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Cryptics of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 08/23/2016 10:25:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of the Porphyran class options-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, though it should be noted that the pdf comes in the A5-size one-column standard, so when printed out, the format would be more of a booklet style.


All right, so let's take a look at the character options in this book, which hit us right after the introductory fluff with the first archetype, which would be the chaos bringer, mainly intended for the classic and evocative erkunae, who have first been introduced to the canon of Porphyra in the Fehr's Ethnology-series. As befitting the theme of chaos, the archetype may add a touch of chaos to any power manifested, changing its parameters in an unpredictable way: Generally, 1 -6 delivers one of two negative effects; 7 -14 delivers the "neutral/none-too-inconvenient" effects (like different target chosen within a splash damage radius) and 15-20 providing the beneficial tricks. That being said, there are a couple of rough patches in the mechanics here - for example, the splash damage: Is an empty square an eligible target or not? What if there is no eligible target in the radius? Similarly, the chance to pay 0 power points or get a 50% damage increase can be pretty potent, considering the array of abilities that can grant d20-rerolls. While this does not make the archetype's base premise broken, it can lead to problems for some groups. This replaces Scribe Tattoo.


On the plus-side that I actually consider pretty well implemented, Pandemonium Disruption changes the creature type choice mechanic when gaining psionic focus, instead randomizing it and allowing for potentially multiple types, alignment types and "none" as well as "all." The interesting component here would be that the cryptic's pattern must be attuned to a creature type and usually, the attunement is an enforced part of the gaining of psionic focus - with this archetype, a lucky chaos bringer has a very good reason to basically keep the psionic focus attuned to all, providing a reason for them to maintain the focus instead of expending it. Which, per se, is nice. On a downside, the ability in no way specifies that the chaos bringer may only use this randomized attunement to a creature type in stressful situations, meaning that gaining focus and expenditure at a given adventuring days' start would be repeated by a cryptic whenever he had the time to do so - basically, as long as the archetype has enough time, he'll end up with "all", which is a pretty severe abuse that could have been mitigated by a simple caveat. Hampering truth-seekers and their spells and power, better saves versus charms and compulsions, control over thoughts read and a chaos-apotheosis-style supreme insight complement an interesting, if not perfect archetype.


Next up would be the enigmatic paradigm for the eventual race, who gains a bonus equal to Int-mod to AC and CMD while wearing no armor, carrying not more than a light load and maintaining psionic focus, thankfully including stacking caveats for monk bonuses and the like. Speaking of which - instead of the trapmaker and proficiencies, we get the unarmed damage progression and feat-wise capability of a monk here as well, setting the tone for this archetype, with Patterned Strikes being gained at second level instead of the usual insight. Similarly, starting at 6th level, these guys gain a flurry, though thankfully the archetype steers clear of combining patterns with that, restricting it to unarmed strikes. You don't know the Patterned Strikes feat? Well, it is one that will not get anywhere near my table - it allows you to add disrupt pattern to all your unarmed strikes, including iterative attacks, thus breaking the usual restriction of disrupt pattern, but while excluding the combined use of both this melee and ranged use of the ability. Here's the problem: Flurry + full disrupt pattern per attack. Nope, not getting near my table.


The underappreciated and delightfully weird Xesa plant-race, who alter their disruption to instead work via strange seeds in the target, causing damage to creatures and healing plants...and there we go, disqualified from my games. Disrupt pattern is a non-limited resource and considering the sheer array of plant races available, this means infinite healing from level 1 forwards, for the whole group if the plant character has a means of sharing hit points. OP and needs a hard whack with the nerf bat, which is a pity, since the floral-themed visuals of the archetype are pretty cool. The Dragonblood Judiciar is damn cool - they can deal nonlethal damage with their patterns and are experts at tracking foes and bringing them in alive. Pretty evocative: Starting at 6th level, when properly sentencing a foe according to the facts, they gain bonuses and better defenses against the foe. As a capstone, the archetype goes Judge Dredd with "I AM THE LAW" (Imagine me going full Stallone here), gaining save-or-suck blasts.


The Qi'tar nightrunner replaces the absorb option of altered defense with scaling miss chances, with better free-running/parkours and proper cat burglar tricks, including the option to mitigate failed Stealth checks 1/target per Stealth attempt with Bluff to create a distraction - very much obliged. I really like this archetype, though this is as well a place as any to mention that editing isn't as precise on a formal level as in some other PDG-releases - lower case "stealth", "verses" instead of "versus" - there are a couple more typo-level glitches in the pdf, though they admittedly do not usually hamper the rules-language.


The Avoodim Purifier increases the damage output versus outsiders (all of them, not only a subtype) and gains several abilities to enhance his knowledge versus outsiders as well as the option to add this variant of disruptive pattern to melee attacks performed with slashing weapons instead of swift trapper...which is pretty potent. Let's take a look: The ability does specify that it is the exception to the 1/round caveat - so far, so good. The problem lies within the contradictory wording, which makes me believe that some sort of balancing caveat was lost somewhere: "A purifier can use his disruptive outsider as part of any or all attacks made with slashing weapons he makes." and "The purifier cannot use this ability as part of an edged melee attack and as a ray attack in the same round." So, what is "edged"? Can it or can't it be used? I thought it was slashing melee exclusive, so why the ray caveat? I think I know what the ability was trying to preotect abuse-wise against, but as written, this does require some clarification. As a capstone, the archetype has an apotheosis, which is relatively cool as far as that type of conventional design goes and the higher levels allow for planar allies.


The pdf also features new feats for the cryptic, 7 to be precise. These generally deal and interact (or are part) of the respective archetypes, with Chaotic Favor allowing for the modification of the chaotic roll as part of manifesting a power to be modified by +/- 1d3, with erkunae gaining +1d4 instead, exacerbating the aforementioned reroll power's strength. The Chaotic Power metapsionic feat unlocks a lesser variant of the archetype class feature for non-archetype adherents, with the same caveat. Enduring Defense has the following benefits: "You can the benefits of the enduring defense class feature that you otherwise would not have." - I am pretty sure there's a verb missing here and while I can guess what this is supposed to mean...it's nonfunctional. Extra Sentencing allows for more sentene uses by the aforementioned Dragonblooded archetype. Floral Growth is a bit like a gardener variety of a psionic Brew Potion - which is nice, though explicitly stating the activation action and mechanics would have helped here - one can extrapolate those, sure, but e.g. the usage of "wearer" does imply that these growths take up slots which they may or may not do. Parkoud Climbing would be a solid take on the aforementioned nightrunner archetype's tricks in feat-form


The pdf provides three new insights, which allow for the upside down change of sequence of iterative attacks regarding their base attack bonus (Interesting!) - though, as a word of warning, in groups less mathematically versed than mine, this could slow down the gamelplay, as the cryptic is thinking which totality of his iterative attacks is more efficient. Also: My group at least rolls atk, damage, atk, damage...not atk, atk, atk, damage, damage, damage... So depending on how you play, this may be pretty useless. The follow up insight provides complete control over the sequence, which sounds intriguing on paper, but will slow down gameplay in even math-savvy groups, while retaining the predecessor insight's issues. Finally, there is a metagaming insight I really dislike on a personal basis: Move action to learn an enemy's AC, CMB and CMD. No range or the like required. IF your group likes these types of abilities, cool - I really don't.


The pdf also provides 10 psionic powers, which include a multi-energy ray, crystalline shackles...the general visuals an intent is pretty cool. Unfortunately, the wording does not always live up to the precision required. Crystalline Shackles, for example, limits movement to "5 foot movements, with an Acrobatics check DC 20 to move at half speed." Does this movement count as 5-foot steps when the Acrobatics-check is failed? Is there a consequence for attempting the check and failing (no movement)? The rules-language could have easily been streamlined to where is did not feature this unfortunate wording. A teleport + distraction-clone-power is imho too low on the level scale, lacks information pertaining the control of the duplicate and lacks the teleport-prevention caveat for ability/power/spell interactions...well, you get the idea. All in all, a well-intentioned array of powers that can be streamlined into properly working...but also a section that misses the precision I would have wanted the concepts to feature.


The pdf does have new magic items as well - gloves that allow for the blending of hidden pocket and containers, jackets of hidden pockets and a torc that makes powers look like they originated elsewhere - pretty neat. The pdf concludes with new materials, the first of which would be godsmind crystals: Holding such a crystal "reduces hit points by 1 per hit die." This NEEDS to be maximum hit points, otherwise sequence, healing etc. come into play. Also, "A character can use the crystal to cause 1 hit point of damage per hit die they have to another creature, but they take the same amount of damage." Untyped damage. No DR-interaction. No range. "In the hands of a psion, they are able to infuse power points into so that the creature takes 1d6 points of damage, while still taking 1 hit die of damage per die of damage they deal." Okay, there is so much wrong with that sentence. To give you a brief impression: Only psions? How much power points? What's a "hit die of damage"? I get what this is supposed to do, but the wording isn't functional even before going into disrupt pattern interaction. The second item would be a godmind crystal gavel...which obviously suffers from the base material being horribly broken.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are a mixed bag - while, in the beginning, the issues pertaining rules-language were pretty minimal, the latter pieces of content did somewhat decrease in quality. On a formal level, the pdf does have more glitches than I am accustomed to in Purple Duck Games books by now. Layout adheres to the 1-column, relatively printer-friendly full-color standard with some nice artworks, though astute readers may know them from other publications. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Scott Dillon's Cryptics of Porphyra is not a bad book, let me make that abundantly clear. In contrast to many a book featuring racial archetypes, the book tries very hard (and succeeds) in blending the unique flavor of the respective races with the archetypes associated with them, so that's a plus. However, at the same time, there are a lot of hiccups on both formal and rules-aesthetic levels that decrease the overall functionality of the book to the point where I consider precious few rules-components to be on the level of precision I expect and require in my games. Unlike many a supplement, these can be salvaged by a competent GM/rules-dev/editor, but I can't rate the potential alone here, particularly considering that several of the components herein focus on a rather brutal escalation of cryptic damage-output that may be too much for some groups. As a person, I like this book significantly more than the array of problems would make you believe, but as a reviewer, I have an obligation to my audience. Let's not beat around the bush: This needs work. It has some gems in it, but they do need refinement. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars...and unfortunately, I can't round up for this one.


Endzeitgeist out.



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The Sighted Seeker
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 08/22/2016 08:19:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This prestige archetype clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Wait, prestige archetype? Well, yeah. In case you're not familiar with the concept, check out my page and a tag/quick search away, you'll get all the reviews for them. Concept-wise, the idea is to basically roll a PrC's features into a core class, making it more akin to an archetype/variant class. Originally invented by Carl Cramér for Purple Duck Games, this concept has been pretty intriguing...so let's take a look at whether it translates well to the psionic context!


The sighted seeker as presented herein is based on the PrC of the same name and utilizes the chassis of ranger and marksman as basis. The class gets d10 HD, full BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and begins with 1 power point, scaling up to 99 at 20th level. Powers known-wise, we begin with 1 and scale that up to 13 at 20th level; the maximum power level available is 4th. Powers are chosen from the seeker powers list (with the noted exception of Expanded Knowledge) and the governing manifesting attribute would be Wisdom. Proficiency-wise, the class gets all simple weapons as well as all light, projectile and thrown martial weapons as well as bucklers and light armors. Skill-wise, they get 4+Int-mod skills.


At first level, sighted seekers receive Urban Tracking as well as their first favored prey - against said creatures, the sighted seeker gets +2 to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive and Survival checks as well as +2 to atk and damage and save DCs. They may also make untrained knowledge checks against them. Humanoids and outsiders have the subtype caveat. At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the class chooses another favored prey and increases the bonus granted by one of his favored preys by the same amount as above - the save DC-increase is pretty nasty, but in my playtest, the ability checked out, considering the low maximum power level.


At 5th level, a sighted seeker may expend 3 power points as a standard action, provided he is able to unquestionably identify a creature by its deeds - the traget creature becomes a mark and is treated as favored prey with an additional +1 bonus; if the creature is already a favored prey, the bonus increases to +2 instead. This ability, known as "Mark Prey", enhances quite a few class features.


2nd level allows the sighted seeker to read the wind: While psionically focused to expend a swift action to gain a competence bonus equal to Wis-mod to ranged attacks until the end of the round, usable 3+ class level times per day. While I'm not a big fan of two attributes to atk, here this does somewhat offset the MAD component of the class. At 3rd level, the sighted seeker may gather information every 10 minutes while in a crowd, with bonuses pertaining marked prey, making them excellent hunters.


At 2nd level, the sighted seeker must choose one combat style: Finesse, Sniper or Volley are available: These diverge from the usual concept of combat styles quite a bit: At 4th level, they have a style skill: This skill gets scaling bonuses. Also at 4th level, each combat style gains a style technique, which can be activated via the expenditure of the psionic focus: Finesse seekers can use this trick to perform a selection of combat maneuvers at range, sniper can add Wis-mod to damage and volley specialists and volley specialists can grant themselves an additional attack as part of a full attack, but this does not stack with other abilities like haste...until 15th level, when it does. On a nitpicky side, this one does lack a few italicizations, but otherwise is precise.


Cooler and rewarding from a player's perspective: Starting at 6th level, the sighted seeker gets a style mantra - this is a bonus that is maintained for as long as the prestige archetype maintains psionic focus: So yes, there is a reward for keeping and for expending it, making for interesting and valid tactical choices. Kudos! Each combat style also grants style abilities, the first of which is gained at 6th level, with additional ones being unlocked every 4 levels thereafter. Finesse seekers focus on tricks like negating uncanny dodge or adding negative conditions. Snipers can significantly increase the power output of single shots and shoot through creatures - a 10th level sniper (as a nitpick: The ability ought to note the level it's gained, though it's obvious from context) shooting a creature has a pretty high chance of annihilating it, as befitting of the concept...and sans breaking the math. Volley specialists can combine movement and less accurate attacks, split missiles, etc.


At 7th level, a specific array of powers gets a special new augment to make powers last longer and 8th level and every 3 thereafter net bonus feats. At 9th level, the class gets seeker's analysis: Perception is enhanced with two new uses to find evidence and analyze material; similarly, Knowledge is enhanced - yes, this actually does make sense and provides non-combat utility, something often missing from martially bent classes. At 12th level, sighted seekers may expend power points to determine the authenticity of a given source and grant bonuses. 13th level unlocks quarry, 14th level 1/week hypercognition and 16th level provides remote viewing with enhanced potency versus the mark. At 18th level, metafaculty can be manifested 1/week and 19th level provides improved quarry.


The pdf comes with favored class options for blues, dromites, duergar, elan, femanx, forgeborn, half-giants, maenads, norals, ophiduans, qi'tar and xeph -all of which seem balanced and fitting, though there's a cut-copy-paste-typo "unless the you has selected." Cosmetic, though.


The pdf also features a sample character, Tikki Mantracker, a blue, who comes with a level 1, 5, 10 and 15 version.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are the weakest component of the pdf - there are a precious few italicization/typo-level glitches, though these never truly hamper rules-language...which is precise, to the point and well crafted. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard, with the exception of the introduction page, which instead features a 1-column standard. The pdf has no art apart from the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Mark Gedak, master of Purple Duck Games, delivers one of the very best prestige archetypes released so far: The sighted seeker is a truly fun class to play: With combat utility and out of combat tricks, powers and an interesting action economy, balanced and versatile options and a diverse, yet focused niche, the class is very rewarding: The perfect bloodhound/hunter - equal parts relentless huntsman and Sherlock Holmes, the sighted seeker makes for a truly rewarding playing experience that does not fall into the traps such builds could feature. The class is fun, well crafted and rewarding both in and outside of combat, which is a big thing, at least for me.


All glitches that are in this book are cosmetic and while I wished the class had a unique capstone for each style, that ultimately is a personal preference and not something to hold against this pdf. In short: I really like this one - the few hiccups herein are minor and certainly do not hamper the appeal of this cool class. The class, just fyi, should work equally well in high fantasy and lower fantasy contexts, so yeah - nothing of significance to complain about. Ultimately, in spite of the minor hiccups, this prestige archetype is extremely rewarding: Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up and since I really liked it, this also gets my seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Orcam of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 08/19/2016 08:47:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of Purple Duck Games' "...of Porphyra"-series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 31 pages of content, so let's take a look!


After a brief piece of introductory fluff, we are introduced to the Orcam's racial stats: The race receives +2 Con and Cha, -2 Int, are medium, have a land speed of 30 ft, a swim speed of 40 ft, low-light vision, cold resistance 5, gain hold breath, are proficient with spears, tridents and nets, gain a +2 racial bonus to Ride checks when riding whales/dolphins and underwater, they may, as a move action, emit an echolocation pulse to locate objects and creatures within 30 ft. - this one can be suppressed by silence. Okay, from the base set-up, we get a powerful race approximately on par with aasimar etc., but one whose benefits are pretty circumstantial - in aquatic campaigns, they obviously excel, whereas on primarily landbased campaigns, the race works pretty well with less powerful races. The race has a unique thing going for it and gets formatting completely right, something pretty rare.


Next up, we take a look at society, alignment, adventuring, etc. - and in the cultural department, the race does have several unique components as well, first of which would be their nomenclature: The race features a "Deep Name", to be pronounced underwater, as well as a airbound name - and this makes sense to me. It may seem negligible, but it is these little tidbits that good roleplayer latch on to and generate whole angles out of. The race features a proper array of age, height and weight tables to supplement it and comes with 7 race traits for your perusal: From slightly better initiative to bulky frames and improved flanking, the traits are relevant, appropriate for their power-level and get the bonus type right.


For more customization options, the race features a total of 9 alternate race traits: These include a primary natural bite attack (which actually is properly codified in every way!), self-only blood rage 1/day, tremorsense while in contact with water and only pertaining creatures also in contact with the body of water, darkvision and light sensitivity, better social skills, better aiding others, Small orcam, natural armor instead of cold resistance or +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha as alternate racial traits. The array of alternate racial traits is well-balanced against the abilities they replace, the rules-language is precise...and once again, I am left with no complaints.


The pdf also offers 7 racial feats - and here, I can finally complain properly about something! Yeah! The Dorsal Fin feat that increases swim speed...lacks the "ft." after the increase. ... Yeah, sorry. The feat also allows for direction changes underwater, just fyi. Longer range echolocation under water (and 20 ft. on land), gaining a gore attack, speak with animals with aquatic creatures, minor DR and bonus to Escape Artist...intriguing. Orcam rangers (or those characters with favored terrain) can take a feat starting at 5th level to change favored terrain and there is a feat that allows for the better wielding of weapons underwater. The race also gets a racial combat style, the Shark Style - the base feat generates bleed damage when you score multiple hits and helps when fighting underwater; the follow-up feats allow for rend bonus damage versus bleeding foes and free demoralize attempts versus foes bleeding - even if you're not interested in the Orcam AT ALL, fans of sahuagin may very well get this pdf for this chain alone...it's pretty damn awesome! There is also an okay teamwork feat that slightly increases damage output when flanking with allies and adds demoralize to crits. The metamagic feat, at +1 spell level, adds splash damage to AoE-spells, which is a nice concept. In a minor nitpick: The feat only mentions minimum damage - which could be read as applying to attribute damage and becomes problematic when combined with fixed damage spells (or maximized ones) - a good GM can easily read the feat as intended, but a tad bit more precision here would have been nice.


The pdf also provides the overdue greatspear as well as the gut razor, which is particularly potent when used in coup-de-grâces as well as the glove-less scaly mail variant of scale mail. Magic item-wise, there is an enchantment for composite bows that allows the wielder to change Str-bonuses - for an applied use of it, a lethal bow can be found here. The ambergris amulet has defensive properties and denotes you as a healer among the orcam. We do get the at this point obligatory electric eel armor, though admittedly, the execution isn't bad. An Octopus shield that can flail its tentacles and fire ink is pretty cool and a water-themed staff complements the section - all in all, a precise, well-crafted array of items.


The spell section is interesting - blood rage grants stacking bonuses to Str and penalties to AC for damage incurred (with a cap, thankfully), variants of scent-masking and a octopus-inkjet-style variant of expeditious retreat is cool. The 4th level spell Land Shark lets you go bulette! Cool!


The pdf also features racial archetypes/class options, 3 to be more precise. The first of these would be the order of naumachy cavalier order: These guys can't issue a challenge against a good or neutral target - which brings me to an issue: What if they do? Is the challenge attempt wasted? What about action economy? Not sure. The challenge bestows a +1 dodge bonus to AC and +1 insight to saves, which increases by +1 for every 4 levels. They may also only issue challenges while wearing light armor and carrying no more than light load - all in all, a very restrictive challenge. 2nd level provides a paladin's detect evil and 10th level 1/day smite evil at 1/2 levels. 8th level lets the order choose a terrain from a limited list and shout orders as a swift action to grant allies within 50 ft. bonuses and 15th level nets the mount the aqueous simple template, which is a bit late.


The Deep Sea Patroller hunter archetype gains an aquatic companion and, instead of animal focus, nets the companion several toughness-related bonus feats and, at 8th and 15th level, the powerful stalwart ability and its improved cousin, respectively.3rd level offers amphibious for hunter and companion, with higher levels providing darkvision. 6th level provides a life bond that allows for limited saving roll rerolls and the means to take excess damage when a companion would be reduced to below 0 hp, instead reducing it only to 1 hp. Instead of woodland stride, the archetype can pass easily through corals, sea weed etc. - though I'd be interested in whether this also applies to damaging terrain. 12th level nets a +3 favored terrain and 15th level provides a continuous freedom of movement for the pair.


The next archetype would be the Searager bloodrager - and here, we have something odd: Tidal Wave Blitz reads "This works as bloodrage, but when a searager charges an opponent he counts as one size category larger for when making a bull rush or overrun attempt." I am pretty sure something went wrong here - does this benefit only apply while bloodraging? I also am pretty sure that there's an excess "for" here. The archetype also gains the woodland stride variant - the same question as above applies. 6th level unlocks cure spells, though the pdf fails to italicize them properly. At 7th level, these guys can conjure forth shields of water as immediate actions.


The pdf thereafter continues to tell us about the orcam's take on respective adventuring classes, including occult classes and those introduced by Purple Duck Games - I like this section, as it provides a better feeling for the culture of the race. This section is btw. also supplemented with a significant array of favored class options, which include the ACG and OA-classes as well as Infinyte, Illuminatus and the like. The section generally is solid. The pdf concludes with a sample level 1 orcam barbarian.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting, for the most part, are excellent in both formal and rules-language departments: The bonus types are clear, the rules-language precise. While there are a few hiccups, these tend to be minor ones. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' 1-column layout standard that results in A5-sized (9'' by 6'') books - something to bear in mind regarding the page-count. The pdf sports glorious, original full-color artworks of male and female orcam and comes with bookmarks for each section, making navigation pretty comfortable.


Derek Blakely's Orcam are a cool race - they have a unique trick, are generally balanced as one of the stronger races and are diverse enough. Their culture is intriguing and, unless you're playing a nautical campaign with a lot of water where all other PCs are landlubbers, the race shouldn't unbalance a given group. So yeah, only GMs going for a "airbreathers on the sea/underwater"-style of campaign may want to be a bit careful here - these guys are good in the water! (Then again, if you're using Cerulean Seas' more powerful aquatic races as well, this will fit in just perfectly.


For the most part, the pdf is absolutely meticulously crafted with an eye towards cool options and balance at the same time - the race-section, the items, the fluff - all feels like a project of passion and it shows and translates to that. At the same time, the class options are the weakest part of the pdf: The cavalier order is very restrictive and the other two archetypes have evocative tricks, but also don't reach the level of precision the other content features. They also, conspicuously, are less precise in the formatting-department.


Now that being said, the damn cool Shark Style, the evocative race itself and the nice cultural tidbits included do make this race a welcome addition to environments both aquatic and non-aquatic: Due to the lack of requirement to actually stay wet etc., the orcam make for a viable, nice race to include among the PC-approved roster. One more interesting coincidence: While their culture does not necessarily point towards this and while their nomenclature obviously stems from "orcas", that's only one letter away from orc - so if you're bored by the old green-skins and want something unique and different...why not use these? I certainly have ideas on how to introduce these fellows in my game!


Ah, the verdict. Well, try as I might, I really like these guys and the author shows care and a precise grasp of rules only rarely seen..but considering the minor hiccups, I can't go with an apex-level rating; for that, the jaw-dropping archetype/class option/whatever is missing. For the more than fair price point, this does remain a very good, if not 100% perfect purchase, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Unarmored and Dangerous (PFRPG)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 08/12/2016 10:06:02

An Endzeitgeist.com


This massive sourcebook clocks in at 86 pages, 1 page of front cover, 1 page of editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of advertisement, leaving us with...yes. 82 pages of content. That's a lot of ground to cover, so let's take a look!


This book, just fyi, is not a collection of classes in the traditional sense - instead, the goal of this book is to provide a unified set of traditions to codify martial arts in Pathfinder. The pdf does this by introducing martial "ways" - like the Way of the Void, which adds Wisdom-modifier to AC and CMD, even when flat-footed and to touch AC. The Way of Life does the same for Charisma, but loses the bonuses when becoming flat-footed. Both work only when unarmored and unencumbered.


The Way of the Mind adds 1 point of Int-mod per class level as a dodge bonus to AC and CMD, but only while armed with a melee weapon and not denied Dex-mod and the martial arts style works with regular (non-large) shields and when wearing light armor. Way of the Body get their Constitution modifier as a circumstance bonus to AC and may stack their bonus with natural armor and enhancements thereof as well as with shields, but the AC does not enhance for CMD or touch AC. Way of Force assumes that the character has some means of erecting force armor. Finally, Way of Armor is considered to be the armor-wearing option for the characters. So that would be the classification of (already existing!) defense options that can be gained via classes, archetypes et al.


Next would be martial strikes, with a handy table that breaks down base damage for Small, Medium and Large sizes by BAB (and includes non-martial artists) - martial artists using an unarmed strike get Improved Unarmed Strike and thus, the monk-y damage types are covered here. After a brief discussion of weapon groups, we dive into archetypes for the respective classes that allow you to basically add martial arts to existing classes, grouped for your convenience by the Way the archetypes adhere to - and yes, this is the reason why I bothered to explain the respective way-classifications in detail. They are useful to bear in mind for designers, sure - but beyond that, understanding them once allows you to basically create your own archetypes pretty easily.


Now, as for the Way of the Void, we have 3 archetypes - the Iron Inquisitor, the Path of Spirit Cleric and the Void Fighter. All of these have in common that they gain not only the Wis-modifier to AC, they also gain scaling further bonuses to AC at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, following the guidelines as presented above in the brief discussion on the way of the void. The respective archetypes also feature a proper unarmed fighting damage progression, that increases the damage-die size at BAB +4, +8 and +12, respectively. While this is a minor deviation from usual rules-language, which tends to codify the like in levels instead, it is a functionally sound one. Obviously, the exchanged abilities differ from class to class, with the loss of proficiencies in the armor department being a unifying theme. The inquisitor also loses track and domain, the cleric domain powers, spells and spell-slots, though the cleric does get a modified skill-list including Acrobatics etc. to make up for this. The fighter, finally, would be the most complex of the modifications, gaining a modified skill-list (but, alas, no upgrade to skills per level - poor sap is still stuck with 2 + Int mod...) as well as a +1 bonus to Reflex saves that increases by +1 every four levels beyond second, replacing thus bravery. Armor training is lost in favor of 3rd level evasion and 19th level nets DR 5/- instead of armor mastery, with the capstone replacing weapon mastery with gaining an auto-confirm for one type of weapon (and a multiplier increased by 1); if unarmed strikes are chosen, the character gains 18-20/x3. Additionally, the character can no longer be disarmed when wielding this weapon. Nice one! This would be as good a place as any to note that each archetype presented herein comes with a sample character, drawing upon the rich variety of races available in the Porphyra-setting.


The Way of Life, the Charisma-governed array of archetypes, provides a total of 4 such archetypes, though their balancing is a tad bit more complex, with none of them providing a straight and narrow concept applied. The Child of Wild Ranger, for example, does receive his bonus to touch attacks in a conscious deviation from the established base-line and gains uncanny dodge at 2nmd level instead of the combat style feat. (It should be noted that, as far as I read this, the choice for combat styles still must be made here, to ensure the integrity of follow-up abilities in the class progression - only the feat is lost, not combat style per se as a class feature. This is something to bear in mind and may be an oversight or not - I assume competence here due to the rather deliberate wording, but still felt that prospective readers might want to be aware of this peculiarity.


The Noble Savage Barbarian (EZG flashes back to "Introduction to Cultural Studies" and the tropes of the noble savage...) may enter a disciplined rage - basically, the archetype can burn 2 rounds of rage per round instead of one, allowing the character to utilize rage powers, but not benefit from other benefits of rage. The character can freely switch between regular and disciplined rage and duration stacks with regular rage benefits for fatigue cool-down, unless it is the only rage employed, where the character no longer takes the fatigued condition. Starting at 5th level, 1 minute of disciplined rage translates to 1 round of rage burned, with 9th and 13th level increasing the ratio to 10 minutes and an hour, respectively and 19th level unlocking the option to always use rage powers...which is very strong. Uncanny dodge is gained at 3rd level and its improved brethren at 7th and indomitable will being unlocked at 15th.


The archetype pay for these powers with trap sense as well as DR and also gets an expanded skill-list. Overall, I may be weary of powerful barbarian archetypes - the general notion that barbarians rank among the most powerful melee classes is something I'd immediately sign, having experienced the brutal annihilation that 3 power-gamer barbarians with vastly diverging builds have brought upon foes at my table. This archetype, as a whole, does not lose any crucial features and takes a limited resource, namely rage powers, balanced by their limited availability, and amplifies their availability by factor 10, then factor 10 again and then factor 60. Do the math. The system of the class is not made for this and it simply begs to be abused to all hell. Another issue would pertain rage-cycling tricks - if e.g. 10 minutes of disciplined rage count as 1 round of rage and the barbarian ends it after 2 minutes, does that allow for yet another use upon restarting the disciplined rage? If so, does it resume at the 2 minute mark? I assume no, but I am not sure, since the archetype does manage to cover interaction between rage and disciplined rage, but not within it.


The Oracle of the Way goes a different route, beginning play with Improved Unarmed Strike and, when unarmored and unencumbered, adds Cha-mod to her dodge bonus to AC and CMD, applying it against touch attacks as well and losing them when encumbered or deprived of Dexterity mod to AC, replacing armor proficiencies and the oracle's curse. The martial strikes damage-die progression can be gained via the selection of one of the archetype-exclusive revelations, which also includes significant bonuses to Acrobatics, Evasion, Fast Movement, Stunning Fist and Uncanny Dodge - the basics of martial arts. However, the oracle may never select a revelation that grants an armor bonus.


Finally, the uncanny monk gets uncanny dodge at 3rd level, its improved brother at 7thand pays for that with Still Mind, otherwise being a pretty straight conversion of the monk to the Cha-based way of martial arts.


Next up would be the archetypes for the Way of the Mind, with the Magus getting two of them, the Canny Magus and the Magus of the Mind. The canny magus replaces medium and heavy armor proficiency with canny defense and moves improved spell recall to 13th level. Straight and simple. The Magus of the Mind has no armor proficiency and proficiencies with monk/oriental weapons and also gets canny defense, replacing the armor proficiencies, but also gets the martial strike damage die scaling and moves Improved Spell Recall down to 10th level - this would be the more monk-y variant, basically. Canny Rangers are proficient with light armors and shields only, get a modified skill list, fast movement at 4th level, uncanny dodge at 7th and improved uncanny dodge at 13th. 10th level makes all jumps long and provides full speed while balancing/climbing. All in all, a solid take on the concept. The Canny Rogue is basic, replacing trapfinding with canny defense. The Canny Summoner loses armor and shield proficiency in favor of Canny Defense. Quicksilver Alchemists, finally, get a modified proficiency list, canny defense replacing swift and instant alchemy and the option to generate quicksilver oils, which modify the extracts-list. This modification, though, also means that the alchemist loses basically the own-body-transformation extracts.


The Way of the Body provides 5 archetypes, the first of which would be the Animal Adoptee, who gets a modified skill-list as well as an extension of prohibited armors, but also the Constitution-based Way of the Body - and no, it does not stack with wild shape's natural armor bonuses. The Brave Barbarian exchanges armor proficiencies with Way of the Body, noting that rage does not increase the AC gained thus. The Grizzled Ranger adds Acrobatics to his list of class skills and exchanges armor proficiency with Way of the Body. The Iron Man Fighter does not gain a suit - quite the contrary; he gets a modified skill-list as well as Way of the Body, but pay for that with armor training. Armor mastery is instead applied to being unarmored. The Scarred Alchemist similarly exchanges his armor and shield proficiencies with Way of the Body. All in all, more linear, basic archetypes here, maintaining thus more multi-archetype potential.


The final way, the Way of the Force, covers 10 archetypes: The Dandy Bard gets a modified proficiency list, losing out on, among other things, armor, but gains mage armor at 4th level as a 1st level bard spell and may stack its bonus with bracers. The Force Knight cavalier loses all armor and shield proficiencies, but starts play with the option to generate a +7 armor of force that can be enhanced with spells etc.; but such enhancements do not stack with 4th level's ability to stack bracers of armor on it. The bonus granted by this armor is +7, which is pretty hardcore at 1st level, particularly since the armor comes with a matching shield of force. 4th level unlocks 1/day mage armor that can only affect the mount and 6th level allows for the creation of force weapons that get the ghost touch property...and may be enchanted. Question, though: They are generally not considered magical as in getting +1 bonus, only for affecting creatures, so how do you calculate further enhancing force weapons? Alas, no idea. I'm generally weary of this archetype - with an indestructible armor at 1st level, the archetype is too dip-prone for my tastes, with only expert trainer and the 6th level feat-gain paying for these powerful tools.


The Ghost Hunter Rogue gets the mage armor/bracers-combo, with the SP for mage armor starting off at 2/day, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. At 3rd level, the rogue gains at-will disrupt undead, which can be used in conjunction with full attacks and sneak attacks. Additionally, he inflicts full damage versus incorporeal foes and may inflict sneak attack damage on them. Additionally, the SP may be used in melee and increases in potency and range, with high levels allowing for other creature types to be affected. This does replace trapfinding and trap sense, though, requiring the expenditure of a rogue talent to be able to disarm magical traps. Ghost Knight cavaliers get s a modified proficiency list and begin play with a destiny that powers the SPs and SUs of the knight as a narrative device. These knights get the ghostly armors and shields of the force knight, with the same trepidations applying, but this one also helping with Disguise-checks...+10. OUCH. 2nd level replaces the order ability with perma ghost touch on weapons wielded as well as SP mage armor for the mount. The mount is replaced with the third level ability to gain a phantom steed (1/day; at-will at 6th level; 9th level: As a swift action; 12th level: As an immediate action; 15th level: Steed becomes incorporeal), basically eliminating the need for mount-y cool-downs after it perishes. 4th level replaces expert trainer with an extra-dimensional weapons cache (!!) and 8th level replaces the order ability gained there with 1/day ethereal jaunt. The final order ability at 15th level is replaced with an extension of ghost touch to all allies within 60 ft. I like this one's fluff, though I consider it slightly too powerful for what it takes - see above for the dip-issue and adding the steed and cache...makes for a cool archetype, yes...but also one that is imho a tad bit too good.


The Guard Maid Paladin gets the force aura/bracer combo as well as the force shield, but pays for it with armor and shield proficiency. The archetype also receives the Body-guard-Ward theme, replacing aura of good and may smite threats to the target, greatly enhancing smite's versatility. Lay on hands may only be used on herself and her ward and instead of detect evil, scaling bonuses to Profession 8servant), which may be used as a replacement for Perception, are gained at 2nd level. 4th level nets the extra-dimensional weapon cache and spells that usually affect only evil creatures apply their benefits versus threats to her ward - OUCH! Divine bond must be a weapon. 14th level makes all attacks within 10 feet count as lawful and 17th level provides DR 5/- and immunity to compulsion spells and SPs, with allies gaining a save-boost instead. As a capstone, the archetype increases DR and adds banishment to smite. I like the theme of this archetype, though the force-trickery PLUS the significantly improves smite and spells render this one too strong in my book -at least while the smite lasts. Once the daily array is done, the archetype loses quite a bit of power, making the playing experience a bit swingy.


The Protégé Bard gains a familiar at first level and the usual mage armor/bracers-synergy of the Way of Force, including loss of armor proficiencies. At 1st level, the protégé gains a patron audience - a powerful entity that may gate in the bard, thus allowing for a great rationale for absentee players to vanish. Furthermore, high levels provide more interaction options here and limited control for the bard - a VERY cool ability that is basically narrative gold if handled correctly. Just FYI, it replaces deadly performance and the familiar kills off countersong and distraction. Instead of bardic knowledge and jack of all trades, these bards also add patron spells to their bard spells known and 10th level nets commune at-will. Easily one of my favorite archetypes herein.


The Robe Magus is once again a simple one - replace the medium and heavy armor proficiencies with the mage armor-trick, but also add scaling bonuses at higher levels to retain its viability. The Robed Summoner similarly loses the armor and shield proficiencies, but may stack mage armor and bracers and also gets 6 force-themed spells. The Shield Maiden Paladin would be the light-version archetype herein, with modified skill lists, no armor proficiency and a force armor akin to that of the ghost knight, including the Disguise bonus. Her shields are ghost touch and her divine bond is modified to apply to her shield instead. 8th level nets SP fly on herself (and mount) +1/day at 8th level and every 2 levels thereafter, with 11th level granting overland flight as an alternative and 17th level making the ability at will, replacing aura of righteousness thus. No complaints about this one. The Shining Cleric get the force armor (only at +5 AC, though) and replace channel energy with basically the sacerdote's untyped ray (see my review of Legendary Classes: Sacerdote for this one) and the shield as well. Shining inquisitors lose proficiency with shields and armor and gain the same sacred aura as their cleric brothers as also gets the force shield.


All right, the pdf has even more to offer, though; it also features a total of 5 new base classes, with each exemplifying one of the martial arts codified herein. The first of these would be the Boxer, who gains full BAB-progression, d12 HD, 2 +Int skills per level , proficiency with simple and close weapon group weapons as well as with shields. Boxers may not wear armor or use shields or carry something in two hands and gain, obviously, Improved Unarmed Strike. Boxers add class level to damage, +1/2 class level with two weapons or shields. He gets the canny Int per level to AC and CMD and adds Con-mod as natural AC. At 2nd level, the boxer gets the Block class feature, which lets him perform a competing attack roll against an incoming attack - on a success, he blocks it, with every 5 levels thereafter allowing for +1 block per round. After such a block, however, the boxer is staggered for 1 round, which cannot be mitigated. I assume this to also offset immunity to being staggered and it's the reason why I'm not rattling off my usual disdain-for-swingyness of competing rolls rant right now. Higher levels provide more bonuses to atk and damage, resistance versus certain conditions, more AoOs and 3rd level (+ 6th, 11th, 16th and 20th) allow for the progression of the chosen boxing style, which can be likened to orders or similar linear ability-suites. 3 boxing styles are provided, with haymakers allowing for his weapons/unarmed attacks to count as two-handed, 6th level dazing blows...generally nice. At 16th level, the style lets you perform one attack as a full-round action. If you hit, it's automatically a critical threat and damage multiplier is enhanced to x3. Ouch, particularly considering the significant damage bonuses of the class. 20th level provides crippling criticals here, with reduced speed, attribute damage, etc..


Stylists are defensive and agile, allowing them to follow up blocks with AoOs. Swarmers would be the TWF-specalists here, with high levels allowing for a 10 ft-step instead of a 5 ft-step or a 5 ft-step in difficult terrain.


The second class would be the fencer, who gains full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level and proficiency with all simple and martial weapons as well as light armors and shields. They get canny defense, Weapon finesse, add fencer level to damage in melee when one-handing a weapon (+1/2 level when employing a buckler) as well as parry, riposte and the like - this is basically a twist on the duelist as a base class (with all that entails - I'll spare you my usual rant here), though one that also features an order/bloodline-akin set of fencing schools, somewhat analogue to the boxing styles mentioned before...oh, and there are 13 of these and they modify much, much more: Agrippa, Bonetti, Capo Ferro, Carranza, Firentine, Ghisliero, Grazzi, Hard Knocks, Hayd’n, Melane, Military, Tibault and Yeoman can be selected. These schools have requirements (Agrippa can only be used with Weapon Finesse weapons and may not be sued in conjunction with off-hand weapons or shields, but off-hand ranged weapons such as throwing daggers are permitted.) and grant abilities at 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 11th, 16th and 20th level. And guess what...in spite of not being a big fan of the parry mechanic...I consider this class to be pretty much the most faithful and coolest take on the fencer; personally, I actually prefer it over the swashbuckler, since tricks like Weapon Bind and the ability array as such generally maintains the flair of the historic inspirations for the styles...this would be my default fencer class in a magic-less swashbuckling game. Granted, I'll make the class more modular and convert swashbuckler options to more customization options to enhance player agenda...but still: Kudos!


The Lin-Kuei gets 3/4 BAB-progression, all good saves, d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, the monk AC-bonus, fast movement, proficiency with a smattering of oriental weapons and lethal sneak attack, which increases to up to 7d6, but does not apply when flanking a foe...oh, and guess what: The class has a minimum damage-caveat to avoid shuriken-sneak attack exploits! KUDOS! And yes, via so-called secret techniques,basically the talents of the class, these guys can get lethal flanking, use shuriken to flat-foot foes, poach among ninja tricks and render targets charged flat-footed against the character. With 4th level ki pool, evasion and uncanny dodge etc. and basically a significant array of monk tricks, these guys can be pictured as a powerful (never thought I'd write that in the monk context!) hybrid of monk and ninja...and boy, me likes. While pretty potent and definitely better than rogue and monk, these guys make for pretty much a perfect class for the quick-footed martial artist and prove to be a more than cool addition to the fray! Another winner here!


The Mystic Dancer gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, ingrained unarmed strike progression, d8 HD and 6+Int skills per level as well as a modified proficiency list (barring armors) and Cha-governed spontaneous spellcasting, drawn from the bard list. They may not apply Still spell to any spells, but may apply Silent Spell to them. They use Way of Life (i.e. the Charisma-based martial art) and can best be pictured as a monk/bard-hybrid. Now this is a personal preference, but I consider the full bardic spellcasting and skill upgrade a bit much here...though, admittedly, the class should probably not completely outclass the bard, since by now the class has a lot of unique material to utilize. Still, in comparison to a core-only bard, the mystic dancer will probably win...if not restricted, for the performance they use is dependent on movement, which may well be the most deceptively cool balancing mechanism in the finer details I've seen in quite a while. In play, this relatively simple restriction proved to be a rather intriguing tactical component...so yeah...another interesting one here and one I'd allow in my games!


The final class herein would be the Swordmage, who gets full BAB-progression, d10 HD, 2+Int skills per level, good Fort- and Will-saves and no armor proficiency. They can cast a limited array of spells (up to 4th level) from the magus spell-list and must prepare their Int-governed spells in advance. They treat all magus and sorc/wiz spells as on their list for spell-trigger purposes, with 3rd level allowing them to use sorc/wiz spells for crafting purposes. They get Scribe Scroll at 2nd level and begin play with the full +7 AC-bonus force armor and the capacity to use a force shield. At 4th level, the swordmage can cast spells with somatic components with his weapon hand and 5th level nets an arcane pool, which, among basic enchantments, allows at 9th level for the swordmage to cast spells ritualistically from the sorc/wiz spell list, provided he has the scroll - combat utility here is almost zero, mind you: Beyond a level-restriction, it also takes at least 1 minute to do so, which maintains a sense of balance here. Spellstrike is gained at 8th level and higher levels allow for the expenditure of arcane pool points to move as a swift action, Quicken magus spells and line of sight/effect-dependent short-range teleport...alas, lacking the declaration as conjuration [teleportation]-effect...but at 17th level, that's probably not that important anymore anyways. This one is easily my least favorite of the classes introduced herein, it being basically a full BAB-twist on the magus, a kind of arcane paladin. It's not a bad take on the concept, mind you. In fact, it's one of the better takes on it...but it also is not too unique in how it plays, with the somatic component being probably the most defining feature of its playing style.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - Purple Duck Games has really taken care to make sure that the formatting is precise and functional here. On a rules-language level, there are quite a few deviations here and there - most notably a lower-case attribute here, a "Constitution bonus" instead of modifier there when it should be modifier...for the most part, these do not hamper the rules themselves, but they can be a bit annoying if you're as anal-retentive about things like this as I am. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that still is very printer-friendly. Artwork deserves special mention here: The book has A LOT of artworks for the unique characters featured herein, with many gorgeous 1-page artworks...kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with nested bookmarks pointing to each class, archetype, way...the book is easy to navigate.


Carl Cramér, Julian Neale and August Hahn deliver in this book...something completely different than what I expected. This is not a WuXia-toolkit like Dragon Tiger Ox; neither is it Path of War or the Martial Arts Guidebook - this book, in a way, is much more down to earth and compatible with your average Pathfinder group. Why? Because it basically codifies the already existing martial defenses that stand in for armor and defines them as entities. After that, it proceeds to apply said defenses as ready toolkits to existing classes, showing you the easy modifications you need to make. Extrapolating a relative value for them and applying them further is rather easy at this point - and it may be the coolest thing about the archetype-section. I won't lie - that section of the book did not wow me from a creativity stand-point...but it incited an understanding for the mindset behind applying the respective martial arts to base-classes...and if I'm not sorely mistaken, that's ultimately the idea of this book.


This is further enforced by the base classes introduced here - for while not all of them did blow me away, a couple actually did...to the point where I want to use them, play them even. That's a pretty big deal, considering the limited space allotted to them. And yes, they lack favored class options. However, while certainly not perfect, the central achievement of this book, to me, lies in its didactic component. A halfway crunch-savvy GM can take the ideas herein and run with them, making a whole array of unique martial arts-y classes that end up being more artsy (haha -sorry...will punch myself later for that) than the didactically-used archetypes herein. To me, this book teaches by showing and evaluating and it does so in a surprisingly concise manner, in spite of hiccups here and there.


How to rate this, then? Well, here, things become a bit difficult - you see, for me as a person and designer, I liked this book much more than I would have imagined...mainly because I wasn't consciously aware, not thinking of these defenses as codified "ways", but rather as yet another set of class abilities. This book did generate an awareness for me I value rather highly. Beyond that, the book actually sports no less than three classes I can see myself using and enjoying...in spite of all of them being relatively simple and me gravitating usually towards the complexity-monsters. So, once again, this book has some serious plusses. At the same time, I consider a couple of botches in the rules-language, rare though they are, unnecessary and some of the balance-decisions to be a bit off, particularly regarding the force armors and shields.


The fact remains, though, that this is basically the easiest-to-apply unarmored-martial-arts-y-toolkit for Pathfinder I know of; no new system to learn, no complex modifications - choose a base class or an archetype (most of which retain compatibility with as many archetypes as possible) and there you go. This book probably won't blow you out of the water, but its achievement lies in its gentle, unobtrusive teaching, in its simple-to-add options to the game. I can't rate this 5 stars, even though I want to...but I will rate it 4 stars. And, at least for me and from a designer/homebrewing-perspective, this very much is a superb scavenging ground that slowly but steadily grows on you and provides quite a hefty dose of food for thought and basic chassis to embellish and build upon. Hence, I will also add my seal of approval to it, with the caveat that for simple plug and play, this does somewhat lose a bit of its appeal. If you do not plan to tinker with it, consider this a 3.5 - 4 stars-file instead.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Unarmored and Dangerous (PFRPG)
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Gunslingers of Porphyra
par Rob P. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/07/2016 07:01:46

Elegant and well balanced rules. Firearm modificaitons are awesome, simple and useful.


The alternative deeds allow a player to create gunslingers with a different feel without having to buy into an entire archetype.


There is no massive chart of different firearms, struggling to differentiate themselves, instead this product lets you personalize the existing firearms.


This PDF is essential for gunslinger players (and their GMs).



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Drow of Porphyra - Nalbrezu, Devils in Disguise
par Jason H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/01/2016 13:26:57

Presented in this Supplement for the Drow of Porphyra is everything you might need to create a Character geared towards a life in the underworld of any game. I mean underworld as in the Criminal sense of course. Nalbrezu are especially tailored towards every aspect of criminal lifestyle as it stands in most Campaigns. They represent a variation to Dark Elves that allows them to easily interact with other Races without many of the usual social hang ups that accompany their stereotypes.


Also within this Product are some really ingenious twists to help you create a Character with specialties in Interrogation, Torture and subsequently the ability to resist both while also presenting you with a compelling amount of background to help you make a truly unqiue Dark Elf.


Of particular interest will be the deceptively simple Rules presented for you to make use of in the areas of Information Gathering and Torture. What might otherwise be an unseemly Roleplay Session filled with on the fly judgements is efficiently and easily handled with the Rules laid out inside.


Of course you also get ALL of this information in a truly attractive package. Therre is enough Background provided to allow you to bring immense depth to any Nalbrezu Character without it taking you hours to read through. Between the formatting and the Artwork you really are getting a quality product from Purple Duck Games as seems to be the case with all of the Drow of Porphyra supplements to Date.


Below is just a quick peak in to what the Supplement contains in my own words:


Making a Slave of a Drow is something akin to holding a live hand grenade.


Probably the most refreshing thing about the Nalbrezu is the fact that they are fully aware of their place in the grand scheme of things. They realize there are things above them and things below and rather than hold up a misplaced air of superiority they acknowledge these facts and use every skill they have at their disposal to play the system for all it is worth. One might even call them some of the most practical elves ever.


Where some Drow might take the All for One and All for Me! Attitude the Nalbrezu have taken another path and that is solidarity. "Among Drow?!" you might ask but yes, Solidarity. Where most Drow would be scheming for a way to advance themselves to a higher perceived rank or privilege the Nalbrezu act for the Nalbrezu. That is not a broad statement meant to create an army of clone characters. There is a wide swath of room for a Nalbrezu character to scheme, plot and intrigue their way through life but at the core of their belief is the idea that you do everything for the advancement of the Nalbrezu or risk the Sanctions for your crimes.


All aspects of Nalbrezu life are governed by a series of increasingly more complex and deadly Decrees and Sanctions. Violate a Decree and the Sanction is clear. Ambiguity is something the Nalbrezu do not engage in when it comes to their Code and unlike some Societies where those in power are above certain laws the Nalbrezu engage in a constant practice of evaluation right up to and including their First Five Families.


As a people the Nalbrezu engage in all manner of shady business, they are the ones at the end of your illegal supply chain, providing you with good and services which allow you to keep your hands/paws..tentacles, or what have you, clean. They are a group of specialists who offer a full range of services be it information gathering, theft, evasion or assassination.



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Drow of Porphyra - The Xelusine: Sirens of Sin
par Jason H. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 08/01/2016 12:35:38

The Fractuous Drow of Porphyra


What more can I say that Endzeitgeist hasn't already put forth in a more eloquent and thorough manner? Very little if I am being compeltely honest however I will speak to one thing that impressed me in particular.


This particular Product takes a lot, if not all, of the awkwardness or potentially uncomfortable moments that dealing with Sin can sometimes present to a Gaming Group that might not otherwise often deal with such subject matter. That by itself is worth more than most people might realize. The Xelusine take that and make it downright interesting to see where as Character driven by a desire for Sin might go in the world.


All too often when a System is put in place to represent a somewhat less well known aspect of the game (in this case Aphrodisiacs) it is just a token effort to be inclusive and thankfully that is not so with the Xelusine. This supplement makes the whole system useful instead of it ending up being a brief anecdote in a roster of skills that one must take so as to be part of a Class which is then promptly forgotten about for the rest of the Characters journey.


Most people are used to the 'Typical' Drow Trope of intrigues and machinations where everything is sneaky and daggers sprout from peoples backs like dandelions on your lawn. Xelusine (and all of the other Drow of Porphyra Supplements) takes that and gives it a pleasant twist by making the Xelusine a sort of Seperatist Party to keep things fresh among the Dark Elves. No longer do we have to use the commom place Drow Pyramid Scheme of a Single poweful entity ruling over all. Instead we get to see the Drow as a People not completely subsumed by a label as is their typical presentation. In fact the Xelusine struggle to overcome the stereotyping of their own people which by itself is a breath of fresh air!



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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
par Ben S. [Acheteur vérifié] Date Ajoutée: 07/29/2016 17:11:31

This a very inventive version of the Prince Charming character and a delightfully macabre take on fairy tales. This adventures is definitely worth picking up.



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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
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Kineticists of Porphyra III
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 07/22/2016 06:43:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The third of the kineticist-supplements in the ...of Porphyra-line clocks in at 66 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of content, leaving us with 62 pages, though these are in the digest-like A5 (9'' by 6'')-format, but if the previous two books were any indications, this will be chock full with hard crunch...so let's not waste any time and dive right in!


In case you were wondering - this review is based on V.4 of the file.


After a brief discussion on kineticists and their interaction with the overall world, we are introduced to the selection of the archetypes herein - let's start with the racial one: The Elemental Brethren, for the suli-races (Still hurts me physically to write "Ifrit, Oread, Sylph, Undine" -the mythology nomenclature fail's so brutal...in this review, I'll refer to them just as "suli") must select the elemental focus associated with the element of the respective race, with non-suli at 1st level gaining the energy strike racial ability as being treated as the respective suli for the purpose of selecting the Extra Elemental Assault feat. Additionally, all of these brethren gain Incremental Elemental Assault as a bonus feat and may apply the elemental assault's benefits to the respective kinetic blasts as through these were weapons, but lose the 1st level utility wild talent. 3rd level allows for the expenditure of one round of elemental assault to reduce the burn cost of an infusion of up to third level by 1, with 8th level allowing for the expenditure of 2 rounds to reduce the burn cost of an infusion of up to 6th level by 1 and 12th level unlocking the option to expend up to 3 round to reduce burn of an infusion of up to 9th level by 1.


6th level similarly allows the kineticist to expend 4 rounds of elemental assault to fill 1 point of the internal buffer as a full-round action. 7th level provides and infusion on the list of those available at -1 level and gain both an infusion and utility wild talent instead of expanded element. 9th level lets the elemental brethren expend three rounds of elemental blast to increase the damage die size by 1 step for 1 round, replacing the infusion gained there. 10th level provides expanded element, but limits the choice available to the 4 primary elements, but they only treat their level as 2 lower rather than 4 for purposes of wild talent selection. If the ability is applied to an element already known, the archetype instead modifies a known infusion to work at -1 level as well as gaining an infusion and wild talent. At 15th level, the archetype reduces the number of rounds required to use elemental fuel, augmented internal buffer and blast burst by 1 round, to a minimum of 0, effectively de-limiting this resource - okay at this level. They also get an infusion or utility wild talent, but trade all of that for the expanded element gained. At 20th level, the archetype can expend 4 round of elemental assault to use any kinetic blast wild talent they don't know for 1 round. Alternatively, the archetype may wild card a wild talent for 24 hours and replace it with another of the same category - though the elemental restriction to fire, air, earth and water still persists. While I am still no fan of the races and themes, this is still a good example for a racial archetype done right, one that utilizes the unique capabilities and themes of the respective suli.


The second archetype contained herein would be the Corpse Puppeteer, who needs to choose viscera or void as elemental focus. At 1st level, the corpse puppeteer can create the eponymous corpse puppets from the bodies of deceased Small or Medium humanoids or animals (base stats provided): Void puppeteers get skeletons, while viscera specialists treat the creature as a construct. The construct is treated as an animal companion with kineticist levels standing in as full druid levels and may learn feats, in spite of being mindless, though the puppets are restricted to the companion's list. Corpses are dumb and can only attack, defend, stay and flee and they can only be healed via kinetic healing options. Commanding the puppet is a swift action and the connection may be severed as a full-round action. Establishing a new connection with a corpse costs 1/2 character level burn, min 1 - but for each additional corpse provided, said burn can be reduced by 1. 10th and 15th level unlock Large and Huge puppets, respectively, with options to accept burn to grow the puppets in a small quasi-ritual as well as the choice to instead commandeer multiple smaller puppets. This does consume the 7th level expanded element as well as the infusions granted at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level.


Corpse puppets may share spell-like utility wild talents that require a standard action to use, but this eliminates the standard action from the corpse puppeteer's next round and burn may not be accepted when doing so. This replaces the companion link and usual share spells abilities of companions. Starting at 4th level, fleshcrafting is unlocked, allowing the puppeteer to add the unnatural evolution permanently to a corpse, though only one such modification can be in effect at any given time, +1 at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 10th level unlocks the use of improved unnatural evolution instead. Corpses may also take Extra Evolution, using HD as level. This replaces the 4th level utility wild talent. 6th level keeps the corpses from decaying as though gentle repose'd and 10th level nets expanded element instead of a utility wild talent. As a capstone, the puppets gain a massive nasty boost to their capabilities. All in all, a delightfully creepy kineticist pet class.


The Dread Soul must be evil and has a corresponding aura and, if they die, returning them to life is hard, since they are on the express train to becoming evil outsiders in the lower planes. The blasts of dread souls are treated as though modified by the aligned infusion, not counting towards the substance infusion limit - but obviously, the ability's limited to evil and it replaces the first level infusion. 2nd level nets the Flesh of the Fallen unique elemental defense, which nets you scaling natural AC as well as resistance depending on the evil outsider (devil, demon, daemon) chosen; as always, burn can be accepted to increase these values up to a scaling limit (max +7) until you restore your burn. When you accept burn for a wild talent, your scales deal reflexive piercing damage equal to your elemental resistance to creatures assaulting you with non-reach melee weapons or natural attacks for 1 round.


Now 5th level becomes NASTY: As part of using any wild talent for which the dread soul must accept burn, excluding defense wild talents, they can target a living intelligent creature (Int 3+ - kittens and rats need not apply) to make a Will save or take one burn for the dread soul. Good creatures take a penalty to these saves and this delegated burn increases to 2 at 11th level, 3 at 17th level. If the creature manages the save, the dread soul is staggered until the end of his next round, but delegated burn does count, thankfully against the daily and per-round burn limits, avoiding abuse via fanatically loyal cohorts etc. - basically, the negative effects of burn are mitigated, but the resource as such is not tampered with. This may require a bit of book-keeping, but I wholeheartedly applaud the design decision and precision here. At 9th level, Con-mod times (Con mod times 2 at 20th level) per day, targets must succeed two saves against this to mitigate it, which does take a bit off the edge of the stagger on failure, but retains the gambit-y nature.


This ability eliminates infusion specialization 1, 3 and 5. At 6th,11th and 16th level, the archetype increases the amount of total burn he can accept a day instead of gaining internal buffer. 7th level expands the Flesh of the Fallen elemental defense to apply to a second element at slightly decreased potency and add a bonus to Intimidate checks equal to the natural AC-bonus to the benefits. Additionally, the archetype gets the soul burning substance infusion allows you to add, at 2 burn cost, +1 burn to your infusion, burn that is very hard, in particularly for good characters, to remove. At 10th level, expanded element is gained instead of the utility wild talent.15th level provides one of two infusions, one of which is gained instantaneously: Number 1 is an improved version of soulburning that deals lethal burn and requires greater restoration to remove. As a nitpick, the pdf failed to italicize the spell-name here. Number 2 would be an universal form infusion...and pretty much absolutely awesome: A foe reduced to 0 hit points is turned into a soulstone that flies to your hand, with the soulstone acting as an unwilling target for your burn-delegation - and best yet, the ability, while powerful, can't be cheesed. no kitten-failure, no follower-exploit...just all around awesomeness. And no, you can't stockpile them. Maximum 1. Finally, the second capstone ability lets you treat the delegated burn as not counting against your own burn maximum for a fitting, brutal capstone delimiter. All in all, cool evil kineticist archetype with some awesome visuals. Soul stones are just...shudder Also: Impressive from a design perspective regarding the lack of possible abuse scenarios - I tried hard to break this one and couldn't do it. Kudos!!


I've spared the most interesting for last - the Dimensional Ripper, who must select aether, time or void as focus (and this restriction is maintained for expanded element at 15th level). Instead of the 2nd level's utility wild talent, the class gets dimensional tear: As a standard action, these guys can accept 1 burn to create two tears in the dimensional veil. (Alternatively: Full-round action and no burn.) These must be within empty spaces within 50 ft (+10 ft. per level beyond 2nd) and require line of sight. Tears cannot be opened in hazardous terrain, are 5 ft. tall and wide and must be placed vertically on solid ground. They block line of sight and can be identified as via Knowledge (planes) and they cannot be opened where extradimensional travel is blocked. Tears closing on creatures deal 1d6 points of damage and shunt them to the nearest unoccupied free space. They automatically close upon a dimension ripper moving further than 100 ft. +10 ft. per level beyond their location. A given creature of size Large or smaller may enter a tear and exit at any given other tear to which it has line of sight and infinite loop-scenarios via tears end after the third iteration - so no eternal falling exploit. Attacks and spells shunted through a dimensional tear by any other character than the dimensional ripper emerge from a randomly determined dimensional tear (or re-emerge from the single tear, if only one's here). Kinetic blasts may be fired freely through dimensional tears by the dimensional ripper, though the maximum range may not exceed that of the kinetic blast. Melee attacks (such as via kinetic whip) can only travel through 1 tear and blasts modified with form infusions require the ripper to be within 5 ft. of the blast, treating the tear from which it emerges as the origin. Kinetic blasts with the ranged infusion increase the range of the blast by 10 ft. per tear they travel through, up to a maximum of 10 ft. per 3 class levels. The ripper can maintain a number of tears equal to twice the amount they can create with a single use at a given time - at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, they may place tears in the air (but only at 1/2 maximum range height), while also creating +1 tear (+1 tear per ability use every 4 levels thereafter). Additionally, tears created as a standard action no longer cost burn, and they can be created as a move action for accepting one burn. At 10th level, move actions no longer cost burn and the tears can be opened as a swift action (though the ability fails to specify that it costs burn to do so, that is apparent from the context) and standard action-created tears no longer require burn to increase their duration.


At 8th level, burn can be accepted to make the dimensional tears last longer and treat travel through rifts as if affected by the light speed travel wild talent. The dimensional ripper may also apply hyper-dimension blast for 1 burn to their blasts, as long as the blast travels through at least one rift. 9th level is interesting - for +1 burn cost, the dimensional ripper can increase +atk and damage by +1 per tear traveled through by the blast, with a cap of 1 per 3 class levels. Additionally, charges made through them with melee-centric tricks like kinetic fist get upgraded to pounce and increase the movement rate for each tear passed by 10 ft., with the same cap determined by level. 11th level becomes crazy cool -as a move action, they can move any number of tears up to 30 ft. - and they can, as an immediate action, be moved into the charge of an enemy, forcing them to save or be at your mercy regarding their egress point.


17th level is the "watch me obliterate you"-move: Shoot a blast into a tear...watch it emerge from ALL your tears (except the first one used), at half strength - sure, 3 burn...but this is so gratifying. At 20th levels, two rifts can be collided, causing them to collapse in disintegrating, devastating blasts...oh, and yes, the more used, the deadlier. This is basically the equivalent of all those Japano-RPG final boss total annihilation moves. You need set-up...yes. But you can kill basically anything with it. And at 20th level...I'm surprisingly okay with that. Why? Because the dimensional ripper is FRIGGIN AWESOME. As in: Even if the rest of this book was utter garbage (which it isn't!), this alone would warrant the asking price. It's the efficient, cool, yet restricted portalist that has enough options at each level; that can snipe through portals; that makes for a ridiculously brilliant antagonist and for a radically different playing experience. This guy is platinum.


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You're still here, aren't you? All right, all right. So, guess what - no new elements this time around. Instead, we get an example that N. Jolly can write nice fluff as well - 5 elemental saturations, basically, for those not in the know, leyline-like nexuses of power for kineticists, are provided - with the shadeless citadel for light, the genus loci (the land made flesh) and similarly iconic places awaiting your kineticists to tap into their power - and while intended for use with porphyra, these places can be inserted into other campaign settings without hassle. The cool thing here: By e.g surviving the genus loci trying to eat you, you gain a means to convert 1 point of lethal damage into non-lethal damage. Bracing the chamber of compressed time can provide you a move and a standard action in a surprise round - these are powerful, yes - but they also are story-benefits and as such completely in the hands of the GM.


The composite blast-section begins with a clarification: Composite blasts treated as though affected by an infusion don't count the added effect towards the limits of substance of form infusions. The blasts themselves are, much like in KOP II, pretty versatile and feature interesting images: Blasts of gore, hellfire (fire + negative, +1 damage die step and burning infusion), rare-metal meteorites and there would also be complex mods like shatterstorm blast: While you reduce damage die size (erroneously called "hit die" here) by one step, you add +2 damage per HD and treat it as though the kinetic bomb infusion had been applied to it. Adding silverlight to positive energy blasts and reducing foes below 0 hp to ash...there are some ways with which one can be an utter, total prick here. Like it!


Of course, we once again get new infusion wild talents, with reprints from KOP I and II denoted as such, but contained for your convenience. At level 3, I consider ignoring 20 hardness and being treated as adamantine for 2 burn to be too early. The effects are generally valued as stronger than alignment DR and hardness is pretty much the best defense there is...so yeah, that one needs a whack with the nerf bat in my book. On the plus-side: Demoralizing via blasts? Cool idea, as it emphasis a bit more good ole' skill use. Upgrade-follow-ups for the burning infusion, frying creatures in water, level 5 burn 4 dismissal...pretty neat. Follow-up shot is basically a Rapid Shot/Flurry-style form infusion, but I consider the Pyroclastic infusion to be more interesting: Creatures currently on fire can become your own little kinetic fire bombs. And then, there is Vital Blade. It works like kinetic blade, but can be used with Vital Strike, Improved Vial Strike and even when used as part of a charge. Sorry, but no. This is friggin' OP. I know that plenty of people disagree with me on this one, usually people who like playing the theory-numbers game. I know quite a lot of gaming groups treat melee as a static of trading blows with minor movement here and there. My experience is, that fluid and dynamic combats that do not boil down to trading full attacks all the time, make for more exciting combats. If your enemy refuses to do the out-rambo-ing game with you, Vital Strike becomes extremely powerful; particularly so when combined with the damage-escalation tricks of the kineticist. For me, personally, this is broken. It may not be broken in your game - if movement in your game is worth less than in mine, which seems to be the case in some tables, then this won't cause too much of a hassle. That being said, as a whole, this is a nice expansion indeed!


We proceed according to plan in a similar fashion with utility wild talents - the pdf offers quite an array of different new ones, with reprints properly codified. Adaptive skin builds on reflective skin, allowing you to change resistance after the triggering attack, while aerial supremacy allows for up to two 90° turns in an aerial charge. Aquatic kineticists will enjoy taking bubbles of the sea with them, allowing them to use their swim speed on land (Cerulean Seas fans - get this!!). Okay, here, I'll just be a sour grape: Level 3 utility wild talent. Nets you dimensional tear. Only the basic one, sure...but please. It can also be upgraded via two follow-ups. Not close to the ripper, but still. The ability is ridiculously good. In my game, it will remain archetype exclusive - imho, easy access to them is too powerful. Elemental duplicates of the good ole' hand-spells-formerly-known-as-Bigby-spells on the other hand, are cool. Also: paper control is MUCH cooler than basic phytokinesis 8did we ever actually get useful rules for that one?) and can be taken in its place...this is a good thing, for basic phytokinesis kinda never did make it into Occult Origins, at least not into my copy. So kudos for this required upgrade! Now, the book also has some absolute winners for the thinking and planning crowd - Photographic Transference. You can see through your illusions. As in: "You literally see through them, becoming blind while the effect lasts and instead watch the world from the illusions you created. Yes, this can be pretty darn awesome. You can also deal fire damage to yourself (or allies) to end bleed effects or make your kinetic cover come apart as difficult terrain when it's broken. Quicksand sinkhole? Check. Modifying wind intensity (your sniper/artillery guy will thank you for it!) with appropriate levels for wind strength? Check. Oh, and you can play disco boy. No, seriously: Strobe Lights that fascinate targets. Drawing foes into dimensional tears or pulling out your own intestines and whipping foes with them? Yup. And yes, the latter has upgrades and feat-synergy. THANK YOU.


Beyond these, the book has EVEN MORE: Combo Wild Talents. Bone spikes wild talents, infused with biological toxins, for example. Oh yes. These made me very happy...and there is a lot of potential for more of them in the future. The pdf also introduces elemental mutations - basically, in Porphyra, the NewGod war etc. have tainted the elements. Kineticists may only have one such mutated element. Brutal is basically more powerful, but always takes lethal damage for Burn and burn altering effects. Conservative reduces damage, but also burn. Dense means that they treat non-physical blasts as physical...but need to attack regular AC. Intelligent mutation nets +2 class skills and skills per level, but requires a move action for gather energy and supercharge. These may btw. also help, scavenging-wise, campaigns that consider the kineticist's damage output to be too high. Combine detriments and there you go. That just as an aside.


The pdf also features new feats - basic kinetic training nets you one utility wild talent, while Composite Blast technique allows you to gain a composite blast for which you'd require an expanded element. Another feat nets you +2 Burn a day, +1 dimensional tear per use of the ability. There is also a feat that deserves special mention: Overwhelming Defense treats you as though you have accepted 1 burn for the purpose of elemental defense, +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. This is basically a power-upgrade for the Overwhelming Soul...and a good one.


The pdf also sports a couple of items - there would be the Elemental Heart artifact (Hint: Kineticists will want it!) Blaster's bearing is brutal - it's a sling bullet into which you can infuse kinetic blasts with substance infusions of up to 3rd level - and they make sense to me, with their warfare application and volatile nature keeping them from breaking in-game logic. Now burn fragments will not get into my game. these are one-use burn-reducers. Only by one, sure and the three variants and their caps are well-priced...but still. Not a fan. There would also be a robe that grants temporary hit points upon accepting burn.


The pdf concludes with Jade Strider, a CR 10 dimensional ripper sample character.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a few glitches in the formal and rules-language department, though usually, they don't impede the functionality of the content. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly 1-column color-standard of Purple Duck Games, with A5 (9'' x 6'')-size. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks as well as gorgeous, original full-color artworks.


This is the third of the books by N. Jolly and team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) and it is...grml...hrmpf...you know, I really want to complain about some of the options herein. I consider a couple of components to be too good. And, at high levels, a capable power-gamer can insta-kill pretty much everything by using this and KOP I + II...but that's, for the most part, a system-inherent issue. Until 17th level, even with all the options in the combined KOP-books, the kineticists expanded played like strong choices and worked surprisingly well. This series, as a whole, is something, though, which much like psionics or similar systems, requires the GM to really grasp how the kineticists work - with the significant fine-tuning options the KOP-series offers, that holds true even more. This book, perhaps a bit more so, should be carefully read by the GM, since not all components will be fitting for all campaigns.


That out of the way, in spite of me disliking/banning more components in this book for use in my nonplaytest-home game than in the first and second book, this is still my favorite installment in the series. The archetypes are friggin' inspired and the dimensional ripper alone is worth the price ten times. (Granted, I wouldn't allow for other kineticists to get tears...but you may. Just rest assured that the foes will weep...) Anyhow, the new locales, the pieces of content that I liked, shone like stars to me this time around. The fact that the dread soul can't be cheesed, the sheer complexity of the ripper that one ups the already significant complexity of the kineticist...this book is pretty much master-class level regarding in the difficulty of its designs...and it manages to make them work. That in itself is a damn feat and the level of creativity and coolness this one oozes is exceedingly pronounced. To sum up: Best archetypes in the series, best archetypes I've tested for the kineticist so far. Must own book. Even if you loathe the base kineticist with all your heart, get KOP I, II and III and see if the new elements, archetypes like the ripper or dread soul and elements like viscera don't change your mind.


In short: Considering the more than fair price-point, the complexity of crunch offered, the quality of the complex crunch offered and the absolutely impressive execution of these components, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the few hiccups herein.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Kineticists of Porphyra III
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AA: The Still Grotto
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 07/20/2016 10:59:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This brief module clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page patreon recognition, leaving us with 23 pages of content, though these do adhere to the A5 (9'' by 6'') standard and thus are more of a booklet-size.


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


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All right, still around? In the endless reedlands and marshes of Porphyra's Fenian Triarchy (though adaptation to other settings is easy), dire omens reign: The feud between the peaceful grippli and the lethal boggards has been brewing for quite a while and it may become worse soon - the grippli have just lost one of their best warrior-diplomats, while the boggards heed the murmurs of a new force in the swamp, an erstwhile exile from their tribes, who has attained a powerful remnant of the NewGod Wars. Into this volatile mixture, the PCs stumble in face first via one of 3 detailed adventure hooks.


The location of the adventure itself is situated in the "Shunned Mountain" - 15 ft. high, it hides the entrance to the eponymous still grotto, where the foes loom. Now, in a nice twist, the module actually suggests multiple means of actually handling the value of treasure contained in the grotto. Now, structure-wise, the still grotto is very much a dungeon-crawl with pretty detailed read-aloud texts. The dungeon similarly is pretty internally consistent, with explanations on how certain creatures were attracted etc., so in case you consider this type of information important, it's here. Another peculiarity of this module lies in the adversaries employed: From the sarennel to the defidi (think undead frog-folk; and yes, there are great full-color artworks herein!), the monsters featured make amply use of Monsters of Porphyra I and II, though, obviously, stats are included in this book for your convenience. In a nice note, magically infused terrain is featured in for your convenience in the relevant combat statistics of the respective adversaries - so no, you don't have to do math pertaining the effects of that contaminating nightwave scale and its desecrate effect.


The PCs will have a chance to save a grippli survivor if they manage to defeat the dread, exiled boggard necromancer. The pdf also contains notes on divining ioun stones, the reptile-affine coldblood torc and the ring of engineered creature attraction that explains some of the tricks employed by the adversaries in this book. The pdf also includes a Diplomacy-enhancing cantrip as well as a breakdown of XP, EL and creatures by area in a nice table as well as a list of treasures to be found, with associated value.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good this time around - I noticed no glaring issues that would have impeded my ability to run this module. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 1-column standard for books of A5-ish layout. The artworks in full color are excellent and the pdf comes with a great full-color map of the Fenian Triarchy as well as a nice b/w-map of the complex, though no player-friendly key-less version is included. A JPG of the cover is also included in the download. To my chagrin, the module has no bookmarks, which represents a slight comfort-detriment.


Perry Fehr knows how to write adventures. While I consider his crunch to be somewhat hit and miss, I have yet to be disappointed by any of his modules, with unique cultures and a gift for creating evocative set-ups and thematically-consistent environments going hand in hand. This module, in contrast to e.g. the Purple Mountain-saga (seriously, check it out here - it may be the most under-appreciated series of dungeon modules for PFRPG!) has a smaller scope, but particularly when run within Porphyra, its unique backdrop provides a lot of its flair. The dungeon-exploration itself is a nice, brief stint in a thematically concise and relatively challenging environment and certainly is fun. Particularly for the low price point, there is not much to complain about, with the consistency and unique adversaries elevating this to a level where I consider it a nice little trip. While the module does not reach levels of pure excellence, it is a nice, inexpensive way to spice up your swamp/marsh-adventuring, initiate contacts with frog-folk or simply let your PCs gather some loot and XP on their way to the next big task. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars for a nice, inexpensive module; rounded up due to the more than fair price point.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Kineticists of Porphyra II
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 07/18/2016 09:25:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second of the massive expansions for the kineticist-class clocks in at 59 pages (as before, in the one-column, digest-like format), 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This review is based on V.4 of the file.


After a brief introduction on kineticism in Porphyra, we dive right into the first archetype, the Divine Conduit, who must be good-aligned, gets an aura of good and replaces the 1st level infusion with the exclusive universal wild talent kinetic smite: For accepting 1 burn, as a swift action, you may declare a target within 60 ft. as the target of smite evil as per the paladin class feature, but only gain 1/2 your Constitution modifier as bonus to atk and AC to account for the option to use it more often. 2nd level provides the burn-less adamant faith elemental defense, which nets you Dr 1/evil, +1 per 2 kineticist levels, with the option t enhance this defense by +1 per burn accepted, with a DR-cap up to your total kineticist level. The effect can be dismissed and restored as an immediate action and increased DR is maintained until your burn is removed. Furthermore, and this is pretty strong at mid levels, when using a wild talent and accepting burn, adjacent allies partake in your DR.


2nd level also provides potentially the make or break option - holy healing, which nets the kinetic healing utility wild talent, regardless of element and yes, it locks burn into the kineticist, making it impossible to delegate the burn. The conduit can use this one as a swift action, which is pretty good - I probably would have gone with a more conservative action economy here. The ability replaces the 2nd level utility wild talent. At 4th level, the divine conduit gets a 10-ft anti-fear aura and at 8th level, a burnless wild-talent that duplicates phantom steed, with burn allowing for a HP upgrade - nice! Also nice that this balances the power of this talent by providing a cool-down if the steed is destroyed. At 10th level, the divine conduit may extend spell-like utility wild talents with durations greater than one round to up to Constitution modifier allies within 30 feet for 1 round per class level, replacing thus the 10th level utility wild talent. Cool, though in a minor typo-level glitch, Constitution is not capitalized.


The second archetype herein would be the Dragon Pact Kineticist -kineticists who have a pact with an ancient, powerful dragon -and yes, the pdf provides guidelines for entering such a pact. Kineticists in such a relation gain an element associated with their patron dragon. At 1st level, these guys gain either breath of the dragon (draconic breath (cone), 15 ft. and draconic breath (line), 30 ft. form infusions, at burn cost -1, that is 0 -balanced in flexibility due to both only dealing half blast damage for non-energy blasts) or the draconic form utility wild talent, which grants a 1d6 bite and 2 1d6 claws and also reduces burn of the kinetic fist form infusion by 1 while active. I have three nitpicks here: One: Damage type? Per bite/claw default, I assume, or is there some kineticist-element tie in I overlooked? 2) Claw damage is non-standard for Medium-size. 3) The wild talent does not specify whether these attacks are treated as primary or secondary natural weapons. At 4th level, kineticists choosing breath add this one to their lists of available utility wild talents. If that sounds powerful...well, there is a catch - these guys can only use kinetic blasts when applying either the draconic breaths or kinetic fist form infusions and this eats the 1st level infusion.


Starting at 2nd level, the kineticist gains the skin of the dragon defensive universal wild talent, granting you natural armor which can be increased by accepting burn, with the amount of possible burn being determined by class level and capping at 7th. This replaces elemental defense.


At 7th level, the choice made at 1st level regarding the draconic aspect is further enhanced, with means to increase range of breaths for accepting burn and a composite blast that can be used in conjunction with physical blasts at 2 burn, with 15th level reducing that to 1. Dragon pact kineticists who have elected to follow the body-route gain a tail that deals 1d6 and is properly coded as secondary, though it can be used as primary for 1 burn accepted. Additionally, this allows the tail to be used as a prehensile tail. I assume that rules-wise, this acts like the prehensile tail racial feature, but a specific nod towards this would have been appreciated here. The Draconic Fusion composite blast allows for the blending of simple blast and draconic patron energy type chosen. 8th level nets 60 ft. fly speed with good maneuverability via the draconic wings universal utility wild talent and 10th level provides the expanded element class feature.


At 15th level, the dragon pact kineticist either further increases range of the breaths (for, you guessed it, more burn) or an always primary tail with all natural attacks gained having their threat ranges doubled - thankfully sans means of further stacking onto this expansion. They also get a fear aura and the element eater utility wild talent, regardless of focus, assigned to the pact's element. 20th level nets the benefits of the draconic aspects not chosen and energy immunity to the dragon's energy...all in all, good reasons for dragons to make sure the kineticist has an accident before he reaches this power-level...I'm pretty burned out on dragon-apotheosis/emulation type of builds, but this one actually is interesting and has some appropriate fluff thrown in as well - I really enjoy it and think I'll use it...which was pretty surprising to me!


The Fusion kineticist would be next: They select two elements for their elemental focus, gaining both simple blasts. One is the main element, one is the sub element (snigger...I'll call the dom element in my game...Yes. Sometimes I'm horribly infantile.) Fusion kineticists may only select the 1st level talents for their sub element and do not gain composite blasts for it. This replaces the first level infusion and basic utility talent. 2nd level nets the elemental defense of their sub element and 7th level unlocks wild talents from the sub element at -2 levels.


They also gain a composite blast, provided they qualify for it, dealing "both types of damage instead of half of each type." And...here I'm stumped. I have NO IDEA how that's supposed to work in practice. Physical attack is resisted by DR, energy by resistance: Bypass? Yay or nay? From the wording (and generally sensibility) I assume this does not mean double damage - that would be insane and contradictory to the elaboration. Thing is: Pathfinder has no solid precedence rules for attacks that count as BOTH. An example: A creature has DR 20/- and immunity to fire. It's hit by a magma blast that deals 58 points of damage. Does the DR apply? The immunity? Neither?? The smaller, i.e. the DR? No idea.


Cross infusion is damn cool - at 9th level, it lets you apply infusions to simple blasts at +1 burn cost. At 15th level, the sub element is now eligible for full level wild talent selection and the archetype also gets 1 infusion or utility wild talent. More interesting: For 1 burn, they can use two utility wild talents in the same standard action as long as they are from different elements and 2 levels lower than the highest utility wild talent accessible. At 20th level, cross infusion can be used with composite blasts and the archetype gets 2 utility wild talents or infusions of different elements.


The Hex kineticist is the final archetype - it gains a familiar at full witch progression (and its death can really hamper blast damage) and 2nd level nets a hex, with 6th and every 4 levels thereafter allowing for the selection of an additional hex instead of a utility wild talent. 3rd level nets an element as per elemental focus, but no simple blast or utility wild talent. Instead, the hex kineticist can accept 1 burn to store a kinetic blast of this element (at half damage) in the familiar, reducing the damage output of the kineticist for as long as the blast is imbued. This may not sound like much on paper, but damn can you pull off some cool tactical stunts there! At 7th level, the familiar gains a 1st level infusion and infusion specialization 1, but can't accept burn for an infusion. Additionally, the kineticist and the familiar gain the Interweave Composite Blast teamwork feat (which is not, as a nitpick, properly capitalized) and also the burn 2 Hex Synthesis infusion, which lets you infuse standard non-major hexes into the blast., forcing all creatures taking damage from your blast to save against the hex. In one rare case of, admittedly, mostly aesthetic, rules-language hiccup in these books, the wording could be a bit more polished: By replacing "affects one target" with "single-target hex," that section would imho be a bit cleaner...but what's here is functional.


10th level nets the expanded element that's delayed down from 7th level and 15th level provides +1 infusion of up to 2nd level as well as infusion specialization 2 for the familiar. The master unlocks major hexes as well as gaining one and getting to option to apply them via hex synthesis at burn cost. 20th level makes hexes basically a wild-card that can be switched via burn and further upgrades the familiar for a third infusion as well as infusion specialization 3. Overall, a great, cool archetype - powerful and unique.


The pdf also introduces two new elements: Poison nets you Knowledge (Nature) and Sleight of Hand, with basic toxikinesis as basic manipulation and acid blast as a simple blast wild talent. Toxikenticists may use the burning infusion, though it deals acid damage instead and nets +2 to any poison kinetic blasts. As for defense, well, there we get Corrosive Miasma. This one nets you SR 11, which increases by 1 for every 2 kineticist levels beyond 1st. By accepting one burn, you can increase this by 1 until burn is removed next, with additional levels allowing for the increased scaling of SR via more burn. As an immediate action, you can lower your SR for that spell. Finally, when accepting burn when using a poison wild talent, you may, for one round, corrode spells affecting you, reducing the caster level by 1/2 your kineticist level. This is VERY unique and I really love its defenses!


The second element may have just as well been made for me (and all other fans of horror movies and icky villains) - viscera. Corpokineticists get Disguise and Knowledge (dungeoneering) and gain the physical bone blast (bludgeoning, slashing or piercing) as a simple blast, basic corpokinesis. A coprokineticist's viscera substance infusions do not affect the undead or constructs unless specified otherwise and throw form infusions are restricted to bone blasts and affects corporeal undead and the pushing infusion can affect undead and constructs. Infusions that affect corporeal undead can be extended to affect incorporeal undead by adding the incorporeal infusion. As for Defense, that would be Reactive Skin. While it's "resistance", not "resist" to an element of choice gained (including negative energy and sonic!), you can, as often, charge this scaling resistance by accepting burn, with level determining the maximum of burn you can accept to power this one. Now here's the cool deal - you can switch these resistances by accepting 1 burn. While, mechanically, I prefer the poison here, I love the viscera's flair...


Anyway, we obviously also get an array of new composite blasts - from acid rain (poison + water) to bioelectricity (viscera + air) etc. - and generally, I consider them well-balanced, more so, in fact than in KOP I; more important for me would be that they have unique tactical options: When you, for example, properl a bloody murder blast at your foes (by throwing a blood-soaked skull) , you increase the damage by +2 per 1d6 of the blast and may add the wrack form infusion. The imagery is awesome as well: Take Venus Blast: You create an extremely fast-growing carnivorous plant that chomps down on a foe and then withers to nothingness. It's just one sentence. It's odd, yes - but it is imho a huge liberation strike from the blandness of colored elemental las000rs firing at foes.


Obviously, this would not be complete without infusions, right? Well, there would be Str or Dex damage and a blend of old and new ones, for the pdf does sport some reprints from KOP I (though they now, obviously, take the new elements into account!) for completion's sake - kudos for going the extra mile there. And yes, you know...this pdf, much more so than KOP I, starts to show that the team is getting creative with the material. Take attunement burst for sound: Con-mod creatures hit by your attuning blast can be caused to become basically small centers of detonations...if played right, this can provide a ridiculously awesome scene. Crippling limbs of foes is cool - but not as cool as firing your blast through hyper-dimensions, appearing right in front of the target. What about using poison doses that can be added to blasts? Negating poison resistance/immunity? Even the save-or-suck paralyzing infusion have subsequent saving throws to not make it an I Win-button. Oh, and there are psychotropic infusions that not only deal Wis damage, they can cause the target to attack his allies and save versus harmless spells cast by them...pretty damn cool! What about instilling an urge to self-harm in creatures? Oh yes. Now at 2 burn, telekinetic weapon may be one of the very few infusions I'm not sold on - for this flat fee, it lets you add weapon properties and enhancement bonuses to blasts...which is awesome, sure. But why not tie the burn cost to the net enchantment of the weapon? Would have imho made more sense and an actually difference between channeling Excalibur and a +1 flaming weapon... Still, overall a great chapter, with my aforementioned gripe being not that pronounced and overall creativity exceeding that of the predecessor.


The same approach as for infusions is also applied to utility wild talents, with reprints sporting new elements etc. and ample of new ones introduced to the fray: Acid fog, using poison to partially ignore hardness, mitigating the damage objects take when telekinetically blasted by you. But SO MUCH COOLER: Zone of Atrophy. Basically somewhat akin to the zones of discordia of my own scion, this one allows you to nerf that annoyingly overpowered healer and his conjuration (healing) spells and SPs. Oh, and the follow-ups: Instant skeletalized defeated foes that can be disintegrated via burn...or animated as zombies via burn! Oh yes. And yes, there is an anti-divine follow-up available at level 5. Damn, clerics will hate these guys...


Telepathy via benign cysts on allies? Gross, yes...but so damn cool! Creating poison, with class level determining the market price? Yeah, damn neat...particularly since it has an anti-abuse/selling-caveat. Bone Armor? Yes, please. On a minor nitpick: Bone blades allow for 1d4 claws (correct damage for size!) and 1d6 bite (though that one costs burn) and don't specify secondary/primary...but yeah...assuming you know the defaults and you're good to go. Want vestigial arms? You can have them...up to 2, in fact! (The third time, you can get a parasitic twin...come on...you know you want it...) What about shaping the flesh of a target, causing e.g. eyes to grow shut? Yep...so creepy and so damn awesome. I'm not the biggest fan of kinetic healing, but that's personal taste. For those of you who enjoy it - two follow-ups are included and help with that line. More interesting and creative: What about inflicting the chaos beast's corporeal instability curse on those pesky adversaries? Or did you want a 1-point eidolon evolution? (or more via follow-ups?) Well, you can have that now. Treating telekinetic blasts as dispel magic similarly is useful.


The pdf also includes an array of new feats, which let you use Con-mod to calculate form infusion saving throw DCs, set up combos (penalties to saves versus utility wild talents after taking a blast), a multiclass-enhancer (select wild talents up to 4 over kineticist level, up to total character level - similar feat available for blasts), getting limited poison access for wood blasts, gain ranged blasts regardless of restrictions...quite a bunch of material here. The feat Stout Deterrent has been mixed in layout/formatting, its name hanging halfway in the previous feat in a rather weird glitch.


The pdf also provides new magic items: Body wraps that reduce kinetic fist form infusion burn costs, bracers that allow for the conversion of simple blast energy via burn and then there would be burn shards, which can accept 1 or 2 points of burn for the attuned owner...and yes, they are limited to one per character, thankfully. Conduit gloves allow you to gather power while holding objects and may be a bit inexpensive at 1,000 gp. The big thing here, would be crystals of elemental knowledge, which contain spell-like utility wild talents that can be attuned and then used - but they don't allow prohibited characters from using them and the item, once again, has a limit of attuned crystals, preventing abuse. Focusing gloves allow for the addition of magic weapon properties from select lists to blasts, but require the user to accept burn, while a variant is particularly potent for kinetic blades. The bland power enhancement of rings of elemental strength, in comparison, feels relatively lame and, since it's blast die-dependent, also pretty powerful for the price. The pdf also provides kineticist ioun stones. Vambraces and vests interacting with elemental overflow are neat and certain wraps allow kineticists to gain the benefits of being Large sans actually being Large, with a 76K-variant doing the same for Huge...though in either cases, only when subject to the kinetic form wild talent. And yes, it comes with proper info on stacking etc.


The pdf concludes with Zeltryx Lastbloom, a drow (karza) dragon pact kineticist 12.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not as precise as in the first KOP-book, at least on a formal level. On a rules-level, the concepts juggled are imho better, particularly considering the additional step up in difficulty regarding the designs herein - there isn't much to complain here. Layout adheres, as mentioned an A5-single-column standard (6'' by 9''), which you make prefer or not - just something to bear in mind regarding the page-count. The pdf sports a couple of gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.


N.Jolly, with support from team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) has crafted a book that is, at least in my opinion, superior to the first KOP-book. Why? Because it is more daring. It is the book that conceptually liberates the kineticist from the "elemental-laser"-niche and makes the class have some seriously cool options: Whether it's poison, hexes or the like - the creativity that can be found herein exceeds its predecessor by leaps and bounds. It was this book, not the first, that made me first think that I might actually want to create a kineticist. I considered the system intriguing from the get-go, mind you - I simply considered the niche to be too narrow and not too much to my liking. The variety of options introduced is cool and creative, the class material is solid and, considering the difficulty of the kineticist system and nomenclature, one can consider this a rather impressive book.


The main achievement of this book, to me, would be that it brings flair and panache into the class; it's bolder in its expansion of the kineticist class's scope as well as in its use of flavor and in its design-choices. Yes, there are a few instances where the rules-language could be a tad bit more precise, but they are few and far in-between and balance-wise, I actually consider this one to be more refined - I have seen less I'll have to nerf for less high-powered games than in the first book. Yes, I'm concerned about the damage-upgrade items and the overall stacking game one can see coming here...but at the same time, I absolutely applaud the items like burn shards and their limitations, the crystals and the overall creativity and mechanical precision that went into this book. I could ramble on all day.


In short: While Kineticists of Porphyra was the book you had to buy to make the kineticist more versatile, this is frankly the book you want to buy, as the strength of concepts herein vastly exceeds that of its predecessor book and the base class. It may be a tad bit less refined in a few formal hiccups than the previous book...but it makes up for that in leaps and bounds.


Now excuse me, I need to build some poison and viscera kineticists...I forgot the verdict? Oh, yeah, right. Well, it's my old maxim: Boldness and creativity trump blandness married to perfectionism any day of the week. My final verdict, since this book actually made me like the class and liberated it from its narrow scope, integrating it so much better within PFRPG, is 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Kineticists of Porphyra II
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Kineticists of Porphyra
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 07/13/2016 08:41:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first of the much lauded Kineticist of Porphyra-books clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 46 pages of content - however, you should be aware that the layout for this book is that of a single-column one, with the obvious intent of being printed out in A5 (or paperback) content, which means that there is a bit less content herein than you'd expect from the page-count. However, there is still A LOT of ground to cover, so let's take a look, shall we? Oh, one, more thing - this review is based on the fifth iteration of the book, just in case you were wondering.


We begin, after a brief discussion on the discovery of kineticism on Porphyra, with a selection of archetypes, the first of which would be the cerebral kineticist, whose key ability for wild talents, DCs, concentration etc. is not Constitution, but Intelligence. This, obviously, render the kineticist much more fragile and though the archetype gains the Knowledge skills, the archetype does replace its 1st level infusion with the ability to accept 2 points of burn without suffering any negative effects, +1 at 4th level and every 5 levels thereafter.


Now if you're like me, you'd consider this burn buffer to be pretty excellent for characters that do have a decent Con-stat (after all, the kineticist is not particularly MAD), but thankfully, the archetype does have something to reign the otherwise apparent abuse capability in - psychological burn, which means that the kineticist takes an increasing amount of debilitating conditions that last until burn is recovered (OUCH!) from a list that begins at dazzled and ends at comatose. Instead of elemental overflow, they can grant themselves a morale bonus to any mental ability score. Okay, we begin with a whopper - you read mental shield and think WTF. Then you start doing the math and, provided you do not utilize further burn-mitigating combos, it actually comes out rather nicely. Daring design...I like it.


The elemental avatar gets all primary elements as...well...primary elements, but pay for this flexibility with the inability to execute composite blasts apart from via elemental fusion and the fact that the first infusion gained is delayed to 3rd level, while the first utility wild talent is delayed to 2nd level, with additional ones showing up every 3 levels thereafter. On a plus, the added flexibility also applies to elemental defense. Now I mentioned elemental fusion - they gain this type of composite blast at 7th level, with either a combo of three physical damage types (avatar blast) or untyped damage (spirit blast) being the options available.


Both suffer from reduced damage dice (down to d4s) and are considered associated blasts for three elements (air, earth, water for avatar; electric, fire, cold for spirit blasts) for infusion purposes. Instead of metakinesis, these guys may, at 9th level add a second elemental defense per 2 burn accepted, as though they had accepted 1 point of burn for the purposes of its effects, replacing thus metakinesis (maximize). 10th level provides a simple blast wild talent as though it were a 1st level utility wild talent and, as a capstone, he can enter basically avatar-form, with elemental defenses and overflow are treated as though he had accepted 10 points of burn and reduces burn costs of kinetic blasts by 2, but with each round causing one burn and Con-mod being the cap for consecutive rounds spent in this state, being exhausted thereafter. So yeah, in case you were wondering - this is pretty much the avatar-archetypes fans of the franchise have been asking for.


The elemental scions can choose to gain both associated blasts for their elements or increase the damage of simple blasts by one step, altering elemental focus and replacing the infusion granted at level 1. 7th level nets the archetype a composite blast that requires the expanded element of the primary element and is treated as +2 levels for purpose of infusion and wild talent selection, +1 DC. Additionally, they gain +1 utility talent or infusion. Finally, if they elected not to increase damage dice, they may now do so for a simple blast in place of the infusion or wild talent gained and they may choose a simple blast wild talent as a 1st level wild talent; this ability, though, consumes the expanded element class feature. 15th level provides +1 DC for infusions and wild talents as well as damage die size-increase for simple and composite blasts, while also gaining +1 utility wild talent or infusion, eliminating the expanded element gained at 15th level. The capstone replaces omnikinesis with +1 infusion or wild talent and treats all infusions or wild talents as though they had been enhanced by +1 point of burn. Basically, this is the one-element-specialist. Should have been part of the base-class. Not too blown away, but what many people wanted.


The final archetype would be the kinetic duelist, who gets an expanded list of proficiencies and may channel his power in the form of a kinetic blade, allowing the duelist to make AoOs with it, with the lack of range (apart from via the ranged blast infusion) and a restriction of infusions available for their melee kinetic blast in blade form paying for this. The aforementioned ranged infusion is btw. potentially available from 1st level onwards, with 10th level unlocking kinetic whip mastery as a utility wild talent, allowing you to treat your blade-shaped blast instead like a whip-shaped blast - i.e. the signature kinetic blade mastery is instead applied as though it was used in conjunction with the kinetic whip infusion. 11th level allows the duelist to gather power as part of a full attack. 13th level provides a brutal trick: Kinetic Assault lets the duelist charge for 4 burn via the universal form infusion, not provoke AoOs...and increase DCs AND DOUBLE damage. OUCH. Considering the kineticist's damage output, that's pretty savage. Oh, and at 17th level, you can have two such blades...which is cool and all and has the proper rules-language to work...but still. These powers, btw., come at the cost of metakinesist and supercharge. I like this more melee-centric kineticist since it offers the most radical departure from the playing-style of a vanilla kineticist, but personally, I would have elected for a fixed value damage increase for the charge - flat-out doubling tends to be brutal in actual gameplay, when buffs, other archetypes, etc. come into play.


So far, so basic, right? These archetypes would not be, at least to me, the main meat of this book, though - that honor would be reserved for the new elements that can be seen as a liberation strike that frees the kineticist from all too restrictive elemental theme. Yeah, I know...avatar-fan--the-class, but personally, I wanted to play other guys...so what do we get? Well, the first element would be light, practiced by photokineticists, who gain Disguise and Knowledge (nature) as class skills and basic photokinesis as basic manipulation. light deals half damage when used in conjunction with the eruption form infusion. Defense-wise, the wild talent sports illusory duplicates that act like regenerating mirror images. The blasts inflict your choice of the three physical damage-types, with composite blasts allowing for the inclusion of cold or lightning damage, combination of physical damage-types etc. Things get a tad bit more interesting in the infusions, where you can basically make attacks that help hit a foe outlined by your light, dispelling magical darkness (hooray for non mathfinder-y abilities!) or faerie fire them -you get the idea.


The second new element provided herein would be sound, which nets Diplomacy and Knowledge (local), basic vibrokinesis and either sonic blast (sonic damage, one damage die step lower to account for scarcity of damage-type - NICE!) or vibration (bludgeoning) blast as simple blasts, with elemental defense, victorious aria, providing bonuses to all saves that increase for accepted burn. I am not 100% sold on auto-deafen when you accept burn for a sound wild talent, but the range of only 5 feet mitigates the no-save power of that effect. Now obviously, sound also gets new composite blasts. Infusion-wise, this is where things get...unique. Attuning infusion lets you treat the target of a successfully damaged target as origin of your own subsequent kinetic blasts and composite blasts, provided they include sound among their elements. This lasts for 1 minute and would be cool...however, you can ALSO reduce the damage dealt to 0 to double the duration to 2 minutes, allowing you to attune your whole group, if need be - why? Well, because there is no maximum number of attuned creatures; the only limit is the time-frame. Granted, the 30 ft. maximum range is an inhibitor, but one that a clever group can use. Still, it's this short range that keeps me from yelling OP here, just sayin'. ;)


Breaking down DR or hardness with sound, penalizing and disorienting foes - the massive infusion-chapter has quite a few tricks we've been waiting for...but you want to know what the third element does, right? Well, that would be time and chronokineticists get Appraise and Knowledge (history) as class skills, basic chronokinesis and an unytped blast that has damage reduced by one step...which imho could have been another step, considering the inability to defend against it...with anything. The elemental defense nets you increasing miss chances that can be strengthened by accepting more burn and wild talents render you temporarily incorporeal when accepting burn for them. Time lets you increase the damage dice of the composite blast alteration amplification by one step or deal nonlethal damage to the target. Level 5 daze infusions, Con-damage, forcing to roll twice and take the worse result...pretty cool. Now, where the pdf overshoots the target a bit is with hindering infusion, which, as a, level 1 burn 1 infusion, allows you to keep foes from executing AoOs for one round....which can be very nasty, if done properly. On the other hand, I can see people enjoying the tactical option this provides...so yeah. Personally, I would have made this one a tad bit more expensive.


However, it's not just the new elements that get material herein - the infusions also extend to the established elements, with e.g. the option to imprison targets à la ice tomb, full damage to incorporeal creatures (again, imho underpriced) or, and that would be pretty awesome, gravity-manipulation for void. You could also afflict foes with overload infusions, which penalize those hit for taking standard or full-round actions...ouch. (And yes, save to negate, thankfully!) I also particularly enjoyed the option to delay the onset of damage you caused by a couple of rounds.


Now where the pdf comes even more into its own, at least for me, would be in the significant array of utility wild talents that range from silence to mending or tree stride, generate auditory illusions, charm foes, delay the onset of negative conditions for yourself and allies (within limits), gain echolocation, create exploding illusions (now this is fun!), catapult allies around, create a doppelganger from light that may act as your point of origin for light-including blasts (and swap places with it via light speed travel)...pretty cool. The level 6 burn 1 immediate action micro-time stop called temporal interruption may be a bit too much, though - even with the caveat of not being capable of affecting other creatures or their objects, an additional standard action at only 1 burn is underpriced. Hard. Similarly, stealing swift actions, thanks to Will-save and SR, is fine with me at high levels (though 1 round per level is too long a duration and burn 0...not seeing it- that ability can literally break whole builds!), but also gaining a second swift action for only 1 burn as an additional trick... is too strong. It's also, paradoxically, less powerful than its greater version, which steals move actions. Move actions will generally break no whole build asunder. They'll cripple movement and damage-output, yep...but that's it. As a nitpick: I assume the stolen move action does not prevent full attacks, but clarification would be nice since there are instances when it does and when it doesn't.


The pdf also contains a huge array of feats, which allow for e.g. action expenditure to set up lower burn costs in the next round, which is nice. There seem to be some minor glitches here and there - Adaptive Utility, for example, reads "You treat the level of all utility wild talents have their effective spell level treated as 1/2 your kineticist level for determining their DC" - I think something went wrong here....as written, I can guesstimate what that one does, but I'm not 100% sure. better range, specialization, less burn for an infusion - the pdf's feat array covers the specialization options I actually expected from the core book...so kudos indeed, particularly for the much required feat to gather energy silently (only perceivable within 10 ft.)!


The pdf concludes with a sample character.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good; on a rules-level, they are similarly precise, juggling the intricate framework of kineticist terminology with ease and panache. Layout adheres, as mentioned before, to a 1-column standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes with exceedingly detailed bookmarks for EVERYTHING. Each blast, each infusion. Kudos!


Jolly's Kineticists of Porphyra I is basically the required expansion for the base-class, the 3pp book that covers all the things the base class ought to have. And it does so in a refined, precise manner! I certainly understand the amount of praise this has received from its fanbase and the accolades, particularly for a construct of this complexity, are justified. This is high-difficulty design and NOTHING close to the design of the last book by N. Jolly I've read - the growth of the author is truly impressive. He and team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) did a rather impressive job here.


After reading, testing and digesting this, I certainly get where all the love is coming from - there are no filler-options in this book. Each piece of crunch has serious use in game. At same time, I do wholeheartedly believe that some of the components are underpriced for what they allow the kineticist to do - no problem for high-powered groups, sure, but for grittier rounds...well. That can be a bit problematic. Not unmanageable, mind you...but yeah. There are some options I'll nerf for my game...but I'll get to that component more in detail in the review of KOP III, where I'll provide a preliminary conclusion to my tests of the KOP-material.


There's another component here I'd ask you to bear in mind: I have a hard time separating this from its follow-up books (reviews, as mentioned, forthcoming!) since I playtested them all at once. And in direct comparison, this one feels more like the "make the kineticist a properly working class beyond a very narrow take on a niche"-book, like the "basics that need to be finished before the mind-boggling stuff begins." This is basically the book that lets you do the whole Avatar-shticks, with some cool additional material thrown in, whereas book II and III go more than one step further. It is hence, I arrive at a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for me as a person.


However, as a reviewer, I have to take my audience into account and know that a lot of you have significantly more love for the elemental-themes than I do...and you get what you asked for. While I'd consider caution regarding some options, my official verdict as a reviewer will hence round up from 4.5 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Lands of Porphyra Campaign Setting (PFRPG)
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 06/28/2016 10:53:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive campaign setting clocks in at 214 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 219 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Porphyra...Purple Duck Games' in-house setting is massive, it's regional (and extremely crunchy) player's guide clocking in regularly at 60+ pages...and unlike most campaign settings, this world was not crowdfunded...it just slowly, steadily, came to be...which is an impressive feat in my book. Anyways, Porphyra's details and unique components are many and have been suffusing Purple Duck Games-supplements for years: Whether it's the unique mini-game arabakmpsi, the lovecraft gaming toolkit or other offerings - never obtrusive, but the hints, the nods were there. More so than the player-option-centric "...of Porphyra"-series, both the great Purple Mountain dungeon-crawl-AP and books on deities and elemental lords, all open content, mind you, have already shown a vast potential.


Then again, such a wide variety of different environments and ideas could be jarring, right? Well...no. You see, there is a reason Porphyra is called the patchwork-planet...and it's more pronounced than in similar settings. Let me elaborate: When TSR generated some of the grand classics we all have come to know and love, from Planescape to Ravenloft, they split their customer-base...which was one among many factors that led inevitably to the end of the company. (And yes, I am aware of the other countless number of issues...but that would go beyond the scope of this review.) The lesson that most RPG-companies took from this was simple: Focus on a core world, but allow for maximum customization within that world. Most famously and successfully, we can see that approach in Golarion: There is Ravenloft-country, science-fantasy country, magic metropolis, pirate-country, Greyhawk-ish borderland/bandit kingdom-ish regions...you get the idea. Golarion, while certainly not perfect, ended up being a truly astonishing, fascinating setting that maintains a level of consistency in spite of this tonal patchwork. Not the best consistency, sure - but that's a system-immanent issue; one can't have the cake and eat it, too. What I'm trying to say here is, that I like Golarion. It's a patchwork, but a nice one. Which brings me back to Porphyra...which is also a patchwork...so what's the unique selling proposition of Porphyra versus Golarion?


The answer to that question is more complex than one would expect it to be. In order to answer it, I'll have to go a bit into the history of Porphyra, so bear with me while I give you the woefully oversimplified cliff notes-version of the setting's history, all right? The history of Porphyra features a dominance of the faith in elemental lords in the past as well as a successful effort to smash the invading forces of the Great Old Ones - from these wars and the faith in the forces of the elements, the Zendiqi erected an empire that dominated the small planet...until a coalition of orcs and elves spoke THE WORD to fight the oppressors. THE WORD beckoned and sundered dimensional barriers, issuing the so-called "Calling" throughout the multiverse, speaking to deities and calling them to Porphyra - for the first time, the gods had come to the world and the elemental lords were no longer uncontested masters of all they oversaw...for the deities did not arrive alone. The gods from worlds far and wide brought with them a plethora of lands, forever changing the nature of Porphyra itself, tacking them on with the eponymous mystical mineral porphyrite...purple glowing borders, seams now were part of the daily reality...and a religious and cultural clash of heretofore unseen proportions shook Porphyra to its very core, as the NewGod War raged and the armies of genies and elementals fought the deists and their outsiders. The war was brutal, bloody and its effects can be seen to this date, more than 800 hundred years later, in the lands of Porphyra.


It is due to the porphyrite borders that arctic environments can exist alongside simmering deserts...and, GM's willingness provided, the borders can limit e.g. bacteria or similar micro-organisms as well, allowing for potentially interesting explanations on why and how a given place managed to stand the test of time with superior, hostile forces nearby. Basically, this is a twist on domain-borders taken to its logical extreme in a high-fantasy context...and it works. Instead of trying to hide the discrepancy between lands and their themes, Porphyra embraces them, highlights them in a big, purple marker and makes them part of the storyline...which is a big, big difference in comparison to Golarion.


Similarly, the time-scale of the settings is different: Porphyra's current equilibrium does not change the fact that it has, per default, not a ton of fallen empires written into it. It's, as far as a campaign setting is concerned, a pretty young world. But isn't it missing out on something? Well...no. The patchwork nature of the world allows GMs to pretty seamlessly integrate e.g. different serpentfolk empires. "Yuan-ti? But I thought Serpentfolk were the Valossians?" - "Well, they are...in that landed territory over there. Here, on this side of the porphyrite border, we fought the yuan-ti..." The very nature of the setting makes plug-and-playing even relatively lore-heavy modules a relatively simple endeavors. And yes, I'm one of the GMs that takes longer for the fluff-conversion of modules than for the conversion of their crunch...I'm that picky in this regard and I know that at least some of you out there are as well...so yeah. Porphyra does this very well. Passing such a border, just fyi, can be accomplished by a 1st-level spell...usually.


The second component that sets Porphyra apart, and more so that the aforementioned patchwork-component, would be the direct consequence of the nature of its form: With all those deities and their lands, we also obviously have introduced races to Porphyra. Beyond the new races featured in the respective regional player's guides, the setting has its own racial hardcover, Fehr's Ethnology, which actually does feature a couple of my favorite PC-races alongside some less interesting ones. Speaking of races: Erkunae? Yup. Included here. And the sciene-fantasy component I mentioned? Well, there is the Advent Imperiax, born from the crash of a powerful space-ship, but I'll go into more details regarding that region in my upcoming review of that area's Player's Guide. The plethora of origin myths and stories thus mean that the setting, from the get-go, assumes an organic, pretty concise baseline to make the vast array of races and cultures work in an oddly sensible way. Know hoe obscure new half dhampir/half construct race XYZ never popped up before in your campaign, but how a new book introduced it? Well, in Porphyra, the sudden appearance of such individuals and new races can be rationalized much easier than in most settings.


From the blistering Siwathi desert to the classic and less weird Middle Kingdoms or the Birdman Mountains, the respective regions of Porphyra are depicted with sample intrigues (adventure/campaign hooks) to make use of them - from the empire of the dead to the swampy Fenian Triarchy, Freeport, the Hinterlands of Kesh and the Frozen North, Porphyra has a place to stick basically any module or supplement, any type of module but those reliant on geopolitical struggles without any hassle. (And frankly, even these are relatively easy to insert...and you could always judge parts of the world to have been ripped to Porphyra...) While the massive map of the world has btw. not been included (but can be found for PWYW here), the book sports an ample array of full-color maps of the respective regions and current events for the regions paint a picture of a world in flux.


There is another thing that makes Porphyra interesting in my book: Know how Dreamscarred pPress' campaign setting and Third Dawn AP is stalling and taking a long time to finish? Well...Porphyra has psionics integrated into its framework from the get-go. You can ignore it, sure...but seriously, Ultimate Psionics is one of the best books you can get in the crunch-departments..so personally, I'd suggest running Porphyra as intended, with full psionics support. Similarly, animal-headed anumi and the other remarkable races by Alluria Publishing are actually part of the Porphyra-canon. With so many races, a summary of races by region (with distinctions of landed and native). Rules-wise, the pdf also provides the Pantheist cleric, who gets more domains (3) and favored weapons, but at the cost of spells per day. The book also sports brief sketches of the deities (though, for more information, you should really check out the gods-book!) alongside their holy symbols. These religions also come with numerous new faith traits - none of which sported any significant issues, though different authors become very much apparent here - some lacked the proper trait bonus type, while others had it, showing a discrepancy in rules-language handling skills.


The time on Porphyra, the days, trade and the basic value of spells cast provide components you can easily scavenge for other games, with alternate currency ideas, unique flora and fauna and detailed information on the languages spoken lending a level of credibility to the setting as a whole, despite of its patchwork premise. Holidays, including rules-relevant effects and weather phenomena, from hurricanes to glass seas, are similarly covered, and moon-based magic, chaos magic, rune magic, covenant magic, word magic - you name it, it's probably here. Beyond an array of domains and subdomains, basic advice on psionics and several organizations complement the vast panorama depicted in this book: From the Brothers of the Blue Star to the Cordionic Knights-Errant or the Illuminates of Chaos, there are quite a few organizations in this book; something all too often neglected in campaign settings.


Beyond 3 PrCs (think tanky deist quasi paladin-knight that only needs to be lawful; juju-gunslingers and self-destructive fanatic, zendiqi), the pdf sports a vast array of traits and campaign traits (with similar minor hiccups as mentioned before). Beyond these, sketches of personalities to interact with, including items of note, notes on what the NPC is famous for and mini-hooks.


As many a campaign setting, this one also features a brief introductory module, for 1st level characters. The module is set in the Middle Kingdoms, perhaps the most traditional region of the world. Similarly, the module as such is pretty traditional in its structure: By exploring the eponymous ruins of Greencastle, the PCs may manage to unearth the truth of how the fortress fell and a rather dire secret I am not going to spoil here. The enemy-choices are my highlights here, giving some seldom-seen foes a chance to shine, though I should mention that, in general, this is a pretty straightforward, solidly challenging dungeon-crawl. Not more, but also not less. The full-color maps are nice, though player-friendly maps would have been appreciated.


The pdf also provides a list of Porphyra-related books, explanations on porphyran nomenclature, elemental and protean lords as well as a massive, detailed index - which is incredibly important for a book of this size and information density.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, bordering on very good. While I noticed a couple of typos and minor hiccups here and there, the book generally proved to be an enjoyable read that was not marred unduly by glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with a lot of full-color artworks and cartography being part of the deal. The very user-friendly standard means you can easily print out this tome, which is a big plus for me. Fans of 3pps may by now know quite a few of these artworks from other publications, since Purple Duck games sells art, but generally, the artwork herein can be considered neat indeed...particularly when considering that this is NOT crowdfunded! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Okay, so these authors made Porphyra a reality: Project lead was Perry Fehr; Contributions from: Ken Austin, Thomas Baumbach, Carl Cramér, Daniel Denehy, Perry Fehr, Mark Gedak, August Hahn, Noble Hays, John Hazen, Sam Hing, Sean Holland, N. Jolly, Chrstopher Kaiser, James H. Lewis, Chris Longhurst, Liz Mackie, Josh McCrowell, Christopher Mennell, Scott Messer, Angel "ARMR" Miranda, Julian Neale, Daniel M Perez, David Pryzbyla, Marc Radle, David N. Ross, Treyson Sanders, Justin Sluder, Todd Stewart, Stefen Styrsky, Mike Welham, Jeremy Whelan, Patricia Willenborg.


Porphyra is a massive setting; a setting that breathes a spirit of eclectic high fantasy, with a metric ton of things to enjoy and do. Porphyra is inspired in that it consciously inorganic - like its namesake. Instead of trying to put a layer of consistency over the hodgepodge nature that campaigns become when one allows a ton of material, it embraces the theme and makes it internally consistent; Porphyra's central achievement lies in the sheer guts of managing to properly depict a world that is rooted in a can-do attitude, in a design philosophy that embraces the diversity of tastes and themes. The restrictions imposed still allow for tonal consistency, while basically inserting a semi-permeable membrane. Porphyra is an exercise in cultural osmosis within our hobby; it is a world that operates in line with many a campaign - diffusion of ideas through a semi-permeable membrane; in this, it mimics how a GM's brain is working, by making the exclusion/inclusion decision a part of its very design.


Don't get me wrong - Porphyra is not perfect; it may not be for everyone. But personally, I am certain I'll gladly return time and again to this patchwork planet...whether to scavenge ideas and cultures, items, crunch from the player's guides or to actually play there. Porphyra is, in short, a fun, evoctiave campaign setting that particularly time-starved GMs tired of BSing a reason why cultural context xyz doesn't work, will come to love for its plug-and-play nature - it is, in short, the USB-port of campaign settings. My final verdict, alas, also has to take the glitches that are here into account and thus will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5...and since I really like the premise and have come to appreciate Porphyra's diversity, this also receives my seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Drow of Porphyra - The Xelusine: Sirens of Sin
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 06/22/2016 12:17:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The third book taking a look at the diverse types of drow stranded on the patch-work world of Porphyra clocks in at a massive 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!


"You know us. You have always known us. We are what you wish you could be in your darkest moments, when you cannot help but give in to the worst of what you are. We have all the grace you lack then, and none of the regret." This is how this pdf begins, and it is a perfect introduction of both the in-character narrative that suffuses this pdf and to the nature of the Xelusine - they sprang forth from asceticism thwarted, from a wish most tainted and they killed their god, from his corpse erecting the primordial pillars of sin, metaphysically reaching out from the void beyond dreams and omens...and they don't even end up in either abyss or hell - an eternity of sin and debauchery await them in Hamarita.


The Xelusine are the poisoned honey on a voluptuous body, the shuddering ecstasy that changes one's life, the end of guilt; an embodiment of an addictive personality; the dark and handsome stranger; the smoking dame that just smelled like trouble that walked into the room; the decadent courtier; they are the relationship that is self-destructive and yet the most fulfilling you can imagine. They also sport a structure of circles and sin-based factions (obviously 7, one for each mortal sin), each with its own specialties - what the truth about them is, how they work - the in-character prose is delightfully crafted as it slowly reveals the truths of the race...or does it?


The pdf provides a full-blown, wonderfully detailed decadent code of conduct for the Xelusine, the dance, and the triumph of their decadence is indeed lavish, intoxicating even, in its depiction - with a Karza's call to war against them as a well-written counterpoint. Rules-wise, the Xelusine get the Silver-tongued racial trait, guidance, beguiling gift and unnatural lust as SP and also a vulnerability to diseases. It should come as no surprise that this subrace of drow features a significant array of alternate racial traits that tie in with fey-like tricks and sin-themed tricks.


The pdf provides favored class options for bards, clerics, druids, hetaera, monks, rangers, rogues and sorcerors, with clerics following the 7 sins, with associated domains and subdomains. FYI: This pdf comes fully hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com, with the good type of hyperlinks - nice! A vile rite of sacrifice and actually evocative, unique traits are provided - with cult leadership score modifications, etc. The pdf also sports relatively concise and brief rules for satisfaction and temptation. Wait, I should probably mention the rather cool Cult Leadership feat featured herein - why? Because it actually also has cool downtime exploits for the cult cell and even sports mass combat rules info! KUDOS! At 5th level, there is a feat called Masochism, which ties in well with the torture/interrogation rules and helps against Intimidation - and, as a nice bonus, it is NOT evil. Still, not the most compelling feat I know - but nice to see nonetheless. (Seriously, I really loathe the stigmatization of BDSM and coding of it as evil...)


The pdf, btw., has a template...created drow. Yes, the Xelusine can make non-drow drow.


Want to know, though, what made this pdf even more worth it for me? The concise rules to create custom aphrodisiacs. Think of that as a more complex variant of the Karza's poison creation, but for addiction-inducing things and practices. And yes, I really wanted this and it's the only PFRPG-book I know of that has proper rules for the like. The pdf also provides an armor-type that helps the seducer and, like previous installments of the series, we do get sample cities and adventure hooks for these.


Beyond all of these, the pdf offers a ton of domains/subdomains for the Xelusine - from the Apathy domain to its Conceit brethren, they are cool, though there are minor formatting glitches here - like a bolded ability name that should be italicized...but that's, ultimately, cosmetic. The pdf closes with two new spells - one that creates an extra-dimensional den of sin and the second one, which fires a sin blast - a victim struck sees his or her actions in the next round restricted according to the sin. (This one uses a d7-die to determine the sin- which is a bit odd. I happen to have one, but if you don't, use a d8 with 8= reroll.)


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches in either formal or rules-language criteria - kudos! Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports gorgeous full-color artwork, one of which (in case you're prude) shows a tastefully drawn nipple. (Which probably is one reason this does not have the PFRPG-compatible logo.)


Okay, the Nalbrezu were already awesome; the Xelusine? Oh boy. Pure, glorious decadence; the poisoned nectar, the scions of delicious sin; tainted and evil, yes, but oh so rewarding. Patricia Willenborg has really hit her stride here; the aphrodisiac-rules are tasteful and concise; the depiction of the race superb and well-written. The supplemental material and balancing of the drow-subtype is tight and the writing is evocative, fun and inspiring. This book, much like its predecessor, is well-written, concisely presented and takes a novel, mature and unique take on the drow - one that does not shy away from the subtext that has been part of dark elf lore ever since their inceptions in various fantasy worlds.


I love this pdf; it was a great read and has provided more ideas for drow and encounters with them and how they operate than most other books I've read on the race. The Cult Leadership rules are tight and may be worth it even if you're not interested in the Xelusine as such - this is fun, unique, well-written and daring. Two thumbs up for this one. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



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Lovecraft Fantasy Gaming Toolkit
par Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Ajoutée: 06/03/2016 07:48:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This pdf clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC,2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with a massive 65 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Okay, so lovecraftian horror =/= lovecraftian fantasy. We need to get that out of the way right from the bat. When I'm playing CoC and ToC, I lean towards a more purist bent and tend to prefer investigation-heavy, deadly scenarios, where, more often than not, everyone dies or becomes insane, even if they win. This is not for everyone, though; most of my players prefer a less bleak perspective.


The pulpy side of those aforementioned systems never was really something I fancied. At the same time, I do enjoy a hefty dose of weird fantasy and lovecraftian themes in my fantasy, which is a completely different beast - ultimately, the constant presence of magic and increased PC-capabilities result in you telling different stories that blend the tropes of Lovecratiana with heroic fantasy for a dark edge.


The problem is that fantasy roleplaying games like PFRPG, as a default, aren't really intended and geared up to represent the aforementioned tropes in a concise and consistent manner, an issue this pdf seeks to remedy. Hence, to cut a long ramble short, this book covers basically a campaign template that allows you to play lovecraftian fantasy while still sticking to PFRPG's design-paradigms. As such, this book covers A LOT of ground and in the interest of readability, I will not go into the nitty and gritty details of all the components herein, instead trying to highlight what this book, as a whole, has to offer.


We begin with a smattering of lovecraftian-lore inspired settlements, which, while originally taken from Porphyra's Dunmark-region, pretty much can be inserted into any game - from Frog's Crossing to Eelsmarch and Port Akham, the themes are here, resound and the solid settlement statblocks, supported by a smattering of settlement rules, make for a nice introduction to the subject matter.


Now the next course would pertain the core races and their respective roles within the panorama of races in a lovecraftian fantasy setting. Each of the races sports default niches (read: ethnicities and roles) for races to fill, with e.g. being Asian conferring a +1 bonus to Spellcraft. Slightly annoying - the bonuses granted are not properly codified by type - I assume them to be racial bonuses, but ultimately remain unsure. Due to the relatively small nature of them, though, it is hard to construct a scenario in which this would lead to any significant issues. Beyond some adventure hooks, the pdf also provides a concise list of themes to remember - and this includes the relative rarity of class'd characters. Also important: Maintaining a sense of normalcy. Most of the pitfalls of the genre stem from people becoming blasé about threats - without establishing a sense of normalcy, all threats lose and impact. These considerations, mind you, should not only be remembered by GMs using this book - they also can prove to be quite helpful in dark fantasy, weird fantasy and similar genres.


Okay, this section out of the way, we begin to dive into class options - and there is a metric ton of those inside this book. The chapter on archetypes is vast and over 20 pages long! The archetypes themselves are thematically fitting, if a bit conservative - but they do one interesting thing: You see, there is a lovecraftian spell-list which is assumed to be the default for all classes unless otherwise noted, putting a severe complexity (and power) nerf on spellcasting that fits the genre well - though e.g. the surgeon alchemist retains the default formulae-list. Antipaladins sworn to Dagon (with amphibian apotheosis), mental patient barbarians, journalist bards, clergymen clerics, hermit druids, investigator inquisitors that can draw the elder sign, soldiers and lawmen, cultists of Leng monks (think qinggong variant), oracles with the apocalypse mystery (still as problematic and OP as when I first encountered it...but also still as cool), sorcerors with bloodlines from the old ones or elder gods, cryptozoologist summoners, cultist witches and antiquarian wizards - there are even more than I mentioned in this chapter and each character type receives a sample NPC, adding to the usefulness of this chapter. While overall, I wasn't too blown away by it, the majority of the content herein remains valid, though some minor balance hiccups do exist.


Beyond this significant array of archetypes, the pdf also sports a few bardic masterpieces, including, how could it be any other way, the famous King in Yellow and the Music of Erich Zann (not Eric, as this book calls it, at least according to my collected works). Similarly, there are a couple or arcane discoveries (available in lieu of bonus feats) for casters. The new feats generally are pretty cool - and may save your life in a game based on Lovecraftiana - 1/day running from a foe sans incurring ANY AoOs (neither from the target, nor from others) while you run is very useful and increases your survival-rate significantly. Gaining the Innsmouth Look is also an option and indeed, several cool traits can be found here - including heirloom documents.


Speaking of documents: The maleficent tomes of the Lovecraftian mythos are an integral component of the tropes of this genre - but apart from Legendary Games' Gothic Grimoires, there simply aren't that many of them out there. Enter this one. Each book herein has an EDF - an Eldritch Document Factor and a somewhat clumsily named Power Call (abbreviated PC - because that will not get confusing at all...). Level-related powers are cast at a level equal to the EDF. For each month of possession of such a document, you have to roll on the CA-table, with CA standing for cosmic attention. Yes, this is usually bad news. Similarly PC of 5 and above equals a CA-check. To check for CA, one adds EDF, character level of owner and the accumulated Power Call Factor and roll a d% - here, the pdf fails to specify that the above is added to the d%, but the intention is at least relatively clear from the context. Oh, and destroying or selling such a book? BAD idea. Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten (correctly written for once 75% of publications get this one wrong!!) to Zanthu Tablets - quite an array.


Beyond these vile tomes, reskins of some classic magic items as well as new ones can be found herein: Mnar Stones, Alhazred's Lamp, Voorish Talismans - nice. Oh, and yeah - apart from the weaker ones, these have no construction-notes...thankfully. Nothing ruins horror more than being able to assembly-line-craft anti-horror items.


Now I already mentioned the lovecraftian spell-list before - but I did not note that spells cast require a Will-save - on a failure, the caster loses 1 point of Wisdom. No damage. No drain. LOSS. You better not throw magic around all the time - there is always a 5%-chance of failing this throw of the bones, no matter how much you power-game. While I use a more complex system in my horror-games, this is still a pretty easy and elegant representation of the trope. Some sample "forbidden" magics are also provided.


Beyond all those PC-centric options, monstrous adversaries obviously also need their due - with a simple fear/pseudo-SAN/panic-mechanic (fear effects dealing Wis-damage equal to creature CR) and considerations by creature type - e.g. did you know that 10% of cats have human-like Intelligence? Or that whippoorwills can touch ghosts and spirits? Similarly, a lot of the outsiders and creatures are analyzed in details for their respective usefulness in lovecraftian fantasy. The pdf also provides templates - the Batrachian template, one for making cephalopoids or pallid creatures as well as stats for Tcho-Tcho (CR 3), Teuthonians (CR 12) and general basic statblocks for mythos avatars or great old ones, to which micro-templates can be applied on the fly to represent a variety of different creatures.


The pdf also features a nice sample mini-adventure that takes place in a twisted circus, which comes with a nice, fully-depicted map in b/w. The adventure as such it pretty sketchy and I think a GM is better off considering this a sample environment/location-sketch. While there is quite a bit going on and there are tables for rumors and crowd reactions, as a module, this one does fall a bit short in that it does not really present a concise structure of events due to the space constraints - it's basically a nice, detailed environment...but not an adventure. Why it's billed as an adventure in the first place, I don't know.


The pdf closes with a nice list of recommended reading.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor hiccups and minor issues with rules-language here and there, though, overall, this book is pretty solid in that regard and the issues generally do not break the content per se. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' two-column standard, is pretty printer-friendly and sports several gorgeous pieces of full-color artwork. The pdf, bafflingly, is not bookmarked, which means that you should probably get the print-version. For a toolkit of this size, the lack of bookmarks is a comfort detriment. EDIT: I have been notified by the master of the Purple Duck that bookmarks will be added to this pdf, which nets it +0.5 stars.


Perry Fehr, David Pryzbyla and Stefen Styrsky have crafted a book I ended up enjoying more than I expected. You see, I already have several rock-solid sanity-systems, horror-systems and the like. This book's take on those concepts is minimalistic, generally pretty elegant and functional, and while I prefer more complexity, there is beauty in the simplicity here. The important observations regarding themes, conversion, etc. are more than useful and, as a grab-bag of ideas and considerations, this does make for an interesting addition to a GM's arsenal - even if you ignore the subsystems, there is quite a bit of rules-scavenging material in this book. While there are some hiccups and the rather glaring lack of bookmarks for the electronic version (probably rectified by the time you read this review), I still consider this a good, if not perfect addition to one's GM-arsenal. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars, +0.5 stars for the added bookmarks...but I still feel I have to round down.


Endzeitgeist out.



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