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Ravenloft (If the best authors who really GET the setting and SUBTLE horror took over...Think VRG to the Shadow Fey/Gazetteer-series/Bleak House)
I know Jason's Ethermagus. It's awesome. The same goes for the new content for the base classes...oh boy. And I'm *incredibly* excited that Bradley lets me play in his systems.
Ladies and gentlemen, believe me when I tell you that the Etherslinger I've made will make for a unique, cool playing experience. My group's former gunslinger fan never wants to touch a vanilla gunslinger again after playing this one.
Oh, and my Scions of Discordia will be very, very nasty...
*Hoping this I'll be the success the awesome mechanics deserve*
I happen to have seen the majority (and am writing for it) and believe me - a) the classes are distinct, expanded, feel different (all had playtesting in my group) and provide options to tinker galore. The base classes were awesome - now, they'll get the big time polish.
And from what I've seen and done, this will be GLORIOUS.
I may tease a bit once the KS starts...
Part II of my review:
As a bonus, we get content for Mythic Adventures as well with the medium path - every tier in it increases hp by 4 and at 1st tier, one of 2 aptitudes needs to be selected. The first lets you expend mythic power to mitigate expenditure of a psionic focus and power point cost of a manifestation of a power. Additionally, it lets you roll twice to overcome power resistance and forces targets to take the lower of two saves when hit by said power. Per se cool, but what about augmentation? Does the use of mythic power also cover augmentation power points used or just the base power points expended? Metyphysical Strike is insane - use 1 mythic power to attack at full BAB as a swift action in addition to other attacks. Additionally, you have to spend 2xML in power points and gain said point spent as bonus to atk. Additionally, said attack deals 2d6/manifester level "psychic" (damage type does not exist) AND base damage ignores all DR. For a level 1 path aptitude, this is rather extreme and too strong. Additionally, the focus on power points and manifester levels means that the poor soulknife can't take it either - the path has no aptitude for it. The capstone tier-10-ability nets you hp equal to your attacker's HD and you may ignore 10 points of "psychic resistance" - which, as an ability, is codified as SR equal to class level+10 in Ultimate Psionics. So does that mean the abiliyt works only against those with said psychic resistance quality? Or does it refer to spellresistance? Or ANY type of energy resistance? I don't know.
Regaining mythic power whenever a foe fails to save against you is also broken (bag o' kittens extreme) - and yes, i know - tier 10, say goodbye to balance. This still breaks too many design-tenets to work. Unless I've miscounted, we also get 24 path abilities that include an incorporeal familiar, faster item creation, more customization points for Aegis astral suits, a tier + int-mod-based flash of light that can destroy objects within 5 feet, spend mythic power to automatically regain your focus, auto-identify powers (with a weird a caveat that lets you "learn" them - which does not happen in psionic classes; vitalists may rotate them, for example -don't get how that part was supposed to work - as written, it does nothing unless a manifester has deliberately refused to learn a power - which makes no sense...) and cast said powers via mythic power for a select duration (which directly seems to contradict aforementioned caveat...). Balance is wonky here - detect thoughts in a slightly improved fashion is not a great choice for investing mythic power, whereas other are imho a tad too strong: Never being flat-footed except via mythic abilities and immunity to non-mythic sneak attacks and mythic power to negate extra damage from a crit or sneak attack feels like too powerful when compared to the abilities granted by all regular mythic paths...Granted, this may be due to lacking the distinction between 1st, 3rd and 6th tier abilities within this pdf - as written, ALL of these are 1st tier... and their balance is all over the place. (And yes, I'm aware that further content can be found in Vol.2 of the series, but still...)
This mythic path is unfortunately quite a mess - if your base choice already excludes part of the target demographic from getting any benefits (and yes, the path has soulknife-exclusive path abilities), then you're into trouble. The path's issue here being, beyond the tier-glitch (Or is it one??), that it tries to be too general - one path for all psionic classes is just too thin a stretch to cover them all properly, which is a shame, for generally, the abilities feel solid.
Editing and formatting are very good on a FORMAL level; regarding rules-editing, there are a lot of issues - too many. Layout adheres to an elegant two-column full-color standard, with thematically-fitting art/stock art. The pdf comes fully hyperlinked and bookmarked for your convenience.
Author Peter K. Ullmann ALMOST gets it right; Alas and alack, this extends to almost every single component within this pdf. The psion-archetypes are interesting in their focus on discipline powers and even in concepts, though flawed in execution. The soulknife archetypes are simply bad choices, with quit a bunch of design-flaws to boot. The bonus content is a mixed bag, with feats often failing to be precise enough and only 1 blade skill worth picking. The new powers and insanities show promise, though the former also suffer from less than optimal choices here and there. The mythic path tries to cater to too many types of classes and also has several wording-issues - I won't start with the balance-problems.
Writing this one was, I won't lie, a rather somber affair for me - on one hand, the designer is close to getting even complex abilities right - and then fails over some wording ambiguity, forgets the final dot to make the ability work. This is one of the pdfs, where everything almost makes sense and then...doesn't Mind you, this one does have a bunch of cool ideas, valid concepts, but their implementation is flawed. The page count is also on the low end of the spectrum, though, seeing you can get this as a bonus for shopping at d20pfsrd.com's shop somewhat mitigates that. Still, this one has so many issues in almost every component, I can't recommend it. The amount of things that work is far eclipsed by very weak, unbalanced or simply, not properly working content, that I'm forced to rate this, in spite of its promise, as 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1 for the purpose of this platform.
Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.
Conclusion of my review:
Editing and formatting are okay - not particularly flawless, though - there is quite a bunch of punctuation errors, inconsistent formatting etc. to be found here - mostly not influencing the ability to understand the rules, though. Layout adheres to TPK Games' elegant, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with glorious pieces of original b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and unobtrusively hyperlinked.
TPK Games' mastermind and author Brian Berg knows dark fantasy and knows the undead - his prose is exquisite and while most campaigns will balk at reintroducing an iteration of the death-god Nergal into their pantheon (and thus lose some of the cool fluff's bonuses), the races per se can be easily transported into a setting. And the base races per se are interesting - while I would not advise on flat-out making the book available to PCs, the races support diverse playstyles, even offering new options for campaigns (deathless souls, baby!) and are diverse enough to feel very distinct from one another. While the templated races require special playstyles, the others feel like they can fit in respective campaign niches and while the wording of their write-ups has a flaw here and there, the problems per se are not that pronounced. The archetypes are a mixed bag, the racial paragon-classes on the nicer end of the spectrum.
But alas, there are problems. This pdf's issues can be summed up in one word: Feats. If I didn't know any better, I would think that a completely different author wrote these. Brian Berg usually tends to get feats right, but the ones herein brim with issues - breaking balance, failing kitten-tests left and right, sloppy wordings - these feats often utterly break otherwise nice, balanced classes, providing sometimes a power-level that is ridiculous, sometimes failing to specify their limits/benefits and one even breaking potentially any campaign's logic. Yeah, that bad.
So on the one hand, we have some truly awesome prose, cool concepts and neat ideas with minor issues and then a whole class of crunch that is almost universally flawed in its execution. This book has potential, oh yes, it does, but it also feels rushed, like it was abandoned halfway through. As much as I love some of the content, I can't rate this higher than 2.5 stars, rounded up by a slight margin to 3 for DMs. As for players - you MUST ask your DMs, who should consider carefully which part of these rules to allow in your game...low-powered games and those very conscious of precise wordings should round down instead.
Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com#s shop.