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Kineticists of Porphyra III
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2016 06:43:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The third of the kineticist-supplements in the ...of Porphyra-line clocks in at 66 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of content, leaving us with 62 pages, though these are in the digest-like A5 (9'' by 6'')-format, but if the previous two books were any indications, this will be chock full with hard crunch...so let's not waste any time and dive right in!


In case you were wondering - this review is based on V.4 of the file.


After a brief discussion on kineticists and their interaction with the overall world, we are introduced to the selection of the archetypes herein - let's start with the racial one: The Elemental Brethren, for the suli-races (Still hurts me physically to write "Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, Undine" -the mythology nomenclature fail's so brutal...in this review, I'll refer to them just as "suli") must select the elemental focus associated with the element of the respective race, with non-suli at 1st level gaining the energy strike racial ability as being treated as the respective suli for the purpose of selecting the Extra Elemental Assault feat. Additionally, all of these brethren gain Incremental Elemental Assault as a bonus feat and may apply the elemental assault's benefits to the respective kinetic blasts as through these were weapons, but lose the 1st level utility wild talent. 3rd level allows for the expenditure of one round of elemental assault to reduce the burn cost of an infusion of up to third level by 1, with 8th level allowing for the expenditure of 2 rounds to reduce the burn cost of an infusion of up to 6th level by 1 and 12th level unlocking the option to expend up to 3 round to reduce burn of an infusion of up to 9th level by 1.


6th level similarly allows the kineticist to expend 4 rounds of elemental assault to fill 1 point of the internal buffer as a full-round action. 7th level provides and infusion on the list of those available at -1 level and gain both an infusion and utility wild talent instead of expanded element. 9th level lets the elemental brethren expend three rounds of elemental blast to increase the damage die size by 1 step for 1 round, replacing the infusion gained there. 10th level provides expanded element, but limits the choice available to the 4 primary elements, but they only treat their level as 2 lower rather than 4 for purposes of wild talent selection. If the ability is applied to an element already known, the archetype instead modifies a known infusion to work at -1 level as well as gaining an infusion and wild talent. At 15th level, the archetype reduces the number of rounds required to use elemental fuel, augmented internal buffer and blast burst by 1 round, to a minimum of 0, effectively de-limiting this resource - okay at this level. They also get an infusion or utility wild talent, but trade all of that for the expanded element gained. At 20th level, the archetype can expend 4 round of elemental assault to use any kinetic blast wild talent they don't know for 1 round. Alternatively, the archetype may wild card a wild talent for 24 hours and replace it with another of the same category - though the elemental restriction to fire, air, earth and water still persists. While I am still no fan of the races and themes, this is still a good example for a racial archetype done right, one that utilizes the unique capabilities and themes of the respective suli.


The second archetype contained herein would be the Corpse Puppeteer, who needs to choose viscera or void as elemental focus. At 1st level, the corpse puppeteer can create the eponymous corpse puppets from the bodies of deceased Small or Medium humanoids or animals (base stats provided): Void puppeteers get skeletons, while viscera specialists treat the creature as a construct. The construct is treated as an animal companion with kineticist levels standing in as full druid levels and may learn feats, in spite of being mindless, though the puppets are restricted to the companion's list. Corpses are dumb and can only attack, defend, stay and flee and they can only be healed via kinetic healing options. Commanding the puppet is a swift action and the connection may be severed as a full-round action. Establishing a new connection with a corpse costs 1/2 character level burn, min 1 - but for each additional corpse provided, said burn can be reduced by 1. 10th and 15th level unlock Large and Huge puppets, respectively, with options to accept burn to grow the puppets in a small quasi-ritual as well as the choice to instead commandeer multiple smaller puppets. This does consume the 7th level expanded element as well as the infusions granted at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level.


Corpse puppets may share spell-like utility wild talents that require a standard action to use, but this eliminates the standard action from the corpse puppeteer's next round and burn may not be accepted when doing so. This replaces the companion link and usual share spells abilities of companions. Starting at 4th level, fleshcrafting is unlocked, allowing the puppeteer to add the unnatural evolution permanently to a corpse, though only one such modification can be in effect at any given time, +1 at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 10th level unlocks the use of improved unnatural evolution instead. Corpses may also take Extra Evolution, using HD as level. This replaces the 4th level utility wild talent. 6th level keeps the corpses from decaying as though gentle repose'd and 10th level nets expanded element instead of a utility wild talent. As a capstone, the puppets gain a massive nasty boost to their capabilities. All in all, a delightfully creepy kineticist pet class.


The Dread Soul must be evil and has a corresponding aura and, if they die, returning them to life is hard, since they are on the express train to becoming evil outsiders in the lower planes. The blasts of dread souls are treated as though modified by the aligned infusion, not counting towards the substance infusion limit - but obviously, the ability's limited to evil and it replaces the first level infusion. 2nd level nets the Flesh of the Fallen unique elemental defense, which nets you scaling natural AC as well as resistance depending on the evil outsider (devil, demon, daemon) chosen; as always, burn can be accepted to increase these values up to a scaling limit (max +7) until you restore your burn. When you accept burn for a wild talent, your scales deal reflexive piercing damage equal to your elemental resistance to creatures assaulting you with non-reach melee weapons or natural attacks for 1 round.


Now 5th level becomes NASTY: As part of using any wild talent for which the dread soul must accept burn, excluding defense wild talents, they can target a living intelligent creature (Int 3+ - kittens and rats need not apply) to make a Will save or take one burn for the dread soul. Good creatures take a penalty to these saves and this delegated burn increases to 2 at 11th level, 3 at 17th level. If the creature manages the save, the dread soul is staggered until the end of his next round, but delegated burn does count, thankfully against the daily and per-round burn limits, avoiding abuse via fanatically loyal cohorts etc. - basically, the negative effects of burn are mitigated, but the resource as such is not tampered with. This may require a bit of book-keeping, but I wholeheartedly applaud the design decision and precision here. At 9th level, Con-mod times (Con mod times 2 at 20th level) per day, targets must succeed two saves against this to mitigate it, which does take a bit off the edge of the stagger on failure, but retains the gambit-y nature.


This ability eliminates infusion specialization 1, 3 and 5. At 6th,11th and 16th level, the archetype increases the amount of total burn he can accept a day instead of gaining internal buffer. 7th level expands the Flesh of the Fallen elemental defense to apply to a second element at slightly decreased potency and add a bonus to Intimidate checks equal to the natural AC-bonus to the benefits. Additionally, the archetype gets the soul burning substance infusion allows you to add, at 2 burn cost, +1 burn to your infusion, burn that is very hard, in particularly for good characters, to remove. At 10th level, expanded element is gained instead of the utility wild talent.15th level provides one of two infusions, one of which is gained instantaneously: Number 1 is an improved version of soulburning that deals lethal burn and requires greater restoration to remove. As a nitpick, the pdf failed to italicize the spell-name here. Number 2 would be an universal form infusion...and pretty much absolutely awesome: A foe reduced to 0 hit points is turned into a soulstone that flies to your hand, with the soulstone acting as an unwilling target for your burn-delegation - and best yet, the ability, while powerful, can't be cheesed. no kitten-failure, no follower-exploit...just all around awesomeness. And no, you can't stockpile them. Maximum 1. Finally, the second capstone ability lets you treat the delegated burn as not counting against your own burn maximum for a fitting, brutal capstone delimiter. All in all, cool evil kineticist archetype with some awesome visuals. Soul stones are just...shudder Also: Impressive from a design perspective regarding the lack of possible abuse scenarios - I tried hard to break this one and couldn't do it. Kudos!!


I've spared the most interesting for last - the Dimensional Ripper, who must select aether, time or void as focus (and this restriction is maintained for expanded element at 15th level). Instead of the 2nd level's utility wild talent, the class gets dimensional tear: As a standard action, these guys can accept 1 burn to create two tears in the dimensional veil. (Alternatively: Full-round action and no burn.) These must be within empty spaces within 50 ft (+10 ft. per level beyond 2nd) and require line of sight. Tears cannot be opened in hazardous terrain, are 5 ft. tall and wide and must be placed vertically on solid ground. They block line of sight and can be identified as via Knowledge (planes) and they cannot be opened where extradimensional travel is blocked. Tears closing on creatures deal 1d6 points of damage and shunt them to the nearest unoccupied free space. They automatically close upon a dimension ripper moving further than 100 ft. +10 ft. per level beyond their location. A given creature of size Large or smaller may enter a tear and exit at any given other tear to which it has line of sight and infinite loop-scenarios via tears end after the third iteration - so no eternal falling exploit. Attacks and spells shunted through a dimensional tear by any other character than the dimensional ripper emerge from a randomly determined dimensional tear (or re-emerge from the single tear, if only one's here). Kinetic blasts may be fired freely through dimensional tears by the dimensional ripper, though the maximum range may not exceed that of the kinetic blast. Melee attacks (such as via kinetic whip) can only travel through 1 tear and blasts modified with form infusions require the ripper to be within 5 ft. of the blast, treating the tear from which it emerges as the origin. Kinetic blasts with the ranged infusion increase the range of the blast by 10 ft. per tear they travel through, up to a maximum of 10 ft. per 3 class levels. The ripper can maintain a number of tears equal to twice the amount they can create with a single use at a given time - at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, they may place tears in the air (but only at 1/2 maximum range height), while also creating +1 tear (+1 tear per ability use every 4 levels thereafter). Additionally, tears created as a standard action no longer cost burn, and they can be created as a move action for accepting one burn. At 10th level, move actions no longer cost burn and the tears can be opened as a swift action (though the ability fails to specify that it costs burn to do so, that is apparent from the context) and standard action-created tears no longer require burn to increase their duration.


At 8th level, burn can be accepted to make the dimensional tears last longer and treat travel through rifts as if affected by the light speed travel wild talent. The dimensional ripper may also apply hyper-dimension blast for 1 burn to their blasts, as long as the blast travels through at least one rift. 9th level is interesting - for +1 burn cost, the dimensional ripper can increase +atk and damage by +1 per tear traveled through by the blast, with a cap of 1 per 3 class levels. Additionally, charges made through them with melee-centric tricks like kinetic fist get upgraded to pounce and increase the movement rate for each tear passed by 10 ft., with the same cap determined by level. 11th level becomes crazy cool -as a move action, they can move any number of tears up to 30 ft. - and they can, as an immediate action, be moved into the charge of an enemy, forcing them to save or be at your mercy regarding their egress point.


17th level is the "watch me obliterate you"-move: Shoot a blast into a tear...watch it emerge from ALL your tears (except the first one used), at half strength - sure, 3 burn...but this is so gratifying. At 20th levels, two rifts can be collided, causing them to collapse in disintegrating, devastating blasts...oh, and yes, the more used, the deadlier. This is basically the equivalent of all those Japano-RPG final boss total annihilation moves. You need set-up...yes. But you can kill basically anything with it. And at 20th level...I'm surprisingly okay with that. Why? Because the dimensional ripper is FRIGGIN AWESOME. As in: Even if the rest of this book was utter garbage (which it isn't!), this alone would warrant the asking price. It's the efficient, cool, yet restricted portalist that has enough options at each level; that can snipe through portals; that makes for a ridiculously brilliant antagonist and for a radically different playing experience. This guy is platinum.


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..


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You're still here, aren't you? All right, all right. So, guess what - no new elements this time around. Instead, we get an example that N. Jolly can write nice fluff as well - 5 elemental saturations, basically, for those not in the know, leyline-like nexuses of power for kineticists, are provided - with the shadeless citadel for light, the genus loci (the land made flesh) and similarly iconic places awaiting your kineticists to tap into their power - and while intended for use with porphyra, these places can be inserted into other campaign settings without hassle. The cool thing here: By e.g surviving the genus loci trying to eat you, you gain a means to convert 1 point of lethal damage into non-lethal damage. Bracing the chamber of compressed time can provide you a move and a standard action in a surprise round - these are powerful, yes - but they also are story-benefits and as such completely in the hands of the GM.


The composite blast-section begins with a clarification: Composite blasts treated as though affected by an infusion don't count the added effect towards the limits of substance of form infusions. The blasts themselves are, much like in KOP II, pretty versatile and feature interesting images: Blasts of gore, hellfire (fire + negative, +1 damage die step and burning infusion), rare-metal meteorites and there would also be complex mods like shatterstorm blast: While you reduce damage die size (erroneously called "hit die" here) by one step, you add +2 damage per HD and treat it as though the kinetic bomb infusion had been applied to it. Adding silverlight to positive energy blasts and reducing foes below 0 hp to ash...there are some ways with which one can be an utter, total prick here. Like it!


Of course, we once again get new infusion wild talents, with reprints from KOP I and II denoted as such, but contained for your convenience. At level 3, I consider ignoring 20 hardness and being treated as adamantine for 2 burn to be too early. The effects are generally valued as stronger than alignment DR and hardness is pretty much the best defense there is...so yeah, that one needs a whack with the nerf bat in my book. On the plus-side: Demoralizing via blasts? Cool idea, as it emphasis a bit more good ole' skill use. Upgrade-follow-ups for the burning infusion, frying creatures in water, level 5 burn 4 dismissal...pretty neat. Follow-up shot is basically a Rapid Shot/Flurry-style form infusion, but I consider the Pyroclastic infusion to be more interesting: Creatures currently on fire can become your own little kinetic fire bombs. And then, there is Vital Blade. It works like kinetic blade, but can be used with Vital Strike, Improved Vial Strike and even when used as part of a charge. Sorry, but no. This is friggin' OP. I know that plenty of people disagree with me on this one, usually people who like playing the theory-numbers game. I know quite a lot of gaming groups treat melee as a static of trading blows with minor movement here and there. My experience is, that fluid and dynamic combats that do not boil down to trading full attacks all the time, make for more exciting combats. If your enemy refuses to do the out-rambo-ing game with you, Vital Strike becomes extremely powerful; particularly so when combined with the damage-escalation tricks of the kineticist. For me, personally, this is broken. It may not be broken in your game - if movement in your game is worth less than in mine, which seems to be the case in some tables, then this won't cause too much of a hassle. That being said, as a whole, this is a nice expansion indeed!


We proceed according to plan in a similar fashion with utility wild talents - the pdf offers quite an array of different new ones, with reprints properly codified. Adaptive skin builds on reflective skin, allowing you to change resistance after the triggering attack, while aerial supremacy allows for up to two 90° turns in an aerial charge. Aquatic kineticists will enjoy taking bubbles of the sea with them, allowing them to use their swim speed on land (Cerulean Seas fans - get this!!). Okay, here, I'll just be a sour grape: Level 3 utility wild talent. Nets you dimensional tear. Only the basic one, sure...but please. It can also be upgraded via two follow-ups. Not close to the ripper, but still. The ability is ridiculously good. In my game, it will remain archetype exclusive - imho, easy access to them is too powerful. Elemental duplicates of the good ole' hand-spells-formerly-known-as-Bigby-spells on the other hand, are cool. Also: paper control is MUCH cooler than basic phytokinesis 8did we ever actually get useful rules for that one?) and can be taken in its place...this is a good thing, for basic phytokinesis kinda never did make it into Occult Origins, at least not into my copy. So kudos for this required upgrade! Now, the book also has some absolute winners for the thinking and planning crowd - Photographic Transference. You can see through your illusions. As in: "You literally see through them, becoming blind while the effect lasts and instead watch the world from the illusions you created. Yes, this can be pretty darn awesome. You can also deal fire damage to yourself (or allies) to end bleed effects or make your kinetic cover come apart as difficult terrain when it's broken. Quicksand sinkhole? Check. Modifying wind intensity (your sniper/artillery guy will thank you for it!) with appropriate levels for wind strength? Check. Oh, and you can play disco boy. No, seriously: Strobe Lights that fascinate targets. Drawing foes into dimensional tears or pulling out your own intestines and whipping foes with them? Yup. And yes, the latter has upgrades and feat-synergy. THANK YOU.


Beyond these, the book has EVEN MORE: Combo Wild Talents. Bone spikes wild talents, infused with biological toxins, for example. Oh yes. These made me very happy...and there is a lot of potential for more of them in the future. The pdf also introduces elemental mutations - basically, in Porphyra, the NewGod war etc. have tainted the elements. Kineticists may only have one such mutated element. Brutal is basically more powerful, but always takes lethal damage for Burn and burn altering effects. Conservative reduces damage, but also burn. Dense means that they treat non-physical blasts as physical...but need to attack regular AC. Intelligent mutation nets +2 class skills and skills per level, but requires a move action for gather energy and supercharge. These may btw. also help, scavenging-wise, campaigns that consider the kineticist's damage output to be too high. Combine detriments and there you go. That just as an aside.


The pdf also features new feats - basic kinetic training nets you one utility wild talent, while Composite Blast technique allows you to gain a composite blast for which you'd require an expanded element. Another feat nets you +2 Burn a day, +1 dimensional tear per use of the ability. There is also a feat that deserves special mention: Overwhelming Defense treats you as though you have accepted 1 burn for the purpose of elemental defense, +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. This is basically a power-upgrade for the Overwhelming Soul...and a good one.


The pdf also sports a couple of items - there would be the Elemental Heart artifact (Hint: Kineticists will want it!) Blaster's bearing is brutal - it's a sling bullet into which you can infuse kinetic blasts with substance infusions of up to 3rd level - and they make sense to me, with their warfare application and volatile nature keeping them from breaking in-game logic. Now burn fragments will not get into my game. these are one-use burn-reducers. Only by one, sure and the three variants and their caps are well-priced...but still. Not a fan. There would also be a robe that grants temporary hit points upon accepting burn.


The pdf concludes with Jade Strider, a CR 10 dimensional ripper sample character.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a few glitches in the formal and rules-language department, though usually, they don't impede the functionality of the content. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly 1-column color-standard of Purple Duck Games, with A5 (9'' x 6'')-size. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks as well as gorgeous, original full-color artworks.


This is the third of the books by N. Jolly and team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) and it is...grml...hrmpf...you know, I really want to complain about some of the options herein. I consider a couple of components to be too good. And, at high levels, a capable power-gamer can insta-kill pretty much everything by using this and KOP I + II...but that's, for the most part, a system-inherent issue. Until 17th level, even with all the options in the combined KOP-books, the kineticists expanded played like strong choices and worked surprisingly well. This series, as a whole, is something, though, which much like psionics or similar systems, requires the GM to really grasp how the kineticists work - with the significant fine-tuning options the KOP-series offers, that holds true even more. This book, perhaps a bit more so, should be carefully read by the GM, since not all components will be fitting for all campaigns.


That out of the way, in spite of me disliking/banning more components in this book for use in my nonplaytest-home game than in the first and second book, this is still my favorite installment in the series. The archetypes are friggin' inspired and the dimensional ripper alone is worth the price ten times. (Granted, I wouldn't allow for other kineticists to get tears...but you may. Just rest assured that the foes will weep...) Anyhow, the new locales, the pieces of content that I liked, shone like stars to me this time around. The fact that the dread soul can't be cheesed, the sheer complexity of the ripper that one ups the already significant complexity of the kineticist...this book is pretty much master-class level regarding in the difficulty of its designs...and it manages to make them work. That in itself is a damn feat and the level of creativity and coolness this one oozes is exceedingly pronounced. To sum up: Best archetypes in the series, best archetypes I've tested for the kineticist so far. Must own book. Even if you loathe the base kineticist with all your heart, get KOP I, II and III and see if the new elements, archetypes like the ripper or dread soul and elements like viscera don't change your mind.


In short: Considering the more than fair price-point, the complexity of crunch offered, the quality of the complex crunch offered and the absolutely impressive execution of these components, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the few hiccups herein.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra III
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Bevy of Blades (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/22/2016 06:40:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After a page of introduction to the subject matter, we are introduced to the first of the base classes in this book, the aether blade, who gets d10 HD, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, aether blade, light armor and bucklers. The class has good Fort- and Will-saves and full BAB-progression. At 1st level, the class gets its defining aether weapon and chooses the shape, which is retained forever after - either light (1d6 base damage), one-handed (1d8 base damage) or two-handed (2d6 base damage) - the blade can be formed as a move action. Aether blades may choose damage type (piercing, slashing, bludgeoning) when they call forth the blade. There is something odd in the rules-language for changing damage-types: "The aether blade can change the damage type of an existing blade, or may summon a new blade with a different damage type, as a full-round action."


The problem here is twofold: One, the ability fails to its own nomenclature: aether blade = class; aether weapon = class feature. The text should refer to the weapon. Secondly, after relinquishing the grip or throwing the blade, it dissipates. Letting go of an item is...bingo, free action. So, drop weapon, call new one = move action. Why would I EVER spend a full-round action? It would make sense if the choice of damage type upon calling wasn't free every time around, but this way, action economy makes no sense. The aether weapon can be sustained within antimagic fields by succeeding Will-saves, which is a nice catch. 1st level also nets Arcane Strike, which treats aether blade levels as caster levels. The aether blade also receives Cha-mod to AC and applies said bonus to neither touch, not flat-footed AC. The aether blade loses the bonus when wearing armor heavier than light, medium or heavier load and when cowering/helpless, etc. At 6th level, the bonus does apply to touch AC, with 14th level applying it to CMD and flat-footed AC as well..


Starting at 2nd level, the aether blade gets the aetheric aura class feature, which allows the aether blade to use a standard action to disperse parts of her blade in a 20 ft- radius, granting a +1 morale bonus to all allies within the area, depending on the aura used. The bonus increases by +1 at 7th level, 13th level and 18th level. Auras can be maintained for 4 + Cha-mod rounds per day, +2 round per additional class level. One aura can be maintained at 2nd level, with 11th and 19th level allowing for +1 aura in effect at any given time. 6th level modifies the action economy to activate down to a move action, 11th down to a swift action. New auras are gained every 4 levels after the 2nd. The auras allow for the application of the bonus to initiative, concentration, melee damage rolls, CMD, Cl-checks, 5 times bonus energy resistance to an element chosen upon activation, saves vs fear effects, atk or CMB. As you can glean, the bonuses range from very universal to very specific - bonus versus fear don't seem to be on par with the others, for example.


The aether blade also uses Cha instead of Int-mod for Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft - oddly, this one is gained at 2nd level, which is rather odd, considering that it can mean, theoretically, that the class has higher capability in the skills at 1st level than 2nd - usually, such abilities make more sense at 1st level. Additionally, the ability does not specify the level it's gained at - you have to consult the table. Cosmetic, yes, but still a tad bit annoying. 3rd level unlocks aura vision - class level rounds of detect magic that immediately provide full 3-round infos. I'm not a fan of this one, but, beyond personal preference, it is SU (when it should probably be SP) and lacks the activation action. 3rd level also nets eldritch symbiosis, which can be likened to a kind of linear order or bloodline-ish ability, three of which are provided: Wand, staff and rod. New abilities are unlocked at 3rd (apprentice), 9th (journeyman) and 17th level (master). In order to activate the abilities granted by this class feature, the aether blade has to be formed around the respective item. The respective item can then be used by the aether blade as though she was a wizard equal to her class level. However, while this symbiosis is in effect, the aether weapon cannot be used as such - it has basically been transformed in the respective item. Each of the paths provide a bonus feat at apprentice level and more complex abilities at higher levels, with journeyman generally providing passive abilities. The master abilities diverge wildly - from expending charges to temporarily enhance aether weapon damage output, adding defending to Cha-mod short-range teleports, the abilities are diverse, though the latter fails to specify CL or whether it's SP or not...which it probably should be.


4th level provides the option to absorb and freely distribute bonuses of magic items, which is pretty OP - even similar godblade classes like the soulknife or ethermagus directly specify the enhancements available. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide exactly one spell of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th level respectively that can be cast 1/day, with each step of the ability increasing the daily uses of the previously chosen SPs by +1/day, with Cha acting as governing attribute, just fyi. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter net +1 to saves versus SPs and arcane spells and, as a capstone, the aether blade gets SR equal to 20 + Cha-mod, with the option to spell turn spells that fail to penetrate the SR as an immediate action. Additionally, the class can now cast an SP as a free action after confirming a crit.


The archetype provided for the class, the aether knight, is proficient with medium and heavy armor and shields, replacing aetheric armor and its follow-ups....and the regular list of proficiencies. Which is problematic, as RAW, it eliminates light armor and all weapon proficiencies of the class. Instead of an aether weapon, they can call forth an aetheric shield, with eldritch symbiosis being replaced with an appropriate, defensive version that applies to magical armor. Once again, a SP is not properly declared as such, but that's mostly a nitpick. Instead of spells, these guys can grant themselves scaling bonuses to physical attributes or natural AC.


The second class would be the Shadow Blade, who gets d10, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armors as well as full BAB-progression and good Fort- and Ref-saves. They begin play with Improved Feint and unexpected strike, which is basically sneak attack that only applies when a foe is denied his Dex-mod, not when flanking, with die-increases only at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Starting at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the class may decrease armor check penalties by increasing amounts. 2nd level also provides Steel Shadows, a shield bonus to AC that increases over the levels - but the ability does not mention the scaling here; you have to take a look at the table, which is slightly inconvenient. This may also be due to the irregular scaling of the bonus: The bonus increases to +2 at 7th level, +3 at 11th level and then to +4 at 17th level.


3rd levels beshadowed blade nets +1/2 class level to feint, but only for one weapon...and the ability lacks an activation action. The same level also nets darkvision, which increases in range and may later penetrate magical darkness...and the ability has no interaction-clause for races that already have it. 4th level can be unintentionally OP: The intent for the ability is to eliminate movement rate reductions caused by armor, which is okay. The ability says, though: "While wearing shrouded armor, the shadow blade does not suffer from a reduction in speed." This can be read as eliminating reductions of the movement rate due to encumbrance, caltrops, difficult terrain, etc. due to not directly referring to the armor. While its twin ability makes the intent clear, this still needs polishing. Twin ability? Yup, twilight tread allows for a limited number of rounds of difficult terrain traversal per day, thankfully sans abuse options re damaging terrain. 5th level provides an SU dimension door-like low-range standard action-based (move at 10th, swift at 15th level) shadow jump that does not specify that it's a conjuration [teleportation]-effect or a caster level for purpose of block-interactions.


At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the shadow blade may choose a dark revelation, which basically constitute the unique maneuvers/tricks of the class. And generally, I like them...using shadow jumping distance as resources to flank with oneself (though the nerfed pseudo-sneak takes away some appeal here) is nice - though the very conservative distances available do mean that you won't pull off this trick often anyways. On the plus-side, SPs are properly designated here. At 8th level and every 4 thereafter, the shadow blade also gets a shrouded secret, which basically would be the defensive/stealth-themed tricks. The capstone allows the class to choose one of three effects - form large-area darkness through which allies can see, DR 10, low-light vision (srsly, at 20th level?) and immunity to cold or heavy fortification in the shrouded armor.


The umbral prowler archetype would be basically a rogue/shadow blade blend, with trapfinding, increasing movement rate, scaling dodge-bonus to AC as well as access to thievery-enhancing dark revelations and 6+Int skills.


The third class, the verdant blade gets d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves as well as Wisdom-based spellcasting up to 4th spell level, drawn from the druid spell-list, with the usual -3 level caveat, since spellcasting is learned at 4th level. Oddly, the class must be non-evil. The class gains a woad weapon of his choice, with composite bows adjusting to the Strength score of the character...which is problematic at low levels, considering how expensive these can get. The weapon usually is a kinda-symbiotic seed and can be drawn as though it was a normal weapon. At 5th level, Str-scores of composite bow forms can be upgraded and the verdant blade is considered to have Craft Magic Arms and Armor for purposes of woad weapon enhancement. Unfortunately, this provides no means to offset spell-requirements for crafting. The weapon naturally regenerates hit points. The verdant blade can implant seeds in foes; the effects last for 3 + Wis-mod rounds, can be used 1/2 class level + Wis-mod times per day and has a scaling save, with the precise save-type being determined by the seed discovery chosen. Continuous damage, entangling foes and debuffs can be found here, with the first such seed being available from level 1 onward and subsequently, gaining +1 such seed discovery every 4 levels thereafter. They vary greatly in power with low-level summon swarm being pretty OP in comparison to -2 to Will saves. +1/2 class level to Knowledge (nature) and Survival is also part of the starting ability array. AT 10th level, two seeds can be implanted at a given time and the maximum limit of seeds per target increases to 2.


At 2nd level, the class can scavenge together tools (nice!) a, with 4th level making wooden items like this tougher and treated as magic. He also gains woodland stride. 3rd level nets +1 natural armor; +1 every 4 levels thereafter as well as trackless step. 4th level provides the option to 3+ Wis-mod times create patches of caltrop-y terrain as a move action. 6th level provides a mantle that first grants concealment vs. ranged attacks, 12th extends this to melee and 18th grants fly speed 30 ft. + good maneuverability, all activated as a swift action and usable for class level + Wis-mod rounds. 8th level makes the blade count as cold iron and 14th level provides breath of life as a 1/day SP with damn cool visuals, as the verdant blade jump-starts fallen comrades by plunging his sword in their breast. 16th level allows for making treant allies and 50% provides basically a 50% fortification apotheosis complete with only 1 hour of sleep required and the option to gain sustenance from air and sun, etc.


The class can pursue the verdant florist archetype, who may grow and apply aromatic flowers on the woad weapon as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity to adjacent, willing allies. These provide morale bonuses to skill or ability checks or saves, with the bonus increasing by +1 at 9th and 17th level and the effect remaining for class level rounds. A total of 16 blossoms are provided. Starting at 5th level, two flowers can be combined into one bouquet and at 13th level, 3 effects can be chosen at once, though each blossom still consumes a use of the ability, with a total of 1/2 class level + Wis-mod daily uses. A flower is chosen instead of seeds and generally, this is the buff equivalent of the debuff-heavy class. On a nitpicky side, the mention of the flower sticking to the character as a kind of corsage implies it occupying a slot, which I assume it does not.


The final class herein would be the Vital Blade, who gains d10 HD, 2+ Int skills per level, is proficient with simple and martial weapons as well as all armors and shields except tower shields as well as full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves. Vital blades have a sangineous sword and begin play with Weapon Focus for it. This sword can, as a move action (swift at 8th, 16th level as a free action), be formed from a wound-like rune. Oddly, the ability can form any melee weapon the character is proficient with, making the name of the ability somewhat unfortunate. The vital blade begins play with a blood pool of 1 + Con mod points and is considered to have the Diehard feat while the pool sports at least 1 point. The pool refreshes via critical hits and killing blows - and BOTH have an anti-kitten-abuse caveat! NICE! 2nd level nets Endurance as a bonus feat as well as weeping weapon - as a swift action before making an attack, the vital blade can add scaling acid damage 3+ Con-mod times per day to his blade, with damage beginning at +1d4 and increasing by +1d4 every 4 levels thereafter.


3rd level decreases any bleed damage incurred by 1/2 class level. as well as granting the first blood talent, which is btw. the ability that will generally be used to consume those blood points. Additional blood talents are gained every 2 levels thereafter. Tracking by scent after tasting a foe's blood, gaining Con-mod to initiative, firing shrapnel of blood (consuming weeping wounds instead of blood points) - the ideas are solid. Problematic, considering the clusterf*** that weapon-size-rules are: Increasing the size of the vital blade...can the vital blade still wield the weapon as its original size or as the modified size? Passive abilities like natural armor and DR can also be chosen and AoO-less SP grease via blood as well as weeping wound enhancers are included in the deal. Creatures slain temporarily increase the enhancement bonus of the vital blade, with the daily maximum being determined by the class levels of the vital blade.


At higher levels, the sanguineous sword is treated as magic and can be used to attack as a touch attack a limited amount of times per day. The class has two capstones, one of which allows for self-healing and Con-damage inflicting, with the other providing immunities and a slowly replenishing blood pool. The archetype for the class is the crimson inheritor, who loses heavy armor proficiency and gains a sorceror (not bloodrager?) bloodline to replace his blood talents with - though only the arcanas are gained. Bonus feats from the bloodline can be taken instead of blood talents. At 6th level, 1/2 crimson inheritor level is treated as sorceror level for purpose of bloodline spell availability, with the spells costing their spell level in blood points to cast. As a capstone, the archetype provides the final bloodline power.


The pdf provides favored class options for the classes, but only for the core races. Finally, the pdf provides 5 new feats: One for +1 morale bonus for verdant florist flowers, +1 blood talents. The others are problematic: Applying lesser metamagic rods to SPs...ouch. That's just begging to be combo'd some way. Arcane Celerity and Bulwark are very strong: Both can be activated as a swift action. The first nets you 1/2 caster level + casting ability modifier temporary hit points, providing a constant shield. The second nets you 1/2 class level as bonus to you base land speed, and a bonus to AC vs AoOs equal to your highest mental attribute modifier. Both effects only last one round, sure, but the lack of cap makes them pretty strong. That being said, my main gripe with them is that both only require you to be able to cast arcane spells - that's it. As 1st level-available feats, they are underpriced.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good - it noticed no formal glitches and the rules-languages was also, with some minor hiccups, very consistent and adhered to the standards. Well done! Layout adheres to a two-column full-color used-parchment-style look that is solid, though personally, I think the respective class names would have made good headers - as provided, these are jammed in the upper left corner. Speaking of which: This is a very dense pdf with a LOT of crunch within its pages. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artist-wise, the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though ardent readers of 3pp material will be familiar with the pieces used.


Brian Moran's Bevy of Blades is an interesting pdf in that it shows a capacity to handle pretty complex concepts. While there are a couple of freshman hiccups in the book, the classes themselves should not unhinge any game they're introduced into, so balance-wise, at least as a whole, I have no complaints apart from the two feats. Internally, the options of the classes diverge in power rather significantly, with clearly superior options and less optimal choices. Some internal streamlining may have helped here. The book, when it does have issues, mostly has them in the tiniest of rules-minutiae or on a meta-design level. Take the vital blade, which, with the verdant blade, would be my favorite herein: It gets this cool, somewhat grit-like blood pool...and must wait until 3rd level to actually do ANYTHING with it. That's not a particularly fulfilling two levels there. Player agenda, in short, could be slightly more pronounced in all of the classes. Internal nomenclature of the classes could also have been a bit tighter.


As for my personal assessment: The aether blade didn't particularly excite me with its pseudo-casting - you can have that concept in several, more compelling ways. The shadow blade...just isn't on par with superior takes on the concepts - of which there are many. The verdant blade and vital blade generally have cool engines set up in their class progression and as such, I enjoyed both - however, I really wished the classes did a bit more with their unique set-ups, focused a bit more on these aspects. In the end, whether you will like this book very much depends on how much 3pp-material you have and how much money you're willing to invest. Compared to e.g. the soulknife or the ethermagus, the aether blade just feels bland in options and playstyle. Similarly, there are more compelling shadow-themed classes. At the same time, you will be very hard-pressed to get said classes for the low asking price of this pdf and both verdant and vital blade, while not perfect, do have some pretty cool options. I look forward to seeing the designer tackle more complex and variable concepts. In the end, I consider this a solid buy for its low and fair asking price. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Bevy of Blades (PFRPG)
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Alchemist (5E)
Publisher: Tribality Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 09:34:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition


This class for D&D 5e clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This review is based on V.1 of the file.


The alchemist class comes with a sufficient array of introductory fluff, quick build rules and then proceeds to provide the respective crunch: The previously missing plusses have been added to the proficiency bonus and the notation of the HD, 1d8, now also 100% conforms to D&D 5e standards. Proficiency-wise, alchemists gain simple weapons, blowgun, hand crossbow and net as well as Aachemist supplies plus herbalism or poisoner kits. Saving throw proficiencies, fittingly, would be Con and Int and skill-wise, two from Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, perception and Religion are available. The starting equipment choices are sufficiently varied and allow for a nice array of customization and properly adhere to the standards established.


Alchemist spellcasting works a bit differently - while they gain cantrips, they refer to their spells as mixtures. While alchemists do gain 7th, 8th and 9th-level mixture slots, these only can be used to trigger or empower formulae from 1st to 6th level or utilize class features. Alchemist casting is a bit different: You expend a slot and then get the mixture's effects...but you may delay the onset/use of the mixture to a later date, with proficiency bonus denoting the cap of mixtures you can have ready to trigger at any given time. Here's the kick, though: Creatures with an Int of 4 or higher can spend their Action to trigger the mixture - you don't have to do so yourself! Attacks made by other characters with your mixture use their Intelligence modifier, but your proficiency bonus - this previously slightly wonky sentence is now streamlined and can't be misinterpreted anymore. Kudos!


You can prepare formula to turn into mixtures on a given day equal to Int-mod +alchemist level, minimum 1. Preparing a different formula does not require a short rest, only 1 minute of preparation per formula level. You need to succeed the concentration checks, if any, for your mixtures, even if someone else triggers them...unless you have reached 9th level and 15th level, at which point you may delegate the concentration of one or two mixtures simultaneously to other characters. The governing attribute for mixtures is Intelligence.


Some formulae can be prepared as rituals, provided they have the correct tag and alchemist formulae have Somatic and Material components, but no verbal components. At 1st level, you begin play with 6 1st level formulae, with each level providing +2 formulae of your choice. Formulae may be copied from spellbooks, scrolls, etc. and alchemists may attune magic items usually restricted to the sorceror and wizard classes as well as other, general spellcaster-exclusive items. 2nd level nets you more item preparation efficiency for alchemical items (proficiency modifier per day of downtime with your kit), excluding poisons or herbalism-based items. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter (minus 20th, plus 19th) net you ability score increases. The capstone lets up to 3 creatures maintain concentration in your place.


The defining feature of the class, though, would certainly the alchemical tradition chosen at 3rd level, which truly defines the class - basically, these are the domains, the archetypes of the class. Each tradition sports bonus formulae, which are added to the formula-list of the alchemist in question, with the first such tradition being the artificer. At 3rd level, they get proficiency in three toolkits and at 6th level, the jack-of-all-traditions ability - which lets you add 3 formulae from other traditions, though these do not count as bonus formulae. 10th level lets you ignore class, race and alignment restrictions for item-attunement.


Additionally, you may choose to not regain mixture slots upon completion of a long rest, instead maintaining the functionality of those you already have created. 14th level becomes interesting: When you use a 7th level slot to prepare a mixture of 4th level or lower, it may be triggered twice before being expended. Long rests eliminate, as usual, both uses and rest the process. If the duration exceeds instantaneous, it can only be used a second time after the first use has elapsed. As soon as you have access to 8th level slots, you may do the same for this slot and mixtures of 5th level or lower.


At 18th level, 9th level and mixtures of 7th level or lower get a different upgrade - namely, duration: It increases to 10 days!!! If it is instantaneous, the mixture may be trigger your Intelligence modifier times per day. Effects that require concentration can be suspended as a bonus action and resumed as an action. Linked gates can be reopened by resuming concentration.


The second tradition would be the Herbwarden, who gains proficiency with Herbalism kits at 3rd level (which may be redundant if you haven't chosen poisoner kit at first level) and either Medicine or Nature, with Medicine being governed by Intelligence for you. Also at 3rd level, you may use field medicine to allow a target to expend HD as though he had completed a short rest, with higher levels increasing the number of HD a target can spend. Once a creature has thus been healed, it can't be healed again this way unless it has completed a short rest, providing a nice anti-abuse caveat. 6th level nets advantage on saves versus poison and versus effects generated by oozes, plants and plant creatures as well as increased item creation in downtime with herbalist kits, analogue to the previous archetype's crafting-enhancement.


10th level lets you double Int-mod when making Intelligence (Nature or Medicine) checks and when making healing mixtures. 14th level's ability has been revised and is rather cool: After a target has been healed or stripped of a negative condition or disease by you, it can choose, upon failing the next saving throw or ability check, to reroll one failed ability check or saving throw. 18th level nets the herbwarden the option to expend a 9th level slot to animate plants as a shambling mound that can be commanded via telepathy.


The third tradition would be the Irezumi, most of whose mixtures are intricate tattoos. As such, they gain proficiency with tattooing supplies at 3rd level -a new kit that now comes with a base price and weight.. Also at 3rd level, the irezumi gains two cantrips from any spellcasting class. At 6th level, irezumi can create mystic tattoos in an 8-hour process. Once the tattoo is created, you can charge a number of mystic tattoos equal to your proficiency bonus. You can charge the tattoos of other irezumi, if you want to. Tattoos can be triggered by the target as an action much like mixtures and the benefits last one hour.


The benefits depend upon the region: Arms grant resistance to one damage type chosen upon being tattooed, which imho could have used a finer restriction, since physical damage types and e.g. force or radiant are situationally more powerful and useful than others. Head can net you Advantage on Insight or Perception or Darkvision; Legs can provide these benefits to Athletics/Acrobatics or net +10 ft. movement and the torso nets advantage on one saving throw. 10th level allows the irezumi to grant a subject up to 2 mystic tattoos and 14th level allows you to charge a bonus formula of 4th level or lower into a mystic tattoo, allowing the user to trigger that formula.


Here's the thing, though: The formula is permanent. It is not expended upon being triggered, but any use beyond the first in a long-rest-interval incurs one level of exhaustion. I am a bit weary of this one in the long run - for as long as D&D 5e maintains the very high value of exhaustion, this is okay. As soon as a game has means of mitigating exhaustion, this may become problematic. This is just me being meta, though - so far, exhaustion remains one of the most crucial conditions in 5e and thus, this is solid. 18th level lets you create a master tattoo, which works analogue to the aforementioned tattoo, only with up to 6th level qualifying and two levels of exhaustion incurred upon repeated use.


The metamorph is pretty much the Dr Jekyll/Mr. Hyde alchemist - at 3rd level, expenditure of a 2nd level slot lets these guys trigger a combined alter self/enhance ability/mage armor with a duration of Concentration, up to 1 hour - but for the duration, you gain disadvantage on a mental ability's associated rolls. 6th level lets you use Int instead of Con to determine hit points, retroactive to 1st level, and 6th level further enhances the mutagen's effects. At 10th level, stoneskin is added to the fray and at 14th, regeneration is added alongside better natural weapons, advantage on concentration checks and an enhanced duration. Finally, at 18th level, the benefits are further expanded. Cool one!


The next one would be the poisoner, whose bonus formulae are considered to be poison effects. At 3rd level, you gain 6 doses of basic poison and now, also proficiency with the poisoner's kit. You also get proficiency in Sleight of Hand, Stealth and may apply poisons as a bonus action (3 for ammunition). You create proficiency bonus doses of poison per day in downtime and the may be ingested, inhaled or injury and deal 2d6 poison damage on a failed save- now properly used damage-type-wise. Kudos! After a long rest, you may refine poisons not crafted by you to apply benefits to them as though they were made by you - which now, in a didactically cleaner manner, directly points towards the respective abilities.


Well, yeah - at 6th level, you increase their save DC to your mixture save DC and when you harvest poison, you instead get proficiency modifier doses from a given creature. At 10th level, targets also acquire the poisoned condition when succumbing to your poisons and your poison creation quickens, now also for non-basic poisons. At 14th level, you may expend mixture slots to weaken targets versus poisons and diseases or even bypass poison immunity/resistance. At 18th level allows you to expend slots to make mixtures particularly lethal and poisons generated thus nigh impossible to negate.


The penultimate tradition would be the pyromancer, who can manipulate the damage-type of evocation-cantrips and spells by changing it to one of the classic energies or physical types. 6th level provides resistance to one of the classic energy damage types, though you can change the type after a short rest. 10th level adds Int-mod to the damage of evocation mixtures and 14th level provides an array of benefits that allow you to double the radius, range or make the AoE into cones or single squares by using a 7th level slot for a 5th level or lower evocation. The 18th level ability fails to specify the level it is gained, but imposes disadvantage on saves versus 7th level or lower evocations prepared via a 9th level slot.


The final tradition would the nod to ole' Herby West, the re-animator, who gets find familiar at 3rd level and may choose a crawling claw or homunculus . Any familiar is undead, though it gains advantage on saves versus effects specifically targeting the undead. Also at this level, you double your Int-mod for Medicine-checks and gain sneak attack progression of up to +5d6 at 18th level. At 6th level, undead you create also have the advantage of your familiar and at 10th level, you gain advantage on saves versus disease, poison and fear as well as the option to use a bonus action once per activity interval to temporarily gain resistance to damage from non-magical weapons and advantage on ability checks for 1 minute. At 14th level, you can use create undead to make (or assert control over) flesh golems and revenants and at 18th level, you can make either two flesh golems or two revenants...provided, for both abilities, that you expend the high-level slot.


It should also be noted that the pdf has a nod towards the intriguing Salt-in-Wounds-series (Think high, dark fantasy with a society based on the regenerating flesh of the subdued tarrasque) and advice on creating your own traditions.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting have been SIGNIFICANTLY improved and now are top-notch. Where the rules-language wasn't 100% perfect before, it now is. The sub-abilities no longer are italicized, which means you can easily see the now properly italicized spells. Even cosmetic and didactic complaints I nitpicked are fixed. Kudos indeed! Layout adheres to an elegant two-column, full-color standard with pretty big borders at the top and bottom and several pieces of thematically fitting art that has a photo-like-look. First, I considered it to be a bit jarring, but it rather grew on me.


Rich Howard and Tribality Publishing have taken an already good, evocative class and sanded off teh rough edges, showing that they care for their books, rendering the new alchemist superior in every way to its predecessor. The special casting of the class and its internal nomenclature are surprisingly consistent. While I wasn't blown away by all traditions and while I think they do vary slightly in power, I was particularly surprised by the poisoner and irezumi. While the latter can be considered to be perhaps one of the strongest options herein, it also is a class that requires the interaction with a group to prosper. And seeing unifying tattoos on a group by the same artist can be pretty cool roleplying material. If an irezumi dies and a survivor looks at the tattoo as someone asks how she got it...well, let's just say that I think the class and its modular traditions (of which we'll hopefully see more in the future) proved to be interesting to me.
The level of care and detail that went into updating this pdf and the significant improvements make this revised edition now well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alchemist (5E)
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Aventyr Bestiary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 09:13:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive bestiary clocks in at 148 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 143 pages of content, one of which is devoted to the cover artist Raven Mimura's biography as well as the story behind the cover.


This book, just so you know it, is dedicated to Joshua Gullion, KTFish7, fellow reviewer, colleague and friend - he always did champion a bestiary for AAW Games' Aventyr setting and I does warm my heart to see this dream realized. In particularly since Aventyr's critters, from humble A03 onwards, have been a defining staple of the setting. The crab-like Kra'tah that haunted the Vikmordere burial ground is but one of the creatures found within this book alongside new variants of the evocative monstrosity.


So yes, beyond simply being a massive collection of monsters can also be seen as a kind of "best of" of what has come out of creature-design for the Aventyr-setting - the evocative underworld races introduced under their own product line have representations here, from the crystalline colliatur to the alien funglets and the related creatures, they find their representations within this book. We can find deep badgers with the respective animal companion stats and classics like the delightfully disturbing NITNAM from classic A09, a gigantic blob of flesh, a parasite-like infection of flesh on a wizard's tower, can be found herein as well.


Each of the monsters is codified via an easy to use monster icon key that depicts the climate in which the monster can be found as well as types and subtypes via pretty self-explanatory glyphs - though, as one nitpick pertaining the layout, the borders of these icons could be cleaner/sharper in the pdf-version.


So, this would cover the basics - but what beyond them? Well, there is a certain truth in the old saying that a campaign setting's monsters somewhat define a given world and system. One of the reasons that drew me to Pathfinder back when I bought #1 of RotRL was the take on goblins - the fact that they were evocative and different. The themes evoked in the book, from the Jersey devil-like Sandpoint Devil to some encounters all provided a mature theme I preferred to that of almost all official WotC-modules and inclusion of themes from the Dark Tapestry and ever more twists on the familiar tropes ultimately did their fair share in ensuring I'd stay with Pathfinder as my default system.


A world's monsters very much define its tone, a crucial component for any fantasy gaming setting: Introduce enough goofy creatures and the whole setting feels lighthearted; introduce enough grimdark elements and it similarly becomes rather dark. But beyond that, creature-design for setting bestiaries very much requires, at least in my book, a feeling of cohesion. Ultimately, my main measure for setting based bestiaries would be the fact that a bestiary like this needs to evoke a cohesive identity via its creatures between the lines - to succeed here, we require a sense of the down-to-earth baseline for a given world in the animals and plants. The aventyr bestiary does provide the like, with subterranean boars called vvors, svirfneblin riding slugs (!!!)...and then there would be skildpadders. Scandinavians may already glean at what these creatures precisely are, the name translating to tortoise - but the creature itself is massive. Skildpadders in the context of Aventyr are giant bulette-tortoises, used as elephant-on-speed-like beasts of burden by the dwarves, with howdahs and the like...and yes, they are damn dangerous and ravenous...but mere words do an insufficient job in describing the impact this creature had on my. Build-wise, it may not be the most evocative one, but the almost two-page-filling, massive artwork of this beast and the iconic nature of the concept adds a whole level of ideas to the game: I can see these titans making their way through the gigantic subterranean landscapes of the underworld, with their crews defending caravans of the gigantic beasts against the numerous threats below the surface. Images like this are truly fantastic in the best of ways and provide a unique sense of consistency to the world.


Another of my favorites would be the Szaboan: Think of a colossal crab with mantis-shrimp-like, scintillating coloring and two surprisingly cute rabbity-looking "ears" as feeler and red eyes...above a gigantic, all-consuming lamprey-like mouth, large enough to swallow whole houses, with rows upon rows of churning teeth? Yeah...at once cute and creepy...I love it.


Similarly, no (A)D&D/d20-based bestiary would truly be complete without an odd hybrid creature and this bestiary does offer such beings; as an example, I'd like to mention the Stegaloviper - at CR 7, this Huge foe is a disturbing cross of viper and centipede, with a massive, stegalodon-like club as its tail - think of a titanic rattle-snake that can bludgeon you to death with her rattle, while also have Alien-like mandibles in the gaping maw and insectoid legs on the underside of its belly. I almost expected this creature to feature in one of the classic, beloved Chronicles/Savage Sword of Conan-comics. Speaking of which - the builds of such fantastic creatures that breathe a certain sense of the unique can also be seen in the variants of fantastic spiders, with the CR 11 sloth spider and its lethargic aura and slime coating rendering it pretty powerful - but its stone carapace does render it staggered...until it erupts in devastating bursts of speed. Finally, the alien and tentacled Veinar, somewhere between Lovecraftian horror and plant-like aberration certainly should make fans of sword & sorcery tropes grin with glee.


Rust mites would also be pretty cool and certainly a creature PCs and players alike will come to hate: After all, how do you make rust monsters novel and nastier? Bingo. Make them a swarm. Speaking of magical vermin - chikfari would be grasshopper-like predators with devastating kicks. One of my own favorites, though, would be the dread karz - carnivorous slugs with bony protrusions , the ability to psionically lure in foes and a coating of poisonous, paranoia-inducing slime. And yes, before you ask: Salt does help. One component of this bestiary I personally very much enjoy is that the creatures herein often feature reward-mechanisms for smart groups to exploit, emphasizing creativity over just rolling the dice and comparing math.


There are also some truly weird monsters in this book that very much feel like they could have been picked from the pages of the mythology of our very own world: Take the Sigbin, for example: The winged predator with its black/red-striped fur, claws and goat's head, it has sleep-toxin coated spines, is infused with the essence of shadow and can grapple and pin shadows of those that run afoul of it. The three variants of the shield warden, spanning CRs from 7 to 18 would be the creatures featured on the cover - and they are similarly feeling like they belong, though here, the analogue one can find would be with the tropes and concepts of the magical guard, the superb security and guardian. What about constructs that resemble weird crosses between chickens and houses?


Speaking of constructs: What about sentient, psionic asteroids with gravity fields? And yes, the book also features golems galore - Two variants of book golems, the lavishly-rendered totem golem (one of the coolest creatures in the book with a ton of unique tricks), mosaic tile golems or spells/power points-leeching constructs...and more. On a less positive note, there is a rendition for a mob as aswarm herein - when that one was originally released, there was not yet a troop subtype, but conversion into it wouldn't have hurt the mob. Still, that issue extends to only one adversary herein.


However, as any good setting-specific bestiary acknowledges, there are also some threats that are, well, pretty much unique threats; bosses. This book also features those - a force of nature, the feral titan called Mortdravva (CR 22), for example. Noght Ma'klurl'uth the Madness Slug; or the insectoid, devilish titan called Naghith, the many-winged father, worshipped and feared by primitive tribes. The artworks for some of the adversaries herein are simply stunning, with the latter being a prime example for pure greatness. What about the Rellum, a gargantuan CR 24 ooze and incarnation of pure, destructive chaos?


The book also features no less than 6 templates, from the gorgeously rendered Colliatur monstrosity to the HEL-creature to making titanic versions of standard critters, the templates offer for neat customization options.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, particularly for a book of this size. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard, though, at least in the pdf, it could be a bit sharper. The book sports a huge array of artwork: Avid fans of 3pp-supplements may recognize a few of the artworks from previous releases, but the new ones truly shine, with several absolutely superb pieces that immediately grab your attention. The book also features several really big, one-page renditions...in short: This is a beautiful book. A very beautiful book. The pdf-version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Now I don't (yet) own the print of this book, but I am sure as HEL going to get it - my print copies of Snow-White and Rise of the Drow are simply gorgeous and the smaller AAW Games-releases similarly are aesthetically pleasing....so yeah. If you can and prefer print, go for the premium paper-version. Worth it.


Mike Myler, Jonathan G. Nelson, Michael Allen, Curtis Baum, Wolfgang Baur, Brian Berg, Adam Daigle, Jeff Gomez, Joshua Gullion, Jacob Kellog, Jared Jeanquart, Juan Lucha, Justin Andrew Mason, Jonathan McAnulty, Michael McCarthy, Raven Mimura, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Will Myers, Jason Nelson, Owen K.C. Stephens, Colin Stricklin, Cory Wickruck, Stephen Yeardley - notice something in this list of authors? Yep, this is a veritable who is who of not only the gifted authors in the cadre of AAW Games, it also features some of the biggest names in third party publishing - and it shows.


The Aventyr Bestiary is a great book brimming with imagination and truly unique ideas - whether you want a fix of sword-and-sorcery-esque themes, strange horrors or simply cool animal-like creatures, the book breathes a sense of the fantastic. More surprising, though, is that it retains, in spite of the breadth it covers, in spite of the various voices of designers herein, a sense of cohesion and consistency. Reading this book, you can't help but slowly get a feeling for the world of Aventyr, one that extends beyond the confines of individual monster entries. It's subtle; it's, in fact, almost imperceptible...but it's here. A feeling of everything coming together, of a fantastic world that feels different from others; by virtue of its creatures and the themes they provide. The presence of what one could consider "puzzle foes" in the book similarly is something I cherish and quite a few creatures in this book made me go "Damn, this one could carry a whole adventure!" and then start brainstorming.


This, to me, is testament of the quality and imaginative potential this offers. At the same time, though, you should be aware of the fact that rabid fans of Aventyr will see some old acquaintances here: If you, like me, own a majority of AAW Games' output, you'll encounter quite a few of the best-of critters featured in the respective modules. These tend to be winners and evocative indeed, mind you, but it is still something to bear in mind. Format-wise, this book very much adheres to the bestiary-formula championed by Paizo, which means that this book is mainly crunch - so, if you want extensive background information beyond a few paragraphs, you may gnash your teeth a little. Then again, I'd truly love to see extensive and detailed ecologies and modules depicting a lot of these creatures, so consider me wanting to know more about them testament of how damn evocative they ultimately are.


How to rate this...see, this is where it becomes a bit difficult for me. As a person, I absolutely adore this book. It features some of my favorite non-mythic critters in ages. As a reviewer, I had to nitpick a bit, as you've read above...but honestly, it's been a while since I've read a bestiary of this size with this much soul, a book of monsters that made me envision a fantasy world that, by virtue of their very existence, behaves differently from other fantasy settings...and this is a huge deal for me. If you already own the majority of AAW Games' catalogue, you'll get a bit less mileage out of this book, but the vast majority of the new critters more than makes up for this...and hence, after long and careful deliberation, I will ward this book the full five stars + seal of approval. There is simply too much awesomeness in these pages. If you thought even once "Heck yes!" regarding the monster-concepts I mentioned above, you'll probably sit before this book with a broad grin on your face. I know I am.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Aventyr Bestiary
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Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (5e)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 09:12:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The 5e-version of Tuffy's Good Time Palace is, fluff-wise, pretty identical to the Pathfinder-version: I.e. Tuffy's is still a seedy dump of a bar with an eccentric, female, dwarven barkeep and a somewhat less-than-bright brute at the piano. Scantily-clad women dance here and shady groups, two to be precise, scuttle through the shadows, as a surprising amount of patrons seems to vanish behind a door behind the bar...the set-up of a seedy bar, complete with the chance to contract mild food poisoning has been translated very well into the 5e-rules-frame, with the notable exception of one Wisdom (perception) check that retained the, for 5e rather high DC 15 from its Pathfinder sister file.


The supplement does come with extensive rumors and events to facilitate roleplaying within the context of Tuffy's - each of the respective entries is rather detailed and can be considered a good and rather detailed hook. One of the main draws of the file, though, would be the depiction of the owner, her employees and the two shady groups of people frequenting the establishment.


Here, the change in systems is more pronounced and honestly, it is here that the pdf had its most significant challenge: The PFRPG-builds utilized several rather specific mechanics-combos and translating these in spirit to 5e would not be an easy task. Instead of restricting itself to the class features of the default classes featured in the PHB, the pdf instead opts to go the more interesting way, granting unique features to the respective NPCs.


Tuffy, for example, has several tricks that render her particularly lethal in the environments of her bar, with the big mastermind gaining a unique, charming presence as well as a damn cool BBEG-escape trick. As a whole, the builds provided in this pdf turned out to be pretty intriguing. The fact that the Dire Rugrat-team went one step beyond in these builds is something I really appreciate. Challenges of the NPCs range from 1/2 to 10.


The tavern does come with a serviceable map in b/w, but sand a print-out-sized version or one that is key-less/player-friendly.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, no-frills two-column b/w-standard. It's minimalist and functional - no significant complaints here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and cartography is nice, particularly in such a low-cost little book. The b/w-artworks are flavorful and nice.


Kelly and Ken Pawlik's 5e-version of Tuffy's, surprisingly, actually turned out to be more interesting to me than its PFRPG-iteration. The characters are pretty cool, though we don't get scaled statblocks for characters in this version. Beyond its colorful characters and nice flavor-text, the pdf des share the lack of a menu or prices with the PFRPG-version and, like it, there is no clear distinction between the introductory prose and the rules-relevant section - generally, the tavern could have used a bit more fleshing out, with the majority of the appeal here stemming from the cool potential of the NPCs and their local color.


Still, this is, ultimately, me complaining at a high level. My final verdict, ultimately, will clock in at 4 stars for this one as well - while it is slightly briefer than the PFRPG-version, it is slightly more creative in my book.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (5e)
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Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (PFRPG)
Publisher: Dire Rugrat Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/21/2016 09:09:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!


There are taverns you enter and know immediately that you just have gone to the wrong side of town: Tuffy's is such a place. Paint peels from various surfaces, glass and food and other debris litter the floor, as scantily-clad women dance on some tables, while a female dwarf with cold blue eyes gazes directly at the PCs. Strangely, some people seem to come and go through a door behind the bar, while the various pickled foods you can purchase are anything but easily digestible. In fact, PCs eating here run a very real risk of contracting food poison, with all required rules provided by the pdf.


Following, to an extent, the formula of Raging Swan Press, the book also provides a whole page of rumors, but takes a more detailed approach befitting the tighter focus- a total of 12 such rumors are provided for your convenience and as ready to go read-aloud texts. Should the banter thus generated not suffice to draw your PCs into direct interaction with the locals, you won't be out of luck - a total of 10 events further can be utilized to jumpstart social interactions and the like, with the table once again spanning a whole page and going into very detailed territory.


The tavern itself is full mapped with a functional, solid map, though the pdf does not provide a key-less version or one blown up to page-size to act as a handout. Additionally, the map does not sport a scale for reference.


Beyond the tavern itself, the patrons obviously are important - and generally, two different groups, both with their own agendas, are provided in addition to Tuffy herself and her none-too-smart piano-player. The first such group would fall in the criminal territory, while the second consists of mercenaries - these combat relevant NPCs come with full-blown statblocks, which makes use of the ACG-material while also using archetypes.


The non-combatants like the dancers may have no statblocks, but they do come with ample of information regarding their goals and the like. The pdf also features several mugshots for the NPCs featured herein. Additionally, the pdf's appendix features several statblocks for rank and file members of the criminal organization as well as two statblock variants of characters introduced herein at +4 levels each - with the intention of potentially changing the power-structure of the organization in question. CR-wise, the NPCs range from CR 3 - 14, making the offering suitable for low- and mid level adventurers with strong stomachs.


Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, no-frills two-column b/w-standard. It's minimalist and functional - no significant complaints here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and cartography is nice, particularly in such a low-cost little book. The b/w-artworks are flavorful and nice.


Kelly and Ken Pawlik's excursion to Tuffy's is a successful one - while the components used herein may not be mind-bogglingly innovative, they don't have to be: The set-up and number of statblocks herein and the great local color and prose are certainly nice to read and the pdf can certainly offer more than one session of roleplaying - it may even become the favorite dive of particularly hardy PCs, with Tuffy and her folks being truly intriguing characters. That being said, I wouldn't be ole' endy if I had no complaints, right? Well, amid all the intrigue and the two groups in the book, the tavern itself could have used a bit refinement regarding the formatting of its look: The pdf begins with this well-written 4-paragraph-long introduction that sets the stage really well...and then goes straight into the rules to notice strange comings and goings. A more pronounced separation of flavor/quasi-read-aloud text and rules would have improved the reading flow here.


Secondly, and this may sound nitpicky: The tavern lacks a menu. While food is mentioned, no prices are provided. Nor any named breweries, special drinks available or the like. For a book on a tavern, that's somewhat jarring, at least to me. Don't be fooled, though - I am complaining at a surprisingly high level here, with the characters and amount of stats contained herein definitely making this a fair offering, though one focused perhaps a bit too much on the clientèle and less on the place itself.


In the end, Tuffy's is a more than solid, nice buy - and in case you're wondering: I've consciously refrained from going into the details regarding the groups and their members to avoid spoilers - so if you have any questions in that regard, don't hesitate to contact me.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tangible Taverns: Tuffy's Good Time Palace (PFRPG)
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Legendary Planet Player's Guide (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/20/2016 11:00:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The Player's Guide for the Legendary Planet AP clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page inside of back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, after the usual introduction to the matter at hand, we have to discuss one thing: The AP is set to officially begin at 2nd level, with the optional "The Assimilation Strain" prequel basically blindsiding the more mundane PCs. Hence, campaign trait selection is held off to the begin of the first "proper" adventure. Beyond that, there is a bit of a potential disjoint here: Namely, that this Player's Guide provides an array of new alien races, which make perfect sense in the context of the AP, yes, but also contradict the optional Assimilation Strain lead-in. Basically, if you elect to employ the "fish out of water"-approach and run the prequel with terrestrial PCs, you'll lock yourself out of basically all options in this book...until a PC dies/retires, that is. Which is a bit of a pity, since I prefer the approach via regular PCs stumbling, wide-eyed and bumbling, into the possibilities of Legendary Planet...but your mileage will obviously vary.


Anyhow, the first of the new races introduced herein would be the Auttaine, half-constructs that gain +2 to an ability score of their own choice, normal speed...and they have build points - 3 + initial Constitution modifier, to be precise. They can use these points to customize their own bodies - from internalized weapons to component pouches, the customized options are pretty cool.


Chlorvians are basically the half-plants here and gain +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str, low-light vision, +4 to Stealth in wooded environments, +1 natural armor, retries of Diplomacy-attempts only botched by 5 or less and treat Charisma for the purpose of the verdant bloodline as two higher, +1 level for purposes of the Plant domain. Characterized by the symbiotic bond with a seed, they also get +2 to saves versus mind-affecting effects, paralysis, sleep, poison, but thankfully not the huge array of plant immunities.


The Tretharri are 4-armed philosophers that gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, +2 to Swim and Climb checks and 4 arms - one is primary, all others are secondary. Still, this makes them brutal shredders.


The Zvarr, winged saurian humanoids, would be the final new race. Zvarr get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis, gain a climb speed of 30 ft, darkvision, +1 to Acrobatics and natural AC, a 1d3 primary bite attack that can be used as secondary in conjunction with weapons, +2 to Appraise as well as vestigial wings they can use via Fly to glide and prevents deadly falls. The races come with age, height and weight tables.


I was btw. positively surprised by the following section - from languages to focuses and skills, the pdf does offer some general, but very welcome guidelines to make the characters work well within the context of the Legendary Planet AP, discussing skills and the like - but the book actually goes one step beyond that, also featuring information on various intriguing classes from the 3pp-circuit - from godlings to luckbringers and machinesmiths, to, obviously, psionics, the Player's Guide provides quite a few nice shootouts pertaining how the classes work within the context of the saga.


The pdf also offers 12 unique campaign traits that count as their own category. Unlike traditional traits, these do come with extensive and evocative background flavor - whether you are a surviving experiment of the dread Jagladine, an interplanar gladiator or a xenobiologist, the traits generally are intriguing and mechanically relevant - bursts of movement, for example, are intriguing and powerful. I found myself pretty excited about them and hope the saga will actually reference them in the plot to come. Cool and well-crafted section!


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series and the pdf offers several beautiful full-color artworks for the new races, etc. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though they are a bit glitchy - they point towards e.g. sections of the intro and quite a few are called "_goback" instead of being properly named.


Will McCardell, Alexander Augunas and Neil Spicer have crafted a per se great player's guide. The races occupy the upper echelons of power and feel sufficiently brutal for the purposes of this AP. Power-wise, these aliens basically are in the upper echelon beyond the capability of e.g. the aasimar. For the high-powered gameplay we can expect from this AP, that works, though, and generally, the races seem to be pretty much on par. That being said, there are no favored class options for the races, in case you expected those.


This Player's Guide, as a whole, makes for a great offering for the demographic that wants to start Legendary Planet at 2nd level. Those of us, however, who wished to begin with the "fish out of water"-scenario via "The Assimilation Strain" are basically left hanging in the air. The enhanced power and campaign traits associated with the setting are useful and cool...but they ultimately don't help bridging the power gap between the races and terrestrial standard races. Whether it's "a simulation", a time-lapse or the like, the pdf doesn't really offer help reconciling the assumptions of this PG with the alternate, optional prequel. I expected to see some notes on upgrading regular characters to those herein or an alternate "unlocking"-system for the content herein...or something like that. As a whole, those of us who opted for this entry vector will get no help from this pdf, which is the one massive gripe I have against it. This does not make the Player's Guide bad, mind you - but it does limit its appeal and immediate usefulness for those of us who elected to run with the prequel.


This may not wreck the otherwise concise and well-written player's guide, but it does render the book less universally appealing than it otherwise would be. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Planet Player's Guide (Pathfinder)
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AA: The Still Grotto
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/20/2016 10:59:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This brief module clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page patreon recognition, leaving us with 23 pages of content, though these do adhere to the A5 (9'' by 6'') standard and thus are more of a booklet-size.


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


...


..


.


All right, still around? In the endless reedlands and marshes of Porphyra's Fenian Triarchy (though adaptation to other settings is easy), dire omens reign: The feud between the peaceful grippli and the lethal boggards has been brewing for quite a while and it may become worse soon - the grippli have just lost one of their best warrior-diplomats, while the boggards heed the murmurs of a new force in the swamp, an erstwhile exile from their tribes, who has attained a powerful remnant of the NewGod Wars. Into this volatile mixture, the PCs stumble in face first via one of 3 detailed adventure hooks.


The location of the adventure itself is situated in the "Shunned Mountain" - 15 ft. high, it hides the entrance to the eponymous still grotto, where the foes loom. Now, in a nice twist, the module actually suggests multiple means of actually handling the value of treasure contained in the grotto. Now, structure-wise, the still grotto is very much a dungeon-crawl with pretty detailed read-aloud texts. The dungeon similarly is pretty internally consistent, with explanations on how certain creatures were attracted etc., so in case you consider this type of information important, it's here. Another peculiarity of this module lies in the adversaries employed: From the sarennel to the defidi (think undead frog-folk; and yes, there are great full-color artworks herein!), the monsters featured make amply use of Monsters of Porphyra I and II, though, obviously, stats are included in this book for your convenience. In a nice note, magically infused terrain is featured in for your convenience in the relevant combat statistics of the respective adversaries - so no, you don't have to do math pertaining the effects of that contaminating nightwave scale and its desecrate effect.


The PCs will have a chance to save a grippli survivor if they manage to defeat the dread, exiled boggard necromancer. The pdf also contains notes on divining ioun stones, the reptile-affine coldblood torc and the ring of engineered creature attraction that explains some of the tricks employed by the adversaries in this book. The pdf also includes a Diplomacy-enhancing cantrip as well as a breakdown of XP, EL and creatures by area in a nice table as well as a list of treasures to be found, with associated value.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good this time around - I noticed no glaring issues that would have impeded my ability to run this module. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 1-column standard for books of A5-ish layout. The artworks in full color are excellent and the pdf comes with a great full-color map of the Fenian Triarchy as well as a nice b/w-map of the complex, though no player-friendly key-less version is included. A JPG of the cover is also included in the download. To my chagrin, the module has no bookmarks, which represents a slight comfort-detriment.


Perry Fehr knows how to write adventures. While I consider his crunch to be somewhat hit and miss, I have yet to be disappointed by any of his modules, with unique cultures and a gift for creating evocative set-ups and thematically-consistent environments going hand in hand. This module, in contrast to e.g. the Purple Mountain-saga (seriously, check it out here - it may be the most under-appreciated series of dungeon modules for PFRPG!) has a smaller scope, but particularly when run within Porphyra, its unique backdrop provides a lot of its flair. The dungeon-exploration itself is a nice, brief stint in a thematically concise and relatively challenging environment and certainly is fun. Particularly for the low price point, there is not much to complain about, with the consistency and unique adversaries elevating this to a level where I consider it a nice little trip. While the module does not reach levels of pure excellence, it is a nice, inexpensive way to spice up your swamp/marsh-adventuring, initiate contacts with frog-folk or simply let your PCs gather some loot and XP on their way to the next big task. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars for a nice, inexpensive module; rounded up due to the more than fair price point.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AA: The Still Grotto
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Mini-Dungeon #031: Dwarven Dread
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/20/2016 10:55:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right! It can always get worse. This simple premise is represented in many an experience, many a module - and here, it is represented by the duergar. Evil and loathsome though they may be, they generally at least are sane. Well, Argyle the Betrayer has gone off the deep end after encounter the derro magister Angree, who turned the cave wizard into a kind of mad savior of a duergar cult - it is up to the PCs to stamp out the cult and stop the madness from spreading. The dungeon presented here provides a sufficient diversity regarding its challenges, with a small, nice random encounter table adding dynamics, read-aloud rune-inscriptions adding fluff and environmental challenges adding an additional dimension to the encounters. While two of the hyperlinks are dead, they pertain to environmental heat dangers and pulverizers, both components you can relatively easily look up. Stone/Magma-themed foes as well as the evil dwarves provide a concise theme regarding identity of the mini-dungeon.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Michael Smith's "Dwarven Dread" is a solid addition to the Mini-dungeon line. While it is not as creative as the best of them, it provides an easy to insert dwarven-themed side-trek that features sufficient diversity in the challenges provided to make this a solid, fun romp. As a whole, this clocks in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to in dubio pro reo - a solid, easily inserted sidetrek if you require some padding for dwarven-centric scenarios.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #031: Dwarven Dread
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Vathak Terrors: Horrors of Halsburg
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2016 08:03:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This supplement for Shadows over Vathak clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (which looks a bit sad with only 4 lines - probably would have fitted on the editorial-page), 1 page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's dive in!


After a brief introduction to the matter at hand, namely monsters: We begin with the CR 1 Poxivum, which has a rather cool description: The tiny plant looks like a grotesque cross between a big onion and a human heart, scurrying around on artery-like appendages. The powerful plant seeks to attack itself to a victim, being surprisingly powerful for its size, an starts feeding off the target's Constitution, gaining regeneration while sated. Hard to kill, these creatures nauseate their victims...but on the plus-side, they are susceptible to positive energy and their stench actually repels vampires, so there's that. On a nitpicky note, one of the abilities refers to "Dex bonus" instead of Dexterity modifier, but that's basically a cosmetic complaint. On the plus-side, a disturbing artwork-montage is provided for the critter - think "heart with spider legs sticking out". The critter is cool in that it can go both ways - apocalyptic means of survival, threat or calculated risk...pretty cool. And I can see nobles and tyrants forcing their slaves and subordinates to stagger around with these parasites attached...grim and creepy!


The Vaquire is a particularly nasty water-undead that can form vortices under water, energy drain foes...and drown them. If it succeeds at the latter, it also possesses the target. OUCH! The vampire skull/water artwork provided here is also rather nice. Compared to the other two creatures, this one feels significantly less inspired; it's not bad, mind you...but it's also not too awe-inspiring. A somewhat amorphous possessing undead; with a water theme. Not as common as athe air-theme...but yeah.


The final creature would be the CR 13 nightsun, a Huge orb of grey plasma that emits a desecrating light and infuses the area with the minor negative-dominant planar trait (cool idea!) - instead of being healed by its own aura, it gains fast healing depending upon the number of undead it shines upon. Oh, and it does get channel negative energy, just fyi. At the same time, the nightsun can actually help undead weakened by the sun...though at a price: Undead leaving its light suffer Charisma damage - an idea for a kind of undead sun cult? A deadlight drug? Pretty damn cool. The sun-themed SPs of the critter are modified and the creature even modifies the Strength damage of unholy aura, instead inflicting blindness. However, at the same time, these lethal aberrations are susceptible to water. Okay, this one is a pure winner. It works well as a boss, as a story-monster...or simple as something to dread.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and a rules-level - I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin games' beautiful two-column full-color standard for Vathak-supplements and the pdf comes actually with bookmarks, in spite of its brevity - kudos! The artworks in full color deserve special mention - with an almost photography-like style, they feel...pretty real. rather impressive for a pdf of this low price point!


Christopher Wasko's Horrors of Halsburg were a pretty positive surprise to me - Fat Goblin Games, I and monster books don't have the best of track records, but this one pretty much delivers. While I have not completely picked apart all three statblocks, the functional basics were correct where I picked the critters apart - kudos! Apart from the one hiccup in an aesthetic gripe, I found no significant problems here. More importantly, though, would be that 2 out of 3 of the creatures herein are killer. 2 out of 3 ain't bad indeed and for the low and more than fair asking price, that quote is pretty good. In the end, I will hence rate this one 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo - a cool supplement with some unique, horrific beasts.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak Terrors: Horrors of Halsburg
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Mini-Dungeon #030: The Burning Tree of Coilltean Grove
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/19/2016 08:01:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


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


...


..


.


Still here?


All right! While travelling inside a large forest, the PCs happen upon a sight most peculiar - Coilltean Grove. While this grove of the dryad Flùràlainn would be a most intriguing find in the dullest of times, right now, it is the place of a rarely seen phenomena: The tree is ablaze, the dryad in panic - and beyond that, two tribes of sprites are engaging in all-out warfare, fighting with uncharacteristic ferocity. In order to quell the bloodshed among the fey, the PCs will have to help the dryad, deduce the culprit and source beyond the apparent insanity of the fey and put an end to said threat, for an all out great encounter/module.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The map of this one deserves special mention - it is surprisingly high-quality and evocative for the format - though GMs should not show it to the players, since the map contains a SPOILER pertaining what's going on.


Justin Andrew Mason's mini-dungeon here is simply awesome - beyond the obvious roleplaying potential for roleplaying and the unique, cool backdrop of what happens here, the mini-dungeon can have intriguing repercussions indeed. The set-up is intriguing, the map great - there is simply not much beyond nitpickery to complain about. This is a great use of the format and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #030: The Burning Tree of Coilltean Grove
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Kineticists of Porphyra II
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 09:25:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second of the massive expansions for the kineticist-class clocks in at 59 pages (as before, in the one-column, digest-like format), 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This review is based on V.4 of the file.


After a brief introduction on kineticism in Porphyra, we dive right into the first archetype, the Divine Conduit, who must be good-aligned, gets an aura of good and replaces the 1st level infusion with the exclusive universal wild talent kinetic smite: For accepting 1 burn, as a swift action, you may declare a target within 60 ft. as the target of smite evil as per the paladin class feature, but only gain 1/2 your Constitution modifier as bonus to atk and AC to account for the option to use it more often. 2nd level provides the burn-less adamant faith elemental defense, which nets you Dr 1/evil, +1 per 2 kineticist levels, with the option t enhance this defense by +1 per burn accepted, with a DR-cap up to your total kineticist level. The effect can be dismissed and restored as an immediate action and increased DR is maintained until your burn is removed. Furthermore, and this is pretty strong at mid levels, when using a wild talent and accepting burn, adjacent allies partake in your DR.


2nd level also provides potentially the make or break option - holy healing, which nets the kinetic healing utility wild talent, regardless of element and yes, it locks burn into the kineticist, making it impossible to delegate the burn. The conduit can use this one as a swift action, which is pretty good - I probably would have gone with a more conservative action economy here. The ability replaces the 2nd level utility wild talent. At 4th level, the divine conduit gets a 10-ft anti-fear aura and at 8th level, a burnless wild-talent that duplicates phantom steed, with burn allowing for a HP upgrade - nice! Also nice that this balances the power of this talent by providing a cool-down if the steed is destroyed. At 10th level, the divine conduit may extend spell-like utility wild talents with durations greater than one round to up to Constitution modifier allies within 30 feet for 1 round per class level, replacing thus the 10th level utility wild talent. Cool, though in a minor typo-level glitch, Constitution is not capitalized.


The second archetype herein would be the Dragon Pact Kineticist -kineticists who have a pact with an ancient, powerful dragon -and yes, the pdf provides guidelines for entering such a pact. Kineticists in such a relation gain an element associated with their patron dragon. At 1st level, these guys gain either breath of the dragon (draconic breath (cone), 15 ft. and draconic breath (line), 30 ft. form infusions, at burn cost -1, that is 0 -balanced in flexibility due to both only dealing half blast damage for non-energy blasts) or the draconic form utility wild talent, which grants a 1d6 bite and 2 1d6 claws and also reduces burn of the kinetic fist form infusion by 1 while active. I have three nitpicks here: One: Damage type? Per bite/claw default, I assume, or is there some kineticist-element tie in I overlooked? 2) Claw damage is non-standard for Medium-size. 3) The wild talent does not specify whether these attacks are treated as primary or secondary natural weapons. At 4th level, kineticists choosing breath add this one to their lists of available utility wild talents. If that sounds powerful...well, there is a catch - these guys can only use kinetic blasts when applying either the draconic breaths or kinetic fist form infusions and this eats the 1st level infusion.


Starting at 2nd level, the kineticist gains the skin of the dragon defensive universal wild talent, granting you natural armor which can be increased by accepting burn, with the amount of possible burn being determined by class level and capping at 7th. This replaces elemental defense.


At 7th level, the choice made at 1st level regarding the draconic aspect is further enhanced, with means to increase range of breaths for accepting burn and a composite blast that can be used in conjunction with physical blasts at 2 burn, with 15th level reducing that to 1. Dragon pact kineticists who have elected to follow the body-route gain a tail that deals 1d6 and is properly coded as secondary, though it can be used as primary for 1 burn accepted. Additionally, this allows the tail to be used as a prehensile tail. I assume that rules-wise, this acts like the prehensile tail racial feature, but a specific nod towards this would have been appreciated here. The Draconic Fusion composite blast allows for the blending of simple blast and draconic patron energy type chosen. 8th level nets 60 ft. fly speed with good maneuverability via the draconic wings universal utility wild talent and 10th level provides the expanded element class feature.


At 15th level, the dragon pact kineticist either further increases range of the breaths (for, you guessed it, more burn) or an always primary tail with all natural attacks gained having their threat ranges doubled - thankfully sans means of further stacking onto this expansion. They also get a fear aura and the element eater utility wild talent, regardless of focus, assigned to the pact's element. 20th level nets the benefits of the draconic aspects not chosen and energy immunity to the dragon's energy...all in all, good reasons for dragons to make sure the kineticist has an accident before he reaches this power-level...I'm pretty burned out on dragon-apotheosis/emulation type of builds, but this one actually is interesting and has some appropriate fluff thrown in as well - I really enjoy it and think I'll use it...which was pretty surprising to me!


The Fusion kineticist would be next: They select two elements for their elemental focus, gaining both simple blasts. One is the main element, one is the sub element (snigger...I'll call the dom element in my game...Yes. Sometimes I'm horribly infantile.) Fusion kineticists may only select the 1st level talents for their sub element and do not gain composite blasts for it. This replaces the first level infusion and basic utility talent. 2nd level nets the elemental defense of their sub element and 7th level unlocks wild talents from the sub element at -2 levels.


They also gain a composite blast, provided they qualify for it, dealing "both types of damage instead of half of each type." And...here I'm stumped. I have NO IDEA how that's supposed to work in practice. Physical attack is resisted by DR, energy by resistance: Bypass? Yay or nay? From the wording (and generally sensibility) I assume this does not mean double damage - that would be insane and contradictory to the elaboration. Thing is: Pathfinder has no solid precedence rules for attacks that count as BOTH. An example: A creature has DR 20/- and immunity to fire. It's hit by a magma blast that deals 58 points of damage. Does the DR apply? The immunity? Neither?? The smaller, i.e. the DR? No idea.


Cross infusion is damn cool - at 9th level, it lets you apply infusions to simple blasts at +1 burn cost. At 15th level, the sub element is now eligible for full level wild talent selection and the archetype also gets 1 infusion or utility wild talent. More interesting: For 1 burn, they can use two utility wild talents in the same standard action as long as they are from different elements and 2 levels lower than the highest utility wild talent accessible. At 20th level, cross infusion can be used with composite blasts and the archetype gets 2 utility wild talents or infusions of different elements.


The Hex kineticist is the final archetype - it gains a familiar at full witch progression (and its death can really hamper blast damage) and 2nd level nets a hex, with 6th and every 4 levels thereafter allowing for the selection of an additional hex instead of a utility wild talent. 3rd level nets an element as per elemental focus, but no simple blast or utility wild talent. Instead, the hex kineticist can accept 1 burn to store a kinetic blast of this element (at half damage) in the familiar, reducing the damage output of the kineticist for as long as the blast is imbued. This may not sound like much on paper, but damn can you pull off some cool tactical stunts there! At 7th level, the familiar gains a 1st level infusion and infusion specialization 1, but can't accept burn for an infusion. Additionally, the kineticist and the familiar gain the Interweave Composite Blast teamwork feat (which is not, as a nitpick, properly capitalized) and also the burn 2 Hex Synthesis infusion, which lets you infuse standard non-major hexes into the blast., forcing all creatures taking damage from your blast to save against the hex. In one rare case of, admittedly, mostly aesthetic, rules-language hiccup in these books, the wording could be a bit more polished: By replacing "affects one target" with "single-target hex," that section would imho be a bit cleaner...but what's here is functional.


10th level nets the expanded element that's delayed down from 7th level and 15th level provides +1 infusion of up to 2nd level as well as infusion specialization 2 for the familiar. The master unlocks major hexes as well as gaining one and getting to option to apply them via hex synthesis at burn cost. 20th level makes hexes basically a wild-card that can be switched via burn and further upgrades the familiar for a third infusion as well as infusion specialization 3. Overall, a great, cool archetype - powerful and unique.


The pdf also introduces two new elements: Poison nets you Knowledge (Nature) and Sleight of Hand, with basic toxikinesis as basic manipulation and acid blast as a simple blast wild talent. Toxikenticists may use the burning infusion, though it deals acid damage instead and nets +2 to any poison kinetic blasts. As for defense, well, there we get Corrosive Miasma. This one nets you SR 11, which increases by 1 for every 2 kineticist levels beyond 1st. By accepting one burn, you can increase this by 1 until burn is removed next, with additional levels allowing for the increased scaling of SR via more burn. As an immediate action, you can lower your SR for that spell. Finally, when accepting burn when using a poison wild talent, you may, for one round, corrode spells affecting you, reducing the caster level by 1/2 your kineticist level. This is VERY unique and I really love its defenses!


The second element may have just as well been made for me (and all other fans of horror movies and icky villains) - viscera. Corpokineticists get Disguise and Knowledge (dungeoneering) and gain the physical bone blast (bludgeoning, slashing or piercing) as a simple blast, basic corpokinesis. A coprokineticist's viscera substance infusions do not affect the undead or constructs unless specified otherwise and throw form infusions are restricted to bone blasts and affects corporeal undead and the pushing infusion can affect undead and constructs. Infusions that affect corporeal undead can be extended to affect incorporeal undead by adding the incorporeal infusion. As for Defense, that would be Reactive Skin. While it's "resistance", not "resist" to an element of choice gained (including negative energy and sonic!), you can, as often, charge this scaling resistance by accepting burn, with level determining the maximum of burn you can accept to power this one. Now here's the cool deal - you can switch these resistances by accepting 1 burn. While, mechanically, I prefer the poison here, I love the viscera's flair...


Anyway, we obviously also get an array of new composite blasts - from acid rain (poison + water) to bioelectricity (viscera + air) etc. - and generally, I consider them well-balanced, more so, in fact than in KOP I; more important for me would be that they have unique tactical options: When you, for example, properl a bloody murder blast at your foes (by throwing a blood-soaked skull) , you increase the damage by +2 per 1d6 of the blast and may add the wrack form infusion. The imagery is awesome as well: Take Venus Blast: You create an extremely fast-growing carnivorous plant that chomps down on a foe and then withers to nothingness. It's just one sentence. It's odd, yes - but it is imho a huge liberation strike from the blandness of colored elemental las000rs firing at foes.


Obviously, this would not be complete without infusions, right? Well, there would be Str or Dex damage and a blend of old and new ones, for the pdf does sport some reprints from KOP I (though they now, obviously, take the new elements into account!) for completion's sake - kudos for going the extra mile there. And yes, you know...this pdf, much more so than KOP I, starts to show that the team is getting creative with the material. Take attunement burst for sound: Con-mod creatures hit by your attuning blast can be caused to become basically small centers of detonations...if played right, this can provide a ridiculously awesome scene. Crippling limbs of foes is cool - but not as cool as firing your blast through hyper-dimensions, appearing right in front of the target. What about using poison doses that can be added to blasts? Negating poison resistance/immunity? Even the save-or-suck paralyzing infusion have subsequent saving throws to not make it an I Win-button. Oh, and there are psychotropic infusions that not only deal Wis damage, they can cause the target to attack his allies and save versus harmless spells cast by them...pretty damn cool! What about instilling an urge to self-harm in creatures? Oh yes. Now at 2 burn, telekinetic weapon may be one of the very few infusions I'm not sold on - for this flat fee, it lets you add weapon properties and enhancement bonuses to blasts...which is awesome, sure. But why not tie the burn cost to the net enchantment of the weapon? Would have imho made more sense and an actually difference between channeling Excalibur and a +1 flaming weapon... Still, overall a great chapter, with my aforementioned gripe being not that pronounced and overall creativity exceeding that of the predecessor.


The same approach as for infusions is also applied to utility wild talents, with reprints sporting new elements etc. and ample of new ones introduced to the fray: Acid fog, using poison to partially ignore hardness, mitigating the damage objects take when telekinetically blasted by you. But SO MUCH COOLER: Zone of Atrophy. Basically somewhat akin to the zones of discordia of my own scion, this one allows you to nerf that annoyingly overpowered healer and his conjuration (healing) spells and SPs. Oh, and the follow-ups: Instant skeletalized defeated foes that can be disintegrated via burn...or animated as zombies via burn! Oh yes. And yes, there is an anti-divine follow-up available at level 5. Damn, clerics will hate these guys...


Telepathy via benign cysts on allies? Gross, yes...but so damn cool! Creating poison, with class level determining the market price? Yeah, damn neat...particularly since it has an anti-abuse/selling-caveat. Bone Armor? Yes, please. On a minor nitpick: Bone blades allow for 1d4 claws (correct damage for size!) and 1d6 bite (though that one costs burn) and don't specify secondary/primary...but yeah...assuming you know the defaults and you're good to go. Want vestigial arms? You can have them...up to 2, in fact! (The third time, you can get a parasitic twin...come on...you know you want it...) What about shaping the flesh of a target, causing e.g. eyes to grow shut? Yep...so creepy and so damn awesome. I'm not the biggest fan of kinetic healing, but that's personal taste. For those of you who enjoy it - two follow-ups are included and help with that line. More interesting and creative: What about inflicting the chaos beast's corporeal instability curse on those pesky adversaries? Or did you want a 1-point eidolon evolution? (or more via follow-ups?) Well, you can have that now. Treating telekinetic blasts as dispel magic similarly is useful.


The pdf also includes an array of new feats, which let you use Con-mod to calculate form infusion saving throw DCs, set up combos (penalties to saves versus utility wild talents after taking a blast), a multiclass-enhancer (select wild talents up to 4 over kineticist level, up to total character level - similar feat available for blasts), getting limited poison access for wood blasts, gain ranged blasts regardless of restrictions...quite a bunch of material here. The feat Stout Deterrent has been mixed in layout/formatting, its name hanging halfway in the previous feat in a rather weird glitch.


The pdf also provides new magic items: Body wraps that reduce kinetic fist form infusion burn costs, bracers that allow for the conversion of simple blast energy via burn and then there would be burn shards, which can accept 1 or 2 points of burn for the attuned owner...and yes, they are limited to one per character, thankfully. Conduit gloves allow you to gather power while holding objects and may be a bit inexpensive at 1,000 gp. The big thing here, would be crystals of elemental knowledge, which contain spell-like utility wild talents that can be attuned and then used - but they don't allow prohibited characters from using them and the item, once again, has a limit of attuned crystals, preventing abuse. Focusing gloves allow for the addition of magic weapon properties from select lists to blasts, but require the user to accept burn, while a variant is particularly potent for kinetic blades. The bland power enhancement of rings of elemental strength, in comparison, feels relatively lame and, since it's blast die-dependent, also pretty powerful for the price. The pdf also provides kineticist ioun stones. Vambraces and vests interacting with elemental overflow are neat and certain wraps allow kineticists to gain the benefits of being Large sans actually being Large, with a 76K-variant doing the same for Huge...though in either cases, only when subject to the kinetic form wild talent. And yes, it comes with proper info on stacking etc.


The pdf concludes with Zeltryx Lastbloom, a drow (karza) dragon pact kineticist 12.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not as precise as in the first KOP-book, at least on a formal level. On a rules-level, the concepts juggled are imho better, particularly considering the additional step up in difficulty regarding the designs herein - there isn't much to complain here. Layout adheres, as mentioned an A5-single-column standard (6'' by 9''), which you make prefer or not - just something to bear in mind regarding the page-count. The pdf sports a couple of gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


N.Jolly, with support from team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) has crafted a book that is, at least in my opinion, superior to the first KOP-book. Why? Because it is more daring. It is the book that conceptually liberates the kineticist from the "elemental-laser"-niche and makes the class have some seriously cool options: Whether it's poison, hexes or the like - the creativity that can be found herein exceeds its predecessor by leaps and bounds. It was this book, not the first, that made me first think that I might actually want to create a kineticist. I considered the system intriguing from the get-go, mind you - I simply considered the niche to be too narrow and not too much to my liking. The variety of options introduced is cool and creative, the class material is solid and, considering the difficulty of the kineticist system and nomenclature, one can consider this a rather impressive book.


The main achievement of this book, to me, would be that it brings flair and panache into the class; it's bolder in its expansion of the kineticist class's scope as well as in its use of flavor and in its design-choices. Yes, there are a few instances where the rules-language could be a tad bit more precise, but they are few and far in-between and balance-wise, I actually consider this one to be more refined - I have seen less I'll have to nerf for less high-powered games than in the first book. Yes, I'm concerned about the damage-upgrade items and the overall stacking game one can see coming here...but at the same time, I absolutely applaud the items like burn shards and their limitations, the crystals and the overall creativity and mechanical precision that went into this book. I could ramble on all day.


In short: While Kineticists of Porphyra was the book you had to buy to make the kineticist more versatile, this is frankly the book you want to buy, as the strength of concepts herein vastly exceeds that of its predecessor book and the base class. It may be a tad bit less refined in a few formal hiccups than the previous book...but it makes up for that in leaps and bounds.


Now excuse me, I need to build some poison and viscera kineticists...I forgot the verdict? Oh, yeah, right. Well, it's my old maxim: Boldness and creativity trump blandness married to perfectionism any day of the week. My final verdict, since this book actually made me like the class and liberated it from its narrow scope, integrating it so much better within PFRPG, is 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra II
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Into the Wintery Gale: Raider's Haul
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/18/2016 09:24:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This collection of magic items clocks in at a massive 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD (though the SRD-page sports two short paragraphs of content), leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, these magic items are intended for the unique Vikmordere-culture in Aventyr, which can be likened to a unique blend of native Americans and Vikings. It should be noted that adaption of the items to other contexts and cultures is pretty simple, though, personally, I'd consider that to be a bit of a waste - you see, the Vikmordere culture slowly introduced over the course of multiple modules set in Aventyr, may easily be the most intriguing ethnicity/culture I have seen introduced for a given setting in a long, long while, so finally getting magic items to further accentuate its peculiarities is a big plus for me. And yes, I actually wrote them into my current main campaign; you know, the non-playtesting one where we play for fun and fun alone? The one I really guard against influences I don't absolutely love? Well...yeah. That should give you an inkling of how much I like this culture.


I'm rambling, right? Sorry. But this goes somewhere. Beyond simply depicting magic items as in other sourcebooks, the pdf has several peculiarities. Number one would be the correspondence of the items to magic item cards - while not necessary for the enjoyment of this book, the item cards do provide a welcome option for time-starved GMs to simply hand out and the fact that the items denote their cards makes this very easy to use. Beyond that, and here is where my rambling above comes into play, each item actually comes with cultural information pertaining the magic item and its function, use and status within the Vikmordere culture, featuring unique tidbits while hearkening to a school of design that is not about math, but about myth-weaving. Suffice to say, I adore this decision.


Anyways, the items also get their own descriptive flavor text (great for GMs who are bad at that kind of thing)...and, well...they have artworks. Not a couple of them. I mean gorgeous, high-quality full-color artworks for each and every item in this book, featuring Mates Laurentiu's unique and very fairy-tales-esque style...that actually manages to get the flair of the Vikmordere.


Okay, so this may be impressive, right? Well, it kind of is...but personally, it's the items that make this interesting. We begin, for example, with Amphorae of Wargmead which allow the imbibers to assume Powerful Shape-modified wild shape into Large dire wolf form. Yes, this basically is akin to a spell in a can - but it does modify the precise effects and the visuals it evokes and the cultural tidbits conspire to make this infinitely more compelling than it would be otherwise. The expensive and powerful armet of glory provides cumulative deflection bonuses to AC for each crit confirmed -and guess what? The item actually navigates, rather well, I might add, the issue of per-combat mechanics by also providing a fixed time frame. Kudos!


Basher's Shields are also interesting -two enchanted bashing shields that work in conjunction and allow the user to fuse them together into a tower shield-equivalent of their own, with bonus feats granted to the wielder while wearing the shields. Pretty unique. The berserker's boss actually contains three shields with unique properties, with in particular the trickster-shield being brutal: No save 1/day exchange of places with a creature attacking the wielder. On a nitpicky side, the shield should probably specify that the exchange is a conjuration [teleportation]-effect for purposes of ability/spells interaction...but the daily limit makes me still consider this cool...and functional...and unique.


Bows that facilitate firing multiple arrows at once (with Manyshot-interaction covered) may be cool...but what about boots that automatically create ice when the wearer treads upon water? And yes, the rules for this are more complex than one would think from the concept, but ultimately, it manages to handle them; it works. Brynja Mail, originally worn by a demi-goddess, changes hues depending on temperatures and is particularly potent for superhumanly dexterous characters, with potent defensive capabilities. This may be a bit inexpensive, but considering the origin and scarcity of this armor, I have no issue with it. An iron censer that doubles as a flaming flail for Large-sized creatures, capable of warming the cold, should also be mentioned, What about a fan made of hawk feathers, assisting in the conjurations of rituals? Hero's blood as a powerful potion (with an optional rule that makes it less palatable...) and hero's hope is similarly unique: A horribly amateurishly cobbled together buckler that is enchanted to 1/day, make the user basically immune to ranged attacks, negating hostile assaults...though the shield does collapse upon absorbing a critical hit as a unique balancing mechanicsm for its power. Beyond a cursed horn of thirst, an electricity-laced reindeer seax that doubles as a lesser elemental metamagic rod.


Now here's a glorious one: The hunter's haversack can create items beyond its obvious storing capacity. However, it manages to get EVERYTHING right! It can't be cheesed for money; It can't be cheesed to create custom, specific items...and retains full functionality! Oh YES! Thank you! You know, this may be the first crazy-prepared item I know of that does not have any issues!


A halberd fashioned from mammoth tooth can conjure forth a mammooth to ride and an instrument can conjure forth ratatosks (see Vikmordere Bestiary) and bodhran drums can carry messages for miles. Runestones of warding deserve special mention - a total of 16 such stones are provided. They each have a pool of charges and basically work like more versatile ioun stone array that provides bonuses versus specific schools/subschools of magic, with each bonus granted consuming one charge. On a nitpick, they use the nomenclature "rune bonus" sans defining rune bonus for stacking/interaction purposes.


Ähem: "This ornamented human skull has had a circular hole cut into its crown, trimmed with a rune-covered gold band. Its jaws have been positioned so that the mouth remains gaping wide open, and two large pristine rubies have been lodged into its gazing eye sockets." - That's the skriksong. In the presence of haunts or undead, it emits a conical, fiery glow that can render the incorporeal corporeal and acts as a glorious warning system for haunts. And, come on - the imagery evoked...it's...stunning.


What about a spiked, dancing buckler that can be thrown? Or what about a massive, magical snekkja (a type of longship) that is crewed by spirits and that can turn all abroad incorporeal...yes, this is, quite literally, the stuff of legends. The potentially petrification-causing gorgon ability is underpriced for a +2 bonus in my book. Vængr throwing axes can generate gusts of wind or wind walls - nice, but personally, I love the magical wenchline of hoisting, a variant of an immovable rod that, bingo, help hoisting! Makes so much sense to me! Neat! Oh, and have I mentioned the ice-genie in a bottle?


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good in both the formal and rules-language departments - I noticed no significant glitches. The full-color 2-column, unique layout standard created for this book by BJ Hensley and Daniel Marhsall is GORGEOUS and, as mentioned above, the artworks are copious and stunning. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Justin Andrew Mason's Raider's Haul may well be one of the best magic item books I've seen in a long while. It certainly is the most beautiful one - the artwork-density and quality of the artworks is stunning. While I'm not sold on the pricing of all items herein, that remains very much a personal thing, though some enchantments and bonuses herein very much feel like they shouldn't be crafted in series. Why? Because this, in its design and culture, in the glorious fluff suffusing this book, very much adheres to the mythical take on magic, where it is supposed to instill wonder, provide unique benefits and not like something that can be bought at adventurers-are-us. If taken under this, its intended purpose and premise, this may well rank among the finest item collections for PFRPG.


If you take the story-components out of the items and make them widely available, you also deprive them of some of their magic - of their uniqueness and flair. The two components I thus consider problematic are the relatively powerful magic weapon qualities contained herein, since they imply a wider availability. However, this book, as a collection of culturally distinct loot with its own stories and flair, is frankly intended for the GM, as a great selection of tools to reward heroic PC. Used as such, as intended, this works perfectly - powerful and unique, breathing the flair of its unique culture.


As you all may know, I am a rather big proponent of "magic should be magical and not something you buy in the market" - so for me, this absolutely and completely does its job in a truly superb manner; in the context of Aventyr, this steps up the game for magic items and the coolness of the unique Vikmordere-culture. Beyond its setting-confines, it remains a stellar collection of items for Norse-inspired cultures that breathe a sense of the uniquely magical into fantasy rendition of Viking-inspired cultures, going one step beyond the tropes evoked in classic Norse mythology, adding a unique and creative spin to everything. In short: I absolutely adore this book. It's an achievement of storytelling that provides items that feel more magical than most PFRPG-items, that feel like items that are more than the sum of their math and properties. For that, I love this book and while it may not be 100% perfect, it is very close to that...at least for me. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Wintery Gale: Raider's Haul
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I Loot the Bag of Holding SNE
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2016 11:15:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The latest installment in Raging Swan Press' "I Loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf with a massive table of no less than 100 pieces of adventuring gear - and, in case you're wondering, they very much may be system-neutral and less crunchy that you could expect - but they are cool and diverse: A folding ladder, sticks that obscure the immediate area in purple smoke, camouflage nets for other biomes, differently colored sticks of chalk, dented breastplates - from the curious to the mundane, the table sports a solid diversity.


The second table herein sports 5o entries for artworks found in the bags of holding - and here, one can see the creativity of Mike Welham fully at work: A rendition of a treasure hoard that spits out one coin per day is, for example, just glorious: Think about it for a second - how does that influence local economy? Where do the coins come from, if they're not generated from scratch? Are they permanent or a type of fool's gold? A lot of potential here! What about bronze fish statuettes that swim in the water? Replica windmills that can be used to crush walnuts? This table is glorious.


The 3rd table herein, once again 50 entries long, features some rather unique books - whether it's "On the Safe Rearing of Basilisks", "Brain Surgery for Dragons" or "Planets in Alignment", a book pertaining to constellations that are soon about to come to pass, the pdf's books can be considered to be intriguing, fun and, more importantly, either elicit grins, provide hints or even adventure hooks.


Among the 50 esoteric objects in this pdf, one can find badger skeletons (including a scroll to reanimate the skeleton!), a ballista on wheels labeled "Cats only!", crystal ewers that can only be filled with rain water, doll heads missing eyes - this table similarly provides some evocative and foreboding visuals to enhance atmosphere in various ways.


The final table, once again 50 entries strong, provides odds and ends - blood-dripping over-sized meat-cleavers, coat racks holding jaunty clothes; noble outfits with "Disguises for heist" attached, scraps of letters pointing towards illicit love affairs, helmets improvised from steel buckets and delicate porcelain sets, to name a few, can be found in this table.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Nice!


Mike Welham has taken a rather hard task here - unlike as usual, there is precious few common ground to tread regarding the contents of bags of holding; there is no thematic red line to trod upon and thus, on a downside, the tables do feel a bit all over the place. That's also a strength of this pdf, though: With no significant restrictions imposed on creativity by themes, there are some truly delightfully creative hooks disguised as simple table entries here, with quite a few of them being simply inspiring.


As a whole, I felt that this was an inspired read, yes; but some of the items found herein do seem to me like they could have used some prices or at least minor magical rules/functions - at least for the PFRPG-version, which is btw. pretty identical to the system-neutral version. Granted, that's a staple for the series, but especially when considering items found in an iconic magic item, a bit of magic, a bit of treasure aspect, wouldn't have hurt this. Now, please bear in mind that I'm complaining at a VERY high level here - this is still an excellent buy and a great addition to the series. But from items found in a bag of holding, I would have expected a bit more meat. That whip fashioned from a squid's tentacle? Why not at least make it masterwork? Oh well, this still is, as mentioned, a great book, though one I prefer to see as a system-neutral book. As for my final verdict - the system-neutral version gets the full 5 stars + seal of approval. The PFRPG-version loses the seal due to the aforementioned complaints. In both iterations, this is a neat addition to the series, though.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Bag of Holding SNE
Click to show product description

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I Loot the Bag of Holding
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2016 11:14:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The latest installment in Raging Swan Press' "I Loot the..."-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf with a massive table of no less than 100 pieces of adventuring gear - and, in case you're wondering, they very much may be system-neutral and less crunchy that you could expect - but they are cool and diverse: A folding ladder, sticks that obscure the immediate area in purple smoke, camouflage nets for other biomes, differently colored sticks of chalk, dented breastplates - from the curious to the mundane, the table sports a solid diversity.


The second table herein sports 5o entries for artworks found in the bags of holding - and here, one can see the creativity of Mike Welham fully at work: A rendition of a treasure hoard that spits out one coin per day is, for example, just glorious: Think about it for a second - how does that influence local economy? Where do the coins come from, if they're not generated from scratch? Are they permanent or a type of fool's gold? A lot of potential here! What about bronze fish statuettes that swim in the water? Replica windmills that can be used to crush walnuts? This table is glorious.


The 3rd table herein, once again 50 entries long, features some rather unique books - whether it's "On the Safe Rearing of Basilisks", "Brain Surgery for Dragons" or "Planets in Alignment", a book pertaining to constellations that are soon about to come to pass, the pdf's books can be considered to be intriguing, fun and, more importantly, either elicit grins, provide hints or even adventure hooks.


Among the 50 esoteric objects in this pdf, one can find badger skeletons (including a scroll to reanimate the skeleton!), a ballista on wheels labeled "Cats only!", crystal ewers that can only be filled with rain water, doll heads missing eyes - this table similarly provides some evocative and foreboding visuals to enhance atmosphere in various ways.


The final table, once again 50 entries strong, provides odds and ends - blood-dripping over-sized meat-cleavers, coat racks holding jaunty clothes; noble outfits with "Disguises for heist" attached, scraps of letters pointing towards illicit love affairs, helmets improvised from steel buckets and delicate porcelain sets, to name a few, can be found in this table.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. Nice!


Mike Welham has taken a rather hard task here - unlike as usual, there is precious few common ground to tread regarding the contents of bags of holding; there is no thematic red line to trod upon and thus, on a downside, the tables do feel a bit all over the place. That's also a strength of this pdf, though: With no significant restrictions imposed on creativity by themes, there are some truly delightfully creative hooks disguised as simple table entries here, with quite a few of them being simply inspiring.


As a whole, I felt that this was an inspired read, yes; but some of the items found herein do seem to me like they could have used some prices or at least minor magical rules/functions - at least for the PFRPG-version, which is btw. pretty identical to the system-neutral version. Granted, that's a staple for the series, but especially when considering items found in an iconic magic item, a bit of magic, a bit of treasure aspect, wouldn't have hurt this. Now, please bear in mind that I'm complaining at a VERY high level here - this is still an excellent buy and a great addition to the series. But from items found in a bag of holding, I would have expected a bit more meat. That whip fashioned from a squid's tentacle? Why not at least make it masterwork? Oh well, this still is, as mentioned, a great book, though one I prefer to see as a system-neutral book. As for my final verdict - the system-neutral version gets the full 5 stars + seal of approval. The PFRPG-version loses the seal due to the aforementioned complaints. In both iterations, this is a neat addition to the series, though.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
I Loot the Bag of Holding
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

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