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Akashic Mysteries: Vizier
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2015 13:59:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This first installment of the Akashic Mysteries-series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



First of all, in case you don't know - this is the PFRPG-version of "Magic of Incarnum", updated, refined and refluffed. But it's more than that. Let me elaborate - back in teh day, i liked the basic concept of Incarnum; its balancing may not always have been perfect, but it was an interesting system, one I wished had come out sooner and wish better cost/benefit ratios. I didn't enjoy the fluff, but that could be changed easily. Still, the system didn't seem to gel well with my group, until we went gestalt - in that playstyle, it excelled.



Fast-forward to this series - has it inherited the weaknesses of its parent-system? What about the flavor? We'll see!



The class introduced herein would be the vizier, who receives d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor, bucklers and simple weapons. The class has 1/2 BAB-progression and, uncommon for a full caster, but not unheard of, good fort and will-saves. The main schtick of the class, though, would be veilweaving, which is grouped into two categories, namely veils and essences. A 1st level vizier begins play with 2 veils and 1 essence and increases that to a total of 11 veils and 30 essences at 20th level.



Viziers receive instant access to all veils on the vizier's list, apart from those of an alignment opposing that of the vizier. When required, a veil's save DC is 10 + number of essence points invested + vizier's Intelligence modifier. A vizier may invest up to his character level in essence into a given veil or given receptacle. Here, the wording is slightly non-standard - not to a point where I'd complain about this or detract from the verdict, but still, making this one slightly more linear in its wording would help. At 3rd level, 11th and 19th, the vizier increases the maximum capacity of a receptacle by +1. DCs also increase by +1 on these levels. Re-allocating essence into veils can be done as a swift action each round. Veils are prepared much like spells each day after rest etc.



You may have noticed that the vizier, in spite of what the base frame of the class might look like, is NOT a spellcaster - however, they do treat vizier-levels as arcane caster levels for purposes of qualifying for feats and abilities. Now I mentioned that essence can be freely re-distributed between veils - well the same does *NOT* hold true regarding the investiture of essence into magic items with charges: Wands, staves and wondrous items can be infused with essence, gaining additional charges that last for 24 hours before dissipating. These cannot be reassigned and remain essentially locked in the item. Here, there's issue, though - (warning: nitpickery!) balance is a bit opaque, since the basic veilweaving does not specify when the essence-pool refreshes, instead stating "A vizier must have at least 8 hours rest or meditation to achieve a clear and focused state, and must meditate for one hour to shape his veils for the day." One could argue that you could theoretically invest essence twice into an item in a given 24 hour-period. Would that be smart? In most of the cases, it wouldn't be. I'd hence suggest to include a sentence that clearly states that essence invested in items does not regenerate before 24 hours have elapsed. Also, since the duration and essence capacity maximum (see waaaay down in the section on veilweaving) could cause confusion here, I'd strongly suggest rewiring the rest/essence-regain-wording.



There is another issue - an item that has essence invested in it not only gains the temporary charges, it also does never prompt UMD checks to use. While the ability can only be used to activate spells of 8th level or lower, it can still lead to problems.



What do I mean by this? Surprisingly, I'm not complaining about items with few charges being left as treasure to have some "smart bombs" here; What I'm not sold on is simply the flat-out "no UMD"-section AND the non-scaling nature of this ability. What if the players find a wand with precious few charges or a unique staff and can just flat-out use it? I am aware that these are fringe-cases, but it would theoretically allow the vizier to utilize charge-based items beyond his level's capacity (if the DM foolishly drops them into the treasure...) - and there is a pretty easy solution that prevents the issue: Just make the highest spell level of the item the governing factor for whether or not you have to UMD and make it scale with class level progression, by e.g. tying it to twice essence capacity. Now, yes, the base ability isn't broken, but I maintain that such a solution would be much more elegant and prevent fringe-case abuse.



Now there also are so-called chakra-binds - these are gained at 2nd level in a linear manner, +1 at every 2nd level, in a fixed progression from Hands, feet, head, wrist, shoulders, headband, neck, belt chest and finally, at 20th level, body. At 9th level, the vizier can bind veils in the ring slot and at 15th level, you can bind them into both ring slots. On a nitpicky-side, I don't get why the ring-slots are not wrapped in the chakra-ability, but that is purely a cosmetic gripe.



At 3rd level, viziers may reshape a veil 1/day (+1/day for every 4 levels thereafter) as a standard action that provokes AoOs into a new veil. Additionally, each time the daily uses increase, you may also shift one additional veil per ability use. The capstone allows for at-will veilshaping - and whenever the class uses the veilshaping ability, he regains 3+Int temporary essence.



Viziers also receive a kind of bloodline-ish linear ability chosen at first level - a total of 3 are provided and I hope we'll see more of those. The Path of the Crafter, Path of the Seer and Path of the Ruler.



The Path of the Crafter gain a bonus equal to 1/2 class level (rounded up or down?) on all skill-checks made as part of the crafting process. That is *pretty* powerful. Allies within 30 ft. that activate a magic item, treat caster level and DC of the activated item as +1. That is nasty, but will also make the vizier rather popular with his adventuring companions. Okay, where things get rather unique would be in one particular ability - transfer essence. This allows you to meditate on items and exchange their bonuses and special abilities. - Found a cool weapon, but don't have the proficiency for it? just exchange the enchantment with those on your trusty sword. I applaud the fact that you can't cherry-pick abilities. Now, on the other hand, wand/staff charges can also be exchanged if the items have the same highest spell level - a fitting restriction, but one I'd suggest to be supplemented with an analogue caster level (or lower) restriction to prevent spells that increase their potency with caster level having their charges cheaply upped by using charges from items that do not scale with CL. Once again, not a bad glitch, but rather one that can easily be fixed.



The path also grants item creation feats and a decreased craft-price at higher levels. Oh, and kudos for the intelligent item/cursed item/artifact caveat!



The path of the ruler is all about granting a will-save/sense motive debuff aura, with selective exclusion of allies. Enforcing a reroll at high levels is nice, but when compare to the Crafter's benefits, the path of the ruler feels pretty meek. The poor guy could use an upgrade for his aura.



The path of the seer increases movement of all allies within 60 ft. by +5 ft, +5 more at 9th and 17th level - neat. Now the interesting part comes next - the seer learns teamwork feats and for each point invested, the class may share ALL teamwork feats granted by this ability (1 is gained at 1st, 5th, 9th and 13th level) with an ally; additionally, veils tied to hand or feat may be shared alongside with allies. High-level seer-viziers may freely retrain the teamwork feats. See, that one is a competent, powerful commander-style path and once again, mops the floor with the relatively uninspired ruler-path.



Next up would be an array of new feats, 37 if I'm not mistaken. There are some feats for non-akashic classes to wilder in the system. Feats with the new [Akashic]-descriptor increase the essence pool by +1. The feats very much do support one aspect I loved about the original incarnum - gestalting and multiclassing. Investing essence into one school to have the school's spells at CL+1? Can see that. On the downside, these feats constitute neither veils, nor charge-bearing items, so not sure whether one can freely re-allocate essence invested via feats of this formula. Free reallocation would amount to pretty much free CL+1 for all spells of that school. While not too bad in this example, when one takes a look at the power point-reducing feat in the same line (reduce PP-cost by essence invested, thankfully with power-level based additional restrictions), it becomes apparent that free reallocation is something that needs to be addressed, otherwise, you could decrease the cost of ALL powers subsequently. This is especially puzzling since the feat that allows you to invest essence in favor of getting power points *does* specify the 24 hours-no-reassignment cap. This also becomes also apparent when taking a look at the otherwise interesting veilbound metamagic, which once again uses a 1/day formula.



The pdf ought to specify whether it uses the 24-hour bind-and-locked wording or whether it imposes a cap on how many times per day essence can be invested in a feat - utilizing both models quickly becomes confusing. After multiple extensive playtesting sessions, I'd suggest the former, i.e. going analogue to charge-investment, for what it's worth.



Conversely, not all feats suffer from this specific issue -akashic charge allows you to 1/day invest essence in the feat, granting a bonus to atk and damage when charging equal to the essence invested. Its missing no-reassignment clause has been addressed in the errata and I'm willing to believe that this component will feature in the next update. This type of complaint, however, can be fielded against a whole feat-class herein - I assume that to be oversights in layout/editing, since some feats clearly sport this caveat. There are *a lot* of feats interacting and enhancing existing feats here and math-wizards *will* have a field day here. I just hope that all those cool feats receive the "no reassignment for 24 hours"-caveat in the next update - as provided here, the feats that lack it can be broken pretty easily.



Essentially, the point boils down to the following scenario:

Does the feat grant a significant bonus based on essence-investment? If yes, it should have the essence bound analogue to charge items.

Does the feat instead grant a highly situational or very restricted bonus? Then essence should remain flexible to justify the feat investment.

In any case, adding the 1/day restrictions feels a bit tacked on; with just a bit of minor streamlining, this whole section can be rid of its minor issues and made more smooth.



Beyond these, I also noticed that "Essence of the Immortals" has the [Akashic]-descriptor, but has neither an essence pool as a prerequisite, nor does it grant +1 essence -the same holds true for some other feats, but I have not yet determined whether that's intentional or an oversight.



This may all have sounded terribly negative - it's not my intent to do so. It's just that this one glitch in how the whole feat-class works makes it very hard to judge whether these work as intended or not. The plus-side here is that the math underlying the feats can be considered powerful, but NOT overpowered - at least once the 24-hour lock-caveat has been implemented. To close my discussion on the feats with something positive - the massive gestalting potential of incarnum is not only maintained, it is surpassed - the feats here have something for just about everyone to utilize, which is downright awesome.



All right, so let's get to veilweaving, shall we? Every veil is associated with a chakra and *can* be bound to the chakra if the akashic class is powerful enough to do so, gaining more benefits. Each chakra corresponds to an equipment slot and some veils can occupy one or two or even more different slots. It is very important to note that veils bound to chakras do *NOT* interfere with items worn in the same slot - the biggest suckage-factor of incarnum is GONE.



Upon manifesting the veil, you can choose which slot the veil is applied to. If you remember the above discussion of the class, you'll realize that new chakras become unlocked at a fixed progression. Veils interact with spells and spell-like abilities as if they were spells. Veils, unless they modify/grant natural attacks or weapons, are subject to SR. Veils can be targeted and even sundered to temporarily suppress them. identifying veils works via Knowledge (arcana), which may seem a bit odd, seeing the usual adherence to Spellcraft for such a task...but I actually really like this decision. it adds a "different" flavor to the magic-class. Now before you all start screaming regarding how huge, highly circumstantial bonuses can be stacked up - there *is* a pretty conservative essence capacity limit based on character level - no more than this fixed amount can be invested in any one veil, feat, etc.



Now the veils...ooohhh, if you like customizable classes, you'll have a field day here! Fascination-auras with customizable aura size may be nice...but what if a target is freed from the effect and you have bound the veil to your wrist? Well, then you can deliver what my group called the "akashic pimp slap" with a free action ranged touch attack. Eyes of fiery death? Yup. Veils that improve starting attitude (and this one ACTUALLY manages to achieve the "disarming smile/diplomancer-trope *so much* better than comparable options, it's really cool) can be found herein alongside those helping with elemental affinities. Want a veil that allows you to spontaneously create zombies (or cairn wights in ring-slot-bound-form?) from the deceased? Channel-like effects of veils have thankfully daily limits imposed upon them to prevent abuse - that's how it's done.



On a nitpicky side that will not influence the final verdict, the veil that grants a draconic breath weapon could have used a short list of what dragon-colors net lines and which cones - while *I* know them by hard, many players will have to look that one up. As mentioned, nitpicking here and not gonna penalize the pdf for one page-skip required. Pretty awesome - by binding the aforementioned veil to the neck, you can further increase your draconic breath's power; alternatively, you can grow wings with increasing maneuverability. Now the hand cannons combined with target of Opportunity are a pretty nasty combo -especially when combined with a sniper as deadly as the one I have in my group - but come on. Hand cannons. I actually made a hand cannon in an archetype once. I'm a berserk fanboy. I can't hate on magical hand cannons. (Plus, while powerful, they're not broken.)



Want whips of light? Yup. What about binding it to make trip attempts against every enemy in range whenever the veil is triggered? Yep, that's crazy awesome to not be flooded by groups of moderately competent mooks. And yes, in playtest, a defense scenario against floods of foes actually saw the vizier shine pretty nicely.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect - here and there, the wording's flow could be improved, especially among the feats, which feel like 2 versions of rules-language collide for a section that is more confusing than it ought to be. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes bookmarked, though not extensively so. The pdf does come in two versions, with the second being more printer-friendly.



Okay, after reading this review, I'd really love to know what you think follows next. Admittedly, the vizier, to me, has a very much WiP-feel - the wording of essence-regaining/veil-redistribution could be clearer, feats feel a bit over the place regarding the system they utilize and one of the 3 paths is not only much more boring than the other two, it is also significantly weaker. So that would be the downsides.



On the plus-side - this MOPS THE FLOOR with Magic of Incarnum! The vizier is so much cooler than the incarnate, it's not even funny anymore. Seriously, it's so much better, it's not even funny! The fluff is better. The execution is better. The math is more elegant and if the wording issues are ironed out and there's no ambiguity left (especially re item interaction), this will be a total and utter blast. I honestly did not expect to like this due to several factors:

1) Fluff. Done. Not only is the new fluff cooler, the writing actually dares to be funny once in a while in an unobtrusive manner. Take this one: "Binding this wicked veil to your Shoulders chakra makes you slightly less cuddly than a rabid dire porcupine." Win.

2) Item-slot issue. Resolved.

3) Massive combo-potential requires plenty of foresight and solid math to prevent ridiculous abuse.



Number 3...oh, how I dreaded you. I had never before read a book by author Michael Sayre. Know what? This man knows his math. The vizier turned out to be a strong class, yes, but it is not overpowered - it requires continuous resource-management, is highly customizable and manages to maintain the gestalting capacities of the original system. Bonus-types are applied consistently. Options are cool, unique and fun. I did not expect to like this pdf to this extent.



The good news here is: Michael, you are talented indeed and I'm stoked for future installments of the series, though they are a colossal pain to review. The issues this pdf has can easily and quickly be fixed and boil down to wording, flow and making mechanics more explicit by establishing a slightly more concise terminology. For example, 24-hour-essence-storage = binding essence to; otherwise: investing essence into x. Simple, easy and once established and explained, prevents a lot of confusion and allows for easy streamlining of feats etc. and may actually save space regarding word count!



So yes, this pdf has some WiP-level rough patches. But its potential is GLORIOUS and exceedingly fun. The flexibility provided is glorious (and on par with PFRPG's versatility - no two viziers need to be alike!) and the veils are fitting and unique. Combo-potential galore rules. Were it not for the glitches and rough patches I complained about, this would be a no-brainer 5 star+ seal of approval file. The glitches would usually make me harp on this harder than I did here, probably for something around the 3.5 star-area. BUT: They can easily be fixed, mostly boil down to requiring slightly more precise wording and do not reflect badly on the system provided here. After using this and analyzing it, I can't, not for the life of me, bash this as something even remotely mediocre. It's not. This pdf is fun and I am stoked for future Akashic Mysteries and a cleaning of the glitches that still haunt this. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars, with an explicit recommendation for everyone who likes complex, customizable classes (and, of course, fans of incarnum!) to check this out.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Akashic Mysteries: Vizier
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Mythic Minis 30: Mythic Martial Arts VI
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/27/2015 13:57:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 2 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages content (double the usual!), let's go!



-Djinni Style: +1/2 mythic tier elemental fist uses and icnreased damage output with them. Bypass resistance, immunity and partially hardness etc. when using elemental fist or Djinni Style-feat attacks with mythic power.



-Djinni Spin: Increase damage output and temporarily penalize ranged attacks against you. Creatures of any size may be pushed away 5 feet (or staggered) and non-mythic creatures receive no benefits regarding this, even if they make the save. Nice.



-Djinni Spirit: Higher electricity resistance and enter the style reflexively. Similar movement-causing trick to Djinni Spin, plus clad yourself in a defensive electricity-damage causing sheathe that may also deafen adversaries.



-Efreeti Style: Like Djinni Style, but with regards to fire; Also use mythic power to temporarily increase reach by +5 feet.



-Efreeti Stance: More fire resistance and reflexive entering of the style; has a typo that confuses mythic tier with mythic power - you can expend mythic POWER to receive temporary immunity to fire. (Expending a tier would be a steep cost indeed!) Has a defensive sheathe like Djinni Spirit, just fire-themed and causing the target to catch on fire and potentially be dazzled.



-Efreeti Touch: Add mythic tier to damage and add a nausea-causing fog cloud to your Efreeti Touch. Awesome!



-Janni Style: No penalty to AC when charging, decrease atk-bonus of flanking creatures against you. Use mythic power to freely charge through allies and make as many turns as you want while charging. Now this is cool!



-Janni Rush: +mythic tier to acrobatics checks while executing Janni Rush. Expend mythic power for + 5 x tier to jump checks and when also charging, add mythic tier as a damage bonus that multiplies in crits. Pretty badass!



-Janni Tempest: Trips targets as a swift action, bull rushes them as a move action or executes a maneuver that works as both bull rush and trip as a standard action...which makes no sense. An attack is usually already at least a standard action, so in order to qualify here, one has to hit with an AoO in the round before one's turn. Problem 1: You can't expend the required actions when executing AoOs...so next turn? Problem 2: Do bonuses to one of the combat maneuvers (trip or bull rush) apply to the check? Do bonuses stack (e.g. bonus to trip + bonus to bull rush?); Using mythic power, you can execute one as a free action or the combined maneuver that doesn't work as a swift action. Cool idea, needs clarification.



-Marid Style: As Djinni Style for cold energy; Extend reach by 5 foot, for unarmed attacks only, via mythic power.



-Mardi Spirit: Defensive sheathe that entangles, add fatiguing hypothermia to elemental fist instead of movement; other than that, a cold-themed Djinni Spirit.



-Marid Coldsnap: Increased damage output and add grease-effect to the coldsnap. Creatures falling prone take cold damage and those remaining in the area also take damage. Creatures damaged become entangled. powerful and nasty - nice!



-Shaitan Style: Acid-themed version of the Djinni Style.



-Shaitan Skin: Acid-themed copy of the X Spirit-feat with chance for causing the sickened condition via the reflexive sheathe.



-Shaitan Earthblast: Increase damage output and turn the area into difficult terrain; Creatures that fail their save are knocked prone. Cool!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed minor glitches and a couple of the hyperlinks on the first page have a different font size, nothing too bad. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



I'm not a fan of elemental-themed class options unless they do something different for each element, rendering them more than reskins of the same ability. I've read too many elemental groups of abilities that boil down to "as the one with fire, but with acid" - and this pdf does suffer from this issue, at least partially. That being said, Jason Nelson does add some unique options to each of the styles and there *are* differences, even in the cloned abilities, which is neat indeed. I am honestly somewhat torn here and have probably spent too much time contemplating the final rating for such a short pdf - while the combined maneuver bonus-glitch is somewhat annoying, it is also part of the most interesting style-tree herein. The elemental-themed benefits are pretty similar, yes, but they also tend to bring something unique to the respective styles. In the end, I'm going to settle on a final verdict of a solid 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 30: Mythic Martial Arts VI
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Occult Options 1 — Binder Secrets
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2015 05:15:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Pact Magic clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Okay, in case you forgot - binder secrets require you to have an occultist level and can be taken in place of regular feats or bonus feats. This pdf provides 3 special types of binder secrets: Aspects, Alterations and Rituals.



Alterations secrets alter the mayor granted ability of a spirit and increase the number of rounds it is expended by 10, 8 if the binder has the rapid recovery feat. Only one aspect can be applied at a given time.



Aspect secrets modify the constellation or monstrous aspects with the secret's aspects. a binder can only benefit from a given aspect once, even if she makes multiple good pacts. She can, however, benefit from multiple different aspects secrets. It should be noted that high-level binders can learn new secrets herein to mitigate the restrictions imposed on these secrets.



Rituals take 10 minutes unless otherwise specified and require the execution of knowledge tasks as well as spirits.



All right, got that? Among the aspects, we receive the option to receive aligned strikes and benefit from the associated protection from... alignment's effects, reduced armor check penalties, healing (thankfully limited to 3+cha-mod times per day to avoid abuse), reroll skills or even gain wings at higher levels! Aforementioned healing can be upgraded by charismatic high-level binder to be usable as a means of raising the dead or to affect an area of targets, btw.



The alteration secrets tend to be more impressive, seeing how they interact with mayor abilities - they including clinging damage for acid and fire-based abilities, the option to exclude a creature type from the effects of mayor granted abilities as well as making mayor granted abilities disruptive. Replacing a mayor granted ability's damage type with elemental damage may be nice, but isn't that interesting to me - more exciting would be the option to delay the onset of a given ability - this can *really* change the dynamics of combat and open up some great tactical avenues - kudos! Electricity or fire damage may be supplemented by a dazzle-effect and yes, the obvious choices à la enlarge etc. are part of the deal as well. Maximizing damage against the favored enemy of a given spirit may be a bit hardcore. Also interesting would be the ability to maintain precarious concentration on an ability before unleashing it upon foes, increasing the save DC. Forcing rerolls is also possible and if you can think of one of the regular metamagical enhancements, it probably has a representation here.



Rituals include some of the stars herein -what about a ritual that allows you to take a creature's soul and put it into a receptacle, forcing it to do your bidding? Yes, this does come with great limits and yes, this is narrative gold for use by both PCs and NPCs. Not all secrets are this cool though - a ritual for a magic circle? Really? Thematically fitting, yeah, but a wasted secret-slot. Some feats granting spell-like abilities to e.g. detect pact spirits or using a constellation's 1st level patron spell 2/day as a spell-like ability just didn't wow me. Wildering in the samurai's class features, granting resolve, is more interesting - especially since the follow-up secrets provide some interesting, varied combo-potential - here, the pdf shines. Scaling summon monster as a spell-like ability didn't wow me either, but I can see the reasoning behind it. More interesting would be the option to prevent physical contact by creatures of the chosen alignment.



Pretty brilliant is the secret that allows you to choose one spirit and enter a trance to temporarily gain access to the ability traded for the vestigial companion of the spirit. Unbarring class features barred by tunneled lore also makes for a nice benefit. Speaking of interesting - temporarily marking foes as favored enemies of ALL of one's spirits also makes for a pretty neat ability - though one, which, in spite of its cap, can be pretty nasty. Remember this max-damage-versus-favored-enemies secret? Have I mentioned that marking an adversary doesn't seem to require an action, nor does it allow for a save? Yeah. Ouch. Of course, pretty regular benefits like +3/day minor granted abilities can be found herein as well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming's 2-column full-color standard and can be considered pretty printer-friendly. The pdf has nigh no artwork, but needs none at this length. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked.



Alexander Augunas is pretty much Mr. Pact Magic for PFRPG and, much like Dreamscarred Press' take on psionics, he is right as the pulse of his subsystem of magic. That being said, I do consider this pdf slightly less than it could have been. The secret-types help provide distinct benefits and the complexity of the wording required for them goes beyond what one would usually have to execute with feats and similar pieces of crunch. It is my pleasure to report that the wording of these abilities flows well - a requirement for this complexity. For yes, this took a lot more time than one would assume to reviews, mainly due to the significant amount of looking up of abilities and their finer interactions I needed to do.



That, and occultists have quite a few abilities with a cooldown - tweaking these can have pretty massive repercussions. Balancing especially the metamagic-like secrets is pretty hardcore and yes, this pdf does have some "OMG, how great is that?"-feats that can truly change the flow of battle. That being said, the pdf also sports a couple of feats I'd consider filler and the favored enemy + max damage combination is pretty nasty and could use some nerfing - guaranteed max damage, even with a 10-round cooldown just doesn't gel with me and enforces an unnecessary frontloadedness of the binder. One final note - this pdf takes the binder and makes the class, balance-wise, more like a caster. Which isn't bad, but it's a change of focus you should be aware of in case you're playing a low power/magic campaign. So how to rate this? Well, i consider this pdf to be a good addition to the Pact Magic-rules, but not one I can unanimously recommend. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Occult Options 1 — Binder Secrets
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Relic Files: Treasures of Camelot II
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/24/2015 05:07:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page SRD, 1 page introduction on the first page, leaving us with two pages for the relic, so let's take a look!



So what are relics? well, relics were introduced in the Genius Guides to Relics of the Godlings I + II and they essentially are Rogue Genius Games' take on magic items that increase in power with your character - and if you know anything about my stance on that topic, then you won't be surprised by me really liking this take. Now unlike Rite Publishing's Legacy Items and Purple Duck Games' Legendary Items, most Relics are inspired by real life mythology, for better or for worse, and increase in power every level.



Speaking of real life mythology - we begin with a concise explanation of what this item actually is, which should prove enlightening to those not as thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the Arthurian myth and its variations. Much like its predecessor item, the blade has, if required, a CL equal to the blade's wielder's character level. At 1st level, Caladbolg is considered magical for purposes of overcoming DR and grants scaling bonuses to diplomacy alongside scaling electricity resistance. The blade also becomes a+3 shocking burst elven curved blade and grants bonuses to Dex and Cha that scale up to +6 at 20th level. Finally, the blade allows you to call forth lightning storms a limited amount of times per day.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches, though e.g. once the weapon special abilities have not been properly italicized. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with a neat full-color artwork of the relic. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Author Andrew Marlowe provides a version of Caldbolg that is, quite frankly, as much loathe as I am to say it, nothing special. Standard enchantment progression, a spell-in-a-can thrown in and some attribute bonuses may make for a suitable, powerful weapon, yes. But nothing I couldn't have made myself and imho not worthy of the cool legend. There's nothing wrong here, but tomorrow, I'll probably have forgotten this relic. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Relic Files: Treasures of Camelot II
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Rappan Athuk 2014 Expansions Pathfinder
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2015 09:52:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book of expansion-levels for Rappan Athuk clocks in at 165 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page back cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 159 pages of content, so let's take a look...



...but before, let me say one thing - this review is my Razor Coast. This review crashed and burned (!!!) times, with all data gone; Once on my laptop, once due to my mobile HD being stolen and once due to my desktop PC's HD crashing. I've literally written this review 3 times, only to have it crash before I had the chance to back it up. So let's get this posted before my desktop PC dies...again.



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



Great!



So, after a brief introduction we receive the first of 4 new wilderness areas, Castle Calaelen. Situated west of Zelkor's Ferry and north of the mouth of doom, this locale makes for a good starting adventure in case your players are not hardcore enough for the dangers that lurk below the surface - the base of operations for a few goblins and their gnoll mercenaries. The castle itself sports relatively meager defenses and breathes a sense of a world that has turned onwards, that has left its heyday behind - with grim traps like trapped goblin tea parties, an infernal raven and finally the option to save an innocent gentleman (of half-orc stock), the level did remind me of the starting modules of old and is probably as close as Frog God Games gets to providing an easy introductory module. Bits and pieces that can turn nasty are here, but overall, the castle probably is the easiest thing to have been released under the Lost Land-banner. And generally, I wouldn't complain here - it's a nice place. When compared to the challenge that Crucible of Freya (nowadays collected in the Stoneheart Valley-anthology) posed, the attention to detail with light sources, shifts etc., I can't help but feel that this castle is meant to ease new players into the feel and playstyle. What I'm trying to say is - don't expect this chapter to challenge your players too much.



The second new wilderness area would be Hell's Hamlet - and scarcely has a moniker been so fitting. The town of Mitchrod is firmly in the hands of the forces infernal, with multiple examples of devils existing among the predominantly hobgoblin populace. Now here's the catch - no one like apocalyptic demon cults, not even the devils. Hence, this village may be tackled in two ways - on the one hand, your players could well opt to scourge the opposition, rooting this taint from the land. On the other hand, less scrupulous characters may well opt to throw in their lot with the village - after all, legendary Demonbane was wrought in the smithies of hell... Personally, I consider non-hostile interaction to be the more rewarding option here, mainly because this city and its inhabitants and guardians are unique in all the right ways - from the delightfully odd tin-man guardian golem to the kyton that may very well resurrect your allies to hallucinogenic mushrooms, there is a lot cool stuff to discovered - and in the vast depths of Rappan Athuk, there are plainly enough creatures for your PCs to jab their pointy sticks into...a bit of social roleplaying won't hurt them, especially if sprinkled with a healthy anxiety at the practices of their...hosts?



The third "encounter" is perhaps the oddest herein -assuming the PCs venture towards Rappan Athuk by sea, their vessel is attacked and they, by some means or another, are deployed into pirate captivity, only to be able to escape their bounds and into the wilderness. This may sound some alarm bells - and indeed, as the introduction acknowledges, this section may well seem contrived and forced if not handled properly. However, the good thing here would be that the main meat of this section is NOT about the somewhat railroady event, which imho can be potentially skipped, but rather about the survival action in the middle of a vast forest - from odd food to a variety of disturbing daemonic entities with unique tricks, guided by a malevolent will, the PCs will have quite a lot of exploration to do to toughen them up before they can return to the "safety" of civilization. That being said, while I do really, really like this survival aspect, the encounters, scavenging tables etc., I have to admit that I consider the tie-in to Rappan Athuk, both in theme and execution, to be almost non-existent. My advice is to run this as a stand-alone - it probably works better than beating PCs expecting a dungeon-campaign over the head with such a module. It's a good module, though not a perfect one and the glaring tactical errors the evil entity executes, while explained and rationalized by the author, might come off as DM-fiat to some players - experienced DMs can pull this off and make it very memorable and awesome, though.



The 4th wilderness encounter/following dungeon levels would be the Tunnels of Terror, situated in a ruined keep and guarded by bandits - and believe me when I say, these levels are on par with what one would expect from Rappan Athuk - the first level's map spans three whole pages. On its own. Level 2C and 3D would be the extensions of this massive dungeon. (Well...massive in relative terms when compared to other FGG-dungeons, but you get what I mean...) If you want to mince no words, make no false pretensions of Rappan Athuk being anything but deadly - well, here we'd have a neat example why a dungeon like this ought to be feared. Stone Ropers at CR 6, level 7 priests (yes, the channel energy WILL kill the party if they are not VERY careful...), death traps - while not as nasty as big ole' RA itself and terrain-wise, relatively conventional, this place is a challenge. On the downside, at least in my opinion, it does not add that much to the overall myth of Rappan Athuk. Hidden very powerful demons? Tsathar, bandits? Yep - you know the drill and unlike other examples of the Tsathar being their awesome, froggy selves, they may be the lesser of the evils in this case...which somewhat detracts from and diminishes their antediluvian demon-god/great-old-one crossover flair...but that may be me just being a fanboy for them. The tie-in regarding actually working for them may make for a hideous twist of fate near the end-game...after all, FGG has a module called "Against Tsathogga..."



Level 2C, as mentioned, contains the second level of the tunnels, and is not smaller - the temple of Tsathogga, blind albino frogs, magic mirrors - a nice example of an evil temple underground, though honestly, I considered the temple to be somewhat disappointing regarding terrain - some more unique hazards, flooded passages, unique traps etc. would have helped setting this temple further apart from all the Orcus-temples in main RA: The level also contains the Rainbow Vault and its riddles - pity that a tie-in/synergy with the Hall of the Rainbow Mage has been omitted here. One note - while I do love the puzzles on this level, I'm not a fan of ROYGBIV being a part of a puzzle's solution - that's mostly meta-gaming convention and knowledge and furthermore makes me flash back to Sam & Max Season 1. (The game, not the animated series..) Note that this is me being nitpicky, though - after all, there are the prismatic spells.... Speaking of puzzles - the final section of this level sports multiple statues that can be turned. to turn them, though, certain pillars have to be unlocked and rotated, but there also are pillars that activate traps - THANKFULLY, a massive sidebox explains this puzzle. As much as love complex puzzles like this, I do not advocate the way it is presented - it's a matter of taste, but I'm not a fan of Myst-style puzzles where you have a complex mechanism and then essentially guess what you're supposed to be doing. While not absolutely required to progress in the overall scheme of things, a general, cryptic clue, a visual abstraction of the level, which then can be identified by the players if their mapping-skills are up to par - some clue where and how to tackle this one would have been appreciated by quite a lot of players. Now don't get me wrong - in my book, we need challenges like this more often...but some hints to prevent trial and error would be more than welcome.



The final level of the tunnels contains another temple of Orcus (One more? So what does this one do if you deactivate it?), which generally feels a bit out of place. Oh well, at least the opposition, making ample use of Tome of Horrors 4, is pretty unique and the option to save a djinn is nice as well. Also a pity - this place is supposed to be created by an advance force from Tsar - so where's the optional tie-in to that place? Lost chance here. And yes, I'm complaining at a high level here, I'm aware of that. Now the second section of this dungeon-level is once again up to grisly lethality - golems, vampires, uncommon undead - all you'd expect from Rappan Athuk, yet still in a fresh guise. Nice!



Level 6B would present the PCs with perhaps the most lethal of adversaries possible - adventurers. undead ones at that. In their home-turf, with plenty of servants. And unique puzzle-creatures that are smart...and a nice nod towards Silent Hill 4's ghosts. Have I mentioned the friendly undead dragon wishing to chomp on your PCs? GLORIOUS.



We close this pdf with various encounters/NPCs to be inserted at your whim into your game, as well as an appendix that depicts the Disciple of Orcus PrC and the new monsters.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, with plenty of neat cartography and high-quality original artworks, though there are no player-friendly versions of the maps, which constitutes a detriment in my book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. Inexplicably, an index listing at one convenient glance the danger levels and exits/entries of the respective individual levels has been omitted - a pity, since RA already requires a lot of book-keeping on the DM's side and help like that would have been appreciated.



Bill Webb, Alex Clatworthy, James Redmon and Skeeter Green have woven more Rappan Athuk...but can it hold up to the original? Yes...and no. On the one hand, this tome is an example of excellent old-school adventure-craft - each and every piece of content breathes the spirit of what is great and awesome about old-school modules. On the other hand, though, the different voices show. I've been struggling quite a while with myself for this one. Why? Because I am honestly not sure whether it's just me. It might be very much possible that I'm burned out on Orcus-priests and their undead minions after Slumbering TSar and Rappa Athuk. On bandits occupying a ruined fortress as well. I can't be sure. It does feel like, at least partially and at least to me, though, as if I've seen some of the tricks herein done better before....in Rappan Athuk. Does every level herein have some part of that old-school magic? Yes! How could one NOT like gold-pooping, purring, fungus-shaped dwarf-affine pets that pose as rocks to avoid detection by certain races? How could one not like actual riddles that challenge one's mind beyond just rolling dice? This compilation offers quite a few examples of what is awesome about old-school adventuring.



To give you an example, the wilderness-survival module, in spite of its problematic beginning, is modular enough, with all its cool daemonic critters, to incite one's imagination. The puzzles are glorious, if not always perfect in their hint-distribution. Evil undead adventurers groups? Heck yeah! On the other hand, getting YET ANOTHER shrine of Orcus (sans bearing on the metaplot), getting a Tsathar domain that simply isn't as alien or partially, as interesting, as it could be...feel disappointing on a very high level. This expansion is best in the cases it truly enhances Rappan Athuk - by providing social encounters, a whole hamlet to interact with, by its distinct challenges. Alas, not all of this expansion is devoted to that - there are examples I'd consider derivative of the main module. This may be intentional. Perhaps it's just me after reading and purchasing 3 iterations of the dungeon + Slumbering Tsar...but it takes more to wow me than a couple of named NPCs, acolytes, undead and demons on a level devoted to Orcus to blow me away. Is it thematically coherent when it happens? Yes. Is it stellar? Alas, no.



Heart of the Razor - while not perfect, provided thematic, culturally relevant expansions to the main book. This one does so as well...in a couple of cases. In others, it fails to deliver them. In the superb wilderness module, for example, some kind of permanent boon would have most definitely been appropriate. Is this worth being purchased for Rappan Athuk? Yes. As a stand-alone? Yes. Is it required or perfect? No. This is a fun book, a good book, but falls short of the level of quality delivered in the new levels of PFRPG's iteration of RA - the level of awesomeness of a certain level with planar awesomeness as an organic, fitting change of pace, is absent from the book.



I really like components of this book, ESPECIALLY the fact that it demands that your players use their brains. But it also has some components that left me underwhelmed at a very high level. In a context that was not Frog God Games, I'd probably be singing praises on how this module is almost on par with Frog God Games' mastery of old-school modules. So what's my final verdict? Honestly, I've been somewhat underwhelmed by a couple of levels, but at the same time, I've really, really liked several ideas herein - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - a good compilation to have, but not a must-have.

Endzitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rappan Athuk 2014 Expansions Pathfinder
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Mythic Magic: Campaign Setting Spells
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2015 06:56:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of hyperlinked ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 41 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, what does this book cover? well, obviously not spells from one big hardcover, but instead spells found in: Animal Archive, Demon Hunter & Dragon Slayer Handbook, Distant Worlds, Faction Guide, Inner Sea Gods, Inner Sea Magic, Inner Sea World Guide, Mythic origins, People of the Sand (& stars) and the rival guide as well as the osirion sourcebook. (The new one, not the 3.X Player's sourcebook).



Now I can't cover every spell herein without bloating the book. So I'll give you a selection. Additionally, I should mention that I do not endorse all spells mythified - indeed, I do consider some of the books from which the base-material for the mythic spells herein not particularly well-balanced. This will have no impact whatsoever on my analysis of the mythic spells herein - I am taking them completely on their own ground. To help orientation regarding source, concise superscript abbreviations help the reader's orientation. As always, if you do not have the books this is based on - fret not, for the spells herein tend to show up on the respective SRDs and sites like the useful archives of nethys. Got all of that? All right, then let's dive in!



The anti-summoning shield, for example, can have its summon-failure chance enhanced by 5% x mythic tier and, as an augment, be cast as an immediate action. Rolling craft twice per day when utilizing arcane reinforcements also can be considered a nice trick up one's sleeve - crafting two items at once can be pretty powerful, especially when used for magical items. Of course, plenty of spells deliver solidly scaling numerical escalations based on mythic tier and mythic power, but that is a given at this point in the series. More interesting, at least to me, would be enhancements like Baphomet's blessing now also granting the powerful charge ability and immunity to maze-spells.



When a mythic version of a monster or spell manages to actually render a base version more flavorful, more exciting by expanding the very concept of the base version into something more unique - that is when mythic rules shine in my book. From a rules-perspective pretty impressive would be Blade Snare -with increased benefits, interactions with non mythic creatures and weapons etc., the base version is beautiful. While the nitpicky guy in me wants to complain about a missing minus-sign in the augment-section of the spell, the option to maintain the snared weapon and even snare 1/2 mythic tier weapons at once for 2 mythic power makes for a pretty damn neat option.



Terrain-control via Brittle Portal, instant mythic mummification via canopic conversion and curse based control as an augment to the creation of such mummies make for rather iconic options that can be used for narrative purposes as well - not only do mummies freed from such a control gain free will back, they also receive a rather nasty buff. Can I hear mummy-revenant crossovers approaching? Yes, I can.

Channel vigor's flexibility is also pretty nice, with unique effects depending on the limbs into which you channel the effect. Other modifications are small, but still flavorful - adding blightburn sickness to cosmic rays? Heck yes! Discharging dazzling flashes to blind adversaries would also be a rather neat option. Diverse additional options, both in the regular mythic spell's text and the augment option of deadeye's arrow also provide some neat bonuses and added condition-penalties. While everyone who regularly follows my reviews knows that I'm not a big fan of detect spells, at least detect demons receives a pretty unique augment that turn demonic auras clearly visible, helping against foes shrouded in deceptive magic et al.



The defensive excellent enclosure is also pretty interesting in its concise interaction with other spells - the various effects of mythic geniekind also fit thematically seamlessly and organically within the context of the base spell while increasing its potency by means of added spell-like abilities depending on the geniekind chosen. The increased incremental control of fractions of heal and harm also can be considered a pretty cool way of tackling the base spell's concept and making it more flexible. Now this is a very personal preference, but the augment to make the mythic ghoul pack summoned by the spell of the same name subject to haste fit thematically very well within the frame of my own conceptualization of ghouls.



The low gravity options added to the cool gravity sphere should also be mentioned. Now personally, I consider the temporary dexterity penalties imposed by the mythic gravity well slightly less interesting than the concept deserves, but that may just be me really liking. Now perhaps it's due to my favorite in-game card-game being Tarokka or due to the superb "Harrowing" module by Crystal Frasier, but the spell never clicked with me and the relatively conservative card-discarding/numerical escalation of the mythic variant, alas did not change that. Now where things turn interesting once again would be with imbue with flight - the option to utilize mythic power to make objects of huge, gargantuan and colossal size to fly, including the option of sharing the mythic power required, ritual-style, between characters. It's a small thing, but a glorious one that resonates well with quite a bunch of cool fantasy tropes.



Interplanetary teleport now does feature several benefits for its augmented version, helping you survive in less than hospitable environments. Orchid's Drop now allows for the free allocation between regular and ability score healing - pretty sweet. Speaking of pretty sweet changes - shared sacrifice not only has its casting time decreased, it also does not end with the target moving outside of the area of effect, instead being suppressed to kick in once the target is in range again. Siphon spell also receives a nice upgrade that lets you roll twice on dispel checks and continues until you have siphoned a minimum amount of spell levels, with the high-level augment allowing you to ignore the cap at the significant investiture of mythic power - cool! Spawn Calling is also rather epic - why not call the tarrasque or another spawn of Rovagug instead of the Star-spawn? Summon the tarrasque. Yeah. Awesome. In a nice bit of synergy, summon accuser ties in with Mythic Monsters: Devils, but also provides a nice alternative. Sustaining Legend feels a bit strong, with healing and condition negation/decrease added to targets using mythic power in any shape way or form, but that may be me.



More deadly teleport trap may be nice, but transfer tattoo is imho more interesting - you can essentially store an inoperable tattoo with this for some time - can you see the narrative potential? "Your task is to bring the tattoo of power to the missing grand master..." Face theft via transplant visage has also not been this nice for a long time... Well, that came out wrong...



Vision of the Beast Mother's mythic version makes followers of Lamashtu much more fearful...why, you ask? Well, what about sending other spells along with the nightmare? Yep, really, really nasty and once again sporting quite an array of cool story-telling options.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though quite a few minor typos and various superscripts that have not been superscripted slightly mar an otherwise well-edited book. The pdf adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and sports numerous gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though oddly, once again, we have additional out of order bookmarks in the beginning, this time duplications of two spell-bookmarks. Since this does not impede functionality in any way, I will not hold that against the pdf.



Okay, after having reviewed 6 Mythic Magic-pdfs by now, I can somewhat fathom how Jason Nelson must have felt: While design is fun, doing so many mythic spells might also be considered one thing: exhausting. This must have been serious *work* - that being said, I can see another thing about this pdf: In spite of the vast amount of mythic spells before these, there still are simply unique tricks herein. A lot of them, actually. More so than I expected to find herein.

While one can see that, unlike in the great mythic magic installment for the APG, this is the work of one designer, the job Legendary Games' chief has done is not only thorough, it is more varied and interesting than one would expect. When it would have been easy to just phone in augments to spells like detect demons or duplicate and recolor spells à la "works like this, but with acid"; when formulaic numerical escalations would have been the easier route, this instead goes the extra mile by providing unique little tidbits to enhance the flavor of the spells. Not all are winners, but in the face of this many spells, that should be no surprise; the quote of cool and imaginative spells is definitely much higher than I anticipated, though, and thus, this can be considered a superb offering. While slightly below the superb APG-installment, this still is one of the best of the all-but-required mythic magic-pdfs; my review will hence clock in at a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the small glitches here and there.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Campaign Setting Spells
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Relic Files: Treasures of Camelot I
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2015 06:53:41
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page SRD, 1 page introduction on the first page, leaving us with two pages for the relic, so let's take a look!



So what are relics? well, relics were introduced in the Genius Guides to Relics of the Godlings I + II and they essentially are Rogue Genius Games' take on magic items that increase in power with your character - and if you know anything about my stance on that topic, then you won't be surprised by me really liking this take. Now unlike Rite Publishing's Legacy Items and Purple Duck Games' Legendary Items, most Relics are inspired by real life mythology, for better or for worse, and increase in power every level.



Got that? Great, so what does the scabbard do? Well, first of all, the wielder becomes more adept at healing as well as the option to bind a sword to the scabbard, thus increasing its potency over the levels - by e.g. increasing its hardness and hp, temporarily applying the keen property etc. What about repairing the weapon? At what CL? At the wielders' character level. The same holds true for the limited healing capacities the wielder receives over the levels. Bonuses to constitution can also be found herein alongside increasing fortification effects. What slot does a scabbard use? belt, of course.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches, though e.g. a sentence lacks a verb. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with a neat full-color artwork of the relic. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Author Andrew Marlowe delivers an uncommon relic - magical scabbards are a thoroughly neglected item-class and I *really* like what he has done here. On their own, the abilities may not be too impressive, but combined, they gel well. I really enjoyed this item and while it did not completely blow me away, its fair price-point and nice design make me settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Relic Files: Treasures of Camelot I
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Subterranean Enclave: Fanghome
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2015 04:37:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



Situated at the edge of the subterranean jungles of twilight flora and fungi, erected atop the last remnants of a civilization long perished and amidst the bones of ancient beasts, the troglodyte enclave of Fanghome makes for an uncommon place to visit - and probably, the reason to visit these disgustingly smelly lizards would probably be their trade in the enigmatic Zji Zji berries - sought after by drow fleshcasters and strange other traditions of the underworld.



Beyond racially-distinct places like spawning pools and the enigmatic Orb of Sithrak that hosts the eco-system, the uncommon race, location and emphasis on trade make for interesting takes. Additionally, lore sections, rumors, events etc. add further hooks to the village's uniqueness of this place, even before delving into the potential for inner-tribal intrigue; And what about the chief's hut, the skull of this ancient beast? A vast array of options and iconic imagery can be found in this settlement's presentation, even before the fully statted fighter 4/cleric 3 included in the deal.



Conclusion:

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



Brian Wiborg Mønster delivers in this little pdf chock-full of brilliant hooks: From a wholly iconic place, to a unique economy and the smart consideration for the needs of an inhuman race, this place is a great enclave to visit, breathing the spirit of early pulp in all the right ways - hinting, inspiring, without prescribing, all while delivering just enough to make this an astounding read. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Enclave: Fanghome
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The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/22/2015 04:31:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right!

With a massive bounty on their heads, courtesy of the Trypus Acadamae, the PCs hopefully have managed to flee the city once again towards their refugee camp, where blood senator Vulgrax may actually prove helpful with the help of the information the PCs have uncovered - the PCs are presented with a blade with weird etchings that may prove to be from the hold the Malchort Cabal operates from/seeks to control - the fabled Panopticon. (And yes, if this does not feature an omni-scrying device, I will be very much disappointed for using cool terminology and then failing to deliver.)



Now via the lost tunnels in the Vulgrax's old holdings, the PCs may penetrate the fortress of the Malchort -however, they will have to succeed in elementally-themed challenges - from freezing cold subterranean lakes with sea serpents, magma lakes etc. - the challenges per se are simply awesome and at this point, I've seen *A LOT* elemental shenanigans: They actually require brains as well as brawns to solve and e.g. challenge the player's logic with an AWESOME poem/light-based puzzle. Better yet, the problematic map-glitch that rendered one puzzle unwinnable has been fixed - kudos!

Finally bypassing a crystal dragon and dread undead guardians, the PCs can penetrate the panopticon through the Darkgate...where the final chapter of The Sinking awaits!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - since the map-glitch has been resolved, no particularly crucial mistakes remain.. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Author John Ling cares about this module and one can see why. He has delivered an array of solid challenges, which, while in theme being of the "been there, done that" type, in execution, panache and flair more than make up for the classic theme. I love it if players need to use their brains as well. The elemental challenges herein proved to be surprisingly neat and this module with its low price point and now fixed maps may not stand as the best in the series, but it is definitely a good module. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
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A23: Twin Crossings
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:25:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 42 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



All right, still here? This module kicks off in a small town in the Klavekian kingdom and for once, the PCs attend festivities that are NOT crashed by some threat or another - instead, the PCs actually get to party! Whether they party conservatively or like there's no tomorrow - first, minor consequences of the things to come already announce themselves during the information gathering and, on the next day, hangover may have settled in both literally and metaphorically: A shipment of goods to an isolated enclave of the Klavek kingdom was lost to sea monsters and thus, the two most prominent merchants try to hire the PCs to deliver a shipment of necessary goods on the land way. Thankfully, the module does tackle this concept in a rather unique manner: The other merchant hires a rival adventuring group and from here on out, decisions, consequences and speed are key: Via a handy flow-chart for the DM and a speed point mechanic as well as decisions galore, the players may opt to choose their own pace and face the consequences of their decisions - beginning with the very starting contracts legalese potentially cheating them of their hard-earned rewards if they are not on their toes!



Instead of utilizing the somewhat flawed caravan-rules, the module instead opts for a different route - the decisions made award and penalize their consequences with speed points, which can be used to determine how they fare. Unlike 4 Dollar Dungeon's superb "Journey to Cathreay", the focus here is thus less on a journey and more on an overland race against rivals. And the decisions, like in all good chases, have consequences - sabotaging a ferry, for example, may incur the ferryman's wrath upon the trip home, to save or not to save a halfling druid in distress may also change the course slightly...and did your players pack detailed maps? Otherwise navigating the passes might be more challenging than just facing down the lethal cyclops in wait. It should be noted here that the combat encounters sport AaW Games traditionally superb maps!



Beyond rivals (and potential for using free web-enhancements), the journey also requires that the PCs navigate a landslide by crossing through a salt mine, where the very air might dehydrate the PCs and beyond dangerous boars and the like, the PCs have to salvage goods from teh grounded vessel ina rather nice mini-game.



Upon finally arriving in Cherr's Landing, things become interesting - the speed point tally is revealed to the PCs and they may spend them to accomplish specific tasks; unspent speed points total into the final success conditions and yes, a second flow-chart makes running this section of the module just as easy as the one before. In the city, once again, decisions abound - which caravan to employ, for return goods, for example - mules? Light horses? Quite a few choices to be made, all with consequences. Better yet, the partying in the beginning? Well, PCs have to sell goods and acquire new goods and return to their home - preferably before their competition does! Beyond dangerous individuals trying to sabotage them and the dangers of the road...well, have I mentioned that the PCs may trail-blaze through a very mountain with magical tunnel bores, provided they found them?



The module also provides e.g. the salt worms as fully depicted monsters, 5 player-friendly maps of combat-relevant encounters (in AAW Games' superb quality), a couple of cool magic items and 2 pages of chase cards to facilitate the running of the chase in the beginning of the module.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original color artwork is neat and the cartography stellar.



Michael Allen delivers one of the best modules I've read all year here. Among so many modules focusing on killing y, exploring ruin x, etc., this module is a HUGE breath of fresh air; It's focus on time and consequences as opposed to "Kill 'em all" is more than refreshing - it is inspired. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that this module is INNOVATIVE. It utilizes chases, combat and commerce in a way that elicits more excitement than one would assume from such a module; Indeed, while the rivals make for a neat opposition, it is neither them, nor the journey that are the focus of attention here: Instead, this module breathes the spirit of Jules Vernes in its fast pace, its consequences and the emphasis on creating a believable world. This module is beyond just a fresh breeze - it is a storm. Yes, it is a humble module; yes, it does not center on a BBEG trying to destroy the world - and it is infinitely better off for it. If you were rather bored by the bureaucracy of Jade Regent's caravan rules, I implore you to get this. I had the utmost joy running this module, so did my players, and its distinct focus, its concise mechanics, the ease with which one can run it due to the immensely helpful flowcharts - all of these conspire to make this one a true gem in my book. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and nominating this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014. Even among the best AAW modules, this one stands out and shines and represents all the virtues of the company.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A23: Twin Crossings
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Mythic Minis 29: Feats of Wrestling
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:21:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



-Body Shield: Increased cover bonus by mythic tier and use mythic power to use body shield with multiple attacks per round.



-Bonebreaker: Add crippling citical-effect to the feat and cause fatigue versus non-mythic adversaries.



-Chokehold: Has a nasty typo - it should eliminate the penalty for use against larger opponents, not eliminate a non-existing penalty versus smaller opponents. Also add lethal damage to pinned foes.



-Felling Escape: Add mythic tier to escape attempt, plus reroll if you use mythic power. Additionally, add trip attempt as either free or swift action, latter with mythic rank or tier to bonus.



-Gang Up: Extend expertise bonus to allies threatening the same target and help 1/2 mythic tier allies with one aid another. Additionally, receive a bonus to CMB if multiple allies threaten an enemy.



-Jawbreaker: Treat damaged mouth as having the broken condition, can use ki and mythic power instead of stunning fist. Pretty awesome!



-Neckbreaker: Makes penalty optional, taking it adds damage-boost and mythic pwoer temporarily paralyzes the target. Can use mythic power and ki instead of stunning fist uses. Again, pretty awesome!

-Pinning Rend: 1d4 Str, Dex or Con damage onn pinned foes...OUCH!



-Under and Over: Use the feat reflexively if an opponent fails to grapple an ally while being threatened. Additionally, add entangled condition temporarily to target subjected to feat. neat!

Conclusion:

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



This one caught me by surprise - I expected this to be boring and it wasn't - the effects provided by Jason Nelson and Tork Shaw are diverse, the -breaker-feats are cool and the tactical options this provides are neat. That being said, the Chokehold-glitch is pretty nasty and weighs heavily in a pdf of this brevity. hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 29: Feats of Wrestling
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Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:17:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 8 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



The arcane trickster in its base class guise receives d8, 4+Int skills per level (OUCH), proficiency with simple weapons + hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword, but not with any armor (which interferes with casting) as well as prepared spellcasting from the wiz/sorc-list of up to 6th level.The class has 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Spellcasting begins at first level with only 3 cantrips + 1 1st level spell and both scribe scroll and trapfinding are relegated to 2nd level. The signature ranged legerdemain is granted at 1st level, though - thankfully!



At 3rd level, evasion and sneak attack are gained, with the latter scaling up by +1d6 every 2 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +9d6. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the arcane trickster receives a rogue talent, with a list of thematically appropriate talents being provided - this list also constituting a potential way for DMs to balance the class versus the base rogue - just limit the class to the talents provided. Now what's pretty odd - arcane bond is gained at 6th level - which isn't weird balance-wise, but the additional imposed requirement to make concentration-checks to cast sans the object makes no sense in this case as opposed to regular casters gaining it at 1st level - so far the arcane trickster could cast without it, so where's the dependency coming from? See, that's one issue with re-appropriating such components and one that imho should be addressed.



Tricky Spells (free silent and still spell) is learned at 6th level 1/day, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Impromptu Sneak Attack is gained at 10th level, 2/day at 14th level. On a nitpicky side, the ability works with ranged attacks and thus circumvents the usual range-restriction for sneak attack.



At 14th level, surprise spells are gained, with sneak attack of the spell's damage type being added - the original's potential ambiguity regarding the use of magic missile etc. unfortunately remaining. To spare you the research - it's only added to one target of AoE-spells, one magic missile, etc. - no spamming of sneak attack. And then there's the potential confusing with spells that can have a crit modifier greater than x2 - while there aren't many, they exist - so sneak attack bonus damage x2 or x3?



At 16th level, advanced talents enter the fray - now so far, I've kept quiet about talents and they do represent an interesting selection from both Paizo-core and 3pps, including the advanced talent option to temporarily render a sneaked target incapable of executing AoOs. Per se, a cool array, including less costs for trapsmithing hide in plain sight and dispelling attacks. At 18th level, the arcane trickster can become greater invisible as a free action as a spell-like ability for class level rounds/day.



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



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



Carl Cramér's arcane trickster can be considered one of those prestige archetypes that immensely benefit from being changed to 20-level-classes - let's face it, making the arcane trickster a PrC was always a sucky move, forcing the player to play two totally disparate classes before finally getting to do what s/he wanted in the first place. So yeah, I *really* want to love this prestige archetype - it's generally pretty well-crafted, but it does have some rough edges - like the lack of a capstone. The weird arcane object-design choice or the impromptu sneak attack-range glitch, the lack of streamlined wording for surprise spells...all of these conspire to drag down what generally is a great class - and usually, I'd go 3 stars. BUT, this is the arcane trickster I always wanted - pretty strong and capable, perhaps too much so in certain campaigns. I'd certainly advise DMs allowing this one to restrict its talent-selection vs. rogues in order to maintain some reason for the latter to exist. That being said, I do consider this a pretty good, if not perfect take on the arcane trickster, well worth a final rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
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Islands of Plunder: Tarin's Crown
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:39:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, this installment of the "Islands of Plunder"-series is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/how to use, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Wait, before we go into the details - what is this series about? Well, essentially, the Islands of Plunder-sub-series is a part of expansions intended for the Skull & Shackles AP, providing sidetreks etc. on an island per island base - they can essentially be considered island-focused mini-adventures that work just as well within the context of a Freeport campaign, Razor Coast or Savage Tide - if it's remotely pirate/island-themed, these will work - and probably beyond that, but that I'll take a look at on a case by case basis.



In this case, should you wish to plug this into the AP, situate it between adventure #2 and #3; Its intended PC level of 6 makes it predisposed for early use in RC. It should be noted that the module contains handy scaling suggestions to make the module appropriate for levels 5 and 7.



Hence, since this is an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players are strongly advised to jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right! The deadly island once known as "the Crown" has been developed into the base of the dread pirate Red Skewer Tarin - this notorious pirate seems to have stolen the notorious Pirates Queen's Pearl. Worse the man has obviously refused to face up to his deeds and even an embargo of the island has so far yielded no results - the man refuses to leave his siege weapon-equipped tower. His paranoia evident, he has even exiled his first mate and a bunch of his erstwhile crew, so infiltrating his hide-out will not be easy - whether by combat or parley with Tarin's erstwhile subordinates, it's up to the PCs on how they want to handle navigating into the sheltered bay and reach the tower without being pelted to death by the catapults. On the nitpicky side - the man in charge of the catapults has no Knowledge (engineering) or Siege Engineer-feat, which means the targeting check is off - BAB +4, Int-mod +3,+6 for firing at the same spots, -4 for not being proficient with the weapon; which would mean +9, not +8, without range-increment penalties. I may be missing something, but yeah. That being said, this does not impede the functionality of the module and probably is just me noticing a minor flaw.

If the first response of the PCs was to enter the jungle and trek through this green hell, good luck - deadly plant predators roam the jungles - vegepygmies, assassin vines and dangerous mold all prosper on the island. Worse, some of the aforementioned vines are even toxic!



Infiltrating the tower and defeating Tarin, his remaining crewmates and his navigator can result in the PCs inheriting the deadly island and the burden of the artifact - and all the people who want it! The pearl turns out to be a pretty unique and cool reward for overcoming the solidly designed adversaries.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Each named NPC receives his/her own artwork, which is awesome. Even better, both island and fortress come in lavishly drawn full color maps that also sport player-friendly maps to use as handouts - kudos to the cartographer! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Matt Goodall and Geoffrey Roy have crafted a cool little sidetrek with a unique reward, a neat, dangerous fluff and build-wise, the use of multiclassing and archetypes help make the adversaries memorable. This is a production-value-wise glorious sidetrek for the small price and a thematically fitting sandbox that is easy to run and generally, I did enjoy the trip to Tarin's Crown. That being said, I do wish the dangerous island had more hazards and deadly adversaries for the PCs to face, a tad bit more unique options - perhaps deadly pollen, plant-based haunts, something like that to increase the mood setting before facing off with the main antagonist. Especially the cool defenses of the tower could have used a more pronounced chance to shine. That being said, consider this me complaining at a very high level. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the awesome production values.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Islands of Plunder: Tarin's Crown
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10 Paladin Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:37:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this pdf with 2 new enchantments - harm's way allowing you to intercept attacks on adjacent allies a limited amount of times per day, whereas the Patience enchantment is *very* interesting - it confers +2 to atk and +2d6 nonlethal damage if you or your allies do not execute the first attack in a combat encounter, thus rewarding *not* setting up a first strike ambush scenario. Cool way to reward paladins for behaving virtuously. That being said, on a slightly nitpicky side, the wording does refer to "the paladin" instead of "the wielder", insinuating that the enchantments are paladin-exclusive when they aren't. This does not impede their functionality, but it does constitute a minor glitch. This partially extends to the items.



In the tradition of the 10-series, we actually receive much, much more than the promised 10 items - with the exception of the new artifact and 2 items, all of the items herein come in three versions - a lesser, a standard and a greater version. Though, on an admittedly nitpicky side, some items instead differentiate between lesser, greater and superior versions for a slightly confused terminology. As far as I could tell, GP-costs are not a factor between deciding which terminology to use, rendering thus the chosen words just non-unified. Once again, this is a cosmetic glitch, but one that potentially could cause unnecessary confusion.



Enough nitpicking, onwards to the items: Boots of the Brave allow you to excel when kicking down the door and protecting your allies when covering their retreat (temporarily enhancing their flight-speed!), including an option that allows you to make combat maneuvers to shut down enemy movement. Pretty cool item, though the latter option to negate movement of target creatures may be a bit strong for the 18,500 GP price-tag of the superior boots. Bracers of Heroic Deeds allow you to catch allies about to fall - which is iconic. Switching positions with an injured or helpless ally should probably specify that the effect is a conjuration (teleportation)-effect and magically taking an effect or attack - all of these have a limited number of uses per day to balance them. Once again, extremely useful and damn cool.



Gauntlets of Remand hearken back to the exceedingly cool "Manalces of Idonis" from Rituals of Choice I, granting the character an extradimensional prison, with efficiency increasing over the levels - exceedingly cool and awesome to take foes alive, this also allows for pretty cool infiltration strategies. The heavenly helm (here, there's only one) allows you to use lay on hands as a gaze attack a limited amount of times per day. While it's called "layout on hands" once, that once again is a typo I can live with - it does not impede functionality.



The Ring of Honor's Justice is also interesting -it penalizes foes that use poison or similarly cowardly tactics with scaling curses. Nice! The Tabard of Righteous Metamagic increases effective spell levels for spells with the [lawful] or[good] descriptor. On another nitpicky tangent, formatting of the presentation of the 3 variants deviates from the one established in the other item entries.



Vestments of Honor's Virtue defines honorable attacks and allows a paladin to receive a powerful defense buff a limited number of times per day.



The final item herein would be the artifact Harngaul, "The Righteous Storm" is created from alchemical ceramic, a new material, and is a double-edged greatsword and also a legacy item - this would be Rite Publishing's take on magic items that increase in power over the levels. a hint of the significant power is granted via an omen the chosen wielder experiences. The blade increases in power at 3rd, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 15th level, with unconscious-rendering effects to grant foes mercy to increased smiting capacity, channeling spell-like or supernatural abilities via the blade to dimensionally anchoring foes and even making force-weapons to accompany your strikes and finally adding holy avenger-style abilities.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting of this pdf are its weak point - the pdf has a number of cosmetic glitches that render some rules slightly opaque and some typos are in here. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's 2-column full-color standard. The pdf comes with nice full-color artworks I haven't seen before and is fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its short size.



I sometimes wish RiP-mastermind and author Steven D. Russell had more time on his hands for writing - Steven ahs a massive flair for creating iconic, cool things that just rock and this pdf is no different. Where other pdfs would have bored me with celestial pseudo-apotheosis number 3849 or bland numerical escalation 489, the items herein dare to be *unique.* There is not a single, lame item herein - this pdf is literally all killer, no filler in the content-department, offering powerful, cool tools for good PCs as well as great fluff in between the crunch. Were it only for the content, I'd immediately rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. However, the pdf does sport more glitches than usual for Rite Publishing and some of them could conceivably cause confusion on whether the item in question is paladin-exclusive or not. As much as I want to, I hence can't rate this the full 5 stars, instead settling on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4. HOWEVER, personally, I love the items herein - they are often just godsend on the utility level and hence we have one of the rare pdfs here that receives my seal of approval in spite of not getting the full 5 stars - to denote how cool these items are, in spite of the formal glitches.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
10 Paladin Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Chronicler
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/19/2015 15:35:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 11 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



This prestige archetype receives 3/4 BAB-progression, d8 HD, good ref- and will-saves, 8+Int skills per level, proficiency with traditional rogue weapons and light armors as well as shields (the latter two sans arcane3 spell failure), spontaneous spellcasting via cha from the bard-spell-list of up to 4th level (though the pdf has a very confusing typo, referring up to level 5!). The class also receives a variant of bardic performance of 4+ cha-mod rounds per day, +2 rounds per class level. At second level, a doom--like debuff is added with Grim Tales - yeah, the class abilities of the chonicler have been properly streamlined into one ability-group - kudos!



Alas, the crazy prepared ability Deep Pockets has not been fixed - RAW, the chronicler can still draw forth fitting keys for locks - a caveat to further prohibit the acquisition of items the chronicler cannot reasonably have foreseen when packing/shopping for unspecified items should be added here. Greater Epic Tales has been moved to the now appropriate 13th level and the overall dispersal of bardic/chronicler abilities is solid indeed.



As always, we also receive FCOs for the core races as well as sample characters for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are still good, though less tight than in most of the series, with slightly misleading glitches here and there. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's take on the pathfinder chronicler is a more than solid revision of the original PrC - rewiring the abilities into the bardic-style performance is something overdue and the streamlining of the class works pretty well. That being said, this pdf is also not perfect - with the streamlining, interaction with feats and abilities that modify bardic performance, availability of bardic masterpieces etc. - there are quite a few rules-synergies that need to be addressed. Now I consider this installment one of the better in the series, mainly due to the pdf providing more proper advancement/revisions of the basic PrC, but at the same time, there are quite a bunch of different options that should be addressed for this rough diamond to truly shine -as written, this is a slightly more worldly/skill-focused bard than the regular bard, a solid take indeed, though not a perfect one. My final verdict hence will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up by a margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

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