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Ultimate Ethermagic
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2014 05:47:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a massive 91 pages of content, so let's...wait. First, here's my



DISCLAIMER: I have a history with ethermagic. When Bradley Crouch first made the ethermancer, I was skeptical - another warlock-style "blast all day"-class? Urgh. In my experience, they boiled down to inflexible blasters that at the same time made logic for the very existence of bows et al. tenuous at best, were utterly OP OR resulted in plain boring gameplay. Upon diving into the class, I realized two things - a), it is a complex class indeed and b), I'd have to playtest it to properly judge it. And oh boy, did it playtest well! One of my players fell totally in love with the class and wrote an optimization guide for it. The only reason I did not completely gush about it was the existence of quite a few options that did not make much sense for the ethermancer. Fast forward to the Strange Magic Kickstarter, of which this is the first release. At this point, I had seen half a year of ethermancer in action in my main campaign and started tinkering with the system to expand it. When Bradley asked me to join the KS as a guest author alongside Jason Linker, I jumped the chance. I feel obliged to mention that I was compensated for my work on this book. However, there are significant bunches of content I had no hand in whatsoever. Additionally, I have before criticized products I contributed to and thus, will do my best to analyze, break, etc. this system, just like in all my other reviews. I felt obliged to mention this and should you consider my involvement a conflict of interest, feel free to tell me so - I am confident, however, that analysis of this book will suffice to prove the validity of the points I make in this review.



All right, that out of the way, let's dive in! If you are familiar with the basic ethermancer, you'll be surprised to see that the first class herein is NOT the old one, but rather Jason Linker's Ethermagus. But before I jump into the meat of the 3 classes, let me explain how ethermagic works, all right?



Ethermagic can be explained as pricking a whole into the fabric of reality, channeling the very stuff that separates planes and realities in a unique manner - the ability to channel this power is measured in etherpoints, or EP - so far, so common. However, unlike many similar resources, EP regenerate each round, depending on the formula of the respective base class. The EP regeneration rate is also featured for convenience's sake in the respective class-feature-tables. Ethermagic is generally treated as evocation magic and tight rules for counterspelling ethermagic are provided - though regular caster should be advised not to try to outcast an ethercaster. Additionally, much like spells, manifestations are grouped by level - the higher your level, the higher the level of manifestation you may learn. Wait, what? Manifestations? Well, yes. Etherspells have two components - the etherheart and the manifestations applied to it. Etherhearts are gained at specific levels in the class progression and allow the respective class to do different things - think about them as a chassis, to which manifestations can be applied. To use a manifestation, an ether-using class needs to have at least a cha of 10+manifestation-level and the save DC is 10+highest manifestation level used + charisma modifier, analogue to spells. However, not all etherhearts become available to all classes. Let me give you a run-down:



The most basic of etherhearts would be the lesser blasts - these have a close range and constitute touch attack rays that deal 1d3+cha-mod bludgeoning damage, +1d3 for every caster level beyond 1st for the ethermancer. Ethermagi and etherslingers have significantly less scaling at 1/2 and 1/4 class level respectively. Up to 3 manifestations can be applied to them and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



Greater blasts, exclusively available to the ethermancer, have the same range, but deal 1d10+cha-mod damage, +1d10 for every 2 caster levels beyond the first. Like its lesser brother, a total of 3 manifestations can be added and there is no minimum number of manifestations.



A further, pretty basic etherheart available to all ethermagic users would be the alteration etherheart - this can be considered the utility/defense etherheart with a range of personal and a duration of 1 min/level. Duration deserves special mention here - with the exception of one etherheart, etherspells cannot be dismissed. Additionally, alterations can be modified by exactly one manifestation and only one alteration can be in effect at a given time.



The Bestow etherheart would in effect be similar to the alteration etherheart in that it sports a duration, requires exactly one manifestation to be added to it, but unlike alteration, bestow etherhearts in effect reduce the maximum EP-pool for as long they persist - essentially, the EP used in maintaining the etherspell are only regenerated once the etherspell has run its course. Unlike alteration etherspells, those cast via the bestow etherheart need to be delivered via a touch attack and cannot be targeted at the ethermagic-using class.



The Genesis etherheart, available for ethermancer and etherslinger, conjures objects out of thin ether - once again, exactly one manifestation can be added to the etherheart. The effect is permanent, as long as the object remains within close proximity of its creator, however, like bestow effects, EP remain reduced for as long as the genesis etherspell exists. Unlike any other etherheart, a genesis etherspell can be dismissed at any given time.



The ethermagus' exclusive etherheart, Voidmeld, also has a personal range and applies to the void blade of the ethermagus (more on that later). It also reduces the ethermagus' maximum EP analogue to Bestow for as long as it persists, but unlike it, voidmeld etherspells can be dismissed by dismissing the void blade upon which they're cast. Unlike all other etherhearts, voidmeld etherspells have a base casting time of only a swift action, as opposed to the default standard action. (Which can be superseded by manifestations applied - only the highest casting duration counts.) Another peculiarity of the voidmeld etherheart would be the fact that one may apply as many manifestations as one likes, provided the total of their combined levels remains below the highest manifestation level the ethermagus knows. Once again, only one voidmeld can be in effect at a given time.



You may have noticed that obviously, etherspells seem to scale with levels and this is reflected in their cost - to cast an alteration etherspell, for example, one has to pay the base cost of the etherheart, plus the EP-cost of the manifestation applied. The base EP-costs of the etherhearts scale with levels - in the case of alteration, the base cost would be 1+ 1/4 caster level, rounded down. There is one more restriction imposed on ethermagic - you cannot learn more manifestations for a given etherheart than you have at a lower level - if you for example know 2 3rd level blast manifestations, you can't learn another manifestation unless you have at least 3 2nd level blast manifestations - think of it as a pyramid rule for each etherheart.

While all of this may sound complex (and the math behind it *is* complex, believe me...), it's really easy to understand once you wrap your head around it - whether by a manabar or pool or by cooldown timers, the ways to visualize the system are plentiful.



Okay, before I go into the basics of manifestations, let's take a look at all the classes and goodies herein, all right?



The ethermagus comes with a 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort and will-saves, d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor (and no spell failure chance in light armor), a maximum manifestation level of 5 and an ether regeneration rate that scales up from 1 EP per round to 7 at 20th level. An ethermagus has access to the voidmeld etherheart at 1st level, learns the lesser blast etherheart at 2nd level and the alteration etherheart at 5th level. Ethermagi learn up to 12 voidmeld manifestations, 13 lesser blast manifestations and 9 alteration manifestations over the course of their 20-level progression. At 10th level, lesser blasts executed by the ethermagus receive a damage-bonus equal to 1/2 class level.



Additionally, starting at 1st level, ethermagi can manifest void blades drawn from the ether - these can be either light or medium one-handed weapons that deal either slashing or piercing damage, chosen upon the manifestation of the blade. The entry also features information on hardness and hit points. Starting at 4th level, all void blades receive a +1 enhancement bonus, +1 every 4 levels thereafter and at 11th and 20th level, their damage dice increase by one step. At 7th level, the void blade receives the defending quality and at 9th level, the ethermagus may expend 3 EP to temporarily entangle targets hit by your blade.



At 2nd level, ethermagi may execute so-called etherstrikes, delivering lesser blast etherspells with their void blade analogue to spellstrike - and yes, the wording gets it right. At 3rd level, the ethermagus can regain 1 EP whenever he reduces a target creature of at least 1/2 class level HD to 0 HP or below via an attack with the void blade or a lesser blast etherspell. Particularly interesting, at 11th level, the improved ether surge allows for the addition of one non-stacking additional non-shape manifestation to the next lesser blast he executes.

At 5th level, the thoroughly solid ether variant of spellcombat (sans concentration penalty-ambiguity!) is gained. At higher levels, the ethermagus additionally receives a bonus to concentration checks made in ether combat and at high levels, double the opted penalty is received as a bonus instead.



Continuous exposure to ether hardens the ethermagus' musculature and thus, the class receives a +2 bonus to one physical attribute at 13th level, another +2 to a score not chosen at 13th level at 17th and at 15th level, the ethermagus may 1/day knock a foe prone and pin the foe; +1/day at 20th level, where this can also be executed with blasts. A decompressing shock can be used with EP to end this prone condition/pinning, but deal nasty damage. The capstone, beyond aforementioned effects, can now also be shaped and create/dismiss the void blade as a swift action.



The class comes with excessive FCOs for core races, plane-touched races, puddlings, orcs, hobgoblins, drow, kobolds, vishkanya, kitsune and vanara.



Kickstarter backer Mathew Duckwitz has sponsored the Mad Evangelst archetype, who replaces spellcombat and its follow-up abilities with a metamorphosis pool of class level + cha-mod. Upon slaying targets, the mad evangelist may expend metamorphosis points equal to the slain creature's HD to revive it as a zombie under the control of the evangelist after creature's HD rounds. To maintain the revived creature, the evangelist has to spend the points again upon their regeneration, essentially making this a kind of minion pool. At 3rd level, these revived creatures may be modified at metamorphosis pool cost via an array of so-called "Aspects of the Master" - an array of options that becomes expanded at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter by +1 aspect. Some of these aspects have the [variant] descriptor, denoting that only one such piece can be applied to a given zombie - somewhat akin to tinker designs.

From touchy cilia to flanking prevention sores, applying various templates (aforementioned variants) and similar tricks, the aspects allow for some damn cool modifications...and they have rather cool synergy with the base class - think of it as a cooler version of the Battlefield Defiler archetype for the magus, with truly unique, customizable zombies.



Instead of aberrant musculature and bonus feats, the evangelist also may choose from an array of gifts from beyond - from developing a vast plethora of eyes, to fast healing and even an ether powered gaze attack, these gifts are pretty damn awesome - mostly due to simply not being boring - want an example? Well, fast healing sounds bland, right? Well, this kind of fast healing can be activated reflexively to e.g. survive the effects of being vorpal'd as a severed head - if the head is healed to max HP within one minute, it regrows the body and is fine; Otherwise it dies - now come on, is that a unique, cool last-second save mechanism or what? Or what about a whippy tentacle that can be used to deliver voidmeld manifestations as an exception to the void blade only rule? Yeah, pretty awesome! Also rather interesting from a mechanical standpoint - at 14th level, the mad evangelist becomes immune to either fear, disease or poison - but at the cost of susceptibility to the other two!



The second archetype would be the Void Stalker, essentially a more roguish ethermagus with increases skills per level. In addition to light and medium weapons, these guys may select double weapons as void blades and receives sneak attack at 2nd level, +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter, but pay for these tricks with the lesser blast ether heart, etherstrike and ethercombat. Rather cool - they can dim the lights (at the cost of 1 EP per round and no ether regeneration), greatly boosting stealth and even providing a miss chance at higher levels instead of ethersurge. The void stalker also receives a rogue talent at 4th level (advanced talents at 13th level) and every 3 levels thereafter, but may not choose the same talent twice and cannot select ninja tricks, but pays for this flexibility with the alteration etherheart - which is good, since the combo-potential would have been pretty insane - but don't fret: The iconic ultraviolet shift is gained at 10th level (in a unique modification with reduced costs, analogue to the stealth-enhancer mentioned above) and uncanny dodge, evasion etc. should help get over the absence of this etherheart. The vorpal capstone is also nice.



Next up hereafter would be the voidstar - instead of a voidblade, 3+1/2 class level void star shuriken constitute the targets of the voidmelds of this archetype and receives an increased limit of voidmeld manifestations to apply to these shurikens, scaling up to +3 at 13th level. Instead of etherstrike, 5th level grants the ability to treat said stars as either silver, cold iron or adamantine for the purpose of bypassing DR and instead of void shield, this one receives keen shuriken - while this looks nasty on paper, the math checks out - nice, kind of ninja-ish/halfling-ish throwing specialist.



Ethermancers are the full casters of the bunch and since I have already written a more than excessive review on them AND already explained the basics of ethermagic, I will refrain from going through this guy in detail - though it should be noted that the previously somewhat uneven multiuniversal philosophies (the taking of which also determines the capstone!) have been streamlined and expanded - limited x/day reduction of EP-costs for bestow etherspells, increased raw damage output for less- or unmodified greater blasts, resistance reduction - these class features have been upgraded from "well, that exists, too" to cool enhancers that can be used to increase the effectiveness of various playstyles - increased hit points, limited instant EP-regeneration equal to cha-mod etc. - so much choices and by now, they're actually pretty hard and diverse, eliminating one of my gripes with the original iteration of the class. A fortification-like scaling effect and a 1 immune, 2 susceptible choice is still in the ring. The FCOs are more diverse than before as well!



Kickstarter backer Alexander W. Corrin has granted us the etherfuser, a class that can generate a fusion pool by reducing the maximum EP available on a point by point basis, allowing you to essentially trade the regenerating EP for the non-regenerating FP in the form of ether jelly. This gooey stuff can be used to create etherfusions that are treated as etherspells of the highest manifestation level known with a range of 30 ft., etc., but unlike etherspells, they scale with levels in an additional way - they unlock modifiers over the levels. The fusion that nets temporary hit points on a round by round basis can thus e.g. be increased to provide more every round and/or also net minor DR. What about curing ability damage and freely diving the points cured among damaged attributes? Defense buffs? Setting targets on fire?



Well, things get better - the archetype receives a unique, FP-enhancing philosophy (accessible only via a feat, alas - the general class feature is not gained!) AND learns a variant of lay on hands powered by ether jelly AND even the option to learn mercies (and duplicate the effects of cruelties via an etherfusion...), modifying even extra mercy et al. to properly work with this unique new take on healing. Essentially, these guys are ethermancers that can spontaneously reduce their pool to provide healing for their allies - damn cool concept and glorious execution!



Next up would be the Herald of Creation, essentially a specialist of alteration and genesis etherhearts, complete with increased EP-regeneration while under the effects of alterations, 2 unique multiuniversal philosophies (one of which allows for alteration-blankets at increased costs a limited amount of times per day) and thus also two new capstones - essentially the first of what I'd call specialist-archetypes. The second would be the Herald of Madness, who receives access to gifts from beyond, with some overlap with aforementioned mad evangelist, but also quite an array of exclusive gifts that help the different playstyle - hanging on walls, better touch attacks - rather cool options, including a +2d4 initiative boost, which may see you staggered on a roll of twice the same number - rather nice gamble! The archetype receives an exclusive philosophy for more gifts, the option to lace his bestow etherspells with confusion effects, but also makes the spell mind-affecting. Then again, bestowing is so much easier with a handy tentacle growing from your body... Oh, and the capstone has a confusion-causing aura as well as an aberration apotheosis. The final Herald would be the Herald of the Void, who is a specialist of greater manifestations -but more on that system later. The interstitial philosopher then would be an ethermancer who forgoes greater blasts, aberrant physiology and aberrant form in favor of more multiuniversal philosophies and feats for massive flexibility.



The third base-class in the book would be mine, the Etherslinger, so let me explain to you the basics of the class - essentially, I noticed that gunslingers don't play particularly versatile or interesting. I love a bunch of the design decisions of the class to death, but especially in low powered campaigns and low levels, the action economy penalty, the costly ammunition, the inability to use guns with stealth - all these conspired to make the class less interesting than it should be. On a design perspective, at high levels full BAB touch at close range makes hitting ridiculously easy and the auto-granted deeds, while cool, do not allow for much customization - per default rules, there's not much variety between gunslingers. This class is designed to get rid of all of that and more. The class thus receives d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and firearms and light armors and bucklers, the latter sans spell failure. Etherslingers receive class level + cha-mod EP and EP-regeneration equal to 1/3 class level, rounded up. The etherslinger's caster level is equal to 3/4 her class level. Her blasts only scale up every 4 levels, but has no etherheart at 1st level - so what does she do with the EP? Well, the class receives a linear set of base abilities called etherslinging that improves in a linear way over the levels - up to cha-mod EP can be spent per round in etherslinging abilities. These allow the etherslinger to expend EP for skill-bonuses, bonuses to her next attack...and more importantly, make the use of firearms more versatile. How?



Well, first of all, the etherslinger can repair her starting gun with ether clear as an EP-costing standard action - no more "damn, I botched, now my gun is done for the battle"-crap. (Oh, and it can be further hastened by also expending grit - more on that later!) Additionally, the etherslinger may stabilize the gun to decrease misfire rates. Now at 3rd level, the etherslinger may directly generate etherbullets and propellant in her gun - these do not cost anything! No more annoyed eye-rolling at the slinger for the expensive ammunition and bullets. These ephemeral bullets, though, at least at low levels, dissipate beyond the second range increment, thus not invalidating regular bullets. At 9th level, they increase their range and at 17th level, proper sniping with these bullets becomes possible. Better yet, the action-type required to reload them can be lessened by the expenditure of EP and grit and at higher levels, free action reloads can be executed. Have I mentioned the ability to select damage types at higher levels, including elemental damage-types starting 13th level? Additionally, the etherslinging allows you to treat your guns as if they had an increased capacity for etherbullets - capacity +1 at 5th level, +2 at 15th level.



An etherslinger also receives a grit pool of up to wis-mod points of grit that follow the usual rules, but do not apply to deeds - instead, the etherslinger, beyond the ways to expend grit via etherslinging, has several unique tricks that require at least one grit or that require the expenditure of grit. Speaking of which - while the etherslinger needs guns to cast etherspells (now that's gun-obsession for you...), the class can also gaze 1/day as an immediate action at her gun to regain 1 grit, +1/day at 10th and 20th level. So, instead of grit, etherslingers receive etherslinger talents - one at 2nd level, +1 for every 2 class level after the 2nd. These talents range from passive gains of abilities while she has a minimum amount of grit available to special, active tricks that let her combine the casting (or duration-extension) of an alteration manifestation with a ranged firearm attack. What about shooting targets with the firearm and transporting the otherwise woefully short-ranged bestow etherspells to the target? Beyond that, there are quite a few unique things this class can do: What about shooting haunts and determining their destruction conditions? Making your guns water-proof and functional for that underwater adventure you've been dreading? Wrapping allies in bestow effects while you put bullet holes into the opposition and spontaneous doppler dodges? Etherslingers can also cushion their own fall by shooting at the ground, cause misfires of opponents? I also made a couple of Lucky Luke-talents that allow the etherslinger especially fast draws of the weapon, particularly compelling for those planning a lot of ambushes.



Slightly increased damage output for blasts, using grit to temporarily boost your EP-regeneration rate provide a distinct array of options and builds. A pet-peeve of mine can also be eliminated - know how a firearm-user on board wrecks any infiltration? Well, talents for the etherslinger allow them to actually participate in scenarios like that, silencing their bullets - yes, these guys can go full-blown hitman with magical silencer! Like those movies or books, where special ammunition is prepared? Well, etherslingers can do just that - against creature types and even specific creatures, with increased damage output. The cost for stabilizing guns can also be permanently reduced by talents and causing flashes of light, ricochets and the like do sound like fun don't they? Indeed, the class can also learn to treat the target of the firearm as the origin of an etherspell (relevant for shaped blasts). But, as you may have noticed, the class is not primarily about damage output - it's about terrain control, versatility and non-crippling firearm use and both the blasts as well as the talents support that - but I have failed to mention so far the exceedingly cool option to shoot bullets into unoccupied squares, creating essentially Schrödinger's bullets - as soon as a hapless fool steps in the square, the bullet is unleashed, allowing you to generate either short-lived traps or, if you choose to select a couple of talents, energy-damage dealing minefields. In playtest, mining dungeon corridors for escape or for holding positions proved to be ample fun indeed, not to speak of the nasty ambushes you can make with these short-lived pocket-dimension bullet-mines. High-level etherslingers may also destabilize their guns, increasing misfire and critical threat range and yes, making ether facsimiles of her gun is not beyond the capacities of the etherslinger - nasty surprise for those bandits that caught and disarmed all of you...



Oh, and then there are the capstone talents...what about e.g. the one that lets the etherslinger know when an intelligent creature willingly utters here name and means her, allowing her to teleport to the target? Yeah, there are quite a few of tricks like that here...have I mentioned that the class receives access to all non-class-exclusive etherhearts? Now I know this may look very powerful on paper, but MAD, small power pool, etc. result in a balanced overall contribution - most importantly, though, one that is versatile and fun. I am extremely proud of this class and I guarantee it's playing style is much more rewarding if you prefer variety over repetition and a certain level of complexity and tinkering.



One final note for the WuXia-aficionados - yes, there is a feat in here that grants you a grit-powered ki-pool (and the option to spend that ki on spontaneous bonuses to AC), opening quite an avenue of even further tricks if you want to use books like "Heroes of the Jade Oath", "Dragon Tiger Ox", etc.



(Feel free to tell me about your etherslinger's exploits via endzeitgeist.com's contact tab - I'd love to hear how my baby is doing out there! One last piece of advice - stay out of melee...)



We also receive a whole slew of new feats, which have since the original ethermancer-pdf's inception been redesigned and vastly expanded - from vastly improved base-feats to glorious feats that allow etherslingers to gain a small time-manipulation genesis manifestation to changing voidblade damage to your etherstrike etehrspell's energy type, the vast array of feats allows for some damn cool combinations indeed - including casting a limited array of alterations as spell-like abilities a couple of times per day!



Now the manifestations - oh boy! Not only are there * a lot*, they also are exceedingly flexible, from temporary EP to energy-damage buffers to reflexive damage and even tricks to convert energy damage into ether - the amount of fine-tuned and expanded alterations is awesome to see, especially since the choices that before were sub-par for the ethermancer now definitely work well for the ethermagus and etherslinger!



It should also be noted that especially alteration and bestow have received quite an array of damn cool options, many of which could be considered exceedingly interesting - what about e.g. making the target a conduit for madness - potentially spreading confusion to those nearby? Or what about trapping a target creature in dream combat with a deadly shadow of the subject's mind's own making? What about becoming a haste-like hyperspace beacon that can extend its benefits to the closest ally? What about linking two creatures with quantum indeterminacy, allowing them to swap places? Ever wanted to enable your allies to blast foes as with batteries of comets? Yup, now you can! Or what about making your allies into laser batteries that pummel foes with potentially blinding rays of light? The heretofore rather underrepresented greater blasts by now have a whole array of unique manifestations that can only be added to them. What about e.g. bouncing blasts? Yeah - damn cool. Speaking of which - genesis has also seen quite an array of new, cool options. Take e.g. the option to generate an anti-gravity (or gravity) well or making a blade with a stored blast etherspell inside? (And yes, the well allows you to use the rope of teh well to pull buckets of gravity from it...I laughed so hard when I read that...) Or perhaps you fancy a sand-filled hourglass wristband that allows you to increase your actions, but have time take its toll thereafter - pretty cool! Speaking of which - making ephemeral copies of objects can be quite helpful when playing investigation-heavy scenarios. Or how about making a book of ether that stores your knowledge-skill for you, allowing others to benefit from it, but at the cost of not having the knowledge available for yourself? What about a short-range beacon to which to teleport back to?



The voidmeld etherheart, completely new, has a vast array of new tricks at your disposal - from fishing crits to power lesser blasts to breaking the +5 enchantment limit (and yes, the math checks out and is NOT broken) and receiving a non-kitten-able hit-healing trick are part of the deal. And you know you always wanted to hit something with the force of a black hole's event horizon...right?



Now I mentioned Greater Manifestations - these are an optional system you may elect to ignore, but in my opinion shouldn't - two options are provided: 1) An ethermancer may lose a manifestation and a multiuniversal philosophy slot to learn one of these. Option 2) opens them for all classes, including ethermagus/slinger via a feat - whether you allow limited access, full access or none - all left in your hands -and that is awesome. Greater manifestations can be cast 1/day and essentially constitute the true "OMG, did you see that?" hard insta-death, crowd-control etc. tricks - 5 feats can be taken to enhance them/learn them and yes, the aforementioned multiuniversal philosophy also comes with an apotheosis. And greater manifestations are damn powerful -reducing the next etherspell's cost to 0? Yep. Black Hole? Check. But the very cake is taken the new and advanced Clockwork Universe: You choose a sun and planets that provide varying passive and active effects as you craft a miniature galaxy - and yes, inhabited planets in this galaxy may send forth motherships to destroy your enemies whenever one other satellite in your clockwork universe is destroyed or consumed by throwing it at your foes. Oh, and, of course, desert planets (one of the various additions to this already brilliant manifestation) have especially high capacities for mother ships...Have I mentioned moon bases and their capacity to fire teeny-tiny-planet-cracker missiles at your foes? This massive greater manifestation was a beauty before - now it is just one gigantic, splendid piece of awesomeness. Insta-kills, maximized numeric effects - don't get me wrong, I love the other manifestations, but this one is just too cool. What about erasing all energy-affinity from a creature? Speaking of which: HAMSTER BALL OF DEATH. Okay, It's called Firmament, is made of crystal and protects you from just about every damage, but it also allows for particularly devastating charges, hamsterball style. I *love* it! And yes, +3 manifestations for utterly massive blasts can also be chosen, as well as granting allies a taste of ether magic and a small, temporary pool. Oh, and yes, one may even resurrect creatures thanks to the powers of white holes!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting were top-notch even before I went over it and by now, all potentially game-glitch issues are gone and wording should be fitting- at least I found none. Layout adheres to a damn cool, unique, 2-column b/w-standard with original b/w-character artworks and thematically-fitting stock-art. The pdf is rather printer-friendly and excessively bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Even before, ethermagic was awesome - but it suffered from being the playing ground of just one class and not all options being made for it. Then this book came. Jason Linker's Ethermagus' concept of godblades and lead designer Bradley Crouch's new and *vastly* improved ethermancer, with all their awesome ideas and tricks, their combos, their glorious fluff and crunch - these two alone would have carried this book. Well, I am admittedly biased towards my own etherslinger class - however, I have received quite a lot feedback - from both my players AND complete strangers how much they love this class. So there has got to be something going for it, right? ;)



Kidding aside - this system makes resource-management fun. It lets you blast or magic-slice...or shoot ALL DAY LONG without breaking the game. Each and every class and archetype herein is unique and has something to offer - this is literally an all killer, no filler crunch book of awesomeness and ever since I have it in my hands, it has become a permanent fixture in my games - as indispensable as psionics or pact magic. Have I mentioned that its system could easily be used for the representation of the force or similar scifi-themed power-sources by just changing fluff? Yeah. For me, this is an EZG Essential, a candidate for my top ten of 2014 and deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. This is, even without anything I added, the best crunch-book I've seen in ages - innovative, fun, complex and yet, pretty easy to grasp. (And if you need explanations/advice or just want to tell me about your experiences with this book, don't hesitate to contact me via my hp's contact tab.)

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultimate Ethermagic
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Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2014 05:43:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page RSD, 2 pages of ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!



At this point, I assume you are familiar with the basic premise of the mythic magic-series - essentially, we receive all those delicious spells that are not included in the original Mythic Adventures hardcover in their mythic versions, with each book covering quite a bit of ground - this one taking perhaps THE defining Pathfinder book, the APG. No other book has for me coined a distinct, unique identity for Pathfinder more than the APG - it turned Pathfinder from 3.75 into a proper, truly distinct system.



The pdf kicks off with an alphabetical spell-list - one that is 4 (!!!) pages long. Yeah, that ought to provide some inkling of what to expect here! Well, let's take a look at the very first spell herein, absorbing touch: The mythic version allows you to absorb magic items and via the first augment, even use them while they are absorbed if their powers are continuous and independent of the physical interatcion - i.e. not rope of climbing-abuse; Wands etc. use up twice the charges, making for a cool caveat. On a very nitpicky side, the wording could benefit from having "wand" generalized to encompass staves and other charge-using items.. On the "awesomecake"-side, the second augment allows you to absorb willing or helpless creatures - extractions, rescue missions and kidnappings have just become much more awesome - when a spell allows for new storytelling mechanics, you know you've stumbled across something cool!



Of course, not all different mytic versions receive such a wordy, complex upgrade - there simply is no need. Accelerating all poisons instead of one? Yeah, works! Now alchemical allocation allows you to spit a potion or elixir back into its container without consuming it, but at the cost of 1/2 durations of subsequent sipping from the potion. Like it! Are you commanding a fleet? Alter Winds can be now augmented to affect a radius of one mile...just sayin'...



Add maximized and empowered effects to your extracts also makes for a nice, crunchy upgrade. One of my player's favorites, ant haul, now has mythic tier added to the effective str-score for carrying capacity. Less traightforward, the additional options for metamagic feats provided by arcane concordance deserves special mention - neat! Ball lightning, per se a non-too-interesting spell, via this book, suddenly becomes unique, adding electromagnetic properties for mythic power at 5th level to the array for unique, cool benefits. Speaking of which - Blood Biography is investigation module gold - what is your home, asking for immunities/resistances and information on kin can be gleaned - and that's not where the improved version ends. G-L-O-R-I-O-U-S. If you require inspiration on how to craft a whole module around this spell, drop me a line...



But not all spells tie in with story-telling or simply increase numerical values - there is another class of spells herein that ties in with proper class abilities - take Coward's Lament: Not only does it tie the reset of penalties incurred by the base spell to a will-save, it also increases an inquisitor's judgments in potency by the penalty AND upgrades your bane attacks to greater bane. This level of ability/spell-synergy makes for rather cool combo-potential and further helps set apart exclusive spells for certain classes, increasing the uniqueness-factor of the options available for them. Formerly subpar options like the divine transfer of the paladin have their mythic version increase the potency and thus render the spell as such much more viable, even before the further augmentation - which allows you to breath of life deceased targets - pretty cool and thematically fitting!



Speaking of further distinctions - each element that can be chosen via elemental touch comes with its own distinct additional effects, lending more tactical depth to element selection as well as distinction for different specialists that prefer one element over another. Fester's mechanic, which decreases non-SR healing by 50% + 5% per mythic tier may seem a bit clunky mechanics-wise, but the pretty awesome result makes up for the slightly math intense formula. (I am assuming you can't calculate 55% of your cleric's channel in your head - while I'm pretty good at math like that, I've seen games slowed by formulas like this, so yeah - a slightly less complicated one that increased 2 to 75% and 100% respectively would probably have been more user-friendly...)



On the cool side - what about using mythic power to scry those subject to your follow aura spell? Yes, I can see the vast potential for espionage and similar action here... Flanking with foe to friend'd characters also makes for quite a cool combo that adds a bit of tactical depth to the whole scenario. Action economy also receives some interesting tactical modifications - take frozen note, which allows its maintenance while 5-foot-stepping. Another cool design decision would pertain creature qualities interacting with spells - take e.g. geyser - those creatures with the burn quality hit by it may have their abilities suppressed. Another cool component would be spell-terrain-synergy - adding heavy undergrowth or dense rubble to hide campsite would be just what the doctor ordered! What about selectively greased lily pads that send your foes into the pond, while you and your allies escape?



Purging Finale also is interesting - by ending a bardic performance, a negative condition can be removed - awesome concept and if you like it, might I suggest the maestro class' outros? Eidolon rejuvenation-spells have also been expanded, with options to decrease hit point healing and instead heal negative conditions/ability damage/drain. Rest Eternal also has yet another unique option available - as long as you have the spell prepared, you can utilize mythic power to spontaneously cast it on yourself, preventing you from joining the undead legions, potentially even ignoring the material components! Mythic Slipstream lets you ignore caltrops and similar impediments and can be discharged for a massive tier-dependent movement rate bonus and even mobility-like bonuses.



Applying simple mythic templates to snake staves, while transmute potion to poison allows you to manufacture specific poisons and yes, spit them. Adding immediate action-based retribution-blasts to winds of vengeance? Yes, please!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good, better than in Ultimate Spells I - while I noticed a couple of minor bolding glitches, nothing particularly serious came up. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf's artworks are nice, though fans of legendary games may recognize them from previous supplements. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked, though with weirdly a list of a couple of spells before the proper bookmarks in alphabetical order begin - something seems to have gone slightly awry there, though this does not impend functionality. It should be noted that this pdf is excessively hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com - each and every spell has a link to help you run this - kudos for going the extra mile, also with e.g. terrain peculiarities hyperlinked etc.!



Jason Nelson, Jeff Lee and Morgan Boehringer have crafted a vast array of mythic spell-upgrades for perhaps the most crucial base book among the PFRPG hardcovers released so far - and this book delivers. While there are slightly more numerical-increase mythic adaptations herein than in the last mythic magic-book, that is also due to the significantly higher page-count. Let's cut to the chase - this is absolutely non-optional. If you run a mythic campaign that is not core-rulebook + MA only (and why would you?), there's simply no way past this pdf. Not only are *many* spells downright inspired in their synergy and uncommon improvements, they belong to what amounts to the very basic minimum rulekit one expects - or at least I do, from a campaign. Instead of just delivering a default job, the designers have went above and beyond the first two Mythic Magic-installments to make this book and its spells stand out, feel distinct and most importantly, diversified them. Instead of simply going into the depth, many options herein go into the breadth, enriching the game rather than simply adding numerical escalation.



This is a required book for any mythic campaign; and yes, it has slightly more glitches than I like to see, but no game-breakers - and that, alongside its sheer creativity and breadth, are what makes this stand out. It's not perfect, but for such a straightforward topic as "make mythic spells of all of these", the designers have managed to retain a freshness and playfulness that suffuses these pages and makes the read inspiring - it may not be perfect, but I quite frankly don't care in the face of creativity like this. Final verdict: 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Advanced Spells I
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ZEITGEIST #6: Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman (PATHFINDER RPG)
Publisher: EN Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:13:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the second act of what has so far been a ridiculously awesome AP clocks in at 85 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 80 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Now first things first - this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players of the Zeitgeist AP should NOT spoil this saga and instead jump to the conclusion.

...

..

All right, only DMs left? Sure? Well, you were warned.



Apart from advice for adapting the module to home campaigns and eliminating the steampunk fluff, there is, as has become the tradition with Zeitgeist, a LOT going on. It's been 2 months since the PCs managed to lure away the colossus in adventure #5 and the wheels of the conspiracies never stop turning - and now, the PCs may have a chance to remedy that. The constables are briefed to find one (mad?) savant called Tinker Oddcog, potentially one of the people involved in the creation of the titanic construct and quite probably in league with the shadowy conspiracy that has acted as the primary antagonistic force so far. Only problem is - the guy knew when to run and has left the country. Thus, the constables are off to the nation of Ber, including full-blown ship teleportation, to find the gnome before his erstwhile employers do and silence him for good. making matters more complicated would be the mostly humanoid population of the land the PCs are supposed to enter, requiring quite a bit of tact not to offend gnolls, orcs etc..



To make matters more complicated, the PCs are asked to testify at the trial of their old ally Brakken - and yes, proper cross-examination and verdicts - all not based solely on dice, but rather on ROLEplaying - kudos and two thumbs up for keeping the whole affair...well...fair. Oh, by the way, at this point, the opposition has probably made its first move already, their first assassination attempt hopefully thwarted by the PCs. After local politics have been cleared, alliances been cemented or lost, the PCs will be off towards the Summer Court - only to face a massive stampede prompted by tyrannosauruses. Plural. Yeah. Ouch, but also damn awesome! Here, the PCs will have a chance to prove their worth by braving a massive maze for the spectators - in this decadent game, the PCs will both have to survive the *relatively* harmless bears - and the mechanical, very much lethal Battle enhanced animalistic robot - B.E.A.R., all while navigating and hopefully avoiding the teleport traps...



Once the challenge has been won or lost, the true game begins - in something I have never seen in a module before -competitive rail-road construction espionage action. No. I'm not kidding. The level of detail here, including time-line and key-moments with their sabotage-attempts and issues make running this one pretty awesome indeed! Oh, and when I'm saying intrigue, I mean it - mind control, dealing with parasites and optionally, saving Wolgang von Recklinghausen from a particularly bug-affine tribe...quite abunch to be done. Finally, the bruse may let the constables meet Tinker - only to have him be revealed as a suicidal simulacra. Worse, a whole bunch of guards go replicant and start trying to assassinate the Bruse and everyone else in reach. Whether the ruler dies or not, the trail leads to the Isla dolas Focas, where a massive naval battle looms (oh joy, much ship-block stats building to use better naval rules...) -after that, the PCs will have to brave a pump station (preferably without having it blow up in their faces or the faces of the hostages, for that matter) - here, the PCs may, guided by a duplicant's voice, finally receive some information from tinker as they venture down into a volcanic foundry - only to have Risuri steel baron Pemberton show his true face as the mastermind behind Tinker's disappearance...and as one of the last covert-living dragons, hell-bent on taking Ber as his own. Between assembly-lines and magma, the PCs will have to defeat Tinker's power-armor, a draconic robot, Pemberton's duplicant...and save the gnome from certain death - quite a task, even before the Obscurati complicate things further and well worthy of the Zeitgeist AP!



Now beyond the magic items, NPCs etc., parties that manage to retrieve tinker may benefit from his brilliance and guide the development of unique, experimental technology in the campaign - is that cool or what? Beyond player-friendly versions of the maps, we also receive hand-outs and handy tracking sheets to easily run the rather awesome railroad mini-game.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not as superb as in most Zeitgeist-installments - I noticed slightly more glitches and e.g. references pointing to "Page XX" or references to e.g. the "bloodied" condition from 4th edition than usual. Layout adheres to Zeitgeist's unique 2-column full color standard with a mix of original and stock art, the latter always thematically fitting. It should be noted that the pdf is layered, allowing you to remove graphical elements for more printer-friendly results. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is nice and leaves nothing to be desired.



Ryan Nock's sixth installment of the AP, by necessity, is less in your face than #5 - Act 2 needs to be set up, with the interwoven plot-lines building slowly up to something new and different. That being said, the AP manages to retain its strengths - diverse challenges, excessive roleplaying, compelling politics and backstabbing intrigues, all set against a backdrop of importance, of varied challenges - and if my account of the adventure's plot seems convoluted, then only because there actually is so much more going on in these pages. The consequences of old relationships resurfacing and reacting properly, the omnipresent consequences of the PC's actions - all of these conspire to make this yet another superb module. While it is not the best of the Zeitgeist modules and my first reaction was a slight urge to rate it a bit down, that wouldn't have been fair; It still stands triumphantly among its brethren and manages to build up steam after the vast array of legendary things that happened in #5.

When compared to just about every other module, this still breathes iconic ideas, dares to demand smart players and is dauntingly novel and inspired - not losing steam after 6 installments, the massive machinery that is Zeitgeist waltzes on without losing steam - and maintaining this level of complexity and diversity for this long is damn impressive. I'm looking forward to the whole of Act 2 - final verdict: Once again, 5 stars + seal of approval, though this time around, it was a slightly closer decision than before.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
ZEITGEIST #6: Revelations from the Mouth of a Madman (PATHFINDER RPG)
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Urban Dressing: Borderland Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:11:00
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First: What do I mean by "new" Urban Dressing? Well, the first run of the series had a certain hit-and-miss quality; It endeavored to take components of the city and use the Dressing-formula to depict them. Alas, cities are complex and organic and the success not always guaranteed. Then, with a certain pirate town, the series changed - away from describing a single component (like a park/temple etc. and failing to take some moving bit or another into account), instead focusing on a general theme and the means for the DM to evoke this theme. This, then would be the third of.these new Urban Dressings.



We begin our trek through the Borderland Town with a table of sights and sounds one may encounter - spanning two pages and featuring drunken warrior, mercenaries, heads mounted on iron spikes and similar portents of a harsh environment, we have quite an array of great mood set pieces.



The second table sports sample businesses - from inns with great food, but drafty rooms to torchlighter guilds, places for convalescence etc., the 50-entry strong table sports an array of businesses whose very presence in a town may well spark an adventure hook! If you're like me, you have a couple of key NPCs when designing a town, those you require for a given adventure to work, and then create red herrings and common folk (which you develop later) - well, this pdf takes some of that work off your shoulders, with 50 sample folk in a table, all sporting a cosmetic peculiarity or a special mannerism that helps make them distinct, while also featuring race and suggested level/class in brackets.



Finally, we receive a table of 20 hooks and complications for those times you really had no time whatsoever to prepare anything - alarm bells, providing covert-ops intelligence on the town's militia or dead soldiers of a neighboring kingdom - there are plenty of different ways to develop each of them.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.



Josh Vogt's take on Borderland Towns, at least for me, leaves nothing to be desired - atmospheric, studded with easily implemented, yet never generic (at least in the derogative meaning of the word) entries, this installment of Urban Dressing is extremely useful.

Now, personally, I would have liked to see at times a clearer distinction between borderland themes versus ones that could be applied to frontier's towns, but that may just be me being terribly nitpicky. This pdf is , useful, fun and well worth a final rating of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Borderland Town
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Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Knight
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2014 05:09:17
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Eldritch knight base class as provided herein received d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves, 2 +Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all armor and shields, though they retain arcane spell failure chances. They also may cast prepared arcane spells of up to 9th spell level via int from the sorc/wiz list. The class counts as both fighter and wizard-levels for the purpose of level requirements. At 1st level, the eldritch knight also has to choose either an arcane school or an arcane bond. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the eldritch knight also receives a bonus feat that can be selected from item creation, metamagic, combat etc. -and arcane discoveries. The latter option makes me swallow somewhat, due to an increased frequency of bonus feats when compared to that of the wizard and thus also an increased array of arcane discoveries.



Spellcasting-wise, the class starts with1 cantrip and 1st level spell, but increases the amount of slots per day slower than the wizard, losing about 2 levels of spells gained over the 20 levels of the class on the non-martial brethren. The signature capstone spell critical of the base PrC is gained at 15th level - alas, without fixing it. The ability still allows you to cast multiple round spells, full-round action spells etc. as one swift action when criting - which is broken in my book, even at this level..



The pdf also provides favored class options for the core-races, all of which are solid -and as courtesy to us DMs, we receive NPC-builds of an eldritch knight for levels 1, 5, 10 and 15 - kudos!



Now beyond that, the pdf also provides advice for players - extensive advice, to be precise, to deal with armored spellcasting and ways to make it work - pretty cool and nice, especially for less experienced/rules-savvy players!



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Carl Cramér has done mercifully a job beyond what was required; The base Eldritch Knight PrC is utterly bland, sans identity and some would argue, bad - qualifying for it sucks and it does not provide any cool, unique tricks to pull off beyond somewhat solid melee capacities and 9/10 spellcasting progression. The translation into a full base class thus can't be faulted for being not particularly awe-inspiring. It does manage to adequately make the class both melee and caster at first level, though, and that without utterly outclassing the wizard colleagues - which is a good thing. The general take is more streamlined than the PrC and the option to take arcane discoveries helps bring the class somewhat closer to current Pathfinder's rule-aesthetics as opposed to the beginnings of the system.



Now as you may have noticed, I do not like the base PrC. In fact, I loathe it as an example of boring PrC-design that should have died a fiery death in the inferno that consumed 3.X. BUT, this is not about my personal preference; after all, I'm pretty sure that some of you like the class, perhaps prefer it over the magus. And as a reviewer, I have to respect that and at least try to provide an objective stance on this one - and it's better than the base PrC. In spite of the meager base materials provided by the PrC, this one should be considered the superior take and perhaps even a class that has a reason to exist in current PFRPG, with the thankfully streamlined saves and refreshment making the concept seem less like a systemic anachronism. And for that, in spite of my utter disdain of the class mechanics this is based on, in spite of the still flawed spell critical, I'll have to rate this 4 stars. Congratulations, Mr Cramér - I don't often get to rate a product this strongly against my own personal inclinations.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Eldritch Knight
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Demoncall Pit
Publisher: Gaming Paper
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2014 09:25:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/SRD, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



All right, still here? There we go! The Cellend family has been haunted by a prophecy most dread - according to the premonitions, one of their scions was destined to one day initiate a demonic apocalypse of "opening the worldwound"-level of catastrophe. Unlike many a stereotypical plot like this, though, the family took counter-measures -prohibiting careers as arcane casters, instead focusing on virtue, bringing forth paladins galore over the ages. Alas, as often, the true cause of the prohibition was lost to posterity and thus, Lady Astriel Cellend, born with a superb array of powers, seeks to undo the unjust restriction based on her family - guided by voices she does not understand, she has ventured into the family crypts to once and for all rid her family of the obsolete traditions. Unlike many a tradition/superstition, though, she is walking right into a trap, potentially fulfilling the prophecy and bringing unprecedented doom upon the world.



Via various hooks, the PCs can be on the very hunt of lady Astriel, entering the crypts - and once again, defying expectations, the family's former heads were not bumbling idiots, actually foreseeing something like this catastrophe looming, they have hidden clues throughout the dungeon to initiate a counter-ritual. These clues, present throughout the rooms, provide essentially a complex puzzle for the PCs to unravel as they explore the complex. Better yet, there are other things in favor of the PCs braving the catacombs tainted by the abyss. Remember that planescape maxim on the difference of effectiveness between devils and demons, where demons only reached a 13%? Yeah, these guys are chaotic and have a vast array of different liege-lords and thus, clever PCs might actually incite hostilities between the diverse abyssal threats, which include btw. fiendish grizzly bears, skitterdarks balbans (originally from FGG's Tome of Horrors, provided with full stats) and classics like babaus, cambions, shirrs etc. It should also be noted that aforementioned clues more often than not feature visual representations as plaques .



Iconic, rarely used creatures like an abyssal maw can be found herein and the final encounter is a BEAUTY - multiple waves of deadly demons surging forth, while the traumatized (but not beyond redemption) Lady Astriel assaults the PCs with her magic in a massive, epic final conclusion - but that is NOT the end. As long as Astriel's ritual is not undone, the demonic taint and danger remain - hence, the PCs will have to brave frighteningly powerful demons in a kind of second climax - and yes, the counter-ritual might very well be something your players fail to perform if they have not paid enough attention...



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Gaming Paper's printer-friendly two column b/w-standard and the cartography provided is nice. Here, something special should be mentioned - you can essentially have the whole massive map as battle-tiles and assemble it as your PCs go, provided you have the tiles (sold separately as the Mega Dungeon II-set) -neat! (Fret not if you don't have them, the module's map still is nice and can eb run easily.). The module has no artworks apart from some of the plaques encountered in the dungeon. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a significant comfort detriment.



John E. Ling Jr. delivers a surprisingly versatile module here - I expected "been there, done that"-territory and instead received a thoroughly compelling mid-level module that does something right many modules get wrong - it takes PC capabilities into account. Damaged mosaic? Mending. - Similar awareness of the system and its interactions in game show a thorough grasp of rules and play in practice. The exotic demons provided also help this module in its diversity and the smart story that does not presume that all NPCs are idiots also felt pretty well-crafted.



Now even if you utterly dislike puzzles, this module has you covered as well with advice and finally, the option for redemption and good characters to shine is great. The Demoncall Pit is a fun module and definitely ranks among the better high-level modules I've read for pathfinder - but one that definitely requires SMART players - if your PCs just bumble into this and try to brainlessly charge everything, they will not prevail against the demonic onslaught. Offering a smart array of clues/puzzle, challenging battles and generally, a carefully crafted dungeon makes up for the lack of bookmarks and artworks in my book.



The Demoncall Pit is a fun, old-school module with a dual epic conclusion and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 in spite of the missing bookmarks and lack of artwork.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demoncall Pit
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Mythic Magic: Ultimate Spells I
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2014 05:20:25
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Magic-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page linked ToC (allowing you to jump immediately to the spell you're looking for!), 2 pages introduction, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of pure content, so let's take a look!



So here we go - Mythic Magic, once again, thanks to Legendary Games' exceedingly successful kickstarter. But what does that mean? Well, as we all know, Paizo makes per se great rules-systems...but the support for them, due to a need to also cater to the core-audience, not always is enough for the discerning gamer - take Mythic Adventures. In it, mythic versions of spells were provided...but not for all spells. Legendary Games, back in the day, embarked on the monumental task of filling that gap, providing mythic versions of all the missing core spells and generating thus essentially an all but required book, core by any standard but name, for any mythic campaign.



Fast forward to this book - and here we receive the take on ALL the missing spells from paizo's Ultimate Combat. And if you recall that book's general innovation regarding spellcasting, you'll remember communal spells, which allow you to split durations between multiple targets. Now the mythic versions of those spells allow you to freely distribute the duration of communal spells - 1 round here, 3 there - no problem. The concise and easy to grasp rules-explanation at the beginning thus allows for a significantly increased flexibility and avoids the very first significant pitfall, while also providing generally valid guidelines to "mythify" your own homebrew communal spells with a nice table of minimum durations per target as determined by spell duration - really neat to not be required to deduce this from the presentation of individual spells - kudos! The feat required for this, including the option to share duration after the spell has been cast makes for damn cool roleplaying - after all, we all can remember one scene or another from literature, movies or games, where the magical/psionic defense of xyz gets stretched thinner and thinner by the amount of people protected.



After an alphabetical list of spells (with hyperlinks for those spells already covered in Mythic Adventures - NICE!) we hence delve into the spells - and immediately notice something: Flexibility. Absorb Toxicity, for example, is improved at 6th and 9th tier, receiving different options to power the spell with mythic power at the respective levels. Now if you expect a lame linear manner of crafting these spells, you'll be surprised - the means with which they have been upgraded are surprisingly diverse.



Let's stick with "A" for now - Adjuring Step receives an increased duration and makes you less prone to AoOs as long as you limit your movement to 5 ft. or less per action, while also providing at 4th tier augment that protects adjacent allies from AoO-provoking for 2 mythic power uses. Abundant Ammunition, on the other hand, extends its effects to a whole area and does not require the expenditure of mythic power to do so. Other spells are significantly modified - adoration receives a sanctuary-like effect built in and also has its bonus increased by mythic tier.
Generally, quite a few spells dramatically change the way they work and can be applied - mythic power that renders air bubbles helpful to other characters, for example - or what about adding a minor buff to a bestowed weapon proficiency? What about a 50% fortification and increased AC-bonus for bullet shields? Or perhaps you want a version of Brow Gasher that does not end when discharged? If Burst of Speed struck you as one-dimensional, +30 ft and the option to augment it to temporarily spring attack and/or even more speed should do the trick. Compel Hostility also deserves an explicit shout-out - adding a 5-ft step to the immediate action is rather cool - after all, its AoE is extended by that range... Speaking of target modification - why not dampen whole ammunition pouches?

Also pretty cool - the option to dismiss Debilitating Portent and have it immediately deal wis-damage. Beyond increased damage capacity of fiery shuriken, a debuff added for adjacent attacking creatures could well save your hide. Now not all of them are perfect - Find Quarry receives an increased AoE, but also allows you to ignore 10 ft. of difficult terrain sans slowing per round. Yes, this is in no way overpowered, but it does practically demand to be gamed into "this is my difficult terrain-ignore enhancer."



It should be noted, though, that hiccups like this generally remain the exception to the rule - and e.g. Hostile Juxtaposition's 5th tier augment for a second switch is tactical gold. What about having your Frost Fall expand each round to further adjacent 5-ft-squares for a kind of cold wildfire? I also am in love with Judgment Light, which features not only a free judgment (not counting against your limit) if cast for the first time, but which also has wildly diverging effects depending on the judgment chosen - damn modular, versatile and awesome! It should also be noted that the spells themselves and their relative power-level have obviously been considered thoroughly while designing these mythic versions, meaning that e.g. the rather powerful litany-spells do not receive a massive flexibility/power-update, just a moderate one as appropriate for mythic characters. I particularly liked the option to dictate one of the non-acting-normal-effects of Litany of Madness - can you see the madman directing the tune of the gibbering fools?



Now there is a reason why not all spells from Ultimate Combat are easily available in my game, with locate weakness being a particular pet-peeve of mine - when crunch replaces legwork and roleplaying, i tend to get annoyed, so it's perhaps due to this gripe that I can't warm to revealing all weaknesses of creatures within 30 ft. AND + tier to confirmation rolls, but that may very well be just me.



Another star would be the mythic Mutagenic Touch, which allows you to retain the effects of a shared mutagen, via mythic power - think "communal mutagen." Now if you can't see the disturbing storytelling potential, allow me to assist you - the augment allows you to add charm person or reckless infatuation to the effect - "Come, my blessed children of the fluid form, and embrace the bliss of my touch..." *shudder* AWESOME! I also consider the fact that Obsidian Flow does not immediately cool something in favor of the spells herein and violating a mythic peacebond is a) hard and b) helps those who'd clobber the offender to his/her senses. I also enjoy the effect that allows you to share the reloading expertise of reloading hands for a less abstract, more physical feel of the pooled reloading effects - as well as rewarding smart tactics à la "Shoot and move to me, my hands will reload for you..:" Both tactically AND fluff-wise more versatile, resinous skin not allows you to produce globs of tanglefoot-like slime or even exude it reflexively. More on the tactically interesting side would be the symbol of striking's increased range and reach and the option to further exchange duration for even more reach for much tighter and versatile battlefield control. Alas, the text does confuse it at one point with a symbol of death, though not in a way that would hamper the understanding of the context. Now with mythic rules providing quite a few tricks to receive percentile negating effects like fortification unerring weapon's option to diminish this immunity makes sense and +1/2 mythic tier to atk, damage, CMB and CMD make your wilderness soldiers more formidable even before extending the command actions for them to also include move actions.

Using mythic power to enchant wreaths of blades and even have them potentially gain special weapon qualities should ensure that you have the right tools for the job.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not as tight as I've come to expect from legendary Games - I noticed quite a few cut copy paste errors - like the aforementioned glitch with the symbol, communal ant haul referring to air walk and similar minor nuisances. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard full of great artworks, though fans of LG will know most from other publications. A layout nitpick - there are some minor bolding glitches here and there and the bracketed tier-denominator for augments for chain of perdition has slipped down a couple of lines. Regarding these, I also noticed a minor layout glitch - they start the letters of "3rd" etc. off as superscript and halfway through the book change that to non-superscript - again, not a serious glitch, but since some people are bound to be annoyed by it... The pdf comes fully bookmarked with an uncommon twist on bookmarks - they are upside down - i.e. the highest bookmarks refer to the last letters in the alphabet. While slightly confusing at first, I actually came to enjoy this, whether it's a glitch or intentional. Why? Because you open the pdf on page 1 and have an easy jump towards the end for a navigation that went fast and well. Slightly annoying, though, would be that e.g. the bookmark to Qualm is not in the right place in the alphabet. The pdf's excessive hyperlinks on the other hand constitute a massive comfort-bonus, especially since they seem to have been properly handcrafted, with no "will"-futures referring to will-saves and similar issues that tend to haunt automatically generated hyperlinks - kudos for going the extra mile.

Jason Nelson and Jonathan H. Keith have accomplished a task herein that I do *NOT* envy them - making this many mythic upgrades of spells is simply a task that requires true passion AND a more than solid work-ethic. Why? Because settling for simple "add + tier bonus"-solutions are pretty rare in this book, instead taking the peculiarities of the respective spells into account for unique, versatile and rewarding modifications that more often than not increase the options of the basic spell in interesting, compelling manners. The general level of aptitude herein is significant and the creativity beyond what I would have expected to find - which is particularly interesting when taking into account how Ultimate Combat's base spells tend to be eyed with some slight skepticism. This pdf should level the playing field more when using them with mythic rules. Now I am not going to judge the base spells per se (since this book is not responsible for them), but rather what has been done with the base spells and that is damn impressive. While a couple of small hiccups and tricks to cheese a tiny minority of the spells are here, that does remain the exception. In conjunction with the slightly more glitchy editing, though, I can't go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4, though, as much as I'd like to. That being said - if your mythic campaign uses Ultimate Combat's spells, this is a non-optional book and the varied, cool and unique options definitely can be considered well-crafted, with especially the general communal spellcasting framework being absolutely awesome.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Magic: Ultimate Spells I
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10 Dragon Magic Items (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/17/2014 05:16:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's 10-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content - quite a bunch for the low price point



So magic items for dragons? Yep, beyond the obvious option to use them in conjunction with Rite Publishing's excellent "In the Company of Dragons" or Rogue Genius Games "Dracomancer", the items should be considered a treasure trove for DMs - take the barbules of missile nullification, which net a 75% miss chance versus non-ray ranged attacks...which is powerful, but the beauty here would be in the fluff - the barbules are adamantine spikes that are drilled into the scales of a dragon, emitting missile-hampering force pulses - awesome imagery!



An item that allows dragons to receive the compression ability (extremely useful for dungeoneering dragons - all but required, in fact!) would also be damn cool. The aforementioned Tanimin from ItC:D can enhance their abilities with a crown, receiving more draconic weaponry and modification of a breath weapon into fire-ball like blasts also makes for a long overdue, cool trick. A ring that helps protect against the dread apostates of the White Worm and their aberrations also can be considered a damn cool flavor tie-in.



Or what about smoke-emitting barbules? A howdah to carry humanoid allies into battle? The option to suppress energy effects that include the dragon among their targets, provided the dragon has the baleful glare draconic weaponry? What about greaves made explicitly to defend against pesky humanoids?



The pdf also includes a legacy item (a magic item that scales with levels if you perform certain rituals, the Elder's Pixane that denote the dragon as heir to one of the elder's seats among the lost isles - these bracers increase not only the prowess of the tanimin and nets additional uses of draconic weaponry and improve social skills, at higher levels, the pixane allow the dragon to pronounce a naming curse and even return the recently deceased to life!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's beautiful two-column standard and the 2 pieces of color artwork are awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Wendall Roy delivers a cool expansion for the tanimin, but not exclusively for them here - whether you are a DM looking for some awesome draconic magic items or a player looking for some improvements for the dragon PC or companion, this is the go-to place. If you're not using ItC:D, some items may be less useful to you, but at this price-point, this is still a steal - short concise, and blending neat crunch with glorious fluff, this is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Dragon Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Assassin
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2014 04:18:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



The Assassin as crafted here must be non-good, receives a good ref-save and 3/4 BAB-progression, d8, proficiency with crossbows, blowguns, daggers, darts, rapiers, short bows, saps, short swords and shields and receive a massive 8+ Int skills per level. They also receive sneak attack, progressing up to +10d6. The assassin also receives the option to forgo 1d6 sneak damage to demoralize targets, more d6 increasing the chances the demoralize works on a 1d6 for +5-ratio. 4th level death attack is two levels below what the PrC receives, seeing it can only be taken after receiving 5 ranks in stealth. Not a fan of this decision.



Better options for hiding weapons, evasion and uncanny dodge - all solid. An awareness of slain targets returning to life is downright brilliant. True Death is unlocked at 8th level and quiet/swift death fit at 10th and 18th level. AQ new dual capstone of master strikes and soul bind manages what the PrC fails at - making resurrection HARD.



The class also provides advice on the option to trade in sneak attack for rogue talents to bring some flexibility back. The favored class options of the core-races are solid.



We also receive NPC-builds of level 1, 5, 10 and 15.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's take on the assassin can be summed up as a rogue on speed - and it honestly works rather well. Why? Well, for one, the rogue is, even with talented/glory-updates not a powerful class. The death attack, while extremely powerful, still requires a lot of set-up. The resurrection-sense is downright brilliant. the new capstones are actually worth the name. The massive skill-increase to 8 (in contrast to 4 of the PrC) may seem like too much, but for me, it works. From poison use to angel of death etc., all iconic tricks are here - and paid for by a decreased flexibility. Which I would complain about - but the note on alternatively allowing for rogue talent access constitutes this variety: If you think rogues are fine, maintain the linear nature of the assassin as a balance tool. If you think it needs an upgrade, go for the flexible version that can learn talents - glorious.



I love this Prestige Archetype and fans of assassins and rogues may very much want to check this out - it triumphs where the PrC fails, prevents low-level death attack-spamming abuse and provides a damn cool take on the assassin. Two thumbs up - 5 stars +seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Assassin
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Subterranean Enclave: Deephearth
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/16/2014 04:16:54
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



Ask and thou shall receive. When I complained in my review of Mith'Varal that an underdark coastal town would have been awesome, I hadn't read this. Yeah. Tied it once again at the endless sea, this time around we receive an underdark coastal town - or rather it, was. Until recently, an earthquake has blocked access to the endless sea...and then, the disappearances began in the small community of svirfneblin...



The village itself sports a selection of rather delightful morsels - from a petrified, hollowed out mushroom (which houses the temple of the village) to the recently created land bridge, there are quite a few things to see - including a svirfneblin who has literally worked himself to death, trying to reopen the channel to the endless sea. And indeed, at closer scrutiny, the council of Three who is ruling the place seems to be a bit inconsiderate towards their populace, up to the point where one may assume that there is some other reason beyond obvious economic concerns for the dwarves-hating community to try to re-open access to the sea...

(And no, I'm not going to SPOIL whether there is, and if yes, who is the mastermind behind this village's plight, but I do consider it a well-executed take on a rather old trope.) We also receive full stats of one particular...inhabitant...of the place...in the loosest of terms and the interesting, peculiar lighting conditions - there is none. Darkvision suffices the gnomes, hence your PCs better bring light...then again, they'll be VERY easy to spot in the featureless dark...and who knows who or what may pick them off...)



Conclusion:

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



Brian Wiborg Mønster's Deephearth should, by all means of its components, elicit at best a "been there, done that"-yawn apart from its geography. It doesn't. While I've seen the components before, their execution is more than solid and works rather well - the little tidbits coming together manage to make the settlement work better than it would have a right to do. Still, when compared to previous installments, it feels slightly less unique in its conflicts and context. Hence, I will settle for a final rating of 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Subterranean Enclave: Deephearth
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Broken Earth (PFRPG)
Publisher: Sneak Attack Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2014 06:11:01
An Endzeitgeist.com review

First of all - what is Broken Earth? the easy answer would be that it is a post-nuclear campaign setting for Pathfinder, set in an Allotopia (an alternate reality of our own world for non-literature mayors) - this means that no magic is assumed to exist per se, though adding in rare magic would be no issue at all.



Now the book kicks off with a vast array of crunch - from new races (ape-men and synthetic humanoids) and then receive archetypes - a lot of them - from the chem-head alchemist to scrappers, we get a cool selection here - now one peculiarity I *LOVE* about Broken Earth would be its awareness - its awareness of what's out there. If you're like me and have this great sub-system from 3pp XYZ, you want to use it - only every supplement seems to add a new one instead, often less refined. well, not so this book - from nodding towards Kobold Press' Spell-less Ranger to Rogue Genius Games' Anachronistic Adventurers-series (and the superb research-rules therein!) to Dreamscarred Press' psionics, Broken Earth provides support for all of them and still manages to maintain functionality without access to them - everyone wins. Beyond that, a mechanic that balances character creation modularity with mutations and drawbacks makes for a cool way of handling racial restrictions and still maintain flexibility. The pdf also provides an array of equipment and vehicles, rules for radiation, overland hexploration and even sample communities and associated traits. We even receive a MASSIVE array of different supplemental options for the kingdom-building rules of Ultimate Campaign! Sounds familiar so far? Well, that's because the generally known components have been released before in the separate player's guide to broken earth, which I've also reviewed in much more detail - thus, if you're interested in the details of the crunch, please check out this review.



Now a general look at the page-count shows you that this pdf mostly of new content, but what exactly? Well, for one, the book is a campaign setting - but it's also something different. When you hear "campaign setting", you usually expect write-ups of different locations and nations, politics, history and the like - here, Broken Earth, while still providing that, sets its focus in a completely different way - and is better off for it. First of all, you'll notice an unusual amount of scrappers, NPCs etc. all ready to drop into your campaign. Secondly, you'll notice something different - think about Fallout, Wasteland and games like that - what's their draw? Scarcity, exploration, a sense of desolation and lack -and the constant fear and wonder what lies beyond the next hilltop or dune. While the crunch sports rules for fuel etc., while there are pieces of information, extensive ones, that is, on tech levels etc., the result could have ended up as something a kin to a fantasy world with a post-apocalyptic spray-paint. That is NOT the case.



From proper army statblocks to enclaves of high-tech hopes for a resettlement of earth, from mutants and supercomputers todrones, the narrative potential here is perfect - to the pitch. Whether you like your post-apocalypse gritty or over the op, this book supports all playstyles from Mad Max to Katmandi at Earth's End to The Last of Us - whatever your preferred flavor of end-times would be, a certain spirit of the end-times suffuses every single component of the writing, an endzeitgeist if you will.



Yeah. I'm gonna punch myself in the face later for writing that. (And no, I am not affiliated with this book in any way!) Essentially, the rest of the book is a DM's toolbox akin to one massive, huge survival wilderness module - or AP. This book essentially doubles as its very own, superb campaign outline-collection - player-driven exploration and a vast collection of iconic locales drive an overall experience that is, by virtue of its very presentation, radically different not only in its spray-paint, but also in the experience. Exceedingly detailed hooks that can be developed in less than a couple of hours into inspiring scenarios suffuse the pages of this tome. Whether you just want a depths-of-humanity's-depravity theme or rather have your PCs fight cyber-enhanced apes - this book has you covered and oscillation between themes and tropes can be handled exceedingly easily. From giant ants to telekinetic wolves to dragons (mutated, irradiated eagles with radioactive fire breath), everything you would ask from a basic post-apocalyptic bestiary is here.



As a mostly wilderness/survival-themed sandbox, random encounter tables are obviously non-optional, and they do come in excessive detail for each general locale. The NPC-Codex like array of generic stats, rare item tables, lists of psioncs used and even an index and an appendix of media for further inspiration are provided. (The latter deserves a ruffle though -each appendix like that ought to reference the grandfather of post-apocalypse movies, "A Boy and His Dog" - if you haven't seen that gem, it has aged pretty well!)



I could go on spoiling the details, the truth behind "Phoenix", what can be found in the monster lands, comment on the pseudo-neo-feudal kingdom of Geneva...but I won't.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while there are some typos and glitches in here, the overall quality, especially for a "small" 3pp like Sneak Attack Press, is damn impressive. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column b/w-standard that manages to remain printer-friendly. The original pieces of b/w-artwork are awesome and the cartography (the main map also comes as a full-color pdf with the book!) can also stand up to this level. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience, with one bookmark out of order - no biggie, though. I can't comment on the quality of softcover/hardcover, since I do not own the print-version.



Matthew J. Hanson has written singlehandedly what usually takes a team of authors. Usually, that is cause for alarm or at least, deep scrutiny. So I went through the checklist in my head: Settlement statblocks? Check. Full-blown kingdom building support, with modified end-times appropriate new content galore? Check. MASSIVE 3pp-support, though always modular/optional? Check. Proper grasp of psionics? Check. I'd drop the f-bomb now, but I know that some filters don't like it. Just imagine me uttering it.



I honestly didn't expect to like this book - I, like so many others, have been waiting for Warlords of the Apocalypse for a LONG time. I have grown fond of RGG's anachronistic adventurer-classes and did not expect them to be supported here. I was firmly in the WotA-bandwagon. Well, they are and this massive tome manages to get post-apocalypse just RIGHT. In all its facets, in its peculiarities and different flavors. Could you introduce banned classes and elements? Yes. Could you annihilate anything super-natural/sci-fi for a full-blown extreme-gritty campaign? Yes, you could. Vehicles, survival radiation, rebuilding civilization and settlements - this book offers just about everything I could ask for. And even if you don't plan on playing in this Broken Earth, going full-blown steampunk, refluffing just about every rule herein to fit your tastes will still deliver a vast amount of content. Magical wastes, desolate planes - this book's massive array of content, even when used in unintended ways, makes for a glorious grab-bag.



Broken Earth is the benchmark that any future take on the post-apocalyptic will have to surpass -and have an exceedingly hard time doing so. Is every component perfectly finetuned? No, but seeing how much we get, how much of that just oozes the right spirit, like a possessed radiation sore, this book has slowly taken me over. Broken Earth is one exceedingly awesome tome, one that will have anyone even remotely into post-apocalyptic games grin with glee. Add to that the more than fair, very low price and we have a glorious tome indeed - well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval and a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2014.


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Broken Earth (PFRPG)
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The Genius Guide to the Dracomancer
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/13/2014 06:04:38
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This genius guide clocks in at a massive 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial/SRD, leaving us with 33 (!!!) pages of content - ridiculously much, but can it stand up quality-wise to RGG's usual standard?



After general introduction of what dracomancers are and how they work and interact with a given world, we are introduced to the class. Dracomancers receive 1/2 BAB-progression, all good saves (though the 20th level sports a glitch - fort-save should be +12, not drop-down to +6 from +11), d8 HD, 4+Int mod skills per level, spontaneous spellcasting via cha of arcane spells of up to 6th level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields. dracomancers draw their spells from the list of both magus and summoner and receive bonus spells depending on the draconic companion chosen, but more on the single most defining class feature later. The bonus spells take the form of a sorcerous bloodline, clerical domain/subdomain or druidic animal or terrain domain, but receives ONLY the spells, not the additional benefits like arcana et al. Got that?



Starting at 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter (i.e. 5th, 8th etc.), the dracomancer receives a draconic talents with which she can enhance herself - unless I have miscounted, a total of 18 such talents are provided and range from auras of elemental energy to receiving her draconic companion's form of movement, gaining natural attacks, sharing cha-mods for intimidation purposes, changing energy resistance or sacrificing prepared spells for draconic breath weapon-like effects (or wyvern poison in the case of wyverns) or receiving aforementioned arcana/domain abilities etc. Thankfully, the latter retains progression-standards and has a caveat that prevents gaining abilities before their intended level - nice catch!



Beyond these tricks, low-light vision, energy resistance, instant summoning of the companion a limited amount of times per day, scent and scaling form of the dragon up to a total of 4. This means that a 19th level dracomancer could assume form of the dragon III and I each once per day, or 4 times form of the dragon I or once form of the dragon II and twice FotD I on a given day...you get the idea. At 12th level, unassisted flight becomes possible (thankfully with maneuverability-ratings) and at high levels, blindsense/sight and energy immunity become available, to culminate finally in an apotheosis capstone that is essentially a version of form of the dragon III on steroids.



Now I've mentioned the draconic companion - and chances are, you read this review because you want to know about this dragon-pet-class. At 1st level, a given dracomancer has bonded with a dragon - and, in the time-honored tradition of many a fantasy novel, both life-forces are bonded, tying the dragon's power to the growth of the dracomancer. The logic-bug becomes immediately obvious - why bond with a feeble human? The reason is obvious - faster power-gain. While the bond between dragon and dracomancer neuters some of their abilities, it is also a fast and convenient way to gain power and increase in size, making it valid not only for self-sacrificing noble dragons, but also for power-hungry evil beasts. I *really* liked this rationale. It makes sense in-game and does not make dragons subject to Mcguffins or other dumb tricks that take away from their threat. Death of both dragon and dracomancer are covered - and yes, the interaction has the potential to spark storylines. (No, you may NOT resurrect my erstwhile master! *evil dragon chuckles as he takes off with your ally's corpse while screaming "FREE, MUAHAHA!!"*) Additionally, each dragon (or draco-form) has an associated bloodline, domain or subdomain, as mentioned above.



Draconic companions scale from 2 HD up to 16 (also mirrored by the BAB), receive 1/2-save-progression, up to 64 skills, 8 feats, natural armor bonus of 3/4-scaling, up to +7 str/con bonus, up to 6 int/cha-bonus and breath weapon scales up to x9 dice, x5 range...of what? Well breath weapons either have a line or cone as base-shape and each base companion stat that has one, does list it. It should be noted that this table lacks the plusses on BAB, saves, etc. - an obvious glitch that could have easily been caught. The respective attribute increases of the dragon are subject to the player's choice and draconic companions receive share spells, link, at higher levels evasion etc.



Now how is this balanced? Via the so-called focus. Dragons, even the most beneficent, are not used to fighting with puny little mammals. To avoid a dragon's intellect and dracomancer clashing, dracomancer must initiate a so-called focus -this can range from a standard action to a free action. Draconic Companions share the initiative of their dracomancer. Without an established focus, a dragon will only spend a single move action and appropriate, non-combat interfering free actions or guards unconscious dracomancers. To establish a focus, a dracomancer has to be within close range of the dragon and the action has to be taken EVERY round. This is the central balancing mechanism of the dracomancer and translates to a simple equation - the more powerful the draconic companion, the higher the action-tax. Note that e.g. the wyvern's 16th level advancement lowers this to one free action for 2 rounds. The pdf provides a vast array of sample draconic companions that range from dracolisks to void dragons, faerie dragons, drakes etc. - all with different starting stats and two advancement steps - one at 8th level and one at 16th level. A level 2 spell completely eliminates this option for 1/round per level, though, allowing for a kind-of-nova. Personally, I'm not a big fan of this spell, in spite of the dracomancer's very limited amount of spells known. Not necessarily from a balance point of view, but because it is a vital component of the playing experience of the class.



Now you're still probably somewhat skeptical about the spell-lists, so let me reiterate one fact - the summoner spells that only affect eidolons have a talent-tax imposed on them - to cast the eidolon-specific buffs on them, the dracomancer needs to spend one of the few talents - which can btw. NOT be increased via feats. It should be noted that Metallic and chromatic dragons are NOT covered in here - you have to get the Genius Guide to the Dragonrider for that.



Conclusion:
editing and formatting are still good, though not as refined as I'm used to by RGG. I guess at one point, this huge class got so work-intense that eyes just glazed over. Still, more glitches than I'm used to. Layout adheres to RGG's printer-friendly two-column standard and sports several nice pieces of stock art. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



I'll be honest. I don't think dragons should be PC-companions. Perhaps it's due to me never liking Dragonlance and 3.X's late over-saturation with pseudo-draconians, half-dragons etc. - but I want my dragons as the "OMG, RUN!!!"-apex predators. I'm also pretty sick and tired of the numerous "I receive kind of draconic abilities 111eleven!!"-class features, racial traits etc. What I'm trying to convey is: I'm not the audience of this class. BUT, one of my readers asked and so I took to taking this thing apart, playtesting it - the whole shenanigans.



So consider me a skeptic. This did not improve with the spell-lists, though the limitations worked rather well there. Heck, even the breath weapon has a proper cap, preventing the spamming of it. I'm not 100% sold on the end of a particular implicit cap on unassisted flight, since dracomancer could spend a talent to borrow that from their dragon at 2nd level, when usually the cap is a bit higher. Assisted flight is possible sooner (see the legendary, must-own book "Companions of the Firmament" for a break-down of that AND various takes of flight/aerial combat you'll probably need when introducing this book) and, depending on your campaign, that might be a problem.



So, how did the dracomancer fare in playtest? Well, I'm not gonna lie - this is a strong class - even with its action-tax (which all but vanishes at higher levels), the draconic companion has the potential to steal the spotlight of quite a few classes, especially at the lowest levels - but that's an issue that holds true for similar pets of e.g. the summoner, the Kobold Press-shaman etc. and not something I'd punish the pdf for. So, how do I consider this class's balance over all? Hard to say - it is a powerful pet-class indeed and its impact on a campaign can be "just another class with some damn cool tools" or "utter game-breaker", very much depending on the style of your campaign. This class is not intended for subdued or low fantasy and definitely something you'd want to limit to a high fantasy game with an appropriate power-level. in such a game, though, it works surprisingly (or rather unsurprisingly - this was made by Owen K.C. Stephens, after all!) well. Can it be broken? Yes, though not in as many ways as an eidolon. Is it for every campaign? No. But does it potentially promote a fun playing experience? after trying it out, I can answer that with "yes."

Now while I won't use this class in any low level contexts or low fantasy, gritty games, the achievement of this pdf is not only its mechanics, but its actual justification for why any dragon would agree to the demeaning task of serving mammals. And the pdf keeps the dragon's alignment, potentially sparking hilarious conflicts between dracomancer and dragon (though the latter can't act against the dracomancer's wishes...) -so no, this does not break in-game logic, it does not make dragons wimps and, to be honest, in spite of myself, if I'm honest...I kind of like this pdf. It gave me ideas for organizations, orders etc. and some nice narrative tools. So even if you don't want players with dragons..what about NPCs? Hehehe...



But I'm rambling. The dracomancer is strong and if you're using a lot of spell-books, be sure to check these thoroughly before allowing them for the dracomancer. Synergy like that can't be held against the class either, though. To cut a long ramble short - even though I'm somewhat opposed to the very concept of this class, I have to admit to liking it. If the thought of a draconic companion conjures forth stars in your eyes, if your campaign is rather high powered fantasy - then get this, you'll love it. For you, this is quite probably a 5 star-file. Those of you preferring things to be more down to earth (ouch, I know, sucky wordplay here), this still has something to offer fluff-wise and re-balancing this class is rather easy - just increase the focus action by one step and suddenly, these guys are much less versatile. For you, even if you hate the very concept, this still can clock in at 3 stars. My final rating will be in-between, at 4 stars; Why not 4.5 - look at that superb bang-for-buck-ratio? Because there quite frankly are a tad bit more minor glitches than I like to see.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Dracomancer
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In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2014 06:35:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So...this pdf introduces playable dragons - how does it go on to maintain balance and a world's fluff? Well, by a number of rather unique, narrative stunts - first, the pdf maintains compatibility with your campaign setting's dragons by assigning a unique, separate, but distinct fluff to these dragons - called Tanimin, they live in the secluded place called "Lost Isle", isolated by planar boundaries from the realms of mortals. In this sheltered place, these beings called Tanimin, have prospered - but, as their origin myth specifies, there is a taint, a cancer growing at the heart of this place, its genesis crucial part of the extensive origin myth provided. There, in this taint, all draconic is twisted, turned into undragons (here, I had a UnLunDun-flashback while reading) - in here, wyrm truly are rendered into a worm, all perverted and lost. The whole myth and following discussion of the alignment, adventuring roles, etc., including age, height and weight-tables for various sizes, all is written in gorgeous, captivating in-character prose, rendering the pdf more enjoyable to read than comparable pdfs.



Now, it should be noted that chromatic/metallic distinctions are not *necessarily* color-coding Tanimin, though alignment-changes result in a molt that sees the creature hampered, only to emerge with a new coat of scales closer to their new alignment - can you see the gold dragon molt red? I can! Mechanically, Tanimin receive +2 Con and Cha, -2 Dex, are small, receive regular movement (1/2 when wielding items in their claws), can use manufactured weapons et al (at a -2 penalty), receive darkvision and low-light vision, are immune to sleep and paralysis, can glide, receive +1 atk and +2 AC versus dragons, +2 to identify dragons, a natural primary bite of 1d4, +1.5 str-mod, +2 natural AC, +2 perception and sense motive. When wearing armor, Tanimin increase ACP by 2 and suffer the same amount as a penalty to atk and are quadrupeds, receiving modified slots and increased carrying capacity. Alternatively, they can elect for +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis and +2 Wis and Cha, -2 Dex. Among the alternate racial traits, better concentration, 1d3 secondary natural weapons (claws), giant killer-bonuses, manipulate objects sans penalty, get different bonuses, spiny hides or toxic blood.



The race also receives a couple of favored class options -barbarian, druid, fighter, magus, monk, paladin, ranger, soceror, taskshaper and war master are covered. Before I delve into the respective archetypes provided, let's not mince words so far - the tanimin are strong. The race does suffer a bit from feature-bloat, with minor racial abilities increasing the power of the race. I generally tend to consider such bonuses somewhat unnecessary. That being said, I'm not going to start my usual "this is too powerful for campaign xyz"-rant here. Why? Because we're talking DRAGONS. This book actually, by means of its very definition, is geared towards high-fantasy/power gaming and as such, it feels unnecessary and probably unfair to judge this race as being too strong low point-build campaigns on the gritty side. Got that? Awesome! On a cosmetic level, the slight feature-bloat and two alternate attribute-sets that gear the race towards caster/martials are not something I'm overly fond of. Still, generally, the race itself can be considered strong, but manageable.



Now the archetypes - first would be the draconic hero - an archetype that allows a tanimin of any class to grow at the cost of some class abilities usually gained - as a massive multiclass-covering archetype, the abilities replaced vary from class to class, once again including taskshaper and war master among the supported classes. Scaled Juggernauts are essentially tanimin fighters specializing in combat with their natural weapons, gaining rake and pounce at higher levels. Trueblood Sorcerors are locked into the draconic bloodline, but receive a scale-spell-component that replaces material components/divine foci and replace regular bloodline powers with a breath weapon. White Worm Apostates, oracles tainted as undragons, receive degrees of fortification and may disgorge a swarm of consuming, maggot-like worms and later, rise as a twisted phoenix from their corpse 1/day - a very powerful archetype that absolutely *requires* the immense social stigma associated with the white worm to be added to the campaign.



Now the racial paragon-class, which covers 20 levels, nets the tanimin full BAB-progression, 3 good saves,d12, 4+HD skills per level, no proficiencies apart from natural weapons. The tanimin also receives a draconic essence - each of which provides one type of scaling energy resistance, a color, a breath weapon type and a unique compulsion, which always remains hard for the dragon to refrain from doing - Which fits in thematically nice with the overall theme of draconic types - a total of 20 such essences can be found herein. Additionally, at 1st level, 7th, 13th and 19th level, the draconic exemplar can choose draconic weaponry - these can be used 1/2 class level + con-mod times per day. Rather interesting - if applicable, their save-DC is governed by either con or cha, depending on the ability. They include fascination-inducing gazes, bolstering oneself against assaults, receiving the breath weapon associated with the chosen essence, minor spellcasting, elemental aura, charging through allies, enemies etc. Additionally, at 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the exemplar receives a draconic defense, which is chosen from its own list - rerolls versus sonic/language-dependent spells, evasion while airborne, spell resistance (even reflective one!) - quite an array of iconic tricks here.

As if that wasn't enough, we receive a third list of special abilities - draconic gifts - chosen at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, they are also governed by con or cha, depending on the ability. These gifts usually require a specific draconic essence to pull off - without access to energy (acid) and a corresponding breath weapon, you can't make pools of acid, to give you an example. Adding an auto-trip on a failed save to the breath weapon would be possible, as if lacing the bite with the breath weapon's energy. Somewhat metamagic-y tricks based on using draconic weaponry's daily uses as a resource for bonus damage, growing an alignment detecting pearl that works with Tanimin exclusively, adding poison to the breath, mastery of the elements, shapechanging into a humanoid, better frightful presence while airborne or increased speed/expanded class skill lists - the choices are many and while some are limited and available only to specific alternate racial trait choices of the tanimin, the sheer amount is rather impressive, though you'll be expect to do some very careful reading here - quite a few combos are available only to specific builds and locking yourself out of a specific option might be something you wish to avoid.



Now you may have noticed that I've been mentioning flight and that the base race does not offer this. Well, here's where dracomorphosis comes into play - gained at 4th level, this one nets you increased reach with the bite, secondary wing attacks (or gore for Lung-dragons), AC and attribute bonuses and size increases - and flight. Dracomorphosis is gained every 4 levels thereafter, allowing the tanimin to grow to gargantuan size at 16th level - the race also reduces dex during the size-increases and receives tail sweeps, crushes etc. Which is damn cool, granted...but what happens if dex drops to 0? No, I'm not kidding - with a total reduction of -8 to dex, this is a real possibility. And yes, I am aware of how this sort of thing is usually handled with monster-advancement, but the point remains that this pdf ought to have tackled this particular issue. The capstone is, of course, the final great wyrm apotheosis.



Of course, we also receive quite an array of new feats - additional uses of draconic weaponry, additional draconic defenses and gifts, better crushing, breath weapon modification, turning claws into primary natural weapons and high-level appendage severing (and even vorpal!) natural attacks become part of the deal.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with an array of different, neat full-color artworks of various styles.



Wendall Roy's Tanimin have a difficult standing with me - as perhaps the ultimate of high-powered races, at least concept-wise, playing dragons is honestly not something I'm the target demographic for. The issue is simple - make them balanced versus standard races and you have pseudo-dragons (pardon the pun) or make them as they should be and you have over-powered beasts. *Personally*, for me dragons are the apex-predators and anything that diminishes them is not something I tend to enjoy. The narrative frame provided herein would be a neat way to offset this particular issue - and one that I wholeheartedly applaud.



So are the tanimin deadly? YES. They are. While their most powerful draconic weaponry thankfully has a daily limitation imposed on them, the sheer array of natural weapons and powerful options available make them formidable foes. The almost universally applicable archetype for draconic growth is a great way of handling adventuring tanimin of all couleur. And I do really like the highly modular draconic racial paragon class - much more so than I deemed possible.



Are the tanimin perfect? No - they have a bit of "rules-fat" that could be trimmed so they work better for less high-powered campaigns, the same problem many races balanced with rough regards to the ARG have...but then again, they probably don't belong there in the first place. And yes, they are better balanced than *A LOT* of the ARG races. Two sets of alternate racial stats are geared towards martials/casters, respectively - and I'm not a big fan of that, preferring a more universal take (as per the default attribute-array) - but since that is easily disallowed/adjusted to your personal preference, again, at best a minor nitpick. Now as a DM's toolbox, this is one glorious book, an alternate, highly modular toolbox to make dragons work more as a force/nation, rather than individuals - also thanks to quick and dirty, by no means extensive, but at least existing, renown/reputation-rules.



Now as for the player-part - the tanimin are not a weak race and you should be aware of that as a DM. Not all campaigns will find them fitting in well; If magic items are e.g. pretty rare for you, these guys immediately lose one of their drawbacks, the decreased slot-array. That being said, if you don't play your cards right as a tanimin-PC, you can still pretty easily die - the tanimin's defenses, in spite of armor, SR, DR etc. are pretty weak and while they can wreak deadly havoc, they will also find themselves at the highest priority to kill of just about any foe - after all, who do you kill first? Easy, the friggin' dragon! Add to that the big form and thus, high chance of being a target of enemies/in the AoE of spells...you get the drift. Increased cost of armor and the resource-expenditure (either in items or abilities chosen) to maintain adventuring shape (shapechange to fit into tunnels, etc.) required for them also are rather ingenious, subtle balancing mechanisms. Now the oracle archetype definitely only belongs into DM-hands, but the rest of the options provided may be strong, but aren't broken per se.



In fact, in spite of my admitted trepidations against the very notion of playing dragons, I can't find it in me to bash these guys. While a couple of the abilities (crush, tail sweep, breath-tricks, etc.) are powerful and lend themselves to the full-blown knee-jerk reaction of screaming "This is OP", actually playing the beasts tells a different story - the larger dragons require room to properly act and that is simply not always there. The decreased slot-array for magic items also hampers them at high level play, offsetting some of the admittedly meat-grinding oomph their array of natural weapons may cause. When they *can* act a perfect round, the player *will* be grinning, though, as damage keeps piling up. So, how to rate this, then? That's a tough one. For DMs, I'll settle on a full-blown get-this-recommendation to up their draconic arsenal or simply to use the tanimin as a much cooler draconic race that mops the floor with draconians, half-dragons etc. - they have the better flair, fluff, etc. For players - IF you are playing a high-fantasy campaign and lean towards the higher end of the power-spectrum, go for this. For low-powered games...why are you reading a review on playing DRAGONS? Kidding aside, there are some minor rough patches here and there and with the significant array of unconventional tricks usually reserved for apex predators and monsters, especially inexperienced DMs should *very* carefully read this one, lest it prove too much for them. On the other hand, one may argue that the "KILL THE DRAGON!!!"-factor, social stigma etc. can help quite a bit streamlining this one further.



For me personally, the pdf clocks in at 4 stars due to aforementioned minor hick-ups and my own mentality towards when to play dragons as PCs (In short: Not in my campaign.); As a reviewer, I have to applaud the significant task and achievement that this pdf represents - streamlining the collective of dragonkind into an actually rather well-crafted race that should work perfectly in most campaigns that take up the theme of draconic PCs. As such, this would be a 4.5 stars file, due to the minor issues here and there, but one I grudgingly have to round up - the tanimin's flavor is too interesting, the options too varied and the racial paragon class ultimately, too cool to ignore or even call "only" good. DMs - to properly judge the impact of this class, don't just stare pale-faced at the potential calculated damage output of a full attack; Instead, make a PC, run the character to ye average module (NOT a simulated fight in a vacuum)- you'll see what I'd call intangible (i.e. non-math) balance factors - which for once, work in favor of this book.

Congratulations to Wendall Roy for pulling off this stunt - consider me definitely looking forward to the planned expansion!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Dragons (PFRPG)
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Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2014 06:31:41
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 6 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!



First question - what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class - so no, these classes don't necessarily mean that you'll have a universal archetype (wouldn't have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don't have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don't want to play. So that's definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the "prestige"-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I'm not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.



All right, the Dragon Disciple receives 3/$ BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves ,d10, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light armors (no arcane failure in light armor and spontaneous spellcasting governed by Cha of up to 6th level, with the spells drawn from the magus-list.



At 1st level, the dragon discipline receives 1d4-damage dealing primary natural claws (1d3 if small). These claws increase in potency over the levels, later counting as magic etc. and increasing base damage-dice size and even add elemental damage to the output, depending on the energy of the breath weapon. More on that later.



At 2nd level, the draconic disciple also receives a bite attack, again a primary natural weapon, but one with a unique option - on a full attack, a draconic disciple can forego a bite attack in favor of casting a spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less. Interestingly, the dragon discipline may opt to choose to take a penalty to all attack rolls and receive the same amount as a bonus to concentration checks to cast said spell defensively. The class can either first cast the spell or attack, but cast the spell mid-attack. He still needs a free hand and when mixing attacks with manufactured weapons. Alas, a minor glitch has crept in here - the option to improve defensive casting while attacking requires a caveat to specifically mention that the penalty applies even if the attacks are executed before the casting of the spell.



At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the dragon disciple also receives a bonus spell from a fixed list - a tad bit more versatility to choose from would have been nice. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the disciple also receives an increasing natural armor bonus. Boosts to attributes (fixed) are gained at 5th, 8th, 14th and 20th level. Resistance to the breath weapon's energy type is gained at third level and scales up to 15 at 15th level in two steps. At 4th level, aforementioned breath weapon is gained; Its uses per day scaling up to 6/day at 19th level, thankfully coming with a cooldown that prevents going nova with the class level x 6 damage dealing breath, the shape of which btw. is determined by the type. At 6th level, a specialized spellstrike that only works with the bite attack is gained - here special kudos for preventing dual casting confusion via the bite's regular potential substitution! At 10th level blindsense is also pretty appropriate. High level draconic disciples can assume Form of the Dragon I at 13th level, increasing the potency of the form every 3 levels thereafter, analogue to the improved versions of the spell. Wings are gained at 15th level and the 20th level immunities gained are solid.



We also receive FCOs for the core races and a sample NPC in progressive builds of levels 1, 5, 10 and 15.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Carl Cramér's Dragon Disciple is a surprisingly nice take on a PrC by now utterly outdated, rendering the transformation into a humanoid dragon-like figure into a concise, well-crafted whole. The spontaneous casting + magus-like tricks in the arsenal of this class render it an interesting evolution. The potential for blasting disciples is massive, though not as pronounced as if it had access to the wiz/sorc-list - essentially, this is a dragon-themed alternate magus and one that admirably well captures what the class is supposed to do: If a dragon disciple elects to let loose its arcane fury, you won't be wanting to stand on the receiving end. That being said, the restrictions imposed by the design maintain it as a kind of glass cannon and the significant loss of overall flexibility (no spell recall due to spontaneous casting, no knowledge pool, no arcanas) when compared to the magus makes for a valid trade-off for the draconic abilities gained. Over all, a well-crafted take on the concept with one minor wording that could have used some more refinement - still, a cool little pdf, well worth 4.5 stars - now one thing is slightly nasty: The increased spells per day and better on the spot versatility make the class a tad bit better at blasting, which may prove to be a bit much for low-powered gaming...hence I'll round down to 4 for this one, though remain with an explicit recommendation.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Prestige Archetype: The Dragon Disciple
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Underworld Races: Draaki
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/12/2014 06:26:49
An Endzeitgeist.com review

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



As with the other installments of the Underworld races-series, this one kicks off with a massive mythology of the subterranean races, a collective origin history that can be potentially transplanted from Aventyr into other settings, should one choose to do so. So what are the Draaki, wait don't tell me - "descendant from dragons-blabla", right? Wrong! Yeah, I was surprised as well.



Indeed, the now nameless race that was to turn into the Draaki once enslaved the primal dragons, now looking deceptively like their erstwhile slaves. If you want the whole story, though - then check out this pdf.



Onwards to the mechanical side of things - Draaki receive +2 to all physical attributes and -4 to wisdom, making them too geared towards martial endeavors for my tastes. They have the reptilian subtype (they are NOT dragons!), receive low-light vision and darkvision 90 ft, SR of 5+ character-level, light blindness and may change shape into a drow-likeness. They also receive +1 to atk and a +2 dodge bonus to AC and saves versus draconic spells and abilities. They also sport 5 subtypes. One has a slapping tail that deals 1d8+str-mod damage, but fails to specify whether it's a primary or secondary natural attack. One has gliding wings (which allows them to glide - d'uh - and never take falling damage) and 3 sport breath weapons - one cone of acid, one line of electricity and one a line of fire, all usable 1/day as a standard action for 1d6 points of damage, no scaling.



Over all, the Draaki's base racial characteristics feel a bit too much - two superb senses, SR AND the subtype-ability together feel a bit bloated. We also receive favored class options, which generally are solid, though the addition of force damage to alchemist bombs feels odd - so direct hit versus incorporeal targets is marginally effective? Yeah?



On the other side, rules for weaponry made from dragonbone and special sinew bowstrings for composite bows make for damn cool, if powerful materials. A total of 6 new racial feats are provided - gaining a fly-speed with your wings at 5th level would be damn nice, and energy resistance versus your breath weapon's energy is also an okay, flavorful way of enhancing racial fluff, while two feats that just net skill-bonuses fall firmly in the filler category. The feat that enhances the tail attack is just confusing - "You may use your tail to make one secondary natural attack per round in addition to attacks of opportunity." Come again?. So...can I use the tail to deliver AoOs now? Is it a secondary natural weapon or a primary weapon or both? Total confusion. Is the secondary attack at (I assume...) the usual penalty IN ADDITION to the secondary (or primary?) attack? No idea - those tails need clarification. As a kind of mini-capstone to the feat-tree, with 3 feats prerequs, we can get +4 to UMD AND +2 to ALL saves versus spells and spell-like abilities...ähem...this is cool, yes, but too strong for my tastes.



We also receive 3 new magic items - greaves that allow you to slow falls by bounding from wall to wall (damn cool!), a focus to improve their breath weapon and a periapt that permanently bestows a new spell on the draaki. Said spell is one of the 3 new ones and nets a secondary bite attack that deals bleed damage on a crit. Okay, I guess. Very interesting would be the spell that increases the effectiveness of the breath weapon used in conjunction with it - think of it as a teamwork breath weapon disguised as a spell. Finally, one spell bestows a draaki breath weapon or +1 use of it.



The final piece of crunch would be a 5-level racial paragon class, which renders these breath weapon-focused tricks viable in the first place: At full BAB, d10, 4+Int skills and up to +2 ref and fort, +3 will and +3 natural armor, the paragon class is solid - it allows the draaki to get more than one breath weapon, increase their damage dice, and even combine them in one action. Their increased spell resistance has not been properly bolded and they receive detect magic at will and 1/day dispel magic and as a capstone, they increase flight speed, breath weapon range and also receive DR 2/-.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though a couple of bolding glitches, typos 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.



The Draaki have me torn - on the one hand, I consider the base race a tad bit too strong, a tad bit too geared towards the nomad/martial trope. On the other hand, the base breath weapon of non-racial paragon-draaki are pitifully weak, while the PrC makes them more powerful, without making them too strong. Indeed, when taking the feat-cost etc. into account, the racial paragon-class may even be a tad bit weak. The new items are cool, though the spells are a bit weak. The feats leave me torn as well.



So, are the Draaki boring? No, they're not - they are an interesting race and rank among the better of draconic-looking humanoids I've read. Their supplemental material ranges from great to slightly problematic. All in all, they are a nice race, but one that could have used a tad bit more streamlining. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Draaki
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