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Genius Adventures: There's Yer Problem
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:42:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module 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?



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



All right, still here?

The PCs come to Crescent Bay, a fully mapped (and statted) town with a deep harbor, separated into lower town and upper town by lifts, looking for work and find that in the employ of Jollahan Tierpesh Lugathel III - whether directly or as suggested, by missive in a tavern makes ultimately no difference.



Utterly loaded, Lugathel offers a vast amount of wealth for the PCs to venture below the mansion and diagnose/fix an issue with the vastly complex mechanisms there - and this essentially is the module - the PCs explore a small, mapped "dungeon" of machinery, deal with gremlins and planar threats (associated with the machine) and finally, annihilate a devil . Sounds like boring? It's not! In spite of the module's brevity, the two smart, cool puzzles - logical and fun both of them, really help making this one distinct, even beyond the arcano-technical techno-babble (awesome!) -and the iconic, Bond-esque epilogue and further adventure hooks provided additionally increase the value of this module.



That being said, the second of the puzzles feels a bit like a wasted opportunity - by amping up the complexity and having the borders refract the beam of light in different ways, that one could have been vastly enhanced for a more gripping final encounter.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' printer-friendly 2-column standard and the module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The module's cartography is nice for the low price and the graphical renditions of the puzzles are solid.



Curtis Baum's little module has more to offer than its small page-count would suggest - in fact, I really enjoyed reading this one. The uncommon environment and cool challenges make for a nice break from regular adventuring and proper puzzles are something I always enjoy. that being said, I do feel that the finale falls a bit flat of what it could easily have been, with the hook provided in the final foe's dying words being rather trite. While the epilogue rocks, the lost chance of making the finale truly interesting by combining proper action with a good puzzle somewhat disappointed me - there is this nice set-up for a visual puzzle and then it's more or less discarded. This is the only strike against this module, though. hence, my final verdict will clock in at a more than solid 4.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 4 for the purpose of this platform, mostly due to that and the rather common adversaries faced in combat/missed chance of making the terrain more unique and effective in battle - all this iconic environment, so few modifications via steam, hostile terrain, etc. Still, for this price, more than a nice sidetrek!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Genius Adventures: There's Yer Problem
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Prestige Archetype: The Mystic Theurge
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:39:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The 20-level base-class Mystic Theurge receives d6, 2+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and proficiency with simple weapon and the deity's favored weapon, if eligible. Now here's the cincher - unlike Kobold Press' take on the Mystic Theurge, this one has ONE spell-list of prepared spells to choose from - however, arcane spells are governed by int, divine spells by wis. Bonus spells are governed by the respective attributes, which means that e.g. a theurge with a high wis-score, but not so high int could only prepare divine spells as bonus spells - these are NOT cumulative. A specific explanation that they're not would have helped here - sans close reading and watching spell-list/bonus spell interaction, that would have been impossible to determine - so this one component is somewhat opaque. If spells show up on both lists, the theurge may select in which manner to cast them. As a prepared caster, the mystic theurge requires a spellbook.



At first level, the class chooses whether to get an arcane bonded object (which can be a holy symbol!) or a familiar (auto-update to improved familiar at 7th level), spontaneous conversion of divine spells into cure/inflict spells, the cleric's domains-ability or a wizard's arcane school. The spells and powers granted by the domains feel a bit too much when compared to the other options, though.

1/day at 5th level, +1/day every 5 levels thereafter, a mystic theurge can cast two spells with the same casting time at once, as long as one is divine and one arcane, increasing CL to overcome SR and imposing a penalty on the target of the dual spells.



As always, we receive FCOs for the core-races and sample NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am not a fan of theurge-spellcasting in general, but for what it's worth, this class is pretty solid - The decreased amount of daily spells (max 4 per level sans bonus spells, spell-casting progression totaling out 3 levels behind full blown cleric and wizard, the mystic theurge pay for versatility with depth and oomph - there is simply less total spellcasting, but what's here is extremely flexible. Unlike Kobold Press' Theurge, this class does not fall into the trap of attempting to balance too many spell-lists and maintains a tad bit more "blasts" before it's empty. Now the mystic theurge may not be my cup of coffee, but if you've been looking for a truly high-flexibility caster, then this is the go-to guy. Apart from the balance concern regarding domains (that should AT LEAST be just one domain...), no issues - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded grudgingly up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - congratulations to author Carl Cramér.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Mystic Theurge
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Mythic Minis 27: Feats of the Monastic Master
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/15/2015 06:37:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Cloud Step: Air walk full slow fall distance, remain aloft via ki. COOL!



-Cockatrice Strike: Use as a standard action, petrify non-mythic creatures on any hit.



-Crusader's Flurry: Expend channel energy to increase potency of flurry of blows damage, also +atk when expending mythic power. Damn cool, though this can make you a pretty fearsome shredder. In the hands of the right player, this may be very nasty, even for a mythic campaign.



-Deny Death: Use mythic power instead of ki to stabilize and get + number of ki points remaining as a bonus to saves versus death effects. I really like the aesthetics of this feat - the less life energy, the more susceptible to death effects - reminds me of a great many masters and how they died in WuXia movies. Two thumbs up!



-Domain Strike: Use it as a free action or with +tier bonus to cleric level to determine its effects. Solid, but boring. Beware: If your campaign deviates greatly from the "2 levels equal roughly 1 mythic tier" convention, this may be broken for you.



-Hex Strike: Same as domain strike, just for hexes; same caveat applies.



-Ki Stand: No more AoO; for ki and/or mythic power, you can also move when standing up. Nice flexibility increase!



-Monastic Staff: Temporarily make your staff ki focused as per the property and increase its potency via mythic tier.



-Quarterstaff Master: Better 1h your quarterstaff and potentially temporarily break the +5 limit on enchantment via mythic power. Not a big fan of the latter, though it helps keep the weapon relevant.



-Revelation Strike: Same as domain strike, for revelations.



-School Strike: Same as domain strike, for arcane schools.



-Spider Step: Like cloud step, only for spider step.



-Touch of Serenity: Better efficiency versus non-mythic targets, use mythic power to use it as a touch attack; can be used more than once per round, including in a flurry. Solid.



-Tripping Twirl: Better trip; If you're also a magus and follow trip with spellstrike, you receive +4 to overcome SR. *Generally* pretty awesome and I love the class-specific bonus, though I do think the bonus should scale. That being said, formatting-wise, the additional benefit would usually be reserved to a "Special:" - line analogue to the non-mythic feat.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Tork Shaw and Jason Nelson provide quite a bunch of feats herein - this mythic mini is pretty much chock full. That being said, some feats feel slightly less inspired to me than in regular mythic minis - while I love the multiclass feat tricks in general, and yes, my gripe with them is highly situational, it is a gripe. I love the linking of ki and mythic power and while I do consider crusader's flurry a tad too strong, I am quite sure that for some character out there, this will be just THE feat. All in all, though, these feats are pretty much ranging from solid to awesome and provide quite some flexibility. In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of a solid 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 - a good pdf for the price point, if not as mind-blowing and tactics-changing as other mythic minis.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 27: Feats of the Monastic Master
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Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
Publisher: d20pfsrd.com
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:04:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This sourcebook clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 4 pages of combined content taken from Pact Magic Unleashed Vol. II/SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Or rather...not so fast. The first 9 pages are devoted to explaining the basic terminology of pact magic/how it works - while surely appreciated by someone out there, explaining the base system again in the expansion feels slightly redundant to me, but I'm not one to complain about that - there's nothing wrong in this approach.



We begin then truly new content herein with a chapter on new spirits, first of which would be the 3rd level hero constellation spirit Cort Eiding, the golden gunman - a notoriously indebted gunman, Cort was a mercenary through and through and thus, the totems the spirit has to ease binding him include high-stakes card games - nice! Now I am not a big fan of ranged combat maneuvers, however, the reduced versatility of them somewhat helps and the cool-down also serves as a balancing tool. Not 100% comfortable, but in the end, an okay option to represent the concept. Constant undetectable alignment may be a bit strong. Buying bonuses for gold is pretty neat, but another ability is somewhat cool, but problematic - Sulphur City Shuffle drops an explosive at the feet of a feinted foe, which can be ignited by fire to explode. Per se, damn cool! However, can the explosives be noticed? Thrown? Moved? Disabled? No idea. Pity, really, for the balance with charges in gold that prevents abuse is pretty nice. Speaking of which: Cort's vestigial companion, the intelligent +2 revolver Last Word and the ability to detect pact spirits as per the new spell are pretty awesome and made me fondly flash back to the Dark Tower.



The 4th level Fiend spirit Arkensang, Fortune's Apostate. Once a barbarian who subverted a prophecy of a goddess of death, this one favors the godless and maimed. Per se flavorful, this one's implication has a vast impact on a given game world. These guys may sever the threads of magic on targets, implying that magic works via threads between the target of a spell and its caster - so what about non-instantaneous effects? Magic items? Accepting this ability has severe implications for the logic by which magic operates AND it is by no means exhaustive enough to work. Which is a pity, for the concept is cool and the added debuff effects for capstone empowered severances sounds like a cool idea. Why not use Spell Sunder as a base-line and instead use this convoluted strands of magic-concept? The wilderness/anti-divine tricks the spirit grants beyond these is pretty nice and one-handing appropriate-sized two-handed weapons also is a rather nice ability per se...but what about abilities that apply to 2-handed weapons and definitely need two hands to execute? Two-handed weapon exclusive feats etc.? Do they still apply?



The third spirit, Ia, the illuminator, a 9th level Dark beyond spirit, allows you to generate difficult terrain AND untyped damage and even sanity-draining fascination. Also rather cool - you leave trails of difficult terrain and receive quite an array of cool tricks - what about damaging e.g. all creatures adjacent to the squares you land in after falling (which does not cause damage to you anymore!)? Two thumbs up for this spirit!

Next up would be new archetypes, e.g. the haunted occultist. These guys receive only 1/2 binder level, but may sick spirits upon targets, who then have to save against the binding check. The more personal components (like true names, blood, etc.) are available, the easier the haunting. The spirits haunting a target confer none of their abilities, but do confer the modifications of behavior upon those that fail their save, making this essentially an offensive use of spirit#s behavior-changing components - pretty...interesting. Why? because Pact Magic is often depicted as stigmatized, which provides sheer endless potential for cool narratives. On the other hand, the spirit's compulsions usually are neitehr crippling, nor particularly effective in properly scourging the foe as opposed to regular curses - an added debuff would probably be appropriate in face of the halved binder level. Now on the cool side, the bonus here would be the option to call upon the vestigial companion to attack and try to kill the haunted target for binder level minutes, which seems pretty limited regarding the ability only delivering the companion within one mile of the target -who is the only one who can see it or is affected by it. This, on the other hand, is simply glorious - though it needs precise rules-codification - does the haunting companion just benefit from invisibility or does it simply not exist for other creatures? Can e.g. blind attacks into its square by non-haunted characters dispatch it? Awesome ability, but needs clarification. At higher levels, the archetype may add further debuffs to the targets of their hauntings. Here, wording is a bit wonky "-1 insight bonus to AC and CMD" are not proper PFRPG-rules-language. At higher levels, the archetype also receives sneak attack and allows you to treat haunted creatures as flanked. The progression is pretty solid and at high levels, the haunting companion can remain manifested for a *long* time. Damn cool, high concept archetype that needs its rough edges polished off and its balance slightly adjusted.



The Legion Occultist does not bind spirits to her own body, instead binding them into effigies of either straw and mud (later also ice, wood, stone and iron); 4 basic shapes are provided and while the effigies are constructs, but are treated as animal companions for progression purposes, with binder level = effective druid level. Spirit personalities influence the effigies and going against a spirit's wishes damages the effigy. Constellation Aspect has a slight wording glitch, with the text having the potential to be misread to apply all constellation aspects to all effigies, when they instead should only receive their respective constellation aspect. Problem here - do the effigies have to be commanded as if an animal companion? If so, a list of tricks they have would be nice, as well as information on whether the archetype can teach effigies possessed by the same spirit over and over tricks.

The final archetype, the soul armorer paladin/antipaladin archetype, receives diminished spellcasting and never suffers from the effects of bad pacts. Good pacts allow for the use of major granted abilities, but only against the favored enemy of the spirit. Falling from grace, if applicable, renders the pact immediately poor. Soul armorers may smite the enemies of their bound spirits. There is some confusion regarding the effective binder level here - while it is obvious that the class was intended to count as binder level -3, that conflicts with binding at first level and the 5th level ability that makes class levels count as occultist levels for angel or fiend constellation spirits respectively, make this more palpable. Clarification on effective binder levels here would help.





The second part of the pdf presents rules for cults and covens - including generic awards, prestige and statblocks containing information on obeisance, service period, initiation tests and excommunication criteria - fame + prestige point mechanics help streamline them into PFRPG. Kudos! From the Cthonocracy cthulhoid kingmakers to the anti-deist Cult of Man to the enlightened Lantern Collective and Ia's exceedingly well-spoken doomsday cult to the Hall of righteous pain, the cults are all cool and the feat supplementing membership in a cult is also solid.



The pdf closes with some previews of Pact Magic Unbound 2.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level, not always perfect on a rules level. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf provides hyperlinks.



Michael Massey delivers a nice expansion to pact magic - while it does contain less content than one would expect from the page-count, I won't hold that against the pdf. Why? Because the ideas are pretty awesome. The spirits and archetypes are high-concept, one and all, and surprisingly, author Michael Massey manages to deliver quite a few complex rules-tricks one rarely sees among the repertoire of new authors. That being said, the crunch does suffer from some unpleasant rough edges and ambiguities that need to be taken care of. And honestly, I'd usually probably come down harder on this pdf than I did in the review, but the ideas herein are, more often than not, inspiring. Now if you are not interested in the cults herein, the pdf loses some of its appeal - they are pretty awesome and should fit pretty seamlessly with most worlds, especially with settings à la Vathak and Ravenloft/darker campaigns - I loved these.



So fluff and idea-wise, we have a winner here, though the complex crunch does have some issues, and not all of them minor. Now if you're, as a DM, comfortable with making rules-decisions of the slightly more complex variety, then go for this neat supplement. If you want your crunch polished to a gleam, you may want to take a very careful look before allowing this book. So is this good? It is high-concept. Its execution may not be perfect, but it *is* an inspiring read and the content herein does make for a compelling assortment of material, for cool narrative potential - while e.g. the haunting oracle's terminology is sometimes mixed up, while the soul armorer sometimes still is called "paladin", the general concepts are just nice and daring. Conceptually, this could have been a 5 star killer file with a good developer, but as much as I like the content, the flaws are there - hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars with this one. Still - kudos to the author and congratulations for a solid job for a newcomer!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Loremaster
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/14/2015 07:01:53
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Loremaster's Prestige Archetype version receives d6, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with club, daggers, crossbows and the quarterstaff. They also receive full int-based prepared spellcasting from the sorc/wiz-list. At first level, loremasters have to choose between arcane school (divination) or an arcane bond and receive skill focus as a bonus feat, applicable only to a knowledge skill of their choice.Loremasters also add half their level to all knowledge skill checks and may make them untrained - I guess, this should be class level since they stack with benefits gained from bardic knowledge et al.?



At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the loremaster receives a secret, with level + int-mod determining the secrets the loremaster may choose. Here, the prestige archetype fails to address an issue in the original mechanic, namely the interaction with permanently int-enhancing items - since the qualification for the secrets is based partially on int-losing access to said int-enhancement - will it block out the secret or not? I assume no due to the rules regarding permanent bonuses and feat qualification, but I'm honestly not sure. Now granted, this is a nitpick, but I still would have loved to see this addressed.



Bonus languages at 6th and 10th level, better item identification via spellcraft and at 18th level, a duplication of legend lore or analyze dweomer 1/day makes for a nice high-level ability.



The pdf comes with FCOs for all core races and sample characters of 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches apart from minor glitches and lack of italicization of two spells. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.



This pdf has a hard task - let's be honest, the loremaster always was a pretty lame PrC without much identity - a book/knowledge-focused caster? Yeah, the wizard already hits that note pretty well. With the new tricks at the disposal of the wizard like arcane discoveries, the loremaster looks even more obsolete - both in design philosophy and concept. Author Carl Cramér has provided a solid take on a class that has been swallowed by time - try as I might, even when going for a divination-focused full caster, I'd probably prefer the flexibility of arcane discoveries or the versatility of bards over the rather dry and linear loremaster. This is a perfect example of a prestige archetype in need of something new, something more - here, a codification/design-change akin to the magus-streamlining the arcane archer received, would have definitely been in order. There is nothing particularly wrong with this installment, but it lacks the accomplishment the PA-installments on Eldritch Knight/Hunter represented, of rewiring spell-progression etc. Instead, this comes off as a wizard bereft of the cool, unique tools PFRPG introduced since the inception of the original PrC. This is an okay take on the loremaster, but in no way required and it does not succeed in truly making the class more compelling, unlike many other PA-installments. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Loremaster
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Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
Publisher: SagaRPG
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:40:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive module clocks in at 163 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a damn impressive 157 pages of content - so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, first of all, let me address something - this review took pretty long to get done and this pdf, while relatively easily converted to any campaign setting, has its own implicit world called Vaard - the supplemental material presented in the detailed appendices provides a new deity-write-up as well as information on the general locations in pretty extensive detail. Darkwood Town, provided with statblock, a nice full color map and even a sample card-game (!!!) reaches a quite impressive level of detail, including even prices for menus. Going above and beyond, we receive read-aloud text for the respective points of interest. Yes, plus drinking game with really nasty moonshine. I just wished we also received a player-friendly version of the cartography of Darkwood and of the circus-town Bright town's beautiful maps. The level of detail provided goes even above Raging Swan Press' usual level, my benchmark for settlements, and is further enhanced by random encounter-suggestions. This town would have made for a more than adequate own sourcebook - as an addition to a module, it is thoroughly impressive.



We also receive 4 sample PCs, with artwork, short stats in addition to full-blown char-sheet versions, extensive background history and information to properly play them - including support for the magic school/academia-rules in one case - which is pretty awesome!



Now flavor-wise, Darkwood Town can be best pictured as a kind of boom town with a distinct Wild West meets fantasy vibe - a town held together by the striving for wealth in a progressive, but rough environment - beyond the first "Rough up the new guys"-encounter (which is surprisingly well set up), this feeling is enforced further by coalition rules - these represent the standing of the PCs with the respective factions in Darkwood and provide an easy guideline for DMs to portray the growing reputation of the PCs as well as an easy and rewarding way for players to watch their respective reputations grow. It should finally be noted that beyond all of the aforementioned new material, magic items, a template, a disease and a poisons and 6 stats of key NPCs are provided in the appendices as well, rendering this book essentially a dual module/full-blown regional source-book. While vibe-wise definitely inspired by pulp and the wild west, it should be noted that campaigns without blackpowder can easily use this module - the default assumption may be that gunslinging exists, but it is in no means omnipresent. That being said, it is this reviewer's opinion that the module would lose a bit of its uniqueness by such an omission.



But how is this module constructed, you may ask? Well, it's self-proclaimed goal is to combine event-based, location-based and sandbox-adventuring - and it pretty much works, that much I can say sans what follows now:



From here on, this adventure-review is suffused with SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! So the module has essentially a 3-act structure, with Act 1 being devoted to setting up the town for the PCs to explore...and a job offer (including an alternate, rather mysterious counter-offer) - the goal here is for the PCs and players to familiarize themselves with the town before they venture forth to try to reclaim the Highcliff Mine - for whatever faction they choose. I hear you yawn - well, don't. First of all, this haunted mine manages to evoke an almost perfect sense of foreboding, desolation and dread - furthermore, the challenges provided are varied and range from haunts to smartly templated foes, while also hinting at the rather extensive metaplot and providing an expertly crafted sense of horror that complements, rather than contradicts the mood established in the town.



Now Act II goes full-blown sandbox - from dealing with bandits and ratfolk to bounty-hunting, all of these small sidetreks come with nice battle-mat-style full color maps in surprising detail, while also serving as a means to foreshadow the things to come, among other means with the nasty, mutating disease "The Flux", which proves to be a pretty important component of the meta-plot, one of almost Lovecraftian proportions, I might add. Some straight in your face body horror? Well, yes, please!



When the Night of Stars looms, the PCs are tasked with a delicate task - infiltrate Bright town during the monthly festivities and revels - in order to succeed in their task, the PCs will have to navigate the well-visited tent town, enjoy the festivities, avoid trouble with local bravos and conduct their investigation, hopefully realizing that *something* is indeed amiss with the Genetie family... but what? While the DM knows, I will not spoil this particular component of the rich tapestry of story-threads woven herein. And yes, the party at bright town is crashed - by massive, mutated trolls, hinted at earlier. At the end of the module stand a tantalizing array of options, a thoroughly compelling metaplot and high expectations for the future installments. And yes, I intentionally remained vague in this review - I want you to read this massive book yourself.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is good, but not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches, but no serious ones. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with extensive internal hyperlinks that make navigating the story-threads/background information etc. easy on the DM. Layout adheres to a nice and easy to read 2-column full color standard that still is pretty printer-friendly. The full color cartography is VERY extensive and covers even a bunch of side-quests and generally on the high-end/quality-side of things, as are the hand-outs. My one gripe here would be the absence of player-friendly, number-less versions of the maps. The original and rather copious pieces of full color artwork may not adhere to a uniform style, but are iconic in their own right and yes, the artwork generally is nicer to look at than the cover, with especially the vista of highcliff mine deserving accolades.



Nick Johnson and Lars Lundberg's first Darkwood module is one thing: Exceedingly, dauntingly ambitious. For a novice publisher to kick off with a 150+ page module, part of a saga AND in full color etc., all without a kickstarter - well, this is one daring move. I did not expect it to pan out. At least in this mega-adventure, it did. This is very much a thinking man's complex module, not a mindless crawl and it lives and breathes atmosphere to an extent scarcely seen in any given publication. Indeed, its unique flavor and level of detail can perhaps best be compared to the Zeitgeist AP, though its focus is radically different: Rather than focusing purely on investigation, we receive an utterly unique blend of fantasy, horror, pulp and wild west-aesthetics for a true, innovative jamais-vu experience. Furthermore, while not a simple adventure, this is by far the most novice-DM-friendly sandbox I've ever seen - the sheer amount of read-aloud text that helps less experienced DMs portray the unique flair and setting provided is absolutely commendable.



I'd like to address something as well - usually, I cut novice publishers and authors at least some slack: If formatting, bonus types and the like are not perfect, I comment on it, but they do enjoy some leeway. This mega-adventure did not need that. From the supplemental rules to the setting-sourcebook chapters up to the module itself, this is impressively professional for a 1st time publisher and exhibits extensive knowledge of sub-systems and how to use them, on what has been done before - and then does something different, something absolutely awesome. This module is worth every cent of its asking price and has me utterly *stoked* for future installments - "The Deft and the Deadly" is a massive, awesome module full of memorable scenes and NPCs, with even sample PC backgrounds potentially tied into the narrative, should you choose to use them (though their backgrounds can easily be modified to suit your players). Have I mentioned that I *really* want to know how all of this goes on?



It takes a lot these days to impress me - I see a lot of good modules, excellent ones, even. The average quality of 3pp-modules for Pathfinder is VERY high. That being said, it is relatively rarely that a module captures me to this extent; indeed, its level of detail, interwoven narratives etc. are pretty close to how I conduct my own campaigns and to what I expect flavor-depth-wise from a supplement. And then, it goes beyond even that level of detail to provide a vibrant, iconic backdrop with a thoroughly unique atmosphere that authors out there should take a good luck at - that's how it's done. This is an all-killer, no-filler tome, with its tantalizing metaplot making me salivate for future installments to an extent I rarely do. My final verdict will, unsurprisingly, clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, omitting a status as a candidate for the top ten of 2014 only due to the lack of player-friendly maps.



After this and Mór Games' excellent Plight of the Tuatha, there is no more excuse for novice publishers to rest on freshman laurels - this level of quality is what we need. Here's to hoping that SagaRPG prospers!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Saga RPG Adventure Arc: Darkwood #1 - The Deft and the Deadly (PFRPG) PDF
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Mythic Minis 28: Mythic Martial Arts V
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:36:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Earth Child Style: +1/2 mythic tier to AC versus giants, also as a bonus to ref-save versus just about anything they can hit you with. Use mythic power to enter it reflexively. DAMN cool - adds a whole new dimension to the style!



-Earth Child Binder: Use combat maneuvers regardless of size versus giants, plus add stunning fist to AoOs sans expending it. Stunning Fist also applies to all attacks versus giants, making stun-locking them very much possible. Nice!



-Earth Child Topple: Trip giants into other foes (potentially with maneuver effects that benefit from tripped foe's size!) and use mythic power to add combat maneuver to crits vs. giants. Cool!



-Kirin Style: Higher mythic tier based bonus and faster creature identification. Not much to work with, solid for what the base feat does.



-Kirin Strike: Bonus to creature identification, ignore parts of DR of identified creature. Solid.



-Kirin Path: Take 20 to identify creatures a tier-based number of times per day; Also: Move through threatened squares of identified creatures after executing AoOs - not much to work with, but oh boy, here we get some pretty awesome tactical options. Nice, especially in light of the base feat!



-Snapping Turtle Style: More shield bonus, immediate action + mythic power = even more bonus. Solid numerical escalation.



-Snapping Turtle Shell: Increased penalty to crit confirmation, also apply bonus to ref-saves versus burst effects and negate non mythic crits via mythic power. Nice, since this actually makes dealing with evil clerics much more feasible.



-Snapping Turtle Clutch: No penalty to grapple maneuvers versus foes who attack and miss you, alternatively disarm manufactured weapons; Even cooler: Counter the grab quality via mythic power and a special defensive CMB, potentially reversing the grapple. I'm usually not a fan of competing attack rolls/checks, but for what it's worth, CMB versus atk is bearable. I like using mythic power to counter grapple, but still think that versus foe's CMD would have been the more organic solution.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson's take on mythic martial arts is...surprisingly awesome. The Earth Child-feats brim with cool ideas, even the Kirin Style, which I don't particularly like, receives something nice. And while I am loathe to see d20 vs. d20 (plus modifiers, but still) in the Snapping Turtle tree, the overall feats can be considered well-crafted. Since all my gripes boil down to personal preference and in a minor case, rules aesthetics, I can't help but rate this highly - my only true gripe remains beyond the d20 vs. d20-instance in one feat the fact that 2 of the Kirin Style's feats could have used some unique tricks. This is nitpicking at a high level, though, hence my review will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 28: Mythic Martial Arts V
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Mythic Minis 26: Mythic Martial Arts IV
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/10/2015 05:34:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!



-Monkey Style: no penalties to AC while kneeling/sitting, standing up as swift action or as an immediate action via mythic power.



-Monkey Shine: Enter opponent's space sans stunning fist, but via mythic power; Move opponents via AoOs = 5 x mythic tier ft.. You may elect to not move with the opponent by expending mythic power. Damn cool!



-Monkey Moves: Swift action or mythic power for 5-foot step even if you have moved; additionally, gain up to 1 min climb speed while in the style. Love this design - breadth instead of depth, adding flexibility - kudos!



-Panther Style: Gain + 1/2 mythic tier to atk and damage for unarmed counter strike; use mythic power for dodge bonus. Okay, I guess.



-Panther Parry: If you damage the opponent with your retaliatory attack, use mythic power to negate the attack that caused it. I know what you expect. The EZG anti-counter-ramble. No. Why? Because it's the best parrying take I've seen in quite a while. Alas, it also doesn't work perfectly as written - it probably should be not only a swift action to trigger this, but an immediate action, seeing how the counter attack can also happens on an enemy's turn... Also, this should probably have a time limit for when the retroactive retaliation no longer applies...



-Panther Claw: This one increases the number of retaliatory strikes available; expend mythic power for +atk and damage rolls for retaliatory strikes.



-Tiger Style: Better crit-confirmations and mythic powered str-bleed; neat!



-Tiger Pounce: Spend mythic power as a swift action charge up to 1/2 speed against a target you have hit or maneuver'd since the beginning of your last turn. Nice to keep the pressure on!



-Tiger Claws: Expend your first two unarmed attacks as part of a full attack rather than as a full round action for the attack, leaving you free to utilize further unarmed strikes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Alistair Rigg's latest martial arts are pretty cool - the takes on the mythic 3 styles are rather original and increase tactical versatility available to martial artists. That being said, panther style's wording does suffer from a slight lost in translation-glitch - the original panther style made an exception for the use of swift actions during a time when it's not your turn, specifically for executing attacks versus foes moving through threatened squares. This caveat (which is an example of sloppy feat design in the first place - that usually would be an immediate action - after all, that's the defining characteristic of an immediate action!) is not extended to the new benefits granted by the mythic versions, who promptly retain the wording and structure. Now this in no way makes the pdf bad; it's only understandable. I still would have liked to see an immediate action caveat as well. Still, the parrying mechanic is solid and manages to somewhat alleviate this gripe. On the other hand, what constitutes a retaliatory strike and what doesn't is not defined and can make this feat-tree confusing. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 26: Mythic Martial Arts IV
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Between Chains and Starlight - version 2.0
Publisher: Space Potato Productions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2015 05:00:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book by Space Potato Productions is 288 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page of editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages about the book, 2 pages ToC, 1 page blank inside the back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a whopping 279 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this setting's introduction with a flavor-text in character that gives us a brief (and surprisingly well-written) run-down of the setting: Essentially, it was not an AI that led to this dystopian future, but rather mankind's own potential for less than savory practices: In a vast war, a significant amount of planets was destroyed and made uninhabitable and now, the empires of Corinth and Kurion are at a stand-off -when Altair is discovered: A comparably primitive world, yes, but a populated one and one rife for the taking, one that dares stand up to those two entities. As you can glean from this introduction, the sci-fi setting as depicted herein is not particularly rosy, but it does have the makings of being potentially played in a more over the top space-opera style.



Now the first thing you'll notice from the introduction of the setting would be that both magic and technology exist -some of the worlds covered in the setting may actually be of your regular technology-level of fantasy worlds or pre-industrial revolution societies - the opening of portals and interstellar travel to those can of course result in massive changes in the way demographics react to ideas - as a catalyst for change and sheer unlimited potential for cultural clashes, the premise could be described as "Magic offsets technology's advantages in part" and "There is no prime directive". In the meanwhile, the darker empires out there are on the verge of decline, whereas the fractured empires of Altair have united under the Admiralty, and much like other human empires, crafted space ships to defend them, taking half-understood knowledge salvaged from wrecks etc. to do so. On the side of most important technological advances should stand the 3D-printing and CnC-advances, Plasma Thrusters and cold fusion reactors - while computers have hit a dead-end, with sufficiently powerful AIs and systems usually running afoul of a weird wave that hampers their processes - hence, human presence is still essential in warfare, though drones and the like are still used. Trans-planar communication is handled via satellites and asynchronous, for the information only manages the speed of light, so in Simmon's terms, information incurs quite a time debt. Travel between galaxies is undertaken via worm-holes in the (relative) proximity of the respective central stars. Surprisingly, only ships boarded by organic life seem to be able to make these instantaneous jumps - hence, the jumping is actually treated as a magical/psionic effect. So let's sum up the status quo - we have two evil empires, an emergent light in the Admirality, Hazioth (more on that later) and some potential, including hostile galaxies.



Okay, that essentially are the basics - after that, we're introduced to Altair, the first faction: Essentially a feudal, magical setting that has instantly been made aware of technology - hard sci-fi mixed with a backdrop of feudal fantasy. Much like the overall star-system map, we also get a map of one part of a planet and quite an array of fiction that goes into the peculiarities from this unique set-up, written in-character from various perspectives and covering thus some peculiarities - e.g. the problems of attacking undead with laser-guns. Each faction herein comes with nice in-character narratives, by the way!



The Corinthian Hegemony is a dystopian society where the rich and powerful have, via a tight control of education etc. - life-expectancy is 54 years (strangely for men and women), while only 10% truly hold power and live in comfort. The extremely militaristic hegemony has been radically changed from an almost satire-level over-indulgence in clichés of militaristic empires into an actually believable political entity with fitting education, social structure etc. - it is still an oppressive regime combining the worst aspects of elitism and communism, but the new depiction of the hegemony no longer paints the picture of a bland, pseudo-grimdark dystopia, instead creating a dystopia that makes sense in its mindless efficiency. Kudos to the author for vastly improving this particular component and the writing in this chapter - from a bad cliché to proper, believable antagonists, this section has went quite a long way!



Hazioth is the utopian equivalent to Corinth's Dystopia - loosely based on egalitarian values as practiced in our world, this faction is most earth-like and un-alien, also in its aesthetics - the faction represents mankind getting it mostly right, representing an ideological point quite akin to what we consider desirable. Where before, the faction was a bland way of saying "these guys are like us and the good guys", we now receive information on how magic etc. have influenced the life and how economy and all the rest work - more interestingly, the very existence of Hazioth is predicated on essentially being wedged in between a rock and a hard place - an attack by either hegemony or Kurions would leave the aggressor open for incursions of their adversaries, meaning that Hazioth, caught in an unofficial detente, has to carefully balance its own actions to maintain its existence. A *vast* step forward for the whole concept that renders the whole faction much more compelling and, once again, concise. Obvious logic-bugs have been destroyed and replaced with believable writing - kudos!

Speaking of evil empires: You thought the Corinthian Hegemony was despicable? Kurions use cybernetic implants to rule absolutely over a huge population of people, enforcing their will upon them - where the Corinthians are decadent, despicable despots, the Kurions are downright fascist bastards, complete with Running Man-like gladiatorial TV-programs and mass-deportations to refresh the ranks of their cyborgs. Environment is poisoned and ruined, military police is corrupt and overall, the living conditions are a total disaster. At least here, there are the seeds of organized rebellion in the making, futile and doomed though it may be. Now I still maintain, that ruling a dystopian empire with the carrot is easier than with the stick - why oppress and bury in violence when you can rule and be loved by the population? All dictators that are truly "successful" have learned to sway the masses in their favor - you can antagonize adversaries, but you need to establish a common enemy, a cultural identity, an ideology to enforce properly such a system - essentially a threat that justifies being a tyrant. That being said, somewhere between late Roman empire, fascism and the introduction of cyborg slaves and magic, I *can* now believe in the weave Benjamin Martinali weaves - while still not 100% as diversified as I would have imagined, the increased emphasis on entertainment to sedate the masses and decrease of emphasis on mind control does work in favor of the whole portrayal of the empire.



It should be noted that the miscellaneous minor players among the interstellar factions also receive excessive write-ups, with more details than before and 3 sample planets with detailed history etc. and a whole array of fully statted star systems with travelling speed, hazards etc. are provided, often including rather inspiring potential ideas for adventures.



The basics of the setting out of the way, we are introduced to 5 new feats related to e.g. starship piloting. Computer-Use and Crafting of various technological tools are also covered, as is piloting and repairing items. As a neat bonus, we also receive a rather nice, short rules primer for the effects of planets from 2G to 0G, allowing for more diversified combat mechanics. While I would have enjoyed rules that affect not only acrobatics and encumbrance, but also ref-saves, falling damage and movement, that is probably beyond the scope of this otherwise already massive book.



Speaking of items: Sealed suits and integrating magic items into them is covered as are powered armors -the rules to create these are awesomely customizable, with minor inconsistencies having been ironed out. It's cool that armor may have chameleon skin for invisibility-camouflage and even cooler that technology/magic discrepancy has been addressed - yes, spells affect tech and vice versa.



Energy weapons, sonic weapons etc. are also introduced - including their own restrictions. Whereas before, the science geek in me rebelled against some of the restrictions, the new take on weapon classes vastly increases their appeal - the presentation is not only more concise, it also can easily be described as more sensible, with all limitations adhering to logical behavior.



Burst Fire and auto-fire get their own rules, which once again have been streamlined into a better functioning new guise - that is more elegant to boot! Consider me thoroughly satisfied on that end, at least in the face of this book covering *A LOT* of ground.



Scanners, psionic receptacles (which can regenerate bullets, repair items, ships etc.) and similar items are introduced and rather cool. What about magic and technology? Well, there is an arcane technology school and a cleric domain (both of which violate standard formatting for lists like that - surprising to see such easily fixed glitches remain when the hard things to change and improve are done) and essentially, magic and technology can be freely combined - true strike sniper rifles? Yes, possible. Spells to highjack machines, clear viruses etc.? Covered. Punch others through the web via Punch by IP? Yes. While cool and catering to my sensibilities, these spells make for problematic laws - while dealing only non-lethal damage, how authorities deal with options like this would be VERY interesting. Oh, and I want to cast Summon Ferret Inside Enemy Spacesuit - yes, this spell exists herein. AWESOME. Speaking of awesome - while I'm not wholly sold on the blending of technology and magic, at least the book wholeheartedly embraces the potential: Cold lasers, bayonets that cause machines to flee, crystals that can be substituted for XP in crafting and even medical units and regenerating pods can be found herein. It should be mentioned that the XP-cost here is, of course, a remnant of 3.X's rulesets and thus pretty much obsolete in PFRPG, but in case you're playing 3.X, this item class should be considered a godsend.



Now what about creatures? The setting herein has Cyborgs -quite a bunch of them, and yes, they can be hacked, their control/torture-chips over-ridden. And yes, we get all the DCs as well as neat artworks for most of the cyborgs - from strange assassin-cyborgs to walking turrets and the Kurian nobles, we get quite a neat array herein. Have I mentioned the Cyborg Tyrannosaurus or the optional ability-upgrade Kurian nobles may get by entering a pact with a demon? Or the fact that the Kurian emperor's brain has been implanted into a gold dragon (yes, there's a template for that!). Living machines are essentially free-willed machines that developed a sentience and have since turned away from their erstwhile creators: Taking imagery from insects, fungi and similar designs, these machines feel distinctly alien, with e.g. the fungi being able to reactivate defeated machines and huge mechanical mantises acting as "living" siege weapons. Have I mentioned undead space pirates? Better yet, where before, here and there wonky rules-representations deviated from established rules-standards, now proper use is made of just about all of them - iconic and cool tricks by e.g. gigantic, intelligent mantis-shaped machines have been streamlined, making this whole chapter, over all, damn cool!



Now, we also get ship-to-ship combat rules - and they are actually rather good: Not using the basic vehicle-rules, though, they allow for multiple characters to act, with the pilot's skill adding to the AC each round, gunners shooting, electronic warfare etc. - a rather significant amount of options are available, though distances are mostly handled on a relative scale, not a simulationalist's scale. We also get a rather impressive array of quick-to-play rules here - mass warfare, Point-blank combat, planetside combat and combat as cruise speed - a surprising and more importantly, surprisingly easy to grasp array of options for proper ship-to ship combat that can keep more than one player engaged is presented here. Kudos! We also get a SIGNIFICANT array of generic ship classes including mass, hp, hd etc., including some planetside combat vehicles like hovertanks. Customization is also rather important -from shield generators, to increased speed, weaponry etc. to actual technology that can be further upgraded via magic, this chapter, if anything, could have been even longer for my tastes - it's by far the most fun and versatile of the chapters so far, even before introducing jammer missiles and all those delightful ship weapons. And yes, all of these components are expensive as sin, but come on - you KNOW you want to blast something to pieces with a friggin' fusion torpedo! IMines have been rolled into another chart, by the way. What's not an oversight, but a tinker's wet dream, would be the massive rules for creating your own ship - tables upon tables upon tables upon tables - easy to understand, expensive, but oh so rewarding. Of course, we also get sample crews and ships by the respective major player fractions, with e.g. Corinthian ships utilizing modules to change type and weaponry - cool idea and solid execution! Oh yes, and there are star- wraiths and pirate ships herein, too!



The next chapter deals with vehicle combat rules - These work mostly analogue to ship combat and include spider-mechs, hover limousines and the like - a rather large array of vehicles, but by far not that many exclusive customization options as the ships - comparatively to the excessive ship options, vehicles receive a relative short end of the stick, but then again, quite a few ship options can conceivably be applied to vehicles as well. Now personally, I would have enjoyed seeing vehicles being impacted more by high/low gravity, but that is admittedly a nitpick.



Chapter 5 then offers Missions, i.e. adventure-outlines, intended for characters between level 6 and 10 and providing basics as well as a general outline and maps. I'll only briefly glance over these, but still: Players should skip to the end of the



SPOILERS



Still here? All right! The first mission is all about two cults warring on Altair, both of which have purchased a biological weapon that now kills the primitive inhabitants. In order to stop the plague, the PCs have to unearth the origin of the plague, its design-specifics from a cell-phone, and request help from Hazioth. In the next mission, they are to follow up on this issue and thus defeat lizardfolk, kobold tinkers' berserk reverse engineered Cyborgs and finally defeat the Kurion spy and his evil druid assistant. The next mission sees the PCs stranded on Tajano, a Kurion-controlled planet, where they'll have to survive in the wasteland, deal in trading bunkers and scavenge in hostile terrain featuring both living machines and marauders - fully mapped, btw.! Finally, the PCs will need to travel to the city of Lixian, where they'll have chances to interact with a living machine nursery and even infiltrate a military base before finally repairing the ship and escaping first the world, and then the system- I would have LOVED this mission being depicted in full-blown mega-adventure-detail - it is rather fun, but due to its format also requires severe work on behalf of the DM to flesh out. The next mission is more straight-forward and has the PCs hired to deal with pirates attacking a particular asteroid-colony -when properly played up, this one may become VERY creepy. Neato. The next mission has an uncommon target - the PCs are to crash a Kurion series and prevent psionic rift drive components from falling into the hands of either competing Kurion nobles. This, of course, is harder than it seems at first and includes infiltration and finally entering a huge ice-lump in space (with ship to steal the prize. Again, neat!

/SPOILERS

The massive appendix includes fluff-only write-ups of sample NPCs, random encounters (CR 6 - 15) and an example for ship to ship combat to help you get how the rules work.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting have vastly improved - while any book of this size is bound to have glitches here and there, this pdf can be considered well-edited. Layout has been streamlined into a uniform style - gone are the printer-draining pages of white text on black background and the 2-column standard is actually nice and makes reading much easier than before. The overall presentation and rules-language has been greatly streamlined to conform more closely to PFRPG-default standards. The pdf comes massively bookmarked with nested bookmarks, a zip containing the copious maps to be printed out separately and additionally, we receive an EXTREMELY printer-friendly second b/w-version of the pdf - now that is service!

Benjamin Martinali's "Between Chains & Starlight" is an extremely ambitious setting - and in its first iteration, it failed to realize to unify all of the copious components, which was to be expected for a project of one man. Still, it did show promise galore and know what? After my admittedly very critical review of the original pdf, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had abandoned the project. It is my utmost pleasure to report that this reviewer at least is very glad he didn't. My criticism, unlike in most books I review, wasn't directed (primarily) on the rules, though some remnants were there that required revision. Instead, the main issue of the first iteration of this setting was simply that its internal logic and writing didn't gel well together.

This is almost an impossible feat to fix and it didn't expect the focus of the revision to actually lie on making the whole setting more consistent.. Benjamin Martinali has done it. I can actually see myself running this system, this setting, with its nigh infinite possibilities. The formal issues of the book have almost completely vanished and version 2.0 does not have any need to hide behind the big setting. From all original full color art, to much more believable, ultimately more interesting renditions of the factions, to better prose and additional content, this is one of the most significant improvements I've seen in my whole career as a reviewer. Now it should be noted that ships and vehicles sport their own rules, so there's not much overlap in that regard with Paizo's take on vehicles - and in this case, this is probably a good idea. What really made me grin from ear to ear were the small parts -the fixing of special energy weapon types, the more "realistic", less stereotype laden-portrayal of societies, the very fact that this massive book simply reads infinitely better than its predecessor.



Let's get that out of the way: "Between Chains and Starlight V.2.0" is a damn good book and even more impressive as the achievement of a single author. It is a labor of love and it shows in all the right ways. Beyond the inspiring ideals and streamlined mechanics, some rough patches can be identified, but a system that, from currency to politics, manages to cover such an extent is damn impressive. Now who does this compare to Necropunk or Amethyst Renaissance? It doesn't - the two are completely distinct entities at this point, with BCaS setting the focus much closer to blending scifi and fantasy...and actually achieving that. Where the former two focus on real world issues, philosophical ideas and transhumanist concepts, struggles between ideologies etc., BCaS is more focused on portraying a fantasy-like take on a scifi setting, moving away from this gravitas into the realms of space opera; mind you, this does not mean that the setting can't support these themes and does touch them, just that it's focus it completely different. Now I *could* nitpick components of the world-building here and there, but that wouldn't do this book justice.



There is one more factor to consider - this is a "Pay what you want"-book on OBS. That's a pretty powerful enticing factor for it. After carefully considering the book's virtues, I can definitely recommend spending at the very least 5 bucks, probably even 10 - 15 on it. Why? Because even if you only end up using some customization options, the weapons or the monsters (or the modules!), you'll get your money's worth.



This is the scifi/space mash-up quite a few people demanded and V.2.0 makes for a compelling, massive and unique setting that has greatly matured since its first iteration. The incorporation of the material from "Dragons in Space" also helps the book alongside added art, maps, expanded space combat etc. Never, for the life of me, would I have imagined this revamp improving the first book to this extent. And know what? I actually might use quite a bunch of the material herein - whether for Iron Gods or one of my numerous scifi-infusions in regular gaming. My final verdict will hence clock in at a very warm recommendation of 4.5 stars; I'd usually round down here due to some unnecessary deviations from the base system and some minor rules-relics, but seeing the amount of bang herein and the generous gesture of making this "pay what you want", I'll instead round up to 5 - people, take a look and give this a read. It is worth your time.



Oh, and my heartfelt congratulations to the author - it takes true dedication to provide such a massive overhaul.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Between Chains and Starlight - version 2.0
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Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/09/2015 04:57:41
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, so, unsurprisingly, this installment of mythic magic once again provides mythic versions for all spells contained within one of Paizo's big hardcovers, this time around the Advanced Races Guide. If the spell is not in the original Mythic Adventures hardcover, rest assured it can be found herein. Now if you're a regular follower of my reviews, you'll know that I consider the ARG a disaster balance-wise, but that thankfully has no bearing on the spells therein and their mythic equivalents, so let's take a look!



As per the standard of this series, we kick off with a list of the mythic spells contained herein in an alphabetical spell-list - as a selection of different spells from a racial book, we actually have mythic spells take a pretty cool turn in that they provide interaction with the abilities of monsters - take the first one Aboleth's Lung, which may be not only augmented to provide swim speed, but also ignore the effects of aboleth mucus? Or Ironbeard, which can be made much more potent both in its defensive and offensive capacities?



No on more of a craftsmanship's perspective, one could for example take a look at Gusting Sphere, which not only has the save changed from negates to half and increased damage, but also adds bull rush and the augment option to affect all creatures in range - yes, this may not be a unique effect, but it radically changes the parameters of an otherwise pretty subpar spell into something different and more versatile - and I'm definitely game for that! Half-blood extraction can be an unpleasant spell regarding its in-game ramifications - the reduced costs via mythic tier and, per augment, mythic power, do offer an interesting point, though: Think of truebloods waging war on the half-bloods/vice-versa; Tales of Symphonia, anyone?



The resistance/immunity-ignoring hellmouth lash is also a pretty nifty version that surpasses the original. Of course, modifications of action economy can be found herein as well, as are mythic power-fueled condition worsening and rendering ghost wolves incorporeal without inconveniencing the rider and e.g. relatively boring damage spells that receive an upgrade via enforcing a miss chance on those hit. On the interesting side, one can also definitely mention fearsome duplicate, which has your ability to maintain it in spite of damage etc. increased for an uncommon, defensive improvement



Speaking of uncommon interactions - linebreaker. That one lets your ally charge through difficult terrain and if the target creature is mythic, it can use its own mythic power to execute a combat maneuver when charging and yes, the potency is greater when cast on yourself. This synergy/combo-potential. Miasmatic mist's sight-blocking new qualities also make for a rather cool tricks. Allowing sacred spaces to be enhanced with light effects, including a potentially dazzling daylight-effect also makes for a thematically fitting enhancement. Speaking through Sentry Skulls (thankfully minus casting/item activation) may be nice, but is not even close to sow thought. This one's mythic version is pretty much an inspiring campaign seed waiting to happen - why? Because it offers a way to make the thoughts you sow contagious, potentially allowing for a module of propaganda warfare and similar uncommon ideas - politics-storylines just got yet another nifty trick to spring upon PCs...



Now not all of the spells reach this abject level of awesome, with e.g. truespeak only netting an additional bonus to cha-based checks due to linguistic familiarity and pleasing diction and a slight DC-increase for language-based tricks, but I guess they can't all be awesome. Sharing and changing the effects of Ward of the Season fluidly makes for another module waiting to happen - if you require an idea there, just drop me a line!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally pretty good, though not perfect: I noticed a couple of typo-level/formatting glitches like e.g. fire trail being once referred to as fie tail. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full color standard with neat artworks in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, oddly once again with a couple of faulty bookmarks before the proper ones - 4 spells, out of order. They don't impede functionality, though, so no biggie. The pdf comes extensively hyperlinked, with each spell pointing towards its non-mythic version on d20pfsrd.com.



Jason Nelson's latest mythic magic-installment once again can be called a non-optional book. If you use ARG's spells in your mythic campaign, you quite frankly need these. Now while there are some straight, relative solid mechanical progressions versions that indulge in number/power-escalation, the mythic versions herein usually tend to also sport one or two different tactical options - numerical bonuses are boring and these spells, even if they go for that route, tend to add an interesting component to the fray. And then there are the downright inspired ones with combo potential, unique benefits and cool synergies. While not perfect, I always tend to reward creativity and inspired ideas over minor issues - and this book sports that in spades, more so than the mythic magic installment that converted Ultimate Magic. That being said, there are a couple of not so awesome spells herein and the pdf feels slightly, by a margin, less versatile in its takes than the advanced spells-take on the APG, thus missing my seal by a teeny, tiny margin that should not keep you from getting this cool pdf. Final verdict? 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells II
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Hex Crawl Chronicles 7 The Golden Meadows - Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 04:35:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the HCC-series clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This being a Hex Crawl Chronicle-installment, this module represents a combination of supplement and adventure hooks for a massive toolbox a given DM can develop - a massive sandbox in the truest sense. Thus, the following review cannot hope to contain all of the various things going on within these pages and thus, I will endeavor to instead provide a broad overview of what can be found herein.



Thus, the following review contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here?



The Golden Meadows are a vast swath of land that covers, map-wise alone, two-pages of hexes, with mountains, rivers and a huge lake - oh, and the meadows are actually just a few hexes in a vast desert. Yeah, didn't see that one coming did you? The population of the lands herein are marked by a cataclysm in days long past, with goblinmen, mutated unfortunates and Vegans (no relation to the dietary choice) constituting the main populace - the latter saw their empire perish, yes, and nowadays, grey travelers, (yep, the iconic aliens) with their tame ankhegs roam the plains. The primary populace of humans belong to the ethnicity of golden men, which I already covered in reviews of earlier HCC-installments.



But what can be experienced, you ask? What about caravans using translucent century worm? Clashing giant eagles? Predatory, intelligent sand? Perhaps the PCs even stumble into the Death Valley like domain of dread ogre magus Lord Zkott or find a mini-dungeon, wherein knowledge of tarot may provide crucial hints...or perhaps they succumb to greed, thus freeing an ancient evil.



Statues of those vanquished, forever crying alchemical tears and weird mazes of red bricks below the surface provide a sense of continuity, of recurrence. Black pyramids rise from the plains and vampires await fresh blood in order to hatch their eggs and swarms of killer prawns and vampiric squirrels add a nice sense of the funny and odd to the fray - the later btw. with a stunning b/w-artwork commemorating its attack pose. Damn cool! Amazons far away from home, unique spirits of mischief and even a planar/interstellar brothel beckon on these plains...though the latter risks evoking the ire of one particular nasty demi-goddess.



You may have noticed the sheer amount of odd creatures I mentioned - yes, there is a massive appendix herein and yes, the focus in this installment lies far less on humanoids -and I like that in this case. The humanoid builds tend to be a bit linear, but seeing how much ingenuity is herein, this should not be considered a detriment.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are very good - I noticed no truly grievous glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's two-column b/w standard and artworks and cartography are indeed nice, though I wished we had key-less versions of the cartography. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



John M. Stater knows how to evoke an absolutely unique and compelling sense of old-school wonder; I've stated time and again how much this awesome series of modules has to offer and what excellent bang for buck you get here. Now, while some installments have fallen slightly behind this level of sheer imaginative creativity and joy, this one is right on par with the best in the series - with subdued nods to our own world, a lot of hints that *can* be used to develop certain interpretations, but need not be used thusly, this HCC offers a glorious blend of the common and the weird, a sense of a world somewhere between Rober E. Howard-style Sword & Sorcery and the post-apocalyptic, a world that has moved on. Here and there, high magic and boundless wonders await in the golden meadows and should suffice to entertain a group of players for at least a couple of months - there's simply so much going on, so much spirit. It's not always about the mechanics, it is about catching that spark, that sense of wonder. This one achieves just that. I love it. It's one of the best in the series and whether to expand Numeria or run it on its own, it's a glorious cornucopia of ideas well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hex Crawl Chronicles 7 The Golden Meadows - Pathfinder Edition
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Urban Dressing: Decadent Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 04:32:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This pdf, like all of the new and improved Urban Dressings, begins with a massive table of 100 entries describing sights and sounds to be found within these towns - and here, I expected a problem. The very word decadence implies an oscillation between excessive pleasure-seeking and simply massive spending of a frivolous manner, while also carrying connotations of squalor and decreptitude lurking beneath a civilized veneer. Surprisingly, this table actually manages to convey this oscillation in its vastly diverse entries - from frivolous uses of money and power to examples of the utter vanity of the ruling classes, a certain sense of sinister dread manages to slowly seep from the entries of this UD's columns - great job!



The 50 sample businesses provided in the second table further enhance this impression - from hairdressers to overpriced weapons to luxury coffin makers, this array of businesses aptly depicts the folly and eccentricities of people with frankly too much gold to spend - though I have to say that, personally, I would have enjoyed slightly more unsavory establishments beyond black market et al.



The third table herein, once again spanning 50 entries, covers, surprise, a lot of diverse aristocracy in short fluff-centric entries as well as the odd assassin with an underserved reputation and the people catering to the ruling classes' tastes as well as the odd, mad beggar.



The final table provides a total of 20 hooks and complications - from being challenged to duels by foppish dandies, to witnessing the utter indifference to the plight of lower classes and the theft from those recently slain to being asked to pay the "tourist tax" by some not-so-friendly guards, each hook at least can be developed into an encounter or even full-blown adventure.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.





Well, as a goth, the one hymn that kept returning to my mind was "My kind of town" - Frank's words seemed to resound with the very concept of this pdf and I enjoyed it. That being said, this may be just me, but this time around, it feels like Josh Vogt's Decadent Town-dressing lacks a bit the sleazy aspect, the outrage corruption beneath the surface; the drug-dens and decadent past times. The lurking memento mori beneath the surface, the presence of death and a fin de siècle like sense of impending doom. The pdf partially manages to capture this very elusive mood, but in other instances, it felt more like a window into a foppish/snobbish town rather than a decadent one. Admittedly, the tone is exceedingly hard to hit, but I feel Josh Vogt manages to partially, but not wholly, accomplish it. Hence, for now, my final verdict will "only" clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Decadent Town
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Prestige Archetype: The Shadow Monk
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 04:30:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



So, what is the shadow monk? Well remember the shadow dancer PrC? Two classes were predestined for it - rogue and monk; Well, since the Prestige Archetype Shadow Dancer is the roguish one, this one is the shadow dancer/monk-combo-built. As such, the class receives proficiency with monk weapons, have a wis-based scaling AC-bonus, 3/4 BAB-progression, all good saves and scale unarmed attack damage up to 2d10, with the tables for small/large monk damage outputs thankfully provided as well. From level 1, flurry of blows is part of the picture, 2nd level evasion - no complaints there. However, the third level once again provides hide in plain sight in its strongest variant a couple of levels too early for my tastes. Unlike the roguish shadowdancer, the shadow monk powers his spell-like abilities with ki and gains them earlier at 6th, 8th, 15th and 18th level, receiving 2 options per level. Alas, the spell-like ability/spells-confusion of the shadow dancer also haunts the shadow monk.



Shadow jump and high-level tricks like timeless body, empty body etc. remain and the capstone, once again, is an apotheosis, while the signature quivering palm is gained at 15th level.



The pdf comes with FCOs for the core races and sample NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's Shadow Monk is haunted by the very same issues as the shadow dancer, with perhaps one notable difference - where the shadow dancer may have seemed like an upgrade for rogues (though not as cool an upgrade as the stellar Prestige Archetype Assassin), the shadow monk fails to deliver that - partially due to the weakness of the monk base-class and its, at least per default, utterly bland ability-progression. More so than any other combination before, these guys could have used some unique tricks to set them aside. The ki-powered shadow abilities actually decrease the appeal of the class - some of the coolest and most efficient feats and options for the monk require the expenditure of ki and further diminishing that resource makes in this case for a poor design decision that further limits the options instead of providing much needed breadth. Add to that the minor glitch and very early hide in plain sight and we have perhaps one of the weakest installment so far in the series. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to this being too good to deserve a two-star flurry of rating-slapping.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Shadow Monk
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Psychological Combat
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 03:08:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now this pdf kicks off with the crucial question - what is this pdf and why use it. First of all - feint and demoralize are the odd rules components out when compared to Pathfinder's otherwise streamlined combat maneuver mechanics - this pdf streamlines this to introduce a psychology DC. The DC would be 10+ HD+wis-mod or 10+sense motive bonus, whichever is higher - simple, easy to calculate on the fly - so kudos there. But also, at least so far, not that new.



Where things become more interesting would be with the new antagonize action. This can be used via Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate or Handle Animal, depending on creature targeted. Also depending on the skill you use, on your creature type in relation to the type you target, etc, we receive different benefits. If you successfully manage to antagonize a foe, you hamper their options to execute AoOs etc. - essentially, this would be "drawing aggro" from targets akin to Path of War's Warders, only for every character and better balanced due to a better scaling DC-system/presence of a DC in the first place. The pdf also fixes Demoralize by including the rules for fear immunity/mind-affecting components, fixing a whole in the rules. Kudos!



Okay, now the new morale system is what essentially makes this revision worthy of a second look by yours truly - the rather clunky, counter-intuitive original system has been replaces with a MUCH more elegant solution: A circumstantial variance from -5 to +5, depending on circumstances, to saves and psychology DC. While this may not sound like much, the implementation is exceedingly easy to grasp, plays smoothly and requires no work whatsoever on part of the DM - glorious!



After a short piece of aptly-written IC-prose, we are introduced to new class options to help against the effects of psychological warfare - alchemists receive a new cognatogen, barbarians a means to antagonize and deal damage as well as a mini-archetype focused on provoking foes. Brads may learn a new masterpiece to AoE-antagonize foes with a scathing satire and fighters may opt for a lightly-armored master of wits. Witches receive a hex which allows them to declare targets antagonized against her allies, while still reaping the benefits of the condition, while rogues receive talents for better feat qualification, feinting, teamwork feats and even the inquisitor's solo tactics. Beyond that, treating flanking allies as qualifying for teamwork feats is a neat advanced talent, while the rapscallion mini-archetype is better at psychological warfare and may sneak attack foes that are demoralized, etc. (go synergy with Dreads, for example...); the rapscallion loses evasion, though, so be cautious...



Speaking of inquisitors - these guys receive a new inquisition which allows them to use wis instead of int for the purposes of feat-prerequisites and now also receive the interrogator mini-archetype - think of interrogation specialists, medieval style, with fitting bonus spells. The true winner here, though, would be the cavalier: Not only does this poor, under-supported class receive a nice new order with the Order of the Dazzling Lotus - an order devoted to heroics, righteousness and one's country and also a master of seeking retribution and inflicting scathing tirades upon his foes. Now Braggarts are perhaps one of the most interesting archetypes I've seen in quite a while - so inflated is their ego, these guys do treat EVERY combat as a performance combat. This mechanic and its way of bringing performance combats and its effects into game are elegant and damn cool - kudos! The second archetype for the cavalier would be the challenger, an archetype that has essentially an antagonize-based variant of solo tactics- interesting as well, if not as iconic as the braggart. Both slayer and investigator are also covered in this new and enhanced version, receiving their very own tools of the trade. Kudos for going above and beyond with these additions!



A total of 9 (2 more than before) feats, each of which also comes with a second, mythic version, have been provided herein - combining maneuvers with antagonizing targets, ranged feinting,, using wild empathy for psychological warfare versus beasts. Especially interesting - the improved/greater variants of the maneuvers: Improved antagonize decreases the action-type it takes, while its greater variant allows you to plant a suggestion for a specific tactic in your foe's head. Generally, interesting and well-crafted feats. The two new ones help regain panache on natural 20s when using psychological combat and a new teamwork feat (alas, missing the descriptor) allows you to double-team foes with psychological pressure.



The final page offers a total of 7 new traits, 4 combat, 3 social - tying wis to intimidate instead of cha, better resistance versus taunts, using cha to determine your psychology-DC or better intimidation versus kids and animals - all there. And yes, I do like the fact that there's such a trait in here - after all, we all knew that *one* woman or man down the street we ALL were afraid of, since we knew they hated children...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is generally very good - I did not notice significant glitches that would have impeded my understanding of the rules presented herein. Layout adheres to a nice, beautiful and printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with several neat pieces of original full color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Alexander Augunas is not a novice designer, and it shows - the explanation of the rules herein is pretty concise, easy to grasp and mathematically feasible. The new antagonize option is glorious and something that has been absent from games for too long. Additionally, the fixing of demoralize et al. was long overdue. Did you know that Alex founded Everyman Gaming specifically to publish this pdf? Well, let's say it shows. While the original psychological combat was nice, the streamlined morale system makes this pdf much, much better and to boot, we actually get more content as well!



This is the level of customer support that deserves true acknowledgement, especially for such a small press. You may recall that I loved the original psychological combat - I ADORE this revision. I'm not kidding when I'm saying that quite a few pdfs I've bought have seen so much immediate resonance at my table, so much use in such a short time. This is an unpretentious, humble pdf, one that may not sparkle and shine (though it *is* beautiful AND has plenty of original artwork!) in a glory-hounding way; Yes, some class options may not blow me away; BUT the streamlining of psychological combat, the new maneuver, the awesome traits, the added content - all of that make this pdf a TRUE GEM. You will hardly find any pdf in this exceedingly low price range that enhances your game as this gem does; Now, bereft of its one mayor flaw, psychological combat stands as a shining example of what small presses can do to enrich our game. This little pdf has managed thus to not only gain 5 stars + seal of approval and become a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014, it also receives immediate EZG Essential status as one of the basic pdfs I will henceforth require all my players in all my campaigns to have read. This is a true must-buy file.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psychological Combat
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Prestige Archetype: The Duelist
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 03:05:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Duelist receives d10, 2+int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good ref- and fort-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light armors and shields. While only lightly armored and wielding a manufactured weapon, the duelist adds up to class level Int-mod to AC and CMD and adds class level to damage when attacking with light or one-handed piercing weapons, but only against targets with discernible anatomies. Additionally, the prestige archetype receives weapon finesse at first level and dodge and bravery at 2nd.



At 3rd and 13th level, initiative increases by +2 respectively. At 3rd level, parry is gained - and well, it's different from what you imagined. The prestige archetype does not need to forego attacks to executes parry anymore, with the maximum number of parries per round now being governed by the total class levels of the prestige archetype, scaling up to 4 parries per round at 18th level. While the size-discrepancy penalties are still here, the mechanic still relies on competing attack rolls. Now as an interesting balance mechanic for AoOs, the duelist becomes staggered on the round following after executing one or more parries - which would be per se cool, were there no ring of ferocious actions, which allows you to negate that condition 5/day as a free action - for only 3000 GP. I'd advise DMs to disallow this item when using duelists. Another issue is that the class does not specify whether its parries can be used to prevent combat maneuvers - while logic dictates they can, the ability does not specify so. Personally, I am not a fan of d20 vs. d20 in Pathfinder, mainly due to the discrepancy and role of luck in the comparison of dice, but math-wise, as far as comparing rolls go, this still works, so no penalty rating-wise.



At 5th level, duelists may execute AoOs after successful parries and increased ref-saves, mobility, +int-mod AoOs per round (stacking with combat reflexes) -generally okay abilities. At high levels, AoOs versus any target who misses a defensively fighting/total defense-using duelist and AoOs versus withdrawing foes make for nice effects. At the highest levels, DR and additional, nasty effects for crits are added to the mix.



As always, we receive FCOs for core-races and a level 1, 5, 10 and 15 sample NPC-build.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The Duelist-PrC is one of those anachronisms from the beginning of PFRPG, indebted to what amounts to obsolete rules-philosophy and 3.X remnants and thus, I was looking forward to this prestige archetype. The Duelist as re-envisioned by Carl Cramér herein makes for an interesting take and should generally be considered solid - I am not a fan of the parry mechanics, but at least they are not the horribly broken mess that was the PrC's original parrying - no longer being useless due to the separation from losing attacks, the parry-feature as provided herein is pretty strong. I am not a big fan of roll vs. roll, but generally, the prestige archetype can be considered pretty solid in its mechanics and at least, the scaling of roll vs. roll in this case is well-implemented. I'd probably be much more enthusiastic, had Dreadfox Games not covered the dexterous, smart combatant infinitely more challenging and cool with the superb Swordmaster. In direct comparison, the new duelist, mostly due to the abysmal heritage it had to face, is just a pretty defensive class without truly stunning tricks to pull off - not bad, but also far away from blowing me away.

This is definitely an improvement over the rather sad original PrC, but it still falls quite short of what it could have easily been - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Duelist
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