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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Lantern Bearer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2015 04:16:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 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?



Lantern Bearers receive d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light and medium armor. At 1st level, the Lantern bearer receives favored enemy and adds another at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. They also begin the game with the track special quality and wild empathy. Now regarding the combat style and its progression, the Prestige Archetype does something rather well – it not only covers the base ranger styles, and instead also provide one for natural weapons, mounted combat, finesse, sword and board, etc. – nice! (Also: Concise in the feat-availability/feat-list expansion over the levels.)



At 4th level, hunter’s bond provides either the option to grant favored enemy bonuses to allies or an animal companion at char-level-3 and wis-based prepared spellcasting that is expanded by a bunch of spells that help ferret out the wicked (including e.g. invisibility purge) – and yes, third level nets endurance, for the few of you that are like me and actually care about this feat due to a lot of environmental threats. 7th level provides woodland stride and at 8th level, weapons wielded counts as cold iron and the level also nets fast tracking.



Mid levels net sense-enhancing bonus feats, quarry and well-defined immunity against the movement hampering effects of spells. Higher levels see swift action hide in plain sight for a limited amount of rounds per day, word of recall plus teleportation, better quarries, good-aligned weapons (very interesting for the non-good-aligned lantern bearers!). On the downside, 18th level sees holy aura, which should probably have corresponding effects for other alignments. The capstone allows for full speed tracking and insta-kill shots…and insta-non-lethal knockdown shots – cool!



We also receive solid FCOs and sample NPC builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks and comes sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Lantern Bearer is a return to form for the series – the Lantern Bearer boils down to a magical bounty hunter, a variant ranger that is pretty fun and bereft of the majority of druidy flavor, rendering this a great choice for city watches and similar hunters of the most dangerous prey. This WPA is very much a humble, concise and well-working take on the concept. It does not reinvent the wheel – but it doesn’t have to. While I am not 100% happy with the holy aura-ability, that constitutes the only true complaint I can field against this pdf. I will use these guys. My only gripe, apart from that, remains the missed opportunity of actually providing a signature lantern as magic item or directly lantern-related abilities. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Lantern Bearer
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FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2015 06:00:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Not only for this module, but also for its direct predecessor, the ennie-nominated, superb Prince Charming, Reanimator. Potential players of either one should definitely jump to the conclusion. Really. You don't want this spoiled.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! So, after being press-ganged into an adventuring-life by a non-too-friendly Prince Charming, the PCs were witness to the psycho reanimating a girl, only to have his still living head being removed by said undead bride, who subsequently escaped into the dreaded Grimmswood. Unfortunately for the PCs, the baron is no less charming than his heir apparent - the solution to his dilemma is obvious - those pesky commoners better get moving and bring back some stability to the dread wood. Being not as totally an utter prick as his eccentric son, though, the baron does promise a chest of gold as well as the hand of his daughter in marriage. Things become more complicated even - the PC's bumbling interference has ended the faerie curse on the "ghost" of Doctor Chapman - who in fact in direct conflict with the Desert Faerie. This shadow war behind the scenes is further complicated by the interference of the Yellow Dwarf - who are what do these entities want? Only time (and more modules in this series) will tell!



Doctor Chapman manifests himself in the dreams of one PC, providing further assistance - he assures them that prince Hubert Charming's now-undead brides still roam the forest and that they have been entwined with a dread faerie's curse -all have to be defeated/saved - so it's up to the PCs to venture into the hex-mapped, color-mapped Grimmswood to track down Cinder Ella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, preferably while not falling to their brides and grooms. Each of these minions have specific, unique abilities reflecting the theme of the respective original faerie tales through a mirror exceedingly and joyfully darkly.



Now the exploration of the Grimmswood is interesting in that haunting rhymes may provide much needed warnings for PCs - the detailed random encounters include stalking/animated apple trees, the Big Bad Wolf (including windstorm-strength breath), cowardly lions, talking owls, jabberwocks, strangling vines - the table alone is more inspired than a few comparable whole modules I've read! Elven players can receive their due mithral equipment in an organic, cool way on the sacred anvil of the forest. A goblin knight seeking a duel has increased prowess the more PCs enter the fray, rewarding honorable conduct in a rather interested scaling mechanism. The PCs may also find a severed head and incur either his wrath or boon while resting in a dilapidated ruin of an inn. Let's hope the head is treated kindly, for he has an interesting clue to offer to the PCs (and his curse is dire!).



In Cinder Ella's cottage, her wicked stepsisters, terribly executed back in the day, still roam the place, their wounds seeping still after all those years. Her mother is no-where to be found, but a blackened skeleton that may bless them, the fire-infused undead and the grimorie of the curiously absent wicked stepmother, made from the skin of infants, speak a rather obvious language - poor Cinder Ella did not have a jolly good time...even though the PCs still have to defeat the now undead bride - hopefully without her fire-control and own volatile nature setting the whole house ablaze!



A cenotaph devoted to forces both disgusting and malignant is hiding within the forest as well. Christina Rosetti's poem (reproduced here), "The Goblin Market" also serves as a complex and iconic encounter - including the options to learn new spells by having body parts grafted to you, paying with reflections and dreams...and the option to be, alas, deceived. Wax servants, goblins whispering in your ear, vials from the fountain of youth, wondrous companions, eyes in jars - delightful and breathing what fey ought to be all about - this section alone would make for a superb source-book and a massive table makes running the place even easier/more versatile. Snow White is awaiting teh PCs in the confines of the mine of her erstwhile allies - and the vampiric, cold-themed bride and her hobyah-servants make for deadly adversaries. Oh well, if push comes to shove and the PCs have kept their eyes peeled, the reanimator serum they may have found could well save them...or inadvertently create an undead horror...but hey, no risk, no gain, right? Right?



After defeating the second of these brides, the good doctor will urge the PCs onwards to Sleeping beauty, the final challenge that awaits. But she may very well know all - for there is a hidden war going on between the talking owls and talking crows of the forest and one side is spying for the beauty... That being said, the PCs may still run afoul of the psychotic tin man-analogue, an unpleasant artifact marked by X (NOTHING good's ever marked by Xs...) or the dread undead guardian of the crossroads before they find the caverns that hide both Sleeping beauty and what remains of prince Hubert - i.e. his reanimated head...and an array of severed, spellcasting hands. Ending his undying existence in the otherwise gorgeous caverns (including crystalline flowers...), the PCs now "only" have to tackle Sleeping Beauty. Alas, she has grafted her parent's heads and limbs to her bodyy, rendering her a deadly shredder of just about anyone, provided the PCs were not smart enough to deal with the other two brides before that...



Doctor Chapman as a patron is covered and so is Hizzgard, a dread demonic patron for all things creeping and crawling - who also comes with options to revive the dead via worms and an alchemy of essential salts. Finally, an appendix for quick and easy faerie animal generation is provided.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with cool pieces of original b7w-art. Additionally, full color cartography, also provided as DM and player-version high-res jpgs help running this module. The pdf, alas, has no bookmarks, but I'd suggest to print this out anyways - it belongs to the shelf containing the good modules.



Okay, I'll say it outright - at this point, Daniel J. Bishop is pretty much one of the few adventure-writers I'd buy blind. I adore his absolutely, mind-bogglingly compelling prose, the depths of his imagination and the sheer wonder each and every supplement of his exudes. The first FT-series module was great - this is one step beyond. Fairy Tales, reimagined through a glass most darkly, but at the same time, suffused with an underlying sense of wonder and yes, humor even, this module is quite frankly absolutely superb in every way. How good is this? Well, you know how many good modules for PFRPG exist? I have more of them than I can ever conceivably play, but still - I sit down for these modules and convert them. And I never, ever regret the work. Now don't get me wrong, I did play this one with its intended DCC-rules, but the thing is - no matter what your system of choice is, this module is worth every single second spend converting it. Whether 0e, 13th Age, D&D 4th or 5th edition - believe me when I'm saying that you NEED this beast, that you want to invest the time to play this in your system of choice. Its ideas, its glorious creativity both are that pronounced. This is one of the most compelling, dark faerie tales I've ever read, no matter the medium. Quite a lot of novels and short stories in the faery tale/mythpunk/whatever genres can't stand up to the level of imagination herein. I guarantee that, with a modicum of system-savvy knowledge of DCC, even as only an idea-mine, this still is worth its price ten-fold. Get this masterpiece!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 1 - Creeping Beauties of the Wood
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Holy Vindicator
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/01/2015 05:33:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 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?



So, this time around, we take a look at the base-class-version of the Holy Vindicator. This guy receives d12, full BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, 2+Int skills per level, full armor and weapon proficiency (except tower shields) and has an aura akin to a cleric. They receive limited, prepared divine spells drawn from the cleric's spell-list of up to 4th level. These spells can be spontaneously converted into healing spells. Rather uncommon, the spells are governed by Cha, not Wis. At first level, the holy vindicator receives channel energy, which improves by 1 die every odd level thereafter. This also is governed by Cha, but the holy vindicator also receives channel smite as a 1st level bonus feat. It should be noted that healing spells employed by 6th level or higher vindicators are automatically empowered, but conversely, mass cures do not apply to other creatures when including the vindicator. At 16th level, the spells are maximized instead. Oddly, both have no proper inverse benefit for inflict/negative energy-using evil, unholy vindicators, though other abilities take the like into account.



Vindicator's shield is gained at 2nd level and unfortunately retains the wonky wording of the PrC's ability - why not simply state in unambiguous terms that the bonus is lost upon being subject to a successful attack? This would have gotten rid of the horrible mess of the original ability,



At 4th level, the vindicator receives stigmata, with action economy-scaling every 4 levels thereafter - start and end are first handled as a standard action, later as a free action at 16th level. For 1/4 class level bleed, the vindicator receives the same as a numerical bonus to either attack rolls, weapon damage, AC, CL or saving throws. The ability is actually more solid in its wording than the original PrC's. Well done!



At 6th level, the class receives an ability that is too strong for the level - it allows a vindicator to heal or harm the living or undead, regardless of whether she channels positive or negative energy. Do you know how hard clerics usually have to struggle to get this level of flexibility? Yeah. Ouch. The 18th level ability does show that there's something odd here: " At 18th level, when the holy vindicator channels energy, she can choose to heal or harm all types of creatures, regardless of what type of energy she channels. This is in addition to her previous options." Does that mean choosing for each creature separately? the ability doesn't say and if not, it does nothing the 6th level ability doesn't already do. A rephrase would be in order here. Versatile channel is btw. gained at 12th level.



Conversely, adding immediate action doom to criticals/as retribution for crits feels comparatively tame, as does the 14th level death knell and the capstone bestow curse. Here, we once again have the alignment-issue in my book - these spell-like hi/retribution tricks feel pretty much nasty to me, so a more good-feeling option would have been appreciated. Adding bonus damage, sickened and bleed to channel smites while bleeding from the stigmata is damn cool, as is adding said power to their channels.



The class comes with FCOs for the core-races and the Polkan-race as well as with the traditional level 1, 5, 10 and 15-sample NPC-builds, once again with a solid narrative backing them up. The sample NPCs use d10 instead of d12 as HD, though. The math of upgrading the HP properly isn’t hard, but still, a minor glitch.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no bad glitches apart from the HD-guffaw. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Holy Vindicator is surprisingly good - really, I enjoyed this take on what amounts to an alternate paladin-ish class with a tighter focus on channel energy. The stigmata are cool and the tie-in with the blood-themed abilities has been well-conserved. That being said, I would have loved for a tighter ability-integration/more stigmata-synergy. The full channel progression and high HD feel like a bit much, though not to the point where it would be unbalancing. I would have wished for tighter wording regarding the good/evil-dichotomy and a more varied array of options here - some way to render the rather unfocused PrC more organic. This is by no means a bad installment of the series, but it is also one that could have easily went for the full 5 stars + seal, were it just a tad more brave in its modifications of the base-PrC. As provided, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Holy Vindicator
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Stock Art: Shade Cleric
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:52:25
A solid piece of artwork. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Shade Cleric
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Stock Art: Human Mystic
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:50:18
A great piece of artwork. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Human Mystic
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Stock Art: Gnoll Guardian of the Dead
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:49:01
A great piece of artwork. Evocative and excellent for any Egyptian themed publications. I've used it in my own products.

License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Gnoll Guardian of the Dead
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Stock Art: Dark Creeper
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:47:32
I used this piece of artwork in my own publication, but it is not one of my favorites.

License is quality. Recommended.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Dark Creeper
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Stock Art: Cinder Ghoul
by Dale M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/25/2015 10:46:38
A good piece of artwork. I've used it in my own products. License is quality. Highly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Cinder Ghoul
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Frenzied Liberator
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/14/2015 09:26:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 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?



So, if the title wasn't ample clue, the frenzied liberator would be a combo of the barbarian and the liberator PrC. As such, the class receives full BAB-progression, d12, good fort-saves, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields.



At first level, the class receives fast movement and rage (the latter scaling up to greater, tireless mighty rage at 11th, 17th and 20th level, respectively) and 2nd level delivers uncanny dodge, 5th improved uncanny dodge.3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the class receives Trap Sense (getting progressively better, of course.) Starting at 4th level, these bonuses are also applied to saves vs. poisons, tying both abilities together in a neat way - like it more than the base PrC's solution of fixed numbers. At 6th level, this PA's version of lockbreaker instead applies the trap sense bonus on Str-checks to break down thing, on attacks versus objects and on Escape Artist-checks to escape bonds etc. - once again, a much smoother solution than the PrC (and thankfully, more efficient).

Speaking of "like it more" - at 2nd level, the class receives "To the Rescue" - when raging, all allies within 30 ft. receive a +4 morale bonus on Escape Artist-checks and to saves versus fear effects - much cooler and more organic than the PrC's clunky version of said ability. At 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the frenzied liberator receives DR, at 8th level a bonus feat...and at 10th level, the silent sunder ability - make no more noise while breaking chains, whether by sundering or strength-checks. Two thumbs up!



At 12th level, these guys may ignore *A LOT* of hardness and 14th level frenzied liberators receive +4 to will-saves to resist enchantment spells. Steely Resolve's wording is actually more precise than in the PrC. At 16th level, darkvision-extension may be a bit late to the party, but the 18th level ability to break objects as swift actions ROCKS. Picture me going full blown Arnie: "AI VIL BREIK EFRYZING YOU OUWN!" Like it! As a capstone, casting freedom of movement 1/day at full CL may not be too impressive - but being subject to it without it being dispellable/there being any option to counter it - permanently...well, that's nice!



The pdf sports FCOs for the core races as well as for the avoodim, though here, a couple of glitches have crept in - the FCO for half-elves speak of low-light conditions when the usual terminology refers to "dim light" etc. and the ones for elves lacks the "ft." behind the one - yeah, nitpicks and in both cases, you know what was meant, but still. Also: While humans can reduce fatigue after rage, that becomes useless with tireless rage. Here, a high-level alternative/trade-in would have been nice.



The pdf closes with the traditional NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level, but this time around, we also receive a nice, aptly-written background-story for the NPC - nice, as it renders teh character more than numbers!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches beyond the level of the FCO-nitpicks. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



I expected to not like this pdf. I absolutely LOATHE the Liberator-PrC. I think it's a classic example of boring, bad design that tarnishes a cool idea. The concept is great, the PrC...not so much. Enter Carl Cramér's take on the trope and know what - seeing how much I dislike the framework, I have to admit to liking what he has done with the less than stellar pieces he worked with. The tying of abilities together renders the class smoother in execution and the unique, new abilities can be considered pretty much fun enablers that render the base concept underlying the assumptions of the PrC more valid. The Frenzied Liberator resounds with the trope of the freedom-loving barbarian and should be considered superior in style and execution when compared to the sum of the parts used to build it. That being said, I would have loved stealth-enhancing, perhaps scaling methods of silent liberation sooner. Still, as written a solid installment in the series and well worth a recommendation as a good 4 star-file.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Frenzied Liberator
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Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Celestial Knight
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/13/2015 06:29:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 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?



The Celestial Knight is based on the PrC of the same name with parent classes cavalier and ranger. The class receives full BAB-progression, good fort-saves , d10, 4+Int skills per level and the class must be within one step of the patron deity. The Celestial Knight receives full armor and weapon proficiency (light, medium, heavy armor + shields and simple and martial weapons). 1st level celestial knights receive favored enemy as well as tactician. 2nd level celestial knights may choose from a list of defensively-themed bonus feats and learn an additional feat every 4 levels thereafter. 2nd level celestial knights may also add half their favored enemy bonus to saves versus spells and effects of the favored enemy. 3rd level celestial knights receive +1/3 class level as bonus to AC and CMD versus undead and at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, we're in for a bonus teamwork-feat. At 7th level, these guys treat AoOs versus undead and against spellcasters when casting necromancy/evil-spells not as counting against the limit per round. Powerful, but specific enough.



9th level celestial knights becomes even more adept at thwarting necromancy/death-spells andundead spellcasters expecially will be afraid of these guys - against them, the knights receive Disruptive and Spellbreaker. Yeah. Ouch. AT 13th level, these guys may dispel aforementioned spell effects as part of their melee attacks, with a caster level equal to total character level - interesting choice not to go for class level here, but in this case, I'm okay with it. 17th level celestial knights may force concentration rerolls and as a capstone, they may 1/day as a swift action for 1 minute go into super-form, receiving a blinding shield, a cloak of resistance+5 (in addition to other properties!) and turning the sword wielded as if subject to the holy sword spell. Interesting super-form capstone.



Alternate celestial knights may instead focus on aberrations, fey, outsiders etc., coming with their own associated spell schools. The pdf comes with solid FCOs for the core-races and the dhosari and we end the pdf with a sample NPC build for levels 1, 5, 10 and 15



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Celestial Knight doesn't have an easy heritage - I don't particularly like anti-x-classes when they're too geared towards stamping out a specific type of foe. That being said, mechanically, the celestial knight prestige archetype does a pretty good job at representing the hunter of necromancers/undead casters and tackling a lich or the like with one of these guys will be at least slightly less frightening. The defensive focus and teamwork/spell-sabotage combination of options renders the celestial knight a pretty solid anti-caster class, though definitely one that would have benefited from either a way to improve saves or for quicker movement - after all, what use is an anti-caster brute that can't catch up to the caster? Now I am aware that this would have went beyond the design-intent of this installment, but I still feel it would have benefited the class. As written, this is a solid entry in the series and well worth a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the solid craftsmanship and the relatively good conversion of an utterly bland base PrC. Kudos!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Celestial Knight
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Cavaliers of Porphyra [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2015 04:45:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games' class-expansions tied into the Porphyra-setting clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Unlike quite a few cavalier orders presented in different supplements, the ones herein tend to sport quite compelling bits of fluff, but does the crunch stand up to this? Well, the first order would be the order of Murasakishi (aka Order of the Purple Stone) reduces the DR of targets they challenge by 1, +1 for every 4 levels. At 8th level, the class learns to expend either a challenge or use of resolve to roll all damage dice THRICE once during the minute following the expenditure of the resource. The choice can be made after the initial roll, while the level 15 ability nets you weapons that always count as porphyrite and count as in the most favorable condition when subject to e.g. the effects of water mastery and similar elemental mastery tricks. Okay, ONE glance should show you two things - a) this is intended for samurai as well as cavaliers. b) The order obviously has NO IDEA how the samurai works. The triple-damage trick is VERY powerful and paying for it with your challenge, arguably the most powerful resource of the cavalier, feels okay...but then the resolve-caveat hits. This nets the samurai +1/day use + 1 for every two levels, vastly expanding the amount of times per day the ability can be used. And yes, in my book, that is a significant issue. Beyond these, the wording of the abilities could have used tighter editorial control - while still working, they feel significantly less streamlined than they ought to.



The order of regret (tied in with the avoodim-race), can extend the shared agony racial ability on targets without expending the daily uses - and know what? I like that idea! Sharing despair, additional AoOs of vengeance and the high-level ability to use AoOs to execute 1 attack per one that missed in the former round. Know what? Both the wording is more concise and I do like the mechanics here. Powerful, but interesting. The order of the mind for the naturally psionic qi'tar receive temporary power points upon issuing challenges and receive a limited array of psychic warrior powers. Oddly, the information on manifester level and power pool-size is in the skill-section, where is does NOT belong. Annoying/sloppy - the class invents its own ability-class: (Psi). This does not exist and should be Su, Ex, etc. - or better yet, adhere to Ultimate Psionic's (Ps)-default.



The order of the blood for the Dragonblooded - whenever these guys issue a challenge, they receive a "resist score" against the damage of a type of breath weapon the characters possesses. Alternatively, the cavalier receives a save-bonus. These guys receive racial bonus feats and are adept dragon hunters. The order of the crimson lance receives better defense while mounted in challenges. Interesting, but wonky in wording - the cavalier receives endure elements, but only until the cavalier takes damage equal to or above 1/2 cavalier class level. If it collapses, the ability resets after 12 hours. The ability is interesting, but the wording is pretty wobbly. High-level abilities include troop-inspiration and DR.



There is also a fully-depicted quadruped radish-like polar, intelligent PLANT as a new type of mount - and they are odd and glorious. Kudos! Plant companions and full advancement stats are provided - before we're introduced to Cavalier "Disorders." Disorders are a variant of orders, with an emphasis of more choice - said choice, though is paid for by lost access to the tactician abilities. At 1st level, these guys universally receive 1/day reroll, +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. The ability can also stand in for the tactician tree for the purpose of archetypal replacement...interesting! Three sample disorders are provided: Infinite, Perfect and Hoof. The infinite disorder contains even more rerolls or access to hero points etc. - and even a rod of wonder-like burst. The Erkunae Disorder of the Perfect, generally receives thematically fitting abilities for the fluff of the...but the wording. Urgh. At 15th level, the class is forced to expend all skills into an odd Profession skill to receive a cloud dragon mount - sans stats/mount-progression stats or proper ability interaction. The order of the hoof receives stampede, which, alas, is mostly useless for single medium creatures - especially since the cavalier, NOT his mount receives the ability. Later, summon abilities that can conjure forth the necessary creatures might help.



We also receive 4 feats - one to wear horseshoes (all but required for aforementioned order, since it gets rid of the rider/mount-distinction), aid as an SP, getting rid of mount-death-downtime - okay, I guess. level 1 construct mounts, on the other hand - ouch and too strong in comparison. 4 new magic items, including horseshoes, increased leadership scores via helmets and a cursed banner - all pretty interesting. A type of surcoat that nets you the challenge of an order mmight be considered problematic for some.



We also receive a sample level 1 character with a construct mount.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are not bad. On a rules-level...well. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column standard with a nice full-color piece I did expect to find herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr, why do you do this to me? I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that I adore Perry's ideas - he is a talented designer with an obviously brimming imagination. He also has a gift for iconic imagery and often, great ideas. I love the choice the disorders provide...but there's no way past it - the crunch herein is almost universally non-standard in wording, rendering a lot of the abilities slightly more opaque than they ought to be. Now yes, the matter of fact remains that most still remain operable. They do deviate in various ways from how such abilities are expressed in other supplements, generating more ambiguities than necessary. While some abilities specify the caster level of SPs, others don't - I could go on. I'd love to call it by any other name, but the pdf, at times, feels sloppy regarding the rules.

Which is all the more galling in the very presence of the cool concepts herein. With a good development, a concise streamlining of the rules-language and a fix of the couple of balance-concerns herein, this pdf could have scored 5 stars + seal of approval. Some abilities *do* show that the author CAN deliver concise crunch sans hiccups. Alas and alack, as much as I enjoy the ideas herein, the flaws still remain pronounced and at times, annoying. Hence, I will settle on a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounding up to 3 because I can't bring myself to rate this down - its ideas are too good and if you're willing to fix the wording yourself and do some balance-streamlining, GET THIS - for moderately competent DMs willing to spend some time on ironing out the rough spots, this can be a glorious supplement. I do hope, though, that Perry Fehr manages to keep the concise crunch up in future releases, without the lapses that haunt this pdf. I know he can do it. He has done so in the past. His imaginative concepts and imagination definitely deserve the care...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cavaliers of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Purple Duck Storeroom: The Legend of the Melusine Wife
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2015 04:38:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of PDG's low-cost oddball series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 3/4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 1/4 pages of content...so, what is this about?



Well, first of all, this is a legend - and a race. the melusine take the traditional take on the aquatic lady and her jealous suitors and translates it to a race, divided along the gender line by an extreme sexual and ethical dimorphism. Whereas female melusines are good fey (CR 5) - they can change from mermaid-like mode of propulsion to legs and back and they are nigh impossible to scry. At the same time, they are susceptible to being watched while they change - being caught in the act can stun them for MINUTES. Yeah, ouch. at the same time, though, they can grant various modes of propulsion and monster abilities to others via a touch, a transformation that can theoretically also be used offensively.



On the flip-side, the males of the species, the CR 6 nicors, have a foul temper indeed and may plant suggestions with a mere glance, but only when meeting the gaze through water. Unlike their brides, these guys also have a unique weakness to mirrors - and no ability to change into a less conspicuous form. Now here's the cincher - female melusines mating with males of their species always produce males, while liaisons with humans, elves etc. result in female offspring. This renders inter-species relationships a necessity for the continuation of the species, but seeing the nasty temperament of the males, one that is risky indeed for the father-to-be.



The pdf also provides two (3, really) magical items. The first would be rings of the melusine, which help when stretching the truth/lying, while also providing a reroll versus enchantment for female rings, 1/week nondetection for the male ring. The second item nets a bonus to Perception and AC while underwater or flying and 1/day alarm.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to the one-column digest-style standard of the series and the pdf does sport a beautiful full-page full-color artwork - nice! Speaking of which - the pdf also features full bookmarks, in spite of its brevity. Kudos for going the extra mile!



Perry Fehr's Melusine take the iconic dimorphism and cultural trope of the mermaids and translated it more than well into PFRPG-rules - the unique weaknesses and signature abilities breathe the spirit of fairy-tales of odd fey-rules, of unearthly accords. In one sentence - this is a truly inspired little mini-bestiary. The basic racial constellation is narrative gold and is suffused with potential galore. All in all, a great little file for a more than fair price - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: The Legend of the Melusine Wife
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Purple Mountain VII: Domain of the Hidden God
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/06/2015 06:14:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 7th installment of Purple Duck Games series of glorious Purple Mountain modules clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page RSD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look and check out whether the series can retain its track-record!



What is Purple Mountain, you ask? It's one of the most underrated adventure-series currently available for pathfinder. A series of classic dungeon-modules, they are innovative, with each level sporting a unique concept and tight atmosphere. They also can be run as stand-alone modules and easily be inserted as dungeons of their own or as side-levels in other mega-dungeons. They also have consistently, for the last 5 issues, scored superb ratings from yours truly, so let's take a look! This installment of the series is intended for 6th level characters.



But before we do...the following is an adventure module and as such, it contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? There once was a CALL and a BEING followed it - it became something, a very incarnation of titanic artifice...and it plunged towards the patchwork world of Porphyra, heeding the calling. It allied with the elemental beings and was struck down by gods surpassing the power of the god being, smashed down and bereft of its servants and portfolio, it slumbers.



Enter the PCs. No, literally. This dungeon-level feels weird - gravity-reversals, strange pipes, daemons and clockwork adversaries - something odd is going on and as the PCs research the strange place, the realization might dawn on them - they are threading through the very body of the forgotten deity! Piecing the clues together is not necessarily a simple thing, with a sudden influx of madness accompanying the first utterance of the name of the fallen giant - alongside a limited wish.



The challenges awaiting include a trap of eternal glyphs that force the targets to develop a deadly obsession with them and suspiradaemons (rendered in GORGEOUS full-color art that cover one page) are deadly new adversaries. Have I mentioned the crystal dragon that serves as a dormant heart of the colossus, odd, drifting globes, different read-aloud texts for different vision-types for certain areas... yes, this is a massively cool dungeon.



Oh, and it comes with the very real possibility that the PCs awaken the nascent godling. While still inside him. Let's just say that the PCs probably don't want that, but honestly, this makes for a glorious campaign-changer, should you choose to pursue this storyline. Alternatively, simply ignoring the possibility of awakening eliminates all issues for the DM and further quarantine and preventing the awakening of the godling can spawn countless adventures.



The pdf comes with extensive statblocks for all creatures, including quite a few pretty awesome new ones, new magic items and spells, a full portfolio of the god, information on conducting soul trades, two religion-traits and massive tables that list XP and treasure by rooms, rendering that component of the module very easy to run.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed quite a few typo-level glitches and similar small nuisances. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly two-column standard and the artworks deserve special mention - from gorgeous full page artworks to smaller ones, the full color art is truly beautiful. Cartography is functional and nice and comes with a player-friendly version of the map (yep - no secret doors - two thumbs up!) to cut out and hand out to the players.



Perry Fehr knows his adventures. This module had me grin from ear to ear. There is not a single boring encounter to be found in this dungeon and actually running the module turned out to be even cooler than anticipated - the challenges of the rooms in combination with the odd nature of the dungeon, the research etc. PLUS the challenging adversaries culminate in a module that perfectly breathes the spirit of old-school awesomeness and hearkens back to a time, where the truly wondrous could be found in the caverns and complexes below the world. Add to that the optional, massive ramifications of this module, which could be used to introduce technology, clockwork/dark tapestry-related material or e.g. ethermagic and similar uncommon magic organically into a given world, and we have a module that offers vast possibilities, but does not enforce them, thus allowing for maximum DM-control.



Now I won't lie - editing is simply not up to perfection. There are quite a few glitches. There are instances of e.g. the text mentioning "missile attacks" when it ought to reference "ranged attacks" in general. There are problems like that in here that would have benefited from a further clean-up and were this a crunch-book, I'd complain much, much louder about these issues. It's not. It's a module. What I expect from a module are great stories, intriguing dungeons, cool monsters, deadly challenges, a concise atmosphere, etc. And in that regard, this pdf more than delivers.



What we have here is fun, uncommon, glorious and more daring in scope than MANY modules out there. While I can't rate this a full five stars, I can rate it 4.5 stars, round it up and still slap my seal of approval on it. Why? Because I *loved* this module and its flair, because I will always value courage and innovation over blandness and mechanical perfection.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain VII: Domain of the Hidden God
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Prestige Archetype: Blood Mystic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/30/2015 19:07:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Blood Mystic base class receives d6 HD, 2+Int skills per level, good will-saves, proficiency with club, dagger, heavy + light crossbow and quarterstaff as well as light armor - the latter does make the Blood Mystic incur arcane spell failure when donned, though - ALL with somatic components, not jsut the arcane ones.



Yeah, you probably guessed it - the blood mystic is the sorceror/oracle theurge class to the mystic theurge's wizard/cleric. Blood Mystic spellcasting is governed by cha exclusively and is spontaneous; cure/inflict spells are added to the list. Akin to the mystic theurge, the class utilizes one array of spells instead of two different lists, choosing freely from the cle/oracle and sorc/wiz list and whether to learn spells that exist as either version as divine or arcane. At 1st level, an oracle mystery is picked, with one revelation and mystery spell progression at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, and yes, also a curse.



However, the bloodline abilities are less pronounced than those of sorcerors - they only receive the 1st level power, class skill, bloodline spells and bloodline arcana. It should also be noted that spell synthesis is this class' capstone - no apotheosis, no final revelation - that's the price to pay for the full spellcasting progression.



The pdf comes with solid FCOs for the core-races and sample characters at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér's Blood Mystic is the better balanced Mystic Theurge - without minor balancing hiccups, the class provides spellcasting flexibility at the cost of a whole array of unique abilities that define sorcerors and oracles; Now you might argue that the flexibility is worth it and you may be right, but then again, revelations and bloodline powers tend to be the "how cool is that"-moments of the classes. With spell synthesis down to capstone status, I can't find it in me to complain about this - while I'm not a huge fan of the theurge-concept, I can't find a fault with this one. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars -respect and reverence!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: Blood Mystic
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Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/21/2015 03:17:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 8 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The arcane trickster in its base class guise receives d8, 4+Int skills per level (OUCH), proficiency with simple weapons + hand crossbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword, but not with any armor (which interferes with casting) as well as prepared spellcasting from the wiz/sorc-list of up to 6th level.The class has 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Spellcasting begins at first level with only 3 cantrips + 1 1st level spell and both scribe scroll and trapfinding are relegated to 2nd level. The signature ranged legerdemain is granted at 1st level, though - thankfully!



At 3rd level, evasion and sneak attack are gained, with the latter scaling up by +1d6 every 2 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +9d6. At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the arcane trickster receives a rogue talent, with a list of thematically appropriate talents being provided - this list also constituting a potential way for DMs to balance the class versus the base rogue - just limit the class to the talents provided. Now what's pretty odd - arcane bond is gained at 6th level - which isn't weird balance-wise, but the additional imposed requirement to make concentration-checks to cast sans the object makes no sense in this case as opposed to regular casters gaining it at 1st level - so far the arcane trickster could cast without it, so where's the dependency coming from? See, that's one issue with re-appropriating such components and one that imho should be addressed.



Tricky Spells (free silent and still spell) is learned at 6th level 1/day, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Impromptu Sneak Attack is gained at 10th level, 2/day at 14th level. On a nitpicky side, the ability works with ranged attacks and thus circumvents the usual range-restriction for sneak attack.



At 14th level, surprise spells are gained, with sneak attack of the spell's damage type being added - the original's potential ambiguity regarding the use of magic missile etc. unfortunately remaining. To spare you the research - it's only added to one target of AoE-spells, one magic missile, etc. - no spamming of sneak attack. And then there's the potential confusing with spells that can have a crit modifier greater than x2 - while there aren't many, they exist - so sneak attack bonus damage x2 or x3?



At 16th level, advanced talents enter the fray - now so far, I've kept quiet about talents and they do represent an interesting selection from both Paizo-core and 3pps, including the advanced talent option to temporarily render a sneaked target incapable of executing AoOs. Per se, a cool array, including less costs for trapsmithing hide in plain sight and dispelling attacks. At 18th level, the arcane trickster can become greater invisible as a free action as a spell-like ability for class level rounds/day.



The pdf comes with FCOs for the core races and a sample NPC-build at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's arcane trickster can be considered one of those prestige archetypes that immensely benefit from being changed to 20-level-classes - let's face it, making the arcane trickster a PrC was always a sucky move, forcing the player to play two totally disparate classes before finally getting to do what s/he wanted in the first place. So yeah, I *really* want to love this prestige archetype - it's generally pretty well-crafted, but it does have some rough edges - like the lack of a capstone. The weird arcane object-design choice or the impromptu sneak attack-range glitch, the lack of streamlined wording for surprise spells...all of these conspire to drag down what generally is a great class - and usually, I'd go 3 stars. BUT, this is the arcane trickster I always wanted - pretty strong and capable, perhaps too much so in certain campaigns. I'd certainly advise DMs allowing this one to restrict its talent-selection vs. rogues in order to maintain some reason for the latter to exist. That being said, I do consider this a pretty good, if not perfect take on the arcane trickster, well worth a final rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Arcane Trickster
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