Into the Breach: The Kineticist (PFRPG) PDF

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Into the Breach is a series of crunch-focused books intended to expand the options available to the Occult Classes (the kineticist, medium, mesmerist, occultist, psychic, and spiritualist).

For our 10th installment, we call upon primal elements both familiar and strange, and will them to our purpose with the kineticist. With three new archetypes, two new prestige classes, five new elements, and a host of kinticist focused items both mystic and mundane you are sure to find new ways to shape you chosen element, as it resides all around, awaiting your call.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

***( )( )

This installment of the „Into the Breach“-series clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a prioritized review by my patreons.

All right, as always, we begin with new archetypes, the first of which would be the aetheric marksman, who is locked into aether a first level and gains proficiency with longbow and shortbow. The signature ability of the archetype allows for the use of an arrow as part of a kinetic blast, to be more precise, a modified version of telekinetic blast, which has a base damage of 1d8 +1 + Constitution modifier, which increases by 1d8+1 at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, with a range increment of 60 ft., a critical range of 20 and a critical multiplier of x3. Weapon Focus (kinetic blast) and Deadly Aim may be applied to such blasts, but thankfully, multi-attack feats à la Multishot may not be. The modified blast applies the bonuses of enchanted ammunition, if applicable, as are special materials etc. While the available infusions to modify this one are restricted, I am not the biggest fan of the escalation of numbers this entails – it’s not bad, mind you, but as a base modification, I wasn’t blown away. 5th level yields imbuement: As a move action, the character may imbue class level arrows with a variety of ammunition special properties, with 8th level unlocking more. The marksman must accept burn equal to the enhancement value granted and lasts for 1 minute. Only one such property may be granted at a given time. Nice catch: The ammunition does not require a +1 enhancement bonus to qualify for modification. The properties inflict +1 damage per d6 if the property matches the expanded element. Minor complaint: flaming burst reference not properly italicized. This replaces 5th level’s infusion.

At 8th level, we get shrapnel arrow, which is problematic, rules-aesthetics wise: For +1 burn accepted, the arrow can split into lethal shrapnel upon impact, generating a 10-ft.-burst. The primary target gets a Ref-save to halve its damage, which is REALLY weird – that usually is not possible upon being hit – the character has already been hit!! Interaction with evasion et al. becomes really strange. Worse, the targets in the area of the burst take half as much damage and don’t get a save. Yeah. The guy skewered by the arrow could end up sans damage, while everything around him dies. Makes no sense. The way the ability is phrased also makes me think that this was supposed to inflict additional damage or something, but I’m not sure. The ability deviates from how such mechanics are used in PFRPG, and not in a good way. The no-save damage must die. On the plus-side, targeting 5-foot-squares and ammo interaction are noted. This replaces 8th level’s utility wild talent. At 13th level, the marksman may accept +2 burn to inflict additional bleed damage to the primary target, with bleed equal to the number of damage dice of the telekinetic blast, a Fort-save to negate. After that, a second target in the same line of effect, within 30 ft. of the first target, compares AC to the attack’s attack bonus: On a hit, the target takes the telekinetic blast’s damage -2d8, but is not subject to bleed. This replaces 13th level’s infusion.

The 16th level ability, burrowing arrow, allows for the acceptance of +2 points of burn. On a failed Ref-save (weird, why not Fort?), the arrow embeds itself in the target, inflicting minimum blast damage on a subsequent round until it is removed via a successful save or Heal check. This replaces 16th level’s utility wild talent and needs some nerfing/retooling: For a lot of characters and monsters, being hit with a single such arrow may well be a death a sentence.

On a nitpicky level regarding the rules-integrity, e.g. burrowing arrow does not, in contrast to e.g. piercing arrow, note that it can be used as part of another action. I get how this is supposed to work, but as a whole, I wasn’t too excited by the archetype.

The second archetype herein would be the hellfire kineticist, who replaces Knowledge (nature) with Knowledge (religion). The hellfire kineticist is locked into fire as primary element. “All infusions granted by the archetype deal half fire damage and half unholy damage.” *sigh* There is no such thing as unholy damage in Pathfinder.

Instead of 1st level’s infusion, we get the ability to sicken a target within 30 ft. that takes full damage from the blast, for Con mod rounds, with a Fort-save to negate.. On a critical hit, we’re looking at nausea instead. Minor complaint here: This behaves like an infusion, but isn’t formatted like one. Instead of the elemental defense and the utility wild talents at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, we get the Devil Inside ability at 2nd level. The character is treated as an evil outsider for the purpose of spells and effects and gains +2 bonus to saves versus fire and poison; at 6th level, this upgrades to +4 and fire resistance 5; 12th level upgrades this to +6 and fire resistance 10, while 18th level provides immunity to both. 4th level provides sin sense, which can wreck pretty much a ton of plots: While within 30 ft., the character becomes automatically aware of sinful thoughts targets hold at the moment or committed within 1 hour. Direct contact yields detect thoughts, as though the character had concentrated for 3 rounds. This can wreck a lot on in-game assumptions: If e.g. Cheliax had access to such a potent ability, which can’t be prevented RAW, we’d have a perfect, Orwellian survival state, thoughtcrimes etc..Even if sinful acts are up to GM-interpretation, this ability needs some nerfing/further clarification. This replaces 4th level’s utility wild talent.

8th level yields an imp familiar at full class level instead of the utility wild talent. At 11th level, instead of the infusion, we get Condemnation, which is treated as a 5th level substance infusion that costs 3 points of burn to use: If the character calls out a target’s sins, as detected via detect sins, the target takes double elemental overflow’s damage. I am not 100% positive whether the ability is supposed to require a hit of the target with a blast or not – the infusion would suggest as much, but verbiage makes it seem like there is no attack roll required. The capstone replacing omnikinesis would yield outsider apotheosis as well as 2/day plane shift, but only to Hell and back.

The third archetype would be the wind whistler, who replaces Intimidate with Perform (wind) and is locked into air as primary element. Attacking with air blasts does not add Constitution modifier to damage and instead, the character makes a Perform (wind) check that adds +1 to damage for every “5 points rolled on the skill check”, which isn’t smooth as far as wording is concerned. Okay, Adding skills to atk or damage is usually a HUGE issue: There is no component of the game that is this easy to game. That being said, the significant exchange rate keeps this slightly in check, though, on average, this does represent a damage upgrade in the hands of even a moderately capable player, so balance-conscious GMs may want to eliminate this part of the ability. As a suggestion to retain the flavor of this modification: Make the bonus thus granted to damage cap based on a formula that is based on class level.

Instead of all infusions, the character gains bardic performance, beginning play with countersong and inspire courage, using kineticist levels as bard levels.. Higher levels net dirge of doom, inspire greatness, soothing performance, frightening tune and inspire heroics, but none of the other bardic performances. Performance upgrades of bardic performances work as though the character was a bard. In addition to these, 3rd level yields tune twister, which allows the character to accept 1 burn when initiating the performance. One ally that can see and hear the wind whistler gains enveloping wind’s benefits as well as sonic resistance 1 per 5 points of the Perform check’s result. Contagious tune is gained at 6th level and allows for a multi-target buff versus mind-affecting effects, but in an interesting twist, also penalizes atk and concentration slightly. Metakinesis works differently: 5th level lets the wind whistler accept 1 point of burn to alter kinetic blasts as though affected by Disruptive Spell. Problem: The Feat’s DCs are partially contingent on spell level and the ability fails to specify how the blast is treated for these purposes. 9th level allows for the addition of Thundering Spell for the cost of 2 burn.

At 5th level, the wind whistler may accept 1 point of burn to increase the bard levels for the purpose of determining bardic performances as +4 levels higher for 3 rounds; at 8th level, 2 burn may be accepted for +6 levels for 2 rounds instead. Not a fan here; 11th level allows for the acceptance of 3 burn to add Lingering Performance; if the character has the feat, its benefits are extended to 4 rounds instead – nice. This replaces infusion specialization.

At 7th level, the character is locked into expanding air, but does not gain the usual benefits, instead gaining a Performance (wind) based bardic masterpiece sans spell/feat-prerequisites, with 12th and 17th level allowing for the replacement of the masterpiece. At 16th level, the character may accept 2 points of burn to double the skill-check governed bonus damage – as noted before, the base ability is problematic and this exacerbates the issue. The capstone allows for the expenditure of 5 rounds of bardic performance to create a 10-ft.-tall cyclone, a summoned large air elemental that acts as a shadowbard. Interesting final ability.

We also receive two new 5-level prestige classes, the first of which would be the aetheric assailant, who gets d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level (I really wished non-Int-based classes would just get more; 2+Int skills, when Int is likely to be 0 or 1, just isn’t fun for anyone), full BAB-progression and medium Fort-and Ref-save progression. Requirement-wise, we need a couple of hit-hard feats (like Cleave), BAB +5 and Elemental Focus (aether) as well as kinetic blade.

The PrC begins play with Clarity, which allows for the use of kinetic blast while under the effects of rage – which is a bit weird, considering that barbarian levels etc. are not necessarily required. Kinetic wielding lets you use kinetic blade in conjunction with weapons for which you have the Weapon Focus feat, adding weapon damage, enhancement bonuses etc. to the kinetic blade’s damage dealt, but makes any such attack otherwise targeting touch AC instead target regular AC. Here’s the issue: This may be used in conjunction with full attacks, but requires the acceptance of 1 point of burn per iterative attack, which also stacks: The third attack would hence cost 2 points. OUCH. I get the reason for this, but considering the limited usefulness of iterative attacks in the first place, rewarding a replacement of them may have constituted a more elegant trick. The PrC is intended to have its levels be treated as full kineticist levels, as well as class levels for martial classes. Here’s a nitpick: “martial classes” is not official rules-language; while often used as a catch-all term across boards, as far as rules-text is concerned, we really need that spelled out. Do inquisitors qualify? Bloodragers? Soulknives? You get the problem.

2nd level nets aether shrouded shield, which lets you use blasts to temporarily infuse resistances or miss chances into a wielded shield, which scale based on damage dice. This buff lasts 1 round; for 1 accepted burn, instead for Con-mod rounds. I like the idea, but the implementation is pretty weak. Also: “Lightning” is the damage type in 5e; it’s “electricity” in PFRPG. This level also allows for Kinetic Blade/cleave synergy, which later may be used with kinetic whip, though once more, +1 burn per target beyond first will make you hit the hard burn cap really fast.

At 3rd level, the kinetic wielding of weaponry allows for the 30-ft. at-range kinetic blast/weapon-combo attack, but once more costs 1 point of burn per round in which it’s maintained – per weapon, so while you may TWF this, it becomes pretty costly fast and, weirdly, there is not much reason to do so: You can’t deal blast damage when controlling more than one weapon thus. Additionally, reach and the like is somewhat opaque for this ability. At 4th level, the character can infuse the armor with aether blasts, self-granting DR/magic (lol) based on blast damage. At this level, a lot will have DR and, well, while there is burn-based duration-extension, I’m not blown away here. The 5th level ability increases the cap of burn acceptable per round by 1 and yields a free trip after crits with the telekinetically-wielded weaponry. Weird. The PrC,a s a whole, feels unfocused and doesn’t really have anything that makes me excited about it; the uses of burn are not particularly exciting.

The second PrC, the Cerulean Star Disciple must be non-evil, has d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ½ BAb-progression and medium Fort- and Ref-save progression. The prerequisites are easy to meet and have a story-requirement, basically requiring that the target suffered from a nasty undead-effect à la mummy rot, level drain, etc. – I really like such instances. The PrC is obviously tied in to some extent, flavor-wise, with Desna (with serial numbers filed off), gaining starknife-proficiency. The PrC gains the cerulean fire blast, which acts as blue flame blast, but inflicts +1 damage to undead per die and such targets take a -2 penalty to atk and saves for class level rounds on a failed save. Additionally, the PrC gains kinetic healer as a utility wild talent sans requiring aether or water as elemental focus. PrC levels stack with kineticist levels for the purpose of maximum burn per round and infusion + wild talent qualification. 2nd level nets cleansing flames, which allows the character to increase burn cost of the kinetic healer variant by 1 or 2 to remove an array of negative conditions. 3rd level nets ½ holy damage (which does not exist in PFRPG) with cerulean fire blasts. Additionally, targets may be set ablaze, with the continuous damage being holy (again, does not exist). At 5th level, the damage is wholly transformed to the make-belief holy type and is treated as undead bane.

3rd level allows for the line, cone or sphere shaping of cerulean fire, all at the cost of 1 burn per 10 ft. the blast shape takes up, which is pretty restrictive. Thankfully, Ref applies for half damage for such AoE-blasts. 4th level nets a cerulean fire shield variant for 1 point of burn, lasting Con-mod rounds. At 5th level, the PrC also reduces burn cost of cerulean fire-based blasts by 1 to a minimum of 0 and gains +4 to saves versus undead special abilities. (Should be codified.) The character can regain burn when destroying undead, thankfully with a daily cap that prevents abuse.

All righty, after these, we get an array of new elements. All of the elements get their own saturation (Nice!). Since this review is already pretty long, I will not go through each and every wild talent o infusion. The first would be bone, which is different than what I expected: We get dual-physical damage type blasts and the basic tricks allow for the upgrade of unarmed attacks, for example. The tricks this provides often duplicate spells, e.g. ice spears, with damage changed to negative energy. While the majority of tricks here did not blow me away, I enjoyed the corpse explosion and the means to temporarily grant vulnerability to bludgeoning damage or eliminate a target’s skeletal defenses. Not a bad element, but one that could imho have used a couple more tricks that no other element can pull off.

Part II of my review can be found here!


N.'s Kinetic Roundup

****( )

Okay, while I could preface this review a lot, just gonna jump right in.

[Aetheric Marksman]
Aetheric archery is odd in that it doesn't really feel like it changes things a lot, and as imbuement doesn't change the fact that magical qualities aren't applied with blasts, it doesn't feel like there's a lot of synergy there. Shrapnel arrow's fine, it's fun, but I feel like it should replace an infusion rather than a utility wild talent. I do like piercing arrow though, it's fun and thematic. Burrowing arrow feels open to abuse, but it shouldn't be that bad.

[Hellfire Kineticist]
Splitting the damage type may seem good, but as fire's still the most resisted element, this basically means only the unholy (untyped) damage will apply, which only barely helps fire's issue of fire resistance. With brimstone blast, I fear eventually it'll get outpaced and not really relevant anymore. Devil inside is an awesome way to take things, but I don't think it's worth replacing elemental defense, not to mention the various utility wild talents it replaces; it's bad enough where it taints the entire archetype. Sin sense is another fun ability, but it also is overcosted sadly. I do like getting the imp familiar though, and the last few abilities are flavorful but ultimately far too weak to consider this archetype viable.

[Wind Whistler]
While I like performance blast in concept, tying damage to a skill check is a dangerous road, as skill checks are infamously easy to game. The loss of infusions for bardic performance is fair, even if it makes this archetype more mundane in combat; it also lacks text to prevent one from gaining infusions from the extra wild talent feat. The rest of the archetype is interesting enough, making it my favorite of this book's archetypes.

[Aetheric Assailant]
While full BAB is interesting, let's just kill 2 + int skill points per level, please? Clarity is an odd ability, as it assumes rage while nothing else in the archetype's prerequisites involves rage (also the prereqs are WAY too restrictive; medium armor, cleave, and power attack?). Kinetic wielding is almost certainly going to put you at burn cap way too quickly to be of much use, which is a shame. Also 'martial class' isn't a recognized term, and is far too vague. If this was to be intended, more tight wording would be needed.

Aetheric shrouded shield last WAY too little to be of much use, especially for needing burn and a standard action to activate (I'm assuming it's a standard action, it's not really clear). Kinetic cleave is meh, but greater kinetic wielding is actually quite interesting and a cool use of aether. Aether reinforcement is another ability that's just too weak though, same with kinetic champion, making this a mixed bag of a prestige class.

[Cerulean Star Disciple]
So the prereqs are easy enough and it has 4 skill points a level, so nice. I do like cerulean fire, nice and thematic, and healing warmth is okay. It has normal kineticist progression and while holy pyre has the same issues as hellfire, the holy fire actually does help this out a bit. Inspired shaping helps with versatility, but heavenly radiance doesn't last nearly long enough to validate its burn cost. Cerulean blaze is awesome though, making your blasts all holy, and luminous soul only makes it better. Definitely a stand out prestige class, and worth the wait to get into (although with other 3p you can enter sooner).

Before I go into elements, props for giving each a saturation, even if it is small. What I don't like is how abilities are listed alphabetically instead of by level, it makes it harder to get a feel for the element. Not even separating out the basic blasts and such really make finding things far more of a chore than they should be.

In addition, I really wish these new elements had more talents; the amount of talents they have makes them feel far too similar to release kineticist levels of versatility, which is not good.

[Bone]
While having a very 'earth' vibe about it, the amount of 'this is a spell' infusions turns me off quite a bit. It has sort of a necromancy vibe too, but it doesn't go all in on it, which I'd appreciate here. I understand if they didn't want to step on void's toes, but I feel like more body manipulation could have been included.

[Chaos]
Wow, chaos blast is a lot of words to make for a more polar damage calc, also not in love with it being typeless damage with a free bane against lawful subtype creatures. I feel dumb saying it like this, but chaos feels really unfocused; there's not enough of a theme to grasp hold of here, and you could throw a lot of talents into here without any issues. I'm not a fan of all the randomization in the element, as well as its lack of thematic cohesion.

[Crystal]
Crystal is...earth by another name. Like there's some fun stuff in here, but really nothing that validates making it a unique element. My opinion, make everything here earth, absorb it into the element, and make it a fun addition to one of the most fun elements anyways. It's not a bad element and the talents are fun, but it just doesn't need to exist.

[Dreams]
A save for the blast to do any real damage is rough, but this is probably my favorite of the elements presented. I can't really say it makes for an amazing primary element due to its effects being more specialized, but I can say that it'd make for a really cool secondary element for that reason.

[Time]
And here's where I do have experience...also supernatural aging is not a damage type. Why is there an aging infusion while the basic blast also ages, this seems redundant. Also holy god, permanent aging at 5th level? This is insanely powerful, super banned forever. Stop time is a better time stop...think about that. Time is not a good element, and would easily be removed from my tables.

[Final Thoughts]
I think there's a lot of promise here, and the kineticist is a hard class to design around, making the efforts here all the more impressive. Aside from certain things like time, the material here could all be used in a standard game, but some of it is just weak to the point where I don't see a lot of value in it. I'm going to give this a 3.5, and out of good will, I'll be rounding up.


Inaugural Review

****( )

This product was given by Flying Pincushion games in exchange for this review, but the review will endeavor to be objective and not influenced by that.

Of the 40 pages of this PDF, 35 are gaming content, the other five being the cover, title page, table of contents, OGL, and a full-page Sun Tzu quote. Pretty solid ratio to me, and where there is art that takes up large portions of a page, it is generally good quality art and fits with the content.

Archetypes:
There are three archetypes in this section.
The Aetheric Marksman attempts the difficult task of combining telekinetic blasts with archery. It does a pretty decent job of this, increasing the range (though not as far as the actual range of a bow, at least without the extended range infusion) and increasing the critical multiplier to 3 but not allowing you to use feats that give you more shots with the blast. It doesn't integrate expanded elements very strongly, though; they increase the damage of the elemental and elemental burst properties that the archetype lets you add to the arrow-blasts, but that seems to be about it. Otherwise the abilities are more about using the special attributes of magic bows and arrows and doing things like making an arrow shatter into an AOE from excessive telekinetic force or using telekinesis to shoot through one target and into another. You will be using a lot of burn though, since a lot of the tricks require you to accept it and I didn't see anything that lets you gather power with a bow in your hands.

The Hellfire Kineticist will probably see more use by DMs as enemy characters and in evil campaigns than in more traditional parties, but it has a lot of flavorful abilities for that, albeit with a few weird bits. The unique infusions (a sickening brimstone blast and an blast that, if a target has sinned, condemns them to hell while giving benefits to the kineticist if it kills them) don't work with all the things that it seems like they might (again, expanded elements are not that well integrated into this archetype), and the ability that gives them some of the resistances of a devil makes them count as an evil outsider for all spells and effects when they have burn - no note of "in addition to their usual type;" full type changes are usually limited to capstones and this replaces elemental defense at level 2 (they do permanently become a lawful- and evil-subtype outsider at 20, regardless of alignment, so this may be an error). The Imp Familiar is always useful though. It may be possible to play this class as a neutral character, but it would be pretty hard, and they wouldn't be able to use the condemnation ability for sure.

The Wind Whistler is a bard-aerokineticist. Their blasts do added damage based on a perform (wind) check, and I am not sure if they can use masterwork instruments to increase it. They get bardic performances instead of all their infusions, which can be limiting but also useful in a more support role, plus some unique performances. This archetype specifically restricts your first expanded element to "more air" and you don't get composite blasts from it (it's not specified if you get the electric basic blast, though it seems like you don't; I think a sonic blast would be neat to get at some point); instead you get a bardic masterpiece, which you get chances to swap out at higher levels. It doesn't say anything about your second expanded element, so that works as normal presumably? All in all it's a pretty cool idea with a little mechanical oddness, but it should still be able to do a decent amount of damage while supporting the party. I'm not sure why they lose intimidate, though, especially since they still get Dirge of Doom.

Prestige Classes:
There are two prestige classes included in this section. I will be honest: I am not an expert on prestige classes so it isn't easy for me to compare them with other prestige classes strength-wise, but these are unusual for pathfinder prestige classes anyway.

The Aetheric Assailant is a combination martial warrior and telekineticist, a combination that is normally difficult to pull off effectvely. It deals with the fact that kineticists lose a lot by multiclassing both by progressing blast damage and effective kineticist level and also by being only five levels long. It has full base attack bonus and good fort and ref saves, and requires you to have aether as your elemental focus, 2d6 of elemental blast (so level 3 kineticist, normally), and the Kinetic Blade infusion, plus medium armor proficiency and some specific combat feats to enter. You actually CAN enter the class as a single-class kineticist, but it will be much later and you won't get as much benefit. They gain abilities to let them use kinetic abilities while in a barbarian rage, should you choose that as the martial component, and levels in the prestige class also progress effective level in one martial class that the kineticist already had for meeting prereqisites for feats. The specific mix of martial that they get mostly involves using kinetic blade with actual weapons (without harming the weapon), using cleave and great cleave with kinetic blade, and swinging the kinetic blade weapon with threads of aether to get longer range with such attacks. They also gain the ability to channel blasts into armor and shields that they wear or wield, giving them interesting defensive abilities. I think this class still can't gather power with a weapon or shield in hand though, so you will be taking burn to use its abilities to the fullest extent. The capstone (which you can be getting potentially around level 12) lets you take more burn per turn, but you still have a total amount you can take, and every point you take is nonlethal damage that puts you closer to unconsciousness. Overall, this archetype does some cool things, but there are some things it doesn't do that I feel would make it work a lot better.

The Cerulean Star Disciple is the complete opposite kind of prestige class. It's not a way to combine two classes, it's a specific alternate version of the base class's power tied to a specific force, that seems like it could be fun to expand in a campaign setting. In this case, the cerulean fire is the light of blue stars, which is envisioned here as particularly anathema to undead. It has the story-based entry requirement of having been affected by the blight of the undead, in such forms as level or ability drain or mummy rot, as well as already being a pretty accomplished pyrokineticist (it requires the Blue Flame Blast, as well as weapon focus with kinetic blast, so you normally need seven levels of kineticist to qualify). This is also a five-level prestige class, though, and it progresses BAB and Saves at the same rate as a kineticist, and progresses most aspects of the class aside from actually getting new infusions and abilities, so it doesn't detract much from the kineticist abilities. The abilities it grants are as you'd expect from the flavor: Its Blue (now Cerulean) Flame blasts do extra damage to undead and debuff them unless they make a save, then becomes half holy damage like Flame Strike, and as a capstone, entirely holy damage, with increasing additional effects when used on its intended targets and the ability to use the blast in different shapes. They also can use their cerulean fire to heal their allies and cure them of harmful conditions, surround themselves with a concealing cloak of flames that hurts those that attack them, and eventually gains the ability to use less burn to use the blue fire blast that most of its abilities to depend on, bonuses on saves against the abilities of undead, and the ability to actually reduce their burn (though not below 1) when they destroy an undead with their cerulean fire blast a few times per day. This is a very flavor-oriented class that is good for characters specifically devoted to destroying undead, and the idea of blue star fire being anti-undead power and people being devoted to that could be a fun thing to explore in a game world.

New Elements:
This section includes five new kineticist elements, all of which come with a pretty full selection of utility and infusion talents, plus defensive and basic talents and composite blasts, plus a section on elemental saturation. The biggest issue I have with this section is actually that unfortunately they don't necessarily work so well with the archetypes and prestige classes in the previous sections. There are magical and mundane items that support them some, though, and notes for how they work with the Spark of Life and Draining Infusion talents from the base class.

The Bone element is focused on the dead and undead, giving you the ability to attack and defend with bones, including making your fists bony enough to attack with. Most of the other talents involve making weapons out of bone or summoning the bones of the dead to attack or trap opponents. It has a composite blast with the negative energy blast of the void element, and another wild talent does negative energy damage. This element does not actually require a character to be evil or necessarily lead them that way, but it certainly fits in better with a certain kind of crowd.

The chaos element gives the kineticist a variety of abilities based on changing themselves, or the targets of their blasts. They can change their appearances in different ways, from minor alterations for disguises to enough to grow fins and gills or completely transform into a different race or an animal. They can also alter the results of die rolls, suddenly be somewhere other than they seemed, or defy the laws of physics to walk on walls, fly, or weaken or reshape matter. Their composite blasts add a chaotic boost to another elemental blast, or if they specialize in chaos or also use fire, a powerful blast with far more erratic damage than usual (3d6 becoming 1d20 and 2d6 becoming 1d12 when rolling damage).

The Crystal element has a lot in common with the Earth element thematically, but does its best to incorporate different kinds of abilities. Its blasts do more than one type of physical damage at a time, and its infusions and utility talents focus on the traits of crystals being sharp and reflective. Its defense talent is particularly powerful, giving a bonus to AC and Touch AC, but can only be used when touching earth or stone, but its Basic Krýskinesis is limited to making weapons or armor made of fragile crystal or glass as sturdy as their metal equivalents (A GM might allow it to be used on other things made of those materials, since it's still a fairly limited ability). Honestly, while the talents for this element are cool and useful, crystal doesn't stand on its own as an element as well as the others; most of the things here would work as just normal earth-element talents.

The Dream element, appropriately, is based largely on sleep and things that are partly or wholly in the mind. Its blasts mimics other elemental blasts, a la shadow evocation, and its infusions mostly add further mental effects to the blast, though things uneffected by mind-affecting effects are much less affected by any of the blasts. The defense is particularly interesting; in additional to protecting from mental effects, it also allows you to act while affected by a sleep effect, though sluggishly. Otherwise, the abilities mostly deal with communicating with sleepers or contacting the dimension of dreams. This is a very flavorful element that, while its utility abilities are somewhat limited, has a lot of combat versatility, as long as you're OK with the blasts being reduceable on a save.

Time can a tricky element to visualize or use in combat, but there is a Dimension of Time in Pathfinder, so kineticists being able to use its power makes sense. Here, its powers are mostly either based on manipulating aging or gaining benefits from insight into the future in various forms. Its physical blast, is unusual, mechanically taking the form of the quick draw feat plus something like the telekinetic blast, to depict slowing down time as you grab and throw objects. There are also infusions and talents to send yourself or opponents into the future, and a few talents that actually have an unlimited duration but require you to maintain a point of unhealable burn per instance as long as they are in effect, which is a cool mechanic for, basically, spending constant effort to hold things in place in time one way or another. Time as an element adds several useful options but is probably better mixed with other elements than taken all the way through.

New Wild Talents and New Feats:
These two sections are pretty short, including three new universal wild talents and seven new feats. The options presented here are all great ideas that add abilities or options to the class that make a lot of sense and fit very well flavorwise, such as transforming into an elemental or unleashing an aura of elemental energy or matter, and being able to charge with a kinetic blade, craft items based on your element, use your blast nonlethally, or learn to communicate better with other creatures attuned to your element. The only real downside is that some of these options are so fitting and obvious that they seem less creative. Still, having them in print is helpful.

New Magic Items:
There are a couple magic weapons here designed to work with kineticists' abilities, which is nice, since the class seems to generally limit fighting without empty hands, but the thing that stands out to me are two consumable items that mitigate or recover burn. Both are limited, but considering that it's something that official materials pretty strictly avoid, it's worthy of note. There are also two items that give enhancement bonuses on kinetic blasts, with different limitations, but neither one of them has scaling versions with higher bonuses, so I'm not sure how worthwhile they are. One of them, interestingly, also works on spells or spell-like abilities that deal elemental damage, but only if the wearer has psychic abilities.

New Mundane Items:
This section is a little odd. It consists of twelve different items, all costing 300 gold, which are, basically, items aligned with each of the different kineticist elements (including the new ones from this product) which, when held by a kineticist of the appropriate element, gives insight into two skills and a situational defensive bonus, either on saves against a pretty specifc thing or to CMD against a certain maneuver or AC in very specific situations. The idea is pretty flavorful and they could be fun things to find in treasure or rewards or enemy gear, but I don't see many people going out of their way to try to buy them.

Overall Impressions:
This is a solid product for its price for people who like the Kineticist class but want to expand it beyond the classical elements and/or its normal way of doing battle. It's not going to completely redefine the game and there are a few bits of mechanical weirdness, but it could be good for enriching an original campaign setting or adding a rare phenomenon to Golarion or another existing setting.


Thematic & Fluffy, but a few Mechanical Issues

****( )

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this PDF in exchange for this review, but I have striven to be as objective as possible.

What You Get
The PDF offers 3 archetypes, 2 prestige classes, five new "elements", 3 Wild Talents, 7 feats, and over a dozen items (magical and mundane). It also includes notes on how these elements (plus Wood and Void) interact with abilities like Spark of Life and Draining Infusion. All in all, I think that's a good deal for $6.

Themes Are Excellent
The thematic flavor is excellent here, from the Hellfire Kineticist channeling infernal blasts and gaining a devilish cast as she levels to the musically-oriented Wind Whistler. The Cerulean Fire prestige class lets you channel the holy fire of a blue star, with bonus abilities against undead. The Osteokineticist, though, is my favorite goody. I'll definitely be running some bone-shapers in my Garund jungle campaign. The bowslinging Aetheric Archer archetype runs a close second though!

Some Mechanical Hiccups
A few of the abilities don't seem to have been fully fleshed out and I foresee a lot of rule-applicability questions if you run these at your table. Notably, the Hellfire Kineticist's "Sin Sense" ability as written (no save for automatically learning the specifics of target's evil/sinful thoughts within the last hour, 30ft range) would be either completely irrelevant ("uh, that cultist has been daydreaming about murder, I guess?") or an anticlimactic for many intrigue/mystery adventures ("The vizier is the traitor! His thoughts give him away!")

Another example: the Osteokineticist is a beautifully flavorful class, but its Bone Bands ability makes no mention of Armor Check penalties, speed, so a DM ruling would be required on all of that (presumably none apply, per Barkskin or similar effects, but this isn't stated). Initially, my first impression was that the all of the new elements' abilities are way undercosted in Burn, but on reflection the Kineticist is a slightly underpowered class, so I think the Burn cost is only modestly too low.

Some Cool Options
All in all, this booklet has some neat options and great concepts, but GMs and players alike should be prepared for a lot of discussions about how the abilities apply and interact, and not just in weird corner cases.


Lets get started then shall we…

****( )

To be fair to all who read this I want to disclose that Flying Pincushion Games gave me my copy of “Into the Breach: The Kineticist” in exchange for this review. They requested I do not let this fact colour my view of the work and I intend to be as objective in my review as I can.

Conclusion I really like this PDF. The quality of the crunch and the fluff is suburb. This book adds a bunch of really cool things you could never do before, and they are portrayed evocatively. The mechanics all seem to be well thought out and balanced. Honestly, if you find the current state of the kineticist to be slightly lacking, this book is pretty much a must. I would consider the content here to be on a par with the much acclaimed Kinetecists of Porphyra series.

The only things that I find lacking is some of the art work, some of the more niche rules interactions not being spelled out, and a bit of a personal dislike of the Hellfire Kineteicist’s portrayal.

4/5

The really long detail

The pdf clocks in at 40 pages, the content starts on page 5 and ends on page 39. For those like me who like to look at these things it sits at 35 pages of content, at 6$ you are getting a page for 0.1714..$. Not important to a lot of you but I like to look at price per page. This comes in pretty nicely on this front to be honest. It isn’t a paizo hardcover by any means (Pathfinder Cor rulebook is 0.0173..$ per page) but sits very comfortably in the realm of smaller pdf’s and third party products. Now onto the actual content of the PDF.

The table of contents is well laid out and tells us what to expect in the rest of the book and I will be trying to structure the rest of my review according to the table we are given:

About into the Breach
New Archetypes
New Prestige Classes
New Elements
New Wild Talents
New Feats
New Magic Items
New Mundane Items

About into the Breach
A typical about section, tells us exactly what the book is here to do, and what the entire series of “Into the Breach” is about.

New Archetypes
Aetheric Marksman is the first archetype and is a properly awesome idea. It adds a bunch of neat tricks to aether as an element specifically when using arrows in conjunction with her blast. The mechanics are very fun, and seem well balanced. A few questions remain unanswered with regards to how burn from some of the specific abilities interact with gather power, how one of the abilities interact with the snake infusion (Piercing arrow) and there should probably be an action type specified for removing an arrow from her Burrowing Arrow ability.

A very cool idea. I would also almost like to suggest that the Aetheric Marksman get to pick any ammunition to use to gain bonuses. If you want to play a Steel Pusher from the Mistborn being able to pick coins with this class gives you exactly what you want.

Hellfire Kineticist is the second archetype. The Hellfire Kineticist is called out as being an archetype specifically for Tiefling’s with a devilish bloodline.

The archetype has some very cool abilities and reminds me a bit of ghost rider in some cases and just a normal evil at others. I want to say that the crunch here is absolutely amazing, and the fluff is very interesting. Overall a really cool class again. A great archetype for those characters who you want to have fight against their evil lineage to do good, and also helps remove one of the biggest issues with sticking to a single element (energy resistances).

Wind Whistler is the final archetype.

This. Is. Sheer. Awesome. If you have ever wanted to play a buffer, but also a kineticist, this right here is what you want. It has some seriously cool fluff and the mechanics back it up just as well. I am a bit dubious about tying some bonus damage into a skill check, but it adds a very interesting element to the class, and helps you lower the priority of constitution a bit if you want to. However, beware that though con is taken away from damage, it is not taken away from maximum burn. It would be worth saying whether or not her saves from bardic performance are based off of her constitution or charisma, but as it says “exactly as the bard class ability” it is probably charisma.

This may well be my favourite of the three archetypes, with the other two very close behind. There are a few question left unanswered here but overall all of the archetypes are awesome.

New Prestige Classes
Here we are given two 5 level prestige classes, one which expands the Kineticists options with regards melee combat, allowing her to wield weapons with strands of aether and imbue her shield and armor with her blasts to increase her defences. I really like the idea behind the Aetheric Assailant and one of my favourite things it does is integrate cleave in a balanced way. It also keeps progressing your blasts!

Cerulean Star Disciple is an anti-undead kineticist. This PrC also increases your blast progression and the like which is welcome. This to me is what you would get if you crossed a cleric with a kineticist and turned the dial to 11. This PrC adds a bunch of support and some cool tricks to an element that can be missing that.

New Elements
The new elements introduced are both awesome and very flavourful. The best thing for me is the sheer versatility and the amount of content there is on all of these elements. It really is impressive.

There is also a page on how different existing infusions effect these elements, and suggestions on how some existing elements combine with the draining infusion.

New Wild Talents
A short and sweet section that adds some new and very cool utility abilities. One of these is something I am sure that everyone has wanted to do and been sad they have been unable to.

New Feats
Much like the new wild talent section. Some of these might be a bit costly for feats, but most are very cool and flavourful. One gives you an elements language if you have overflow active, and give you a circumstance bonus on charisma based checks with native speakers.

New Magic Items
The new whistling arrow introduced in this section couples well with the first archetype introduced in the book. It is a nifty tool. Overall this section actually has a bunch of items you would want to buy on a kineticist to help you spend all that money you don’t have anything to spend on.

New Mundane Items
These all share the same price and offer a slew of neat bonuses to a kineticist of certain elemental affinities. Again, quite cool and very interesting.


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Huzzah!

Same deal as always, free copy of our work for the price of an honest review.

Silver Crusade

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Oh wow, I was wondering when this was coming out.

Shadow Lodge

I adore the kineticist but I'm note sure I could do a good review. Still, nice to see my favorite class getting more and more love!


I suppose I could give a shot at a review, what is the timetable you expect?


Hey N. Jolly,

Into the Breach: The Kineticist is out right now, available on Drivethru RPG and of course here on the happiest site on earth! (coming soon to D20)

Of course, you are welcome to a reviewer copy sir, I was rather hoping you would jump in on this one, being the kineticist guru round these parts. (gotta be honest, this was a tough project, it really really was)

@ The Golux, timetable, generally review done within one month is pretty normal, though we don't set reviewer deadlines, but as soon as one can manage is always appreciated (reviews are rather important). If you wanna jump in on the review train, just let PM me your email address that you would like the PDF download email delivered to (will be via Drivethru RPG site)


::casts shamless bump spell::

What it's my signature spell?!

Silver Crusade

You know I'm good to check it out, although preferably if you can get me a copy on drivethru, that'd be better so I can review it more than one place.


Sigh, I'll write a review when my tablet stops eating my review.

So if anyone has any specific questions about content please let me know.


Drivethru I can do, consider that flying through the ether in your general direction now N. Jolly!


::casts shamless bump spell again::

What it's my signature spell?!


Pearl of Power..recast...BAM!!


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Okay I've given up on writing the review where it goes.

Lots of material here.

Three archetypes.

The kinetic answer to the arcane archer for aether. Imbue arrows, enhance arrow damage, shoot through people, and blow people up.

The second is for teiflings out to embrace their heritage. Hellfire, imp familiar, becoming more outsider like.

Lastly, air kineticists who use the wind itself as an instrument for bardic music.

Two new prestige classes.

The first is for fire kineticists who want to burn the undead with holy blue fire.

The second is for all your kinetic Gish needs. Aether users who can enhance their armor, shields, and melee weapons.

Sadly all these options are element specific- 1 air, 2 aether, 2 fire.

Especially disappointing since the next action is five more elements.

Crystal and time don't really need explanations.

Bone is one of my two faves in the book. Very packed with flavor.

Chaos is my other favorite. Chaos in the literal sense as well as transformation. Looks mighty fun.

Dream, obviously, is mental focused, so it looks like it would play quite differently.

New feats and talents as well. Kudos for including element appropriate notes for some universal talents.

Shadow Lodge

Well, I hope I didn't go into too much detail.


Dragonborn3 wrote:
Well, I hope I didn't go into too much detail.

I wouldn't worry, the point is to help other people decide if they want to buy it or not.

I know I would have gone into more detail if I wasn't afraid that the fourth try wouldn't be the charm.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Thanks Dragonborn3 and StSword we appreciate the feedback.

Writing a review means taking the time to read through the material, having an opinion, and the confidence to express that opinion. It is putting yourself out there as much as anyone standing in front fo a group to speak. kudos to you both.


Thanks for the reviews folks, we THRIVE on them, they help us grow as writers and designers, and most importantly, they show us what you folks like and want more off, so KUDOS to both of you!


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You are very welcome.

And thank you for putting out a book that adds fun toys for a class that needs more fun toys.

Serious folks, if you are a kineticist fan I can't imagine not wanting to play with something in this book.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Thanks to J4RH34D for the latest review. Glad to hear we're holding up to high standards set for 3PP Kineticist by Purple Duck Games. We took our time on this one, seems like we're getting it right.


Aye, a big TFPG team thank you to J4RH34D for the in depth and excellent review!


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Well sherbert guys, you are making me blush :P.
You guys have a very cool system at TFPG and I am happy to support you all.


::casts Ffej's shameless bump spell::

What, we do don't do the 1 hour 3PP work day round these parts, no sir...!


I apologize for my slowness in publishing my review, the last few weeks have gone by faster than I expected, but it's up now. I hope it fits expectations and doesn't go into too much detail; this was my first ever RPG Product review so I am open to feedback.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

@The Golux life happens, we understand. Thank you as you took care and put some time into the review and that is clear to see.

We are one of the 3PPs where people often get their first pub credit, or their first editing credit, or in this case a first lead developer credit.

We do the free for a review to get those folk feedback and also to get people a chance to get a reward for writing their first review.

When this makes a profit it's small but it's still the most rewarding "job" we do.

Silver Crusade

Finally finished my review, there's a lot in here that could use some more TLC, but as a whole, it's a decently solid book.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Thanks for the review N. Jolly, I can see the err towards player agenda on most of your review which I appreciate. It's a common argument of design as player agenda and game balance can seem like opposing forces at times. It's a tough class to design into and we all appreciated the challenge.


Aye, the staff appreciates the in depth and critical review N. Jolly, and it was an interesting and tough challenge, not an easy class to work with at all.


Part II of my review:

The second element would be chaos…and, well, it’s chaotic: Immediate action rerolls, but on a second failure, the target is staggered for one round. The blast replaces 3d6s with 1d20, 2d6s with 1d12, making the base damage more swingy. Also: Free bane versus lawful targets. This would be less of an issue, but the blast is untyped, which I d not think is a good call here. (Untyped damage must be handled very carefully…) Problematic would, for example, be a barrier that auto-disintegrates missiles and even thrown weapons. Yeah, that plus +5 thing? It’s gone. No save. WTF. Horrid mutation, a 2 burn level 2 substance infusion is also a really versatile potential save or suck and should probably by at least qualified as a polymorph effect. We also have 0 burn utility subjective gravity for free wall walking etc. Note that this element isn’t necessarily bad, but it feels weird in some of its design decisions, as it’s hard to get either the evil or whimsical chaos angle properly here.

Crystal feels a bit like a brother of bone and earth, allowing for some caltrop-ing, a bit of terrain control and otherwise feeling kinda similar to earth; personally, I probably would have made this an extension of earth, as the light/refraction-angle associated with crystals isn’t really represented here. It’s not a bad element, but it could use a couple of more unique tricks.

Dream is very versatile, allowing you to mimic elemental blasts; however, the blasts are only partially real, meaning that a successful Will-save can greatly decrease their efficiency and the blast is mind-affecting to boot. Speaking with the sleeping, tracking in the realm of dreams and a ton of spell-duplicates can be found here. I like the focus of this one, as a whole, though it does require a bit of flexibility from the GM. I wouldn’t allow it in all campaigns, but if you have a dream-theme, it’s really neat- As a secondary element in particular, this one can be neat. As a whole, in spite of the spell-duplicates, one of my favorites herein.

The final new element would be time, and I’m going to spare you the sordid details, but this one is broken as all hell. It thinks that “supernatural aging” is a damage type (it’s not!) and sports options to advance targets on the age category for 2 blasts. Lol, that is fatal very quickly. We have a per-encounter ability (ironic, considering that encounters have nothing to do with time…and yes, insert my “per-encounter abilities make no sense*-rant right here!) Restore youth allows you to cheat age. WTF. Why are there liches? And Stop Time…is a clear case of “What were they thinking???” – it’s a level 9 utility wild talent, 1 burn…that vastly outclasses frickin’ time stop. Yeah, you heard me. Also: 5th level perma-aging. WTF.

We also get notes on spark of life and draining infusion and use with the new elements. There are 3 new utility wild talents: Kinetic blade/fist charge with a trail of energy, an elemental aura and an elemental body SP duplicator. Bolster Kinetic Defense can be pretty potent in some combos: It makes elemental defense be treated as though you had spent 1 burn on it and may be taken multiple times. Elemental Ambassador is weak-sauce: It nets you a bonus on Cha-based skill checks and an elemental language. Kinetic Crafting allows for minor crafting, but oddly does not cover all elements herein. Kinetic Synergy is a spellcasting/kineticist-combo feat that allows you to accept burn for more spell-damage or DCs. Yeah, not a fan. Spells don’t need more power. Kinetic Understanding allows for the limited use of spell-trigger and spell-completion items. Signature Infusion lets you choose an infusion and reduce burn cost by 1. Again, not 100% happy. Then again, Merciful Blast is glorious and, coincidentally, I wrote an analogue ability half a year ago: It allows the kineticist to blast at a lower power-level and for nonlethal blasts.

We also get 6 new magic items: Athame Ignus is a blade for fire specialists; condensed elemental energy is a category of item that is highly problematic: It’s basically a throwaway item that can take burn for you. While it’s priced pretty highly and grouped by level, it’s still something I would not allow. Then again, if you enjoy all-day casting and have no problem with pearl of power abuse in your game, then this won’t bother you either. Focus gauntlets enhance attacks with blasts. Nexus aloe oil is a burn remover, but repeated use causes the sickened condition – should imho have a caveat that it can’t be applied when the character is sickened already. Third eyes of elemental accuracy are yet another item to enhance the chance to hit. Whistling arrows are adamantine, have a slightly wonky rules-verbiage, and are intended for use with the archetype. The pdf closes with an array of mundane items that represent different stones: The proper kineticist-specialist in possession of such an item gains a minor insight bonus. I liked these.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, there are a couple of issues in the details, but as a whole, this is relatively tight, which is impressive considering the difficulty of the kineticist’s rules-chassis. Layout adheres mostly to a two-column full-color standard, with a couple of pages instead using a 1 –column standard. The pdf sports really nice full-color artworks, which, while public domain, are NOT ones I’ve seen time and again. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Andrew Hoskins, David S. McCrae and Jeff Harris did not have an easy task here: The kineticist is probably one of Paizo’s most difficult classes to design for: It requires serious understanding of both rules-language and math. Considering that, the pdf, for the most part, does a decent job. While there are issues here and there, particularly regarding the value of damage types, a crucial balancing tool for the kineticist, the pdf gets a lot right. But it has a big issue. You see, almost all kineticist-supplements released by 3rd party publishers have been done by N. Jolly and the members of his team KOP. And…well, they are amazing. The Kineticists of Porphyra-series and Legendary Kineticists (can’t say anything about Part II as per the writing of this review) are amazing; in particular, KOP III’s dimensional ripper is just pure amazing. There also is a kind of aesthetic going on here: As a non-vancian class, kineticists shine most when they don’t require spell-references, when they can do unique things.

The kineticist options in this book, while not bad, did simply not blow me away and left me ambivalent; add to that the minor hiccups and the appeal drops. Another problem I see here pertains that a LOT of the small design parts here add to the min-maxing game; we get escalation of numbers in depth, when the kineticist’s main issue is that it needs more versatility. The craftsmanship of this book is, as a whole, pretty solid, but there are relatively few aspects herein that I’d consider to be really neat. The pdf also sports, here and there, aspects that are frankly broken and should be kept out of the hands of min-maxers. As a whole, I am sorry to say this, but I was pretty underwhelmed by this pdf. If you’re a GM who is confident regarding the refining and scavenging of rules, then this may well be worth checking out, but it should receive careful monitoring. My final verdict cannot exceed 2.5 stars, though I will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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Flying Pincushion Games as a whole tries to both help break in new designers and be on the innovative end of design. It is a testament to the difficulty level of Kineticist design that it was the first book I've not done any design work for personally, because it both has a ton of player agenda already and most of the places I thought of to go with it were already out there. I'm still going to give my team Kudos as generally this seems well liked even if not so much by EndZ.

We might make some tweaks down the line.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I for one am going to take all those many points where we feel short, and double down on this book to make it as good as it deserves to be. As always, thanks for the frank and honest review Thilo.

Sovereign Court

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Thanks for the review, Thilo, as always!

And you're right. It's wasn't an easy task. but this was a great learning experience. We'll make some tweaks in the future and get it sparkling. ^.^


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Big believer in the design rule of ABL (always be learning).

Thilo's deep reviews are big part of making that work for me, a light like or dislike (while not a wrong way to review) IMHO does not give the authors nearly as much feedback that can be put into action.

I suspect I would not be at the point I am as a designer without honest and critical reviews. Fluffy feelings are great (I like feeling warm and fuzzy as much as the next designer), but hone your craft to a razor edge alas they do not.

I didn't post in a TFPG product thread as grumpy wizard, shocking I know!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

For what it's worth I still think the world needs to see Stealthephant and Badgerdilles


That goes without saying!

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