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Ninja

Endzeitgeist's page

5,265 posts. 2,301 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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Part II of my review:

The Undying has d8, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all armors and simple/martial weapons. The undying receives scaling bonuses versus fear and pain effects, but pay for this conditioning with the requirement to obey orders. Here's the deal of the class: You want to die. The first time you die each level, you're resurrected as per true resurrection (CL information would be appreciated for magic-suppression-interaction), +1/day at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter.However, undying already die at 0 HP - but the cool thing here is that, when they resurrect, they unleash so-called phoenix arts, the first of which is gained at 4th level, +1 every 4 levels thereafter: From bursts of light to devastating flame-novas and AOE-heals, these are pretty much awesome. Only one burst can be applied, +1 at 10th level and the class receives further abilities themed around the extremely evocative concept. Okay, if you've read my review of Rite Publishing's "Secrets of the Divine: Madness, Death, Justice, Healing," you'll know that I really like the idea of a campaign focused on returning characters. If you're like me, this class elicited a "Hell no!"-response nevertheless - when it shouldn't. You see, while powerful on the defensive side and while the deaths seem incredibly strong, the class is in a bit of a dilemma: In order to work at peak efficiency, the undying has to die - which makes it more vulnerable. The bursts are very powerful, but they need to be just that...and the increased vulnerability of the class further helps here. It's surprising, but in playtest, this one turned out to be very much killable and balanced, particularly due to scaling issues against mind-control. Yes, you have your nigh-unstoppable undying...but you may want to be careful with that enchanter over there...oh, and actually being mind-controlled and then slain by your allies is a valid strategy here that should result in no bad blood. This class plays completely differently from any class I've seen so far. Ambitious and oozing flavor, these guys are theme-wise by far my favorites in this book and may be worth getting the book all on their own!

Okay, you may very much call me out on this one, but I'm not sold we actually needed the Wrath class, a hybrid of rogue and inquisitor. Paying for rogue abilities with the inqui's spells, their eponymous wrath can be pictured as an always-on judgment with singular targets. That being said, this 3/4 BAB-progression class does have something some other martials herein lack: Non-combat utility galore. Oh, and the rogue talents the class can exclusively access are superb - there is, e.g., one that allows the wrath to suppress divine energy (channeling, spells...) and another that allows you to fluidly poison weapons after crits. Or what about the genius ability I'll scavenge for inquis, which allows the wrath a massive (+20) bonus to notice invisible foes? (Yes, that sneaky invisible guy will SWEAT in his corners and try hard not to move...) I was pretty much surprised by this one in that I actually liked some design-decisions here and enough unique material to set it apart versus the parent-classes - so kudos there!

This book also contains PrCs galore, all but one (the Storm Envoy) featuring full BAB-progression over their respective 10 levels. Seeing how this review already passed its fifth page as I write this, I shall be brief. The aforementioned Storm Envoy would be a legendary courier you employ when you need things delivered to hostile places like war zones or the abyss. Storm Envoys receive increasing speed as well as agility-related options (e.g. Acrobatics at full speed), self-haste and the option to utilize their vast speed to duplicate spells, from teleport to mirror image by tapping into the resource-management of the PRC. All in all, a cool one.

Speaking of which: The Mystic Seeker would be a representation of the famous, eerily accurate blind fighter trope, managing to get blindsense/sight-progression down rather well - though the interesting component would not be the limited true strikes they can unleash, but rather the high-level option to completely re-do one of their turns, explained by their preternatural insight. Interesting!

The Lone Wolf would be just that - a powerful representation of the solitary skirmisher, the savage soldier that loses animal companions and t5he like, but finds so much more potency in their solitude, including immunity to fear, but at the expense of their cynicism thwarting any morale bonuses. The PrC is iconic and cool.

The Frog Knight would be an agile knight - D'uh - and can jump really well; additionally, he's pretty great at amphibian warfare tactics and provides nice synergy with Dragon Tiger Ox's more differentiated (and tactical!) unarmed attack rules. Sure, this is a bit of an odd PrC, but still a cool and valid option.

Commandos are basically Rambo-the-PRC, with great stealth and several specializations that include limited spells, barbarian rages and the like as well as a focus on ambushes -and here, the commando is downright OP: Gaining a limited number of special, additional solo surprise rounds per day - basically, before rolling initiative's done, these guys can get a free surprise round out of the deal. In the hands of an experienced player, these guys can be true nightmares - while I like the flexibility and design of the chassis, I'm not too big a fan of the PrC's numbers.

Finally, there would be the Bogatyr of the Dying Light - sworn to hopeless causes, there only traditionally are 23 of these knights only unleash their full potential against foes stronger than they are - including, at higher levels, ignoring DR. The PrC also gets resolve and some neat offensive and defensive tricks, making these guys not only flavorful, but also pretty iconic and rewarding to play.

Beyond all these classes and PrCs, this massive book also sports 6 pages of feats - why else would I have explained the [Feral] and [War]-descriptors in the beginning of this review? So yeah, there are quite a lot of feats herein, including a follow-up-feat for Weapon Focus that extends its benefits to all of your proficient weapons, nonlethal damage causing demoralize-attempts and the obligatory class-enhancing feats. The book also sports traits o further emphasize the rival-trait and a feat to grant yourself temporary hit points 1/day. Now, as you know, I'm not a big fan of revising feats unless there is a specific reason - adding grapple to Weapon Focus' options would be one such case, while the revisions in particular of the critical-feats here make sense to me. That being said, this obviously is a matter of taste. The pdf then closes with a rather impressive amount of unique weapons, ranging from Qian Kun Ri Yue Daos to heavy rapiers and dire kukris.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a rules-level are surprisingly tight for a book of this size. On a formal level, though, there are quite a few glitches like its/it's, missing letters and the like. The PrCs are also inconsistent in their listing of iterative attack-bonuses or their omission. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with each class receiving a great full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

The team of designers of Little Red Goblin Games (here Scott Gladstein, Caleb Alysworth, Christos Gurd, Ian Sisson and Dayton Johnson) have surprised me with this book. You know why? because I've seen a lot of martial classes and, for the most part, specialist martial niche classes end up feeling to me like they could have been handled via archetypes in most cases. Not so here - each of the classes herein has a complex framework of abilities that justifies the classes standing on their own. The PrCs sport high concepts and make sense as classes not immediately available - they get the "Prestige"-component right, something many, including Paizo's, often fail at. There is a more important factor, though: This book follows the first commandment of design in all instances: "Thou shalt not be boring!" Achieving this is harder than it sounds when you're confronted with a jaded bastard like yours truly.

While not each and every component herein is perfect, there certainly are instances in this book I'd consider absolutely glorious: The Undying is narrative potential galore for the GM and a very uncommon experience for the player and it alone is book-seller-level awesome. The Guardian is really cool as well and I do enjoy the tataued warrior - much more so than I thought. While the Adventurer will never get near my games, I know it will find its niche out there. Add to that some rather cool PrCs and we have a book that lacks any objectively bland content - we could argue about some design decisions of commando and wrath, sure, but still - the significant majority of this huge book of crunch saw me smile and even inspired me in some cases...and ultimately, I'd rather have some awesomeness and some components that slightly over/undershoot their mark than a grey paste of blandness that's perfectly balanced.

The majority of content herein is well-crafted, if plagued by none-too-precise editing here and there and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars with a recommendation if the content even remotely interests you - you'll be hard-pressed to find a better bang for buck ratio and it's been a while since a single crunch-book has seen as many classes being allowed in my games ...so yeah...this is one of those cases, where components of a book actually excited me. As a reviewer, I may not be able to give this five stars for its formal and, sometimes, balancing flaws- but the components I love definitely justify slamming my seal of approval on this book. Hence, my final verdict will be 4 stars + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.

Cheers!

Endzeitgeist out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. Also: Nice array of well-written reviews - good job, everyone! :)


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OO Totally missed/forgot about the start of this one. Will feature the KS in my next KS-showcase update. Good luck - we need more of these experimental, far out ideas!


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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@Porridge: I consider Legendary Rogue to be the best of them.

Rogue Glory is a great buy in conjunction with it due to the revised stealth-rules, explanation on how you detect magic traps and disarms them etc.

The Talented Rogue is great, but it basically "only" takes class features from base class and archetypes and codifies them in a modular framework, whereas the legendary rogue offers complete customization of just about every rules-component, as well as a streamlining of rogue options like talents to power-wise be equal to e.g. alchemist discoveries etc. The design is also so modular, you can take any of its components on its own, which is simply stunning.

Hope that helps!


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Rite's Heroes of the Jade Oath and Little Red Goblin Games' Dragon Toger Ox satisfy my rules-niche for WuXia. Particularly the latter HotJO-supplements are pretty cool and offer some superb fluff...but Wuxia-adventures...not so many out there.


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Kaidan is awesome, but more horror-themed. I'd suggest checking out Rite Publishing's "Infernal Romance at Moon Temple" and Legendary Games' Jade Regent AP-plug-in modules as well.


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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Yes, Wetlands!! :D


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@Silverhair2008: I can't fathom how awesome it must be to have a FGG steel cover book. :) Still, very excited for my regular deadtree! :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop as well as Lou Agresta's RPGaggression.

Cheers!


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Okay, having grown up with Meat Loaf and Uriah Heep blaring from the speakers of our cars, I developed a taste for such a music at a pretty early age. The perfect reading material for me at this time, the material that still makes me warm and fuzzy inside my cold, black reviewer's soul? Not the superhero-comics, though I read those as well - to me, my heroes are and always will be Conan, Red Sonja, Solomon Kane, Elric - the latter particularly due to my exceedingly bad health as a child.

Scifi-wise, as a German, I obviously devoured Perry Rhodan - the whole collection my parents had, which amounted to about 1800 issues. Yeah...

From there on, the books and games began and the rest is history...but those grim heroes with their tales of Pyrrhic victories always resonated most with me.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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Updated my review to reflect the changes made.


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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There are small modules at the back of RC - have you seen them? Beyond those: Heart of the Razor and Dead Man's Chest by Frog God Games; Legendary Games' Islands of Plunder-series (plus Cutthroats & Crews and Pirate Codex for NPC-stats) are what immediately comes to mind. (Reviewed all of them.)

If you're willing to do conversion work/statblocks, 13th Age's "The Strangling Sea" is a superb module that fits tone-wise with RC (reviewed that one as well).

If you need more, drop me a line.


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted ehre, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

@The Xiao: No, the classes were scrapped in favor of a modular system that can be applied to any table no matter the power-level - which, in this case, I applaud. The techniques are grouped by schools, though, and each school has an extensive background - which you obviously are free to ignore. ;)


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to NErdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here. Congrats and happy holidays to all of you fine folk!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Part II of my review:

Okay, where things get interesting, at least for me, is with the advanced magic-chapter: Instead of smashing these components into the design of the vanilla spheres, the advanced magic talents provided can be envisioned as the rather brutal options: 2-mile darkness? Check. Tsunamis and summoning? Check - This section is absolutely, marvelously, brilliant. Why? Because it does right what so many systems like this do not get: There is a lot table-variation out there. From low-fantasy grit to epic high-fantasy, from magic suffused space-opera to horror-esque sci-fantasy, there are infinite ways to play the game - and this chapter collects the high-fantasy, huge AoE, narrative effects and takes that requirement off the GM's shoulders: No skimming through the spheres and disallowing certain options - simply restrict this chapter (or unlock) it at your leisure and there you go. Quite honestly, this is absolutely stunning: Want to play a game where PCs can unleash tsunamis against dragon-fleets? Allow! Want to play gritty survival at low levels? Ban (at least for the PCs...)! Simple, elegant and as tightly phrased and presented as possible. A joy to read and a fistpump-worthy hell yeah moment if there ever was one.

Secondly, rituals deserve special mention - know how I mentioned that imho, this works best as a substitution? If you're like me, you will have rolled your eyes and thought: "Oh great, so module xyz, which banks on spell zyx, now won't work." Enter rituals. Basically, this allows you to redesign spells into sphere-based rituals that duplicate the spell's effects and aligns them with spheres. While personally, I'm not a big fan of adding the power imbalance of the triple scaling axis of spells back in, particularly when a module requires the like, a limited system-transparency is thus maintained...and you can still tinker with the casting time (which is increased significantly) even further: This allows magic to have a Sword & Sorcery-style flair: Sure, there is the quick sphere-casting...and then, there is the time-consuming, dread, city-leveling rituals...and you can add wonderful lists of exotic components to the fray for further adventuring opportunities and means for the PCs to foil evil ritualists. Optional pricing and tables of strange effects further supplement this use of the rules.

The Spellcrafting system that allows you to make your own magical effects, at least to me, somewhat pales in its actual requirement (seeing how many spells can be converted), but who am I to complain...particularly when my beauties, one of my favorite sub-systems, incantations, are covered as well? This book, at this point on my initial read, had achieved an almost creepy level of "EZG likes it" - something further escalated by the copious player options that not only manage to get counterspelling and circle casting and contingencies right; no, beyond mere feats and the like, it was the accumulation of casting traditions that further elated me to levels of joy seldom obtained: Basically, you choose boons and drawbacks for casting traditions, representing benefits and drawbacks of individual approaches to magic, with general and sphere-specific ones all coming together in one glorious customization fest that should have both players and GMS alike grin from ear to ear.

Okay, but what about the magic items? One whole chapter is devoted to magic items, crafting and modified effects, further underlining the massively-detailed, holistic approach of the book. And yes, you'd be right in a way that this book may sound daunting at first glance - it's really not. Also thanks to a massive chapter guiding you through the implementation of rules, the cherry-picking process and manipulation/creation of more of them - before actually delving into several brief sketches of sample campaign settings sporting the rules- Oh, and, just in case you're like me a grumpy guy and now would begin complaining about "magic not existing in its own vacuum" and things like "world consistency" - what about no less than 6 sample organizations, including traits and TPA/CPA-levels? Heck yes.

But, you know me: I'll still complain over the lack of NPCs. Well, we get those as well. And skeleton/zombie/animated object toolkits. Oh, and char-sheets.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch -while I noticed very minor inconsistencies here and there (one ability reading: (primary...) while another read (Primary...) and the like, at this point, any complaints about those sound hollow. One pet-peeve of mine makes me constantly cringe, though: The books gets cold damage wrong, constantly referring to it as "frost damage" etc. - something that btw. also extends to the expansion..but at least it is consistent in this glitch.

Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard with ample of original full-color artworks. The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and provides an interactive version of the char-sheet. Unfortunately, I do not own the physical copy of this book, so no, I can't comment on that version.

Adam Meyers, Owen K.C. Stephens, Thomas Keene, Ryan Ricks - gentlemen, you have me utterly flabbergasted. It's time to come clean here: I wasn't excited about this book in the least. Not at all. I saw the KS and literally thought "Meh, don't need it." You see, the pitch of avatar/fiction-like spellcasting simply didn't appeal too much to me. Damn, was I wrong. For one, sphere casting is much (MUCH!) better balanced than vacian spellcasting and the introduction of the material herein should end the martial/caster-strife for most groups. Secondly, this book actually manages something just about unprecedented: It manages to account for table variations in an almost uncanny way: You can use Spheres of Power with Interjection Games-classes, psionics, Akashic Mysteries...and actually get a balanced, cool game. similarly, you could highly restrict it and go full-blown gritty...or utterly anime-style high-fantasy. This system's modularity is a thing of true beauty, its easy means for potential expansion a milestone. Now granted, there are some minor aspects I am not a fan of - stalwart, the destruction-sphere's blasting and similar elements all didn't blow me away - but see, that's the beauty of the system: By means of its elegance and relatively open design, I see no reason why a capable GM couldn't tweak, mesh and blend the living hell out of this system.

Beyond an increased emphasis on meaningful player-agenda, tight rules-language and a holistic claim it actually manages to fulfill, spheres of power also has these cool tidbits: From the advanced customization to relics and incantations, this massive book takes just about anything you could complain about and tells you "Jep, already covered that...here." This may very well be one of the, if not the most refined, yet open casting systems I've seen in a long, long time - one that still can, but doesn't need to, draw on the vast canon of published Pathfinder-material.

If the above, gushing monologue wasn't ample clue for you: Spheres of Power is a phenomenal book, a tome of a quality you only rarely get to see and one that is, quite frankly, significantly better than the limited KS-pitch back in the day ever made me hope it could be. Spheres of Power is a universally, absolutely superb book, one that cannot only inspire characters or the like - it can inspire campaigns. It is my firm conviction that this book belongs into the library of the distinguished Pathfinder-GM: There is an exceedingly high chance that my next campaign will use these rules (alongside non-vancian casting classes by e.g. Dreamscarred Press and Interjection Games) to take a complete break from vancian spellcasting. Not because I don't like spells and the vancian system - quite the contrary, actually. However, because I believe that using this book and using different spellcasting methods lets you tell a whole cosmos of different tales, of different power-levels and dichotomies between casters and non-casters.

I'll say it again - Spheres of Power is one of the most impressive books I've read in a long while; it may not be perfect, but it is a thorough inspiration and I staunchly believe that any group can benefit from at least contemplating using this book when starting a new campaign (or initiating a magic-altering event/switching settings, etc.). Spheres of Power is a milestone-level book I will certainly try to get in print. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, seal of approval, nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015 as well as the EZG Essentials-tag, since its facilitation for story-telling and its ridiculously high scavenging/system-fusion potential. A stellar tome, well worth every cent of its fair asking price.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. @AJCarrington: You can download #53 on OBS (DTRPG & RPGNow), but I think it'll hit site here as well some time...


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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@Lord Fyre: Yes, imho a perfect fit though it does predate the Technology-Guide and thus does not utilize its mechanics. Theme-wise, you just need an isolated mountaintop with lots of snow.


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Part II of my review:

Is there something positive to say here? Yes, there is: The pdf does sport a toolkit for making regular monsters into monstorin as a race, i.e. Pokémon-like creatures. While certainly not perfect, it does do its job surprisingly well and provides such stats, handily, for each of the monsters - and yes, this book is chock-full with them. The vast array of them and their available spells granted to monster trainers is interesting and while some monstorin end up as lopsided on the physical or mental attribute side, the respective entries do sport some nice ideas and a vast array of downright cuddly Pokémon-style artworks that help visualize the creatures featured. How much of them are here? More 122 pages. Yes, the horribly flawed mess I was complaining about only spanned 21 pages. As jarring and annoying as the former chapter was, as nice and useful is this one and, let me emphasize that, it almost feels like it comes from a different book.

The third chapter then provides more supplemental material regarding monster training: For example, there are feats for non monster trainer characters...like this one: "If your eidolon models a monster that would grant spells to a monster trainer, you gain access to those spells. Add the eidolon’s spells to your spells known as long as it models the chosen monster, is alive, and is available to you. Spells that are not ordinarily on your class’s spell list count as 1 spell level higher for the purpose of this feat." An eidolon doesn't "model" anything. Does it need to look cosmetically like the monster? What does it need to do to qualify for free spells, which may even belong to different spell lists? This shows an ignorance on how the summoner rules work. Monstrous Cohort also deserves mention: "You can now recruit a monster as a cohort. The monster’s effective level is equal to its CR."

Okay, do you get the spells? The abilities? Does it stack with companions and active monsters? Is it autonomous? Does it need to be taught tricks if none too bright? I'm so tired of this right now, I'm not even going to dignify pointing out all the ways in which this feat makes no sense and leave it at the base: This feat does nothing. Monsters, like all creatures, can be taken as a cohort and there is nothing in the vanilla rules preventing that. This level of issues extend to everything herein...apart from the monster statblocks...and the final section of the book, which provides an all too brief glimpse at the eponymous kingdom of monsters, alongside random monster tables for respective environments - and the writing here is really nice. The level of passion that went into this is also mirrored by the copious indices: Monsters by CR, by spell granted and even those not covered in the book provide page upon page of handy information.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren't bad on a formal level. On the level of rules-language, this book, there's no way around it, FAILS. Layout adheres to a per se nice two-column full-color standard that remains pretty printer-friendly and the child-friendly Pokémon-style artworks of the monsters are neat and inspiring if you enjoy the aesthetics - I certainly liked them. The book comes with excessive bookmarks for your convenience.

Damn, I HATE writing reviews like this; In fact, the reason why this review was delayed time and again, was due to the authors tinkering with the book, updating it and improving it - or so I noted via update e-mails. I really, really commend this level of commitment and passion for one's material and I so hoped I'd be able to write something positive here and reward this level of service.

You see, while I never was too much into Pokémon, I REALLY wanted the rules here to work - as a huge fanboy of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and the superb Lucifer's Call game in particular, I've been waiting for a good "recruit foes"-class for ages. The frustrating thing is - this could have gotten it right. The monster trainer does look strong on paper, but is in basic playtest very MAD...the issue being that a truly meaningful playtest with this class is impossible at this point. Why? Because the class requires a huge amount of DM-calls to work. See the never-ending list of questions and complaints above? That's not even half of what came up.

And yes, the revisions have improved this book...but not by enough to make the class even remotely functional sans copious DM-calls. In one sentence: The rules-language is horrible. That is if you're using the normal rules. Use the fast play rules and the precise engine that is pathfinder comes crumbling down in the realm of GM-fiats. This is the single most imprecise class I've read in a while and it simply does not work...and this frustrates me to no end. Why? Because I can make it run. So can expert (and I MEAN expert!) developers and designers - I can see crunch-wizards salvaging this one and having a blast with it since the complex framework, in all aspects ALMOST works - but the lack of proper development and the at times downright sloppy rules-language undermine the very foundation upon which this whole book is built, never mind the issues with other classes and rules.

At the same time, though, the indices and monsters provided are pretty awesome and something that bespeaks the passion that Malcolm Northwinter has put into this book...and similarly, the campaign setting information, brief though it may be, is nice.

So, how to rate this? See, that's difficult: The monster-section is pretty cool and takes up the majority of the book and thus should have a more pronounced influence on the rating...but its usefulness as intended is based on a rules-foundation that is horribly flawed in several objectively bad ways, requiring more GM fiat than any other class for PFRPG I know, while the rules-aspects of the editing job are simply insufficient to run most classes, much less one this complex. Worse, that's before the MAD comes into play and objective balance-concerns stemming from the opacity of the rules-language of the class enter the equation.

Damn, I hate being this guy...but I have to tell you: Each iteration of this book's rules made me rage-quit at least once and I hoped that this final one wouldn't. It did. More than once. It really was a heart-rending experience to see this almost get it right and then botch it so hard.

Even if I take into account the freshman offering bonus, I can't rate this for the monsters alone, but have to rate it for its intent, which is making a Pokémon-ish setting/gameplay available - and here, the book objectively fails. It fails even harder for kids. Yes, I playtested that with kids who were really into the concept...and failed to grasp the opaque rules, mirroring my rage-quit in one case...and we're talking about kids that know Pathfinder and have no issue with complex classes like e.g. those in Akashic Mysteries - you don't want to see that 10 year-old's Guru...ouch!

How to rate this? Well, let me reiterate: This one, were it not for the cool monsters and the nice setting information, would get a really bad bashing. As written, it is so flawed I can't even recommend it as a mixed bag to any but the most experienced of GMs willing to spend a LOT of time essentially doing the development work for the Monster Trainer: Codifying rules language, including answers to all those issues. You may get some mileage out of this...but still, the fact remains that this is an exceedingly flawed, problematic book - as much as I like the concepts, I cannot go higher than 2 stars, even with the freshman offering bonus.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.


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You're not only all kinds of awesome as a designer, Mike, you're also a great person. Thank you. (And no, I'm not entering - spread the goodies to the other posters!) :D


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


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If I may: The Battle Lord is currently by far the best martial commander class out there. Its versatility surpasses the Warlord and every single Talented Cavalier build I can come up with. Good skills and full BAB maintain flexibility and allow you to be the group's face, front-line fighter and buff-battery. The draw of the class lies not in teamwork feats, but in its class options, which greatly enhance the tricks available at your behest. In my review of Liber Influxus Communis, I covered the base class in excruciating detail; Liber Xpansion still will take a bit.

That being said, few classes can match the versatility/amount of options/player agenda of Akashic classes, so I don't think the battle lord reaches that level of customization/flexibility. I do have a suggestion, though: Michael has written Bravery Feats for Rogue Genius Games that coincidentally work perfectly with the battle lord - if you add them to the fray, it'll take some time before things get boring - that I can guarantee, mainly since I've seen these guys in action for quite a while now. In my home-game, they're my go-to commander class...which should tell you something about the quality of the class.

Just my 2 cents!


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Part II of my review:

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect -I noticed a few italicization glitches, minor errors in statblocks and the like, but seeing the size of this tome and the complexity of the statblocks, that is not surprising and well within the level of tolerance. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that conspires with a mix of gorgeous full-color and b/w artworks to render this book a truly beautiful book to behold -aesthetically, there is nothing to complain about here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and my hardcover sports nice, thick, matte high-quality paper and a shiny cover - all great in that regard.

Kevin Andrew Murphy, Darren Pearce, George "Loki" Williams, Allan Hoffman, Andrew Hoskins, Brendan LaSalle, Matthew Medeiros, Richard Moore, Monte Reed - this is one epic book and it was a fun ride to embark on. But also one that is terribly hard to rate.

Why? For one, there would be the issue of high-level gameplay requiring a lot of foresight - pre-written modules have a hard time properly predicting PC-capabilities and one massive issue with the first book was the arbitrary stripping of powers from PCs and the issues with rules-interactions. I am more than happy to report that this book sports NONE of these. Neither will you find "Pcs have to solve this EXACTLY like this"-solutions and similar issues - instead, this massive mega-adventure essentially provides vignettes, vistas and general storylines - you can skip through them at your leisure, ignore some, substitute your own or expand them to full-blown module length.

When handled properly, these vignettes can act as epic, never-ending climaxes - if you took the final scenes of a vast array of stories and stitched them together, a kind of cool-moment-collage, if you will. Better yet, where applicable, the places do sport nice rules-tidbits from mutation-tables to steampunk gadgets. While not all such tidbits are perfect, this is a module and the like is simply not the focus of this review. The world/planes-hopping vignettes ultimately can be a vast amount of fun if handled properly, but they could also go horribly wrong - if you are accustomed to handholding, extensive read-aloud texts and not good at making transitions and filling in the blanks of the respective vignettes, that may result in massive issues - essentially, do not expect any guidance beyond a basic plot-summary and the statblocks for the respective adversaries. Yes, this DOES include a lack of maps for the respective vignettes, but not one I'm going to fault the pdf for - why? Because the focus on cinematic transitions ultimately, at least here, does not require them necessarily. In my game, this went off pretty well after my players sopped trying for the analysis-route.

The second part is a more old-school killer-dungeon and it is very much worth the status as a finale - the palace itself is exceedingly deadly, full of iconic adversaries and challenges and provides a great way for the DM to provide some exposition regarding the dread lich queen. The background story, as written, is surprisingly intelligent and beyond what you'd expect from a killer-dungeon, so yeah - kudos here. On the downside, the lack of one-page maps to print out can be considered a comfort detriment.

So, what does that mean? It means that this module, more so than many others, will prove to be a very polarizing book. If you can see the vignette-style planes-hopping working for you, then chances are, you'll love this beast and enjoy it immensely. On the other hand, if you as a DM have problems generating transitions or fleshing out details on the fly, or if your players are all about the small details, then this one may result in some issues - the discrepancy between whether this will be awesome, or, well, not so great - it all very much depends on your group's tastes, capabilities etc..

At the same time, this book, unlike the first one, does not cheat in obtrusive ways - one instance where a sleeping gas may send players to their sleep sans DC or stats comes to mind, but, quite frankly, if DC 40 is too hard for the PCs at this point, they're doing it wrong anyways... So overall, this book can be considered indeed one of the few examples of high-level modules that truly managed to captivate me - the glimpses at realms beyond the regular, whether released or yet unpublished, is interesting indeed and provides some pretty imaginative ideas and a much needed change of pace, while also providing a sense of the epic to the whole experience.

It struggled quite a bit with how to describe this massive module - and the closest analogue was delivered by one of my players - this is pretty much a module-equivalent of an all-star-movie akin to Avengers - it provides components for each world and concept to shine and show what's cool about it - but there is, by virtue of its format, no room to linger on the individuals, to go into depth regarding the individual vignettes and their characters. So do not expect the module equivalent of primer or a TV drama, but rather that of a big-screen all-star action movie. Personally, I tend to prefer more detailed modules, which is also why I'm pretty happy to have been able to test this module in detail -and while I did not have an easy time as a DM and preparation did take a lot of time, the results proved to be very entertaining and my players, surprisingly, enjoyed the continuous barrage the weird of the continuum threw at them. While some minor oversights can be brought to field against this book, the amount of material that works and shows an understanding of the intricacies of Pathfinder does offset this in my book.

Yes, I'm rambling. My final verdict, ultimately, will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform, while less experienced DMs should probably round down due to the significant skill this requires to pull off.

Personally, I loved the massive array of cool ideas spotlighted and hence, I'll add my seal of approval for the vast imaginative potential.

Reviewed quite some time ago first on endzeitgeist.com, submitted this to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted it her, on OBS etc. - just posted it again since my old review seems to have been eaten by the update.

Endzeitgeist out.


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That's in fact exactly how I ran a module: My players stopped a serial killer who was supposed to get away in the first encounter; I had him "return" as a Khymer and truly wreck havoc. :)


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

This freshman offering by Pyromaniac Press clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover/KS-advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages, so let's take a look!

We begin this player's guide with a brief introduction of the fully statted eternal city of Anduria, which is btw. also featured in the rather neat map of the lands surrounding its monolithic, titanic walls. Anduria...ringed by 100 feet high walls of unknown, strange stone featuring enigmatic bas-reliefs of strange robed figures (stunningly rendered in the prequel-module, btw.!), a patchwork of the old and new, with its canals and even single building sporting different architectural styles, certainly is a metropolis that can be called fantastic in the best of ways and the players reading this guide will get to know at least the basics about the diverse wards within these colossal walls.

Since adventurers are prone to seek out taverns for employ, trouble and ale, 10 particular taverns are spotlighted in aptly-written, concise prose and the reader of this pdf will also be filled in on the government and the guild-driven power-structure within the city...and obviously, as a consequence, also be able to familiarize oneself with the guilds, both great and small - the respective write-ups sport names, primary services rendered, the guild master, membership requirements and benefits and thus a massive array of potential roleplaying opportunities.

Both daily life in the massive city and its culture is well represented, including the relatively humane punitive measures employed within the city for law-breakers - and yes, this section also mentions common strategies to weasel out of a law-based predicament.

Local "pests", psychic motes and transportation within the city's confines is covered as well and a brief note on surrounding areas is also featured here. The second section features thankfully spoiler-free advice for making characters that actually will be useful in the campaign, including suggestions for bloodlines, etc. Anduria, being a tolerant city, does not extend this tolerance to the divine, thus, such characters may require to hide their calling (If you want to know why, that's explained in the plot of the AP in more detail...) and new skill uses to this effect as well as ones that let you navigate the city's red tape are provided.

The pdf ends with a couple of per se pretty solid traits, though I do have some complaints here: There is no such thing as "Arcane" or "Divine" traits - the proper types would be "Faith" and "Magic". Additionally, the bonuses granted in one of the traits lack the trait-type - though the other traits get it right.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, particularly for a freshman offering - the rules-language, where present, is pretty concise and the prose is well-crafted. There are sometimes minor glitches that make single lines a bit wobbly-looking in the rendition, but this remains the exception. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column two-color standard. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is okay at this brief length. The map and one piece of artwork is nice (and believe me - the Prequel's art is NEAT!). One peculiarity that annoyed me is the non-standard formatting of skills: It's not "Profession: Lawyer", it's "Profession (Lawyer)" -cosmetic, I know, but still...

This player's guide does a great job - for one, it does not spoil anything; it also does make you excited about the massive metropolis and its unique social structure and options and is a nice hint at the things to come. As a freshman offering, this is pretty impressive...and it's free. Granted, the file is massive (118 MBs), but in my book, being pay what you want does offset the minor hiccups that can be found here. So please, take a look, download and read this and check out the Kickstarter if you like what you're seeing! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Aye, checked back, other readers can display it, but most people are using Acrobat... :/

And yeah, Shadow and Light Magic would probably have been an easier sell. Still, I hope the massive review makes some people check it out. Thanks for the kind words, btw.! (And yes, using your sheets in my game...so THANK YOU!!!)


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I reviewed the PWYW player's guide today, for those potentially on the fence: Take a look here!

Edit: Sorry for the double-post, forgot the linkage before and couldn't edit that post anymore...


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Player's Guide review is online - hope it'll direct some people towards your KS!


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Thank you for the review, Lorathorn! I wrote this a *LONG* time ago (it was my second freelance gig!) and am glad some people out there enjoy it; in case you're interested in a glimpse behind the screen - the mechanic is based on how I've been handling lycanthropy in my Ravenloft and dark fantasy games and thus can provide additional guidance, should it be required - I literally have ~8 years of system use with this under my belt. (Oh, and yes, Communal Feast is intentionally a highly lethal feat for any pack of hostile lycanthropes - players will fear that one...)

Cheers!


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It's been a pleasure to write this review. :)


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Part II of my review:

The second PrC, the Soul Arbiter, sports 5 levels and gets d8, up to +3 BAB, 1/2 Fort-and Will-save progression and 4+Int skills per level. The class gets 3 levels of manifester level and power point progression and 2 levels divine caster level progression. The first level ability allows for the standard action implantation of phobias in target creatures, though a trigger needs to be available...and, alas, while the ability has a hex-like 1/target/24-hour cap, I do think the ability should specify its range - the fluff implies crunch or close range, but I'm not sure. First level also adds +2 to mind-influencing or "telepathic" power DCs...which deviates from Dreamscarred Press' established nomenclature. At 2nd level, the soul arbiter adds +1 to the effects of her judgments and stacks prestige class levels for the purpose of judgment effects. 3rd level has a broken ability: No Bluff or Diplomacy when someone is under the effect of a soul arbiter's telepathy - this makes in-game logic come apart HARD. 4th level allows for CL or ML-checks versus alignment hiding effects and 5th level provides nonlethal damage and Wis-damage when a target tries to lie to her and ignore immunity to mind-influencing effects. While wording-wise not perfect, the PrC still can be considered kind of okay - not my favorite part of the book, though, and as far as rules-language goes, the least precise component herein.

Okay, this is NOT where we stop, though - we also get inquisitions, a LOT of them, though there are central themes, the first of which is the Foe Slayer: Aberration Slayer nets you, for example bonuses against Will-based effects and retributive, potentially stagger-inducing damage for those that try to break your mind, while construct slayers get Disable Device as a class skill as well as the option to hamper them via your skill in minor ways. Balance here is not always perfect, though: Smite Evil at full paladin level for Fiend Slayers, for example, is a bit of overkill. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, as well as DSP's Elans and Maenads get racial inquisitions. Particularly interesting is the elven ability to make all unattended objects within 60 ft. count as attended - haven't seen that one before and it allows for some interesting tricks...

At the same time, the Elan's option to burn ability points for power points needs a note that it can't thus exceed the power point maximum and the 8th level ability also asks to be broken: As an immediate action, for each 2 power points you spent, you increase the CL or ML by 1. No cap. This rewards nova-style gameplay and while I get the intent (making psion/inquis keep up regarding CL), this is not the right way. The Maenad on the other hand is pretty cool - retributive skin when outbursting and an aura that can end mind-influencing effects fit pretty neatly into the racial concepts. The final page provides 6 new mundane items - from the folding holy symbol for secret agent inquisitors to gauntlets housing scrolls and holy dust, the items are interesting. The traveler's shrine (collapsible altar) also makes a return. Particularly so the bolt feed - up to two of these can be attached to a crossbow, allowing for swift action reloads that make crossbows suck less: THANK YOU.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good -while I noticed minor formal glitches here and there, there are less than in previous installments of the series. The rules-language is also more polished than in previous iterations of "Into the Breach." The pdf adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a great cover artwork and thematically fitting, though slightly less awesome interior artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dylan Brooks, Kiel Howell, Richard Litzkow, Jeff Harris, Jacob W. Michaels, Jason Linker, Mark Nordheim, Taylor Hubler - congratulations. This is, by far, the most refined Into the Breach-supplement in the whole series. While the last one oscillated between highs and lows, this time around, we're all about solid and yet far-out options. A significant array of the archetypes and options provided in this book are fun and cover niches that so far did not see much love, many of which resonate with powerful concepts - that's a very good thing. An even better fact about this book is that the balancing, over all, is much more streamlined than in previous offerings by Flying Pincushion Games. Indeed, to the point where I can recommend this pdf - not simply for the shining stars, but for the majority of the content herein. While there are some pieces in this book that are less refined, over all, this is a quality supplement that adds some nice tools to the inquisitor's arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. If the crew of authors can maintain this pace of improvement, I'll be able to slap my seal of approval on one of these pretty soon. So, again: Congratulations!

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Just wanted to chime in and say that this KS has me drool like few others have ever managed. This will be one for the record books!


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Indonesian monsters (seriously, play DreadOut - these ghosts are disturbing...)! African monsters! Creatures from Thai mythology! South American monsters! I'd also like to second monsters based on North American Indian mythologies and Australian/New Zealand monsters.


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Revised my review in all the usual places.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so let's get this right out of the way - this one will be brief - why? Because this is a player's guide and it's the school of book that is all about the fluff: We thus begin this player's guide with the PCs entering the city of Endhome - a massive settlement and one of the key locations of the massive "Lost City of Barakus"-mega-adventure. As befitting of people arriving at such a place, the PCs hire a guide, Corlius, who then proceeds to show the PCs the sights and introduce them to the dynamics of Endhome, relevant places and the like: After an extensive and well-written tour through the massive city (including a nice, schematic map of the place), the PCs will find themselves in the King's Road Inn, the place most likely to cater to the adventurer's profession.

As such, here, the PCs will not only be introduced to some crucial NPCs, they also will hear quite an array of rumors that may result in them going forth, checking them out - within the frame narrative of these conversations, the PCs get to know about several of the dangerous and intriguing areas beyond the confines of Endhome's walls - without spoiling the achievement of discovery when the PCs finally explore Barakus - kudos for going this route!

That's not all, though: Players will certainly appreciate the run-down of the places that offer shopping opportunities, a list of notable key persons and even a page of common knowledge and obvious rumors.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though one header has a formatting glitch with a relic <n> and a header that is regularly sized. Apart from that, no complaints. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks and hand-drawn, sketchy schematic maps that spoil nothing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though I'd advise in favor of getting this book in paper (the print-version being glossy with high-quality paper) - perhaps one for each player.

Why? Because Vicky Potter's player's guide is not only a good read: This is perhaps one of the most useful player's guides I've read in a while. You see, I played Barakus back in its 3.X-iteration and while I loved this gigantic sandbox, it took a lot of time to set-up: You've probably experienced this yourself: Until the players and PCs have a grip on a wide open sandbox, you'll be doing A LOT of exposition, when everyone at the table would rather be adventuring. This is where this player's guide comes in: Simply hand it to your players, have them read it and there you go - all exposition right out of the way, and in medias res, you can start the discussion of what they want to check out first. This book makes getting to the meat of the module so much easier - sans SPOILING any crucial details. Oh, and it's also a compelling, fun read AND a good reference book for players forgetting the names of important NPC XYZ. This is pretty much a glorious Player's Guide that does its job exceedingly well. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, the submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here. Cheers!

Endzeitgeist out.


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And the very thought of this book makes me salivate...a strange, yellowish ichor...


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All right, reviewed Barakus and its Player's Guide today and posted again about the KS, hopefully getting some people to check it out. (In case you haven't read Barakus yet, take a look at my review - the book's SO worth it!) :)


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Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

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