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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
by Terry O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/30/2015 20:11:12
I've finally had time to read Vol. 1 of Dispatches from Raven Crowking. I think it is excellent! There is so much fantastic advice regarding game-running and adventure writing that I'm sure many people, both novices and veterans, can benefit. Daniel Bishop does a great job of using clear, concise language to make his points with just enough elaboration to flesh things out without invoking "yes, I get it already" skimming. My favorite 3 articles are "Choices, Context, and Consequences," "Prepare for the Epic Endgame," and "Devising Initial Adventures for Dungeon Crawl Classics." I often found myself nodding along in agreement, and saying things to myself like, "Oh yeah, good point," and "Crap, I need to that more often." Excellent reading all around!

The only (very minor) gripes I had was that I felt like "Shanthopal," "Learning Spells on the Fly," and "Ammonites" seemed out of place and somewhat incongruous to the adventure-running-and-writing advice that occupies so much of the text. Admittedly, "Learning Spells on the Fly" may be a necessary postscript to "Devising Initial Adventures" but the inclusion of the other two articles was a little jarring. As I said before, these are minor gripes. In a perfect world, with no resource or time constraints, I'd have loved to see Daniel go beyond the brief examples given, and "break down" in detail selected elements of his Purple Duck adventures to elucidate the concepts he discussed. I think this would have tied everything together nicely and made a more coherent collection, rather than including the aforementioned 2 or 3 articles. I understand that such things are often impractical, but "squeaky wheel gets the grease" and all that.

I hope that "Vol. 1" means that a second volume is in the works. I have great respect for Daniel's artistry with the DCC ruleset, and hope that a collection of house rules and/or rules expansions/interpretations will someday be present in a unified collection (e.g., the Peasant Deed, Learning Spells on the Fly, etc.). Thanks again Daniel Bishop and Purple Duck Games for the great read!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Gold Legionaire
by Sérgio T. d. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/29/2015 22:27:05
With regards to layout and art, this file has a well-done 2-column layout you might know from other Purple Duck Games products, and the one illustration's on the cover, which depicts Uriska Vanguard, given a background and shown at levels 1, 5, 10, and 15 in the book's back.

From now on, this review is going to be ridiculously rules-centric - I guarantee I am not neglecting to talk about flavor aspects, and instead am talking about all there are: this class is a Good-aligned, melee-focused combatant that has abilities for protecting allies (and a small measure of offensive support to weapon-using allies). The fact that the flavor about ends there may be regarded as the first problem. (I actually don't, because I might reflavor anything anyway, but "a class being 'just mechanics'" is a relatively common complaint.)

The class requires being Good, and has: d12 HD, full BAB, good Fortitude (it does gain other save bonuses, so it's not a glass cannon saving-throw-wise), and a base of 2 skill points/level (I'd call this a problem in any case other than Int-focused classes, but it seems worse here: it has abilities that directly reward investment in Dex and Cha, and is built for melee combat, which adds *at least* Str; even if you consider its class features mitigate the need to invest in Con, Int would be its fourth-highest ability at best). Its skill list exchanges the fighter's Knowledges for Diplomacy and Heal; with this class being billed as a defensive specialist, I'd say that, if for nothing else, errata is needed to add Perception (Uriska has it at -1 even at level 15). Its equipment proficiencies equal the fighter's.

I'll list the class' abilities; in all cases, "up to" refers to an amount that increases with level.

* ability to reroll one's attack or save, or force an opponent to reroll an attack against oneself or an adjacent ally, once/day (once/minute at level 20);
* ability to sacrifice up to 4 points of AC to give double that to a single adjacent ally;
* 1 AoO/round against someone *entering* a threatened square, once/day for any given opponent;
* Stand Still, Bodyguard, In Harm's Way, and Swift Aid as bonus feats;
* ability to give a bonus up to +3 to attacks, weapon damage, AC and saves to allies (including themselves) within 30 feet who follow the legionnaire's battle plans (as a move, or later on swift, action);
* up to a +4 bonus to attacks and weapon damage against someone who attacked a friendly (including themselves);
* up to 4 points of diminished ACP and increased maximum Dex bonus in armor;
* 1 AoO/round against someone who hits an ally adjacent to the legionnaire;
* saving throw bonuses against various threat types picked from a list like a ranger's favored enemies;
* ability to move at normal speed in medium and later heavy armor;
* ability to make AoOs against 5-ft. steps and withdrawing by *adjacent* (not "within reach") opponents;
* improving the aid another bonus to attack or AC from +2 up to +5;
* level/2 bonus against others' use of Acrobatics and for using Stand Still;
* Cha modifier extra AoOs/round.

You may or may not have noticed I listed these at random, not in the order they come for the class. Considering that the bonuses generally start from +1, is there any of those class features that looks out of place - as in, can you tell in what order they *should* be in, because some of them couldn't be given out at low levels? If not, I'd say this shows a character with this class doesn't grow enough as levels pass (obviously, this isn't a problem at low levels). On to specific comments ...

I'd say its +level/2 bonus against Acrobatics and for Stand Still is the big ability of the class, in that it, along with some other basic measures (e.g. reach weapon, enlargement), does allow the legionnaire about a 50% chance of preventing same-CR melee-focused monsters from moving past - higher for lower-CR monsters, so you may have a good chance of holding on to multiple lower-CR monsters. This assumes (generally correctly) lack of Acrobatics on their part; some do have it, but you *usually* can do the job; beware of close-in-CR extremely-high-Dex monsters with Acrobatics (because those can go through you at half speed near-automatically and may have high speed), and any close-in-CR monster with high Str *and* high Dex (assume you won't beat their CMDs). Lastly, some of your opposition may teleport past you at middle and especially high levels.

Swift Aid is generally only to be used if the party already gets competence bonuses to attacks or AC (say, from a bard); otherwise, at the level you get it, you already can use authoritative command (see next paragraph) as swift action to a give a bonus about 1 point lower, much more broadly applicable, to as many allies within 30 feet as are willing to follow battle plans.

The class has, starting at 5th and 6th levels, features for which the number of targets you can have at once depends on your skills (respectively, Diplomacy and Intimidate). Three things: A) somebody might arrive at those levels without having trained those skills; B) given that the class has MAD (multiple ability dependency), without Int being one of the directly-relevant abilities, training in both skills leaves the legionnaire with *very* little choice in skills; C) the ability that gives bonuses to attack enemies (though, to be fair, it's triggered by seeing allies attacked) relies on Diplomacy, while the ability that gives bonuses both offensive and defensive allies relies on Intimidate - those might appear reversed to some readers; also, while the latter does say explicitly that allies are under no obligation to follow orders from the legionnaire (if willing to forego the bonuses), the phrasing as "commands" and "orders" and indeed the name "authoritative command" might irk some and/or cause metagame/out-of-game concerns.

In those cases where an enemy can't for whatever reason (being a non-earth elemental, teleporting) be prevented from closing in on a legionnaire's ally, the latter has abilities that help adjacent allies. However: A) if an enemy bypasses the legionnaire by coming between the latter and their ally, the legionnaire will have to (when able) to move for those abilities to start applying; B) the legionnaire confers no resistance to area effects (not just the ones that allow saving throws) other than the bonus of up to +3 to saves, so trying to protect adjacent allies may increase the party's vulnerability to area effects; C) design intent seems to assume that the gold legionnaire has allies that are, so to say, crunchy and filled with ketchup, which is why somebody else's dedicated to protect them; however, the AC bonuses it can confer on adjacent allies, for example, at level 10 form a total of +5, and at level 15, a total of +10 - if the allies really are crunchy and filled with ketchup, they'll still be easy to hit after those bonuses (although no longer 100% guaranteed); the fact that it can facetank a hit/round after knowing it'd hit with In Harm's Way does help (facetanking a bite can guarantee an ally won't be swallowed, for example), but the legionnaire seems to still be at its best away from allies holding back enemies with Stand Still when that's an option; alternatives here could've been parrying attacks against allies with opposed attack rolls (more readily comparable numbers), or just giving adjacent allies miss chances (simple, stops whatever percentage of attacks is considered appropriate no matter how low allies' initial ACs are). Also, it could have some ability to cover allies' retreats in cases where opponents already caught up to them.

Given what the class does and how (say, Stand Still), characters are encouraged to grow in size and get reach weapons, but some abilities only work on adjacent targets.

Retaliate allows you to, well, retaliate once an adjacent ally has been hit, but doesn't allow you to whack in the back of the head someone who just hit your ally on their *opposite* side - could this ability only require you to threaten the opponent, instead of both that and your ally being adjacent?

The file includes alternate favored class benefits, which include, among others: +level to CMD against 2 combat maneuvers; +level to Intimidate; +level/2 to AoOs; +level to AoOs against targets 2 or more size categories larger (on the halfling, which should benefit frequently even without figuring a way to be effective while using reduce person; that said, halflings do tend to be at a disadvantage with melee zone controlling classes).

Besides me considering the lack of Perception as a class skill grounds for errata, there's another (this one small) mistake: Uriska's level 15 version has intercept +5 (should be +7).

In closing, this class' level of effectiveness is about "what a fighter would be if there was a greater number of ally-protecting feats available", it can contribute in this capacity provided the adventure plays to its style (i.e. protect fragile allies from monsters who want to reach them in close combat and lack sophisticated methods of doing that), doesn't have any great variety of choices in play, its out-of-combat contributions consist of its skills (basically Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Survival) and the flavor aspects are extremely basic.

Out of the following scale:

1: no reason to even read this;
2: there may be good ideas inside, but it's unusable as-is;
3: usable, but unimpressive;
4: impressive;
5: I look at it and can't conceive how to improve it (i.e. I don't intend to give this ever, but who knows);

this class gets a 3.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Gold Legionaire
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Monster Advancement: Enhanced Fey
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2015 03:02:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Monster Advancement-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?


In case you haven't read my review of the previous Monster Advancement-installment - the basic premise of this series is simple: provide a concise, template-based toolkit to customize your creatures and make them more interesting than slapping a bland simple template on it - instead, the goal of these book and their achievement lies within the construction of a concise, big toolkit for GMs to use when crafting the respective monsters.


As in the previous installment, novice GMs do receive some advice on properly codified DR-stacking and researching the unique abilities sported by the modified fey featured herein and yes, there are obviously some thematic overlaps with the previous installment on undead - you will find breath weapons herein (again, with 3 damage-entries per CR), abilities that allow you to create fey with elemental themes and obviously, basic monster abilities like regeneration et al. are mong the tools a GM can add to fey via this toolkit.


Now if you think that this constitutes a carbon copy of the previous installment, you'd be wrong - obviously, the divine holy/unholy component is less pronounced here and mastery of animals and plants can be found in a multitude of cases herein. The general theme of luck/misfortune and curses also suffuses the modifications available within these pages. Intoxicating frolicking, commanding confused characters and euphoria-inducing abilities complement the themes of the fey further, while evasion and scavenging in bardic trickery, poison kisses and the like also feature herein. If, like me, you enjoy supplements and publishers actually cross-promoting, psioncis and pact magic-support will most certainly bring a smile to your face.


In the case of the optional flaws that reward PCs doing their legwork and the option for fey to go into dormancy, further options enhance the respective creature types further. Now if you've been designing monsters, you'll run into one issue: Fey traits pretty much suck. Not as bad as giants, but oh boy. Thus I pretty much enjoyed the fact that fey may scavenge in the properties and immunities of other creature types. Thankfully and unlike just about every monster book I've read, general suggestions to improve fey without changing the component of fragility and trickery can be found herein - though personally, I consider it a pity that no rules for super-illusion fey-glamers are provided.


The pdf also provides advice on properly using the template and 6 sample creatures made with the rules herein.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks beyond the cover art, but needs none. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Julian Neale had a tough task in this pdf - I'ma huge fan of fey and loathe how much they tend to suck in PFRPG and how the basic fey fail to convey the component of alien psychology that ultimately renders fey distinct and memorable. Well, the former is not fixed, but that is not the task of a crunch book; what is fixed, though, would be an array of problems regarding predictability when exactly that concept should be anathema to fey. The toolkit presented within these pages is fun, concise, easy to use and over all, a good addition to a GM's arsenal. At the same time, though, I found myself wishing more than once that there was slightly less overlap with the undead and, more importantly, that this sported a means for fey to expand their penchant for illusions beyond the capabilities and providence of mortals. It should also be noted that this toolkit does not cover the abilities traditionally associated with the unseelie - shadowtheft and changeling-making, undead mastery and time-control would not be aspects found herein, rendering the toolkit very much in tradition with the depiction of mainstream fey by necessity of design-assignment.


At the same time, though, I felt as though exactly this rendered the overall toolkit feeling slightly less encompassing than the previous one, even though it is longer. However, at the same time, this pdf actually tries to do what few pdfs try - fix something that is not working as it should. This is a pretty big deal for me, for especially novice GMs should certainly find some sound advice herein to make their fey last longer and feel more efficient...and magical. Hence, I can still award this 5 stars + seal of approval, for what is here, is rather great.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Advancement: Enhanced Fey
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Monster Advancement: Enhanced Undead
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/21/2015 02:59:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the monster advancement-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what do we have here? Essentially, this pdf provides one expanded, massive, extremely customizable templatey toolkit to enhance undead (d'uh), but with a focus of skeletal champions and zombie lords, thematically - so no, VtM-fans, you won't find a huge array of vampiric powers in here, though the modifications within this book are generic enough to be applicable to just about any undead - the primary focus (and thus mechanical execution) simply is different.



Basically, the template provides one special quality per 3 points of CR, though capable GMs should have no issue playing with the pretty simple base mechanics. At the same time, though, novices are not left in the proverbial dark with the undead: Instead, what we have here, is a concise depiction of the thought-process behind the undead - from researching special abilities to an actually concise explanation of DR-enhancement (and any designer who tried to write one of those will appreciate the effort!), the explanations are nice indeed.



Now as for the content provided, we actually go one step beyond what one would expect - with e.g. support for Pact magic by Radiance House Press, we can see an example of commendable 3pp-camraderie. Beyond this instance, though, we have more than basic augmentations: Necrotic pustules for plagued undead, disease-causing breaths, auras of despair, soul devouring, ability drain - you name the basic, nasty tricks and they're here. However, even beyond these, especially GMs in horror-themed campaigns (or those of you fed up with certain tactics) will cackle with glee upon reading of undead that can temporarily shut down divine casting, those that act as dimensional anchors or negative energy breath weapons.



Speaking of which: Julian Neale is one of the few designers I know who is *VERY MUCH* into the nit and grit of math - so much so that his designs tend to look less impressive than they actually are in gameplay: Here, though, this predilection works exceedingly in his favor - if you're going for a breath weapon, you'll have a massive table for each CR from 3 to 20, sporting 3 entries - one with smoothed and pretty continuous output, one that is swingy and, if that's how you roll (or rather, not roll), one containing damage averages. That is above and beyond of what I expected - kudos for going the extra mile!



With Kyuss-style vermin-mastery, better undead control, gaze attacks, object-ruining claws, desecrate auras, telekinesis, flawless two-weapon fighting and a significant and upgradeable array of SPs, the undead herein can be made truly deadly and versatile. Following a design-tenet near and dear to my heart that rewards players for their legwork, flaws are presented as optional modifications, as are specific armors. Skill bonuses and subtype-acquisition are listed as further means of modification. Beyond simply providing this massive toolkit and leaving you alone with it, advice on actually using it is provided - as are 6 sample undead, including a lamia juju zombie inquisitor or a mummy cleric.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting, while not perfect, can still be considered pretty good. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but ultimately needs none. The pdf comes fully and extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



Julian Neale, as mentioned above, is a designer who quite frankly should see more exposure - his humble and often intriguing designs, with their unpretentious subtlety can be pretty much a joy to read, especially when tackling monsters etc. This pdf, then, plays his strengths perfectly - what we have here is basically a nice, complex toolkit that blends basic and more complex options and allows a GM to quickly and efficiently customize the undead that his players have destroyed time and again and bring the fear of them back. As far as I'm concerned, I thoroughly enjoyed this toolkit and consider it definitely superior to simply slapping a bland "advanced" template on a creature - this kit changes tactics, and often in a rather crucial manner. Every fan of the undead and horror GMs in particular should take a look at this. While you won't find inspiring fluff herein, the toolkit and its rules very much make for a fun addition that *will* keep the players on their toes. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Advancement: Enhanced Undead
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FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/18/2015 02:40:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 42 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being a review of a module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. You do NOT want to spoil this module, believe me.

...

..

.

All right, only judges remaining? Great! We begin this module in the aftermath of the superb first two DCC-modules in the series, 15 miles south of the Grimmswood wherein the PCs had ample challenges of the most peculiar and interesting kind. If you haven't read the first two modules, let me recommend them wholeheartedly.



So, Yuletide is upon the less-than-subtle named town of Portsmouth and the adventure takes place during the 12 days of celebration in town - the problem here being that things are not simple. In fact, the town, once known for the rich seafood that could be wrestled from the waves had seen a plunge of efficiency only rectified in the relatively recent history - unbeknown to the PCs, there is a power struggle going on between servants of Dagon and his esoteric order and Cthulhu cultists - but that only serves as a kind of backdrop and variant on the theme, for essentially, this is an adaptation most twisted of the Little Mermaid: Prince Manxus was saved from certain death by her and while she had lost her voice due to the deal with the Sea Witch and while every step on land hurts horribly, the mermaid has managed to capture Manxus' heart. Until the Dagonites intervened with the tantalizing hybrid Orne and a magical orb, seeking to seize control over the town. The timer is ticking and the fate of the town is at stake - as is the mermaid's very soul.



And yes, the tl;dr version would probably be "The Little Mermaid" in Innsmouth. Now, admittedly, this type of reductionist summary would not do the module justice. Why? Because this can be considered pretty much an impressive sandbox that presents the town in lavish detail, while also preventing a time-driven time-line of events that feature read-aloud text and the like. With rumors and signs of the hybrid-inbreeding associated with the very theme of Innsmouth, we have a significant level of detail an atmosphere, against which a judge can craft a tale most harrowing: The contrast of cthulhoid horror and the gothic horror elicited by the original fairy tale can be considered a truly stunning experience if handled with proper care.



Much like in the previous modules of the series, I find myself often wondering how to adequately portray the module, mostly due to one simple fact: This one lives by the details. The disparate themes are crafted together in a concise way that very much lives from the details, which ultimately also can be used to govern the investigation towards its conclusion. What level of detail? Well, what about mapped tunnels below the town? Street names? Aforementioned tables? Now don't get me wrong - this *is* a sandbox and as such, it does require some investment on behalf of the DM to properly pull off. At the same time, though, it does generate a compelling and unique atmosphere that deviates significantly from the goal one would assume a module featuring the theme of degeneration. Oh, and in which other module does it actually make sense to ally yourself with cultists of cthulhu on a mission of love? Yeah, pretty awesome. The conclusion of this investigation, though, ultimately will see its fair share of confrontation, so yes, if you're itching to roll some bones and kick some Dagonite ass in the name of love, that's part of the deal as well.



It should be noted that the beautiful full-color maps comes with player-friendly versions and even as high-res jpgs - nice!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to an elegant, old-school 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Furthermore, the module sports numerous gorgeous original b/w-artworks and the maps, as mentioned before, in player-friendly and high-res versions - kudos for going above and beyond.



Daniel J. Bishop has a wonderful style - he can write creepy, disturbing sword and sorcery material with a great pulpy old-school flair, yes. But the unique characteristic of his writing and what makes me actually run his modules, is that he can blend this with a subdued whimsy and a feeling for the mythological that is grounded in well-researched tasks and a broad basis of knowledge of topics that resound.

Arguably, the themes of this module should not work with one another, but their synthesis is so well-crafted and so compelling, it ends up actually working. That being said, this is not only a module - in fact, you could easily enjoy this module as a sourcebook of an interesting, disturbing town, providing a truly captivating look at yet another glorious facet of the world he's weaving. With optional tie ins and information on the repercussions of the first two modules, in case they have been played, this one becomes yet another triumphant installment in the series and further cements Daniel J. Bishop as an excellent writer whose adventures I very much anticipate with a baited breath.



My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 2 - The Portsmouth Mermaid
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Rangers of Porphyra
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/12/2015 09:34:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This take on rangers clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 1/4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8 3/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After a brief introduction (sporting a LotR-quote), we dive into the first archetype, which is pretty much a simple archetype for mounted-themed halflings that gets rid of the size penalties to CMB/CMD as well as favored enemy bonuses versus additional subtypes of humanoids - pretty solid.



The Greenrunner can influence the attitude of plants and are locked into certain terrain types - they also need to get a plant companion. Again, a simple, yet flavorful option. Moon-Rangers would be rangers with a more esoteric bent - using a combination of their increased Sense Motive and spells, they may see past magically disguised alignments in a way that scales appropriately with the skill of the opposing creature. Nice! In lieu of Endurance, they get orisons based on Wis from the cleric-list and they also get access to ranger spells at the usual reduced level -3 instead of ranger spells. The class also offers an interesting mechanic, which allows for the increase of CL by 1 for wis-mod rounds - of either the ranger or his allies.

Only issue: The range of "allies" is not specified. Do they need to have line of sight? Line of effect? How many allies? They can also set up ambushes via Stealth - these grant allies and themselves a bonus to atk, saving throws and Stealth checks, with the bonus granted depending upon the check's result. Problem: Can the ranger take 10 or 20? How many allies can benefit from one such plan? Granted, neither ambiguities break the game, but they are annoying glitches that could have easily been avoided.



The Purple Sage Rider begins play with a free mount and upgrades that to mount at 4th level. Instead of favored enemies, the rider receives a scaling bonus to an assortment of skills that pertain infidels, i.e. followers of a certain deity. Beyond these, amateur gunslinging and abilities that interact with the unique porphyrite borders of Porphyra make for cool options. (In other settings, I'd suggest substituting either magical borders like the mists of Ravenloft or terrain borders).



Now Iron Gods-fans and people enjoying the technology-guide may enjoy the less than subtle Space Ranger! - quoting excessively early scifi, they get unarmed combat, firearm proficiency and a ranged combat style. More importantly, he begins play with an HEV suit with vacuum protection and flying capability as well as an utility belt that has significant carrying options and sports a bunch of items from the get-go. The suit has a laser pistol and a drive that can drain the ranger's constitution to refill a battery on a 1:2-basis. The suit also sports an augury and some detect-capability. This eats not only spells, starting equipment and wild empathy, but also woodland stride. The first terrain choice would be vacuum (normally not on the list), with higher levels upgrading the suit. I enjoy this archetype more than I expected, though I think that feats like technologist etc. could have been used to further emphasize the unique take of this archetype. Beyond that, I'm not sold on unassisted flying at 1st level - some limit that scales up to proper flying would be imho cooler and less problematic for some campaigns, perhaps with the 12th level upgrade increasing that to jetpack levels. The suit could also have used a better dispersal of abilities among the levels - as provided, it still makes the archetype too good for low-level dipping in my book - and indeed, with spells etc. gone, that's the most efficient way of sing this one.



The pdf also provides arm-cannons and double-barreled arm cannons as well as melee sap-drainers. 3 sample plant companions as well as info for interaction with the Xesa-race are provided. The pdf sports two new feats - one that prevents you from being considered helpless while sleeping, bound or unconscious, with the odd sentence: "Rogues cannot sneak attack against you when you are helpless, unless they could otherwise do so." I literally have no idea what this means or how this component of the feat works.

The second feat is just as confused: "As a standard action, you can parry melee attacks with a bow or crossbow, granting the benefits of fighting defensively while drawing a melee weapon, and still receiving a move action. You bow does 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage."



This makes no sense and shows that the author does not understand how fighting defensively works. First: Fighting defensively =/= Total Defense. Fighting defensively is executed _as part_ of a standard action or as part of a full-attack action, thus doing exactly nothing to diminish the move action a character has or doesn't have. Dropping a weapon is a free action. Sheathing a weapon is move action. Drawing a weapon, if combined with a move and executed by a character with a BAB of +1 or higher, is a free action. Furthermore, the feat should not lock the bow to arbitrary damage, but specify that using it as a melee weapon deals this amount of damage. These two feats are sloppy and unbecoming of the content provided so far.



On the plus-side, the 3 magic items are solid and nice - herb-pouch with charges that requires some healing knowledge, terrain-coded stones and reforged blades - okay. The spells herein are a mixed bag - a variant of cure for plants only, one that increases "The former effect increases the herbal potency of a plant, so that a Craft (alchemy) check to use the plant’s properties will be increased by 1 per casting." So one could stack that up? If so: Broken. If not...huh? Herbal potency? Wut iz zis? Please specify! A risky calling of undead to answer questions is pretty cool, but probably won't see much use at tables. Calling an alignment-dependent companion for one task is nice and a plant-themed aspect is okay.



The pdf also sports one sample level 9 moon ranger with two regional traits. The sample character uses the wrong HD - rangers have d10, not d8.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid on a formal level. On the rules-language level, they are just as varied in quality as almost always with Perry Fehr's crunch-centric offerings - partially great, partially horrible. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports the cool color-artwork.



This is frustrating to say the least. I really, really want to recommend this pdf is a more glowing light - the concepts for the rangers are solid and cool and technology-guide synergy is pretty cool as well. The archetypes once again show that author Perry Fehr can execute proper concepts and complex crunch. And then, sloppiness sets in - the two feats are glaring wrecks - how they got past any editing, I don't know. The spells and other supplemental content ranges in quality from okay to nice and the incorrect HD are another hiccup.



This installment could have easily been 4.5 stars, perhaps even a close 5, but the rough edges and partially glaring glitches, drag this down to a point where I can't rate it as high as I'd like to. While I still consider this pdf worth the very low price-point (if my complaints above did not annoy you, go for it!), I can't rate this pdf higher than 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Rangers of Porphyra
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Covenant Magic: Further Covenants
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/22/2015 03:38:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second expansion to Purple Duck Games' great system of covenant magic clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We begin this pdf with a handy page of FAQ regarding some of the more peculiar questions of covenant magic that did not arise from issues, mind you, but rather from the system's admitted complexity. With a concise definition of occult spirits, the pdf does provide a nice list.



I do assume familiarity with covenant magic for this review, so in case you need an explanation of the concepts, I'll refer to my reviews of the original covenant magic pdf and its expansion.



We begin with a total of 6 new influences for mediums to choose from, with Dark Hedonism constituting the first and providing future-proof support for the Monsters of Porphyra II patreon project, though remaining perfectly functional without that - the focus here, obviously, lies on trickery and enchantment. The more benevolent Elysian Blessings influence provides a surprisingly diverse array of trance SPs that center around the theme of freedom, with covenants allowing for resilience and a focus on themes identified for azata.



Faith Slayers can be considered not only atheists - they are the true foes of the divine, engaging in pretty despicable acts with a theme of self-buffing and a latent Übermensch-style ideology suffusing the spell-like ability and covenant choices. I do consider this one slightly problematic in that it is codified straight as evil, with the capstone making this abundantly clear - while I realize that fanaticism never creates a helpful breeding ground, I have seen my fair share of religiously motivated hypocrisy and issues in real life - when taking this up to the n-th degree, one can easily construct cases in which direct and violent opposition towards deities in a magical setting does not need to be evil - imho, we have a lost chance for a shades of gray duality here, instead opting towards the general concepts espoused by the asura.



The Kyton Enlightenment on the other hand is more versatile than the oftentimes reductive depiction of kytons in mainstream PFRPG. Why? Because BDSM in most mainstream media, including PFRPG is codified as evil, as something to revile, as something inherently sinister - and I *get* why. That being said, I have always considered this to be a pretty much massive flaw, an undue reduction of a variety of compelling concepts - the self-flogging martyr achieving spiritual ecstasy through pain, the yogi - one can field ample examples wherein the concept of enlightenment through pain need not be connoted with evil and thankfully, the kyton enlightenment influence, while retaining the somewhat sinister theme of kytons is not coded as evil - nice!



Guardians of the fallen can elect to choose the new Sacred Duty enlightenment, associated thematically with psychopomps and thus can be pictured as slayers of undead, with a hex-like cap on the otherwise extremely powerful harm-only heal Spell-like ability. But all of these pale in awesomeness when compared to the qlippothic redeemer: Know how most qlippoths try to end all life yaddayaddayadda? Well, these guys are more constructive! The souls of chaotic evil beings flood the abyss and generate demons, right? So how can the qlippoths stem the tide, hope to regain their supremacy? Well, what about converting those pesky psychos and leading them on a path of redemption? I.e. doing the right thing for the most wrong reason possible? This enlightenment is GLORIOUS -related to an evil outsider race, it is predisposed to work well for good and neutral characters, mirroring in SP and trance covenant selection a theme of redemption and kindness. The roleplaying potential of these guys is VAST and the great full color artwork of one of them is ncie to see as well.



The Technophobe archetype is great for everyone using the Technology Guide, poaching in remove radioactivity and similar tricks - essentially, these guys can be considered the anti-technology mediums - solid!



We also get a diverse array of new covenants, ranging from least to superior - from magical khopeshs to strikes that temporarily neuter the ability to cast divine magic (with a hex-like 1/ 24 hours-balancing caveat), grant yourself regeneration (with means to offset it) or a stun-inducing gaze attack that also helps you take down those pesky demons. All in all, the respective places in which they're gained make sense, with superior covenants providing massive benefits, with least covenants provide nice imagery and solid low level options.



The pdf also provides statblocks - a medium 4/ranger 1, an animist druid, a tiefling, dwarf and green hag medium, even a tengu and a high-level CR 17 foe. The pdf closes with 3 minor pieces of errata for its predecessor file - which imho should have been updated in that file instead of featured in this pdf.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column standard with a nice page of full-color artwork featured as well. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Julian Neale is one of the designers that deserves more attention than he gets - his designs tend to be not too flashy, that is true. But they have a very humble elegance in many instances and this is no different. Oh well, wait, it is - actually, here, Julian has went all out - the concepts as presented herein began pretty solid, if unremarkable and then, BAM, the qlippothic redeemer. This influence alone is worth the asking price for the vast myriad of narratives one can weave from the theme - I can literally sketch a whole campaign based on the concept introduced herein. Yes, this is awesome. The solid technology-related archetype is a nice bonus and the covenants provided are diverse as well. While I am not a fan of all design-decisions herein, with especially the amount of apotheosis-capstones boring me at this point, this does boil down to personal preference more than any true and valid gripe I could field against this pdf. In the end, this is an inspired expansion and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Covenant Magic: Further Covenants
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Steel and Fury (DCC)
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2015 12:24:47
Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Steel and Fury: Combat Maneuvers of the Mighty

Product- Steel and Fury: Combat Maneuvers of the Mighty
System- Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG
Producer- Purple Duck games
Price- $7 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/147952/Steel-and-Fury-DC-
C
TL; DR-A must have for the Dwarf or Fighter at the crawl! 97%

Basics-Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war! Steel and Fury is a Fighter and Dwarf supplement for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. This book focuses on the Mighty Deeds of Arms for both of those classes by adding several new deeds that are specific for the type of weapon you are using as well as expanding the deeds by adding mighty criticals and mighty fumbles.

Mechanics or Crunch-Hands down a home run. Every mighty deed gets its own page with descriptions of what happening. Also, the addition of mighty criticals and fumbles really adds to the dice rolling crunch of this system. And, the book has an amazing resource- an end of the book table showing which weapons can do which deed (MORE BOOKS SHOULD DO THIS!). As the cherry on the sundae, even the old deeds get a revisit by adding the critical and fumble rules to them as well. This is well done and slick. 5/5

Theme or Fluff- Again, another home run. Every deed has a ton of story to it. Not only does each deed have a description, but also the deed has a quote from an appendix N fantasy story. That right there is awesome. Also awesome is the art. I honestly didn’t expect much art from a small publisher, but it’s here and well done. You will feel every crunch from this one as Steel and Furry builds on to a solid foundation of carnage. 5/5

Execution-We’ve had two home runs, so it’s time for a foul. I love the book. It’s got great spacing, great writing, text, tables, and great art. What I don’t like is the price tag. This book is $7 bucks for about 60 pages. That’s a bit much as much of this book is pages with tables. $7 isn’t enough to keep me away, but I think this should be around $4 to $5 to keep up with other publishers’ prices. 4.5/5

Summary-This is a great book and addition to the DCC rpg. Purple Duck Games really made a top notch product by supplying quite frankly a ton of new content to the system. Every weapon get some love. At the back is an amazing chart detailing what each weapon can do with the new and old mighty deeds. Even old deeds get new additions with mighty criticals and mighty fumbles. The story this book tells is great proving that a straight crunch book can bring some story and panache to the table. I think the book is a bit over priced. But, if you can stomach the price, this is a necessary book for any fighter and dwarf that hits the table. 97%

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Steel and Fury (DCC)
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Protean Lords of Porphyra (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/14/2015 07:58:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with a solid 20.5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, a captivating introductory prose not only establishes the content herein, it also ties it together with the pantheon established for elemental lords in that respective file, though it does not require that pdf to fully enjoy - and after that, we are introduced to a big missing link in pathfinder lore.



Let me elaborate: If you've come from a tradition of previous editions, your first impulse at seeing the chaotic neutral proteans would probably have been to bemoan the absence of slaadi due to closed content. Now, as it turns out, proteans actually are pretty much awesome and feel very distinct from their predecessors -however, unlike e.g. archdevils or demon lords, they had not really been touched upon. In fact, apart from AAW Games' "Serpents of Fickle Fortune", I couldn't name a module focused on them or devoted supplement to extend the lore of their lords. This pdf changes just that by none other than Todd Stewart delivering a whole pantheon of protean lords, the slithering symphony.



The lords/ladies of the slithering symphony ultimately are, of course, chaotic neutral, but the array of diverse concepts and dualities within the respective proteans ranging from those devoted to rebirth and fertility to lords of entropy - and anything in between. The respective entries not only provide an internal consistence that makes the protean lords believable in their chaotic nature, they also sport an intriguing array of religion-traits, two per lord/lady and information on the respective spell preparation rituals can also be found. With a diverse array of favored weapons and creatures and unique symbols for the respective deities, this section, at least for me, left nothing to be desired - this pantheon is absolutely awesome - each of the different entries depicts an often intriguing aspect of certain aspects worthy of divine association - what about a protean whose moniker is literally the "Ghost in the Machine," representing, among other things, the chaotic undercurrents in even the lawful disciplines - sudden inspirations, weird effects...this should be seen as an example: What these lords/ladies essentially accomplish is to somewhat dilute the tired and bland good/evil-dichotomy, enriching concepts usually tied to certain deities with a subversive angle - awesome.



The pdf also sports 3 new subdomains, the most interesting of which allows you to execute wild surges, which hearken back to the hazarders and chaos mages of previous editions, allowing for the gambling with spell levels -temporary increases and decreases at the roll of the dice make this ability a sufficiently chaotic and nice domain ability.



So far, this pdf's core provides a glorious array of concepts I very much consider worthwhile - alas, this pretty much ends with the magic items presented within these pages. While I very much enjoy the concepts, their pricing and powers are off in various ways - flat-out +5 bonuses to ALL Charisma-based checks (remember, this includes feinting and demoralize and stacks due to a lack of bonus types) feels nasty for 18 K - and I don't get the lackluster addition of 1/day chaos hammer as an SP added to the item. While I have no issue with the concept behind being able to ignore SR, DR and energy resistance, I do think there ought to be some scaling instead here - especially since item-activation of a standard action and carrying over the benefits to the next round only needlessly complicates the functionality of this item. Cloaks of the Imentesh allow, beyond their benefits, the assumption of an imentesh form "upon the form of an imentesh protean for up to 13 minutes, gaining a 30 ft. fly speed (perfect), and an imentesh protean’s tail attack and constrict ability." So, can the form be used in increments? Why does it deviate from the standard of how polymorph effects work? Now don't get me wrong, this latter one is not one I object to on the basis of being OP, but rather one that imho could have solved its rules in a more concise manner - does one become large? Senses? Fast healing? Is the tail attack of the base creature used at that HD or at the unmodified one of the user? Primary or secondary? I assume the default for tail slaps, but I'm not sure.



Now I'm not going to dissect every one of the magic items, mainly because I do not want you to get the wrong impression - we are essentially talking about the supplemental content here and the validity of the pantheon itself is not hampered by these glitches....and, honestly, some of the items are pretty cool from a narrative perspective - what about an extremely powerful mug that may see you barf gemstones? No, I did NOT make that one up. Creativity and the theme of chaos work pretty well in some of these items, whereas in others, well, they do so in a somewhat lessened manner. Over all, I'm not a big fan of these items and urge DMs to contemplate carefully their inclusion in a given campaign.



As a nice note, the great Illuminatus class by PDG gets a well-deserved shout-out in the spell-section, which imho provides some interesting options - for example, what about a spell that adds a confusion effect to the next spell you cast? The concept is awesome, but much to my chagrin, it has no duration, allowing you to "hold the charge" infinitely until you cast your next spell. While this can be rectified rather easily, it feels somewhat contrary to the chaotic theme of the spell, allowing for easy storage of the charge. That also remains my main concern regarding the thematics of some of the spells here, though admittedly, conjuring voidworm swarms is damn cool - over all, I would have loved to see the notion of the chaotic be reflected more in the respective spells: What if e.g. holding the confusion-inducing befuddling infusion worked only for a random amount of rounds? That being said, i do very much enjoy the interaction with the warpwave-rules of the proteans.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, while on a rules-level, there are some minor issues here and there, though nothing grievous. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience as well as with awesome full-color icons for the deities.



Todd Stewart delivers an awesome and iconic pantheon I very much enjoyed, manages to add to the lore of these beings in an admirable manner - and one that we all benefit from. Unlike many publishers, Purple Duck Games rendered these guys open content, so yes, any publisher may properly utilize them in all their glory - a practice I feel I should have mentioned much earlier in my reviews. At the same time, I do consider some of the spells as falling short of their potential (which does not make them bad, mind you!) and the magic items, are pretty short of what I'd consider awesome or particularly imaginative - though, again, some inspired ideas are in here as well. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - I drew quite a bunch cool ideas from this pdf and while it's not perfect, it's definitely worth its fair asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Protean Lords of Porphyra (PFRPG)
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Monsters of Porphyra
by Anders B. K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2015 05:28:40
This bestiary is awesome! Brilliant, innovative and evocative monsters, very good layout, and excellent full-color illustrations. I can totally recommend it! (both the pdf and the hard copy are excellent)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Porphyra
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Spell Components (Core)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/06/2015 02:32:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' inexpensive Storeroom-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, providing 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Every roleplaying game, ultimately, is a game of abstractions, of rules and individual interpretation - that's why no movie will ever amount to the awesomeness of the one stunt that character pulled off...and why discrepancies between a GM's description and a player's perception thereof prove to be such a source of frustration when they happen.



If your game is like mine, there is a certain level of simulation - and I believe that spellcasting would be considered much more balanced, if one tracked how much uses of this bat guano stuff the wizard has. The one issue here would be that, ultimately, there is the component pouch - and we have no idea what's inside. While this abstraction helps render the game more fluid, it does prove to be a problem once you start asking whether obscure component for ritual xyz is part of one's pouch, a problem, which to a similar extent can be applied to kits.



This pdf can be considered the ridiculously inexpensive solution to this issue - in handy tables, all foci and material components of spells from the CORE-book are tracked in easily navigated tables. Better yet, the pdf provides a sensible suggestion of how much such a pouch can hold and what (probably) is contained in such a pouch - and yes, the contents come with a nice 1-page full-color rendition by Rick Hershey.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a 1-column printer-friendly standard and the pdf comes with full nested bookmarks for easy navigation. This can be easily printed out in digest-format, btw., making it a nice booklet to carry along.

This pdf, compiled and presented by Mark Gedak, essentially can be considered a godsend in my book. This is a humble, utterly awesome little pdf that may not be crucial for any group, but it adds a sense of realism to the game I adore. It takes a wibbly-wobbly, ill-defined, esoteric component of the rules and provides one-glance-done coverage. I love this pdf. For the low price, this is just awesome and I hope to see all other big books covered as well - this is extremely useful and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Spell Components (Core)
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/30/2015 04:09:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This statement by grandmaster crunch Owen K.C. Stephens could have come from a review of yours truly as well: "Know your item slots. Don't just invent them. Best to avoid magic pants.", to briefly paraphrase the comment that spawned this supplement - so yes, here, we tread in the glorious tradition of the Baldur's Gate-saga's easter-egg and get magical pants, though admittedly more balanced ones than the ridiculously OP item we got via the pantalon-transmuter.



So, this pdf introduces the leg-slot, where one may wear leggings, kilts, skirts, stockings and the like - a decision I actually like because I NEVER understood the lack of battle-kilts, stockings of seduction and similar items in the presence of belts, amulets etc. That being said, this does not mean that the items themselves universally lack a certain winking, unobtrusive sense of humor: Take the Clam Diggers of Harvest - they allow you to be considered proficient with monk's shovels (and treat all shovels as such), confer a +2 bonus to atk and damage versus crab and clam-vermin and let you treat shallow water and mud flats as normal terrain instead of as difficult terrain. This is at once hilarious to me and makes sense - in a world where giant crabs and deadly clams exist, why wouldn't there be specialized magical equipment to deal with them?



On the high-level David Bowie-fanboy side of things, the legendary Codpiece of the Goblin King increases your illusion and enchantment DCs by +2 while also increasing your sorceror level by no less than +5 for the purpose of determining which bloodline powers they possess. Here, I do think the item overshoots its target; unlocking new bloodline powers 5 levels early (in the face of no caveat that abilities are not gained early) seems excessive. That being said, this can be nerfed easily. And it's the codpiece of the goblin king - dance, baby, dance!



Also pretty interesting - Grown-up Pants - +4 to saves versus fear effects and 1/day swift action enlarge person for 8 minutes. Pretty hilarious! The very costly and powerful Happy Pants increase any beneficial morale bonuses by +1, while also providing immunity to spells of the emotion and mind-affecting descriptors. On the low-level end, 3/day message and +4 to Heal checks as well as no requirement for a healer's kit are interesting options. It should be noted, that not all of these items imho are well-priced - the Jodhpurs of the Mounted Guard provide no less than +5 to Ride checks AND the Mounted Combat and Spirited Charge-feats AND makes all mounts be treated as combat-trained- for a paltry 7500 GP. There are also some glitches to be found herein - the Kilt of the Tyrant, for example, has only a CL of 5th, which, for an item that costs 59000 GP - while I get this rationale for the spell-like ability it confers and seeing how the headband of alluring charisma has a CL of 8th.



Fans of magical girl anime may enjoy the new magical miniskirt, whereas fans of classic comedy will almost certainly get a chuckle out of parachute pants. Skald's kilts provide btw. benefits for the ACG-class, so yes, there is some support for that one herein as well - and yes, swashbucklers et al. also get there. I also very much got a smile out of magical traveling pants that lose their enchantment if not passed to new wearers regularly...



More fun still - what about cursed pants that compel you to brag about your own awesomeness? Pants that conjure forth swarms of ants...inside? Pants that set themselves ablaze whenever the wearer utters a lie? Yeah, fun!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor issues, though nothing too jarring. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard, which means you can print this one out in digest-format. The pdf provides one original piece of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Mark Gedak, Perry Fehr, Sean O'Connor and Jacob Trier have crafted some pretty awesome and fun material - the pants herein are ridiculous and often, downright fun. And no, I do not expect magical pants, an item-class that adds a new slot (resulting in more stacking options etc.) to be perfectly balanced. Alas, in some cases, there obviously are some issues herein, with CLs not lining 100% perfect up and power-levels of some pants being quite frankly beyond what I'm comfortable with. If you utilize some caution and nerfing, this *WILL* be a very inexpensive, exceedingly fun product, but without it, it does sport some rough patches in balance and minor hiccups in rules-syntax/semantics. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Magic Pants!
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Purple Mountain II: Ruins of the Dwarven Delve
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/15/2015 09:35:50
The second level of the Purple Mountain mega-dungeon looks quite nice and fun to play. It has challenging encounters and I like that not everything is out to kill characters, unless they make them angry :-) There is a good use of the environment during fights and I like the diversity of the opponents. What I really enjoy however are the notes left by the designer. Having a table with a list of all the encounters, locations, and experience points, as well as quests that can be accomplished is something I would like to see more often in an adventure. There is also a list of treasures with their value and where they can be found. It helps a lot to plan on game! The module itself is well-designed and will most likely be very challenging.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain II: Ruins of the Dwarven Delve
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: Nature Warden
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/15/2015 04:18:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



This time around, we take a look at the Nature Warden, who gets d10, full BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light and medium armor as well as shields. They do have a prohibition against wearing metal armor and non-wooden shields. At 4th level, they receive Wis-based prepared divine spellcasting drawn from the druid or ranger lists. On the nitpicky side, I would have enjoyed a note here that specifies whether a nature warden uses the higher or lower spell-level if a spell is e.g. spell level druid 2/ranger 1 - I'm aware of the convention using the lower, but since there are exceptions, I still would have appreciated a note here.



Nature Wardens, as based on the ranger-chassis, obviously receive full favored enemy progression. 3rd level and every 5 levels thereafter receives favored terrain choices. The nature warden receives an animal companion that shares these two from the get-go and at the full potency of the druid, as opposed to the ranger's hunter' bond class feature. At 3rd level, the favored terrain bonus is added to AC as an insight bonus.



Natural empathy is also among the class features the nature warden begins play with. 2nd level nature wardens receive at will speak with animals while in favored terrain, 1/day outside it - here, the rules could have been slightly more elegant, seeing hw favored terrain is only gained at 3rd level, rendering the ability limited to 1/day at 2nd level - but this is a pretty much irrelevant design aesthetic complaint. Speak with Plants is gained at 15th level with a similar mechanic based on terrain. On the plus-side, wild stride, a non-plant-based woodland stride in favored terrain provides a nice option and at 7th level, aptly put into the class's progression.



The animal companion treats attacks as silver at 6th level, a benefit that also extends to all creatures summoned via summon nature's ally-spells. The cold-iron-based variant, Ironpaw, is relegated to 18th level, which is pretty far down the line. Survivalist, which allows for the examination of tools to treat them as masterwork, comes at 9th level alongside evasion. Almost classically by now, we get quarry at 11th level and camouflage at 12th. In an interesting decision, both guarded lands and woodforging come at the same level, 14th to be precise.



The higher levels provide improved evasion, hide in plain sight, improved quarry and companion soul as a capstone.



The class comes with favored class options for the core-races, most of which focus on the animal companion. The pdf also sports sample builds at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level - here, a cool layout decision has been implemented -arrows conveniently show when a new statblock begins - relevant, since the sample stats come with animal companions. It should also be mentioned that the pdf's sample NPC comes with excessive prose, which does feature some nice turns of phrases that had me chuckle - "pure-bred half-orc"? Yeah, kind of funny!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's nature warden can be pretty much considered to be a variant ranger with a focus on the animal as opposed to combat style - more of an animal handler, essentially. Now I consider the base PrC on which this is based pretty much rubbish - the abilities are all over the place and are gained at points where their usefulness is limited and/or gone. The good news, then, would be that this WPA does some things right in the dispersal of abilities over the levels. Now full BAB + full companion means that, at 1st level, nature wardens with their companions will be pretty damn strong, but this levels out at later stages in game - when the class, at least in my opinion, could have used one thing more than anything other - new abilities.



Yes, I am aware that this is not the design-goal of this series, but hear me out: The nature warden as a PrC lacks a distinct identity beyond the terrain-options. The closest it arguably gets to it would be with the DR/silver and cold iron tricks. Now, much like the PrC, the PA oddly seems to value the latter as much more valuable, when both are considered equal for purposes of objective value in monster design. The high-level abilities of the nature warden feel like they come a bit late to the party, when earlier gains would have put player agenda higher on the table. If this PA is an example of one thing, then that would be that this PrC is in desperate need of more unique tricks. Conversely, first level feels a bit cluttered, with lowest levels being where the nature warden shines most - not to the point of being broken, mind you, but still - the nagging feeling never left me that this PA could have easily reached apex-levels, had it dared to add more unique options for the class presented - move the mid/high-level utility tricks down, slightly stretch the numerical escalation and sprinkle in more signature abilities et voilà - excellence.



As crafted, the PA remains solid, true, but also, at least to me, somewhat underwhelming. Still, as a reviewer, I have to take the design-intent into account - which remains the only reason I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: Nature Warden
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Drow of Porphyra - Karza, Children of the Loomqueen
by Jason H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2015 22:54:48
Everyone who has even a passing familiarity with Fantasy Roleplaying has heard of the Drow. They are the stuff of Roleplaying nightmares for many a Gamer who thinks to delve in to the caverns underneath the surface of whatever realm they inhabit and have been for decades. As with all things, familiarity breeds contempt and the 'stock' Drow suffer from this more than many Races. At least they used to, until the Drow of Porphyra came along.

Within this compact Supplement from Purple Duck Games you will find both a familiar and, at the same time, fresh take on the Drow. From their compelling 'Origin' story which brought them to the caverns of the Porphyra Setting on down to their fascinating allegiances to both their Deity AND the creatures which inhabit their underground realm. In particular this Supplement does a wonderful job of firing the imagination without over burdening a GM with needless minutiae allowing for a great deal of creative thinking from the Players and the GM.

Points of specific note are the Poison Crafting System and the Alternate Racial Characteristics which give these Drow a whole new level of flair. If you've ever wanted a more subtle and involved means of Crafting Poisons for your game then these Rules should appeal to you in particular. Racial changes can be both subtle and obvious as the Player wishes but serve a dual purpose in helping to make the usual Drow House affiliation a bit more unique and engaging for all.

In short, if you want to breathe some new life in to your Drow then you should definitely consider Drow of Porphyra for addition to your Gaming Library.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Drow of Porphyra - Karza, Children of the Loomqueen
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