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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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Creator Reply:
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.



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[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.

..

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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.



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[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.

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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.



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[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.

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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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Tales from the Laughing Dragon Inn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 04:49:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure-anthology clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us still with a rather impressive 50 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that the eponymous tavern, the “Laughing Dragon Inn”, is depicted between front cover and editorial/ToC-page, with full map and brief room descriptions – the section can be used as a kind of hand-out, if you wish. The full-color map provided is nice, though it should be noted that no one-page or high-res jpg-version is included – if you just want to hand out the map, you’ll need to cut off the text. This holds true for all the maps contained herein. Whether or not you consider that a plus or not depends on your tastes. Unfortunately, there are no key-less player-friendly maps in the pdf.

It should be noted that the advertisement text is incorrect – these adventures are not for levels 1 – 10. Please consult my discussion of the adventures below for the proper level-ranges covered.

All right, got that? Well, we begin this book with a recap of the storied history of the Laughing Dragon Inn. GMs do get an extended history of the place, 6 sample events during night-time and 8 fluff-only write-ups of tavern staff, from barkeeper to owners to servers. Speaking of which: The picture of the servers is pretty much fanservice – personally, I’m not a big fan of the picture, as the exaggerated cleavage of the ladies felt like a bit too much…but then again, the pdf does something clever and actually makes that a plot-point of sorts….which is pretty ingenious and smart. Beyond that, the pdf does go into lavish detail regarding the inn’s menu: Food, drink and desert all get their own list of entries, with a general idea of prices provided as well. All in all, a solid way to start the compilation and establish an identity for the place within Brighton.

All right…and this is where we begin taking a look at the adventures. As such, I’d strongly advise potential players to jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Good!

The first module would be Kendra Leigh Speedling’s “Dust to Dust”, intended for level 4 PCs. The PCs attend the festival of St. Gran the Dust Warden, but the festivities don’t last too long – the PCs soon find that the wizard Viravar Harx has been murdered. The investigation of the body comes with multiple skill DCs to use. Mysterious: There don’t seem to be any tracks, just blood droplets here and there…and, big plus, the pdf does take some spells into account, though, alas, the spell references are not properly italicized – this, unfortunately, does happen more often throughout the module – the formatting could have been more precise here and there.

Anyway, the trail has not gone cold – and people seem to suspect Dervila, the sorceress, who would be the rival of the deceased wizard. The sorceress tries to Bluff the PCs away and is pretty good at it – but sooner or later, they will have to get inside of the house – in her workshop, the PCs will have a chance to duke it out with a junk golem and ultimately, will be able to track the sorceress to a hidden cave beneath her home – where cave scorpions and wights await – annoying formatting glitches in the stats, unfortunately included – while they can be used as written, there are e.g. plusses before CMD-values. Weird. On the plus-side: The artwork for Delvira is really neat – consumed by rage, the sorceress has become a penanggalen sorceress - a relatively brutal showdown. All in all a decent sidetrek with some cool monsters…though the BBEG didn’t exactly act that smart.

Rodney Sloan’s “The Demon’s Paw” is also for PCs of 4th level. Uness you believe the ToC – then it’s intended for 6th level PCs. It also takes place on a festival – the Wyre’s Winter Weave Festival. Dieter Hagen, who did not have an easy life, to say the least, has recently come into the possession of a demon’s paw…and this babau’s paw was unfortunately shown to less than scrupulous folks. Dieter is thus in attendance when a CR 7 fetchling dancer takes center stage with her haunting sandman abilities – this distraction is used by cultists to infiltrate the inn, capture Hagen and try to summon the demon – if that works out, stats are provided…and yes, the paw is a nice variant crawling claw. A nice artwork of a blood-spattered handout can also be found on one page – which not have that as a full-page hand-out in the appendix? Stopping the cultists, with or without having to deal with the demon, will end the sidetrek, though the reputation of the PCs may suffer from the involvement in the eerie proceedings, just while the cult of Shub-Niggurath starts plotting against them. Basic version of the monkey’s paw-theme – the weakest module herein, barely more than two encounters that PCs will probably hack through before realizing any aspect of the story.

“Under the Revenant’s Mask” by Thiago Rosa is up next, written for characters level 6 – 8. Strangely, this module doesn’t seem to sport a synopsis. Aurora, the daughter of Doctor Damile, is a talented singer that has fallen in love with Ceasar, a cook. Damile sought to impersonate Ceasar via disguise self (not italicized), but went overboard – his daughter died in a tried accident while running from him. Aurora has now returned as a revenant, hell-bent on revenge against an innocent and grief-stricken Ceasar, which Damiel sees as a chance – he had planned to resurrect his daughter via alchemical means…So that’s the set-up. Slightly strange: The first attack of zombies and revenant that kicks off the module does not get the usual encounter-formatting, happening exclusively in the flavor text. Anyways, Ceasar hires the PCs and they will sooner or later want to contact the local merfolk information broker (whose stats contain glitches). Maartin Bestor, the noble with a penchant for occultism, is not a kind man – but he may identify the zombies as alchemical creations. This will lead the PCs sooner or later (perhaps after the similarly basic depiction of the second night’s assault) to Damiel’s abode, where more undead roam – including Aurora, who gets a really cool artwork. Here’s the thing: Damiel is a potent alchemist – if the PCs haven’t figured out his possible involvement in the death of his daughter, the finale may well prove to be beyond them. That being said, there isn’t much in the way of proof other than speculation and roleplaying the dynamics here – which is a bit of a pity, for the visuals of the masked remnant are cool. This adventure suffers from its brevity and feels like an abbreviated form of a story that should have been more complex.

“Take me to the River” by Anthony Torretti is a sidetrek for 8th-level characters. The PCs are hired by a mining company’s prospector to investigate the disappearance of her assistant, convinced that Brighton’s folk are somehow involved. The PCs also encounter Artinus, an eccentric local druid and begin a brief local investigation here: Theis is structurally the best investigation in the book: We get read-aloud clues, several of them, guiding the PCs through the questioning process and the closer investigation of the man’s disappearance. The deductive reasoning to recreate the last whereabouts of the missing assistant is nice. The trail leads to the outhouse, which actually features a sewer system! In the mapped sewers, the PCs will have to face elder things and cultists…and rescue potentially the missing Lenam…who tells the PCs about the horrid, planned assault on the mining camp: In the water, pods (DCs to analyze the like provided) are bound to hatch, unleashing horrors upon the camp! The PCs have to get to the camp and deal with the Broodqueen of Shub-Niggurath (who comes with a GLORIOUS artwork) before the vile brood of elder things hatches. While not perfect, the sidetrek is structurally the strongest and presents a fun module.

The final adventure would be “A Comfortable Skin”, penned by Charlie Brooks, and intended for 10th level characters. Few entertainers are as popular as the gnomish pair Kavan and Lira Thresser and their adopted gnome son Barradan. Mywynn and Tannileigh seem to bit out of town, leaving Kavan in charge of the Laughing Dragon. He offers the PCs some serious money for the retrieval of stolen goods – and so the PCs set out to confront the Plundering Blades, relatively powerful, multiclassed bandits. Interrogation, however, yields that the bandits were hired to retrieve the stolen goods via nonlethal means by Teera Greyth, a seamstress. She is convinced that something’s not right at the Laughing Dragon…and close inspection of the intercepted shipment shows no less than 9 scrolls of gentle repose in a hidden compartment. At the Laughing Dragon, the PCs may well stumble into a deathtrap: The entertainer family has been taken over by intellect devourers…one of them even sporting assassin levels! And yes, both Mywynn and Tannileigh may be rescued…provided the PCs survive the brutal trio of aberrations… Solid, challenging, combat-centric sidetrek.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not exactly perfect – there are several formatting glitches, a couple of typos and if you’re picky about statblocks being correct…well, you’ll find hiccups there as well. Layout adheres to an actually beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports copious amounts of artworks – including some really amazing, high-quality pieces. Big kudos. The cartography is full-color and also sports some nice maps – though I wished we got one-page versions of them…or player-friendly ones. As provided, their lack represents a comfort detriment. Speaking of which: It is puzzling that an anthology of this length has no bookmarks whatsoever. Wile we’re at it: You can’t highlight or select text from the pdf, which is a further comfort detriment when creating your own notes.

Robert Gresham, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Rodney Sloan, Anthony Torretti, Charlie Brooks, Simon Munoz, Thiago Rosa and Jarrett Sigler have created a per se pretty solid anthology: While some of the modules suffer from their brevity a bit, as a whole, we have a couple of solid dark fantasy yarns here – nothing groundbreaking, but as a whole, I’d consider this compilation to be on the positive side. Considering the low asking price, the amount of content is pretty neat. I’d tentatively recommend this compilation in warmer terms if it was at least a bit convenient: The missing player-friendly maps, the lack of bookmarks, the glitches, which, while not crippling, do accumulate…they all conspire to drag this down. The adventures themselves are challenging and very lethal, as befitting the relatively dark fantasy-ish themes – and as a whole, I liked how this uses the Laughing Dragon Inn as a sort of story nexus and hub. The pdf, in short, does have something to offer if you’re not picky about formal hiccups – there is fun to be had here.

That being said, I can’t overlook the shortcomings the compilation does have. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars…but honestly, I can’t round up for this. If you’re looking for some brief, inexpensive dark fantasy sidetreks and don’t care too much about weaknesses in organization, editing and formatting, then this may be well worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tales from the Laughing Dragon Inn
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Seeds of Evil.
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:06:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Whispers of the Dark Mother-adventure series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

..

.

All righty, only GMs around?

We begin this first installment of the saga near the town of Brighton, where farms producing fruit produce a quilt of colors, steeping the town – the prose does a nice job setting the stage and the adventure hook is pretty evident from the get-go, as the first sequence of read-aloud text points the PCs towards Lady Celeste Canterville’s mansion, where an offer of free apples seeks to lure potentially interested parties towards the place. PCs more inclined to first complete some legwork will have a chance to research a variety of rumors, some of which are automatically found in certain taverns, rewarding PCs for covering their bases. A detailed selection of sample sentences to help GMs with read-aloud sections on various topics will be particularly appreciated by less experienced GMs that have a harder time come up with ad-hoc responses.

At the lady’s mansion, the PCs are greeted by her servant and they are approached by a bard, one Kara (with full stats, which, alas, sport some minor glitches, something that can be observed for all statblocks in the book), who seeks to join them on their trip at the behest of Lady Celeste – you see, the lady wants the PCs to procure gate willow seeds and some other herbal ingredients. These magical plants can enhance summoning spells and once again, a lot of detailed responses are provided for the social interaction. The harvesting of these plant components, is, however, fraught with danger – both the willows and the whipweed seeds required can be hazardous to harvest, which is why the PCs are contacted in the first place. After this talk, a woman called Shala contacts the PCs as well – her son Faven has gone missing and she beseeches the party to look for him, handing them a wood-carving to gain the lad’s trust.

Thus, the PCs venture into the woods – which are represented by a mini-wilderness exploration, noting landmarks, flora and fauna to be found within the area. A random encounter table can add further complications to the exploration, if required. Beyond these random encounters, there also is a sequence of planned encounters, which include fire-breathing vor-gremlins. The exploration takes the PCs past sharp seeds, a cave-fisher’s lair and puts them into direct confrontation with xtabay plants as well as the previously mentioned whipweeds, establishing a leitmotif of a magical and dangerous flora – subtle, but a concise leitmotif nonetheless. As the PCs approach Bright Mountain, they will sooner or later find the gate willow grove, and these plants have managed to call forth an akata guardian that makes for a potent boss for this sequence of the module. At one point during their trip, the PCs will also have a chance to test their mettle against an ogre, but ultimately, they should arrive back at Lady Celeste’s mansion sooner or later, meeting the lady in her library…but not all seems to be going well. The doors of the mansion are ajar, Emilio lies slain and cultists led by a half-orc are threatening the lady.

Ultimately, the cultists seem to have the goal of acquiring a rare tome, namely the Lamentations of the Fungus Men…and here, the module changes its so far calm and serene pace in favor of a nice little chase – though ultimately, the one-eyed half-orc will manage to abscond with the book, leaving a grievously wounded and either poisoned or diseased lady Canterville granting the PCs a precious few hints, before expiring, blood foaming from her mouth….and the denouement, like magical question etc., will not yield more…but the PCs will probably be enticed enough to follow up on this mystery.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are the weak points of this module: Lower cap skills, italicization hiccups etc. can be found, as well as some plural/inflection hiccups that sharply contrast with the otherwise rather evocative prose. Layout adheres to a really aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard and the pdf features some nice full-color artworks – impressive for the low price-point! You cannot highlight text in the pdf, which is somewhat jarring, but less annoying in an adventure than in a crunch book that you’re likely to extract data from. Cartography is full color and generally solid: A player-friendly version of the region is included. However, the maps for both the wilderness exploration and the combat at the end are pretty small – getting a one-page version to print them out, preferably sans map-key, would have been nice.

Robert Gresham, with additional writing by Ewan Cummins and Jarret Sigler, delivers a nice beginning to the “Whispers of the Dark Mother”-storyline here. The module provides a sufficient amount of information regarding the proceedings and manages to establish a nice atmosphere of a fantastic wilderness exploration. The thematic leitmotif is subdued, yet very much present, helping the overall atmosphere of the module. The prose, when it doesn’t stumble over a minor hiccup, is actually really good – It is not too verbose, but detailed and well-crafted enough to manage to evoke a unique atmosphere. So yes, this was actually a solid read. That being said, the module, quite deliberately, begins with a slow and steady, almost picturesque build-up that is sharply contrasted at the end of the module, making for a nice setting of the stage for the darker things to come. This is not a groundbreaking module, but for the fair price point, it delivers. Seeds of Evil achieves its goal of setting up the story and establishing the tone of the things to come. If the formal components like proofing and editing had been better, this would have received a warmer recommendation from me, but as a reviewer, I cannot ignore these flaws. It runs well enough, though, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up by a margin for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds of Evil.
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Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/22/2017 04:20:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second compilation of Wayward Rogues‘ hybrid classes clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Well, I have covered a lot of these before in their stand-alone releases, so let’s just revisit them briefly before checking out the Bullet Disciple, shall we?

The dimensionist has obviously gotten a bit of a facelift: While the rules-language for non-euclidean intrusion is a bit less refined regarding its wording, it now thankfully talks about its action economy…and its daily uses have been nerfed down to 1/day at first level, +1/day at 7th and 15th level. The ability also still lacks a range. Unfortunately, this results in quite a few dead levels characterized exclusively by a new spell slot, not necessarily even a new spell level reached. Spell distortions are not freely choosable and are presented in a painfully non-standard formatting. Speaking of formatting and confusion: Some abilities are after the capstone – some of which previously were distortions. And at 17th level, the class, weirdly, notes “Nimble +5” in the table. This is…worse than in the stand-alone version. The italicizations are still missing left and right and the archetypes are similarly nothing to write home about. Ouch.

Okay, so no improvement there, what about the incarnate? Well, we still have dead levels. We still have partial redundancies (the base class gains martial weapon proficiency) and a revelation of a mystery nets access to that and Exotic Weapon Proficiency for all such weapons. A lot of the revelations still lack their activation action. Abilities still have not been codified properly.

The librarian still fails to specify how many memory points he actually gets. Lightning instead of electricity…it’d have been a few minutes of work to make this class work properly. It’s so close. A single capable rules-dev could have done so in less than half an hour. Alas, it has been taken 1:1 from its pdf.

…well, on the plus-side, there are two new archetypes for the librarian: The Bibliophile, that replaces instant study and quick study with halving the required rest duration for his race and 14th level providing immunity to starvation, thirst and sleep for as long as the librarian has a new book to read. This is cool, but does it allow for the preparation of spells after the brief rest period? Instead of bestow knowledge with the “my favorite part” ability, usable 3 + Charisma (not properly capitalized) modifier times per day – these would btw. be full-round action buffs for nearby allies. The archetype’s relatively solid. The second librarian archetype would be the exotic ecologist, who can roll d20s when interacting with creatures analyzed twice, taking the better result 3/day, +1/day for every 3 levels after 3rd, replacing bestow knowledge. Yeah, that translates to the equivalent of advantage. And I do not really get what “re-learn” means. Ability-gains are btw. not in sequence and at 2nd level, you can treat non-humanoids of several creature types, even mindless ones, as humanoids, which can be OP. The other two abilities, providing eidetic memory interaction (doesn’t work in the base class) as well as tongues – which is obviously not italicized, and a surge-like bonus on Charisma skill checks…which is not adhering to PFRPG-rules-language. There are several feats for the librarian, which include using books as weapons. And guess what? The feats even manage to screw up properly noting the damage type of these books. They also impose save penalties and another feat nets +1 use of eidetic memory or +2 bestow knowledge uses. Erasing a spell with a descriptor allows you to temporarily erase a creature’s resistance to the energy for 1 round…which is interesting, though wonky in wording.

The revanchist’s sense murder still doesn’t work properly. The class still makes no real sense to me and still has some serious balance-and versatility-issues. The class now gets an archetype, the territory shepherd can form a bond with a limited number of allies, helping their overland movement and healing while resting. Instead of oath of vengeance, judgments apply to all allies in the aforementioned bond instead and the broken sense murderer is replaced with teamwork sharing The higher level abilities further enhance this tactician-y style. The big plus here: The archetype is MUCH better than the base class. The downside: Dreamscarred Press’ tactician and several other classes like the Battle Lord do everything this one does…better. As in more diverse, more interesting, more options. And no, formatting’s not perfect here either. Next.

Vivisectionist…oh dear, please let them have fixed this guy, he’s so cool! (And he’s not among the bookmarks. Odd. *brief read-through. Nope. Swift alchemy still contradicts the table. Rules-nomenclature’s still non-standard in cases. Ach, come on! The spells from the original pdf have been included. The vivisectionist also gets an archetype here – the chirurgeon, who gets a healing touch instead of channel negative energy as well as Turn Undead and a quasi-channel that only works in conjunction with the feat. The fear aura is replaced with a buff, life bond replaces vivisection and we get better healing, life sight and later, anti-death effect-boosts and a save, even when usually none would be allowed. Okay, what type of save? I like the idea of a non-evil vivisectionist, but this does have a few hiccups as well.

…okay, so, up next would be the new hybrid class herein, which is yet another combo of monk and gunslinger. If I had a dime for each take on that combo I have analyzed…Anyways, these guys need to be lawful, get d10 HD, 4 + Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, firearms and light armor as well as full BAB-progression (because firearm-using classes totally need full BAB…) and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class gets an ancestral arm (pistol, blunderbuss or musket) “that is hard to wield without the years of doctrine and training” – okay, cool. Effects? RAW: None. There is a bullet flurry ability at first level, somewhat balanced by not being able to target the same creature (I think…) and imposing penalties on subsequent attacks, with 11th level providing a second, optional attack. The ability stacks with haste (non-italicized) and its wording is a bit wonky. Wanna hear something funny? The class gets a scaling precision-damage-based bonus damage at first level, +1d4, scaling up to +2d8. In second range increment or further, the bullet disciple is treated as -4 levels for the purpose of this damage. Because we all know that the issue with firearms was that they don’t do enough damage.

1st level yields Rapid Reload, 5th level nimble +2 (which upgrades every 4 levels thereafter by +1). 3rd level provides the option to ignore one cover between the bullet disciple and the target (not total cover) and 7th level provides Shot on the Run and starting at 11th level, the character no longer provokes AoOs with the gun and may not be disarmed of firearms and attempts to steal ammo may be countered with an unarmed pistol whip. 15th level yields 1/day a shot that ignores DR, hardness, cover and concealment. Nova, much? This is enhanced to 10 bullets at 19th level, which does nothing to make the ability more palpable. The capstone is a full-attack kill shot that manages to get the rules-language non-standard in spite of literally dozens of precedence cases.

On the plus-side, the class gets a so-called doctrine at 2nd level, +1 every even level thereafter – these are talents that partially mimic deeds, partially allow for firearm modifications – only one modification may be applied to a given firearm, but the pdf fails to specify how long removing such a modification in favor of a new one takes. The formatting, obviously, is inconsistent here, but the abilities sport some gems – like keeping powder dry, or providing cover fire (which doesn’t specify if it takes up AoOs or not – assume no, but yeah…). Non-typed damage, failure to specify if unarmed penalties to kicks apply…The basics look well enough at first glance, but once you start dissecting the section, it starts showing strains.

The class does come with a cool Dark tower-Gunslinger-esque code that made me wish the class had been polished a bit more. It also sports no less than 3 archetypes. The brimstone initiate displays ignorance of how unarmed combat works in the proficiency line: “Only proficient with her fists and a single firearm” – so the kick doctrine is non-proficient? WTF? Instead of gun damage boosts, the character gains monk unarmed attack damage progression and (non-capitalized) Improved Unarmed Strike. Starting at 2nd level, iterative attacks with unarmed strikes grant stacking attack bonuses with the firearm, discharging on a successful hit. If the bonus doesn’t increase or isn’t discharged, it returns to 0 after 1 round. So, beat up kitten until you have infinite god-precision (something like +100), have ally open door, fire imba auto-hit inside. Yeah, this bonus should cap. Even more lulzy: At 4th level, firearm attacks increase unarmed threat ranges. Yeah, there’s a reason why threat range increases only stack in very rare exceptions. Oh and 8th level provides auto-load with “spiritual energy bullets". Okay, do they disperse? Can they be sold? It notes, like many abilities, ki, sans the class actually having ki – is that supposed to be flavor? If so: Very poor word-choice. There’s a reason for rules-terminology…

Ballistic Engineers gain a custom firearm that inflicts damage as though he was an unarmed monk of equal level, with Intelligence being added to damage rolls and replacing the default doctrine-list with only modifications and a couple of exclusive tweaks, including stacking threat modifiers (WTF) and adamantine bullets (or elemental ones) at 2nd level – the archetype shows a blatant disregard for how damage types, DR, etc. work – not starting with balance. The walking hurricane gets two pistols with an advanced capacity (1/4 character level), losing the flurry, and TWF (not capitalized) as well as better sundering abilities with the pistols…yay?

None of the classes presented in this book get favored class options, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are…okay, so, if you value, in any way, shape or form adherence to things like spells being italicized properly, like feats being in capital letters…you know, the very basics of formatting for PFRPG, then this’ll hurt you. Rules-language oscillates from still okay to “core ability RAW doesn’t work.” Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard with mostly solid stock art and the original pieces presented for the stand-alone classes. The pdf does have bookmarks, but not for all classes – and if you expected nested bookmarks for archetypes etc., I’ll have to disappoint you. At this length, not cool. As always with Wayward Rogues, highlighting and copying text from the pdf is impossible, which means you’ll have to copy the text BY HAND. Supremely annoying, to say the least.

Robert Gresham, Aaron Hollingsworth, Rodney Sloan and Jarret Sigler had a chance to do it right. (I assume some of the authors of one of the classes wanted to be left out – otherwise, this does not credit the authors of the vivisectionist, easily the best part of the book.) When one of my patreons tasked me to review all the Wayward Rogues material, I didn’t think I’d have to bash quite as much as I had to so far. I frankly feel like a bully and I don’t like that, but there’s no sugarcoating it. While thankfully better than the first compilation, this leaves a lot to be desired.

Problem one is the obvious lack of an editor. I have never, in all of my PFRPG-days, seen a compilation that so consistently ignores basic formatting principles. While a rules-editor would have most definitely helped, this isn’t necessarily what galls me most about this pdf. It is evident that the classes were copy-pasted from their initial releases. No additional development or editing pass was provided; all typos are still there; all ambiguities. And then there would be the dimensionist: Either the stand-alone file has been seriously revised (and lost some crucial information), or this book has the revised version – which plays less interesting and has its own share of issues. Neither version is up to the standards of the 3pp-industry.

This all is particularly galling, when a single afternoon could have fixed pretty much EVERYTHING in this book. Well, a lot of it, anyways. Even if the more broken classes had been left untouched, at least fixing those that almost get something amazing done right would have elevated this pdf. But no. The bullet disciple, just fyi, while not the worst iteration of the by now very old trope, is also not the best one and sports the same categories of glitches and hiccups as the other classes. Not one of the options herein can be run RAW, without requiring some GM-intervention in the rules-department. Ultimately, I cannot recommend this pdf – from the accumulated issues to the disabled text-parsing and associated comfort detriments, this compilation falls flat of what it could and should have been. And don’t get me started on diversity, choice, and the finer details of class design – aesthetics don’t even feature in this rating. Ultimately, I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
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Windblade Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:10:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

Windblades gain d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with clubs, daggers, darts, quarterstaffs, scimitars, scythes, sickles, shortspears, slings and spears as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields). Windblades get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves and they gain spontaneous spellcasting of divine spells drawn from the druid spell-list, with Wisdom as a slightly odd governing attribute choice for spontaneous spellcasting. The spells per day cap at a base per spell level and the class gains access to all full 9 levels of spellcasting.

They also begin play with a +2 bonus to Knowledge (planes) and Survival as well as the Eschew Materials feat. More importantly, windblades begin play with skybond – basically a bloodline-ish progression that nets Knowledge (planes) as a bonus class skill and bonus spells at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, which are gained from a linear list. 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the windblade gets to choose a bonus feat from the list presented by the skybond, two of which are new, but we’ll get to these later. Additionally, they treat their caster level as 1 higher for the purpose of casting spells with the [air] descriptor and gain a linear ability progression: 1st level lets the fire a 30 ft. ranged touch attack arc of electricity, which, oddly, RAW deals untyped damage – pretty sure that should have been electricity damage. At 3rd level, the windblade gets DR 1/- and takes ¼ damage from falls. 9th level nets you the ability to fly, as the spell, 3 + Cha-mod times per day; you may grant the ability to another creature, but that takes two uses. Why isn’t this SP? It’s textbook SP and since the ability doesn’t tweak anything like activation action, I can literally see no reason this is Su. And yes, most annoyingly, spell reference instances where they’re not italicized can be found here.

At 15th level, the class can transform into lightning and blast forth…which sounds cool, but creatures in the path are affected by “your thunderbolt power” – guess what the class does not have? Bingo, a thunderbolt power. How did this happen? Well, the ability was cut copy pasted from the APG’s stormborn bloodline, which DOES have a thunderbolt power. Pretty sad that it hasn’t even been adjusted for the class after copying. RAW, this one is thus not operational. The 20th level capstone of the skybond is cool: You summon a whirlwind as a free action – this behaves as a 10-ft.-platform with a flying speed of 60 ft. The ability does not state a maneuverability class, only that the platform is as solid as ground – which can be problematic when used in conjunction with effects that decrease maneuverability. Cool: When using (non-italicized) spells to create objects, they may be weightless and float, but crumble when leaving your presence – I love this in-game justification for floating castles etc.

The class also gets to form a weapon of wind as a swift action. The weapon can be maintained for a total number of rounds equal to Wisdom and Charisma modifiers +6 and the weapon’s damage scales with your levels – columns for Small and Large windblades are included – kudos there! Starting at 4th level, you get to choose a bonus damage type to add to the weapon, which also scales over the levels. Slightly problematic: RAW the weapon’s damage is not noted: Fluff calls it electricity, though. The pdf also does not specify how sheathing/dismissing the blade should be handled. It does note, though, that the blade is treated as a light weapon. 2nd level provides woodland stride with another name (why rename it?) and 4th level provides a +4 untyped bonus on saving throws versus the SPs and SUs of elementals. 6th level provides the option to turn into an air elemental, akin to elemental body I, which increases in potency to II, III and IV, respectively, every 2 levels thereafter. Annoying: While this is obviously a modification of wildshape, the final paragraph still refers to wildshape instead of airbody, the ability’s proper name.

I mentioned feats. One increases the DR granted to DR 2/-. RAW, tehre’s a small conflict here: It may be taken multiple times, but since the feat specifically mentions the total DR gained in the end, subsequent feats don’t do a thing – it’s clear that the benefits, should stack, but still. The second feat, Enduring Weapon, interacts with the windblade’s ephemeral weapon and nets…a whopping +3 rounds of use. Yay? Worse, the text that notes the “Normal:” duration differs from the class ability’s text, stating “3+your wis and cha modifier”[sic!] sigh

The pdf also contains spells: Airblast, beneficent breeze, gale scythe, tempest hammer, trade wind and cyclone barrier from the Genius Guide to Air Magic by Rogue Genius Games. Wind churn from 101 1st level spells (without cleaning up the annoying “air damage” glitch the spell has – there is no such thing!)…and it reprints winds of vengeance from the APG. Why? What PFRPG group that uses 3pp material doesn’t at least have that book? So no, not one of the spells herein is new and none of them will have an influence on the final verdict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are not good. When even cut-copy-pasted material has hiccups…well. Yeah. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf’s artwork is solid, color stock art that fits the theme. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Speaking of which: It is patently ironic that a pdf that reprints material copied from other sources has disabled the ability to highlight text or copy from it, which makes creating a character with this annoying, to say the least.

This is also an issue with the pdf as a whole: 4 pages and a paragraph are devoted to the class; the rest are reprinted spells from other sources. In the class itself, we have obvious cut-copy-pastes as well. Even if we disregard that, the class has some issues: One, it tries to do the godblade and isn’t particularly good at it, compared with other options out there; two, it is INCREDIBLY linear. The class offers literally no choice beyond spells and feats – windblades will be very much alike. And three, it is an example of squandered potential: The bloodline-y fighter is a cool concept and it is my firm conviction that the visuals and base engine of the weapon itself deserve better. Why lock the class into this one bloodline? Why not open it properly? Now, granted, if you can look past the rules-hiccups, there is some fun to be had here. And yes, the base chassis can be used. But this falls woefully short of what it could have done. With more options. Some sort of player agenda. Some actual editing to eliminate the problems. If someone sent me this as a draft, inquiring for feedback, I’d encourage them and tell them to keep working at it – I’d even be somewhat excited by it.

But this is not a draft. This is a published class. And whether I compare it to ethermagus, kineticist-options or one of the gazillion other classes out there, it falls woefully flat. Add to that the glitches, the reprinted material, and my final verdict cannot go higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Windblade Hybrid Class
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