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20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:49:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 61 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, before I get into the creatures herein, there is something I need to address: Know how so many monster books provide statblocks where you just think "Yawn, could have done that myself."? Well, this is NOT one of those. Over 15 (!!!) templates have been used in the creation of those creatures, drawing from the ample fund of awesome templates pioneered in Rite Publishing's legendary "Book of Monster Templates" and similar sources, with all the necessary crunch provided - and yes, while some of the templates are simple, others consist of rather complex brutes that are quite some work to properly apply. Beyond these 9 items, two of which have artifact status, a spell and 13 feats have been used here as well. Statblock wizard Justin Sluder uses some of Rogue Genius Games "Horrifically Overpowered" feats here as well, making for what boils down to mini templates for the most powerful of adversaries herein. Beyond that, no less than 8 archetypes, including the aberrant aegis archetype for Dreamscarred Press' cool psionic class are provided and in case that's not enough for you, what about a RP-breakdown of worgs and winterwolves as 15 and 40 RP-races to be potentially played via the ARG rules to round this one off? Even for Rite Publishing's excessive, very high standard of NPC-supplemental crunch, this is very close to the absolute apex of what one could ask for.



Now another thing that makes this book a joy to read would be the fact that all creatures herein get their own chance to comment and talk - in Rite Publishing's time-honored tradition, the crunch is supplemented by great in character prose that makes reading what otherwise would be a dry collection of cool statblocks actually compelling. Furthermore, the respective fluff further supplements the crunch - take the lowest CR creatures herein, Erox, Onyx and Grux - phalanx terror worgs linked by a kind of hivemind that don't always see eye to eye - ranging from CR 3 to 5, the most simple of them also has the young template and expert levels applied, while the threatening Erox instead comes with maneuver master levels - yes, not even standard class levels, but properly archetype'd ones. And seriously, the build is nasty for CR 5...in a good way.



On the weird side of the spectrum, an arctic druid pygmy winter wolf that considers himself the incarnation of winter and on the more disturbing, what about a spell-less ranger worg that makes for a superb pack commander and has a deal most disturbing with a community he protects...in exchange for the sick and old...



If you're looking for something less identifiable as the original, take a look at Qixa, an entropic worg oracle of fire and flames, feared as a spirit of vengeance and death. On the other hand, do not think that every creature herein was necessary an antagonist - Judge Kerist is actually a sacred, celestial worg inquisitor, a true hunter of the wicked, on the hunt to punish those who slew his adopted parents and stamp out evil, and ingrained within the character, the old argument of nurture vs. nature still looms, making for roleplaying potential galore... Speaking of which - if you're looking for a celestial force of good, the Half-Solar worg bestial oathbound paladin Lady Ferra, clocking in at an impressive CR 19, might just suit your needs



Now for truly diverse and agile worgs, what about one who actually uses Rite Publishing's superb shapeshifter-class, the Taskshaper? On the build-side very interesting would be Tirusta, the Hag Wolf, who had the winter wolf racial HD reverse-engineered away in favor of great hero/hexen cavalier levels. Especially suited for eastern/WuXia-style settings would be the mithral-clad Silver Wolf that utilizes Zombie Sky Press' Yamabushi class - here let me insert something: You may have noticed that these builds use A LOT of cool 3pp material - essentially mostly a best-of. The epic thing here would be that you do not require these pdfs to run these creatures. The spirit of 3pp-camaradrie breathing from these pages, sources are directly cited and if I had none of the respective sources , I'd go for more than one of them after reading this pdf.



Now if you're looking for a lesser of two evils type of scenario or want to get rid of a certain magical beast companion, look no further than the vile kinslayer - specialized in slaying pups and magical beasts, this apex predator ravenous martial artist 10 worg is a terror to behold and comes with a single-minded, sadistic intellect to supplement this brawn.



On my "Almost too awesome to not squee at" list would be the dread "W" - a bipedal dread vampire worg pistolero - at once potential savior and dread wolf-in-sheep's clothing... Now if your PCs start yawning at werewolves and the like - know a surefire way to make them stop? Have them run like crazy from the CR 20 gargantuan bipedal Gr'Zelha and grin at their surprised gasps when the huge beast starts further fortifying herself with deadly psionic powers.



Or do you require a truly nasty, yet in a strange way, honorable taskmaster? What about a schizoid, two-headed worg mystic theurge that desperately want to be turned "back" into two sisters - if, indeed the creature ever was anything but what it seems to be today and this belief is not the result of some strange delusion. Iythous the trickster is a winter wolf clever godling with ample templates applied that takes the fluff of the winter wolf on its head, giving it a distinctly Caribbean/Polynesian flair and adding essentially a hook on imminent divine ascension to the fey creature for a fickle and fearsome foe that should challenge even the most powerful of PCs. For a more straightforward, yet nonetheless terribly impressive adversary, the CR 25 Degrith the Defiler worg champion build that provides a quasi-deity, perhaps of cthulhoid origins, threat.



Want to know something funny? This guy isn't the hardest foe herein. Not by a lot. The Legendary Baywulf of the Nightvale, a lupine wight of the color of blood may sound like a nightmareish legend and have the stats to supplement this claim, but he's not the toughest brute in here either. This honor has to be split among two creatures whose statblocks are so beautiful, one's eyes might glaze over - on the one hand, there would be Lord Shong Vutok, the Boeal Inferno, an accelerated, bipedal, half-balor winterwolf primagus/champion (via talented rogue-gestalting) CR 30/MR 7, on the other hand no other than the friggin' CR 29/MR 10 coolest incarnation of the world-ending Fenris Wolf I've seen in quite a while: While Shong Vutok is awash in options, the Fenris Wolf's raw death-dealing potential and brute power more than make up for this and fit thematically with the concept.



Have I mentioned the bonus creatures at the end of the pdf, an advanced shadow and two highly complex NPC builds? Well, now I have.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf deserves special mentioning for its interior art - the cover is by far not the best or most iconic piece herein and while I've seen the rendition of one wolf before, the vast majority are original, glorious, beautiful pieces indeed that help the critters come alive. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked for your convenience.



The team of Justin Sluder and Elaine Betts have delivered one of the finest NPC-books currently available for Pathfinder here. Yes, NPCs. For while the creatures herein are monstrous, they all come with compelling stories and should be considered full-blown characters of their own right, running the gamut from friendly to nightmareish, from cool to legendary lethality levels that could even challenge a capstone mythic party. The fact that this makes use of all those cool 3pp-supplements without requiring you to own them is just another piece of awesomeness to add to this beast of a book. And then there's Rite's signature complexity regarding statblocks. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy standard builds as much as the next dude, but at best for mooks. My NPCs, my villains, they better be special.

This book delivers just that, builds that would otherwise take ages to get right, to apply the templates etc. for the distinct connoisseur of brutal beasts. This is the haute cuisine of NPC-builds. This is a book of excellent instant NPCs of the lupine variety, both friends and foes, that will be remembered by your players for a long time. Combined with the superb bang-for-buck-ratio and the cool artworks, this is a clear 5 star + seal of approval book and a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Variant Foes: Worgs and Winter Wolves (PFRPG)
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Mythic Options: Mythic Dragonrider Class Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:48:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



I've been vocal about one thing. I don't like the Dragonrider class. It's the reason I never wrote a review for it. I don't think a character should just get a draconic mount, even one as limited as that of the Dragonrider, for free as a class feature. In my book, that ought to be an achievement. And yes, I loathe all fiction that dabbles heavily in getting easy access to draconic mounts. I tried. I just can't get over it. I also won't go into details of too easy access to assisted flight at low levels. You get the idea. Now in a mythic campaign with all its over-the-topness, I can swallow some of my reservations, so let's take a look at these mythic bonus abilities for the Dragonrider!



The first page of this pdf is devoted wholly to a neat piece of prose that amps you up for playing a mythic dragonrider, whereas the second page is devoted to 10 new mythic class features for teh dragonrider: These are considered to be 1st tier universal path abilities and can be taken in lieu of a mythic feat.



The most basic ability can be taken twice - once to make the draconic steed a mythic creature, a second time to establish focus with it as a free action, getting essentially rid of one massive crutch of the class that would have me scream bloody murder in a non-mythic context, as it relaxes the chokehold on action-economy the class uses to balance its mount. Resistance to the dragon's energy type (and at 18th level, immunity), improved low light vision that even may cancel out magical darkness if the CL is below the character level and sharing mythic spells becomes possible.



Calling the dragon to one's side and healing the mount in the same action can also be achieved - and actually immediately landing in the saddle. Superior Darkvision, Blindsense and Scent also are among the new options.



Finally, sharing Spell Resistance and using mythic power to power the Dracoform ability once it's daily uses are expended complete the content.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I noticed no glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks in spite of its brevity. The cover artwork is awesome, the stock interior art okay.



Owen K.C. Stephens is a capable designer indeed and this pdf offers great options to make your dragonrider go properly mythic. And I stand by my reasoning that the class can work in a mythic context better. The content herein is solid indeed and there is not much to complain about - the options are solid, scale well and there simply is no reason to not really like this pdf. Now I've mentioned I have a bias against the class I'm aware of and try hard to treat this neutrally. So I did the next best thing when I couldn't settle on a verdict and showed this to my players. Their reaction was almost unanimously "Cool, works, not much to complain...but doesn't blow me away either." The focus on perception-based abilities, while nice, is a bit persistent for my tastes as well. Now don't get me wrong - I *love* e.g. the "see through darkness unless CL higher than your level" effects and the like - I like the *design.* But I also think that this could have used one or two truly mind-blowing in your face options that really show off how incredibly mythic and in-your-face these guys are. Being catapulted by your mount's breath weapon, aerial superiority, better dogfight etc. abilities - that kind of stuff. This is an excellently crafted pdf, but, at least for me, it lacks the spark of utter awesomeness. A must-have for fans of the Dragonrider, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Options: Mythic Dragonrider Class Options
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Mythic Minis 20: Mythic Martial Arts I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/04/2014 03:43:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look!



This Mythic Mini about martial arts provides 8 new mythic martial arts, so what do we get?



-Binding Throw: This feat's mythic version lets you grapple with binding throw 1/round as a free action and do not count as grappled, while your target still counts as grappled.



-Crushing Blow: Adds short duration stun, expend mythic power to increase AC-penalty.



-Elusive Redirection: When Using Elusive Target, you may substitute mythic power for ki and add 1/2 mythic tier to atk and damage. Solid.



-Enhanced Ki Throw: You need not expend ki to damage the target. You also may expend ki to improve your bull rushes thus executed and use mythic power to potentially daze victims. Nice.



-Improved Ki Throw:No penalty against secondary targets of Improved Ki Throw's regular application and negate penalties of targets of big thrown creatures via mythic power or affect creatures beyond your size.



-Ki Throw: Switch places with targets of ki throw, moving into just vacated square. No AoO, does not count as a five-foot-step. Affect creatures beyond your size for mythic power. Cool!



-Spinning Throw: Bull rush via the base feat as a free action, but only once per creature per round. Also receive bonus movement when successfully executing spinning throws and affect larger creatures via ki or mythic power. Smaller targets may be pummeled further via mythic power.



-Stunning Pin: Free stunning fist while using stunning pin, but only 1/round. Additionally, use mythic power to counter spellcasting/escape artist or CMB-checks to escape with stunning fist unarmed attacks. Neat - somehow reminds me of the Arkham Batman knocking out foes he's knocked down!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games 2-column full-color standard and the cover-art is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Alistair Rigg has chosen perhaps the very worst (or rather: most difficult) martial arts-feats to tackle. Throwing feats. Urgh. Grapple + Bull Rush was complicated before mythic enters the game. So yes, I was not looking forward to reviewing this one - it's quite a beast, especially since each of the throws has somewhat modified, yet logical additional options. Still, combining these feats will require a truly adept player to avoid confusion. That being said, the content per se is solid and throwing ogres etc. around is awesome. We thus remain with a solidly crafted pdf that provides exactly what's on the tin, but without the one OMG-How-Awesome-Is-That-moment. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 20: Mythic Martial Arts I
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Monstrous Humanoids
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/03/2014 03:24:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Purple Duck Storeroom is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Monstrous Physique II allows you to turn into tiny humanoids. Problem is, there aren't that many. In fact, in core, there are none. Enter this book.



So let's take a look! Gaeolings at CR 1/2 are small, furry beings that can spray blinding dirt and camouflage as dirt. Cool! CR 1 Mirelings are deadly, superbly stealthy, potentially degenerated/cursed micro-halflings that can't be detected and are adept at vanishing. And you thought certain trap-making kobolds were a nightmare to catch. Seriously, a capable DM can wreck havoc with these guys...



Also at CR 1 Nimerigar are tiny, yet deadly warriors utilizing poison while hunting even creatures of mountain lion size and above. On the very disturbing side, imagine a combination of stirges and small humanoids for the Stirgelings - yeah. The iconic imagery alone is well worth the price of admission here and I *know* I'll be using these guys.



Speaking of potentially disturbing - the Trowlings with their tiny greataxes and their regenerative qualities also make for a strange imagery - think about those guys, Gulliver-style, chopping to bits the tall folk... *shudder* On the more benevolent side, the Urslings might look like teddybears, but are actually benevolent protectors - think gummy-bears, the race.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column digest-style b/w-standard and the pdf comes bookmarked in spite of its small size - nice.



This is Purple Duck Games and author Perry Fehr at their best - no frills, cool and iconic creatures that universally have something awesome about them AND at the same time, this closes a hole in the rules? Yes, please. And take a look at the exceedingly fair price point. Believe me, you will not regret getting this one. Well worth the low costs, iconic in imagery, 5 stars + seal of approval. Two thumbs up!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Tiny Monstrous Humanoids
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The Ultimate Gladiator
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/02/2014 06:17:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate fighter class by TPK Games clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page almost blank bar one trait, so I'm counting that one as blank for a total of 37 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Gladiators represent a melee-centric class loosely based on the fighter. They receive d12, good fort- and ref-saves, full BAB progression, 2+Int skills per level, but only proficiency with light armors and shields (not tower shields) and simple and martial weapons. It should be noted that the pdf also covers rules for gladiators using piecemeal armor, which is nice to see. Gladiators treat all weapons they have proficiency in as if they had the performance weapon quality and receive bonus feats at 1st level and every even level thereafter - these must be chosen from the list of combat, performance or teamwork feats. Beyond these, there is an option for bonus feats the class receives, the flexible bonus feat granted at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, which allows for the retraining of one such feat in a relatively short duration, but only if said feat does not act as prerequisite for prestige classes etc. For those not familiar with the retraining rules (or who choose to not use them) a cool ability, for all others unfortunately rather useless, but oh well - the lack of costs and limits mean that, provided he's got the time, a gladiator may change quite flexibly over the levels.



Gladiators may also select from special talents, which are grouped in three tiers: They receive their first such talent at 2nd level and then proceed to get another one every odd level thereafter. At 7th level, tier 2 of these is unlocked, at level 13 the third tier becomes available for selection. Now beyond what one would expect, there are some of these talents that actually utilize some interesting mechanics with appropriate risk-reward-ratios: Take e.g. buckler catch, which acts as a disarm maneuver with a further +4 bonus on the roll and can only be used when wearing bucklers; However, failure at the roll means by 10 or more you receive a -2 penalty to AC until the start of the gladiator's next turn.



It should also be noted that the class makes heavy use of victory points (see the rules on performance combat for an elaboration on these) in quite a few talents - expending victory points as a kind of hero points light version, the respective mechanics are nice and provide options both for regular combat and also in the context of deadly bouts in the arena - even defeated gladiators may thus avoid the fate of the thumb down-sign. The respective abilities cover quite an array that allows builds from crowd-pleasers and performers to ruthless killers and more often than not, offers iconic, cool options - shortening grips of polearms? Check. Sharing a bonus teamwork feat with allies? Check. Making attacks with bucklers valid and switching bonuses between light/one-handed weapon and buckler? Check. Subdual damage? Yep. Faster cover via tower shields? Aye. War Paint and all the tricks you'd expect can be found herein and quite probably, a vast bunch more.



Among tier 2 talents, knocking potentially foes unconscious with critical hits is a neat idea as well. Sundering via regular attacks also is an unconventional option, thankfully balanced by action economy and minor autobuffs for successful attacks via a combo point pool also makes for an interesting option. Daily-use limited auto-healing or death-preventing temporary hitpoints, DR-reducing blows - the amount of options is interesting indeed.



I am not a friend of the design decision to allow the swatting of missiles out of the air by succeeding an opposed attack-roll, since I consider the flux of 2d20 to be too big when compared to the usual atk vs. AC. The 3rd tier talent Deep Wound is also odd - treating all max damage rolls as critical threats can be cheesed rather easily with very small weapons, shuriken etc. While the vast majority of the multitudes of talents herein is awesome and cool in some way, black sheep like these unfortunately also have made their way in here and there.



It should be noted that the FCOs here span so much more than one would expect - a whole lot of ARG-races are covered beyond the core races - alas, here some glitches have crept in as well: Ifrits get e.g. 1/5 increase to movement rate. 1/5 of what? 5 ft.? of a transition of 10 feet? No idea.



We also get new archetypes, like the blind helm fighter, the barbaric slave who may wilder in rage powers, the animal trainer gladiator, the agile blade dancer, the gloryhound champion, the sneaky criminal, the huge beast of a man (gigante - damn cool!), the gladiatrix or the quintessential survivor gladiator, the immortal. Yeah, there are 4 more archetypes beyond those I mentioned. That's variety! Over 30 feats, many of which center along the theme of gladiator combat, achievements and reputations and which really want to make you try those combat styles are provided and a vast array of traits, enough to supplement a full gladiatorial campaign, are also part of the deal.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the unfortunate weak point of this pdf - from formal minor nitpicks à la WILL save/will save inconsistencies in the text to some obvious rules-oversights here and there, some glitches have crept into this massive tome. Not many or crippling ones, but they are here to an extent that imho could have been thinned out further. Layout adheres to TPK Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes extensively and fully bookmarked and also extensively hyperlinked. Artworks range from neat stock I already knew to cool artworks I haven't seen before.



Brian Berg's Gladiator (with content by Skip Twitchwell, Joshua Slick and David Miller) admittedly hits a soft spot in my armor - I *love* the base concept and the execution, which could conceivably be mixed with e.g. RGG's Talented Fighter (and vice versa) makes for a very versatile beast of a class that has A LOT going for it. Cool combat styles and iconic moves bespeak a love of the genre and the utilization of dueling/performance combat rules is something seen all too rarely. Reading this supplement really made me want to run a gladiator-only-campaign; The class with its massive supplemental content would support enough different characters to make the experience not boring or character-wise redundant for the players, which is quite a feat to achieve - so kudos for that. And yes, I *LOVE* this class; I *LOVE* the ideas herein, and yet, I can't rate this as high as I'd like to - a competent rules-editing that irons out the few issues, a check to prevent duplicate mechanics that usually are handled differently - it's partially cosmetic stuff and here and there simply unnecessary second solutions to already existing rules that, while not rendering the class bad in any way, still manage to make it feel slightly less refined than it ought to be. There aren't many true glitches herein, but those can be found as well. Rest assured that this is not enough to net this gladiator the dreaded "thumbs down" - the book is too good for that. While I won't be joining the loudly cheering crowd, I am standing here grinning and clapping at the performance of these gladiators - well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ultimate Gladiator
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CLASSifieds: Skinwalking Shaman (Druid Alternate Class))
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/02/2014 06:05:45
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate class of the druid clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Instead of nature's bond, skinwalking shamen [sic!] can choose a domain from a limited list, but only receives the domain's powers, no bonus spells. Furthermore, the shaman is treated as a full BAB-class for a round in which he only attacks with natural weapons/unarmed strikes. This replaces nature sense. Instead of a common wildshape, skinwalking shamans learn to turn into one specific creature from a list of 8 different choices for 1 hour/level (which should probably be class level...) and at second level and every two levels thereafter, the archetype gets +1 use. Now I *assume* that both the daily number of changes and time limit fracture in as limiting factors - if the time limit resets after every change, it becomes quickly rather meaningless. A nitpick, yes, but still - clarification would be nice. On the plus-side, the lineages do come with suggested sample creatures to wild-shape into.



Now you also need to know that you can choose a lycanthropic heritage, which locks you down to one form, or go with a non-heritage skinwalker who can freely choose each time, but if you do choose a heritage, at 4th level, you are treated as +2 class levels higher for purposes of proper wildshaping. Now as much as I do like the base ability, it breaks one of the balance tenets inherent in Pathfinder that is easy to overlook - turning into small bats at 1st level allows you to bypass the prohibition against low level unassisted flight, which usually only becomes available a couple of levels later. Whether that is an issue for you (compare the flight-hex, which only allows for flight at 5th level, for example!) or not depends, but for me it does present a balance hick-up.



Instead of wild empathy, skinwalkers may influence lycanthropes. Instead of resisting nature's lure, skinwalkers learn to enhance their concentration on new moons and improved bestial prowess on full moons - nice idea, though moon phase tracking may become annoying. It's also a slight shift from the established design paradigms regarding lunar ties, which usually penalize characters at one point - though this time around, I actually don't mind this: Penalizing some days means that players will try to avoid doing anything then, which isn't fun for anyone. As far as I'm concerned: Okay, if perhaps a bit paper work intense. Now to pay for the increased physical prowess, skinwalkers only learn prepared spellcasting via wis at 4th level and only get up to 6th spell level.



High level skinwalkers get lycanthropic DR, immunity to diseases and finally, full-blown lycanthropic ascension as a capstone. As a minor downside, it should be noted that 17th level is almost a dead level, with only a level 4 spell gained - which, at this point, won't impress anyone.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are solid, if not perfect. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard ad the pdf comes hyperlinked with the good type of hyperlinks for your convenience. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Tyler Beck's Skinwalking Shaman is an interesting alternate class - one focused on melee and on paper, it doesn't look bad. Where balancing imho gets wonky is as soon as you play an heritage-less shaman - the choice and flexibility are very strong, especially seeing how many animal abilities like Trip (Ex) or Grab (Ex) usually outclass the respective feat options available for regular characters. Add to that the nerfed, but not neutered spellcasting and the full BAB when in beast form and we have a class that is too strong. Think pouncing barbarian with spellcasting. Yeah, you get why I consider this one too strong. I've seen what claw/claw/bite full BAB-characters do with opposition, even sans animal bonus abilities. Let me tell you: Not pretty. And yes, claw, claw, bite doesn't work easily here, but the animal abilities do somewhat offset that...AND you can get claws and bites via feats and races... So personally, I think this class is too strong for most groups. Then again, it is not utterly broken and while some abilities could use clarification, the overall writing is relatively solid.



My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform due to the low price and the fact that for some groups, this will work.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: Skinwalking Shaman (Druid Alternate Class))
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B18: Three Faces of the Muse
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:47:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 51 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 46 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Before we begin, I should mention that this is an adventure review and as such contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.



All right, still here? Okay, first of all, all you history and art-buffs out there, especially those with some knowledge in Renaissance art and the greats will have a field day here: Imagine a vast cathedral, where an artist called Michello, known for his superb magical crafting prowess died while making his epic fresco. Remind you of something? Yeah.



Now in a fantasy world, that wouldn't be too big of an issue - alas, the cathedral has since been haunted by strange phenomena and the artist's soul remains lost. Enter the PCs, as they explore the massive cathedral - fully mapped and coming with player-friendly maps, btw. And these renaissance-style drawings reminiscent in style and execution of DaVinci's famous drawings are simply AWESOME, even for the high standards of AAW Games.



Now while the goal is clearly defined in the resuscitation of Michello, in order to succeed, the PCs will have to brave the cathedral, which proves to be surprisingly deadly - choirs of madness-inducing allips (complete with sample insanities) and various, cool foes make for a challenging if not exceedingly lethal first part. Where the module becomes thoroughly awesome is with the second act - turns out, an asura called Aprame-Vara-Dharme, muse of Michello, has (kind of) claimed the artist's soul. Via some detective work and clues, the PCs will find that taking the pigments and completed brush of Michello to finish the fresco.



Upon completion, the PCs have to venture into the thus opened demiplane in one of the most iconic scenes I've read in a while and brave the dangers of the Elysian fields and vanquish diverse, weird threats and finally the asura to free the soul of Michello. The module also provides an xp-per-encounter run-down and a new item as well as statblocks for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG for the challenges herein.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a drop-dead, gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, testament to Joshua Gullion's prowess and talents - they will be sorely missed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the cartography by author Michael Allen is superb and fits the module's theme.



Wow. Even by AAW Games' standards, this module is one glorious blast - the encounters are inspired, the theme is uncommon, the hints and nudges towards real life are there, but unobtrusive and not distracting at all and the added twist of the fate of Michello and the cool villain make for an overall cool experience. Now if you've read "Gallery of Evil" - this is essentially superior in just about every way. It's smarter, the encounters are more diverse and the second act is just weird in all the right ways. Author Michael Allen delivers in spades here - this is a great module and worth every cent. We need more unique modules of this quality - 5 stars + seal of approval: A module not only for art and history buffs, but also for everyone who looks for a thematic change of pace and truly iconic imagery.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B18: Three Faces of the Muse
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Paladins of Porphyra
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:41:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages, so let's take a look, shall we?



In Porphyra, paladins are servants of the NewGods and thus, we get archetypes for specific deities - Aleria, the love of life, for example, gets a paladin that receives an modified steed that is under constant pass without a trace, may speak to animals and recieves at higher levels an aura that severely penalizes all melee attacks executed nearby her - including her own. Surprisingly cool one! Codionic Knights of Gerana are more martial and inclined towards intimidation, not diplomacy. They also may shield others and partially replace mercies with power attack and cleave and gets a menacing aura at higher levels. Once again, nice.



Ithreia's Order of the Gyrfalcon (which strangely lists a patron-prerequisite the former two entries lacked) learn to deal cold damage via lay on hands (tied to uses per day and in damage-potential, to class level) and generally can be considered a more aquatic type of paladin. Solid. Now antipaladins following the apocalyptic deity Mâl receive a concentration-disrupting anti-arcane aura and sicken foes hit by their weapons and communicate with just about everything -to corrupt it. Again, neat. The Dreamcatchers of Neria become immune to illusions at 2nd level - the ability can be suppressed as a swift action. *sigh* To what does this immunity extend? Simply seeing through everything? Does it require interactions? Only extend to spells cast upon the paladin? Does e.g. mirror image work against the paladin? Even in exchange for divine grace, potentially a VERY powerful ability that imho needs further clarification. Apart from that, the archetype's prophecy/dream-focus is neat.



Rajuk Amon-Gore's Deathdancers gets bonus feats and command undead and at high levels dance of thousand cuts as a spell-like ability. Toma Thule's Darksiegers don't get detect evil and replace smite with a constant to atk/damage-bonus and receive bonus feats instead of mercies and get improved defensive fighting. Rules that align these paladins with the unorthodox paladin-rules from "Strategists & Tacticians" are also provided.



Next would be a total of 7 oaths - and these are interesting: What about an oath TO addiction for antipaladins that results in a poisonous aura and resistance to harmful substances? An anti-chaos oath? An oath that makes an antipaladin a herald of conflagration and fire, allowing you to radiate damaging heat? An oath that makes you a herald of light? One against deforestation (which is replete with roleplaying potential galore) - including the ability to quench fires and blunt weapons? Sons of Kaliban that swear the Oath of Submersion can be considered somewhat like the folk from the iron isles in "A Song of Ice and Fire", only with added swim speed and the deadly power to smite land-dwellers. Antipaladins of Korufo the Shadow may misdirect, blur and are masters of subterfuge.



We also get two new spells, one to detect faithful and one to imbue others with addictions (nasty!) - and we also get a new drug, the dread daemon seed as well as level 9 paladin and a sample level 8 antipaladin. As a nitpick - both miss their CR-ratings. As icing on the fluff, we get two awesome battle-hymns - the Dirge of the Hands of Doom and the Song of the Righteous Warriors - all lyrics ready to recite. Two thumbs up for this cool fluff!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can still be considered good, but aren't perfect -I noticed a couple of minor glitches, but no significant ones. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested, extensive bookmarks.



Perry Fehr is a wildcard author for me - he can write great fluff, but his crunch fluctuates wildly between the awesome and the sloppy. I'm not sure whether it's due to a daily shape of author and editor/developer or some other weird phenomenon, but that's irrelevant anyways. What I'm trying to say is - I did not expect to be wowed by this book. And yes, the abilities of the paladins are a bit on the conservative side here, but the wording of the crunch is actually solid, really solid. The same holds true for the oaths - and all the rest herein. The oaths are evocative and fill important niches, the sample characters are nice and the hymns are the icing on the cake. While the minor glitches would usually make me good for a 4 star rating, the great fluff of the songs and the mostly awesome oaths just wouldn't make that a just verdict. hence, I will settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 - author Perry Fehr delivers here.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paladins of Porphyra
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Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2014 06:39:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little supplement by Storm Bunny Studios is 4 pages long, 3/4 of a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3 1/4 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this little pdf with a short origin-myth of the new race of the Usa-Chan - who are essentially bunny people in the style of Usagi Yojinbo (and if that does not ring any bells, google it!) and ties it neatly in with an alternate origin legend for the kitsune.



Usa-Chan get their own subtype, +2 Dex and Str, -2 Int, +2 to climb, -2 Disable Device & Sleight of Hand, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, get a base speed of 40 feet, always treat as having a running starts, may move freely through any undergrowth and 1/day as an immediate action, these guys can enter a rage for +2 to Str and Con and will saves, -1 to AC, maintained for con-rounds.



As far as FCOs are concerned, we get those for barbarian, cleric, druid, monk, ranger and oracle and we also get alternate racial traits: Spell-like abilities (disrupt undead, guidance, stabilize, protection from evil OR detect poison, know direction, longstrider, pass without a trace) 1/day, +2 to acrobatics, no penalty to AC when raging, better shadow-bloodline/darkness domain cha-score/CL, two primary natural attacks at 1d3 or +4 to CMD versus bull rush and trip.



As a variant, some Usa-Chan are born with Black Furs - these are small, get +2 Cha and Wis, -2 Con, chooses two skills to always be class skills AND gets +3 to both, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, +2 to climb, -2 to Sleight of Hand and Disable Device, normal speed AND burrow speed 20 feet and can move unimpeded through undergrowth. They also get their own FCOs for the cleric, monk, oracle, rogue, sorceror and witch-classes.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to ana easy-to-read, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with a drop-dead gorgeous piece of line-drawing b/w that is almost worth the price alone. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but doesn't need them at this length. The pdf comes with a second, hyperlinked version that sports the good, unobtrusive type of hyperlinks.



This is one of *those* races. On the one hand, the writing by Cleveland English and Jaye Sonia is awesome, the races are high-concept and cool. But damn, are they BLOATED AND OVERPOWERED. These guys mop the floor with just about all ARG-races. Yes, that bad. They are geared towards classes in stronger ways than the races of Rhûne (and this setting includes races that are literally made for certain purposes!) and overall feel like a typical Mary-Sue-race. One has this concept one loves, adores and all the cool stuff a character of this race ought to be able to do. Well, it's NOT the job of a race to do that. What can't be done via classes, feats etc. - THAT is what a race should do. And this one fails. The power is beyond tieflings, aasimar etc. - far beyond them. The superb mobility (Hey, let's have them have the most useful power of a friggin' druid in wilderness at low levels and devalue this class choice!), burrow speed at first level. URGH. Remember, that means EVERYONE of the Usa-Chan can do these things. To quote Sam & Max: Let's all bow to our lagomorph overlords.

Another thing that irks me to no end would be the lack of an age, height and weight table: How old do these guys get? What branches can sustain them? Don't know. Finally, if you're halfway adept at Japanese, you'll know that -chan as a suffix denotes something cute and is usually used in a patronizing way or to refer to e.g. a cute girl, a sister etc. For guys, you'd usually use -kun to achieve the same end, unless you really wanted to emasculate them. I know that in my game, my players would never, ever stop complaining about this, but let's face it - in the presence of these overpowered races, that is a nitpick, though one I felt compelled to mention since some people might be annoyed to no end by it.



Personally, I only got fluff out of this book. I wanted to like it and ended up loathing the overpowered crunch. I'd strongly discourage all but the races-wise most high-powered games from using these fellows. The fluff is glorious, though, as are the production values and the artwork and bang-for-buck-ratio save this from being trashed to smithereens by yours truly. Since I have to take all of these into account as well as the possibility that you just might happen to be looking for this insane power-level, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded slightly up by a margin to 3. If you want to get this for a balanced race and not the fluff, though - steer clear.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Storm Bunny Presents: Blessed and Hunted - The Story of the Usa-Chan
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Prepare for War - Basic Training (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 02:55:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 42 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this module is unconventional - based on Amora Game's Player's Guide, the PCs are regular average Joes and Janes of the Thaddean Empire who have just enlisted in the military to serve their grand empire. Hence, the structure of this module diverges vastly from what one would expect and slaughters quite an array of sacred cows:



first of all, it uses RGG's apprentice-level character rules (and provides all necessary bits and pieces) - this means you start this module as a level 0 nobody. Secondly, and more importantly - this module is by its very nature necessarily a railroad. Think of basic military boot-camp-style intense training and you're pretty close to what the PCs will go through in here - this is a railroad by design and the restricted choices indeed are part of the module's very design.



So I'm not really spoiling the basics when I'm giving you a brief synopsis of the plot and tell you that the PCs will have to do push-ups, properly reply to military naming structure and conditioning. The training by Sgt. Lithgow in the notorious Compound 13 (fully mapped, btw.) includes not only checking the knowledge of the empire's religion, but also obstacle courses and climbing walls - most of which btw. are depicted in complex skill challenges. Now the interesting thing here would be, that special achievements can result in specific traits - doing well at these challenges will reflect in your PC's capabilities. Conversely, sucking or just refusing outright may result in your character earning drawbacks. Beyond diverse skill challenges for just about every skill and various story feats can be gained this way as well - take e.g. one that allows you to not provoke AoOs with unarmed strikes - not as strong as proper improved unarmed strike, but damn cool as a bonus.



Add to that formation training (with rather cool tactical benefits), weapon training etc. and we have a cool training - even before infiltrating a village of a drunken goblin clan and extracting their leader as a kind of covert ops test and the surprising finale that hints at the things to come, this module proved surprisingly interesting.



The pdf provides full stats for all characters, a DM-check-list for achievements/drawbacks and formations and 4 pages of full-color player-friendly versions of the maps.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - I didn't notice any significant glitches that would have spoiled the module. The layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column, full-color standard and the pdf's maps are solid, and working, but not particularly beautiful. Artworks are okay. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a comfort detriment the pdf didn't need imho.



Designer Greg LaRose lies to us on the first page "This adventure is going to suck. Just quit reading." You can read these words on the first page and they're wrong - while military training is surely no cakewalk and not exciting in the traditional sense due to the rigid structure the module imposes, it turned out to be anything but sucky. In fact, especially DMs who have a hard time with rp-dialogue improvisation will marvel at the exceedingly detailed read-aloud text, which comes with blue text for regular read-aloud text, red text for speech directly addressing the PCs - which is nice to have a visual cue for the instructor-voice. Indeed, the dialogues and instructions are exceedingly detailed and provide ample help for the DM.



In fact, I thought the respective skill challenges would be much more boring, the meta-plot and characters seeping through and suffusing the experience rather in rather cool ways. Now it's been quite some time since the release of this module and while it, at the time of me writing this review, is not certain whether we'll ever get the follow up modules, this one can easily be taken as a nice beginner's module to depict a party in service to some elite organization or military - reskinning is all it takes, so yes, this remains relevant.



This module is gutsy indeed - in structure, in daring to be different. And while it will not be for everyone, if you ever wanted a great "becoming heroes"-module that takes the form of a quasi-military intense training, then this will be exceedingly awesome for you. This is many things - unconventional, brave, different - but it does not, I repeat, it does not suck. While not perfect due to a couple of glitches, the non-too-impressive maps and the lack of bookmarks, it is an innovative, cool module that dares to be different and with its cool ideas (I *want* more formations and see them in battle!), I sincerely hope that we'll one day see the follow-up modules. Until then, I remain with a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prepare for War - Basic Training (PFRPG)
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CLASSifieds: Shaman of Humanity (Druid Archetype)
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2014 02:51:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This druid archetype clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages, so let's take a look!



The shaman of humanity is a druid archetype that is available exclusively to those with human ancestry (including half-breeds). They alter their proficiencies and may actually wear metal armor, but also receive slightly diminished spellcasting. Their empathy only applies to domesticated animals or those under the effects of the anthropomorphic animal effect. Unlike the regular effect, though, the shaman learns to cast this as a spell-like ability that lasts for quite some time on his companion and said companion takes on the proficiencies of the shaman of humanity, which, for multi-class characters, may easily be exploited. While I get the design-intent, just taking on the proficiencies of the shaman of humanity class would have been enough, especially since the animal retains non-limb-based natural attacks such as gore when transformed by this ability - generally, a nice change from the spell. Also nice: Barding and armor and the effects upon transformation are covered (In short: Barding changes, armor donned while anthropomorphic does not), as are suggested lists for summoned weapons for anthropomorphic animals.

The shaman's animal companion gets quite a power-upgrade in the guise of a selection of rather nasty bonus feats - for which the animal needn't fulfill the prerequisites. This caveat makes quite a difference and not one I'm comfortable with in all cases, to be honest.



Summoning anthropomorphic animals via nature's ally is fine with me, though honestly, it could have been worded a bit tighter - as phrased, the ability implies that summoning nature's ally is only freely anthropomorphized when cast spontaneously. Why not provide some small benefit for actually preparing the spell? And yes, that's a nitpick and not something I'll hold against the pdf.



High level shamans of humanity may make anthropomorphic animals permanently anthropomorphic and protect one whole community (!!!) via mass sanctuary. Tying that to the settlement size, imposing a strict limit and requiring a very high level means that I actually really like this one. (And no, the truly vast sprawls can't be protected thus... Still, DMs should take care that not too many of these shamans populate one's world...) The alternate class, alas, lacks a proper capstone.



We do, however, get two feats, one that allows summoned anthromorphs to come with martial weapons and use them, the other rendering their attacks magical.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, I didn't notice significant issues. Layout adheres to Fat Goblin Games' two-column, full color standard and the pdf comes hyperlinked with the good type of hyperlink and has no bookmarks.



Tyler Beck provides an interesting alternate class, all centered around making one spell work - and it succeeds at that. On the other hand, the class feels a bit thin, concept-wise, to me. Is that all there is to humanity, making animals walk upright and shoving weapons in their hands? Don't get me wrong, that's cool and all, but still, I do feel like this class had more potential: Take the community protector aspect, the low level domestic animal tricks and we have areas almost never covered. What about teaching more tricks, and faster to animals? Making domestic creatures stronger? lending some of human adaptability to non-human races? All of this falls somewhat by the wayside, when it needn't have. The companion with the extensive feat-selection proved, in-game, a tad bit too strong in playtesting, at least for my tastes. The ability to ignore all prerequisites for the bonus feats is nasty and their int of 3 means they no longer require tricks to handle. With a slight nerfing of the companion in favor of a more diverse skill-set (community focus sooner, not as powerful, for example...), this class would have rocked hard - as written, it feels a bit niche, one-dimensional and slightly too strong. In the end, this is not a bad choice, but neither did it blow my mind or could be considered sans its flaws. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars - a solid, perhaps too tightly focused class.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CLASSifieds: Shaman of Humanity (Druid Archetype)
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Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/27/2014 03:01:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of how-to-use/introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become the tradition with this series, we kick off with a kind of supplemental content appropriate for the theme of the issue, this time in the guise of 8 feats to expand your aquatic combat options for mythic creatures (and if you need further oomph for non-mythic aquatic foes, check Alluria Publishing's Cerulean Seas-books - they're awesome!) -sporting the very much required swim-by-attack (both regular and mythic), faster swim speed (potentially powered by mythic power for impressive bursts), the ability to share breath with land-dwellers (now that one's iconic!) and feats that make you count as having a running start from water to e.g. smash on foes and superior flanking options in the water make sure that these feats are actually awesome and should be considered non-optional for DMs looking for more tools for mythic aquatic foes (or players!).



But you're here for the monsters, aren't you? At CR 4/MR 1 Bunyips essentially get an amped up version - their roar for example can deafen foes. AT CR 15/MR 6, the Clockwork Leviathan gets a reflexive ability to temporary counter the electricity vulnerability it has via mythic power - damn cool! But that's not all - the Legendary Games masterminds went all-out on this beauty - what about a kind of ionic reactor, including meltdown upon its destruction? Deadly grinding? Immunities conveyed by orichalcum alloys? A breathw eapon? This one is so glorious! Two thumbs up!



At CR 5/MR 2 Devilfish may emit clouds of deadly fiendishly infused blood...cool upgrade, especally considering how low level critetrs don't have as much room to maneuver in. The CR 11/MR 4 Dragon turtle may execute AoE-bull-rushes (YEAH!!!) and a shell that may deflect rays et al - AWESOME! The CR 12/MR 5 Draugr Crew is awesome - a type of troop, these guys get ship-based spawn-making, press gang mortals and generally makes for one of the most awesome creatures I've seen so far in the Mythic Monsters series - not even the relic "XX Melee damage is unusually low" that was forgotten in the melee line does not in any way impede my enjoyment f this beast of a creature. This is on par in creativity with what one usually sees from Rite Publishing - and yes, I think that is a compliment.



At the lowest end of the spectrum, CR 3/MR 1 Incutilis may not just puppeteer the dead - they paralyze and animate foes as lacedon-like creatures that nonetheless aren't undead. Now *THAT*, ladies and gentlemen, is how to make a low CR-creature feel mythic and awesome. Two thumbs up! The CR 22/MR 9 Kraken is a beast I was looking forward to - and what can I say, the beast can throw creatures from ships and even make the friggin' sea TURN TO BLOOD. That inflicts bleed damage. Fans of the Scarred Lands - you need this! NOW!



The CR 4/MR 1 Seaweed Leshy is adept at strangling foes by turning into a kind of Sargasso-variant of assassin vines - and comes with bonus information on how to grow these guys yourself. Awesome! CR 5/MR 2 Mythic Sea Hags not only gain great hexes (by taking the Salt Wife trope -do some research on the term and e.g. the Farese Islands for great alternate origins for these beasts...) and a cursed gaze, they also are masters of their own hexed harpoons. The CR 15/MR 6 Sea Serpents get superb bursts of speed AND optional nondetection, making tehm superb hit-and-run predators and they also learn to generate deadly vortexes. Two thumbs up! (Also: Nice 1-page artwork depicting it!)



At CR 6/MR 2, the Selkie is an incredibly persuasive creature, but when compared to the other creatures herein, falls slightly short of its potential. The CR 17/MR 7 Great White Whale is intelligent and superb at smashing vessels...and call me a nerd, I don't care - I would have loved a proper nod, ability-wise, to Moby Dick here - a curse of obsessions, a comment on the nature of wrath, something like that in the guise of an ability. And no, I won't hold it against the pdf that it did not indulge in my need for literary allusions.



At CR 8/MR 3, the new creature herein is the Jorganth. Oh boy - first of all - the one-page artwork of this beast is one of the finest artworks I've seen in ages - a vast, eel-like, tentacle studded deep-sea predator aberration from the oceans of the lands of the fey. Electrical fields, capability to emit deadly beams, reflexive attacks and the ability to create will-o'-the-deep servants and feed on fear - this creature is glorious in its statblocks and the superb full-blown write-up superbly supplements one of the best creatures I've seen in quite a while, even within the exalted ranks of the new creatures Legendary Games provides for the Mythic Monster series. The full-blown fluff that accompanies it makes it oh so much more awesome and I stand by the claim that Paizo's bestiaries would be so much more awesome if they all featured proper full-blown write-ups like this one does. This beast made me come up with 3 adventures while reading its entry - without trying in any way. That good.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed one relic, that's not enough to rate this down. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with 2 original full-page artworks, both of high quality. The pdf is hyperlinked for your convenience, but has no bookmarks, which is an unnecessary comfort-detriment in my book.



Jason Nelson and Alistair Rigg have surpassed themselves herein - the creatures are so cool, so iconic, I don't ever want to use their non-mythic equivalents ever again. Ever since the advent of Mythic Adventures, I've used the rules to make bosses more challenging in my game (they tend to get killed in 2 rounds or less otherwise...) and these beings just blow my mind. The unique, cool abilities this pdf offers for so many creatures just can be considered glorious, even before the new creature, which is just the icing on the awesome cake. This installment, in spite of the lack of bookmarks, is so far the apex of the series for me and is well-worth 5 stars + seal of approval and should be considered a must-buy for anyone running aquatic adventures - this pdf is worth the asking price for ability-scavenging alone. That good. Get it.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Sea Monsters
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Village Backdrop: Refuge
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/27/2014 02:58:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Village Backdrop clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, by now you know that Village Backdrops come with full settlement statblocks, do you? Well, now you do. ;) The village also features information on the village's economy, customs, nomenclature etc. and provides information on movers and shakers. Beyond that, short tables of rumors and events to enliven the place work as neat additions for the DM to develop into adventures.



Okay, let's get something out of the way - this village is a pirate's haven on a tiny, crescent-shaped island with a volcano on top. The local consortium's ships sail out there and thus, whispers and rumors as well as events supplement this playstyle - the population is dependent on trade and piracy - and thus, this settlement indeed provides refuge for the hunted and unwanted and whether your PCs are there due to being hunted themselves or due to seeking someone - their stay will not be pleasant. Danger modifier +30. Yeah. Ouch.



That being said, if the set-up wasn't ample clue enough, this village *BEGS* to be inserted into a Rzaor Coast-campaign - right down to the CR 4 sample character, who happens to be, you guessed it, a were-shark.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf's b/w-cartography (of which you can download player-friendly versions on Raging Swan's homepage for free!) is just as awesome as I've come to expect from the series. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Greg Marks delivers a village that simply BEGS to be included into a given Razor Coast or Freeport campaign - whether as outpost, as competition, this village backdrop can actually stuff a certain plot-hole in one of the Heart of the Razor-adventures. Alternatively, If you're looking for a spot to test the waters (haha!) whether your players would enjoy such an environment, this makes for a great RC-light-version. This is a glorious, fun village - deadly, cool and extremely useful, this is worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Refuge
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Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 05:03:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this supplement with a short piece in-character prose and continue this approach in the respective discussions of magi throughout the book, as written by one member of the Forbidden Mantis, formerly of the Beautiful Silk Tigers -and indeed, in lavish, captivating prose, we are introduced to the respective magi traditions of the diverse factions of the Lands of the Jade Oath. And indeed, the blend of arcane and martial feels as if predestined for a proper in-depth look in such a setting and here and there, the combinations of the schools, factions and abilities just rock - take the Jade Griffon Guard, who may, via a new arcana, deliver spellstrikes via their mounts, offering more storytelling potential via these traditions than one would expect - indeed, the wealth of organizations and ideas in the discussions of these alone suffices to power at least one, potentially more campaigns set either in the Lands of the Jade Oath or similar Asian settings.



Now I can't get into the awesomeness of the fluff in detail sans bloating the review beyond all compare, but rest assured -it is glorious indeed and writing-wise actually quite a step upwards from the HotJO-main book. The pdf goes on to provide favored class options for magi and all the uncommon races provided in the Heroes of the Jade Oath setting.



Now the first archetype would be the curse-eater, who receives the misfortune oracle curse and may identify curses, spellblights etc. This curse essentially increases the botch-range anyone nearby experiences - think of the class as a kind of herald of misfortune akin to TPK Games' Malefactor. As a damn cool idea, any beneficial spell cast on an ally that is 3rd level or higher carries either a curse or a spellblight with it - and no, these cannot be beneficial -DM-control is maintained and ensured. Now at 5th level, items in possession of the curse-eater become cursed and infected with spellblights as well. Now the catch is - as long as the curse eater wears his/her white ceremonial mask, spellblights and curses don't affect the character. Now beyond that, the curse eater may, of course, eat curses - and that's easy to screw up, mechanics-wise, especially since the curse eating, while requiring the expenditure of , spells, potentially regains arcane points. Alas, I found no way to break this via curses or hexes and at higher levels, the ability even can be used as an immediate action.



The archetype also features 6 new, specialized arcana - from acting as a magnet for curses and hexes and the like to opting to gain temporary DR instead of a point of arcane pool, temporary SR versus curses, locate creatures via the scent their magic items and spells leave on them and even steal prepared (or otherwise available/ spells known) spells from target foes temporarily - awesome! THIS is how archetypes should imho be - this one is so damn full of style and wrestles with highly complex and hard to phrase abilities managing to properly pull of the concept of curse-eating sans breaking the narrative potential inherent in these hazards. Wow. Seriously, one glorious beast.



Next up would be the Lantern Warrior, who gets diminished spellcasting and loses spell recall, but gets access to a cavalier's order and at 4th level, also the challenge class feature. Nice. The next archetype would be the martial alchemist, who may utilize craft (alchemy) analogue to a full-blown alchemist - including extracts! No spells, as you can imagine, but a modified list that thankfully includes crucial classic of the magus spell-list. At 4th level, he even gains access to a discovery, but, of course, mutagens are out of the question. 4 exclusive arcana that include fast drinking, poison resistance and use and swifter poisoning are also part of the deal - one glorious take on the swordsman with the magic bottles/travelling apothecary/swordfighter.



The Menmonic Warrior gets access to 8 unique arcana - from tongues per arcana point expenditure to a confusion inducing touch, a wildcard teamwork feat (changeable as a standard action), a defensive prescience, better skill checks by delving into the akashic collective unconscious, temporary blindsight or inciting fear with a touch. High-level mnemonic warriors may even induce terribly crippling pain with a mere touch. At 5th level, they gain an adaptive feat they may change via the expenditure of arcane pool points. Here, a minor glitch has crept in - the end of the ability specifies "he gets another adaptive feat at 5th level and another one at 17th level." -The 5th and "another" don't work here - at 5th level, the ability is gained in the first place. At 11th level, delving into the collective unconsciousness for a selective amount of times per day is possible for minor auto-buffing. The archetype does pay for this flexibility with 3 bonus-feats, though. Once again, a glorious beast of an archetype, full of iconic fluff and cool crunch, but also one slightly on the strong end of the spectrum - the adaptive feats are powerful indeed, but at least they require the expenditure of finite class resources.



The Threadcaster has diminished spellcasting and imbues thread with arcane pool points to make mere thread into a lethal, terribly sharp weapon - through which the threadcaster may also deliver spells. 4 unique arcana further enhance the tricks the threadcaster has up her sleeve (haha) -using threads to supplement her acrobatics, climbing and flight, better entangling and grappling spells, dominating foes via a touch (puppetmaster-style) and whispering wind can be found among her tricks They may also spontaneously create snare traps with the threads (with or without a leash). Web of Defense is also glorious - by setting threads in the threadcasters square, she may increase her defenses and even generate a chance foes become grappled. This archetype is awesome in so many ways it almost hurts - all those iconic spider-themed ninja and characters you know from anime and WuXia-movies, all those deadly thread-users -FINALLY a way to play that! AWESOME! And yes, diminished spellcasting, less armor proficiencies and no knowledge pools feel like appropriate trade-offs. I NEED to try this one out.



The Warrior of Fortune is also awesome in many a way, gaining access to "improbable" abilities from Rite's glorious luckbringer class as a kind of specialized arcana, spending arcana instead of moments of chance to power the respective arcana. Now while all the eligible arcana are provided (often with fluff-descriptions of the respective abilities!), here I can muster a nitpick - the abilities don't explicitly state the amount of points or arcana they require, though a default of one can be assumed.



As a bonus for those using the rather cool sutra-casting rules from "Sutra Magic", we get the new sheathe sutra that can actually temporarily make objects akin to bags of holding. The two spells also rock, with one creating a temporary bond of life between two characters that allows one to save those reduced below 1 hp by sacrificing their own vitality, whereas the second one can turn the tide of yin and yang by turning natural 20s into fumbles/failures.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed next to no glitches in this pdf. The pdf adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column, full-color standard and is easy on the printer in grayscale. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked and the artworks provided are copious and diverse in style, but also stylish, thematically fitting and nice - and I haven't seen them in other publications - kudos for the neat art.



Frank Carr has so far been mostly prominent with his work on Arcana Evolved, but this pdf is either testament to his exceedingly quick mastery of the system or the impressive editing and development prowess of Søren K. Thustrup. Either way, I did not expect to like this book. Once you've read as many magus archetypes as I have, you get bored easily. You get the "been there, done that"-feeling -fast. This books avoids this trap by actually being a good read. Seriously, even if you don't plan on using it - the prose is captivating enough to carry the book on its own, the diverse organizations meaning that there is so much going on, so much to scavenge storytelling-wise, that you just WANT to read this. If you're even remotely interested in Asian WuXia/WuShu-style setting. Now admittedly, this fluff takes up quite some space, but it is space well used and not something I'd consider a downside. Now the crunch is what I dreaded - and was absolutely WRONG to do so: Not a single one of the archetypes herein is bland or boring; I haven't seen even one of these done before in this manner. The Threadcaster and a couple of other archetypes herein have to wrestle with rather complex abilities , wording-wise, and actually manage to get them right. Furthermore, the supplemental material, whether they be spells, the sutra, the luckbringer-crossover (which does not require you owning the luckbringer to use) - all of these conspire to make this pdf actually one that I WANT to use.



These days, getting me excited about an archetype book is hard; Getting one in front of me that actually makes me get pen and paper and immediately make a character - now that is even rarer. This pdf did exactly that. THRICE. While I'm still on the fence about the wildcard-style feats of the mnemonic warrior, the lost feats proved to in-game to be a harsher penalty than expected on the paper: It's essentially the pay-off of depth versus flexibility and I'm game for that. This book surprised me in the most positive of ways. A highly-recommended must-have for fans of the magus, WuXia, the Lands of the Jade Oath or simply those enjoying complex archetypes that are more than just abilities, that live and breathe and...inspire. That's the word. Inspiring. This pdf is glorious in all the right ways and hence receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magus of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
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Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2014 04:58:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This racial supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what are the Xaolings? If the name wasn't ample clue - they're beings infused with or sired by the essence of Limbo and its chosen caretakers, the Proteans. As such, their looks are extremely varied and the chaotic influx is also represented in the (thankfully present) age, height and weight-table with massive variances in maximum age. Nice! Beyond the usual takes on relationships with other races, the suggestions for looks here would be awesome - elves with slithering, serpentine shadows, slitted pupils that change colors - quite a few neat ideas here. And yes, there also is information on nomenclature etc.



Racial trait-wise, Xaolings get different heritages - those descendant from Naunet receive+2 Dex and Con, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, 1/day + 1/2 class level to damage, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5 and count their cha as +2 for the purposes of the aberrant, maestro and protean bloodlines. Xaolings bred from Imentesh get +2 to Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat all sorc-spells of caster level 1 and 2 at CL +2 if they have the aberrant, maestro or protean bloodline and may, as a standard action 1 min/level change shape, gaining low-light vision, scent and swim speed 30 feet. Weirdly, the ability specifies also that the race gets darkvision 60 feet, which it already has - a glitch. This one feels slightly too strong for my conservative tastes, but isn't yet broken.



Xaolings of Keketar descent get -2 Dex, +2 Wis and Cha, darkvision 60 ft, +2 to bluff and escape artist, acid, sonic and electricity resistance 5, treat their class level as +2 for the purposes of level-based calculations of domain abilities from the liberation, madness or trickery domain and its subdomains or for the purposes of the dark tapestry or outer rift "mnysteries." They also get a touch attack that sickens a target for 1d4 rounds sans save. All Xaolings are native outsiders.



We also get 5 alternate racial traits - better stealth, +2 to Craft and Disable Device, natural armor +1 in lieu of energy resistances or +2 to swim and fly are okay. Getting constrict and a reduced movement for just the skilled racial trait feels excessive to me. I'm not a fan of granting playable races the powerful monster abilities. We also get FCOs for Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Magus, Oracle, Rogue, Sorceror and Witch.



We also are introduced to two new racial archetypes - the Chaos Rager, who deals additional damage on critical hits against lawful targets and replenishes rounds of rage when criting while in rage. And yes, this can be bag of kitten'd with a high-crit-fishing build at higher levels - the more attacks you have, the better the chance that you manage to score more than one crit per round, especially since they crit more easily against lawful targets. They also get better DR and a deflection-bonus. I'll be honest, this rubs me the wrong way. I don't like specialized "bane of creature type x"-archetypes or classes - any specialization beyond the extent of the ranger will result in either the player feeling like they wasted the choice (if not enough target creatures show up) or the DM feeling somewhat annoyed. Add to that the *exceedingly minor* kitten-failure and we have an archetype that is okay, but nothing to write home about. The cleric archetype, the Singer of the Manifold Wyrm receives only one domain from a limited list, only one proficiency (in her deities' favored weapon), but instead gains a chaotic-themed channel effect that automatically BOTH heals non-lawful creatures AND damages lawful creatures, but only at d4 and up to a maximum of 10d4, but also may impose negative conditions on eligible targets with fewer HD than the singer. They also receive a voidworm familiar. Okay, I guess, but once again - not a big fan, mainly because it does not feel like "Limbo" to me - the d4 delivers a relatively low fluctuation, the dual, alignment-based channel is okay if that type of mechanic floats your boat, but honestly, I'm not sold on the archetype.



We also get 9 racial feats - gaining backlash to attempts to influence you with mind-affecting abilities, 1/day roll twice on an ability/skill-check (+1/day per 5 character levels) unless you roll a natural 1, a kind of lesser fortification, +1 to damage and atk vs. lawful foes - those are okay, if not too inspired. Getting a prehensile tail on the other hand is nice (even though you'll have seen that before), but gaining natural flight, even in armor, makes for a cool feat - especially since the level restriction maintains the base-line for unassisted flight, as the feat requires at least 7th level. What's really cool is the option to 1/day announce prior to making the save to ignore one magic item effect, SP or SU to which SR usually would apply - now that is mind over matter and a unique trick. Compared, gaining blindsense 30 ft. at 10th level is okay. Now whimsical spell (metamagic) is one of those feats that could have been awesome, but isn't. You have a 50% chance to boost CL by +1. If you don't boost it, you instead reduce it by -1. This is further increased by +/-1 at fourth level and every 4 levels thereafter. GENERALLY, I love the scaling, chaotic theme here and it ties in neatly with the race's theme. However, at the same time, this unpredictable spell can neuter your crucial cast and requires +1 spell-level. And it costs a feat-slot. Yes, the effects are powerful and flavorful and I want to like this one, but the execution feels a tad bit too weak for my tastes. It's a good thing that the appropriate metamagic rods can be found among the new magic items, for there, the feat can shine -though I wished the mundane, lesser and greater versions of the rod had additional properties to set them apart - this gripe is cosmetic, though.



The False Keketar's crown provides benefits for chaotic wearers, penalties for lawful wearers and we also et a nice staff featuring new spells (more on them below). The Ring of the Smirking Keketar is interesting-- 1/day, the wearer can fail a non-harmless save against a save of a spell of a creature of at least 1/2 HD and the spell must be at least 1st level. If the character survives, the ring gains a charge. The character may expend a charge to reroll a save, 2 to reroll a critical failure. What keeps this from failing the "bash me" test would be the max limit of 3 charges the ring can hold.



The new spells are interesting, idea-wise - Chaotic Protoplasm can glue the target to one spot, rendering them unable to move and entangled while also dealing minor acid damage - per se nice, as is the chaotic duration of 1d3+1/round per 2 levels, though the utter lack of a skill-check DC or str-DC to free oneself makes the spell utterly op for first level. The same holds true for the level 4 acid fireball-like spell that AoE glues targets sans means of escaping. There is also a spell that nets a +1 luck bonus to atk, damage, saves and skill-checks. SNORE. A howl that confuses targets and a confusing babble are nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I didn't notice significant glitches that detracted from my ability to understand the presented content. Layout adheres to RGG's two-column full-colored standard and the pdf comes with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes hyperlinked and fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Todd Stewart delivers a per se rather cool race of chaotic native outsiders and the tie-in with the new Protean mythology works well. The base races, while a tad bit too geared towards specific roles for my tastes (especially the last), are more than solid and the alternate racial traits help customize the race. Now that may be me...but overall, the Xaolings didn't feel that chaotic to me. While the fluff mentions quite some varieties in the look of the race, a slight more diversity (perhaps with a random element?) would have been rather nice to see. This is me complaining at a high level, though. Generally, I think I'd allow these races even in my very conservative game, so that's a good thing.

Now where I feel the pdf stumbles (but does not fall), is in its supplemental content - the archetypes don't really do anything interesting (though YMMV, as always) for me and don't tie in with the three suites of racial abilities. Where are the mutations? The bodily flux? the tie-in to the distinct, daily racial abilities? The feats provide a filler here and there while generally being solid. Magic Items and Spells can be considered solid as well, though especially the spells, I'm sorry to say, a capital "B" boring - and they're so close. their imagery is nice, here and there a cool mechanic glimmers, but the save-or-suck balancing of their terrain control makes some of them OP. What I also can't fathom is this - Rogue Genius Games, of all publishers, actually has a glorious pdf on Chaos Magic - really good chaos magic at that. Where's the tie-in? This is a wasted chance, but not something I'll hold against the pdf.



I'm aware I'm a nitpicky guy here, but after the initial racial write-ups, which got me all excited about the race, I felt somewhat underwhelmed by what followed. Don't get me wrong - the Xaolings are still a cool race, but the pdf falls quite short of what it could have easily been. 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!]
Planar Races: Chaos, The Xaolings
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