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Urban Dressing: Decadent Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 04:32:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This pdf, like all of the new and improved Urban Dressings, begins with a massive table of 100 entries describing sights and sounds to be found within these towns - and here, I expected a problem. The very word decadence implies an oscillation between excessive pleasure-seeking and simply massive spending of a frivolous manner, while also carrying connotations of squalor and decreptitude lurking beneath a civilized veneer. Surprisingly, this table actually manages to convey this oscillation in its vastly diverse entries - from frivolous uses of money and power to examples of the utter vanity of the ruling classes, a certain sense of sinister dread manages to slowly seep from the entries of this UD's columns - great job!



The 50 sample businesses provided in the second table further enhance this impression - from hairdressers to overpriced weapons to luxury coffin makers, this array of businesses aptly depicts the folly and eccentricities of people with frankly too much gold to spend - though I have to say that, personally, I would have enjoyed slightly more unsavory establishments beyond black market et al.



The third table herein, once again spanning 50 entries, covers, surprise, a lot of diverse aristocracy in short fluff-centric entries as well as the odd assassin with an underserved reputation and the people catering to the ruling classes' tastes as well as the odd, mad beggar.



The final table provides a total of 20 hooks and complications - from being challenged to duels by foppish dandies, to witnessing the utter indifference to the plight of lower classes and the theft from those recently slain to being asked to pay the "tourist tax" by some not-so-friendly guards, each hook at least can be developed into an encounter or even full-blown adventure.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.





Well, as a goth, the one hymn that kept returning to my mind was "My kind of town" - Frank's words seemed to resound with the very concept of this pdf and I enjoyed it. That being said, this may be just me, but this time around, it feels like Josh Vogt's Decadent Town-dressing lacks a bit the sleazy aspect, the outrage corruption beneath the surface; the drug-dens and decadent past times. The lurking memento mori beneath the surface, the presence of death and a fin de siècle like sense of impending doom. The pdf partially manages to capture this very elusive mood, but in other instances, it felt more like a window into a foppish/snobbish town rather than a decadent one. Admittedly, the tone is exceedingly hard to hit, but I feel Josh Vogt manages to partially, but not wholly, accomplish it. Hence, for now, my final verdict will "only" clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Decadent Town
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Prestige Archetype: The Shadow Monk
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/08/2015 04:30:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



So, what is the shadow monk? Well remember the shadow dancer PrC? Two classes were predestined for it - rogue and monk; Well, since the Prestige Archetype Shadow Dancer is the roguish one, this one is the shadow dancer/monk-combo-built. As such, the class receives proficiency with monk weapons, have a wis-based scaling AC-bonus, 3/4 BAB-progression, all good saves and scale unarmed attack damage up to 2d10, with the tables for small/large monk damage outputs thankfully provided as well. From level 1, flurry of blows is part of the picture, 2nd level evasion - no complaints there. However, the third level once again provides hide in plain sight in its strongest variant a couple of levels too early for my tastes. Unlike the roguish shadowdancer, the shadow monk powers his spell-like abilities with ki and gains them earlier at 6th, 8th, 15th and 18th level, receiving 2 options per level. Alas, the spell-like ability/spells-confusion of the shadow dancer also haunts the shadow monk.



Shadow jump and high-level tricks like timeless body, empty body etc. remain and the capstone, once again, is an apotheosis, while the signature quivering palm is gained at 15th level.



The pdf comes with FCOs for the core races and sample NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's Shadow Monk is haunted by the very same issues as the shadow dancer, with perhaps one notable difference - where the shadow dancer may have seemed like an upgrade for rogues (though not as cool an upgrade as the stellar Prestige Archetype Assassin), the shadow monk fails to deliver that - partially due to the weakness of the monk base-class and its, at least per default, utterly bland ability-progression. More so than any other combination before, these guys could have used some unique tricks to set them aside. The ki-powered shadow abilities actually decrease the appeal of the class - some of the coolest and most efficient feats and options for the monk require the expenditure of ki and further diminishing that resource makes in this case for a poor design decision that further limits the options instead of providing much needed breadth. Add to that the minor glitch and very early hide in plain sight and we have perhaps one of the weakest installment so far in the series. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to this being too good to deserve a two-star flurry of rating-slapping.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Shadow Monk
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Psychological Combat
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 03:08:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This pdf clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now this pdf kicks off with the crucial question - what is this pdf and why use it. First of all - feint and demoralize are the odd rules components out when compared to Pathfinder's otherwise streamlined combat maneuver mechanics - this pdf streamlines this to introduce a psychology DC. The DC would be 10+ HD+wis-mod or 10+sense motive bonus, whichever is higher - simple, easy to calculate on the fly - so kudos there. But also, at least so far, not that new.



Where things become more interesting would be with the new antagonize action. This can be used via Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate or Handle Animal, depending on creature targeted. Also depending on the skill you use, on your creature type in relation to the type you target, etc, we receive different benefits. If you successfully manage to antagonize a foe, you hamper their options to execute AoOs etc. - essentially, this would be "drawing aggro" from targets akin to Path of War's Warders, only for every character and better balanced due to a better scaling DC-system/presence of a DC in the first place. The pdf also fixes Demoralize by including the rules for fear immunity/mind-affecting components, fixing a whole in the rules. Kudos!



Okay, now the new morale system is what essentially makes this revision worthy of a second look by yours truly - the rather clunky, counter-intuitive original system has been replaces with a MUCH more elegant solution: A circumstantial variance from -5 to +5, depending on circumstances, to saves and psychology DC. While this may not sound like much, the implementation is exceedingly easy to grasp, plays smoothly and requires no work whatsoever on part of the DM - glorious!



After a short piece of aptly-written IC-prose, we are introduced to new class options to help against the effects of psychological warfare - alchemists receive a new cognatogen, barbarians a means to antagonize and deal damage as well as a mini-archetype focused on provoking foes. Brads may learn a new masterpiece to AoE-antagonize foes with a scathing satire and fighters may opt for a lightly-armored master of wits. Witches receive a hex which allows them to declare targets antagonized against her allies, while still reaping the benefits of the condition, while rogues receive talents for better feat qualification, feinting, teamwork feats and even the inquisitor's solo tactics. Beyond that, treating flanking allies as qualifying for teamwork feats is a neat advanced talent, while the rapscallion mini-archetype is better at psychological warfare and may sneak attack foes that are demoralized, etc. (go synergy with Dreads, for example...); the rapscallion loses evasion, though, so be cautious...



Speaking of inquisitors - these guys receive a new inquisition which allows them to use wis instead of int for the purposes of feat-prerequisites and now also receive the interrogator mini-archetype - think of interrogation specialists, medieval style, with fitting bonus spells. The true winner here, though, would be the cavalier: Not only does this poor, under-supported class receive a nice new order with the Order of the Dazzling Lotus - an order devoted to heroics, righteousness and one's country and also a master of seeking retribution and inflicting scathing tirades upon his foes. Now Braggarts are perhaps one of the most interesting archetypes I've seen in quite a while - so inflated is their ego, these guys do treat EVERY combat as a performance combat. This mechanic and its way of bringing performance combats and its effects into game are elegant and damn cool - kudos! The second archetype for the cavalier would be the challenger, an archetype that has essentially an antagonize-based variant of solo tactics- interesting as well, if not as iconic as the braggart. Both slayer and investigator are also covered in this new and enhanced version, receiving their very own tools of the trade. Kudos for going above and beyond with these additions!



A total of 9 (2 more than before) feats, each of which also comes with a second, mythic version, have been provided herein - combining maneuvers with antagonizing targets, ranged feinting,, using wild empathy for psychological warfare versus beasts. Especially interesting - the improved/greater variants of the maneuvers: Improved antagonize decreases the action-type it takes, while its greater variant allows you to plant a suggestion for a specific tactic in your foe's head. Generally, interesting and well-crafted feats. The two new ones help regain panache on natural 20s when using psychological combat and a new teamwork feat (alas, missing the descriptor) allows you to double-team foes with psychological pressure.



The final page offers a total of 7 new traits, 4 combat, 3 social - tying wis to intimidate instead of cha, better resistance versus taunts, using cha to determine your psychology-DC or better intimidation versus kids and animals - all there. And yes, I do like the fact that there's such a trait in here - after all, we all knew that *one* woman or man down the street we ALL were afraid of, since we knew they hated children...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is generally very good - I did not notice significant glitches that would have impeded my understanding of the rules presented herein. Layout adheres to a nice, beautiful and printer-friendly 2-column full-color standard with several neat pieces of original full color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Alexander Augunas is not a novice designer, and it shows - the explanation of the rules herein is pretty concise, easy to grasp and mathematically feasible. The new antagonize option is glorious and something that has been absent from games for too long. Additionally, the fixing of demoralize et al. was long overdue. Did you know that Alex founded Everyman Gaming specifically to publish this pdf? Well, let's say it shows. While the original psychological combat was nice, the streamlined morale system makes this pdf much, much better and to boot, we actually get more content as well!



This is the level of customer support that deserves true acknowledgement, especially for such a small press. You may recall that I loved the original psychological combat - I ADORE this revision. I'm not kidding when I'm saying that quite a few pdfs I've bought have seen so much immediate resonance at my table, so much use in such a short time. This is an unpretentious, humble pdf, one that may not sparkle and shine (though it *is* beautiful AND has plenty of original artwork!) in a glory-hounding way; Yes, some class options may not blow me away; BUT the streamlining of psychological combat, the new maneuver, the awesome traits, the added content - all of that make this pdf a TRUE GEM. You will hardly find any pdf in this exceedingly low price range that enhances your game as this gem does; Now, bereft of its one mayor flaw, psychological combat stands as a shining example of what small presses can do to enrich our game. This little pdf has managed thus to not only gain 5 stars + seal of approval and become a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014, it also receives immediate EZG Essential status as one of the basic pdfs I will henceforth require all my players in all my campaigns to have read. This is a true must-buy file.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psychological Combat
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Prestige Archetype: The Duelist
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 03:05:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Duelist receives d10, 2+int skills per level, full BAB-progression, good ref- and fort-saves and proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light armors and shields. While only lightly armored and wielding a manufactured weapon, the duelist adds up to class level Int-mod to AC and CMD and adds class level to damage when attacking with light or one-handed piercing weapons, but only against targets with discernible anatomies. Additionally, the prestige archetype receives weapon finesse at first level and dodge and bravery at 2nd.



At 3rd and 13th level, initiative increases by +2 respectively. At 3rd level, parry is gained - and well, it's different from what you imagined. The prestige archetype does not need to forego attacks to executes parry anymore, with the maximum number of parries per round now being governed by the total class levels of the prestige archetype, scaling up to 4 parries per round at 18th level. While the size-discrepancy penalties are still here, the mechanic still relies on competing attack rolls. Now as an interesting balance mechanic for AoOs, the duelist becomes staggered on the round following after executing one or more parries - which would be per se cool, were there no ring of ferocious actions, which allows you to negate that condition 5/day as a free action - for only 3000 GP. I'd advise DMs to disallow this item when using duelists. Another issue is that the class does not specify whether its parries can be used to prevent combat maneuvers - while logic dictates they can, the ability does not specify so. Personally, I am not a fan of d20 vs. d20 in Pathfinder, mainly due to the discrepancy and role of luck in the comparison of dice, but math-wise, as far as comparing rolls go, this still works, so no penalty rating-wise.



At 5th level, duelists may execute AoOs after successful parries and increased ref-saves, mobility, +int-mod AoOs per round (stacking with combat reflexes) -generally okay abilities. At high levels, AoOs versus any target who misses a defensively fighting/total defense-using duelist and AoOs versus withdrawing foes make for nice effects. At the highest levels, DR and additional, nasty effects for crits are added to the mix.



As always, we receive FCOs for core-races and a level 1, 5, 10 and 15 sample NPC-build.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The Duelist-PrC is one of those anachronisms from the beginning of PFRPG, indebted to what amounts to obsolete rules-philosophy and 3.X remnants and thus, I was looking forward to this prestige archetype. The Duelist as re-envisioned by Carl Cramér herein makes for an interesting take and should generally be considered solid - I am not a fan of the parry mechanics, but at least they are not the horribly broken mess that was the PrC's original parrying - no longer being useless due to the separation from losing attacks, the parry-feature as provided herein is pretty strong. I am not a big fan of roll vs. roll, but generally, the prestige archetype can be considered pretty solid in its mechanics and at least, the scaling of roll vs. roll in this case is well-implemented. I'd probably be much more enthusiastic, had Dreadfox Games not covered the dexterous, smart combatant infinitely more challenging and cool with the superb Swordmaster. In direct comparison, the new duelist, mostly due to the abysmal heritage it had to face, is just a pretty defensive class without truly stunning tricks to pull off - not bad, but also far away from blowing me away.

This is definitely an improvement over the rather sad original PrC, but it still falls quite short of what it could have easily been - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Duelist
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The Secrets of the Bravo (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2015 03:03:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



First of all, if you're not familiar with one particular quality I love about Rite Publishing books - they are a good read, mainly due to even crunch books like this being written in character, with a member of that class, race, etc. explaining the role while adventuring, characteristics etc. Now if you're a fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire", you'll immediately realize what to expect - whether braavosi water dancer or similar dashing swordsman, this is the class going for it. The bravo receives d10, full BAB-progression, good fort and ref-saves, 4+Int skills per level and proficiency with light armor + shields as well as simple and martial weapons. Some class features refer to bravo weapons, which are defined concisely as light or one-handed weapons not wielded in two hands. Only one weapon can be the designated bravo weapon at a given time. A Bravo begins play with Improved Feint and adds class level to Bluff checks when feinting, 1/2 class-level when using more than one weapon or shield. Alas, the ability fails to specify whether to round that up or down, though I assume down as a standard.

A bravo may also choose from one of 5 fighting techniques, receiving +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Fighting techniques have a passive and an active form. The passive form can be maintained for Intelligence modifier hours per day, used in hourly increments. While in passive form, the bravo receives an untyped +2 bonus to two skills associated with the fighting technique. The focused form, in contrast, may be maintained for 4+Intelligence modifier rounds, +2 per level attained. that should be *class* level Entering focused form is a swift action, dismissing it a free action. While in focused form, the bravo receives +2 to AC and to attacks with the bravo weapon. The focused form also nets the skill bonus and the +2 to, depending on the form, damage rolls, saving throws, combat maneuver bonus, critical confirmation rolls or "five times the bonus as in increase to base speed" - that's supposed to be "an", I guess. The bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, hence the slightly uncommon wording choice. At 15th level, bravos may enter fighting techniques as an immediate action - which is less awesome than it sounds, seeing the interaction between immediate and swift actions. At 19th level, a bravo blends the fighting techniques and counts as if under the effects of them all.



A bravo also adds his level to damage rolls with bravo weapons when his target is denied his dex-bonus to AC or when executing AoOs. Additionally, Bravos may add cha-mod as a dodge bonus to AC, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the bravo receives a bonus feat. Now the level 3 ability is pretty strong and kind of counter-intuitive -an enemy successfully fainted cannot make AoOs against the bravo and provokes an AoO from the bravo whenever performing an attack that does not include him. generally, a solid method of locking down a target on the bravo, drawing aggro, if you will.



At 4th level, a bravo receives élan equal to 1/2 level + cha-mod. These points may be spent to execute a feint as a swift action, move 1/4 movement as a free action before using a standard action to execute an attack "in the manner of a charge" - per se a cool idea, but does it count as a charge? Or as a regular attack? As an immediate action, the bravo can retroactively add half his bravo level as a luck bonus to ANY check (but not atk or dmg rolls) or add 1/2 his level as a dodge bonus to AC versus a single attack. Alternatively, he may execute, as a free action once per round, an AOO against a foe that has just missed him, not counting towards the daily limit. The pool should probably specify that it replenishes itself after 8 hours of rest, but that's a nitpick.



As a standard action, bravos of 6th level may roll twice when attacking, taking the better result or even execute two feints at once, while 7th level bravos may execute debilitating strikes - these prompt a save and for 1 point of élan, depending on the fighting technique, the enemy receives a penalty that spans the gamut from "cannot perform attacks of opportunity" to "shaken". When not in a form, the bravo may instead choose two points attribute damage.



At 8th level, bravos can use élan to NOT PROVOKE ANY AOOS for one round. Yeah, not gonna happen in my game. I can come up with so many ways of breaking this to smithereens, it's not even funny. Compared to that, performing a move action as an immediate action and executing a combat maneuver as an AoO may seem less impressive: Especially since you can already perform combat maneuvers as AoOs. Yeah. This does NOTHING. Pretty weird - the 6th level double feint gets upgraded to triple (including triple attack roll option) as part of that ability, but at 11th level - not sure whether this is a formatting glitch, but I think it should have its own entry and just specify that it costs 1 élan...or does it? The 4-roll/feint 16th level ability does not cost élan, making me doubt this...



At 12th level, bravos treat their crit modifier of x2 weapons as x3 and threat ranges of 20 as 19-20...so what happens with bravos who actually have better threat ranges/modifiers? A class like this screams crit-fisher to me, why not properly codify that via the proper wording? Chances are, this one does nothing.



As a capstone, the bravo may freely spend 1 élan per round without decreasing his pool. The class receives feats for + 2 élan or +6 rounds focused fighting.



Then, we get to a kind of bonus content, with 5 additional fighting techniques - these adhere to a superior, more easy to read format that does not spread the benefits into tables and abilities, making me wonder why the whole pdf did not adhere to this standard. Alas, we have minor glitches here as well - the horse techniques' fighting style's passive form, for example, reduces ability damage by poison by 2 points, +1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter - is that total attribute damage or per failed save? Also: What about poisons that inflict drain instead? Rare, I know, but still.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not on par with Rite Publishing's usually high level of quality control - there are a lot of instances of e.g. no capital letters after colons, missing bolding in feats and even, probably, a formatting glitch for the triple-feint that may impede gameplay. Yeah, not cool. Layout adheres to RiP's nice two-column full color standard and the pdf comes with nice, thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



This is the first supplement by author Ciaran Barnes I've read and it does show promise - generally, the bravo as a take on duelist-type characters works pretty well; better, at least, than the by now terrible anachronism that is the Duelist PrC. That being said, the class also feels a bit simplistic in its basic tricks, with the advanced techniques (and their better formatting) showing an improved grasp on how rules can be presented. The issues of the bravo can be summed up in the way in which the fighting techniques are presented - by forcing them into brief tables, proper wording has no space and potential ambiguities arise. The option to eliminate ALL AoOs temporarily is insanely strong and should be codified in numerical bonuses. Bonus types are often untyped, but I figure that's mostly by design. Now unlike many classes with wording issues, the bravo is a functional class and a solid take on a duelist, especially for relatively new players - the class is easy to grasp and should not over-exert any player's capabilities to understand it. On the other hand, the designer's relative inexperience does show - from the classic "class level"-glitch that makes dipping very powerful to some errors in the finer rules-interactions, the bravo feels a bit like the designer has slightly botched in the details.



Don't get me wrong, this class can be fun, especially for players who consider Dreadfox Games' superb Swordmaster (still the best duelist/dex-based combatant out there...) too complex, but between wording issues, editing glitches and minor balance-concerns, I can't praise this pdf as highly as some of the rules components would warrant - I will most definitely convert some of the parrying/defense mechanisms. Still, this pdf ultimately is flawed to the point where I'd usually rate it down pretty harshly. Seeing that this is a freshman offering, its low price, nice prose and neat ideas, my final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rated up by a tight margin to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Bravo (PFRPG)
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Mythic Magic: Ultimate Spells II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2015 04:41:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this would be the fourth installment of Mythic Magic, and, like its predecessors, it tackles one of Paizo's big books and provides mythic versions of all spells not covered in the original Mythic Adventures hardcover - ALL OF THEM. This time around, Ultimate Magic is covered. Now I'm not a fan of the base book. I think that it introduced a lot of power creep and some not so awesome design decisions, but that's for another rant - I love its magus and for the purpose of this review, I'm going to ignore all of that and instead only and exclusively focus on the way in which the spells therein were advanced to mythic levels. Got that? Awesome.



So, as always, we kick off with a massive alphabetical list of the spells herein before diving into the meat of the matter - more mythic spells! As you may be aware, numerical escalations, while part of mythic design, are not necessarily what impresses me, neither does adding conditions - like in the acid spray-spell. However, the spell turns interesting immediately upon the realization that it also duplicates a hydraulic torrent-like crowd-control effect, adding a new tactical component to the spell. Now don't get me wrong - mythic tier bonuses and e.g. new senses (like your choice of darkvision, low-light vision scent, etc.) are solid craftsmanship - but when I can e.g. dismiss my bard's mythic allegro to reroll a ref-save or dex-check, I consider that much more interesting.



If you enjoy using your magic to make anthropomorphic animals, you'll probably also like the option to add in weapon/armor-proficiencies from the get go, but optionally channeling energy via bestow grace of the champion just is more interesting, especially when combined with the mythic power based optional modifications of the spell's numeric parameters. Anti-stealth nettles or blood mist that may be used to detect invisible targets? Heck yeah, why not, especially since their secondary effects thankfully keep them distinct from one another. On the extremely nitpicky end of the spectrum - I love the idea of implanting a suggestion in a construct as part of control construct, but per default, the monster type is immune to mind-influencing effects - while it is clear that the spell is supposed to represent an exception to the rule, the issue remains and should have called for an explicit exception to the rule.



I'd also like to applaud those mythic spells that offer an interesting "insult to injury"-trick - like corrosive consumption, which can, via mythic power, be targeted at once at a creature AND one of its possessions. Making curses hereditary is also a neat option, though I personally prefer legendary curses as pioneered by Rite Publishing for powerful, odd curses, but your mileage may vary - nothing bad about the simple solution presented herein for mayor curses. Now on the plus-side regarding these curses, generating multiple possible triggers for the curse of disgust makes for a more varied and versatile cast - and a more interesting roleplaying device - just contemplate the PCs escorting someone subject to such a curse, with no idea of the potential triggers... Adding a disease to eruptive pustules is downright sadistic and right up my alley, though I wish the spell had included a way to choose the disease by expending mythic power dependent on the disease's severity. Now haunting mists potential for vastly expanded AoE combined with its wis-seeping properties has some massive narrative potential - even though, perhaps that's just the Ravenloft-DM chuckling in me. :)

(No, seriously - mists...roll saves behind screen...have everyone turn undead...PCs kill everyone...effects subside...PCs have massacred xyz, need redemption...if I hadn't pulled that move before, I'd quite probably do it now.)



On the interesting side of things, this time around we can find synergy-effects with spellblights herein alongside environmental-protection interplanetary travel - so your PCs don't die immediately upon jumping to the wrong planet... The mythic Greater Interrogation enables your PC to utilize progressively worse fear upon those unwilling to cooperate until their fear makes lying impossible - provided they are not too frightened to articulate anything... Action economy wise, casting lend judgment as part of initiating a judgment makes for a cool option, especially since you can maintain another judgment than that you have temporarily outsourced to your ally. The greater version is even more brutal - it nets ALL judgments. Yeah. Ouch. Speaking of ouch - Polar Midnight: Three steps decreased lighting conditions, cold damage sans save to negate, dex-drain that can be decreased to only 1 AND icy prison minus air to breathe for anyone who doesn't move. Yeah...that may be a bit much, even for high level mythic magic.



On the iconic side, using mythic primal scream as an immediate action to cancel paralysis and enchantments makes for some flexibility and tactical depth and modifying the size of simulacra also is something I liked to see. Mythic shadowbards can execute outro-style spells that end bardic performances for you and skinsend's mythic upgrade helps render the skin-form more unique in its defensive capabilities. Beyond a spellblight addition, mythic power can now be used to power steal voice fully, as it ought to be - remember Ariel, the little mermaid? Yeah, NOT fun to be mute, especially if the thief can use your voice for all kinds of shenanigans ... That#s the level of awesome I love!



Summons can generally be upgraded via mythic simple templates for solid additional tricks, as are unholy walls of ice and I like the synergy of unholy sword interacting with fiendish boon. Virtuoso performance allows bards, via augment, to potentially maintain 3 (!!!) bardic performances simultaneously. Free action shifts of witness? Now this is investigation gold and something your PCs will love if they tend to favor complex plans and operations as much as mine do!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are almost top-notch, I noticed so significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard with most of the artworks being familiar to legendary Games-fans. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with teh spell-list by class oddly at the bottom of the bookmarks and a couple of them listed again after the alphabetical list - since this does not impede the use of the existing bookmarks, no issue. The pdf comes with excessive hyperlinks, though they are not always uniform, with e.g. some spellblights hyperlinked while others aren't - still, generally, a user-friendly, massive book.



All right, I'll just come out and say it - Jason Nelson simply didn't have as much to work with in this book as in Advanced Spells I or Ultimate Spells I - this is not due to incapability by the designer, but rather due to Ultimate Magic simply not doing much that can be considered interesting with its spells - less interesting utility/terrain-control options than in the APG, no concept like e.g. communal spells as in UC to work with. Considering that UM's spells inho more often than not focus on numerical escalation, the amount of variety provided herein is surprising. That being said, the general enhancements provided do, by necessity, more often than in the spells since the first mythic magic, depend on relatively linear progressions of existing capabilities - there's nothing wrong with that, but as a result, I was not utterly blow away by this book - at least not to the extent as its predecessor. That being said, the pdf sports less glitches than the first Ultimate Spells book.



My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - with one caveat: If your mythic campaign uses Ultimate Magic, this can be considered a must-buy supplement that closes a vast rules-gap.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Ultimate Spells II
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Prestige Archetype: The Shadowdancer
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/06/2015 04:40:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



Shadowdancers as a 20-level class receive d8, 6+Int skills, 3/4 BAB-progression, good ref-saves , proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, rapier, shortbow, short sword, sap and light armor. They also begin play with sneak attack and increase sneak output by +1d6 every odd level to a maximum of +10d6 at 19th level. Shadowdancers receive trapfinding, evasion - the deal, and hide in plain sight at 2nd level. Yeah. Second. Level. While it requires 5 ft proximity to shadows, 10 ft. starting 5th level, that is VERY soon. If you play stealth by the book, that may be too soon - around 5th level makes for a better place for an ability this powerful, especially since it's not the terrain-based rogue variant, but rather the one that only requires shadows..

The base-class receives dodge at 4th level (yay?) as well as evasion, darkvision at 6th and mobility and improved uncanny dodge at 8th level (again, yay for mobility...).



At 10th level, the class becomes interesting, receiving a shadow pool equal to cha-mod (min 1) + 1 per level beyond 10. These points can be used to use silent image as a spell-like ability and every even level, a SPELL is added, with diverging point costs - while I *assume* that ought to be spell-like abilities, the pdf calls all but the first SPELLS - a massive glitch. Slippery Mind is as expected and the option to combine shadow step with stealth is a nice trick, especially since it's upgraded further later on. The capstone is essentially an apotheosis and yes, the iconic defensive roll is gained appropriately late, at 18th level.



The pdf provides FCOs for the core races and sample NPC-builds at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The shadowdancer is a weird class in that I always liked its flavor, but never the execution - it always felt subpar, bland - and the more sneak-themed shadow dancer herein is probably the better class, in spite of its minor rules hick-ups - the problem is, though, that by now both Rogue Genius Games' Shadow Assassin and Interjection Games' Edgewalker simply make for the more versatile, more unique executions of the concept.

Now don't get me wrong, Carl Cramér has done a neat job with what he had and I'll review this pdf under these circumstances, but the late auto-gains of weak feats, the ridiculously fast hide in plain sight, the flawed shadow pool - all of these conspire to somewhat drag this down. This is by far not bad, but neither is it awesome. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Shadowdancer
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Shadows over Vathak: Colonies - Game Master's Guide
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:39:27
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM's Guide clock in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Analogue to the Player's Guide, the DM's Guide begins with hand-out-level detailed parchments providing an aptly-written in-character introduction to the matter at hand and provide a solid example of the threat suffusing the setting - and then, we dive into the respective local material. From the get-go, one realizes one thing - the crew of Fat Goblin Games obviously realized what ought to be in the GM's guide - where the player's guide sported tantalizing hints and general information on towns, the GM's guide provides full-blown settlement statblocks. On a extremely nitpicky side, I'm not a fan of round numbers for the demographics listed for the various cities; I prefer exact numbers over general notions of population, but I'm aware that this is just me being exceedingly anal-retentive and hence will not influence the final verdict. No less than 10 settlements are provided - nice! But that's not where the pdf stops - from eerie forests to cyclopean statues, quite a few local sights are provided for the DM to be inspired by and/or expand upon.



And then, immediately, the supplement turns into one downright inspiring read by providing a selection of fluff-only NPC-write-ups - and oh boy, are they AWESOME. Want examples? From shrewd politicians to cult leaders unwittingly under the control of Mi-Go to insane vampire alchemists, dhampir pseudo-monasteries seeking to teach about controlling bloodlust to twisted serial killers and beyond, these NPC-write-ups are glorious! Beyond them, we also are introduced to the local factions. From the ancient vampiric bloodlines to the werewolf packs roaming the land on to the enigmatic Church of the Unspeakable Masses and the mysterious Many Masks, quite a significant array of cool, inspiring information is given.



But that does not necessarily provide the DM with the tools to properly depict life in the colonies and that's exactly where the pdf goes next - from general information to local holidays that OOZE flavor and yes, even common phrases that have their own significance, the material can be considered downright glorious - mainly due to, for the first time, managing to provide a concise, believable vista of what life in a dread realm like Vathak would be like - without devolving into grimdark splatter-fests, instead focusing on more subtle hints and hooks. Now speaking of locations - here, the guide just becomes more awesome - a number of locations are provided alongside DCs to gather information about them. HOWEVER, unlike *every* similar entry I've read, the information provided is just as extensive for those failing the check as for those succeeding in it, rendering the whole experience awesome. Yes, you will want to roll these checks yourself as a DM and the wealth of information provided for either way ensures that proper story-telling will continue either way. Two thumbs up! Better, further information to be unearthed via non-specified means (PCs asking allies etc.) also reaches that level of detail, allowing DMs to easily craft a rather detailed panorama/adventure via these pieces of information provided.



Speaking of the DM - Vathak has suffered in the past from a lack of focus - does it want to be gothic horror, cosmic horror or survival horror - while it supported all playstyles, its identity suffered and hence, the extensive pieces of advice provided for either playstyle and what to consider when running them should be useful for DMs. Speaking of variance - one of the things that annoyed me with the default vampires (and indeed, even with the expanded rules provided by Paizo) would be a lack of variables - we receive herein more than 3 pages of content providing alternate defenses and weaknesses, rules for more powerful, elder vampires etc. - a nice little toolkit, though honestly one I'd have loved to be expanded into a full-blown mega-template book. But that's just the Ravenloft-spoiled DM speaking who made 21 unique bloodlines (not the sorceror class feature) for vampires for his home game.



We also receive two new monsters, each with their own, glorious artwork - the worm/wolf hybrdi Volworms and the bloodsucking vamplings - I didn't do the math, but at first glance, I noticed no glitches in the statblocks - kudos!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting this time around are VERY good - I noticed no significant glitches or issues. Layout adheres to Vathak's two-column full-color standard with glorious full-color original artworks - this book is drop dead gorgeous to look at. Alas, oddly, the pdf lacks any bookmarks, making navigation slightly less comfortable than it ought to be.



If you've been following my reviews, you'll probably know that my first love as a campaign setting will always be Ravenloft. I adore the setting, its content and lore and have managed to track down each and every product for it. It is with the utmost respect I thus say the following - this is the best land/region-sourcebook I've read for any horror-themed/setting are since the legendary series of Doomsday Gazetteers by Arthaus or the superb free work by the Fraternity of Shadows. Author John Bennett finally manages to provide a distinct, concise voice for Vathak, one that gets what makes the respective modes of horror tick and work. Even if you are not using Vathak, this supplement can be considered an inspiring and fun read for DMs - its prose is vivid and fluent, its ideas diverse and whether its Carrion Crown, Ravenloft or any other horror-themed setting -you'll probably get some awesome ideas out of this - the information can easily be extracted. That being said, this supplement, more so than the massive campaign setting, manages to generate a proper identity for Vathak. Add to that the nice vampiric expansion material and neat bonus critters and I arrive at a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the missing bookmarks. If that is the level of quality we can now expect from Vathak-supplements, consider me utterly hyped!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Colonies - Game Master's Guide
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Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:35:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the advanced races-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So...shadow fey. I was not pleasantly surprised to see this book hit shelves, mainly due to *LOVING* shadow fey to death. "Courts of the Shadow Fey" is one of my favorite adventures...ever. And we all remember what a certain good drow ranger did to the beloved and fierce dark elves. So let's take a look and see whether this book offering shadow fey as a player-race ruins their appeal or manages to maintain it!



First of all, the write-up surprised me with one particularly smart decision - emphasizing the variety among shadow fey, thus denoting that they do not form a uniform species. Secondly, their mindset is pretty well explained, thus rendering actually portraying them as PCs easier. Oh, and quoting La Belle Dame Sans Merci? NICE!



The scáthesidhe receive +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Con, are of the fey type, light sensitive, receive +2 to stealth and always treat stealth and bluff as a class skill, can cast shadow jump as a spell-like ability once per day and reduce the penalties incurred for movement by 5 and for sniping by 10, making them born ambushers. If using the status-rules from the Midgard CS (nice to *finally* see these get some love!), they receive +2 status, more or less if belonging to a certain class. Very cool! There also are small shadow fey with a base movement rate of 20 ft. that also receive 1/day vanish as a spell-like ability.



The alternate racial traits cover a bite (getting primary/secondary natural weapons right!), poison affinity + detect poison, increased DC for shadow subschool spells and shadow-themed low level SPs, a hypnotic skin or dual resistances. Elfmarked descendant from the shadow fey may shadow jump and receive darkvision 60 ft.



We also receive FCOs for Battle Scion, Magus, Shadowsworn, Sorc, Summoner (with a minor typo - the "/" of DR in the wrong place) and the Theurge - nice to see some love for these KP-classes!



Now the comprehensive introduction to the Winter and Summer Courts and the very iconic factions thereof constitute another neat piece of fluff - particularly delving into the shadow fey's elitism and status-obsession making for nice, informative reading material. The take of the shadow fey on both Paizo and Kobold Press-classes is nice to see as well.



Now the copious traits delivered deserve special mention as well - first of all, they properly specify their trait-bonus-type, something many traits forget. Secondly, some of them are just damn cool - from ignoring status penalty to better moonlight tracking, they can be considered well-crafted and generally balanced.



A total of 11 feats are provided, some of which make use of status-mechanics, which is neat to see. Alas, not all feats can be considered well-crafted - Concealed Shot, which allows you to execute a surprise attack with a hand crossbow, while flavorful, utilizes an annoying per-encounter mechanic. Yeah, by now you know the rant by hard. Per-encounter abilities make no sense whatsoever. Next. Gaining DR 2/Cold iron (upgradeable to 5) is pretty cool and balanced via getting sickened on contact - NO SAVE. Now, while generally, I consider feats like Flicker boring (+1 to AC - yawn!), at least the bonus as racial is pretty uncommon - and it allows 9th level shadow fey to gain access to hide in plain sight via a follow-up feat, so that's a cool synergy. Full movement while using stealth for 7th+ level shadow fey is also part of the deal.



We also receive the new Order of the Swan for cavaliers to represent the rakish fey knights, a new familiar option, 3 shadowsworn talents (all of which are solid - mirror image, blinding and PINNING A SHADOW TO THE GROUND - nice, the authors know their mythology or have read the superb Van Richten's Guide to the Shadow Fey of Ravenloft, unrelated to KP's Shadow Fey...)



Wild-blooded sorcerors can take the shadow fey bloodline - which is solid. The Dread Hunter cavalier receives a powerful mount that advances as a cohort and utilizes stealth synergy with the mount - pretty cool. However, with potentially a shadavar or nightmare mount at level one, the archetype throws any semblance of balance out the window. It should also be noted that Dread Rider, which nets 1/2 level bonus to intimidate while mounted should probably specify it refers to CLASS levels; Additionally, the hunter may emit a debuff scream - which is nice, but the ability should probably be a language-dependent mind-affecting effect. The capstone upgrades the scream to confusion -per se a conceptually nice archetype with some minor flaws in the execution - and in need of a nerf-bat beating for the mount at low levels - otherwise the nightmare outclasses half the adventuring group and anyone who's seen a cavalier with a horse (which is NOT intelligent and needs to be commanded via tricks!) can get a good idea why this needs nerfing. The second archetype is the twilight envoy for the shadowsworn, who receives bardic spellcasting, trapfinding and access to the last-second save "Walking the Shadow Roads"-incantation - generally a cool variant on the shadowsworn.



We also receive 5 new spells, with 3 being chimeric transpositions that allow you to exchange special monster abilities and senses - weird, disturbing, cool. Black Swan Storm conjures forth a deadly storm of black feathers...and is pretty strong. As a 3rd level spell, it deals 1d8 per CL (max 10d8) and also decreases the illumination level around the target, granting concealment to the immediate vicinity - rather interesting and since it only affects one creature, nice. Shadow Jump, in case you're not familiar with it, represents low-level, short-distance shadow to shadow teleportation.



Beyond that, arrows that cause bleeding damage, balance-enhancing feather cloaks and shrouds for shadow fey prisoners make for cool items.



We also receive new creatures . the Razor Swan (with breath attack, sharp wings and a swan song - cool!), teh shadavar mounts and the owl-like stryx - which have human teeth in their beaks. Alas, I noticed some minor glitches in the statblocks. E.g. the razor swan's attack should be +6, not +5 (+3 magical beast, + 3 dex via weapon finesse) etc. nothing game-breaking, but still, slightly annoying.



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are pretty good: On a formal level, excellent, on a rules-level there are some minor glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original artwork is neat.



Author-duo Carlos and Holly Ovalle have crafted an installment of the Advanced Races-series that made me groan when I saw it at first, only to have my negative bias dissolved for the most part. Power-level wise on a solid level akin to the plane-touched races, the shadow fey will not break a game. They manage to maintain their glorious fluff and thankfully, the authors *get* what makes them cool and enigmatic. Now while personally, I prefer the race as a DM-only race, the crunch provided herein, the information for players - all of that is pretty solid and makes playing these guys work well in the context of an adventuring group. Now that is quite a feat in my book! In fact, I was truly excited to see this level of detail and coolness, interesting rules-ideas etc. - this ranks as one of the strongest Advanced Races-installments. That being said, the supplement does sport some minor glitches and the cavalier archetype is in serious need of some nerfing to prevent the mount from being an utter show-stealer at low levels. Still, this constitutes a solid installment and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to these shadow fey not deserving a 3-star rating - the pdf is simply too inspired for that.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Races 11: Shadow Fey (Pathfinder RPG)
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Shadows over Vathak: Colonies - Player's Guide
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:33:21
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive player's guide clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Withered parchment, with half-concealed pencil drawings in the back, a small splotch of blood at the bottom right corner of the page - there's a reason layout designer and artist Rick Hershey is as prolific and well-regarded as he is. From the very get-go, you'll realize one thing - this book is beautiful. I own all Ravenloft supplements ever released and have a vast collection of horror-themed books beyond that. This ranks among the most beautiful - but that's one factor Fat Goblin Games always managed to pull off, so let's see whether taking John Bennett on board has helped the writing and crunch to keep a consistent quality - the intro-narrative on the parchments does make one hope for the best.



The very first thing you'll notice, would be emphasizing the peculiarities of the Vathak campaign setting and acknowledging a basic issue of the campaign setting - in its diversity, it, at least in my book, stretched itself too conceptually thin. Let me elaborate - Vathak can be seen as a kind of ravenloftish world meets colonialism meets full-blown warfare against the Old Ones. The lands have been conquered and colonized by foreigners following the pr se benevolent One True God (who suffers from a majority of corruption among the followers); before this backdrop of vanquished vampire lords, the warfare against the Old Ones is a pretty open secret in the world of Vathak, making it quite grim. Now this player guide acknowledges the potential disparity of playstyles, from psychological horror to full blown horror hack-'n'-slash and takes note, advocating communication - moreover, it de-emphasizes a black and white ideology thoroughly unsuited for horror gameplay and emphasizes shades of gray morality. Moreover, the pdf provides questions to guide players to flesh out their characters with regards to the colonies as a region and their mindset, providing a first, immersing guideline that does help make the setting feel much more concise.



Now, like any *good* player's guide, this one does sport several short entries of local towns and forests, all with legends and the like, without spoiling the truth behind the tantalizing and often rather unsettling tales. John Bennett's experience also shines through by providing a staple from Raging Swan Press - whispers and rumors of the respective environments, which can either be considered adventure hooks or just local color for the PCs to use to provide some in-game pertaining knowledge - nice.



We also receive traits that range from slight damage bonuses to easier stabilization, belief in elder gods, a remnant of necromantic bloodline that nets temporary hit points per cast to a scholarly (or rich) relative you can contact for money or to do your research for you - the traits succeed in one way: They are, unlike many traits, NOT boring. However, at the same time, their editing is not that tight - while universally conceptually cool, they have some minor (and I mean minor) issues - aforementioned necromantic bloodline grants you 1 temporary hit point whenever you cast a necromantic spell, unfortunately extending to the infinitely available cantrips. Will this break your game? No. But it's slightly less elegant that I like it to be. More annoying is the fact that not a single trait specifies its bonus type - it's supposed to be a trait bonus, every time, not just a "+1"or a "+1 bonus." This does not break the section, but it's an easily avoidable issue that may come around at later levels to bite one in the behind.



We also receive 9 new feats. The feats here range from mechanically interesting to dull/problematic - I generally like the idea to quick draw light weapons for a +4 shield bonus; Alas, the feat does not specify what action it takes, only that it's "Once per round" - this should probably be an immediate action. Then again, executing an AoO to a target who has attacked and missed you after you activating this defense makes for a nice parry-mechanic. Would you take a feat for +1 to atk, damage and survival versus lycanthropes and skinchangers? No? Boring? Yeah, I think so too. I mentioned "slightly problematic" before - adding a second attribute modifier to a skill can imho always be gamed, especially at lower levels, and +int-mod to BLUFF becomes somewhat problematic at lower levels; Remember, bluff also governs feint! This probably is not the intent of the feat, but the lack of closer restriction renders this use possible. Not a fan. A feat that allows you to gain a kind of information network for gather information via diplomacy would be pretty useful, especially in the context of Vathak. Staggering channel is imho broken, depending on the amount of undead you intend to use + channel dice rounds stagger for +2 channel energy uses is a pretty nasty save or suck for undead. Adding bleed damage to spells via metamagic is pretty cool, though the feat's wording could use a slight polish - " Whenever you cast a spell that causes damage, any creatures that take damage from the spell..." does not conform to how metamagic feat wording usually works and is slightly confusing, as it insinuates that the feat is applied to all spells. Now note that this feat is fully functional; this is just me being very nitpicky and no, I will not punish the pdf for this wording-wise..



Okay, so next up would be Lineage feats - what are these, you ask? Well, essentially they are a take on the horror trope of a sinister legacy your character may have - you know, the idea of tainted blood and the lure of its power that may turn you into the very monster you're seeking to defeat. Thus, they come with drawbacks that are hard to resist and LP-costs that represent one of 3 general stages of influence exerted over the character - and yes, they may prompt saves. The way to track the influence is via a Lineage Point score. Let's just say this: The concept is NARRATIVE GOLD. This is essentially one of the best takes on Ravenloft-like dark powers I've seen in ages and I *really* hope Fat Goblin Games will continue to expand the concept - two thumbs up, especially for horror games! Herein, a werewolf-themed lineage is provided and while I could begin nitpicking here as well, that's not my task and the concept overrides that voice in my head easily with the glorious fluff.



Speaking of which - the new items are awesome in their flavor and fluff: From hidden blade straps to odd roots, the items are damn cool, though the lack of proper bonus type codification once again has me gnash my teeth slightly. Want an example of a cool item? What about balls that contain silvery mist that potentially sickens creatures vulnerable to silver? Yeah, damn cool.



The magic items provided should also fit perfectly within any horror-themed game - from a mask that nets you a vampiric bite attack to a hide armor to transform into a wolf, the items and the new special weapon ability are nice - though e.g. not all spells have been properly italicized. Now I've been exceedingly nitpicky in this review so far, but it is my joy to pronounce that the new spell-section is pretty awesome - from better tumbling due to the protection granted by mirror image-like duplicates to turning into angry swarms of bats or conjuring instantaneous swarms that deal damage and vanish, this section conjures awesome imagery. As a special treat, we receive one glorious incantation to make all creatures in the AoE into animals - absolutely awesome in its details and fluff.



The pdf also provides archetypes, the first of which would be the many-masked rogue - masters of disguise and vanishing in the crowds, also tied to a neat organization. The advice provided for players and DMs also help make this one distinct. The wrathful hunter ranger is interesting in that it may forgo gaining additional favored enemies in lieu of a couple of different options for an array of solid options - not particularly awesome, but okay and solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting per se is rather nice, though the rules-language editing could have used another go. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard...and this book is one of the most beautiful I've read by any 3pp, on par with LPJr Design's books. Yeah, that beautiful. The original pieces of full color artwork have their own, distinct and awesome style, rendering this book VERY beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



John Bennett is one of my favorite authors regarding the genre of horror - he just *knows* how to properly weave a great tale. He can be considered a story-teller and yarn-weaver and for the first time, Vathak really came alive from the pages while reading this. The negotiation of the disparate elements have been subsumed under one cohesive, compelling narrative voice that provides a cool array of options. That being said, there are two components of being a game designer - the fluff and the crunch. John's talent in crafting superb prose suffuses this book and makes it a good read indeed and yes, the high-concept approach extends to the crunch.



Crunch-writing, alas, is less of an art form than fluff, more of a kind of craft. And it is here one sees that John Bennett lacks experience in that arena - from the universally absent clarification of bonus-types (crucial to stacking) to slight wording ambiguities and minor design issues with e.g. the feats, the execution of these falls behind the promise of the superb prose. Add to that missing italicization for spells and you get the idea - essentially, this one suffers from a bunch of beginner's mistakes. I'm confident they will be absent from future guides.



All in all, this is a nice player's guide with some pretty cool ideas - the lineage feats are one glorious concept (which, not so coincidentally, can easily be mixed with Zombie Sky Press' symbiote-rules from "It came from the Stars") and the prose is extremely captivating. More than that, though, this guide made Vathak feel more like a whole, less like a disjointed tangle of ideas, than ever before. The writing is great, and while not yet perfect, this book sees me in very high hopes indeed for the future of the Vathak-setting. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - this is an inspiring read and one of those supplements that make you immediately want to play in a setting, in spite of its minor blunders in the crunch-department.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Colonies - Player's Guide
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Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Hunter
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2014 17:30:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The eldritch hunter base class receives d8, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, proficiency with light and medium armors, shields and simple and martial weapons, but still incurs spell failure. They receive 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and spontaneous cha-based spellcasting of up to 9th level. However, unlike a full spellcaster, their daily allotment of spells is diminished when compared to the sorceror to pay for the increased martial prowess. They also receive access to a sorceror's bloodline at 1st level - here, the ACG's release makes clarification necessary imho - bloodrager bloodlines may make the overall deal of this class a tad bit too good. That being said, I can't fault the pdf for that, seeing it's been released before the ACG. Bloodline spells are granted at a modified rate, though - the first being granted at 4th level, with every even level thereafter providing a bloodline spell of +1 level. Bloodline power progression is maintained at the usual levels, as is arcana.



Additionally, the eldritch hunter also chooses a combat style at second level and pursues this style via bonus feats every 3 levels thereafter. At 13th level, the class receives spell critical, which, alas, needs a caveat - as written, following up a crit with a swift action-cast may be nice, but there ought to be a maximum casting time restriction here to prevent the use of long casting duration spells in the conjunction with the ability. Finally, at 19th level, the class has ranger spells added.



The class also receives FCO's - these are generally okay, though the dwarven one is extremely specific, only applying to acid/earth spells that deal attribute damage. Good luck getting something out of this one.



The pdf also provides sample NPC builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



The eldritch Hunter is an interesting case - once again, the base PrC is obsolete by all means of the word and not particularly...let's say...well-crafted. The restriction regarding armor and spell failure is a massive detriment for the class and somewhat counteracts the immense benefits it reaps with full spellcasting. Now the progression itself is pretty linear and much of my gripes about the Eldritch knight also hold true here - however, unlike the eldritch knight, the eldritch hunter has by now been changed in its baseline by the very concept of bloodrager-specific bloodlines - which should imho be addressed. Other than that, the general class idea can be considered pretty well-designed - Carl Cramér's decision to delay massive spellcasting and hand slowly hand out the slots should make sure that the class steals neither the ranger's, nor the sorc's thunder. Spell Critical, as provided, is broken.

That being said, the bloodline issue somewhat makes this one imho a tad bit problematic; And yes, I'm aware of the specific "sorceror bloodline caveat here"; -still, that would have been a potential option to make this class more unique - my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Hunter
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Ultimate Ethermagic
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2014 05:47:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 91 pages of content, so let's...wait. First, here's my



DISCLAIMER: I have a history with ethermagic. When Bradley Crouch first made the ethermancer, I was skeptical - another warlock-style "blast all day"-class? Urgh. In my experience, they boiled down to inflexible blasters that at the same time made logic for the very existence of bows et al. tenuous at best, were utterly OP OR resulted in plain boring gameplay. Upon diving into the class, I realized two things - a), it is a complex class indeed and b), I'd have to playtest it to properly judge it. And oh boy, did it playtest well! One of my players fell totally in love with the class and wrote an optimization guide for it. The only reason I did not completely gush about it was the existence of quite a few options that did not make much sense for the ethermancer. Fast forward to the Strange Magic Kickstarter, of which this is the first release. At this point, I had seen half a year of ethermancer in action in my main campaign and started tinkering with the system to expand it. When Bradley asked me to join the KS as a guest author alongside Jason Linker, I jumped the chance. I feel obliged to mention that I was compensated for my work on this book. However, there are significant bunches of content I had no hand in whatsoever. Additionally, I have before criticized products I contributed to and thus, will do my best to analyze, break, etc. this system, just like in all my other reviews. I felt obliged to mention this and should you consider my involvement a conflict of interest, feel free to tell me so - I am confident, however, that analysis of this book will suffice to prove the validity of the points I make in this review.



All right, that out of the way, let's dive in! If you are familiar with the basic ethermancer, you'll be surprised to see that the first class herein is NOT the old one, but rather Jason Linker's Ethermagus. But before I jump into the meat of the 3 classes, let me explain how ethermagic works, all right?



Ethermagic can be explained as pricking a whole into the fabric of reality, channeling the very stuff that separates planes and realities in a unique manner - the ability to channel this power is measured in etherpoints, or EP - so far, so common. However, unlike many similar resources, EP regenerate each round, depending on the formula of the respective base class. The EP regeneration rate is also featured for convenience's sake in the respective class-feature-tables. Ethermagic is generally treated as evocation magic and tight rules for counterspelling ethermagic are provided - though regular caster should be advised not to try to outcast an ethercaster. Additionally, much like spells, manifestations are grouped by level - the higher your level, the higher the level of manifestation you may learn. Wait, what? Manifestations? Well, yes. Etherspells have two components - the etherheart and the manifestations applied to it. Etherhearts are gained at specific levels in the class progression and allow the respective class to do different things - think about them as a chassis, to which manifestations can be applied. To use a manifestation, an ether-using class needs to have at least a cha of 10+manifestation-level and the save DC is 10+highest manifestation level used + charisma modifier, analogue to spells. However, not all etherhearts become available to all classes. Let me give you a run-down:



The most basic of etherhearts would be the lesser blasts - these have a close range and constitute touch attack rays that deal 1d3+cha-mod bludgeoning damage, +1d3 for every caster level beyond 1st for the ethermancer. Ethermagi and etherslingers have significantly less scaling at 1/2 and 1/4 class level respectively. Up to 3 manifestations can be applied to them and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



Greater blasts, exclusively available to the ethermancer, have the same range, but deal 1d10+cha-mod damage, +1d10 for every 2 caster levels beyond the first. Like its lesser brother, a total of 3 manifestations can be added and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



A further, pretty basic etherheart available to all ethermagic users would be the alteration etherheart - this can be considered the utility/defense etherheart with a range of personal and a duration of 1 min/level. Duration deserves special mention here - with the exception of one etherheart, etherspells cannot be dismissed. Additionally, alterations can be modified by exactly one manifestation and only one alteration can be in effect at a given time.



The Bestow etherheart would in effect be similar to the alteration etherheart in that it sports a duration, requires exactly one manifestation to be added to it, but unlike alteration, bestow etherhearts in effect reduce the maximum EP-pool for as long they persist - essentially, the EP used in maintaining the etherspell are only regenerated once the etherspell has run its course. Unlike alteration etherspells, those cast via the bestow etherheart need to be delivered via a touch attack and cannot be targeted at the ethermagic-using class.



The Genesis etherheart, available for ethermancer and etherslinger, conjures objects out of thin ether - once again, exactly one manifestation can be added to the etherheart. The effect is permanent, as long as the object remains within close proximity of its creator, however, like bestow effects, EP remain reduced for as long as the genesis etherspell exists. Unlike any other etherheart, a genesis etherspell can be dismissed at any given time.



The ethermagus' exclusive etherheart, Voidmeld, also has a personal range and applies to the void blade of the ethermagus (more on that later). It also reduces the ethermagus' maximum EP analogue to Bestow for as long as it persists, but unlike it, voidmeld etherspells can be dismissed by dismissing the void blade upon which they're cast. Unlike all other etherhearts, voidmeld etherspells have a base casting time of only a swift action, as opposed to the default standard action. (Which can be superseded by manifestations applied - only the highest casting duration counts.) Another peculiarity of the voidmeld etherheart would be the fact that one may apply as many manifestations as one likes, provided the total of their combined levels remains below the highest manifestation level the ethermagus knows. Once again, only one voidmeld can be in effect at a given time.



You may have noticed that obviously, etherspells seem to scale with levels and this is reflected in their cost - to cast an alteration etherspell, for example, one has to pay the base cost of the etherheart, plus the EP-cost of the manifestation applied. The base EP-costs of the etherhearts scale with levels - in the case of alteration, the base cost would be 1+ 1/4 caster level, rounded down. There is one more restriction imposed on ethermagic - you cannot learn more manifestations for a given etherheart than you have at a lower level - if you for example know 2 3rd level blast manifestations, you can't learn another manifestation unless you have at least 3 2nd level blast manifestations - think of it as a pyramid rule for each etherheart.

While all of this may sound complex (and the math behind it *is* complex, believe me...), it's really easy to understand once you wrap your head around it - whether by a manabar or pool or by cooldown timers, the ways to visualize the system are plentiful.



Okay, before I go into the basics of manifestations, let's take a look at all the classes and goodies herein, all right?



The ethermagus comes with a 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor (and no spell failure chance in light armor), a maximum manifestation level of 5 and an ether regeneration rate that scales up from 1 EP per round to 7 at 20th level. An ethermagus has access to the voidmeld etherheart at 1st level, learns the lesser blast etherheart at 2nd level and the alteration etherheart at 5th level. Ethermagi learn up to 12 voidmeld manifestations, 13 lesser blast manifestations and 9 alteration manifestations over the course of their 20-level progression. At 10th level, lesser blasts executed by the ethermagus receive a damage-bonus equal to 1/2 class level.



Additionally, starting at 1st level, ethermagi can manifest void blades drawn from the ether - these can be either light or medium one-handed weapons that deal either slashing or piercing damage, chosen upon the manifestation of the blade. The entry also features information on hardness and hit points. Starting at 4th level, all void blades receive a +1 enhancement bonus, +1 every 4 levels thereafter and at 11th and 20th level, their damage dice increase by one step. At 7th level, the void blade receives the defending quality and at 9th level, the ethermagus may expend 3 EP to temporarily entangle targets hit by your blade.



At 2nd level, ethermagi may execute so-called etherstrikes, delivering lesser blast etherspells with their void blade analogue to spellstrike - and yes, the wording gets it right. At 3rd level, the ethermagus can regain 1 EP whenever he reduces a target creature of at least 1/2 class level HD to 0 HP or below via an attack with the void blade or a lesser blast etherspell. Particularly interesting, at 11th level, the improved ether surge allows for the addition of one non-stacking additional non-shape manifestation to the next lesser blast he executes.

At 5th level, the thoroughly solid ether variant of spellcombat (sans concentration penalty-ambiguity!) is gained. At higher levels, the ethermagus additionally receives a bonus to concentration checks made in ether combat and at high levels, double the opted penalty is received as a bonus instead.



Continuous exposure to ether hardens the ethermagus' musculature and thus, the class receives a +2 bonus to one physical attribute at 13th level, another +2 to a score not chosen at 13th level at 17th and at 15th level, the ethermagus may 1/day knock a foe prone and pin the foe; +1/day at 20th level, where this can also be executed with blasts. A decompressing shock can be used with EP to end this prone condition/pinning, but deal nasty damage. The capstone, beyond aforementioned effects, can now also be shaped and create/dismiss the void blade as a swift action.



The class comes with excessive FCOs for core races, plane-touched races, puddlings, orcs, hobgoblins, drow, kobolds, vishkanya, kitsune and vanara.



Kickstarter backer Mathew Duckwitz has sponsored the Mad Evangelst archetype, who replaces spellcombat and its follow-up abilities with a metamorphosis pool of class level + cha-mod. Upon slaying targets, the mad evangelist may expend metamorphosis points equal to the slain creature's HD to revive it as a zombie under the control of the evangelist after creature's HD rounds. To maintain the revived creature, the evangelist has to spend the points again upon their regeneration, essentially making this a kind of minion pool. At 3rd level, these revived creatures may be modified at metamorphosis pool cost via an array of so-called "Aspects of the Master" - an array of options that becomes expanded at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter by +1 aspect. Some of these aspects have the [variant] descriptor, denoting that only one such piece can be applied to a given zombie - somewhat akin to tinker designs.

From touchy cilia to flanking prevention sores, applying various templates (aforementioned variants) and similar tricks, the aspects allow for some damn cool modifications...and they have rather cool synergy with the base class - think of it as a cooler version of the Battlefield Defiler archetype for the magus, with truly unique, customizable zombies.



Instead of aberrant musculature and bonus feats, the evangelist also may choose from an array of gifts from beyond - from developing a vast plethora of eyes, to fast healing and even an ether powered gaze attack, these gifts are pretty damn awesome - mostly due to simply not being boring - want an example? Well, fast healing sounds bland, right? Well, this kind of fast healing can be activated reflexively to e.g. survive the effects of being vorpal'd as a severed head - if the head is healed to max HP within one minute, it regrows the body and is fine; Otherwise it dies - now come on, is that a unique, cool last-second save mechanism or what? Or what about a whippy tentacle that can be used to deliver voidmeld manifestations as an exception to the void blade only rule? Yeah, pretty awesome! Also rather interesting from a mechanical standpoint - at 14th level, the mad evangelist becomes immune to either fear, disease or poison - but at the cost of susceptibility to the other two!



The second archetype would be the Void Stalker, essentially a more roguish ethermagus with increases skills per level. In addition to light and medium weapons, these guys may select double weapons as void blades and receives sneak attack at 2nd level, +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter, but pay for these tricks with the lesser blast ether heart, etherstrike and ethercombat. Rather cool - they can dim the lights (at the cost of 1 EP per round and no ether regeneration), greatly boosting stealth and even providing a miss chance at higher levels instead of ethersurge. The void stalker also receives a rogue talent at 4th level (advanced talents at 13th level) and every 3 levels thereafter, but may not choose the same talent twice and cannot select ninja tricks, but pays for this flexibility with the alteration etherheart - which is good, since the combo-potential would have been pretty insane - but don't fret: The iconic ultraviolet shift is gained at 10th level (in a unique modification with reduced costs, analogue to the stealth-enhancer mentioned above) and uncanny dodge, evasion etc. should help get over the absence of this etherheart. The vorpal capstone is also nice.



Next up hereafter would be the voidstar - instead of a voidblade, 3+1/2 class level void star shuriken constitute the targets of the voidmelds of this archetype and receives an increased limit of voidmeld manifestations to apply to these shurikens, scaling up to +3 at 13th level. Instead of etherstrike, 5th level grants the ability to treat said stars as either silver, cold iron or adamantine for the purpose of bypassing DR and instead of void shield, this one receives keen shuriken - while this looks nasty on paper, the math checks out - nice, kind of ninja-ish/halfling-ish throwing specialist.



Ethermancers are the full casters of the bunch and since I have already written a more than excessive review on them AND already explained the basics of ethermagic, I will refrain from going through this guy in detail - though it should be noted that the previously somewhat uneven multiuniversal philosophies (the taking of which also determines the capstone!) have been streamlined and expanded - limited x/day reduction of EP-costs for bestow etherspells, increased raw damage output for less- or unmodified greater blasts, resistance reduction - these class features have been upgraded from "well, that exists, too" to cool enhancers that can be used to increase the effectiveness of various playstyles - increased hit points, limited instant EP-regeneration equal to cha-mod etc. - so much choices and by now, they're actually pretty hard and diverse, eliminating one of my gripes with the original iteration of the class. A fortification-like scaling effect and a 1 immune, 2 susceptible choice is still in the ring. The FCOs are more diverse than before as well!



Kickstarter backer Alexander W. Corrin has granted us the etherfuser, a class that can generate a fusion pool by reducing the maximum EP available on a point by point basis, allowing you to essentially trade the regenerating EP for the non-regenerating FP in the form of ether jelly. This gooey stuff can be used to create etherfusions that are treated as etherspells of the highest manifestation level known with a range of 30 ft., etc., but unlike etherspells, they scale with levels in an additional way - they unlock modifiers over the levels. The fusion that nets temporary hit points on a round by round basis can thus e.g. be increased to provide more every round and/or also net minor DR. What about curing ability damage and freely diving the points cured among damaged attributes? Defense buffs? Setting targets on fire?



Well, things get better - the archetype receives a unique, FP-enhancing philosophy (accessible only via a feat, alas - the general class feature is not gained!) AND learns a variant of lay on hands powered by ether jelly AND even the option to learn mercies (and duplicate the effects of cruelties via an etherfusion...), modifying even extra mercy et al. to properly work with this unique new take on healing. Essentially, these guys are ethermancers that can spontaneously reduce their pool to provide healing for their allies - damn cool concept and glorious execution!



Next up would be the Herald of Creation, essentially a specialist of alteration and genesis etherhearts, complete with increased EP-regeneration while under the effects of alterations, 2 unique multiuniversal philosophies (one of which allows for alteration-blankets at increased costs a limited amount of times per day) and thus also two new capstones - essentially the first of what I'd call specialist-archetypes. The second would be the Herald of Madness, who receives access to gifts from beyond, with some overlap with aforementioned mad evangelist, but also quite an array of exclusive gifts that help the different playstyle - hanging on walls, better touch attacks - rather cool options, including a +2d4 initiative boost, which may see you staggered on a roll of twice the same number - rather nice gamble! The archetype receives an exclusive philosophy for more gifts, the option to lace his bestow etherspells with confusion effects, but also makes the spell mind-affecting. Then again, bestowing is so much easier with a handy tentacle growing from your body... Oh, and the capstone has a confusion-causing aura as well as an aberration apotheosis. The final Herald would be the Herald of the Void, who is a specialist of greater manifestations -but more on that system later. The interstitial philosopher then would be an ethermancer who forgoes greater blasts, aberrant physiology and aberrant form in favor of more multiuniversal philosophies and feats for massive flexibility.



The third base-class in the book would be mine, the Etherslinger, so let me explain to you the basics of the class - essentially, I noticed that gunslingers don't play particularly versatile or interesting. I love a bunch of the design decisions of the class to death, but especially in low powered campaigns and low levels, the action economy penalty, the costly ammunition, the inability to use guns with stealth - all these conspired to make the class less interesting than it should be. On a design perspective, at high levels full BAB touch at close range makes hitting ridiculously easy and the auto-granted deeds, while cool, do not allow for much customization - per default rules, there's not much variety between gunslingers. This class is designed to get rid of all of that and more. The class thus receives d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms and light armors and bucklers, the latter sans spell failure. Etherslingers receive class level + cha-mod EP and EP-regeneration equal to 1/3 class level, rounded up. The etherslinger's caster level is equal to 3/4 her class level. Her blasts only scale up every 4 levels, but has no etherheart at 1st level - so what does she do with the EP? Well, the class receives a linear set of base abilities called etherslinging that improves in a linear way over the levels - up to cha-mod EP can be spent per round in etherslinging abilities. These allow the etherslinger to expend EP for skill-bonuses, bonuses to her next attack...and more importantly, make the use of firearms more versatile. How?



Well, first of all, the etherslinger can repair her starting gun with ether clear as an EP-costing standard action - no more "damn, I botched, now my gun is done for the battle"-crap. (Oh, and it can be further hastened by also expending grit - more on that later!) Additionally, the etherslinger may stabilize the gun to decrease misfire rates. Now at 3rd level, the etherslinger may directly generate etherbullets and propellant in her gun - these do not cost anything! No more annoyed eye-rolling at the slinger for the expensive ammunition and bullets. These ephemeral bullets, though, at least at low levels, dissipate beyond the second range increment, thus not invalidating regular bullets. At 9th level, they increase their range and at 17th level, proper sniping with these bullets becomes possible. Better yet, the action-type required to reload them can be lessened by the expenditure of EP and grit and at higher levels, free action reloads can be executed. Have I mentioned the ability to select damage types at higher levels, including elemental damage-types starting 13th level? Additionally, the etherslinging allows you to treat your guns as if they had an increased capacity for etherbullets - capacity +1 at 5th level, +2 at 15th level.



An etherslinger also receives a grit pool of up to wis-mod points of grit that follow the usual rules, but do not apply to deeds - instead, the etherslinger, beyond the ways to expend grit via etherslinging, has several unique tricks that require at least one grit or that require the expenditure of grit. Speaking of which - while the etherslinger needs guns to cast etherspells (now that's gun-obsession for you...), the class can also gaze 1/day as an immediate action at her gun to regain 1 grit, +1/day at 10th and 20th level. So, instead of grit, etherslingers receive etherslinger talents - one at 2nd level, +1 for every 2 class level after the 2nd. These talents range from passive gains of abilities while she has a minimum amount of grit available to special, active tricks that let her combine the casting (or duration-extension) of an alteration manifestation with a ranged firearm attack. What about shooting targets with the firearm and transporting the otherwise woefully short-ranged bestow etherspells to the target? Beyond that, there are quite a few unique things this class can do: What about shooting haunts and determining their destruction conditions? Making your guns water-proof and functional for that underwater adventure you've been dreading? Wrapping allies in bestow effects while you put bullet holes into the opposition and spontaneous doppler dodges? Etherslingers can also cushion their own fall by shooting at the ground, cause misfires of opponents? I also made a couple of Lucky Luke-talents that allow the etherslinger especially fast draws of the weapon, particularly compelling for those planning a lot of ambushes.



Slightly increased damage output for blasts, using grit to temporarily boost your EP-regeneration rate provide a distinct array of options and builds. A pet-peeve of mine can also be eliminated - know how a firearm-user on board wrecks any infiltration? Well, talents for the etherslinger allow them to actually participate in scenarios like that, silencing their bullets - yes, these guys can go full-blown hitman with magical silencer! Like those movies or books, where special ammunition is prepared? Well, etherslingers can do just that - against creature types and even specific creatures, with increased damage output. The cost for stabilizing guns can also be permanently reduced by talents and causing flashes of light, ricochets and the like do sound like fun don't they? Indeed, the class can also learn to treat the target of the firearm as the origin of an etherspell (relevant for shaped blasts). But, as you may have noticed, the class is not primarily about damage output - it's about terrain control, versatility and non-crippling firearm use and both the blasts as well as the talents support that - but I have failed to mention so far the exceedingly cool option to shoot bullets into unoccupied squares, creating essentially Schrödinger's bullets - as soon as a hapless fool steps in the square, the bullet is unleashed, allowing you to generate either short-lived traps or, if you choose to select a couple of talents, energy-damage dealing minefields. In playtest, mining dungeon corridors for escape or for holding positions proved to be ample fun indeed, not to speak of the nasty ambushes you can make with these short-lived pocket-dimension bullet-mines. High-level etherslingers may also destabilize their guns, increasing misfire and critical threat range and yes, making ether facsimiles of her gun is not beyond the capacities of the etherslinger - nasty surprise for those bandits that caught and disarmed all of you...



Oh, and then there are the capstone talents...what about e.g. the one that lets the etherslinger know when an intelligent creature willingly utters here name and means her, allowing her to teleport to the target? Yeah, there are quite a few of tricks like that here...have I mentioned that the class receives access to all non-class-exclusive etherhearts? Now I know this may look very powerful on paper, but MAD, small power pool, etc. result in a balanced overall contribution - most importantly, though, one that is versatile and fun. I am extremely proud of this class and I guarantee it's playing style is much more rewarding if you prefer variety over repetition and a certain level of complexity and tinkering.



One final note for the WuXia-aficionados - yes, there is a feat in here that grants you a grit-powered ki-pool (and the option to spend that ki on spontaneous bonuses to AC), opening quite an avenue of even further tricks if you want to use books like "Heroes of the Jade Oath", "Dragon Tiger Ox", etc.



(Feel free to tell me about your etherslinger's exploits via endzeitgeist.com's contact tab - I'd love to hear how my baby is doing out there! One last piece of advice - stay out of melee...)



We also receive a whole slew of new feats, which have since the original ethermancer-pdf's inception been redesigned and vastly expanded - from vastly improved base-feats to glorious feats that allow etherslingers to gain a small time-manipulation genesis manifestation to changing voidblade damage to your etherstrike etehrspell's energy type, the vast array of feats allows for some damn cool combinations indeed - including casting a limited array of alterations as spell-like abilities a couple of times per day!



Now the manifestations - oh boy! Not only are there * a lot*, they also are exceedingly flexible, from temporary EP to energy-damage buffers to reflexive damage and even tricks to convert energy damage into ether - the amount of fine-tuned and expanded alterations is awesome to see, especially since the choices that before were sub-par for the ethermancer now definitely work well for the ethermagus and etherslinger!



It should also be noted that especially alteration and bestow have received quite an array of damn cool options, many of which could be considered exceedingly interesting - what about e.g. making the target a conduit for madness - potentially spreading confusion to those nearby? Or what about trapping a target creature in dream combat with a deadly shadow of the subject's mind's own making? What about becoming a haste-like hyperspace beacon that can extend its benefits to the closest ally? What about linking two creatures with quantum indeterminacy, allowing them to swap places? Ever wanted to enable your allies to blast foes as with batteries of comets? Yup, now you can! Or what about making your allies into laser batteries that pummel foes with potentially blinding rays of light? The heretofore rather underrepresented greater blasts by now have a whole array of unique manifestations that can only be added to them. What about e.g. bouncing blasts? Yeah - damn cool. Speaking of which - genesis has also seen quite an array of new, cool options. Take e.g. the option to generate an anti-gravity (or gravity) well or making a blade with a stored blast etherspell inside? (And yes, the well allows you to use the rope of teh well to pull buckets of gravity from it...I laughed so hard when I read that...) Or perhaps you fancy a sand-filled hourglass wristband that allows you to increase your actions, but have time take its toll thereafter - pretty cool! Speaking of which - making ephemeral copies of objects can be quite helpful when playing investigation-heavy scenarios. Or how about making a book of ether that stores your knowledge-skill for you, allowing others to benefit from it, but at the cost of not having the knowledge available for yourself? What about a short-range beacon to which to teleport back to?



The voidmeld etherheart, completely new, has a vast array of new tricks at your disposal - from fishing crits to power lesser blasts to breaking the +5 enchantment limit (and yes, the math checks out and is NOT broken) and receiving a non-kitten-able hit-healing trick are part of the deal. And you know you always wanted to hit something with the force of a black hole's event horizon...right?



Now I mentioned Greater Manifestations - these are an optional system you may elect to ignore, but in my opinion shouldn't - two options are provided: 1) An ethermancer may lose a manifestation and a multiuniversal philosophy slot to learn one of these. Option 2) opens them for all classes, including ethermagus/slinger via a feat - whether you allow limited access, full access or none - all left in your hands -and that is awesome. Greater manifestations can be cast 1/day and essentially constitute the true "OMG, did you see that?" hard insta-death, crowd-control etc. tricks - 5 feats can be taken to enhance them/learn them and yes, the aforementioned multiuniversal philosophy also comes with an apotheosis. And greater manifestations are damn powerful -reducing the next etherspell's cost to 0? Yep. Black Hole? Check. But the very cake is taken the new and advanced Clockwork Universe: You choose a sun and planets that provide varying passive and active effects as you craft a miniature galaxy - and yes, inhabited planets in this galaxy may send forth motherships to destroy your enemies whenever one other satellite in your clockwork universe is destroyed or consumed by throwing it at your foes. Oh, and, of course, desert planets (one of the various additions to this already brilliant manifestation) have especially high capacities for mother ships...Have I mentioned moon bases and their capacity to fire teeny-tiny-planet-cracker missiles at your foes? This massive greater manifestation was a beauty before - now it is just one gigantic, splendid piece of awesomeness. Insta-kills, maximized numeric effects - don't get me wrong, I love the other manifestations, but this one is just too cool. What about erasing all energy-affinity from a creature? Speaking of which: HAMSTER BALL OF DEATH. Okay, It's called Firmament, is made of crystal and protects you from just about every damage, but it also allows for particularly devastating charges, hamsterball style. I *love* it! And yes, +3 manifestations for utterly massive blasts can also be chosen, as well as granting allies a taste of ether magic and a small, temporary pool. Oh, and yes, one may even resurrect creatures thanks to the powers of white holes!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting were top-notch even before I went over it and by now, all potentially game-glitch issues are gone and wording should be fitting- at least I found none. Layout adheres to a damn cool, unique, 2-column b/w-standard with original b/w-character artworks and thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf is rather printer-friendly and excessively bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Even before, ethermagic was awesome - but it suffered from being the playing ground of just one class and not all options being made for it. Then this book came. Jason Linker's Ethermagus' concept of godblades and lead designer Bradley Crouch's new and *vastly* improved ethermancer, with all their awesome ideas and tricks, their combos, their glorious fluff and crunch - these two alone would have carried this book. Well, I am admittedly biased towards my own etherslinger class - however, I have received quite a lot feedback - from both my players AND complete strangers how much they love this class. So there has got to be something going for it, right? ;)



Kidding aside - this system makes resource-management fun. It lets you blast or magic-slice...or shoot ALL DAY LONG without breaking the game. Each and every class and archetype herein is unique and has something to offer - this is literally an all killer, no filler crunch book of awesomeness and ever since I have it in my hands, it has become a permanent fixture in my games - as indispensable as psionics or pact magic. Have I mentioned that its system could easily be used for the representation of the force or similar scifi-themed power-sources by just changing fluff? Yeah. For me, this is an EZG Essential, a candidate for my top ten of 2014 and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. This is, even without anything I added, the best crunch-book I've seen in ages - innovative, fun, complex and yet, pretty easy to grasp. (And if you need explanations/advice or just want to tell me about your experiences with this book, don't hesitate to contact me via my hp's contact tab.)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Ethermagic
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Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2014 05:43:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page RSD, 2 pages of ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!



At this point, I assume you are familiar with the basic premise of the mythic magic-series - essentially, we receive all those delicious spells that are not included in the original Mythic Adventures hardcover in their mythic versions, with each book covering quite a bit of ground - this one taking perhaps THE defining Pathfinder book, the APG. No other book has for me coined a distinct, unique identity for Pathfinder more than the APG - it turned Pathfinder from 3.75 into a proper, truly distinct system.



The pdf kicks off with an alphabetical spell-list - one that is 4 (!!!) pages long. Yeah, that ought to provide some inkling of what to expect here! Well, let's take a look at the very first spell herein, absorbing touch: The mythic version allows you to absorb magic items and via the first augment, even use them while they are absorbed if their powers are continuous and independent of the physical interatcion - i.e. not rope of climbing-abuse; Wands etc. use up twice the charges, making for a cool caveat. On a very nitpicky side, the wording could benefit from having "wand" generalized to encompass staves and other charge-using items.. On the "awesomecake"-side, the second augment allows you to absorb willing or helpless creatures - extractions, rescue missions and kidnappings have just become much more awesome - when a spell allows for new storytelling mechanics, you know you've stumbled across something cool!



Of course, not all different mytic versions receive such a wordy, complex upgrade - there simply is no need. Accelerating all poisons instead of one? Yeah, works! Now alchemical allocation allows you to spit a potion or elixir back into its container without consuming it, but at the cost of 1/2 durations of subsequent sipping from the potion. Like it! Are you commanding a fleet? Alter Winds can be now augmented to affect a radius of one mile...just sayin'...



Add maximized and empowered effects to your extracts also makes for a nice, crunchy upgrade. One of my player's favorites, ant haul, now has mythic tier added to the effective str-score for carrying capacity. Less traightforward, the additional options for metamagic feats provided by arcane concordance deserves special mention - neat! Ball lightning, per se a non-too-interesting spell, via this book, suddenly becomes unique, adding electromagnetic properties for mythic power at 5th level to the array for unique, cool benefits. Speaking of which - Blood Biography is investigation module gold - what is your home, asking for immunities/resistances and information on kin can be gleaned - and that's not where the improved version ends. G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. If you require inspiration on how to craft a whole module around this spell, drop me a line...



But not all spells tie in with story-telling or simply increase numerical values - there is another class of spells herein that ties in with proper class abilities - take Coward's Lament: Not only does it tie the reset of penalties incurred by the base spell to a will-save, it also increases an inquisitor's judgments in potency by the penalty AND upgrades your bane attacks to greater bane. This level of ability/spell-synergy makes for rather cool combo-potential and further helps set apart exclusive spells for certain classes, increasing the uniqueness-factor of the options available for them. Formerly subpar options like the divine transfer of the paladin have their mythic version increase the potency and thus render the spell as such much more viable, even before the further augmentation - which allows you to breath of life deceased targets - pretty cool and thematically fitting!



Speaking of further distinctions - each element that can be chosen via elemental touch comes with its own distinct additional effects, lending more tactical depth to element selection as well as distinction for different specialists that prefer one element over another. Fester's mechanic, which decreases non-SR healing by 50% + 5% per mythic tier may seem a bit clunky mechanics-wise, but the pretty awesome result makes up for the slightly math intense formula. (I am assuming you can't calculate 55% of your cleric's channel in your head - while I'm pretty good at math like that, I've seen games slowed by formulas like this, so yeah - a slightly less complicated one that increased 2 to 75% and 100% respectively would probably have been more user-friendly...)



On the cool side - what about using mythic power to scry those subject to your follow aura spell? Yes, I can see the vast potential for espionage and similar action here... Flanking with foe to friend'd characters also makes for quite a cool combo that adds a bit of tactical depth to the whole scenario. Action economy also receives some interesting tactical modifications - take frozen note, which allows its maintenance while 5-foot-stepping. Another cool design decision would pertain creature qualities interacting with spells - take e.g. geyser - those creatures with the burn quality hit by it may have their abilities suppressed. Another cool component would be spell-terrain-synergy - adding heavy undergrowth or dense rubble to hide campsite would be just what the doctor ordered! What about selectively greased lily pads that send your foes into the pond, while you and your allies escape?



Purging Finale also is interesting - by ending a bardic performance, a negative condition can be removed - awesome concept and if you like it, might I suggest the maestro class' outros? Eidolon rejuvenation-spells have also been expanded, with options to decrease hit point healing and instead heal negative conditions/ability damage/drain. Rest Eternal also has yet another unique option available - as long as you have the spell prepared, you can utilize mythic power to spontaneously cast it on yourself, preventing you from joining the undead legions, potentially even ignoring the material components! Mythic Slipstream lets you ignore caltrops and similar impediments and can be discharged for a massive tier-dependent movement rate bonus and even mobility-like bonuses.



Applying simple mythic templates to snake staves, while transmute potion to poison allows you to manufacture specific poisons and yes, spit them. Adding immediate action-based retribution-blasts to winds of vengeance? Yes, please!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good, better than in Ultimate Spells I - while I noticed a couple of minor bolding glitches, nothing particularly serious came up. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf's artworks are nice, though fans of legendary games may recognize them from previous supplements. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, though with weirdly a list of a couple of spells before the proper bookmarks in alphabetical order begin - something seems to have gone slightly awry there, though this does not impend functionality. It should be noted that this pdf is excessively hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com - each and every spell has a link to help you run this - kudos for going the extra mile, also with e.g. terrain peculiarities hyperlinked etc.!



Jason Nelson, Jeff Lee and Morgan Boehringer have crafted a vast array of mythic spell-upgrades for perhaps the most crucial base book among the PFRPG hardcovers released so far - and this book delivers. While there are slightly more numerical-increase mythic adaptations herein than in the last mythic magic-book, that is also due to the significantly higher page-count. Let's cut to the chase - this is absolutely non-optional. If you run a mythic campaign that is not core-rulebook + MA only (and why would you?), there's simply no way past this pdf. Not only are *many* spells downright inspired in their synergy and uncommon improvements, they belong to what amounts to the very basic minimum rulekit one expects - or at least I do, from a campaign. Instead of just delivering a default job, the designers have went above and beyond the first two Mythic Magic-installments to make this book and its spells stand out, feel distinct and most importantly, diversified them. Instead of simply going into the depth, many options herein go into the breadth, enriching the game rather than simply adding numerical escalation.



This is a required book for any mythic campaign; and yes, it has slightly more glitches than I like to see, but no game-breakers - and that, alongside its sheer creativity and breadth, are what makes this stand out. It's not perfect, but for such a straightforward topic as "make mythic spells of all of these", the designers have managed to retain a freshness and playfulness that suffuses these pages and makes the read inspiring - it may not be perfect, but I quite frankly don't care in the face of creativity like this. Final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells I
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ZEITGEIST #6: Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman (PATHFINDER RPG)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:13:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the second act of what has so far been a ridiculously awesome AP clocks in at 85 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 80 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Now first things first - this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players of the Zeitgeist AP should NOT spoil this saga and instead jump to the conclusion.

...

..

All right, only DMs left? Sure? Well, you were warned.



Apart from advice for adapting the module to home campaigns and eliminating the steampunk fluff, there is, as has become the tradition with Zeitgeist, a LOT going on. It's been 2 months since the PCs managed to lure away the colossus in adventure #5 and the wheels of the conspiracies never stop turning - and now, the PCs may have a chance to remedy that. The constables are briefed to find one (mad?) savant called Tinker Oddcog, potentially one of the people involved in the creation of the titanic construct and quite probably in league with the shadowy conspiracy that has acted as the primary antagonistic force so far. Only problem is - the guy knew when to run and has left the country. Thus, the constables are off to the nation of Ber, including full-blown ship teleportation, to find the gnome before his erstwhile employers do and silence him for good. making matters more complicated would be the mostly humanoid population of the land the PCs are supposed to enter, requiring quite a bit of tact not to offend gnolls, orcs etc..



To make matters more complicated, the PCs are asked to testify at the trial of their old ally Brakken - and yes, proper cross-examination and verdicts - all not based solely on dice, but rather on ROLEplaying - kudos and two thumbs up for keeping the whole affair...well...fair. Oh, by the way, at this point, the opposition has probably made its first move already, their first assassination attempt hopefully thwarted by the PCs. After local politics have been cleared, alliances been cemented or lost, the PCs will be off towards the Summer Court - only to face a massive stampede prompted by tyrannosauruses. Plural. Yeah. Ouch, but also damn awesome! Here, the PCs will have a chance to prove their worth by braving a massive maze for the spectators - in this decadent game, the PCs will both have to survive the *relatively* harmless bears - and the mechanical, very much lethal Battle enhanced animalistic robot - B.E.A.R., all while navigating and hopefully avoiding the teleport traps...



Once the challenge has been won or lost, the true game begins - in something I have never seen in a module before -competitive rail-road construction espionage action. No. I'm not kidding. The level of detail here, including time-line and key-moments with their sabotage-attempts and issues make running this one pretty awesome indeed! Oh, and when I'm saying intrigue, I mean it - mind control, dealing with parasites and optionally, saving Wolgang von Recklinghausen from a particularly bug-affine tribe...quite abunch to be done. Finally, the bruse may let the constables meet Tinker - only to have him be revealed as a suicidal simulacra. Worse, a whole bunch of guards go replicant and start trying to assassinate the Bruse and everyone else in reach. Whether the ruler dies or not, the trail leads to the Isla dolas Focas, where a massive naval battle looms (oh joy, much ship-block stats building to use better naval rules...) -after that, the PCs will have to brave a pump station (preferably without having it blow up in their faces or the faces of the hostages, for that matter) - here, the PCs may, guided by a duplicant's voice, finally receive some information from tinker as they venture down into a volcanic foundry - only to have Risuri steel baron Pemberton show his true face as the mastermind behind Tinker's disappearance...and as one of the last covert-living dragons, hell-bent on taking Ber as his own. Between assembly-lines and magma, the PCs will have to defeat Tinker's power-armor, a draconic robot, Pemberton's duplicant...and save the gnome from certain death - quite a task, even before the Obscurati complicate things further and well worthy of the Zeitgeist AP!



Now beyond the magic items, NPCs etc., parties that manage to retrieve tinker may benefit from his brilliance and guide the development of unique, experimental technology in the campaign - is that cool or what? Beyond player-friendly versions of the maps, we also receive hand-outs and handy tracking sheets to easily run the rather awesome railroad mini-game.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as superb as in most Zeitgeist-installments - I noticed slightly more glitches and e.g. references pointing to "Page XX" or references to e.g. the "bloodied" condition from 4th edition than usual. Layout adheres to Zeitgeist's unique 2-column full color standard with a mix of original and stock art, the latter always thematically fitting. It should be noted that the pdf is layered, allowing you to remove graphical elements for more printer-friendly results. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is nice and leaves nothing to be desired.



Ryan Nock's sixth installment of the AP, by necessity, is less in your face than #5 - Act 2 needs to be set up, with the interwoven plot-lines building slowly up to something new and different. That being said, the AP manages to retain its strengths - diverse challenges, excessive roleplaying, compelling politics and backstabbing intrigues, all set against a backdrop of importance, of varied challenges - and if my account of the adventure's plot seems convoluted, then only because there actually is so much more going on in these pages. The consequences of old relationships resurfacing and reacting properly, the omnipresent consequences of the PC's actions - all of these conspire to make this yet another superb module. While it is not the best of the Zeitgeist modules and my first reaction was a slight urge to rate it a bit down, that wouldn't have been fair; It still stands triumphantly among its brethren and manages to build up steam after the vast array of legendary things that happened in #5.

When compared to just about every other module, this still breathes iconic ideas, dares to demand smart players and is dauntingly novel and inspired - not losing steam after 6 installments, the massive machinery that is Zeitgeist waltzes on without losing steam - and maintaining this level of complexity and diversity for this long is damn impressive. I'm looking forward to the whole of Act 2 - final verdict: Once again, 5 stars + seal of approval, though this time around, it was a slightly closer decision than before.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #6: Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman (PATHFINDER RPG)
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Urban Dressing: Borderland Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:11:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First: What do I mean by "new" Urban Dressing? Well, the first run of the series had a certain hit-and-miss quality; It endeavored to take components of the city and use the Dressing-formula to depict them. Alas, cities are complex and organic and the success not always guaranteed. Then, with a certain pirate town, the series changed - away from describing a single component (like a park/temple etc. and failing to take some moving bit or another into account), instead focusing on a general theme and the means for the DM to evoke this theme. This, then would be the third of.these new Urban Dressings.



We begin our trek through the Borderland Town with a table of sights and sounds one may encounter - spanning two pages and featuring drunken warrior, mercenaries, heads mounted on iron spikes and similar portents of a harsh environment, we have quite an array of great mood set pieces.



The second table sports sample businesses - from inns with great food, but drafty rooms to torchlighter guilds, places for convalescence etc., the 50-entry strong table sports an array of businesses whose very presence in a town may well spark an adventure hook! If you're like me, you have a couple of key NPCs when designing a town, those you require for a given adventure to work, and then create red herrings and common folk (which you develop later) - well, this pdf takes some of that work off your shoulders, with 50 sample folk in a table, all sporting a cosmetic peculiarity or a special mannerism that helps make them distinct, while also featuring race and suggested level/class in brackets.



Finally, we receive a table of 20 hooks and complications for those times you really had no time whatsoever to prepare anything - alarm bells, providing covert-ops intelligence on the town's militia or dead soldiers of a neighboring kingdom - there are plenty of different ways to develop each of them.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.



Josh Vogt's take on Borderland Towns, at least for me, leaves nothing to be desired - atmospheric, studded with easily implemented, yet never generic (at least in the derogative meaning of the word) entries, this installment of Urban Dressing is extremely useful.

Now, personally, I would have liked to see at times a clearer distinction between borderland themes versus ones that could be applied to frontier's towns, but that may just be me being terribly nitpicky. This pdf is , useful, fun and well worth a final rating of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Borderland Town
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