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Puppetmaster
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2013 02:51:21
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, ~11/2 a page blank, leaving us with 21 1/2 pages of content for this new base-class, so let's take a look!



Mechanically, Puppetmasters get d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with blowgun, bolas, daggers, handaxes, nets, whips, light and heavy crossbows and light armor, not incurring any spell failure chance while wearing it. They get 1/2 BAB-progression, ggod ref and will-saves as well as access to arcane spells of up to 6th level, cast spontaneously via Cha. Puppetmaster gain a VERY interesting roleplaying ability - doublespeak allows them to speak class-level minutes per day and have different creatures hear different things, choosing between the two layers his language carries for each creature, allowing him e.g. to parlay with foes while discussing preventive-strike strategies with his allies. He also starts game with a workshop that greatly increases his prowess when creating dolls and puppets when he's in it. Puppetmasters are also excellent manipulators, gaining bonuses that improve on Bluff, Perform (Puppetry) and other puppet-related skills. The defining characteristic of the Puppetmaster, though, would be his Font of Wonder, a pool that starts off at 6 and goes up to a whopping 215 at 20th level.

These points can be used to specialize in one of three different broad areas of expertise: Animisn, Marionettes, Rod Puppets as well as into miscellaneous areas. Puppetmasters gain access to one of these basic traditions at first level and may later pay 10 wonder point to gain the base access to one of the other areas, with further abilities/specializations costing additional wonder points. Each level, they may reassign one of their powers, though unwise choices may have unpleasant consequences, prerequisites no longer met resulting in a permanent negative level, making careful planning of these points of tantamount importance.

Let's start with Animism: Upon choosing this path, the Puppetmaster gains int-mod wonder points to be spent exclusively in this category, but more importantly, they gain a doll-companion - Pinoccio gone bad if you will. And yes, that means they could create dolls that could serve as a mount. If such an animated doll is destroyed, it can 1/day be restored to half hit points via the Craft (Puppet)-skill at 5 x level HP per day, with each HP requiring 1 round of repairs. Furthermore, unlike traditional companions, they require investment of more wonder points to level up, but if you invest up to 118 wonder points at 20th level, you get attributes of 30, 18,14,10, 10 to assign as well as 30 skill points. Animated dolls have up to +5 saves and 3/4 BAB-progression. Beyond these basic ways to advance the prowess of the doll, the dolls are also different depending on the base material they're crafted from, with textiles being e.g. faster to repair, but resulting in a starting Int of 8 (and one skill point less), while Ivory puppets get more skills per HD, but actually cost 50 sp per point of repair. Bone, clay, horn, plant husks, porcelain, way and wood are also possible materials, all with benefits and flaws - kudos! A total of 45 (!!!) customization options to invest your wonder-points are provided, costing between 1 and 14 points and ranging from minor natural armor and the varying armor proficiencies to pincer, tentacle, talon etc. attacks and even sneak attack, pounce and complete magic immunity, the puppets counting as supernatural beings. Now unlike the often rather creepy summoner eidolons, puppet-customizations often are restricted to themes, making it e.g. impossible for a puppet to get both pincers and tentacles at the same type and requiring a base-form of the puppet that reflects creatures that conceivably could make use of the ability - a imho great way of blending fluff with crunch to ensure balance. By paying Puppetmaster level times 4 points, they may also bring an abandoned (due to refunding of powers etc.) doll back to life, which is a nice idea indeed, as is that the dolls remain active for a short while after the Puppetmaster has died, making room for dramatic roleplaying opportunities and interesting hooks.



The second discipline is completely different and grants dex-modifier wonder points - masters of marionettes. Holding a marionette requires one hand, manipulating it two hands - but what can they do? Essentially, they can force a creature of the type depicted by the marionette to make a will-save or be subject to his machinations: he can force the creature to do make an attack on his behalf, with d20 + Puppetmaster class level + dex-mod being rolled instead of the creature's own. While conscious actions like power attack, arcanas or vital strike cannot be applied to the attack, passive bonuses like from weapon specialization still apply. Being underwater and its penalties to manipulation are covered, but NOT whether the subjects can be manipulated into attacking themselves. That's a flaw in my book. Generally, though, these abilities can be put in two categories: Abilities that allow the beneficent manipulation of allies to grant them rerolls, usurp mind-control (or make sleeping characters act as if awake) or offensive, with iterative attacks of controlled creatures, forcing movement (for better or for worse), manipulate allies into casting spells and even make them stronger/grant them the ability to fly or breathe water via his mystic puppets. Overall, a VERY interesting take on an uncommon buff/debuff-focus.



Finally, puppet masters get the option to employ rod puppets to tell stories, some of which require two rod puppets or rod puppets of a specific type. One hand is required per puppet. When taking up this profession, the Puppetmaster gains cha-mod wonder points and the effects of the story target all creatures within 30 ft that can see or hear him. In order for them to work, the puppet master has to succeed at respective story-checks, i.e. d10 + class level + cha-mod. The high teh ten-digit of the check, the greater the respective benefits. Ranging from 4 to 15 points in required wonder points, the myths and stories are perhaps closest to bardic buffs, though e.g. the interesting 1-in-20-chance to not expend spells, spell-like abilities and X/day-abilities that even takes shadow jump and similar abilities into account and some of the others are distinct enough to make these stand out sufficiently.



Finally, there are miscellaneous ways of spending wonder points not aligned with the 3 disciplines, granting enhancements to dolls, more spells known, a backpack to stow and retrieve puppets faster, gain a synergy AoO with his puppets and carry a tiny workshop around that shrinks them - and yes, rules for falling out/being inside while the replica is shaken are covered!



The pdf also covers the Puppetmaster's spell-list as well as options for having to still learn the craft, stats for non-animated puppets, craft DCs and required materials as well as the option to create puppets that are beyond masterworks, remarkable puppets.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - though I stumbled across a wording during my lecture of this pdf, the class is mostly concisely phrased and thankfully unambiguous in its rules, though careful reading is admittedly required due to the complex nature of the class. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' parchment-style background in beige with its b/w-thorn-borders and the full color artwork depicted on the cover is neat. We also get 2 b/w-pencil drawings that are original as well. The pdf comes with full bookmarks and e.g. the spells are bookmarked in a nice unobtrusive way to d20pfsrd.com.



Now granted, this class is not for everyone. The Puppetmaster can easily be considered wonky if in the wrong hand - but he could also be creepy as hell, beneficent, tragic - the concepts are wide in scope and the execution rather professional. Make no mistake, this is an advanced class if I've ever seen one, making the summoner pale in comparison, not in power, but in options. While the wonder pool could have used a slightly more concise explanation on how it works, after you got the hang of it, it indeed is a cool resource that offers a wide flexibility between pets, manipulation and buffing, making the Puppetmaster a class that will result in widely varying playing experiences. The mechanics and the concepts used by this class are complex, but also rewarding in the benefits they grant as well as in the style of the respective abilities - if you've ever played Metal Gear Solid 4 and considered Screaming Mantis creepy - well, here's the chance to play something akin to that!

Mechanically and balance-wise, this definitely is one of the most interesting classes I've seen come out of PFRPG and one that strays quite a bit from established class designs - and is better off for it. The one thing I'd criticize is the lack of true capstone abilities for the respective sub-crafts, but in the end, that is a minor flaw. So, apart from minor complaints about more concise wording all's great? Yes. Yes, indeed. The Dreadfox lead-designer Reid Stewart has learned to take environmental factors into account (though I would have loved to see these influencing puppets based on material) and as a pdf that introduces the base-class, this works very well. So much so, in fact, that I'm not even missing archetypes or supplemental feats. The class is varied enough to work for now without them and provide a plethora of different gaming experiences. The price point, when compared to e.g. the Ritualist, is also more in line, offering about twice as many options as that one. While still not cheap at 5 bucks, the class is one that should be considered worth the investment if the idea remotely intrigues you. I'll even go so far as to ignore the minor hick-up that fails to specify whether manipulated creatures may attack themselves and use the default "reroll save at +4-solution" established by enchantments. My final verdict - due to the minor hick-ups here and there and the price-point 4.5 stars, but still gladly rounded up to 5 this time.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Puppetmaster
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Swordmaster
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2013 02:44:47
This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 empty page, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 19 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Dex-based combatants have always been popular in style, but it is a fact that in d20, the fencing/duelist/swashbuckling characters often felt a bit off. Dervish Dance might be powerful, but it is limited in both fluff and execution and does not manage to offset the investment when compared to a similar str-based build. The Swordmaster seeks to remedy that by providing a dex-based front-line fighter. Does it succeed?

Mechanically, the class comes with d8, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial swords and the quarterstaff as well as light armors, but not shields, full BAB, good fort- and ref-saves and two values - the intelligent value and the magic value, with the former beginning at 500 GP at second level and going up to 42K GP and the latter starting at 2000 GP at third level and going up to 200K GP at 20th level. These values are crucial, since swordmasters use a partnered blade. They start play with a masterwork sword of their choosing that gains sentience. While usually in line with the swordmaster, it may up to 3 rounds subvert actions of the swordmaster (and vice versa). Changing partnered blades results in 2 negative levels that cannot be cured (but also don't kill the swordmaster). As soon as it becomes intelligent, the blade also gains enhancements to mental attributes whenever its magical "plus X bonus" is enhanced. The blade also gets an ability akin to rite publishing's enhancement of the bladebound archetype, to have the blade devour magic from items it destroys- the second value I mentioned before reflects the blade's capacity to store this power and translate it into enchantments. Also rather interesting is the fact that the swordmaster may, starting at 5th level, treat all swords as intelligent items (There's a hidden darkness in this blade...).

If d8 and the minimalist list of proficiencies were not ample clue for you, swordmasters also start the game with two abilities that are designed to keep them viable on the frontlines, both tied to wearing light or no armor and no shields and only a single sword (sorry, no two-weapon fighting). Tactful Deflections allow the swordmaster to add +1 to AC per swordmaster level as a deflection bonus, up to a maximum of his Int-modifier. This bonus does not work when flatfooted or stack with the duelist's canny defense, though. Tactful strikes allow the swordmaster to use his dex-modifier instead of his str-modifier on attack rolls with swords. Instead, the class may not add their str-modifier to weapon damage, though if they incur a str-penalty, half of that is applied to attack rolls. It's an interesting choice to not have dex apply to damage as well - at least to regular attacks. Sword Arts deal additional damage equal to dex-mod or in the case of a 2-handed sword, 1 1/2 times dex-mod and may not apply str-mod/power attack bonuses to their sword arts damage.

The true meat of the swordmaster-class, though, would be his sword arts. At first level, they start with three of these special attacks and every level after that, they learn a new sword art (or advanced sword art starting level 8). Sword Arts require different actions, from none to a full round and some, though not all, require a trigger to be set off and/or a performance on your part, i.e. for example a 5-foot step, an attack with a -2 penalty etc. Many of these sword arts also have a window, that is upon meeting the performance criteria, they have to be used in a specific window of time. Now the sword arts per se are interesting - they are grouped in three different categories: Openers, Sequiturs and Finishers. Unless otherwise noted, to perform a sequitur, the character must have successfully hit the opponent to be targeted with an opener, and to perform a finisher, he has to follow up on a sequitur. To give you an example, let's take a look at the initial three sword arts every swordmaster starts with: The opener allows as a move action to feint a creature within reach that can see you. This opens a window for you until the end of your next turn to follow up with a sequitur that is an attack versus the feinted opponent and deals the sword art's damage (i.e. with the dex-modifier). Succeeding at the sequitur allows the swordmaster to have another window until the end of his next turn and follow up with a finisher as a full-round action that is resolved as an attack that deals double the sword art's regular damage. Attentive readers may glean where this is headed - openers are usually weaker than regular attacks, sequiturs are usually on par with them and finishers are more powerful than regular attacks to offset the requirement of setting them up via two attacks.
Design-wise rather interesting, especially due to the fact that the 10 openers provided include ways to get the opener out of the way faster: Opportunist's Feint, for example, allows the swordmaster to feint a creature hit by an ally that flanks it with the swordmaster as an immediate action. Cunning Swordplay allow you to make an opposed intelligence check versus a foe - if the target attacks you or provokes an AoO from you, you may execute a readied sequitur against the foe before the attack is resolved. Another interesting one is "Press in" - as a reaction to being hit by a creature within 10 foot, you may opt to make the hit a critical hit against you to move 5 foot towards the target. It also counts as a opener as a free action, allowing you to perform a sequitur versus the enemy. Also interesting: If you manage to use move actions for 2 rounds to talk with a foe and bait a foe, you may on the third round execute an immediate sequitur, while still allowing you to perform other sword arts while talking to the foe. Also interesting: "Whirling Defense", while not stacking with combat expertise or total defense, allows you to use a standard action to gain +4 deflection bonuses to AC and an additional +4 AC against the creature that missed you. Have I mentioned the option to throw swords?

Among the 10 sequiturs, we have the option to move half your speed through threatened squares of a target with a bonus of 1/2 class level to acrobatics, allowing for quick repositioning that does not provoke AoOs. Measured Strike also features an interesting tactical choice - attack foes at +2 and increase the critical modifier by +1, but only inflict half sword art damage. Another sequitur allows you to react to killing a creature to make 3 5-foot steps toward another opponent. Shallow Cut is yet another intriguing sequitur - upon a successful hit, the target may opt to take a 5-foot step to avoid the damage, but if he/she/it does so, you gain +4 to atk and AC against the target until the end of your next turn. A thus dodged attack can still counts as successful, meaning it can be followed up by finishers...

10 finishers are provided and allow e.g. to do an attack that deals half sword art damage as a free action, add half class level bleed damage to your hits and if you manage to drop 10 feet on your target (Up the walls-psionic warriors will love this) ad incur an AoO from all except the target, you may deal triple damage, but also become staggered for one round. Other finishers allow you to make a bull rushing finisher that doubles as a sequitur for yet another finisher. There are also full attack-based finishers that allow the swordmaster to stack +2 damage bonuses, CMD & CMB, AC and initiative-increase, with the latter potentially allowing you to act twice, by coming in at the bottom of the initiative-ladder.

Among the advanced sword arts, we get 11 openers, 11 sequiturs and 11 finishers - and they are interesting and advanced for a reason. The arcing draw opener for example allows the character in question to draw the partnered blade from a sheathed position to make an attack roll and apply the results to up to 3 creatures, then make a 5-foot step. And just as I get ready to yell "unbalanced", I read that the opener only does half damage. Also damn cool: The opener deathless resolve lets you stand up and arm yourself with a slashing/piercing object in range, allowing you to ignore the disabled, unconscious and even DEAD conditions until you fail to hit and deal damage to the target. Again - the potential for abuse is offset via clever balancing - during this time, you cannot regain hitpoints! Have I mentioned the option to impale foes with a sequitur (potentially abducting them via shadow walk etc.) and allowing them to inflict con-damage to themselves to break free from the impaling? Where I'm honestly not 100% comfortable is with Keen Strike - the sequitur must follow a critical threat or hit and increases your weapon's threat-range by your int-mod. This is slightly too much for my conservative tastes when combined with wide threat-range builds, at least for a sequitur. The more powerful advanced finisher Dance of Storms feels more appropriate for this benefit - it grants the same crit-range enhancement as well as the bonuses from the non-advanced Dance-finishers, provided you have them.

The pdf also offers advice on choosing sword arts, has an expansive two-page table of the sword arts and a sample page to show how to organize sword arts.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' 2-column standard with its thorn-covered borders and the pdf comes extensively bookmarked. The original full cover artwork and two 2 b/w-line drawings are nice.

This pdf is not a cheap supplement for a new class, but the Dreadfoxes have learned - we get more content than in e.g. the Gypsy and Ritualist-supplements - though comparatively still not that much. I didn't expect to like this class - I bought the Tome of 9 Swords back in the day and loved the idea, but hated the execution. The Swordmaster is not as mystical, being in fact rather down to earth and potentially fitting for low-magic settings (just get rid of the blade's intelligence) and honestly impressed me: The building on attacks, the sequence of openers, sequiturs and finishers should make the swordmaster not only immensely fun to play, it also brings added tactics to melee you wouldn't expect, making it closer to how actual sword fighting works - and I happen to have some experience in that regard, so kudos indeed!

Better yet, the sword arts lend themselves to further expansions that should make adding more to the fray to represent different schools easy. I could e.g. see more magical schools as their very own book beyond the upcoming supplement for this class and the puppetmaster. And then there's the fact that only one of the numerous arts rubs me the wrong way, meaning that I actually not only consider this class a rewarding and intriguing gaming experience, but in fact also consider it balanced. This is, hands down, my favorite Dreadfox Games-product so far, offering a long overdue, smart and complex melee class that should fit the tastes of many players out there. My final verdict will reflect that I consider this class not only smart, but in fact brilliant and clock in at a well-deserved 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Swordmaster
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Swordmaster
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/15/2013 08:38:32
This is an elegant attempt to bring some finesse to swordplay in the Pathfinder RPG, by empowering a character to develop his combat capability with the sword to a high level. This is symbolised by this skillful fellow using Dexterity bonuses rather than Strength ones, the triumph of skill over brute force.

Whilst being skilled in the use of swords in general, the Swordmaster forges a special relationship with a single 'Partner' sword that becomes an intelligent item in its own right - and if he loses it, he gains temporary negative levels until it's back in his hands!

To encapsulate the finesse a true swordmaster brings to his art, Swordmasters do not just 'roll to hit' when engaging in combat. Instead, they study and use sequences of moves beginning with an Opener, followed by one or more Sequiturs and ending with a Finisher. These special moves are known collectively as Sword Arts and are learned as the Swordmaster gains levels. Some Openers require specific triggers, and they generally establish certain conditions which hold good for at least your next move if not the whole sequence that follows. They are normally effected by making a normal attack roll, but the result of successful performance depends on the sword art move made; and normally each move in a sequence has to be successful before you can continue with the next one (although higher-level Swordmasters gain an ability that lets them ignore failed moves).

More experienced Swordmasters have a selection of Advanced Sword Arts to choose from as well. At any time you are levelling up, you may choose to reliquish a Sword Art (or Advanced Sword Art if you are able to learn them) that you know and replace it with another, thus allowing for a flexible repertoire of moves as you develop your own distinctive style.

It may sound a bit complex and is best used by people who really enjoy the cut and thrust of combat and relish the opportunity to play it out. As well as making the Swordmaster a formidable opponent in a brawl, it opens out all manner of possibilities in developing fencing academies and swordplay as a sport rather than a matter of life and death... I think I'll go try this out on my husband who is not only another role-player but a good fencer in real life!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of Card & Salt
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/21/2013 08:11:32
This supplement for the Gypsy and Ritualist-classes is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's check this out!

Note: Since this pdf provides supplemental material for both Gypsy and Ritualist, I'm not going to get into details of these classes, assuming you're familiar with them. If you want an overview of them, please check out my reviews of the two classes.
One of my main gripes for both the Gypsy and Ritualist-classes was at first the lack of supplemental material and this pdf seeks to remedy that, so let's first take a look at the new tools the Gypsy gets!

First we get 21 new auguries which start off with the uncanny knowledge of knowing when an ally out of sight is in trouble (but no details etc.) to more crunchy ones. A weird one would be Fateful insurgence, which allows a gypsy to grant an ally in sight a reroll of a d20 as an immediate action by cutting her deck. I'm not sure whether there is a minimum number of required cards in the deck for this to work, though. The old conventional rule would be a minimum of 4 cards to be cut, while another suggests up to 10. I couldn't find any specifications/standard regarding card-games and cutting cards and thus can't assume whether the ability still works when the gypsy has no more cards left or only a few of them. While I assume the ability still works for as few as two cards, I'm not sure. A clarification would be in order here.
Figurative Prognostication allows you to add elemental spell to your cast by sacrificing cards sans increasing the casting time. Here, it would have been nice to have it specified that the metamagic-feat is meant - while evident from the content, the lack of visual clues in the ability's sentence structure first pointed my towards another ability I remembered. The same btw. holds true for all the auguries that allow them to add metamagic feats - a slight improvement in layout/wording would add to the usability of the pdf.

Now, another augury allows the gypsy to name a card with a casting time of an immediate action or less and draw cards until she has it, discarding the cards she drew till then, making the ability essentially an improved version of "manifest destiny" from the gypsy-pdf. Speaking of said ability - there also is an augury that allows the gypsy to 1/day admit that her usage of manifest destiny (or its derivative Imperative destiny, I gather, though I'm not sure - the pdf fails to specify) was wrong and add the discarded cards back and reshuffle her deck, though its eats up the remainder of her actions.
However, beyond these auguries, there also are some rather cool ones: Justice for example allows the gypsy to create a special card that allows her to modify an ongoing magical effect to include willing or unwilling allies. I assume the gypsy has to correctly identify the effect via spellcraft, though the ability only mentions "see". Gypsies now may also add up to Wis-modifiers marked cards via an augury, allowing slightly greater control, something players of the class will definitely appreciate. They may now also to increase ally's caster levels for character level hours by a whopping +3 (!!!) or find out pieces of trivia about characters that actually grants them bonuses to attacks. "The Lovers" is also an interesting card, granting two creatures in sight the same teamwork feat, but only when used in tandem and for the respective other part of the duo. The World is also an interesting card in that it always is at the bottom of the deck and can only be drawn as the last card, granting a +2 bonus to Con. However, rather weirdly, the text of the card refers to an increase of atk-bonuses of +1 per non-gypsy-level the character has. However, said reference is not specified before, making me wonder how exactly this ability is supposed to work. I gather it grants +1 per non-gypsy-level of the character, but I'm not sure. We also get a total of 5 different greater auguries, which allow them to create a secondary deck, pinpoint locations of her party's members, spontaneously fabricate a card from her deck and even force a reroll back as far as wis-mod rounds in the past - potentially ending or saving lives. Rather cool, though a potential nightmare for DMs.

The Gypsy now also may choose from multiple new archetypes, with the first being the Harbinger of Ruin: These harbingers may not add abjuration or conjuration-spells to their deck and treat any spell not of the evocation and necromancy-schools as if it occupied one spell level higher and her augury and greater augury-selection is rather limited. She may, however, draw up to 5 cards to her hand as a standard action and may return their hands into their deck when casting an evocation or necromancy-spell, making them essentially more versatile in their limited range and focused on destroying foes. The second archetype is the diametrically opposed Harbinger of Hope, excluding evocation and necromancy-spells from the deck. Abjuration and conjurations are enhanced in an analogue to the harbinger of ruin and the archetype also gets access to the ability to discard abjuration and conjuration-spells to channel positive or negative energy, but exclusively for healing purposes. The Harbinger of Deceit works in much the same way, omitting divination and transmutation spells and treating one the option to treat any card as if it was one chosen spell of the charm, figment, compulsion or glamer-subschools, to be determined once each day. Harbingers of Change also follow this schematic, but can't cast Illusion and enchantment spells, instead focusing on divination and transmutation as well as gaining the option to change a drawn transmutation-spell into another transmutation spell of the same level. This concludes the gypsy's section and has it end with 3/4 of a page blank.

Now what new options does the ritualist get? Well, first of all, Ritualists may now substitute one domain spell with another of the same level per 4 ranks in the Knowledge (Planes)-skill. Interesting mechanic and rather innovative and then there's an innovation I really like: The notion of ritual mastery. First of all, every level, he main forego favored class options for one point of ritual mastery OR instead of learning a new ritual, gain 5 mastery points. But what can be done with mastery points? Essentially, you assign these mastery points to a specific ritual and for every ten mastery points, you can add an effect depending on the ritual, reflecting your growing familiarity with the ritual. Adjured Mantle for example increases the miss chance to 30%, conquest of ages enhances the buff for one item by a further +1. I really like this kind of unconventional "metamagic" for rituals that shows lengthy dedication and growing skill with the ritual. Two thumbs up for all of these options!

Now Ritualists also get access to Symbology: Essentially, there are good, neutral and evil symbols and the ritualist may discover new ones for every 5 ranks in Knowledge (Religion) - they can spplement their regular rituals with symbols appropriate to the bound deity's alignment and depending on the complexity of the symbol, we get an enhancement ranging from +1 to +3 to ritualist level, depending on a ratio which has to be calculated. Two pages are devoted to sample symbols, though again we get 3/4 of a page blank space between the rules for the symbols and the depictions of the symbols. The Hexagram-Symbol used to bind evil deities include erupting fire, but I don't get why not all symbols get some kind of description like this.

After that, we are introduced to a wide variety of new feats, with feats of the (Fate)-descriptor being available to the Gypsy, but with the maximum of one feat per Cha-score over 10. (Ritual)-feats may be applied to rituals, one such feat per 5 points of mastery invested into a ritual may be applied to a given ritual. Artful Draws for example allows a gypsy to draw a card as a free action instead of a swift action. What I don't get is a feat like Brilliant Wits: For -6 to Initiative, the Gypsy can make a steal attempt prior to making the roll. Does this mean the gypsy is no longer flat-footed? Can it be used preemptively when there's no combat yet, but ensured combat on a missed attempt? There is also a feat that lets you feint with sleight of hand instead of bluff to prevent an AoO instead of regular feinting benefits. There's also a feat that allows you to add a blast of negative energy when using symbology to bind evil deities.
On the weird side, we also get the option to gain a bonus on diplomacy, intimidate and sense motive vs. a creature whose fate you have read, but only 20% of the result of your Profession (Fortuneteller)-check - weird design choice that could use so streamlining. Speaking of streamlining: "Expert Craftsman" allows you to "Creature up to 3 cards per day."[sic!] Standards like a feat granting an additional ritual and greater ritual, a feat that allows you to cover more space with rituals, buff or debuff others as a side-effect of using rituals. Ritualists of the Circle may now join in a type of coven, supporting one another, though the feat also contains a typo. There also are two feats that allow a gypsy to take a look at the first card of the deck prior to drawing it 2/day or (5/day, respectively) - required for minimum successful planning. There is also a multitude of feats to enhance the ritualist's thralls. Again, at the end of the section, we get 3/4 of a page blank.
After that, we get 2 pages of feat-tables and then, traits: A total of 16, to be precise and they can be considered good choices for the two classes, though, again, the section ends with 1/2 a blank page.

The final section of the pdf depicts equipment. Equipment that is REQUIRED for the Ritualist to properly work in many campaigns. In my first review-iteration of the ritualist-class, I complained about salts dissolving in water etc. Now, we get clinging, aquatic and aerial salts as well as 7 new thuribles and dye to help a gypsy fit foreign cards into her deck. Again, the final page of the section is 3/4 blank and the final page contains just one weapon and the price-weight-list of one item, making this page essentially blank.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting is below the standard I've come to expect from Dreadfox Games - there are quite a few editing glitches, plural glitches and similar errors in here, some of which make the rules presented herein harder to understand than necessary. Layout adheres to DFG's thorn-bordered two-column standard ad the sketchy b/w-artworks are nice, the cover artwork stellar. HOWEVER: We get quite a bunch of (almost) blank pages that simply are unnecessary drains on the printer (these pages still have the border, remember!) and worse, feel like they artificially lengthen the pdf. The pdf comes with internal links and nested bookmarks.

I had high hopes when buying this pdf - more control for the gypsy? Cool! And generally, yes, there now is more control for the class, but still not enough to properly plan. Worse, mechanics like cutting decks etc. remain poorly defined within the context of the deck of divinations, lacking necessary hard guidelines. And the Ritualist: I LOVE this base-class. I really do. In fact, it's one of my favorite PFRPG-classes by any 3pps, coming only in after some offerings by RiP and SGG. In my game, the class encountered problems with aquatic environments, aerial combat or combat while climbing and the new salts remedy these environmental factors. What really annoys me, though, is that they are included in here instead of adding them to the base pdf, as they essentially are required for the class to work in these environments. The new mastery-ability and increased versatility with domain spells are awesome and cool.

BUT.

I showed these my player (who has a temporarily retired ritualist character) and he started swearing. Why? Because the ability essentially is not an addition - it requires you to build your ritualist back from the ground up, relearn rituals, think about which to replace, how much mastery to apply etc. Easy to implement is something completely different. And then there are the symbols. I'm a fan of the idea, but honestly, the Cruth Galdr-runes from RiP's "Secrets of Forgotten Magic Items" work MUCH better since the way to determine how the symbols work includes a wonky metric to calculate the final bonus they grant and they essentially lack default effects apart from the evil hexagram (which might offend some people). Why not make unique symbols that provide unique enhancements? The idea is awesome, the execution feels clumsy.
Unfortunately, the same can be said for some of the feats that could require some additional clarification. Oh, and then there are the gypsy-archetypes, which essentially are one and the same archetype with one alibi-signature-ability slapped on them . Worse, these school-specialists are not that interesting in design.
Why. Why does Dreadfox Games do this to me? Honestly, I was so STOKED that they support their classes. I was looking immensely forward to more fodder for the two classes and what I got in the end is...well. At least not all bad. While a bunch of the gypsy's auguries, feats etc. could use clearer wordings ad the archetypes are bland at best, I do consider this pdf in slightly improving the gypsy - but not going far enough. The Ritualist gains a stellar mechanic - that requires existing characters to be rebuilt from scratch. And a hastily and half-heartedly implemented cool idea with the symbols, that could easily have been awesome, had more space been devoted to it.

Dreadfox Games-releases are usually rather polished, with only rarely any ambiguities creeping in - not so this pdf. All in all, with almost 5 pages of blank space, editing glitches, rather ungraceful mechanics and awkward wordings, this pdf gives me the distinct impression of being rushed and, as loathe as I'm to say it, of being slightly sloppy. Instead of making the two classes more complex, adding, choices, etc., this pdf feels more like a revision that lacks the basic content it is based on - essentially as if you released an expanded or revised version (like SGG did with the Vanguard-class, bumping it from 1 to 5 stars) of the class, but sold it as a separate pdf. These are not necessarily options, they completely change how the classes are built. if this were a free enhancement or priced at a more moderate price-point, I'd be willing to cut it some slack, but with less than 25 pages of netto-content remaining (sans blank pages etc.), editing glitches, awkwardly worded abilities etc. and wonky mechanics, Dreadfox Games cannot, in contrast to most of their releases, claim that the quality of the content justifies the price-point.

Which is a DAMN, FRIGGIN' PITY. Why are there no mechanics to retroactively gain mastery points/retrain/reassign mastery points? Why are the symbols so under-developed? The ideas are so great and the execution so lackluster it hurts. 5 bucks for a base-class, 5 for this supplement. If you buy both base-classes (which you need to if you want to get all out of this pdf) and the pdf, then you've just spent 15 bucks. To give you an idea: For the same price you can get 5 (!!!) classes by SGG or RiP. 5. Or the Godling-bundle PLUS enough bucks to buy a module by Frog God Games or Adventureaweek.com. Or a Midgard Player's Guide. (Btw. - 36 pages in full color with original artworks...) Now if the content was streamlined, top-notch and cool, I'd still happily slap that 5 stars and seal on the pdf. Well, it isn't. Instead of the liberating assault for the classes, this pdf, while enhancing them, falls short of the pretense of premium excellence set by DFG. I'll give the ritualist another shot with masteries, for these, the items and a couple of the feats (though these are terribly often basic run-of-the-mill, design-wise) are ok. The items, as mentioned, are practically required for the classes to work. But the rest of the new content fell horribly short of what it was supposed to do and achieve.

I've fought long and hard with myself on how to rate this and honestly, I was contemplating the 1-star-rating. But that would be unfair. While this pdf NEEDS to get back into the oven and be redesigned/streamlined - massively - it still has a (small) Coup de Ville at the bottom of this crackerjackbox. Hence, I'll settle for a final verdict of 2 stars IF you own both classes and can use all the pdf. IF masteries intrigue you and IF you're not willing to handwave aquatic salts etc. Fans of the classes might give this a try, but damn do I hope Dreadfox Games completely revises this. The pdf has all the potential of 5 stars and squanders it all.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of Card & Salt
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Grimoire Repartus
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/07/2012 04:28:30
This installment of Dreadfox Games' Grimoire-series is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's check out their take on abjuration-spells!

After about 7 pages of spell-lists by character-classes, we delve into the respective spells, kicking of with the Aegis of Energy-spell, which adds temporary hit points to curing effects via positive or negative energy effects. The very second spell this pdf offers, Aerial Mantle, makes AoOs automatically miss the target and depending on the strength of the wind surrounding the target, have their attacks rebounded on them with a bonus depending on wind strength. Druids get an significantly-enhanced spell duration, which is nice. What isn't nice at all is that the spell is essentially ruined by the fact that it does not specify whether it needs aforementioned, at least "strong" winds, to work at all or whether it conjures the storm winds up as a partial effect of the casting. In the end, we don't know and in my humble opinion, such a limiting factor would be necessary, since without it an auto-miss for ALL AoOs is overpowered. Rather interesting and cool is Arcane Gravity: A spell that lets you temporarily seal whole spell-levels off: If you chose to e.g. seal of level 3, you can't cast level 1, 2 or 3 spells. As a trade-off, your effective HD for purposes of spells like cloudkill etc., is increased by the value of the highest spell-level you chose to seal off. VERY cool!

Not so cool: Axis of Resistance: The subject's SR is increased by +2 for every source of SR he/she/it has in excess of 1. Stacking SR via a spell, even if it is such a minor stacking, is a design-decision I can't really get behind. While probably at the top-most a bonus of +6 or 8 will be achieved, it's a typical powergaming-enhancing type of design. Corpus Examinus is a witch-spell of unique iconicity and ranks among the best I've seen in a while: It allows you to painlessly sever parts of your body to control them as separated entities with Hp you determine, abilities depending on the body part you chose to extract. A table e.g. lists options to use evil eye via extracted eyes etc. Better yet: The options of regeneration etc. and the interaction with the spell are taken into account. Unfortunately, there are also problematic spells: The cantrip (elven) sobriety eliminates the effects of alcohol. I've seen that one before, in Rite Publishing's 101 0-level spells, and I already hated the idea there - an end of the hangover plots, of drinking contests and a major detriment to grittiness and the results of alcohol consumption. Violent drunken guy heading your way? Just cantrip him! An ok idea with problematic repercussions for a campaign-world's internal logic.

Field of Disintegration, on the other hand, is rather smart: You conjure a field that is very detrimental towards weapons that hit it, resulting in a lot of broken weapons and damage for those employing natural weapons - but before you start screaming unbalanced: With some sharpening after combat, the negative effects of this spell can actually be negated, which is rather neat! Hand of Rescue would be anotehr winner: Reducing the weight of the target creature, it even allows you to potentially throw the respective character a short distance, acting as a crunchy representation of the iconic rescuing catch of an almost-plunging-to-death-comrade. Luminore's Refractive Shell would be another interesting spell that eliminates invisibility and blurring effects in a small area, but cannot be used offensively - interesting, clever, neat! There also are two rather nice spells that allow you to create a reservoir of positive or negative energy respectively, acting as a kind of limited battery of the energy by foregoing healing by the energy. Repel Malignancy makes for yet another interesting idea, creating an impassable barrier that cannot be crossed by anyone who uttered any negative word to you in the last 24 hours, even if the words were meant as a form of criticism. There is also an interesting ritual herein, like the antipaladin's royal impunity, which sacrifices a virgin over 12 hours and sells one's soul to a fiend, but grants immunity to infernal powers exerted by non-noble fiends.

Two spells also are interesting in that their respective powers are tied to the time of the day, which is interesting, even though it requires some tracking on the player's part. There also are spells in here to suppress magical traps temporarily and a smart capstone level 9 druid-spell that makes one transmutation film essentially impossible to dispel, but inflicting damage on you if the spell in question would otherwise be dispelled. Speaking of cool interaction with transmutation: There's also a spell that potentially adds harmless transmutation effects to other creatures beyond the primary target.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' two-column standard with its thorny borders and parchment-style background. There are no artworks herein, but the pdf is extensively bookmarked.
This collection of abjuration spells is interesting once again - displaying DFG's creativity with far-out spell concepts, the content herein is often bold in mechanics and imaginative in design. Not always, though: Some spells, as with many of the Grimoire-books, are variations of already existing ones. And in others, creativity backfires and can potentially create logic bugs in your setting - handling these with care is of tantamount importance. That being said, the majority of the content herein is interesting and should enrich a spellcaster's arsenal or a DM's creative arsenal to use and spin tales from. While not reaching the peak of genius of Grimoire Mutamateria or Grimoire Illusionatus, this pdf is actually one of the better installments of the series. Thus, I'll remain with a final verdict of 4 stars and a recommendation to everyone who is looking for some truly different abjurations.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Repartus
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Gypsy
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2012 05:23:28
Beautifully presented, this take on the Gypsy as a character class draws on the archetype of the gypsy fortuneteller and embues those skills with mystical powers rather than the charlatan aspects so often associated with real-life fortunetellers.

Many of the abilities centre around a divination deck based on Tarot imagery, with the possesion of specific cards being associated with generating particular effects rather than the conventional concept of prediction of events... but this Gypsy can do that as well!

To empower the use of the divination deck in your game, simple rules and card templates are provided. Complete with decorative backs, the card templates allow you to note the range, area, duration and applicable saves of the effect associated with that card... but none of the pictures anyone who uses Tarot (or for that matter, the Pathfinder Harrow deck) is used to - these are more game mechanics orientated, but nice if you do not want to look up the associated effects for each card drawn or chosen, or memorise their meanings and associated rules.

This may work best as an NPC given that predictions are always a bit difficult to handle in a game, but it is a nice concept well presented.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gypsy
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Grimoire Cognitas
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2012 02:54:31
This installment of the Grimoire-series is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's check out Dreadfox Games' take of Divination-spells!

After 7 pages of spell-lists by class, we immediately dive into the new spells, so what exactly do we get? Well, one of the first spells we get, Cartograph, is rather cool in concept: Not only does it allow you to immediately escape a maze-spell, it also creates a detailed map of your surroundings, allowing for a good reason for the DM to hand out maps. However, I do have one gripe with the spell: While it specifies that it does not show non-stationary terrain or doors, the limits of the spell are hard to judge: A manmade complex with doors for example wouldn't show doors, but potentially secret rooms. Or would it? There also are spells herein that allow the caster to attack a foe with a touch attack, temporarily emulating the senses of the being touched. Collective currents makes for an interesting divination spell that can be very helpful regarding investigations and plots: Coming in 3 variant effects, the spell can either determine the most knowledgeable subject in sight, in a large radius or on your plane regarding a specific topic. Among the detect spells, detect word makes for a truly interesting spell since it allows you to determine a word and hear the word as well as the subsequent 20 words uttered by someone in the radius. Now, this might seem broken and destined to ruin any mystery - but it doesn't. If the word is uttered in too rapid a succession, the echoes might stun you or send you into unconsciousness, requiring careful deliberation on behalf of players to properly use the spell.

Among the more common spells, we also get some that allow targets a bonus to linguistics and knowledge-checks - ok, I guess, but not particularly exciting. Foretell Destiny is a problematic spell in my book, determining the aura of an unborn, predicting whether an unborn will become good or evil. The whole nurture vs. nature-discussion immediately springs to mind and while the spell is supposed to be hard to interpret, the problem here is that the spell lacks a comprehensive list of aura-color, relegating this spell down to essentially a DM-fiat. Good design is something different. On the other hand, hypothetical vision is cool, essentially allowing you "Sherlock Holmes"-vision, i.e. a mental simulation of a creature's reaction to something you do/say etc. It's also rather cool to see that the spell can be used in conversation since its verbal component is rather subtle. Read Intentions does something very similar, but on a much higher level and more generally and needs a competing skill-check to work - slightly repetitive. On the unpleasant side, the Insightful Sacrament-spell is for example a spell that enchants a liquid and allows those that partake in it to see auras as per both detect evil and detect good. Both base-spells are lame and a combination of both is no better, even with the liquid-fluff. Now there also are some spells herein that should be considered interesting like the witch spell "Map of Fetishes" which allows you to attune objects and a map. The creature to last touch the object can be tracked on the map - cool. For each such cool spell, though, we also get ones that are rather bland like momentary discovery/favored ranger, which temporarily grant access to the respective class abilities.

Rules-wise, there also are multiple spells that hit a minor pet-peeve of mine: Multiple d20-rolls. Navigate Realities (and its greater version) allow you to roll 3d20 (or 5d20s) respectively and substitute checks you make subsequently with the predetermined results. Per se ok for 6th and 9th level, but the spell allows you to influence ANY d20-roll within 30 feet of you thus. Even with the drawback of staggering you, the spells feel rather powerful to me, but, as mentioned, that's a pet-peeve of mine and something I felt the need to address, but not something that will adversely influence my final verdict. I mentioned the Sherlock Holmes-style prescience and there's also a combat-centric spell doing something like this: Perceptive Deflection allows you to add your perception skill modifier to AC for one attack. Speaking of senses: Summoners and eidolons may now also merge their senses, granting supernatural senses depending on combined perception modifiers. Perfect Recall and its mass version work somehow like the recalling ability of the modify memory spell, making the powers feel like lesser versions of said spell.

There also are weird Planar Sweep-spells for aberrations, animals and outsiders, which allow the caster to look for a respective being and subsequently summon it via the respective monster spells. The spells require a minimum skill rank to work respectively. What's weird, though, is that their text always refers to "Planar Vision" instead of "Planar Sweep". There is also a spell granting a druid the option to add half your wis-modifier to your physical attributes when wildshaping. There are also 3 interconnected spells that I really consider interesting mechanics-wise. Prophetic Trace allows the caster to create a glyph that can then be used with the prophetic call-spell to make a prophetic encounter (a 3rd spell), which essentially is an incorporeal outline of the subject that can communicate with the callers. Nice!

Also rather cool (to find keys, for example), is Scavenger's Dweomer, which alerts you to the presence of a specified object. And then there's a spell I'd consider utterly, completely broken: Spellsight allows you to discern ALL limited use spells and spell-like abilities with a DC lower than your Spellcraft-check. Worse, the subject can only impose a -10 penalty and exclude 3 on a failed save and there's not even a spell-resistance. This spell sucks. It makes concealed and disguised people obvious, while giving the players a massive advantage and since there are evil spells, the spell may also wreck a LOT of plots. Never gonna happen in my game, especially not at the paltry spell level of 3. There's also yet another teleport tracing spell - lame. On the cool side, Transcendent Luck is rather interesting: It negates a hit or critical hit, but when attacked by the same foe within 3 rounds, the next hit is an automatic critical hit. There also are two variant true seeing spells, which land on my "lame"-list, while waking dreams rocks hard: The spell allows you to invade a target's perception while sleeping, though the creature may pass your perception on to other willing creatures. Druids may now also use winds to communicate at 60 mph and even draw wind maps in the sand - again, neat!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed some minor glitches and here and there, some clarification regarding how spells work are in order. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' 2-column thorn-lined standard and comes sans artworks. The pdf does have extensive bookmarks, though. Divinations are my favorite spells. Divinations are my most hated spells. Why? Because adventure-writers often have a bad grasp of what can be done with divinations and fail to address their impact on mysteries and investigations. When used properly, they can greatly enhance awesome plots and prevent dead-ends. But e.g. detect spells tend to be annoying, especially when not properly limited. That being said, divination may not be flashy, but in my opinion can be absolutely mind-bogglingly cool.

Unfortunately, though, this installment of the Grimoire-series falls slightly short of this potential: There are quite a bunch of boring filler-spells herein as well as spells that need clarification, have been done before. Generally, when compared to other installments of the Grimoire-series, the rules herein are just not that innovative, instead mostly relying on types of spells that, while cool, fail to evoke the sense of wonder evoked by Mutamateria or Illusionatus. Dreadfox Games' spells are best when they are pushing the boundaries of how spells work and what to do with them and this pdf simply failed to truly surprise me with any of its component spells. The ideas are not bad, in fact, there are some great spells here, but overall, the grimoire feels slightly uninspired and filled with more filler-spells, variants of existing ones etc. The pdf is also not exactly cheap for the amount of content provided. In the end, this pdf feels like one of the weakest installments of the series so far: Yes, it has something to offer for you, but I can't really pronounce an all-out recommendation for this pdf. My final verdict will thus be 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Cognitas
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Gypsy
by Scott R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2012 19:37:52
This product has been in my wish list for a long time, waiting for me to pay out the $5 to check it out. I really have a hard time contemplating the audacity or ignorance that went into its creation.

Let me talk about the quality of the contents before I state my complaints. My generous two-star rating is because for what it is Gypsy is a well-crafted product. The graphic design is quite pretty as well as the art and layout. It has a nice aged vellum and leather bound book look and the mechanic using Tarot cards for divination spells is cute. I find nothing wrong with the mechanics; they are quite creative.

But this book should never have been made, as it stands. While crafted with love and care and I'm sure as a fault of ignorance rather than malace IT IS HORRIBLY RACIST!

The Romani are a real ethnic group with true historical roots and whom still face oppression and poverty every day. This book takes centuries of stereotypes and translates them into Pathfinder terms. I showed this product to a Roma friend of mine and he was... well Deadfox is lucky he isn't writing this review.

I am a big Ravenloft fan and I own both editions of Van Richten's Guide to the Vistani; and I have played a half-Vistani in 3.5 games using Arthaus' books so you would be tempted to call me a hypocrite. But I counter that the Vistani are fictional, they are a sort of meta-commentary on Victorian fiction's view of gypsies, as Dracula is to the historical Vlad Tepes. Even then I cracked a history book (Bury Me Standing: the Gypsies and their Journey). Deadfox's Gypsy may be harmless fun but it shows epic disregard for culture.

At least they didn't make stuff up like White Wolf, but really. Imagine a Jew class, where you have inborn mystical Jew powers. What about a wise African Slave class? You would have a good product here if you had put it in more of a fictional background or showed the slightest bit of cultural awareness.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Gypsy
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Grimoire Tempestus
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2012 10:50:25
This pdf is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's check this one out!

The latest installment of Dreadfox Games' Grimoire-series deals with a vast selection of evocation-spells. After 7 pages of spell-lists covering all the core-classes, APG-classes and the magus, we dive headlong into a selection of evocation spells, so do they do anything but blandly blowing up things?

Now, evocations are essentially mechanically not too exciting - and this pdf somewhat strives to change that. Take the very first extract, Alchemist's Revenge: Almost impossible to force down the throat of a foe, this extract burns away his nerves, dealing massive attribute damage. It also forces the subjected victim to vomit forth bile and finally detonate in an explosion of fire, acid and bile. Disturbing and, surprisingly, mechanically interesting with some story-telling potential.

On the other side of the equation, we actually get a spell that is rather genius and has a lot of uses: Arcane Extraction. On a successful caster-level check, it allows a caster to destroy items and transform a part of the item's value into arcane dust that can be used to cover costs of magic item creation. Speaking of cool ideas: Arcane Surge grants you a 5 bonus to overcome spell resistance, but the spell lasts 11 rounds and every round, the bonus is lowered by 1, thus resulting in a penalty in later levels. Cool spell with some interesting tactical decisions. Magi, Wizards and Sorcerors may now emit a blast of cylindrical electricity, fire or coldness they can continuously emit. Those caught by the blast and fail the save will be up for even more damage if the continuously try to block the blast. Can you see the tough-as-nail dwarf struggling towards the caster while getting progressively more and more blasted? The Blizzard-spell at 9th level is also rather interesting not in its raw damage output, but also since it actually conveys vulnerability to cold, comes with air-control effects and even the option to pin foes beneath ice. I'm also a big fan of the ranger-spell burning caltrops, which actually provides us with a valid caltrop option at higher levels.

Among the decidedly lame spells herein are Chain Lightning, least and Chain Lightning, lesser, at 2nd and 4th level, which cap at 5d6 and 10d6, respectively. Boring. There also is a spell that is essentially a variant of a fire shield and a really cool witch-spell: Curse Elements, a level 9 spell, which gives each elemental spell (through strangely not those with the [acid]-descriptor) a 40%+1% per caster level to blow up in the face of the caster. There are also 4 different elemental primer spells, which allow you to lace yourself with an elemental current, dealing 1d6 damage, but enhancing the next corresponding elemental spell, but also risking having to save against the added effect if you take a lot of damage. There also are explosive spells that e.g. emit a lightning bolt which detonates afterwards. The level 9 explosive reprimand counterspell not only counters spells and deals damage to the casters - unless the spell in question is an abjuration, in which case, the spell backfires on the caster. Nice! Frigid Chrysalis is another interesting spell, encasing the target in a cocoon of ice which, while dealing minimal ice damage, also provides a layer of rigid protection. Surely a spell that takes some thinking to properly use, but I consider it an interesting concept.
Speaking of interesting concept: Jarl Spear grants you a magical weapon, which actually improves if you have a title and are recognized by the populace as a leader. Cool concept that links magic and roleplaying achievements. The witch-cantrip "Lips of Darkness" is also interesting, blowing out an unprotected flame with a whisper, providing us with some interesting iconic options for witches.

Bards also get 3 interesting spells, the songs of fire, ice and storms, which can be prolonged by expending bardic performances and succeeding a performance check. Nice synergy of class-abilities and spells. On the slightly less interesting side, we also get the "Soul of..."-spells (Fire, Ice and Thunder), which help against detrimental temperature effects and can be canceled by appropriate damage dealt to you. There also are spells to conjure a fox of ice and snow, a thunder hawk ad similar elemental quasi-sentient beings that you can direct and send through foes. Ok, I guess, but not too exciting.

What I really enjoyed were the 4 wind-spells: From the refreshing rain brought by the Eastern Wind to the elemental-enhancing properties of the northern wind, these spells not only are interesting, they also come with a rather cool idea: If you provide an expensive component, you can actually store the respective wind in a bag, suspending the spell until you open it. A neat idea straight from classic fairy-tales and implemented rather well.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' 2-column b/w-standard with its vine-borders. The pdf has no artworks apart from the one on the cover and comes with extensive nested bookmarks. I fully expected to be underwhelmed by Grimoire Tempestus - after all, evocations are those flashy damage-dealers that don't make for too interesting spells. Dreadfox Games have managed to do something unexpected here, that is there actually are some rather interesting spells herein: The synergy between class features and spells is fun and there are some spells here that require some clever thinking to properly use - which is nice indeed! However, there also are a couple of script-spells that mechanically feel a bit bloated. There also are a couple of spells I'd consider at best filler, the lesser variants of chain lightning being prime examples. Nevertheless, generally, the spells felt rather interesting. The pdf is not exactly cheap, coming sans artworks, which constitutes another minor detrimental factor. All in all, I found this installment of the Grimoire-series enjoyable, though it does not rise to the brilliance of the Mutamateria or Illusionatus-installments, not due to balance-issues this time around, but due to there being some spells herein that can be considered as fillers. Since the majority is rather well-crafted, though, and since there's not much filler, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Tempestus
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Grimoire Tempestus
by Bruce B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/17/2012 18:57:25
I consider that this spell compendium is a fine set of Evocations. I know that most Adherents of the "Wizard as Gaming God" mind-set denigrate simple evocations, but they can be quite satisfying.

The Rings of Fire spell is reminiscent of the Raggadorrian spells of a certain Bleecker Street Mage.
I like the additions to the Lightning spell-type, including the Chain Lighting series, Thunder Whip, Explosive Lightning and Frentic Bolt.
I like the Jarlspear, though your Game must have demonstrable Nobility which is attainable by Player Characters to be fully effective-- my Game does.
I also like Sonic spells, such as Sonic Blade.
The Rock Friend series of spells reminds me of the Rock Troll's ability to call rocks to himself in the movie "Labyrinth".
I am exceedingly pleased with the new Force spells, such as Explosive Shot, Sphere of Force, and to a lesser extent, Soul of Thunder.
I also consider that the Ranger Shrapnel Shot is a Force spell.

As a product, I noticed only a few editing errors, and I liked the fact that there were PDF links from the Class Lists directly to the spell descriptions.

On the whole, well done.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Illusionatus
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2012 02:21:13
This pdf is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 27 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The third installment of Dreadfox Games’ Grimoire-series deals exclusively with illusion-spells, perhaps one of the toughest schools to design for with regards to balance, so what exactly can we expect from the pages of this pdf? After about 7 pages of spell-lists for all the classes, the pdf jumps right at the content. The very first spell, “Adele’s Corridor” is the very first rather interesting one – it forces the victim to treat everything as if it was further away, meaning that each round, until a certain distance is covered, the victim will run in place. Interesting control-spell! The two “Arcane Pantomime”-spells enable you to cast shadow-duplicates of arcane enchantment, evocation or illusion spells you have just witnessed being cast, though spells with a focus, costs and long casting checks are rather hard to mimic and very easy to disbelieve. While there is some potential overlap with the “Shadow Evocation”-spells here, the added schools and the improved amount of “real” parts as well as the requirement to have an original spell cast to mimic it, make this a valid step between the regular and the greater shadow evocations, while “Greater Arcane Pantomime” can be considered the new apex of shadow-duplicated spells.

“Conceal Passage” would be another interesting spell – it allows you to conceal a door, window etc. and make it look like e.g. a continuation of the wall. A great idea per se (it’s also permanent), but I think that the [figment]-descriptor is a bit stretched here. That’s meta, though – what’s more problematic for me: The spell fails to specify which size the passage may have. Could one e.g. conceal the entry to a vast cave in a mountain that leads to a dragon’s hoard? Could a vampire conceal a tiny hole/crack leading to his crypt and get through it in gaseous form? A hole less than an inch wide would be hard to find indeed. Some clarifications regarding maximum/minimum size would help…

One of the smartest spells herein is “Cordial Invitation” - essentially, the spell requires you to trick the victim into accepting your invitation. If they do, they are shut into a temporal stasis with a dream – you have full control over said dream and can control everything but the dreaming creature’s actions. This is AWESOME on so many levels: All PCs could be trapped, trying to escape. And then there’s the potential for awesome fey-stories and high-level investigations. This spell is narrative gold and it’s not alone among the ones herein: There are spells to eliminate a subject’s sense of smell or taste and also a slew of them that deal with haunting sleeping characters, potentially granting them bonuses or penalties. Oh, and you can finally disguise your eidolon as a human, making summoners less obvious – a must-have in rather paranoid, xenophobic or downright low-magic settings.

Summoners also get their due with some neat exclusive spells: Want to call a shadow duplicate of a recently vanquished eidolon or conjuration (creation, calling, summoning)-spell? There are spells to do so herein! One of my favorites would be “Double Voice” – this spell enables you to cast it as a part of a normal conjuration and choose between two layers of communication: The one you want foes to hear and a secret, second layer of communication to e.g. soothe a hostage or make plans for an assault while talking to you foes. Once again, this spell is narrative and roleplaying GOLD.

There are also some less tricky, more straight-forward iconic spells – there’s a e.g. a fascinating pattern that may swallow you whole, a spell that entraps its victims in a hard to escape (potentially an adventure in and of itself) in a special druid’s grove and there’s a truly interesting take on faith: “Testament of Faith” grants massive bonuses to the respective characters – but only if they (and their players!) unquestionably believe it. Looking up the spell etc. makes the casting less potent or even void! Now if that’s not interesting!

Shadow-spell-fans should also know about the extremely potent “Darkwater Mere”, a truly lethal sea of shadow that drowns its victims and which can come with a dread shadow sea serpent. Or would you rather care for a hydra springing from shadow? The “Shadow Martyr”-spell, on the other hand, is more problematic: The illusion can take negative conditions from your PCs and the list is quite neat, as is the idea. From the text, though, it’s not entirely clear whether the martyr can take only one instance of a certain debilitating condition per casting or per round. If the martyr has already cured the fatigued condition once, can he cure it again if the condition is reimposed in a subsequent round while the spell is still in effect?

The pdf also contains spells for secret “good” and “evil” scripts and the ability for the magus to create up to two shadowy duplicates that share your attacks, making you active in quite literally multiple places at once, but at potential risk, as you take a part of the duplicate’s damage.

The pdf closes with stats for two shadow-monsters conjurable with spells found herein, their quasi-real nature already fractured into their stats.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – from inconsistencies between e.g. the correct Umlaut in “DoppelgÄnger” to omitting it for the bastardized “DoppelgAnger” to return to it, up to some other, minor glitches, I encountered quite a few, but none that truly impeded my enjoyment of this pdf. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games’ b/w-2-column standard and provides no pieces of artwork. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. Grimoire Illusionatus is by far my favorite installment of the series so far – the spells are smart, clever, bring a whole lot of great new options to the table and often ooze iconicity. In fact, so much so, that for the first time in quite a while, I feel almost prompted to give a spell-book the full 5 stars… were it not for some minor inconsistencies and things about spells, that, as written in this pdf, just are not as clear as they ought to be. While the amount of cool spells surpasses the one of those with minor problems, I still feel like a minor revision and some clarifications would greatly enhance this collection of spells. In fact, I was severely tempted to go 5 stars nevertheless, but comparing the amount of content to similar pdfs, I just couldn’t. Nevertheless, this pdf offers some spells that not only reward clever players, but also open a up a whole bunch of cool adventure ideas. Thus, I’ll remain with a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform. If you can live with the hick-ups I mentioned, you’ll like this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Illusionatus
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Grimoire Mortalitas
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2012 06:26:52
This pdf is 37 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 34 pages of content chock-full of new necromancy-spells, so let's take a look at them!

The pdf kicks off with extensive spell-lists for all the classes, including the Magus and then elves into a vast selection of different necromantic spells for your perusal. The spells per se are interesting and provide some unconventional mechanics - "Bloody Epidemic" e.g. inflicts a bloody cough on foes that deals damage and potentially is infectious and "Dark Command" lets you issue commands to undead. One of the more interesting spells, dead palate, provides the options to resist detrimental conditions imposes by stench and even magical effects for a round at the cost of making the subject more susceptible to the spell after the round of immunity. Unfortunately, there are some minor inconsistencies: The 9th level spell "Death's Burden", curses a foe with a death curse - after getting 100 HP damage in a single round, the recipient has to save each time he/she/it takes damage or die. Unfortunately, the spell does not specify whether one has to save against the spell's regular DC or the accumulated damage over the 100-threshold. Even if the latter is true, the general usability is rather slim, especially for a 9th-level spell. The circumstances under which this spell's effects get activated are rather obscure and make this a singularly bad choice for a 9th-level spell.

The more...strange spells include "Decrepitate", a 1st level spell that halves carrying capacity for 2 hours/level. Interesting as a basis for dark auras of haunted places. "Defiler's Talisman" makes for another interesting last-second save option for villains everywhere - temporarily housing the soul in a blood-filled talisman, including the option of magic jarring foes. There of course are also debuffing spells, but those herein actually provide some interesting effects - "Fragile Body" forces the recipient to fall down prone every time he is hit and the damage exceeds a certain, quite low threshold. I love the idea, but personally, I'd have solved it via a CMD/CMB-mechanic, but that's just a personal preference. "Grating Joints" is a smart and versatile debuff that offers 4 different types of options and makes for neat customizations depending on which part of the enemy you want to afflict. "Kiss of Death" is another interesting spell - at 7th level it offers neither saving throw, nor spell resistance but has to be delivered via a kiss. Unfortunately, the spell fails to specify whether it can be used in combat. I assume it can be, but if so, we're lacking mechanics for delivering kisses in combat. If possible at all, the modifications to CMB should have been included - depending on how it is handled, this spell could otherwise prove to be unbalancing - personally, I'd include a paragraph stating that it can't be used in combat, and even then, enterprising players will find some way to make deadly use of this. A truly awesome spell would be "Necrotic Gyre" - cut yourself, smear blood on a map and the blood pools in areas according to the strength of necromantic energies and even identify particular effects.

A godsend for evil casters and necromancers, negative energy attunement lets them be healed via negative energy, but without making them susceptible to positive energy. "Resist negative energy" is another smart one that does exactly what you'd expect and thus fills a neat niche. The communal version features a typo and mentions something about "dividing the duration in intervals between the weapons touched", when the recipients of the spell are supposed to be creatures. "Revenant Sense" is a spell that is overpowered as hell - it lets you smell whether a target has killed in the last 12 months, even determining whether they killed in self-defense, murder, etc. and even determine approximate figures. While smelling murder may make you attack the murderer, the fact that the range is 120 ft., the spell lasts for 1 min/level and is rather precise means that this 1st level spell has the potential to wreck many an investigation plot.

On the other hand "Secrets to Rest" is a GODSEND of a spell, permanently inhibiting ancestral communication with the dead and speak with the dead-spells. Two thumbs up and "Hell yeah"! "Sepulchral Air", while powerful, is another great spell that makes verbal communication impossible, impedes casting (but less so that of necromancy). Neat idea! "Still Veins" with its 3 iterations is also great - you get temporary immunities as if you were undead, but suffer minor attribute damage the first time you're damaged each round. Smart spell and very interesting for deadly areas and beyond most necromancy spells.

There are also several risky spells to call spirits into your body and there is even a way to restore undeath to a destroyed undead creature, which is awesome. And then there's "Undying Resolve"- a last stand spell for the witch: If you're facing a TPK at the final battle of the campaign, this spell enables you to raise allies in 40 ft. burst to fight for one last round. Unspeakable is another curse with awesome story-telling potential - it permanently makes the name of a foe unspeakable, cursing all who utter it with severe calamities. AWESOME concept!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: I noticed some minor glitches. Layout adheres to Dreadfox Games' two-column, thorny-bordered standard. The pdf comes with full bookmarks and no artworks. Oh boy, this one is hard to rate - on the one hand, we get several spells that are ingenious, awesome and ooze coolness. On the other hand, several of the spells feel like they can use additional clarification and could have been written more concisely. I mentioned some examples of spells that could use a rephrasing/explanation and combined with the lack of artwork/price point, the minor problems accumulate to a point, where I wholeheartedly recommend parts of the pdf, but advise against flat-out allowing the whole pdf without very close scrutiny - some of the spells can be considered rather broken, at least in my opinion. Usually, I would harp and bash on the pdf for that, but the spells that rock, rock so damn hard that I can't bring myself to rate this pdf lower - there's a lot of great potential here. In the end, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars - some great content, some not so great content and in the end, the pdf might be awesome for you, though not unanimously so.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Grimoire Mortalitas
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Ritualist
by Angela W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2012 19:16:20
I thought the Ritualist was imaginative and well written. I was actually impressed by the professional quality of this new and unknown publisher Dreadfox which is largely what prompted my review.

Pros:
- great content - I just played this class on Wednesday and it was a lot of fun. Sometimes I find playing healers to get kind of boring but my Ritualist was pretty rad.
- clean - for those who are nit-picky, I haven't noticed any typos. No bookmarks, but for 8 pages, not a big deal.
- quality - While this is a pretty high-end price ($4.99) for a rather small document, I thought it was worth the money because I hate when I end up wasting time and money on deals that turn out to be something I don't want to use.

Cons:
-sort of a small document for the price - I think the quality is great but maybe could use a little more quantity, although the free tips make up for that some.

I wish I had just gone ahead and subscribed to save money, but at least I know now.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ritualist
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Gypsy
by Dustin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/03/2011 19:22:11
I chanced to buy this particular PDF—the very first published by the relatively brand new Dreadfox Games—just yesterday for full price at $4.99, and to be brutally honest, I probably could have done myself a favor and saved a couple bucks by instead waiting a few months, subscribing to their website, and taking advantage of that very subscription by using it to buy this document at a mere $2.99 along with whatever other supplements the company might have produced at that time for whatever discount prices that they, too, would have been marked down to. This holds especially true when considering that $4.99 is a little on the steep side, at least in my opinion, for a PDF that’s only thirteen pages long and that only eight of those pages are dedicated to actual content. To be fair, though, as I’ve said before, I blame only myself for making such a purchase in the first place and not fully researching my options beforehand, and to be fair, this supplement is still a rather impressive one, even though I still think that this, Dreadfox’s first PFRPG-compatible base class, can still be expanded on in a way that I hope Dreadfox will consider for future revisions, if there are to be any at all.

Though I can very well nitpick Dreadfox’s Gypsy to death if I felt it necessary, I’d be lying through my teeth if I were to flat out speak ill of it, particularly when it comes to the document’s layout and formatting. Very rarely do e-book publishers publish their works in such a way so that the reader can view two pages side-by-side at 64.8% magnification and comfortably read the text on both pages (Charke Publishing is the only other RPG e-publisher that comes to mind for me in this respect.), but that is exactly what Dreadfox has managed to do here. This might be a minor trait to some e-book purchasers, but for me, being able to read two pages at once is a plus in that it helps cut down the time that I’d otherwise spend scrolling through the document to read whatever information I’d be trying to research in a given document. This is especially beneficial when it comes to documents that have few to no bookmarks, which unfortunately is the case with this supplement, even though it still has thumbnails. Finally, there’s the artwork, which includes an impressively rendered “leather-bound tome” cover along with a nice very fetching and stylish border on each page of content—including the final page, which contains the OGL/copyright information—that helps these pages pop and draw the reader’s attention to the words upon them. On a similar note, the gypsy sketch on page 7 is remarkably well-portioned and shaded, as is the full-color illustration of the gypsy on page 4 (which is, in fact, the same illustration from the cover), and both pictures do a fantastic job in further showcasing the very nature of the e-book in which they are featured. All in all, Dreadfox definitely receives my praise when it comes to the overall design of this final product.

However, the question remains as to whether or not the content stands up to the expectations that the design establishes. First off, how unique is this base class, and how well does it characterize the gypsy archetype that at least most of us become accustomed to? Well, to begin with, the Gypsy is essentially a hybrid between the Bard and the Sorcerer from the Pathfinder SRD, albeit that he/she is a divine rather than an arcane spellcaster and has specific background-appropriate class features that reflect upon his/her far-from-stationary lifestyle as well as his/her penchant for predicting and even altering the future. Such traits include Wanderlust, where he/she gains the Fleet feat for free at first level and is rewarded an additional five-foot base speed increase for every additional gypsy, bard, or rogue in his/her party (so long as he/she is wearing light armor at most and is carrying no more than a light load, of course); Premonition, which allows him/her to have query-related symbolic visions that may cause damage to him/her, should he/she fail his/her check while using this trait; Augury, which allows him/her to manipulate fate via unique, specifically designed tarot cards, the powers of which function like supernatural abilities rather than spells; and The Sight, which enhances his/her mundane senses by offering a +1 bonus to all Perception and Sense Motive checks the more this class feature is gained. However, the one class feature that most profoundly defines this base class is the Deck of Divination—a spell system that involves the Gypsy drawing his/her spells at random (and from any spell list at that) from a deck of cards and, if managed creatively, can be every bit as practical as it is illustrative of the randomness of the Gypsy’s powers. Not only that, but the provided option of using an actual deck of cards (preferably a tarot deck) only enhances the role-playing experience that much more, including whatever house rules a certain gaming group institutes concerning such occurrences as the drawing of upside-down cards. Plus, many of the Auguries, regular (levels 2 through 10) and Greater (levels 12 through 20) alike, have been given the names of actual tarot cards (e.g., Queen of Wands, Two of Cups, The Hanged Man, The Fool, Strength, The Emperor, The Tower, and Death), which further enhances the authenticity of this class’s origins and uniqueness. It’s just a shame, though, that the Dreadfox team couldn’t come up with even more Augury options based on the remaining tarot face (translation: Major Arcana) cards to both further expand this base class as well as enhance its thematic nature even further. Speaking of cards, this PDF even has a couple of pages that have full-color printouts that the player can use as pats of a template for his/her own Gypsy character’s Deck of Divination as well as an entire page that goes into detail about how to design his/her own DoD cards. In short, this supplement has just enough substance to complement its style, which is always something to commend when it comes to any kind of RPG supplement.

In short, I can’t really complain all that much about Dreadfox Games’s Gypsy. In fact, I’m actually quite happy to see such a high-quality PFRPG supplement available for sale, seeing at the base class it presents is every bit as fresh, fun, and innovative to play as the e-book itself is enjoyable to read. Reid Stewart and company have made a smart decision in making this their first offering to the PFRPG fan base and presenting it to us as a mere sample of what they are capable of as a publisher of RPG PDFs. The only gripe I have, then, really, is—as I’ve mentioned before—the price. Again, $4.99 is a little steep for a thirteen-page document with only eight pages dedicated to actual content, especially when compared to Headless Hydra Games’s PFRPG base class offering from October 20 of this year, The Clockworker, which is twenty pages long (nineteen of which have at least some bit of content on them, including the Clockworker’s spell list, new spells for the Clockworker base class, and information on the Clockworker’s drones and servitor), has bookmarks as well as thumbnails, and only cost $3.99 the last time I checked. I thus encourage Dreadfox to be more competitive with its pricing in the future to keep the competition on its toes. Otherwise, gang, great job!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gypsy
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Publisher Reply:
Hey Dustin, Thank you for your kind words and your feedback. We are listening. A note on Dreadfox Games monthly subscriptions: We release 1 product a month, on the 1st of every month. Subscriptions are $3.99. Subscribe anytime before the end of a month to get that month's product for $1.00 below store price. Cancel at your leisure and retain permanent access to your content. We value the security of your information enough to host through PayPal - be forewarned, however, that cancelling a PayPal subscription is a bit tedious (but very simple). If you liked the gypsy, you might like to check out our schedule (www.dreadfox.com) for a preview of upcoming products.
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