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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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Plight of the Tuatha, Vol. 1: Feast Hall of Ash
Publisher: Mór Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/12/2014 06:52:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This freshman offering of Mór Games clocks in at 80 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 73 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look at this!



After a short introduction, we'll immediately jump into the meat of the module, but before we go there, let's first get some basics out of the way: First of all, there are some (but by no means many) alternate suggestions to make the module more challenging - a good feature and one I hope to see further developed, if mainly due to my players being generally bored by standard difficulty modules. Less experienced DMs benefit from copious advice-boxes interspersed throughout the module, which would be another plus.

All right, so the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



Still here? Good! The once proud Tuatha De Dannan, the elves, have been warring against the dread Fomoire - and ultimately lost, retreating into sacred trees concealed from the Fomoire and their bloodthirsty god with powerful magics. Bereft of their foes, the Fomoire turned their attention elsewhere and went away - and peace returned to the forests. Unfortunately for the PCs and anyone in general, this period of calm is about to come to a harsh end - or rather, already has, for we kick off this adventure in medias res, with the PCs being captured and caged by the vanguard of the Fomoire's host. The PCs are led to their cages, witnessing their grim doom in a sacrifice performed, driving home the importance of escaping - preferably soon.



Thankfully, during the night, a Tuath, the elven wizard Philiandrius contacts them - he's a fellow prisoner and still has spells memorized, but alas - no component pouch. Oh, and he's next in line for sarificing - and can help as a tool for the DM to help the PCs plot their escape - unfortunately for the PCs, before they can enact an escape plan, their adversaries nail Philiandrius' to a tree, ruining his hands (yes - ripped off Fingers...ouch!) - and thus, his arcane prowess. On the plus side, a window for escape presents itself soon, and provided the PCs prevail against their captors, they are free - alas, the boats are coming and they better warn their home (or otherwise treasured settlement) Iria. Philiandrius, now honor-bound to help them, pledges to defend the village with his arcane might - but in order to do so, the PCs have to seek out the near-mythical healer called "Ash" in the woods -before the Fomoire's bloody swath cuts their home to pieces and obliterates the souls of their kin and friends.



So the PCs are off through the Loc-Sil forest, where they'll encounter a lycanthrope woodsman (lycanthropes are nature spirits here, bound to people, and eternal adversaries of the otherworldy intruders known as fey...) -a conflict neatly showcased by the woodsman slaying a fey and transforming into his alternate form, as the nature spirit takes over. Rather cool - the map provided for the encounter has moonlight-bathed spots, in which the lycanthrope's prowess grows. The PCs may also encounter a bunch of children playing tag while chanting a weird rhyme - which is btw. fully depicted.



Meeting a bunch of unnerving (but benevolent) grigs (who probably don't understand the PCs) will point the PCs toward the Feast Hall of Ash - unfortunately, the little fey seem to be hesitant to go there. Why becomes apparent upon mentioning Ash to the fey- guards, so-called Ballybogs, for they immediately attack! Defeating the leaves Ash free to exit his tree - he was a powerful fey; at least before one Lord Armillaria took over his feast hall.



In order to save Philiandrius' hands, the PCs will have to retake the feast hall that has been taken over by the Niseelie, entering the strange domain of the fey. In order to pass this place, they will find quite a few interesting challenges - what about a game of story-telling, for example? And yes, we get rules for that. Also interesting would be that the children's chant and superstitions/folklore generally hold power within this setting, meaning tidbits like this actually matter also on a mechanical level. These are represented in so-called emergences that the PCs may receive - these can be lost as well, though - provided the PCs violate their tenets or don't properly roleplay them. Nice! Speaking of nice - a lot of the fae encountered herein come with disturbing and playful, often unique abilities that really help drive home their alien nature -also in their often not necessarily violent interactions with the PCs.



And yes, games of wits and dealing with sluaghs are part of the deal - the latter trying to coup de grace you and steal your lower jaw... Lord Armillaria in the meanwhile has a counterproposal for the PCs, asking them to kill Ash to have him heal Philiandrius -whatever the PCs decide (and provided they don't fall prey to the creature the chant warned about...), they'll get the appropriate emergence, allying them with a court. With the mage's injuries healed, the PCs have to race to Iria and prepare the town for the waves of Fomoire about to come crashing down on the little town.



Now here, I do have a nitpick - the preparations are problematic - using caltrops nets you a +1 to hit? That's not how caltrops work...and most of the benefits listed here DO NJOT conform to how such things are handled in PFRPG - concealment/cover etc. are also non-standard...and at times nonsensical: Why do archers on the roof get +2 to hit, whereas slingers on teh same roof get +2 to AC instead? Unfortunately, almost all of the preparation tactical advantages for the finale suffer from these glitches -here a new consulting of the respective rules would have helped. Other than that, the finale is rather challenging - or would be sans Philiandrius. The elf is simply too strong - circle of death, fireball, wall of fire - in direct comparison, the Formoire almost could evoke pity. This guy doesn't require the PCs to help in the finale. While the module has him take care of the majority of the hostile force, with the PCs guarding the villagers, this still feels somewhat anticlimactic - having the big bad elven wizard around the corner to step in to save you just doesn't feel that heroic to me. A DM should take great care to avoid stealing the show of the PCs...



The appendices contain the stats and portraits of the key NPCs, the town's statblock, aforementioned supplemental rules, various, lavishly detailed magic items (that really feel magical!), with one class even scaling throughout the levels, 10 new creatures found in the module, 4 pregens (all with original pieces of art) and a final page, on which short primers of NPCs alongside their pictures can be handed out to players - nice!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - while I didn't notice grievous glitches, some minor formatting glitches can be found. Layout adheres to an easy to read two column standard in full color, with key rules-information usually bolded for extra convenience and internal hyperlinking to e.g. the storytelling game depicted in the appendix. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with copious, nested bookmarks for maximum convenience. The artwork provided in here deserves special mentioning - all beautiful full-color and original, the individual pieces go well together and help evoke the sense of antiquity the module strives for. The maps are nice as well...but not particularly functional - one encounter map with fight-influencing terrain, for example, could have really used a large, player-friendly version - which holds true for all maps herein, really: Player-friendly maps in the appendix to print out and slowly uncover as the players progress would have imho helped - especially since per se, the maps are neat!



I did not expect to like this module. Yet *ANOTHER* setting? Oh, and with fey? Yeah, I've seen a lot of those - and excellent ones at that. If the frame of reference you compete against is "Courts of the Shadow Fey", you have a herculean task indeed. And guess what - author William Moomaw actually does a splendid job! Showing a distinct understanding for folklore, for what makes fey tick, this module reminded me of "Tales of the Old Margreve" in all the right ways, while still offering a superbly written, exciting, alien module, suffused with Celtic/Gaelic influences that seem to dominate the setting, lending itself not only to a sense of antiquity, but also to a surprisingly fresh take on fantasy module writing.



To give you a point of reference - this module actually has me stoked to learn more about the setting, with folklore, mini-games and emergences making for great cues of the things to come. Furthermore, the writing of both monsters and magic items also drive home a working knowledge of how to craft magic that actually feels magical.



Is this perfect? No, as a freshman offering, it's lack of player-friendly maps can be somewhat excused, though it still acts somewhat detrimental in my book. The second weakness would be the somewhat anticlimactic finale of the module and its rules-glitches, which, while not breaking the module, act as further detriments. Now don't be fooled - this still is a) one DAMN IMPRESSIVE freshman offering with more professional quality than many modules I've read and b) still a mostly awesome module, on I can wholeheartedly recommend. I'm already stoked to see the next module and if Mór Games continues to improve, we'll be seeing some 5 star+seal ratings - due to the aforementioned accumulated minor issues, though, I can't go any higher than 4 stars on this one. Still, if you like old world-style modules, fey or are looking for fluff that's not your run-of-the-mill fantasy, then be sure to check this out - it's one fine module.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Plight of the Tuatha, Vol. 1: Feast Hall of Ash
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Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2014 04:15:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf is 68 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 65 pages of content.



Yes, 65 pages of Interjection Games-level complexity content for me to analyze. Ouch. But I won't complain - instead, let's take a look at the base-class, the Truenamer: At d6, 2+Int skills per level, d6, good will-saves, 1/2 BAB-progression, we have no doubt a full caster on our hands. The first interesting component can be found in the proficiency section - truenamers do not take the classic arcane spell failure chance, instead increasing the DC of their recitations by at least +1 (for armor/shields etc. sans armor check penalty) or otherwise by their armor check penalty. It should be noted, that, while they do get proficiency with simple weapons, no shield or armor proficiencies are part of the deal, thus imposing a feat tax. Still, an interesting design decision here.



Okay, much like the malaligned original 3.X Truenamer, Bradley Crouch's class gets access to a diverse set of codices: First would be the codex of mind body, which is essentially a starter's codex. Truenamers start game with 3 recitations from this codex and get +1 at every level. At 4th level, the truenamer gets access to the codex of artifice, with another recitation gained at 5th level and every two class levels beyond that. The third codex, the codex of far-flung spheres, is gained at 7th level, with an additional recitation every 3 class levels after that. Finally, the codex of the realized vision nets the truenamer the first recitation at 10th level, with 14th, 18th and 20th netting additional recitations. All recitations gained are subject to their respective limitations/prerequisites.



Got that? Okay, so how do recitations work? First of all: Thank all philosophies you may or may not believe in - it's not a skill-check. How that system didn't work, anyone who tried truenaming in 3.X already knows. But it does maintain the spirit - there is a so-called truenaming check: DC 7 + 3xrecitation's level. The check is essentially a d20+class level+int-mod, saves against them 10+recitation level+int-mod analogous to spells. Relearning recitations, interaction with established spell schools (via similar schools), Spell Resistance - all the interactions with regular magic/spellcasting are taken into account. And yes, defensively reciting at the usual 5-DC-penalty is also included. Now it should be noted that truenaming magic always is verbal (d'uh), but rather interesting, penalties which would apply to a similar concentration-DC are halved.

Now failure has its price - 4 laws govern truenaming magic: Upon failing a truenaming check, the truenamer incurs a penalty to subsequent truenaming checks equal to the failed recitation's level for 5 rounds. Whenever a truenamer recites a recitation one level lower than the maximum of what s/he can recite, s/he may take 10 on the check, resulting in less chaos and some degree of reliability. VERY interesting would also be the law of flowing rhetoric - a truenamer cannot have the same effect twice in play, i.e. no two same recitations. Even if counterspelled or otherwise failed, a truenamer needs to wait for the recitation's duration to have elapsed to again try to utter it - this makes durations of buffs etc. a double-edged sword...interesting. Finally, the multiverse gets annoyed by truenamers asking the same thing over and over again -each subsequent use of a given recitation per day increases the truenaming DC by +2 until the truenamer has sufficiently apologized to the multiverse (i.e. rested).

If you're like me and think: "But what about the poor linguistics-skill!" - well, at first level, if you share a language with a creature (and truly share it, i.e. not via magic shenanigans), your recitations targeting that creature get a bonus of +2 to their truenaming check. At 2nd level and every two levels after that, you also learn an additional language - which may be nice, though personally, I would have preferred a tie with the linguistics-skill, but oh well.



Now if that wasn't enough complexity for you so far, at 3rd level the truenamer gets an inflection, and another one every 3 levels after that. A total of 15 different inflections are provided. These increase casting time of an recitation to a full-round action and also increase both the DC of the truenaming check to properly cast them and the law of malleability-DC by a fixed amount. The latter would be the law that makes casting consecutive iterations of the same recitation that day harder. Essentially, these are kind-of metamagic modifications that allow you additional effects, but at the cost of not being able to pull off the same trick that often. And yes, inflected recitations count as the base recitation for purposes of the law of limited malleability. These inflections allow you to e.g. substitute a chosen energy form with another, empower recitations, increase their range, maximize them or even penalize target creature's saves by -2 as well as forcing them to reroll the save and take the worse result. As you can glean, the respective inflection vary in strength, but thankfully are concisely balanced via level-requirements.

The class also gets a bonus to saves against language-dependant spells and at 12th level, may add two inflections to a given recitation (but at a further +2 to limited malleability) and finally, as a capstone, a truenamer may 1/day per codex take 20 on a truenaming-check.



We also get truenamer archetypes - The Orator gets a modified spell-list and increases the bonus gained for speaking a creature's language at higher levels at the cost of one inflection. Instead of the 12th level inflection, he becomes harder to demoralize (and more adept in this game of chicken!) He also becomes rather adept at prepared speeches, adding int-mod to them if he had time to prepare (does not extend to truenaming!). Instead of the double-inflection-trick, an orator gets a special inflection that extends a recitation to all creatures close to the primary target of the recitation.



The Truescribe can create one scroll per available codex, containing one recitation that does not influence the law of finite malleability, essentially netting the archetype a small pool of reserve recitations (which can't be used by others btw. - no UMDing these...) These special scrolls adhere to their own set of unique limitations and, while expanded via another ability, they remain thus limited. They also become particularly adept at resisting writing-leitmotif spells and effects and later even gain a save against the dreaded explosive rune-spell. At 12th level, they even have a shorthand, which allows for a difficult UMD-check to properly use their scrolls - rather cool.



The final archetype would be the verminspeaker, who gets the shared-language-bonus versus mindless creatures (thus making him/her also an ooze-talker or golemwhisperer) as well as a vermin-animal-companion sans share spells and very limited tricks. At 6th level, they learn an inflection that allows you to use mind-influencing effects on mindless beings...which can be VERY strong in my experience. DMs should take care when throwing golems and the like at a vermin speaker... Now each of these archetypes comes with a full table, and we also get an animal companion table, which is nice. On the very minor nitpick-side, the archetypes and base-class do have varying degrees of somewhat dead levels, but at full casters and in this case, that's okay in my book.



One final thing - recitations are grouped from levels 1 - 6. We also get FCOs for all base races, drow, orcs, puddlings, tieflings, aasimar, kobolds and hobgoblins and 12 special truenamer feats. These allow you to gain additional inflections, counterspelling recitations (two feats), recitation specialization (where a follow-up feat allows you recite that one defensively, sans the +5 DC penalty) and of course there also are feats for additional recitations. It should be noted that a feat makes secret languages accessible - which depending on your campaign, might be rather cool. Check with your DM regarding that one, though!



All right, got that? Great, let's take a look at some select recitations (though I'm NOT going through all in detail - you want this review to be shorter than 10+ pages, don't you?).



The first thing you'll note in the codex of the heart and mind would be that we not only get a list of all the recitations - beyond sharing a range of 60 ft and targeting one creature and applying SR, they actually have two effects! Take the attraction-recitation: You can pull creatures 10 feet in a straight line towards you, the movement netting a +4 dodge bonus to AC vs. AoOs. The reverse instead sends the target away. So far, so obvious, right? What about slightly increasing/decreasing DR? Things become more interesting with e.g. ice-themed attack recitations that can deal damage to targets or provide a defensive, cold-damage dealing sheen? Here, we have different durations for the regular and reverse effects and both have their own conditions to reduce the damaged target's movement speeds temporarily halved. And yes, temporarily raising zombies (or destroying mindless undead) is possible.



Rather awesome would be a recitation, which makes a target a living bomb - but also makes the target realize this, allowing it to being able to minimize collateral damage. The reverse is rather special as well - this one makes it possible to negate self-destruct abilities. Beyond the tinker's kamikaze directives, think certain staves and their planes-shattering final strikes. Yes, useful and unique. Many of these recitations actually work with rather cool durations/effects that only happen on the end of a recitation's duration, necessitating actual planning on behalf of the truenamer.



Now the codex of artifice is more about item-modification, allowing you to net temporary charges to wands (or make them consume twice that amount when used), buff weapons/armor etc. A minor nitpick here - the recitations dealing with charges should probably in their reverse function double the amount of charges consumed. As written, the recitations only consume "2 charges" when activated, which becomes problematic as soon as some item has abilities that cost multiple charges - is it double the charges or +1 charge consumed?



What about instilling alchemical items with paranoia, inciting them to go off? What about making items orbiting bodyguards or imbuing items as deadly splash weapons? Ranged stealing (via proper use of CMB etc.) or protecting belongings is possible! Very cool for those ambushes in the night - make temporarily hastily donned armor properly donned and vice versa.



The codex of the far-flung spheres has a range of 100 ft and an AoE of 20 ft. and, unless the first two codices, this one has only one effect per recitation. Barring creatures from teleporting, making creatures more adept at grappling etc. - all nice. But what about yodeling and making the target area difficult terrain? Yes, funny and oh so cool! What about insta-growing plants/fungi etc. for rations? Also VERY interesting - an area that deals damage to the target in it that has the MOST hp. This one has a LOT of tactical potential!



The final codex, the codex of the realized vision, is the one closest to regular spells, with just about every recitation featuring its own formal properties like individual ranges (e.g. 60 ft., personal, touch...) etc. Animating up to gargantuan animated objects, afflict targets with crushing ennui (save or do nothing -for 5 rounds! Ouch!), creating non-weaponized spheres that can dig tunnels for you. Also interesting: Cover the floor with material that deals +3d6 damage upon falling, including being tripped! Cool for its tactical options! Asking questions to the multiverse, fabricating objects ex nihilo - quite a few options here. Oh, and there is also a recitation that erases creatures from the multiverse - but instead of save-or-suck, it requires consecutive saves over the duration. Once the target has failed 3, s/he/it's gone - cool take on the mechanic - Think about players scrambling to take down the truenamer to prevent their comrade being erased! When mechanics in themselves make for more fun/excitement, then that's a good indicator for good design! (Preventing falls with huge spongy discs can also be achieved, should you be so inclined!)



Got all that? Well, there also are three (yes, 3) new prestige classes for the truenamer. Since this review already is rather long, I'll just give you the cliffnotes-version of them, all right? First would be the 5-level Speaker of the Word, essentially a combo-divine caster/truenamer, gaining cool synergy of truenaming/channel energy and limitedadditional recitations that work similar to divine spells. Iconic! The 10-level Willshackler is very interesting - the PrC studies a certain creature type and gains so-called command words, a total of 10 are available for selection. These have a diverging DC from the standard truenaming formula and allow you to narrow possible futures to force targets to do your bidding - non-mind-influencing! These words are rather powerful, iconic and well-worth the choice! (Oh and expelling targets from the universe, utterly destroying them via the utterance of a single name makes for a neat capstone!)



The final PrC, the wordsworn defender may need to be able to recite from the codex of far-flung spheres and have significant proficiencies (martial weapons + tower shields), but essentially, it takes the concept of truename magic working better bith armor and allows you to create a truenaming knight - bonus feats, d10 and especially...tower shield specialization. Yes. the poor, often neglected tower shield actually gets some unique tricks in this PrC - I so want to make these guys a guild/order in my campaign.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as superb as usual in Interjection Games' releases - I noticed a couple of punctuation glitches that make sentences that are finished look unfinished and similar minor glitches, nothing that impedes usability, though. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though don't expect bookmarks for individual recitations. You should print this beats for your game.



When author Bradley Crouch made this one, I cackled like a mad man for a second. Why? Because Interjection Games-classes tend to be HARD to review. They're complex, there's a lot of math and complex concepts in them. I once spent a total of 4 hours on a small Prestige Class-pdf. Yeah, they're work. Experience in my campaign has shown that they're also fun. I've tried all of them so far in my game (re all I've reviewed) and they tend to bring some rather unique tricks to the table. At this length, though...ouch. A lot of work. Then, there's truename magic. From the 3 cool, but universally failed concepts from 3.X's Tome of Magic, this one was probably the worst. (though Shadow Magic wasn't much better...) Pact Magic has since, to much acclaim and praise, been taken up by Radiance House with their superb Pact Magic Unbound-series.



So here's master Crouch taking on the terribly broken truenaming...and by divorcing it from skill-mechanics while maintaining (and honestly, greatly expanding) the customizability, this type of magic suddenly doesn't suck anymore - highly variable, the duration-based necessitating of planning of recitations makes playing this class a) effective and b) terribly rewarding. Not only are the effects unique, the book suffused by a neat trademark humor, they actually allow you to do things thoroughly different from what other casters can do, while maintaining compatibility and making playing these guys actually reward proper planning.



One can see the hand that wrote the superb ethermancer (btw. - the best warlock class I've seen in any d20-iteration...) here - which, with the in-game experience I have for that class by now, works much better (and more balanced!) than even the playtest I did for it predicted. Let me say this loud and clear - this system for truenaming is great. It's modular, versatile, comes with various class-options and unique PrCs and the overall casting and recitations are so compelling, so distinct from standard options, that I can all but recommend this one - while the price-tag may seem high, I can assure you this monster is worth each cent, offering a vast array of cool options and salvaging the truenaming concept, making it actually work while maintaining its distinct identity.

Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval and a spot on my list of candidates for my top ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Libram of the First Language: Truename Magic Reborn
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Legendary Classes: More Covenant Magic
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/09/2014 04:07:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

So this is the long-anticipated sequel to one of my top-ten books of 2013, the expansion to David Nicholas Ross' superb covenant magic book! A hard legacy to live up to, so let's take a look! Page-wise, we get 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 30.5 pages of content, so what do we get here?



Now I *assume* you're familiar with the exceedingly cool, but also complex medium class from Legendary Classes: Covenant Magic in this review, so if you're not, please check that one. Okay, back? Great! We kick off with not only a short side-box covering the role of mediums in the game-world, but also new influences - each with its own bonus language, trance covenants, SLs, recommended boons and unique capstone fundamental influence.

And if you're like me and were missing some in the original to realize specific concepts, this one will provide - We get the Abyssal Hordes, Daemonic Oblivion, Ancestors (Orisions, anyone? Spirit-shaman/skaldic traditions?), Dark Tapestry (YEAH!), Deathly Fear,Draconic, Eternal order, Lifegiver, Lore, Natural, Occult, Primal Chaos, Time, Trickery and Walking Dead Influences.



It is within the nature of these that I ought to go into very specific detail to point out *why* they work - the thing is, it's not that easy. I could bore you by replicating all respective spell-lists/trance covenants and gush about why the respective spell lists are actually well-balanced and thematically fitting - but that wouldn't help you that much, so instead let's take a look what these offer: Law/Chaos-axis? Check. Evil non-devilish outsiders? Check - especially cool that daemons didn't get skimmed over! Shamanistic traditions/nature-theme? Check. Dragons & Dark Tapestry? Check. What about more obscure ones like "Deathly Fear"? well we get a concise list of sample creatures of this category that include avorals, azatas, but also animate dreams, bogeymen, crypt things etc. - the level of detail here is what makes the difference between a category that could have been arbitrary and one that actually feels like it works, like it's concise.



Anti Undead/Undead? Check. Pathfinder/Scholar-theme? Check. Occult detective style, guided by spirits? Check. Trickster/Time-master? Check. Seriously, all the concepts that were hard to pull off in the original pdf now just rise from the page while reading.



Better yet - the last page of the pdf and the section after these influences are devoted to a short errata of the original pdf and an FAQ devoted to helping less experienced players with the medium-class and the integration of covenants into a game. Better yet: A handy spirit boon table for use of reference with this and its predecessor book and a handy combined covenant cost table make the superb material even easier to use.



Now you may be aware of Radiance House's Pact Magic Unbound-series and I've been asked time and again whether Covenant and Pact Magic work together. So let's get this out of the way once and for all: Yes, they do. In fact, perfectly! Think of Pact Magic as the occultist's/Pro's take on binding specific spirits, whereas mediums gravitate to a more general allegiance and they perfectly coexist, doing things quite differently, but at the same time working neatly in concert. This is also neatly represented by 5 new feats, of which 3 are adaptations of feats from pact Magic, reworked for covenant magic. It should be noted that Purple Duck Games explicitly states this in a superb example of 3pp-cameradrie when they could have just relegated this information to the SRD. So what do the feats do? Longer trance, +1 spirit boon at 4 levels lower, pick one SL from your list to switch spontaneously against another one, opt to exclude creatures from activated covenants, bonus to saves and a feat that makes SUs provoke AoOs against you - a must-have feat for hunters of the occult!



Next up would be new archetypes, with the Animist Druid being first. This druid loses wild shape, nature sense and similar abilities in favor of some covenant magic/trance...with a neat twist: You'd expect the archetype to prescribe influences, but no such crippling choice. Yes, you can actually play a druid haunted by the outer dark, inspired by the heavenly host or the like...beyond, of course, the evident theme that this archetype gels really well with the elemental influences! Now where there's a druid in that manner, a ranger won't be far and yes, a ranger focused more on being guided by totem spirits/ancestors/demons from friggin' hell - possible.



The Medium may now opt for the Blood Shaman archetype, which is VERY interesting - mediums cast 6 levels, sorcs 9 and this archetype grants a sorc's bloodline corresponding to the influence of the medium's influence as SLAs, broken down to the medium's spell-like ability array - but at the cost of being able to use the influence trance covenants while in trance. This is one of the rare archetypes that looks none too impressive on paper until you try wrapping your head around it and see the possibilities....of which there are quite a lot. Alas, before you power-gamers out there rejoice - for balance's sake, the archetype gets no bloodline arcanas. Hex mediums are a simple, yet elegant archetype that replaces spirit boon with a hex at 1st level, 2nd level and every even one after that. As a minor nitpick here - the archetype is intended to also offer major and grand hexes at the respective levels, whose starting level of availability the ability fails to mention. Since the hex-progression is analogue to the witch's, I'll let that slide, though. Still, quite powerful.



The Medium can also opt for the master of the occult archetype, which is my naughty dream come true - Pact Magic/Covenant Magic crossover-archetype. Yeah. There you have it. *drool**salivate* No spirit boons, but the option to bind spirits, constellations concisely broken down according to influences...glorious.



The Inner Eye Fighter gets spirit guides, may detect spirits and can wilder among the spirit boons for a cool take on the supernatural fighter. Similarly, the metaphysical alchemist gets a spirit guide and may also dabble in spirit boons, but loses the bomb class feature - great for people who'd rather go the philosophicla route than that of the demolition's expert. The Protican would be a sorceror who gets an influence according to their bloodline and loses one known spell per spell level, but gain the influence's bonus spells. They may also enter covenant supplicant feats instead of their bloodline feats - interesting! Revelation Mediums replace spirit boon with access to a revelation that thematically matches their influence. Spirit Sage bards may have no bardic knowledge, but they can enter trances and perform séances and finally, trance warriors are barbarians with a kind of battle trance (+2 Str, Cha, +4 Con) and wilder a bit in medium-territory - though at the cost of those delicious rage powers.



Next up would be 27 different covenants - unearthly weapons, auras of madness or consumption, punitive gazes, SLs, curses, diseased attacks, interplanetary teleports, become a nexus of negative energy, heal by tapping into time...quite an array of cool covenants, all ready at one's finger tips.



Let me note something here. I'm using a LOT of 3pp-classes, primarily because I think some of the coolest, most awesome classes out there, are 3pp. The bane of my existence as a DM, though, tends to be that first thing I do once I found a great new class...is make chars/NPCs. A lot of them. From a lowly CR 2 goblin medium to a CR 19 level 20 elven revelation medium (though there is a minor glitch in teh statblcoks to be found), we actually get 13 sample statblocks here, all ready to throw into your campaign at the flick of your wrist, not only fully statted, but also using the new rules herein. This is glorious and a practice I'd hope more publishers would follow.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are quite good - while here and there italicizations of spells are missing, no wording issues that would have impeded my understanding of the book cropped up. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly 2-column standard. The pdf also comes with several GORGEOUS full-color artworks by Jacob Blackmon, Gary Dupuis and Mark Hyzer. Especially the wendigo of the latter will bring you nightmares...in the good way. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The more complex a class is, the more moving parts it has, the harder it s to design for - pity, but it's like that. When I heard that the original author would not be the one in charge of the expansion, I wasn't too thrilled. Well along came author Julian Neale (with Mike Myler doing additional writing) and tackled a mammoth task. My expectations for this were HIGH and I took a fine-tooth comb to the spell-lists and options herein...and instead of finding disappointment, I found rapture. *insert bioshock jokes here*



This is one of the expansions that isn't flashy at first sight, that takes a bit of time to settle, to click to register in the possibilities it offers. You'll need to read this carefully, and slowly - the writing is very concise. Once all the potential does sicker in, you won't stop grinning regarding all those character concepts now at the call of your finger tips. This is a superb expansion to a glorious system, one that breathes the spirit (pardon the pun) of 3pp-cooperation, one that significantly increases the concepts and options that can be realized with covenant magic...and as the icing on the cake, it makes using everything more comfortable for both player and DM. Seriously, if only all expansions were this good! Julian Neale has done a tremendous job here and the linking with pact magic, at least if the folks who've contacted me are any indicator, will not only find resounding applause with me. Better yet - if you're not into pact magic, you still won't have lost much page-count - less than a page, in fact. That's what I mean with concise design - a short, humble archetype, a whole cosmos of interactions/possibilities.

This pdf manages to maintain the stellar quality of its predecessor. Think how I gushed about that one. Yeah. It's perhaps less obvious in this expansion, but believe me - this is superb. stellar and making it was quite probably A LOT, an AWFUL LOT of work. Let's sum it up: Superb new content. Infinitely more options. Sample NPCs, easier to use due to comfortable tables. Nice FAQs to further help. Neat production values. Spell-selections in influences that are neither boring, nor obvious and always balanced. Wow. Just wow. 5 stars + seal of approval, would go higher if I could, candidate for my Top Ten of 2014. Must own for anyone using covenant magic. Fans of pact magic looking for synergy/ways to blend both need this as well. And if you have neither Pact Magic, nor Covenant Magic...what are you doing? Take a look at them! They have A LOT of awesome roleplaying potential to add to the table.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: More Covenant Magic
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The Bleeding Hollow Deluxe Adventure
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2014 04:42:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mega-adventure clocks in at 133 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 page ToC, 2 pages backer list, 2/3rds of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 125 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this massive module with a foreword by Frank Mentzer and an intro of TPK Games' Brian Berg - novice-DMs: Read these! Why? Because if your players are used to level-appropriate challenges, CRs they always can defeat etc. - then this is a change of pace. This module is old-school and a sandbox, meaning the PCs will encounter foes they'd better pass by - and also meaning that there's no easy plot-train to jump on. As a sandbox, this module endeavors to be modular and player action driven, so make sure your players know what they're getting into. Now before I get into the module's plot, I want to address two more things: Difficulty and structure.



TPK Games isn't exactly know for cakewalk modules and this one is no different - if your players don't fight smart, take care of their resources and if they think they can charge into any encounter without thinking, they will die. Still, difficulty is below the at times downright brutal classics Frog God Games provides -this is no Rappan Athuk-level meatgrinder. In fact, it is actually easier than the "Reaping Stone" - if you make sure that your players are at least moderately capable regarding stealth.



This has a reason that becomes evident soon - first of all, in the level of detail offered regarding the two settlements herein, the town of Westden Falls and the ailing mining town Bertram's End. The towns come with copious details, often offering a b/w-picture per NPC - yes, shopkeepers, landlords etc. - quite a lot of illustrations there. More relevant for the type of DM who isn't used to improvising stats for townsfolk (or their dialogue) - both are provided. Especially the read-aloud texts for likely questions asked of the respective NPCs should help DMs that tend to experience problems with the thespian tasks of DMing. It should also be noted that the villages come with village statblocks and neat b/w-maps (though player-friendly maps of the two, sans numbers etc., would have been nice...). Furthermore, the adventure comes with quite a few quests - these can be considered mini-quests for the fulfillment of one of the adventure hooks, for completing optional goals etc. - personally, I tend to structure my adventures like this, so nothing new for me, but most AP-players coming fresh to a sandbox will probably enjoy having these explained in detail as well.



Now, while this *is* a sandbox in the true sense, the module still has a plot and a progression, which hence comes with milestones (levels) that make it easy for the DM to judge whether the PCs are ready for (read: Have a chance to survive) the challenges ahead. What's also rather nice (and something I've been doing as well) - the module offers tangible benefits for eating good food and drinking certain beverages, rewarding players for the arduous task of food tracking - why? Because this module, in part, is a wilderness scenario, including a table of weather by the day, temperatures etc. - the later in °F AND °C, btw. - awesome! For once I don't have to on-the-fly change °F to °C - great service for all customers there.



Now the PC's adventure starts off upon arriving in the town of Westden Falls (whose NPCs, as mentioned, are extremely detailed and offer quite some material for further adventures/sub-plots) via one of several VERY detailed hooks, which btw. all potentially can work together.



Since from here on out, I'll be going into the details and challenges of the plot, I'd like to ask potential players to skip to the conclusion NOW - from here on reign the SPOILERS!



Only DMs left? Good! Sooner or later, the PCs will have to leave the comfortable safety of Westden Falls behind - whether to find missing spice merchants, missing elves, re-open trade-routes by killing off a bunch of harpies or escort a seamstress to a scheduled wedding. Unfortunately for the PCs, weather turns sour...extremely sour. In fact, weather has been foul for some time, but a winter-style cold snap in the middle of summer is impending and the PCs will have to track not only supplies and stand up to terrible storms, they will also have to cross a terribly fragile bridge and finally, hopefully reach a ruined church at the half-way point between the two settlements. Said dilapidated church by now is not only a dangerous environment, it's also the base of the harpies that have been plaguing the area, offering chances for the PCs to vanquish these foes. Beyond that, the church also hides the lab of the missing spice merchants, which in truth were merchants of poison and death.



Beyond the church, the forests hide a massacre of elves - which introduce a further meta-plot element: The wood elves, who sold their lives 15 to 1 against gnolls and ogres and worse, were the caretakers of the magical seed of the Arsae Laidir, their powerful tree of life, which stands at the center of their enclaves. Upon overpopulation, wood elves go out with a seed in an exodus to start a new enclave....only this time, the exodus has been stopped dead in its tracks. The seed is missing and via speak with dead or similar means, the PCs may find out about it - and it spells bad news indeed. The seed is tabula rasa when it germinates and can be forced to gestate - by creating special circumstances of blood and death, the seed could be tainted with terrible consequences.



If the Werewolf-ogre barbarian crashing through trees wasn't enough implication - Bertram's End has fallen. The village is now a truly grim reminder of the dread consequences of failure on the side of adventurers, with the mining town being wholly overrun by gnolls of the Bloodfang tribe. It should be noted that both their wolves and the gnolls themselves are variants - the gnolls more often than not lupine creatures with their unique tricks. (And if you want more variants, Krenshar-style or even two-headed gnolls are part of the appendix of the module, where some great variants are provided.)



Beyond that, the mining town by now is the place of dreadful atrocities committed daily against the remaining populace - and it is here, stealth becomes relevant. While nothing keeps PCs from starting guerrilla warfare, a group of PCs trying to take the village by unsubtle force will suffer. Thankfully, the module includes patrolling routes etc. - and beyond saving the groups of villagers (or administering euthanasia - there are shades of grey-decisions here), the PCs can also find another subplot: The town's founder is known nowadays under an alias, having faked his death back in the day and the insane alchemist has indeed made his mine a dangerous place to traverse - whether to escape the town, escort NPCs outside or just to finally end the mad alchemist's experiments, there's a dangerous dungeon here. Things get even more complicated by a honey-tongued accomplice of the alchemist, ready to try to bribe the gnolls with the last, polymorphed survivor of the elves remaining... (It's a bit of a pity said elf gets no stats, but oh well...)



The clock's ticking, though -every day, a child is sacrificed to the seed in order to corrupt it and to truly vanquish the evil, the PCs not only have to get rid of the dread gnolls besieging the city, but also interrupt the ritual conducted by the vile druidic lycanthrope mastermind behind the woes that have befallen the area. The ritual itself and stopping it turns out to be a truly tough final battle in the titular bleeding hollow, with the ritual's properties offering some rather unique effects that make the combat against Jirak Thoole a memorable final encounter. It should also be noted that some (though by far not all) encounters come with scaling advice +/-1 level.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not always perfect - I noticed a couple of minor glitches, though not enough to truly hamper the overall experience. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice original pieces of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the hardcover is solidly crafted. The b/w-maps are glorious, but the absence of player-friendly maps makes for a minor detriment. Especially the mine's levels could have used hand-out style maps, since they are VERY small in the pdf/book. So map-wise, in spite of the quality, some minus-points here.



Brian Berg, PJ Harn, Rick Cox and Bernie McCormick's Bleeding Hollow is per se a great dark fantasy sandbox and a surprisingly beginner-DM friendly one - while not as easy to run as more linear modules, the detail each statblock provides (often explaining each ability), the copious sidebars and extensive, well-written read-aloud prose, make this sandbox surprisingly easy to run - which wasn't what I was expecting, to be honest. The Bleeding Hollow turns out to be a challenging, dark adventure, yes, but also one that is relatively easy to run. Now branding-wise, I have *somewhat* of a problem with this being labeled "wilderness" or "survival" - after the journey, the survival aspect becomes more of a background theme, but I won't complain about that - while generally, I would have preferred a second journey section to the finale, I won't hold that against the book. In fact, this sandbox makes for a great introduction of moderately experienced DMs to old-school style gaming and its peculiarities and is defiantly dark in tone - all in all, a fun sandbox with a believable villain and iconic areas. If I had to voice gripes, it would be that "The Reaping Stone" spoiled me regarding epic boss fights (a multi-phase final fight would have been nice) and, more importantly that the maps are problematic - whether in the dead-tree version or in the pdf, printing them out in their at times VERY small depictions, cutting them out etc. just doesn't make for a comfortable use, requiring you to essentially redraft them, if you want to hand them out. Having these as hand-outs would have made the module so much easier to use...



Still, the overall module is great, deadly, fun, atmospheric and easy to run - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform and this nice introduction to old-school sandbox gaming. Just make sure to take some time to get the maps done...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Bleeding Hollow Deluxe Adventure
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Feasting at Lanterngeist
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2014 04:39:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/plug-in to the Carrion Crown adventure path is 22 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page explanation of what an AP-plug-in is,2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Okay, if you've read the Carrion Crown AP, you'll probably have noticed that #3 and #4 not only have a thematic shift, but rather that there's no real lead-in to #4, making the transition of arguably, genres of horror from classic gothic to xothic all the more jarring. This module serves as a means to mitigate this change of tone.



At this point in the AP's story-line, the PCs are hot on the heels of a certain fugitive rider, arrive in Illmarsh - just in time for the Lanterngeist-festival, the one time of the years when outsiders aren't as badly stigmatized in the xenophobic community. Following event 2 from #4 of the AP, the PCs thus actually get a chance to socialize and rub shoulders with the populace of Illmarsh - but only for a short while, since several festival goers have been found murdered. Worse: Sheriff Rill Anders seems to be dead and only under-sheriff Grumph remains -time for the heroes to be recruited to help out! Grumph has his own theory suspecting the haunting of a ghost of old and proceeds to share this one en route to the first crime scene here and at the second crime scene, players and PCs alike may start investigating the strange happenstances that indeed seem to suggest at first glance the actions of an axe-happy undead returned to destroy the living - which, of course means that he and the militia have to secure the crime-scenes while the PCs go ahead...



And as axe-happy, strange people are wont to have strange cabins in the woods, it should come as no surprise that this is exactly the next destination - where, after more disturbing investigation and clue-accumulation, the PCs are attacked by a vile slugspawn, basest of Shub-Niggurath's Moits. On their way back, the PCs will find next to no traces of the militiamen -only bloodied whistles and arrows that point towards the under-sheriff wreaking havoc - in town, he's nowhere to be found, though, and the mayor asks them to prevent further bloodshed during the festival - which proves to be harder than anticipated, for the slugspawn and the under-sheriff under their control have nothing nice planned for the PCs. In order to triumph, the PCs have to prevent apple-bobbing in a slugspawn-infested tub, not kill a fake headless horseman (part of the more macabre elements of the festival!) and finally track the homicidal under-sheriff, who is by now in the clutches of the dread creatures - which may result in a Resident Evil 4 Las Plagas-style head-explosion and full-blown mutation into the true and final adversary of this module.



The pdf concludes with a short help-primer (extremely useful) for running this module in the middle of AP #46.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as by now expected from Legendary Games, is top-notch - I didn't notice any glitches. The pdf adheres to a two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The pdf comes with atmospheric charcoal- rubbing style maps as handouts and provides quite an array of beautiful, original pieces of full-color artworks for the mayor NPCs, environments and adversaries. The pdf is bookmarked with a total of 2 bookmarks - read: None that would help, meaning you should definitely print this one out.



The page-count seems meager, but this is Greg A. Vaughan we're talking about - and he knows how to write concise! Furthermore, the font-size is actually rather small, meaning that there's A LOT of information per page - which is neat! So how does this module hold up? It's a short, sweet, simple murder-investigation and one with adversaries that imho are more interesting than the relatively tired adversaries of #46, which at this point have become somewhat predictable in the environment they're found in. This will make sense for experienced DMs. So yes, overall, I consider this not only genre-wise, but also flavor-wise a well-crafted addition to the AP, one that brings the whole issue more to life and well worth of 5 stars and seal of approval - though I wished it were longer, more complex, more detailed - in short: I would have preferred "Feasting of Lanterngeist Extended" over "Wake of the Watcher" - but one can't have everything, now, can one? To cut a long ramble short - a great plug-in with superb production values, 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feasting at Lanterngeist
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The Sinking: The Skullfire Inquisition
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/08/2014 04:34:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of 0onegames' short modules centering on one catastrophe is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure-review, this review contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



Still here? All right!

Blood Senator Eldon Vulgrax contacts the PCs to escort one of his contacts in the Temple Ward from a safe house to true safety - unfortunately, said man, one Myron (or Byron, the module isn't sure there) Galdemarr, has already been captured by the Skullfire Inquisition - a militant arm following the church of the newly incepted Cult of Lazarus. Turns out, the safe house isn't that safe and a whole team of inquisitors is ransacking the place, looking for Byron/Myron's silver sextant. It should be noted that the module here makes a lot of references to "move silently", which should be "stealth" - easily avoidable glitch there.



Via minor investigative skills, the PCs track the inquisitors to a warehouse, which they can infiltrate (though the watchdog chimera will provide a challenging foe) and then make their way through subterranean torture chambers - via drugs, prisoners are made pliable, then they are subjected to the tender ministrations of the villain and his gargoyle ally - turns out, they have an item that, when placed upon the brow of a target, lights up and has their thoughts and memories literally burned away. The torture master may inhale these fumes to know the respective contents. A vile (and fully depicted) item. Oh, and the hiding place of the sextant is actually smart enough to make the adversaries not look like complete tools for not getting it.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, though some glitches have crept into the module. None of them are truly glaring, though. Layout adheres to 0onegames' elegant, nice two-column b/w-standard with awesome pieces of b/w-artwork and neat cartography, though sans player-friendly versions. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Michael O' Day's Skullfire Inquisition is a straight-forward rescue scenario that comes with some nice ideas, but ultimately mostly boils down to "KILL EVERYTHING". Don't expect much social interaction, investigation or the like. That being said, the adversaries herein are delightfully despicable and the item they use is dastardly indeed - there ought to be no question after that who bad guys are. Which is also one of the weaknesses of this module. The meta-plot of "The Sinking" has set up a particular faction as enigmatic and weird, but not clearly as evil - and this module ends suddenly, with one blast, all pretenses: Said faction is revealed to be vileness incarnate, capital "E" EVIL. And the meta-plot suffers from that, at least in my opinion. When weirdness and enigma before this module made the faction in question intriguing and frightening, now it is simply yet another group of vile bullies for the PCs to crush. In fact, at least in my opinion, this module ends one of the most intriguing questions in a surprisingly one-dimensional way, not starting with how fast said faction got access to significant resources. Is the module bad? No. It may be a bit railroady and combat-focused, but it's not a bad offering. But it also isn't a mind-blowing one and resolves one enticing open question in a very disappointing manner. I'm not sure whether that's due to meta-plot-issues or the author's prerogative, but it left me a bit less excited than I was prior to reading this about The Sinking. Still, the price-point is excellent and hence my final verdict will clock in at a tentative 3 stars since I can't fault the module for having the meta-plot not live up to my expectations.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: The Skullfire Inquisition
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New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:11:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation of the New Paths-series, including quite a bunch of new content), clocks in at 130 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 124 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, from the get-go - I did reviews for the arcane paladin-class, the Battle Scion, the Spell-less Ranger, Shaman, White Necromancer, Monk/Ninja and Gunslinger-installments of the series, so if you're interested in a direct breakdown of these, please take a look at the respective reviews. I will, though, mention the new content or fixes. I also did not review the elven archer-pdf (simply because I don't have it), so that one will get its breakdown. Got that? Great!



So let's take a look at the elven archer, shall we? A racially restricted class (only elves and half-elves may apply), it gets d8, 6+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light armors, bucklers, full BAB-progression, good ref- and fort-saves, prepared divine spellcasting of up to 4th level with wis as governing attribute and track/wild empathy at first level. Beyond that, the class adds so-called precision-damage, +1d6, against foes denied their dex-bonus within 30 ft., increasing this by 1d6 damage every 5 class levels. This damage also applies when flanking with the bow, which becomes possible at 16th level.



Eleven archers are bow specialists and at 2nd level, get a bonus feat (another one every 3 levels) and count as fighter-levels -3 for purposes of feat qualification. They also get a creature type à la favored enemy at 3rd level and gets +2 to several skills pertaining them, as well as +2 to damage and atk against them. This bonus scales up to +6 - but choose wisely, for the archer may choose only one such target! Beyond that, these archers may hide in natural environment sans concealment, ignore specific difficult terrains, leaves no trails, can track faster and later even no longer provoke AoOs with the bow in melee. Beyond that, the elven archer at 9th level learns to temporarily enchant arrows and imbue them with special magical qualities. The class later also learns to deal more devastating shots against stationary targets by taking aim - though this only becomes available at 13th level. Now the class also comes with 3 alternatives for other races.

For example, the halfling sling master, who is rather similar to the elven archer, but instead of bonus feats, the alternate class gets a special trick to perform with the slingshot at 5th level and every 6 levels after that. Trick shots include ricochets and detrimental conditions that can be exchanged for precision damage - sans saves. OUCH. They also get rapid reload for slings. They also are more stealth-focused.



Dwarven Crossbowyer can ignore partially armor, shield and natural armor bonuses, carry more equipment, get a favored terrain and essentially get the elven archer's bonuses in forests instead in caves/earthen environments. The final variant, the mystic archer, has no race restrictions. They are rather similar to the eleven archers (minus the foresty/stealthy components), but at 5th and every 6 levels after that, they may choose from a special array of tricks. All in all, solid, if a bit conservative classes.



Next up would be a new class, the savant. The class gets a d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and they start game with 3 knacks and expand that up to 8 at 20th level. Savants may assume a persona for 3+cha-mod minutes per day. A persona is just the name for a given combination of knacks. Some of these are spell-like abilities that duplicate arcane or divine spells and follow the usual restrictions regarding these forms of magic, including DCs - in stark contrast to the regular DC, which clocks in at the expected 10+1/2 class level+cha-mod.. Embodying a persona is a full-round action that doesn't provoke AoOs. The knacks allow the savant to temporarily gain access to proficiencies, items, +4 (scaling up to +8) bonus to attributes, spells (limited in level by the savant class level), skills, racial tricks (like scent or swim speed) and even temporarily boost his BAB. Now as if this kind-of-jack of-all-trades-style ability wasn't enough, a savant also has a notebook - by observing certain happening, he may enter specifics on equipment, feats, races etc., gaining power literally as he observes and travels - much like the emulation of abilities in Rite Publishing's Taskshaper, this means a DM ought to tell the player in question in detail to very carefully keep the books regarding this notebook. Now another interesting thing here is that the savant needs to observe at least a minute and then get to noting this fast - and there's a daily limit on what he can jot down, so some planning involved as well.



Later, the savant also gets advanced knacks with natural attacks, healing (also negative conditions), apply metamagic etc. further increasing the options available. They also learn to conjure forth so-called avatars of legends - essentially cohorts with access to knacks that can be summoned, but which remain only as long as concentration si maintained - cool! The savant later also learns to combine knacks into a so-called hyperbole, , switch knacks etc. and finally, the savant may even share knacks with allies and as a capstone, maintain concentration on their avatars as a move action. All in all, the savant may be a book-keeping intensive class, but also a rather rewarding spinner of tall-tales jack-of-all-trades-style class - that is also sufficiently different from Drop Dead Studios' Dilettante! Kudos for a smart design here! We also get advice for playing the character, as well as a sample character and 3 sample avatars of legend - neat! All in all, one damn fine example of great design, an iconic idea properly realized. Kudos, two thumbs up, great work!



The Spell-less ranger also gets a variant class herein, the skin-changer - this one's interesting: Learning to change into the forms and animals and specializes in better natural attacks. No animal companion, though, and a different list of talents. The skin-changer also gets natural armor etc. - per se a concept none too complex in what it tries to do, but remains very evocative in its versatile options - the variant class remains one of the more iconic ones I've seen and makes for a great addition - once again - fine work indeed!



The next new class would be the theurge - d6, +Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, good will-saves and prepared spellcasting -arcane spellcasting via Int and divine spellcasting via Wis - both from first level on. A Theurge gets a spellbook and a prayerbook and the latter requires the divine spells to be learned similar to arcane spells - from scrolls or levels. However, a theurge may wilder in e.g. druid or inquisitor spell-lists. Which leads me to a massive issue: Not all spells are available for all classes at the same level, making for possible cherry-picking (not only content, but also level-wise!) here, not to start with VERY powerful class-exclusive spells....Think Paladin, Inquisitor, Druid, Magus, Witch...ouch. Yes, there may be costs etc. While first, slots are distinct from another, starting at fourth level, arcane spells may be prepared via divine slots and vice versa, but at a penalty level-wise to the spell prepared, i.e. second level spells need to be prepared as third level spells etc. The capstone gets rid of this minor penalty, though. At 5th level, theurges may cast two spells at once - one arcane, one divine, both imposing a -4 penalty to saves 1/day +1/day 6 levels after that. They also learn to cast a select limited array of spells as SLs. So, I'll be frank here - this class is OP in my opinion. Being able to wilder in any classes spell-list, cherry-picking any exclusives sans penalties or limits is very powerful. A full caster that can cast both divine and arcane spells is a cool concept, but this class drops the ball hard regarding the balancing of spell-levels and spell-lists - there ought to be some kind restriction here.

And yes, the amount of spells cast (which never increases above 2 arcane + 2 divine per level (+ bonus spells via Int + Wis) is severely restricted. It means every spell needs to count. But for a class which may pick the best of the best of ANY casting class, with this amount of flexibility, that also means that every cast WILL count. Which brings me to another issue - I get that the general restriction on spells-slots is there for balance. I'm not sold, though, that it'll make for a particularly fun playing experience. Sure, once you hit out your crême de la crême spells, you'll own the game...but what about the other time? Unlike most other classes, the theurge has nothing but spellcasting. And you don't have enough spells for proper utility tricks, proper buffing, proper debuffing - essentially the class is geared very much toward being flashy super-spell nova-heavy. Which you *may* like, but personally, I think the class would have been more rewarding with more casts per day and a more restricted balancing via spells known. I was not sold on the class concept and playtesting it at level 4, 12 and 16 didn't help either - mainly due to 2 things - theurges at higher levels can be superb crafters - with access to ALL spells and the option to learn just about every spell, these guys can craft like crazy. They may also use just about every spell-in-a-can-item conceivable by virtue of their all-encompassing spell-lists, which means that theurges in game probably will resort quite a lot to wand/staff-slinging when not casting their flashy super-spells.

It's a glass pumpgun (also re buffs/debuffs) - two devastating shots and empty. Personally, I'd be not keen as a DM to structure my adventures to "empty" the super spell-arsenal of the theurge or to play one, trying to keep my super-ammo for the big bad boss. Now all of this sounds negative, but the class per se is not a bad design, it does have its niche in which it will excel superbly. While I'm not sold on the place in a regular adventuring group, I do think the theurge will work superbly in 1 on 1-adventures and small groups - especially if the DM modifies adventures accordingly, groups starved for players get essentially divine and arcane in one class without resorting to gestalting - so yeah, the theurge has its niche, though I maintain it could have been more versatile in its use.



Of course, we also get new archetypes - the elven archer gets the Royal Guardian, a more urban Night Watch-style archer and the Plains Rider, a mounted archer. Apart from that, all the archetypes you'd expect from the base-pdfs can be found herein. It should also be noted that the archetypes have been mostly cleaned up re typos in the originals etc. - nice to see.



In the next chapter, we get a whole slew of traits and feats - also fodder for the new classes, with feats to improve the savant's avatar of legend, leadership for animals - I've covered a lot of these in former reviews. Unfortunately, not all gripes I had with some have been fixed. Take Eagle Style: Upon a successful dirty trick, you can substitute making the target mute for your regular effect. Doesn't sound so bad? Well...no duration. The muteness is, as written, PERMANENT. Yes, this one was broken in the original and is still - but it should be noted that overall, cases like this remain the exception, rather than the rule. Generally, the feats herein can be considered worthwhile additions, with some of the more esoteric style-trees especially coming to mind.



Marc Radle's scaling combat feats from Gygax Magazine #1 are also included herein - and while I still consider them a good idea, I still think it would have been nice to have a note detailing handling the chain balance-wise - it's a slight shift - not a big one, but it exists. It should also be noted that, since the original inception of the idea, TPK Games have released two pdfs of scaling feats, covering the whole core-book and the APG, so if you plan on using scaling feats, make sure that it's clear which system you're going to use.



The spells herein provide rather iconic options - whether conjuring forth Rivers of Moonlight, weaving deadly magics into your arrows/bolts/sling-stones, cast cool bone-themed spells or rain fangs down upon your foes. All in all, a nice array of casting options. We also are introduced to a total of 7 weapon types, various pieces of equipment and magic items and also the 3 legendary items (the level-scaling variant, not the one from Mythic Adventures), depicting the regalia of Gax the Great.



The book concludes with sheets - for animal companions, arrow tracking sheets, favored enemies/terrain, prepared spell tracking sheets, spirit guide, summon monster-sheets and even a wildshape-sheet make for a massive array of neat sheets that will prove to be useful.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - there are next to no glitches in this massive compilation, which is quite a feat at this length. The pdf comes with a relatively printer-friendly two-column full color standard and the artworks in full color are neat and numerous and original/former cover illustrations - all in all, a beautiful book. The pdf comes with massive, nested bookmarks, making the book easy to navigate. I can't comment on the physical book, since I only own the pdf.



Designers Marc Radle, Ryan Costello Jr., Crystal Frasier, John Ling Jr., Jerall Toi, Wolfgang Baur, Matt Blackie, Charles Lee Carrier, Chris Harris, Stu Logan, Nicholas Milasich, Mitch Radle, Vincent Colon Roine, Justin Sluder and Michael Timpe have crafted a massive crunchy book full of (mostly!) awesome classes, several of which had player characters in my current campaign. The Savant is a glorious class, the theurge - well, as you've read, I'm not 100% sold on it, but oh well. The archer-classes are nice, if a bit conservative and linear for my tastes. The other classes - well, check the respective reviews for those.



The supplemental information and crunch provided also falls within this spectrum - mostly, the content herein ranges from good to awesome, but here and there, we can find a piece of crunch that could have used some streamlining. On the downer-side, I REALLY expected favored class options, at least for the Midgard and Core-races herein for the new classes and their absence is a bit of a let-down.



How to rate this, then? The New Paths Compendium is a nice resource, if not a perfect one and while the book can be considered mostly awesomeness, the few rough edges standout all the clearer. In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars - with e.g. savant and fixed typos etc. pointing towards the 5, theurge and the few flaws pointing towards the 4. In the end, I will round up due to the majority of the content being problem-free and the good outweighing the slightly problematic by quite a bit and my general maxim of in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
New Paths Compendium (Pathfinder RPG)
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Mythic Minis 7: Feats of Charging
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:08:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

As always with the Mythic Minis line, this pdf is 3 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page content, so let's take a look at these new feats!



-Crooked Charge: Make one 90-degree or 2 45 degree turns while charging. Also get +2 dodge bonus to AC against AoOs when charging and also add +2 to ref-saves against attacks that require these. If you expend a use of mythic power, you may make as many turns as you want and add 1/2 mythic tier to aforementioned bonus.



-Devastating Charge: Add 1/2 your mount's str-mod to damage when making a charge. You can also substitute a str-check for breaking objects at the end of a charge, also allowing you to add 1/2 the mounts str-mod. You may also use your mount's size to determine CMB as part of a charge. When using mythic power, you can add your mount's full str-bonus to your own to calculate damage bonus (as well as its size modifier for CMB). Dragon riders will want that one.



-Impaling Charge: When impaling foes with a gore and managing the CMB to grapple the foe, you may continue moving and take the opponent along. Use mythic power to temporarily stagger opponents thus hit.



-Minotaur's Charge: +10 ft. distance knocked when bull rushing foes, also daze them and make them prone. +1 round daze-duration for 1 use of mythic power.



-Saddle Shrieker: +4 to handle animal when benefiting from the non-mythic version feat. Spend 1 use of mythic power to negate the benefit for 1 minute. That one's a bit lame and very specific.



-Stampeding Charge: Allied creatures of your size and smaller don't hamper your charging. Also flank foes that are hit by your and an allies charge. No mythic power-use to boost this one.



-Tremendous Charge: When charging with a natural weapon, increase their damage dice by 1 size. This also extends to special attacks like charge, trample etc. as part of charges. Also get +1 to CMB with maneuvers used in conjunction with said charges. This bonus can be upgraded to 1/2 mythic tier by expending one use of mythic power. This use also upgrades the damage-dice by 2 steps.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not perfect. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf doesn't have bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson delivers a neat array of feats themed around charging herein and while not all of them feel mythic (some feeling like slightly upgraded regular versions), but that's ultimately me complaining at a high level. So are these feats required? No, not necessarily, but they do have some great ones as well as some that aren't that iconic - all in all a good purchase, if not one that is required for all groups, though mounted characters will like what can be found herein. A solid purchase at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 mainly because it lacks a feat that truly blew me away.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 7: Feats of Charging
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#1 With a Bullet Point: 5 Meta-Combat Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2014 00:05:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of content, so let's take a look at these meta-.combat feats, shall we?



So what are these? Meta-Combat feats require a full-attack action and have individual additional restrictions and each comes with an individual cool-down that does not stack with other Meta-Combat-feats. Got that? All right, so what do they do?



-Bind and Bash (Metacombat): Bind foe's weapon, wand etc. Make a CMB vs. CMD-check that provokes AoOs. If you succeed, you may make an off-hand attack and neither weapon can be used. Bound weapons/items may be dropped or ended via CMB vs. CMD or by stepping away. On subsequent rounds in a bind, you may attack with an off-hand attack as a standard action. After the bind breaks, cooldown is 1d4 rounds. Okay take on the swashbuckling maneuver, but rather weak for the investment of a feat.



-Duck out of Sight (Metacombat): Stealth -10 to prevent the target from having line of sight with you until you next attack, cooldown 2d4 rounds. This one will result in bad scenes - ranged fighters, wizards etc. can potentially abuse the HELL out of this feat via guerilla tactics.



-Hammer Down (Metacombat): As a full attack, make one attack at +5 that provokes an AoO. The attack deals half damage, cooldown 1d3. Okay feat.



-Over the Top (Metacombat): As a full-round action, move from a space adjacent to a foe to any adjacent location on the far side of the foe and make an attack halfway through your movement. If your attack exceeds the target's CMD, you knock the target prone. Does not provoke AoOs from the target, but from other foes, cooldown 1d4+1. Not sold on this overtly complicated variety of trip.



-Running Attack (Metacombat): Move 2x your movement rate and make two attacks at any point as you do, both of which incur a penalty of -2. You do not gain the benefits of your mobility feat versus AoOs you incur thus, cooldown 1d3 rounds.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - I noticed a line of missing blank spaces, for example. Layout adheres to a portrait three-column standard of which I'm not a big fan - it makes the text look more cluttered and harder to read than SGG's old landscape 3-column standard (even though this is now RGG - I'm aware of the new company, just wanted to give you the reference...). The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Oh boy. I like the basic premise of metacombat feats and when they were first introduced (in the Horrifically Overpowered versions in the respective Genius Guides) I was one of the people who asked for more of them. These, though, just don't do it for me - they are overly specific and complex for what they do and yes, while they are not necessarily broken, they cultivate one-trick-pony-style fighting. Over all, the rules herein feel surprisingly clunky and VERY specific. One of the feats is utterly broken in my opinion and even the swashbuckling binding-feat just isn't that compelling. Owen K.C. Stephens did not deliver bad feats here, but awfully specific ones that don't necessarily warrant the feat-investment or provide a rewarding payout. The concept of metacombat-feats is great, but the examples here universally failed to convince either me or any of my players to take them. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
#1 With a Bullet Point: 5 Meta-Combat Feats
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