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An Endzeitgeist.com review

****( )

This first installment of the Akashic Mysteries-series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

First of all, in case you don't know - this is the PFRPG-version of "Magic of Incarnum", updated, refined and refluffed. But it's more than that. Let me elaborate - back in teh day, i liked the basic concept of Incarnum; its balancing may not always have been perfect, but it was an interesting system, one I wished had come out sooner and wish better cost/benefit ratios. I didn't enjoy the fluff, but that could be changed easily. Still, the system didn't seem to gel well with my group, until we went gestalt - in that playstyle, it excelled.

Fast-forward to this series - has it inherited the weaknesses of its parent-system? What about the flavor? We'll see!

The class introduced herein would be the vizier, who receives d6, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with light armor, bucklers and simple weapons. The class has 1/2 BAB-progression and, uncommon for a full caster, but not unheard of, good fort and will-saves. The main schtick of the class, though, would be veilweaving, which is grouped into two categories, namely veils and essences. A 1st level vizier begins play with 2 veils and 1 essence and increases that to a total of 11 veils and 30 essences at 20th level.

Viziers receive instant access to all veils on the vizier's list, apart from those of an alignment opposing that of the vizier. When required, a veil's save DC is 10 + number of essence points invested + vizier's Intelligence modifier. A vizier may invest up to his character level in essence into a given veil or given receptacle. Here, the wording is slightly non-standard - not to a point where I'd complain about this or detract from the verdict, but still, making this one slightly more linear in its wording would help. At 3rd level, 11th and 19th, the vizier increases the maximum capacity of a receptacle by +1. DCs also increase by +1 on these levels. Re-allocating essence into veils can be done as a swift action each round. Veils are prepared much like spells each day after rest etc.

You may have noticed that the vizier, in spite of what the base frame of the class might look like, is NOT a spellcaster - however, they do treat vizier-levels as arcane caster levels for purposes of qualifying for feats and abilities. Now I mentioned that essence can be freely re-distributed between veils - well the same does *NOT* hold true regarding the investiture of essence into magic items with charges: Wands, staves and wondrous items can be infused with essence, gaining additional charges that last for 24 hours before dissipating. These cannot be reassigned and remain essentially locked in the item. Here, there's issue, though - (warning: nitpickery!) balance is a bit opaque, since the basic veilweaving does not specify when the essence-pool refreshes, instead stating "A vizier must have at least 8 hours rest or meditation to achieve a clear and focused state, and must meditate for one hour to shape his veils for the day." One could argue that you could theoretically invest essence twice into an item in a given 24 hour-period. Would that be smart? In most of the cases, it wouldn't be. I'd hence suggest to include a sentence that clearly states that essence invested in items does not regenerate before 24 hours have elapsed. Also, since the duration and essence capacity maximum (see waaaay down in the section on veilweaving) could cause confusion here, I'd strongly suggest rewiring the rest/essence-regain-wording.

There is another issue - an item that has essence invested in it not only gains the temporary charges, it also does never prompt UMD checks to use. While the ability can only be used to activate spells of 8th level or lower, it can still lead to problems.

What do I mean by this? Surprisingly, I'm not complaining about items with few charges being left as treasure to have some "smart bombs" here; What I'm not sold on is simply the flat-out "no UMD"-section AND the non-scaling nature of this ability. What if the players find a wand with precious few charges or a unique staff and can just flat-out use it? I am aware that these are fringe-cases, but it would theoretically allow the vizier to utilize charge-based items beyond his level's capacity (if the DM foolishly drops them into the treasure...) - and there is a pretty easy solution that prevents the issue: Just make the highest spell level of the item the governing factor for whether or not you have to UMD and make it scale with class level progression, by e.g. tying it to twice essence capacity. Now, yes, the base ability isn't broken, but I maintain that such a solution would be much more elegant and prevent fringe-case abuse.

Now there also are so-called chakra-binds - these are gained at 2nd level in a linear manner, +1 at every 2nd level, in a fixed progression from Hands, feet, head, wrist, shoulders, headband, neck, belt chest and finally, at 20th level, body. At 9th level, the vizier can bind veils in the ring slot and at 15th level, you can bind them into both ring slots. On a nitpicky-side, I don't get why the ring-slots are not wrapped in the chakra-ability, but that is purely a cosmetic gripe.

At 3rd level, viziers may reshape a veil 1/day (+1/day for every 4 levels thereafter) as a standard action that provokes AoOs into a new veil. Additionally, each time the daily uses increase, you may also shift one additional veil per ability use. The capstone allows for at-will veilshaping - and whenever the class uses the veilshaping ability, he regains 3+Int temporary essence.

Viziers also receive a kind of bloodline-ish linear ability chosen at first level - a total of 3 are provided and I hope we'll see more of those. The Path of the Crafter, Path of the Seer and Path of the Ruler.

The Path of the Crafter gain a bonus equal to 1/2 class level (rounded up or down?) on all skill-checks made as part of the crafting process. That is *pretty* powerful. Allies within 30 ft. that activate a magic item, treat caster level and DC of the activated item as +1. That is nasty, but will also make the vizier rather popular with his adventuring companions. Okay, where things get rather unique would be in one particular ability - transfer essence. This allows you to meditate on items and exchange their bonuses and special abilities. - Found a cool weapon, but don't have the proficiency for it? just exchange the enchantment with those on your trusty sword. I applaud the fact that you can't cherry-pick abilities. Now, on the other hand, wand/staff charges can also be exchanged if the items have the same highest spell level - a fitting restriction, but one I'd suggest to be supplemented with an analogue caster level (or lower) restriction to prevent spells that increase their potency with caster level having their charges cheaply upped by using charges from items that do not scale with CL. Once again, not a bad glitch, but rather one that can easily be fixed.

The path also grants item creation feats and a decreased craft-price at higher levels. Oh, and kudos for the intelligent item/cursed item/artifact caveat!

The path of the ruler is all about granting a will-save/sense motive debuff aura, with selective exclusion of allies. Enforcing a reroll at high levels is nice, but when compare to the Crafter's benefits, the path of the ruler feels pretty meek. The poor guy could use an upgrade for his aura.

The path of the seer increases movement of all allies within 60 ft. by +5 ft, +5 more at 9th and 17th level - neat. Now the interesting part comes next - the seer learns teamwork feats and for each point invested, the class may share ALL teamwork feats granted by this ability (1 is gained at 1st, 5th, 9th and 13th level) with an ally; additionally, veils tied to hand or feat may be shared alongside with allies. High-level seer-viziers may freely retrain the teamwork feats. See, that one is a competent, powerful commander-style path and once again, mops the floor with the relatively uninspired ruler-path.

Next up would be an array of new feats, 37 if I'm not mistaken. There are some feats for non-akashic classes to wilder in the system. Feats with the new [Akashic]-descriptor increase the essence pool by +1. The feats very much do support one aspect I loved about the original incarnum - gestalting and multiclassing. Investing essence into one school to have the school's spells at CL+1? Can see that. On the downside, these feats constitute neither veils, nor charge-bearing items, so not sure whether one can freely re-allocate essence invested via feats of this formula. Free reallocation would amount to pretty much free CL+1 for all spells of that school. While not too bad in this example, when one takes a look at the power point-reducing feat in the same line (reduce PP-cost by essence invested, thankfully with power-level based additional restrictions), it becomes apparent that free reallocation is something that needs to be addressed, otherwise, you could decrease the cost of ALL powers subsequently. This is especially puzzling since the feat that allows you to invest essence in favor of getting power points *does* specify the 24 hours-no-reassignment cap. This also becomes also apparent when taking a look at the otherwise interesting veilbound metamagic, which once again uses a 1/day formula.

The pdf ought to specify whether it uses the 24-hour bind-and-locked wording or whether it imposes a cap on how many times per day essence can be invested in a feat - utilizing both models quickly becomes confusing. After multiple extensive playtesting sessions, I'd suggest the former, i.e. going analogue to charge-investment, for what it's worth.

Conversely, not all feats suffer from this specific issue -akashic charge allows you to 1/day invest essence in the feat, granting a bonus to atk and damage when charging equal to the essence invested. Its missing no-reassignment clause has been addressed in the errata and I'm willing to believe that this component will feature in the next update. This type of complaint, however, can be fielded against a whole feat-class herein - I assume that to be oversights in layout/editing, since some feats clearly sport this caveat. There are *a lot* of feats interacting and enhancing existing feats here and math-wizards *will* have a field day here. I just hope that all those cool feats receive the "no reassignment for 24 hours"-caveat in the next update - as provided here, the feats that lack it can be broken pretty easily.

Essentially, the point boils down to the following scenario:

Does the feat grant a significant bonus based on essence-investment? If yes, it should have the essence bound analogue to charge items.

Does the feat instead grant a highly situational or very restricted bonus? Then essence should remain flexible to justify the feat investment.

In any case, adding the 1/day restrictions feels a bit tacked on; with just a bit of minor streamlining, this whole section can be rid of its minor issues and made more smooth.

Beyond these, I also noticed that "Essence of the Immortals" has the [Akashic]-descriptor, but has neither an essence pool as a prerequisite, nor does it grant +1 essence -the same holds true for some other feats, but I have not yet determined whether that's intentional or an oversight.

This may all have sounded terribly negative - it's not my intent to do so. It's just that this one glitch in how the whole feat-class works makes it very hard to judge whether these work as intended or not. The plus-side here is that the math underlying the feats can be considered powerful, but NOT overpowered - at least once the 24-hour lock-caveat has been implemented. To close my discussion on the feats with something positive - the massive gestalting potential of incarnum is not only maintained, it is surpassed - the feats here have something for just about everyone to utilize, which is downright awesome.

All right, so let's get to veilweaving, shall we? Every veil is associated with a chakra and *can* be bound to the chakra if the akashic class is powerful enough to do so, gaining more benefits. Each chakra corresponds to an equipment slot and some veils can occupy one or two or even more different slots. It is very important to note that veils bound to chakras do *NOT* interfere with items worn in the same slot - the biggest suckage-factor of incarnum is GONE.

Upon manifesting the veil, you can choose which slot the veil is applied to. If you remember the above discussion of the class, you'll realize that new chakras become unlocked at a fixed progression. Veils interact with spells and spell-like abilities as if they were spells. Veils, unless they modify/grant natural attacks or weapons, are subject to SR. Veils can be targeted and even sundered to temporarily suppress them. identifying veils works via Knowledge (arcana), which may seem a bit odd, seeing the usual adherence to Spellcraft for such a task...but I actually really like this decision. it adds a "different" flavor to the magic-class. Now before you all start screaming regarding how huge, highly circumstantial bonuses can be stacked up - there *is* a pretty conservative essence capacity limit based on character level - no more than this fixed amount can be invested in any one veil, feat, etc.

Now the veils...ooohhh, if you like customizable classes, you'll have a field day here! Fascination-auras with customizable aura size may be nice...but what if a target is freed from the effect and you have bound the veil to your wrist? Well, then you can deliver what my group called the "akashic pimp slap" with a free action ranged touch attack. Eyes of fiery death? Yup. Veils that improve starting attitude (and this one ACTUALLY manages to achieve the "disarming smile/diplomancer-trope *so much* better than comparable options, it's really cool) can be found herein alongside those helping with elemental affinities. Want a veil that allows you to spontaneously create zombies (or cairn wights in ring-slot-bound-form?) from the deceased? Channel-like effects of veils have thankfully daily limits imposed upon them to prevent abuse - that's how it's done.

On a nitpicky side that will not influence the final verdict, the veil that grants a draconic breath weapon could have used a short list of what dragon-colors net lines and which cones - while *I* know them by hard, many players will have to look that one up. As mentioned, nitpicking here and not gonna penalize the pdf for one page-skip required. Pretty awesome - by binding the aforementioned veil to the neck, you can further increase your draconic breath's power; alternatively, you can grow wings with increasing maneuverability. Now the hand cannons combined with target of Opportunity are a pretty nasty combo -especially when combined with a sniper as deadly as the one I have in my group - but come on. Hand cannons. I actually made a hand cannon in an archetype once. I'm a berserk fanboy. I can't hate on magical hand cannons. (Plus, while powerful, they're not broken.)

Want whips of light? Yup. What about binding it to make trip attempts against every enemy in range whenever the veil is triggered? Yep, that's crazy awesome to not be flooded by groups of moderately competent mooks. And yes, in playtest, a defense scenario against floods of foes actually saw the vizier shine pretty nicely.

Conclusion of my review in the product discussion.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

****( )

All right, you know the deal - 2 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages content (double the usual!), let's go!

-Djinni Style: +1/2 mythic tier elemental fist uses and icnreased damage output with them. Bypass resistance, immunity and partially hardness etc. when using elemental fist or Djinni Style-feat attacks with mythic power.

-Djinni Spin: Increase damage output and temporarily penalize ranged attacks against you. Creatures of any size may be pushed away 5 feet (or staggered) and non-mythic creatures receive no benefits regarding this, even if they make the save. Nice.

-Djinni Spirit: Higher electricity resistance and enter the style reflexively. Similar movement-causing trick to Djinni Spin, plus clad yourself in a defensive electricity-damage causing sheathe that may also deafen adversaries.

-Efreeti Style: Like Djinni Style, but with regards to fire; Also use mythic power to temporarily increase reach by +5 feet.

-Efreeti Stance: More fire resistance and reflexive entering of the style; has a typo that confuses mythic tier with mythic power - you can expend mythic POWER to receive temporary immunity to fire. (Expending a tier would be a steep cost indeed!) Has a defensive sheathe like Djinni Spirit, just fire-themed and causing the target to catch on fire and potentially be dazzled.

-Efreeti Touch: Add mythic tier to damage and add a nausea-causing fog cloud to your Efreeti Touch. Awesome!

-Janni Style: No penalty to AC when charging, decrease atk-bonus of flanking creatures against you. Use mythic power to freely charge through allies and make as many turns as you want while charging. Now this is cool!

-Janni Rush: +mythic tier to acrobatics checks while executing Janni Rush. Expend mythic power for + 5 x tier to jump checks and when also charging, add mythic tier as a damage bonus that multiplies in crits. Pretty badass!

-Janni Tempest: Trips targets as a swift action, bull rushes them as a move action or executes a maneuver that works as both bull rush and trip as a standard action...which makes no sense. An attack is usually already at least a standard action, so in order to qualify here, one has to hit with an AoO in the round before one's turn. Problem 1: You can't expend the required actions when executing AoOs...so next turn? Problem 2: Do bonuses to one of the combat maneuvers (trip or bull rush) apply to the check? Do bonuses stack (e.g. bonus to trip + bonus to bull rush?); Using mythic power, you can execute one as a free action or the combined maneuver that doesn't work as a swift action. Cool idea, needs clarification.

-Marid Style: As Djinni Style for cold energy; Extend reach by 5 foot, for unarmed attacks only, via mythic power.

-Mardi Spirit: Defensive sheathe that entangles, add fatiguing hypothermia to elemental fist instead of movement; other than that, a cold-themed Djinni Spirit.

-Marid Coldsnap: Increased damage output and add grease-effect to the coldsnap. Creatures falling prone take cold damage and those remaining in the area also take damage. Creatures damaged become entangled. powerful and nasty - nice!

-Shaitan Style: Acid-themed version of the Djinni Style.

-Shaitan Skin: Acid-themed copy of the X Spirit-feat with chance for causing the sickened condition via the reflexive sheathe.

-Shaitan Earthblast: Increase damage output and turn the area into difficult terrain; Creatures that fail their save are knocked prone. Cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; while I noticed minor glitches and a couple of the hyperlinks on the first page have a different font size, nothing too bad. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I'm not a fan of elemental-themed class options unless they do something different for each element, rendering them more than reskins of the same ability. I've read too many elemental groups of abilities that boil down to "as the one with fire, but with acid" - and this pdf does suffer from this issue, at least partially. That being said, Jason Nelson does add some unique options to each of the styles and there *are* differences, even in the cloned abilities, which is neat indeed. I am honestly somewhat torn here and have probably spent too much time contemplating the final rating for such a short pdf - while the combined maneuver bonus-glitch is somewhat annoying, it is also part of the most interesting style-tree herein. The elemental-themed benefits are pretty similar, yes, but they also tend to bring something unique to the respective styles. In the end, I'm going to settle on a final verdict of a solid 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

*****

This massive collection of modules clocks in at 192 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 11 pages of advertisements, leaving us with 177 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf kicks in with a blast from the past for me - a discussion on the upcoming Lost Lands setting and how different places in the world implied by all Necromancer Games/Frog God Games modules and supplements. If you're like me, this is damn interesting...but let me go back for a second.

When 3rd edition came around back in the day, I was kind of skeptical - but then again, after seeing the very real limitations rules-light systems can sport at one given point, I converted - also due to my players simply enjoying reaping the benefits of system mastery. So I went into the new system, bought books etc. - the whole deal. That is when I realized that balance was terrible and fluctuating - if you've been there during the "Sword and Fist"-era, you'll know what I mean. At the same time, I got modules and while there were some fine gems, WotC just didn't produce enough - and while I will never forget how my PCs defeated Ashardalon (upgraded to CR 38, epic etc.), most, but not all of the new school modules left me craving *something*, feeling like something had been lost in the process. It took me quite some time back in the day to grasp what the problem was - in the advent of massive statblocks, the things that provided the immersion into the world took a step back. In its place came very straight: "This is treated as spell x" descriptions that made the whole system more concise. Additionally, bestiaries went away from complex discussions on habitat, ecology, etc., instead providing almost only crunch, rendering books I used to love to read into something I read once and then used at the table - but never read for pleasure.

The increased size of statblocks also rendered modules simply less detailed - less space to devote to the respective areas and inhabitants, their tactics etc. While this changed over the course of 3.X and in PFRPG is less of a problem, mainly due to a vast array of superb modules, in 3.X's days, it made me feel as if the system was superb in its math, but also soulless. Then there was the issue with player-entitlement, which also became a problem during those days - or rather, the slavish adherence to CRs and a "balanced chance" in every encounter felt to me unrealistic and soulless - it detracted immensely from my sense of immersion.

On the plus-side, the OGL provided a whole bunch of interesting 3pps, so I was browsing shelves in my FLGS. I noticed two old-school looking modules there - "Crucible of Freya" and "Tomb of Abysthor." I bought them. I read them. I cackled with glee. Here we got modules that had line-of-sight-featuring maps of guard-fires, great cartography - and the balls to throw a CR 6 troll at a 1st level party, proudly, defiantly against the zeitgeist, stating that PCs acting dumb ought to result in death. This very philosophy of proper challenges and smart, detailed surroundings was glorious. Better yet, the modules were not afraid of not codifying everything - providing unique terrain hazards, additional encounters (heck, in ToA the PCs can avoid a whole level if they don't want to explore everything!). A couple of years later, I had almost everything Necromancer Games had produced and ordered every book I could get my hands on.

Then, PFRPG happened and I was complaining about Slumbering Tsar, about how much I wanted to see it and had graduated from forum-lurker to reviewer. The rest is history.

Here, for the first time, the free introductory module Wizard's Amulet, Crucible of Freya and Tomb of Abysthor are collected in one massive book, all updated for PFRPG. (And that's damn well and good, for ToA, for example, was nigh impossible to get anymore!) Furthermore, while the original modules utilized various pieces of content from the Scarred Lands Creature Collection-books and the Relics & Rituals-tomes, this revamp sports completely new takes on the respective topics, without these old pieces of content. And yes, this does extend to a point where the crunch can influence the fluff and actually, rather than restrict the narrative capacities of the module in question - see for example th "sorceror's amulet"-sidebar. Better yet, some of the more significant encounters actually come with different tactical suggestions and conditions based on the difficulty level you're aiming for, making this book worthwhile even for less experienced players. (Though people, when you go for FGG, you might as well go hardcore - it's what makes winning awesome.)

Additionally, it should be noted that this is no lazy repackaging - new encounters, mapped mini-dungeons, copious amounts of superb b/w-artworks - there's a lot of new material and the inclusion of e.g. the APG-classes in builds does result in a very organic, defiantly pathfinder change of the basic modules. What about a misanthropic druid who has developed a wand to control stirges, for example, with a hilarious picture of the poor guy being annoyed by the bloodsucking pests. Ruined waystations and monasteries breathe a significant sense of danger and desolation.

And yes, the CR20+ slightly cthulhoid adversary of ToA, who belonged to a now IP-protected species has been replaced with a rather cool multi-class build...of what race? No, not going to spoil that...

On the crunch-side, the book does sport new takes on archetypes and prestige classes for the foes, numerous magic items and a variety of non-standard creatures to be encountered within these pages.

What is this module about? I'm not spoiling that. This is a piece of roleplaying history that one should experience for oneself. Just one hint: Beware the font and its endless skeletons...

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks herein are glorious, especially the new ones; some original artworks have been used as well. The cartography is neat as well, I just wished we had player-friendly versions for them.

I'll make this short - Bill Webb and Clark Perterson are legends for a reason. But Erica Balsley, Greg A. Vaughan and Skeeter Green as contributing authors should be proud as well. Developers Skeeter Green and Ken Cliffe have taken this collection and made it more than the sum of its parts, rendering this book more than the sum of its parts.

This is a defiantly old-school mega-adventure, a mini-setting-sourcebook and enough adventure material to provide enjoyment for quite a while. Finally, if your players think they're hard - back when I ran Ravenloft campaigns, I played these modules with the following stipulations:

-all damage-dealing magic causes madness checks

-max one starting piece of magical equipment

-+ DR 10/special material or DR 20/special material to all supernatural adversaries, with special materials to be determined by research

...and much more. Yes, a lot of PCs died. They still talk about the experience with a gleam in their eyes and when PC upon PC sacrificed himself to buy some time in my modified finale...well, let's just say that this was simply glorious. If you're interested in that, drop me a line.

Back to the review: I have not SPOILER-tagged the module for a reason - this is less about the story, more about the atmosphere. About the feeling of this massive book. About the freedom, the non-linearity, the sense of danger and a world that has turned forward, a feeling that what little civilization is there, it's in danger. This is a document of roleplaying game history, carefully and respectfully refreshed to the PFRPG-rules and one of the books that should grace the shelves of all PFRPG-DMs -beyond being a great old-school module, this constitutes the best iteration of the material so far, both in production values and builds. That being said, Frog God Games has since back in the day raised the bar by quite a bit, so while this module is still great and awesome, it has aged a bit when compared to some of the glorious modules FGG has produced in the meanwhile. And if your group has played the original modules, this may be the better version, but for me, personally, I wouldn't play this massive array again and instead use the new content as supplemental wilderness encounters. What I'm trying to say is - if you already have the originals, this is optional, not mandatory. If you don't have them, though - this is literally roleplaying game history.

My final verdict will still clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - this is a book that every group that liked old-school should have played at least once.

Endzeitgeist out.


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****( )

This expansion for Pact Magic 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, shall we?

Okay, in case you forgot - binder secrets require you to have an occultist level and can be taken in place of regular feats or bonus feats. This pdf provides 3 special types of binder secrets: Aspects, Alterations and Rituals.

Alterations secrets alter the mayor granted ability of a spirit and increase the number of rounds it is expended by 10, 8 if the binder has the rapid recovery feat. Only one aspect can be applied at a given time.

Aspect secrets modify the constellation or monstrous aspects with the secret's aspects. a binder can only benefit from a given aspect once, even if she makes multiple good pacts. She can, however, benefit from multiple different aspects secrets. It should be noted that high-level binders can learn new secrets herein to mitigate the restrictions imposed on these secrets.

Rituals take 10 minutes unless otherwise specified and require the execution of knowledge tasks as well as spirits.

All right, got that? Among the aspects, we receive the option to receive aligned strikes and benefit from the associated protection from... alignment's effects, reduced armor check penalties, healing (thankfully limited to 3+cha-mod times per day to avoid abuse), reroll skills or even gain wings at higher levels! Aforementioned healing can be upgraded by charismatic high-level binder to be usable as a means of raising the dead or to affect an area of targets, btw.

The alteration secrets tend to be more impressive, seeing how they interact with mayor abilities - they including clinging damage for acid and fire-based abilities, the option to exclude a creature type from the effects of mayor granted abilities as well as making mayor granted abilities disruptive. Replacing a mayor granted ability's damage type with elemental damage may be nice, but isn't that interesting to me - more exciting would be the option to delay the onset of a given ability - this can *really* change the dynamics of combat and open up some great tactical avenues - kudos! Electricity or fire damage may be supplemented by a dazzle-effect and yes, the obvious choices à la enlarge etc. are part of the deal as well. Maximizing damage against the favored enemy of a given spirit may be a bit hardcore. Also interesting would be the ability to maintain precarious concentration on an ability before unleashing it upon foes, increasing the save DC. Forcing rerolls is also possible and if you can think of one of the regular metamagical enhancements, it probably has a representation here.

Rituals include some of the stars herein -what about a ritual that allows you to take a creature's soul and put it into a receptacle, forcing it to do your bidding? Yes, this does come with great limits and yes, this is narrative gold for use by both PCs and NPCs. Not all secrets are this cool though - a ritual for a magic circle? Really? Thematically fitting, yeah, but a wasted secret-slot. Some feats granting spell-like abilities to e.g. detect pact spirits or using a constellation's 1st level patron spell 2/day as a spell-like ability just didn't wow me. Wildering in the samurai's class features, granting resolve, is more interesting - especially since the follow-up secrets provide some interesting, varied combo-potential - here, the pdf shines. Scaling summon monster as a spell-like ability didn't wow me either, but I can see the reasoning behind it. More interesting would be the option to prevent physical contact by creatures of the chosen alignment.

Pretty brilliant is the secret that allows you to choose one spirit and enter a trance to temporarily gain access to the ability traded for the vestigial companion of the spirit. Unbarring class features barred by tunneled lore also makes for a nice benefit. Speaking of interesting - temporarily marking foes as favored enemies of ALL of one's spirits also makes for a pretty neat ability - though one, which, in spite of its cap, can be pretty nasty. Remember this max-damage-versus-favored-enemies secret? Have I mentioned that marking an adversary doesn't seem to require an action, nor does it allow for a save? Yeah. Ouch. Of course, pretty regular benefits like +3/day minor granted abilities can be found herein as well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming's 2-column full-color standard and can be considered pretty printer-friendly. The pdf has nigh no artwork, but needs none at this length. The pdf comes excessively bookmarked.

Alexander Augunas is pretty much Mr. Pact Magic for PFRPG and, much like Dreamscarred Press' take on psionics, he is right as the pulse of his subsystem of magic. That being said, I do consider this pdf slightly less than it could have been. The secret-types help provide distinct benefits and the complexity of the wording required for them goes beyond what one would usually have to execute with feats and similar pieces of crunch. It is my pleasure to report that the wording of these abilities flows well - a requirement for this complexity. For yes, this took a lot more time than one would assume to reviews, mainly due to the significant amount of looking up of abilities and their finer interactions I needed to do.

That, and occultists have quite a few abilities with a cooldown - tweaking these can have pretty massive repercussions. Balancing especially the metamagic-like secrets is pretty hardcore and yes, this pdf does have some "OMG, how great is that?"-feats that can truly change the flow of battle. That being said, the pdf also sports a couple of feats I'd consider filler and the favored enemy + max damage combination is pretty nasty and could use some nerfing - guaranteed max damage, even with a 10-round cooldown just doesn't gel with me and enforces an unnecessary frontloadedness of the binder. One final note - this pdf takes the binder and makes the class, balance-wise, more like a caster. Which isn't bad, but it's a change of focus you should be aware of in case you're playing a low power/magic campaign. So how to rate this? Well, i consider this pdf to be a good addition to the Pact Magic-rules, but not one I can unanimously recommend. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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***( )( )

This pdf clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page SRD, 1 page introduction on the first page, leaving us with two pages for the relic, so let's take a look!

So what are relics? well, relics were introduced in the Genius Guides to Relics of the Godlings I + II and they essentially are Rogue Genius Games' take on magic items that increase in power with your character - and if you know anything about my stance on that topic, then you won't be surprised by me really liking this take. Now unlike Rite Publishing's Legacy Items and Purple Duck Games' Legendary Items, most Relics are inspired by real life mythology, for better or for worse, and increase in power every level.

Speaking of real life mythology - we begin with a concise explanation of what this item actually is, which should prove enlightening to those not as thoroughly versed in the intricacies of the Arthurian myth and its variations. Much like its predecessor item, the blade has, if required, a CL equal to the blade's wielder's character level. At 1st level, Caladbolg is considered magical for purposes of overcoming DR and grants scaling bonuses to diplomacy alongside scaling electricity resistance. The blade also becomes a+3 shocking burst elven curved blade and grants bonuses to Dex and Cha that scale up to +6 at 20th level. Finally, the blade allows you to call forth lightning storms a limited amount of times per day.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches, though e.g. once the weapon special abilities have not been properly italicized. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard with a neat full-color artwork of the relic. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Author Andrew Marlowe provides a version of Caldbolg that is, quite frankly, as much loathe as I am to say it, nothing special. Standard enchantment progression, a spell-in-a-can thrown in and some attribute bonuses may make for a suitable, powerful weapon, yes. But nothing I couldn't have made myself and imho not worthy of the cool legend. There's nothing wrong here, but tomorrow, I'll probably have forgotten this relic. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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