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Libram of Lost Spells, vol. I
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/16/2019 14:04:02

When my home game decided to move from Pathfinder to 5e several years ago, I wasn't exactly subtle in my complaint that we were throwing away a lot of years of quality content to change the rule system. Even after years and a couple Whoever's Guide to Whatever books, 5e still doesn't have anything like the breadth and depth of options in Pathfinder. I've made my peace with this; I'd rather play an RPG based on a musical based on the Twilight series than not play with my group but I am nonetheless grateful for 3rd Party Publishers that add good, balanced content to the game.

That was a weird digression.

So, The Libram of Lost Spells! Twenty new spells spread out between all the casting classes in the game in a range of levels. Let’s talk about a few!

Accelerated Healing is a second level spell for druids and clerics that makes the target's hit dice heal for max when you rest and lets the target recover all their expended dice after a long rest. That's a big bucket of out of combat healing, especially at higher levels when you're up to your eyeballs in hit dice. A flavorful spell that can have a big impact.

Bone Spurs (2nd level wizard) and Circle of Serpents (2nd level cleric, druid and ranger) are both neat spells that hamper movement, the former by making it painful to move and halving speed and the latter by making a bunch of snakes eat your face if you leave their circle.

Clutch the Heart (6th level cleric, sorcerer, wizard, or warlock) and Kiss of the Vargouille (5th level warlock or wizard) are both nasty spells. Clutch deals a boatload of necrotic damage and keeps it coming if the target continues to fail its save. If it dies, its heart flies out if its chest and into your hand. That’s some real Kali Maa juju. Kiss is downright creepy and yanks the head off a humanoid target and turns it into a bat-winged chomping machine to gnaw on your enemies. When the spell ends because of a passed save the head comes back to its body and the normal head of the creature is restored. The spell text specifies that reducing the body or the head to zero hit points sends the head back and “the target creature is returned to normal.” One assumes that that means that the body is somehow healed to whatever its hit points were before the spell since it later says that damage to the vargouille doesn’t affect the target but the lack of clarity there isn’t great. If my reading is right, it's extra cool because you could cast it on a friend who was near death and give them a few rounds where their body couldn't be hurt. If you directed the varguille to flee instead of fight, you could have the full minute of duration to clear up the danger and then heal up your buddy.

The highest level spell is Glassteel (8th level sorcerer or wizard). It lets you turn a piece of transparent material into something like glass but with a higher AC than steel and a boatload of hit points as well as some resistance to damage. It’s neat and I can certainly see it used by a big bad or an NPC but I hardly see this coming up much for PC’s. That’s a little disappointing because when I GM I frankly don’t need a spell for my big bad or NPC to have super strong glass. I can just do that. This is too situational for players to have much interest in it and I wish the highest level spell in this book had a bit more appeal.

My total review score would be four and some fraction of stars. I dislike the ambiguity of Kiss of the Vargouille even as I love how cool of a spell it is. Glassteel is dissatisfying. I'm going to round up to five stars, though because 18 out of 20 is still a 90% good book and all the other spells really are great and range from cantrip to 6th level and there's something for every spellcasting class.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram of Lost Spells, vol. I
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Libram of Lost Spells, vol. I
by Reviewer X. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/26/2018 13:03:03

There's some great retro treasures in here, most notably stuff like protection from missiles and the like. This is well worth the purchase, and I hope to see it in Hero Lab and Fantasy Grounds! Looking forward to more of these!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/10/2018 23:13:37

Valkyrie Hybrid Class is a book that presents a new class option in forms that are playable in both Pathfinder first edition and Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition games. The class is nicely adapted to the rules for both systems, including options for variations on the class, such as alternate traits for Pathfinder characters and different complementary backgrounds for D&D. This makes it a very useful tool for players or game masters who play both games. The first few pages of the book have a description of the mythology surrounding the valkyrie, and some flavorful lore that is useful easing this class into your campaign setting. The back of the book has some very useful material to guide players who choose this class, as well as a sample NPC valkyrie that DMs can use to incorporate this class in their game on the fly. As for the class itself, Valkyries serve gods of war, guiding worthy warriors who die in glorious battle to the afterlife. As such, this is a combat-focused class that has a lot of ancillary abilties tied to life, death, and aiding their allies in battle. In Pathfinder, this translates to a hybrid class made up of elements of the barbarian (unchained version) and paladins. The Valkyrie in Pathfinder has a fairly sizable list of special abilities that include things like Deathwatch, Aid, Tongues, and even Call Lightning Storm (and a few others) as spell-like abilities. As well, Valkyries get some other nice abilities to help in combat, such as some aura abilities that grant bonuses to allies, and some smiting abilities that help them take down foes--fairly standard stuff for a paladin-like class. As to be expected for a Pathfinder class, there are also a lot of variant abilities and featured class abilities based on the character's race. As well, there are several interesting class archetypes that offer variant versions of the class--such as mounted valkyries, shield maidens, and valravn--who turn into swans. These all make for some interesting and flavorful variants on the class that bring variety to play. The Dungeons and Dragons rules for this class are rather simpler, and offer something of a tone-down version of what you get in Pathfinder--as should be expected. The D&D rules come in the form of a archetypes that have distinct versions for both the barbarian and paladin classes. Barbarians are allowed to take the Path of the Valkyrie, and paladins may take the Oath of the Valkyrie. The barbarian version of the class tends to be a bit more on the offensive side, with a focus on abilities that target enemies, and some cool abilities, like summoning a winged mount at higher levels. Paladins who take the Valkyrie Oath also gain some advantages in combat, but are more focused on protection than their barbarian counterparts. They gain a set of special spells and abilities that largely center on protection. For example, there's the True Shield ability, which acts much like the Sanctuary spell with some added advantages, and the aura of courage, which protects allies from fear. Rules for D&D also include some other new features such as new spells, feats, and backgrounds that add some very valkyrie-like flavor to gameplay. Both sets of rules offer us a new 'valkyrie' monster option, useful for DMs who want to use this book to challenge their players. As well, there are is a sizeable list of new magic items for both Pathfinder and D&D, which have some items that are useful not only with this class, but also in any game influenced by Norse mythology. This book is a great option for both players and dungeon masters, since it presents this well-known, and popular mythology so well and comprehensively. With the flexility this book offers, it is a great book to pick up especially if you like to play in mutliple systems.

Read the full review at geeksagogo.com!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
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Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Jean H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2018 10:10:45

I had a chance to run this for my players this weekend, and we had a blast. It's a great story, beautiful in its simplicity. It would be an excellent first adventure for new players, but not necessarily for a new DM. My players solved the mystery about a third of the way through, though they weren't 100% sure of that. They also almost derailed the plot in the first 15 minutes by nearly killing the antagonist. There are two big holes in the information provided: what to do if the party decides to follow Alistair out of the Ploughshare, and what to do if the party goes to the Greengrove. I would also increase the difficulty of the combat encounters. It's meant for a party of 6 and my party of 3 breezed through the encounters. All in all, a fun one-shot, with a wonderful story and enough background that it could be easily incorporated into an existing campaign, or become the start of one.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
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Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Tyler M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/17/2018 11:11:03

this adventure path is extremely solid. It is fantastic for new players to the game and even to veterans. The story line is entertaining and the npc's are even more intriguing. I suggest every Dm to come and give it a shot. It also has great replayability and i would play it again with another group given the opportunity. Have fun gamers!!!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Kris Y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/16/2018 19:42:51

An intrigueing mystery plot. Good for both a one shot or as a mini plot in a larger campaign. Had interesting characters and not just your typical village npcs. They werent flat npcs and thats always nice. Plus having random history information from some npcs just made the village more grounded. Had a good story hook and interesting plot developments based on how your party reacts to situations. And the battles were satisfying. Overall a pretty good time to be had.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Critical Hits: False Valor (5E)
by Dara W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2018 14:09:20

False Valor is simple, brutal and effective- the twist brings up possibilities to flesh things out into larger themes in a campaign, or keep as a one-off mystery for the PCs to solve and try and bring peace and closure to a town on the brink of violent eruption. Very clear read, simple but with nuance!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/20/2018 04:58:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, this one takes a bit of a different approach than most hybrid classes – we begin with pretty extensive notes that first explain the design rationale, and then proceeds to provide a flavorful legend and some in-character prose. I enjoy books that take the time to set the stage. Now, idolatry has a bad reputation in the monotheistic religions that many people nowadays follow, but at one time, worshiping statues that actually properly represented the deity was the standard procedure. (One may well argue that, while nominally, most Christians don’t worship idols of their god, worshiping an abstract cross with a depiction of Jesus crucified on it, is actually not that different, and call hypocrisy on the idolatry ban, but I digress.)

Anyways, the idolator thus does feel somewhat “old”, a theme that is further emphasized by the quasi-Mesopotamian flair evoked by the cover and the layout. The class also is unique in that it lists 3 parent classes: Cleric, oracle and unchained summoner. Now, this sounds interesting, right? The class gets 2 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons + their deity’s favored weapon and light armor.

At 1st level, the idolator gets a favored ability score valued by the deity – these basically represent different specializations: These follow a similar design paradigm: You get either +1/2 class level (minimum 1) or + class level to all ability checks pertaining that ability score. Additionally, the class gets to select two skills based on the ability in question to add to the class skill list – this one, obviously, is not part of the parcel for those choosing Constitution – which is a good thing. The ability score chosen counts as two higher for the purpose of qualifying for feat prerequisites. In spite of the class not getting spellcasting per se, choosing Intelligence grants this boost also for the purpose of concentration, assuming Intelligence as the concentration-governing attribute. Beyond these, each ability score comes with bonus feats granted thus – Strength yields medium and heavy armor proficiency, for example, while Dexterity nets Lightning Reflexes and Weapon Finesse. All of the favored abilities have in common that they render the idolator immune to ability score damage for the chosen ability score at 10th level, with 20th level upgrading that to immunity to ability score drain of the chosen ability.

This also interacts in an interesting way with the class’s take on the mystery feature: We begin play with one, but idolators don’t get class skills or bonus spells from the mystery chosen; they start play with one revelation chosen from the mystery’s list and get another one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. As a mostly aesthetic nitpick – the class feature should specify that idolator levels count as oracle levels for the purpose of revelation prerequisites. The unique thing, though, would e that revelation DCs are governed by 10 + ½ class level + the ability score modifier of the favored ability chosen! Yep, that means Constitution, Dexterity, etc. could be the governing attributes for these DCs! This has me intrigued, so let’s take a look on how this all comes together!

Now, an idolator is obviously also defined by the idol, right? An idol has a base form and subtype and sports the deity’s alignment. It understands and speaks common and all of the idolator’s languages. An idol is only destroyed upon being educed to negative hit points equal to the idol’s Constitution score. The idol has two forms – statue and animated. Idols remain in statue form until an idolator performs a 1-minute ceremony to animate it. This ceremony necessitates that the idolator remains adjacent to the statue. While in statue form, the idol has a hardness of 8 + the idol’s Charisma modifier. In this form, it’s generally 1 ft. tall and weighs between 10 and 20 pounds. Less portable idols could be Large or Huge, with correspondingly higher weight. Animating the statue transforms it into a Medium creature, and it remains animated until the idolator reverts it back to statue form as a standard action. Dismissal and banishment can revert an idol to statue form. Important: If the idolator is rendered unconscious or asleep, the idol IMMEDIATELY reverts to statue form! This is a small thing, but it means that “Get the priest that animated this monster!” suddenly makes sense – a small touch, but one I enjoyed. The idol, chassis-wise, is based on the unchained eidolon, though the table is provided for your convenience. A crucial difference would be that the idol does not have a max attack column, since it does not gain additional attacks with natural weapons – however, the idol may make iterative attacks when wielding the deity’s favored weapon, with which it has proficiency. The idol may not be altered to conceal it – no alter self, polymorph, etc., though invisibility et al. remain viable.

The idol, when damaged in either form, may be healed by healing magic, but it may also be fixed by spells à la make whole. Idols do not naturally heal hit points, and while nominally constructs, they do not get the construct traits – a fact the discerning reader will have picked up earlier, when the pdf specified the extended death threshold. Instead, they get a subtype, base form and base evolution as though they were an eidolon. Idols don’t have an evolution pool, and they eat and sleep and breathe, but unlike mortals do: Being in statue form constitutes resting, and the idol must rest 8 hours in a 24 hour interval. (“We must raid the temple while the idol sleeps!”) While the idolator does the preparation/resting routine, he burns incense and offers sacrifices of negligible cost to the idol – idols thus can be affected by harmful gasses. Idols may not wear armor, but do qualify for receiving construct modifications, which is an interesting differentiation angle. Now, as an aside, bioconstruct modification makes no sense for an idol, so having a prohibitive list would have made sense, but that is me nitpicking.

The idol begins play with darkvision 60 ft., gets Bluff, Craft, Knowledge (religion), Perception, Sense Motive and Stealth as class skills, +4 of their choice. Idols that gain a fly speed also get Fly as a class skill – nice catch there! An idol begins play with two cleric domains known, chosen from the deity the idol represents, gaining their domain powers and treating the idol’s idolator’s class level as cleric level for the purpose of determining their powers and gaining new ones. Domain powers usually governed by Wisdom instead employ Charisma as the governing key ability score. Subdomains etc. qualify. At 1st level and every level thereafter, the idol chooses a spell from these cleric domains chosen. The idolator’s class level must be at least twice the spell’s level for it to be selected – slightly odd: This means that the idol can’t actually cast the SP chosen at first level, only unlocking it at 2nd level. 1st – 3rd spell level SPs may be used 3/day, 4th to 6th level 2/day, and higher level spells may be used 1/day. A single spell may be chosen multiple times, increasing the daily uses by 1. Material costs higher than 5 gp must be provided for, in spite of the SP nature, but the costs for these components are halved. (minor nitpick: There is a missed italicization here. Idols begin with a starting Charisma of a whopping 17. Minor complaint: A sidebar is a bit confusing: “As an idolator gains levels, his idol gains specific evolutions based on its subtype as if it were an eidolon.” – this directly contradicts the class table and other class features – the text here is probably referring to the abilities gained by a subtype’s base evolution class feature, at least that’s how I read it. Ability score increases are gained at 5th, 10th, and 15th level.

Now, beyond the idol, the class gets their own unique class features dubbed “Sacrifices” – the first of these is gained at 2nd level, with additional ones gained every even level thereafter. There are more than 6 pages of these provided, but they probably could have fitted on fewer pages: The sacrifices are indented below the main ability, and the layout already has pretty wide borders, which makes the pages depicting these look pretty empty. Anyways, as you can glean from the amount provided. Some of these are exclusive for some favored ability scores and/or domains chosen; to give you an example, you can have multiple forbidden languages, and when having the same class skill as your idol, you may roll twice, taking the better result. Charging sans penalty to speed imposed by armor, Improved Unarmed Strike, 20 ft. burrow speed, causing bleed damage when flanking with the idol (there are various flanking upgrades), charmed life, +2 AC for purposes of determining crits versus the idolator, deathless fervor, increasing darkvision building up to seeing through magical darkness, resistance to an energy for Constitution based idolators, divination SPs…and there are some unique tricks: Lock down one magic item slot for a permanent +1 luck bonus to a save that increases to +2 at 10th level. This one is particularly interesting for low magic games. Flight granted scales and retains the implicit 5th level cap for unassisted flight. There also are flavorful choices, like offering a 10 gp meal to the idol to be exempt from requiring food or drink for a week. You can also share potions between idolator and idol, granting both the benefits, though this takes a full-round action and provokes AoOs. Better Stealth, integrating a magic item into the idol, gaining additional, limited SPs, gaining scent…some cool ones. Alas, one of them is obviously a cut copy paste from another source, mentioning a reaction as triggering action, which does not exist in PFRPG. That should be an immediate action. Also odd: On one page of these, the font used around an artwork suddenly changes to a different type, which makes the page a bit harder to read.

Starting at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the idolator gets a bonus feat, with the list governed by the favored ability score chosen. The capstone allows for the choice of one of 4 different ones, three of which are apotheosis-style abilities, while one sports one time miracle and 1 true resurrection, usable by the idol once as an immediate action.

The class comes with favored class options for the core races + orc, and there are 3 different archetypes for the class: The earthly divinity archetype locks the idolator out of variant multiclassing, since that’s basically the angle: The idol loses subtype and base evolutions and instead grants variant multiclassing style abilities at 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th,16th and 20th level. These benefits have been reproduced for your convenience, and encompass the pre-ACG classes. So no, there is no occult support here. There also is an issue here: These benefits can yield animal companions, familiars, etc., and that is problematic regarding companion stacking and interaction. Not a fan. The strange font-glitch also can be found on one page here. The revelator replaces the 6th and 9th level revelation, and the 11th level sacrifice with material component less, improving divination SPs. At 4th level, the revelator can share the benefits of a revelation with a willing target for 24 hours via a 1-minute ritual. During this duration, the revelator loses access to the revelation, though the revelation may be revoked as a standard action. I get what this ability tries to do, but it is a bit rough in the details: Does the recipient use the idolator’s stats to determine the efficiency of revelations loaned? What about revelations with limited uses/durations that need to be spent in increments? Is the limit persistent between characters or not? What about revelations that build on others? Do they cease to function upon the prerequisite revelation being traded away? Does the recipient have to meet minimum level requirements, if any? As written, alas, RAW not 100% functional.

The wordgiver is basically the Moses-style archetype and loses the mystery and revelation class features, instead gaining a tablet. Once per day, the tablet may be used to cast any cleric/oracle spell, using class level as caster level and the favored ability score as governing modifier. The spell’s level must be half class level or lower (here, the minimum caveat is properly implemented), and an additional such wildcard spell is gained at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. Damaged tablets restore their hit points upon resting, and when destroyed, they may be replaced after one week in an 8-hour ritual costing 200 go x class level. The tablet may be hurled as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 ft. Annoying: Since the wordgiver does not have Throw Anything, unlike the alchemist, this means that he takes a -4 penalty to atk with the tablet. The tablet, upon impact, deals 1d6 times class level energy damage to the target, with the energy type associated with the deity. No further guidance is granted there…so what if I worshiped Nethys? Free choice? The fact that the table can be thrown thus also is a bit odd, considering that the subsequent spell-upgrades granted don’t yield additional tablet – you have but one. 7th level’s bonus feat is replaced with Leadership.

There is a per se interesting suggested variant rule regarding moral ambiguity, which mirrors many of my own sentiments, but as often before, the like tends to take a lot of time to implement concisely, and what’s presented here cannot really comprehensively cover the repercussions of doing so; thus, I’d strongly discourage attempting to do so, even though personally, I do believe that a big book to make the game more shades of grey-y may be a smart choice. The pdf also includes 4 magic items: chime of divine summons may be rung 1/day as a standard action – 10 minutes after that, the idol appears adjacent to the idolator. The delay here is interesting from a narrative angle: “Look, I’m unarmed. Yeah, you can bind me and put me in shackles. You’re throwing me in a cell? Oh boy, what should I do….” Divine clay of mending can be used to heal the idol. Eyes of the idol lets you see through the idol’s eyes. The rotulus of command draws heavily from the Golem of Prague myth – place a simple order in the idol’s mouth, with conditions, have it execute it. Simple, yet cool. We end the pdf with a sample level 5 human idolator using the mystery of lore and his idol.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal and rules-language level, are both rather good – very good, in fact, though there are a few minor blunders here and there. The archetypes in particular feel a bit like afterthoughts and like they received less care. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard that enhances the quasi-Mesopotamian vibe of the class. Artwork is a blend of new full color pieces and fitting stock art – though it should be noted that these manage to all invoke the same ancient flavor. Layout –wise, I think that the sacrifice ability-arrays pages look a bit empty. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This collaboration between Aaron Hollingsworth and Mark Hart deserves applause for a couple of things: The class is wholly cognizant of the power of the idol, and is structured thus in a clever way to account for its power. The flexible chassis allows for really fine differentiation between different favored ability score idolators, and from mystery to revelations and domains, there is a TON of potential to customize these fellows. No two idolators will be truly alike. Indeed, this hybrid class does have its own distinct identity that renders it distinct from its parents in a rather fun way.

The idolator has a distinct flavor and takes the flexibility it provides into account. In fact, this is a hybrid class that I consider rather worthwhile – it is intriguing, and the small tweaks to rules and the distinct flavor make it feel unique. While the minor hiccups and, in particular, the less refined archetypes do mar this slightly, I consider the base class to still be worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Idolator Hybrid Class (Pathfinder)
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The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/03/2018 05:06:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 66 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons. My review is mainly based on the softcover copy, which I received, though I have also consulted the electronic version. A peculiarity there: There are two versions of the pdf: One with the front cover, and one without it – the latter has bookmarks, so that’s probably the intended one. If in doubt, I referred to the print copy.

All right, let’s first address a pretty big thing: This is a dual format adventure, with rules for both D&D 5e and PFRPG included in the same book. Since both of these games are rather rules-intense, this means that we ultimately pay for some information that we won’t be using – I am not a big fan of dual stat books, particularly for rules-heavy games, for exactly that reason. The rules herein have been codified in a way that is easy to grasp at first sight – Pathfinder in black, 5e in red. The usefulness of this color-coding is obviously contingent on meticulous implementation. The last dual-statted modules by TPK Games suffered from their dual-statted nature – they were neat as Pathfinder modules, but significantly less compelling for 5e. Now, let me get that out of the way right now: Author Jason LeMaitre, developer Mark Hart and editor Michael Ritter have managed to get the formula as right as it can be. In contrast to previous dual-stat modules by TPK Games, this one is superbly precise in its rules-language and formatting for both systems. While PFRPG has a huge wealth of material to reference, 5e instead gets well-crafted conversions of items and traps – for example, there is a sands of time based trap that is just a spell-reference in PFRPG, a whole, tight explanation of its effects in 5e. In short: The module is playable in both versions, with the same enjoyment. DCs have also been adjusted accordingly – so yeah, as far as dual-statted modules go, this one does an excellent job in the formal categories.

One downside and something of a missed opportunity would be that the module pays for this by not making use of all the wealth of PFRPG – I don’t necessarily begrudge the lack of Horror Adventures-support’s less than interesting sanity system, mind you, but I did find myself feeling that the modified fear-progression and occult rituals would have enhanced the adventure, but that is me nitpicking on a high level. Most groups will not mind. From a technical perspective, I do consider the 5e version, surprisingly, to feel a bit more concise this time around – I think that would be my preferred system.

Now, if you’re reading this review, you’ll know that this is a horror module – it says so, literally, on the cover. It is also one set in a sanitarium, one of my favorite environments due to the massive creepiness factor. To contextualize the book: My favorite 2nd edition adventure, ever, in how it ran, was Bleak House: The Death of Dr. Rudolph Van Richten’s Book I: Whom Fortune Would Destroy. This one did not manage to topple the classic, but it didn’t need to. Similarly, I have only recently reviewed the latest installment of the “What Lies Beyond Reason” AP by Pyromaniac Press, which also takes place in a Sanitarium. That being said, the aforementioned “Sanitairum”-module by Pyromaniac Press (Links: PFRPG/D&D 5e) and this one are as different from another in themes and execution as night and day. Pyromaniac Press’ adventure draws its horror from the slow burn ignited by the campaign from the get-go; it represents an intrusion of the weird, a dissolution of social order and reality impending, as exemplified by what the PCs unearth. I’d consider its effects to be closer to psychological horror, which makes sense, at it does not represent a culmination of a story, but an escalation.

The Bleak Harvest, on the other hand, focuses on a more personal and in your face type of horror, one that is very much both self-contained and on a smaller, more personal scope, also thanks to its rather disturbing body horror-ish angle in the middle – I’ll elaborate on that below in the SPOILERS.

It should be noted that “The Bleak Harvest” sports copious amounts of read-aloud text, play-hooks, and in the absence of necessarily rules-enforced madness, it sports a nice variety of mind-games/flavorful tidbits that you can use to unnerve your players. These tidbits, alongside the high quality of the prose, means that this adventure is a surprisingly nice reading experience: The atmosphere is tight, and the module does have some replay value, though not as much as it could potentially have; still, this is also a big plus. The cartography within is excellent, full-color and provides a scale for the region and encounter maps, but not for the building map. A minor complaint: A few of them are slightly pixilated. A major complaint: My players will never get to see these maps, as no player-friendly versions are included. Not in big versions you can print out in the back, not as jpgs…so yeah, that’s, particularly considering how nice the maps look, an unnecessary oversight. The maps not even have the GM-maps in a map-appendix to print out. That really sucks and, at this point, is weird when e.g. Legendary Games, AAW Games, Frog God Games, etc. all regularly have the like.

All right, the formal criteria out of the way, let’s go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So Willowbrook Estate is the crème-de-la-crème of Asylums – basically a luxury rehabilitation facility/place where you lock away embarrassing family members if you belong to royalty/nobility, it is far from civilization and has a vast scope: the walled compound contains a vast swathe of land, it has its own groundskeeper, etc. – picture a truly vast place, and one that is actually dedicated to healing or at least, keeping the folks in states where they won’t hurt anyone. The king’s cousin, Berard, who is suffering from multiple personality disorder, is in this institution, and teleportation inside the compound fails; communication has broken down and the king’s diviner’s can glimpse into the place. Upon arriving at the forlorn and rather creepy place, the PCs will probably soon find out why: Sigils are smeared in blood or feces or dirt, or scratched into solid objects, all over the compound…and as they’re likely to find out, erasing these sigils will do nothing: They simple reappear.

Arriving at the estate, the PCs will be greeted by the inmates, freed from their cells – and while creepy, they are at least not hostile – courtesy to the ministrations of Dr. Alainne Von Shrugal, Nurse Naul and her idiot assistant, Deocar. The PCs are soon filled in on what’s happening: Madness is spreading and inmates are getting worse; some disappear with disturbing frequency, never to be seen again. There was a fire in the records room, so who is missing and who’s here…nobody knows. And considering the issues many of these folks have, even finding Berard will be a tough task indeed.

Beyond aforementioned lunatics (the confused, nameless NPCs), the estate has but 6 patients left – and interacting with them will not be easy, though interact the PCs must – they can provide crucial clues required to solve this mystery, and the PCs better not dawdle, for there is a timeline and a countdown: The PCs only have two days to solve the mystery before failure can have catastrophic repercussions. And yes, a handy timeline is provided. Once the PCs promise to help, Dr. Von Shrugal drags the PCs in front of the lunatics and tells them that the PCs are her friends – and thus secures cooperation from them. (As an aside: Commanding a troop of lunatics would have been a great “mini-game” in PFRPG – well worth statting them, imho, and one missed chance regarding the PFRPG-version as written.)

But why are they compliant? Well, these hallucinations, the madness slowly seeping into the PCs? These flavorful tidbits I mentioned? Well, the doctor has experimented. She has attempted to use a creature she alchemically created (which, alas, makes for a deadly foe in the attic) and other experiments: So far, the only thing that halts the madness reliably…is a lobotomy. Yep. A frickin’ lobotomy. And yes, this is codified with nice rules, including chances for death. The operation can only be undertaken in privacy, with one PC assisting, and the module recommends sending the other players outside – this is smart, as the good Dr. has pretty much a villain-name that will make most players really paranoid about being operated by her…

Anyways, the downside of the procedure is that the PC subjected to it will take everything at face value, which can be a really cool roleplaying angle…and yes, the book does note means to end the state, though frankly, I think that would take away from the impact and gravity of the decision. There are a couple of issues, though: the gamekeeper, for example, hasn’t been seen around in a while.

He represents one of the complications this module offers. While the estate grounds come with random encounters noted, the groundskeeper and his cabin represent a red herring of sorts and one of the weakest parts of the module. The groundskeeper is a werewolf, and an afflicted lycanthrope – as such, he should not have much control over his lycanthropy, but the modules mentions that he can no longer control it, which is odd. When confronted about the state due to nosy PCs trying to stay at his place, witnessing and surviving his transformation, he tells the PCs that he drags a carcass in a circle around the cabin and thus has the transformed form hunt the trail all night. That makes NO SENSE and represents the one dumb logic bug this module has. As far as red herrings are concerned, a trio of slender-man-ish, odd observers, Mi-go in disguise, are more effective. And so is the convicted serial killer among the patients. On the plus-side, this does mean that the GM has more stuff to throw at the PCs to throw them off their game.

Ultimately, there is a dark grove hidden on the grounds, where the cultist that has infiltrated the complex (not spilling who it is here!) and a unique dark young of Shub-Niggurath await, sacrificing the patients, night by night, trying to bring ole’ Shubby to the world. Suffice to say, the PCs should definitely stop this madness, and having some guys that have been lobotomized may well be the key to success…As a downside, the elaborate background story of the primary antagonist cannot really be discerned, which robs the antagonist a bit of the impact the story would otherwise have.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with a blend of cool stock photography and great artwork I haven’t seen before. The cartography is, per se, excellent, but the lack of properly-sized GM- and Player-maps for printing out and VTT use sucks and is a detriment to the module’s functionality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The PoD-softcover sports a nice, matte cover, but has a small, white line at the top of the page. Still, I consider the softcover to be worthwhile.

This module, on one hand, gets a lot perfectly right – while one of the red herrings is pretty lackluster, the module, structure-wise, achieves what it sets out to do. Perhaps a bit better in 5e than PFRPG, though.

This is the first module by Jason LeMaitre I have read, and it gets horror right. In spite of making use of the by now rather trite Cthulhu mythos, it does so in an excellent manner, and manages to really drive home the personal horror angle. The scene for the “procedure”, the fluffy tidbits and the cast of creepy characters all conspire to render this adventure a rather atmospheric experience. The prose is particularly crisp and evocative and makes the setting and the weird happenstances come to life admirably. In short, this represents an amazing genre-module that manages to execute its subject matter with panache and style – it made me excited to read more from the author’s pen! While most of my criticisms boil down to nitpickery for PFRPG and very minor components that are offset by the freshman bonus, the lack of properly sized versions of the maps does constitute a massive comfort detriment that I have to penalize.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down. Sans the map-issues, this would have made the 5 stars. If you’re looking for a good horror adventure with a well-executed mythos angle that actually has some bite, check it out – it’s certainly worth owning!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleak Harvest (PF/5E)
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The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
by Edward S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2018 17:48:24

An exceptional enjoyable read - definitely helped me get my viking on in my pathfinder game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Valkyrie Hybrid Class
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/08/2018 10:44:48

Races of the Outer Rim: The Omenoi presents a playable race for the Starfinder role-playing game. This is part of a series from Total Party Kill games, that gives short, inexpensive player options in a single book. This is the sort of nice, simple supplemental sourcebook that DMs can easily pick up for a few dollars to add something new to their game that players haven't seen before, and we tend to like that. The book gives us the rules and background for the Omenoi--a race decended from frost worms that inhabited a comet flying through space. They are a 4-armed race that evolved in a harsh, cold environment with few resources. They have an affinity for cold, a burrowing ability, and can enthrall their enemies by making a trilling sound. However, they have little in the way of technology--though they make up for it with an aptitude for magic. The technology that they do have is famous for making use of small, localized wormholes that can be used to extend a user's reach, or protect vital parts by hiding them in extradimentional spaces. These are some really unique and cool ideas that make the Omenoi interesting. As well, they have an interesting background as a war-like species who openly challenge others to duels as a friendly greeting, and are seen by others as tied to astrology due to their coming from a comet that inhabitants of other planets believed was a tied to prophecies. There are also some original concepts that make this book interesting, such as the Omenoi's past practice of exploring other planets in magical ships made of ice from the comet on which they live. Overall, the rules are good and don't do anything to break the game, but bring a lot of flavor and something new for players with a moderate amount of background. I would like to see a bit more backstory, and a few more mechanics and options, though. This is a race with an affinity and respect for magic, but the book presents no new spells or any real options for magic users. There are some nice feats available to characters of this race, such as a breath weapon and cold immunity that are nice, but not too powerful. Overall, though, Races of the Outer Rim: The Omenoi brings some really nice ideas that can spice up your game with original sci-fi concepts. This is a good book for DMs or players who want something new and don't mind filling in some story details with their own ideas.

Read the whole review at GeeksAGogo.com



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Omenoi
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Fifth Edition Options
by James B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/10/2018 19:53:50

A neat selection of optional rules for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. There's something here to suit pretty much any sort of D&D campaign, from gritty to cinematic and everything between. A lot of the options are derivative of rules from older editions, especially 3.5, and other d20-based games, but it's still useful to have such rules ready for 5E use. That said, I don't think I'd be as forgiving if I'd picked this up in print; I'm rather glad I bought it as a PDF instead. (Originally posted on Goodreads)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fifth Edition Options
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Races of the Outer Rim: the Anarchane
by Monica G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/30/2018 22:14:40

This is a nice little supplement for the Starfinder role-playing game that offers about 10 pages of content on the Anarchane, a humanoid alien race with an affinity for magic that are tainted with a condition known as 'the Affliction', which leaves them frail and shortens their lifespan to about 30-40 years. The Anarcane have an interesting history--hailing from an planet outside of the Pact-Worlds run by a society that valued magical ability, they discovered that magic was fading from their world. The Anarcane sought to recharge their magical energies decades ago, and ended up saturating their world with magical energies that made it inhospitable and likely doomed their planet (not entirely unlike the planet Eox). Though the focus of this book is on rules for the Anarchane race, it does contain a backstory with some fertile ground for adventure hooks that can drive an entire campaign. As for the Anarchane themselves, this book provides rules for a very interesting and playable race that is a good fit players who want to play a magic user. The Anarchane have some nice spell-like abilities and the power to draw energy from magical items to cure themselves of conditions and stamina damage--which has potential for abuse by players if the GM is not careful. They are exceptionally well-suited to be technomancers, though their abilities are a good match for other classes as well, and the book offers some suggestions on playing Anarchane of all classes. The book provides some nice feats unique to the Anarchane that really compliment their magic affinity, such as abilities that allow them to recall used spell slots, or to super-charge their spells (which comes at a cost for over-use). As well, the book includes a short list of spells that emphasize the Anarchanes' facination with the confluence of magic and technology. Some of these spells can be easily used by other races at the GM's discretion. In fact, this book contains a handful of technomancer spells that do things like prevent system access or cause a creature to suffer from a computer virus the next time they log into a system. These are great spells that really should be incorporated into your game whether the Anarchane are a playable race in your game or not. Overall, this book adds nicely to the Starfinder rules, giving players and game masters more options. The only problem that I have with it is that I would like to see more of it. The planet Anarchane has the potential to be an interesting setting for a game, and it would be nice to see TPK Games publish a book on the setting at some point. Check out our weekly RPG review column and see the full review at Geeks a Gogo



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Races of the Outer Rim: the Anarchane
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The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
by Dylan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/21/2018 04:35:50

This is now my favorite class for 5e.            



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Malefactor Class: Revised & Expanded (5E/PF)
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Feats of Legend: Limit Break - 21 Feats of Fantastic Martial Finality (PF)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2018 05:16:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

A little side tangent: The first thing that I ever did that would constitute design-work of sorts were limit breaks. Back when I was a kid, neck deep in puberty, when I had an innocent crush on Rinoa from FF XIII, my AD&D campaign back then was winding down; we had reached the highest power echelons, left level 20 far behind, and I had, at best, a cursory knowledge of 3.X, but had been jamming rules-components without rhyme or reason into my game. The result was, in hindsight, equal parts embarrassing and amazing, with limit breaks stolen in equal measure from my favorite games and from my most beloved, oh-so-deep goth/metal lyrics. Ah, the celebration of a sort of innocence…anyways, once you think about it, it’s actually weird that we did not get a limit break system for PFRPG sooner!

But how does it work? Well, feats with the [Limit Break] descriptor may NOT be taken during character creation or during character advancement. They may only be temporarily selected via the martial flexibility class feature or the new Desperate Combat Overdrive feat.

This feat requires Int and Cha or 3+ and requires that you do not have martial flexibility. It lets you choose one [Limit Break] feat, which, 1/day, as a full-round action, you may unlock for your character for a number of rounds equal to ½ character level, rounded up. You must meet the prerequisites and the current hit-point total of the character must be at or below 1/4th of maximum hit points AND you must have dealt damage with a successful melee attack last round. The feat may be taken multiple times, each time granting you another [Limit Break] feat access.

This limitation of 1/4th of maximum hit points or below, and the requirement to have hit the opponent btw. also applies for the purpose of temporarily gaining access to [Limit Break]-feats via martial flexibility. Additionally, a character cannot gain a [Limit Break] feat while under the effects of a supernatural fear-effect. Mundane fear-effects are okay, though.

The exception from the rule here would be the Swallow Your Terror [Combat] feat – if you otherwise meet all the requirements for a [Limit Break], but are suffering from a supernatural fear effect, you get a new save each round while the [Limit Break]-conditions are met – on the first save, you are treated as though you succeeded the initial save, and if an effect has even an effect on a successful save, a second save in the round after that allows you to shake off the fear-effect.

The astute reader may have noticed that the [Limit Breaks], per default, can only be unlocked by melee attacks. The Limit-Charging Bolts, available exclusively for characters with martial flexibility, changes that and allows one proficient ranged weapon to be treated as a melee weapon for the purpose of qualifying for [Limit Break] feats unlocking.

Occult Limit-Charging is yet another tweak to the base system engine: This feat kicks in whenever a creature with HD equal to or greater than your own fails a save versus a spell or SP and suffers hit point damage as a consequence, this qualifies as causing melee damage for the purpose of unlocking [Limit Break]-feats, allowing spellcasters to be part of the fun.

[Limit Break] feats are considered to be combat feats and while a character possesses a [Limit Break] feat, she sheds light, imposing a minus 40 penalty on all Stealth checks, shedding light as a sunrod. Once a character has used a [limit Break] feat even once, she thereafter emits a glow whenever below 1/4th maximum hit points, imposing a -20 penalty to Stealth checks and emitting light as a candle – a warning of sorts, somewhat akin to the glow of e.g. FF XIII’s aura-spell. The saving throw DC of [Limit Break] feats, if any is 10 + ½ character level + Constitution modifier, and Con-mod is also used for concentration purposes of SPs duplicated thus.

In a great quote of the anime and videogame trope, the Soul-Sharpening Battlecry feat allows you to tweak [Limit Break]-triggering: You choose an item of great personal significance for you – a rod, a card, a weapon – and loudly pronounce a doom, declare your name etc. – basically, Tales of X-style. This is a move action that provokes AoOs and is treated as an attack for the purpose of charm, invisibility, etc. – however, until the end of your next round, you halve your current hit points for the purpose of determining when [Limit Break] feats can be triggered. Come on, that is really, really cool! Furious Limit-Charging is available to characters with rage or bloodrage, and, during such a rage or bloodrage, allows for the treating of current hit point total as halved for the purpose of [Limit Break] unlocking – we all know that being pissed amps up the chance of getting a [Limit Break]! Brutal limit-Charging is yet another way for characters with martial flexibility to get more [Limit Break]-use: On a crit (not just on a threat!), you treat your current hit point total as half as much for one round for the purpose of qualifying for a [limit Break] unlock.

If a character fails to meet the prerequisites for using [Limit Break] feats, for example due to healing, the access to the feat, but not the feat per se, is temporarily lost. However, if the feat is lost, it may not be used again for 24 hours.

Sounds confusing? How do you lose a [Limit Break]-feat? Well, here’s the catch: In contrast to how most feats behave, [Limit break]-feats’ prerequisite line often specifies a condition that you must have met in the preceding round. While this blending of situational and general prerequisites may feel confusing at first, it makes sense within the design-paradigm and the ephemeral nature of the [Limit Break]-feats themselves.

Okay, so this would be the base system presented here, including the non-[Limit Break]-feats that modify it. Now, let us take a look at the[Limit Break]-feats, shall we? All of the following are [limit break]-feats:

-Aegis of the Avalanche: You gain self-only stoneskin, but may spend it for a round to duplicate forceful strikes. Maintenance requires dealing bludgeoning damage.

-Unflinching Iron Juggernaut: Requires Aegis of the Avalanche and that you have been flat-footed versus at least one attack against you; you may choose to become flat-footed to all attacks in one round to gain this feat’s activation criteria. It nets you iron body. OOOHHH!

-Flame of the Dragon: You gain fire trail and fire shield (warm) and choose to suspend them for a round in favor of fire breath. Requires that you take or inflict fire damage.

-Blazing Astral Steps: Requires that you have Flame of the Dragon and must have spent last round with a double move, charge or run action. Nets you damnation stride as a move action, but you may not take others with you. Qualifies as abundant step for the purpose of Dimensional Agility and all feats in that chain, which are treated as combat feats for the purpose of martial flexibility. Yes, they’re listed. Yes, catching that one is impressive.

-Harmonious Spirit Charge: Regain 1 ki, requires that you spent 1 ki in the previous round. Cool!

-Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting-Spirit: As a move action, all creatures within 30 ft. who don’t have concealment are dazzled for 1d4 rounds, with a Fort-save to negate. This is sight-dependent, obviously. When you inflict melee damage on an opponent thus dazzled, the target must save or be blinded for 1 round per level. Creatures adjacent to a target thus blinded must save as well to avoid being blinded. During any round you use a full-attack action and make at least one melee attack, you get one additional melee attack at your highest BAB, but it must be made against a target blinded by the feat. The feat requires that you have another [Limit Break]-feat as a prerequisite. This one is a bit tricky, because it has, RAW, not its own maintenance condition. Careful reading shows, though, that it behaves essentially as an overlay that adds its effects to another [Limit Break] feat’s effects.

-Pale Cloak of the True Dragon: Requires Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; upgrades Flame of the Dragon’s fire shield to mythic fire shield.

-Nova of Burning Hate: Requires both Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; 1/round after succeeding a melee attack, you may cast quickened fireball with a range of 0 ft. You are immune to the damage AND get a trip attempt sans AoO or retribution against any target that failed the save against your nova of burning hate. Ouch!

-Wrath from the Edge of Death: Nets you your choice of cure serious wounds or greater infernal healing. No maintenance, though – this is a singular effect. However, it is the prerequisite for…

-Rage Beyond Death: Beyond the previous feat, you must have witnessed a creature fall below 0 hp, and immediately gain heal (self only). You may gain it an additional time as a standard action. If prevented from this, you instead gain breath of life.

-Severing Strike: Lets you execute a single melee attack with a slashing weapon as a full-round action. If the attack hits, you roll a d20 and the target may suffer massive bleed, lose a hand and drop items, lose an eye and be confused, lose proper leg-use, etc. Immunity to sneak attack fortifies against this, fortification etc. is taken into account, and you may take the feat multiple times, allowing you to roll more often on the table.

-Trickster’s Laughing Jaunt: Requires that you have used Acrobatics and nets you an AoO-less gust of wind, followed by an error-less teleport within the gust’s area of effect, which is treated as movement for Lightning and Wind Stance. When ending the teleport in mid-air, you feather fall.

-Trickster’s Leaping Jest: Builds on the previous feat and requires it: Choose a construct of your size category with a CR no greater than your own. As a full-round action, you use both dimension door and invisibility at once and a construct of the chosen type is summoned to the square you departed from. This creature is veiled as you and observers don’t witness you vanishing, as though affected by mislead. Your [Limit Break]-glow is transferred to the construct and you may use a move action to see through the creature’s eyes and direct it.

-Fracture the Blistering Flow: This one should have the [limit Break] descriptor, but doesn’t have it. It requires that you have suffered damage in the last round. Once per round, when using Gather Power as a move or standard action, you may gain its benefits as a swift action instead. When you use a feat. Trait, wild talent, kinetic blast or kineticist class ability dealing acid, cold, electricity or fire damage, you may change the damage to one of the other three energy types as a free action, changing descriptors, if any. Other effects remain unchanged, unless the new energy type invalidates them, which is a quite important caveat considering the flexibility of the kineticist engine.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the missing descriptor for one feat can make it seem pretty OP, so that’s a minor strike against the pdf. Layout adheres to a nice and pretty printer-friendly two-column standard with blue headers. The artwork is solid. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity.

Wow. This is the single most impressive feat-based engine I’ve seen in ages. The material herein requires a certain degree of system mastery to properly process, but against all odds, the pdf manages, in a paltry 6 pages, to present a concise and well-crafted limit break system with amazing effects. The engine duplicates tropes from beloved game-classics and the way they feel in impressive ways and can carry much, much more – in fact, I could easily see this engine carry a full-length book! While the missing descriptor in the kineticist-feat is a bit galling (the feat would be OP otherwise), the engine as it stands is a remarkable achievement that is pure, distilled awesomeness.

Who wrote this? Clinton Boomer? Well, that explains it! Seriously, folks – if you’re running a high-fantasy campaign and don’t shirk away from high-complexity material, then get these, smile…and start building on the pdf. Have I mentioned that this really could carry a whole book? You know, this pdf’s engine could carry a whole book…Okay, okay, I think I made my point. This is, by far, the best installment in the whole series and perhaps the most inspired feat book I’ve read in quite a while. 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the one descriptor snafu.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Legend: Limit Break - 21 Feats of Fantastic Martial Finality (PF)
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