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Akashic Mysteries: Guru
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/06/2015 17:14:46

Once again, for full disclosure, I have received a review copy.

I am very impressed with the Akashic Guru. There seems to have been a special love poured into the design of this class, as it does everything that it sets out to do in spades.

The writing is good, and I didn't notice any errors.

But to dig into the meat of this class... I have to say that I was a little skeptical at first. The basic premise that you would have a class that uses non-lethal damage as a core assumption is tricky. It also relies a lot on status effects that may not affect every creature. My fears were readily assuaged.

And that's the most impressive part of this class; it is not a one trick pony. For a martial class (and an unconventional one, at that), it does a great job of giving enough tricks to make them stand out. When they are able to leverage their specialty, they can significantly impair their opponents without killing them, which I think is damned cool. The only problem I see with this approach is that the nonlethal aspect of the class might be overshadowed by overzealous party members, but it's not a problem that detracts from the class being effecacious and awesome.

I do like that the Guru can eventually damage constructs, though I would have liked a similar exception for undead, even if it would have been at an even higher level.

The Guru does a lot of interesting things, and they get even more varied and interesting as you pay attention to the philosophies. Their ability to invest into the Gentle Touch ability makes them potent status inflicting bad asses, and the abilities that tie in with Stunning Fist almost overshadows Stunning Fist itself, which is actually a good thing.

The ability to bind chakras is similar to the Vizier class, which I reviewed previously, so I won't go into much detail, but the plethora of tricks available there adds a vast quantity of potential to someone worried that they will simply charge and swing a weapon.

While I wonder whether the Guru ability to dispel magic continuously (including other veils) MIGHT be slightly overpowered, it does introduce a kind of dichotomy of power in which a Guru could fit into an ecosystem as an anti-mage, which the fighter can sort of fit into, but not as effectively as they should.

The various philosophies are great, filled with flavor and potency, and almost make the Guru feel like three classes (which may or may not be a good thing, I think it is good). The Akasin leans more towards Paladin, but is distinct enough to sound like a compelling class to take if you want to be a magical healing warrior monk.

The Sineater seemed like an odd choice at first, but is both thematically sound, and mechanically interesting. Here the Guru really becomes an interesting game of resource management in a way that does not turn into a number crunching slog. You hope to suck sin away so that you can use some expensive but awesome abilities. Maelstrom of Sin is an especially fun ability that I would spend whole minutes describing during a battle scene, were I a player using the Guru.

Vayists are even more interesting still, being a true protector in a way that few martial classes can match. I love their thematic, and I love the ways that they can really play up defense and protection, but I just wish that there was a better way to regain essence, as the Sineater philosophy does. They do regain essence from attacks that target and miss them, and I might be underestimating the tendency for that to happen, but I have spent too much time in Pathfinder to know that classes that wear light armor can't rely on not being hit.

Feats again are similar to the Vizier's, so I won't review them. They still rock for multi-classing, and I am even more excited about the prospect of a Guru multi-class. I don't even know what I'd do with a Vizier/Guru, but I'm sure that it'd be awesome.

The veils are again similar to the Vizier, though there are a number of Guru only veils that are equally impressive. I say again that the toolbox that this class has may seem truncated at first compared to a wizard, but the veils really do a good job of presenting an intricate but intuitive system for magic that complements the Guru perfectly without feeling overpowered.

Aerial Nimbus is awesome, and I get the reference. I'll admit, it's cool.

Overall, the veils are a wonderful toolbox of interesting effects that make the Guru (and all Akashic disciplines) an interesting.

The Guru steps outside of the purely martial, being a true warrior of mercy that can impact the battlefield without being lethal, and that makes me happy as a player, a GM, and a freelance designer.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Mysteries: Guru
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Lords of the Night
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/06/2015 07:29:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 82 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 78 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Before I dive into this massive book, let me ramble for a second: As quite a few of you know, most people looking for a convenient label for me, would describe me as either a nerd, a metal-head or as a goth - most of the time, any combination of the above is utilized. It should hence come as no surprise that I'm into vampires - like, a lot. Okay, one may speak of an almost unhealthy obsession with the mythologies - from strange real-world myths to literature, I have read more on the feasters of blood than on any other fantastic creature. I also have probably spent too much time properly analyzing Dracula and similar early vampire fiction like Varney, constructing different interpretations and weighing the pros and cons of academia's diverse readings.

Indeed, vampirism, from the very earliest childhood on, has always exerted its allure in a disproportionate fashion on me. The imagery of Snow-White, the longing for immortality and the blending of Eros and Thanatos, the imagery of blood - it resonates deeply with me. Where many of my friends enjoyed the tales of Raistlin and his fellows or enjoyed the adventures of Elminster, my true (anti-) hero of old, my favorite old-school character, bar none, will always remain Strahd Von Zarovich. No, not the horribly butchered one from 3.5's Ravenloft-rerelease by WotC, but the classic one that Arthaus kept alive (in a figurative sense) in theme and tone before their license was revoked. And yes, if you have to know - for me, the end of the superb 3pp-Ravenloft-line was a crippling blow of significantly higher proportions than the soon-to-follow sundering of the realms via the spellplague. (If you didn't care about either and considered the other takes superior- I don't judge, mind you.)

I have hence played Ravenloft for over 10 years of my life and expanded the mythology of the setting in a huge amount of forms, not the least of which would be a vast array of vampire-strains - beginning with conversions of just about all VtM-bloodlines, I worked my way through mythology to create the super-powerful, highly lethal foes I wanted. Yes, I am opinionated regarding vampires. I, for example, believe that PFRPG nerfed them too much. I furthermore believe that playing vampires is awesome, but also an issue, since it poses an essentially unsolvable conundrum when used in any vanilla d20-based game.

The conundrum I'm talking about, is the Buffy-issue. Vampires are awesome because of the cool things they can do - their speed, supernatural powers, etc. - essentially, they constitute an eroticized power-fantasy that resonates with the ID. The issue begins, when, like in the serialization of Buffy, the vampire becomes a common adversary or an anti-hero. We have an issue of narrative cohesion - while playing a troubled character or anti-hero allows us to delve into the notions that exert the fascination of vampires in the first place, ultimately, it necessarily undermines a foundation of the shared experience that is inherent in roleplaying when such a transformation is singular and not a phenomenon provided without distinction to all players. In more direct terms - if only one player gets the cool toys and power, the others will be fed up. If the vampire is hamstrung by being balanced in a traditional notion against the mortal races, the experience will necessarily feel like a bland caricature of what we truly want out of playing a vampire. It is due to this conundrum, that VtM, for example, assumes all-vampire groups as a default...and it is this endeavor of enabling the full-blown vamp-experience that makes mastering for a mixed-clan coterie, with all disparate passions and allegiances exacerbated by vampirism's tropes such a colossal pain in the rectum. Yes. I've been there. Good ole' WoD - R.I.P.

So this is the general issue that is the base underlying problem faced by this book. A second issue would be, akin to VtM, the necessity of establishing the psychology and social structure of the vampiric society - essentially, here, the book takes a good look at Vampire and translates the crucial enablers for vampiric roleplaying, for establishing a believable society, into PFRPG: From the taboo of one's lair to the importance of the masquerade, here called "occultation" to matters of respect, the vampiric mindset and the rules governing the society of the night are covered -as is the process of siring new vampires (which, as per this book, costs XP) and the impact of vampires in the lightless depths of the underdark.

How does this book, then, depict vampires? Well, first of all, it treats vampirism as an acquired template - the only imho feasible way to handle the transformation - at least from my experience as I've used this particular set-up in my game, offsetting the benefits of the template versus other story-based rewards I handed out to the non-vampires in the group. Vampires as depicted herein gain darkvision 60 ft or extend it by 30 ft., get primary natural vampire fangs and, when used to damage foes that contain blood, provide 1/2 the damage-value as temporary hit points that stack with themselves, up to 1/2 of the maximum of the vampires hit points, lasting for 1 hour. Yes, this essentially provides a means to add 1/2 your hit points temporarily. Vampires also receive channel resistance +4 and may choose from several SPs - disguise self, charm animal and person (later also monster), an animal companion at class level - 3 or two claws - which, I assume, are primary weapons as per the claw standard - still, would have been nice to note, since there are different claw/claw/bite-combo-precedence cases. These claws can also enhance the temporary hit points, which renders them extremely strong when compared to the SPs with their limited daily caps. I encourage GMs using this book to eliminate the temporary hit point gain via claws for PCs to maintain balance. Vampires as depicted here cast no shadow or reflection and suffer from the Thirst - this can only be slaked via blood ingested via the bite, with a paltry 10 hit points per night being enough to slake the thirst for another night - nasty at low levels, but pretty soon inconsequential. Vampires exposed to sunlight do not perish as per these rules, instead being exhausted and taking a -4 penalty to all level-based variables. Furthermore, vampires have to choose one of several weaknesses - vulnerability to holy symbols, a weakened physiology, +15% fire damage (odd - PFRPG usually does not use +1/4 regarding damage factors...)...or Arithmomania, in a homage of our Sesame Street's good ole' count. Vampires get Str, Int, Wis or Cha +2 as well as Bluff and Diplomacy +2 and clock in at a total CR +1. It should be noted that, thankfully, optional restrictions to sapient life have been included as rules-alternatives.

Yes, the vampire is strong as presented here - but the pdf acknowledges this and suggests a whole-vampire campaign as the default modus operandi - and concisely presented modifications regarding playing characters sans Con-score are provided.

Death's Kiss, the mark of transformation, also is properly represented. Obviously, sooner or later, one will be tempted to streamline the process of feeding in such a campaign - this is handled with a skill-check of Bluff, Stealth or Survival-check versus DC 15 + the Alert level. (Though personally, I would disallow e.g. Survival in a Metropolis and Bluff in a wasteland...) Success provides 5 hp worth of feeding, + 5 per point the DC was exceeded. Failure increases a settlement's Alert Level by +2. The alert-system, one of the coolest mechanics introduced here, ranges from 0 to 10, with 0 representing peace and 10 meaning full-blown manhunt. Alert Level is increased when provocations are witnessed - these would be sightings, strange occurrences, etc. - a total of Alert Level occurrences raise the level by +1 - an Alert level of 4 is raised to 5 after 4 provocations. Now the intriguing thing here is that settlements with e.g. dark secrets, superstitious places etc. react differently and that this system actually interacts with the settlement statblock rules utilized in PFRPG - and yes, alert levels and infractions of vampiric occultation are all covered, including concise definitions of the alert level-groups with proper rules-ramifications -if you're a vampire, you better learn your spycraft and cover-ups... Settlement size also features into this general notion - so yeah, this system should be considered a prime addition to this book and from what I have gleaned, the modifications of the respective levels are sufficient enough to make vampires want to avoid mobs...

Further observations for vampire campaigns go into a level of detail I did not expect, including "coming out" as a vampire - and yes, I used this analogue consciously as a note towards the homoeroticism that is just as much part of the vampiric subtext as that of hetero-normative erotica.

At this point, let me comment on a peculiar tidbit - I actually have seen the pre-alpha of this book, the very first iteration of it and thus have a in-depth insight into what has changed. A couple of times so far, I have mentioned explicitly "in PFRPG" or "changed" - this was no lapse on my part. Indeed, this book began as the PFRPG-conversion of Green Ronin's nice 3.X-resource "Fang & Fury" - though, quite frankly, this book does not have much in common with it any more. Where the pre-alpha I provided basic feedback (essentially: "Get this back to the drawing board.") pretty much was defined by a point-by-point-conversion that missed the more subtle changes in design philosophy (and average quality), the authors have since then gone and utterly changed this whole beast - this has just about nothing to do with its predecessor and the book is infinitely better off for it!

For once, would you like to play a vampire's equivalent of a paladin? The Nightguard archetype would be just what you're looking for - essentially, this is a great representation of the fallen knight that clings to a rigid code of conduct, yet still sees his abilities changed, with more and more nemeses replacing mercies. The Frenzied Slayer Barbarian archetype is interesting in that the frenzy they exhibit is Dex-based.

The pdf also provides PrCs and I'm not talking about updates of the exceedingly lame ones from Fang and Fury - greater vampires get d8, 4+Int skills, 2 levels of class feature progression 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves - the 5-level PrC is essentially a vampiric paragon class that allows for more vampiric powers, attribute upgrades, mist form - what you'd expect. I like it! The Lethe Adept, at 4+Int skills, d8, !1/2 BAB, Fort- and Will-progression and 7/10th manifesting progression, would be the psionic PrC contained herein. Lethe Adepts may feed via the causing of mental ability-scores and are superb puppeteers and mind-control specialists - at high levels, they may literally will their "hollow puppets" to die as a capstone. No save, just a HD-cap. Ouch. Awesome!

Sussuratori would be, flavor-wise, the secret-keepers and police of the vampires - essentially the enforcers and information control guys and gals - at full BAB-progression, 1/2 Fort- and Will-save progression, 5 maneuvers known and 3 maneuvers-readied as progression - yes, this would be a Path of War-PrC. At d8 and 4+Int skills per level, Sussuratori are masters of bringing their prey in alive and striking silently. Rather annoyingly, the alignment-based bonuses "axiomatic" as a lawful version of "holy" can be found here - considered them clunky and superfluous in Path of War, still consider them bad design here. But that is just me being cranky. This general level of crankiness is quite frankly offset by some of the coolest abilities ever - like preparing a special coffin, into which your subdued prey is then teleported. Awesome for extractions! Just as the increased nonlethal damage output that may silence its victims. At the same time, I can nitpick this ability- it is not codified to act as a conjuration [teleportation]-ability, which hence makes it RAW impossible to counter or prevent. Oh well, the capstone allows them to pronounce encounters anathema - accounts shrivel, people can't talk about it - talk about a conspiracy of silence. Obviously, the power-level here is geared towards Path of War, so the usual disclaimer applies due to the system - theme-wise, the PrC is just ridiculously awesome - to the point where I'm going to scavenge the friggin' hell out of it for my home-campaign...

The 5-level Black Templar has 3/4 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-save progression, d8, 2+Int skills per level and full veilweaving progression - yes, this also has new fodder for the extremely promising akashic mystery-system. The class allows for a touch attack of 1d8 per class level +Con-modifier. Yes, Con, for they are per default assumed to be the living who steal essence from their foes alongside the temporary hit points gained. The class may expend these hit points to generate debuff zones and transform foes defeated via essence burn into zombies under his control.

This ability is as problematic as you'd expect it to be - for one, this fails the kitten-test HARD. Secondly, the stolen temporary essence allows for the continuous maintenance of an unlimited essence-burning option of up to twice the character's level - level, mind you, not class level. Granted, they only last for class level + Con-mod minutes, but the ability still pretty much allows any PC with a bag o' kittens a massive advantage. Yes, this PrC is evil-only, but in the hands of an evil PC...ouch. Take a look at the essence available, the ONE limiting factor of Akashic classes.

EDIT: I'm only human and I firmly believe in OPENLY standing up for my mistakes, so there you go: My original review got one thing wrong - the Black Templar's temporary essence caps at 2 times the class level, which renders my original statement of escalation hyperbole. So let me state this loud and clear - I made a mistake and profusely apologize for this. Thankfully, my players did not make this mistake when we played -they never drained more than two kittens in the sample adventure I ran this in. Once again: Mea Maxima Culpa!

No, you do not only get essence for touching akashic creatures or characters. One touch, at fifth level, nets you 5 essence, which means that 2 kittens net you the 10 temporary essence you require. That would be 12 seconds for this charging, which, provided a halfway decent Con-score, leaves enough room to annihilate your foe. So, the only other class features and options that provides temporary essence would be Bloody Shroud's body-bind and the guru's capstone ability Immortal Essence - but that one's temporary essence only lasts for Wis-mod rounds and requires the expenditure of stunning fist via the sever the flow-ability, making it limited. So, where's the issue? Essentially, the set-up for akashic classes is one of resource-management: They are balanced by making the player's choice matter - essence burn is nasty and is a choice that decreases the otherwise pretty flexible and awesome resources of the system: Essentially, you can go with passive benefits or get the more awesome, burn-powered effects - but for that, your resources for the day slightly decrease, meaning you can't perform it all the time. Even a one-level dip into this class allows a Black Templar to bypass this via a readily available array of essence to be expended sans repercussions. Michael Sayre has pointed out that the PrC does not gain essence per se and this is indeed a limiting factor, though it's one that merits specific mentioning once the Akashic supplemental material hits sites, since e.g. psioncis and spellcasting treat this kind of interaction with a PrC differently. I maintain, though, that this is less of a problem that one should assume - since burn can be completely relegated to the temporary essence and since temporary essence can easily, quickly and more reliably regained in combat than with the guru's capstone and lasts longer to boot, this PrC still gets rid of this limiting factor, making it possible to maintain the existing veils more persistently.

These guys may also infuse devastating poisonous essence into their adversaries and finally, make their undead permanent. A nasty PrC indeed and one I'm a bit weary off - the touch attack's significant damage, when combined with e.g. the guru's damage-output, can result in levels of damage that are rather nasty. In short - I consider this PrC pretty broken in a variety of ways and won't allow this for mortal PCs unless in a vampire campaign to even the odds and I hereby warn GMs of the combo-potential of this one - it's not bad or broken in every context, mind you, but it can pretty easily be made VERY, very nasty and highly problematic.

The pdf also provides a significant array of feats to customize your vampire - from closer semblance to the living to enablers - i.e. influencing undead with bardic performances, adding bites to initiated strikes, ignore the mind-affecting immunity of undead - the feats generally provide nice ways of evening the playing field for the undead. Essentially, the feats here are enablers, i.e. feats that render abilities valid in a context where they otherwise wouldn't be. I like that.

However, personally, I am not a fan of the "ignore immunity"-type of design; it also brings me back to my first campaign, where multiple ignore/don't ignore-effects stacked and stockpiled - a solution that utilizes scaling via HD, e.g. HD+4, would have rendered these imho better balanced and made them feasible for regular campaigns -as written, the content herein fits within the framework of Lords of the Night, but beyond it, I'd be weary of quite a few of them, for example From faking death to undead companions - the concepts are solid, so please do not get the wrong impression here.

Next up would be a new martial disciplines for the Path of War-system practiced by the organization Scales of Mourning - the Unquiet Grave. The Scales of Mourning is interesting in that it actually provides an oath of initiation - you trade one of your disciplines for Unquiet Grave as a consequence of initiation into the order. Oh, and you become immortal (ceasing to age etc.) when joining this order...but only for as long as you maintain your oath. And this one is intriguing - essentially, they perceive the duality of life and death, positive and negative energy, as a necessity and thus try to keep the two forces in balance, which may pit them versus necromancers...or use them to counter the balance of rampant growth via positive energy. Harbingers, mystics, stalkers and warlords may learn this discipline and the associated weapon groups would be axes, natural, polearms and scythes, with the relevant skill being Knowledge (religion). I love this fluffy introduction and the themes evoked here.

The discipline is different in a selection of unique ways. For one, strikes are supernatural abilities and may be expended to utilize negative energy to heal the undead for 1d8 points per expended strike. Quite a few maneuvers have second effects that are only executed if the initiator is undead - these would be marked with "Grace Call," though the initiator has control on whether or not to have this additional effect work. Several of the maneuvers grant temporary hit points that stack with themselves (urgh) and other maneuvers, up to a total of +1/2 the initiator's maximum hit points, for up to one hour. Stacking with itself is a pretty straight and imho unnecessary deviation from how default sources of temporary hit points work, so yeah, not sold here. It should also be noted that the expenditure of strikes, with them being an unlimited resource, allows for the infinite healing of the undead - which is NOT something I'd allow - even in a high-powered vampire-campaign.

Let me go on a slight tangent here - one of the crucial flaws of Path of War and, to me, the most jarring one, worse even than failed kitten-tests, was never the damage-output. Yes, the system offers a low optimization threshold,. Yes, the damage is massive. But for certain campaigns, this system, as mentioned in my reviews of its files time and again, is just what the doctor ordered. And its basic system is FUN. While I'm no fan of the utterly easily exploitable skill-roll versus X-mechanics, this is still something that may not feature as problematic in certain campaigns, while in others, it can wreck all kinds of havoc. However, more so than the design sin that failed kitten-tests will ALWAYS remain, the infinite healing exploits are just horrible, and I will fight anyone on that. Healing is a limited resource in PFRPG - and in every game I participated in, for that matter. Killing the limitation on it radically changes the game and invalidates the assumptions regarding encounters per day, adventure structure, etc. In regular Path of War, the exploits at least require some levels and skill to pull off - not much, granted, but still. Here, it's the basic feature of the discipline. first level infinite healing. For groups, if you're playing all vampire/undead.

Interestingly, the discipline actually works pretty well in non-vampire games that does not sport characters healed via negative energy - in the hands of a non-dhampir etc., this discipline's broken infinite healing can mainly be used to stitch the minions of your necromancer buddy together - which is okay. The problem is, however, that both the vampires to which this is devoted and a certain number of races do not suffer from this restriction.

Here, we have a discipline that allows a first level vampire initiator infinite healing - as well as ALL non-undead characters in the group. If you combine this with any option (and there are quite a few) that allows you to transfer HP to allies, and you have infinite healing for the whole group, even mortal PCs. You are welcome to differ in your opinion, of course, but as far as I'm concerned, infinite healing is BROKEN in ANY campaign, even in (most) superhero-power-level-style ones. Even for a single character, much less talking about a whole party.

Yes, combat-utility is limited, but this still means you go fresh and fully rested into just about every battle. So, a GM in a less extreme campaign is left with either a gentleman's agreement or a mechanic that negates some very basic balance-assumptions of the game. Sure, if you're all about waltzing over your foes, this is fun - but I can wager that, for many groups, this utterly breaks the game, the challenge and thus also, the fun.

"The following section presents a new martial tradition and martial discipline, both of which are suitable for any campaign." is the intro of the maneuver section - and this is, quite frankly, horribly wrong. Infinite healing is not something "suitable for any campaign." And seriously, this breaks my heart, because I actually like Unquiet Grave. Yes, didn't see that coming now, did you?

Okay, so how do the maneuvers of the discipline fare? Extremely well. No, seriously. The imagery is glorious. Temporary hit points via attacks may be nice - but what about the gravekeeper's hood-boost that temporarily makes you immune to blindness? Yeah, damn cool visuals - though, on a nitpicky side, channel resistance increased as offered by its Grave Call usually have a "+" before the increase - but minor hiccups like this do not impede the functionality of the boost or my final rating.

I also enjoy negative energy resistance (or positive energy resistance for the undead!) - or what about a counter that temporarily shrivels your anatomy, revealing the skeleton beneath, while also granting you DR 5/bludgeoning? I'm a bit weary of a 3rd level strike temporarily preventing ANY healing on a failed save, though. A stance that prevents you from being slowed too much by mimicking the unshakeable determination of revenants would also be awesome. While I love the imagery, the Headsmen's Descending Strike can be considered problematic - if your foe is below 1/4 maximum hit points, this one means save-less insta-death. Yes, in a fight versus e.g. a dragon, this strike can be terribly anti-climactic. 6th level imho is too soon for this power - I would have expected it at 8th level, the soonest. Still, there is a LOT to like -for one, no skill versus AC attacks. Additionally, the imagery resonates with me and is awesome in many cases. Indeed, were it not for the infinite healing exploit, I'd consider this the best, most balanced and interesting discipline created so far - the additional effects and tactical dimensions offered by the Grave Call are absolutely awesome. So yes, I will use this...and ignore the hell out of the infinite-healing-option.

The book also sports an array of different spells and powers the undead will indeed cherish - positive energy resistance (or healing inhibition), belching forth clouds of negative energy, emitting blazes of sunlight - some pretty nice options. Making it hard to communicate the contents of a text? Now that is interesting, as is temporarily making the undead come to life again - but with their undead personality intact... What about dissipating into a swarm of bats to move stealthily around, Castlevania Lords of Shadows II-style, interestingly, as a transmutation spell? Now the letter is awesome, but it does have some minor issues - as written, the spell allows for the caster to teleport via the bats, when obviously, line of effect would be required - essentially, the spell would allow, RAW, to get past walls of force, when from the fluff, the ability to move to the area should be required as a caveat. Vascular Snare is interesting - as a 3rd level spell, it reduces a creature's movement to 0 on a failed save, as veins tie it into place. Ripping the target free is possible, but deals 1d6 untyped damage per CL, cap 10d6. The reduced AoE and means to not rip free keep this a balanced and interesting option, though the spell would have benefited from a proper definition whether it can be cast on flying or swimming targets not in contact with the ground - a slightly more precise target-line would have made this perfect, though, admittedly, this would be a nitpick.

The new powers contained herein are similarly themed around the theme of acidic blood and delightfully gory visuals - the 5th level power Kyria's Vascular Disruption, for example, lets the target erupt in a spray of blood, which then congeals into a disgusting, entangling web. I love this power, though the entangling effects of the blood should allow for a Ref-save to negate for the creatures in the AoE. What about a power that allows you to essentially create a contingency stored power to reflexively strike back at your foe? Yeah, pretty damn neat! Of course, an occultation-enhancing power would also be here. The best thing about this section remains something different: Jade Ripley's Wilder-supplement went one step too far regarding the power-level of some powers contained within, but was truly distinguished in several design-decisions: First of all, the powers had numerous, interesting augments and the wilder-exclusive surge-augments constituted a design-element that actually made me enjoy a class I considered somewhat weak and bland. Now this book's powers have inherited the augment-option diversity and great concept of surge augments, but their balance actually feels right for the respective levels - strong, yes, but not OP. This section made me a very happy man, for I seriously hate bashing on awesome concepts due to balance-screws being off - this is not the case here. Kudos and two thumbs up!!

Now obviously, the undead have their own need for magic items - sun-negating parasols for the discerning bloodsucking lady, for example. Or what about a blood vault, which allows for the storage of temporary hit points for a later use...but at a certain risk? What about an artifact that can be attuned to a servant - and, upon being slain, the servant dies and turns into...well, you. Nasty and great for recurring villains! GMs will also appreciate this pdf sporting an array of NPC statblocks for the guardsmen - based on heroic classes and WBL - and that is GOOD. Seriously, putting NPC-classes versus vampire PCs will not yield good results, so personally, I very much welcome this decision. And yes, the builds are pretty solid - nice mini-codex.

The pdf goes beyond that, though - the final chapter herein is devoted to an intriguing array of builds of unique NPCs, as it depicts the Leatherworker's Guild, a sample society of the undead with its own rules and power-structures - much like a miniature vampire-subculture in VtM, we are introduced to multiple, well-crafted and pretty interesting factions that vie for control within the guild, all sporting different ideologies ranging from predatory, but somewhat benevolent to indifferent and downright vicious supremacism. The society depicted utilizes the Dreamscarred Press subsystems from Psionics to Path of War and Akashic Mysteries and generally delivers some pretty solid builds for the sample characters featured (ignoring my rules-concerns above since these guys and gals are subject to the GM's control)- but the true star here would be, once again, the fluff: From the mysterious, cloaked reaper that eliminates vampires (or mortals) that compromise the guild to the child-vampire "The Waif" that guards children and brutally destroys any undead daring to touch them, the characters are intriguing. The locations sketched also fall into this category - from the neutral-ground vampire-pub to the friendly mummy-granny, the panorama drawn here can be considered pretty awesome. In fact, if this section managed to make me want to see some modules in this setting. Kudos!


Editing and formatting are good on both formal and rules-levels - while there are minor oversight snd types here and there (e.g. a missing word or a blank space too much), generally, the formal criteria of the book are nice. Layout adheres to a blood-spattered variant of Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sport quite a nice array of solid b/w-artwork - though you should not expect the level of awesome of the gorgeous cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks.

When I first read this final version, I was thoroughly surprised - to get that right out of the way: Even if you have "Fang & Fury", this is worth getting - it has next to nothing in common with its "inspiration" - in fact, it is essentially a whole new book. The only things I really missed from Green Ronin's book were some of the delightfully twisted vampire deities, but apart from that, the fluff and content provided herein mops the floor with the direct predecessor.

This book also provides one massive issue for me as a reviewer: How should I rate this?

Okay, let's start with the ugly: We have failed kitten-tests here, beyond the option to only draw sustenance from intelligent beings. With a bag of kittens drained by the vampire, quite a few of the options herein can horribly cheesed. In the spirit of civil debate and since, by now I have ranted long and extensively about this topic, I'd like to draw your attention to Jade Ripley's blog - there, the author provides a well-reasoned justification for ignoring kitten-able abilities. Check it out! This is not intended as an attack, but rather as a rebuttal: It is, of course, a valid interjection to assume that GMs who have an issue with cheesing of abilities like this can easily resolve the issue. My point is, though, that there should not be a need for gentlemen's agreements like this in good design. I'm not sure whether I am a singular case, but I wager I'm not: I want my PCs to succeed, but I also want to challenge them. Now as soon as a player has an ability that can be cheesed via the kitten-test, the temptation of doing just that will always be there - and if it does show up, both the player AND the GM will be inclined to potentially allow it to e.g. prevent a TPK. This psychological pressure put on a group's social dynamic can create lingering resentment by the player, who might feel that the GM has "unfairly" limited his or her options and puts a strain on the GM - who wants his players to have fun. Good design does not generate situations like this and hence, I consider kitten-failures as rather serious design-issues. Your mileage may vary, of course.

This pdf, while having the Path of War-discipline I like best, the one with the most smooth and streamlined and arguably, balanced options, also offers the most bafflingly broken infinite healing exploit I've seen in quite a while. I am quite honestly baffled at the design-decision to mar an otherwise flavorful discipline this way - it imposes a very singular vision of playstyle on a discipline that otherwise would allow for a significantly broader application - essentially, Unquiet Grave unceremoniously shoots itself in the proverbial foot, when it's an excellent sprinter. Finally, the veilweaving PrC...well, I've ranted about this one in the above. There are minor hiccups here and there, but those would be the big issues I see - and they ultimately make this pdf, if one is to read it as a "allow everything" player-supplement, problematic - to the point I'd at the very highest, could go for something along the lines of 3.5 stars - for there are A LOT of downright awesome (and well-balanced!) options herein that make the unnecessary and to me, incomprehensible, issues stand out even more.
So that's how I'd rate this as a player-supplement.

The problem is - this is and is not a player-supplement. It can be read as such, sure.

But it could also be read as a campaign overlay or template as suggested in the beginning. And the book excels in this category in a triumphant fashion - first of all, the balance-concerns vanish since the GM can simply make them NPC-only. Problem solved. Secondly, this book not only is a valuable resource for vampire games: The alert-system provided is simple, easy to grasp, can be modified by any halfway decent GM and could just as well be used for lycanthrope-games or any gothic horror/dark fantasy campaign. The visuals of the new spells and powers and their effects allow you to create a grittier setting when used properly and the book continues to provide solid adversary-watchmen and an inspired vampire society. The fluff of this book is surprisingly captivating and compelling. While personally, I'll make the required 10 hp per day versus the thirst multiplied by the character's level to represent an increasing requirement of food for older vampires, that is just my personal taste and the fact that the system supports this is nice. Personally, I think summoned creatures, the easiest way to cheese the thirst, should be exempt from being valid options to slake one's thirst, but that is pretty much the only gripe I have against the basic system here. Conversely, one can take a page from Vampire and have certain vampires require noble blood, etc. - all these options are supported by a solid rules-frame.

So how did Jade Ripley and Alex Clatworthy respond to the Buffy-conundrum? Well, by making this a campaign-overlay. The vampires here are VAMPIRES. They are not nerfed losers, they are badass, strong and deadly - and hence, the basic assumption is that of a corresponding campaign. Now mind, you, I playtested this book quite extensively, with the subsystems and my complaints regarding infinite healing and the above issues remained valid in that context. However, at the same time, the alert-system and rest of the content - it's, in one word, superb. As a GM's toolbox, this book constitutes the by far best "Play a vampire"-book for any d20-based system I know. In fact, I like this book so much that I really would love a proper vampiric AP utilizing these rules.

If you modify this book's content and file off the few, but jarringly problematic pieces of content, you will quite frankly receive an absolutely awesome source-book to play the lords of the night. In fact, as a person and someone with his own fair share of design-experience, I will simply modify the problematic pieces - a task of ~10 minutes and what I get is an absolutely stellar, inspired resource. For me as a private person, there's no way around it - this resource blew me away. I really am inspired by it. As a private person, I can definitely recommend this...with one caveat:

For one, the veilweaving rules are still in the process of being tweaked. While promising to be perhaps one of the most awesome resources ever, this pdf's PrC, at least as written, provides some utterly nasty options that break the system's limiting factors. I am convinced infinite essence burning provides significant issues with a system that otherwise is on a great way to becoming an awesome, balanced option -essentially, it makes essence burning infinite (Go ahead, look at easily regained temporary essence in Akashic Mysteries - note something?), something that directly contradicts the very notion of the decision to use essence burning in the first place - indeed, this provides more easily regainable essence than a class capstone. In the end, this PrC makes an akashic class behave like a path of war class, sans the system-inherent inhibitors and with the greatly escalated power-level that is NOT inherent in AM. Akashic Mysteries designer Michael Sayre has commented on the Black Templar on my home page, among other things pointing out a crucial glitch in my review, so thanks for that! I still maintain that the PrC undermines the system itself and is pretty problematic, though.

Secondly, as mentioned above, I strongly urge MOST GMs to tweak Unquiet Grave if they include it in their campaign, even within the paradigm of Path of War - unless they don't mind vampire initiators with infinite healing...and groups with infinite healing. I don't judge, if that's how you roll - but quite a few GMs out there will not like this. The discipline's easy access to significant temporary hit points on its own already is strong enough -I playtested it sans the infinite healing and it played just fine with the other Path of War material.

Both components have one thing in common: They may fit a certain style of campaign. But put them into the hands of any halfway decent min-maxer and you'll suffer. Again, this may very well be within the paradigm of your campaign. If your players smash through most published modules anyway, you'll want to keep a close eye on this book and make sure these components stay far out of the reach of your players. If, of course, your campaign is pretty high-powered anyways and you have no issues with one-shot BBEG-kills and the like, then this obviously won't hurt your playing experience. In short, I do not get, at all, why these options restrict themselves by being more specific than they quite frankly deserve to be. I see a book of great content that could have been the ultimate vampire book for any d20-based game and am a bit frustrated.

But wait...in a way, it still is by far the best take on the subject matter. Necromancers of the Northwest's free vampire rules are okay, but they depict essentially a vampire that is more balanced against the core-races and manage vampirism via racial classes and thus loses some of the badassery of being a vampire. Fire Mountain Games' feat-based vampire-apotheosis may be functional, but personally, I always hated it. I also am not convinced that, even with the modifications mentioned in "Way of the Wicked #7", transition to a vampire-themed campaign properly works there. So in view of these two...yes Lords of the Night is by FAR the best, most compelling, most awesome option available for the subject matter- to the point, where, let me reiterate that, I really would love to see some vampire modules or even a whole AP using these rules. And, once again, a halfway decent GM can customize this book to suit his or her table's unique predispositions. I just wish that was not required, that I could unanimously celebrate and praise this.

Indeed, if this book's few rough edges had been polished off, this would be a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 - it's that compelling, that well-written, that awesome in its visuals. It gets vampires right. At the same time, as a reviewer, I can't for the life of me, rate this as a perfect book, as something for every table - an inexperienced GM with this book can potentially have a rather rude awakening. I sincerely hope that you, my readers, could draw enough information from this review to make up your own mind about this book and, furthermore, I sincerely hope that you either take my criticism, shrug it off and leave it or appreciate it and avoid an unnecessary pitfall in an otherwise great resource.

Finally, if you're looking for a way to make vampire adversaries as awesome as they should be, if you read this as a monster-ecology for the GM, then you'd once again have one damn lethal, awesome 5 star+ seal book.

So, what will be my final verdict as a reviewer, you ask? Well, on a formal level, I can't rate this as perfect, as much as I'd like to. However, what I can do is to add the sign of my personal appreciation to the book - and add my seal of approval. After careful deliberation, I will average the 3 possible ways and respective ratings for different readings and usages of this book.

So, we have:

-3.5, rounded down if read as an allow-all player supplement.

-5 stars + seal if read as a GM's toolkit/campaign overlay

-5 stars + seal if read as a massive vampire ecology

My final "official" verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval - though I have to round down. Please bear in mind, that in the hands of a capable GM and with oversight, this still can be pretty much THE definite vampire resource as both a campaign toolkit and as an ecology.

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of the Night
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Path of War Expanded: Harbinger
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/21/2015 03:02:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Before we dive into the analysis of this pdf, let me first make some things clear -I am not going to judge this pdf as per the power-level of the base game and instead take a look at it in the context of Path of War and its increased power-level -anything different would be rather ridiculous regarding an expansion to said system, after all. Conversely, this is not going to be a rehash of all my different takes on individual rules-decisions of Path of War that ultimately, to me, are unnecessary design-relics. If you're not familiar with the gripes I have with the base-system (and the opinions which diverged from mine on that, after all, I do not consider my reviews to be the only valid opinion!), you can read up on them in the extensive discussion on my site and certain boards. Hence, I will try to limit my complaining about these old gripes to a minimum, should I encounter them. Got all of that? Great!

This pdf introduces a new Path of War-class, the Harbinger, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and proficiency with simple and martial melee weapons, light armor and shields. The harbinger begins play with 5 maneuvers known, 3 of which can be readied and 1 stance, increasing this to 16 known, 10 readied and 6 stances at 20th level. Maneuvers may be chosen from Cursed Razor, Primal Fury, Shattered Mirror and Veiled Moon. For my issues with the old disciplines, please check my reviews of those. I'll return to the new disciplines later. Harbingers can be considered the brooding anti-heroes, the dark bringers of woe and as such, contemplating1 0 minutes of negativity allows the harbinger to ready other maneuvers. In order to regain spent maneuvers in combat, Dark Claim is used - as a swift action, the harbinger can claim a creature in close range she can see - this lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 her class level.

A harbinger can only have up to Int-mod creatures claimed at a given time, though such creatures provoke AoOs when leaving squares threatened by the harbinger with the withdraw action. The harbinger automatically knows the location of claimed creatures, though creatures not seen still receive total concealment and this does not prevent flanking etc. Whenever the harbinger activates this class feature, she recovers one maneuver and when she vanquishes a claimed target, she recovers Int-mod maneuvers. Alternatively, a harbinger may focus and spend a standard action to regain a maneuver. This mechanic is versatile indeed and worked pretty well in my playtest - while I personally prefer maneuver regaining to have a drawback to provide a more strategic process (and a playing experience with more high/low-phases), I really enjoyed how this plays out -clever tactics are rewarded: If played smartly, a harbinger will not want for maneuvers, though they can run out of them, requiring the expenditure of actions. Personally, I do believe it should be easier to run out of maneuvers. Still, the tying of the mechanic to setting up future maneuver-recoveries puts player agenda higher on the level, without providing the warlord's imho too significant benefits for doing so. More importantly, this enhances the skirmisher playing experience the class obviously goes for.

First level harbingers add 1/2 their Int-mod to attack rolls, 10th level harbingers also add full Int-mod to damage rolls, offsetting their 3/4 BAB. I am NOT a fan of dual stats to any roll, but that is documented by now, alongside the obvious means to min-max the s*** out of such a set up, right? They also get +10 ft. movement rate, increasing this by a further 10 ft at 10th level. At 2nd level, the class gets Dark Focus - a kind of specialization on one discipline, which nets +1 competence bonus to atk and save DCs with boosts and strikes of said discipline, increasing the bonus by a further +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 6th level nets wither Advanced Study or Discipline Focus as a bonus feat; 10th level nets a second discipline and 14th level provides the option to spontaneously expend a maneuver readied to spontaneously perform a maneuver known from the Dark Focus, which has a level equal to or lower than the expended maneuver. Finally, 20th level makes all maneuvers known of the chosen disciplines count as readied in addition to the ones readied regularly.

At 3rd level, harbingers may 1/encounter (thankfully now defined in in-game time in Path of War, so no more complaints regarding that!) move up to her speed as a swift action, increasing this by +1/encounter at 9th and 15th level; however, at these very same levels, harbingers can also opt for fly speed, swim speed and immunity to inhaled toxins/no more breathing required, or climb speed with bonuses to disarm and grapple OR the ability to teleport up to her speed as a move action - while the latter sounds like it is the most powerful of these, that would be a flawed assumption - the action economy versatility does somewhat balance these out, though teleport and flight remain clearly the stronger options. On a nitpicky side, though, I do believe that this short-range teleport ability does need to specify that it is a conjuration [teleport]-effect. Why? To maintain balance with existing mechanics that block teleportation-effects. Still, not a grievous oversight here.

At 4th level, the harbinger may initiate a readied strike as an immediate action once per encounter whenever she reduces a foe to 0 Hp or below, with the strike being required to have an initiation action of one standard action, +1/encounter use at 10th and 16th level. The limit helps to keep this in line and makes it a good resort when a harbinger needs an extra oomph. Now granted, this ability, while not looking like much on paper, is actually very powerful - seeing how, in many games, the GMs are not as adept at drawing out combats, these abilities may be considered very painful for a continuous micro-novaing through "small" encounters. 5th level provides a +2 bonus to AC and Ref when moving more than 10 ft. in a given round, rewarding alacrity - as does the 11th level ability, which allows for the movement of 1/2 movement as an immediate action 1/encounter. I like this ability per se, but does it have the capacity to waste e.g. attacks or spells executed against the harbinger? This messing with the movement economy is not bad, but some clarification would be nice.

As a nice mind game, at-will magic aura at 7th level makes for a flavorful ability, though one that imho would make sense at a lower level. 8th level nets better flanking and 12th level makes claimed targets shaken. 13th level provides one nasty control-trick - for Int-mod rounds, the harbinger may treat close range as melee reach for the purpose of initiating strikes, smartly avoiding the whole mess with reach and threatened areas - which is good! However, in an odd kind of way, the ability somewhat feels like it actually contradicts how the class plays - first, you're all about mobility and then, you extend your reach like a turret? Odd and an ability that ultimately feels like a jarring change of pace that does not fit within the frame of the class and its feel - like a foreign object. This ability fits better into a different class. 18th level allows for strike initiation (strikes with standard action initiation only) as an AoO and 19th level strikes IGNORE ALL IMMUNITIES. Ouch!

Okay, so the base frame of this class is very interesting and it is one of the most solid of the Path of War-frames provided so far - it also makes the flexible skirmisher concept, usually pretty hard to pull off, work very well, so yes, over all, I do enjoy the class, though it could use a tad bit more options to choose from among the class abilities to enhance the diversity among members of the class. However, I do see an issue and this would lie in the excessive increase of DCs - since the class uses Int for almost everything and does not suffer from a significant MAD, the sample builds, thanks to Dark Focus, managed a level of DC that surpassed other initiator classes and casters in direct comparison - with the power of the maneuvers, this constitutes a balance issue even within the context of Path of War even before taking other abilities into account, one that needs to be rectified.

Now there are two archetypes provided herein - the Crimson Countess and the Ravenlord. The Crimson Countess deals damage to creatures claimed - 1d4 at first, then 2d4 at 6th level, +1d4 every 4 levels thereafter. The ability per se is rather cool, though I have an issue with the damage being untyped - the lack of a means to negate the damage renders the character extremely potent against any threat that is short on HP and great on alternate damage-negation. This, theoretically, allows for very easy high-DR construct-slaying, for example. Applying a proper damage type would help here. At 2nd level, the crimson countess receives a pool of vitae points equal o the number of claimed targets, with a max storage capacity equal to the class level of the countess. The pool drops to 0 after 1 minute out of combat and the countess receives +1/2 Vitae points as morale bonus to atk and damage rolls made via maneuvers, +2 when executed against claimed creatures. The ability also scales with levels, providing unlocking additional means of utilizing vitae, with further untyped damage equal to her class level to all claimed creatures as a move action, additionally potentially providing 1d6 hp per creature claimed - the healing may be none too much, but it still makes me think that my countesses would carry bags of kittens around for handy claim-kills and infinite personal healing. sigh

On the plus-side, the ability does provide an expansion of the recovery options available, with higher levels netting forced teleportation (which should specify that the effect is a conjuration [teleport]-effect for the purpose of interaction with base rules) and a 1/encounter option to shove off half damage (or ability damage) to a target claimed creature - the latter can be extremely powerful, though the archetype actually prevents the worst of the ability's potential for OP abuse by establishing a minimum required amount of vitae to execute it, requiring a set-up. The capstone provides an exceedingly lethal save or take damage ability, though one that thankfully does not suffer from the base class's increased DC-issue due to this replacing Dark Focus. On the awesome side, the class receives the powerful ability to turn into a big pool of blood and reform later, getting a bunch of unique benefits while in said form. This archetype, in a nutshell, replaces agility with reliable damage-output - though swift action movement is still here. I love the fluff of this glorious beast. The Crimson Countess actually will see some use in my game (ONLY as an NPC-class) with very minor tweaks and imho, this archetype play radically different, with the minimum of vitae points putting player agenda and planning higher on the agenda than I would have expected. This is not a cookie-cutter archetype and it is fun - some minor tweaks can make it work even within my conservative preferred power frame.

The second archetype, the Ravenlord receives a bird-exclusive animal companion with the harbinger's Int that shares in several class abilities - now the clue is that the ravenlord may have the companion execute maneuvers, though only one strike may be executed per round by the pair. The interesting component here would be that they also generate a small area of debuffing gloom whenever the OTHER executes a strike, allowing for a fluid (and EXCEEDINGLY fun) switching between roles and benefits. Also: They actually can be defended against by being designated in proper rules-terms - good, since the penalties are massive. Still, no complaints against this awesome mechanic. Higher levels net increased durability for the messenger and switching teleportation (again, insert core-rules-interaction-mechanic). While this archetype has the Dark Focus issue persist, if you take this one's issues away (which is none too hard for an experienced GM), you get a thoroughly compelling and interesting archetype I sincerely enjoy.

Now this book also sports new feats, which are interesting - there are two mutually-exclusive feats that penalize claimed creature's atk by the number of creatures claimed, but only either when attacking creatures other than you or against you - but you may only choose ONE of these feats - either you divert or you kite, essentially. Making claimed creatures provoke AoOs when 5-foot-stepping through your threatened squares is cool as it emphasizes the tactics of the class. I also like a feat that lets you claim up to +2 creatures with one action, but I do think it should have a low minimum level - my gut'd say 5th level. Adding debuff effects to claiming, additional uses for limited abilities - the usual is here. Reach through Darkness is odd - it lets you treat creatures claimed that are 35 or more feet away from you as though they were only 30 ft. away for the purpose of powers, maneuvers and spells - this means yes, the target is considered in range. This is VERY powerful, though the lack of mitigation of line of sight/effect still limits the feat a bit, rendering it only a slightly ridiculous, instead of utterly ridiculous- thankfully! The Sin Eater feat is interesting in my book - it nets you twice the HD of a vanquished claimed creature as temporary hit points. Jup, kitten-proof. Kudos! I also like the ability to increase your movement rate by 5 ft. per creature currently claimed. Over all, perhaps the most solid feat-chapter I've read in a given Path of War-installment, with plenty of unique tricks.

Now you are, of course, interested in the two new disciplines herein, right? Well, the first would be Cursed Razor. This discipline is associated with heavy and light blades and spears, with Spellcraft being the key skill. Shattered Mirror, the second discipline, focuses on heavy and light blades and close weapons and uses Craft (glassmaking, painting, sculpture or sketching. Broken Mirror offers stances to curse temporarily foes hit by you and strikes that add nasty spell failure chances (also to divine casters!) - nice! There also would be a pretty interesting counter, one where I actually drum roll LIKE the fact that it's powered by a skill-roll. Why? Because it's a magical counter and it requires the target to be cursed - this requires set-up and provides a grounding of the odd mechanics within the context of the gameworld. Oh, and it helps that the effect is not one that vastly benefits from maxing the hell out of the skill. That being said, the "cursed" caveat employed by some of these maneuvers imho should be defined, unless the harbinger-class is intended to be the ultimate oracle slayer.

Spreading curses inside your aura, using brands to disrupt abilities - the discipline as such provides an intriguing array of options. The maneuvers also allow for paralysis - which is problematic since the maneuver in question ignores immunity to the save-or-suck effect, which, especially considering the VERY high DCs harbingers can get, is too nasty in my book. That being said, long-range teleporting foes into adjacent non-difficult terrain, attack with bonus damage? Cool! Plus: It gets the descriptor-thingy right! High-level stealing of abilities is also evil and fun. This is, no hyperbole, my favorite discipline so far -strategic, bereft of legacy-rules and logic bugs and focused on nasty debuffs and unique tricks, it is powerful - at low levels, perhaps a bit too much. But still - over all, the most PFRPG-feeling discipline I've read so far, with issues stemming primarily from the nasty and excessive DC-stacking of the base class.

The Shattered Mirror lets you do something interesting - utilize, for example, the atk of the last attack of the foe, dealing nasty damage to the target. Know another thing? The Skill/attack-material here is intriguing - using a skill IN ADDITION to attack rolls to add benefits to strikes? Now that a) makes sense to me and b) is elegant and avoids the easy stacking of bonuses on skills - kudos! A very powerful maneuver would be Equivocate - choose a target: When said target is subject to a power, psi-like ability, spell or spell-like ability, you also receive the benefits - and vice versa. While VERY powerful, this also allows for a vast array of exciting tactics. That being said, it is WIDE OPEN for abuse. You can elect to fail saves, so this one ability makes dragon-slaying pretty easy - establish this one, no save, eat harm and watch the colossus eat it as well - have I mentioned that the effects apply to single target spells and so on, even mitigating invalid ranges. OUCH. This needs some serious nerfing in my book. I'm not a fan of using a craft-check in lieu of a save, but that one will not break the game. Doubling strikes and setting the range at close is powerful - as is a strike that curses a target to receive damage equal to what it inflicts - thankfully of the same type. Still - nasty and also open for abuse, though to a lesser extent. Imho, such a maneuver should have a caveat that precludes AoE-damage from being reflected multiple times. The capstone covers a save-or-suck strike that imprisons the target's soul - yeah, ouch. Cool imagery, though. Shattered Mirror is an odd discipline in that it imposes, much like Blue Mage/Mimic-style-classes, a task on the GM - namely one that should be very aware of the potential of NPC/Monster abilities being hijacked. This does not need to be an issue, but it could be one since that type of foresight usually is not required - and yes, I can see a GM walk face first into a brick wall here.

I maintain, though, that integrating a scaling-mechanism into the ability-hijacks would help maintain a balance for less experienced GMs.

Much like Cursed Razor, I really like this discipline - though, once again, there are some maneuvers herein that can, even in Path of War's context need a serious whack with the nerf-bat and restrictions - still, very much more refined and versatile than what I've seen so far and, especially regarding the design-aesthetics, closer to the conventions of PFRPG. This does feel more like an offering belonging to PFRPG for me.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant formal glitches. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with nice artworks (partially stock) and is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, with a second one being more printer-friendly.

So, I was not looking forward to reviewing this. Path of War was a colossal amount of work and ended up, in spite of me trying to be very clear regarding my gripes and issues with the system, a controversial review. I honestly wondered whether I should review Path of War Expanded at all since the fans seemed to, at least partially, not want any criticism of the system and since the detractors just wanted me to bash it - neither of which ultimately was my intent. In the end, when Dreamscarred Press sent me the file, I admired the company's integrity and figured "What the hell."

I pulled out my copy and scheduled playtests for the material herein. Granted, playtests whose announcement did not elicit much excitement from my players, but when I actually read and ran this one, it turned out to be a thoroughly interesting class - my favorite in the whole series, in fact. The harbinger feels distinct, very distinct - more so than the original Path of War-classes. It is also, thankfully, bereft of any infinite-healing exploits ( with the exception of the Crimson Countess, who can be kitten'd and does get fast healing in blood pool form, but only late in the game), streamlines obsolete mechanics away and instead incorporates the heritage, including mechanics, in a frame that fits more organically with the PFRPG-rules. Chris Bennett and Jade Ripley have, on a formal level, created so far the best Path of War-class out there that has the most refined design-aesthetics. No make-believe damage types, no easy +20 atk.-exploits...nice.

That being said, purists may want to be aware of the very much annoying need to still specify what is "cursed" - which, ultimately, alas, could devolve in the final book into yet another inorganic make-believe term that requires massive revision on part of the GM like the loathsome '*&%§$ that is holy/unholy damage. Let's hope the definition does not go this route. EDIT, since two people have made this observation: Yes, I am aware of Cursed Razor specifying what "cursed" is in the intro-text of the discipline. Alas, there are a couple of issues with that: The cursed condition has no direct effects, which is a violation of how conditions work. Secondly, the term "cursed" is already heavily used in Pathfinder in a context where it does NOT pertain to effects of Cursed Razor, rendering the referring to the "condition" somewhat problematic. In order to future-proof this beast and render it less ambiguous, I'd strongly suggest a fixed definition of the condition set apart from the discipline as well as a new name for the condition that is not already assigned to a plethora of contexts. Or at least very specific referrals towards the condition as specified, as opposed to the other meanings of the word.When e.g. a boost refers to "when you initiate this boost you gain a +1 luck bonus to AC for each cursed opponent within medium range (100 feet + 10 feet per level), up to a maximum bonus of +5." there is no mention of the cursed condition, which creates a gaping loophole.

And yes, much like previous Path of War classes, the optimization threshold for the classes is pretty much non-existent - you will get a very efficient character out of this without needs to optimize; If you do, you'll get a beast, which also remains one of the reasons I am pretty much convinced that, as much as I like this class, the harbinger will not fit into low-powered games.

The harbinger is a fun glass cannon/controller/skirmisher-hybrid that plays very much like a magus on steroids that specializes in actually effective skirmishing tactics over move-into-melee and kill, something the PFRPG-rules usually discourage. Now yes, the class does have some balance-streamlining issues - the escalated save DCs are NASTY and blow the saves against the maneuvers to a point that is beyond what I'm comfortable with, even in a Path of War context. So yes, I do believe that there is some streamlining to be done here. At the same, I have to applaud that the archetypes actually radically change the playing experience. This pdf, essentially, constitutes very much what I hoped to see from the get-go from the series. Would I allow the class in a regular power-level game? No! The harbinger is a debuff monster that can be very nasty and its overall optimization-requirements are very, very low. But I actually will do the work to nerf it for use in my game. Why?

Because I genuinely like the concept of the class and because the new disciplines have some pretty unique tricks I will use for monster special abilities etc. and to make some REALLY nasty adversaries. Plus, I am actually going to use this class in more high-powered games for adversaries, since none of the design-decisions create a frame I can't fix or modify to suit my needs. So yes, this can be considered a good class, one that borders, in the context of Path of War, on the edge of greatness. And as a reviewer, I absolutely applaud what this pdf represents!

At the same time, I still am very much conscious of this class being not for every group - if what you observed in Path of War galled you to no end in components that pertained to balance as opposed to those related to design-aesthetics, then this will still not be made for you.

Now if the minor hiccups are cleaned up and with minor filing off of rough patches to streamline some unbalanced components, this has the potential to be glorious. My final verdict, after much deliberation, clocks in at 4 stars, mainly due to the balance-concerns I still have, even in a Path of War context. Note that, much like the original Path of War, this amps up the power-curve of your game and if you're conservative regarding PC-balance and interaction with established concepts (or if you're playing gritty low fantasy etc.), you should detract a star, though all herein is more refined than the first book. Consider my interest for the series reignited!

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Path of War Expanded: Harbinger
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Akashic Mysteries: Daevic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/12/2015 09:35:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Akashic Mysteries-series clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, as you may have gleaned from my various reviews and designs, I really enjoy classes with a lot of moving parts that manage to get the math right - the first two akashic classes are prime examples of how extremely compelling characters like this can be - instead of twiddling one's thumbs while waiting for the next turn, there are A LOT of things to consider - move essence or not, burn essence or not? The vizier pretty much plays a bit like a caster, being defined mostly by interaction with veils, while the guru turned out to be a pretty much more versatile and complex support character who can stand at the front lines, while also handling unique things. Mechanically, the guru was defined more by class features and the interaction of veils with them - though both have in common that variations in class themes via e.g. philosophies result in radically different playing experiences, while also putting player agenda on an extremely high pedestal. Suffice to say, I have extremely high hopes for the final book to be one for the records - so can the Daevic maintain this level of quality?

And more importantly, what's his niche? Well, you've read the above rant - and perhaps, you sat there and thought: "That's not at all what I'm looking for in a class!" Many small choices and tactical options, handling a lot of moving parts - that's not everyone's cup of tea, and this is exactly where the daevic comes in as a simpler, but in no means bland akashic class.

Let's take a look at the frame: Daevics gain d10, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, all armors and shields (but not tower shields), full BAB-progression and good fort- and ref-saves. The veilweaving here is different from the previous two classes, but there are similarities - the DCs, if appropriate, is DC 10 + 2 per essence invested +cha-mod (making Char the governing attribute here), but there is a crucial difference to default veilweaving - the veils granted at 1sr, 4th, 9th and 15th level must be associated with the chosen passion, whereas the other veils gained operate like standard veils, meaning the progression is from 0+1 to 4+4 over the 20 levels of the class. Essence is gained at 2nd level and scales up to 10, chakra binds also begin at this level and scale up to 6, with progression being Feet, Hands, Wrists, Shoulders, Belt, Neck, Chest. On the minor engine-tweaks, 5th level nets +1 to saves versus enchantments, which scales up by +1 every 3 levels thereafter.

Now I noted the existence of passions - these are chosen at first level. When a daevic invests essence into a veil of a passion (called passion veils), it counts as being invested in all passion veils, meaning that the very scarce essence pool makes investing points here more efficient. However, at the same time, power escalation is prevented by an explicit rule that forbids synergy with veil-specific feats or effects. or catalysts, though you CAN also bind them as normal veils and circumvent these restrictions, adding a further dimension to these veils. Three sample passions are provided, and all modify the list of available passion veils to choose from, the class skill list and all ultimately change how the class plays, so what are they?

The first passion would be desire - which allows 3rd level daevics to use Cha for Appraise and may replace both Dex and Int as prereqs with Cha for the purpose of feat-prerequisites, offsetting some, but not all strain that would otherwise be burdened MAD-wise on a full BAB character. The in-game rationale for this, while not perfect, at least is sufficient for me - why do I mention this? Because I get pimples from the default "I'm so good-looking I hit foes"-rationale employed by some abilities out there. So kudos! Bonus-feat-wise, they focus on thrown weapons. An interesting option - at 6th level, a passion mutates into one of 2 choices - here, this would be love or avarice. Love provides an NPC-companion that is pretty powerful - but it does not stack with Leadership. Daevics that follow the passion of avarice add the returning and called abilities if within the daevic's possession for more than 24 hours - however, the abilities are lost again upon willingly giving them to another creature. On the nitpicky side, there are some minor formal glitches here. At 12th and 18th level, this ability improves regarding action economy and effects like a miniature bloodline.

The second passion to choose would be dominion, which focuses on two-hand fighting with a shield - yeah, interesting! The 6th level change allows for the choice of benevolence or tyranny, with the former providing a scaling teamwork-granting ability, while the latter provides demoralize support as swift actions with scaling bonuses. The wrath passion has some nasty tricks: Whenever the daevic bull rushes or overruns a foe, he may execute an AoO against the foe, though this powerful effect is somewhat countered by the lack of gained bonus feat. And yes, this also can provide vast amounts of damage. Wrath may transform into justice or vengeance at 6th level, with justice providing access to the vital strike feat-chain...and the option to execute AoOs with Vital Strikes added. And yes, this may not sound like too much, but oh boy can a proper set-up blow damage per round into ridiculous high levels. Still, I can live with this, though GMs should beware - large PC-races + reach weapon + this will be a MASSACRE. As for vengeance:1/round full-attack against a target when succeeding a bull rush or overrun, but only with natural weapons. This ultimately boils down to a true meat-grinder -only shreds and gooey bits remain in the path of such a daevic. At 9th and 15th level, the essence capacity of the passion increases by a further +1.

The Blood Bind ability's write-up fails to mention that it's gained at 12th level - and it's interesting: It provides essentially an additional slot, into which the daevic can bind neck, head, headband and body slot veils, but whenever he does that with a non-blood veil, he takes twice the essence invested damage each round, getting even reassignment abuses out of the way. Nice! The capstone is a boring outsider-apotheosis (native, I assume?) and can reassign veils via 1-hour meditation. Odd - the daevic gains the body-slot at 20th level - so does that mean a daevic can only bind body slot veils to the blood slot before 20th level or is body-slot veil binding only unlocked for the blood slot at 20th level? This needs some clarification.

The feats-chapter does sport some overlap with the already published books, though there is some new content to be found herein - unlocking chakras for classes as well as a significant array of feats to allow for gestalting/multiclass-builds, including support for psionics, ultimately render the whole framework superior in that regard to the predecessor-system Incarnum's take on the concept. Enhanced Capacity is a feat you WILL want as a daevic, though unlike Life Bond's interaction with the guru, I saw no balance-issues cropping up from combining the class with previously established content. (Though said feats and its associates still need a retooling.) One feat deserves special mention: Essence Focus. You can invest an essence into the feat to regain your psionic focus, with a 3-round cooldown preventing the constant spamming of the awesome combos available via this feat's modification of action economy. Even more interesting, the feat allows you to make psionic focus work to activate two abilities that require the expenditure of the focus while essence is invested in the feat. This is pretty much a genius way of providing truly distinct combos - powerful, yes, but oh so awesome. That Extra Essence pretty much is a no-brainer for Daevics with their limited essence pool should not come as a surprise. Over all, the selection here feels pretty refined.

The veils, obviously, do sport some overlap with the other akashic classes, though especially bull rush/overrun specialists will definitely enjoy the option to avoid the feat-tax and adding damage as insult to the injury. Interesting would also be that you can find veils herein that have no effect unless imbued with essence and/or bound to chakras, providing e.g. significant synergy with vital strikes, which becomes very relevant regarding the new builds available for AoO-Vital Strikes - size-increase is the name of the game here. While there are minor rules-language presentation hiccups herein ("Fortitude 1/2" instead of Fortitude halves, for example), there are also some rather versatile veils herein that not only provide different effects depending on the essence invested/chakras bound, but rather providing different options within those choices as well - and yes, we do get exclusives for the daevic's unique blood slot - like duplicating unnatural lust or gaining blood that causes both fire and acid damage to the creature attacking the daevic...and binding it to work as AoE via chakra-bind. Imagine my surprise, by the way, when I saw a classic, German slot introduced - "Wrathful Claws" are bound exclusively to the "Hans"-slot - definitely the funniest typo I've seen in a while. ;)


Editing and formatting do show that this is still WiP -while in no means bad and pretty functional, this pdf does sport numerous italicization glitches, typos and the like. The rules-language is more precise than in previous Akashic Mystery-pdfs, though. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' beautiful 2-cpolumn full-color standard and the pdf does sport a mix of nice original art and some I have seen before, all in full color. The pdf comes with a more printer-friendly version as well. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

As before, all the gushing about the base system and its mechanics that I have indulged in previous reviews of the series hold true still here. Michael Sayre does provide an actual compelling, tactical full-BAB-class with a plethora of options and things to do - and, coincidentally, the akashic class that does not require constant tinkering: Indeed, the daevic does require the least constant pondering, unlocking the system for players less intrigued about constant complex modifications - while it does support this playstyle as well, it can be played more like a prepare and forget type of class, which is ultimately the design-intent here. The daevic is a glorious class, though GMs heavily using DR should take not that the options of the class pretty much waltz all over the DR, making the daevic a powerful shredder if build properly. Ultimately, I adore this class and enjoy its unique slot and the options provided within; more often than not, one can see the growth of designer Michael Sayre that denotes him as one author to definitely watch!

Now I do have to somewhat bash on the pdf due to the editing glitches that can be found herein and minor wording issues that can use streamlining, but once these are cleaned up (and if Michael doesn't drop the ball in the supplemental content-pdf), Akashic Mysteries may become one of my absolute favorite new system - it has all the potential and makings of an EZG Essential. My final verdict for the daevic as presented, for now, will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform...and for now. I really, really hope Dreamscarred Press makes the final book live up to the vast potential!

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Mysteries: Daevic
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Akashic Mysteries: Guru
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2015 03:17:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of Michael Sayre's Incarnum-style series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Depicted herein would be the Guru-base-class, who gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor and simple weapons, but not shields and enhance these based on class choices made - more on that later. Chassis-wise, the guru gets 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. They begin play with 1 veil and scale that up to 8 and 1 essence, which increases to up to 20. The veilshaping of the guru has the DC equal to 10 + points invested + wis-mod. Essence investment into prepared veils can be reallocated as a swift action.

I really enjoy the first level ability gentle touch - if a guru invests one point of essence into this ability, all damage he does with a weapon becomes nonlethal, but also receives + wis-mod bonus, rewarding not killing everything that crosses the PC's path. What's also pretty odd - per essence invested, the ability deals +1d4 nonlethal damage. Now the issue is - does this stack with the wis-mod bonus damage? If so, then this is pretty much a very powerful damage boost, perhaps beyond what one would expect. Also: Does the first, unlocking point of essence invested add the +1d4 as well or just the wis-mod? The double increase to damage makes me think that the wis-mod perhaps was supposed to replace Str or Dex for the purpose of BAB-calculation? Be that as it may, while not broken, this ability could use some clarification. Beyond this, I also believe that the ability perhaps could use an exclusion-clause for shuriken and the like - since the damage applies to everything, combining that with shuriken and/or multiclass'd flurries of stars...OUCH.

1st level Gurus also choose a philosophy,. which grants a linear progression of abilities at 1st level and every 3 levels thereafter. Philosophy abilities tend to burn essence points, which means that the essence cannot be used or reassigned until the guru has had a chance to meditate, providing a complex game of resources between flexibility and power - you can't write player agenda in larger letters. Additionally, gurus of first level get stunning fist, but with some tweaks - the benefits can be applied to weapon attacks made with gentle touch and the guru can burn three essence to regain 1 use of stunning fist 1/day, +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 2nd level nets chakra bind in the progression of Hands, Feet, Head, Headband, Neck, Belt, Body. 4th, 10th and 19th level increase the essence capacity of chakras by +1.

The 3rd level guru may interrupt the chakras of foes when executing an attack - this works as a standard action pretty much akin to vital strike and has a DC of 10 + wis mod, +2 per essence invested in gentle touch, which allows for a pretty nasty escalation of DCs - imho, this one should be nerfed to at least +1 per essence. You don't need me to make the math for unbeatable DCs. The negative condition lasts for wis-mod rounds (odd, seeing how the DC is essence-based - why not also increase durations here?) and scales up over the levels.

7th level nets an autohealing ability determined by the amount of essence invested, though essence invested in the limited-use ability cannot be reinvested until rest. 8th level allows gentle touch to act as sunder-attacks that ignore 1/2 hardness AND allows for the damaging of foes that are immune to nonlethal damage. 16th level provides, apart from a lack of bolding of the ability name, the option to expend stunning fist uses when attacking foes to double as what amounts to a single-target disjunction that leaves items intact. The capstone provides healing and even temporary essence to the guru when e.g. disjoining foes - cool and surprisingly powerful!

Now I mentioned philosophies - a total of 3 are provided, with each granting its own set of uncommon proficiencies the first of which would be the Akasin. When meditating in an area of bright light, they can gain a pool of temporary essence that is burned first by the respective philosophy abilities. Alternatively, these points can be used to execute as a veil of positive energy. At 4th level, healing blindness is possible, as is shooting rays - which deal an untyped damage AND lack information on their range. Both should be rectified. Higher level akasins further marginalize the poor shield bonus to AC, bypassing it alongside 2 points of AC with blades of light - it should be noted that expenditure of stunning fist uses can further upgrade this ability.

The akasin may also use an essence-burn-powered raise dead, thankfully with a daily limit. At 16th level, I am not complaining about taking essence burn of up to class level to add as bonus damage that ignores all resistances and DRs, though factor 5 is NASTY. I think adding a daily cap would be in order here for reasons of preventing (relatively inefficient) one-strike-builds- "After all, the guru can always conjure forth light and meditate for temporary essence points...blablaba" - you get the rationale: Burning temporary essence at 16th level would grant up to +40 to damage for one attack. Now this looks much worse than it is in game - meditating this one back would require 8 minutes, so no spamming AND it is a significant expenditure. See, that's why I playtest these classes - this one looks much more powerful than it is. So yes, I like the ability, though I believe it could be one that will sooner or later end in undeserved pointed fingers.

The sineater philosophy is somewhat problematic - it allows for the regain of essence burn via attacks of gentle touch when used against targets with an Int of 3+ . The ability also allows for the reflexive burn of essence to negate damage that would bring the guru down to below 0 hp - interesting, since the amount of damage negated is significant and would be overpowered, were it not for the restriction, thus making the guru a good candidate for last man standing. While the Int-caveat avoids failure of the kitten-test, I'm still not 100% sold here - though the rest of the philosophy is balanced against this - limited DR and limited fast healing/regeneration for essence burn make sense regarding the established, steep costs while allowing the guru to work as a functional tank. Burning essence to increase the damage dealt to evil outsiders, aberrations and undead on a 1:5-basis is brutal and allows for damage outputs that dwarf paladin smites, but only on singular attacks. So yeah, the guru is brutal here. 10th level provides atonement (lacking italicization) and some minor non-standard wording - inescapable unarmed attacks (powered by essence + grab quality...) and AoE unarmed attacks are cool, though the most powerful ability here lacks a duration for the paralyze effect -and if it's supposed to be permanent...ouch. Even at level 19 nasty.

The third philosophy would be the Vayist, who would be the agile trickster to the sineater's tanky playstyle - using essence burn to increase the range-increments of ranged weapons or duplicate spells (lacking italicization) as well as getting back up quickly. 10th level nets breath of life and is solid. The base ability allows for debuffs of foes that target creatures that are not the vayist, essentially making him a solid kiter - why? Because not including the vayist in attacks allows for them to regain essence burn - which works perfectly considering the emphasis on movement and flexibility - for players that enjoy flexibility and movement superiority, this one is fun indeed. It's also the most refined philosophy in that it imho has the least minor hiccups.

The pdf, obviously, also sports a significant array of feats, some of which you will probably know from the vizier's pdf - that is, obvious gestalting functionality is still maintained in the tradition of incarnum, surpassing the options of this system by quite a bit. Now some feats imho could be a tad bit more refined - when untyped energy damage (against which no DR or resistance helps) can be added to attacks, that's nasty. Increased maneuver-bonuses AND better damage outputs in conjunction with Piranha Strikes and Power Attack are pretty strong, though that is balanced by requiring, obviously, essence-investment. Enhanced Veil Capacity, still proved to be pretty much a no-brainer in my playtests. Life Bond proved to be somewhat problematic for akasin gurus - why? Because it lets you take damage and heal allies - since the akasin can heal himself indefinitely as long as he has time and access to light, we're seeing an infinite healing option for the group here and one that can break in-game logic pretty hard - can you see the nightmarish visions of guru-healing-batteries beyond the front-lines of the evil empire? I can. Damn. That imagery is actually cool. Still, I think there needs to be some limitations implemented here. This problem also extend to the Martyr's Toga veil, btw., though that one's wording makes me believe it was supposed to have a daily limit of uses akin to other healing veils.

Dual binding of veils is also possible and offers yet another tactical option. Essence of the Immortal provides 2 x essence pool bonus hp and counts as toughness - a pretty blatant power-escalation even without the additional essence granted by feats et al. - this can easily upgrade your hit points by ~50 for non-optimized builds. While fitting the theme of specific builds, I still consider this in need of a gentle whack with the nerfbat - or a different scaling mechanism that is not based on total essence. Perhaps grant a base hp-bonus and allow for essence burn to temporarily increase that?

The veils presented obviously have some overlap with those of the vizier, but are not limited to those already known from the first pdf - there are quite a few cool exclusives here! One theme you'll note is movement - from air walking to increased movement rates make sense - though the latter's lack of bonus type means it'll allow for a nasty combination of speed-types you usually don't see - with items and spells, you can get problematic speeds here. The Stalker's Tabi is a pretty nasty beast - unlimited short range teleportation and hide while being observed/in plain sight is slightly earlier than usual - 6th level, when usually HiPS is relegated to 7th or 9th level - perhaps include a level-based scaling mechanism here? The Eyes of the Hawkguard can be bound first as see invisibility, later even as true seeing - constant! And yes, this one gets the balancing right! Fluid partial conversion of energy damage taken to one favored by the guru is also an option provided by veils - one that can be considered an unique take. It should also be noted that some of these veils actually do interact in rather cool and unique ways with class abilities, including psionic abilities - providing further combo options and screws to tinker with.


Editing and formatting can still be considered good, though I noticed quite a few instances of missing bolding, italicization glitches and the like on a formal level. Michael Sayre's rules-language is pretty concise and more refined than in the vizier, with a more concise terminology - on a nitpicky side, establishing one type of wording for essence burn vs. burn essence would make the pdf more concise still. The pdf comes in two versions, one in gorgeous 2-column full-color layout and one more printer-friendly version. The artworks are a combination of original pieces and stock art. Strangely, my full-color version had no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

All the positive things I've said about akashic classes in my review of the vizier still hold true, so if you want to read about me rambling over the superiority of the system over incarnum, take a look at that review - it still holds true here.

I adore the akashic classes I've read so far - the classes are ALL about player agenda - there are so many options to choose, screws to tinker with, math to run - the flexibility of the classes and fully functional gestalting options are exceedingly versatile and utterly fun. They are also a nightmare to review, but that's beside the point - most classes I LOVE tend to fit that criteria. The guru's rewarding of nonlethal damage, of actually not being a murder hobo, is something that resonates deeply with my convictions of what it means to be good, so thematically, I ultimately ended up loving this class.

That being said, as much as I'd like to praise this in the highest tones, there are some instances where the wording still needs some refinement, some rough edges that need to be sanded off. If my review above seemed nitpicky, then mainly because I so want the final book to be perfect. One surprise of this pdf, at least to me, was that the guru, on paper, looked essentially broken, with many knee-jerk-reaction inducing choices that mellowed out when doing the math/actually playing the class. The grand potential of problems can be seen in Life Bond - the feat itself isn't that strong, but as soon as it allows for infinite healing (which it didn't for the vizier), one can see one tiny oversight in the rules-language that radiates outwards - this needs a daily activation cap akin to similar options to maintain functionality with the akasin - and to future-proof the system to prevent ample future abuse.

So how to rate this? I love Michael Sayre's akashic classes and can't wait for the final book, but with the rough edges still in here, I can't go higher than a final verdict of 4 stars for now - with the explicit note that this very much resonates with me - I am stoked to see the final book - it may be one for the EZG-Essentials-list if Dreamscarred Press can get rid of the rough patches!

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Mysteries: Guru
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Psionics Augmented: Wilders
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2015 06:47:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf begins with a short introduction of the wilder class and a contemplation of its themes before diving right into the two new archetypes herein, the first of which would be the surging muse.

The surging muse is all about the Surging Aura-feat, granting such an aura even if the archetype does not have the feat or otherwise expands the range of it. More importantly, though, would be the fact that allies within the aura receive an insight bonus to damage equal to the surge's intensity. Surge blast is replaced with a very powerful ability - at the cost of expending psionic focus, the surging muse can add + her Cha-mod as force damage to all melee and ranged attacks of her allies within her aura and at 2nd level, the allies within the aura also receive a +1 dodge bonus to AC, which increases by +1 every 4 levels thereafter. I really enjoy the concept and generally, execution of this support archetype - the buffing capabilities are cool and the archetype is solidly written. That being said, the stacking of massive bonus damage to attack for all allies can very quickly escalate - badly. A wilder of 1st level can expend her psionic focus for AoE + 4 force damage, +1 for wild surge; that's AoE +5 to atk and damage at first level - presuming "only" a Cha-mod of 18. I've playtested this ability and it makes a meatgrinder out of any halfway decent adventuring group - +5 to damage at first level for all allies with 15 ft. may not seem like much, but try it in-game and you'll know what I mean. Additionally, I'm not that big a fan of force damage at first level, though here at least, the ability allows other PCs excel in the otherwise frustrating cliché shadow-boss fight that is sported in so many 1st level modules. One more thing - this ability makes dipping in the archetype much too good and resource-balancing wise, force damage is usually a limited resource for casters, not a semi-unlimited one, much less one available in this quantity. All in all, an archetype I really enjoy and one only a different, better balanced scaling mechanism (for said force damage) and some finetuning away from being really neat!

The second archetype herein would be a complex one, namely the voidheart. Not drawing upon emotion per se, but rather a sense of nihilistic emptiness, her surges actually decrease the manifester level of the surged power, but also decrease the level of means of dispelling powers and spells by such an amount. Effectively, this makes the surged powers less boomy, but also impedes means of actually eliminating them. And yes, this does get the complex wording required right. Voidhearts do not suffer from psychic enervation and receive immunity to energy drain in lieu of surge bond. More interesting would be the replacement of surge blast - by emitting a roar, a voidheart can affect a creature within medium range -on a failed save, this ability prevents any form of healing for Cha-mod rounds. I really, really, really love this ability - I've been experimenting with the like in my home-game and it adds an interesting dimension to combat. Now personally, I would have very much preferred an explicit statement regarding fast healing and regeneration, but since that is kind of subsumed under "healing of any variety", I won't hold that against the archetype. Further immunities centered on negative emotions and the theme of death and a surging euphoria complement this archetype further with a theme of an emotional vampire. The capstone allows for a 1/day-limited super surge at -10 ML that causes negative levels and power point loss. I adore this archetype. It completely changes playing experience, does not shirk from complex concepts and has style galore. Kudos!

Next up would be the first 5-level PrC, the cross-discipline master, who gets 3/4 BAB-progression, medium will-saves, d8, 5/6 manifesting progression, d8 and 4+Int skills per level. Yes, this PrC covers 6 levels, not the usual 5 or 10. As befitting of the name, at 1st level and every level thereafter, this PrC nets the character 1 power from a discipline chosen - even if it is not on the character's list. This gets multiple list-caveats right, btw. Additionally, the manifester level of the PrC for that discipline increases by a further +1. Conversely, it is this last component of which I am not a fan - Apart from 1 level, all levels net manifester level progression. This ability is supposed to broaden the options of the wilder, but, if you choose to, you can focus on one discipline, stacking up +6 ML for this discipline in addition to those granted by regular PrC-progression. Taking a look at the chassis of the PrC, I am pretty sure this is intended to offset the one progression-less level for the chosen discipline - so yeah, a slightly more precise wording to prevent a reading that allows for single discipline ML-stacking would be in order here.

3rd level nets 3/day swift action wild surges to temporarily learn a new power from a selected discipline for minutes equal to the wild surge's intensity, i.e. the plus-bonus. This is interesting since the PrC does not explicitly grant surging progression, making this a limited wildcard trick that broadens the very limited focus of the wilder without being broken. 5th level nets a decrease of all power point costs by 1, to a minimum of 1. 6th level nets an ability which hits one of my pet-peeves - you choose a metapsionic feat and can use it to manifest a power sans expending your psionic focus - 1/encounter. I do like the action economy and flexibility this grants, I really do...but why use a per-encounter-mechanic? Why not simply go with a cool-down based on actual in-game time?

The surge-adept gets d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves, 4/5th ML-progression and, surprise, is all about the surge. The surge adept decreases her psychic enervation chance by 5% (to a minimum of 1%) and stacks class levels for the purpose of surge progression. At 3rd level, the adept may invoke her wild surge as an immediate action whenever an ally within 30 ft. manifests a power, lending the surge's effects to said ally, while the surge adept still is the one risking enervation. As a capstone, the PrC can 1/day declare a surge a master surge, ignoring power resistance and energy resistance equal to the surge adept's ML and does not cause enervation. The nitpicky sucker in me assumes that the ML in question is the one modified by wild surge, not the non-surged ML, as per default, but I won't hold this minor ambiguity against the PrC.

The 3rd one would be the Volcanic Mind, which uses the same basic class-chassis as the surge adept. They also stack wild surge-progression...but increase their psychic enervation chance by 5% every round not suffering from it, up to a maximum of 80%. Instead of suffering from a condition gained through psychic enervation, this PrC may opt to take 1d6 Wis-damage instead. Whenever a volcanic mind suffers psychic enervation, hostile creatures within 30 ft. suffer manifester level damage and become sickened for manifester level rounds due to the psychic eruption. Here, I am honestly not sure whether the ML of the surge that prompted the enervation or whether the unmodified ML is the one you go with. 2nd level nets cleaving power, a new feat, sans increasing power point cost - this works like cleave for targeted powers, btw., at the cost of +4 power points. Higher levels also add the deafened condition. More importantly would be that suffering from such a power eruption essentially negate the distance-requirements between wilder and target - the victims are treated as in range for as long as the effect persists. This is kind of problematic - while it works well for non-targeted powers with ranges à la close, medium, long, etc., the ability does fall apart to some extent when faced with powers of a different range, mainly because they cease making sense: Cover and concealment apply still, but what if the target teleports away? The ability explicitly states that it only requires the targets to remain on the same plane - no line of sight or line of effect. Is attacking foes that teleported away handled as attacking a target while blind? What about powers with a range of personal or touch? Can touch-based powers be enhanced like this? If yes, that is very powerful and pretty much an invitation for some very nasty, broken combos. What about otherwise personal powers? I firmly believe that this ability requires some clarification - I think the intent is to mitigate the range-restrictions. If that is the case, I'd suggest allowing for ranged touch attacks to work with it (providing rules for creatures out of sight/how the ability interacts with line of sight/effect) and explicitly excluding regular touch and personal powers. The Vent Agony feat, which extends overchannel or psychic enervation to the 30-ft.-radius and may one hostile creatures with its effects, also gets an AoE-upgrade and as a capstone, the staggered condition is added to the collective debuffs these guys can heap on opponents.

If the above was not ample clue, yes, this pdf does sport an array of new feats specifically for the wilder. In this chapter, the new [Surge] feat descriptor is introduced, which requires wild surge as an activation and prompt psychic enervation-checks. Enduring Mind and its follow-ups can be seen as providing a cushion for mental ability damage/drain, reducing that by 2, but thankfully not allowing for abuse regarding abilities of the character powered by burning mental ability, with the follow-up feat allowing for the expenditure of the psionic focus for full-blown negation while also scaling the base cushion up by a further +2. Gaining temporary hit points via psionic focus with a daily limit and follow-ups that grant fast healing (with a cool-down - hallelujah!) can be found alongside those that net you an AC-bonus while focused.

Not all of these feats are this well-crafted, though - I am, for example NOT sold on using wild surge as a resource to heal damage to physical attributes equal to the surge's intensity - while not bad at mid to high levels, the low prereqs of this feat allow for pretty easy healing of attribute damage at lower levels, where it is supposed to be a powerful resource that cannot be easily negated. Mental Equilibrium is a feat that must die. It renders immune to the effects of psychic enervation, your own or others, apart from hit point or power point loss. This essentially takes away one crucial component of balancing the already pretty uncommon and somewhat wonky wild surge mechanics - and its effects are opaque - "You still suffer any other effects of psychic enervation." - so is one immune or not? Does this render the debuffing of the voidheart moot? If one assumes immunity, one cuts off a significant amount of the cool tricks of volcanic mind and voidheart in addition to the benefits for the wilder. Oh, and what about the extended target/range-abilities of the volcanic mind? Do they still work or not? This feat can btw. be taken at 1st level. It opens a can of worms of issues and imho is jeopardizing the intricately-linked abilities presented in this pdf. Well, there would be an option to make wilders superb counterspellers/manifesters, reducing the ML/CL of spells by wild surge's intensity, but increasing your chance of psychic enervation. Feats like this add much-needed breadth to the wilder's arsenal, but become infinite toolboxes once this loathsome Mental Equilibrium is introduced, it invalidates their drawbacks.

This is especially jarring since I do actually enjoy the design-style. Another feat would allow you to form a psionic collective that allows you to disperse the negative effects of psychic enervation to willing targets, providing concise rules for dividing damage incurred via Overchannel etc. and making for a much more compelling experience of teamplay - while also begging to have its cool idea expanded. Piercing energy and power resistance via a feat may be powerful, but seeing the wilder's limited power selection, it renders some otherwise bad choices more viable. So that one's fine with me as well. Another feat that needs to DIE is Psychic Celerity. Expend your psionic focus to move up to your movement rate as a swift action. No limits. Know what one of the most powerful low-level items is? Quickrunner's Shirt. It has a 1/day cap, sure, but ALL of my players try to get it as soon as possible. Any breaking of the action economy is a VERY strong benefit and this allows for the nigh constant breaking of it. Usually, the very few limited means of doing the like on a more flexible basis are relegated to beyond 10th level, usually capped in daily uses - and they are powerful then. With only 2 feats as a prereq, this one is terribly broken and needs some severe smacking with the nerf-bat. On the other hand, using wild surges to enhance mind blades is pretty cool, as is a reflexive damage to attempts at unwanted telepathic contact.

The new powers introduced here also sport a unique new rules-innovation - surge augmentations. These augmentations are only applied to a power when it is manifested as part of a wild surge. Getting a buffer versus physical attribute damage can for example be used via surges on other characters or to grant you DR/- equal to the surge's intensity. Yes, these augments provide the one thing the wilder severely lacked - breadth and versatility and in one case, once can choose from 4 regular and 1 surge augment - pretty cool, especially considering that the increasing costs of the regular augment provide an interesting scaling mechanism to keep the power relevant over the levels. Not all powers are perfect, though - there are some ambiguities. Take Fracture Pattern - it essentially forces a foe to take +50% damage from a damage type -you create a vulnerability and one that makes sense for the levels. However, the augment can also add UNTYPED damage. You know, the kind that has NO means of being negated. Worse, it is not clear whether this added damage effect is also negated as the primary effect of the power on a successful save - I assume so, yes, but clarification would be in order. EDIT: Since this has been questioned - yes, I am very much aware of "Save negates" usually also referring to the effects of augments, but when an augment provides a unique secondary effect, I consider a wording akin to how it's handled in pretty much every spell-write up that distinctly notes whether the effect is prtially or wholly mitigated in order. An aura of crystalline shards that can either provide some defenses or nasty damage to nearby targets, plus bleed damage on a failed save. While this aura only covers 10 ft., I do think it could require a nerf - why? Because 5d6 slashing damage sans save to halve or negate is pretty much a meatgrinder. I love this power's imagery and flexibility, but its balance imho is off - take a look at comparable effects of 4th level powers and you'll get what I mean - 5d6 + 2d6 bleed for 1/round per level, no save to mitigate 5d6 damage....that's capital letter level nasty. I do not object to the surge augment using offensive and defensive at once, but the offense does need a nerf.

AoE sonic damage emanations are cool, though the wording here has a minor hiccup - "For each additional power point you spend, this power's damage increases by one die (d4)" - This may not be ambiguous, but usually, one would go for a wording à la "increases by +1d4". The words "increase" and "die/dice" in combination usually denote an increase in die-size from d4 -> d6 -> d8, etc. - now this will not influence the final verdict, but I still considered it worthwhile to mention. And yes, I am aware that psionics have used this type of wording before. As mentioned, a nitpick. Spreading fear-based affects between targets is also a cool idea - I btw. also like that this one has different power point costs for dreads and psions/wilders, though here, the massive debuff the surge augment grants is pretty nasty. Sacrificing up to 1/2 of your hit points to also deal this amount of damage to a target, with only a will to negate the added sickened condition would be another power that needs a heavy whack with the nerf-bat. It's terribly broken - a) The damage incurred by the target is untyped. b) The target has no save to negate. c) The damage is extremely reliable. d) The damage can easily be healed. If you can't see how this is broken as hell, make a high Con-character and combine that with reliable healing. If that's not enough to drive home the point I'm making, instead use a monster with high HP and add this power - this outclasses all 3rd and 4th level powers in damage potential as the numbers go up. "But Endy, surely that's not so bad?" - My group's 7th level witch has more than 50 Hp. Were the character a psion, that would amount to 25 points of guaranteed damage per round, with healing the damage being within the paradigm of what his friggin' cohort is capable of delivering. Need a better example? Give that power to a dragon. This archmage enshrouded in immunities and x protective sorceries? Pff, drop 100 hit points and booyah, guaranteed kill, no means to mitigate and through the PR you can cleave. If the dragon has wilder levels and surges, you could use the surge augment to instead deal 200 points of damage! Yeah, not gonna happen anywhere near my game - this 2nd level power outclasses harm and must DIE.


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - I noticed no significant glitches, though here and there some minor deviations from rules semantics have crept in. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It also sports some nice original full-color artworks and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version.

The wilder is the one psionic class I considered not too compelling -all about power, at the cost of limited flexibility. While nice for min-maxers who are okay with a limited array of options, I never considered the class too compelling due to its lack of breadth. Jade Ripley does a stellar job at expanding the options at the wilder's fingertips and I adore many of the choices herein: I love the voidheart. The PrCs are quite cool and while not perfect, they actually do some damn cool things with the wild surge - they feel UNIQUE and offer different playing experiences. The Surge-feats and Surge-augments are AWESOME choices and I sincerely hope we'll see many, many more powers with surge augments in the future -adding player agenda to alleviate the one-trick-pony playing experience of the wilder is EXACTLY what this class needs! I love this pdf for all of this and the total absence of anything that even remotely resembles cookie-cutter design -this is complex, worthwhile, high-concept material.

At the same time, I can't fathom how some of the feats and powers EVER got past playtesting. The numbers don't add up for the respective levels and some feats are more powerful than 10th-level-plus class abilities - essentially, there are quite a bunch examples herein that are textbook-broken. I'd honestly bash this further, but at the same time, this pdf provides several choices I absolutely adore - to the point where I was contemplating a 4.5 star + seal rating before properly analyzing the feats and powers chapters. Alas, these issues are here - and they are significant. I sincerely urge DMs to carefully consider allowing some of the options herein at the table, but at the same time, I find myself incapable of not recommending this pdf - it makes the wilder infinitely more compelling and offers some design-innovations I really hope to see expanded in the future - Jade Ripley has, in a nutshell, made a class infinitely more compelling, but also broke balancing HARD in quite a few cases, making this, in spite of the inspired components, a mixed bag that oscillates between "OMG, how awesome is this?" and Plinkett-voice"What were they thinking?" /Plinkett voice.

Still, as much as I love much of the content herein, with glaring balance-issues like this, I cannot go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform - I can still recommend this to any GM seeking to add actual identity to the wilder, though - just be sure you check this carefully and ban the living hell out of some components - what works herein in stellar material, after all.

Endzeitgeist out.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Wilders
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Psionics Augmented: Mythic Psionics
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2015 03:38:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 75 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 71 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This supplement was moved up in my queue as a prioritized review by my patreons.

So there we have it - the massive sourcebook that brings the much beloved psionics system up to mythic proportions, but can it whether the test of numerical escalation while also providing some iconic tricks? We'll see.

First of all, the pdf does something smart - it covers terminology. Why is that smart? Well psionic powers tend to have an Augment-option, whereas mythic spellcasting has established an "Augmented" line - making the difference clear is pretty vital, with a similar potential confusion regarding psychic warrior paths and mythic paths being another topic that is clarified from the get-go. This deserves special mention because it renders nomenclature precise from the get-go and renders the potential for ambiguity issues minimal - kudos!

We begin this supplement's huge array of crunchy options with a psionic-exclusive mythic path, the path of the overmind. Covering the whole ten tiers, with each tier netting 3 bonus hit points, this path begins with a psionic secret. these include the option to expend one use of mythic power to manifest any one psionic power without expending power points, with augmenting being treated as if augmented to the manifester level of the character, if applicable. The power thus manifested cannot be improved via metapsionic feats and requires non-mythic creatures to save twice and take the worse result - so yes, this is kind of a modified wild surge that is different from the regular wilder ability in some unique ways - and yes, having both actually yields different results in their customizations, so mythic wilders may still get something out of this - and the two abilities can work in tandem, though there are more efficient uses of either. Another option allows for the expenditure of one mythic power as a swift action to execute an attack that bypasses all DR and adds +tier to damage, but does not allow bonus damage from e.g. weapon special abilities still are subject to resistances and immunities.

Surging psionics allow you to expend a use of mythic power as a standard action to treat your manifester level as two higher for level-dependent effects, with the power being treated as if augmented to your manifester level, should it provide augmenting. You can apply metapsionic feats to this power, but still need to expend your psionic focus and still have to pay for the power, which may not exceed your manifester level and still count versus psionic augmenting. On a nitpicky side, I do consider this wording to be somewhat less precise than it could be, as the wording does not specify whether the surge-enhanced modified manifester level or the base manifester-level applies for purposes of augments - I assume the modified level, though. Where things become somewhat complex is once you apply this power to powers enhanced by wild surges - the stacking of manifester levels can potentially be rather nasty here, with potential ML-increases of up to +8 being rather significant. Via one path ability, one may even expend one use of mythic power to increase ML by 1/2 tier, which translates to a potential +11 ML for wilders. Both leave me HIGHLY uncomfortable.

A more important change of pace these mythic path abilities provide would not be apparent at first - since the reduction of manifesting time down to 1 standard action is pretty massive, astral caravans/travelers, augured answers etc. pretty significant changes in the utility of such powers -checking through Ultimate Psionics, the powers for which such a decrease proved relevant turned out to be mostly information-based/utility/healing-centric, so not that bad - just something to bear in mind regarding the future-proofing of mythic psionics. This also deviates somewhat from Paizo's standard of tackling similar abilities - in the base array, the intent is to expend a swift action for mythic power to ENABLE the better casting of the respective spell. While the prominence of swift/immediate actions among powers would render this less effective, just locking psionic powers into standard actions overrides their manifesting time and thus can result in problems. Additionally, this changes action economy in a second, significant way - it allows you to break the 1 swift/immediate action limit per round by fixing the mythic augmented manifesting time at the standard action-level. While per se presenting a concise way to handle the general system, I am at this point not 100% convinced this system is airtight - while psionics makes excessive use of swift/immediate actions on its own, the combination with other classes and sub-systems may be used to execute some truly nasty combos otherwise prevented by the hard action-type-limit. While this is less of an issue with mythic rules in general, I can see issues arising from this and wished the manifesting time modification had a slightly more limited flexibility. I really wished this mechanic did not lock manifestation times as standard actions.

1st tier and every tier thereafter net the overmind an overmind path ability or, of course, an universal path ability, with the capstone netting 15 +highest manifester level PR, forcing non-mythic targets to roll twice for any save and take the worse result. Additionally, once per round when subjected to a power manifested by a mythic foe that fails to penetrate your PR, you regain a use of mythic power. Here, I got ready to complain hard, but the pdf at least specifies that the foe needs to be an enemy, thus preventing an easy infinite mythic power-exploit. Nice job! As with all paths, tier abilities come in 3 general categories: 1st, 3rd and 6th-tier abilities. The abilities here all have in common that they do something rather significant: Psions may, for example, unlock additional discipline abilities of a second discipline and a scaling force-field that provides a 3+tier AC-bonus that works essentially on an unlimited basis as well as aforementioned surge-improvement all have in common that they change the way in which a psion of mythic proportions works. Getting power points from the collective and using mythic power to manifest powers of a member of the collective also can be considered unique benefits, with thankfully tier being utilized as a means of limitation.

Bypass mental defenses also deserves special mention - the ability allows you to affect a creature immune to mind-affecting effects with a class feature or psionic power for the price of one use of mythic power. While this pretty much can translate into an "I win"-button versus certain enemies, the caveat that this does not work versus mindless foes renders the whole trick actually valid without marginalizing constructs and similar adversaries, so kudos here. Better crafting can be found herein alongside significant increases to ML for the purposes of discipline abilities, thankfully sans netting earlier access to them and one favorite of mine allows for the free distribution of dice between two active energy types, thankfully applying the bonus to either to all dice and attack rolls - more impressively, the ability does provide a wording that prevents confusion with e.g. the Elemental Blast feat, being limited to powers. Gaining resistance to energy you manifest and access to discipline-exclusive powers can also be found herein and adding an augment to a personal healing power is also covered, thus allowing for an interesting interaction with vitalists in particular. Numerical escalation of class ability-granted insight bonuses and more efficient methods and warrior's path abilities can be found alongside having a focus active while being asleep, unconscious, etc. Using mythic power to ignore any and all energy resistance and immunity does not gel well with me - usually, the default mode would be to differentiate between non-mythic and mythic adversaries and flat-out ignoring of all instead of a scaling formula does feel a bit off to me. Reflexive blasts when being crited as well as better and faster astral construct generation may be awesome, though e.g. expending mythic power to swap one of your psionic powers with another one on your class list of equivalent level feels VERY powerful.

Among the higher-level abilities, using metapsionic feats that do not increase the PP-cost of a power sans expending the psionic focus via the expenditure of mythic power can be considered an interesting option. Psychic Tsunami is pretty iconic in its imagery: For one use of mythic power, you generate a 30-ft.-aura that damages all non-magical objects in range for 5 x tier force damage that ignores hardness for tier rounds, with psionic focus allowing you to exempt structures, creatures and objects at your leisure. Additionally, the vortex makes the area difficult terrain. An aura of scaling fire is also among the cool options one can take here. Ravaging Time, as an ability, imho needs a tighter wording: "When you are affected by time stop or similar effects that alter your time relative to the manifester’s, you can expend one use of mythic power to take a standard action during the effect." So, as per this definition, what constitutes an eligible effect? Can an allied spellcaster cast haste on you and thus unlock an option to expend 1 use of mythic power for + standard action? Or does this only apply when being targeted by a detrimental effect? I get what this ability tries to do, but as written, it remains less precise than what I'm accustomed to by Dreamscarred Press. The 6th tier abilities allow for mythic power-based immunity to mind-affecting effects for 1 round and AoE telekinetic bull rushes also work rather well - as do the creature-enslavement-enhancer tricks. Sample builds for overmind are provided.

Beyond the path of the overmind, we also receive expanded path ability lists for the other mythic paths, with a storm of AoE-mindblades for champions, significantly increased DR for astral suits and grapple-based cages for guardians. personally, I'm not a fan of the parrying mechanic used here, but that is a personal preference - the rules-language is precise enough and the immediate action-requirement prevents abuse. Marshals may choose to use any marshal mythic power on any creature in their collective. As a 1st tier ability. This is powerful. Fitting, yes, but it specifically makes powers you could only target on yourself available at bigger ranges, so that's definitely something to be wary of. Extending the collective to all creatures within 100 feet at a 6th tier ability also is something that may be pretty nasty.

A glitch has crept in among the trickster abilities - "You can expend your psionic focus to add your mythic tier to your altered defense value for one round." - is that supposed to be AC or is it supposed to apply to the cryptic's altered defense class feature as implied by the prereq? If so, the wording is not 100% in line with how such things are usually phrased. In any case, the wording could be slightly more concise in its reference towards the correct class feature. And yes, I'm aware this is nitpicking - I certainly won't rate down the pdf for this hiccup, just wanted to provide this as an example. Project Impossible Location is, on the other hand, a trickster ability that is worth its weight in gold: As an immediate action, you can expend a mythic power to make a 5-foot-step, making the attack miss. If a creature fails a will-save, further attacks may miss as well. The ability manages to get the 5-ft-step limit covered as well, so kudos!

The universal path abilities can mostly be summed up by "numerical escalation" -better disrupt pattern, more astral suit customization options, expanded collective, better devastating touch, breaking the mind blade's +10 limit - you get the idea. Interaction with select core mythic rules pertaining spellcasting is also covered.

The next chapter covers a literal ton of mythic psionic feats - enough so that the feat-table spans no less than 2 full pages. Perhaps most interesting would be Ascendant Power - this metapsionic feat requires the expenditure of your psionic focus and increases the power point cost by a whopping +8 - for this, the power instead uses its mythic version, but still does not count as a mythic power for the purpose of effects interacting with it. The thus improved power cannot benefit from mythic augmentation and does not allow for the utilization of effects that require the expenditure of mythic power. What this feat essentially does is unlocking mythic psionics for non-mythic manifesters. It also allows for a significant increase in flexibility beyond the feat-tax that Mythic Powers Known imposes, which clocks in at 1 power per tier. Mythic Psionic Attack is interesting, allowing for all attacks in a given round to benefit from the expenditure of your psionic focus - I say "interesting" because it decreases the focus on singular, exceedingly powerful attacks towards a support of multiple ones, rendering characters with many attacks instantly superior to those with just one. This changes basically how Psionic Fist/Weapon-builds work and puts the whole thing on its head. While not a bad choice, imho, this could have required a more fluid balancing - as written, it just inverts the build, thus greatly decreasing the comparative efficiency of single-hit-builds. A great idea, though one I wished had more complex mechanics for a more fluid experience.

The other feats herein represent mythic versions of the numerous feats and they can, like most mythic feats, be grouped into various types: For one, we can find numerical escalations, which, while fitting, tend to not exactly blow me away - essentially, I am of the conviction that mythic gameplay already is escalated enough in that regard. The second and in my opinion, more interesting array of feats allow for an increased array of tactical options - going into breadth and flexibility over numerical depth, if you will. Here, the feats and their benefits range from the solid to the exciting: Using mythic power and a swift action to change the alignment component utilized by Aligned Strike, for example, would constitute such an increase in flexibility.

Body Fuel would also be interesting in that it only requires one attribute to suffer the ability burn of the base feat, mitigating one drawback of the original feat and increasing its potency. Rendering astral constructs mythic for the purpose of interaction with other creatures and increasing their DR is impressive, though rendering the DR as bypassed only by epic weapons makes them pretty strong in certain campaigns - personally, I would have preferred a DR-bypass that scales with the levels of power or manifesters. Burrowing Power's mythic version also should be noted in that it no longer requires line of sight - a powerful and fun option generally, though I wished the wording were a tad bit more specific regarding the failure criteria: "If no creature is in that space, the power fails." - from an aesthetic position, I would have preferred this to reference the target/area of effect of the power itself. Now note that this does not render the feat bad or problematic, it only constitutes a minor nitpick that will not influence my final verdict. Deep Impact's mythic version may be a bit nasty, allowing for the expenditure of mythic power to treat all your attacks as touch attacks for the remainder of the round. Efficient Aid not only increases the efficiency of healing requested by +50%, it also allows for the expenditure of mythic power to allow for the healing of attribute damage.

Of course, mythic upgrades of the +x class ability-type feats can be found in this chapter. Nomads fast stepping as a swift or immediate action are interesting - though, alas, the immediate action trick opens up an issue that was not part of the original Fast Step - the teleport can now be used reflexively, though the feat does not specify whether using it as a response to an attack negates said attack, makes it miss or lets the attacker decide in which way to utilize he attack that would have been directed at the psion phasing away. While this is no something a DM can easily fix, it still remains a minor blemish. I am also not a fan of utilizing mythic power to make a skill-check count as if a natural 20, as some feats utilize in their mechanics. Adding a tier-based or scaling bonus would probably have yielded a bit more flexible results.

The next chapter provides us with a massive, huge list of mythic powers - again, we begin the chapter with a rock-solid explanation of functionality and terminology of mythic powers, how to get them and how they work, including nice options to make them spontaneously more potent or more resilient towards being dispelled. This section can be considered a very well-written piece that provides the functionality and examples required to make the blending of psionics and mythic rules work. All in all, one can assert that basic modification via these choices and the aforementioned options as well as the non-mythic augment-options render the powers themselves more flexible than comparable spells, thus making up for the decreased flexibility from power selection itself. Kudos! The power-lists come organized by class and level.

The powers provided do sport some instances of numerical escalation and, of course, augmented-options dependant on tier in some cases, with just about all tiers being featured. Yes, this includes 10th tier: The augmented option for temporal acceleration allows for the use of 3 uses of mythic power to increase the duration of the now multi-target power to 1 hour per level. Yes, this is essentially permanent, mass crush-em-all and broken as all hell, but at tier 10, that's exactly the capstone-level of brutal destructive potential I like to see. Telekinetic force's now longer duration should also be considered to be interesting in that it enhances the move option and provides a more powerful throw option (that also expends it) - a nice example for numerical escalation that in fact is no escalation, but rather an expansion into breadth rather than depth.

I also enjoy the option to selectively exclude some targets from swarms of crystals and while slumber nets a linear increase of hit dice affected by the power, its true benefit imho would be the control exerted over which creatures are affected. Now the 8th tier augmented option is AWESOME: Affect all living creatures with 8 HD or less within a mile of you - for days on end! Yes, 3 uses of mythic power are steep, but this is narrative gold. Love it! Schism's second augmented option also deserves special mention, as it provides a swift action to the second mind you create. If that does not sound like much, then you've never had a psion with this power as a combo-enabler in your game. Personally, love the engine-tweak here! As a nice note, even basic powers that did not provide this much strategy like the energy-based powers do benefit from an extension in breadth - energy push foes straight upwards? Yup, this can be pretty awesome. Over all, this chapter did impress me most among the pieces of content provided so far - it is relatively imaginative, provides a significant array of tactical depth and goes beyond basic formula for the powers - it very much feels like something lovingly handcrafted.

The final chapter of this book provides 9 mythic versions of monsters introduced in the Psionic Bestiary, from the deranged trepanner to the puppeteer and phrenic scourge, they range from CR 16/MR 6 to CR 2/MR 1. They provide some interesting, added signature abilities and enhancements for their respective mythic powers - generally, a solid array...so when do we get the full mythic psionic bestiary? ;)


Editing and formatting generally are very good - I noticed no serious, formal hiccups, though here and there a minor rules-glitch has entered the fray. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides an array of nice full-color artworks, some original, some I have seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with a second, more printer-friendly version - very considerate!

Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist, Eric Hindley, Guillermo Daniel Ordoñez - gentlemen, you have my respect. Psionics and mythic are not that easy to blend - I've been experimenting with it myself and there is a LOT to take into account. Psionics has more connected, moving parts than regular spellcasting and as such, the task of upgrading this system to mythic rules is not something I'd consider easy by any means of the word.

That good news is, my nitpicky complaining-tirades none withstanding, this is pretty much the functional, neat upgrade to mythic rules fans of psionics have been clamoring for. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the relative diversity of options provided herein, many of which go above and beyond what one would expect to see in such a massive supplement. More often than not, the authors have opted to provide unique perspectives and tactical options rather than succumbing to the numerical nuking less inspired mythic design is prone to.

On the other side, it would be remiss to mention that the complex interaction of mythic and psionic rules with all the moving parts inherent in either system does result in some sand grinding in the well-oiled engines of both systems. While some of the gripes boil down to nitpicks, minor inconsistencies and similar issues that can easily be handled by a capable DM, this pdf also does sport some combos that leave me shuddering and which are, ultimately in my book, in need of a nerfing. Even in the context of mythic rules, there quite frankly are some combos herein that are a tad bit too good to be considered okay in my book. Especially the fixed reduction of manifesting time to one standard action is not only a component that deviates from how the spellcasting-analogue works (which is required, as powers adhere to a different manifesting action economy), but also changes in a somewhat wonky way how the systems interact with one another. The new mythic path provided does sport some of these components. However, at the same time, the path does not sport boring or pseudo-feat-abilities, instead opting for utterly unique tricks - kudos for getting that right!

If you've read this massive review, you will have noticed quite a few instances where I picked apart some components and mechanics - however, at the same time, this pdf does provide a staggering amount of content, much of which can be called downright inspired. Finally, and there are no two ways to look at this, this is the all but required supplement for use of psionics with the mythic rules. How do I rate this brute, then? I've been honestly struggling with finding a verdict here. On the one side, this supplement works perfectly (for the most time) in game and has some awesome, inspired components. On the other hand, it does have some rough edges that can be abused and/or grind the game to a halt - essentially, there are also some design-aesthetic deviations from how Paizo and Legendary Games have structured mythic augments etc.

In the end, I could have settled on a review in the middle range of my rating system, but that would have been a disservice to the content provided herein. While obviously, this pdf is not perfect, chances are that you'll find some truly exciting and interesting options within these pages and for mythic campaigns, there are no two ways around this, this book remains a must-buy option. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 4 stars, with the caveat that DMs using this book should have some serious experience with psionics under their belts to prevent some of the combos this enables from overwhelming them and to be in a position to say no to some of the combinations.

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Mythic Psionics
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Psionics Unleashed Revised
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/12/2015 03:01:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Core-psionics-system clocks in at 236 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 232 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First of all: What is this book?

There are multiple answers to this question, the first of which would simply be:

The properly tidied-up, pretty version of the original Psionics Unleashed-book, with some added material.

To be more precise - this book contains the two new races of Forgeborn and Norals introduced in Psionics Augmented Vol. I. It also fully implements the talent-system introduced in Psionics Expanded (think of that book as the APG for psionics - just as good and just as distinct), thus fully integrating the one "patch" of the base rules that wasn't 100% elegant.

This review will be a bit different from my usual in-depth analysis shtick, mainly since I have already tackled the classes and content in detail in previous reviews - and repetition is boring. As a general assessment, the 10 races provided can be considered rather well-balanced and diverse and provide fitting substitutes for the closed-IP-losses of some races from 3.X. It should be noted, though, that the races as provided herein do not sport favored class options, which are present in Ultimate Psionics - personally, I think that including those for the classes herein would have made sense.

The main focus of the book, and where it imho excels, though, would be the presentation of the base system of psionics as a point-based spellcasting system and, more importantly, the way in which this book makes what once (in 3.X) were boring, linear one-trick-pony-classes work properly - whether it is the wilder, soulknife or psychic warrior, the respective individual takes on the base classes greatly increase the diversity of builds available and overall, are easy to understand and execute - if you're read the Paizo CORE-rules and the APG, none of these should provide a daunting task to understand.

Indeed, one can argue that the same holds true for the copious PrCs provided, which, while more linear than the base classes, arguably do mostly not suck - something I wouldn't say about the PrCs provided for the CORE system. If you need advice on what to steer clear off: The Pyrokineticist still is very much unfocused and none-too-awesome and the telepathy-enslavement-specialist thrallherd can be broken by an experienced player; other than those two, the PrCs all have something unique and fun going for them.

Since you're reading this review, I assume you're not particularly familiar with the system, so let me give you a run-down: Psionics work pretty similar to spellcasting. You have your levels, governing attributes etc. Where things are different is with the resource. Psionic characters can be likened to spontaneous casters in that they need not prepare powers (that's the name of the psionic "spells") - unlike spontaneous casters, though, they draw their casts from ONE resource, the power points, which regenerate after resting. This is a numerical value that increases over the levels - to manifest a power ("Manifesting" being the term for psionic "spellcasting"), you need to expend power points. These are streamlined by level - level 1 powers cost 1 PP, level 3 powers cost 5 PP, etc. However, unlike regular spellcasting, quite a few psionic powers do not get automatic scaling - putting player-agenda higher on the radar, there is an augment-option for quite a few powers, allowing you to increase their potency in one way or another. To avoid abuse, a firm cap is placed on the amount of points you can spend on a given power. Know all those rants about psionics and nova-problems? Most of them boil down to not understanding this cap.

Psionic powers do not sport somatic or verbal components, instead providing displays - from odd smells to eerie lights, this component of the system deserves special mention because almost all reviewers tend to overlook it, when it makes imho for a cool, constant and subtle differentiation from regular spellcasting.

Psionics is not just spellcasting with a different flavor, though - it also extends to enabling people to do things beyond the providence of non-psionic creatures. Whether via helping to avoid death by poison via the new autohypnosis-skill or via one of the myriad ways in which one can use the psionic focus. This can be considered an infinite, yet limited resource: Basically, you can expend actions to gain your psionic focus and then expend it at a later time to fuel some thoroughly unique tricks. However, expending it always may not be wise either, for there are quite a few passive abilities that require you being focused. It's simple, concise and fun.

It should be noted that this pdf does an excellent job at explaining the various different concepts in a very concise and easy to grasp manner - basically, if you understand basic PFRPG, you'll get how this works and a handy glossary at the end makes looking up terminology very easy.

One crucial difference from the Ultimate Psionics-book would be the inclusion of a base array of psionic monsters to harass your players with -while obviously not reaching the level of depth the and breadth the Psionic Bestiary does, it does provide a solid first glance and some nice drag-and-drop adversaries. Whether you prefer monsters in a book that will be used by players or whether you prefer them in their own book depends on taste, but I personally prefer them separate and thus consider the Ultimate Psionics/Psionic Bestiary-combo superior.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The copious amounts of gorgeous full-color art render this a beautiful pdf indeed - and a huge step up from the admittedly pretty ugly original Psionics Unleashed.

Andreas Rönnqvist and Jeremy Smith (with additional design by Philip J. Leco II) are considered the fathers of PFRPG psionics - and for a good reason. Not only did they vastly enrich my 3.X games back in the day, their psionics for PFRPG are as close to a cross-publisher industry-standard as one can get with a subsystem. There is a reason for that.

Psionics RULE. I love them. I love the system. I love the flair. I love psionics. There's a reason Ultimate Psionics is on my EZG Essentials-list as one book ALL of my campaigns use. Conversely, Ultimate Psionics, as massive a tome as it is, probably makes for a significant investment and, since it covers Psionics Expanded and the advanced options from that book, can seem overbearing. Think about a book that sports the mechanics of both the CORE-rules and the APG for a fitting analogy of what Ultimate Psionics does - beyond providing a huge amount of material to digest, the complexity of the rules utilized vary between material from Psionics Unleashed and Psionics Expanded - the latter, obviously, imho sporting the more interesting classes and options, but also requiring more system-mastery that can be daunting for players new to psionics.

This is where this book's raison d'être can be discerned: This is essentially the CORE-book sans frills: The fancy, complex material is left for the other books and we get an inexpensive way to take a look at the basic system and material and dip one's toes into psionic waters.

Basically, this is "My first psionics sourcebook," an easy, all-encompassing way of taking a look at psionics and integrating its basic classes, races, items, etc. and ideas into your game with needing to buy the glorious, massive Ultimate Psionics and the Psionic Bestiary. Yes, you don't get the favored class options and the more complex classes from Psionics Expanded, etc. in this book, but you get all you need and the presentation and layout make grasping the rules pretty simple.

While my firm recommendation for players and DM with some experience under their belts would still be to get the combo of Ultimate Psionics + Bestiary, in case you're looking for an easy one-book-and-go way of using psionics, this should make for a great way of judging whether you like the system or not. (Note: If you want more complexity, the other books do provide that!) Especially groups and players with less experience regarding subsystems and the like can consider this book a nice way of getting to know how psionics work. Conversely, groups that already have Ultimate Psionics have no reason apart from the copious artworks to get this book.

How to rate this, then? I consider this to be a good introduction/core book for psionics, one specifically targeted at an audience who is not yet that familiar with psionics - as such a book, it accomplishes its task in a formidable manner and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars. Why no seal of approval? Because I'm a sucker for complexity and still croon over Ultimate Psionics when no one's looking. ;P Kidding aside, I do believe that the aforementioned PrCs could have used the chance at streamlining and inclusion of favored class options would also have made sense to me. Still, consider this a testament to how good Ultimate Psionics is - and if you like this book, you'll love its bigger sister!

Endzeitgeist out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Unleashed Revised
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Psionics Unleashed Revised
by Adam B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2015 05:06:55

This book begins with fantastic cover art by Joe Shawcross, and continues to impress with gorgeous layout and art throughout the book.
This book is a rerelease of the original Psionics Unleashed, but with extra content including all errata, the psionic talent system (Psionic cantrips), 2 extra races, and new full-color artwork.

Chapter 1 – Races:There are 10 psionic races presented in this book. Included in each race are information on their society, psychology, and other details to help create a fully-developed character. These aren’t just stat blocks, but actual races.
There are psionic goblins known and Blues that try to infiltrate goblin tribes.
The Dromites are insect-like humanoids that try to maintain individuality in a culture very focused on community. They also have different carapace colors based on their caste. I found this pretty interesting.
Duergars, who are completely unrelated to the Paizo Duergar, are still related to Dwarves. Their origin lies in digging too deep into the earth, and being changed mentally and physically by the horror they found. Surprisingly cool.
Elans are a psionic race that resembles humans, but in actuality they can originate from any race. Other races are turned into Elans by other Elans in a secret psionic ritual. They have an air of creepiness about them, but that is part of what makes them appealing.
Forgeborn are half-construct half-humanoid, and gain resistances to many effects constructs would be immune to. Truly a fantastic race for anyone who wants to play a character like an android.
Half-Giants are very strong, very psionic, and written as strong individuals instead of just being tragic backstory fuel.
Maenads resemble humans at a glance, but their skin is actually embedded with crystals, and their emotional extremes run higher than most. They actually get bonuses for being played as barbarians.
Norals are a short stocky race that bond with a psionic symbiote at an early age, gaining greater psionic power in return.
Ophiduans are a very structured race that places psionic prowess above all other variables when it comes to social station. They are reptilian in appearance, and seam more combat oriented than I expected from their write up. I guess it’s just part of being reptilian?
Xephs are very quick humanoids and quite personable. I don’t find their fluff interesting, but they are solidly designed.

Chapter 2 – Classes: Psionics work very similarly to magic, but they use a completely different resource mechanic and are called manifesters. They use power points, which can be likened to a mana bar if compared to video games. Where power points differ from a mana bar is that you can choose how many power points go into a psionic power, making it as strong or weak as you want. Of course, there are sane limits placed. You cannot put more power points into a power than your level, and you cannot put less power points into a power than the power’s level. Additionally, your character gains additional power points depending on their key mental ability score.
Additionally, there is a feature known as psionic focus. Psionic focus requires a full-round action to be replenished, but can be used up to take a 15 on a concentration check, to power metapsionic feats (similar to metamagic, more on this later), and to power many martial or utility based psionic feats and class features.

The first psionic class introduced is the Psion. The Psion would be what psionics considers a full-caster; a full-manifester and is the most like the wizard if compared to core rulebook classes. There are six psionic disciplines, and the Psion can choose to specialize in one, or to become a generalist. Each discipline grants additional class features and the option to select a few strong psionic powers that are unique to their discipline. Through the use of feats, characters who are not members of that discipline can select some discipline powers. For instance, the best psionic blasting powers are locked into the Psychokinesis discipline. If anyone wants these powers, they must spend a feat and get it levels later. This presents a more balanced way of selecting powers, instead of letting all psionic characters cherry pick the best powers of each level. All together, the Psion is a very powerful and versatile class, and definitely deserves the name Psion in a book about Psionics. You could easily run multiple Psions and have a different experience every time.

Up next is the Psychic Warrior, which has no resemblance to the fighter. It is d8 hit die, medium BAB, and gets 6/9 levels of manifesting. These warriors gain martial weapon proficiencies, and all armors and shields except tower shields. Psionic Warriors gain a warrior’s path, which gives them scaling benefits to a combat style, and psionic powers that benefit that combat style. For instance, the Feral Warrior Path can grow natural weapons using its psionic powers, gets a scaling bonus to attack rolls with natural weapons, and can even expend its psionic focus for a pseudo-pounce ability. Aside from this, they can get bonus feats, and eventually a second warrior’s path. As a martial/caster gish, this class succeeds in every area. It definitely measures up to other gish classes like the Magus and Inquisitor, while bringing its own unique playstyle to the party.

Soul Knifes have gotten a big revamp since 3.5. In here, they are a d10 hit die, full BAB, and 4 skill points per level. Unlike the other classes in this book, the Soulknife is not a manifester. It does have a mind blade however. This mind blade is basically a transforming, scaling, magic weapon (Gets up to +9 without talents). They can even throw their mind blade as a ranged option. If so desired, they can form 2 smaller mind blades for dual wielding purposes. They also can charge up their mind blade to use Psychic Strike, which provides a scaling damage bonus to one mind blade attack. Charging up a psychic strike is a move action, but they stick around until expended. This means you can always start combat with one at least. This class also gets blade skills, which are very similar to talents on other classes. Blade skills offer a wide variety options, new blade forms, and ways to manipulate psychic strke. A lot of these blade skills are strong, but they only put the Soul Knife on the edge of being an amazing class. Blade skills in later psionic books push this class over that edge magnificently, but they are not included in this book.

The Wilder is the final class introduced in this book. In a way, the Wilder is like the sorcerer to the Psion’s Wizard. However, their execution is quite different. Wilders are full-manifesters, but have a d8 hit dice, medium BAB, and 4+ skill points. Despite this, the Wilder is quite balanced, and possibly a little weaker than the Psion. Wilders have significantly less powers known than Psions, but the same number of power points. Their main class feature however gets to break that golden rule on expending more power points than their character level on a power. This is through their wild surge feature. As part of manifesting a psionic power, they may add free extra power points to their power, but at a risk. Every time they wild surge, they have a 15% chance of suffering psychic enervation; losing their character level in power points and being inflicted with a debuff associated with their surge type. Surge types you ask? Each Wilder may select a surge type at level 1. This surge type grants them additional benefits, and determines the status effect they take when their wild surge goes wrong. For instance, the leader’s surge grants the Wilder the surging aura bonus feat, which allows nearby allies to gain an attack roll bonus when you wild surge, and shakes the Wilder when they suffer psychic enervation. Additionally at 5th level, the range of the aura begins to increase, and also to share the benefits of your surging euphoria class feature. Surging Euphoria grants the Wilder a scaling bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws for a short time. Altogether, the Wilder is a very cool and powerful addition to the psionic line up.

Chapter 3 – Skills and Feats: Psionics Unleashed brings two new skills to Pathfinder. First is Autohypnosis, which allows the player a limited amount of “mind of matter.” For instance, they can use autohypnosis to focus hard enough to ignore the pain caused by caltrops, still taking the damage but ignoring the movement penalties associated. They can also use autohypnosis to memorize things, stabilize themselves, get additional saves against fear, and even to ignore the hit point damage from standard actions when disabled (0 hit points).

Knowledge (Psionics) can be used to identify psionic monsters, ancient mysteries, recognize psionic traditions, psychic symbols, cryptic phrases, astral constructs, and psionic races. It’s basically what you would expect from a Psionic knowledge skill.

The last part of the skill section includes a modification to Spellcraft and Use Magic Device to allow them to interact with psionic content.

Feats are numerous, granting a variety of interesting benefits. Here is where metapsionic feats are found. Metapsionic feats require the character to expend additional power points for their effects and expend psionic focus. Additionally, these additional power points count towards the total amount of power points you can invest into a power. These 2 factors cause metapsionic feats to be significantly more balanced than metamagic builds.

Besides metapsionic feats, there are a variety of feats that grant a small benefit, but grant a significantly larger benefit when psionic focus is expended. For instance, Speed of Thought grants your character a +10 insight bonus to movement speed, but increases this bonus to +30 for one round when psionic focus is expended.

There are other fun feats such as Mind Over Body, which allows you to heal ability damage at a rate of 1+constitution modifier per day naturally, instead of the normal 1.

The most interesting feat is the iconic Psicrystal Affinity. Psicrystals are very similar to familiars, but instead of being animals or magical creatures, they are crystals with a fragment of your personality powering them. They grant everything a familiar grants, but instead deliver touch powers. Additionally, they grant +3 to a skill or +2 to save, depending on which part of your personality they sprang from. There are other feats to upgrade your psicrystal, such as Psicrystal Containment. This feat allows your psicrystal to hold a second psionic focus for you, but you must still use your own actions to charge it up.

Chapter 4 – Psionics: This chapter explains in detail the entire psionic power manifesting system that I briefly summarized earlier. Powers vary about as much as spells do, and with manifesting, you can generate a variety of similar effects. Additionally, the authors include some suggestions, such as the psionic-magic transparency, where psionic powers and magical effects are treated as the same things for the purposes of dispel magic or the barbarian’s superstition rage power.

Chapter 5 – Powers: Psionic Powers are basically the magical spells of base Pathfinder, but for psionics. Where Psionics differentiate the most from spells is that most basic effects are actually low level powers. By putting more power points into a power, its save DC will increase, and often its effect becomes stronger. For example, Entangling Ectoplasm is an unassuming 1st level power. For 1 power point, our character makes a ranged touch attack that entangles a medium or smaller creature and dissipates in 5 rounds. The strength check/escape artist check to break out is 11+your key mental ability modifier. However, for every 2 power points you expend on this power, this DC increases by 1 and this power may affect a target one size category larger. Seems pretty cool right? All of the blasting options work the same way, where every power point spent increases damage by 1d6 and every 2 power points spent increases the power’s save DC.

Powers in this book are very balanced, and quite a few of the powers that are similar to spells have actually had their targeting limited, becoming personal buffs.

Chapter 6 – Prestige Classes: This chapter begins with a few ground rules that psionic prestige classes follow. They always advance your psicrystal. For Soulknifes, any prestige class level with “+1 level of existing manifesting class” improves their mind blade class feature, so that they do not fall behind. Meanwhile the Wilder’s Wild Surge is advanced in any prestige class level where power points are gained. This little detail makes a huge impact on a playability of these classes, providing incentives to actually leave their own class.

The first prestige class presented is the Cerebremancer. They combine arcane spellcasting and manifesting not unlike a Mystic Theurge, allowing them to spend power points to strengthen spells, and expend spell slots to boost their power’s effectiveness.

The Elocator is a highly mobile prestige class that never even has to touch the ground. They are always floating, and all of their class features focus on movement in some way. Additionally, they gain 7 levels of manifesting.

The Metamind is interesting in that it focuses on making your power points last, as opposed to making your powers stronger. It advances your power point pool at every level, but advances your powers known and maximum power level at 7 of its 10 levels. For a Wilder, this would mean that every one of its levels advances Wild Surge however. In return, this prestige class can store power points into a psicrystal to be used any time in the future, and can temporarily forget powers to gain extra power points. If your goal is to be a living battery, never running out of power points, this is the perfect prestige class for it. You sacrifice power for durability.

The Phrenic Slayer is a slayer of psionic creatures. They advance manifesting at 9/10 levels, gain one favored enemy that must be psionic in some way, and gains special mental defenses against her favored enemy.

The Psion Uncarnate is a prestige class focused on becoming disembodied psionic might. They gain 6/10 manifesting can become incorporeal for a very limited amount of time. As they advance in level, they become more adept as becoming incorporeal, and can affect the corporeality of nearby things and creatures. Finally, as their capstone, they become permanently incorporeal, and gain massive bonuses to their manifesting. They can return to being corporeal for a limited amount of time per day as well.

The Psionic Fist is basically a gish prestige class. It advances major monk class features and grants 8/10 manifester levels. They get a few other toys, such as DR/- as long as they maintain psionic focus, or the ability to spend 2 ki points to make an autohypnosis check to ignore damage taken (DC being twice the damage. OUCH).

Pyrokineticists can generate a flaming whip, gaining additional benefit if the character previously had soulknife levels. The class is unfocused, with almost every class feature having either no synergy with their other class features, or being unable to interact with their other class features. They can manipulate existing fire as to heal, create blinding fireworks, or create smoke clouds. Heck, they can even shoot fire for minimal damage.They can gain bonuses to unarmed attacks, and eventually being able to set themselves on fire once a day for a charisma buff and to gain a touch attack. This touch attack not having the strength, or range of their own touch attack whip, not able to be empowered by their unarmed attack bonuses. Eventually, they gain the ability to explode into flames, dealing a very good amount of damage and has a fairly easy to save against save-or-die attached. With no manifester levels and disjointed features, the Pyrokineticist is not a good prestige class.

The Thrallherd on the other hand, probably tops the power scale on prestige classes in this book. They gain 8/10 manifesting, pitiful skill points, but also get an ability similar to leadership, with the exception that these followers are totally under your control. Additionally, you get a thrall (similar to a cohort) under your control. They get discounts, and eventually free augments to the Mind Control power, and as a capstone (active at level 15) gain a second thrall. Both thralls are essentially cohort level in power, and all for the cost of losing 2 manifester levels. This is very strong, discounting that you also gain a small army of 1st-6th level followers loyal completely to you. As a GM, I would never allow this class to show up at my table.

The War Mind is a mighty martial gish, and mostly a prestige class for Psionic Warriors. They grant full BAB, and strong melee buffs including temporary increases to strength, constitution, and armor class. They gain a little bit of manifesting on their own, that does not stack with any manifesting from any other class. If they had prior Psionic Warrior Manifesting, then they can advance that instead of gaining their own separate manifesting.

Chapter 8 – Psionic Items: Here in the psionic items, many wonders are stored. First, the basics are covered with Psionic Armors and Weapons. Included are rules for creating psionic armor and weapons, which function as magic weapons and armor. There are also a few new enhancements, such as the Floating armor property, reducing the armor check penalty of a piece of armor to 0 for swimming and granting a +4 swim bonus on top of that. This enhancement was especially nifty for being a flat cost, instead of taking up a +1. Meanwhile, Heartening armor adds 720 gold to the cost of armor, but it can grant +5 temporary hit points once a day.

Cognizance crystals, which can be used to store power points. Stored points stay inside the crystal until used. You can’t use the stored points to augment a power that you are using your own power points for. Powers can only be used from one source at a time. Still, this is very nifty and highly balanced.

Dorjes, Powerstones, Psicrowns, and Psionic Tattoos which function as the psionic versions of wands, scrolls, staves, and potions, in that order.

There are a variety of magical items that allow the wearer to use a psionic power once a day, such as the Boots of Stomping, which allow the wearer to manifest the stomp power once per day. There are also items with more mundane powers, such as the Boots of Landing, which reduce your falling damage by 2d6 once per day.

Crawling Tattoos are similar to the psionic tattoos, but can be used offensively! When activated, instead of providing you with the benefits of a power, the tattoos crawls towards an enemy and effects them. These cannot be created with psyhcometabolism (Healing) or telepathy (Compulsion) powers. To be honest, these are really cool. They are basically offensive drone potions!

Of course, this book also contains psionic artifacts. The artifacts included all have interesting stories, and could easily be used as key plot elements. My favorite of these artifacts is Annulus, which is basically an ancient psionic nullifier that has the potential to cause great upheaval in any psionic setting.

The crafting rules for creating all of the items covered in this section, as well as 2 new materials for weapons and armor. Deep crystal and mundane crystal. Deep crystal costs 1000 extra gold when used to craft a weapon, but allows melee weapons to be charged with psionic power as a free action. For 2 power points, the weapon’s next hit within the next minute deals an extra 2d6 damage. Meanwhile, mundane crystal weapons and armor are automatically masterwork and cost as much as normal masterwork equipment. They provide no benefit, but look and sound very cool!

Chapter 9 – Psionic Monsters: The final chapter contains a variety of beasties ready to be thrown into any game. Here the psionic subtype, psi-like abilities, undead psionic creatures, and creatures with psionic powers are explained as well. The most interesting and dangerous creatures contained in this bestiary are the Phrenic Hegemony. These otherworldly (otherplanar?) invaders come to conquer, destroy, and collect breeding stock from whatever planet they come across. They multiply by implanting larvae in creatures that make their way into the brain of their victim, eating it and killing them. These vile creatures also have mind-controlling slug minions called puppeteers to gather bodies and brains for their masters. Truly a horror to think of, and truly a great foe for any group of players.

Of course, there is more to this chapter than the Phrenic Hegemony. In fact, there are creatures of most CRs available in this book that provide a variety of challenges. The monsters in this bestiary are creative, and unlike any monster I’ve seen in a Pathfinder book.

Glossary: The last few pages of this book are a glossary, defining the many terms found in this book one more time. This is a very nice addition, and is rarely done.

Overall:Psionics Unleashed is a fantastic book. It was great before it was remade, but with all of these new additions, it has become complete. Despite having 2 less than stellar prestige classes, this book manages to be one of the most fun products I have ever read. As both a GM and a player, I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Opened Mind
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/01/2015 02:12:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

First things first - this is intended as an intro-adventure to psionics, so went in without expecting it to produce exceedingly complex or odd storylines. 2 pages providing a total of 4 sample pregens are provided for the convenience of players and DMs alike. This module can be used in conjunction with the Third Dawn-setting, but is not limited to it.

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




All right, still here? The town of Jace's Stanchion has a colorful past - when settlers came, they befriended a race called hanoshafyr, a peaceful tribal people and subsequently discovered psionically-conductive phrenoric ore, which they mined to use in lieu of metal. Alas, as often, when one mines, one risks the danger of wakening something horrible and indeed, the evil that burst forth from a submerged complex proved to be formidable - only due to the massive power and sacrifice of Jace, the town's leader, could the tide be stemmed. Alas, as often, the wards are crumbling and require maintenance - in the form of psionically gifted individuals that now sacrifice themselves to keep the degrading containment functional. Worse, the rather nasty ruling family has started abducting outsiders, with the erstwhile peaceful hanoshafyr having been driven insane, but still maintaining a distance from psionically-endowed individuals.

This is important, for the PCs are assumed to be caravan guards and the very first encounter is a CR 6 monster - the hanoshafyr assault and slaughter the caravan's men, but only deal nonlethal damage to the psionic PCs - whether "saved" by the "good" folk of Jace Staunchion or escaped to the village out of their own strength, the PCs are stranded. From here on out, the short gazetteer provided for Jace's Staunchion and the rather detailed tables that reward legwork and investigation of town and creatures. It should be noted that the production values here are superb - not only do we get a glorious full-color map and village statblocks (and notable locations etc.), the notable NPCs herein ALL get their own full-color mugshots. This is definitely impressive.

Speaking of which - the town's dark secrets managed to elicit a sense of slowly creeping, palpable threat that hearkened, at least for me, back to slowly unearthing the rituals in the Fatal Frame/Project Zero-series of games, with ample and multiple skill-uses that can be used to glean information. Eventually, the PCs will want to investigate the local mine, where, should they pass the racist sibling guards and the alarm traps, they may start to piece together - they may free a still-living unfortunate from the pillar of phrenoric ore and witness the oblation, the strange wall of ectoplasm themselves while also linking the seeping nastiness with the madness of the hanoshafyr. Confronting the ruler about the lull-like memory modification in town and the strange things they witnessed in the mine, the PCs will have to defeat the powerful man - and decide where to go from here. The barrier, the customs, the powerful ruling house, the mad hanoshafyr - there are so many ways to spin this story, it should not be an issue to devise your own plots here.

The pdf also sports the monster-entry for the hanoshafyr and the psionic items used in this module.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports a HUGE amount of glorious, original full-color artworks; more than I've seen in many a 60+-page module! Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard. The cartography in full-color is also absolutely stunning, though I wished we got player-friendly versions of the maps sans those annoying numbers and legend. I hate having maps with "hotspots". The pdf comes with a printer-friendly, second version - nice!

Okay, I did NOT expect this. I expected a bland little intro-adventure; you know the kind - kill a couple of orcs, slay the shadow/ogre-boss, done. The usual intro-adventure blandness that provides handholding and is just boring. This is the rebuke and anathema to all such modules.

Author Eric Hindley with Dave Harris, Jeff Lee, Josef Shindler and Paul Gazo has crammed into the few pages herein more local color, more diversity and more excitement that I've seen in quite a while. With dangerous combats, thrilling mysteries and a great combination of challenges, from combat to social, we receive a thoroughly compelling, inspiring mystery that practically DEMANDS sequels - it's that good. With the cool gazetteer and top-notch production values, the formal criteria are awesome, but they pale before the exciting narrative. While the module is challenging, it also is not overbearing or overcomplicated and, ultimately, is triumphantly psionic. It effortlessly manages to feel different in its execution, focus and leitmotifs. The Opened Mind blew mine; I did not expect this module to not be bland, much less expected it to actually captivate me and render me this excited! If this pdf did one thing, then it made me crave more mysteries and modules from Eric Hindley and this team - this is a stellar, inspiring psionic module and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval. Seriously, get this - it's pretty much a by-the-numbers example of how to craft an intro-module that is NOT boring.

Endzeitgeist out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Opened Mind
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Lords of the Night
by Adam B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2015 20:46:32

Lords of the Night is a campaign supplement made to support those who wish to play as vampires. Actually, scratch that. This book does more! Almost every player option in this book does not require the user to be a vampire, or even undead. Also, it provides an alert system that can be used for any group of creatures that desires to remain hidden, not just vampires. It gives players tools to play as vampires, and gives GMs interesting rules for running vampires as NPCs.

Chapter 1 is the “fluff” chapter. In here you will find a believable representation of what vampires in an urban setting could be like, ranging from their societal rules to what kind of lairs they like. It details their feeding habits, which is expected from a vampire book. However it does delve deeper bringing up unexpected topics such as how a vampire interacts with their previous mortal faith.

Chapter 2 covers vampiric PC creation, and details the mechanics behind feeding and city/village alertness. This chapter also contains a section on running a vampiric campaign, along with playing in one. It provides a new vampire template that is tied into the feeding mechanics detailed in this chapter, as opposed to having a vague “you drink blood or die.” This template is also a CR+1 template, so it is much less crazy to manage as a GM. The alertness system is supposed to be being reworked, so I will hold off on reviewing it for now.

Chapter 3 is very focused on player options. It contains 2 archetypes, 3 prestige classes, feats, a Martial Discipline and Martial Tradition (Path of War line), Spells, and Powers (Psionics line). It is important to note that this section is not vampire specific (Except 1 prestige class). Yes, the content benefits vampires and is purposefully written to be compatible with undead-ness, but any human, dwarf, or elf could use this chapter.

The first archetype is the Nightguard (Paladin). These paladins don’t require Good alignment, and are based around defending civilization from monsters. While losing Lay On Hands, they retain Smite Evil. Additionally, in place of mercies, they get Nemeses which act like talents. This is a very cool archetype for anyone looking for a Lawful but not necessarily good paladin.

The Frenzied Slayer is a barbarian archetype that modifies rage extensively. Instead of improving your strength, constitution, and will saves, their rage increases your strength, armor class, and reflex save, in addition to granting an extra attack. Basically, your rage make you faster instead of tougher.

Greater Vampire, the only part of this chapter that requires you to be undead, is a 5 level prestige class that also advances your original class features 2 levels. You also gain additional ability scores, mist form, and strengthen abilities gained from the vampire template presented in chapter 2.

The Lethe Adept is a psionic prestige class that advances your manifester level by 7 over its 10 level run. They target a creature's mind, dealing damage to mental ability scores. Lethe Adepts make up for their manifester level loss with powerful class abilities, such as gaining temporary hit points from dealing mental ability damage and increasing the save DC of their telepathy powers. Eventually, they can brainjack anyone who has a mental ability score reduced to 0 by their powers. This is the vampire that hypnotizes victims from the window.

Sussurratori is the initiating prestige class, and probably my favorite prestige class in this book. It makes use of Unquiet Grave, a discipline introduced in this book. Fluffwise, most Sussurratori are living and often work with Vampires. They can stealthily take out problem targets, gaining a very nifty ability to increase the perception check DC to hear the sounds of combats they take part in. Additionally, they can teleport themselves, a nearby helpless creature, or a nearby willing creature to a specially prepared coffin. This allows the Sussurratori to easily transport captured food to their vampiric allies, save a dying ally, or to escape danger themselves! Very cool. They also can deal nonlethal damage with no penalty, allowing them to more easily capture people. As they level up, they become increasingly better at stealthily capturing or disabling targets, inflicting silence, dimensional anchor, and even a 1/day force cage. I just love how versatile and fun this prestige class is. The Sussurratori can easily be a vampire’s ally, but can just as easily be played as a supernatural bounty hunter, or many other concepts.

Black Templar are the veilweaving prestige class, bringing in Dreamscarred Press’ final subsystem. These veilweavers drain living essence from their victims, gaining temporary essence and hit points in the process. As the Black Templar advances in levels, they gain stronger necromantic abilities. Creatures killed by their draining turn into zombies, and as a capstone they can actually use Create Undead on creatures they drain to death.

Feats from this book are very versatile. They can allow vampires to appear more alive, becoming harder to detect in the process, or allow bards to affect undead with their performances. They even have a feat to turn your animal companion, familiar, or dark messenger (from a Harbinger archetype) into an undead animal companion.

Alongside the new discipline, Unquiet Grave, there is a new martial tradition. Interestingly enough, this tradition, The Scales of Mourning, is about the balance of the living, positive energy, the dead, and negative energy. The discipline, Unquiet Grave, on the other hand feels strongly undead. Just as most of the content in this section, it does not require you to be undead to use. Instead, its strikes and boosts add necromantic effects, or emulate undead monster abilities. As an example, Wight’s Blow deals a negative level that lasts for the duration of combat, while Howling Banshee Strike deals additional damage temporary deafen attached. This discipline feels quite balanced, and focuses on both offense and debuffing. As an added bonus, harbingers, mystics, stalkers, and warlords all can freely trade one known discipline to gain access to Unquiet Grave, allowing a player to easily gain access to it if so desired.

The spells section is quite interesting. It brings a lot of vampire themed spells to the table, such a Hungering Blade, which allows your weapons to deal a small amount of constitution damage on each hit or Sanguine Eruption which causes someone to explode into blood (difficult terrain). Swarming Bat Surge is a personal favorite, allowing the caster to explode into bats as a swift action to escape combat. There are also anti-vampire spells, such as False Dawn, which blinds targets and causes intense damage to the undead.

The Powers section, just like the spells section, is composed of many vampire themed abilities. Myra’s Occultation is a real gem as it makes people’s memories of you very hazy or outright absent for 1 hour per level. Perfect for any psychic sleuth or vampire on the run.

Chapter 4, offers many NPCs. The town guards presented are quite different from your average town guards. The basic guard is a level 2 ranger, while their captains are bards or ranger/rogues. There are veteran guards whom are rangers with dog animal companions as well. For campaigns with a lot of time spent in town, these can be highly useful, especially considering the level range on them. Also included are military NPCs, such as a 9th level paladin and adventurer PCs who seem quite competent at hunting down an undead threat. Of course, militiamen are included too, for when you need lower level threats.

Chapter 5, the final chapter, introduces the Leatherworkers’ Guild, a complete vampiric society ready to be implemented into any sufficiently large city. This chapter includes the founding of this society, backstory on its key players, and multiple plothooks and ways to have your players interact with this society. The NPCs here are all given backstories, motivations, an even what sides they take on the power struggle that seems to grip most members of the group.

It is obvious that a lot of love and care went into this book, and that the content was heavily researched. Additionally, the book manages to not come off as vampire fanservice, but as a serious attempt to integrate a new gameplay type into Pathfinder. This product earns a 5 out of 5 due to its excellent execution, balanced rules, and open-ended player options. This book is a must buy for any group wishing to play as vampires, or any GM interested in bringing vampires into a campaign as more than just monsters to be crushed.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of the Night
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by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2015 03:35:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 101 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 97 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, the first race herein receives +... Wait. Wait a second. My usual in-depth analysis, piece-by-piece approach doesn't work here. This is literally a huge book of races and if I go into that level of detail, we'll be here come next Christmas-season. So, I'll paint a picture in broader strokes than usual, all right? First, if you're not 100% sure what this book is - this is essentially PFRPG's update of 3.0's Bastards and Bloodlines - a book much lauded for its creative race, but also somewhat notorious as one of the many, many ones in the 3.X era that had no idea whatsoever what this "Bahlenz"-thing is.

Speaking of this dreaded concept - the pdf does one thing right from the get-go: It ignores the flawed RP-guidelines established in the ARG in favor of an individual balancing, which I applaud. Each race comes with a short guideline as per name, appearance, demeanor, background and their relations to adventurers, with a handy table explaining the crossbreed-relationships. A massive age table and its corresponding height & weight-table also can be found herein, satisfying that pet-peeve of mine. Another component of the racial design I generally can applaud would be the equilibrium of racial bonuses/penalties - most, though, alas, not all races herein receive a bonus to a physical and a mental attribute and one penalty, resulting in races that are not by their design geared towards specific career paths. It should also be noted that the pd thankfully avoids attribute-bonuses of more than +2 per the base racial traits. Another pet-peeve of mine (and many a DM out there), races that can fly at first level, also are thankfully absent here - instead, a two feat-chain that begins with slow-falling via vestigial wings and ends with proper flight, tied to HD when applicable and thus circumvents this issue. Excellent work there. I do have something I'd like to mention - the pdf always uses the phrase "X can see in the dark out to 60 feet." for Darkvision. Something in me cringes when I read this sentence. It's usually "up to." Personal nitpick, though, and will not influence the final verdict.

Bastards and Bloodlines also did not have to deal with favored class options - which this massive book thankfully provides for quite a few of the classes, notably often also for Psionic classes, Akashic classes or Path of War classes - even though some of the aforementioned classes have not yet been released in their final iteration. This makes judging the effects of such FCOs impossible for me, so be aware that changes may court issues in the future there - emphasis on "may", mind you, and no, I'm not going to fault the pdf for that, mainly because I enjoy futureproofing when handled well. As a nitpick, I did notice minor quibbles à la missing plus-signs in FCOs à la "Add 1/4 to X" - nothing grievous, though.

The races generally sport alternate racial traits for further customization (with e.g. the elf/unicorn-hybrid alicorn also coming with alternate racial traits for evil brethren...)and each race comes with full-color art - which is something to be applauded...dreaded at the same time in this case - while most of the artworks herein are evocative and nice, others felt jarring to me - the spring child's facial expression was an uncanny valley experience for me and more creepy than the tentacle-faced, gorgeous thrallspawn. Movement rate-wise, we run the gamut from slow land speed 20 ft. to 40 ft. (sometimes not adhering to the proper nomenclature for the like, but never to the extent where the intent becomes opaque) - though, on a nitpicky side, the racial write-ups do not specifically note base movement rates of 30 feet. The pdf also introduces a bunch of racial subtypes in the beginning, which generally work, though here, once again, I have a nitpick - the slimeblooded subtype refers to the type of slimes, which does not exist - it's "oozes." Small hiccups like this can be found throughout the book, including a couple plural/singular glitches here and there - not to a bad extent, but to one that feels slightly less refined than usual for Dreamscarred Press-books.

Before I go into the races: Please, read the whole review, don't just abort after a few lines. Why? Because I went very nitpicky on this one, showcasing some of the issues the races sport and you might construe that as problematic - however, there are concepts herein that warrant close scrutiny beyond the races and the flaws I'm about to point out. So, please - at least read the conclusion. Thank you.

So let's take a look at the races, shall we? Elitist and proud hybrids of elves and giant eagles, the winged aellar - here, an interesting choice can be observed: Instead of providing Fly as a class skill via a racial trait, the race can opt into it via favored class options, many of which add the skill to the list alongside a bonus - though one that does feel a slight bit odd in the wording: "Gain Fly as a class skill and a +1/2 bonus." is okay wording-wise, but could have been slightly more elegant. On the plus-side, skill-starved fighters instead receive a full +1 bonus per FCO - I applaud that! Where I get grumpy is with the option to use the fly-skill in lieu of their reflex save when flying. Skills can easily be buffed through the roof. On the nitpicky side, I do love how they deal additional damage when charging while airborne, but I do think the damage type ought to be specified and linked to the weapon employed - admittedly, again, a nitpick. A second nitpick would pertain the nice ability of raptor's gaze, which decreases the miss chance incurred by 10%. balance-wise, I have no objections here, but logically, this should only extend to sight-based miss-chances, being based on eyes and all. As written, even blinded aellar in complete darkness would receive the benefit. Again - cosmetic gripe and won't make or break the pdf. Instead of vestigial wings, some aellar receive claws, which, I assume, follow the default damage values for the type and scale up to d6 later - why "assume"? Because the ability does not specify the base damage value, nor whether they are treated as primary or secondary natural weapons - yes, one can assume the default, but from a customer's point of view the information still ought to be here, at one glance. This issue with natural weapons can be extended throughout the pdf, btw. Now all of this may have sounded pretty nasty, but on the other hand, the short fluffy write-up is inspiring and the general competence is there - literally none of the aforementioned glitches are gamebreakers or can't be easily fixed.

So let's move on to the aforementioned alicorn, the first of quite a lot of fey-themed crossbreed races herein - the signature ability here being that the alicorn can transfer damage, diseases and poisons and ability damage to herself. I have literally no idea how this ability works. "The alicorn may only transfer damage (including ability damage) up to its character level in this fashion and any ailments only last for the remainder of their duration." So, does damage and ability damage count as the same resource? What if a disease or poison has caused more damage than the alicorn can absorb? Auto-failure of the ability or not or partial absorption? If the latter, does the original afflicted character still have to save? What about damage inflicted by curses and other magical means? Is the alicorn subject to the effects like secondary saves etc. of the effects of poison, diseases, etc.? Can an alicorn assume the damage of a disease when she's immune against diseases? Does she save versus such an affliction at the unmodified save or at the one modified by the attribute damage taken, if any? Also: No daily limit. Same goes for the inverse, evil variant of the ability. Both remain essentially in dire need of some serious clarification, also since they have an ability that nets them a minor bonus to AC after using the ability, which could prompt them to prick kittens with needles (1 hp damage), absorb it and heal their poor fluffy companion. Yes, this latter example is impractical and hardly gamebreaking, but I maintain the concept could have been executed more elegantly.

Blinklings, the blink dog/halfling hybrids, on the other hand, are awesome all-around- 3/day reactive concealment as an immediate action? Yes, please! Extending their sight to the ethereal? Utterly unique and cool - and has some neat narrative potential. Seriously, I love this race and its write-up!

I'm am strictly opposed to only one thing, an alternate racial trait that nets the benefits of blur instead of the reactive concealment - whenever the blinkling moves at least half movement rate. For agile characters, this is a no-brainer and will be pretty much always active - oh, and it's EX, which means no caster level, no means of suppression. That one ought to be axed or nerfed - hard - I'd suggest at minimum character level, for the idea is too cool to leave behind, but also too strong at lower levels.

Decataurs, Elf/Centaur-hybrids sport a base speed of 45 ft., which seemed odd to me and they ignore movement and skill-check penalties caused by difficult terrain - which seems excessive to me - why not provide a scaling mechanic here instead of downright immunity? While the provided caveat versus damage-causing terrain helps, several caltrop-y magic tricks would lead to confusion here. On the plus-side, the rest of the race is pretty much the best centaur-like race I've seen in quite a while. I feel obliged to mention that as per the writing of this review, the errata has not been incorporated into this book - it does specify how decataurs use horseshoes, not shoes, but due to fairness and since I think people should not have to look for errata, said fix will not influence my final verdict. Want another thing that's awesome about the race? Available as bipeds, for all those dungeon-campaigns with many, many ladders and ropes...

The freedom-loving Dreigi, half-giants with an ancient grudge (against fey and chaotic outsiders) are flavor-wise one awesome piece of work, with an inspiring artwork etc. - but their massive scaling bonuses versus aforementioned creatures (+2 to saves, damage and atk, +1 more for every 4 levels), is too much in my book - though that one is easily scaled down, and it should be. Why? Because these guys get two damn awesome signature abilities: For one, their attacks count as cold iron; they may also create 1/day difficult cold-iron caltrop-y terrain. Secondly, they ignore the hardness of magical barriers and add their character level to damage versus them. Yes, this means they have a fighting chance versus walls of force and the like. I love this race and really would enjoy it more, had it not this one critical flaw that otherwise mars a superb example of race design - it's also unnecessary, mind you, since the theme of pro-freedom/anti-enslavement also is reflected in quite a few other racial abilities.

You may have noticed something - no Tanis-syndrome race so far. And indeed, you will not find mopey, angsty half-breeds herein - take the Grendle, combining the best of parent race and troll, these guys are hardy and charismatic - and heal as if they had rested every hour. Apart from an unnecessary and imho rather OP ability to demoralize foes at +2 as an immediate action after being hit (or first level AoE-demoralize), the grendle is stylish and works very well - though the alternate racial traits feel confused: One mentions increasing a morale bonus to Str to +4 - a morale bonus thankfully cut in this iteration of the book, thus leading me to believe that we have a remnant of a previous iteration here. On the plus-side, gaining swim speed, but requiring 1 hour submersion in water to benefit from their healing each day is a pretty cool alternate racial trait.

Half-Gnolls are glorious - powerful, but lacking any issues (apart from once being called "It", to which some gnoll-aficionados will vehemently object) - scent and claws plus pack hunting - exactly what you'd want and expect! Hunting down fleeing foes is also neat, though an ability that automatically deals bonus damage versus foes suffering from debuffs should a) be more limited and restricted to the half-gnoll and b) once again, specify the damage type as belonging to the weapon used to execute the attack. Finally, since ranged builds already are pretty adept at the whole damage-dealing, I'd restrict the ability to melee - it's called Dominance, not "I shoot you from behind my allies." ;) Still, all in all, a great race, though the alternate traits can use some finetuning.

Speaking of finetuning - the half-goblinoids, while melee-centric, all can generally considered pretty cool - though again, the alternate racial traits and what they replace does not always match power-wise: What would you take: A +2 bonus to Perception and taking 20 for 30 ft x 30 ft as a full-round action or +8 (!!!) to Stealth and +4 (!!!) to Escape Artist plus the option to squeeze through tiny-sized areas? Yeah, the fast search is awesome - I like it. But I don't see these two line up - the bonuses of the latter are too pronounced in my book; I'd cut them in half AT LEAST. Half-hobgoblins see better in the dark than their parent race (90 feet that pretty sure should be 60 instead...), but apart from that, both they and the half bugbears are pretty damn glorious! Also on the strong, but cool side, half-sahuagin may be slightly too well off on the winner's end-side regarding bonuses, at least for my tastes, but in groups that sport powerful races, the will fit in perfectly - just as long as you ignore the "I get 4 arms, but no penalties/repercussions"-alternate racial trait, that on its own would have been exceedingly strong - that's not something to trade in for 2 paltry abilities, that's a defining characteristic of a whole race. And no, the pdf does not really explain how this many arms work re feats, item activation, etc. - a sidebox providing guidance would have almost certainly be appreciated by most players. Underworld Races: Hoyrall by AAW Games handled multiple arms in a pretty balanced, cool way, btw.

The Hexbreather, heirs to the dreaded hags, have some nice hex-related abilities in the base form, yes - but Str-damage versus claws at level 1 feels a bit nasty sans limits. One alternate racial trait also refers to the cursed condition, which does not exist. The half-nymph Houri are a gorgeous example (literally) of this book's tricks - no issues, functional, versatile and unique signature abilities (debuff-beauty 1/day or friend to all animals...). The same can be said about the Kestrel - good, positive halfling/harpy-hybrids that use their powers for good- generally. The Kijin are the elf/oni crossbreeds and hit two rough spots for me - one, they have a per-encounter ability. You all know how much I love those. Secondly, they essentially cover the same niche as Rite Publishing's wyrd - and the wyrd benefit from a much more detailed and for me, compelling, cultural background courtesy of the expanded room within they can operate - full pdf versus couple of pages. I don't consider them perfect either, but in direct comparison, the wyrd won for me. The same applies for the direct comparison of Rite's take on the lurker versus the one herein, though again, I consider both to fall slightly short of what they could be.

That being said, this pdf does manage an utterly admirable job at rendering the respective halfbreeds distinct and culturally unique - to the point where some of the brief fluff-write-ups actually captivated me enough to make me consider playing the half-breeds - and that coming from a guy who went out of 3.X with a distinct oversaturation regarding fiendish/celestial creatures and half-dragons as well as a distinct dislike for mopey halfbreeds. So yeah, this pdf can be considered inspired in that regard - from the roper/dwarf bio-weapons created by the phrenic hegemony to the love-conquers-all children of merfolk and men to the inspired and monstrous ornibus, suffused with the essences of howlers, the halfbreeds manage to avoid redundancy. And, if the above exercises in racial nitpickery were not ample clue for you - over all, they tend to be almost awesome - during my analysis, I regularly found myself enjoying myself and getting ready to write a recommendation for a race, only to have some ability overextend what I consider viable. Generally, about 1 ability among the racial traits, more often among the alternate racial traits, can be considered too strong and in need of nerfing - or its balancing versus its replacement feels like it is wonky. That being said - both the ornibus and the half-satyr pipers, for example, can be considered generally well-crafted - provided you can see past the numerous small violations of rules-semantics that make the RAI apparent, but are slightly less polished than what one would like to see. If you e.g. nerf down the +10 bonus to disarm for the Rana-race that can be received per expenditure of the psionic focus, we'll actually have a great, interesting race. (Rana are btw. Ophidian/Lizardfolk hybrids that usually grow up with the less intelligent lizardfolk and thus develop interesting mannerisms...)And yes, if that and the examples above were not clue enough for you - there is yet another thing I need to address regarding the races - and it's a HUGE plus!

Know how the ARG-races tend to feel somewhat sameish? How many races are just a recombination of the same tools, again and again? Not so here - every race herein has at least one unique trick that sets it apart - a racial signature ability, if you wish. I love this general idea, if not always the execution of them. - the half-gargoyles may e.g. use their wings to take 1/2 damage of an adjacent ally - think of it as a limited, immediate action-based shield other - interesting, though the wording could be more concise. Still, it is an ability like this that really sets the race apart and makes it feel distinct - also in a mechanical way. I have mentioned the tentacle-faced obvious heir to the half-illithids, haven't I? Yeah. The woodborn, which are just the race for anyone who ever wanted to tackle playing Pinocchio? Yeah, awesome. Even better - an alternate racial trait that nets you an assassin vine symbiote that deals more damage on a grapple just oozes style. Alas, it should have a slightly more precise wording: "This vine assists them during grapples, dealing 1d6+Strength modifier damage to other creatures in the grapple every round the woodborn maintains a grapple." - so does this mean that allied creatures in the creature/aiding also receive the damage? Why not go with a more standard wording for the damage? Winterwolf/Hellhound/Worg/humanoid half-breeds also deserve two thumbs up regarding their ability-suites.

Now this pdf does have more to offer than just a metric ton of half-breed races - namely templates - for bi/quadrupedal creatures, half-doppelgängers/medusas, half-elementals (!!!), half-rakshasas and also so-called titanblooded creatures - the templates are pretty solid all-around, with ample cool ideas and tools for mad scientists/transmuters to play with - nothing greivous to complain about here. The book furthermore offers a distinct array of feats, most of which have the [heritage]-descriptor. The feats run a wide gamut: We have for example one that substitutes a mental attribute for con - which would make me yell - however, it is restricted to bonus hp, not all the saves - which does, surprisingly, work for me. The presence of the Feral Fighter-feat feels a bit odd - it nets you claws or a bite as appropriate for your creature type. Why don't some of these races use this instead of the at times redundant or unnecessary-seeming amounts of natural weapons some receive - that would also put players agenda higher on the list. On the broken-side of thing, we can list e.g. bloodsong adept -which allows you to use bardic performance only affecting your type/subtype, but does not expend rounds of bardic performance. Urgh. Enter a party with the same race and we have unlimited bardic performance-rounds. Yeah. not gonna happen in my game and even feels cheap for NPCs - this one is hardcore broken and should imho get a serious nerfing bashing. On the okay-side, there are multiple SP-granting feats and some that e.g. net grab to add to bites and tentacle attacks - not a fan of the latter, but that is personal taste. Now on the other side, there is the Mixed Blood-feat, which is made of awesome and win - with a table of one whole page (!!!), it allows you to represent just about any odd bloodline/creature-type combinations - wanna go for a lawfully-infused orcish heritage? You can do that. This feat's concept is just great - and it's well-balanced to boot! Impressive one!

There also are 4 racially-themed PrCs - the brief run-down of them would be as follows:

The Bloodsong Heritor is the herald of his people - a solid, good bardic PrC with neat mechanics and not much but exceedingly minor nitpicks to complain about - were its prerequisite not aforementioned utterly broken unlimited performance feat, I'd be even more impressed - especially since the class does net more performance rounds and nice, unique performances that also include the expenditure of multiple rounds for interrupt-style effects while still maintaining the performance. Think of it as a less complex, much more limited and racially-themed take on what Interjection Games' Composition magic does. The Kith Hunter is an okay slayer-type 5-level PrC. Seen better, seen worse. The Kithlord can be considered a solid racial champion PrC with commander-style tricks/auras and even teleports at higher levels - okay, though I'd be wary of this PrC in a uni-race group - mostly great for NPC-adversaries, imho. The 5-level mongrel has the most choices among the PrCs, offering quite an ability-array to choose from and some rather unique bonuses - including ways of getting rid of ability damage by leeching off magic - nice one.

The book also sports a small selection of new spells, which can generally be considered among the more powerful examples available - they are not bad, mind you, but the option to e.g. have earthskin and stoneskin overlap may not fit well with some groups. That being said, spells that provide minor bonuses versus e.g. kobolds and goblins will not break anyone's game. The spells are solid.

Finally, the book provides new magical items, including 4 new special abilities, one of which nets you a standard action in a surprise round for just the equivalent of +1 - which seems too cheap, considering how pricey in terms of feat/ability-investment the like usually is. A +1 enhancement that bypasses the DRs of elementals and constructs essentially renders golems utterly useless at +1 enchantment - ridiculously OP and should be torn to smithereens. On the plus-side, conjuring forth a red blade of flame via bracers is pretty cool and the traveler's backpack will be a favorite for most wilderness adventures. So, all in all, solid section with some winners and some that obviously require significant nerfing.


Editing and formatting are not on par with what Dreamscarred press usually delivers. If you're picky about proper rules-semantics, you'll find a lot to nitpick, which I tried to showcase in my excessive and nasty picking apart of sentences in the first section of the review. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has copious full-color artworks - as mentioned above, ranging from gorgeous to horrifying. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

You may have gotten a wrong impression from this review - I actually like this book.

No, really. I was honestly positively surprised by this pdf.

The signature abilities provided for the races, the unique, non-redundant fluff and the overall balancing of the races is great. No, really, I mean it. Alas, this book is also the very definition of flawed - almost every race had either a wording hiccup or one ability that just went beyond what would be considered balanced in all but high-powered tables. Essentially, I could play "look for the bit that's too strong" with a huge array of races I otherwise loved - races that feel more organic and viable than they have any right to, provided the limited room they each have. SO let me state this again:

This is a good book. The thing is, it could have easily been an OMG-HOW-AWESOME-IS-THAT-book. Literally all races and quite a bunch of the non-racial supplemental material borders on the awesome, only to swerve on the finishing line and get an unnecessary bent. The rules-language per se makes RAI clear in most cases, but also allows for copious misinterpretation due to being a tad bit less precise than it could be. Matt Medeiros, Jade Ripley and Andreas Rönnqvist have ultimately crafted a massive racial book that can be considered a nice addition to a given campaign - and one a moderately system-savvy DM can render utterly awesome by ironing out the rough patches. This book has all the potential you could ask for. At the same time, though, it has several supplemental components in dire need of nerfing, some races that obviously could have used some streamlining and is marred by craftsmanship that, while not bad in the traditional sense, does exhibit some flaws and deviations from the target goal.

What I'm trying to say is: I can see people hating and loving this book. If you tend to get hung up on peculiarities of rules-language, then this will provide some frustration for you. Same goes for groups seeking for a book to drop in as is - while that can be done, I'd only recommend it unsupervised for high-powered games. On the plus-side, the races do feel iconic, they can be cleaned of the problematic bits and a capable DM can adjust them with relative ease to a lower power-level. Oh, and they, and that cannot be under-emphasized, do not suffer from the sucky bloat of skill-enhancer racial traits (Get +2 to Skill A and B) that hound so many races since the ARG, instead providing something unique.

How to rate this, then? Well, honestly, I should probably go with 3 stars for this - the flaws are numerous and pronounced and then there's the inclusion of some broken pieces among the supplemental materials that are OP by any standard applied. However, at the same time, this book is much more inspired that I ever had hoped it would be. Both in its design and its concepts. And there are MANY awesome ideas, both in the fluff- and crunch-departments to be found. The downright brilliant mixed blood, the non-sucky blinkling...and so many more do not deserve a mediocre rating. And ultimately, I enjoyed this book too much for that, in spite of its flaws. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4, with an explicit caveat emptor for anyone picky about rules-language. DMs willing to do some tinkering will find a nice treasure-trove here - one that needs polish, yes, but one that can, eventually, be brought to shine.

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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From the Deep #3: A Dragon's Orders
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/03/2015 10:08:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of Dreamscarred Press' all-psionics- AP in the Third Dawn setting clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages content, so let's take a look!

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




Still here? All right! After a long hiatus, we're finally back in the psionic AP and we kick off with a cool particular set of changes - the choices made in Part I and II have significant consequences, altering not only the updated statblock of the city of Albril, but also sporting direct benefits that depend on the PC's choices. When the PCs are called to meet up with the most powerful people of the town, one quickly realizes that things just got real - the city of Lirasse has fallen over night. Now not only will the sudden refugee influx change the very power dynamics of their home, the PCs will have another issue at their hands sooner rather than later. They have obviously finally entered the frame for their antagonists and the conspiracy, with its in-game rules interacting with psionic means of research. Unfortunately for the PCs, this translates into a smear-campaign designed to tarnish their reputation while sowing discord - and yes, the mechanics to track this progression of strife is pretty neat and concise. That being said, this particular frame-job can be complicated significantly by object reading and the DM's interpretation of said power - the wording of the power is ambiguous enough to potentially break the narrative here, so that would be one very important thing to be aware of.

Still, doing the investigation, spiced with numerous red herrings and challenging combats, all while suspicion rises and the cult of the scaled god's fanatics rise can make for great adventuring. Defeating finally the mastermind behind the smear campaign, the PCs will also hopefully encounter multiple sabotage plans that have gone utterly unnoticed by the city's seers - which should more than raise eyebrows. So, off the PCs are - towards the ruins of Lirasse, where the survivors huddle under the cruel rule of the scaled one's servants. Infiltrating the ruins, past the numerous hill giants and similar threats, the PCs will have ample opportunity to explore what is left of the town...and hopefully find the hide-out of the fanatics behind the fall of the town. From there, a letter points the PCs towards the so-called Maw, from which the scaled god is scheduled to rise...very soon. So yes, beyond the threat of various phrenic scourges and their ilk, beyond animate dreams, the PCs will have to deal with the scaled god and further conspirators - it's dragon-slaying time, all while the timer ticks and strategies in place to delay the PCs work at full force. Let's just hope the PCs can end the dragon who has implanted to many fragments of his psyche in the various fanatical soldiers of the cabal...

The pdf ends with a mini-bestiary and a short 2-page campaign synopsis.


Editing and formatting are pretty good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' relatively printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is solid full-color, courtesy of Rick Hershey and Tsailanza Rayne and cartography is solid. The lack of player-friendly maps annoyed me, though.

Michael McCarthy has grown as an author - this module is testament to that in that it is significantly more streamlined, more cinematic than its predecessors and in that it sports numerous damn cool ideas that render it much more compelling than I expected it to be. The emphasis on choice and consequence, the multiple ways in which the investigation can be run (fast track, clues, red herrings) -all of that feels pretty much right and is really, really fun. So does, in fact, the way in which the conspiracy operates - the in-game-logic here is pretty smooth and I can definitely appreciate that. On the downside, this module does feel a bit lax when it comes to PC-capability - the players, at this point, will have quite an arsenal and potentially even a small army at their disposal, so some synergy with mass-combat rules would have been appreciated - or at least, some additional benefits. Don't get me wrong - the module DOES do a great job in making the players feel like their decisions matter - because they do. At the same time, though, I couldn't help but feel that the significant status, the smear-campaign against them - all of that could have had more consequences.

Which brings me to the relative "weak" point of this module - it tries a tad bit too much in one go. A more detailed murder mystery with more read-aloud text, more complex investigation tricks, preferably requiring specifically some psionic tricks, would have been awesome to see. A more detailed second act, including more escapee-tragedies, a better fleshed out city would have been a nice module of its own. And finally, the end of the module also feels like it could have stood on its own with some expansion and thus be slightly more organic. Now this does not make the module bad by any means - it is functional, exciting even - but when I ran it, I found myself doing a lot of expansion work once we dusted off our From the Deep-PCs. I'm not complaining, mind you, but I still feel like this time around, less would have potentially been more – the module works as a whole, but it feels a bit cramped. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down by a tiny margin to 4 – this definitely is the best From the Deep module so far. I'm looking forward to seeing how this AP progresses!

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
From the Deep #3: A Dragon's Orders
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Psionics Embodied
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/26/2015 05:26:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 64 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So, we've all been there - suddenly, mid-adventure, a PC bites the dust and the player has no time to make a new character for now, requiring the temporary use of an NPC. Or, more often, one sits on the DM's side of the screen and makes yet another NPC-build. I know I do that and it is an annoying bottleneck. There are certain tricks and combos one stumbles across and then re-uses them time and again. The issue becomes more pronounced if your campaign is like mine and sports a vast array of different 3pp materials. Paizo only has the CORE-classes covered with the codex and beyond that, I may point towards Rite Publishing's superb Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, Frog god Games' Unusual Suspects and LPJr Design's Usual Suspects...and beyond these, good NPC-books become scarce, with only a couple of Legendary Games-books coming to mind. This was particularly annoying, at least for me, when it came to psionics (and some other subsystems I regularly use) - I had to make too many of these guys from scratch and at some point, tunnel-vision starts to set in.

Introducing this book, psionics now receive an array of NPCs for your perusal to insert into your campaign. The numerous characters herein are crafted with the heroic attribute-array and appropriate WBL and each character comes with 3 builds - one for level 5, one for level 10 and one for level 15. Now I am not going to go into the details for every NPC herein - for every creature herein comes with a full-blown background story as well as advice on how to use the NPC as both an ally or villain - and yes, this means that these guys and gals are full-blown, developed personalities, not just statblocks. From radiant heroes to plague-doctor elans gone full-blown insane evil, the characters herein take the base classes in different directions, with tacticians, dreads, marksmen, etc. all receiving their due. Some of the specialists of the psion-class receive no representation, though. Blues, forgeborn and similar psionic races are well-integrated into the builds within these pages.

In fact, the characters herein work exceedingly well as both allies and adversaries and, more often than not, offer some deviations from tired and true character tropes, thus coming to life in a surprising captivating manner. From the honorable, yet brash Desh to the ruthless, but well-situated Count Malbor, the diverse NPCs in this book do a nice job of running the gamut from cool allies to despicable adversaries, with the builds themselves doing a neat job of representing the particulars of the NPC and their ideology in the crunch they provide.


Editing and formatting are very good - apart from some rare glitches like an incorrect CR and similar minor glitches, the pdf can be considered well off in that regard. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and each and every NPC in this book receives a gorgeous full-color artwork - kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked as well as with a more printer-friendly version with a white background.

Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist and Matt Medeiros have crafted a damn useful NPC-collection - finally, an array of psionic NPCs, all ready for use, with just the flick of a finger. I love books like this, simply because they allow a DM to focus on cool storylines, preparing a module etc. - or simply add a spark of psionics into another-wise non-psionics module. The NPCs are diverse, their writing is neat, the builds solid - so there is not much to complain in that regard.

That being said, there are some minor nitpicks I can field against this book, the first of which would simply be scope - I would have loved this to be a NPC-Codex-sized, massive book of diverse builds, covering all psion-specialists etc. Now I can't hold the scope of the book against it, but still - a bigger book would have been awesome. Similarly, some people may have wanted scaling suggestions to bring these NPCs down to less powerful builds, but once again, I consider that not the book's fault. My only true gripe with this book would be the following - unlike the NPC Codex, this book presents rounded characters and the builds, for that, feel very much linear. While some archetype'd combos can be found, you won't find any nasty multiclass combos in this book and for named NPCs, I would have expected one or two or these. Note that this does not make the book bad in any way - it's just that making linear characters is much easier and less time-consuming than making complex, archetype'd multiclass characters.

But in the end, ladies and gentlemen, this is just me being a complaining nitpicker at a high level. The characters herein deserve to be called "characters" - they range from nice to inspired and some rather beg to be used, which is a neat accomplishment in my book - this collection is still a permanent addition to my DM-toolkit and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Akashic Mysteries: Vizier
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/27/2015 13:59:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This first installment of the Akashic Mysteries-series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

First of all, in case you don't know - this is the PFRPG-version of "Magic of Incarnum", updated, refined and refluffed. But it's more than that. Let me elaborate - back in teh day, i liked the basic concept of Incarnum; its balancing may not always have been perfect, but it was an interesting system, one I wished had come out sooner and wish better cost/benefit ratios. I didn't enjoy the fluff, but that could be changed easily. Still, the system didn't seem to gel well with my group, until we went gestalt - in that playstyle, it excelled.

Fast-forward to this series - has it inherited the weaknesses of its parent-system? What about the flavor? We'll see!

The class introduced herein would be the vizier, who receives d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor, bucklers and simple weapons. The class has 1/2 BAB-progression and, uncommon for a full caster, but not unheard of, good fort and will-saves. The main schtick of the class, though, would be veilweaving, which is grouped into two categories, namely veils and essences. A 1st level vizier begins play with 2 veils and 1 essence and increases that to a total of 11 veils and 30 essences at 20th level.

Viziers receive instant access to all veils on the vizier's list, apart from those of an alignment opposing that of the vizier. When required, a veil's save DC is 10 + number of essence points invested + vizier's Intelligence modifier. A vizier may invest up to his character level in essence into a given veil or given receptacle. Here, the wording is slightly non-standard - not to a point where I'd complain about this or detract from the verdict, but still, making this one slightly more linear in its wording would help. At 3rd level, 11th and 19th, the vizier increases the maximum capacity of a receptacle by +1. DCs also increase by +1 on these levels. Re-allocating essence into veils can be done as a swift action each round. Veils are prepared much like spells each day after rest etc.

You may have noticed that the vizier, in spite of what the base frame of the class might look like, is NOT a spellcaster - however, they do treat vizier-levels as arcane caster levels for purposes of qualifying for feats and abilities. Now I mentioned that essence can be freely re-distributed between veils - well the same does NOT hold true regarding the investiture of essence into magic items with charges: Wands, staves and wondrous items can be infused with essence, gaining additional charges that last for 24 hours before dissipating. These cannot be reassigned and remain essentially locked in the item. Here, there's issue, though - (warning: nitpickery!) balance is a bit opaque, since the basic veilweaving does not specify when the essence-pool refreshes, instead stating "A vizier must have at least 8 hours rest or meditation to achieve a clear and focused state, and must meditate for one hour to shape his veils for the day." One could argue that you could theoretically invest essence twice into an item in a given 24 hour-period. Would that be smart? In most of the cases, it wouldn't be. I'd hence suggest to include a sentence that clearly states that essence invested in items does not regenerate before 24 hours have elapsed. Also, since the duration and essence capacity maximum (see waaaay down in the section on veilweaving) could cause confusion here, I'd strongly suggest rewiring the rest/essence-regain-wording.

There is another issue - an item that has essence invested in it not only gains the temporary charges, it also does never prompt UMD checks to use. While the ability can only be used to activate spells of 8th level or lower, it can still lead to problems.

What do I mean by this? Surprisingly, I'm not complaining about items with few charges being left as treasure to have some "smart bombs" here; What I'm not sold on is simply the flat-out "no UMD"-section AND the non-scaling nature of this ability. What if the players find a wand with precious few charges or a unique staff and can just flat-out use it? I am aware that these are fringe-cases, but it would theoretically allow the vizier to utilize charge-based items beyond his level's capacity (if the DM foolishly drops them into the treasure...) - and there is a pretty easy solution that prevents the issue: Just make the highest spell level of the item the governing factor for whether or not you have to UMD and make it scale with class level progression, by e.g. tying it to twice essence capacity. Now, yes, the base ability isn't broken, but I maintain that such a solution would be much more elegant and prevent fringe-case abuse.

Now there also are so-called chakra-binds - these are gained at 2nd level in a linear manner, +1 at every 2nd level, in a fixed progression from Hands, feet, head, wrist, shoulders, headband, neck, belt chest and finally, at 20th level, body. At 9th level, the vizier can bind veils in the ring slot and at 15th level, you can bind them into both ring slots. On a nitpicky-side, I don't get why the ring-slots are not wrapped in the chakra-ability, but that is purely a cosmetic gripe.

At 3rd level, viziers may reshape a veil 1/day (+1/day for every 4 levels thereafter) as a standard action that provokes AoOs into a new veil. Additionally, each time the daily uses increase, you may also shift one additional veil per ability use. The capstone allows for at-will veilshaping - and whenever the class uses the veilshaping ability, he regains 3+Int temporary essence.

Viziers also receive a kind of bloodline-ish linear ability chosen at first level - a total of 3 are provided and I hope we'll see more of those. The Path of the Crafter, Path of the Seer and Path of the Ruler.

The Path of the Crafter gain a bonus equal to 1/2 class level (rounded up or down?) on all skill-checks made as part of the crafting process. That is pretty powerful. Allies within 30 ft. that activate a magic item, treat caster level and DC of the activated item as +1. That is nasty, but will also make the vizier rather popular with his adventuring companions. Okay, where things get rather unique would be in one particular ability - transfer essence. This allows you to meditate on items and exchange their bonuses and special abilities. - Found a cool weapon, but don't have the proficiency for it? just exchange the enchantment with those on your trusty sword. I applaud the fact that you can't cherry-pick abilities. Now, on the other hand, wand/staff charges can also be exchanged if the items have the same highest spell level - a fitting restriction, but one I'd suggest to be supplemented with an analogue caster level (or lower) restriction to prevent spells that increase their potency with caster level having their charges cheaply upped by using charges from items that do not scale with CL. Once again, not a bad glitch, but rather one that can easily be fixed.

The path also grants item creation feats and a decreased craft-price at higher levels. Oh, and kudos for the intelligent item/cursed item/artifact caveat!

The path of the ruler is all about granting a will-save/sense motive debuff aura, with selective exclusion of allies. Enforcing a reroll at high levels is nice, but when compare to the Crafter's benefits, the path of the ruler feels pretty meek. The poor guy could use an upgrade for his aura.

The path of the seer increases movement of all allies within 60 ft. by +5 ft, +5 more at 9th and 17th level - neat. Now the interesting part comes next - the seer learns teamwork feats and for each point invested, the class may share ALL teamwork feats granted by this ability (1 is gained at 1st, 5th, 9th and 13th level) with an ally; additionally, veils tied to hand or feat may be shared alongside with allies. High-level seer-viziers may freely retrain the teamwork feats. See, that one is a competent, powerful commander-style path and once again, mops the floor with the relatively uninspired ruler-path.

Next up would be an array of new feats, 37 if I'm not mistaken. There are some feats for non-akashic classes to wilder in the system. Feats with the new [Akashic]-descriptor increase the essence pool by +1. The feats very much do support one aspect I loved about the original incarnum - gestalting and multiclassing. Investing essence into one school to have the school's spells at CL+1? Can see that. On the downside, these feats constitute neither veils, nor charge-bearing items, so not sure whether one can freely re-allocate essence invested via feats of this formula. Free reallocation would amount to pretty much free CL+1 for all spells of that school. While not too bad in this example, when one takes a look at the power point-reducing feat in the same line (reduce PP-cost by essence invested, thankfully with power-level based additional restrictions), it becomes apparent that free reallocation is something that needs to be addressed, otherwise, you could decrease the cost of ALL powers subsequently. This is especially puzzling since the feat that allows you to invest essence in favor of getting power points does specify the 24 hours-no-reassignment cap. This also becomes also apparent when taking a look at the otherwise interesting veilbound metamagic, which once again uses a 1/day formula.

The pdf ought to specify whether it uses the 24-hour bind-and-locked wording or whether it imposes a cap on how many times per day essence can be invested in a feat - utilizing both models quickly becomes confusing. After multiple extensive playtesting sessions, I'd suggest the former, i.e. going analogue to charge-investment, for what it's worth.

Conversely, not all feats suffer from this specific issue -akashic charge allows you to 1/day invest essence in the feat, granting a bonus to atk and damage when charging equal to the essence invested. Its missing no-reassignment clause has been addressed in the errata and I'm willing to believe that this component will feature in the next update. This type of complaint, however, can be fielded against a whole feat-class herein - I assume that to be oversights in layout/editing, since some feats clearly sport this caveat. There are a lot of feats interacting and enhancing existing feats here and math-wizards will have a field day here. I just hope that all those cool feats receive the "no reassignment for 24 hours"-caveat in the next update - as provided here, the feats that lack it can be broken pretty easily.

Essentially, the point boils down to the following scenario:

Does the feat grant a significant bonus based on essence-investment? If yes, it should have the essence bound analogue to charge items.

Does the feat instead grant a highly situational or very restricted bonus? Then essence should remain flexible to justify the feat investment.

In any case, adding the 1/day restrictions feels a bit tacked on; with just a bit of minor streamlining, this whole section can be rid of its minor issues and made more smooth.

Beyond these, I also noticed that "Essence of the Immortals" has the [Akashic]-descriptor, but has neither an essence pool as a prerequisite, nor does it grant +1 essence -the same holds true for some other feats, but I have not yet determined whether that's intentional or an oversight.

This may all have sounded terribly negative - it's not my intent to do so. It's just that this one glitch in how the whole feat-class works makes it very hard to judge whether these work as intended or not. The plus-side here is that the math underlying the feats can be considered powerful, but NOT overpowered - at least once the 24-hour lock-caveat has been implemented. To close my discussion on the feats with something positive - the massive gestalting potential of incarnum is not only maintained, it is surpassed - the feats here have something for just about everyone to utilize, which is downright awesome.

All right, so let's get to veilweaving, shall we? Every veil is associated with a chakra and can be bound to the chakra if the akashic class is powerful enough to do so, gaining more benefits. Each chakra corresponds to an equipment slot and some veils can occupy one or two or even more different slots. It is very important to note that veils bound to chakras do NOT interfere with items worn in the same slot - the biggest suckage-factor of incarnum is GONE.

Upon manifesting the veil, you can choose which slot the veil is applied to. If you remember the above discussion of the class, you'll realize that new chakras become unlocked at a fixed progression. Veils interact with spells and spell-like abilities as if they were spells. Veils, unless they modify/grant natural attacks or weapons, are subject to SR. Veils can be targeted and even sundered to temporarily suppress them. identifying veils works via Knowledge (arcana), which may seem a bit odd, seeing the usual adherence to Spellcraft for such a task...but I actually really like this decision. it adds a "different" flavor to the magic-class. Now before you all start screaming regarding how huge, highly circumstantial bonuses can be stacked up - there is a pretty conservative essence capacity limit based on character level - no more than this fixed amount can be invested in any one veil, feat, etc.

Now the veils...ooohhh, if you like customizable classes, you'll have a field day here! Fascination-auras with customizable aura size may be nice...but what if a target is freed from the effect and you have bound the veil to your wrist? Well, then you can deliver what my group called the "akashic pimp slap" with a free action ranged touch attack. Eyes of fiery death? Yup. Veils that improve starting attitude (and this one ACTUALLY manages to achieve the "disarming smile/diplomancer-trope so much better than comparable options, it's really cool) can be found herein alongside those helping with elemental affinities. Want a veil that allows you to spontaneously create zombies (or cairn wights in ring-slot-bound-form?) from the deceased? Channel-like effects of veils have thankfully daily limits imposed upon them to prevent abuse - that's how it's done.

On a nitpicky side that will not influence the final verdict, the veil that grants a draconic breath weapon could have used a short list of what dragon-colors net lines and which cones - while I know them by hard, many players will have to look that one up. As mentioned, nitpicking here and not gonna penalize the pdf for one page-skip required. Pretty awesome - by binding the aforementioned veil to the neck, you can further increase your draconic breath's power; alternatively, you can grow wings with increasing maneuverability. Now the hand cannons combined with target of Opportunity are a pretty nasty combo -especially when combined with a sniper as deadly as the one I have in my group - but come on. Hand cannons. I actually made a hand cannon in an archetype once. I'm a berserk fanboy. I can't hate on magical hand cannons. (Plus, while powerful, they're not broken.)

Want whips of light? Yup. What about binding it to make trip attempts against every enemy in range whenever the veil is triggered? Yep, that's crazy awesome to not be flooded by groups of moderately competent mooks. And yes, in playtest, a defense scenario against floods of foes actually saw the vizier shine pretty nicely.


Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - here and there, the wording's flow could be improved, especially among the feats, which feel like 2 versions of rules-language collide for a section that is more confusing than it ought to be. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes bookmarked, though not extensively so. The pdf does come in two versions, with the second being more printer-friendly.

Okay, after reading this review, I'd really love to know what you think follows next. Admittedly, the vizier, to me, has a very much WiP-feel - the wording of essence-regaining/veil-redistribution could be clearer, feats feel a bit over the place regarding the system they utilize and one of the 3 paths is not only much more boring than the other two, it is also significantly weaker. So that would be the downsides.

On the plus-side - this MOPS THE FLOOR with Magic of Incarnum! The vizier is so much cooler than the incarnate, it's not even funny anymore. Seriously, it's so much better, it's not even funny! The fluff is better. The execution is better. The math is more elegant and if the wording issues are ironed out and there's no ambiguity left (especially re item interaction), this will be a total and utter blast. I honestly did not expect to like this due to several factors:

1) Fluff. Done. Not only is the new fluff cooler, the writing actually dares to be funny once in a while in an unobtrusive manner. Take this one: "Binding this wicked veil to your Shoulders chakra makes you slightly less cuddly than a rabid dire porcupine." Win.

2) Item-slot issue. Resolved.

3) Massive combo-potential requires plenty of foresight and solid math to prevent ridiculous abuse.

Number 3...oh, how I dreaded you. I had never before read a book by author Michael Sayre. Know what? This man knows his math. The vizier turned out to be a strong class, yes, but it is not overpowered - it requires continuous resource-management, is highly customizable and manages to maintain the gestalting capacities of the original system. Bonus-types are applied consistently. Options are cool, unique and fun. I did not expect to like this pdf to this extent.

The good news here is: Michael, you are talented indeed and I'm stoked for future installments of the series, though they are a colossal pain to review. The issues this pdf has can easily and quickly be fixed and boil down to wording, flow and making mechanics more explicit by establishing a slightly more concise terminology. For example, 24-hour-essence-storage = binding essence to; otherwise: investing essence into x. Simple, easy and once established and explained, prevents a lot of confusion and allows for easy streamlining of feats etc. and may actually save space regarding word count!

So yes, this pdf has some WiP-level rough patches. But its potential is GLORIOUS and exceedingly fun. The flexibility provided is glorious (and on par with PFRPG's versatility - no two viziers need to be alike!) and the veils are fitting and unique. Combo-potential galore rules. Were it not for the glitches and rough patches I complained about, this would be a no-brainer 5 star+ seal of approval file. The glitches would usually make me harp on this harder than I did here, probably for something around the 3.5 star-area. BUT: They can easily be fixed, mostly boil down to requiring slightly more precise wording and do not reflect badly on the system provided here. After using this and analyzing it, I can't, not for the life of me, bash this as something even remotely mediocre. It's not. This pdf is fun and I am stoked for future Akashic Mysteries and a cleaning of the glitches that still haunt this. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars, with an explicit recommendation for everyone who likes complex, customizable classes (and, of course, fans of incarnum!) to check this out.

Endzeitgeist out.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Mysteries: Vizier
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