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Savage Alternate Class
Publisher: Forest Guardian Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:10:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This alternate class clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



No the terminology might be considered a problem from the get-go - the word "Savage" constitutes more than a direct opposition to "civilized men." Hence, the 1st page is devoted to an explanation that acknowledges that this pdf is not based on any real life cultures -I applaud this maturity. If you're interested in the genesis of the development and meanings associated with this particular dichotomy, feel free to drop me a line.



The Savage class is an alternate class for both barbarian and monk, meaning that multiclassing into either is prohibited. The class receives d12, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with axes and generally, stone age-style weapons - a comprehensive guideline for savage weapons and armors would be included here, allowing for further, campaign world specific customizations of proficiencies. When wearing medium or heavy armor, the savage loses both fast movement, furious blows and the AC-bonus. It should also be noted that the savage can add two skills of their choice as tribal lore to their array of class skills.



The class also receives full BAB-progression, good fort and ref-saves, an AC (and CMD!)-bonus scaling up to +5 and increased movement rate scaling up to +60 ft. What are furious blows? Well, at first level, the savage can execute +1 attack, imposing a -2 penalty to all attacks. These scale upwards at 8th and 15th level and these attacks may only be executed with savage weapons. Interestingly, the ability manages to get two-weapon fighting rules-interaction right - there is none this time around and this is good in this case - the ability is rather powerful, though thankfully, certain massive weapons have an additional penalty applied.



Now the savage may also enter a primal state as a full-round action that provokes AoOs. Said state can be maintained up to 24 hours and provides +2 to Intimidate, Handle Animals and Sense Motive skill checks and Improved Unarmed Strike as a feat, which also works for the purposes of feat-prerequisites - nice catch! Additionally, the state can be expended to power abilities and feats, somewhat akin to how psionic foci work - the lists of feats/powers contain the necessary information for which needs the expenditure. Instead of a rage, savages may enter so-called rampages for up to 4+con-mod rounds per day, +2 per additional class level. While in a rampage, savages receive +2 to will-saves, acrobatics, climb and swim-checks. Now rampage also offers temporary hit points equal to foe's HD for every enemy reduced to 0 hit points or below - surprisingly, the ability comes absolutely kitten-proof - no way to abuse this! Gloriously done!



Now the next thing would be a bit complex, so bear with me - savages of 2nd level (and every even level thereafter) may select a monk's bonus feat or a barbarian rage power as a savage power, though the latter only work while rampaging. Evasion and improved evasion may be chosen as well, the latter thankfully with a level-cap. A massive list of rage powers from core, APG and UC are provided and yes, the pdf is smart enough to prevent combinations of different totem rage powers. The class also receives uncanny dodge at 2nd level (improved at 5th) and a scaling danger sense that translates to a bonus to initiative and a bonus to AC when being attacked by ranged weapons in the surprise round - nice spider-sense! Savages also receive scaling bonuses versus diseases and poisons that turn to immunity at very high levels.



Also rather nice - savages may learn to receive bonuses versus particular spell schools (including psionic ones!), but this is not where we stop:



At 4th level, the savage receives a pool of feral points equal to 1/2 class level +con-mod. As long as the pool contains at least 1 point, rampaging savages may have weapons count as magic for DR-purposes and at 9th level, also as cold iron/silver. When in primal state, a savage may expend 1 point from the feral pool as a swift action to increase movement by 20 ft for 1 round, +2 natural AC for 1 round, +20 (!!!) acrobatics for jumping purposes only or +1 to critical confirmation rolls for con-mod rounds. Additionally, 4th level savages may expend feral points to quickly heal non-lethal damage or diminish the duration of some negative conditions.



At 7th level, savages heal even without resting at an increased natural rate and increases the amount of conditions they can diminish. Where math became complex for me would be the option to expend 2 feral points for +1 round of rampage - think of all the combinations possible...



At 11th level, savages receive ferocity and the truly high-level savages may enter blood rages. The capstone makes the savage tougher and makes criting them very hard - but this is not where we stop; This pdf also provides quite a few archetypes, first of which would be the Dread Savage. Instead of entering a primal state, these guys may enter a kind of death-like trance that has them count as undead, but still allows them to be healed by positive energy - provided they succeed a concentration-check. Their rampage allows them to render targets hit by their wight strikes shaken, allowing the dread savage to expend rounds of rage for additional slam attacks (no synergy with furious blows, though) and the archetype also receives a debuff aura , increased saves versus level-drain etc. The dread pool the archetype has, also allows for wholly unique benefits and 3 new rage powers complement the package.



The second archetype would be the Noble Savage - noble savages receive an unleashed presence in lieu of rampaging, use their cha-mod to determine their pool and may expend said points to grant themselves cha-mod as bonus to saves for 1 round. It should be mentioned that the presence has the bonuses applied to completely social skills and that it's governed by cha as well. Almost perfect negotiators, they can grant themselves massive bonuses to bluff, but thankfully not for feinting purposes.



Next up would be a special treat with the phrenic savage alternate class, a psionic alternative to the base savage - these guys receive changed save-progressions, a limited array of power points (scaling from 1 to 70), governed by wisdom. The phrenic savage also receives unlocked talent and a pretty limited array of psionic tricks thus, later learning to use wis to govern it instead of cha. Phrenic savages may expend power points to temporarily grant them rapid metabolism and similar feats, including a kind of DR versus ability score reduction (somewhat unfortunately named "ability", making it slightly more opaque than it should be). The improved fiery discorporation capstone at 20th level is also rather nice, though the phrenic savage pays for the psionic tricks with both the flurry-like trick and the rampages. Still, would have loved the class to mention for what it is an alternate class - I *assume* full multiclassing potential, but I'm pretty sure the class probably ought to have some limit. The 4 psionic feats used by the alternate class and the two psionic powers are provided in here as well.



We also receive a final page of primitive weapons, courtesy of Little Red Goblin Games, ranging from the great macuahuitl to the gunstock club - these are all solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while, in some instances, wording is slightly less precise than I would have wanted it to be, over all, the pdf manages to handle the complex content rather well. Minor issues like the "st/nd/rd/th" missing behind the numbers in the class level table of the Phrenic Savage can be considered generally cosmetic. The pdf comes with glorious, original full-color pieces of art and the 2-column b/w-standard generally is printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Morgan Boehringer (lead developer), with Jim Wettstein (and additional content by Keil Hubert and Christos Gurd), just delivers. There's no way around it, the savage may be the most interesting melee-base-class I've seen in quite a while - it is powerful and I was honestly surprised that it fared so well in playtest and turned out to be rather well-balanced. This is honestly the level of awesomeness I would have expected from each and every ACG-class. The savage has more options than either monk or barbarian, without invalidating the parent classes. The additional content just represents the icing on the cake. The psionic variant class is also solid, though it feels slightly less inspired - mainly because the class does not have that many tricks up its sleeve - the unlocked talent route does not necessarily provide a selection of powers to use, which the pdf seems to imply. Unlocked Talents nets the phrenic savage exactly ONE power, which is prescribed by the pdf. Why not provide at least a slight array of e.g. psychometabolism choices?



The psionic savage is simply not half as interesting and flexible as the base class and thus, would be one of my minor complaints. Another minor issue would be the 19th level of the savage class, which is a dead level. Now are these minor issues? Yes. Is the overall class AWESOME? HECK YEAH! The savage constitutes a damn cool addition to any kind of group, is fluff-wise easily implemented, complex, yet easy to grasp and would be 5 stars + seal of approval were it not for aforementioned minor glitches. With the slight imperfections, which in no way spoil this otherwise damn cool class, I will instead settle "only" for a final verdict of 5 stars. Consider this the monk/barbarian-class the ACG should have delivered, but didn't.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Savage Alternate Class
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Lucien's Guide: The Black Files (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:07:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

If you read this review, one of the following is true:



1. You're me. Hello, handsome devil!

2. I have shared this information with you - don't screw this up!

3.You have stolen this homepage - I have been notified of your identity and location.

4. You have killed me. Good for you, but you have eliminated the ward that left a whole bunch of nastiness in check.

5. I have died and you took up my mantle - good for you, but I hope I've had the chance to provide the keys, because I wasn't joking in 4.

...

This intro mirrors (in less vivid prose) how this guide begins - to give you an inkling of the level of quality of the writing. The pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 12 pages of raw content, so what is contained in these pages?



This pdf blasts off with a rant that actually had me laugh - on the nature of scholarship and misidentifying artifact and relics as Typhonian - only to provide what can only be called a cornucopia of diverse theories regarding the nature of Typhonians - as in the best of LoGaS-supplements, the content herein is all about potential - the theories are provided with cues to what is or may be true, but no universal monolithic truth is prescribed - we receive ideas: How the Typhonians and the grand stair interact, for example. What actually constitutes a Typhonian as to opposed what makes one an Echidnan - the added diversity makes for a truly compelling addition to the lore.



The second file contains information on a civilization kind of lost - the Ildari. A vast star-spanning empire that has been subject to a cataclysm, much like Warhammer 40 K's empire, it still looms strong, if not as powerful as before - having mastered space travel, the Ildari may make for a cool addition to one's world, especially since the Grand Stair as an alternative (including the opposition that uses it) may very well see a massive conflict brewing...awesome! Especially since proper mechanics for Ildari supplement the information provided -secret realms, arrays and cosmos make for great additions for the DM to weave stories around!



The third file kicks off with an amusing rant on the cliché of an evil overlord who called himself "Harbinger" - alas, the irreverent tone of the narrator is only half justified - unlike many similar pseudo-villains that think they're big shots until a Gossamer Lord/Lady puts them in their place, this guy actually had a very powerful patron - an entity called Matekai. This entity gobbles up world. Yes. And the irreverent tone might be justified, but on the other hand, this creature may be a Typhonian...or something completely different.



Speaking of different (and to me, profoundly frightening) - Basta. A plant that controls the biome of its whole world, the size of a town, which must have consumed an entity of significant power, receiving impossible knowledge. Worse, its strange psychology makes for a difficult decision on whether it is benign or simply amoral...and it's rooting on other planets.... *shudders*



The modification Basta-controlled for worlds and attributes for lesser and greater basta are provided.



A total of 4 diverse mini-hooks of outstanding Black Files are also provided before we're introduced to the Black Office -and the caretaker of the files, one lady Kitabu, fully portrayed in all her glory as an NPC servant of Lucien.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes studded with GLORIOUS full-color artwork of the highest quality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



It is, in one word, ASTOUNDING how many awesome ideas Rob Donoghue has managed to cram into these pages - the content herein is universally inspiring, top-notch, and each and every Black File quoted herein can fuel an adventure, perhaps even a campaign. This book is one brilliant, superb supplement full of awesome ideas and should be considered not only a great buy for LoGaS-fans, but also for any DMs looking for inspiration (or simply a good read!) beyond what one usually receives in pdfs.



Final verdict? A must-buy LoGaS-pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lucien's Guide: The Black Files (Diceless)
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Flaws II
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/28/2014 04:05:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so what do we get?



Well, if the title wasn't clue enough - more flaws. What are they? They can be summed up as anti-feats. They can be taken at 1st level and every character can only have two flaws Each flaw grants 3 skill points or one bonus feat, but if a character takes 2 flaws, he may choose each benefit only once. Flaws can only be taken at first level as written, though DMs may elect to grant them later - at their own peril.



Now each flaw has a specific type of penalty associated with it and a cost to buy it off. Unless I've miscounted, a total number of 30 new flaws are contained within these pages. So what do flaws do? well, take the one that makes you an orthodox druid who may not use metal, tools as well as a -3 penalty to all cha-based interactions with civilized folk, with violations potentially increasing this penalty even up to -5. At 5th level (and no sooner), Skill Focus (Diplomacy) as a feat accompanied by atonement may buy off the flaw.



Now if you've read the original pdf on flaws, you'll notice something - the minimum level requirements to pay them off. This is perhaps my favorite piece to be added to the concept herein - in the original pdf, some flaws could immediately be paid off. This, while easily handled in a mature group, somewhat opened the system towards being gamed, while the new flaws do not have that...flaw. Yeah, sorry, I'll put a buck in the bad pun jar.



Now back to the concepts - being in debt, cursed, addicted (with scaling benefits/penalties!), being too flirtatious or frail or being a monk with an inner turmoil - the flaws herein are generally not only superior to the first book, they are better balanced among themselves and the selection of class-specific flaws is glorious! Being lovelorn, an honor-bound paladin - several of the flaws herein just ooze style and enhance a character's personality. Phobias, kleptomania, suffering from tribal taboos - the respective array of options is diverse, unique and fun.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity - nice!



Robert W. Thomson's Flaws are damn cool - I've been playing with the original ones for some time and my only gripe with them was that they could be gamed sans gentlemen's agreements. The new flaws do not suffer from this drawback...at least to this extent, which brings me to the *one* thing I do not like about this pdf - Paizo has since introduced minor and major drawbacks in Ultimate Campaign and a short note for each flaw on whether this would be more in line with either for a tighter synergy of systems would be awesome to have. That being said, I am of the firm conviction that the flaws herein can make for more interesting characters and concepts, with plenty of hooks enhancing them, while providing tangible benefits for the players to take them. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Flaws II
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Subterranean Enclave: Severed Umbra
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:29:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This first installment of Raging Swan Press' Subterranean Enclave-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What is this series about? Well, in one sentence: "Village Backdrops for the Underworld." That's the truth in theory - i.e. you'll find a settlement statblock, a market place, a couple of notable folk and places, lore and rumors, sample events - by now you know the formula that works so extremely well. In practice, this is rather different beyond the formal criteria. Once, when the slums of the city of Fairhaven plummeted into the underdark, squashing an enclave of dark folk and subsequently cutting off the survivors from both the upper world and the realms below, people were forced to work together - the result being a most unlikely constellation:



In Severed Umbra, now once again opened and a vibrant trading spot with the realms below, regular folk coexist with the enigmatic dark folk, having adopted their mannerisms and habit of dressing. Surrounding a lake that is the home to weird phosphorescent fish makes for a cool general location and the village is also sporting a place where lizards are cultivated for their meat as well as a dark rag outfitter, psychotropic shroom addicts, a psychotic halfling evoker ( level 9, fully statted) and a fully statted dark stalker co-leader of the town. Beyond these obvious hooks, acclimatization to the dark and actually kind dark stalker healers (!!!) make for further odd, yet pleasant peculiarities.



Better yet, aforementioned sample events prove to be pretty helpful in driving home the special considerations a place like this requires.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' two-column b/w--standard, with superb cartography in b/w. As always, you can download player-friendly maps on Raging Swan's homepage. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer, with both being fully bookmarked.



I couldn't have imagined a more suitable writer to kick off the new series - Mike Welham's Severed Umbra is delightfully unconventional and distinct, with more hooks than you'd imagine to find in the pages of such a supplement - possibly even enough to base a whole campaign on this camp of former outcasts, forged together into an unlikely unity. The one problem I see with this pdf is that it sets a very high standard for the whole series and the pdfs to come - I hope other authors can match this cool locale. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for a great place indeed!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Enclave: Severed Umbra
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The Genius Guide to More Ranger Talents
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:27:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 11 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



A total of 7 new edges are provided - which sounds like not much. Well, they cover pages 2 -5: What I'm trying to say is - they are LONG. A total of 16 companion tricks, from trample to grab etc. - all those NASTY monster qualities, are for example part of the tricks! Or what about more hunter's tricks like one that prevents AoOs from spells or spell-like abilities? What about upgrading movement to flying, but with the caveat that you have to end your movement on solid ground or fall - WuXia-rangers, anyone? Oh, and fighter feats. Yeah.



A total of 13 new talents are also provided - including unnatural auras, a revenge smite for killing animal companions, fast stealth in the right terrain, etc. 5 new advanced talents, allow you to make overland chases hard for your enemies (Yeah!), see through plant matter and even using level-checks to temporarily disable abilities of favored enemies.



We also receive a massive 8 new Grand Talents - restoring favored allies from the dead, adding the advanced template to animal companions, free withdraws after hitting foes for ultimate skirmishing... the options are deadly and nasty indeed! Or want to make your spells supernatural? There you go!



The final page groups the talents by theme and does something awesome - it provides advice for using Rogue Genius Games Ranger's Knacks and the talents of Kobold Press' Spell-less Ranger. Nice shout-out and cool to see!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



The options provided in this expansion of the talented ranger are powerful - some of the animal tricks, especially when taken out of context, can result in really nasty tricks and the same goes for some of the other options herein - so yes, imho this is a power-level upgrade for the Talented Ranger. Owen K.C. Stephens has obviously left the more experimental pieces for this expansion, nut unlike the book on the barbarian, the talents herein feel more inspired, more unique and more streamlined than the expansion for the barbarian. While I do think that the edges and talents herein can be used to craft deadly rangers indeed, I failed to make anything truly broken - and e.g. the ability-disable strike requiring prior knowledge of a monster's capability rewards the good ole' "The more you know..."-G.I. Joe trope and is something I really like.



Overall, that's the gist - the options are powerful, but damn cool and often just...interesting and uncommon. Hence, my final verdict for this expansion will clock in at "only" 4.5 stars, still rounded up to 5, mainly because the options herein may need a bit of scrutiny from DMs, but are too neat to leave by the wayside.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to More Ranger Talents
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Sorcerer Bloodlines
Publisher: Tripod Machine
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/27/2014 06:24:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clock in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, this book introduces us to an array of more bloodlines for sorcerors...so how do they hold up?



The ancient bloodline is all about the spirits of the past, but more in a "tapping into the ancestor's knowledge"-way. More interesting would be the crystal bloodline - fire rays and shards, refract illusions - nice one!



The lycanthropy bloodline nets you beast shape and claws/bites - the former do not explicitly specify whether they are considered primary or secondary natural attacks, though the bite's caveat it can be used as secondary makes me think that they are primary weapons. This slightly opaque wording here, explicitly stating how many attacks you can execute with them, which, while precise, deviates somewhat from how one would expect such an ability to be delivered - it's more in line with a spell in its wording than a granted natural attack. While this is not perfect in my book, I get the rationale behind it and thus, this will not influence my final verdict. On the plus side, the scaling of them is awesome - increasing damage type and even netting bleed damage at higher levels.



The martial bloodline allows you to have a kind of arcane shield and store spells in your weapon - generally, a surprisingly cool bloodline! Inspired by the planar merchants, the mercane bloodline is about displacement, invisibility and the like - neat! The musical bloodline allows you to countersing, erect walls of sound etc. The phantasmal bloodline makes it possible to use mirror image-like decoys, daze foes or unleash phantasmal killers on foes. Particularly regal, even among sorcerors, the royal bloodline is all about glory and comes with a touch buff and an arcane bond.



The sand bloodline nets burrow speed and sand blasts...but I've seen this concept done better before. The same cannot be said for the swarm bloodline-squeezing into spaces, distracting foes with pseudo-swarm-like particles - damn cool! (And yes, assuming swarm form and apotheosis are high-level options for this one!)



The Time bloodline may have a bit of a killer ability at first level - at a touch phase an enemy from the time-stream for 1 round. While not that impressive on paper, in combat, this can be very powerful. Thankfully, the 1/24 hours/target-caveat prevents abuse, but I would have loved to have information on what happens if the space of the creature phasing back is occupied. The Toymaker bloodline can entangle foes with strings, summon toys etc. - nice, though not as cool as Dreadfox Games' Puppetmaster. The Xill bloodline receives claws (same ramble as with the claws granted by the lycanthropic bloodline), paralytic bites etc.



We also receive 2 archetypes - the cunning sorceror who exchanges bloodline powers and arcana for more skills and feats and the Battle Sorceror. The latter receives d8 HD, some weapon and armor proficiency sans spell failure, but pays for that with less spells. Additionally, they may select combat feats instead of bloodline feats. Solid.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks are solid b/w stock. The pdf comes with minimum bookmarks, but a few are better than none.



RJ Grady's Sorceror Bloodlines are more than solid - in spite of having seen MANY of these, this pdf has managed to provide a couple of cool options I haven't seen before and utilizes solid crunch and wording to deliver its concepts. That being said, for my own tastes, the capstones result a bit too often in apotheosis-style transformations and immunities - while in line with the tradition, this also means that the capstones not always can be considered as awesome as one would like it to be - not all bloodlines reach the awesomeness-level of e.g. the swarm-bloodline.



HOWEVER, over all, this is a nice pdf for a more than fair price-point and the mini-archetypes, while not too uncommon, make for solid micro-toolkits to add to the sorceror. My final verdict hence will treat this pdf as a good pdf on the verge of, but not completely, in the territory of greatness. Thus, my final verdict is 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcerer Bloodlines
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The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:11:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This class clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Cartomancer gets d6, 4+Inst skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor (receiving arcane spell failure in all pieces of armor/when using shields s/he is not proficient with, but none with those s/he is proficient with), 1/2 BAB-progression and good will-saves. The class being card-based, its hand-size increases from 2 to 6 over the 20 levels, while the active deck composition (least/lesser/greater) starts at 4/1/0 and amps up to 23/10/5 at level 20 - but how does this cartomancy work?



First of all, you don't have to be afraid of this class requiring a specific deck of cards - as the class specifies, it's not what's ON that card, but rather the cartomancer's narrative that's associated with it that makes the magic work. The cartomancer's magic is called "portents" - these are surprisingly treated as divine magic (even though the cartomancer suffers from arcane spell failure chance in equipment s/he's not proficient with) and are spell-like abilities, completely with associated schools of magic and thus can be enhanced via items, feats, etc. Portents can be counterspelled by any spell of the same school as the associated school, an extremely important distinction to regular spell-like abilities, which cannot be counterspelled. Least portents count as 1st level spells, lesser as 2nd level and greater as 4th level spells for the purpose of concentration. Each portent has a somatic component and requires a Cha of at least 11, 12 and 14 to use the respective portents. Cartomancers instantly know all portents, much like clerics get access to their whole array of spells. Saves, if applicable, are higher than spells - 10 + 1/2 class level+cha-mod.



A cartomancer has a so-called active deck, which includes the cards s/he can use this day - and has to adhere to rules: No duplicate portents (though at 11th level, 2 least portents may be in the active deck at the same time. The deck must include 2+class level least portents, 1 lesser portent + 1 for every two levels beyond 1st and starting at 4th level, also one greater portent +1 for every 4 levels beyond 4th. To change the composition of the active deck, a cartomancer requires 8 hours rest + 1 hour study, but does not need to study to refresh the daily uses of her active deck - just 8 hours of sleep suffice. Since a cartomancer knows all cards, the cards not included in the active deck of the day are called "collection."

Playing a card (and AFTER THAT unleashing the portent) also may deviate from how spell-like abilities usually work - some portents can be played as swift or immediate actions and these do not provoke AoOS, while those that require a move action or a standard action do provoke AoOs. So yes, the playing of a card is one effect, the portent unleashed another - counterspelling the portent does not cancel the effect from playing the card. Cards that are played go into the discard pile - and whenever the cartomancer plays a card, all cards of a lesser type than the one played (i.e. lesser and least if you play a greater card, least if you play a lesser card) are shuffled back into the active deck, adding further strategy, especially since there are effects associated to discarding certain types of cards and discarding the cards to produce such an effect does NOT trigger the reshuffling. Now to play a card, a cartomancer must draw it from the active deck into the hand, which can be done once per round as a move action as long as you have not reached your maximum hand size. There would also be the terminology "Reveal", which flips up the face of the uppermost card of your active deck. More on that later.



Starting at 1st level, cartomancers may 3+cha-mod times per day tell a fortune, for good or ill, providing one of 20 random insight-bonuses, with 1, 13 and 20 reversing the effect. The insight bonuses last for class level X 10 minutes and the process takes 1 minute per fortune. Cartomancers also get a fatespinning pool at second level, amounting to 1/2 class level +wis-mod points. Whenever a cartomancer uses such a point, the cartomancer rolls on the aforementioned table. At 3rd level, the cartomancer can tell his/her own fortune, Starting at seventh level, +1 use of the ability allows the cartomancer to roll twice and make both effects come to pass, whereas at 9th level, +1 use can result in rerolls of all but 1, 13 and 20s (those can only be rerolled at 19th level) and at 17th level, telling fortunes can be rushed to only take a full-round action, but also shortens duration to 1 minute per level and requires the target's consent. These modifications do not require additional ability expenditures when applied to the cartomancer herself and at 13th level, the class gets an upgrade for the bonuses/penalties to +2/-2, respectively.



Points of fate can be used in various ways - as a standard action to look at the top 3 cards of the deck; as a swift action, to draw a car; play a lesser portent as a move action, but only when also playing a greater portent in the same round, or play a least portent as a move action, but only when playing a lesser or greater portent in the same round. Starting at 2nd level, cartomancers also get access to a seal, +1 every 4 levels thereafter. These talent-like abilities also have a fate points cost, often a minimum requirement, and require you to discard a card to kick off their effects. The more powerful the card, the better the effect. DCs, if applicable ,are 10 +1/2 class level + wis-mod. Each seal has a different activation action, with actions ranging from swift actions to full-round actions and a total of 12 seals are provided.



To give you an example what these can do: The "Seal of Pentacles", which costs 1 point of fate, actually makes crafting mundane items much more feasible - the duration lasts for 1 day and increases production speed by factor 2 for least, 4 for lesser and even 10 for greater portents discarded. The "Seal of Persistent Fate" is also interesting, allowing you to exchange a card on your hand with a portent of equal power from your discard pile at the cost of one point of fate. The "Seal of the Read Palm" on the other hand would be a chaotic debuff, allowing you for 1 point of fate and a standard action, to apply Tell Fortune-benefits (or penalties) for 1 minute per class level to a target within 30 feet, with. Granting retroactive skill-bonuses (1d3, +1d6, greater also to saves) to atk and skill-checks as an immediate action also makes for a very interesting ability. 10th+ level cartomancers may also spend 3 fate points to create a 1-minute persisting 1-charge wand that they can share with allies, with divine casters treating the granted portent (which is chosen from the discard pile) as being on their spell-list for UMD-purposes. While I would have preferred an explicit statement clarifying that activation of the wand follows the wand-rules and not the portent's, that is arguably a very minor nitpick and hence won't influence my final verdict.

As a capstone, the class can discard lesser portents for 1 fate point, greater portents for 5 fate points - okay, but not as cool as most Interjection Games-capstones. We also get FCOs for Aasimar, Drow, Hobgoblins, kobolds, Orcs, Tieflings and Puddlings as well as the standard races. It should be noted that the half-orc's benefit requires greater portents to work, but taking it prior to access to the card type will render it more powerful.



We also get a massive array of 26 feats for the cartomancer - these add further gambits to the cartomancer's arsenal. Remember the ability to place two copies of the same least portent in the same active deck? Well, if one of the two is in the discard pile and the other on your hand, 2 points of fate let you look through your deck for said second card and put it in your hand. Increased hand sizes, -2 least portents for +1 lesser portents (and analogue, for greater portents), shorter duration for penalties incurred by telling fortunes, increased bonuses/penalties for telling fortunes, better DCs for seals, using fate points to target additional creatures with portents that are eligible targets and within 10 feet of the first target. Interesting would be Morning Rush, which adds + 2 to max hand size when drawing a hand in the morning, but also increases drawing cards from a move action to a full-round action whenever your hand's empty. Interesting risk-reward scenario. Using seals to draw a least portent from the discard pile is also an option in here (including abuse-proof caveat). Also interesting would be "Fate by Association", which lets you spread all Tell Fortune outcome rolls applying to one target within 3o feet to all other creatures within 10 feet of the first target - will-save negates and shorter duration, but still - interesting. The improved version even takes the save away from adjacent targets and further expands the AoE - this feat in particular can be used for some VERY nasty combinations. My favorite feat, though, would be one granting you a Monty Deck - it's Kobyashi for your foes: Choose one of three cards (this deck can be used 1/day, does not go in the discard pile and has no interactions with your regular deck) - 1 is a lesser, 2 are least portents. If the lesser is drawn, it affects the target. If the least is drawn, both least portents are unleashed on the target.



Now if you don't have the print & play cards in the end of this document printed out, massive tables for use with playing cards are provided, with associated portents and power-levels all collated on one page. Prefer Tarot? 3 pages of card/portent-connections are provided for these decks as well - awesome! Better yet - the respective portents have their associated cards mentioned as well, making use at one glimpse rather easy.



Notice something? So far, the class does not look too impressive on paper. That changes right now. Quite a few of the portents have an a caveat that allows you to benefit from e.g. playing an additional, just drawn card when drawing a greater portent. The portents allow you to reflectively deal slashing damage to foes that damaged you or an ally, buff them...and generally, there are some pretty neat ones to choose from. Portents are grouped in 3 categories - least, lesser and greater. Take as example for least portents e.g. the guilt portent: When the subject attacks you, it takes force damage equal to the base weapon dice used. Or what about limiting the target's hands? Alas, not all can be considered well-balanced - take needles: These reduce movement rate by 5 ft. whenever the target moves and renders the subject HELPLESS if movement ever becomes 0. This is a dragon slayer, in spite of its ref-save. A less deadly condition would be appropriate here - perhaps an entangle-effect that also precludes movement? Now it should be mentioned that some of these have a synergy with greater portents - for example the "Spark"-portent, which has its class level x 1d4 damage upgraded to x d6 when cast in the same round as a greater portent. A better shield other, a fire aura, an auto-counterspell dependant on school, treating the next roll of a d20 as a natural 21 or as a natural 1. Multiple healing and hp-rearrangement options can be found herein as well.



Among the Greater Portents, adding damage on a target that has botched last round (sans save), adding a heal-effect to drawing cards, a glamer that duplicates full concealment (but still allows you to be targeted) - generally, these are cool. The Downfall-card does require a nerfing, though - a creature targeted takes max hp- current hp damage, max 6 X cartomancer level; While unable to kill targets, this one is a dragon-slayer. Worse, there is one that establishes a link that sees a creature die if the linked creature dies - the problem with this one is quite distinct, link kitten to enemy, kill kitten -> save or die save for dragon/emperor/whatever. This one needs some kind of HD-based connection or other limitation that prevents abuse in that regard. We also receive for example, energy-conversion, rerolls - quite a few unique tricks.



It should be noted that pages 29 -42 contain playing-card-like cards that contain all the cartomancer's unique tricks, allowing you to print them out at a handy convenience - these cards sport swords, shields and x's for easy overlook of what category they fall in. Their power-level is coded in colored borders, from least = green, to lesser = blue to greater = red.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly and the pdf comes with nice thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf comes bookmarked for your convenience, though not excessively so.



Bradley Crouch knows how to make complex, uncommon classes and this time around, he takes a look at the concept of a card-based class. I won't lie - I wasn't stoked to make this review. Regular Interjection Games-classes are already difficult to review and Dreadfox Games Gypsy-class back in the day took quite some time to properly analyze and so did this one - and its well and good that I took the appropriate time and tried this one out in game. The massive issue of different card-based classes would be the luck-factor of the draw and balancing this with being useful - lack of control + power makes for a rather hard design to pull off.



The cartomancer can offset a certain amount of bad draws, has unique mechanics and the limited, yet still existing level of control makes for a rather cool playing experience - in fact, a much better one than the class looks on paper. While some of the portents herein could use some minor nerfing, over all the cartomancer fared quite better than a first reading suggested - the overall performance of the class by far outclassed the gypsy and while a first reading made me gulp at some of the combos and options available, in play the class proved to be powerful, but not necessarily broken. Now it is not perfect or as streamlined as most Interjection Games-classes, the cartomancer still makes for a powerful, cool class. As for my final verdict - I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 since the class does not deserve a mediocre rating.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Cartomancer: A Deckbuilding Diviner
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow: Gossamer Heroes (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:09:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This LoGaS-supplement is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This pdf kicks off with a short introduction to the matter at hand - namely, the depiction of new player characters, readily generated at the suggestions of Kickstarter-patrons to serve as player characters. hence, by intention and to allow for a user-base as wide as possible, the characters herein have a limited breadth of powers, which should not be considered a detriment, though.



So, who do we get? First of them would be Cordelia - a kind of pirate-queen/gossamer lady studded with quite an array of different unique magical items - sword, armor, crown, etc., she is a lightning swashbuckling lady.



Grendel is a master of the umbra and believes to have potentially reincarnated into his current form, offering quite a few nice built-in roleplaying opportunities. Harrison is a totally different breed - a veteran of a war-torn world, his warwalker (a mech more than 10 ft. high) sports its very own personality to complement the monocle-wearing gentleman-pilot.



1st rank Psyche Jessamyn may be pictured as a progressive lady of a neo-victorian bent and true mistress of sorcery, bent on further improving her impressive powers -as a nice nod, she is directly tied in to the legendary Lucien.



Lowen would be something for fans of Shadowrun et al - born on a world of high techno-magical progress and teeming, never-ending sprawls, this powerful man sports a suit which renders him a superb assassin and combatant...and a crystal arm that acts as a prosthetic. Have I mentioned his mastery of eidolon?



Moreltheus is a master of umbra wholly unlike Jessamyn - devoted to eradicate all traces of his (or her? or its? It's supposed to be a guy, but then again...all that is written may be misinformation...) former existence, this entity is god-king to his (or her...or its...) personal Hollow World of dinosaurs, reigning there as a god-king.



Natasha would be a true warrior queen and mistress of wrighting, born and raised to rule and a background of privilege, she is indulging her curiosity. Reevard would, on the other hand, be 1st rank warfare and should be considered a light-hearted trickster - including shapechanging garments and a demonic servitor side-kick.



Taltos, 1st rank endurance, would be more grim - a veteran of wars against the ghoul-king of his home realm, he saw courage and ideals fail and, after destroying the legendary foe, has taken as a mercenary to the Grand Stair. Oh, and he is allied with the Dwimmerlaik empress.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, but not as good as in most LoGaS supplements - I noticed e.g. an instance of a verb missing and similar minor glitches. Nothing game-breaking, though. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the supplement sports one stunning full-color artwork for each and every character herein, many of which I haven't seen before - rather impressive. And, ladies - the female characters herein actually have PROPER armor. Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and also with a second more printer-friendly version.



Jason Durall provides a cool array of compelling heroes herein -interesting characters that have the basic stats ready and offer enough of a blank slate to develop in multiple directions. In fact, all of the heroes herein could be developed into villains or act simply as the emergency pregen if a PC does die and the player has no time (or inclination) to build a new one. That's perhaps the thing here - while character-death is uncommon in LoGaS (as opposed to more dice-happy RPGs), it can happen. And while LoGaS is very new-player friendly, requiring no mastery of x rule-books to get, this pdf does provide quite a benefit for new players - just hand them one character and teach them as they go - all is done, all convenient - neat pregens indeed! Add to that the built-in hooks and we get quite an interesting, diverse array. One can also see that the characters themselves are essentially commissioned, though - some just feel a tad more common and slightly less compelling to me than others - Grendel, Jessamyn and Lowen resonate with me just a tad bit more since their personalities shine a bit more through.



If you don't want your pregens to come with too much background, this pdf will be straight 5 stars for you. If you do prefer some more hooks and pieces of information regarding the character you'll be playing, if only to ignore (or inspire you), then you may stand before these stats wishing you'd have a tad bit more to develop. What is there can be ignored, but what isn't can't be rated. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow: Gossamer Heroes (Diceless)
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Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/26/2014 03:07:15
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



Star Run Falls, if the name was not ample clue, is a village primarily inhabited by an elven population. Constructed via magic thanks to the rather famous small academy of wizards, the place, while otherwise rather peaceful, also sports a certain fame beyond its borders and usual capacity.



However, it may very well be that the peace of the village is about to see an abrupt, unpleasant end - the so-called "Crimson Shadow King", whose hunt is heralded by the chirping of crickets, is gathering goblinoids in the woods, stealing elven babies...all for some nefarious purpose. (Alas, said purpose is explained and...well, is nothing to write home about, alas.)



Beyond the plot around human refugees, we also receive 3 statblocks - one for villagers, one a ftr3/wiz 3 and a half-gold-dragon unicorn (!!!) -rather cool. As is the implied duality of classes between refugees, the potential for racial tensions etc. - any Dm worth half his salt can make this village a compelling and cool place to visit and work in -especially if you add the potential for magical shenanigans the academy adds to the mix.



Conclusion:

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



John Bennett is a glorious author - he knows how to craft neat settlements, is well-read and has quite an array of tricks up his sleeve to inspire DMs using this village. Star Run Falls is more than one would assume from the cliché of the elven happy-idyllic-village and the monumental falls add an iconic landmark as well. However, the implied threat to the town...made me groan. I'm sorry, for the rest of the village is just breathing great ideas, but I can't get over the implied villain. The threat he poses feels contrived, the moniker somewhat cringe-worthy (also: Don't cite the Crimson King unless your king is just as epic...) and over all, this ONE component almost spoiled the whole village for me. I know, it is a nitpick, but even with more than a week between draft 1 and 2, I can't find it in me to ignore it and still cringe. Rest assured, though, that, from rods that produce dancing lights to the rest of the hooks and demographics (including two souls that share one body in the headmaster/mistress of the academy!), the village *is* worth a visit. I just wished the villain and his master plan had remained opaque or at least, been more imaginative. While these constitute only a fraction of the word-count, it is enough to make this slightly less awesome than what I'm used to by John Bennett. Hence, my final verdict will "only" clock in at a good 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Star Run Falls
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Kitsune Compendium
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2014 04:29:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Base Kitsune, as presented herein, receive +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str, are medium shapechanger humanoids, get +2 to acrobatics, may change shape into a specific human form, receive +1 to the DC of their saves versus enchantments, low-light vision, a bite attack that deals 1d4 (I assume usable as primary - since that's the default for bites, but still wished the Kitsune-entry in the ARG, from which this was taken, had specified that -I like my racial information in one place, if possible...) and Kitsune with a Cha of 11+ may cast dancing lights 3/day as a spell-like ability.



Got that? Well, this is, of course, not where everything ends here. Let me embark on a slight tangent, okay? One of the issues I tend to have with race-supplements would be their tendency to create some crunch, slap some fluff on it and then assuming an alignment-based psychology and culture. That's boring. That's just slapping new crunch on a blank humanoid frame. There is more to a race - its psychology ought to be complex, its abilities should influence the society and the morals of the creatures and their interaction with other races should also be taken into account - essentially, a well-crafted race ought to be a significant choice beyond min-maxing crunch and feel distinct. Well, this pdf helps those not familiar with Kitsune mythology by leaps and bounds - from general observations on psychology to 5 "facts" everyone knows about them and their behavior, which provide amusing tidbits and maxims to their biology, physiology - in a level of detail only seldom seen nowadays - taking even their digitgrade stance into account, though, of course, as just a cosmetic detail you may ignore.



Now the cool thing about aforementioned "facts" and other fluff, beyond helping craft a distinct racial identity, would definitely be that these guys receive quite an array of alternate racial traits that are based on these observations - from being able to always take 10 when disguising as human to limited fey sorcery and even a ki-pool (that does thankfully NOT stack with other ki-pools), the racial traits are generally rather awesome - one of the traits, though, strikes me as a tad bit too strong - nimble dasher nets the Kitsune +5 ft. movement (+10 ft. in true form) as well as the run-feat - exchanged only for the agile-trait of the base race. Compare that to another alternate racial trait that nets a +1 bonus to three skills and makes one a class skill and you'll notice somewhat of a discrepancy here - not a game-breaking one, mind you, but still one I felt obliged to mention.



Beyond these, we are also introduced to Kitsune culture -from birth to marriage and death, the book is surprisingly detailed here - including information on architecture, crafts, languages, names and even cuisine (!!!) as well as relationships with other races. Beyond that, this compendium takes a cue from the best racial supplements and provides an extensive origin myth - rather interesting here: The origin myth has representations in crunch as well, this time in the guise of 3 bardic masterpieces - one allows for the lessening of conditions (cool!), one creates wandering star motes and one provides a powerful calm emotions. Nice ones!



Of course, in such a comprehensive take on a race, racial religion (including anew deity and two associated subdomains) and its peculiarities can be found as well. If you'd prefer a somewhat variant take on the Kitsune, you might be interested in the 5 general variants - the default kitsune are Earthkin and beyond Voidkin, the three other classic elements are covered with at least one subtype-exclusive racial type - each subtype receives a short take on the peculiarities of the clan they belong to. Now, the following is a nitpick, I know. It won't influence the final verdict. But why not use the eastern elements instead of the western ones? Feels more logical to me, but oh well - personal preference, I guess. FCOs for many classes, including ACG-classes, can also be found herein.



Now polytailed kitsune have been popular in fiction and the misconceptions regarding them are addressed herein as well - including nice suggestions that a DM may govern to determine possible reasons for why a kitsune has more than one tail -from being mythic to blessing, bloodlines and ki - the options are interesting. Jiuweihu exchanges the shaman's spirit animal with a star jewel and receives magical tails over the course of the class progression. The Kyuubi Visionary monk replace stunning fist with selective spell-like abilities and even combine these with flurry of blows, casting one spell in lieu of his/her highest BAB attack Messing with flurry of blows is a complex endeavor, but Alexander Augunas pulled it off this time - kudos! The Nine-tailed Mystic for the oracle has a nice synergy between magical tails and spellcasting.



Non-nine-tailed kitsune also receive new archetypes - fighters may opt to wilder in the swashbuckler's toolbox, while a new ninja archetype can use ki to enhance her shapechanging - learning to assume new forms and even beasts and plants: nice infiltrator! The swashbuckler may opt for the ronin archetype, combining unique deeds with order abilities. Rogues may wilder in kitsune-exclusive tricks (great and thematically fitting!) and make one-handed weapons eligible for finesse via new talents. Skulking Hunters receive extended spell-lists to choose spells from (taking spells that show up on multiple lists into account) - nice. Additionally, studied targets of the slayers replace animal focus. Inquisitors can choose to become communal guardians. These guys establish a link with certain individuals and tie this connection with judgments, teamwork, movement etc. - somewhat akin to how Tacticians can establish networks - rather cool! Two new hexes allow for a jewel-shaped familiar, allowing the familiar/intelligent item to be magically enhanced while in gem-form and better shapechanging with access to skulls makes for a cool blending of hex and racial ability. Now rather interesting would be the decision to provide not one, but two kitsune bloodlines - one for the bloodrager and one for the sorceror - rather than trying to jam one bloodline in and make it fit for both, this way we receive better tools for both classes. The bloodrager transforms into a foxlike quadruped upon raging and learns to cast even while in bloodrage, receiving some truly deadly bite-tricks as well - nice! The bloodline for sorcerors has a completely different focus, centering more on illusions, shapechanging and similar mischief - neat as well!. Wildblooded sorcerors may also elect to choose the nine-tailed bloodline to receive access to a ki-pool and several ki-powered tricks, while the oni-based nogitsune bloodline is not hampered by the dark and has particularly potent compulsions.



Now next would be magic - which includes takes of Kitsune, in-character, on the respective schools. Nice! A total of 3 new spells are provided, one granting the target an animal head, one balefully transforming targets into foxes (with the potential to retain or lose their special tricks) and one version that shifts creature's heads to those of animals AND potentially reduces their int to animal levels as well - amusing and potentially disturbing, if done right!



Of course, a book like this also sports new feats - here, we receive equipment tricks for kitsune star gem and the new concealment-granting fox-style focused on feints and its follow-ups are rather well made - thankfully taking the stealth-hiding caveat into account. Kudos! Feinting versus foes set to counterspell your magic is also an interesting option - but what I personally like more, would be something completely different: Remedial shapechanging - difficult, non-overpowered healing for shapechangers as an optional rule, limited daily to prevent abuse and expandable via new feats - thematically fitting, logical and concise - two thumbs up!



The final page of this pdf is devoted to an array of cool traits and a fitting drawback for kitsune, involuntary shapechange - all rather iconic and well-balanced!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard that sports several stunning, original full color pieces of art by Jacob Blackmon. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Now there is a minor downside - the pdf, due to its layers, loads rather slowly - if you're using this on an electronic device, that may be annoying. I happen to know, though, that Alexander Augunas is trying to fix this as per the writing of this review and if you're like me and print books out, no issue.



Alexander Augunas *loves* Kitsune and it shows - I am of the firm conviction that passion for a product always shines through in the end and this is no exception - from the level of detail and attention devoted to cultural and psychological peculiarities to the tie-in of said pieces of information with appropriate crunch, this book reflects well the enthusiasm of Mr. Augunas. Now, the downside of quite a few such projects tend to be that they overshoots the target, resulting in somewhat Mary Sue-ish options that fail to properly balance coolness with the general rules - to say I was skeptical would be an understatement.



And here, on can see the author's experience - the amount of important, but easily missed rules (concealment-stealth, to name one example!) this pdf catches in its options is indeed laudable and shows the experience of an accomplished designer. The crunch, though, is honestly not what I'd consider the crowning achievement of the pdf - this honor belongs in my book to the fluff and the fact that it's so ingeniously tied to the crunch. Indeed, this book makes kitsune feel like a proper race - distinct, unique, fun - this is essentially an ecology for the race PLUS crunch tool box. And then there would be the icing on the cake on a meta-level - there is a paradigm regarding racial archetypes and class options in general - if something can be achieved by any race and does not build on a race's unique options, it probably should not be a racial option. Good racially-specific crunch builds on existing abilities and this pdf does just that for not only a content-wise great book, but also one that pleases me on the level of rules-aesthetics.



All right, so how to rate this? Its fluff is glorious, the crunch is nice, it oozes passion, has at best the most minor of issues...and it is a fun read. My final verdict will clock in at unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval, now can someone please give all those identity-less, fluff-wise boring and underdeveloped ARG-races a similar treatment? Please?

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kitsune Compendium
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Witch Options (PFRPG)
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/25/2014 04:25:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 2.5 pages editorial/SRD, leaving us with 6.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, if you're like me and remember the beginning of 3pp Pathfinder, you'll remember the witch-class by 4WFG, long before the APG. This pdf essentially codifies the 4WFG-witch and makes her tools available for the APG-witch. Got that? All right!



We kick off with 5 hexes - the first, battle rite, temporarily enhances a witch's dex and con by +4. On its own, not bad; The level 3-minimum caveat prevents dipping-abuse and the daily limit works as well in the favor of this hex. Still, it does have me disconcerted somewhat, especially since the bonus increases to +8 at 10th level. I'm quite sure I can find a way to break this, though one has to exert some trickery to do so - hence, I'll let it rest.



The ability to use a hex to duplicate spell-like abilities via a broom and turn that broom into a broom of flying at higher levels is neat indeed. Creating zombies (that crumble to dust after 24 hours), making protective circles and a pearl of power style spell recall via her grimoire also make for compelling hex options. Via advanced hexes, a witch can use sympathetic magic via blood to impose massive penalties on targets, ask for the guidance of ancestors etc. The option to gain a smite via a hex feels a bit too much, though - while witches are not a particularly melee-centric class, to say the least, smite has traditionally been a very powerful option. The scrying options fit better thematically.



A total of 4 grand hexes are also part of the deal - a superb heal, a long-lasting shield-style buff (including attribute bonus), DR and immunity to mind-affecting effects or alternatively, a true telepathy/sight-based one make for compelling capstones.



We also receive 6 Patron themes - Black Magic, Demons, Protection, Summoning, Sun and Weather - the spell-selection here is solid, but nothing to write home about - thematically okay, but nothing that wowed me.



A total of 10 new feats are provided herein as well - they range from increased DC for elemental spells to a second patron (and a choice which spell to get), to an AoE-healing hex to a better warding option. Furthermore, circle hexes with the right feat can now inflict half damage on the attacker with the right feat and another one nets you low-light vision or maximizes healing potion efficiency. Faster hexes would also be an option. The feats per se are high concept and generally, on their own, not bad, if powerful options. Alas, unfortunately the respective rules do not exist in a vacuum - from more patrons to faster hexes, the options herein strike me as too strong. Not on their own or when used as intended, but the problem of such feats being available for all witch-builds makes them potential issue-sources. Faster hexes, for example, just beg to be abused, as does the one that rebounds half damage is a true caster/dragon-slayer and needs further nerfing.



A total of 10 spells are also part of the deal - one allows for a gaze-based fright-effect - sans properly using the gaze attack wording/mechanic., one nets you armor + intimidate bonus; There are 6 hag-summoning spells and another allows you to deal damage to foes via witchfire and penalize them. Finally, a level 9 spell allows for a ceremony to sacrifice a target for a paltry array of temporary hit points, somewhat wonky mechanics (why not go coup-de-grace?) and a minor buff, which lasts for a month - still, imho too weak for 9th level and the long, complicated casting.



4 pieces of mundane equipment, from athame to boline are also part of the deal alongside the new CR+1 hagborn template and a sample CR 7 hagborn salamander.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Robert W. Thomson is a capable designer and it shows herein - his original witch was a nice class and this one opens some of her cool signature tricks for the Paizo-witch-class, which is nice indeed! However, as a certain guy from Gilead would have said, "The world has turned..." - the components per se are not broken; What is problematic, though, would be that the power-boost they net the witch-class with combinations of published material is simply not required. The witch is one of the most powerful classes in Pathfinder and the option to swift/free action cast hexes needs to die. In fact, quite a few of the options herein show that they were not necessarily intended for the power-curve of the witch-class as it exists - they range from solid to "too good," feeling partially as if they had been made for a player who did not know how to make this class powerful as all hell.

While the hexes generally are solid, especially the feats provided herein simply do too much for too small a cost -which is a pity, for their expansion of hex-based tricks is something I indeed do enjoy. The other supplemental material is solid, I guess...and, one caveat: Yes, I've complained about balance in this review for the content herein can be rather overpowered for your campaign. The reasoning goes both ways, though - the pieces of crunch herein *can* work just as intended and wording per se is rather rock-solid. As long as you take heed and care with the content herein, you'll find some gems. Since I have a policy of in dubio pro reo, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Witch Options (PFRPG)
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The Key to Marina
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2014 05:49:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest module by 4 Dollar Dungeons clocks in at 79 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 75 pages of content, so let's check this out!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. No. Seriously. You don't want to spoil this one.

...

..

.

Okay, only DMs left? Great!

Now DMs may wish to know the following - like all 4$D-modules, this one does provide some guidance beyond the usual synopsis in modifying the hook for the DM to fix issues with encounters that might come up, rendering this module easier to prepare than most comparable resources. This level of foresight by the way also extends to the copious maps provided for the module - DM and player maps are NOT identical in every case - two thumbs up. Scaling advice, handy lists of encounters, treasures etc. - all provided, rendering the running of this module as easy as one can possibly make it.



Now let's dive into the plot, shall we? We begin this module in the coastal city of Morphoton - or any other coastal city. Here, a note on adaption should be made - the module delivers a handy list of criteria a city has to fulfill for the module to run smoothly and this advice, once again, renders running this module easier - 50+ years, predominantly stone buildings, districts for different classes, a strong mercantile presence and a council among the governing bodies are rather easy to fulfill.



So, how does this scenario begin? Well, it (probably) is autumn, when, by some relation or friend, the PCs are bequeathed a picture depicting the Gardens of Marina, a local park in a less than popular neighborhood, with a cryptic hint that there is some mystery to be found there. Depending on your players, their innate curiosity may even suffice - for mine it did! Checking out the park the PCs encounter a scene of neglect and decay - the gorgeous statue in the middle of the park has been vandalized and several of the decorative statues from the park are missing. However, between nostalgic old people and the occasional loner frequenting this abandoned, dilapidated park, they may also notice a ring of odd, symbols around the fountain and a discrepancy in the composure of the statues. There is obviously a mystery afoot and the missing statues are obviously tied to the task. Hence, the PCs will have to hunt down the park's former statues - wherever they might be.



Thankfully, at least one man can help the PCs, the by now over 90-year old senile gardener Arbitan, who may very well be the park's only frequent visitor - it is via the interaction with this man (a nice way to once again enforce a theme of decay and finality and the fleeting nature of life, btw.), the PCs can glean the first hints - and much like in a good mystery/adventure-movie, the detective work begins - from the unpleasantness of essentially forced labor weaving to the bureaucracy of the council, dealing with greedy art dealers and snobbish custodians, the trails lead towards a crab-merchant, a bell-tower, a crypta and even a maze - and we haven't even started the deadly part yet! Still, the individual encounters collectively manage to set a tone that starts resonating as one plays, slowly developing the mood in an excellent example of indirect storytelling.



Now from the plinths of these statues and their signs, provided as hand-outs for the PCs, btw. - after all, visual puzzles sans visual aids are hard and a total of 9 jpgs make visualizing the puzzle exceedingly easy. Have I mentioned that all combat-relevant aforementioned locations sport player-friendly maps?

So finally, the secret is unearthed, the access route opens to perhaps one of the best examples of secret dungeons I've seen in ages - and we enter the dungeon below - which is highly uncommon. Why? Well, first of all, the place is essentially an example for a vertical, rather than a horizontal dungeon, with cross-section maps being provided as well (and secret rooms not included necessarily in the default map. Secondly, the module's dungeon sports massive tanks that can be modified and accessed via special keys - and which require some thinking. Essentially, this whole level can be considered one gigantic logic puzzle - not every room, not every creature is relevant, but the system per se is concise and well-wrought...and it makes one thing pretty clear - If your PCs are dumb, they can die horribly here: Diving into a mix of water over-saturated with oxygen? In case you've never played Metal Gear Solid 2, let me enlighten you: No, you can't swim in it, yes, it's a bad idea to try. The same can be said about diving headfirst into a tank as a level 1 character that contains a massive giant zombie shark - of course, you can just empty the tank and then kill it at range, though it will take some arrows to put down...



Smart tactics and smart playing will be required to properly navigate this part of the dungeon indeed - but the challenge does not end there - in order to proceed further, at one point the PCs quite possibly will have to deal with a rather lethal demonic adversary...only to stumble upon an evil seamstress (who do you think makes all those cultist's robes?) and a massive chapter of Asmodeans. Thankfully, if the PCs are not dumb, they'll be disguised in Asmodean robes. Walking the floors of this place should send torrents of sweat down the PC's backs - multiple high level clerics, high-level outsiders - the PCs are well in over their heads and with imps buzzing to and fro, unmasking is suicide. Thankfully, the cult has not taken one thing into account -the reservoir. They have not been visited for ages. No one bothers them. Why guard the ingress? And who would have thunk that a certain tank now is filled to the brim with 1.5 tons of water? Some crowbars, a little bit of force and a massive, crushing tsunami-like floods can be used to annihilate the opposition that is so far above them, they will just be cheering. At least my players were. Thankfully, the water drains and with the missing head of Marina's statue, the park can be restored to its former glory, the PCs rewarded and blessed and the module brought to a satisfying conclusion.



As always with 4$D-modules, we receive handouts of the artworks for your PCs, properly detailed maps, stats for all creatures, hazards, spells and yes, even creature qualities as well, rendering this literally the only book you need to run this module.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column full color standard sans backgrounds and the pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience. As an additional benefit for people like yours truly, we receive two pdfs - one in A4-format and one in US-format, making the printing of this module easier and better looking for Europeans like yours truly. Cartography is provided in full color, of just about every combat-related environment, with player-friendly maps and even cross-sections galore. It should also be noted that, as always, each encounter features the respective DCs for skill-checks and results in a handy mini-table.



No 4$D-module is like the other - but ever since "Horn of Geryon", all three have been superb in their own, distinct ways. They all sport a subdued, mature humor that makes reading them a joy and provide a level of detail and logical cohesiveness seldom seen in any other publication. Instead of resting on his laurels, after "Journey to Cathreay" became one of my favorite wilderness modules of all time, author Richard Develyn instead opted for something different - and made a module that is equal parts investigation and essentially the exploration of a vast, magical and logical dungeon. Suffused with a sense of decrepitude, the module's theme is enhanced by just about every step building atmosphere along the way - and this is good. Why? Because this module requires respect to beat. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this module is difficult - in an uncommon, very rewarding way - from the beginning to the end, this whole module is all about BRAINS over brawn. If this were a GoT-character, it would probably be Tyrion Lannister.



What do I mean by that? Organically, the dungeon and its challenges prepare the PCs (and players!) mindset-wise towards a most uncommon finale that would not work with another mindset. It's essentially like the glorious classic "Tomb of Abysthor" and the author does not kid when the CR-rating for a particular room is denoted as "infinite" - at their level, the PCs have simply no chance to prevail other than being smart -something that would come out of left field in any other module and result in unfair TPKs here works as the logical conclusion of the things that have come before.



All right, I'll come out and say it - this is the brainiest module I've had the pleasure to run in quite a while - and I mean that as a compliment. Mind you, there are enough combats in here and a skeleton whose skull is inhabited by an undead octopus and similar weird creatures make for fantastic changes of pace throughout the module and the fights before furthermore enhance the emphasis on tactics, strategy and using your brain.



This module can be deemed a love-letter to all the glorious modules that could not be solved by rolling a 20 every time, an homage to the brainier of mystery/adventure movies and is just plain fun to run. That being said, DMs should carefully read (and understand) the full module before running it - its modular nature and complex dungeon are not something you can pull off on the fly. if your players and you are bored by roll-playing, if you want concise and logical puzzles that do not require trial and error to solve, then this will be a true blessing for you. The Key to Marina is a glorious module that once again shows what was once considered to be the best of old-school adventure-writing and puts it into a new, polished form. At this point, I am using 4 Dollar Dungeon-modules as a type of balm for my reviewer's soul - after reading flawed math, the oompteenth supplement dealing with xyz, after being frustrated by a logical glitch or railroading - this is when I open one of these modules, read them, run them...and all is well. And no, that was no exaggeration. Add to that the exceedingly low price-point and I guarantee that you won't find something similar around.



I am aware that I must be sounding like a fanboy at this point and honestly, I kind of am - but deservedly so. The level of quality provided is staggering for this price-point and the amount of superlatives I can heap on this module are rather impressive as well - but you've heard those before, I wager. Hence, let me just reiterate that this is a module for the advanced player, for the thinkers, a module steeped in glorious detail, one that could be easily transplanted into e.g. Ravenloft or any other setting. It is also yet another flavor of awesomeness from the penmanship of Richard Develyn and the fourth (!!!) module in a row I consider a candidate for my Top Ten of the given release-year.

Yeah. this level of mastery is getting creepy. still, once more, let me spell it out - final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval, candidate for the Top Ten of 2014. Go buy this now - it's cheaper than a pack of cigarettes or a proper meal, even in a fast food chain, and it will stay with you for much, much longer.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Key to Marina
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Psionic Bestiary
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/22/2014 05:42:59
An ENdzeitgeist.com review

This massive bestiary clocks in at 105 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a massive 100 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First of all - this is a massive bestiary and as such, I can't go into the details of every creature herein without bloating it beyond belief. Additionally, I have reviewed the ongoing subscription (with the exception of ~2-3 installments, I think), so if in doubt, there are some reviews in the ether that are more detailed regarding the respective creatures. Finally, if you're like me and have accompanied the evolution of PFRPG's psionics, then you'll notice that Ultimate Psionics no longer featured monsters - well, that's why this book exists - handy player/DM separation by book - nice.



We begin this book with some explanations on how psionic creatures work, what to look out for etc., before 2 new feats that are used in this book are depicted - the aberration-only feat that nets you acidic blood, plus one 6-rank-prerequisite feat that allows the creature with it to avoid detection by e.g. blindsight etc. - while I get the intent behind the feat and applaud it, I do think that different abilities should add different bonuses to the perception-check for fairness's sake - after all, quite a feat creatures are very much dependant on blindsight and more often than not fail to invest ranks in perception. Now rest assured that this is a VERY minor nitpick and will not influence the verdict, but I'd urge DMs allowing this feat to take a look at eligible creatures and potentially reassign skill-ranks.



All right, got that? Neato, then let's dive head first into the array of psionic creatures presented herein - and, as per the tradition, we begin with the iconic astral constructs and all the table to customize them...but I assume you're familiar with these guys. Much cooler would be the psionic inevitables, the automata - crystalline machinery, deadly tricks, a regeneration only foiled by sonic damage...these guys are nasty and the direct foes of aberrations and similar creatures!



Classics like the crysmal, caller in darkness, folugub, psion-killer or cerebrelith can be found in these pages as well, though more often than not, I have to admit to by now simply having a higher standard for monsters - when compared to quite a few critters herein, the "classics" feel a bit conventional at times.



Now if you've followed my reviews, Hellfire aura-bearing devils, cerebremorte undead, beetles with a truly disturbing life cycle and brain parasite worms may sound familiar - and if you haven't encountered them, the phrenic hegemony, heirs to the illithids, may very well be the more disturbing (and complex) type of creature - they were awesome in the WiP-pdf and by now have more artworks - and these are simply awesome. Speaking of awesome - when I complained about the polearm masters of the Pyn-Gok race not getting any cool signature tricks via their plummage, I was heard - they now have quite a bunch of cool additional tricks! The T'artys have alas, not received a similar treatment - they still are ye' old mischief-causing fey, only with psionics. *shrugs* Their artwork ahs been upgraded, though!



A nod to Forgotten Realms' Saurians can be found in this pdf alongside some delightfully demented plant creatures -from the classic udoroot that now has some actually unique tricks to strange, mouth-studded trees, many of the artworks perfectly drive home the utter weirdness and partially alien flavor of psionics - take the humanoid plants with EYES, the Iniro. One look at their nightmareish artwork and you'll know you want to use these fellows! The Mindseed Tree is no less disturbing to me and just a fun adversary as well!



Dreamborn, colossal magical beasts adrift in the ether, the last members of a dying race, a strange array of mutated creatures that have been driven insane by a cataclysm, only to endure...how? Upon death of one , another member of their race hideously splits in two... The crystalline shackle using Dedrakons and similar hunters make for iconic magical beasts as hunters that work well in a context of a given world requiring appropriate predators.



And speaking of predators - beyond the awesomeness that is the phrenic hegemony, we also receive examples of psionic apex predators - psionic dragons. A total of 5 dragon types are provided - all of which radically different from the gem-dragon tradition: We receive the Cypher, Imagos, Keris, Lorican and Scourge dragons. Cypher dragons are travelers of the planes and do have some rather cool, unique abilities - they can disrupt patterns just like the Cryptic-class and indeed, their age-category abilities gained fall in line with this concept and remain their uniqueness.



Imago dragons do not cause fear, instead using confusion and are the wilders among dragonkind, coupling wilder-style tricks with a theme of oneiromancy etc. - cool! Now if you're like me, at one point, the color-coding of dragons annoyed you - while templates etc. by now allow for ways past that, simply introducing the energy-type changing Kerris dragons and their tricks might do the trick as well. Two thumbs up! Speaking of which - the Lorican dragon's tricks are imaginative as well - these guys can wrap essentially a pocket astral plane around themselves and exert control over this area, modifying magic affinity, gravity etc. - innovative and just incredibly cool!



Finally, the Scourge Dragons would be the dread-equivalent to the cypher dragon's cryptic-affinity -masters of fear with an affinity for the plane of shadows, they should be considered rather awesome as well. But this would not be all - beyond these trueborn dragons, there also are Ksarite dragons and drakes, partially composed of psionic force -compared to the true born dragons, though, these guys feel less impressive.



In case you're looking for templates to apply to creatures, we also receive fodder in that regard beyond aforementioned brain worm hosts - take the Marked One (CR +3) template - studded with psionic tattoos they can spread, these guys are obsessed with order and there might very well be a global agenda behind the phenomenon... narrative gold hiding here. Speaking of which - by now, you can create your own deranged trepanner-constructs -cool to see the missing crafting information showing up herein. I just wished the psychotrope drugs of a shambler variant had received similar treatment.

A massive appendix of creatures by type, by CR and by terrain makes this bestiary easy to handle for the DM - kudos!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch: At this point a shout-out to Anguish on the Paizo boards who did a massive bunch of editing for this book, checking statblocks for even the most minute of errors. My hat's off to you, sir (or madam)! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full color standard. The artworks provided for the creatures herein are universally full-color and belong to the more gorgeous, unique of artworks you'll see. While not adhering to a uniform style, the artworks are great and the less than awesome ones from the WiP have been exchanged with higher quality pieces - neat! It should also be noted that the pdf of this book comes with an additional, more printer-friendly version - nice! I can't comment on the print-version since I do not have it.



The team of designers Jeremy Smith, Andreas Rönnqvist, Michael McCarthy, Dale McCoy Jr., Michael Pixton, Jim Hunnicutt, Jade Ripley and Dean Siemsen have done a great job - the psionic bestiary offers quite an array of damn cool psionic creatures, studded with unique signature abilities, using the rules to their full extent, often significantly improving the less than superb examples among the WiP-files. Indeed, the majority of the creatures herein have something significantly cool going for them. Now if there is something to said against the pdf, it would be that there is no template to turn non-psionic creatures into psionic creatures and wilder in the class rules of the respective psionic classes. This is especially baffling to me due to the cover offering an aboleth, of which there is a distinct lack of in the book - why not provide some psionic versions of these iconic foes?



This would constitute the only thing truly missing from this book - a way to codify psionics in a massive choose-your-tricks template - other than that oversight, this book is a glorious bestiary, especially if you're looking for far-out creatures...and for fans of psionics, there's no way past this, anyways. My final verdict will hence clock in at a high recommendation of 5 stars, just shy by a tiny margin of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Psionic Bestiary
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Underworld Races: Gitwerc
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2014 02:39:58
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As with the other installments of the Underworld races-series, this one kicks off with a massive mythology of the subterranean races, a collective origin history that can be potentially transplanted from Aventyr into other settings, should one choose to do so. From there on, the gitwerc are described - amidst the numerous dwarven races forged from the ancestry of the dvergr, the gitwerc could be called those most out of line with conventional dwarvenkind in other campaign settings - not even the mad derro feel like fitting analogues, mainly due to a completely different focus. What d I mean by that?



Well, they went into the earth's molten depths and erected an empire, but Aventyr isn't like other worlds - in the bowels of the earth, the devils are bound and the gitwerc have entered infernal pacts with the forces of HEL, rising to become emperors among emperors, realizing the coming of the Dracoprime before its impact was felt - the gitwerc are feared and notorious indeed - and their history is far more expansive and interesting than that of their other dwarven brethren, adding more to the overall race's mythology. With distinct, disturbing eye and flesh-colors, a penchant for body modifications and unique racial traits, they also stand out in that department:



Gitwerc receive +2 Con, Cha and Int, -4 Dex and Wis, are slow and steady, receive 60 ft darkvision, are native outsiders that still need to eat, breathe etc., receive cold, electricity and fire resistance 5, +1 natural armor, always treat diplomacy and sense motive as class skills and sorcerors of the abyssal/infernal bloodlines treat their caster level as +1 for the purpose of bonus spells or bloodline powers. Additionally, they can see perfectly even in magical darkness and suffer from light blindness...oh, and they receive an alter self-like effect to pass as a dweorg as a supernatural ability. Yeah. And know what - while stronger than the core races, they are in line with aasimar and tieflings, so exactly 0 complaints on my end!



Speaking of 0 complaints - this extends to the copious favored class options the Gitwerc receive. A total of 6 racial feats allow Gitwerc to add oomph to their infernal flair - whether it's being a devilishly sly negotiator, receiving a kind of natural armor spikes that damage those foolish enough to grapple you (upgradeable to a nasty carapace), making consumed alcohol flame-breathe or assuming the look of creatures whose skin you've worn...wait. What? Yes, Gitwerc enjoy wearing flayed skins, which are one of the new items. The other being the dread HEL bottles (think deadlier alchemist's fie that is essentially a micro-lava-splash-weapon...and blood candles, which can be made via a new spell (and easier made via a feat) - these allow the victim's souls to be ripped from their bodies and subsequently being siphoned to HEL. Even before the HEL contracts, this makes the Gitwerc capital "N"-level nasty. The other two new spells beyond the fashioning of blood candles allow you to counter grapplers as a swift action with impaling horns or conjuring forth spectral, flaying blades- ouch!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, though a couple of bolding and similar minor glitches can be found herein. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full-color standard with rocky borders and awesome graphic elements, making this a beautiful, if not very printer-friendly pdf. The plentiful original pieces of full color artwork throughout the pdf are nice. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.





Julian Neale and Mike Myler's Gitwerc are awesome - hardcore lawful kings of the Underworld, they resound with myths of the more nasty of dwarvenkind like Alberich, combining this with cool infernal tyrant and tieflingdom tropes, crafting a small window into a race's culture that is greater than the sum of its parts and which still has its own identity - more fluff, concisely presented, unique items and a thoroughly disturbing array of items and we have a race that is distinct, appealing, and won't be confused for anything else - unless the Gitwerc want to. This is by far the best of AAW Games' dwarven races, with no issues to speak of and storytelling potential galore. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Gitwerc
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The Barbarian Reforged (PFRPG)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/21/2014 02:35:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of TPK Games' redesigns of base classes clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, so let's dive into these guys - the reforged barbarian receives much the same stuff you know from the base class - but with some modifications. First of which would be the addition of survival and stealth to his class skill list, which makes sense to me - lore is rife with suspicious barbarians that prowl the less civilized lands. In an uncommon twist, ref-saves have been upgraded to a medium progression - while not standard for class design, that is not a paradigm I'd consider sacrosanct - so yes, interesting.



Now in a rather interesting take, TPK Games have eliminated the movement bonus the standard barbarian receives in favor of a bonus to movement when charging, including a further increase in str-mod by half when charging for devastating charges. While this makes low level charge-builds exceedingly lethal, per se not something I'd consider broken. It should also be noted that reforged barbarians receive mobility at 5th level. In an interesting take, rage now has a fortitude save to prevent the temporary fatigue at the end of the rage - per se another choice that may add a small bonus, but not one I'd consider problematic.



As a variant to rage, whirling frenzy is provided - this nets the barbarian +4 to str (untyped, should be morale analogue to rage), +2 dodge bonus to AC and ref-saves and essentially allows him to flurry - +1 optional attack in full attacks, but at -2 to all attacks, INCLUDING AoOs the bonuses sclae to +6/+3 and +8/+4. Additionally, the barbarian does not receive indomitable will, but does receive evasion while in a whirling frenzy. This variant provoked a knee-jerk "OMG, OP"-reaction from me that was only partially justified. While the flurry is extremely strong for a full BAB-class and the bonus-type glitch sucks,, the lack of con-bonus means that these barbarians are more fragile. In the end, testing did show that due to proficiencies etc., this does not break the game, though it is a pretty strong option that is not for every game. Still, apart from the bonus hick-up, not something I'd condemn.



Trap Sense is modified into danger sense, granting a bonus to perception as well as the minor bonus to ref-saves and AC versus traps. Damage reduction is moved down from 7th to 5th level, +1 every 4 levels thereafter (not an issue since DR is probably the most overrated rules-component in PFRPG) and instead, at 7th level, the reforged barbarian receives Diehard hard-coded into his frame-work. The higher levels remain untouched, ability-wise.



We also receive a host of FCOs, -which are pretty cool - reduction of AC-penalties for drow, more claw/bite damage for catfolk, better mobility AC-bonus in dim light for fetchlings -the FCOs tie into both race and class and make sense and rank among the best examples for them. The one for (half-) orcs deserves special mentioning - +1 round rage per level feels very strong to me. I would have gone at least +1/2. Thene again...half-orcs are one of the notoriously weaker races, hence the ability to excel at arguably their iconic class may be in the realm of what one might consider valid.



A new archetype is also included, the cannibal. Instead of charging strike, these guys receive a secondary bite attack. Additionally, they may eat the heart (or what passes for it) of a fallen foe slain in the past minute to regain hp or rage rounds equal to their HD - before you pull out the kitten-bag: Yes, they can eat kittens since the mechanic is tied to their own HD, not the one of the enemy, but a daily limit prevents the ability from being broken. It's not as elegant as it could be, but it works.Imbibe Spirit uses a similar mechanic, but the actual bonus it grants has been lost to a formatting glitch - I have no idea what the ability does. Consume Vigor grants fast healing equal to the creature's HD, but fails to specify how long it lasts - two unfortunately massive glitches that render a cool archetype unusable as written.



A total of 33 new feats are provided - they range from damn cool to broken as hell: Take Butcher's Blade - whenever you hit a foe with power attack, you receive a swift action, AoE-intimidate check to all who see you within 30 ft. Usually, AoE-demoralization is a class feature, not something that can relatively cheaply be bought as a feat. Brotehrs of Steelwould be another example - while awesome, it simply is too strong - choose one ally at the begin of any combat - as long as one of you isn't flat-footed or flanked, neither is the other - this is much more powerful than many a teamwork-feat option and probably should be remade as one - as soona s two characters require this feat, it would make more sense/feel more balanced. The Camel Punch-feat that increases the damage dice of unarmed strikes by +1 should also be kept out of the hands of monks - A default strategy to improve damage output for these guys is size-increase and stacking +1 size on that via a feat is just nasty. Especially since another feat allows you to be treated +1 size when charging - do you see the stacking insanity...yeah...not gonna happen anywhere near my game.



Interesting, though quite some work to track, would be "Deep Wounds" - the bonus damage from power attack has its recovery rate reduced to only 1 of these hp per day - while not feasible for every campaign, especially low magic campaigns will enjoy this one. Eyes of teh Jaguar would be weird - the feat nets you low-light vision 30 ft. Problem being - low-light vision has no range. You either have it, or you don't. Darkvision has a range, though...so which is it?



Improved Diehard is a rather weak feat that could use a power-upgrade - not dying until you reach negative con + 1/2 level isn't that impressive; Here, for once, I would have went full level. Improved Mobility is BROKEN - it eliminates AoOs from threatened squares. Flat-out. One caveat - if you lose dex-bonus, are slowed, staggered etc., you also lose the benefit. Still, this is weird - it invalidates mobility and its increased emphasis in the reforged barbarian - this feat needs to die a fiery death. I do like the feats that allow for a bonus to str and con-checks, since both usually receive no love whatsoever. A cohort-less variant of leadership with twice the number of followers, based on str, should be interesting for humanoid warlords and str-based weapon-hurling is also okay. I also like the counter-power attack-feat that negates the bonus granted by power attack, unlike the foes combined BAB+str-mod is 4 higher than yours - interesting mechanic to counter one of the most used feats. Savage Strike allows you to trade in AC for damage-boost, which si also an interesting option. Unquenchable Flame is another feat, which, while high in concept, needs nerfing - once you run out of rage, you may continue raging, but are shaken and receive 3 points of non-lethal damage per round. Infinite rage at level 5. When rage-rounds are quite often used as the resource for rage powers, feats etc. - so, does the barbarian still count as having rounds of rage left, or is only the rage maintained? If only the latter is the case -all right.



The pdf also provides a total of 15 new rage powers: +2 damage versus foes below 50% max HP smells of 4th edition's bloodied condition to me and requires tracking, so not a fan of that one. On the other hand, Favor of the Forebearers is awesome - as a swift action, you may expend one round of rage to invoke the forefathers and add the ghost touch property to your weapon for one round. Using rage to temporarily boost ref-, will- or fort-saves, critical confirmation rolls, less duration of charms if your indomitable will doesn't do the job. On the nitpicky side, 3 rounds of rage for turn undead may be a cool option, but the wording "as a cleric" is misleading - turning undead requires a feat that not every cleric has. conical AoE sonic damage for rage rounds also makes sense to me and the level cap prevents abuse and to explicit novas. Using immediate actions and rage to negate 5 points of damage received also is a neat one, as is the option to temporarily boost DR and even grant yourself fortification. Generally, these rage powers include some cool gems.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are this pdf's weak points - while generally, there are not many glitches per se, the archetype is ruined (which is a damn pity) and quite a few feats should not have went even past a fleeting mechanical editing. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-stock art. The pdf comes fully hyperlinked and bookmarked for your convenience.



I did not look forward to this review. After the balance disaster of the Reforged Cleric, I did dread this one. This pdf is the labor of lead designer Brian Berg, with additional content from PJ Harn, Jason Linker, Ben Kent, Kevin Mickelson and David Miller and the pdf reflects that - quality, alas fluctuates from "glorious" to "awful." First the good news: The reforged barbarian is actually a cool alternative. It may be a tad bit stronger than the standard barbarian, but not by much and all changes make sense to me - they enhance the fluff and feel of the class. So if you wnat this pdf for the variant class alone - go for it!



Alas, the supplemental content is a mixed bag - from the cool, but unusable archetype to feats that range from cool to "Does the designer know which system he's designing for?" to the rage powers, this pdf's issue can be summed up in one sentence: Lack of a developer. The disparate voices and wildly fluctuating quality of the writing means that this pdf does have some awesome, glorious pieces of crunch that will most definitely see use at my table, but also that it features some horribly broken bits and pieces that need to be plunged into the deepest pits of the abyss. With a bit more care, this pdf could have been a 5 star + seal of approval book; It has all the makings of one. Alas, the at times sloppy fine-tuning has taken that away. Try as I might, as much as I love the base class, the ideas herein - with this amount of flaws, I cannot go higher than 3 stars. As a grab-bag and for the base class, definitely worth the low asking price, though.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Barbarian Reforged (PFRPG)
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