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Purple Mountain VI: The Well of Stars
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2014 10:56:08
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The sixth installment of Purple Duck Games superb Dungeon-module-series clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 42 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



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



As always, this module can be run as stand-alone or as a continuation from the continuously SUPERB last levels of Purple Mountain - also providing information for including this in PDG's Porphyra-setting. The pdf kicks off with a conflict - the PCs may endeavor to save some undines from derro aggressors, which include kineticists. Yes, this module is fully compatible with and makes use of Ultimate Psionics. Awesome! The undine princess Glubela then tells the PCs about being on a mission to the eponymous well of stars to take a mallet of the titans to a young kraken to bring down the cavern on the beast's head. Here is where the module turns uncommon - via the new helms of lesser underwater action, the PCs will have 72 hours beneath the waves before the helms deactivate - so yes, there is a timer on this beast of a module.



Braving psionic crysmals and diving into the depths of the well, we are once again shown how dungeons (and the underworld per se) ought to be: 3-dimensional. The palpable sense of doom when going underwater is fun to watch on the faces of just about any player...at least to me. Suffused beneath the waves lies a labyrinth of quartz and geode-littered wholly submerged tunnels sporting unique creatures like gemstone kapoacinths concealed as crystalline cysts. In the flooded tunnels, aquatic dark creepers, stalkers and slayers loom and the PCs will have to traverse a watery vortex, brave kelpies and crab swarms as well as crystalline ID oozes, amphibious, potion-brewing cloakers (and twisted halfbreeds - creepy!) - speaking of creepy: Of course the underworld tunnels also contains an aboleth mastermind - who also happens to be the master of said Undine princess.



Whether her betrayal turns things ugly or not depends among other things on how well they could handle all the aforementioned threats, whether they have been gullible and how they could e.g. deal with ulat-kini slime-herders, skum and finally, the psionic aboleth. In the aftermath, the PCs may well have an orb of dragonkind (dragonturtle) - which bodes well for future installments of the series! (Riding a dragon turtle into battle is 7 types of awesome...)



The pdf also comes with an extensive DM-cheat-sheet for underwater adventuring and also battle strategies for the respective characters as well as 5 magic items. Finally, we even get lists of XP by room, creature and a list of treasure/value/room-breakdown of the module, which also includes some solid trouble-shooting advice regarding aforementioned mallet.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience and also provides player-friendly (and MD-keyed) high-res .jpg-versions of the full color maps. The full color artwork ranges from cool to okay and the printer-friendly 2-column layout makes printing rather easy.



Purple Mountain is one of the most underrated series currently produced for Pathfinder by 3pps and I stand by that. Ever since the series has truly hit its stride with level 3, each and every level has provided joy galore to me - but this also means that this module had a tough legacy to live up to. I am happy to say it does live up to it - author Perry Fehr has crafted a thoroughly distinct underwater module with weird societies and strange customs. He uses his biggest strengths as an author to create believable, yet fantastic cultures and marries them with some decidedly high-concept ideas that make what otherwise would be a *relatively* straight-forward premise a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

There aren't many good aquatic modules out there and this one will not only cater to fans of Purple Mountain, but also provide fodder for adventure-starved psionics-advocates. It also would, with some minor work (mostly depth tolerance/buoyancy) make for a great module to put into the regions of Cerulean Sea's Azure Abyss. By the way: Waves of Thought, the psionic supplement for Cerulean Seas, would make for a superb collection of material with which an enterprising DM could further enhance a great module into an unforgettable one.

So yeah, in case you haven't noticed - I really enjoyed this sojourn through maddening depths, crystal-laced tunnels and habitations of things from beneath the waves. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain VI: The Well of Stars
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Village Backdrop: Chasm
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2014 10:52:24
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 visit Chasm, shall we?



Like all village backdrops, we get full settlement statblocks, short primers of local folk, demographics, a market place sections of items for sale, information on villager customs and clothing, sample rumors and village lore.



So what is Chasm all about? One look at the lavish b/w-map makes it immediately clear - we have a case of nomen est omen here - formerly known as Callowright, the village has been hit by a terribly disaster, with the eponymous chasm opening mid-village, swallowing buildings and people, sending them crashing down into the dark recesses of the earth. Now, years later, a twisted web of ladders, latticework and rope pulleys connect the halves of the village, with the looming threat of deadly duergar skulking in the darkness of the ravine.



Law and order, strange events and a mixture of oppression and an all-too-present catastrophe loom above the village, all while rare materials like mithril and adamantine draw fortune seekers like your adventurers into a setting, that will prove rather uncommon - for the duergar have entered a mutually beneficial alliance with the surface-dwellers, sending your PCs into an oscillating loop between pragmatism and idealism in a place that aptly visualizes not only the incision of catastrophe, but also the cultural divide between the two races. Included in the package is a statblock for a duergar mine guard and, as always, you can get player-friendly versions of the map on Ragingswan.com.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's printer-friendly, elegant two-column standard and the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use. The map is great. The pdfs also come with extensive bookmarks.



Christian Alipounarian has crafted a glorious village full of overt and covert symbolism and adventuring potential - beyond its top-notch adventuring potential, Chasm displays an unobtrusive, concise symbolism that adds an additional gravitas to the village, one that makes it resonate even beyond its unusual construction. Were I to complain about one thing, it would be that I would have loved a 3d/side-view of the village/inside of the ravine. Note, however, that at this price-point, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding village to visit. Even if your players don't get the symbolism, their subconscious will - and when handled by a capable DM, this will resound triumphantly within both PCs and players. A superb offering and, alongside Retribution, one of the few modules, where subtext unobtrusively underlines the point of the supplement, proving that intellectual concepts don't have to be shoved down the throat of one's audience. A joy to read - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Chasm
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Urban Dressing: Sages
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2014 10:50:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Urban Dressing-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The supplement wastes no time (or space) and provides us first a list of 50 entries that cover the general look of a sage's domain: Small shrines, winking fiancés, strangely old back doors, trees decorated with ornaments containing scribblings of an ancient language - a solid table, though one lacking in something truly weird.



The interior of the respective places are also covered: From neatly organized scrolls, to steins and desks bolted to the floor, we have quite an array of different dressings to lend an air of mystique alongside a sense of normalcy to the respective locales. A d20 table of whispers and rumors further enhances your options regarding the sage in question - from being actually of another race to bitter disputes with rival sages or being a poet operating under a nom de plume - some solid ideas here.



There also are 20 rather complex hooks and complications regarding sages: What if the local sage ahs recently passed away and now agents from all around the world are on the hunt for said sages' maps and notes - they might lead to long-forgotten treasures/nations/sites. Extremely awesome, since it takes the peculiarity of the installment into account, would be a short d6-table to check whether a given sage is actually available - perhaps the guy is not waiting for PCs to come around and earn a living! Two thumbs up - its small tables like this dealing with the unique topic that make dressing-files so much more useful!



We conclude this supplement with 10 short fluff-only entries (including hooks, mannerisms etc.) of sample sages, partially experts, partially PC-classes, all versatile. Nice to see here is that the evil sages among them actually are not gibbering psychos, but people with severe character flaws - two thumbs up for that! All too often, CE in a statblock means totally bonkers, while here, the character in question is actually fully functional.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant b/w-two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The thematically-fitting b/w-artworks fit the theme.



Brian Fitzpatrick's take on Sages at first didn't wow me - the tables depicting the outside of the respective shops are nice, yes, but not too exciting. Then, the pdf turned things up a notch and actually gets rather cool. Now I'm biased here: Scholars are vain and eccentric and have esoteric interests - so where are the ticks, the obsession/specialty of the respective sages? Where is the table that tells you that a sage is particularly interested in the nature-magic-channeling capabilities of the honeybee? Or perhaps the scholar is particularly invested in the discussion of whether global imprisonment-spells cast on all evildoers would end the threat of the abyss and the moral implications of such actions? Perhaps s/he is particularly obsessed with a certain poet/genre/occurrence? Perhaps he only writes with giant eagle quills? So much potential, none realized - a table of actual preferred pursuits for the sages would have made this so much more awesome and could also be used to indirectly characterize the sage in combination with the exterior/interior tables - as written, the titular sages are rather scarce in the pdf. This dressing-pdf works superb in crafting the surrounding of the sage, but the personal touch the pdf would require for indirect characterization is curiously absent.



Which is a pity, for this pdf is very close to being actually superb in what it tries to do and misses the mark by a margin. In the end, this dressing is anything but bad, but also fails to be truly excellent and feels a bit lacking. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Sages
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Razor Coast - Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2014 04:44:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

46 pages, 1 page front cover (by Wayne Reynolds), 1 page editorial, 3 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page dedication, 5 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover. That leaves 534 pages.

534. Pages.

It's been a long time since Razor Coast has been released and there's a reason my review took this long. First of all, let me preface this with a disclaimer: I can't, by any means, be truly neutral regarding Razor Coast. I just can't. you see, there would be no Endzeitgeist without this book. It was Razor Coast that made me excited enough about a book to actually end my online abstinence and register at Sinister Adventures back in the day. I didn't even have a Paizo account. I had no idea Rite Publishing or Open Design even existed. Without this book, NONE of my reviews would have ever been written. Without it, none of the friendships, none of the kind people would have ever entered my life. I was stunned by the kindness of Nick and Lou and then...Sinister Adventures went down. My heart bled, I raged, I reasoned...all the steps of grief, as pathetic as that may sound. I never ordered a refund. I waited. When Frog God Games took Razor Coast and uploaded the KS, I thought "NO WAY" - why? Because the funding goal seemed insane. The requirement to commit 30-buck preorders from back in the day, get new artwork etc. blew up the goal and you can't begin to understand the amount of exhilaration I felt when it funded...with flying colors, reaching all those stretch-goals. I couldn't believe it. At this point, not only had Razor Coast's prior vapor ware status been the grain of sand that was in the center of my decision to go reviewer, it had amassed such a n epic level of expectations, I started dreading the arrival of the massive tome (#213, btw.!) and all the bonus books I went for via the KS.



Then, I started reading it. And from a reviewer's perspective, I was looking at a problem of no small proportions - Razor Coast seems to defy proper reviewing. Usually, when I take a look at a module, I take a look at the plot, hooks etc. and then give you a synopsis of what to expect, try to analyze issues with the plot etc. Alternatively, a sandbox gets a similar treatment, but more free-form. Well, Razor Coast refuses to fit in either mold. So what is this monster's structure? We have inciting incidents, that kick off a given arc - two massive major plot-arcs suffuse this tome. These are supplemented with vignettes, set-pieces and stand-alone encounters as well as relationship subplots. These are here, and in the end, it's up to DM and players to decide in- and outgame which/what to pursue. Essentially, Razor Coast tries to combine the free-form modularity of a true sandbox campaign with the plot-driven structure of an AP.



Now, usually, I'd just give you a run-down of the general plot-structure - that doesn't work here. If I were to list everything herein, this review would probably be as long as all my Slumbering Tsar-reviews combined. So instead, I'll tell you about what can be found herein: First of all, there would be indulgences, i.e. Sinister Adventures' small pdfs, converted to the PFRPG-ruleset. This means that Craig Shackleton's dueling rules, including the bind combat maneuver, have been updated. These are intended to essentially make the swashbuckler a more valid option char-build wise and if used as intended for low-armor, dex-based fighter, makes sense. The thing is, the feats aren't particularly weak and while not per se broken, e.g. treating a one-handed piercing weapon as a reach weapon can be broken badly - enlarge character, magus levels etc. At prereq BAB +1, too easy to abuse, also thanks to the feat not requiring an explicit action, thus making it possible to combine this with other feats. Then again, the parrying rules per se are solid and have seen some use in my game. The Tulita-ethnography comes the throw maneuver (which feels unnecessary) and also some feats, one of which isn't as broken as it was in 3.X, but fixing unarmed threat range at 18 sans following usual rules of threat range enhancements would be bound to lead to confusion. The Mai'kal archetype gets a somewhat broken ability at 15th level, allowing them to, as an immediate action, reverse an attack on the adversary 1/round as an immediate action for 1 ki point. The essay on underwater adventuring contained here is also nice, though after the release of both Sunken Empires and Alluria Publishing's glorious Cerulean Seas, there are better options. But you don't want me to pick this one apart crunch-wise, do you? The adventure is what counts, so what can I say about it before I go into spoilers?



Let's give you an overview - the Razor Coast is a tropical paradise, though not one sans its dark past. The native population, the Tulita, lived in relative peace until colonialization began and the white/yellow/black/whatever men came and defeated them handsomely. Now, the once sacred whales are hunted, the eggs of the venerable turtle smashed and colonial ignorance has erected Port Shaw, a thriving port on sacred ground. Dark days have found the paradise in peril, as racial tensions rise and evil conspires above and beneath the waves. Here, one thing should be noted - the writing is superb. In a genre, where Freeport and Sasserine constitute two very iconic settlements with their own flavor, making a given age of sail-style settlement stand out is quite a feat and neither settlement would be confused with Port Shaw (though they probably could replace it with some work) -the writing makes the settlement, the whole coast really, come to life from the pages. immersion is also increased via the entries on e.g. deities in the appendix. Oh, have I mentioned that5 thanks to a collaborative effort with Green Ronin, the book actually offers information on how to handle both Freeport and Port Shaw in the same setting and how they geographically relate? Yes. Awesome.



Now beyond the leitmotif of colonialism and the resulting racial tensions and cultural warfare, we have a leitmotif of progress vs. nature in the guise of colonial powers destroying natural resources and killing essentially the sacred animal guides of the Tulita. This topic per se is rather subdued, though its presence can be felt in one of the main plots, but more on that later. Now I've mentioned relationship subplots - and these deserve the moniker. Essentially, Razor Coast is as character-driven and NPC-rich as you want and a former band of heroes, down on their luck and destined for an inglorious downfall, is provided in excruciating detail - these beings are characters in the truest sense of the word and while they all have been broken, the PCs have a chance to mend them. The same btw. holds true for the legendary widow of Captain Razor and even some antagonists - overall, indifference will lead to depressing ends indeed, while invested PCs can truly make a difference and save those souls from the abyss into which they gaze. If you're like me and read these, you'll probably recognize yourself or some of your friends n their darkest hours in these NPCs - yes, they're that detailed. So if your PCs are big on the ROLE of roleplaying, Razor Coast provides ample potential.



A DM also gets special tools - essentially, a level-by-level breakdown of potential plotlines/encounters to run as well as check-list-sheets for the respective levels/phases of the plot as well as an NPC-relationship tracker help further in making sense of the tremendously complex, vast array of potential plots one can craft from Razor Coast. Which is rather interesting, for the plot per se is as strong as you'd expect from a linear AP:



SPOILERS



Essentially, colonialism and the killing of animals has helped dread shark-god Dajobas and his chosen to return to shore. Dread were-sharks have infiltrated Port Shaw and expect to hold a massive feast of carnage and death in its streets. Furthermore, the legendary kraken-fiend has all but taken control of Port Shaw via a secret society and plans to soon reap the city. Then former plot is conspiracy 1, the second one no.2 and both make for linear, rather epic (apocalyptic, even!) scenes - within the modularity of the vast tome, these stories are what drives the meta-plot. And yes, they're infinitely more complex, tied to x characters, strange islands, sunken treasures, betrayals long past etc. And yes, in order to not bloat this review beyond 20 pages, that's all you'll be hearing from me regarding the plot(s).



/SPOILERS



Soooo...those plots and all the encounters, flavor etc. need to be organized. The tools are there. Before we go into that, another caveat, though - look at the end of the book. Among the indulgences, several mini-modules await and the book also features essentially what can be considered an additional Voodoo-themed adventure that is completely optional. These are NOT part of the main-book's outline, nor are the modules from the expansion "Heart of the Razor", though the latter help with levels in which the main material is a bit less versatile than one would expect. It should also be noted that the appendix features new creatures galore, including, yes, undead cannibal pygmies (and their unliving totems!), a race of degenerate Cyclopes, drugs, items both mundane and magical and much, much more. Have I mentioned the hand-out driven puzzle/treasure map, options for underwater adventuring etc.?



Since its formal approach to adventure-craft is so different, the grand question would be how to rate this... which brings me, perhaps to a surprisingly early



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are surprisingly good for a book of this length - while there are glitches in here, they are relatively few and far in-between. Layout adheres to a parched-map-style full-color 2-column standard that is easy to read. The respective full color artworks are universally drop-dead-gorgeous and the maps are as well. While some maps have the scaling-numbers slightly pixelated, the maps themselves are plenty and beautiful. Furthermore, the map folio offers player-handout-style maps of the respective areas herein, adding for me tremendously to their use. The massive tome comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The pdf's artworks sometimes feel a bit less high-res than those present in the hardcover - if you can, I'd definitely suggest going for the full-color dead tree tome. Printing this would probably cost more in ink/toner than just getting the book anyways.



There's another reason for this - you'll need post-its. Seriously. A metric ton of post-its. I have a very good memory, but still - running this behemoth will require you to have a lot of things at your fingertips, even with all the help the book tries to give you.

Which also brings me to the reason why this took forever - first of all: Novice-DMs need not apply. Sorry. Even for me, who considers running modules of ZEITGEIST-complexity easy, with years of sandboxing campaign information, this is a rather complex endeavor. The best advice I can give is to read the whole book. At least twice. Which won't be an issue, since the respective areas are full of iconic encounters, compelling characters and superbly dark, gritty, nail-biting climaxes. The writing is superb and just glorious. It should also be noted that the shades-of-grey themes actually are there - while the Tulita generally are pictured as the good guys, there are ample exceptions and only scarcely does the book stoop to painting a clear b/w-contrast. When it does, though, it MAY be slightly jarring - the whole book essentially portrays the process of colonialization in all its violence and despicable facets. Indigenous population under control via drugs? Yes. Cultures destroyed? Yes. Slavery? Yes.



There are not much saving graces for the powers that be here and thematically, that is the only narrative weak spot in an otherwise surprisingly versatile plot. While the book actually manages for the most part to maintain complex moralities and shades of grey in all protagonists and even in some of the more despicable antagonists, when it comes to the Tulita, it sometimes reverts to simple b/w: Portraying them in a very much romanticized noble savage-way. I'm been discriminated against and personally, it's probably this experience that makes me consider this to be, in its way, just as problematic as a demonization of a given people. In any other setting/module, I wouldn't have complained here, but in the gritty, surprisingly deep Razor Coast, this feels a bit off at times, especially due to generally, the depiction maintains an enlightened, non-glorifying stance. But then again, perhaps that's just the cultural studies mayor talking. To let me make this abundantly clear - this is NO white guilt-trip, theme-wise, but it also falls, by a margin, short of what it could have been in that regard.



It took me some time to analyze what made this, at least in my perception, harder to run than e.g. Slumbering Tsar and similar massive campaigns. The reasons are twofold: For one, the massive tome shoots itself somewhat in the proverbial foot by noting several sample motivations à la "Champion of the Tulita", "Allied with the Powers that be" etc. IGNORE THESE PREMISES. While one could craft a Razor Coast-campaign with these themes, the overall narrative is imho neutered by trying to shoehorn it into one of these adventure-path-like premises. Essentially, the whole of the book does not particularly support these themes. Yes, they're there, but looking for them and trying to jam the sandbox into that frame tremendously hurts the experience and limits players/could lead to a less versatile experience for them. The support for these pseudo-AP-motivations is just not pronounced enough and I'm of the conviction these hurt the book more than anything else. So, again: Ignore those.



Secondly, the organization of the massive material is more confusing than it ought to be - the "build-your-own-AP"-section with all its checklists and help doesn't help that much - or at least, it didn't help me. Why? Because it lacks the supplemental material, even from the same book. Tying indulgences and "bonus-storyline" (and Heart of the Razor) into the whole would have made this section much more useful. Another issue would be that you first get Port Shaw, then the Key-NPCs, then the planner and then the encounters/meat of the book. Essentially, the planner is talking about things, which, if you read this in a linear way, you haven't read and have no clue about. So if you start reading, skip this section and return after reading. While this isn't bad, it also makes preparing this behemoth more challenging, at least at first sight, than it ought to be. Much of the problems simply dissipate if you just read the meat of the adventure, the setting-information etc. and start planning for yourself.



One of the reasons some people experienced a slight backlash here, can be explained via the tremendous expectations associated with this tome, while others lie primarily at the problematic organization. This book would have imho fared better by sticking to a sandbox-presentation and then just add a generic time-line and insert encounters into that. Just my 2 cents, of course. Endeavoring to make this both an AP and a sandbox ends up unnecessarily complicating this.



Now all of this sounds awfully negative - and it shouldn't, let me make abundantly clear that this is a rite-of-passage-style monster-tome to separate the men from the boys, DM-wise. It's challenging (Though not Frog God Games-hard.) and ultimately a great module that takes cultural cues otherwise scarcely, if at all, explored and provides a rich, fun, dark and at times downright evil setting that oozes unique style and flair, provides superb writing, ideas galore and more potential for fun than MANY collective modules/APs of similar length.

Is it for novice-DMs? Hell no. Is it polarizing? Yes. Is the crunch universally awesome? Nope. But does this belong into every PFRPG-DM's library? In my opinion, yes. Razor Coast is a gloriously wicked tome, superbly written and while it is not perfect, I don't regret a single cent I've spent on it. (And yes, I went all-out on the KS.) Is it the perfect tome of superlatives that years and years of expectations painted it in, in many a mind around the globe? No, but it honestly couldn't have been. What it is, is a great mega-adventure in a unique setting, full of unique, interesting characters and a living piece of PFRPG-history, a mega-adventure your players WILL keep talking about for years to come. And while it didn't make my Top Ten-list of 2013, it came damn close, by virtue of its originality, scope and ambition, by its narrative clout and the hard work of Nicolas Logue, Lou Agresta, Tim Hitchcock, John Ling, Ton Knauss, Frank Mentzer, Richard Pett, Craig Shackleton, David Posener, Greg A. Vaughan, Adam Daigle, Wolfgang Baur and Brendan Victorson.



To me, this tome is still 5 stars + seal of approval must-have material. It may not be perfect, but it is different, ambitious and downright evocative. And we need more books of that caliber, that take chances with something different, both in form and ambition. Oh, and if you're an experienced DM, you'll be hard-pressed to find a given module to better show off your skills - in the hands of one, this vision will come alive in all its blood-drenched, tropical glory.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Razor Coast - Pathfinder Edition
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Mutant Manifesto
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2014 04:40:32
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This gothic AP-plug-in is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages introduction/how-to-use, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The concept of degeneration and eugenics is not that young, as anyone who has studied the topic can attest - still, we often consider mutation a trope closer to the scifi genre. The introductory text covers some concepts and ideas that the introduction of mutations into a setting will entail before diving into new archetypes, first of which would be the Deviant, a wizard archetype: Instead of arcane bond, the deviant gets access to mutagens and the extra discovery feat for the purpose of getting access to more mutagen-related discoveries. At 3rd level, you may permanently sacrifice two spell slots of the highest level you can cast for further extra discovery-feats for mutagens. At 5th level, efficiency of spells versus magical creatures, aberrations, eidolons, etc. is slightly increased. At 10th level, you get an alien familiar you may imbue with eidolon-evolutions by sacrificing spell-slots and finally, at 15th level, mutagens last longer.



The Xenocidist ranger is a master of influencing crowds (and inciting them to violence via a limited array of bardic performances) and sworn enemy of degenerate hybrids like ogre-kin (but not e.g. half-elves), which he can later even sniff out. At 4th level, the Xenocidist learns a judgment (one of up to 3) and gets a special one to cause devolution or mutagenic reversion via crits. They also become particularly resilient to transmutation-spells and immunity to polymorph effects. At 16th level, he even gets essentially evasion for fort and will-saves (à la 3.X's Mettle (Ex)).



We also are introduced to 7 new alchemical discoveries: Aberrant Mutagen grows eyeballs for all-around vision and tentacles, with synergy with the tentacle discovery. With the greater version of this discovery, range is increased and 25% chance to ignore precision damage/crits, stacking with unusual anatomy. Speaking of tentacle: Gaining an extra tentacle is possible, as is making mutagens he can inject into adversaries (or allies) - oh, and extracts can be made infusable as well! Bombs that deal effects of fleshcurdle and those particularly effective versus aberrations/mythos creatures are also possible.



We also get 3 new feats, one of which weirdly follows a different formatting than the other two - minor glitch there. Mutagenic Summons allow you to apply the mana-wasted creature template to creatures you conjure forth - at CR +1, these creatures get DR/cold iron (5 or 10 depending on base HD), reduce flight, if applicable, to clumsy maneuverability, one of 5 abilities (acid resistance, acid pustules, breath weapon, diseases, improved speed) per 4 HD and 1 of 4 deformities that come with unique benefits and penalties. The Xenophobia-feat may make you a bigot, but also particularly effective versus aberrant and mythos-related adversaries. On the other end of the spectrum, Xenophilia makes you get easier along with alien creatures, but also makes you slightly more susceptible versus their charms and compulsions. Both have in common, though, that they are not particularly compelling in their benefits.



Next up would be 12 spells - and boy, these are complex - from the fleshmelting fleshcurdle that can hamper attacks, defense or movement to Blightcore crystal meltdowns that not only deal damage and increase the prowess of polymorph effects, but also hampers teleportation. What makes this spell stand out, is that [force]-effects may temporarily save you from it - its interactions like this that make this stand out to me. Now fantasy racists would love the Genetic Purification-spell: On the one hand, expunging diseases and polymorph effects - on the other, you can actually transform half-elves etc. permanently into humans. Now If you can't conjure a chilling story around that spell, I don't know what would suffice. Creating fleshcurdling mist, reverting mutated adversaries, creating a mutation-inducing plague, warp target's flesh via the complex, more than a page long Mutation-spell (including madness-rules-support!) or its mass-version, forcing the mana-wasted template on foes (and mind-controlling them!), summoning icky hordes or unstable isotopes - these spells uniformly rock, though the mutatnt-calling spells feel a bit like filler to me.



Now we also get a new grimoire in the tradition of the Gothic Grimoire-series, the lavishly-illustrated Omnia Mutandis contains one of the most disturbing histories in this series - spine-chillingly awesome way to introduce the material herein into your game....at a price, as is the wont with these dread grimoires...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - though I did notice minor glitches here and there, no significant ones have crept into these pages. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf features glorious full-color artworks (as well as a line-drawing, which, while nice, feels a bit out of place amidst the other artworks). The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



So Jason Nelson delivers a variety of Mutation-themed options - and partially, they're glorious: The spells are awesome, the template cool, the prose of the Grimoire is simply legendary. But not all - the mutagen-focused wizard is nice, but nothing to write home about. The Xenocidist is nice as well, fun even, but left me wanting more - more demagogue-style hatred-inciting, more fanaticism/zealotry. Two of the 3 feats are bland at best and may make sense in a story-context, but wouldn't see me even consider them from a build-perspective. That being said, the template is cool and will also see some massive use beyond Golarion, e.g. in respective Midgard-campaigns - Wasted West, baby!



Still...it took me a while to get what I was somehow missing - the mutation-component could have been a bit more pronounced; more mutation-options for spells/template etc. would have made this better...but then again, I'm perhaps spoiled since Chaositech is one of my favorite 3.X-books. Another point would be that this book's focus is a bit diversified: On the one hand mutants, on the other, their adversaries. And try as I might, I consider the call for purification as depicted by these fanatics as chilling as the mutations - one pdf on mutations and one on the fanatics of purity, both offering more space to develop their respective brands of creepiness, would have been awesome. What about a mutation-template-kit that makes eidolon-evolutions into a diy-mutations template? That would have just been awesome and added further value to this pdf that continues to expand as new material for eidolons.



Don't get me wrong- this supplement is a great buy, but it also feels like it slightly falls short of what it could have accomplished with a tighter focus/more page count devoted to the concept of mutations and perhaps a second book for foes of mutants. In the end, I still wholeheartedly recommend this supplement at 4.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant Manifesto
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Broken Earth Player's Guide (PFRPG)
Publisher: Sneak Attack Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2014 12:12:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement is 55 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So what is Broken Earth? It is, essentially, a post-apocalyptic setting on our very own planet earth - the Great War has passed, and now the world is changed. Thus, one can assume a bunch of differences from traditional Pathfinder fantasy campaigns. So let's skip the basic introduction and its flavor for now and focus on the options available for character generation, shall we? First of all, it is recommended you use hero points as per the APG - why will become more evident later.



First of the "new races" would be the freaks - changed by radiation and genetically-engineered viruses, these beings get +2 to an ability-score of their choice, +20 to fort-saves against radiation (and no auto-fail on a natural 1), +4 to saves versus diseases and poisons and +1 to AC.



Simians would be just the race for fans of "Planet of the Apes" - these mutated, upright walking intelligent chimpanzees get +2 to Str and Dex, -2 to Int, low-light vision, a climb speed of 20 ft., +2 to acrobatics (and acrobatics and climb are always class skills), are never prone as a result from falling (and get +1 to CMD versus trip) and finally, receive improved initiative as a bonus feat.



If you'd rather go for a synthetic lifeform, the synths would be your race of choice with +2 Con and Int, -2 Cha, increased natural healing, 25% chance to negate crits, 10 ft. less falling distance for means of damage, +2 to two skills (which become class skills) and +4 to skill-checks when dealing with AIs.



All right, that out of the way, let's take a look at classes - and here you'll get a minor shock: No divine and arcane magic. None. That means only the barbarian, fighter, monk and rogue are available. This also means no Knowledge (arcana), Use Magic Devices etc., but Knowledge and Craft get some new subcategories. But before delving deeper into that matter, I feel obliged to note that barbarians get two new rage powers - one making him/her resistant to radiation, while the other grants a raging barbarian a RADIATION AURA. Yes. This is awesome. Fighters may opt for the waste warrior archetype, which essentially takes handguns and long arms into account as weapon categories, Living Weapons, i.e. Broken Earth's monks, become immune to radiation and also can actually temporarily fly at 12th level by virtue of their ki! In a world sans magic, rather awesome! Rogues of the Scrapper archetype can wilder in chemistry and psionics.



Wait...yep, alchemists are represented via the Chem-heads, who use chemistry instead of alchemy. Their extracts can be injected, transmitted via patches etc. Discoveries, appropriate extracts etc. are covered in this section as well. Cavaliers remain unchanged, whereas gunslingers (here known as boomers) also get a minor modification.



Now I've already mentioned psionics - and yes, this setting actually integrates Dreamscarred Press' superb psionics-rules, though once again, limitations to maintain the world's integrity are mentioned. In even more cool cross-3pp-support, Kobold Press' great Spell-less ranger and Rogue Genius Games' superb Anachronistic Adventurers are also mentioned, even giving a nod towards the Warlords of the Apocalypse book in planning, even though that might be considered direct competition. Superb sportsmanship and camaraderie from Sneak Attack Press here - two thumbs up!



As mentioned, we get new skills - two to be precise: Drive and Pilot and they do just what you'd expect them to. 10 new feats allow you to shoot burst fire, double tap with semiautomatic firearms, gain mutations, radiation resistance, affect vermin with your psionic powers, get subdermal blades as a synth, create super drugs or drive surface vehicles sans penalty. We also get a trait for a minor mutation and 9 traits assigned to 3 locales, usually offering additional starting equipment and also offering minor bonuses.



Now I've already mentioned mutations - these are determined by their mutation points, or MP. Mutations either offer you a cost in the case of beneficial mutations or a value in the case of mutation drawbacks. Mutations either are cosmetic, minor, major or drawbacks and a total of 37 of these allow for some mayor character customization - from unnatural eyes, darkvision to weak (and superb) immune systems, webbed digits, lost arms, tails, especially pronounced sense of smell to even growing to size large, there is quite an array of cool options, some of which can be combined - if a bite attack is not enough, you can always upgrade that with acidic spittle - just remember that kissing will never be the same...



We also are introduced to a new anti-radiation formula and 4 new psionic powers that deal with radiation and technology.



After this, we are introduced to the 3 sample communities mentioned among the traits, offering unique perspectives and flavor -from the primitive Axe Tribe to the Iron Shelter and the prosperous Wright Town, each gets a full-blown settlement statblock, interesting background info and even local slang - awesome.



What about gear? Well, to cut a long ramble short - there is A LOT of gear in here, including different tech levels and a re-examination of the basic firearm rules and proficiency availability. The concept of item rarity and proficiencies with exotic weapons like flame throwers are covered here as well as rules for autofire. Tons of weapons and items as well as rules for weapon accessories and yes, even ammo weight, are provided, as are various super-drugs. Beyond these, we also get 8 new vehicles to pilot with the drive skill, from bicycles and canoes to SUVs and harleys - a nice array, which btw. also includes fuel efficiency. It should be noted that Broken Earth presumes trade points as an abstraction for the relative value of items, allowing you to easily convert from gp-values. Oh, and there are mastercraft items, which, in the absence of magic, work as more varied degrees of superior manufacture.



The gear out of the way, next up would be rules for varying degrees of radiation sickness, overland hexploration/overland travel rules, harvesting and scavenging according to the item's respective rarity. Where the pdf starts shining excessively would be in the settlement construction rules, which not only greatly expand those provided in the glorious Ultimate Campaign book, it also offers equivalents of titles and a total of no less than 64 (unless I've miscounted) buildings, all with BP and lots, allowing you supreme construction options to create your own settlement and essentially run survival-themed kingmaker games in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Better yet: Community-events are covered in similar, massive detail and even mass combat army resources are part of teh deal here - glorious!





Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - while I did not notice any significant glitches, some minor typos have crept in - though nothing too serious can be found glitch-wise. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with neat b/w-artworks that thematically fit the setting's flair. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Matthew J. Hanson delivers a dauntingly conservative post-apocalyptic setting that comes alive surprisingly well thanks to the absence of magic - instead of trying to be too wide, the setting is narrow, concisely made and shows significant awareness for what's out there, allowing you to make use of all those cool rulebooks you have gathered without explicitly requiring you to do so. The Broken Earth Player's Guide is a massive post-apocalyptic toolbox, a supplement that works as a great introduction to the setting and its possibilities. Broken Earth is well-crafted and the book manages to make me excited to try for a settlement-building "stem the tide"-scenarios and more secrets on the DM-side about the world. And that is the hallmark of a good supplement. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars, missing the seal of approval only by a tiny margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth Player's Guide (PFRPG)
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Greater Manifestations for the Ethermancer Base Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/19/2014 12:09:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the ethermancer is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this supplement with a short introduction that explains the matter at hand - essentially, the idea is to create greater manifestations as a way to nova for the ethermancer, granting x/day abilities (in contrast to the perpetual casting of the base class). These abilities impose a tax on the class, though - but more on that later.



First, we get a new multiuniversal philosophy, the multiuniversal perfectionist. This philosophy allows the ethermancer to replace a 2nd level or higher manifestation with a greater manifestation of the same etherheart and level and learns this instead. The 20th level capstone allows for all greater manifestations chosen via this philosophy to be used 2/day - a cool idea for an impressive 20th level.



We also are in for 6 new feats - one being particularly interesting - the bombardier feat allows you to deal +2d6 bonus damage with greater blast-based manifestations if you also managed to hit regular AC, not just touch AC. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one handles in-game (since one of my players currently plays an ethermancer). The feat Greater Manifestation Study allows you to replace a manifestation known of 2nd level or greater with a greater manifestation of the same level and heart, much like the new philosophy. Another feat allows you to choose an etherheart and use a greater manifestation of said etherheart a second time after you've expended it. Now Shed Alteration is a feat I know my player will take, for it allows you to dismiss the otherwise un-dismissible alteration manifestation for a point cost, while shed gifts allows you to do the same for bestow effects. Finally, weaponized shedding allows you to deal damage to your immediate surrounding when dismissing alterations and to the target, when dismissing bestow manifestations. Note though that this feat, while powerful, also is a double-edged sword - it works AUTOMATICALLY. No choice there - once taken, you ALWAYS inflict that damage. Interesting!



So what can those greater manifestations do? Well, what about one that reduces the next regular etherspell's cost to 0? Sound relatively...regular, but once you start thinking about the way you have to budget your etherspells, this becomes rather interesting. At ethermancer 5, there is also the option...to create a FRIGGIN BLACK HOLE. Yes, an insta-death orb that draws targets inside, obliterating one target totally. On the slightly nitpicky side, the manifestation does not specify whether the ethermancer can choose which target to annihilate - this is relevant since the black hole does not discriminate between targets - allies and even the ethermancer himself can potentially be destroyed by the forces unleashed. Personally, I'll settle for a random-determination...just to drive home that some forces ought to be respected (and since I consider it cooler that way) - not a deal-breaker, mind you, just a minor imperfection in an otherwise cool ability.



rather cool - clockwork universe. As a level 6 greater manifestation, it's the apex of power and damn, does it feel like it! First, you choose a star (from 5) - each star has a an EP-cost (which may be 0, though) and modifies the maximum amount of satellites available in a given system or provides a different passive benefit. You may also throw these stars as splash weapons to deal rather unpleasant amounts of damage on the target square. A given solar system can also contain up to 1/2 caster level, rounded down, satellites, chosen from an array of 8 different types. The respective satellites have their own restrictions. Just to give you an impression here - if your model contains an inhabited planet, the planet replies to a thrown satellite by launching a miniature mothership (!!!!) you can direct to attack your foes. Yes. If you're in any way like me, that not only made you chuckle, but rather grin from ear to ear. ^^ Have I mentioned that you can actually grant this manifestation to another character if you have the right feat? Yes. Passive and active, very modular, iconic in imagery - in one word: Glorious.



A maximized etherspell, an insta-kill death effect, a bestow that stuns foes with unearthly screams...cool. What's truly glorious would be Erase Physics - choose an element, erase it from the creature. Spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, resistance, damage - all gone. And yes, the wording is concise enough to make that work and yes, additional conditions etc. remain. There is also a powerful auto-buff herein and a greater manifestation to blast multiple blasts at once...Awesome.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn't necessarily need them at this length.



So if you've been following my reviews, you'll be asking...why doesn't Endzeitgeist complain about the insta-death effects? Because they're more limited than regular spells, extremely high level and are based on sphere of annihilation as a model. So no matter which way I look at it, I can't complain. Speaking of which - the galaxy model is glorious. This pdf made my ethermancer player grin from ear to ear and I'm the same - this pdf offers some rather cool, new options for the ethermancer that improve the base-class with thoroughly iconic, cool tricks that just OOZE awesomeness and should be considered a must-buy for ethermancer-players and those interested in the class. And if you haven't taken a look at Bradley Crouch's ethermancer, this expansion is an excellent additional reason to do so. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Greater Manifestations for the Ethermancer Base Class
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The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky, & Wright
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2014 12:37:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

This massive pdf is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So if you've been following Rite Publishing's releases for some years like I have, you probably will have to have noticed by now the implicit setting of the books, Steven D. Russell's much-anticipated Magnum Opus Questhaven. This supplement constitutes one of the releases that can be considered very much tied to the setting, with us getting an introduction to some of the deities of the setting and their servants. Thus, one could call this a sourcebook of divinities as well as of their adherents.



First of all, it should be noted that the respective deities are not called by their name, but rather by epithets - a notion which I have adapted to my campaign: The deity of song and love would be for example known as "Our Laughing Traveler of Passages and Messages", while, when talking about e.g. Asmodeus, a good character would probably call the archdevil "Their Dark Lord of Fire" or "Their Infernal Tyrant" - a great way to utilize processes of identity construction and othering to create identities. The respective entries of the deities come with full (sub-)domain-information, portfolios etc. as well as information on the respective church's background, secrets, manifestations, holy days, mythology and hierarchies, written in lavish, awesome in-character prose that actually makes the pdf a joy to read.



So let's get into the meat, shall we? Well, first would be the church of the great pantheon, which is essentially the catch-all pantheon sans evil deities - and thus, clerics of the pantheon can choose from almost ALL domains or subdomains. Read that again. Yes. When I showed this to the player in my group who almost always likes to play divinely-inspired characters, he was grinning from ear to ear. On one hand, it's awesome because you get to finally choose the obscure domain/subdomain combination you always wanted. On the other hand, this can be potentially problematic if you use a lot of domains in your game and consider the assignment of domains to deities a balancing factor - after all, some domains simply are, at least regarding their granted abilities, better than others. So yeah, DMs beware regarding that one.



The first servant of the Pantheon we're introduced to would be the Deacon of the Great Church, a 10-level PrC that gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, 1/2 ref-and will-progression, +1d6 sneak attack progression on every odd level and full bardic spellcasting progression, should you have bardic levels. It should be noted that the classes HD are somewhat hidden directly below the table above the requirements, a slightly confusing place layout-wise. Beyond the obvious agent-angle, the PrC also get a discount at most places. At 4th level, Deacons get the Astute Planning-ability - 1/day, the Deacon can devise a plan as a move action that adds the Deacon's class level to any roll and even flat-footed AC of an ally. EDIT: Now, the ability is fixed, comes with a limit that makes sense - nothing to complain anymore!



They also get a cohort and as a capstone, may use suggestion at an increased, rather evil DC, with mass suggestion also being possible. Another quick fix that over all, makes the PrC now completely bereft of complaints on my part.!



We also get a new paladin archetype, the Orphans of Ecumenical Commandments. These paladins replace their detect evil with the option to assist healing by maximizing numerical variables of their own or another's healing, but only for one target. They also are keepers of the law, modifying smite evil to work against known lawbreakers instead and get law-themed auras. What's downright genius is their mercy that nets them essentially an extra-dimensional holding cell to temporarily keep hostiles you don't want to kill. This one is glorious and wills be quite a bit use in my campaigns - great to see some non-lethal ways to deal with foes, though the lack of any form of increased non-lethal capabilities mean that the archetype could have used a bit more options in that array. Nice: We get a proper code of conduct!



Then there would be Divine Vessels - summoners that cast from the inquisitor spell-list as divine spells and divine variant of any directly eidolon-influencing spells. Additionally, they may enter what can be considered a kind of avatar as a standard action. This form allows you reassign your attributes (with a bonus), skills and even feats, but also temporarily prevents you from using some abilities. This form has its own hit points to take care of and effects, curses etc. all are covered. Essentially, this allows you to pseudo-gestalt with your eidolon, though the armor-bonuses the form may have beyond those granted for eidolon-form, are negated. A former issue here has been fixed as well - the avatar now has fixed stats.

The new feats for the archetype allow you to have your animal companion change to fit your avatar form or hit harder when charging while transforming. 1/day form-change as an immediate action is also rather powerful, as is an elemental aura, and similar effects to accompany transformations - now all with concise, nice limits to eliminate an exploit that was there before. Now, this archetype is actually THE way to go Captain Marvel on your foes and one of the most ambitious ones I've ever seen. Kudos!



The Fairest Lady of Love and Song's two new domain feats that allow you to expend domain abilities to create unique effects - rather cool ones, if I may say so! Lacing spells with channel energy as damage is a concept I like, as is inciting permanent megalomania. Hedge Knight cavaliers replace mounts and cavalier's charge with an option to temporarily make armor or shield magical, choosing from a wide array of possible spontaneous enchantments and at 11th level, may combine full attack with total defense - interesting take on the mount-less cavalier! Speaking of cavaliers - they get a new order with the Order of the Nightengale: These knights may grant temporary hit points with inspiring poetry and are buffed by permanent heroism (which can be suspended to temporarily become its greater-version) as long as they have a love. Awesome RP-potential there! At 15th level, they may also force all creatures within 30 feet to take the same damage they do - though the cavalier may not willingly fail saves while the ability is in effect. WHICH IS AWESOME! Seriously, now perfectly working!



We also are introduced to 6 bardic feats (one of which you'll know from 101 bardic feats), on allowing you to duplicate dimensional lock via bardic performance, antimagic field summoned/called creatures, inflict damage to aberrations or steel your will against will-save-prompting effects. Nice feats.



Next up would be Our Master of Thunder, who comes with a (YES!!!) Legendary Curse that depicts the consequence of speaking the deities names in vain - loved this one in 101 Legendary Curses, still love it. The first archetype in service to which we're introduced to would be the Hawk of Vengeance, an inquisitor archetype with a full BAB and no spellcasting..and it may also execute coup de graces as a MOVE action - OUCH! Rather cool - instead of killing adversaries, these inquisitors may elect to instead withhold damage to instead main/scar etc. their targets, the effects requiring a CL-check to heal. I only wished the pdf had a table of more varied effects regarding the consequences of maiming/scarring etc.



Rogue Genius Games' Dragonrider also gets support in the guise of the windrider, who may choose just about any flying creature. They also cast spells as a divine caster and use the ranger spell-list. Essentially, the class is a more versatile than the standard dragonrider in its mount-selection. There also are two new feats, one of which lets you create a net of thunder and lightning on your weapon or add the thunder/lightning to attacks, Sphinxes, Griffons, Hippogriffons and Birds of Prey, Manticores, Pegasus, Chimeras and Perytons are included among the steed choices. Nice one for flying-heavy modules.



The final deity would be the Grand Wright of Heaven. Via a domain feat, clerics may grant items 3 temporary charges, which you can expend in increments to activate items as certain actions sans expending charges - thankfully with a caveat that leaves the final say to the DM. The first archetype would be the Relic Seeker, an inquisitor who gains SR against curses instead of detect alignment and is particularly adept at finding and identifying items. Not that interesting.

Artisans of Hallowed Vessels, a type of rogue who is particularly adept at crafting magical items (and counts as with a caster level etc.) and also get a pool of points that scale and refresh with levels (but don't accumulate - not spending = your loss!) - these may be used as substitutions for gold when crafting. The archetype also gets an array of rogue (and advanced rogue) talents, themed around item creations Doing the math for this one took FOREVER. While the archetype shares some characteristics with the artificer that can become problematic for very WBL-strict campaigns with a lot of downtime, I did not experience a significant detriment to balance as long as a DM isn't too careless with it. So yeah, while the archetype could be slightly abused, I do think that in most campaigns, the class will not prove to be problematic - so yeah, kudos. One thing that's somewhat a pity - this would also have been a nice opportunity to fix the broken crafting of mundane items .



The pdf closes with a short 2-page introduction to Questhaven.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good now - Rite Publishing has wasted NO time and immediately started fixing just about all issues I pointed out. See, that's them doing things the rite way! Artwork contains awesome holy symbols in full color for the deities and original pieces, but also features some nice b/w-pieces you may know from other supplements.



This pdf is a joy to read, and, much like the best of Steven D. Russell's writing, not only contains glorious prose, but also several distinctly high concept-ideas: From the mostly awesome feats to the cool deities to the archetypes, there is no filler material herein. Everything breathes inspiration and there are quite a few pieces of crunch here that are downright inspired, brilliant. The complaints I had have been almost unanimously been purged and what remains is a thoroughly cool supplement, full of great prose and evocative character concepts, just waiting to be unleashed upon your players. Hence, I upgrade my review to 5 stars, omitting my seal only by a very slight margin - this revised version is worth your every buck.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Secrets of the Divine: Pantheon, Love, Sky, & Wright
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Dungeon Dressing: Walls
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2014 06:45:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Dungeon Dressing-series is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page stock art, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As almost always in the Dungeon Dressing-series, we kick this pdf off with function and construction summaries, in this case in different environments and for wood, stone and even metal. Even exotic walls of glass and e.g. a nomadic culture's skin-walls are mentioned. The "dressing" in "Dungeon Dressing" is more pronounced than usual here, providing even valuable dressings and even DCs to perceive hidden dressings or remove them. Unless I've miscounted, the first table offers 29 fully ready dressings that include items and spells as possible origins for the respective walls.



The second table covers a total of 100 entries for dressings of walls, including love notes, sloughing off parts, integrated gargoyles, fist-sized holes, poisoned sections etc. Even strange illusions, centipede-inhabited holes are included herein.



After that, we are introduced to a total of 3 traps (CR 7, 8, 8) - automatic murder holes (with variants), crushing walls (multi round trap, again with variants) and a false secret door that doubles as a delivery system to a nasty area round out this product.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-standard and the art is fitting stock. The pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



I don't envy author Alexander Augunas the task set here before him - writing a compelling supplement...about WALLS probably isn't the easiest task one could wish for. So how do these dressings fare? Surprisingly well, actually - there are quite a lot of nice dressings in here and the amount of crunchy entries also helps keeping the supplement useful. That being said, while in no means bad, this supplement of dungeon dressing also falls a bit short of what it could have been - an additional table of carvings/more complex exotic materials (what about force walls? Crystal?) would have been interesting. The three traps are also nice, yes, and mechanically sound, but they also aren't something I haven't seen before - one stranger/more uncommon trap would have been nice.



Still, this is complaining on a high level. In the end, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Walls
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Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide - Pathfinder Edition
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2014 09:37:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This player's guide for Razor Coast is 98 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 92 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off the Freebooter's Guide with an overview of the races and their respective roles in Razor Coast - including rather the central conflict between the pirateish settlers and the Tulita, the indigenous people of the Razor Coast. A lot of flavor is devoted to depicting these ethnicities, but we also get new races, two to be precise: The first would be the Dajobasu, Tulita cursed (or blessed) by the dread shark-god. These ostracized outcasts gte +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Int and Cha, darkvision 60 feet, +2 to stealth and survival in swamps, +4 to swim, may hold their breath thrice as long as humans, +4 to sense motive, +1 natural AC and as alternate racial traits, they may 1/day utter a drowning curse (as per the gatorfolk's ability - why not include the stats here? Players won't have access to the stats of the curse - which is btw. detailed in Razor Coast's main book...) at the cost of a phobia for water - which unfortunately has no mechanical repercussions. They may also opt for +2 to intimidate to demoralize foes or exchange the paltry bonuses in swampy terrains for a swim speed of 20 ft. - the latter feels a bit like a powerful trade-off. Overall, a solid race, if a bit on the powerful side with two +4 skill bonuses.



The second race would be the Menehune, small somewhat gnome-like followers of Pele, the fire goddess. Menehune get +2 to Con and Cha, -2 to Str, have a base movement rate of 20 feet, get +2 to AC in their favorite terrain, have resistance 5 to fire, +2 to perception and Craft/Profession to create objects from stone or metal, are treated as one level higher regarding spells with the fire descriptor, fire domain, fire bombs etc. Menehune of Cha 11+ also get 1/day dancing lights, flare, prestidigitation, produce flame as spell-like abilities. Meheune also get low-light vision, gnomish weapon familiarity and may 1/day shroud their arms in fire for cha-mod+ character level rounds, dealing an additional 1d4 fire damage + 1d4 for every 4 character levels. Sooo... do low level menehune with low cha-scores get no access to this? The ability has no minimum-round caveat. Alternate racial trait-wise, Menehune may get fast healing 2 anytime they take fire damage, but cap at 2 times character level. Alternatively, they can get the traditional gnomish SLAs or exchange their slas/fire magic affinity with either 1/day invisibility (though only for themselves)or expeditious retreat. Finally, they may choose for a knowledge skill as class skill and a bonus to climb or a further +2 bonus to craft/profession. They also suffer from cold vulnerability, which somewhat offsets their otherwise significant bonuses. Still, slightly on the powerful side. Another nitpick would be that the invisibility & expeditious retreat SLAs lack the minimum charisma-score restrictions - though whether by design or oversight, I'm not sure. It should be noted that both races come with 3 favored class options each. One of the Meneuhune's FCO's have some minor issues - the bardic FCO specifies "Add +1 per every six class levels to the number of people the bard can affect with the fascinate bardic performance." Does that mean it can be taken once and then automatically nets the benefit every 6 levels? I assume not, so why not stick to the established formula à la "+1/6 to the number of people..."



All right, that out of the way, we are introduced to traits - 11, by the way. The traits are solid. Next up would be archetypes - a coastal barbarian with favored terrain water, a cannibal that can mitigate parts of his/her post-rage fatigue by devouring the flesh of foes, a Tulita-bard with 3 exclusive performances (one of which allows for the substitution of performance-checks to protect allies from movement-impeding effects), a tomb raider-style chaser of legends (who may temporarily heal allies or temporarily grant improved uncanny dodge) who is particularly adept at disabling traps and evading things.



Clerics may opt to become servants of Pele via the Volcano Child archetype, requiring them to take the fire domain (and only that) at an effective +2 cle level (thankfully not netting access to abilities earlier), diminished spellcasting, but also endure elements versus hot climates, the ability to sheathe weapons in flames and later channel slightly enhanced fire instead of positive/negative energy. The caller of storms is similar, but gets full spellcasting and replaces channel energy with the ability to recall expended spells. The buccaneer fighter is essentially a swashbuckling fighter, replacing armor training and weapon training with the option to deal additional damage whenever he/she has moved through threatened squares as well as some naval-themed bonuses. Harpoonists are exactly that, specialists of the harpoon...and honestly, I really liked this one. It makes choosing the harpoon as a weapon a valid, if not optimal choice. The Deep Sea Tracker is an aquatic ranger who fights with net and trident and later becomes amphibious, gains cent etc. More interesting would be the Headhunter-archetype, who utilizes four types of shrunken heads for various benefits - interesting!



Blockade Runner rogues are specialists of disguise and smuggling. One of their abilities allow them to use Escape Artist to trip foes - something I'm not 100% comfortable with, since skills are rather easily boosted. I'd also be interested whether bonuses to trip that usually apply to CMD would then apply to the skill-check instead? Finally, the Scrimshaw fetishist would be a wizard archetype who may enhance his spells via the inflicting of painful boosts and scribing their spells on their own body - at the cost of both spellbook and access to scribe scrolls. This archetype is rather cool and works surprisingly well, coming with mutagen-like benefits and better metamagic..for the price of pain.



We also are introduced to two new base-classes, the first of which would be the Disciple of Dajobas, who gets proficiency with shields, light and medium armor, simple weapons and shark-tooth based weaponry, d8, 4+Int skills per level, casts divine spells of up to 6th level spontaneously via wisdom (which is a bit odd - plus: Raging shark-worshippers and high wis...I don't know), 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and must take the hunger domain. They get a scaling bite attack that counts as a primary natural weapon (or secondary when wielding manufactured weapons) and they can enter a non-fatiguing variant of a barbarian's rage. They also gain the ability to speak with sharks and crocodiles and may, as befitting of servants of the shark god, act rather well in water, increasing aquatic adaption over the levels, becoming even amphibious later. They may also turn into sharks. All in all, an interesting blend of cleric/druid and barbarian, though probably not a class players should aim for...unless they are okay with serving a truly vile god. Also, don't expect favored class option benefits or archetypes for this class or the second one, for that matter.



The second base-class would be the Yohunga, a Tulita-class that gains d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with 3 Tulita-weapons, light armor and simple weapons as well as 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves and spontaneous divine spellcasting via Cha of up to 6th level The Yohunga also gets a mana-point of 1/2 character level + cha-mod (+1 at 3rd level and every other level after that) and a special necklace tied to a tikiman - if the tikiman is destroyed, then so is the necklace - which deals damage to the Yohunga. Tikiman? Yes, the class is, much like the summoner, a pet-class, i.e. the tikiman remains active as long as there's at least one point of mana left. Various passive powers of the tikiman, of which there are 11, can be added to a tikiman's already nice ability-suite - which btw. includes improved evasion. As a balancing factor, HD-increases have to be purchased also via these powers, meaning you'll be spending a lot of tiki power-slots on those. Now I *assume* that the chosen powers apply to ALL tikimen, but the pdf fails to specify that particular tidbit of information. Unlike familiars (though they also share spells), Yohunga get additional tikimen at higher levels, allowing them to have multiple tiny constructs at their command. There also are several powers available that utilize mana to temporarily bolster the tikimen's capabilities - from poisoned/paralyzing blowgun darts (Diablo II, anyone?) to temporarily granting DR/energy resistance to them. The tikimen can also grow in size, mimic jungle-animal voices, grow and even merge with your tikimen. Several of these abilities have HD-limits/caster level limits to choose them. Per se a cool idea for a class, though honestly, the HD-increase is rather costly when compared to other pet-classes. Also, the spells to properly heal a tikiman ought to be expanded - RAW it is very hard to heal tikimen, with mending being rather slow and boring and not particularly effective in battle, which makes the tikimen rather fragile - to the point where the spells are imho all but required. Additionally, no time-frame for tikiman-creation is given - does it take time to craft them? Can they be replenished quickly or do they require a hiatus after being destroyed? A promising class, but one in dire need of clarification/more information.



Next up would be write-ups of Razor Coast's deities (not including Dajobas or Tulita spirits, btw.), including two new domains (in addition to the aforementioned hunger domain), closely followed by the chapter on PrCs. The Captain of the High Seas and the Old Salt, two 5-level PrCs deserve special mention here - both provide further benefits when combined with the stellar "Fire as She Bears" and allow you to dive further into the naval aspects of a campaign. Non-Tulita living among them, may become Paheka - per se a solid, if not too awe-inspiring 5-level PrC that represents well someone who has gone native and received the blessings of the people. The table is missing all plusses, though - somewhat irritating. The 5-level Pele Liberator PrC (which the table calls Tulita liberator instead) may lose one level of spellcasting progression...but oh boy - wis-mod times/day AoE 20-foot healing at long range equal to 1d8 per two caster levels, plus nauseated enemies on failed save. OUCH. Speaking of ouch - lava burst capstone. 1d10 per caster level, half on round 2, half on round three. While not broken per se, rather impressive - then again, the PRC's smite is based on class level, so more of a dud there - until 5th level, where in addition to cha, wis is added and full character level to damage. That's regular attribute, cha AND wis? Sorry, not gonna happen anywhere near my game - especially since their smite does not end with one attack and since it can be used character level times per day. This needs a massive whacking with the nerfbat.

We also get a 10-level PrC with the Shaw Sheriff that once again lacks the plusses in the table. The Shaw Sheriff gets up to +5d6 sneak attack progression and several trick shots, essentially way to increase the efficiency of blade+pistol fighting. Fluff-wise, the Dragoons of Port Shaw put out a reward on the sheriff's head, just as his/her renown grows and makes it less and less likely that the general populace hands him/her over - adding informant networks etc. makes for a PrC that is tied in a very cool manner into a setting - one that could easily be modified to work for other cities/settings with problematic authorities. Two thumbs up for that one!



After that, we are introduced to a variety of different mundane weapons and equipment as well as 3 new drugs, one new poison and 3 small boats - the latter sans the FaSB-stats though - I would have loved to see them for tiny vessels like this. Prices and short pieces of information on some famous/notorious captains and ships for hire in Port Shaw also can be found here - nice!



We also are introduced to a chapter of feats - 24 to be precise. While there are some filler feats in here (boring +2/+2, later +4/+4 to two skill-checks-yawn!), we also get feats to improve mana/tikimen, use pistols as melee weapons, quicker shapechanging, more reliable swimming, cleave-tripping, feint while moving, make swim-by-attacks or essentially surf. One particularly awesome feat allows you to efficiently hold a pistol to an opponent - potential (and rules) for Mexican stand-offs included! Now see, that is a cool type of feat, though the puzzling mentioning of a ref-save to negate damage in the stand-off sidebar feels like a relic of a previous design - as written, the attacks do not allow a ref-save to reduce damage. Cool in concept would be a feat that nets one tikiman a massive (cha-mod) HD-boost - but has it go haywire upon rolling a 1. Unfortunately, the feat fails to specify whether the rogue tikiman still goes dormant upon expending all mana. If so, does it retain its hostile intent? If it does become dormant, what if you feed blood as per another feat to one of your non-rogue tikimen and regain a point of mana temporarily? Does it reactivate? Can you replace a rogue tkiman or does the haywire tikiman reduce your maximum amount of tikimen available while it still roams the wilds? The Trance Dancer feat allows you to enter a ritualistic dance as a full-round action to temporarily ignore the dazed, fatigued, exhausted and stunned conditions as well as enchantment effects - but only for as long as you can make perform (dance)-checks with an ever-increasing DC. The problem with this feat would be that it does not specify what type of action maintaining the dance is - since Perform-skill-checks can vary wildly in length, that's a crucial issue - move action? Standard action? Does tripping the dancer end the dance?



We also get new spells to help targets reach the surface (or drown them) via an in/decreased buoyancy, make them immune versus the cold of the abyssal depths and their pressure, hit vessels with rogue waves, implant false memories of taboo acts in targets or make a breach watertight. Among the magical items, we get strange harpoon bags, enchanted fish-hooks (that conjure forth fiendish sharks or crocodiles), obsidian/pyroclastc grenades, a quarterstaff that dominates those beaten into submission (which could use a slightly more precise wording - its intent is that it only dominates those beaten into unconsciousness via non-lethal damage, but it can dominate unconscious targets even when dealing non-lethal damage to another creature) and magical tattoos: Created via one of the new feats, these count as wondrous items, take up an item-slot and get per se neat, concise rules. Among the tattoos, there also are special Tulita tattoos - one of which e.g. generates as many +2 icy burst shurikens as the Tulita can throw in one round. The problem here would be that they do not vanish - RAW, the shuriken are permanent and thus could be used as a steady source of income, at least in theory. The other tattoos are fine, though.



Among the animal companions, we get Haast's Eagles, Moa and Wetapunga as well as some minor local variants of existing animal types. Also rather cool, we are introduced to 17 local herbs and plants and how they are used - neat! The book concludes with a nice gazetteer-chapter in which players can glean some basic information on the respective locales and thus spare the DM a lot of exposition while providing enough player-friendly information to entice one into the rich lore of Razor Coast. The book also comes with two pages of char-sheets.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is okay, but not that great - there are quite a few editing/formatting glitches to be found herein, sometimes acting as slightly detrimental to the rules-language. Layout adheres to RC's per se beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks are almost universally completely awesome. The hardcover book's cover-artwork is not as blurred as the one of FaSB. Paper is rather thin in the physical version.



Lou Agresta, Tim Hitchcock, Tom Knauss, John Ling, RA Mc Reynolds, Rone Barton and Greg Vaughan are all talented designers and authors and it shows in the compelling narratives herein, in the setting-flavor that oozes in buckets from these pages. In the brightest moments, this guide indeed captures well the flair and panache of Razor Coast and showcases their capabilities. Unfortunately, that does not extend to the whole pdf - there are quite a few issues with the rules-language herein, filler-feats, massive issues with the Yohunga base-class... all of those accumulate.



Another issue would be that this pdf endeavors to be a player's guide and partially succeeds at its goal - at the same time falling flat of guiding players regarding the tone the campaign shoots for, which approach (as per the RC-book) to take etc. - if one player shoots for a Disciple of Dajobas, another for a Tulita and a third for essentially a colonialist pirate, as a DM you have an issue on your hands. Especially the former class does simply not belong in a player's guide - or at least requires a massive caveat. As a sourcebook, it fares slightly better, though e.g. the decision to include the player-material indulgences in the campaign setting instead of in this book should be considered slightly unfortunate. Personally, I also would have loved to see a slightly tighter synergy with FaSB, but that's okay and just a nitpick on my part. In the end, the Freebooter's Guide to the Razor Coast makes for a valid companion for a RC-campaign, but one that should see careful DM-oversight due to some problematic options/balance-concerns (*cough* Pele Liberator /*cough*).



In conclusion: Some light, some shadow - a mixed bag - final verdict: 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Razor Coast Freebooter's Guide - Pathfinder Edition
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Mythic Monsters: Oozes
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2014 09:32:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of raw content, so what do we exactly get here?



Well, let's take a look at the oozes - which present a unique challenge at mythic levels: Being mindless for one, an optional rule to retain the usefulness/threat of grab (ex) and mythic splitting are covered before we dive into the statblocks - all of these initial options are more than viable and fit the theme.



At CR 8/MR 3, Mythic black puddings may modify their reach for more attacks (great idea - more amorphous being should have that one!) and, while resistant to fire, are covered in an oil-like slick that can easily be ignited - yeah, picture that black blob dissolving AND burning your allies, leaving slime-trails of flammable material behind... Speaking of deadly - what about the CR 16/MR 6 Mythic Carnivorous Blob and its ability to negate temporarily its cold vulnerability. The blob can also spit globs of its matter and soften/liquefy bones of adversaries. Ouch!



At CR 10/MR 4, the mythic version of the deathtrap ooze can duplicate ranged traps, complex traps and even subdivide itself into various connected traps - which an enterprising DM can craft into a truly fearsome encounter! Glorious - now say again that oozes can't make for complex set-ups. The CR 5/MR 2 mythic electric jelly gets a reflexive shock and can emit electric pulses. At CR 4/MR 1, mythic gelatinous cubes get the adherence special quality to have weapons stuck to them. Solid.



Mythic Gray oozes at CR 5/MR 2 leave trails of caustic slime behind and corrode non-mythic items exceedingly fast and even extend their camouflage to include blindsense etc. The CR 8/MR 3 Mythic Hungry Fog can cause its victims to become shaken by shapes half-glimpsed and even duplicate the effects of phantasmal killer thus. These fogs can also kill foes and benefit from the death of engulfed adversaries. Mythic ID Oozes (CR 7/MR 3) can emit poisonous psychotropic vapors alongside caustic trails, adaptive camouflage (again) and may power its confusion causing-abilities via mythic power.



The Mythic Magma Ooze's lavabody and burning aura are neat (CR 9/MR 3, btw.), but its ability to kind of-detonate itself, entangling nearby foes in burning lumps of stone and its lava bomb-emitting capabilities are what make this one for me. The CR 6/MR 2 Mythic Ochre Jelly heals when dealing damage and can emit poison-delivering tendrils and noxious fumes. Nice! The CR 5/MR 2 slithering tracker's mythic version increases its con via blood drain and yes, it finally actually gets good at TRACKING. Prey. fast. Thanks! That one always annoyed the heck out of me.



The CR 7/MR 3 white pudding's mythic brother can make itself a fountain of acidic, cold death and also can burrow through snow/ice and turn itself into a kind of living avalanche. Very cool!



As has become the tradition, we also get a new creature, this time the CR 12/MR 5 quicksilver ooze that may auto-accelerate itself, block attacks, melt metal, can choose which damage type to deal (among the base damages) and that's not all: The ooze can diffuse elemental attacks to adjacent squares and duplicate the enchantments of weapons that hit it. Oh yeah, movement rate 60 feet. SUFFER! Glorious!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are once again very good - I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column standard and the two pieces of original full color artwork are glorious. The pdf comes with the good type of hyperlinks, but unfortunately no bookmarks - a comfort detriment here.



On the nitpicky side, once again ecology-sections are missing from some of the statblocks - gelatinous cube, gray ooze, id ooze, ochre jelly and the new quicksilver ooze all lack this component of the statblock - which while not crucial, represents a detriment. Jason Nelson delivers a cool array of oozes with a surprisingly diverse set of cool signature abilities that not only make oozes more diverse, it makes them actually FUN to ooze. Yeah bad pun. Sorry, couldn't resist. The oozes are cool and honestly, I'll rather use them than their non-mythic brethren, especially since non-mythic oozes tend to be boring for the DM to run. This, these oozes aren't. That being said, I think a slight bit more content for some, a signature ability here and there, would have been enough to make this truly legendary. Speaking of which - know what seems to be a running theme? The mythic versions are cool - the unique creatures are stellar. Personally, I'd love to see much more NEW monsters by LG!

All in all, in spite of the lack of bookmarks/partially missing ecologies, a pdf that gets my wholehearted recommendation, especially and additionally for even non-mythic DMs who want to scavenge some abilities to make the standard oozes less bland. Thus, in spite of its minor flaws, I'll settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Oozes
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Midgard Tales (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2014 07:45:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive adventure anthology is 198 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page backer-list/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 192 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Midgard Tales...an anthology with the goal of creating adventures to talk about. Not only are these supposed to be exciting, they are supposed to resound with the stuff of mythology, of being iconic in the truest sense of the world. This anthology is one massive book and thus, I will not go into as many details regarding the modules as usual, instead giving you a short heads-up regarding the respective modules. Also: I was a backer of this on kickstarter, but did not contribute in any shape or form to it. Got that?



Awesome! The following thus contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion, mostly because, believe me, you don't want this spoiled.



Tim Connors kicks off with the weirdest, most glorious 1st level module I've read in quite a while: Set upon the infinitely delayed Great Old Ones in eternal struggle, the PCs awake in "Atop the Warring Blasphemies" in essentially a nest...of one weird, semi-cthulhoid dragon-like being. Escaping from their predicament, the PCs have to navigate the gigantic bodies of the old ones and the politics of the weird goblin-tribes that worship and live among them. Worse, there actually are pulpy pieces of technology that keep the aura of bloodlust emitted by the huge creatures in check. Navigating the strange vertical settlements, shooting ballistae at adversaries, climbing, betrayal - this is one damn furious first module for any campaign and should be considered a true gem - it's only downside being that it will be hard to trump this tour-de-force.



Next up would be Morgan Boehringer's "Curse of the Witchkeep". Intended for 2nd level, the PCs are introduced to the village of Loshtadt in the Krakovan hinterlands. Intended as a horror adventure, a sense of desolation suffuses the area. And indeed, a dread curse has fallen upon the xenophobic settlement - biological time is passing exceedingly fast and this amplified ageing process may actually hit the PCs as well. Beyond this curse, not all is well - the village suffers from a powerplay between the lady of the area and the deadly cult of the harbinger, and at night, fear of the "night beast", which is in fact an eidolon, reigns. Undead witchwolves roam the countryside and in order to break the curse, the PCs will have to infiltrate the local keep's dungeon and put an end to the powerplay and deal in a great puzzle-combat with a semi-sentient orrery. Have I mentioned the antipaladin that may actually not be the worst possible ally or the other factions involved in the power-play? This is relatively complex and one of those deceptive modules that don't look that awesome on paper, but running it actually works exceedingly well and remarkable. Again, two thumbs up!



The next module, Ted Reed's "On the Fourth Day, We Kill Them All", for level 3 characters...is downright glorious. You may know that I have a soft spot for stories in the northlands, but all too often, the issue is that the authors don't get the mindset. Well, Ted Reed does. Set against the backdrop of a feud at a Þing, i.e. the kind-of-somewhat-democratic meetings, the PCs not only get to embark in simply superbly fun mini-games that breathe social flair and fluff, in order to persevere, they have to explore a fortress once swallowed by a living glacier and return, triumphantly, with an army of lost ancestors to prevail in a gambit for power. Have I mentioned the diverse political intriguing? Even if you don't like the Northlands, this module remains among the apex-modules in iconic imagery and things to do and should be considered a must-run masterpiece. I bow to the author! If all modules were this good, I'd be out of reviewing.



Chris Lozaga's "Bloodmarked of White Mountain" deals with a village under a strange curse - it seems like the dread ghost folk have bloodmarked a whole village to fall victim to their depredations, sending the whole village into a deep, unnatural slumber. What are the ghost folk? Essentially inbred, white face-painted orcs that ignite in white fire thanks to their strange customs and alchemy upon being slain. In order to lift the curse, the PCs will have to unearth the traumatic history of a hermit, climb a dread idol of the white goddess and finally enter an abandoned mine and defeat the ghost folk in their own environment. Sooo...this is the first module herein I consider good, but simply not that awesome. Yeah, orcs in Midgard are rare and the ignition-upon-death angle is nice...but I can't help but feel I've seen this exact plot before. Feeling more like a post-apocalyptic module, I was reminded of some classics of the genre (brownie-points if you can recall them). Now don't get me wrong - this still is a very good module, but in direct comparison, it somewhat pales.



Module number 5, Michael Lane's "Dawnsong Tragedy" (also for level 3) see the reappearance of a fabled yurt in the Rothenian plane...and the potential for sinister influence. Entering the yurt, the PCs find themselves trapped in a demiplane-style environment, requiring them to defeat a coalition of 3 agents of gods most foul, who, as it turns out, were responsible for the disappearance of the yurt. Each comes with its own, deadly environment and minions, making for a fun romp through uncommon areas. While there is not much going on beyond combat in the respective areas, their iconic layout helps make this module remarkable. Somewhat similar to Legendary Games' "Baleful Coven", this module is great, but not as 100% iconic as I would have liked. Primarily, I think the respective areas of the adversaries could have been a bit more far-out and feature some more unique terrain features. What I do really enjoy is that the respective areas are presented as hexes, though going full-blown hexploration, including random encounter tables, weird weather etc. could have made this very good module into a true legend.



Matt Hewson's "The Tattered Unicorn" (again, for level 3), kicks off with an unicorn ghost herding the PCs toward the village of Astig, where further issues ensue. Delving into the social dynamics of the small place and trysts long gone, the PCs have to find out, what has happened to the unicorn... and during the investigation, also manage the dynamics between a nymph and her forlarren sister as well as prevent a bound demon from being released by the mastermind of the unicorn's demise. All in all...an okay investigation. It's background isn't too special, the means of research not that pronounced, the plot ultimately somewhat simple. It's one of the modules where your PCs are most likely to stumble across the solution without getting all the details. Also: The final ritual, while called incantation in the text, does not get a full incantation treatment, which is somewhat of a pity. Now don't get me wrong, this module isn't bad in any way, but it also could have used more research consequences/pieces to put together. The threat promised by the set-up isn't really followed up on and while timeline etc. help, overall, it is a rather simplistic scenario for an investigation.



Ben McFarland's "To Resurrect the Steigenadler" (intended for level 4) is a whole different beast: When a bone-storm downs the airship the PCs boarded to traverse the wasted west, not only do their actions determine whether NPCs survive the crash, they also find themselves beseiged by mad cultists, terrible beasts born from insanity and in an area that simply is one of the most iconic, deadly ones in Midgard. In order to make the ship once again rise to the skies, brains, brawn and stealth are all required in a tale of survival, madness and consequences. Breathing the flair of the wasted west, this module is superb and ranks among the finest crash-landing scenarios I've seen in quite a while - once again, one of the legends and befitting Ben McFarland's superb resumé.



Erik Freund's level 5 module, "Masquerade", takes a different approach: Two-star-crossed lovers on different sides of a war, a forced marriage looming...realize something? Yes, this module is essentially "Romeo & Juliet"...much like some other modules I've read. But don't skip! Why? Because it is distinctly NOT "Romeo & Juliet" - the player characters first have to brave the seedy underbelly of Capleon for legwork and to acquire an elixir that is supposed to put Seletta, the Baron's daughter into a coma. In order to deliver the elixir, the PCs have to infiltrate a masque ball (complete with a SUPERB mini-game between Exposure and gaining enough clout to approach Seletta) - upon delivering the assassination attempt, a wild chase resumes, the after math of which is depending on the PCs managing exposure versus subtlety. Trying to retrieve her comatose body by breaking into the cemetery, the PCs finally have to flee the city and intrude into a realm in-between of Hellraiser-like madness between pain and insanity to finally face an ending that may be resoundingly triumphant or just as heart-rending bitter-sweet as its literary inspiration. The premise made me groan, the execution is so utterly ultra-glorious, though, that I can simply only slow clap to the ambition of the author. One legendary, smart epic indeed and one of the best modules I've read in ages.



Mike Franke's level 6 module "Whispers in the Dark" is more conservative in the ground it treads by having the PCs explore creepy mines and finally brave the derro-incursion beneath Breccia. Overall, a weird little crawl that, much like the second module, doesn't read as exciting on paper. However, Mike Franke seems to have a gift for fusing encounters and traps into a cohesive whole that works surprisingly well when run, creating an atmosphere beyond the sum of its parts.



Next up would be a module by the master of the macabre, Richard Pett: "Sorrow", for level 7 characters. The module kicks off with the PCs being invited to a "royal" wedding in the backwater town of Twine. As tradition will have it, the King in Rags, a debased Dark fey-lord is out to take the lord's daughter to claim his prize for services rendered in the past and thus, the PCs get to participate in a forced marriage-ceremony, where dancing with baccae, succeeding at fey-tasks and generally breathing the palpable sense of dark fantasy grit is tantamount - even before the lord tries to kill the King in Rags, thus sending his whole county into the fey's domain, where in a race against time, the PCs have to do some hasty hexploration to track down the King in Rags before the entity can consummate his marriage...potentially dealing with former brides and similar fey creatures and only, if they can stop the king's mantle of living crows from stopping their best attacks. The master of horror and dark fantasy at his finest, on par with the legendary "Courts of the Shadow Fey" in delightfully evil dark fey-flair. Another legend!



"Among the red monoliths" by Brian W. Suskind (level 7-9) caters to my preference of shades of grey morality - the city of Bourgund is a radiant place and when the PCs arrive there and have items confiscated, they probably will be rather grumpy, with those white knights mumbling something about primal giant slaying...and they'd better. The order of white knights has fallen victim to the very human sin of hubris and an ally of the most uncommon kind, the dread church of Marena, may all that stands between the city and utter destruction. In order to prevent the immortal primal guardians from escaping the monoliths that litter the city, the PCs have to help the dark cult get their hands on various items and finally, conduct the rite...which adds another issue...it requires human sacrifice. Shades of grey are not for every group, but this module makes a great stance for a module that does require adventuring on the darker sides of morality. As soon as the constantly regenerating giants get free, that ought to be rather clear. Uncommon and a type of module I haven't seen before in commercial publishing and surprisingly in line with how my campaigns tend to run, this one is rather fun, though players who see everything as black and white might disagree.



Thankfully, Brian W. Suskind also gets another module to show off his versatility as an author with the "Five Trials of Pharos", intended for level 10 characters. The premise is as uncommon as they come - Mharot dragon Yiraz invites the adventurers alongside some competing teams to embark on a race to 5 trials, each of which requires the solving of mundane, riddle-like instructions and ultimately is designed to realign ley-lines towards one nexus. The race comes with a vast array of different challenges and the symbolic power of the respective challenges also resounds properly. After a glorious, breathless race, the PCs will even have to save their draconic patron, who has been duped and thus had her body taken over by a grisly, legendary dragon/aboleth hybrid thought long-since perished. Yes. EPIC FINAL BATTLE indeed!



The final module, "The Stacks Between" is penned by no other than Crystal Frasier and takes place in our favorite clockwork-city of Zobeck, to be precise in the legendary, teleporting library Bibliolethe, last repository of so much lore of the reviled Stross family. Entering the precipice on the trail of a vanished mage, the PCs have a scant few 10 hours to navigate bound azata and their contractual obligations to a bound contract devil, avoid the groundkeeper and golems, navigate a cool puzzle-floor and finally defeat the spirit and madness of the library's former master, split in twain by the dread artifact that is responsible for the Bibliolethe's planehopping - if the shadow fey or former victims turned dread undead don't get the PCs first! Success may actually return the legendary library to Zobeck! Gloriously wicked, dark dungeon, somewhat reminiscent of Frog God Games' super "Black Monastery", but unique enough to exist alongside it.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are one of the unfortunate weaknesses of this book and one reason it did not score even higher on my Top Ten list of the best of 2013 - from bolding errors, wrong page-headers and typos to even map-glitches, one more thorough editing pass wouldn't have hurt this one. Layout adheres to Midgard's two-column full-color standard and is gorgeous. The same holds true for the extremely evocative, cool b/w-artworks throughout the book that convey so much better the darkness and grit of these modules than the deceptively light cover implies. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Speaking of artwork and maps - there is a second pdf that contains look-see-handout versions of the superb artworks and maps and while I'm not a big fan of non-KS-backers paying extra for them, I wouldn't complain, after all the maps are awesome. Or rather, I wouldn't complain, for the second gripe I have is that, once again, we get no player-friendly maps of the places, not even in the extra, for-sale handout-pdf! That's NOT cool - had I paid extra for handouts, I would have at least expected to have the maps sans letters, creature-markers etc. So yeah, that was the second factor that brought this down a notch. On the plus-side, the hardcover I got from the KS is a solid beauty with good paper and solid craftmanship -it certainly looks awesome and production values are top-notch here!



Now don't get me wrong - I've been at my top-notch complaining level throughout the whole review - there is not a single bad module herein. Not one. There isn't even a mediocre one in here. the worst I could say about any given module in this anthology would be that a module is just "good". But how is the ratio? 7 of these modules, on their own, would have me gush, grin and heap superlatives on them. 7.

That's more than 50% A++-modules, of which, I guarantee that much, you won't be disappointed. Add to that that the other modules all occupy slots at the higher echelons, never dipping to mediocrity, and we have an anthology that succeeds at its lofty goal of proving modules that players WILL talk about. That, ladies and gentlemen, is superb density regarding quality and sheer narrative potential. Have I mentioned that most modules herein coincidentally also make simply good reading material? To cut a long ramble short:

This anthology is well worth its place on my Top Ten of last year and 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Tales (Pathfinder RPG)
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Mythic Monsters: Molds, Slimes, and Fungi
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2014 07:42:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monsters-series is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of raw content, so what do we exactly get here?



I like the gritty and dark. My campaigns tend to feature a lot of diseases, poisons and the like. Add to that the fact that I have some serious health issues with regards to fungus spores and a traumatic horror story I read as a child and I'll come right out and say it: Demons? Lovecraftiana? Pfff. If you want me to feel uncomfortable, put me some fungi before me. I just consider them CREEPY and thus, I love using them. They also make players squeal - after all, who wants to be rotted from the inside-out?



As a nice idea, this pdf kicks off by introducing the optional fungus-subtype before providing...yes, 8 mythic fungus hazards. Though regular brown mold was bad? Wait until you fall into a patch of the mythic variant! Seriously, I love hazards and these add nastier variants to a DM's arsenal - so kudos!



Now let's look at the creatures, shall we? At CR 6/MR 2, the mythic ascomoid has not only better control via spore jets (and thus about their charging), it also is a neat fungal overrun machine. Cool! At the same CR/MR, the mythic basidirond not only gets poison blood and the option to entrap foes in ropy tendrils, they may also emit a sympathy-inducing aroma that can even fascinate those witnessing it from close-by. Creepy! At CR 12/MR 5, the Mythic Fungus Queen is a threat to fear indeed - not only can she energy drain, create difficult terrain (connected with her entrap ability!) and fight through her sporepods, she can also create legions of slain spawn. *shudder*



On the less high level/boss-battle style adversaries, we'd get the CR 3/MR 1 Mythic Leshy Fungus with soundburst (that one should probably be italicized) puffballs and yes, we also get full information for the ritual to create these.



Well, though the fungus queen was bad? CR 26/MR 10. MYTHIC MU SPORE. 'Nuff said. Or not - 8 signature abilities versus two of the non-mythic version. One-page glorious full-color artwork. Shudder, tremble and fear, mortals. One glorious beast! At CR 5/MR 2, the mythic myceloid can go one step further and transform those infected by their purple pox into full-blown myceloids - oh, and they may actually taste your emotions, highjacking morale bonuses and ferret out you via emotions. CREEPY. CR 4/MR 1 Mythic Phantom Fungus may spew forth dazzling spores. At CR 5/MR 2, the mythic phycomid can rapid fire their pellets and have them pop up in splash-damage-style bursts.



CR 3/MR 1 mythic slime molds can disgorge green slime and make those hit unwitting carriers. Mythic vegepygmies and their champions (at CR1/MR 1 and CR 2/MR 1) get greensight, can create greenblood oil and chieftains get essentially defensive russet mold.



At CR 4/MR 1, mythic violet fungi get tentacles with barbs, okay, I guess. Finally, we get a lavish one-page illustration in full color of the Fairy Ring, a CR 8/ MR 3 new beast that is a plant swarm with various SLs that can act as a planar crossroads, disenchant magic items, act as a guarded rope trick-style pocket dimension, deals its swarm damage not only selectively, but also non-lethal and can even put you to sleep or pronounce ageing curses! Superb, iconic, awesome and a final capstone offering for the book!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally, rather good - while there aren't any significant glitches that detract from the entries per se, it should be noted that basidirond, leshy, phantom fungus and violet fungus miss the ecology-entries of their statblocks. Not a catastrophe, but also a minor glitch. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the two 1-page full color illustrations are glorious. The pdf comes bookmarked, but not to the respective entries and the bookmarks seem to be taken from the Demon-pdf, another minor gripe there. the pdf comes bookmarked with the good type of hyperlinks that is applied to rules/components where it makes sense.



Jason Nelson has crafted a thoroughly disturbing array of cool creatures (and hazards) here, with just about every critter filling very iconic roles and some monsters actually doing exceedingly cool things. That being said, this level of awesomeness is not continuous - the violet fungus, for example and the vegepygmies feel somewhat less inspired than the otherwise awesome creatures herein. Add to that the aforementioned glitches, and we arrive at a verdict where I can recommend this installment of mythic monsters at a heartfelt 4.5 stars, but will round down by a very small margin to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Molds, Slimes, and Fungi
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Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 2 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Radiance House
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2014 06:14:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second Pact Magic-book is a whopping 107 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 blank page, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 100 pages of content - so let's take a look!



So, how do we start? Well, essentially with class options for all non-core classes - from exorcizing bombs to spirits in a bottle (i.e. poor pacts via mutagens), we get two damn cool discoveries for the alchemist as well as the occult chymist archetype - who gets diminished alchemy to pay for access to spirits. As a cool drawback, the alchemist develops an addiction to one chosen constellation, getting penalties when not bound with a spirit of said constellation - it should be noted that slowly, the penalties of this addiction can be overcome. Cavaliers may choose from two new orders - the order of the Occult Eye and the Order of Saelendrios - whereas the former would be dabbler in the occult, teh former are devoted to the eradication of pact magic, following in the footsteps of a particular order from Tome of Magic - only with vastly superior rules and proper benefits! Of course, Cavaliers also get a new archetype, the Pactsworn Knight - essentially a cavalier with binder capabilities - here the synergy between bound spirits and cavalier abilities is formidable, allowing the cavalier to e.g. challenge a foe and treat it as the favored enemy of his bound spirit(s). Occult Avengers are Gunslingers that live only for revenge - and thus use pact magic to hunt down their respective marks - while bound to spirits, their two exclusive deeds allow them to act as superb trackers of adversaries.



No other class is as predisposed fluff-wise to opposing pact magic as the inquisitor and hence the class gets a new anti-spirit inquisition. The occult abolisher is hence also a specialist of combat against pact magic - whereas the occult sadist pays for binding spirits and a painful touch (i.e. an antipaladin's touch of corruption -PLUS cruelty later!) with slightly diminished spellcasting, while the Pact Protector is just the opposite - a protector of spirits and occultists that has a glorious idea - instead of solo tactics, it allows for teamwork-feat synergy between practitioners of pact magic instead of the regular solo tactics! Glorious and elegant! The Magus may now opt for the Sibyl archetype - using essentially a pact magic's equivalent of spell combat, these beings can also use arcane strike to replenish the expended abilities of spirits and later even quickly exchange spirits!



Of course, Occultists also get a new archetype, the Occult Scholar - these scholars get access to a revelation from the lore mystery, but also are barred permanently from one constellation, unlike the other archetypes, which more often than not choose a particular constellation alignment and prohibit the respective binding character from binding opposed spirits. We also are introduced to new binder secrets - for example one that allows you to redirect abilities that have been saved against to other eligible targets! Echoing abilities (for increased cool-down), affecting incorporeal creatures, a spirit alarm-system, particular efficiency against favored foes and even a way to heal oneself by temporarily suppressing spirits. The occultist also gets favored class options - including ones for all those ARG-races! Oracles of the Spirit Realm mystery can learn via a revelation to bend targets into greyish mockeries of themselves, cloak you and your allies from the unwitting eyes of mortals and whisper maddening, confusing whispers, reincarnate those perished by virtue of your connection to the spirit realm and even untether your very soul from your body! The Spirit Medium comes with a custom curse that represents the continuous onslaught of spirits, worrying away the medium's will and subjecting them always to the influence of spirits. Have I mentioned that they may bind spirits (d'unhhhh) and also gets an actually functioning Ouija-board.



Summoners may now add minor granted abilities to their eidolons or have them steal minor abilities! Archetype-wise, summoners may now opt for the Spirit Caller - these beings essentially replace their eidolon with vestigial spirit companions that can easily be suppressed and further enhances said companions - damn cool! The Spirit Drudge Witch has the familiar exhibit/suppress the sign, making for a rather unique situation roleplaying-wise - depending on the constellation chosen, the archetype also gets a neat array of different bonus spells, but also prohibited constellations.



Chapter 2 kicks off with new uses for established skills and new feat: Ability-sharing via teamwork-feats, increasing binding DC for a higher effective level, minor access to low level domain powers, occult spells modified with metamagic that automatically succeed at their concentration-checks for +2 levels, having a reserve spirit, partially ignoring DR of favored foes via the expenditure of grit, more control on monstrous aspects - these feats are surprisingly, all killer, no filler!



Next up would be new spirits - 31 of them! Fans of the original "Secrets of Pact Magic" will rejoice here - for not only do we now get full legends for more of the respective spirits! Forash the mule-headed demon and e.g. Marat, who may have been either an intelligent construct with a story that is an interesting twist on the old Pinocchio/Gaining of sentience-trope, the first of the gearforged or a similar case would be two of the old favorites that have been updated here - much like the first Pact Magic Unleashed, the mechanics and their application to Pathfinder are vastly superior to the original D&D 3.X-iteration - Alexander Augunas is having a roll here. Even Milo of Clyde, the cynical detective, originally appeared in Villains of Pact Magic, makes a return here - and awesomely so: You may as an immediate action convert regular damage into non-lethal damage, but only if you're not immune against the former: Awesome to survive uncommon threats and possibly even survive what otherwise would be a TPK! Other favorites like Lord Foxglove IV, the exchequer of the stole purse or Cornelius Button, the dual-minded gardener of dreams or the grisly tale of Ethaniel Midnight, the sadistic torturer that not even hell wanted to accept - all of these and many more can be found herein.

To my delight, the rather complex "spirit" of Circe's 32 runes has also been upgraded - in a rather interesting way: instead o simply gaining access to some spells depending on the runes chosen (in addition to the other benefits), the spirit now makes a distinction between upper case and lower case runes and the spell-like abilities they grant, adding another dimension of tactics to the fray when choosing runes. As a minor fly in the ointment, I would have loved to see the visual depictions of the original runes in this book as well - but that's just me being obsessive about runes and symbols, I guess. The Primordial Titans, Merickel, Hero of False Destiny - many of these have been updated, but it should be noted that unlike most updates from 3.X, these often come with new, revised and thoroughly changed/streamlined abilities, often not even being the same level as their original iterations - so yeah, even if you do own the original books, this one provides so much more than even a diy-conversion in line with PU 1 would offer - and that is what makes a great update, at least for me! Now originally, the spirit known as Overmind was rather broken - it is my utmost pleasure to report that the spirit's power to jump forward through time is still there, though now balanced by a higher level! The tomb of the immortal god-king Septigenius Maximus is featured fully mapped - by the way, this one allows you to gain a gaze attack that can transform adversaries into salt, granite...and even gold!

Not all spirits herein are simply conversions, though - take Al'akra. Also known as the Tall Man. if you're not shuddering at least slightly by now, go watch "marble Hornets" on youtube. I'll be waiting.

....

....

...

Back? Yeah. Want paranoia-inducing powers, terror and spatial blending at your disposal? All possible! Damn cool! Speaking of which: Especially Midgard-aficionados should have a very wide grin upon reading of the option to bind FRIGGIN' JÖRMUNGANDR as a level 7 spirit! Synchronizing wounds with foes, control water, raining poison from the skies - this is incredibly awesome and makes for a damn cool addition to the plethora of spirits available! Now what happens when Alexander Augunas' preference for Kitsune meets with Lovecraftiana? Yith' Anu, a trickster/body-snatcher kitsune/Great race of Yith-hybrid that not only allows you to emulate the mind-swapping gambits of said kitsune and erase the memories of others - instead of vestigial companions, you can get extra bodies into which to swap! What about making a pact in what is essentially Lamashtu in all but name, allowing you to summon deadly, powerful spirit-touched monsters and even heal yourself by drinking the blood of the freshly slain. As an adversary, the wolf-headed, extremely potent Worglord, first of the Hero constellation, is also tied in a rather interesting way to aforementioned mother of monsters.



Next up would be new spells - but first we are introduced to the new [occult]-descriptor as well as the aging-necromancy subschool as well as 3 new cleric subdomains - since this review already is rather lengthy, I'll skim over these and just say: Awesome, cool - no complaints. Among the magical items, we get new qualities, exorcism bells - and thoroughly unique items like lenses that may store and copy information - or what about the orb of soul binding, which is a massive 100 pounds heavy!- oh, and we get gnostic tomes, which include the information to bind spirits - nice to offer them as treasure!



Chapter 5 is titled as esoterica and adds an "occult" background to... *drum-roll* the easy character background generator from ultimate Campaign! Hell yeah! Now that is not only useful, it's awesome! Of course, we thus also require new traits, of which we get 16 and yes, we even get 4 new drawbacks to accompany these! Finally, we get Pact Magic's spellblights, so-called pact maladies - essentially supernatural afflictions that can result from Pact Magic.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I didn't notice significant glitches, only minor ones and few to boot. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard that is both elegant and nice to look at. The b/w-artworks are raw and convey well the unique feeling of pact magic and the respective spirits all come with depictions of their seals, which is something I consider thoroughly awesome - having players draw the seals themselves is a fun means of immersion, by the way. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Pact Magic Unbound 2...is essentially Pact Magic's APG - not only in support of the non-core-classes, but in the vast array of new options, the smart conversions, the quality of the new material - this is a completely non-optional expansion for the awesomeness that is Pact Magic - not only do the respective rules go beyond lame spell-like abilities and instead offer some truly unique things to do that no other class covers, it also irons out many of the glitches old spirits had in their former incarnation and simply adds so much more to the fray. While not all spirits have legends, we get more of them than in PU 1 and the tie-in with Ultimate Campaign's char-generator is a blessing indeed. Mechanically more than solid and creative and expanding the lore of Pact Magic with thoroughly awesome new spirits and options, Pact Magic Unleashed Vol. 2 is a superb book in just about every way, with great production values and awesome content - If you're looking to introduce Pact Magic into your game, get it along Pact Magic Vol. 1 - the two books combine to give you a much richer experience that allows you to make Pact Magic a vital, cool component in your gaming world - so bring a sense of the occult to the table and bind the friggin' Tall Man/Slender Man/Operator! Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval + candidate for my top ten of 2014 since I didn't get review done in 2013!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pact Magic Unbound, Vol. 2 (PFRPG)
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The Fat Lady Sings: 14 Compositions for the Maestro Base Class
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2014 06:10:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Interjection Games' maestro is one of the more colorful, unique and awesome base classes out there and this pdf is all about additional fodder for these guys - clocking in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, we get 3 pages of new compositions - but can they hold up to the base classes' tremendous potential?



I'm assuming you're familiar with how the class works; If not, check my review for a break-down of it. Got it? Okay!



So what do we get? Well, there would be for example 4 new intros. The first one would be the Anthem of the dutiful knight, which conjures forth an intangible spectral knight that readies an action to hit people trying to attack while remaining adjacent to you to attack the intrepid interloper. Balance-wise, here is an interesting innovation - using this intro reduces the amount of melody slots by one. Conjuring forth illusory doubles of allies within 30 feet also works rather neat. When invoking a song of friendship, maestros can highjack dominations and similar mind-influencing effects - awesome! Finally, maestros can use an into to annoy enemies with miss-chance inducing (get this!) sugarplums. Yes. Sugarplums. Cool! (I know, bad pun...)



A total of 9 melodies would be next - one lets your allies emit AoE-demoralizing shouts that deal minor sonic damage, while another allows for rerolls for allies, for balance's sake at -2. Yet another defensive melody can prevent flanking (ouch!) and another penalizes any attack on you or your allies within 30 feet with 1 point electricity and 1 point sonic damage. Might look like it's not much, but believe me...these can accumulate. Another melody makes it possible for a maestro to help e.g. other elemental blasters by adding penalties to foes damaged by more than 5 points of elemental damage. A haunting tune to penalize fear-based saves would be more common...but Interjection Games' trademark imaginative ideas are back with a miss-chance granting interposing musical notations (!!). Yes. Awesome. Though don't expect these to catch giant's boulders. Also cool - maestros may offer their will-save to allies, but if said ally fails, both are hit by the effect. Finally, what about a melody that allows you to once per round force opponents in range reroll their roll, but at +2? Rather cool!



Finally, there is one new eponymous outro - the Fat Lady cometh. It is awesome. You conjure forth a slow-moving, ponderous spectral opera singer that you can move around throughout the composition. She arrives with the intro and remains for the whole composition. In the end, she emits a shriek that AoE stuns opponents, but compositions that include her cannot be aborted prior to reaching the outro. Design-wise, this hints at vast untapped potential via other intros/melodies/outros and the imagery...is damn cool.



Conclusion:

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



This additional fodder for the great Maestro-class is simply glorious and hints at a lot of design-potential that could be explored here. The ideas are fresh, the wording is concise (in spite of rather complex concepts realized) and the added oomph makes the maestro even cooler - what's not to like? Well, personally, I'm not too big a fan of the spell focus feat that acts as a prereq to many of the compositions. Yeah. That's all the nitpick I've got here. A personal preference. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fat Lady Sings: 14 Compositions for the Maestro Base Class
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