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ZEITGEIST #4: Always on Time (PATHFINDER RPG)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/01/2014 05:03:33
An Endzeitgeist.cm review

The fourth installment in EN Publishing's so far simply superb, investigation-driven steampunk-AP clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 68 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right! The intrepid constables of the RHC, i.e. the player characters, find themselves on a reconnaissance mission in this module - they have uncovered the presence of a shadowy conspiracy, but so far know next to nothing about them. Having investigated Caius in Zeitgeist #3, the PC's know he would have been boarding a train in Beaumont at one end of the Avery Coast Railroad and travel its length to the city of Vendrice. Spy Missions are no easy thing, and unlike many a shadowrun mission I've read throughout my DMing career, here we are not left in the dark: By starting the adventure with a planning phase and providing ample options for skill checks to e.g. create false paper trails, establish cover identities and make plans for contingencies. Even risky propositions such as attempting to buy off the spies on their trail, are not off the books and distinct options - though ones that already carry a solid possibility for failure. Better yet: If your players don't like investigations/spywork (then why are you playing this AP, though?), they can jump immediately into the operation, though at least in my opinion, the module looses quite a bit of its charm that way - especially since failures tend to not result in dead-ends, but rather detractions from the degree of the respective success of the PCs.



On the way to Beaumont by ship, the PCs will have their first hostile encounter herein - if you want to go naval combat here, I'd suggest Frog God Games' "Fire as She Bears" instead of the standard "Admiral o' the High Seas"-rules the Zeitgeist AP presumes. Beyond that, enough information is provided for you to run this particular encounter as a more or less straightforward hackfest. Anyways, the PCs should thus have a good reminder that their meddling has made some important people rather giddy. Thus they enter the nation of Danor.



Danor is problematic for especially casters - magic doesn't work well within the wild/dead-magic-zone riddled nation, thus requiring some careful deliberation on behalf of the players regarding their casting prowess. So yes, the PCs will need to be smart when handling this assignment - after all their goal is not engagement with the enemy. hence, they board, among the vast bustle of people, the train - 1st class, of course! The train and its passenger are lavishly detailed and making appropriate observations and conclusion will be hard - even before a stop in Danor's capital Cherage makes tracking the suspects (all of which have something going on the PCs can discover) rather interesting.



On the next day, a passage through the wild lands (including a short safari-break) beckons - as doe new passengers. The city of Orithea, the next stop, will also see complications in the PC's espionage-duties, with interactions between passengers, many a thing to do...and a constantly ticking timer. On the next day, the constables will have a chance to thwart a train heist in a swampy terrain, with aberrations and bandits - and thankfully a nice breakdown of locations, number of spawns and cars for the respective characters, making this encounter complex, but manageable for an experienced DM. Less than an hour after the attack by the gargantuan aberration, the PC's adversaries are notified of them being spied upon, just as the train reaches the lands of Drakr.



Discussing the nature of conflict (and world's end), counter-espionage by the PC's targets, unrelated black market/espionage deals - there is a lot going on beyond the main plot - so much, in fact, that all the characters come vividly to life and can or cannot have serious impact in the future, while remaining optional for the purposes of this investigation. Still, by the end of this part, the PCs ought to know who their primary suspect is, while at the same time having met some characters that will return in future installments of the AP.



Here a massive spoiler is in order - part of the plan of teh Obscurati revolves around magical lanterns, which can draw targets throughout the planes. hence, the villain's goal is to get the PCs in a given isolated locale and draw them into a hostile plane - In Nem, the spirit becomes the body - when no longer close to the approximation of their bodies, the PCs die. Usually, this would be no problem, but the train's movement means that they are on a tight timer. Undead, the ghosts of the murdered - the PCs are stuck in the train's ghost equivalent, fending off the deadly assailants and hopefully finding the lantern, destroying it before their spirits are whisked away. After this supernatural assault, the PCs ought to be VERY paranoid when they reach Sid Minos.



There, a red herring/further assassination attempt, including a cursed island with its own intelligence and copious undead awaits - along-side a chained demoness who offers one last way for the PCs to resume their work, should they have been suckered in. Then, at a private rail station, the mastermind behind aforementioned lanterns is in danger of being recruited by the Obscurati... And said interaction involves someone in the highest echelons of power...



In order to triumph here, though, the PCs will not only have to have drawn the right conclusions, they better also be up to their a-game - if they are, they may have actually gained some important allies.



The appendix depicts in detail (and with maps) the train, provides further filler NPCs and general guidelines for investigation and the tailing of suspects are provided alongside a selection of 8 magic items (one of which is a new quality) as well as a quick-reference sheet of NPCs for the DM, a mission timeline and a nice advertisement-style handout for the scenic railroad route.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I noticed e.g. one instance of part of a DC's number being obscured beneath a relic and I also encountered some very minor typos/wording glitches. Layout adheres to EN Publishing's drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard, with artworks ranging from superb full color to comic-style mugshots to thematically fitting b/w-stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience and the pdf is layered, allowing you to customize the pdf for printing it out, all according to your needs.



Zeitgeist modules are damn friggin' complex beasts, but gloriously so - they involve a lot of moving parts, NPCs, contingencies and options for DM to get the module, proverbially, back on track. This is no exception and while the module is, quite literally, a railroad, it also is surprisingly player-driven with all the suspects, investigation guidelines, etc. allowing for a lot of outcomes, for a lot of different approaches, while always providing options for the DM to get things back on track. Sorry, I swear that was the final railway-pun. So is this a great module? Yes, yes, indeed - author JAcob Driscoll has delivered a complex, cool investigation against a unique backdrop, one that not as complex as CoC's legendary Orient express-campaign, but one that fits seamlessly in with the overall AP. More so than in previous installments, though, DMs should take heed to impress the investigation-focus of teh whole AP: Players seeking primarily roll-playing will eb frustrated by this triumphantly brains-over-brawns module. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - I applaud the sheer guts of deviating from the mostly combat-driven gameplay of most modules towards a rewarding ROLEplaying experience seldom seen in any d20-based system.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #4: Always on Time (PATHFINDER RPG)
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Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2014 11:17:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 24 pages, so let's take a look!



I LOVED Lords of Gossamer and Shadows - its imagery of this vast staircase with doors to infinite worlds resounding well with my tastes and sensibilities - here, then, we have an account of one well-versed in the intricacies of the Grand Stair, the rather powerful Warden Lucien, who guides us in a neatly written in-character prose through some of the weird and wonderful places of the Grand Stair. From the interplanar market place to the unstable (and lavishly rendered) rickety stairs and the starlit stair over to the labyrinth, Lucien provides accounts of his journeys and perils in prose so vivid, it's a joy to read - and inspiring to boot!



But this is no mere travel journal - interspersed are subjective theories on the nature of the stair, its at times maze-like qualities, warnings against migratory flocks of pants emerging from one of the weirder worlds, etiquette regarding how to pass one another sans provoking a fight and even Rhen-codes further paint a picture both titillating and strange. Who are the Rhen? Well, legend has it they were the nomads of the stairs, long vanished to a fate none can ascertain - only their graphic codes remain here and there, relics of an age long gone. Lucien also has sound advice regarding ambushes (and their most likely goals) on the Grand Stair. How (and whether) and by what rules magic works on the Grand Stair is covered as well, with each cantrip coming with an incantation to actually say (AWESOME!) as well as Lucien's notes on how to use them: 3 cantrips and 6 spells (one of which allows you to determine your subjective gravity), complete with lynchpins are provided for the traveler.



We also get a new 5-point power with "Walker of the Grand Stair" and 6 new lesser abilities - these represent components of a greater power, partial understandings etc. General hunches on destinations etc. become distinct possibilities. The pdf also introduces so-called expanses - these are mostly constant areas of the Grand Stair that can be attuned to a warder to varying degrees - either for 1, 2 or 4 points. Here, the pdf could have been slightly more precise - it is not 100% clear whether one needs to take the 1-poin attunement before the 2-point awareness or not, i.e. I don't know whether one can directly go for the 4 point cost or not. I *assume* not, but the pdf does not specify, so that's a minor blunder.



Cartas, the maps of the doors and the worlds they connect to, come also in 3 versions with point-costs, though, again, it is not 100% apparent if the point costs of them are cumulative or not, though here, I assume that's not the case - otherwise you'd get 3 different cartas for the total of 7 points. We also are introduced to an annotated compilation of what Lucien considers the capabilities of teh Wardens of the Great Stair.



We end this book with two sample wardens who come with their own glorious artworks (from LoGaS) - the eponymous Lucien and his bodyguard/second n command Gretchen.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a full-color two-column standard with a purplish border . The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the full color artworks, most original, one taken from the LoGaS-book, rank among the best you can find in any publication - yes, they're that beautiful.



Author Rob Donoghue has crafted one fine supplement that could have turned sour VERY easily - LoGaS' appeal lies in its vast possibilities and a guide like this could easily have eliminated tantalizing possibilities in favor of "truths." Instead of falling into that trap, this supplement explains truths, but relative ones, provides guidelines without prescribing things for DMs - this is the only way how such a supplement could have worked for a setting like LoGaS. Mr. Donoghue's prose is vivid and clear and makes reading this supplement a joy, so that's a significant bonus.



On the downside, I'm slightly irked about the point-costs of cartas and expanses. While I think the intent is mostly clear, the fact remains that here the wording could simply have been more concise. This, alongside the none-too-cheap price point are my only, minor complaints - though they are significant enough for me to arrive at a final verdict of 4.5 stars, I don't consider it enough to round down, thus rounding up.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide to the Grand Stair (Diceless)
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Rawr! - Volume 2: Flame & Wrath
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2014 04:35:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of TPK Games monster-series is 65 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this book with an introduction by Tom Phillips before diving head first into the chapter by Richard Hunt -all about monster psychology, this chapter should especially prove helpful for less experienced DMs, providing sound advice on considering a monster's disposition when crafting encounters - is it happy? Cowardly? Angry? Perhaps it suffers from one form or another of madness - from MPD to schizophrenia and a wide list of phobias, we get quite some nice advice, though for ideas on phobias I'd also wish to point DMs out there to Call of Cthulhu or Trail of Cthulhu for inspiration in spades. All in all, a useful, nice chapter for beginner-DMs with neat advice, though not a chapter that will wow jaded DM-veterans...



What instead should prove to be useful for just about every DM would be chapter 2 - essentially, herein we get optional rules for dragons: First of which would be dragon barding -and yes, I always considered it stupid that this idea wasn't more common in most worlds - dragons may be arrogant, but they're not stupid, so additional armor makes sense...especially at larger sizes, when dex gets less and less useful/reduced. These bardings come with tables denoting their cost, min amount of humanoids minions needed to put on and yes, also the time frame that is required to don the armor - all by size. Now barding does influence flight - heavy barding makes it impossible, whereas medium barding drops maneuverability by 1 point and halves flight speed. This might come as a surprise, but the solution for medium barding here actually contradicts obscure rules on flight in PFRPG - creatures may not fly with medium or heavy load - and by conjecture, with medium armors; For ME, this is an issue.



That being said, they're DRAGONS - if any creature deserves an exception to the rule, it's them, so I'll stop nitpicking...this particular rule-set. Also rather neat would be an alternate rule that allows dragons to embed treasure in their scales for increased armor bonus as well as a handy table that includes options for dragons dropping huge options on small puny earthbound adversaries - neat! What about the aberrant pigmentation dragon template, which allows you to color-swap dragon scales for nasty surprises? Yeah, rather awesome, especially considering the fact that I always loathed the fact that they're color-coded for dragon slayer's convenience... Nasty!



Chapter 3 sees Brian Berg collaborating with Mike Welham for first an array of new draconic feats - fancy some hooked talons on the wings that net the improved grab special quality? What about a roar that is not only terrifying, but also deals (lethal or nonlethal)sonic damage? Ball-shaped breath weapons? Using the breath weapon to further shield the majestic reptile? VERY nasty would be draconic savagery - even when missing with claw or bite, the target still takes str-mod damage - and we all know that's usually not a dragon's dump-stat - great to represent them slowly chewing apart even the best buffed/armored of dragon slayers... Cold-based breath weapon users may freeze the wings of foes and with a feat, a dragon may count all 1s of a breath weapon as 2s. Vastly improved tail attacks and hitting foes with it while retreating also become options thanks to the feats herein - now where I'm not sold would be Killing Roar: While I can get behind a dragon's scream killing a target, the insta-death feels a bit anachronistic: I would have preferred vast amount of damage in line with most death-effect-spells. Then again...these are dragons. If anything can scream and make foes drop dead from that, it would be dragons... We also get 7 new traits for dragons - universally solid and especially the trait that lets them use embedded weapons as armor spikes is nice. It should be noted, though, that if you're looking for meta-breath feats à la Draconomicon, you won't find any here - the breath weapon feats herein primarily modify the limited breaths of half-breeds and those with bloodlines, offering e.g. additional uses per day (which full-blown dragons don't require). So a bit of a missed chance here.



Now before we delve into further crunchy bits, we get one full-page piece of artwork that is simple gorgeous - Dusan Kostic would be reposible for the majestic spread unless I'm mistaken - just wanted to give kudos where kudos are due.



Now chapter 4 introduces us to draconic bloodlines. No. Not the ones sorcerors get. Rather, the concept is handled via feats for dragons; Major Bloodline feats may only be taken at first level/HD and net you elemental resistance 2 for the dragon's respective element as well as +2 to diplomacy and intimidate against your draconic bloodline's dragons. Additionally, you get +1 to one skill and said skill as a class skill - again, the skill is determined by the color of your ancestor's scales. Unless I've miscounted, a total of 86 feats are thus unlocked - these increase e.g. bite damage with +2d6 acid, grant spell-like abilities to e.g. speak with animals, insect plague, create food or water, fog cloud or locate objects to find gems.



Now as a peculiarity, several of these actually have synergy effect that improve them when combined with the right major draconic bloodline - aforementioned fog can e.g. be made into a cold-based variant of acid fog that coats floors with grease-like effects. While many of these feats have cool unique effects like this, not all do, though. Spouting draconic wings should be particularly interesting for half-breeds and sand-based gusts of wind that have a chance to blind foes could become full-fledged sandstorms. Walking on clouds, auras of slowness -all cool. Less nice: While you can get a draconic tail for attack purposes, and while it attacks at -5, making the mechanical intent clear, it does not explicitly declare the tail as a secondary natural weapon - a slight hick-up in wording here.

Of course, breath weapons may also be further improved/gained and elemental auras are also part of the deal - though I wished these scaled with age category, if applicable. All in all, I really like all these options, since they make dragons more versatile, more diverse, and add some oomph to them. Now whether you like this or not, the respective feats and their prerequisites are based on both bloodlines and HD, making it easy for you to add these feats to monsters for all types of half-breeds - at the same time, though, the reduction of these down to feats mean that they don't scale well with dragons, for whom feats are a rather scarce good - templates would have helped there. Also: The respective auras, as awesome as they are, could require some age category-scaling - otherwise a wyrmling's aura is the same as a great wyrm's - and that feels wrong to me. It's ultimately a nitpicky gripe, but one that I feel prospective DMs should be aware of. To me, this decision/oversight is particularly paradox since TPK Games is currently releasing pdfs on scaling feats with their "Feats Reforged"-series.



If you instead want to go for a less pronounced draconic lineage, there also are minor draconic bloodline traits that net resistance 1 to the appropriate bloodlines's element and +1 to diplomacy and intimidate when interacting with the dragons in question. These traits can also qualify you for at least an array of aforementioned feats. Unfortunately, the pdf fails to specify to which category of traits these are supposed to belong, though I assume racial - it's the only one that makes sense. Now if you'd rather go template, next we're introduced to templates - minor and major templates, for each draconic bloodline at CR +1/+2 respectively. As a nice bonus, each bloodline comes with one sample creature to which one of the two templates (and partially additional ones!) have been applied.



The pdf concludes with 5 new creatures: First would be the wingless, almost serpentine Antboga at CR 17 not only has an aura of destructive gravitational field and a force-damage dealing breath weapon, it also has a gaze attack that may increase your load (which might send fliers tumbling from the sky...). Second would be the Lyukana at CR 12 - with fever-inducing gaze and caustic sweat another cool adversary. The CR 12 Mound Worm can regenerate when managing to frighten foes with its terror-inducing bite and it also is rather poisonous. The CR 10 Ursaor, a bear-like being with a red/green-scaled head may be a cool apex predator and yes, it makes for a cool imagery, but it could have used some signature attack beyond its lethal bite. Still, nice critter. Finally, the CR 2 Winged Viper can be taken as a familiar via improved familiar.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some minor glitches, non too grievous or significant obstructed my understanding of the content herein. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard - apart for the purpose of statblocks NOT my preferred standard - to me, 1-column files always look a bit cluttered. Also layout-wise a complaint - there are instances where the name of one feat is on one page, the feat's text on the next. Not a fan of those, but again, this is me nitpicking. The pdf comes fully and extensively bookmarked and hyperlinked with the good kind of unobtrusive hyperlinks - those I tried always sent me off to the right location on d20pfsrd, so kudos for the work!

The artwork ranges from phenomenal original to ok stock - no complaints here either - apart from one: I'm usually not a stickler for art, but new monsters usually benefit greatly from good artwork - I wish we had gotten art for the new creatures.



Brian Berg, Richard Hunt, James Olchak, Tom Phillips and Mike Welham have created a neat supplement...though one that suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. I'm honestly not sure whether this is supposed to be for DMs, players or both - and hence how to rate it. Why? Because I'm a firm supporter of the "F*** Balance, it's a DRAGON! It CAN do that!"-school of DMs: My dragons have minions, custom abilities and fight with ever single dirty trick in my considerable book of nasty DM-tricks. My players have learned that taking on a dragon amounts to suicide more often than not sans army...and possibly even with one. Now for that, this toolbox, let me phrase that precisely and explicitly, is AWESOME.



Unfortunately, as a reviewer I have to take other campaigns into account - and to an extent the same holds true there. If you for example play in such a high-powered game that your DM allowed you to play a dragon, then this makes for a superb toolbox to increase your arsenal, though admittedly additional daily-use feats for breath weapons won't inspire any dragon...they already have thos infinite times per day. Now where I'm seeing problems is with less high-powered campaigns featuring dragons - e.g. via RGG's Dragon Rider-class. In such a context, the content herein may prove to be unbalancing and should be carefully scrutinized by the DM before allowing it in the game - perhaps on a case by case basis.

How to rate this, then?

...

As a mean DM's toolbox - superb; For high-powered games: Nice. For more conservative games...potentially problematic. Is this pdf perfect? No, but it honors the TPK in TPK Games - and in the end, I'll rate it as a monster-book/DM-Kit - one that could require age-category scaling for auras and has some rough edges, but still is a VERY nasty kit. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rawr! - Volume 2: Flame & Wrath
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Racial Ecologies: The Canids
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/31/2014 04:31:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Racial Ecology-series is 17 pages long, 1 page editorial/front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Canids are, surprise, canine humanoids that usually, much like man's best friend, accompany other races - their communities usually exist in a kind of symbiosis with specific other humanoid cultures. Hard racial-trait-wise, they get +2 to Str and Cha, -2 to Int, low-light vision, scent, a 1d4 bite attack as primary weapon (or secondary weapon when wielding arms), get +1 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive with their associated race (I assume a racial bonus, but the pdf doesn't say), +2 to perception and survival, can run on all 4s when carrying nothing in their hands. This would net a +10 foot bonus to movement for run, charge or withdraw actions. They can only do so while having medium load or less - and I assume they don't get a quadruped's usual bonus to encumbrance. To reflect their racial diversity, they can pick one alternate racial trait or a racial trait of 2RP or less and they do thankfully have some limitations applied to the selection. Still, I'm not 100% comfortable with this variety - why? Because the race is well-balanced on the upper echelon of the power-scale sans these and the ARG's system is notoriously broken.



On the alternate racial trait-front, we get to choose from 3 different ones - Bully build nest you the slow but steady racial trait and replaces the quadruped sprinting, whereas aforementioned diversity can be offset with a whopping +4 to CDM versus bull rush, trip, pull and drag. Finally, there are small canids that get, apart from their size-modifiers, +4 to stealth. We also get 5 race traits that allow you to run longer, drag something better (not the maneuver, the feat of strength), improved disguising, 1/day +2 to flanking and adaption to cold climates make for compelling race traits that manage to be useful without being overpowered and also offer a nice bit of fluff each - kudos for getting these right!



On the favored class option-front, all of the Paizo-classes (minus variants like ninja/samurai, but including the gunslinger) are covered with sensible options. Oh, and thankfully we get FULL AGE, HEIGHT & WEIGHT-tables, 6 entries for various physiques - neato! Also cool - a short lore-table is included!



We also get 6 new feats - improving bite attacks by one step and later, vicious bite allows you to chose to make your canid benefit from improved grapple when biting or gain the trip option. Finally, the third feat in the bite-chain allows you to inflict bleed damage or thrash bitten adversaries - the latter has a hick-up in the rules-vocabulary, when it allows you to either deal bonus damage or inflict the "shaken effect" - which should be "condition". Also, the pdf fails to specify for how long the shaken condition lasts. Improved overland hustling is also a neat idea, as does the idea fit that canids may follow tracks at normal speed. The feat does have a hick-up, when it specifies that it allows them to follow tracks at twice their normal speed at -20 - one can already do that sans the feat. I assume, the penalty was supposed to decrease, but whatever the correct new number, it's not in here. "Scent the Impossible" on the other hand is rather awesome - not only does it improve the option to track by scent, it allows the Canid to be particularly familiar with specific scents - these can then be picked up even in olfactory nightmares and overpopulated places - a great idea, also regarding storytelling.



We also get 5 new mundane pieces of equipment - from dog whistles to muzzles, extra teeth, a weight harness and even a neck barrel. Among the two new magical items, we get a silence-inducing, damaging dog-whistle and a breath weapon granting hell hound tooth that may enhance a canid's bite.



Now Canids are diversified and hence we get no less than 13 different variants, all with their own racial qualities:, ancestry, suggested starting languages and fluff

Ratters get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Int, +1 to CMD/CMB (+2 when surprised, flatfooted or prone) and while small, they still get a movement rate of 30 feet. Wardens get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, +2 to resist fear and demoralize effects and aforementioned grounded racial trait. Hunters get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, Hunt on the Run as a bonus feat and +2 to perception related to smell/scent. Dwarven Bullys get +2 Str and Wis, -2 to Dex, must take the bully-build racial trait and replace low-light vision with darkvision. I assume the default 60 ft. range for darkvision, but the pdf does not specify. Elven Hounds get -2 to STr, +2 to Dex and Int get a flat-out ovement-rate of 40 feet (and don't get faster when going on all 4s - which is weird) and +1 to reflex saves and initiative. Goblin Curs get +2 to Dex and Wis, -2 to Str, are small, cause allergic reactions in non-goblinoids and get +1 to atk and damage versus other canids and dogs. Gnomish ratters get +2 to Dex and Cha, - 2 to Int, are small and get hatred versus reptilian and goblinoid adversaries. Hafling Borzoi get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, Hunt on the Run as a bonus feat, exchange scent for 40 foot movement rate and +4 to see through nonmagical disguises.

Drow Demon Dogs get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, darkvision and replace their quadruped ability with a base-speed of 40 feet - again, somewhat weird that the offshoot is not faster on all fours. They also get +1 to intimidate and +2 to saves versus disease, though they do pay the relative power with losing more basic canid racial traits. Kobold Warren Dogs get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str, are small and still have a movement rate of 30 ft and replace low-light vision with darkvision (again not specifying the range). Orc War Mastiffs get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, replace low-light vision with darkvision (this time the 60 foot range is included) and they also get ferocity, but pay for that with losing access to racial diversity and light sensitivity. Painted dogs get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, hatred versus Gnolls and hyena-like creatures and +4 AC versus Gnolls. Finally, the small Xolo get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Cha and these hairless dogs are under a constant endure elements spell-like ability (that does not specify an effective level and is not properly italicized) and may woodland stride in familiar jungles.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - there are a couple of formatting glitches, which partially make the respective crunch slightly less clear than they ought to be. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the original pieces of full color artwork are simply awesome. This is one beautiful pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf lacks bookmarks, which is an unpleasant comfort-detriment.



Author Nick Esposito has created an interesting race, slightly on the upper end of the power-scale, but not by much. While the racial diversity utilizing the broken ARG can be potentially problematic, per se the variants feel well-balanced and diverse, if admittedly not all of them are brilliant - more weird breeds with unique abilities like the Xolo or the Goblin Cur's allergies would have elevated this pdf further. Per se we get a solid race that has a lot, but in practice is haunted by quite an array of typos and minor glitches. The rules-language, while for the most part non-ambiguous, features several flubs like lacking durations for conditions, calling conditions effects etc. - nothing big per se, but they do accumulate over time to a point where they stand out and show that a tighter editing would have helped this pdf. Beyond that and the missing bookmarks, there is not much to complain about - as presented, this pdf's Canids are definitely useable and per se a relatively nice, if not always inspired race. Hence, 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!]
Racial Ecologies: The Canids
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Village Backdrop: Vulgruph's Hollow
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2014 04:50:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



As has become the tradition with Village Backdrops, the town herein is fully depicted with a list of notable folk, demographics and village statblock, a market place, information on the populace and local nomenclature as well as dressing customs alongside 6 rumors, some of which may or may not be 100% true...



So what is going on in Vulgruph's Hollow? Well, first of all, the village, once prosperous, is dived along racial lines - from the ingenious dwarven founders and their descendants, not much hospitality has ever been extended towards the humans, gnomes and halflings that constitute minorities here - whether due to sheer gruffness or racist tendencies would be up to the DM to decide. Beyond that, though, the village has now, for about a year, been plagued by animal mutilations that have since escalated into downright disappearances of folk - tensions run high and in a climate of suspicion, the culprit(s) thrives.



Nestled on a river, connected by bridges to both sides, Vulgruph's Hollow may seem easy to defend, its nearby dwarven monument pittoresk even - against this backdrop of mistrust and tension, a pair of star-crossed lovers may serve as a Romeo and Juliet-style subplot, while moderately capable (semi-) retired adventures (like a half-orc arcane duelist bard 5 or a dwarven swashbuckler rogue 7) and a lot of good folk may be only inches away from shedding blood, while the vile culprit of the crimes moves unrecognized among the populace, truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. (And upon reading this supplement, what I mean by this will be so much clearer to you...) Said culprit also comes with full stats, btw.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use. The cartography is superb and as always, player-friendly high-res versions of the maps can be downloaded on Raging Swan Press' homepage.



Alexander Augunas, known mostly for his mastery in crunch as evidenced by his superb improvement and conversion of Pact Magic to Pathfinder, here delivers a splendid little town, concisely depicted with peculiarities galore, problems to solve and essentially multiple adventure plots that almost write themselves, showcasing a distinct ability to actually also write excellent and captivating fluff. Vulgruph's Hollow, more so even than many other Village Backdrops, has your work cut out for you and even though the basic tropes of the threats may have been covered already, the ease and level of detail with which the narratives flow together make this an excellent buy and a fun place for the PCs to visit - provided they can solve the issues. Otherwise, they may be stranded in a settlement imploding upon itself as paranoia escalates into bitter violence. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Vulgruph's Hollow
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Mythic Minis 5: Feats of Monstrous Magic
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/28/2014 04:47:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



-Ascendant Spell-like Ability: 3/day use a mythic version of your spell-like ability chosen upon taking the feat. Also expend 2 uses of mythic power for +1 use of the feat. Finally, spend 3 uses of mythic power to use the mythic version of another spell-like ability. Solid restrictions reign that one in. Two thumbs up.



-Craft Construct: +MR/tier to skill checks pertaining the construction of constructs. Also construct mythic tier times 1K gold per day, making you much faster. Also includes concise rules to add the mythic simple template to the crafted construct for higher costs. Finally, this feat allows you to create sentient, intelligent constructs. Which would be awesome, but the pdf has a glitch here - these constructs get, according to the text, no less than 11d3 to charisma - which I *assume* probably should be 1d3.



-Empower Spell-like Ability: If the spell-like ability chosen to be empowered can be used more than 3/day, you may use this feat an additional time per day per 2 mythic ranks or tiers after 1st. Also spend 2 uses of mythic power to regain a daily use of the feat. For 2 daily uses of the feat, empower a different spell-like ability, which may not exceed 1/2 level-2. Solid one, but not as cool as the ascendant feat.



-Improved Spell Resistance: +1/2 mythic tier to SR versus mythic spells and SLs; Add full tier to SR vs. non-mythic spells and SLs. Okay.



-Maximize Spell-like Ability: If the spell-like ability chosen to be empowered can be used more than 3/day, you may use this feat an additional time per day per 3 mythic ranks or tiers after 1st. Also spend 2 uses of mythic power to regain a daily use of the feat. For 2 daily uses of the feat, maximize a different spell-like ability, which may not exceed 1/2 level-3. Solid one, but not as cool as the ascendant feat.



-Quicken Spell-like Ability: If the spell-like ability chosen to be maximized can be used more than 3/day, you may use this feat an additional time per day per 4 mythic ranks or tiers after 1st. Also spend 2 uses of mythic power to regain a daily use of the feat. For 2 daily uses of the feat, quicken a different spell-like ability, which may not exceed 1/2 level-4. Solid one, but not as cool as the ascendant feat.



Maximized, Quicken and Empowered Spell-like ability feats can ONLY be used to enhance SLs that can be used at least 2/day.



Conclusion:

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



Jason Nelson delivers a selection of solid mythic feats herein that can work well to enhance your options for beasts by adding mythic versions of many metamagic tricks - which is nice to have. The options to empower, maximize and quicken are cool, if a bit linear in their solid craft. The construct creation and ascendant spell-like ability-feats are downright awesome in my book and well worth the low price of admission. Still, they are the 2 feats that really breathe awesome and show that the rest of the content is good, but simply not that inspired. Good, yes, but not that awesome. In the end, that makes me settle on a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 5: Feats of Monstrous Magic
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Elementals Lords of Porphyra [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2014 09:25:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover and combined editorial/SRD, though on different pages, constitute together about 1 page, so we actually get approximately 19 pages of content - quite a bunch, so let's take a look!



Elemental lords? Yes - these powerful beings tend to get the short end of the stick when compared to archdevils, gods etc. - and in Porphyra, they are exceedingly important. You see, the patchwork planet was once the domain of the elemental lords before the arrival of the gods from throughout the planes and the resulting NewGod wars. Somewhat analogue to the legendary Scarred Lands (though more extreme in several cases), the elemental lords thus represent the olden beliefs and still have a lot of worshippers that aren't necessarily on good terms with the extensive pantheon of this planet. Whether they are gone for good or resurgent, though...only time will tell.



We are introduced to no less than 12 elemental lords herein and I honestly expected rehashes of tried and true tropes. Let's make that clear from the get-go: I was wrong. We get write-ups for domains/subdomains, favored weapons/animals, unique spell preparation rituals and 2 religion traits per lord/lady. But let me give you an example: Ashamar Shining, the Lady of Aish, the Glass Queen, cruel and beautiful as a searing ember's flow cherishes the fragility of beauty, while her scorn and malice cut as deep as the splinters that are part and result of her beauty. As patron of glass-workers, her divine assassins kill with poisoned glass. It should also be mentioned that the religion traits provided represent maxims of the teaching of the respective lord/lady, adding yet another dimension to the vivid prose of the supplement.



From the Ice Tyrant to the master of vines and grapes, the elemental lords make for harsh masters and mistresses and generally, they surprisingly uniformly transcend the lame old clichés - take for example Kurofu, the Shadow, master of Oni, samsaran and tengu - Dark wings, dark words indeed.



Najim, the hidden god, born from the dark tapestry, sought to crash his body/moon into the world, now lying hidden beneath Purple Duck Games' super-dungeon-series Purple Mountain, allowing us a glimpse of the possible things to come and offering yet another highly uncommon take on what one would expect from an elemental lord. Have I mentioned Poison Wave? The empress of naga?



We also are introduced to 3 new subdomains with the oni, naga and retaliation subdomains. While the wording of these could be slightly more precise, the respective abilities are concise enough to prevent misunderstandings. We also get 12 new magic items, one allowing you to positively influence targets as if via diplomacy (sans save...). Another would be the ashglobe - a combined holy symbol with a SL and a means of adding a metamagic effect to a specific spell. Rather nice.



Finally, we get 12 new spells that are exclusive for the respective lords and ladies. levitating massive amounts of weight (flying castles!), ice-only minor earthquakes, detecting gems - the spells are mostly okay regarding their wording, if not always perfect. They work best when taking iconic concepts like creating a flying carpet made of FIRE or amplifying penalizing properties of light exposure in a small area.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren't in any way bad, but the wordings, especially in the crunchy sections could use a tad bit more precision. While not falling into the bad category, some refinement in this area could have made this pdf shine even more. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with awesome holy symbol-style artworks for all the symbols of the lords and ladies. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr is one of the authors I never know what to expect of - he has written some of the best modules I've read, some cool crunchy pdfs...and some not so great ones. In part, one of his tendencies seems to be to allow for ambiguities in crunch - a tendency that, while not completely absent, is by far not that pronounced here.



Perry Fehr is also a gifted weaver of words and his strengths come triumphantly to the fore herein - imaginative and unique, the elemental lords herein are thoroughly compelling beings, with intriguing backgrounds and awesome tenets - the write-ups of these beings, which constitutes the majority of this book, is completely and utterly AWESOME. To the point, where I actually want to know more about churches, planet, cosmology... and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark of great prose.



While the supplemental rules aren't necessarily flawed, they could have used some polish, though that should not deter you from taking a look here. If elemental lords with PERSONALITY beyond "I am fire guy" interest you, then this ought to be a must-purchase recommendation due to the ridiculously low, fair price-point. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 UNLESS you get this primarily for the crunch; Then round down instead, though I think the truly inspired fluff will adequately spark your imagination.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elementals Lords of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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Adventure Path Iconics: Path of Undeath (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2014 09:23:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Adventure Path Iconics is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with a total of23 pages of content, so let's take a look!



From the get-go, I feel the need to mention something - these Iconics are not for a traditional AP in the sense of Paizo's published paths. They're rather intended for the recently released Obsidian Apocalypse setting/campaign toolbox by LPJr Design. While the characters herein might work with Carrion Crown, they are ALL very uncommon races, i.e. those from Obsidian Apocalypse, meaning that they're slightly stronger than the core races and that they, fluff-wise, tend to be rather monstrous. Personally, I draw a line between gothic horror and apocalyptic survival horror like Obsidian Apocalypse, so that's something I *THINK* you should be aware of. The characters have been created with 150 GP starting gear and 20 point-buy. The characters also come with information to modify the characters to 15 and 25 point-buy as well as suggestions to improve them over the first couple of levels. Each character comes with a sample quote that gets you in the mood for playing him/her.



The first character herein would be Mik'Quol An-Str-Natk, an Osirian cleric of Zebadiah. Osirians are essentially dark-skinned humans that can tap into necromantic hellfire - which is much less impressive than you'd think - it's essentially temporary fatigue-causing rays at will that act as disrupt undead against the undead. Per se, I have no gripe against the ability, though the very "cool" name and the rather puny effect would get a chuckle out of my group. Osirians also get some bonuses to skills, improved initiative etc. - but for racial info, please check my soon-to-come review of Obsidian Apocalypse. Saved from the deadly vampiric predators that roam the world of Abaddon by the legendary last, half-burned angel Zebadiah, Mik'Quol may not be the sharpest tool in the guerilla shed of Osirians, but he is an interesting character.



The second character in the array would be an infernal sorceror called Xasturian. As an Infernal, he is essentially one of the red-skinned tieflings of Abaddon and thus has natural claw attacks and makes use of the alternate racial trait that nets him +1 to all saves. The son of a succubus, he was raised by his now disappeared big brother - and as befitting of his bloodline, he is both adept at blast foes and charming the ladies. He also has a habit of speaking of himself in the third person. Generally, a rather cool build, though personally, I probably would have gone with one of the more interesting infernal racial traits. His statblock also suffers from a formatting glitch - the Offense-header is not properly highlighted against the rest of his statblock.



The third character is one I have a certain positive bias towards - why? Because Ilita Faara is a Khymer. What are these? Essentially, they are discorporated, corpse-possessing sentient puddles of psionically-charged, toxic blood that require fresh bodies to sustain their existence. They may also burn their body to enhance their psionics, increasing ranges, empowering powers or even regain power points. The latter has me a bit concerned, I might add. Personally, I'm also not a big fan of the fixed DC for the fort-save they have to make to determine whether this body-burning deals one or two points of con-damage - a more flexible DC would have made more sense to me. It should be noted, though, that at least regarding the psychic warrior (yes, Ultimate Psionics-compatible ) Ilita, this is not too relevant. She is an interesting character, striving to meet the demands of a forgotten code of conduct, buried in her memory by the cataclysmic event that transformed her species into sentient blood. Her choice of weaponry with slings and rapiers is not too interesting - but her power selection is solid with biofeedback and call weaponry, if not too creative. Over all, a nice character that comes with all required pieces of information to run the strange race and that also comes with nice angles for roleplaiyng in her propensity for wind instruments.



After that, the next character would be Treeshearer Snarltooth Swifttongue, a Lykian ranger. Lykians are essentially werewolf-like humanoids. Snarltooth uses an alternate racial trait that allows her to emit a howl 1/hour that can cause her enemies to become shaken. Lykians also get a primary bite attack at 1d3 that also comes with a dex-damaging disease rapid onset disease, usable con-mod times/day. Lykians also get 50% miss chance in concealment (but this increase does not make total concealment!) and generally are adept at stealth, but also suffer from double damage by silver weapons. Born to a Lykian pet of a powerful wizard who had to escape to the wild, her standing in the tribe was precarious and once when her animalistic rage burst forth, she once ripped a bigoted human apart - thus requiring her to leave the tribe behind - a tribe that never liked her in the first place. A gruff and hardened survivor, she makes for an interesting choice, though you should be aware that the Lykian race imho is more powerful than e.g. Osiriani.



When there are a special kind of tieflings, there better be also descendants of heavenly forces and indeed - in Obsidian Apocalypse, these beings are the offspring of the last angel Zebadiah and thus, these beings, known as Exalted, bear their father's name - like Yeremil Al Zebadiah, the Exalted monk. Among the racial abilities chosen, Yeremil chose for cure light wounds and remove fear 1/day. As a character, Yeremil was born to a farmer's daughter, who was first ostracized, then revered for her child. Yeremil believes in his preordained destiny -he is fanatic, an ascetic monk...and believes, he has a claim to godhood. He is per se a cool character, though his statblock once again has one header not properly highlighted - this time, it would be "defense."



Setiphet Sir Lykash, the harrowed fighter, would also be interesting - first, by her race. The most reviled of the races of Obsidian Apocalypse, Harrowed are the results of the union of the living and the living death and thus, these beings are exceedingly hardy and come with some undead-like traits. Setiphet was born from a terrible tragedy involving the death of a true love and violations - but still, her mother managed to love her and provide what few harrowed get - a loving environment where they can develop a sense of right and wrong. Thus Setiphet has developed into an egalitarian champion of the downtrodden - a champion the ignorant fear and loathe.



Finally, there would be a Genesai rogue, Mouse. No, that's not "Genasi", it's "Genesai". Yeah. Not a fan of the name, but the race's idea is actually quite awesome - born from the mix of angelic and demonic heritages, these beings contain the blood of both upper and lower planes, marking them with an unnatural aura, but also allowing them to create a blade of conflicting energy, the shattersoul blade, and damage foes with force damage bonuses. A streetchild born into poverty, her fate would have been grim in any other world - in Abaddon, this is doubly true. Thankfully, she was recruited early into a thieves' guild - unfortunately for her, though, the Boss of the guild tended to lock her up, even though she proved a superb cat burglar. Breaking free, tipping off the guards and no, truly liberated for the first time in her life, she wanders the world. A cool, nice character, though her selections of daggers as weapons of choice isn't that impressive.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor formatting and editing glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a more printer-friendly version as well. All characters get DROP-DEAD-GORGEOUS mugshots by Juan Diego Dianderas and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Kalyna Conrad and Eric Hindley have created a nice array of characters here, with several diverse backgrounds and interesting histories. That being said, the per se vivid prose tends to feature some minor hick-ups here and there. Another slight issue would be that, if you're looking for core-race characters, you won't find any humans here and the Obsidian Apocalypse races aren't perfectly balanced among themselves - e.g. the Lykians could be considered rather strong and among themselves, the characters have different degrees of efficiency in their choices of equipment, skills, etc.

That being said, the characters per se are well-written, if not as brilliant as some I've seen in the line - probably also due to the lack of an explicit campaign starting point, they don't have much in the way of tying them together - one of the smarter things both this series and similar pregen-collections did. So yeah, get ready for coming up with a way why these guys and gals hang out together. This, of course, is partially the result of Obsidian Apocalypse being highly modular in its primal catastrophe.



I maintain, though, that by writing connections into their background, the value of these folks could have been further increased. Now don't get me wrong, I'm complaining on a high level here, but another thing I won't get used to is the amount of blank space - each character comes with 3-4 pages, 1-2 pages for the statblock, 1 full page of background, description etc. and on the final page, the rest of said personality/background information - which amounts sometimes to 2/3 of a page covered, which is nice...but also has instances, where one or two paragraphs are all that is on the page. Yes, this is graphically offset by a grayed image of the mugshot in the background and not TOO aesthetically jarring, but I caught myself thinking that all this blank space could have been used for something - more story, more distinguishing features/mannerisms, more level progression advice, variants...something. This phenomenon did show in other Adventure Path Iconics-pdfs, but in this one, it is especially jarring, with two characters (who have some tantalizing tidbits in their background that could use further development!) sporting using about 1/6 of their final page.



Now don't get me wrong - this is by no means bad. In fact, It's rather nice...but still, I found myself just not as moved by the characters as in other installments of the series. As pregens, though, they do a serviceable job that allows you to jump right into Obsidian Apocalypse and thus, I'll settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Path Iconics: Path of Undeath (PFRPG)
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Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2014 03:37:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This guidebook to help aspiring freelancer is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so what is this book about?



Essentially, this book is Creighton Broadhurst's wisdom (with a slew from John Bennett thrown in for good measure), or at least a part of it, regarding the nature of freelancing - and in case you wonder - he does explain, sans hubris or pretensions, what qualifies him to give this advice - which is valuable.



Now usually, I go into a point-by-point analysis of a product's contents, but seeing that I'd have to essentially reproduce the whole book in this case, I'll instead tell you about some of the articles herein: First of all, examine why you want to go into freelancing - 12 reasons against it (like "for the money", "problems with taking criticism") and 8 reasons in favor - while I'd consider many of these self-evident, experience has shown that not everyone is in the know regarding the realities of the rpg-industry; I've seen people actually expect completely unrealistic things, so reading these should provide a nice reality-check for aspiring authors. Once you've decided to take the plunge, make sure you follow his GOLDEN RULES.



They're called like that for a reason - from editing, knowing and playing the game as well as the target audience/publishers, contracts etc. - there is a lot to take into account and yes, this includes the acceptance that whatever you write, it WILL be edited. Proper project management advice and further reading (re Kobold Press' EXCELLENT, nay MANDATORY design-books, for example!) further should provide several excellent starting points for aspiring freelancers.



Now the essential thing beyond quality is actually getting things on (virtual) paper -advice for being productive is extensive herein and as a person who values efficiency (otherwise I wouldn't be able to review...at all), I can attest that these are not only valuable, they even managed to teach an old dog like me a new trick or two, even if the pieces of advice in question were not that complex - just reading them has a benefit in itself -and yes, "Turning off the internet is just one of the pieces of advice I can attest to regarding efficiency, as is listening to music -fun fact: Whether I'm writing for my day-job, supplements or reviews: The proper music, much like a good work-out, can get you faster into the proper mindset. While Creighton doesn't go deep into details, I'll be egoistical for a second and provide some examples from my own array of writing-music.



Complete derail of the review in favor of some of my favorite tunes to write:

Are you writing something viking-themed? Get Turisas' "Varangian Way" or Týr's "Blood of Heroes" or anything by Amon Amarth. You're writing some dark "Sword & Sorcery"-stuff? Put Bal-Sagoth on your speakers. Decadent gothic horror/fantasy? From "Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio" to bands like "Pretentious, moi?" or "Project Pitchfork" (Beholder, for example!), a mix of low-key songs and sinister, pumping beats can go a long way. And once you need to get stoked, KMFDM's "Hau Ruck" or Sabaton/Blind Guardian make for a great background to get into the proper set of mind. Oh, and if you need some inspiration for disturbing imagery, there's not much that surpasses Sopor Aeternus' "La Chambre d'Echo" and for dark sci-fi "Darkspace", for bloody, fast-paced martial arts, Combichrist's "Today I Woke to a Rain of Blood". Finally, there's no track that better encapsulates a feeling of desolation on a post-apocalyptic level than the brilliant "78 Days in the Desert" by Sólstafir.



/derail



Sorry, got a bit lost there. Where was I? Oh, yes, project outlining - tips for properly outlining projects are provided herein as well and once you have started your career, the struggle is anything but over: Properly "leveling up" by pitching the right stuff the right way to the right people is crucial as well. Another page covers reasons why you want your own web-site - whether as a blog, a site or something else: There are benefits here and yes, the virtues and how and what to publish here are explained concisely.



Now what would make my job as a reviewer much easier is if everybody checked the "How to Kill your Career"-page here: There is a reason Raging Swan Press supplements only rarely miss the highest echelons of my rating system, and from missing deadlines to bad spelling etc., I can only fathom what some publishers have to deal with submission-wise. In fact, I do have some partial insights behind the curtain and having seen some submissions as they reach the respective publishers is sometimes horrifying to behold. Oh and there is the "Don't Argue with Reviewers"-point - at least here, I don't mind an argument, as long as it's CIVIL. I've been insulted, called out and even threatened and don't react well to the like - though I try to keep a calm head. Now on the other hand, I'm not perfect, nor is any other reviewer out there, so if you write something and feel a review has an OBJECTIVE mistake, feel free to point it out and discuss the review in a civil manner. I believe I have managed to remain civil and helpful in most instances and always like to provide feedback for improvements and at least I'm not beyond saying "Mea Culpa", man up and rectifying mistakes I've made. Just my 2 cents, though. :)



Proper pitching of projects is also important and with some experience at choosing pitches under my belt, I can attest that these guidelines here should be followed. Next up would be advice not on the logistics of freelancing, but on the act of actual creation - from dungeon dressing to dungeons that make logical sense within the world and how to properly make a dungeon ecology that does not break one's sense of immersion, these pieces of advice are GOLDEN. Oh, speaking of which -how to properly craft unoccupied rooms is handled here as well. What? Yes. And you should read and take this page in - there is a reason Raging Swan Press-modules tend to feel that realistic, concise and alive - and these are an integral part of it! Encounters, Treasures, Settlements, NPCs, Villain motivations - all the following pages should be considered a Bullet Point-check list to avoid bad design-choices and, more importantly, bland ones.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant standard with 1-column-articles that fit (if your eyesight is as good as mine) up to 4 pages on one sheet of paper, making this very friendly on the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Creighton Broadhurst has provided a collection f articles and lists here that every aspiring freelancer should check out - the advice is thoroughly sound, concise and as a check-list to avoid design-sins and issues, this pdf can be considered an invaluable guide to help you get into freelancing - a cool and useful companion to have, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Be Awesome At Freelance Game Design
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Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2014 03:33:46
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



The first archetype we get here would be the Deadmagic Oracles - these oracles are devoted to returning magic to dead magic zones à la Mana Wastes - as such they have a unique restriction - they may only take revelations with the (ex)-type. If they can no longer take a new (ex)-revelation, they cannot progress in the class any longer. You better choose your mystery carefully with this one! A list helps with this choice, though. Curse-wise, we also get a restriction - no haunted-curse, no curses that provide access to spells. At 12th level, all deadmagic oracles get antimagic zone as a bonus spell. Now spellcasting is weird here - these oracles can essentially cast spells as extraordinary abilities - as long as the player can convincingly explain it. Essentially, the balance is all up to negotiation between player and DM. Also, spells for deadmagic oracles usually require material components thus. Sorry. this is...broken. Extraordinary abilities don't have verbal or somatic components (and usually not even material components), and the ability does not specify they retain that. Furthermore, extraordinary abilities cannot be dispelled, counterspelled etc. - which makes them the strongest of abilities. The pdf would have needed to clarify that spellcasting essentially remains intact, including concentration etc. The ability is intended to be flavorful, but ends up one of the most broken pieces of crunch I've seen in a while. Which sucks, for clearly, the idea is cool - especially the option to 1/day cast a spell in dead magic zones (later up to 3/day) and a capstone that transforms the oracle into a linnorm - permanently, I might add, make for damn cool options.



We also get 4 new mysteries, first of which would be the apocalypse: At 11th level, one revelation allows you to quadruple a chosen energy type's damage once per day. Yes. Quadruple. Oh, it stacks with empower spell and maximize spell. Do I even have to explain the issue here? Beyond balance, it also is per default a standard action as a revelation and thus incompatible with most spellcasting. Another revelation allows you switch a known spell with another one from your spell-list, provided you have a scroll of the spell. Is the scroll consumed? I assume so, but overall, this is broken either way - the oracle's limited array of spells is one of its balancing factors and this completely gets rid of that factor. Fire and Brimstone deals damage - half of which is fire. What the other half is...no idea, the ability doesn't tell. Too many broken pieces in an otherwise interesting mystery.

Oracles of the sigils mystery allows you to render adversaries shaken or even stunned with your sign. Unfortunately, the ability fails to specify what type of action making this gesture is, though I assume the default standard action for the activation of a revelation. Wildering in Rune Magic (I.e. Words of Power) and bloodrunes (Legendary Classes: Rune Magic) is also possible - all in all, a solid nice little mystery. The Shifting Sands mystery has some cool ideas - drying up massive quantities of water, guarding yourself with sand armor, immunity to poison, affecting vermin etc. are added to the obligatory endure elements and calling camels, sinking foes in the ground - all in all, perhaps the coolest desert-themed ability-suite I've seen in a while. Two thumbs up!



The final mystery would be the Wasteland mystery, which allows you to clad yourself in armor made from hair, skin etc. summon phantom chariots, emit a sonic-damage dealing scream, commune and communicate with nature, thrive on minimum food and water, be a master of your terrain and finally glide through it as per the ability and spell. Again, nice mystery.



We also get a sample character, with Mijaer, an orcale level 3 using the unfortunately broken apocalypse mystery.





Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no too excessive issues. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard with a pixelated excerpt of the Porphyra-map being the one piece of full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, which is neat to see.



This pdf is decidedly high concept and has glorious ideas - but author Perry Fehr is sometimes simply sloppy with his crunch - the apocalypse mystery could have been easily cleared up and the archetype is awesome in concept, but boils down to "Tough luck balancing that, DM - you won't get good guidelines or rules herein - have fun devising tons upon tons of material components and arguing a lot with your player.". That is a cardinal sin of commercial roleplaying design and is a huge no-go. I'm all for fluff and sensible solutions between DM and player - but this archetype opens an infinite can of worms and discussions and is simply broken as provided. Which sucks, for the idea and rest of the archetype are cool. In fact, this pdf suffers from some abilities that just look like they've been cranked out, when some refinement could have made them actually work. On the one hand, some glitches would have me rate this down...on the other hand, what works is actually exceedingly cool and the price-point is very low. Still, with the issues herein, I have to reflect that in the rating and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the purpose of this platform, though only by a small margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Oracles of Porphyra [PFRPG]
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The Gadgeteer: Mother of Invention [PFRPG & D&D 3.5]
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 18:34:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive, highly-customizable, complex base-class by Interjection Games is 38 pages long, 1page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 35 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The gadgeteer-class gets d8, proficiency with medium armor and shields as well as simple weapons, hammers (light war- and lucerne), 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills per level and no good saves. Yeah, all slow progression -how come? The answer is simple: At first level a gadgeteer chooses one of 3 so-called professional angles - essentially a set of skills that are added to the list of class skills. Beyond that, each professional angle corresponds to one save, which then becomes the good save of the class, with the regular good save progression as noted in the class table's professional angle save entry. Nice idea for some basic customization here. To represent a wide array of expertise, 5th level and every 4 levels after that net the class Skill Focus: Knowledge (any) as a bonus feat



Gadgeteers of 2nd level also get a bonus to saves against mechanical traps and a bonus to AC versus their attacks that scales up to +5. As a minor gripe - the ability once calls the gadgeteer "rogue". At 11th level, the gadgeteer also gets essentially evasion against traps as long as she/he is not under the effects of int damage/drain or wearing too heavy armor. Now onwards to the central feature, the gadgets - Gadgeteers need to have 10+ total amount of structure points of the respective item, with saves per default being 10 + 1/2 class level +int-mod. There are two types of blanks for gadgeteers: Custom weapon and custom accessory blanks. Each blank starts with 1 structure point assigned to it. The total amount of structure points per blank increases by +1 at 3rd level and 7th level and every 4 levels after that. Accessory blanks can be enhanced via add-ons (which depend on the item) and custom weapons have three types of enhancements: Offensive, defensive and addon: Each custom weapon can only have one enhancement per type, i.e. no two defensive customizations on one weapon. In order to improve a weapon, a gadgeteer needs to be proficient with it and apart from that, anything, from mundane to artifact-level may be enhanced by the gadgeteer. HOWEVER, in order to retain a weapon's enhancement bonus, a number of SP equal to the weapon's enhancement bonus need to be expended, thus meaning that powerful weapons are harder to modify. If the points are not expended, the weapon counts as simply masterwork. The preparation of these gadgets follows much the same rules as the prepared spellcasting of spellcasters, i.e. 8 hours rest + preparation time. Daily uses, if applicable, are also reset thus. It should be noted that custom weapons take a full 8-hour slot to assemble/disassemble. Gadgets have a fixed maximum amount of Gadget Points assignable per blank, starting at 1 at first level and increasing by +1 at 3rd level and every 4 levels after that up to a maximum of 6 points (GP versus SP)



So far, so (relatively) linear - additional blanks (either accessory OR weapon!) are gained at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter up to 16th level, though a gadgeteer may never have more than 3 accessory or 3 weapon blanks. While I get the restriction here, 3 feels a bit limited - personally, I would have preferred a limit of 4. At 2nd level, gadgeteers get access to a second pool of SP - 1/2 class level + int-mod. These can be used to further modify blanks that already have their SP expended.



Finally, at 20th level, the gadgeteer may chose from one of 6 different capstones - so-called masterpieces, which can come as a bonus to saves and an attribute via a self-performed operation. More interesting would be a filtration-unit that can fire adamantine needles that deal five points of attribute damage in addition to some base damage. Alternatively a 10d6/instant-destroying crystallization-spray (cool idea, but why not follow the extreme-damage-formula of most PFRPG-death effects?) or contact lenses that provide a fire-damage dealing gaze attack, 3/day rerolls via talking to alternate reality versions of oneself, while universal lubricants can add +20 to checks rolls against grapples, cancel entanglement/staggered conditions and autotrips anything trying to pass over it.



We also get favored class options for the core-races, aasimar, tieflings, kobolds, puddlings, hobgoblins and drow and 3 feats for the class: Extra Parts increases your spare parts pool gained at second level by +1. Jury-rigging allows you to McGuyver your way out of tight situations - each accessory gadget has materials - as long as these are available, you may scrap one of your accessories (or use a blank if you have one) and spontaneously recreate one accessory of your liking at a -2 SP-penalty. This takes 1 minute per SP-cost and can be done only to one accessory per day. Finally, quicker custom weapon assembly/disassembly is possible.



Speaking of custom weapons - a total of 3 pages are devoted to the list of custom weapon modifications, providing type, SP-cost, prerequisites and effects at one handy look before going into details. So what do these do? Well, let's take the first cluster of abilities - via diverse alchemical procedures, weapons can grant +2 to Str, Dex, Con, damage or +1 to hit - all with different requirements regarding the necessary ranks in Craft (alchemy). None too wowed, well, as always with Interjection Games' classes, there are some abilities here that make use of more obscure rules - there is for example a berserker button - pressing this declares the next attack with the weapon a smite (unfortunate nomenclature there), which, when hitting a construct, nets it a significant chance to from there on go berserk. Especially tinkers or machinesmiths will learn to hate this one, I'd wager! You can also add e.g. +1 bleed damage for -2 to AC, +1 AC for -1 to initiative( which makes me wonder - does the penalty apply even when not wielding said weapon?) or make your weapon a charge-deterrent.



The weapon can also net you AoOs at -4 (reducing the penalty at higher levels) against charges made against you. Increasing CMD or CMB, a capsule that releases 1 minutes worth of breathable air, adding a battery to a weapon that deals additional damage (untyped, probably should have either the weapon's type or deal electricity damage) when expending charges (or later, lesser damage sans charges...) or ignoring partially miss chances and damaging incorporeal foes - quite some options here. Adding small cones of elemental damage is also possible, as would be easier hiding of weapons via sleight of hand, absorbing up to gadgeteer level points of physical damage. Elemental batteries can provide resistance at the cost of minor penalties to saves against other elemental attacks. You can also have your weapon mimic the energy you're damaged by, hurl balls of energy, react to energy damage by gaining temporarily fast healing - thankfully with a minimum amount of damage. *packs away the bag of elementally-infused kittens* What about adding a hamster-powered light to your weapon? Yes, the class is suffused by cool, unobtrusive humor like this. Beyond expanded threat ranges, adding int-mod instead of str to weapon damage (also relevant for composite bows now using int) is another option available to the gadgeteer. The Kinetic Potential Conversion unit may act either offensively, defensively or both, allowing you to gain charges by being damaged physically and using this momentum either offensively or defensively - depending on which version you chose. While in theory, you could get 1-damage-dealing dire-kitten-adversaries and fast heal/regenerate/orison-cure, the limited bonuses granted don't make this strategy rewarding.



Laser Sights added to ranged weapons allow you to make a standard attack action at +4 to hit and you can tie weapons to your hand via leather straps, gain SR, mental/physical poisons...and there is Mr. Thingy. What's that, you ask? Well, it's a gadget that temporarily adds a random condition to foes hit by your weapon upon the expenditure of a charge - said conditions upgrade over the levels, getting a second table and more rolls. And yes, fear-based ones count as mind-affecting - nice catch!

Rerolling mind-affecting saves at +2 DC, adding a weapon's enhancement bonus again as an insight bonus to damage or as enhancement bonus to AC, immunity to mundane splash weapons (alchemist bombs are still a problem), incurring bleed damage to cancel out poisons/diseases on a successful save...there are some rather unique tricks here. Take for example one particular gadget that converts your weapon's damage to positive energy, thus healing the person hit (at decreased potency at range to maintain balance) - cool idea as a minor support healer, though limited by charges. What about a gadget that turns the weapon to creature-type bane for the day upon hitting the first creature? Or gadgets that penalize natural attacks/unarmed attack by dealing thorny retribution damage? Increased combat maneuver bonuses? There are A LOT of customization options here, especially when taking into account that magical weapons can be enhanced with these, stacking further damage upon them.



Which also brings me to a minor point of criticism - the additional SP-cost-tax is dependent on a magic weapon's enhancement bonus, thus requiring the weapon's custom special qualities like flaming etc. be suppressed - while I get why this was done, a synergy would have been awesome to see, especially since due to not all enchantments adhering to straight bonuses; codifying these would have been a monumental task and a near endless herding of multi-dimensional kittens on speed, but still - it would have been awesome to see. Okay, so this was me complaining at a high level, so onwards to accessories, shall we?



A total of 13 accessories are presented, each with its own custom set of add-ons - take adhesive strips: a total of 10 add-ons can be added to the strips and they can be used to repair objects, weapons and be used to improvise weapons - sans add-ons. With them, they can be sued to tape shut the mouth of adversaries (including bleed damage upon removal for bearded adversaries) and yes, even the fixing of constructs and complex devices, glue foes/objects to walls, improvise ammunition, entangling taped foes, or add bleed damage and further increase the efficiency of improvised weapons. As mentioned, each entry of add-ons etc. comes with materials for true Mcguyver-scrapping AS WELL AS information whether or not it can be jury-rigged.



What about a chemical dispenser that can be used to render alchemical items useless but also alternatively maximize their numerical potency? Sounds awesome...BUT: Can they be used on extracts/bombs/etc.? I *assume* no, but as written, a tag-team of alchemist/gadgeteer would be fearsome indeed. On the interesting side, the add-ons allow the dispenser to negate e.g. the effects of glitterdust, blinding powder etc. or makes the dispenser dissolve unattended inorganic objects (why no damage for constructs/items?) or temporarily grant DR, but receive the damage after that (but not below 0) via Titan.-(Arkham City, anyone?)



Next up would be Cigars - these come with an integrated micro-camera. Yes. Photography. No, I don't see an issue there -especially since info on cracking the micro black box is given -nice story-telling potential for espionage-themed scenes and in a world of excessive divination, I don't see this breaking the mood. On to the add-ons - Itching powder, knockout darts, especially noxious fumes, increased DCs to crack the box or detect it and yes, even a PARACHUTE (clamp down on the cigar...as tight as your mouth allows...) make this gadget awesome in every way.



More esoteric would be the Doppler Device, which provides concealment that can't be pierced by true seeing and may be extended to allies -that's about it, though. Only 3 modifications here. More are available for the energy bar compressor - these can turn food into energy bars that heal the persons eating them (or damage undead - yeah, death by snickers!) - but eating more than one causes indigestion (sickened!) sans save - nice bluffing potential here. Special animal bars that make handling them easier. If you don't want to spend ranks in profession (cook), you can use craft (metalworking) via add-ons instead and yes, you can make mushroom-bars that nauseate tricked adversaries via their disgusting food additives. Still, overall, this one feels rather weak for its investment... I can't help but feel it could require a power-upgrade.



Extreme Vision Goggles can grant the gadgeteer low light vision and can be enhanced for a low-range fire-damage-dealing gaze attack and/or darkvision, increase saves versus blinding/dazzling effects (and resistance versus light-based spells), dazzle adversaries or help your sleuthing. The Facetome allows the gadgeteer to duplicate an adversary's face, producing very convincing disguises by pressing the mold first to the target to be copied and then to him/herself. Among the add-ons, "saving" one face for later use, gaining DR 5/- and further increasing disguise and bluff as well as distorting the face in a frightening manner are possible. I got a distinct clayface-vibe here - which is awesome as far as I'm concerned.



The Fist Cannon can be enhanced by elements, supercharge it and convey additional detrimental effects to those hit depending on the elemental damage chosen. Flare Guns can be used to create colored flares, burning and/or smoking flares and even add inhaled toxins to the smoke of the flare gun. All right, the next one had me chuckle - the joy buzzer allows the gadgeteer to daze foes with melee touch attacks, dealing electricity damage, send foes prone via the shock, stun or bull rush the target or reduce the target's movement rate. As a joker-fan, I really liked this one! The multifunctional pocketknife is all about utility, getting an inexhaustible supply of tindertwigs and one daily use of antitoxin (which I assume can't be sold - a caveat would be in order here...) , bonuses to open locks or disabling traps, ignoring the hardness of glass or reflect incoming rays with an opposing attack roll as a readied action or create mundane metal or wood items, raw materials provided, in one hour or extend to a 10-foot pole.



Sound Emitters are essentially remote-wired megaphones that can be augmented to deal sonic damage (including a dog whistle option that only damages animals, magical beasts and anthropomorphic humanoids like catfolk, canids, tengu etc.), longer wires, ear-drum rupturing blasts, damage to objects (and beings of glass/crystal) - name the sound-based mayhem, it's here. Something for dandys and femme fatales would be the stealth lipstick -poisonous like the kiss of Poison Ivy, the potency of the poison and which attribute it affects can be changed - as can the poison be made plant-based. Personally, I would have enjoyed a slightly reduced poison-damage for a longer duration/multiple saves to cure, but that is somewhat cosmetic of a gripe. Get it? Yeah, I'll punch myself in the face later for that one.



The final gadget would be the automated workhorse - while useless in combat, it can make your bed, cook etc. and thus delivers morale bonuses to those employing them. Functions can, via add-ons, be triggered at precise times and the morale bonus can be upgraded and even shared. It should be noted that all accessories come with add-ons that increase their uses/day - these can be taken multiple times, limited by the class level of the gadgeteer.



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are good - though not as tight as I'm used to by Interjection Games: For once, the header spells "Gadgeeer"[sic!], missing a "t" on each and every page's central box - which made me exceedingly neurotic during the reading of this. Beyond that, quite a few entries read "Gadget points" instead of "Structure Points", which was the beta's terminology and could result in some confusion. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and artwork is thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes with rudimentary bookmarks - but not truly extensive ones. Individual accessories, for example, get no individual bookmark, which makes navigation slightly less comfortable than I would have liked.



Ahhh, Interjection Games classes - there are none quite like them out there. With the notable exception of Morgan Boehringer's superb Direlock, none take me as long to review as mastermind Bradley Crouch's beasts (looking especially at you, Ethermancer and Mechgineer!), and there's a reason for that - they have a lot of customization-options, are complex and never simple in their math. That being said, my primary gripes with them tend to be minor instances where things are handled slightly differently than in comparable spells/maneuvers etc. Then I started looking in-depth at this one...and was honestly surprised.



Why? Well, most classes are centered on combat. This one is not. Yes, it has combat capabilities, yes, fiddling with one's customized weapons is fun. But honestly, the class is simply not that awesome in combat and after Tinker, Herbalist and especially Ethermancer, I somewhat expected another class with such a focus. Still, the spark did not really ignite me - the weapon customizations are nice, yes, but the gadgeteer is generally is decidedly not about inflicting max damage.



It's not intended to. Its only restrictions to what it can do are the skill ranks/levels required, which means each gadgeteer has an incredible amount of things to do/jury-rig - and these, especially the accessories, can be summed up as "Batman's Rogue's Gallery's Gadgets - the Class" - which honestly hits a VERY soft spot of mine. I'm a total Batman fanboy and from cigar-parabols to buzzers, the gadgeteer makes for a superb gimmick-based agent-type character. Will the gadgeteer shine in every campaign/environment? No. While not a bad choice in dungeon-crawls, the class is simply not that geared towards hacking and slashing everything apart, instead providing ample thoroughly unique options that have been lacking in the game so far. In short, it does something defiantly new in its focus on the ROLEplaying, with multiple options requiring smarts of not only the character, but also the player. If you're into espionage/investigation-modules, this should be considered a required purchase. The gadgeteer makes for a great support character that has its best moments to shine beyond the tawdry concerns of combat - and it is, at least in my opinion, that is what makes it great.



That being said, I also think that the gadgeteer, more so than other Interjection Games base classes, would benefit extremely from expansions, so here's to hoping we'll see some - the agent's toolbox still has quite a few options the class could emulate beyond its already impressive arsenal and an Innovator-like monster-weapon with even further enhancements to weapons might turn out to make the class also more interesting in combat. What about customizing armor? Bluffing magical means of detection/discerning truth? Expansion potential galore that unfortunately also shows that teh base-class, while good, could use some further fuel to widen its focus.

That being said, there are some minor glitches here as well - take e.g. the custom weapon modifications: Do e.g. penalties also apply when not wielding the weapon? Why can certain acids not be applied against constructs? There are a few of these instances, and while not enough to drag this class down, they remain minor blemishes.



The gadgeteer is not a min-maxer's class, but it's a great class for anyone who wants to go secret agent/MacGuyver and aforementioned complaints should not deter you from taking a look. As written, due to the glitches and minor oversights, though, I have to rate this down to 4 stars - in spite of really, really loving what the class does.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Gadgeteer: Mother of Invention [PFRPG & D&D 3.5]
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Mythic Options: The Missing Core Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 18:26:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf with a short fluffy introduction before explaining the intent of this pdf - simply put, it expands the mythic rules by providing all the mythic versions of feats from the core book that have not been covered in Mythic Adventures. Take for example the armor proficiency feats - their mythic equivalents allow you to add1/2 their AC-bonus to CMD and allow you to expend mythic power to add "it" to touch attack AC - whether that refers to the full AC-bonus or the halved AC-bonus, though, I'm not sure. The mythic version of agile maneuvers allows you to add both str and dex to calculate CMB. Mythic Combat Casting scales up its non-mythic brethren-feat's bonus to +8 to concentration and you no longer lose the spell when failing the check. Additionally, ranged touch attack spells successfully cast defensively no longer incur an AoO.



The mythic crafting feats are interesting - for one, you may 1/day expend mythic power to accomplish 8 hours of work for an item you are creating - the items potentially just pop up, I guess since no duration, not even a standard action, is given. While that is a very minor issue in my book, brewing potions no longer limited by level cap is kind of awesome. Mythic Craft wands allows you to make wands sans charges that work 3/day instead of ones that have 50 charges, whereas crafters of rods may use constant or limited use items sans wearing them in the proper slot. Mythic Craft Wondrous Item deserves special mentioning, since it allows you to actually change the form of your item into another - though the boundaries there are thankfully fluff and left to the DM, e.g. changing items into ioun stones and the like becomes possible - though costly: Different shapes are more expensive, ioun stones adding a whopping +100% to the item's price.



The mythic weapon proficiency-feats make iterative attacks be reduced by only 4 instead of the standard 5 and does not modify the amount of attacks granted, meaning the second attack is NOT gained at a reduced BAB of +5, but still at +6 as per the default rules. Okay, I guess, but nothing too exciting here. There is also a group of feats that essentially deals with extra-uses of limited per day abilities, adding additional uses per day and allowing you to expend mythic power when having expended the respective ability for the day to still use it, thus gaining additional channel energy/lay on hands/ki etc. uses.



On the saves-side, there are mythic versions of improved iron will/great fortitude/lightning reflexes that allow you to 1/day replace your save's result with 20+ your will-save upon failing a given save, making for a nice last second save. Mythic Improved Two-weapon Fighting allows you to follow up successful AoOs with your primary weapon with your secondary weapon and also make attacks with both your primary and secondary weapon as a standard action. Does this means it's stackable with vital strike? Vital Strike is per default an attack action (a standard action) -if so, are both weapons modified with the benefits of vital strike? This is rather important, since the feat-chain for vital strike herein is rather insane, even for mythic rules - the improved version multiplies all damage, even that which is normally exempt from multiplication by the number of weapon damage dice and the greater version ignores hardness/energy resistance etc. Now if two weapon fighting can be combined with vital strike here, would the combined weapon damage dice of primary and secondary weapon be multiplied or would each weapon "only" get its own damage dice? As written, all damage dice used for one use of vital strike would be multiplied, which would lead to even more ridiculous amounts of damage.... On another side - Mythic Improved Two Weapon fighting has a bit of a weird discrepancy between BAB and mythic tier-prerequisites - BAB+6 and 5th tier feel a bit disjointed. Usually, one assumes roughly 1 mythic tier per 2 levels, which would either make this mythic tier 3rd or BAB +10. While the majority of feats herein adhere to aforementioned guidelines, here and there strange deviations like this can be found.



Metamagic feats also get a mythic overhaul -maximize spell's mythic brother amps up damage to 150% and allows you to cast the spell as its regular maximized version without having it prepared in advance thus by expending 2 uses of mythic power. Beyond rather obvious solutions like this, quicken spell allows you in its mythic incarnation to prepare any spell as a quickened spell and even cast those with specific numbers of targets as an AoO at the provoking adversary. What's slightly odd would be Mythic Shield Master - while I can get behind getting AOOs from being missed or retaliatory AoOs, I'm a bit at a loss as to why the additional AoOs per round granted follow a strange curve - +1 AoO for bucklers, +2 AoOs for small shields, +3 AoOs for large shields...but only +1 AoO for a tower shield. The logic here seems to be larger shield=more AoOs; Not complaining about the feat, mind you, just not getting the logic why bucklers and tower shields are equally "bad" at granting additional AoOs - Either +4 AoOs or +2 would make more sense to be. *shrugs* (That won't feature in the final verdict, though!)



Remember the discrepancy I mentioned between BAB and mythic tier? The most obvious offenders would be the Xing-critical feats - Mythic Sickening Critical, just to name one, has a prereq of BAB+11 and mythic tier 2nd. Effect-wise, these btw. allow you to 1/round expend 1 use of mythic power to inflict the effects of the respective feat upon foes rather than dealing regular damage - but never more than one feat's effects. Okay, I guess, but not that mind-blowing. Mythic Whirlwind attack is rather insane - One target eats your full attack in addition to your regular whirlwind attack, while with 2 uses of mythic power, you can full attack EVERY TARGET IN RANGE. Doesn't sound so bad? Add class levels to a monster of colossal size, equip a reach weapon, watch everything DIE- especially since unlike its basic non-mythic version it does not come with the caveat that bonus or extra attacks are exempt from this whirling typhoon of death. BAB+4 and 5th mythic tier once again feel a bit disjointed.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column full-color standard with okay artworks interspersed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Owen K.C. Stephens is a talented designer and provides a pdf here that is extremely helpful for mythic campaigns, one that adds quite a bit of options to the table and one that even has what one could consider ingenious options. Here and there. Honestly, not all mythic feats are that interesting and while well-crafted in Owen's trademark thoroughness, here and there some potential issues have crept in - while I won't indulge in the fallacy of assuming any type of coherent balance when it comes to mythic rules, some feats herein go a bit far for my tastes, even in the context of mythic adventures. Add to that the discrepancy in BAB/mythic tier with some feats and the none-too-cheap (though still justified) price-point and we arrive at a final verdict of 3.5 stars - and whether to round up or down ultimately depends on you: If what I've mentioned bugs you, round down, otherwise, round up. While as a person, I do round down, as a reviewer my rating adheres to in dubio pro reo and hence round up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Options: The Missing Core Feats
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Mythic Minis 3: Feats of Flight
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 18:21:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 3 pages long - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 1 page of content detailing mythic feats of flight, so let's take a look, shall we?



-Devastating Flyby (mythic): + mythic tier bonus damage on flyby attacks, also make drag, reposition or trip as a swift action with such an attack sans AoO with a bonus equal to your tier. When scoring a critical threat, expend one use of mythic power to automatically confirm the crit. Awesome - this makes flyby finally work in the iconic ways you'd expect!



-Flyby Attack (mythic): When making a flyby attack, you don't provoke AoOs with your movement from the target. Expend one use of mythic power to move twice your fly speed during a round of a flyby attack. Nice!



-Hover (mythic): As a non-AoO-threatening standard action, use dirty trick on all corporeal foes within 60 feet when hovering, potentially blinding/dazzling/staggering foes temporarily. The duration can be extended by spending mythic power. AWESOME!



-Improved Flight (mythic): +20 feet fly speed, +1 movement category. Okay.



-Silent Soarer (mythic): Get no penalty to stealth when flying at normal speed, also get minor bonuses when hitting foes flat-footed. Alternatively, use mythic power to add your mythic tier to stealth for 1 hour. Neat!



-Stratospheric Soarer (mythic): Immunity to altitude sickness and environmental damage from cold. Also better attacks from above and use 2 uses of mythic power to sleep while flying. Cool!



-Wingover (mythic): Make 360° turns sans requiring a fly-check or movement. Get a bonus to acrobatics to move through threatened squares and spend 1 use of mythic power to combine wingover to make turns while charging. Yes!



-Wingstorm (mythic): As a full-round action, create gust of wind as an Ex-ability, with increased areas if you are larger. Spend mythic power to duplicate the mythic equivalent of the spell.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.



Tom Phillips and Jason Nelson have hit the nail on the head here - the vast array of feats herein is killer, allowing you to duplicate all those cool tricks you know from literature - also, a dragon with these feats is simply awesomeness incarnate and so much closer to what dragons *SHOULD* be able to do - and beyond solid rules, these feats also breather the coolness and style mythic feats should come with - hence my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 3: Feats of Flight
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Mythic Minis 4: Marshal Path Abilities
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 18:17:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 3 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 1 page of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick these new abilities for the marshal path off with 3 new 1st tier abilities:



-Expert Aid: Use aid another via reach weapons; Add mythic tier to aid another attack-rolls and 1/2 mythic tier to the aid another bonus. Okay, I guess, but not too exciting.



-Teamwork Feat Mastery: Train one hour and spend one mythic power for +1 bonus teamwork feat; at 4th level, you can get 1/2 mythic tier of these wildcard teamwork feats. At 6th level, you can spend 2 uses of mythic power to cut training down to 1 minute. Usually, I'd complain about wildcard feats, but seeing that Teamwork feats aren't that numerous or powerful, I can live with this one.



-Unbroken Will: React with +2 to atk and saves after being affected by intimidate or a mind-influencing effect. If the effect would penalize atk or saves, suspend these penalties for one round. Additionally, non-mythic characters that prompt this ability via intimidate/mind-influence are flat-footed in this one round against you, whereas mythic adversaries get a sense motive-check against your bluff. I assume that the bluff-check is a free action here. At 4th level, you can use mythic power to confer this ability to an ally -does the marshal use the ability as it's conferred or not? At 8th level, all allies within 30 foot may benefit from this for two uses of mythic power - the question remains: Is the ability retained by the marshal? I'm honestly not sure. Also: I don't understand why the target is flat-footed against you for more than one attack.



We also get 3 3rd tier abilities:



-Conflicting Orders: When someone within 30 feet uses aid another, handle animal or a teamwork feat, you may negate this bonus as an immediate action. What about two characters acting at the same time using their teamwork feats? Does negating the benefit of one also cancel out the other? This works automatically for non-mythic creatures and those of a mythic tier below yours. You may also spend one use of mythic power to make a level-check versus caster level check (Why not against a fixed value? PFRPG usually uses a check versus fixed value mechanic, not competing d20-rolls...) to undermine the magical orders of charms/dominations etc. You may counter the orders of multiple creatures (mythic tier creatures) by expending 2 uses of mythic power. This second use of the ability should probably be a mind-influencing effect, which it as written, is not.



-Friendly Flanking: You always count as flanking when adjacent to an enemy with an ally, you don't have to be on the opposite side of the enemy. Spend 1 use of mythic power to share this with 1/2 mythic tier allies for 1 minute. Rather powerful...I'm not 100% comfortable with this one - add squads of rogues = PAIN.

-Shatter Resistance: Spend mythic power as part of an attack to temporarily lower spell resistance by your mythic tier. Okay, I guess, but not that interesting.



We also get a 6th-level ability:

-Resurging Speech: Use Resurging Words as a full-round action. If you speak for 1 minute, you can remove the fatigued condition and may heal hit points instead of granting temporary hit points. When spending 10 minutes, you may instead remove the exhausted condition and heal damage as well as grant mythic tier+ cha-mod temporary hit points. This one is actually rather cool, making a per se weak 1st tier choice work better at higher levels.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games beautiful 2-column standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason nelson delivers the second expansion of path-abilities - and while these are better than the ones the champion got, I am not 100% sold on quite a few of them and overall, there are wordings that could use some slight specification. that being said, this is by no means bad - hence my final verdict will clock in at a solid 3 stars. Solid, but not required.

Endzeitgeist out

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 4: Marshal Path Abilities
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Pathways #35 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/13/2014 18:13:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite free Pathways-e-zine is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of advertisement and 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let's take a look!



After David Paul's editorial gives us a run-down of the contents of this issue and the options contained herein, we are introduced to Steven D. Russell's template for this issue, the Chine creature at CR +3. Essentially, these beings hail from worlds where science (and intelligent constructs) have started assimilating everything. Studded with a massive hardness of 20 and fast healing - which is a bit odd, since usually construct creatures (apart from animated objects) get a DR - possibly even DR/-, but rather rarely hardness. Oh well, it's most an issue of nomenclature and does not impede functionality. Each Chine creature also gets an array of special abilities - a total of 16 ranging from blindsight to buzz saws and plasma tools are provided, adding more customization options. Worse, they come with electrical charges and wounds incurred from them can slowly turn you into a chine creature! On the downside, while they are highly resistant to energy, they lose all spellcasting prowess and supernatural aptitude and actually are rather susceptible to magic. The sample creature would be a mi-go at CR 9 - okay build. The artwork is okay, but nothing to write home about.



Liz Winters talks about using Realmswork and mastering in an interesting article and, as always, Raging Swan Press' Creighton Broadhurst has a new creature as well - one surprisingly far-out for a Raging Swan-character, and one better off for it: We are introduced to Klar, the GNOLL SAMURAI (Ronin) at CR 5. Yeah. Good Gnoll Samurai. Awesome.



Recently, some of the cool unique races by Rite have seen some support in Pathways. This time, we get favored class options for the half elf/half ogre-magi Wyrd: A total of 17 alternate racial traits for the wyrd are provided. Unfortunately, I'm honestly not sold on all of them - take greater spell resistance, which replaces one of their late level slas with SR 11+char level; Not being able to lower this one may be rather...interesting, but since the main sources of healing no longer need to be spells or SLAs, I think it may end up a bit on the strong side. On the other hand, better withdrawing (not provoking AoOs from two squares rather than one) makes for an interesting idea. As a nice option, the favored class options also cover gladiator, hellion, luckbringer, malefactor, Vanguard and War Master as well as the UC-classes - neat to see the support!



Steven D. Russell also has a new bard archetype for us, the Grifter - a con-man/spin-doctor who may conceal information from others, veil enchantments into casual conversation etc. - Grifter can cause even speak with dead result in lies! A smart, cool archetype that investigative players will loathe when used on an NPC... quite some story-telling potential here.



This issue's interview is all about Purple Duck Games, as Mark Gedak, mastermind of Purple Duck Games and 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming explains some recent cool projects they have on their hands as well as providing some insights into their Porphyra-setting - be sure to check this interview out!



Finally, we get some reviews of 5-star files by Mark K. and yours truly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as tight as some other Pathways -issues. I noticed a couple of obvious glitches that could have been prevented. Layout adheres to RuP's 2-column full color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Over all, this installment of the Pathways e-zine is a solid offering with some nice love for the cool Wyrd-race, a neat template and a nice archetype - my favorite this time around, though, would be Creighton's good gnoll samurai - far-out and cool, the character is sure to make an appearance in my game, also thanks to the nice full color illustration! This e-zine is free and hence, well worth your download, even if it's not 100% perfect - in the end, I'll settle on a final verdict of 4 stars with still a definite recommendation to download this asap.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #35 (PFRPG)
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