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Ninja

Endzeitgeist's page

5,487 posts. 2,423 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.



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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This inexpensive expansion for the superb Onmyōji-class clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with two pages for the archetypes, so let's take a look!

The first of the archetypes (both of which sport a brief paragraph of well-written fluff, just fyi) would be the Grinning Fox. Instead of aid of the minor kami ability, these fellows may choose an at-will cantrip and an at-will orison each day. Additionally, at 1st level, these guys get the Cha-based SP to cast lesser confusion twice a day...and grow their first fox tail, from now on counting as kitsune for purposes of e.g. the Magical Tail feat. The grinning fox receives spirit points equal to his class level plus Charisma modifier and replenishes these after 8 hours rest/meditation. At 2nd level, instead of gaining a shikigami, these folks gain Magical Tail as a bonus feat for the first time, gaining the feat an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. If the grinning fox already has the feat 8 times, he may instead choose one SP granted by it and increase daily uses for said SP by +1. I really like this archetype - in less "magical" worlds, this allows a player to undergo basically a kitsune-like apotheosis without introducing the race, while in high fantasy campaigns, it adds an interesting dimension to the interaction with kitsune: Do they frown upon Grinning Foxes? Encourage them? Perhaps even create them? Nice one!

The second archetype would be more complex - the Herald of the Lucky God. These guys exclusively specialize on one of the lucky gods - the lucky gods are listed including their dominions, but here's the catch - you get the petition of the lucky god you have chosen as a bonus petition as soon as you meet the prerequisites...however, you may never learn the petitions of the other lucky gods. Similarly, whenever the herald gains a class level and meets the prerequisites for the friendship feat associated with the chosen lucky god, he automatically receives it - once again, gods and associated friendship feats are listed for your convenience. This ability replaces aid of the minor kami. The archetype also learns an unique trick: At 3rd level, the herald learns the so-called Lucky God's Cantrip of the associated deity - and no, this is no 0-level spell. Instead, the abilities are either extraordinary or supernatural abilities, The abilities generally fit rather well with the respective theme of the lucky god chosen: Benzaiten, for example, grants all Knowledge skills as class skills and allows for untrained use of them. Daikokuten gets a pocket dimension that can hold one object of up to 5 lbs. (Hammerspace!), while e.g. Bishamonten grants an insight bonus to atk and AC when readying an action that is then wasted. While I'd champion a scaling bonus for the latter, you see that the abilities are pretty creative! Have I mentioned "Frequent Dier" that pays for a part of the costs of the spells that returned the character to life? If you're a DM like me, this will be used OFTEN. And yes, this got a chuckle out of me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf provides stock photography of a rendition of the lucky gods, fitting exceedingly well. The pdf has no bookmarks, but frankly, needs none at this length.

So Alexander Augunas obviously had to sneak a kitsune-themed...wait. Wrong company and author, so sorry! ;P

Kidding aside, Bradley Crouch's expansion of the absolutely SUPERB, brilliant, genius, awesome, buy it now-level of greatness onmyōji-class is short, sweet and to the point. For a single buck, you get two well-made archetypes that certainly enrich the game and add new dimensions to the glorious base class. While I'm not completely blown out of the water by this expansion, it is still an excellent addition, which, at the ridiculously low $1-pricetag, is a no-brainer. MY final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

P.s.: Get that base class!

Endzeitgeist out.


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****( )

This installment of the Four Horsemen Present-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The sokura's depiction as a race is more intriguing that one would assume - featuring post-existential philosophy as well as perfect pitch, these somewhat feline, quadruped creatures are akin to centaurs with rhinoceros-like skin. Their tribal culture is intriguing in its blend of science and a scoietal structure generally codified as primitive, creating a distinct area of tension between the two poles and generating thus interest and narrative potential in a surprisingly concise depiction that left me curious for more details regarding the culture of the sokura, which is further enhanced by a kind of infatuation with weaponry and a polygamous and polyamorous structure to their relationships. Similarly, the blend of avian, feline and centaur-like traits is intriguing.

Racial trait-wise, Sokura may choose one ability score to which +2 is added, are four-legged with a base speed of 40 ft. and +4 to CMD, always treat Perform as a class skill (and gain +2 to said checks) and are treated as though subject to know direction while on a planet. This one imho should have been codified as SP or Ex and I *assume* from the text that this does not work while in space, but I'm not sure. Sokura can go up to 3 days sans water, 10 sans food without having to make starvation checks. They may also, as a standard action and a Perform-check versus DC 15 share a teamwork feat with 1 ally for 1 round per HD they have...which is pretty powerful for a racial ability. They are proficient with sokura blaster rifles. As far as alternate race traits are concerned, two are provided: Offworlder sokura replace the food/water-related hardiness with +2 to Diplomacy and +1 known language. Prodigy sokura replace the teamwork feat sharing with the Technologist feat.

Thankfully, the race comes with random starting ages, height and weight (with entries for both regular and offworlder sokura) and the race is smart in that it codifies sokura as medium, thus avoiding the large-creature-issues and undersized weapon-requirements of the centaurs. The pdf sports 3 racial feats: Survivor provides temperature adaption as well as a further increase of the time during which they do not need to eat/drink/etc. The other two feats are Sixth Sense, which nets blindsense 10 ft. (with a prereq of Blind-Fight) and its bigger cousin, which grants blindsense 30 ft. and blindsight 5 ft. The race also provides FCOs for bard, cavalier, fighter, gunslinger, ranger and skald - no complaints there.

The pdf also provides racial archetypes, the first of which would be the Honored Nomad cavalier, which modifies proficiencies to cover simple and martial weapons, firearms, bucklers and light armor and are locked into the order of the nomad at 1st level. Instead of a mount, these sokura get +10 ft. movement as well as Endurance. Speaking of the order of the nomad - the order provides +2 to AC versus AoOs from the challenge, increasing +2 for every four levels the cavalier has. Class skills are Perception and Survival. At 2nd level, the order increases starting attitude by +1 and penalizes the Bluffing against him from friendly or helpful creatures. At 8th level can, as an extraordinary ability, calm emotions of a creature as a full-round action, with a duration that is only maintained while the sokura maintains the expenditure of the required action. Making the save versus the ability offers a means of increasing attitude of the creature affected, though the spamming of the ability is impossible due to a hex-like once per 24 hours per creature caveat. At 15th level, Diplomacy can even be used sans shared language and foes are penalized depending on their attitude towards the cavalier. Over all, a cool idea - tying attitudes with combat-relevant abilities is a pretty rare approach.

The Mind Singer skald replaces Scribe Scroll with 10 ft. per class level via telepathy - but only one creature at a given time. Similarly, the raging songs granted by the archetype are hive-mind themed, enhancing the Will of the listeners and providing a telepathic song that grants telepathy to allies as well as sharing teamwork feats at higher levels. 10th level allows for the touching of foes to detect thoughts (immediately 3 rounds of concentration) - nice. 14th level does overshoot the target a bit for less powerful campaigns, allowing for the sharing of a single skill or feat, though at least targets still must meet the prerequisites, which prevents this from being OP. Odd: The honored nomad and mindsinger's headers sport different formatting choices.

The pdf provides two new weapons, the clay shard blades and the sokura blaster rifle (with a nice b/w-artwork). The pdf concludes with advice on how to use the sokura and a sample CR 1/2 vanilla skald (sans archetype), including the neat cover artwork.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - beyond the inconsistency regarding header formatting, this pdf has an odd layout-glitch: The first page sports the standard color background...and about half of the page instead has a white background. This is a cosmetic glitch, though. Layout, apart from aforementioned glitch, adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and sports solid artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Tim Hitchcock's Sokura are an interesting race - though one that does deviate in very minor instances from some established formatting choices. When I looked at the cover, I expected a mess - quite frankly, I have not seen a single quadruped race that truly works...or manages to address the ladder/large-creature-issues properly. The sokura, by virtue of ignoring their extra limbs for all but their base speed, manage to avoid the obvious multiple-arms- and size-issues, which is smart. More importantly, the tidbits we get on their culture actually are intriguing and exciting - they feel ALIEN and still sensible.

The tactician-lite racial ability may upset games that are predicated on more conservative racial stats, but at the same time, the race, as a whole, can be considered on par with the more powerful races like tiefling, aasimar, etc. Personally, I would have codified the ability-types of some abilities a bit differently, but that can be chalked up to mostly personal preference. So is the race good? Well, it's better than the brevity would suggest - it manages to depict a race that feels unique and more than a collection of stats an crunch - which is ultimately the most important component of a race and more than I can say about many racial supplements. Still, personally, I had a strange feeling that the sokura were intended as a psionic race - the mind-song and concepts feel like they could have easily tied in with Ultimate Psionics, considering how the rules in said book have established, precise rules for psionic collectives. A psionic variant at least would have been great to see, though I will not penalize the pdf for the omission of the like.

In the end, this is a nice, if brief, racial supplement that manages to rise above the average racial supplement, but also falls short of the potential of the race, mostly due to the brevity of the book. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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The 5e-conversion of the Phoenix Lily clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

After a brief introduction to the subject matter at hand, we are introduced to two magic items: The uncommon specimen jar, which conserves 1/2 cubic foot of material, preserving it. (Yes, including information on putting things inside or drawing forth items.) and the second being the very rare fecund totem: Vegetation within 600 feet of the totem becomes overgrown as if affected by plant growth, which is btw. not italicized in the pdf. The totem also grants all plant creatures +2 hit points per HD, +2 to all rolls and +2 to AC. Creatures marked by the sign on the totem are not attacked by plants unless provoked.

The eponymous sample creature herein, the Phoenix Lily, is a CR 4 adversary that sports a limited number of fiery blossoms that wilt upon being used, which they can use to emit fiery rays with a recharge of 3-6 (I assume, the recharge here represents a wilted blossom regaining its prowess). These lilies are vulnerable to cold and resistant to fire and may either attack twice via vines or fiery one of aforementioned rays. Interesting: Upon taking fire damage, a phoenix lily must succeed a Constitution save, with a DC equal to damage taken. On a failure, it erupts in an explosion akin to a fireball, with a damage equal to number of blossoms remaining times d6, Dexterity save vs. DC 15 halves. The plant is included in the targets and all blossoms wilt if this explosion is triggered. On a cosmetic side - the rules pertaining recharge and the wilting of blossoms are a bit opaque: Now I *think* wilting blossoms represent the total maximum of times the phoenix lily can fire its ray, while recharge is determined to denote the downtime required between shots - but one may just as well read this as recharge "unwilting" blossoms - hey, it's a phoenix lily, after all! A bit more precision in the interaction of these two would be nice.

The pdf also provides concise rules for harvesting phoenix blossoms that adhere to the default established in the accompanying FREE pdf and the rules for preserving them are provided as well - though the ever increasing DC means you won't be carrying a lot of these around for long. Intelligence (nature) can be used to fire them similarly to a one-use circlet of blasting. The pdf also contains rules for glow-emitting fire beetle glands and basilisk blood, which may revert creatures affected by a basilisk's petrification to their less statuesque forms and, when imbibed, can act similarly to cockatrice tongues as a means to temporarily gain advantage versus paralysis and petrification. Shambler Wafers are pretty powerful: Eating one grants you lightning immunity for one hour and converts the first time lightning damage is taken up to 20 hit points of damage prevented by the immunity into temporary hit points. At 200 gp, this item may be a bit on the inexpensive side, but its harvesting is dangerous enough...so yeah.

The pdf also provides means for using basilisk blood and phoenix blossoms as optional additional material components - and the modifications are interesting: E.g. gaining advantage to remove the petrified condition via dispel magic - or rather, that would be interesting...but, alas, pretrification requires greater restoration to remedy and can't be affected by dispel magic in the first place. Editing has some glitches here - when scorching ray notes "You get one extra ray than normal." and a multiplying "X" is missing in a spell's area increase, the bonus damage granted to phoenix lily-powered fireballs is not properly codified as fire damage, lack of italicization of a spell...I can't help but find myself thinking that editing should have caught this.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the downsides of this pdf - while formally not bad, they could have used a cleaning up pertaining some components of the rules-language. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, nice 2-column standard that is easy on the printer. Oddly, one underline of the natural items is purple, not black like the others. The original b/w-artwork provided is awesome for the low price point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Russ Brown and Ismael Alvarez' conversion of the Phoenix Lily to 5e is solid regarding the creature - while the recharge/wilting-component imho needs clarification, the creature as such is well-crafted and fun. The supplemental material, alas, ranges in quality, with editing feeling rushed on a formal and rules level - basically, this is a nice, inexpensive pdf hampered by the glitches in the details. If you just want to get this for the creature, go ahead; similarly, I enjoyed the notion of basilisk's blood being used to reverse petrification caused by them, as this taps into mythology. Still, the power component-section in particular needs some work. Still, for the plant, this is worth the asking price.

As a reviewer, though, I can't close my eyes to the hiccups herein. My final verdict, hence, will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I can't round up with the accumulated glitches in this brief pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.


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****( )

This FREE pdf (included in regular Deadly Gardens, just fyi!) clocks in at 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 1.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are natural items? They are basically parts of creatures vanquished, in some cases specifically treated. The harvesting of these items is pretty simple - all are based on Intelligence, though the precise skill used diverges from creature to creature. Beasts can be harvested via Intelligence (Nature), while most creatures can be harvested via Intelligence (Religion) and Intelligence (Arcana). Slightly odd to my eyes: Oozes are harvested via Intelligence (Investigation) - though that makes sense, if you stop to think about it. Scraping an ooze's remains from the floor? Yeah, sounds investigation-y.

The DC to harvest the respective natural items may be a bit high - per default, it is 10 + the creature's CR, with CR 1/2 et al being rounded up to 1, though, to be a nitpicky prick, the pdf does not explicitly state that one should round up. Conversely, the DC gets high pretty fast at higher levels. This does get a pass, though, since the two sample items provided make that apparent. Format-wise, natural items sport a Source that denotes the target creature from which an item is harvested, the Harvest line that states the skill used and DC and the yield. Yield denotes the number of such items you can harvest from a given carcass. Of course, price and weight also are included.

The sample items herein would be the cockatrice tongue, which, when consumed raw, grants advantage on saving throws versus petrification and paralysis. Mimic adhesive is interesting in that you can gain more of it when you succeed by +5 or more when harvesting. Mimic adhesive can be used as a glue, obviously, and is generally a nice item; I won't complain about no AC given for the glue, since the GM should be able to assign one - however, here a bit of Pathfinderism has crept into the pdf: The glue has 5 hit points...and hardness 3. After extensive perusal of my books and the SRD, I couldn't find any mention of hardness - was this supposed to be a damage threshold?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though I noticed a minor glitch here and there. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column color-standard and the pdf is relatively printer-friendly. In spite of its brevity, the pdf is fully bookmarked - kudos!

Ismael Alvarez has done a good job converting Russ Brown's pdf; while not an expansive pdf, this is FREE and I love the general notion of natural items. While not perfect, this is a nice bonus and certainly worth the download. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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This installment of the Into the Breach-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC,1 page SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved forward in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

It's been quite a ride since Flying Pincushion Games, then still partnered with D20pfsrd.com Publishing, released their second book (and the first one I reviewed), namely the first Into the Breach: Magus. Well...let's just say that it didn't do so well. That being said, the crew has learned quite a bit since then, but does this second trip to the magus fare better than the first one?

We begin this book, as always, with an assortment of different archetypes, the first of which would be the Arcane Engineer. These guys get a modified skill-list (with all rogue-y related skills like Stealth or Disable Device), 6+Int skills per level and a similarly modified weapon and armor proficiency list. Arcane engineers do not learn to cast in medium and heavy armor at 7th and 15th level; rules-language-wise, stating that in the proficiency section is an unnecessary deviation from standard rules formatting. They also modify their spell-list, but, more importantly, may apply the bonuses granted by their arcane pool to objects and armor, but only to one object at a given time. Starting at 5th level, these guys may spontaneously add a limited list of metamagic feats' effects to spells by using arcane pool points equal to the spell level adjustment. While this sounds feasible, the rules-language is pretty wonky and deviates in many regards from how such mechanics usually are phrased.

Starting at 2nd level, these guys may channel spells through equipment - they may, e.g. get an Acrobatics bonus equal to his class level when casting "movement enhancement spell on an item worn on his feet item slot." *SIGH* For how long? Does non-magical equipment qualify? What constitutes a "movement enhancement spell"? Define. What if he has no item on the feet-slot? Doesn't work as written. To make up for that, targets of their spellstrike may save, even if there is usually no save. OUCH. Wait...what's the save? Fort? Ref? Will? No idea. The archetype also has a significantly expanded arcana section, allowing them to convert spells into arcane pool points - and no, they can't be retrieved via spell recall or improved spell recall. This severely de-limits the arcane pool - and fails to specify whether multiple instances of the same spell prepared also mean that the respective spell can't be recalled. Cosmetic, sure, but still. On the cool side, counting as having the quick trapsmith rogue talent while under the effect of haste can be considered to be an interesting synergy. Regarding almost humorously bad editing glitches: "When channeling the monkey fish spell through a wrist or belt slot item, the arcane engineer may ignore the armor check of light armor when climbing or swimming and add +5 ft to his Swim or Climb speed" Spot the glitches, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, beyond there being a "penalty" missing. Btw.: The maximum ACP for light armors...is -2. Another also nets the following gem: "[the shirt through which a spell is channeled] automatically gains a Heal skill check using the arcane engineer’s Heal skill modifier +10 to attempt to stop bleed damage." So, does the item gain an action? Does this happen immediately? As an action? Things get more wonky - "+8 to the Fly skill as though the arcane engineer were a flying creature." URGH. Does this stack with Fly speed's bonus? The bonus granted by the required spell, overland flight? No idea. This whole archetype is a neat idea, but not functional - it takes a complex concept and tries to beat it into a class chassis not intended for its use...and its wording is sloppy.

The second archetype, the Ebonheart Magus, adds several death-related spells to his spell list, namely death knell, death knell aura and bleed. Starting at 4th level, these guys may expend 1 arcane pool point as a swift action to, for one minute have all touch-range spells dealing hit point damage deal 1/2 their damage as negative energy damage, granting the magus "temporary hit points per level of the spell cast while this ability is in effect." These stack to a maximum of twice (thrice at 11th level) the magus' level and last 10 minutes. The plus-side here, is that death knell and this ability's temporary hit points are properly working in conjunction. The downside being that the magus gains these temporary hit points only once per spell cast. At 11th level, this ability extends its benefits to ranged spells - and here, things become very wonky: What about AoE-spells? Do they grant multiple temporary hitpoints? Technically, they're one "cast," as the ability calls it.

At 7th level, these guys may spend one point from the arcane pool to cast death knell upon reducing a foe to -1 hit points via a melee attack or touch-range spell as an immediate action. This ability gets an upgrade at 16th level. The archetype pays for these benefits with (improved) spell recall, the knowledge pool and counterstrike. The archetype gets 3 arcana for leeching blades. At 9th level, these guys can expend temporary hit points to properly heal or even regain prepared magus spells.

I like what this archetype tries to do: using temporary hit points as an alternate resource and tying it to the limited resources spells, hit points and arcane pool. Unfortunately, there is a reason for why this is usually not done - there are more ways to gain temporary hit points that can be exploited rather hard. Beyond the rules-language hiccups, this means this archetype will not get near my game.

The next archetype is the elemental champion - these guys lose (improved) spell recall and knowledge pool. To make up for this, these guy increase energy damage output and may expend arcane pool points up to Int-mod to change the energy types of spells prepared, with 11th level providing only the fly energy type change. Pretty much the epitome of boring elementalist.

The Fate's Edge can't spend arcane pool points to enhance his weapon, but may spend 1 point from the renamed Prescience Pool as a swift action to gain a +1 insight bonus that can either be applied to atk and damage or to AC and saves, increasing by +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The total bonus can freely be divided up between offense and defense. 5th level provides uncanny dodge, 10th level its improved sister ability. At 7th level, while already in prescient combat, the fate's edge may, as an immediate action, spend 1 point to reroll an attack or save and at 16th level, the archetype may force a creature targeting the fate's edge or saving versus a spell or effect generated by the fate's edge to roll twice and take the lower result. Arcana-wise, rerolling damage dice , rolling twice for initiative and spellbooks expanded with some divinations are pretty much what I expected. Mechanically, this one is pretty sound, but it won't win any innovation prizes - these are literally the default tricks in that category.

The Force Bulwark is, mechanically, perhaps one of the more intriguing archetypes herein - instead of spell combat, these guys gain the ability to create barriers of solid, visible magical force. This barrier, 5' square, has hardness equal to Int mod and hit points equal to 5 + cless level x 2. Versus energy damage, hardness is instead treated as energy resistance, retaining vulnerability versus these. The barrier provides cover and may, providing circumstances are right, even grant total cover. The barrier must be anchored but doesn't have to be vertically anchored. It can hold 100 pounds per caster level and has a range of "close" - I *think* that should be "short (25 ft + 5 ft./2 levels). At 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the character can create + 1 5' square barrier, which must forma single continuous plane, though the barrier shares hit points.

The barrier is activated as a standard action, costs 1 arcane pool point and remains for 1 minute or until destroyed. A force bulwark may only have one such barrier in place at a given time. This replaces spell combat. At 8th level, the barrier can be formed into rough geometric forms (more precise wording would have been nice here) and the barrier may halve its hit points to extend to twice the area. At 14th level barriers need no anchor and 20th level eliminates the one-barrier at a time restriction. There are 4 exclusive types of arcana, which include AoE bull rushes versus attackers that destroy the barrier, minor retributive damage, fast healing barriers and more hardness that scales with levels. I really like the idea of this archetype, but its execution leaves a bit to be desired - the barriers generally are pretty weak and easily broken. While the complex concept generally is cool, it suffers from the limited space it has to shine - this should imho be a more detailed base class. Still my favorite so far.

The Mistblade may, as a standard action, spend 1 arcane pool point to create an illusory duplicate of himself that can move anywhere within close range of the creator. The duplicate is correctly coded as a figment and has an AC equal to your touch AC. The double is destroyed when it takes any damage. Unfortunately, the ability fails to specify the save DC to disbelief the double, which is important since non-disbelieved doubles can act as flanking partners. Duplicates can speak and changes to your appearance etc. affect the double as well. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the class feature grants +1 double, all of which must be destroyed or disbelieved separately. Odd: 5th level specifies that the doubles can now be directed as a free action, when prior to that, no action is given regarding directing the doubles. This replaces the magus' ability to enhance weapons with arcane pool. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter provide sneak attack progression instead of spellstrike.

The higher levels allow for the disbelieved duplicates to be reset as a standard action and 10th level allows them to affect the physical world as though they had a Str-score of 10, with the mist-blade's BAB + size modifiers as atk, with damage equal to the weapon's base damage sans enchantments, feats, abilities, etc. at 13th level, the mistblade can swap positions with a duplicate as a swift action. The ability lacks the note that it is a conjuration [teleportation] effect for purposes of ability interactions. They do lose medium and heavy armor and fighter training for these tricks. The arcana allow the mistblade to see through duplicates and poach among rogue talents and ninja tricks. All in all a thematically awesome, complex archetype that almost gets its difficult subject matter right.

Primalists get diminished spellcasting and may only use spell combat in conjunction with natural attacks or unarmed strikes. He may not enhance his weapon via arcane pool and instead gains primal shift that costs 1 point from the modified pool and can be activated as a standard action (swift action at 4th level). The shift lasts for one minute; it is properly codified as a polymorph effect: Every level, the character gains a number of evolution points that can be used to gain a limited array of evolutions; the evolutions are fixed each level, but can be reassigned on a level-up. The abilities of the archetype focus on modifying spell combat et al. for natural attacks/unarmed strikes, limited natural armor and modifying expanded spell list-abilities to refer to the druid spell-list instead of the wizard's. The arcana allows for reactive shifts, for example. A slight problem here lies in the utterly deadly combo of feral combat, spells and evolutions - the combo makes you a brutal shredder and the archetype, generally, is very, very strong. It still is okay in high-powered campaigns, but any halfway decent minmaxer will make a devastating beast out of these guys. GMs concerned with balance may want to be careful regarding this one.

The Pyroclastic Mystic has a cool name...and gets more fire spells, fire resistance, uses fire-forged steel, a cloak of ash, may sculpt fire damage spells...and takes until 11th level until it finally gets a means to reduce resistance...which may be a bit later. 5th level or even as soon as 3rd would have probably been a good idea. Overall one of the more visually interesting elementalists...but still, not really that cool.

The Spell-torch Savant looks, at first glance, like yet another one of these...but is interesting: These guys can spontaneously convert spells into a fixed list of divinations while wielding a torch and they attack with torches - when delivering touch spells with their torches, they add fire damage contingent on spell level and make the targets burn, scaling DC to resist and put out - which is pretty brutal. Thankfully, the fire at least can't spread. At 4th level extend this to ranged touch attack spells. Higher levels provides options regarding wind-resilient torches and instead of bonus feats, they can pose yes/no questions to their torch, brandishing it; if the answer is yes, the flame flares. I...actually love this one. The mechanics are unique and powerful, but the archetype is balanced pretty well...and makes torch-combat actually feasible and evocative - certainly an interesting class I'll use in my darker games.

The towering champion gets a reduced arcane pool...and is interesting as well: These guys may enter massive form, increasing their sizes and gaining attribute bonuses, natural armor and later even DR. The abilities are codified properly and size benefits are listed for your convenience. Giant-themed abilities like rock catching are provided and these guys get a choice - either be a protector or marauder. This choice determines whether the form features a buff for allies or debuff for foes (it can be changed each level) and the archetype can grapple foes with one hand. I like the visuals here; I also like the execution - a 11-grade distinction between massive forms means that they generally are level-appropriate regarding their balance. All in all, a good archetype, though a bit light on the player agenda - still, one of my favorites herein. I'll probably use this one sooner rather than later.

The next one would be the waystrider - no arcane pool weapon enhancement, but instead close range, arcane pool-based teleportation (properly codified - YAY!), with higher levels increasing range. The archetype also gets evasion, tagging along on teleportation and a somewhat erratic last second save teleport that staggers him for one round, but may save his life (or teleport him in a solid object, but oh well...). The arcana allows for the ignoring of line of sight, an afterimage and improved evasion. Know what? I like this. It's a solid teleporter-skirmisher archetype that does everything right. I have recently built a similar teleport-themed archetype...and have to say, I couldn't have done this one better. Credit where credit is due - this is awesome.

The whip weird gets a modified spell list and is the unpretentious whip-expert, with arcane pool powering temporary deafening strikes (later entangle and constricted), appropriate feats and proficiencies. This does not reinvent the wheel, but certainly is one of the better takes on the whip specialist I have seen, with sufficient precision in the rules language - again, kudos.

Part II of my review can be found in the product discussion. See you there!


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