RPGNow.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse
 Publisher Info









Back
Other comments left by this customer:
AL 6 - Playing the Game (DCC)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 05:25:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This funnel for 0-level DCC-characters clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



All right, still here? So, how does this adventure begin? Well, each character has met an interesting, strange traveler from a far away land who challenges the PC for a game of Arbakampsi, an easy, tactical board-game first introduced in a Purple Duck Storeroom-installment. Upon agreeing, the unsuspecting heroes to be find themselves trapped upon the board - separated ad forced t play a variant of the very game from within. In order to triumph, they have to understand their own predicament. Now the interesting component here would be that each character voices his/her intended action and then, after all have spoken, the judge tells the results.



The respective rings of the colored board (which is btw. provided in this supplement) feature challenges - beyond combat with serpents of water and windpigs, each ring also sports a puzzle - and these are interesting - like showing a player a circular message for ONE second - the only way out; requiring the PCs to work together.



In the central ring, a series of questions tests the mind of the PCs further - success at these questions may net the PCs elemental lords as patrons and corresponding benefits, whereas failure has them confront deadly, weapon-destroying duplicates.



The elemental princes/princesses Grom, Splaasha and Krakaal are provided alongside rules for spell-burn for them and advice on scaling/adapting the module and properly playing the game can be found herein as well - quite a feat at this brevity!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed n significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks and a colored arbakampsi-board. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr is best when creating odd societies and believable environments or when going utterly bonkers - this module is a fine example of the latter - this uncommon take on the classic trope is dauntingly different: With a focus on player-smarts above PC-luck, this is a surprisingly challenging, thinking man's module and an uncommon, cool introduction to a given campaign, its potential for scaling further making this easily adapted to other systems and levels - since the scenario and the puzzles are the bulk of the module, this is an extremely versatile little gem. Uncommon, creative and fun, this pdf deserves a final rating of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
AL 6 - Playing the Game (DCC)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2014 05:14:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' Alternate Dungeon-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As in the first installment of the series, we begin with basic considerations for making the change of scenery to the alternate dungeon interesting - this time emphasizing the importance of mirrors, evil emanations and stuck doors before beginning with advice on running the place - with animated objects, sounds, decrepit structures etc. helping in keeping up the atmosphere. Here, the house fares better than the groves, while in the suggested treasures, things necessarily become a bit more generic.



The suggested function, here more a combination of ambient effects and background story is more versatile than in the first installment. Once again, the pdf comes with advice on "harvesting" dressing, which feels a bit out of place in direct comparison to the groves -how does one harvest e.g. portraits that follow the players with their eyes? How does one harvest echoing footsteps? That being said, the dressing-table this time around does not have the filler roll twice/thrice and generally has quite an array of glorious entries that will especially help novices to the genre of horror make the stay at a haunted house memorable.



Now the haunted house denizens suggested as adversaries are more or less what you'd expect - ye olde' assortment of undead and the same holds true for the 3 haunts - dancing decor, arcane locking doors and the suggested hazards are rather conservative.



The 3 adventure hooks included are solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as flawless as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks as well as fully bookmarked. Additionally, you receive two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one optimized for the printer.



Alexander Augunas' alternate dungeon-suggestions for haunted houses are solid especially for novice DMs looking for inspiration regarding haunted houses. Now if you're a veteran Ravenloft/CoC/etc.-DM, then this one probably won't blow you away - the helpful considerations were okay, yes, but e.g. escape prevention (a default trope in haunted houses!) is glossed over, as is the general location of the house. Harvesting suggestions for dressings feel weird in the context of the haunted house and the supplemental reskins/hazards are old tricks for veterans. Whether this pdf is for you very much depends on your experience with horror modules in old mansions - if you're a veteran, don't expect to find much new herein - unlike the installment on mystic groves, the mansions uniqueness is derived more from story and individual dressing and this pdf, by nature of its scope, is hard-pressed in providing enough on that front. If, on the other hand, you are a novice DM or simply have no experience with these types of set-ups, then this will make for a good step-by-step guideline for you, collecting some of the classic tricks and considerations. My final verdict will hence clock in at a final verdict between "good and useful for novices" and "nothing for veterans" of 3 stars - quintessentially, a solid pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Haunted House
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Ultimate War
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2014 04:09:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third expansion of the kingdom building/mass combat rules presented in Ultimate Campaign, expanded by the very man who wrote the original rules, clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages on how-to-use/what to expect, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This supplement kick off by eliminating two of my most serious gripes with the base mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign. Number one: Ultimate Campaign does not distinguish between ranged and melee capacity, instead subsuming both under the termino umbrellone of OM, Offense Modifier. This resulted potentially in ridiculous scenarios of elven archer beating orc berserkers in melee. Ultimate War gets rid of OM in favor of separate Melee Value and Ranged Values, abbreviated MV and RV. YES!!! Secondly, the hit points as an abstract measurement to determine an army's deceased is replaced with casualties - which can be tracked individually/separately for sub-units etc., allowing much more detailed and finer tactical nuances. Best of all - both allow for easy downscaling back into Ultimate Campaign's base system, if you prefer the simpler take.



Leadership Bonus of a commander is equal to +1 for every full 5 ranks in Profession (Soldier) and high BABs (+6, +11, +16), Wis or Cha modifiers, certain feats etc. can further increase this bonus. The rather rudimentary selection of command boons is also expanded by this supplement - and the boons are great - Battlefield illumination (or making light-conditions worse!), autosupplying itself, con/desecrate battlefields, divine healing or barrages, smoke screens or particular proficiency when deployed against aerial armies - glorious! Have I mentioned the awesome effects of war chants or the option to execute precise, less damaging assaults via surgical strikes? Brilliant!



Speaking of which - combined arms. Where the general army as a base unit type would be the catch-all default, the rules provided herein allow for a finer distinction. Via these rules, armies are made up of units, which in turn can be made up of several divisions. This is analogue to the distinctions between fleet->squadron->ships. The number of soldiers in a unit is the same as the one in the default rules' army. Creating a unit follows, according to these rules, simple steps - you pay and gather them, you assign a commander (with PCs being particularly potent!) - which influences the amount of divisions in a unit a commander can handle - 3+ cha-mod, max 5 divisions can be contained and losing a division penalizes the unit. Each division can take casualties equal to its ACR before being defeated - this concludes that each unit has hit points equal to ACR times 5. Divisions reduced to 0 hp can be healed normally, but additional damage annihilates them. MV and RV are ACR+leadership bonus of the commander, provided the unit is properly equipped. If not all divisions are equipped to execute one type of attack, the overall value suffers - cool!



Morale score is the kingdom's loyalty divided by 20, min 1, max 10 and determines all the psychological components. A default value and advice for using morale sans kingdom building (Kudos!!) can also be found here. Determining overland movement, scouting capacity, camouflage, name and home-base - in 12 easy steps, just about every DM should be able to create an army - on my first try, it took me less than 5 minutes to properly apply these rules and generate a unit - WITH double-checking that I got everything right.

Each army may contain a number of units equal to the general's cha-mod+3, further increased by leadership, certain boons, etc. Battle Phases are influenced by the new distinctions between ranged and melee values - hence, a concise run-down of the phases is provided, thankfully including proper inclusion of not only the new casualties mechanic. It should also be noted that recruiting armies works perfectly in synergy with Ultimate Rulership as well as the base system. Applying simplified combats between aerial and naval ships etc. would also be discussed here. Now I've already mentioned aerial combat and indeed, aerial reconnaissance, altitude levels, visibility, concise effects of different wind strengths - the peculiarities of aerial combat are well addressed in sufficient details - from balloons to flying carpets and floating fortresses, this chapter adds the third dimension to mass combat - war rockets, solar sailors - every companion of the firmaments-using campaign should consider this the way to add mass combat to their arrays - glorious! (Be honest - you always wanted to fight dragons while aboard a war rocket!) And yes, this does provide full DVs, cover, dmg, stall, crash etc. values - and if that doesn't mean anything to you by now, then only because you don't have the pdf before you - the system is ridiculously easy to grasp and concise in its presentation.



Easy to grasp stats for vessels with drift speeds or those being able to climb altitudes, hovering etc. - all here and supplemented further by 12 unique tactics - from soaring sweeps to dogfighting and strafing runs, aerial combat has scarcely been this awesome and tactical! Now, of course this opens a whole new field - i.e. the combat of earthbound units versus airborne assailants - and from options like digging in to using grapnel shots, a whole new dimension, literally, is added to mass combat. Now if that isn't yet enough for you, let's take a look at yet another expansion - the one to the sea. "But wait, EZG," you say "I already have 3 systems for naval combats to choose from and didn't you say that Frog God Games' "Fire as She Bears" was absolutely awesome? Yes, I did, and I still consider the system the best naval combat system available for any d20-iteration. However, we're not talking about skirmishes between a couple of vessels, we're talking about the clash of whole fleets! And for that, well, let's just say that the rules herein apply the same thoroughness to naval warfare as to that in the skies - depth zones (which allow for submarines and magical threats), wind effects and naval units...ask and ye shall find herein. By the way: All you require, once again provided in detail including required buildings to procure them (forgot to mention that regarding aerial units - yes, when used with kingdom-building, required buildings etc. are provided!) alongside massive tables of sample vessels in one handy tome. Want to know the level of detail these rules support - the difficulty of fighting back once your vessel's been sunk may impose a massive penalty, but it doesn't mean that your unit can't take down a hostile ship.

Which also becomes relevant since the system utilizes one unified frame of rules. Why is that important? Let's say a unit of sahuagin on board of a balloon has attacked your galley; You manage to put down the balloon and it crashes into the sea - you can continue playing all levels of combats like that with one single system. Want to play the fantasy-equivalent of the D-Day? Go ahead, these rules have you covered! Now while there is bound to be some overlap with the aerial tactics, I should not fail to mention that naval combat also receives quite an array of unique, naval tactics that add even more options to the fray.



Now sooner or later, assault on fortifications is bound to happen - and if you ever tried to use ultimate combat and campaign in one and the same campaign, you may have noticed some discrepancy there - instead of assuming abstract siege engines to be a part of a given unit, we receive a special, Knowledge (engineering)-and int-based LB to determine how commanders of units of artillery work - which makes MUCH more sense and allows for generals to specifically target these weapons...

Speaking of strategies - the array of ranged and close-quarters siege weaponry and the vast array of associated strategies, from bombardment (e.g. via smoke, plagued corpses, etc...) to infiltration and scatter volleys makes for a superb selection of choices - even before the 7 new magical siege weapons - like apocalypse zombie siege shots, adamantine rams or ooze-siege shots - glorious!



The pdf also comes with a neat index of the tables for quick reference and it should be noted that perfect rules-synergy with Ultimate Campaign, Ultimate Rulership and Ultimate Battle is maintained.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard with awesome full-color artworks. The pdf is relatively printer-friendly and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also contains the good type of hyperlink, making the rules presented even easier to grasp.



Jason Nelson took a *long* time making this final piece of the triumvirate of expansions and refinements to Paizo's kingdom building/mass-combat system (which he also wrote, just fyi). It is not a big surprise then, that the resulting books, unfettered from the limitations of page-count and relative simplicity, have been an utter BLAST to read and use. Offering options to get rid of some overly generic simplifications of the base system, the first two books were beyond superb and managed to add so incredibly much to the base systems I never, ever want to play kingdom building and mass combat without their options again.



Now the thing is - Ultimate War was pending and its task was to close the final gaps and cover the true clash of armies, remembering all the small modifications AND refining the base system. I'll make this short:



If you even remotely plan to run mass combat BUY THIS NOW. The additional options, even if you use neither aerial, nor naval or siege combat, are GOLD: The fact that they work perfectly together makes for truly dynamic mass combat. the vast expansion of boons and tactics translate to mass combat that is infinitely more exciting, strategic and ultimately fun. Now it's perhaps due to approximately 15K points of warhammer miniatures in my attic, but I expect some tactical options from a given system and Ultimate War's expansion fits the bill perfectly - indeed, the variance and peculiarities of aerial combat and naval combat allow for a finer gradation in these areas.



The most impressive component of these rules, beyond their modularity and synergy, though, would be the fact that this one system supports not only all those particular special cases, it allows for transparency and overlap between them - ships that can turn aerial? Why not! Cadres of wyrms rising from the waves to take to the skies, then land and wreck havoc among the elven archers?? Go for it, with this book, you can properly portray that - and the dogfight between the draconic assault and the giant eagle riding knights in the air! The assault of the gnomish submersible-riding saboteurs on the siege-weapon bearing frigate. This book is glorious, a must-buy for everyone who considered the base rules of Ultimate Campaign too simple, too rudimentary - with this, you could conceivably play a thoroughly compelling, interesting, strategic CAMPAIGN of warfare - and honestly, I'd probably have a nerdgasm if Legendary Games released a full mass combat-AP using these rules. For now, I have to plot, devise strategies and generate *a lot* of adventure material; I just have resolved to up the emphasis on war in my current campaign!



This book is brilliant, a worthy successor to its stellar companion books, and well worth a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval + nomination as a candidate for my top ten of 2014. An absolute must-buy-level tome and one that also receive the endzeitgeist essential-tag as one of the must-have tomes for a campaign!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate War
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Town Backdrop: Wolverton
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2014 04:02:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page statblocks by CR-index, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First of all, this is a kind of full circle for me - when I started reviewing, Raging Swan Press' free mini-setting The Lonely Coast immediately grabbed my attention and made me buy Retribution, their first module. Now, hundreds of reviews of Raging Swan Press-supplements later, this book provides the fully detailed information on the largest settlement in that remote stretch of land, the town of Wolverton. Hence, it is only appropriate that we begin this book with a proper introduction to the stretch of land, including traveling distances, weather etc.



Now, if you know the village backdrop-series (and you SHOULD!), you'll be familiar with the formula used for this town - we receive a full-blown town statblock, information on what magic items can be bought, town lore, nomenclature, dressing habits, etc. However, as befitting of a larger settlement, Wolverton is more than just a village on steroids.



This becomes readily apparent from the extremely detailed map to the sheer number of notable places provided. (As always, player friendly maps can be downloaded on raging Swan Press' homepage.) 28 different notable locations at a glance are provided, and for conveniences sake and to help navigation, we also have them grouped by type - see, THAT is considerate! Wolverton is a walled city at the coast, situated atop some cliffs and the castle of the local pseudo-aristocracy, the Lochers, situated on a promontory. The town features a quarter separated from the rest of the town by cliffs (keep the rabble out) and sports a massive river flowing through it, the Arisum. Hence, the town also features several bridges that span the river and the town is fortified with solid walls.



So far, so good - but what is going on in the place? Well, a metric ton of things: let's begin with whispers and rumors - as opposed to just 6 for a village, we receive a FULL PAGE of 50 rumors, each of which has the potential to spark a full-blown adventure! Another example for this pdf going above and beyond would be the inclusion of information for kingdom-building and using Wolverton in conjunction with such a campaign. Festivals and traditions like "Wolf's Night" provide more than just a bit of local color, in the aforementioned example, townsfolk bake wolf-shaped biscuits and children get to eat fang-shaped sweet bread while adults in wolf skin walk the streets to scare children. Now if you can't use this festival to e.g. convert something Halloween/samhain-themed or make a lycanthrope-plot more interesting, I don't know! Weekly markets and a total of no less than 50 entries of sights and sounds (think of them as mini-hooks, dressing, etc.) spanning two-pages further enhance the unique and detailed perspective one gets of the glorious town.



Of course, if you prefer hooks to be less subtle, perhaps the 50-entry strong, two-page spanning table of events might do - from street urchins trying to steal from the PCs to being recruited for the theatre to pouring rain that renders the muddy roads difficult terrain, these events not only are interesting, they are, most of the time, downright inspiring, especially for the brevity with which they have to work. Oh, and if THAT still is not enough, you'll be happy to know that properly and fully developed hooks are interspersed throughout the whole book.



Now the town itself has plenty of truly interesting locales and places to inspire the prospective DM - take an inn, " The Hare and the Ass", which has recently been taken over by a half-orc. Said half-orc was raised by dwarves and thus knows the recipe of the Thunderhammer clan's famous beer, seeing quite a few visitors as a result - in spite of the latent xenophobia exhibited towards the green-skin.



While at no point obtrusive, fans of Raging Swan press will rejoice at e.g. small Easter-eggs and tie-ins with Hosford and other locales in and around the Lonely Coast. What this pdf acts like, can be best described as the massive linchpin that ties the whole of the Lonely Coast and its peculiarities together, rendering the whole picture more concise - while adding flourishes to just about every component of the area.



The various taverns, people controlled by intelligent helmets - we have *a lot* going on here - including strange experiments, no less than 3(!!!) major smuggling gangs (including their own conflicts, moralities, leaders and headquarters), burgeoning sorcerous power among those that should not e able to exhibit it (and some intrigue there...) - we have * A LOT* going on in this town - enough to cover a bunch of PC-levels!



Beyond this extremely detailed town, though, we also receive statblocks of its inhabitants - from merchants and peasants, reeves and high priests, rulers, veteran watchmen and a whole slew of smugglers and low-lives can be found herein - including the signature detailed fluff to supplement all of the named NPC-statblocks - background story, personality, mannerisms, distinguishing features and character-specific hooks - anything you ask for, it's here.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' b/w-two-column standard, is printer-friendly and generally nice to look at. The artworks range from thematically fitting stock art to pieces I haven't seen before and the cartography is awesome - the town makes sense and looks rather neat. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one to be printed out, and both come excessively bookmarked.



I can't comment on the print-edition since I do not own it (yet).



John Bennett delivers the final missing piece of the puzzle that is The Lonely Coast and much like many a puzzle, this one piece makes the whole picture seem all the more enticing. As a hub full of adventuring potential, Wolverton elevates the other pdfs in and around the Lonely Coast by serving as a plausible, cool town full of local color, nice customs and adventuring potential. Even when used on its own, though, the town shines - Wolverton has taken to heart all the little improvements of the "small" series- extremely detailed, with rumors, sights and hooks galore, it also provides a multitude of flavors of adventuring it supports: Wilderness? No problem. Dungeon? Why not. Coastal caves? Covered. Courtly intrigue? Possible. Shadow War? Jup, feasible. You name it, this place has the means to provide an extremely detailed canvas for your brush.



Wolverton is more than just an oversized village backdrop - it is a full-blown, thriving, pulsing town rife with adventure potential, a place filled to the brim with details and local color, expertly crafted to serve as a hub for PCs, to support a plethora of playing styles...and still retain a unique identity. An impressive feat indeed and well worth 5 stars + my seal of approval, as well as a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Wolverton
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Animal Races: Clan of the Cat
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2014 03:52:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Animal Races-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf with a superbly-written piece of in-character prose, provided by a feline therian, extolling the virtues and peculiarities of cats and their experience - for example the custom to measure time in 12-hour-cycles. The level of detail provided for the feline therians is up to all expectations - age, height and weight-table, relationships, adventuring - all covered.



Rules-wise, we receive two different attribute arrays - medium catfolk receive +2 Dex, -2 Wis, while small catfolk receive +2 Dex, -2 Str. Small catfolk receive a base speed of 20 ft., medium catfolk the normal 30 ft. Members of the clan of the cat also receive low-light vision, scent, natural armor +1 (increase to +2 at 10th level), a primary natural bite attack of 1d4/1d3 (M/S) and have these base traits modified by the chosen clan:

Cats receive +2 to Int and may choose Cat Clan Heritage as a rogue talent, cheetahs receive +2 Cha and may use Cha as governing attribute for monk class features and receive the Cat Clan Sprinter-feat as a monk bonus feat. Leopards also receive +2 to Cha, which somewhat conflicts with the fluff, which asserts their toughness and athleticism - was Con intended here? Anyway, they may choose Cat Clan Lurker as a rogue talent. Lion Clan members also receive +2 Cha and may select Cat Clan Heritage as a rage power. Lynx Academy members who left their clan receive +2 to Int and may opt for Cat Clan Heritage as an alchemist discovery. Tiger clan members receive +2 Int and can select Cat Clan Heritage as a witch's hex.



Now the modularity of the race goes beyond that - the three aforementioned feats (Cat Clan Heritage, Cat Clan Lurker and Cat Clan Sprinter) can be taken multiple times and allow for the progressive accumulation of additional racial traits, which include claws, climb speeds, faster movement etc. - the interesting component here would be the fact that e.g. adding the grab quality to bites, increasing bite damage etc. - the available options scale within the feats: Upon taking a feat a certain amount of times, your selection is broadened to include advanced tricks and options Pounce, rake etc. - all possible, but only at the investment of a significant amount of resources -as they should be. I tried hard to break these three feats and balance-wise, they withstood my endeavors -kudos!



Now, as with the Clan of the Dog, proper heraldry is provided for the clan, and we receive a deity-write-up, this time Ishtar, and the folkloristic take on somewhat feline monsters - from the borrowed pugwampis to shiras and silvanshees, we receive a lot of rather damn cool pieces of information that help ground and root the Clan of the Cat within the framework of a campaign. Now, if you haven't read my review of Clan of the Dog, you should be aware that aforementioned heraldic symbols also double as traits to choose from. Relationships among sub-species and with other clans are also covered.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, easy to read and elegant two-column b/w-standard well complemented by the fitting b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Eric Morton's Animal Races-series ranks among the most impressive discoveries that has landed on my virtual desk in quite a while, at least as far as race-pdfs are concerned - so far, I have read two and both provided superb content, extremely modular, balanced races - and much like the pdf on dogs, the feline therians just brim with imagination, style and wonder. Studded to an almost unprecedented brim with grand ideas, this pdf offers a varied and distinct take on catfolk - to the point where, for the very first time, I consider catfolk more than just elves with fur and will allow them in my game. Not only thanks to the rock-solid rules, but mainly due to this pdf generating a distinct, viable identity for these feline fellows. If my gushing wasn't indication enough - this pdf is a true steal and well worth the low asking price - final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Cat
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Savage Alternate Class
Publisher: Forest Guardian Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:10:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate class clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



No the terminology might be considered a problem from the get-go - the word "Savage" constitutes more than a direct opposition to "civilized men." Hence, the 1st page is devoted to an explanation that acknowledges that this pdf is not based on any real life cultures -I applaud this maturity. If you're interested in the genesis of the development and meanings associated with this particular dichotomy, feel free to drop me a line.



The Savage class is an alternate class for both barbarian and monk, meaning that multiclassing into either is prohibited. The class receives d12, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with axes and generally, stone age-style weapons - a comprehensive guideline for savage weapons and armors would be included here, allowing for further, campaign world specific customizations of proficiencies. When wearing medium or heavy armor, the savage loses both fast movement, furious blows and the AC-bonus. It should also be noted that the savage can add two skills of their choice as tribal lore to their array of class skills.



The class also receives full BAB-progression, good fort and ref-saves, an AC (and CMD!)-bonus scaling up to +5 and increased movement rate scaling up to +60 ft. What are furious blows? Well, at first level, the savage can execute +1 attack, imposing a -2 penalty to all attacks. These scale upwards at 8th and 15th level and these attacks may only be executed with savage weapons. Interestingly, the ability manages to get two-weapon fighting rules-interaction right - there is none this time around and this is good in this case - the ability is rather powerful, though thankfully, certain massive weapons have an additional penalty applied.



Now the savage may also enter a primal state as a full-round action that provokes AoOs. Said state can be maintained up to 24 hours and provides +2 to Intimidate, Handle Animals and Sense Motive skill checks and Improved Unarmed Strike as a feat, which also works for the purposes of feat-prerequisites - nice catch! Additionally, the state can be expended to power abilities and feats, somewhat akin to how psionic foci work - the lists of feats/powers contain the necessary information for which needs the expenditure. Instead of a rage, savages may enter so-called rampages for up to 4+con-mod rounds per day, +2 per additional class level. While in a rampage, savages receive +2 to will-saves, acrobatics, climb and swim-checks. Now rampage also offers temporary hit points equal to foe's HD for every enemy reduced to 0 hit points or below - surprisingly, the ability comes absolutely kitten-proof - no way to abuse this! Gloriously done!



Now the next thing would be a bit complex, so bear with me - savages of 2nd level (and every even level thereafter) may select a monk's bonus feat or a barbarian rage power as a savage power, though the latter only work while rampaging. Evasion and improved evasion may be chosen as well, the latter thankfully with a level-cap. A massive list of rage powers from core, APG and UC are provided and yes, the pdf is smart enough to prevent combinations of different totem rage powers. The class also receives uncanny dodge at 2nd level (improved at 5th) and a scaling danger sense that translates to a bonus to initiative and a bonus to AC when being attacked by ranged weapons in the surprise round - nice spider-sense! Savages also receive scaling bonuses versus diseases and poisons that turn to immunity at very high levels.



Also rather nice - savages may learn to receive bonuses versus particular spell schools (including psionic ones!), but this is not where we stop:



At 4th level, the savage receives a pool of feral points equal to 1/2 class level +con-mod. As long as the pool contains at least 1 point, rampaging savages may have weapons count as magic for DR-purposes and at 9th level, also as cold iron/silver. When in primal state, a savage may expend 1 point from the feral pool as a swift action to increase movement by 20 ft for 1 round, +2 natural AC for 1 round, +20 (!!!) acrobatics for jumping purposes only or +1 to critical confirmation rolls for con-mod rounds. Additionally, 4th level savages may expend feral points to quickly heal non-lethal damage or diminish the duration of some negative conditions.



At 7th level, savages heal even without resting at an increased natural rate and increases the amount of conditions they can diminish. Where math became complex for me would be the option to expend 2 feral points for +1 round of rampage - think of all the combinations possible...



At 11th level, savages receive ferocity and the truly high-level savages may enter blood rages. The capstone makes the savage tougher and makes criting them very hard - but this is not where we stop; This pdf also provides quite a few archetypes, first of which would be the Dread Savage. Instead of entering a primal state, these guys may enter a kind of death-like trance that has them count as undead, but still allows them to be healed by positive energy - provided they succeed a concentration-check. Their rampage allows them to render targets hit by their wight strikes shaken, allowing the dread savage to expend rounds of rage for additional slam attacks (no synergy with furious blows, though) and the archetype also receives a debuff aura , increased saves versus level-drain etc. The dread pool the archetype has, also allows for wholly unique benefits and 3 new rage powers complement the package.



The second archetype would be the Noble Savage - noble savages receive an unleashed presence in lieu of rampaging, use their cha-mod to determine their pool and may expend said points to grant themselves cha-mod as bonus to saves for 1 round. It should be mentioned that the presence has the bonuses applied to completely social skills and that it's governed by cha as well. Almost perfect negotiators, they can grant themselves massive bonuses to bluff, but thankfully not for feinting purposes.



Next up would be a special treat with the phrenic savage alternate class, a psionic alternative to the base savage - these guys receive changed save-progressions, a limited array of power points (scaling from 1 to 70), governed by wisdom. The phrenic savage also receives unlocked talent and a pretty limited array of psionic tricks thus, later learning to use wis to govern it instead of cha. Phrenic savages may expend power points to temporarily grant them rapid metabolism and similar feats, including a kind of DR versus ability score reduction (somewhat unfortunately named "ability", making it slightly more opaque than it should be). The improved fiery discorporation capstone at 20th level is also rather nice, though the phrenic savage pays for the psionic tricks with both the flurry-like trick and the rampages. Still, would have loved the class to mention for what it is an alternate class - I *assume* full multiclassing potential, but I'm pretty sure the class probably ought to have some limit. The 4 psionic feats used by the alternate class and the two psionic powers are provided in here as well.



We also receive a final page of primitive weapons, courtesy of Little Red Goblin Games, ranging from the great macuahuitl to the gunstock club - these are all solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while, in some instances, wording is slightly less precise than I would have wanted it to be, over all, the pdf manages to handle the complex content rather well. Minor issues like the "st/nd/rd/th" missing behind the numbers in the class level table of the Phrenic Savage can be considered generally cosmetic. The pdf comes with glorious, original full-color pieces of art and the 2-column b/w-standard generally is printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Morgan Boehringer (lead developer), with Jim Wettstein (and additional content by Keil Hubert and Christos Gurd), just delivers. There's no way around it, the savage may be the most interesting melee-base-class I've seen in quite a while - it is powerful and I was honestly surprised that it fared so well in playtest and turned out to be rather well-balanced. This is honestly the level of awesomeness I would have expected from each and every ACG-class. The savage has more options than either monk or barbarian, without invalidating the parent classes. The additional content just represents the icing on the cake. The psionic variant class is also solid, though it feels slightly less inspired - mainly because the class does not have that many tricks up its sleeve - the unlocked talent route does not necessarily provide a selection of powers to use, which the pdf seems to imply. Unlocked Talents nets the phrenic savage exactly ONE power, which is prescribed by the pdf. Why not provide at least a slight array of e.g. psychometabolism choices?



The psionic savage is simply not half as interesting and flexible as the base class and thus, would be one of my minor complaints. Another minor issue would be the 19th level of the savage class, which is a dead level. Now are these minor issues? Yes. Is the overall class AWESOME? HECK YEAH! The savage constitutes a damn cool addition to any kind of group, is fluff-wise easily implemented, complex, yet easy to grasp and would be 5 stars + seal of approval were it not for aforementioned minor glitches. With the slight imperfections, which in no way spoil this otherwise damn cool class, I will instead settle "only" for a final verdict of 5 stars. Consider this the monk/barbarian-class the ACG should have delivered, but didn't.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Alternate Class
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Lucien's Guide: The Black Files (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:07:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

If you read this review, one of the following is true:



1. You're me. Hello, handsome devil!

2. I have shared this information with you - don't screw this up!

3.You have stolen this homepage - I have been notified of your identity and location.

4. You have killed me. Good for you, but you have eliminated the ward that left a whole bunch of nastiness in check.

5. I have died and you took up my mantle - good for you, but I hope I've had the chance to provide the keys, because I wasn't joking in 4.

...

This intro mirrors (in less vivid prose) how this guide begins - to give you an inkling of the level of quality of the writing. The pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 12 pages of raw content, so what is contained in these pages?



This pdf blasts off with a rant that actually had me laugh - on the nature of scholarship and misidentifying artifact and relics as Typhonian - only to provide what can only be called a cornucopia of diverse theories regarding the nature of Typhonians - as in the best of LoGaS-supplements, the content herein is all about potential - the theories are provided with cues to what is or may be true, but no universal monolithic truth is prescribed - we receive ideas: How the Typhonians and the grand stair interact, for example. What actually constitutes a Typhonian as to opposed what makes one an Echidnan - the added diversity makes for a truly compelling addition to the lore.



The second file contains information on a civilization kind of lost - the Ildari. A vast star-spanning empire that has been subject to a cataclysm, much like Warhammer 40 K's empire, it still looms strong, if not as powerful as before - having mastered space travel, the Ildari may make for a cool addition to one's world, especially since the Grand Stair as an alternative (including the opposition that uses it) may very well see a massive conflict brewing...awesome! Especially since proper mechanics for Ildari supplement the information provided -secret realms, arrays and cosmos make for great additions for the DM to weave stories around!



The third file kicks off with an amusing rant on the cliché of an evil overlord who called himself "Harbinger" - alas, the irreverent tone of the narrator is only half justified - unlike many similar pseudo-villains that think they're big shots until a Gossamer Lord/Lady puts them in their place, this guy actually had a very powerful patron - an entity called Matekai. This entity gobbles up world. Yes. And the irreverent tone might be justified, but on the other hand, this creature may be a Typhonian...or something completely different.



Speaking of different (and to me, profoundly frightening) - Basta. A plant that controls the biome of its whole world, the size of a town, which must have consumed an entity of significant power, receiving impossible knowledge. Worse, its strange psychology makes for a difficult decision on whether it is benign or simply amoral...and it's rooting on other planets.... *shudders*



The modification Basta-controlled for worlds and attributes for lesser and greater basta are provided.



A total of 4 diverse mini-hooks of outstanding Black Files are also provided before we're introduced to the Black Office -and the caretaker of the files, one lady Kitabu, fully portrayed in all her glory as an NPC servant of Lucien.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes studded with GLORIOUS full-color artwork of the highest quality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



It is, in one word, ASTOUNDING how many awesome ideas Rob Donoghue has managed to cram into these pages - the content herein is universally inspiring, top-notch, and each and every Black File quoted herein can fuel an adventure, perhaps even a campaign. This book is one brilliant, superb supplement full of awesome ideas and should be considered not only a great buy for LoGaS-fans, but also for any DMs looking for inspiration (or simply a good read!) beyond what one usually receives in pdfs.



Final verdict? A must-buy LoGaS-pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide: The Black Files (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Flaws II
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:05:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so what do we get?



Well, if the title wasn't clue enough - more flaws. What are they? They can be summed up as anti-feats. They can be taken at 1st level and every character can only have two flaws Each flaw grants 3 skill points or one bonus feat, but if a character takes 2 flaws, he may choose each benefit only once. Flaws can only be taken at first level as written, though DMs may elect to grant them later - at their own peril.



Now each flaw has a specific type of penalty associated with it and a cost to buy it off. Unless I've miscounted, a total number of 30 new flaws are contained within these pages. So what do flaws do? well, take the one that makes you an orthodox druid who may not use metal, tools as well as a -3 penalty to all cha-based interactions with civilized folk, with violations potentially increasing this penalty even up to -5. At 5th level (and no sooner), Skill Focus (Diplomacy) as a feat accompanied by atonement may buy off the flaw.



Now if you've read the original pdf on flaws, you'll notice something - the minimum level requirements to pay them off. This is perhaps my favorite piece to be added to the concept herein - in the original pdf, some flaws could immediately be paid off. This, while easily handled in a mature group, somewhat opened the system towards being gamed, while the new flaws do not have that...flaw. Yeah, sorry, I'll put a buck in the bad pun jar.



Now back to the concepts - being in debt, cursed, addicted (with scaling benefits/penalties!), being too flirtatious or frail or being a monk with an inner turmoil - the flaws herein are generally not only superior to the first book, they are better balanced among themselves and the selection of class-specific flaws is glorious! Being lovelorn, an honor-bound paladin - several of the flaws herein just ooze style and enhance a character's personality. Phobias, kleptomania, suffering from tribal taboos - the respective array of options is diverse, unique and fun.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity - nice!



Robert W. Thomson's Flaws are damn cool - I've been playing with the original ones for some time and my only gripe with them was that they could be gamed sans gentlemen's agreements. The new flaws do not suffer from this drawback...at least to this extent, which brings me to the *one* thing I do not like about this pdf - Paizo has since introduced minor and major drawbacks in Ultimate Campaign and a short note for each flaw on whether this would be more in line with either for a tighter synergy of systems would be awesome to have. That being said, I am of the firm conviction that the flaws herein can make for more interesting characters and concepts, with plenty of hooks enhancing them, while providing tangible benefits for the players to take them. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flaws II
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Subterranean Enclave: Severed Umbra
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:29:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This first installment of Raging Swan Press' Subterranean Enclave-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What is this series about? Well, in one sentence: "Village Backdrops for the Underworld." That's the truth in theory - i.e. you'll find a settlement statblock, a market place, a couple of notable folk and places, lore and rumors, sample events - by now you know the formula that works so extremely well. In practice, this is rather different beyond the formal criteria. Once, when the slums of the city of Fairhaven plummeted into the underdark, squashing an enclave of dark folk and subsequently cutting off the survivors from both the upper world and the realms below, people were forced to work together - the result being a most unlikely constellation:



In Severed Umbra, now once again opened and a vibrant trading spot with the realms below, regular folk coexist with the enigmatic dark folk, having adopted their mannerisms and habit of dressing. Surrounding a lake that is the home to weird phosphorescent fish makes for a cool general location and the village is also sporting a place where lizards are cultivated for their meat as well as a dark rag outfitter, psychotropic shroom addicts, a psychotic halfling evoker ( level 9, fully statted) and a fully statted dark stalker co-leader of the town. Beyond these obvious hooks, acclimatization to the dark and actually kind dark stalker healers (!!!) make for further odd, yet pleasant peculiarities.



Better yet, aforementioned sample events prove to be pretty helpful in driving home the special considerations a place like this requires.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' two-column b/w--standard, with superb cartography in b/w. As always, you can download player-friendly maps on Raging Swan's homepage. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer, with both being fully bookmarked.



I couldn't have imagined a more suitable writer to kick off the new series - Mike Welham's Severed Umbra is delightfully unconventional and distinct, with more hooks than you'd imagine to find in the pages of such a supplement - possibly even enough to base a whole campaign on this camp of former outcasts, forged together into an unlikely unity. The one problem I see with this pdf is that it sets a very high standard for the whole series and the pdfs to come - I hope other authors can match this cool locale. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for a great place indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Enclave: Severed Umbra
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Genius Guide to More Ranger Talents
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:27:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 11 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



A total of 7 new edges are provided - which sounds like not much. Well, they cover pages 2 -5: What I'm trying to say is - they are LONG. A total of 16 companion tricks, from trample to grab etc. - all those NASTY monster qualities, are for example part of the tricks! Or what about more hunter's tricks like one that prevents AoOs from spells or spell-like abilities? What about upgrading movement to flying, but with the caveat that you have to end your movement on solid ground or fall - WuXia-rangers, anyone? Oh, and fighter feats. Yeah.



A total of 13 new talents are also provided - including unnatural auras, a revenge smite for killing animal companions, fast stealth in the right terrain, etc. 5 new advanced talents, allow you to make overland chases hard for your enemies (Yeah!), see through plant matter and even using level-checks to temporarily disable abilities of favored enemies.



We also receive a massive 8 new Grand Talents - restoring favored allies from the dead, adding the advanced template to animal companions, free withdraws after hitting foes for ultimate skirmishing... the options are deadly and nasty indeed! Or want to make your spells supernatural? There you go!



The final page groups the talents by theme and does something awesome - it provides advice for using Rogue Genius Games Ranger's Knacks and the talents of Kobold Press' Spell-less Ranger. Nice shout-out and cool to see!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



The options provided in this expansion of the talented ranger are powerful - some of the animal tricks, especially when taken out of context, can result in really nasty tricks and the same goes for some of the other options herein - so yes, imho this is a power-level upgrade for the Talented Ranger. Owen K.C. Stephens has obviously left the more experimental pieces for this expansion, nut unlike the book on the barbarian, the talents herein feel more inspired, more unique and more streamlined than the expansion for the barbarian. While I do think that the edges and talents herein can be used to craft deadly rangers indeed, I failed to make anything truly broken - and e.g. the ability-disable strike requiring prior knowledge of a monster's capability rewards the good ole' "The more you know..."-G.I. Joe trope and is something I really like.



Overall, that's the gist - the options are powerful, but damn cool and often just...interesting and uncommon. Hence, my final verdict for this expansion will clock in at "only" 4.5 stars, still rounded up to 5, mainly because the options herein may need a bit of scrutiny from DMs, but are too neat to leave by the wayside.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to More Ranger Talents
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Sorcerer Bloodlines
Publisher: Tripod Machine
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:24:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clock in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, this book introduces us to an array of more bloodlines for sorcerors...so how do they hold up?



The ancient bloodline is all about the spirits of the past, but more in a "tapping into the ancestor's knowledge"-way. More interesting would be the crystal bloodline - fire rays and shards, refract illusions - nice one!



The lycanthropy bloodline nets you beast shape and claws/bites - the former do not explicitly specify whether they are considered primary or secondary natural attacks, though the bite's caveat it can be used as secondary makes me think that they are primary weapons. This slightly opaque wording here, explicitly stating how many attacks you can execute with them, which, while precise, deviates somewhat from how one would expect such an ability to be delivered - it's more in line with a spell in its wording than a granted natural attack. While this is not perfect in my book, I get the rationale behind it and thus, this will not influence my final verdict. On the plus side, the scaling of them is awesome - increasing damage type and even netting bleed damage at higher levels.



The martial bloodline allows you to have a kind of arcane shield and store spells in your weapon - generally, a surprisingly cool bloodline! Inspired by the planar merchants, the mercane bloodline is about displacement, invisibility and the like - neat! The musical bloodline allows you to countersing, erect walls of sound etc. The phantasmal bloodline makes it possible to use mirror image-like decoys, daze foes or unleash phantasmal killers on foes. Particularly regal, even among sorcerors, the royal bloodline is all about glory and comes with a touch buff and an arcane bond.



The sand bloodline nets burrow speed and sand blasts...but I've seen this concept done better before. The same cannot be said for the swarm bloodline-squeezing into spaces, distracting foes with pseudo-swarm-like particles - damn cool! (And yes, assuming swarm form and apotheosis are high-level options for this one!)



The Time bloodline may have a bit of a killer ability at first level - at a touch phase an enemy from the time-stream for 1 round. While not that impressive on paper, in combat, this can be very powerful. Thankfully, the 1/24 hours/target-caveat prevents abuse, but I would have loved to have information on what happens if the space of the creature phasing back is occupied. The Toymaker bloodline can entangle foes with strings, summon toys etc. - nice, though not as cool as Dreadfox Games' Puppetmaster. The Xill bloodline receives claws (same ramble as with the claws granted by the lycanthropic bloodline), paralytic bites etc.



We also receive 2 archetypes - the cunning sorceror who exchanges bloodline powers and arcana for more skills and feats and the Battle Sorceror. The latter receives d8 HD, some weapon and armor proficiency sans spell failure, but pays for that with less spells. Additionally, they may select combat feats instead of bloodline feats. Solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks are solid b/w stock. The pdf comes with minimum bookmarks, but a few are better than none.



RJ Grady's Sorceror Bloodlines are more than solid - in spite of having seen MANY of these, this pdf has managed to provide a couple of cool options I haven't seen before and utilizes solid crunch and wording to deliver its concepts. That being said, for my own tastes, the capstones result a bit too often in apotheosis-style transformations and immunities - while in line with the tradition, this also means that the capstones not always can be considered as awesome as one would like it to be - not all bloodlines reach the awesomeness-level of e.g. the swarm-bloodline.



HOWEVER, over all, this is a nice pdf for a more than fair price-point and the mini-archetypes, while not too uncommon, make for solid micro-toolkits to add to the sorceror. My final verdict hence will treat this pdf as a good pdf on the verge of, but not completely, in the territory of greatness. Thus, my final verdict is 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcerer Bloodlines
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:11:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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

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



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



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



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



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



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



Conclusion:

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



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



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

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Lords of Gossamer & Shadow: Gossamer Heroes (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:09:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This LoGaS-supplement is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This pdf kicks off with a short introduction to the matter at hand - namely, the depiction of new player characters, readily generated at the suggestions of Kickstarter-patrons to serve as player characters. hence, by intention and to allow for a user-base as wide as possible, the characters herein have a limited breadth of powers, which should not be considered a detriment, though.



So, who do we get? First of them would be Cordelia - a kind of pirate-queen/gossamer lady studded with quite an array of different unique magical items - sword, armor, crown, etc., she is a lightning swashbuckling lady.



Grendel is a master of the umbra and believes to have potentially reincarnated into his current form, offering quite a few nice built-in roleplaying opportunities. Harrison is a totally different breed - a veteran of a war-torn world, his warwalker (a mech more than 10 ft. high) sports its very own personality to complement the monocle-wearing gentleman-pilot.



1st rank Psyche Jessamyn may be pictured as a progressive lady of a neo-victorian bent and true mistress of sorcery, bent on further improving her impressive powers -as a nice nod, she is directly tied in to the legendary Lucien.



Lowen would be something for fans of Shadowrun et al - born on a world of high techno-magical progress and teeming, never-ending sprawls, this powerful man sports a suit which renders him a superb assassin and combatant...and a crystal arm that acts as a prosthetic. Have I mentioned his mastery of eidolon?



Moreltheus is a master of umbra wholly unlike Jessamyn - devoted to eradicate all traces of his (or her? or its? It's supposed to be a guy, but then again...all that is written may be misinformation...) former existence, this entity is god-king to his (or her...or its...) personal Hollow World of dinosaurs, reigning there as a god-king.



Natasha would be a true warrior queen and mistress of wrighting, born and raised to rule and a background of privilege, she is indulging her curiosity. Reevard would, on the other hand, be 1st rank warfare and should be considered a light-hearted trickster - including shapechanging garments and a demonic servitor side-kick.



Taltos, 1st rank endurance, would be more grim - a veteran of wars against the ghoul-king of his home realm, he saw courage and ideals fail and, after destroying the legendary foe, has taken as a mercenary to the Grand Stair. Oh, and he is allied with the Dwimmerlaik empress.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, but not as good as in most LoGaS supplements - I noticed e.g. an instance of a verb missing and similar minor glitches. Nothing game-breaking, though. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the supplement sports one stunning full-color artwork for each and every character herein, many of which I haven't seen before - rather impressive. And, ladies - the female characters herein actually have PROPER armor. Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and also with a second more printer-friendly version.



Jason Durall provides a cool array of compelling heroes herein -interesting characters that have the basic stats ready and offer enough of a blank slate to develop in multiple directions. In fact, all of the heroes herein could be developed into villains or act simply as the emergency pregen if a PC does die and the player has no time (or inclination) to build a new one. That's perhaps the thing here - while character-death is uncommon in LoGaS (as opposed to more dice-happy RPGs), it can happen. And while LoGaS is very new-player friendly, requiring no mastery of x rule-books to get, this pdf does provide quite a benefit for new players - just hand them one character and teach them as they go - all is done, all convenient - neat pregens indeed! Add to that the built-in hooks and we get quite an interesting, diverse array. One can also see that the characters themselves are essentially commissioned, though - some just feel a tad more common and slightly less compelling to me than others - Grendel, Jessamyn and Lowen resonate with me just a tad bit more since their personalities shine a bit more through.



If you don't want your pregens to come with too much background, this pdf will be straight 5 stars for you. If you do prefer some more hooks and pieces of information regarding the character you'll be playing, if only to ignore (or inspire you), then you may stand before these stats wishing you'd have a tad bit more to develop. What is there can be ignored, but what isn't can't be rated. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow: Gossamer Heroes (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:07:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Star Run Falls, if the name was not ample clue, is a village primarily inhabited by an elven population. Constructed via magic thanks to the rather famous small academy of wizards, the place, while otherwise rather peaceful, also sports a certain fame beyond its borders and usual capacity.



However, it may very well be that the peace of the village is about to see an abrupt, unpleasant end - the so-called "Crimson Shadow King", whose hunt is heralded by the chirping of crickets, is gathering goblinoids in the woods, stealing elven babies...all for some nefarious purpose. (Alas, said purpose is explained and...well, is nothing to write home about, alas.)



Beyond the plot around human refugees, we also receive 3 statblocks - one for villagers, one a ftr3/wiz 3 and a half-gold-dragon unicorn (!!!) -rather cool. As is the implied duality of classes between refugees, the potential for racial tensions etc. - any Dm worth half his salt can make this village a compelling and cool place to visit and work in -especially if you add the potential for magical shenanigans the academy adds to the mix.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography (of which you can download player-friendly versions on Raging Swan's homepage for free!) is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



John Bennett is a glorious author - he knows how to craft neat settlements, is well-read and has quite an array of tricks up his sleeve to inspire DMs using this village. Star Run Falls is more than one would assume from the cliché of the elven happy-idyllic-village and the monumental falls add an iconic landmark as well. However, the implied threat to the town...made me groan. I'm sorry, for the rest of the village is just breathing great ideas, but I can't get over the implied villain. The threat he poses feels contrived, the moniker somewhat cringe-worthy (also: Don't cite the Crimson King unless your king is just as epic...) and over all, this ONE component almost spoiled the whole village for me. I know, it is a nitpick, but even with more than a week between draft 1 and 2, I can't find it in me to ignore it and still cringe. Rest assured, though, that, from rods that produce dancing lights to the rest of the hooks and demographics (including two souls that share one body in the headmaster/mistress of the academy!), the village *is* worth a visit. I just wished the villain and his master plan had remained opaque or at least, been more imaginative. While these constitute only a fraction of the word-count, it is enough to make this slightly less awesome than what I'm used to by John Bennett. Hence, my final verdict will "only" clock in at a good 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Kitsune Compendium
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2014 04:29:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Base Kitsune, as presented herein, receive +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str, are medium shapechanger humanoids, get +2 to acrobatics, may change shape into a specific human form, receive +1 to the DC of their saves versus enchantments, low-light vision, a bite attack that deals 1d4 (I assume usable as primary - since that's the default for bites, but still wished the Kitsune-entry in the ARG, from which this was taken, had specified that -I like my racial information in one place, if possible...) and Kitsune with a Cha of 11+ may cast dancing lights 3/day as a spell-like ability.



Got that? Well, this is, of course, not where everything ends here. Let me embark on a slight tangent, okay? One of the issues I tend to have with race-supplements would be their tendency to create some crunch, slap some fluff on it and then assuming an alignment-based psychology and culture. That's boring. That's just slapping new crunch on a blank humanoid frame. There is more to a race - its psychology ought to be complex, its abilities should influence the society and the morals of the creatures and their interaction with other races should also be taken into account - essentially, a well-crafted race ought to be a significant choice beyond min-maxing crunch and feel distinct. Well, this pdf helps those not familiar with Kitsune mythology by leaps and bounds - from general observations on psychology to 5 "facts" everyone knows about them and their behavior, which provide amusing tidbits and maxims to their biology, physiology - in a level of detail only seldom seen nowadays - taking even their digitgrade stance into account, though, of course, as just a cosmetic detail you may ignore.



Now the cool thing about aforementioned "facts" and other fluff, beyond helping craft a distinct racial identity, would definitely be that these guys receive quite an array of alternate racial traits that are based on these observations - from being able to always take 10 when disguising as human to limited fey sorcery and even a ki-pool (that does thankfully NOT stack with other ki-pools), the racial traits are generally rather awesome - one of the traits, though, strikes me as a tad bit too strong - nimble dasher nets the Kitsune +5 ft. movement (+10 ft. in true form) as well as the run-feat - exchanged only for the agile-trait of the base race. Compare that to another alternate racial trait that nets a +1 bonus to three skills and makes one a class skill and you'll notice somewhat of a discrepancy here - not a game-breaking one, mind you, but still one I felt obliged to mention.



Beyond these, we are also introduced to Kitsune culture -from birth to marriage and death, the book is surprisingly detailed here - including information on architecture, crafts, languages, names and even cuisine (!!!) as well as relationships with other races. Beyond that, this compendium takes a cue from the best racial supplements and provides an extensive origin myth - rather interesting here: The origin myth has representations in crunch as well, this time in the guise of 3 bardic masterpieces - one allows for the lessening of conditions (cool!), one creates wandering star motes and one provides a powerful calm emotions. Nice ones!



Of course, in such a comprehensive take on a race, racial religion (including anew deity and two associated subdomains) and its peculiarities can be found as well. If you'd prefer a somewhat variant take on the Kitsune, you might be interested in the 5 general variants - the default kitsune are Earthkin and beyond Voidkin, the three other classic elements are covered with at least one subtype-exclusive racial type - each subtype receives a short take on the peculiarities of the clan they belong to. Now, the following is a nitpick, I know. It won't influence the final verdict. But why not use the eastern elements instead of the western ones? Feels more logical to me, but oh well - personal preference, I guess. FCOs for many classes, including ACG-classes, can also be found herein.



Now polytailed kitsune have been popular in fiction and the misconceptions regarding them are addressed herein as well - including nice suggestions that a DM may govern to determine possible reasons for why a kitsune has more than one tail -from being mythic to blessing, bloodlines and ki - the options are interesting. Jiuweihu exchanges the shaman's spirit animal with a star jewel and receives magical tails over the course of the class progression. The Kyuubi Visionary monk replace stunning fist with selective spell-like abilities and even combine these with flurry of blows, casting one spell in lieu of his/her highest BAB attack Messing with flurry of blows is a complex endeavor, but Alexander Augunas pulled it off this time - kudos! The Nine-tailed Mystic for the oracle has a nice synergy between magical tails and spellcasting.



Non-nine-tailed kitsune also receive new archetypes - fighters may opt to wilder in the swashbuckler's toolbox, while a new ninja archetype can use ki to enhance her shapechanging - learning to assume new forms and even beasts and plants: nice infiltrator! The swashbuckler may opt for the ronin archetype, combining unique deeds with order abilities. Rogues may wilder in kitsune-exclusive tricks (great and thematically fitting!) and make one-handed weapons eligible for finesse via new talents. Skulking Hunters receive extended spell-lists to choose spells from (taking spells that show up on multiple lists into account) - nice. Additionally, studied targets of the slayers replace animal focus. Inquisitors can choose to become communal guardians. These guys establish a link with certain individuals and tie this connection with judgments, teamwork, movement etc. - somewhat akin to how Tacticians can establish networks - rather cool! Two new hexes allow for a jewel-shaped familiar, allowing the familiar/intelligent item to be magically enhanced while in gem-form and better shapechanging with access to skulls makes for a cool blending of hex and racial ability. Now rather interesting would be the decision to provide not one, but two kitsune bloodlines - one for the bloodrager and one for the sorceror - rather than trying to jam one bloodline in and make it fit for both, this way we receive better tools for both classes. The bloodrager transforms into a foxlike quadruped upon raging and learns to cast even while in bloodrage, receiving some truly deadly bite-tricks as well - nice! The bloodline for sorcerors has a completely different focus, centering more on illusions, shapechanging and similar mischief - neat as well!. Wildblooded sorcerors may also elect to choose the nine-tailed bloodline to receive access to a ki-pool and several ki-powered tricks, while the oni-based nogitsune bloodline is not hampered by the dark and has particularly potent compulsions.



Now next would be magic - which includes takes of Kitsune, in-character, on the respective schools. Nice! A total of 3 new spells are provided, one granting the target an animal head, one balefully transforming targets into foxes (with the potential to retain or lose their special tricks) and one version that shifts creature's heads to those of animals AND potentially reduces their int to animal levels as well - amusing and potentially disturbing, if done right!



Of course, a book like this also sports new feats - here, we receive equipment tricks for kitsune star gem and the new concealment-granting fox-style focused on feints and its follow-ups are rather well made - thankfully taking the stealth-hiding caveat into account. Kudos! Feinting versus foes set to counterspell your magic is also an interesting option - but what I personally like more, would be something completely different: Remedial shapechanging - difficult, non-overpowered healing for shapechangers as an optional rule, limited daily to prevent abuse and expandable via new feats - thematically fitting, logical and concise - two thumbs up!



The final page of this pdf is devoted to an array of cool traits and a fitting drawback for kitsune, involuntary shapechange - all rather iconic and well-balanced!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard that sports several stunning, original full color pieces of art by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Now there is a minor downside - the pdf, due to its layers, loads rather slowly - if you're using this on an electronic device, that may be annoying. I happen to know, though, that Alexander Augunas is trying to fix this as per the writing of this review and if you're like me and print books out, no issue.



Alexander Augunas *loves* Kitsune and it shows - I am of the firm conviction that passion for a product always shines through in the end and this is no exception - from the level of detail and attention devoted to cultural and psychological peculiarities to the tie-in of said pieces of information with appropriate crunch, this book reflects well the enthusiasm of Mr. Augunas. Now, the downside of quite a few such projects tend to be that they overshoots the target, resulting in somewhat Mary Sue-ish options that fail to properly balance coolness with the general rules - to say I was skeptical would be an understatement.



And here, on can see the author's experience - the amount of important, but easily missed rules (concealment-stealth, to name one example!) this pdf catches in its options is indeed laudable and shows the experience of an accomplished designer. The crunch, though, is honestly not what I'd consider the crowning achievement of the pdf - this honor belongs in my book to the fluff and the fact that it's so ingeniously tied to the crunch. Indeed, this book makes kitsune feel like a proper race - distinct, unique, fun - this is essentially an ecology for the race PLUS crunch tool box. And then there would be the icing on the cake on a meta-level - there is a paradigm regarding racial archetypes and class options in general - if something can be achieved by any race and does not build on a race's unique options, it probably should not be a racial option. Good racially-specific crunch builds on existing abilities and this pdf does just that for not only a content-wise great book, but also one that pleases me on the level of rules-aesthetics.



All right, so how to rate this? Its fluff is glorious, the crunch is nice, it oozes passion, has at best the most minor of issues...and it is a fun read. My final verdict will clock in at unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval, now can someone please give all those identity-less, fluff-wise boring and underdeveloped ARG-races a similar treatment? Please?

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kitsune Compendium
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 31 to 45 (of 1577 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG