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GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:56:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 399 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 3 pages of short author bios (which should be included in any roleplaying game supplement - seriously, help the talented folk that craft these books get all the recognition they can!), 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with no less than 388 (!!!) pages of content, making this one of the longest books I've ever reviewed, so let's take a look, shall we?



When I reviewed "Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands" and similar adventures by Raging Swan Press (if you haven't checked these out - get them!), the one thing that caught my eye the most was the sheer brutal amount of details - you know, terrain features, things to actually do, that rendered them so...alive. Concise. Believable. The details mostly absent from many new-school modules, the level of detail lost in many a module since the 3.X days in favor of long statblocks. Well, the series that spawned from the genius realization that details are important would be the Dressing-lines, which contain some of the most ridiculously useful information for any DM you can find - not only for Pathfinder, but for any system.



This is not all that made Raging Swan press modules stand out - remember those dungeons where monsters were placed with neither rhyme, nor reason, wondering how the dragon got into the dungeon etc. - and the annoying rationale "MAGIC!"? Well, this book can be considered the ultimate rebuttal to this type of sloppy design - providing concise information on how to craft intricate dungeons that actually make sense. Basic observations from "Who amde the dungeon?" and "For what purpose?" to former roles it may have had to who actually knows about these tidbits of lore are only the tip of the ice-berg: Considering food and water, access, predators and the like, making good unoccupied rooms that tell stories. Every DM and especially any worldsmith should check these out. Advice on handling a dungeon's physicality (vertical shafts, terrain threats etc.) are provided alongside special considerations for mega-dungeon design and even alternate dungeon designs (of which one can now find a new series by RSP...) - the advice provided here is presented so concisely, it could be deemed a proper checklist for making good dungeons, one that any DM should take a long, hard look at.



Now you may already know that this book collects the numerous Dungeon Dressing-pdfs in one handy tome - but do you realize the extent of what is in here? The following installments are collected herein: Altars, Archways, Bridges, Captives, Ceilings, Chests, Corpses, Doom Paintings, Doors, Double Doors, Dungeon Entrances, Dungeon names, Fiendish Traps I + II, Floors, Fountains, Gates & Portals, Goblin's Pockets, Legends I + II, Mundane Chest Contents, Pits, Pools, Portcullises, Sarcophagi, Secret Doors, Simple Magic Traps, Stair, Statues, Tapestries, Thrones, Trapdoors, Walls and Wells. Additionally, the 3 "So what's the Riddle like, anyways?" are part of the deal and an extensive excerpt from the immensely useful "All that Glimemrs"-compilation has also been provided, sporting a total of 20 treasure hoards at your disposal - after all, dungeons need treasure!



Now you probably have seen that one coming - but I have written reviews for ALL OF THE ABOVE. Yeah. Looking at it from my current vantage point, I feel somewhat OCD...be that as it may, you can easily look up all those reviews, so no, I won't repeat myself and cover all of these again. Even if I did, the resulting review would probably clock in at more than 20 pages, so yeah.



What I *do* focus on here would be the new content provided - let's begin with new Fiendish Traps, shall we? A total of 3 new ones of these nasty, complex traps are provided, making essentially "Fiendish Traps III" a part of the deal here. The first here makes for an exceedingly smart trapped puzzle-lock for an undead (or similar creature's) lair: Different alcoves contain different skulls, with each skull representing one of the bare necessities of life - hunger, thirst, etc. - in order to open the vault door, all traps have to be triggered at the same time, resulting in magic-induced thirst, famine, suffocation and an attack by an animate dream...Ouch and oh so iconic and cool! The defense-hallway sporting poisonous gas and fetchling snipers is nasty as well, as is the traps that is a variant of the classic endless falls, which also adds a temporal distortion to the whole deal - awesome!



Now one of the most overlooked and easiest way to make a dungeon not work is to not get the illumination/sight-question of the inhabitants right. Sans darkvision, inhabitants better have some sort of way to provide for sight - and since this one is also combat-relevant, it will come up - I guaranteed it. Hence, we have one of the most useful DM-cheat-sheets of the whole series in this new chapter, providing everything you need to know in that regard rules-wise at one glance. Want to know how this goes even faster - whether braziers, candelabras (1 page each), fireplaces (2 pages), lanterns, magical lights, torch sconces (all 1 page) - the book actually provides so much variation, you'll never need to reply with "ehem...there are torches." ever again - detailed, versatile and downright brilliant, this chapter is glorious in its evocative details, even before the 2 new light-based traps.



Now of course, one can note that the topics of the book mentioned above do not cover every potentiality of dungeon exploration or design - hence, the book also covers carpets and rugs, evidence left by previous explorers (foreshadow those hostile NPC-groups!), grafitti,, junk and rubbish, mirrors, eeerie atmospheres (!!!), clothes and possessions, strange magical affects, strange smells, strange sounds, specialized priest's and wizard's chests, provisions, mirrors, odds and sundries, clothes and miscellaneous possessions and YES! LOCKS! The oversight of all door-pdfs now receive their own table! Each of these new tables is at least one page strong, with several covering 2 pages and the locks coming with DC/cost/quality-cheat-sheet mini-table. Wow. Just wow.



It should be noted that, for your convenience, the book also provides 2 pages of index for traps by CR ( with the CR covering the range from None to 15 and providing page numbers) and statblocks by CR (ranging from 1/2 to 9, also with page numbers) for easier navigation.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are thoroughly impressive - I have seldom seen a book of this size with this high quality in these two regards - top-notch and awesome. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf can be considered printer-friendly. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions, one to be printed out and one for screen use. But unless you went full-blown tablet, I'd suggest you get the gorgeous hardcover - I have it and its binding is professional and both paper and glossy cover make this tome a beauty of elegance indeed.



The authors Ben Armitage, Alexander Augunas, Aaron Bailey, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Erwin, James Graham, Brian Gregory, Eric Hindley, Ben Kent, Thomas King, Greg Marks, Andrew J. Martin, Jacob W. Michaels, Julian Neale, Chad Perrin, David Posener, Brian Ratcliff, Pierre van Rooden, Liz Smith, Josh Vogt, Mike Welham can be proud indeed - why? Because this book is a milestone.



I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I say that this belongs in the arsenal of every DM - period. I had the individual pdfs before and I used them - quite extensively, mind you, but this is something different. Sit down with it and start rolling - in less than 30 minutes you'll have an extremely detailed dungeon at your fingertips, with players not realizing that the complex you created not stemming from a professional module, but from your pen. That is, they may realize it, since this book renders your dungeons memorable, awesome and makes SENSE.



Much like the superb "Wilderness Dressing"-book, the organization in this tome is one of the subtle, yet downright brilliant components - the arrangement of the components may be neat - but there's something apart from that which makes this work so much better than its component pdfs. Beyond collecting all in one handy tome, this book eliminates the small blank spaces left by the component pdfs - the small odds and ends, the carpets, the locks - what has been missing before now is simply there.



Another scenario - you've bought a module and like the dungeon, but it feels sterile, perhaps due to page-count not sufficing? Use this book and in less than 10 minutes, you'll potentially have a dungeons your players will talk about for years to come.



I've beaten around the bush long enough - not only for Pathfinder, but for just about any fantasy-system, this massive book is a godsend. If you have a dungeon, you need this book - it's simple as that. I've been using it in my game ever since I got my greedy hands on it and the sheer massive amount of content and awesomeness in this book is enough to make dungeons feel alive once again. Yes, not all components are super-duper-mega-awesome, but that fact remains that the majority *is* just that - and that the sum here is so much more than its component parts.



This is one of those very few mile-stone supplements that simply offer no reason not to get them - the extremely fair, low price point (for this amount of content!) adding a significant, further dimension to the awesomeness that is this book. I wouldn't ever want to miss this glorious tome and



I'm running out of superlatives fast - so let's end this -this book is a must-have.



An instant classic.



One of the most useful books I've ever had the pleasure to review.



If you don't have this book, it's high time you'll add it to your library. I guarantee that you'll love this - and if that's not enough, Raging Swan Press does have a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied.



This book is a hot contender for the number 1 spot of my Top Ten of 2014. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval - the maximum of my scale and had I any other scale, it would score that high still. This book henceforth also is part of the books I consider essential for any campaign - hence, it receives the "EZG Essential"-descriptor.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
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Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha
Publisher: Mór Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:53:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This campaign guide clocks in at 84 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 77 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this is the campaign guide (essentially a gazetteer) to the world of Aeliode, in which Mór Games' impressive "Plight of the Tuatha"-saga takes place - we had so far been spoon-fed quite an array of intriguing tidbits and pieces, but this book constitutes the first extensive look at the world, so does it hold up?



Well, first of all, it should be noted that Tim Paul's cartography of the world, provided once in a one-page and once in a two-page version, is compelling - a world of two continents, with a third, ice-cold continent at the North Pole, the cartography delivers - beautiful, compelling and a first nod at the things to come, for the original full-color artworks herein manage to uphold this level of quality.



Now usually, campaign setting kick off with races and this one does something somewhat different - we start with the great empires - essentially, we are introduced to the Avitian empire, its latest acquisitions and the other major power-players. Now here's the smart thing regarding this presentation - the roles of the races are different from place to place. Aforementioned empire has for example waged war against the dwarves and subjugated them, taking the nobles prisoner, while their subjects were allowed to remain - hence the former lower classes remain "free", while the erstwhile nobility has been groomed into prized accountants, butlers and high-class servants, prohibited from growing or adorning their beards.

Different elven ethnicities and e.g. gnomes besieged by a divinely ordained pogrom, ever paranoid for the shapechangers that seek to end their race provide ample opportunities to flesh out clash of cultures-scenarios, while also providing alternate racial traits for different ethnicities. The elves of the ancient forests of Tir Ydrail, for example, tend to have darkvision instead of low-light vision. Now add to that the fact that the Roman-empire inspired empire has relatively recently been subject to the split-off of the Ceravossian Republic, who seeks a return to the republic as opposed to the Avitian cult of the emperor and we have, alone from the constellation of nations, a massive potential for compelling storytelling.

Want an example for how compelling story-telling is here? To a gnome, "showing your true colors" means cutting yourself to show that your blood is red and you're not a shape-changer...mind you, whether this custom is based solely on superstition or not is very much left for the DM to decide...



Now apart from political and secular concerns for a character's identity, the deities of Aeliode deserve special consideration - first of all, they may take an active role in the campaign's plot; Secondly, they stem from various pantheons and are generally diverse - taking a cue from Midgard's concept of masks of the gods, they do not sport alignments, being considered above paltry mortal moral concerns, though a typical alignment for worshippers is provided. Even the rather devious or quite simply mad divinities (each of which receives his/her own symbol, by the way) have some kind of revealing quality, with the arguably "most evil" deity falling rather close to what trickster deities in real world religions have wrought. Now interesting would be a distinction among deities - multi-planar deities are the pre-world-creation gods -they span multiple realities and even in death (in one case), make their influence known -here, the classic notion of the world being crafted from the body of a slain deity is reflected. This original sin or "Erblast", if you will, also resulted in the first divine murderer being cursed with what amounts to schizophrenia, but more on this later. Aeliode is not restricted towards these deities - indeed, mortals can attain divinity, though these types of gods are restricted to the prime material plane - which adds the very real possibility of high-level PCs embarking to the planes to slay a god a possibility. Below these, there is another type of deity, one that has a limited area of influence - within the domain of the god (or saint) s/he/it may wield powers extraordinaire, but beyond it, their powers do weaken.

Why is this important? Well, first of all, you can take a cue from Ravenloft regarding story-weaving and this premise. Secondly, the importance of one's heritage and ancestor cults is emphasized as a very distinct option -while not as powerful as true deities and limited in the spells granted, the sheer fact that it works (and that the emperor of Avitian has decreed himself to be a god and worshipped...) provides quite an array of cool options that would tie-in nicely with the classic "Requiem for a God"-style material. Now another interesting concept would be that of an enslaved pantheon - outlawed and defeated, the "Gods of Sorrow", who are anything but evil, make for an interesting option to provide scenarios and metaplot.



Now the entries also provide so-called minor rituals - these can be performed to have a very small chance of attracting the attention of a deity, with the precise effects being left mostly to the DM. Now where the writing in this book hits its undeniable high point is in the creation myth that is provided - here, the scholar can rejoice, for yes, the fully narrated myth can stand its ground. Both in wording and footnotes provided, the concise illusion of a believable genesis myth is provided, depicting the aforementioned original sin and the resulting curse, while in its writing providing even more hooks and ideas to develop heresies around. Now the first murderer-deity (and unwitting creator of the world as they know it), once known as Ocheas, then as Volund was cursed for his unwitting slaying of the mother of creation, cursed with a duality and a new personality, the aspect of Balar - forever changing between the two personalities, his fall also resulted in the creation of the new race herein - the so-called Fomoire. Close to humans, they sport inhuman ability-traits, variyng heights (they may be large!) and should be considered in their violent, yet organized behavior the main threat for civilized nations and the elves in particular - who disperse if more than 10.000 are left in a land, for too high concentrations of them tend to attract the Fomoire... While perhaps a small thing, the fact that they need to drink salt water like other races require fresh water adds a damn cool dimension to the race...and if you haven't noticed it, these guys could be considered a mix of guys from the iron isles, bacchantes and the fomorians - awesome. Oh, and actually balanced.



Now thankfully, Aeliode does not have "common", so some attention to detail is given to languages and secret languages. A new 10-level PrC is also provided with the skald, who receives d10, full BAB-progression, good ref and will-save progression, full spellcasting progression and 4+Int skills per level. These guys can identify monsters per knowledge skills, receiving bonuses and also may wilder spell-selection wise in both bard and druid lists. Personally, I'm not sold on these guys - they receive too much - full BAB, good HD, full spellcasting with increased lists - and honestly, no cool abilities to set them apart. The skald should be required to pay for the increased martial prowess and spell-lists with more than 2 paltry skill points per level. For the first time in a supplement by Mór Games, I have to say that I won't allow this PrC near my table.



The book also introduces a new skill, interrogate, to obtain information and provides rules for so-called "Wars of Words." How do these work? Well essentially, they are a way to codify those endless discussions/roleplaying discussions some groups (mine including) are wont to indulge in. They are performed one-on-one. Each character receives a resolve point score of 5 + int, cha and wis-mod and a very limited array of wit-points, with which s/he can modify throws - the latter is based on level + bonus wit points that scale upwards with increasing levels. The fact that a character receives level wit points could have been more clearly emphasized in the rules here. That being said, each participant selects in secrecy one of various general strategies that have a damage and a defense assigned, which then are revealed to the discussing partners. The partners then start fighting, with the victor reduced to half points meaning a compromise is required. I really enjoyed this system, though it does require additional material - more options and especially the option to properly run it in discussions with more than two participants - while group discussions are mentioned, the suggested solution is rather unsatisfactory, but due to space concerns, the brevity is understandable.



Now what works perfectly is the renown-system that determines access to prestigious places and organizations, while at the same time requiring different celebrations in different lands. On the downside, the more famous, the easier obtaining knowledge about the character is... gaining renown is handled with concise, cool mechanics and fluff - kudos!



Now there is also a third cool system introduced - emergences. these are essentially story-benefits that can be obtained and lost -from breathing water to being able to eat just about anything, rituals, quests, achievements, curses and blessings - emergences are a powerful tool to portray the change of a character,. a glorious story-telling device and perhaps the strongest innovation of the book.



Beyond exceedingly cool, flavorful traits, we also are introduced to an array of damn cool NPCs with high-quality artworks to supplement your Imperiums game. Now a book steeped in so much world lore, we also receive an uncommon 6th chapter - containing 6 typical recipes for the diverse regions. Real recipes. And they actually deliver rather tasty results (at least the Paella-recipe did) - though one recipe should probably not be attempted - it's rather cruel and thematically fitting for the setting, but not for real world reproduction.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as good as in the other Mór Games-supplements - I noticed a couple of easily avoidable blank-space-glitches etc. Not many and not crucial ones, but they're there. Layout adheres to Mór Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous original full-color artworks galore - production-wise, this definitely is a premium product. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the print-version comes on quality paper and the colors remain true - a quality softcover.



William Moomaw's Aeliode has charmed me, I admit to that. The world-weaving of this world is awesome, superb even. The world jumps from the page, feels alive and compelling. Know how good the writing is? I actually, after staring at files and texts all day, took this one to bed with me because I simply didn't want to put it away. I can't wait for more insights into this world and the things to come for it. So that aspect is definitely one that can be ranked among the apex of products and well worth 5 stars +seal of approval. However, roleplaying games are fluff and crunch - art and craft. And in the craftsmanship-department, the relative inexperience becomes somewhat evident. While the new race, the actually relevant traits and the renown system are awesome, the Prestige Class is unbalanced and, sorry to be so blunt -boring. The poor skald needs some unique tricks and balancing. The War of Words makes for a great basic system, but one that could use some finetuning and especially a revision that allows for discussions with multiple participants - it does show promise, but it feels somewhat unpolished.



Now these gripes apply to the minority of the content herein and I'd e.g. be game for a whole book of emergences, more renown benefits etc. - the content that does work, which is the majority, is awesome and this book should be considered a great gazetteer, a promise of the glorious things that hopefully are to come, with enough space to develop all the cool ideas herein. Though it breaks my heart in the face of the GLORIOUS writing, I can't rate this book higher than 4 stars -but still, if you want to see a Roman/Gaelic campaign setting that makes sense, that is different in texture and style, then this should be considered a must-buy.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha
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You're Gonna Die Screaming
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:47:00
An Endzeitgeist.com

This Pay-what-you-want-optimization guide clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so what exactly do we get here?



Firts of all - this is exactly what it says on the tin - an optimization guide. In case you're not familiar with these, usually, a color code of Red, Green, Blue and Purple is applied to skills, feats, spells etc.pp. to denote at a glance the feasibility of options available.



That being said, personally, I'm not too big a fan of optimization to the oomphteenth degree, mainly because some of my players *are* into it - adhering strictly to these can get in the way of making a character rounded, if you adhere too strictly to a guide. Those little touches like your PC being a baker's boy - they don't contribute to the combat capabilities and thus are often left by the wayside. Rogue Genius Games proposed bonus skills per level for exactly such "non-relevant" skills and introducing this house-rule into my game helped quite a bit.



That out of the way, the more pressing question on your mind will probably be "Why play a commoner?" And the pdf delivers answers - in brevity, here are *my* answers, for I have actually already pulled off this stunt. 1) The challenge. My players are extremely capable and taking away all those class features makes for a very challenging game-play less based on system mastery and more on guerrilla warfare and player smarts. 2) Get a perspective. I do like my main campaign (the non playtesting one) gritty and beyond 15-point-buy, players are wont to forget *why* those commoners keep on buggering them to kill threat xyz - even 15-point-buy heroes are exactly that - HEROES. This means they have so much more capabilities to deal with threats than average joe. Playing a commoner can make that apparent and drive home the reason why those guys don't deal with threats themselves. 3) Go for a tactics-high game. Every item, every purchase in a commoner game is relevant - each little bonus precious. 4) A change of pace. The PCs have been captured and those guys they saved time and again may now be their only hope - as an alternative to a TPK, the "PCs are captured"-scenario that has the players save their characters via commoners is better because the adversary not necessarily has underestimated the PCs, but failed to take those nameless, faceless losers into account - and that, ladies and gentlemen, is rather easy to justify and believe...



So these are my basic suggestions, so what does the pdf offer - well, essentially an optimization break down of attributes, core races, skills - one by one, with feasible and well-thought suggestions. It should also be noted that general combat styles (as in not-style-feats) receive their break-downs - suddenly those light crossbows and halfling slingstaffs don't look so bad anymore, don't they? Fascinating, what a few lacking attributes, feats and proficiencies can do...



It should be noted that even non-recommended styles d receive concise break-downs of options to make them work. Traits mainly are glanced over, with highlights pointed out.. Beyond these options, advice on granting at least a bit of starting gold, weapon-selection and magical/mundane items rounds out this pdf.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard with artworks ranging from b/w to full-color and being stock as far as I could tell. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



This is intended as a teaser and first introduction to the matter at hand for author J. M. Perkin's "The Adequate Commoner" kickstarter to making commoners not suck...so much. As an optimization Guide, it does a decent job and is actually a good read, though you should be aware that it does not go through all options available at the level of detail found in some guides online - it can be considered a basic optimization guide that is well-written and actually fun to read. It offers smart advice for truly low-power-level gaming and as such can be considered a well-crafted book. This being a "Pay what you want"-file, it can be obtained for free, though I do suggest some sort of donation. But how much? Basically, this guide is good at what it is intended to do - it's a teaser, a help, an introduction and does that job well. If you have expected a full-blown, ultra-detailed 100+page guide of covered options, well, then this pdf does not deliver - surprise.



What it's intended to do, it does well and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 pages, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
You're Gonna Die Screaming
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Legendary Classes: Illuminatus (PFRPG)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 03:53:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is the chaos illuminate or Illuminatus? First of all, the class would need to be non-lawful. It receives d6,4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 1/2 BAB-progression, good ref and will-saves and spellcasting of up to 9th level via a unique spell-list. Speaking of spellcasting - while it does work via cha and spontaneous, the casting works different than for any other class - Illuminati don't cast regular spells, rather learning to cast so-called wonders instead. Each wonder is associated with a d8-throw: Wonders are cast as a standard action with V, S and F -F? Yes, for to cast spells an illuminate requires a so-called implement, which they not only require to cast wonders, but also to use marvels, the first of which they acquire at 2nd level, +1 every 6 levels thereafter, depending on the implements the illuminate uses. Marvels are full-round action and of a varying ability type, hence adhering to different base-rules - save-wise, these adhere to the 10 +1/2 class level + cha-mod formula.



What about the chaos-aspect, you ask? Well, it's simple - each casting of a wonder is accompanied by a roll of d8, with a 7 or 8 meaning that the respective illuminate can control the wonder to produce any effect. Otherwise, the illuminate has no control over the effect the wonder produces. However, the illuminate *does* have control on where the spells resulting from the wonders go off, allowing for a certain modicum of control. It should be noted that metamagic and item-use purposes et al have been covered in the system..and that this is not where the class ends.



The illuminate also receive a 1/day reroll of a d20, +1 re-roll at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 3+cha-mod times per day, the illuminate may also re-roll wonder-rolls or re-draw cards for abilities of magical item purposes (which adhere to a chaotic rule-set akin to that of casting wonders...) , should you choose to utilize cards when playing the class.



Now at 4th, 6th, 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th level, the illuminatus receives a so-called attainment, which essentially can be considered as the talents of the class, with the list being expanded by greater attainments at 10th level and even more with superior attainments, which are unlocked at 16th level. Attainments generally can range from reliable spell-like abilities (with interesting mechanics, like a 1-hour cool-down) and also contain interesting options that allow for a kind of primal flux (a wonder like fluctuation), duplication of an effect by subsequent re-castings of wonders on rounds following an individual cast. The attainments provided are extremely diverse and allow for quite a different array of builds, more so than one would expect from such a class.



Now in Purple Duck Games' awesome tradition, we receive more favored class options than in any other supplement - psionic races, dragonkin, Fehr's Ethnology-races, ARG-races - heck, even living ghuls and grindylow are covered. The FCOs span more than two pages - yeah, rather neat! Two thumbs up!



Now I already mentioned implements - these are important beyond acting as a focus, also influence, somewhat like bloodlines, the selection of wonders available to the illuminate -from books to bottles, cards etc., a total of 8 such complex suites being provided, the implements also defining the capstone marvels. The respective spell-lists of illuminati are hence all micro-tables of 6 possible spell-effects that are provided by school - for each spell-level. Mishap-effects, extensions of class abilities, chaotic metamagic and increased control over wonders can all be achieved with the selection of new feats. Unlike many similar supplements, the feats more often than not, do not require illuminatus class levels, allowing other classes to dabble in chaotic powers.



Speaking of which - the opportunity and wonder cleric subdomains, 3 mishap-centric rogue talents, the primordial wildblooded sorceror mutation and the arcane experimenter wizard archetype make sure that chaotic magic that is less predictable does not remain the providence of the illuminatus. Warping magic and adding mishaps as injury to the insult of having your spells dispelled, generating wild magic zones - the new spells herein do come in a nice variety and magic items like coins that either summon good or evil outsiders and knucklebones that generate catastrophes also add a bit of excitement to the game.



Beyond even these supplemental pieces of information, we actually do receive 2 universal mythic tier abilities to influence fates and duplicate mythic spells with wonders - and we also receive support for groups utilizing hero points in the guise of 3 unique attainments in addition to the vast array provided, as well as one exclusive subdomain. Finally, a sample character of 1st level completes this extensive, massive class book.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with purple accents and the pdf does sport some thematically-fitting full color artworks, though you may know some of these from other sources. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Author David Nicholas Ross tries his hand at one of the more complex themes one can tackle regarding spellcasting - getting chaos magic right. On the one hand, you want a system that by design, delivers unexpected results, while still maintaining enough control to keep the class useful and relevant in game. Balancing the wonders and the associated spells among them must have been a rather challenging endeavor and the addition of attainment and their structuring in 3 different classes of power-levels as well as the abilities granted by implements allow for an array of different options to properly exert *some* control over the playing field. Beyond being mechanically interesting and innovative, the class delivers supplemental content galore that goes above and beyond making the concepts feasible for just about every world. Small fluff-boxes, feats and chaotic caster-level adjustments, mishaps - all these add another, neat dimension to the topic at hand and help bring the unpredictability back into magic. The illuminatus is a great class with cool options and one that is actually more complex than one would expect - the moving parts are neatly tied together, the class is easy to grasp and difficult to master and there are not that many classes of this high caliber out there. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - add some chaos into your magic and make it feel magical and weird again!


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Illuminatus (PFRPG)
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Underworld Races: Drow
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 03:52:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this installment of the Underworld Races with a general subterranean origin-myth for the races that inhabit the lightless depth of Aventyr - which can, coincidentally, be introduced with relative ease into other settings. Now part of this myth is the origin of the most famous of subterranean, evil races - the drow. The dichotomy and splitting of the elven races takes a more classic turn in the example of Aventyr than in Golarion's take on being drow. The association with spiders and poison in the prominence of the Goddess Naraneus, a matriarchal society -all classic elements one may or may not like are in here.



In a nice twist, female and male drow receive different minor modifications to their skill sets and the favored class options provided are nice as well, though personally, I would have loved to see a gender-divide there as well. In a slightly problematic formatting decision, there are no new racial rules immediately following the header that announces them and we instead follow up with information on new equipment - either something got cut out here or the formatting is problematic.



Now drow receive some rather awesome alchemical items that massively influence the fighting styles of drow - from web shackles to webbing that may attach weapons via webbing to arms (great versus disarming or after throwing weapons) to the special ink and paper drow use make for cool options. Shadowy water that increases the potency of the stealthy drow, soldier's rations and mage hand-utilizing gloves.



A total of 6 racial feats provide drow with further tricks -requiring less sustenance, receiving bonuses versus a specific target who managed to elude your wrath, a grudge-feat versus surface elves and one to master feinting with drow weapons make for nice ideas - especially arachnid acrobatics is cool - for an acrobatics-check, the drow temporarily receives a climb speed - yes, spiderman would be jealous.



The pdf also provides a new domain, the drow domain - the domain abilities allow the cleric to sheathe weapons in negative energy and take damage to improve the senses of the cleric - which per se is a cool ability. Taking damage for improved sight is cool...alas, as soon as a drow is undead, this ability has the unintended consequence of being a free, unlimited, if slow, healing option. Granted, since the duration of the improved sight is tied to the damage taken, the sight component becomes nigh useless, but who'd care?



This domain also provides a grand total of 9 new exclusive spells that allow you to render targets flat-footed for one round, clothe yourself in shadow or step through the shadows and even provide some protection against light-based attacks. What about making high-level undead that retain some of the capabilities of the deceased's capabilities while they still had their mortal coil. The level nine spell is particularly nasty in the negative energy, ability damage and regular damage the spell deals - still (with leeching), the amount feels somewhat less than what I would have expected at ninth level - especially since the ribbons require touch attacks.



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.



Mike Myler & Julian Neale's drow-sourcebook provides some nice options and especially the items herein can be considered truly awesome. The information on the society, items and some of the tricks the drow offer here are universally compelling and cool...but that being said, the domain just isn't inspiring. It's not bad, but neither is it glorious. While greatness can be found here, e.g. in the weapon webbing, the arachnid acrobatics etc., the pdf is a bit on the short end and for that; I do think that e.g. a glorious beast like the dvergr's underminer or similar truly mind-boggling content would have helped this pdf. As written, it is a good, if not particularly remarkable book on drow and well worth a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Drow
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101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:40:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a more than massive array of 45 pages, so let's take a look!



The 101 Not So Random Encounters-series has been a delight to read - beyond just adding certain creatures, it provides iconic creatures and NPCs, ranging throughout the CRs (in this case from CR 23 to CR 1/3). The basic, central benefit of these encounters, though, would be that they essentially tell a story that is linked, should you choose to use them in conjunction.



While the statblock of the CR 23 Vine creature hamadryad druid 8, Vessa Broadleaf, may be a glorious build, what makes this book awesome goes beyond that - she essentially is the mastermind behind the conspiracy of which the respective encounters are components and each of the individual encounters tie in with others, making this essentially a massive, huge collection of diverse encounters that, by design can be woven into a tapestry of a campaign...or a subplot thereof.



Which brings me to the second component of this pdf one should know about - the campaign-spanning meta-plot implied by these encounters ties in perfectly with Kingmaker - this is an AP-plug-in if ever there was one. Especially in Kingmaker, this makes sense - with a metaplot that takes a backseat in favor of Kingdom-building rules, the interwoven encounters, when applied to the AP, net a sense of cohesion of the metaplot that is not particularly pronounced in the otherwise great AP.



Now don't get me wrong - the massive conspiracy (which I try to avoid spoiling in this review), can stand on its own - this supplement essentially delivers enough plot to act as a whole, full-blown campaign. Now another thing I can tell you without spoiling the awesome writing, would be the fact that not all encounters belong to the same monolithic entity of an organization - rather than that, some of the creatures herein are generally opposed to one another, with an array of them serving as foils and red herrings for the true end-game of the hamadryad.



Beyond a neat assortment of cool encounters and fluff-only write-ups, we also, quite often, in fact, receive cool and relatively complex statblocks...and unique creatures. What about Mandragora swarms? Or the dread irlgaunt? What about an accelerated giant swamp eel or the Blodeunwedd with their allergen auras? Fiendish plants that collapse into brown mold? It should also be noted that a two-page appendix reprints e.g. Black Rots and Living Lakes for those not owning ToHC, making the pdf rather user-friendly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column full-color standard, with nice borders of a thematically-fitting extract of stock art. The pdf comes with a plethora of different full color artworks that fit the theme. I have not seen any of the artworks before in other publications, so kudos for that.



Mike Welham's massive collection of encounters is perhaps the single most inexpensive, easy way to make the Kingmaker AP more awesome - and its essentially a rough draft for a whole AP in one neat book. It's functionality does not end there, though, for thankfully the ideas for these glorious encounters can easily be scavenged for just about any woodland/forest/swampy environment, taken apart - even on their own, the encounters rock. I did my very best to prevent spoiling the meat of these awesome encounters, but rest assured this collection is simply glorious - and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval . This vastly improves Kingmaker et al. and should be considered one of the best bang-for-buck-ratios to improve an AP.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
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Faerie Mysteries
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:37:27
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 2 pages of introduction/editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



One problem fey-based modules have when faced with my standards regarding fey is that the creatures ought to be familiar, yet weird, strange, yet familiar - and that a sense of otherworldly timelessness ought to pervade an encounter with fey - something rather difficult (at least from what I've seen...) to accomplish. The introduction and the respective concerns shows a concern for that otherworldly intrusion into reality we consider weird, of what makes fey strange and dangerous -and the rules follow up:



A new type of hazard is introduced to represent this weirdness, so-called fey impulses, which are categorized into 3 types, from rumors, to ripples and ruptures, each adheres to a different severity, with rumors being similar to figments and glamers and the more powerful fey impulses also influencing the mind of those subjected to them. Akin to traps or haunts, fey impulses may be quenched before they manifest, only they do require a different resource - enchantments and illusions, as the types of magic mostly associated with fey, are instead used to represent the forces to quell the fey impulse and, much like a haunt, it may re-manifest unless it is defeated for good.



Now such a system of course needs comprehensive guidelines for the DM to implement and this delivers in spades in that regard, without expecting the DM to do all the work - from CR 1/2 to CR 10, quite an array of options is provided - from a bridge automatically extolling its tithe to a dread hangman's tree emitting waves of all-encompassing despair to a maze in a maze (be sure to read Shirley Jackson's modern classic "The Sundial" for a great idea on how to narrate this one's effect...), the respective impulses are awesome, but by no means everything contained within these pages.



A total of 22 events with codified rules are contained herein - think of these as either bullet-point encounters or even adventures -from nods to "The Great God Pan" to essentially a Rybalka's narrative in a box to a mansion inhabited by a possible bride to the fey to a fey's version of Neddful Things - the ideas contained in these pages are massive and extensive and all but the most burnt-out DMs ought to be inspired by one or more of these - and my skirting around the peculiars of these (and the impulses) is intentional: I do not want to spoil these.



Faeire Creatures ought to be unpredictable, and thus we also are introduced to some variants - take the blackthorn dryad, who is essentially a dryad/kyton mix (including cool, unique signature abilities), the beautiful Green Hag variant Harionna who may fight with dread hooks embedded in her hair (!!!) or the Stormkarl Nixie, bound to a waterfall and emitting those that hear his laments - and yes, fellow aficionados of Scandinavian myths might be grinning right now.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' elegant 2-column full-color standard for Kingmaker plug-ins, though it should be noted that this supplement, more than others, can enrich just about every campaign. The copious amounts of awesome full color artworks are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and hyperlinked, here and there even to inspiring reading material.



I did not expect to like this. After the somewhat mediocre Faerie Passions, I postponed reviewing this to kingdom come and when one patron made a generous donation on my site and asked me to review a couple of Mythic Minis and Mythic Monsters, I made these my priority for LG-files. Well, here I am now and Todd Stewart, Jason Nelson and Alistair Rigg have actually done it - this is one exceedingly glorious, awesome supplement, a hazard toolbox par excellence that is intelligent, cool and iconic - a supplement that can enrich ANY module featuring fey. Breathing the proper sense of weirdness, fey impulses are a simple idea that is easy to grasp and brilliant at the same time, with both toolkit and samples given being just awesome. The variant creatures make for nice icings on this awesome cake and while personally, I would have loved to see even more impulses, I won't hold this against the pdf. Any DM running e.g. "Courts of the Shadow Fey" or similar glorious fey-themed modules should consider this a must-have purchase - 5 stars + seal of approval, given without even a the slightest hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faerie Mysteries
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Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Groves
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:35:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' new Alternate Dungeon-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is this? Well, we've all been there - the oomphteenth cavern/dungeon/mine is only so exciting to explore - sometimes, one needs a change of scenery - and exactly that would be the task of this pdf - it begins with the general scene-setting: Whether by the powers of druids, fey or what have you not - mystic groves are essentially forest dungeons that require special considerations - like flight, the dimension and location of trees, etc. - something the pdf manages to address nicely, while also providing additional complications like making the dungeon sport a confounding haze that limits sight, render the trees intelligent (and the dungeon thus mobile...ouch!) etc.



Beyond these basic considerations, the tracking, underbush, natural hazards, a table of detection DCs to be noticed by wandering monsters while fighting - the advice given is concise, solid and helps prevent glaring oversights that might otherwise have resulted in face-palm-worthy moments.



Now suggestions for appropriate treasure in the guise of materials and alchemical ingredients are provided alongside 3 suggested functions to serve as the reason why the place exists in the first place. Now the cool thing about the dressing table would be that suggested DCs to harvest them are provided - 40-entry-strong (plus an entry for roll twice/thrice) can be found here - from fruit growing animals to crystalline growths to animals being born here with DR, the respective entries have more tie-ins with mechanics than in the dressing-pdfs - which is a good thing in this context.



beyond these, we also receive quite an extensive list of suggested adversaries to use to populate the grove, while suggested traps (including two new ones) allow you to further modify the dungeon alongside glyph of warding-duplicating mold and similar hazards. Should you require further inspiration- while one should probably be called "BLightbringer", not "BRightbringer", the three general hooks are nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as flawless as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks as well as fully bookmarked. Additionally, you receive two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one optimized for the printer.



Alexander Augunas' Mystic Groves are cool - the general idea-kit/tool.kit provided herein make constructing a truly uncommon dungeon relatively easy on the DM and the wealth of ideas is pronounced and nice. However, as an early installment in the series, I also feel that this pdf could have used an additional piece or two - expanded terrain-features to drop in, especially efficient tactics (by PCs and adversaries) to be wary of - something like this. As written, this is an inspiring little toolkit, but one that falls a bit short of perfection and what it could have been. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Groves
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[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Infinyte
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/04/2014 04:35:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Player's Option-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6.5 pages of content, so let's take a look at the Infinyte!



The Infinyte needs to be non-evil with a neutral component and is a 20-level base class that receives proficiency in light and medium armor, shields, martial and simple weapons, full BAB-progression, d10 HD, 4+Int skills per level and good fort-saves.



The Infinyte is also interesting in that the class is built around the hero point system - as champions of the multiverse, they may detect law and chaos and suffer from an interesting quirk: Proximity to other members of their class turns out to be detrimental to their well-being. Now these beings also, much like brooding heroes, receive a side-kick, a so-called consort that strengthens the resolve and prowess of the Infinyte. Now to offset that, DM's receive hero points as well to challenge the infinyte - why? Because the class receives so-called eternal hero points - which REGENERATE. Yeah. Ouch. While not as strong as Arcana Evolved's hero points, PFRPG hero points can still be used to cheat death...



Beyond that, Infinityes can also scavenge in ANY class feature, any class ability via incarnate memory -one at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level - this translates to recalling a talent from a previous incarnation - and can be either a class ability, a feat or skills - in any way, the nigh-non-existent progression makes this cherry-picking kind of workable - a total of 5 levels progression isn't that impressive. Feat-wise, the Infinyte counts as all classes for the purpose of this ability - however, weirdly, the text contradicts itself, once excluding races and once claiming that the infinyte counts as all races for the purposes of taking feats via this ability Some clarification would be in order here. The same goes for the rest of the ability, which, while understandable, could require some explicit statements regarding e.g. saves based on character/class level not scaling (or do they?) etc.



The Infinyte also increases hero points maximu, gains an increasing amount of rerolls of d20s etc. - so far, so good. Where any semblance of balance jumps out of the window would be via the option to, a limited amount of times per day, starting at 6th level and scaling upwards, take a additional round worth of actions - at any point in the initiative order. Not even an action. Not even an immediate action. Urgh. Compared to that, the alignment-spell immunity at 20th level and the DR gained feel a bit like a letdowner of a capstone. Especially when taking into account that the class essentially receives an item of power, a kind of DiY-scaling legendary item that you can develop over the levels - which is awesome. 3 sample items are provided with their level-assigned benefits to give you an idea here.



2 new, hero point based-feats for the infinyte are also provided, as is a comprehensive explanation of the hero point system and a sample level 1 NPC.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, if not perfect -a tad bit more streamlining regarding the rules would really help this class. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity - nice.



Perry Fehr's Infinyte is...AWESOME. Yeah, I know what you're thinking - 2 hero points = cheat death, lot of rerolls, scavenging in weird class abilities...regenerating hero points...how can this be balanced? Well, it kind of is and isn't. The issue is complex, so hear me out - on the one hand, the ability/feat-wildering requires tighter wording, but is damn close to working as *intended.* What do I mean by that? This class represents a champion of the multiverse, a born hero of reality. It is kind of supposed to be a bit off the chains and by its very fluff, it makes the class rather central to a group, which ought to be cleared with all involved, especially the other players. Otherwise, the constant death-cheating will feel unfair.



Now that being said - this class represents a capital H HERO, a champion with all the associated makings - sidekick, nemesis, heirloom item of power, strange tricks no one else can do... I *love* this guy. That being said, beyond aforementioned wording issues, the bonus round should at least cost an action and probably...should be severely restricted. If some kind of time limit beyond the generous hero point regeneration is applied to the amount of times they can cheat death (perhaps based on cha? on HD? Perhaps class level x 1/2?), I would actually see me allow these guys in my game. This, in spite of the relative brevity (if you take away the hero point-explanation, this is short!), should be considered one of the finest classes to come out of the Player's Option-series so far - one intended for mature and high-power groups and players that don't wish to hog the spotlight and certainly not a class for every campaign or group, but also a class unlike any I've encountered so far - in a good way. This has all the makings of a 5 star + seal of approval class, but due to the glitches still present, I will settle, at least for now, on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 3...and remain very expectant of the version in the final book - with some polish, this is a gem.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Infinyte
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The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/04/2014 04:32:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This revised and expanded version of the base-class by Interjection Games clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC (and a story of the genesis of this class - it has been commissioned by Preston Mitchell!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The edgewalker gets 4+Int skills per level, d8, proficiency with simple weapons, short sword, rapier, sap, kukri, shortbow and whip as well as light armors and shields. Over the 20 levels of the class it receives a sneak attack progression from +1d6 to a maximum of +7d6 at 19th level and the class gets a 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. As you can imagine, Uncanny Dodge also can be found among the class features, at 3rd level.



So, what is the edgewalker's deal? The class can be described as a martial artist with a thematic connection to light and darkness - a kind of monk/rogue blend, if you will, and more importantly, one that does not fall by the wayside. Edgewalkers at first level receive thus two pools - the radiance and the shadow pool, both at least containing one point and both using an attribute modifier (wis for radiance, int for shadow) to determine additional points for the respective pools. At 5th level and every six levels thereafter, the edgewalker receives a +2 to maximum pool size that can be freely distributed among the pools (for a net gain of +1/+1 or +0/+2)



Now as a Batman/stealth type of class, receiving evasion relatively soon should not be considered uncommon (2nd level, improved evasion at 11th level, nerfing these two and taking away any lingering sense of these components being problematic) and 6th level edgewalkers receive hide in plain sight as long as they are within 10 feet of a sufficiently large shadow. Moving hide in plain sight further down the class progression was a smart choice, rendering the balance of the class better for it. Now this still makes targeting the edgewalker with spells et al rather difficult - the class is geared rather well towards taking softer targets out.



Now beyond FCOs for core races, drow, aasimar, tieflings, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs and puddlings (all solid), we also receive 4 feats for the class, but these require explanation of the core talent system of the class: Essentially, edgewalkers start the game with two so-called waypoints known, one light, one darkness and at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the class receives an additional waypoint. Now there is a cool restriction in place here - the edgewalker needs to keep a balance between light and darkness, which translates to waypoint selection: If your light-based waypoints exceed those that are darkness-based, you need to learn a darkness-based one next and vice versa, creating a kind of equilibrium. It should also be noted that a couple of these waypoints count as either light, or darkness, depending on your needs.



The new feats can be used to gain a waypoint and do some interesting things - "Harmony of Essence" increases your effective edgewalker level for the purpose of the other type of waypoint whenever you use one, rewarding mechanically the switching between light and darkness. Luminous truth nets you the benefits of true seeing for 1 round as a supernatural effect (an effective caster level or SP as a base type would have been better, probably) and another feat allows you to alleviate one restriction of certain waypoints - some of these have asterisks, which denote that they manipulate the shadow of the edgewalker for the effect. That means only one of these can be in effect at a given time, though aforementioned feat allows you to have two of these in effect at a given time.



Now before I get towards waypoints, you should also be aware that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the edgewalker also receives a greater waypoint, which can be considered a kind of more powerful talent - one that requires some planning, for the greater waypoints also have to adhere to the light/darkness-dichotomy, offering opportunities for proper planning of character progression.



Now you're of course interested in the aforementioned waypoints and the waypoints themselves have diverse prerequisites - from none, to level-caps and other waypoints have certain skills and feats as prerequisites.. Now what can you for example make with these waypoints? Well, since there are more than 50 in here, I'm just going to note that the following is not a comprehensive list, but rather an array of options that should be considered kind of presentational for the class.



Very interesting for blocking charges and the like, "A Thousand Grasping Tendrils" allows you to, as a swift action, reshape your shadow into an array of tendrils that create a micro-aura of 10 feet of difficult terrain around you - which, of course, does not hinder you in any way. Ignoring difficult terrain and effortlessly scaling any incline less than 90° can also be done by these fellows. Another waypoint offers a dazzle against a creature you threaten - sans save, as an immediate action, useable whenever you switch between light and darkness consecutively. Armors of light (that do not necessarily enhance your stealth...), a shaken-causing breath weapon of black wind, 1 round slow at a higher save DC, better stealth, cushioning falls (the longer the fall, the higher the cost), very minor reflexive damage (plus dazzle), creating areas of demoralizing gloom and putting creatures subjected to fatigue-related negative conditions or con-damage/drain to sleep is rather interesting. Why? because for the edgewalker, rolling bad on sneak attack is not necessarily a bad thing: For each natural 1,2 or 3 rolled on such a roll, you also deal one point of con damage if you take the 8th level dark waypoint.



Now where things get interesting would e.g. be with the exceedingly cool ability that lets you set up your shadow as a flanking supplement and, quite possibly for the first time since I've been doing this reviewing thing, gets such an ability actually right. Now, with Ichor of the Firefly, the edgewalker may coat his/her weapons with virulent light that invades the bodies of target, negating invisibility etc., while also providing significant bonus damage, especially against creatures sensitive to light. Making conversely, a poison from darkness itself that scales damage-wise over the levels also becomes a distinct possibility. Speaking of said poison - if you use the dark-aligned poison, you may add a neat combo (though the following is not restricted to the darkness-based poison) that allows you to ignite the poison coursing through your foe's veins, dealing significant fire damage. Damn cool!



The equivalent of solo tactics sans requiring an ally (but only while your shadow isn't otherwise occupied) also makes for a cool array of tactical options. Want to know what's lurking round the corner, in the adjacent room etc.? What about stretching your shadow up to 60 feet and looking through its eyes? This ability, which can be taken at first level, is narrative gold and iconic in imagery!



Of course, various spell-like abilities, poison use, pillars of light that heal minor damage, motes of searing light or making your shadow the equivalent of a kind of bear trap are possible, but for me, the anti-ray/attack-roll spell Tenebrous Tango, which allows you to have spells utterly miss you - think mirror image variant with an edge. At a permanent cost of 1 point from a pool of your choosing, you may also master poisons to the extent they become more potent, making your poisons at +1 DC more lethal - and with quite a few requiring consecutive saves in PFRPG, this makes sense.



Now I did mention those greater waypoints and as you may have imagined, they are the big ones - Summoning forth several shadows from you one - cool. But more interesting would, at least for me, be the game-changer that is Cumulative Exposure - it deals automatic damage to all adjacent creatures whenever you subsequently use two waypoints. Using multiple dark waypoints may also yield bonuses and igniting mundane light sources to emit blinding flashes makes for a cool idea and better light/darkness poison/ichors are lethal and cool - what about e.g. an ichor that makes the target suffer from miss chances galore, but also receive an applicable miss chance as it becomes insubstantial -nice reflection of the duality-theme in the crunch here. Now also rather awesome would be the option to steal other creature's shadows via ranged CMB to power darkness-waypoints. Cool here - the ability manages to properly prevent kitten-bag abuse. Lifelinks also are possible - ouch! Now it should be noted that, although the page-count of the pdf remains unchanged, quite a few stock artworks have been taken out of the file to make room for more waypoints, which is rather cool and adds to the arsenal of an already fun and inspired class. It should be specifically noted that the greater waypoints receiving some awesome tricks - what about establishing a link that damages a target when you are healed? Yeah, evil and oh so cool!



The capstone of the class allows you to use radiance and darkness pool interchangeably, with the on-intended pool only increasing the cost of waypoints by 1 when paid from the other pool - which seems a bit boring at first, but the capstone greater waypoints more than make up for this - raise dead sans material components, ignoring just about all immunities, DRs etc. for a time or having your shadow utterly erase a creature from existence - quite awesome imagery and tricks await at the peak of power as well!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to interjection Games' 2-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The artwork is thematically fitting stock and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort detriment.



This class by Bradley Crouch is rather simple when compared to other Interjection Games-classes and should not overexert anyone's capability to understand it getting the class at first read-through is all but guaranteed. That being said, the edgewalker is more complex than one would assume at first glance - one can set up quite a bunch of rather interesting combos and the synergy with some abilities present in the edgewalker makes for a surprisingly unique playing experience. When I went into this class, I honestly expected either a rip-off of a certain PrC from the 3.X Book of 9 Swords or a slightly more mystical ninja.

What I got turned out to be more rewarding than either. Whereas the ninja-class is essentially a type of rogue on steroids, playing an edgewalker in game, while similar on paper, feels actually much more tactical, more rewarding. The edgewalker is a great skirmisher/trick fighter and surprisingly fun to play. My final verdict is hence based on how the class performed in actual game, on its rather cool playstyle and neat variety - add the option for easy expansion of the system and the easy to grasp mechanics and we have a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval - now that we actually get more content and the rough edges have been polished off, there is literally no reason not to get this cool class and give it a try!



(Especially since I happen to have read the Antipodist, Interjection Games upcoming take on shadow magic, and the classes WILL have some interesting synergy...)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness
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Pure Steam Campaign Setting
Publisher: ICOSA Entertainment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/03/2014 03:33:07
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 226 pages, 1 page front cover, 3 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page backer-thanks, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 216 pages of content, so let's check this out!



So, after a short introductory text, we kick off this massive tome with a treatise on the core-races in the context of the Pure Steam Campaign setting, which translates to each of the core races receiving different ethnicities - usually, this would be one or two distinct sub-species, all with distinct look, culture etc. -and rules-wise, studded with a selection of alternate racial traits to choose from to represent the unique roles they have within the context of the Pure Steam world - did you, for example, know that amber elves tend to be accomplished martial artists? Or that the orcs (here known as Jonnish), are actually accomplished metallurgists and much more civilized? Over all, this chapter provides a neat array of balanced options and enough cultural information for the respective ethnicities, including those of the humans, to make a character feel distinct in the racial choice.



The next chapter then would deal with class options, explaining in detail the roles of the established pathfinder classes within the context of Pure Steam, before delving into the two new base classes, first of which would be the Chaplain, who fluff-wise is much more common in the secular Ulleran nation than clerics. Chaplains get d8, 4+Int skills per level, 1/" BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and light armors and they may cast divine spells spontaneously via charisma, of up to 6th level. It should be noted that chaplains do not require the F or DF-components when casting spells and they also receive Eschew Materials at 1st level, rendering them just about autonomous from material foci for spellcasting. But what is the chaplain's role? Well, first of all, they are the agents of organizations - from a illuminati/freemason/skull-n-bones-style elitist secret order to the botanist red-cross like Treefoil Laurels and the academic agents of the magistracy, tasked to keep society in check and afloat, these organizations could be understood as a kind of chaplain's bloodline - they net class skills, organization spells and specific abilities for the organizations as well. My only gripe with these organizations would be that the class could have used more - this is definitely the point to expand the class.

Being the class of masters of rhetoric, the chaplains are the people who maintain the ideals of civilization and enlightenment - and as such, their very personality and mien carry power - gravitas. Gravitas can be used 1/2 class level + cha-mod times per day - the words inspiring one target who can hear the chaplain, +1 creature for every two class levels. Using gravitas is a supernatural ability that can be activated as a standard action and does not provoke AoOs. Gravitas nets its recipients 1d6+cha-mod temporary hit points, or can be used to inflict the same amount of nonlethal damage to foes on a failed will-save, half on a successful save- these guys can literally talk you into oblivion! Gravitas cannot become lethal damage and temporary hit points do not stack, their interaction working rather fine.



Gravitas scales upwards and increases in potency at 3rd level by +1d6 and continues to scale upwards every 2nd level thereafter. Furthermore, at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that, the class learns one of 25 elocutionary talents - while some are passive and increase the capabilities of the chaplain in various fields, the majority allows the chaplain to modify the gravitas ability - to provide an example, instead receiving class-level + cha-mod temporary hit points, but also a scaling bonus to atk and weapon damage. Increased ref-saves and AC, the corresponding debuff - generally, the gravitas effects are rather neat. Two of these talents deserve special mention - Interdiction and Subjugate. Both have in common that they have an array of options, with interdiction allowing the prevention of readying items, weapons, etc., autonomous movement, spells or spell-like abilities or attacks/hostile actions on a failed save. If this list has not been an indicator - these interdictions are VERY powerful, even though they allow for repeated saves on subsequent rounds. The subjugate talent has a similar array of very powerful options, and both have one thing in common - they're out of touch with the balancing of the other elocutionary talents - they are vastly superior to them. Now I'm not a fan of save-or-suck abilities and these both somewhat qualify for that...though the limited range of gravitas keep me from screaming OP. It's weird, really - the versatility and power of these two options feel somewhat out of line with the other talents Interdiction is a worse offender here, with subjugate being powerful, but still in line. Now this is not enough to break the class, but it does stick out due to the whole rest of the chaplain being pure awesomesauce and one of the coolest classes I've seen in quite a while.



The second new base-class would be the gearhead, who receives, d6, 4+Int skilsl per level, good ref- and will-saves, 1/2 BAB-progression, proficiency with light armors, simple weapons, firearms, exotic crossbows and repeating/hand crossbows as well as any weapon he crafts. Gearhaead also learn contraptions from level 0 to 9, with the amount per day being in line with prepared spellcasting. So what are contraptions? First of all, they require schematics, which can be written into a draft book, akin to book-based spellcasting. Learning new schematics follows guidelines similar to that of wizards learning new spells and generally, they are tied to int as a governing attribute. Now the interesting thing here would be that, unlike spellcasting, a gearhead prepares a limited amount of contraptions per day and then powers them via charges - they receive separate charges for every level, though, making the system a combination of prepared spellcasting and spontaneous spellcasting - while they have to prepare contraptions from their selection, the actual activation adheres to spontaneous spellcasting rules. While complex, the gearhead may hand his contraptions to allies, who can activate them via successful knowledge (engineering)-checks, adding a further level of uniqueness to what otherwise would be a relatively conservative system in its components - the reconfiguration of the systems, though, is nice, unique, and well-explained.

Now you should not be surprise to hear that the Gearhead receives bonuses to Knowledge (engineering) or that he learns to jury-rig items, receives faster crafting/repairing etc. At 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the class receives one innovation from a selection of 5, allowing for the allocation of higher-level activation charges to lower level contraptions, miniaturized contraptions etc. - essentially, the arcane discoveries of the class.



At 1st level, the gearhead also needs to select a scientific specialty (or opt out of that in favor of the physicist specialty) - this specialty nets an additional contraption slot of each contraption level that needs to be filled with a contraption that only utilizes this specialties' schematic sources. The specialties also net unique benefits over the levels. Once again, this is probably where expansion will be easy - only 3 such specialties are provided, though they are cool: Steam blasts and penumatic armors? Now you should be aware that one specialty allows the gearhead to regain charges via electricity resistance, so if a druid or other class receives and eel or similar minor electricity-damage-dealing creature, that means unlimited activations. The pdf mentions "only one charge per encounter", which is bad design - see example, see all my rants à la "Per-encounter makes NO SENSE." Easily cheesed, that one - needs tighter wording.



Now how do contraptions work? Well, essentially it's a relatively simple DiY-system - up to 3 schematics can be combined at higher levels and the more schematics you use for a contraption, the lower is the maximum level - a 4th level contraption could e.g. feature one 4th level schematic or a 3rd +1st level schematic or 3 1st level schematics or a 2nd level +2 0-level schematics - a concise table delivers possible combinations at one glance. You then choose schematics (which have sciences assigned - essentially, the spell schools of the contraption) and saves are 8+ contraption level + int-mod, with save-interaction etc. being explained in easily grasped and concise terms. Special note should be given to the dice-maximum of damage, which prevents cheesing the system while maintaining flexibility. Target schematics allow you to generate cones, bursts, etc., essentially allowing you to modify the "target"-line - augments that increase the level of the contraption are also part of the deal here - bigger bursts, higher levels. It should be noted that both burst and line augments have been errata'd up by +1 level, which the pdf does not yet sport - adding in the errata should be done soonish -having to look for it online is not good customer service. Apart from this grumpy guy complaining here, the amount of effect schematics, which include acceleration, elemental damage, homing beacons, detect-effects, mind-control and the like, make for delightfully twisted ways to tinker and combine the various effects - and yes, teleporting, flight and at the highest level, even time stop, are possible. Over all, a nice, cool system that works better than words of power and similar DiY-systems I've seen. Kudos!



Now of course, a pathfinder book of this magnitude also offers new archetypes, which range from glorious (the poison-gas using fumigant-alchemist with his toxin bombs et al and the moonshiner, to note two) to the okay unarmed pugilist fighter. The barbarian civil bedlamite, driven insane by society and prone to shooting sprees should also be explicitly mentioned not only for the cool fluff, but also for the simply awesome concept. The non-lethal monk-police widowmen also deserve accolades for being so awesome in concept I would wnat to play one, even if the actual rules, while good, could use more unique ki-tricks. I won't go into details here, mainly because otherwise this review will never be done. What I do need to mention is the table of optional class AC-bonus by level based on proficiencies the base class receives, which is generally a nice way to keep classes relevant in settings that sport firearms - the bonus is retained regarding touch AC. Now after doing the math, though, I felt the bonuses too conservative myself, but your mileage may vary.



Where there are archetypes, there are feats, introducing a new subtype with calibration feats - essentially metamagic for contraptions. The default setting assuming a scarcity of clerics and divine healing, the feats herein that improve mundane healing (and even allow for raising the recently deceased, CPR-style) should be considered a godsend for grittier campaign settings (or those where the gods are gone...). Feats increasing prowess in specific fighting styles and class features are also nice, though the absence of a concise feat-table proves to be somewhat of a comfort detriment.



Now the equipment section deserves special mention - while prices are in $, the currency of Pure Steam (with an artwork of said currency, btw.), the prices can easily be converted to gold on a 1 by 1 basis. And the items are awesome - quarterstaffs with gunpowder-blasts generating eds? Check. Elven fragmentation grenade-style arrwos? Check. Gnome rocket pistols? Yeah. Special materials like asbestos and stainless steel or vulcanized rubber are provided alongside one damn cool innovation - manufacturing signatures: Essentially, special manufacturers modify the hardiness, efficiency etc. of the base items purchased, making these a kind of simple templates that can be applied to mundane items - the idea is simple, elegant and downright brilliant, with 6 sample manufacturers provided - to give you an example - you can get cutting edge versions that net bonuses, yes, but at the price of the item breaking on natural 1s. Ferrotype cameras, daguerrotypes (read "House of the 7 Gables", if you haven't...), gas masks, wing backpacks... from telegraphs to penny dreadfuls, this chapter is truly glorious as an idea-mine for any post-medieval setting.



Now there would also be technology -essentially, this chapter provides examples galore to convert magical items of just about every nature and their properties into equivalent technological items, before introducing us to specific examples of technological items like automatic lock picks, dark-vision granting goggles etc. The general ideas here are simple and range from copies of the magic items with a slight twist to new ones. Where I'm a bit stumped here would be in the interaction with magical crafting and magic in general - can they be enchanted etc.? Now don't get me wrong, I get that these are supposed to replace magic, but in a world that sports both, questions of whether these work in e.g. anti-magic fields, can be used to counterspells etc. should be addressed.



Now the next chapter provides vehicles...and had me grin from ear to ear - Gyrocopters and bikes? Valkyria Chronicles-style steam-tanks, war zeppelins... Glorious, I want more! Now personally, I think a house-rule that decreases the imho-too-high driving DCs established in Ultimate Combat makes sense for such a world and I encourage Pure Steam groups to decreaseit to make the most out of these great vessels.



Now the next chapter would be devoted to Ullera, the allotopia of an early America, if one will - flavor-wise between pulp novels, wild west and industrial revolution, rights wise after the civil war, Ullera and its overall flair produce a thoroughly American vision of steampunk surprisingly fresh and captivating to read The continent and its ethnicities, the nations and races in conflict and the overall aesthetics are surprisingly fresh, especially when compared to many a European steampunk-world as crafted, as they often tend to resort to name and event-dropping for the reader to establish a sense of cohesion. Ullera does not require this, painting a sensible, smart political landscape, providing interesting factions (alas, sans prestige-benefits or the like) and even quite an assortment of settlements (with full statblocks) and sample NPCs - enough to kick off a campaign, surely, but the thing is - I'd want seriously more. The setting material is compelling and interesting, yes, but due to the vast amount of pages devoted to the crunch, there simply isn't that much space to develop the setting, leaving us with a great first look, but one that cannot be considered deeper than a broad gazetteer's panorama.



Bestiary-wise, we are introduced to unique flora and fauna and recieve a somewhat eidolonish, very complex and rewarding system to create constructs of various kinds, so-called armatures - this toolkit is fun and well-worth a look for the DM, with cool effects like positive and negative polarity, net-launchers...you name it.



The book also contains the introductory adventure "Trouble in Grassy Spur" for 1st level characters, which I'll give a VERY brief run-down of now, so potential players, please jump down to teh conclusion. From here on reign SPOILERS.



All right, still here? After a short gazetteer of the fully mapped Grassy Spur (which includes a half-pneumatic cat with a nasty temper -who receives a great artwork, that is unfortunately slightly blurry), the PCs are contacted by Mayor Wyatt to foil an anarchist's plan and after a short investigation and a stand-off at the cathedral, the PCs will have to flex their investigative muscles to prevent the bombing if a railroad bridge and a steam wagon finishing the job. Worse, the anarchists have a second team inside the train, so the PCs will have to navigate the train and defeat the remaining bombers on the train, as it hurtles slowly, but steadily towards oblivion.... As a nice mechanical innovation, there are so-called exploits provided - these represent temporary buffs for achievements that are just cool or bonus XP - neat!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is surprisingly good - especially for a book of this size, by a new company, the relative lack of rules-ambiguities, punctuation errors etc. is astounding - the editors did a good job. Layout (by Jameson McMaster)adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous, two-column standard with full color-borders, but not background. The tome features a vast array of different artworks in b/w - Mates Laurentiu, Alejandro Lee and Chris DeHart have all managed to adhere to one uniform style that provides a unique and cohesive look for the book. It should be noted that almost all NPCs, archetypes, vehicles, etc. and beyond receive their own artworks, all original. That's impressive indeed and rest assured that only one of the artworks (in the module) is a bit blurry - all other artworks are crisp indeed. Speaking of which, cartography goddess Alyssa Faden (& Robert Altbauer)'s maps are awesome as well and fit in perfectly with the tone set by layout and artworks, though I wished there was a key-less version of the adventure's map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The hardcover is a solid book crammed full of content to the brim - the spine feels a tad bit small for the book, but binding is solid and the paper is thick and high-quality - nothing to complain there.



When I backed this book as a KS back in the day, I never expected to see the book. A new publisher, sans new work, asking for a significant sum? Pff. Yeah right. And then, suddenly, this hit shelves. I postponed reading it, admittedly, mainly because crunch-intense books are a huge workload at this length and because I didn't think the inexperienced ICOSA Entertainment company had much to offer. I am glad to have been proven wrong.



Adam Crockett, Brennan Ashby, Davin Perry and L. James Wright have crafted an array of options I consider truly impressive - the Chaplain in particular hitting my soft spots VERY hard - I'd love to see expansions of that one. The Gearhead's contraptions and class design also proved to be much more watertight than I anticipated and the system introduced there is fun indeed. The setting itself is compelling, intriguing, and offers inspiration and fodder galore as well. That being said, once one takes to analyzing the content, here and there some rough edges show up, some of which I highlighted in the review. While these are in the minority and their scarcity being impressive at a book of this length, they still are there. Aloe, though, they would have not been enough to be considered a true detriment, which should be considered a testament to how utterly professional this tome is crafted in all regards. That being said, personally, I think the interaction magic/technology and the conversion of magical into technological items could have used more room, more peculiarities to grow - the touched upon "batteries" of these items, codified in rules or a direct opposition à la Amethyst Renaissance would have been cool to see - as written, that chapter proved to be a relatively conservative reskin.



The crucial, one issue of Pure Steam is a different one - the book does not really know whether it wants to be a core-book or a campaign setting. Much like Alluria Publishing's Cerulean Seas, the setting-information feels more like a tack-on than it should, especially since here, the focus on the setting is much more pronounced. It is my firm conviction, that separating this into two books, one for all the crunch (and more than 3 paltry chaplain organizations, more than 3 gearhead specialties) and one containing a full-blown, detailed campaign setting, would have benefitted both components of the book - on their own, the respective parts are awesome, but both leave you feeling that you only have an incomplete picture of what is going on, of not getting the whole. It should be at once deemed a testament to the virtues of this book that both crunch and setting left me wanting more, and as the crux of it trying a bit too hard to be both massive core tome and setting-supplement, landing somewhat between the chairs.



It is more this, than the relatively scarce glitches, that keep Pure Steam from receiving my highest honors - this book is currently THE definite steampunk resource for pathfinder, with production values of the higher echelons and great ideas galore. It should also be considered a first step into the captivating world woven, one that hopefully will see supplemental material in the years to come. My final verdict will clock in at a heartfelt 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 and a must-buy recommendation for all fans of steampunk.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Pure Steam Campaign Setting
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Compendium Arcanum Volume 1: Cantrips & Orisons (PFRPG)
Publisher: d20pfsrd.com
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/03/2014 03:31:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD, 1 page "Thank you for buying note", leaving us with 14 pages of content, so what is this actually about?



Yet another spellbook? No, actually, this is something different. Remember Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved? One of the better d20-systems and variants of Dungeons & Dragons released in the 3.X days of old, its spells had a particular, rather rewarding mechanic- they could be cast in two additional ways - one heightened and one diminished way, each modifying the spell's level by +1/-1 respectively. The effects were modified thus and the overall result was a more interesting spellcasting system, especially with regards to counterspelling. Fast forward to Pathfinder.



In this book's pages, we are introduced to an array of cantrips and orisons (which have no diminished effects, already being 0-level spells), which can thus be upgraded to 1st level. The pdf contains all cantrips and orisons from the core rules, the APG, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat, all upgraded and studded with the heightened effects. Now the respective spells are organized by letters and the heightened effects per se are interesting - take acid splash: Its heightened version allows you to hold the orb of acid for exactly 1 round - any longer, and its blows up in your face. However, if you hold it for 1 round, it instead deals 1d4 points of damage AND 1 point of str-damage. While usually I'd complain about low level attribute damage, the cost of holding the orb and planning make this a valid option. Killing word-count/space-limitations, dealing damage to elemental/ [fire]-subtype creatures via create water, rolling a faster detect magic into one spell with identify, ability to detect poison behind thin barriers... Have I mentioned programming ghost sounds? Or affecting magical objects with mage hand?



It is rather surprising, really, to see so many small options adding rather than detracting from story-telling potential, with just about every option making the respective cantrip/orison MUCH more interesting and versatile.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column, mostly b/w standard with thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with excessive, nested bookmarks and the pdf comes excessively hyperlinked.



D20pfsrd.com Publishing has in my opinion a great series at their fingertips here - in contrast to some of the more problematic first products of the company, this one looks professional, has solid rules-language and sports a lack of glitches I consider the hallmark of a good pdf. Author Timothy Wallace delivers a pdf that is humble, yes, and its premise looks boring, doesn't it? Well, it's not. Contrary to what one would expect, namely to pay for miniscule new content and double for the spells, the modifications enrich the respective cantrips and orisons to an extent that is more than awesome and enriches one's game. My only gripe with this book would be that it's not a massive tome of all spells, including 3pp-spells...Hey, one may dream, may one not? ;P Seriously, this is one of those little, humble pdfs that just are cool and fun and it made me rather excited about future installments of the series. Not all is perfect, though: I do think that the pdf ought to explicitly spell out how counterspelling, CL, metamagic etc. works with heightened/diminished spells for those not familiar with Arcana Evolved et al. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down by a margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Compendium Arcanum Volume 1: Cantrips & Orisons (PFRPG)
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Veranthea Codex: Braxthar Grimdrahk, Scientific Innovator - FREE PDF
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2014 09:32:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This free preview of the Veranthea Codex clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content so let's take a look, shall we?



Without much ado and aplomb, we dive into the new Scientific Innovator archetype. Instead of extracts, these fellows generate serums - which become extraordinary effects at 10th level! Instead of mutagens and the Hyde-style that accompanies these fellows, they instead turn to dabbling in gunslinging and thus also may elect to choose grit feats in lieu of discoveries - this is optional, mind you! At 11th level, the class even receives a limited grit pool based on int (as opposed to amateur gunslinging) and as a capstone, the class may generate antimagic devices. But before I get to these, wait a second - the archetype receives its own serum-list, yes, but in a smart move, spells not on the list can stlll be included - at VERY high costs.



Now I've mentioned devices - the scientific innovator can make essentially the non-magical equivalent of magical items with this feat, the archetype mastering these tricks even more thanother characters taking the feat.



The eponymous Braxthar Grimdrahk turns btw. out to be a dwarven alcemist 6 (scientific innovator) and comes with full-blown statblock and background, as well as two devices - an invisibility purging lantern and snares and pits and traps detecting array of lenses that can reproduce the effects of the two spells.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the drop-dead-gorgeous full-color standard of Veranthea and the pdf sports beautiful full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.



Brian Wiborg Mønster delivers a cool character and nice supplemental material - the serums are a unique take on alchemy and the idea of devices can easily be further expanded. Oh, and this is FREE. You quite literally have no reason not to get this fellow to use or scavenge for pieces - and as a free preview, as something given away, this is 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Veranthea Codex: Braxthar Grimdrahk, Scientific Innovator - FREE PDF
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The Five Families: Criminal Organizations for Every Campaign World
Publisher: Adamant Entertainment
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2014 04:33:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 40 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We kick off this pdf with a short introduction and then delve into generating an organization - which is surprisingly simple: Organizations receive stats, just like characters. These would be Force, Response, Resources, Information, Magic and Influence - if you haven't noticed by now: They are rather self-explanatory and analogue to a character's attributes. Now hit points for such organizations are interesting - they are calculated via members, strongholds etc. and high-level members provide more hit points. Loss of members via events etc. is covered with concise rules, as is an organization making skill-checks. Since it represents a pooling of resources, skills used take longer, but quite probably also yield rather nice results. From obtaining a mount to diverse levels of military support and making requests, the list here is pretty concise, makes sense and in-game, turns out to be working rather well. Much like characters, organizations may take feats - organization feats. A total of 15 of those are provided and my only gripe here would be that I would have loved to see this expanded much, much further. So these basic rules out of the way, let's take a look at the sample families created, shall we?



The first would be the House of Nath, which, like all organizations herein, comes with full stats and background information. This one would be a powerful criminal syndicate, appropriate for a large city or metropolis. The curious reader will also notice that no less than 4 sample NPC-builds with full stats are provided - from the lowly street-thug to the boss. While the statblocks lack the respective CRs, they do come with XP and all other relevant information. Beyond these nice builds, we also get information on the manse of the family, their signature sleep-inducing magic saps and 4 adventure hooks provide even further inspiration. While the manor's maps in full color are aesthetically perhaps not the best maps one could ask for, the sheer fact that the stronghold is mapped already is a nice bonus in my book - so kudos!



Now if you were looking for something more out there, what about the second organization, the Carnival of Air - devoted wholly to the grand game of cons. With dreamweavers, fireworks and illusions galore, this mobile organization brings something completely different to the table - once again, with fully mapped carnival's grounds, an AWESOME piece of b/w-art for the kitsune lord of the place and two damn cool signature magic items. And that's before the neat hooks. Two thumbs up ! (Even though no carnival will ever come close to my love for a certain evil one in the Scarred Lands...)



The third family is no less awesome - the "Daughters of Repose" as a secret organization of all-female assassins in service to the Deity of Death - you can't contact them, you donate and pray and hope they'll hear your prayers and end the target - especially if said target has been brought back from the dead. After all, we can't have those folk try to prolong their allotted time now, can we? Now these killer-nuns become even more awesome once you realize they can meld weapons via a new special quality with their bodies...Lethal, iconic in imagery...neat.



Now the Minders could be considered a conglomerate of academics, scholars and those embittered by those in power - all devoted to dragging the ugly, pesky secrets into the open and profit from them. Think "The Riddler", Wikileaks or just an extortion ring meets paparazzi, all combined with massive intelligentsia. Yeah, if the DM plays these guys right, the result will be nasty for the players...Have I mentioned the magical tape recorder brooch?



Now the final organization would be the Skrinn - think Warhammer's Skaven ratfolk gone full-blown sewer-drug-dealers - living in subterranean cities long buried and build over, this syndicate deserves special mention for a small array of nice traps to add to the 3-pages of dungeon levels that constitute their warrens. plus, I always liked evil ratfolk, so this is another winner for me. Add to that grappling liquid and sleep-inducing smoke and we have another neat one.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are better than in most Adamant-books I've seen so far and actually good - not much to complain on that end. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w artworks range from stock art to beautiful pieces I haven't seen been. The maps are okay and do their job, but come sans player-friendly ones, which is a pity. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a major comfort detriment.



Author Peter Aperlo delivers an easy-to-grasp, concise system for handling organizations, any organizations, really, herein and then trumps it with 5 awesome sample organizations full of interesting statblocks and even maps to supplement them. I...I didn't expect this, but I really, really loved this book. Sure, there could be more organization feats. (And why stop there - go for TRAITS as well - only dwarves, only elves, drug-focus etc. - the possibilities to expand the system are endless!) And what I'd give for proper synergy with the downtime-rules from Ultimate Campaign to get a full-blown organization stronghold-kit... Or for a guideline for Prestige Awards/tie-in with the request-system...



But honestly, you can make this synergy work out yourself. The organization-as-character-system is simple, easy to grasp, remains firmly in the DM's control and does not invalidate characters, but allows you to depict full-blown shadow-wars, campaigns in which powerful organizations are the adversaries of the PCs, etc. This book is surprisingly glorious. Yes, it has some glitches. No bookmarks. And overall, these formal nitpicks add up. But it's still just...awesome. Inspiring and immensely useful. Note that these rules can easily make a village, a thorp etc. a character-like entity as well!



This is one of those humble, overlooked underdog pdfs I just love - and it should have so much more exposure. While I can't rate this in the highest echelon due to formal, NOT writing/quality-issues, I still can recommend the hell out of this damn fine, cool supplement - even if you ignore the organization-creation-rules and just go for the organizations themselves, this offers ample bang for your buck due to the cool ideas, neat characters and generally iconic options these families bring toa campaign. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at an unusual 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 and still add my seal of approval as a sign of my personal love for this beast.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Five Families: Criminal Organizations for Every Campaign World
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Gossamer Worlds: Ossuary Empire (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/02/2014 04:30:11
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now the eidolon is often considered to be the safer side of forces in LoGaS - this is an example why that is a gross and inaccurate reduction. Thematically based roughly around ancient quasi-Persian myths in style, once this place was ruled by the dîv - manifestations of eidolon that subsumed all in perfect order, only to wage war upon one another in the end. Oh, and the final two standing were nuked with a neutron bomb.



In this world wracked by deicides, the bones of the dîv as powerful artifacts (who get their own rules!) now act as a type of much-clamored for relic to access the vast power lost - essentially, we have a post-apocalyptic sword & sorcery world here with conan-level technology interspersed with potential super science from other worlds. Worse, much like the behiliths from the legendary Berserk-manga, the div-bones tend to change the creatures they come into contact with, adding the mythic nephilim to the roster - self-styled children of the gods and heirs apparent to the thrones of the erstwhile masters...who cares if the nephilim is a vast serpentine monstrosity? It has power! Add to that the Diamond Padisha and yes, the legendary league of assassins and we have a great blend of arabian nights, sword & sorcery and post-apocalyptic survival on a tomb planet. Yeah. AWESOME.



That being said, a general idea for the power-level of individual Nephilim (two of which are btw. rendered in gorgeous full-color artworks...) would have been much appreciated by yours truly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's full-color two-column standard for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf comes with glorious, thematically fitting original pieces of artwork, with the awesome cover also coming as a glorious full-page artwork herein. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, which is nice to see, even at such a short length!



Matt Banach's Ossuary Empire is one AWESOME world...and honestly one I'd love to play a whole campaign in - the grit, super technology, uncommon focus, sword & sorcery stale - all appeal to me excessively and make for one awesome world. However, the general lack of information on what the nephilim can be expected to do feels like a somewhat unnecessary oversight to me. While only a nitpick, this omission is the one thing that keeps me from slapping my seal of approval on this. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.



(Now can I please have this one redone as a full-blown 200+pages campaign setting for either LoGaS, DCC or PFRPG? Please?)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: Ossuary Empire (Diceless)
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