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It Came from the Stars Campaign Guide
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2013 04:36:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Full disclosure: I was a patron of this kickstarter, but I did not contribute anything to this book. When this review refers to the dead tree version, I mean by that the limited edition full color hard-cover. It should also be mentioned that this kickstarter massively over-delivered, providing MUCH more content than was promised.



The pdf of this massive book is 135 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 131 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick this pdf off with player-races that set an appropriately weird theme for the whole book, first of which would be Amoebians. Yes. Humanoid one-cell protoplasm amoebians. As a player race. Awesome! Mechanically, they get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Dex and Wis, slow speed, low-light vision, have a reach of 10 feet due to their elastic membranes, can squeeze through very small spaces, +2 to grapple-CMB and escape artist checks and DR 1/-. They do pay these powerful basic abilities with a vulnerability versus slashing damage, though, which deals an additional +50% damage - OUCH! Overall these should make for weird, yet balanced options - kudos!



The second new race would be the enlightened - essentially the book's take on the Grey. They get +2 to Dex and Int, -2 to Con and Cha, normal speed, low-light vision, +2 to a knowledge-skill of their choice, are mute (and thus cast spells as if modified by the silent spell feat sans level increase), telepathy of 5ft. per level and may 1/day enter a state of hyper-evolution, turning into incorporeal pure thought for int-mod rounds. While in this state, they get +2 to Int and may 1/round cast levitate and mage hand at CL equal to class level, adding fly and telekinesis to this arsenal at 10th level.



The Star-touched are the descendants of one of the conquests of the aggressive interstellar magnetar-race (more on that one later) and have since developed a highly militaristic society under the auspice of their creators/masters. They get +2 to Cha, -2 to Int and Wis, darkvision 60 ft. +2 to Craft (armor) or Profession (soldier), a magnetic deflection-shield of +2 to AC versus metal weaponry, resistance 5 against either fire, cold or electricity and may 1/day unleash a 30 ft-ranged-touch plasma bolt dealing 1d6+1 for every 2 character levels damage which consists half of fire and half of electricity. Generally, plasma always deals half electricity and half fire damage, should you be not familiar with this convention - hence, while the book always specifies this, I won't - when this review from here on refers to "plasma", you'll know what I mean.



The final "regular" (as if this term could be applied to any race herein) new race would be the Tachoid: These beings are alien self-replicating robots that have travelled back through time to escape the heat-death of the universe, hence experiencing time in a nonlinear fashion, making for truly interesting challenges for dedicated roleplayers out there. Tachoids get +2 to Int and Wis, - 2 Cha and Str, darkvision 60 ft., can't be flanked, get +2 to Knowledge (history), +2 to initiative and Tachoids of Wis 11 or higher, they also may use augury 1/day as a spell-like ability. They also get resistance 5 and whenever you take cold damage, you get +2 to Int and Dex for 1d3 rounds, but take +50% damage from electricity attacks. Again - balanced race with interesting mechanics to back them up - but speaking of interesting mechanics. Next up would be the most complex options.



Coalescent characters get no modifications to any of their attributes in humanoid form - and then there's the second form: The swarm. Yes, this race allows you to play a sentient, hive-mind-swarm of diminutive creatures. In swarm-form, str is decreased by -12 to a minimum of 3. Coalescent characters have slow speed, are aberrations and, since swarms are rather unique and powerful, also get a 10-level racial paragon class to properly develop their abilities. At 1st level, this class is mandatory, offering basic swarm abilities like distraction (with the dazzled condition) and learn to switch into your humanoid form, netting you 30 ft. speed and at least the option to pass off as something akin to a humanoid. Coalescing requires a check of d20+character level+ con-mod versus DC 10, with each consecutive minute requiring a DC 10+1 per number of previous checks coalesce-check to maintain the illusion of (relative) normalcy - while this may seem beneficial at first or like a minor thing, it actually makes for a very powerful limiting factor to the coalescent character's power. The racial paragon-class get 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, no proficiency in armor and shields (which you may only use in humanoid form) and only proficiency with simple weapons. They get 1d6 swarm damage at 1st level and increase said damage by +1d6 on every odd level. Conversely, on every even level, starting with the second, they get +2 to Dex. Also on every odd level, the distraction ability increases in power, increasing the negative condition imparted of up to "stunned" at 9th level. Now unlike regular diminutive swarms, coalescent characters are not immune to weapon damage, instead gaining DR equal to level, up to DR 10/- instead when in swarm form. Now over the levels, the coalescent swarm may learn new modes of movement, learn to exclude allies from your swarm damage or similar defensive tricks and increase your swarm damage via energy damage, make your attacks count as magical and even heal via your attacks. And yes, learning to cast while in swarm-form is also one of the options the coalescent may learn. Highly complex and yet balanced, this race is perhaps my favorite among the cool new ones, offering for a thoroughly unique playing experience indeed - how can this one be balanced, you ask? Well, as a swarm, the coalescent is never treated as one creature as a target - this excludes them from receiving most forms of magical healing and buff-spells, requiring wholly new tactics - a unique drawback and one that will provide a complex change of pace.



Next up would be the new classes, starting off with the Moon Child. The Moon Child gets d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and full prepared int-based spellcasting of up to 9th level. Unlike wizards, though, spellcasting for moon children is less flexible and not determined by spellbooks, but instead by so-called houses. These net access to a list of spells that become available to the moon child upon choosing it. At 4th level and every 4 levels after that, moon children get an additional house. Each house also allows moon children to learn sorc/wiz-spells of certain descriptors. 5 sample houses are provided, with the final two one being in the extra-pdf - something to be aware of. Each house also nets access to a so-called sign, which offers a passive bonus that scales up over the levels. Each house also nets access to 4 different so-called aspects - an aspect is chosen at 2nd level and at every even level after that from among the houses available to the moon child. At 10th level, these lists are expanded by 4 advanced aspects per house and finally, at 20th level, each house offers one exalted aspect as a kind of capstone to choose from. Bestowing false bravado (the target thinks it receives only half damage) to adding cold damage to your spells or creating singularity shield (which may increase encumbrance of targets - cool mechanic!), the respective aspects are rather cool - and yes, there is the house of the Starry Eye, which allows you to impart random insanities on foes or strike foes with a mutating curse that changes each day... The moon child also gets a so-called hungry shadow as a familiar and an additional such shadow at 9th and 17th level - essentially, your shadows are weaker familiars, but you get more of them. All in all, a more than solid base-class with some delightfully lovecraftian/weird options. It should also be noted that a sidebox in one of the adventures mentions that aspects can be influenced via feats as if they were hexes.



The second new class provided herein would be the Starseed, who gets d10, 6+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and small and medium armor and 4 levels of prepared spellcasting via Int at 4th level. Now the central mechanics would be Psychic Tendril - this is treated as a melee weapon with a range of 60 ft (!!!) that deals 1d6+cha-mod, crit-range 20/x2. Psychic Tendrils may be used versus adjacent foes and are treated as ranged weapons when determining cover and it requires somatic components to be wielded and is treated as a light weapon. When using these tendrils, starseeds use cha instead of str to determine atk and damage and may even undertake str-checks via cha instead. Manifesting one or two of the tendrils takes a standard action - if two are manifested, two-weapon fighting rules apply and tendrils can be wielded as either primary or secondary weapons in addition to regular ones. They also utilize cha to calculate CMB when attacking, but (and that is important!) NOT CMD. Furthermore, the tendrils do have a weakness - sundering. With only 5 hp and a 20% miss chance, but no hardness and a reform duration of 1 minute, one well-versed in sundering can easily take them down. What's a bit of a pity is that the ability does not specify whether tendrils can eb disarmed, though logically I assume they can't be. Now where things get even more interesting regarding this very unique class feature would be at 2nd level - starting then, they qualify for both being treated as ranged and melee weapons for the purpose of feats, but not as a specific weapon - which would preclude you from taking e.g. Weapon Focus, Rapid Reload or any form of unarmed attack with them. Now it is here I expected the rules-language to stumble and it didn't - you either can make them benefit from feats based on melee weapons OR from feats based on ranged weapons, but not both - interesting indeed, since it allows for very distinct, different fighting styles. Deadly Dance also offers bonus feats throughout the levels, but only as long as you wear light or medium armor or none.



Starseeds also get a Void Pool (and no, it's not the 3.X L5R Void Pool) at 3rd level equal to 1/2 class level + cha-mod. These points can be used to make your tendrils invisible for a round, enhance will-saves, negate temporarily being flanked and also provide passive benefits as long as you at least have one left. (There also is an instance of two blank spaces missing between words in the text, but the glitch shouldn't deter from understanding the rules.) Void Pools stack, if multiple pools are available (e.g. via the extra pdf's Untouchable), though having no points left should be avoided (haha) - the repercussion would be a negative level that can only be removed via rest. Now where my OP-radar first went off with a loud bang would be at 4th level - starting this level, tendrils can be used to execute combat maneuvers. Ranged combat maneuvers. Now usually I'd be breaking off on a tangent how broken they are - but here, that doesn't really apply. Why? Because the balancing factor of maneuvers would be AoOs - and since most maneuvers require melee attacks, tendrils are treated as melee weapons for maneuvers - I.e. they still provoke AoOs and the tendrils are fragile - making for an interesting balancing factor in addition to the limited 60 ft. range. At 5th level

At 7th level and every two levels after that, starseeds may choose from 12 different talents (called Void Insights here), which allow you to either use void points to negate fire or cold damage or increase e.g. tendril damage to 1d12 damage. Also interesting mechanics-wise - there is a talent that allows you to rerolls of mind-affecting effects when your void pool is empty. Another talent allows you to utilize disable device and sleight of hand via your tendrils - sans cost. There is quite some variability here and the respective talents are rather cool - though pressure wave is a bit overpowered - for 1 void point, it can prevent all foes within tendril range. from closing any distance toward you - no save, no CMD-check, no scaling, flat-out, no save. That particular insight requires a hard hitting with the nerfbat. Worse, for 3 points, you can execute a combat maneuver versus all foes within range - and that makes for an even more broken and jarring ability in an otherwise more than solid execution of a complex, cool and highly imaginative class.



We also get new archetypes, first of which would be the Manyskins Dancer for the Druid (or any other wildshaping class): These druids gain 5 times the allotment of wild shapes, but the wildshape lasts only 10 min/level. As a further balancing feature of the archetype, failure to spend time in your base form may result in the temporary loss of proficiencies, languages and penalized skills - a cool archetype that can be easily used to supplement other archetypes for a more fluid shapechanging experience with a cool balancing factor. The second archetype would be the Symbiote-Synthesist for the summoner. The name is already a hint - this archetype endeavors to refine and modify the Synthesist-summoner - which introduces some balancing factors to the otherwise OP archetype that introduces a separate alignment (of the player's choosing) to the eidolon and makes the fused amalgam of both count as both outsider and aberration - a subtle, not crippling weakness and increased roleplaying potential make this take on the archetype superior, if not 100% fixed, then vastly improved version of the archetype.



Now almost all crunch-books add new feats to the fray - It came from the Stars also has new feats, but goes a very interesting way by introducing [Symbiote]-feats. Symbiote feats are broken down in 3 categories, minor, medium and major symbiote feats. An unlimited amount of minor symbiote feats can be taken without any adverse effects and they are required to gain access to the more powerful medium and major symbiote feats. Taking medium symbiote-feats might result in temporary blackouts and major symbiote feats offer the most significant benefits, but also the most pronounced effects regarding the symbiote's power. Now, I've mentioned blackouts: Each Symbiote-feat comes with a symbiote point score. Once per month, a character need to make a will-save versus 10+ number of symbiote points acquired to prevent a blackout that lasts for 1d8 hours - somewhat akin to experiencing lycanthropy. Those that take major symbiote feats instead need to make such a save once per week. Due to the VERY limited amount of time lost and the storytelling potential, these symbiotes work not only mechanically well, but also fluff-wise. Whether for NPCs or players who enjoy a slew of the bizarre - poisonous sprays, tentacles, clusters of eyeballs on the major side and subtle bonuses (or e.g. green photosynthetic skin!) on the minor side - symbiotes work for everyone and )I hope we'll get more symbiote-feats in future installments/pdfs. We also get 6 new spells, some of which use gravity and temporary increases of encumbrance to their benefits. We also get a void suit as a "vehicle", which can be used to navigate the airless, soundless void and upgraded with gravity boots and similar enhancements - and if you need some ideas on what to do with suits like this, take a look at the Dead Space-series...



We also are introduced to 9 so-called void-tech items - thankfully in line with magic item creation allow you to bend space to threat spaces, improve your psychic tendrils or utilize gloves for gravitation manipulation, negate some falling distance or reposition foes with gravitational whips, store void points or unleash plasma bursts.



Thus end the Player's section of the book - hence, with the gamemaster-section following now, the SPOILERS reign. potential players should definitely skip to the conclusion.



All right, still here?

We kick off this chapter with the one resource that, at least in my opinion, trumps any other component in roleplaying games and fiction-writing per se: Ideas. To be more precise: Prospective DMs are introduced to a veritable treasure-trove of ideas for planets that could have come from science-fiction literature (with silicate-based lifeforms, for example!) up to those simply WEIRD: What about a planet with sentient clouds following you around, for example? Narrow habitable zones due to multiple suns/slow rotation (Hello, Twinsun! Anyone played that one?) go hand in hand with morgueworlds and from aficionados of hard scifi to those just embracing the concept-wise weird, we get more ideas in a scarce few pages than one usually encounters in whole campaign settings. Yes, that enriching. For me, this small section proved to be more inspiring than just about every other book I've read this year so far. What about e.g. monochromatic planets that feature a caste or predators that prey on colors? There are WHOLE CAMPAIGNS worth of ideas contained within these pages - even before we are introduced to hazards like crystal storms, semi-sentient and deadly solar flare birds and yes...time warps. Let's do the time warp again -and go!



Now as some of you may know, the disaster-book "When the Sky Falls" is probably my favorite 3.X-book - and thankfully, we get full-blown disasters here as well, all of which could spark whole campaigns or books: From varied Auroras to Lunar Changes, Space Debris, Radiation (yes, including gamma radiation sickness) to solar changes and solar flares (which may greatly influence how magic works via a large table), the disasters here are GLORIOUS. My only gripe is that they all demand to be used, nay, expanded into massive books of their own- This section, once again, had me glued to each and every page.



Of course, we also get a bestiary of new creatures, each of which comes with a glorious full color artwork - from the organized, warlike stellar fey, the Astreid to Space Remoras and 6 variants of elder ooze (which can absorb creatures and grow, becoming much more deadly - best take on the space-blob I've seen so far since it comes with a significant amount of absorbed special abilities depending on its prey...) to the Magnetars, which probably are one of the true signature enemies of this book: Magnetars are militaristic, intelligent elementals that get their own subcategory and armor training as well as the option to add plasma damage to their attacks and manipulate gravity. Magnetars are extremely dense fragments of stars that clad themselves in armored shells of various forms, allowing for maximum customizability in their aesthetic depiction. The Magnetars offered range from CR 1 to 9 and come with two statblocks each, one for the armored and one for the unarmored version - and all are awesome and on par with classic, iconic monsters like beholders or illithids. Yes, I consider them that cool. But even the other monsters rock - take the memory-consuming mnemovores, clad in illusions, which make for deadly kidnappers that keep their prey alive while draining their very personalities away. Or the mockings - intelligent interstellar mushrooms that can create duplicates of the creature sin contact with their spores, generating deadly mockeries of what they consumed, all obsessed with spreading their brand of life - until they encompass all. And then there are the Star Beasts - interstellar dragons (like the one you can see on the cover) bred on dead stars and accompanying supernovas and the like, each of them has unique properties and personalities, though all are frightening indeed - from the CR 12 Betelgeuse to the CR 20 Wormwood, all have different unique qualities and ideas for 7 others are given. I love their concept, though personally, I'll upgrade them - as written, their crunch doesn't live up in deadliness to their awe-inspiring background. Still - one glorious bestiary!



And then we're off to new adventures, first of which would be Colin McComb's "Hearts and Minds". Yes. the Colin McComb. And you'll see FAST upon reading this adventure why he is gushed about. Now the basic premise has been seen in CoC, for example: A particularly fertile area (lavishly mapped with and without keys in gorgeous full color in Paizo-level quality) has recently seen archeological activity and cattle disappearances. And that is about all the PCs need to know to kick off - they are depicted in STAGGERING detail, not regarding statblocks, but regarding personalities, developments and characters. As a true investigative sandbox, structure-wise, the whole area goes through escalating stages of weirdness that can be implemented by the DM as s/he sees fit: The archeologists have become thrall to a world-devouring crystalline entity seeking to expand its consciousness into the world by drinking the lifeblood of sentient beings via an immobile crystalline array. With each sacrifice, the strange influence and mind-control the entity exerts grows through the vale, with more and more falling under the being's control. The local sect of weirdoes make for a thankful red herring and in the end, player characters may even succeed in this module without killing a single being - as they should. Slaying enslaved innocents is not a heroic thing to do. This module is, in one word Extraordinary. Detailed, legendary, awesome and not only fun in PFRPG, but also awesome in just about every other rule-set, this intelligent investigation is simply glorious both to read and run - and sets the bar extremely high, proving that intelligent horror works just as well in Pathfinder as in other rules-systems.



Well, let's just say that master of the macabre Richard Pett takes up the gauntlet and delivers with his very own blend of horror: Journeying to an island, the PCs are confronted with a mocking enclave seeking to utilize the PCs to spread beyond the confines of their island and exterminate an insane mutant of their kind. The mocking have completely subjugated and replaced - with the exception of a loner hermit and a faithful dog. Defeating the dread mutant only kicks off the inevitable, l0ooming and subtle build-up towards a wickerman (the classic one)-like struggle for survival on an island that is strange and disquieting in more than a couple of ways - disturbing, creepy and thoroughly estranging, this module is more action-packed than the first, but also oh so glorious - even among Richard Pett's oeuvre, this one stands out as one of his best. Yes. That good.



John Pingo's offering, the third herein, thus has some insane standards to follow - can it live up to them? Well, let's just say that it's a different breed - contacted by one Zephyr Star-caller, an oracle, the PCs are introduced to an order of secretive beings, the Empyrean Bulwark. The founder of these beings has stumbled across a crashed prison-ship that held terrible entities and created the order as a safe-guard versus the otherwise unopposed threats from beyond the stars, trying to safe-guard the wounded algae-like intelligence that suffuses the ship. As soon as the PCs settle in the monastery, things start getting ugly - fast. Alerts are sounded and the PCs will have to contend with sabotaged teleporting platforms and alien prisoners (both of the malign and deadly and of the desperate, but talkative), hopefully not botching: Not stopping escaped fugitives from releasing magnetar might e.g. result in the initiation of the ship's self-destruct sequence. Navigating Zero-G-areas, featuring void suits and finally culminating in the PCs trying to keep a dread creature from the Dark tapestry contained, this module is essentially a weird, fast-paced dungeon-crawl that is a free-for all and introduces A LOT of content from this book, all for the DM to cherry-pick for staying in the setting and including content from the extra-pdf. Different and more conventional than the first two modules, but full of style nevertheless.



Even on the SRD-page, we get some adventure hooks and aforementioned beautiful maps for all 3 modules are included in both a version with letters and a key-less one to be handed out to players.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. While significant glitches are absent from this book, small ones like a "#" for a CR, missing blank spaces etc. can be found here and there - not many, mind you, but they stick out due to the overall quality of this book. Layout adheres to a two-column portrait standard in the print-version and to a 3-column landscape-standard in the pdf-version, both of which come in GORGEOUS full-color, or at least my hardcover (no 21 of 100, btw.) does. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the hardcover comes with thick, high-quality paper and good binding. Layout adheres to a glorious full-color standard and the book is FULL of original pieces of full color artwork - more so than in almost any comparable book I've seen and while I admit to at first needing to get accustomed to the unique graphic vision here, it grew from "jarring" to "wouldn't want it any other way" over my lecture of the book. More impressively than the distinct and courageous graphic vision, "It came from the Stars" massively over-delivered regarding page-count and actually...well. Delivers.



The player's section manages to astound me with unique races that actually offer intriguing balancing-mechanisms for their distinct and lien abilities that set them apart beyond fluff and mirror their alien powers in their crunch. The two new classes follow this lead: Whereas the Moon Child is relatively conservative, the Starseed is ambitious in the extreme and while it does have its own minor issues and rough edges, it is an iconic concept that in my playtest proved to be rather exciting, yet not overpowered to play - thanks to the distinct Achilles heel integrated into the design. The symbiote-feats are glorious and the archetypes offered provide great roleplaying experiences.



Indeed, that's what this book is all about - wonder, excitement, roleplaying. This is about flirting with the Other, with the Uncanny, the Alien. It came from the Stars" could have taken ideas from other more out there supplements and e.g. expand meteorite impact-rules, as updated by Rite Publishing or take ideas from Louis Porter Jr. Design's NeoExodus-setting (LPJr joined this book by the way...) - instead, the creative team around Zombie Sky/Broken Eye mastermind Scott Gable went one step further - when I was done with the Player's section, my mind was abask with possibilities, to quote Garth Marenghi (kudos if you get the reference), reeling with ideas to integrate this content into my campaign.



And then the DM-section hit - the ideas herein are mind-boggling, versatile and quite simply superb. The bestiary offers various signature abilities and features not a single filler beastie. The hazards and planet-ideas contain literally years of campaign-ideas and the 3 modules...are stellar, one and all, excellent offerings, each in their own distinct way. I feel like I've been launched into outer space. And yes, there are minor glitches here and there -but you know what? I don't care. I have almost NEVER, in my whole career, not only as a reviewer, but as a roleplayer, read a book that blew me away like this one did. Roleplaying is a game of ideas supplemented by math and a codified language to me and this book is so rich in ideas it boggles the mind. This book (get it in hardcover if you can!) may be a small step forward for the designers, but for the cosmos of a reader's ideas, it's a huge step forward. If I could, I'd immediately rate this 6 stars, but since I can't, I'll instead settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval - this will feature on my top ten-list of 2013!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
It Came from the Stars Campaign Guide
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It Came from the Stars Extras
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2013 04:33:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The Extra-pdf for "It Came From the Stars" is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with exactly 30 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick this off with a new base-class, the Untouchable, who gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, no armor or weapon proficiency,3/4 BAB-progression, up to +5 AC, CMB and CMD while unarmored and unencumbered and have all good saves. Being touched by the weirdness, the Untouchable is surrounded by a nimbus that provides torch-like illumination and negates your need to eat, but also makes it impossible to trigger, ingest or gain any benefit from a magical item that you must hold or wear and can't make direct attacks versus foes, including AoOs - no spellcasting with attacks rolls, no unarmed strikes, but you do count as having Improved Unarmed Strikes for feat prerequisites. With the class being prohibited from making any attacks, the class needs another feature - the extraordinary ability Revanche. Revanche uses Dex instead of Str, but otherwise is handled like regular attacks, including rules for iterative attacks etc. If you have revanche attacks remaining, you may 1/round as an immediate action attempt to parry an attack versus you or an adjacent target - if your attack surpasses that of the incoming attack, you manage to deflect it. At 11th level, you may even thus parry spells and spell-like abilities requiring attack rolls. Furthermore, you may attempt to deflect an attack thus parried to the originator or another adjacent source via your revanche attack -this follows the formula of immediate actions without explicitly being one - a concept that might take a bit to wrap your mind around. Alternatively, you may also execute a combat maneuver in lieu of your regular revanche attack. Executing more than one revanche attack per round counts as a full-round action.



In order to make proper use of this ability, the Untouchable learns to execute an additional move action per round, which would make this class grossly unbalanced when multiclassing - thanks to the compulsory nimbus, this pitfall is averted, though. At 2nd level, the Untouchable learn to provoke AoOs on a failed save, also imposing increasing penalties on the target. At 3rd level, instead of regular revanche-attacks, you may CMB your adversaries with meteor swarms as a result of being attacked, resulting in a devastating throw that deals damage that scales up to 10d6 on 19th level and you also learn to execute a 5-foot step in lieu of a revanche attack or swap places with an ally as a move action. At 4th level, the Untouchable also gets a void pool similar to the starseed, though one that is more defensively inclined, offering a 50% mischance [sic!] for one round or temporarily increase AC and skills. Like the starseed, expending the final point results in a negative level. Also at 4th level, class level instead of BAB is used for CMB and CMD. At 6th level, redirecting ranged attacks becomes possible (with scaling ranges throughout the levels). You can also clad yourself in an either cold or fire damage-based aura by expending void points or grant yourself scaling DR. At higher levels, you may turn invisible or suppress sound and at 16th level, you may even extend your evasion to your allies - or make foes more susceptible to failed saves - a kind of anti-evasion, if you will. Have I mentioned the level 18 ability to create a singularity to pull foes towards the Untouchable?



After this extremely uncommon class, we are introduced to 2 new Moon Child houses, the House of the Flaring Sun and the House of the Hidden Moon - Sculpting frozen light and using holograms/illusions or creating a limited clone of yourself (e.g. for spying purposes) and similar stealth-associated abilities - now added to the arsenal of the Moon Child.



We also get new archetypes, with the summoner now being able to become the "Mouth of Mad Ruin" - tapping into the cancerous ruin of a vanquished, desolate reality beyond our perception, these summoners may 3+Cha-mod times per day tap into this broken reality to enhance their eidolon - at a risk that potentially even may kill the summoner, but also offer vastly powerful benefits -a risky gambit for fans of chaos magic, if one that could have used more entries than the 15 on a d20-table provided. Druids may now opt to become Doorways to the Howling Other - and oh boy, I love them - suffused by an elder star's seed and nature, these druids can no longer be healed by regular means other than their own healing and, when utilizing their abilities to heal the wounded, these beings are tainted temporarily by mutations, More importantly, summoned creatures are further enhanced by new abilities from a selection of unnatural adaption effects that reflect the creature's otherworldly alienness. Full of story-telling potential...



We also get a new trait with "Erupting Flesh Mastery" for the Symbiote-Synthesist-summoner: The trait allows the compound creature to be treated as a variety of creatures in addition to counting as outsider and aberration, whereas the second option may force you to summon your eidolon - as a benefit for either of these drawbacks, the summoner may call his eidolon +1/day as a move action.



Next up would be 3 new feats, one that unlocks a slot for untouchables to use either one type of wondrous item or potions. The second feat allows the new Druids that act as doorways to alien vistas to add an additional unnatural adaption-benefit to their summons and one that nets +2 to Craft (void Tech) - since the skill has never been introduced and only acts as a substitute for Crafting-feat-prerequisites, this one is filler at best and not up to the coolness prevalent in the rest of the pdf. 3 new major symbiote feats are included as well, allowing for a detachable symbiote familiar, wings or an extra head with an additional bite attack, should you already have one.



5 new spells allow rangers to strike down foes with added gravity added upon impact and others to conjure forth zones of frigid vacuum or summon alien parasites. Net Throwers, Rock Shooters, the new materials (frozen light and void metal), 4 new magical weapon qualities as well as 4 new void tech items furthermore await your perusal.



Gamemasters also get more tools - from ideas for Battleworlds, domed planets, worlds where flight is common, we get even more glorious ideas to develop adventures around than the basic book offered. Beyond that, we also get 4 different alien flora and fauna hazards - constricting mold, living ice, insects that consume your brain and take over with hiveminds or hallucinogenic pollen releasing plants make for neat hazards to add to your array. The bestiary also offers some interesting new critters with the CR 4 asteroid-eater swarm that survives the void with asteroids to the 5 types of falling star fey (spanning CR 2 to 15), fey bonded to a star and glistening in their star's fire. Finally, we get the CR 19 Deadstar Golem, crafted from the superdense core of a white dwarf - an engine of destruction that will put adamantine golems to shame and is surrounded by a gravity well.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor glitches, though none that kept me from properly appreciating this pdf. Layout adheres to the glorious 3-column landscape standard in full color used in the main book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and, as a first for any "web-enhancement"-style pdf, this one is full of awesome original pieces of full color artwork - among others, original pieces for the new class, some items and one for every new creature - kudos! On the down-side regarding layout would be the tendency to leave 2/3 of a page empty at the end of a chapter.



I'm not a big fan of the fact that the 2 houses of the Moon Child had to be delegated to this pdf, but seeing their quality, I won't complain here. The archetypes are cool, as are the other tidbits herein. Now the Untouchable...is perhaps the strangest class I've reviewed so far -complex, strange and VERY specific, it is definitely not for everyone with its weird restrictions and uncommon mechanics. that being said, I really, really like the execution - but there is one major issue I see with its design -it's terribly linear, more so than even the starseed and I wish it had codified its abilities in a way that allows for more active decisions of the player. That being said, it still is a thoroughly innovative class that dares to offer something rather radical and that is something I can get behind - while not for everyone, it will be exceedingly fun to play for mechanically versed players.



The creatures and ideas herein are cool one and all - and in any other context, I'd probably be gushing about this pdf. When taken back to back to "It came from the Stars", this pdf feels like the B-side: Good, if a bit experimental, it enhances its base product, but doesn't reach the abject level of awesomeness of the base book. That out of the way, it should be noted, though, that this raises the bar regarding expansion-books of bigger/patronage projects, offering great artwork and production values. This pdf should be considered the mandatory expansion of the main book - you want to have this as well and it in the end, offers a lot of bang for your bucks. My final verdict hence will clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval, rounded down to 4 - Note, though: It should be used in conjunction with the main book, as an extension and really, as part of it - If you do get both, just take this as the expansion that further improves your overall experience - may there be more "Weird Cycle"-books soon!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
It Came from the Stars Extras
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Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2012 10:09:13
This pdf is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page editorial, 1 page SRD/blank space apart from a couple of lines, leaving ~ 17 2/3 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The second installment of the "Mysteries"-series was funded via a mini-kickstarter some time ago and introduces us to the Sacred Necromancer, who gets d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+ Int skills per level, good fort-saves (uncommon for a primary caster) and spellcasting access of up to 9th level, with a maximum of 6 slots per level. Spellcasting is interesting in that it works via Charisma and spontaneous, but is limited similar to the spellcasting of the Yamabushi: The class gets access to all spells of the necromancy-school, be they divine or arcane, but must choose each day which spells they "know" this day. Additionally, the Sacred Necromancers get proficiency with light armors and don't incur a spell-failure when casting in light armor. Sacred Necromancers don't need a divine focus to cast divine spells, his spells are considered both arcane and divine and they cast as if using the eschew materials feat and gain up to +9d6 channel energy, with its use for damage or healing being prescribed by the respective calling of the class.

"Calling"? Yes. Essentially a sub-class that is chosen at first level and grants access to a certain variety of abilities specific to the calling - if you're familiar with them, the callings essentially work like the archetypes in Super Genius Games' anachronistic adventurers-line. (Not to be confused with common archetypes). Each calling thus has a connection to the forces of life and death and may chose whispers (essentially talents) based on the callings. Additionally, there are fields to further customize the character.

So what are the callings? The first would be the Chirurgeon, who can channel negative energy and use it only to heal his undead creations. They can choose from 6 whispers, which allow him to create neutral mindless undead (VIA SCIENCE!) and enhance them via construction points when performing a ritual on them. They may also buff allies (or foes) with a risky field experimentation (roll 3d4, 1 on a 1d4 is a penalty, the other 3 being bonuses, each die-roll influencing a physical attribute), treat "cure"-spells as necromancy-spells (i.e. add them to their spell-list), temporarily return creatures to life (who act as if confused, but may be guided via Cha-checks), spread sickness and contagion and gain a monster companion, which you can evolve à la Frankenstein. You also get a whisper that deals electricity damage via touch, but heals your monstrous companion. The Chirurgeon's capstone is granting full-blown sentience to their creature and created undead.

The second calling is the exorcist, who can only channel positive energy and use it for damage. Suited for combat versus outsiders and undead, they get improving protection and opt to halve their channel energy to harm undead and heal allies at higher levels. Furthermore, they may choose from 9 whispers dealing with matters of possession and breaking free of mental control, damaging outsiders via channeling and the effect to temporarily make areas and rooms safe from outsiders and undead and their magical prowess by erecting a sacred barrier via channel energy. The capstone allows you to use imprisonment and up to 20 rounds of freedom of movement per day.
The Journeyman of the Pale Path can channel negative energy and either heal or harm with it and even combine healing undead with damaging the living. They may choose from 7 specific whispers dealing with some rather cool options: The dampening of healing spells, for example, is a really deadly affair, as is adding bleed to channel damage, erect walls of negative energy, cause your minions to explode, cadaverous explosion-style and instill frenzy or tactics into your undead. The capstone makes you a lich. The calling also comes with its reverse version, the Journeyman of the Vibrant Path and a formatting peculiarity: The bracketed text that comments on the reversed powers of the Vibrant Path is of a different font and font-size, leading to a strangely disjointed look and being an obvious formatting glitch that definitely should have been caught.

Next up is the Psychopomp, who channels positive energy exclusively for healing and deals with the spiritual side of the topics, choosing from a total of 7 whispers. It should be noted that Psychopomps gain additional powers over the levels that increases your spellcasting prowess via the powers of the ancients. From gaining access to an oracle mystery, 1/month breath of life yourself as an immediate action and gaining bonuses due to your communion with spirits. At 20th level, you become indestructible by all but a god - reforming in a place of your choice after 1d4+1 days in a location at least 10 miles away from the site of death. Epic!

The Revenant channels negative energy for purposes of dealing damage, can choose from 9 whispers and...well. Are Undead. And gain all the undead immunities apart from the one to mind-influencing effects. Not gonna happen in my game. ever. While PFRPG has made undead less op, they still are stronger than regular characters - by quite a stretch. And the slightly weaker whispers in no way are enough to balance out the insane power-gain the undead subtype grants the character. Broken in my book and desperately needs a balancing factor like the classic revenants single-minded focus on revenge, undead weaknesses etc..
We also get 4 different fields to customize your sacred necromancers. The first being the Animist with 7 more whispers that rock: When some creature with a soul dies, you can delay its ascension and harness the soul to heal allies by reflecting on its joy in life or increase your spellcasting prowess or buff allies. Nice. Eaters of the Dead gain 6 whispers and can craft bone talismans from vanquished foes (possibly scavenging-potential here with SGG's Death Knight and Death Mage) as well as the power to devour essences to gain fast healing . Really disturbing and iconic: Eat the flesh of a foe to take said foe's appearance! Yes! And by eating foes, you can even detect their thoughts! Grisly, creepy, awesome! For the adherents of the old 3.5 Pale Master-class, we also get a self-experimenting field with 4 new whispers that allow you to augment your eyes and gain access to alchemist discoveries via your body-grafting. The final field deals with Thaumaturgy and ROCKS. The ability to damage yourself and deal twice the amount to foes via touch attacks by Blood Oath is incredibly cool (think of the cool, desperate gambits you could do), gain bonuses to social skills, the option to geas foes and the option to dismiss outsiders whose names you know - great way of implementing the good ol' arcane feeling of mysticism into a useful ability.

Now, beyond the class, we also are introduced to Mokuren "Ren" Kamura (whom you may recall from the "Red Jack"-pdf) in all her foxblooded rogue 3/Sacred Necromancer 10-splendor, fully statted with a beautiful artwork. Beyond this neat bonus-character, we also get 3 new feats:
-Extra Fox Tail: Choose a fox magic feat and an additional fox tail to enhance your foxblooded powers.
-Extra Whisper: Self-explanatory.
-Turn Living: Turns living like Turn Undead turns undead.
The pdf closes with the fox-blooded simple template and it should be noted that there is also a spell-list precompiled for the Sacred Necromancer, which is nice to start, but depending on the number of books you use, might need massive additions.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are the weak-points of this pdf: I noticed some obvious glitches in formatting, which, while not detracting from my understanding of the product, detracted from its otherwise very professional look. Layout adheres to ZSP's 3-column landscape format and the full-color artworks herein are awesome and deserve praise. The pdf is backgroundless and printer-friendly and comes with a massive array of bookmarks to help you navigate the file. Super Genius Games, take heed - class-pdfs with bookmarks are just easier to use.

Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to either reading or reviewing this. Why? Because I don't like necromancers to be kindhearted. I want them garish, gritty, dirty and creepy - and "sacred" didn't really point me in that direction. Furthermore, there already is Marc Radle's rather well-designed White Necromancer from KQ (and possibly soon, Open Design's New Paths-line). So yeah, I was looking forward to at best seeing a repetitive design. And instead, we actually get a very clever class: The combination of fields, callings and whispers with scaling bonuses and versatile abilities mixed in allows for supreme customization and makes the design-choices feel exciting, balanced and iconic.

HOWEVER. And, unfortunately, it's a big however, the pdf also suffers from a problem that already plagued the Yamabushi: The total access to all spells of the necromancy-school means that, depending on the amount of spell-publications you use, the class experiences massive power gains. Presume e.g. Rite Publishing's "1001 Spells", Necromancer of the Northwest's "Advanced Arcana"-pdfs, Dreadfox Games' Grimoire Mortalitas and BAM - instant power-up! Wizards have to find and learn the spells, sorcerors have a limited selection. Sacred Necromancers? Nothing. No advice is given for the DM on how to properly handle this versatility and deal with the new options, which is a problem inherent in the design-choice and the one thing that can potentially utterly break the class-balance. Secondly, there is the Revenant. What a cool concept. What an utetrly amateurish execution. Undead PCs are mostly bad ideas balance-wise- (And yes, speaking from experience - I had a character that once was pure and good fall to becoming a fanatic that willingly turned into a vampire to prolong her life and establish a vampiric theocracy based on her twisted vision of her once RG-faith after inciting a holy war...and succeed.). Undead, even in Pathfinder, are MUCH STRONGER THAN LIVING CHARACTERS. They need balancing factors. And the Revenant HAS NONE. Diddly-squat. How can such a blunder happen? Need I recite the list of immunities? And don't come with the "fluff-penalty"-non-argument of ostracism. That can be solved via disguise, magic etc. This NEEDS balancing factors. Desperately.

Now, how to rate this? Until I got to the Revenant, I was looking forward to all-out recommending this pdf. However, the flaws conspire to drag down a pdf that could easily have been 5 star+ seal of approval material. With just a bit more editing to get rid of the obvious glitches. With just a few paragraphs (there's enough blank space on the last page!) on handling expanded spell-selections via other 3pp-publications and future paizo-books. And this needs a solid redesign of the revenant-calling (The drawbacks are what defines the undead that gives this the name!!!!) - as written, the calling is broken as all hell.
Damn, this one is so hard to rate: The good parts are 5 star + seal material, but damn, damn, damn - the minor glitches, the spell-list issue and most of all, the revenant that needs massive redesign are factors I cannot ignore when issuing my final verdict. As much as it pains me and wrenches my heart, I can in no good conscience rate this otherwise stellar pdf as high as I want to - it just feels like it was rushed out in the end and would have needed another week. My final verdict will be a 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 with an encouragement to check this out nevertheless. If the revenant is fixed/you don't take that calling into account, this would score a whole star more. I hope I may update my verdict of the pdf soon to the rating the class deserves.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
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Tattlebox: Wishbreaker, a Tale of the Shaitan
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2012 10:10:25
This installment of Tattlebox is more focused than usual, centering on one idea. The pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 of a page editorial, 1/2 of a page SRD, leaving us with 4 1/6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The Jann are forever caught in an internal war between the conflicting elements that compose them and with the dawn of the material plane, one unyielding Jann named Taranushi sought to become one with the mortal sphere and become whole. Unfortunately for the multiverse, he succeeded, turning utterly and completely mad in the process and ever since spreading his ideology of transformation. The resulting beings are the Shaitan as introduced in this pdf.

But wait, you say - there already are Shaitan in PFRPG! Yes, and you can use these new ones as wishbreakes sans name changes or just take the suggestion of an extensive boxed text to realign the names and elements. But back to the wishbreakers: At CR 15, these insane fey...WAIT! Fey? Yes, So completely have they rejected their former beings that these Jann have turned into fey of the prime material, antagonists not only in spirit, but also in creature type.

Mechanically, these fey are CR 15 adversaries with several interesting signature abilities: Their destabilizing touch (15d6 - ouch!) being one. The other is the fact that they can bring one of their component elements to the forefront, gaining benefits like immunities, additional damage, spell-like abilities etc. They may also change shape, speak limited wishes making them formidable foes worthy of their CR.

Adventure-hooks, folklore and other inspirations and ideas for advancement are also part of this well-written, concise ecology.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - the first line on the third page lacks blank spaces between the words. Layout adheres to ZSP's landscape 3-column presentation and the piece of artwork depicting the Shaitan is twisted, full-color and not something I would have expected to see at this low price-point. The pdf has no bookmarks, which, due to its brevity, can be excused.

Mastermind of ZSP and designer Scott Gable has created a twisted, cool djinn that makes for a inscrutable, dangerous antagonist that should challenge both the preconceptions of your players and their PCs alike - to their very limits! This is a great ecology at a ridiculously low price point, which is also the reason I'll let the glitch slip and still award this neat offering my full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tattlebox: Wishbreaker, a Tale of the Shaitan
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Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/24/2012 14:42:09
Necromancy is one of those areas where a lot of people want to play one, but it’s always something of an awkward fit. Under the basic Pathfinder rules, the basic aspects of necromancy tend towards undead- and evil-focused material enough that you’re either not evil and doing it wrong, or doing it right but are evil as a consequence. It is, quite simply, hard to reconcile those two extremes.

No more! Zombie Sky Press’s Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer threads the difficult strands between offering necromantic powers without (necessarily) being a servant of darkness. Let’s take a closer look and see how it pulls it off.

The book conforms to the minimum material necessary for a quality PDF product: copy-and-paste is enabled, and full nested bookmarks are present. No printer-friendly version is presented, but that’s not really a concern because (save for the front cover) there’s very little artwork here; just three color pieces.

The book opens with its new base class, the sacred necromancer. On its face, this class looks a lot like an oracle – same BAB and Hit Dice, same skill points per level – but the differences quickly become clear. While the sacred necromancer is a spontaneous spellcaster, each day it gets to change what spells are on its Spells Known list, but with a catch – they can only choose necromancy spells, off of any list (with a necessary exception for 0-level spells). Further, their spells are considered both divine and arcane at the same time; the sacred necromancer’s study of death crosses conventional limitations. Being able to channel energy is also a valuable ability, but in this case it’s limited by the sacred necromancer’s calling.

A calling is similar to an oracle’s mystery, in that it’s a theme that grants some basic powers, and then presents a suite of abilities, of which you choose one every so many levels. In this case, a calling decides what sort of channel energy you can use and how you use it (e.g. channel negative energy, only for harming the living), has a “connection” (a signature ability that is automatically gained), and a set of whispers to choose from.

There are six callings presented (counting the Journeyman as two). The chirurgeon is obsessed with the physical aspects of death. Like Doctor Frankenstein, he can construct a golem-like “monster” that’s somewhere between an animal companion and an eidolon. More interesting, at least to me, was his whisper that lets him remove the “evil” descriptor from spells that raise the undead – I know so many players who will want this just for that.

The Exorcist is focused around trapping, dispelling, and otherwise countering the effects of outsiders and undead. There are a lot of abilities here that are defensive in nature, as well as some battlefield-control ones (e.g. seal an outsider in a protected area for a short time). The Journeyman of the Pale Path, by contrast, is simply an expert at manipulating negative energy, to the tune of things like taking an immediate action to reduce healing with a tightly-focused channel energy, or create undead that share teamwork feats. Nicely, there’s a sidebar that talks about reversing this class to be positive-energy focused instead, and each ability has a short section saying how it would work in reverse.

The Psychopomp is concerned with the state of the soul. It struck me as the weakest of the themes here, but it still had several interesting abilities, such as summoning a spirit to be able to be the focus point of channeling energy, or being able to summon ancient spirits of great heroes into your allies to boost their abilities. The final calling, the Revenant, is much more fun – you get to play an undead creature! Limited only in that you’re not flatly immune to mind-affecting effects, this calling has some fairly tightly-focused powers relating to your former life, such as focusing your hatred against certain kinds of creatures (presumably the same sort that killed you) or even against specific individuals.

Beyond these callings, sacred necromancers also gain “fields.” Fields are like mini-callings, adding additional thematic flavor to what your sacred necromancer can do. Most don’t inherently grant any powers, but rather expand what whispers you can take. For example, the self-experimentation field allows access to four whispers based around augmenting your body to gain.

There’s also a brief sidebar which says it lists “all necromancy spells for the Pathfinder role-playing game.” That’s great, particularly since most (though it seems like it should be all) of them are linked to the d20 PF SRD, but I do wish that those spells not from the Core Rulebook were tagged with an indicator to show what book they are from.

Nearing its end, the book presents a sample sacred necromancer named Ren. Ren, who is a shout-out to a previous ZSP book, has a full stat block, but has no flavor or expository text of any kind, which is a shame considering her background. She’s also fox-blooded, which is a new +0 CR simple template, which denotes that you have kitsune ancestry – I liked this, even if it was slightly out of place in the book, because it lets you delve into taking kitsune-specific abilities. Speaking of which, the book has three new feats, one of which allows you to have an extra fox tail. The other two are more necromantic in focus, granting an extra whisper or allowing you to turn the living (a la turn undead).

One thing I haven’t mentioned up until now are the book’s weaknesses. Remember how I noted that the spell list was linked to d20pfsrd.com? So are lots of other parts in the book…but there’s no visual indicator of what words are links and which aren’t. While this does make for a more consistent (and prettier) visual display, it can be surprising when you click to scroll the PDF and find that you’ve clicked on a link to open something on d20pfsrd.

There’s also the occasionally-unclear ability. A high-level exorcist, for example, is protected from bodily contact with outsiders and the undead as a supernatural ability…unless they have spell resistance. So he has to make a caster level check with a supernatural ability against their SR? What bonus does he have for that? Presumably it’s equal to his character level, but it’s unclear. There are a few instances of that kind of uncertainty throughout the book, though only a few (e.g. is Extra Whisper limited to just whispers you can take, or any whisper in any calling or field?).

Overall though, I think the book was not only mechanically sound in what it prevented, but highly evocative as well. This is the sort of book where, as you read it, you can’t help but think about how much fun it would be to play this class. To me, that’s really the best mark of quality an RPG supplement can have. Delving into death was never so much fun as the sacred necromancer makes it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
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Tattlebox: The Dungeon Depths
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/22/2012 03:14:55
The latest installment of ZSP's tattlebox-series is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page of editorial, 2.5 pages of advertisement and 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with 13 2/3 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This pdf kicks off with John Bennett, who introduces us to Gormaduc, an interesting concept: Essentially, the idea behind this dungeon-level-concept is that dungeons can use a garbage-level where all the refuse, litter, etc. goes. Inhabited by otyughs, kobolds and ghouls the concept is introduced to enterprising DMs to develop and introduce to their dungeons as they see fit. The entry also features collapsing piles of rubble as crunchy hazards as well as Ryburn Rot, the disease named after the creator of the dump-level and finally a new creature, the stone aratronus, which is essentially a 6-legged stone golem with an integrated battering ram that may use trash to regenerate damage caused to it. NEAT! If you liked the idea of Dungy in Rappan Athuk, I'd check this out and give the critter its very own realm - at least that's what I'll do. (I'll also make Ryburn's psyche captured in Dungy, making the thing intelligent. Oh yeah!)

James Thomas' Mines of Madragar is another idea for a location/dungeon: Once a dwarven city with mines, the place has been overrun and now dwarves make a living off operating the entry-lift and selling ways out for the adventurers set off to explore the location. Per se a nice idea, though I prefer the proving-ground approach of Rite Publishing's Ruins Perilous as presented in AQ#2 in concept for a controlled environment-dungeon.

Dungeons get stale after a while, let's face it. John Pingo's "Not your Daddy's dungeon"-article seeks to remedy that be providing some ideas: The first has the PCs delve into the belly of a gigantic beast like a dragon as well as ideas on how to change existing critters to suit the locale. The second idea is the tower of terror - wall and ceiling-less, this dungeon impedes any flying and levitating, but is a set of platforms and stairs leading up to a djinn and thus a wish at the end. Other ideas include delving into a mad hermit's dreamscapes and psyche or living dungeon-constructs created by godlike artificers.

Beyond all these nice ideas, want some additional hazards? Thomas LeBlanc has you covered with new hazards ranging from CR 1 to 6, include ceilings that drop stones, intense magnetic fields, swarms of all-consuming gobbler-insects and the deadly Xukolic Weed. Jesse Benner's against the wall-article presents us with 6 new feats: Brutal rush lets you bull rush foes for damage into walls (HELL YEAH!), while compacted eidolon allows summoners to refit the eidolon to help adventuring. Bards can now essentially become daredevil and use bardic performances to find cracks etc. (but not necessarily secret doors) and get a mental image of their surroundings, while spellcasters of all breeds may now reinforce spells, granting them extra damage when cast in tight spaces! Brilliant, since e.g. the behavior of fireballs in close quarters always felt illogical to me. Faster character may now rebound from walls to enhance your charges and avoid attacks via feint to have foes hit the walls, thus potentially sundering their weapons.
Thomas LeBlanc also has some nice tools for MITES for you with vermin-themed weapons like sting-daggers, silk nets, wasp gliders etc.! We also get invisible ink that glows in darkvision, filament glue, stink pellets and quick ropes. Plain awesome and win, as it greatly adds to the unique feel of mites. Highly recommended for e.g. Kingmaker I.

The final article by John Bennett is on dungeon equipment and includes retractable 10-foot poles, magnesium-style torches that may dazzle foes, glasses to grant darkvision, door jammers, portable drills, sounding rocks and spiked boots. Neat!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: the ToC, for example has switched letters in one of the entries. Layout adheres to ZSP's 3-column landscape-standard in full color, though the pdf is relatively printer-friendly. The pdf is fully bookmarked.
This installment of Tattlebox is once again a nice collection of ideas, crunch and content, though this issue suffers a bit from it chosen topic: The lack of maps and detailed information due to the presentation of the ideas and the relative shortness hurts the per se neat ideas to develop dungeons: More crunchy traits like hazards, mini-templates, sample-DCs etc. would have gone a long way there. On the other hand, the ideas are solid and e.g. the items for mites are plain genius: I hope we'll get more unique items for humanoids in future installments. This issue feels good, though not as well-crafted as the two predecessors and thus, in the end, I'll settle for a good, solid verdict of 4 stars for this installment of Tattlebox.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tattlebox: The Dungeon Depths
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Here Be Monsters: Wastehounds
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2012 11:23:43
This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 of a page editorial, 1/2 of a page SRD and 1 page full color world map of an unspecified setting, leaving us with 14 1/6 pages of content, so let's check out Zombie Sky Press' latest pdf on monsters!

Reminiscent of the ecology-articles, we are first introduced to the origin myths of Wastehounds - th myth has it, that when a decadent empire ceased to pay obeisance to a dark jungle god, one man escaped the divine slaughter: Qilal, the hunter and master of hounds of the city's corrupt ruler betrayed all he knew and pledged allegiance to the torrent of destructive divine will, taking his hounds with him into dark and everlasting servitude. Thus born were the wastehounds. Legends also have it, that Lethisyell, a celestial, was one of his victims: When she failed to heed an order and failed subsequently in her duty as a rear-guard, she was ultimately consumed by Qilal's hounds, her blood creating the black wastes, which to this day ebbs to and forth and is anathema for celestials and infernals alike. From her flesh and strengthened by her suffering were the first wastehound alphas born.

Psychology and phisiology are also covered and are rather interesting - the erstwhile hunting dogs have lost their fur in favor of a green-splotched skin covered in translucent slime. They have also developed poisonous fangs akin to a snake. The most intriguing parts of them physiologically, though would be the sacks of filth they develop - once they have gathered enough poison/filth, they develop into the silvery alphas that are the only fertile members of their species. Psychologically, they are also interesting: Bred from servitude to their shadowy master, the wastehounds have since internalized the trained hunting techniques and guerilla warfare stratagems of pack-hunting predators to a point where they actually are considered to almost act telepathy-style in concert. More on that later, though...

The pdf also provides two legends - one of a merchant guild that did some pretty horrible things and now is seeking to make amends and also of the fall of a sultan and hs realm - perhaps the latest time, dread Qilal has influences mortal realms...

After this, we are introduced to the crunch of the respective waste-hound variants: The Ghulhound is a CR 6 undead version of the wastehound, including a burrow-speed, energy drain and negative energy leakage every time they're damaged. Standard wastehounds come as CR 5 magical beasts with poisonous bites, count always as having a running start and never provoke AoOs when dragging prone targets. Also, wastehounds can determine the exact position of foes by scent in a 100 ft. radius. Alphas clock in at CR 10 and can discern lies as per the spell. The stats for CR 9 exiles are also provided alongside those for CR 7 Zelodian Mutants - humanoid aberrations with human hands grafted to them, courtesy of an insane druid -worse, they can actually fly and are deadlier when attacking with their spears while flying.

The pdf also provides a short gazetteer of a jungle-explorer's camp of a certain merchant's consortium and there are three short scenarios (level 8th, 9th and 11th - more encounters with a set-up, really), all dealing in some way with the respective camp and combinations of the hounds. The camp gets a BEAUTIFUL full-color map - but not a player-friendly version sans numbers to hand out to the players - a pity, for as provided, my players will never get to see the excellent cartography.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though I have a complaint: If I'm not jumbling the numbers, there's something major off with the statblocks. Wastehound Alphas as magical beasts have a BAB of 14 and a str-score of 23 for 6. The Alpha also has Weapon Focus (Bite) for another 1, making the final attack 21 - the statblock only states 20, though. Unless I'm missing something, that's wrong. The wastehound exiles attack also is off by 1 and I'm unfortunately too busy to calculate all the statblocks from the ground up, so if I'm not somehow missing something, that's something you should be aware of. Layout adheres to a full-color 3-column landscape format and the piece of artwork of the wastehound is brilliant, though the comicy renditions of e.g. Zelodian mutants feel out of place and detract from the unified look of the pdf. The camp is nice, but the fact that we don't get a player-friendly map unfortunately makes the beautiful cartography a wasted addition to this pdf for me. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and is hyperlinked to d20pfsrd - per se awesome, though I wished the hyperlinks were highlighted in some way - I found myself clicking on one by accident.

The second installment of the Here be Monsters-line has been a long way coming and the wastehounds per se are an interesting addition to the fold of monsters - were it not for some gripes I have with this pdf: First, unless I'm starting to get senile, there's something off with teh statblocks, which is a problem. Secondly, there's an absence of the legendary leader of the pack - Qilal's stats would have been the icing on the cake. The Wastehound Exile may be a tougher version of the regular wastehound, but lacks a unique ability to reflect his scarring by being cut off from pack telepathy. Speaking of which: Why not make this cool idea more pronounced? The potential is there and tapped upon with a 2 bonus to flanking when in range of an alpha's telepathy, but they could have done so much more. Seriously, I was rather blown away by the concept and ideas of teh wastehounds, only to be disappointed by their mechanical execution: Why don't they get a bonus to escape artist due to their slimy hides? Why can't they spew forth diseases from their sacks as a last resort? What happens when you puncture such a sack with a weapon and spill its contents? There's much potential for coolness in the fluff here that has been left mostly untapped by the crunch. As written, the wastehounds make for a nice addition of canine pack-predators and the fluff etc. is well-executed. But they also fall flat of what they could have easily been with a bit more work and daring. What about the black waste and the influence of the blood? A small sidebox perhaps?

The pdf is very cheap and offers an excellent bang-for-buck ratio, but when all's said and done, the cons accumulate: From the statblock-glitches to the lack of a player-friendly map for the camp to the cartoonish artworks that collide with the awesome piece depicting a wastehound to the missed chance of making something more unique out of them with their sacks, leader and awesome origin myth, we have a pdf at our hands, or at least I do, that fell short of its own promise. Usually, I'd rate this down to 2 stars for the statblock-glitches alone. But then again, this pdf is VERY cheap and actually does provide some neat creatures. For the relatively low price of 2 bucks, I feel I can justify adding half a star and round up to 3 for the purpose of this platform. If the statblocks get a proper revision of the minor glitches I noticed, I'll add another.
Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Here Be Monsters: Wastehounds
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Tattlebox #3: A Pirate's Life
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/12/2012 13:21:09
This installment of Tattlebox is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 1/2 pages advertisement, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 16 1/3 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This episode of Zombie Sky Press' Tattlebox-series is completely devoted to the topic of pirates, making it an ideal candidate for insertion into a given Freeport or Skull &Shackles campaign, so let's check this one out! The pdf kicks off with a short piece of fiction on pirate life, Scott Gable's "Briny Breath" before we are introduced to John Bennett's "Shrieking Isle", a ready to drop in location for your campaign, including gossip to learn about the location, the final resting place of infamous half-orc pirate Regar "Red Axe" Umar, who found his final resting place there. The island's write-up includes two iconic dangerous haunts as well as a trap ties in well with Christina Stiles' write up of the Red Axe's Raiders, a dread organization of dastardly pirates of the very worst kind. Full stats for the weapon mistress of the Red Axes, bloodthirsty Anzajah Kree, is also part of the deal.

Need a way to add a year's worth of planar adventures or do you have to explain why a PC is absent (layer moving, irl issues etc.)? Check out the insubstantial ghost ship Black Silk, an artifact that takes foes it passes through hostage to carry them away. While it takes survival-skill checks to survive, the permanent benefits of serving on the ship are tangible and significant. And a return from serving on this vessel should be interesting indeed...

John Bennett also has undead aquatic variants for your perusal - useful not only in a campaign like the aforementioned, but also great t see for e.g. settings like Alluria Publishing's Cerulean Seas. We get variants of the Baykok, a variant of a Giant Crawling Hand, one of the Dullahan, one of the revenant and one wight - and boy, these variants are neat - they all get at the very least one new signature ability, which is simply awesome! Great work there!

In the "Cracking the Whip"-article, we are introduced to a cool system that provides an easy way for the PCs (and their cohorts) to matter on board of a ship by listing tasks crucial for the functionality of a ship and providing benefits for manning such a post as well as a penalty if the post remains vacant. From the captain to the cabin boy, from boatswain to shanty singer, 11 such rules are provided and deliver nice, solid benefits for making decisions that should help making the decision for roleplaying the crew rather easy. Thomas LeBlanc, author of the former article, also has a nice one on swashbuckling: We get easily usable rules for swinging from rope to rope, attack while swinging and two feats to make swashbuckling attacks easier or use your expertise as a sailor to your advantage while swinging on ropes.

John Pingo's Pirates and Powder provides us with 2 new archetypes for piratey gunslingers: The Deck Stormer, who uses Cha to determine his grit and can choose two new deeds, one to reduce two-weapon penalties and one to make an additional attack per round after a successful acrobatic check for a point of grit, but no more often than once per round. The second archetype is the cannoneer, for whom bigger is indeed better: A master of two-handed firearms, this one also gets 2 new deeds, one to better intimidate foes and add sonic damage to their deafening attacks. Better yet, they learn to apply their gunslinger powers to siege weapons -Hell yeah, now that's neat! John Pingo has more up his sleeve, though: An Article on strange hazards of the sea (which is great - we just have not nearly enough good hazards!) that starts with the green flash: Gold for any dark horror-style campaign or simply to add a tinge of potentially cthulhoid horror, this flash from the depth has strange effect on those seeing it, driving them insane in various ways. We also get rules for mysterious St. Elmo's fire and triangles of terror. Each of the respective entries comes btw. with its own aptly-written introduction from a diary of Bill "Deadlights" Harker.

Thomas LeBlanc delivers the conclusions to this issue of Tattlebox in the guise of two final articles, with the first deserving special mentioning: We get full stats for non-magical torpedos (alchemical and mechanical), naval mines (2 kinds) and 4 types of depth charges - very cool! If you can't see the Pcs, in panic, fending off kraken tentacles while trying to bomb it with depth charges or send torpedoes into the maws of sea serpents...well, then I can't help you. I love this chapter and wished it was longer. Finally, we also get the rules representation for the sailor's malady scurvy and a devious, magical version of the infamous black spot that may actually slay the one condemned so by a pirate court.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a vertical 3-column standard and the original pieces of full color artwork are nice, especially at this low price. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. The formatting peculiarity in issue #2 that had some tables appear on pages unrelated to their fluff is absent from issue #3 - kudos for listening!

As can be said about most things ZSP have done so far, the crunch in this pirate-themed issue of Tattlebox is solid to say the least - I had no balance-concerns whatsoever and the overall standard is very high indeed. From the new naval weaponry to the haunts, imaginative undead variants and onwards to the hazards - the amount of great content stuffed into these pages is awesome indeed and comes at an excellent bang-for-buck ratio. Thus, I'll gladly settle for a final verdict of 5 stars - a must-buy for pirate aficionados and a welcome addition to any pirate-themed campaign and even beyond this scope. The cannoneer would make for a cool archetype in military as well, for example...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tattlebox #3: A Pirate's Life
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Tattlebox #2: Better Adventuring Through Alchemy
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2012 11:13:42
This pdf is 17 pages long, ~1 page front cover/editorial/ToC, ~ 1 1/3 pages advertisements and ~ 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 15 1/6 pages of content, so let's check out the first commercial installment of Zombie Sky Press' Tattlebox!

In case you've missed the free pilot issue, Tattlebox is a mini-magazine somewhat similar to our beloved Kobold Quarterly - this installment kicking off with a short narrative called Nigredo before introducing us to Vander Telmane, alchemist (reanimator) 13 on his quest for immortality and his forbidding abode, the tower called "Devil's Finger". The problematic and even slightly comedic alchemist is fully stated and comes with adventure hooks as well as original pieces of full-color artwork. Speaking of which: The Prison of Zhang Guo, a legendary mortar and pestle that not only can make you a master of brewing potions, but can also imprison those pesky outsiders. The legendary tools get their own, neat artwork. Of course, Vander's research has also yielded some results - 2 new discoveries, one to enhance undead creatures via a special mutagen and the other enabling you to create more alchemical zombies.

Since this issue of tattlebox is all about alchemy, we are also introduced to a new alchemist ability that is called Transmutagen - a form of mutagen that can be combined with it via infusion (but doesn't otherwise stack): Transmutagens enable an alchemist to have your skin covered with different types of metal , all of which grant different defensive capabilities. A total of 6 different transmutagen-coatings, from humble lead to adamantium are covered by the same amount of new discoveries and enable a prospective alchemist to become faster via quicksilver or become a walking juggernaut - great for potential melee-builds. But ranged alchemists must not fret: 3 new discoveries are provided for them and oh boy, do they rock: From the ability to turn foes into solid gold statues via transmutation bombs to create a bomb that locks a foe in a temporal loop (including repeating taking damage from last round over and over again...) and my personal favorite: Golemites! What are golemites, you ask? Simple, golemites are a modification of bombs, creating them with mini-clay golems that follow your directions! How awesome is that?

Of course, alchemy is also dependent on ingredients and thus we get new coatings - from adamantine to cold iron coatings and the elixirian steel coating, a table provides all the necessary prices to add these new properties to your weapons. Better yet, e.g. alchemical timers, tripwires, a powder to eliminate bad taste to bottled lightning (storms) and a cold-based version of alchemist's fire and even a mushroom that absorbs light and can release it as a strobe pattern, the respective items are logical, flavorful additions to the repertoire of just about any adventuring group. An new class of items, the alchemical ampule, is also introduced: Essentially, these ampules can be added to items and modify their properties by adding either metamagic effects, making them ignore minor resistances or changing components of the damage types.

For those of you into whacky effects (and honestly, who isn't), a new table containing 12 different effects deals with the subject of mixing magical potions - from aging effects à la Benjamin Button to turning the PCs into blueberries, Charlie and the chocolate factory, style, the table promises fun galore - I just would have wished it to be longer.

The pdf closes with the new 5-level Fire Scion PrC, which gets 3 BAB, good fort and ref-saves, 3 levels of alchemist-progression, 4+Int skills per level, d8 and improved bombing capabilities, which include disabling devices via bombs, and improved capabilities to use bombs to destroy objects, making this a kind of demolition expert.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good - while I did not notice any editing glitches, it should be noted that the PrC-table lacks the pluses that are usually standard in PFRPG. Layout adheres to a full-color landscape 3-column format and is generally beautiful and sufficiently printer-friendly, but another gripe of mine would be that e.g. tables for alchemical items are found on different pages than their write-ups, making the pdf slightly less comfortable to use. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. The full-color artworks are of a very good quality.

I'm a sucker for alchemy and I absolutely love most of the innovations herein - from the endearing, yet rather evil alchemist, the major artifact to the excellent new alchemical items and discoveries, I can't complain about the balancing of the new crunch herein. That being said, the PrC somewhat feels a tad bit underpowered to me, its niche being very specific, but I gather that for its intended purpose, it does work. In the end, I can definitely say that this first commercial foray of the new series did a great job of making me look forward to future installments - especially if the slight problems with layout and the aforementioned formatting peculiarity are taken care of. For now, I'll thus remain with a hearty recommendation for all fans of alchemy of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tattlebox #2: Better Adventuring Through Alchemy
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Incantations from the Other Side: Spirit Magic
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2012 03:54:14
This pdf is 39 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page containing both SRD and Index. That leaves 35 pages of content.

Incantations kicks off with an introduction to the spirit world, explaining how spirit magic and incantations are neither truly divine nor arcane, how they represent a primal power that can be tapped via rituals by anyone who knows how to do so, but may exact a price. (2 pages)
The first chapter describes Incantations from the general area of Vodou. It introduces the concepts of rado, petro and guede Loa which are not bluntly described as the traditional alignments but rather differences in the temperament of the more or less amoral Loa. We get 7 Rada Loa, 5 Petro Loa and 8 Guede Loa in this chapter. Apart from several nice incantations we also get a new disease in this chapter. My favorite incantation makes it possible to literally shed ones skin and temporarily become a incorporeal form, including attacks etc. (12 pages)

The second chapter details the so-called Middle World, inspired by Slavic mythology. We get 6 spirits and a sidebox with two great ideas spawned from mythology about spirits and 8 incantations. They have a completely different feeling from the first chapter and make EXCELLENT additions to e.g. a "Tales of the Old Margreve" or otherwise Slavic-inspired setting.(12 pages)

The final chapter details the Arcanum and its utterly alien, slightly Lovecraftian patrons from beyond the stars and contains 4 quite complex incantations as well as a sample lodge and 5 sample patrons.(9 pages)

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, the pdf comes in full color and is a beauty to behold, complete with nice artwork and its own distinct style. However, it will test the mettle of your printer and a printer-friendly version would have been very much appreciated. With regards to the content, I can only say: WOW. I've always somehow disliked the fact that magic has become a more or less predictable commodity in RPGs and, while I always understood the necessity of predictable systems, this little file adds one stable of fantasy literature and mythology I always missed: The powerful, cool rituals and negotiations with other entities, the underdog non-caster somehow cursing his opponent. The wise woman beseeching the spirits of nature etc. - without being druids, mages etc., has too long been absent from our favorite systems and these incantations are not only expertly written, make great hooks for adventures and put the awe and unpredictability back into magic, they are also plain fun, creepy and/or cool to read. If this pdf does not inspire you to write an adventure, I don't know what will. The system is elegant, concise and should be included in the standard PFRPG-canon. My only two gripes are: I want a sequel, a whole book of incantations and I want a printer-friendly version. Content-wise, this is a straight 5-star-file, but be aware of the lack of a printer-friendly version. If that's a problem for you, subtract a star. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Incantations from the Other Side: Spirit Magic
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Here Be Monsters: Aching for Blood (Mosquitofolk)
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2012 23:40:01
This supplement introduces a new type pf nasty to the Pathfinder bestiary - seven different varieties of mosquitofolk, background, ecology, and lore (including defenses against them), and an adventure to subject your player characters to. The formatting is clean and well organized - the PDF is fully bookmarked and is in landscape format for easy viewing on screen. The artwork is somewhat simple and cartoonish, and the adventure map is very well done.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Here Be Monsters: Aching for Blood (Mosquitofolk)
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The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way Prelude
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/08/2012 21:33:35
Beautifully written and illustrated, this primer on the fey and their kind is filled with lore and brimming with story ideas. The cover says Pathfinder, but there is practically zero system-specific material here - anyone could use it to enrich the lore of faerykind in the RPG of their preference.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way Prelude
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The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2—Red Jack (PFRPG)
by Paco G. J. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/02/2011 16:09:09
This review was written by Thilo Graf and first published in G*M*S Magazine.

This pdf from Zombie Sky Press is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page credits, ½ page SRD, leaving 21 1/6 pages of content, so let’s check out the fey!

The second instalment of ZSP’s Fey-line threads an unconventional terrain in its first instalment, offering us Red Jack, a tragic kitsune, i.e. a fox spirit who unjustly was murdered and clawed his way back from the dead to exact terrible vengeance on his tormentors. Infiltrating a village, the kitsune that one day would become dread Jack managed to marry and impregnate a girl and live will her as a human husband, only to be found out on his daughter’s birth and promptly be burnt alive. After transcending death and a vicious spree of rage he has now become the lord of his own demesne and convinced that there is one being worthy of his love and devotion: Lady Death, to whom he pledged his service. But before I go on to elaborate on Jack, let’s briefly discuss his demi-plane-like demesne, the semi-sentient Strngle Grove that can create deadly carnivorous plants along and e.g features a gallows-like grove of vines as well as the monument to death and revenge Jack made of his erstwhile wife, the major artifact murder stone.

Having once been a kitsune, Jack’s pdf also includes a lot of fox-related fey-like creatures, beginning with Kitsune, who get both their own stats as well as information on how to use them as a player race. The Kitsune get -4 Str, +2 Dex, +2 Cha, small, 40 ft. movement, low-light vision, are quadruped, get scent, a bite attack, can substitute the power of their tails for spell components, get an alternate form and can take fox magic feats, but more on them later.

Next up are the ghost foxes, Red Jack’s twisted kitsune, trapped somewhere in between life and death. Ghost foxes come with their own one page +2CR template to enable you to create your own. Formatting-wise there’s a rather strange decision, though: The template separates the entry of the pipe-fox into two parts, making this particular statblock harder to read than it necessarily should be.

Wait, wait, wait…pipe-foxes? Yep, the iconic secret-mongers are represented in here as well and even get 2 statblocks, one CR 2 and a CR 13.

Red Jack’s daughter, the one link that makes the difference between the contemplative, calculating schemer and the bestial, red-hot angry killer he was after his transcendence, also gets her own fluff-section and artwork, though her stats will have to wait for a future publication.

Red Jack’s primary statblock is a dread beauty to behold: CR 27 and deadly beyond belief. Even his bloodthirsty alternate statblock (when losing the connection to Ren), at CR 23 still will challenge all but the most powerful of groups. Befitting a creature of its power, the quasi-undead kitsune fey-lord of course has a unique weapon, an oversized starball called death bloom, which makes both for a cool signature weapon and an awesome major artefact.

3 new fey subtypes are introduced, the kitsune, the quiddity and the yokai, making for more diversity in your home game. Especially the quiddity is a very, very cool concept.

9 Fox magic feats are presented to enhance the flair of the kitsune and related creatures, their availability depending on the level of the respective foxes via the count of their tails. From the ability to create extra-dimensional spaces, enhancing attacks, summoning foxfire (ranged fire/electricity touch attack sans save) to changing planes and creating illusory duplicates.

The Kitsune’s star balls are also given their paragraph of information and a new spell deals with a convergence of these items with other wondrous items. Finally, there is something I greatly enjoyed and that is a new incantation for Kitsune to leave their bodies and possess them.

Conclusion:

The pdf comes in two versions, one b/w printer-friendly version and one gorgeous full-color version that will test the mettle of any color-printer. Layout in the full color version is just ravishingly beautiful, blue background and fine lines complement the stunning artworks that can be seen in most ZSP-books. The numerous illustrations just rock and both fluff and crunch are top quality. Editing is also top-notch, I didn’t notice a single mistake. The full-color version comes with full bookmarks, the b/w-version has none. Which brings me to the one weak point of this pdf, the formatting: The bookmarks are littered with unnecessary typos: there are 7 blank spaces in the middle of words too much and 2 closing brackets are missing. Furthermore, the last lines of the incantation seem to be in another font as the rest of the file. While these are only cosmetic blemishes, they did upset me a bit due to them being a) unnecessary and b) tarnishing an otherwise excellent book. On the content-side, I’m not entirely convinced whether the shape-changing Kitsune really should be a player race, alternate shape often being something I’m rather wary of, as is being quadruped or not bipedal. For those of you who always wanted to play a kitsune, this book has a lot to offer and DMs will cackle with glee at the sight of this malevolent, yet very striking take on a completely different kind of fey lord. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Source: G*M*S Magazine (http://s.tt/12RYK)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2—Red Jack (PFRPG)
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Tattlebox #1 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2011 17:55:10
This free offering yb the fellows of Zombie Sky Press is 8 pages long, 2 pages of which are devoted to advertisements, ½ page SRD and 1/3 page credits, leaving 5 1/6 pages of free content, so let’s check them out!

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the great Falling Leaves-comic by Ashton Sperry, which made me laugh. The Tattlebox as an item itself (rather as a major artifact) gets its full stats and makes for an interesting, albeit dangerous tool. Nice idea!

There is an extended discussion on how to split the party without boring the players and why it is actually a good idea. Or at least how you can enhance you game with this technique. While the column did not offer explicit new information for me, it did remind me of some basics I haven’t consciously thought about in quite a while.

The Marketplace of the file offers you a fine selection of new weapons – from the light ballista, the chain-whip and the heavy meteor hammer to the war fork we get neat selection of martial toys to crush our enemies. Or cut or pierce them. 6 weapon features for them are included and usually offer up to a +2 bonus on specific actions. Nice!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout is clean, writing is concise and the material is balanced, cool, helpful and best of all: FREE. The good kind of free, the high quality, almost KQ-level quality, but FREE. 0 bucks. You have no reason not to pick this up, it’s a great pdf and my final verdict is 5 out of 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. Go check this out!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tattlebox #1 (PFRPG)
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The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2—Red Jack (PFRPG)
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/26/2011 17:41:29
I should admit straight-up that I was a bit biased in regards to this product. As a student of Japanese culture, I was naturally intrigued when the Prelude to the Faerie Ring products noted that kitsune and yokai were among the fey it’d be covering. And when the next in that series, Along the Twisting Way #2: Red Jack, came out, that turned into full-blown eagerness. But what sort of presentation did the book make? Let’s find out.

Two-dozen pages in length, Along the Twisting Way #2 makes a strong showing of itself in terms of technical presentation. Presented with full, nested bookmarks and with the copy-and-paste on, the book hits all of the high-water marks. Much more notable, however, is the imagery. Presented on a light bluish background, the book only had four illustrations, but they were spectacular. I say this even with one of those being the cover illustration again, and another being reused from Along the Twisting Way Prelude. Julie Dillon’s artwork is just that vibrant.

Turning to the book itself, I was surprised by just how much Zombie Sky Press was able to squeeze into twenty-four pages. The book opens with Red Jack’s background and current sketch, before talking about his domain (with a sidebar noting its planar traits) and its major features (which also has a sidebar on a new major artifact, the Murder Stone).

Following this is an unexpectedly lengthy discussion about kitsune, and some subtypes of kitsune, before talking about Red Jack’s daughter, Ren. At this point we’re just over halfway through the book and it’s been almost entirely flavor text with little in the way of game stats. While I’m usually a bit of a curmudgeon about that, here I confess that I was captivated by the writing. There’s a style in this book that seems to suggest that it’s presenting only a piece of a larger whole, but feels no need to give additional details (though in several places it does make reference to where further information may be found).

It also helps that the second half of the book (noted as appendices I and II) is where the game stats come out in full force. In appendix one we get the stat block for Red Jack, who is a walloping CR 27, making him one of the highest-CR’d creatures for the Pathfinder RPG to date (notwithstanding v.3.5 material).

Following this is a sidebar discussing how fey lords of Jack’s type have a singular item, a memento mori, that gives them greater power. After this is the stat block for Red Jack if his memento mori is lost or destroyed, busting him down to CR 23. This part of the book made me frown a bit, simply because the jump from CR 27 to 23 is comparatively small, as are the tweaks to his stat block that make up this drop in power. While I can certainly understand the utility of having fully-formed stat blocks for each version of Jack, I wonder if it wouldn’t have been more economical to just list the changes made if his memento mori is lost (or have his power be reduced to a point where an alternate stat block was more necessary, like CR 21), since there was a lot of repeated text. Of course, this is a PDF, so space isn’t really a concern anyway.

After a listing for Jack’s personal major artifact (something to which I tip my hat to the author; it’s been too long since writers remembered that unique, powerful individuals should have unique, powerful artifacts) we move on to stats for kitsune.

The three types of kitsune – the normal kitsune, the ghost fox, and the pipe fox – are all presented here. Except, not really. Rather, we’re given a ghost fox NPC (since ghost fox is a kitsune-specific template given immediately after this), a kitsune NPC (since they’re a playable race), and generic stats for the pipe fox (which, to my delight, can be taken as improved familiars) and their elder variant. A sidebar discussing several new subtypes that kitsune have closes out appendix one.

Appendix two is PC-related information, in regards to the kitsune. After basic PC race stats (which include the method whereby the gain more tails), we’re presented with a series of feats that allow for different uses of fox magic. I liked this section, but it was too short by half (and it noted that these weren’t all the fox magic that there were); mostly absent were fox magic feats designed for having multiple tails (that is, being higher level). Hopefully there’ll be more in a future supplement of web enhancement.

Some discussion is given to a uniquely kitsune magic item, the star ball. It’s interesting that the star ball is designed to allow kitsune (which in their natural form have no opposable thumbs) to utilize magic items they otherwise couldn’t, since they can imbue their star ball with those items (using a new spell presented here). However, the basic construction information for how a star ball is made wasn’t presented here. A minor oversight, to be sure, but it would have been useful. The book closes out with an incantation that allows a kitsune to, upon a success, possess someone for a short while (something I’d keep out of the hands of a PC, even despite its built-in limitations).

Overall though, I greatly enjoyed this product. The references to Japanese mythology alone (particularly the story of Tamamo-no-Mae, which the author acknowledges and gives a surprising twist on) were enough to win me over. But even had they not been, the engaging writing and excellent new mechanics would have. Red Jack is a powerful foe who has long arms thanks to those kitsune who serve him, and with his wily daughter out there, there’s a built-in campaign waiting to happen, especially if you have PCs who want to play a kitsune.

The only real complaint I have about the book was that it was much too short. The section on new material for PCs could easily have been twice as long (more fox magic feats, stats for human-kitsune children, etc). And though I thought Red Jack’s two forms could have used more distinction, the character himself was truly epic (pun intended). If you’re looking for a method to add fey foxes to your game, look no further. The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2 – Red Jack gives you a fox-faced foe you won’t soon forget, and all that he en-tails.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way #2—Red Jack (PFRPG)
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