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Alterkine: Planetary Survey
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2018 05:52:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement clocks in at 138 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages blank, 3 pages index/KS-thanks, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 129 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, this massive book is basically exactly what it says on the tin – a ginormous collection of different planets and their inhabitants.

There are basically three sections for each of the entries of planets here: Astronomical, Environmental and Xenological.

In the first section of each planet, we classify the star or stars – for example,.Dwerradar has a binary star, Myrwyn and Aru. Now, if you’re a bit of a scifi-nerd, you’ll love these, for each star gets a star-statblock of sorts: The type is noted (e.g. Companion MV 7 V Red Dwarf), and we get distances in kilometers and AUs, radius in kilometers and Sol, mass in kg and Sol, temperature in K and luminosity in W and Sol. I really love this attention to detail, and it extends to the other system bodies, who are classified by type, with orbital radius (again, in Km and AU), period (hours and earth years) and gravity in m/s² (once more, with relation to earth noted as alternate values). Terrestrial worlds note the respective composition and special features like indigenous races and moons.

Indeed, habitable worlds get massively expanded data, noting their rotation, escape velocity, mass, land areas, hydrosphere, atmosphere, climate (in °F), populations, a brief overview of economy and installations as well as affiliations and foreign relations.

The environmental sections for each planet provide notes on aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric peculiarities as well as places of interest, if any. It should also be noted that we actually get really nice full-color artworks for inhabited planets, which is a huge plus; indeed, the book manages to be really, really impressive regarding all its details and how the respective star systems deviate from one another. The data provided really helps to create a cohesive sense of immersion if you, like me, enjoy the added sense of plausibility this adds. So yeah. Kudos indeed.

This would also be a nice place to note that the book has an appendix that lists monster traits, creature types and vital statistics of age. The index mentioned before is really detailed and useful, providing orientation by place of interest, by planet, race and system. Organization of the book is neat.

Thirdly, there would be the xenological section, and it is here that we are introduced to the respective races living on the inhabited planets. Here, we can find 4-armed, red goblins, bone-ridged, badass equine creatures, the Tiny, subterranean Adaevia, basically Wookies, savage lizard people, utterly strange species that descended from tubeworms (!!), living constructs and more. We can find a race of excellent healers, which, when it dies, spreads a horrid plague; we can find sentient plants (bushes, fungi, etc. – and yes, there is an artwork with a badass fungus-person wielding an MP), a race of basically space wolpertingers, spiritual newt people, massive, Large, smelly space orcs, a race of Jekyll/Hide-y aberrations, bird- and otter-folk, 6-armed humanoid arachnids, actually nice lumps of tentacles, dog-like trees, vulture people…and I haven’t even begun listing them all. We get brief notes on the respective society and culture of the races. Really cool: We get a .ppt-file included in the deal to make basic paper-stand-minis for the races! Big kudos there!

…and it is here, that we have the crux of the book. The races. Now, up onto this point, Alterkine supplement were made for d20 Modern.

This one is different. It is billed as PFRPG-compatible.

That is patently WRONG.

There is no nice way to say this, but this is about as PFRPG-compatible as 5e. If there is something to be done wrong regarding racial presentation and rules-design, the pdf will do it wrong. Each language section, for example, notes a “Free Culture Skill” – whatever that is supposed to mean. Ability score enhancements are min-maxy and don’t follow PFRPG’s paradigms. We get uneven score-bonuses (like +1 and +3); we get +4 bonuses and penalties to ability scores in a variety of cases. A Large race gets +8 (!!) to Strength, not accounting for its size. The same race’s females get btw. “+ Intelligence” – the actual modifier is missing. Natural weapons are not properly classified in some cases, whereas in others, they are. Racial abilities sometimes sport fixed save DCs instead of scaling ones.

For f***’s sake, the book gets NATURAL ARMOR wrong, talking about “+3 bonus to Defense.” PFRPG has over 20 bonus types, accounting for BAB, etc. – and the book manages to get that wrong as well, conjuring up some make-belief bonus types that are utterly redundant. There is no “species bonus” in PFRPG – it’s called racial bonus, for crying out loud. Never mind that the concepts of CMB/CMD obviously are not something taken into account for any rules operation that is more than a size reference. The pdf talks about skills that don’t exist in PFRPG, like Athletics. Bonuses that should be racial or insight are untyped. The pdf grossly undervalues e.g. additional appendages. When a DC is scaling, its sequence is wrong, noting first the ability score, then HD. The pdf doesn’t get how pulling targets works in PFRPG. “Infiltration checks” may be used to break free of webbing. Darkvision ranges are incorrect. A “Staggering gaze” causes the stun condition. Abilities do not sport the correct ability types – you won’t find EX or SU/SP-classifications here. The pdf does not understand how Linguistics works in PFRPG. There are glaring errors and huge issues in every single damn race herein.

Oh, wanna know what made me head crash on the table? Level adjustments. I kid you not. Level adjustments. In PFRPG. W-T-F. Oh, and, this should be obvious by now: We do not get race traits. We do not get racial archetypes. We do not get favored class options. We do not get racial feats. We get no supplemental material for these races whatsoever.

Then again, frankly, I’m glad we don’t. I have never seen basic race design go this horribly awry. It is evident that the author has no clue about PFRPG and doesn’t play it. The level of ignorance that the glitches point out, is staggering. Frankly, I wished that this book had stayed with its d20 Modern roots.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are mostly rather impressive. On a rules-language level, this is an unmitigated train wreck. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a significant array of really nice full-color artworks for planets and races. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the addition of paper stand-minis is neat.

This breaks my heart, it really does – on one hand, we have a book oozing creativity and passion, and a knowledge on how to make unique and compelling racial concepts. I loved all the data provided for systems, and the ideas herein are glorious! They really are! If you want a dressing book with brief dossiers on a variety of races and systems, this may well be worth checking out for that purpose! Whether you play Traveller or Starfinder or Stars Without Number, there are a lot of cool ideas in this book.

Unfortunately, this is no system neutral dressing book.

Unfortunately, this book suffers from the delusion of being a PFRPG-race book. In this category, this book, alas, is a resounding, colossal failure. Rules-integrity and both basic overt and detailed covert design paradigms are flaunted left and right and the book fails to grasp even basics like the skill system, much less anything more detailed. I could literally spend multiple pages listing what is wrong with each single race. The crunch is horrible and a sloppy conversion from a system into PFRPG, without the knowledge or care that such work requires.

As a crunch-book, this is a failure of epic proportions.

Now, if you explicitly do NOT want any rules to go along with the planets and racial CONCEPTS, then this may be worth checking out. Some of the ideas herein are pretty damn cool, though none of the races, courtesy of the brevity of the entries, gets a really detailed write-up. This is the only viable use for the book I could discern.

Whether you play Starjammer, Aethera or another scifi/space opera game in PFRPG, this one fails you, big time. It obviously doesn’t fare better, rules-wise, regarding Starfinder. In that discipline, the book is an unmitigated mess I cannot recommend. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, and frankly, I can’t round up for it. The fluff is too sparse for that.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Planetary Survey
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Alterkine: Player's Handbook
by Jonathan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/13/2017 21:03:27

I've been a fan of D20 Modern for years and have always had a good time with it. I picked up the D20 Future book and found it nifty and all, but it never inspired me to run a game.

A while ago i saw the Planetary Survey on Kickstarter and liked what i saw. Loads of aliens ready for insertion into any D20 game. I was very much impressed by the Planetary Survey, so thought to check out the print book. I am very glad i did so.

That day, i got the PDF. As they were printing the hard bound book. I was not disapointed. The great art, layout and easy of reading are great. The print book is beautiful and will join my other D20 games on their shelf. It looks as good, if not better than the PDF.

As for the rules and muenutia you find in the pages. It's not a great deal different from any other D20 game. But it is well and clearly expained. The book flows nicely from topic to topic giving great detail to all manner of Sci-Fi goodness. Psionics, Tech, Cyberware, Mutations. Not to mention gear and guns.

If you are familiar with D20 Modern, Dugeons & Dragons or even Paladium. You'll find this book a great way to tell your space adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Player's Handbook
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Alterkine: Planetary Survey
by Jonathan H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2016 21:46:27

Even if you haven't hopped on the Alterkine train. This book is a gem of a resource. Loads of story hooks and tons of new PC races for any D20 Sci Fi RPG. The art is top notch. The layout is great and the content is akin to a barlowe's guide to extraterrestrials.

So even if you are just thinking about running or playing in a D20 Sci Fi game this book is a must have resource.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Planetary Survey
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Creator Reply:
Thank you for your very kind words :) If you previous file had formatting issues, they have been resolved. Print versions will be available soon.
Alterkine: The Ones We Were
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2016 05:16:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for Alterkine clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages blank, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs left? Great! Our world has recently been graced by a strange meteor shower and the PCs find themselves in a moderately priced bar in the tourist trap Coppersmith, where they are contacted by one Betram, who represents parties intrested in Delsvale - which has shut down operations since the meteor shower - hence, the players, via an ominous black limousine and a chopper, enter the target area.

Delsvale town does look like an eerily ghost-like town, including roving animals. Things turn grim fast, though: The barbed wire fence the players encounter has a breach and said breach is stuffed with human corpses, from which a woman crawls forth, obviously doomed to die from her extensive injuries - and things look grim. Animals are getting crazy, a sect of weirdos have sprung up and the military has rolled in. Entering the quarantine zone, the PCs will have an option to subdue an investigator/journalist and the PCs will soon have a first encounter with a disturbing creature, the clotter - a shambling creature of grafted undead material, a walking sack of offal and bone, hungry for blood of the living.

Things become worse fast from there - the recruiters of aforementioned sect hand out crystals that may well cause infection with mutagenic viruses...just before the military swoops in and takes the PCs hostage. It turns out, the military is planning to bomb out the local mine...but aforementioned clotter monstrosity may actually provide a window for the PCs to escape from captivity. It should also be noted that a two-legged walker/mech is among the adversaries the PCs may encounter, of course, just one of multiple random encounters the PCs can encounter.

The local nightclub would be a crucial place: Here, the PCs are contacted again by the cult, as the leader, one Daniel Sutter (nod towards Sutter Cain, mayhaps?) tries to set up a meeting with the PCs - but if they agree to hear them out, they may ostracize the military if they haven't already. Meeting up with Sutter puts things in perspective: Living in his gothic mansion, the cult leader may be a foreboding character, but he still offers some crucial insight: You see, he literally owns Delsvale and has a research venture in the mine - alas, his own men betrayed him, claiming the crystals, which he considers to be divine. He does directly contradict the narrative that sent the PCs here - this Betram fellow obviously lied to them. It should be noted that NPC-interaction in this module tends to be pretty detailed, with quite a few sample sentences, meaning that GMs less comfortable with verbatim improvisation get enough guidance herein.

Beyond the strange amalgamated monstrosities like bear/frog-hybrids, the PCs will sooner or later have to go to the mine - where they get a glimpse of a horrible thing with too many tentacles and mutations and brave cybernetic adversaries before they find a lead-researcher, who asks them to destroy each and every crystal they can find - in an inversion of the trope, these guys are actually smart...and thus, the module's variable conclusion dawns, as the PCs have to brave the mutagenic influence of the fallen star, decide whom to help...and deal with the grotesquely Scaxtion - insane and with empathy/emotion-controlling bursts of aura. How the final confrontation turns out and whether the mutating PCs succumb to the influence of the fallen stars, how the whole thing ends - it all depends on the actions of the PCs.

The pdf concludes with quite an array of diverse adversaries, many of which sport unique and rather interesting builds with Achilles heels that reward smart rolelaying and nice signature abilities - it should be noted that even the random encounter sport several unique monsters. The pdf also sports 4 new mutations as well as 4 excellent player-friendly b/w-floor plans.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a rather printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. Cartography is nice and solid. The one weak component of the pdf is the CGI-artwork - while it works for the mech, the humanoids in particular are ugly and the final boss's artwork is horrible, doofy even, and subverts the threat it poses. The prose deserves better, so I'd suggest relying on your descriptive powers here instead of showing off the artworks. If you're going for a serious tone. If you're instead aiming for a schlocky B-movie feeling, these will be GREAT and hilarious. Bookmarks are there, but cover, mysteriously, only the new mutations, meaning they might as well not be there at all - a comfort detriment when running this via an electronic device.

Josh Vogt's module for Alterkine manages to create a pervasive sense of foreboding and its sandboxy structure and means for aligning with the respective factions is great. More importantly, the builds of the monsters and NPCs are varied and showcase well what awesome things can be done with Alterkine's rules. At the same time, the sandboxy structure does feel a bit inconsistent - not in its execution, but in its presentation. On one hand, key-NPC-interaction provides quite a bit of hand-holding, while the transition from scene to scene is more free-flowing and requires some work on behalf of the GM. This does not make the module flow badly, mind you - it just means the module is more versatile, but also more work than it could have been. A more pronounced structure would have helped the GM here - though, admittedly, I'm being a nitpicky bastard here.

In the end, this is a fast-paced, pretty apocalyptic and dark little module I thoroughly enjoyed. The builds of sample monsters bespeak a precise understanding of what makes unique foes tick and the low price point also helps make this a worthwhile offering. While the book could have used somewhat better transitions and while the artworks are ugly and bookmarks could be more extensive, the actual content of this module is pretty awesome. I enjoyed the finale, the boss battle, the factions...in fact, most of the content herein. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: The Ones We Were
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Alterkine: Dossier
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/11/2016 06:44:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This huge expansion for the D20 Modern/Future-based massive Alterkine rules-cosmos/setting clocks in at a whopping 128 pages of content, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page list of thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, leaving us with 123 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, I assume familiarity with d20 modern/future as well as Alterkine's player's handbook in this review, so if a particular mechanic or reference seems opaque to you, kindly check my review for Alterkine's Player's Handbook. All right, so, I generally liked the occupation-system as provided in the Alterkine player's handbook and this time around, there are a LOT more of them to choose from: Whether as a trusty employee of L-Mart, as a girl/boy scout or as a bohemian (which was my profession of choice for quite some time) ...or as a scream queen or ranch hand - the occupations herein are diverse, interesting and superior to those presented in Alterkine's Player's Handbook by a long shot regarding the quality of their design: You see, while not perfectly aligned, they generally provide them same level of benefits; there are no truly superior occupations herein, with all of them providing generally balanced benefits that juggle bonus feats, wealth and reputation bonuses as well as skill bonuses (and even cap-increases for skills). Overall, this chapter shows some serious growth as a game-designer when compared to the base book.

After this rather refreshing chapter, we are introduced to 3 new 10-level base classes, the Charmer, the Investigator and the Trooper. The Charmer receives 1/2 BAB, Fort and Ref-save-progression, 1 d6 HD, 4+Int skills and 6+ 1/2 level action points as well as Simple Weapons Proficiency, defense bonus scaling up to +3 and reputation bonus scaling up to +5. Charmers alternate each level between getting a bonus feat and a talent. Talent-wise, charmers are obviously geared towards being party faces - with skill-enhancers and personal assistants, they are a pretty diverse lot. Additionally, talents are grouped by talent-trees that allow you to mix and match or poach in one to switch to the other: Whether crowd-pleasing crowd-control of counter-terrorists, an ambassador's information access, proper diplomatic training, social chameleons, nobles or journalists, the diverse array provided is pretty impressive.

Fret not if you're a fan of the original base-classes, mind you: Drifters, Mystics, Scavs, Warriors and Techs also receive expansions to the talents they get, some of which certainly are on the more impressive side regarding their concepts: Following the drifter's animalistic body talent tree provides not only boosts to physical attributes, but also a bite and even a regeneration-like healing factor, one that thankfully is not proper regeneration, avoiding that particular hornet's nest...Still, in conjunction with any HP-sharing mechanic, this one means infinite healing for the group. Slow, infinite healing, yes, but still - particularly in d20 modern/future, which values hit points higher than base d20 due to the relative scarcity of healing options in quite a few of the supported campaign styles, this is problematic. On the plus-side, quick wall crawling and further enhancing lycanthropic powers (including options for size large shapes) and wild shape - the number of options is significant and while there are minor issues like the one I mentioned before, overall, they are more concise and internally balanced than the ones provided in the original book.

Undead controlling cultist mystics, monk scavenging and exorcisms feel like natural fits, but I was particularly enamored with the lucid dreaming/dream -themed options for their huge narrative potential. Scavs with their duelist talent tree or the bardic knowledge-like explorer make sense...oh, and there are the illuminatus-themed talents, which focuses on reputation, deniability and deception.

If you're suffering from some sort of insanity, you can go for the lunatic's talent tree, which provides a truly devastating barbarian rage-transcending rampage - but, horribly, it cannot be stopped or willingly initiated, instead being triggered by stress o things the GM determines. While power-level wise brutal (+6s to attributes...), the lack of control on the player's side makes this one not only neat for GMs, but also for players and groups that enjoy story-driven aspects more than direct control. Still, a GM should handle this one's power with care. Techs may elect to specialize in fraud-related talents, data specializations...oh, and they may now build robots via pretty concise and easy to grasp rules! Further rage control for the warrior, a bodyguard's tricks and taunting specializations may look pretty neat, but compared to the at times downright inspiring talent trees other classes got, this one feels a bit more conservative in its concepts.

The Investigator gets 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Will-save progression, defense bonuses scaling up to +5 and reputation bonuses scaling up to +4 as well as d8 HD, 6+1/2 level action points, 4+Int skills and simple weapon proficiency. like the charmer, these guys alternate between talents and bonus feats gained each level. Talent-wise, we get the whole shebang we'd expect from a class of this name - from forensics specialists to detectives and brilliant medical examiner, we get detailed crime scene analysis and intuition-based talents for the profiling of adversaries. Story-telling wise, there is some serious potential here- enough to make an all-investigator TV-crime-procedural-style campaign, in fact.

The trooper gets full BAB-progression, 1/2 Ref- and Fort-save progression, defense bonuses scaling up to +7 and reputation bonuses scaling up to +2 as well as d10 HD, 6+1/2 level action points, 3+Int skills and personal firearms proficiency. Like the charmer, these guys alternate between talents and bonus feats gained each level, though the list of bonus feats is significantly more expansive. Unsurprisingly, trooper talents focus more on the...let's say, martial bent of things. However, the class does feature a talent tree that should have quite a few of you, my readers, grin: There actually is a Colonial Marine talent tree here, which boils down to being basically exactly the Starship troopers toolkit you'd expect. Similarly, dead shot sniping and really deadly sniper tricks as well as heavy weapon specializations can be found here, though I consider not all talents with similar requirements to be of equal value here.

The skills of Alterkine also receive some coverage, with suggested skill-uses/basic discussions being rather solid. Obviously, such a book also contains feats: A LOT of them. The pdf provides no less than 9 pages of them - though here, the general quality is somewhat less than in the material introduced so far: From bland "+2 to Acrobatics" to an unnecessary rename of "Greater Two-Weapon Fighting" to "Two-Weapon Mastery," there is some filler to be found here. On the other side, perfect memories and implanting a (too short-lived) doubt in foes are pretty cool concepts. Still, a mixed bag in my book.

Now, the book also sports spells, many of which take existing spells and tweak them for Alterkine's purposes - confusion, for example, has its casting duration lengthened. The spells herein mostly represent such minor tweaks, which, while not bad per se, do feel like they could have been done sans reprinting the spells - all in all, this is filler and would have been better served by a general conversion guideline.

The final section of this book is massive - and is all devoted to advanced classes, which obviously follow the 5 or 10-level formula. Since going into the mechanical details for each would bloat this review beyond belief, I'll cover them in broad strokes. The first one herein would be the assassin, who can use action points to deal Str-damage, gets better sneak...and is surprisingly bereft of actual assassination tricks. No insta-kill moves here. The Casanova is a brilliant master of seduction and information theft, while both chaplains and commanders represent different styles of the commanding fighter with authority trope, one spiritual and one worldly. Here would be as good a place as any to mention a particularly annoying formatting/layout-decision: The respective class tables lack the names of the classes they belong to and are at the bottom of the respective class entries, meaning you'll sometimes see a new advanced class and the table of an old one on the same page, with the new class's table following a page or two later - cosmetic, sure, but needlessly opaque. Note that this is not always the case, which makes getting the right table a tad bit more annoying.

The commando is a solid fighter-ish one that learns precise damage output control, while the con artist is a solid face for the party. The crusader can be pictured as the paladin-lite with action points, focused on a certain idea/religion, while fighter aces are exceedingly capable pilots, who, at high levels, may go down in devastating blaze of glory-style ramming actions. The goodfella is a nice mobster-themed class, while grifters are specialists in legal loopholes and the acquisition of items. Gun Dancers are pretty lame dual wielding of firearms-type of guys that get abilities they require when the character already has spent the feats - these guys should offer their benefits as a base class, not as an advanced class...oh, and only, the ability for the Third attack is called "Greater Two-Weapon fighting", making nomenclature inconsistent with the pdf's feat-redesign.

Similarly disappointing, the Gun-Fu Warrior takes until 5th level to gain a unique ability that actually represents Gun Fu...and does so in a pretty bland manner. Similarly, while I enjoyed the concept of the law dog, the sheriff-style enforcer, I consider the actual abilities to be none too exciting. The Martial Arts Master, with varied means of using ki, is more interesting, though I really wished more space was devoted to the concept - 5 techniques are a bit few for someone spoiled by the huge amount of options most contemporary designs offer.

The mastermind, surprisingly, is most about minion progression and reputation - which is good and all, but crazy prepared, contingencies or the like would have been thematically fitting. Ninjas are particularly lethal and agile in a solid representation of the concept, while high-level SpecOps emphasize survival and taking down targets silently at higher levels. Spellslingers can enhance their guns and imbue spells in the bullets they fire, while terrorists are just that - unpleasant bastards with a network and several disturbing tools of their trade...including the manufacture of bio weapons. The warmaster is all about pain and torture and the decidedly unheroic sides of warfare. Weapon Masters are weapon specialists that can maximize a damage of weapons a limited amount of times day. The advanced classes section ends with a relatively solid note pertaining the xenobiologist and her specialization of healing and using medicine.

The book closes with a handy index.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good for a book of this size. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports numerous unique, nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with detailed, nested bookmarks.

Jeff Becker's expansion to Alterkine is superior in almost every way to the base book: The occupations and a huge amount of the options provided herein are simply more streamlined and feel more concise and often, simply more interesting, covering a diverse array of nice topics and character concepts. Similarly, the new base classes and their talent trees make them feel more diversified, more unique and interesting - the respective talents basically amount to free-form archetypes.

At the same time, the expansion does sport some unnecessary filler material that ranges from reprints and renamed feats to very minor tweaks that could have been covered more efficiently. Beyond that, the pdf offers a somewhat strange gap between base classes and advanced classes - where the base classes and their talents are now significantly more modular (particularly considering the material from the core book), the advanced classes feel very niche in a couple of cases, particularly since there is some overlap between the respective concepts: Assassin, ninja and SpecOps do similar things in similar niches, for example - making them more modular allowing for player choice would have been more elegant, particularly since e.g. the assassin is arguably weaker/less interesting than the ninja and specops operator.

More modularity among them and more pronounced advanced class abilities would have made this chapter nice - particularly since quite a few abilities offer relatively small benefits as opposed to truly new things to do. This, alongside the minor hiccups among the talents, ultimately remains the most pronounced flaw of this book.

That being said, at the same time, this is an expansion of Alterkine/D20 Modern/Future that definitely makes sense and feels like a significant step forward for the setting and its mechanics, with the increased design experience definitely showing. The classes, crunch, just about everything, is mroe interesting, more streamlined than in the first book. How to rate this, then? Ultimately, this book, to me, is pretty much a mixed bag, but one that remains on the positive side of things due to some of the truly awesome talents: The fact that this lets you play CSI, Criminal intent, Profiler, etc. with one class alone and retains the fact that all characters are different alone should probably make this worthwhile for quite a bunch of people out there. In the end, this may not be perfect, but it is a worthwhile purchase for those interested in modern/future gameplay. My final verdict of 3.5 stars will be rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Dossier
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Alterkine: 8 PreGens
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/25/2016 04:32:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content - which makes sense as soon as you open this pdf.

Why? Because as soon as you do, you'll be looking at character-sheets - pregenerated at 4th level, two pages of standard character sheet per build, because these are not pregens in the traditional sense - they are basic stats with some crucial equipment added. No names, no character. The alterkine-compatible sheets with slots for wealth and reputation have been filled rather nicely and cover the base classes trooper, warrior, tech, scav, mystic, investigator, drfiter and charmer.

Aaaand...that's about it. Class abilities, feat, encumbrance etc. are all listed, as are backgrounds and the like. Where applicable, ranged weapons lack the ammunition available for the weapon on the respective build's first page. The builds are pretty decent and neither useless, nor will they win any optimization-contest.

...

..

Äh...what else? There is not much to say about the pdf layout or formatting or editing-wise - if you've seen a d20-game-based character sheet, you know what to expect. It's bookmarked (Kudos!) and pretty solidly done.

...

Öhm. Yeah, that's about it. You know, I kind of almost went off on a rant how advice on how to play characters, personality, roleplaying advice and fully fleshed out stories pretty much have been the standard among the pregens I've reviewed so far...but that wouldn't have been particularly fair now, would it? This file costs $1 and provides a whole array of pregens for Alterkine/ d20 modern/future. It has neither frills or inspiring moments, it requires the player to make a character from the stats - but for one measly buck, it takes the work of making the mechanics for a group of level 4 PCs off your back - and that's a fair deal.

As long as you don't expect actual characters to come out of this, but are aware of what this pdf, you may consider this worthwhile. So yeah - I'm going to rate this pdf on its own terms, for what it is, rather than for what one could expect from pregens. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down - this is pretty much the definition of a low-cost, solid, but unremarkable offering.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: 8 PreGens
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Alterkine: Player's Handbook
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/18/2016 05:04:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This huge tome clocks in at 382 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page "thank you," a massive 10-page index (which helps navigation immensely) and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a gigantic 365 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So what is Alterkine? The simple tl;dr-answer for those of you particularly time-starved individuals would be that Alterkine represents basically a riff/expansion on d20 modern/future-rules.

If you require more precise guidance, let me enlighten you: Intended as a core-book, this massive book is pretty newbie-friendly, providing explanation on multiplication handling, dice-notation and the like in the beginning. Progress levels, swearing allegiance to entities, organizations and the like is covered and, unlike quite a few variants of d20-based games, the pdf provides an occupation-system, which generally modifies the skill-selection and provides in some cases bonus feats. At the same time, occupations sport modifications on the wealth and reputation-ratings of the character...which is generally a pretty cool thing. However, both GMs and players should well be aware of the fact that the respective occupations are NOT properly balanced among themselves: Being a student, for example, is significantly less useful than being a celebrity or being an academic prodigy, with powers ranging quite significantly between the less powerful and more powerful occupations - while this is only realistic, the discrepancy between power-levels still is something I'm not a fan of; particularly since no clear guidelines for the ramifications of changing occupations is provided.

As mentioned, there are fame/infamy-based reputation rules, which pretty much are solid and simple modifiers for relevant Cha-based d20-checks, whether skill-based or pure reputation. Wealth is not handled by direct currency, but rather via the abstract wealth-modifiers. Starting Wealth bonus equal 2d4 and can never drop below 0 - purchasing things can be achieved via wealth-checks, which are d20s plus the wealth rating. Wealth decreases whenever the character purchases an object with a rating beyond the character's wealth rating. Instead of traditional AC, Alterkine has a defense rating of 10 + Dex mod +class bonus + equipment bonus + size modifiers. 3.X's action points are also a part of the system, retaining the +1d6-modification, though some class features also sport this as a kind of resource.

Alterkine retains the classic injury and death-rules regarding fixed negative hit point-thresholds (-10 = death) and massive damage. Conditions, temporary hit points and environmental hazards, from poisons to diseases, lava, drowning, etc. all are explained in relatively simple and easy to grasp terms. Alterkine sporst several races, though going through them in detail would bloat the review unduly, so I'll instead provide basics, all right? The first would be the small, slightly pineapple-shape-headed Aasliy - premium entertainers that also sport a strict emphasis on trust. The setting also supports anthropomorphic animals, though inner-racial balancing is odd, with 1st level flight (sans maneuverability-rating) is part of the deal for some. The salamander-like Faluth may seem honest and guileless, but their +2 to all physical attributes makes them surprisingly powerful - and yes, if you've been following my reviews, you'll note something: The races herein pretty much hit all my pet-peeves: 1st level flight? Check. Lopsided attribute-dispersal? Check. Too strong minmax-gearing towards specific classes with +4s to attributes? Check. Similarly, the orc-like, large Ghasmorgh are very powerful and sexually dimorphic, with females being LA+1, males LA+2 - and again, I was never a big fan of LA, though your mileage may obviously vary. The slightly feline Kidaana-ahe gain predator/wanderer-themed bonus-feats and scent, but at the cost of LA+1 and cybernetic restrictions. Pure Strain Humans get +2 Int, Cha and Con, increase HD by one step, while sentient plants can receive quite a few variants. The races all sport height and weight tables and while they hit several of my pet-peeves, I guess that, with some minor exceptions, they work pretty solidly in conjunction with one another and cover the central tropes you probably want covered - bruiser, carefree guy, weird race, etc. - most bases are covered.

The pdf sports a total of 5 base-class, all of which feature the default ten-level progression of d20 modern/future, sporting good, medium and bad save-progressions, the usual BAB-progressions and scaling progressions of defense-bonuses and reputation-bonuses. The class tend to come with so-called talent-trees, which provide either a kind of internal choice or provide a linear ability progression. The set-up and presentation of the respective talents and classes remains pretty well-crafted, though, particularly should you be used to PFRPG's or a similar d20-games' level of choices, you may consider them, from tech to mystic and scav, perhaps a bit restrictive. That being said, on the plus-side, the classes sport no dead levels.

Alterkine is more advanced than the classic d20-systems, though - the skill-selection provided adheres pretty much to standards closer to PFRPG than D&D 3.X - from Athletics to Analytics to a Culture-skill and Deception, the more versatile skills provided for Alterkine work well and are concisely-presented...and yes, Demolitions Drive are part of the deal alongside e.g. Intrigue and the like. Concentration is also a skill here, though with a decreased emphasis regarding magic, it no longer acts as a stringent non-optional skill-tax on casters.

Now obviously, in such a system, one requires feats - and, no surprise, this book provides a huge array of them - and they are interesting in some cases, utilizing e.g. the new mechanics and materials introduced, though, much like in 3.X's design-paradigm, you need feats for several things that imho should not require them - suppression fire, for example. For each great example that blends a new item's possibilities with relatively neat mechanics, there, alas, are instances where I just had to shake my head: Take the Thunderhawk and Thunderbird Styles - mechanically, they are pretty much identical and don't require one another. The Thunderbird Style has slightly less penalties when combined with another style and less potency (1d2 rounds of stun) and 1 BAB less prerequisite...and that's it. Design like this is textbook filler cookie-cutting in my book and simply wasted space. But that may just be me being a spoiled prick.

The equipment-section of this book, containing gadgets, restriction-rules and weapons from flamethrowers to chain saws and even paint ball guns is extremely detailed - a level of detail also extending to armors...oh, and before I forget about it: Yes, this book sports a huge ton of options to customize the respective equipment pieces, both armors and weapons, in a rather versatile manner. It should also be noted that the pdf is rather concise regarding the presentation of the respective equipment types, for they are grouped by progress level: Playing in a rather regular, modern version? Equipment all grouped in one space; contemporary earth invaded by foes with superior technological knowledge? No biggie. I did not expect the respective sections to adhere to such a smart and well-thought out presentation, so kudos where kudos are due!

The book also provides a diverse array of advanced classes - which would be basically prestige classes by any other name (in case you're not familiar with the concept d20 modern/future uses), ranging level-wise from level 5 to 10 - so yes, combined with the 10-level base-class progression, this makes no attempts pretending that the advanced classes are what you want to get: From Psi-soldiers to road warriors and genetic chameleons, the diversity provided among the significant array of PrCs here is pretty neat and certainly shows off some of the better aspects of 3.X's design-philosophy.

In case you haven't noticed: Beyond the PrCs and significant equipment choices and modifications, customization is the name of the game, which includes, in chapter six, a rather significant array of rules regarding mutations: From carapaces to bird feet and webbed digits, this chapter provides some neat tricks and also represents a rather solid scavenging potential - particularly since, from the rules-relevant to the more exotic or cosmetic, this book sports a huge amount of mutations, many of which I really enjoyed. The balancing is interesting in itself here, at least in concept: Mutations have an MP-cost, which must be paid for in drawbacks taken. At the same time the system thus does lend itself to some serious power-gaming, though thankfully, this is offset somewhat by a GM-control caveat, though, I still do think that some of the new rules could have used a more precise wording: The trunk mutation, for example, nets you "an incredibly strong nose like that of an elephant, with a Strength equal to half your Strength." - So, can the trunk manipulate objects? Wield weapons? Execute slam attacks? No idea. While not the rule, there are quite an array of such minor hiccups and they alas do accumulate. Telekinesis would be another example of a needlessly opaque mutation, failing to specify whether the damage is caused to the moved object, to the target of the telekinesis, to targets in the path of the moved object...while it is pretty clear what the mutation intends to achieve, it is in such instances that this book shows its status as a freshman offering, lacking the precision I expect from rules.

While the massive chapter of psionic talents sports a similarly expansive array of unique and evocative tricks, there is no way arguing past the lack of individual ranges and the precision of some of these simply not being up to par: "Once per week, you are able to compress time around yourself and others, causing it to speed up at a speed of 4 times the normal rate." Okay, congrats, so what are the precise mechanical ramifications of this? When e.g. poisoned? 4 rolls in one round? Can the subjected targets act 4 times per round? I have literally no idea what this is supposed to do. Alas, it's not the only one with such issues. Where's the mechanical difference to the one that allows for the slowing down of time? No idea.

On a more positive note, the chapter of flaws, similarly extremely detailed and comprehensive, sports less blatant issues like this and can, as a whole be considered to be rather well-crafted. Now obviously, cybernetics are yet another crucial factor in the presentation of any setting with even remote scifi-leaning. A given character can have up to 1+Con-mod cybernetic attachments, with every exceeding attachment providing a negative level that also results in the loss of a highest level mutation or psionic power. Cybernetic fall in two self-explanatory categories: Replacements and enhancements. From bladed arms to cryogenic generators, we get yet another vast array of customization options - which, while covering a HUGE amount of ground, ultimately suffers from a similar syndrome as the feats - there are frankly some options that exceed others in potency and there is a bit of filler to be found. Similarly, there are e.g. force fields and the like that cause damage, but do not explicitly state activation actions or feature a save to halve or negate. Still, overall, a very interesting chapter.

The next step, would obviously YET ANOTHER huge chapter, this time dealing with bioware - i.e. biological tweaks of your body as opposed to technical ones. Once again, we are treated to a huge array of such modifications - though, unlike cybernetics, bioware, as presented herein, does NOT feature a restriction - you can, as long as you can afford it, load up on bioware until your purse gives out. From flesh-pockets to tendrils and even undead-servants creating lifedrains, there are some far-out and very powerful options here - and not much guidelines regarding pricing and balance, a practice that, alas, extends to gene therapy. Gene therapy allows for the acquisition of powers, mutations and the like via per se pretty concise short-term-treatment rules that fail to specify how long the application takes to apply. Gene-therapy even allows characters to gain acquired templates...which are powerful, but their acquisition is a pain: Number One: The pdf fails to specify a given cost for gene therapy, leaving me scratching my head. Secondly, each therapy for a template requires something along the lines of 25 successful Fortitude saves versus DC 20 - each failure nets you 2 points of Con-damage (I think, but I'm not sure) . similarly, I'm not sure whether a failure resets the counter; whether the process can be suspended and then, after healing, be taken up again. Neither does the book feature balancing advice for characters with gene therapy versus those without - basically, these look like level adjustment-powerful benefits and we're pretty much left in the dark as to their value.

The pdf then concludes with 4 post-apocalyptic-themed character backgrounds that modify attributes, skills, etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are top-notch and truly impressive - for a book of this size, the writing is pretty precise on a formal level. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column b/w-standard with copious, nice b/w-artworks I haven't seen before and some neat full color artworks of weaponry etc. EDIT: as per the latest update, the book now has bookmarks!

Jeff Becker's Alterkine seems to have a bit of an identity-crisis as to what kind of book it wants to be. On the one hand, the book begins with the very basics of d20-based systems and seems to have the goal of collecting some rules from d20 modern/future in a big book, preventing the requirement of swapping books. However, were I to judge the book on this premise, I'd have to, unfortunately, say that in this regard the Alterkine Player's Guide doesn't do its job - the lack of activation actions and basic rules for bioware etc. mean that this, in spite of its hand-holding approach in the beginning, becomes pretty much a book that requires some serious rules-knowledge once you get to the huge amount of crunchy nit and grit. At the same time, reprinting material from d20 future supplements mean that groups already having these rules will, once again, resort to book-swapping - so yes, I'm a bit torn as to how to rate this. If taken on its own, Alterkine will certainly result in some seriously raised eyebrows regarding how some of these rules ought to work - I found myself dusting off my d20 modern/future supplements quite a lot in order to make use of the rules herein.

This ultimately also extends to activation and action economy in particular - if one thing irked me to know end during this review, it was the requirement to switch back books to re-establish the basic rules for the vast array of crunch herein and, with the added bookmarks, this can be sued more easily - which nets the book +0.5 stars.

Similarly, while there are A LOT, a TON of options presented within this book, both new and old, the matter of fact remains that some of the pieces of crunch are not up to snuff, filler or simply problematic regarding balancing guidelines and precise functionality - particularly the mutation or the bioware could have damn well used a more precise presentation, especially when the cybernetics chapter does indeed provide basic rules.

Now, all of this may sound overly negative and frankly, it shouldn't be: The new base-classes and advanced classes are well-crafted and diverse and while the book, as a whole, inherits several issues from the base books it utilizes, I have to note one crucial thing: The Alterkine Player's Guide is the biggest, most expansive upgrade for d20 modern/future I've read so far. This book sports a HUGE array of cool material - from the uncommon races to the advanced classes to the vast array of equipment and cybernetics, there are a lot of gems herein and the general rules-language of the "big components" tends to be surprisingly concise and fun; as far as 3.X design-paradigms go, this supplement does a good job indeed. At the same time, however, there are quite a lot of small rules-interactions that do not properly work out, that require clarification. Still, for one, this is a freshman offering - and the book is actually the work of two people: Author Jeff Becker and edited by Max Becker. Against this backdrop, one to truly congratulate the authors - this is a huge accomplishment for such a small team and the fact remains that, in spite of its flaws, you'll be very hard-pressed to find a supplement of this ambition and scope for d20 modern/future, one that oozes so much obvious passion for the system. Particularly, if you're comfortable with making rules-decisions, if you're a GM who has serious experience with it, well, then you will certainly want to check out this vast tome - provided you can get past the exceedingly annoying lack of bookmarks, that is.

As a freshman offering, this certainly is impressive (though the later Alterkine books, which I'll cover as well, are more refined), though its flaws weigh heavily upon the book; still, due to the huge scope, the gems that ARE in this tome and due to being the freshman book by HermaDolph and the lack of a good alternative as far as d20 modern/future-books are concerned, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, still rounded down, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Player's Handbook
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Alterkine: Figure Flats - The Ones We Were
by Giorgio G. P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2015 08:17:57

After that I have purchased this product I could only download two PPT files. The specified PDF file there is not.



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Figure Flats - The Ones We Were
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Alterkine: Character Sheet
by Jeff B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/15/2014 01:09:52

Love the sheet, very well laid out. I'm saving up to buy the book. The new one on Kickstarter looks SICK! Will it be available on here when it is finished?



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alterkine: Character Sheet
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