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Heroes of the Seven Principalities
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 04/09/2018 01:09:18

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive installment of the neat Porphyran Player’s Guides clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 69 (!!) pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first of all, we begin with a well-written little piece of prose that introduces us to the Seven Principalities and life there – these 7 islands (+one below the waves) are a pretty unique environment and the roles assumed by the races within the respective contexts are explained in each of the racial write-ups, which also make up the first chapter of the book.

We begin with the Erkunae, traditionally one of my favorite Porphyran races. These near-humans are treated as humans for the purpose of abilities and the like and gain +2 Strength and Intelligence, -2 Constitution. They gain +1 to Bluff, Sense Motive and Knowledge (nobility) as well as Knowledge (engineering) and (dungeoneering) as well as to Stealth while inside a building or construction of some sort. Additionally, they gain +1 to atk when facing down a single opponent, who must be armed with a weapon – so no bonuses versus monks and similar martial artists! This is interesting to me, but as a minor complaint, the bonuses have not been properly codified as racial. The erkunae are distinguished by their pacts with elder powers, 6 of which are provided to choose from. These duplicate a limited form of summon monster as a SP (not italicized properly) and allow for the calling of elementals, skeletons as well as calling forth a familiar or animal companion – to nitpick here, the ability should specify that the called creature uses character level to determine the potency of the respective companion. Also, the called companion/familiar should specify that it can’t be stacked on top of an already existing companion. So yeah, these two need a bit of clarification. The other pacts include getting a masterwork brineblade or using guidance via conch shells. I liked the latter 2, but they make it quite evident that the companion/familiar summon should be nerfed. Erkunae are obsessed with blades and inflict -1 damage with piercing and bludgeoning weapons, but get proficiency with all slashing weapons – I assume this includes weapons capable of dealing more than one damage type. There are three race traits (erroneously called “Racial traits”, which can be confusing at first – that’s something else! Annoyingly, this guffaw extends to the other races as well.) that are interesting – for example, there is one that nets a 1 in 6 chance of having the first two rounds of rage or bloodrage a day as free! Cool! That being said, the traits don’t use the proper bonus type.

Humans in the 7 principalities get 6 additional choices to choose from, each one representing a different focus – here, bonus types are tight and I found no issues. Kudos! The three race traits provided are solid, though we once more lack the proper bonus type. Now the next race is interesting: We are introduced to the Kanseeran, the crabfolk! Yes, crabfolk! They are medium creatures with a slow speed and a swim speed of 20 ft., are amphibious and get +2 Str, +4 Con, -2 Cha and Int. This makes them lopsidedly geared towards martial pursuits and the high Constitution score bonus makes them a bit more min-maxy in that regard than what I personally enjoy. They are amphibious and get a +2 natural AC. They have darkvision and the dwarf subtype and get two pincer claws that inflict 1d4 damage that is treated as all three physical damage types. These claws net them a +4 racial bonus versus disarm attempts when wielding two-handed weapons, but also prevent them from using light or one-handed melee weapons. The claws are not codified as primary or secondary natural weapons and its somewhat hard to default here, considering that they share characteristics with bites. Anyway, they get a +2 dodge bonus versus sahratan natural attacks and +4 racial bonus to saves versus their lure ability. They also get +2 to Appraise and Profession, which is oddly not typed, but oh well. They can charge sideways, providing a +1 racial bonus to atk and damage when charging. The traits are nice, but lack the type once more. As an aside: The race gets one frickin’ AMAZING full-color artwork!

The lizardfolk of the principalities get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Int, are reptilian humanoids with a swim speed of 30 ft. They get hold breath and a 1d3 bite and two 1d4 claws – here, the natural attacks are properly codified. They get +4 to Acrobatics when balancing, courtesy of their tail and +2 natural armor bonus. The traits are nice, but, bingo, miss their bonus types once more.

The second thoroughly unique race featured herein would be the Partatingi, or parrotfolk. These fellows are Medium, get +2 Int and Dex, -2 Con and gain a +4 racial bonus to Linguistics and learn 2 languages per point invested in the skill. They get one bite and two talon natural attacks, all of which clock in at 1d4s, and they are properly codified. Kudos. They may use ventriloquism as a non-magic ability for 1 minute per character level per day and get a +1 natural AC as well as +4 racial bonus to Acrobatics to balance. Here’s the thing, as the tea-cup holding Partatingi-artwork perfectly illustrates: They have wing hands. Yes, they get a fly speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability. However, when holding anything, that drops by 10 ft. They can’t hold tools or manufactured weapons while flying. This does somewhat limit this ability. Still, a more elegant solution would have been to impose a hard cap on unassisted flight at low levels and then delimiting it around 5th level, when PFRPG assumes unassisted flight to be available. I am not complaining too loud here, since the feathery wing-hands mean that they can only wield light melee weapons effectively, taking a -2 penalty to attack with all other weapons. They do get a +2 bonus to atk with light melee weapons, though – oddly, this one is not classified as a racial bonus. The race traits once more are interesting. Okay, I liked this race. It’s not for everyone, but the wing-hands with finger-feathers? I can get behind that inspired weirdness.

Okay, form this section, we move on to the history of the seven principalities, which once had been the luxurious Eight Delights of the erkunae, basically colonies/vacation spots until the empire collapsed; thereafter, war ravaged the lands until Romos the Beguiler, prince of now sunken Torl, made the erkuane lords wage their wars on tabletops instead. This was all fine and good, but then, Asterion came. The mighty minotaur mage took control of the island of Huq, and when the council met to decide on his claim, he promptly used a potent artifact to sink the whole island, drowning everyone. He rules with an iron fist until adventurers managed to deduce that his artifact had but one use and then managed to assassinate the mighty beast. Still, only two of the group survived, and they took the mantles of rulership for two of the new 7 remaining islands. In the defeat of the dread despot, trade is picking up and alchemy flourishes. Really cool: We get global modifications for item category prices – metal is, for example, more expensive and carved seashell (called “Simbi”) or milled obsidian (called “Black”) are commonly used as coinage. These are small aspects, mind you, but reading how these are carried and used makes the area come alive for me. From here, we move to the neat full-color map and then proceed to cover the respective settlements that can be found within the principalities, all of which btw. come with flavorful introductory text and a proper settlement statblock as well as hooks galore for the enterprising GM to develop.

Speaking of “for the GM to develop” – Asterion was a minotaur. As such, he had a famous mega-dungeon-labyrinth of sorts, one of stacked demiplanes which PCs can now explore. In a nice take on the subject matter, the pdf recommends an online labyrinth creator and mechanics. We also get a nice sample labyrinth map. The pdf then proceeds to cover the notable personages of the islands, providing inspiring fluff-only entries for the islands of the principalities, with 3 such NPCs provided per principality. These characters also note remarkable possessions, alignment and suggested class levels, adding a bit of guidance for the GM. One of my favorite chapters in the book, as the NPCs are interesting.

Now, this being a player’s guide, we also get a ton of class options: Alchemists can opt to become brine bakers, who replace Brew Potion with the option to create weaponry from sea water. These brineblades inflict bonus non-lethal damage on critical hits, which is further increased over the levels, replacing the poison resistance/immunity ability tree. The archetype’s discoveries allow for the creation of abjurant salt or grave salt. I actually like this one. It’s an interesting, flavorful ability modification. Now, Asterion may be vanquished, but his shadow still looms – one of the class options that represent this would be the bullman antipaladin, who replaces detect good with a horned, crimson helmet that acts as an unholy symbol, can inflict 1d8 damage (type missing) and nets Improved Bull Rush. Okay, what if it goes missing/is sundered? No idea. Does it occupy the helmet slot? This is an item, confused as a class ability, and as such sports some serious issues in the finer rules-interactions. The archetype gets a smite-variant and replaces plaguebringer with immunity to being flat-footed. Unholy champion is replaced with 1/day create demiplane, usable only in subterranean environments. The Gray Blades swashbuckler, former navy turned pirates, replace Profession with Stealth. They get limited per day uses of better stealing instead of charmed life and replace swashbuckler training with Improved Steal and baked in bonuses.

The high beast unchained barbarian replaces danger sense with a bonus to CMD to avoid being swallowed whole and a bonus to AC versus natural weapons and to Perception to avoid being surprised. They get +4 to saves versus poisons when raging, replacing indomitable will. They get a rage power that nets bonuses to damage versus targets with natural attacks and save-less stunning crits versus animals and magical beasts. The order of the bear is interesting in that they represent somewhat swashbuckly rebels who can cancel their charges and the like with a bonus 5-foot step, which can be rather interesting. The unchained rogue rigger gets a modified proficiency list as well as specialized Equipment Trick rope tricks. These are cool, interesting and make sense. Storydancer bards get a specialized sign language that allows them to convey concepts to intelligent species. They also eliminate the language-dependent descriptor for spells and replaces well-versed with a bonus to concentration checks with somatic spells. Here’s the issue: RAW, the spells still have verbal components and I’m pretty sure that spells that lose the language descriptor should not be potentially be made Still as well – otherwise, we’d have spells sans any components, and the theme of dance-based casting would be lost. The tribal surfer ranger gets access to tower shields and is a specialist of the paddleboat style, perfectly navigating the waves. Nice one. The volcanic bloodline presented labors under the misconception that eliminating the arcana suffices to make it viable or mechanically consistent for bloodragers as well. That is not the case. No, I am not going to bother listing the myriad of reasons why. They are evident enough.

The pdf also contains two 5-level prestige classes, the first of which would be the pirate hunter, who gets good Fort-saves, full BAB-progression, d10 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. Prerequisite-wise, it requires a lawful alignment and 3 different skills at 5 ranks and Leadership. Proficiency-wise, the PrC nets proficiency with simple and martial weapons and a firearm as well as light and medium armor. The archetype builds on Leadership, granting a commissioned ship and may 1/day cancel a steal, sneak attack or critical hit, 2/day at 5th level. Third level nets a gold/item-bonus and 2nd, 3rd and 4th level net a prince’s edict. These include gaining cannons or Amateur Gunslinger and the like. Okay, but nothing mind-blowing.

The second PrC is the royal messenger, who needs 3 skills at 5 ranks and the Noble Neutraility feat as well as the lore master class feature. The PrC nets 6 + Int skills per level, d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression and slightly non-standard Ref- and Will-save progressions, scaling up to +4. The PrC nets spellcasting progression on 4 of its levels and grants proficiency with simple weapons as well as longsword, rapier, sap, shortsword and shortbow. They are also proficient in light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and don’t incur arcane spell failure when using these. They also get immunity: “Any being with an intelligence of 6 or better must make a roll of 10 + the messengers Charisma bonus + his royal messenger bonus to make a melee attack against him.” What’s this ominous “royal messenger bonus”? I have no idea. Next ability isn’t better: “When performing any verbal-based action, such a starting a bardic performance or casting a spell with a Verbal component, a royal mes­senger also treats his initiative roll as a 20, if he chooses.” WHAT THE F***. Seriously?? This is SUPER-OP. Also: I have no idea how in the infinite layers of the abyss this is supposed to work. You decide when you act on your turn, not at the start of the round. Can the messenger retroactively increase initiative? Total mess of an ability. Added spells known, evasion, money “a free masterpiece” (should be bardic masterpiece)…yeah, I like the idea here, but the execution is messy.

The pdf also includes a pretty massive feat chapter. One nets +6 to saves versus fear effects. … Yeah, not impressed either. We get the xth feat that nets bonuses when outnumbered, increases to favored terrain bonuses. We get a limited daily use option to expend prepared spells to increase Dodge’s bonus, which is neat and one of the feats I liked. I like the notion of a muffled gunshot as well, but “add +2 to critical damage, if achieved.“ is painfully non-standard verbiage. It also fails to specify whether the bonus damage is multiplied or not. Swim speed for monks of 3rd level and Con 13 is a flavorful option. This is a feat text: “You may ignore the effects of any one of the following, once per day: successful Intimidate check, unsuccessful Sense Motive check (reroll), unsuccessful Will saving throw (reroll).” So, can I reroll a Will save or Sense Motive check, or can I ignore a failed reroll? That’s just sloppy. As a whole, the feat chapter is the weakest in the history of Porphyran player’s guides. The rules are weak and the benefits are not interesting for the most part.

The spell-chapter is an improvement in quality overall, featuring a 3rd level combined protection from evil/chaos that also affects undead vreated by evil effects. The spellcaster debuff aphasia is nice and the spell that requires water to execute a line-shaped (I assume 5-ft.-width) brinestrike is similarly a cool visual. A chaos-themes spell is interesting in its oscillation between buff and debuff, though I wished bonuses were properly codified. Sacrificing targets to elementals, fantasy islands (lavishly illustrated), getting temporarily the no breath quality – the chapter is not necessarily perfect, but nice. Cool: The magic item chapter includes the legendary weapon Asterion’s Soul – a blade that increases in potency with the wielder’s levels. We get partatingi/bird-folk blades (with serviceable, if non-standard verbiage benefits), opaline helmets and gemstone blades. Not all items are perfect, though – there is a trident that is missing the activation action from its active, secondary use. On the cool side, there is a vest that can produce magical pistols and Asterion’s island-disintegrating artifact can be found here. All in all, rules-wise my favorite chapter herein; not perfect, but has some nice components.

The mundane equipment contains pipes that can be turned into blowguns (heck yes!) and paddleboats and the pdf provides a ginormous list of available items, grouped by types and the like. This should seriously be standard for ANY player’s guide. Big plus, as the section is super-handy for GM and players alike, taking the annoying and time-consuming minutia back and forth of “You can’t get that here.” “Can I have XYZ?” “Yes, but it costs…” off your hands. Big kudos.

The pdf concludes with an NPC codex of sorts, providing a CR 8 erkunae brine baker, a CR 17 half-elf bullsman, a CR 4 human gray blade, a CR 3 kanseeran high beast, a CR 11 human cavalier, a CR 10 kanseeran pala/pirate hunter (including his ship!), a CR 4 lizardfolk rigger, a CR 10 paratatingi bard/royal messenger, a CR 8 partatingi storydancer, a CR 7 erkuane tribal surfer and a CR 14 lizardfolk sorcerer with the volcanic bloodline. All of these come with brief stories, adding a touch of character to them.

The pdf comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the Leiopleurodon, a CR 5 prehistoric aquatic animal that is a potent ambush predator and which can accelerate in brutal bursts. Nice one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are weaker than usual for Porphyran player’s guides – there are a couple of formal hiccups, but more importantly, the rules this time around are much more inconsistent in quality and precision than usual for the series. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and nice, full-color artworks, some of which are downright amazing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Huh. Weird. Aaron Hollingsworth and Perry Fehr’s last collaboration was much stronger than this one from a rules-perspective. And indeed, this is rather painful for me to say, but this Porphyran player#s guide is perhaps more contingent than any of its brethren before it on why you’re interested in it. You see, theme-wise, this is EASILY one of my favorite player’s guides ever. Yes, I kid you not. I mean, a weird Caribbean-like environment, with sprinkles of Krete and ancient Greece strewn in? Alchemists that make weapons from brine? What’s not to like. I adored the flavor and theme of the region, and while I do not subscribe to all design decisions made regarding the new races, I really LOVE the notion of crab-dwarves and parrot-folk. Come on, that is damn cool, different and creative! The fluff herein and the setting per se are fantastic and inspiring.

At the same time, the mechanics underlying them oscillate rather significantly in quality – while some of the components are very precise, to the point and well-made, there also are plenty of hiccups in the details, some of which seriously affect the functionality of some components. There also is a bit more filler material in the rules-relevant options here. Compared to the series’ previous installments, the crunchy components fall somewhat flat, which is a damn pity. The lack of occult adventures-support is somewhat sad, considering how cool a crabfolk mesmerist would have been. Speaking of which: Where are the eye stalks as a alternate racial trait? Where is the partatingi option that lets them parrot messages and later spells in a limited manner? The concepts herein are amazing, but the execution of the supplemental rules-material left me rather unimpressed. I would have loved to see more here; the themes and amazing flavor deserve more. So…how to rate this. See, this is where it gets tough. Regarding glitches and issues and rules, this falls into the mixed bag territory. Regarding flavor and ideas, this is fantastic and worthy of the highest accolades. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If you’re in it for the lore, then round up and check this out – it in inspiring! Otherwise, though, I sadly have to recommend rounding down. Now, I try to take the type of book into account when reviewing, and while I would not recommend this on the merits of its rules, I can recommend it, with reservations, on the strength of its concepts as a player's guide/region sourcebook. As such, my final verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Heroes of the Seven Principalities
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Stock Art: Evil Tree
par Florian B. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 04/05/2018 06:50:55

Awesome artwork as all by Gary Dupuis and Purple Duck!

Thanks!!



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Hybrid Class: The Hermit
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 04/04/2018 05:45:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.

The hermit is a hybrid of witch and druid. The class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons. They are divine spellcasters that draw their spells from the druid and witch spell lists and uses Wisdom as governing attribute for spellcasting. They may not cast spells opposed to their alignment and they learn a few spells when leveling up; the hermit may also learn spells from other hermits and their spellcasting is intricately entwined with their lantern. This must be a source of illumination, though the precise form varies from hermit to hermit. The lantern can shine light like a bull’s eye lantern or hooded lantern and may be lit or extinguished as a swift action. It is not affected by environmental effects and requires no fuel. The lantern may be enhanced via item creation feats. Damaged lanterns regain full hit points next time the hermit rests and destroyed lanterns may be replaced. It has hardness 8 and ½ the hermit’s hit points. Lanterns act as divine focus and the hand holding it counts as unoccupied for the purpose of somatic components.

Okay, so far, so cool. Once a lantern is created, you choose one of 4 rune powers. The first expands the area of circular spell effects (cones, cylinders, etc.) as a swift/immediate action 3 + Wis-mod times per day, upgrading to +10 ft. at 10th level. I per se like this, but since RAW, the area of effect increase is total, not based on radius, it is a bit awkward - +2.5 feet radius makes for some off shapes. Making the increase based on radius would have been much more elegant. The second rune makes the lantern behave as a masterwork “light flail”, which can be temporarily enchanted with scaling bonuses, but no unique special weapon qualities. RAW, this bonus can also exceed the +5 cap, which is not how this type of thing usually works. This has a couple of issues. One: There is no “light flail” – it’s either “flail” or “heavy flail”. Or dire flail. Or flailpole. But not “light flail.” Two: RAW, the “light” flail (i.e. the non-heavy one) is a martial weapon, for which the hermit has no proficiency. The next rune grants an untyped, scaling bonus to all saves for allies in the light. It lacks an activation action. The final rune is the inverse, debuff version – but it’s missing its activation action as well.

2nd level nets endurance, 3rd level nets “withdraw” (not the smartest choice for the ability, considering the withdraw action), which acts as 3 + Wis-mod sanctuary per day, with ½ CL added to the DC (WUT??) It also nets + Wisdom mod AC when using the ability. 9th level nets commune as a supernatural variant, with 13th and 17th level increasing the number of questions he can answer per day. At 1st and 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the hermit gets to choose an illumination, which are governed by Int, and which include a +4 Disguise and Bluff bonus to pass off as older, a thousand faces starting at 14th level. There is an illumination that adds the Wisdom modifier a second time to AC when using withdraw. Cool: Getting a bonus to saves versus breathable hazards via filtering, unkempt hair. Weird: The internal balance of these can come off as strange. There is one illumination that nets +1/2 class level to Sense Motive, Diplomacy and Knowledge check DC to learn about the hermit; there also is one that nets +2 to two skills. Another illumination nets new spells or a metamagic bonus feat or a limited array of witch hexes. Immunities are properly situated behind sufficient levels. Weird: Adding 1d4 piercing damage to touch attacks. That’s not how fingernails or the like usually work in PFRPG. All in all, some cool visuals, but also some guffaws. The selection could be longer as well, considering the amount of illuminations the class gets.

The capstone allows the class to expend a spellslot as a swift or immediate action to grant herself a bonus equal to the spell’s level to a Wisdom-based check. The capstone also nets permanent true seeing and sight in perfect darkness. The pdf includes 4 class feats: Additional illumination does what it says on the tin. Become the Dim World nets 50% concealment when using the withdraw class feature, further adding to the vast power of that trick. Born on a Monday nets +2 to social interactions with fey and increases starting attitude to indifferent or better. Legacy of Diogenes sounds cool, but, alas, does not really represent one of the famous exploits of the man, but jus represents a numeric escalation.

Nice: We get a list of magical illumination sources as well as a magic lantern that nets detect illusion once per day and once per night. It also is utterly broken: The limited spellcasting of the class regarding availability is removed here – this one makes the WHOLE spell-lists of druid and witch available. For less than 10K price. Either stick to the limit, or don’t. An item should not be practically required/so good it MUST be taken by every hermit. The pdf closes with a massive list of favored class options, which cover the core races, less common ones and Porphyran races. There is some overlap between the individual FCOs and they vary in usefulness – more spells or withdraw-duration, for example, are more potent than other tricks here.

The pdf comes with a bonus file that includes the CR 5 Chingatrüll, which was also featured in Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers V.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the class has some issues in the design. Not to the extent where it becomes unusable, but to an extent where it becomes problematic. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf has no interior artworks apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingworth’s Hermit has the makings of a cool class. The idea here is strong – the old hermit, with ragged hair and lantern illuminating, quite literally, the dark in the world….or luring it. I like the theme here. While the withdraw-DC-increase is overkill, it’s limited in its uses, so that’s a plus of sorts. That being said, the hermit could have really used more unique illuminations. Similarly, the lantern BEGS to be used to modify the area of effect of spells and hexes and abilities – instead, it amounts to an object-familiar-substitute. Speaking of objects – the magic lantern that delimits the balancing factor for the spell-list flexibility of the class should die in a blaze. This one is frustrating, fr it has the potential to become outstanding – the spell-engine is interesting and the lantern-idea, half-implemented though it may be, could carry so much more. I can’t rate that potential, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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CE 9 - Both Foul and Deep
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 03/29/2018 09:45:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This DCC-toolkit clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with a massive 50 pages of content, though these are formatted for 6’’ by 9’’ digest size (A5), which means you can fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper.

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first, in case you’re new to the series: The Campaign Elements-series is basically a collection of set-pieces supplemented with rules, intended to be dropped as is into an ongoing campaign…or to be used as a scavenging ground. As such, this sits squarely on the line between modules and setting supplements – while it can be used as written, it is just as useful as a file to supplement other modules; take e.g. “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” – the module assumes that the smartest way for the PCs to enter the locale would be via the sewers, but there isn’t much going on there. This is where an enterprising judge can employ this supplement, as we get a ton of material for sewers.

Wait. I know. Sewer levels/environments have a bad reputation. I can name, at the top of my head, a ton of modules that take place in sewers. Among these, 10%, at most, are worthwhile. But what if you want/need to run such a module? Well, this pdf pretty much helps dealing with that issue. We begin with a summary of different hooks to get the PCs down into the sewers. From there, we move on to general terrain features, the first thing a lot of modules in sewers fail to properly take into account. So yes, falling into sewage is a BAD idea – 6 different diseases can be found herein, ranging from mites and parasitic worms and scarlet rash. The second component many sewer-scenarios get wrong is that they depict, ironically, I might add, sewers as a mechanically sterile environment – this pdf does help here quite a bit: We get a d30 random encounter table, which brings me to one of the main components of this pdf.

You see, we not only get the usual people of the sewers (including secret taverns, cultists, etc.), but also a bunch of components we usually don’t see: Filthlarks, for example, the scavengers of the filthy places, gentlemen clubbers going to a clandestine meeting…and there are resurrection men; basically grave robbers in the name of science. Beyond those, we also get what amounts to a pretty massive bestiary section: We get albino alligators, aliens rats from another world, blood slugs, centipedes that seek to burrow into your flesh, carrion moths that spread hallucinogenic powder via their wings…even cooler: What about the cessceada? These swarming insects can cause the skin of those infected to slough off. There are beetles that can be sold to the dyer’s guild for profit, particularly agile drain runner foes, disgusting oozes, filth elementals… Have I mentioned the globlins that split by fission? Hellspore fungi and lamprey swarms are cool, and in the dark recesses, there also is the terrifying loathly one; there are phantom gentlemen…and more. This bestiary section is really cool, with each of the entries breathing some form of truly intriguing and captivating idea, in spite of the sometimes down to earth theme.

The pdf also provides the patron Squallas, mistress of the night soil rivers, but we only get the invoke patron table here – no custom spells, patron taint or spellburn, but all right. This would btw. be as well a place as any, there are quite a few really nice full-color illustrations throughout the pdf – particularly the sewer troll image is nice.

At this point, it should be noted that judges with an extensive library of books may find some nice easter eggs here and there – in the case of the troll, for example, a nod to the upcoming, Angels, Daemons and Beings Between II by Shinobi 27 Press. These nods are unobtrusive enough to not impede your enjoyment of the content, but certainly should be fun for quite a few judges…and they provide obscure and potentially easily ignored links you can further develop…but I digress.

Now, so far, I have mainly commented on the toolbox-y aspects of this pdf, but it is also an adventure locale. We get a solid b/w-map of the sewer-area depicted AND a player-friendly iteration, which is a huge plus, as far as I’m concerned. Now, the keyed encounter areas provided for the judge come with well-written read-aloud text (we have come to expect nothing less from Daniel J. Bishop!), but also feature unique hazards and creatures beyond the ones already mentioned – some are obviously intended as plot-threads for the judge to further develop, while others are just amazing; the image of a massive spider that carries its brood on its back is great, and just let it be known that just because corpses move doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily undead…which can result in a rather cool scene. Oh, and the line from the core book? Yes, there is a means to learn a spell from the mouth of a dead man…and how that phrase is twisted is really cool. I could explain all of the 9 keyed encounters here, but I’d frankly do the book a disservice.

You see, the series has traditionally a “squeezing it dry”-section, wherein you can find further suggestions to get the maximum amount of mileage out of the book – considering how strongly the toolbox/bestiary aspect is emphasized here, I can most definitely see judges employ this pdf’s contents far beyond the exploration of the sewers presented here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The full-color artworks are captivating, cool and deserve a big shout-out. The cartography featuring a player-friendly map is really cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable.

Daniel J. Bishop’s name on a book is, for the most part, a great indicator that it will rock – in fact, even if you do not play DCC, both new school and old school games can get something out of his offerings. There is a crisp quality to his prose, an overarching vision that not only gets the peculiarities of DCC, but, more importantly, really understands the tone and what makes it stand out. There is always an aspect of the weird here, one that feels like it was drawn straight from the greats. In fact, much like Leiber or Howard, he is adept at using precious few words to inspire; his fantasy, infused with a little dose of gonzo and the soul of sword & sorcery, has a distinct tone that is both grounded and wondrous, that retains this strange, captivating sense of plausibility. This booklet brings this aesthetic to sewers, perhaps the most maligned of adventuring locales, and elevates them. In short, this little booklet is one of the very few supplements/modules dealing with sewers that I’d consider superb – the monsters are so cool and interesting that quite a few may well warrant conversion. DCC judges, the primary audience of this book, should consider this a must-purchase anyway. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Desert Classes of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 03/09/2018 05:13:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, though it should be noted that these are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’, which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out – provided your eyes are good enough, obviously.

Okay, so this pdf contains a total of no less than 5 different classes, so let’s take a look at the details, shall we?

The first of these would be the ascetic, who can be envisioned as a variant class of the unchained monk. These folks must be lawful, has d10 HD, 4 + Int mod skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger, javelin, quarterstaff, scimitar, shortspear, siangham, sling, and spear. They don’t get access to monk weapons per se and get a scaling AC bonus, but lose it when using shield or armor. Interesting: The pdf uses the great toolkit Unarmed and Dangerous’ Way of the Body ability to tie the AC-bonus to Con. And no, you don’t need that pdf, but it shows a nice, applied use here. The class gets full BAB-progression, all good saves and 3rd level yields fast movement +10 ft., which improved by +10 ft every 3 levels thereafter. The class begins play with Endurance and flurry of blows as well as stunning fist. At 4th level, stunning fist can be sued to calm emotions, 8th can be used as a targeted dispel magic; 12th level nets staggered for 1d6+1 rounds and 20th level provides euphoric tranquility for 2d6+1 rounds and durations of subsequent uses stack. The class gets monk unarmed damage progression and Improved Unarmed Strike etc., with the table for Small and Large ascetics provided as well.

At 2nd level, ascetics gain Diehard and can subsist on ¼ food and water etc. They also gain evasion. 3rd level nets a Wis-governed ki pool, with 7th, 10th and 16th level providing the DR-bypassing scaling. Being ascetics can make them feel brash – as such, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provide penalties to social graces, but also subsequent environmental adaptation. (Here, an endure elements has a minor formatting hiccup – the (i) for italicization has not been closed); this progresses to make them seem monstrous at 12th level, but also yields hide in plain sight at 16th level.

4th level and every 2 levels thereafter yield a ki power, with abundant step, diamond mind, empty body, etc. all codified as such and e.g. the option to use ki to treat rolled Acrobatics checks as natural 20s for 1 minute, emphasizing reliable skirmishing. Combining movement with flurries via ki and rerolls for allies, divination and longer holding breath etc. – the selection loses cobra breath, diamond body, elemental fury, elemental blast, ki guardian, ki blocker, ki mount, ki range and quivering palm, but gains empty body as an etherealness option. The decreased flexibility makes sense here, considering the upgrade in power of the base chassis.

4th level yields still mind, 5th purity of body and 5th level, style strike, with 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter yielding another style strike, with 15th level allowing for a second style strike per round. The list replaces elbow smash with rock throw. 6th level makes the attacks executed behave as though they were ghost touch and 9th level yields improved evasion. 10th levels provides immunity to poisons, lets the character function in a vacuum and eliminates the need for sleep, food, etc. – ki points are automatically regenerated at dawn. 13th level yields tongue of the sun and moon, 14th DR, 17th timeless body and 18th level a ki-powered aura that can calm targets as well as negate penalties and bonuses to mental attributes, curing damage and drain to them, with a 24-hour hex-like caveat to avoid spamming. The capstone yields an outsider apotheosis. We get an array of favored class options for various porpyhran races here – and yes, this holds true for all of the classes herein; I’m not going to repeat myself in that regard for all of them.

Okay, this class should have highlighted the design paradigm employed herein: Basically, we have variant classes that exceed in modifications what you’d usually see from a standard archetype, but which are very clearly akin to more widespread class options. As such, they can be considered to be the local color iterations of a specific trope. In order to maintain the integrity of the review and its usefulness and to avoid boring you to tears by rehashing basics, I will proceed to now highlight the differences of the remainder of classes.

The defender of the city-state is very interesting, in that the class per se is very much akin to the paladin, with smite, spells, two good saves, etc. However, in a twist that I very much welcome, it makes use of the subjectivity of morals: While all such beings consider themselves to be both Lawful and Good, that need not be the case: Both patron, to whom fealty is sworn, and individual can deviate from this, and indeed, the class abilities reflect these variables, focusing not on the destruction of a monolithic evil as a concept, but rather on the enemy of the city/state/nation…you get the idea. The code of honor is provided and the class also gets some differentiation fighting tricks and home-turf-based options, generally making for a less angelic and monolithic, but more down-to-earth type of warrior that should fit rather well into games that prefer a more nuanced approach to matters of morals.

The next class would be the sand caster, a wizard variant who can fire blasts of slashing sands and substitute sands as focus and components of inexpensive components, which is btw. properly codified. Damage substitution, limited domain tricks…this one is really evocative and something I enjoy. The high-level (level 19) option nets limited fast healing after sandcasting, but consumes sand in the vicinity, preventing abuse.

The sand scarab would be another unchained monk-based variant, but, unlike the ascetic, does not gain good Will-saves. Focusing less on mysticism, their ki strikes don’t get the same supernatural tricks, but they can exert control over the base damage type caused, their bonus feats represent their more martial bent and ki power and style strike lists are modified in different ways, including a verminous hybrid shape as a ki power. Higher levels yield further vermin-themed abilities, like deciphering patterns from the behavior of different vermin they can observe, gaining divination-y abilities thus.

Now, while all of the options herein tie in rather neatly with Porphyra, the sharif provides a basic premise of sample city states by region, for, like the defender of the city, it is basically a variant take on the cleric that focuses instead on upholding the integrity of the city state in question. This ties in once more with the patronage idea and the modifications of the class emphasize player agenda: A city with a strong martial tradition may, for example, bestow a ranger style as part of its traditions and communion with legends from the city’s past may enhance summoning as an alternate choice here. All in all, once more a flavorful alternative.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf, the sin spider attractor by Perry Fehr, who clocks in at CR 5 – basically a flabby spider that generates a lure as a twisted ambush predator. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it before, but yeah – like the critter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are very good. On a formal level, I noticed a couple of minor snafus. The pdf provides really nice full-color pieces for all classes and otherwise adheres to Purple Duck games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. In a strange decision, the pdf sports no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment at this length.

Carl Cramér’s writing, based on those of C.A. Suleiman, is rather nice here: This pdf can be seen as a good way to illustrate how the design paradigms introduced in Unarmed and Dangerous may be applied in a seamless manner; beyond that, the variant classes fit within the themes we’d expect: The topics of Arabian nights or quasi-Egyptian contexts and Porphyra’s own, diverse regions all make for fitting origins for these variant classes. Rules-wise, the respective variants all make meaningful incisions into the base classes they’re derived from, providing a distinct feeling for all the tricks we’d associate with their concepts. In short, this is, as a whole, a well-crafted, inexpensive supplement that nets you a whole cadre of classes to set apart desert-dwelling heroes and villains from those hailing from more temperate climates. This pdf does not reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to – at the low and fair price point, we arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars, in spite of the lack of bookmarks and minor snafus – this is worth checking out if you want to add some local color to your desert-themed adventuring.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Ultimate Covenant Magic
par David S. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 03/06/2018 22:19:38

A solid book. I would have ordered the chapters differently (skip to the covenant chapter!), but the content here is absolutely delicious. It is full of hooks that could make a campaign sing in whole new ways. It weaves in classic folklore and mythological roots that Pathfinder leaves on the ground. Let your character owe a favor to a fey power, and they plan to make good on it. In the meanwhile, they have given you a little gift, just to remember them by. They won't forget you, promise.

The spells are great, expanding the ability to call and negotiate with things beyond outsiders in a way that feels perfectly natural with classic stories.

The classes reach into these covenants and makes them the focus, and they do a good job of that, but I feel I should emphasize that this book is so very amazing even if you never touch a class. Add a dash of The Other, pray to the forces you feel you can get away with negotiating with, and always pay your debts.

Or else.



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Tyranny and Manipulation
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 03/05/2018 05:41:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive toolkit/grab-bag clocks in at 134 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 131 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so let me state one thing: I never expected to see this book. Way back when Pathfinder was young, there was a 3pp called 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming. The company released several much-beloved books and then went belly under, alas. Purple Duck Games took over, fulfilled the outstanding KS-obligations, and proceeded to make things right, something for which the master of the Purple Duck, Mark Gedak, has my gratitude.

Anyways, back in the day, one of my favorite 4WFG-books was “Strategists & Tacticians”, which pioneered several aspects of the game that we’d later see represented in various ways in the game. In that book and the associated interviews etc., a sequel that would be more GM-facing was teased time and again – this book would be Tyranny and Manipulation, a devil’s grab-bag of GM-tricks and tools. That being said, the material herein is designed to NOT be used by players.

Beyond rules, though, this is, to a degree, a GM-advice book, which is evident from the get-go, as the book proceeds to provide guidance regarding so-called Overlord-campaigns/villains. What does that mean? Well, there is, in essence, a variety Leadership feat for minions, called Overlord, presumably in a nod to the videogame franchise. The interesting component here, as the pdf notes, is that the Overlord feats, minions, etc. are all ways to create back-door tactics and increase villain survivability – in a sense, the design paradigm here is similar as the one of using Legendary Games’s mythic rules, but focuses more on the behavior of the adversary and the resource available, as opposed to individual capacity. As such, responses and mindset are explained for the GM, helping you craft sensible plots in that regard. Motivations and NPC roles and how they can be thought about also help – and while expert GMs are probably cognizant of quite a few of these strategies, it always helps to see them spelled out in a clear and concise manner.

The theme of tyranny is also represented in two new base classes, which primarily focus on being representations of classic NPC-tropes: A shepherd is basically the evil preacher – 6th level spellcasting, physically feeble, but with several abilities to draw power from the flock, these folks are the evil, religious firebrands, the nasty fire-and-brimstone preachers, the corrupt leaders of their flocks of fanatics. The warmonger, in comparison, would be the full BAB-equivalent of the trope, focusing on the cruel captain of mercenaries as one of the central leitmotifs. While I would not use these classes as a PC-class due to their linearity, they are a great foundation as a NPC-class to represents their respective tropes.

Now, the book also sports a massive array of different archetypes and class options, which cover base classes as well as those featured in the Advanced Player’s Guide. Here, the age of the original concept does show a bit – I somewhat bemoan that Occult Adventure’s amazing classes, Vigilante, etc. do not get support here, but considering the history of the book, that was expected. I couldn’t help but chuckle when the alchemist-section noted that the alchemist would be one of the most complex of base classes, when nowadays, it probably wouldn’t even rank as mid-tier complexity. Anyways, all of these classes get a special archetype of sorts that should be helpful for GMs who have problems making characters: There is a simplified version of the respective class features to be found for all of the classes. I am a bit “challenged” here regarding my ability to see the necessity for these options, seeing how I frankly consider the classes all to be rather simple and easy to work with, but I am not a good way of measuring system mastery and GM prowess in that regard. So yeah, these simplified class options will probably find their fans out there.

Now, if I go into my usual level of detail regarding the archetypes and options, the review will easily blast past 10+ pages, so I’ll remain brief in my discussion of the respective concepts. Now, the alchemist gets a ton of new discoveries, many of which interact with Overlord (making minions explosive) and also with mutations. Mutations? Yep, the 4th chapter is actually completely devoted to mutations. Approximately 30 pages classify mutations as frameshifts or lobos and talks about the risks and tribulations of mutation; how it can happen is also noted – from exposure to magic, rituals, oozes and their deliberate creation (Craft (mutation) is a thing now!), the pdf covers quite a few angles there, talking about their use in the game as well as use in conjunction with PCs. They have slots, come with descriptions and a total of 3 stages, as well as Tuner’s notes, commenting on how mutation would be seen in context. Now, as far as natural weaponry is concerned, they classify primary/secondary and take size categories into account, but require defaulting to standards regarding damage types inflicted. Becoming centaurian creatures, bowed frames, swelled skulls – the classics are provided, and as a whole, I found myself very much enjoying the mutation chapter, even though I did bemoan the lack of occult synergy here – psychic magic (or psionics) and mutation go together like peanut butter and jelly, as far as I’m concerned. Well. Or so I’ve heard. I’m allergic to peanuts. Anyways, back to the class options.

The hermetic alchemist can designate a creature to be the one for which the extracts work – that may be him or a patron, which is interesting indeed. The angle is further enhanced with extract capsules. The tuner, as hinted at before, would be the mutation specialist. Barbarians get the caged barbarian, basically a side-kick/beta-type of barbarian, and the screaming chief, who is a representation of the barbarian leader. We get rage powers here as well, which once more tie in with the mutation engine. Bards of the dictator archetype cause Wisdom damage on successful saves versus their bardic performances, which is pretty nasty; jesters are a take on the anti-bard trope, but did not age too well in comparison with other takes on the trope. The cavalier of the order of the monarch is a ruler-feat specialist and the mounted guard is pretty much what it says on the tin. The privileged leader is a cavalier who gets into battle atop a lectica, a portable throne carried by underlings, and as such, is the overlord-y specialist of the archetypes for the class.

The cleric gets the disciple as the underling-representation, and the theocrat as the villain/overlord archetype, which is pretty potent: Channel rapture deals damage to non-believers and heals believers and is untyped. So yeah, would strongly suggest to limit this fellow to NPCs only, just in case you wanted that spelled out. The druid feral master is, bingo, the druid leader, while the mutant avenger makes use of the mutation engine featured herein instead of wildshape. Fighters that are comrades-in-arms would be the underling archetype, while the foot general represents, bingo, the fighter leader. Inquisitors can become cult leaders or sleepers, who get a telepathic link with their patrons – the latter is surprisingly cool for its relative simplicity. The Bakmei monk would be the leader, while the student of the basilisk gets a stunning fist flurry touch attack…which is somewhat dubious, in spite of the 1 save per round caveat. The black knight can self-atone and either rules or serves, which is a surprisingly interesting take on the concept. Farsighted palas are sunder specialists and get to channel force damage. Weird? What about mercies? What does the channel (which also gets combat maneuvers etc.) replace?

Rangers get a new whip-based combat style and a new terrain, which is designated as “hazardous” and encapsulates a wide open plethora of terrain hazards. Yeah, that’s not a good idea. The hazardmaster builds on this. The urban infiltrator is an urban ranger. The guild leader is the rogue lord, the wetworks rogue the killer minion for the rough stuff, who gets a surprisingly interesting variant of sneak, with a lot of different, unique tricks. We get a mutant bloodline for sorcerers and a really cool mini-archetype: The suppressed sorcerer needs his master’s approval to cast. I can see whole societies build on that. Summoners can become mutant masters, replacing summoning with causing mutations and the evolution engine with mutations. Sliders can move allies around the battlefield, which is, once again, pretty interesting for such a small archetype. The gifter witch can bestow boons or banes (doesn’t specify what that ability replaces) and tempt foes; the coven mother is the leader-style archetype. The patsy wizard is the minion archetype, the wizard lord the leader.

Okay, that out of the way, we take a look at suggestions for simplified feats, skills and spells for the purpose of NPCs. If you’re looking for means to simplify, this will be worth checking out.

After this, we get a massive feat chapter, in which, obviously, the theme based on Overlord, is pretty strong. And yes, unlike Leadership, Overlord does not penalize cruelty or sucky behavior/NPC-casualties. Feat-wise, the dichotomy between roles is represented here as well: Ruler and Minion feats are introduced, with obvious uses. These…are brutal. I mean it. Keep them out of PC hands at all costs and use them with care. There is a prerequisite-less feat that doubles the numeric bonuses you gain from allied minions, and the ones allied minions gain from you. Using a full-round action to make the CL of all your minions equal to your own is similarly something that even a halfway capable player can abuse to smithereens. What about a full-round action that nets you an untyped AC-bonus equal to the number of minions of the same ruler within line of sight? Yeah, this does what it should: It fortifies the AC of villains to reflect the minions – but the claim of player-facing transparency should be, quite frankly, just ignored. Think of this as a GM-only book. Now, the feat and spell-chapter spans 29 pages, so no, I’m not going to pick them apart individually. The spells btw. interact in cool ways with the ruler/minion-dynamic. Clone minion. Just sayin’. There also are undead-curing options and spells that make use of aforementioned mutation-engine.

Now, the final chapter of this massive tome would once more be something that holds universal and timeless appeal: 10 pages of hazardous environments, from sentient areas to ones where things fall out of the sky, where leaves rustle to leave, where springs seek to charm you – this section is pure gold, with advanced effects allowing you to exacerbate the severity of the challenge posed. These environments are presented somewhat akin to traps and haunts, with DCs to note them, ACs, damage thresholds required to overcome to damage them, etc. Now, there also is a template/subtype somewhat akin to troops, namely hordes – while one could argue that this would be redundant, the rules are different enough to generate a sense of unease and make it harder for the PCs to know what they’re up against – which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

The pdf also comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, the CR 3 Darlith critter – an adamantine-shelled tentacle-snail-thing, whose adhesive glands can be harvested.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are surprisingly good for a book of this size. I noticed no undue accumulations of glitches – an “e” missing from “morale” and similar hiccups are what can be found here and there. On a rules-language level, the pdf is per se precise, but has an unfortunate propensity for not always specifying which abilities are modified/replaced by archetypes and the like. Interior artworks are full-color and plentiful, though some may be familiar to PDG-fans, and the pdf adheres toa 2-column standard with purple highlights, one that is, as a whole printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with shiny, nested bookmarks.

Ryan Costello Jr., with additional content by Matt Belanger, delivers an interesting tome here. Tyranny and Manipulation, when seen as a grab-bag of the GM, makes for a book that is well worth the asking price. As a reviewer, I am in a bit of a conundrum, though: You see, whether it’s the new classes, the archetypes or the feats – the age shows in quite a few of them, and I thought more than once that it would have been amazing to see this with Occult Adventures/Ultimate Intrigue-contexts. The balancing decisions of quite a few of the options also is dubious at best…which makes sense. This book, as a whole, is intended to increase the survivability of villains, and it does that job admirably. My issues here stem from the insistence of a semblance of player-GM-transparency, which, frankly, isn’t there. A lot of the options feel, here and there, as though they kind of could have been intended for players.

I’m not going to mice words here: As a player-facing book, I’d, at best, consider this to be a mixed bag and a far cry from what I’d consider to be excellence. Beyond the (intentional) balance-issues I’ve found, both archetypes and new classes fall short of the customization options I’d nowadays expect to see – while the two classes do what they’re supposed to do, they are very linear and, compared to current classes, not exactly PC-material.

Here’s the thing: They don’t have to be. As a GM’s toolkit, this is damn amazing and provides something for everyone. While, for example, I don’t like, want or need the simplified classes, someone out there will love them. Similar things can be observed regarding several of the archetypes and feats – quite a few of the tricks herein can, in one swoop, make the difference between a recurring villain and maggot food, courtesy of their power. The mutation and hazard-sections hold universal appeal, though, and may be well worth getting the book on their own.

As a whole, I found myself stupefied by how much I liked this book, in spite of the apparent age of some components; there is a timeless quality to many of the options, at least from a GM-perspective.

You know, I gotta hand it to Purple Duck Games – polishing the material towards the ends of being a GM-toolkit makes a ton of sense and, ultimately, this is what makes the book worthy of recommendation as far as I’m concerned. I did struggle with myself quite a bit, trying to decide whether to rate this as both a player and GM book or as only a GM book. Not finding an easy answer per se, I looked at how the book is advertized: “A GM’s secret weapon”? Okay, that pretty much makes the decision clear.

Because, honestly? It succeeds in that discipline admirably.

So, to sum up my struggles: This is NOT a player’s book. It is not billed as such, nor intended as such. Thus, I will not rate it as such.

It is neither perfect, nor is every component of the book relevant for every game. But chances are that you’ll, even when using only ¾ths or 2/3rds of the book, get more than your money’s worth. The hazard-section alone is gold; the mutations are interesting as well…and you WILL find an archetype that inspires you (enslaved suppressed sorcerer is imho gold…), a couple of feats that’ll help your BBEG survive to fight another day. We have more than 130 pages of material, advice, tricks and options, and while it may be unlikely that you’ll love all of these pages, I’m pretty confident in my prediction that there will be quite a lot that you will love. The bang for buck ratio is pretty damn good here.

You know, I actually did not expect to arrive here. At all. I saw this and thought: “Oh great, obsolete book.” …and got ready for a slog through an outdated splatbook. Color me surprised. It’s not obsolete. It retains its relevance; and while it falls short of the highest echelons of my rating system due to the system having evolved, I still consider it to be a very good book, one that can help enrich pretty much any GM’s campaign in one way or another. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Dragon Thanes of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/19/2018 04:37:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „...of Porphyra“-series was sponsored by the Purple Duck Games patreon and clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this pdf with a brief summary of a variety of different in-character prose pieces before diving into what exactly dragon thanes are – in short, they are draconic gods or demigods, on a power-level with Porphyra’s elemental lords, psychopomp ushers, archdevils – you get the idea. Before we go into the nit and grit of the pdf, we actually get a handy table that lists the respective thanes with names, alignment, worshipers, domains and subdomains noted; favored weapon and animal are similarly noted in the respective write-ups. The respective thanes all sport 4 domains and subdomains, making them all well-rounded in that regard. It should also be noted that each of the dragon thanes gets his/her own holy symbol, rendered in full color. Each of the respective thanes gets 2 religion traits, though it should be noted that the pdf doesn’t use the trait bonus type, which constitutes a minor downside. However, the traits themselves are fitting and interesting…just internally add the bonus type… All of the thanes come with a nice spell preparation ritual as wella s notes on how the followers etc. behave – this adds some intriguing details to the overall proceedings.

Now, before you turn away, wait a second – we don’t actually get the standard, bland old duality-angle, instead opting for something different, which becomes evident from the get-go, with Dervayî, the Outer Thane. This neutral deity is tied to Porphyra’s first moon, which contains a plethora of craters that lead to…other places. While it is the gatekeeper that keeps these in control, it is Dervayrî, who, in regular intervals and for unknown reasons, seems to guide meteors into the moon, creating strange new gateways…but to what end, no one knows.

Douhaja Zmieja is an intriguing take on the genesis myth of the world serpent: The hoarder of sunken ships ostensibly squeezed the oceans, the blood, if you will, from a young and dry, dead planet…and promises to one day constrict and crush the world. The deity is thus both the origin of life and its promised end, blending those visuals with that of the serpent from the depths. Id Shidiin is a whole other beast: This entity hatched from the dreams of a dying, alien god and now dwells in spirit and flesh in the Cinotiksim Nation, where cryptic puzzle-dreams and nightmares are sent to the populace and the nation meets in congregation while asleep. Pure amazing and something one of my favorite Weird fiction authors could have written.

Magkon, Son of the First Rain, would be the imperial sovereign; his thanedom pertains refined civilization based on academic learning; it was him who ostensibly taught Draconic, who invented the scroll, and to this day, finding fabled Hidden Shei is actually the first test on a journey of lifelong learning…and maybe beyond. Speaking of the First Rain – soon thereafter, there was the first rainbow – but there were no intelligent lifeforms to marvel at its beauty, and thus it waited…for aeons. It became angry, spiteful, twisted. It became the Nameless Hunger when the people saw it and fled, and from its shards arose the twisted chromatic dragons, representations of a force of pure yearning and spite. AMAZING genesis!

The direct opposite would be Olha Pasom, the Mother General, grand lady of the metallic dragonkind and supreme ally of the ancient elven people…even to this day. In a really interesting twist, she champions basically a military dictatorship, in spite of being LG, leading to a rather impressive array of potentially intriguing moral conundrums in interaction with the fallible, but mostly well-meaning representatives of the militaristic church. Among draconic thanes that are so well-known, the strange and unknowable Porpyhrite Wyrm stands alone, a mystery with a strange agenda, partially served by errant Codionic Knights…but as a whole, this force of destruction may well play the long, long game, seeking to subvert both elementalists and deists alike.

Umhlaba, the Primal Thane, is a dragon cheated out of his place in history; or so his followers claim. The elemental lords and their zendiqi followers claim that the lords defeated the mighty titans that lorded over the planet in aeons long past. They lied. Back then, the elementals were undivided, one mind, and it rose as this Thane, as pretty much a Final Fantasy Weapon-level of planetary destruction, an engine of fury, not hate. The thane went, ostensibly, dormant and remains unconquered…woe, should it awaken!

And here is a section that warrants getting this pdf on its own, even if you don’t care about the amazing mythweaving featured in the write-ups of the thanes: Dragon cult rules. You see, this pdf posits that dragons in Porphyra can learn to grant divine spells to their followers…and they should, for they are immortal and don’t age: The number of followers and divine casters praying to the dragon are in direct correlation to the age category the dragon has; regression is not possible, and yes, this also governs the maximum spell level the dragon can provide to followers. The engine is amazing and includes notes on resurrected dragon worshipers, what happens if the dragon dies, etc. The pdf also provides dragon variants in the guise of dragons with limited evolution pools; beyond these, we can find incendiary breath weapons…and PORTAL BREATH. Yes, concisely codified.

The respective dragon thanes are further developed, courtesy to the unique artifact/near-artifact items provided for them. The belt of morphic loins allows for free race/gender switching and yields immunity to hostile polymorphs; Mangkon’s boots of serene steps allow for massive boosts to Acrobatics as well as both air and water walk and also prevents AoOs from moving through threatened squares. Breastplate of Sacred Generals would be Olha Pasom’s item, and it is a super potent breastplate that also provides the means to share teamwork feats, and successful use of such a feat yields temporary access to domain powers. The circlet of waking dream is basically a super Int-booster that also enhances senses and provides full control over waking and sleeping. I’d love to have this IRL…Faithbane is a special wepon quality that applies to targets of specific faiths (D’uhhh), a concept I’ve been using in my game for ages; here, it is based on domains. The gauntlets of endless stars not only are potent weapons, they can fire magic missiles. The kilt of primal endurance is a great puzzle-boss item – the wearer gets a massive boost to physical attributes and may slap the earth to FULLY HEAL…well, at the cost of 1 Intelligence drain. The ring of the all-dragon’s eye takes the concept of the draconic super-deity à la IO and provides knowledge…at a cost, as well as relatively free choice of level 1 domain powers… The sea snake corset is a powerful item that allows for depth-adaption, faster swim speed, better grappling and potent defenses. Finally, the Porphyrite Wyrm’s violet vainblade is a mega-potent weapon…intelligent, and it has the task to eradicate humankind. Yes, the collective gulp is justified.

The pdf also sports a couple of class options: We have a nice dragon miser oracle curse that makes you squirrel away items, but enhances your own item creation; The Faithbreather archetype can be applied to cleric or paladin, replacing channel energy with a breath weapon,a s appropriate for the dragon thane in question. The Heir of the Claw would be a tweak of the warpriest that gains sacred claws, which may be enhanced with increasing benefits. A handy table for damages by level for Small and Medium characters is provided. The sacred snout inquisitor replaces stern gaze and cunning initiative with frightful presence. They can also detect dragons and replace scent with the ability to sniff out treasure. Instead of bane, they learn to add special weapon abilities to their weapon for a limited number of rounds., with 12 th level upgrading their damage.

The final section of the pdf deals with unique spells (yes Occult support included): Ancestral allies allows the servants of the Mother General to call forth non-evil shadows of ancient elves to assist the caster, increasing in potency upon ancient elven cairns, where it may also yield the effects of commune. Yep, adventure-hook baked in. Love it. Bibliomorph is one of the more complex and amazing spells I’ve seen in a while. What do I mean by this? Well, you turn into a library. Yes, this is correctly codified; yes you retain senses. And theoretically, this can be a really cool narrative tool, just picture it: That blackout you had…there is a book missing from you! O.O

Devouring rainbow is a cool, low-level prismatic-style illusion; dragonrage fills the air with grit, as a stream of dust pours from the caster’s eyes; within the cloud, all take damage, but also get a buff…Dreamwalk is another spell that just drips storytelling potential galore, requiring a potion of sleep; the character emerges from the slumbering body as a dreamform…interesting one. Porphyrite detonation causes untyped damage, which I do not generally like…but the spell has a great additional effect: It prevents the crossing of the porphyrite borders. Anyways, while the damage is only 1d4 per caster level, I’m pretty sure the spell should not scale to full level and cap at 10 or 15 damage dice…but then again, the spell is granted by an evil thane and can help villains get away, so I’m kinda good with it. Still should probably be handled with care. Seasurge is amazing – basically a wave that races forth, crashing into creatures and objects, carrying them with the wave…and yes, this spell gets the complex interaction right. Finally, spaceflight…well, does what you’d think it does.

The pdf closes with a couple of suggestions for further, similar pdfs from PDG.

That’s not all, though: We get a bonus pdf penned by Perry Fehr with a deadly critter: The CR 8 Lavalantula! And yes, dear fans of Demon Souls, this lava-breathing spider with its ember hairs is an excellent representation of a certain boss. Pure awesome!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good; on a rules-language level, the pdf is similarly precise and juggles complex and rewarding concepts, with only a few and mostly cosmetic complaints on my part. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full-color artworks provided are nice and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Perry Fehr and Aaron Hollingsworth both are talented authors that sometimes stumble over rules language; it is my pleasure to report that the team has absolutely excelled in what they bring to the table in this pdf. The dragon thanes are an amazing departure from the endless repetition of the classic draconic deity tropes, one that taps deeply into components of myths and reconfigures them in amazing, innovative ways. There is not one thane herein that I’d consider even mediocre; beyond that, the artifacts are potent, but remain manageable and enhance the themes of their thanes via appropriate tools for their champions. The spells, finally, contain some of the most creative ones I’ve seen in a while. And the bonus pdf is damn cool as well. Purple Duck Games really rocked this one!

Beyond that, it should be noted that the mythology featured herein makes for a great way to diversify the Lost Isles campaign setting in Rite Publising’s In the Company of Dragons Expanded….or, well vice versa. The weirdness of the Lost Isles is a perfect fit for Porphyra…and the material herein is actually all OGL, which means that, theoretically, a crossover/expansion could happen.

But I’m rambling. This is a fantastic little pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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The Accursed
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/09/2018 08:43:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base class clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content. These pages are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ for digest-size, allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if your eye-sight’s good enough. This review is based on V.2 of the class.

The accursed class gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons (and no shields/armor), ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. They add Charisma bonus to AC and CMD while unarmored and also gain +1 o AC and CMD at 4th level, + 1 for every 4 levels thereafter. These bonuses even apply while the accursed is flat-footed and applies to touch AC and even while the character is helpless.

The accursed gains a 0-level SP, usable at-will at 1st level, as well as a 1st-level SP, usable 3/day. At 2nd level and every additional level thereafter, the accursed gains another SP, with twice the accursed’s class level being the limit of SPs. 0-level SPs may be used at-will; 1st – 3rd level spells can be used 3/day, 4th – 6th level spells may be used 2/day and higher level SPs only 1/day. A given spell may be chosen up to thrice; each time, you add the same uses per day to it. The accursed uses his class level as caster level for these and they are governed by Charisma.The revised edition now sports a caveat versus costly SP-abuse – 5 gp is the maximum value a material component may have of a chosen SP. Which spell-list is used? That depends on the mark of the accursed – more on that later.

As a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, the accursed may use touch of ruin – this touch attack may not be used in conjunction with other touch-based attack-forms, can be used as part of a full attack (and multiple times, should you choose), and begins at 1d4 piercing, slashing and bludgeoning damage – here, a choice and action-based switch would have been significantly more elegant regarding ability-interactions. The damage inflicted scales up to 2d8 at 20th level. These touch attacks may delivered, atk-wise, via Dex instead of Str, if desired. Touch of ruin crits on a natural 20, with x2 multiplier, and when used against objects, ignores up to ½ class levels of hardness. The accursed may channel touch of ruin through melee attacks, but loses the Charisma bonus damage and the effects of ruinations when doing so. On crits, the touch of ruin’s bonus damage is doubled, regardless of critical multipliers of weaponry etc. This ability, in short, means that the accursed can hit pretty hard from the get-go. Touch of ruin may be used as a 10 ft. ranged touch attack instead, adding +5 ft. range per every 3 accursed class levels attained.

This touch also leaves behind an arcane mark analogue – which, somewhat lame, only persists until the damage is healed. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the accursed gets to choose a ruination. These are modifications of the touch of ruin that add further effects, mostly conditions, with a save of 10 + ½ class level + Cha-mod to calculate the saving throw DC. Only one ruination that inflicts a negative condition can be used per touch of ruin.

The ruinations have been completely overhauled. In the original iteration, they were a broken mess. In the revised version, we get bonus energy damage, with more potent energies locked behind minimum levels. So yeah, huge step up. Annoying: Many use a nonsense per-combat mechanic. Insert here my rant on how per-combat mechanics make no sense in the logic of the game world. Yes, they are functional, but still. Why not just use a time—based cooldown? The ruination that nets you a skeleton for those slain is perhaps the most interesting of these. Still, as a whole, a huge step up.

Also at first level, the accursed gains meant to endure, +1 luck bonus to all saves while unarmored, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 9th level yields immunity to being targeted with divination spells and effects – and in the revised version, the accursed can actually activate or deactivate the ability, thankfully. At 19th level, the accursed is no longer considered to be part of her race for the purpose of spells, effects, etc.and loses the negative ability score modifiers of a race, if any. The capstone yields at-will bestow curse as an SP. Additionally, the class becomes immune to ability damage, drain and all curse-spells…which is WEIRD.

Now, as hinted at, 1st level requires the most important choice of the class, namely the mark – these marks govern the spell-list used by the afflicted to determine SPs available and provide abilities at 3rd, 7th, 13th and 17th damage. Here, we can find, for example condition immunities and touch abilities. Take the afflicted: These fellows get a touch of ruin-upgrade that inflicts 4 points of Con damage, now thankfully with a save and more daily uses. In contrast to the original, ability-interaction now works. The mark in question allows for the carrying of diseases, provides condition immunities to fatigued and exhausted at 13th level and proceeds to net poison and swarm damage immunity. Sin-touched nets Wisdom-damage according to a similar paradigm and provides negative/positive damage resistance that scales up to immunity, etc. The mindscarred can cause Int-damage and gets scaling DR/magic (upgraded to magic and silver later) and gains finally true seeing – here, there’s a minor layout glitch: The italicization (i) wasn’t properly closed, remaining as a remnant. Spellburnt accursed gain energy resistances, limited quickened SPs and SR for hostile spells only. The witchmarked represents a deviation from this formula, instead providing claws that upgrade in damage, crit-mod, etc. Once more, a remnant (i) is there.

The pdf has archetypes: Guarded accursed exchange the curse powers of the marks with an animal companion, though the animal gains +2 Wis, -2 Cha (min 1), +2 to saves at 7th level, Improved Natural Attack at 13th and immunity to mind-affecting effects at 17th level Yeah…that’s pretty much better than the mark abilities. Problem: Guess who doesn’t have Handle Animal as a class skill to train animal companions? Bingo, the accursed. The archetype should grant that.

The Sealed are locked in their armor, which is an AMAZING idea. While the archetype could do more with it, the revised version actually makes it work, so kudos. Yes, you can sleep in it. There is a “one/once”-typo, but that’s cosmetic.

The supplemental feats alas, still sport the strange seesawing tendency: 1/day, you can render a target staggered via Intimidate – PERMANENTLY. Sure, Will-save to negate, but I have no idea what the save DC/governing attribute is. It can also be upgraded to 3-day paralysis and even death, but none of these uses has been properly codified regarding effect types. DR/cold iron. A couple of sucky SPs and minor skill boosts can be found alongside minor speed increase while fleeing in fear (can become useless if you become immune…just sayin’)…and then there is the feat which lets you choose from lists other than your mark’s, which is vastly stronger than the above. Formatting has improved, though, and a 1/day evade death trick that makes you a very convincing “corpse” at -1 HP is an interesting continuation of the survivor-angle.

The pdf concludes with a massive favored class option benefit array that sports some decent, if repetitive options for a wide variety of races – big plus: The benefits have the races to which they apply in brackets – much better than an endless list with repeating entries. Sure, individual entries would have been nice, but yeah.

The pdf comes with a bonus-pdf containing the gorgeous Porphyrite Drake, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr – the critter clocks in at CR 11, can pass porphyrite borders, bypasses all DRs but DR/- and they can 3/day grant themselves speed-bursts. Oh, and know what? They are shredders in melee. And have a breath that teleports the subjected targets to locations of their choice. Oh yes. Dragon with portals. When played right, this critter is devious gold.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have been significantly improved. While the original was almost non-functional, this one may have a couple of minor glitches and verbiage-deviations, but works as written. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard with nice full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

First of all: Huge props to Cascade Chain and Von Krieger. Their suggestions have obviously helped Aaron Hollingsworth’s accursed a great deal. As written, the class is now basically a very hard-hitting, yet pretty fragile guy who’ll get a lot of immunities, courtesy of the survivor-angle and vibe the class aims for. The concept of the class is strong and I very much like cursed fighters like the direlock, hellion, malefactor, malefex, etc. – the accursed fills the cursed witch/monk-niche and the ideas that can be glimpsed at in a couple of the fluffy components, are promising. The execution of the idea, while now significantly better than before, could have been more interesting, though. The class is very much melee/close combat-centric, but doesn’t really allow for good defenses or a sustained presence there. The mark and how it is conveyed via the touch of ruin, as well as the ruination-options, are, while now functional, not exactly breath-taking. They are the usual suspects, upgrade-wise, and don’t really offer for a truly distinct playing experience. Particularly in comparison with direlock and malefex, this feels like less than it could have been.

That being said, if you’re looking for an easy to grasp class in that vein, this may well be worth taking a look at. I’ve been sitting on the original version’s review for a while (it was a 1.5 star-debacle) and the revised edition has really improved the class; it is now playable. Internal balancing is much tighter, though the supplemental material like archetypes and feats still…well, is not exactly perfect.

So yeah, not a mindblowing class, but a vast improvement over its beginnings – kudos for the effort of making it work. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Unchained Summoner Codex
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/07/2018 04:27:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a few nice bits of prose, we learn about how summoners work within the patchwork planet of Porphyra: This section may be brief, but it adds a significant amount of flavor to the class. To give you an example: “The “soul companions” that summoners supervise, called ‘eidolons’ in the magica lexica of the Colleges of Magic…“ – there are multiple aspects here that rock: By calling the relationship “supervising”, we establish a hierarchy and all its components; the mention of the magica lexica contextualizes the uncommon word eidolon; there are colleges of magic and by tying eidolons to the soul of the summoner, we can assume a place within the context of planar geography. It’s a small sentence and one that can easily be ignored, but at the same time, it may easily be employed to inspire the GM. As you know by now, a crucial conflict of Porphyra would be the one between the Deists that serve the NewGods and the followers of the elemental lords. As such, we get a new faith trait for +1 to hit (should probably be a trait bonus) against summoners and eidolons of the opposing faction. The trait can obviously be pretty easily extrapolated to instead apply to other organizations, should you choose to go that route.

In case the title wasn’t ample clue, this book is all about a massive array of unchained summoner stats, including the respective eidolons. If you’re like me and just don’t have the time to crunch the numbers of a ton of such characters, well, there you go. But are they any good, or are they just throwaway stats? Well, first of all, the range covered is pretty massive: We gets stats ranging from level 1 to level 20 (CR ½ to CR 19); It should also be noted that the builds employ the diverse and unique races that can be found on Porphyra, but you do not necessarily need access to the respective races – the statblocks are functional without them. It should also be noted that, and this is a plus, the respective characters get brief fluff-texts that range from a brief paragraph to almost a page. So if you need a CHARACTER instead of just a statblock, this book has you covered. If you also enjoy Porphyra, you’ll be happy to note that the statblocks mention the homeland of a character as well as their faith. It’s just a little line and something you can ignore in other settings, but I really enjoyed this component.

All right, let’s begin, shall we? The first character would be Q’kar, a zendiqi (think xenophobic ultra-hardliner servants of the elemental lords…one of my favorite ethnicities available for PFRPG, just as an aside); while his CR is only ½, he is a bit of a romantic, dubbing his eidolon “The Sands of Vengeance”, which may be played for laughs, should the GM choose to do so: The creature is a pile of smoking, sandy dirt…but from humble origins, prophets and leaders may be born…so yeah, nice. Minor complaint: The fluff-text sports a layout remnant: An italicization wasn’t properly closed, with only the (i) open before a term, but that’s a cosmetic hiccup.

Hailing from the war-torn lotus blossom steppes, Xioudhra is next, and the lady doe have a fitting, serpentine eidolon. Why “fitting”?, Well, she is a half-medusa, only recently exiled for dabbling in necromancy, and while she currently is selling her services and that of her demon-worm eidolon, her ambitions do reach much higher. Fheldind the nange is a member of the “Robot Patrol Legion”, an ultra-lawful “more law-abiding than thou” hassle…and, well, in a unique twist, he is actually in love with Parrs, his eidolon – a sentiment that may be mutual. Some interesting roleplaying potential here!

Eedrilar, at CR 3, would be a killer-for-hire; the karza-drow is a male and as such, he is not deemed fit for military duty, but his daemon-arachnid eidolon does make for a powerful adversary. Arozarza is a nice example that not all builds here are evil or straightforward: the feykissed lady has the fey caller archetype and is accompanied by the golden-furred fox-lady Serene; with a benevolent trickster-bent, the two make for really neat allies for the PCs. Anydene would be a saurian and her eidolon has been dubbed “green devil”, for the two behave as pretty tyrannical bullies. This is btw. as good a place as any to note that the respective characters do sport extensive noted on behavior before and during combat, as well as on morale. Whle these may be small components, it makes running the NPCs easier and adds further character to them.

Ashub is a very powerful foe: The strix and his eidolon Diassos are the lone guards of a remote pass, but considering their aerial supremacy, they make a formidable pair of assailants. Giram Bazamgun, at CR 7, is an anpur and, mechanics-wise had the unwavering conduit archetype applied. He and his silvery eidolon, which emulates an empyreal lord, are stalwart guardians of their city of tombs – a position that is equally likely to put them into conflict with the PCs or make them a potent ally. Vieletta would be an enigmon, seeking the means to heal her sundered homeland. Her eidolon is usually only called upon in combat. Okay, at CR 9, we have an ogrillon blood god disciple, a potent lady called Ibal, who is btw. not evil: She is a recruiter for the gladiatorial arenas, with her eidolon being serpentine – in fluff, it assumes the shape of a thick, wildly mutable rope (!!), adept at transporting recruits and targets: Whether you want to run this pair as pressganging or as hunters of escaped convicts etc. remains up to your needs as a GM.

Ridis the lizardfolk is the heir of the tradition of island-keeper, tasked with guarding the ecosystem within the Rainbow Islands, and as such, sports the naturalist archetype. His eidolon takes the shape of an electric blue seal with articulated limbs. Yeah, awesome! I mean, come on: The idea of a lizardfolk nature protector isn’t new…but the lizard guy with the fast and deadly, blue seal-thing? Heck yeah, the PCs will remember this fellow! It’s just a few words, but they elevate the statblock and make the difference between fire-and-forget and remarkable.

Buma would be a muse, living in the futuristic ruins of Faldon town, her angelic eidolon guarding her sky-tower. She is also intensely disliked by the muse-leaders of nearby goblin and kobold factions. One paragraph – all it takes for an interesting adventure set-up. Talvius would be an eventual that has the evolutionist archetype. He is also an important guardian: In the oceans of Porphyra, there is a neutral ground, a meeting place for the gods, where even dreaded Mâl (typo here: “M^al”) respects the sanctity of the place. This island, masked from the most potent of magics, is where Talvius roams, with his potent eidolon guarding the place: A perfect, bronze warrior, this being is Talos. Yeah, you would be correct in assuming that this is a deliberate nod towards real-world mythology, one that is, btw., also explained in detail, should you not be familiar with it.

Okay, so, this goes above and beyond – next would be the goblin Milnun,a broodmaster – who comes not with one, but two distinct eidolons: The quadruped Cornerstone and the serpentine Slurry: This fellow comes with a fully depicted folk-lay of the Great Green. To give you an excerpt:

The Elemental Lords are gone,

banished, so is true-

That doesn’t stop the screams of pain

when Milnun comes for you…

His pets are fierce, their eyes they flash,

there’s none like them to view-

When Cornerstone and Slurry call,

they call, my friend, for you…

Come on, that is damn cool! I can actually hear this as a song/creepy ditty to foreshadow his arrival. An agent provocateur of sorts, he definitely makes for a cool and fearsome foe. (As an aside: Kudos for going the high road here: More often than not, archetypes that require more statblocks are not covered at all in such compilations, much less so at the higher levels where the stats require serious work…)

The orca-like humanoids called Orcam are one interesting race; the CR 14 summoner Mogarz sports an aquatic eidolon that is actually an agathion, whom she refers to as Endren, her water-spirit-self, adding a tint of the mystical to her take on her abilities. In a nice bonus, her ability to summon swarms is complemented by the fully statted samuqi swarm (CR 2), which may be called with the spell: A chubby fish that is actually quite tasty and may manifest as a rolling wave of silver and blue scales, teeth a-gleaming. Nice. The erkunae called Grunglei is a powerful CR 15 spirit summoner, who received her gifts as a result of blundering into a facility attempting to split dimensions, artificially bestowing her powers – the Advent Imperiax, the region where that happened, did not take kindly to this and thus, she had to flee home to Erkusaa, where she inherited Yrlyk’s ref ring of paragons, which allows the wielder to apply the elder beast template to summoned creatures (with a limit) and add nature spirits to the list of beings that may be called. Additionally, the powerful ring does allow for the 1/day summoning of a Medium (not capitalized) nature spirit as an SP…and the ring allows for something special: Once, and only once, the wearer can summon a frickin’ animal lord. The entity will demand the ring as payment, but oh boy. I really like this ring, but frankly, I think it is badly underpriced at 16K; I’d strongly suggest to make it a unique item that cannot be crafted or duplicated. Anyway, Grunglei’s eidolon behaves as a psychopomp, as befitting her ties to the spirit world. Once more, an intriguing character.

Thoning is a polkan. A really evil one. She will mess you up. Probably in melee. Wait, what? At AC 29, wielding a frickin’ impact greatsword with Improved Critical, she and her eidolon Crongy worship Ul’Ul, the Mad Maiden; There is a cult (members are known as “oolies” for licking raw Uliun ore) and she is a potent member…and a perfect example for another dimension, in which this pdf goes beyond what you’d require or expect: As you can glean from the uncommon build employed here, the book does a damn fine job of alternating builds and themes. There is no “this guy has the same build, just at a higher level”-case in this book; the respective summoners are all distinct, often radically so. This distinction is represented, in case you haven’t noticed, in both fluff and crunch. The character also comes with the spell uliun spray, which is imho a bit too strong for second level, spraying the drug-like substance, causing the targets to gain 1d4 Charisma while the drug’s effects persist, but also take 1d4 Wisdom damage. That being said, I do like the idea here and considering the flavor of the cult and the presentation, limiting access to the spell is very much intended, which kinda makes it okay.

At mighty CR 17, Irnu is a satyrine shadow caller and one of the most potent beings of her race. The mighty captain of the Shadowmask (whose full vehicle stats are included!!!) would probably be more prestigious, were it not for her worship of Lyvalia, anathema to her race. With a troubled past, her eidolon Yulalon is a manifestation of the kytons and adds a powerful ally to her already formidable capabilities. General Lairona is a level 19 master summoner of the fetchling race. She hails from the nation of Hesteria, which sports the planar anomaly called “The Wall of Sleep”; it is General Lairona that is the chief administrator of the wall, tasked with preventing it from disgorging unimaginable nightmares upon the land. Muted and effacing, one would not consider her to be part of the ruling council – though her potent angelic eidolon, her mirror-image, in a way, should make that very much clear. A true hero of a character and a great patron for the most potent of PCs.

The final character herein would be Guriel, a mighty dragonblooded unchained summoner, whose background speaks of the mighty Red King and other legends that are born on a regular basis; he is assumed to be no less than a cousin of the dreaded Red King, and his eidolon is often mistaken for a demon lord. Taking at look at its stats, I can understand why.

The pdf does come with a bonus file penned by Purple Duck mastermind Mark Gedak. The new creature herein sports one of the cutest artworks ever: Atop the critter, we can see a tiny faerie warrior riding it into battle. We are, of course, talking about the drum roll Cr ½ battle corgi!! And yes, beyond combat training, these cute doggies are particularly resilient against fear and despair, courtesy of their optimism special ability. Minor complaint: I would have loved to see animal companion stats for them.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, can be situated between good and very good. While there are a few instances of minor hiccups, as a whole, this aspect is well-done. Regarding rules-language, the pdf is rather precise. Here and there, I disagree with minor components of the supplemental material, but the statblocks per se are impressive. While I did not attempt to reverse-engineer all of them, the ones I took apart are solid. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a couple of neat full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I’ll make this short. Buy this book. Now. Okay, you really want to know, in detail, why? All right, all right.

Justin P. Sluder knows his NPC-builds; the man that brought you the amazing stats of many of Rite Publishing’s complex and cool adversaries has a ridiculous talent when it comes to creating truly distinct and cool builds; Perry Fehr knows Porphyra like no other (with the exception of Mark Gedak himself) and is an immensely talented weaver of lore. The synergy between these two authors is inspiring to witness. This pdf goes one step beyond in pretty much every way possible: Not content with simple slapping some stats together, the book is steeped in truly amazing lore that would honestly make this worth getting on its own. This book acts as a formidable pitch of the Porphyra-setting; while the statblocks per se can be used in any game, the respective fluff is utterly inspiring, taking us on a grand tour through the patch-work planet…and, in the tradition of Purple Duck Games, the components can be scavenged really easily. From strange place to wondrous islands, even if you don’t play in Porphyra, you could easily just pick concepts and regions out of this book.

So, that’s how the pdf goes one step beyond in the fluff-department: We get an impressive array of inspiring material here. In the crunch-department, I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer diversity of the characters herein: We don’t get sequential builds that obviously are just higher-level continuations of previous stats, instead opting for wholly unique characters and builds. These builds run the gamut from the more classical to the utterly unexpected and often are utterly inspiring and fantastic. The unique races of the setting are employed efficiently and the pdf does not shirk away from more work-intense archetypes either. Heck, we even get a proper ship-statblock for the ship of one of the characters!

This is one of Purple Duck games’ patreon-releases, and it is glorious. It shows care, oozes passion. This is one of the rare NPC Codices that is actually a joy to read. Yes. You heard me. In spite of the massive statblock density, I had a blast reading this book. We all know how much work summoner statblocks can be. This book takes that burden from your shoulders and goes not one, but two extra miles. It provides thoroughly unique and captivating villains and allies, many of which could become recurring characters or even carry whole adventures or even campaigns. Heck, if this does not get your creative juices flowing, I don’t know what will. So, beyond being inspiring, this is also extremely handy and useful to have. Whether you only care about the stats, or only about the lore/character ideas, this pdf is worth getting. Suffice to say, I assume that you’ll care for both…and in such a case, you will beam with glee and wonder. My final verdict, in spite of a few glitches here and there, will be 5 stars + seal of approval. This is amazing.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Persecutor
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 02/01/2018 04:14:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages fo SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The persecutor is a hybrid of alchemist and ranger and gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor, as well as shields, excluding tower shields. The persecutor gains basically the alchemist’s alchemy ability, gaining access to extracts of up to 6th level, which is governed by Intelligence.

A persecutor begins play with darkvision 60 ft. (or +30 ft., if he already has darkvision), and adds his Intelligence bonus as an insight bonus to Will-saves versus spells and SPs from the illusion school. A persecutor also gains mutagen, and may select Extra Discovery as though he had the discovery class feature, but only for the purpose of selecting discoveries that augment mutagen or extracts. The persecutor also begins play with Track, gaining +1/2 class level to Survival checks made to follow tracks.

Instead of bombs, the persecutor gains the supernatural Signs ability. Making a sign requires one free hand and does not provoke AoOs. A persecutor may use signs class level + Intelligence modifier times per day. A sign generates a 15 ft.-cone that inflicts 1d4 fire damage “per 2 persecutor levels” – which isn’t per se correct. The wording here is slightly wonky, for signs inflict damage at 1st level and increase this at 3rd level by +1d4, plus another 1d4 at 5th level and every odd level thereafter. Alternatively, the persecutor may shape the sign as a 20 ft.-line “as a non-action” – that isn’t really how this is phrased in PFRPG, but it conveys the meaning, at least. The Reflex save to halve sign damage is 10 +1/2 class level + Int-mod.

Starting at 2nd level, the persecutor treats his class level as his BAB for the purpose of qualifying for feats. Additionally, the class gets a so-called discipline at this level, with another one gained at every even level thereafter. These disciplines basically cover what you’d expect from discovery-bomb modification: Acid, bludgeoning, piercing, slashing or cold damage, bane (sporting an (i)-relic in a botched italicization), changing damage at 10th level optionally to sonic or force…It’s a bit weird that force is considered to be as potent as sonic here, but that is really design-aesthetics. Combat feats gained by mutagens, poison use and resistance, quarry at 12th level and quicker weapons witching can be found.

Ranger combat style feats may also be gained this way, and no, you can’t select more and you can’t cheese the level-prerequisites. The explosive bolt discipline, unlocked at 4th level for the taking, is potentially brutal: You can add a sign to a bullet/bolt/arrow – if you hit the target, the sign triggers, sans save. There are a couple of issues here. 1) Do you have control of the direction of the sign effect? 2) When the missile misses, the sign does not trigger, so can the infused ammo be collected again? 3) On a miss, does that expend a sign use? 4) Does the infusion of a sign have a duration? I assume no, but RAW, you could infuse a ton of arrows and stockpile them. There is another issue: The firing of the infused bullet does include loading e.g. a firearm, which can be a bit messy. Favored terrain is also a discipline… There is also one discipline that nets you a pool of free action healing while under the effects of a mutagen. You may have noticed that, but the internal balance of these is not necessarily perfect – there are some significantly more potent options.

3rd level nets Endurance and swift alchemy. At 4th level, the persecutor gains a special medallion, which nets constant detect magic as well as +3 to initiative, which increases by a further +1 at 8th, 12th and 18th level. This medallion occupies the neck slot. 7th level nets woodland stride, 8th level swift tracker and 9th level evasion. 12th level lets the persecutor apply his Intelligence modifier to Will-saves versus all spells and SPs…which generates a bit of a weird situation: At 1st level, it’s the BONUS that applies to saves versus illusions; here, it’s the MODIFIER - there is an important difference here: A modifier may be negative. 15th level nets persistent mutagen, 16th level improved evasion and 20th level provides constant arcane sight and echolocation plus 2 disciplines.

There are 3 feats included: +1 discipline, +2 signs uses and 1/day tongues as an SP, +1/day per 2 class levels. We get a MASSIVE favored class option-list for several of the Porphyran races and while there is some overlap between them, as a whole, they are decent.

The pdf comes with a cool bonus-pdf that contains a new monster penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, the CR 4 emissary of the starfallen, a distorted, Large replica of a wasp, suffused with electricity. The critter is really cool!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay: There are a couple of obvious formatting glitches that imho should have been caught. On a rules-language level, we have a couple of issues, though, for the most part, no game-breakers. Internal balancing could be a bit tighter. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard with purple highlights. The artworks on the covers of the regular and bonus pdf both are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

So, in case alchemy and signs weren’t an indication, let me spell it out for you: This fellow basically is a The Witcher-class sans bombs; Aaron Hollingsworth’s persecutor thus takes one of my favorite concepts, bar none, and makes it a class…that unfortunately falls short of what it could have easily been. Instead of making the signs an interesting, additional tool in the character’s arsenal, it just is a tweak of bombs; the balance of sign and ranger-based options is a bit strange, the distinct options fall short of generating truly distinct playing experience.

And, you know, this could have been so much cooler: Picture this: Bombs added, distinct signs added and a talent-based, unique self-buffing engine; now, make all these resources tied to toxicity, analogue to the witcher games: You could generate a truly unique and captivating engine that plays radically different than the parent classes. As written, the persecutor doesn’t really manage to really differentiate itself sufficiently from its parents. The class, while flawed, remains functional, though; the bonus critter is nice and if you have less demanding standards than I do for classes, then this guy may provide some fun for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Steel and Fury (DCC)
par Tim B. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/24/2018 15:43:56

Steel and Fury is a perfect add-on to the DCC RPG, specifically for martial characters like the Warrior and Dwarf. Besides the obvious -- adding dozens of new maneuvers to the Mighty Deeds of Action -- this book scores enormous points for including the original Deeds from the DCC RPG, as well as copious lists of weapons that are optimized for specific deeds. By collecting all the Deeds from the rulebook plus the new ones in one resource, it's super easy for players to operate from one of the DCC RPG quickstarts or otherwise not have to flip through two books to reference the rules. The aforementioned lists make this resource doubly useful because it allows for some additional differentiation in regards to weapon choices vs. Deeds characters might gravitate towards. Martial characters don't get as many choices and tactics as spellcasters do in some ways, and this added variety and forethought on the author's part makes this book a solid five stars!



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[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards
par Matthew W. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 01/17/2018 20:55:20

This has been and continues to be one of the most useful purchases I've made; it seems like every group I GM has a player that likes to summon. I print out the appropriate cards and hand them over; the player can keep track of their own creations and it frees me up to concentrate on the monsters and NPCs. Great idea, great execution.



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Fighters of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/10/2018 04:06:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised and (significantly) improved version

The revised edition of Fighters of Porphyra clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, which are laid out for use as a digest-size (6’’ by 9’’ or A5), which means that you can print this out and fit up to 4 pages on a page, making it pretty printer-friendly.

The revised pdf sports V.1.1. on the cover, just fyi.

All righty, after the original pdf took a sound beating from yours truly, the Purple Duck crew didn’t just shrug and move on; instead, they sat down and made this upgraded version, so how does it hold up?

Well, first of all, you’ll note that the original pdf’s proposed global rules-changes have been modified: We get 4 + Int mod skills per level and Perception becomes a class skill. A fighter’s Intelligence, if below 13, is treated as 13 for the purpose of prerequisites, representing a workaround for the annoying ability tax. Furthermore, fighters in Porphyra gain good Will-saves. Helpful: All of these proposed rules-changes are explained, including ramifications, making it easy for the GM to determine whether or not to implement them.

The pdf also sports two proposed, new skill uses: Craft gets basically a no-hassle version of its mechanics, which, while not perfect, should be suitable for less simulationalist games. Knowledge (nobility) is expanded to include knowledge of the lore of the land, fighting styles, etc., which makes sense.

One of the issues that combat maneuver specialists will encounter would be the steep feat tax – the pdf suggests the option to merge a couple of them for the purpose of using them: E.g. Improved Bull Rush and Improved Overrun constitute a set; Succeeding on a check with a 10+ margin allows for the application of a feat in the same set as well. This works surprisingly smoothly and significantly better than the somewhat ill-advised original concept of halved feats – kudos for salvaging a very much worthwhile concept.

Okay, the first massive surprise comes in the archetype-section – the Doppelsoldner. (Purely aesthetic nitpick – it should be Doppelsöldner; Söldner being German (Singular and Plural) for mercenary/ies.) These fellows are usually not good or chaotic and modify their proficiency-list to encompass simple and martial melee weapon, simple ranged weapons as well as all armors, but not shields. Instead of the bonus combat feats gained at 2nd, 6th, 12th and 18th level and the lost proficiencies, these fellows gain a linear series of abilities called doppelsöldner drills, focusing on using two-handed weapons. At 1st level, when charging an enemy provokes AoOs, that is double damage for the attack; combat maneuvers instead ignore size restrictions – this still can only be used with brace weapons, but makes for a potent tool; 2nd level nets an AoO triggered, but only 1/round. 4th level adds brace/trip to any two-handed melee weaponry wielded and may substitute melee attacks for a distinct set of maneuvers. Penalty-less attacks versus foes within a weapon’s reach and using weapons as though the item had various qualities, adding reach to regular two-handed weaponry…all in all, interesting, particularly, since the archetype gets the interaction with magical movement codified right. Interesting 2-hand-weapon-specialist.

Next up would be the Elusid, who must be good, gains a modified class skill list and for each skill rank they put in Intimidate, they also gain a rank of Diplomacy…but ONLY for the purpose of making moral arguments. Evil creatures are unfazed. Putting actual ranks into Diplomacy lets them use these as usual – basically, it splits Diplomacy…and is a cool way to depict a rhetorical specialist. This replaces the tower shield proficiency. At 2nd level, elusids gain morale reserve, measured in morale points equal to ½ class level + Charisma modifier. As an immediate action, an elusid may spend 1 such point to grant himself and all allies within 30 ft. a +1 morale bonus on saves. The bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter and the ability codifies multi-target effects properly. 3rd level nets the ability to use this bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks, while 7th level allows for something rather cool, namely penalizing a variety of actions by moral reserve while a foe’s threatened by the elusid; kudos: The pdf managed to cover rules-behavior for actions that constitute as multiple triggering conditions. 11th level lets the elusid use morale reserve to bolster himself against spells and effects with certain descriptors, while 15th level nets the ability to affect multiple targets, while the capstone prevents changes of alignment, as well as being disarmed. The archetype comes with a nice code of conduct…and is a winner. It is interesting, provides meaningful options, has a strong leitmotif and makes for a great mundane, good fighter-face – think Roy from OOTS: The moral compass of the group, with tactics, minor buds, etc. – still very much a fighter, but one that is beholden to ideals without becoming a divine-themed pala. In fact, in a deity-less campaign, I’d consider these guys to be e.g. perfect stand-ins for enlightened humanist martial artists. As a neat plus: Palas that fall can trade in their levels for elusid if they’re still good – in a campaign where the deity turns out to be evil/is corrupted, that can make for an amazing angle.

Giant killers lose medium and heavy armor proficiency and are immune to fear effects caused by humanoids with the giant subtype. Instead of 3rd level’s armor training, these fellows gain scaling bonuses to AC and Reflex-saves while only wearing light armor. Now,, 7th level’s rock evasion interacts with that and also mentions a house-rule I’d strongly suggest pretty much everyone should adopt in one guise or another: 3.X/PFRPG vanilla Rock throwing is wimpy as all hell; either via items, mythic tiers, feats or templates or as a houserule, make them touch attacks that act as ranged bull rush maneuvers. Usually, I’d be weary of such a suggested houserule, but in this case, I can only wholeheartedly applaud it – not only does it make the already pretty wimpy PF-giants more potent, it also enhances the impact of the archetype…and makes sense in game. Oh, and I’ve been playing with basically this by slightly different rules-basics in my home-game forever, so yeah – works!

11th level lets the giant killer move sans provoking AoOs from giants and 15th level nets free overrun, regardless of size, with the scaling bonus added. Additionally, giants felled take damage and 19th level lets the giant killer redirect attacks against adjacent Large or larger creatures. Cool take on the anti-giant specialist.

The immortal would be a racial archetype and must be zendiqi or one of the genasi-races (infrit, oread, sylph, undine); the immortal may not be chaotic and loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency. They begin play with the special weapon and tiarah of their brotherhood; the weapon and tiarah are upgraded later and focus the honor of the character; loss is problematic. The weapon allows for pretty early bypassing of a variety of DRs, while the tiarah nets a save-bonuses versus visual, audible, sonic, and language-dependent effects and occupies the head-slot. 1st level immortals are locked into Old Porphyran as a starting language, representing the insular and xenophobic outlook of the champions of the elemental lords. Starting at 5th level, immortals start inflicting bonus energy damage depending on race (genasi) or bayit (zendiqi) with a chosen weapon group, which is later enhanced, while new weapon groups are unlocked. 7th level nets Leadership with another immortal as a cohort.

Janissaries would be up next; slaves trained and conditioned for war, they lose heavy armor and tower shield proficiency, but gain one firearm proficiency. They treat scimitars as light weapons and may use Weapon Finesse to apply +Dex-mod to damage instead of Str-mod. Additionally, we get Amateur Gunslinger. Instead of bravery, we get save-bonuses representing conditioning. Instead of 7th level’s potential for full movement in heavy armor, we get the option to immediate action attack with specialized weapons when moving in and out of being adjacent to an enemy.

The Itsukami (aka Lone Wolf) is all about using blades as an aggressive means of defense – foes that roll natural 1s may see their weaponry (or bodies) damaged and the archetype nets improved uncanny dodge as well as the option to add weapon enhancement bonuses to AC, with higher levels pulling off the delimiters of blocking edge without breaking it. Next up would be the Meirger’s, who represent mystic warriors. The editing here is a bit weaker than in the rest of the pdf, they can’t decide whether they’re meiriger, merigers or meirgers. The archetype gets a modified class skill list and at 5th level, adds a chosen energy type as bonus damage to attacks with a chosen weapon group. Cool: The ability differentiates between easier resisted and less common energy types – kudos for that and not lumping them all into one group….though I have a rather big issue with positive and negative energy dealing damage to both living and undead, since RAW, vanilla options provide no means to resist either…and there are ramifications for these suddenly affecting creatures that would usually be immune to them on a cosmology-level…so yeah, not a big fan of that decision. The upgrade component of this component has been properly covered.

Next up would be the pawns, who gain decreased starting wealth and only training with light armor and simple weapons as well as regular shields. These fellows begin with a trade (represented by Craft/Profession) as a means to gather information as though using Diplomacy. They also gain an additional trait and may choose more at higher levels. Interesting: They gain bonuses against targets whose CR exceeds their HD – while this is a bit meta-gamey for my tastes, it does convey the idea of the underequipped hero triumphing against the odds. Pawns have good Will-saves – if fighters already get it due to using the global rules, they get more skills per level. We also get a scaling AC bonus instead of armor training and mastery and at 5th level, the option to treat simple weapons as their own weapon group.

Primevals lose martial weapon and heavy armor and shield proficiency, and are only proficient with simple melee weapons as well as dart, javelin, sling and shortbow. They gain claw attacks (properly codified) that scale as monk unarmed attacks – nice: The limitation of iterative attacks for natural weapons is noted. The primeval may add combat maneuvers to crits via immediate actions and later increases the threat-range of the claws; basically, we have a claw/maneuver specialist here, one that makes most sense in conjunction with the suggested maneuver-set-rules, though it does work without them.

Spellfighters get a modified class skill list and gains proficiency in simple and martial melee weapons as well as simple ranged weapons and light armor. The archetype can cast arcane spells sans failure chance in light armor. Kudos: Only works for the archetype’s spells, which are btw. Cha-governed and are drawn from the wizard list, but only abjuration, evocation and conjuration (creation) spells may e chosen and all other spells are not on the spell-list. The spellcasting progression extends to 6th spell level – basically spontaneous spellcasting. These fellows get +2 to concentration, but MUST deliver spells with a range of touch via a mandatory form of spellstrike…and as a balancing tool for full BAB, the archetype can only deliver such spells when hitting regular AC, making touch attack spells behave as basically regular attacks. The archetype also gets the touch spell weapon group and higher levels provide the expected medium and heavy armor upgrades.

The varonis, the final archetype herein, would be a representation of the wandering folk hero: As such, the archetype loses heavy armor and tower shield proficiency in favor of an exotic weapon and may use Handle Animal, Survival and Profession to gather information – you know, working and getting info, as noted in many a tale. We also get bonuses to a few skills and initiative while near roads, dodge bonuses while wearing light armor or none and 5th level rewards skirmishing by adding combat maneuver tricks to standard action attacks, an ability that is expanded at higher levels for an actually working combo engine – nice.

The equipment section provides a variant of the healer kit that allows for multiple daily deadly wound treatments (nice); a second variant allows for substituting Fort-saves for Heal, but provides scarification and Wisdom damage…which makes all kinds of sense to me. You know, the drug-heavy field-medic-style kit? Cool! A helmet that can be used for bite attacks (a s a secondary natural attack) and acts as an exotic weapon can also be found; Tinderclubs that may ignite and we get a weapon particularly associated with janissaries, the trench gun. Then, we get weapon modifications…and, as you know, I’m a huge fanboy of Bloodborne, so yeah: Banghammer with gunpowder? Hybrid weapons? That section is really cool and could have carried a pdf of its own, at least in my book.

The feats are interesting: Combat Prudence acts as Combat Expertise for the purpose of prerequisites and allows you to take a -4 penalty to initiative for +2 AC for one combat. Charge/grapple-combo, better bracing, bypassing DR when inflicting unarmed damage in grapples (not a fan of not differentiating between DRs here, scaling ignoring based on HD would have been more sensible)…but I particularly like the feats to make tower shields Pavises, requiring no longer a hand to hold them when thus set up. Crossbow and firearm specialists will relish the option to add Dex-mod to damage with their chosen weapon – kudos: The feat has a neat anti-abuse caveat. We also get Quick Sheathe as a concept done well. No, that is not all here, but yeah – nice section.

The final part of the pdf contains magic items: There would be a longsword that nets you a lesser globe of invulnerability while drawn; we get an interesting special weapon quality to attack foes with cover or shields…but which may only be applied to very light weapons (2 lbs. or less) as a balancing tool and reason to use such weapons. Mass-produced janissary shields are here as well, and we get a quality for AoOs when an opponent rolls a natural 1 on an attack against the wielder, missiles that quell energy…cool. An armor that unveils nearby Stealth-ing/invisible targets and a particular type of immortal tiarah complement this section.

The pdf comes with a bonus file, the Blindbraun monster by David N. Ross – CR 2, undead dwarves with a horrid wail and a blinding gaze.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting of the revised version are very good on a rules language level and similarly, for the most part, very tight on a formal level. Apart from a couple of minor hiccups, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The pdf sports a couple of nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks, etc.

The revision of Aaron Hollingworth’s “Fighters of Porphyra” is a vast improvement. Bringing Carl Cramér on board was obviously a good idea: You see, the original file sported a significant assortment of really cool IDEAS, but the execution was pretty problematic; the rules had issues and didn’t manage to capitalize on the concepts. This pdf, then, would be a case study in why I consider developers and rules editors to be the unsung heroes of the roleplaying scene: I checked the original pdf back to back with this one and the improvements, in many of the small components, are MASSIVE. It’s often with minimal incisions, but suddenly, there are properly working, meaningful engine-tweaks that emphasize the concepts of the archetypes. The most significant improvement, beyond the numerous small tweaks that make stuff, you know, work, would be the complete rewrite of the elusid (now one of my favorite archetypes herein!) and the feat-set-concept. Big kudos! The weapon mod section could carry its own book, just fyi.

How to rate this, then? Well, it’s not on the same amazing-levels as Witches of Porphyra, but it is now a proper addition to the series, on par with the quality we’ve come to expect…and it is fun, diverse and makes for a worthwhile set of options. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Gestrati
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 01/02/2018 10:30:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted that the content is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means that you can potentially fit 4 pages on one sheet of paper when printing this.

The gestrati is a hybrid of unchained monk and sorcerer and gains d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Fort-saves, 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency in simple weapons. Important: A gestrati wearing armor loses his AC bonus (Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD, at 4th level +1, increase by a further +1 at every fourth level thereafter.), mudras, energy strike and somatic defense and mastery abilities. In short: You really don’t want to wear armor. The gestrati begins play with Improved Unarmed Strike and, I assume, the damage progression of the unchained monk – while the damage values by level for Small and Large monks are provided (kudos!), the ability and class table are curiously missing the damage progression for Medium-sized monks. While it is easy enough to look that up, this constitutes a slight comfort detriment.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati gains Eschew Materials and gains spellcasting based on Wisdom at 4th level; curiously, that spellcasting is spontaneous, as with the sorcerer, but it is something to bear in mind, if you’re particular about attributes correlating to spellcasting types. Anyhow, the class sports its own spellcasting list that focuses on blasting and self-improvement: burning hands, jump, silent image, etc.; The class gains spellcasting of to 4th level and the higher level options include some potent tricks – force punch, fireball, haste, wind wall at 3rd level, for example, phantasmal killer, greater invisibility, elemental body I at 4th, to give you an impression. The spell list is pretty strong, so let’s see how it ties in with the class as a whole.

At 1st level, the gestrati gains the first of the mudras – mystical hand signs. While these provide benefits tied to spells, they do something I actually like: They affect the gestrati when he takes the total defense action. A gestrati can use mudras class level + Wisdom modifier times per day and they base saves, if any on spell level and Wisdom modifier. We begin with sanctuary and expand that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter: 5th level provides magic circle against…, 10th nets repulsion, 15th mind blank and 20th level prismatic sphere. I really like mudras as a concept and tying them to total defense is really smart; however, I wish that the effects specified their duration; I assume that duration is 1 round, but as written, the ability is opaque – one could assume spell duration, one could assume “for as long as total defense is maintained”…this needs to specifically state that it only applies for the duration of the total defense action. Furthermore, while level governs the mudra in question, the ability RAW looks like it assumes that new mudras supersede the old ones; personally, I think there should be a choice here.

3rd level yields a ki pool with ½ class level + Wisdom modifier points. Starting at 7th level, the gestrati may expend spell level in ki points as a swift action to replenish a spell slot of that level; 10th level allows for the gestrati to expend 1 ki point to grant himself an enhancement bonus to attacks delivering spells via unarmed strikes, with the bonus equal to the spell level of the spell delivered. At 16th level, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as part of casting a spell to increase the DC by +2. Alternative, the gestrati can expend 1 ki point as a swift action to increase the energy damage of the energy strike class feature by +1d6. Minor complaint: That ability, since it looks like it’s not tied to levels, should probably be listed before the unlocked uses at higher levels.

So, what does this energy strike feature do? Well, as a full-round action, the gestrati may channel energy into his fists. The type of energy is chosen at first level and is either acid, cold, electricity or fire. Energy strike attacks deal +1d6 of the chosen energy type with unarmed strikes or monk weapons; this damage increases to +2d6 at 11th, +2d8 at 17th and +2d10 at 20th level. Alternatively, the energy may be projected as a ranged touch attack, with a range of 10 ft + 5 ft/2 levels. I like this class feature, though touch attack is a bit overkill for a full BAB-class, even though the projection only deals the energy damage and thus isn’t too much. A couple of bad issues have crept into this ability, alas: 1) The ability lacks a duration. I have no idea how long the energy charge lasts. 2) Since the action is a full-round action and nowhere mentions attacks being executed, I have frankly no idea how it precisely works. The ability references strikes, but yeah…not exactly ideal. 3) Does the projection ability grant iterative attacks? I like this, but rules-wise, it’s a mess.

Starting at 4th level, the gestrati can use his somatic components defensively; as a swift action, the class can spend a ki point to cast spells sans provoking AoOs. This only pertains spellcasting, not any ranged attacks made with the spell. Interesting. At 14th level, this becomes always on while the gestrati has at least one point of ki.

The main defining feature of the gestrati class would be the lineage, the analogue of the bloodline. Lineage powers are gained at 1st level, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter. These abilities are gained in a linear manner. 2nd level, 6th and every 3 levels thereafter yield a bonus feat defined by the lineage in question, and gestrati use their class level as monk levels for the purpose of determining prerequisites. 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter up until 16th level yield a new spell granted by the lineage. These spells are bonus spells and may not be exchanged/traded. One note regarding bonus feat selection – these include Style feats, but oddly, not feats based on Style feats (a common misconception – since Styles require action expenditure and have a hard cap on active Styles, the follow-up feats that are based on them, are not classified as Style feats – hence the verbiage referring to Style feats may or may not be working as intended. I assume in dubio pro reo here.)

A total of 10 lineages are provided: Aberrant, Abyssal, Arcane, Celestial, Destined, Dragon, Elemental, Fey, Infernal and Undead. Here, I once again have some positives to remark, namely that the abilities granted by the lineages themselves are nice and tie in well with the existing ability arrays. To mention a couple of examples: The aberrant lineage, for example, allows you to stagger foes on a failed save when criting them with energy strike (the power of this one is hard to judge, as energy strike is opaque); higher level options allow you to expend ki to increase your reach, nets immunity versus sickened/nauseated, etc.; among the arcane lineage’s abilities, ki-powered SPs, gaining temporary ki for saving versus potent high-level spells (cheese-proof), properly codified anti-outsider attacks…there are some seriously cool options here. Slightly problematic: The dragon lineage lets you choose a dragon type and the associated energy – which must not necessarily correspond to your energy strike’s chosen energy…which makes the “chosen energy/your energy type”-verbiage employed by the lineage ambiguous. An analogue complaint may be fielded against the elemental lineage, just fyi.

The class comes with two archetypes: The anomalous prodigy does not gain a lineage, but adds +Wisom bonus damage with unarmed attacks (not a fan). Instead of the bonus feats granted by lineage, the archetype gains style feats – see my complaint above. The archetype does gain full class level + Wisdom modifier ki, and replaces the fixed lineage spells with cherry picking spells from bloodrager, magus or wizard – which is imho overkill. 20th level allows the character to mimic harmful spells via ki, which is pretty potent, but a cool capstone.

The second archetype, the yogic pacifist, must be LN or TN and loses Intimidate as a class skill. Their mudras increase their save DCs and gain a modified spell list based on abjuration and divination. Instead of energy strike, the yogic pacifist gains bonus nonletheal damage that may not be projected. While he may create items as though a cleric, that ability unfortunately does show a bit of ignorance regarding how crafting works.

We get 5 supplemental feats: Arcane Spell Dabbler nets a bloodrager, magus or wizard spell. Ki Escape is weird – it nets you temporary ki when a spell is at least half your gestrati level or higher. Yep, this means that, starting 19th level, the feat ceases to work. Magical Posturing lets you take spell level Dex damage to apply Silent Spell on the fly (Interesting!). Mudra master lets you make AoOs while using a mudra. Spell Ki lets you expend an unused spell slot to gain that spell’s spell level as temporary ki. Allows, with the level 7 ki pool ability, pretty much free control over spell slots and makes the class behave more akin to a point-based caster – interesting!)

The favored class options are as detailed as we’ve come to expect from Purple Duck Games, covering exotic and Porphyran races…though a couple of them are a bit weird. Anpur get, for example, additional mudra uses for one mudra…but the ability, RAW, does not track daily mudras uses for the mudras individually. I am also not particularly fond of the crit-roll confirmation-enhancers.

The pdf comes with a bonus critter penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, the Draumrgeiss, a CR 9 goat that sparkles, with hooves seemingly glistening like platinum. The etymology of the name could be read as dream-goat, and as such, the array of oracle spells it can cast, the ability to view the dreams of the sleeping and the ability to bestow the gift of sleep on willing creatures makes for a nice, good creature. Cool bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the class and its presentation are, for the most part, crisp and precise…but the flaws at the core of the class abilities are big issues. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights. The full-color cover artworks of the pdf and bonus pdf are neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Aaron Hollingsworth’s gestrati isn’t a hybrid I was looking forward to, but that changed pretty quickly; the class does offer some cool connections between its abilities, has its own signature abilities, has a neat game of resource-management built-in…in short, there is a LOT I really, really like about this class. However, at the same time, it unfortunately suffers from some pretty nasty ambiguities in the core class features, of all places. This represents a big issue and while it doesn’t take much to make the necessary calls, RAW these still constitute grievous issues in the integrity of the class and how it works. This is a pity, as the gestrati ranks among the author’s cooler offerings and has all the makings of a really evocative class. As provided, it is nigh impossible for me to judge overall balance of the class, courtesy of the core class feature ambiguities. At the same time, what I can discern from the class, what does work, does so in a rather impressive and cool manner that I really enjoyed.

This is, to an extent, a bit heart-rending; the class has all the potential to be a really cool offering, but its flaws do drag it down, to the point where I can’t rate it higher than 2.5 stars, though I will round up for the purpose of this platform. With the caveat that GMs need to make the proper calls for this to work; if you do, you’ll get an interesting, fun and distinct hybrid. If you want a ready-to-play class, then round down.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Gestrati
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