing it in August. Sad, but better late than never, right? So this begins with a basic, humorous introduction of poles - both in the game worlds and in real life. Let me go on a slight tangent here: If you do not know 10-foot-poles, they are perhaps the source of more anecdotes and prevented PC-death in old-school gaming than any other item. They also are the punch-line of more dirty jokes than rods of lordly might - and in case you're new school and never got see their awesomeness in action, take a look at 2 pages of long (and surprisingly viable!) suggestions on how to use these poles and potentially prevent your character's death - you'll never want to leave your home without your trusty pole.


...


..


I'm sorry. I'll put a buck in the groaner joke jar. So, during the years, 10-foot poles, their usefulness undisputed and tried and tested by more adventurers in varying degrees of success, have obviously spawned an array of variants, many of which can be found herein - from butterfly nets with which you can capture those annoying pixies to balancing poles, there are quite a few nice variants to be found - of course, including the 11-foot pole for the customer who goes one step beyond. This also includes folding poles and the combat ladder - an exotic weapon with the brace, blocking, disarm, grapple, monk, performance, reach and trip qualities. Overpowered? Perhaps. But -6 to atk and CMB when using it sober are at least some nice drawbacks. I just wished the basic drunkeness rules of PFRPG were better. If you actually plan on using this weapon, I'd strongly suggest using it with Raging Swan Press' rules for barroom brawls and tie it to the hammered condition featured in that book. Technology Guide-based hydraulic poles, vermin attracting giant toothpicks, stilts - the mundane objects herein, while not always perfectly balanced, generally fall within the purview of being rather well-crafted indeed.


Of course, some poles are magical, they grow when... Ouch. Yes, I'll stop. Sorry. Must be the summer heat BBQing my brain. puts another dime in the groaner jar Here, we can find bandolier containing toothpicks that can extend to proper poles; Decoy poles with hats etc. on top that act as protection from arrows. Poles with continuous flames on top; those that behave like a compass needle pr one that can be transformed in a cat with a limited movement radius. No, this pun was not one of my creation! What about a robe containing multiple useful poles? Hej, my clothes...OUCH. Yes, I'll stop.


One step beyond these, there also are cursed poles - petulant ones that refuse to properly modify; magnetic ones...or what about the pole-ka, which is best combined with playing Weird Al instrumentals irl? Yes, the poles here are genuinely funny. What about an intelligent limbo pole that acts as a one-way portal through walls...if you can limbo under it, becoming progressively harder? There even are mythic poles herein, and I'm not talking about...Ouch. puts another one in the jar


What about the Staff of Sun Wukong (aka Son Goku?) Yes, cool. The giant stick bug, which may also act as a familiar, makes for a nice additional creature, before we dive into the new bard archetype, the pole dancer. Pole dancers replace bardic knowledge with a battle dance - with the effects only affecting the pole dancer and initiation actions required scaling. They also are masters of fighting with ten-foot poles, gaining dex to atk and damage with them and allowing them to treat the weapons as other types regarding damage. The overall slight decrease in power is offset by an increased capacity to use alluring abilities and the ability to substitute Perform (Dance) for Acrobatics, making them save that skill-investment. At higher levels, battle dancing pole dancers are treated as hasted and in an interesting way, they may quicken spells by expending move actions while casting spells. Powerful defensive dances that heal damage and moving while making attacks and the capstone nets an attack versus all foes in range during any point of a move. The pole dancer is an interesting archetype I very much like concept-wise. At the same time, it suffers from some issues - it is not clear whether battle dance is gained in addition to bardic performance or replaces it - I assume the latter, since the former would be pretty OP. Conversely, I assume the battle dances have a round-cap akin to performance, but the ability doesn't specify it, which is a pity. Some of the other abilities also sport minor ambiguities that can be problematic, the most glaring component here would be the absence of weapon statistics for the 10-foot pole. I assume an improvised large weapon, but I'm not sure. On a nitpicky side, the archetype also switches genders mid-sentence, which I consider supremely annoying.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - some entries sport font-changes and there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language here and there. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard with nice, stock artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a detriment regarding the convenient use of this pdf in my book.


Quite a team has worked on this one: Ismael Alvarez, Jeff Gomez, J. Gray, Garrett Guillotte, Kiel Howell, Taylor Hubler, Lucus Palosaari, Matt Roth, Jessie Staffler, Jeffrey Swank - surprisingly, now, this does not translate to a feeling of disparate voices.


I did not expect much from this book and was positively surprised - yes, this is a joke offering; and yes, not all content herein may be perfect. But this book actually manages to be something only a few roleplaying books achieve - genuinely funny. Beyond this rare achievement, portal limbo poles are a stroke of genius and quite a few other ideas herein a delightful, playful and, best of all - feel magical. Whimsical even. While, alas, due to aforementioned glitches and minor hiccups, I can't rate this among the highest echelons of my rating system, this still very much is a good, and more importantly, fun offering and thus well worth a final verdict of 4 stars - oh, and you can get it as a "Pay what you want"-book, so no reason not to check this out!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Ten-Foot Poles (April Fool's Edition)
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The Dread Codex: Goblin Chronicles
by Andrew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2015 15:54:42

This book is awesome and well worth the money. It has a lot of creative information on the different goblin subtypes, complete with profiles for using them in your games as both monsters and characters. Some of the goblin types are kind of boring, but most of them are really cool. The book also has a bunch of feats for goblin characters, and though they are mostly focused on sneak, intimidation and bluff checks, these are goblins, after all, and not warriors. It also contains info on some cool goblin gear, including fireworks and magical fireworks, and goblin-specific magic weapons.


This book is exactly what I would want to see from a book about a single type of monster. Though it is kind of pricey for a book with such a narrow focus, it has a lot of info and is around 70-something pages, so its price is fair. The artwork is good, with pictures of each of the goblin subtypes described in the book.


My only complaint would be that it is not well edited. It is totally readable, just has a bunch of grammatical mistakes. (If you are the publisher, I would be happy to proofread your stuff for a free copy of the product, by the way!)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dread Codex: Goblin Chronicles
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Fat Goblin Mega Load [BUNDLE]
by Andrew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 07:15:42

Overall, an absolutely awesome deal if you like the background information and detail-oriented stuff that really breathes life into your RPG settings.


The bundle has a wide range of products, most of which i found interesting reads. Most of the products were short (20 pages or so, give or take), but considering that you are getting a bunch of them, you will be reading for quite a while.


The only products that I didnt care for were the currency stuff (although I could print some off and use it with my next Monopoly game...), the tavern menus (not something that I get into in my games, though they were cool to read through) and the paper minis though you only get one paper mini product (there's no substitute for the metal/resin/plastics all painted up).


There are so many different things in the bundle that I can't go into them here. Personally, I like the various monster books as they add a lot of depth to the generic monster types. I mean, we've all dealt with Goblins before, but your campaign can now include a half dozen or so special goblin types instead.


A handful of the books also included new feats and magic items, which I always love. The SRD magic items don't have much character, so anything that beefs up those options are welcome.


In short, if you are looking for a bundle to base a campaign off of, skip this. But if you want to make your campaign setting super-interesting and able to surprise even the most veteran players, then you gotta grab this!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fat Goblin Mega Load [BUNDLE]
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Secret Societies of Vathak: The Final Phase
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/24/2015 10:28:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This Vathak-supplement clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The Final Phase is a cult that sprung form an appropriately nihilistic vision of life as sorrow unending and thus, it should come as no surprise that the already questionable ideology (as much of it as the well-written intro-fluff showcases) has been perverted even further in a world like Vathak - now, the cult is pretty much a decadent accumulation of cultists with a surprising range of influence. More disturbingly, the cult believes that the Great Old Ones hold the key to prevent resorption into the unending cycle of sorrow the multiverse propagates - and while this may sound angsty, in a fantasy setting with demons, angels etc., the clue is - they are kind of right. Okay, bringing the Great Old Ones to the world is not a good idea, but the aforementioned point has been a central and very effective theme in my last campaign: In the words of one of my favorite metal bands: "If my soul could revive from my carnal remains, what does it matter to me? If it all fades to black and I'm born once again, then no one really is free."


A pyramid structure that mirrors their inverted ziggurat ritualistic place is detailed alongside the current headquarters and initiation into the cult - particular mention deserves that WE ACTUALLY GET THE OATH the initiates recite. See, this is exactly what makes a cult come to life, what makes it more than just a collection of cultists.


The pdf also sports unique magical items, namely the Belt of the Great Old Ones that not only bestows ooze-like immunities and a miss chance on the wearer, but also allows you to squeeze through tight spaces - and make foes rue the day they tried to see through your miss-chance... On a nitpicky side, the item has a minor italicization glitch. The second item would be the Lamprey Sleeves. In the lower sections of aforementioned ziggurat is a vat, wherein lamprey await - upon plunging your arm inside, the lampreys devour the arm and magically turn into a disturbing facsimile of the arm, returning to their original disgusting form only upon activation, acting as a buckler and allowing for the wearer's choice of either vampiric touch or touch of madness 3/day, though again, with minor italicization glitches.


The pdf closes with adventure hooks.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, apart from some minor italicization glitches, I noticed nothing severe. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is thematically fitting.


Jeffrey Swank's Final Phase has been an odd pdf for me to review. This began, to be honest, with me not being particularly excited - yet another nihilistic cult? Yawn. Only slowly did the themes and leitmotifs of self-determination emerge and lend an actual identity to the cult herein. The sample oath provided in particular made me wish this pdf sported more fluff like that, for it is here that the pdf shines -at this point, I expected this to be pretty much in the mediocre/good range. Then the items hit and hit hard - they are unique, strange and downright creepy, adding an element of body horror to the philosophical underpinning of the cult, blending a strange mix of psychological and body horror with the utterly creepy premise of elitism and "good intentions for the enlightened" to form an amalgam that is something I did not expect this pdf to deliver - something genuinely creepy.


Now granted, not all components of the organization hit home perfectly, but the blending of themes makes this work better than I honestly expected, rendering the cult a fun, inexpensive addition to one's game, mainly hampered by the brevity of the format - with a couple of additional pages to showcase ideology and rituals in more detail, this could have been top-tier awesome. As provided, it is a compelling secret society just short of true excellence and thus well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Societies of Vathak: The Final Phase
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[PFRPG] Pug's Bazaar: Tent #3
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/14/2015 08:04:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review


Our favorite goblin merchant of items both wondrous and weird is back, this time at 14 pages, with the cover doubling as introduction, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Each of the items herein comes with a well-written piece of introductory prose as well as an adventure hook, both helping to root the items in the lore of the game. The first items would pair a pair of deadly cesti/warhammer, both providing very powerful synergy-effects for magi, including a new enhancement that adds a stagger/daze/stun-effect to spellstrike-criticals, with severity scaling up according to the critical modifiers. Speaking of powerful items - what about a plate that increases the range threatened by 10 ft.? Yeah, OUCH! 50+K value may be much, but the benefits definitely outweigh that...thankfully, this only extends to movement-provoked AoOs...interesting. The plate also allows you to use up your movement as part of these AoOs (so you don't have to swat at thin air), utilizing movement rate of the next round as a resource - pretty smart.


A fire-themed variant of shocking grasp with a splash-dazzle added in makes for an interesting variant spell. At 2nd level, an improved entangle that causes damage and potentially bleed could be slightly clearer regarding whether the bleed damage is in addition, though one can argue that's the intent. Worms of light that cause Con-drain bleed at high levels provide one spooky imagery, and yes, they can effect undead, with modified wording. A canned trapsmith is a small, cute mechanical construct that can spot and disable traps autonomously. A pair of goggles that can not only perceive certain auras, but also make the visible to those not wearing them, may be interesting for some people.


A spell that increases damage-output versus creatures suffering from perception-impeding spells and effects is an interesting one in that it combines spellcasting, conditions and attacks/sneak attacks. Now where the pdf becomes glorious would be with the bandoleer of distractions, which consists a significant array of unique - from prone-knocking balls of fur to animal-frightening whistles, this item is made of awesome and win!


If you're like me and enjoy rock throwing monsters, what amounts to an enchanted orb that can cause earthquakes and the like as well as acting as a nasty piece of ammunition will be right up your alley. cough Giant Slayer Ap /cough And yes, weight = 216 lbs. - player will have fun trying to haul this piece of loot around...


The final item herein would be the cremated ashes of a loremaster, which help identifying command words and items and by rubbing them on one's eyes, one can apply the wisdom of the ancients temporarily to one's own Perception.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting on a fromal level are top-notch, with the notable exception of italicization often being not implemented perfectly. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides copious full-color representations of the items in question - nice to see! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Wendall Roy knows his craftsmanship -while the pricing of a bunch of items herein feel a bit too liberal and low for my conservative tastes in that regard, the items themselves and their prose/hooks deliver - why? because not one is just a lame variant of accumulation of benefits. Instead, they come with unique, mechanically-relevant bonuses and often, complex rules-language that properly makes these qualities work. Indeed, this is one of the best little magic item books I've seen in a while - though, balance-wise, I'd still consider omitting my seal of approval, especially due to the added italicization oversights. But on the other hand, this pdf's items are, in part, gleefully bonkers and some are downright stupefying - they're FUN. They actually feel magical, unique, more than the sum of some bland bonuses - and for that, in spite of the minor flaws, I'll gladly rate this 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Pug's Bazaar: Tent #3
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Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
by Tyler E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2015 22:28:21

For those of you who don't know I'm a big fan of the technology guide. I love that we have rules for adding things like lasers, robots, rockets, and power armor to my fantasy setting. I love that it grants us the chance to insert a little more mystery into our worlds than just "it's magic" and make our players a bit more intrigued by the dungeons and worlds that exist in their lands both in Paizo's home setting and our home games without having to write a book myself to do it. What's more the style in which it was presented was amazing, a fusion of classic scifi tropes like laser pistols and death rays with a healthy dose of 40k future diesel punk and grim dark thrown in for some amazing options (looking at you chainsword, monowhip, and rad grenades) that really scratch that itch and make these options feel grimy and brutal in all the right ways for a world with Conan style barbarians rubbing shoulders with robot titans.


But with all that in mind it wasn't enough. We got a lot of the good starters but we were left with far more questions. How the hell does all of this fit into a world like golarion where stuff like a toothed sword that screams as it saws a man in half is far more likely to be attributed to being possessed by a demon than it is to a microprocessor? And for that matter what do they do with all the broken pieces, do they just leave them lying around, what do they think happens when one finally shuts down, and do they ever try to fix them or more try anything more interesting? Well it seems Fat Goblin has heard me, since with this book I get new tech, an answer to some of these questions, and oddly enough a tech tree system.


First lets talk about the biggest addition and the bulk of this product for most consumers, augmentations. An answer to my biggest question about what the hell all these primitive societies do with all this broken or discharged tech that is lying around in places like Numeria's rust fields or other worlds where these things are ancient technology left behind that they barely understand, augmentations are weapons and armor that have had used, broken, and discovered technology incorporated into their design to help improve their function or capitalize on the remains of destroyed tech. Augmentations let you do everything from repairing armor by lashing it all together with ion tape (basically duct tape) to attaching chainsaws to your greatclub to give you a baseball bat that will chew through your enemies like a wood chipper. In short they are amazingly inventive and already have me and my players chomping at the bit to play with them at the table, from our warpriest wanting to wrap a chainsaw blade around his holy weapon to both of them wanting to buy a pack of cylex rounds (ammunition coated with impact activated C4) to help them even the odds against a morlock tribe they ran afoul of in a local dungeon these things get me amped to not just incorporate them but use them as ways to explain how this midevil culture has started to incorporate them into their world beyond sacred relics. It lets me have blacksmith who make full plate out of rare plastics scraped from the machinery of ancient dungeons, weaponsmiths who craft greatswords around damaged graviton engines to impart "the thunder of the gods" into the wielders stroke, and to have kobolds that craft uranium laced longspears from broken rad grenades to permanently cripple any foolish long shank dumb enough to try and break into their lair. And all of it is done with a fusion of old gear and the pieces they would naturally find. That is awesome and what's more those are just some of the examples I could pull from here. On top of all that the rules for crafting them allow you to use old, burnt out, and discarded tech to create these augmentations, turning that timeworn chainsword you picked up and burned out a few sessions ago from a worthless piece of junk and into a key component for turning your humdrum greataxe into a howling toothed chainsaw greataxe that would make Kharn the Betrayer proud.


The next big thing in here is the tech tree system, oddly something designed for of all things the kingdom building system presented in Kingmaker and Ultimate Campaign. With this system you get what is essentially a civilization style tech tree system that allows you to invest build points into furthering your nations understanding of technology, granting basic things like learning physics and basic biology at the start to eventually crafting things like orbital space stations, airports, and hospitals that can replace your arm with a top of the line cybernetic replacement at the highest end of the trees. The investments are steep for each facet of the various trees you invest in and many require investing in multiple trees to qualify for options (i.e. pharmaceuticals requires you have invested in biology and chemistry in order to begin studying it) but having a way to not further your nations education in a tangible way and see the fruits of it start to show up is just icing on the cake. The system even helps incorporate things like firearms into the equation, offering them up as some of the first pieces of advanced technology your budding nation can produce. The examples here go on and trying to lay them all out could take pages but suffice it to say if you would like to add a little more Civilization to your kingdom building this is a great place to start.


Finally you get the actual new tech of the book which is surprisingly sparse, in total numbering out to maybe a half dozen or so new items that are not examples of augmented tech but all of which are pretty cool. Ranging from a set of adamantine piston knuckles a la fallout that let you roll twice for damage to a nanofiber vest that can expedite healing and even grant fast healing but has the wearer risk cardiac arrest if the push the system too far. Each one is interesting, well priced, and easy to insert into any campaign alongside the tech guide with little problem.


Now the book is not perfect. It's got some formatting errors that drive me crazy like notes for where bullet points are supposed to be that haven't been added (part of why it's not 5 star as of this writing) but overall the book is an absolute treat for those looking for more ways to incorporate the options introduced in the technology guide in more interesting ways. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to design a gnoll barbarian with a radioactive axe.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology
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[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2015 03:49:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


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


This supplement, obviously, provides fighting styles inspired by fantastic creatures, with each style sporting a nice, short fluff-paragraph that anchors the style in a kind of background you may scavenge. The first of these styles would be the cockatrice style, which increases teh DC of both Gorgon Fist and Scorpion Style, while also adding wis-mod to damage versus foes with reduced speed or in the staggered condition. Wait, I hear you say - Scorpion Style? But one can only be in one style at a given time unless one uses archetypes etc. - you would be right, but Paizo botched nomenclature - Scorpion Style is NOT a (style)-feat - just a combat-feat. ;) The follow-up feats allow for added Dex-damage when using Gorgon's Fist and Scorpion Style and the option to add an unarmed Gorgon Strike as a swift action against a target failing to save versus your Scorpion Style. Interesting blend of the two concepts.


The Couatl Style adds wis to damage versus foes denied their dex-bonus to AC versus your attacks and also adds wis to Bluff skill checks - not a fan of dual attributes to a skill. Additionally, feinting dazzles foes for one round. The follow-up feats allow for an immediate action feint that eliminates opponents as counting for flanking or whether you provoke AoOs, whereas the final feat allows for a 10-foot AoO feint when using a standard action to feint foes while in Couatl style. Additionally, foes feinted this way treat foes other than yourself as having concealment. Interesting!


Doppelgänger Style (sorry, can't write it with an "a" sans cringing) nets you a dodge bonus versus foes using style-feats and allows you to use swift actions to emulate a style employed by a foe who missed you for 1 round, while also netting you a minor buff. This one is pretty much brilliant - nuff said. The follow-up feats allow for the emulation of the feat-chain of said style, while the final feat allows for an AoO that allows you to disrupt another style, hence denying the target temporary access to the style's feat-chain. Sick...and awesome.


Manticore Style allows you to draw light thrown weapons as a free action and do no longer treat ammunition or darts as improvised weapons. The follow-up feats allow for a flurry with two additional attacks at -2 atk - but does that stack with flurry of blows/stars? The second one allows you to move full speed and execute a full attack's attacks at any point while doing so, but requires you to use unarmed attacks, light thrown weapons or ammunition to do so. This one feels too strong for my tastes - indeed, this is the first style that imho can benefit from a bit of streamlining - one feat needs ability-stack clarification, the other should be limited to a subpar weapon group - full attack plus movement with unarmed strikes is NASTY.


Peryton Style allows you to deal bludgeoning or piercing damage with your unarmed attacks, with piercing having a crit of x3. Additionally, you can choose to render a foe to cower instead of being frightened or panicked instead, but only for 1 round. Per se cool, but cower as one of the most powerful conditions is nasty - still, average duration shortened to 1 round balances that. The follow-up feat-chain allows for better charges and a scaling save-based selection of additional detrimental effects to impose on foes of your charge. The final feat allows you to coup-de-grâce cowering or stunned foes, and add an AoE-demoralize as a swift action when executing a foe like this. I like this style, but it is very prone to being cheesed: Coup-de-grâces are almost guaranteed kills and the relatively easy set-up for this finisher means that the style in itself is deadly - when combined with another character that deals in fear (Nightblades or Dreads come to mind...), this style can become broken pretty fast. However, at the same time, it is just glorious in the hands of assassin-style NPCs.


Phoenix Style nets you +2 CMD and unarmed strike damage when facing opponents with a higher Str-score or larger size. The bonus is doubled if a foe power attacks you. The follow-up feats allow you to increase your reach when only executing a single melee strike versus foes, alos netting you a dodge bonus to AC versus foes not adjacent to you. Finally, the third feat allows you to add a second attack to a charge and also allows you to use Acrobatics to move past the foe sans AoO. The feat also allows for a reflexive means to avoid grapples at the cost of movement in the next round.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-.color standard and the pdf sports numerous nice full-color artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.


Wendall Roy delivers an interesting pdf here - I was honestly surprised to see the styles herein not shirk from the most complex of concepts and executing the rules-language required with laudable precision - with minor hiccups here and there, this pdf tackles top-difficulty concepts and executes them rather well - to the point where I will most definitely use this pdf's content in my campaign. So kudos for aiming for the top! Alas, I am not sold on the balancing of a couple of the styles herein -namely the Manticore Style and the Peryton Style imho require some streamlining - the former due to number of attacks stacking, the latter due to its extremely lethality with a pretty basic combo. These blemishes, though, do not drag down what is undoubtedly a cool pdf that should bring a grin to all aficionados of WuXia. While not perfect, I will hence settle on a verdict of 4.5 stars, just short of utter awesomeness. Since the issues mentioned impact balance, I will round down for what can be considered a quintessentially good pdf.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Fantastic Fighting Styles
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Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2015 15:46:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This supplement clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so what do we get?


Well, first of all, we get a short run-down of the background story of red rose manor - when a grove of dryads bit off more than they could chew, a rather nasty wizard cut down their trees and made them into the very wood that was used to construct red rose manor. If your PCs are wise, they'll be doing leg-work before entering such a place - if they botch their gathering of information, they may hear a kind of wrong rumor, whereas exceeding the DC provides secret, additional information.


The haunts herein range from CR 6 to CR 8 and generally, they do one thing exceedingly right - each haunt tells a part of the story. You see, what I like about haunts, why I adore them so, can be summed up easily by the means in which they can enhance a story - unlike most traps and hazards, haunts, by their very design, are supposed to be means of indirect storytelling, miniture exposition dumps, if you will - and the pdf gets this right.


When a door whispers seductively to partake in wine, the instance tells a part of the story and ties in with a sequel haunt that is directly associated with the wine itself. When a miniature tree turns out to be the cut of legs of a dryad, planted and created into a kind of facsimile tree via the utmost care, one can taste the madness that consumed the man behind the tragedy. Chests and drawers made from pieces of dryads, with bodies contorting in the wood, doors with wooden knots that once were eyes, narcissism-inducing eternal fireplaces, rugs of woven dryad hair that reflect the despair they felt. The final haunt has a rather unpleasant, but not lethal effect as well - though one that actually managed to chill me: A dominate effect suggesting that the creatures ought to plant themselves - but with what further repercussions? Yes, slowly starving with feet embedded in the earth would be the obvious consequence, but still - I would have liked at least a suggestion here.


It should be noted that some of the haunts actually can be tricked.


The pdf also provides suggestions for 4 optional "encounters" - these can probably be likened to suggested set-ups for related encounters.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of grammar glitches and the like. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a gorgeous front cover artwork. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks.


Were this a piece of fiction, I'd bash it to smithereens. No, seriously - this pdf is hard to review for one simple reason: Structurally, it is awesome. The haunts make ample use of interesting spells that thematically fit, admittedly to the point where I would have liked unique effects and modifications for the haunts itself.


The haunts themselves sport interesting imagery and this would be Kiel Howell's triumphant strength - he gets indirect storytelling via haunts. And he can craft utterly disturbing vistas - seriously, I have read a lot of horror supplements and when such a humble pdf can still elicit a reaction from me, that's when you realize that the imagery the respective haunts evoke is AWESOME.


The creative, imaginative potential, the one component that cannot be learned, is there. At the same time, though, the pdf has one massive issue - the prose simply isn't that good. As awesome as the set-pieces of the haunts and their interaction are, the prose linking them feels clumsy at times and did detract from the awesome imagery in places - take this sentence from the set up: "Their souls are bound to the wood, forever reminded of their failure to protect their trees, their failure to trick and enslave the wizard Renald Houssman with fake love, and their failure to move on in death." Sure, not bad, but far, far from the awesomeness of the concept "Here's a door that has the friggin' EYES of dryads, disguised as knots, set in the wood." At the same time, the haunts and their concepts are glorious, but the set-ups do somewhat detract from them. The good news here is that writing more compelling prose can be learned and is a matter of experience and practice.


To sum it up -super concepts and glorious imagery are slightly bogged down by prose not 100% up to the imaginative potential herein. Slightly more defined and varied mechanical effects would have been nice to see as well. In the end, this is an inexpensive collection of cool, thematically linked haunts, which any DM worth their salt can craft into one chilling module. While not perfect, it made me look forward to future offerings in the product-line as well as excited to see how Kiel Howell's writing improves - for his twisted mind definitely has a knack for conjuring up some chilling imagery. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Hauntings: Red Rose Manor
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