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Flotsam of the River Realms (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/10/2013 02:31:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick this off with an alchemist archetype, the Clock-borne: These alchemist replace mutagens with 1 minute per class level 20% blur-like miss chance by creating two duplicates. These duplicates also can be used in different ways at higher levels - whether by using an illusion of calm, immunity to flanking and splitting melee attacks between two targets as per mirror strike. At 6th level, the archetype gets a twisted, powerful ability - 1/day, for int-mod rounds, s/he can make a foe s/he touched AUTOMATICALLY FAIL ALL ATTACKS, instead hitting an adjacent square. AT 14th level, the miss chance is even increased to 50% and becomes 1 hour per class level. Which is hilariously overpowered. Seriously. Miss chances are POWERFUL and poison use as well as mutagens might be useful, but don't come out as equal when compared to a supernatural, undispellable miss-chance that can be maintained that long - even before the broken touch attack. No way I'd allow this archetype.



The second archetype would be the Libertine inquisitor, who gets a slightly modified skill list and a rather weird ability - spurious gaze allows as a move action an inquisitor whose cha is higher than the target's wis to treat any creature as helping flanking. They also are cloaked by undetectable alignment, 1/week use envious urge, use foes as living shields: Class level rounds per day, incurred melee or ranged damage is split equally between the inquisitor and adjacent enemies - no save, no CMB vs. CMD, no attack, swift action to activate - utterly broken. Worse, later, as an immediate action, libertines may force opponents cha-mod times per day to make a will-save or have their attacks redirected - WHAT??? And again, as a supernatural ability? No way. At 17th level, they may even redirect spells not cast defensively. Again, an mho completely overpowered, bad archetype.



The third archetype is River Gypsy, once again with a modified skill-list. River Gypsies store their spells not in a familiar, but in an arcane fetish. River Gypsies must take either Tough as Nails, Rumors and Readings or Beguiling Entertainer as first level hex and at 10th level, she may curse casters to incur minor spellblights - which is rather cool! What's not so cool is that it's called a hex in the text, but shows up as its own ability - so which is it? Regarding the aforementioned arcane fetish, 5 items can be chosen - crystal ball, scrying bowl, rune stones, harrow deck, tambourine and scarves. Nice and surely a cool archetype for Varisians/gypsy-like cultures.



Next up is the new Craft (luck charms)-skill, which unfortunately remains a one-dip-skill that lacks any incentive to invest more than a bare minimum of skill ranks. Worse, it fails to specify to what rolls the luck bonus/penalty the charms net applies, rendering this completely useless.



We also get two new magical items - first the brooch of false opportunity, which as a swift action can make a target make an AoO which automatically misses. Since it's essentially an extended feint, it should follow those rules, NOT the opposed bluff-checks-3.5-remnant the item mentions. The cap of innocuity makes foes prefer other targets to the wearer - which is nice, I guess.



After that, DMs get some food with white water rapids as CR 2 hazards - Using acrobatics or profession (sailor) and ref-saves to regain footing, the hazard is actually rather nice - though players will hate the option to lose items to the hazard.



The final page contains an awesome full color map (with grid) of a river barge - Seriously, the map is awesome! Kudos to cartographer/author Jerry Keyes - I didn't notice it had been created with dundjinni - it's that well-made!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - while I didn't notice any significant glitches, on the rules-editing side, this pdf has some issues imho. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports useful hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com.



Oh boy. Two of 3 archetypes are imho utterly and completely broken, the third being okay. Add to that one of two magic items using 3.5-rules instead of how pathfinder handles it and we have quite of a mess - which sucks - for the map and hazard are great. The player-content with the possible exception of the river gypsy, though, I wouldn't allow anywhere near my table. This essentially means I consider half of the pdf flawed, the other half ranging from ok to good. Unfortunately, though, at least for me, that's not enough - hence my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Flotsam of the River Realms (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:

Endzeitgeist: Let me start off by saying I’m a BIG FAN of your reviews. You take a lot of effort to explain the things you like and don’t like with each product, and I appreciate that both as a publisher and as a customer. Having said that, we’re sad that you didn’t like it and so I’d like to respond to some of your concerns regarding the perceived (over)power of the clock-borne and the libertine archetypes.

Concern #1: Warped Perspective is too powerful

Your comments: At 6th level, the archetype gets a twisted, powerful ability - 1/day, for int-mod rounds, s/he can make a foe s/he touched AUTOMATICALLY FAIL ALL ATTACKS, instead hitting an adjacent square.

Our response: This ability is based on the 2nd level wizard spell, “Twisted Space”.

In reality, this is not an auto-miss ability, since the randomly determined adjacent space could still include the clock-borne, an ally, or really anything else. Note also that the clock-borne must make a touch attack and activating the ability still draws an attack of opportunity. The main difference between the ability and the spell it is based on is that things other than creatures can be targeted, which seemed like a nice role-playing opportunity. In addition, the original spell has close range whereas this ability is "touch" only. In exchange, it lasts for an extra round or two.

Conclusion #1: Granting a slightly boosted 2nd level spell at 6th level isn't really overpowered after all. Is it?

Concern #2: Expanded Multifaceted is not an equivalent swap of power

Your comments: AT 14th level, the miss chance is even increased to 50% and becomes 1 hour per class level. Which is hilariously overpowered. Seriously. Miss chances are POWERFUL and poison use as well as mutagens might be useful, but don't come out as equal when compared to a supernatural, undispellable miss-chance that can be maintained that long - even before the broken touch attack.

Our response: While 50% concealment is indeed powerful, it better be at 14th level. Keep in mind that this replaces Persistent Mutagen, which grants as much as +7 AC (via greater mutagen) for exactly the same amount of time. CR appropriate creatures can bypass concealment with area attacks/spells, simple feats, low-level abilities (e.g. sniper’s eye, trick shot, etc.) and low- to mid-level spells (e.g. circle of clarity, hunter’s eye, magic missile, named bullet, true seeing, etc.).

Extending the concealment duration into hours has very little to no combat ramifications as battles rarely last more than a couple of minutes. In effect, this time extension is simply to add “cool factor” to the archetype.

Comparable spells/powers include:
* A 1st level Fetchling character gets 50% concealment in dim light, 24 hours a day.
* Displacement (3rd level wizard spell) 50% concealment.
* Obscuring mist (1st level wizard spell) 50% vs. ranged attacks.
* A 14th level Wild Shadow Ranger, 40% concealment in favored terrain.
* Darkness (2nd level wizard spell) 50% concealment.
* A 7th level Oracle with Time Flicker, 50% concealment for 7 rds.

Conclusion #2: While 50% concealment is powerful, it is commensurate with other 14th level powers and abilities; including the Supernatural, undispellable Persistent Mutagen it replaces.

Concern #3: Shield of Enemies is broken

Your comments: (U)se foes as living shields: Class level rounds per day, incurred melee or ranged damage is split equally between the inquisitor and adjacent enemies - no save, no CMB vs. CMD, no attack, swift action to activate - utterly broken.

Our response: Shield of Enemies should require the Total Defense action, not a Swift action. This change was left out in an edit round. The desired result being that the Libertine exchanges his attack to soften the blow of another attack, while “spreading the love”.

Conclusion #3: Shield of Enemies is indeed broken and will be repaired in an update.  :(

Concern #4: Dissension in the Ranks

Your comments: (A)s an immediate action, libertines may force opponents cha-mod times per day to make a will-save or have their attacks redirected - WHAT??? And again, as a supernatural ability? No way.

Our response: Dissension in the Ranks replaces a cornerstone ability (Greater Bane (Su)) so it had to be good. Is it too good? Honestly, this ability is just the modified 5th level Bard spell, “Foe to Friend”. It uses the same action (Immediate), but has a shorter range. Making it a Supernatural ability avoids attacks of opportunity and disruption, thereby keeping it in line with the swapped ability.

Conclusion #4: Granting a 5th level spell at 12th level is not overpowered or unbalanced when comparing it to 4d6 points of bane damage for 12 rounds.

Concern #5: Scapegoat is Overpowered

Your comments: At 17th level, they may even redirect spells not cast defensively. Again, an mho completely overpowered...

Our response: Scapegoat is an adaptation of the Xacarba’s (CR15) Redirect Spell (Su) ability. Is it powerful? Heck yeah! But at 17th level it better be. Keep in mind this replaces Slayer so you’re giving up the following abilities:

Destruction: +8 to all damage rolls.
Healing: Fast healing 8.
Justice: +5 to attack rolls, +10 to confirm critical hits.
Piercing: + 8 on concentration checks vs. spell resistance.
Protection:  +5 AC, +10 AC vs. critical confirmations.
Purity: +5 to all saves, +10 vs. curses, poison and disease.
Resiliency: DR5/alignment.
Resistance: Resist energy 16
Smiting: Overcome DR adamantine

Conclusion #5: With the power and flexibility of Slayer, Scapegoat is probably underpowered. In fact, there was concern that players may not select this archetype because of the weakness of this ability. But characters rarely get to 17th level, so we risked it.

Summation: We love that you took the time to really describe your concerns about this supplement and hopefully our responses alleviated some of your fears about being overpowered. Also, thanks for bringing to our attention the error with Shield of Enemies; we can only imagine how many GM’s are currently cursing us! And, thanks also for letting us know what you liked. Hopefully our next product will knock your socks off.

Best Regards,
Jerry.
Above Average Creations

PS: If we still haven’t alleviated your concerns, please let us know by clicking on “Contact Publisher” and give us an ear full! We want to create things that people really like and nothing less.

Scourger Archetype (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/02/2012 11:31:04
This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a total of 4 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After a short ToC and an introduction, we get right to the Scourger VARIANT CLASS. Much like the Antipaladin, the Scourger is a modification of an existing class, this time the Ranger, thus it irritates the hell out of me that the pdf continuously refers to it as an archetype, which it clearly is not. Essentially, the scourger exchanges the favored enemy class features for improved whipping capabilities - starting the game with the whip mastery feat, the whip damage of the scourger increases over the levels of up to 1d12 at 20th level. The scourger also gets a new whip combat style, the option to enhance their climbing and acrobatics by using their whips to lash on to objects, can use their greater whip mastery to silence foes grappled via their whips, stun or deafen a foe 1/day via the crack of their whips and a cool capstone ability that makes the scourger a fearful opponent, able to threaten any foe in reach and dealing even more damage.

The pdf also comes with 3 scourger feats, from improving handling animals, get pain effect words as an inquisitor to your spell-list or becoming an excellent slave driver. A short section also covers scourger-based profession skills and we also get two nice new magical whips.

The final stage of the pdf contains a list of whips, including reprints of 3 whips from the Core and UC as well as stats for the improved Bullock Whip, the Cat o' nine tails and the Blacksnake Whip double weapon.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though the insistence of calling this ALTERNATE CLASS an archetype annoys me. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with several hyperlinks linked to d20pfsrd for your convenience. The pdf also comes with multiple nested bookmarks - kudos, as most publishers don't add them to small pdfs!

The Scourger is a cool new alternate class that not only makes whips finally a valid option for PFRPG, but also comes with some nice little additional bits and pieces of crunch. The scourger is not overtly innovative or brilliant, but it does its job well. And then there's the extremely low price point - usually, I'd settle for a 4.5 rating and round down, but since we get all this content for less than a buck, I'll instead settle for a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Scourger Archetype (PFRPG)
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Oracle Curses (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/21/2011 05:53:18
This first offering of Above Average Creations is a 8-page pdf, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving 4 pages of content, so let's check out whether this creation is truly above average.

The pdf begins by explain how its focus is providing 10 new curses to expand the support for the Oracle class. It also provides a list of 10 curses along information into which category (like social, physical, etc.) they fall as well as their strength. The curses are surprisingly well-crafted and range from getting bleeding wounds to being ponderous (i.e. large and slow), ever-changing (constantly changing e.g. hair color and features) to being mute or hyperactive, the curses succeed in feeling like curses with the possible exception of being a hermit, which usually would sooner or later result in acclimatization to culture sooner or later.

More importantly, the curses offer some room for DM-specifics: Dependant forces you to choose an external creature without which you cannot cast - make it e.g. a child brother and we're up for some interesting roleplaying opportunities. by the way, this example was taken directly from the pdf, as each curse comes with some idea as how to implement the curse and mine new roleplaying opportunities from the curse. The impatient-curse will be nerfed by yours truly, though: Its lvl 10-ability lets you roll 3 d20s for skill-checks and take the highest result. While not being able to take 20 or retrying skill-checks is hard, the downside does not make up for this very powerful ability.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a clear, printer-friendly two-column standard. The pdf comes with no bookmarks and the art is stock-art that fits the theme. I was positively surprised by this first offering of Above Average Creations, as it truly is above average. The curses are well-written and the additional pieces of RP-advice make them valid options. While some of the design-choices (see the Impatient-curse) are a bit problematic, they are also easily fixed. the extremely low price, of course, also fractures into my final verdict. When all's said and done, I really love how the curses feel like curses, the roleplaying advice and most of the curses. Due to some rather strong mechanics like the aforementioned 3 d20s and the lack of bookmarks, I'll settle for a final score of 4 stars - a great first offering and highly recommended at the low price point.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Oracle Curses (PFRPG)
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Publisher Reply:
Thilo Graf: Thank you for taking the time and effort to supply a detailed and thoughtful review. It's reviewers like you that provide an invaluable service to both publishers and shoppers. Regarding your concern with the power of the "impatient" curse, I would ask that you give it a try before you nerf it. Keeping in mind that the net result of this curse is that the character gets two retries, rather than unlimited retries, but the retries happen in the first round. If you still find that nerfing is appropriate, please let us know what worked for you so the rest of us can try it out too! Again, thanks for an excellent review. Hopefully you get lots of use out of this product (and others that are coming soon).
Oracle Curses (PFRPG)
by john k. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2011 16:25:16
What a great idea! I wish more great ideas cost just 99 cents. Instantly fleshes out a facet of the game sorely lacking. I hope there is more to come as I am sure I will use this supplement (or its follow-ups) with each and every character.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Oracle Curses (PFRPG)
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/23/2011 20:10:11
There’s an old saying – “simple is best.” That’s an approach that’s usually approached with wariness by gamers when it comes to RPG books. After all, we’re usually happier when there are big production values and expansive coverage on a given topic. Products like Oracle Curses, however, the debut product from Above Average Creations, showcase how with good writing and a few select illustrations, a product with a minimalist approach can still produce top-quality results.

Oracle Curses presents, appropriately enough, ten new curses for the oracle class from the Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide. The author, cogently noting that the mere six curses were far too few, presents another ten curses here. Interestingly, virtually all of these are curses of personality rather than physical problems.

What I found far more intriguing, however, was the author’s bold admittance that these curses were more to create strong role-playing opportunities than wow us with new rules’ crunch. Of course, that should be true across the board, but by focusing on curses that manifest as quirks of behavior, this is maximized. Moreover, there’s a helpful chart of the ten curses (with a note saying that you can roll randomly for your curse – something I found delightful; really, should a curse be something you choose for yourself?), and notes about their “type” (if they’re physical, mental, etc.) and how “strong” they are (how much they affect the character laboring under them).

The curses themselves are as imaginative as the author clearly wants them to be, ranging from being mute to being too famous for your own good, and more. While all function well mechanically (though to different degrees – taking a skill penalty is one thing, taking bleed damage with every attack is quite another), it’s the notations after them that are what really make this product.

Like all gamers, I enjoy being given glimpses behind the proverbial curtain. In this case, after each curse, there’s a paragraph wherein the author talks to the reader directly; while for a few of the curses he discusses the impact of them in the course of the game (such as how to deal with an oracle that’s mute), most focus on different ways of having the curse manifest in-game. For example, are you a hermit because you’re just a socially awkward, or were you raised by wolves, literally? The virtue of these sections is that they break you out of the more rigid thinking suggested by the curses themselves, reminding you that you can easily reskin many of these to allow for a broader characterization.

From a technical standpoint, the book has little to present, but what it has it presents well. The artwork is all historical pieces that are reused here (with a notation on where to find them and more online on the book’s credits page). There are no bookmarks, but in an eight-page book, that’s not really an indictment.

Unfortunately, the book is not without its share of problems. These aren’t faults of the content (though be warned, one curse does draw on some of the material in the GameMastery Guide, though that’s in the Pathfinder SRD now anyway), but of the book’s technical presentation. To be more specific: copy-and-paste doesn’t work the way it should – the words are copied in columns rather than lines. Likewise, there’s no declaration of Product Identity or Open Game Content; and the OGL Section 15 doesn’t list the Advanced Player’s Guide or GameMastery Guide.

Of course, these are problems with virtually no practical impact when it comes to using this book in your game. If you’re planning on playing an oracle, do yourself a favor and spend a dollar to pick up this product. The material here is as inspiring as it is expertly-presented, and gives some much-needed breadth to the curse of the oracle class. Unfortunately, Above Average Creations may need to change their name, since if this first book is any indication, their creations are excellent.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Publisher Reply:
Shane, thanks for the fantastic review! A positive review is always appreciated, but when it involves a "first effort", it is doubly so. You clearly saw our vision and that's very gratifying. At the same time, you didn't pull any punches on where we made mistakes, which will greatly help us to improve. If you don't write reviews for a living, you should. Again, heartfelt thanks from all of us at Above Average Creations!
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