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Eldritch Artillerist Class
by Albert S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2018 11:45:57

An interesting complementery class to Starfinder's solarian. Both are strong fighters with supernatural abilities, but while the solarian channels power from stars and specializes in melee, the artillerist channels the void and works best in ranged combat. This is so far the best-written class by Wayward Rogue Publishing, but still has quite a number of the usual weird sentences and confusing rule references.

Right at the beginning, the author seems to have forgotten that "key ability score" does not mean "important abilities". It is one particular ability used for calculating Resolve Points. So we don't know which one it is.

(FYI: I hate the font used in the headers. Very hard to read, especially the numbers. Also some headers are missing the level references or the colored background emphasis.)

Most class features depend upon the pact you choose at 1st level. More about these later, but first a few words about the non-optional stuff. Immunity to atmosphere/vacuum, tech-based surveillance, and the higher level tricks based around the ethereal plane and teleportation all seem to fit nicely with the "space warlock" concept. I really like Void's Gift as this is one of the few class features which actually work in starship combat. (Starship combat in Starfinder feels like a different game sometimes, with so many of the "normal" rules not being applicable. But I digress.) But the lie detection feature I do not get. It does not fit the class. What I really miss, on the other hand, is an ability that would help the class ignore that pesky rule about provoking AoOs every time you fire a gun.

Now let's see the fun stuff: there are five pacts to choose from. All give a different ranged weapon, roughly similar in strength to the solar weapon of the solarian class, and a bunch of optional powers. There are pretty strong themes here. One is about sonic effects. (Fun fact: there is no explicit rule in Starfinder about sonic weapons being useless in vacuum.) The second utilizes plants, the fourth fire and shapechanging, the fifth cold. I deliberately left out no. three, because I am somewhat baffled about it: this gives you the melee weapon of tentacles, which, though cool, does not IMO belong to this class. Adhering to the ranged fighter concept is my strong recommendation. Artillerist, remember?

Some powers give skill bonuses. These are so useless they might as well be ignored. Do I want a perform (sing) bonus or an attack that causes momentary unconsciousness on a failed fortitude save? Decisions, decisions... (not).

An overall problem is that there are sentences in the text everywhere that just don't make sense. Missing words, unprofessional rule references. Also, I may be too visual, but some powers just don't feel right. Can you grow a tree on a space station? Can you submerge a big pistol in a single dose of poison? Has the "creature" of the Dark Mother any chance of surviving one round? Still I think this class would play pretty well with minimal corrections. If only it read more professionally, I would have given it 5 stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Eldritch Artillerist Class
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Novafist
by Albert S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2018 09:47:59

A cyborg warrior class for Starfinder. A pretty straightforward idea that could (in theory) fill the role of Pathfinder's barbarian, with some monk-ish features to boot. Unfortunately, delivery of the details is quite amateurish.

Right at the beginning, the author seems to have forgotten that "key ability score" does not mean "important abilities". It is one particular ability used for calculating Resolve Points. So we don't know which one it is.

(FYI: I hate the font used in the headers. Very hard to read, especially the numbers.)

It is not a mistake as such, but longarms proficiency seems inappropriate for a hand-to-hand specialist class.

Just like Pathfinder’s monk class, the novafist has an augmented unarmed damage that scales up with level. When compared with bludgeoning melee weapons of the same level we can see that it is slightly stronger at 1st level (1D8 vs assault hammer’s 1D6), same goes for 5th level (1D10 vs tactical maul’s 1D8). There is no increase at 10th level, and that is a mistake (comet hammer does 4D6, which is quite a difference compared to lower level weapons). Weakens at 15th level (3D12 vs elite maul’s 7D8), and ends up pitiful at 20th level (4D8 vs gravity well hammer’s 15D6). Granted, some of my examples have special abilities that might change the equation, but I still suggest recalibrating this whole feature.

Also, since the text mentions “tendril barbs”, why is the damage strictly bludgeoning? If the concept here is that the novafist can take anyone apart with bare hands (and I think it is), then the option of doing slashing or piercing damage would be nice.

Novafist uses two different point pools. The simpler one is called Durability. It reduces damage suffered or (at high levels) allows for a saving throw reroll. Since that is pretty much the entire thing, the point pool system seems unnecessary, and a “times per day” rule would be sufficient.

Nova Charges are more complicated. These symbolize fuel for your unique cyberware and are used to activate special attacks.

Meteor rush is a monk’s flurry kind of attack, but with a different system. There is only one attack roll, then a separate roll to calculate how many actual hits took place, and finally a reduced damage roll. For example, at 19th level this feature can do a maximum of 5D4 times 1D12 damage for the cost of 3 Nova charges (of a max. pool of 7). I just can’t help feeling this is needlessly overcomplicated, alien to the core mechanics of the game, and very hard to balance with other classes.

Some minor features excluded, this leaves the signature options of the class to look at: the Improved Augments. The class gets one of these unique cybernetic implants at every even level, starting at 4th. (BTW there are no class features related to standard cybernetic items. This might be worth exploring.)

Under the augment write-ups there are quite a lot of confusing details. A few examples follow.

Magnetic charge lets you pull the target towards you. But if it is a touch attack (it should be, but is it?), then you are already adjacent to the target. So it only makes sense if you first move away, then pull. Which brings up the question of the power’s duration. Or if it is a ranged attack (which defies logic, IMO), how is it delivered?

Kinetic barrier needs “something solid” to create the barrier. Basically you tear of the walls or somesuch (as I gather, anyway). What has it do with cybernetics at all? Some kind of collapsible tower shield implant would be much more in style.

Elemental augment gives you “acid, electricity or fire” damage type. Improved elemental augment gives “acid or cold”. Besides the fact that acid appears under both powers, elemental damage types are treated equally in Starfinder. It makes no sense that some of them should require two augments, while others only one.

Pulsar rocket makes a reference to the off-target condition that is really hard to understand. Such references to existing rules should be more accurate.

To sum it up, the general idea seems solid, but many details need to be either recalculated or rephrased.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Novafist
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Mechromancer Core Class
by Albert S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/26/2018 11:39:36

I don't think this class has a single original paragraph to it. Play a technomancer with the powered armor proficiency, and you practically have the same character. In Pathfinder terminology, the mechromancer would be a technomancer archetype with magic hacks swapped for a mech suit and upgrades. But 16 out of the 23 upgrades are actually magic hacks, copypasted from the Starfinder core book. And remaining are either built-in weapons or upgrades no different from what you can find in the core book, Chapter Equipment. With the exception of the suit size increase and maybe the charged tentacles upgrade you can in fact do better, as the core book has more and better fleshed out options.

(P.S. I checked: if you use an Ironclad Bulwark armor from Starfinder Armory, you can have tentacles installed too, or at least a pretty close equivalent melee weapon.)



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Mechromancer Core Class
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Venommancer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/12/2018 05:13:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my leisure.

So, the venommancer is a hybrid of alchemist and kineticist and gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus bola, boomerang, flask thrower, needle glove, scorpion whip, shuriken, scythe, throwing syringe, wrist launcher and whip as well as light armor, but not with shields. They get ¾ BAB-progression, begin play with poison use and have good Fort- and Ref-saves.

In case you were wondering: Both throwing syringe and needle glove are new exotic weapons with the inject special property. These weapons may be filled with a liquid as a 1.minute process, as a standard action for characters with poison use. Other weapons can get this one for +50% costs. Both are pretty expensive (15 gp and 35 gp), so plan this when spending the 3d6 x 10 starting wealth.

The venommancer begins play with the special blend class feature, which translates to 3 + Intelligence (not properly capitalized) modifier doses of a fast acting poison that may not be hoarded. This poison is an injury poison with a 1 round onset, dealing 1d4 untyped damage for the venommancer’s Intelligence modifier rounds. A successful Fortitude saving throw versus DC 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier negates the poison/flushes it out. The venommancer adds his level to Craft (alchemy) or Knowledge (nature), Heal and Survival to checks pertaining diseases or poisons. They can also use a standard action to identify a poison affecting a creature in reach. Finally, 1st level nets the toxins ability: the venommancer has cultivated 3 + Constitution modifier (once more, Constitution is not properly formatted…) diseases: As a standard action, the venommancer may exude a 5 ft.-radius cloud within 30 ft. of his current location. Targets in the cloud get a Con-governed Fort-save ( 10 + ½ class level + Constitution modifier, once more, attribute not properly formatted…) to negate. The cloud can be dissipated as a full-round action, and fire damage similarly can dissipate it. Unless thus dissipated, the cloud lasts class level rounds. The toxin has an onset of 1 day and causes 2 Dexterity damage per day, lasting until the target affected succeeds a save. The cloud has AC 10 and automatically fails saves.

At 2nd level, the venommancer gets the first virulence, with every even level thereafter, excluding the capstone, another virulence chosen. Virulences can be applied to toxins and special blends, but only 1 per such toxin/blend. Saving throw DCs are 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier. There is a bit of a didactic improvement to be made here regarding nomenclature: It would have been easier for toxins to be referred directly, for special blends to be referenced directly. While the fluff text designates toxins as diseases, and special blends as poisons, the virulences apply their benefits generally…and accelerate disease becomes problematic. As a full-round action that provokes AoOs and may target a single being within 30 ft. – this target takes one day worth of disease effects…okay, so what about diseases with a quick progression? Full effects? Is there a save? I assume no, since the poison virulence does not the save DC, but I’m not sure. This problem extends to and is exacerbated in the accelerate poison virulence, which applies a poison’s remaining damage to a creature, with but a single save. This purges the poison, but can be a dragonslayer save or suck nonetheless. The issue regarding nomenclature also extends to some of the virulences – Adaptability makes the toxins apply to aberrations and undead. This is odd, since RAW, aberrations can be affected by poisons. Does this mean that toxins usually can’t affect aberrations? Why?? Substituting a toxin’s effect with that of diseases is interesting, and class level -4 bombs is also available, though this one lacks the minimum level prerequisite. RAW, it doesn’t work at 2nd or 4th level. The flawed rules-language also extends to a few very basic operations: Clumsiness blend, for example, makes the special blend deal 1 point of Dexterity damage instead of hit point damage. “You may take this virulence 1 additional time for every 4 venommancer levels you have. The damage stacks.” You’d usually use something like “every time you do, you increase the…” here instead. Anyway, there is a virulence talent that lets you fire a ranged touch attack as a standard action against a target affected by special blend or toxin, dealing 1d6 + half your Constitution modifier untyped damage. This blast may be enhanced by features that enhance the kinetic blast class feature. This is basically all the kineticist that’s in the class, and I don’t have to explain why this does not work, right?

Save or suck unconsciousness can also be found, and formatting is bad: Beyond the attributes I mentioned, there are instances of lower case skills, non-standard save DC-sequences, and ability that attempts splash damage and, while nominally functional, doesn’t seem to get how verbiage or splash damage usually work…you get the idea.

3rd level yields alchemical bonds: 1 + Con-modifier points are in this pool, and another one is gained for every 3 class levels. Once more, the verbiage here is needlessly convoluted and confusing. Expending one of these points renders the venommancer sickened. (Conditions are not italicized in PFRPG.) This condition lasts for a number of rounds equal to the points missing from the pool. These include immediate onset, purging diseases from targets (which also replenish limited use class features), suspend symptoms, etc. Forced onset has no range, and the ability fails to specify when the points replenish, if they do, and the class erroneously refers to the alchemical bond points as psychic. Unless otherwise noted, these are a standard action. Increase with Power lasts 1 round and does not specify otherwise. sigh The 5th level lets the venommancer poison a weapon as a swift action, and starting at 7th level, the class can poison weapons of allies within 30 ft.. Odd: RAW, neither line of sight, nor line of effect are required. Spread the plague does not note the level it’s gained, requiring that you default to the table – it’s 7th level, fyi. The venommancer may touch an ally and give the ally a dose of Toxin – I assume this expends a use. The ally, when hit, releases the toxin, and all within 5 ft. must save, with the DC reduced by 2. Why only allies? 9th level cuts the onset of poisons and diseases in half, and targets suffer the effects twice per round instead of once. Okay…when precisely during the round? No idea.

10th level nets poison immunity, 11th level at-will neutralize poison and remove disease and 13th level provides the option to poison a weapon when picking it up, or to inflict a poison via grappling. At ¾ BAB and sans enhancers, you will not be doing the latter. Class features are still not capitalized n PFRPG – I don’t get how you can still get that wrong. Anyhow, 15th level allows for the swift action expenditure of an alchemical bond point to force a reroll. 17th level nets a 10 ft. aura that inflicts 1d6 level? Why?) – this damage is recovered when a target leaves the aura and a target succeeding is immune against it. The aura may be suspended as a standard action for 1-minute increments. Wut? Okay, you’ll never want to sleep next to those guys.

19th level is interesting, making the venommancer no longer detect as a living creature, but makes her still perceivably via detect disease/poison. The capstone lets her use a use of special blend + toxins to create a 40-feet cylinder centered on the venommancer. This storm of venom causes 1d8 points of ability score damage (minimum 1) on a chosen ability score on a failed Ref-save, and increases its radius by 10 ft. each round. “Creatures that flee the cloud…” only take 1d4 until there are cleansed via spells, immersion in water, etc. See, this capstone, while not perfect, is actually kinda badass!

The pdf includes 8 new feats: +2 special blend uses, increase Toxin save DC by 1, increasing range or radius of the cloud…the like. There also is a feat that lets you poison weapons while drawing them, which is kinda odd regarding the action economy boosts of the class. It also requires a Sleight of Hand check – failing the check makes drawing and poisoning the weapon standard action, which renders this feat an all out bad idea. Spray the Wound has a good idea: When an ally damages a living enemy with a slashing or piercing weapon, you may use an AoO to throw poison in the wound. Thing is: The feat is geared towards directly throwing poison, and the class doesn’t get Throw Anything. Why can’t you use drawn throwing syringes with it? sigh Stinging Swarms is a teamwork feat that requires that you and your ally wield poisoned rapiers. Guess what’s not on the proficiency list of the class? Bingo. Frickin’ rapiers. The feat is also, beyond being super-circumstantial, wide open to abuse: As a full-round action, you make one attack. If you hit, allies may make an attack as an immediate action. “These attacks deal 1d6 points of damage to the enemy…” Damage type? That’s not how PFRPG works…and the enemy then gets a separate save versus each poison. That’s standard in PFRPG. However, failing even one save affects the target with the effects of ALL poisons. This is broken, doesn’t work, is super-circumstantial and a total mess. Don’t get me started on the attempt of a coordinated salvo of projectiles.

The pdf also includes an archetype for the venommancer, the psilocybinist, who replaces the toxin class feature with an inability to become addicted to drugs. The skill boosts granted by toxicologist are modified by more efficient drug creation and associated skill boosts. The alchemical bond is replaced with the option to bond with a d rug for 24 hours. Then, we get the psyching the dose ability: “When a psilocybinist takes a drug she is psychically bound to; she may choose which effects to be subject to. When a psilocybinist chooses not to take part in a specific effect of a drug, the psilocybinist may not choose to activate that effect later in the drug’s duration. In addition, she may ignore any penalties while using the bonded drug.”[sic!] This is the most wordy and confusing way ever to say “The psilocybinist may choose to ignore any penalties, negative conditions or ability score damage or drain caused by effects of the bonded drug.” At 7th level, penalties incurred by bonded drugs become alchemical bonuses instead.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are bad – neither on a formal level, nor on a rules-language level are they up to the standards of the 3pps of PFRPG. The class is barely functional as written, and then only with copious amounts of handwaving and GM interpretation. Layout adheres to 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf sports rudimentary bookmarks, which is nice. However, you can’t copy text from the pdf. This makes using the class supremely inconvenient and requires that you copy the abilities by hand to your character sheet. Big comfort detriment there.

Jarret Sigler’s venommancer is a cool idea – Scarecrow the class? Heck yes, neato!

However.

I don’t see anything kineticist-y within, apart from one ability that sucks and is only relevant for multiclass characters, so if you’re looking for kineticist-style tricks, look elsewhere. I like the idea of the class, and frustratingly, it gets the ideas almost right in many cases, but then falls flat on its face. Worse, even if you do manage to somehow use the class, it ends up being really weak, courtesy of a lack of means to bypass immunities. The class also shows copious amounts of instances that depict obvious ignorance of how PFRPG’s more complex rules-interactions work. In short, this feels like a class that was well-meant, but that fails pretty hard; like an Alpha, if you will. Personally, I wouldn’t touch it as written with a ten-foot-pole, but as a reviewer, I can at least applaud the notions that grant this one a distinct identity. As such, my final verdict will be 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Venommancer
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Omnilibertas: The City of Freedom
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2018 03:23:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The city of Omnilibertas (sometimes written as “OmniLibertas” or “OmniLiberatis” within, with no discernible reason for doing so – those two are just from the first column of text, mind you…) is the heart of the Republic of Unchained Helot, with the river Thadmuss neatly bisecting the city and acting as the central lifeblood of the place, bringing trade and new people to the place. The city, as its name implies, puts prime value of self-realization, fiercely celebrating individuality.

In a somewhat odd peculiarity regarding the prose, the quality is somewhat inconsistent and, in some paragraphs, becomes staccato-like. “The citizenry prepares for the Freedom games. The growing event brings people from all over the world within the borders of the city. The games change every four years. They are perhaps the only constant tradition with the city walls. That and the growing power of the prime minister.” Or: “The founding of OmniLiberatis was turbulent. Slaves seeking freedom found an old fortress. Tired, pursued, and scared. The hero Derrock Stockman led his people here.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to minimalist sentence structure, but the syntax is pretty repetitive and really hampers the reading flow in some instances.

This is particularly jarring, since it’s the only thing I can justifiably rate. Why? Well, while this is designated as a Pathfinder-product, it offers not even rudimentary information regarding the population, alignment or the like the city has. Its size is opaque and not defined – at all. We don’t get a settlement statblock. While there is a full-color map that would be nice, we get no player-friendly version, and colored overlays in various colors designate the different districts. However, we don’t know anything about how you become a citizen, the power brokers, etc. Even the system neutral versions of Village Backdrops released by Raging Swan Press offer infinitely more detail.

While citizenship seems to be something to aspire to, we get no idea how to actually gain this status, and this opaque nature really hampers, much to my chagrin, what would be an interesting place: Omnilibertas (or however this place is supposed to be called) notes unusual customs and laws that feature a rather libertine approach to morals and rules – and a direct opposition to the notion of ownership of other sentient beings can yield interesting consequences: Even children are not necessarily claimed as belonging to one couple, as that would imply ownership. The consequences and their development can make for compelling concepts to develop, particularly in a campaign setting, wherein morals are bound to be more conservative than in our world.

And indeed, with all the points of interest noted, the city offers quite a few intriguing places that makes it feel radically modern in many ways – even more modern than e.g. Andoran, and as such, there is a distinct feeling of a kind of Utopia to be found here, a notion only rarely explored in gaming. Interestingly, the points of interest do offer quite a few interesting glimpses into the city’s daily life. The issue, however, remains – while these tidbits are interesting, the city never really becomes alive, as its big frame, the stuff that is supposed to hold things together, that is supposed to contextualize this, simply is not there.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are bad – considering that this is very much a system neutral book sans rules-language and the like to screw up, it’s a bit appalling to note the numerous glitches and inconsistencies in these few pages. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that is aesthetically pleasing, and the pdf sports nice, original artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks. Annoyingly, you can’t copy text from the pdf. If you want to prepare excerpts for your players or just get rid of the ton of typos, you’ll need to copy the text by hand, typing it as you go. If you do, you’ll become even more cognizant of the bad editing and flaws in the flow of the prose. Cartography would be nice, but the color-shaded overlays mar what would have been an aesthetically-pleasing map. There is no player-friendly version provided.

Jarrett Sigler’s “Omnilibertas” is an exercise in frustration for me. I really love the idea of a utopian metropolis, and the idea underlying this is neat, but the execution is lackluster, and the absence of settlement stats can be excused for settlements in modules, but not for sourcebooks, no matter how brief they may be. This has to stand up to supplements like those by Raging Swan Press, and this woefully falls short of this level in every conceivable way. This does have a ton of potential, and with a picky editor, this, even in its current state, could have been a solid introduction to the metropolis. As written, it alas falls short of what it could have been, of what the idea deserved. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Omnilibertas: The City of Freedom
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Hybrid Classes Vol.3: Heroes of Wonder
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/18/2018 06:26:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third compilation of hybrid classes by Wayward Rogues Publishing clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 64 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

Now, as before, this represents a compilation of previously released hybrid classes, with new content added. I have previously discussed most of these in excessive detail, so I’m going to point you towards my reviews of the individual classes, should you be interested in them. Otherwise, I’m going to focus on whether or not they have improved, and new content, if any.

All right, so the Empath still suffers from formatting glitches and aesthetic rules-language hiccups galore, but e.g. the issue of the courage sensitivity for flying charges for allies has been resolved – it now sports the proper activation action. On the downside, the desire sensitivity still doesn’t work properly. Layout also has cut the letters of a sentence almost in half. The horror sensitivity’s capstone now also has a proper range. The OP 1st-level ability of euphoria hasn’t been nerfed, though. The central mind’s collective-style mental communication is still problematic. The emotive master is not included in the pdf. All in all, a very minor improvement of the class; not nearly as much change as I’d have loved to see, though, and the pdf, alas, has not improved the formatting hiccups or the often wobbly rules-language.

The orphic’s table seems to indicate that the class gets a fifth attack, which is not how PFRPG handles iterative attacks. Dark Half’s verbiage still is somewhat ambiguous. The utterly broken first level ability of the Dream orphic discipline is still here. Similarly, faith is still wobbly. Lore is still broken due to being too dippable. The pain discipline’s 16th level ability is still broken and doesn’t work as written. The drow FCO is still broken. The class has, unfortunately, not improved at all – the orphic could have been a 5-star class with proper fine-tuning. Oh well.

The prodigy’s base spellcasting still references spells that RAW don’t exist. Knacks still fail to specify from which class. Obvious missed bolding, the problematic wunderkind ability. Dead levels are still here. Formatting hasn’t improved…you get the idea. Once more, a per se promising concept could have been elevated to being good or even great with a bit of work and care.

The wonderworker still does not gain Handle Animal, a required skill to teach her pet. Bonded object plus domain, or pet are the options for the base class feature. Not even the heritage references to previous spells included in the one sample combo-spell have been cleaned up. The meddlesome magician in the archetype chamber fails to note that it is an archetype for the wonderworker – it’s not the only archetype that does not note the like. The spells of the wonderworker include a horribly broken, limitless item-recharger. There is a spell that, flavorwise, makes animals erupt in a dizzying cascade from an object, drawing upon cartoon-visuals. The rules for escaping the predicament suffer from false formatting and from deviating how the like works in PFRPG. Good indicator of how sloppy this pdf is at times: The spell is called miracle object. Like the completely different spell on the very next page. Which allows you to duplicate a magic item. Sans limit on CL and power. That should scale. Sequester Ribbon is nice, making a magic item temporarily a suppressed, harmless ribbon that may be drawn and placed on slots, etc. Temporary Wand generates a temporary receptacle wand. There is a spell that makes a token that prevents creatures from being aggressive. Pretty sure I’ve seen it before.

Cool: There is a spell that provides a badge with charges to a target: The target may, as an immediate action, expend charges when targeted by an attack, gaining a 10% miss chance per charge. This is pretty cool; seems familiar, though.

All right, so far, we have covered the previously-released classes – unfortunately, these do not come with sufficient improvements, which is particularly for orphic and prodigy, a pity.

The pdf also contains two new classes, the first of which would be the Comedian, a combo of bard and witch who gains d8 HD, 6 + Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons plus longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword, shortbow and whip as well as light armor and shields (excluding tower shields). Comedians may cast their class spells, which scale up to 6th level, unimpeded in light armor and with shields. Comedian spells must have verbal components, and spellcasting is spontaneous and governed by Charisma. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression, as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The comedian may use Perform (act, comedy, etc.) in conjunction with countersong (Nice!). He gets +1/2 class level to Spellcraft checks made to identify spells when targeted by them. (I assume this extends to being one target among an area of effect.) The comedian gets an untyped +1 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Linguistics and Sense Motive, which further increases at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This bonus also represents the number of edges at the begin of a verbal duel that the comedian receives. Considering how hard edges are usually to come by (requiring roleplaying etc.), this is most definitely overkill.

The class gets a variant of bardic performance, comedic performance, which may have audible or visual components. These include a scaling penalty on saves versus charm and fear effects as well as on attack and damage rolls. Fascinate and short-range nonlethal damage that scales (with negative conditions added) can also be found: The latter deserves being mentioned, for it does get rules-interaction right and prevents abuse of the high-level dazing. Kudos! Temporary condition alleviation, scaling Cha-based penalty and a sonic touch attack can also be found – and the latter is actually genuinely interesting, as it builds on previous performances, being more potent when targeting an opponent that has previously suffered from the comedian’s rhetoric barbs. There even is a high-level flurry or single target trick here that renders this one rather interesting. Gather crowd, making targets flat-footed (with an anti-abuse caveat), suggestion (italicization missing from spell-reference), soothing performance, inspire heroics…cool. Lame and rather disappointing: Song of discord has been rebranded “scandal” – without purging all references to the original ability. That’s just sloppy.

At 1st level, 2nd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, the comedian gains a heckle – basically, the witch hex-analogues of the class, which are governed by Charisma. Good news here: E.g. the charm heckle and the charm hex and cross-class interaction have been accounted for – kudos for catching that one! Indeed, in a positive, pleasant surprise, the heckles prevent abuse by combo’d comedian/witches, with such caveats included for every overlap. The heckles include fortune and misfortune, a rebranded cackle, using the nonlethal damage during the surprise round at the cost of a performance use, adding witch spells, a variant rebrand of the witch’s gas-negating trick…some nice ones. Problematic: “eating” spells on successful Will or Fort-saves show their origin as a cut-copy-pasted class ability, with the three heckles implying a linear ability-progression, when they should note each other as prerequisites. The major heckles are similar/identical to witch options as well.

Starting at 2nd level, the comedian may always act in a surprise round. At 5th level, the comedian may treat initiative as a natural 10 1/day, +1/day for every 6 levels thereafter. 20th level upgrades this to a natural 20. At 10th level, the comedian does not lose edges for being at an extreme disadvantage in verbal duels and may ask for +1 bias when using Sense Motive or automatically seed a bias discovered. 1/verbal duel, he may reassign one verbal duel skill to another tactic in which he didn’t assign skills. The original tactic becomes unprepared. The ventriloquist archetype replace comedic performance with puppet-based summoning. The spells at the back include cantrips for background soundtracks and canned laughter. Catchphrase nets you Signature Skill in “(Perform/comedy)” sigh and if you already have it, both Celebrity Discount AND Celebrity Perks, but only for one advantage in the next 24 hours. Not a fan – that’s two class exclusives for a paltry 2nd-level spell. Comic duo nets you a shadowy sidekick, which provides a +2 competence bonus to Perform and to saves to resist performances, masterpieces etc. – at 3rd level. Yeah, balance is a bit odd. Final punchline wants to do something cool: Affect targets of a performance with hideous laughter – I like such combos, simple though it may be.

You know, while certainly not perfect and rather redundant regarding heckles, this class does have a couple of nice angles. The minor combo-mechanic is something that could have been expanded further, and the verbal duel angle, while somewhat over the top, has also been executed in decent manner. Not a genius class, but one that I can see being fun for some.

The second new class herein would be the poacher. The poacher is a hybrid of unchained summoner and ranger and gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and all ranged martial weapons + bolas, nets, lassos, mancatcher, whips and light armor. No spell failure in light armor. The class gets its own custom, pretty potent 6-level spell-list and spontaneous, Charisma-based spellcasting. Chassis-wise, we get ¾ BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class gets the “Draw Monster” extraordinary ability, which should be Sp, or at least, Su to account for level variables of the duplicated summon monster/nature’s ally spells, which btw. do scale. Fail. Poachers may study monsters for 10 minutes, getting an untyped +2 bonus on the type studied. To do so, they need to have a copy of a specific, mundane book ready. Speaking of items: There is a magic or technological item that can deploy traps, which is a good idea, but the rules presented for it make it opaque. There is a magical tripping bola, a mundane write-up for generic monster bait (which I did not like) and the +1 equivalent pelt-pelting special weapon quality, which allows for the sundering of natural armor, but also notes how such damage can be healed.

But back to the poacher: We also get track at first level, and the trap-lamp. This lamp can be used an infinite amount of times per day and may be used as a standard action with a “range increment” of 30 ft., but no maximum range noted. The lamp fires a ray, and a creature hit must make a Fort save versus DC 10 + ½ class level + poacher’s Charisma modifier – on a failure, they are sucked into the trap lamp. They can escape, and successful saves net a +2 bonus, but boy, the DC is WAY OP for a save-or-suck first level ability. Sure, the critters have a chance to escape and need to be negotiated/handled with, but the pdf fails to acknowledge the intricacies of these interactions. Oh, and guess what: Captured creatures can be KILLED INSTANTLY at the poacher’s choice when trapped. RAW NO SAVE. W-T-F. Sure, it can only carry creatures with HD equal to or less than the poacher, and only two times poacher level critters, but still. INFINITE INSTA-KILL RAYS. That are not even conjuration (teleportation) or the like. I'm only scratching the surface of the issues here.

Wanna hear something lulzy? At 2nd level, any creature summoned (not only those drawn!) get ¼ class level, minimum 1 evolution points! This is broken on so many levels, I am not going to dignify it but bothering to explain it. Oh, and 2nd level, we get basically a poacher’s pride creature that respawns in the trap lamp. You know, like a yellow…okay, I’m going to drop the pretense right now. This attempts to be a Pokémon class. 3rd level, 8th and every 5 levels thereafter yield favored terrains. 4th level makes creatures on the summon list not count towards the maximum. 4th level yields shield ally (12th the greater version), 5th and ever 5 thereafter a bonus feat. 6th, 12th and 19th level add more captured monsters (with evolutions), 8th level nets swift tracker, 9th evasion (16th improved evasion). 14th lets the lamp act as 1/day magnificent mansion. 20th level nets a variant of master hunter with a 1/day swift action draw monster added on top. No, the list of evolutions does not provide anything interesting/new. There are archetypes that replace the signature monster and evolution pool with an animal companion with a baked-in evolution pool, but retrained monsters gain no evolutions. Arcane Enslavers apply the chassis of the class to humanoids and are evil. Hellholders are basically the Hellraiser twist on that concept. Trophy Hunters grant themselves evolutions via fetishes, which is a cool idea; said fetishes take up item body slots, but lack concise rules and fail to take into account that different evolutions have different values, which should be reflected in slots and costs.

The feats allow you to choose what you draw when using your own bags of tricks (let me waste a feat on that…), +1 evolution point to ALL summoned monsters drawn with draw monster; electricity damage added to the lamp, +1 to CMB versus quadruped creatures (Yay?), +1 DC for spells targeting studied monster (double yay?), a ranger spell (verbiage super-confusing) and using a weaponized trap lamp.

…Oh dear…the poacher is horrible. Unbalanced, top-heavy, opaque. You know, you can say what you want about Kevin Glusing’s Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters; it’s not a perfect book. But oh boy does it blow this fellow to smithereens. The poacher is an overpowered mess. If you want Pokémon-PFRPG, get Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting…haven’t improved much on a formal or rules-language level. The compilation inherits most of the issues of the previous files. That being said, the rules-language pertaining quite a few of the comedian’s more complex components actually intrigued me. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with great, original full-color artworks, as well as a few stock pieces thrown in. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though only to chapter/subchapter headers, not to individual feats, spells or archetypes. The book also sports a HUGE comfort detriment. You can’t highlight (or search) text within. Yep. Wanna play these? Well, you better like copying the content, for that’s the only way you’ll have the shorthand ready. Considering the vast amount of copied or slightly modified content within, which often barely manage to change the name of the ability of which they’re reskinned, I find this to be distasteful, to say the least.

Jarret Sigler, Robert Gresham, Aaron Hollingsowrth, Beth Breitmaier, Dave Breitmaier, and Margherita Tramontano, these authors have created hybrids within this tome that often deserved better than what they got in this compilation. Unlike the previous compilations in this series, the majority of the material herein has the spark of something unique and truly promising; particularly the Orphic and Prodigy, with a capable rules-developer, could have been 5-star hybrid classes. If you can live with formatting hiccups, the asinine inability to copy text and are willing to modify the rules along the lines I noted in my individual reviews of the classes, you’ll have fun with them. Empath and wonderworker are more problematic and less unique. The comedian has the glimmer of being on the cusp of becoming something unique; it has its issues, but with a bit more daring design and less scavenging from the parent classes, it could have been great. I mean it! It has potential and is my third favorite class in the book. The poacher just plain sucks and is the worst thing in the whole book.

Sooo, do you want this? Honestly? Probably no. Orphic and Prodigy may be worth checking out, and if the idea of the Comedian intrigues you and you don’t have these two already, then this may be worth a look. However, the lack of refinement since the original releases, the abundant verbiage and formatting hiccups, and the atrocious poacher, make it impossible for me to round up from my final verdict of 2.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Classes Vol.3: Heroes of Wonder
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Orphic Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/10/2018 04:02:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid of psychic and barbarian clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The orphic gains d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Starting at 4th level, they gain Charisma-based spontaneous spellcasting, drawn from the medium’s spell-list. They begin play with knacks (I assume drawn from the medium list as well.) and fast movement (+10 ft. movement while not wearing anything heavier than medium armor and not carrying a heavy load) as well as mindcasting and mindrage. Mindcasting allows the orphic to cast spells while mindraging, also allowing explicitly for defensive casting and concentration and overriding the issues that may spring from the emotion component.

Mindrage can be entered as a free action and may be maintained for 4 + Constitution modifier rounds per day, +2 per class level gained; temporary increases do not increase the rounds per day. While in mindrage, the orphic gains +4 Str and Con, +2 to Will-saves and -2 to AC so far, so good – bonus types make sense. While in a mindrage, an orphic may use skills and abilities that require concentration. Upon ending the mindrage, the orphic is fatigued, and it is treated as rage, bloodrage and soulrage for the purpose of feat prerequisites, etc. This can potentially result in somewhat weird situations regarding feat-choices and items – personally, I’d strongly suggest limiting that to the barbarian’s rage, unless you’re prepared to make some tough calls. The bonuses are increased to +6/+3…and provides a strong ability: Upon entering mindrage, the orphic may apply the effects of a 2nd level or lower spell with a range of ouch or personal to herself upon entering mindrage; if the duration is greater than 1 round, instead only lasts for the duration of the mindrage – this, however, thankfully still requires spell-slot expenditure. Potent, but the lack of cycling the trick and limited spell levels keep it in check. At 17th level, the orphic is no longer fatigued after mindraging, allowing for novaing spell/rage-cycling – at 17th level, that’s okay, though. The capstone upgrades the benefits to +8/+4 and removes the 2nd level or lower limiter of the mindrage.

2nd level yields uncanny dodge, 3rd level a phrenic pool with ½ class level + Cha-mod points. 4th level nets Logical Spell as a bonus feat, 5th improved uncanny dodge and 7th level provides DR 1/-. This DR increases by 1 at 10th level and every 3 levels thereafter. 14th level nets +4 to Will-saves while mindraging, which explicitly stacks with other bonuses.

6th level nets a phrenic amplification, with another gained every 3 levels thereafter. 12th level unlocks major amplifications.

Where’s the player agenda, you ask? Well, at first level, the orphic chooses a discipline, gaining a discipline power at 1st level, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. These powers may only be activated while mindraging and 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter up to 16th provide a spell dictated by the discipline chosen. Unless I have miscounted, we get a total of 9 disciplines for the class.

The first of these would be abomination, which nets dark half as a mindrage modification – this nets a bonus to damage caused with attacks. Minor complaint: You also can choose to inflict bleed damage with spells cast, which scales – while it is evident from the context that this only applies bto spells, the first mention of extra damage does not refer to spells, which makes this slightly harder to grasp than it should be. That being said, the ability is still clear and functional and thus gets a pass. It should be noted that this discipline eliminates the ability to use concentration-requiring tricks while mindraging – so yeah, this tweaks the base playing experience of the class! Nice one!

The discipline also features the option to applying certain spells while mindraging (minor complaint: This does not state that it’s gained as the 4th level discipline power), gaining chaotic resistance to a damage type (you roll a d% and check a small table) and high levels provide rolling twice, SR and finally, fusion with your dark half. The dream discipline has an interesting modification – you lose the AC penalty and become pretty much asleep while mindraging – which is interesting. I do have an issue with the base ability, though: Once per mindrage, you can completely negate any damage taken from a received hit. That’s insanely strong and could allow a level 1 character to negate a hit from a frickin’ deity. I strongly suggest taking a cue from 5e here and instead rolling a die with a scaling bonus, subtracting the damage rolled from that taken. 4th level yields better awareness, with 8th level providing either dream shield or thought shield II when mindraging. Higher levels yield Tiring/Exhausting Critical – minor complaint: The 16th level ability does not properly capitalize the reference to the feats…but the ability is interesting: Foes suffering from their effects are treated as asleep for the prpose of your spells etc. and you may phantasmal killer one such target per rage. The capstone yields illusion and fear immunity and subjective reality while mindraging. Apart from the problematic base ability, this is easily my favorite piece of crunch by Wayward Rogues Publishing so far – the visuals are strong, the theme is excellent and the abilities are mechanically interesting.

The faith discipline requires a deity to be chosen and 1st level nets “the ability to enhance your weapon as a paladin or warpriest.” – which is frankly confusing, for both classes have other abilities that deal with this concept – the orphic treats weapon attacks having either her or her deity’s alignment – that’s it. The reference to other classes muddles the rules-integrity here and should have been eliminated. 12th level provides the alignment-based qualities, with 16th level netting brilliant energy or ghost touch. Interesting: The class gets spontaneous conversion into cure and inflict spells, but may only convert one such spell per spell-level per day, only while mindraging, and they’re not treated as psychic spells, preventing abuse there. Furthermore, such a conversion nets a regain of 1 phrenic pool point. 8th level nets a +2 bonus to saves while mindraging, which increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 8th. At 12th level, 1/day, when reduced to below 0 hp, you can cast heal (italicization missing) on yourself as an immediate action. 16th level nets a prayer-based aura when mindraging and the capstone nets a DR based on your alignment. The wording here is slightly wonky, but functionality is retained.

The lore discipline nets Knowledge skills and Int-mod to atk, CMD and combat maneuver checks, which is bad overkill at 1st level and makes that one much too dippable – double attriute modifiers to attacks should always be treated VERY carefully and this disicplien thus disqualifies itself. 4th level nets the ability to regain a limited amount of phrenic pool points when using divination spells. 8th level nets studied combat at -3 levels, with the limit of one target per mindrage. Cool: While mindraging, you can, at higher levels, counter abilities based on written text and language. 16th level provides limited symbols and 20th level nets free use of spell-trigger and spell-completion items as well as immunity to language-dependent effects…or “written spells effects” – not sure what the latter means.

The pain discipline nets a cool ability: Use swift actions to further damage foes you damaged since the previous turn. Sufficient damage dealt nets regained phrenic pool points – and yes, the ability cannot be cheesed via bags of kittens! Higher levels yield Clarity of Pain and Exorcising Mutilation; 8th level nets lay on hands at -3 levels as well as mercies, but may only target yourself. Beyond that, reflexive damage for mind-probing. 16th level’s agonizing wound has an issue – it allows you to heap debuff conditions on foes, but suddenly references “uses of the ability” for better debuffs – the ability doesn’t have uses per se, though, making that aspect non-functional. The capstone nets immunity to nonlethal damage and pain as well as bonus damage on critical hits.

The Psychedelia discipline is once more very interesting – you “assume”[sic!] – I think that’s supposed to mean “take/ingest or assume a state akin to a drug” a drug upon entering mindrage, decreasing negative effects. Cool: Upon entering a mindrage, you can exude drugs you have at one point consumed; depending on ingestion methods, foes may the be affected by it. Higher levels yield nausea for foes that influence your mind; after that, we get poison/drug addiction immunity at 12th level and at 16th, a hallucinogenic aura. The capstone nets drug-based at-will spells (should be codified as SPs). The discipline may be weaker than others, but its theme and execution are creative and fun – like it!

The Rapport discipline nets basically a collective based on Cha. 4th level nets at-will share memory, 8th and 16th net teamwork feats and 12th level allows you to redistribute damage of those in the emotional bond collective, with a level-based limit. The capstone also nets the option to redistribute a condition. 16th level lets you share Int- or Cha-based skills with your bonded allies. The capstone lets you geas crited foes 1/day and makes the bond permanent, i.e. present even when not in a mindrage.

Self-perfection nets Cha-bonus to AC and CMD while unarmored and unencumbered and lets you regain phrenic pools points when successfully attempting Strength-, Dexterity- or Constitution-based skill checks, which also gain a bonus equal to Charisma-modifier, but only once per mindrage, preventing abuse. Cool: 8th level nets a pool of healing dice, which may also be employed at higher levels to negate afflictions – as an aside: In my own campaign, I used a similar engine as a benefit for the few survivors of Vorel’s Phage – and yes, the plague was MUCH more deadly in my game. I digress. 12th level nets evasion, which upgrades to improved evasion at 20th level and 16th level provides immunity to poisons and diseases. The capstone nets immunity to damage and drain to the physical attributes as well as SR.

Finally, tranquility modifies mindrage to instead provide a +4 bonus to one ability score of your choice, or +2 to two of your choice. Kudos: The ability gets the scaling and bonus distribution options for mindrage upgrades right. 4th level nets Peacemaker as a bonus feat as well as a fitting, expanded spell-list. 8th level nets calm emotions (italicization missing) as a 1/mindrage SP; 12th level nets you the ability to focus on a single foe, gaining bonuses to weapon attacks and damage rolls. 16th level nets immunity to fear and confusion and lets you suppress those effects with allies nearby or in telepathic contact with you. The capstone nets immunity to fear and emotion spells/effects and 1/day psychic asylum. The verbiage here is a bit clumsy.

The pdf concludes with favored class options for the core races, drow, aasimar and tieflings – these generally are okay, though e.g. the drow’s entry is broken: “Gain ¼ resist vs. mental control and fear effects.” – that is not Pathfinder rules-language. The dwarf gaining a full round of mindrage per FCO taken is also pretty strong in comparison.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are much better than what I am accustomed to seeing from Wayward Rogues Publishing – while there are a couple of missed italicizations etc., these issues are not as prominent as usual. The rules-language, for the most part, is intact – there are a couple of instances where a dev could have helped and some balance concerns here and there, but, as a whole, the class is functional. Layout adheres to Wayward Rogues Publishing’s nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a couple of nice full-color artworks. We get basic bookmarks, which is nice…but be prepared for some teeth-gnashing in the comfort-department. Unlike any other 3pp I know of, you cannot highlight or copy text from the file, which means you will have to extract the information by hand, which sucks.

Margherita Tramontano delivers the best hybrid class by Wayward Rogues Publishing I have read so far. The orphic could have easily been an uninspired bloodrager knockoff; in fact, that’s what I kind of expected at first when reading the base chassis. Then, the class actually won me over. While linear, the disciplines allow for meaningful differentiation between orphics and ooze passion: They tackle complex concepts, sport really cool visuals and concepts (Sleepwalking mindrage? Sweating drugs? Come on, those are character concepts just waiting to happen!) and with a few exceptions, the execution is spot-on. I really, really like a lot this class does!

At the same time, the review-bot in me points out that the class does sport a couple of issues in its balancing, has a few components that can be abused...and ultimately, these shortcomings should make me rate this 3 stars. However, what works, and this is the majority of the class, mind you, is really, evocative, fun and shows both care and passion. None of the glitches really are gamebreakers that cannot be taken care of by a good GM. Fixing the few issues the class has is literally a task of 5 minutes for a competent designer.

Which brings me to my final verdict – I really wished that a picky developer or editor had ironed off the rough patches and snafus – the orphic has 5 star-potential and constitutes one of the hybrid classes that has its own identity and playstyle. With the flaws herein, some of which influencing rules-integrity and balance, I cannot go higher than 3.5 stars for this – consider the verdict here to be a conglomerate of 5 stars for the effort and concepts and 3 stars for the issues that haunt the pdf. If you are confident you can handle these hiccups, then give this a shot! The orphic is well worth taking a look at! Which is why, for the purpose of this platform, I will round up here, in spite of the comfort detriments.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Orphic Hybrid Class
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Super Spy Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/02/2018 10:27:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons.

The super spy is a hybrid class of investigator and vigilante and receives, chassis-wise, d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, firearms, hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow, and short sword as well as light armors. They get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Reflex- and Will-saves. The class begins play with +1d6 sneak attack and improves that every odd level thereafter by +1d6. Sneak attack’s rules have not been reprinted in the class. Third level yields uncanny dodge and 8th level provides improved uncanny dodge. The class begins play with Cosmopolitan as a bonus feat (not properly capitalized) – weird: The ability reprints the feat’s text, which can be a bit confusing, as one could assume that the effects of the feat are doubled.

Starting at 3rd level, the super spy adds his class level to the DC to intimidate him – though text and class table can’t decide on whether the ability’s called “unshakeable” or “unflappable”. At 1st level, he gains audacity, which is basically a Charisma-based version of Inspiration (1/2 class level + Charisma modifier) that can be applied to Acrobatics, Bluff and Escape Artist sans spending a point. Additionally, the super spy is a gadget expert – he gets his class level as a bonus to UMD checks. Additionally, he may 3 + his “Cha” modifier (should be Charisma) times per day use a bomb, extract or scroll acquired from another class – scroll activation requires 2 uses and a UMD-check against twice the scroll’s caster level. Which is a weird, weird formula. Why bother rolling? 5th level lets the super spy discern command words for wondrous items – for one use of his “item activation ability”, he can use the item once, immediately forgetting the command word thereafter…which is REALLY weird. I mean…someone can just pen it down, right? At 12th level, the super spy can activate wands as a move action instead of as a standard action.

4th level provides aura infusion: When the super spy gets an extract, he may use it. The second sentence of the ability is utterly confused: “Beginning at 4th level, the extract now persists even after the super spy sets it down. As long as the extract exists, it continues to occupy one of the super spy’s daily gadget expert uses. An infused extract can be imbibed by a non-super-spy to gain its effects.” OH BOY. Where do I even start? Does regular extract use still cost gadget expert uses? Yes or no? Is “infusing” the extract an action? If an alchemist hands an extract to the super spy and he gives it to the wizard, does it work? If the extract is consumed, does he regain the expended gadget expert use? The ability suddenly introduces terminology and expects it to be concise when it really isn’t. It’s clearly based on the infusion discovery, sans accounting for the added complexity of the super spy as a middle-man. 8th level yields cognatogen, 12th greater cognatogen, and 16th level grand cognatogen.

2nd level and every even level thereafter nets a spy talent, which is, at 10th level, expanded to include advanced talents. The talents include die-size increases for audacity, renown, helpers, proficiency – sounds familiar? The talents are basically all taken from the investigator’s array or the vigilante’s social talents. We can also find e.g. glimmering infusion among the advanced talents – missing the italicization. Problem: “…and the effect’s save DC is calculated using the level of the sacrificed extract.” Okay, whose governing attribute? The extract provider or the super spy? When an ability is mostly a reprint and then the little bit of original content, the little bit of tweaking has issues… Well. Not good.

The capstone nets supreme spycraft: As a full-round action, the super spy can shift his aura to a helpless creature, making divination spells target the creature instead (spell references not italicized). Additionally, after succeeding a save versus a mind-affecting ability, he continues t be aware of the creature’s commands and messages for the duration of the effect. Ehm, you know that mind-affecting =/= compulsion/charm…right? The former encompasses much more and often lacks commands. The super spy also gets +5 to Disguise versus folks taking 10 on Perception. And may 3 + Charisma (here, properly noted) times per day be treated as having rolled a 20 on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate or Sense Motive. Yeah, really weird – the capstone is totally disjointed from the class and feels like its constituent abilities should have been gained earlier and in a reduced capacity, accumulating to this point.

The class lacks favored class options and does not sport even the basic Extra X-uses feats.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are better than usual for Wayward Rogues Publishing – the rules-language is tighter, the wording more precise. I wish I could say it’s because the editing’s tighter. It’s not. There are still plenty of missed italicizations etc. It’s simply because the class consists of about 95% refluffed material that was cut copy pasted. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the artwork of the class, as seen on the cover, is GORGEOUS. The other artwork herein is a really nice stock-piece I’ve seen before. Still, aesthetically, this is pleasing. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Worse, you can’t highlight text or parse it or copy it from the pdf – you have to do so BY HAND. This is another comfort detriment and ironic, considering the amount of reprinted material herein.

Robert Gresham’s super spy is functional. Mostly. There are some wonky bits in the approximately 5% of new material that was not copied from other sources, i.e. the new material. As a whole, the class can be played. Here’s the problem: Why would you? The super spy, in a puzzling move, gets rid of everything really cool about the parent classes. No vigilante talents, no extracts, no bombs, no nothing. Don’t get me wrong, I like social talents – I adore them, actually. However, they and a few investigator tricks (minus studied strike) aren’t enough to carry a class.

And here’s the worst part: The super spy, as presented, is actually a fun drain for allied alchemists/investigators.

What do I mean by that? Well, a significant amount of the abilities of the class depend on getting extracts and bombs from other characters. So, unless your foes carry them around all the time (and the super spy isn’t super at stealing them in combat etc., making that a highly ineffective strategy…), the class will attach, like a parasitic leech, to any alchemist in the party, draining all the cool resources of his alchemist buddy.

Namely, bombs and extracts. I can picture the super spy whining in the CD-I’s Zelda: Wand of Gamelon/Faces of Evil’s Link’s annoying voice to his alchemist buddy to share the goodies. “Aaaaalcheeeemist…gimme booooombs!” In short, the class drains the resources of allies. There is also the problem with sneak attack interaction, the wonky bits that result from being a secondary user of class resources, etc. Oh, and don’t have an alchemist in your group? Congrats, you’re significantly worse and less interesting than both parent classes. And no, audacity does not allow you to take inspiration-based archetypes.

So yes, you could play this class. But honestly, if you want to support Wayward Rouges Publishing, buy another class. ANY other class by Wayward Rogues. Some are more flawed than this, but they at least either have more unique tricks or at least don’t FRICKIN DRAIN AN ALLIES’ RESOURCES.

Formally, this isn’t bad, if highly redundant and mostly taken from other sources. The comfort detriments are expected for Wayward Rogues material at this point, though I will continue complaining about them.

But the class not only isn’t perfect, it actually drags down the fun of allied classes and can spoil the fun of other players.

The super spy is, essentially, a parasitic class that sucks the cool out of alchemists and investigators.

Don’t get it. Stay away.

Beyond the flaws in the details, this hampers the playing experience of other players. As far as I’m concerned, it literally can’t get worse than that. My final verdict will be 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Super Spy Hybrid Class
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Thanks for your review. We simply never ran into any of the "parasite" issues that concern you during our playtest, and the player quite enjoyed playing the class. I feel you may have misread and misunderstood the mechanic-which is our fault for not making clearer in your case. Sorry, it missed the mark for you.
The Holiday Magi-Tech Dungeon
by Jerry W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2017 06:49:29

I had the privilege of having the author GM this adventure for me and some friends and it was a blast for the holidays. Imagine if you will, an amped-up challenge not unlike Bonekeep or Tomb of Horrors but with a variety of Christmas themed mythology for the threats. This is an enjoyable dungeon crawl with the greatest loot/reward system that fits the theme to a T. Jarret Sigler writes Pathfinder very, very well; he KNOWS Pathfinder very, very well. His broad imagination doesn't let you down, check out his other published products at Wayward Rogues for more examples of that.

If you are the type of person who enjoys Christmas movies and specials on TV when December rolls around and you're also a gamer, this adventure will entertain your holiday itch, too, when this season hits each year.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Holiday Magi-Tech Dungeon
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Wonderworker Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/14/2017 06:00:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was added to and moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of one of my patreons.

The wonderworker is a hybrid of two of the most powerful classes available, namely wizard and druid. Chassis-wise, it receives d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger, sling and quarterstaff, but not any armor. Her somatic component sporting spells are subject to arcane spell failure chance when wielding shields or wearing armor. The class gets ½ BAB-progression as well as good Will-save progression.

The class begins with Craft Wondrous Item as a bonus feat at first level. Spellcasting-wise, the wonderworker draws spells from the sorcerer/wizard-list, adding the druid spell-list. Druid spells thus converted are treated as arcane spells. Spells need to be prepared ahead of time and the governing spellcasting attribute of the class would be Intelligence. Spells are not prepared in a spellbook, but instead are stored in the wonderworker’s imagination. They begin play with all 0-level wonderworker spells + 3 1st-level spells, +Int-modifier 1st level spells. Upon gaining a new level, the wonderworker gains 2 new spells known of a spell level the wonderworker has access to. The wonderworker caps at 4 slots per spell level and is a full caster, gaining spells of up to 9th level.

Tying into this would be the 1st level wonderful bond, which may take one of two forms: The first is a bonded item, which grants access to Air, Animal, Earth, Fire, Plant or Water as a cleric domain. “Wonderworkers also have access to a set of Animal and Terrain domains.” – no idea what that sentence is supposed to mean. For the determining of the cleric level for these, class level is used. Wonderwrokers choosing this option gain bonus spells from the domain via the domain spell slot. The object does not cost anything and is masterwork. As always, casting without such an item requires a hefty concentration check. At higher levels, material and magic item abilities/properties may be added. The second option available would be a bond with a magical animal companion – this companion is incompatible, thankfully, with eidolons, etc.

This companion’s growth begins at BAB +1 and increase this to BAB +14. Save-wise, we oddly begin with +3 for Fort and Ref-saves, but scale up to what amounts to a ½ progression. The companion starts with 2 skill ranks and increases that to 16. Up to 8 feats are gained. At 3rd level, the companion gains +2 natural armor, increasing yb a further +2 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. In this interval, the companion also gains +1 Str/Dex bonus, culminating at +6 at 18th level. The companion gains 1 bonus trick and increases that to up to 7. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield ability score increases. The companion begins play with link and sports d10 HD, gaining up to 14 HD over the 20 levels of progression. The companion also gets SPs: At 1st level, a 0-level at-will SP; 3rd, 9th and 15th level yield an SP of choice from the wonderworker’s spell-list, usable 3/day, which may be of a spell level that can’t exceed ½ the companion’s HD. There’s a formatting glitch in the DC of these: “10 + ½ the creature’s hd + Con bonus” – spot the formatting deviation. Starting at 6th level, the natural attacks of the companion are treated as magic.

The beasts available would be: Ankheg, basilisk, bulette, chimera, cockatrice, girallon, griffon, kraken, manticore, owlbear, rust monster, sea serpent, stirge, unicorn and warg. Advancements are gained at either 4th or 7th level. The respective beasts have pretty different power-levels – a bit more careful balancing between the options would have been nice. It should also be noted that these options provide pretty potent assisted flight at 1st level – depending on the type of campaign you run, this can be problematic. Speaking of which: The wonderworker does, RAW, not get Handle Animal as a class skill, which is certainly weird, considering that the magical creature needs to use tricks. It should also be noted that these monsters don’t get their iconic tricks – you have a basilisk, but no petrifying gaze. You have a chimera, but no breath weapon. I get the balancing intention here, but yeah.

1st level, 2nd level and every even level thereafter yield one example of the signature ability of the class – a wonderwork. The first of these is a hybrid spell. The composite spells must be of the same school and the highest level of the constituent spells determines the spell level of the wonderwork. The longest casting time is inherited, as is the shortest range. You may, however, choose which target the wonderwork will inherit from the parent spells. The hybrid spell inherits the shortest duration. While the wording here is a bit wonky, wonderwork spells have a save t negate – you inherit one from the parent spells. If SR applies to one of the parent spells, the wonderwork is also susceptible to SR. A target hit by such a hybrid spell is subjected to the combined effects of both spells, though magical increases to ability scores do not stack. One sample combo-spell is provided (missing several italicizations and sporting heritage references to parent spells). Wonderwork hybrid spells may only be cast 1/day, but otherwise behaves like a spell.

The second form of wonderwork…seems to have been cut. That’s it. Weird.

The class comes with an archetype for the class, the meddlesome magician, who gains Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive and Sleight of Hand as class skills. The archetype gains 6 bonus skill points at 1st, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. When a target of a meddlesome mage’s spells is threatened by an ally, the target tales a -1 penalty to the save against the spell, which increases by -1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Flanking by allies increases the penalty by a further -1. This replaces wonderful bond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren’t perfect, but better than in most Wayward Rogues Publishing classes – the class is functional and works as depicted. Not perfectly, but yeah. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard with neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks. It is a bit unfortunate that you can’t highlight text or copy from the pdf – a comfort detriment.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s wonderworker is an interesting class: The class attempts to balance the superior spells with a weak chassis (the class does lack a crucial class skill) and a companion that is deliberately weaker than it could easily be.

Now, personally, I think that this class can be interesting, particularly for high-fantasy/high-powered campaigns that don’t mind the access to pretty good flight at low levels. At the same time, the wonderworker is a VERY strong option, in spite of the serious spells known restrictions. The hybrid spells are a WIDE OPEN concept that obviously, system-immanently, requires some GM oversight. That being said, the concept is presented in a relatively concise and succinct manner – probably as close to how you can depict the ambitious concept as possible. The magical beast companion tries to make up for the limitations on spells known, but to me, it seems like one hybrid spell class and one that focuses on going all out with the companion, would have probably been more rewarding.

That being said, I can see the class work well in some campaigns. If you’re running a higher powered high fantasy campaign, then this fellow may deliver if you’re willing to overlook some minor power-discrepancies between the companions and provide some GM guidance in hybrid spell creation. The editing glitches and inability to parse text from the pdf makes it more inconvenient to use than it should be. These are slight detriments and as such, we have, as a whole, a mixed bag here. A relatively solid, if slightly problematic class offering; slightly, but not significantly, on the positive side as far as mixed bags are concerned. Hence, I will rate this 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wonderworker Hybrid Class
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Beasts of Bright Mountain
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2017 07:49:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The finale for the roller-coaster-ride that is the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we get a fully detailed deity-write-up: The Creator, the neutral nature-deity of Celmae, is depicted – 6 domains…and no subdomains? Weird.

Cartography-wise, we get 2 player-friendly encounter-maps, which is pretty nice - though there are no full-page versions, which makes their use a bit annoying. Similar things hold true for the dungeon maps, though it should be noted that we get no player-friendly, key-less versions for these. So yeah, pretty much same old, same old for the comfort-levels of the cartography in the series.

On the plus-side, after the strange filler-module that was #5 (the whole module still makes no sense to me), we thankfully return to the hunt for Corvun Baerg that started in module #4. The Pcs follow Corvun’s trail into the tunnels, through glowing mold caverns…and here, things get real pretty much from the get-go. Cave leech. Black skeletons – the tunnel’s hard, but not close to how bad things will get; exiting into a mist-shrouded, secluded valley, the PCs will be stalked – the mythic Beast of Bright Mountain ( a mythic howler), can be found. This would btw. be as well a place as any to note that, while the statblocks are better than in almost every installment of the series, there are some formatting issues that could have been caught by even a cursory look at the final version: “Combat ReflexesM”…you get the idea. Still, the beast is certainly one of the most amazing foes in the whole series.

Following the path of Corvun, the PCs may well run into half-elven whisper knights – deadly adversaries, before finally entering the mountain temple of the Dark Mother. The dungeon is actually, craftsmanship-wise, pretty much the best in the series – we get summoning traps, varied foes (cultists, a bone golem (!!), blighted fey satyrs, shubian mountain goats – the enemy-diversity is here. It’s actually nice!! That being said, the formatting is sloppy: The text e.g. refers to A1 and 4b as regions – the map only sports a room number 4. The shubian goat mentioned has had its stats obviously cut-copy-pasted without properly formatting it. Its stats are also incorrect. The formatting, at least, is something you can see with even a cursory glance.

Heck, on the other side, custom NPC-stats like a tiefling alchemist (larval progenitor), are interesting- Corvun, btw., has turned into a delightfully disfigured dark satyr cleric with a glorious artwork – though, once again, there are some hiccups in these: Corvun’s AC, for example, is off be 1. More jarring would be the fact that the layout/formatting botched using superscript letters in every single instance. sigh That being said: Cave druids with yeth hounds! An intelligent, advanced fiendish chimera! An Apocalpyse shadow rat swarm! The enemies are more creative than all of the foes in the series so far combined; the module is significantly deadlier than the cake-walky sections in previous modules in the series – and all without resorting to dickish means. The challenge is brutal, but fair.

And then, there’d be the final encounter: Hexos Vell, the master of the cult, would be a beast-bonded witch/devotee of evil; he is supported by a mehrim cleric creature of Gof-DuoPog and a fiendish thousand young bloodrager as well as half-fiend variant clerics. We get a buff-suite here; combat tactics and some rather cool synergy here – as it should be, this is the hardest encounter in the whole series and can become really brutal. That being said, I thoroughly liked the combination – and, as a whole, the enemy selection within is diverse and the boss encounter is by far the most interesting one in the series regarding the challenges faced. I really wished that the adversaries featured herein would have been foreshadowed or distributed better among the respective individual modules of the AP.

We close the pdf with some ideas for further adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good, okay at best: There are some serious formal hiccups that should have been caught by even a cursory inspection. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with some amazing original artworks, some reused artworks and some stock pieces – all in full-color. Particularly the new artworks are really nice. The pdf comes with bookmarks. I already commented on the shortcomings, convenience-wise, of the cartography – basically the same symptoms as in the whole series. Similarly, the pdf does not allow for the highlighting of texts or copying from it. Annoying.

Derek Blakely, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Ewan Cummins deliver, THANKFULLY, at least a good finale for the series; after the horrible module #5, I wasn’t too thrilled for this one, but thankfully, both story and leitmotifs are back on track in this one. It once again feels like a module that belongs into this series.

The NPCs and combats faced herein are, by far, the most well-designed and interesting in the series – I wished that these aspects had been featured sooner in the series – it would have made the series much better. Difficulty-level-wise, this is by far the hardest module in the series, but for the right reasons: The challenges posed are potent and intriguing. While the quality of the module is hamstrung by the formal issues, I consider this to be one of the highlights in the series. I just wished that the dungeon per se would be more interesting: The temple itself is a collection of tunnels – claustrophobic and deadly, yes, but compared to #4’s unique, vertical shrine and amazing final encounter area, the pdf doesn’t sport an environment that evocative. That being said, this module is worth checking out.

The best way to utilize this whole series may be to run #1 (if you need a starting point), insert some modules of your own, and then mash #4 and #6 together: Stretch #4’s dungeon by inserting the NPCs and defenses in this module, add the potent cult leaders into the final encounter atop the maw – the scenario will be really cool and, in fact, such a combo would have had excellent chances at 5 stars + seal. In the end, the series, as a whole, feels unfocused in the story told – the series begins with aspirations of horror and then focuses suddenly more on heroic fantasy with a thin dark fantasy coating, to return to dark fantasy and serious challenges in this final module.

That being said, I consider this module to be one of the two highlights of the whole series; this may well be the module that had the best “skeleton” – what can be seen here, has all the potential of becoming glorious with a little bit of refinement, proper player maps and a slightly cooler dressing/presentation. The module may not be perfect, but it has some potential and can make for an interesting challenge. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of Bright Mountain
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Call to War
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2017 08:06:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we do receive a deity-write-up – this time around, this would be Rullux, god of tyrants, treachery, violence and war – 4 domains, 3 subdomains. As always, the deity does come with extended notes regarding the role of priests, shrines, etc. – all in all, a decent write-up. The pdf sports 3 full-color maps; 2 of these, alas, are so small that printing them out is problematic: They only take up part of the map, which is puzzling. Considering that they’re pretty player-friendly. The pdf also sports a full-page map of the final environment – which is just as full-color and nice as the others, but unfortunately sports numbers, disqualifying it as a player-map. Frustrating, to say the least.

The pdf sports a lot of statblocks – alas, much like quite a few of the previous installments in the series, there are quite a few statblocks that sport errors. So, if you find that kind of thing troubling, be aware of this component.

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

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, if you thought that PCs would want to quickly track down the mastermind between the cult of Shub-Niggurath’s rise…you’d be wrong. The series considers it to be more prudent to restock in Brighton, which you can sell on players, but frankly, I think the module could have used some guidance there. The whole first part of the module is a series of combats throughout the town of Brighton – there is a map of a temple, a map of streets, and encounters to be fought against orcs and ogres. Encounters that range from “boring filler” to “mega-lethal” – there is an encounter with 20 ashen orcs, at CR 1/3. And one against 8 skeletons and 16 zombies. Or, as my players would call them: Boring filler. Or fireball.

Then, suddenly, there’s a mutated ogre, whose critical hits, even with the statblock errors, are potent enough to insta-kill melee characters with a single critical hit. Sure, there is some treasure to be gained for saving folks, but yeah – I also was puzzled what constitutes “reusing” the mayor’s cloak to save him…and how the hell the PCs can see him tumble over the cliff and be stuck in a branch. Do the PCs have a side-view of the cliffside? If so, what’s the Climb DC etc. to reach it/gain it? This whole section was really weak and was very inconsistent with the tone of the adventure-series so far; up until now, we focused on dark fantasy, and now, suddenly, we have a war-scenario? Kinda felt like thematic whiplash. The one good thing I can say about part I would be, that some random terrain hazards/complications to simulate the chaos of the raid, are nice. That being said, have seen that done better as well.

Part II of the module, then, would be a journey onto Bright Mountain – oddly, the parts of the way up the mountain note letters, which hint, somewhat, at a missing map. Traveling up the mountain, the PCs…bingo, encounter monsters – Tendriculous. Forest Drakes. A camouflages pit trap. Sounds boring? It…unfortunately kinda is. The ogre camp that represents the “finale” of the module. It’s a camp (curiously called “town” in the text) with 2 ogre sentries. There are gore-heaps that animate (“The undigested”) and a survivor, doomed, unless the PCs intervene…the one instance where a bit of the series’ themes can be found. In the center of the camp, an ogre cleric is conducting a ritual to summon a demon, with the help of the other ogres and orcs. How many? No idea. And since the ritual ends when the PCs get close, I have no idea regarding the opposition’s numbers. The encounter’s set-up (2 CR 6 foes) makes this look like they’re supposed to be all that the PCs fight.

And that’s it. There’s a path into Bright Mountain. Improperly formatted loot. And a sour taste in my mouth.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still okay – not even close to good, but you can try to run this as written. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with solid full-color artworks, though I’ve seen some of them before. Cartography is similarly in full-color and I’ve already commented on their issues. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. As always, it is pretty annoying to note that selecting text or copying it, is impossible – that aspect has been disabled.

This module was penned by Michael Reynolds, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Charlie Brooks. It is a module that exists in this series…but imho, it’s not a part of the series.

This whole module is a prime example of filler.

This module does absolutely nothing to propel the meta-plot forward; it is based on a curiously non-sensible place within the series.

For the most part, crucial information is utterly opaque. Orcs and ogres that vanish suddenly (mentioned in the text, then gone, no stats), weird descriptions; it is evident that this module wants to be the series’ “Red Hand of Doom” and “Hook Mountain Massacre” – alas, it fails at coming even remotely close to either. It seeks to evoke them, without getting what made these classics work.

The encounter-balance is all over the place and bogs the PCs down in tedious combat that should be abbreviated by fireballing the heck out of everything.

Most puzzling, though: Beyond the technical and design-shortcomings, this module never manages to really evoke any sort of proper atmosphere, it lacks the quasi-occult, horrific threat that suffused even the subpar second installment.

The talk with the prisoner in the end gets closest to something intriguing, but boils down to either tough choice and needless ickyness that isn’t really explained, set up or deserved.

Instead of a compelling story or atmosphere (the big strong points of #1 and #4), unique environments or anything, really, we have a succession of utterly bland, generic combats.

Orcs, ogres and some random encounters, held together by a flimsy premise and next to no story, rhyme or reason. I can see folks salvaging #2 for the flavor and ideas in the module, flawed though it may be. The same can’t be said about this module. I can literally picture no reason to get this module. I tried really hard, I really did, but I can’t think of any even remotely good component about this. Not one.

Even if you play the adventure-series in sequence, I strongly suggest replacing this module with one that actually sports the themes of the series. Adding a “I die for Shub-Niggurath 11eleven!!!”-throwaway-line to generic orcs dying does not make them interesting.

In short: This module is generic filler and the low point of the series. Skip it. Go from #4 to #6. Add some other module. Anything. My final verdict will clock in at 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Call to War
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Belly of Rot
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/09/2017 04:47:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As before in the series, we do get a detailed write-up on one of the deities of Celmae – this time around, the deity in question would be “The Traveler” – a good deity of travel, void, etc. – 4 domains, 4 sub-domains are included. We get notes on priest’s role, shrines, etc. – while pretty close in themes to Desna etc., it is a solid write-up.

Now what’s kinda awesome: The complex map provided for the final encounter of this module actually is printer-friendly, takes up a whole page, and is player-friendly – big kudos there. I really wished the AMAZING side-view map of the complex, which is pretty vertical, would have been included in a similar manner. I really liked it, it’s nice – but my players will never get to see it. Still, a step up from the series’ standards.

All righty, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the final conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around? So, the PCs come to Brynndell, the capital of the nation, following the trail to Corvun Baerg, who has a hand in the machinations of Shub-Niggurath’s cult. To be more precise, the trail leads to an ossuary/museum, the Os Domus, where a properly lined up chase promptly erupts. Goons intervene as well, and their statblock shows that…well, there are glitches and the annoying formatting deviations from statblock formatting standards are back. It’s puzzling to me to see errors in a fighter 1/rogue 1 statblock. sigh the glitches could be worse, but still. Sooner or later, the PCs will properly come in contact with the Grey Maidens and ultimately deal with “Corvun Baerg” – a double, as it turns out. PCs that did their homework will know that he recently purchased climbing equipment.

The trail leads into the wilderness, passed farmsteads where cultists anointed their journey in blood, to the grotto known as the Eternal Womb; a horse pyre, a ditched campsite, a hole in the ground – getting down into the hole will show a quasi-sub-terraneous grove, where dryads can be found – ostensibly corrupted by Shub-Niggurath’s influence, they strangely still have their CG alignment… Cool, on the other side: As seen on the cover, there is a giant, fey-touched snallygaster; there are sickly moss strands and tunnels – there is serious atmosphere here, including a doom-prophesying pillar that hints at the shape of things to come for the Shattered Skies setting. Crossing polluted water across a stagnant lake, the PCs will have to once again deal with a graven guardian as the PCs make their way towards the subterranean temple of the Dark Mother – where the aforementioned, cool battle-map-style map comes into play: Cultists chant around the Maw, a bottomless hole containing an avatar of the elder god; above which another cultist is held by ropes; the forlarren concubines of Corvun lack stats…but the satyr slayer boss does gain stats. While we get 3 cultist stat-blocks, the module isn’t very clear regarding the nature of which to use when. Unfortunately for the PCs, Corvun has already ventured forth towards the Bright Mountains, his apotheosis complete – so, at least for now, stopping that man will be the next stop on the path of the PCs trying to foil the machinations of the cult.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – while there are annoying discrepancies and deviations from the standards, the statblocks are generally in a usable state. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that is rather nice. The artworks herein are a blend of neat original ones and a few stock pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is nice. The module sports really nice cartography – one map comes in a nice, full-page player-friendly version, but I wished the same could be said of the cool overview map. As always, it is rather annoying that selecting text/cut-copying text, has been disabled.

Rodney Sloan, Robert Gresham and Simon Peter Muñoz deliver, content-wise, my favorite installment in the series so far: We have diverse challenges. Flavorful, atmospheric write-ups…and more importantly, the vertical mini-dungeon and the cool final encounter sport a lot of neat environmental hazards – this has, by far, the coolest environments in the series so far; unique, flavorful backdrops.

There are downsides to the module, though: Beyond the weak editing/formatting components, the adversaries, after the last, rather challenging two modules…are a cakewalk. The final boss is a horrid wimp. At level 4, my players would one-on-one the fellow, in spite of the environmental hazards. If the characters don’t all fail their saves against the save-or-suck low-level spells. Additionally, some of the opposition in the encounters could be defined more concisely. If the editing was tighter, then this would most assuredly be a module I could recommend more warmly. As provided, this is one of the better installments in the series, though, and may be worth getting for the low price-point for the environments and ideas.

In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If the, at times, opaque nature of the module is something that would annoy you, round down. If you don’t care about that and are willing to work with the module, round up. My final verdict will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Belly of Rot
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Despicable Deeds
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:43:02

An Endzietgeist.com review

The third installment of this series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Included in this pdf would be a brief write-up of Coirithradail, Celmae’s god of cities, currency and horses – the write-up sports notes on temples, priest’s roles, etc. - 5 domains are granted by the deity, as well as 4 subdomains – for example “LanguageAPG”; just to show you one example of the editing-hiccups herein. It should also be noted than 2 of the pages of this module are devoted to recapping on how to run haunts. I don’t have anything against a rules-recap like this – in fact, I consider it helpful for new GMs. However, it’s weird to see this in module #3 – after all, the rather…let’s say, “less than superb”, module #2 sported haunts. It also doesn’t really bring anything new or is particularly concise – it’s literally copy-pasted from the SRD…minus the spell-italicizations and similar formatting peculiarities. It’s puzzling and eats up word-count real estate of an already pretty brief (but inexpensive) module.

As before, we don’t get a proper map-appendix or player-friendly versions of the maps, but after the first two modules, I assume that you’re familiar by now with the shortcomings in the cartography-department.

All right, that out of the way, let’s take a look at the module! The following is a discussion of the content herein. As such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? So, if all went well (unlikely) in the previous, pretty weak installment of the series, then the PCs should have picked up the Lamentations of the Fungus Men – and from here on, the trail should point the PCs towards the revered Bhestos family and the family’s scion Maartin – I strongly suggest using the optional hooks as well to point the PCs in the right direction.

Maartin has had a tough time: His wife Farrah came down with depression after childbirth, and his son Yurah similarly was weak and ill – seeking respite, Maartin hired the nanny Juen – who only exacerbated the situation, started an affair with Martin – which was promptly found out. Maartin’s wife hanged herself, while the “nanny”, truly a totenmaske in disguise, proceeded to fully indoctrinate Maartin into the cult’s fold, with the Dark Mother bestowing deformed, but obedient children to the Besthos’ family’s scion. What became of Maartin’s child? Consigned to the attic, the kid perished. Yeah, the background here is dark. Oh, and the vines around the building? Assassin vines. Classic.

Aforementioned totenmaske may be wounded, but the entity also is the most dangerous foe in the module – big plus: The stats are more solid than anything I’ve seen in the series so far, even though there are deviations from the standard in the statblock formatting. Similarly positive: The fully mapped mansion’s rooms sport interaction points, read-aloud texts etc. A HUGE plus: The tragic history, including the barrier that damaged the totenmaske, makes sense – the graven guardians, the attic whisperer that once was Yurah, the haunts – they actually tell a story of sorts. Not as well as e.g. Pyromaniac Press’ “From the Ashes”, but better than any module in the series so far. Ultimately, the PCs will have to defeat Maartin and his pickled, deformed “children”, eliminate the totenmaske and hopefully help the haunts being resolved – just slaying the fellow won’t help regarding the haunts. Ultimately, the trail of Shub-Niggurath’s corruption seems to point to the capital city of the region…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not exactly good, but not even close to as bad as in #2 – thankfully. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that’s nice and the pdf comes with some really nice, original artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Cartography, while nice, is inconvenient due to the lack of player-friendly versions and the small maps within – not exactly helpful. The module has copying of the text disabled, which is somewhat annoying.

Charlie Brooks and Jacob W. Michaels deliver the, by far, best installment in the series so far: The haunted house depicted within is interesting, atmospheric and lacks big issues – it can be considered to be a solid take on the genre.

There’s one problem here. It’s a haunted house module. I love those, as pretty much everybody who’s been following my reviews can attest to. The problem here is the genre; the fact that I can rattle off, at the top of my hat, at least 5 SUPERB haunted house-modules for Pathfinder alone.

Beyond the well-known examples from Paizo’s oeuvre, we have gems like Pyromaniac Press’ “From the Ashes”, for example. If we go beyond the borders of the system, I can spend hours, literally, extolling the virtues of various legendary haunted house modules. In direct comparison, this falls flat of that level of excellence.

Don’t get me wrong. For the low price point, this is a solid offering. It raises the bar of the series back to a level, where I am hopeful for the adventure-series. At the same time, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the module when seen in context. If you’re running the series, this is worth checking out, though. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Despicable Deeds
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Tower of Hidden Doors
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2017 05:43:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second adventure in the „Whispers of the Dark Mother adventure arc clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first things first: It should be noted that this module contains a two-page write-up of the deity Amaura, the mother of life and oceans – this deity was first introduced in Cultures of Celmae: Majeed, but has been expanded in this module: We learn about priest’s roles, shrines, etc. While, flavor-wise, the deity write-up is pretty concise, you should be aware that no Inner Sea Gods-style obediences are included. The deity comes with 7 domains, but no subdomains noted, and sports two different favored weapons – the latter can render things slightly wonky regarding proficiencies etc. Still, as a whole, the prose is rather nice.

The module also contains stats for the mythos grimoire that drove the plot of #1 – the lamentations of the fungus men. The tome comes with research DC, quick and concise little research rules (in case you’re not using them) and a nice “cost” for studying the tome. Spell-wise, colostrums cohort conjures forth lemurs with the entropic creature template added (having the stats here would have been more convenient). The symbol of the creator would basically be a variant of the Elder Sign as a spell – it protects against worshipers and creatures of the elder gods and is a level 1 spell, for pretty much every caster but witch, druid (weird, since shamans can cast it) and magi. The spell is pretty potent, but considering the context of the adventure arc, the PCs will need such an edge sooner or later. Now, the lamentations also contain a new occult ritual, the Ritual of Becoming. It is not one PCs should attempt. Kinda hilarious: Most mad cultists think that the failure of the rather difficult ritual is the intended effect. What’s the failure? Well, you call Gof duPog, the probably most unfortunately-named demon I’ve seen in a while – this fellow would be an advanced, entropic, gnarled goat demon (CR 7) and stats are included. It should be noted that I noticed some minor hiccups in the stats, but not to the point where using the creature would be problematic. The pdf also sports stats for the CR ½ lesser shadow (whose AC line has this explanation (+1 +2 deflection, +1 dodge, +2 Dex) – the first +1 is a remnant and should be deleted. Similarly, AC reads “14 15, touch 14…” – editing should have caught that.

The pdf also includes a story-feat (nice), namely Enemy Cult. Problem: The feat is unusable as provided: Part of the Benefits-section is missing! It looks like it should grant you SPs (including symbol of the creator), but still – even casual checking should have shown that a whole pararaph’s missing from the feat!

All right, so that would be the rules-section of the pdf – now, let’s move on to the module itself. This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, after the chase that ended #1 of the series, the PCs will probably be stumped – they are promptly called to Sherriff Byron Tate – who offers a sizable reward for the apprehension of the one-eyed half-orc that led the assault on Lady Canterville. The PCs thus should have enough motivation to find out more about the assailant and the book – a brief table to gather information does provide further clues. Slightly weird: There is a DC 1-entry that basically constitutes failure and a hint to move the plot along. Ultimately, the PCs will venture into the Ogre’s Belly, where half-orc drunkards will try to mess up the PCs for daring to venture into “their” tavern. The likelihood of a bar fight is quite high, and 1d6 complications add a sensible amount of chaos to the proceedings. Slightly odd: The module introduces the “slick” weapon qualiy, which denotes weaponry that can render the floor slick (d’uh) or help escape grapples – while generally valid, the lack of a duration here is just one reason why the like is usually handled differently in the rules.

The tavern comes with a solid full-color map, but one that is pretty small (too small for minis when printed out) and it comes only as part of the module’s pages – i.e., if you were to print out the page, you’d have about ¾ text on the page that you have to cut off. There is no player-friendly map of the tavern sans room numbers etc. These points of criticism, btw., extend to all of the maps featured in the module. Compared to the industry standard with maps in the appendix, often player-friendly versions as well, this is rather inconvenient and a big comfort detriment as far as I’m concerned. The numbers on the map are also kinda puzzling, since there are no room descriptions keyed to them – one room is relevant, I assume #7, judging from the room’s description. The PCs will sooner or later get the approval to look through Kemon’s room – an in it, they are assaulted by an iron cobra. Stats not included, not hyperlinked, not even highlighted in the text. Not how that’s usually formatted – at least the CR and source tend to be noted. If the PCs managed to save Faven in #1, they’ll be granted a scroll of lesser restoration and have some assistance regarding crafting. Yep, magic item not properly italicized.

Anyways, the trail leads to the eponymous tower of hidden doors. Right before the tower, on the approach, there is a pumpkin patch, one housing a fully-stated jack-o’-lantern creature – a plant monster with a fear aura, a strangling entangle, etc. – per se nice, if weak critter. Which brings me to a balancing aspect: If the PCs hustle towards the tower (distance to Brighton is opaque), they are fatigued. No save, no check. That’s not how hurrying regarding overland travel works in PFRPG.

Anyways, the rest of the module deals with the exploration of the tower. Each room comes with read-aloud texts, which is pretty nice, though there are some strange wordings here: “Only a single leaf bangs against the frame.”, for example, is a really weird piece of prose. I have never heard a leaf “bang” against anything. There also are a few instances where the formatting is weird. The tower itself has an interesting background story – Wovunda, a former oracle and adherent of the dark arts, has once perished in this place – his undead existence is responsible for the haunts that can be found in the tower. The undead has also stolen the book from the werewolf cultists, who still camp inside (!!!) after a run-in with the shadows of the place. How dumb can you get? Speaking of which: The guy who could not be caught by the PCs before is so dumb, he left a hint to where you can find him in his room in town, even though he can’t be tracked?? Then again, the werewolves are so alert, they automatically perceive the PCs. Stealth-rules? Why bother? Urgh.

Unfortunately, the PCs won’t really find out any details about Wovunda – and the module doesn’t use the haunts to convey anything; they miss the chance of indirect storytelling. Another issue: At one point, the PCs can be penalized for having a good Perception. Yeah, not good design there.

The BBEG of the module remains opaque, the haunts don’t really tell a story. Creatures are referenced in the text, lacking CR-values and proper formatting, making close-reading VERY important. In some cases, the text e.g. mentions using telekinesis to use chains to hit PCs – including damage-values, but not even a short-hand for the BAB. Monster-stats, where present, sport glitches in basic stats like attack-values. The formatting makes the werewolf-cultists look like they have magic items, when they don’t. Neither damage, nor attack values are correct. With the DR, the combat against them will drag sorely and be pretty annoying, in spite of their weakened nature. Not even starting with the incorporeal adversaries, which can break groups without the proper tools…which, at level 2, may well be almost all groups. This module is challenging in all the wrong ways, using incorporeal subtype and DR/silver as a basic tool to make what would otherwise be easy combats frustrating in all the wrong ways.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are no longer okay. It is readily apparent that this module did not see proper editing – from obvious formatting hiccups, to layout stuff that should be here (notes of monsters in room) to the math being wrong, this module is bad. Layout is gorgeous; a to-column full-color standard that is really nice to look at. The artworks within are similarly amazing – full-color, original, really nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Cartography is full-color and solid, but the lack of big versions and player-friendly maps make this inconvenient. As always with Wayward Rogues Publishing, you can’t highlight/copy/text, which is annoying when you’re trying to fix the numerous glitches.

Maria Smolina, Jarret Sigler, Robert Gresham and James Eder’s continuation of the series is a disappointment. The plot and behavior of the NPCs makes no sense whatsoever. The, per se, interesting location does not tell its tale, in spite of everything being in place. Instead, it feels generic and cobbled together. The boss having the McGuffin makes no real sense either. The combats fall on the frustrating side of things, not due to difficulty, but due to really nasty defensive options that can’t be properly deduced beforehand. The module also displays a puzzling ignorance regarding several PFRPG-rules. In short, this is not a good module; where #1 was saved by some ideas and a generally decent leitmotif, this one is generic in all the wrong ways. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, rounded up by a tiny margin due to the neat artwork and the potential to salvage this for the continuation of the series. Then again, you may be better off improvising a stand-in module…

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Tower of Hidden Doors
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