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Treasures of NeoExodus: Dancing Dragons (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/17/2014 07:31:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-series clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page of SRD/editorial, 1/2 a page advertisement, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The dancing dragons were the nunchaku of the Monkey Prince, NeoExodus' take on Son Goku and as such, are powerful, legendary tools - they are +2 mithral countering nunchaku that allow the wielder to choose damage type (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing) and upon disarms, the nunchaku animate the weapons of foes and have them attack the target. Finally, the nunchaku can blast foes in short-range, deadly cold bursts a limited amount of times per day.

As always, the installment comes with item cards for the weapon.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features a glorious original artwork of the weapon. The pdf comes in a more printer-friendly full-color version as well and while both pdfs have no bookmarks, at this length they need none.

Jeff Lee's Dancing Dragons are...AWESOME! Unique! Powerful! Iconic! With not one, but 3 relatively unique abilities, I thoroughly liked this one! One of the best installments of the series, my final verdict will clock in at full 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Dancing Dragons (PFRPG)
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Animal Races: Clan of the Dog
Publisher: Eric Morton Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/16/2014 03:56:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment in Eric Morton's Animal Races-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Clan of the Dog essentially encapsulates an array of therian humanoids of the adlet subtype that exhibit canine traits - race-trait wise, they receive either +2 Wis, -2 Int or +2 Wis, -2 Str - depending on whether size small or size medium is chosen, for both variants exist. Base speed clocks in at 0 feet for medium, 20 feet fr small member of the Clan of the Dog and these fellows also receive low light vision, scent, +1 natural armor (which later scales up by +1), a primary bite attack at 1d4 (or 1d3 for small ones) and a racial heritage:

A total of such heritages are provided, each netting either +2 to Dex or Con and allowing you to select Dog Clan Trickster or Dog Clan Heritage as a fighter feat, rogue talent etc., depending on the clan you've chosen. As a minor complaint here - the benefits of coyote, tanuki and fox are identical, which feels like a lost chance to add further diversity. Interesting would be the option for members of the wolf-clan to become a wis-based witch.



Now the interesting thing here would be the decision to utilize the aforementioned two feats, which can be gained via class features, as a catch-all gateway for a plethora of abilities to be chosen upon selecting the feat - faster movement, better bite and yes, even pounce and the iconic tripping bite. Oddly, fast movement is featured twice in the list. EDIT: I botched here - while the list of traits does include a couple of abilities like pounce or tripping bites, the feats themselves have a caveat that poses a level-limit for the traits themselves. I honestly have no idea how that could slip past me. I apologize.



Generally, though, I have to say that I am positively surprised by one of the most modular race-builds I've seen in quite a while. More than that surprised me the scope of this little pdf. I've read quite a few anthro-races so far and none really captured me. They mostly felt like race xyz with vaguely canine abilities slapped on. I never got the appeal of the concept, so I shrugged and moved on. What this book hints at and what sets it apart would be the cear of intelligent detail and proper research obviously put into it. What do I mean by that? well, beginning with proper age, height and weight tables, we move on to the conflict between law and chaos as basis for the clan's theology and central moral conundrum and go on to a short deity write-up of a moon-deity, extensive information on folklore of the clan on related monsters and humanoids like agathions and kitsune and delve further into heraldry (!!!) and its symbols, which also double as traits. This latter combination is a sheer stroke of genius. Regalia and resources, up to customs like usually assuming a higher status for those that walk before others - this pdf manages to cram more awesome fluff into its scant few pages than many books of thrice the size- to the point where I am honestly stoked to read more installments of the series.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard, is printer-friendly, elegant and nice. The b/w-artworks throughout the book are thematically fitting and the pdf comes excessively bookmarked with nested bookmarks.



"Urgh. Another anthro-race-pdf. How great is that. *sigh*" - that was in a nutshell my initial reaction. Boy was I WRONG. In spite of its brevity, this book manages to be better balanced and narrated, more captivating - simply a more intelligent book than many that sported much more pages. The implication that all Clan-pdfs will have links via genealogy etc. just adds further oomph to perhaps the very first truly compelling take on anthropomorphized animal-races I've seen. Full of detail and joyfully entwined fluff and crunch, this is actually not only a good supplement, it's fun to read as well. This is serious business in all the right ways - smart, intelligent, full of flavor and mechanically highly modular to boot. EDIT: My one gripe with this one was me botching big time - hence, the final verdict is upgraded to 5 stars + seal of approval!



Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Animal Races: Clan of the Dog
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Psychological Combat
Publisher: Everyman Gaming, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2014 03:03:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page author bios, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



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



The pdf also (re-)introduces morale from the old-school days; When prompted, a morale-check is a d20+wis-mod - if the result exceeds your morale DC, you become shaken, scaling with degrees of failure - while from a rules-aesthetic point more in line with old-school gaming, this solution actually makes mathematical sense, since it cancels effectively the wis-mod out of the equation - this means you usually won't be hampered much by morale unless you botch big time, though. It also means that the roll boils down to d20 vs. 10+HD or 10+sense motive ranks + bonuses (sans attribute bonuses) - this renders quite a few creatures effectively immune regarding morale and also extends this to quite a few characters. While so-called morale events and their triggering modifiers can modify the roll Generally, I don't think the general morale-rules are particularly effective or well-crafted - while I did enjoy the old morale rules, I think a more streamlined solution less dependant on luck may have been a more prudent solution regarding this system.



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



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



A total of 7 feats, each of which also comes with a second, mythic version, have been provided herein - combining maneuvers with antagonizing targets, ranged feinting,, using wild empathy for psychological warfare versus beasts. Especially interesting - the improved/greater variants of the maneuvers: Improved antagonize decreases the action-type it takes, while its greater variant allows you to plant a suggestion for a specific tactic in your foe's head. Generally, interesting and well-crafted feats.



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



Conclusion:

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



Alexander Augunas is not a novice designer, and it shows - the explanation of the rules herein is pretty concise, easy to grasp and mathematically feasible. The new antagonize option is glorious and something that has been absent from games for too long. Additionally, the fixing of demoralize et al. was long overdue. The supplemental class material and feats are all solid and humble pieces that show their coolness factor maybe not at first glance, but they do show up - and some gems herein deserve praise indeed.



So all glorious? Alas, no. The morale-system feels like an afterthought and quickly comes apart once one crunches the numbers - I'm not sure whether its relatively limited usefulness at higher levels is intentional, but its comparatively inelegant rules (especially if one knows Alexander's other work) strikes one as a system not implemented to its logical conclusion - also due to the relative brevity of morale events and their implications. My final gripe is aimed at the trait-section and the fact that the system, as written, has no options for characters who derive their psychological fortitude from their intellect - I do love the inclusion of cha, so why not cover int as well? Fiction is full of people whom you can attack all you want until you deconstruct and surpass their intellectual foundations, so that component feels like an oversight to me. The same issue applies btw. to morale - the basis solely on HD and sense motive does not survive casual contact with in-game logic, capable leaders with high cha or smart strategists - the system needs to be MUCH more complex to properly work.



Psychological combat is a glorious little pdf that suffers from the limitations imposed by its brevity - the streamlined system begs for further additions, complex mind-games and supplemental material - and while it does offer these bits and pieces, there definitely is room for quite a bit MORE. Add to that the fragile morale system and I cannot rate this pdf as high as I'd like to. Since this sounded pretty negative, let me spell it out - this is a great pdf for the streamlined psychology-maneuvers and the supplemental content; Just be aware that you may need to add minor bits and pieces here and there and don't expect too much from the morale-rules. My final verdict, for the glorious components herein, will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psychological Combat
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Minor Artifact: Book of Eight Restful Retreats
Publisher: Christina Stiles Presents
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/14/2014 02:57:23
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial (including author bio - nice!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



If you've read the title, you'll have an inkling of what this is about - a book that is an artifact holds images, rendered in lavish detail -these offer direct portals to luxurious retreats for the hounded adventurer in the guise of different demiplanes. The author should be commended here - the crunch of the artifact is rock-solid - from taking items from the retreats to smuggling persons and items, the rules of this tome are surprisingly rock-solid - including even a means of destruction that can be considered logical within the framework of a magical world, so kudos!



This level of care thankfully also extends to the planar traits provided for the eight realms contained herein - all waited upon by spectral servitors and explained/detailed: Beyond better healing, both natural and magical, each of the realms comes with its own lavish benefits - ever ready mounts, a rowboat to tour the lake of a paradise of an oasis, cabins in lush perpetual autumn, a tower filled with vast arrays of tomes, tropical islands, a rider's perfect retreat, a manor with a huge maze - even ruins for the more misanthropic are provided - the perfect holiday retreat in a pocket...

..

... There's a catch, isn't there? Yes. There is the Beast of the Realm - every time one of these luscious holiday retreats is entered, there's a slim chance of the beast spawning - which is represented by the new "Beast of the Realm"-template - at CR+2, it can be applied to whatever you wish, makes the beast more deadly than its natural brethren...and worst of all, a superb hunter that is tied to the realm - the more targets it eliminates, the worse off are those remaining in the tome - first, healing boosts cease. Then, all in the realm have to save daily to avoid becoming shaken and further saves add to that and increase the penalty to the save...If you can't craft a compelling yarn from that, I don't know what to do - seriously, the idea is simple, yet glorious and reflecting a mounting sense of dread is...interesting. Plus - the beast can never truly be destroyed...it just returns in another form... A sample Beast is provided with a deadly CR 9 elder worg for your convenience.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf actually has two nice old-school full color illustrations by Indi Martin - not something I expected to see in such a small pdf - nice! The pdf also is fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Ian Harac delivers an iconic artifact that takes a cool, very magical concept ("I wish I could carry my holiday trips with me!") and translates it into a cool artifact that your players will love - the benefits are tangible, yet will not break a campaign and the inherent adventure hooks are plentiful. Especially in e.g. dungeon crawl campaigns or those, where the PCs just need a change of scenery, this ought to be a godsend. Fun, full of cool adventure hooks and available for a very low price, this is well worth a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Minor Artifact: Book of Eight Restful Retreats
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Oracle's Curse
Publisher: Tripod Machine
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/13/2014 15:04:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf on oracle curses clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



A total of 22 Oracle Curses can be found within the pages of this small pdf, so what can they do?



Well, first of all, there would be "curses" that make you venerable or a child and then proceed to mitigate some of the penalties incurred by the respective age categories - especially interesting would be the Omen (evil)/Messiah (good)-like capstone of the child or the immunity to death from old age for venerable oracles - especially the latter makes adventuring for power-gain a race against the clock. Branded oracles are fire-themed and may touch foes to brand them, while chilled oracles receive a cold-themed suite of abilities, which thankfully is NOT an inverse copy of the branded curse - kudos for going the extra mile there, especially since the spell-duplicating touch actually receives a nice modification at higher level to set it apart!



For more...let's say, unpleasant fellow, the choleric and feral curses - though the former lacks a detriment - flying into rage as per the spell is a flat-out bonus that has no drawback attached apart from role-playing since control is maintained. EDIT: Yes, I am aware of the inability to cast; Still - too good. Not sold there. The animal-focused feral curse does a better job there. Being a focus of a prophecy and hence, exceedingly easy to scry upon makes for an uncommon detriment. The Ravenous curse has a weird EDIT: The following is no glitch: "You cannot eat for more than one ten minutes at a time." - it is just a hyper-specific penalty that only kicks in in certain spells and situations. A tad bit too specific for my tastes, but oh well.

Being phlegmatic, which hobbles your initiative, or frenetic, which translates to not being able to take 10s or 20s both are interesting, as would be what I'd call "icky curses" - odious curses you with stench, which is quite a powerful ability, yes, but also not nice for your allies, while infested nets you disgusting parasites - I somehow had a Dark Souls flash-back there for a second...



Waking Dreamers have a hard time focusing on what's around them in favor of esoteric spell-like abilities, while the more worldly sanguine curse does something similar, but instead grants you an aura of courage and helps at higher levels to avoid being staggered or falling prey to compulsions. There also is an array of curses that nets you a negative condition permanently - being wan allows you to pepper foes with negative energy/exhaustion effects, while being melancholic delivers the shaken condition, but helps against its worth brethren and against emotion effects at higher levels. The most powerful of these examples would be the catatonic curse, which smacks you with being staggered - and yes, this changes the playing experience drastically.



Some people are shunned and ostracized and whether you opt for the friendless or its bigger, more nasty brethren, the forsaken curse, both deliver impediments - from charisma not being applied to diplomacy (interesting!) to the inability to benefit from aid another, both make for compelling similar, yet very distinct cases.



I've kept my 3 favorite curses for last, though: Sedentary hobbles your movement down to 5 ft and neuters your effective str and dex-score down to curse level (which is oracle level +1/2 level in other classes), but also provides significant, flavorful benefits to offset this massive penalty. The Unchained curse is narrative gold and makes you a blank slate for alignment purposes, allowing you to do things no other class might dare. Finally, the merciful curse forces you to be a goody two shoes, yes, but it also nets you lay on hands and even mercies - and makes for a glorious curse for truly good characters to have.



The pdf also provides a bonus creature, the Rot Grub Swarm, which clocks in at CR 7 and is rather nasty.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - turns out what I considered a glitch was actually the intent of the pdf; I did not expect such a specific penalty. Mea culpa. Layout adheres to an easy to read, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no art, but needs none at this length. While bookmarks are not compulsory at this length, having some would have been nice.



RJ Grady's Oracle Curses have a hard standing with me - I've read many curses and they are one of the trickier things to design. The level of hampering they have on the player character needs to be balanced on an individual level within the curse, while also maintaining a general sense of balance. That, and I've read *A LOT* of Oracle Curses. That being said, while I noticed some thematic overlap with other pdfs I've read, the mechanics per se actually try to be different, be unique, be compelling. The Oracle Curses herein did not bore me - more often than not, the curses do something mechanically unique or daring and thus truly enrich one's game. The pdf is not always perfect and awesome, but due to the very fair price point and its gems, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Oracle's Curse
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Addendum: Empathy (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/13/2014 07:42:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This supplement details a new Lesser Power for LoGaS, namely empathy. the power costs 30 points and is based on Psyche, though long-term use also makes endurance important. As you probably have gleaned by now, Empathy allows you to open a gate to other minds, for better and for worse - causing or diminishing pain, even controlling lesser minds becomes possible, but at a risk - the channel opened goes two ways and makes one susceptible to psychic attacks, Icons and magic in general - empaths better tread carefully, especially when faced by the Dwimmerlaik's channeling. On the upside, they have an easier time with invocations since they can *relatively* easily glean True Names.



It should be noted that Empathy is neither aligned with Umbra, nor Eidolon and available to all. So how does it work? Well, first, one requires an empathic link - more of a passive ability that requires line of sight or similar long-range means of establishing contact. Sensing psyches, auras and reading items becomes possible. Mind reading and sensing thoughts and probing minds have already been hinted at in my above explanation. Where there's detection, there better ought to be hiding and camouflaging one's psyche becomes a distinct opportunity, just as well as the sending of messages or the manipulation of emotions.



Now if that is not enough for you, for 50 points you can instead gain advanced empathy to enter an empathic, problem-solving trance, increase healing, transfer energy from minds and environment, control lesser minds and even gain a measure of prescience.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as good as in most Rite Publishing books - I noticed sentences with verbs missing and minor formatting glitches, though nothing that would break the book. Layout adheres to the gorgeous full-color two-column standard of LoGaS-releases and the copious original pieces of artwork are impressive and stunning. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.



Jason Durall's Empathy is a cool ability to have in LoGaS and comes with quite a lot of interactions with established abilities - and it covers most bases. Now where it somewhat falls flat is with regards to the Typhonians - being essentially fragments of a larger entity, some advice on handling empathy with regards to these extremely compelling adversaries, especially since these fragments potentially can be played, would have been helpful . That being said, this is me being nitpicky and chances are, you won't have an issue here. The ability per se is well-constructed and hence, my final verdict will clock in at a solid 4 stars - a good, if not perfect addition to LoGaS.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Addendum: Empathy (Diceless)
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Demiplanes: The Frozen Cage
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/12/2014 05:29:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



The demiplane know as the Frozen Cage is...surprise: A cage! *cicadas chirp* Yeah, I know. So an ancient, daemonic evil has been imprisoned Now, a recent incursion of the vile crusaders of the shattered sky has almost brought down the defenses of the Wardens of the Frozen Flame, guardians tasked to ensure that dread Shektelmatu remains bound.



In the frigid, lavishly mapped wasteland, which may have regular gravity, but also enhanced cold/diminished fire magic and dimensional lock effects, a table of 50 entries of dressing provides frigid bones and remains of ancient battles to stumble across. emerging in the ruins of a temple, the PCs will probably be spotted by the dread host that seeks to unleash damnation - and the guys may actually want to parlay. while their leader is an insanely powerful antipaladin, the PCs may yet be fooled...or coerced. The potential for a frigid cat and mouse game in the planar tundra definitely is there!



Broken Bulwarks haunted by the living dead, flaywind bilzzards that may skin you alive, ashen grey fields of necromantically charged snow - the locations herein are iconic and pretty much can be read as a best of the environmental shenanigans of the classic Frostburn tome. Have I mentioned the fully depicted legend provided herein?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press printer-friendly two-column b/w standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The original cartography for the supplement is cool and the pdf comes in two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer.



Robert Brookes' second Demiplane is once again one I'd definitely use - it's concise, the cartography is awesome and the theme and style suit my tastes very much - in the hands of a capable DM, this can be a very interesting combination of the frigid wasteland/undead battlefield tropes and fans of "A Song of Fire and Ice" - well, this could be considered an amped up, contained version of the North and its basic conflict. That being said...the Twilight Demesne has raised the stakes very high and while this demiplane is awesome, it is also much less versatile - it's a pretty much straightforward conflict with cool terrain and nice background thrown in the mix and does not lend itself to its predecessor's versatility. hence, my final verdict will omit my seal of approval by a margin for a final verdict of still awesome 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demiplanes: The Frozen Cage
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[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Supplemental
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/12/2014 05:27:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final pdf of the "Paths of Power Player's Options"-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11.5 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The pdf kicks off with gladiator archetypes - not for TPK Games' gladiator class, but rather for that ne introduced in the first "Paths of Power"-pdf. If you don't have that one, rest assured, though, that you should be able to scavenge some ideas from these and reappropriate them for TPK Games' class, should you choose to. A total of 3 such archetypes are provided - the Auctorati being a galadiator who is not very deep in debt, while the Bestiarius is a gladiator with less of an urban focus, translating to different skills and skill bonuses as well as a specialization in slaying (and training!) animals. Finally, the Morituri may replace 1/day a skill-check's result with Knowledge (nobility), has a fixed reputation and seeks death at the hands of a worthy foe - this is represented via bravery as well as some restrictions in life-prolonging feats and a penalty to saves vs. death effects. per se solid, if not particularly exciting archetypes.



Next up would be a new 10-level PrC, the Grave Tyrant, who receives d8, must be evil, gets 4+Int skills per level, 1/2 will-save progression and 3/4 BAB-progression. While their channel energy progression remains intact, they exchange any spellcasting progression with a slow apotheosis towards undeath. The main draw of the class, though, would be the increase in power of the command undead feat that is a requirement to enter the PrC - the Grave Tyrant provides massive benefits to all undead under his/her control and the amount of undead the class can control rises to up to 10 HD per level - which is a lot indeed and makes relatively clear why the class receives no further spellcasting progression. A solid take on the master of undead, if a bit linear for my tastes.



The LG-only Monk of the Holy Blade archetype is a master of bladed weapons and may flurry with them - which is kind of a can of worms in itself that the pdf actually manages to get somewhat decently handled -instead of going with the default flurrying rules, the two weapon fighting-feats are taken as a base-line, thus avoiding the issue with interchangeable attacks. Now rather nasty, base-damage of the blades is increased similar to a monk fighting with unarmed attacks - here by one step per 5 levels and to add insult to injury, the archetype learns smite evil and by infusing ki into the weapon, it is rendered enchanted. And usually I would complain - swords are more common, more often enchanted etc. pp. The archetype gets smite, one of the paladin's best tricks... And yes, the archetype is stronger than the default monk. Here, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The LG-restriction, the woefully underpowered base class...yes, this archetype is strong, but as a kind of holy, sword-wielding monk, I do think it works.



Speaking of the Holy Blade - a cavalier order devoted to helping those that can't help themselves - a solid order of good guys with bodyguardish abilities.



We also receive 3 archetypes for the Voyager class - the cannonier (amateur gunslinging), the Filou (who learns a very limited array of spells, may levitate vehicles and is inspired by Honoré Beaugrand's "La Chasse-galerie") and the trappeur, who receives ranger traps and appropriately modified skills. Especially the Filou, with its very distinct, unique ability is cool.



We also receive new items, with DR-granting riot-shields and kits to better break down doors as well as feats - a lot of them; 32, unless I've miscounted. A pistol/blade variant of TWF, being able to drink more - per se solid pieces. But there also are some gems here - using shields as a brace versus charges to negate bonuses granted by charging, a feat for poison use in battle, threatening adjacent squares with loaded firearms for melee gunslinging - the feats usually have some cool idea going for them. I also like a shield-based feat that allows you to negate a critical hit as an immediate action by succeeding a fort-save 1/combat...only that the 1/encounter mechanic is just bad (insert my contra-per-encounter-rant) and fort-saves versus crit-confirmation seems hardly fair - I like the idea, but the feat's limit needs to be codified differently and the save feels punitive. I'd prefer at least the shield AC to the save...



Fans of swashbuckling (and Razor Coast) may like to hear that the bind maneuver also receives some love here. Also interesting would be an all-or-nothing feat - as a full-round action, make one attack at +4; If you crit, you automatically confirm. however, until the end of your next turn, you take a -4 penalty to AC and may only take a standard action. This feat has quite some potential! Alas, not all of the feats have solid wordings - the Pirate Trick-granting feat, for example, manages to get quite a few things wrong, duplicating effects that can be achieved otherwise via less solid rules and non-scaling DCs. Not good designs, though I like the concepts. Dealing non-lethal damage with sword-pommels is neat, while Reckless Attack is broken - at a -2 penalty to AC, make a single melee attack - if you hit, you threaten a crit automatically. Prereqs: Str 13, Power Attack, BAB +1. Yeah, never gonna happen near my table and needs to be redesigned from scratch; At low levels, there's no reason ever to not use this feat and with crit x3 or x4 weapons, it becomes ridiculously broken, outclassing keen, improved critical et al - the whole trees. Yeah. Urgh. Rest assured that this is the exception, though.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good - I noticed no particularly nasty glitches in here. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-.friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Perry Fehr and Sean O' Connor's final contribution to the Player's Options-line is thankfully one of the better in the series - the archetypes for classes of Path of Power and the content for the core et. al-classes actually is rather solid and the new items and feats more often than not hit the mark. The PrC is solid as well and while yes, this pdf does have some broken components that preclude it from being a "allow blind"-file, it does have some cool ideas and a very low, fair price-point. The amount of problematic content is lower than the cool bits and pieces and hence, I will rate this as 3.5 stars, rounded still down, though -the issues that are here need some help before this is "good", but I can see quite a few of the bits and pieces here show up in the final book!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Supplemental
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The Genius Guide to Gruesome Giants
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 09:05:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini bestiary clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Giants aren't subtle. They don't lend themselves well to horror and so far, the undead templates released as "Gruesome" hit exactly that spot - so what is this about? Well essentially, it's a book to spice up giants and make them as "OMG -GIANTS!!! RUN!!!!" as possible. This is achieved via templates, though we also receive sample statblocks for giants to drop in as written into a given campaign, so let's go down through it, shall we? First of all: Shock ratings are back and part of the templates



First of the templates would be the collector -these guys wear armors of severed body parts (!!!) and will bash foes to mush with torn off limbs from their adversaries - or, they'll just throw them at you! Grisly imagery, for sure and at CR +2 a nice template...but it does have one weakness - it has no way of actually severing body parts. I mean, how nasty would it have been to have a giant pluck limbs off a character and then bludgeon the puny smallfolk to death?



Contorted giants (at CR+1) may squeeze into small spaces and may suddenly increase their reach with a mechanically cool and imagery-wise iconic ability.



If you're halfway fluent in Gaelic mythology, the Fomorian Giants (CR+2) need no explanation - if not, well, they come with a nice curse-aura that twists those nearby. The CR+2 Forgotten are the first template herein that truly blew my socks off - essentially, they shift in dimensions, gaining a massive miss chance and actually may forget the giants. Yeah...that WILL make for damn creepy narratives! Even before the ability to reach through the folds of space into the innards of enemies.



More visceral, the CR+2 maneater template may shatter bones with each attack (now we're talking!), may grow by eating humanoids and may grapple multiple foes, should they so choose. Weird regarding the growth ability - it specifies "Once per month", but also that a maneater can only benefit once from it - so which is it? Does the growth revert?



Masochist (CR+1) creatures may pierce their flesh (great kuthonite template) and thus disarm weapons that deal damage to them. They also receive bonuses when below 3/4 maximum Hp, though that calculation feels even more foreign than the 1/2 Hp/bloodied design seen in other publications - not a fan, but purely on an aesthetic level.



Reaping Giants at CR +2 receive a plethora of nasty universal monster qualities that make them nigh-impossible to surprise and also impose negative levels on foes. At CR+2, Undying giants become magi of their HD with spell mastery applied to the spells (!!!) and terrible forgotten lore. Unstoppable giants, on the other hand, receive deadly smashes that count as adamantine and particularly painful charges.

Now before I go on to the supplemental material herein, let me mention one crucial component I *LOVE* herein that I have so far failed to mention - each of the templates comes with one or more weaknesses clever players can exploit - whether it be the ancient oaths undying giants have sworn, the compulsion to charge foes, susceptibility to [good] spells - each template has a cool way for smart players to even the playing field.



If you've followed my reviews for any period of time, you'll know I'm a huge fan of horror mechanics - I.e. "If you fight without an idea/plan, you'll probably die." This extends to how I handle my fantasy campaigns as well - exploiting weaknesses, researching etc. - that makes a triumph of so much sweeter and rewards players for their brains as opposed to luck/brawns. Two thumbs up -I wished all (or many!) monsters had options like this!



Now a total of 20 feats, mostly for large foes with insane strength scores, provide better options for awesome blow (crit foes, potentially smash them to the ground), add smash damage to overruns - i.e. these feats allow you to amp up the damage output of these guys quite nastily. It takes some time to get by how far, but oh boy, if you do it right...ouch!



Finally, a wizard and ranger archetype as well as a sorceror bloodline complete the options - the wizard may trip foes with spells and increase CL, the ranger increases his/her prowess by harvesting the essences of the slain and the sorceror bloodline is solid, but nothing I haven't seen before. When compared to the imaginative templates, this crunch feels less inspired.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - there are next to no significant glitches herein. Layout adheres to RGG's printer-friendly two-column standard and each sample giant gets a cool full color original piece of artwork by Jacob Blackmon. Kudos! The pdf comes bookmarked and hyperlinked for your convenience.



The Four Horsemen (here: Steven T. Helt, Dan Dillon and Steven Rowe) deliver a cool pdf here - the giants themselves are nice builds, the templates cool - that being said, like in most collective designs, we have a discrepancy in design choices here, one less pronounced in the pdf than in other books, but it is still here - some of the giants are downright genius (Undying and Forgotten come to mind), while e.g. the masochist or the harvester template feel less inspired. Over all, the average quality is still exceedingly high and the inclusion of weaknesses makes these templates so much cooler.



The feats are also damn nasty food for a DM, but food that should be kept out of the hands of players - I can make VERY nasty builds with these and it is evident that they are intended as monster feats, so beware there. The additional options provided as archetypes and bloodline felt a bit like an addendum to me - compared to the monsters and templates and feats, rather uninspired, but your mileage may vary.



Now this may sound a tad more critical than it ought to - this mini-bestiary WILL amp up your giants and make them proper forces to be reckoned with. As such, the pdf does its job well, exceedingly well even. And, in parts, it is downright GENIUS and made me cackle with glee. As such, I can recommend it rather highly at a final rating of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform - for a full 5 and seal of approval, some of the mechanics felt a bit too conservative OR wonky for me, but that does in no way make the pdf less of a good buy and is mostly cosmetic.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to Gruesome Giants
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Mythic Monsters: Giants
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2014 09:03:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction/how-to use, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!





Okay, so this one has a problem - giants frankly suck in Pathfinder - their rock throwing is bad, they can be brought down by sleep and there are no rules for properly falling on PCs, squashing them - thankfully, this installment of Mythic Monsters addresses just these issues - hurling rocks at squares, squashing foes by falling on them, resiliency to spells and effects specifically targeting humanoids, ignoring difficult terrain - I hope Paizo takes a cue from these for the upcoming Giantslayer AP! I know I'll add these to all giants I throw at my players!



We also receive 4 new feats for awesome blows at range via boulders, power attack via boulders and even rolling them towards the players - nice!



Okay, this parts out of the way, let's take a look at those giants, shall we? At the lowest echelons of the power-scale, we receive Moss Trolls and Freshwater Merrow, with the former receiving an increasing, extremely lethal regeneration and the latter receiving a hooked harpoon, including ranged grappling/draging of foes. The CDR 7/MR 3 Saltwater Merrow also receives these, btw. - and great tossing of foes overboard and destroying ships. While I do enjoy the moss troll and saltwater merrow, its freshwater brethren feels a bit bland in direct comparison.



At CR 6/MR 2, the Brute Wight may demoralize with his attacks and throw tombstones and similar rocks, causing energy drain - nice imagery! The CR 7/MR 3 Rock Troll may avoid the sunlight petrification temporarily via mythic power and also has his lesser moss brethren's superb reflexive regeneration - still, I wished these guys had gotten even more beyond their fortification and increased defenses.



The Stone Giant Elder at CR 11/MR 4 can enter a rage-like, reach-increasing form and throw boulders that smash through any resistance in the path of the stone giant's throw to the maximum range. Neat!



Now quite a few of these giants, like their mythic draconic brethren, also have the "giant" simple template applied - the Frost Giant (CR 12/ MR 4), Cloud Giants (CR 14/MR 5) and Storm Giants (CR 17/MR 6) all receive this treatment. It should be noted, that a non templated version of the stats is provided for the Frost Giant, but not for his brethren, which is a pity. Frost giants get truly lethal shockwaves and an aura of numbing cold, whereas cloud giants make use of a mythic feat from Mythic Minis: Feats for Monsters (reprinted here) and may coalesce and shape clouds into solid terrain and beyond the theme of erecting literal castles in the sky, the fee-fie-foe-fum smelling of smaller creatures is also represented here. Storm Giant Elder, meanwhile, learn to ride the lightning, may grant storm-themed enhancements to weaponry and meld electricity with thunder. Now I have that Tiamat-song ringing in my head again...



The CR 15/MR 6 Athach may use mythic power to instantly tear pinned foes asunder (YEAH!) and exact stunning and even melee countering tricks with their claws - glorious build, cool tricks, two thumbs up!



The CR 22/MR 9 Rune Giant receives improved giant control, permanently blind those witnessing their runes, blast foes with showers of deadly sparks from their runes and parry/parry-sunder melee attacks. I'm generally no fan of competing atk-rolls, so not sold there. Weirdly, a version with the Giant-template is provided here, but adheres to a different layout format than the other instances of the thing showing up.



The CR 18/MR 7 Jotund Troll receives once again the cool reflexive regeneration and a confusion-inducing roar, but otherwise could have used a unique trick to reflect its heritage. This one disappointed me somewhat.



The new creature of this book would be Angurboda, at CR 13/MR 5 could be summed up as a nasty giant witch with lamashtan influences - a gigantic mother of monsters, complete with cauldron, evil eye, etc. - she can gestate swiftly and generate a vast array of creatures - a more deadly opponent than her CR would suggest and one of the most awesome unique creatures in the series - and that's saying something! The proper and extensive information on habitat, ecology etc. are the icing on this creature's awesome cake - two thumbs up!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though I noticed some formatting inconsistencies in layout. Layout adheres to legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the two pieces of original art are neat indeed. The pdf lacks bookmarks, which is a comfort detriment.



Jason Nelson, Tom Philips and Alistair Rigg have crafted some nasty giants...and they leave me torn like no Mythic Monsters-pdf before. I do love the inclusion of non-templated versions, I'm not a fan of this practice not being uniform. I love the super-regeneration for trolls, but think they overall got the short end of the stick regarding cool abilities. The giants themselves are nice, but the two best draws herein would be the new creature and the material in the beginning that makes giants work as they ought to. These two pieces of content alone are almost worth the book - they're this awesome. That being said, my impression was that these giants have a bit more blank space on some pages than they ought to and quite honestly, I feel that some of them could have used some additional tricks.



All Mythic Monster pdfs are at least good, most are very good/excellent. This one alternatively moves among the best and among the "worst" of the series (which translates to only being good/okay), rendering a finding a final verdict a tricky business. In the end, this one felt, in spite of its brilliant highlights, somewhat less glorious than some other installments of the series and with the slightly less polished formatting and generally uninspired trolls. I will hence settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform - though any aficionado of giants should get this for the alternate rules and the new creature alone - they're worth the asking price by themselves!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Giants
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Mythic Monsters: Dragons
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2014 07:24:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



As has become the tradition with Mythic Monster-supplements, this one also offers us some supplemental pieces of content, this time in the guise of 10 draconic mythic feats - these allow the dragons in question to suppress energy vulnerabilities - and I really like these - with e.g. empowering effects, added negative conditions or added dispel effect, they felt like a neat nod towards the metabreath feats provided in 3.X's Draconomicon. Beyond these, feats to prevent escape from the claws of dragons and truly lethal bite attacks are possible as well - great feats to make these dragons deadly indeed - though it should be mentioned that Con 19 and breath weapon are the main requirements here, so other monsters can potentially benefit from these as well. Personally, I think the feats should be kept out of the hands of players with breath weapons, even in a mythic game.



But enough about that, let's check out these dragons, shall we? At the lowest end of the spectrum, at CR 2/MR 1, we are introduced to the mythic pseudodragon are able to tap into the collective unconsciousness of dragonkind to unearth secrets and treat dragons as favored enemy. A prime example that even MR 1 mythic creatures can be damn cool!



Fans of drakes will have a field day here - At CR 7/MR 3(Flame Drake), CR 6/MR 2 (forest drake), both coming with vastly increased speed and auras of soot/forest mastery, they are solid, but fall behind their CR 10/MR 4 Frost Drake brethren, who gets a unique modification of their breath weapon to have it linger AND duplicate a miniature blizzard - cool! The CR 8/MR 3 Sea Drake also receives a cool modification that clouds targets of their breath with St. Elmo's fire and they also receive additional electricity charges with their tail attacks.



At CR 8/MR 3, the mythic dracolisk receives a cool ability that allows them to truly effectively destroy petrified foes. The smallest of the true dragons provided would be the Giant mythic juvenile blue dragon at CR 13/MR 5 -and how awesome is this guy - breath into the floor to animate the ground into an array of swarms of construct snakes? Heck YES! Bending breath weapons in degrees up to 90°? Yeah! What about tremorsense plus superb stealth on sand? Worthy of a dragon indeed, even before the literally thundering charge!



The Green Dragons are represented in the adult category at CR 16/MR 6 and receive poisonous spittle, mind fog-inducing gas and essentially are the masters of negative conditions stacking via breath weapons - as they should be: Fear the breath weapons, puny adventurers! Of course, there are also true apex predator dragons, worthy of campaign endgames - Ancient Blacks clock in at CR 21/MR 8 and exude a debilitating stench, can add entangle effects to the breath, receive reflexive spines that damage those trying to hit them and they even may use mythic power to inflict diseases on foes bitten. Interesting - summoned forth creatures can be made into a kind of living shield for the dragon...nasty!



At CR 23/MR 9, the Great Wyrm white dragon also adds nasty conditions to their breath, receive a freezing, deadly variant of acid fog and their walls of ice are truly massive - and that, before imprisonment ice tombs. Have I mentioned that their scales are so cold, they may shatter weapons or that their tramples may literally cause avalanches when erupting via burrow speed? What about an alternate, beam-like breath weapon that may ignore immunities via mythic power and offers no save - ouch!



Finally, as is the tradition - the king, ladies and gentlemen, at CR 27/MR 10 - the Great Wyrm Red can eliminate fire resistance/immunities, ignores ability damage/negative levels etc. up to an extent due to draconic fortitude, force mortals to do his bidding with nary a glance and has, due to jewels and gold in the coat, a mythic fortification effect going - oh, and his gaze can be a true seeing/faerie fire-combo and the breath may melt rock, creating lava. Yeah! Glorious, deadly, awesome!



The CR 26/MR 10 Tor Linnorm also belongs into this emperor-level class of foes - reflexive fast healing, remaining active until -390 hit points (!!!), animating magma as deadly elementals and searing scales etc. make for a cool, surprisingly different build for such a fire-.based draconic brute - kudos here!



As always, we also receive a unique, new creature with the Fell Drake at CR 12/MR 5 - these drakes evolved in the realms of necromancer kings long gone, adapting to working with undead and ghosts and would make for superb mounts for the Nazghûl or similar undead - those that rouse the ire of the creatures can easily be driven from the saddle, though and synergy between e.g. frightful moans of mount and rider make for a cool idea.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full-color standard for the series and the module's 2 pieces of original artwork are nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at least a hyperlinked ToC, which is still a comfort detriment compared to proper bookmarks.



Jason Nelson's dragons have probably the hardest legacy to hit a creature type can have - I'm a vocal friend of the notion that dragons ought to be truly frightening, deadly and make the PCs shake their boots. Dragons should never be disposable...or bland. Thankfully, the true, massive dragons are just...glorious! They are beauties, with superb, unique abilities, massive, huge statblocks and just style and panache galore. While the drakes are also nice, they fall behind the full-blown dragon's in style and coolness - and know what? For once, I'm very much okay with that. Why? Because, in my opinion, it's intentional. It is obvious that Legendary Games mastermind Jason Nelson can make those glorious abilities - he literally plastered the true dragons with them. The thing is - drakes are supposed to be the smaller, less awe-inspiring brethren of the true dragons and while the new abilities reflect that, they still are iconic and cool - and as such, I consider the distinction well wrought. The new creature will see much use in different tables, though personally, I have to admit the fluff etc. feels more like a template than a creature to me.



Oh well, the scaly lord is eyeing me right now and I already have these colored flames dancing on me, so I better wrap this up before he incinerates me... These dragons are awesome. their builds are deadly and massive and while I would have loved one book on dragons, one on drakes, one on linnorms, one cannot always have everything, can one? Since I found at least one, often more components in each creature I really, really loved, I'll settle on a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the missing bookmarks.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Dragons
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Treasures of NeoExodus: Twin Furies (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2014 07:21:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Treasures of NeoExodus-series clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page of SRD/editorial, 1/2 a page advertisement, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The Twin Furies are two kamas crafted for the vile religion of Khayne and as such have interesting abilities - one is a +1furyborn kama, one is a +2 vicious kama that only deals nonlethal damage to followers of Khayne. The dread weapons make the wielder harder to intimidate and when used in conjunction in a full attack (or flurry), and both weapons hit, the wielder may also execute a rend attack.



The pdf comes with item-cards for the Twin Furies.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's drop-dead-gorgeous 2-column full-color standard and the pdf features a glorious original artwork of the weapon. The pdf comes in a more printer-friendly full-color version as well and while both pdfs have no bookmarks, at this length they need none.



Jeff Lee's Twin Furies are nice weapons with unique options, but they fall a bit behind the last, glorious installment of the series - it's a nice pair of weapons, but not one that blew my socks off. A good installment of the series, well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures of NeoExodus: Twin Furies (PFRPG)
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The Blackshire Mercenary Company
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2014 06:56:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review



This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 28 pages of content, so let's check these mercenaries out!

After an introduction to the mercenary company and some adventure outlines/plot hooks, we get information on hiring the mercenaries for" active" or "passive" duties (i.e. guard duty vs. adventuring/preventing assassinations) as well as information to joining the Blackshire Mercenaries, improving one's standing in the guild as well as how jobs are granted to soldiers and spending influence in the guild. I.e. we actually get tables and information on how to both gain influence and on how to spend it/what benefits you can get in the guild.

So what is the guild and how does it work? In a work of dire rat infestations, marauding wyvern and vicious orc press gangs, adventurers always can find work. What, however, if none of these specialists are available? What if one has already been betrayed by powerful adventurers and thus rather want specialists who may ask for a steep price, but adhere to professional work ethics? That's what the Blackshire Company is for. Driven by pragmatism and a desire to earn money and get the job done rather than adhere to chivalrous codes of honor and conduct, they are hardened, grizzled and yet uncompromising problem-solvers. Depending on the level of the member and the amount of influence one has, specific benefits are available, lending using the guild towards e.g. prolonged campaigns with PCs getting ranks in the guild.

The guild also gets its own Prestige Class (to join, you of course have to have sufficient influence with the guild), the Blackshire Exemplar.
The 10-level-PrC gets d10, 2+Int skills per levels, a good BAB-progression, a medium fort-save and centers around professionalism-abilities like immunity to fear and can learn from a list of 13 special guild maneuvers. The guild maneuvers are powerful, but adequately represent the fighting style of the guild. Their capstone-ability lets them make a full attack as a standard action, though. OUCH. This ability, even for a capstone-ability feels rather powerful and lends itself to potential abuse. They also come with a lore-section.

Next up in the book are the sample NPCs:
The section contains three dwarven brothers that learned to expertly coordinate their effort, an example of an evil as well as an example of a good chapter-head, a duelist-style fighter, a low-level thug and a legend among the companies.

-Dennai Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7/ Stalwart Defender 2)
-Dorbin Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7)
-Dragor Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7)
-Helgar "the Butcher" Bailey (Human Fighter 10)
-Percival Callahan (Human Paladin 10)
-Rolando (Human fighter 7/ranger 6/blackshire exemplar 4)
-Sophia Ironblade (Fighter 10)
-Tolbin Denny (Rogue 4)

Conclusion:
The organization per se is very well presented - you can easily imagine this very capitalistic and professional approach to being mercenaries. The company can serve as anything you'd like - as foils for the PCs, as allies, as a home away from home or as all of the above. Presentation of the benefits and tracking rank in the guild rock and are detailed enough to be of use even to the most novice of DMs. The company can easily be dropped in into just about ANY campaign and is sufficiently modular. I'll go even so far as to propose that they make a nice elite-order in rather low-magic settings. However, there are also some downsides to this file: While I like the Blackshire Exemplar class, I think that the capstone ability is too strong and I would have loved to see more guild techniques. The NPCs, while well-designed and with some APG-support, did not necessarily impress me that much - on the one side, they may be well-crafted, but somehow they felt a bit unspecific and don't come with their rank specified in the guild. I also would have loved to see stats for the 3 leaders of the guild. Another problem is, that while the company is easy to implement and is well and extensively detailed, but it somehow lacks iconic powers and also feels generic in the negative sense. The short write-up of the Blackblade mercenary organization from RiP' s "Elspeth Blackblade" somehow felt more compelling to me.
Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout is fine, too, although it adheres to the used-parchment-look of NWN, thus being not too printer-friendly. The mostly public domain art fits the topic. Formatting is nice, there is only one glitch of a line in the last stat-block - half of one line is hidden beneath another line. The pdf is extensively bookmarked.

My final verdict for this pdf will take the low price and the amount of content into account. Due to the formatting glitch and the minor problems I encountered, I'd usually settle for 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3. However, I couldn't name a single "Guild"-book apart from this one and it is well-crafted for a VERY low price. Thus, I'll round my final verdict up to 4 - it's good to see a fully-detailed and professionally presented guild out there, even if it is a rather generic one. I hope to see more.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Blackshire Mercenary Company
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The Genius Guide to the Talented Ranger
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2014 04:31:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest in Rogue Genius Games' much beloved restructuring of base classes to become more versatile and modular, this one clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 38 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So basically, the framework remains the same - full BAB-progression, good ref- and fort-saves, d10, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with light and medium armors and shields and simple and martial weapons. Okay. let me go out on a whim here - Rangers and their spell-less brethren from Kobold Press are very popular in my group - why? Because they are melee guys with decent skills - they can be the smart investigators, urban hunters etc. Much like their other talented brethren, the talented ranger has now all its class options streamlined into edges, talents etc., allowing you full-blown customization of the class.



The Talented Ranger receives an edge at 1st -3rd level, 2 edges at 4th, and +1 at 7th, 9th, 10th, 13th and 20th level. They also start the game with 2 ranger talents and select additional talents starting 3rd level at every level with the exception of the 4th and 9th level. At 10th level, advanced talents are unlocked and the ranger receives two talents. He also receives 2 at 18th level and finally, at 20th level, the capstone Grand Talents are unlocked. If you need an explanation of edges/talents, please check one of my earlier reviews of talented classes.



That being said, the class, much like its barbarian brethren, does boil down the class to its basic concepts - adaptability being the key word here. While a kind of growing-into the respective roles/concepts is maintained in the design of the talented ranger, the way in which this is done can very much be considered interesting: Spellcasting progression, and yes, druid and arcane spellcasting, alchemist extracts etc. would be possible, for example, takes its toll on edges - subsequent spell levels require investment - they do not adhere to the usual, linear progression. Another issue the pdf elegantly circumvents would be favored enemy - easily the blandest of bonuses from the base class, many archetypes exchange it and thus, in a talented context, the stacking of bonuses of favored enemy-ish abilities and those usually exchanged for it, has been prevented by instead using the "favored enemy" bonus as a smart way of circumventing the issue.



Speaking of interesting options - would you rather bond with e.g. a weapon rather than an animal? Yes, this one would be possible. Now that would btw. be not all - some of these even have a massive array of sub-options and yes, ranger traps are also part of the deal here.



The talents provide further, massive customization options - and yes, there are some "hidden" trees in here, but much less than in the installment on the cavalier, for example. Terrain Mastery et al., Urban ranger trickery and the like are possible, and planning the progression of your talented ranger properly is an interesting endeavor - also due to the inability to break combat styles - the final "trap" of this talented class would have been balancing the combat styles and maintaining the relative linearity without losing flexibility - and this the pdf also manages to achieve. Among the advanced talents and capstones, wildcard edges (as a capstone) and similar tricks are in here as well - here and there, the unique possibilities of this reboot of the ranger receive their own, unique abilities - lending a distinct identity to the class beyond the default ranger, much like how the talented barbarian can be so much more than the frothing brute.



It should be noted that 2 pages of lists of talents by type/thematic group make selection of these easier.



Conclusion:



Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard with Jacob Blackmon's glorious cover receiving a full-page spread as well. The pdf comes with massive, nested bookmarks for just about everything and the pdf comes also hyperlinked for your convenience.



I do not envy Owen K.C. Stephens the task of creating the talented classes - doing their math, checking combinations - even to write a review for one of these beasts tends to be A LOT of work and tinkering and taking apart the more linear classes without breaking them is not easy. The Talented Ranger is a prime example in this tradition, and while, much like the barbarian, I do not think we actually *needed* a talented ranger, the end result is so distinct, so potentially different, that even in the campaigns of people like yours truly who do not have an issue with the base ranger, the talented ranger makes for a versatile, cool addition. It simply has a massive array of new options and combinations available - my final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Talented Ranger
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Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
Publisher: d20pfsrd.com
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/05/2014 04:26:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 31 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page "Thank you"-note, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The first archetype herein would be the Beast Hunter, who replaces medium, heavy armor proficiency and tower shields with bola, lasso, mancatcher and net and also actually make these subpar weapon choices rather valid with increased range, concentration DCs of those caught and even capture larger adversaries - the archetype and its focus on catching creatures via uncommon weaponry is AWESOME. It's simple, elegant and nice. Personally, I would have preferred more tricks here or some special talents, but the archetype is more than functional in that it provides options for a build previously unsupported.



The Gun Fighter, the second archetype herein, can be considered a type of gunslinger light - more realistic and down-to-earth: No deeds, no faster reloading etc. - a working fighter with firearm focus, if not a perfect one - for groups looking for a more low-powered approach to firearms, the archetype definitely works - so design goal achieved.



Third would be the harpooner, taking a new take on the harpoon (complete with entangled foes, penalty on subsequent attacks etc.) and making a weapon specialist for it - further penalizing foes, cover by water, tying off harpoons at higher level to keep hands free - a cool specialist archetype overall, though one that could use some drag-combat maneuver love...still, won't hold that against the pdf.



The Highborn Fighter, essentially the niche that the cavalier was supposed to fill, can also be filled by archetype of said name - beyond proficiency with sword-canes et al, these guys use cha instead of dex to calculate ref-saves etc. - and would also receive cha-bonus to damage. And here I'd be complaining, were it not for the smart decision to scale the maximum bonus. Nice and definitely something I'll scavenge for talented classes etc. Kudos!



The Iaidoka Master is a master of feinting and quick first attacks - solid one, but somewhat lacking in the department that provides truly unique options. The Navaja is also a little archetype, but a great one - specific weapons, mostly subpar choices like daggers, can benefit from increased damage output and the navaja may stick knifes in foes and let them inside to accumulate debuff-effects on the pincushion'd foe.



The Siege Engineer is a must-have in war-themed campaigns and a great option as a cohort - as a master of the truly big weaponry, The biggest achievement here, though, would be that played a siege weapon master isn't boring - the option to be more efficient and commandeer multiple siege weapons makes for rewarding gameplay even for PCs. While surely not perfect for every campaign, it is awesome for some and quite probably worth the whole book if you're looking for a character like that.



The thrower is a throwing specialist archetype that gains increased reach and damage output to offset the base weapon's. While I'm not big on ranged combat maneuvers, 15th level is sufficiently late to not make this an issue. Okay, I guess.



The final archetype would be Wicked Wrecker, a specialist in using armor spikes and bull rushing/grappling foes to smithereens and even cobble foes with those moved away via bull rushes - again: Cool option for an underutilized weapon-type.



A total of 19 new feats can also be found within these pages - changing direction when charging, bola feat tree (including flight-impeding bolas that temporarily can send foes crashing down), bracing against foes that have moved 10 feet (not only against chargers), making sundered armor truly impede their wearers, damaging adjacent structures faster drawing of hidden/concealed weaponry, better saves versus identified spells or what about increased chances to perceive foes while sleeping - quite an array of interesting feats are assembled here.



Beyond these feats, we also get weaponized parasols, aforementioned harpoon that actually works and lantern shields make for neat mundane items, while a collection of 12 magical items, from dimensional bolas to mud bombs and anti-object grenades add nice notes.



In the spirit of 3pp-camraderie, some great excerpts from 101 Magical Armor and Shield Properties and 101 Magical Weapon Properties by Rite Publishing are provided as a bonus.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a neat 2-column full color standard with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes hyperlinked and bookmarked for your convenience.



Taylor Hubler, John Reyst and Jason Linker deliver a book full of highly uncommon fighter niche builds - and they work. And they are cool. I was honestly surprised, but this book actually proved to be rather cool, offering some unique and fun options I'm sure to use in the future - and sometimes, like in the case of the Navaja, the concepts even are downright awesome and deserve accolades. That being said, at the same time, there are a few archetypes herein that don't have that much going for them beyond their gimmick, which is a bit of a pity - just about every niche-weapon-style just asks for more tools, more abilities etc. - and that's a GOOD thing here - it means the basic archetypes do a good basic job, one that can be expanded in future releases. The content herein inspires to create more, to make the individual basic systems of the archetypes even more diverse -and that is an achievement indeed. Making harpoons, dagger-fighters etc. NOT suck is a neat achievement for this humble pdf. I did not expect this pdf to be as compelling as it turned out to be - after so many fighter-supplements, it's hard to provide something new and this one zooms in on many fringe-cases and options and makes them better - and for that, this pdf, in spite of some archetypes not being that interesting, has a majority of options that are downright cool. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood & Steel, Book 1 - The Fighter (PFRPG)
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