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Ethermagus has his own manifestation and etherslinger can just shoot SR-foes with guns for great justice....at least that's what my etherslingers do. ;)
A general tip, mayhaps - take some terrain-control tricks, add UMD etc. One of the ethermancers in my game is a halfling-infiltrator who is RIDICULOUSLY stealthy and capable of truly astounding tricks; with terrain control, utility tricks and UMD/alchemical items/rods, he's one of the most flexible characters in my group and rarely has issues when foes have SR cranked up.
Spell Penetration et al are game, yes. Metamagic, however, is not (spell-level). The rod, however, is game.
Re equalizer: Yes, this one applies to ALL resistances, including Spell Resistance and Power resistance if you're playing with psionics; it's the reason the ability's not referring specifically to energy resistances.
Other than that, as GM Rednal has correctly observed, pseudoconjuration and clockwork model's the way to go if your GM's spamming the SR-beasties. ^^
My favorite take on the trope is the Nightblade (Path of Shadows) from Ascension Games (though it's 3/4 BAB), followed by the antipodist-classes in Ultimate Antipodism by Interjection Games. The Nightblade would be the full BAB class there; it rocks hard and is my favorite shadowy-full-BAB-class. And it has an archetype that removes the light/shadow-duality and makes it all shadow.
Also: Thanks for being professional about the review and taking the criticism in the constructive spirit it is intended.
Part II of my review:
Of course, we once again get new infusion wild talents, with reprints from KOP I and II denoted as such, but contained for your convenience. At level 3, I consider ignoring 20 hardness and being treated as adamantine for 2 burn to be too early. The effects are generally valued as stronger than alignment DR and hardness is pretty much the best defense there is...so yeah, that one needs a whack with the nerf bat in my book. On the plus-side: Demoralizing via blasts? Cool idea, as it emphasis a bit more good ole' skill use. Upgrade-follow-ups for the burning infusion, frying creatures in water, level 5 burn 4 dismissal...pretty neat. Follow-up shot is basically a Rapid Shot/Flurry-style form infusion, but I consider the Pyroclastic infusion to be more interesting: Creatures currently on fire can become your own little kinetic fire bombs. And then, there is Vital Blade. It works like kinetic blade, but can be used with Vital Strike, Improved Vial Strike and even when used as part of a charge. Sorry, but no. This is friggin' OP. I know that plenty of people disagree with me on this one, usually people who like playing the theory-numbers game. I know quite a lot of gaming groups treat melee as a static of trading blows with minor movement here and there. My experience is, that fluid and dynamic combats that do not boil down to trading full attacks all the time, make for more exciting combats. If your enemy refuses to do the out-rambo-ing game with you, Vital Strike becomes extremely powerful; particularly so when combined with the damage-escalation tricks of the kineticist. For me, personally, this is broken. It may not be broken in your game - if movement in your game is worth less than in mine, which seems to be the case in some tables, then this won't cause too much of a hassle. That being said, as a whole, this is a nice expansion indeed!
We proceed according to plan in a similar fashion with utility wild talents - the pdf offers quite an array of different new ones, with reprints properly codified. Adaptive skin builds on reflective skin, allowing you to change resistance after the triggering attack, while aerial supremacy allows for up to two 90° turns in an aerial charge. Aquatic kineticists will enjoy taking bubbles of the sea with them, allowing them to use their swim speed on land (Cerulean Seas fans - get this!!). Okay, here, I'll just be a sour grape: Level 3 utility wild talent. Nets you dimensional tear. Only the basic one, sure...but please. It can also be upgraded via two follow-ups. Not close to the ripper, but still. The ability is ridiculously good. In my game, it will remain archetype exclusive - imho, easy access to them is too powerful. Elemental duplicates of the good ole' hand-spells-formerly-known-as-Bigby-spells on the other hand, are cool. Also: paper control is MUCH cooler than basic phytokinesis 8did we ever actually get useful rules for that one?) and can be taken in its place...this is a good thing, for basic phytokinesis kinda never did make it into Occult Origins, at least not into my copy. So kudos for this required upgrade! Now, the book also has some absolute winners for the thinking and planning crowd - Photographic Transference. You can see through your illusions. As in: "You literally see through them, becoming blind while the effect lasts and instead watch the world from the illusions you created. Yes, this can be pretty darn awesome. You can also deal fire damage to yourself (or allies) to end bleed effects or make your kinetic cover come apart as difficult terrain when it's broken. Quicksand sinkhole? Check. Modifying wind intensity (your sniper/artillery guy will thank you for it!) with appropriate levels for wind strength? Check. Oh, and you can play disco boy. No, seriously: Strobe Lights that fascinate targets. Drawing foes into dimensional tears or pulling out your own intestines and whipping foes with them? Yup. And yes, the latter has upgrades and feat-synergy. THANK YOU.
Beyond these, the book has EVEN MORE: Combo Wild Talents. Bone spikes wild talents, infused with biological toxins, for example. Oh yes. These made me very happy...and there is a lot of potential for more of them in the future. The pdf also introduces elemental mutations - basically, in Porphyra, the NewGod war etc. have tainted the elements. Kineticists may only have one such mutated element. Brutal is basically more powerful, but always takes lethal damage for Burn and burn altering effects. Conservative reduces damage, but also burn. Dense means that they treat non-physical blasts as physical...but need to attack regular AC. Intelligent mutation nets +2 class skills and skills per level, but requires a move action for gather energy and supercharge. These may btw. also help, scavenging-wise, campaigns that consider the kineticist's damage output to be too high. Combine detriments and there you go. That just as an aside.
The pdf also features new feats - basic kinetic training nets you one utility wild talent, while Composite Blast technique allows you to gain a composite blast for which you'd require an expanded element. Another feat nets you +2 Burn a day, +1 dimensional tear per use of the ability. There is also a feat that deserves special mention: Overwhelming Defense treats you as though you have accepted 1 burn for the purpose of elemental defense, +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. This is basically a power-upgrade for the Overwhelming Soul...and a good one.
The pdf also sports a couple of items - there would be the Elemental Heart artifact (Hint: Kineticists will want it!) Blaster's bearing is brutal - it's a sling bullet into which you can infuse kinetic blasts with substance infusions of up to 3rd level - and they make sense to me, with their warfare application and volatile nature keeping them from breaking in-game logic. Now burn fragments will not get into my game. these are one-use burn-reducers. Only by one, sure and the three variants and their caps are well-priced...but still. Not a fan. There would also be a robe that grants temporary hit points upon accepting burn.
The pdf concludes with Jade Strider, a CR 10 dimensional ripper sample character.
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a few glitches in the formal and rules-language department, though usually, they don't impede the functionality of the content. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly 1-column color-standard of Purple Duck Games, with A5 (9'' x 6'')-size. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks as well as gorgeous, original full-color artworks.
This is the third of the books by N. Jolly and team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) and it is...grml...hrmpf...you know, I really want to complain about some of the options herein. I consider a couple of components to be too good. And, at high levels, a capable power-gamer can insta-kill pretty much everything by using this and KOP I + II...but that's, for the most part, a system-inherent issue. Until 17th level, even with all the options in the combined KOP-books, the kineticists expanded played like strong choices and worked surprisingly well. This series, as a whole, is something, though, which much like psionics or similar systems, requires the GM to really grasp how the kineticists work - with the significant fine-tuning options the KOP-series offers, that holds true even more. This book, perhaps a bit more so, should be carefully read by the GM, since not all components will be fitting for all campaigns.
That out of the way, in spite of me disliking/banning more components in this book for use in my nonplaytest-home game than in the first and second book, this is still my favorite installment in the series. The archetypes are friggin' inspired and the dimensional ripper alone is worth the price ten times. (Granted, I wouldn't allow for other kineticists to get tears...but you may. Just rest assured that the foes will weep...) Anyhow, the new locales, the pieces of content that I liked, shone like stars to me this time around. The fact that the dread soul can't be cheesed, the sheer complexity of the ripper that one ups the already significant complexity of the kineticist...this book is pretty much master-class level regarding in the difficulty of its designs...and it manages to make them work. That in itself is a damn feat and the level of creativity and coolness this one oozes is exceedingly pronounced. To sum up: Best archetypes in the series, best archetypes I've tested for the kineticist so far. Must own book. Even if you loathe the base kineticist with all your heart, get KOP I, II and III and see if the new elements, archetypes like the ripper or dread soul and elements like viscera don't change your mind.
In short: Considering the more than fair price-point, the complexity of crunch offered, the quality of the complex crunch offered and the absolutely impressive execution of these components, this is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the few hiccups herein.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.
Part II of my review:
The pdf provides favored class options for the classes, but only for the core races. Finally, the pdf provides 5 new feats: One for +1 morale bonus for verdant florist flowers, +1 blood talents. The others are problematic: Applying lesser metamagic rods to SPs...ouch. That's just begging to be combo'd some way. Arcane Celerity and Bulwark are very strong: Both can be activated as a swift action. The first nets you 1/2 caster level + casting ability modifier temporary hit points, providing a constant shield. The second nets you 1/2 class level as bonus to you base land speed, and a bonus to AC vs AoOs equal to your highest mental attribute modifier. Both effects only last one round, sure, but the lack of cap makes them pretty strong. That being said, my main gripe with them is that both only require you to be able to cast arcane spells - that's it. As 1st level-available feats, they are underpriced.
Editing and formatting are very good - it noticed no formal glitches and the rules-languages was also, with some minor hiccups, very consistent and adhered to the standards. Well done! Layout adheres to a two-column full-color used-parchment-style look that is solid, though personally, I think the respective class names would have made good headers - as provided, these are jammed in the upper left corner. Speaking of which: This is a very dense pdf with a *LOT* of crunch within its pages. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artist-wise, the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though ardent readers of 3pp material will be familiar with the pieces used.
Brian Moran's Bevy of Blades is an interesting pdf in that it shows a capacity to handle pretty complex concepts. While there are a couple of freshman hiccups in the book, the classes themselves should not unhinge any game they're introduced into, so balance-wise, at least as a whole, I have no complaints apart from the two feats. Internally, the options of the classes diverge in power rather significantly, with clearly superior options and less optimal choices. Some internal streamlining may have helped here. The book, when it does have issues, mostly has them in the tiniest of rules-minutiae or on a meta-design level. Take the vital blade, which, with the verdant blade, would be my favorite herein: It gets this cool, somewhat grit-like blood pool...and must wait until 3rd level to actually do ANYTHING with it. That's not a particularly fulfilling two levels there. Player agenda, in short, could be slightly more pronounced in all of the classes. Internal nomenclature of the classes could also have been a bit tighter.
As for my personal assessment: The aether blade didn't particularly excite me with its pseudo-casting - you can have that concept in several, more compelling ways. The shadow blade...just isn't on par with superior takes on the concepts - of which there are many. The verdant blade and vital blade generally have cool engines set up in their class progression and as such, I enjoyed both - however, I really wished the classes did a bit more with their unique set-ups, focused a bit more on these aspects. In the end, whether you will like this book very much depends on how much 3pp-material you have and how much money you're willing to invest. Compared to e.g. the soulknife or the ethermagus, the aether blade just feels bland in options and playstyle. Similarly, there are more compelling shadow-themed classes. At the same time, you will be very hard-pressed to get said classes for the low asking price of this pdf and both verdant and vital blade, while not perfect, do have some pretty cool options. I look forward to seeing the designer tackle more complex and variable concepts. In the end, I consider this a solid buy for its low and fair asking price. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine ad posted here, on OBS, etc.
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This class for D&D 5e clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!
This review is based on V.1 of the file.
The alchemist class comes with a sufficient array of introductory fluff, quick build rules and then proceeds to provide the respective crunch: The previously missing plusses have been added to the proficiency bonus and the notation of the HD, 1d8, now also 100% conforms to D&D 5e standards. Proficiency-wise, alchemists gain simple weapons, blowgun, hand crossbow and net as well as Aachemist supplies plus herbalism or poisoner kits. Saving throw proficiencies, fittingly, would be Con and Int and skill-wise, two from Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, perception and Religion are available. The starting equipment choices are sufficiently varied and allow for a nice array of customization and properly adhere to the standards established.
Alchemist spellcasting works a bit differently - while they gain cantrips, they refer to their spells as mixtures. While alchemists do gain 7th, 8th and 9th-level mixture slots, these only can be used to trigger or empower formulae from 1st to 6th level or utilize class features. Alchemist casting is a bit different: You expend a slot and then get the mixture's effects...but you may delay the onset/use of the mixture to a later date, with proficiency bonus denoting the cap of mixtures you can have ready to trigger at any given time. Here's the kick, though: Creatures with an Int of 4 or higher can spend their Action to trigger the mixture - you don't have to do so yourself! Attacks made by other characters with your mixture use their Intelligence modifier, but your proficiency bonus - this previously slightly wonky sentence is now streamlined and can't be misinterpreted anymore. Kudos!
You can prepare formula to turn into mixtures on a given day equal to Int-mod +alchemist level, minimum 1. Preparing a different formula does not require a short rest, only 1 minute of preparation per formula level. You need to succeed the concentration checks, if any, for your mixtures, even if someone else triggers them...unless you have reached 9th level and 15th level, at which point you may delegate the concentration of one or two mixtures simultaneously to other characters. The governing attribute for mixtures is Intelligence.
Some formulae can be prepared as rituals, provided they have the correct tag and alchemist formulae have Somatic and Material components, but no verbal components. At 1st level, you begin play with 6 1st level formulae, with each level providing +2 formulae of your choice. Formulae may be copied from spellbooks, scrolls, etc. and alchemists may attune magic items usually restricted to the sorceror and wizard classes as well as other, general spellcaster-exclusive items. 2nd level nets you more item preparation efficiency for alchemical items (proficiency modifier per day of downtime with your kit), excluding poisons or herbalism-based items. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter (minus 20th, plus 19th) net you ability score increases. The capstone lets up to 3 creatures maintain concentration in your place.
The defining feature of the class, though, would certainly the alchemical tradition chosen at 3rd level, which truly defines the class - basically, these are the domains, the archetypes of the class. Each tradition sports bonus formulae, which are added to the formula-list of the alchemist in question, with the first such tradition being the artificer. At 3rd level, they get proficiency in three toolkits and at 6th level, the jack-of-all-traditions ability - which lets you add 3 formulae from other traditions, though these do not count as bonus formulae. 10th level lets you ignore class, race and alignment restrictions for item-attunement.
Additionally, you may choose to not regain mixture slots upon completion of a long rest, instead maintaining the functionality of those you already have created. 14th level becomes interesting: When you use a 7th level slot to prepare a mixture of 4th level or lower, it may be triggered twice before being expended. Long rests eliminate, as usual, both uses and rest the process. If the duration exceeds instantaneous, it can only be used a second time after the first use has elapsed. As soon as you have access to 8th level slots, you may do the same for this slot and mixtures of 5th level or lower.
At 18th level, 9th level and mixtures of 7th level or lower get a different upgrade - namely, duration: It increases to 10 days!!! If it is instantaneous, the mixture may be trigger your Intelligence modifier times per day. Effects that require concentration can be suspended as a bonus action and resumed as an action. Linked gates can be reopened by resuming concentration.
The second tradition would be the Herbwarden, who gains proficiency with Herbalism kits at 3rd level (which may be redundant if you haven't chosen poisoner kit at first level) and either Medicine or Nature, with Medicine being governed by Intelligence for you. Also at 3rd level, you may use field medicine to allow a target to expend HD as though he had completed a short rest, with higher levels increasing the number of HD a target can spend. Once a creature has thus been healed, it can't be healed again this way unless it has completed a short rest, providing a nice anti-abuse caveat. 6th level nets advantage on saves versus poison and versus effects generated by oozes, plants and plant creatures as well as increased item creation in downtime with herbalist kits, analogue to the previous archetype's crafting-enhancement.
10th level lets you double Int-mod when making Intelligence (Nature or Medicine) checks and when making healing mixtures. 14th level's ability has been revised and is rather cool: After a target has been healed or stripped of a negative condition or disease by you, it can choose, upon failing the next saving throw or ability check, to reroll one failed ability check or saving throw. 18th level nets the herbwarden the option to expend a 9th level slot to animate plants as a shambling mound that can be commanded via telepathy.
The third tradition would be the Irezumi, most of whose mixtures are intricate tattoos. As such, they gain proficiency with tattooing supplies at 3rd level -a new kit that now comes with a base price and weight.. Also at 3rd level, the irezumi gains two cantrips from any spellcasting class. At 6th level, irezumi can create mystic tattoos in an 8-hour process. Once the tattoo is created, you can charge a number of mystic tattoos equal to your proficiency bonus. You can charge the tattoos of other irezumi, if you want to. Tattoos can be triggered by the target as an action much like mixtures and the benefits last one hour.
The benefits depend upon the region: Arms grant resistance to one damage type chosen upon being tattooed, which imho could have used a finer restriction, since physical damage types and e.g. force or radiant are situationally more powerful and useful than others. Head can net you Advantage on Insight or Perception or Darkvision; Legs can provide these benefits to Athletics/Acrobatics or net +10 ft. movement and the torso nets advantage on one saving throw. 10th level allows the irezumi to grant a subject up to 2 mystic tattoos and 14th level allows you to charge a bonus formula of 4th level or lower into a mystic tattoo, allowing the user to trigger that formula.
Here's the thing, though: The formula is permanent. It is not expended upon being triggered, but any use beyond the first in a long-rest-interval incurs one level of exhaustion. I am a bit weary of this one in the long run - for as long as D&D 5e maintains the very high value of exhaustion, this is okay. As soon as a game has means of mitigating exhaustion, this may become problematic. This is just me being meta, though - so far, exhaustion remains one of the most crucial conditions in 5e and thus, this is solid. 18th level lets you create a master tattoo, which works analogue to the aforementioned tattoo, only with up to 6th level qualifying and two levels of exhaustion incurred upon repeated use.
The metamorph is pretty much the Dr Jekyll/Mr. Hyde alchemist - at 3rd level, expenditure of a 2nd level slot lets these guys trigger a combined alter self/enhance ability/mage armor with a duration of Concentration, up to 1 hour - but for the duration, you gain disadvantage on a mental ability's associated rolls. 6th level lets you use Int instead of Con to determine hit points, retroactive to 1st level, and 6th level further enhances the mutagen's effects. At 10th level, stoneskin is added to the fray and at 14th, regeneration is added alongside better natural weapons, advantage on concentration checks and an enhanced duration. Finally, at 18th level, the benefits are further expanded. Cool one!
The next one would be the poisoner, whose bonus formulae are considered to be poison effects. At 3rd level, you gain 6 doses of basic poison and now, also proficiency with the poisoner's kit. You also get proficiency in Sleight of Hand, Stealth and may apply poisons as a bonus action (3 for ammunition). You create proficiency bonus doses of poison per day in downtime and the may be ingested, inhaled or injury and deal 2d6 poison damage on a failed save- now properly used damage-type-wise. Kudos! After a long rest, you may refine poisons not crafted by you to apply benefits to them as though they were made by you - which now, in a didactically cleaner manner, directly points towards the respective abilities.
Well, yeah - at 6th level, you increase their save DC to your mixture save DC and when you harvest poison, you instead get proficiency modifier doses from a given creature. At 10th level, targets also acquire the poisoned condition when succumbing to your poisons and your poison creation quickens, now also for non-basic poisons. At 14th level, you may expend mixture slots to weaken targets versus poisons and diseases or even bypass poison immunity/resistance. At 18th level allows you to expend slots to make mixtures particularly lethal and poisons generated thus nigh impossible to negate.
The penultimate tradition would be the pyromancer, who can manipulate the damage-type of evocation-cantrips and spells by changing it to one of the classic energies or physical types. 6th level provides resistance to one of the classic energy damage types, though you can change the type after a short rest. 10th level adds Int-mod to the damage of evocation mixtures and 14th level provides an array of benefits that allow you to double the radius, range or make the AoE into cones or single squares by using a 7th level slot for a 5th level or lower evocation. The 18th level ability fails to specify the level it is gained, but imposes disadvantage on saves versus 7th level or lower evocations prepared via a 9th level slot.
The final tradition would the nod to ole' Herby West, the re-animator, who gets find familiar at 3rd level and may choose a crawling claw or homunculus . Any familiar is undead, though it gains advantage on saves versus effects specifically targeting the undead. Also at this level, you double your Int-mod for Medicine-checks and gain sneak attack progression of up to +5d6 at 18th level. At 6th level, undead you create also have the advantage of your familiar and at 10th level, you gain advantage on saves versus disease, poison and fear as well as the option to use a bonus action once per activity interval to temporarily gain resistance to damage from non-magical weapons and advantage on ability checks for 1 minute. At 14th level, you can use create undead to make (or assert control over) flesh golems and revenants and at 18th level, you can make either two flesh golems or two revenants...provided, for both abilities, that you expend the high-level slot.
It should also be noted that the pdf has a nod towards the intriguing Salt-in-Wounds-series (Think high, dark fantasy with a society based on the regenerating flesh of the subdued tarrasque) and advice on creating your own traditions.
Editing and formatting have been SIGNIFICANTLY improved and now are top-notch. Where the rules-language wasn't 100% perfect before, it now is. The sub-abilities no longer are italicized, which means you can easily see the now properly italicized spells. Even cosmetic and didactic complaints I nitpicked are fixed. Kudos indeed! Layout adheres to an elegant two-column, full-color standard with pretty big borders at the top and bottom and several pieces of thematically fitting art that has a photo-like-look. First, I considered it to be a bit jarring, but it rather grew on me.
Rich Howard and Tribality Publishing have taken an already good, evocative class and sanded off teh rough edges, showing that they care for their books, rendering the new alchemist superior in every way to its predecessor. The special casting of the class and its internal nomenclature are surprisingly consistent. While I wasn't blown away by all traditions and while I think they do vary slightly in power, I was particularly surprised by the poisoner and irezumi. While the latter can be considered to be perhaps one of the strongest options herein, it also is a class that requires the interaction with a group to prosper. And seeing unifying tattoos on a group by the same artist can be pretty cool roleplying material. If an irezumi dies and a survivor looks at the tattoo as someone asks how she got it...well, let's just say that I think the class and its modular traditions (of which we'll hopefully see more in the future) proved to be interesting to me.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, the submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.
An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of the Tangible Taverns-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!
The 5e-version of Tuffy's Good Time Palace is, fluff-wise, pretty identical to the Pathfinder-version: I.e. Tuffy's is still a seedy dump of a bar with an eccentric, female, dwarven barkeep and a somewhat less-than-bright brute at the piano. Scantily-clad women dance here and shady groups, two to be precise, scuttle through the shadows, as a surprising amount of patrons seems to vanish behind a door behind the bar...the set-up of a seedy bar, complete with the chance to contract mild food poisoning has been translated very well into the 5e-rules-frame, with the notable exception of one Wisdom (perception) check that retained the, for 5e rather high DC 15 from its Pathfinder sister file.
The supplement does come with extensive rumors and events to facilitate roleplaying within the context of Tuffy's - each of the respective entries is rather detailed and can be considered a good and rather detailed hook. One of the main draws of the file, though, would be the depiction of the owner, her employees and the two shady groups of people frequenting the establishment.
Here, the change in systems is more pronounced and honestly, it is here that the pdf had its most significant challenge: The PFRPG-builds utilized several rather specific mechanics-combos and translating these in spirit to 5e would not be an easy task. Instead of restricting itself to the class features of the default classes featured in the PHB, the pdf instead opts to go the more interesting way, granting unique features to the respective NPCs.
Tuffy, for example, has several tricks that render her particularly lethal in the environments of her bar, with the big mastermind gaining a unique, charming presence as well as a damn cool BBEG-escape trick. As a whole, the builds provided in this pdf turned out to be pretty intriguing. The fact that the Dire Rugrat-team went one step beyond in these builds is something I really appreciate. Challenges of the NPCs range from 1/2 to 10.
The tavern does come with a serviceable map in b/w, but sand a print-out-sized version or one that is key-less/player-friendly.
Kelly and Ken Pawlik's 5e-version of Tuffy's, surprisingly, actually turned out to be more interesting to me than its PFRPG-iteration. The characters are pretty cool, though we don't get scaled statblocks for characters in this version. Beyond its colorful characters and nice flavor-text, the pdf des share the lack of a menu or prices with the PFRPG-version and, like it, there is no clear distinction between the introductory prose and the rules-relevant section - generally, the tavern could have used a bit more fleshing out, with the majority of the appeal here stemming from the cool potential of the NPCs and their local color.
Still, this is, ultimately, me complaining at a high level. My final verdict, ultimately, will clock in at 4 stars for this one as well - while it is slightly briefer than the PFRPG-version, it is slightly more creative in my book.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.
Part II of my review:
The pdf also includes an array of new feats, which let you use Con-mod to calculate form infusion saving throw DCs, set up combos (penalties to saves versus utility wild talents after taking a blast), a multiclass-enhancer (select wild talents up to 4 over kineticist level, up to total character level - similar feat available for blasts), getting limited poison access for wood blasts, gain ranged blasts regardless of restrictions...quite a bunch of material here. The feat Stout Deterrent has been mixed in layout/formatting, its name hanging halfway in the previous feat in a rather weird glitch.
The pdf also provides new magic items: Body wraps that reduce kinetic fist form infusion burn costs, bracers that allow for the conversion of simple blast energy via burn and then there would be burn shards, which can accept 1 or 2 points of burn for the attuned owner...and yes, they are limited to one per character, thankfully. Conduit gloves allow you to gather power while holding objects and may be a bit inexpensive at 1,000 gp. The big thing here, would be crystals of elemental knowledge, which contain spell-like utility wild talents that can be attuned and then used - but they don't allow prohibited characters from using them and the item, once again, has a limit of attuned crystals, preventing abuse. Focusing gloves allow for the addition of magic weapon properties from select lists to blasts, but require the user to accept burn, while a variant is particularly potent for kinetic blades. The bland power enhancement of rings of elemental strength, in comparison, feels relatively lame and, since it's blast die-dependent, also pretty powerful for the price. The pdf also provides kineticist ioun stones. Vambraces and vests interacting with elemental overflow are neat and certain wraps allow kineticists to gain the benefits of being Large sans actually being Large, with a 76K-variant doing the same for Huge...though in either cases, only when subject to the kinetic form wild talent. And yes, it comes with proper info on stacking etc.
The pdf concludes with Zeltryx Lastbloom, a drow (karza) dragon pact kineticist 12.
Editing and formatting are good, though not as precise as in the first KOP-book, at least on a formal level. On a rules-level, the concepts juggled are imho better, particularly considering the additional step up in difficulty regarding the designs herein - there isn't much to complain here. Layout adheres, as mentioned an A5-single-column standard (6'' by 9''), which you make prefer or not - just something to bear in mind regarding the page-count. The pdf sports a couple of gorgeous full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.
N.Jolly, with support from team KOP (Jacob McCoy, Mort, Onyx Tanuki) has crafted a book that is, at least in my opinion, superior to the first KOP-book. Why? Because it is more daring. It is the book that conceptually liberates the kineticist from the "elemental-laser"-niche and makes the class have some seriously cool options: Whether it's poison, hexes or the like - the creativity that can be found herein exceeds its predecessor by leaps and bounds. It was this book, not the first, that made me first think that I might actually want to create a kineticist. I considered the system intriguing from the get-go, mind you - I simply considered the niche to be too narrow and not too much to my liking. The variety of options introduced is cool and creative, the class material is solid and, considering the difficulty of the kineticist system and nomenclature, one can consider this a rather impressive book.
The main achievement of this book, to me, would be that it brings flair and panache into the class; it's bolder in its expansion of the kineticist class's scope as well as in its use of flavor and in its design-choices. Yes, there are a few instances where the rules-language could be a tad bit more precise, but they are few and far in-between and balance-wise, I actually consider this one to be more refined - I have seen less I'll have to nerf for less high-powered games than in the first book. Yes, I'm concerned about the damage-upgrade items and the overall stacking game one can see coming here...but at the same time, I absolutely applaud the items like burn shards and their limitations, the crystals and the overall creativity and mechanical precision that went into this book. I could ramble on all day.
In short: While Kineticists of Porphyra was the book you *had* to buy to make the kineticist more versatile, this is frankly the book you *want* to buy, as the strength of concepts herein vastly exceeds that of its predecessor book and the base class. It may be a tad bit less refined in a few formal hiccups than the previous book...but it makes up for that in leaps and bounds.
Now excuse me, I need to build some poison and viscera kineticists...I forgot the verdict? Oh, yeah, right. Well, it's my old maxim: Boldness and creativity trump blandness married to perfectionism any day of the week. My final verdict, since this book actually made me like the class and liberated it from its narrow scope, integrating it so much better within PFRPG, is 5 stars + seal of approval.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted everywhere. ;)
Part II of my review:
The CR 11 avatar of anarchy is an attaching, blood draining tentacle monster that can lay eggs in the fallen - if they are returned to life, they infect the target.The larvae tell the host about this, though, making the whole exercise pretty pointless from a life-cycle perspective. Oh well, logic and RPGs and such. At CR 6, we get a take on the sand golem - pretty much the bare minimum sans unique abilities. The CR 10 tomb guardian would be a purrsian mummy-variant that reduces damage "vs. small piercing weapons (arrows, bolts, darts, shuriken, thrown daggers and other ranged piercing weapons" - the wording's unfortunate, for one can read that as either pertaining to the size of the weapon employed to fire them or make a point that the missiles shot be Large creatures affect it. Codifying this in a more established manner would have been prudent. The statblocks do contain glitches, in case you were wondering.
Editing and formatting, on a formal level, that much I can say, are better than in Tribes of Everglow, though they still contain issues. On a rules-language level, the components are still pretty bad, though not as bad as in aforementioned book. In direct contrast, I had no "WTF is that supposed to do???"-experience in this book, only frustration at the flaunting of even basic formatting conventions and some broken bits and pieces here and there. Still, the rules-language is not fully operational, requiring an ample array of GM-interpretation and handwaving in the finer details. Layout is a highlight - Full-color, gorgeous 2-column-standard with a metric ton of absolutely gorgeous, original pieces of full-color artwork. This book is seriously beautiful and gorgeous. The hardcover I have is solidly bound, with nice paper - no complaints. I don't have the electronic version, so I can't tell you about bookmarks etc. or the lack thereof.
David Silver & Byron Mulvogue's Forgotten Past is a book of contrasts and an exercise in frustration for me. Why? Because the setting-information herein is very creative, fun and well-written. Similarly, the NPC-fluff-write-ups, supported by copious amounts of art, is a joy to read. But we're not looking at a system-neutral book here. We're looking at a roleplaying game supplement. Don't get me wrong - the glitches are not as pronounced and jarring as in "Tribes of Everglow" - this *is* the better book, by leaps and bounds. But at the same time, a significant majority of this book's crunch not only flaunts established rules-language that could literally be looked up at one glance, it also thus opens the floodgates for ambiguity, rules-issues etc. I like quite a few concepts herein; there are instances where the book gets its right. That deserves emphasis. But we have established a kind of quality standard among 3pps regarding the required rules-precision and this book, as much as it pains me to say it, fails that standard. My impulse is to give this 3 stars to account for the cases when it works, for the great fluff... but I have rated down books for significantly less issues than those found herein. I have rated mechanically okay, but uninspired books 3 stars...and this one may have some good ideas, some nice pieces...but it also has some broken bits; some seriously wonky mechanics and generally fails brutally.
It would, frankly, not be fair to rate this 3 stars - objectively, the craftsmanship of the crunch isn't at this level. It's better than in tribes...but not by enough. That being said, the often inspiring ideas and the bits and pieces that do work elevate this slightly above said book. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars. If you are in it for ideas and ideas alone, then round up - this book does achieve the goal of making the Everglow setting very much intriguing, to the point where I want to see those strange dungeons in play, where I want to see functional rules for age-category-switching dungeons and the like. As a reviewer, though, and for those that expect a certain functionality from their roleplaying sourcebook's rules-information as well as a sense of consistency with the base rules, this must be rounded down.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek, GMS magazine, posted here, etc.
Thanks, guys - I'm aware that Coffee Demon didn't mean it as mean-spirited, but I certainly wanted to be transparent regarding my reasons for rating like I do. ^^
@Duiker: I assumed as much and certainly did not take offense. The problem with the sort-by-rating metric is simply that it does not account for the 4.5s or the revised editions. While I began stating "revised edition" in headers at one point, I didn't for the longest part and certainly know *A LOT* of books that began as 1-3-star-files, were fixed and subsequently upgraded in rating. Then again, I'm not trying to be a force for negativity, but for constructive criticism...so yeah. I'm glad that many reviews scored this high.
On an unrelated note: My own review folder currently clocks in at 2775 files. (Including extensive revisions of files that did not just warrant an "EDIT"-note and the reviews for books not sold here on Paizo.)
Hmm, coffee demon, I'm sorry you feel like this.
Last week's reviews + ratings were:
Kobold Press - New Paths: The Trickster (revised edition)- 4.5
If you take a look at my page, you'll notice that by far not all books I review get 5s, much less seals - these pretty much remain relatively rare.
No, not all files that get 5 stars are perfect; as a matter of fact, I don't believe *ANY* roleplaying books (or other pieces of media) are perfect. I love the APG, Ultimate Psionics and Occult Adventures to death, for example, but I don't consider any of them to be perfect. Not even close. I'd still rate them 5 stars without any hesitation. Ratings, ultimately, are a form of distilled opinion - and one of the reasons I try to be detailed and still maintain a sense of readability is to allow people to make up their own mind about a given book - so if you feel you can disregard my judgments, I seem to have fulfilled that part of my job at least! :D
And yep, that makes me happy - I *know* I can't ever hit the tastes of all my readers - I think I remember reading about you hating Slumbering Tsar. Perfectly fine with me - I happened to love that one and plenty of folks did as well. This does neither invalidate your dislike for the book, nor the joy the book has brought to the tables of others. I believe that your dislike has as much merit as much my enjoyment of the book. (And in case you were wondering - I don't think you'd like this book!)
Ultimately, it's impossible for one person to be an accurate aggregate for all opinions and tastes out there.
What I do is this:
I try to rate "very good" books 5 stars - if I get a lot of them, great - I *like* reading and rating great books. If not...well, then the verdict's not 5, simple as that.
That being said, I do have a theory why you think that I am rating books too high:
I try to end a given week on a high note more often than not - Fridays tend to feature at least one highlight of a given week in reviews.
That being said, on average, there are (thankfully!) more good books out there in the 3pp-circuit than bad or mediocre ones. Again, just my own perspective. :)
Cheers and sorry for the threadjack!
Steve was one of the reasons I stuck to Pathfinder. This is no hyperbole, this is the truth.
I became a fan of his AE-material back in the day. He was the first publisher to publish my writing, the first man who gave me complimentary copies on a regular basis. He was the one man who continued to provide feedback, who helped me evolve into my own reviewing style. He was the first to tell me that I made a difference with my rambling feedback. He never minced words, but neither did he confuse me as a person with my reviewing "duties"...
His designs have brought countless hours of joy to my table.
But more than that, he always had my back. When I fell upon hard times back in the day, he helped me recover with stern, constructive advice; with an open ear and a big heart. He was not only a publisher and designer I admired, a motor for creative and innovative impulses...to me, he was a friend.
My hands still shake. I still don't want to believe it. I'm stunned.
We have lost a giant. I can only fathom and extrapolate the impact he must have had on those people blessed enough to know him better than I did.
Rest in peace, Steve, and thanks to the Paizo-crew for the entry.