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The Wraith
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/02/2018 18:29:16

Disclaimer: I backed the Patreon that helped to create this class, and paid the full price for it.

It's been awhile since we've had a new base class for Spheres of Power - the more recent Spheres of Might and Champions of the Spheres have had their own classes, but the Wraith is a true spherecaster. The Wraith is a mid-BAB, mid-spherecasting class with good Reflex and Will saves.

This class focuses on three powers: An incorporeal wraith form (usable in rounds/day), a Haunt Path (the manifestation of their haunting powers, with many thematic choices), and Wraith Haunts (special abilities gained at 3rd and every odd level thereafter to improve the Wraith's powers). Between the flexibility of spherecasting, the many path choices, and the multitude of haunts, the Wraith is a flexible class and builds can end up playing very differently.

All in all, this is a solid addition to the spherecasting roster - and a great choice if you want to play a character that's on the spooky side.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Wraith
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5th Edition Horror
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/20/2018 14:18:30

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

I won't lie - there are parts of horror I love. In fact, my main 5th Edition character is a Warlock of a Great Old One (albeit a slightly silly one - a homebrewed entity of paradoxes). While I don't play full-on horror with the character, I do like to draw from the tropes and make use of them in various ways, such as by manipulating Dreams to bother NPCs who've offended my character. The point I'm trying to make is that I have a personal interest in any products I think might support that character, especially those from reputable publishers like Fat Goblin Games.

This product is a full-color, 132-page PDF. The artwork is primarily black-and-white, in keeping with the genre, but is generously sprinkled throughout the product. Four pages are used for the covers and general legal information, plus a table of contents - the rest of this product is almost solidly rules and other information.

The interior is broken down into 11 chapters of content, prefaced by an introduction that explains the themes and provides more detail about the rest of the book.

Chapter 1 focuses on Horror Roleplaying and how to add these kinds of creepy elements to what is, quite frankly, a heroic fantasy game. The two genres don't mix easily, and it's up to the GM to add horror in a way that works for the players instead of just annoying them. (Tip: Mood music helps.) Helpfully, the book describes several ways to include horror, ranging from the troubles of war to smaller-scale encounters that can provide a dose of the genre without sending the whole campaign into the abyss.

Chapter 2 is where we start to get real rules stuff thanks to its focus on Horror Races. The options here include things like changelings, graveborn (playable undead), shadelings, were-kin, and "wretched" (imperfect undead, in the style of Frankenstein's Monster). This section is mostly focused on rules, and the races only have a short writeup - it'll be up to you to elaborate on how they fit into your world. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Chapter 3 is the big draw for a lot of people and focuses on Horror Classes. It opens with the Apothecary, a potion-making class similar to a 9th-level caster. It will feel familiar to anyone who enjoyed the Alchemist in Pathfinder, but it doesn't really do Bombs for the heavy offense. It also has a few near-dead levels at 7th, 11th, and 18th - the improvement to their "Byproducts" (Cantrips) at those levels can help, but I think the class could use some minor improvements at those levels to make them feel a bit more exciting - especially 7th and 18th.

Following the Apothecary, we get some additional subclasses (including things like the Possessed Berserker, the Bards' College of Tragedy, and the Paladin's Oath of Light). Note that some of these are anti-horror, making this product more helpful for games that are about overcoming the darkness than just surviving it. Some subclasses may be better for NPCs than players, though - not because of power concerns, but because horror tends to come from the GM's side of the screen.

Chapter 4 adds new Horror Backgrounds. which are suitable for players or NPCs helping them out. These include the Monster Hunter, Investigator, Innocent, Mad, and Survivor backgrounds. Some of these have alternate features, giving them a little more flexibility.

Chapter 5 focuses on Skills and Feats, and this is actually really nice. The main new skill is Monster Lore - but rather than asking people to spread their limited skill proficiencies any thinner, Monster Lore is given to classes that deal with certain types of foes more often and relies on the Derived Skill system to supplement it. For example, Clerics traditionally know a lot about Undead, so they can use Religion to gain more information on them. (This will feel fairly familiar to anyone who used Knowledge checks to identify foes in Pathfinder.)

The next section focuses on new feats. As always, these are optional within a game, but they do provide a variety of thematic new abilities (such as artistic talent, bravery, or acceptance by the undead) appropriate for Horror campaigns.

Chapter 6 focuses on new Equipment. This includes using a variety of improvised tools (like meat hooks of skillets), as well as new equipment packs that support particular things. Following that, we get a collection of new items like a book of lore, a neck guard to protect from vampire bites, and a plaguemask if you really want that classic Black Death doctor look.

Chapter 7 focuses on Magic and Mysteries, including a selection of new spells. This section includes things like a necromancy cantrip dealing necrotic damage, transforming into an undead, reverting lycanthropes to their normal form, and summoning dark hands to grapple foes. There's nothing especially crazy here. This product also presents new rituals, including ways for non-casters to attempt to cast certain rituals (which will, quite frequently, go rather badly wrong - in true Horror fashion).

Chapter 8 ends the focus on player rules as it switches over to Horrific Hazards that GMs can use. These hazards include multiple options each for poisons, diseases, and haunts.

Chapter 9 focuses on Fear and Madness effects, including insanity. Quite a few of these effects are random, helping to mirror the uncontrollable nature of many mind-blasting things. Man, I do wish my Warlock could throw a few of these at people... it really does fit them. Alas, my GM might yell at me if I tried. Oh well!

Chapter 10 offers some suggestions for Creating and Running Horror-based Adventures, complete with a variety of plot hooks.

Finally, Chapter 11 introduces a variety of Monsters and Cults, including many ready-to-run stat blocks you can use for horrific creatures. Some of these are definitely nastier than others, including the CR 15 Aspect of Death and several new types of dragons(!).

Overall, this is a solid product for horror games. It's not focused on Lovecraftian horror, mind you - sorry to everyone who likes the Great Old Ones and their tentacles. Wait for Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5E if that's what you're looking for. This tome is more about undead, creepy dolls, and haunted locations. It's quite comprehensive, too, offering many new choices and rules for both players and GMs. If you're looking for a little (or a lot) more horror, this product is worth getting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Horror
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Shadows over Vathak: Ina'oth - Echo of Plagues
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/06/2018 19:36:58

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This is a 32-page, full-color product generously sprinkled with character and scenic art. Five of these pages are covers, legal stuff, and an ad at the back, leaving us with 27 pages of actual content. As the description above explains, this is a first-level adventure, complete with pre-generated characters suitable for the world of Shadows Over Vathak.

What the description doesn't mention is that you'll need access to the Player's Guide to Vathak to use some of the pre-gens. For example, the pre-gen Kiza Brova is a first-level Soldier (PGtV 146), with several abilities only available there. You can, of course, use pre-gens from elsewhere, but they won't match the setting quite as well. Mind you, the Player's Guide to Vathak is a good book and I recommend getting it, but you should definitely know about the need for it before you buy this product.

The adventure opens with a few hooks for first-level players, and includes helpful things like a map of the region to help you determine where events are taking place. It's not a full setting overview, but it's nice to have. The adventure itself has several potential combats, as well as a strong selection of social encounters where you can really play up the atmosphere of this setting. Length-wise, this adventure feels a bit like an extended Scenario to me - maybe half a level of stuff. You may want to intersperse it with additional encounters, or have a few roadside fights along the way to the PCs' next destination.

Either way, it's a solid way to open a game in the Shadows Over Vathak setting. The art is of excellent quality, and it's not afraid to be itself instead of trying to rigidly conform to the typical fantasy-realm formula. If you're planning to play in Vathak, I recommend this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Ina'oth - Echo of Plagues
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Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos - Pathfinder
Publisher: Petersen Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/22/2018 23:22:33

8/22/18 Update: The book is objectively better now that the old, painted figurine art has been replaced.

Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter that created this product and paid the full price there for both the physical and digital copies of this product. As a crowdfunding backer, I received a physical copy well in advance of its wider public release (and, in fact, had it at the time of this review). I was given a free copy of the digitial version of this product here on DriveThruRPG for the purpose of this review.

Now, there's a lot to get into with this product, and I'm not sure I actually have the space here. That's why my full review of this product can be found over in the Discussion tab, where I go into great detail about what you can expect to find throughout this particular book. If you're not sure whether or not you want this product, I strongly recommend hopping to the other tab and reading that in full - by the end, you should have all the information you need.

As a briefer summary, however, this is primarily a GM product. While it includes some player-focused options, including archetypes, feats, and the like, many of these are most appropriate for things the players will face (unless your game is all about being servants of Mythos things, in which case this is the best Pathfinder supplement on the topic, period).

Aside from common things like archetypes and spells, this book features grimoires, unique artifacts, a new Dread mechanic, and best of all, Elder Influences. These are a new type of challenge within the game, about halfway between a monster and an environmental effect, and they represent the way that Mythos creatures can impact the world by their mere presence. Reality itself gets weird when these things show up, and many of them are a serious challenge for even high-level parties. For example, Hastur the Unspeakable has an effect where each of his manifestations can only be observed - and affected - by one person. Sure, the raging super barbarian may be able to smash his way through, but will the squishy sorcerer find it quite so easy? Perhaps not. And he's far from the worst threat the Outer Gods and Great Old Ones offer.

This book is worth full price for the Elder Influences alone, but they only comprise a part of this hefty tome. There are also a variety of new creatures, new races (including a cat race, which works better than you might expct), and references to mythos stuff published in other books so you don't have to go digging through all of them.

Put simply, this book is the best Mythos-themed product for Pathfinder. Period. If you want Cthulhu, or anything related to Cthulhu, this is the book to get. For manufacturing reasons, physical copies of this weren't widely available at the time of this review. I have mine, and they should be more widely available to the public once the second printing arrives, but when I wrote this you may be limited to the PDF version. (That said, the hard copy is pretty nice - good quality paper, a cloth bookmark, and crisp printing for the illustrations.)

Overall, I'm extremely happy with this product, and I think it was absolutely worth my initial investment. The rules content (i.e. the huge majority of the book) is fabulous, and the updated art is much nicer than the old miniature pictures were. I rate this product 5/5 and strongly recommend it to everyone who wants more Mythos in their Pathfinder.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos - Pathfinder
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Strange Magic 2 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Interjection Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/29/2018 15:56:36

Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter that created this product and paid for the component parts. I received my copy of this compilation as part of that.

All right, if you looked over the description, you probably know whether or you want this product. If you jumped right down here to see what buyers think, well, I suggest going back up and looking things over. Otherwise, here's what you should know.

Like its predecessor Strange Magic 1 (itself a great product, worth checking out), Strange Magic 2 offers a collection of flavorful and unique classes for Pathfinder. This volume includes Herbalism, Cartomancy, and Onmyodo.

Herbalism is a kind of chaos system where you gather ingredients and mix/use them for a variety of effects. It's an impressively robust system with powers that change based on the kind of area you're in. It's not for people who like to meticulously plan their abilities each day (lookin' at you, Wizard fans), but it's great if you enjoy improvisation and adapting.

Cartomancy uses an actual deck of cards that allow them to cast spell-like abilities, complete with drawing, discarding, and even making a special side deck for bonus powers. If you enjoy collectible or trading card games, you'll see a lot of familiar things here. It's a very different feel from simply poring over your current list of spells to see what you can do, and the fact that you're a lot more active about managing your abilities is an interesting way of getting more involved with what's going on.

Onmyodo is mainly about placing and using Talismans, as well as commanding a Shikigami (paper) familiar. They can also petition their deity(s) for aid in various ways. This class is the most familiar to systems you're probably already familiar with, and it emphasizes a highly thematic way of playing an exorcist/priest sort of character.

Now, author Bradley Crouch is one of my favorite third-party content creators, and with good reason - the math and systems of the things he creates are solid and fair while still trending towards unique and fun to play. Strange Magic isn't for everyone, but if you're looking for an interesting new way to fulfill a character concept, it's worth taking a look at this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Strange Magic 2 (PFRPG)
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Treasure Chests: 5th Edition Fantasy
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2018 18:36:01

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This is an 18-page black-and-white product, about 14 pages of which are content. Within these pages are 26 different types of chests, many of which have unique designs and effects. For example, the Attunement Case stops items from losing attunement due to distance, while the Decoy Chest is rather explosive while opened. Naturally, this product is intended entirely for GMs - and it's a good way to spice up the distribution of loot. After all, chests that get descriptions tend to be more fun.

Other than that... I'm really not sure what else to say about this. XD If you've gotten this far, you probably know whether or not you want to add this to your game - and for the price, I do think it offers a lot of potential fun. Like all GM-focused tools, though, it's all in what you make of it. For the best results, I'd look for a way to make the chest more plot-relevant, maybe with some art to help it be even more memorable for the players.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasure Chests: 5th Edition Fantasy
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The Abjurer's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/27/2018 12:50:25

Disclaimer: I backed the Patreon campaign to create this product and paid full price for it.

This is a 37-page, full-color product. The Protection sphere is an interesting one, covering many different ways of shielding characters from the challenges of their world. This book opens with a selection of new archetypes, including:

The Faithful Shepherd (a Cleric who specializes in healing and protecting

The Impossible Warrior (a Fighter who's especially good at countering magic)

The Living Weapon (an Armorist who summons pure magic for defense)

The Marshal Controller (a Mageknight who gains Practitioner talents and can set down rules)

The Shield of the Gods (an Inqusitor who can quickly create protections)

There are also a number of new class abilities, including Armorists' Arsenal Tricks, an Eliciter Emotion, a Hedgewitch Secret and Tradition, an Incanter Mastery, some Mageknight Mystic Combats, some Magus Arcana, and a few Rogue Talents. It's a nice spread of abilities, and helpful even for people who aren't playing Spherecaster classes.

After this, we get into the new Basic Talents. The Abjurer's Handbook introduces Succor talents, which can be used by sacrificing an existing aegis. Healing Aegis and Luck are errata'd to be Succor talents, and Healing Aegis has had its spell point cost removed. This part of the book also gives some clarifications on stacking aegises and setting up barriers.

New basic talents include things like giving allies a miss chance, creating a series of barriers that fill specific squares (and must be destroyed individually or with AoE attacks!), and designating a warded creature as a friend who can be immune to sphere and supernatural effects that target the area they're in (even if those effects aren't from the caster).

New Advanced Talents include things like creating permanent wards and tying defenses so they're extremely effective against a specific foe (but not anything else). We also get two new Incantations (Demonseal and Impenetrable Dome) and a Ritual (Arcane Rune, which is cousin to a certain famous explosive spell).

The Feats section offers a variety of new abilities, though no new feat types this time around. We do, however, get a lot of Dual Sphere powers, as well as a multitude of Protection-focused options that let you do things like use your Base Attack Bonus for your Caster Level (handy for full and 3/4ths BAB characters!) or ignore difficult terrain (more helpful if someone in the group is good at making that).

After three Traits, we get a series of new Drawbacks and a collection of items, including new weapon and armor properties, things for a Protection staff, a scaling item, and more.

The book closes out with a one-page Player's Guide, which looks at several ways of playing a Protection-focused character and how to get the most from them.

Overall, this is a solid addition to the Handbook lineup and well worth a 5/5 rating.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Abjurer's Handbook
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Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Spirit
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/13/2018 18:46:20

Disclaimer: I purchased this product at full price.

As the name suggests, this is an expansion to the Spirit talents of the Nature sphere. The core of this is three new basic talents - one that lets you speak with vermin, one that gives you concealment (20% or Spell Point for 50%), and one that causes vermin to treat you in a friendlier way.

After that, we get several new feats. These include options for granting Spirit powers to additional allies, some dual sphere feats to blend it with the Enhancement or Alteration spheres, and a pair of drawback feats that let you poison the land to decrease the cost of metamagic feats and improve your caster level. Plus the general drawback that lets you do it in the first place. This handbook definitely leans a little towards darker character concepts.

Overall, it's a tidy little expansion, and not a bad value for the price you're paying. I'd have liked to see one or two more options here (that'd bring it closer in line to some of the other Apocrypha books - 11 or 12 options for players is about right), but if you really like Spirit talents, you'll find some good options in here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Spirit
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Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Earth
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2018 12:30:29

Disclaimer: I bought a copy of this product at full price.

This is a 5-page PDF, three pages of which are actually content. This product opens with five new geomancing talents, including ones that expand the radius of talents based on how many you know, provide bonuses to your AC and CMD while concentrating on earth spells or standing on the ground, breaks apart the earth to create dirt or sand, turn dirt or sand into rock (both could be handy), and try to push burrowing targets towards the surface (<- very situational, probably not worth taking in most games).

Next, we have a rare expansion - a few spellcrafted options, including options to Bless/Curse the ground, improve the user's land speed, create a mudslide, generate a sand barrier, and create a sandstorm that spawns stalagmites. An appendix at the back provides reminders about cave-ins.

All in all, this is a tidy and affordable product. Obviously, it's most useful to anyone dedicated to the Earth group of talents (and I wouldn't really recommend it outside of that), but it's nice to see a few more talents being made available.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Earth
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Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Fire
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2018 12:28:04

Disclaimer: I purchased my copy of this product at full price.

This is the third entry in the Spheres Apocrypha series, and as the name suggests, it focuses on fire talents for the Nature Sphere. The PDF itself is four pages, two of which are actual content. On first read, some of the talents felt a little like they were leaning into other Spheres. The Dragonlung talent, for example, gives you a breath weapon - and to an extent, that also fits with the Alteration and Destruction spheres. It also makes sense with Nature, though, and I'm not overly bothered by its presence there.

Other new talents include things like a big boost to the size category of flames you can create (going up to CL 35, should that be relevant), flying on flames (rather like a Kineticist), and create a path through difficult terrain that allies can use. That's not very good on its own, but the Nature sphere has a lot of battlefield alteration abilities, and it might combo pretty well with other talents.

New advanced talents include exploding in fire and reforming with temporary HP and creating a truly massive fire (that might hit allies if they're not prepared!).

Supplementing the talents, we have three new feats. One lets you heal while using Feed on Fire, a Dual Sphere talent lets you apply effects from the Light sphere when creating fire (<- this is a great choice for a Dual Sphere power, thematically speaking, given the fire-makes-light thing), and an improvement for the fire flight.

Overall, this is a tidy, solid supplement for anyone focused on the Fire package of the Nature sphere. It's not something everyone will want, but anyone who wants to be a pyromancer will find a lot to love here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Spheres Apocrypha: Nature Talents, Fire
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Call to Arms: Decks of Cards
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/25/2018 08:44:16

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This is a 54-page, full-color PDF themed around playing cards and variations on the Deck of Many Things. That alone is probably enough to tell you whether or not you're interested in this product. If you haven't decided to run away screaming (like a sane person), read on!

The book opens with a brief history of playing cards, a brief history of the deck of many things, and some details on different types of mundane cards.

On Page 8, we really start kicking things into gear with new character options. If you don't want to actually get out a deck and play, there are a few rules for resolving things with dice and bluffing, intimidating, or just outright cheating. I don't think players will use these with each other very often, but these rules are a good way to simulate a casino event.

Next up, we have a few feats based around cards, at least some of which I'm pretty sure are reprints but helpfully collected here because they're thematically appropriate. This includes directly attacking enemies with cards, throwing more cards, and making a skill roll to mulligan a bad roll from a magical deck (but only once per deck). Of course, as with all rerolls, the second result might be worse...

Following that, we have the Deck Touched Sorcerer bloodline, the Card Reader focused arcane school, and the Gambling subdomain as class options.

From there, this product moves on to discussing decks of magical cards, including using them as weapons, using cards as ammunition, and mixing magical decks together. There's also using DoMT cards as a weapon, which is about as dangerous as you'd expect.

After that, we get into a set of specific magical decks, ranging from the Deck of Curses (bad news) to the Deck of Deals (magically binding contract), the Deck of Illusions (Major Images), and the Deck of Polymorphing (random baleful polymorph). There's quite a variety of decks here, and they'd fit well with a card-themed character or game.

After those, we finally get to the variant Decks of Many Things. Aside from the main deck, this product includes a cursed version, a larger "full" version of the deck, the Harrow version, and finally an Intelligent deck that tries to get people to play with it (up to, and including, mind-control magic).

All things considered, this product is a lot of fun. It's not going to be used in every game, but if you want some variations on the Deck of Many Things - or you're playing a card-themed character - it's a great choice. I saw no major problems, so this product gets a full 5/5.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call to Arms: Decks of Cards
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The Auspician's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/09/2018 18:41:19

Disclaimer: I support the Patreon creating these handbooks and paid for this product.

All right! Here we go with another Spheres handbook - and I'm not gonna lie, the Fate sphere was one of those most in need of the help. We open with four new archetypes for players.

These include the Grim Disciple (a Mageknight who draws power from fey hounds that signal doom), the Lucky Bastard (an Unchained Rogue who takes great risks for great reward... or great failure), the Ordained Hunter (an Inquisitor who uses kismet to track foes), and finally, the Parzivalian Knight (a Paladin empowered by their belief in stories).

We also get a scattering of additional class options, mostly allowing the archetypes to get a bit more access to fate-based powers.

The truly important part, as per standard format by now, is the Basic Magic that follows. This book introduces a new talent type - Motifs, which are talents that allow you to nudge fate in a direction of your choosing. In general, these are touch-range and cost a spell point, last an hour per level, and can be discharged for a short-term benefit.

New common talents allow for things like aligning weapons (which feels a little Enhancement-y, but Fate is the sphere that deals with alignment stuff), borrowing luck, forcing creatures to identify themselves, and a whole Tarot set of Motifs. For example, the Empress gives a pool of points (equal to 1+CL) that the target can spend to improve many types of rolls. They can also discharge it for a bigger boost that's affected by the number of points remaining. The Fool, on the other hand, imposes a -3 penalty to all saving throws (that goes down as your CL goes up), but allows each throw to be made twice. It can be discharged to roll three times, or simply ended with no other effect. If your games prefer the Harrow, alternative names are provided.

Following this, we have new advanced talents, including powers that let you compel things you've exorcised, avoid a specific threat, and create permanent curses. All told, pretty nasty stuff - not always the most immediately powerful in battle, but vicious long-term. GM's may want to make use of these for major villains.

New Incantations allow you to petition the fates or summon up a bunch of powerful fiends to lay waste to an area (stopping this is a quest in its own right!).

Following that, we get to our new feats. The Auspician's Handbook introduces a new type of feat: Chance feats, which provides kismet that can be spent to activate the effects of the feats. We've also got a variety of older feat types returning here, including new Metamagic (Align Spell), an Admixture feat (Auspicious Admixture, allowing you to hit foes with a word effect instead of a second blast type - this is GOOD for Destruction/Fate builds), and a Dual Sphere feat (Sanctified Vigilance, which is Fate/War).

Chance feats include things like automatically succeeding on Con throws to stabilize when you have kismet remaining, healing when you heal others, making an extra attack when you crit, and getting a large luck bonus when you roll a Natural 15 or higher on skill/ability checks.

Rounding it out, we get a few new traits, a new sample casting tradition (Cartomancy), and four Sphere-specific drawbacks.

Towards the end of the book, we get a few creatures (mostly tying in to the Grim Disciple) and a GM advice section that adds clarifications and suggestions. This includes notes on what actually counts as a curse, more thoughts on alignment, and what to do in games that use alternate rule systems (like not having alignment or using hero points).

All in all, this is a solid addition that makes the Fate sphere significantly more attractive for a variety of players. Whether it's Elementalists looking to slap on some debuffs with the Admixture talent or specialists who want to take control of the world around them, there's a lot to love here. I'm happy to give it a full 5/5 stars, and I'm already eager for the author's next release.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Auspician's Handbook
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Wild Magic
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/17/2018 16:00:46

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as part of the Patreon campaign that funded it.

So! This is a little different from most of the Spheres of Power expansions, and as the name implies, it's all about magic going bonkers. Sometimes this is unintended, like when the GM has a 'wild magic zone' the characters get into. Other times it may be on purpose, as powers like the Cantrips feat can be used to deliberately trigger a minor magical effect.

Much like the ultimate in wild magic - the Deck of Many Things - the actual effects can swing between amusing, beneficial, or harmful. This isn't just one or two tables, though - this PDF is 94 pages long for a reason.

We start off with an introduction to Wild Magic, including details on chance, how effects stack (short answer, "yes"), and what to do with chances over 100%. There's also the chance of a major magical event if your risk goes too high and you're using that rule, and while it's not quite as bad as the Deck, there are events like getting disintegrated, permanently changing the normal temperature of an area, or negating every summoning for awhile. (Awkward if you focus on Conjuration!) Helpfully, the first section also includes a reprint of the Spell Schools to Spheres table for quick reference, as well as a couple of variant rules.

After the short introduction, we get into archetypes and class features that use wild magic. The Elementalist and Thaumaturge do well here, while Armorists, Mageknights, Prodigies, and Scholars get a few options.

We also get two pages of player options, starting with Wild Magic Feats, a new category of feat impacting your use of - surprising nobody - wild magic. Some of the feats get better if you have more feats from the category, giving incentive to go all-in on wild magic. There are also two new casting traditions, a boon, a general drawback, and two traits. We also get two equipment properties and a magical item.

But after all of that, we're barely into the book - the real reason we're here follows, with the massive wild magic tables. Not satisfied with a single event of options, this book offers a truly ridiculous number of options (many of which can easily be converted to work with the normal spellcasting system, by the way).

We start off with the basic Universal Wild Magic Table, which can kick in whenever nothing else is appropriate. Following that, we have the Cantrips table (mostly minor effects) and the Major Events table (risky as heck). You might think that would be enough, but no, Drop Dead Studios went all-in on this.

After the 'general' tables, we have tables for all of the spheres (although, as of the release I'm reviewing, not all of these were bookmarked for quick access - a minor oversight). These are heavily themed tables (yes, 100 options each), allowing for results that are related to the kind of magic that spawned them.

So... this isn't necessarily a book that should be a permanent part of every game, although it's great if your group enjoys being unpredictable. Put simply, this expansion is wild magic at its finest - sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, and sometimes weird, but always unpredictable. I love it.



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Wild Magic
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The Conjurer's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2018 08:37:41

Disclaimer: I backed the Patreon campaign to create this product and paid for my copy of it.

After a bit of a delay, here we are at expansion number thirteen - and returning author Andrew Stoeckle brings us plenty of new content. Of note: This is the first release since Spheres of Might, and it shows.

The book opens with a set of archetypes, beginning with archetype choices for companions summoned by the Conjuration sphere. There's actually quite a broad selection here, from the animal-like Bestial archetype to the weaker but cheaper-to-summon Familiar. The Martial Companion option grants progression in the combat options from Spheres of Might. Spheres of Power has always been a strong supporter of ideas, and these archetypes are a nice touch. (Yes, you can stack these archetypes as normal.)

From there, we move on to character archetypes. There's an interesting spread here, and the choices include:

Alter-Ego (Vigilante): Literally swap places with your summon, so only one of you exists at a time

Awakener (Armiger): Summon the spirit of a weapon to wield it for you (requires Spheres of Might)

Knight-Summoner (Mageknight): Call up a mount that's a little more exotic than a mere horse

Pact Master (Thaumaturge): Swap casting ability for the ability to create pacts, summon various entities, and gain magical powers while close to them.

Twinsoul Elementalist (Elementalist): Summon an elemental spirit that you can channel power into, allowing it to unleash more powerful bursts of energy.

Void Wielder (Armorist): Retain the energy of dead foes inside a void blade, then summon it to fight for you later.

After these archetypes and a sprinkling of new class options, we get into the most important part of the book - new [b]Basic Magic[/b]. The Conjurer's Handbook starts this area off with a selection of new base forms for the Conjuration sphere, including:

Avian: They fly.

Ooze: They slime.

Orb: Hey, listen!

Vermin: They crawl.

The new talents follow, and we're introduced to a new category: Type Talents. The Undead Creature is errata'd (when using this book) to be a Type talent instead of a Form talent, and the major difference is that companions can only have one of them. Otherwise, they're like Form talents. Options in the book include things like Constructed (the companion is partially or wholly mechanical), Ooze Companion (properties of oozes, yay), and Planar Creature (pick two of four alignment-themed options, and the other two if you take it twice).

New Form talents include options like Camouflaged Companion for drastically better stealth, Capable Companion to get a bonus feat, Explosive Companion (somebody's going to have worrying amounts of fun mixing this with the Orb base form), and Mount (so yes, you can ride what you call up).

A few untagged talents round out the options, including Call the Departed (resummon a slain companion), Spell Conduit (companions can deliver spells), and Spell-Linked Companions (spend spell points to let Companions benefit from your buffs).

At the end of this bit, we get an extended table of growth for levels 21-40, should anyone care to play a conjurer at that level.

As usual, the next section has Advanced Talents, with new options ranging from particularly large/small companions to improved fast healing, mass summoning, and even turning your companion into a Swarm or Troop (the rules for which are helpfully reprinted at the end of the book). Other advanced options include new Incantations for calling up otherworldly beings and guidelines for adapting the system and creating new options to support a player's idea. (Remember, Spheres is about saying "yes" to concepts - it's okay to be creative!)

The Player Options section opens with new feats, including a new type (Companion feats) that can be taken by either a conjurer or their companion. Feats of this type allow things like having a companion concentrate on spells to maintain them for you and suppressing a size-altering talent. More general feats include things like improving the Explosive Companion talent a la Destructive Blasts, applying the benefits of your equipment to your companion, and using your Casting Ability Modifier (instead of always Charisma) when using the Summoning Advanced Talent.

We also get new Sphere-Specific Drawbacks (from no normal companion but the Summoning Advanced Talent to having all summoned companions share a pool of hit dice) as well as new Traits and Alternate Racial Traits. One new item (a foldable summoning circle) is added as well.

The main content finishes with a section on Gamemastering, with advice on issues ranging from too many companions to the details of summoning, roleplaying, and a bit of love for the Ghost Sovereign archetype (expanding its options to support the new talents). The Appendix, as mentioned above, reprints the Swarm and Troop rules for convenience.

Overall, this is a solid expansion to the Conjuration sphere, and any character focusing on that sphere is probably going to want this expansion to go with it. There are plenty of fun and flavorful options sprinkled throughout, and despite a few small formatting hiccups, I didn't notice any real problems. This product earns a 5/5 from me.



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The Conjurer's Handbook
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The Creator's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/21/2018 11:48:58

Disclaimer: I backed the creation of this product on Patreon and paid for both this and the Hero Lab files.

We're more than halfway through the Handbook line now, and it continues to go strong. Creation is a somewhat strange sphere - its real power lies in how creative you are with it, so it's not as straightforward as most.

This product opens with some archetypes and class options, heavily emphasizing the common sphere classes. They range from the Word Witch (a Fey Adept with particular command of certain words of creation) to the Knight of Willpower (a very determined Thaumaturge indeed). We also get a new Incanter Specialization (Master of Creation) and a Hedgewitch tradition (Transmuter). All in all, it's a fairly solid set of options for players who want to specialize in this sphere.

The real meat of the book is, of course, the new basic talents. While we don't get any new types of talents, the new options significantly expand what Creators are able to do. Most notably, the Expanded Materials talent is drastically expanded to encompass several sets of options, from classic substances to gas, plasma, and even acids.

Other new talents include changing the size of objects, making things out of force, and an option to increase the casting time in order to reduce the spell point cost (which matters, given the normal cost of this sphere!).

The Advanced Talents are quite diverse, ranging from making things from precious materials to completely disintegrating objects. As with most Advanced Talents, be careful of adding these to your game - they CAN significantly change your game.

The Feats section adds multiple new options as well - including the return of Dual Sphere feats (mainly emphasizing mixing Creation with Enhancement and Telekinesis). The rest of the book provides the rest of what we've come to expect - drawbacks, traits, alternate racial traits, and so on. A few new items (including, curiously, an energy sword) are included, and things round out with some rule clarifications to make it easier to run the Creation Sphere. That alone makes this helpful for any table making heavy use of this sphere.

This book didn't wow me quite as much as some of the other handbooks did, but it's still a solid addition to the handbook lineup and an excellent supplement for any character focused on the Creation sphere.



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The Creator's Handbook
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