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Fighters of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/18/2017 04:13:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ „..of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages, though it should be noted that these are laid out for digest-size. When printing them out, you can fit up to 4 on a single page, providing your eyesight’s good enough.

Anyways, we begin, somewhat surprisingly, with global rules for fighters in the Porphyra setting: Fighters get 4 + Int skills per level (a houserule I also use) and only take a -2 penalty when wielding weapons sans proficiency. If a fighter’s Intelligence is less than 13,, it is treated as 13 for the purpose of combat feat prerequisites. They also halve the time to Craft armor, weapons and ammunition. Fighters can inflict lethal damage with unarmed strikes (but still suffer from AoOs). The one modification I have a problem with would be that two-handed weapons dealing slashing or piercing damage also deal bludgeoning damage when wielded by a fighter. This can make DR-interaction etc. pretty confusing and further devalues the two-handed bludgeoning damage. Also weird: They get a bonus skill point each level – I assume that’s intended to be in addition to the ones granted by the 4 + Int-modification, but it feels a bit clunky nonetheless.

Okay, so those global rules out of the way, let’s take a look at the archetypes herein! The first of these would be the anticavalier, who treats all two-handed weapons as though they had the trip special quality and they get +2 to Trip-attempts against quadrupedal creatures. 2nd level, they add the brace special weapon quality to two-handed weapons and +4 to CMD versus overrun. 5th level becomes a bit problematic, as they start treating two-handed weapons as reach weapons with -1 to atk, losing the penalty at 8th level. 6th level adds the deadly special property to such weapons. This replaces the bonus feats gained first, 2nd, 4th and 6th level.

The second archetype would be the giant killer, who replaces bravery with selective immunity against intimidation and fear caused by giants. 3rd level replaces armor mastery with (untyped) bonuses to Reflex saves and a dodge bonus to AC against a “larger creature’s area effects.” That’s problematic. Sure, the creature needs to be one size-category larger, but since you can play Small characters, what would be situational can pretty quickly become always-on – pretty sure that exploit for Small characters has not been intentional. Cool: Instead of making a secondary attack, the giant killer can move 5 ft. Okay, does that count as a 5-foot-step? I assume no, which means it provokes AoOs, which renders the ability less compelling. At 10th level, we have the capacity to overrun larger creatures, causing falling damage on successes – which is pretty cool, but the rules-language is a bit wonky, speaking of “giant humanoids” – does that mean the subtype? Or does it refer to a size category? No idea.

The immortal is an archetype specifically for the amazing Zendiqi ethnicity, one of my favorite cultures on Porphyra. The archetype is restricted to the planet-touched, genasi-races (i.e. those associated with the 4 elements) and zendiqi and these guys only get 2 + Int mod skills per level. They are proficient with light and medium armors, shields (excluding tower shields) and simple and martial weapons. The archetype begins play with a ramah, a special spear or longspear with a silver tip. At 6th level, this is upgraded to adamantine. The second item they get is the tiarah (a better name would have been nice), a sacred blinder that nets +1 to saves versus visual, auditory, sonic and language-dependant effects that increases to +2 at 11th level, but imposes -1 on Perception. This replaces the ability to make unarmed attacks lethal from the global rules. The archetype inflicts +1 energy damage with successful melee, ranged or unarmed attacks per 4 class levels, with the type depending on bayit or race. At 7th level, the archetype is locked into Leadership and can grant adjacent allies a +1 shield bonus that scales over the levels. Cool flavor, less than interesting benefits.

The janissary loses proficiency with heavy armors and shields in favor of firearms. He also treats scimitars as light weapons, falchions as a two-handed light weapons. Okayyy…that doesn’t work as written. Per definition, light weapons are used one-handedly and may be used in grapples. Two-hand wielding light weapons does not increase the Str-bonus to damage, so how does that interact with a falchion? No idea. Instead of bravery, the archetype gains a scaling bonus to saves vs. enchantments. Circular thrust’s ability-name has no5t been properly formatted and replaces armor training and mastery with a scaling atk-bonus while fighting defensively.

The Lone Wolf loses the armor training ability tree. When narrowly missed by an attack, the archetype inflicts minor damage on the target’s weapon (which is damn cool!) and takes unarmed/natural weapons into account. At 7th level, rolling natural 1s when facing these guys also nets this damage and an AoO. 11th level increases the damage mentioned and so does 15th and 19th level. At these higher levels, failed maneuvers can also trigger the ability, and a shield bonus or gaining the benefits while one-hand wielding a weapon complement this one. This archetype is the first herein I consider interesting - while I wish there had been done more with the engine, the idea is intriguing.

Pawns begin play with less starting wealth and only simple weapon/light armor proficiency. When gaining a bonus feat, they also gain a character trait, and are exempt from the limiting rule regarding multiple traits of the same category. 3rd level yields a scaling dodge bonus to AC 5th level nets a bonus to atk and damage equal to the difference between the character’s CR and that of the opponent faced – not a fan, since the ability’s pretty meta-gamey. 9th level lets him treat all simple weapons as a weapon group, which he may select.

The primeval loses heavy armor and martial weapon proficiency, but gains Improved Unarmed Strike. In a mind-boggling confusion, the archetype also gains slam or claw attacks (not codified) that sport a monk’s unarmed damage scaling. This shows a profound lack of understanding between unarmed strikes and natural attacks – they are NOT the same. 6th level yields an immediate action AoO-less combat maneuver when critting targets with a natural attack, which is upgraded to hitting at 10th level, provided both natural attacks hit. At 16th level, crits provide action-less maneuvers and one maneuver needs only one attack to hit.

Spellfighters add Knowledge (arcane), Spellcraft and UMD to the class skill list and lose proficiency with all armors and shields. They gain spontaneous spellcasting based on Charisma…of UP TO 9TH LEVEL, drawn from the sorcerer/wizard list. WTF. Or, as the pdf says: “Like wizards and sorcerers, spellfighters are 9 level spellcasters.”[sic!] – sure, they “only” get abjuration and EVOCATION spells, but really? The magus over there? He’s weeping in the corner, even before weapon group: touch spells wrecks the rest. The math of these already is wobbly; adding full BAB and it completely falls apart. Just NO.

The varonis gains simple and martial weapon proficiency, + one exotic weapon of choice as well as light armors, but no shields. They have a good idea: Adding damage to combat maneuvers. Alas, the rules-language of the base ability is a total MESS. “As a standard action, when making a successful combat maneuver check with which they also have an “Improved” feat, they may also add the weapon damage of the melee weapon they are wielding at the time of the combat maneuver.” As a standard action? Add “weapon damage”? I tried hard to puzzle out how this is supposed to work. I have not the slightest idea. I have a suspicion, but the rules-language is so messed up, I can only guess. While the ability tries to clarify bonus damage dice, it fails to account for magical special weapon abilities…Non-operational RAW. The archetype gains a scaling dodge bonus to AC, minor skill boosts, scaling atk and damage with AoOs and at 8th level, scaling DR...which also applies when making a Reflex save? WUT?

The elisud hybrid class is next. It needs to be LG, is a hybrid of paladin and fighter, has 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency in all armors and simple and martial weapons and shields, excluding tower shields. 1st, 2nd and every 4 levels thereafter yield a fighter bonus feat and treats class level as fighter levels for prerequisite purposes. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. They also treat Intimidate and Diplomacy as one skill, akin to the Middle Kingdom’s codionic knights – that was wonky back then and still is. How does that interact with skill boosts? Skill unlocks? 5th level nets Signature Skill: Sense Motive.

He also begins play with a morale bonus equal to ½ class level to Sense Motive. Okay, at first level, is that rounded down? They also get +2 to all saving throws – again, a morale bonus. And guess what: All morale bonuses of the class stack with each other. At 3rd level, they gain, bingo, a morale bonus to saves versus fear and diseases equal to ½ class level. At this level, they also get ½ class level + Cha-mod morale points, which may be expended as a swift action for a +2 morale bonus to ANY d20-roll, not only for the elusid, but also for an ally. Fun fact: Since they stack with each other, multiple elusids can do really ridiculous things…5th level yields +1/2 class level to saves versus illusion spells and spell-like abilities. I assume that to only pertain to illusion SPs. 8th level does that for charms, 11th for “chaotic spells and SPs”, 13th for “necromantic”…URGH. 17th level for evil and compulsions…The issues are so apparent. Beyond failures to properly clarify the effects, these abilities only yield boring numerical escalations.

5th level yields weapon training. 7th level allows the character to impose a minor scaling penalty on a threatened foe as an immediate action. 19th level yields DR 5/- while wearing armor or using a shield and the capstone prevents being unarmed when wielding an “instrument of justice” – whatever that’s supposed to be in the context of the class. It also renders immune versus alignment changes and being forced to violate them. Whoop-die-doo? This is the worst hybrid class I’ve read by PDG. It is BORING, has no identity of its own, is surprisingly wobbly for how basic it is…No. Just no.

The pdf also mentions the idea of feat slicing – i.e. halving the benefits of a feat, but gaining two instead. I don’t even have to explain why that’s a bad idea, considering the very basic notion of prerequisites etc….right?

Okay, so, next up would be new mundane pieces of equipment – like the Folly Kit – which allows you to heal 1 hit point as a full-round action, holding up to 100 hit points worth of healing. 300 gp., but still…Why isn’t this properly tied to Heal and Healer’s kits? There is a helm that grants a headbutt attack and lacks a damage type and treats it as a bite, which can be all sorts of weird. On the plus-side: Flammable clubs? Cool idea! Is it its own weapon or is it treated as a club? There is some coolness here, though: The concept of hybrid weapons with additional modifications is pretty cool, if explored only in a rudimentary manner– still, I’d like to see a book based on that idea at one point, though one that should get some very careful looks regarding balance.

The pdf closes with a section of magic weapon qualities and items. Here, we have gems like this: “An opportunist weapon allows the wielder an immediate attack on its opponent if that opponent rolled a natural 1 on any of its previously attempted attacks upon the wielder.[…] The wielder can make as many opportunistic attacks as there are natural 1’s rolled against him, but only 1 response attack per attacker.” I THINK I know what this tries to do, but the rules-language has some serious issues. Curving weapons further marginalize shields. Almost funny: The brand of balance, a blade that generates a constant antimagic field around its wearer. It’s a magic weapon. Yeah. It doesn’t work RAW. The spell reads: “Likewise, it prevents the functioning of any magic items or spells within its confines.” Pricing also is a bit weird in the section. And while there are other magic items here, I’ll cut this short right now.

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. Easily the best part of the whole deal!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good. On a rules-language level, there is something left to be desired here, with quite a few wording issues that influence rules-integrity. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ 1-column standard with some nice full-color pieces, though fans of PDG may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

After the fantastic “Witches of Porphyra” (get it!), the previous installment, and after reading Aaron Hollingworth’s amazing Vessel hybrid class, I went into this file with a smile on my face, expecting to find some cool material herein. The global rules sounded promising, providing some nice tidbits to modify.

I don’t know what happened. I really don’t. The archetypes are lackluster at best, focusing on bland modifications and when they don’t, they do not properly capitalize on their ideas. I consider not a single one of them to be compelling; there are some gleams of interesting ideas here, but they are few and far in-between. The hybrid class one ups that – it is insulting. As in 1-star- or-1.5-star-bad, with the only analogues being the early Wayward Rogues Publishing offerings – their later material is better, if still problematic. The hybrid herein lacks any agenda, identity or care – it is lackluster filler of the worst sort, a class that manages to be less compelling than both of its parents.

Unfortunately, the rest of the supplemental content doesn’t really improve that much – while the unmitigated low point of this book is the hybrid, the other material isn’t close to dragging this up to levels where I’d consider it possible to recommend this. I try hard to see the positive in even flawed designs, but this pdf’s content, for the most part, looks like the author simply had no interest in writing a fighter-book, cobbled something together and went on. The fighter needs good options. Interesting abilities. And there are some herein…but the execution of these is lackluster as well.

I am, as a whole, a fan of the class-centric installments in this series – there are some amazing gems to be found. This is not such a file. In fact, I’d strongly suggest skipping this one. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, saved to being rounded up by the bonus-pdf. Purple Duck Games deserves being supported: They give a chance to new talent and often deliver some really amazing books – the installments on samurais, witches etc. are awesome – get them instead. Heck, if you want to support the author, get his cool Vessel class instead. But steer clear of this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Purple Duck Storeroom: Heroic Rings
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/13/2017 04:22:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ inexpensive pdfs clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content. It should be noted that the content is formatted for digest-size – you can fit 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this. Let’s take a look!

We begin with the extremely potent (over 3K price) circle of the sage sentinel – it may only be used by someone with a trait, ability etc. that grants a bonus to saves vs. fear or immunity to fear, The ring nets the benefits of mage armor, overland flight at will and several X/day abilities, ranging from 10/day magic missile to 1/day crushing/grasping/forceful hand – as a minor complaint: Their activation could be clearer - I assume defaults, but one could argue otherwise. The ring requires that the wearer swears anew to uphold the ideals of justice each day, charging the ring with light – yep, this is a variant of the Green lantern ring.

Fans of Star Trek will enjoy the decoder ring and Grimm rings allow for the use of elemental body III. Jungle rings duplicate the gorilla form of beast shape II, while the signet of the legion Aeris nets constant fly, a bonus to Fly-checks and 1/day sending to other wearers of the ring. Twin rings of wonder are tied to one another and only work when used together – kudos for getting the rules right there. Finally, the wardrobe ring can store an outfit and be dressed in it as a swift action – cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed a double “s”-typo, but no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 1-column standard. The pdf has rudimentary bookmarks for start and end – kudos.

Jacob Blackmon’s rings are solid. They won’t blow your socks off, but for the low asking price, the pdf is worth checking out if the rings mentioned intrigue you. A nice, unpretentious collection – my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Psychic Disciplines of Porphyra II
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/11/2017 05:42:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second pdf of disciplines for Porphyra clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content. It should be noted that the pdf is laid out for digest-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’) – you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, should you choose to do so.

Most of the psychic disciplines herein employ Charisma as governing attribute for the phrenic pool – as such, I’ll explicitly note the two disciplines that use Wisdom instead.

The first of the disciplines would be Dance, which covers, bonus spell-wise, the gamut from feather fall to overwhelming presence. It nets Perform (dance) as a class skill and ½ psychic level, minimum 1, as a bonus to he skill-checks. Amazing: You can make an immediate action check to dance to fortify allies against sight-based magical effects. Starting at 5th level, you may substitute Perform (dance) for Acrobatics and Fly and 13th level lets you replace thought and emotion components with the somatic component of dancing, but at the downside of potentially incurring spell failure. Meaningful, creative and cool ways to influence the gameplay – huge kudos!

The second discipline would be fear, beginning, unsurprisingly, with cause fear and offering cruel jaunt and the like later. The focus of this discipline is cool: You are still affected by fear, but it hampers you less – really cool: You can elect to be affected by effects causing the shaken condition and instead of the condition’s normal effects, even gain a buff – cool tweak on the condition and, once again, a meaningful way to customize the character – particularly for darker, grittier games this one can be cool for a player who wants a character that is not impervious to fear, but who learns to harness its powers.

The heroism discipline nets you proficiency with 2 martial weapons, or one exotic weapon of Improved Unarmed Strike and makes the psychic basically a Way of Life practitioner (see PDG’s underappreciated, nice martial arts sourcebook "Unarmored and Dangerous") – but fret not: The relevant rules are provided herein – you don’t need that book to use the discipline. Higher levels yield Uncanny dodge and its improved brother. Once again, meaningful tweak, with spells ranging from mage armor to deflection and heroic invocation.

Kyudo would be governed by Wisdom and focuses, unsurprisingly, if your Japanese is up to snuff, on archery and precision, netting Precise Shot, proficiencies, starting equipment and a cool mechanic: Scoring critical hits against targets with bows replenishes 1 point of your phrenic pool. Better yet: The ability can’t be kitten’d due to a HD-cap – kudos!! You may also replace thought or emotion components with focus or somatic components while wielding the bow. Spells with a range that is not touch or personal, nor has a cone-shaped AoE may be delivered in the form of ghostly arrows, using the bow’s range increment instead and starting at 13th level, the discipline allows for the replacement of both thought and emotion components. Once again, really, really cool!

Mascot nets you a familiar or animal companion (Improved Familiar may not be taken) and sports, spell-wise, the usual array of animal-themed spells, from speak with animals to animal shapes, with e.g. planar refuge included as well. However, to prepare spells, the discipline requires touching the mascot. 5th level yields a Will-save bonus when sharing a space with the mascot and 13th level allows for the sharing of the mascot’s evasive abilities. Perhaps that’s the otaku in me talking, but while this one isn’t mechanically brilliant, it does make me recall some anime I really enjoyed…I can see that one being the default caster role in some campaigns.

The final discipline, Void, is once again based on Wisdom and would be the second discipline centered around the concept of a psychic with moderate capabilities in WuXia-like contexts – with spells like anticipate peril, transformation, mind blank and akashic form, it certainly works that way. Particularly since it provides the second tie-in with “Unarmored and Dangerous” – the psychic using this discipline is a Way of the Void practitioner. Once again, the full rules required are presented herein. Higher levels yield evasion and its improved version, respectively.

The pdf sports a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak, where we get, on the two pages of content, Sirani the Favored, a level 1 (CR 1/2 ) dhosari paladin. Nice bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch: Apart from one instance where the size category “Small” was lower case’d, I noticed no hiccups – and that one is cosmetic. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly 1-column standard with purple highlights. The pdf and bonus pdf sport no artworks apart from the cover, but at this price, that’s totally fine with me. Amazing: The pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. BIG kudos!

Carl Cramér second foray into psychic disciplines lacks all my criticisms of the first one: Each discipline herein is meticulously precise, offers a strong theme for both role- and roll-playing and, more importantly and impressively, a meaningful change in how the psychic class operates. In short: This is a truly impressive little gem. Oh, and it costs a ridiculously low $1.50. Seriously, I have read a lot pdfs with 20 times the word count and less cool ideas. Oh, and yes, if you’re looking for a way to make the psychic fit into an Asian context – well, then this should be considered to be a must-buy. Even if the Asian flavor of some disciplines doesn’t do it for you, they’re one name-change away from fitting into pretty much any setting. Inexpensive, creative, precise – 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Purple Mountain II: Desolate Dwarven Delve (DCC)
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/10/2017 09:31:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second level of the conversion of PDG's old-school dungeon delve in the Purple Mountain is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/patreon-thanks, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with 34 pages of content. The pages are formatted for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit approximately 4 pages on a sheet of paper if you’re trying to conserve ink/toner.

All righty, first things first: While this is obviously level 2 of a mega-dungeon, the pdf does come with advice for judges to use the dungeon presented herein as both a sequel to level 1 (including some troubleshooting advice) and as a stand-alone offering. Being dwarven-themed (no spoilers there-it’s literally in the title!), the adventure’s potential hooks also include this means of tying it to the interesting AL 3 Waystation location, a stand-alone, interesting little drop-in locale for DCC.

Judges should be aware that the module does present its basic environmental rules (doors, illumination, etc.) in a concise manner, including potentially slippery fungus that covers parts of the dungeon. As in the first installment of these, the pdf does feature both regular random encounters and special random encounters, though the latter are less diverse this time around.

Also not spoiler-territory (since it’s part of the hooks and provides no real advantage for the PCs to know), but very worth noting: This module does feature gremlins. While they are a much loathed staple in PFRPG, I was pretty interested to see what Daniel J. Bishop did with them, particularly their aura of bad luck – and frankly, I was positively surprised to see the mechanics make good use of DCC’s peculiarities. Indeed, this dungeon being more conservative in how it is set-up, we have quite a few critters, including otyughs, converted herein.

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

..

.

Still here? All right!

Having jumped in the meat grinder/waste disposal shaft in the temple of the vermin lord and being received enthusiastically by a hungry, young otyugh, the PCs enter what once was a nice little Dwarven colony - unfortunately for the PCs, emphasis lies on the "was" - the colony was wiped by a manifold threat – an infestation of dark ivy (aka yellow musk creeper – a plant monster that generates zombie-like servants from the slain); there is a cadre of gremlins haunting these halls…and the slain dwarves have returned as nasty, undead versions of themselves, so-called blindbrauns.

That does not mean that there is just hostility to be encountered, mind you: In fact, there is a troglodyte hermit (who also represents a possible tie-in to the excellent Silent Nightfall module) and Pallcap, a faerie-like shroom being, both of which may be helpful when clearing out this level…or they may prove to be more obstacles to vanquish – in short, this is a dynamic dungeon with a couple of mini-factions. Special note deserve the gremlin-cursed waters with their diverse effects and the detailed, dwarven machinery, which has been rigged, trap-style…and yes, these interconnect.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, while I did not notice an undue accumulation of glitches, I did encounter a couple of minor conversion relics, where the way in which some rules work still felt a bit Pathfindery. These are not jarring and not something you’ll find often, but purists may be slightly annoyed. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ 1-column standard with a white background and purple highlights. The pdf does sport several full-color artworks that are nice, if not all glorious. The cartography is okay, but annoyingly, we do not get a player-friendly map, which is particularly jarring, since the map contains the pipes of the dwarven machinery, representing a SPOILER of sorts when handed out to the PCs. Also annoying: Out of some strange reason, the pdf has no bookmarks, which represents a serious comfort detriment.

David N. Ross’ installment of the original version of this level was my least favorite installment in the whole series and Daniel J. Bishop’s conversion, alas, didn’t change much here. The DCC-version of this module feels, theme-wise, surprisingly like standard fantasy. It is a faithful conversion, but compared to level 1, whose themes were closer to those of DCC, level 2 feels overall less inspired. If you’re like me and expect a bit more of the weird and extraordinary from DCC, then this may strike you as a bit vanilla.

If a bit slightly less outré fantasy in your DCC campaign is what you’re looking for, then this should deliver. That being said, the lack of both player-friendly map and bookmarks, serve as two major hamstrings for what already was the weakest installment in the series, and without them, I frankly can’t go higher than 3 stars. That being said, judges: Even if you do end skipping this one, stick with the series: As someone who has run all modules in it, let me tell you that the next levels will be amazing treats indeed if the conversion holds up!

Endzeitgeist out.



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Oracle Mysteries of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 10/05/2017 04:22:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Porphyra-expansion books clocks in at 17 pages,1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for booklet-size – 6’’ by 9’’ (or A5), which means you’ll be able to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, provided your eyesight’s good enough.

All righty, let’s not dilly-dally and dive right into those mysteries, shall we? This humble pdf contains no less than 5 complete, new mysteries, the first of which would be ascension, which, unsurprisingly, focuses on ascending to a nascent divinity. The class skills granted would be Climb, Fly, Intimidate and Swim and from illusion of calm to create greater demiplane, the spell-selection makes sense. Among the revelations, we have darkvision (including stacking caveat AND scaling improvements at higher levels that are tied, really smart, to alignment – evil oracles can see in magical darkness, while non-evil ones also gain low-light vision and scent – cool!), a limited use energy blast, scaling DR (with an appropriate level-cap), natural weapons (that are properly codified – HECK YES!), resistances, telepathy…and the ability to grow wings (which begin as humble levitate and improve to proper flight, retaining the soft balancing mechanism of flight). The final revelation provides at-will greater teleport. Immaculate, makes sense – two thumbs up!

The celestial mystery nets Fly, Linguistics, Perception and Perform and focuses on the traditionally “good” spells like dispel evil and, alter, even holy sword. Sounds boring? Sounds like “been there, done that”? Well, what about infusing a small area with planar traits? Creating difficult terrain via heavenly meadows? Overcoming alignment restrictions (and undetectable alignment at higher levels?) or firing balls of sparks that can be separated into smaller blasts? This one represents a minor confusion, though: You can use more than one daily use to increase the affected area, but the pdf fails to specify by how much. On a nitpicky side, it’s electricity damage, not electric damage. Still, the options that are here are surprisingly creative!

On the other end of the alignment spectrum would be the Infernal mystery, which nets Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (nobility) and Survival. And no, it is no lame alignment-flipped version of Celestial; while planar infusion is also here, we have the ability to tap into the pits and barriers of hell, rendering targets flat-footed. We also get the ability to infuse hellish power in weaponry or cause painful bursts of hellfire – minor complaint here: Reflex should be capitalized.

Nimbus surrounds you with the energy of light or darkness, focusing on a ref-fluffed array of force effects, represented, spell-wise, by the gamut from mage armor to crushing hand. The revelations include making weaponry ghost touch and indestructible by means short of disintegration. The mystery also nets a potent force-damage touch attack that can later by used as a limited use AoE-blast. The revelation also nets scaling negative conditions, though the save to negate these and halve the damage as well as the alignment-based nature of the ability keeps it from becoming too much. SPs (dark or light), scrying – as a whole, a creative mystery.

Finally, there would be the pontifex mystery, which nets Knowledge (arcane), Linguistics, UMD and Intimidate – it focuses on conjuration, bonus spell-wise, beginning at summon monster I and scales up to greater planar binding. Here, things become interesting – these guys can choose the terrain control options of hell and heaven alike and even generate abyssal terrain. Constant planar adaptation, including the option to use it as an SP at higher levels and quicker summoning of an outsider subtype and limited use flexible energy descriptor changes make for yet another interesting spin here.

And then there’s the bonus pdf: The Bosch Fiend, penned by Mark Gedak, a nightmarish thing reminiscent of Hieronymus’ visions. Or rather, a massive plethora of critters. You see, this is basically a “Make your own twisted thing”-toolkit, with 3 menus of abilities and 9 (!!!) sample stats provided. The bonus pdf sports 9(!!!) pages of bonus content! And I really love the critter’s concept. Seriously, worthy of being upgraded further!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level and very good on a rules-language level: While I noticed a few minor hiccups, they did not compromise the integrity of the rules. Similarly, not all wordings are perfectly smooth, but they work. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf has no interior artworks, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér’s oracle mysteries turned out to be a pleasant surprise: Theme-wise, they didn’t exactly elicit excitement from yours truly, but that changed pretty quickly once I started looking at what they offer: Instead of rehashing bland standards, the little pdf manages to generate some actually unique, fun options beyond what you’d expect. Add to that the more than fair price, the glorious bonus pdf and frankly, the minor flaws pale to the point where I feel justified in rounding up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars to the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Dispatches from the Raven Crowking IV
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/20/2017 03:52:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth of Daniel J. Bishop‘s Dispatches on the nature of gaming, structures etc. clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content. These pages are laid out for digest-size (A5 or 6’’ by 9’’) and thus, you can fit up to 4 of them on a given sheet of paper if your eye-sight’s good enough and you need to conserve ink/toner.

We begin this installment with a historic recap of the concept of a mega-dungeon – in both the context of Appendix N, literature and, well, gaming – similarly, we take a look at the development of so-called balance of encounters and it is here that the growth of the series is readily apparent. Instead of antagonistic opinions, we receive a well-reasoned recap of the development of monster/encounter-balance over the course of various editions – and the sentiment expressed, namely that encounters do not need to be level-appropriate, is one that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. While I am an enemy of set-ups that just screw players over, I similarly am a big enemy of designing worlds all around the PCs and ensuring that they will always have an “appropriate” challenge. As the pdf aptly surmises, this takes away from the organic nature of the world and also eliminates player agenda – when all challenges are strictly level-appropriate, player decisions to play risky or more cautious matter less.

Now, beyond this base-line, we take a look at the core subject-matter of the mega-dungeon – the pdf does provide several intriguing pieces of advice for the discerning judge/Gm/writer – whether it’s how to e.g. draw from mythology/myth-based settings or by looking at descriptive elements from the 1st edition DM Guide, we are shown on how to use a couple of words to inspire: We go one by one through the list, brainstorming ideas based on it. This is simple, yes, but it is an exercise well worth engaging in. From here on out, we take a look at some neat tricks to make monsters unique: We categorize them by type of beast and then look at e.g. what happens when you anagram-scramble the names, potentially drawing inspiration right then and there…and you make the monster feel unique! (Hint for those of you who read my own writing: I use that technique as well. One of my published characters is e.g. an anagram for Isaac Asimov…)

Similarly, treasure should be worthwhile – not just a +5 sword of killing stuff – the treasure to be found in a massive dungeon should engender greed, paranoia…you get the idea. Treasures are categorized similarly to monsters. The pdf then proceeds to guide you through brainstorming: From the power of names to sketches of critters and how they potentially interact/make sense, the brainstorming general section is fun and directly leads into pattern mapping, which is VERY important. We have an intrinsic idea of what looks “right” and many “makes no sense”-moments in published modules could have been avoided by properly structured planning. Furthermore, the book teaches to envision first how areas interact, rather than their direct proximity – since ultimately, the dungeon’s structure is beholden to the needs of storytelling, this makes sense and yet again makes for an excellent piece of advice.

Having done the basic sketches, we use the previously generated list and then note, by respective region, where they’ll fit in: This generates the details and, wholly organically, can generate the whole dynamics of a given dungeon. The shrine the goblins worship is in the vampire lord’s territory? Okay, are they allied? In a master/slave relationship? Is coercion involved? This establishes the general structure of the dungeon, and from here on out, once we have established a general vision, we move to the specific and can marvel at Daniel J. Bishop’s seasoned pen elaborating on the themes and topics previously established, adding the evocative flourishes to the great base-lines – suddenly, Esbastus becomes a gynosphinx; there is a vampire survivor of an age long past. A woman of Jade. Monster hunter Owlgrin. This dressing-series alone may be worth getting this, even if you’re not per se interesting in the design/writing-advice provided.

In case you’re interested: Both otyughs and their evolved brethren receive full and proper DCC-stats herein…and yes, the final chapter is where the book transitions from excellent advice for any game to the material directly applying to the DCC-rules: The considerations, colored by the aesthetics, do mention some excellent resources beyond the confines of the rules-set, both regarding literature and gaming material. In short – this section ends the dispatches on the same high note it began.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ nice 1-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports quite a few nice full-color pieces. While fans of PDG may be familiar with some, I don’t have reasons to complain here. The pdf does provide a nice map and sketch to illustrate the process. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Daniel J. Bishop’s Dispatches series has been excellent from the get-go: The advice provided goes into more detail and depth than that provided by many comparable supplements. While the author and I sometimes deviate greatly regarding our opinions, I have yet to encounter one of these books that hasn’t provided some sort of trick, idea or knowledge – these are great advice-books, even for veterans. Much to my pleasant surprise, this installment provides a well-balanced look at the subject matters sans needing to rely on the subjectivity clause, which is still here, though – just in case. This supplement provides some very smart pieces of advice regarding the daunting task of structuring big pieces of in-game landscape – whether mega-dungeons, wildernesses or settlements. It is my contention that the advice herein can help you design all of them and more. This is, in short, an inspired little advice booklet, well worth the extremely fair asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. If you struggle with “big design” in games or think you’d like to learn some tricks of the trade – this delivers.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Purple Mountain: Temple of the Locust Lord (DCC)
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/18/2017 03:50:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This conversion of the first installment of Purple Duck's Purple Mountain dungeon is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/patreons-thank you, 2 pages SRD, leaving 29 pages of content for the first level of the dungeon. It should be noted that, like most of the recent Purple Duck games-supplements, the pdf is formatted for digest-booklet size, A5 or about 6’’ by 9’’, which means that, if you print this out, you should be able to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper,

Okay, while Purple Mountain is a mega-dungeon, rest assured that you don’t need to commit to the entirety of the series – this module (and its follow-ups) very much works as a stand-alone adventure and the pdf even provides some guidance for use as both stand-alone module or as part of a mega-dungeon.

Which brings me to another issue that DCC judges will undoubtedly want to have answered: Does this “get” DCC? After all, the system has some seriously different paradigms when compared to both PFRPG and 5e and this module, originally, was published for PFRPG. Let me get that out of the way from the get-go: Yes. For example, the eponymous locust lord, at best something to oppose in PFRPG, has become a patron in this conversion, complete with invoke patron table. (But no unique spellburn or patron taint options, alas.)

Similarly, the PFRPG-version did sport the iconic wayfinder as one object featured – and since DCC has a different aesthetic paradigm when it comes to handing out magic items, it has been purged…but at the same time, if you did actually want the item, you can still find it – fully converted to DCC in the appendices! That’s going the extra mile – big kudos. If you’re like me and have been an ardent follower of PDG’s excellent DCC-offerings, you’ll know the map of the module. It has been used before in the excellent Through the Cotillion of Hours – which, as an aside, was for me one of the moments where DCC-system’s unique aesthetics were perfectly captured.

Structurally, the module is easy to run, to say the least – not only does it sport notes on general dungeon properties like doors, illumination-levels etc., but also notes exits, etc. Similarly, when the pacing begins to lag, you may draw on one of several specific random encounters, which, unsurprisingly, include a variety of magical creepy-crawlies and insectoid threats. Beyond these specific ones, general random encounters can also be found.

That being said, the following review contains SPOILERS, potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here?

All right.

The temple of the locust lord is actually the fortress of manamites under the command of dread Iraksed, once a man, now a collection of squirming worms under his robe. The manamites depicted herein are not simply mites with a prefix latched on – scorpion-riding mini-knights and the plentiful insectoid threats should provide plenty of chances for uppity PCs to perish. The unique form of Iraksed also makes him, just fyi., a perfect recurring villain – he can reform from a single escaped worm…ouch! The horde of vermin under the command of the manamites and their dread master are not limited to oversized versions of common insects or ones with a bit of supernatural flair – the throach, a dread combination of scorpion and cockroach (full-color artwork provided!), which is just as mean-tempered as it is ugly, represents one deadly adversary…and a demon is stalking the halls as well…

But intrepid adventurers can also find some goodies here – provided they are smart and thorough: You never know what a tank of mealworms may hide…. Have I mentioned the magical pools, which may, for weal or woe, change the fortune of the PCs? (Oh, and greedy PCs may find out that giant amoebas can look deceptively like such pools…) Beyond these, it should be noted that the PCs better should have means to deal with traps. And they should keep their eyes peeled. There is one particularly obvious, but dastardly trap – a massive garbage disposal/grinder…which, unfortunately, for the PCs if you’re planning on using this as a mega-dungeon, also constitutes the only way further down…talk about going into the grinder…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I only noticed some very minor glitches, like a “two” that should be a “to” and the like. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column standard with purple highlights. The full-color artworks deserve special note: The pdf sports multiple really nice interior artworks of the monsters by Matt Morrow. (Cover artist is Jacob Blackmon.) The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks and is really easy to navigate. The cartography does its job, but I was a bit bummed that we don’t get a player-friendly, key-less version of it – in an age where many folks play VTTs (and reviewers like yours truly suck at drawing maps), I would have really appreciated having one.

Mark Gedak did not simply have his module converted to DCC. It’s not that easy. Okay, it could be that easy, but you wouldn’t do DCC justice. Instead of converting just the mechanics and slapping a new label on the module, Daniel J. Bishop has gone above and beyond in his conversion efforts. This is, in short, a very well-made translation of the module; to the point where I actually consider it to be superior to its PFRPG-iteration: It feels more dangerous, rawer and more primordial and the challenges herein should test the mettle of adventurers in a fun way. All in all, not much to complain about, apart from the lack of a player’s map and wanting a bit more on the patron. Still, if this is what we can expect from the series, then color me stoked. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up by a tiny margin for going the extra mile in the conversion.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Witches of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 09/07/2017 05:44:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Purple Duck Games‘ player-centric „of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pages are formatted for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’ or A5) and thus, you can fit up to 4 of them on a given sheet of paper when printing this out.

All righty, as always, we begin with an array of archetypes, the first of which would be the blooded hag – this one has Charisma as the governing spellcasting attribute, gets spontaneous casting and instead of a patron, the archetype chooses a bloodline, gaining the bloodline’s spells at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Instead of the first level’s hex, the archetype gains the 1st level bloodline power of the bloodline chosen, and, at 4th, 10th and 16th as well as 20th level, the archetype may choose the respective bloodline power instead of a hex, but needs to retain the acquisition order of bloodline powers. They treat these as hexes, which makes me question which save to use – Hexes, per default, are governed by Intelligence, whereas bloodline powers that allow for saves usually have them governed by Charisma. I assume that “they instead treat it as a hex” would mean that the archetype uses Intelligence, but Charisma would make more sense to me. I am also a bit puzzled regarding the familiar question here: As written, the archetype retains the familiar and thus retains the arcane bond component, though, depending on how you picture the bloodline aspect working, it may make a bit less sense. That being said, both complaints are something most GMs should be capable of navigating.

Brewers lose spellcasting and store formulae to prepare extracts in their familiar, but are limited to effects that target at least one creature or object regarding their spell list. They can, furthermore, only prepare extracts duplicating harmless spells or spells with a target of “you.” However, unlike alchemists, the brewer replaces patron spells with the ability to create splash extracts, which must neither be harmless, nor have a target of “you”; additionally, they need to have a fixed number of targets; the extract is treated as an alchemical splash weapon that inflicts 1d3 slashing damage. Single target splash extracts only affect targets directly hit; otherwise, it affects the primary target + a number of squares affected by splash damage equal to the number of targets the spell could normally affect. This modification of the rules-language really made me smile. No, seriously. That’s HARD to pull off properly. This replaces patron spells. The familiar can btw. be affected by mutagens etc. and is treated as an alchemist; 1st level locks the character into the Cauldron hex and 2nd level’s hex is replaced with Throw Anything, adding + Int modifier to damage caused with thrown weapons, including splash damage. The archetype may also choose a variety of discoveries, treating alchemist levels as -2 class levels and codifies properly them as hex, major hex and grand hex equivalents. Complex modification, but one I really enjoy.

The impetuous dervish gets diminished spellcasting and an unchained monk’s flurry of blows with certain limitations; however, starting at 5th level, the archetype may cast a single spell of at least 3 levels lower than the highest spell level available instead of one of the attacks in the flurry, which may then be delivered as a touch attack. Since the ability is restricted to touch attacks, there are no weird interactions here and 8th level unlocks the option to use this flurry in conjunction with a charge attack. This replaces the familiar and the 8th level hex. Once again, a complex and interesting engine tweak.

Next up would be the insufflators. At first level, the archetype has to choose a cone or line; when using a hex that targets a single creature and usually can be used as a standard action, they may choose to spend a full-round action to exhale magical fog in either a 10-ft. cone or 20 ft.-line, depending on the choice made. Instead of normal saves, the targets may negate the hex’s effects via Reflex saves (or halve damage thus incurred). The ability has a 1d4 rounds cooldown and requires being capable of breathing in deeply. This does read much worse than it is – while the area effect and changed save can potentially be very powerful and while personally, I’d make it provoke an attack of opportunity, the need to come very close does actually even out the power of this option a bit. Instead of 2nd level’s hex, the archetype gets Wicked Breath ( a new feat herein) and may use it in the same shape as the aforementioned breath, at + 1 spell level, rather than +3. Here, I am a bit puzzled: Okay, we choose the same shape as the breath ability – but do we use the range of hag’s breath or that of the feat? It’s just +10 ft/+5 ft. range difference, but still. Patron spell gain is delayed by 2 (minimum 1st) levels and the familiar’s effective level is similarly reduced. 4th level provides the option for the archetype to increase the area affected by hag’s breath by +5 ft. or +10 ft., with every 4 levels beyond the 4th allowing the archetype to take this again. This is also added to Wicked Breath’s affected area. A bit of clarification and we have a really amazing archetype here.

Legionmasters replace the 1st level hex with the option to have multiple familiars, but need to spread their levels among the familiars in question: A 5th level character could e.g. have a 3rd level and a 2nd level familiar. Special familiars like patron familiars, improved familiars, etc. cannot be chosen and all familiars must be of the same species, so no stacking of familiar bonuses. For as long as at least one familiar remains alive, the legionmaster will be able to retain spellcasting. At 4th level, 10th and 16th level, the witch increases her level for the purpose of determining the levels that can be assigned to familiars by +2,, replacing the 3 hexes gained at these levels. Nice: The familiar abilities are concisely elaborated upon: You can’t e.g. store one touch spell charge in multiple familiars and both empathic link and scrying is limited to one familiar. Big plus: Limited use pools that familiars may have are addressed – the collective of familiars shares one pool.

Alter hexes and the 8th level hex is lost and instead, the archetype may choose a teamwork feat instead of a hex. One of these teamwork feats may be allocated to familiars each day, with 8th and 16th level providing the option to grant the teamwork feats to more familiars. A lot could have gone wrong here, and I am duly impressed by the care displayed here; the pdf also addresses the summoner/multi-creature-commander conundrum, explicitly acknowledging this.

The mentor archetype gets a variant cohort at 1st level, dubbed an heir. This character is a commoner with Magical Aptitude, upgrading the character to heroic ability scores and 1st level witch at 3rd level, provided the character has a leadership score that’s high enough. Heir exchanges and 7th level Leadership governed by Int are also included. Both mentor and heir have no patron, and thus use a wizard’s spellbook instead; heir gain access to one spell at 2nd level and every even level thereafter the mentor reaches, treating that as the patron spell. 6th level yields the ability for the mentor to assume a fixed familiar form for the heir – kudos: immunity to polymorph is addressed and does not prevent this form. As a capstone, the mentor may ascend to patronhood, upgrading the heir to PC status. I ADORE this archetype. Not only does it resound with occult traditions and how we often picture the teaching of the black arts to work, it has a replacement PC and serious roleplaying potential basically hard-wired into the archetype and feels incredibly RIGHT to me. I love this one. Heck, you could go Krabat and play the heir to a NPC mentor for an interesting one-shot…

Polytheistic witches represent a crossover with the occultist (imho the most underrated Occult Adventures class) and thus begin play with an implement school, with 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter providing another implement. They cast psychic spells and gain the sorceror’s spells per day, but don’t treat spells as on their spell-list unless they have been gained by patron or implement school, with multiple selections of an implement school covered. This severely limited spell array is expanded by the patron pantheon – the witch gains additional pantheons at 2nd, 9th and 15th level, but spells gained from patrons are cast as arcane spells. Instead of 1st level’s hex, the archetype gains mental focus and may invest it in patrons, increasing the CL of the patron’s spells, with a scaling cap provided. Also at 1st level, the archetype gets the base focus power of their implement school, with new implement schools gained also providing the respective base power. Instead of gaining hexes, the archetype may choose to learn a new focus power chosen from the collective of implement school powers available. Additionally, the archetype may, as a standard action, expend 1 point of mental focus assigned to a patron to grant her familiar the patron powers associated with the patron for 1 minute as though it was a patron familiar. Once again, this is one of the archetypes that really makes me smile – it is interesting, plays differently and provides some highly complex rules-operations, pulled off with panache.

The sanguisage gains the kineticist’s burn, except that the familiar takes lethal damage rather than nonlethal damage. The familiar has no limit on the amount of burn it can accept. The familiar may not be archetype’s and loses Alertness, but gains +1 hit point per level of the master. Instead of 1st level’s hex, the familiar gains Toughness. 2nd level provides the option to choose an arcanist arcane exploit, governed by Int, with 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter allowing the archetype to choose whether to learn an exploit or a hex. 12th level unlocks greater exploits. Instead of using arcane reservoir as a resource, exploits are powered by the familiar’s Burn and if an exploit would kill a familiar, the effect is particularly potent. Yeah, it’s actually an archetype that may make exploding the grossly obese and distended familiar a viable option in a pinch – and it reminded me, big time, of Binding of Isaac. That being said, considering the power of arcanist exploits and the greatly expanded uses that the familiar provides, this may not be for all groups, though the concise list of exploits that could result in weirdness and thus is forbidden makes it run pretty smoothly.

The sightless seer expands the spell-list by all divinations from the sorc/wiz-list and is locked into a new familiar presented herein, the matoyasite crystal, which acts as the eyes of the witch, sharing its sight. They are blind and gain a combination of divination-enhancing feats and hexes over the levels, making for a thematically concise option. There would also be the warweaver, who are proficient with simple weapons and a one-handed martial or exotic weapon as well as light armors and bucklers, but still suffers arcane spell failure chance. They get good Ref-saves and ¾ BAB-progression and bad Will-saves. The archetype receives spells per day as though it was a magus, capping at 6th spell level. Patron spells gained are delayed and 3 are not learned at all. To make up for that, they may use Intelligence modifier for a finessable weapon they’re proficient with. Finally, the whitelighter loses all necromancy spells as well as those with the death and evil descriptors and exude an aura of good. Additionally, they may not target a creature with a spell or SP without getting that creature’s permission as a swift action before dong so, including spell-trigger and –completion items. Interaction with spells they’d usually learn, but can’t due to these restrictions is also covered. Finally, both hex and patron choices are limited by the philosophy of the archetype. The archetype is very much defined by the chosen charge, which may be chosen anew each day, with 8th and 16th level providing an additional charge; the charge may transfer this status for 24 hours as a swift action and the whitelighter’s CL is higher when affecting the charge. The archetype gets healing hexes and increases their potency for the charge – all in all, a pretty flavorful option.

Wood witches would constitute the final archetype in the book, using the druid spell list and treating the spells as arcane and is limited in patron selection; however, they can affect plant creatures with touch spells delivered by their familiar as though they were animals or magical beasts. Patron spells are delayed one level. Interesting: At 2nd level and at 10th level, the archetype gains kineticist blasts (wood blast at 2nd, the seasonal blasts at 10th level), but prepares them as spells, getting the translation right – kudos! While infusions may not be added to them, metamagic feats may be added. 4th level nets the Plant domain or a subdomain thereof at cleric -3 levels, using Intelligence as governing attribute; spells thus gained are added to the spell list, but not automatically gained.

The pdf also contains familiar archetypes: Conduit familiars begin play with the option to deliver touch spells, with higher levels providing the option to deliver other spells as well. Kidnapper familiars get Improved Grapple and may later deliver conjuration (teleportation) effects as part of a grapple. Nasty! Messengers may act as a one-way speaker-box. Interesting selection here!

We also get a massive selection of new patrons, all of which include their own patron familiar abilities – kudos! The patrons are Air, beauty, chains, corrosion, desert, filth, force, glass, intellect, mercy, revelry, screams and shelter – and these are well-crafted regarding spell-selection and benefits.

Beyond the aforementioned crystal, the pdf also provides the stats for the hoop snake (yes!), the winged monkey (double yes!) and the TOME OF TEETH familiars. These come with full stats and if none of them made you smile, I don’t know anymore. Seriously. This is damn cool.

The pdf also features a massive array of new hexes – what about cursing foes with dental decay, decreasing the efficiency of their bites and making them take nonlethal damage when biting or eating? Yeah. What about choosing one hex and being able to use it as an AoO? Vomit forth swarms of increasing potency? Causing creatures to sing? Major hexes and grand hexes can also be found here – including the grand hex that steals your breath…literally.

The new feats included feature an option to use hex instead of spell DC for curses (nice!), more efficient use of conductive weapons, combining Arcane Strike and Hex Strike, lacing hexes into spells, using aforementioned Wicked Breath with rys – some interesting options to fill in some holes in the rules here.

The pdf also contains 2 special materials – hauntwood and matoysite, also known as sightstone – both of these materials not only are explained in a compelling and well-written manner, they make sense – meaningful and nice. The pdf also included Kabal Dunedusk, a sample khvostik polkan witch with the insufflate archetype. The NPC clocks in at CR 11 and comes with a boon for the PCs to gain.

The pdf comes with a bonus-pdf penned by Mark Gedak, which depicts the bladeleaf, a CR nasty fey that is naturally invisible, poisonous and capable of creating a slashing storm of leaves…oh, and they are good archers. Ouch! Nice, lethal little buggers!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level– which precious few very minor exceptions, this supplement is precise, concise and frankly, even when it sports a minor ambiguity, it is usually one that can be resolved easily. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’s 1-column standard sans background (printer-friendly!), with purple highlights. The pdf sports a blend of old and new full color artworks. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation quick and precise.

Onyx Tanuki’s first stand-alone book is significantly more impressive than I expected; while there are a few minor hiccups herein, the book managed to do something I did not expect: It honestly managed to excite me. I have seen a LOT of witch-options and this one sports some truly amazing, intriguing ones that simply haven’t been done before. More than that, even the engine-tweaks offer for meaningful changes of the overall playing experience, which is a big plus in my book; similarly, the engine-tweak-style archetypes don’t settle for simple cookie-cutter designs, instead opting for complex rules-operations of pretty high difficulty levels. And the best thing is that, for the vast majority of the content, the pdf gets these perfectly RIGHT. In short, this is a great class-centric pdf and for the low asking price, it provides a LOT of worthwhile, cool material.

Now, usually the minor hiccups would make me rate this at 4.5 stars, rounded up. If you’re really picky about minor ambiguities, that’s what you’ll probably think of this pdf. However, this little pdf actually managed to excite me, to make me want to play a variety of the options herein – considering the material I’ve seen, that does mean something. Moreover, it never went the easy road; it doesn’t sport bland filler that anyone could do – this is honest design work that probably is beyond the skills of many GMs out there, juggling complex concepts and rules-operations. And yes, I tried hard to poke holes into this. The fact that it manages to hold up this well in the face of me poking it bespeaks of quality – it’s one thing to see basic rules-language integrity; it’s another beast to see complex operations performed with panache.

In short: I really like this pdf. It is one of my favorites in the whole series. Add to that the freshman bonus and we arrive at a file that is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. If you like the witch class and want to do something novel and fun with it, then check this out – it is one of the best 3pp-option books for the class out there.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Redeemer
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 08/31/2017 04:48:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages. It should be noted that the pages are formatted for 6’’ by 9’’ size (or A5), thus allowing you to fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if your sight’s good enough. All righty, so what is the redeemer?

A redeemer is a pala/antipala and rogue hybrid, whose alignment must be within one step of the patron deity’s law/chaos or good/evil axis, The class gets d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons + hand crossbow and light armor as well as shields, excluding tower shields. They gain an alignment-based aura and at 5th level, the redeemer gets access to pala or antipala prepared spellcasting, governed by Wisdom, thankfully with the alignment-determinant caveat firmly in place..

While we’re talking of auras: At 4th level, the class gets a 10-ft. aura that enhances saves versus all alignment-based saves and effects. Starting at 5th level and 1 per level (not class level?) thereafter, the redeemer gets a magic item for cost from his benefactors – which can skew the WBL, so beware there. 9th level provides immunity to charm spells and SPs and +4 to saves versus them for allies within 10 ft., with 17th level providing the same for compulsions. At 15th level, the redeemer’s weapons are always treated as one of the 4 alignment-properties for overcoming DR. 7th level provides immunity to effects that would change the redeemer’s alignment.

Okay, so far, so good – let’s take a look at the unique class features, shall we?

The first of these would be hand of redemption, which is gained at 2nd level and can be used ½ level (class level?) + Wisdom modifier times per day. This can be considered to be a combo of the paladin’s lay on hands and the antipaladin’s touch of corruption, inflicting/healing 1d6 per two class levels, + Wisdom modifier (here, we have class levels). The redeemer gets to freely choose whether to inflict damage or heal and may employ negative and positive energy, which is very potent when used in conjunction with undead PCs. He also treats the ability as the antipaladin and paladin ability for the purpose of prerequisites and for qualifying for Extra Mercy/Cruelty.

Starting at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, he gains a redeemer talent, which can provide channel energy (powered by two uses of the hand of redemption) at full level, though here, positive or negative energy must be chosen. Dodge (Yay?) and SP-based low-level divine magic can also be chosen alongside rogue talents and cruelties/mercies. 6th level also unlocks a talent to have two reckonings active at once.

Reckonings? Yep, that would be the second unique ability, and it’s available from the first level onwards. Reckonings last 1 minute per class level (which MUST be consecutive!) and may be started and dismissed as swift actions. We begin with 1/day reckoning and increase that daily number by +1/day at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Reckoning comes in three options, in structure not wholly unlike judgments: 1) if the redeemer’s Wisdom score exceeds that of the target’s Dexterity, if the target doesn’t get Dex-mod to AC or when flanking the target, we get basically sneak attack bonus damage, with number of dice increasing by +1d6 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Additionally, the redeemer gets ½ class level to Sense Motive checks.

The second use of reckoning duplicates locate object, at 5th level alternatively locate creature. “Doing so extends the reckoning’s duration to 10 minutes per level.” Does that apply only to the locate creature use? Not sure. Additionally, the redeemer gets + Wisdom modifier to Steal attempts (bonus type not mentioned) and no longer provokes AoOs while attempting them. He also gets +1/2 class level to Sleight of Hand.

Thirdly, we have the option to add Wisdom modifier to initiative checks and Reflex saves as well as +1/2 class level to Perception to locate traps and Disable Device checks, the latter of which may be used to disarm magical traps. He also gains +1 dodge bonus to AC, which increases by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.

At 10th level, one reckoning must be chosen to improve: The improvements, in sequence, are: +1d6 precision damage for the pseudo-sneak; +2 to Sleight of Hand and Steal attempts; or +2 to Reflex saves. 11th level provides the means to expend two uses of reckoning to grant the ability to all allies within 10 ft. “the bonuses last for 1 minute” – as a free action. Okay, so does it have to be the same reckoning as the one of the redeemer, if any? Is it intentional that the redeemer is excluded from this use RAW? RAW, there is no limit on how many reckonings may be active at a given time. That being said, you can’t combo the ability with the double-reckoning-talent. Thankfully.

20th level turns one form of reckoning into a constant ability. Instead of classic archetypes, we do receive a variety of alternate reckonings, including their 10th level iterations. These include being able to freely use all weapons sans penalties while in reckoning and 1/round negating a single AoO (WTF!) as well as adding Wisdom modifier to secondary attack rolls when making full attack action. I assume that to pertain to the second of iterative attacks since 10th level provides that for tertiary attacks, but how does it interact with TWF? Flurries? No idea.

The second reckoning that would replace the sneak attack-y one allows for the use of all combat maneuvers (!) sans AoOs as well as +Wisdom modifier to CMB, +1/2 Wisdom modifier to CMD. At 10th level, we choose one combat maneuver…and gain immunity to it. Flat-out immunity. Deity sunders your blade? Pff, am immune. Not a fan.

Okay, the second reckoning may be replaced with skill boosts when dealing with animals and magical beasts and a better CMD against them or better infiltration skills. The third reckoning can be replaced with a scaling save versus all spells and progressively better magic detection/perception-SPs while in the reckoning. Finally, we have better wilderness survival and Wisdom modifier to melee atk and damage versus plants and elementals.

The pdf comes with a massive array of FCOs for the core races and beyond, many of which add +3 rounds to one reckoning’s duration or 1/6 talent. The pdf comes with a bonus-file penned by Mark Gedak, which contains Esmeralda Alectis, who is a sample CR 8 tiefling redeemer.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are very good. On a rules-language level, the pdf is also sufficiently precise to be considered very good, if not perfect. Layout adheres to Purple Duck games’ 1-column standard, is printer-friendly with purple highlights being the only color. The pdf has no artworks apart from the cover, but comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

The redeemer is not the first hybrid class by Aaron Hollingworth I’ve read, but honestly, I may have expected a bit too much here. The redemption-angle of the class exists in all but name; we have no notes on how e.g. antipalas could become redeemers or how paladins could become redeemers…but that is an issue of nomenclature. I did expect to see a sample code of conduct or two, though….but that falls behind my one central gripe with the class: You see, the redeemer is a very strong and nova-y option: The numerical double-attribute boosts are potent and with the very limited reckoning-uses, the class is predisposed to be rather bursty regarding power…but so, kinda, are antipala and paladin. However, these two do not have the massive skill array in addition to their other tricks.

The limited reckonings and their powers mean that, honestly, using the skill-based reckonings is almost always a bad idea, when the sheer power-upgrades draw from the same resource – making choice matter more would have helped there. The rogue-aspect is also very subdued, as far as I’m concerned and the lack of a fluffy niche for the class makes it pale for me.

And then there’s the big issue – I don’t think, just by describing the class in-game, it’d be able to distinguish it from pala or antipala. They have a flexibility-edge via energy availability, but they lack unique things to do beyond escalation of numbers. Comparably, they are frankly a bit too good for my tastes. Combined with the lack of a proper unique feeling and niche, that makes me shrug and move on; in comparison with the INSPIRED Vessel the author has penned, the redeemer is surprisingly bloodless and standard. I try hard to avoid writing “meh” in my reviews, but that is exactly, the perfect summary of how this made me feel – perhaps it’s me being jaded, but…I was kinda bored by this fellow.

I’m not a big fan of several design-decisions here and, worse, at least to me the class remained very pale; much more so than his Armjack and DEFINITELY more so than his excellent Luminary and Vessel, which I’d advise you to get instead – these two are pretty much worth getting ASAP.

Ultimately, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, though I will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Vigilantes of Horror II
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 08/28/2017 05:50:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second supplement dealing with horrific vigilantes clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first of all, the archetypes all make use of the variant, transformative Dual Identity variant introduced in the first Vigilantes of Horror-pdf, and yes, it has been reproduced for your convenience here. So, what are the archetypes I’m talking about? The first of these would be a modification that can be applied to them all: The revealed monster, who loses aforementioned dual identity and seamless guise with Toughness and +1 to natural armor bonus, increasing that at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Instead of social talents, the archetype gains bonus feats, which may not be combat feats, item creation feats, Extra Vigilante Talent (important) or metamagic feats – or, alternatively, 2 traits. As an aside – this may be a means for GMs to change an exposed monstrous vigilante!

Okay, so what kind of archetypes do we get? The doll master begins play with 3 animated dolls, plus an additional doll at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, animating and de-animating one doll as an immediate action. The doll master can control a maximum of 2 such dolls at any given time. The doll base stats are provided, but things become a tad bit more complex: Upon creation, the doll master chooses one role for the doll and he may never have more than 2 dolls of a given role. The roles btw. correspond, analogue to spirits etc., to the mythic roles: Archmages and Hierophants provide limited SPs, champions and guardians defensive options and e.g. Marshall dolls provide a morale bonus based buff alongside some numerical boons – though it does have an obvious “See Page XX”-glitch that should have been caught.

Trickster dolls, among other things, obviously gain sneak attack. It should be noted that these abilities increase in potency at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. The pdf concisely covers the means to replace destroyed dolls. Dolls, potent though they be, replace the vigilante specialization. Vigilante talents sans requirements that the doll master learns may instead by granted to the doll – this means that the doll master does not have it, though. When such a doll is destroyed and replaced, the new one does have the doll, which is a plus. 5th level provides startling appearance for the dolls, with 11th and 17th level yielding the follow-up appearance abilities for them. They also, btw., become really good at impersonating mundane dolls.

Beyond this significant modification of the base class, the archetype also sports an exclusive talent, which may be selected multiple times, increasing the potency and options available for the dolls – climb speed, burrow speed, attaching – you get the idea. All in all, an interesting pet-class version of the vigilante, which comes with an amazing full-color artwork.

The second archetype featured in this book would be the glaub, who represents the sentient ooze/blob-angle – instead of vigilante specialization, these guys can perform AoO-less overruns, adding scaling acid damage to targets knocked prone thus. As a minor complaint: The slam attack does not note that it’s a primary natural attack, requiring that you default to the standards. Instead of 1st level’s social talent, the character gains acid resistance 5, which increases by 5 at 3rd, 7th and 10th level, replacing unshakeable. 2nd level’s vigilante talent is replaced with a 10% chance to ignore critical hits and sneak attacks, which increases by +5% per class level attained, up to full 100% immunity at 20th level. Okay, does this stack with light/heavy fortification? No idea.

Starting at 4th level, as part of a standard action, the glaub can slime – all creatures through whose squares the glaub moves must either choose: Make an AoO or try to avoid being slimed (non-scaling Ref-save makes the latter option lose its potency at higher levels ) –slimed opponents take acid damage and are nauseated, but may make Ref-saves against a scaling DC to scrape off the slime. Starting at 12th level, provided the glaub takes the right vigilante talent, targets being slimed are also blinded. 6th level provides a 30 ft.-range option to sling acid damage dealing slime. The damage of this and slams, slime, etc. increases at 10th level. 14th level yields immunity to being tripped and the glaub can no longer be flanked and gains all-around vision. The other exclusive talents of the archetype yield reflexive acid damage, adding entangling to sliming foes, gaining grab in conjunction with slams and the follow-up talent to suffocate grappled targets…which can be rather OP with a min-maxed grappling build. I’d strongly suggest at least tying that to being pinned rather than grappling foes.

The grotesque gains a specific type of bardic performance variant ( 4 + Charisma modifier rounds, +2 per level – which should probably be class level), with 7th and 13th level decreasing the activation action from standard to move and swift action, respectively. Satire is an AoE-debuff to attack and damage rolls and saves versus fear- and charm-effects, increasing the penalty thus caused at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. 4th level unlocks mockery, a scaling single-target Charisma-debuff. Inspire weakness nets at 10th level two negative levels to a target, increasing the number of targets affected every 3 levels beyond 9th (slightly off formula – but the maximum of 18th level makes me think that it’s intentional) – and before you’re asking: No, you can’t cheese this, the negative levels vanish upon ending the performance and have a proper save. This replaces the vigilante specialization and the talents gained at 4th, 8th and 10th level and those gained at 14th and 20th level. Grotesques may learn bardic masterpieces they qualify for instead of feats or vigilante talents.

3rd level provides +4 to saves versus fear, energy drain, death effects and necromantic effects , replacing unshakeable. The bonus increases at 9th and 15th level. 6th level’s vigilante talent is exchanged for allows for the use of Perform (keyboard) or Perform (percussion) instead of Intimidate for demoralization purposes and gains +1/2 vigilante level to the check. Furthermore, saves versus fear effects caused by the grotesque are made at a -2 penalty, increasing by -1 every 5 levels thereafter.

The inexorable killer’s melee and thrown weapon ranged attacks inflict +1d6 damage versus targets subject to fear effects – cool: The ability covers both the regular fear conditions AND those featured in Horror Adventures. This damage increases at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter and if he is the source of the fear, he also gets +1 to attack rolls against the target, with scaling of +1 at the same levels that get the bonus damage upgrade. When using a terror strike thus, starting at 2nd level, the killer can Cha-mod times per day as an immediate action heal 5 hit points per terror strike’s bonus damage die. 3rd level provides a bonus to track victims after having struck them, as well as gaining a bonus on checks made to demoralize that target – he may only have one such victim active at one time. Solid. 4th level yields aura of menace and 6th level upgrades terror strike’s damage out put: The bonus damage is doubled versus unarmed and flat-footed foes: Kudos: Improved Unarmed Strike, natural attacks etc. are exempt from that. 18th level resurrects the slain killer 1d4 years after he has been dispatched – and an ally of the killer can sacrifice 10 people as a substitution material component to call the killer back from the dead. While this provides a sort of immortality, at 18th level, this makes sense and can be countered…and it’s really, really flavorful.

Nightmare prowler vigilantes receive a modified class skill list as well as a decreased number of skills per level –only 4 + Int-mod. They also lose proficiency with medium armor and are proficient with simple weapons and one exotic weapon of their choice. The archetype casts spells as a psychic, but uses Charisma as governing attribute for spellcasting, replacing 4th, 8th, 10th, 14th and 16th’s level’s vigilante talent. An important limit: The archetype can only cast spells with the evil, fear, pain or mind-influencing descriptors from the psychic and sorc/wizard-lists. 5th level provides the option to 1/day as a full-round action duplicate ethereal jaunt for up to class level rounds. The prowler can’t attack while in this form, but his spells may affect sleeping, meditating or unconscious creatures – such targets also take 1d6 slashing damage per spell level, waking up on a successful save 10th level allows the archetype to affect creatures suffering from a number of negative conditions and 20th level delimits the ability. This is a very potent archetype; personally, I think that the bonus damage should allow for its own save or at least half damage upon making the save, but that may be me. If you enjoy the obvious Freddy-style of the archetype and want it to be sufficiently deadly…well, up to +9d6 guaranteed damage per spell can do that.

Strange Invaders replace vigilante specialization with the omicron beam, which can be fire Intelligence modifier + class level times per day, in a 5 ft. wide, 30 ft.-line, dealing a base damage of 1d4 untyped (not a fan of this, but it IS at least properly spelled out!) damage, increasing the damage output at every odd level. And yeah, Ref-save halves, so that remains palpable. Really interesting: Invaders exchange the penalties and bonuses gained by morale/fear-effects; I LOVE this, idea-wise, but I do think that morale bonuses, switched to penalties, should then allow for a save. The appearance ability tree at 5th level is replaced with losing type and subtype, becoming basically a type-wise non-entity; additionally, the archetype treats cold damage as nonlethal damage starting at this level. The talents of the archetype interact with omicron beams, allowing for shaping of the beam – and the consumption of those eliminated via the beam. There is a remnant “End” in one of the abilities, though.

The towering terror increases HD to d10 and reduced skills per level to 2 + Intelligence, but loses all armor proficiency. Instead of vigilante specialization, the character is permanently affected by enlarge person and monkey fish, while also gaining slam attack (need to default to primary here) and a natural AC bonus equal to Constitution modifier, with 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter increasing the size. It’s a bit of a pity that higher level terrors can’t control their size-increase – the size-increase can be detrimental, particularly at higher levels. Starting at 3rd level, the archetype no longer takes size penalties in urban, mountain and water terrain, which is pretty cool. 6th level yields the option to inflict double damage with slams versus unattended objects. At 18th level , the character gets to choose one of several abilities, from grab to trample. Since the character gets a size-increase at 12th level, losing both 12th and 18th level’s talents for this does make sense.

The final archetype would be the witchspawn, who is always hovering 1 inch and halving weight, with +2 to ref-saves. 5th level yields a fly speed (not flight speed) equal to base land speed, but fails to specify maneuverability – boo! The archetype can summona rotten skeletal arm within 30 ft., +10 ft. at 3rd level and every 2 class levels thereafter. This arm is treaed as a primary natural attack inflicting 1d6 damage (damage type?) , using Charisma to govern attack and damage bonus. The arm lasts for Charisma modifier rounds, and has ¼ of the vigilante’s hit point. Would that be current or maximum hit points? What if a vigilante has less than 4 hit points? No idea. The arm can make Disable Device checks at a -2 penalty and at 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the vigilante can summon forth an additional claw when using this ability. Here, the limb is suddenly classified as a claw, which allows for the defaulting of damage types, at least. 7th level increases the critical threat range to 19 – 20, with1 4th level increasing it to 18 – 20.

2nd level yields a non-harmless hex, but these may only affect a target damaged by an arm, as though using Hex Strike. However, triggering the hex is a swift action. 8th level and every 6 levels thereafter yields another hex, with 14th level unlocking major hexes. 3rd level yields hex ward instead of unshakeable. 10th level provides the option, to, as a full-round action, use the arms to drag creatures into solid objects, dazing them on a failed save. 17th level allows for the inflicting of negative levels via concerted claw attacks…which is slightly problematic. It only refers to “claws”, not the claws called forth by the ability, making this very potent for vigilantes who have claws themselves. 20th level unlocks a grand hex.

The vigilante also gets to choose from 2 new social talents – one for 2 traits and one that nets an aura that penalizes saves versus fear-effects and Perception…but also yields an initiative bonus, dismissable at-will as a free action…really interesting! Two thumbs up for this one. The pdf also sports two vigilante talents – one for a second slam attack and one that nets a corruption manifestation sans having to acquire the associated corruption, though the manifestation may not have prerequisites.

The nice tradition of sporting vendettas as nice roleplaying angles is continued in this pdf. The pdf also sports haunted items – which may not be created – these are basically horror-themed items, like whips that animate to lash out, bottles containing grudges…these items are flavorful and ooze cool horror-tropes – big kudos there. Beyond these, eldritch items, also intended as adventure hooks, can similarly not be created or fully understood, including weird infrasound instruments, bolts of etheric silk or the strange last hourglass. Nice: The pdf does offer magic item properties for crafting purposes that interact with Horror Adventure’s expanded fear-system – for this alone, this may well be worth getting for some campaigns.

The pdf comes with a bonus pdf penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr – it depicts the Blood Scarecrow monster (with neat full-color artwork) at CR 4 – who not only gets a throwing pitchfork, but also the ability to choke foes and fly in moonlight. Oh, and paralyzing gaze. It’s a brutal foe for CR 4 and definitely a worthwhile challenge for heroes, unlike many, many iterations of the trope.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good to good on a formal level; however, on a rules-language level, while the pdf gets a LOT really well, often complex operations, it does sport some hiccups that act as slight detriments, sometimes influencing the rules-language. Layout adheres to PDG’s printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf’s full-color pieces are pretty damn cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Aaron Hollingworth’s growth as a designer, when compared to book I, is pretty evident: The designs are bolder, more unique and provide meaningful alterations to the base chassis, with very strong themes for all options. The book risks more and for the most part, in spite of the risks and higher complexity of the abilities, it does a better job at what it sets out to do; I found myself smiling at many pieces of content here, though the rules-language does stumble in a few cases. With a bit polishing in that regard, this could have been one of the best vigilante-supplements out there. Scratch that, even with these hiccups, it still is a pretty impressive book and one of my definite favorites regarding option books for the class. In fact, more so than any other book of vigilante supplements, this one may be worth getting even if you don’t use the class for PCs – as an NPC-toolkit and due to the inspiring items, this has something to offer beyond the options for the class.

While not perfect, this comes still with a definite recommendation at 4.5 stars, and while personally, I love this, in my official capacity as reviewer, I have to account for the minor flaws and thus can’t round up. Still, very much worth getting if the content mentioned even remotely intrigues you!

Endzeitgeist out.



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Vigilantes of Horror II
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Vigilantes of Horror
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 08/25/2017 05:02:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of class-options in Purple Duck Games series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all – all archetypes herein share a certain leitmotif, namely that they employ the classic Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy, classifying the vigilante identity as something monstrous; as this transformation is more than the application of make-up etc., e.g. hats of disguise (not properly italicized, in a nitpick – as a whole, I noticed a few instances of spell references etc. that should be italicized) do not hasten the procedure; the monstrous vigilante identity may not be good and as such, a good character changing into it must succeed a Will-save, mirroring to a degree Jekyll’s struggle. This holds true for all vigilantes of horror and thus, this modification of Dual Identity precedes the following archetypes.

All righty, so what do the archetypes offer? The corpseborn, basically the Frankenstein#s monster-equivalent, replaces vigilante specialization with jolting nerves, usable 1/day +1/day at every odd level thereafter. This makes his eyes glow and allows for the addition of 3 + character level (oddly, not class level) on any one d20 roll as an immediate action. This should imho be tied to class levels and sport a proper bonus type– RAW, the massive boost is very dippable. 2nd level makes the character count as Large for the purposes of Intimidate and combat maneuver checks instead of that level’s vigilante talent and 6th level provides electricity resistance 5, which increases by +5 every 6 levels thereafter, replacing 6th level’s vigilante talent. 12th level’s vigilante talent is replaced with immunity to bleeding damage as well as +10 to Heal checks to treat the corpseborn. At 18th level, the corpseborn can execute a 1/day, potentially lethal save-or-die attack. Personally, I think massive damage would make sense instead and while I like how it is flavored, with electricity damage on a successful save, I think that immunity to electricity should probably render immune against it. On an aesthetic hiccup – the ability is called “Act of Revenge” and the internal text calls it “revenge attack” – not a bad glitch, mind you.

The second archetype herein would be the loup garou, who is moon-influenced and thus gains +2 to initiative Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth and Survival, increasing the bonus +by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. He also treats all terrain as favored terrain while outdoors and above ground, but not submerged in water. Thankfully, this does not stack with favored terrain, but it can yield some potent combinations when interacting with abilities that only work in favored terrain. This replaces the vigilante specialization. 2nd level yields a bite, 4th claw attacks (properly codified!! YES!), both instead of vigilante talents. 6th level yields +2 to Will-saves while in vigilante identity, +1 every 6 levels thereafter. 12th level provides DR 10/silver, which increases by +5 every 4 levels thereafter and 18th level nets at-will locate creature.

The mummified replaces the specialization with entangler, which is basically a Charisma-based SP entangle with a 30 ft.-range. First, affecting only one target, + an additional target at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter. Again, I think that ought to be class levels, but I may be wrong here. 2nd level provides a +2 bonus to saves versus disease, death effects and poisons that increases by +1 at 8th level , 12th and 18th level. 6th level provides a 25% chance to ignore crits and precision damage etc., stacking with light fortification, but not heavy fortification – both of which are not italicized.12th level yields a mummy’s despair aura, usable for class level + Charisma modifier rounds per day and thankfully, with a 24-hour caveat and proper activation action– kudos there! 18th level nets a nice curse.

Podling vigilantes nets a Will-save penalizing pollen/spore aura that increases in potency at 5th level and every 5 levels after that– and thankfully comes with a means to immunize fellow adventurers. 2nd level yields a thorn body-equivalent ability, usable for class level round per day and 6th level provides at-will tree shape, with 12th level providing plant shape I, which upgrades to II and III at 14th and 16th level, respectively. 18th level yields the ability to generate low-CR plant creatures…which is pretty cool! Reeflings get increasing non-lethal bonus damage when using unarmed strikes versus grappled foes and better grappling capabilities as well as the means to carry around heavy loads unimpeded, making for a solid abductor angle. 2nd level provides swim speed equal to land speed and +4 Stealth (should be capitalized) while swimming. 6th level yields properly codified claws….that should mention that the nonlethal bonus damage can be inflicted with them – RAW, unarmed attacks =/= natural attacks. 12th level provides +1 natural armor bonus with accompanying keen armor spikes, and 18th level nets water breathing as well as deep dweller.

The vampiryst vigilante can suck blood from helpless/pinned/etc. targets to heal and/or gain temporary hit points – with a cap AND the important caveat that prevents abuse of the ability via a bag of kittens – kudos! The archetype is also extremely adept at throwing off suspicion regarding the alternate identity and is treated as undead in vigilante identity – solid modification of seamless guise.2nd level yields a properly codified bite attack and 6th level, your choice of either claw or slam attacks – properly codified, once more. 12th level yields DR 3/silver and magic and cold resistance, both of which increases at 16th and 20th level. 18th level yields beast shape II and the ability to communicate with the children of the night. Finally, the vanished may, at 2nd level, duplicate invisibility for class level + Charisma modifier rounds, but also becomes slightly insane while vanished thus, taking a -2 penalty to Will-saves. 6th level provides the character’s choice of always ghost touch, SPs or a deflection bonus to AC while invisible and 12th level upgrades the invisibility to greater invisibility, but also increases the Will-penalty. At 18th level, entering invisibility also is accompanied by a constant rage. And yes, this guy does not trade in the vigilante specialization, just fyi

This is only where the pdf starts, though: 9 social talents include undead nobility (mindless undead don’t attack you, unless commanded), gaining a willing victim (love interest, Igor… with all 10 ability scores), easier means of purchasing mundane items (though they are fragile), etc. – these are flavorful and make sense. The pdf’s main meat, apart from the aforementioned archetypes, however, would be the massive list of vigilante talents: From being able to properly yield absurd weaponry (lethal damage via non-lethal weapons, +1 damage for improvised weapons), 1/day Jason-style short-range teleport (not italicized properly…)…oh, and torturing helpless victims to deal ability damage and confuse them, aquatic adaption, vomiting acid splash, burrowing…what about corpseborn vigilantes gaining electrical spikes? Yeah, there are some gems here…but admittedly also some filler talents à la”+1 to CMD”. That being said, I absolutely ADORE the ability to 1/week choose a sensation like a smell, a sound – you know the like. All creatures within 10 miles get that sensation, subtly alerting them to your presence. While an activation action would have been nice, seeing how it is more of a NPC/flavor ability, chances are you won’t use it in battle…or would you? You see, it makes for a potent alarm-system, so yeah…activation action would have been nice: Though Su would make me assume standard, immediate would make more sense to me. Gliding capes, better grappling via tentacles/vines/bandages, better Escape Artist via temporarily taking off a limb – there are some real gems here that fit perfectly with the themes. What about adding silence to the appearance-based angles? Oh, and there would be the talent that lets you eat two types of organs from a corpse to heal ability damage or remove negative conditions…

Really neat: The pdf sports 20 sample vendettas, basically in-character goals that fit with the horror vigilante-theme. The final page is devoted to new magic items, all of which are situated in the upper power/price echelon: Coffin Armor for the discerning, traveling vampire. The noose of strangulation, a really potent killer-whip….the razor-glove of the dreamslayer (cue Freddy…) and more…these items rock and end the pdf on a high note. The pdf also comes with a bonus-file, penned by Mark Gedak, one depicting Augustus Silvermane, a CR 6 aasimar rook.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf has a couple of hiccups and oversights, but the formatting in particular is the most inconsistent part here – both regarding italicizations and class vs. character level, there are a couple of glitches that do influence the rules-integrity of the pdf. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ two-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly, with only purple highlights. The pdf has neat full-color artworks inside and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am a sucker for the classic horror monsters. There, I said it. I read them all. I wrote papers about them. I GM’d Ravenloft for the better part of my adult life. As such, it should come as no surprise that I’m really, really enjoying this pdf – and if you’re like me, you’ll probably feel the same. As a GM toolkit or as a file for someone looking for a more morally ambiguous vigilante experience steeped in the classics of Gothic Horror, well, this is for you.

At the same time, one could also make a good point for Aaron hollingworth’s pdf falling short of the excellence it could have achieved – the hiccups in the rules-language do accumulate, to the point where min-maxy players can get some problematic combos out of dipping….issues that could have easily been prevented. My second gripe with the pdf would be that the vigilante talents sport some filler that made me question why it’s there in the first place – apart from min-maxing number-boosts.

That being said, the pdf does contain some gems and the aforementioned issues do not require much GM skill to handle; as a whole, this does have sufficient rules-integrity to use as written. Still, as much as I love a lot of the tricks herein, the glitches do drag this down a notch – my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – well worth checking out if you like the idea, in spite of the rough edges.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Hybrid Class: Vessel
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 08/16/2017 06:42:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Hybrid Class clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the vessel? In short, it is a hybrid class of the medium and the oracle, but that is not really enough to adequately describe it. Chassis-wise, the class gets ¾ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, d8 HD, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armor and 4 + Int skills per level. Vessels start drawing spells from both medium and cleric spell-lists, starting at 4th level, casting them as psychic spells which are governed by Charisma as spellcasting attribute. As you will have noted, they are cast spontaneously and the class does not treat cleric spells of higher than 4th level as belonging to the list and is beholden to alignment restrictions regarding cleric spells. This also btw. Takes into account how orisons are treated as knacks. It should be noted, btw., that the class comes with a massive, custom spell-list you can use instead of blowing it wide open. An interesting pecualirity would be that the class does not cast at -3 levels, in spite of gaining spellcasting late – this does look like it may be an intentional decision, however.

Now, it is impossible to talk about this class without first explaining the centerpiece of the class, the cursed spirits: 6 are presented and he may choose one upon preparing spells, being granted divine bonuses and revelations that may be prepared. Similarly, each spirit is also defined by a curse the vessel must bear while thus possessed. A vessel can prepare one revelation from a spirit, +1 at 3rd level and every levels tehreafter. Unless otherwise noted, these are standard actions and the vessel can dismiss spirits as a full-round action, losing the respective abilities. Saving throw DCs are governed by Charisma and follow the 10 + ½ class level + Cha-mod formula. A vessel gains a spirit bonus while channeling a spirit, starting at +1 at 1st level and increasing that by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter.

Starting at 2nd level, the vessel may avoid failure: After rolling a d20, the vessel can allow his cursed spirit to add +1d4 without requiring an action. This may be used 2 + Charisma modifier times per day and 10th and 20th level increase die-size by one step. At 4th level and again at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the vessel may once completely reassign his skills over night. 5th level yields location channel, duplicating call spirit and requiring that other characters pose the questions. 7th level eliminates the requirement for a special connection to the spirit called via location channel. 13th level yields a reliable, non-draining contact other plane. 14th level provides astral projection, but 18th level becomes really interesting: If an ally that has participated in the special location channel seance (which, like other abilities, refer to it as seance – which it is, granted, but using the name would have been better) dies, the vessel can take his spirit, forming basically a two-player gestalt – really cool, as it allows for the dead PC’s player to still act! The complex rules also work. The capstone may be freely chosen from the spirits and remains active, regardless of spirit inhabiting the vessel. These are potent and flavorful.

Okay, so, what do these spirits do? Well, the Babling Priest is cursed by tongues, with 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter yielding an increase of the powers granted by the curse. Each spirit has unique, custom revelations that include, in this one as an example, better spellcasting under the starry sky, calling down the cold of interstellar cold, immunity to lycanthropy or the like; big kudos for going the extra mile and providing custom packages for the spirits! The other spirits share, btw., a similarly strong array of leitmotifs: The blinded warlord gets battlecries, healing and defensive capabilities, and special, supernatural martial tricks. The disturbed captain is haunted and can call forth the spirits of the dead as shields, as buffs, become incorporeal, etc. The hobbled lictor may be lame (regarding his legs), but is anything but lame, design-wise: With his rusting grasp, item conjuration, scrying through iron and his martial tricks, he makes for a damn cool spirit. The unhearing criminal is one with his city, a nameless killer hiding in urban environments and from urban survival to intelligence gathering, he is the spirit you want. The withered sage, struck by wasting, provides limited arcane spell access and may use his Charisma instead of Dex for AC and Ref-saves with the right revelation. Symbol spells and Knowledge tricks complement this one.

All of these spirits have several things in common: They feel complex and interesting, archetypical without being too specific; they offer a surprisingly unique variety of tricks each and they make for damn cool options. Oh, and their rules-language is point on. They also breathe that sense of the occult, of slight hints of the darker, that really made the class stand out for me. Now, if you prefer a less occult-feeling version, fret not: I’d like to direct your attention to the archetype presented herein, namely the primalist, who replaces the spirits gained by the regular vessel with elemental spirits (no surprise there, given Porphyra’s element-theme) –beyond the 4 classic elements, creation and destruction make up for the missing two spirits to bring the archetype to 6: And yes, these are depicted in just the same, highly-detailed manner.

And yes, they have curses assigned to them, which is a bit weaker from a fluff point of view in my mind, but retains the spirit (haha!) of the class. The custom revelation lists for these fellows include being able to assume a form of pure life eenergy that allows you to walk through allies to heal them (with a limit, thankfully!) or damage the undead; stagger foes with attack spell crits; establishing life links…we have some healing options here that are relatively unique and uncheesable. Now, not all aspects are perfect – uttering a doom-prophecy debuff, for example, imho should be language-dependant and is “only” mind-affecting – but as a whole, the mechanics are surprisingly concise and really well-crafted. Seeing through stone and earth, gaining steelbreaking skin…it’s really uncanny. Whenever I think I have seen everything cool that can be done with the very well-covered elemental theme, some author from PDG’s cadre surprises me in a positive manner!

4 feats are included: One can double the spirit surge bonus for a 1 hour cool-down; 1 nets +1 revelation. Mixed spirits allows you to be inhabited by 2 spirits, with stacking benefits and penalties, which is pretty much a must-have feat for the class, locked behind 2nd level, which may be a bit early. Wakeful Spirit lets the spirit guard you while sleeping and allows you to wake up as a move action, sans this hassle with the sleeping rules. The pdf provides a massive list of favored class options, which cover not only the core races and some of the more exotic ones, but also a significant assortment of Porphyran races. These are all solid and we conclude with Madame Xemu, a sample CR ½ level 1 human vessel currently inhabited by the disgruntled captain.

The pdf also comes with a bonus file: The Shadowcat monster, penned by Mark Gedak. Clocking in at CR 8, we have basically a psionic chameleon cat with a serious damage output Really deadly and perfect for when your PCs stopped fearing dire lions etc. At Str 25, these fellows bring the pain!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. On both a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no crucial hiccups and the only valid complaint I could come up with would be the nomenclature of referring to seances. That’s it. Layout adheres to a full-sized 2-column standard in b/w with purple highlights – printer-friendly, no complaints. The pdf has no art apart from the covers. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks and all. The bonus pdf has no bookmarks, but since it contains one creature, they wouldn’t have made sense anyways.

First of all: Kudos to editors, Perry Fehr and N. Jolly for making this as crisp as it is –bonus types are concise, complex rules precise and healing is cheese-proof. And, of course, the congratulations should extend to the author Aaron Hollingsworth, who has come a long way indeed. You see, hybrid classes have a tough position: In order to be truly valid, they have to be more than the sum of their parent classes. Similarly, they need something that sets them apart as a distinct entity, something unique that changes the playing experience beyond what a simple archetype could provide. And preferably, they should also have their own in-game identity. The vessel succeeds at all those tasks. The low-level spellcasting capping at 4th level makes the class not one for novice players, but the spirits are amazing. The flexibility is here and the vessel plays in a truly distinct and interesting manner.

The spirits are cooler than those of the standard medium, at least as far as I’m concerned, and they offer a serious array of unique options that make the class feel unique. The bang for buck ratio is also strong in this one: You get basically an alternate class as an archetype (MASSIVE!) that’s just as strong, if in a different tone, as the base class and the length of the options is neat, particularly considering the more than fair price point. Now yes, I had a couple of comments here and there, but I honestly consider the vessel to be one of the best hybrid classes I’ve covered so far – precise, unique, fun – this is well worth getting and I really hope we’ll get alternate spirits at one point, to exchange with the existing ones – the archetypical, storied tropes employed here really struck a chord with me. If you even remotely like how occult classes feel, then this is a must.

In short: This is an excellent, affordable offering, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



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CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Wood
par Florent D. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/02/2017 07:17:15

Very fun module. Exactly what i was searching for for my "goblin funnel". I know it's a niche product for a a sub-genre, but if you want to play a goblin funnel, this is exactly what you need ! I played the module with D&D5 and the "fifth edition funnel" rules (you can find them on DTrpg), re-worked some rules for about 3 hours to convert DCC to 5th and it went really smoothly. We had a real good time and quite a laugh :-) Thx purple duck !



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CE 8 - Goblins of the Faerie Wood
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Stock Art: Dragonmagi
par Steven T. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 07/31/2017 12:50:01

Gary always provides top notch artwork, whether it's stock art or an original commission for a project.



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Gunslingers Unchained
par Thilo G. [Testeur star] Date Ajoutée: 07/14/2017 04:28:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content. It should be noted that these pages are formatted for booklet-sized supplements, meaning you can fit up to 4 pages of the pdf on a given sheet of paper when printing it out, provided your eye-sight's good enough, that is.

The unchained gunslinger presented herein gets d10 HD, 4+ Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons and firearms as well as light armors. They begin play with Gunsmith and blunderbuss, musket or pistol as choices. The gunslinger must maintain the weapon each morning - failure to spend 10 minutes with a gunsmith's kit means that he loses the Gun Training bonuses. These are gained at 4th level and require that the gunslinger chooses one specific firearm: he gets + Dex-mod damage with it and reduces the misfire rate by 1 to a minimum of 0. Misfires with it increase the misfire value by only 2 instead of 4 Every 4 levels thereafter, the gunslinger gains gun training with a new gun and further decreases the misfire value by 1 - I assume for all guns, but RAW, it could be read as pertaining only to guns with previously existing gun training. When a gunslinger gains a new guntraining, he gains a +1 bonus to damage with all firearms chosen for gun training on previous levels A new gun training is gained every 4 levels after the 4th, excluding the 20th. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter net a bonus feat chosen from the combat and grit-feats.

True grit, just fyi, remains unchanged, though there is a serious change to grit: For the unchained gunslinger, it is governed by Intelligence, rather than the default Wisdom, which makes the gunslinger class more skill-friendly.

Okay, so far, so common, right? Well, this is pretty much where the similarities to the regular iteration come to a screeching halt: The deed-system has been completely revamped: For one, you do NOT automatically get a variety of deeds at certain levels - instead we have player agenda, namely a new deed gained at 1st level and every 2 levels thereafter. Furthermore, the deeds each now have an active AND a passive component: The passive one is always on as long as the gunslinger has a point of grit left. The active one may be activated by spending the grit cost. Furthermore, the class recognizes so-called Trick Shot deeds as a subcategory, which may be activated as part of an attack, even a full attack, with free selection of which shot will be used - however, only one trick shot deed may be performed in one full attack, providing some nice tactical considerations.

The benefits of the respective deeds tend to scale in two steps and some feature minimum level requirements. Saving throw DCs, when applicable, are btw. governed by Intelligence. - but let's take a look at their precise benefits: Advanced Training hinges on choosing two skills; one of these may be a non-class skills, which becomes a class skill: These skills gain a surge-like bonus while the gunslinger has grit, one that actually behaves like an exploding die: Rolls of "4" let you roll again and total the maximum, with Intelligence modifier capping the exploding die. While one sentence is slightly awkward in its verbiage here, the intent remains pretty clear. By expending one point of grit, the gunslinger gains the Skill Unlock's benefits for the next application with one such skill. I assume that ranks still matter and that this works with taking 10 and 20, but clarification would have been nice here, if only to err on the side of caution.

Where things get really nasty is Cheat Death: When reduced below 0 hp, spend four grit to instead be reduced to only 1 hit point. This can thankfully only be done 1/round. Passive bonus-wise, we have scaling bonuses to Fort-saves to stabilize...wait, what? That would not be correct - stabilizing requires Constitution checks last time I checked, not Fort-saves! The 4 grit-cost is brutal and means you won't be doing it often - neither can you maintain a reliable invincibility, which is a good thing in my book. Still, I do think this should have a minimum level. A level 1 gunslinger being able to withstand a meteor swarm just feels wrong to me.

We can also find deafening or fascinating shots, the option to cause sonic damage in bursts to those nearby when firing, fire dazzling flares (including the option to shoot them at targets for scaling fire damage instead). Duck for Cover now provides evasion as a passive benefit, and the option for an adjacent ally to use the worse of the two rolls of the gunslinger's Ref-save - which makes sense to me. There also is an improved version, with higher range and better benefits. Flash rounds are also interesting, increasing condition severity at higher levels as an option included. Fluorescent blasts can be neat as well. At 6th level, there is a deed that lets you spend 1 grit to bet on how often you hit. You wager 1 point of grit per attack you think will hit - if you match or exceed your bet, you gain bonus damage on all shots fired equal to 1d4 times the number of attacks that hit in the following round; if not, however, you lose double the amount of grit wagered AND imposes a penalty to damage equal to the amount of grit wagered. The passive benefit reduces the penalties for attacks beyond the first by granting a +1 bonus that scales up to +3 - which is not only insanely strong, it also can leave you in the awkward position of e.g. having a better BAB with off-hand than main hand.

Quick clear's passive benefit, just fyi, now reduces the misfire rate by 1. Quick draw provides scaling initiative bonuses (which can be very strong, particularly in mythic gameplay, I'd disallow that). Firing rounds that scent the target and make him easy to track thus are pretty damn cool, as is the option to increase movement - and upon getting far enough away from hostile creatures, you regain one grit Which is dumb. Add signature deed and you have infinite grit replenishment. after combats. This is a puzzling oversight to me, since quite a few of the deeds do take this potential reduction into account.

At 1st level, 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the class gains a really cool innovation that further sets it apart: Contraptions. These represent mechanical devices and knickknacks, which are mundane or supernatural. Contraptions have limited uses, which replenish upon resting. The verbiage that explains that Intelligence is the governing spellcasting attribute, class level the caster level for those that duplicate spell effects is somewhat jarringly non-standard, though at least functional. Similarly, there are a couple of instances throughout where italicizations have not been implemented properly - remnant (i)s have not been closed a couple of times.

But let's talk about contraptions: From earhorns that grant echolocation to breach explosives that can wreck doors, cream that temporarily increases object hardness, the ideas are really cool, though e.g. the mixing of damage types in the otherwise cool dead man's explosive west could be clearer - is it 1d6 fire + 1d6 bludgeoning damage per gunslinger level or it half fire and half bludgeoning damage? On the plus-side, yes, we do get the info to disarm them! An exoskeleton that grants haste feels weird to me - it should have stats, weight, occupy a slot...or have different dressing. I get the angle, but it doesn't really work for the benefit here. On the plus-side: Horseless carriage? 9th level breath of life-defibrillator? Engines that make food and water (prolonged use can make you really nauseous, though...), named bullets - there is a lot of cool stuff to be found, often with slightly science-fantasy-ish flair.

The pdf provides 3 archetypes: The bootleg alchemist replaces grit and the 1st level deed with an unstable mutagen and loses all deeds, replacing them with a unique formulae-progression for extracts, though he can still gain deeds via Extra Deed. The archetype also comes with sample discoveries.. The construct tinkerer can choose one of three base construct companions, gaining upgrades instead of bonus tricks - kudos: natural attacks are properly codified and having an afterburner on your companion rocks. The spell-reference to at-will mend should refer to the proper name, mending, though. It thankfully only allows the tinkerer to fix the companion. And yes, it RAW does use Handle Animal - you get a robo-dog/copter...thingy in exchange for 5 deeds. The motley gunman, the third archetype, gains the vigilante's dual identity and may choose one of three versions of his cloak of motley colors. Unfortunately, the higher level options, with some patches only being available for some cloaks, are pretty hardcore. They are, fyi, replacing the contraptions with magic abilities and a exploding dice mechanic for temporary hit points that is tied to them in per se interesting ways that do, however, oscillate regarding their power.

The feats include Extra Deeds, Contraptions, Patches and Upgrades.

The pdf comes with a cool bonus-pdf penned by Perry Fehr that depicts the Beavertail (aka Bebruzila), a Small fey with adamantine teeth and a particular aptitude for item creation when wood is concerned - nice critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are a weak point of this pdf: We have quite a few remnant "(i)"s that should have been caught and oh boy, could I pick apart non-standard wording in this one. Which brings me to the rules-language...which is actually surprisingly good! I mean it! This is a rather complex modification and for that (and the fact that this is, to my knowledge, the author's freshman offering!), this is a pretty impressive book! It is precise...for the most part. But there is a reason I harp on maintaining the precise wording - the issues that can be found fall in one of two categories and one is the glitches due to nonstandard verbiage. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column standard with purple highlights and the pdf provides a solid full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Zachery Cothern's unchained gunslinger is an impressive freshman offering - while verbiage of quite a few abilities deviates a bit from the standard, for the most part, this is a well-crafted class. The author's inexperience does show in a couple of the balance- and design-decisions, but it rears its head significantly less often than I would have expected from such an offering. More importantly, the unchained gunslinger herein actually is a more rewarding class than the base gunslinger. The Int-focus, use of contraptions etc. makes this a really interesting and, dare I say, fun option. Mathematically, a 3/4 BAB would have made sense and gotten rid of the "I always hit"-syndrome gunslingers at higher levels experience, but you can't have everything, I guess.

This pdf offers a ton of things to love and I found myself enjoying this significantly more than I thought I would. At the same time, I wish a strict rules-developer had gone over the verbiage and some of the more questionably balanced options and smoothed them over. This is, with a bit of work, pretty much a 5-star class regarding its chassis. At the same time, I can't rate what it would be with some work; I have to rate what's here. And that could, in parts, use a whack with the nerf-bat here, a minimum level requirement for a deed there - you get the idea.

If you're a GM and willing to invest a bit of time to make this fellow shine, then you'll never look back to the vanilla gunslinger. I mean it. I like this class much more than the standard version, balance-concerns of some tidbits be damned - this class is more versatile and rewarding and I love the revised deed-system with its active/passive-abilities. With one dev-pass by a veteran, this can be made into a true star of a pdf!

On the downside, if you want a class to just plug and play, then this fellow can yield some issues in the details, particularly for lower-powered gaming groups. Hence, my final verdict would be 3.5 stars, for a quintessential mixed bag on the positive side, one with brilliant highlights, but also dark shadows. I'd usually round down here...however, since this also is a freshman offering, it gets the freshman bonus and thus, my final verdict will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



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