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Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:26:02
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for Journeys to the West clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/patron-list, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



The first new piece of content would be the island Astiharha - shaped like an eye, with the portal of shadow in the middle, this exotic locale not only sports quarreling (shadow) fey, but also e.g. elemental creatures, a castle of sand that is modified daily and a truly odd bazaar - complete with settlement statblock. We also are introduced to the benevolent pixie rogue and his malevolent boogeyman foil, a powerful nymph druid and even a shaitan fighter - solid, nice statblocks to supplement this weird, cool place. Have I mentioned the direct shadow road to Zobeck located here? If I may - some of Rite Publishing's great "Faces of the Tarnished Souk" might also make for great additions to the weird peddling that is going on here.



Next up would be Cystoseira, the Green Wheel of the West, where the fey-demigoddess Thetis lies imprisoned below Sargassum fields that are in constant flux. Floating villages, an aquatic jungle, a village crafted from a plethora of wrecks while sea-knights riding hippocampi secure the perimeters above and below the waters of another of the three detailed settlements there. The cobweb castle that houses Thetis comes with a nice sample CR 5 trap - and yes, a shambling mound oracle also ranks among the inhabitants of this place. Have I mentioned the diving bell spiders that not only are intelligent, but can also be made to share their air supply for perhaps one of the coolest ways to travel beneath the waves I've seen in quite some time.



We also get a shorter primer on the island of King's Rest -essentially a fantastical holiday resort for the rich and powerful. And yes, I love this idea - just take a look at earlier times: Holidays and vacation, while much less common in earlier days, are no new invention and it is more than conceivable, that in a world with magic, a progression of this idea beyond the expected manner makes sense.



We also get 5 detailed NPCs, including a minotaur oracle and northlander multiclassed characters. Beyond NPCs, we also are introduced to new monsters that include mimic-like beings masquerading as ships, shark-like fang drakes, the oil drake and the cute, if slightly disturbing one-eyed salt mouse that can drain salt from its opponents - not too impressive alone, but swarms of them...another matter completely!



It should be noted that all monsters come with great artworks and that we also get a fully mapped galleon (with top-down and side-view depictions) and a glorious two-page map of the Western Ocean of Midgard - sans the maps in this books, though.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor editing and formatting glitches, but nothing too serious. The layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-color standard of Journeys to the West and the book comes bookmarked for your convenience. Both the maps for the 2 mayor islands and the ocean as wella s the original pieces of artwork are beautiful -especially for a web-enhancement-style support supplement not something I would have expected.



The team of designers Christina Stiles, Morgan Boehringer, Jarrod Camiré, Andrew Christian, Andrew Durston, Heleen Durston, Maggie Hoyt, Dawson Kriska, Chad Middleton, Christina Stiles, Matthew Stinson and Brian Suskind have created one glorious book here, one well worth the wait - this book brims with the biggest strength of Kobold Press - its myth-spinning, the glorious fluff, the sheer unfettered potential of ideas too iconic to ignore. Any campaign featuring islands, whether it be "Skull & Shackles", "Razor Coast", "journeys to the West", "Savage Tide" - it doesn't matter. This pdf and its ideas make for superb addition to any campaign that can potentially feature iconic islands. While here and there a minor glitch has crept in, the amount of unique and exciting places and ideas simply trumps all potential misgivings, makes this a joy to read and impossible to nitpick for me. Roleplaying games are, to be, more than anything, about ideas and creativity and any book that can incite m imagination like this did, deserves highest accolades - my final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bosun's Booty: Extras for Journeys to the West (Pathfinder RPG)
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[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Hetaera
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:23:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This new class clocks in at 14 pages , 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10.5 pages of content, so what does this class deliver?



The Hetaera gets d8, 6+int skills per level, a custom proficiency list (including light armors and bucklers), 3/$ BAB-progression, good ref- and will-saves and spontaneous divine spellcasting via Cha of up to 6th level spells from a custom list. Now what's VERY interesting is a very powerful ability, that still has a limit -service spell. Per spell level, she may cast +1 spell beyond her fixed allotted array- with a successful spellcraft check even one that she doesn't know, but is on her list. But ONLY if the spell provides a benefit for others for no personal compensation. Generally, that is a good way of making spellcasting less ego-centric and I applaud the intention behind this, but the execution is flawed. Take a buff that targets all in an area or an attack spell to prevent a killing stroke on the character to save innocents? Selfless or not? This ability has A LOT of roleplaying potential, but it needs a tighter definition to avoid sparking endless discussions at the table...



At almost every level (exceptions being the 4th, 7th, 13th, 16th, 19th and 20th), the Hetaera gets an endowment - the talents of the class, and partially they are interesting indeed - take "double-edged sword" - her current and former lovers treat her as one level higher for the purpose of healing, but also increase the DC versus damage-inducing spells by one. While this one could use some scaling, the concept is brilliant and offers quite a few grand roleplaying opportunities. Quite a few of the abilities presented here make the Hetaera a superb social face for the party - what about telling lies and allowing those you lied to use your bluff to convince strangers of the truth of your fabrication? Yeah. Poison Use, honeyed words or what about treating settlements as larger for the purpose of selling/buying items? It should also be noted that, in the tradition of talents/advanced talents, a hetaera's array of endowments is expanded upon 10th level to include more powerful ones.



Hetaera also get non-quantifiable boons from NPCs that go beyond even endowments, with ample examples given in the pdf to help a DM judge what's feasible and what isn't. Now at 7th level, the Hetaera can deliver spells 4+ cha-mod times per day via a kiss - they just have to have a range of touch. Oh, and yes, getting rules for kissing unwilling targets would have been nice here and can be considered an oversight, but the ability has another focus - the spells delivered thus do NOT count against her regular allotment of spells! Rather interesting and full of roleplaying potential - when crunch opens by virtue of its design story-threads, you know it has something going for it.



As a somewhat underwhelming capstone, the Hetaera gets a kiss of death, which is cool, yes, but the lack of rules for kissing unwilling targets (though I'd go with pinning if social guile doesn't work...) somewhat cripples it. The Hetaera's Spell-list is btw. thematically and spell-selection-wise solid - not too powerful and not too weak. Among the spells, which include the magical version of beer goggles (glorious) is also a level 1 spell that disrobes the target - which is crippling to armored warriors - 1/2 time to don afterwards? Congrats...That's a save-or-suck that needs some nerfing... Other than that, the sensuous and tasteful spells for heightened senses, and yes, even a genderbending spell that can be made permanent, are found herein. I'm sure some members of the LGBT-community or players who want to play such a character will greatly appreciate this one. I also like the spell that can summon a willing lover to your aid. As always, we also get a sample 1st level character.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Patricia Willenborg's Hetaera...is so far my favorite class in the whole Player's Option-series. By a long shot. The Hetaera as a concept is GLORIOUS. The implementation is tasteful. And just about EVERY ABILITY of the class has some kind of roleplaying potential, all without the class being useless in rollplaying environments - though she definitely fits better into social situations. This is the class of divine secret agent meets femme/garçon fatal(e) you never knew you needed, but suddenly realize you damn well do - as if she's cast a spell on you... Kidding aside - this class breathes adventure potential and high intrigue, and while not too well suited for dungeon crawl campaigns (though she does work there as well!), in any other context, she shines. I'd immediately slap my 5 stars + seal of approval on this beauty, were it not for the small hickups, for example regarding the kisses, the somewhat lackluster definition of the service spells and the (slightly) overpowered disrobe-spell. Still, this class has potential galore and bespeaks of a talented designer, of whom I hope to see more. Final verdict: 4.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Player's Options: The Hetaera
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Feats of Dungeoneering
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/08/2014 03:21:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let#s take a look!



9 feats for dungeoneering are provided, so what do they do?



-Corner Perch: When climbing corners and similar areas, perch without using your hands, allowing you to corner snipe, for example. Downright brilliant fix of a gap in the rules.



-Delver's Pick: Ignore a specific amount of hardness/DR when criting with picks. Doesn't work against DR tied to specific materials. Solid, though it does feel like it should e slightly more powerful and tied to critical focus, feat-chain-wise. That's subjective, though.



-Dungeon Crawler: Get seriously improved bonuses when taking cover while prone. Nice.



-Off the Wall: Change course by 90°when charging by bounding off of walls etc..



-Reflexive Evasion: Used Improved Lightning Reflexes without expending it versus traps, hazards etc.



-Sacrosanct Spell (metamagic): At +1 spell level, this one has massive abuse potential - it makes spells cast within a consecrated area impossible to counter while the consecrate is in effect. This one can be abused like crazy via portable altars etc..



-Trap Salvager: Salvage alchemical components/poisons when disarming traps. Damn cool!



-Vigilant Explorer: Take 20 on perception while taking 20 on another skill check. This one doesn't work as written - take for example looking for traps while climbing a cliff - in what squares can the target look? Cool idea, but needs finetuning.



-Wrecking Crew (Teamwork): Combine damage when attacking objects. Cool!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts 2-column, landscape style and the pdf has neither bookmarks, nor artwork and needs neither at this length.



Daron Woodson delivers a nice little array of feats here and while some aren't 100% awesome and while I consider not all of them great, for the low asking price and the cool ideas in here, I feel justified in rating this one 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Dungeoneering
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Servants of Shadow: Five Necromancy-themed Races (PFRPG)
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/07/2014 07:58:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive racial book by TPK Games clocks in at 67 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving a massive 64 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



As has become the tradition with TPK Games' race books, we kick off with a short introduction by the author and then an expertly-written fluffy introduction, which this time around works also as a kind of origin myth. After that, we're introduced to the Mortiss, the dead that have escaped from Nergal's underworld - and from the get-go, the design is interesting: Being essentially the dead, they hail from a variety of species and still, the designer did not forget random age, height and weight statistics etc. - nice! Also nice - a variety of favored class options that are neither too strong, nor, get this, boring - for each comes with a short, fluffy text that explains it. Call me any name you want, but this makes otherwise dry crunch so much more flavorful. Kudos! Now what do Mortiss do? Well, as escaped dead, they get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Dex, have no constitution scores and thus determine hp and fort-saves via cha instead and only get a base movement rate of 20 feet, which is not modified by encumbrance, though. Mortiss are full-blown undead - with all the immunities, less attributes to divide points by etc. They also get DR 3/slashing (which they can exchange with a 15 foot aura of 5-round nauseating stench or full 30 feet movement rate), always consider stealth a class skill, get darkvision 60 feet, a vulnerability to resurrection and positive energy etc. - and most importantly - they are destroyed upon reaching 0 hp, sans means of being returned from the beyond.

Yeah...that is interesting. Point-buy-wise, this race clocks in at 17 points, but the ARG's guidelines are broken, so that does not for a good orientation point make. Whether you consider this class overpowered very much depends on the frequency of which you use fort-based afflictions like poisons and diseases and on the lethality of your campaign - if your game is rather cuddly, the 0 Hp = game over caveat may be manageable; If you have a rather lethal campaign, the fast final destruction is something that will take a lot of brains (and luck!) to avoid. On the other side, only having to buy 5 attributes makes for much more powerful characters. The best line I can come up with, would be Sentenced's "Neverlasting" - "Burn the candles at both ends - you and I aren't built to last." The Mortiss are powerful, but quite probably, will be more short-lived than similar characters that are alive. Solid race, though not made for every campaign.



There also is a racial archetype, the boneblade magus, which gets diminished spellcasting and sacrifices 2 points from the arcane pool to permanently improve their blades with the holy or unholy property. Unfortunately all other abilities of the archetype fail the kitten-test, big time: AT 9th level, crits heal the magus for class level Hp -kill 'dem kittens! At 12th level, the magus may regain aracana this way. Urgh. And at 13th level, each hit nets the magus 1 temporary hp, lasting 1 hour, up to a maximum of class levels temporary hp. That's three gross failures of the kitten-test at its most basic level, which renders the archetype utterly broken and deeply flawed. Unfortunately, something similar can be said about some of the feats: Take "Feign Death", which lets you collapse in a heap as an immediate action - nice. But it fails to specify what skill-check DC modifications this has to your bluff-skill at feigning death, rendering a cool feat concept useless as written. I won't complain about a feat to offset the no-resurrection penalty, but one that makes fifth level + characters easily healed via positive energy isn't too high on my list, since that takes away one of the most crucial vulnerabilities of the race. Granted, negative energy now damages the Mortiss, but still. Turn resistance, +1 natural armor and an achievement feat to slightly increase positive energy output feel a bit on the weak end. Two solid racial traits and a nice 3-level racial paragon class as well as two spells, a full-blown Mortiss settlement and a sample character (especially the latter two deserve credit) are also provided for an overall solid, if not perfect race.



The second undead race herein would be the Forsworn. These would be people, undecaying and less grisly than the Mortiss, who have forsworn life via a ritual and acquired the Cr+1 forsworn template - consider it a kind of reward, if you will. The race also comes with plenty of favored class options, gain darkvision 60 ft., +2 channel resistance, Bluff, Disguise and Stealth become a class skill, energy resistance 5 vs. lightning and cold, +2 to bluff and disguise checks and +1 natural armor. Oh, and if their origin isn't making that clear enough - these guys and gals are EVIL. They also do not heal naturally, unlike what was implied and not explicitly stated, the Mortiss. (Who do not have that caveat...) The Beguiling Witch archetype gets diminished spellcasting and instead, a warlock-like blast ranged touch attack with a range of 30 ft. that deals 1d6 points of untyped damage, +1d6 at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter. This blast is useable class level + int-mod times day. The archetype also gets arcane armor proficiency at 4th level instead of a hex and DR 3/cold iron that increases slowly further instead of the level 8 hex. Solid blaster archetype, though calling the archetype "Beguiling Witch" feels like a massive misnomer to me.

A total of 18 feats (that, as written, don't require the forsworn race - be very wary when allowing these!) are provided for the forsworn. Take "Bleak Spell" - The feat adds 1 negative level sans save to a spell, at +3 spell levels. Yes, that means NO SAVE for the negative level. OUCH. Combine that with unerring magic missiles, for example...rather easy to abuse and should probably have some caveat and instead a less severe level increase. The feat that auto-maxes the HP of undead you "prepare" is problematic - what does preparing entail? Do spawns qualify? If so, why does not every creature eligible have this? Seriously, this one is very strong and could use a tighter wording. Making your undead negative energy bombs is also interesting, as would be the ability to graft bone armor to undead. Greater Turn Resistance is once again flawed - "You gain DR 5/- versus channeled energy." There is no such thing as "channeled energy" - there is positive energy and negative energy. And they, as energy would adhere to the resistance X-formula. Additionally, the feat, as provided, makes healing via negative energy 5 points less effective - intentional? The fortification-granting feats, while not getting the terminology for fortification right, at least are not ambiguous. Speaking of sloppy wordings - "Revivification" specifies "By expending two channel negative energy uses, destroyed undead in your area of effect are reanimated with half their normal hit points." - what's bad here? Well, it's subtle. First, action type - I assume regular standard action, but I'm not sure. Secondly, do all the intelligent undead retain free will? Sans HD-cap? Instant perma-immortality for liches, undead dragons etc. Destroyed by pesky adventurers? No problem, loyal cadre of 1st level cha 13+ cultists and 1 (!!!) can INSTANTLY return you to life at half max hp. Though you'd usually be DESTROYED. This needs serious fixing, especially in the context of this book - if such a feat is inserted into the game with undead PCs, they can be brought back EASILY, for a regrowing resource, sans penalties. INSANE. Speaking of which - what about a feat that heals you when drawing negative levels from your allies, usable ad infinitum. Restoration and similar spells? Screw those. At least needs a daily cap. Worse, most of these feats have no racial prereq - avoid inserting them just wildly into your game.



The racial paragon-class is solid (though one ability has an annoying typo) and the write-up contains a cool level 17 grimoire in all glorious spell-lists, fluff etc., including a neat preparation ritual. We also get a shadow-themed unseen servant-style spell and a sample character. The forsworn are very powerful and lack any advice for DMs on how to judge this power in relation to other characters. The lack of ECL or RP-information makes clear these guys are intended for NPC-use, though the absence of guidelines in that regard for evil groups sucks. The base race is okay, if not intended for player hands, but the feats...oh dear. While almost universally cool in imagery, oh boy are their wordings SLOPPY. To the point where they contain a number of game-breakers. Avoid.



The third race, the Maghra are essentially degenerate half-ghoul barbarians, transformed by their deadly and strange practices. Theyare half-undead, get +2 Str and Con, -2 Int and Cha and come with full age, height, weight-tables, favored class options, +1 to fort-saves and immunity to paralysis, non-magical diseases and poisons, a bite attack for 1d6 (not specifying whether as a primary or secondary natural attack, though I assume the former), +2 to Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival checks made while underground. They also always treat Perception and Stealth as class skills and gain light sensitivity. They can also get claws for 1d3, but then reduce the bite damage to 1d3 as well - once again, failing to specify whether claws or bite become primary/secondary natural weapons when used in conjunction. Very cool as an idea would be the feats that net you to +4 to attribute-spells for eating elves or dwarves...but the feats fail to specify CL for the effects...and duration/whether it's an extraordinary/supernatural/spell-like ability effect. This unfortunately holds universally true for almost all of the conceptually cool cannibalism-feats. "Blood Frenzy" is an interesting idea - when reducing a foe below 50% HP, the Maghra enter a frenzy for +2 to Str/Con, +1 to will-save for 1 round per level, useable 4+con-mod times, non-stacking with barbarian rage. per se, that's awesome, though the 50% caveat is, as written, makes no sense - hand the barbarian a kitten for rage. Why not just eliminate the 50%.limitation? Gaining DC 10 +1/2 level +cha-mod paralysis for 1d3 rounds on ALL natural attacks is also insanely strong - Paralysis being one of the most crippling conditions in Pathfinder.



The bite-power enhancing 3-level racial paragon-class, the 6 new traits, the settlement, the sample character - all of these are nice, though. Urghs, this one was a pain - mainly because the base race is nice and only has very minor glitches, but the feats once again just are in need of a massive overhaul, breaking rules and sporting sloppy wordings left and right.



The fourth race would be Nergal's servants, the deathless - another templated race at CR +2 who gets the full-blown undead-treatment, darkvision 60 ft, +2 natural AC, resistance 10 against cold, lightning and fire, fast healing 1, a slam attack at 1d6 (primary or secondary?), detect undead at will, +2 Str and Cha, +2 Perception + Sense Motive and Alertness, Toughness and Iron Will as bonus feats. Oh, and whenever they die, they automatically respawn after 24 hours, with one point of permanent Cha-drain that can't be mitigated. The ability unfortunately fails to specify WHERE the deathless respawns, whether s/he takes his/her equipment to Nergal's realm to be admonished etc. The 4 racial feats give you negative HP (and being staggered), allow you to conjure forth a +1 undead bane dancing scythe that can, with another feat, made brilliant + ghost touch (very strong at low levels) and one "kill foes to heal"-feat that once again gloriously fails the kitten-test. The undead knight-style racial paragon-class is neat, as is the bone armor spell and the sample NPC. So, depending on your perspective, this is the race for the player who doesn't want to lose his PC...or for the munchkin. The Deathless, as a templated creature, makes for a superb adversary, but lacks crucial information regarding balancing it with non-deathless characters. I would STRONGLY advise against using these in any but the most high-powered of games as PCs...but they do have a glorious usage: Remember Dark Souls/Demon Souls? Yeah. Make an exceedingly, mega-deadly campaign and see whether the PCs manage to conquer it - coincidentally, you could also take the Souls-series' reclaim mechanics for gear instead of for full hp... So while I'd never allow the race in a common campaign, it does have its uses! Apart from minor gripes, neat!



The final race would be the Nephandim, once again a non-templated race, these guys are the pale, small servants or Nergal - they get -2 to Str, Cha and Con, +2 Int and Wis, are small and slow. Tehy are humanoids with fire resistance 5 (or DR 3/slashing), +2 to saves against death effects, +2 to will-saves to resist enchantment (charm + compulsion)-spells and effects and may save again. They may also, 1/day, reroll a Bluff/Diplomacy-check when proclaiming their service to Nergal. Additionally, they may 1/day cast bleed, chill touch, detect poison, touch of fatigue as a spell-like ability if their wis is 11 or higher, deathwatch at will, +2 to their channeling DC if applicable, 120 ft darkvision, light sensitivity and also have negative energy affinity, making them great allies/healers of the undead. These lack the RP/build-information, though. Generally, the Nephandim feel a bit overburdened to me - the spell-like abilities, the better channeling sans alternate racial trait to switch out...depending on the build, these guys can be extremely strong. For my taste, the race is too strongly geared towards the caster-direction and a tad bit too strong, though not to the point where I wouldn't allow it after shearing some of the various bonuses to saves or similar ones, trimming a bit of the fat of the class.



The Sequestered Cleric archetype is a less paltry version of the concept of the cloistered cleric - d6, poor BAB, but +Int skills, the knowledge domain as a third domain, scribe scroll and 1/2 class levels to knowledge-checks (and the ability to make them untrained) - solid. The 4 new feats - are universally nice, though the achievement feat (of which there are a couple in this book) granting animate dead at will feels a bit excessive. The 3-level racial paragon class learns to ignore turn resistance and generally is solid. The spells are nice, though death conduit, which allows you to share hp with an undead within 50 ft. you control as a swift action makes for a powerful option that can be a bit strong for a level 1-spell. The Nephandim settlement and sample character are neat.



That's not where the pdf ends, though - we are also introduced to the CR+1 Bonescriven template and an extremely brief write up of Nergal, God of Death -who gets btw. access to RGG's superb Hellfire domain from the "Genius Guide to Hellfire Magic" - don't fret, though - the domain information is included.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - not particularly flawless, though - there is quite a bunch of punctuation errors, inconsistent formatting etc. to be found here - mostly not influencing the ability to understand the rules, though. Layout adheres to TPK Games' elegant, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with glorious pieces of original b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and unobtrusively hyperlinked.



TPK Games' mastermind and author Brian Berg knows dark fantasy and knows the undead - his prose is exquisite and while most campaigns will balk at reintroducing an iteration of the death-god Nergal into their pantheon (and thus lose some of the cool fluff's bonuses), the races per se can be easily transported into a setting. And the base races per se are interesting - while I would not advise on flat-out making the book available to PCs, the races support diverse playstyles, even offering new options for campaigns (deathless souls, baby!) and are diverse enough to feel very distinct from one another. While the templated races require special playstyles, the others feel like they can fit in respective campaign niches and while the wording of their write-ups has a flaw here and there, the problems per se are not that pronounced. The archetypes are a mixed bag, the racial paragon-classes on the nicer end of the spectrum.



But alas, there are problems. This pdf's issues can be summed up in one word: Feats. If I didn't know any better, I would think that a completely different author wrote these. Brian Berg usually tends to get feats right, but the ones herein brim with issues - breaking balance, failing kitten-tests left and right, sloppy wordings - these feats often utterly break otherwise nice, balanced classes, providing sometimes a power-level that is ridiculous, sometimes failing to specify their limits/benefits and one even breaking potentially any campaign's logic. Yeah, that bad.



So on the one hand, we have some truly awesome prose, cool concepts and neat ideas with minor issues and then a whole class of crunch that is almost universally flawed in its execution. This book has potential, oh yes, it does, but it also feels rushed, like it was abandoned halfway through. As much as I love some of the content, I can't rate this higher than 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 for DMs. As for players - you MUST ask your DMs, who should consider carefully which part of these rules to allow in your game...low-powered games and those very conscious of precise wordings should round down instead.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Servants of Shadow: Five Necromancy-themed Races (PFRPG)
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Dungeon Dressing: Dungeon Entrances
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/07/2014 07:54:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Dungeon Dressing-installment clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What's the first thing a noob-group trying their hands at Rappan Athuk will tell you? Yep. "We've been TPK'd by the entrance." The first page makes one thing clear, if you haven't been aware of it before (or by that anecdote) - a dungeon's entrance goes a long way making a dungeon memorable. For the truly time-starved DM, 16 ready-made entrances are provided in the first table, several of which sport interaction opportunities for skill-checks, including DCs and all - what about a locked portcullis with an evocation-magic radiating phoenix, for example?



A 50-entry-strong, two pages spanning table of dressings and features can be used to add unique and memorable dressings to the entrances - including illusion magic (including disbelief-DC), graves of adventurers, abandoned campsites - foreshadowing potential galore, once again interspersed with minor crunch even minor treasure to be found.



A total of 6 traps is also part of the deal, spanning CRs from 2 to 6 and coming with variations to amp up the CR, if desired. Fusillades of arrows combined with pit traps and mist and lightning +storm winds + elemental-summoning make for interesting traps indeed, all provided in RSP's extremely easy to use trap-statblock. While not explicitly multi-round in every trap, the effective results from springing these boils down to the players being occupied for a while...and don't worry - just because one is called "Death Trap Foyer", does not mean that these approach Rappan Athuk's level of lethality...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's superb, streamlined and printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with thematically-fitting, neat b/w-stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.



Greg Marks delivers a memorable little tool for effective foreshadowing, with all tables breathing flair and style galore. The traps themselves are detailed and actually explain how they work rather well, making it exceedingly easy to integrate them, even for DMs like yours truly that actually require their players to roleplay disarming of traps... My only gripe with this pdf is admittedly mostly cosmetic - I would have preferred a less conservative trap to be included as well. This is cosmetic, though - the pdf still justly deserves a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dungeon Dressing: Dungeon Entrances
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Adventure Quarterly #5 (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2014 11:09:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 68 pages of content, so let's take a look!



The editorial by Robert N. Emerson already shows and the subsequent adventures do as well - Rite Publishing's Kickstarter to amp further up the quality of the magazine was a full success - beyond the full color art throughout this magazine, it is especially the cartography, which has benefited extremely - Rite Publishing overlord Steven D. Russell did not pinch any pennies budget-wise here: The cartography in this book is rendered in stunning, gorgeous full color by the hands of Tommi Salama. If you're by any chance not yet familiar with him - he's imho the heir to Jonathan Roberts. Yes, that beautiful. So production-value wise, we get a steep step upwards, so let's see whether the modules themselves hold up to the art, shall we?



The following is a short overview of the 3 modules herein, which necessarily means the text contains SPOILERS. Potential players are advised to skip to the conclusion, especially since the modules herein tend to be a bit...let's say unconventional.



First of which would be Mike Welham's level of Ruins Perilous, this time intended for level 3. What is "Ruins Perilous"? It's Rite Publishing's serialized mega-dungeon, situated near the city of adventurers, Questhaven. Beyond being a mega-dungeon, it's also a kind of testing ground for adventurers and a means of increasing one's status within the hierarchy of the adventurer-governed city. As such, the dungeon is lethal, but also a kind of hyperreal simulacrum - essentially, post-modern dungeon-crawling. The created nature of the dungeon allows for some interesting tricks indeed and both ratfolk populace and the other challenges herein fit this theme rather well - whether it would be the traps or the required guild forge to properly add the clout to show they've "completed" this level - the strange nature of the dungeon is well-reflected here. One of the crucial differences here would be that the forge this time around is easy to find - but in the form of an organ and furthermore, locked - to activate it, the PCs will have to brave sense-themed encounters, which include giant skunks and an lion consisting of sonic energy. An interesting dungeon level indeed, though one that could have easily been made even more memorable by providing an stronger tie to the theme of senses: What if each key required the sacrifice of one sense, albeit temporarily? Blinding the ranged fighter, depriving the rogue of the sense of touch, making the scout deaf, that sort of thing? As a kind of didactic lesson for adventurers that they have to depend on their allies to help? I once used this ploy in an adventure of mine and my players loved it - even the spellcaster, when he was muted and I required him to roleplay or write interactions... As written, the level has a strong theme, but one that is, at least for my taste, not pronounced enough and thus misses a treasure trove of roleplaying opportunities to supplement the roll-playing dungeon exploration.



Michale Allen's "Legacy of the Fishermage" (for level 9 characters) is an adventure, mood-wise, after my tastes: The sage Muchadha was after the regularly (every 500 years) respawning "Salmon of Truth" - last time, he was foiled by his apprentice, who, by burning his thumb on the fat, accidentally got the salmon's wisdom, thus becoming a wise, but thumb-sucking hero. Yeah, this adventure is kind of goofy. The fishermage is gone, but now an ogre has stolen clues pertaining to the locale of the returned salmon and the players are on the brute's trail, alongside the friendly (as far as dwarves go) goblin-converting priest Ruag the Daft. To emerge victorious from this quest, the PCs will have to deduce the truth behind the legends, riddles, explore the fishermage's grotto (and defeat his failed, second apprentice...no longer human) and finally, track the ogre and confront the salmon. Yeah, confront. The salmon can turn into huge size and is rather deadly - death by salmon is surely a fate most players will try to avoid, if only to avoid all the cackling... All in all, a fun, uncommon adventure with a lot of winks, a good variety of roleplaying, combat and using one's brains and plenty maps and intriguing terrain to support it - nothing to complain here!



The high-level module here, for level 18 characters, is provided by Tricky Owlbear Publishing's Bret Boyd - and if the title "Paradox" isn't enough of an indicator, yes, time-travel is included. 1300 years ago, the archmage Delgoon created an artifact that broke down the boundaries of the planes and time itself, the sphere of ages. Yeah, a McGuffin, but wait a second - another caveat: The module is a campaign ending event - or alternatively, a complete game-changer. Why? Because the PCs visit an archeological dig, where they find statues of themselves - more than a millennium old. A sphere subsequently transports the PCs back in time - to the apocalypse they obviously...stopped and no one recalls? As the planar boundaries in the past come crushing down, the PCs have to find a way to diffuse the situation and stop the collapse. Over the course of this, the PCs are hurtled through time to undo their greatest regrets, to get a second chance...to vanish with the sphere, have the apocalypse undone and perhaps even return. And this is where the module, for me, kind of necessarily falls a bit apart. I once had a time-travel plot in my campaign and planned it for years, setting up blank spaces, mysterious happenstances etc - a DM is advised to do so for this as well. The emotional impact of the module hinges a bit on that. Beyond this, there's another problem - the suggestion to undo things - that's not how time-travel works.

Changing the past changes all from this point onwards, preventing potentially (or at least, modifying) the choices that led up to the PCs getting to the point of time travel in the first place, preventing them from enjoying the benefits. It's the crucial conundrum of time travel and the module's "satisfying" reward for the PCs breaks this one tenet. To take an example - what if a paladin's regret was being unable to save a king? Now, he manages it and dies. No war erupts, thousands don't die, friends and allies perhaps perish due to the paladin not being there to save them... even beyond the conundrum mentioned, the decisions influence the other players and even if the conundrum is ignored, the nature of collective adventuring is weird and at the very latest, here timelines diverge. So if your PCs screwed up a world's canon big time, that's a nice way to hit the history eraser button - but whether your players are okay with that...best be sure to check that, otherwise the implied undoing of their deeds or the sloppy "PCs are still around, in spite of changes"-ending stratagem could frustrate everyone to no end. Now don't get me wrong, this module isn't bad, but it fails to live up to the logic of its own gimmick by falling prey to the problematic past modification bug. Then again, your players might not care - I know mine would and I'd never, ever hear the end of it. That being said, with high-CR Aeons, chain gun studded lion robots and several other damn cool high-CR critters, many of which with their own artwork, this module still has quite a bit to scavenge.



Next up would be a short encounter by Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press, providing the complex haunting of spectral orcs and the treasure they guard. Steven D. Russell also provides open sandbox advice, (including some nods towards cool 3pp-supplements) - this time, all focused on getting instant NPCs (and how to handle statblocks, art, etc.) and where to scavenge them from -including a cool multiclass CR 15 sample build.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and, as mentioned, the copious original pieces of artwork and cartography render this a good premium product - no complaints on the production values side of things. The issue also comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks, with high-res jpgs of the 9 (!!!) maps - but not including key-less version of all maps - a minor complaint here.



This one's hard - on the one hand, the increase in massive production values helps and amps up the bang-for-buck ratio by quite a bit. I'm a big fan of Mike Welham's writing and the concept of the dungeon, but I also felt that this module did not make full use of its theme, falling slightly short of excellence. Michael Allen's module is hilarious and fun and gets two thumbs up from me, as do the supplemental articles and the monsters of the last module. On the other hand, at least for me, the final module doesn't work - at all. It's the, to quote the doctor, "Wibbly-wobbly" concept I just can't get myself to...like. (Yes, I know I'll be booed by plenty people out there...) - Time travel is NOT something simple and the module fails to address the consequences properly. And yes, I'm aware that for quite a few people, how the module handles it is no problem - but every time, Doctor Who time-travel starts, I gnash my teeth (in spite of actually loving the series, so put away the pitchforks...). I'm more of a Primer kind of guy. But I *know* that for some of you out there, it will be a huge of an issue as it is for me.



Now usually, my gut reaction would be to rate this issue slightly more down than I would - but on the other hand, my gripes with it are admittedly kind of subjective - the realization of untapped potential, the way time travel is handled...you can have radically different opinions on these. Especially the former - your players might actually loathe the suggestion I posited above...or they might love it. In the same manner, your players might actually enjoy the final module in here and with some copious DM foreshadowing, it won't feel abrupt. So yeah, if you were shaking your head at my complaints (and want the creatures, the awesome second module or get these just to scavenge parts or the glorious maps...), go get this. If you found yourself nodding, detract one star. Since my policy is in dubio pro reo, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #5 (PFRPG)
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Mythic Minis 19: Feats of Sneaking
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/06/2014 11:04:51
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about feats associated with sneaking after the first, awesome installment, so let's check this out!



We open this mythic mini relatively conservative, with a mythic blinding sneak attack that can be powered by mythic power to keep the blindness (upgraded to the end of your next turn per default) last up to mythic tier rounds. Solid. Now "Dampen Presence" is interesting, allowing you to avoid lfesense, tremorsense (but not blindsight/sense as written...) and also allows you to use mythic power to treat stealth as a natural 20 - but only before the roll. The latter feels a bit too generic - not sure if that is supposed to work only for the senses mentioned by the feat - I *assume* so, but as written, this can be done in any context. If you have the mythic version of "go unnoticed", you can be treated as invisible by those who fail to see you, whereas "shadow strike's" mythic pendant allows you to inflict precision damage as if your target had no total concealment.

Now "Sneaking Precision" is very interesting - first it does not require an expenditure of a swift action to add critical effects from feats to your attacks. Secondly, it allows you to add these effects to regular hits via mythic power - a godsend for high-crit builds in that vein and rather strong, but an imho warranted power-upgrade for the respective builds in Mythic Adventures. "Stealth Synergy" (one of my group's favorite teamwork feats, also gets a mythic version - though treating adjacent creatures as an aid another may be nice, it underwhelmed me hard in the context of Mythic Adventures.



The mythic version of "Strangler" upgrades damage dice to d8 AND allows you to forego extra damage to render the target unconscious on a failed save - nice one.



Finally, there is the 3-feat spanning "Moonlight Stalker" tree, which increases damage output (and crit multiplier up to potentially x6!), increases your feinting chances (with the option to use mythic power to get a natural 20...) and further increased miss-chance, with the addition of foes missing you counting as flat-footed.



Conclusion:

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



Alistair Rigg is in charge of this Mythic Mini, and he does a fine job - while not all of the feats wowed me and most fall into the formula of faster, better, etc., they generally can't be considered bad and here and there have small components that deviate in a positive manner from simple numerical progressions/mythic power enhancements. As such, this pdf can be considered a good purchase and receives a solid final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 19: Feats of Sneaking
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Retribution Collector's Edition
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/02/2014 05:02:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 71 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page ToC, 1 page CR-lists, 1 page advice on reading statblocks and 1 page advice on running the module for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 62 pages of content, so let's take a look!



I will break my own format for reviewing with this module. The original Retribution was the first Raging Swan Press-product to see the light of day and I bought it on a whim back in the day, long before I was a reviewer. I expected it to suck, frankly, and did so out of a morbid curiosity. I was utterly flabbergasted at what I found. Retribution is probably as close to a traditionally gothic (in the "Castle of Ontranto" "Name of the Rose"-style, not the association commonly used for this term...) mystery as you can get in a module. It breathes psychological depth, symbolism, has an unprecedented level of detail for the NPCs in here and to this date remains one of the best 1st level modules I've seen for any iteration of D&D or d20-based systems like Pathfinder.



Retribution is one of those non-optional relics of good gaming I'd consider a must-own for any PFRPG-DM - why? Because it's not over the top, it's not grindy, it is the perfect, absolute incarnation of atmosphere and mood, with diverse challenges, smart and unobtrusive subtext and, better yet, it retains this fascination throughout, evoking a level of grit and desolation that is simply entrancing - both while reading and while playing it.



My players still talk about this one, and it's been more than 4 years since we ran it and it made second place on my first best-of-list.. Now it's back and got a collector's edition - and honestly, I was afraid. I feared something akin to what happened to Star Wars. Almost perfect cult classics don't do face-lifts well in many cases.



This collector's edition kicks off with a n abbreviated primer on the village of Swallowfeld before getting into the meat of the module - which I will NOT SPOIL. Seriously - just think monastery full of eccentric clerics, snowstorm outside, glorious psychological underpinnings, a great (and easy to run!) banquet scene, slowly rising tension - a furious finale. Social skill challenges to bypass certain obstacles, a dungeon now with a small dressing table, improved artwork...generally, organization is perhaps the most significant improvement here - you get the respective content like magic items etc. on the page you'll need them -the collector's edition requires next to no page-flipping.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as almost always in RSP's offerings, is flawless. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. It should be noted that the pdf features improved artworks for many a piece and also features one version for screen-use and one for print-use.



Creighton Broadhurst's master piece "Retribution" didn't have much to gain by this Collector's Edition - it was already one of the best 1st level modules I've ever read. On the other hand, it had a lot to lose - and does something smart. It applies RSP's by now acquired knack of making extremely user-friendly books and applies it to the classic, very cautiously streamlining presentation and adding minor bits and pieces herein that do not stick out like sore thumbs and rather organically fit with the module.



I do have the print version (one great reason to get this, imho!) and it should be considered a steal at the low price. - with paper, spine etc. all being up to my standards.



Now let me get one thing clear - this module can be run by even novice DMs (in spite of a banquet scene!) and offers one of the best playing experiences I had for Pathfinder. Additionally, the further streamlining almost makes it possible to run this module sans preparation - one read should suffice for almost all DMs. Beyond that, the improved streamlining of the layout makes the running of this legendary module even easier. This would be a serious contender for my Top-Ten-list of 2014, but let's face it, the first edition already made such a list and this one is very close to it. Hence, I remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and one general announcement - people, if you don't have the original Retribution, this is your chance; You literally have no reason not to get this gem and having it as a print edition made me feel all fuzzy and warm. This has its place on my shelf of honor and is truly a must-own for any PFRPG-DM's module-library.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Retribution Collector's Edition
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Mythic Minis 18: Hierophant Path Abilities II
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/02/2014 04:57:59
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about more hierophant path abilities, after the great first installment for the path so let's check this out!



So what do these do? First, there are 2 1st tier abilities, the first of which allows you to use mythic power to change your energy resistance temporarily, but on the fly. That one works. The "Treesinger" ability nets you plant-themed bonus spells known, heal and bolster (and even enthrall) plants, undo effects on organic material made from plants/plants. Mythic power can be used to make the abilities etc. easier to use. Complex and very in line with the concept of the plant-whisperer.



We also get 2 new 3rd tier abilities, with the first adding a bunch of spells to your spell-list (and, much like any of the spell-granting mythic abilities here, providing further bonuses) and the second being the improved version of the former plan-based ability, with options to enlarge/reduce creatures and literally, create vast swaths of plants instantly and create feather token-like trees on the fly. And yes, this ability has VAST potential for creative players...If I had a dime for every smart use of growing plants and feather tokens my players sprung on me...Oh yeah, have I mentioned the increase in power due to tier-increase or the repair of objects? Damn useful.



There is also a new 6th tier ability, the Saintly Shroud, cloaks you in saintly or profane power, making even contact to you painful for foes opposing your beliefs. Add DR for mythic power and we get a cool ability here as well.



Conclusion:

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



Jason Nelson's second take on Hierophant Path abilities offers even more interesting abilities to choose from, with all interested in druidic/ranger-style abilities getting more than their share due, while those of a more traditional, clerical bent falling a bit short. Like some other Mythic Minis, this one has a bit of spare space that could have been filled with more content, though the blank space is less pronounced than in other installments. Whether this one does it for you depends very much on whether you enjoy the druidic-themed, complex and versatile, very mythic-feeling abilities - the other, with the exception of the shroud, fall a bit flat and feel a tad too mundane, common for my tastes. That being said, I will rate what's here and the great pieces outweigh the somewhat bland ones, resulting in a pdf that can be considered good, though not superb - resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down by a slight margin to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 18: Hierophant Path Abilities II
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Prestigeous Organizations: The Order of the Nullblades
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/01/2014 06:46:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



So what are the Nullblades? Essentially, they can be considered an organization fiercely opposed to the MACS-suffering casters - megalomanical arcane caster syndrome that tends too infect just about every high-level spellcaster. You know the drill - the point where the friendly arch-wizard experiments a bit too much and makes the fabric of reality unravel, transforming the town of Bimberton into undead oreo-cookies. And this makes sense in-game to me - there would probably be an organization like this, annoying, harassing and potentially, eliminating spellcasters they deem an issue. The organization and its stance on members, relationships with other classes, buying potions (only from bards and alchemists!), the chance of there being a chapterhouse in a given settlement - 6 possible amenities to be found in a chapterhouse - all of these (and the at times hilarious humor) render the organization a joy to read and highly entertaining. That being said, I'm a bit sad that chapterhouses don't have an influence on a settlement's statblock/kingdom building rules-information or prestige-mechanics based benefits - there's a hierarchy and benefits, why not codify them in the given system?



Oh well, the pdf also features a new 10-level PrC, the Nullblade, which provides full BAB-progression, 1/2 fort-save progression, d10, 2+Int skills per level. The class gets a 15 feet-lead-based aura that hampers concentration (and extends to 30 feet at later levels, increasing its potency throughout the PrC-progression) and become immune to lead-poisoning and more resilient versus diseases and toxins. furthermore, they may detect and identify magic a will and may choose up to 5 techniques (the talents of the class) over the course of their ten levels. A total of 20 techniques are provided for the PrC. These include preventing the teleport of foes, dealing damage to foes that fumble concentration, granting himself temporary SR and even forcing foes to stutter-cast, i.e. only be able to cast the last spell they cast for a round - a bunch of powerful, yet never overpowered abilities here. And, as a capstone, how could it be any other way - antimagic field-generation.



We round off this pdf with two pregenerated NPCs complete with story-hooks, background, appearance and tactics, reaching a neat level of detail one usually only sees in releases by Raging Swan Press. First would be Drimble Underhill, a fighter 6/Nullblade 3 halfling, second would be Cerabiel, an elven bard (arcane duelist)7/bard 2/nullblade 4 - a surprisingly varied and cool build, if I may say so.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is a slight bummer. The pdf's artworks are thematically-fitting stock art.



Bradley Crouch has humor - I've rarely enjoyed the subtle (and not so subtle) jibes herein, but rest assured - this is no joke. Indeed, this PrC ranks among the better takes on the innumerable anti-magic archetypes and PrCs I've read over the years and the Nullblade, honestly works rather well. The organization makes sense, the NPCs are neat and the PrC does what it sets out to do - make a magic-bane fighter. Now not all is perfect, as mentioned above - kingdom building/prestige/settlement-rules would have been the icing on the cake. Then again, this pdf is FREE. FREE is very hard to beat at this level of quality and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestigeous Organizations: The Order of the Nullblades
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Mythic Monsters: Undead
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/01/2014 06:16:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games' Mythic Monster series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages introduction to the product line, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!





We kick in with a short introduction by Jason Nelson before delving into expanded versions of mythic spells related to undead - whether its mythic animate dead, lesser, a new augment for the mythic ghostbane dirge or size changing via sculpt corpse's mythic version - the 10 additions are nice and provide even adventure hooks and ideas here and there!



That's not what you're here for, though, right? So let's take a look at the undead: The mythic Baykok (CR 11 /MR 4) is the 7th version of the Baykok for a d20-based game I've seen, so it better live up to its dreadful reputation...and it does. Hail of arrows versus all targets within 110 feet? Yeah. Add paralyzing howl and arrows to the mix and we get a truly deadly, nasty foe and one of my favorite iterations of the creature so far. Have I mentioned that these guys can spend mythic power to make slaying arrows? Yeah...frightening indeed!



The Mythic Demilich at CR 17/ MR 7 may not be on par with what these guys once were (and ought to be!9, but at least it's closer than the neutered default PFRPG demilich: Adding the good ole' crumble to dust-effect to wail of the banshee, for example. The Cr 13/MR 5 mythic devourer gets a negative level-inducing AoE-breath weapon that even staggers on made saves (OUCH!) and can permanently destroy souls and fuel crackling waves of negative energy with said essence. Nasty! Now the one I've been most excited about in here would be the CR 9/ MR 4 mythic dullahan - whether via placed, penalty-inducing markers or a paralysis-inducing gaze, these guys are deadly and cool - alas, Rite Publishing's Headless Horseman-template imho delivers the slightly superior version here, with the nigh unkillable aspect and rp-based ways to exploit the creature as well as supremely deadly melee making for the more deadly adversary. The provided artwork (which also includes the next creature, the CR 10/ MR 4 Mythic Mohrg) is awesome, though. Mythic Mohrgs may use mythic power to confirm crits and unleash massive,, extremely deadly circles of death - and even the non-mythic version of this spell is nasty, as 3 dead PCs in my current campaign can attest. Especially cool since it thematically enhances the mass murder-aspect of the mohrg's origin lore.



CR 2/MR 1 mythic ghouls and their CR CR 3/MR 1 ghast-brethren get the option to spend mythic power for faster coup-de-graces and also receive a paralytic aura. I wish the ghast had a unique ability, but oh well. The CR 2/MR 1 pickled punk may now turn to stone and temporarily turn hard as stone - also getting the option to flat-out negate attacks via mythic power, rendering this being a very interesting adversary at low levels. CR 9/MR 3 mythic spectres get a cool, iconic ability - dealing damage by moving through living targets. Their aura of desecration is nice as well, if nothing to write home about. The mythic wight at CR 4/MR 2 btw. also gets this aura, but no other unique signature tricks.

More interesting would be the Mythic Totenmaske (in case you wondered - that's German for Death Mask) at CR 9/ MR 3 may use mythic power to instill a permanent staggered condition due to ennui on targets drained of charisma. Much cooler - the creature can actually make use of the senses of those subject to its flesh-shaping and dominate its victims. Neat and so full of story-telling potential...



The CR 11/MR 4 Witchfire may cause its cursed flames to actually BURN the targets (amen...that one was overdue from the base-creature...) and foes attacking the creature in melee constantly risk catching the cursed spiritual fire...nice! Have I mentioned the ability that lets the witchfire use mythic power to automatically hit and inflict max damage (ref save halves)? Yeah, OUCH! The Wraith at CR 6/MR 2 surprisingly gets some very cool abilities - a shroud of darkness that negates the vulnerability to sunlight while also dealing cold damage and the ability to inflict con-bleed damage on hit targets.



Now the Mythic Monster-series usually has its climax at the end with the new creature and this time, we get the CR 12/MR 5 Jigsaw Man - no, these guys do not catch people and put them through strange tests, they are called thus because they've been quartered for being serial killers - with their fractured anatomy, they can use mythic power to completely negate attacks, disassemble into a swarm form as well as a particularly lethal, rusty blade - that turns into an instrument of swift death in the hands of the jigsaw man. (In case you need a neat idea how to effectively scavenge this guy's rules- slap a ninja-level or two on of these, a add some telekinetic-focused psion-levels/psi-like abilities and you have a great representation of Metal Gear: Revengeance's Monsoon...)



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to legendary Games nice 2-column full-color standard. The 2 pieces of original full color artwork (one being the new creature) by Ivan Dixon and Steve Wood are awesome. The pdf unfortunately comes sans any bookmarks, making navigation less comfortable than it ought to be.



Jason Nelson and Tom Philips deliver an installment of Mythic Monsters that has some true stars - the new mohrg, the baykok, totenmaske and wraith are all damn cool, and, as almost always, the original, new creature is superb. That being said, the ghasts for example, and to a lesser extent, dullahan and demilich just didn't feel that much improved to me - perhaps because I've seen too many versions, I don't know. These got me all stoked up and while there's nothing wrong with them, they are pretty conservative takes on what you'd expect from mythic versions of them. Don't get me wrong, that does not make them bad, but it also makes them not as awesome as their further enhanced brethren herein. Generally, this book feel like it's situated on the upper edge between good and awesome, but the lack of bookmarks as a serious comfort detriment makes me round down - my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Undead
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Purple Duck Storeroom: Alternate Class Abilities
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/01/2014 06:14:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/explanation, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so what are these alternate class abilities?



Essentially, you could think of them as micro-archetypes - to learn one of them, you have to give up a class ability of a equal level when you level up or retrain. Bonus feats and divine auras do not qualify and spellcasting progression potentially counts as such an ability. In the end, the DM has the final say. Got that? Good!



A total of 18 1st level abilities are provided and range from access to a mount (which works as a full-blown animal companion!) to poison use, throw anything as a bonus feat or gaining animal empathy. All those nice little abilities like trapfinding, familiars etc. are part of the deal, as is the unarmed AC bonus of the monk.



At 2nd level, 5 are provided, with uncanny dodge, favored enemy and stand up some more powerful options coming into the fray.



For 3rd level, only maneuver training and trap awareness are available, whereas at 4th level, expert trainer, favored terrain adn slow fall become options. AT 5th level, you may go for solo tactics, at 6th for evasion and swift poisoning, at 10th for opportunist and at 12th for camouflage or stalwart.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no art, but needs none at this length. The pdf does have bookmarks, which is awesome to see.



Author and mastermind of Purple Duck Games Mark Gedak provides a surprisingly complex system here for next to no cost -essentially, these can be considered a way to make all classes talented in a limited manner. And that is awesome - thief with cantrips? Done. Cleric with trapfinding? Done. And so on. The options are diverse and solid indeed, covering important abilities, but not the signature ones and thus enrich the list of valid character concepts. Now that being said, I do have gripes with the pdf - for one, the balancing is off regarding some of the options: bonus to craft versus gaining a mount that will eclipse at low levels its rider? Hmm, which do I take? Or take evasion - arguably one of the most useful defensive abilities in the game, it is too easy to get as written. Seriously, though - that can be handled by a DM. Another oversight would be that, as written, nothing prevents the stacking of these class abilities other than the usual convention. Witches with two familiars, druids with two companions. Urghs.

The concept is glorious and would warrant further expansion/ a proper, full-blown book with streamlined balancing. As written, this is still a great resource as long as you as the DM keep a tight control on what which character can exchange - a notion the pdf admittedly calls attention to. For the expansion of options and due to the low price, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Duck Storeroom: Alternate Class Abilities
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Threats: Dawn of the Dwimmerlaik (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/31/2014 11:23:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Rite Publishing's ecology-style sourcebooks detailing threats for the LoGaS-setting is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As per the tradition by now, this sourcebook is written in glorious in-character-prose and depicts documents of the dwimmerlaik - a narrative by one of these threats in LoGaS, taking a cue from LPJr Design's "First One"-pdf and doing something smart - establishing from the get-go that, what follows, are lies. The origin-myth depicted, analogue to Shakespeare's Tempest blended with several classical topoi from mythology, starts with the ascension of the race, elevation from shackles and wilderness and the overcoming of an all-powerful, Typhonian god-like father-figure (though the latter should be taken not in the nourishing way...) to the awakening into autonomy and a new racial self-consciousness that resounds even in nomenclature: The Dallaik became the Dwimmerlaik, "That which is superior." From there, the race set out to erect their world-spanning empire.



Now it should be noted that 2 cool 5-point powers for exalted channeling are provided here as well - one to project one's astral self to other worlds (and if you require inspiration there, just read the weird fictions of old for a vast array of potential hooks to use this...) and one that allows astral projecting dwimmerlaik to place marks while projecting - these work as a kind of tracing beacon...and if you don't have about 20 different great ideas for stories resolving around the combination of these powers by now, think harder or drop me a line. Seriously, these are narrative gold.



Now the weapons/artifacts of the first Dwimmerlaik, those that vanquished and consumed Eos, are also are depicted in here, as is a list of the 8 houses of the race - a kind of rigid, caste-like system. However, the genesis of the race demanded retribution from the nigh-all-powerful Typhonians. While the battle was fierce and indeed, yet another of the beings fell, the resulting onslaught saw the dwimmerlaik at the verge of extinction, with reality, the grand stair or *something* intervening and saving them, destroying Selene, their adversary - at terrible cost for their homeworld Caliban as well as for numerous worlds.



Since then, the Dwimmerlaik have taken back to the stairs...and the Gossamer Lords and Ladies have appeared - here, though, the stair turned against the Dwimmerlaik, offering an uncomfortable possibility that some time, the age of human Gossamer Lords may end as well...still, the war rages between teh Dwimmerlaik and the Lords...



We also are introduced to a ruthless meritocracy as a culture, placing strength above all and seeing lies as a means to end, as a device to prove cultural superiority and expose weakness - a compelling dystopia. The somewhat ancestral worship-like basis of their religion is interesting - the dwimmerlaik essentially create a Grand Narrative in the traditional term - their devotion belongs to the conglomerate history they create, the representation of the collective of their achievements and failures as well as their own unconscious, by the very definition of their object of worship. Glorious and potentially enlightening, this takes the concept of a historic pluralism and makes it work in context of a society by acknowledging the need for a grand narrative on one hand, while on the other putting it into a relativistic perspective by their ideology regarding truth. Glorious and so full of potential!



Birth and Death, life and recreation (like psychic duels called Shayde) are also explained. The Gossamer Lady that delivered this document gets btw. full stats, as does Cicarus, the legendary Witchknife dwimmerlaik assassin and the guardian of Caliban, the oldest of Dallaik and final chronicler of the race. Yeah. Awesome.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's two-column full color standard, with most of the artworks being top-notch original pieces of the highest caliber, while some others are thematically fitting stock. the latter is the minority, though. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Writing an ecology on arguably the primary antagonists of the LoGaS-setting must have been a daunting task - first one requires a society that is sufficiently unique to not elicit yawns when compared to similar races throughout fantasy. Secondly, LoGaS, more than any other setting, thrives on ambiguity, on the option to develop ideas and determine truth. These seem to directly contrast what one would require from an ecology-style book.



Author Andrew Peregrine found an elegant and exciting way to circumvent this conundrum, by providing ample doubts...and via a subtle trick: Much of the respective narrative potential rises from the deliberate blanks in the interaction of potential truths in here, weaving a stunning panorama of world-spanning and epic confrontations, strange creatures and a society alive and organic...and mysterious. This book is an inspiring joy to read an well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, not only for LoGaS-players and DMs, but also for those starved for inspiration for their own world/plane-spanning antagonist empire...

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Threats: Dawn of the Dwimmerlaik (Diceless)
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Random Encounters: Wilderness
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/31/2014 11:02:13
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a weighty 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page advice of how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick this pdf off at a list of statblocks by CR, encounters by terrain, by EL (spanning the gamut from EL 2 to 12) and by designers. Wait, what? Yes, for this pdf is the child of Raging Swan Press' freelancer call and as such offers us the winners of said contest. Hence, I will provide the author alongside the discussion of the encounter. Got that? All right! After author biographies (which imho wouldn't hurt ALL RPG-companies - name-recognition for designers = good thing!), we kick off with Jesper Andersen's "Canoes & Crocodiles" - and what a glorious first encounter it is: The premise is simple - crocodiles (which can be replaced by just about every aquatic critter, should you so choose) versus, you guessed it, canoes. What makes this encounter such a joy to run would be the quick and easy summary of base vehicle rules, concisely and coherently summed for all intents and purposes - the same, of course, goes for the terrain and the canoes. I've never run such an easy vehicle combat - two pages of the pdf are literally all you need and even if you usually shy away from them, this one is a cakewalk to run - even sans preparation. Two thumbs up!



Now Jeff Erwin's "Death-Dealer of the Gloaming Hills" is something less straightforward -it's essentially a miniature tragedy - featuring death, foreshadowing, a mini-mystery and a shapechanger - and that is all I will spoil here, in case players are reading. Still, experienced DMs will consider this one a been-there-moment.

A neat sidequest indeed and especially nice if the PCs are frequently travelling e.g. between settlements etc. Richard Bennett's "Hunters as Bait" is all about one two types of beast fighting one another - with the PCs used as a means to spring an ambush of one of the parties, so the other monster can annihilate its competition. Nice, though probably an encounter you should foreshadow accordingly. Full-blown buff-suites included. Jacob Trier's "Lost Love" is about a bard seeking his stunning beauty - who is not all she seems to be - and alas, heart-break will resume, should the poor sap survive finding his beloved... Still, as much as I hate to be that guy - the encounter is great, the writing neat...but I've seen this particular storyline done quite a few times before.



Fabian Fehr's "Mourning Monster" once again has this touch of the absolutely special - guarded by her crestfallen young grey render, a wizard's mortal remains lie in a circle of standing stones - will the PCs dare to loot her body? Of perhaps, they require her to be resurrected...but how do you explain that to a faithful beast, determined to guard its mistress, mad with grief? In Denver Edwards Jr's "Secrets of the Swamp", the PCs may save a doe and inadvertently stumble into both the undead, sinkholes, a degenerate tribe of lizardfolk and the globster-ooze they worship as a deity...Neat!



F.D. Graham's "Stuck in the Mud" deserves special applause - good encounters don't necessarily mean that there will be massacres and monster-blood galore - in this one, the PCs may aid a kind halfling free his wagon and horse from the mud in a thoroughly compelling and awesome change of pace. Two thumbs up for being this brave and daring for something completely different! Also by Fabian Fehrs would be an encounter, where the coolness lies in the details - a clearing that houses abandoned brownie-tunnels now is the home of a wasp swarm and may collapse as soon at the PCs step inside -great insult-to-injury encounter, with the tunnels of the fey lending the special touch to everything.



Jacob W. Michaels' "The ants go marching in" is very much a question of morals - the PCs happen upon the gruesome execution of a faun, buried and covered with honey, via ants - slow and agonizing, while two inquisitors watch - whom to help, whom to trust - and the ants march ever onwards.

The final encounter, Brian J. Ratcliff's "The Gray Grove", comes with color-blighted creatures, fey and the true source of the forest's blight, a color out of space. And I *LOVE* the interaction of fey/lovecraftiana here, I really do, but I wished this were a full-blown module; For one encounter, the resolution and scope feel too grand and somewhat too stuffed together. that being said, I very much hope to see such a module one day!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as almost always in raging Swan Press-products, are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience and in two version, with one being optimized for screen use and one to be printed out. Artwork consists of thematically fitting stock art you may have already seen in other RSP-books, but oh well - take a look at the low price and page-count: Still superb in the production value department.



Random Encounters: Wilderness provides excessively-detailed encounters that range from very good to stellar . while some of the encounters here have basic plots that are a bit old, while one is slightly beyond its scope, you only notice this because they are so good - the respective encounters have many a thing going for them, with "Canoes & Crocodiles", "Mourning Monster" ad "Stuck in the Mud" being my favorites - especially the latter, which is so fun in its utterly mundane premise, which manages to be exciting in spite of no creature-feature overkill and no deathtrap-9000-killer-combo, is just awesome - because it is about very pure roleplaying without sacrificing tension. Now I may have seemed complain-happy throughout this review, so let me make this abundantly clear - this is a neat selection of encounters and well worth 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval. And it has done one thing: Make me universally look forward to the things these authors put out in the future. So go ahead, check it out!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Random Encounters: Wilderness
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Mythic Minis 17: Feats of Seafaring
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/30/2014 13:08:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Mini clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This time, we're all about sea-themed feats, so let's check this out!



The mythic version of "Corsair" extends its benefits to any aquatic environment and doubles the bonuses while on board of a ship and also allows you to treat foes as flanked via mythic power. Solid. The "Hoist the Colors" mythic feat allows you to intimidate foes via your flag and, with mythic power, even whole crews/vessels and similar military units - and yes, more power, more severe fear-effect. Awesome, mythic - nothing to complain about!



Naval Commander comes as a regular and mythic-augmented version - it allows you to aid another ALL target allies on your ship. Which is damn cool even before expending mythic power to make the bonus LAST. Two thumbs up, especially since bonus to atk is still limited to once per ally/turn!



Savy Seafarer also offers two versions - the regular one offering bonuses to ship/repair/survival-themed actions, increasing the bonus with familiar vessels. The mythic version further increases these bonuses...and allows you to TRACK VESSELS OVER WATER. Yeah. THAT is what I want in mythic - epic options, more roleplaying potential, stunning derring-do, doing things that transcend the powers of regular PCs. Two thumbs up!



Finally, mythic Sea Legs kilsl most penalties to acrobatics and climb and also lets you move sans delay through water-themed terrain, but does not protect you from it. Solid.



Conclusion:

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



See, this mythic mini is what I'm talking about -feats that are bland and subpar in their regular, non-mythic version get better and worthwhile. The new feats are glorious and actually vastly increase roleplaying potential while breathing the spirit of mythic gaming, offering both rules and simply new hinges on which to base storylines and scenes. This one's just awesome and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval - if your mythic campaign goes anywhere near pirates and similar themes GET THIS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 17: Feats of Seafaring
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