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[PFRPG] Player's Options: Humans
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/09/2013 07:29:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page editorial, ~4/5 of a page SRD, leaving us with 8 1/5 pages of content, so let us take a look at the new options for humans!

This pdf kicks off with two new variants of the basic human racial traits, with the first one being Adopted Humans, who get +2 to an attribute their adopted parent race doesn't get the bonus to, count as both humans and their adopted race, get weapon familiarity with weapons of the adopting race, a bonus feat and an extra skill pint per level. Solid and useful if you want to go beyond background traits to customize an adopted human, but nothing too special. More distinct would be the Wild Child, who gets +2 to a physical attribute score, +2 to Wis and -2 to Int, count as humans, gte +2 to AC in their home terrain, climb or swim speed 30 ft., low light vision, scent and need to learn speaking languages. Both come with starting age, height and weight tables. If you can't see the problem by no - the Wild Child is a good idea, but utterly, completely op. A non-standard movement speed, on par with regular movement, scent and low light vision for the ridiculous payoff of needing to spend some skill points in languages? Come on! Designer Ryan Costello Jr. can and has done better than this not even remotely balanced design-failure.

Next up are 13 new feats for humans - and they are unfortunately of a varying degree of quality. Take "afficionado": Get +1 to all knowledge skills that are class skills for you. Would ANYONE spend a feat for this exceedingly LAME benefits? "Always Prepared" also falls into this category - as a reaction to sundering/disarming, you may make a 5-foot step, draw a weapon and make an AoO. While the AoO looks nice in theory, this feat has two feats prerequisites and its use is predicated on you having your weapon sundered or disarmed, something that usually doesn't happen all that often. Rather specific in its benefits for the investment of a feat. If the wild child is not yet broken enough for you, you may get a bite attack at 1d6+1/2 str. "Hide in crowds" and "crowd assassin" are two interesting ideas - they allow you to hide in plain sight when there are more humans than your HD around and even make sniping attacks from crowds and vanish back into them - these are actually good concepts with a worthwhile execution.

Determined Student increases the maximum ranks in class skills to your level +1, which is ok, I guess. "Flexible Training" is something usually houseruled in most campaigns I know, as it allows you to retrain feats that are not required as prerequisites, one per even level. Not really sold on this - while design-wise solid, I maintain that houseruling this depending on your player's foresight/experience might be the more prudent thing to do. There also is a feat that cuts your required sleep down to 4 hours - a feat I guess I have irl and generally a nice idea. Adopted humans may take a feat to better pass for their adopted parent race. "Passing Interest" is also interesting - it nets you 2 ranks of skills you can reassign via 1 hour of study on a daily basis. Great idea, though I wished it would scale with levels - as written, it's incredibly useful at low levels and later loses almost all relevance. Another feat nets you the benefits of versatile weapon training as a swift action - the basic feat allowing you to use a move action to get +1 to atk, +2 to damage or +1 shield bonus AC for one turn. Solid, since it trades action economy for increased flexibility. Finally, there's a feat that nets you +2 to diplomacy and allows you to increase the initial attitude by up to 3 steps.
After that, we are introduced to new flaws (introduced in the rather neat Player's Options: Flaws - which I encourage you to check out!) and the pdf features all necessary pieces of information to introduce flaws into your campaign - a total of 8 new flaws are presented and they are universally neat and offer some nice options. Two thumbs up for this part of the pdf!

The final section of the pdf provides the new simple weapons branding iron & pitchfork, stats for appel pie, lift shoes and a make-up kit - again, a nice section.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to 4WFG's printer-friendly b/w 2-column-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. The pdf has no artworks but doesn't need any at this length and the front cover is a separate jpg.-file.

Humans are hard to write for, as they are the default race and usually what one sees as the norm against which we judge the other fantasy races - even more so in the context of a rules-supplement such as this that has the additional handicap of not being able to make rules based on campaign-specific cultural peculiarities. That being said, the pdf has me rather neat ideas in its pages, though it is far from perfect - the wild child is every definition of the word "broken" and the vast majority of feats is very specific or simply underwhelming. The crowd-related feats are interesting, yes, and I like the design rationale for the Versatile Training Feats, but most of the other feats did not seem like valid choices to me. The flaws and equipment, then again, are cool and well-written and provide some nice options for the race of humans. Whether that's enough to carry the product, though, largely depends on whether you like the concept of flaws or not. If you do, then this pdf has something to offer you and might offer some nice options. If you don't, then this loses quite some of its appeal.
However, this is no pdf that can blindly be introduced to your table and also features some components that are simply not balanced with existing options. Since the price is low and this pdf still has something to offer, I'll settle for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: Humans
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Memorable Townsfolk [PFRPG]
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/28/2013 12:29:12
This simple work contains everything that one could want for what's advertised, and then some.

NPC books have always been a big part of my gaming experience, since I learned that by personalizing all aspects of conflicts players get much more involved in the experience. So I've read a lot of good and bad NPC books. The bad ones either don't tell you what the NPCs should do in your game, or give you NPCs that don't do what the creators say they will.

The good ones, like Memorable Townsfolk, pursue a game role for the NPCs and explain clearly how they will work at your table.

The 12 NPCs in Memorable Townsfolk will never overshadow PCs in adventuring roles - they are tied up in their own agendas and situations. Yet they each have some significant thing they want from the PCs or that the PCs want from them. They each have simply expressed personalities, along with tips for the GM in portraying them. They each have gossip and rumors about them that may or may not be true, which may lead to further adventures or opportunities for the PCs.

What raises Memorable Townsfolk above other NPC supplements, though, is that after the NPCs, there are several sample settlements to help put the NPCs into a particular context, showing you how to put them in your campaign. This was a welcome surprise. It's rare that a supplement goes the extra step of putting its characters in the context of a setting element.

I was especially pleased to see that there were significant Pathfinder-specific materials in the game such as the witch class and the settlement rules. Why mark something as a Pathfinder supplement if you're just going to give me D&D3 stuff?

There's also a few fun tables about randomly generating personality traits or tics to make any particular NPC stand out more. (Honestly I don't see why a random table is a good idea for this, since you could conceivably roll the same entry on the table and end up with 20 people who always talk with their arms crossed - wouldn't it be better to put it on a list where I could cross them off one by one as I use them? But there always seems to be a random table. Oh well, nitpicky.) This is a fun addition to the supplement as well.

Layout is solid and clear., bookmarks are used throughout. The "completist's checklist" at the end would be a lot better ad for Purple Duck if the names of the supplements actually linked back to DTRPG or the Purple Duck website!

All in all, this is an excellent supplement that you should pick up if, like me, you like to put NPCs at the centers of your games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Memorable Townsfolk [PFRPG]
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers II [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2013 04:57:38
The second installment of Monstrous Bloodlines is 9 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page (and a bit) SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's check out these new bloodlines!

This time, the bloodlines are WEIRD with a capital "W" - the first being the Couatl-bloodline that nets access to minor divine magic, a weak poison, telepathy and rainbow-hued wings. Nice!

The second bloodline is the eidolon-bloodline (who may not multiclass as summoners) and, let me spell this out: This is the COOLEST bloodline I've read so far for PFRPG. The bloodline nets you access to evolution points - you may spend these points and maintain these evolutions for 1/2 character + cha-mod rounds. Versatile, smart and glorious - and well worth the low asking price for this one alone. We also get a nice list of available evolutions for convenience's sake.

And then we get another supremely cool bloodline I never thought I'd see - the poets of the underworld, Flail-Snail-blooded sorcerors that come with a VERY interesting ability: Spell specifically targeted at the sorceror has a 10% + 5% chance per level to be warped. Spell failures and rebounds are possible - for beneficent and hostile magic, making the ability change the overall playing experience, which is interesting indeed. You may also exude sticky or slimy slime to modify terrain and entangle foes etc. AWESOME! What author Perry Fehr has done with this one is GLORIOUS.

The Flumph-bloodline is also interesting, featuring a cool, interesting background to explain the origin of the bloodline. Ability-wise, sorcerors get access to a spray of stench, acidic flesh and the ability to fly slow, but with perfect maneuverability, culminating in interesting high-level abilities to combat aberrant threats.

The Phoenix-bloodline is more conventional/what you'd expect - fire-touches, flame resistance, and flaming wings. The issue the bloodline had at first has been cleared up.

The Pugwampi-bloodline is also interesting: At first level, they may force foes to roll twice a d20 and take the lesser result. The ability does not work for characters that have a luck bonus and now the bloodline has been stripped of its ambiguities, it works rather well!

The final bloodline is the Time bloodline and its abilities are unconventional: These sorcerors may shunt targeted creatures into the future, taking them temporarily with touch attacks (that thankfully allow saves) into the future and thus out of the combat for some seconds. The bloodline also gets a more powerful mirror image that always is hit instead of the sorceror - powerful, yes, but also damn cool and something no other bloodline has done. Nice! The final abilities are not that exciting, though the option to negate damage done by a single foe slain by you is cool! This bastard has killed all of your adventuring companions? As long as you manage to defeat the adversary, you may unravel him from time and get them all back. Also: Can you see the narrative potential not only for this, but also for the repercussions of the foe being unraveled from time? NICE!

Conclusion:
EDIT: The pdf has been updated to feature excellent editing and formatting, now lacking any obvious glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's no-frills two-column standard and the cover-artwork (the only one) makes flumphs actually look hardcore. Nice. The pdf is fully bookmarked, a neat feature at this length.

If I didn't know any better, I wouldn't believe that the same author that did the imho rather mediocre first book also made this second Monstrous Bloodline-pdf. Perry Fehr has REALLY found a stride in this pdf - NONE of the bloodlines are boring, every one features at least one, often more unique and smart signature abilities. The Eidolon, Flail-Snail and Flumph-bloodlines are just awesome and the Time bloodline also rocks hard. In fact, I consider these bloodlines to rank among the best released by ANY publisher out there. Yes. They are that good. And now, with the glitches I complained about in my first iteration of the review purged, thisis a glowing 5 stars + seal of approval recommendation - these bloodlines are interesting, smart and will result in unique playing experiences. Give them a try!
Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers II [PFRPG]
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Celurian's Magical Miscellany [PFRPG]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2013 09:52:18
For anyone who likes shiny things, or wants a few choice items to spice up a treasure hoard, a feast is in store within these pages. Or indeed you may wish to use it 'as is' for what we have here is a travelling salesman in magical items, complete with a very magical cart and some of his wares.

First we meet Celurian himself. Celurian Iz'zer, a rather dandified half-elf, who collects and trades in all manner of beautiful items, both magical ones and object d'art. He's fully-detailed and would make an interesting NPC, in fact I can think of a few adventures to involve him in already...

We read about his magical mode of transportation, a horseless carriage that is bigger on the inside than on the outside and rather appropriately is painted blue! And then there is a fabulous listing of just a few of the wonders to be found inside. Weapons, rods, rings... and a host of wondrous items. Perhaps you might care for a Rod of Breaking and Entering, which looks like a golden crowbar and adds considerably to efforts to, well, get into places! Or maybe a Beastcloak takes your fancy - of heavy grey fur lined with red velvet, it has a hood shaped like a wolf's head and enables the wearer to shapeshift... Or perhaps a pair of Directional Stones, which have a permanent attraction to each other. Plenty of creative uses for them.

Everything comes with complete game statistics, often a suggestion or two for their use and a charming full-colour sketch. Plenty of scope here, however you decide to use them.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Celurian's Magical Miscellany [PFRPG]
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/13/2013 04:52:22
This pdf is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look at these new bloodlines, shall we?

The cyclopean bloodline gains perception as a class skill and has its spells focused on ill omens and divination, with bonus feats reflecting the divination focus as well as the toughness associated with cyclopes. Among the bloodline powers, we get a gaze of doom as well as the interesting development that has cyclopean sorcerors turn blind on one eye, hampering depth perception. This is offset by two insanely powerful abilities, though: One allows you 1/day to EXACTLY the die-result of one of your die-rolls. While only working for you, that's an automatic critical threat at 3rd level, a 100 on a d% etc. - I don't need to tell you how broken this is, do I? Worse, the bloodline, starting at 9th level, allows these sorcerors to DOUBLE the threat range for ALL attacks - rays, natural attacks, melee, ranged etc. for 3+cha-mod rounds 1/day. Never gonna happen in my campaign.

The Inevitable bloodline has unsurprisingly diplomacy as well as law-spells in its arsenal as well as e.g. combat expertise and similar discipline-themed feats in the bonus feat selection and gains a limited regeneration (3+Cha-mod rounds per day) that improves over the levels. Nothing to complain here. Medusan sorcerors get disguise as class skill, bonus feats appropriate for her like skill focus (sculpture) or brew potion, a slowing gaze, poisonous blood (that lacks frequency, onset etc. and information on whether it can be harvested) and finally undergo an apotheosis.

Otyugh sorcerors (rather disturbing concept, but cool) gain sickening and plague-based spells and bonus feat-selections based on toughness, fortitude and become progressively a carrier for diseases, increased senses and immunity to diseases but strangely not the ability to draw sustenance/heal from waste-consumption - a wasted opportunity indeed. *Puts two cents into the bad pun-jar...* The full color artwork by Tamas Baranya is worth special mentioning here - a cool Otyugh, though I would have preferred an artwork of a sorceror that has undergone the capstone apotheosis into an otyugh/mortal-hybrid.

Sphinx-bloodline sorcerors get access to a Knowledge skill of their choosing, divination/language-themed spells, may utter confusing riddles and shout deafening battle-cries at higher levels. Nothing to complain here balance-wise.

The Stirge bloodline (featured as an awesome example on the cover) gets stealth as a class skills, bleed/insect-themed spells, grappling and agility/disruption-themed feats grows both wings and draining proboscis as well as act as a disease-carrier and create mirror images of yourself. thematically, the most concise and cool of the bloodlines, its solid mechanics back it up. This one is actually really, really good.

The final bloodline would be the unicorn bloodline that gains access to heal as a class skill as well as curative magic as bonus spells and feats that help with rays, self-sufficiency etc. You may manifest a horn, call nature's allies and later even later emulate the kirin, gaining flight. Though probably my players would never stop making virgin/unicorn-jokes, a solid choice.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though I lacked the medusa sorceror's bloodline poison-information. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly two-column standard with some awesome full color artworks I wouldn't have expected at this price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Oh boy, most of these bloodlines actually have at least one good idea going for them, with especially the stirge bloodline standing out. However, for each idea that stands out, there's also one that would require some balancing imho - the Cyclopean bloodline is utterly broken in my book and e.g. the sphinx, inevitable and otyugh bloodlines all somewhat fall behind their own potential - some more courageous, more unique ideas would have gone a long way there - why can't e.g. sphinx-sorcerors not, gargoyle-style enter a kind of temporal stasis to whether the ages and await intrepid adventurers? Why can't otyugh-sorcerors eat waste to sustain/heal themselves? Why can't inevitable sorcerors swear an oath to complete a particular objective and gain bonuses when seeking to fulfill it? When all's said and done, I feel that quite a few of these bloodlines miss the essence, what makes the parent-creature iconic. Add to that the minor issues here and there and we arrive at an offering that is ok, but not much more, reflected in a final rating of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to the fair price for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers [PFRPG]
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers II [PFRPG]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2013 02:31:59
An eclectic mix indeed... sorcerers who trace their powers back to some of these have what can only be described as a very interesting family history!

First up are the coatl. It is quite hard to imagine just how one of them might even want to become involved with mortal beings, but rather than anything tacky it is proposed that when a mortal does a favour to one and receives a feather in return whereby the coatl can be summoned and the coatl later dies, the feather disappears and an image appears on the mortal's skin - and that's when the influence enters the bloodline. Neat, as are the powers this ancestry confers on our budding sorcerer, including telepathy and irridescent rainbow wings.

A weird one next, the eidolon. In forming close associations with summoners, it is not implausible that those capable of such acts might breed with their companions... but the descendants who take up sorcery cannot even dabble in summoning themselves - the resulting paradox leading to an implosion that ingulfs the incautious one. Such sorcerers become more like Outsiders themselves as they gain levels.

Next and more mundane, the flail snail. OK, who'd really want to admit to a gastropod in your family tree? The results are slimy... Rather more strange, the flumph. The sorcerer becomes a bit odd too: able to emit stench and becoming rubbery. Hmm... Perhaps more inspiring would be to trace your bloodline back to a phoenix, with flight and fire powers as the result.

Another ancestor you might be reluctant to talk about is a pugwampi. One of said race's prevalent powers is causing bad luck, and so do the sorcerers descended from them. Finally, and rather strange, is the time bloodline, gained by an ancestor having messed around with the orderly flow of time. Perhaps this is the nearest a Pathfinder character can come to being a Time Lord...

Some entertaining ideas to conjure with here.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers II [PFRPG]
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[M&M] Deus ex Historica: Ghost Boy
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/03/2013 10:10:48
An intriguing superhero from the Golden Age, Ghost Boy epitomises teen angst long before it was a fashionable concept. He's insecure and feels out-of-place whether he's with his school-mates or with other superheroes or hanging out with the ghosts that his powers allow him to see and interact with.

This would be an interesting character for a strong role-player to play, to explore the way in which Ghost Boy develops as he discoveres how to use his abilities to be a valuable member of a group of superheroes rather than the weedy and barely-tolerated 'cute mascot' that he feels himself to be... or perhaps one of your characters would like to mentor him and help him discover his true place in the world.

Alternatively, he could be run as a villain, working on the edge of the supernatural and helping ghosts to wreak vengeance on the living...

A neat and interesting look at a character who is not all power and strength and useful in a brawl, a more subtle yet still potent ally or enemy.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[M&M] Deus ex Historica: Ghost Boy
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[PFRPG] GM's Options: NPCs 1: Barbarians, Bards, and Clerics
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/27/2013 08:15:19
This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The first supplement to come out of Purple Duck Games' acquisition of 4 Winds Fantasy Games, this pdf features several NPCs, all ready to be dropped into your campaign and also comes with short paragraphs on how to insert the characters into the world of Porphyra, Purple Duck games' default setting. Drustan, Son of Cymbel would be the first in the cadre of NPCs and comes with both a background story as well as information on traits selected and 3 incarnations - one at barbarian level 1, one at level 5 and one at level 10. Each of the NPCs herein comes in versions for these three levels, providing a certain variety regarding statblocks.
What's also rather nice is that the boon-mechanic sees some use and each of the entries is headed with a boon PCs may get from friendly contact with Drustan. More interesting than Drustan, at least for me, would be the second barbarian, Fala Ravenshair, who hails from a desert-dwelling tribe: Her talent for divination via her prized deck adds an uncommon component to what you'd expect from a barbarian. The dwarven bard Aonghas Silverstrings, hailing from a rich family, is also and interesting character and a nice contradiction to the cliché of the quickly angered dwarf, though personally, I would have loved to see him utilize at least one masterpiece in his highest-level iteration. As written, he is very much vanilla apart from magical talent as a trait, rules-wise.

Amira Dashunt, is a half-elven, charming woman that grew up in a desert-town and the head-turning freespirit of a woman should make for an interesting acquaintance for the PCs, perhaps even a romantic interest. The elven priest Solon Redbranch with his solemn belief in law and his calligraphy-skills is another interesting diversion from tried and true stereotypes. Willow Briarberry is a halfling cleric of a church that doubled as a thieves' guild and as such may, beyond her cleric prowess, grant access to the local underworld.

The pdf alos features a line on languages and how they work in context, assigning (fully optional, mind you) e.g. a dialect of Alko to Drustan's people.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any all too jarring mistakes. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w standard and with the lack of borders and its purple highlights is closer to PDG's tradition than to 4WFG's, in case you wonder. The pdf is fully and extensively bookmarked and the stock-b/w-artworks you'll probably already know from a variety of Raging Swan Press-products, though at this price-point, I don't hold that against the pdf.
This is a humble collection of NPCs, two for every class the product advertizes, one male and one female. There are no gnomes or half-orcs or weird races in here. None of the characters multiclasses or uses some gimmicky options - no subdomains, no masterpieces, no exalted domains, no new rage powers. These characters are the very definition of vanilla. And yeah, presentation and usability is up to the standards, the characters fitting the roles assigned to them - the thing is: I've seen each of these character-types done before. Often. My point just is that we'd need uncommon options for pregenerated characters more than options that are almost exclusively core. There is nothing wrong with any of these characters and if a DM needs some characters to fill generic-slot xyz, that's where these shine. But did these statblocks make me want to include them as characters? Honestly...No.
None of these really stuck with me or elicited any form of excitement from me. Granted, that's not necessarily their job. But it would have been nice nevertheless to see some options used, an archetype here and there etc. to set them further apart. As written, this pdf left me with an overwhelming sense of adequateness - the characters are good, the formal criteria professional. But for me, there was no spark. Hence, I'll settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] GM's Options: NPCs 1: Barbarians, Bards, and Clerics
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Ploys and Plots: A Skill and Feat Collection [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2013 02:51:53
This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This collection offers us first of all new skill uses: You may now use the bluff-skill to fast-talk yourself out of combat, feign injuries or deliver quick secret messages. You may also intimidate foes at massive penalties in a couple of rounds or even as a full round action. Perception-rules to use the skill to listen underwater, soil or pinpoint sounds also serve to enhance the skill - especially useful when using the revised Stealth-rules from Drop Dead Studios' Rogue Glory-supplement. Via Sense Motive, you can quickly scan for enchantments or analyze your foes, though the latter hits one of my pet-peeves and does not provide abstract information, but rather precise BAB, feats etc. - and metagamey information like that is banned in my game. Via Sleight of Hand, you may now conceal held items or steal items usually too large to steal or secretly store items. In a nice display of awareness, none of these skill-uses overlap with the ones provided in Rite Publishing's by now legendary "101 New Skill Uses".

After this section, we're off to the feat part of the pdf, prefaced by a massive 2 1/2 pages of feat-table. The feats are actually rather interesting in the things the endeavor to do: Using a rudimentary kind of echo-location by clicking with the tongue (behavior btw. exhibited by some blind people irl) allows you rudimentarily determine your surroundings even when you otherwise can't due to e.g. darkness. Active Avoidance is also an interesting option that requires Dex and Int 15 as well as dodge and combat expertise and allows you to, as an immediate action, double the AC-bonus versus the next attack of the opponent. An interesting design, especially for dueling characters.
In fact, many of the feats herein offer similarly tactically-themed options to e.g. goad foes into attacking their allies and belittling foes can grant bonuses as long as you and your allies don't get hit. Using sleight of hand instead of the steal combat-maneuver is also covered, though I've seen better uses of that particular concept n other publications. Teamwork, via aiding one another, evading friendly fire and several social feats that e.g. allow you to place suggestions (thankfully with scaling DCs) and even a feat to offer redemption to enemies (which is a streamlined, updated take on the one from the notorious Book of Exalted Deeds).
Beyond that, the feats in this book can be roughly categorized into different quarters: Some expand the new skill uses introduced in here, some enhance teamwork between members of the party (allowing e.g. the PCs to talk one another through e.g. skill checks), some help with the defensive side of things, some enhance social skill-uses in combat- situations and some capitalize on high Int as well as sense motive to display tactical fighters in battle who can benefit from their genius, much like e.g. characters in battle-of-wills-type scenarios à la Death Note. While especially the latter is an interesting concept, at least in my game, I will disconnect the benefits from gaining metagamey information and had hoped the pdf had done the same. Oh well. There also are some minor filler feats that allow access to low-level domain or bloodline abilities for those not so endowed.

The pdf also offers a selection of new item-tricks for cloaks as well as a cohesive example on how the material in this pdf can make fights more dynamic and less about bashing brains in.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not top-notch - I noticed a couple of rough patches here and there like missing blank lines between feats, minor glitches etc., though nothing glaring. Layout adheres to PDG's 2-column no-frills standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked.

David Nicholas Ross' Plots and Ploys was a kind of frustrating pdf for me to review: On the one hand, these skill-uses and feats are compelling and serve their purpose - they should help to get groups out of kill-em-all-ruts and add an interesting dimension to combats heretofore untapped. On the other hand, this collection uses metagamey information (something I abhor) and some of the feats could be taken to ridiculous places - some of them could have really used a caveat that they don't work on specific types of creatures. That being said, as a DM I'd be wary of introducing this pdf as a whole without some very close scrutiny for respective groups - while the feats per se are not broken, depending on the group they're introduced to, they may prove to be unhinging and change your gaming experience. Seeing how this is the goal of the pdf, though, I won't hold that versus the pdf.

That being said, I also feel that this pdf is slightly below what it could actually have been - with minor revision and slightly more polish, this pdf could have been even better. As provided, I can see it being useful, though not necessarily great for all types of campaigns. This would bring me to a review of 4.5 stars, but the editing glitches and filler material here and there make me settle for a final verdict of 4 stars instead.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ploys and Plots: A Skill and Feat Collection [PFRPG]
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Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers [PFRPG]
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2013 12:05:30
As stated in the introduction, in every sorcerer's family history something... interesting happened, giving rise to the bloodline potential that empowers the sorcerer's magical abilities. Herein are suggested several monstrous bloodlines, along with the specific abilities that they bestow on the sorcerer that has them flowing through his veins.

The monsters which are involved are the cyclops, the outsiders called the inevitables, the medusa, the otyugh (how could Purple Duck Games resist this one!), the sphinx, the stirge and the unicorn. Quite a mixed bag there.

The powers granted are well-developed and linked into the essential nature of the creature involved - for example, the cyclops powers revolve around the sorcerer's eyes as well as involving the brutality, size and prophetic powers that the cyclops is known for - very neat! Those with the medusa bloodline get along with snakes, have poisonous blood and even what amounts to a gaze weapon, and so on.

And as for the otyugh bloodline? Disease is involved, and the sorcerer will eventually start to look a bit like an otyugh as well! As a bonus, a truly delightful illustration of an otyugh is included!

An intriguing take on sorcerous bloodlines, well worth a look if you want to play something out of the ordinary... and they'd make excellent NPCs too, particularly if the characters do not at first know what the bloodline is and are trying to figure out the capabilities of the sorcerous opposition!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Bloodlines for Sorcerers [PFRPG]
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[M&M] Deus ex Historica Subscription
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2013 11:38:46
Well, if the first character (included when you order the Subscription) is anything to go by this is going to be a series well worth collecting! Here are my notes on this first entry in the subscription:

Quite an intriguing character - possibly best used as an NPC although a strong role-player could have fun with the character - Danni Cipher comes from a far-distant future.

Danni is a temporal archaeologist, delving into past times by manipulating the time-stream to visit them rather than digging holes. Somewhere along the line to that far future that Danni comes from, everything went really, terribly awry and the timeline got... snapped. The past literally disassociated from the future. Things are unravelling, and Danni's goal is to find the RIGHT past and link it to the future from whence the archaeologist came.

The character is well-detailed and described, mostly in a rather breathless and engaging first person. This leads me to an intriguing point: nowhere is Danni's gender identified! The reason apparently is that it can change when navigating the timestream, or to fit in with the situations encountered... but maybe perhaps it really is that in the far future it actually does not matter at all which gender you are! (Being one of those odd people who don't have much of a gender identity, I can identify with this approach to a character... in fact until I found the side-bar explaining this I hadn't really noticed the lack of a stated gender, especially with the first person approach not giving room for gender-appropriate pronouns...).

Full statistics are also given. Danni is possibly a little underpowered as most PCs might go, another reason for using this character as an NPC, but the quirky flavour makes up for that and good role-playing of someone from a really advanced technology may well overcome this.

Now Danni believes that some evil mastermind messed up the timelines to cause the disconnect. Up to you whether or not that is true, or indeed just what Danni is doing when encountered by the players... I'm contemplating them finding Danni just arrived and trying to figure out this new primitive era, a bit lost and confused. A nicely-developed and unusual character, and if the rest of the series maintains this high standard you will end up with a worthwile collection of characters to add to your game!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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[M&M] Deus ex Historica: Danni Cipher
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/21/2013 11:33:39
Quite an intriguing character - possibly best used as an NPC although a strong role-player could have fun with the character - Danni Cipher comes from a far-distant future.

Danni is a temporal archaeologist, delving into past times by manipulating the time-stream to visit them rather than digging holes. Somewhere along the line to that far future that Danni comes from, everything went really, terribly awry and the timeline got... snapped. The past literally disassociated from the future. Things are unravelling, and Danni's goal is to find the RIGHT past and link it to the future from whence the archaeologist came.

The character is well-detailed and described, mostly in a rather breathless and engaging first person. This leads me to an intriguing point: nowhere is Danni's gender identified! The reason apparently is that it can change when navigating the timestream, or to fit in with the situations encountered... but maybe perhaps it really is that in the far future it actually does not matter at all which gender you are! (Being one of those odd people who don't have much of a gender identity, I can identify with this approach to a character... in fact until I found the side-bar explaining this I hadn't really noticed the lack of a stated gender, especially with the first person approach not giving room for gender-appropriate pronouns...).

Full statistics are also given. Danni is possibly a little underpowered as most PCs might go, another reason for using this character as an NPC, but the quirky flavour makes up for that and good role-playing of someone from a really advanced technology may well overcome this.

Now Danni believes that some evil mastermind messed up the timelines to cause the disconnect. Up to you whether or not that is true, or indeed just what Danni is doing when encountered by the players... I'm contemplating them finding Danni just arrived and trying to figure out this new primitive era, a bit lost and confused. A nicely-developed and unusual character!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
[M&M] Deus ex Historica: Danni Cipher
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Fehr's Ethnology: Qit'ar [PFRPG]
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/14/2013 07:12:18
The final installment of Fehr's Ethnology is 11 pages long, 1/2 page of editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the Qi'tar!

After an immersion-enhancing piece of fluff, we delve into the stats of the Qi'tar-race: These beings look like essentially horned, sabertoothed catfolk (lavishly illustrated by Gary Dupuis) and get +2 to Str, are vulnerable to electricity, gain a natural attack (combined horns, teeth and claws) at 1d6, one weapon proficiency of their choice, +2 to saves versus mind-affecting spells, effects and also poisons. Oh, and they can opt to get a power point instead of a skill point for their favored class. Power point? Yes, for they also get Wild Talent or Psionic Talent, are of the psionic subtype and can cast empathy 1/day. If that wasn't ample clue - the Qi'tar are a psionic race, fully compatible with Dreamscarred Press' Psionics Unleashed and Psionics Expanded.

Even the latter? Yes, reflected in the balanced alternate racial traits, they may among racial traits lose racial characteristics for different psi-like abilities and playing ahlf-breeds or even Qi'tar unable to speak is possible. They also come with 4 nice, balanced racial fats and may choose two specific feats usually exclusive to half-orcs. Their attitude to adventure and classes includes thus entries on all psionic classes and thanks to PDG's acquisition of $ Winds Fantasy Games, also of classes from the Paths to power-supplement. The favored class-options contain entries for the anti-paladin, dead, marksman, psychic warrior, tactician and soulknife among the more exotic classes.

The pdf closes with a sample Qi'tar ranger level 1 and the resilient trait.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf's piece of artwork is especially nice for the low price point. The pdf even comes with bookmarks, in spite of the low page-count - neat!
The first pdf to my knowledge to support content from the stellar psionics expanded, the Qi'tar thankfully belong to the better entries in the series, providing an interesting race with iconic customization options that strikes me as well-balanced with all its options. A thoroughly enjoyable race that, at least to me, feels more unique than the regular catfolk, I can get behind the race, especially for the low, fair asking price and will settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5, missing the 5 only due to the fact that I would have loved to see some truly unique option for the race.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fehr's Ethnology: Qit'ar [PFRPG]
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AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
by Gabor L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2013 14:01:13
This dungeon section is a module in the truest sense: designed to be placed “in the characters’ path if they travel down a corridor that you have not yet detailed”, it slots into megadungeons as easily as it could become a single one-night scenario. In 12 pages, it outlines a compact 25-entry encounter area built by an evil cult, and now inhabited by a cursed monster who had once been the cult’s implacable foe. Meant for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, it converts easily to your preferred D&D variant or edition, and has good production values.

There is a very lurid, in-your-face sense of the grotesque in the DCC role-playing game, and Bone Hoard follows this style very faithfully. Its rooms and passages are inhabited by the results of playing with bizarre magical forces, and the various creatures, objects and even magic items come across as strange and unwholesome. Where else but here could you find “a golden coloured bladder of some unknown substance, extracted from some creature from another plane of existence”, and let that be your reward for being an adventurer? Where else will you face the equivalent of giant rats – but boneless and equipped with leech-like mouths? Of course, there is a fine line to walk between horrid and laughable, but I believe this module walks it. The strangeness of the location and its various horrors is not just a set of descriptions that use Lovecraftian imagery, but also has in-game relevance; the set-pieces are interactive and allow interesting experimentation, even if the approach to the encounter area is mostly static.

Sometimes, the room descriptions and GM instructions overstate the obvious, or present vital information in so much detail that it becomes unwieldy (especially if it is dropped into a game without preparation, one of its intended uses). Occasionally, difficulty checks are given for trivially easy tasks, and treasure values are listed for non-valuables like “horn spoons worth 2 cp each”. This is more trouble than worth, although to the author’s credit, it is much more interesting to find horn spoons than yet another set of generic jewellery worth 300 gp. There are a few empty rooms filled with rubble too many. Some careful editing would have done this product good – it is a good 6 page scenario in twice as many pages.

Make no mistake: this is solid, playtested, utilitarian material, a module (component) with a lot of imagination. We need more adventures like this. Although designed for its specific assumptions, it remains easy to use outside the context of the DCC RPG, and its weirdness is perhaps even more enhanced.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AL1: Bone Hoard of the Dancing Horror [DCC]
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AL 2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God [DCC]
by Gabor L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/06/2013 13:59:27
Sepulcher of the Mountain God is a first level Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure locale (although, as it is intended for 8-10 characters, a smaller party would be better off playing it when they are a bit more experienced). The mini-scenario describes a relatively small, linear dungeon consisting of temples to two rival evil deities, and the connecting cavern system. One of these, Ira, is a chthonic earth god type, and the other, Gelihedres, is related to underworld waters and icky crawly things. The player characters, exploring the tomb of a tribal chief, are drawn into their conflict which now revolves around a renegade priest and two stolen magical relics.

This module presents individually interesting encounters and adversaries, but has significant structural weaknesses. Taken one by one, there is some intriguing imagery of barbarous burials, pagan temples and cold, water-filled caverns (with some very neat illustrations). The adventure introduces craymites, a new subterranean race of humanoid crayfish who make pretty cool low-level opponents with a disconcerting ability they can use in combat. There are curses, relics and evil rituals which fit the themes properly. However, all of this is found in a dungeon which essentially consists of a straight line between beginning and end. This is not by itself a module-breaking issue, but there are others which add up to some rather serious problems.

There is a very high likelihood over the course of the adventure that the characters are going to be affected by a powerful geas, forcing them into the plot “or else”. Even without this contrivance, there are not many interesting, meaningful choices they can make during exploration. If everything is a prepared straight path, tactics lose meaning and exploration is nonexistent. The dungeon lacks the openness and complexity which would facilitate player planning, and which is in evidence in the first product in the same module series. This is, I think, a very “2nd edition” kind of mistake. The adventure’s linear structure is also littered with roadblocks. If the party doesn’t figure out a crucial puzzle in the beginning, they will not be able to enter most of the dungeon at all, since alternate routes don’t exist, and the adventure is also clear new ones cannot be created. Later, the way forward is hidden behind a secret underwater passage within an underwater passage, which is just the place some parties will never discover.

Finally, we have a combat-laden conclusion in an underground ritual site packed to the gills with human cultists, who apparently have no problem existing in a small complex whose only access point is the aforementioned secret underwater passage, yet somehow manages to contain a large campsite with beds and active fireplaces. This is a mystery that pervades the product – how does this linear under-realm function? The only ways in are a tomb and temple dedicated to a hostile god, and a flooded waterway descending even deeper into the earth. I don’t tend to pay much attention to realism, but to put it mildly, it is puzzling.

Altogether, this module is too brief and too plain for its own good: its potential for spelunking, underground exploration and approaching situations with varied tactics is limited, and what’s left is a fairly disappointing low-level scenario. Introductory modules have a special responsibility in that they should represent the best or close to the best a game can offer. This one is very far from that standard, and I cannot recommend it.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
AL 2: Sepulcher of the Mountain God [DCC]
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