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    Spheres of Akasha
    by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/18/2021 22:15:31

    Spheres of Akasha review

    Introduction So, Hall Kennette is a prolific author that has been kind of focusing on Akashic magic supplements. Here, he teams with Christen N. Sowards under Lost Spheres Publishing for this book, which is like a crossover between Akashic magic and the Spheres system. Can they pull it off? Let’s see!

    What’s inside?: not counting covers, index and legal section, 48 pages for almost 9 bucks, which include:

    -The Sphereshaper base class (SS from now on): This class inherits a lot from the vizier. It has the same proficiencies and class skills, along with the same BAB/HD, saves, essence progression, chakra binds, improved essence capacity, veilshifting and even part of the capstone ability, but gets less veils (6 at top level compared to 11).

    They get an ability at first level called Akashic Affinity, which lets the SS choose one Mystic Attunement from those available to the vizier, or get a access to some veils outside its veil list, or a Mana bond ability which increases his MSB and MSD and gets some synergy with other casting classes and serves as an essence receptacle. Any of the abilities chosen progresses at the same levels as the Mystic Attunement of the vizier. Also at first level, they get another choosable ability called Mnemonic Insight, from 3 options: Arcane (which functions just like the Eldritch Insight vizier ability), Martial (counting as fighters for feats and getting a changeable Weapon Focus feat and some extras), or Spiritual (a domain, no spells but also works as an essence receptacle). It seems that you can change the choice every day, since in the cap ability it mentions that you can also change your Insight, but the description of the ability is cut. Finally at first level, they can use their veilweaver modifier and level for attacks, just like with weapon-like veils, but for also for any sphere talent.

    The class also gets Sphereshaper’s Talent as a bonus feat at each even levels. What is that? I will mention it below. The class ends with half a page of favored class bonus for 31 races!

    -24 Sphereshaper Veils: These are so different from standard veils that their special rules take a page. Basically, each veil grants you access to a specific Sphere and a talent, but not a package. If you want to progress in those spheres, there’s where the Sphereshaper’s Talent comes into play. When shaping veils for the day, you get to choose a talent from any of those granted by veils for every time you chose the feat. Wait, what? Yes, while I’m not an expert at the Spheres system, you get an unbelievable amount of customization, changeable each day. Since you don’t gain spellpoints or Martial Focus natively, you can BIND, not invest, a point of essence invested in this veil (which prevents reallocation for the day). With that chassis and the limitations of the veils, I think it is not unbalanced. However, I wouldn’t allow them as options for the Shape Veil feat.

    The veils themselves have cool names and abilities. Choosing at random, Cernavog’s Blood Hunger grants you the Berserker sphere and lets you shape a powerful great axe that deal 3d6 for medium and gives you temporary hit points each time you hit a creature for the first time each round, stacking with themselves and those granted by the berserking ability, and when bound lets you track those damaged by the axe and add some bleed damage to the axe’s blows against them. Lich’s Grasp grants you access to the Death sphere, but the ghost strikes made are melee touch attacks, damage with negative energy and instead of healing, shaken undead creatures ignoring immunities; when bound, the ghost strike are treated as weapon attacks, allowing for multiple uses in a round.

    -5 Archetypes: Aeshmic Daevic exchange their non-passion veilweaving, all chakra binds but body (ouch!) and almost half their essence to become a blended trained low-caster, gaining a sphere talent each level; intriguing! I would have tied the passions with specific spheres, but that is something I can do on my own. Sipahi Gurus lose a lot of non-philosophy abilities to become adept combatants, and they can invest their Martial Focus as if it was a special point of essence (or two or three at higher levels) that augments even the Sipahi’s essence capacity, really cool! These two archetypes are interesting, changing the Daevic into a more pally-like class, and grounding the Guru into a more physical combatant.

    The next three archetypes are Veilweaver Sphere takes on each of the three original akashic classes. All classes lose their normal veilweaving and essence pool, and all but the Daevic also lose improved essence capacity (must be an oversight in the Daevic’s case), in exchange of becoming low, mid and high casters, although they use their class level as their caster level when determining effects from the veilweaver sphere, but not for prerequisites. As Sphere Casters, they start with two bonus talents and a casting tradition, and also gain the Veilweaving sphere (which normally gives you access to one veil, but not in this case) and their class’ Tradition advanced talent (which basically add all the class’ veil list to their known veils). So, how do they empower their veils without a class essence pool? They can condense and draw essence, by spending two spell points, they get a point of temporary essence that last until you recover your spell points, and you can burn this temporary essence to get a the same number of temporary spell points that last for 1 minute. They can also get bonus essence to their pools by taking essence talents (each giving a point of essence). Viziers also get a variant of their Eldritch Insight class feature and two special abilities: extra veils shaped during their careers (up to three) and being able to use their caster level as their BAB when using weapon-like veils and veils with the [enhanced] descriptor.

    -New Class Options: Here we find a Sphere’s version of the Wrath passion (which changes the passion skills gained and adds some caveats to the other features), two 3-point specialization abilities for the Incanter (Might of the Speheres and Veilweaving), and two prodigy Imbue Sequences (Essence Burst and Essence Crash). In this section we also find two favored class options for all races and the three Veilweaving sphere classes: 1/6 of an akashic feat or 1/5 of a Veilweaving sphere talent.

    -Two Prestige Classes variants: The two prestige classes from Akashic Mysteries get the sphere treatment. The Sphere Amplifier doesn’t require multiclassing, is a high caster and gains a talent every level, and DOES gain an essence pool. They can use a spell point to directly increase the power of matching veils (3 options possible). The Sphere Black Templar is a rework of the original to function under the Spheres system.

    -Veilweaving Sphere: This sphere is ambitious. It tries to open all the possibilities of veilweaving to Sphere casters. It starts with an alternate Divination talent called Divine Akasha, but after that, there are pages after pages on how to integrate veilweaving to other sphere casters. Just by gaining the Veilweaving sphere, you get access to a single standard veil. After this, you get access to essence talents (which all give you a point of essence, like most akashic feats), bind talents (just the ability to bind veils, not the extra gained from the feats), and like in Spheres of Might, a lot of feat and class features were transformed into talents. Basically, you can build a mostly standard version of the akashic classes, or can go wild and either give them a lot of standard sphere magic, or give veilweaving to standard sphere casters.

    -Akashic Magic and Veilweaving: This is the section where you find the all the basic information for veilweving and its interactions with magic. I would normally complain about yet another repetition of this section, but with the inclusion of the Sphereshaper, you could potentially play without any other book (although all of the archetypes). There are also some unusual interactions between veils and sphere talents, and that is a plus.

    -5 Feats: Akasha-infused Sphere lets you infuse a talent with essence, working at a higher level. Destructive Essence increases the damage of the destruction sphere’s blast with “akashic” damage; it is not called as such but it has been appearing in the author’s works, so I will call it that. Essencebound Metamagic lets you give a specific effect a metamagic you know by binding essence, and while not said, it doesn’t follow the maximum essence capacity. Sphereshaper’s Talent is the Sphereshaper’s best friend, since it lets you wildcard tons of Sphere talents both of Power and/or Might. Wildform Chakra is the last one, improving your natural weapons when in another form gained from the Alteration sphere or the Transformation feat.

    -Akashic Magic casting tradition: In the vein of other traditions, it includes magic type (akashic), casting ability modifier (any mental), 3 general drawbacks (akashic spells make each spell a veil, being able to sunder it, imbued power can be chosen twice and severely limits the targets of your magic, and magical signs) and 2 boons (essence empowerment lets you invest essence in it to gain a caster level bonus by burning that essence, which doesn’t start to recover until the effects ends; essence pool lets you chose up to 5 general drawback to get an essence pool). Not mentioned under the traditions, there are two Veilshaper sphere-specific drawbacks, one that impedes you to learn veils but grants you an essence talent (good if you want to empower spheres and the like with essence), and another that doesn’t let you convert spellpoints into essence.

    The book ends with a conversion of Akashic Catalysts, and some other additional rules like the controversial Enhanced veils (although I really dig that you can use a veil as an implement), conversion of 7 veils from Akashic Mysteries into Enhanced veils, a section on descriptors (important for both veils and sphere magic), and the inclusion of the Eldritch Insight vizier ability… and a w hopping, 12-pages-long legal section.

    Of Note: The short fiction at the start of the book is really nice. The variety of characters you can makes by just the base class and the two first archetypes alone increases exponentially. I am a fan of the Sipahi and will make one ASAP! The sphere veils are really intriguing and worth exploring!

    Anything wrong?: To be frank, the book has little content that can be considered new. I noticed a couple of glaring editing mistakes, and the legal section should be put in a Tag of Holding (TM).

    What I want: I would have loved the Aeshmic to include passion traditions, and maybe change the class a bit more since the original passions, while cool, kind of shoehorn you character builds a little.

    What cool things did this inspire?: A campaign centered around the Akashic Records and rebuilding the world and its magic after a cataclysm would rock!

    Do I recommend it?: If you are a fan of the Spheres system to the point where it is the only magic system you use, then by all means. But if you wanted a synergy of akashic magic and spheres while maintaining them separate, then I would think about it. All in all, the authors took the monumental task of joining two of the most flexible alternate magic systems for PF1ed, and I dare to say, they succeeded. I will grade this 4 stars because of the editing mistakes.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Spheres of Akasha
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    Lost Might - The Braggart
    by Craig B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2020 22:10:31

    This publisher in general and this release in particular is one of the reasons I love 3pp releases so much. Is it more effective than a core-rulebook fighter? Yes. And that is what I'm looking for with 3pp stuff. Not just more mechanically "effective" but something with a real feel and personality. The core stuff is the entry to the game and doesn't challenge the player or the DM too much. As it shouldn't. But with Braggart we get something crafted and imaginative that is going to make the GM think, make the player think. The character you can bring to the table with this is going to spark and shine. I want more releases like this, ones that inspire me to create memorable characters.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Lost Might - The Braggart
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    Lost Might - The Braggart
    by Dweezil W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2020 17:38:56

    DM'ing for a highly optimized group, this class doesnt seem way out off line - if at all tame compared to some other options (i.e. Synthesis)

    Its flavourfull and playes pretty solid cinematic (using techniques from CotP).

    Nonetheless, it proved a ill suited concept for super optimized games, as most class features depend notonly on hitting, but hitting way above ac (which can be hard with i.e only having a 45% hit rate with its best attack or concealment). not triggering the Flair will impact the class Massivly.

    the magic sphere using Archetype can clearly negate many of those problems by using selfimprovement sphere Effekts and can Provide the classes strenghts with greater ease.

    all in all i like the class, though it can be unreliable At Times - in low optimized groups this class will most likely outperform most of the other martial core options, though most Systems do that if i'm honest.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Lost Might - The Braggart
    by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2020 21:14:30

    The Braggart is a new practitioner class that uses the Spheres of Might system. For those who don't own that system, or aren't familiar with it, this book includes a selection of abilities and options from it so you don't need to buy Spheres of Might in order to make a viable character.

    But your Braggart is going to be viable pretty much no matter what. The important thing to know about this product is that it's made for City of 7 Seraphs games, which tend to be significantly higher-powered than most Pathfinder games. For example, the Braggart essentially gains the Paladin's bonus to saving throws and the Monk's bonus to AC in one ability, and can later spread that to their allies. They can also duplicate and extend morale boosts, and there are some very powerful morale boosts in the game.

    However, I don't actually agree that it's overpowered. I know experienced players who read the above statement are probably raising their eyebrow right now, but the Braggart is mainly a powerful martial combatant. Being really good at combat isn't the same kind of narrative power as a Wizard with 9th-level spells. It's still stronger than I'd suggest for most games because it could overshadow many other combat types, but it's not actually as game-breaking as it might look at first glance. Also, any GM allowing this should know what they're expecting and be adjusting things accordingly, so there's that.

    That's the reason for my score here. It's stronger than other practitioner classes, but it's also intended for a high-power setting and actually is kind of appropriate for City of 7 Seraphs stuff. I can recommend it for high-power games, but not regular games. If you're looking for a strong combat class, this more than meets that criteria, especially if you have even a mild amount of system mastery. If you're looking for a flavorful class that's about the same power-wise as existing options, this is not the right choice.



    Rating:
    [3 of 5 Stars!]
    Lost Might - The Braggart
    by Antoine M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2020 18:47:31

    Since the release of Sage, anything regarding Spheres of Power and Might has been, for the most part, looked at carefully to avoid repeating the mistakes of the class. The Braggart and some of the new talents absolutely represent a leap in power floor that is grossly abhorrent.

    From class features alone, the class comes swinging out of the gate with 25 talents over 20 levels alongside a slew of powerful class features. Some of which make a critical mistake of typing another stat, especially Charisma, to AC and saves (before allowing you to share that with your allies) let alone the fact that Flair as a mechanic rewards the already optimal method of stacking to-hit as high as possible. Furthermore, the class fails the infamous bag of helpless rats check regarding flair.

    Should you decide you have enough talents for your build, it can easily start converting class features into bonus talents (instead of being locked in like a Conscript) whnever it suites. Combined with the fact it gets a class feature to negate any difficulty in triggering its supposed overwhelming success class features makes the class a remarkly power crept chassis to extant content without the reputation of being mediocre, which the core spheres team addresses regularly due to many overly conservative archtypes in the core release of spheres of might.

    The stress archetype is very poorly designed. Making a martial use Burn but named differently so everything that currently exists doesn't help with it is ill-thought out and painfully ignornant of the less poorly balanced version on the Spheres of Power section of content.

    The casting archetype shows the author wasn't aware of Ultimate Spheres of Power (frankly, I think they got all their knowledge from the wiki without actually reading the How to X sections) as it assigns a CAM when CAM is part of tradition now.

    Next, the absolutely wildly busted ability that is the talent Nolstalgic Callback. Not only does it allow you recoup expensive resources, for example an extended empowered casting of a very powerful Spheres of Power talents from the mind sphere, it also allows extension of normally exceedingly short duration morale bonuses. This functions as both resource duplication and action economy cheating, and it applies to the entire team. It also functions on it self, allowing ad-nauseam extention of buffs that could otherwise be negated, dispelled or counterplayed, and the broken morale based class features of the Braggart itself.

    All in all, I can't believe something this ridicously powercrept was released in such a state that means it almost competes with the lofty throne of the Sage class and can not honestly reccomend content from this book in any game attempting to not invalidate years of content production and balance.



    Rating:
    [1 of 5 Stars!]
    Creator Reply:
    Sorry to let you down so badly. We do want to note that the clarification of enemies only has been made for "bag of helpless rats" check. We will assess other talents and designs for potential errata based on your feedback. Thanks.
    Lost Paths: Voltaic
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/06/2020 05:51:59

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This class-supplement clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

    This class uses the initiator system featured in Dreamscarred Press’ Path of War-books, but does not necessarily require them – as a nice courtesy that avoids book-flipping, we get all reference material herein; this includes the Eternal Guardian, Solar Wind and Thrashing Dragon disciplines, as well as Pathfinder Unchained’s Stamina-engine.

    If you do not like Path of War’s design decisions, you might want to read this review in its entirety nonetheless; there is a good chance that the voltaic might work for you and your table, even if Path of War is generally not deemed suitable for the type of game you’re playing.

    In case you are new to Path of War, it should be noted that the sub-system assumes a power-level beyond what PFRPG-classes usually offer; it is closer to a power-fantasy than other subsystems released for PFRPG, and operates under different design-paradigms than standard-PFRPG. I strongly encourage you familiarizing yourself with the system in depth before introducing it in your game. In can be a godsend for some tables, but it can also break the game for others. That being said, I review materials supplementing sub-systems within the context of their respective sub-systems, so please bear that in mind – this review takes a look at the voltaic in the context of a game that has determined that Path of War works for them.

    Okay, that out of the way, let’s take a look at the voltaic! The class gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as all armor and shields, including tower shields. The voltaic has full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, and begins with 3 maneuvers readied, and increases that up to 12, though it should be noted that the voltaic is pretty different from other initiators, which are tied to new feats, so let’s talk about two feats here.

    The first of these would be Spark of Inspiration, which requires a BAB of +1 and no levels in a martial initiator class or martial maneuvers from another source, preventing abuse there. This feat nets you a stamina pool and the ability to spark in combat; the feat lets you spark when an enemy critically fails to hit you, or when you critically hit an enemy, and also nets you the Eye of the Storm stance – more on that later. If you dislike this, or have one player who just seems to be too lucky (in spite of what the laws of probability dictate!) there is an XP-based variant as well. Good! Why? Well, two sessions ago, one of my players, for the first time in over 20 years, failed to roll at least 2 crits in a single session.

    Anyhow, the basic idea of sparking is using a new maneuver bia a kind of stress-unduced mid-battle insight, treating their BAB as the initiator level, but still needing to meet all other prerequisites. When a character rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll, they can choose to replace the critical confirmation roll with an Intelligence check vs. DC 10 + the level of the maneuver to be learned. On a success, the character learns a single strike or boost they qualify for, from any discipline that counts the weapon that scored the critical hit as a discipline weapon. The maneuver is then placed into the character’s suite of maneuvers as a readied maneuvers. Alternatively, when an enemy rolls a natural 1 on an attack roll versus the target, the character may attempt to spark, learning a counter instead. If the check is successful in the latter check, the counter is automatically triggered in response. Finally, when performing a skill check in combat and rolls a natural 20, the character can attempt to spark and learn a boost, with the skill corresponding to that of the discipline. The CR of the creature thus used must be at least equal to the character’s class level, avoiding abuse there. A hard cap is imposed to prevent abuse: A character may only spark 1 + Intelligence modifier times per level, not including temporary increases to Intelligence. The list of maneuvers readied via sparking can include up to 2 + ½ BAB (minimum 1), with a total possible maximum of BAB + primary initiation modifier. An excess can be used to replace a previously learned maneuver with a new one. This may also be done via 15 minutes of uninterrupted rest.

    Psionic and spellcasting character takes a penalty to Intelligence checks made to spark equal to their highest level spell or power or SP; racial SPs are not counted for the purposes of this limitation, and interestingly enough, akashic options are accounted for as well, using the total number of binds unlocked as the equivalent of the highest spell level known. This is an elegant take. Once a maneuver has been learned, the sparking character does not use the usual recovery methods; instead, the character has a stamina pool equal to character level + Constitution modifier, and using a maneuver expends points equal to the level of the activated maneuver. A character with 0 stamina is fatigued, and the character gets to recover Constitution modifier points such points by taking the total defense action, and the pool is fully replenished after 15 minutes of rest. But what of Stances? Well, stances are learned via the Learn Stance combat feat, which has a similar exclusivity-cause that prevents other initiators from taking it, and the feat may be taken multiple times.

    Now, this engine might look pretty simple on paper, but it actually creates a rather unique experience in play – in many ways, it could be likened akin to a more anime-esque way of treating how maneuvers are learned (which is perfectly in line with Path of War’s aesthetics), and it feels, as a whole, very organic; sufficiently so that I can see some groups generally preferring it to a sufficient degree to make a switch to this variant initiation in its entirety. In an interesting manner, the engine inherently rewards exposing the martial character to risk, learning new maneuvers as a consequence of being exposed to danger – the whole angle feels surprisingly right when employing it, and makes the engine feel more martial. I seriously like it.

    But let us get back to the class at hand: The voltaic begins play with martial flexibility, allowing them to take a move action to gain the benefits of a combat feat for 1 minute, with 3 + ½ class level (minimum 1) uses per day, and feats with limited daily use take their assortment of daily uses from this array as well, so no cheesing there. At 6th level, two feats may be thus retained at a given time, with one available as a swift action, two as a move action; one may be used as prerequisite for the other. 10th level improves that to three at a time: 1 feat as a free action, 2 as a swift action, three as a move action; at 12th level, one combat feat may be gained as an immediate action, three as a swift action; at 20th level, any number of combat feats may be gained as a swift action, but in all instances, each feat counts as a daily ability use. The voltaic begins play with Spark of Inspiration. 2nd level nets Learn Stance, with 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter netting an additional Learn Stance.

    At 3rd level, we get the high voltage ability, which adds +1d4 electricity damage to the voltaic’s natural attacks, unarmed attacks and manufactured weapon strikes, which explicitly stacks with shock et al. This die roll is also added to the Intelligence checks made when sparking in a rather cool way. At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the die size of this die increases by one step according to a well laid-out progression in die-sizes. This bonus damage may be suppressed or reactivated as a free action taken once per round.

    At 4th level, the voltaic chooses one of 4 paths of the storm, which proceed to grant scaling benefits every 4 levels, including the capstone, so this one should be well-contemplated. The path of the echoing thunder lets the voltaic retain one feat from martial flexibility until the class feature is reactivated, with 12th and 20th level increasing that by +1 feat, and 8th and 16th level netting Extra Stamina as a bonus feat. The path of focused strikes nets Weapon Focus, and when martial flexibility is used, the voltaic may select one additional feat, but loses them all during any round they make an attack with anything other than the Weapon Focus weapon. 12th level nets an additional martial flexibility bonus feat; 8th level nets Improved Critical with the focus’d weapon, and 16th level Critical Focus. 20th level provides the option to manifest said weapon as a weapon of pure lightning, which is treated as a +5 weapon dealing electricity damage.

    The path of the rolling thunderhead nets additional bonus combat feats, making this the most prosaic of the paths. Path of storm’s flurry, finally, is my favorite, as martial flexibility increases the high voltage die size while active (two die-sizes at 16th level), and the voltaic, when making a full attack with a single weapon, gets a 30-ft.-range ranged touch attack as part of that attack, dealing high voltage as bonus damage, with a -2 to atk as a payoff for such flurries. The range of these increases at 8th level to 60 feet, and 12th and 20th level provide iterative attacks here. This is a very cool core engine, and it could be justifiably be used to build a whole class around it.

    At 14th level, the voltaic gets static shield: The first time each round that the voltaic deals electricity damage to a target with high voltage, they add the number rolled on that die as a deflection bonus to AC for 1 round. At 18th level, half that amount is added as an insight bonus to saves for the same duration. Electricity damage reduced to 0 does not trigger this effect. Once more, the static shield ability is a compelling one, and could justifiably carry an entire archetype with a finer differentiation and flexibility – I genuinely like it. The class comes with favored class options for ceptu, elfves, gnomes, humans, oread, sylphs and wolgers.

    If the above weird races were no indicator, and in case the logo meant nothing to you: The voltaic comes with a whole page of unique characters for the context of the phenomenal City of 7 Seraphs campaign setting, including anon-binary oread, mirrorkin, rhyzala…the flavor-centric write-ups are genuinely great, and I wish we got full stats for them. Really nice and flavorful, and I’m happy to see that we get more material for C7S!

    I got a big chuckle out of the header for the “sparketypes” – love me some unobtrusive humor to lighten up crunch! These archetypes are intended to allow other characters make use of the sparking engine. The unlimited warrior fighter loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency in favor of 4 + Intelligence modifier skill points and an expanded class skill list. Spark of Inspiration is the first-level feat, and 10th level’s bonus feat is replaced with the ability to use stamina as a buffer to prevent falling to 0 or fewer hp: I like that one. The capstone presents a delimiter for sparking.

    The deathseeker rogue gets simple weapon proficiency as well as a single exotic or martial weapon of their choice; trapfinding is replaced with Spark of Inspiration, and the archetype uses class level as BAB for maneuvers readied. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the rogue talents gained then are replaced with target weakness. This ability allows the rogue to decrease the size of their sneak attack damage die to gain ghost touch, increase them, but make the attack mind.affecting, set the damage to 2 per die and transform it to force damage, or reduce sneak attack damage die amount to impose negative levels on a failed save. These all are interesting, and could conceivably carry a more complex design as well. As an aside: A moderately talented designer or GM can make this archetype work easily with variant rogues such as the legendary rogue – just saying.

    Finally, the volt dancer unchained monk must be chaotic, and gets Spark of Inspiration at 1st level as the bonus feat. Ki strike’s DR-overcoming abilities are replaced at 3rd level with storm strike, which allows the monk to use ki as a swift action to change damage types to cold, electricity or sonic. 10th level’s ki power is replaced with average maneuverability fly speed equal to fast movement bonus, with 12th and 15th level improving maneuverability.

    Now, the pdf also presents a whole new discipline, the spark of battle, which has Acrobatics as the associated skill, and the weapon groups heavy blades light blades and close weapons. We begin with the customary list of maneuvers by level, and then proceed to list the maneuvers in alphabetical order, which is slightly different from the level-based presentation in the reference material, but that is a purely aesthetic gripe. One unique property of the discipline, unsurprisingly, is that many maneuvers have a Special-line that allows for unique tricks if the initiator has the Spark of Inspiration feat. Take the very first ones, Aerial Dash – it’s a boost as a swift action that increases speed and lets the initiator walk through air, falling if not reaching solid ground…though the use of stamina can keep them aloft! Aerial Step is a lower level version that allows for controlled descents. The Backfist level 1 strike lets you execute a weapon and unarmed attack at the same time, with -2 to atk for both…and here, the use of the Spark of Inspiration angle is perhaps more interesting, as it lets you 5-foot-step between these attacks, even if you have already!

    Bladestrike, the level 1 counter, is also exciting – it is one of the counter that let you, unsurprisingly, counter an attack by targeting an enemy weapon with a…sunder attempt! Yeah, I know! I expected to read about an easily-cheesed skill check as a substitution attack roll here, as that has always been my primary issue with the whole Path of War engine….but no skill check here. In fact, the discipline is wholly BEREFT of the more glaring core problem of Path of War’s martial discipline-engine, in that it does not substitute skill checks for attack rolls. Not once. Instead, it uses skill checks with the associated skill in order to ENHANCE the benefits of the respective maneuvers, or to determine the extent of their effectiveness; in the latter case, the discipline shows a strong awareness of how easy it is too boost skills via items etc.

    To give you an example: Soaring Falcon Flurry is a level 7 strike that is initiated as a standard action. The initiator jumps into the air, and makes a DC 20 Acrobatics check, making a single ranged touch attack versus a foe within 30 ft., who takes 5d6 sonic damage, and is staggered for 1d4 rounds on a failed save. For every 5 points by which you beat the DC, you get an additional such attack against a different target, up to a maximum of 6 total attacks versus 6 targets. If you have Spark of Inspiration, you can spend a stamina point to treat the result of the Acrobatics roll as a 15. This has a proper cap, a potentially devastating damage output, and yet can’t be cheesed. It has this awesome anime/WuXia-aesthetic that I love, is appropriately powerful, and yet won’t break the game. Or take Skyscream, which increases the damage die size it causes if you make your Acrobatics check. Grounding Rod lets you use Acrobatics in lieu of a saving throw, but only versus electricity damage, which might sound lame at first…but you get to redirect the attack!

    I absolutely adore this discipline. I mean it. Did I mention that the strikes, boosts, etc. are consistently typed with descriptors? Heck yes.

    The pdf closes with the aforementioned reference material, which takes up 22 pages, with a general recap of the martial initiator system’s rules taking up another 2.5 pages.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a rules-language and formal level; I noticed no significant issues in this book. Layout adheres to an elegant, nice-looking two-column full-color standard with awesome full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks and all.

    Christen N. Sowards and Michael Sayre have done it; they achieved a vision that I had since the beginning, since Path of War first hit digital shelves: They have used the powerful engine, the amazing anime/WuXia-esque aesthetics of the system, and stripped it of the things that can be easily used to break the game, cheese attacks, etc. I am incapable of crying due to joy (I instead enter a flabbergasted mode of stammering where my usual eloquence falls by the wayside), but if I were capable of it, this might well have done it; in many ways, it showcases what I’ve been saying all along: Path of War doesn’t need any of its broken components, of the aspects that needlessly limit it, to work, be fun, or succeed at its design goal. In the future, I’ll just point at this masterpiece and rest my case.

    Power-level-wise, and regarding the playing experience, the voltaic is a potent class – it’s not intended for gritty low fantasy, obviously – but it works within the design paradigms of the upper end of the game. If your game tends to favor lower powered characters, I have a little suggestion for you that anybody can implement: Limit the voltaic to the new discipline. Done. You’ll have a powerful character, but not one that’ll break your game.

    The balancing employed here is sublime, and if anything, being set against the reference material herein, which is btw. not close to the highest power-level you can get with Path of War, this difference in quality will be evident.

    In short: The Voltaic is Path of War, thoroughly – it breathes the aesthetic, it is exciting to play, and showcases how well you can use the system… all without Path of War’s more problematic parts. And we get a novel, fun alternate initiation engine that you can customize to boot! I frickin’ adore this book. I’d recommend it even to people like yours truly that limit Path of War use to certain types of games, but love e.g. akasha, psionics or pact magic. I really found myself wishing that we had a whole revision of Path of War to the standards set herein – such a book would been all but mandatory in my games. This is absolutely phenomenal. 5 stars + seal of approval, recommended not only to fans of Path of War. This also gets my "Best of"-tag, as it's imho the best Path of War-design to date.

    Endzeitgeist out.



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    Lost Paths: Voltaic
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    Akashic Realms Volume 1: Emperors & Einherjar
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2020 06:42:13

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This massive expansion for the akashic system clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 ¾ pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 39 ¼ pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.

    Okay, so, first things first: This book is a combination of a massive akasha expansion and a planar sourcebook; this is insofar interesting, as the cosmology featured is intended for use with the PHENOMENAL City of 7 Seraphs campaign setting; and because that implies a pretty radical departure from what we usually get to see for the themes featured.

    What do I mean by this? Well, as many of you know, I have devoted a significant part of my life to studying Scandinavian cultures; as such, the Norse myths hold a very special place in my heart: From music (huge Wardruna/Hugsjá/Skuggsjá-fan; plus: Viking metal!) to language to literature, to pretty much everything else, this is just my topic; the only time when I truly feel at ease, like I’ve arrived where I am supposed to be, is when I’m in Norway. If you’ve read the sǫgur (plural for saga), you’ll know about the rather unique outlook on life, so far from the constant dichotomies that our current society struggles with. You’ll also know that the usual way to depict Norse themes in RPGs focuses on the low fantasy end of the spectrum. This, obviously, does make sense. When RPGs do dive into the high-fantasy end, it often is more inspired by Marvel’s slaughtering of the themes – again, understandable, considering the vast impact they have on particularly American pop culture. Apart from Rite Publishing’s Valhalla demiplane book, I know of no attempt to do so for a contemporary RPG.

    This, then, as far as RPGs are concerned, is unique, in that it champions a high fantasy approach to two myths, with the Norse being one of them. Before we start, there is one further thing to note: Even if you do not care about adding to your cosmology, the book has A LOT of crunch, so integration into pretty much all settings is rather simple.

    We begin with two new planar traits here: Surging Essence. These can be found on planes with potent akashic echoes, and here, akasha users can concentrate to gather energy as a full-round action to gain 1 temporary essence for 1 minute. Constellations thus summoned vanish when the temporary essence dissipates. Surging essence can have a descriptor that limit the veils and abilities available for the essence to be invested in. Furthermore, the presence of descriptors as such can have consequences (not smart for the righteous to gather the fragmented souls of the damned, and vice versa!), and in the case of the more potent option, temporary alignment changes might result. It should be noted that the book does feature rules for planar infusions and that the 3 Conduit feats for them have been included, so no, you do not require the Planar Handbook for PFRPG to make full use of this. These infusions are presented for both myths covered here, and while I was not a fan of Planar Adventures’ decision to make the bonuses thus granted untyped, the book does mirror this decision; so no, this is not an oversight, but in line with the core engine presented.

    We begin with an at-a-glance write-up of Valhalla, including infusions and prime movers – here, the plane is defined as chaotic good, and we are introduced to a variety of locations and persons, as well as the einherjar-blooded aasimar, who gets +2 Constitution and Charisma, cold, fire and electricity resistance 5, a +2 racial bonus to Bluff and Intimidate, darkvision 60 ft., and when they are reduced to below 0 HP for the first time on a given day, they are healed as per cure moderate wounds as a SP, using class level as caster level – shouldn’t that be character level?), and also gain a temporary essence. As a whole, on the strong side of races, but not to the point where I’d consider them to be unbalanced.

    We also get a new nexus convergence for Valhalla, which includes the option to deal sonic damage with planar detonation, but at the cost of a decreased damage output. Higher tiers allow for increasing penalties to the hit target, calling forth the spawn of Fenrir and, at high levels, valkyries, and at tier 4, we have 3/day breath of life, which also is autocast on the nexus, if uses remain. Really cool! The planar attunement allows for simple switching between planes and the option to take essence burn to declare an attack a save-or-die for giants, which is pretty suitable. These rules components are VERY precise and show an extensive familiarity with the finest of rules conventions for PFRPG – the new nexus material, in short, is very well-designed.

    Valhalla also gets a pretty massive new set of veils – Asgardian Saga. The nexus class is the one who gets full access to Asgardian Saga…and there are a couple of bits here that made me smile very widely: Each of the veils gets a brief flavor-text, and I really loved to read e.g. the one for Geri and Freki, which correctly mentioned the Úlfhéðnar. Call me elitist, but I believe that RPGs can really broaden your horizons, and the notion of RPG-players as individuals who are genuinely interested in a wide variety of things, the assumption of intelligence and a desire to learn, is something near and dear to my heart. It’s just a bit of flavor, but if only one person out there actually looked up those weird letters, this was already worth it. But I digress. And before you ask: The names of the respective veils use the anglicized spelling – so “Bifrost” instead of “Bifröst”, etc.

    Which brings me to the first veil – Bifröst Boots, which has great utility and soft terrain control uses – you get to make facsimile Bifrösts, and as the chakra bind for feet, gain AC boosts against targets standing on the bridge – oh, and you do not provoke AoOs, which makes this a great skirmishing facilitator. Geri and Freki nets you wolven clothing that helps with handling animals, as well as the ability to summon a wolf animal companion at class level -4, minimum 1, as though a druid. You can’t spam the wolf, though, and essence invested enhances the wolf and animal handling – and yes, enough essence can offset the level-penalty; and yes, I did check this regarding some pretty in-depth comparisons, and it checks out beautifully. The veil’s chakra bind for the body is super versatile – it lets you call a second wolf, gain a bite + Pack Flanking or have a brooch that lets you command wolves and associated creatures. Flexible, varied, cool. Gungnir is a long spear that may be thrown, and it returns to you, provided your hand is free. Interestingly, this did not use the returning quality, instead electing for a smoother implementation in the context of this veil. The spear is also more potent, particularly when wielded while mounted, if the proper essence is invested, and with a chakra bind to the wrist, a whole smörgåsbord of customization options and scaling enhancement s become available. Oh, and in that case, it also enhances your AC via shield bonus. Huginn and Muninn (Fun, and utterly irrelevant digression: I see two ravens EVERYWHERE. There hardly goes by a single day where I see two of them. Not one, not 3, always 2…) boost Knowledge checks, allow you to be considered to be trained, and even for rerolls. The chakra bind to shoulders nets you animal companion ravens through which you can see and speak, use them for line of sight, etc. – awesome utility! And yes, this gets interaction with pre-existing companions right. Liar’s horns enhances Bluff and Diplomacy, and with the head chakra bind, it helps you infiltrate, allowing you to change appearances, etc. – if you invest enough, you can also help your allies this way.

    Mjolnir is a massive thrown warhammer, which rewards essence invested with bonus electricity and sonic damage. The chakra bind to the hands enhances it, and punishes attempts to e.g. sunder it painfully. When bound to the wrists instead, we have a damage upgrade by two die-steps for the bonus damage, as well as the option to immediate action teleport (including mount!) within 10 feet of the target, which might qualify you for a nasty combo. Mjolnir is the unsubtle DPS blast to Gugnir’s versatility, mirroring in design the themes of the mythology. Very nice. Odin’s Noose is AMAZING. As in: Gamechanger. Sure, it helps you with Knowledge, etc. When you first shape the veil, you can reduce your maximum hit point total by 5 to gain a veil FROM ANOTHER VEILWEAVING LIST. And before you scream “unbalanced”, as I was almost tempted to, rest assured that it still has the caveat that you need the slot to shape the veil, so no exclusives scavenging. When bound to the neck chakra, you get (greater) scrying, depending on how much essence is invested. Sif’s Golden hair is a defense veil, enhancing your AC, and provides light, with the headband chakra bind providing AoE hair-based grapple/trip! (One of the current PCs in my campaign, a voodoo-doll style Cha-based halfling witch with dreadlocks will love this…) Sleipnir enhances your Knowledge of the planes and riding skills, with the bind allowing you to conjure forth an ersatz phantom steed with scaling benefits and plane shifting capabilities. Finally, valkyrie’s chain is an excellent, non-speed-reducing armor that scales with essence invested; the chakra bind for the chest slot fortifies you against death effects and also has the breath of life on self trick.

    I love this entire set. It made me seriously contemplate a nexus Asgardian warpriest/champion of the Aesir – not in the sense of the warpriest class (which I dislike), but in the sense of the concept. Absolutely amazing.

    But the book is called “Emperors and Einherjar”, so what about those emperors? Well, unless I am mistaken, these refer to the Xia dynasty’s culture heroes that followed the so-called Three Sovereigns from northern Chinese mythology. (Apologies if I’m mistaken there; it might also refer to Jinmu-Tennō – the material seems to be more inspired by this, than a direct representation!) The kingdom of 5 emperors also comes with valid infusion rules, and is a true neutral realm – and since balance is so important in the cosmology of the City of 7 Seraphs, the pdf does introduce an imho overdue [neutral] subtype, including easy to implement rules. We are introduced to the courts of 5 emperors (pearl, gold, crimson, jade, violet), which all feature a different neutral-component alignment, notes on personae and locations of interest, and here, the conveniently reprinted Amateur Astrologist feat comes into play – unless you already are playing a zodiac: We get a full array of zodiac constellations for the Chinese zodiac, which coincidentally eliminates one of my main gripes with the zodiac class, and they are awesome – tigers with electricity attacks, dual-wiled-enhancing sais, climbing and swimming-enhancing snake armor…okay, these are “cool” options, and from rooster to rat, there are cool things associated with those animals…but guess what? The book manages to make “The Sheep” cool. I kid you not. Customizable armor that can be “fluffed up” to escape grapples and enhance DR and cold resistance granted! That is genuinely USEFUL, fun to play, and utterly hilarious! You can’t touch me! I’m too fluffy!! XDDD And you can fire bolts of lightning that may fly around corners. Don’t laugh at the sheep! Seriously, I need to use this in game. ASAP. “But wait”, you say, what about those companions? Well, the book has companions ranging from auroachs over giant hares to…well, sheep. And yes, these check out.

    And yes, we obviously get a proper convergence and planar attunement as well. It should also be noted that Expanded Cosmology and Noble Astrologist allow you as feats to dabble into these further. Expanded Cosmology has a bug: It grants access to all forms of a constellation in one feat – it is evident that this should be a Zodiac-only feat, and as such, the prerequisite should JUST be constellation class feature; Amateur Astrologist should not be an alternate means of qualifying for this feat.

    If you’re more on the anti-hero side of things, you’ll be happy to know that the dark shogunate as an opposition to the kingdom exists, including a proper convergence. Akasha gets a 5-veil set here: The O-yoroi of the Obsidian Ronin consists of 5 veils, of which only the eclipse has them all available, while other classes miss out on some. Izanami’s koma-geta enhance your own Acrobatics and penalize Reflexes and initiative of enemies capable of seeing you, with the chakra bind to the feet allowing you to ignore difficult terrain, including magic terrain, and enough essence nets you freedom of movement. The bind to the belt also nets you air walk with scaling movement increases. Izanami’s nodachi (shouldn’t that be Izanagi?) causes bleed damage and can potentially blind targets temporarily, with the hand chakra bind adding precision damage versus foes flat-footed or denied their Dexterity bonus, and the body chakra bind making your critical hits save-or-die – and to add insult to injury, those slain may rise as shadows under your command.

    Ronin’s Horo rewards you for moving with bonuses to Intimidate and AC, and the shoulder chakra bind lets you capture ranged attacks like bullets and arrows based on ammunition in the veil. Seppuku is a bleed-damage causing wakizashi, the incarnation of the infamous suicide-blade, with the hands chakra bind allow you to one-hand wield two-handed weapons, and the wrist bind is brutal: Turn the blade onto yourself for serious bleed, and choose a living creature within 60 feet: That creature also starts taking that bleed damage on a failed save! This bleed can only be halted by SERIOUS damage from an ally, or by living through the ordeal. Pretty awesome! The sōmen of shadow is an oni-mask that enhances your Will and makes you count as larger for Intimidate purposes, with the head chakra bind allowing for enlarge person and, provided you have enough essence invested, giant form I.

    The final plane included would be the Cloud stairway, which is supplemented by a unique Style-chain, the Mistmask Style – this style is akashic and begins as a Disguise-enhancer that emphasizes the plane’s kinda-neutral-ground/anything could happen nature, and in its final feat, lets you gain some evolutions. I am 100% confident that this is indeed a nod to Mark Seifter’s brilliant Masquerade Reveler class. Some nitpicks: At one point, the pdf imho hilariously, and that may be an Easter egg, calls the style “Myst Maskstyle” instead of “Mistmask Style”; secondly, only the Mistmask Style feat should have the [Style] descriptor, since styles are limited regarding action economy, what can be active, etc. – the follow-up feats should only have the [Akashic] and [Combat] descriptors. Other than that, a very cool and flavorful style!

    The book also contains an array of akashic feats, which, apart from the ones already mentioned, include a means to be Lattice-Born (tap into nexus convergences), more versatile planar detonations, and feats to enhance characters maintaining multiple veils froma given set: With Disciple of Charon, for example, your attacks become lawful and planar detonation gets bonus damage if you have two or more veils shaped from boatman’s ensemble. I like these, as they reward at least a degree of thematic consistency.

    The pdf concludes with stats of the CR 6 azata bralani, ghaele, sovereign dragon, etc. as references. These are here for completion’s sake (and I think the nogitsune oni was originally released in a Jade regent installment), so that’s certainly appreciated. Less appreciated: The formatting of the stats is messed up. Some are entirely in italics, bolded and non-bolded text are inconsistent, etc. – were it not for the fact that these are only here as reference material, I’d knock down a star for them. I know, it’s irrational, but such obvious guffaws can rile me up. NOTE: For the purpose of this review, I will completely disregard this reference material.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting of all but the reference material is very good – from bonus types to complex rules-language, the top-tier designs here have been properly implemented. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard, and that artwork on the cover? Interior artwork is just as original, and just as high-quality. Seriously impressed. The pdf comes with full nested bookmarks, making navigation simple. The book comes with a second, LITE version for slower pdf-readers.

    Michael Sayre and Christen N. Sowards deliver a phenomenal book here, one that acts as a basic primer for some inspiring planes as well as a grand expansion for particularly the zodiac and nexus; while other classes also get some neat materials, fans of these two classes in particular will celebrate this book. And I count myself among them. The first Akashic Realms book is a top-tier book of evocative, meticulously-balanced material, one that has but one hiccup on a mechanical level I noticed, namely Expanded Cosmology, as noted above. That being said, this book is genuinely inspiring in the best of ways. I now want to make an akashic einherjar with a magical, fluffy sheep-armor. And I mean, I REALLY, REALLY want to make one. This book is VERY crunch-centric, and yet, it evoked more inspiration than many longer flavor-centric books! In short: This is a fantastic offering, and a must-own expansion to the akashic system. If you’re curious about the zodiac, and haven’t taken the plunge, it also acts as a teaser/massive expansion for the class.

    Is it always perfect? No. But it got me more excited about building characters than I’ve been for a long time. Were I to take the formatting blunder in the reference material into account, this’d lose a star, but that would be a punishment for providing a convenience service, something I’ve never done, and which would imho send the wrong signals. As such, my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval. Oh, and since I loved this book as much as I did, this also receives a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2019. Highly recommended!!

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
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    Akashic Realms Volume 2: The Quiet Lands
    by Eric C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2019 10:43:17

    Another fun little expansion book with good options, one of these, I forget which unfortuntately has a reference to something for the Nexus class that hasn't actually been released yet, but otherwise quite happy with the purchase.



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    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Akashic Realms Volume 2: The Quiet Lands
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    Akashic Realms Volume 1: Emperors & Einherjar
    by Eric C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2019 10:41:44

    Fantastic little book, especially if you're interested in the Zodiac class. The setting stuff is neat but not necessarily for every game, the content provided in terms of additional options though is really great.



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    Akashic Realms Volume 1: Emperors & Einherjar
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    Races of the Lost Spheres: Bloodborn
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2019 13:04:38

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This supplement clocks in at 23 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    So, what are Bloodborn? Well, at one point, there were those that came before – collectors of lore and knowledge, this ancient empire implemented a unique plan to withstand the inevitable fall of their empire, electing not for the preservation of the self, but instead of the things they achieved in a supremely selfless gesture. Thus, they crafted the Sourcerunes and the Bloodwells – when these are seeded with the blood of 2 compatible beings, thus generating the bloodborn, heirs to an ancient empire. Mechanically, the bloodborn are augmented humans who receive +2 to an ability score of their choice, and they choose two skills to represent the blood donors – these become class skills. Subject to the GM’s discretion, this might allow the bloodborn to engage in skills familiar to the blood patrons. Due to their unique genesis, bloodborn have a -2 penalty to saving throws versus death effects and can’t reproduce naturally. The dual heritage has a unique effect, with the echoes of conflicting memories growing ever strong. If the bloodborn remain single-classed after 1st level, they incur a circumstance penalty equal to the number of class levels beyond the first to all d20 rolls; if this penalty exceeds the highest mental ability score modifier, they even become insane! This is an AMAZING notion I really like – however, RAW, taking a single other level eliminates this effect when not using the variant multiclassing rules from Pathfinder Unchained. When not using those, consider instead adding the following to the rules-language:

    “When the class level of a multiclassed bloodborn in a single class exceeds the total combined class levels they have in other classes by more than 1, this penalty applies as well.” There, fixed that for non-Pathfinder Unchained multiclassing for you. :)

    Now, what’s with those Sourcerunes? Each bloodborn begins play attuned to two such runes – one of these is the primary Sourcerune, the other being the secondary Sourcerune. 6 Sourcerunes are provided, and yes, these do include drawings that showcase them – love that! Each Sourcerune has a primary and secondary benefit, and the first would be the Atkai, who may use Charisma as governing spellcasting ability score for spellcasting or manifesting, or instead choose a single class and make the supernatural or spell-like abilities be governed by Charisma. The secondary ability score is an alternate favored class option, granting access to a single spell known. The Muo rune may instead use Wisdom as governing modifier as a primary benefit, and as a secondary benefit, we have a channel energy enhancing alternate favored class option. Essal, unsurprisingly, use Intelligence as their governing spellcasting ability score, and the favored class option alternative granted from the secondary benefit nets a racial bonus to a skill – important: This does NOT count as ranks, so no cheesing of prerequisites! Good call there! The Juhn can use Constitution as the governing spellcasting…you get the idea by now, right? The secondary benefit of that family can enhance e.g. ki or arcane pools as an alternate favored class option. The Jhi family can learn to cast via Dexterity and their secondary benefit nets ¼ bonus feat. Sho, as you could picture by now, nets Strength and either a martial weapon proficiency or half an exotic weapon proficiency.

    Okay, before we continue: I do not like seeing the physical ability scores as basis for spellcasting; HOWEVER, considering the limitations and enforced multiclassing of the base race, this had a rather intriguing effect – it rendered a whole plethora of multiclass builds and concepts suddenly valid. While there are bound to be some that are exceedingly potent, the race can help you with other components, and do so rather formidably: Let’s say you’re playing a 15-point-buy campaign, but want to play a class with MAD (Multiple Ability Score Dependence) – this can help somewhat mitigate that. The concept looks horribly broken on paper, and you can indeed generate VERY potent combos – but it’s not as easy as you might think, and it actually works in favor of plenty of unique character concepts – so yeah, I do consider this to be a wide-open, but inspiring component of the race’s design.

    This is not where the pdf stops, though! Instead, we are introduced to the concept of Sourcerune Resonance: Depending on which runes you chose, you get different unique abilities that may be triggered under the right circumstances, which can just be using abilities on consecutive rounds, or e.g. require using abilities from the same class in subsequent rounds, etc. Let’s say, you’ve chosen Atkai as your primary rune, and Muo as your secondary one, right? When you use a spell, granted ability or power within one round of using a spell, granted ability or power from a different class, the second effect will have its level of usage (caster level, manifester level, class level for the purpose of scaling abilities, etc.) increased by 1 – or you can increase the save DC, if any, by +1. If you have Atkai-Juhn (Atkai primary, Juhn secondary), if you thus alternate abilities granted from different classes or use ones from the same class, you get temporary hit points equal to the effect’s level, with the temporary hit points overlapping, so no stacking to high-heavens. That’s good. Even better: The rules language prevents infinite healing exploits! Since the effect’s level is the governing metric, cantrips and the like can’t be abused in conjunction with hit point transfer. Very clever. And before you ask: Yes, the pdf is very much cognizant of the term “granted abilities” not being standard rules language, and defines the term properly. And yep, with the right resonance, you can get Weapon of the Soul and a mindblade.

    This is easily the most mechanically-unique player race I’ve seen in a long, long time. But does the supplemental material hold up?

    Well, first of all, we get not one, not two, but 24 (!!) new [Runic]-feats. Why are there so many? Because the help build on individual Sourcerune Resonances. Let’s take soulgrace, which is the Muo-Jhi resonant power – it provides a +1 luck bonus to a penalized roll; with the proper feat, the duration of this bonus extends to 1 round, or until the penalty ceases. There is also an interesting one, namely Imprint Rune, which lets you meditate with other bloodborn, replacing the feat with a feat the other bloodborn has that you qualify for. Cool! Quicker rune-drafting, bonus to atk and damage when attacking targets that failed against an effect powered by your Soulrune Resonance – we essentially have a feat-based expansion of the base combo-reward engine championed by the base Soulrune Resonance frame. I am not a fan of the feat that lets you increase threat range and multiplier; multiplier should cap at x4, and threat-range should have a caveat that prevents undue stacking…but I don’t consider this feat to be OP. Why? Because it has a maximum daily use limitation – the verbiage here “Before you must reset” is not perfect, but yeah. Really cool: There is a feat that lets you, when resting, switch primary and secondary rune! This essentially provides a gestalt-lite engine, two different modes – love it! Other feats allow for the suppression of visible runes, and as noted before, there is a mindblade lite engine. A lite-version of martial flexibility may also be found – and yep, it’s only available t one resonance, thankfully.

    The pdf also presents two prestige classes, with the first being the bloodstone adept, wjo requires aforementioned feat to reverse primary and secondary rune, as well as 5 ranks in Knowledge (Arcana)…and he needs access to past-life or ancestral memory. The PrC gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, ½ Will-save progression, and 7/10 spellcasting/manifesting/feature progression. In that way, this 10-level PrC is akin to e.g. Everybody Games’ take on PrCs – which is a good thing. The adept may, at first level, enter an 8-hour trance too channel an alternate self. This self has the same statistics and racial bonuses, and the runic self must have one level in common with the bloodrune’s adept, but may redistribute the class levels among the classes they have. The runic self is balanced by having levels equal to character level -2, and may differ from the original character’s alignment by one step. At 6th and 10th level, the character gains an additional such self. At 4th level, these selves may be character level -1, and at 9th level, they may be of equal level of the character. However, the text does not state this – it’s obvious that this was intended, but the “Greater Bloodrune Recall”-text is missing. :(

    At 2nd and 7th level, you get a blood self, which is similar, save that the blood self must share class levels with the bloodborn’s patron donors (the people that spawned the bloodborn), and the alignment of these may diverge up to two steps from the bloodborn, as long as it’s towards the blood patron’s alignment. Cool. 3rd level and 8th level net a bonus feat (though the text does not mention the 8th level). At 5th level, we have the ability to 1/day lets you act as though an alternate runic or blood self, with the full compliment of powers. The text here contradicts the class table, stating that a second daily use is gained at 9th level, while the class table states it’s supposed to be 10th level. The latter is obviously correct.

    The second PrC is the zenith caster, who requires two metamagic feats, Knowledge (Arcana) 5 ranks and access to spells or powers of 2nd level from two or more classes. These fellows get d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level. Interesting: At each level except at 1st and 5th, you gain spells/powers/etc. known as well as caster/manifester level increase as though you advanced in one of your original classes; at 1st and 5th level, you ALSO get an increase in CL/ML etc. in your LOWEST CL/ML/etc. class. The ability also uses the Source concept of many Lost Spheres Publishing books to add some caveats here. At first level, the PrC lets you choose two classes with different Sources, increasing CL (and, I assume ML etc. – though that’s not spelled out this time) by +1. This increases once more at 4th and 7th level. This is called “tidal magic”, and at 2nd level, you can select a metamagic feat – you can sacrifice a spell or spell slot from one of your tidal magic sources to apply the metamagic feat to the other tidal magic source chosen. The class feature includes a limitation on maximum spell-level enhancement, and the complex ability sports a caveat that prevents abuse – you have to sacrifice a spell slot or spell prepared of at least the metamagic feat’s spell adjustment. And yes, does take psionics into account. 5th and 9th level net bonus feats. You select an additional such metamagic feat at 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter. This one is cool – a feasible dual-caster metamagic specialist that is not overpowered. Interesting indeed.

    The pdf also sports two new psionic powers: Destabilize resonance is cool in that it ends your resonance effect as an immediate action to let you make a touch attack that deals, what I surmise from descriptor etc., MUST be force damage – the power does not state this in an obvious oversight, though. Rune lock is also cool and lets you temporarily lock down your resonance effects. The pdf also offers two new spells – hide sourcerune, and the mighty curse seal sourcerune – both do exactly what you think they’d do.

    The final page of the pdf contains new mythic path abilities – universal path abilities include extended resonance duration at 1st tier, and a potent enhancer to the number of runic feats possessed for the purpose of their benefits at 3rd tier. The Archmage path allows as a first tier ability to invoke a drafted rune more often; at 6th tier, we have a cool ability to be reborn as a bloodborn upon being slain. The Master-of-Shapes (see Lost Sphere’s Mythic Paths booklet) gets the 1st tier ability lets you consume a slain bloodborn, gaining essentially another secondary sourcerune – or a primary rune, if you’re no bloodborn. Minor nitpick: The feat referenced here is called Tertiary Attunement, not Tertiary Sourcerune. The Scion-of-High-Sorcery may, with the right 1st tier ability, gain access to the SOurcerunes by tasting a bloodborn’s blood. The Will-of-All, finally, gets a 1st tier ability – and here, something has gone wrong with the sentence structure, and an “r” is missing; essentially, you make a connection between your Sourcerunes and that of a bloodborn , and you get the resonant benefits of this connection.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are a bit of a weak spot of the pdf: While the rules-language deserves to be called good for the most part, there are a couple of obvious formal snafus that, in parts do influence the ability to immediately comprehend some components. Oh, and missing ability? Big no-go. Layout adheres to Lost Spheres Publishing’s two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports multiple unique and high-quality full-color artworks – original pieces, mind you! Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Christen N. Sowards’ bloodborn made me wish for one thing – that this got a final editing pass. Why? Because I genuinely LOVE the race. Yes. Ole’ cynical Endy actually likes a race. The supplement fills a very distinct niche, and does so with panache aplomb – it is ambitious, cool and genuinely fun. The concept is inspiring, and as a whole, I adored the race. This’d be a straight 5 star + seal of approval file, were it not for its glitches, and try as I want to, I can’t ignore them as a reviewer. The core feature of the race requires an additional sentence to smoothly run with non-unchained-multiclassing, and while the engine works smoothly and surprisingly well, there are, time and again, these small hiccups…and a few greater ones. I honestly should be rounding down, but I genuinely, seriously enjoyed the material herein, its snafus notwithstanding – and hence, I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars….and for the race, for what it brings to multiclassing…this does actually get my seal of approval, for those components are seriously inspired.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Races of the Lost Spheres: Bloodborn
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    Classes of the Lost Spheres: Paramour
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2019 12:53:27

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Classes of the Lost Spheres-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover,1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

    All right, so, the paramour, chassis-wise, gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, and if they have a Heartbound partner, they get a weapon proficiency of that character as well. They have ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, and add their Charisma bonus to AC while in light or no armor and unencumbered, which increases by +1 at 3rd level, and every 6 levels thereafter, for a total maximum of +3.

    Wait, heartbound? Well, yeah, this class is all about the power of love, and as such further builds on Transcendent 10: Heartbound feats. As a brief recap: Heartbound feats require that both partners have a Heartbound feat to work…but they don’t have to have the SAME feat, which makes them more flexible than, say, teamwork feats. Speaking of which: At first level, the paramour selects a heartbound, teamwork or combat feat as a bonus feat, with an additional feat gained at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Teamwork feats must be shared by the partner, though they may be retrained as Forlorn feats (see Transcendent 10: Forlorn Feats).

    The unique component of the class engine here would be “Tides of Passion”, which builds on the new “Ardent” condition – this condition is triggered upon seeing the Heartbound partner take damage, gain a negative condition, or by dropping beneath 50% of your maximum hp. This condition is exclusive to beings with Heartbound feats or paramour levels, and grants a +1 morale bonus to saving throws “or -2 versus mind-affecting emotion effects” – pretty sure that this should either read “or a +2 morale bonus…” or “and a -2 penalty…” Which of these is correct, though? I can’t say. Being ardent for more than Constitution modifier + paramour levels leaves a character fatigued. This is problematic on several levels. For one, the condition is not actively triggered by a character – RAW it just happens. This potentially can lock out e.g. Heartbound barbarians out of their rage…which, come to think of it, kinda makes sense on a narrative level, guess I finally know why Conan took so long to settle down. However, on a mechanical perspective, being locked out of your class feature due to fatigue is not fun. Additionally, the condition specifies no terms by which you can dismiss/end it – so, if you’re stuck in a really long battle, you’re screwed, particularly since the fatigue incurred has no rage caveat – it has no duration, which makes it default to “until rested”; again, very problematic.

    Anyhow, tides of passion grants you a 1d4 pool, which increases by +1d4 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. When you get the ardent condition, you roll your dice, and commit the result as a free action. At first level, these may be committed as temporary hit points. Complaint here: As temporary hit points, they should have a caveat that prevents their redistribution to avoid abuse via triggering of negative condition-ardent and infinite hit point redistribution.

    Starting at 2nd level, and ever even level thereafter, the paramour receives a so-called expression. Multiple expression benefits from multiple paramours don’t stack, and expressions that interact with psionics temporarily grant the psionic subtype. 17 expressions are provided. There is a means to add fire damage to melee or ranged attacks – and if you lose your love and become Forlorn, this instead works via cold. Channel heartfire lets you fire the committed points as rays, with the bonus to atk increasing the longer the expression is maintained. This should have a maximum caveat. On the other hand, I really liked the means that lets you apply the dice result as a shield bonus to your adjacent partner. There also is Heart’s Magic, which lets you choose one spellcasting class and spell. You can expend 2 points from your tides of passion per spell level to gain the ability to cast it as a spell-like ability, using your paramour class level as caster level. Each time you use this to create the same spell effect, you increase the cost by 1, and the spell can’t exceed in spell level the number of dice in your tides of passion pool. The ability can’t duplicate expensive material components. Minor nitpick (and I mean minor) – its reference to the same exhausted effect might be considered to be a bit subtle. While both are not perfect, I certainly respect how their engines operate, and frankly, enjoyed them both for their complex operations. The psionic version here is different, instead granting you Wild Talent and a power from a chosen class, with a surge-lite enervation as a downside.

    Heart’s resolve acts as Iron Will for purposes of prerequisites, and lets you apply the tides of passion dice as a morale bonus to Will saves; alternatively, you can apply the dice as a bonus to damage with atk, SU, powers and spells versus the target that triggered ardent. Inspiring cry takes a swift action to activate, and allows you to outsource your tides of passion, heart’s redoubt or one expression benefits to an ally in close range, losing the benefits during that time, with lingering effects lingering on the ally instead of you. Another expression nets you a teamwork, with the heartbound partner counting as having it; with inspiring cry, you can make the partner actually have it as a swift action – okay, for how long? No duration is stated. We also have the option to gain an Intelligence-, Dexterity-, Charisma- or Strength-based skill as a class skill, to which the dice may apply. Another expression lets you use tides of passion dice as sneak attack dice for the purpose of prerequisites. Okay. Another expression lets you have a true friend, and you get Heartbound benefits for this fellow. Another expression allows you to commit two points from the pool to add a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls for 1 round. This one suffers from not getting the bonus type verbiage right – only the highest level morale bonus applies, and in the absence of a direct stacking with itself caveat, this does not work as intended.

    Heartbound is gained at 3rd level (and the ability name is a bit unfortunately chosen); it also does not state at which level it is gained in the text, requiring defaulting to the class table. The ability nets you btw. a ranger’s Track or an at-will status for the heartbound partner. At 7th level, we have 1/day overflowing, allowing you to use a single swift action to commit tides points to temporary hit points and activate up to two expressions, gaining an additional use every 6 levels thereafter.

    9th level nets the aforementioned lingering passion ability, which extends the duration of expressions and the temporary hit points by one round (two rounds at 17th level), which is odd in conjunction with spells, abilities and powers with a duration greater than a round – are these supposed to last only for a round? If not, is their duration increased by a round? This is odd. Starting at 10th level, 12 so-called greater expressions may be selected, including untyped damage boosts (sigh), temporary boosts to Wisdom, Intelligence, Dexterity or Constitution, granting the heartbound partner Wild Talent’s power points…yay? The power is RAW not included, and at 10th+ level, the scant few power points won’t cut it. These also include an upgrade for the atk-boost, better shield bonus granting, and a means to prevent the expenditure of spells/powers. There also is a Whirlwind Attack variant and more teamwork sharing.

    There are three capstones provided, which include additional benefits, redirecting effects to you, away from your partner, and upgrades for magic.

    The class comes with the narcissist archetype, basically a partner-less paramour with slightly better defenses and three unique expressions (regular, 10th level greater, capstone). It’s a decent system tweak, but not exciting. The pdf contains 20 Heartbound feats, and their balance is unfortunately as wonky as I feared. While in psychic or telepathic contact with your partner, and the fellow gets psionic focus, you can “roll to achieve psionic focus.” In Pathfinder, you don’t roll to gain your psionic focus. Even if the details in the verbiage worked, though, this’d be broken, as it can be used to bypass one of the most crucial balancing components of the psionics engine; at the very least, this should be level 15+. What about free heightening/extending of spells etc. whenever your partner targets you? On the other hand, we have the option to select a single spell from the partner for the tides of passion-granted spellcasting. Filial Devotion allows you to treat an ally as being heartbound to you. I did like the synergy with the Echo-class that one yielded. Being able to cast personal effects on the partner is super strong for multiclass characters (since the feat does not limit the ability to the paramour’s lite-spellcasting)…you get the idea. Puzzling: There is a rage-sharing feat that seems to have overlooked how the ardent condition and rage don’t work with each other. Beyond these heartbound feats, we have also 3 class feats that allow for split expressions, gain an extra expression – you get the idea.

    The final page is devoted to a huge list f favored class options, which include exotic races like the darakhul, the psionic races, noral, vishkanyas, etc. Some entries here labor under the misconception of there being a thing such as “holy” damage – there is not. Other than such snafus, these generally did tend to be solid.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the supplement gets high-complexity operations right and bungles the basics, going so far as to undermining the basic foundation of the class’s engine. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with nice, original full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with extensive, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable.

    This is an early work by Christen N. Sowards, and it unfortunately shows; where the echo class was rough around the edges, but functional, the paramour’s issues at the very core of its per se interesting engine hamper its functionality. Additionally, its individual options, be they expressions or feats, are simply not balanced well. And that is a genuine pity, for I really ADORE the theme of the devoted partner; I think we need more of that in gaming. And the bits of genuine talent and smart components? They are here. This class is far from unsalvageable, but it will require a serious design addendum to work as intended. All in all, I can’t recommend this class, unless you’re willing to invest your time balancing and streamlining the content. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [2 of 5 Stars!]
    Classes of the Lost Spheres: Paramour
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    Book of Beyond Work-in-Progress Subscription
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/18/2019 08:22:53

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    Okay, so, now that I’ve finished covering the entirety of the Book of Beyond series at the request of my patreon supporters, let’s talk about the subscription/bundle offering as a whole. If you want to see detailed reviews of the components, check out the individual reviews – if you click on the “Book of Beyond”-tag on my homepage (or search for it, you’ll have them all conveniently listed.

    The greatest weakness of the series, as a whole, is that it mainly suffers from its editing not being as precise as it’d deserve to be; there are a lot of little niggles to complain about, and yes, there are a few options herein that imho go too far regarding power-levels.

    That being said, Christen N. Sowards’ massive Book of Beyond series is genuinely much better than I expected from the small indie outfit that is Lost Spheres Publishing. He has not only grown as an author here, he has retained a core strength of his designs: Never be boring.

    The Book of Beyond series manages to tickle out a lot of new and innovative concepts out of good ole’ Pathfinder’s first edition, and it genuinely displays a love for third party content, for subsystems.

    And, of course, there is the question of bang for buck. You get two really creative, high-concept mythic paths, a ton of cool occult and psionic material, and then there is the massive luminal power book, which is itself chock-full with creative and experimental options; not all of these may be for every game, but for those looking for something creative, such as the Liminal Gestalt-lite engine? Heck, you will grin from ear to ear.

    I won’t be using the entirety of this series in a given game, but I sure as hell will continue using content from this series. In fact, in spite of the massive amount of work that analyzing this was, I found myself genuinely enjoying my time spent analyzing this.

    If you and your group consider yourself to be veterans of Pathfinder’s first edition, do yourself a favor and check this out – it may be rough around the edges, but it genuinely rewards you for sticking with it. In spite of my OCD-frustration with the editing snafus and glitches, I found myself looking forward to returning to this series time and again, and each of the books sports several components I sure as hell will be using. And yes, this series requires that a GM be capable of assessing the power of individual options in the context of their game – as noted, many options herein reveal their full potential in the hands of capable players.

    So yeah, this is rough; it’s not perfect, but I have always preferred ambition and innovation over formally perfect, but safe and boring files. As such, my final verdict for the entire series will be 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Book of Beyond Work-in-Progress Subscription
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    Book of Beyond: Psionic Paths
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/18/2019 08:22:08

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Book of Beyond-series clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 6.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 29.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.

    All right, after a brief introduction to the concept of power source origins, we start with lists of psionic powers, organized by classes, then levels. Particularly fans of the cryptic and dread will be rather happy to note quite a bunch of material for their classes. It should be noted that different classes might have different power point costs for the powers herein. Why are source origins relevant? Well, for example, disruption shield nets resistance bonuses to saving throws versus effects from a given source – the augment btw. allows for additional source origins to be specified, increase the bonus, or manifest the power as an immediate action. Duality lets you select an additional source origin, making your psionic abilities count as though drawing from that as well. What about imprinting a spell from one spellcaster to another sharing the same source? Or care for source interdiction, which locks out one source? Yeah, the latter in particular makes a lot more sense to me than the default flat antimagic shield. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Let’s take a look at more of those powers, shall we? Actify penumbra lets you lace shadow plane effects in shadow creatures, shadow spell- or fear-effects, and on the following round, damage caused by the targeted effect or creature takes 2d6 additional damage; shadow creatures also get a boost to saving throws and natural armor – the boost to saving throws is not properly codified regarding bonus type, but the power does come with two different augments. Very cool, on the other hand – amplified occlusion targets a creature and makes it perceive cover etc. as larger; astral epiphany nets a summoned creature a combat feat for which it qualifies, and with the augment, you can add feats on top of that, using the original feat granted by the power as a prerequisite for the follow up feats. HOWEVER, these follow-up feats RAW do NOT qualify for further prerequisites, so you still can’t get an entire feat-tree this way.

    There are also some tactically potent high-level tricks herein, like astral redirection, which allows you to redirect spells, powers and supernatural ability with a touch range. I love this, though its per se precise rules-language is missing an “if”, which can render understanding it a bit tougher than it should be. This is, alas, not the only instance of such a glitch: In the next power, we have a “level” missing – it might be obvious what “1st astral construct” means to some, but I can also see this cause confusion. Diversify summons is an interesting one that lets you change summon monster/nature’s ally critters called forth, with augments allowing you to affect higher spell level versions. I like it, because it can be used defensively and offensively, and the augments allow you to take control as well – and yes, unwilling summoners get a save. What about using summoned creatures to erupt with force damage. This can be very, very strong when handled in a smart manner, but is solidly situated and requires setting up.

    Autoarchive is interesting, in that it allows you to engrave a SPELL (not, that’s not a typo!) Spell Mastery style in the astral plane – and this can be [Network]’d, and with augment and power points expended, you can overwrite your prepared spells with encoded ones and encode higher level spells. What about cleric/oracle-specific buffs? Yeah, notice something? These powers don’t operate exclusively in the psionics paradigm – they are explicitly designed to provide interesting interactions with other classes. What about the immediate action dweomerfreeze, which lets you suspend spell effects with a proper manifester level check– and personal spell effects may be defrozen; this can allow for some serious cool tactical combos. This is so cool, save that it should probably specify that the manifester level check is against the target’s caster level check, or 10 + caster level. RAW, the check is against the caster level, which is ridiculous and would allow even a mid-level character suspend a level 20 caster’s effect. Then again, that MAY be intended, considering it’s a 4th/5th level power, so in dubio pro reo applies.

    Speaking of interesting: There is a psionic variant of mirror image, called dusk duplicants – the interesting thing here, beyond augments, is that there is another power that allows you to lace spells or powers in your duplicants, which release upon the duplicant’s destruction. In the hands of tactically-minded, clever players (or NPCs!) this can be gold. Speaking of which: What about an echo-class style mimicking of effects, save that it’s a quasi-real [shadow]-version? Or what about a shadow-based blue magic style ability that is strenuous on the manifester, but lets you gain low-CR supernatural abilities? Indeed, the themes of light and dark add a unique dimension here: With echoed illumination, you can target a shadow magic effect, and generate an illumination double of the effect – the less real the shadow effect, the more real the illumination effect will be: If a shadow effect, for example, is 30% real, the illumination double will be 70% real. This is potent, and another example of unique combo tricks championed herein. Super interesting: There is a power that lets you gain an idea of a proposed course of action for one round, making future shadows one of the most GM-friendly and yet super useful clairsentience/divination effects I’ve seen in a while. Kudos!

    Cool: What about a low-level means to get psychoprosthetics? That power is so cool, I think it could carry its own archetype. Using power points to replenish your ally’s spells, scattering senses to see through multiple realities…did I mention the massive 4 shadow infusion powers? These can instill descriptor-based weaknesses, decrease how real targets are, erode their defenses, etc. What about rendering incorporeal targets corporeal? Or what about forcing a transitive plane to overlap with yours temporarily? Or what about making effects less real? This is a pretty damn awesome selection of powers.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting on a formal level are okay, but not impressive – I noticed a couple of typos, missing single words, etc., some of which rendered the rules slightly harder to grasp That being said, on a rules language level, the book fares MUCH better, and manages to juggle high-complexity concepts with more panache than you’d expect. Indeed, apart from nitpicks, this book does a pretty good job in that department. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a few rather nice full-color artworks included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Christen N. Sowards never does boring or redundant – and this holds true herein more than I expected it to. This book provides a broadening of psionics in themes, with particularly the transitive planes becoming more important; the source mechanics, as noted before in my reviews of Lost Spheres Publishing books, makes sense to me as well. The powers herein are rarely straightforward – and are better off for it. These are made for tactical combo gameplay and emphasize the tactics of the party, emphasize cooperative aspects of the game, and I genuinely love seeing that. Conversely, the power level of these powers is often very much contingent on the system mastery of your group: In the hands of the right group, these can deliver devastating, brutal combos; that being said, you’ll have to work for those. There is a great reward ratio for smart players here, and while powerful, I personally really, really liked this book.

    If this had received a thorough sanding off of its rough patches, this’d be a 5 stars + seal of approval file, but as provided, I can’t go higher than 4.5 stars. If you don’t mind the typos and small glitches, round up; otherwise, round down. Personally, I’ll round up due to in dubio pro reo, and due to plenty of these effects making me come up with some seriously cool strategies for my adversaries…

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Book of Beyond: Psionic Paths
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    Lost Paths: Voltaic
    by Vladimir R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2019 21:29:08

    A different approach

    DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a free PDF provided by the author and the publisher, which in no way had an influence on the final score.

    The Voltaic is a classbook by Lost Spheres Publishing, written by some of the authors of the City of Seven Seraphs. While it builds on materials from other books, namely the Path of War initiator system by Dreamscarred Press fueled by the Stamina rules from Pathfinder Unchained, it presents a different approach to combat but, is it any good? Read on!

    Before going to the contents of the book, I have to mention that I come from The Tome of Battle, the D&D 3.5 predecessor of the Path of War. I have both books, but have no experience neither playing nor mastering a Pathfinder initiator. Also, while I have experience with some parts of Pathfinder Unchained, the Stamina system is not one of them. I, however, have the Beyond Monks 3.5 books, which used stunning fist as a kind of currency to power special attacks, so the idea is the same. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Tome of Battle/Path of War present a special maneuver system similar to spells, but for martials; in short, it is a way to give cool toys for warriors so they don’t full attack all the time. The Stamina system is similar, giving old feats combat tricks empowered by stamina points, thus presenting more options for warriors in general but specifically for fighters.

    What’s inside? 40 pages of content for x, which include:

    -The Voltaic base class. This class looks like a Frankenstein monster on paper, having the Martial Flexibility of Brawlers, the maneuvers of initiators, and the Stamina rules intended for Fighters, but they strangely blend really well with the theme of the class, a sum greater than its parts. Like all initiators, it has a powerful chassis, having d10 HD, good BAB, 4 skill points per level, 2 good saves, and the proficiencies of a fighter, including tower shields. Strangely enough, the Path of War includes a new Knowledge specialty, martial, which is not a class skill of Voltaics.

    They gain Stamina via the free Spark of Inspiration new feat, which not only gives them a free Eye of the Storm stance from the new discipline, but also a Stamina pool and the ability to “spark”, which I will cover later. There is a slight glitch here, since under the bonus feat it is mentioned that you cannot take Voltaic levels if you don’t meet the prerequisites, but the feat has a +1 BAB as one of them, so RAW it means you have to have a +1 BAB to take a Voltaic level.

    Speaking of stances, the Voltaic gets some free ones over their careers, 5 over the free Eye of the Storm. They also get to add some electricity damage to their attacks, which goes up from 1d4 to 1d12 over the levels and stacks with shocking enhancement and the like, and also can add the first roll to their AC and even their saves at very high levels. Finally, they get a built-in archetype called Path of the Storm, which covers 4 archetypical warrior roles for a variety of builds and dictates the class’ capstone. Overall, a very powerful, versatile class when compared to a vanilla Fighter, but in the context of the Path of War it feels balanced.

    After the class there are several favored class bonuses for a couple of races, some core, some from the Co7S and one from Akashic Realms 2. Unlike other books where Michael Sayre has worked on, this one doesn’t include the role of the class within the race’ society (bummer).

    -8 NPCs. Following FCBs, we get a whole page dedicated to Co7S Voltaic NPCs, 8 to be precise, with enough information to build them and customize them for your games. My favorite are the mirrorkin whose names are palindromes.

    -The Sparking System (variant initiation). The star of the book, sparking is a cool, innovative way to learn martial maneuvers. Sparkers have, like all initiators, maneuvers known (Initiator ability modifier + lvl) and maneuvers readied (2+½ lvl). However, you start your career with 0 maneuvers, and when you roll a 20 in an attack roll or a skill check in combat, or a foe fails with a 1, you get a chance to “spark”. What is that? When you spark, you learn a maneuver from a level you have access to and get it readied, coming to you as a flash of inspiration. If you would like to learn a new maneuver, you will have to leave some of your readied maneuvers empty. The other difference is that, unlike standard initiators, your maneuvers are never spent; instead of spending maneuvers, you power them by using Stamina points (1 per maneuver level), which you get from the Spark of Initiation.

    This approach addresses one of my least liked parts of the Initiation system, which is the lack of tactical differentiation of using your highest level maneuver instead of a lower one. Do I start with the big guns and risk running low of steam? Or do I use my low level tricks over and over to always have something cool to do? This replaces the highest maneuver cycling that I saw happening in my Tome of Battle days (100 fire damage? again?). This system also works better as a story telling device, giving plenty of options for a good Game Master to describe why John the Voltaic learned X maneuver when Z happened. Heck, maybe Voltaics are the first initiators, inventing maneuvers from circumstances, which later could be codified and taught to more traditional initiators.

    There are a couple of things I don’t agree with, though. One, is that there is no mention of what disciplines can Voltaics or other Sparkers can learn maneuvers from, and second, Stamina gauge starts full; something I really like from other systems where you use your most powerful maneuvers to close a fight after building up some kind of gauge or pool, which could be easily house ruled by having the Stamina pool start at half and then letting users get an extra point or two every round by doing or not doing certain actions.

    -3 Spark Feats: Two are the foundations of the Sparking system (free for Voltaics), while the other expands upon it. Perfect to dip in the system or jump on the boat for existing characters. However, the base Spark of Inspiration feat, in the context of what a feat gives you access to, is really powerful and game changing. Any kind of access to the feat should be considered beforehand.

    -3 archetypes, covering the fighter, the rogue and the unchained monk, all of them “sparkers” who get Spark of Inspiration as a bonus feat. The Unlimited Warrior archetype for the fighter gets more skillpoints, an ability to prevent a deadly attack with Stamina points, and can spark at will and piggyback a combat maneuver when sparking with a strike. Deathseeker rogues have a kind of meta-sneak attack, where they can change the damage to do cool things like changing d6s for d4s to ghost touch, or d6s to d10s but dealing mind-affecting damage. Finally, Volt Dancer monks seem pulled out straightly from a Manhua (Chinese comic), being able to deal stormy damage (cold, electricity or sonic) with their attacks instead of physical, and can even fly!

    -The Spark of Battle martial discipline. It is associated with the Acrobatics skill, and with close weapons and heavy and light blades. Apart from that, Initiators who have the Spark of Inspiration feat can spend Stamina on some maneuvers to empower them! How cool is that? Anyway, it has 33 maneuvers, and I will cover the lowest and highest level stance, plus one maneuver of each type. Eye of the Storm is the 1st level stance and it just let you “spark” easier, plus it is a freebie when you get the Spark of Inspiration feat. Stance of Storms let you “airwalk”, with the possibility to spend Stamina to walk faster (airjog?).

    Electric Slide is the lowest boost, letting you move through an occupied space, making an opposed Acrobatics check against your opponent’s CMD to knock him down, with Stamina increasing the movement. Volt Dance is one of the few counters this discipline has (4 I think?), of 3rd level, which lets you teleport to the origin of an electrical attack if within 60 ft., and giving you a free attack if within 30 ft., doubling both distances with the expenditure of a Stamina point. Stigmata of Storm is the highest maneuver in the discipline, a 9th level strike, that gives you five attacks, beginning at full and adding a -2 to each subsequent attack. Each successful attack does normal weapon dmg plus 5d6 sonic AND 5d6 electricity damage, plus extra effects depending on the number of successful attacks, including bleed damage, blindness, deafness, and these two can be permanent… AND you can spend an extra Stamina point (why wouldn’t you if you are already spending 9?) to change the bonus damage dice from d6 to d10. Woe to the one at the receiving end of this one LOL. To be fair, we are talking about 18th level adventuring and you would be spending a lot of resources, which takes us back to my preferences of “sparking” over normal Initiation because of maneuver cycling.

    In Tome of Battle some of the higher level maneuver had pre-requisites, normally a certain number of maneuvers from the same discipline, but I noticed none here, and I don’t know about Path of War, but that will let the cherry picking of maneuvers via feats.

    We also get references to the Initiating system for people who don’t own any of those books, including everything you have to know to play initiators, including 3 other disciplines, being Eternal Guardian, Thrashing Dragon and Solar Wind. The formatting of these 3 disciplines’ maneuvers’ lists differ, as do the presentation of the maneuvers themselves compared to how Spark of Battle presents them alphabetically while the other three are by level. While it’s mostly a cosmetic difference, in the lists each maneuver includes its type (stance, boost, strike or counter), which is very handy.

    Of Note: The Voltaic is an interesting class, as is the Spark of Battle discipline, but the real gem of the book is the sparking system as I mentioned.

    Anything wrong?: The formatting differences of the disciplines is a bit grating, but not too bad. Also, the power and fantasy level of martials is going way up, which may not be suitable for some tables.

    What I want: While I’m not the biggest fan of the Path of War, I would like a system that works like the Momentum engine which slowly fills a pool; so, do you rock now? Or do you own later? I mentioned an option before, so I may fiddle with that to fine-tune Sparking to my personal tastes.

    What cool things did this inspire?: As always, great design inspires great stories and characters. I will try to convince my group to try Path of War in PF but with sparkers, to avoid the old 9th level maneuver cycling. The storytelling possibilities of Sparking and its unstable nature will surely be game changer.

    Do I recommend it?: IMHO, this book is for people who want to add more oomph and mysticism to martials, or want to introduce the Path of War in a different way, or for users of PoW that want to try new things. If you are in one of those groups, I can recommend it 100%. I would give this book 4 electrical stars, because of the things I mentioned; however, this book has really, really good art and layout and the maneuvers visuals are just plain cool, so I will add half a star to that, rounded up.



    Rating:
    [5 of 5 Stars!]
    Lost Paths: Voltaic
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    Book of Beyond: Liminal Power
    by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/23/2019 13:23:22

    An Endzeitgeist.com review

    This installment of the Book of Beyond-series clocks in at 76 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 6 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 66 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

    This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by one of my patreon supporters.

    As before in the series and in Lost Spheres Publishing’s offerings, we begin with a brief synopsis of sources of power, that, in a way, pre-empted how PF2 thinks about magic, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned – if e.g. the source of power is entropic, that’ll be a different experience and flavor from drawing power from the temporal. This is further underlined by correlating sources of power with planes, with some suggestions provided. In a way, these source super-descriptors, as the pdf rightly points out, could be likened akin to e.g. magic being arcane, divine or psychic. In a welcome notion I did not expect, things like e.g. ki are contextualized within the super-framework thus presented. And yes, I know that many groups won’t mind, but I can’t help but grin when such operations are concerned. Perhaps it’s my academic background, but my games tend to codify and quantify magic and such sources of power in a similar manner, emphasizing a kind of “rule”-array that governs how they behave and function. But that as an aside. This also extends to explaining the difference between Astral and Ether, and the respective correlations to psionic and psychic disciplines, respectively, which is once more a helpful way to think about their co-existence. Indeed, this extends to noting how classes and potential retrograde users can be codified within this frame of thought, INCLUDING classes such as the shadow-themed classes by e.g. Interjection Games’ Ultimate Antipodism, Rogue Genius Games’ shadow-themed classes of Lost Spheres’ own shadow-themed offerings – which, to my pleasant surprise, included the echo in that category. Indeed, the pdf then proceeds to explain signature expressions of transitive planes within the context of magic.

    The theoretical underpinnings that grant context to the material in question out of the way, we begin with a selection of 8 archetypes, with the first being the darkside defender fighter, who replaces the bonus feat gained at first level with Liminal Self. This is a character created as per the cohort rules outlined in the Leadership feat (or, if you’re using Everybody Games’ Ultimate Charisma, the rules there); this character only exists in a dreamscape in mind and spirit, a part of the unconscious mind. As a full round action, you may relinquish control to said character. You choose one mental ability score modifier that this entity is in charge of, as per mind swap, for up to one round per selected ability score modifier. (As a nitpick, this is referred to as “attribute modifier”; the original self, meanwhile, is set adrift in the unconscious dreamscape, and might potentially (subject to GM’s discretion), be accessed via dream-related spellcasting, such as dream travel. At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the character gets to call upon this Liminal Self an additional time per day, up to the chosen ability score modifier rounds per such daily activation. However, doing so is super-draining, and renders the character fatigued as well as expending all power points, spell slots and daily use abilities. Kudos: stacking of fatigue-related conditions is properly codified. The feat may be chosen multiple times, with each additional time offering an additional such persona. In essence, this feat provides an engine for limited gestalting, which is, obviously, system-immanently powerful, but the stringent limitations imposed upon this feat do mean that this option retains viability without breaking the game. Personally, I would have appreciated a caveat that prevents exploitation by characters that are immune to fatigue, but this is a relatively simple caveat to add, and the conditions are the least of the feat’s drawbacks. So yeah, color me duly impressed. Since this feat-based Liminal Self engine features in quite a few of the archetypes, let us take a slight detour and discuss the feats herein that build on this pretty potent chassis, all right?

    At 5th level, you may take Persistent Self, which increases Liminal Self’s duration intervals to minutes per level instead of rounds per level…which is a very unfortunate inconsistency, as the base feat’s duration is not tied to levels, but to ability score modifiers – so, which is it? That being said, it remains possible to extrapolate the use of the feat properly: Since Persistent Self increases the interval unit of activity from rounds to minutes as its benefit, it may still be employed, though the confusion resulting from this inconsistency can be a bit jarring. Potent Sleeper, also available as soon as 5th level, allows you to make Liminal Selves be within 1 level of your character’s level. Unconscious Awakening lets you roll an opposed Will-save versus the Liminal Self persona when you have the unconscious condition – if the Liminal Self wins, it awakens while you are unconscious, and if the core persona’s body is below 0 hit points, it gets half its maximum hit points as temporary hit points for the duration of control. This can be a pretty potent last second save effort, and might be construed as too much for lower-powered games, but within the context of the material presented herein (and the core feat’s already potent quasi-gestalting), this should not break games featuring this engine. Sleepwalker’s Soul requires both the former feat and Persistent Self, and makes the Liminal Self take control for the entire duration of your sleeping, but at the cost of waking fatigued/exhausted, etc. Finally, Lasting Manifestation, which requires Persistent Self, allows you to choose to have the Liminal Self in control until it is subjected to a “negative condition” – a list here would have been appreciated.

    Okay, got all of that? To summarize: The Liminal Self feat tree is essentially a (relatively) balanced attempt on introducing a gestaling-lite engine, and it does its job relatively well. That explanation out of the way, let us resume talking about the archetypes for which this is relevant. The darkside defender’s Liminal Self may not be a full BAB-class, and when the character drops a foe to 0 hp, contested Will-saves with the Liminal Self are in order; if the Liminal Self wins, it takes over as a free action, and remains in control until affected by damage or negative conditions. Okay, cool. … Wait. There is an issue here. Did you spot it? I did provide a bit of a hint before. You see, standard Leadership assumes 7th level as prerequisite, and as such, the standard cohort-engine doesn’t work too well for low levels. (Read: Not at all.) That would render the Liminal Self engine nonoperational at low levels, and indeed, also affect archetypes herein. I honestly almost didn’t notice that, though. Why? Because I’ve been playing with Alexander Augunas’ excellent leadership-from-level-1 rules, which can be found in Ultimate Charisma, for AGES. And with those, the engine is fully operational. So yeah, let me state this clearly: You should be using Ultimate Charisma if you want to make use of the Liminal Self engine. Without it, the engine has a big blind spot.

    The feats at 2nd and 16th level are replaced with the ability to select a weapon. A masterwork quasi-real shadow weapon manifests when the Liminal Self takes control. The weapon turns magical at 6th level. 3rd level also provides a kind of shadow armor, with the type improving at higher levels, replacing armor training and mastery.

    Also at 2nd level, we have the dark rage class feature, which is essentially a barbarian’s rage that triggers when the Liminal Self takes control, save that it provides a +2 bonus to Strength and Constitution and upgrades that to +4 at 12th, +6 at 20th level. Additionally, this counts as a rage and rage power, and allows the archetype to take the Extra Rage Power feat with 5 of the fighter class’ bonus feats. This replaces bravery and the bonus feats gained at 6th and 12th level. I kinda like this, but without enhancements of weapons and armor, the shadowy accoutrements are not exactly useful; this is a cool concept, but one that essentially needed to be a full-blown class hack, with more tricks for the shadowy items. On the plus-side, as written, it is an archetype that, despite of the gestalt-angle’s sheer power, retains its viability even in more conservative games, which can be considered to be a big plus. Whether the totality here is a bug or feature, ultimately, is contingent on your personal preferences.

    The grinning shadow rogue archetype also is based on Liminal Self (replacing trapfinding), and the Liminal Self may not have sneak attack; the archetype has the same chance for the Liminal Self to take control, and also has the shadow-weapon-angle; only this time around, the poor rogue loses two rogue talents; considering that it’s, well, the rogue class, the archetype would have done well to not neuter the poor class further with the none-too-potent weapon replacing two vital talents. Indeed, the archetype is nigh identical with the one for the fighter, save that the rage here is more unique, as benefits apply to Strength and Dexterity instead, and its rage power options pertain to rogue talents instead of feats.

    Psions can choose from one of two archetypes, with the first being the mirrormind, who replaces discipline and discipline talents with mirror power: This supernatural ability lets the character choose one type of source super-type, as per classified in the introduction. The mirrormind may expend psionic focus to imprint a spell or power of the chosen source they witness in use. No action to activate is given, though free and immediate are my guesses; then again, readying might be an option as well, so some sort of clarification would be nice. For one round per point of Intelligence (NOT Intelligence modifier!), the mirrormind can manifest this power or spell by paying twice its level or power point cost. The level of the spell or effect is the same as witnessed, and material components of 1gp or more need to be supplied. That being said, RAW, only the LEVEL of the power or spell is constant; this may either be intentional or not, but RAW, the mirrormind could use powers and spells with multiple forms of augmentation and level modification via e.g. metamagic/psionic tricks. I am not sure if that is intended, as the “mirror”-name evokes a theme of copying the exact parameters of the witnessed effect, but either interpretation is possible. 7th and 14th level provides an additional source that may be duplicated. 10th level allows the mirrormind to retain one such imprint indefinitely, and as a capstone, they may retain one indefinite imprint per spell/power level. (As a nitpick: A reference to the previous class feature is erroneously called “power” AND capitalized – the combination of these two rules-language slips tripped me up for a second.)

    The second psion archetype would be the phrenic surger, who loses the bonus feats gained at 1st, 5th and every 5 levels thereafter. The archetype gains a phrenic pool equal to ½ class level + Intelligence modifier, and a phrenic amplification, plus an additional one at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. For the purpose of amplification, the power point cost is correlated to spell levels. All in all, an interesting engine-tweak.

    While we’re on the subject of psionic options, there also is a new aegis archetype herein: The mnemonic guardian does not create an astral suit, and instead instills its powers with relics, making it feel more occult in a way. The archetype is primarily defined by unique customizations: For 1 point, we have ancestral focus, which nets you a lite-version of an occultist’s mental focus pool, and indeed, ties in with the 2-point customization that nets an occultist implement school that nets the resonant and base focus power to the armor. The other customizations, ranging from 1 point to 4, are a tree, and also build on the 2-point customization, allowing for the expenditure of power points to manifest the respective implement school’s spells as psychic spells.

    While we’re on the subject of occultist-adjacent psionic options, there also is a new wilder-surge within, the nostalgic surge; the wilder forms a bond with an item, and the wilder may invest power points in said object while surging, with surge modifier applied. For one round per class level, the wilder gains the resonant power bonus of a single occultist implement correlating to the item. Psychic enervation dazes the wilder until the end of their turn, and loses the invested power points. Surge bond nets a spell from the occultist’s spell list,, which may be manifested at the wilder’s level while the object has power points invested. Okay. At what cost? No idea. Extra Focus Power is gained at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. I like the basic premise, but this needs some finetuning to work as intended.

    The pdf also presents a new occultist archetype, the shadowed keeper, who has a massive twist to its core engine, altering the focus-engine and introducing temporary focus, which may be invested as a swift action – it basically makes the investment operate with a higher oscillation. The shadowed keeper has ½ class level (mo minimum specified) + Intelligence modifier mental focus points. For each creature reduced to 0 hit points near (5’’ per class level) the shadowed keeper, they gain 1 point of temporary focus, and temporary focus lasts for 1 round per shadowed keeper level until 12th level, where this extends to 1 minute per shadowed keeper level, and 1 hour per class level, at which level this increases to hourly intervals; they don’t have the ability to maintain the generic focus usually provided. The downside here is readily apparent: You really want to carry a bag of kittens around to slaughter for your boost. At 4th level, shift focus is replaced with a +1 insight bonus vs. necromancy, athanatism and death effects for every implement invested with temporary focus. I like where this goes, but I maintain that the kitten-failure is unnecessary; plus, the flux of focus could have carried more.

    But let us get back to psionic options – there are two new cryptic insights: Structural resonance lets the cryptic target objects when gaining their psionic focus, ignoring hardness. This decreases disrupt pattern’s damage die size to d4s, and every round you use this consecutively subtracts 1 from the damage total dealt. Does this reset immediately? After resting? The second option would be entropic redistribution, which lets the cryptic designate a second creature type when gaining focus; when damage is done with disrupt pattern to the first type,, as an immediate action, the cryptic can heal a creature of the second type for the same amount This may be used up to Intelligence modifier times per day. Super cool. The pdf also features a kineticist utility wild talent, which has a formatting that somewhat deviates from the standard presentation; it essentially acts as a more limited kineticist’s plane shift.

    The momentus psychic warrior replaces warrior’s path with rising kinetics. As long as they maintain psionic focus, after the first successful attack, the momentus gains 1d6 active energy type bonus damage that bypasses power and spell resistance. With each successful hit, the archetype gets 1 temporary power point that can be used to manifest or augment powers with the active energy type. These temporary power points dissipate at a rate of one point per round, and you get basic kinesis of the element corresponding to the active element for class level round after triggering this. This can easily be cheesed as soon as you have more than one attack per round, as you can stack up infinite temporary power points by slaughtering kittens. This makes the core of the archetype-engine broken. Next. The Phobius mesmerist replaces painful stare with a dread-like untyped damage-causing touch attack, with hypnotic stare’s effects requiring a swift action and only deliverable via this touch. Consummate liar is replaced with +1/2 class level (minimum +1) insight bonus to Intimidate. The archetype may choose dread terrors instead of mesmerist tricks. At 6th level, terrors may be delivered through the touch attacks. They may have any terror active, altering mesmerist tricks and manifold tricks. Touch treatment is replaced with a fear-aura, and at higher levels, we have fear immunity and the ability to similarly fortify allies under trick effects.

    Kyoudai Games’ Thunderscape-Thaumaturge also gets a new legend, the mystic, who has good Will-saves, Psychic Sensitivity, 2 +1 per level spirit points, and may use occult skill unlocks an additional time per usage period per Charisma modifier. When you gain this legend, you choose Charisma modifier +1 1st level spells from mesmerist, occultist and psychic, which you may then cast as SPs 1/day Emotion components, if any, must be provided. At higher levels, an array for 2nd, 3rd and 4th level may be chosen, and active aspect or folk magic traits granting SPs get +1 Charisma modifier uses while this legend is active. This is VASTLY superior to pretty much all other legends available to the class. For comparison: Sneak attack progression versus multiple levels of SPs and use increases.

    So, this covers the archetypes – but before we get to the second major crunch chapter, it should be mentioned that the feat-chapter also provides means to e.g. combine akashic essence and residuum from Ultimate Antipodism in a potent, but overall plausible manner spending residuum for increases, etc. can also be found. Occult/psionic crossovers are another leitmotif here, with e.g. the means to expend psionic focus to temporarily enhance resonance or activate focus powers. Feats to enhance the interesting burden/boon spells may be found. There also is a feat to gain a Residuum pool that can be built upon for echo-lite action, and there are e.g. means to spend shadow points to enhance psychic conjurations, etc. Extending phrenic amplifications to other effects may be overkill, and there are more feats for additional daily use class features. Modifying summon monster with imprinted creatures…notice something? This book takes a TON into account – heck, there is even material for pact magic and Everybody Games’ Paranormal Adventures here. Using phrenic pool to enhance Psionic Fist/Weapon, spend residuum to decrease the cooldown of spirit granted abilities, etc. – some seriously interesting, but also sometimes VERY potent stuff here. There also is a feat that is a psionics/psychic crossover that nets you essentially an implement with a single resonant power – this tackles highly complex stuff. The chapter also features two new, nice flaws.

    The lion’s share of this book, though, is devoted to prestige classes, 9 to be more precise – and if I went through these PrC by PrC, this’d be a 20+ pages review, so I’ll be brief. The first would be Astral Antiquarian with a ¾ BAB-progression, ½ Will-save progression and full spell/power-progression, as well as d8 HD and 2 + Int skills per level. This one can be qualified either by magic or psionic power, and object reading is a base theme. The PrC nets essentially an occultist-lite experience and provides 7 implement schools for psionic disciplines, including athanatism – and these actually are more interesting and precise than the previously noted archetype/class option tricks, featuring e.g. means to make undead temporarily susceptible to mind-affecting effects, dive into the mind of a corpse and rewind their memories. There are some seriously cool high-fantasy detective tools here, crystalline caltrops, energy torrents, etc. – it’s an interesting PrC, with the implements potentially interesting beyond the confines of the PrC.

    Blackblade Breakers require a residuum pool, d1ß HD, full BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Will-save progression and 4 + Int skills per level. This fellow is essentially a fellow specialized in defeating shadow-users. A solid little PrC, if not one that’s blow you away. Dreamsealers get d8 HD, 2 + Int skills, ¾ BAB-progression, full progression for spells/powers from two sources: These are interesting, in that they are psionic/psychic healers that can temporarily shut wounds via dreamseals – these instead act as temporary hit points, but are accompanied by essentially minor evolution packages, as the power of the dreamseal sports lesser metamorphosis/metamorphosis. Additionally, higher levels offer location-swaps, and yes, there are limits in place. This fellow is super-.interesting, and actually one of the PrCs I’ll be using. Kudos! The Eye of the Storm similarly has dual source full progression, ½ BAB- and Will-save progression, d6 HD, 2+Int skills per level. Either psychic or akin to the wilder, these beings may designate binder, casters, manifesters, etc. and roll a die, chaotically influencing their powers. Add primal magic events, and we have an interesting chaos-supporter.

    The gyreblade gets full BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Will-save progression, 8 levels of dual-source spell/power progression, 4 + Int skills per level. This class essentially fuses two manifested or summoned weapons – one is the flow, one the riptide; this lets e.g. a soulknife act as a transmutation occult implement or vessel for a kinetic blade infusion. And yes, this is kept in check, and the PrC comes with its own talent array: Verdant blade, shadow blade, shadow assassin, vital blade, etc. – there are plenty of lesser known class options that may be fused thus. This is wide open, and potentially interesting, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily a compelling one for most tables.

    The shadowed packmaster gets full dual-source progression, ½ BAB- and Will-save progression, d6 HD and 2 + Int skill per level. This one is interesting, as it lets you undersummon creatures/astral constructs by expending other spells/power to create additional shadow creatures at decreased reality; higher levels add additional critters, though the table nets an additional increase at 9th level, which is not noted in the rules-text. That being said, there is some seriously cool stuff going on here, as these shadow beings may be expressed by the opposite element – acidic earth beings causing electricity damage and having the air subtype, for example. Furthermore, we have Astral Construct augment menus for these.

    The souldancer gets 3/4 –BAB-progression, ½ Will-save progression, 8/10 manifester progression, d8 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, and it’s once more an interesting one – it’s a PrC focused on possession as an angle. Tribeminds get d8 HD, ½ Will-save progression, 2 + Int skills per level…and here we have the PrC that further expands upon the Liminal Self-based engine, creating a great class for solo-games, jack-of-all-trades-fans, etc. – this is a potent fellow, but once more an interesting and fun option. The trinity mage has a ½ BAB- and Will-save progression, 2 + Int skills per level – and its progression of spells/powers/etc. is kinda interesting, as the PrC is contingent on the notion of heavy multiclassing with three different power-sources as such alternating between progressions. The PrC gets trinity points, and so-called sequences, which grant benefits for varied source-resolution; essentially, the PrC provides options that make a thoroughly subpar choice interesting and play differently. They are potent, but they have to be potent to account for the dispersal of focus. This is an extremely tough design and acts as a kind of magic combo-system. Big kudos for this one, in spite of some minor rough spots.

    The pdf then proceeds to provide some advice for campaigns tapping into luminal themes, as well as two new psionic powers, one of which is a shadow-based Astral Construct ability grant, and the second lets you manifest the luminal self and interacts with the feat. The pdf also features three astral construct menus and the metamorphosis stuff for reference.

    Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, but the pdf does feature a couple of typos…and on a rules-language level, the book often manages to execute super-complex operations, but also stumbles a few times in ways that influence mechanical integrity. I seriously wished that a strict and nitpicky editor had gone through this with a fine-toothed comb. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the pdf features some seriously nice full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

    Christen N. Sowards’ love for Pathfinder 1 is readily apparent here, particularly for all the amazing things that the third party community has brought to the game. There are a ton of top tier complex multiclassing/overlapping options herein, allowing you to blend a vast variety of different options. As in all of his designs, it’s definitely “go big or go home” regarding themes. While there are problematic aspects herein, they never ever are boring. They almost always do something unique and creative. Even after all these years of PF1. That’s a serious achievement. Additionally, there is an undercurrent here – there are parts that aren’t great, yes. But there also are components that I genuinely consider to be genius. That seriously warrant getting this book – at least for me.

    But what about you? Well, how many 3pp-resources are you using? If the answer is “a lot”, then chances are that this one will add some serious oomph to your game. The pdf provides quite a few potent options and requires some serious mastery of the Pathfinder 1 system – this book obviously is intended for veterans of Pathfinder 1, and frankly, it made me seriously ponder how to integrate its some of its content into my games – something that rarely happens anymore, because I just have so much. At its weakest, this book feels like an excellent first draft of a book, with quality oscillating from “almost perfect and inspiring” to “should go back to the drawing board for minor refinement before it’s fully functional/cool.” Honestly, I could warrant rating this as low as 3 stars for what it is – a mixed bag with brilliant highlights, but also some pretty nasty lows. Do not flat-out allow the entire book; the balancing is not always consistent, though in parts, this is system-immanently due to the vast amount of sources and crossovers herein.

    That being said, let’s take the target audience into account; hardcore PF 1 fans with a ton of experience with 3pp-material. And this demographic? At this point, I think you fine people are system-savvy enough to iron off the rough patches and use this book as intended. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars, courtesy of the imaginative components and strength of the book’s visions. Quite a few components herein would be seal of approval level, but as a whole, this is as high as I can justify. Still, if you’re a PF1 grognard or simply a fan of novel things done with a d20-based engine, then give this a try. Chances are you’ll find something that’ll blow your mind.

    Endzeitgeist out.



    Rating:
    [4 of 5 Stars!]
    Book of Beyond: Liminal Power
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