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CLASSifieds: The Saint
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2014 06:22:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This pdf is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 15 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look at the saint, shall we?

Saints need to have the same alignment as their deity and get d8,4+Int skills per level, proficiency with the deity's favored weapon and simple weapons as well as shields and simple armor, but not tower shields. Saints get prepared divine spellcasting via wis of spells of up to 6th level from their own spell-list, 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref and will-saves and one domain from their patron's available list. Regarding their spell-list - the list has been modified and has lost, among others, expeditious retreat, moment of greatness ,timely inspiration,, vanish, gallant inspiration, control summoned creature, litany of sloth, litany of defense, litany of eloquence, litany of righteousness, glibness, litany of escape, litany of sight, primal scream, commune, litany of vengeance, getaway, veil but gained sun metal, reprobation.- all in all, still a strong spell-list with some exclusives, but not as broken as it was before.
Aforementioned domain deserves special mentioning, for it does NOT add the respective spells to the spell-list, instead converting them into spell-like abilities that can be cast interchangeably (essentially like the domain is cast spontaneously via a pool). The save-DC for said abilities is 10+1/2 level + wis-mod and are cast from essentially a pool: 3+Wis-mod cats per day, with spells level 1 to 3 costing one use, level 4-6 spells costing 2 uses and higher level spells eating 3 uses per day. A rather interesting expansion of the spellcasting capabilities - though I'm not comfortable with the increased DC - domain spells tend to be rather powerful and further increasing their DC might propel them towards regions I'm not wholly comfortable with - especially since they can't be counterspelled. While before, they ignored some of the costs, now saints need to provide costly components... which violates how spell-like abilities work: They have neither somatic, verbal, or material components and require no focus.

Saints add their class level to diplomacy and intimidate-checks versus unbelievers and get bonus feats at level 5 and every 4 levels after that - and that's the only ability to help the fluff-concept of a negotiator/peaceful agent of the gods. That's not the signature trick of the saint - said component would be favor, of which the saint gets wis-mod per day. They can be regained by vanquishing challenging foes with the deity's favored weapon and non-combat ways of gaining favor, like converting others and proving your loyalty are also included - essentially, we thus get a version of grit based on faith. And I love the idea. Seriously, my one complaint with divine spellcasting always was that it didn't FEEL like wonders bestowed by a god - but rather a class feature analogue to the one of arcane casters. Tying a class ability to a deity's favor feels distinctly divine to may and makes this a rather neat decision - so kudos to designer Tyler Beck for that!
A Saint's favor caps now at wis-mod. Furthermore, several graces may award temporary favor, of which a given Saint may have a maximum of one at any time and they only lass for class level rounds.
Where there's something like grit, there'll better be some mechanics akin to deeds - and we get them in the guise of graces: At 1st level, 3rd level and every 4 levels after that, the saint learns new favors, of which a total of 18 such favors are provided. Thematically, akin to deeds, there are some favors that require the expenditure of a favor point, whereas others are passive and work as long as you have at least one favor point in your pool. The favors per se are interesting - one for example nets the saint access to the bodyguard feat and expands it if the character also has combat reflexes, making it usable dex-mod times per day - really nice to see such interwoven rules. Since the graces now no longer allows for the infinite regaining of favor, no more complaints on my side. Another grace allows the saint to temporarily (for class level rounds) make his deity's favored weapon merciful and when s/he manages to render a foe unconscious with the weapon s/he gains a point of temporary favor. One minor nitpick here would be that the Saint could hand said weapon to an ally - while not getting the temporary favor, I'm not 100% sure that was intended. No penalty-points for this very minor ambiguity, though, since either interpretation isn't too strong. Favored Dodge has been purged and no longer exists..

There is also the so-called favored onslaught - an array of attacks that requires the expenditure of one point of favor, but nets the saint an additional attack at his/her highest BAB with the penalty of -2 applied to all attacks. As a caveat that makes this more viable regarding the saint's less than stellar BAB, favored onslaught uses a full BAB to calculate the attacks at -2 and also requires the use of the favored weapon of the deity and while it can be used in conjunction with two-weapon fighting and similar attacks, it does not stack with haste-based effects. This is essentially the saint's signature offensive ability and it can be combined with two weapon fighting. I applaud the courage of this decision, as most designers won't touch the mess that is something like flurry of blows with a 10-foot pole, much less potentially combining it with TWF. The ambiguities that hounded the previous iteration of this ability have been thankfully cleaned up, though it still requires careful deliberation on the side of the player.

At 3rd level Saints benefit from the "In Harm's Way"-feat as long as he has at least one favor point and gains a temporary favor point whenever he takes an attack for an ally. They may also use a bard's fascinate ability. They may also spend favor to increase the DC by + 2 when casting spells that influence the target's attitude - note that per the wording of the ability, this means that the domain spell-like abilities cannot be enhanced this way! (Otherwise you'd have me complaining about a high DC being increased even further...)
At 7th level, Saints may spend favor to cast cure-spells on allies at range, with one point making the range 15 feet, 2 points increasing it to 30 feet. To heal e.g. dhampirs, he can use this ability in conjunction with inflict-spells, but either application may not be used offensively. Wording-wise, this ability is slightly ambiguous since e.g. heal and similar conjuration [healing]-spells probably should be covered as well. That's nitpicky, though. Saints also may, as a swift action, spend a favor point to bypass up to 5 points of DR (unless it's DR/epic) with his/her favored weapon or add for one favor silent spell to his/her spells sans increasing the spell level. Unfortunately, no action-type is given for this application of favor and the ability can be added to spell-like abilities, which makes no sense since last time I checked, spell-like abilities had no verbal, somatic or material components.
At 11th level, Saints learn to spend favor to channel energy as a cleric of his level, but NOT power this ability via temporary favor. Furthermore, the Saint always may choose whether to channel positive or negative energy and always uses the variant channeling rules from Ultimate Magic, halving dice, but adding an effect depending on the Saint's chosen domain. Also at this level, the Saint gets bonuses when s/he interposes him/herself between allies and foes and further increases the amount of bypassed DR when using the righteous strike grace, dealing bonus damage, which even multiplies on crits. Not a fan of that one since it runs contrary to how bonus damage is handled in almost all other cases – this may lead to some confusion in the long run.

At 15th level, saints may sacrifice all remaining favor and take 1d6 points of damage on ALL physical attributes - but also save an ally that would otherwise perish. VERY cool last second save ability that comes with enough of a drawback to be considered well-crafted! The saint also gets a now fixed protective aura that slowly increases over the levels. Saints may also spend favor to pay for expensive components of their domain spell-like abilities...which makes sense in the context of these domain-spell-like-abilities, but it should be noted that the domain-casts per default are spell-like abilities and thus would not require material components in the first place - hence also my complaint in the original review (and here again) that these are slightly too powerful. Essentially this whole grace is moot.

At 19th level, the Saints may use divine vessel with favor for class level rounds, further improves righteous strike and shorten the casting of a spell from standard action to swift action via 2 points of favor - thankfully not working on the domain-casts.

As a capstone, we get an outsider-transformation, that nets the celestial or fiendish template, with neutral saints being able to choose as well as smite like a(n) (anti-) paladin 1/day and essentially sees the saint turn into a herald-like figure of the deity, including some exclusive casts that may only be used if they pertain their divine mission.

We also get three new feats: Expanded Favored Weapon, which allows you to use abilities that would usually require wielding your deity's weapon to the weapon's whole group (As if the basic ability wasn't powerful enough already...) and one for +2 favor points per day. The final feat adds +2 uses for the domain spell-like ability pool.

The pdf also features massive lists of favored class options for ALL core races, featured races and uncommon races -kudos, since some of them actually are very unique: Kobolds e.g. getting 1/4 ranger trap fits nice with their racial theme.

The updated version also has two archetypes for the Saint, first of which would be the Temple Guardian, who gains no spells, but retains the domain spell-like abilities (with all the issues they entail). They do get access to ranger traps, though these may only be placed close to places of worship. Instead of favored onslaught, the Temple Guardian gains access to a monk's flurry of blows as long as he has at least 1 favor, useable freely with unarmed strikes and the favored weapon. Problem here - sans improved unarmed strike, flurry of blows using unarmed attacks is a bad idea at best. Why is flurry of blows powerful here? Choose ANY deity with a two-handed weapon and you’ll know why – Greatsword-flurry. Yeah. Ouch. Not every DM will be comfortable with this. Temple Guardians also learn to spend a point of favor to create an aura that makes foes shaken (later frightened) on a failed save, consecrate areas via favor (allowing them to use ranger traps). They also get a sense on a limited area of 10 ft./level and can determine the presence of non-believers. So....do heretics count? What if an area is high? As written, the ability is 2-dimensional. Also: What type of action is designating the area in question? No idea. At 19th level, the temple guardian can meditate 1 hour to create portals to the nearest temple of his/her deity, a portal only he can use. So...can this portal be blocked by teleportation-hampering/redirecting spells/effects? How wide is it? Does it have a CL, if so, which one? Why is it SU when it does what spells do? Can e.g. a siege engines drawn by designated horses go through? Is there a limit on the amount of beings/material that may pass through? Could he create a portal to empty e.g. a small sea into a temple by designating that the water may pass? Can such a portal transcend planar boundaries of demiplanes or full planes? Many questions and alas, no answers.

The second archetype would be the Dark Apostle: Instead of favored bodyguard, these individuals get a rogue's sneak attack of up to +6d6 as long as s/he still has at least 1 favor remaining. Dark Apostles also get the poisoner (ex) quality and may gain temporary favor by poisoning creatures of a CR of at least their HD-2. Due to the cap of temporary favor still okay in my book. They may also spend favor to have their weapon weep a special profane poison (which is rather potent at DC 10+1/2 level, wis-mod rounds frequency, 1d3 Con and 2 required consecutive saves) and spend favor when sneak attacking foes to set them up for easier disarm attempts. At 7th level, one particular ability is hardcore broken here - Forget Secrets. As a SUPERNATURAL ability, the Apostle may cause nearby foes to forget the last minute, dazing them. While only usable once in 24 hours on a target, the ability ISN'T mind-influencing: No protections, no counterspells. That's insane and would change how many organizations work. This needs to AT LEAST be (sp) and mind-influencing. At higher levels, Dark Apostles may spend favor to make extra attacks against foes they sent into the dying state, shadow jump. At 15th level, the Apostle exudes an aura that causes non-allies to forget to forget all that happened inside the aura after 1d4 minutes - since this counter does not start upon leaving the aura, this is a permanent amnesia-machine. This is so insane. The aura requires no conscious effort and is maintained as long as the Apostle has at least one favor - an apostle could steal YEARS with this ability, by mere continued presence. Again, no protection since it's supernatural and not mind-influencing. Oh, and the Dark Apostle gets 1/2 class level to disguise, bluff and sleight of hand as well as a modified spell-list.
.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, while not perfect, can still be considered very good - I didn't notice significant typos. Layout...is DROP-DEAD-GORGEOUS. I mean...beautiful. Evocative. Awesome. The full color artworks also help here and make this pdf a true beauty to behold. The pdf has no bookmarks, which I'd usually complain about - but this pdf is extensively hyperlinked: With the good kind of hyperlinks - you know, the ones that take a lot of effort. Where a hyperlink actually pertains to the right content -even the dispel alignment-spells are properly hyperlinked and you won't see e.g. "will" hyperlinked to will-saves when it does not refer to them! My hat's off to Fat Goblin Games for getting this right and for the significant increase in production values they have achieved since the last pdf I've read from them!

So this is author Tyler Beck's second shot at the Saint and he has learned from his last beat-down - with cleared-up rules-language, vastly improved abilities and better balancing, the saint now actually works as intended thanks to the introduction of the concept of temporary favor. The DC for the domain-casting is still too high, though, and he unfortunately did not get the mechanics of spell-like abilities right, which extends to some of the graces.

So no, the new saint is not perfect, but it's a VAST improvement, with the newish/modified graces kicking ass. What about the new content? Oh boy...well...I'm sorry to say it, but I wouldn't allow either of the archetypes in my home-game. The Temple Guardian is rather weak (unless you go greatsword/similar 2HW-flurry) and his limited ranger traps do not pay well for the loss of spell-casting. Add to that the fact that some of the archetype's ability require further clarification and that one falls through for me. The Dark Apostle is just downright broken: Poison, spellcasting and the insanely powerful amnesia as well as the ability that is an all-but-de-facto guaranteed kill on downed foes conspire to make this archetype too powerful. Add to that the fact that the aura requires clarification and we get an archetype that gets so much more than it loses.

So...how to rate this? Well, the base-class is *MOSTLY* fixed, but unfortunately, the archetypes require some work. There still are no bookmarks in here, but the hyperlinks are great. Were it only for the class, I'd settle for a final verdict of straight 4 stars, but with the massive issues of the archetypes, I'd have to go down to 3.5 stars, rounded down. My final verdict will be in-between, at 3.5 stars, with a recommendation to ignore the archetypes. Whether you round up or down much depends on your personal preference, personally, I'll round up because I REALLY like the concept of graces and how they feel divine.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: The Saint
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In The Company of Fey: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2014 05:53:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's "In the Company of"-series is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



As has become the tradition of the series, we kick off with an aptly-written frame-narrative, this time even featuring a nice, disturbing poem - from the perspective of Red Shuck, we are introduced to two different origin myths - one brighter, one darker, both including nods to Auberyon, the fabric of dreams and tying superbly in with Rite Publishing's established canon - disturbing and whimsical, both are well-worth the read. Now physical-description wise, the First Folk have three distinct shapes - their "original shape", the human/elf-like "seeming" and the at times beautiful, at times disturbing "aspected form", which most First Folk consider their original form that reflects their nature. Born from the material of dreams, the first folk may create new individuals by giving up a part of their very being. Bonds with other races, their take on alignment and religion and their roles as adventurers and of course, nomenclature are covered as well in this supplement, featuring a selection of nice, flavorful insights into First Folk psychology.



Now crunch-wise, the First Folk gets +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, +2 to saves versus illusions and may automatically disbelieve any illusions within 10 ft., are treated as both fey and humanoids with the shapechanger-subtype, heal +2 points when benefiting from magical healing and twice as many hit points from natural healing, but may not heal naturally damage inflicted by cold iron weapons and may assume the "Seeming" as a polymorph effect, a fixed humanoid form that can't be changed later. I assume at will, but unfortunately, the ability fails to specify the type of action that changing shapes is. Oh well, at least it does mention the effective spell level. They also get a special sight that works like low-light vision and automatically pierces seemings of other First Folk. The unique lack of aging in the prime material plane is covered thankfully in the age-height and weight-table as well.



Of course, we also get a wide array of alternate racial options: +2 Con and Dex, -2 Int or +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str would be alternate attribute modifier-sets and a total of 12 other ones await as well: From being better skirmishers, three arrays of minor spell-like abilities usable 1/day, a resistance to negative energy, darkvision and light blindness, improved DCs for curses and hexes, energy resistance 5, bonuses in the shade or fey-like resistances/immunity to sleep. you can also play First Folk that have been exiled or First Folk that may change alignment every level. The latter is particularly cool, though it also opens some questions: Does this alternate racial trait allow a First Folk to e.g. take a level as barbarian and next level, change alignment to lawful and become a monk? I assume that's not possible as per the text of the respective classes. Still, even if that's not possible, the trait is roleplaying potential in gallons - Seriously, think about the story-telling potential. This one is VERY fun!



We also get an array of favored class options, covering barbarian, bard, druid, ranger, rogue, sorceror, summoner and witch as well as the 3pp-classes shaman, time thief, taskshaper and luckbringer - all of which are nice and balanced.

Of course, there also are new archetypes for your perusal, first of which would be the Solstice Pariah for the TASKSHAPER! Yes, my favorite shapechanging class gets new fodder! These beings, cursed by Auberyon to become Taskshapers essentially blend the taskshaper and the new racial paragon-class contained herein - interesting archetype!



The Wild Hunter archetype for the witch gets a hound of the hunt as a familiar - complete with unsettling aura and may conjure forth steeds from the hunt and later even hunters in the guise of a wolfish spiritual ally -rather cool high-concept archetype here!



Now I've already mentioned the racial paragon class - which has no name beyond "First Folk Paragon" - a bit of a pity there. The class is not available for lawful characters and crunch-wise nets you d6, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 1/2 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Yes, no spellcasting. But let's take a look, shall we? At first level, the paragon chooses one particular aspect of the prime material plane - a total of 6 different aspects are there for the choosing. Each aspect comes with two skills that henceforth get an untyped bonus of 1/2 character level, min 1 and the aspect also offers a unique ability: Wild Empathy, Favored Terrain, environmental adaption versus deadly terrain/climates. Alternatively, one aspect allows for a sense motive check to " learn a creature’s biggest and most immediate fears and concerns. When this ability is successfully used on a shaken, frightened or panicked target, the first folk paragon also learns the target’s surface thoughts" - per se cool, but what do surface thoughts entail? As per detect thoughts? Is this a mind-influencing effect? It ought to be, I guess... Improved saves versus fey are offered by another aspect and a third allows for an emotional surge that nets + 2 to Str and Con, +1 to will-saves and -2 to AC like a barbarian's rage or alternatively gain +1 to atk, damage and skill-checks and can be maintained as a free action. It can be used 2xlevel+cha-mod rounds per day, but unlike a rage, a surge is a mind-influencing effect that does not impede concentration etc.



First Folk Paragons also get DR scaling up to 5/cold iron and at 2nd level and at every even level after that, the First Fold Paragon learns a fey power. Unless otherwise noted, the fey powers use a DC of 10 +1/2 class level + cha-mod if applicable and some, those marked with an asterisk, can only be used when is aspected form. Aspected Form? Yes, before I cover the Fey Powers in detail, let's take a look at the aspected form ability gained at first level: Depending on the aspect you've chosen, you'll also get aspected form abilities. Unfortunately, once again the pdf does not clarify which action the changing of forms is, just what level the polymorph effect to change shapes is. Depending n your shape, you get natural weapons (like claws, a bite or even hooves) or may even shape large swaths of terrain, potentially entangling adversaries or grant other creatures luck bonuses or penalties. Also interesting - one aspect form allows them to unleash specific bolts as a standard action that deal 1d6 (+1 1d6 for every two levels) and may deal either fire, cold or electricity damage. or nonlethal damage, which should be a bane to ranged fighters, as it affects the target with severe winds for a round. The effective spell level of this ability scales up to 9th and the damage to 10d6 at 19th level. I'm not a fan of this ability. Unlimited touch attacks are an unpleasant thing to contend with, even before adding in the elemental flexibility. That being said, the bad BAB and limited range keep me from breaking into one of my OP-rants. Still - a generous limit (like 2xclass level + cha-mod) would see me much more comfortable with this particular aspect form.



But back to the fey powers, shall we? Let's take a look at the captivating tail power - usable only in aspect form, the tail allows for the fey to fascinate nearby creatures, even so far as to have them follow you - Hameln's (or Hamelin in the English-speaking world) famous Rat-catcher, anyone? Especially since, much like the legendary flutist, there is no caveat of not following into dangerous areas... Another ability allows First Folk paragons to curse buildings to curse all who spend a prolonged time inside to be hounded by hostile animals -as a supernatural ability, which means no break curse. OUCH. Here would also be a good place to mention fey powers with a certain affinity - a total of 13 of the powers come with an affinity - for all intents and purposes, Paragons with the appropriate aspect for the affinity treat this particular power as if they were two levels higher. Have I mentioned the ability to actually EAT non-instantaneous spells? Enchanting dust (with mania-inducing and AoE-upgrades and even blindness + bleed damage/ undead-sanctums or aging foes as possible effects!), splitting into two (one of which is an illusion, but tangible enough for flanking), taking on the aspect of eldritch plants (6 different effects!), producing a confusion-inducing toxin, growing wings, poaching in the druid and sorceror-spell-lists (or rogue's sneak attacks or stacking benefits with bardic performances), additional prowess versus undead foes jumping impossibly high, highjacking curses or exploiting the law of sympathy between creatures (or creatures and objects) - the powers offer a complex and interesting array of options for first folk to pursue.



That's not all, though - starting at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that, the First Folk Paragon unlocks an ability called aspect endowment - these grant the first folk additional powers usable exclusively when in aspect form. Especially the environment-aspect endowment, which provides a vast array of different benefits depending on the terrain they find themselves in - neat!



At 7th level and again at 13th and 19th level, the First Folk Paragon also learns a type of spelltrick from either the sorceror or druid-list as spell-like ability. Starting at 9th level, the paragon also learns to create complex illusions (dubbed waking dreams) at will, fitting nicely with the theme of glamers. The capstone essentially allows for a type of immortality - only in the primal world can the character henceforth be permanently slain.



We also get 8 new feats herein - improved disguise via seeming (important in investigation/socially-strong campaigns), making your seeming blend in with the surroundings, making untrained knowledge checks, gaining bonuses versus those affected by polymorph effects (and even suppress them), gaining a sidhe-form or the skill bonuses (but not the other benefits) from a second aspect - all in all, solid feats.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from one ability being wrongly italicized and very minor glitches, I didn't notice any issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with borders that reflect a nice old painting of nature. The artwork deserves special mentioning - while fans of Rite Publishing will recognize e.g. the artwork of Auberyon from Coliseum Morpheuon, but most of the artworks I've never seen before and they universally are beautiful full-color pieces. Impressive! The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Speaking of impressive - author Wendall Roy has created a supplement here that is a joy to read indeed - the race per se is awesome and the racial paragon class complex. Half BAB, no spells, all tricks - can it work? Surprisingly, yes - but it's a class that REQUIRES careful deliberation: taking e.g. only the natural attacks will make you terribly ineffective. This class is all about smart playing and properly using the abilities, which in another class I'd often consider unbalanced - here, they are the tools that ensure survival. While I'm not sold on the unlimited ranged touch attack, the overall class, when run in my simulations, worked rather fine and offers intriguing roleplaying potential indeed without resorting to tried and true ability-suites. The taskshaper archetype is exceedingly cool to see, as is the glorious writing and in the end, my only gripes are that the alternate forms don't really do that much to influence crunchy abilities - a tighter synergy would have improved this even further. That, combined with the minor glitches here and there unfortunately keep this pdf from reaching the highest rating echelons: As written, I will settle on 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Fey:  A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class (PFRPG)
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NPC Arsenal No. 1: Drunken Aasimar Sensei
Publisher: Abandoned Arts
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2014 05:47:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This new series by Abandoned Arts offers you one NPC-build, a complex one - 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page character, so what do we get here?



Well, we get a middle-aged aasimar monk (drunken master) 9 - as a peculiarity, the build gets lesser age resistance as a Spell-like ability and Panther-style feat-tree. The NPC comes with extensive notes on how the build was made, what magic items can further supplement it and tactical options, which make running the build much more comfortable (and fast!) for the beleaguered DM.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a landscape two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



This pdf delivers exactly what it promises - a moderately complex build for a NPC that would take quite some time to put together for a solid, fair price-point. I don't have much to complain here and seeing the NPC is high in concept and nicely built, I'll settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounding up to 5 since I don't consider it to be a brilliant build or too complex, but still interesting enough to warrant a heartfelt recommendation.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NPC Arsenal No. 1: Drunken Aasimar Sensei
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The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
Publisher: Mike Myler
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2014 02:51:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1/2 a page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 23 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



Still here? All right! In the "Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill", the PCs found a corpse of a half-orc ranger and his journal detailing an uncompleted quest dealing with the demonic entity Grualroth and finally putting an end to its vile ruminations. The trail of the compiled information leads towards the peaks of Baranthar. This, of course, only remains one of the possible adventure hooks to introduce you to this module.



Near the peaks, the outpost of the alchemist Skarvass (including explosions!) makes for the final stretch of civilization as well as an option for the PCs to stock up with special alchemical draughts that help with the dangers of high altitude - but not cold! Following the trail through the wilderness for a week, the PCs arrive at Vorn's Gorge, where they have a chance to find a so-called mimetic crossbow, which allows the target of its shots to be the target of essentially a skill-theft - up to 5 ranks of a skill can be stolen and temporarily transferred to the crossbow's wielder, but only for up to 5 rounds and only for one use of the skill. Furthermore, the skill, for its short duration, if it's a class-skill for the wielder but no ranks, gets the +3 bonus. I'm not comfortable with this item. First, while the will-save to resist is harmless at DC 13, the flat-out -5 penalty to the respective skill-checks feels not particularly organic - if a foe only has 4 ranks, I think the penalty should only be -4 penalty. And while the maximum amount of skill-points transferred caps at 5, the ranks can, as written, break the level-cap of the user. While the item states: "The beneficiary of this enchantment may not have more ranks in a skill than normal via this enchantment (the target still suffers the penalty in skill ranks regardless of the bonus received by the user).", this is still not a proper cap. Additionally, while only one skill may be thus scavenged at a given time, there is no limit on how many adversaries can be affected at a given time - stealing two times acrobatics from 2 rogues for 10 ranks would be possible in theory, though I think the intent was for no more than one skill being at any time transferrable via the crossbow. I like the idea of the item, but its execution is a tad bit wonky and could use some clearer wording.



Back to the module: Forging New Paths for PCs going off the beaten track is covered thankfully and sooner or later, the PCs will have to contend with a fiendish dire wolverine stalking the frigid peaks. Oh, and an artificially-caused avalanche will have the PCs run for their lives, thankfully with an excessive table of how far characters can run (and possibly escape) the avalanche. Nice hazard! No time to breathe, though - the ice-trolls of the thickskin tribe make ready to attack the PCs and after (hopefully!) some fruitful negotiation, the PCs will find out that the brutes have suffered from the cursed peaks as well. But in order to end the curse that blurs the mountaintops, the PCs will have to ascend the Slopes of Madness. The way up these could be handled via various skill-checks (including flight) - or be supplemented with a cool idea: Have your players actually stack dice - fast! Success nets massive bonuses to the checks. Awesome idea and two thumbs up!



In Vornskall's Pass, jets of freezing water, gargoyles and finally, Yalroth, the half-fiendish yeti offspring of Grualroth preside over tortured ice trolls being strapped to ice-made torture devices that litter the peak's snow blood (depicted in one superb piece of full-color artwork). Defeating the dread spawn of evil ends the snowstorms and the descent proves to be rather anticlimactic. The pdf comes with one awesome map of the overall lands as well as 4 grid-studded maps of all encounter areas - all in full color.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read 2-column standard, broken up by one-column entries - a clearer line that sticks to the former would have probably made reading the module slightly easier, but I won't complain about that. The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version and excellent maps as well as cool full color art, especially for the low price. On the downside, the module has no bookmarks, which is a detrimental factor in my book.



Author Mike Myler offers us a module that is an actually really good expedition/wilderness module, though one that could have used some random encounter charts for the uneventful interludes between the encounters. Still, the use of environmental hazards and cool variety of challenges make this a module that is very much...awesome. Seriously, there aren't many good wilderness modules out there and Mike Myler's evocative prose does quite a bit to add to the module's appeal. Yes, the crossbow isn't perfect, yes, some weather charts for dynamic weather and random encounters would have improved this further and yes, I don't get why this has no bookmarks. The finale is also a bit anticlimactic and could have used more terrain - what about the prisoners flailing about, grabbing PCs? Ice slippery with blood? The making of a superb final encounter are tehre for the DM, but the module weirdly doesn't develop them to their logical conclusion, opting for a more conservative approach.

But: It still is a great module for a price that is indeed a steal. While it has rough edges, I can't bring myself to rating this down, also thanks due to the cool way to RL stack dice to improve the checks - genius and cool. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar
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Psionics Augmented, Volume I
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/02/2014 12:49:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

In a display of superb customer-service, Dreamscarred Press offers the bonus-content scored from the Ultimate Psionics-hardcover-compilation-book as its own pdf, so let's take a look, shall we? This pdf is 78 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a whopping 75 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this supplement with new races, first of which would be the Forgeborn - Half-constructs (the type is reprinted from the ARG) that have been engineered from people blended with what seem to be mineralized growths - thankfully setting them distinctly apart from the huge array of different construct races already available for PFRPG. They get their own (Forgeborn)-subtype and attribute-wise +2 to Str and Int, -4 to Cha, get +2 to saves against fear, +1 natural AC, may be resurrected (unlike other half-constructs), may get a power point as a favored class option and get wild talent (or psionic talent when starting as a psionic base class) at first level. They also get the "Slow but steady" 20 ft. base speed, but are not impeded by armor or encumbrance. Solid race with a unique fluff that is rather reminiscent of the Elan (regarding their mysterious creation) - Nothing to complain.



The second race herein would be the Noral - who as a race have forged a symbiotic relationship with beings called Erliss (or dreamscar - namedrop!) and are rather enlightened, neutral diplomats and savants of other cultures - an interesting take indeed that also aesthetically should have some scifi-buffs out there smile. Plus 2 nerd-credibility points from me if you can deduce the imo obvious inspirations for the race. But back to their qualities - the Noral are Humanoid (Noral) subtype-wise, get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Dex, +2 to saves versus diseases and mind-influencing effects, may 1/day exhaust their symbiote to add 1d6 to one d20-roll prior to rolling, can manifest 1/day mind thrust at 1/2 character level at a DC of 10 + power level + cha-mod. They also get +1 to Bluff and Diplomacy and learn +1 language per rank in linguistics, may opt for power points as favored class options, get low light vision and gets either wild talent or psionic talent for free. The race comes with information for those who reject the symbiote and thankfully, both forgeborn and noral feature the all-too-often forgotten age, height & weight-table. The Noral overall feel a tad bit strong to me, but not to the point where I'd start complaining. It should be noted that thankfully, now both new races come with favored class options.



After this, it's archetypes - archetypes, archetypes and even more, you guessed it, archetypes. I'll try to be brief with them to keep this review from blowing the 10-page mark, okay? Right, so first we have the Blues: These psionic goblinoids may opt to become Annihilator Aegis that allows the blue to count as medium when in suit, may burn power points for boosts to str and con and later even absorb critical hits - however, no augmenting or cannibalizing the suit for these aegis! Telepath blues may opt to become Dominators, who have an easier time controlling and manifesting versus those that have failed against their mind-influencing effects. They also have an easier time keeping tabs on their thralls. Alchemist Blue may opt to become Mutators, who have more volatile (i.e. random - you roll dice) mutagens and also mutagens that penalize melee attacks with 1d6 fire damage. Finally, mutators may enlarge or reduce person via his mutagen.



Next up would be the Dromites, who get the Empty Caste Ninja - bred as executors of the Queen, these dromites may select their elemental affinity and they can circle it/switch it. They may expend this racial ability to charge weapons with elemental damage and use ki in turn to replenish their racial ray and also learn cloud mind later as a ninja trick. A rather powerful archetype. Dromite Tacticians may become Swarmers: Not only do these make flanking even deadlier, they also learn a strategy that allows them to sync two creatures so they may occupy the same space - awesome idea there! Dromite Cavaliers may become Vermin riders - riding giant wasps, scorpions or mantis into battle and may share minds, enhance their mounts by expending their psionic focus and at high levels, even share hit points, potentially preventing death.



Duergar Vitalists may become Lifemongers, who may deal non-lethal damage as a touch to members of their collective, healing themselves and gaining additional temporary hit points. Furthermore, they may influence the sleeping and even instill temporary madness at higher levels. Duergar Cryptics can become Ravagers, who are particularly efficient versus intelligent foes, but pitifully weak versus non-intelligent adversaries. They also have a wis-damage causing reflexive array of abilities protecting them versus mind-influencing effects. Perhaps the weirdest of the Duergar-archetypes herein would be the Sleeper's Guardian, a paladin-archetype (!!!) that learns to manifest powers, instead of detect evil, acts as a foil versus chaos and gets an aura that automatically penalizes foes within 10 ft of the paladin by WIS-MOD to attacks and damage. Yes. Ouch. While this replaces divine grace, the distinct lack of saves or SR makes this ability easily exploitable and one in need of proper revision.



Elans may opt to become ascended psions, replacing their discipline's power-list with a custom list and making them, alongside their other abilities, rather predisposed for the role of secret agent - hiding from spells/powers and improved disguise help a lot here. They also are masters of telekinetic force. The Menteur-rogue is a con-man and as such, gets superb bonuses to bluff (and is also adept at disguising) - rather excessively powerful is the 6th level ability, which allows you to determine a location and 1/day as a standard action teleport there with up to one additional creature touching him/her - sans provoking an AoO. Rather powerful. They may also learn a type of minor metamorphosis as a rogue talent, but sans enhancements the power usually conveys.



Cryptic Elans may now become Pattern Wielders: These beings may transfer tattoos to their weapon, henceforth getting int-mod to damage. Not a fan since stacking two attributes to atk or damage always ends up offering a tad bit too much of an edge for the character in question. They may also temporarily lock powers to empower their powers or fling tattoos as ranged short-range touch attacks.



Forgeborn get a new cavalier-archetype, the Forgesteed Rider. Their mounts are like their riders, requiring neither sleep nor sustenance and the riders may share their challenge-bonuses with their steed and their steed can also be temporarily enhanced. At 8th level, the archetype gets rather powerful: As long as either rider or steed have more than 1 hp, the other being takes the excessive damage. Forgeborn Fighters may become Ironborn (unfortunate nomenclature - that's Rite Publishing's construct-PC-race) - the archetype gets less armor check penalty as his form bonds with armor and also a slam-attack as well as even limited DR while wearing armor. Forgeborn Tacticians may become Unifiers - and these guys are intriguing: The Unifier can replace a part of their own and their ally's flesh in a modified version of their collective-ability - allies thus joined in may benefit temporarily from basic Aegis-enhancements. Neat blending of abilities! The Unifier may also telekinetically create an aura on him/herself that makes terrain difficult - per se cool - the field can be used 3+Int-mod times per day and lasts for int-mod rounds.



Half Giants may opt to become Kinslayers - as the name suggests, that means they're specialists in slaying giants and they replace spellcasting with a fixed array of powers. They also may share their favored enemy bonuses with their companions. Okay, I guess, but overall rather bland. The second archetype would be the Thunderjarl for the Psychic Warrior class - and this one is actually rather cool - taking a cue from the boisterous viking that charges with bellowing laughter into battle and can shake the very earth, this archetype works exceedingly well on a fluff level, combining good uses of stomp and a specialization on the psionic weapon-feat. More defensively-minded Half-Giants may opt to become the War Hulk Aegis-archetype that is limited to the juggernaut-form and gets devastating smash attacks and deadly ranged ectoplasmic throws.



Maenad Wilders may elect for the Banshee-archetype - they may select additional elemental powers, but use them with the sonic-damage-type exclusively and also emit screams as their surge blasts, which may daze opponents. Relatively cool energy-type specialist archetype here! Disciples of the raging Sea are a type of Monk - one cool one: While benefitting from their racial outbreak, they actually may use rage powers, which they can gain in lieu of monk bonus feats. Rather damn cool archetype here! Maenads of the Reaving Raiders, a career for rogues, learns to channel the racial outburst into bull rushes and even making foes temporarily flat-footed. Two thumbs up for this uncommon take on the seafaring archetype!



The Norals may choose to pursue the path of being a pacifist, a sub-type of Vitalist who can deal non-lethal damage via a touch and even make hostile foes pause for parlay; Cool to see in an often rather bloodthirsty array of classes one that could quite conceivably be held to the highest ideals of goodness. Peacekeeper Telepaths may use their psionic focus to deal non-lethal damage as well and they learn special augmentations to daze and stun adversaries. They also require will-saves to be successfully attacked at 8th level - the save being rather high. Not sure whether I like that particular ability, since it heavily penalizes some foes. Still, I do enjoy the fact that via the expenditure of the psionic focus that maintains the ability, the Peacekeeper may extend said protection to allies for 1 round. The last of the archetypes for the Noral would be the Shadow Hunter, an Inquisitor archetype that is particularly perceptive and may mindlink quite often. Furthermore, they can recharge their mind thrust via the burning of spells -which means that they can SPAM mind thrust like crazy. I'm not sold on this final ability - doing instead of almost unlimited mind thrusts something with the lost solo tactics or teamwork feats would have been a more prudent (and fun) playing experience, I think. This way, it feels much like a one-trick-pony.



Ophiduan Egotists may opt for the path of Fleshbinder - they get a familiar that gets psicrystal-like abilities, heal the familiar by merging it into his/her body and DOUBLE the duration of psychometabolism powers s/he casts on allies by expending his/her focus. Wait, what? Come again? Nah, not gonna happen in my game. They may also have a power lie dormant in a target and then trigger it by expending their focus - now thankfully with properly worded range. Also rather sick - the Fleshbinder may enter bonds at high levels with allies to offer them select benefits like his/her familiar, but at the cost of permanent con-damage while the bond is maintained. Especially share spells (powers) is VERY strong even at 14th level and I'm rather positive that my players WILL find a way to break this ability hard-core. Psychic Warriors may become Scaled Riders - they get one of the reptilian Karaan as mount. She/He also gets a permanent bond with the mount and the mount gets its own focus at higher levels, one usable by the rider - while this may seem boring on paper, from experience I can tell you that additional psionic foci can be an insanely useful asset. So yeah, a good trade for the weakened access to warrior's paths. The final archetype for the Ophiduans would be the Serpent Lord druid - even though it uses psionics, it's YET ANOTHER serpent-themed druid. LAME.



The Xeph-race has Clan Warden inquisitors - one boring archetype to defend communities sans any intriguing options - mostly what you'd expect: better class features when defending community etc. Also, one of the abilities has not a properly bold-printed name. The second archetype would be the mobile knife for the marksman - an archetype that makes throwing knives and daggers more valid, offering bonus damage as momentum is used for additional damage. The archetype also learns to have knives return etc. - as lame as the first one was, this archetype is rather cool, also thanks to properly upgrading/expanding the xeph's mobility. The final racial archetype would be the Xephyr, a specialist soulknife that may form a xephyr knife soulknife and also expands movement, but requires kinetic powers (i.e. to have moved) to utilize psychic strike to its maximum usefulness. Nice tactician's (not the class) archetype. Also kudos: Information on combining the archetype with the Gifted Blade archetype is given.



No, we're not done with archetypes yet - we've only covered the RACIAL archetypes - next up are the class-based ones, so let's get pumping: The first archetype, the Arcane Mind is interesting concept-wise - they require verbal and somatic components, suffer from arcane spell failure...and for that, their abilities are harder to identify and they can surpass resistances easier. Ähem...why would anyone take this? The benefits gained are rather paltry and the penalties significant. Perhaps it’s majorly intended for DMs who want psionics to work more like arcane magic. The Cannoneer marksman can essentially be described as a gunslinger/marksman-crossover - don't expect any grit, though. The Contemplative Wilder loses surge bond etc., but may rotate powers they may use in a limited way. This is one of my favorite archetypes herein so far, since it modifies the base class to an extent that results in a completely different playing experience.



The Aegis may learn to fuse his/her psicrystal with his/her armor, and the crystal actually may use its actions to dish out ranged attacks and we also get 5 new customizations! Cool archetype! Fearmonger Dreads use wis instead of cha for intimidate, powers etc. - okay minor variation on the dread. The Feral Heart soulknife archetype is rather intriguing -allowing for less customization and claws instead that upgrade over the levels, they also get a scaling barbarian rage-like ability and to offset the lost flexibility, the Feral Heart may choose unique blade-skills: Rend, Pounce and similar killer abilities among them -awesome, especially when opting for a psionic wild child-style character/savage warrior. Two thumbs up! The Vitalist of the Intercessor Method is a savant of social skills and may get telempathic projection as a bonus power and may superbly influence those healed by him/her. Additionally, these vitalists get some bardic abilities à la inspire competence etc. Again, a solid archetype. Lost Minds are Cryptics that have been driven insane by the power they have glimpsed at beyond the patterns of reality - with mad defense (haha) against mind-influencing effects, the option to duplicate symbols and 6 unique insights that are focused on dazing and hindering foes (even including a gaze attack), this archetype can be considered rather flavorful and well-made.



The Metanexus Tactician learns at 5th level to treat allies of his collective as origins for powers other than touch-range and even pool racial traits! And high-jack the senses (And line of sight!) of collective members - this DESERVES being called a Tactician's archetype - smart and extremely cool! The Psychic Warrior gets the new Pathmaster archetype, essentially a psychic warrior that focuses excessively on one path to the exclusion of others. Okay, I guess.



But no, we're STILL not done with archetypes - we also get archetypes for the non-psionic classes: Druids can now choose the path of Gaean. These druids can communicate telepathically with nature’s ally and they also double the duration of their spells, ignore e.g. verbal components etc. 1/day when in contact with nature – nice one! At 13th level, they may also merge with nature, upon being reduced to 0 hp to be healed – nice last second save ability, though it requires a caveat that it doesn’t work if an attack actually kills the Gaean and/or how it interacts with instakill attacks. Rangers may choose to become Pack Leaders: These beings may treat up to wis-mod creatures as a pack, i.e. a collective of ½ tactician level, making them work better in tandem. Furthermore, at higher levels, telepathy among pack members and sharing spells is possible.



Clerics may now choose the new Psionic Domain, allowing them to emit a psionics enhancing aura and dispel psionic effects via a touch The Discipline subdomain allows for various benefits, from bonuses to saves and movement to a kind of flurry of blows, while the Dreams subdomain quotes and translates one of my favorite 3.X-abilities to PFRPG with lucid dreaming, allowing you to make alterations to reality as via the stone shape-spell – a pity, though, that finer alterations and creations ex nihilo are no longer possible. The Noetics subdomain is all about concentrating to move target objects and creatures, with the max weight depending on your class level. Sorcerors also get new tools in the form of the Psychic bloodline. These sorcerers get the option to hurl unattended objects around, fly and increase the potency of their [force]-spells. The Psychic Mage gets two opposing schools, but also Wild Talent – and, rather interesting, the Wizard archetype may learn psionic powers as spells, allowing him/her to cast them (and even augment them sort of) via the expenditure of spell slots. Weird, but ultimately very cool blending of psionics and vancian magic – two thumbs up, also since at later levels, they can use psionic foci to forego inexpensive material components or add verbal and somatic components to increase the oomph of their powers!



Paladins may now choose to become Purifiers, who learn to detect psionics instead of evil, smite aberrations and may clad their weapons in fire (which ignores immunity and resistance when combined with smite) and they also get access to the gifted blade’s list of powers – nice take on the psionic paladin! Barbarians may choose the Raging Beast archetype, which may manifest claws and bite while raging and get limited manifesting as a psychic warrior of ½ their level – okay, but somewhat bland fusion of barbarian and psion. Personally, I preferred the Feral Heart. Thoughtsingers are bards that can connect willing minds to form a collective, which then benefits from their thoughtsongs – telepathic bardic performance plus some unique effects, essentially. Extremely cool, complex archetype with a capstone that allows them to plant mind seeds– a superb FINAL archetype.



Of course, there is more content in here, for example…feats! And they do open up some neat combo-potential – for example take assassin’s shot for the marksman – when making a ranged attack that deals sneak-attack damage, you may 1/round activate one style ability that requires the expenditure of your psionic focus with actually expending it. Prior ambiguities have been cleared up.



Rather cool: Wilder/Barbarians may use 1 round of rage to forego the expenditure of their psionic focus when only using wild surge – only here being the key, otherwise you’d have me complaining right now. Also interesting: Deep Focus allows you to get a second psionic focus, but one that cannot be combined with Psicrystal Containment – great to see this potentially very strong combo excluded for an overall balanced alternative: 3 foci would have been a bit much… (And yes, I had a level 24 psion with 3 of them in the 3.X days of yonder – and it was glorious and insane at the same time…) There are also feats for combining fighter and tactician class-features, very overdue extensions of collective range (a must-have feat, imho), options to enhance class features of elocators, better disengaging, improved cover fire, a dread/cavalier combo-feat and one feat that allows a cryptic to apply full damage via disrupt pattern to targets, even if they’re not your currently chosen creature type. However, in order to take this powerful feat, you need no less than 6 skills à 5 ranks – thus a significant investment to offset the drawback of the class.



Also rather neat would be a feat to combine alchemist bombs and the pyrokineticist’s talents (the latter can now also split the heads of his/her lash) or offer barbarian/aegis synergy. Psicrystal Imprinters of 5th level may use their resonance class feature to use metapsionic feats in lieu of their regular resonance effects – rather cool and thanks to the concisely-worded limitations, also not as easily breakable as you’d think. All in all, some very cool feats that help realize nice combo-class concepts and also provide some nice fodder for PrCs.



Thus concludes the player-section of this pdf. The DM-section starts with an immensely useful discussion on how psionics work that ANY novice DM not familiar with them should read. All the misconceptions, from augmenting to handling the nova-issue are detailed. Having followed x “Psionics are overpowered”-threads that stemmed from lack of proper rules-knowledge or just plain ignorance, this chapter should be considered a mandatory read for anyone planning to integrate psionics. Furthermore, it actually provides guidelines that allow DMs to use psionics and master for psionic PCs sans reading all the rules. We also get advice on introducing psionics to a given campaign and house-rules for limited transparency between magic and psionics and also a reskin for everyone that does not like the flavor of regular psionics – turning them into Rune Magic. I’m a bit ambivalent about that one, but I also like the base-fluff of psionics. We also get 2 new psionic powers (which should probably be in the player-section) and a new PrC, the Dark Tempest.



The Dark Tempests are secretive warriors, get d10, 2+Int skills, full manifesting/mind blade progression, 3/4 BAB-progression, medium fort-saves, 4 psychic strike enhancements over their levels and combine their levels with soulknife-levels for purposes of blade skills, feat prerequisites etc. They also get an expanded power list. As an interesting fusion ability, these warriors may forego dealing psychic strike damage to instead power their manifesting – interesting indeed!



After this PrC, we get 2 new special armor qualities, 4 new magical armors/items (including one made from flayed human skin- ewww), 7 weapon qualities, 1 new special weapon, 3 new psicrowns and over 30 wondrous items await as loot to be dispensed among greedy players! And then, the Legendary Items-section begins – all items released in the “Psionic Items of Legend”-series so far have been included, which in turn means you’ll get a lot of powerful tools that improve with your characters. Since I’ve reviewed already all of them, I’ll point you just to the respective reviews and instead close this one.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have been cleaned up from the first iteration, with a lot of ambiguities gone and a lot italicization-errors purged. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column full color standard and the numerous original artworks herein are honestly mind-blowing and beautiful – on the very highest of quality levels, this pdf is beautiful indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and now the Psionic Items of Legend actually get individual bookmarks.



Andreas Rönnqvist, Jeremy Smith and Eric Hindley have definitely created a worthy addition to the excellent first 2 psionics books, thankfully providing quite a bunch of new tools for the cool core classes and even cooler new ones introduced in Psionics Expanded. The new and vastly improved Psionics Augmented Vol. I takes just about all gripes I had with the initial release and gets rid of them - now that, ladies and gentlemen, is great support. While not all of the individual archetypes are winners, there is a plethora of cool options herein that expands the ways in which psionics work. Hence, the revised version gets an updated rating of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented, Volume I
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Gingerbread Kaiju
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2013 06:36:50
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game-pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so how does this work?



Well, first skip to page 10, which includes a tasty gingerbread recipe and instructions to make Gingerbread. 2 pages contain a total of 8 silhouettes you can print out, cut and then put on the gingerbread to make your characters - for this is all about gingerbread monsters fighting the delicious fight.



In order to play, not much is required - 1 Gingerbread Kaiju per player, 1 deck of standard playing cards and a d12. Optionally, icing can be used to make the Kaiju more detailed (and tasty!) and the game also requires some assorted cookies, baked goods or alternatively inedible markers. Before play, sort the cards into two decks: The ward deck and the karma deck. The ward-deck contains 20 cards (10s, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces of suits) and is evenly distributed on a table on a 4x5 grid, face down. The other deck contains the remaining numbers and two jokers. The d12 is used to determine from where the Kaiju enters Tokyo and to determine who goes first.



Now I've mentioned other markers: Full-sized candy represents buildings, fun-sized candy equipment, round baked goods (like oreos and chips) are UFOs and Skittles, M&M's and similar small pieces would be people - all of these enter the resource bank.



Now each ward-card corresponds to a special event with buildings and people and is revealed upon flipping the card, which happens as soon as a Kaiju enters the area. Every round, you may spend up to two action points to move, bite stomp (which are resolved efficiency-wise with the d12), use special powers or even mutate in the right areas. Destroyed areas and people net the Kaiju more power, which in turn helps it stave off damage and conserve its delicious hit points. (Also, power consumed means that you may eat goodies! Yay!)

Also, every round, at the end, you draw a karma-card, which, depending on the card, usually allows you do unpleasant things to other Kaiju, though you may have a maximum of karma cards at one time equal to the amount of parts your Kaiju has - which are determined by 8 general basic statblocks for the respective prototypical Kaiju. These include, btw., Cocoonra, the Guardian of all Baked Goods, Globbulon, Giddy Ra (the dragon who can't make up his mind), King Konk and, of course, Bakedzilla. It should be noted that each of the Kaiju has its own signature attacks and tactical options, which karma cards that allow you to reveal adjacent wards (or plainly do mean things to the other Kaiju) further expand.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a nice, easy to read two-column portrait standard with Stan!'s signature artworks throughout. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a slight pity, but since one probably should print these pages out anyway, that will not be considered detrimental in this case.



All right, after a match of industry legend Stan!'s "Plätzchen-Kaiju" (I substituted another dough), I can attest to this game being fun - especially for everyone who is gleefully nostalgic for the Kaiju and versed in their respective mythologies - when turtlesaurus just has its shell left and starts shooting fire out of every opening of its holes, I know that I was chuckling. The rules per se are simple to grasp, though at least in the beginning, a list of card-effects for the respective wards should always be handy. If there was one weakness to the rules and my understanding of them would be that the pdf could have made clearer how many karma cards one has at the beginning and that the buildings etc. retain their value when added to the power pool. Apart from that admittedly nitpicky complaint, we have a neat selection of Kaiju here and a game, where there is a real temptation for tacticians to ignore the more sound option to go for the favorite candy. All in all, a fun game and one that will not only be fun for roleplaying veterans and kaiju-aficionados, but also for kids (though one ability might require renaming, depending on your sensibilities - it involves the finger). I know I would have been ALL OVER this game; Bake Gingerbread, design it and then prove one's mettle versus my friends in a battle for chocolaty goodness? Yes! This is fun past-time and not only great for the gingerbread-time, but could also be played with bread, spicy food or the like. Fun, engaging and very affordable, this is easily worth a final verdict of 5 stars. Now... can we have expansions for more Kaiju? Something seems to have happened to the old ones - they're curiously gone... Final verdict? 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gingerbread Kaiju
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Gingerbread Golem Swarm
Publisher: Christina Stiles Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2013 06:32:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 2 pages long - 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page content - so what do we get?



Essentially, we get Jeff Lee creating a Gingerbread Golem Swarm that clocks in at a nasty CR 7. Not only are these menaces immune to magic (and swarms that are immune to magic are a PAIN), they may vomit liquid gingerbread on victims, potentially encasing them in gingerbread and suffocating them - funny, yet also potentially very dark: Two thumbs up - also due to the proposed alternate rule with a weakness to bite attacks.



Conclusion:

One page, not much space to make editing mistakes (though I didn't notice any here and time has shown that you CAN make a lot of them); Beautiful full color artwork and layout, an original, cool piece of artwork, no bookmarks, but it needs none and a printer-friendly version is included as well - what's more to say? This pdf delivers what it promises on the lid and offers an iconic, cool creature that has potential for both fun and dark situations. Jeff Lee delivers a cool critter well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gingerbread Golem Swarm
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Tomb of the Lich Queen (Pathfinder)
Publisher: Savage Mojo
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2013 10:57:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mega-module is 142 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of backers-by-level, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 134 pages of content - quite a lot, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



All right, still here? We kick off this module in an unconventional way - via a full-blown short story by Kevin Andrew Murphy that depicts the legend of the Lich-Queen in a rather compelling narrative spanning a full 21 pages - the cliffnotes version would be that on a world, once there were tragic heroes/villains, gifted with the tears of the legendary angel Anat. By trickery and fate's tangled web, the protagonists escaped a cataclysm on their world, the wizardess essentially took possession of all the tears, becoming an immortal being leaching souls and the life-blood of said legendary angel. There, on an island called Paxectel, beyond space and probably, time, the Lich-Queen still waits, the Angel Anat still subject to a heinous torture, while mad Tismaya, adversary of the lich queen, still walks the lands.



After a short section of advice on the Suzerain-setting and placing the module, we are introduced to the cliché introduction of the module - it kicks off in a tavern. Yeah. But at least a bard plays a gorgeous song (fully depicted), allowing for a rather neat, fluffy means of providing background exposition to the PCs - especially since advice on tune etc. are provided as well If the PCs decide to follow the mysterious bard, they are swallowed by a vortex of energy. and unceremoniously dumped on Paxectel island (fully mapped, btw.!) - and here, in this pocket dimension, the PCs capabilities get crippled: Looking into another plane entails a will save (called willpower save here) to prevent taking damage. I assume this extends to the ethereal, but that's a minor detriment - worse would be the inability to summon creatures (apart from eidolons, which work as usual); Summoning-specialists are limited to creature-simulacra created by the island and may not choose to call specific creatures -no planar allies and the like. Per se an interesting fluff-restriction, but one that could have provided a more...tangible impact on the summoned beings for a unique experience - as provided, the results may even slip by your PCs completely. Another restriction would be: No inter-planar travel, no teleportation, no flight, unless via natural wings. while I get the intention, essentially, that's cheating. One of the things that makes designing high-level modules HARD is the fact that the PCs are that mobile - stripping them of the ability instead of making it unreliable or risky feels like an arbitrary crippling of grown abilities. I also take offense at the categorization of "only natural flight". What is natural? A wildshaped druid? A race/class with levitate or similar powers as racial abilities? What about characters that have gained access to flight as spell-like or supernatural abilities? Can eidolons still fly? We need hard guidelines to properly implement restrictions like this, cop out though they are.



All right, so a bunch of level 15+ PCs are stranded on this island in a pocket dimension -they probably start exploring immediately, gathering artifacts of the original heroes/former companions of the Lich Queen. Here, I honestly almost ragequit this review. No. Seriously. Why? because this module HAS NO MAPS. Yes. No maps. There is a free web-enhancement that includes some bonus encounters as well as cards with parts of maps on them - but these cards have no grid and the map-component makes up about 1/2 of the card - useless for map-purposes. And know what? There is a map-supplement! It's a separate pdf costing.... 30 bucks. Yes, immensely detailed etc. But know what? Why not provide minor maps for the module they're selling it? Oh, and Dungeon Tiles... + 15 bucks, yet another separate pdf. let's do the math, shall we? 20 bucks+30 bucks+15=? 65 bucks. Pdf-only. You still have to print these. OUCH. And no, I don't have these supplemental pdfs.



Now to be fair, we get a way to use d10s+d20s to choose rooms, but still - this lack of regular maps makes the whole experience of trying to picture this dungeon jarring at best.... Which is a damn pity. For the unique constructs of the puzzle/living dungeon/deathtrap lying under the island brims with imagination - diminutive engineers, alternate flesh and iron golems - wow. Now let's take a look at the rooms, shall we? Well, there's for example a room with colored tiles, in which a strange melody is playing - a melody that contains the key to solving the trapped floor-puzzle. Why no fly over it? Oh, wait. You can't. Flying's forbidden. *sigh* And yes, disabling the traps brute force is possible - but it's weird since we don't have a map to show us how many of these tiles are there. Or what about a poison gas chamber that can be bypassed either by a rogue or by committing a selfless act? Crushing corridors, deadly sound-emitting statues or blood moss? Rather cool, though the latter fails to properly use the grapple-mechanics for what is clearly a grapple in lieu of opposing strength-checks. There also is a cool illusion, but no strength of the aura/spell mentioned to properly handle high-level magic ways to bypass it. And yes, dealing with Trismaya the Mad, the adversary of the Lich Queen (no less dangerous than the Lich Queen) and unearthing information from her ramblings is also required. Have I mentioned a deafening discourse with the voices from beyond?

Among the deadly, and lavishly illustrated adversaries herein, we also find a vampiric ranger, a unique outsider (the champion of woe) and an inexplicably CN movanic deva (which makes no sense, seeing the good-subtype and lack of any in-game rationale why he's not fallen), a planetar and then, finally, the final boss encounters, one of which is a red-gold hybrid dragon (!!!) and the second, guarded by a CR 20-trap (!!!) would be a false CR 17 lich queen - after which the way into her deadly puzzle machinery that whirs behind the dungeon's walls is finally opened - here the second module will begin upon release.



The final 20 pages contain further adversaries to populate the dungeon - and the builds are AWESOME: These are deadly, lavishly-illustrated, awesome foes, well-worthy, deadly high-level builds - from cool and creepy to Rhino-slug weird, a cool mini bestiary/NPC-collection!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous two-column standard that is easy to read and stunning to look at - well fitting for a premium product! The same can be said about the excessive, vast amount of super full-color and b/w-artworks (the latter of which are rather scarce) - though veterans of 3.X-days may know some, though by far not all of the character-artworks from Bastion Press' "Allies and Adversaries"-supplement. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, but sans a printer-friendly version - which is bad, since this pdf will extol a BRUTAL drain on your printer.



Örks. An excessive background story, a dungeon of tomb of horrors-deadliness-level, supreme production values...what's not to like? Indeed, this module is a meat-grinder, a challenge, a module to brag about when surviving. A high-level challenge. Full of superb prose, cool characters, imaginative monsters. A module that mentions a lot of PFRPG-builds, utilizes spells etc. well and overall, can be considered not only well-crafted on a basic level, but actually well-written - copious, awesome read-aloud-text helps prospective DMs run this. And yes, it breathes the spirit of old-school adventuring while hitting high level high fantasy notes. On the one hand - on the other, this module fails - the artifacts of the former heroes/erstwhile companions of the Lich Queen get no proper item-stats, here and there are inappropriate mechanics used to resolve challenges. And then, there's the final issue on a content-level:



The module cheats in the worst tradition from the old-school days: The fiat. Abilities don't fit your idea? Flat-out ban them. There, I said it. The CHALLENGE of high-level design is not cranking up the numbers, it's about dealing with the possibilities at the PC's disposal. Flight and Teleportation being chief among them. Just flat-out banning them is a cop-out. And that's not the only instance. If you scrape the beautiful surface, you'll notice a lot of these problems in the details - from missing school-auras to not using the proper, existing tools to e.g. craft illusions etc. (thus including ways to bypass them), this pdf, with all its at times neat knowledge of details and usage of supplements feels like it at times just didn't care and instead only DM-fiats solutions. Much like a railroady videogame, the challenges herein usually have ONE proper solution that you're supposed to go for. Cleverly using the abundant resources gets you nowhere as a player - and worse, often the intended solutions don't follow the logic of the available resources, whereas at times, the supplement makes SUPERB use of them and the respective rules. Nevertheless, as much as I'm loathe to say it - cheating players out of resources is bad design with a capital "B" in my book.



That being said, when tackled on its own, this module still should be considered a joyous read and the meta-complaints I just fielded can be offset with a good DM. What's really problematic would be the lack of maps.

Call me a jerk, call me old.school, but I don't care for any amount of gorgeous artworks or 20 pages of short story when I don't get FRIGGIN' MAPS for 20 bucks. Yes, this book is beautiful and yes, I get that the dungeon is supposed to be modular - but know what would help? Maps of the rooms. Maps that don't require me to spend an additional 30 bucks (+ potentially 15) to get the maximum out of this module. And yes, the additional map-packs may be the cream of the crop, the nirvana of maps - but what does that help me when the supplement that uses them does not even feature low-res or downscaled rudimentary versions?

As written, the encounters and characters are superb, the text great - but sans a map, the whole complex remains opaque in its dimensions, possible connections etc. I'm honestly, even after weeks, still pissed at the omission of what is not just decor (like the gorgeous artworks), but rather a central component of any module. Think about similar premium products: Rappan Athuk, Razor Coast etc. (and yes + maps, this comparison is justified) - you get 3-5 times the content AND MAPS. You can get map-packs in addition, but they are not omitted from the mega-module. Think how an AP would stand up if Paizo told you: "Want maps? You HAVE to buy our (kinda optional) map-packs, no more maps in the APs. But we'll make them really big and shiny." Would you be ok with that? Thought so. Now think about said products and how to run them sans maps. Get my drift? I don't care how good the 30-buck map-pack is, selling a 20-buck module sans cartography is just an insult in my book, especially sans pointing out the lack of proper maps.



It's been a while since I've been so conflicted about a product - on the one hand, I love the NPCs, creatures, storyline and several of the challenges herein - as a toolbox to scavenge, this is awesome. On the other, I have rarely been so frustrated by a module, so pissed off by a product. From the lack of a printer-friendly version to the lack of maps to the writing cheating PCs out of some of their best tricks to make the module work, I feel like this pdf, when it had the chance to revolutionize what one can expect from dungeon crawls, opted to go for a beautiful polish and then made essential components add-ons. Where's the printer-friendly version?



It took me some time to get what made me so annoyed by an otherwise great supplement - it's that this pdf is inconsiderate. From the lack of maps to the lack of a printer-friendly version to a lack of consideration regarding high-level character options, this module is superbly written, yes. But it also says "Here's the way to do this - and that's the way. Have problems with it? Want comfort? Tough luck." And honestly, for me as a person...In spite of loving the characters and set-up and the adversaries and often creative traps, this module is ruined by not being able to use them since they're cheating by taking player-resources out of the game in the first place, when they instead could have worked WITH the options. Created teleportation-puzzles, ones that require planar callings etc. - working with the system instead of against it. For me as a private person, this module fails to deliver what it sets out to do - utterly. As a reviewer, though, I have to take into account that you might not mind the non-standard rules here and there or perhaps you just have money I frankly don't have and just shrug the maps away, saying "Pff, Endzeitgeist has no idea, with these maps the module is the best thing ever and I don't care about players being cheated out of some of their abilities!" - I can't verify this, but I have to take it into account. This pdf is production quality-wise 5 stars +seal of approval, content-wise a 3.5 and for me personally, a 1-star disappointment. As a reviewer, taking into account the feelings of others and different takes on what's important etc., I'll instead settle on a final verdict of 3 stars. Caveat Emptor, though. I can't verify it, but you should probably get the 30-buck-map-pack as well.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tomb of the Lich Queen (Pathfinder)
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Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 The Pirate Coast - Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2013 10:49:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment by John M. Stater's massive Hex Crawl Chronicles-series is a massive 60 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,3 pages SRD, leaving us with a massive 54 pages of content - at the low price-point an excellent bang-for-buck ratio!



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



All right, still here? Much like the fourth installment, we get two full pages of hexes to crawl through, though approximately a third of them are made up by the sea. As with other Hex Crawl Chronicles, it should be noted that this is a wilderness sandbox, where PCs journey from hex to hex, stumbling over adventure and embarking on player-driven quests - this is essentially one huge sandbox in the truest sense and hence, not all adversaries that can be found or fought here adhere to one CR or come with complete statblocks, though you'll find no shortness of those in here -from CR 15 Bonny Prince Andus and his 4 subcaptains to two more lords and their subcaptains, we get quite an array of different pirates to shake up and change the dynamics of these places. While build-wise, these being are not particularly complex, we at least get them spiced up with magi and even a multiclass duelist - though personally, I wouldn't have minded a gunslinger here as well.



The Pirate Coast is a truly intriguing place, culturally - once inhabited by Stone Giants and riddled with their monuments, nowadays the colonial sea people (white-skinned travelers that arrived from over the sea), the Bull-god-worshipping, island-dwelling Bucranians and the xenophobic, mechanically savvy yet emotionally crippled "Last Men" weave a cultural panorama somewhere between memories of Mu, Crete's lore and late colonial anarchy - and yes, elven and dwarven ethnicities are also covered here and rumor-tables offer additional incentives for adventuring.



Now unlike regular adventures, herein we get an array of locales, depicted in sufficient detail for DMs to develop or run as sidetreks - and oh boy do some of them breathe imagination and panache: Take the little valley and its shallows, where dinosaur ghosts manifest and a temple left by the ancient elves hides not only a deadly portal into annihilation, but also a boon if the PCs manage to solve the complex's weird riddles. Or what about a sword guarded by energy-drain-causing swarms of deadly butterflies and their mindless zombie slaves, perhaps all following the commands of green slime hiding in the hearth...or some other being that has crafted this strange micro-ecosystem...



Death awaits foolish adventurers disturbing sealed away pit fiends and a valley that is often visited by the lord of all horses may also see potential problems if the adventurers lay their hands on his centaurs or equine servants. Covens of hags, clouds that cover you in gold, served by oblivion wraiths, goblin tribes, lonely cambions, strange dwarves led by an opal-eyed "seer", granite cliffs hiding the mansions of stone giants left behind from ages long gone, giant beaver-dams, a neutral sect of hermit monks, ritual sites of alien, long-forgotten gods from the outer dark - and even Zarathustrans, monks that believe they have transcended humanity -all of these and so much more can be found within these pages. Fur-traders, seal-headed humanoids, oracles of the woods,, a windswept plain where the spirits of the 4 Black Winds may be conjured forth, a fully mapped mini-dungeon, an alchemist who grows obedient women in vats, hunting grounds of killer squirrels, a wood-craver that can create doppelgänger made of wood, a bored goddess of fortunae, trbes of warrior-nymphs, rainbow-crows guarding divine fire... There is fodder for weeks upon weeks of adventure herein.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though by far not perfect - I noticed minor inconsistencies here and there, double letters etc. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author John M. Stater and PFRPG-conversion chief Skeeter Green have delivered us a supplement that brims with raw ideas - so many in fact, that I wager you could easily spin a whole campaign around the ideas herein. Skeeter Green has learned from part 4 and this installment of Hex Crawl Chronicles offers more variety - alchemists, magi etc. make for more versatile builds than in the previous installment and statblock-wise, we get a lot of material, though personally, I'd upgrade the magical items of most beings herein, especially of the high-level NPCs. That being said, you won't buy this for the statblocks - you buy this for the IDEAS.

Whether to supplement Skull & Shackles or Savage Tide with free-form wilderness (h)exploration or to add to Freeport or Razor Coast, this mini-setting (for that it is) brims with more awesome ideas that almost demand being made into an adventure than some campaign settings I've read. With a touch for blending familiar and lien, we are taken on a ride into realms both wondrous and distinct, where piratey coolness and a sense of Sword & Sorcery rawness mix and foolish PCs might meet their demise by annoying the wrong hermit. Now all great? Almost. For a supplement about pirate coasts, there is a distinct lack of storm/seas phenomena & ship-combat and the like and no stats for legendary pirate ships can be found in these pages - which is a bit of a pity. Still, I can't find it inside me to rate this down for its flaws - it offers too many good ideas and an just about unbeatable bang-for-buck ratio; This could literally be 1/2 a year of diligent roleplaying! Half a year spent with fun, wonder and excitement and the thrill of very old-schoolish danger. Final verdict? In spite of the flaws, 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hex Crawl Chronicles 5 The Pirate Coast - Pathfinder Edition
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Advanced Races 3: Gearforged (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 03:13:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment in the Advanced Races-series is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Now the story of Gearforged has been told by multiple supplements and could be pieced together from various Midgard-themed sources, but herein we have the story well-compiled and much like the spread content, this pdf offers also fluff-wise the easiest way of getting the whole story of the creation of the Gearforged - from Stross-tyranny to the Free City of Zobeck's revolution to how Rava (a mask of Ariadne) and her church have guided and shaped Gearforged society, while also going into details on Gearforged psychology and iconic concepts like memory gears, soul gems and everwound springs as well as Rava's write-up. Also rather awesome would be the schematic insights into the anatomy of Gearforged, marvelously illustrated in gorgeous full color by Mark Smylie.



Of course, this pdf offers a significant array of traits - a total of 12 different racial traits are provided for your perusal: From a 1/day discharge of 1d4 fire/electricity or sonic damage à la burning hands to confusing foes by linking via touch with their minds, these traits...are actually fun! I mean it! They're not too strong, but confer significant bonuses and make for thematically fitting, intriguing additions to characters that may well make the difference between triumph or doom. Only rarely do I see traits I enjoy as much as these, so kudos! Especially since 5 racial subtypes with assigned traits add also a sense of narrative gravitas to the selection of these traits - I wish more supplements tied story/setting-information that concisely together. And of course, the cool incantation/ritual to turn into a Gearforged is depicted herein as well in all its glory.



But what do Gearforged characters get crunch-wise? Well, they are medium, get +2 to an ability score of their choice, +1 natural armor, suffer no penalty from wearing medium armor, get low-light and darkvision and also the Gearforged traits - these include +4 to saves versus mind-influencing effects, immunity to nonlethal damage, disease, death effects, necromancy effects, poison and sleep as well as exhaustion and fatigue. Furthermore, they automatically stabilize at 0 Hp or less and are not subject to massive damage death. Even upon complete destruction of the base bdy, as long as the memory gears and soul stone are intact, the Gearforged can be recreated. They also don't need to eat, sleep or breathe and may work properly under water for str-score hours - any longer than that immobilizes them unless they have been repaired. Gearforged incur a -2 penalty on swim-checks.

Gearforged cannot heal damage naturally, and even magic only cures the minimum amount of damage. The psionic repair power (nice to see the inclusion!) works normally, though. Gearforged require 4 hours of daily maintenance by themselves - failing to get this period of uninterrupted rest results in cumulative penalties of - 2 to atk, skill-checks, ability-checks and saves and after character level periods sans maintenance, the Gearforged become immobile, requiring outside help to reactivate. They also get +2 to intimidate and Craft (clockworks). All in all, an interesting race - the vast array of immunities is somewhat offset by the impeded healing capabilities of the class - though the question of type remains: While I assume from the fact that they get their own subtype that the Gearforged count as humanoids for the purpose of spells and the like, not as constructs, it would have been nice to have that spelled out properly. Now we also get an array of archetypes, first of which would be the Clockwork Warrior for the Fighter-class: Learning to utilize gears to supplement his/her/its attacks, developing natural claw-attacks and similar tricks in lieu of armor/weapon training. is nice, though we have a formatting glitch here, with one ability's name not properly in bold. The Faithforged are created paladins, who do not get spells, instead focusing on lay on hands (also on gearforged!) and the option to infuse attacks with elemental bonus damage dependant on level instead of mercies and divine grace. As soon as the Faithforged learn to channel they're rather hard to pin down, for their symbol is their own very being. The high-level abilities are also quite unique - kudos for an uncommon, interesting archetype here. The Heavy Gauntlet Witch gets a permanent adamantine gauntlet enhancement to their physical form, enhancing their physical forms with DRs and even fortification. Furthermore, their pain clasp overrides construct immunity and even, in one check, grapple and make paralyzed foes prone and get a reach. An ok archetype, I guess, though it annoys me a bit that it does not specify which abilities the respective powers replace/change - yes, it's a variation of the gauntlet witch archetype from KQ's issue #23, but still - the information should have been in this pdf.



Next up would be the Lawmaster inquisitor - unable to cast [chaotic]-spells, these inquisitors are specialists of intimidation and they make for superb guards, being able to make relatively easy DC 20-perception checks to discern the invisible, ethereal and later even discern the true form of polymorphed creatures and objects. At high level, regeneration and marks of justice as well as a type of imprisonment are added to their arsenal. rather neat! Barbarian gearforged seem like a contradiction in adjecto, but the Quiet Explorer gets a changed rage-quality as well as the ability to retaliate at higher levels, punishing opponents with AoOs. Summoners of the Gearforged race may opt for the path of Salvager - their summoning spells may be restricted, but do add the new scrap beast mini-template to their summons, making them vulnerable to electricity in favor of +2 AC. Also rather interesting, the archetype gets a flying metal sphere weak to electricity (no offsetting the weakness via evolutions!) that can learn to turn into a swarm-form which may later learn to split, throw swarmed foes and as a capstone disarm and destroy items to have the swarm heal itself.



The final new archetype would be the Tinker Alchemist - faster maintenance (only 2 hours, later none at all), exclusive mutagens for Gearforged, bombs automatically enhanced by the breath weapon discovery and may choose energy to be resistant against and even be healed by said energy make up this archetype's arsenal. Among the new items, we get a claw whip, a polish to dazzle foes and a gear buggy vehicle as well as an amulet that may grow spider-like bludgeoning appendages, anti-construct bombs, a kind of battery (to heal and offset maintenance) and finally, bells to interact with destroyed Gearforged.



We also get 16 new feats herein - improved armor, better underwater adaption, counting as both former race and Gearforged, better skill at dismantling constructs, DR/fire, having an integrated masterwork item usable only for you, more beautiful appearance, less penalties for failing to get maintenance, reflexively magnetically disarming foes 3/day, self-repair and even making a limb autonomous 1/day, the feats per se are rather neat - especially the autonomous limb has quite some potential! Speaking of potential, the 5 spells have some cool ideas, but unfortunately, also flaws - take the first spell. It includes this sentence "While encased, use your touch AC for all AC checks." I have no idea what AC-checks are supposed to be. Also: usually, touch AC is worse than regular AC, so why is this an improvement? Per se the spell offers temporary hit points, which is nice, but I still don't get how this one is supposed to work. Dazzling (and int-damaging) foes via bursts at 4th spell level may be nice, but also a bit weak. You can also transform your metal frame into bone, take on inevitable-like aspects or charge your unarmed strikes with electricity damage.





This does include options for non-Gearforged characters as well, though:

Oracles may now opt for the Clockwork and Industry Oracle-mysteries (both of which are AWESOME, the latter allowing you, if you choose to, to wilder in gunslinging!) and the sorceror may now opt for the mechanical sorceror bloodline and we also get information on the Craft (Clockwork)-skill, Disable Device when interacting with clockwork devices and Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering) as well as Use Magic Device. on another note, if you require some inspiration to expand the Craft (Clockwork)-skill, Storm Bunny Studios has a nice supplement out there that could be well used to supplement this pdf. Finally, we get 3 non-Gearforged clockwork-related traits.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I noticed minor glitches here and there as well as some minor rules ambiguities. Layout adheres to Midgrad's drop-dead gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the artworks are ridiculously beautiful for this price - James Keegan, Chris McFann and Mark Smylie all did splendid jobs here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The Gearforged have a hard standing with me - I've read MANY construct-races, with varying degrees of being constructy/human-like and just as many solutions for the obvious problems the immunities bring. Now fluff-wise, the Gearforged are my favorite construct-race, but crunch-wise...not so much. I'm not really sold on their balance. Where e.g. Darakhul, who get a similar amount of immunities/benefits have to contend with multiple drawbacks that balance out their powers, Gearforged only get penalties like the maintenance-requirement that can be mitigated and even bought off with significantly less feat-investment than the Darakhul. Furthermore, their immunities are rather significant and the absence of an age, height and WEIGHT-table is unfortunate - I can already see the discussions on whether the gearforged crashes through those ice sheets, branches etc. in my head....



That being said, the options contained herein more often hit the spot than miss it - Designers Wolfgang Baur, Morgan Boehringer, Chris Harris, Adam Roy, Jason Sonia and the mastermind of this pdf Thomas Benton have crafted some rather ingenious pieces of content that should, even for other construct-races, allow for significant amounts of scavenging. Idea-wise, this is definitely a rich, if not perfect offering, a bit on the stronger side balance-wise and with minor glitches here and there, but still a well-worth purchase. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at a solid 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 3: Gearforged (Pathfinder RPG)
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Amnesia (Fate)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2013 03:09:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplemental pdf for Rite Publishing's superb "The Demolished Ones"-FATE-setting/module/sandbox is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's check this out!



Now, if you've read my review of "The Demolished Ones" (TDO), you'll know I a) hate the FATE-rules and b) loved the "Demolished Ones" enough to actually want to run/play it and consider the FATE-rules actually good for something. I am in love with this setting, but it is a demanding one for DMs to run - due to the free-form nature and player-driven action in TDO, a DM better should have some experience under his/her belt. Since there are some differences between standard FATE-CORE and TDO, we are given a quick run-down of the interaction of the two and how they relate before we delve into one of the two types of "memories" provided herein - in order to avoid SPOILERS for TDO, I will refer to them as "a-memories" - these are the ones pertaining to positive life events or those that are...well. Normal. Job-related, marriages, victories - each memory comes with an array of related skills, aspects and possible stunts the respective a-memories may provide. While generally positive, the memories may still be a source for discomfort - how do memories of oceans or holidays enter your mind if there is no beach within the Dome? A total of 17 such a-memories are provided, all with ready-to-go read-aloud text in vivid prose that only at best requires minor modification, making introducing resonating memories easy.



And then there are "b-memories" - these tend to be...less pleasant. I've managed to avoid spoilers about those in my review of the base book and will try to remain so. Generally, these b-memories are unpleasant...morally despicable and hearken to the theme of identity and ID suffusing the setting of TDO in at times unobtrusive, at times obtrusive symbolism. A total of 10 such b-memories are provided and the memories are depicted in just as vivid prose - only that here the nastiness of the memories lends a totally different quality to the memories. As before, we get associated aspects, skills and stunts for each of these... b-memories. Why two categories? DMs will know, player's shouldn't and I'm not telling. ^^



Beyond these memories, we also are introduced to an array of stunts, unless I miscounted, a total of 58 ones, to be precise. of these, 5 are particularly designed for TDO and are problematic to convert, but over all - they actually add a much more strategic edge to TDO than via the basic FATE-CORE stunts available in TDO, which btw. have also been reproduced herein for convenience's sake.



We also get a short errata on zones and movement and advice on how to handle the respective memories.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with glorious b/w-artworks and fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Author Bill Collins has created a supplement that should make running TDO not only easier on the DM, it should also add a more distinct level of tactical depth in the conflicts in TDO, allowing for a more streamlined flow of the free-form module, all supplemented by vivid prose and at times disturbing imagery that supplements well the superb setting of TDO. If I had anything to complain about this, then that would be the lack of new gear-aspects herein - the steampunkish component of TDO could use some additional development, but still - that is no fault of either the base book, nor this supplement. While I still won't run standard FATE, I most definitely will run TDO and consider this supplement an excellent addition to the books canon as well as a great help for DMs. Even non-TDO-DMs/players may get some use out of this book to add a sense of alienation and wrongness to their game and play with the identity of characters. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at a solid 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amnesia (Fate)
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Rule Zero: Gem Magic
Publisher: Minotaur Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2013 06:55:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, ~3/4 pages SRD+editorial, leaving us with 14 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So...socketed magic items. In this system of magic items/gem magic, armors and weapons can have one socket, two (two become available for base items of +3 and better enchantments) or even 3 (+5 and better enchantments), staves can have one socket and other magic items get up to 1 socket, unless being categorized as a major magic item, in which case they may have 2 sockets. The first slot costs 500 Gp, the second 2000 Gp and the third 4000 Gp. Gemstones can be created analogue to other magic items via the Craft Gemstone-feat. Upon insertion, a gemstone requires 1 hour of attunement before conferring its bonuses and inserting the gemstone takes one minute of precise, deliberate and careful insertion - no quick switching. Gemstone effects, unlike otherwise noted, are supernatural abilities.



Aforementioned attunement-period can be shortened via one of the 3 new spells. Another one of the new spells allows you to go horadrim cube on gemstones and fuse multiple gemstones of a lesser quality into one of a higher quality. The final spell would be the true winner, though - allowing you to grow a socket as a third eye that holds temporarily a gemstone as if you were an item of the "other" category, not requiring an attunement time due to the short duration. Damn cool!



Now I already mentioned gem quality - essentially, there are 4 different qualities, from worst to best: chip (2 K Gp), shard (8 K Gp), gem (18 K Gp)and jewel (32 K Gp). Now when inserted into armors, these items generally offer a passive benefit, when added to weapons they offer either passive bonuses or weapon quality-like benefits à la additional sonic damage. Staves benefit from being studded with gems by allowing the staff to use charges to produce a spell in a can and the other benefits... well, are other and vary wildly all over the place. Now thankfully, designer Jason Bulmahn has not simply lazily stepped up the respective benefits for each quality, but actually offers some interesting varieties here: Let's take the agate as an illustrating example, shall we?



When used in an armor, a agate chip halves stealth-skill armor-check penalty when in fog, rain or similar weather. A shard completely allows you to ignore armor check penalty when in such a weather. As a gem, an armor-inserted agate also offers the spell-like ability to 3/day use obscuring mist and see easily through the mist in addition to the base effects and in the jewel form, the wearer may also turn greater invisible for a limited duration. When instead inserted into weapons, we get a non-linear progression: In chip-form, atk-rolls are not penalized by moist weather, whereas in jewel form the weapon deals additional sonic damage and has a chance to cause deafness upon criticals, but no access to the chip's benefits. The stave-inserts allow access to obscuring mist, gust of wind, call lightning and control winds, respectively. Finally, the other-category offers at first a +2 bonus to saves versus inhaled poisons, then +2 AC versus nonmagical ranged attacks and at gem-level, we add feather fall to the latter benefit, while finally, the jewel also grants access to fly.



A total of 24 classes of gems, each with their 4 steps of quality are provided, and they do all provide rather versatile options of effect on all steps.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, easy to print-out 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks provided are neat. the pdf unfortunately has no bookmarks, which is a rather significant comfort detriment. Anotehr comfort-detriment would be that the gems are supposed to have the auras of the spells used in their creation - however, while the spells are mentioned, the auras have to be looked up unless you have an even better memory than I do and can recall the auras of x spells from the top of your head, when this unnecessary book-flipping could have been easily avoided.



Socketed items rock. I love the idea and the gems herein work well and offer cool, versatile benefits. And in fact, you be seeing me jump up and down and singing the praises of how this pdf offers a vastly superior option to the lame ioun stone insertion of the Pathfinder Lodge in Golarion - and said praise would be justified, seeing that this system, at least in my opinion, is vastly superior and more interesting.

So...what's the catch? The lack of bookmarks hurts this pdf. And there this other socketed magic item-system, Interjection Games "One Bling to Rule Them All".

And while Interjection Games' system has some minor flaws, the overall content is more exciting, at least to me: Essentially, it allows for 3 classes of mundane items that turn magical by inserting PAIRS of crystals that can be switched on the fly or by inserting permanent special crystals -said crystals cannot easily be identified, categorized etc., but they do have an inherent susceptibility to having their unique effects counterspelled. In Interjection Games' system, we have also an extremely broad selection of unique effects, just about all of which don't just provide spells in a can or duplicate effects, but rather do unique things, like conjuring a cloud of vampiric mosquitoes that heal you or another one that allows you to survive a fall from orbit or, or, or, or. The permanent crystals can be handcrafted in a staggering variety of ways.

Rule Zero: Gem Magic, is a tad bit more concise in its rules-language, but the respective benefits are also less imaginative than in its competitor - Interjection Games' supplement often had this "no other spell/magic quality/etc. does that"-effect, making it as a supplement, at least for me, more rewarding. Yes, Rule Zero: Gem Magic also thankfully treads new ground, but in a less pronounced way that didn't leave me cold, but also didn't blow me away.

In the end, both systems have their benefits and drawbacks and particularly adept DMs may want to get both and combine them. Personally, I prefer the wild ideas of Interjection Games' supplement and if you're a fan of uncommon ideas, I suggest you take a look at it, but undoubtedly, this is still a very good supplement and if you're a stickler for perfect rules-grammar, Rules Zero may be the better choice for you. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rule Zero: Gem Magic
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Pathways #33 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2013 08:58:32
The latest installment of Rite Publishing's "Pay what you want"-e-zine Pathways is 49 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 10 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 36 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



David Paul's editorial this time around poses an interesting question - since Pathways has gone from free to "Pay what you want" (which is semi-free/dependent on your appreciation of the magazine), he asks what YOU would like to see and you would pay for seeing the respective content.



After that, we are introduced to Steven D. Russell, aka "Grandmaster of Templates"/Rite Overlord's template for the issue - the CR +3 Kingkiller Creature: These creatures are chaotic evil harbingers of ruin and decay - with the power to slay servants of a kingdom, inflict wounds that are cursed and can only be healed by specific individuals under specific conditions, Furthermore, these harbingers of destruction can absorb spells (though they may be overcharged!), rejuvenate and gain a specific scourge upon creation - whether it be fire, madness, blight, storms, pestilence or war - while two of the scourge-headlines are in italics, not as intended in bold, this template is just too AWESOME. Representing creatures foretold by prophecy, legendary slayers of not only rulers, but also their very kingdoms, these beings are powerful, iconic and add a whole new level of threat to a powerful villain. AWESOME and one of the best templates Steven D. Russell has ever created. Drool-worthy and well-supplemented by a CR 9 Scourge of War Lizard Kingkiller, an advanced lizardfolk fighter 2 with the template applied.



Liz Winters has an article on the benefits of imaginative play (like RPGs!) in the formative years of children - and believe it or not (though she provides some examples of literature), I can attest to the impact roleplaying (though I didn't know it by that name then) has had on me, my creative output and my very frame of mind, not to start with vocabulary and so on - parents and fellow gamers should definitely check that article and do some further reading.



Mike Myler, known not only from his ample contributions to Adventureaweek.com, but also for his solo-venture provides a mapless module herein for level 3 - 4, named Quadrial's Tower.



SPOILERS FOR THE MODULE

The wizard Quadrial has gone missing and this is due to an experiment going wrong - seeking to create learning golems from an obscure metal dubbed *drumroll* Asmov, but ignoring the required laws of the almost namesake author, the wizard feel prey to a combination of a young cloaker and the attacks of his own golem. Tiny at first the threat returns upon defeat again and again, each version more powerful than the one before, while the cloaker starts his sabotage of the tower. Via anautopsy, some decutiona dn sheer perseverance at destroying the golem again and again, the PCs may put an end to the threat and uncover the details of the wizard's grisly fate. A creepy, hardcore challenging sidetrek - nothing to complain. And yes, the narrative, non-mapped nature at least for me works rather well - I ran 3 whole campaigns sans maps and my players are accustomed to it. In some complex environments, it could become problematic, but here, it works. Nice one!



/SPOILERS



Creighton Broadhurst, mastermind of Raging Swan Press, has an EL 8 encounter versus the Gnoll slavers of Yog Parof here, with Zog Ahl the gnoll cleric 5, gnoll skeletons, zombies and fighters all fully detailed. Furthermore, we get 8 random events to spice up the desert-bound battle. Neat and fun one!



Next up would be a spell-list of antipaladin-spells for 1001 spells -cool and handy!



Now next up would be an interview that actually touched me - when Rocks Fall Games came around, Charles Marleau, the head-honcho, had created modules I considered terrible. Conversely, I wrote some (even for my hardball standards) harsh reviews. Instead of spite, he replied with kindness, which bespeaks of a mind able to process criticism - which is good to see...but not enough and no substitution for talent. I was skeptical, but turns out, he and his team have revised a couple of their modules so far and the results have universally been IMPRESSIVE - these guys actually do have talent! Never in all my time as a review have I seen products that once were almost utterly generic zeroes make such a thorough transition to full-blown, soulful awesomeness. If you haven't, give their revised modules a chance - these guys have talent and by now I actually look forward to their releases as they seem to get better with each and every one of their products. So yeah, read the interview and take a look at Rocks Fall Games' Dark Totem-modules - they are extremely affordable and fun!



Speaking of reviews: As always, a selection of 5-star reviews of 3pps and Rite Publishing itself are provided, offering you a sweep of some awesome 3pp-products - the reviews you'll get are by Trevor W., Joshua "KTFish7" Gullion, and, of course, by yours truly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor formatting and editing glitches here and there, though only cosmetic of nature. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column full-color standard and the cover-artwork is neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



A cool interview with one of the lesser known rising stars among 3pps, a useful spell-list that makes a cult-book more useful, a neat encounter with cool environmental effects - all that is nice.



Where this issue shines is with Mike Myler's rather cool mini-module, which offers more challenge and weirdness than many commercial modules...and Steven D. Russell's template. The Kingkiller is just so AWESOME - with his templates seeing a lot of use in my game and "The Book of Monster Templates" as well, I thought that one of these days template fatigue would set in - and then he suddenly crafts one of perhaps the most intriguing, awesome templates I've ever read. this template alone is worth the HD-space on its own - seriously, you SHOULD check this one out - it's templates like this I will judge Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary against once it releases and it will have a hard time versus awesomeness-beasts like this one. Believe me, the kingkiller is worth a donation. EDIT for clarification: While there are rules for kingkillers versus kingdoms (WHICH ARE AWESOME), I would have loved additional rules interacting with armies as well, but I am just greedy here. ^^



Final verdict? One of the best Pathways e-zines ever released, 5 stars + seal of approval, even if it would have a fixed price. At PWYW, there's no excuse - Get this as soon as your download speed allows.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #33 (PFRPG)
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FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2013 04:43:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for the DCC-rule-system is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



Still here? Prince Charming of the fairy-tales - we know him. Or do we? In this series, the character-trope is actually one man. His first wife Cinder Ella, his second wife Snow White - both returned from what could be death, have perished and now he's set his ice-cold stare on a sleeping beauty. Unfortunately, she sleeps in the cursed ruins from which his men tend not to return - and what better way to get what he wants than just rounding up some peasants to do his dirty work? Yeah, those press-ganged poor fops...they are your PCs.



And oh boy, this once is HARD. Seriously - sans getting XP after the respective encounters, the PCs will probably be obliterated unless they are VERY good and lucky, so beware: Not for the faint of heart! The ruin per se is guarded by deadly, poisonous vines and the deadly flora may actually be the first thing that can obliterate your PCs - thankfully, the Prince can always send in more peasants... Of course, the PCs may actually find a secret way into the ruins or just push through a breach in the wall - either way will not be simple, for the ruins are infested by Hobyah, somewhat darker small relatives of brownies. Among the ruins, the PCs may find the former laboratory of one Doctor Chapman: Among the detailed possessions, one can find Black Sabbath records that have never been released in our world and similar curiosities from throughout the plains and worlds - Doctor Chapman's spirit, as he manifests, is actually rather amenable and helpful, offering some nice magic items for the PCs...but also warning them about not liking thieves. And he is not kidding. He also warns the PCs that the prince will not let them live, but also that he does not understand the curse and hence, they just should not interfere upon having recovered Sleeping Beauty...



Within the castle, they may also encounter a weird, deadly cross between squid, spider and centipede (can you say "Eaten by a grue-like entity?") and finally, the PCs may find a hall, where faerie-thrall maidens may bequeath gifts like the sword of truth, an intelligent blade, the shield of truth, which protects from the aforementioned vines and will not stand any falsehood uttered and finally, a mirror into which a demon has been bound, which reveals the truth. And the PCs better do their best and use these in smart ways, for in order to reach sleeping beauty, the PCs will have to deal with a dragon made of roses, which btw. is also one of the most challenging adversaries I've seen in quite a while at this level... Any victory is hard and dearly won. Taking the sleeping maiden to the prince, the PCs are held at arms point, while he inserts his reanimation-serum to return her to life.



Unfortunately for the prince, she turns undead and rips his head clean off - essentially immortal, the undead bride starts annihilating the prince's men, while legions of the fallen spawn from the ruins. The Pcs may escape with their life, but the undead princess remains in the forests and will probably return in the sequel...



We also get Doc Chapman as a potential patron.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly two-column standard with original, top-notch b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with player-friendly extra high-res jpeg-maps as well as DM-maps - awesome.



Daniel J. Bishop offers here a twisted take on faerie tales that is glorious to read and run, as it resonates deeply with faerie-tale tropes, while offering iconic, cool challenges. There is not much to say here beyond that each and every component of this module is simply superb - from production values to maps and artworks to the superb treasure trove of imagination that went into this, we get one superb module that DMs of other rule-sets should get as well - for scavenging ideas alone, this is worth quite a lot. And then, add that this is "Pay what you want" - even for a commercial module, this would easily score at the highest possible rating. As Pay what you want, this is one of the scarce instances, where the absolute superb can be gotten for any price your able to pay - and believe me when I say that this module is worth your bucks. My final verdict will clock in at a resounding 5 stars plus seal of approval - get this and drop the guys from PDG a tip: Quality like this is rare!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
FT 0 - Prince Charming, Reanimator (PWYW)
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Flesh Golem Variants
Publisher: Christina Stiles Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2013 09:25:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first pdf of Christina Stiles' solo-venture into publishing presents concepts by the author-group "4 Horsemen" - consisting of Dan Dillon (Death), Gillian Fraser (War), Steven Helt (Famine) and Stephen Rowe (Pestilence). The pdf clocks in at 8 pages, with 1 page being taken up by editorial/SRD, so let's take a look at those creatures:



The first adversary herein is the CR 8 Crawling Horror - think "Human Centipede as a golem. Also rather disturbing - up to a point, sufficient damage via piercing or slashing damage may actually split the adversary, resulting in a battle versus two of their ilk. Paradoxically, this makes the smaller versions hit better (size reduction resulting in -1 less penalty to atk), but of course also increased damage dice - from 2d8 to 2d6. First of all - kudos for getting that one right...though honestly, in this case, I would have considered a no decrease in damage-dice okay as well - after all, the slam attacks are still done by the same creature's weapons.



Now Spiritflesh Golems are where it gets weird - at CR 10, these beings deal str-damage and can possess foes magic jar-style and as flesh-golems...well, they have no flesh. They are essentially flesh golems whose flesh has been dissolved in a special creation. Now where I'm not wholly sold on the efficiency of these creatures is with the result of their incorporeal touch -upon reducing foes to 0 str, the foes turn permanently incorporeal. While there are means of surpassing said hindrance and restoring corporeality, overall, the ability feels more like a boon to me: While in-game, losing the body is horrific, out-game being in an incorporeal state offers A LOT of significant bonuses and unlike similar abilities, the player seems to be able to maintain control over their character. Essentially, the golem makes the enemies stronger in the long run, which makes it a curious adversary that is rather cool, but also one that can unhinge game-balance. Personally, I'd advise you to kill off reduced characters and spawn them as incorporeal undead.



The third critter herein is the CR 14 Stitch-Golem. Wow. Just wow - this golem has a beneficial aura that automatically quells bleeding and stabilizes the dying - which can be surpressed. War is hell, they say - and this one is hellish indeed - trudging the battlefields, these golems, stabilize their own allies while at the same time grappling foes, pinning them and RIPPING THEIR LIMBS OFF. Yes. Ouch. Worse, their magic keeps the torn apart limb fresh and allows them to apply their ghoulish trophies to their ally, essentially stealing the limbs of the fallen and dying foes to heal the ranks of their allies. Now if that is not a weird, deadly and twisted idea, I don't know what is - awesome!!!



The final creature herein is the CR 8 Witchfleshgolem: Those subjected to this golem's attacks become more susceptible to the special abilities of hags, witch hexes and necromancy [curse]-spells. Worse, they also come with an aura that forces you to roll d20 twice on a failed save. Worse - one of these things counts as two hags for the purpose of forming a coven, allowing essentially for covens of one! Oh, and they don't require active actions to contribute to cooperative magic. OUCH!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from one harmless "/" missing in a DR-entry, I did not notice any glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Jacob Blackmon delivers one haunting piece of awesome full-color artwork per creature - not something I would have expected at this fair price-point! Especially the Witchfleshgolem's artwork is haunting and evocative indeed! The pdf comes in two versions, with the second being more printer-friendly.



The first golem was a mechanically solid oddity-creature that managed to get the relatively complex split right. Still, while following the rules, I can't help but feel that in this instance, e.g. specially shaped threat-ranges, a grappling/pinning option...something like that that utilizes all those limbs, would have rocked. The Spiritflesh-golem is a cool idea, but doesn't work logically in-game for me. The Stitch-Golem and the Witchflesh-Golem, though - disturbing GOLD with abilities that make sense, are unique and just glorious. Especially the Stitch-Golem is just impressive as I can see the pragmatist's reasoning, the veterans returning home with discolored, alien limbs, the ostracized shell-shock, the phantom-pain...the friggin' VAST narrative potential. The Witchflesh Golem is similarly intriguing and allows for races versus hags to creating and lends itself well to investigations of missing familiars etc.



At first, I wasn't too blown away, but getting two SUPERB creatures, 1 good and 1 okay one with top-notch production values for a price that is a steal indeed means that this pdf is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars. I'm looking forward to any future offerings of Christina Stiles Presents!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flesh Golem Variants
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