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Hybrid Class: Armjack
by Timothy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 15:17:10

The class is functionally, a Fighter with Bardic Performance, more skills and a better list, and the bard's saves. This may appeal to some people, who look for crunch instead of flavor-


My biggest issue is honestly that you only get a little bit more than a Fighter who took the Bard VMC other than your feats. There are no flavor mechanics, everything is numbers, numbers, numbers. +1 here, +2 there. I do realize this is Pathfinder, but there are plenty of books even in this same publisher which make the archaic PF system work for a storytelling medium.


Kineticists of Porphyra 1, 2, 3, Legendary Kineticists, Samurai of Porphyra, Warlord (Path of War, Dreamscarred Press), and most notably Legendary Classes: Kinetic Shinobi.


I won't deny that it is powerful, but it does not innovate. I cannot recommend it, so I have given it two stars. It is worth the $3 for Purple Duck enthusiasts, but otherwise I would only get it on a sale.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Armjack
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Hybrid Class: Armjack
by Alicia C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2016 14:17:59

I like the level of detail included in this hybrid class. An armjack would be a lot of fun to play in both a campaign of wide, sweeping battles, or a dungeon crawl with close associates.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Luminary
by Alicia C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2016 14:16:31

What an interesting hybrid class! Well written and balanced. I think this will be a lot of fun to play.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Class: Luminary
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Vigilantes of Porphyra
by James S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2016 21:48:28

There's a lot of cool stuff in here, but it feels kinda limited. I'm used to KOP stuff, so it felt like there was some lacking content, even if the stuff inside was pretty good.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Porphyra
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Stock Art: Crowolf
by Stephen C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2016 15:17:26

The only issue with this is that the stock-art license and the artist name are not included within the downloaded file, meaning I had to come back to this page to check them. Otherwise it's really good quality work.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Crowolf
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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/16/2016 18:35:42

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first of the Dispatches from the Raven Crowking collection of blogposts, miscellanea, new material and the like for DCC clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 48 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this book with an essay that discusses roleplaying games under the criteria of the eponymous three Cs, but not before making clear that, what follows, is not intended as a cure-all or as a universal truth - it's been a while since I've seen a subjectivity clause in a GM advice section and I won't lie - I consider its inclusion refreshing and professional. Anyways, the following essay can be pictured as a concise and pointed breakdown of the three Cs, so let us begin: Ultimately, more so than in our daily lives, roleplaying games are exercises in free will and choices; much like our reality and social structure imposes a certain degree of rules upon us, so does a given roleplaying system. Once you realize the importance of choice, it becomes pretty apparent why both highly codified games like PFRPG and those that feature a minimum of rules enjoy their popularity: Either by means of simply providing a huge and fine-grained array of diverse options or by requiring none of them, choice is facilitated. However, this is only the system; the practice of roleplaying similarly is informed by choices and this extends to fudging - or not fudging, dice, a theme covered in a separate essay, but one that I feel ties directly into the 3 Cs.


The pdf makes a pretty vehement stand (unsurprisingly) in favor of letting the dice fall as they may and point a single fact out: If you roll the dice and disregard the result, why roll at all? At first glance, this may generate some anger or seem infuriating, but there is an intriguing meta-point here: If the module/system/engine you utilize features a choice and you decide via the dice, what does it say about the game when the results are ignored in favor of an optimum narrative? The pdf does take a stab at the design philosophy of 3.X here and, to a certain degree, I concur: As soon as you do not emphasize challenge, but rather a fixed and relatively likely success and then proceed to streamline deviations from said behavior away, you eliminate not only your own choice, but that of the players as well. More importantly: If a module or given supplement's options feature a lot of information that is bound (and assumed) to be ignored in favor of an ideal scenario, what does that say about the design? The problem here directly taps into the consequences of actions and the impact and severity they ought to have.


At the same time, I think the argumentation does undervalue the aspect of context - herein, context is defined as the world and the game itself; i.e. the environment in which the respective rolls are made. A context depicts the framework in which choices are made and making no choice is a choice in itself - to use the tired old quote "Sometimes the only way to win is not to play." - Replace "win" with "choice" and you have the paradox, for not choosing is a choice.


Here, the pdf imho could be a bit clearer: It identifies a crucial, immersion-hampering issue with quite a few roleplaying games, but fails to draw a truly helpful conclusion from it, instead opting for an enumeration of virtues of DCC and a more hardcore gaming aesthetic. A distinct issue that more codified roleplaying games have featured time and again lies in a sense of entitlement that has crept into the respective systems: Players demanding certain results; XP after this many encounters, levels after Y more, an availability of certain options because they are "official" (never mind how sucky many of 3.X's official WotC-splatbooks were...) and at the same time discouraging 3pp material. The second paradox in this development is, ultimately, that the people demanding such design-philosophy deprive themselves of the option to be surprised in favor of a streamlined experience; similarly this idealized streamlined experience needs to be reflected in "official" modules and supplements. This necessarily implies an ideal structure and sequence and as such, the fudging of dice to not deviate from this scenario suddenly becomes significantly more appealing.


What do I mean by this? Well, I have nothing but the highest respect for Paizo's module catalogue as a whole. There is a significant array of creative and downright brutal modules out there for Pathfinder that, if you do the math, will grind PCs, even minmaxed ones, when played properly. To have the industry leader put there out is a refutation of the premise that the adventure design philosophy is solely to blame. Instead, think carefully whether and how you fudged dice to spare a player making yet another character with complex rules, not wreck your metaplot, etc. It is, at least upon closer examination, not the module's fault or the fault of a design philosophy, at least not alone - it is a mindset, a capitulation before an internalized entitlement by both players and GMs that drains away subtly the achievement of having bested some of the more lethal modules. And I know, that even though I pride myself on being a killer-GM, am tempted to fudge the dice once in a while. But the clumsy lich, the TPK, the multi-criting halfling monk...perhaps the weirdness and uncommon quirks of fate that arise by virtue of the dice, deserve to be heard, deserve not to be fudged over. Perhaps GMs, just like players, have become a bit lazy and don't want to go off the rails anymore.


And I understand - unlike the text, my personal observation pertaining the issue stems from a deep love of both OSR-gaming, PFRPG, GUMSHOE, 13th Age and a ton of games more and in some of them, character generation is significantly more work than rolling 3d6 6 times and be done with it. Fudging is not bad per se. So let me propose an experiment: Get CoC or a similar rules-light system...and play a module with the distinct, purist mindset that everyone will die or become insane or worse. Play it. Let the dice fall. If you're doing it right, your players will have fun. Then return to your regularly scheduled game and play...and when next time the context is right and you're tempted...don't ignore that die roll. It doesn't have to be the infamous deck of many things...but still. Let the BBEG die ingloriously as the rogue backstabs him with a lucky crit; let the paladin be eaten by that gelatinous cube. If anything, there is fun to be had in failure and chaos as well.


And yes, this may have deviated quite a bit from the thesis of this pdf, but I considered it important to convey, for these observations and their clarity ultimately resulted from me reading the book and finding myself both agreeing and disagreeing - and this type of thought-provoking dialog, in lack of a better term, is exactly what I expect from such a book.


Another essay herein pertains the epic endgame - and the considerations you should make when planning the like: Why has no one else attempted it? The risks involved, etc. - think of it, both from a player and villain perspective: Every Bond-villain ever? Thwarted in the endgame. Throwing the One Ring in Mt. Doom? Endgame. By thinking about the scope and implications, one can lend a better sense of the stakes and gravitas involved to the proceedings. Beyond this, there is also an expansive Appendix N-section, which talks about Edgar Rice Burroghs, Sterling E. Lanier's Hiero's Journey and the impact both can have on a given campaign.


There is more than game theory to be found herein, though: If you are looking for an intriguing environment, you will find one with Shanthopal and the background provided for the Golden City, breathing the spirit of the fantastical blended with sword & sorcery, breathing an evocative spirit that only made me wish to hear more. Kudos!


On the utility-section, DCC judges will be happy to realize that the advice articles herein are useful indeed: Both regarding 0-level funnels and the transition to 1st level and the use of patrons within the game (and the modifications/expansions the author has brought to the concept) are discussed alongside relatively extensive lists of books to consult and check out, both released by Goodman games and 3pps. Similarly and more importantly, the emphasis to end the "generic orc/haf-dragon/etc."-syndrome, how to capture the weird and fantastic and slowly generate a DCC world and aesthetic are covered in quick, precise and well-reasoned terms, showing the author's understanding of the themes of DCC.


Alternate rules-wise, spontaneous spell learning with a significant risk factor is provided, though personally, I'm not the biggest fan of that one...however, that may be due to aesthetics. To me, in particularly in DCC, magic needs deliberation and study or help; unlocking, even a risky spontaneity in that regard makes it feel cheaper to me and thus, less magical. Your mileage may vary, obviously.


The pdf also features several creatures - namely statblocks for ammonites for DCC: Swarms in three sizes and single, larger ones from Small to Huge size can be found in the book. Additionally, we are introduced to R'yalas, lord of the drowned one, a powerful ammonite wizard and thus closes the pdf with an adversary worthy of our good ole' Cimmerian friend.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly b/w one-column A5 format (6'' by 9'') and the pdf features some solid b/w-artworks. I'd suggest getting this in print, since the pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment for the use of the electronic version.


Daniel J. Bishop's first collection of dispatches is an intriguing little GM-handbook, in particular for the weird fantasy and the sword & sorcery aesthetic, both of which I really like. His writing is precise and while I cringed HARD when reading Mother Theresa listed alongside people you'd consider heroes in examples for epic endgames and their achievement, that does not take away from the fact that I took something away from this pdf.


The writing herein is certainly opinionated, but it deserves being replied to in as far as its content manages to elucidate several not necessarily apparent conventions and structures pertaining our games. As a person, I think the WotC-bashing component is not always justified and the prospective buyer should be aware that this is very much written from a DCC-perspective; the more complex tasks more rules-intense systems demand make the subject matter more complex than the book manages to depict or even acknowledge. This remains the crucial one flaw of this book's formal essays: While it extends its reach beyond the confines of DCC and provides a valid opinion piece that certainly is thought-provoking, it does exhibit a certain ignorance, whether willful or not remains irrelevant, regarding the different requirements and dynamics of systems with a higher degree of complexity and the ramifications that result from these complexities.


It should be noted that this does NOT mean that this is a bad pdf - far from it; it just means that it oversimplifies a rather complex topic when reaching beyond the primary comfort and application zone of DCC and OSR gaming. Within the chosen paradigm and primary target audience, this should resonate; beyond these confines, it can improve the game, but requires some deliberate and thoughtful consideration of the theses and their consequences.


...


Or you just don't care about all of that and just are a DCC judge who wants some nice essays, monsters, ideas and GMing advice for your favorite game. In that case as well as in the above instances, I'd recommend this booklet, for you'll certainly find some nice inspiration and intriguing thoughts herein. In the end, considering target audience, scope and quality, I will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dispatches from the Raven Crowking Volume 1
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Stock Art: Shadow Octopus
by Stephen C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2016 12:10:27

This piece came in really handy for writing a sea-based module especially as Jacob Blackmon has a nicely generous definition of reasonably changes, allowing me to recolour the piece as I needed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Death Slaves of Eternity (DCC)
by Raymond S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2016 17:40:56

I will be running this game in a week. In the meantime, I've been reading it and this is an insanely good DCC module. It has so many things to recommend it. The zero level generator is great for a human only sword and sorcery setting. The tables for random loot and special items are interesting and well done. The plot is well thought out and layered througout the module. The monsters/encounters are good/twisted/cool. The potential patron/diety with a full write up as both are fantastic.


If you like DCC and you like a good sword and sorcery setting, this is a sure bet.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Death Slaves of Eternity (DCC)
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Legendary Classes: Eternal Mage
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2016 04:00:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, what is this eternal mage guy? The class gets d6 HD, 2+Int mod skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and suffer from arcane spell failure when wearing armor (and gain no proficiencies there). They also get 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves - so, we have the classic full caster chassis, right?


Kind of. Spellcasting is radically different. Eternal mages draw their spells from the wizard spell list and are spontaneous casters - as such, Charisma is their governing attribute for spellcasting. An eternal mage begins play knowing 4 0-level spells and 2 1st level spells. Additional spells are exclusively gained via level progression and caps at 5 1st and 2nd level spells, 4 3rd, 4th and 5th level spells and 3 spells of the remaining levels. Unlike other spellcasters, high attributes do NOT provide bonus spells known. At 4th level and every even level thereafter, an eternal mage may replace a spell known with another of equal level, imposing a hard cap on retraining as well.


Now here's the thing: No spell slots, no spells prepared - eternal mages instead have a balancing mechanic called eldritch burnout: When using a spell or spell-like ability of 1st level from ANY class they possess (yes, ANY class!), they gain a number of eldritch burnout points equal to the spell's level. For every such point they possess, eternal mages take a cumulative -1 to their caster level for ALL spellcasting abilities they may possess, including SPs. For every 2 points of eldritch burnout, the DCs of all spells and SPs decreases by 1. At the end of each round an eternal mage suffers from eldritch burnout, he recovers 1 point of eldritch burnout. Eternal mages reduced to 0 caster level via eldritch burnout can't cast spells or SPs, but they still can cast cantrips.


Additionally, an eternal mage has a harsh further limit imposed on spellcasting: They may only maintain one non-instantaneous or permanent spell at any given time, with new castings potentially immediately ending the previous effect. At 7th and 14th level, this limit is improved by +1 effect in place at a given time. At 1st level, the eternal mage also chooses 3 schools: Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy, Transmutation - they may only learn spells of the universal school or the three schools thus chosen. So, that would be the limits imposed on the basic framework of infinite casting. An additional school is unlocked at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.


Starting at 2nd level, the class gets arcane overdrive points equal to Charisma modifier + 1/2 level. (I am pretty confident that this should be eternal mage level and not general class level.) As a free action, the eternal mage may spend up to 1/2 class level of these points to ignore an equal amount of eldritch burnout incurred and when this reduces eldritch burnout to 0, the class instead regains 1 point of eldritch burnout. At 13th level, the eternal mage may mitigate 2 points of eldritch burnout per overdrive point expended. At 19th level, whenever such a point if used to reduce the amount of eldritch burn incurred, the eternal mage may freely add the "empowered, extended or persistent metamagic feat to it", which is a slight formatting/rules-language hiccup.


This pool refreshes after resting and also acts as the resource for eternal secrets, the first of which is gained at 3rd level. Unless otherwise noted, an eternal secret's activation is a free action and save DCs, where applicable, are equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Cha-mod. As a minor formal nitpick: New eldritch secrets are gained every 3 levels thereafter, a sentence absent from the text, but evident from the table. Unless I have miscounted, a total of 40 such eternal secrets are provided. They range from gaining a familiar to being capable of spending overdrive points to increase the reality of a given spell...and if you want to go metamagic, you will need to do so via eternal secrets as well. Some overlap with an arcanist's counterspelling prowess can also be found herein and the secrets also allow blasting specialists to ignore certain amounts of energy resistance. t should also be noted that the class features a pseudo warlock blast tree, with progressively more potent shapes, allowing for the expenditure of overdrive points to generate unytped arcane energy blasts. The secrets also contain means to reduce eldritch burnout gained by 1. There also is a means to cause foes nearby to gain eldritch burnout as a standard action, recovering 1/2 the target's HD worth of eldritch burnout - smart, since that renders the ability scaling, kitten-proof and while I am not 100% comfortable with the 9th level move action variety, I can see why it's there.


Starting at 4th level and again at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the eldritch burnout is decreased by 1; in the case of a reduction to 0, the character recovers from 1 eldritch burnout at the end of his round


To sum it up - with eternal secrets, the spellcasting utilizes a cooldown period that can be modified/mitigated by a static, non-replenishing resource as a balance-mechanism. Starting at 6th level, the class gets an experimental spell -basically a spell wild card of any level except the highest level they can cast, which can be changed upon resting. Said spell increases burnout by 1, though- At 11th level the spell may belong to the highest level they can cast, but burnout increases by a further 1 in such a case. 17th level unlocks a second experimental spell.


As a capstone, the class may ignore the effects of eldritch burnout of up to 20 points, basically delimiting the caster level and DC decay of the class.


The pdf also features archetypes, the first of which would be the artillery expert, who would be the specialist for the untyped blasts I mentioned before. Instead of requiring the secret, they gain a modified version for free, with higher levels focusing the modifications of overdrive to instead enhance the respective blasting capacity. The second archetype is the dead eternal, who must choose necromancy and may select witch hexes as eternal secrets and with aracen artillery, the class can gain a specialized combo-secret that adds lesser artillery damage to the effects of hexes and the capstone providing not 1, but 2 grand hexes. The master specialist gains only 2 schools instead of 3, but gains +1 spell from the specialty schools at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, with 6th level providing the arcane school secret instead of the eternal secret at that level. Imho, this one may be slightly too powerful, considering that the archetype still learns additional schools at higher levels.


As has become the tradition with Purple Duck Games, the book contains a TON of favored class options, not only for the core races and the planar ones, but also for the variable and diverse cast that populates Porphyra. It should also be noted that these generally don't consist of the cookie-cutter variety...so yeah, kudos.


The pdf concludes with Alain Marcus, a sample 1st level eternal mage.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I noticed some very minor hiccups here and tehre, though they do not influence the tight rules-language employed. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column, printer-friendly standard and the pdf has no artwork apart from the cover. It should be noted that the pages are A5-sized (6'' by 9''), making this the briefest Legendary Classes installment so far. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Let me come clear from the get-go: The very concept of N. Jolly's eternal mage is something I loathe as a person. NOT because I am against infinite casters; far from it; but because the very framework of using spells in an infinite capacity is not something the system was built for; spells vary greatly in power and from AoE-damage to hard terrain control and debuffs, the game-changer effects in battles are usually this powerful because they are restricted. Beyond that, a world in which any type of infinite casting is possible radically changes dynamics; whether it's teleport-couriers, whole battalions of unerring magic missile firing mages or endless summoners who just replace their squashed minions. I don't want to play in such a game world; I don't want to GM it. It's quite literally one of the things that made me settle on Pathfinder as opposed to other systems. It doesn't fit with my personal aesthetics and it is the reason all the infinite or nigh-infinite casters I use are severely restricted regarding hard crowd control and the like.


THAT BEING SAID, I also really admire this framework. The talent of the designer is clearly evident in this class, with the restrictions and cool-down mechanic in game working surprisingly smoothly; while you can spam the same spell over and over if you make the build that way, it is regulated and discouraged, at least at low levels. If anything, I was surprised to see how well the class works at low levels, how smooth the cooldown-engine runs and how exceedingly important that reservoir becomes very quickly. I was also positively surprised to see the class not coming out as something broken in the classic definition of the word. While many of its drawbacks can somewhat be mitigated by sufficient spells in a can, it is nevertheless really impressive from a design-aesthetic point of view to see the class take a system designed as a limited resource and generating a complex framework that is basically infinite. I thought long and hard, and it is my fervent belief that this is probably as close to how you can make spells infinite as you can without breaking the game; this does not change the fact that the class is, system-immanently, built upon a wobbly foundation regarding spells and their power-curve. This does not change the fact that the introduction of these guys in a given world represents a paradigm-shift that modifies completely how the world works.


And this is where the pdf laves me torn like crazy; on the one hand, I, as a person, absolutely LOATHE the repercussions of this class; I'm into the nit and grit, believable worlds, internal logic, that sort of thing. On the other hand, I consider the engine of the class, even when I disagree in quite a few instances regarding the power of options (untyped damage, too much eldritch burnout reduction for my tastes, too many schools gained...) a thing of beauty; you see, if I wanted a less powerful eternal mage in my game, I could easily tinker with the engine and make a less powerful version of it. If the notion of casting infinite spells and the repercussions for the game world would intrigue me, I'd do just that. It's honestly no rocket science and dead simple...which bespeaks the quality of the engine employed.


Now, as far as rating this, I picture this as one of the instance where I can't possibly encompass all of my audience: On the one hand, conservative and simulationalist gamers will loathe the living hell out of this class. I do. On the other hand, I am absolutely positive that there is a significant amount of people who don't care about the minor peculiarities of in-game logic or just want to go full-blown high fantasy..or simply wanted an exhaustion-style caster. These folks will probably love the eternal mage to bits and consider me a spoil-sport of epic proportions for harping on "unimportant" details when the class works surprisingly well.


Usually, I'd thus settle on the middle ground considering an oscillation of these proportions; however, considering that the very notion, if its consequences appall you as much as they do me, you already know to steer clear of this guy. Which leaves the "like the idea"-crowd...and for you ladies and gentlemen, this class will be fun indeed; while pretty strong in its default iteration, a halfway competent GM can potentially nerf it without any hassle by restricting schools, decreasing burnout mitigation options or simply adding a damage-type to the blasts. As a reviewer, I have to take that into account...as well as the fact that, while built on a foundation on sand called spells, the class remains surprisingly stable; as long as the GM takes close stock on how unlimited (with a cooldown) availability of a spell will change his game, I can see this class delivering fun moments in games that enjoy the concept. While it will never ever get even close to my home-game, the class thus deserves a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Eternal Mage
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Monsters of Porphyra 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/05/2016 08:26:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second of the massive bestiaries for the Porphyra campaign setting clocks in at a massive 226 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page introduction (containing thanks for the contributing authors and contact information for the artists involved - kudos for providing that at such a prominent spot!), 4.5 pages of SRD, 1 page blank/back cover, leaving us with 215.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


I have received this bestiary as an early access file and have been working on this review ever since; beyond that, this is a prioritized review and was moved up in my review-queue at the request of my patreons.


The first two pages of this bestiary provide an explanation on how to read the statblocks and use the creatures herein. We begin without much fanfare or ado with the very first monster herein, the Absinthian Hardwood - which makes a great example of what to expect in this book...or at least one example that highlights one facet of it: At first glance, we get a tree-like monster...but what does that have to do with one of my favorite alcoholic beverages? Okay, it does have a neat array of SPs, but depicting these trees in actual game is intriguing, since they usually do not fight; they let others do the dirty work. The tree grows sweet, aromatic fruits that are highly addictive and thus generate cultists of addicts pretty quickly; said cults are then tasked to spread the taint of these trees. Horrific in theme, the artwork provided for the tree reflects that nature. Another example for a great idea is the arbogeist - when a treant or similar plant creature perishes in horrific agony, these undead are created. That doesn't seem too novel to you? Well, the build itself has multiple unique tricks up its sleeve and rewards smart players with an exploitable weakness-section. But yes, there are cool plant creatures herein - one of my favorites being Rotwood: This powerful magical disease warps plants and wood and shapes the components into exceedingly lethal engines of destruction, infecting all it touches - equal parts puzzle boss, endgame adversary and ridiculously powerful agent of destruction, it breathes tons of creativity.


Porphyra, as a patchwork planet, is incredibly diverse and as such, its monsters should reflect some concepts beyond the common - and we do get some ideas here that are evocative enough to make you grin: Picture exploring a dungeon, when you suddenly see a gooey pool of resplendent slime that grows wing-like protrusions, glows and flies around? Yep, that would be Angel Jelly, positively infused and rather kind. We all know the trope of the gigantic intelligent turtle, ancient and benign, right? Well, enter the archaic one. At CR 18, these incredibly long-lived beings are consumed by a crushing ennui, bored literally out of their minds by an existence that has gone on too long, seeping corruption and taint through their very pores. Speaking of such powerful foes - be wary of small islands - there is a very real chance that it may actually be an extremely deadly apex-predator jellyfish that hunts by posing as an islet until creatures step on it...and then the nightmare begins.


Hybrid creatures and internal connections between critters have also been an easy means to generate a sense of cohesion - and this book introduces an intriguing cultural tidbit: Aranea mages, hating to slay their rivals, proceed with the custom of magically rendering them insane; the offspring of aranea thus punished and various spider creatures can be found within these pages. The barzakhi, aka astral masters, would be a new race that is remarkable for several reasons: They are enslaving interlopers from the realms beyond the mortal sphere, yes - so far, so classic...but they a) have significant psionic abilities and b) have heads that are pyramidal with a single eye on each side. What might sound goofy is actually pretty creepy and evokes a ton of the tropes we cherish from conspiracy theories and novels...with homebases of electrified spheres of alien metal, they also quote a classic of literature...so yeah. AWESOME. (As a minor nitpick - one of their abilities refers to an "Astral Noble" instead of an "Astral Overlord" - but this I mention only because it is the one type of glitch you are likely to encounter herein. Oh, have I mentioned that they EAT SPELLS and throw them back as blasts at you? Yeah, pretty awesome!


Now if you're like me, you'll enjoy a certain sense of "realism" in your games and, as I've come to realize, shortage scenarios, whether due to siege or generally a grim tone can provide some very intriguing results. But what do necromancers do when they run out of material? Well, they create beseiged undead, that's what. Taking for example a ton of human skin, stitching it together and filling it with sand may create slow undead, but the visuals are great and you still have bones and muscle tissue to make other monstrosities. Love this idea!


I also consider, at least to a significant degree, the type of animal-like beings that populate a world to be a pretty crucial component regarding the generation of immersion and the book does something interesting with those efficient predators: Take the centipede-like centioch - it's tail has no less than three stingers, each with a different poison. Beyond the mechanics, I certainly know that many a thieves' guild will try to get one of these...feed one huge vermin and get the chance to milk three poisons? Sounds like a smart deal...that requires capable assistance. Yes, I will have my PCs cart one of these things into a city. The logistics alone should be more than interesting to watch... If you're looking for a more companion-compatible creature, you may want to look at quillback crocodiles - powerful predators with defensive spines. Among the "should be goofy, but is not" hybrids, the crow-wolf hybrid manages to actually look pretty nasty. Colossal spiders that weave webs of crystal (some played Brütal Legend!) are pretty cool...as are the cricket-like daemons that feast on maximum bloodshed. (On another note - the artwork for these fellows is glorious!)


I am a big believer in the fact that some unique bosses benefit a bestiary - one of these herein would be the fallen demon lord Gu'Dabana the Choker: A 4-armed, white-furred monstrosity, eyeless with a rat's slavering maw and the ability to possess mortals. Oh, and he actually utilizes the EXCELLENT Assassins of Porphyra material, having his own cult of these professional killers. Since we're talking creatures of the Abyss right now: Demons fused with the signature porphyrite or bone-club-wielding, massive simian herds of the fallen can be found...but they miss out in levels of WTF when compared to the Carceratos devil: These things decapitate foes rendered helpless and then fuse the head and body with their obese form...both of which, eerily, remain conscious and in agony, only dying once the creature is slain. This damned if you do, damned if you don't-level of effective despair-generation feels perfectly devilish to me. Two thumbs up! And yes, unique devil included - Kram-Hotep, lord of the twilight pyramid.


If you're into classic folklore, you may wish to take a close look at the dread devourer worm - at CR 30, it is an incredibly tough, beyond tarrasque-level unstoppable monstrosity well worth of the legend. Regarding humanoids, we do get renditions of the races featured in the Fehr's Ethnology-series - including one of the six-limbed dhosari. While I am not the biggest fan of the race, the absolutely stunning artwork provided here most definitely deserves recognition. The pdf also features three new classes of elementals - death, metal and wood elementals, all of which do their theme pretty well. Now, if all of this sounds too focused on themes for you, let's take a look at the emph as a great example for a mechanically unique being: This incorporeal aberration may occupy up to 9 adjacent squares in any configuration; alternatively, these squares may overlap and increase the creature's density, acting as buffs. Very cool.


For all people with a phobia of clowns, the chaotic evil facada outsiders, themed around the suites of tarot, make for delightfully twisted adversaries. New giants are included in the deal alongside highly conductive cuprum golems or beings crafted from godflesh....wait a second. Yep, in case you were wondering: The good ole' godflesh golem from one of my favorite 3.X-books has been updated for PFRPG herein. Would you rather fight an animated, malignant gallows that can sense your hatred? And what about that doodle on the wall that just moved? Yes, these would be golems as well and they stretch the term and its meaning, but are distinctly golems still.


Shepherds of all things creepy and crawly will certainly appreciate the significant array of verminhive golems and speaking of creepy -the chorion hag's artwork gets my award for most disturbing artwork in the book: A corpulent, eel-like undulating form with bony, quasi-insectoid claws, blended faces and the ability to clone creatures in her bloated womb, this thing is a delightfully twisted perversion PCs will love to defeat. Remember when slimes and molds still were dangerous, when they multiplied upon being hit, again and again and again? Enter the hypermiotic template.


The interesting thing, though, is that even when a given creature, like the tired trope of the ice-burrowing worm, is featured, it has something going for it - in that case, no icy breath attack, but rather the option to spit forth highly corrosive salt, generating effects akin to acid pit. Fans of Eastern mythologies will enjoy the inclusion of the Kuchisake-Onna, the vengeful spirit of a mutilated woman. Folklore of only seldom tapped in cultures is used to great effect herein, with e.g. the Nang Tani from Thai culture receiving their own treatment - I wholeheartedly applaud the book for delving into these cultures and bringing some part of their rich heritage to the game. Take the obake; the classic oni was translated into a doddering old man, whose back has fused with a hive of wasps. Yes, that actually is frightening.


Better known tropes also feature herein: The narwhale, for example - ho turns out to be a benevolent, intelligent being herein - with an accompanying masterpiece to call these creatures. Oh...and two-words: Jousting ostriches. Companion stats included. Speaking of whales, one word: Skywhale.


Want something unique and distinctly high fantasy: The qutrub. These guys would be lycanthropes...but instead of gaining an animal-based hybrid form, their alternate form is undead. Come on, you know there is a good story in here! Speaking of stories: This is very much bestiary in the format: Statblocks upon statblocks...but the creatures actually do feature notes on how they behave on Porphyra and more information than usual for this type of book; better yet, once in a while, we get excerpts from folklore, poems or simply legends pertaining the respective monsters, providing additional information for their use.


What's cooler than a motherf*** pterodactyl (2 cents if you got that obvious reference)? Well, what about one that spews lava and has scales of obsidian? Yes. Did you think the classic chimerae were bad? Mantigorgamera. Lavishly depicted, these deadly things are manticore-gorgon-chimera hybrids...and what sounds ridiculous is actually really, REALLY deadly. Less deadly and actually kind a cute: The Mark 1 Mulitpurpose golem roboter. If you're like me a fan of proteans, you should know that none other than Todd Stewart has contributed three new ones to this book...and they are awesome. What about aboleth-controlled cephalopods with stingers in their tentacles? Have I mentioned the 4-headed space mosquito swarms? No? Well, now I have. The vorpal vole? The 4 unique and new yaksha that not only provide great takes on their respective roles, but also cool builds?


While we're at builds - the book does contain monster-building advice and material from the bestiaries, expanded to CR 30, a massive glossary of monster abilities (including formatting notes), summaries of subtypes, uncommon feats used (including ceremonial feats), monster cohorts, familiars and animal companions (with page numbers). The appendix also features monsters listed by type, CR and terrain and role. Unusual spells utilized and taken from 3pps are also found here - all in all, this section makes navigation of the book easy, comfortable and quick.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no accumulation of significant issues; both on a formal and rules-language level, the book is neat and the statblocks I did reverse-engineer sported no significant issues. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games' printer-friendly two-column standard with purple highlights. The different artists used this time around work to the book's advantage: While there is ONE artwork I didn't care for in the book, from Jacob Blackmon's signature style to old-school paintings and truly horrific pieces for the nastier critters, the artists complement the creatures in question very well. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked for your convenience.


Main authors Perry Fehr and Mark Gedak, with additional monsters by Russ Brown, August Hahn, Julian Neale and Todd Stewart have crafted one massive book here. But let me take a step back first: Mark Gedak has a patreon that has by now produced this book; the second of the massive Porphyra bestiaries. Book 1 was good; a fun and well-written bestiary and a quality-wise neat tome.


Against the usual trend, Monsters of Porphyra II blows its predecessor clean out of the water. Are you looking for mechanically creative abilities that provide a unique combat experience and tactical challenges? there are creatures for that inside. Want something owlbear-goofy but also cool? Included. Some creatures drawn from more exotic folklore? In here. Utterly unique creatures and cultures, campaign-endbosses, puzzle foes? All inside. No matter what you're looking for in a bestiary, from the wholesome to the horrific, from the fantastical and purist to the off-the-walls weird, this one delivers.


More importantly: There is no suck inside. I did not find a single creature that felt tired or bland; It's either the artwork, the unique signature abilities or the combination of both that add a sense of the "want to use" to these critters. I mean, it actually makes one of the most tired concepts ever, the ice worm, feel pretty creative. Similarly, when creatures from obscure 3.X OGL-books were upgraded, the upgrades often include twists and different flavors that render them fresh and distinct. The lore sections, prose and the like help render the back-to-back reading experience more fulfilling as well.


...


I have no formal complaints. There are some very minor hiccups here and there, but they are so few and far in-between and don't influence the functionality of the critters. For a book of this size, that is a true feat. Oh, and consider the fact that this one was made sans a huge KS-budget, instead thriving on continuous, dedicated work. It's one thing to have a burst of inspiration; constantly generating creatures with this level of quality is a feat. Magical beasts feel magical, dragons feel draconic; folklore beasts are close to their source-material or make it cooler than in our mythology. Animals and vermin feel effective and pretty realistic and like they make sense. In short: This is an absolutely stellar bestiary for a more than fair price point.


Personally, I'm not a big fan of the bestiary formula; I prefer my creatures with a ton of back story, ecologies, etc. Blame it on my old-school origins. Most bestiaries I end up liking thus have a lot of flavor text. Monsters of Porphyra II does have a bit of it..but still is a bestiary. And guess what? It's probably as close to "I love everything" as a monster book of this size is ever bound to get. This is one of the best monster supplements out there in the 3pp circuit, with more inspiring creatures in it than I would have expected. As noted, book 1 was already very good...but it is here that the authors take a huge breadth of themes and topics, mechanics and go full-blown all-out. To me, not a single one of the critters herein felt phoned-in; they all feel like they were made with a passion that translates very well from the pages. After reading this book, I found myself sketching a sequence of adventures featuring a ton of the critters herein - and that is something that only rarely happens as far as bestiary books are concerned.


So yes, get this! Monsters of Porphyra II is a phenomenal resource of creative critters of all types, shapes and forms and deserves the highest accolades. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and I nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsters of Porphyra 2
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Spontaneous Subterranean Spore Groves
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/01/2016 11:26:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Purple Duck Storeroom-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, what is this? If AAW Games' critically acclaimed Rise of the Drow has taught me anything, then it's that modern gaming had lost some of its sensibilities; when the saga took the wonder of the 2nd edition's Dungeoneer's Survival Guide and the general notion of believable environments and infused it right back into the subterranean realms, I was ecstatic. The underworld hadn't felt that alive, that wondrous, in a long, long time.


So, this little pdf can be considered to be something of a mini-dressing file: The idea is as follows: The things in the underdark need to eat, right? Well, fungi grow below and so, the pdf does contain subterranean spore groves for your perusal. in power-level, they are rules-interaction-wise mostly at the lower scale and the pdf works as follows: You have 12 entries to determine weird fungi; then, you determine the size of the grove with a d12, which also modifies all subsequent tables, so yes, size does matter here.


Next up, you determine the food value to be scavenged from the grove...and then the effects. Sure, the shrooms might be poisonous...but there is similarly a chance that one of 8 strange effects may kick in upon consumption. These range from mild hallucinations to bonuses to Cha or medicinal properties, and while slightly more precision here pertaining conditions, bonus types and the like, the basic functionality is there. A sample hazard table modified by the number and CR of PCs is included, with hazards and foes ranging from CR - to 7. A little table to determine fungal themed monsters is next (15 entries strong and pretty much what you'd expect) and 12 non-fungal sample monsters (standard underworld fare) can be used to include here.


The pdf concludes with a sample hazard - the CR 3 cyan fungus, which sends discus-like projectiles towards anything nearby when subjected to light. The fungus is awesome, though the rules-language for the attack and damage is a bit jumbled.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting is very good on a formal level; on a rules-level, there are some minor deviations, but none that break the material. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column, printer-friendly standard in A5-size (6'' by 9''). The pdf has a nice one-page artwork of a vegepygmy in full-color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Perry Fehr's little pdf has the heart at the right place: The visuals are nice and while it does not reach the level of evocative wonder of RotD's fungal jungle, that's not the goal - this is a great fungus fields generator and it does not purport to be more than that. The new fungus is pretty cool and something I'll definitely use.


All in all, this little pdf is a fun addition to subterranean gameplay and particularly lower-level underdark adventuring will benefit from the quick and easy food generation tables here; for longer or survivalist treks through the lightless depths, this can be a boon indeed, though I found myself wishing it had devoted more time to the fungi and provided slightly more in that terrain, less to the pretty generic sample creatures encountered tables. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - an inexpensive, fun and very useful little pdf, but one that falls short of what it could have been. Still, whether it's Second Darkness, Rise of the Drow or the quasi-defunct Throne of the Night - subterranean campaigns will enjoy this one.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Spontaneous Subterranean Spore Groves
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Craft Points - Redux
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2016 11:28:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Purple Duck Storeroom series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Well, before we do - many of you will know already that I'm a pretty big fan of Downtime-rules, crafting and the like. But the matter of the fact is that not all campaigns will take to these rules to the same extent; indeed, there are campaigns where time is of the essence or where, within a vast dungeon-complex, establishing a crafting base, keeping it secure, etc., represents a complication that is simply not desired by either group or GM. As a person, I am firmly in the camp of believers that this can be a truly awesome and evocative experience...but I absolutely understand why quite a few groups dislike the notion.


It is for said groups that this system was created. To craft an item without spending the normal labor time, a character with an item creation feat can pay 1/10th of its market price in craft points (minimum 1, rounded up). The character also must pay 1/2 the item's market value in GP and once these are spent, the item is finished the next day. The rationale is that the character had been working on the item for a while and only now has finished it. Anyone helping in the creation of items can contribute craft points - characters with the appropriate craft feat can contribute full craft points, while those that lack the respective feat can only contribute them on a 2 for 1 basis - for every 2 points spend, they pay for 1 craft point.


Magic items require a Spellcraft check versus DC 5 + CL; failure of more than 5 on this check results in a cursed item. You may reduce craft point cost by spending more time on an item - for every 100 sp worth of work as per the Craft skill, you decrease the craft point cost by 1.


A handy table provides some examples for items made with this system and their respective costs. Beyond these, the pdf provides Craft DCs Redux - quarterstaffs and slings or casting plaster would be very simple DC 5 items, for example, while e.g. alchemical dragons or CR 16+ traps would be extremely intricate at DC 35. The system is very simple and easy to grasp and 2 sample examples help illustrating the use of these DCs.


The question obviously remains - how do you get craft points and prevent them being spammed like crazy? Well, a 1st level character has 100 craft points and every subsequent level nets the new level times 100 additional craft points. Creatures of Int 3 or higher also have craft points as though their HD was equal to the level. Creatures too dumb to Craft (less than Int 3) don't get craft points and familiars, eidolons etc., i.e. all class feature creatures, don't get craft points. A handy table collects craft points gained by level and total craft points accumulated. And yes, the ardent reader may have noticed that the limitation imposed on craft points means that there is a kind-of-but-not-really crazy prepared flexibility inherent in the rules presented - though whether you perceive that as a bug or feature depends, ultimately, on your own stance.


Now obviously, this necessitates a closer look at the item creation feats and indeed - the pdf does take a look at them - including the creation of technological and psionic items, with a handy table providing the number of craft points the respective item creation feats net you. These do include craft feats for the creation of alchemical items and master work items as well as a feat that can be taken multiple times to allow for craft point accumulation; basically, in order to offset a sudden, massive influx of instant masterwork weapons, the system imposes a feat-tax on them, which does make sense, as the instantaneous generation of these items would by every craftsperson would detract from the intended flavor...and it does retain an emphasis on the importance of specialists that would otherwise be lost.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column 6'' x 9'' standard and the pdf has no bookmarks or artworks, but doesn't necessarily require them at this length.


Mark Gedak's Craft Point Redux rules, to make that abundantly clear, are not made for me or my group; I am firmly in the planning/deliberation-camp; heck, we have a whole private board for planning, downtime activity, etc. and regularly checking it and taking a look what the characters do "in the meanwhile" is a pretty constant source of joy for me. That being said, I know that not all parties have this luxury; there are con games and groups that only rarely meet...or that simply don't share my love for the nit and grit of planning and simulationalist gameplay.


While the craft points introduced here represent an abstraction I won't use in my own games, I certainly see the significant merit this system can have for groups that want to focus "on the action." For such groups, this represents an intriguing and very simple system you can introduce without much hassle or fanfare. The book-keeping is minimal (apart from craft point tallies) and the implementation elegant, the explanation of the system didactically feasible.


Oh, and this is "Pay what you want." You can actually get this installment for exactly 0 bucks, check it out and then leave a tip you'd consider appropriate...and it is my staunch belief that for some groups out there, this will be a godsend of a file. For what it is and considering the no-risk nature of this pdf, this is very much worth 5 stars. It may not be for me as a person, but it sure may be just what your group wanted!


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Craft Points - Redux
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Kineticists of Porphyra III
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2016 08:22:26

N. Jolly follows up his outstanding design from the two previous kineticist-focused books in ths third entry of the KoP series. Unlike the previous two, this one doesn’t include new elements, which was a good decision. There is so much you can do with new stuff, but there is always more you can do with the old. As usual in the series we get some fluff for the Porphyra campaign setting. After that we get straight to the Archetypes:


Corpse Puppeteers are the necromancers among the kineticists. They exchange a couple of infusions wild talents for the opportunity to have corpse companion that works similar to a druid’s animal. Interesingly, chaokineticists raise them as undead, while corpokineticists raise them as constructs! Also, they can do some bioengineering and can make their corpses evolve, in the summoner’s eidolon meaning of evolve! One thing that the archetype doesn’t mention is, when you finally get Expanded Element at 15th level (you lose the 7th level instance of the ability), can you take the other element (void/viscera) to have a different type of companion? And since you can have two companions, can one be a construct and the other an undead? Anyway, an outstanding archetype that really expand the boundaries of kinetics!


The second high-concept archetype would be the Dimensional Ripper. This archetype focuses on small portals that give you tons of tactical options! If you have seen that Dragon Ball where Goku fights a giant monster that attacks him via portals you get the idea of the DR. This archetype is open only to void, aether and time kineticists, but choose wisely for your element since this archetype loses both instances of Expanded Element. This archetype is sooo different from the standard kineticist that it takes around four pages of the book! In this case I would have liked a new element: Space, but maybe Spatialokineticist sounded too silly. But still, it would have made sense since we have Time already, and in that way the rift use could have been expanded upon in the future but we’ll see. Also, telekinesis is already covered by aether, so having teleportation covered would have been nice.


In the last book we got a kind of pally hybrid, but with the Dread Soul we get an anti-paladin kineticist IN CONCEPT. This archetypes covers even more space than the Dimensional Ripper, and have some exclusive powers. Note that while you can’t be good, you don’t have to be evil, so you can play a cool neutral anti-hero!
We finish the archetypes with the Elemental Brethren, a so obvious idea that it wasn’t done before! This archetype is open to the “genasi” races, in pathfinder that means ifrit, oread, suli, sylph and undine. This one plays a lot with racial abilities and feats, and note that you specialize into the element from your race (you get to choose in the case of sulis), and while you lose both instances of Expanded Element, you instead get ONE improved version at 10th and get a different kind of omnikinecis at 20th. Cool racial archetype!


After that we get Elemental Saturations for the new elements of the series. These expand on the idea introduced in Occult Realms, an official supplement by Paizo. Basically, elemental saturations are areas where the element is more present, but apart from being cool vacation places for kineticists, visiting one opens one small ability for everyone and an exclusive wild talent for kineticists.


Then we get new composite blasts for many combination of elements, both old and new. This section is interesting because it introduces new mechanical options that deviate from the ones in Occult Adventures, increasing the mechanical niche of the kineticists.


The same can be said of the new infusion section, which contains ways to increase range, deal bleed or splash damage, demoralize targets, dismiss outsiders among others. The new wild talent and combo wild talents section does the same, but among the options there are taken from the Dimensional Ripper, which takes out some oomph from the archetype and reinforce my idea that a new element would have been a better option, but at the same time, it opens the possibility for existing characters to get some of the DR’s toys, or just to dabble in them instead of focusing.


New to the series is a new concept called Elemental Mutation. These are kind of templates for the class that give you not only benefits, but also drawbacks accompanied by suitable fluff. You can only have one mutation, and I suppose you get them at 1st level since it doesn’t really say. There is no mention of being able to lose the mutation also.


The book finishes with a feat section (with some directed at Dimensional Rippers), followed by some new magical items with the kineticist in mind, including an artifact. Finally, we have an 11th level Dimensional Ripper NPC, showing a possible build for aether kineticists and including some Porphyra background fluff.
All in all, another stellar work by N. Jolly, and one that really shows how far he can take the kineticist class!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra III
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Legendary Classes: Quartermaster
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2016 06:08:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 26.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The quartermaster is the lord of equipment - as a framework, the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor proficiency. He may disarm magical traps as though he was a rogue and traps disarmed by him can be re-armed as a move action. The class may use Appraise instead of Perception to spot valuables and also use the skill to identify magic items. The class gets half class level to Appraise, Craft, Disable Device and UMD and all of these skills are governed by Int for the quartermaster.


At first level, the quartermaster receives resources equal to his Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. This behaves much like grit or panache, though the points do have an anti-kitten-abuse caveat (YAY!) and inflicting negative conditions via devices or directly can restore a point. The quartermaster unsurprisingly also gains deeds; unless otherwise noted, they can be used multiple times per round, though reduction of resources points is only applied to the total, not per activation. Some of the deeds require certain pieces of equipment to perform. The starting tricks of the class are already pretty interesting: There is, for example, a deed to throw nearby allies a given item, granting them temporary proficiency, provided the quartermaster has it himself. Crafting of makeshift tools and weapons is also one of his tricks.


Equipment bonuses and masterwork bonuses are doubled for the class and a quartermaster may use broken items as though they did not have that condition. 3rd level unlocks exceedingly fast (free action drawing of weapons, sheathing, reloading...wait, reloading? Yes, this would be an issue to be aware of: If you're not using firearms balanced by massive reload action-economy penalty, this is no issue...but if you do, I'd instead go for a reduction instead here. Pretty cool: One minute of set-up work can be done in a single move action. That collapsible tub or altar? Fwhump and it's there! That armor? Pretty quickly donned. Also at third level, the quartermaster may apply to bonus granted by dangerous devices to one of his attacks. What is dangerous devices? Well, at 2nd level, any piece of equipment that is not a weapon or trap increase their DC to spot and resist by +1 and attacks with them by +1. Furthermore, these bonuses increase at level 4 and every 2 levels thereafter. Oh, and yes, the damage for the item becomes +1d6 of its usual damage type (including nonlethal damage caveat for items that usually don't inflict damage), +1d6 at 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter, making this somewhat sneak-y. And yes, you can beat ogres with rotten fish to a pulp. Fans of Asterix will definitely get a smile out of this ability. To avoid abuse, this damage may be inflicted once per turn, which provides a cap not dissimilar to the cryptic's. Starting at 3rd level, dangerous device bonuses versus objects are always applied and from kicking doors in to using Disable Device to break them in, there is some serious sapper vibe going on here.


But back to the deeds:3rd level also unlocks further mastery regarding the perception of traps and at 7th level, repurposing e.g. stills and similar devices to make it "look like an accident" is possible...and exceedingly fun and creative. The 7th level ability is Thrift is also intriguing: Items with charges or daily uses can be used by the quartermaster sans expending a use/charge by instead substituting points of resources, with magic items costing 1 point of resources per charge and one-use magic items costing 2 points of resources; mundane items are free. This is at once an interesting ability and one that can be problematic - considering the fact that CL or cost of the item in question do not feature in, this can be abused like crazy, right? I have bashed stuff like this before...so how does the class offset this issue? It is simple and friggin' genius: This ability only works if the quartermaster has 3 of the items in question or more. That unique staff or total destruction? Nope. You still can get a lot of mileage out of items, but you won't get infinite healing and nor will you unintentionally break the game with the class when an adventure assumes a powerful, unique item. This is simple, elegant and genius. Finally, there would be weapon leverage, which allows adds constant bonuses to weapons with specific types or qualities: All flails are treated as though the quartermaster had Improved Reposition, for example. Additionally, the weapon groups/qualities have associated bonus actions that require points of resources and either a swift or immediate action to activate.


11th level allows for more costly, but longer lasting item-use instruction and 11th level provides universal equipment tricks at the cost of points of resources. Which brings me to the second focus of the class: Starting at 2nd level, the quartermaster gains the Equipment Trick feat and extends the benefits of the feat to those he instructs in the use of the item-type. The feat is gained an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. At 11th level, even those not covered via the feats can thus be temporarily gained. Starting at 11th level (and increasing in versatility at 15th and 19th level), the quartermaster can imbue certain qualities in objects, making them e.g. count as adamantine etc., thus alleviating the DR/resistance-bypassing issue that improvised weapon specialists get sooner or later. Starting at 15th level, easier take 10s may be nice...but imho cooler would be the option to destroy costly magic items to generate bursts of magical energy depending on item CL and school...or...and they can deal nonlethal damage versus constructs and then take them over. 19th level provides animate objects, AoE air walk and a costly wish. On a nitpicky side, while these modify the base spells and their effects, it's slightly odd that the airwalk-granting deed is SU, while the other two are SP - I assume this is due to the free action activation, but imho, the potential AoO would still be justified here. This is just personal preference and will not feature in the final verdict, though.


You probably have expected it, so I'll just come out and say it: Yes, the class has a crazy prepared ability, which would be deep pockets. This allows the quartermaster to carry 50 gp times class level unspecified equipment and the ability interacts properly with the other class abilities like makeshift item creation etc. The ability has a "reasonable carry"-caveat for unwieldy objects. Now here's the thing: Of all the numerous iterations of such an ability, this is only the second that managed to get the "no specific items"-caveat right; combined with the unwieldy-objects-caveat and a "separated from equipment"-caveat...


DRUMROLL


...this is, ladies and gentlemen, the VERY FIRST CRAZY PREPARED ABILITY I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUE WITH!! It happened. I can't believe it. So beautiful... _


Starting at 3rd level, the class may substitute Disable Device for Craft skills pertaining the use or repair of items (but not their creation!) and 4th level unlocks an interesting one: Weapon specific feats like Weapon Focus are applied to all weapons he is proficient with. 5th level allows the character to acquire gear beyond what would usually be available in a given setting and also nets evasion. At the same level, quartermasters may spend a full-round action to inspect the gear of a creature standing attention to convey his pack rat ability's benefits...and yes, this can be applied to vehicles. Pack rat? Yep, gained at 2nd level, medium load or encumbrance is treated as light instead, but sans affecting carrying capacity. (Note to self: My girlfriend has this ability - she is at least a 5th level quartermaster!)


At 5th level and every odd level thereafter, the quartermaster also gains one "uncommon" proficiency - firearms, exotic ranged weapons (should exclude firearms), shields, siege weapons...you get the idea. At 9th level, buying more than10 or more identical items, the class gets all at half price...but when he resells them, he'll get blacklisted...so no abuse here either. (And yes, this makes ammo dirt cheap...but at 9th level, we're beyond the levels where that matters too much even in most low magic groups.) Improved evasion is gained at 13th level and at 17th levle, when attacked by a trap, the class may Reflex save even against Will- or Fort-using traps


The class comes with a ton of favored class options that include uncommon races like kitsune and ratfolk as well as some Porphyra-races like the Xesa....and they tend to be interesting: 1/7th of a move action exclusively to manipulate objects can make a real difference in play and comes sufficiently high-priced to not upset lower level gameplay. Kudos for not phoning those in!


Next up would be the feat-section, which not only reprints Equipment Trick for your convenience - it also provides means to increase the range of quartermaster abilities or equipment tricks with range. And yes, the pdf explains that this is NOT telekinesis. Earlier deed access (with a trade in towards Signature Deed at 19th level) can be found herein and is one of the instances where I have to be an A-hole: This feat has the (Resources) subtype, but does not specifically note resources as a prerequisite, which can become problematic with other deed-using classes. And yes, I am aware of the intent here, but RAW, that's what's here. Extra resources, multiclass support and Improved Brace, which reach fighter builds will LOVE complement this section.


Of course, the quartermaster is about equipment...so what about armored boots in different qualities and oversized caltrops in different power-levels? Yes, you can have colossal 64 lbs. caltrops. Friggin' cool! Safety nets, mithral poles...pretty neat!


Oh, and then there would be a TON of equipment tricks - including ones for blankets, anvils, balloons, censers, furniture, scabbards, horns, maps, mirrors, prosthetics, soap water, sunrods...and I haven't even scratched the surface yet! We're not talking about one trick either, but about multiple per item type! The respective prerequisites make sense in their context and the pdf closes with a sample level 1 furnace elf quartermaster.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting adhere to the tighter examples; while there are some deviations from the default rules-language like "count" instead of "treat" in some cases, the language manages to actually cover the highly complex operations in a precise manner when it counts; all deviations I noticed were purely aesthetic in nature. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no artwork apart from the nifty cover. Yes, this means that this is a VERY long, very dense book for the low asking price. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, though they only point towards the chapter headers.


Carl Cramér's quartermaster was a class I had absolutely no desire to playtest. I'm not a fan of deeds being fixed and prefer player agenda/choice. I have not seen a single class or ability that managed to get the crazy prepared aspect 100% right and this class is built around just that. Urgh.


You know, sometimes I'm really glad I do this reviewing thing. I would have totally missed out on an awesome class. The bonus damage it can dish out makes the quartermaster relevant in combat, though the primary focus will be support; but unlike many a class, this one is not just about skills or a set array of parameters and stratagems. I remember some blurb talking about this being teh wizard of skill-classes and I'd actually disagree vehemently. While the quartermaster does share in common that his whole trick set-up and trap-making boils down to an option array not unlike spells, the class plays best in the hands of spontaneous and creative players - whether they be kids or adults, the class can deliver brutal slapstick that is mechanically relevant or be an awesome representation of the non-explosion-based sapper/trapper/handyman-trope.


Yes, the pdf has some minor rough edges like the feat, the weapon proficiency group hiccup and a couple of minor rules-language guffaws. Know what? Ignore them. The only reason I mentioned them in the first place is because I have to as a reviewer.


This class may not be perfect, but IT IS GLORIOUS.


No, really. It will take a bit to understand it. Playing it actually helps get a feeling for the action economy and the vast potential this has. Think of these guys as non-psionic cryptics with a mundane flavor that are efficient support-characters. I love this class. It may stumble in some minor cases, but instead, it gets the big things right; the highly complex rules-operations like the crazy prepared bit, the bonus damage bit, etc. All of this, however, does not really account for the best thing about this class: How it plays.


The quartermaster is, in short, ridiculously fun to play. Let me reiterate: Back in 3.X, when I ran "Night of the Living Dead" in my Ravenloft campaign, it was for 7th level PCs (as opposed to 1st level, for which the module was designed) and I rewrote...everything. I basically went full blown zombie apocalypse. My players had no ammo left; no charges. Melee weapons were breaking left and right (I'm a bastard)...so, at one point, they started looking through their backpacks and found soap, shovels and the like...and proceeded to get creative to...well. Not die. To this day, one of the stories that always comes up is the one, where the kensai threw a shovel and decapitated neatly a zombie with a crit, creating an avalanche on soapy terrain. This class is this scene, made into a class.


Unlike a wizard, who has a set paradigm of effects codified as spells, the quartermaster has items. Items we partially know in real life. As such, we have a stronger connection to them...and an easier time getting creative with them. In short: Much of the joy this class offers stems from the hard-coded rules for effective innovation this framework offers. Creativity has a higher role here than with most prepared casters...and it's what makes this class so fun. Don't get me wrong - the quartermaster is NOT a weak class; it does have mechanical oomph enough. But the most fun with it will be had by the die-hard roleplayers that really like coming up with uncommon solutions...and in such, this class, as strange as it may sound, actually feels like it brought a bit of that old-school feeling back, when PCs improvised with items much more because not everything was buried beneath a wall of feats/abilities.


This then, to me, would be the crowning achievement of the class beyond its precise take on complex concepts: It does account for and codify PFRPG's requirements regarding the precision of feats and ability-availability...but at the same time allows this jury-rigging improvisational element back into the game in an imho unprecedented capacity. I've been doing some serious OSR gaming these days...and this class brings some of the flair beyond the rules, some of its free-form spirit to PFRPG without being sloppy. I know that quite a few of you out there will love it for that.


In spite of its minor flaws, I've rarely had this much fun picking a class apart...and this is where my reviewer-job becomes a bit annoying. You see, formally, I probably should rate this 4.5 or 4 stars...but that would neither account for its achievements on a mechanical level, nor for those regarding sheer FUN. Those of you who want flawless mechanics in even the most miniscule part of the pdf or a flawless editing may consider this to be a 4 or 4.5 star file, depending on how you weigh it.


However, personally, I have always been true to rating according to my passions when they flare up this highly, something that happens all too rarely these days and much less so in a concept if seen so often...wait, correction: A concept I have seen botched so often. The quartermaster gets it right. It's a class that emphasizes ROLEplaying and clever players without dropping the ball regarding crunch and explaining it away.


It is a crazy prepared class that manages to get a huge array of things right. It is, more importantly, a fun, unique and rewarding class...and one I wouldn't want to miss in my games anymore. Were it not for the hiccups, this would be a candidate for my Top Ten-list. I can't do that, but as written, I'll still rate this 5 stars and add my seal of approval to it. Get this one - it's rewarding, unique and fun.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Quartermaster
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Kineticists of Porphyra II
by Vladimir C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/25/2016 05:40:55

Oh Captain Planet how I miss you... erhm, let's not deviate from the review.
N. Jolly does it again! Like the previous volume, KoP2 includes archetypes and elements, but in this book the author delivers higher concept game design with a clear influence by other media, like comics and anime.
We start right away with archetypes! The Divine Conduct is kind of a pally hybrid, getting some divine healing and anti-evil options. Then we have the anime-inspired Dragon Pact Kineticist, who gets its powers from, well, making a pact with a dragon (duh!). These guys get some exclusive options with a dragon theme, and their relationship with the dragon is a roleplaying goldmine. After that we have the Fusion Kineticist, a master of two elements while losing access to all others. Perfect if you want to start from level 1 with a character concept like this, or if you want to play something like Gill the boss from Street Fighter 3 (cheap bastard by the way). We follow by another hybridy archetype, the Hex Kineticist, who gets a familiar and some hexes. Of these options the only one I don’t really dig is the Hex, but that’s only a matter of personal taste.
My silly attempt a title with humor notwithstanding, N. Jolly present us with two new elements with Poison and HEART… well, it’s Viscera really BUT IN MY CAMPAAAAAIGN. Rambling aside, Toxikineticist’s Poison adds acid to the energy damage possibilities as well as controlling and debuffing abilities, while Corpokineticist’s Viscera looks like it came straight from a Mortal Kombat crossed with that guy from Naruto… bloody skulls, bone armors, eviscerations, you get the idea. These guys feel more like meleers than other types of kineticist.
After this we have plenty of infusion wild talents for the new elements and many are compatible with old ones as well, followed by a similar but way larger list of utility wild talents. Finally and like the first KoP, we find a couple of feats and magic items plus a drow dragon pact kineticist with poison and void as elements… what a girl!
If you liked the first KoP, you can’t really go wrong with this gem. Also, perfect if you want to give kineticists a darker bent, since both elements can be considered “evil”. I highly recommend this book even if you don’t have the 1st one. It is also a must if you plan a kineticist only or gestalt campaign. Kudos on the author and a well deserved 5 star rating!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kineticists of Porphyra II
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