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Psionic Bestiary: Part 9
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/28/2014 03:15:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 9th part of the Psionic Bestiary is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this mini-bestiary with a new CR 5, tentacle-mouthed monstrous humanoid with emergent brain lobes, the Brataurus, who can emit wis-damage dealing screams and worse, they actually feed on said damage, healing themselves. Cool!



The CR 3 Dedrakon, a scaled predator that adds crystal shackles to their prey via their attacks, which increase in movement-hampering potency the more creatures are shackled with them - oh, and they can emit roars to paralyze shackled foes on a failed save - throw these in groups, add some hit and run-tactics/feats and watch them squirm. And yes, the base creature is inspiring enough for me to actually do that.



At CR2, the 3-eyes lizard-like Dulah-humanoids have a nice ability - they can barf their treasure at foes! Since my version of the dire beaver barfed splinters at foes, yes, I do like that one!



At CR 6 and 8 respectively, the Ensnared Earth Elementals and their Greater cousins are glorious - part elemental, part plant, they may strike through stone and ground those nasty fliers with psionically chargeable pulses of gravity! Awesome!



At CR 2, the somewhat ferret/cat-like Ferax have some nice minor psi-like abilities and can emit bolstering hums. Finally, at CR 3, the bat-like, winged, one-eyed Reva can manipulate objects, target foes with force damage and are superb spies indeed that can detect sentient, sapient life-forms. Nice spies for the BBeG - or your PCs, for these "builder bats" are actually LN and rather intelligent!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though I did notice minor typo-level glitches, nothing rules-problematic. The pdf adheres to DSP's 2-column full-color layout, with bookmarks being there, but broken (and unnecessary at this length) and the artworks for the creatures, all in full-color, being simply WEIRD and awesome. Add to that the lack of glaring glitches in the math - and we also get in that department, one damn impressive little bestiary!



Authors Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist, Dale McCoy Jr. (commander in chief of Jon Brazer Enterprises) and Jade Ripley deliver a bunch of psionic creatures that are just fun - each one coming with at least one cool signature ability and production values to supplement their unique abilities as well as with the more than fair price point, this bestiary can be considered 5 star material indeed - which also reflects my final verdict, omitting my seal only by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionic Bestiary: Part 9
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The Brewmaster: Life of the Party
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2014 10:13:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This base-class by Interjection Games clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The brewmaster base-class gets proficiency with simple weapons, martial reach weapons, martial bludgeoning weapons and light/medium armors and shields, but not tower shields, d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level, a good will-save and, surprisingly, full BAB-progression.



A Brewmaster starts game with 2 casks and increases that number by +1 for every 3 class levels up to 8 at 20th level - but what store in the casks? Well, beverages, of course! Homebrew, to be precise! That this stuff is potent (and can vary in effect) can anyone attest who had the joy of tasting some different types of hembränd sprit - but the brewmaster's draught is...different.



So, how does homebrewing work within the context of this pdf? Well, there are essentially a couple of things to bear in mind: Each cask must contain a sugar and a fermenter and may contain additionally a single clarifier and up to a number of additives as prescribed by the fermenter. So far, so simple!



Sugars dictate how often a cask can be used - essentially, sugars determine the charges and also determines the primary benefit. Brewmasters start game with 2 sugars known and add +1 at 2nd level and every 2 levels after that. Fermenters determine how long the brewing takes and how long the buzz, being "roaring drunk" as determined by the alcohol level, lasts. Brewmasters start game knowing all of them.



Additives modify being roaring drunk and often scale with the drink's alcohol level. They also "Each additive has a "minimum quality level", that is, they have no effect in a homebrew"...and this is where the sentence ends - which should have probably gone on to describe that a brewmaster requires a minimum class level to use them. Unless otherwise stated, only one additive per homebrew. A brewmaster starts with 2 additives known, +1 per level.



One clarifier can be added to a drink after it has matured and generally have significant influence on the homebrew. A brewmaster learns the first clarifier at 4th level, +1 every 5 levels after that. Thus, over 20 levels, the brewmaster learns up to 12 sugars, 21 additives and 4 clarifiers.



In order to prepare a given homebrew, the brewmaster must have a minimum wisdom score of 10+the total number of ingredients in the cask, with saving throws, if applicable, being against 10+1/2 class level + wis-mod. Non brewmasters can benefit from casks as well, but gain no benefit from effects modifying the brewmaster's class features if they don't have them themselves. Tricks to consume potions faster do work, but if that results in a required action only being a move action, swift action or less, the faster consumption spills 1 additional dose, essentially consuming 2 uses instead of one, with the second being just spilled. This is a very cool balancing mechanism in my book!



Okay, so what about the brewing process? This one includes essentially 3 phases - The first phase would be the fermentation phase - a fermenter determines, when a dink is good and when not - a drink has either a poor, a good, or a perfect quality, depending on the speed of the fermentation and the number of days the drink had to age. After waiting until either poor, good or perfect result can be yielded, boiling is initiated - here, additives are added. Then, conditioning begins - here, we calculate the brewing DC. This one consists of the base sugar's base DC, modified by fermenter, clarifiers and additives. Then, you make a d20+level+wis-mod check - if you fail, quality can degrade by one or two steps (or even totally ruin the homebrew), potentially modifying which additives work out in the end. The table with degrees of failure and overall system make for a nice, planning-rewarding risk-reward-system here. The handy table listing the qualities by fermentation speed along the days is extremely handy here as well.



Now, I've mentioned before being "roaring drunk" - this is the result of drinking from a cask, lasts for alcohol level rounds and is somewhat akin to a rage (+2 Str, Con, will-saves, -2 to int/wis-based skill checks), increasing by +1/-1 at 4th level and every 4 levels after that to a maximum of +/-6 at 16th level. When already this drunk, drinking further from a cask nets the character an extended duration for the effect, while drinking from a cask when the remaining rounds of being roaring drunk exceed class level, the brewmaster gets sick instead, potentially barfing on the baron's carpet...or the dragon's favorite coin-pile.



Brewmasters add 1/2 class level to max HP and also get this bonus to saves versus spoiled/poisoned food and similar ingested threats. Starting at 5th level, the brewmaster can accelerate a cask to immediately ferment 1d4 days 1/day, +1/day every 5 levels up to 3 accelerated fermentations per day - though one cask can only be accelerated 1/day. At 7th and 13th level, brewmasters learn to mitigate aforementioned spillage from fast drinking.



At 11th level, the class gets Brew Potion as a bonus feat and counts his class levels as caster levels for the purpose of this feat - he can bypass the spell-requirements usually required, naturally (since the class is no caster), but that requires more money. He also counts as having class level ranks in spellcraft for the purpose of identifying potions and produce potions much, much faster at higher levels. As a capstone, the class can create instant-perfect, improved homebrew.



The class comes with favored class options for the base races, drow, hobgoblins, orcs, hobgoblins, kobolds, tieflings, puddlings and aasimar. Brewmasters may also select from 10 feats, which include extra sugars, additives, clarifiers, offsetting the penalty to wis-based skills while drunk (instead applying it to dex-or cha-based skills), better potion-spell-requirement-bypassing, get full 4 hours of work done while adventuring, +2 to brewing checks, +2 to damage while drunk, +4 to fort-save vs. saves to become sickened or spike potions with alcohol (triggering roaring drunk).



So what about those fermenters - this is perhaps best explained with one example, so I'll provide one: Dwarven Breakfast Blend is a fast fermenter, which means alcohol level 3 on day one (perfect), 2 at day 2 (good) and one at day 3 (bad) - after that, the cask spoils. Other fermenters have Poor 3, Good 4 or Perfect 6 as alcohol levels. Brewing DC-modifiers are either +0 or +3 and the number of additives the fermenters allow ranges from 1 to 3. It should be noted that each fermenter comes with a nice bit of awesome, often hilarious flavor-text.



Now on to the sugars, shall we? It should be noted that several sugars herein feature a base level prerequisite and some of them also require a set amount of ranks in a given skill in order to utilize - a handy table sums these up for your convenience. Base brewing-DCs range from 3+1/2 level to 11+1/2 level and the sugars have varying effects depending on the quality of the homebrew ingested.



But what exactly do these sugars do? Well, let's take at the level 8 Barrel Cactus Fruit Sugar - upon imbibing a homebrew made with this sugar, a timer starts - 2, 5 or class level rounds. The first charge attack you make within this time frame allows you to end your charge with one additional attack at your highest BAB -essentially allowing for two attacks at the end of a charge. While thankfully including a caveat against stacking with pounce etc., the additional attack could still use some clarification - do the modifications to atk of a charge still apply to the second attack? What about the bonus to bull rush? And more importantly, what about mounted brewmasters and lances? Would both attacks count as mounted charges or would the second attack granted count as a regular melee attack?



Belchweed allows you to belch at foes in melee, temporarily sickening them on a failed save, at level 11+ even potentially sickening multiple foes in a small area - cool! Also rather interesting would be sugars that allow you to deal attribute damage - sans save. While usually, I'd go bananas over this, the mechanics are interesting here - the roaring drunk class feature's morale bonuses are temporarily mitigated, instead allowing you to deal half this bonus as damage to attribute(s) depending on the sugar, but only with the first attack, making stacking of such damage harder. Powerful, yes, but at required level 9 not broken.



Blue Agave is a nice risk/reward gambit - when drinking from this cask and executing a full-round action, you may elect to provoke an AoO from all eligible targets to get an additional attack at your highest BAB. However, if you're hit, all your attacks receive a penalty to atk -from -3 to -1, depending on the quality. And no, no stacking with haste et al. Not all sugars are offensive - there's also essentially medicinal alcohol that can burn diseases from your system by allowing for a new save. If you fail, though, you'll take damage. Another sugar nets you a fiery (or ice-cold! Or acid!) breath weapon that you can use in lieu of a charge or full attack action's attack. It's a bit strange that the fire-sugar requires 5 ranks along as level 6, while neither the cold, nor the acid-damage dealing one has a skill prerequisite. Another sugar makes a drink essentially a thrown weapon of tarry goo - neat! Healing homebrews are also possible (including caveats that undead shouldn't drink these...)...



Short-grain and its bigger brother, long-grain Rice laced with Koji also deserves mention due to a strange mechanic: All physical damage beneath a low threshold is ignored. Starting at 2 at the lowest quality and increasing by +1 for every 4 class levels (or starting at 2 and increasing every 2 class levels at perfect quality), all attacks that deal below these damage are ignored. So, like DR? No. All attacks that surpass the threshold deal full damage. Now per se, I like this mechanic, but it does have its issues - if a character has resistance to a given physical damage due to DR, does it apply first or after the drink's effects? Also, this one lacks a duration.



Minor buffing, increased speed, creating a fast-healing granting cloud of vapors, a lesser bonus (scaling up to lesser true strike)-style bonus to one attack (class level of the brewmaster) and a sugar that temporarily nets you spring attack and shot on the run make all for interesting options. On the interesting side, creating difficult terrain and the schadenfruit that heals you whenever an ally within range takes more than 10 points of damage make for fun concepts. It does say something about my players when they really, really got into the latter in playtest. And no, I didn't find a way to break the latter. Another sugar allows you to wreck foe's armors with cumulative permanent penalties (until magical repair/Craft/Profession is received!), while the highest level sugar can allow you to ignore the effects of being below 0 hp for 1 round - and yes, even death! But only in the perfect quality - no effect whatsoever in the other two. VERY interesting!



Onwards to additives - these again have usually a class level prerequisite, with some also having skill prerequisites. They also have a minimum quality of the brew - every drink that fails to meet this standard gets no benefits from the additive, as mentioned above. They also increase the brewing DC of the respective homebrew from +1 to +5. Oh, and the list of them is LONG. From spell-like effects like enlarge person, stacking acid resistance, bonus to knowledge check while drunk, swim speed and similar buffs are in here, as are several tricks that mitigate the roaring drunk penalties to specific skills. Spit e.g. on your weapon to make it flaming? Yep - possible! Increased speed due to my beloved habanero peppers? Yup. And no, not going to break down all of them. If you're storming a mage academy, you might wish to choose the additive that allows you to become utterly immune to a first level spell for some time.



Finally, there would be 9 clarifiers - which modify the brewing DC by a range from -1 to +8 and include prerequisites from levels to clarifiers known. These allow you to double the effects of one additive, improve roaring drunk, lower the minim quality required for a specific additive or increase a cask's quality. Distillation (the +8 one) is also interesting - alcohol level is multiplied by the number of doses, hereafter the dose is reduced to 1 - essentially allowing you for a rather long-lasting roaring drunk rampage - but drinking cannot be faster than a standard action.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column standard and the pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, though not excessively so. Artwork is thematically fitting stock-art.



The brewmaster is a class that sounds like a joke - so let's get that misconception out of the way from the get-go: It's not. This is a fully functional, rewarding class to play. Fun, yes, but pity the fool who taunts a brewmaster! This is the class for those fans of Drunken Masters, for those players who always wanted to play the hedonistic dandy, the drunken dwarf that smashes all opposition. Now it should be noted that, at least for Interjection Games-levels, this class is VERY easy to get into. Complex and customizable, yes, but it should NOT be considered hard to get into.



Also, contrary to expectations you might have, the brewmaster is a thinking man's melee class - less in direct combat, more so in the planning of adventuring. Due to the homebrews taking some time, we have a similar experience like prepared casters - planning ahead is rewarded with this class, with more flexibility being possible, but also requiring some thought. This has two direct results - number one, the class is actually rather versatile, especially for a full BAB-class. Number two - while combat might be fun, humorous even here and there, this class still is serious - seriously fun! Now extremely simulationalist DMs should beware that the components don't need to be purchased - but for most campaigns (who glance over component pouches etc.) that should not prove a hindrance.



I seriously enjoyed the brewmaster, its unique mechanics, the nice descriptions and its unobtrusive humor - and consider it a great addition to the game...but one that has some minor glitches, as mentioned above. While no deal-breaker, they keep the class from the highest honors, making me settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.



Excuse me, it's my heritage coming through - as a Franconian (we do have the highest micro-brewery density in the world!), I think I'll have to get a beer now!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Brewmaster: Life of the Party
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Advanced Races 7: Centaurs (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2014 10:10:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the advanced races-series is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become a tradition with the series, we kick off by examining the customs, tribal lands and culture of the race in question and as has been the custom, the prose is glorious - author Karen McDonald explains different breeds, customs and lands and vivid prose, including sayings and teachings and a concise look at general psychology of the centaurs, their relationship with other races, all in the context of the delightful Midgard-setting - but can the rules back this up?



Centaurs get +2 to Str, Wis and Con, -2 to Int, are large, get a base movement of 40 feet, darkvision 60 ft., run as a bonus feat, count as having the mounted combat feat for purpose of skill prerequisites (but may not use ride to avoid damage to their equine halves), but strangely get +2 to ride-checks and attack rolls when charging. They also get +4 to CMD versus trip and -4 to stealth due to being quadruped and they also get +2 to craft (bows) and heal. I know. Here I go again. Soooo, as quadrupeds, do centaurs use quadruped rules to determine carrying capacity? Why do they have the ride-check bonus? Where is the size, height and weight-table? Worse: Undersized weapons ability, anyone? As large creatures, these centaurs, unlike those in the bestiary, can use large weapons. The variants are medium, so that doesn't extend to them, but still.



Next up would be traits - Status-bonuses when interacting with fey are nice, but where things get weird would be with Born of two hordes-trait - this allows you to take to traits that are assigned to specific hordes - which per se is fine. It does specify, though, that this breaks the rule that one can take no two traits from one category. Yeah. Here's the cincher - the traits universally lack categories - they all just are "traits". While assigning (combat) or (faith) and the like should not overexert anyone, it's still quite an oversight. On the cool side, we get a trait that offers the option to choose a raccoon-dog as a familiar or a dire weasel as an animal companion, with full stats for either...AND including the familiar bonuses/mini animal companion statblock! Two thumbs up, Mrs. McDonald!



We also are introduced to 7 new feats for faster movement, secondary hoof attacks or even a trample attack. two feats deserve special mentioning - one lets you increase casting time x2 in exchange for +2 to CL and the other lets you 1/day recall a spell you've already cast as a swift action, but only of a level -1 of your currently highest available slot. Both have in common that their wording is relatively concise, but also that they have the [magical]-feat-descriptor that to my knowledge, doesn't exist. Still, not a reason to bash on these, even though one feat (+1 atk, damage, skill+ ability-checks and caster level checks in forested environements) feels like filler.



We also get 3 archetypes - the Green Witch (guess for which base-class) can increase or decrease the fertility and productivity of areas by pronouncing blights or blessings and instead of a 4th level hex, gains the ability to use the equivalent of summon nature's ally,s caling up with her levels. On the nitpicky side - I assume they follow the default hex-rules, since both abilities lack information as to what action they require to activate. Explicitly stating that they count as hexes would have been prudent. A lost chance - blight/blessing SCREAMS Kingmaker-style kingdom-building rules - some precise rules for use of the abilities in that context would have been awesome.



Fighters may opt for the Oyun Wrestler archetype, who doesn't get proficiency with shields and heavy armor, but instead improved unarmed strike and the new iron hooves feat at first level. They also get scaling dodge bonuses and may treat hooves as primary natural weapons and finally, they become excellent in tripping foes. Okay, if rather weak archetype - can't see my players choosing this one.



Oracles may opt for the path of Redegiver, who may communicate with equine beings and perform a special kind of augury by galloping alongside equine hordes - while again, none too strong, a very interesting, flavorful archetype that drips roleplaying potential.



We also get 4 new spells - let's start with the cantrip: Thundering Hooves lasts one round, requires a swift action, and increases your movement by 30 feet when charging. When taking the run action, it multiplies speed by +2, so x6 movement instead of x4. This is too strong for a cantrip. Also, the cantrip refers to itself as gallop in the text. The level 1 version lasts longer, but why cast it? A thrid spell extends to multiple targets and a fourth targets multiple creatures as well as allowing them to ignore difficult terrain.



We also get 4 new magic items, like enchanted apple brandy(!!!) and a GREAT belt - one that lets the centaur take human or equine form. For 10K, this is a MUST-BUY for all centaur PCs who want to climb ladders and be less handicapped when dungeon-delving. Depending on your campaign, I'd honestly haggle with the DM whether this couldn't be dished out as starting equipment with teh character being in debt to...someone. (D'unhdunhduuuuunh. My players are too smart for that, but maybe you haven't traumatized yours to that extent...)



Horseshoes of lightstepping (and their greater cousins) would also be rather awesome - they make the centaur lighter. Alas, we have no idea what a centaur weighs... We also get 4 rather awesome mundane pieces of equipment.



On the final page of the book, we get two variants of centaurs with the elf/deer-hybrid Alseids (+2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, low-light vision, +1 DC against Old World-spells, trackless in woods, quadruped, spears/shortbow familiarity, +2 to perception and stealth) and the onager-based Oinotaurs, who get +2 con and either +2 Int, Wis or Cha, -2 Dex, lo-light vision, Gang Up as a bonus feat and count as having mounted combat prerequisite-wise, +2 to a knowledge skill of their choice and all knowledge skills as class skills, familiarity with short swords and halberds and the usual quadruped bonus versus trip and the increased speed.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, are much better than in the last installment and overall can be considered good. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous artworks, though fans of Kobold Press will have seen them before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked.



So Centaurs are a tough sell on me as a player race, mainly because their size and anatomy poses problems with many obstacles that standard modules tend to presume - e.g. climbing ladders or crawling through tight spaces. The belt herein gets rid of these issues and for that item alone, anyone even remotely intrigued in the concept should take a look. It should also be noted that the crunch herein is free of any truly greivous, glaring glitches and that the wording is much more concise than I expected. I haven't read any supplement by Karen McDonald before and she did a good job indeed, one well worth keeping an eye out for. That being said, the lack of an age, height and weight table is particularly irksome when taking a look at two of the magic items that address said weight-issue. I can't fathom why the table wasn't included. The second serious hickup would be that, beyond the centaur (and oinotaur) being slightly too powerful for my tastes, the former doesn't get the undersized weapon quality. This is a serious oversight that should be rectified.



All complaining aside, this is the best advanced races-supplement since Ben McFarland's take on the Darakhul, on par with the installment on Ravenfolk and well worth a final verdict of 3.5 stars, though, due to glitches, I'll for now round down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 7: Centaurs (Pathfinder RPG)
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Legendary IX: Legends of Antiquity
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 03:01:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The ninth installment of Purple Duck Games glorious series of magic items that scale with levels clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/explanation of basic rules, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 28 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



In case you're new to this - legendary items as per this series are magic items with an extensive, well-written background story. These items feature prerequisites in order to unlock their powers. The items per se scale with the character level of the wearer, thus making for a neat way to combat the christmas tree syndrome - and thus see excessive use in my games. They usually have either a 5-or 10-step ability progression, with miscellaneous items usually getting the former, while weapons, armor etc. get the latter progressions.



All right, so how do we start? Well, we kick off with the perception-improving, movement-impediment negating battle-mask and then get a bladed bracer. What's that, you ask? Well, first of all, an interesting off-hand weapon and secondly, a weapon that nets you a ton of feats when using the bracer - rather cool item-class! The headband of deathless devotion called vesture of Ahusye not only looks damn cool, it also gets an auto-resurrection capstone - yeah!



Or would you rather prefer a cestus that can punish the wicked, even pulverize them, even, a limited time per day, turn botches into successes? Yeah! Foes of humans may enjoy the new, lethal fanged bracers and their necromancy-effect duplicating tricks. More heroic people (of dubious origins) may enjoy a new punching dagger sworn to destroy all evil, devils in particular. What about a cold-iron flail that delivers some wildcard-feat style selections and counts as a size larger thanks to its kinetic enchantments? What about an elven ioun dagger of obsidian that makes for a neat tool not only for scoundrels, but also for casters?



Do the words "Ah, fresh meat!" still send a shiver down your spine? If so, the greatcleaver weapon class and its legendary version are just what you want to wield and not end on the other end off - yeah, the Diablo-Butcher-weapon-class has found its way within these pages. A Ninja's new best friend would be the legendary bladed tonfa herein, studded with SPs galore. And if you ever thought that the boss of the first Kingmaker module required a proper item (or if you roll that way with the fey - erlkönig-style), then you'll be happy to know that yes, a stag-antler studded magical mask can be found within the pages of this pdf as well.



Always wanted that damn cool lethal throwing axe? Well, you're in luck, for one herein exactly fits that bill! Clerics will in the meanwhile learn to appreciate a new mace herein, which nets them quite an impressive array of channel feats, leaving precious feat slots for other choices. Characters more in line with the "God punishes, I kill"-notion of the sacred assassin will enjoy the new katar herein, while a new sickle and an ioun club make for tools for those more in line with nature's forces.



You may also wield all that remains of a solar's noble sacrifice in the form of a trident - one that may look evil, but which is suffused with divine power indeed.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and each item herein gets its onw, neat b/w-artwork. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author James Lewis delivers a neat host of weapons, one themed mostly about slaying evil - with quite a few holy weapons herein, Wrath of the Righteous heroes will probably find quite an array of exotic, cool tools to destroy their dread opposition. (And it should be mentioned that I'd take PDG's scaling legendary items over those introduced by Mythic Adventures any time of the day!) Overall, the items herein show interesting, versatile background stories and abilities -though the latter are a bit more on the conservative end of the spectrum, with many feat/SPs granted by the armory. While that is no way bad, personally, I would have enjoyed slightly more unique abilities - then again, that's nitpicking at a high level. James Lewis did a fine job with this installment of the Legendary-series, one well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Go forth and conquer evil!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary IX: Legends of Antiquity
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Gaming Paper Barbarian
Publisher: Gaming Paper
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 02:58:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This small pdf by Gaming Paper is 8 pages long, 1 page cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1/2 page empty, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



DISCLAIMER: As a short look at the editorial will show you, I've looked over the beta of this pdf and helped develop it - I did not control the final outcome or have a say in what goes and what stays, though, and thus don't feel my verdict is compromised in any way.



That out of the way, let's take a look, shall we? We kick off this pdf with a thoroughly well-written piece f in-game prose that gets one in the mood, detailing the hostilities between greco-roman seeming people and barbarians, before getting into the respective traits for barbarians - which take a surprisingly smart approach - whereas usually, traits are exchangeable minor bonuses with one-sentence explanations (and hence not particularly fun to read), this pdf takes a different approach - first of all, it determines several basic roles, the first of which would be non-adventuring barbarians.



In boxes with a black background and white letters (not very printer-friendly...), we get the respective traits, in this first case bonuses to initiative under certain circumstances - the first one netting a +2 to initiative whenever you don't have maximum hit points - which is not something I'd consider good design...always carry around that kitten for the 1 hp-scratch... On the plus-side, each trait, even beyond the description of the general role in barbarian society, comes with a full-blown description that makes the trait more than just a numerical bonus.



Other traits allow you a bonus to will saves against spells and spell-like abilities of foes you've intimidated and another nets you, 1/day +1 round of rage if you hit a foe twice in melee in the same round - which is hard at low levels and later rather easy. While not particularly elegant design-wise, not broken either. More interesting would be imho a trait that lets you track creatures as if they're larger or one that mitigates the fatigued condition's penalty when using aid another. Changing facing upon defeating foes, being the last of your kind (and thus hardened to fear- and despair-effects) - all come with nice fluff. Another trait allows you to reduce the duration of the fatigued condition incurred by allies by 2 rounds (for fellow barbarians) or one round (for non-barbarians), but not fatigue with an indefinite duration. Getting 1/day plus one final round of rage when damaged in the last round of rage or receiving one free, non-AoO-provoking move action upon receiving damage, but before falling unconscious make for other interesting concepts via traits.



Next up would be some simple archetypes, the first of which would be the Raider - raiders lose medium armor proficiency, but become faster, later get a bonus to dex and may use essentially a spring attack variant of charges - i.e. charge as a standard action and then move again in a straight line, not exceeding your double base movement. per se cool ability for wolf-pack style tactics, but *usually* moving through the square of an opponent requires an acrobatics-check and moving in a straight line through a target's square doesn't always make sense...just picture the gelatinous cube blocking the dungeon tunnel to get where I'm going.



The second archetype would be the Auctor, who gets less rounds of rage, but instead gains a kind of favored enemy-style bonus against his own type (and later - other types). Okay, I guess.



The Lusus Naturae takes a penalty to cha while raging, but may use this penalty as a bonus when intimidating and is a specialist at using the intimidating glare power.



The pdf also offers three new rage powers: Death totem and its lesser and greater brethren - lesser death totem allows you to incite fear in foes hit in melee (or struck by your ranegd attacks), while its regular version allows you to ignore nonlethal damage, ability damage, energy drain and fatigue-themed effects while in rage and the greater version allows you to substitute 1d4+1 points of temporary str-damage for your regular damage - the latter might be considered too powerful, especially due to not requiring a save and stacking with itself.



The pdf closes with 1 new feat, which nets you HP when you reduce a nonhelpless creature of HD greater than you to 0 HP - which means that in order to break this, you require kittens with metric ton of templates added - but it still can be done. A caveat of x/day uses would have helped there.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though I noticed some minor glitches here and there. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has A LOT of text - you'll get your money's worth from this - the font is small. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't require them at this length.



Author Daniel Comrie has crafted an interesting supplement - taking the (at least for me often) very boring task of reviewing trait-pdfs to a point where I actually enjoyed reading this - the traits and concepts herein resound, are inspiring even, and the prose can be considered neat indeed. Now crunch-wise, the pdf isn't particularly elegant in some cases, with slight ambiguities in the wording/rules and similar hick-ups. Now that doesn't mean the pdf is bad - quite the contrary: Design-wise, a lot of damn cool things are done with traits, often offering more than a bland situational bonus on roll xyz that we've come to expect from (and be bored by) traits.



I'm in a bit of a conundrum here - on the one hand, this pdf tries very hard to be innovative with one of the most yawn-worthy components of character design and succeeds. On the other hand, it also has some serious rough edges that should be addressed. How to rate this, then? In the end, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars...but have to round down to 3. I still encourage you to check this out - the prose and design-ideas to scavenge are rather interesting, and hope the author will continue to try to do interesting things with traits.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Gaming Paper Barbarian
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Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 The Troll Hills - Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 02:55:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Hex Crawl Chronicle-series clocks in at a massive 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 2 pages blank, leaving us with 41 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As always with modules, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Let's go! First of all - the hex-crawl map to explore this time around spans two massive pages and depicts mostly mountainous terrain with hills, cut through by rivers. The population of this rather...hostile area can be summed up by belonging to 3 ethnicities - the descendants of the once proud civilization of golden men, degenerated to hunter-gatherers (and kind-of guardians of their now-disease-ridden ancient ruins), the somewhat pilgrim-like (at least in style) tan or olive-skinned witch-men and finally, the Xanlo River men, hybrids of Witch Men and Northern Men. Beyond these, the area is, surprise, infested with trolls...and hags. The latter with a twist, though - retelling the creature, in this land, elven maidens who have reached 1000 years of age venture forth into the wilderness to become nymphs or dryads...or hags, depending on their alignment. Personally, I love the idea, though it might require some serious reskinning/ignoring of this uncommon ecology. Among the humanoids, few elves still dwell here, but some dwarves remain - the licorice-chewing, bee-keeping Zarkos dwarves. These dwarves can brew a special healing moonshine from their tears when caught under a full moon.



Now I did mention those ruins, didn't it - well, they include a cement bunker, complete with wights in strange silvery suits - nice pulpy flashback there! There also is a rune-slab to be found here, which may open the way to a mini-dungeon - though one with a confusing map that refers to two levels (level 2 and 3) that are nowhere depicted or commented upon in the text - I *assume* they're intended for teh DM to flash out, but the map also shows no entry-point. From conjecture, one can deduce that "level 2" is supposed to be the entry...but still. Annoying glitch here.



Beyond poisoned shrooms (tsathoggastools!), trolls, hags and troblins galore, strange mole creatures and trading posts patrolled by clay golem enforcers make for interesting backdrops - but what about rope bridges that suddenly become the battle-ground between an evil cleric and his demons and medusa-brides of a blind wizard? A two-headed troll (including again, a mini-dungeon) and old red dragon, mutating water, animated wooden golems , were-bear druids...quite a few interesting discoveries to be made.



It should be noted that a city of blue glass, devilkin, mimic-troll-hybrids, an archmage's former sanctum, now the hunting ground of hags, acid weirds, prismatic serpents...and even a hekatoncheires loom in the crags and canyons that dot this area - as always with HCC: Players better be on their toes!

The pdf also has an appendix of the uncommon creatures



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally quite good, though not as tight as most FGG-releases. Layout adheres to an easy-to-print two-column b/w-standard with nice thematically-fitting original b/w-art here and there. The maps are serviceable, but as mentioned, not always 100% precise and don't come with player-friendly alternatives.



John M. Stater knows how to write extremely compelling wilderness-modules and this is no exception - the dynamics, ideas etc. all hearken back to the heyday of mature fantasy, with pulpy elements spiced in here and there. The conversion to PFRPG by Skeeter Green and Erica Balsley is generally rather well done - especially since classes like the Magus, relatively exotic creatures like kami etc. are included, at times reskinned, at times studded with templates/levels etc.



Generally, there's a lot to do and the dwarven enclaves throughout the hills with their own peculiarities, the strange cults and religions - all these are compelling, as are the remnants of the ancient cultures here and there. Where this one is a tad bit on the weak side compared to other HCC-installments, would be the meta-narrative: While there are connections between sites, dynamics etc., when compared to the Pirate Coast, or installment no.3, the movers and shakers feel a tad bit weaker in style and connectedness. This holds especially true for the mini-dungeons - for the first time in the series, none truly captivated me; In fact, there are various locales herein, be it the city of blue glass or some similarly awesome spot, I would have rather seen detailed properly.



Now bear in mind, I'm complaining at a very high level here - this module will occupy you for many, many sessions and drips inspiration, but for me at least, it somewhat lacked the je ne sais quoi, the focus on the sense of antiquity of a raw world - the troll hills are an iconic locale, but perhaps the focus on two types of critters didn't help too much here...or I'm just getting spoiled...

Anyways, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hex Crawl Chronicles 6 The Troll Hills - Pathfinder Edition
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Leader of the Pack: Humanoids (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/22/2014 02:51:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of LPJr Design's "Leader of the Pack"-series is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Know the feeling? You've had your game derailed/a adventure idea, but no ready to go statblock for the boss of a tribe/group? Don't want to slap on the advanced creature template on that sucker again? Well, Leader of the Pack is here to remedy that by providing boss-adversaries for roaming tribes, lieutenants etc. - this time, the focus being on humanoids:



Bugbears are the first humanoids covered herein, and the two characters provided herein would be a torture-master (fighter 2/ rogue 5 at CR 8) and the Lord of Fear, a CR 10 antipaladin 8. Problem - the Lord of Fear should be CR 9 - 8 levels -1 +2 for the racial HD. Yes, a minor hick-up, but in supplements like this, all designed for drop-and-go, such glitches way heavily. Each of the leaders in this supplement comes with one short plot hook as well as an array of different sample encounters (i.e. with mooks, ELs and XP-values assigned etc.).



Gnolls get the Gnoll Huntsmaster, a ranger 5 at CR 6 that has a formatting glitch that does not have Defense properly highlighted and a Shaman at CR 7 that is a cleric 7. If you haven't figured out - the CR of the cleric is wrong.



Goblins may now be led by a fighter 6 chieftain (for a CR of 5) or a pyromancer (sorc 5) at CR 4, withe specially the latter being more potent than one would expect for a creature of this power when played properly by a DM.



Hobgoblins may be led by a CR 4 Lieutenant (tactician fighter 5) or a CR 7 Battle Priest (cleric 8), with both builds fitting well the martially-inclined, relatively strategic mindset of these beings.



Finally, we get a CR 6 Scarred Witch doctor 7 for orcs as well as an orcish barbarian king at CR 9 - both builds being okay, if not that mind-boggling.



The pdf ends with a glorious sample 1-page lair map with a grid - this map is awesome and will see some use in my games!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though I did notice some glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with fitting full-color stock art. The map deserves special mention, since I did not expect to get such a high-quality full color map at this price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with a second, more printer-friendly version.



The pdf offers interesting builds and some that are a bit more straight-forward than I would have liked - a bit more archetype use or slightly more lethal builds would have gone a long way here. Perhaps it's just me, but I consider archetyped/ multiclass-monsters much more useful than just ones that have straight vanilla class-levels applied - I can add 10 levels of fighter in my head on the fly, but add multiclassing/archetype and it gets a tad bit more complex. So yeah, I'd like to see more of the slightly more complex builds found herein and less of the straight, relatively bland one-class-no-archetype progressions.



Still, Mike Kimmel has delivered a nice kick-off for the series, though one that has still room for improvement: More complexity, no glitches and we have a cult-series in the making here. At the fair price of $3.50, I feel justified in rating this offering a solid 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform due to the glitches preventing me from rounding up by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Leader of the Pack: Humanoids (PFRPG)
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Against the Cult of the Bat God
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2014 03:37:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page help on using the adventure, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this module with a handy gazetteer of the immediate area, which would be the lonely coast, Raging Swan's easily plugged in, free mini-setting - which you btw. should have downloaded years ago. ;) Kidding aside, travel distances etc. are part of the deal and mainly, that due to this module taking place in Oakhurst, the most remote of the villages of the decidedly old-school, old-world style lonely coast. Oakhurst (previously spotlighted in a village backdrop), is also one of the most unpleasant places to visit.



Insular and xenophobic, dirty and illiterate, rumors of cults and stranger things abound and still, no matter y which hook - it is here the PCs have to travel. Nestled deep inside the tangled forest, Oakhurst is not a pleasant place, and both its statblock, rumor- etc. tables drive that home.



Now I'm going to deviate from my usual format for a bit - there still will be SPOILERS here, but not as many as usual. Players should probably still skip to the conclusion, though.



All right, only DMs left here? Good! The events that transpire in Oakhurst have a loose timeline of 3 days, forcing the player's hands without becoming hectic - and here's the first peculiarity of the module: The level of detail. It's staggering. From the thoroughly unique areas, villain machinations and plans that make sense to the massive table of sights and sounds around town, this place jumps to life from the very page.



Especially the latter table makes for a joy to read - each entry offering some direct or indirect way of characterizing townsfolk, coming with subtle, yet disturbing nods towards something just being WRONG around town. The sense of decay and decrepitude are more than prevalent and, as any DM with a bit experience in that regard knows - the devil (or rather: horror!) lies in the details.



Even before anything happens, the sheer level of detail makes this module stand out like a lighthouse - and helps with one crucial task: Making this investigation so easy to run, I bet any DM with even a bit of experience under his/her belt can pull it off sans preparation, just reading this book while running the module. For stumped PCs, alternate helps to come to conclusions and provide cues they might have missed are just as much part of the deal, as are thoroughly interesting adversaries.



I'm not spoiling much (given the title), when I'm saying that the cult of the primal bat god has reactions to the PC's meddling that make sense, their responses working exceedingly well and taking both terrain and creature peculiarities into account. Furthermore, we get a thoroughly unique "grimoire" (you'll understand what I mean by that when reading this module!), a chance for PCs to be kidnapped (and the first handling of such a gambit that makes sense!), awareness of spell-usage to handle challenges...



Have I mentioned the supremely creepy mansion of decadent, inbred scions, the intimidating as all hell, dreadful final encounter with boss fight-level special arena "features" (again, not spoiling!), the unique and lavishly illustrated final adversary? The fact that, throughout the module, not only PCs, but actual players have to show bravery with the actions of their characters? The inclusion of one damn cool haunt?



Oh, and the pdf comes with pregens, should you wish to run it as a one-shot.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are slightly less superb than in many RSP-products - but I don't care. The few glitches can be easily ignored. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column full-color standard and the b/w-artworks are neat and thematically fitting. The superb maps can be downloaded for free as web-enhancements on ragingswan.com, which is simply superb customer service. The module also comes with an optimized screen and print pdf. I do own the dead-tree copy as well and the quality of this book is nothing to scoff at - elegant, nice paper, no printer-glitches. If you can, get the dead tree version. Also, the pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive nested bookmarks for your convenience.



John Bennett's "Against the Cult of the Bat God" is one thing: Supreme.

This is the best gothic horror (not splatter/dark fantasy, but true GOTHIC HORROR) module I've read in ages.

If the spirit of the best Ravenloft modules had a love child with Raging Swan Press' excellent quality control, production values and attention to/level of detail - this would be it.

This module is ridiculously good if you have even the slightest soft spot for horror. Each sentence, each paragraph BREATHES atmosphere, mood - and it's incredibly easy to run to boot! This module is one of the best modules currently available for Pathfinder and can stand alongside the works of giants of horror like Nicholas Logue, Richard Pett or ascendant masters like Tim Hitchcock or Tom Phillips, all while having its very own style, its very own, distinguished voice.

Have I mentioned that I could actually read this somewhat like a novel? Yeah, the writing is that good.

This book is so good that I will take a look at Vathak again (which I have dismissed as not working for me), Fat Goblin Games' setting, which is now under the tender care of John Bennett.

This module is so good, I deleted my original draft of the review, went back and killed spoilers, just to drive home that you SHOULD get this and avoid just about all notions of spoilers for peeking players - because I *know* that neither my ramblings on the content, nor a tight synopsis would do this one credit.

If you're like me and come from a Ravenloft background, if you're looking for a change of pace and mood, if you enjoy somewhat gritty and SUBTLE horror that plays with your mind and that does not end with "roll initiative" (though there are combats to be had!), then you NEED this.

This is a hot contender for my no.1 spot for 2014. This is a module that makes me recall how joyous being a reviewer can be. 5 stars + seal of approval - and damn it, would I go higher if I could. I do hope, from the bottom of my heart, that we'll see more collaboration between John Bennett and Raging Swan Press, more modules of that caliber.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Cult of the Bat God
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Mythic Monsters: Oozes Too
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/16/2014 03:33:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of raw content, so what do we exactly get here?



We're back with more mythic slimes - and a new array of beginning material, this time the 3rd-tier archmage ability oozechemist that nets you the bottled ooze discovery (not only when you're an alchemist) and power these oozes, turning them mythic. Nice one. We also get 6 variants of summon slime spells for level 1-6, which per se are cool...though the list at the end, with nary 20 entries, takes up half a page - feels a bit bloaty here layout-wise - half a page couple of names,, 1/3 of a column mythic spell-info for these, then the rest of the page is blank. Not a good use of page-count in my book.



Alright, so let's get into the oozes (though not literally - I don't want my audience to dissolve...get it? All right, 2 bucks into the bad pun jar...) - we kick off with the CR 2/MR 1 Giant Amoeba and amoeba swarm. The former exposes those rupturing its membrane to filth fever, while the second may actually fuse into a mythic giant amoeba as an alternate form - interesting. Now next would be the Mythic Brain Ooze at CR 9/MR 3, whose pulse may actually deal int-damage and they also get quite a nice array of SLs. Pity that pulse and aura of the base creature get no mythic, improved version though - to me, both could have made for a nice upgrade potential.



Mythic Brown Puddings clock in at CR 8/MR 3 can create AoE-suctions in water and also foul water - now if that wouldn't make for an interesting story in a desert environment... Now on the high-level scale, the mythic carnivorous crystal is beautiful - and deadly at CR 14/MR 5. Waves that transform metal into brittle crystal, ray refraction and the option to encase foes in razor sharp cages of shards make for one massive threat. Better yet - that's not all, this beast can do to your players. The cindersmoke ooze at CR 10/MR 4 is essentially a poison-gas-themed magma ooze - the new abilities are cool, but it should be noted that not all abilities refer to the new creature correctly as cindersmoke ooze - nothing serious, but still something that could have been easily remedied.



At CR 5/MR 2, the crystal ooze becomes particularly corrosive and make incite a contagious, petrifying effect working somewhat like a poison - nice imagery here. The CR 9/MR 3 Dun Pudding can duplicate the shifting sand-spell and is rather efficient at destroying items - with its burrow speed an interesting threat to settlements etc. The CR 5/MR 2 Frost Cube with its non-lethal cold-spores makes for an interesting cross between gelatinous cubes and molds. Speaking of variants - what about the sorcerous, intelligent CR 13/MR 5 sorcerous cube and its engulfing mend meld/slime command... makes for some interesting options. After all, who expects the slime to actually do something smart? Especially if the respective cube can just suspend magic items and activate them...nice action-economy wise and potentially really nasty. For lower levels, CR 3/MR 1 garden oozes can spew slippery sludge that creates difficult terrain and emit sickening gases.



Want an epic threat? What about a CR 20/MR 8 Mythic Plasma Ooze that can emit focused plasma beams, magnetic pulses for attraction and repulsion and deliver terrible death to all that stand it its path. Very cool! The final slime once again is new and unique and comes with a gorgeous 1-page artwork - the sonic clime at CR 12/MR 5...is innovative and truly worthy of legendary games - it can fly, is incorporeal and creates an aura of deafening, nauseating sonics. Much better - it can combine drag and trample via mythic power (Doppler-drag, baby!) - the latter of which can also be used to mythically shatter of sympathetic vibrate things asunder. Have I mentioned their aura that disrupts and potentially absorbs spellcasting or their truly devastating charge attacks? Once again, a thoroughly superb creature!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are rather good, though once again, a creature is missing the ecology-part of the statblock and I noticed a couple of instances where e.g. italicization of spells was forgotten. The pdf comes with hyperlinks, but no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment in my book. The pdf adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the two pieces of original artworks are awesome.



So here's the second ooze-book and Jason Nelson does it again and manages to create even more unique, cool abilities for oozes that set them apart, make them unique and superior, abilities that the base creatures should have had. Add to that the superb new creature and we have a good pdf on our hands. Hell, even the variants of e.g. the cubes make get unique, cool options - to the point where boring base creature mini-templates actually get their own distinct identity. That being said, the additional material isn't that strong here and when compared to the first oozes book, I couldn't help but feel that not all of the creatures herein lived up fully (!) to their slithering, death-dealing potential. All in all, this installment of Mythic Monsters is fun, offers cool critters and should be considered a good buy, but e.g. the carnivorous crystal and the new creature do showcase the full potential of the line, the pinnacle not each of these critters reach. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at a heartfelt recommendation of 4 stars, also for non-mythic-DMs who want to scavenge some abilities to make oozes more exciting in their respective games.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Oozes Too
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The Genius Guide to Domain Channeling
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2014 07:40:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become the neat tradition with RGG-supplements, we kick off this pdf with a nice piece of in-game fiction before we delve into the concept - which, in this case, would be so-called domain-channeling feats. What do these do? Essentially, they allow a cleric to do different things, differentiate him/herself from other clerics by more than available spells, by using channel energy in different ways, depending on their chosen domains.



As an optional rule, it is suggested to allow for these feats to be available as a potential replacement for regular domain abilities - which, depending on the domain, could either be a no-brainer or a sub-par choice since the domain abilities aren't balanced among themselves, but rather in the whole package. Personally, I'd advise against this suggestion, but since it's just that, this won't have any influence on my verdict - so let's take a look at those feats!



First of all - thanks for catching that channel resistance applies, as per the rules, as a default always. Now let's look at some of these effects, shall we? First of all - the respective feats all list their assigned domains and thematically fit their parent domain - e.g. the community-domain, which allows for the gaining of temporary hit points (without being abusable), while the liberation-domain allows channel energy to attack all shackles in range, damaging them and possibly breaking them - iconic, if a bit specific for my tastes, also, since shackles aren't 100% defined - what about e.g. force chains and the like? And yes, I'm aware I'm nitpicky here - after all, rules for magical shackles are provided. The alignment-based domains can add minor +1/-1 buff/debuffs -that don't scale. Sure, channeling is powerful, a Su etc. - but no scaling makes these rather lame; Come on, some scaling depending on basic channel dice (like some of these have!) would have actually made these interesting... as would DIFFERENT abilities. Essentially, they all do the same...which is nice, sure, but a more chaotic bonus (perhaps with a chance for a penalty or the like?) would have been nice for that one. Perhaps better buffs for the good domain, better debuffs for the evil domain?



The Travel-domain gets an interesting ability - channel teleport at 15 ft. +5 ft/2 channel dice teleportation as a swift action. OMG how op is that 11eleven... wait. This works...especially due to the caveat that the character can't teleport through obstacles, essentially requiring free access to the target area (no teleporting through doors etc.) - with traps, hazards and even potential for AoOs also preventing teleportation, this one actually is STRONG (catch the healing cleric...), yes, but in a balanced way.



Other feats allow you to create a swirling wind to debuff ranged attacks with winds - this time scaling with channel dice (and coming with a caveat that it can't be selectively channeled) - neato! What about making blast runes tied to channel energy? Elemental domains like fire net e.g. a fire-wave, while water later nets a rather cool drowning aura (that fatigues/exhausts, not utilizes the drowning rules - nice rules-wise, somewhat problematic re nomenclature). The Protection domain also deserves mentioning - DR 5/- for quite some time, but like stoneskin, dissipates after preventing 5 points of damage thus. The glory domain's feat nets you a limited gaze attack for 2 uses of channel energy, while another feat allows you to generate a phantom ally to help flank adversaries and another allows you to shift attitudes for a chance at a truce after your PCs have once again annoyed the wrong NPC...and we ALL know that happens all too often...



Now the magic domain's suppressive channeling is VERY interesting, working like a targeted dispel while the target is in reach -especially at lower levels, that might help (my players always save for the emergency dispel magic-scroll/wand at low levels...) immensely. SO yeah, powerful, but one of these YES-moments! On the downside, though, this is a potentially very dice-roll intensive feat...



It should also be noted that there's a feat herein that allows you to change your channel energy into a 90 ft.-ray that requires a touch attack to hit, and more importantly, one that allows you to split the effects of channel energy between domain channeling feats and/or heal/harm effects. Another one allows you to shape your channel into either a cone or a line. It should also be noted that the pdf comes with a concise table of the feats, all at one glance.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RGG's printer-friendly two-column, mostly b/w-layout with thematically fitting stock-art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also comes with copious hyperlinks of the good type.



Divine channeling is the way to go to make clerics more distinct from another - as such, I LOVE this pdf for what it does. By taking one of the most under-developed abilities (option-wise), author Andrew Marlowe delivers a concise, cool little supplement I love in concept. However, the some feats herein feel a bit weak in direct comparison - most scale and while I can see an enhanced threat range not scaling (now THAT would be bad!), some others could definitely use an upgrade power-wise. There's no per se broken feat herein, which is a good thing indeed. Now my frame of reference would be Rite Publishing's Divine Channeler (which btw. features in my home campaign) - the Rite Publishing class is more focused on channeling and hence has stronger abilities and in direct comparison, the feats pale a bit - since with these feats, the cleric retains full spellcasting, that works, though - so yeah, no balance-concerns. On the fluff-side, the feats could have used unique visual effects like those of divine channeler, but I won't hold that against the pdf either.



So...all in all, I want more of these - all subdomains or all of RGG's exalted domains, for example! Andrew Marlowe did a great job, if not a perfect one and I hope we'll see more channeling-feats to make this ability more versatile. My only true gripe remains that some of the feat's effects don't properly scale and that the 4 alignment-effects could have been more unique as well as the respective feats varying somewhat in usefulness - channel energy for undead prevention/temporary gentle repose or opening shackles? Don't know. Then again, waves of fire, magic suppression? Yes, please! This pdf offers mostly great options, and hence my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. Here's to hoping we'll get more!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Domain Channeling
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Wondrous Items 1: Armor Made from Monster Hides
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/15/2014 07:37:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, ~1 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So...items from dead monsters? Yes! No, seriously, this seems to be the series for me. Me? Because my players get next to no readymade treasure. They want a magic item, to craft magic items? Here's the formula - go hunting those wyverns, collect those plants etc. And yes, that works and makes the PCs VERY protective of their favorite pieces of gear!



These now would be armor-pieces that aren't magical per se - pricing-wise, light armors cost +400 GP, medium +700 GP and heavy + 1000 GP, +500 GP per special ability/additional quality - quick and dirty, but kind of fitting according to my math - not perfect perhaps - but, in my not particularly humble opinion regarding this case, you're doing something wrong when trying to buy these anyway.



But what do we get? Well, 9 light armors. And the first one, assassin vine rope armor already sounds rather iconic and does something rather cool - counter-grapple, I.e. upon someone trying to grapple you, the armor gets a grapple-check against the target. Oh boy, where do I start? A) I *assume*, this is no action - does it interrupt the grapple attempt if successful? B) Does the armor count as having the grab-quality or the improved grapple-feat? If no, the attempt provokes an AoO - could this AoO be executed against the armor or also against the wearer of the armor? This would in turn modify the grapple-check with the respective damage as penalty... Either way, both would still be considered grappled. All of this notwithstanding...upon a success, both attacker and defender would get the grappled condition, with the attacker being (unless changed as per the rules) in the position to become the controlling grappler. Problem here being, that such a check would require a standard action. How would that interact with the armor? Could the armor's reflexive grapple become the controlling grappler, allowing the wearer to potentially control the grappled character and benefit from this on his/her next turn? Or do armor and target count as different grappling entities? This armor's idea is so cool, but oh boy do we need some clarification here!



Gnarlwood leaf armor allows the wearer to better hide in forested areas and also nets a DR 1/versus two of the basic weapon damage types - nice! Hell-hound leather armor with fire resistance, moon beast hide armor, a kilt made from unicorn leather or an armor made from vampire roses or a kython's hide - the latter two dealing damage to targets that want to hit the wearer with certain attacks. Kython's hide being essentially the more badass version of armor spikes (and not that useless), while the vampire rose armor can heal you - 1 point per 1d3 the armor nets you. This armor fails the kitten-test - take a bag of kittens along, rub it on the armor, instant, near infinite healing! Needs balancing...



We also get 8 medium armors - with cold-resistance and petrification-resisting amphisbaena scale armor, fly-check enhancing cloaker-mail, resistance-granting kirirn-armor - quite cool. Or what about an armor laced with disenchanter bones, which once per day suppresses magic weapon qualities upon being hit? The latter is a cool concept - but the lack of save against it is nasty. Also - how does this explain bows losing their enchantment upon shooting an arrow at the target? Should probably just be melee weapons...or needs clarification re ranged weapons. Gorgon Hide armor automatically petrifies the first weapon that hits it on a given day, netting it the fragile quality - interesting...however, it would be nice to know how to reverse that one - flesh to stone probably doesn't cut it and the results for the magic item economy could be rather serious. Still, compared to earlier gripes, that is a nitpick.



We also get 4 new heavy armors, whether armor made from a witch tree or the pelts or aurumvoraxes, these are universally cool - nothing to complain here. It should also be noted that wearing a shield archon's mortal remains is a damn fine entrance for villains...oh, and that each entry comes with DCs to harvest the raw materials.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with full nested bookmarks - nice!



Designer Jeffrey Harris has created a neat first installment of a series I am bound to love - it just aligns perfectly with my own tastes and mostly, the respective armors work smooth, well and are simply iconic and cool - and then there are the issues. There are quite a few glitches herein and items that would require caveats or clarification - while in the minority, these do weigh heavy on the little supplement and drag down what would otherwise be me going full-blown gush mode. I sincerely hope we'll get a lot more of those, perhaps even a full-blown BIG BOOK! For this first installment, at least as long as the ambiguities haven't been cleared, I can only settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Wondrous Items 1: Armor Made from Monster Hides
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Dungeon Dressing: Floor
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2014 09:37:23
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Dungeon Dressing-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



"Ahhh, the FLOORS!!!" Insert here all Spoony/Ultima-Killerfloor-jokes of your gaming group. *takes a breather* Okay, so we kick this pdf off with the by now obligatory DD-cheat-sheet of terrain features/construction option. 5 types of different flagstones/hewn floors with respective consequences when traversing them, (and hardness, hp etc.) are included here, as are light and heavy rubble and chasms.



The first table contains 46 descriptions of different floor characteristics - what can there be to make floors interesting? A surprising lot! What about steps every 5 feet? Coffin lids jutting from the floor? Etched maps and glyphs in the floor? Wooden floors with springs that reduce falling damage? This table baffled me by its adherence to the maxim of all-killer-no-filler - what about e.g. illusions of crashing waves? Or strange ceramic tiles with inscrutable mosaics? This table BREATHES creativity.



The second table of dressings contain 100 entries as well and provides a broad spectrum of options - droppings of bat guano may work for the rather subdued instances, but oh boy, does this table also offer some more far-out options . Special mentioning deserves one of the iconic tricks from the conan-comics of old - floors that temporarily liquefy to turn solid again. Yes, not a trap, an entry! What about bulges that turn out to be skulls of colossal creatures? Glorious! And yes, standard dressings like water, rubble etc. for less strange instances also feature herein.



The final two pages contain 4 new traps at CR 3, 4, 5 and 14 (including 2 variants for CR 7 and 9) - and...wow. Even staples like spinning floors or musical floors get a nice twist and come with multi-rounds effects, extremely detailed means of activation/destruction - oh, and have I mentioned the delightfully sadistic venus floor trap?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-standard and the art is fitting stock that takes up about 2/3 of a page. The pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Mike Welham...I'm starting to consider this author somewhat of a savant in creativity. More often than not, I look at his offerings and see a topic that could be considered rather bland, only to see him turn it into something magical. Like the floors in this installment. My first impulse was "here I am, reviewing a book about floors..." - after one page, I was hooked, grinning and kept this expression throughout the whole pdf. This installment of Dungeon Dressing is simply awesome and a superb example of the power of imagination, of creativity. Every author that can make a book on FLOORS exceedingly fun should be commended indeed - final rating: 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this, and your players will actually mind where they're stepping for once, even if you don't litter your dungeon with pits.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Floor
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Psionic Bestiary: Six Monsters
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2014 09:34:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Psionic Bestiary-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction,1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages, so let's check out those beasts!



The first critter would be the Azrathid at CR 3 - a truly deadly psionic ambush predator with a truly NASTY paralysis-inducing poison - nice, in spite of being sans signature ability: The combination of psi-like abilities makes these work!



Next would be the CR 6 Brain Worm - body horror indeed: These worms try to subdue you and then, burrow into your flesh, wrap around your spine and then extend tendrils into your brain. And yes, you're essentially dead if the parasite can't be extracted, gaining the infected host template. A per se cool creature, though I wished it had some intrinsic way of actually making its prey helpless- guess host bodies and pummeling foes into submission will have to do, though bleeding out and no heal-skill to stabilize prey on the side of the worm make assuming new bodies somewhat ineffective.



At CR 5, corpse beetle-swarms may emit a drone that makes flying impossible and if swarms weren't bad enough, these critters also make you shakened on a failed save...ouch. Oh, and the, much like aforementioned worm, have a connection to a creature called Skull Thrasher (CR 7, btw.) - which is the final part of the life-cycle of this strange being - first a beetle, then a worm, then a skull with an attached spinal cord suffused by tendrils and an otherworldly intellect that can control its lesser brethren - over all, quite a cool creature array and rather disturbing in the fun, mind-flayer-way.



At CR 4, the Ghaar, monstrous-looking, psionic plants are a dying breed - bereft of their racial heart tree, these beings may have necromantic powers, they may be damaged by positive energy and yes, they can hurt themselves to inflict damage upon you - but if you get to know them sans dying, they aren't so bad...



Finally, at CR 9, there's the Mathra Tree - think essentially hang-man's tree psionic cousin and you'll get what these do - entangling vines, charm-like effect, neurotoxins - nice, if not particularly special.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to DSP's background-less two-column full-color standard and each creature herein gets a stunning, awesome piece of original full-color artwork - kudos! The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but doesn't need any at this length.

Andreas Rönnqvist, Jeremy Smith and Michael Pixton did a neat job here, offering a nice cadre of psionic creatures - I particularly liked the Gathra, surprisingly the Azrathid and the idea behind the 3 monsters connected by the life-cycle, though I'm not 100% wowed by the respective execution of them - there's nothing particularly wrong with them, but I still feel the worms and skull thrashers could have used some minor fine-tuning/unique tools of the trade. All in all, still a great little bestiary, well worth the fair asking price - final verdict? 4 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionic Bestiary: Six Monsters
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Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax [Revised]
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2014 08:40:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revised edition of TPK Games first module clocks in at 43 pages of content, one page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 40 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look, shall we?



So this is it - the revised version of the one pdf TPK Games had put out I didn't like - now mind you, the first iteration of this module had an awesome boss battle in a dread cairn - multiple phases etc. - cool, yes. But that was about it. Fast forward to NOW.



Want to know what's changed? Well. Everything. No, seriously. Let's start with the maps - superb, line-drawn b/w-maps -all originals. While we don't get key-less versions to hand out to the players, the maps are sufficiently large to print out. Additionally, the pdf comes with quite an array of seamlessly fitting, glorious b/w-artworks, again, original - so from the get-go, vastly improved production values! It should also be noted, that like the creatures in other recent offerings by TPK Games, you'll see next to no boring standard adversaries - whether with unique options, class levels added to monsters or the like - just about every foe herein has some interesting peculiarities that should drive home the fact that the PCs aren't up against a harmless module...not that this one would punch any punches, even in the first encounter we have...



Wait. Sorry, forgot - from here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

All right, still here? Well, I mentioned the cairn the PCs find - via one of several hooks, or a combination thereof, the PCs enter the cairn - and are in for a nasty surprise - crypt thing teleport to ghoul cells. Here's to hoping your fragile casters are up for the task. This sets the scene - as does the advanced, grisly legless ghast that makes for one of the most shocking adversaries I've seen in quite a while. Faint stomachs need not apply! (And yes, said adversary has no less than 3 simple templates applied!)



This was essentially when the original module ended - Caragthax showed up, deadly battle ensued, that's it. And yes, Caragthax is next on the to-kill list - but something happens - the floor collapses and the PCs plunge down through the collapsing floor into the second level of the module. At page 19 of 43.



Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I said the module has been revised! The unholy reliquary hidden by the cairn is now the PC's trap - and in order to escape, they not only have to brave the deadly adversaries within, they also have to contend with the weird effects of the dungeon. These deserve special mentioning: Sleeping is impeded, summoned creatures turn hostile and evil...and worst of all, magical healing is corrupted, potentially dishing out negative levels. Now since my players usually yawn at dungeons as written, this amount of lethality is EXACTLY what gets me DAMN STOKED! It also drives home how nasty the place is and makes it feel wondrous - in a rather delightfully twisted way... Just imagine you cleric realizing his/her healing here makes the flesh of his allies pallid...undead-like. Yeah. Priceless.



Better yet - Dossenuses, doom-laden riddles and prophecies of the reaver reborn set the stage to prepare your PCs for their A-game - which they better bring. There's e.g. a room, where the door slams shut - and vanishes from the inside, CEASING TO EXIST. Yes, potentially, PCs can be entombed for an eternity, undying (due to the sustaining quality of the dungeon)... Hope they've got their mining-equipment or similar tricks up their sleeves. Unforgiving? Yes, but a good dungeon ought to be about using both brains and brawns, the former being more important than the latter. Oh, and PCs drinking from a fountain could see the water turn into an elemental INSIDE THEM. Yeah. OUCH! Mummified gremlins? Yes. What about complex multi-round traps? Hag rangers? Broken Souls? An improved swarm of IRON ROT GRUBS? A smart little riddle that penalizes wrong decisions? Living Walls? The option to recreate a holy blade sworn to defeat Caragthax? An undead belching beheaded skull? Deadly haunts? This dungeon does EVERYTHING RIGHT - including a deadly showdown with the returned and turned unique demon Caragthax!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks are thematically-fitting and awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and both artworks and maps complete an overall A regarding production values, with unobtrusive hyperlinks being the cherry on top.



Well, Brian Berg, PJ Harn and Tom Phillips took one great encounter and made one of the best dungeons crawls I've read in quite a while out of it - breathing dread atmosphere, this module is not only glorious regarding the mood, but has something unique going for every room, every encounter. There's always something unique, something lethal and mechanically interesting around the next corner. Sure, social skill specialists may not have their field day here, but that does not detract from this gloriously difficult dungeon crawl - this now truly deserves being called HARD. This is one of the few modules I could run as is and not have to upgrade everything. So if your players are looking for a challenge (or if you want FGG-level difficulty) or if you want to show off how truly disturbing and dark a dungeon crawl can be, while having a true blast, this is the way to go.



Let me say that loud and clear - the revised edition of this Grave Undertaking deserves its name, is simply awesome and its content makes this an actual steal at the price-point. If you have at least some soft spot for balls to the wall horror, for deadly dungeons, then this is a must-buy purchase. The team of TPK Games deserves my highest accolades for this revised module, which, I hope, will be the standard for all their things to come - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Grave Undertakings: The Tomb of Caragthax [Revised]
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Addendum: Blessings & Curses (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/13/2014 08:36:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement for DICELESS LoGaS is 8 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Based on Psyche, the ability to bestow blessings & curses costs 35 points - 15 points for the ability and a pool of 20 points to make said blessings & curses. Once these are used up, the rest of the required point costs are converted to bad stuff or detracted from good stuff. So...what's the difference between stuff and these conditions? The pdf does explain that rather nice, and the process of delivering blessings & curses is also covered in detail. The more severe the curse, the more points it costs.



The same holds true for gradient influence and persistence of these effects. How hard a curse/blessing can be dismissed also determines the final point cost, as does the effect's duration - from this, one can craft exceedingly easily new and varied effects, guided by a concise, easy to grasp system, with your imagination being the only limit.



We also get a 10-point, 21-point and 55-point sample curse, including a cost break-down.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes with rather minimalistic bookmarks, which is all it needs, though.



Jason Durall delivers a simple, elegant, easy to grasp concept for making blessing and curses in LoGaS and overall, the supplement features a great system - one with one crucial flaw in my book: Why is there no cost for creating either exclusively blessings or exclusively curses? Fiction is full of characters that can enunciate dreadful curses, but couldn't bless a wart away... So yeah, that does constitute a rather significant oversight in my book, one that, at this length, weighs quite heavily. Add to that the rather generic sample curses, and we are left with a good little expansion, but one that lacks the little spark of brilliance to catapult it to the highest echelons. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Addendum: Blessings & Curses (Diceless)
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