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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Star Log.EM-installment clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As has become the tradition with Star Log.EM-supplements, we do get some information on the context of the eponymous bloatbeasts as creatures within the Xa-Osoro system, providing context to these dangerous beings. On a mechanical level, two feats are provided that account for the tactics of these dangerous things: Improved Mobility (which has hefty prerequisites) builds on Shot on the Run or Spring Attack, and allows you to execute two attacks at -4 when using these feats instead of one, but the attacks must be executed against different targets and require minimum movement between attacks. Interesting: Depending on whether you have Shot on the Run, Spring Attack, or both, you are or are not limited to the type of attack executed in conjunction with the feat. Very cool! Springing Bravado, the second feat, builds on Spring Attack and lets you attack foes adjacent with Spring Attack; the movement still provokes AoOs, but the Mobility feat’s AC bonus is boosted, and if the target misses the AoO, it risks becoming flat-footed! This is seriously clever and cool! If you have a skirmishing character, these two feats may warrant getting this pdf for your GM…just sayin’…

Anyhow, as for the bloatbeasts, natives to the noxious fens of Deinzera, there are two builds provided – one for CR 5 and one for CR 10. Both employ the expert array and aberration traits and adjustments have been properly applied. Beyond the default darkvision, these dangerous predators have access to both low-light vision and blindsense 30 ft. As a minor nitpick, blindsense in SFRPG usually specifies in brackets something like (vibrations) or the like. On the plus-side, the flight of the critters is properly noted. Oh, and then there are the attacks. They are sentient, though not smart, and as such, have “only” melee attacks – but what attacks! You see, they use a mechanic called “bloat points” – when they hit you, you become bloated, somewhat Willy Wonka style – the body swells (formula provided) and becomes lighter…and VERY quickly, you become an impotent, essentially helpless ball…and worse, the bloatbeast can easily move such targets around and are masters of reposition…you see, they hunt somewhat akin to horribly twisted dung beetles – they bloat you and then roll you to their lair. This is twisted in all the right ways, and I frickin’ love it! And yes, getting rid of bloat points and their whole mechanics? Precise and well-codified. Did I mention that they essentially have a custom super-bloat crit?

The higher CR build cranks this up a notch, becoming one of the most delightful CR 10 critters I’ve seen for SFRPG so far – an aura of bloating is provided (though it’s, oddly, listed twice)…and yep, these beings start having some serious brutal tricks. Considering how they don’t have ranged attacks, they still make sense at CR 10, but your PCs will be afraid of these beasts…they are hilarious AND super creepy.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting is very good on a formal and rules-language level, and the few hiccups do not impede the integrity of these formidable foes. The layout is presented in full-color, with a nice artwork included, and the pdf does not come with bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ bloatbeasts are inspired critters that hit the sweet spot between WTF and laughter at the table, and abject horror. I love them. Add to that the cool feats that more than make up for the minor nitpicks, and we have a great supplement. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

The second if these small expansion-pdfs for Bloodlines & Black magic clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this installment with a general, and a detailed location, both penned by none other than Brian Suskind – and the first of them is…Vegas, baby! Ruled by Satrine, Vegas is actually considered to be neutral grounds, we learn about The Concierge, who manages the steady flow of supernatural tourists, an ancient man with powers hailing from the Uto-Aztecan people, and we also learn about sites such as the Church of the Holy Coin, and learn about urban “legebd”[sic!]s, that, typo notwithstanding, should provide cool angles. Want it more detailed? Well, location number 2, the Exchange, the arcane market/underground, where Old Wotan may be found, among others – if you’re itching for an American Gods-storyline, there you go. Of course, the Shae, the porcelain-masked enforcers also should make for an interesting angle. Did I mention the eye thieves? Really cool locales, though both left me wanting more.

The next section, penned by Blaine Bass, is something different altogether – we get staggered advancement rules for Bloodlines & Black magic. It represents a more gradual level-up process than regular gaming in O7 – it basically provides a 25-level system, wherein each episode number corresponds to a level; the massive table denotes whether you get universal abilities, class features, skill ranks, etc. – it basically stretches the advancement process and doles out a consistent stream of improvements over the levels. The system per se is solid, but not exactly something I like – I’m more the Dark Souls-school of person – advancement only means something to me and my players when it’s earned by pain and hardship, and consistent rewards, such as in looter shooters and the like, do nothing for me. Similarly, the consistent stream of level-up options presented here doesn’t do anything for me – but that doesn’t make it bad! Perhaps it’s exactly what you and your players wanted, so while it may not be for me, it may be a godsend for you and your group.

Jaye Sonia further explains the nature of the Invisible World, touching upon things such as the City of the Dreaming Dead, and particularly, explains the decision regarding the cognitive dissonance of oddities and threshold mechanics versus the more commonly seen insanity mechanics. The article explains pierce the Veil in more detail, and while it did not provide new realizations for me, it was great to see that my assumptions regarding design decisions behind this mechanic had proven to be true.

Finally, Tim Hitchcock and Jaye Sonia present us with…Mr No Face – when these fellows take damage, they are clad in an unearthly and potentially infectious glow. They can also emit bursts that destroy electric devices. As a nitpick: The SP in the statblock erroneously calls faerie fire “faery fire” instead, and the statblock has a few hiccups. None that would prevent you from using it, but if you’re a stickler for mechanical perfection, it’s something that might irk you. The b/w-artwork presented is pretty cool, though, and they are properly creepy.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are okay – I noticed a few more typos than I like to see, and some do slightly influence rules-integrity. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Brian Suskind, Blaine Bass, Tim Hitchcock and Jaye Sonia provide a nice, inexpensive little expansion for Bloodlines & Black Magic. The ‘zine is nice to have and provides quite a few inspiring tidbits. All in all, I consider this to be a pretty nice offering, closer to being good than to being okay, which is why I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This super-sized Star Log clock in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, as always, we begin this supplement with a brief context for uplifted animals within the frame of the Xa-Osoro system shared by Everybody Games and Rogue Genius Games before diving into the uplifted animal race. Uplifted animals are very much defined by their progenitor species, and are treated as both animals and magical beasts, with the official type being magical animals. Huge kudos: The pdf accounts for effects that treat different types differently. Uplifted animals may only receive datajacks and augmentations gained via class features, such as a mechanic’s custom rig and have limited telepathy 30 ft. – good call. They also get low-light vision. The nanite technology that enhances them grants them +2 to any ability score, -2 to Charisma, Intelligence or Wisdom. Again – nice – these can cancel each other out, should you choose to make that decision. Speaking of nice: “If you’re an uplifted animal, you likely…” and “Others probably…”-sections are included.

The pdf then proceeds to go one step beyond – not only do we receive detailed notes on life cycle, physiology, etc., we also get vital statistics for different age categories. While they have no unified homeworld, the pdf does provide some intriguing suggestions, and from life milestones to cuisine, we do get detailed notes on them, all in all managing to make them feel like a distinct species, in spite of the wide open nature of the concept.

Now, I’ve delayed this for long enough: We get means to depict uplifted animals of sizes ranging from Diminutive to Gargantuan – and there is an interesting balancing mechanism employed: They all have a reach of 5 ft. Why? Smaller uplifted animals can dart to and fro, while the larger ones are more cumbersome. Space, obviously, varies, from ½ feet t0 20 feet, to be precise.

Small to Diminutive uplifted animals have 2 Hit Points, with Small, as a baseline, providing a +2 ability adjustment to Dexterity. This increases by +2 per size category, but Tiny uplifted animals also incur -2 to Strength, while Diminutive uplifted animals pay for their hefty +6 to Dexterity with -2 to Strength and Constitution. Yes, this means you can end up with a whopping +8 to Hit Points.

Medium uplifted animals get their choice of +2 to Constitution, Dexterity or Strength as ability score adjustment, as well as 4 Hit Points. Large ones loose this choice +2 Strength is proscribed, but they also get 6 Hit Points. Huge uplifted animals get +4 Strength, -2 Dexterity and 6 Hit Points, and Gargantuan uplifted animals get +4 Strength, +2 Constitution, -2 Dexterity and Intelligence. Complaint here: The Gargantuan uplifted animals lack a Hit Point rating noted; however, thankfully, the whole presentation is elegant in its math, allowing you to easily deduce that 6 Hit Points is the correct value, considering the symmetry of the design. As an aside: I’m not talking out of my behind: There are plenty of examples that illustrate how the engine works, and from them, you can deduce the correct values as well.

Beyond sizes, each uplifted animal chooses one locomotive ability, one major species trait and two minor species traits. Locomotive abilities are pretty self-explanatory, and include burrowing, being amphibious, all-terrain or gaining an extraordinary fly speed – the later increases in speed by +10 ft. at 5th level, just fyi. Some of the more potent locomotive abilities are balanced by decreased land base speeds, but allow for a pretty fine-grained differentiation: You could, e.g., choose to have an amphibious uplifted animal – that’d be 30 ft. regular speed and swim speed. Alternatively, being aquatic translates to 15 ft. land speed and 60 ft, swim speed – so yeah, regardless of what you choose, the uplifted animal remains playable, and from short-range flight to gliding and sprinting, plenty of nice options are presented.

Major species traits, unsurprisingly, represent the more potent options and include being multiarmed, ferocity, blindsense, natural defenses, trample, pounce, radiation immunity (with proper scaling – medium and high radiation at 7th and 13th level, respectively), the ability to squirt slime, creating difficult terrain, etc. (The careful reader will have deduced that Alien Archive 2’s abilities have indeed been taken into account.)

The pdf then proceeds to provide a pretty extensive list of minor species traits that include darkvision, additional arms (if you’re already multiarmed), being heat or cold inured, etc. Minor nitpick: Being heat inured only provides the “degree”-sign – it’s obvious that °F is meant, but if you’re like me and used to °C, that may briefly trip you up; not something that’ll hamper the verdict or negatively influences the pdf’s integrity, but something worth mentioning. Minor species traits also include being amphibious (as opposed to having amphibious movement as gained via locomotive traits– the distinction here deserves serious applause) and another thing that gets applause? Natural weapons is more precise than in the core book, thankfully properly stating that there is choice between the different damage types. Kudos. From having an yroometji-style pouch to prehensile tails and roars, there is a lot to customize here. Kudos: Bonus types are concise and well-chosen, even accounting for the fact that rolling charge has a circumstance bonus instead of the usual racial bonus. This also extends to the shed skin ability taken from the Ikeshti, which is uncommon in being untyped – deliberately so. Kudos for maintaining system-consistence here.

Speaking of kudos: This generator of sorts, while mighty, is still subject to GM’s discretion, of course, but can allow you to create uplifted versions of a ton of species and animals, even ones not found on good ole’ Terra. Anyhow, the pdf then proceeds to present two massive pages of sample uplifted animals made with this generator. The animals covered here are: Bear, cat, dog, elephant, fox, gorilla (Grodd!), hagfish, hamster (HECK YEAH!), hedgehog, hippopotamus, lion, penguin, raccoon, rat, shark (early 90s cartoons, anyone?), squox (!!) and tyrannosaurus rex (!!!). There are more than applications of the engine above, though – they also provide a guideline of sorts: The uplifted penguin, for example, has the unique Toboggan major species trait, while an uplifted squox gets squox tricks. The section, in short, highlights how to apply the engine. There is one complaint here: The uplifted raccoon lacks ability score adjustments and Hit Points, but you can look them up easily. The fellow should have 2 Hit Points (being Tiny), and have +4 Dexterity, -2 Strength, plus the ability score adjustments you can freely assign. So yeah, the concise nature of the engine keeps the material, in spite of this guffaw, functional, which makes this hiccup, ultimately, aesthetic only.

On the next page, we stare into the adorable picture of an alien space corgi, who seems to be the iconic for the uplifted animal paragon – you have to be an uplifted animal to take the archetype, and at 2nd level, you gain your choice of a major or two minor species traits, or choose a feat from a varied list though the GM retains some control here. This alternate class feature may be taken again at 4th, 6th, 12th and 18th level. The pdf also presents 7 new feats: Bestial Body nets you multiple legs; Cornered Animal nets a bonus to atk, and increased damage when hitting a foe’s KAC+8, but only when the only creature threatening the foe. Internalized Translator is cool: When encountering a language you don’t know, you may make a Culture or Computers check – on a success, you get comprehend languages for 10 minutes per level; can’t be used again until you spend Resolve to regain Stamina. Nature’s Weapons nets you a vesk’s bite – and proceeds to provide the precision I lauded above. Primal Rage nets you a kind of lite rage, but one that feels perfect for gorillas etc. – including knockback unarmed strikes and fatigue afterwards. Cool! Talking Animal does pretty much what you’d expect – it makes you REALLY good at passing as your progenitor species. Wild and Free, finally, nets your + BAB to KAC, and BAB-2 to EAC while unarmored.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting, on a rules-language level, are precise to a t. On a formal level, as noted above, there are a few hiccups that can briefly cause the reader to stumble. Thankfully, the pdf is structured in such a smart way that the few bits of information that have fallen by the wayside can easily be deduced from the book, relegating the glitches to the aesthetic realm. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, and the artworks are cool. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length. They’d have been nice to have, but aren’t necessarily required.

I spent much more time with Alexander Augunas’ uplifted animals than I expected – this supplement is a very dense offering, even for the crunchy Star Log-series. Now, the size categories available will probably have elicited a kneejerk reaction of horror from most GMs accustomed to PFRPG, but since SFRPG handles size categories differently, this actually works better than an initial impulse would lead you to believe….particularly since the reach issue has been circumvented in a rather elegant manner. If anything, that’s how I’d describe this engine – it is elegant in all of its choices. The archetype allows you to create truly bestial uplifted animals, should you choose to; the base engine and its examples teach by showing, ensuring that the material presented within remains valid in the future. Now, personally, I am not too fond of more minmaxy races, and +6 to Dexterity is brutal; then again, e.g. the Shobhad provide a precedence for an ability adjustment of +4 to Strength. As a whole, comparing e.g. an uplifted hamster to a ysoki, things generally check out – the hamster has burrow speed and better senses, but is more fragile (!!) and lacks the ysoki’s moxie and gets one racial skill bonus less.

That being said, while I see no serious balance issues here, very conservative GMs may wish to restrict uplifted animals to the range of Small to Large; in that range, the engine purrs like a kitten. Even beyond it, it is smooth, mind you – and while *personally* I will implement such a limitation for aesthetic reasons, it is mostly a matter of taste and the same reason why I wouldn’t allow for Shobhad PCs.

As a reviewer, I can marvel at the elegance of the material presented here, and am glad that the few editing glitches that made it inside never compromise the integrity of the supplement per se. From Gorilla Grodd to the sentient mice and dolphins of Douglas Adams to TNMTs or other anthropomorphized animals from beloved cartoons, this encompassing engine is an inspired offering I can wholeheartedly recommend to all Starfinder groups. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, but I will round up due to the few glitches not hampering the book, and add my seal of approval to this supplement, for not only its elegance, but for the fact that it presents a mighty tool as a pretty kickass uplifted animal race generator that manages to retain its balance in spite of its wide open nature.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The core rules for the second edition of Pathfinder clock in at 642 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages ToC, ¾ of a page SRD, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 634 ¼ pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, Pathfinder Second Edition. I believe I should first specify where I’m coming from: I’m a huge fan of the first edition. Heck, I’ve reviewed literally thousands of PF1-books. I’ve also spent a lot of time with Pathfinder Playtest, and had complaints regarding that book that rendered me rather conflicted about the second edition.

Opening the second edition’s covers, we notice something good from the get-go: The book explains, in a concise and easy to grasp manner, with bolding of key components, the basics of the game. This is very much welcome, and in contrast to PF Playtest, which beat you over the head with complex concepts without explaining key-terms – so we’re off to a promising start. Indeed, the most crucial improvement on a formal level over PF Playtest is easily organization, something I loudly complained about back then – for example, we get tables that list ancestries and classes and their key ability scores, flaws, secondary ability scores, etc. This makes grasping the game easier for newbies. This extends to a step-by-step guide to make characters that is simpler and easier to grasp – the presentation if more concise, and we do get a spread-sheet summary of basics of races and classes, a quick reference, and step-by-step go through the filling out of the character sheet.

This being a review of the core game, I believe it is not helpful to go into the details of every bit of rules-relevant component; instead, I’ll attempt to convey what Pathfinder’s second edition is, and what it isn’t.

To make this abundantly clear from the get-go: Pathfinder’s second edition does not have much in common with the first edition, and it does not attempt to ape D&D 5th edition either. It is a game of its own. Both are mindsets I initially admittedly had – I expected either a further development of the first edition’s rules, or a 5.75 of sorts, similar to what Pathfinder’s first edition did with D&D 3.5 back in the day. If you expect either of these things, you may be somewhat flabbergasted by this game – this is not what Pathfinder second edition is all about.

There are similarities, sure – there still are feats, races are now called ancestries, and the ability score modifiers apply to the same extent as before – Strength 16 means you have a +3 modifier, for example. There are still feats that can only be taken by certain species, and indeed, these are more important now – ancestry feats are an important thing, and in Pathfinder second edition, matter more than for many races in PF1. Indeed, the ancestries have core benefits, the heritages, which actually have a significant impact on the playing experience. So that’s a plus.

While I have commented on the improved organization of the book, there is one aspect where it fails hard from a didactic point of view: It explains its combat actions etc. LONG after the ancestries, backgrounds and classes, which means that many of the rules featured in them will make no sense to you, unless you’ve read that section as well. Why not explain encounter mechanics first, and THEN let the players make informed choices? This is an unnecessary complication, one I believe was made to maintain the ABC of ancestries, background, classes in the beginning, which ultimately is a gimmick, but nothing more. In this way, the book mirrors the organizational shortcomings that annoyed me to bits in 5e.

First, you explain the game. THEN you let folks make characters. Not that hard per se, right?

While we’re on the subject matter of things that I don’t like: The new default speed, unless you’re playing an elf or dwarf, is 25 feet. This may not be an issue for people using and thinking in the imperial system, but I was born and raised with the metric system, which also makes mathematically more sense to me. That being said, I never had issues grasping the basic size relations in RPGs - 30 feet equals 9 meters. 20 feet equals 6 meters. Elegant. Simple.

Even if you think in meters, that’s something you can learn to understand pretty quickly. 25 feet…equals 7.5 meters. Utterly opaque. I am willing to bet that, no matter how much I play the game, I will NEVER have a firm mental grasp of how much 7.5 meters are. Slightly less than 9 meters. By approximately half of a small person, and less than half of an opaque average value for human sizes- …yeah, that doesn’t help me at all. I can have a rough idea, but I’ll never be able to precisely see the distance in my mind’s eye. Why am I harping on this? While I often use battle maps, I can narrate complex tactical situations in mind’s eye theater, and with this…I won’t be able to do that. It might seem petty to you, but it’s a big strike for me as a person. That being said, I will not have this influence the final verdict, because it’s not an issue for people accustomed to the imperial system, and I can’t assume that my problem here is shared with all people accustomed to the metric system. As an aside: The change of default speed also provides a basic form of incompatibility with previously released content – one that can really trip up the GM, so please be aware of that. And yes, I get why. It’s got something to do with the changed 3-action economy and the size of the average flip mat. It still is something that proved to be problematic for me.

Anyhow, some more notes on ancestries, and namely, how they work: There are feats, and heritages. Heritages require that you choose one, and in a way, I don’t get why they’re the way they are. Let’s take the death warden dwarf. That heritage makes successes on saving throws versus necromancy critical successes instead. Umbral gnomes or cavern elves get darkvision as their heritage benefit. Notice something? You do choose, but the choices per se seem like there will be a ton of redundancy in the future. How many races will have a heritage that nets darkvision? How many will have a heritage that transforms a success into a critical success? The answer is, to spoil that for you: A TON. And I’m already bored by seeing them, because, you know, you get ONE heritage. Contrast those with e.g. the Whisper elf, who gets a 60-foot cone instead of a 30-foot cone when using Seek. That is…kinda more interesting. But, again, it is something we’re bound to see from other ancestries. In a way, heritages feel a bit like arbitrarily-restricted ancestry feats. In a way, these heritages don’t feel too tied to the species. Humans, in case you were wondering, still are very potent – their heritages include becoming trained in a skill, or get a bonus general feat. Oh, and a level 1 human feat can net you a 1st level class feat, which is a HUGE advantage for any character. So yeah, humans are very potent.

But I’m getting lost in the details, so let’s once more return to the big picture, shall we? Pathfinder’s second edition

Pathfinder’s second edition is a game that has a very tightly-wound math. This may not be evident at first glance, but upon delving deeper, it becomes readily apparent. This is at once one of the greatest strengths of the system, and one of its greatest weakness – which of the two apply to you and yours ultimately is contingent on personal preference. Let me elaborate: From the very core of the game, we have critical successes and failures contingent on beating or failing to beat a DC by +10 or -10, respectively. This degrees of success or failure paradigm is something I very much enjoy, However, it also makes a few things clear: There is a bounded accuracy paradigm at play here – and this is very prominently by the proficiency system: Untrained characters get +0, trained characters +2, expert +4, master +6, and legendary +8. Additionally, the character’s level is added to all but the untrained proficiency in respective checks. These proficiency ranks feature as a deeply ingrained component of the game in pretty much everything. It should become apparent that, at +8, the proficiency bonus alone can’t elevate a success to a decisive success. That being said, my math tests resulted in a general notion that legendary will make you only fail on 1s on relevant skills. Oh, take 10 is gone, so a degree of reliability is gone – which, I assume, will in the long run help in the regard of making proficiency rank matter more.

This brings me to a core design component I enjoyed in a way, but also somewhat bemoaned: In Pathfinder’s first edition, starting at mid levels, the specialization chasm began, at the very latest, to loom very widely. The rogue would have ridiculous amounts of Stealth, while the other characters wouldn’t; you’d be either excellent at something, or suck to the point where rolling the check was a waste of time. Pathfinder’s second edition gets rid of this issue by emphasizing two things: With a smaller range for the math to work in, ability score modifiers become more important. So does the level. If you’re a level 10 character, the difference between being trained and an expert in something becomes much less important. +2 difference vs. +10 gained by levels. Even a legendary proficiency would offer less of a boost than the full character level. Being trained, however, is very important, because it unlocks the level boost – in the example above, being untrained vs. trained means a difference of a whopping +12. This system allows for the creation of more streamlined adventure writing and means that high-level characters will be more universally useful, instead of being specialists. I don’t yet have enough playing experience to discern whether I prefer this take, or the first edition’s hyper-specialization. That being said, there are more ways to become better than in the Playtest, so there is a bit more difference between being sucky and being good. Still, one can’t expect the same range of different skillsets in Pathfinder 2nd edition.

On the plus-side, this mechanic extends to basically everything, replacing BAB, saves, etc. – which makes explaining the game quicker and provides a sense of unification of previously disparate concepts.  E.g. the highest two proficiency ranks are restricted to the higher levels, while you can potentially start with up to third rank. This means that levels and ability scores are more important than the proficiency, but I do like that you can now be bad at something.

Now, backgrounds deserve some applause, in that they very much matter in contrast to the traits of PF1, and they provide very tangible benefits – but on the other hand, I fail to see the difference between many heritages and backgrounds. It may just be me being somewhat anal-retentive – I think that heritages should reflect biological components, and the other stuff should be ancestry feats and/or backgrounds, but that may be me. That being said, there are MANY more backgrounds than in the playtest, which is a GOOD thing.

Speaking of good things: Beyond feats, there are some serious decisions at first level; this is a huge advantage over 5th edition, where the choices , for many classes, start mattering at 3rd level. So yeah, good thing. Speaking of things that this does well: In contrast to Pathfinder Playtest, each of them comes with a sidebar that lists suitable choices for you – want to play chirurgeon alchemist? Check the sidebar. Want to play an animal rager barbarian? Check the sidebar. This is an excellent way for new players to prevent choice-paralysis. That being said, layout is not 100% as efficient as I’d expect it here – each of the classes has its cool icon, and there is necessarily some overlap between the classes and their presentation; if a class feat exists for two classes, it’ll be there multiple times. That being said, I once again understand the choice, and for a core book, this is smart: Each class chapter contains all the rules for each class, which means you can print out everything for one class, be done.

On the downside, you will be rereading the same paragraph over and over. If I have to read “In addition to the abilities provided by your class at 1st level, you have the benefits of your selected ancestry and background, as described in Chapter 2.” One more time…These feel like filler. On the other hand, the class tables are condensed to a point where they lose any ability to parse them efficiently. They have a whopping 2 (!!) columns: One for the level, and the rest is a frickin’ wall of text. WHY? My eyes glaze over whenever I try reading one of them. How hard would it have been to have a column for ancestry feat, one for skill feats, one for class feats, one for ability boosts and one for class features? Not hard. And it’d allow for swift and simple parsing of information.

On the plus-side: Each class offers a TON of choice, including e.g. monks and wizards. Wizards of different arcane theses (a super-important 1st level choice) will feel radically different from each other. Monks and fighters, on the other hand, do not get such a choice and instead relegate the customization to a combination of fixed class features and class feats – there is a lot of diversity here, but unlike most of the classes, these two do not have the same subclasses. The fighter is pretty novel, in that it clearly has had some fans of a certain OotS-fighter among the design team – the class now clearly rewards playing smart and knowing when to use what class feat. It is no longer a grab bag and a “hit it”-class – meaningful choices abound. This is good.

Not so good: Let’s talk about the druid – it has been nerfed, but the primal list now includes spells such as lightning bolt…and the class has a choice between orders: Shapechanger, blaster, leshy familiar + healing, or animal companion – you must choose one. You can get the stuff later, but you’ll have to spend class feats on those if you don’t get the order. Oh, and the class feat shows up at 2nd level, not at first. So you can quickly, potentially, have more than one order’s abilities, but it’ll cost you. I like the druid class per se, but compared to the ranger, the companion option is much better when taking the entire package into account. Still, less overpowered than in Pathfinder’s 1st edition. The cleric wasn’t changed too much, but THANKFULLY, we can now decide between being an old-school cleric, or being essentially a white mage. This is another decision I very much applaud. While we’re on the subject of divine classes: Paladins are now a subset of the champion class, which is essentially the defensive tank martial. So yeah, we have a functional defense class. As an aside on defense: Shields now actually NEGATE hits. Shields matter. Big time.

Sorcerers have drastically different feeling as well, with the bloodline influencing the magic tradition from which you draw your spells – divine, primal or occult sorcerers? Very much possible. In case you’re new to the tradition concept: Spell-access is now by tradition – arcane, divine, occult, primal. Smart future-proofing. As an aside: if you were like me and hated the Playtest sorcerer, it has grown tremendously – for the first time, they feel like a class of their own, with flexibility being tantamount. No longer late spells gained, and in fact, they get more castings per day and spells. Oh, and the barbarian? We are no longer locked into totems. That’s a very good thing – instead, we choose instincts for the barbarian – a good piece of advice here: Please do read the entire class here. This class, ironically, rewards planning more than others, as there is much building on instincts. Love it to bits.

Part II of my review may be found here!


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

The first of the Whispers & Rumors-expansions for Bloodlines and Black Magic clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin with the black-eyed ones, penned by Tim Hitchcock – illustrated in a pretty nice one-page b/w-artwork that depicts a girl coming from a corn field. These Small humanoids are manifestations of the powers-that-be – black-eyed entities, often looking like kids, who can strike a bargain that carries serious repercussions for breaking it. Targets slain by these beings may be returned as black-eyed zombies, and they act as emissaries to Raum. Sample lore is provided for them.

Clinton Boomer is up next and provides 20 new oddities that your character may develop, and these contain some much-needed gems – the original book offered less of them than I would have liked to see, and the ones presented here? Awesome. They include being a walking cold spot, having an abnormal metabolism, ALWAYS getting a parking ticket, being seen as belonging to the observer’s gender…and what about always being described in an utterly weird way? What about looking half as strong as you actually are? From roleplaying to minor rules-mechanics, there are some great ones here – like needing to eat stupidly spicy food, but being unable to win any food contest. Hey, that describes me! ;P What about once per day seeing dark universe, twisted variants of corporate logos? Awesome!

Next up is Jaye Sonia, who introduces us to Plymouth Falls, Wisconsin, his backdrop for Bloodlines & Black Magic – or rather, he doesn’t – instead, we get some nice advice to utilize all the oddness, local legends etc. and make Bloodlines & Black magic work for your region.

We proceed with Arcana Mundi, penned by F. Gestu, where we learn about the Seb Libri Tres and the three spells contained within – one a misfire inducing immediate action level 1 spell, the other being a 1 minute casting duration hymn hat nets long-term care benefits during the next eight hours – in Bloodlines & Black magic, that’s super helpful! Thirdly, The Secret King’s Court is a better version of rope trick that comes with the option to forget about its presence when witnessing it. The spells per se are not that special, but the nice description and lore makes them work for me in that regard.

After a creepy clown-artwork accompanied by a no less creepy child’s rhyme, Tim Hitchcock provides advice on dealing with the magical currency dosh – basically a table with critter CRs, harvest DC and two gp-columns – I assume one is the regular success, the other the success by +5 or more – something seems to have gone wrong in layout, though – the first gp-value column’s header has moved up, looking like a header.

The final article herein, the mission church, is presented by Jaye Sonia – it’s a black site that can enhance healing, and to my pleasant surprise comes with a 1-page b/w-map. The map has no secret doors or the like, and no keys, but it does e.g. call a room “office”; I found this less of an issue here than in the regular dungeon environment, but ideally, I’d have loved to see a version without these designations as well.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard, with a surprising amount of nice b/w-artworks. The cartography provides is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length. A lite-version for mobile devices is included as well.

Tim Hitchcock, Clinton Boomer, F. Gestu and Jaye Sonia deliver a great little expansion for Bloodlines & Black Magic – particularly the oddities and the sample locale were fun offerings; the healing hymn spell is a nice way to speed up gameplay without requiring full-blown curative magic arrays. All in all, a cool little pdf. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

2/5

This pdf clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The first class would be the superman, who gets d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, 4 + Int skills per level, and proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, but not with shields. (Captain America’s weeping…) First level nets resistance 1 versus acid, cold, electricity, fire and sonic resistance, which increases by 1 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. The superhuman also may exist in temperatures from -50 to +140°F (-45 to 60°C) sans having to make Fort-saves. The superhuman loses this ability when wearing medium or heavy armor. 1st level also nets DR 1/- that increases at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter by 1. Once more, no armor synergy. The class begins play with Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat, and may execute attacks with this feat even with hands full and treat them as two-handed weapons. There is a damage-increase table that takes Small, Medium and Large characters into account. 10th and 20th level increase critical multiplier of these attacks by 1. 3rd level increases the Strength score for carrying capacity purposes by +4, which increases by a further +4 at 8th, 12th and 17th level.

At third level and every odd level thereafter, the superhuman gains an ability score improvement: +2 Strength at 3rd level, then +2 Dexterity at 5th, then +2 Constitution at 7th, and then, the whole sequence starts again, for a net gain of additional +6 Str, Dex and Con over the course of the 20 levels of progression – from this ability. The capstone further increases all 3 scores by +2, for a total gain of +8 to all physical ability scores over the course of the class progression. There is a bit of customization for the class: Starting at second level, we choose a superpower, and we gain an additional one every even level thereafter. These include three that further increase the physical ability scores. The abilities that can be taken here include low-range blindsight that slightly increases at 13th and 19th level, infinite use energy blasts (1d6, +1d6 for every 3 levels beyond 2nd, + ½ Constitution modifier) damage with a range of 30 feet, a bonus to Acrobatics that becomes slow flight at higher levels, a bonus to CMB and CMD based on size difference (Yay?), fast healing, or being able to work with less sleep, sans food and water, etc. We also get darkvision, increased speed, and a no-cooldown AoE 30 ft.-cone bull rush using Constitution instead of Strength. Limited teleportation, swimming, rock throwing, you get the idea.

Here’s the thing: None of these abilities are interesting or distinct. You can have all of them in more interesting iterations, gain pretty much all of them via magic items, etc. They translate classic superhero stunts, sure…but said stunts often are more interesting in the respective iterations provided by other classes. The superhuman’s blast gets boring very fast when compared to the kineticist, for example. So yeah, while not per se bad in the traditional sense, this is no class I’d ever play.

The second class within is the animalman, who has d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression, 6 + Int skills per level, goof Fort- and Ref-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armors and shields, excluding tower shields, and uses the same paradigm of physical ability score increases starting at 3rd level, including, which is rather lame, the same capstone. The class also gets the same superstrike unarmed strike progression as the superhuman. The class gets +1/2 class level to Perception and scent, and at 2nd level may roll initiative twice, taking the better result. 7th level allows for acting in the surprise round, and 11th level allows for rolling initiative thrice, taking one of the results. At 7th level, the class gets dominate monster, using class level as CL, for a duration of up to class level rounds. The ability may only target animals within the class’ portfolio and the saving throw DC is governed by Charisma. Nice catch: takes mindless targets into account. The animalman can speak with animals from his portfolio, which is governed by the animal aspect chosen at first level. The pdf includes 14 such aspects, which behave in many ways like bloodlines or orders, in that they provide a linear ability progression, granting abilities at 1st, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th and 20th level.

These aspects range in utility and uniqueness rather drastically. Ant, for example, is interesting in that it takes the size modifier and special size modifier engine and tweaks it, with handy tables to supplement the changes. Bat nets you a couple of skills, Shatter Defenses and faster Intimidation. If you want play Batman, Interjection Games’ Gadgeteer and e.g. the Scholar by Drop Dead Studios do a much better job – just sayin’. Beast (which includes canines, felines, etc.) nets natural attacks (doesn’t specify the type of natural attack) and the capstone nets 1.5 times the Strength bonus to them. Which is USELESS, considering the damage progression of superstrike. Fish nets you +2 to atk and AC, and +2 to all saves while fully submerged, an aquatic companion at 10th level that may fly later, and the swim superpower at 1st level alongside trident and net proficiency. The capstone nets you regeneration 3 that’s bypassed by fire while submerged. That’s the entirety of the benefits granted. Lame? Yep. The archetype does come with an archetype that replaces the superpowers at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter and the capstone with a second aspect gained at 4th level, with the ability progression for these delayed by 2 levels.
Pretty much all shifter classes, from the one by Everyman Gaming to the one by Legendary Games (and the awesome skinchanger) to the Interjection Games class to even Paizo’s subpar shifter are more interesting. If you want a superhero style class sans shifting that is a master of animals, then Purple Duck Games’ Animal Lords are superior.

Finally, there would be the telepath, who gains d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves and an ability score progression that instead grants bonuses to Wisdom, Charisma and Intelligence in sequence. The capstone instead nets +2 to all of them. Telepaths are proficient with simple weapons and light armors. Telepaths are full psychic spellcasters that5 may learn any spell from the wizard, cleric or psychic list, provided they are divination, enchantment or illusion, using the lowest spell level if a spell is available on multiple spell lists. The telepath is a spontaneous spellcaster, using Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute. 2nd level nets mental armor, which translates to +Wisdom bonus to AC as an armor bonus, which increases to 1.5 times Wisdom bonus at 9th level. The class begins play with at-will mage hand and telepathic strike: This is a ranged attack with a 30 ft. range-increment, using class level and Intelligence modifier to calculate attack bonus. This gains the benefits of haste, feats that enhance ranged combat, and the strike is mental and requires no free hands. It doesn’t qualify for TWFing and sniping penalties are noted. The strike deals 1d4 + Intelligence modifier damage and increases base damage die size at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, with 8th level also providing 1.5 times Intelligence modifier to damage, which RAW vanishes in subsequent damage die increases. D10s switch over to 2d6s and then, 2d8s. The ability fails to specify its damage type.

At 2nd level, the telepath may meditate for one minute to gain class level temporary hit points, usable up to Wisdom modifier times per day. Also at 2nd level, we have the option to use combat maneuvers with “telekinetic strikes” – which the class doesn’t have. The ability is called “Telepathic Strike” – though telekinetic strike would make more sense. 6th level nets detect thoughts at will, though creatures that saved versus it are immune for 24 levels. 4th level nets the first cool ability here, the option to move items and critters with sustained force, with the save to resist being governed by Intelligence modifier. Higher levels provide the option to manipulate larger items. 10th level nets telepathy, and 6th level the option to hurl targets, with the maximum size increasing at higher levels.

The telepath would be interesting were it not for the fact that Ultimate Psionics or The Telekinetic’s Handbook, to name just two, do a vastly superior and more interesting job at the subject matter.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, good on a rules-language level, certainly better than the other early Zenith Games undead paragon classes, for example. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with colored headers, and the pdf uses b/w-public domain artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

Jeff Gomez’ superhero classes would have been okay when the system was young; don’t get me wrong, they still would have been linear and internally uneven regarding the powerlevels of options noted; they still would have lacked supplemental feats, favored class options and meaningful archetypes.

But nowadays? Nowadays, we have a metric ton of archetypes, classes and options that do literally everything in the pdf, just better. In a more interesting manner. For each of the three classes, I could provide a list of its own of options that do everything herein, just better. In a more versatile, unique and cooler manner. The one reason to get this pdf, probably, would be the low price point, and the fact that the classes are comparably simple. Then again, they’re not so simple as to make them perfect beginner’s classes either, and lack the supplemental material you’d require. As a whole, this may not be bad, but it is woefully outclassed by pretty much all of its peers. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Book of Beyond-series clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 6 pages of SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the pdf begins with explaining the goal of this book – it seeks to provide a sense of unique identity and being “the best” at something for psychic magic – something that sets it apart from the arcane. The witch is included in a heavy manner as well. Conceptually, spells of boon are spells that provide benefits to allies at a cost to themselves. Spells of Burden, on the other hand, tap into the concept of spiritual balance. Both general concepts make sense from a metaphysical pointo to me, and as such, fit the theme of psychic magic. Undercasting is also explained. The spells are designated with the help of their respective descriptors.

After this introductory explanation, we receive a variety of spell-lists for psychic casters, by class, then spell level – as mentioned before, the witch is fully included as well. The presentation of the spells then provides them in alphabetical order, with Spells of Boon as a category coming first – good decision! A total of 29 spells of boon are provided. Going through all of them one by one would be redundant, so to give you an idea: Boon of Crimson Vitality, a second level spell, lets you accept a scaling amount of bleed damage, while an ally gains an alchemical bonus of +2 for every 2 bleed (erroneously called “blood” here) you incur. The bleed effect lasts for twice the spell’s duration, or until removed. At 5th level for spiritualist, 6th for the other occult classes and 7th spell level for the witch, we have Boon of the Drifting Form, which paralyzes you, but makes the recipient creature incorporeal. Boon of Floating Grace nets a creature +2 dodge bonus to AC, and fly speed equal to base speed, but renders you prone. This one, alas, is a spell that needed some clarification. You can end the prone condition by just standing up, which, I assume, is no option while under the spell’s effects. Furthermore, the spell does not specify a maneuverability class for the fly speed. This is somewhat exemplary regarding the problems some of these spells have – Boon of Dancing Steps does not type its bonuses, and e.g. Boon of Flowing Stone provides a primal bonus – a bonus type that RAW does not exist. Since this is the ONLY instance where I could find this bonus type in the Book of Beyond, I assume this to be a remnant of a version-revision. So yeah, while the integrity of the rules per se is there, there also are a couple of instances where the book could have used a slight polishing to iron off the few kinks that remain.

Wait! Why am I not screaming fire and brimstone? Why did I, of all conditions, choose the one with “prone” as an example? Simple. You see, the spells can’t be cheesed. Immunity to a condition does prevent you from casting the spell. This is per se a great catch. However, RAW that does not prevent you from gaining immunity AFTER casting the spell – the descriptor should specify that becoming immune to the condition accepted also ends the spell. It’s an easy modification for the GM to implement, but it’s one I’d strongly suggest adding.

Boon of Dual Minds lets the target make saves twice, once at their own value, and once using yours, but the caster is stunned. You can buff allies, granting them atk bonuses (properly codified!) and suffer the effects of various degrees of fear, as you literally grant them your courage. Boon of Imbued Vision grants an insight bonus to AC and an untyped bonus to Strength and Dexterity-based skill checks, as well as the Blind-Fight (erroneously lower-case’d) feat and uncanny dodge, but you’re blinded. Problematic from a balance point of view would be an extra move action (at the cost of the caster being staggered) as a first-level spell, and the enhanced action, which, as soon as level 4, bestows an extra standard action, +30 feet to all movement rates, but at the cost of the caster being unconscious. Ouch, right? See, this is why I explained the importance of airtight anti-abuse-caveats and provided the examples above –particularly because these boon spells? Swift action casting time, all of them. I adore the concepts and implementation, and assuming that the descriptor isn’t cheesed, they do make sense at their respective spell levels. They are still something to handle carefully as a GM, but flavor-wise and regarding execution? Yeah, I’ll be using them.

Let’s proceed with taking a look at the spells of burden, right? There are 6 of these spells here – however, they exist for a ton of spell levels each, making ample use of undercasting – they generally range from level 1 -9 or 6, with one instead capping at level 5. Burden of the Barbed Blade. This burden has you make a CL-check, with the target DC based on the creature’s HD, and causes bleed of BAB – ½ HD, rounded up; the target may accept a penalty to atk to prevent taking bleed, and the higher level iterations can cause fatigue, exhaustion and staggered once the target has taken a certain amount of bleed. The spell, obviously, does not affect full casters – something it specifies, rather elegantly, in its target line.

Burden of the Brilliant Soul imposes a penalty of CL, with the option to instead take “psychic damage”, which is something that does not exist in PFRPG. Psychic crush (and analogue spells in SFRPG as well, fyi!) cause untyped damage, yes – however, they are mind-affecting, which this spell-family is not. That is either a glitch in that regard, or an erroneous reference to the 5e-damage type. Burden of the Hungry Regalia is super interesting, in that it makes the items of the target hunger – accept negative levels, or the items cease working. Particularly at mid- to higher-level games, one damn cool spell. Same goes for the amazing Burden of Power’s Weight that actively discourages stacking ton of defensive incantations – for every effect, the caster can gain an enhancement to CL…or the target can dispel/dismiss the effects. I love this. At higher levels, this one also deals force damage, which reminded me of one of my favorite obscure 2nd edition spells. Burden of the Ready Mind enhances your CL for prepared spells the target has – but, you know, they could opt to lose them? I love the emphasis on choice etc. Burden of Sanguine Strain is a bleed spell that, conversely, can inflict pain on spontaneous spellcasters.

Finally, there would the spells of equivalence – these are interesting, in what they do – armor of influence (and its weapon of influence compatriot spell) allows a medium to enhance armor, with influence as a cap – the spell references a whole array of special armor qualities (not properly placed in italics) that may be added in a limited manner at higher CLs. Bloodrush causes untyped damaged based on already existing bleed effects. Very interesting, if a bit hard to grasp at first – the 5 Child of Suffering spells, which require that the caster has some sort of illusory duplicate. If so, and the caster takes damage, the spell may be cast as an immediate action. This grants you temporary hit points and siphons an amount of the pain you feel from an injury to the duplicate, which may attack on your turn as a touch attack in melee, inflicting damage. Successful attacks make the duplicate vanish. I like how this builds on mirror image etc. A mind-affecting diameter that deals damage to those inside or beyond it, and there is a spell that increases damage by distance – both of these should have maximum values, as they are cool, but can end up being very deadly in the hands of ingenious players. As a nitpick: These spells you say “You deal *insert dice formula*…” and never specify “damage” or types – being mind-affecting, I assumed that being untyped was intentional here. What about lacing negative conditions in your mirror images, and then potentially affecting those that destroy the images? Yeah, cool! Or, what about making your mirror images bobby traps of negative energy? Yeah, these are very cool.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are per se generally very good regarding integrity, attempting to tackle complex concepts beyond what we usually expect. In the details, the same can’t be claimed – I noticed both a few glitches, missing damage types, slightly odd verbiages, and an array of small hiccups. These, in a way, feel very much like they could have been avoided. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, and the full-color artworks are impressive – excellent, even. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Christen N. Sowards can claim one thing for absolute sure – he does not do boring. I have yet to see a book from his pen that does not attempt something that, at least in concept, makes me smile, and this is no different. Even after I’ve read more than 5000 Pathfinder spells, this managed to maintain a sense of being fresh and unique in a way I frankly did not expect. And the design-goals formulated in the beginning, of making spells that feel both properly occult AND give the classes some stuff that they do better than others? Heck yeah, resounding success. As a person, I really adore this little book. As a reviewer, I had to grit my teeth a couple of times – the book consistently almost gets high-complexity operations and the like done with pin-point precision, only to stumble in details. These usually do not break the rules, but they can generate ambiguities and represent wholly unnecessary imprecision in what would otherwise be an inspired book. Considering all of these, I frankly should round down, but then again, if you’re confident in your ability to add these small tidbits and make sure the small hiccups don’t adversely affect your game, then this is a surprising little treasure trove. As such, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Blackhill Gaol once was a one-way-trip – the place was conceived as a forced labor camp for debtors, for political prisoners, for the wicked – for those that were to never be free again. As such, the village was constructed in a pretty remote area that is known for being pretty darn dangerous. The prisoners, alas, revolted against their overseers in a coup masterminded by Lady Ephael Areva (who now has her base n the clock tower), and now remain a self-governing entity of sorts – they avoid reprisals as long as they don’t stray too far from the village, and as a result, this place has garnered a reputation for offering pretty much any blackmarket goods you want.

If you’d be thinking that the revolt resulted in a type of anarchist utopia, you’d be sorely mistaken – the leaders of factions have been vying for control ever since, making Blackhill Gaol a dangerous spot to visit – something that the PFRPG version also emphasizes via the settlement statblock information provided. This version also comes with a proper marketplace section.

As always, the supplement does include information on local nomenclature and dressing habits alongside several whispers and rumors – one of them mentioning that the well’s been poisoned, which, alas, remains a non-sequitur. It’d had been nice to have this represented mechanically as well. On the plus-side, since most buildings once were conjoined cellblocks, we do receive information of how difficult these once were to unlock, so that’s a plus in that regard.

A significant plus, as always, would be the section that provides 20 different entries on local dressing and events, as these act as an easy way for the GM to introduce some action and local color to the proceedings. As a supplement very much driven by factions, the place does come with 7 sample NPCs, all of which are presented in the fluff-only type that we’ve come to expect from the series – i.e. they note background, mannerisms and personality traits. They also come with a bit of read-aloud text depicting the NPC, and information on class/race/etc.

A total of 11 keyed locations may be found within this supplement, with all of them sporting a descriptive read-aloud line – where applicable, they list their own section regarding things you can purchase there, and a few of them also feature short quest/adventure hooks. Interesting here would be that many of the beings here have explicit or implicit consequences for interaction with the PCs. For example, a remaining staffer who survived the riot may well turn down a dark road unless confronted by the PCs. The commander of the “watch”´, Skella Grint, may recruit the PCs to help her clear up ritual murders and the like – a standard scenario, but one made more interesting by the village’s unique angle.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Jacob W. Michaels’ Blackhill Gaol is a per se cool supplement – with a clocktower and the cellblock angle, it has a unique atmosphere to it, one I genuinely consider to be fun. I’d have loved to see a bit more in the goods-department or sample prices for services rendered, but that is nothing that a good GM can’t provide. All in all, this is a well-crafted village. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

When infamous pirate captain Vayla Hollan (fully presented in the fluff-centric style of the series; one of two NPCs getting this treatment) met her match in a particularly nasty storm, she barely managed to steer her vessel, the eponymous “Kerwyn’s Pride”, into the relatively safe Ballisco Bay. Here, she found opportunity – three baronies vying for supremacy and control over the water-based trade routes. Instead of simply making her ship seaworthy once more, she went a different route – ships were converted into buildings, wood was salvaged from the wrecks, and from the wrath of a storm and an enterprising mind grew a floating village, bastion against storms and pirates alike – and, of course, also a haven/monopoly of sorts for illicit activities at the same time – a tiger can’t change its stripes, after all!

Kerwyn’s Pride, thus, is not a safe place – in the PFRPG iteration, a danger rating of +10 makes that abundantly clear in the settlement statblock. As always, we have notes on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as information on local rumors. A marketplace section is provided as well. As a transitional place, the village sees pretty vast amounts of wealth transit through it; law and order (haha) and the local customs are explained, and the supplement does include a list of 20 dressing entries and/or events; these can be sued to jumpstart the action.

The surrounding land and waters are explained, and the respective keyed locations provide the relevant information – the Inn notes prices for food and drink and accommodations, and both Inn and holding pen sports their own 6-entry specialized event-tables to further add to the game. All of the keyed locales come with well-written read-aloud text describing them, and even better – quite a few of them have adventure hooks added. In one instance, the nasty, insect-ridden bog has even a properly statted disease, providing some pretty nice hazard information! These bits also extend to e.g. a fully realized trap, where applicable – and these components, or so I found, really add to the convenience of the supplement.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Mike Welham delivers here – this place, potentially kinda-mobile, can make for a newcomer to a region; it could be used as a smuggler’s haven, a pirate-hunter’s fortress, etc. – and it does not overexplain its angles. It offers potential, but what you do with the place and the narrative angles provided? That remains fully up to you! In short, this is a great example of a unique little supplement that provides a great time, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Pop Culture Catalog-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, as always, we begin the installment with a recap of the fandom perk engine that is the foundation of the mechanical benefits of being a fan of something presented within this series – and then we proceed to the various different Infosphere Sites, which, obviously, have been fashioned after internet sites. As has become the tradition for the series, we have each infosphere site provided with a price modifier, a location and a type, as well as a detailed description and a fandom perk. We also get unique logos for each site. Picture, for example, three red hearts, their tips pointing inwards: That’s the logo of 3Kun, the obvious representation of 4chan in the Xa-Osoro system. And yes, I very much love these logos.

9 such sites are provided: 3Kun nets a fandom perk that lets you use Computers to change creature attitudes or bully them using intimidate. I really laughed when I read about Blather, only to have that turn a bit sour – with a stylized blue ramhead, “blats” are sent into the void of public communications – and currently, there is a bit of a controversial discussion going on, as Roksharp Tinderpaw, notorious gnoll activist, downplays the practice of gnoll “salvage” of taking children as collateral….he claims they were going to die of asphyxiation anyway. Kudos for using that as an RPG-angle! Anyhow, you can gather information with Computers or Culture if you’re a fan of blather. Chekkit is the Reddit equivalent, and allows for the influence of public opinion. There also is an interesting tale about a xenophobic nashi dictator who briefly managed to gain control – only to be ousted and exiled. Oh, and take a good look at the name of the fellow…

There is a user-driven encyclopedia here as well – Infopedia! This one has a fandom that lets you, among other things, take 20 with any skill, even with ones that you have no ranks in and are trained only, and it lets you forge Infopedia pages, though the public will catch on. MyFace is the Facebook equivalent, and actually is slightly less sinister than the real world equivalent, though the fandom perk does allow you to make researching you harder via falsified social media presences. Absolutely adorable would be the logo of “Skulk” – a foxholding a stylized planet in their cutre paws – it’s basically Xa-Osoro’s Google, and is an anagram for the combined search engines SearchUs, Kling, Undersphere Navigation, Livefox and KO Search. Cool: The clever nomenclature makes sense in local parlance: “Can’t you just skulk that?” “Skulk is your friend…” etc. – nice. The perk lets you recall information via Computers.

Spaz (PERFECTLY named, imho!) is the Twitch stand-in, and the fandom perk rocks – it nets you a variant of the celebrity icon theme power, and yes, if you do have the theme, you can use it quicker. Love it! Sphereflix is obvious – the huge holotube streaming provides a host of original productions, and if you watch sufficient amounts of material, you can use Culture to identify local creatures as per Life Science. The planet to witch this applies may be shifted, provided you watch enough. And no, I don’t mean “sphereflix and chill” – and yes, this is a thing in Xa-Osoro as well. Finally, there would be Yousphere, the largest video-sharing site on the entire infosphere. Watching it lets you spend 10 minutes to research a Profession, Dexterity- or Intelligence-based skill to attempt it untrained. You can only have one such skill trained, and may only retrain it by taking a 10-minute rest and spending 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points. Fun fact, this, and pretty much all my reviews, are written with some version of the Yousphere precursor running in the background. Helps my busy mind focus.

So, these are the big players – but the pdf provides more: We get DETAILED information on blogs, brochure sites, community sites, e-commerce sites, wikis, e-mail clients, government sites, etc. – and item levels and prices for all of them! Your SFRPG character is drawing their own webcomic and streaming? Well, here you go, all the rules for that. Notes on how infosphere sites work and on how infosphere synchronization works are btw. also provided.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports cool full-color artwork as well as the by now traditional and super-cool logos. The pdf has basic bookmarks for start and finish, in spite of its brevity.

Alexander Augunas and Owen K.C. Stephens do it once more – the infosphere installment of what is quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite RPG-series out there is brilliant. At times funny, at times slightly sad, it hits the hopeful and positive notes that make the Xa-Osoro supplements stand out. This is a future I’d enjoy living in, and the write-ups are literally all killer, no filler – I considered not a single entry bland. From a mechanical point of view, the supplement manages to achieve to remarkable feat of having the fandom benefits not only correlate perfectly to the respective sites, they also are internally consistent in their power-level AND provide meaningful benefits without e.g. Spaz and Yousphere overlapping. In short: This is a winner, worth every cent of its fair asking price. 5 stars + seal of approval, given without even the slightest hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Standing amid gently roiling hills, Victory Elm derives its name from the massive tree that gives the village its name; goats graze on the hills, though the absence of any other tree nearby may seem odd to some. While a few hill giants remain nearby, the village has attempted to entice the creation of additional settlements to make the place less remote, but so far to no avail. The PFRPG version comes with a proper settlement statblock information (which features, oddly, a minus sign in red), and a marketplace-section, as well as notes on items for sale in individual locales.

Why “Victory”, you ask? Well, some years ago, hill giants acted as a vanguard for fire- and frost giant masters, and failing to uproot the mighty elm, it became a rallying point that saw the eventual defeat of the giants. Yes, this pretty much has “Giantslayer”, “Against the Giants” and the like written all over it. Today, but one living being in Victory Elm remembers these days – Cyrrun Belatros, an elf, who has recently fallen ill (and who comes with a full fluff NPC-write-up) – and at the same time, a strange blight ravages the land, with the elm infested by aggressive termites and wasps. Suffice to say, rumors about the giants gathering don’t help the sense of trepidation haunting the place.

It should also be noted that this village features a museum still holding fabled weaponry from the last altercation against the giants, and we do have a war memorial as well. Nice!

As always with the series, we receive full notes on the surrounding locales, have information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as a section of lore and some rumors that can be used to reward PCs for doing their legwork. The 20-entry dressing/event table allows you to jumpstart the adventuring quickly and painlessly as the PCs explore the place, and one of the locales does come with its own additional table of 6 sample events. Of particular note in this Village Backdrop-installment would be the fact that the adventure hooks/quest outlines provided are crunchier than usual, coming with sample checks – they also are more complex than usual and elevate this supplement, being easily one of its strongest points.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Mike Welham’s Victory Elm manages to capture a borderlands-vibe very well; the looming threat, the sense of melancholy and an era of peace ending, the threats that are here – this is a fun village that particularly will do its job exceedingly well if you’re planning a vs. giants-type campaign. Now, I wasn’t entirely blown away by the village, but the crunchier hooks and focused theme are definite strengths, which make me round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Starfarer Adversaries-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It’s part nanite swarm, part viral infection, and all horrific – the Grimaldi Strain, an infection that turns creatures into CANNIBAL CLOWNS!! It’s not easily transmitted, thankfully – only those incarcerated for more than a week may be infected, but still…do you want to save them? Really? But…what if their feet turn longer and longer?

Once transformed, a victim of the Grimaldi Strain becomes a Buffoon, the lowest rank of cannibal clown; at this point, they may be saved by killing the Ringleader, the highest rank of a group of cannibal clowns…as long as they haven’t eaten. Once they have partaken in flesh, they turn into Tramps, the rank-and-file cannibal clowns. Tramps are destroyed if the Ringleader is eliminated, but at one point, they become Wiseguys – these cannibal clowns are NOT destroyed with the death of their leader, and are the stage that eventually transforms into Ringleaders.

How do you build cannibal clowns? Well, they are monstrous humanoids with the combatant or expert array. They can have any CR, but some types of clowns are more common for some CRs. Cannibal clowns all have darkvision 60 ft. and when partaking of sentient meat for 10 uninterrupted minutes, they regain their CR worth of Hit Points, but only once per creature they consume. Cannibal clowns have a telepathy of 100 ft. that can be heard by anyone with Profession in a clown-like skill, hearing strange whispers – this also nets blindsense (cannibal clowns) with a range of 5 times Profession ranks feet. (Nitpick: “feet” is missing.) Higher rank cannibal clowns automatically become aware of ANYTHING lower-ranking cannibal clowns within the same SOLAR SYSTEM discover. They also get an untyped +20 bonus to Disguise checks made to appear like a brightly-painted entertainer. Disintegrators look like seltzer bottles, grenades like pies, etc. Making an attack cancels this ability for 10 minutes. Cannibal clowns count as humanoids, monstrous humanoids and undead, and effects that target only one of those affect them as normal. They take the worst effect possible, if in question. Oh, and one more thing: ANY number of cannibal clowns may fit into a vehicle or space ship. ANY NUMBER. They are immune to negative energy, diseases, exhaustions, fatigue, paralysis, poison, sleep and stunning – however, this immunity is weird, in that they instead start to creepily laugh for 1d4 rounds, becoming flat-footed, so clever players can exploit this.

The pdf then proceeds to walk you through the process of making the respective cannibal clowns: Buffoons, for example, have double the normal HP, EAC of 4 lower, KAC of 2 lower, and when they’re hurt, it’s funny, so non-cannibal clowns may be briefly staggered by them suffering critical hit… Speaking of which: They have vicious criticals. These apply when the clown beats the AC by 5 or more. They also sport 7 custom critical hit effects that include acid flowers, endless scarves to entangle targets, and from killing joke to “got your nose”, the Joker pun-game is strong with these.

Tramps get one of these critical effects, get vicious critical and fill up their special ability slots with schticks – these would be 5 special custom abilities, such as the option to breathe in missed ranged attacks and blowing them back to the target. Wiseguys gain two critical hit effects and can choose which to apply, but don’t have vicious critical. They get one envoy improvisation and may fill the rest of their slots with schticks. Ringleaders have vicious critical, two of the new critical effects (that BOTH apply!), use the envoy class graft, and get +1 schtick in excess of the ones they get via their special abilities.

A CR 1 buffoon, a CR 4 tramp, a CR 7 wiseguy and a CR 10 ringleader are provided with sample stats for your convenience. The wiseguy’s Dexterity rating if off by one (should be +5), but the value is correct in e.g. initiative.

Even cooler: There is an appendix that lists cannibal clown weapons – dog leashes, butterfly nets, guns with a “bang”-flag used to bludgeon, etc. – love them!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no interior artwork apart from the cover-piece. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Yessa! Owen K.C. Stephens delivers big time in this supplement! The cannibal clowns are brutal adversaries, and the modifications made to their creation, the detailed walkthrough – pretty much everything here is cool. I love the unique abilities, critical effects, the whole angle of their creation, the small tidbits…and guess what – the pdf is actually funny in a darkly-twisted way I very much enjoy. This is more than some throwaway critters – this is a delightfully coulrophobia-inducing cornucopia indeed, and as such, gets 5 stars + seal of approval. Easily the best Starfarer Adversary-supplement so far!

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This supplement clocks in at a hefty 28 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, let us do this from the ground up: The pdf starts off with a summary of coven-benefits: If at least two coven members participate in the same occult ritual, they get +2 to all skill checks, saves and concentration checks for the ritual; when casting spells on another coven member, CL is two higher, but multi-target spells only gain target number increases by CL if all targets are members of the coven – great catch! The pdf sports a variety of coven related feats: Coven training is the “tax”-feat that enables you to form/join covens. Bones of the Coven nets you temporary hit points equal to the spell-level of harmless spells cast by coven-mates that target you. Claws of the Coven nets you +1d6 bonus melee damage (non-multiplied on crits) when a coven-mate has damaged the target in the same round. Personally, I think this should specify the type as precision or as being the weapon’s damage type, but that’s me nitpicking. Coven Casting lets you sacrifice a spell as a standard action, granting a coven mate a bonus to concentration and to penetrate SR equal to the spell’s level. If they cast the spell you sacrificed, they add your CL to their own for determining its effects – which can be MEGA-STRONG, considering that some (arguably sloppy) spells lack a cap, but that’s not necessarily the feat’s fault. Still, not happy with that, particularly considering that this has no range and RAW doesn’t require line of sight or effect to pull off. Coven’s Curse builds on that and adds the bonus to Curse DCs as well, which can be brutal – but since it is niche and fits the theme, I’m, good with it. Coven Rites nets your Charisma bonus as a morale bonus to occult ritual skill checks if all members are part of your coven. Coven’s Focus lets you apply touch range spells to any member of the coven currently touching their bonded object, familiar or soul focus item. Sight of the Coven lets you concentrate to see through bonded objects, familiars, etc. Wisdom of the Coven improves aid another for Knowledge checks made to assist the coven. Word of the Coven is a teamwork feat lets the coven members bluff better, requiring two rolls of Sense Motive (worse result) to discern deceptions, and the feat allows for the potential fooling of magic as well. Nice!

All in all, these are flavorful and don’t sport serious issues, so that out of the way, let’s take a look at the hag race presented herein: The hag is a Medium monstrous humanoid with darkvision 60 ft. and gain +2 to Strength and Charisma, as well as a +2 racial bonus to Perception and Sense Motive. They also start play with the Coven Training feat, qualifying as eligible participants, and they are functionally immortal – they never die of old age. No favored class options are included.

The pdf also contains the paragon hag base class, which sports d8 HD, 4 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, good Fort- and Will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, and armor interferes with their casting ability. They have a 6-level spellcasting progression, and cast spontaneously, drawing their spells from the witch list and using Charisma as governing spellcasting ability. As such, they also gain cantrips and begin play furthermore with a claw attack that starts at 1d6 and increases to 2d10 over the course of the class progression, with 2nd level making the claws magical, 6th silver. At 10th level, they get a threat-range upgrade to 19-20, at 18th level to 18-20. These explicitly stack with keen, which I am, no surprise, not keen on. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I’ll put a dime in the bad pun jar. Starting at 14th level, the claws are treated as ghost touch. The paragon hag class is open to all races, but for the purpose of abilities etc., the members of the class are treated as hags. Minor nitpick: It’d have been prudent to state how this works when being treated as the actual race would be detrimental and being treated as a hag as positive by the same effect.

The paragon hag sports a so-called occult coven – up to her Charisma modifier targets may be part of the coven in addition to any additional targets qualifying via e.g. Coven training. Problem: The ability fails to specify whether it’s an action to make a member join – the paragon hag can freely dismiss coven members, but introducing them is not covered. When a paragon hag’s coven member fails a skill check as part on an occult ritual, the paragon hag may spend a soul point to allow the creature to reroll the check; the target must use the reroll’s result. Once more, there is no action on part of the paragon hag noted.

What’s a soul point? Well, at 1st level, the class gains a soul object. This acts as a kind of bonded object, and it holds a number of soul points equal to the paragon hag’s Charisma modifier. These replenish when preparing spells, or depending on the hag family chosen. 1/day, the paragon hag may spend spell level soul points to cast a spell via soul points instead of expending the spellslot. This may be used an additional time at 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter. At 7th level, a soul point may be used to use bestow curse as a SP, with 17th level upgrading that to greater bestow curse. At 13th level, the paragon hag may use soul points of other paragon hags, provided they are part of her occult coven and willing. Non-paragon hag arcane casters can sacrifice a spell 1/day, granting a paragon hag in the coven that spell’s spell level as soul points. Excess points are lost.

At 5th level, the paragon hag gains a +2 competence bonus to all skill checks made as part of an occult ritual, increasing that by a further +2 every 5 levels thereafter. Additionally, they may choose to halve the casting time of a ritual, and if the paragon hag succeeds on every check, the ritual’s CL increases by 2. This does not increase, but the CL-increase does stack with other paragon hag’s abilities – thus, three paragon hags could theoretically boost the CL by +6. I am not that happy with these unlimited, stacking increases. At 19th level, skill checks and saving throws related to rituals may be rolled twice, taking the better result.

The paragon hag class is most defined by the hag family to which they belong – these can be likened best to bloodlines. 10 such families are provided. Structurally, the families provide a list of family spells – these are added to the spells known. Furthermore, at 5th level, the paragon hag gains an occult ritual determined by the family – ritual spells. The paragon hag needs to be the primary caster, and the rituals require at least 2 secondary casters that must be part of the coven. These rituals have a fixed amount of required checks, a 1d4 Charisma damage backlash, etc.. The list of these ritual spells (a new one is unlocked every two levels) is in so far interesting, as many spells and slight tweaks of spells that you wouldn’t expect, situated in the upper power echelons, may be found here. The feat Expanded Ritual Spells lets you designate additional spells to be cast as rituals.
1st, 4th and every 4 levels thereafter, also grant a family power – these are a linear power-progression, and the family chosen also determines the capstone ability of the class. The abilities themselves are often what you’d expect in their themes, but managed to positively surprise me in quite a few instances with nice twists. If you choose, for example, the winter hag family, you get, no surprise there, cold and fire resistance, courtesy of a sheet of rime. However, when you take fire damage in excess of this resistance, the rime melts and takes an hour to reform. It’s a small touch, but it’s tidbits like this that make the families stand out a bit more. The abilities also sometimes interact with the soul point engine – say, for example, we stick to the winter hag family – the 16th level ability lets you spend a soul point when casting a spell with the cold descriptor. If you do, the target is blinded for Charisma modifier (minimum 1) rounds. Storm hags can, with their 4th level ability, sue soul points for ranged trips or disarms, using class level and Charisma modifier instead of CMB. The sea hag family builds on the evil eye hex and can enhance that at higher levels – you get the idea. Armor while you have at least a soul point left, the option to fire beams of moon light – there are some cool ideas here. However, e.g. the aforementioned beam does not specify its damage type properly. Hearth hag family members can get Anchored Spell (a new metamagic feat at +3 spell levels that lets you anchor a spell to a location, making it last indefinitely; you can maintain Constitution modifier of these, and they manifest as a rune that may be disabled), or, if you have it, add Charisma modifier to the number of anchored spells you may maintain.

The pdf presents 4 brief archetypes: Cauldron hags are basically hag alchemists, including extract list, a mutagen that makes them look innocent and harder to hurt. Coven mothers have more soul points, but need to be adjacent to coven members to use them. Family abilities are replaced with coven or teamwork feats, and the capstone also represents the coven buffer-angle. Focused hags can’t use soul points to cast spells, and instead use them to duplicate base focus powers their object needs to be of the appropriate form. Their spellcasting also allows for occultist poaching. The Mother of Steel takes a weapon as a focus item, gaining proficiency and improvements for the item instead of the claw improvements.

The pdf also features some additional feats: Grandmother’s Teeth nets you a bite attack; Grandmother’s Nose nets you scent; Hag’s Familiar replaces the soul focus object with a familiar. Hag’s Hex lets you choose from a limited list of witch hexes. Improved Soul Focus nets you +2 soul points and increases the maximum you can hold by 2. Sympathetic Spell does what it says on the tin. The pdf also provides 6 occult rituals. Crone’s walk makes a venerable target a hag; Dream child and embrace changeling are rituals designed to make targets adopt changelings and transform them into proper hags. Exact price is my favorite - the ritual is designed to represent hags demanding a non-monetary price for services rendered and features effects for selling your shadow, your memory, etc.; Hide life lets the hag cheat death by hiding in the familiar or similar being. Seeing ooze costs an eye, and generates a hag’s eye ooze. Grisly! Spell-wise. We have hag’s ride, an improved nightmare, hag’s touch (and its greater) iteration, a curse that ages targets (particularly neat when used in conjunction with the aging rules from Everybody Games’ Childhood Adventures).

The pdf closes with 3 new hags: Bone hags (CR 3) have a negative energy focus and may channel negative energy; hearth hags (CR 5) may dispel magic with their broom attacks, and while LE, they actually think they save kids from neglect etc., making for an interesting angle if they, well, are right. They are evil monsters, but not monstrous. Like it! Finally, moon hags, at CR 8, get untyped damage lunar blasts that can cause lycanthropes to transform, polymorph under moonlight – and, in a really cool twist, they are immune to silver. That just BEGS to be inserted as a twist into a lycanthrope adventure.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – the pdf is precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with red headers, and artwork employed is thematically-fitting stock and public domain art. Annoying and puzzling: The pdf lacks any sort of bookmarks, making it a pain to navigate.

Landon Winkler’s take on paragon hags and occult covens was a pleasant surprise for me: While there are a few combos herein that can use a limitation/cap, said caps would most of the time be required due to other design components not found in this book not necessarily doing a good job. The exploding CLs that covens can generate are very brutal and need to be handled carefully by the GM. While they won’t cause issues in a low fantasy/dark fantasy game, a high fantasy nation of hags would be the equivalent of an arcane atomic bomb. The material herein is solid as a whole and often manages to touch upon novel and fun ideas in a topic that has been covered in many a publication for both RPGs and beyond. More importantly, the material often shows in these little flourishes that the author really cares about the pdf – it’s small touches that make the material feel fresh and interesting. Granted, not everything is perfect, but considering the super low price point and the good bang-for-buck ratio, I feel I can recommend this pdf. The lack of bookmarks is really jarring, though.
Ultimately, I certainly feel like I got my money’s worth. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This installment of the Starfarer Adversaries-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 4 pages of content, one page of which is devoted to a one-page version of the creature-artwork, suitable to act as a handout.

The sluaghs receive a whole page of background story – face-stealers, servants of the unseen good; Void Demons, Lords of Dark Matter – many are the names applied to them, and none of them are kind. Their empire may have collapsed, but this has not mitigated the threat that these shapechangers represent.

Two different sluagh are included herein, at CR 6 the sluagh infiltrator, and at CR 10 the sluagh taskmaster. Sluagh are Medium outsiders with the evil, native, shapechanger and sluagh subtypes. As for change shape, they can use it as a standard action to look like any Medium humanoid or outsider, provided they have seen the creature, and in such a form, they learn the languages of the creature mimicked. Sluagh can absorb equipment – technological, hybrid and magical unattended equipment may be integrated as a standard action. A sluagh may only use one item per type in a given round, and using them takes as long as though they had them in hand. They can fire so-called void bolts, which is an EAC-targeting ranged attack dealing untyped damage….why? Why add untyped damage? SFRPG has so MANY damage types, why start with this stuff again? -.-

Nominally, sluagh are based on the spellcaster array, and both arrays correctly include the atk-boost provided by the outsider graft. The save-boost is applied to reflex-saves, just fyi. Both builds use technomancer spells, and use their high attack value for aforementioned void bolts. Melee attacks are executed with claws, which have bleed 1d6/2d6 as critical effects. Minor nitpick: The S-indicator for “slashing” damage is lower case here. The sluagh infiltrator has one master skill less than usual, instead going good on that – something that the higher CR-version repeats. Good skills are Diplomacy and Sense Motive, with Bluff, as befitting of a shapechanger, being the master skill. The sluagh seem to get increasing DR – the CR 6 version has DR 5/good, the CR 10 on DR 15/good.

The pdf also mentions a void rune as a weapon fusion – when sluagh die, they leave a void crystal, which can be made to create a void rune fusion seal that can only exist as a seal. A weapon with such a fusion deals untyped damage (URRRRGHHHH), and is considered to be a fusion of the highest-level weapon it can be applied to. This prevents other fusions, sure, but it’s reliable damage that can’t be negated. Blergh. Hate it. Kill it with fire.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Owen K.C. Stephens’ sluagh are a cool critter – the builds are precise, well-executed and interesting. The fluff is cool and I love the notion of providing unique rewards for critters defeated!

I hate untyped damage. For multiple iterations of d20-systems it’s been a bane, begs to be exploited, and I frickin’ LOATHE the weapon fusion. I hate what it represents. Let’s take away interesting options, and instead provide boring, but consistent damage that can’t be negated. This never was a good idea; it’s not interesting, and the sad thing is, much like static bonuses to atk versus choice, they might be boring, but they are more efficient, rewarding players for doing stuff that’s less fun. I love the idea of rewarding PCs for slaying bosses with unique treasure – the notion is great, but I…can’t…get past the untyped damage. I’m sorry. It just makes me angry. If you don’t mind that, then consider this to be a solid 4-star critter file. If you’re like me, this decreases the appeal of the supplement considerably, and I’m assuming I’m not the only one with such a reaction. As such, my final verdict will clock in as a median 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Monster Menageries-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, one of which is devoted to the introduction, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so see that one the cover? Legend Stan! Provides pretty hilarious artworks for all the monsters herein, so let’s check out whether the stats hold up as well: The first critter would be the Giraffecorn (CR 5), who sports a glistening silvery coat, cloven hooves and a sex-feet long, pink horn. It also, hilariously, can use invisibility at will and has an air walk that only works to a limit of 6 feet above ground. Except when it doesn’t. To quote the ability: “Being a very magical beast, it can still bypass this limitation at times. For example, if there is a chasm in the ground, the giraffecorn can cross it, even though the ground under the chasm is more than six feet below it, because the ground to either side is not. This flagrant disregard for magical law causes conniptions in rules lawyers.” This actually made me laugh out loud!

Giraffemeras (CR 8) have a cobra and a bat-head as well; they can spit venom. Oh, and they know kung-fu. Because life is unfair. And they can apply stunning fist to natural attacks, flurry, and block attacks. XD Oh, and never remark how badly they fly. They are touchy that way, and with their very good Stealth…well. Surprise giraffe kung-fu to the head is not something you want. Right? Minor complaint: Perception value is inconsistent - +7 or +8?

The CR 5 giraffon is a hybrid of giraffe and hummingbird, and, as the write-up drives home – they make no sense. For example, why are they carnivores? How can they be so good at catching prey unaware? Oh, and their attacks can dazzle and blind you. Unless I’ve missed something, this one’s CMB is off by 1.

It can get worse for adventurers just humiliated by a hummingbird/giraffe-hybrid: CR 15 – the giraffelich! Their necksmash is laced with negative energy, and they do have a fear aura, paralyzing touch and the rejuvenation you’d associate with a lich. They’re also lucky, gaining luck tokens when failing attacks or saves, which may then be spent to roll d20s twice and take the better result. Speaking of giraffelich phylacteries – those are defecated apples of evil, that not even necessarily are consciously produced.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, only minor snafus may be found; nothing serious. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column tome-like standard and sports pretty broad borders. I love Stan!’s comic-style artworks for the giraffes, and the artworks come on their own pages, making them suitable for handouts. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity.

I love Jeff Lee’s giraffenomicon. It made me laugh out loud multiple times and is so surreal and funny to me. Additionally, the critters genuinely have some neat mechanical components I enjoyed seeing. What more can you ask of a small pdf such as this? 5 stars.

Endzetgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Raven’s Cradle is a prosperous farming community ruled by superstition and folklore; bandits are founded pecked to death nearby, and woe betide any who dare attempt to bring harm to this strange place. It may not be a surprise to veterans – but Raven’s Cradle makes for a pretty perfect fit for Ravenloft and similar settings/games that want to add a bit of folklore/horror in the vein of the Wicker Man to the game.

As always in the series, the pdf does come with notes on local dressing habits (which reflect the local superstitions) and nomenclature, and we do get some whispers and rumors, and a lore section that rewards PCs that do their proper leg-work. And indeed, this place is unique: On a pedestal, in the middle of the village, on an island, there is a massive diamond – and the “Bleakstone” is indeed not something the wise would attempt to steal.

The folklore angle is particularly effective in this supplement, with the belief in the raven spirit being only semi-covert, with special boards prominently displayed, etc. The Ravenloft-angle is also pretty pronounced, in that curses indeed matter in how this place came to be – the spirit noted, the diamond – all is entwined in a rather nice manner. The pdf does come with 2 different sample NPCs, presented in Raging Swan Press’ fluff-centric depiction (i.e. notes on personality etc. are provided, but no full statblocks), and the pdf also sports the by now traditional and much appreciated 20-entry-long dressing/event table.

The settlement sports a couple of briefer summaries for other NPCs as well, and notes goods to purchase where applicable. The PFRPG-version also has a proper marketplace section, though it does sport a typo – a “01” where a “+1” should be in the lore-rating.

The 10 keyed locations do come with their own read-aloud lines, and generally are awesome – there is but one aspect I’m not a big fan of: While the cursed diamond is cool indeed, and while I like the symptoms presented, it’d have been nice to get some proper rules for the curse.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

I enjoyed Steve Hood’s “Ravens’ Cradle” – the supplement knows how to evoke a proper sense of paranoia; it plays upon the PC’s greed, and ultimately asks a series of smart questions – are the PCs justified in trying to break the curse? Isn’t the place better off as it’s now? Things are not as simple as one would think, and I very much like this. At least in PFRPG, the supplement could have used a tad bit more crunchy components, though. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This mythic path clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 /2 a page blank, 4 pages SRD, 1 page back cover (erroneously referring to the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres book), leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so, like in the Wielder path file, this recaps that Lost Spheres Publishing’s supplements have the concept of different sources of power: The power-sources are arcane, divine, entropic, material, psionic and temporal. There is one more thing to note: The pdf introduces a rules term, namely the “source entity” – this entity is basically akin to the Wielder’s bonded item – the source of the mythic path’s power and the linchpin of the abilities presented within. The source entity may be anything, from a deity or outsider to a cosmic principle to a thing from beyond.

That out of the way, the mythic path grants 5 hit points per tier and begins by granting one of three “Channel the Master”-abilities. The first, “Fist of the Master”, nets you a slam attack as appropriate for your size; you may expend a use of mythic power to ignore hardness and DR as though the slam was adamantine for 1 minute. During this time, you also add tier to damage rolls. The second choice, “Breath of the Master”, lets you, as a free action, expend one use of mythic power to ignore a condition for 1 round per tier. Thirdly, “Dreams of the Master” lets you expend one use of mythic power as a standard action to manifest a psionic power or spell of your choosing of a power level equal to half your tier. Two problems: 1) This RAW does nothing at tier 1 – it lacks the “minimum 1”-caveat. 2) This should specify that it can only duplicate spells or powers of a casting time less than 1 minute; otherwise, this ability could be used to standard action-cast rituals, which is clearly not intended. As always, one 1st-tier path ability may be taken to gain an additional one of these abilities.

Unless I have miscounted, the pdf provides a total of 29 different 1st tier abilities, so what can heralds do? Well, there are some genuinely unique path abilities here, case in point, alien presence. You select one power or spell of half your tier or less that has the[mind-affecting]-descriptor possessedby your source entity, and emit it constantly in a radius of 30 feet per tier, with save DC, even if it usually does not have one, of 10 +1/2 HD + tier. You may spend a mythic power to activate or suppress the aura, and it remains in effect until you become unconscious – as a balancing tool, the ability has a hex-caveat: If a creature saves, it’s immune for 24 hours. Fits the herald theme very well. Calling tier-based henchmen, gaining access to psychic skill unlocks as well as a divination spell or clairvoyant power to use at will may be found. Scaling AC-bonuses that may be temporarily enhanced by mythic power expenditure, and there is an alternate surge that, while potent, prevents you from using mythic powers while in effect and ends with a period of exhaustion. There is a path ability that lets you use Breath of the Master to ignore multiple conditions at once.

As in the wielder-pdf, a peculiarity of the pdf is that it does not explicitly point out prerequisites required; while these are obvious, it’s something to bear in mind – this does require some system mastery. As a nitpick – the ability for additional condition suppression erroneously refers to “immunity”, which isn’t actually something it does….which becomes more relevant with another upgrade, which extends the duration of breath of the master. Cool: There are two path abilities that let you use mythic power to absorb energy the source entity is immune to, and use it to heal or replenish limited resources. Based on these path abilities, there is another that lets you temporarily help creatures touched this way as well; here, the prerequisite is properly called out. These abilities can be further enhanced and allow you to store energy, and you can unlock additional energies. I really like this path ability complex. There also is a means to spend a move action to share your experiences with the source entity; Fist of the Chosen can be combined with SP or Psi-like abilities granted by a series of path abilities that net you SPs or Psi-like abilities. Nitpick: These SPs/psi-like abilities should specify in the context of this combination that they can only apply if casting/manifesting time is 1 full round or less to avoid long cast exploits.

Gaining access to hypnotic stare, and building on that, painful and bold stare, is also covered. Limited access to an implement school, and bonuses to the influence threshold of the medium are also covered – the alter in particular is nice to see, considering that the medium badly needed means to increase that cap. Boosts to Knowledge skills (not properly capitalized) and slow, but perfect flight (which can be sped up with mythic power) makes sense. There also is a means to get limited access to an oracle mystery, and a medium spirit-like power, which represents the presence of the master. Wildcard feats and limited evolution points, allowing the master to speak through you, and bestowing source entity related enhancements to weapons or scaling telepathy complement this selection.

The pdf features 13 3rd tier abilities, which include immunity to an environmental condition or effect per tier (this could use some specifics), the ability to travel from planet to planet (cool!), share your flight, unleash stored energy in blasts, enhancement of aforementioned presence (for really nasty auras) and similar enhancements of the previous abilities. What started as a hunter’s skill boost to track down targets at 1st tier now allows you to track teleportation effects, and you may lesser evolution surge. Tapping into the source entity’s power for surges and communion can also be found here.

The pdf also features 7 6th tier abilities, which include mythic power-based plane shift/interplanetary teleport (spell-references not in italics), sharing the surges granted by the master, brings folks along through space, emit stored energy in brutal novas or imbue abilities in targets. The capstone ability lets you roll twice and take the better result when rolling an attack roll against a foe of your source entity, while creatures attempting to confirm a critical hit against you roll twice and take the worse result. 1/round when confirming a critical hit against a mythic foe of your source entity, you can regain one use of mythic power. As long as the source entity doesn’t have mythic kittens or rats as foes, this can’t be cheesed, so I’m good with it. ;) (Kidding aside, control rests firmly where it belongs – with the GM.)

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting on a rules-language level tend to be very good with a few exceptions; on a formal level, there are a couple of more snafus, like saving throw names not capitalized etc. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, and the artwork provided for the supplement (seen on the cover) is awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf provides more content than you’d expect from the page-count.

Christen N. Sowards’ herald is a cool angle to pursue – the focus on the sourced entity is an interesting one, and the herald ultimately is rather different from e.g. Legendary Games’ Path of the Bound, feeling, well, more like a herald of a mighty entity. If you wanted to be Silver Surfer, you can definitely be that now. I particularly liked the energy storage and use sub-engine presented here, and there is a lot of storytelling potential going on here. At the same time, there are a few rough spots that cost this access to my highest rating-echelon; still, as a whole, I can wholeheartedly recommend this supplement if you’re looking for some cool mythic tricks! My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Gull’s Roost is a safe place where law abides – in the PFRPG-iteration, this fact is properly supported by the village’s stats, but even without them, PCs are bound to be impressed by the beautiful place: originally created as a summer resort for nobles to escape (akin to how e.g. the Viennese used to in real life) the summer’s stifling heat. Coated with mother-of-pearl and lavishly-painted, Gull’s Roost was doomed – it lured less than desirable entities, and a fort was erected to combat pirates and worse – but the reputation of the place as “unsafe” had been established – and thus, this place became the home of the workers that once toiled to create this gorgeous locale. One look at the b/w-artwork depicting it, next to cliffs, with a waterfall, a bay…it looks like a place I’d love to live.

Today, the quiet failure of this gem is reflected in the demeanor of the local populace, and, as always for the series, we do get notes on local lore that PCs may unearth, as well as rumors – 4 this time around. The PFRPG-version also clearly codifies a marketplace section. Speaking of marketplace: One of the 10 sample keyed locations (all with a brief read-aloud line) is actually a marketplace that comes with a small generator to determine which place is open. And while we’re on the subject of consumables, there are notes on items for sale by location as well. Kudos!

The pdf also sports 4 sample NPCs, depicted in the by now classic Raging Swan Press-style, i.e. focusing on distinguishing mannerisms and personality; the stats are not included, but race, alignment and class, if applicable, are noted. One of the best things about this place, though, beyond the well-wrought dressing/event table (20 entries, just fyi), would be that the overall leitmotif on the village-scale is extended on the personal level: You see, a couple of adventurers did settle here, and when the lady died and the kids left, the old adventurers started making a living doll facsimile of his lady…and it was not to remain the only one. These individuals have the surname “Doll” in local parlance, and from horror to questions of transhumanism, there are a lot of exciting themes this angle adds to the settlement.

However, more than all of that, expressionless visage and inflectionless voice, contrasted with warm-hearted behavior, the fact that the dolls are NOT evil…that’s what makes this stand out. The reason for their existence is profound sadness; but they, in a way, are an inverse of the town – which is gleaming and beautiful, but ultimately hollowed out; on the other hand, the dolls, while ostensibly hollow, are not – and all those contrasts are subsumed under a theme of genuinely touching melancholy.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Jacob W. Michaels has written one of the best, most unique villages in the entire series here. The subtle melancholia as a leitmotif, contrasted with the idyll; the multi-faceted implementation of leitmotifs and their mirroring – they perfectly combine into a supplement greater than the sum of its parts. This is a grand little masterpiece, in that it has plenty of adventuring potential without throwing obvious threat xyz at the PCs…and because it manages to hit the subtle notes in between so well. I adore this place, and it resonated with me in a truly remarkable manner. 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2019.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This mythic path clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 /2 a page blank, 4 pages SRD, 1 page back cover (erroneously referring to the Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres book), leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so one thing I enjoy about Lost Spheres Publishing’s supplements would be the concept of different sources of power – the pdf recaps these: The power-sources are arcane, divine, entropic, material, psionic and temporal.

Okay, so what do the Materia-wielders of e.g. Final Fantasy 7, Arthur and green knights have in common? They derive their power from things; as such, the wielder attempts to encapsulate this concept, and is recommended for occultists, wizards and rogues, or any other character who focuses on wielding items. The supplement does mention worlds and cabals known for wielders. A tier in this path nets 5 bonus hit points, and a wielder technique, chosen from a list of three – these are printed in italics, which this time around, does not impede the functionality of the rules-text (no spell/SP/item-name reference), but still struck me as a bit odd. Anyhow, the first of these choices would be dual trigger – this one lets you expend a use of mythic power to use two abilities of an item that would take a standard action to activate, or the same ability twice. Thankfully, other limiters, such as charges, mythic power required and the like still remain in effect, preventing this from being cheesed. The second technique, lightning finisher, lets you expend a use of mythic power as a full-round action to trigger a standard action item ability as a swift action instead. The DC, if applicable, of the action, is increased by ½ (tier +1) for every successful attack (such as one executed with a weapon) this round. Once more, other limitations remain in effect. This is known as “lightning Finisher.” Thirdly, there is the option to expend a use of mythic power to add tier to all attack rolls made with the bonded item. These attacks ignore all DR and decrease the effectiveness of energy resistances, if applicable, by 5 per tier for the purpose of energy damage caused by the item. All of these are extraordinary, just fyi. This ability is called “penetrating strike.”

“But wait”, I hear you say, “what if I don’t have a bonded item?” Well, for the purpose of this mythic path, a bonded item doesn’t necessarily have to be a bonded item granted from a class feature – any item granted by a class feature, feat or trait with sufficient importance for the character will do; this can include heirlooms, mind blades, etc. – while personally, I wished that the pdf had used a term that was not already “occupied”, once you know this, the path looks less restrictive. The path then proceeds to present 29 (unless I miscounted) 1st tier path abilities, and there are some creative ones to be found here beyond the obligatory one that lets you unlock one of the wielder techniques not previously chosen. Activated lore lets you select an occultist implement school that fits your bonded item. The item then grants you the base focus power as well as resonant powers of the implement. Spellcasters may add the spells to their spell list, and the item has a base allotment of 2+ tier mental focus invested in it; if you are an occultist, you increase your occultist level by ½ tier for the bonded item. You may select Extra Focus for it. Interesting: There is a path ability that lets your item transform into a creature, and if the creature is slain, the item goes dormant as if suppressed for as long as the creature was active. Forms available scale with tier. Minor nitpick: The ability would have been more elegant, if it tracked the rounds spent in creature form on a daily basis, but seeing how the ability costs mythic power to use, I am not adverse to this selection, as it discourages dispelling and renewing prior to battle. Smart design there! Magi can benefit from a path ability that increases the benefits of arcane pool points spent, and there also is a path ability that lets your item awaken as per either the intelligent item or psicrystal rules. There also is an option that makes the item not count as occupying your item slot. There is also a follow-up ability of sorts that lets the item use abilities when you’re dominated, paralyzed, etc. – of course, at the cost of uses of mythic power! I *think* this should only apply to abilities of the item itself, but could be read in a way that would grant the item autonomy over actions of your body, which is probably not intended. A slightly cleaner verbiage would be nice here.

Death charger is interesting – when you deliver the killing blow to a creature “within at least 1 level lower” and regain a daily or weekly charge limit ability, but the power recharged must be equal to or lower than ½ your HD or tier, whichever is lower, and you may only do so mythic tier times within a charge period. Essentially, this rewards you for mook sweeping by recharging limited use abilities, and it is very much cheesable – by design. There is a hard cap to the recharges, and while I am not 100% happy with it, it’s still a refreshing design that goes the inverse route of what we usually see from kill-to-recharge abilities. There also would be a path ability that nets you Leadership and the ability to share emotions with your followers – and let them know, as per augury, where you are or what you intend. I like this one – it has the potential to carry the concept of a whole campaign.

Now, I already mentioned the notion of power-sources, and it should be noted that there is a path ability that lets you choose a power source and treat the item as one or all of your power sources available – the utility of this one is obviously contingent on the amount of Lost Spheres Publishing books your using. You can also leech item charges or uses from it to replenish your own spell levels or power points, which is per se cool and requires very deliberate reading – only daily uses or charges qualify, so no, you can’t RAW get infinite spellcasting or psionic power points, even though it might seem like that for a second. There is also an inverse version, which lets you power your item instead. There are means to grant spell-like or psi-like abilities to the bonded item, make it count as a spell focus/material component substitution (with a scaling value cap based on tier), and there is a path ability that builds on penetrating strike – as a nitpick, this should specify that it requires penetrating strike; while obvious from the context and verbiage, it’d still be nice to have that listed. This also extends to a couple of the higher tier path abilities, so you should be careful when choosing them.

The options here also encompass having the item heal damage as though alive, a brawler’s martial adaptability, and the option to expend mythic power to prevent the use of invested mental focus. There also is a cool means to prevent the expenditure of rage or bloodrage (with a cap that prevents the abuse of kittens for infinite (blood-)rage), bonus charges for bonded staves(wands, a slight bonus pool of power points, and limited replenishment of resources like mental focus, etc. via critical hits – once again with a proper cap. Better resonant powers, item copies (fake shades of Excalibur, anyone?) sacred weapon-like boosts and, if you’re playing with Path of War, there also is the means to get some limited martial maneuvers – and yep, this includes Weapon Group Adaptation, but only for the purpose of the bonded item. There also is a path ability that lets an additional weapon count as bonded, one that merges two item-granting class abilities, and one that enhances your CL and spell DC by enhancement bonus.

Among the 12 3rd tier abilities, we have higher level Path of War maneuver access, the ability to duplicate other items you made, an increase of enhancement bonuses (should have a note that the +5 cap remains in effect), generate temporary magic items, increase the theoretical enhancement bonus maximum by ½ tier (here, the +5 cap remains in effect) or, have the item count as always in your possession – including the means to perceive the area around it. The spell-reference here is not printed properly in italics. Did I mention the ability to have your soul magic jar’d if you die, then to mind swap saps that take it? Yeah, cool!

The pdf closes with 6 6th tier abilities, which, once more, provide higher level Path of War discipline access, more means to bypass slot limits, free uses with some powers, further enhancing of the magic jar trick, additional targets affected by your item abilities, and change abilities between bonded items. Cool! The capstone 10th-tier ability lets you regain a use of mythic power when you defeat a mythic foe who has ONLY taken damage from your bonded item during an encounter.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting, while not always perfect, are pretty impressive – apart from a missed spell-reference and the tendency to not list prerequisites in abilities that build on others, there isn’t anything to seriously complain about – a rather laudable fact, considering that the pdf attempts some complex rules-operations. The pdf adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and only sports the cover artwork of Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres and the pdf’s cover artwork as interior art; it should be noted that there is quite a lot of content jammed inside, so don’t be fooled by the page-count. The supplement comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Christen N. Sowards’ wielder path is a creative and fun mythic path – the item focus is pretty complex, and the emphasis on uncommon power sources such as psychic or psionic energy makes it stand out. There are plenty of cool themes that you can execute with this one, as a whole, I genuinely consider this path to be worth getting and introducing to your game. While it does require some serious system mastery and close-reading, this can be considered to be a great supplement, particularly if you’re like me and are using a plethora of options in your game. All in all, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Situated near the Salt Mire, the halfling village of Underdell, has been seriously impacted by the plague that ravaged Ashford (a classic Village Backdrop!); while paranoia ran rampant, an evil halfling bandit named Vihtori has seized both the day and control. Now, fear is the defining characteristic of this place – and in the PFRPG-version, the massive +10 danger-rating drives home very well how potentially lethal this place can be. This village, if you’ve been following Raging Swan Press’ releases, is thus one of the places situated in the Duchy of Ashlar, but can easily be inserted into pretty much any game.

As always, the supplement does provide information on local nomenclature as well as dressing habits; PCs doing their proper legwork have the chance to unearth more about this place and find, among lore and other things, one of 6 rumors. The theme of fear that has taken a hold of the settlement is a strong one, and one that is reflected in the 20 dressing/event-entries provided: The PCs can, for example, witness halfling children chasing an old woman down the street with stones – but is she infected? Is this an instance of racism? Either way, the PCs will probably want to interfere.

Speaking of events: This pdf goes beyond the usual array: There are 8 keyed locations provided, and all come with their own paragraph of read-aloud text. 4 of these locales have their own, specific event tables, adding further direct adventuring options to the fray. The PFRPG-version does come with both a marketplace-section for the entire village, as well as notes regarding items for sale in the individual locations. Several of the keyed locations also feature some rather cool adventure hooks, which truly benefit from the context of Ashlar, allowing the author to spin some more complex scenarios that extend beyond the confines of the village.

We also get a total of 4 NPCs, depicted, as usual, in the fluff-only iteration that paints them as viable characters, noting mannerisms, background, etc..

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

John Bennett’s Underdell is a pretty nice, gritty little fantasy village. In theme and style, it reminded me of the Bandit Kingdoms in Greyhawk, which I’ve come to love courtesy of Casey Brown’s awesome work at providing a kind of RPG-archaeology/chronicle. That being said, this does lose a bit of its appeal when taken all on its own – it’s very much a puzzle-piece for the Duchy of Ashlar, and particularly in comparison with the author’s other work (seriously: John Bennett wrote some of my favorite village backdrops and GETS dark fantasy/horror like very few do…) , I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed. This is a cool village, and it’s easy and painless to implement, but it’s not as nuanced or unique as the author’s usual work.

This may be a strength for you and the purposes of your game – as a place that won’t hog the entire spotlight, this does a good job. As such, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of RSP's Village Backdrop-series is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look at the settlement!

Laewas, at first glance, looks like your run-of-the-mill farmer’s village – a bit ramshackle and decayed, maybe, but nothing special. At first glance. Village life continues – wives walk the streets, carpenters work, parents shepherd their playing children. The inhabitants laugh and gossip in the sun. There is a single elf, and some halflings roam the streets.

The usual information provided does enhance this sense of normalcy – the dressing habits and nomenclature, all here. We get the by now traditional lore than may be unearthed by savvy players, we get the whisper and rumor table, and the PFRPG-iteration does get the proper village stats and a magic marketplace section.

There’s just one thing that tarnishes the bucolic idyll: All of Laewas’ inhabitants are ghosts. And while the promiscuous and bawdy youth are having a good time, the truth of the town is sinister – its spirits are trapped in a loop; not exactly capable of moving on, not exactly capable of fulfilling their tasks. The ghosts do not know what ended their lives, but crafty PCs may well discern the truth as they explore the village – which btw. includes notes on what the ghosts can and can’t do, as well as 7 keyed locations, all of which feature their own read-aloud section.

4 sample NPCs are included in Raging Swan Press’ classic fluff-only depiction, and from the corn jungle to the other locales, there is plenty to unearth. The village’s dressing/event table deserves special recommendation here, as a couple of entry, such as the ghosts of wild dogs, help PCs logically exclude some potential phenomena.

SPOILER-Warning! Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.


..
.
The supplement does include a properly-depicted artifact as well, which the local wizard used. Yeah. Oh all the cool potential explanations…it’s “A wizard did it.” *sigh* In PFRPG, the burst of negativeenergy that caused this…is also pretty pitiful regarding its damage-output.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's smooth, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks as well as a gorgeous map, of which you can, as always, download high-res jpegs if you join RSP's patreon. The pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

Jeff Gomez’ oddly alive ghost town is a cool angle. I very much enjoyed this village. The solution of the phenomenon is a bit of a disappointment, and seeding various possible means to explain the phenomenon might have been smarter, but that is me complaining at a high level. This still is a good settlement, if one that falls a bit flat of the vast potential its cool angle has. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This adventure clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue, as one of my patreon supports asked me to cover the DCC modules at my convenience.

So, as always, this Dungeon Crawl Classics module does come with a list of encounters; as (almost) always, we have exceedingly well-written read-aloud prose, and, on the less amazing side of things, the cartography provided is awesome, but lacks player-friendly versions, which means that only the judge ever gets to see them – unless you enjoy immersion-breaking numbers and secret doors plainly displayed to your players – and in this module, the latter would deprive them of one of the most brutal challenges within. This would usually suffice to cost the adventure a whole star, but on the plus-side, we get 7 (!!) handouts – 4 of them are one drawing, with shattered tablets against a ruined city backdrop depicting them. This has a certain Ozymandias vibe I enjoyed – but it’s not the coolest of the handouts.

Now, while having a cursory link to Punjar, the module requires just some kind of wasteland in the vicinity, so adapting it to your game shouldn’t be tough. Oh, and while we’re at it: WE NEED A PUNJAR BOXED SET. Adventure hooks are provided, including suggestions to bring deities and patrons into the fray.

…sorry for that, needed to get this out of my system. Anyhow, this adventure is intended for a party of 8th level, which, in DCC, is damn high-level. At this level, we’re talking about warlords, arch-mages and the like – and, if the players managed to get their PCs this high up on the level range, also, hopefully, a corresponding player skill.

You see, thematically, this adventure deals with the notion of the cyclical ages of mankind as a leitmotif, and is infused with a healthy dose of occult cosmology; this is very much a high-impact, unique and potentially campaign-changing module. Oh, and it is HARD. The module explicitly tells the judge not to fudge dice-rolls, invoking a kind of curse, which made me snicker for a second, but I get the notion – you see, the best of DCC-modules stand apart for being brutal, but fair, for grounding their challenge in how they challenge the PLAYERS and not just the PCs. No DCC-adventure I’ve covered so far exemplifies this better than Colossus, Arise!

Have your players by now learned to think carefully whether something makes sense in a dungeon from the purpose of its creators? Have the players learned that not everything can easily be murder-hobo’d? That they need to use the terrain? That they need to think quickly, and that brains beats brawns, that roleplaying beats rollplaying? Well, if not, then they will TPK faster than you can ask them to roll up new gongfarmers. Dumb or careless actions will result in save-or-die-scenarios, so your players should better bring their A-game to the table.

We begin with a random encounter-table for the desert, as the PCs set forth towards the lost city of Stylos…but why?

Well, in order to get into the details, I will need to venture deeply into the SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. Seriously, you don’t want to spoil this one.


..
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All right, only judges around? Great! Untold aeons ago, the champion of chaos Cadixtat was vanquished by the tyrant Teleus, thus establishing a dominance of law over chaos. Much later, when the proto-sub-continent of Lirea sank beneath the waves, a cadre of the mighty Übermneschen back then, the Ur-Lireans, split – some would venture north to become the apocryphal hyperboreans, while other discovered the temple cities that once venerated the mighty titans; when the sands swallowed these cities, the ur-lireans entered the eternal dreams of the black lotus, sleeping the ages away; after an endless slumber, the cities had fallen into ruin, with but the House of Cadixtat remaining.

Where the Ur-Lireans, 12 to 16 feet tall superior beings, were but a shadow of the titans, so had the third age of man, the age of the PCs, spawned a race that might well seem like a degenerate caricature to them – and thus, it is decided. The world would need cleansing. Lacking the strength of numbers required to enact all out genocide, the Ur-Lireans set out on a horrible two-pronged trajectory: For one, they would take people from the third age to generate a slave caste – the “Sons of the Second Age” – 10-foot tall humans “elevated” to being the soldier/slave caste for the Daughters of Cadixtat and their prophetess. Secondly, they would hasten the arrival of the new age, incubating the men of the fourth age – horrible worm-man things; degenerate, sans reason – a flood to cleanse the land in a cataclysm of blood and frothing rage.

Oh, and the old adage applies – that is not dead…they have another ace in the hole.
The PCs are literally the only thing standing between the Ur-Lireans and an age-ending cataclysm. Stakes high enough yet? These cosmic stakes also are represented in the adventure – former PCs, NPC allies that have fallen – in the dungeon, these beings will have one final chance to warn the PCs, help them, etc.
The module drives home the threat-level faced in this module in a fast and furious manner. Exploring the ruins of Stylos not only comes with random encounters – it also pretty much presents the first challenge -. 300 Sons of the Second Age. Yep, the first task is to get past a frickin’ army. The slave masters, with animal-headed masks bolted to their skull, making for a truly wicked caste of henchmen. Indeed, the temple of Cadixtat is brutal and focuses on indirect storytelling – the trauma of apotheosis, the horror of the salve masters and sacrifices – all are things that the PCs get to experience, and PCs not up to their A-game might well be trapped in a deadly trap. Particularly chaotic characters and those casters likely to suffer corruptions should take heed in some regions, and indeed, clerics should be very careful when it comes to their deities’ favor…

And at this point, we have barely gotten past the antechamber sub-level. Did I mention the Vitruvian-man-like door that has a regular version (one handout) and a horribly twisted one (another handout) that the PCs may get to see? Though the latter only briefly, as it’s shown in a vision? Love it! In the House of Cadixtat, the PCs can meet the ageless, but not immortal prophetess of the Ur-Lireans, shielded by living and hungry blue flame. Indeed, as in the best of DCC-modules, the players are rewarded for being smart – there is a scene where 4 gates represent different rewards for world-weary scions of the second age, ostensibly leading to an afterlife. This scene is also represented by a massive handout, with strange glyphs to be potentially deciphered…and it’s a trap. A truly deadly one. Here’s to hoping the PCs learned from a certain jewel-heist in Punjar…

Time and again as the heroes explore the alien horrors of ancient Ur-Lirean making, they will find Hel-Ooze – the horrible ichors of Cadixtat, growing ever more “alive” as the PCs progress – later building walls and crashing towards them in devastating waves – for example, when the PCs happen upon the massive pod-chamber where the men of the fourth age incubate – almost 500 of them! And no, the PCs don’t want to fight these all by hand – particularly since those slain by the degenerate worm-men indeed do return as similar monstrosities…one of these monsters could start an epidemic…

The final sections of the dungeon have the PCs literally move through regions that represent the 4 ages, allowing you to fill in the blanks – or rather, have the players fill in the blanks! That being said, ultimately, the PCs arrive to witness the final sacrifice: The daughters of Cadixtat martyr themselves with the help of the Handmaiden, their leader, to bring back Cadixtat! Between PCs and victory stands the chaos champion – a mighty warrior (Act 4d24, HD 17d10, AC 25, +24 atk…), and the willing martyrs and handmaiden. Ultimately, with a shudder, huge canopic jar leaking Hel-Ooze will shatter, revealing a titan’s brain – and the blackened, tar-like ooze will start taking up rusted weapons for the thing. Which btw. has Act 12d20, and it can dominate PCs. And then, bloodied and by the skin of their teeth, the PCs will have won. Right?

Wrong. The ground trembles. The PCs are hoisted up, as the temple breaks and they are ejected to the surface. And there, it looms. Colossal. Headless. Undead. Infused with pure, primordial fury. Thus, Cadixtat’s headless, undead corpse lurches forward, to bring death to an age.
The PCs stand, alone, between the titan and civilization, with even the Sons of the Second Age falling like wheat before the scythe. Each attack of the titan is devastating, more a force of nature than anything that the PCs can kill, their swords but gnat-bites, their magics but tiny flecks of impotent light. Cadixtat looms, and the undead titan may only be bested if the PCs and players truly understood what they’ve seen – there area couple of ways that the titan may be defeated – all have in common that they are predicated on the players being smart and using the artifact level magics that they’ve witnessed to their best of abilities. Much like when they were 0-level funnel-fodder, they stand before something that they can’t hope to defeat without a combination of wits, luck, and, perhaps, noble sacrifice. FRICKIN’ EPIC.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Goodman games’ two-column b/w-standard, and the module comes with plenty of amazing b/w-artworks and great handouts, which, as mentioned before, help make up for the lack of player-friendly versions of the map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Subtle, this is not. If you want gritty and grimy sword & sorcery, this isn’t that; and yet, it is a perfect example of how you do a high-level sword & sorcery adventure in the best of ways. Like Conan and Red Sonja battling Shuma-Gorath, this manages to blend epic stakes that couldn’t be higher with a sense of groundedness that is hard to achieve – the PCs are mighty, yes, but their opposition is truly epic, and just because your fighter might make Conan or Fafhrd look like a wimps, just because the thief would make the Gray Mouser look like a novice, doesn’t mean that the PCs are now superheroes – unlike traditional D&D-aesthetics, this retains, courtesy of the rules, a plausible baseline. At the same time, this only works, because the epic adventure has writing that is not only a joy to read, but that is intelligent and exceedingly well-designed. The module consequently rewards smart players and engaging with the adventure – it is brutal and deadly, yes. But not once did I consider it to be unfair.

This is a true master-piece.

Very few adventures have blown me away to this extent, particularly since the cover made me expect something…goofy? Gonzo? Instead, I got an epic that shows how an excellent writer can make just about any concept, even ones that would be utterly cheesy, work perfectly – to the degree where I guarantee that there will be high-fives, goosebumps and the cheers at the table; that the players will talk about this for years. 5 stars + seal of approval, oh, and this gets my “Best of…”-tag as one of the best adventures I know. It’s so good, I’d genuinely consider it even more of a system-seller than e.g. “Jewels of the Carnifex”, “Blades Against Death” or similar gems. Seriously, if you even remotely like epic sword & sorcery, get this.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This installment of the Starfarer Adversaries-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 3 pages of content, one page of which is devoted to a one-page version of the creature-artwork, suitable to act as a handout.

All right, in space nobody hears you scream? Well, kind of. But some undead, namely the void banshee, send distress signals through the bleak infinity, compelled to investigate. The pdf presents three different iterations of the void banshee – one at CR 3, one at CR 7 and one at CR 12. Void banshees are incorporeal undead. They have perfect maneuverability and should specify, that their fly-speed is supernatural, which they, as presented, do not. The builds use the expert array, and the grafts have been properly applied. Bluff, Intimidate and Stealth are the master skills, with Acrobatics and Sense Motive.

The void banshee’s damage is contingent on the values of her spells, which brings me to an important note: This absolutely REQUIRES Starfarer’s Companion to be used. The main improvements of the banshees are SPs, and these almost exclusively draw from said book. At this point, it should come as no surprise that I’m not happy with that, as the level 9 spellcasting interacts weirdly with the SPs: Wail of the banshee, for example, has a massive DC 26 for a CR 12 critter, which is 5 higher than the ability DC, and 3 higher than a monster usually can have at the CR. Since Starfinder usually has a 6-level spellcasting system. Not a fan.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level; not perfect, but it can be used sans major snafus. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I am not a big fan of Jacob Blackmon’s void banshees, primarily due to their reliance on Starfarer’s Companion and the ensuing oddness. I also couldn’t help but feel that they could have used a couple more unique things…perhaps something locking ships down so they don’t escape? The concept is cool, but the execution could be more exciting. It’s not bad, but neither is it particularly mind-blowing. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Psionics Augmented-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ½ a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 16.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This pdf depicts the new voyager base class, which is unique in plenty of ways, but we’ll get to that later. The voyager gets d6 HD, 6 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and one martial weapon as well as light armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The voyager may, starting at 1st level, use Disable Device to disable magic traps, and when doing so, may expend psionic focus to roll twice on the Disable Device check, taking the better result. If it#s possible to take 10, the voyager may take 10 and roll the other roll, taking the better result when using this ability. The class begins with one power known, and learns one new power every level, and powers are governed by Intelligence as key ability modifier. The voyager begins play with 1 power point and increases that to 128 at 20th level, with the maximum power-level known being 6th. Said powers are drawn from a custom powers-list. Save-wise, the voyager gets good Reflex and Will-saves, and the class has a ¾ BAB-progression. 2nd level nets evasion, 6th uncanny dodge, 9th level improved uncanny dodge, and 12th level unlocks improved evasion.

The class begins play with the Accelerate ability – which nets the Speed of Thought feat as a bonus feat, and at 3rd level and every 5 levels later, the bonus granted by the feat increases by a further +10 feet, and when expending psionic focus to power the feat, the bonus to movement is doubled instead of providing a fixed increase. The voyager has a momentum engine from the get-go: When moving, the voyager generates 1 point of momentum per 10 feet moved. Unwilling movements (reposition, bull rush, etc.), or e.g. a hostile teleport do not generate momentum. The voyager can hold up to class level points of momentum, and momentum is applied as a dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves, though thankfully, this caps at Intelligence modifier. When making an attack against a single target, the voyager may spend points of momentum, increasing damage caused by +1d6. This should have a scaling cap per attack. Otherwise, a 5th level voyager could spend momentum to add +5d6 to damage (+5 Intelligence modifier not being uncommon at this level). It should also be noted that the voyager fails to include the caveat that prevents these bonus damage dice from being multiplied on a critical hit. Whenever the voyager spends at least 1 point of momentum on an attack, she also gains a +2 bonus on the attack roll. This should be a typed bonus. This is noted explicitly as not the same structure, as the momentum becomes expanded, allowing for so-called augmented attacks. Momentum is lost each round – half of the momentum gained is lost each round. The pdf fails to specify whether you round up or down. At 8zth level, as a swift action, the voyager may choose a creature within close range and count as having the maximum bonus to AC and Reflex saves possible via momentum.

2nd level provides the manifestation of speed ability, which allows for augmented attacks. These require the expenditure of momentum, psionic power points or both, and are a standard action. The maximum number of combined points that may be spent are equal to the manifester level of the voyager, and the decision must be made before spending. There are two abilities here: The blink ability allows for 5 ft. of teleportation per power point spent on the various augmented attack options, while momentum expenditure allows for 5 ft. of movement per point of momentum spent on the augmented attack. Both of these types of movement generate momentum, which is gained AFTER the augmented attack is made. Formal complaint: A whole paragraph here is printed twice, which should have really been caught in editing. Beyond these base modifications of augmented attacks, additional effects may be added to an augmented attack, though each of them can only be applied once per augmented attack. Power channel lets the voyager manifest a power with a manifesting time of 1 standard action or less taken from the voyager’s list (or via Expanded Knowledge) as part of the augmented attack. The power chosen must have a range of personal or be a single-target power, including touch-based and ray-based powers. Powers with variable targets and Split Ray’d ones may explicitly NOT be used in conjunction with this one, and there is a reason for this: Psionic powers used in conjunction with augmented attacks don’t provoke AoOs. Non-personal powers are channeled via the weapon, on a miss, well, missing. Critical hits don’t apply the benefits to powers, thankfully.

Starting at 5th level, the voyager may use standard action-based combat maneuvers instead of weapon attacks as augmented attacks, which ties in with the Momentous Maneuvers ability also gained at this level. When spending momentum on a combat maneuver check, which the voyager now may, they gain +2 (untyped, should be typed) to combat maneuver checks per point of momentum spent, capping at 2 + ½ voyager level. I assume rounded down here, but the pdf doesn’t specify that. Damaging combat maneuvers now also allows for the application of the momentum bonus damage. Additionally, the voyager is treated as having Dexterity and Intelligence 13 for Combat Expertise, Improved Unarmed Strike and improved combat maneuver feats.

At 9th level, the voyager can manifest a psionic power with a manifestation time of 1 standard action or less before or after the augmented attack, which is not delivered through the weapon and needs not target the voyager. Double-cast? Ouch. This would be utterly broken – were it not for the hard cap on momentum/power points spent, which is the thing that keeps this mighty engine in check. At 17th level, this is further delimited, applying for psionic powers with a manifestation time of 1 round or less, before or after the augmented attack. Note that the no-AoO-caveat is global and applies to this second manifestation as well!

13th level nets the ability to expend psionic focus to teleport the distance she could have traveled via the blink or dash base abilities, make an augmented attack versus every creature directly between the start and end points of this movement, making one attack and damage roll versus every target, and momentum to enhance damage applies to the roll (OUCH). The damage decreases by -2 per attack that hits beyond the first. While aforementioned power channeling applies only one creature struck, this ability allows for the use of area or multi-target effects and apply it to every creature struck. This can be REALLY powerful, and looks odd to me. While the manifester level still caps the total points spent, this is one that may require some GM oversight. Personally, I am not confident in the tying of the cap to manifester level, as there are plenty of means to increase this. Tying this very powerful engine to class levels would have probably been more prudent.

Beyond momentum, the voyager also begins play with parallel initiative. When a voyager rolls initiative, they roll initiative for a parallel turn, the second roll at -8. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the voyager gains a+4 bonus to parallel initiative, culminating at +12 at 19th level. Abilities to reroll initiative may apply to either the regular or the parallel turn. Parallel turns may be delayed, as though a normal initiative. Okay, so, do fixed bonuses from class features and e.g. Improved Initiative also apply to the initiative of parallel turns? I assume no, but clarification would have been nice. During a parallel turn, a voyager can use a single parallel action she knows, and these are supernatural abilities, stemming from the alternative past/future/alternate reality selves. They require cognizant thought to use, so e.g. dominate would impede them, and parallel actions do not provoke attacks of opportunity, and movement and teleportation as a result of parallel actions do not trigger AoOs either. They require line of sight unless otherwise noted, though teleportation-based ones don’t require line of effect. Save DCs, if any, are DC 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier, and Ability Focus may be used for parallel actions – for ALL of them. This should only apply to one, analogue to the usual use of the feat. The pdf has a “see page x”-reference left here.

A voyager learns the helping hand parallel action for free act 1st level, which allows for unattended object manipulation as though move/standard action had been spent; alternatively, this allows the voyager to preserve momentum, not losing half of it.
Parallel actions beyond this are grouped in different categories that are level-locked. At 1st level, the voyager gains two combat assistance parallel actions, chosen from a list of 5. The first lets you choose 3 skills from the class skills when gaining this ability; said skills plus AC and attacks may be aided another to the voyager or an adjacent ally. 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter increase the bonus by a further +1, and this bonus may not be affected by other abilities. The second ability allows for 5 ft.-movement or standing up from prone position, escape entanglement or grapple effects. Another allows a voyager to designate an adjacent square as additional origin for flanking purposes and for AoOs, adding class level to AoO-damage; another allows for a designation of a path that she may traverse at full speed, even if they would cost her additional movement. Does damaging terrain still apply? Charges and similar straight line-based movements may be freely changed, and movements in said squares does not provoke AoOs. Okay, can this be applied to 3D-movement? Can the voyager pass through damaging walls unimpeded? This needs clarification. There is also a parallel action that allows for a Will-save or lock the creature out of AOOs, or an Int-based feint.

3rd level unlocks 2 time manipulation parallel actions, chosen from a list of 3: The first is a movement boost at the cost of being temporarily staggered; the second is a rewind to the afterimage’s position, with psionic focus expenditure, including hit points tracked. (Temporary hit points in excess of maximum hp not included.) What’s afterimage? At 3rd level, the voyager may 1/round as a free action create an afterimage in Medium range. This afterimage has no physical reality, but may be treated as a source for parallel actions, and the afterimage may be moved at the parallel turn, with distance scaling. The afterimage may move in any direction, but not through obstacles that the voyager couldn’t pass through. Afterimages are translucent, and may be used to Stealth. While it’s evident from the verbiage, it’d have been nice for the ability to state explicitly that they don’t block line of sight or effect. Thirdly, we have the ability to pause, which duplicates time hop (not italicized properly) for targets adjacent to the voyager for 1 round. These creatures leave a phantom image behind, and, big kudos, targets can’t be kept in a loop, as there is a 1-round cooldown.

At 7th level, we get 2 manifesting support parallel actions, chosen from a list of 3. One allows for psionic focus regain as a move action or in conjunction with moving up to half her speed, or as a swift action if she has Psionic Meditation. Power echo lets the voyager hold an echo of a manifestation, getting half power points refunded if spamming the psionic power for a second time, but only for the second power. Good call: Doesn’t work with other power point refunds. Finally, we have a sae-penalty for those adjacent to the afterimage and the ability to use powers through the afterimage’ s location. 11th level unlocks one advanced assistance parallel action. Keep watch lets the voyager see invisible creatures that could be seen by both afterimage and regular position, and makes the voyager count as occupying regular and afterimage square for sensory purposes. Paradox shift nets a protection for a creature within 5 ft., granting 50% miss chance – both for attacks versus, but also regarding those executed by the target.

15th level provides one backup plan parallel action, chosen from a list of 2: Emergency stasis allows for the use of the parallel action and expenditure of the psionic focus as an immediate action to prevent the death of a target and place it in stasis for a limited number of rounds. Secondly, there would be the option to basically benefit from advantage on a single d20 roll, which also may be activated as an immediate action. Finally, 19th level yields the single parallel intrusion parallel action, which nets a single round’s worth of actions as though affected by temporal acceleration, wherein she does not get a parallel action, though. Thankfully, this one has a one-minute cooldown, making it just very, very, very powerful, and not utterly broken. Personally, I would have increased the cooldown to hours (plural), but that may be me, as the effect per se is incredibly strong.

Okay, that’d be the base parallel action engine. 4th level nets the ability to store excess power points from parallel timelines. This power point pool contains 1/3rd of her maximum power points (I assume rounded down). Including Intelligence modifier. Weird: Why isn’t this tied to any mechanical specialty? RAW, it just is a power point pool increase, when it kinda looks like it was at one point supposed to be tied into the parallel action engine. Also at 4th level, we have Expanded Knowledge as a bonus feat, and the option to choose a feat instead of a power known when leveling up thereafter, with the total number of maximum feats thus gained limited by class level. The feats available are governed by power-level replaced and are drawn from a fixed list, which is a nice angle. 5th level provides astral voyager, which nets astral traveler as a power known, and astral caravan as a psi-like ability that may be maintained for companions within close range. 10th and 15th level further improve this ability. 6th level nets ½ class level as a bonus to Knowledge checks and allows for their untrained use, and at 7th level, taking 20 no longer distracts the voyager re Perception and halves the time needed to take 20.

At 10th level, the voyager may use her swift action to use a parallel action, though the same action can’t be used twice in a given round. 11th level nets endless, which allows for the willing suspension or restart of the aging process. 14th level nets a separate HP pool equal to maximum hit points, and then allows the voyager to change hit point pools as a full-round action. Healing may be applied to active or non-active pools. At 16th level, we have 1/day psychic reformation that only targets herself, takes 10 minutes and applies no penalties. As a capstone, we have the ability to have a future self come back from an alternate timeline after the voyager dies, allowing for a second chance of sorts. Cool! When a voyager takes a PrC, momentum increases when manifester level would increase.

Part II of my review can be found here!


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Mephians in the Xa-Osoro system are natives of Terros, a relaxed and community-driven species that has endured their fair share of prejudice, courtesy of their looks and ability to exude a type of musk akin to the skunks they resemble. And yes, get out all your Pepe Le Pew jokes now. :) (As aside, a mephian Casanova with Gambit-esque ambitions was pretty much immediately a compelling character-concept I came up with…)

The pdf presents a mephian subtype graft, but fails to note the subtype in the race’s viral statistics, which is a bit of a guffaw. Mephians receive +2 Constitution, 4 Hit Points, are Medium, and when wearing armor, they gain a +1 racial bonus to AC; while wearing heavy armor, they armor check penalty is 1 less severe. Mephians gain Skill Focus at 1st level, but must choose Diplomacy or Sense Motive. They choose two skills at character creation and add them to the list of class skills; if either is already a class skill, they instead gain a +2 racial bonus to skill checks attempted with both skills. This allows for some seriously potent minmaxing regarding Diplomacy and Sense Motive in particular. Mephians may, as a standard action, secrete a musk and attempt a melee attack against an opponent’s EAC. On a successful hit, the foe must succeed on a DC 10 + ½ mephian’s level + key ability modifier or become sickened for 10 minutes. Creatures with blindsense (scent) or similar abilities suffer a -4 penalty on this save. Mephians, nonliving creatures and those without a sense of smell are immune. Whether or not the target makes the save, they are immune to this ability for 24 hours. After 3 uses, they cannot use it again until they spend 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina.

The pdf has 2 supplemental feats: Keen Scent nets a mephian with 1 rank in Perception blindsense (scent) 30 ft., and at the same prerequisite, we have Musk Diffusion. This makes the target hit with your musk emit the smell in a 10 ft.-radius or sicken allies for a shorter duration. This gets the musk caveat right.

Now, races, as I often remark, are more than just their rules: As such, this pdf goes into surprising and compelling details regarding mephian culture – the book includes notes on “If you’re a Mephian, you likely…” and “Others probably…” These really made me smile: “Other probably…Are confused when they see you wearing pants.” XD (Fyi, as the write-up notes – the musk glands are in the tail, not in the posterior…) Interesting – while in many regards akin to humans in how they mature, mephians are often bisexual, sporting obviously a different type of community fabric than we do. And yes, I had the gambit idea before reading this tidbit of information.)This is also represented in the cool notion of switching child rearing duties for years on end! In their pretty wholesome and positive society, this actually works and is something the kinds (and parents!) benefit from. (Mephians also have a genetic propensity for having issues with seeing across long distances, though genetic therapy helps. Still, contact lenses and glasses are common.

Very cool: We get a full vital statistics table, which includes maximum and minimum age, height and weight – love that these are included. The mephians’ home world is btw. unmarred by the dread blood space phenomenon. As an aside – the notes on their cuisine actually made me hungry. Lizard fillet marinated in chilli and spice, served atop rice and befswan, with popling beetles soaked in wine that are roasted until exoskeletons pop? Yes, please! (I actually have eaten grasshoppers and insect-protein burgers IRL – they are DELICIOUS.) Their leaders, btw.? They’re called “councilfolx” – I don’t know why, but that struck me as charming and very much fitting. All in all, it is this section, the culture and flavor that elevates the race to feeling unique and distinct.

Conclusion:
Editing is very good on a rules-language level; on a formal level, there are quite a couple of uncharacteristic (near-)homophone/autocorrect glitches herein: “Gland” is referred to as “glade”, we have “tale” instead of “tail” and e.g. “taste of spell” instead of “taste of smell”; no deal breakers, but enough of them to be noticeable. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ mephians are a cool race – I really like the kind and community-minded skunk people, and there is some serious style to them. The fact that they make great envoys is, of course, particularly funny. All in all, this is a neat race; I’m not 100% blown away by them, but they are charming. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars. If the typos bother you, round down. If you value cool flavor and a race that feels organic over the pdf not being perfect, round up instead. As a reviewer, I feel I have to round down on this one – the musk could have carried a bit more than what’s here.

Endzeitgeist out.


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