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101 Desert Spells (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:26:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of desert-themed spells clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a rather massive 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Now, as always, we begin this pdf with a massive array of spell lists by class and level, covering the classes up to and including the ACG classes, but not the occult classes.

From there, we move right into this massive compilation of spells, beginning with Aghasura’s bluff, a 3rd level spell that allows you to beckon targets towards you. They just move closer on their next round, perceiving others entranced as allies, as they move closer. The spell, alas, does not state that this compulsion cannot make targets walk into obvious danger/offers rerolls for them, which is a rather important caveat for such compulsions. Cool, though: You get a bonus to one attack (since dropping it is a move action) versus targets thus entranced. As a limit to the spell, moving ends the spell as well, but sans this bonus. Now, this being a supplement on desert spells, we get more than the rattlesnake rattle component to represent the leitmotif – you see, casting the spell in a warm desert environment makes it harder to resist.

Why did I specify that this is relevant regarding warm deserts? The pdf is smart and also covers the cold wastelands. The first spell that ties into this would be Amamrok’s aspect, which is obviously a transmutation that nets +4 to all physical attributes as well as +4 natural AC, as well as low-light and darkvision and scent…and a bite attack that is not codified requiring defaulting. This bite is also what makes up the main bulk of the spell. The caster can execute a bite attack against the air, focusing on any creature he can see, provided it has a soul. The bite targets a harmless, shadowy duplicate of the creature that is intended to allow for at-range tripping/grappling and “If you hit, you can attempt to trip and grab the target…” Okay, this is problematic. Those are two different maneuvers, so do we get two CMB-checks? If one of them gets a bonus, does it apply to both rolls? If it’s only one CMB-check, do bonuses to either apply? The wording here is also needlessly opaque – it would have been simple to state that bite attacks executed against such a shadowy double benefit from the grab and trip universal monster qualities, but the verbiage stumbles over grab vs. grappling. It is also a bit puzzling whether the creation of the shadowy duplicate “wastes” an attack or whether the creation is part of it. While this spell feels uncharacteristically rushed in its benefits, I did enjoy some design decisions: In cold desert terrains, the duration is expanded and at higher levels, additional spell effects are added. The rare material component is btw. required to grant these, even if you have Eschew Materials or similar substitution options – as a box clearly indicates, the spell would otherwise be too potent.

There also would be Amphiptere’s flight, which is an interesting 2nd level flight spell that is limited in height and thus retains the covert cap of unassisted personal flight. Arctic pelt is a cantrip for shaman and druid, level 1 spell for the other classes. It grants “resist cold 2” – that should be cold resistance 2. The creature also gets +2 to saves to resist damage from exposure to cold. Casting the spell in the proper environment increases the bonus, resistance and duration. Asleep unaware also has a rough edge of sorts – as a bard 3, sorc/wiz 4 spell, it targets a living creature, which is then rendered prone and falls asleep. On a successful save, the target falls asleep, but believes to be awake, which can be an interesting scenario to describe at the table – it is a mind-game I very much enjoy. That being said, the fact that you fall prone and are asleep for at least 1 round, even on a successful save, is utterly OP – at least the sleeping component should be negated. And yes, the focus is rare, but still – not going to happen RAW in my game.

On the hilarious side, aspect of the great roadrunner boosts your Dex and nets you Run in the proper terrain. Meep-meep! Benevolent commands is also interesting, in that it is a good variant of command that nets you the ability to use it at-will; you can discharge the spell to duplicate either cure moderate wounds or lesser restoration for targets that have heeded your command. It also can’t be used to command others to harm beings. The component, a lammasu’s eyelash, is pretty cool and the desert specific effects are interesting here as well. Biting winds is damn cool – at 6th level, it produces a 30 ft.-emanation that causes severe winds, a drop in temperature and cold damage – but it also sports a frustburn-ish engine of sorts, with cumulative failed saves increasing the severity of the additional conditions incurred. While we have 7 saves that lead to death as opposed to 6 levels, I was still pleasantly reminded of 5e’s exhaustion-mechanics. While these effects can only affect warmblooded creatures with a skeletal structure, it still feels a bit weird. Why does cold immunity, RAW, not prevent these effects? The Fort-save should be contingent on actually taking cold damage from the spell, which it does not – the per se nice wind chill mechanic is RAW completely decoupled from the damaging component. (As a nitpick: Range should be “Personal”.) Calling forth shadows with the dustman template added.

On the evocative side of battle spells, burning beams let you generate lances of light, intangible ones, that are lodged in the targets hit, burning them, with fire damage increasing in bright light, decreasing in darkness. Neat visuals and cool effects. Bursts of frost and flame would be another definite winner: For one, it converts cold to fire and vice versa for you; it also allows you to voluntarily fail your save against such an effect (if any), taking half damage, and emit a burst of the other energy, the damage output of which is contingent on the damage you suffered. Now, if you think that this could result in some really weird combos, you’d be partially right, but spell and sidebar explain sequence of events and make sure that the spell is not misread and uses cleverly the fine nuances of the free action. Particularly from a design-perspective, a rather interesting offering!

Conjuring forth a cactus and various efreeti-calling tricks, transformation into camels…some solid utility options can be found here. The nonlethal century in the sun represents a neat spell to simulate prolonged exposure to the sun, and is one of the spells herein that casters with the correct domain, for example (here: Sun) can substitute, which adds to the usefulness of the pdf in that regard. Ghul claws that are correctly codified and count as cold iron and magic and come with temporary hyena-shapechanging also make for an interesting variant on the buff. Concentrate condensate is a nice low-level spell to make air dry and condense in a square, which is one of the spells that sounds less useful at first…and once you start thinking about it, you’ll see its benefits. There also is a spell that makes darkvision color. Which is cool. Alas, I think that the target should specify that it can only modify pre-existing darkvision. The spell’s text implies it, yes, and so does the spell level, but it could theoretically be misread.

Slashing foes with cones of salt or dissolving creatures into puddles of acid via corrosive mists (via corrosive liquefaction) represent nice tricks. I am also partial to create ghost town and its lesser brother - the spell allows btw. for synergy when maintaining more than one casting, providing bonus “bridging buildings” of sorts. Swarm-conjurations also can be found here, with stats provided for a CR 4 scorpion swarm. The supplement includes a variety of desert-themed spells that e.g. allow for better movement, and potential discharge to treat poisons; ones that instill panic, curses that make the target think that they have been deserted. I am somewhat concerned about drake’s surge. A third level spell, this one allows you to convert your swift action into a move action. While this is less potent than the other way round, I am extremely weary of tweaks regarding action economy, particularly when said tweaks explicitly stack with haste. Why am I not screaming OP right there? Simple: The spell explicitly prevents you from using the action to cast spells or attack, limiting you to trail-like effects and preventing the otherwise inevitable issues.

Dusty shroud would be another winner – in dusty environments, you get fast healing 2 and are blurred, but you also are sickened in non-dusty ones. Oh, and you can harden the dust and generate a burst of slashing damage, ending the spell. This feels magical and using a dust mephit’s dwelling’s dust increases the potency of the hardened dust burst discharge. Cool! Using a sand stalker’s front leg to fascinate targets also is rather cool and gets how magic is supposed to feel. Endless sands/snow is an illusion that is so classic in its visuals, it should have existed before. I also love the imagery of the high-level flames of Phlegethon, generating hellish heat that can truly wreck objects and structures. Straight out of fighting videogames would be the 4th level flying grappler, which nets you flight while you’re grappling targets. The high-level, potent freezing shatter is nice and assuming, either willingly or via a curse, a ghostly form, similarly represents a classic and cool concept. A healing-spell with a cold-theme that can be used to damage targets is smart and we get two spells, including mass variants, which allow for better desert/arctic explorations.

There also would be a 5th level Wis-damage spell that penalizes Will-saves, a lightning aura that uses a rare focus as balance…there are some neat ones here. I am also partial to the spell that fire lightning in dust/sand, making it glass, and then blasts the glass to shards with a sonic boom, combining damage and soft terrain control. (As an aside, I think the glass should behave as caltrops, but that may be me.) Poisonous lines, a spell to protect versus sandstorms, summoning a dire bat that can be ridden, making a target believe that you and your allies don’t exist, a 9th level shadow conjuration to call a black scorpion…some cool stuff. If you’re like me and gravitate towards some realism and grit in your games, stave off loneliness may be very smart, as it draws upon the subconscious to prevent mental breakdowns and the like – this spell is one that focuses on the narrative, rather than the mechanics, and it does so very well. Calling forth an impressive, fully statted CR 13 crimson worm, sunburn/screen…cool. Also rather nice: Superchromatic vision, which allows you to perceive more colors than we usually do – somewhat akin to e.g. a mantis shrimp and the like. While this allows for navigation in desolations (and it can make for a really cool storytelling tool), the spell also renders you potentially more susceptible to sight-based effects. Thermal inversion line generates a line that is cold on one end, fire on the other, and manages to get the rules regarding the damage etc. right. A low-level curse that adds vertigo to falling prone is also a winner in my book.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are per se very good as a whole, in both formal and rules-components, but there also are a few uncharacteristic hiccups in some of the rules-components here. Not enough to sink the respective spells, but in this series, it did show. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and employs some nice full color artworks.

David J. Paul’s latest collection of terrain-based spells has a very, very high level of expectations to live up to. His spell collections represent my absolute favorite series of spells available for PFRPG. It is this series I’d take along to my lonely island, if I had to choose a single series of Spell-pdfs. These are my reference-books for what I expect from a good spell book. And honestly, the desert-installment holds up, as a whole – the spells herein often dare to juggle complex concepts that are hard to get right. Problematic effects are generally evaded and the spells feel MAGICAL. Foci and components act as smart balancing tools; annotations in sidebars help; the spells have relevant, terrain-based modifications and sport thoroughly fun effects. I love a lot about this pdf. That being said, it is a bit less refined than the last couple of installments. The glitches I found mostly pertained minor aspects of the rules-language, but in a series that is pretty much the bar by which I measure awesomeness in spells, this does show.

So, to make this abundantly clear: This still represents one of the best spell-collections out there. It is an inspired, interesting offering. At the same time, it features more “variant summoning”-spells than the others in the series, feels slightly less refined in the details, sometimes forgetting obviously intended components that would have catapulted spells from cool to amazing – glass acting as caltrops, connections between two effects…Now, mind you, the spells herein are still inspiring! They are interesting and the mechanics of the vast majority of them are great! However, when looked at back to back with the phenomenal installments of the series, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment at a very high level. Where are the glass shards that make lenses that can make light-spells more brutal, for example? I am a huge fan of deserts, and some of my fondest memories pertain driving through the Mojave, visiting White Sands or marveling at the Petrified Forest; of walking through Iceland’s black, sandy beaches and the desolation there. I do not object to the dual cold/warm desert focus, but I maintain that either could have yielded a bit more.

But I am rambling. As a whole, I really enjoyed this pdf, but I do have to penalize it somewhat regarding its rough patches. My final verdict clocks in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. I still very much recommend getting this, but it doesn’t reach the dazzling heights of exceptionalism of its predecessors.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
101 Desert Spells (PFRPG)
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The Manor, Issue #6
Publisher: GM Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:25:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The sixth installment of the OSR-zine „The Manor“ clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that the editorial sports a content-warning this time around – this issue of “The Manor” deals with mature topics – not in an explicit manner, mind you, but enough to offend some people. If you’re particularly prude regarding depictions of sexuality, you may take offense regarding the one picture herein of a spider/lady hybrid, which features exposed boobs.

The issue includes a new class designed primarily for NPCs – this would be the guard, who represents the watchmen. Prime Attribute would be Strength (5% bonus on Str 13+) and the class permits all weapons and armor as well as shields and does not have any racial restrictions. The guard gets d8 HD up until 9th level, with a ½ to hit progression. Saves progress from 17 to 9. Guards get +1 to “detection rolls” to notice things out of place, which increases to +2 at 5th level. Okay, I may be slightly weird here, but there are, Raw, no rules for detection rolls in S&W, which makes this one weird. 2nd level yields the option to 1/day interrogate someone over 1d6 turns. 3rd level provides +1 to AC when flanking – if both characters flanking are guards, they get +2 to AC. At 7th level, the guard gets +2 to saves vs. effects that would result in fleeing from battle, and he gets +2 to reaction rolls with creatures that appreciate his dedication. 9th level lets the guard declare that he’ll defend a target, object, etc. to the death before battle begins. Once declared, the guard cannot withdraw, but gains +1 to hit, attack and AC. He’ll also continue fighting at 0 hp, only dying upon reaching the death threshold. (Note: This assumes that you use the optional rule, whereby a character only dies upon reaching negative level in hp, as noted on pg. 43 in S&W.)

Okay, I’m not particularly impressed by the guard. However, I did like the rather nice 20 different guard greetings that are included in the pdf, providing a nice introduction to a given settlement, as well as angles for the PCs to be shunted into modules.

The second article herein that is not a module is “Getting from Point A to Point B” by Ken Harrison – basically, we get small, mapped rooms that act as a transportation devices. We get basically a Futurama-tube, a pool with grate and shark zombies (Yes!) and a really cool one, where an Ourouboros animates, uncoils and eats the PCs, only to vomit them back out in room #2. Cool little article and easy to implement, regardless of system, dungeon, etc.

Now, the majority of the module is taken up by one location/adventure and a secod adventure, both of which have a very strong dark fantasy vibe - The first of these would be Matt Jackson’s “The Brothel at Wargumn”, which may act as both a dangerous set-piece locale to insert into e.g. a PC investigation…or it may be run as a straight “close the place down” murderhobo-ing exercise, though the latter will probably deprive it of much of its impact. The area comes with a nice and pretty detailed b/w-map, though we don’t get a player-friendly version of it, which is a bit of a pity. The map also sports no grid, which makes judging distances somewhat harder than it needs to be. Okay, this is about as deep as I can go into this without SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, what makes this brothel special? Well, it caters to…let’s say…”exquisite” tastes – it features uncommon prostitute-choices and caters to the decadent ruling class. Here, you can find anything, from goblins to lamia, doppelgängers and succubi…or even ghouls. As such, this clandestine club is led by a thoroughly nasty gentleman named Grunfeld, who controls his employees with a magic item that controls the slave-braces of his “employees” – he and his homunculus are also supported by guards, and the complex is “realistic” in that it has different rooms as well as a latrine of sorts. The premise is simple, but rather effective: From misguided loves to sheer decadence, there are quite a few ways to effectively use the location in your game. I rather enjoyed the location.

The adventure penned by Tim Shorts herein is one of my favorites regarding what I’ve covered so far from his modules – designated as a low-level adventure, “Witches of the Dark Moon” has a rather distinct dark fantasy vibe and manages to evoke a concise atmosphere. The adventure locale is once more mapped, though the map does not sport a grid or a player-friendly version. I’d suggest it for characters level 1 – 2, though it will be very deadly at first level. Still, atmosphere-wise, I think this fits the module. It should be noted that, unlike the “Brothel at Wargumn”, the stats here only feature ascending AC-values, no descending ones.

The adventure begins with a really nice piece of prose, wherein the bodies of two kids, gruesomely sacrificed, are found – and two more kids are missing. The bodies found were marked with the symbol of Noctrina, the Night Mother, goddess of witches. (Alternatively, when played in e.g. the Lost Lands, substitute Hecate). The culprits have taken refuge in the ruins of the old hill fort. The interesting aspect here would be that this actually can be solved pretty quickly – the outhouse contains a tunnel, leading to where the missing kids are kept, and there is a secret room with an altar that contains a deadly spider-monster – destroying the altar will make the witch-incursions cease…but chances are pretty high that this alone will not suffice for good PCs, considering the macabre things they can find – slain animals, spell slot-restoring wine made from the blood of innocents…these guys are EVIL. The savage and vile nature of this place is also mirrored in the interesting “alarm”-mechanisms, for example. Screaming spiders, a nasty guy that uses Tim Brannan’s witch class (can be run without referencing the class), spiders that can turn you into werespiders…and there is “Aria, the Handmaiden – a witch/werespider who gets a signature spell (and the aforementioned image that features boobs) and is deadly. There is a severed head, the Head of Mundi, among her possessions, which can store Viz. First introduced in “Knowledge Illuminates”, this is a substance that allows you to replenish expended spell slots – I am not a fan of the ramifications here. That being said, it’s easy enough to make it just charges that can’t be recovered. Slightly annoying: The item’s properties are noted in the regular text, not in their own boxed text or Aria’s write-up, which is a bit odd. The new spell, fast web, targets a smaller area than web and is a level higher. Here’s a problem: You can only break free with a “Might roll.” I assume this to be, in OSRIC’s parlance, for example, a “Major Test” or a bend bars roll, if you’re so inclined. Still, rules-language wise, this could be a bit tighter. Anyways, the horror does not stop there – Ariana has actually impregnated her daughter with horrific spider-things that will soon burst forth from her, unless she is cured. Though being a “vessel” is an honor for her. Yeah, she needs some serious, professional help…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are good, with a few minor typos here and there, like “-ed” missing, etc. On a rules-language level, the installment could be more precise. Once you take a look at the details, it feels a bit rough here and there. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and nice. The cartography is neat and detailed, but I wish we got key-less, player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The art by Jason Sholtis, Dylan Hartwell and William McAusland is original and rather neat, particularly considering the more than fair, low price-point.

Tim Shorts, Ken Harrison and Matt Jackson deliver a rather nice installment of this ‘zine. The two big articles in this one, i.e. the location and the adventure, both are really nice offerings that should provide some serious fun at the table, particularly for groups inclined towards darker shades of fantasy. The supplemental articles are nice as well, though the guard class per se did not impress me. The same can be said about the details regarding some of the rules, which suffer from the assumptions of a particular constellation of homebrewed rules-components. While easily hackable, I maintain that adherence to a single system would have decreased the potential for potential snafus at the table. As such, in spite of really liking a lot about this issue, my final verdict cannot exceed 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #6
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Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2018 04:22:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press‘ Deep Magic-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the first thing you need to know is that we get a new sacred oath herein – The Giving Grave. This oath, however, represents more the concept of the antipaladin, rather than the paladin. As some 5e-players are wont to claim, the paladin class is removed from its LG-shackles in 5e; while technically true, the class features and general build don’t really lend themselves well to representing the concept of the anipaladin per se, which is why we begin with two alternate class features that a paladin en route to swearing the oath to darkness receives: Unholy Smite replaces Divine Smite, changing the damage type to necrotic and the particularly hard-hit targets to celestials, good-aligned fey and dragons. Improved divine smite, at 11th level, is similarly replaced with an evil variety, inflicting necrotic damage. Cool for stories of fallen warriors – synergy is possible, but not required by the rules. Interesting: Lay on hands is retained RAW and we do get an alternate spell list for evil paladins herein.

The sacred oath of the giving grave requires that you honor the gods of death, seek to overcome mortality, serve those that can teach and brook no opposition to your ambition. The oath grants two channel divinity options: Overawe enemy can stun a target within 60 ft. for 1 minute (or until damaged) on a failed save, with good-aligned fey and celestials suffering from disadvantage on the save. Mark of the Funeral Feast lets you indicate, as a bonus action, a creature within 10 ft. that you can see. All undead the creature can see with a challenge below 1 are compelled sans save to attack it. This is slightly inelegant, as it is based on the sight of the target, when imho, one based on the paladin would make more sense, but oh well.

7th level provides an aura that prevents being turned, with a 10 ft.-radius that increases to 30 ft. at 18th level. At 15th level, whenever the (anti)paladin begins the round with less than half maximum hit points, he gains 5 hit points. Fire or radiant damage causes this feature to cease working for 1 round. Not a fan there – wouldn’t allow that for my players, but YMMV. The capstone ability nets magic resistance: Advantage on saves versus all spells and magical effects. If you die, you rise from the grave in 1d4 days as a death knight.

Now, the title of this pdf is “Blood and Doom” – we’ve taken a look at the doom component, but what about the blood? Well, blood magic is represented first by the legendary wondrous item Taergash’s Exsanguinating Tome, which requires attunement by a wizard. Wrapped in filthy, blood-weeping covers, the spellbook contains some of the dark secrets of blood magic. There are two class options to represent blood magic specialists, the first of which would be the Serophage sorcerous origin. The origin grants limited control over your own blood: When taking bludgeoning damage, you roll 1d4 and subtract it from the damage taken (note: This applies to damage TAKEN, as such, resistance is applied first – spelling that out would have made sense, but that is aesthetic nitpickery on my side and won’t influence the verdict), which increases to 1d6 at 6th level.

6th level provides the Blood Fuel feature: You can increase the save DC of the next spell you cast by +1 for inflicting 1d4 slashing damage to yourself instead of moving. Alternatively, instead of moving, you can inflict 1d4 slashing damage on yourself to regain the same amount of sorcery points. 12th level increases the DC-boost to +2 and the die of damage caused to yourself to d8. Yeah, this is utterly broken. Flexible casting lets you use sorcery points to create spell slots and vice versa - and this utterly delimits the resource. If the origin lost this feature, it’d still be borderline OP – with it, any curative option becomes basically an arcane battery. Not getting anywhere near my game. This really nets a limiting factor based on rest interval or at the very least a caveat that the damage can’t be healed for a couple of long rests. The 14th level ability, blood barrier, lets you draw blood from a creature that was killed with 30 minutes and form it into swirling rings – one ring per point of Charisma modifier. Kudos: It can’t be kitten’d – the creature must have at least an Intelligence of 5. Problem: The feature fails to specify its activation action. The rings absorb physical damage – when hit by a physical melee or ranged attack, one ring absorbs 1d10 damage and then vanishes in a splash. Note that this happens BEFORE the taking of damage, i.e. before resistance etc. is applied. Alternatively, as an action, you can form a ring into a spear of blood and launch it as a ranged spell attack: On a hit, the target takes 1d6 + Cha-mod piercing damage and must succeed a Con-save to avoid being stunned until the start of your next turn.

18th level nets exsanguinate, wherein you target a creature within 40 ft. as an action. On a failed Con-save, the creature takes 2d6 necrotic damage – the damage caused causes blood to fly towards you. For each 2 points of damage thus caused, you regain 1 hit point or one sorcery point. The effect remains until the target makes its save, continuing to replenish you. Oh boy. Here, we have no kitten-caveat: You can carry around a bag of harmless kittens and drain them to your heart’s content. This feature delimits BOTH sorcery points AND hit points – infinite healing and infinite spell slots of up to 5th level. WTF. I have no idea how this got past the developer. This really needs a rest-interval cap of uses.

The second class option dealing with blood magic would be a tradition for the wizard class. Here, we begin at 2nd level with blood savant, which halves costs and time required of blood magic spells to be integrated into the spellbook. It also nets proficiency in Medicine. Additionally, when subjected to a disease or poison that causes half damage on a successful save, you instead take none on a success, half on a failure. 6th level nets Blood Vision, which lets you ingest another creature’s blood, I assume as an action, but the ability does not specify it. You are stunned for 1 round when doing so, but gain a vision of one memory of the creature, depicting the instance that caused it to bleed. Only one ingestion per creature is allowed, though.

10th level unlocks Absorb Impurities: It allows you to touch a fresh cut or source of disease or poison and harmlessly draw it into you, dormant– I assume, this requires an action. You can then, as an action, spit a stream of blood as a ranged spell attack at a target, who then must save against the poison/disease. You can only carry a poison or disease for a certain amount of time – failing to divest yourself of it will result in seriously nasty saves against it. I like the flavor here – but what’s the range of the blood-spit? No idea. 14th level nets the option to haste or slow a creature for Intelligence modifier rounds on a failed Con-save. RAW, this does not require that you can see the creature and it can be used 1/day, which is uncommon in 5e.

Oh boy, not sure what happened with the blood magic class options – they’re uncharacteristically problematic. Let’s see whether the massive spell-selection fared better.

The pdf provides a new cantrip, Blood tide, which causes the target to bleed from facial orifices sans damage, but imposes a -2 penalty on Int-, Wis- and Cha-checks. It may be cured via Medicine and healing magic and may attract bloodsuckers. Duration increases later.

At 1st level, we have bloody smite, which is a variant of searing smite that replaces fire with necrotic damage and uses Medicine or healing magic to staunch the blood flow. Doom of the cracked shield is cast upon a weapon and held therein until expended, which will then destroy the next nonmagical shield/armor it strikes – shields are reduced to rust and sawdust, while armor reduces its effectiveness by 2 points. I assume that reduction to 0 destroys the armor, but the spell doesn’t specify that. Hobble mount causes a beast that is being ridden and touched to be disabled, taking damage upon moving, with more damage at higher levels. Only mounts may be affected. Hone blade nets the weapon +1 damage on the next successful hit. Memento mori lasts only one round, but makes all creatures that see you succeed a Charisma saving throw of be stunned for one round – ouch! Thankfully, a creature that succeeds the save can’t be affected again for 24 hours. Stanch stabilizes a dying character and prevents the use of the character for spells or effects requiring blood, justifying the 1st-level spell slot versus the spare the dying cantrip. Weapon of blood causes 1d4 damage to you that can’t be healed to make a +1 dagger from blood. The damage may not be healed until the spell ends or the blade is destroyed. Higher levels allow for the inflicting of more damage for progressively better magical daggers.

At 2nd spell level, we get the vomit tentacles spell, which is a melee spell attack with a range of 15 ft., causing 2d6 bludgeoning damage and grappling the target. The target is restrained until it escapes (DC = spell save DC) and takes 2d6 + Str-mod damage on each of your subsequent turns. Tentacles may be severed by slashing attacks and regrow on your next turn. You can’t speak while the spell is in effect. Cool one! Timely distraction has a 25 ft.-range and causes a random condition on a failed save, with saves on subsequent rounds to end them. Doom of the slippery rogue coats a 20 x 20 ft. area of a wall or floor with slicky grease, causing chances of targets to fall from climbing or fall prone. Pretty sure there is no Dexterity (walking) check, though – that should probably be (Acrobatics). As an aside – Grease, as a precedent, requires a save, not a check. Doom of consuming fire causes 3 (1d6) cold damage to you every round, while creatures within 5 ft. take 4 (1d8) while the spell is in effect – weird: Spells usually don’t list averages. Higher spell slots increase the damage caused. Wonky: The spell should probably specify that the damage it causes doesn’t trigger saves to retain concentration on the spell.

Caustic blood lets you use your reaction to taking damage to select 3 targets within 30 ft. These take acid damage on a failed save. I like the visuals here, but the spell RAW is weird: The casting time is “1 reaction”, failing to specify TO what; conversely, RAW, the spell doesn’t trigger until after the round it has been cast, which I’m pretty sure isn’t how it’s supposed to work. Bloodshot makes you take necrotic damage and a ranged spell attack with a 40 ft. range; on a hit, the target takes both fire and psychic damage. Higher levels increase the fire damage. I don’t really get where psychic damage comes from here, but oh well. Blood lure does what it says on the tin, attracting blood-feeding creatures and predators, with penalties for those that have a keen sense of smell. Nice one. Animate ghoul does what it says on the tin. As you were returns a dead creature’s appearance to how it looked in life, when healthy and hale. On a corpse, this duplicates gentle repose; on an undead, it can act as a neat disguise. Like it!

The 3rd level spells include blood armor, which you can cast as a bonus action when hitting a foe with a melee weapon; the blood flows forth and creates an AC 18 + Dex-mod armor sans Str-requirement. It doesn’t hinder spellcasting and when drawing the blood from a celestial, you also get advantage on Cha-saves while the spell persists. Conjure undead creates a shadow to do your bidding, with higher spell levels providing wights or ghosts as alternatives. Doom of blue crystal lasts 3 rounds and affects targets within 5 ft., including yourself – first, you save to avoid being restrained; then, to avoid being paralyzed and if you botch a third save against the spell, you become petrified. Crystallized creatures can be shattered for insta-death on a failed save. Doom of dancing blades creates 1d4 illusory copies of your weapon. When hit by a melee attack, but within 3 of your AC, one of the weapons intercepts the attack, destroying the weapon. If the weapon fails to parry an attack, a blade is still destroyed, and you take half damage. On a successful crit, you add +1d8 damage of a physical type of your choice per blade. Doom of disenchantment negates numerical bonuses to hit and damage, suppressing magical or spell-like abilities of the weapon, in which case, the effect is treated as affected by a Cha-based counterspell. This one is pretty strong – frankly, I’d limit it, with higher spell slots tied to spell-level and item rarity.

St. Blusen’s reaver spirit nets you and all allies within 30 ft. that can see you advantage on Str-checks, Str-saves, resistance to all 3 physical damage types from nonmagical weapons and +2 to damage with melee attacks, but when the spell ends, all characters affected by it gain 1d4 exhaustion levels. Higher levels increase the melee damage bonus - Cool one! St. Whiteskull’s borrowing allows you to touch a target, gaining one sense, movement type and speed, feat, language, immunity or extraordinary ability. You can borrow only one ability at once and may target freshly dead targets and living alike: Unwilling targets get a save. A higher level option makes the target lose the borrowed quality and increases the duration. Weird: Why can you borrow immunities, but not resistances? It would make more sense to only allow for resistance borrowing. Not a fan. Strength of the underworld nets advantage on saves versus Turn Undead or helps the chance to revive as a darakhul. Vital mark marks a magic item with a stain of your blood, preventing it from functioning as magic for anyone but you. It can be made permanent with higher level and consecutive use. Two thumbs up here!

At 4th level, we have visage of madness, which causes all foes that can see you within 30 ft. make a Wisdom save, inflicting 1d6 + the creature’s Str-mod damage to itself on a failed save, stunning it for 1 round and blinding it for 1d4 rounds. On a 6 on the damage roll, the blindness is permanent. This should probably have a caveat that it doesn’t stun fiends or servants of demon lords (as the visage of such a lord causes the effect) and that creatures immune to piercing damage can’t blind themselves. Shroud of death causes all creatures within 30 ft. to take 1 point of necrotic damage, which you gain as temporary hit points, increasing the damage by +1 on every subsequent round. This is spell can be abused in a needlessly dumb manner. Take a big bag o’ kittens. Throw it in the field. Gain buttload of temporary hit points. Sure, it doesn’t last long, but why not provide a proper caveat?? St. Parvala’s risen road is cool, as it open a path into one of the shadow roads, the dark passageways of the shadow fey. Doom of the earthen maw makes the area of a point within 60 ft. turn filthy, slippery muck in a 30 ft.-radius, creating difficult terrain. Targets in the area must make a Strength save or be restrained. Creatures that save don’t become restrained, but those that are risk sinking deeper on subsequent rounds, potentially suffocating when having sunk beneath the muck. Doom of serpent coils requires that you drink a poison, autofailing the save. The effect of the poison is then spread to all targets within 10 ft., using he spell save DC instead of the one of the poison. Instead of a poison’s usual effects, such targets instead take fixed poison damage (providing average values as well as the dice) and are poisoned. Success renders immune to the spell for 24 hours. Weird: RAW, characters immune to poison can avoid the self-poisoning component, which, I’m pretty sure, was not intended.

Blood and steel makes you cut yourself, which can’t be healed until you finish a long rest. You then touch a construct, which must succeed a Con-save or be charmed. Constructs you fight have advantage on the save and the charm-effect bypasses char-immunity. You can provide general orders with a telepathic link; or you can exert full control over it as an action, using your reaction to make it use its own reaction. Constructs already under your control become sentient for the duration and gain a bonus equal to your Int-mod to a skill they’re proficient in. Higher spell slots increase the duration. Blood spur provides a blood hound like straight vector to your quarry, even helping you to keep track of magical movement. Cool one. For 5th spell level, we get cruor of visions, which is a blood-based scrying variant, with higher spell slots duplicating progressively better crystal ball effects in conjunction with it. Exsanguinating cloud creates a blood-leeching cloud…that fails to specify its dimensions, making it non-functional as written and impossible to determine how it’s supposed to work. Sanguine horror conjures forth a blood elemental – a new creature herein: They clock in at challenge 5 and represent a nice critter, making good use of 5e’s dynamic damage types and rock-paper-scissors mentality.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good – a missing hyphen here and there is as bad as it gets. On a rules-language level, the same can’t be said. From the utterly broken sorcerous origin to several rules-issues in spells etc., the pdf could have seriously used some careful rules-editing. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the chapter headers. The full-color artworks are nice, but fans of Kobold Press will be familiar with them.

I don’t get it. Chris Harris’ work is usually much better than this. While the pdf sports several really cool spells and angles and has some interesting design choices, there are a lot of flaws in this. Regarding rules-integrity, this is one of the weakest, if not perhaps the weakest of the Deep magic-installments I’ve reviewed so far. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Blood & Doom for 5th Edition
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Asian Archetypes: Magical
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2018 04:08:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second book of archetypes for Asian settings clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, chock-full with new material – remember, Legendary Games books have a LOT of words per page, so we have a lot of ground to cover!

It should be noted that this pdf features some spells from Legendary Games’ massive Asian Spell Compendium – but you do not need to purchase it to use this book – all spells referenced have been reproduced herein for your convenience. Big kudos for that!

The first archetype herein would be the Bodhisattva paladin, who must be of good alignment and loses proficiency with heavy armor. Instead of aura of good, we get a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and to Intimidate with good creatures, a minus 2 penalty to Diplomacy with evil creatures. Paladin spells with the [good] descriptor and conjuration (healing) spells at full CL. Additionally, detect disease, detect good, detect poison, guidance, purify food and drink, resistance, virtue may be used as a SP, with the total uses equal to paladin class level, at full CL. The lay on hands abilities of this archetype gets an upgrade as well, extending damaging capabilities to include evil outsiders, half fiends and fiendish creatures. The bodhisattva also learns at 2nd level to sense the taint of evil creatures and objects as with scent, which also acts as uncanny dodge for evil targets, attacks with evil objects and regarding spells with the [evil] descriptor – interesting! This ability also allows for the tracking of evil via Sense Motive, rather than via Survival – and yes, a brief table of sample DCs is provided. Heck, mind-shielding spells can make the DC higher, as a proper table also mentions and clarifies. This one replaces divine grace and is really cool. Like it.

The archetype also expands player agenda, as 4th level’s channel energy based on lay on hands is expanded, allowing for a choice of 1 celestial channeling option chosen from an array of 6, with an additional one gained every 4 levels thereafter. These include an auto-dazzling nimbus of light, banishing outsiders (with a max-cap to prevent abuse) and a 1-round daze on a failed save for evil creatures, for example. Nice ones – I wish we could have gotten slightly longer list, though. This replaces aura of resolve/justice. 5th level nets summon satva, which may be used 1/day +1/day for every 4 levels after 5th. Satvas may shed lights and manifest in an unoccupied square up to 30 ft. away. They don’t block line of sight/effect. Each satva may be only called once per day. Each of these basically provides a persistent magic effect that can provide a passive buff or even healing/DR/fast healing, with the activation action, if any, clearly codified. All in all, a rewarding, potent and fun archetype!

The Censor inquisitor gets Wis-mod to Diplomacy and ½ class level to Perception to note forgery or Sleight of Hand, replacing monster lore. Instead of solo tactics and 3rd level’s teamwork feat, we reduce the miss chance granted by illusions by 5% per 2 class levels. Instead of 6th level’s teamwork feat, we add erase/memory lapse as 1st level spells to the spells known. When successfully targeting a creature with them, the censor may expend a 1st-level spell slot to ask the creature a question that may be answered with a single word or short sentence, with the save DC equal to the original spell’s to resist. On a failure, the target answers truthfully AND forgets about this immediately. Cool! 9th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to expend a 2nd level spell slot as a swift action upon scoring a crit, causing the target to take 2 Cha-damage and affect the target with caster croak spellblight, with a proper, Wis-based scaling DC. 12th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to swift action true seeing against a target of judgments – nice blend of the abilities. 15th level nets immediate awareness of shapechanging/altering effects as well as having the option to expend 4th-level spell slots to force such an effect to end. 18th level nets you the option to expend a 5th-level spellslot to make a circle of light, which not only gets rid of lies and forces Stealth to cease, it also eliminates magical Stealth-enhancers. And yes, the latter two abilities replace the teamwork feats. Another nice one.

The jade fist bloodrager are up next, and receive the bloodrage’s Will-save bonus to fear and necromancy effects as well as those generated by undead. The archetype adds blessed jade strike as a 3rd level spell to spells known (spell provided for you). Instead of 1st and 12th level’s bloodrager powers, these guys get +2 natural AC, but -2 to Dex when entering a bloodrage, as the skin turns to jade. This also provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. death effects, disease, energy drain, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning and necromantic effects. 12th level increases the bonuses and penalties incurred by 2. These guys get aImproved Unarmed Strike, at 1d6 for Medium bloodragers, replacing fast movement. 2nd level nets DR 1/Adamantine, which increases by 1 for every 2 levels thereafter, replacing uncanny dodge and the regular DR. At 4th, the jade fist may expend spell slots as a swift action to add lifesurge to unarmed strikes, considering it as +1 regarding enhancement bonus, +1 for every 4 levels thereafter, though this only applies vs. undead. Duration is governed by the level of the spell slot expended. At 8th level, this may be extended to weapons wielded, though the weapon needs to be partially made of jade. This replaces 4th level’s bloodline power. At 5th level, he gets basically 25% fortification, which increases to 15th level, replacing improved uncanny dodge and bloodline feat gained at 15th level. Kudos: This covers interaction with proper fortification right. Instead of 14th level’s indomitable will, we can expend 4th level spell slots to cast a spell as a swift action, sans AoO, treating it as 4th level.

The jinshi wizard must not be chaotic and automatically gains the average living expenses benefits, but he is also required to spend some days of the month serving the people, a duration that may btw. be paid off each month. These guys add Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive to class skills and learns two languages for every 2 ranks of Linguistics invested. They also add comprehend/share languages as well as tongues as spells known at 1st level. These fellows may not gain a familiar, instead gaining a bonded object. They may draw 1 spell from this object into an unoccupied spell slot, needing to fulfill all other requirements. This spell is available only fleetingly, and only ½ CL such spells may be retrieved from the object per day. This does not allow for the cheesing of prohibited schools. There is also the requirement of thereafter adding to the repository of spells, illustrating nicely the idea of a magic repository that transcends the ages. Instead of Scribe Scroll and the 1st level school power, these folks get Allied Spellcaster, gaining the benefits even if the nearby ally doesn’t have the feat. When readying actions and casting the same spells, DCs are increased and the higher CL is used. The feat may also be loaned for a limited number of rounds to allies, using school power uses as a resource. Clever. 5th level nets lore master and 10th level lets 1/day jinshi Empower or Extend Spells retrieved from the repository, +1/day use at 15th level and every 5 levels thereafter., where Maximize and Widen Spell are added to theoptions. The Allied Spellcaster ability also allows for use with this one. 15th level relives the character of the duties and also allows for at-range sharing of Allied Spellcasters, with allies sans spellcasting instead gaining Shielded Caster. Nice.

The unchained summoner kaiju caller loses proficiency with medium and heavy armor. When they use summon monster SP. You may expend 2 uses instead to summon a version at +1 size category, gaining the benefits of enlarge person. These guys only get the eidolon at 5th level, and it is brutish – ¼ skill points, Intelligence 1. However, it is immune to Intelligence drain/damage. The eidolon does gain a ferocity variant and the ability to 1/day immediate action delay the onset of a condition by one round. The summoner can grant his eidolon also a reroll as an alternative…and gets the complex ruler-interactions done right. Instead of transposition, we get chant of doom, which nets a doom chant that employs summon monster uses as resource and no-save shakens targets, but does not exacerbate previous fear effects. Nice one. At 10th level, the chant can grant allies a lesser form of rage (+2 Str/Con, +1 to Will-saves; -1 AC + restrictions to Cha/Dex/Int-based skill checks, excluding Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate and Ride). These benefits scale at higher levels and targets are not fatigued when the benefit elapses. This replaces aspect and greater aspect. The capstone lets the character generate natural disasters…or call Kaiju. OUCH. Damn cool.

The Kannushi druid adds Diplomacy/Knowledge (local + planes)) as class skills and loses medium and shield proficiency. Wild empathy is replaced with a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local, planes, religion). The archetype gets an expanded spell list, courtesy of kami tutelage and can call them with summon nature’s ally and entice fey, replacing spontaneous spells. Nature’s bond is delayed to 4th level, at 3 levels lower, gaining one spirit domain from an elder fey/jinushigami if worshiping such a target. Venom immunity is replaced by a shrine that can protect everything stored there. Interesting one.

The kenja cleric may not be evil and begins play with a potent vow of peace as a restriction that enforces fighting defensively or in total defense for the first two rounds, or cast defensive/healing spells. When given the chance, he must attempt to deal nonlethal damage to living targets. The archetype also loses proficiency with armor and shields, and only proficient in bolas, club, light mace, quarterstaff, sap, sling and sling staff. They get a monk-like unarmored AC bonus and may, as a move action, commune with ancestors to add a +2 insight bonus to the next d20-roll before the end of the next turn, usable Wis-mod + ½ cleric levels times per day. 1/day, the kenja may expend 3 uses to enter a trance that duplicates scaling divination effects. This replaces one 1st-level domain power. He also gets basically a lay on hands ability that substitutes for channel energy, including mercies gained throughout character progression. When used offensively, it may duplicate Touch of Serenity and the ability may also Merciful Spell spontaneously spells. This may not be used to damage undead. The archetype can spontaneously convert spells to peacebond or calm emotions (no cheesing possible) and 4th level nets sanctuary with buffs added – only one may be maintained, but the ability fails to specify the activation action – I assume the default standard action for SUs, but one could make a case for less. The ability improves at 8th and 16th level and may be used offensively to prevent creatures from attacking. This replaces the second domain power of a domain. I like this one’s “balanced Book of Exalted Deeds”-vibe, in spite of my nitpicks.

The mantis Madonna is a magus who loses armor proficiency, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute, treating spells as psychic spells. Huge kudos: Component substitution mentioned and covered! Spells are limited, but may be spontaneously cast and chosen from magus and psychic spell lists. The arcane pool is governed by Wisdom as well and applies to unarmed strikes – and yes, these folks get Improved Unarmed Strike and a monk’s progression for it as well as Stunning Fist, applying arcane pool benefits to these attacks and gaining a defense AC-granting buff to arcane pool-uses. Spellstrike applies to unarmed attacks and the archetype receives a modified magus arcana list, which include arcane eye/ lesser astral projection. I liked how the archetype handles the concept of combat precognition as an arcana, plus, we get defensive tricks like evasion and its improved brethren, further emphasizing the magus/monk-crossover idea. Instead of spell recall and its improved version, the archetype can expend arcane pool points to replenish spell slots, and the bonus feat array encompasses Style feats…and, actually gets the wording for feats that build on style feats right. Picture me celebrating hard in front of the screen! This is something almost everyone gets wrong! Kudos!! The archetype can also expend arcane pool points when preparing spells for a wildcard-ish psychic spell selection. At high levels, we also get Style/Stance-blending, which is something I always loved. While we lose the spell combat upgrades, we do get cool cosmic awareness-themed SPs as well as acting in a surprise round. I love this archetype. It’s a great representation of a hybrid-y archetype that feels distinct.

The miko shaman adds Appraise to the skill list and all their spells employ ofudas as an inexpensive material component, replacing divine focus. Here’s the cool thing: They can’t be dispelled. Instead, the ofuda must be taken off the target and targets don’t see ofudas attached to themselves. Now, this spellcasting tweak is really, really cool and includes grappling and stealing ofudas, as well as hp-levels. The archetype also gets ½ class level to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate as well as Sense Motive when interacting with fey and kami, and the ability to talk to dormant and nascent kami translates to speak with animals, plants or object reading, with 10th level unlocking stone tell, though these are limited by a hex-caveat – appropriate, since the ability replaces 2nd level’s hex. 8th level nets a shikigami kami as a spirit animal and may morph into animal form at beast shape III. The archetype also expands the summon nature’s ally-list with kamis. This replaces 8th level’s hex. 12th level is per se amazing: A potent option to bless a group to either grant bonuses or net cool benefits in conjunction with the downtime system – but, alas, the ability does not specify how long it takes to perform.

The Numerologist wizard must be lawful and adds Disable Device as a class skill. Scribing a spell requires twice the time, but they only take up half the space and other wizards have a hard time deciphering spells from their cipher. They also forfeit one spell per day of the highest spell level, with later levels losing similarly spell slots. Scribe Scrolls are harder to decipher for other casters and to make up for some of the drawbacks, these guys gain factors, which may be used ½ class levels, minimum 1, + Int-mod times per day as a move action These factors can provide a variety of numerical bonuses or reduce concealment, for example Minor nitpick: The factor unlocking is a move action, and thereafter, the numerologist can store multiple ones, up to Int-mod factors. This could have been phrased slightly more elegantly, but oh well. This replaces arcane bond. The archetype may break down higher level spell slots into lower level spell slots and gets some non-magic divination-effects at 4th level. They can prepare hexagrams as Silent Spell substitutions of verbal components (but you need somatic ones to brandish the hexagram) – this replaced 5th level’s bonus feat. At 10th level, the hexagram becomes more potent, adding +1 CL and Enlarge/Sculpt Spells brandished thus. The archetype receives symbolic magic, which nets glyph spells added as wella s the option to really competently deal with such trap-magics. Higher levels yield a bonus to saves vs. compulsion and insanity/confusion-immunity. 12th level lets the character 1/day replace a roll of his (or another being) with the average. Random rolls by items like the rod of wonder may be rolled multiple times for factor uses and fortune/misfortune hexes can also be sued. Damn cool archetype.

The origamist arcanist replaces the 1st level exploit with a construct origami familiar and may substitute origamis for material components that cost less than 1 gp. 5th level locks the character in a variant of the consume magic items exploit that only applies to magic items made of paper. Scrolls on the sorc/wiz list may be folded into origamis and cast sans writing them into the spellbook. He may also fold scrolls into costly material components. 9th level’s exploit is replaced with an origami-based shadow conjuration variant and unfortunate origami and paper vessel are added to spells known (these are reproduced for your convenience) at 10th and 12th level, respectively. 13th level provides a really cool, alternate 2D-paper-form that includes benefits for turning sideways, including furling into an impossibly thin line. Really cool replacement for that level’s exploit.

Ehem. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun. insert amazing beat The next archetype is Raiden. A shaman archetype and the guy you see on the cover. Proficiency-wise, we get long- and shortbows, whips and simple weapons and light armor. Wind is the prescribed spirit choice and may infuse shocking touch in arrows. We get lightning/storm-themed spirit magic spontaneous casting options and the ability to use shocking touch to fire a low-range electricity ray. This replaces wandering spirit. Instead of wandering he, we get the ability to make a super fast lightning ladder, which is REALLY useful. More so than you’d think. Instead of greater wandering spirit,w e get thundering or shock added to weaponry, as well as free thundering added on crits made with shocking touch. Really cool: Combo resistance-grant/line of damage instead of wandering hex (greater). Mechanically not the most interesting archetype herein, but I love MK, and I love playing Raiden…so yeah. Ehem.

The skyflower savant alchemist gets snapdragon fireworks as a first level extract and proceeds to get limited access to [fire]-descriptor (erroneously called fire subtype) evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list, with a limited set of discoveries as an alternate choice. These choices are made at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. The bombs of the alchemist dazzle targets on failed saves and may even blind the unlucky (nat 1 on save or confirmed crit), replacing Brew Potion. Poison resistance and immunity are traded in for a scaling bonus to saves versus fire effects and the blinded, dazzled and deafened conditions, as well as scaling fire resistance. Swift alchemy is traded in for quicker firework and black powder creation. Finally, there would be the Wushen wizard, who gets +1 toC L when preparing at least 3 spells of the same element. The class needs to adhere to a taboo, +1 at 3rd level and every three levels thereafter, with violations penalizing CL and spell save DC. They begin play with a ki pool of 1 point and add Int-mod points at 5th level, +1 for every 5 levels after 5th. These can be used for minor bonuses as well as to increase CL by 1d4, for 2 points, starting at 10th level. This replaces bonus feats. Instead of arcane bond, they can craft a fetish at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. These act as a spellbook substitute, allowing for preparation sans the spellbook, as if with both Spell Mastery and Eschew Materials. The fetish spell can also add a +1 spell level adjustment metamagic feat, which is free for the spell as long as the fetish is worn. The wushen does not need to know the feat, fyi. Cool take on the concept!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language level – considering the density and high complexity of the rules-operations herein, the precision is marvelous indeed. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will know most. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Nelson and David N. Ross deliver an all-killer pdf of archetypes. These options ooze flavor galore, cover unique and fun concepts…and they can stand up to even the high levels of coolness that e.g. Interjection Games’ Onmyoji reached, providing meaningful and unique changes to the game. I am particularly enamored with the superbly-elegant ofuda-casting herein: Easy to implement, making it the dominant (or only) casting tradition can have phenomenal and interesting repercussions for the world. I am definitely experimenting with this in the days to come! The book, in short, is a winner. Well worth checking out, full of cool ideas, I was left with minor nitpicks here and there, but not enough to steal the crown of 5 stars + seal of approval from this excellent book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Archetypes: Magical
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Everyman Minis: Bountiful Harvest Ritual
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2018 04:07:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case that wasn’t super-obvious, let me spell it out: This occult ritual is basically one that is a representation of the Thanksgiving feast, minus the cultural baggage. It clocks in at 7th level and requires foodstuff and silverware galore and may only be cast during a harvest festival that must contain no less than 80 individuals. All foodstuff used must be locally-sourced within 12 miles of the ritual’s place of casting. The folks that partake in the massive feast get a supreme combination of powerful healing magics, ridding them of diseases and poisons and healing them. Cool: Higehr quality (read: More expensive) components can be used to add further, powerful curative effects to the ritual.

Beyond that, creatures partaking in the ritual get a 1-year lasting +4 morale bonus to saves versus disease, poison, emotion effects dealing with negative emotions (codified properly!). Upon completing the feast, any who partook become briefly and temporarily immune to a whole slew of negative effects. Additionally, the crops are blessed, granting better harvests…but there is a catch to these benefits: Once you have performed the ritual, you are expected to continue to do so! Failure to reproduce it in subsequent years will reverse the bountiful harvest, causing lean times to come, and kami or fey, for example, are liable to be antagonistic towards any participant who failed to attend a subsequent festival, creating a dependency of sorts and putting some serious potential stress on communities. This is clever, as it acts as a means to offset the significant benefits the ritual provides. That being said, I found myself wishing that it came with some variants for more sinister celebrations (wicker man, anyone?) or with a variant for e.g. coastal communities, focusing on fish, perhaps with a deep one-angle. That may just be me, though.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column b/W-standard and the pdf sports, as always, a nice artwork by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Scott Beeh’s Bountiful Harvest Ritual is a fun mini-supplement that is worth checking out. The requirement for repetition once established makes for a potent drawback, particularly for adventuring folks, which helps to keep the powerful benefits in check. While it is a tad bit more focused than the concept necessarily warrants, I consider this ritual to be a nice addition to the game. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Bountiful Harvest Ritual
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Everyman Minis: The Tall One
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:42:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Minis-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2 .5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the introductory page, we get the Fear cleric subdomain in two different versions – one associated with void, one associated with evil. Both btw. have different replacement spells. The void version focuses on what you’d expect in that regard – we get crushing despair, wall of force and prismatic wall. The one based on evil focuses on low-level fear-related spells. The void variant replaces the base power with aura of isolation, which can be activated as a standard action for 3 + Wis rounds per day. Enemies in the aura become sluggish, treating it as difficult terrain. They also can’t provide flanking bonuses. Or benefit from aid another. The subdomain based on the evil domain instead replaces the 8th level power, which allows you to, as an immediate action, increase your damage output versus targets suffering from a fear effect. The damage is untyped and nets you temporary hit points. Limited daily uses and restriction on melee weapons make me okay with it.

Okay, that out of the way…The Tall One. We’re looking at a fully statted Great Old One-level of being here – CR 28, pure glory. The fellow can grapple sans being grappled and has all the cool tricks you’d associate with Slenderman: Memory alteration, shapechanging, dimensional abduction, immunity to gaze attacks, etc. The guy can mark victims and it can wreck even high level PCs: Massive immunities and resistances, 8 attacks, all of which can rend the minds of victims. Full synergy with the sanity rules from Horror Adventures. Breaking dimensional locks. Undetectable. AMAZING. The build is a gloriously wicked killing machine.

The pdf also includes notes on the Tall One per se, its cult…and something amazing: A half a page long ballad of the Tall One! Yes, its text is reproduced and we even get notes on its genesis!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column b/w-standard with full-color artwork for the Tall One provided as a sprinkle of color. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas knows how to craft critters that are worth their CRs. The Tall One is a gloriously-deadly super-villain/force of nature that perfectly encapsulates the Slenderman-myth. Beyond the mechanics, we get glorious fluff and the ballad adds icing on an awesome cake. I adore this humble supplement. 5 stars + seal of approval. Now, should I rewatch Marble Hornets?

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: The Tall One
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The Manor, Issue #5
Publisher: GM Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:41:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of the Manor zine clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The first chapter of this installment provides 4 different villains, illustrated with great b/w-artworks by Jay Penn: Here, we can find Morton Millwater, formerly an elf, who had to learn via near-death experience that he is, indeed, a half-troll, awakening to cannibalistic impulses. A truly vile dwarven cleric sworn to Eternal Darkness has become the sworn foe to his people. A true professional kills to hone his craft and leaves compensation for bereaved victims, but is probably the most disturbing of the villains here, courtesy of his disregard for the value of life. Finally, there is a potent warlord who does not quell the unrest in his area, as it allows him to retain control and indeed, get his share of bloodshed and authority. These NPCs are cool and fun, even though their presentations don’t sport perfect formatting.

Chris Coski provides cursed concoctions – here, you can find the decanter of dehydration, the god-awfully-smelling eau de trog, a representation of the temporary zombie-draught, a drink that causes constant babbling and one that nets a Babylonian language-confusion. Plumber’s poison turns metal to lead and we also get a philter of pheromones. Really cool article!

Sean Robson provides a 1-page tavern name generator with 20 entries for adjectives and 20 entries for nouns, though some entries sport more than once choice. Solid.

The next article is the crown-jewel of the pdf, at least as far as I’m concerned: It provides 4 thoroughly-discussed and intriguing types of special doors - from the sturdy Oxfords to the necromancer-suitable Magaross, the orcish Marchuz or the Delarogue, sold be capable thieves, this section details pros and cons of each door and is absolutely inspiring. LOVE it! Seriously worth the asking price of the pdf on its own.

The final article of the ‘zine contains 20 random city encounters, which first present the situation and then what has truly happened/developments in shaded boxed text. The encounters are nice and have tie-ins with e.g. #2’s Hugo’s as well as one of the villains herein. These include a sadistic psychopath kid, drunk folks, undead…all in all, a solid section.

The pdf concludes with a map of a complex, usable at your convenience and sans key.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally rather tight and solid in both formal and rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks are really amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the map is neat.

Tim Shorts, Sean Robson and Chris Cosky present my favorite Manor –issue so far. The articles on doors and weird liquids are amazing and warrant the low and great asking price. The articles are concise and fun. What more to ask? This is definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Manor, Issue #5
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5E Mini-Dungeon #081: An Empire Given
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:38:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Okay, and now for something completely different: The complex presented here represents a planar museum of sorts, with chaotic, strange stair-sequences linking the disparate rounds in a weird sequence. The layout/presentation of the sequence in 5e is a bit clearer than in PFRPG. Beyond this maze-like quality and the dangerous inhabitants, the module has a leitmotif: “What would you give for a realm to call home? An empire from where you’ll ne’er have to roam?” This is the question posed by the complex and its master, and passing it may actually have the PCs claim a planar complex/home-base suitable for their high levels! The ToB-creatures used herein are smartly chosen. The pdf btw. also includes a fully depicted, new trap.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Stephen Yeardley knocks the ball out of the park with this one. Inspired, creative and cool, this totally rocks! The conversion-team Chris Harris and Kyle Crider did a good job translating this little gem. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #081: An Empire Given
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Mini-Dungeon #081: An Empire Given
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:37:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Okay, and now for something completely different: The complex presented here represents a planar museum of sorts, with chaotic, strange stair-sequences linking the disparate rounds in a weird sequence. Beyond this maze-like quality and the dangerous inhabitants, the module has a leitmotif: “What would you give for a realm to call home? An empire from where you’ll ne’er have to roam?” This is the question posed by the complex and its master, and passing it may actually have the PCs claim a planar complex/home-base suitable for their high levels! The pdf btw. also includes a fully depicted, new trap.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley knocks the ball out of the park with this one. Inspired, creative and cool, this totally rocks! My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #081: An Empire Given
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5E Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:34:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Within the underworld, in caverns laced with mithril and adamantine, the PCs find a cave-in, lots of dead folks, and a panel – touching it manifest as an astralnaut’s ship devoted to neutrality – and no less lethal in spite of that. The module makes great use of Tome of Beasts’ expanded creature array. The adventure comes with a brief random encounter table and strategies for roaming foes and defenses. I did find myself wishing we’d get proper vessel-stats for the astral ship, though – we just get the planar traits, which is cool, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Stephen Yeardley provides a fun and uncommon module, though one that could have used vessel-stats instead of page #2’s artwork. The conversion by Chris Harris and Kyle Crider is neat. My final verdict will clock in as 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
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Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:32:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Within the underworld, in caverns laced with mithril and adamantine, the PCs find a cave-in, lots of dead folks, and a panel – touching it manifest as an astralnaut’s ship devoted to neutrality – and no less lethal in spite of that. Astral leviathans and dragons, clockwork workers and alchemical golems make for an uncommon enemy array. The adventure comes with a brief random encounter table and strategies for roaming foes and defenses. I did find myself wishing we’d get proper vessel-stats for the astral ship, though – we just get the planar traits, which is cool, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley provides a fun and uncommon module, though one that could have used vessel-stats instead of page #2’s artwork. My final verdict will clock in as 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #080: Time Out of Joint
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5E Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:29:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Urkkia, a deadly derro antipaladin (from Tome of Beasts, hyperlink provided) with serious magical talent, has managed to create this place and attracted a ton of shadow creatures. The complex comes with a random encounter table and while knowledge may be had, the complex also sports some truly deadly hazards and unique adversaries. The PCs, thankfully, invade while the spy is regrowing a clone, but yeah – not an easy complex.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Stephen Yeardley provides a dangerous, deadly romp in this scenario. The dungeon is challenging and interesting. The choice to represent the module at lower levels in 5e makes sense – Kyle Crider and Chris Harris did a good job here. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a nice, well-crafted mini-adventure.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Click to show product description

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Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 04:28:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg's included as well!

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Urkkia, a deadly gnome spy with serious magical talent, has managed to create this place and attracted a ton of shadow creatures. The complex comes with a random encounter table and while knowledge may be had, the complex also sports some truly deadly hazards and unique adversaries. The PCs, thankfully, invade while the spy is regrowing a clone, but yeah – not an easy complex.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!! The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Stephen Yeardley provides a dangerous, deadly romp in this scenario. The dungeon is challenging and interesting. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a nice, well-crafted mini-adventure.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #079: The King of Infinite Space
Click to show product description

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Asian Bloodlines
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:28:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of bloodrager and sorcerer bloodlines intended for Asian settings clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 2/3 pages of SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so structure-wise, a few of the bloodlines herein make use of spells from the Asian Spell Compendium – these have been reprinted here for your convenience. (Kudos!) The pdf first proceeds to present bloodrager bloodlines, then sorcerer bloodlines. The respective ones have been properly tailored to the two classes, while retaining concise leitmotifs.

Let me demonstrate with the first bloodline, the imperial dragons, who choose a lineage corresponding to the 5 imperial dragon types. This influenced the shape of the breath weapon as well of the associated energy type. The imperial dragon bloodlines presented are based on the core draconic bloodlines, with 12th level adding an increased threat range to them. The dragon resistances at 4th level represents a natural AC bonus and DR 5/bludgeoning or slashing, with the AC scaling at higher levels. Breath weapons of imperial sea dragons can alternatively be executed as a 60 ft.-line and the draconic movement is adjusted for each of the lineages chosen and tweaked in unique ways – for example, forest dragon scions get the abilities trackless step and woodland stride in forests as well as freedom of movement as well as the high-level option to see through natural obstacles in forests: Vines etc. offer no concealment. That is damn cool and allows for some really nasty tactical options. You can see how the respective draconic options here work well for the bloodrager. The sorcerer version of the bloodline gets enhanced piercing damage spells as bloodline arcana as well as a focus on better damage output for e.g. animated objects chiefly made of earth, stone, mud, etc. The sorcerer option has less direct adjustments than the bloodrager option, but it still is distinct from it.

Now the imperious bloodline so far had no bloodrager equivalent, a fact that hereby changes, as the imperious bloodrager provides a decrease of length required to use Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge versus humans to one round while bloodraging, as well as a bonus to Intimidate versus those affected by your spells. Really cool: Executing good hope/suggestion as part of entering bloodrage! Even cooler, there is actually a caveat that prevents abuse by bloodrage-cycling. At higher levels, we have the option for immediate action demoralizing of targets as a response to being targeted by spells, SUs, etc. 12th level nets inspired rage raging song via spell slot expenditure, with spell levels denoting the duration. The higher level options provide 1/day adding geas/quest or vengeful outrage to Intimidate, while the capstone nets immunity to death effects and energy drain and cease to age or require drink/sleep. The bloodline is really cool, as it focuses on a leader bloodrager, a trope we only rarely see catered to. Nice!

Both bloodrager and sorcerer get the kami bloodline. For the bloodrager, this begins with a VERY potent skirmishing trick – ignoring difficult terrain while bloodraging. I’d complain here, were it not for the limitation by bloodrage. This would only be the first ability, though, and the bloodline frankly moves on to provide a thoroughly awesome rendition of the concept underlying the notion of kami: The bloodline allows for the use of bloodrage rounds to animate objects with kamis, with progressively better animations. Similarly, melding into the ground, spirit sight and designating a ward make this one a truly cool and unique bloodline that allows for meaningful changes of the playing experience. I love it! The sorcerer version of the bloodline is similar, but instead of the unbound chaos of animated objects, we get the options to make origami shikigami! Yeah, amazing, right? Spells and bloodline arcana also represent rather well a different take on the concept that feels much more sorcerer-y while retaining its familiar ties with the bloodrager bloodline.

The kappa bloodline provided for both classes nets defensive options, including no arcane spell failure in heavy armor and when using tower shields for the bloodrager, as well as sight through mists and kappa-transformation when entering bloodrage. The bloodrager can also short-range teleport in mists etc. with spell-slot expenditure, with higher levels providing grabbing claws as well as dragon turtle bloodrage and an antimagic shell that nets SR. Once more, a rules-relevant and interesting modification of the bloodrager-experience that I applaud. The sorcerer bloodline, alas, is less interesting – we get scaling defenses, resistances and the like, but nothing that really screams “unique”, though the option to change fire-damage spells to ones that cause cold damage at +1 damage per die rolled is a nice bloodline arcana.

The next bloodline would be the kitsune bloodline – the sorcerer bloodline makes the saves versus interacting with your illusions tougher if the targets are friendly or better and you can generate fox fire, which are dancing lights that add an option to be fired as fiery globes. Cool! Unsurprisingly, we get a focus on shapechanging that scales, as well as more persistent illusions that persist after your concentration breaks. Really cool: Polymorphing into targets you have magic jar’d and the capstone swift action illusion maintenance. At this level, we can also expend spell slots to enhance the shapechanging tricks. The passion and design is evident – Alexander Augunas has obviously designed this one. It has his style written all over it. The bloodrager version of the bloodline is damn cool as well and goes a thoroughly different route: We get Kumiho transformation when bloodraging as well as 4th level full spellcasting while in kumiho form, which btw. also makes your spells harder to identify. The bloodline then proceeds to provide further upgrades for this fearsome form, including the option to execute heart strikes, which, at higher levels, can become instantly fatal, but require set-up. I love how different a route this one takes, yet how it remains distinctly kitsune. There is also a cool kyubi mutated bloodline that gets a ki pool governed by Charisma, which comes with some unique enhancers to spellcasting. It also makes for really cool synergies with different ki-tricks of other classes and options from e.g. The Way of Ki or the numerous WuXia-themed options out there. This one replaces potent illusions.

Next up would be the naga bloodline: For the bloodrager, this one nets a properly codified bite attack that scales with levels and later nets you poison with it. Scaling AC-bonuses and naga shape III, a capstone immunity to mind-reading and permanent see invisibility as well as at-will detect thoughts and a +2 bonus to saves versus mind-influencing effects. The naga bloodline for sorcerers nets limited invisibility, better enchantment DCs and saves vs. mind-influencing effects and poisons, casting sans hands and a capstone, at-will naga shape III plus immunity to charm, mind-reading and poison. We also get two mutated bloodlines, with the guardian naga adding an AC-buff when fortifying yourself with transmutations. There is a somewhat hilarious cut-copy-paste glitch here that mentions them deriving their power from the kyubi, but it does not influence rules-integrity. Instead of vanishing, guardian nagas can spit poison a limited number of times, ensnaring eyes are replaced with bonuses to mind-influencing effects and the bloodline nets a few cleric spells added to the spell-list. The second mutated bloodline would be the spirit naga, who can squeeze through tighter spaces and gets +2 to Escape Artist as well as to escape from grapples and to saves versus entangling/restricting conditions. This replaces naga resistances and 9th level nets a fascinating gaze that replaces ensnaring eyes.

The oni bloodline nets a touch that inflicts scaling nonlethal damage (cool!) a limited amount of times, with altered self gained at 3rd level and 17th level unlimiting the ability. We also get gaseous form and 15th level nets you oni regeneration, which kicks in once you’re reduced below 0 hit points. A limit prevents the cheesing of the ability via Hp-transfer tricks – kudos! A lesser designer would have stumbled over this one. The capstone nets a giant shape I-based alternate form as well as SR and +2 to DCs for charm and compulsion. There is a mutated bloodline for the oni, the nogitsune, which lets you see past sight-obscuring spells (cool!!) and replaces the gaseous form ability with additional target/increased area of effects for charm and compulsion spells. The bloodrager iteration of the bloodline, which nets you a gore attack, whose damage is properly codified. (Type must be defaulted, but it’s gore, so yeah, no big issue.) The alter self/gaseous form options are retained, though oni regeneration is tweaked and instead uses a maximum daily cap, but may be activated as a swift or immediate action, which makes sense for the class. The high-level options, we get the giant form I-based trick, with a further enlarge person as part of bloodrage and SR added as well; if already in giant form I, it upgrades to II. Neat one.

The rakshasa bloodline is another nice bloodrager option that makes sense for faces – +5 to Bluff to lie and characters attempting to force the truth out of the fellow require a CL-check. We also get a well-made claw attack in bloodrage (properly codified) and limited, instant detect thoughts sans the 3-round concentration requirement, which is cool. Nondetection/misdirection becomes available at 12th level, and 16th level nets a save versus divine spells and channel energy/domain powers as well as DR 5/good and piercing , which increases at 20th level. The capstone nets you an unlimited, alternate raksaha form. The sorcerer version comes with the same cool silver tongue ability at first level, the same detect thoughts…but makes nondetection permanent and also yields unlimited alter self into any humanoid. The capstone nets outsider apotheosis as well as DR 10/piercing, though it should be noted that it explicitly does not come with the usual outsider-apotheosis returning-from-death-restrictions.

The final bloodline provided herein would be the tengu. The Sorcerer version nets +1 to attack with spells that create slashing weapons as well as +1 to the DC of language-dependent effects. The bloodline powers begin limited gliding/feather fall via gliding wings – really cool! 3rd level nets swordtraining and thus, a massively-enhanced proficiency-list, as well as sorcerer level as BAB for the purpose of feat-qualification. This also nets Weapon Focus and qualifies for Weapon Specialization later. 9th level nets scent, which is particularly efficient versus undead. The higher level options include being able to avoid the limitations of language-dependent spells and effects a limited amount of times per day, as well as full spellcasting functionality in bird form. The capstone nets you a tengu shape as well as the option to negate an attack by becoming a cloud of feathers that also makes you effectively benefit from gaseous form, nets you concealment and allows for the follow-up beast shape II assuming of a crow shape. Neat one! The bloodrager variant of the bloodline nets you a beak, which acts a s a secondary natural weapon (damage type not codified); attacks with it are enhanced when wielding a sword and 4th level provides bonded blade, which may be quickly drawn…and comes with a parry mechanic based on opposed attack rolls. Here’s the thing: Action, rounds of bloodrage and AoOs as resources to fuel it make it actually tactical. While I’ll never be a fan of them, this is pretty much one of the best iterations of a parry mechanic I know. Even cooler: You can expend spell slots to temporarily render the bonded even more potent, adding bonuses or special qualities. Minor complaint: The bloodline nets Style feats, and while the base Style feat is available all the time, the 12th and 16th levels net +1 such feat, with the wording implying that these could be follow-up feats from a Style’s feat-chain. Here’s the issue: Only the FIRST feat in a Style-feat chain is a Style-feat. Style feats are limited and those that build on them usually are combat feats. So yeah, this one is a tad bit more wonky than I’m accustomed to see from LG. 12th level nets your flight in bloodrage; 16th provides Deflect Arrows while in bloodrage and the capstone nets auto-confirms for crits and an increased multiplier as well as immunity to being disarmed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level, with only one, harmless, formal typo and very minor hiccups in the rules. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will be familiar with them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.

Jason Nelson, Alexander Augunas and David N. Ross are all veteran designers that deliver a ton of first-class products. Their names are almost always a really good indicator that the book will be at least good, quite probably amazing. Now, let me be frank: I’m rather burned out on the concept of bloodlines. I have analyzed and read so many of them, that this review took me longer than it should have. That being said, this book frankly clocks in as one of the best books for sorcerers and bloodragers that you can possibly get for PFRPG, with only Interjection games’ Big Book of Bloodlines sporting bloodlines this distinct. While I wasn’t utterly blown away by all bloodlines herein, there are quite a bunch that rather radically change the playing experience of the respective base class, and that is an amazing thing to achieve. This is a really compelling, well-written supplement that provides a LOT of information and quality rules in its pages. Well worth a final verdict of 5 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Asian Bloodlines
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5E Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2018 05:26:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a 5E-mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version of the map, in both GM and player-friendly versions!

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

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

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..

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Still here?

All right!

The PCs have been drugged and captured by Lord Xu Tannak, and no the PCs will be forced to run the maze of his Skullkeeper, a deadly minotaur. The maze comes with 6 sample events and descriptions of the rooms, with desperate NPCs hoping to escape as well. Avoiding the potent minotaur will NOT be simple and the module is brutal, particularly since PCs only get a torch, a rusty shortsword and a loincloth.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Annoying: The scroll that contains the header obscures location #1 on the map in its entirety. Cartography is full color and nice. Huge plus: We get a GM AND a Player-version of the area in which this takes place, providing full VTT-friendly compatibility.

Justin Andrew Mason’s maze of the skullkeeper is a cool, deadly gauntlet. The layout glitch is a bit problematic and a reference to combined strength to remove something is a bit odd for 5e. The conversion by Kyle Crider and Chris Harris is solid. Still, in spite of these guffaws, this is worth checking out – my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #078: Maze of the Skullkeeper
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