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An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised editionEndzeitgeist —
The revised edition of this expansion for the Spheres of Power-system clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a brief flavor-introduction, we start with the archetype section, but this time around, it is more prudent to skip ahead and return to these later, for this supplement, unlike previous Spheres-expansions, presents a wholly new sphere, the Blood Sphere.
The base ability of this sphere would be Blood Control: As a standard action, you establish a link to the blood of a target creature within close range. Unwilling targets receive a Fortitude save to prevent the establishing of the link, and targets at less than half maximum hit points or currently suffering from bleed damage suffer a -4 penalty to this saving throw. Creatures immune to bleed damage due to type, subtype or template are immune to blood control, but sources that otherwise bestow immunity do NOT prevent the use of blood control – an important distinguishing component that retains the sphere’s viability. A creature affected by blood control may use a mental-only standard action to repeat the Fortitude saving throw, which may even be used when dazed or nauseated. A second creature attempting to establish blood control over a target already controlled must succeed on a magic skill check.
As part of establishing blood control, you may also apply one (quicken) or (still) ability, and once established, a standard action may be used to apply additional of these effects, unless otherwise noted, as a standard action. This doubles as counting as concentration on ongoing blood control. If you can concentrate as a move action, this may work in conjunction with such sped up effects as well.
As you could glean from that, the tags to look out for among the effects are (quicken) and (still) – and you probably have deduced that these cancel each other out, not unlike the modes of certain antipodean casters or solarians: A (still) talent ends a (quicken) talent and vice versa (typo there – it’s “vice”, not “vise”, but that’s cosmetic only) – a target can’t be affected by both a (quicken) and (still) talent at the same time, with the new effect superseding the old one. Notice something? If you’re reading my review on my homepage, you’ll have noticed that blood control is now properly rendered in italics – this greatly enhances the readability of the at times complex rules presented within.
The blood sphere nets Bleed (quicken, which causes caster level damage that may not be stilled until blood control ends; Coagulate (still) is the inverse, and reduces bleed damage by 1 + 1 per 3 caster levels, and creatures using abilities that would cause bleed effects must succeed a magic skill check to avoid having the damage negated. Non-magic means substitute the BAB instead – yep, this is Spheres of Might compatible with e.g. blooded strike.
There are, unless I have miscounted, 24 blood sphere basic talents included, so let’s take a look at some of them – and let us begin with the untagged ones. Self Control allows yourself to be treated as always under the effects of your own blood control, and allows you to use (quicken) or (still) abilities on yourself as a swift action. You also don’t count towards the limit of Mass Control. This talent allows you to spend an additional spell point to target 1 additional creature per 2 caster levels (minimum 1) within range, with all needing to be affected by the same ability. This additional cost only applies once when used in conjunction with blood control. (Nice catch!) Slick penalizes targets under the effect of your blood control regarding CMD versus maneuver like disarm, trip, etc., and the effect may be started and ended as a free action. Interesting to note: While this is an untagged talent, it has a second use that is designated as (quicken), namely the means to make the blood potentially having the target fall prone; for spell point expenditure, this can render the blood a slick patch that may make others that enter it fall as well.
Red Mist lets you evaporate blood streaming forth from blood control’d victims, generating concealment, with the option of spell point expenditure to increase the area of effect. Kudos: This does get interaction with winds, sight, etc. – and it has a cool angle: You can choose to take Constitution damage to make all creatures in the mist treated as though they were bleeding for the purpose of blood control saves. There is a talent called Lengthened Control that allows you to make blood control last longer – useful for buffing, as you can still, obviously, save; Lingering Control lets your blood control remain in effect for a number of rounds after you cease concentrating on it Hemorrhage increases the damage output of bleed (quicken); Improved Range extends range, and Improved Bleed increases the DC to stop the bleed (quicken) ability. Really cool: Mana Bleed allows you to drain away spell points or spell slots, with equivalents provided and the loss increasing based on caster levels. This can be combined with Absorb Blood to grant temporary spell points, though thankfully it does have an anti-abuse caveat. Absorb Blood allows you to grant temporary hit points and cause Constitution damage to heal damage, and much to my pleasant surprise, the latter has a spell point cost that prevents the ability from being cheesed – and yes, Mass Control synergy does exist, and yes, this combination still retains its rules-integrity.
Blood Tracking may be taken twice, rendering you always aware of blood control’d and bleeding targets, and even blindsight for such targets upon taking it a second time. Crimson Vortex allows you to create a kind of blood sphere trap that may be maintained and moved, with spell point expenditure as a means to increase the radius. Exsanguinating Strike allows for use of blood control in conjunction with attacks, including Spell Attack. Inject lets you increase casting duration of blood control and take Constitution damage and make a ranged or melee touch attack (ranges tightly defined!), and if you have Hemokinesis, you may hold this charge. If successful, the target is treated as though bleeding for the purposes of blood control save penalty, and you get to ignore SR for the purpose of Blood sphere effects for some time. Cool: Immersion in water etc. may end the effect. More importantly: This talent does allow you to bypass type/subtype/template-based Blood sphere immunity. And yes, Mass Control synergy is provided.
What is Hemokinesis? Well, it is a kind of blood-themed telekinesis with multiple options, including synergy with Slick, the option to make Blood Constructs (yep, you can make them with the right talent!) fly, generate arcs of blood that may blind targets or even transmit alchemical effects or diseases. (Yep, Spheres of Might fans – Alchemy-synergy!) With Greater Blood Control, you can spend an addition spell point or increase casting time by one step to apply two effects of a (quicken) or (still) talent. (This gets action economy discrepancy verbiage right – good catch.)
Since I already mentioned the option to make blood construct, let us take a look at the tagged talents – which btw. sometimes tend to have (quicken/still) noted – yep, there are quite a few that offer more than one option. Manipulate Health acts as a kind of variant status, with means to make diseases nasty or get rid of them added. Manipulate Alchemy is a pretty genius one, as it allows you to exert your control over blood to affect the circulation and potency of formulae, potions and poisons, including the means to force such effects from a target. Control Oxygen provides a variant haste that thankfully can’t be stacked atop similar effects, and also comes with options for fatigue-based condition manipulation. And yep, it has a cooldown to prevent abuse of e.g. constant rage-cycling exploits. Note: In a VERY limited manner, this still allows for very limited rage-cycling, but not to an extent that would exceed options already available.
The Blood Puppet (quicken) talent does what you think it does – it lets you control targets over their blood! AWESOME. Migraine is a sickening pain effect, while the (still) talent Numb acts as a nasty deduff. Big plus: Interaction with other spheres like Duelist, Divination, etc. is provided.
Among the advanced talents, we have 3: Puppet Master lets you make all puppets perform the same sequence; Sanguine Minion enhances your blood constructs, Overclock is an upgrade of the oxygen-controlling haste effect, though at the cost of burn – still, awesome! Drain Lifeblood lets you cause Constitution bleed, and Arrest Flow (still) is restricted to high levels and can render the target unconscious. These are well-placed as advanced talents – potent, yet tight. Like them!
Okay, now that we know how the Blood Sphere operates, let’s take a look at the 3 archetypes included: the Bloodscarred symbiat replaces Linguistics with Bluff and uses Charisma as governing class ability and spellcasting ability score. Mental powers are replaced with the Blood sphere, and, since they have a strong vampire angle, the bloodscarred gets the option to check the presence of undead, a scaling bite attack (including high-level minor temporary hit points that will not unbalance the game), wall clinging, darkvision (or darkvision range increase), mist form and a Mind Control variant. Psionics are replaced with the ability to ignore the negative effects of negative levels and a capstone that enhances their vampiric domination. Nice one.
Hemophage bloodragers are only proficient with simple weapons, light armor and bucklers and is a Low-Caster using Charisma, with class level + Charisma modifier spell points. Fast movement and bloodline feats, if the proficiency list was not enough indicator, are lost in favor of blended training. Instead of a bloodline, these folks can access bloodlines by drinking the blood of creatures with the appropriate bloodline or associated creatures, gaining use of the bloodline powers. Big plus: No, you can’t cheese the ability to gain infinite use bloodline powers by cycling bloodlines. Blood must be harvested fresh, but a limited amount of special draughts may be prepared, with creature-sizes and draughts they can provided noted. Nice: This, probably by design, arrives at similar caps as my own blood-based designs and those of similar supplements. A handy list is provided for suggested types and bloodlines, and per se, only the bloodrager’s core bloodlines may be taken thus, though your home-game may allow for more. The bloodrage enhancement abilities are modified to work in conjunction with the sphere-system instead.
The Hemetic philosopher alchemist gains all knowledge skills as class skills and is an Intelligence-based Mid-Caster with class level + Intelligence modifier spell points and a magic talent gain with every caster level attained. Throw anything and bombs are replaced with the Blood sphere, using class level as CL. Swift alchemy and poison use/resistance/immunity are replaced at 3rd level with crimson vials. The character can spend one minute to create a temporary potion, which may be done as a full-round action for one spell point. This does provoke an AoO, and the potion only lasts for 1 hour per class level and its complexity may not exceed 1 per 3 class levels. The archetype can have up to Intelligence modifier such potions, and the character can create potions at a lower caster level. Since the potion is made from his blood, this doesn’t cost gold, but requires a scaling save that causes damage – and this damage MAY NOT BE HEALED save via resting. Higher levels allows you to ignore sphere prerequisites, but at the cost of an increased DC.
The pdf also offers means for alchemists to take the Blood Potion feat, and a rage power that provides minor healing to barbarians (can’t be cheesed, based on limited resource); beyond that, we do get a nice incanter sphere specialization, a prodigy imbue sequence (HOORAY!!!) that lets you extract blood constructs as finishers (awesome) the Monster troubadour trope that lets you smell fear, climb, healed by negative energy – very Hyde-like. There also would be the Path of the Moroi for the Wraith class (review forthcoming).
The book contains 14 new feats, with aforementioned Blood Potion allowing you to create potions that may only ever affect you, but you can activate multiple ones, or do so as a swift action. Gaining blood drain, acidic or burning blood (good ole’ Geralt’s Black Blood, anyone?) – cool. The latter burning/acidic blood can be weaponized via Hemokinesis. Want a humor familiar? You can have that. You can wrap extracted blood constructs as a kind of blood-based power-armor around willing allies (OUCH!), and e.g. feats to negate AoOs, adding (form) talents to constructs, combining death and blood – nice. Champion feats, though, are, with the options for Blood-using Duelists can attain their weaponry to blood spilled, for example: Bloodmonger and Spell Attack are reproduced here. Of course, an (Admixture) feat for Destruction-users may be found. Reservoir nets you blood points that you may, for example, store in a new item – crimson flasks. The points can be used to mitigate the Constitution damage/bleed costs of Blood sphere abilities, fyi.
The book contains two rituals: Water from blood is level 0 and does what it says on the tin (love it), and lifeblood sacrifice lets you kill a willing or helpless creature to restore life to a dead target. There also is a neat level 5 incantation, steal lifeblood, which allows you to go Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed and become younger via blood. Speaking of which – yep there is a blood bath artifact. Oh yeah. At +1, the thirsty weapon special ability also ties in with the aforementioned Reservoir engine as basically a storage extension. Rules for crafting Blood sphere items in conjunction with the sphere-crafting rules can be found.
Absolutely awesome: There are optional rules provided that propose blood as spell component and focus, or as a substitute for alchemical components. Oread blood as acid flasks, for example. This may just be a page, and just a start, but I LOVE it. It makes adventuring matter. Aforementioned blood constructs: 7 stats, from CR 1/3 to 11, with familiar notes where applicable, are provided. We also get stats for the CR 1/3 humoral ooze and CR 3 mosquito swarms. The book closes on one final, triumphant inclusion that I got ready to complain about when opening it for the first time: Yes, it does come with its own, custom 100-entry strong Wild Magic-table! AWESOME.
Part II of my review of the revised edition can be found here!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Mythic plugins provided by Legendary Games clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of SRD (though one of these contains an artwork and Wounded Paw Gambit), 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, though, as always for these books, it should be noted that there is quite a lot of text crammed into this supplement.
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.
Now, as always, we get a metric ton of feats in this supplement – this time around, we cover all the feats that are included in the Advanced Class Guide. Organization-wise, we first get an alphabetical list, and then one that groups them by type. This is per se cool, but unlike some installments in the series, the first list is not internally hyperlinked.
All right, as always, I can’t go through all the 100+ feats in this supplement feat-by-feat without wrecking the utility of this review utterly; as such, my focus here will instead be to provide an overview of the material contained within. The mythic iteration of Aberrant Tumor allows you to choose any familiar allowed to wizards as tumor familiar, and said tumor familiar gets one alchemist discovery chosen from a list, with your level substituted for prerequisites. You gain the benefits of the discovery while the familiar is attached. Amateur Investigator nets you an investigator talent, Amateur Swashbuckler a limited array of panache points and a 3rd-level deed. Both have trade-in option available and the former does mention the caveats that take into account when a talent would require a base ability to modify – it’s not gained. Animal Soul optionally allows you to be affected by animal-targeting spells, and mythic power expenditure lets you affect your companion. Minor nitpick: Unlike in the big book, this one does miss an italicization here. This is not the only such minor formatting snafu herein: Believer’s Hands, for example, does not properly bold “Prerequisites” and “Benefit” – this one, just fyi, makes your character level act as paladin level, and nets you a mercy for every three tiers.
Anticipate Dodge provides knowledge of the target’s dodge bonus, as well as numerical escalation, adding ½ mythic tier to the base feat’s bonuses. Battle Cry is another example for such an escalation in numbers, doubling the bonuses granted, and allowing for the expenditure of mythic power to increase duration. Another such twist would be e.g. Befuddling Strike – here, we have a DC-increase as well as the option to use more than one per round. Finally, this one allows you to substitute mythic power expenditure for daily uses. Winter’s Strike also allows for the use of mythic power in that manner. Confounding Tumble Deed would be another example of such an option, as would Distracting Charge. Killing Flourish presents a neat example here: +1/2 tier to Intimidate, +full tier for one mythic power use.
Blasting Charge is a straight up damage increase, with double the increase available for mythic power expenditure, and there are quite a few of those: Canny Tumble or Coordinated Shot, to name two, provide a static bonus increase. The Jabbing Style feat tree provides a similar increase, save that here it pertains the size of bonus damage die employed – the Jabbing Dancer feat, however, allows for pretty free maneuverability within the reach of targets hit, which can be a godsend. Dual Enhancement is nice for TWFing characters, as it allows you to spend a use of mythic power to apply the special ability to the second weapon as well.
There are plenty of tactically more interesting options within as well: Channeled Blessing, for example, adds channel energy to the delivery of channeled blessings, and allows for the use of mythic power to extend the blessing’s effects – and, here’s the kicker, domains and revelations allow for the use in conjunction with this ability as well. The latter may just be a line, but it’s a big one. The mythic iteration of Barroom Brawler makes you count as both monk and fighter, with 8th and 10th level providing an additional combat feat at a given time. Blessed Striker makes your attacks also be treated as magic and epic. Disarming Threat Deed allows you in its mythic iteration to have the target remain indifferent for mythic power expenditure. Gruesome Slaughter provides a DC-increase, and similarly, Improved Awesome Blow provides an escalation of numbers. Surprise Maneuver nets you +1/2 tier to the maneuver check, Twist Away to Reflex saves – you get the idea.
Interesting and testament that the LG-crew is very much cognizant of the evolution of the game: Extra Arcanist Exploit, for example, allows you to poach psychic phrenic amplifications, alchemist discoveries, magus arcana or witch hexes, and Extra Inspiration lets you spend mythic power to replenish your inspiration pool if it’s empty – no, it can’t be cheesed. Extra Martial Flexibility nets you access to the mythic feat’s iteration as well and slayers get to choose material from the vigilante’s arsenal with Extra Slayer Talent. Kudos for not staying just within the design-paradigm of the books released up to and including the ACG! Indeed, such flexibility is a theme in more than one instance: Flexible Hex may be shifted an additional time per day; Flexible Wizardry allows for an additional spell to be prepared. Unfettered Familiar also gets an additional daily use.
Want to play a fanatic? With the mythic versions of Extreme Prejudice and Seething Hatred, you get d10 sneak attack dice and can spend mythic power for triple damage versus the targets of your hatred! Ouch! There are delimiters, like Improved Studied Combatant (bonus equals character level, no limits on how often per day a target may be affected), which act as means to provide a soft form of gestalting, which, considering the vast power of mythic gameplay, seems feasible.
Tactically really cool: Intercept Charge nets you a bonus to AC, which you may, per mythic power expenditure, apply versus all of that opponents attacks, making pounce etc. less of a painful proposal for the knights saving their squishy buddies. Lunging Spell Touch’s mythic iteration gets rid of the -2 penalty to AC versus the creature on a hit; for mythic power expenditure, the hit-clause drops away. Manifest Blood is intriguing, as it penalizes attacking creatures with negative conditions on a failed Fortitude save. Nice: Raging Absorption has an anti-abuse caveat for its bloodrage-replenishing effects.
Margherita Tramontano, Jason Nelson and Julian Neale have my utmost respect for this one. Making mythic feat upgrades can be rather hard work, and personally, there are few books where I’d consider that statement to be as true as the ACG. It’s no secret that I am not a fan of the Advanced Class Guide at the best of days; the book represents, to me a design dead-end, and one that thankfully was abandoned when Occult Adventures, Ultimate Intrigue etc. were released. That being said, there are plenty of components in the ACG that I *do* like and consider to be worth salvaging, and having the mythic upgrades done for me? Heck yeah, that’s a level of convenience I very much applaud. That being said, plenty of the base feats simply didn’t have that much to work with – where the options in the later books provided breadth that the Legendary Games-crew used to broaden the options further, the ACG is all about the escalation of numbers.
Bearing this in mind, and consulting the source material feats the designers had to work with, this book must be lauded as a success. While there isn’t as much in the ways of novel options or far-out new gambits, what this one has wrought from the often rather thin premises of the base feats certainly deserved to be applauded. This may not be my favorite in the series, sure – but a) that was to be expected, courtesy of the source materials, and b) it certainly is the one that I’m most happy about not having to do it on my own. ;)
All in all, I consider this to be a collection of upgrades worth owning, and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
A Cursory Dissection of Doomsday DawnEndzeitgeist —
An Endzeitgeist.com article
So, honestly, I wrestled with myself on whether or not to post this, because, ultimately, I don’t want to come off as a doomsayer or overtly negative regarding a system I am very much excited for. However, multiple folks asked me to share my thoughts on the subject matter of this adventure-anthology, so here goes.
It should be noted that this is no traditional review; the reasons for this will become evident over the course of this discussion. I will not dissect this module regarding its mechanics, as, considering the playtest-nature of the whole enterprise, that wouldn’t really be helpful – particularly due to the fact that I think that the problems of this adventure do not lie within either mechanics or the playtesting module concept per se.
I am going to SPOIL a lot of Doomsday Dawn’s plot, so if you haven’t already finished it, please be aware of that. I also assume that you know about the module’s plot below.
So, Doomsday Dawn is a bit of a centaur-like entity, if anything. It is very ambitious in that it attempts to do multiple things that are, at least to a degree, in direct opposition to one another:
Provide a nostalgia-infused sendoff for Pathfinder’s 1st
If this sounds familiar to some of you, then that obviously would be because it is, in some aspects, reminiscent of the practices of early access AAA-videogame development, with the crucial difference that Paizo actually has the means and desire to listen to the feedback of the fans, and, at least as far as we could see so far, really takes our concerns to heart. This is no fake BETA like Fallout 76, Anthem, et al.
That being said, I often encountered two points of view:
“Doomsday Dawn isn’t fun for reasons xyz.”
The problem with this type of reasoning is that this is not necessarily what Doomsday Dawn was sold as. Sure, being intended for playtest purposes is fine and all, but a more pronounced caveat would have mitigated some of the backlash the adventure (and system) received. In a way, the advertisement of Doomsday Dawn was one component that set it up for, at least partial, failure.
To be frank, I don’t think that Doomsday Dawn succeeded at fulfilling its ambitious baseline, but not due to the reasons that most folks would expect, and not due to how advertising it was handled.
Instead, I think that the crucial failure of this adventure-compilation is, ultimately, one of scope and scale, depending on how you look at it.
So, let’s start from the top – let’s talk about the overarching story.
I actually genuinely like it. The call-backs to classic modules, the way in which Doomsday Dawn presents an obscure and cataclysmic threat, the notion of mindquakes, the sheer stakes – the story is great. Reading about The Last Theorem and The White Axiom made me excited, nay, stoked – this notion of language shaping reality ties in with several theories near and dear to my heart, and as soon as the module’s full scope becomes evident, it can genuinely send a shiver down one’s spine.
The problem of Doomsday Dawn, from a narrative point of view, is that it takes quite a lot of time to convey the atmosphere and stakes, and that the playtesting, and, more importantly, lack of room available to develop the narrative, get in the way of fully appreciating the inspired concepts of the meta-plot.
Don’t believe me?
Okay, tell me 5 details about the good guys, the “Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye.” I’ll be waiting.
Okay, know what my impressions were? “Generic esoteric order that’s secretive for no reason, and they’re obviously utterly incompetent. Their guys slip up and tell hired muscle they’re working for a secret order? IRL, that’d be the time when I’d be out of the door.” We also have NO IDEA about their resources, customs, what they stand for, etc. – they are entirely defined through their opposition to the bad guys. We have no ideas about symbols, greetings, etc. A simple, small sidebar with at least a few details could have a) vastly enhanced the roleplaying interactions and b) actually made the PCs and, more importantly, the PLAYERS, invested in the order.
This would particularly have helped during the “intended TPK scenario”, which casts the PCs as hired muscle for a cause they don’t understand. This lack of connection makes the whole chapter feel, also in the read-aloud text, like a module-version of “War. War is hell.” There is no reason to sacrifice yourself per se, apart from the words of your superiors. The cause doesn’t seem worth it from a PC perspective. From a player-perspective, at this point things look better, but still. It’s just the most obvious example of the issue that plagues Doomsday Dawn throughout. I don’t expect custom angles and hooks, mind you – but knowing for what you’re fighting, feeling like you’re PART of the order of guardians against the things from beyond? That’d have been a powerful motivator for PCs and players alike. Think about it: It’d have provided this conviction that, even though you may suffer and die, you’re doing the right thing – you’re saving, literally, the world.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
“The Lost Star” had me flash back to the days when Episode 1 hit the silver screens, in particular, ill-omened George Lucas’ statement that “everything rhymes.” In a way, much like the final dungeon of Rise of the Runelords #1: Burnt Offerings, we have a pretty vanilla fantasy dungeon-crawl, with a few tidbits thrown in: There would be a few hazards/traps that are a bit beyond what you’d expect, and here, PF Playtest highlights how its engine makes traps and hazards less of a “cross and invisible line for damage” thing, and more like something that can be meaningfully interacted with. This is a HUGE plus for PF Playtest, and an aspect of the system that I genuinely love. Drakus the Taker feels akin to Nualia, in that he’s a random boss that hints at the larger story awaiting. Drakus is interesting in that he highlights what the system can do with bosses. This adventure, as a whole, is decent, but suffers from the fact that a) it had less room to develop its dungeon and antagonist than RotRL #1, and b) is also a somewhat less interesting dungeon. In the original RotRL #1, at this point players were already invested in Sandpoint, had finished some smaller dungeons and encounters, etc. – here, it’s just a goblin-dungeon, like we’ve cleared about a bazillion times in various systems so far. The failure of this module, why it fails to garner the same impact, is one of scale and context – and that, alas, is a leitmotif for Doomsday Dawn.
“In Pale Mountain’s Shadow” introductory prose makes the Esoteric Order look like bumbling buffoons, which doesn’t really help the narrative. The trek through the foothills suffers from a lack of player choice and agenda, but the main failure of the module, to me, lies in the “Chamber of Planar Alignment”, which presents a puzzle that may as well not be there. Instead of presenting a gorgeous handout, a beautiful artwork, instead of having the players figure out the puzzle, it’s a series of checks. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to that per se, but here, this looks very much like a puzzle that should have been solvable by the players, with the OPTION to brute-force it with checks (or by waiting for the antagonists). This is not a puzzle, it’s an exercise in rolling the dice. It is abstract in the most unrewarding way possible. Considering how games have moved towards ROLEplaying, towards blending the rolling of the dice with actual roleplaying, this is, to me, a pretty big downer, and something that could have really highlighted a difference in design paradigm for PF Playtest. It’s also one of the aspects that made me rather apprehensive and something I genuinely hope Paizo will move away from.
Indeed, this ties in with another aspect of Doomsday Dawn: VTTs/player-friendly maps. They are pretty much a staple for the vast majority of 3pps out there, and from handouts to such maps, I really think that Paizo should step up their game in that regard. There is no reason the PCs shouldn’t have a keyless version of e.g. Sombrefell Hall. Don’t get me wrong: The module is a step in the right direction, with the neat keyless maps that ARE provided. I just don’t think it’s enough when compared to the handouts that modules by Goodman Games, for example, provide constantly.
Speaking of which. “Affair at Sombrefell Hall” could have EASILY been a truly remarkable adventure, but once more, is held in check by the scope it has to develop its ideas. The same meaningful playtest data could have been collected with a few tweaks: 1) make the situation more complex/include more NPC interaction. This is one of two modules herein that feature a bit of investigation, and it’s as basic, obvious and unrewarding as it gets. It feels a bit like a less nuanced version of Evil Dead. Similarly, the module could have used the valuable asset of the system regarding the streamlined interaction with the environment in combat to lighten up combat and highlight what the system offers regarding sensible interaction. The front-loaded roleplaying could have been injected in-between waves of undead for a more rounded and less redundant experience. Once more, the scale, the wordcount available, really hampers what this module could have easily been.
“The Mirrored Moon” is the adventure herein that perhaps best encompasses the issues regarding scale that plague Doomsday Dawn. This module could best be called “needless and nonsensical implementation of subsystems, the module” – treasure points, ally points, research points – I like all of these in theory. The issue of this chapter is, however, that none of these systems contribute anything meaningful to the adventure. When do you use points as an abstraction in adventure-design? When too many factors accrue to make the listing of individual consequences of actions feasible, when the if-then-diagrams would become too sprawling. I *LIKE* resource-gathering like this; I don’t object to using abstract means to determine the like. But here? There are a grand total of 3 (!!) entries for the consequence of research points, and a similar amount for ally points. Not every point ever matters, which ultimately DETRACTS from the feeling that the actions of PCs have consequences – because that third ally or research point?
If not every point counts, why bother with the point systems anyway? Why not state: 2 allies = x; 4 equals =y – this just creates a false illusion of a degree of differentiation that is just not here. In fact, most GMs would probably improvise a more nuanced action-consequence ratio here. Why bother at all with the point systems? Oh yeah, to showcase them. Thing is, while I LIKE them as concepts, their implementation here is so clumsy, it’d be funny, were it not so sad. I am almost 100% certain that this part of Doomsday Dawn was cut down from something that could have been so much better, that, you know, actually had a reason to use points?
“The Heroes of Undarin” could have been an amazing offering; in a way, daring to include it, is great. Players should be aware that there’s danger, that they may well be wiped out. Problems here range from the lack of environmental interaction points to the very unfortunate narrative issues bred from the introductory/denouement flavor texts and lack of information about the cause of the order. With a different framing, I am pretty sure that this wouldn’t have received the same level of disappointment, and instead elicited cheers for heroic blazes of glory. Another issue from a psychological perspective would be that the B-team, ultimately, doesn’t matter to the PLAYERS. While their A-team is attaining the White Axiom, a series of combats happen. Why not let the players play the process of attaining it, succumbing to the trauma, barely keeping it together as the B-team tries to keep them as safe as possible against the approaching onslaught? Switching characters would have added A LOT to this one. Again, scale. And what about making the performance of the doomed B-team actually have, you know, consequences regarding the whole plot??
“Red Flags” is easily the best stand-alone module herein: The characters are quirky, the metaplot components matter; we get actual roleplaying, the system showcases how it can blend interaction/exploration/roleplaying, etc. – This is a genuinely well-made and fun ADVENTURE I enjoyed. It showcases the strengths of the system, is fun to play, and it’s a tragedy that it shows up so late in the book. If this one had been included earlier, I bet more groups would have stuck with the playtest to the end. While it could have used more key-NPCs to interact with, it’s also the only adventure herein that doesn’t suffer from the scale-issue: It presents a comparably humble premise and delivers on it. It doesn’t feel like it needed a couple of pages to work as well as it should. (Though, handouts/artworks depicting the heist-relevant rooms would have been AWESOME…just sayin’…)
And then, there’d be “When the Stars Go Dark.” This is, in a way, the chapter of this module that highlights best a crucial component of what PF Playtest does infinitely better than the 1st edition. The finale, the rules presented for the White Axiom? They are AMAZING. I love the final encounter to bits. That being said, this chapter does have issues that look like compromises on…bingo…scale. Where is the read-aloud text, or better, artwork showing the revelations the PCs have?
This brings me to my main gripe with the finale, which has less to do with content, and more with art. That artwork of the star-spawn at the start of the module elicited a groan from me. It’s not creepy, it’s goofy. Also: Cthulhu et al are SO played out anno 2018/19, and the module frankly doesn’t need them, when it has malignant theorems and Ramlock himself, as great examples how you can provide fresh creatures that are lovecraftian, and not a rehash of the done-to-death mythos critters.
Ramlock gets an amazing artwork. The issue is, that the artwork fails to hit home regarding its impact, as we don’t have a scale reference. Reading the text, seeing his ginormous face approach, realizing how grossly mutated he is, how vastly swollen, is an AWESOME image that begs to have a visual representation. The artwork of Ramlock, sans scale, makes him, courtesy of the lack of…scale…look like a humanoid-sized monster and makes him miss the mark regarding his grotesque and epic proportions. He loses much of the impact.
Similarly, the veinstone pendulum, the whole set-up of the final battle – if anything ever warranted the talent of Paizo’s amazing artists, it’d be that final scene. While I would have loved to see a bit more exploration of Ramlock’s Hollow prior to the finale, this is, alongside “Red Flags”, by far the most structurally-sound adventure herein, and it really made me excited for the future. The “Ashen Man”-encounter is also nice, has a glorious artwork and is really cool – easily one of my favorite roleplaying interactions in the whole module. We need more of that type of Lovecraftian horror, and less simple quoting of mythos monsters to be hacked apart. The only failure in scale of this last module, would thus pertain the choice made in art-direction.
The conclusion of my dissection can be read here!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
The second edition of the Fear Itself horror game clocks in at 178 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, leaving us with 173 pages of content. These include a two-page index and a 1-page character sheet.
After a brief introduction, we are introduced to the basics of the game, which is the first huge difference in comparison to the 1st edition. You see, where the first edition was intended for one-shots and as a kind of hack for Esoterrorists or similar GUMSHOE-based games, this edition is actually a full-blown stand-alone game. While this playstyle is still fully supported, the game now differentiates between angles from the get-go: The book notes that one-shot, mini-series and full-blown campaign are all possible, and also lists which sections in the book you should check out. Nice. The game is set in the same dark version of our world as Esoterrorists, meaning that the Outer Dark and its entities represent the primary antagonists. Books that feature this myth are tagged as “Ocean Game”, after the process by which one of the most formidable type of creature likes playing with mortals in a strange game, driving them insane.
Unlike Esoterrorists, this game does not assume that you have a benevolent organization or proper background to have at least sometimes a fighting chance against the Outer Dark – instead, Fear Itself focuses on more action-laden horror and a feeling of powerlessness; it’s less about uncovering full-blown wrongness of the universe, and more about survival, though themes can easily be mixed and matched. In one of my earlier reviews, I proposed kicking off a GUMSHOE-campaign with Fear Itself, and then, after the PCs have been recruited by the OV, using the Esoterrorist or Night’s Black Agents-rules (or a combination thereof!) for the next chapter of the campaign.
Fear Itself does not cast you in the role of heroes – the PCs are everyday people, and as such, there is a difference in focus and power-level that is reflected by the rules, but before we get into the details, let it be known that I do actually own the softcover of the game, as well as the pdf-version. I primarily based my review on the print copy.
Fear Itself deliberately restricts the use of combat/investigative experts and occult experts, which are considered to be out of the question unless this works in conjunction with your premise. Psychics are also restricted in a way – rules for them are provided, but they are risky. Unlike Esoterrorists, there is no OV guideline against these guys, so yeah – that’s a rather different angle. The Fear Itself game assumes the characters to be ordinary folks, and this angle is reflected in character creation: The number of players dictates the suggested number of build points per character, and there are capped abilities that are not available at character creation, unless you’re the group’s expert in the given field. Being an “expert” in a field means that you usually pay for your expert rank by some sort of drawback, which brings us to a crucial narrative angle that enriches the game and that can be rather fun: Risk factors. These represent, for example, a stern conviction in the scientific, a drug addiction, curiosity – all those behaviors that make characters die in horror movies. There are hard and soft risk factors, and resisting them requires a stability test, punishing the character for not giving in, while rewarding “risky” play and providing an incentive to creating tension.
But before we get to stability, let’s talk about abilities: Beyond a limit on aforementioned capped abilities, there are two survival abilities: Fleeing and Hiding. If your Fleeing is equal or higher than Athletics, you get 2 Fleeing for every build point spent, and the same holds true for Infiltration and Hiding. Infiltration and Athletics are universally better than Hiding and Fleeing, hence the discount – and this obviously enhances the emphasis on fleeing/hiding vs. direct combat. Concise lists of the abilities are provided – they are generally grouped in the categories Academic, Interpersonal, Technical, and General.
Stability, briefly noted before, is pretty self-explanatory – it’s the mental stamina and ability to resist sources of stress and mental breakdown. As such, the book guides you through the process of determining the cornerstones of your sources of stability. From neighbors to certain tasks to pets, these sources of stability are what keep you standing, and their development obviously provides means to attack the character; they are a catalyst for roleplaying, for saving them, for getting your character involved. The requirement, hardcoded into the game, ultimately, means that both GM and player have reasons to engage with the NPCs, be proactive in roleplaying.
Indeed, one of the things I very much enjoyed seeing, would be the salient advice provided for players, helping the game immensely. From embracing the flashbacks to roleplaying the mundane, to how to deal with being stuck in investigations, this section is really useful, particularly when dealing with players that are relatively new to GUMSHOE-based games.
A big difference to the previous iteration would be that we actually have the system explained in a concise manner: As you probably know about now, you can Spend points in your abilities to gain additional information – this game of resource management is crucial to how GUMSHOE works, and we have the process explained – and all abilities are noted with sample clues and benefits from the use of the abilities explained. This may sound obvious, it really helps GMing the game, and it makes it easier for players to know which abilities to choose. The ability-list has also been expanded, with new abilities getting a helpful “New”-tag, making conversion of older supplements easier. These new abilities also enhance the game in that they represent options that enhance the ability to play longer campaigns. Health now is just such an ability, changing that aspect.
Mechanically, the game has a simple resolution mechanic: If you have a point in ability, you can roll a six-sided die. The target difficulty numbers range from 2 to 8 (usually), and for each spend, you add +1 to the roll. The players do NOT know the target difficulty of the roll, just fyi. Other characters can piggyback on rolls – paying 1 point from the relevant ability, they can piggyback…but being unable to pay increases the difficulty by 2, which can be rather brutal. Contests follow an analogue mechanic, making that aspect simple to resolve as well. The narrative repercussions and how to handle the like are included.
When you exceed an opponent’s Hit Threshold, you may deal damage, rolling a die and applying modifier. Not having points in combat-relevant abilities locks you into the action you announce at the start of a round, decreases your damage, makes you go last and firearms have a chance of going wrong, big time. So yeah – if you have no combat training, you better be careful.., At 0 Health, you are Hurt; Starting at -6 Health, you are seriously wounded, and at -12 Health, you’re dead. Stability has similar thresholds, with effects like starting to close off, etc., despair, etc. Rules of thumb for different genres of horror are provided for your convenience, and indeed, particularly newer GMs and groups will definitely appreciate the vast array of pieces of advice contained within these pages.
Speaking of which: The GM gets a LOT of helpful advice herein, walking you through the process of designing a mystery, of how to use clues, determine core scenes, personalizing horror, when to use floating clues. A similar amount of guidance is provided not only for the process of designing a mystery, but also for the actual running of the mystery. Alternative rules like escape pools further enhance this section. Low and high-powered psychics, and some minor suggestions on running an all-psychic game may also be found within the pages of this massive book.
A couple of sample creatures that will mostly be familiar to Ocean Game veterans may be found, and the book contains stats for classics like slashers, werewolves, zombies, etc. Then, the book’s structure begins to change – as noted before, the game now has a broader perspective, and as such, features chapters for one-shots, mini-series and campaigns. For the one-shot, we get a sample adventure to accompany the general advice provided – it is a nice one, though the twist may be something the PCs see coming. The mini-series and campaign chapters have outlines provided instead of fully-fleshed out adventures – the latter two imho are more interesting, particularly the mini-series’ hook, but since that is very much a matter of taste, it won’t influence the final verdict.
The second edition of Robin D Laws and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Fear Itself-game is superior to the first in every way; no longer simply a hack to slap onto a GUMSHOE game, capable of being used as a stand-alone supplement, Fear Itself is a versatile investigative horror game that is deadly, interesting and has an amazing world; I am a huge fan of the whole Ocean game mythology, and frankly, I don’t understand why these games don’t get more love from the gaming public, particularly when compared to the Cthulhu-mythos. There is but one aspect of this book where it falls flat of the first edition: In the sample adventure/outline. Fear Itself’s first edition had a BRILLIANT sample adventure, and while the options herein are well-wrought, they don’t manage to attain that same level of pure horror. That being said, this book now presents all the tools you need to actually craft horror mysteries for your group – which you’ll have to do. As per the writing of this review, there only are two modules released for the game’s first edition. I will cover both of them, but yeah – much like the criminally underrated Esoterrorists, this is one of the Pelgrane Press games that’d deserve more love. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the tentacles, give this a shot – chances are, you’ll very much enjoy it! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Legendary Class-redesigns/supplements clocks in at a mighty 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
This book is, in its structure, akin to the phenomenal Legendary Rogues, in that it begins with a closer examination and expansion of the fighter class features, intended to provide means to differentiate the fighter class from other classes. As such, the book begins by taking a look at the advanced weapon training options introduced in the Weaponmaster’s Handbook – these allow for the replacement of the weapon training class feature at 9th, 13th and 17th level, and may alternatively be accessed via the Advanced Weapon Training feat, which fighters may take multiple times, but only once per 5 class levels attained. An updated version of said feat is included within, as the feat no longer requires a clause for the weapon master archetype. 19 such options have been included within this book, with the first of them allowing for weapon training bonus to be applied on combat maneuver checks with a chosen maneuver. There is also a means to enhance CMD, increase the save DC, if any, of effects caused by critical hits, quicker intimidation (with Dazzling Display synergy and means to combo it with e.g. Cornugon Smash), etc. Nice if you’re like me and enjoy, style-wise, some weapons that damage-die wise are less impressive: With focused weapon, you get a somewhat monk-ish damage progression for a weapon of your choice that you have Weapon Focus for, and scale its damage based on level, with the small table provided covering Small and Large size categories as well.
Cool one: These also include the option to expend an attacks of opportunity as an immediate action to add weapon training bonus to the saving throw, excluding ongoing magical effects; spell sundering and dispelling can also be found, and these two are not only mechanically great, they help make the fighter more viable and fun in high-magic contexts. Dexterity bonus to attack and Strength bonus to damage with thrown weapons as well as doubled weapon training bonus can be helpful as well – a helpful table sums these up, as well as their source, notes name-changes, if any, and we do get some guidance regarding implementation as well – big plus.
The next section pertains Weapon mastery feats, with Martial Focus as a specifically denoted gateway feat for non-fighters – and this feat is listed in the beginning, set apart with a shaded background. It may be a small thing, but seeing this one not hidden amidst a ton other feats made me smile from ear to ear – it’s really consumer-friendly and didactically-sensible presentation. Adaptive Counterstrike and Trade Blows, both with their own combat tricks, are included. Adaptive Counterstrike deserves special mention here: It’s the single best “analyze enemy”-type of feat I’ve seen in ages, and it doesn’t require wonky attack roll comparisons. Mechanically a boon for sore eyes. Trade Blows is similarly genius, making readied actions matter and allowing you to really harry targets. There may just be these two here, but quality trumps quantity any day of the week, and both of these are gamechangers. Speaking of making sense: If you’ve been adamant about playing by the book, you will have noticed weapon groups and associated lists being spread across different sources, including a blog post – well, fret not, for this book collects them in a sensible manner in one proper place. This is, once more, a thing that you may not immediately be stoked about, but the diligence that collected this list is something I genuinely applaud. And yes, there is a ginormous list that notes them all by source and whether or not they agree, allowing you to resolve conflicts of interpretation swiftly without having to resort to asking on the boards. This is amazing, very much the definition of going the extra mile.
You’ve probably seen it coming, so the presence of advanced armor training options probably is what you expected to see. However, what you probably did NOT expect to see, is that we begin with an analysis of the class feature, as the book highlights the issues and potentially rather limited appeal of this class feature. The ability also ranges in the power its component offers, and as such, the class feature is divided into two selectable pieces that no longer strand you with components of a class feature you simply can’t make use of. A total of 20 different armor training options may be found within this book, once more, like for the weapon training options, sporting the handy table that notes changes at one glance – for example for quick donning, or for unmoving, which now lets you select two different maneuvers. The section does, once more, come with an implementation guideline provided. Armor Focus, as an Armor Mastery feat, is included, and for your convenience, a massive table of such applicable feats, including sources, once more greatly helps navigating the breadth of options out there. At this point, the book has already a serious edge, as it acts as a brilliant reference book for fighter options.
From there on out, we move on to perseverance, which is the term employed for defensive resilience abilities; unless I’ve miscounted, there are 16 of these inside, and yes, e.g. bravery can be found here; this mean s that e.g. employing the content herein in conjunction with Michael Sayre’s Bravery Feats is very much possible. These features replace the armed bravery, and implementing them as the CRB bravery feature is an easy to grasp and super simple way of inciting players to remain in the fighter class instead of classing out of it. Additionally, the sequence in which these options are gained mirror the progression intervals of other fighter features, which generates a pleasant symmetry.
The next option array provided would be “Prowess” – these options represent the fighter’s meta-feats, which enhance combat feats, provide skill-based options, etc. – as the book correctly notices, there is a fine line between prowess and advanced weapon training options – but thankfully, the table does list such options with an asterisk, noting that they may be taken as either. It’s nice to see that the book doesn’t simply leave that aspect up to the GM and provides apt guidance. 21 such options are included for your convenience, and allow the fighter to gain skills and no longer be the dumb and useless brute outside of combat; there is an option for proficiency in an entire weapon group, a means for allies to share the fighter’s teamwork feats and options that render Style feat use more viable: Style Training lets you always be in one style and enter them as a free action, and Style Mastery lets you use more than one style feat simultaneously. The implementation of these options is explained analogue to the previous option categories – 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter are suggested, and detailed corner case rulings prevent confusion with e.g. Barroom Brawler. And yes, if you’ve always been irked by the fighter’s bad saves, there is an easy to implement optional rule/variant here. And while I noticed this before, you have probably guessed it at this point – this massive tome of fighter tweaks also provides the means to make the fighter less feat-starved.
Another issue that many a player has encountered, would be the requirement to invest in tertiary ability scores to meet the prerequisites of certain feats, and, you guessed it, the book does offer solutions for this, and contextualizes the fighter anno 2018 with other classes and their means to waive certain prerequisites and the like. I absolutely ADORE the concept of latent feats: Feats you’ve retrained, but which still count for the purpose of prerequisites. At 4th level, this suggested class feature is perfectly placed to avoid dipping-abuse and regarding when, during a fighter’s career, feats like Mobility or Dodge start becoming dead weight. Once more, a potential issue of the fighter can be resolved in a smooth and elegant way. (And no, they can’t be abused.)
Fighter-specific feats get their own table, with (Greater) penetrating Strike and Clustered Shots having their effects listed in a handy table – and once more, the reference table can be worth its weight in gold when planning your fighter. The book goes beyond that, retuning e.g. the gloves of dueling to work smoothly in conjunction with the massive option array presented. There are alternate rules here that render fighters still somewhat capable when employing nonproficient weapons, options that fortify weapons gripped by these martial masters, not dropping held weapons when panicked or stunned…nice. As an aside: One of my last campaign’s PCs, a super-high-powered gladiator-type, ALWAYS managed to fail saves versus dragons, losing multiple unique magic weapons this way, so yeah, these may not look like much, but they certainly do matter! The book then proceeds to present optional alternate rules for high-level fighters, like moving up to his speed before or after a full attack (making the fighter less static), not automatically missing on a natural 1, 1/round treating an attack roll as a 10 at 19th level…yeah.
So far, so good – a colossal grab-bag of fighter options to customize the class. Beyond that, we have the Legendary Fighter, who gets d10 HD, 4 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons as well as armor and shields, including tower shields, full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves. 1st level and every even levels thereafter net a bonus feat, and the fighter can choose 4 skills from a list to be added to the list of class skills, representing the skill-upgrade design paradigm mentioned before. The legendary fighter also takes the save-issue into account: He gets sharp reflexes, which nets +1 to Reflex saves, which further improves by +1 at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. 2nd level nets +1 to Will saves, which increases by another +1 at 10th level. The legendary fighter treats his ability scores as +1/2 class level higher for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites starting at 2nd level, and 3rd level adds +1/3 class level to BAB for the purposes of prerequisites, capping at +5. Also at 3rd level, we have an advanced weapon training, with an additional one gained at 7th, 11th and 15th level. Also at 3rd level, the fighter may don the more problematic heavy armors sans aid and gains advanced armor training options at 5th, 9th and 13th level. Also at third level, we have a +1 bonus to atk and damage with all proficient weapons, and to combat maneuver checks executed with said weaponry and to CMD versus weapon targeting maneuvers. The bonus increases by +1 at 7th, 11th and 15th level.
4th level implements aforementioned feat-retraining options, including the genius latent feats engine, and also introduces prowess options. Proper weapon grip, aforementioned high-level skirmishing option – at this point you have noticed it, right? Yep, this class is basically the result of implementing all those modular class features in a concise manner. And here is where the book once more walks the extra mile that separates a good or very good book from an excellent one – it starts talking about archetype use in conjunction with the legendary fighter, providing concise and easy to grasp guidelines to use them in conjunction with the class, including how to deal with underpowered archetypes, with redundant abilities, etc. And guess what: Yes, we do get a HUGE table of archetypes, with sources listed and modifications noted. Want to play a pack mule legendary fighter? Just check the table. A.W.E.S.O.M.E.!
If your system mastery at this point is rather pronounced, you’ll know that e.g. armor master, lore warden, unbreakable or weapon master require some more love, right? Well, guess what: This book covers them in detail. Oh, and the pdf offers “simple” archetypes – these present the last tools you need to make this engine slot in seamlessly with pretty much anything: Exotic weapon wielders, living weapons, stamina adherents, spirit warriors – ALL ARE COVERED.
I won’t lie, I did not really look forward to reviewing this fighter-rebuild. I have read more than my share of them, and e.g. Alexander Augunas’ Unchained Fighter sated my thirst for a Stamina-bar-based fighter rather aptly.
Here’s the thing: Matt Goodall’s Legendary Fighter does not seek to become a competition for that class, and they actually work rather smoothly in the same campaign, offering different playing experiences.
More than just a class, though, this is basically the “Teach you how to make the fighter awesome”-book. Instead of presuming to be aware of all realities of tables out there, this book takes the ultimate high-road: It presents awesome rules, and explains the consequences of their implementation, the design rationale behind them, allowing the customer to make informed decisions regarding the implementation of all modified class features herein. This is a GIGANTIC plus, and in an ideal world, would be the standard.
Oh, a supplement that also represents a massive reference tome that helps you navigate the intricacies of PFRPG. From magic items to archetypes, this does not simply slam down great content – it provides the content, sure. But it also explains in a didactically-sensible manner why and how these design decisions have been made. This book, in a way, is a guideline for you to emancipate, in the Kantian sense, the fighter class, making it what YOU think it should be. Oh, and even if design and tinkering are not things that catch your interest, guess what – the Legendary Fighter, as the whole-deal comfort package has you covered.
This is a master-class book, even when looked at within the context of this series’ exceedingly high standards. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and, you’ve probably seen it coming, this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018. Don’t wait – finally make the fighter class that fits your game!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
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!
After a brief introduction, we begin the new weapon fusions. There are 4 new level 5 weapon fusions included: Boomerang does what it says on the tin, may only be applied to thrown weapons, and makes a thrown weapon return to you your hand one round after it is thrown; this is akin to returning, save that you get a second attack roll at the original value on a missed one. Conductive makes a weapon’s electric energy charge an opponent’s armor. A target thus hit takes a -1 penalty to AC and on Reflex saves and other effects that inflict electricity damage until the start of your next turn. If you miss with an attack, you can spend 1 Resolve Point to make the target takes this penalty, even though you missed. Only shock weapons and those with the shock weapon fusion may benefit from this one.
Lesser dazzling weapons dazzle a targeted creature after the attack is resolved, regardless of whether or not the attack hit. You only dazzle one creature per attack. Compared to that, the level 9 greater dazzling fusion can dazzle all creatures targeted by the attack. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The final level 5 fusion would be pyrotechnic, which may not be added to cryo weapons. 1/day, when you attack a target within 5 ft. of a solid surface, you may activate this fusion as a reaction to create a conflagration that engulfs a 5-foot line from your space to the nearest 5-ft.-square occupied by the attack’s target. This may be activated even if you miss, and creatures and flammable objects in the line take 1d4 fire damage, while creatures moving into or through it take 1d6 fire damage or gain the burning condition. Slightly odd verbiage/damage dice distribution there, but nothing that hampers the fusion.
The pdf contains 3 new level 6 fusions: Grazing (not properly italicized in the text) makes the target take 1 point of damage per weapon damage die, even if you miss. No bonuses apply, and the fusion does account for save-based weapons. However, it does not specify the damage type specifics of multi-damage type weapons. Does the wielder get to choose which damage type to inflict? Half-half? (And yes, I am aware that I am nitpicking here, chalk it up to two fusions below, which are simply GENIUS…you’ll see…) Relentless allows you to spend 1 Resolve Point upon missing a target to make that count as harrying fire, but not if the total result of the attack roll was below 15. This may only be applied to ranged weapons that require an attack roll, and not to weapons with the explode quality. Seeding creates plant-based difficult terrain, and requires kinetic damage-inflicting weaponry. This made me flash back to Grim Fandango so hard…
We also have two level 7 fusions: Ultrasonic may only be applied to sonic weapons, and lets you 1/day affect a target and all within 10 ft. of the target, affecting all with a deafening blast on a failed Fort-save. This does work with line/explode/automatic weapons and comes with proper verbiage for those cases. Slippery may only be applied to cryo weapons with the frost fusion and allows you to go full-blown Mister Freeze, creating icy difficult terrain. Cool!!
The Star Log contains 4 level 8 weapon fusions: Erupting may be used with unwieldy weapons, but requires that the weapon has the blast special quality. When attempting a cone attack, you may expend additional ammo or charges equal to weapon usage to sustain the attack until the start of your next turn. You can’t damage a single target more than once per round, but you CAN sustain the blast and e.g. cover the retreat of your allies/hold targets in check. This is genius and absolutely amazing. Love it. This btw. also applies to the level 11 lingering fusion, which instead makes explosions linger. These two imho warrant getting this pdf all on their own. They are AWESOME.
Thought-seeking can only be applied to damage dealing weaponry, and lets you roll twice miss chance when attacking intelligent targets that have concealment. If you miss, you can spend 1 Resolve Point to have the ammo instead veer towards a critter with at least Intelligence 1 within reach or first range increment, which makes the target take 1 point of damage per weapon damage die on a failed Reflex save, but here the usual bonuses to damage apply. Once more, though, the damage type scenario could be a bit clearer for multi-damage type’d weaponry. Nanite repair lets the weapon repair itself for 1 Hit Point per round, +1 for every 5 item levels.
The final level 8 fusion would be lesser lock-on, which lets you designate a creature within 30 ft. you’re aware of; until the star of your next turn, you get a +1 enhancement bonus to atk vs. the designated target. The fusion is treated as a computer with half the item level’s tier and may be affected by Computers. Greater lock-on (level 10 fusion, btw.) erroneously refers to lesser dazzling instead of lesser lock-on, and maintains the bonus until the end of your next turn instead.
David N. Ross’ weapon fusions here are complex, precise, make pricing-wise sense, and have two true gems – the erupting and lingering fusions are extremely iconic: Holding back the xenomorphs with flamethrowers, making off while the plasma-cloud hisses in the air – these two fusions are exciting and creative and warrant my seal of approval. Why? Because these two fusions made me immediately come up with a plethora of cool encounter scenes and adventure angles, and that is awesome. That being said, there are a few minor snafus here, and as such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4.5 stars, though I’ll still round up for the purpose of this platform.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Occult Skill Guide-series clocks 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 right, after a brief introduction, we begin with the glossary for rituals – yes, this means that this is a full stand-alone supplement that doesn’t require the original rituals-supplements released in this series.
Rituals have three basic ritual components: The ceremony, which denotes the physical actions required to perform the ritual; the lore, which represents the history and information, and the seal – an occult sign that must be drawn to cast the ritual. Some rituals require a focus, and item that isn’t destroyed upon the ritual being cast. The characters engaging in a ritual are known as primary ritualist and secondary ritualist(s). Some rituals have additional requirements: Items consumed by the ritual are called “reagents”; traits the ritualists must shape/have are called “Characteristics”, and creatures offered as payment are called “Sacrifice” – this doesn’t mean that they are killed, though that may well be the case. Failure to perform a ritual properly can have dire consequences, and thus, this pdf does mention the appropriate failure consequences. Of course, success also has an effect.
A ritual has a key skill, and in order to learn a ritual, you have to have 3 the ritual’s level in skill ranks in the key skill, with the skill usually, but not always, being Computers, Engineering, Mysticism. The pdf also provides rules for learning rituals, and the pdf fully explains the process of performing a ritual in a step-by-step process that is easy to grasp. Since I already explained this in a previous review, I’ll just note that the book thus contains all the rules you require to make more rituals. The pdf even provides an explanation model of why rituals work that you can adopt or ignore – nice! (There is a minor formatting hiccup (a “1.”) in the Ceremony-section of the sample ritual, but that’s cosmetic only.)
All right, so that out of the way, let us check out the ritual, which would be clone creation. This is designated as a level 5 ritual, with the school necromancy and the descriptor [mageologic]. (Ritual descriptors also denote the key skilsl – mageologic rituals either use Life Science or Physical Science as key skill.). The ritual has a casting time of 5 hours, and requires a crystal formed of pure positive energy as a Focus. As far as reagents are concerned, an artificial uterus and a biochain variant android soul storage unit are required. Beyond that, raw elemental compounds, a sample genetic material and a proper laboratory would be required. Additionally, a mk 3 mnemonic editor is needed. The total cost sans focus of these reagents amount to 60,000 credits, excluding the editor. By the way: You REALLY don’t want to fail this ritual: At 4d3 temporary negative levels, 2d6 ability points damage to ALL scores and 13d20 acid damage, this will probably kill you off…
Anyway, let’s talk about the ceremony: The seal is drawn first, and corresponds to the clone to be created, which will either be a replica or a vessel; then, the growth chamber is assembled, whereafter the fertilization process commences. The clone reconstruction program is up next, and then the mnemonic editor is up next. Skill-wise, we have a lot of Life Science, with some steps requiring Computers and Mysticism checks, and DCs at 39 or 44.
Now, as for success criteria: Replicas are clones with a soul, including artificially memories that are based on telepathic bonds or analogue transfer processes, though the replica can develop independently. Vessels, on the other hand, are basically backup bodies, allowing for excellent means for the villains to return from the dead, for PCs to have an extra life or the like. And yes, the resurrection penalties are still retained. The costs of creating newborn clones and maturing them are covered, and the failure can result in the other clone type, as well as a chance for the primary ritualist to be memory wiped and spat out as an infant version of the clone sans memories or class features. This is a pretty cool way to kick off a campaign – or resume it after a TPK…just sayin’.
The pdf then proceeds to provide a rather cool legend, as well as 3 different sample encounter-suggestions for you to further jumpstart the creative processes.
Beyond that, the pdf also presents the massive “Do-it-yourself”-ritual creation engine that walks you, step by step, through the process of crafting your own rituals, which is a pretty amazing thing, and really easy to grasp, highlighting the author’s teaching experience.
Alexander Augunas’ cloning ritual is an awesome offering: The supplement ultimately allows you to salvage a campaign from utter disaster and a TPK; it can allow you to change direction, Mass Effect 2-style. It can allow you to have your favorite villain return from the dead, or it can offer a great means to start a campaign, as the PCs try to reclaim their identities after a botched ritual, potentially trying to reclaim their (probably horrible!) memories! The pdf offers, thus, a ton of excellent fuel for creative GMs to take the game in new directions. Heck, you could play a Paranoia-style scenario, or provide a means to play a hyper-deadly meatgrinder. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Highly recommended.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of Mythic Feat-upgrades clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, though, as always, for Legendary Games, there is a ton of text per page.
This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue at the request of my patreons.
Organization-wise, this pdf starts off strong, offering feat-lists in alphabetical order, and then provide a list of feats organized by type, providing for all organization-paradigms you may prefer – big plus. The first list is even internally hyperlinked, allowing for comfortable navigation of the electronic iteration of this pdf.
As always, this book does something I really respect: It takes the feats from one of Paizo’s big hardcovers, here, obviously, Ultimate Wilderness, and provides mythic iterations – for ALL OF THEM. As such, covering each and every feat would obviously bloat this review beyond any usefulness, so let’s start by providing an overview and some samples from within, shall we?
The first feat within is Ambush Awareness, and the mythic iteration allows you to expend a mythic power when benefiting from Ambush Awareness to take a single action instead of a total defense action. Animal Call allows you to add your mythic tier to Bluff checks (not properly capitalized; there are quite a few instances of skills not properly capitalized; btw. not the only feat where a skill hasn’t been properly capitalized herein), and if you succeed, you may call ALL animals within 100 ft. of the type you called, which is pretty epic. Design paradigm-wise, we do have a couple of instances, where the use of mythic power allows for numerical escalation – Animal Ferocity allows for the addition of a +5 circumstance bonus to attack rolls, for example, and Beast Hunter would be another nice example of this design paradigm. The Ferocious feats to upgrade animal companions allow for the addition of mythic tier to the Bluff skills made to feint or intimidate checks made to demoralize, and both allow for the use of these as a swift action; the demoralize-based, in a nice catch, also allows for Anatagonize use in conjunction with this.
With the proper mythic Verdant Spell, you can affect plant creatures and sentient creatures at once, and when specifically targeting only plants, you penalize Will saves for spell level rounds. Additionally, mythic power allows for the spontaneous use of metamagic. Voice of Beasts’ mythic iteration nets you a non-dispellable supernatural speak with animals. With Boon Companion’s mythic iteration, you can use the full character level as druid level to determine animal companion/familiar abilities, and Command Animals or Command Plants follow a similar design paradigm. Branch Pounce’s upgrade allows you to mitigate the consequences of missing the attack, and similarly, Deep Diver helps you reduce falling damage when diving, and also doubles your range of vision while underwater, which is a cool touch. Mythic power can fortify you against the rigors of crushing pressure as well. With the Bristling combat maneuver feats, you can increase damage output by tier, and has options to use mythic power for more damaging assaults.
Really interesting from a tactical perspective – Crashing Wave Style’s upgrade makes movement taken as part of drag/reposition not count against the amount of movement per round, with mythic power as a means to increase the number of squares. Similarly, Flinging Charge allows you to choose to take the -5 penalty on the ranged attack made as part of the charge instead of the melee attack. Additionally,, when hitting the target of the charge with the ranged attack, you deny the target Dexterity bonus to AC for the melee attack to follow. Now, personally, I do not think that this should allow, as written herein, for a 3/day regaining of mythic power when confirming a critical hit with the ranged attack, as this can theoretically allow you to exceed the standard cap.
Clinging Climber may be used as a swift action, even as a free action with mythic power expenditure. The complex Eidolon Mount upgrade allows you to maintain the eidolon’s size if it’s more than one size category larger than you. Energized Wild Shape’s mythic version increases energy resistance, and also nets a minor retributive energy when struck by unarmed strikes, etc. Exotic Heritage allows you to take 10 or 20 while threatened with the skill chosen for the base feat, and when using the feat to gain the benefits of Eldritch Heritage, the character also gets the 3rd-level bloodline power, at character level-2. Group Shared Spell allows you to cast targets with a target of “you” on any character that has this feat, with mythic power even at close range – and yes, this is basically one of the few teamwork feats that is really potent, and one that your allies WILL want to invest the feat in!
Obviously, we also cover the Improved/Greater Hunter’s Bond, Spring Attack, etc. feat-upgrades, and e.g. the Indomitable Mountain Style chain is also nice. Jaguar Pounce’s mythic iteration allows you to combine the benefits with Improved Critical, and charge/Spring Attack allows you to inflict tier-governed additional damage: I really enjoyed the power-upgrades for Natural Poison Harvester and Antitoxin. Out of the Sun allows you to blind targets, and Reflexive Interception’s mythic feat nets the character evasion (and its improved version), whether the companion succeeds on the save or not. Shifter’s Edge allows for the threat range increase via mythic power for 1 minute, and increases Shifter’s Edge bonus damage by adding mythic tier to class level to determine damage. Totemic Discipline nets uncanny dodge or the upgraded iteration, and barbarian level for the totemic feats is equal to character level.
The Wilding feat chain also deserves mentioning, as we for example have mythic wild empathy here, immediate action ending of mind-affecting effects, becoming confused instead.
Alex Riggs, Margherita Tramontano, Jonathan H. Keith, Jeff Lee – you have my utmost respect. Designing books like this can be WORK, and honestly, it’s one thing I personally wouldn’t want to do. For that alone, this series has to be applauded. The work that goes into these mythic feat books is palpable. Now, I am a bit spoiled by now – this particular iteration does go a bit more into the direction of depth regarding the escalation of numbers, rather than providing breadth of new options, though it should be noted that there are plenty of options herein that do represent tactical gamechangers. All in all, this renders the book a great, if not perfect upgrade of feats, one definitely worth getting if you’re using Ultimate Wilderness, and a must-have when using Ultimate Wilderness in conjunction with Mythic Adventures – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Spheres Apocrypha-series clocks in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with two pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The pdf kicks off with 7 basic talents, one of which, Solar Strike, is untagged: When you hit a creature with an attack, you can make it glow as a swift action, or glow brightly at the cost of 1 spell point. It should be noted that the pdf does miss the proper glow formatting, which can makes the rules-language somewhat obtuse. The pdf also includes a (lens) talent, the Halo Effect, which nets a scaling bonus to Bluff and Diplomacy (and optionally to Performance as well. The skills are not properly capitalized.
The remaining 5 talents all have the (light) tag. Fenestrate lets you create a bright light that makes everything and everyone in the area translucent enough to see through. Objects that grant cover still grant concealment, but Stealth is seriously impeded. Interesting one, though I’d be interested to know whether this means that you can have line of sight through creatures or not – a pretty crucial aspect, as the talent seems to imply so, but the change this would bring for magic would be pretty vast, so I’m not sure. Inner Sun lets you grant a creature you made glow brightly a weapon of light that may be any melee weapon you’re proficient with, with its damage being scaling fire damage. The blade of light can’t hurt translucent targets and may have interesting interactions with reflective creatures. Precious lets you make an item glow – all that see it will then try to get it and admire it, basically turning Gollum on a failed Will-save. This will not make them suicidal or stupid, but it does affect allies. The effect is properly codified and allows for shaking off, but ONLY initially and when admiring it. Shouldn’t this have Hypnotic Pattern as a prerequisite?
Revelation allows you to bestow a light of a text, allowing for the full lecture of the material, including erased text. This can also reveal hidden text and meaning, and even bypass magical protections if you succeed at your Magic Skill Check. Shining Arsenal makes your weapons inflict full damage on incorporeal targets, and fortifies armor and shields aglow to provide full defense against such targets, and you choose a single metal or material – the light mimics this material for the purposes of vulnerabilities, making e.g. cold iron or silver valid choices. Since the glowing items don’t actually get the property, adamantine wouldn’t help.
The pdf also contains 3 new feats: Afterglow lets you add a glow to positive energy ability applicants; Crimson Flash lets you, as a swift action, spend a spell point to expel a blast that only one ally sees who hasn’t yet acted. The ally may act on your initiative count instead of their own. Lightshow, finally, combos inspiring song with glow, including glow effects, but excluding ones that require targets to glow brightly.
Adam Meyers knows what he’s doing, and the Light material herein is, for the most part, interesting. There is, though, as a whole, a sense of this one being rushed, with a ton of formatting hiccups for such a short file, more than necessary. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 2.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price-point.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This Ship-pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The light cruiser is the workhorse of the Katar fleet and clocks in as a tier 6 destroyer, which comes with medium 100 shields, mk 4 armor and defenses, and an Arcus Max power core. Thruster-wise, we have L6 and a basic drift engine, and the systems are powered by a mk1 trinode computer, and the vessel offers good crew quarters and has basic medium-range sensors. The light cruiser has 3 cargo holds, and also uses the focus on social skills that Katar crew seem to have. The Piloting skill, at +19, is pretty damn high, but in comparison, the crew has less to offer regarding Engineering, as here, we only have +13.
Weaponry-wise, we have heavy laser cannons and torpedo launchers on the front, flak throwers port and starboard, and light torpedo launchers on the aft, and light particle beams for the turrets. Unless I’ve miscalculated, the ship should btw. be using its full assortment of BP available – it does have PU left, but yeah. Nice. Shields btw. are, as with other katar-vessels, slightly focused on front and back. The pdf coems with a Computers-table to know information about it. The table features a minor typo and erroneously refers to the Fast Attack vessel in the header in a cut-copy-paste remnant
As always, we get a fully filled-out starship sheet version of the ship ready for your perusal, and a one-page full-color handout style version of the ship’s great artwork. We also have paper-standing minis of the ship, and the pdf offers a fully depicted, great map of the ship, which makes sense regarding room placement, offers a katar garden, cold storage, gravity reactor, etc.
Paul Fields and Jim Milligan deliver a cool workhorse army vessel that does a good job. It doesn’t feel over-engineered and functional, and thus manages to capture rather well the intended flavor. All in all, this is a good vessel, well worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This supplement clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a brief introduction, we get a rather nice list of spells by suggested profession – want to know which spells work for doctors and artisans? There’s a list here, and each occupation lists the respective spells by spell level. The spells only cover the spell-levels from 0th to 2nd, focusing on magic for the common man, as befitting of a magical society. If that seems inconvenient to you, fret not, for the supplement also provides spell-lists by class, which btw. also include the Advanced Class Guide and Occult Adventures-classes.
The spells, as would be expected, cover utilities, and the first, Abernathy’s abacus sets an apt tone for the entirety of the supplement, providing a purely mental abacus that helps you perform calculations, including notes on actions to operate it. There are two versions of magical bed-time stories, which send targets down the sequence of fatigue-related effects, and which don’t work in combat – nice! (As an aside: These do work imho even better when combined with Everyman Gaming’s Sleeping Rules)
I was really enamored by bonds of hospitality – a representation of the concept of not partaking in violence against a host whose food or drink you have consumed, using a sanctuary-like basis, Utility spells to boil water, to butcher carcasses or for a butler’s bell, with the latter based on alarm, we have quite a few cool ones here. There also is a really funny one that magical parents would love – castellan’s dungball attracts low weight/value physical clutter and makes it form a katamari-style ball that follows you around! Speaking of order: Categorical organization is great to order those treasure heaps, and chef’s crew lets you have a taste of being a chef in a proper cuisine, providing a crew of unseen servants to follow your directions. Bonus points if you give them red or blue jackets. ;P
Speaking of which: Phantom mannequins do pretty much what you’d expect them to do. There is a spell that allows you to better filter out background noise, and if your mansion isn’t exactly up to snuff, there is pleasing façade, which makes a structure take on the idealized appearance of a painting, while the painting becomes an exaggerated representation of reality – kind of like Dorian Gray lite.
Kidding aside, there is a handy spell that emulates a cock’s crow. I’m not as happy with coiner’s honesty, as it identifies nonmagically altered and counterfeited coins, without taking the skill of the forger into account. Moneylender’s mark allows a bank to make a debtor’s outstanding debt ever more apparent with a darkening sign. A godsend for scribes would be mirrorquill, which makes a quill duplicate your writing as you go.
With two spells, conjure cart and create ice, you could duplicate more wholesome fish/meat markets, and some farmers will certainly love create soil. Particularly in a setting where entities with defiler-like powers exist, this cantrip may be of vital importance. Distill cure is neat, as it enhances the usefulness of a nonmagical curative, allowing for the rolling of a save twice, taking the better result. A spell to make an animal hardier and better suited to working as a draft animal, a herald’s voice enhancer…some cool ones. If the painful time of having to let go of a creature has come, you may want to consult the euthanize spell, which btw. thankfully does come with caveats that prevents abuse. Kudos!
Immediate water-evaporation is nice, and exquisite display case is certainly neat to showcase your triumphs. Fey gift can be used to barter with fey and keep them away (and there is a version for spirits as well!), while invite house spirit does the opposite, inviting a benevolent, supernatural entity into your home. Fortify wine increases the potency of a given draft. Greenery light can help you handle the regenerative properties of plants, and herder’s ward can help you keep your livestock in place – and if you do lose animals, you can still fall back on locate stock, which is based on arcane mark. Quick plucking and defeathering of targets, raise irrigation and prize vegetable growth boosts can really help. And yes, there is a magical sow seeds, a scarecrow spell…
Inner clock does what it says on the tin. Tired of gritty and grimy surroundings and those nasty creepy-crawlies? Louse screen suddenly makes your game much more hygienic for the characters. Projection of memory is amazing, as it creates a visual illusion of an object prior to damage sustained, which can be sued for puzzle/narrative purposes by the enterprising GM. There is a road ward that enhances the integrity of streets, and roots to plowshares turns a tree stump into a plow – very handy! Scent wall blocks, bingo, what you’d expect. Schedule is absolutely glorious, and lets you put a cantrip/orison on a timer, affecting objects. I’d have this one cast all over my stuff! Shadow lockpicks nets you thieves’ tools that later upgrade to masterwork, and surgeon’s watch pings you when the target takes damage. You can also cast a spell to direct vermin to weave and assemble a nonmagic woven item for you, and with the right spell, you can warp glass!
The pdf also includes a 20-level arcane worker NPC-class, basically a caster-commoner with spells of up to 4th level, ½ BAB-progression, good Will-saves, d6 HD and 4 + Int skills per level. The pdf contains also an array of sample NPCs – a CR 3 arcane artist, a CR 4 arcane baker, a CR 1/3 arcane farmhand, a CR 2 arcane parent, a CR ½ magical merchant, a CR 2 magical miner, a CR 2 singing tavernkeep, and finally a CR ½ town doctor.
Jeff Gomez crafted this book with contributions from Andrew Ready, Charles Kulick, David J. Rust, Jason Owen Black, Jennifer R. Povey, Kat Evans, Kate Baker, Landon Winkler, Maria Smolina, Matthew Morgans, Matt Roth, Matthew Oatman, Mike Welham, Nik Geier, Nikolaï Samarine, Robert Metcalf and Wojciech Gruchala. And while that are a lot of authors, the quality of the material herein is consistent and high, offering a fun assortment of creative and cool spells that help depicting magical societies. Not all spells herein will be fantastic for all games, but even low/rare magic games will find a couple of worthwhile and intriguing spells in this book. All in all, a great book, only hampered by the really grating and puzzling absence of bookmarks. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This Star Log.EM clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
On the introductory page, we also have the Borai’s racial statistics – the race btw. represents undead that managed to retain fragments of their souls. Borai get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wis, are Medium and have a 30 ft. base speed, unless specified otherwise. They have Darkvision 60 ft., and for effects that target creatures by type, they count as both humanoids and undead, whichever effect is worse. They are immune to negative energy damage and have a +1 racial bonus to saves vs. pain, exhaustion, etc.
As an aside: To my knowledge, negative energy damage hasn’t yet been used in Starfinder, but since the energy type is around (as evidenced by plenty of references), and since the Starfarer’s Companion does make plenty of use of the damage type, I’ll let that stand. It’s something to bear in mind, though. Borai count as living creatures for the purposes of healing, and they take no penalties from energy drain effects, but may still be destroyed by them. Borai shake off negative levels automatically after 24 hours. Borai have 6 Hit Pointa[sic!] and are mainly defined by old talents – they select a racial trait to represent the original race they were, and this is a huge draw of the race.
You see, at the GM’s discretion, borai may not only have the same size as the original race. Additionally, the pdf takes a look at ALL legacy races, the Alien Archive races and a metric ton of races from the Xa-Osoro system/Blood Space setting: From kitsune to deoxyians, we get a ton of old talent options for the borai, including skinwalkers, yroometji, gnolls, msvokas (YEAH!), ganzi, arich, nashi, ydreft (double yeah!), glynwyrians, xaursi and rougarous, and even taking astrazoan, bantrids, khizar and strix into account! Now this is one massive amount of options to make sure the borai are sufficiently diverse!
The pdf also includes the borai paragon archetype, which is exclusively available to borai. This one allows you to, at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 16th level, choose a racial trait from a race you chose as your original race via old talents, or a feat that has being a borai as a prerequisite. Since all borai feats have only the race as prerequisite, this has no issues regarding prerequisite-bypassing.
Speaking of feats: 4 are provided: Borai Resiliency increases the aforementioned racial trait’s bonus by to saves by +1. Dead Man’s Heritage nets you the subtypes associated with the race chosen as the old talent/original race. Easily Necrografted allows you to install an additional augmentation (necrografts only) into one system of your choice. Restitched Corpse helps when you lose a limb other than your head, allowing for the use of Medicine to reattach limbs you lost in a pretty quick manner. The feat does include notes for improperly reattached limbs, which is a nice component here.
The pdf also contains a new mystic spell, the 4th level reanimation, which requires 10 minutes to cast. This spell codifies transformation of a recently deceased creature as a borai, and the spell properly codifies e.g. poisons and diseases affecting the returned character, and the spell does codify how returning the dead interacts with Resolve etc. And yep, a 1K cost of an expensive component means that the spell can’t be abused. Creatures exempt from being healed by mystic cure may not be revived thus.
Alexander Augunas’ highly flexible Borai are a cool race that provides the solution for the templated undead race; it’s, in design paradigm, similar to the excellent Star Log.Deluxe: Planar Scions Reforged. As such, the material presented is pretty cool and allows for a ton of different concepts. While I’m not blown away by all the feats, this still is very much worthwhile getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Occult Skill Guide-series clocks 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!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
So, theme-wise, this pdf obviously makes corruptions work in conjunction with SFRPG, but it should be noted that these corruptions are NOT simply a straight adaptation from PFRPG, instead making full use of SFRPG’s engine.
We begin the supplement by explaining how the mechanics work: Corruptions measure their progress in corruption points and have a six-step corruption progression track, analogue to e.g. diseases and similar afflictions. The progression track is: Uncorrupted-Latent-Stage 1-Stage 2-Stage 3-End Stage. And yep, end-stage MAY mean becoming NPC, but that is left up to the GM’s prerogative.
A character has a corruption threshold equal to the ability SCORE (NOT modifier!) in the corruption’s associated ability, +1 per 3 CR or levels the target has. Each corruption also has a virulence line that lists actions or activities that, when taken, cause the accumulation of corruption points.
A corruption is classified as a type of affliction, and initial exposure means that the target must succeed a saving throw; and on a failure, they lose the uncorrupted status for the respective corruption, starting the latent step, which also jumpstarts the accumulation of corruption points as noted in the corruption’s virulence.
When the corruption points accumulate up to the Corruption Threshold or multiple thereof of the respective character/creature, the victim must succeed another saving throw, and on a failure, the corruption advances, with the type of save and the DC determined by corruption, victim level/CR and the current step on the progression track. Progression DCs thus do increase to represent the inner struggle – thus, a high-level character can’t simply become immune to the threats posed by the corruptions. Corruptions have unique end-states, and conditions imposed by corruptions override immunities to conditions and similar effects, so no cheesing these either.
Corruptions also have a cure entry, which means that the victim has to fulfill certain criteria; when they manage to fulfill the cure conditions, they decrease the total number of corruption points accumulated by a specific number, which allows for the reduction of progression steps. Reaching the uncorrupted stage cures the target. Remove affliction does not cure a victim of corruptions, unless the corruption specifies otherwise.
Some corruptions also bestow so-called manifestations upon their victims as part of the effects; these are special abilities that alter the victim’s body, and when these reference the victim’s level, character level is meant. Removal of physical alterations makes the modifications grow back quickly – there is no easy way to curing a corruption.
The corruptions come with an easy to grasp standardized presentation method, and the pdf then proceeds to present a total of 5 different corruptions, the first of which would be Decouplement. This corruption represents a weakening of the cellular bonds, allowing for the adjustment of the body’s shape, but at the risk of collapsing into a fleshy sludge. You can basically become Batman’s Clayface – first, you can assume generic forms, and at higher corruption stages, you can even modify your size, and gain amorphous or compression. Interesting: ¼ of your total Resolve Points (should probably state something like “minimum 1” or have a “maximum” after that) or accepting 1d6 corruption points allow for the reset of the duration of this effect, which is interesting and retains the cost. Stage 2 of the corruption allows for the expenditure of Resolve Points to gain burrow speeds and a variety of other abilities, though doing so does entail corruption points. The pdf also provides universal monster rules for oozelike creatures, and a level 15 serum that helps reconstitute targets that had their bodily integrity compromised. Really awesome: The curing procedure entails being petrified, grounded down, set in a mold and then slowly reconstituted – awesome!
The second corruption included would be genewarp, which represents e.g. mishaps, intense radiation or similar polymorphic events. It initially grants you some potent powers, but makes you gain corruption points when regaining Stamina, representing a unique type of timer. The corruption includes the aberrant universal creature rule (somewhat akin to plant-like, just for aberrations) and the unstable genotype disease that may only be cured with potent magics. The manifestations of this corruption starts slow with some numerical enhancements, and then proceeds to provide enhancements and then even ties in with the polymorph form abilities at the third stage. Yes, this does allow you to go Kafka’s “Die Verwandlung”, which made me geek out just a bit. Cool: The cure requirements actually do take into account how you got this corruption, and the corruption’s cure ties in with aforementioned disease, which is surprisingly clever.
Psychomutation represents a rampant expansion of consciousness and evolving psychic powers. As such, the corruption does include abilities like telepathy, telekinesis – basically spell-like abilities that increase in power as the corruption progresses, but there is, obviously, a price to be paid, with corruption point increases. Nice: The corruption is supplemented by the telekinetic fists technomancer spell, which comes in 6 different spell levels. The spell nets you untyped damage, akin to natural weapons. (As an aside: Still think SFRPG’s core rules should have codified damage types there, but since the core rules provide the precedent, I won’t ding the pdf for this.) The cure here is very interesting, having serious consequences for the treatment.
A big personal plus re nomenclature: Therianthropy. That’s the proper name for animal-hybrid causing diseases; “lycan” refers to lupines. The virulence of this one is tied to a planet’s full moon phases, and the corruptions handles silver weapons in an interesting manner. And yes, before you ask –w e do get mechanically-relevant belladonna rules as part of the pretty tricky cure-rpcedure. The manifestations here obviously provide interesting weaponry, forms, etc as well as a pretty massive template graft. Really nice take on the classic concept!
The final corruption included would be vampirism (based on moroi), which nets the hungering maw manifestation and nets you shapechanging, blood draining, etc. – and this corruption can be pretty dangerous foe the infected target, but it also allows clever (and lucky!) players to juggle the corruption…though the Constitution drain this one causes when not indulging properly can make this an interesting tightrope act. We do get a fully fleshed out moroi vampire template graft.
Alexander Augunas’ corruptions add something really cool to Starfinder: Not content with simply reproducing corruptions, he has gone a step beyond: The corruptions here tiptoe the thin line that is hard to get. You see, the corruptions are potent and can really help you realize unique changes of character concepts, and sometimes manage to allow you to portray unique, classic concepts, all while remaining dangerous – they exert allure in their tempting tricks, showcase a powerful array of options, and their cures and virulences allow for roleplaying galore. This is a really great little booklet, and the engine presented will be used in all my SFRPG games. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this gets the EZG Essentials tag for SFRPG games – if you’re as excited as I am for the Grimmerspace setting to come (or the darker parts of blood space!), then consider this to be a must-buy indeed!
Starfarer's Codex: Horrifically Overpowered Feats (SFRPG) PDFRogue Genius Games
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An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This collection of horrifically overpowered feats for Starfinder clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Let’s begin with the introduction, shall we? Horrifically Overpowered feats started as a joke for PFRPG, but you know, there is a market for super high-powered gameplay; the popularity of Dreamscarred Press’ Path of War and for gestalting PCs is testament to that. Moreover, the power that PCs have, and the experience of some players does mean that there are bound to be groups out there that have too easy a time when dealing with regular modules. For such groups, GMs can use these feats easily and smoothly to increase the challenge faced. This, alongside the use of Legendary Games’ mythic rules expansions, were some of my own strategies to account for the skill of my players and the power of my PCs.
Fast forward to the Nova Age, and we get some advice on how to use these in our campaigns. To quote the pdf:
The pdf mentions their use as grafts, as options for super high-powered campaigns, beyond level 20 – some pretty nice suggestions I’d enjoy seeing developed further at one point. The pdf then talks about the new feat types – the first is [Horrifically Overpowered] – that ought to be self-explanatory. The second would be [Mathbreaker] and it’s really interesting: If you’ve taken a very close and analytic look at SFRPG,l you will have noticed that the math of the system is very tightly-wound. These feats, then, allow you to break the underlying numbers at the assumption of power per level. The pdf explicitly notices that no character should have more than one of those.
The third feat type is one that’ll be familiar for PFRPG-veterans – the [Meta-Attack] feat. These allow for the modification of attacks in the way that technomancers can use magic hacks to modify spells. They mostly are swift actions and modify one attack – that may be anything that requires an attack roll or full attack action. These don’t change the nature of the attack – Empower Attack would, for example, not simply add damage to a grapple if it doesn’t inflict damage without the feat. Quickened Attack is an exception, and allows for a single attack as a swift action, and may add it to other attacks or to make a separate attack. Quickened attacks may not be enhanced with [Meta-Attack] feats. These feats have a certain amount of uses, which are replenished after a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points. The pool of these attacks is unified, and while additional uses are gained at higher levels, these are applied once to the pool, and not per [Meta-Attack] feat.
The[Mathbreaker] feats allow for the addition of a mental ability modifier to all saves, always going first in combat, having a minimum EAC and KAC, having your class level as BAB, treating all weapons as having an item level equal to your character level, always Take 20 instead of rolling a chosen skill…and what about the two feats that set your base ability scores (either physical or mental) all all 18s, before modifications? OUCH.
The regular [Horrifically Overpowered] feats include gaining a full archetype’s benefits in addition to your usual class features; there is a feat that nets you a full drone or exocortex. There is a 1/day feat that lets you pronounce DENIED, automatically negating a single attack, maneuver, spell, etc. There is a feat that makes you never provoke attacks of opportunity ever again; Easier to Keep Track had me LOL really hard. You must be built as an NPC and have no Resolve, sure – but you simply can’t be killed for 3 rounds. On the fourth round, anything that inflicts damage kills you. Quick and dirty and pretty funny. Gaining full spellcasting, endless cleaving, old-school style, and there is a feat for 3 extra lives. It should also be noted that this pdf is genuinely funny in its crunch. The special line of the latter one, for example, reads: “This feat can be taken more than once. (Although, really, you need to take Toughness if you’re dying that often. Or just stand closer to the envoy and mystic.) Each time you take it, the number of times your character may freely return from the dead increases by three.“ Yep, this is actually a pretty fun-to-read crunch-book! Casting multiple spells is also included, but that was to be expected at this point, right?
The feats are btw. organized in a nice manner: We get a list of feats, alphabetic and organized by type, and the write-up of the feats themselves is alphabetic.
Owen K.C. Stephens delivers, big time – the feats herein are ridiculously overpowered in hilarious ways, but retain their ability to be used in the game. These obviously are not intended for every group, but if you’re looking for something ludicrously over-the-top, then this has you covered! Larger than life and far out, this is a great toolkit to add to your arsenal. Chances are decent I won’t ever play a campaign with the PCs using these, but for e.g. a super-charged showdown? As a result of an artifact or the like? There are plenty of scenes where this can allow for a remarkable and novel change of pace – on both a long-term and short-term side. These need to be carefully contemplated, and by design, they break the assumptions of the game. But they do so in a fun-enhancing manner. 5 stars + seal of approval.
Advanced Adventures #21: The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates (OSRIC)Expeditious Retreat Press
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An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Advanced Adventures-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was requested as one of a series of reviews by one of my patreon supporters.
All right, so this module is intended for 6 – 10 characters level 4 – 7, and the minimum number of players, at least without modifying a component of the module rather extensively, you do need at least 6 players (or at least PCs) to use this one. Rules-wise, this employs the OSRIC rules-set, and the module may be translated to other OSR games with relative ease. As always for the series, there are a few formatting convention deviations, and the module does not come with read-aloud text.
Now, while nominally designated as a tournament/convention module, this adventure does not feature a meat-grinder-like level of challenge; it works perfectly well as an insertion into an ongoing campaign. That being said, this is very much a well-rounded module in the challenges it poses, offering exploration, puzzles and combat – it does take player skill to beat. The adventure does come with scoring notes, a page of tournament character pregens in a table (with all notes) and a second version that has only the crucial pregen info on a page.
PCs surviving the module will be granted a special ring that acts as a safety net, healing them fully once. The module does come with 5 new creatures, two of which get their own artworks in b/w – these deserve special mentioning, as both artworks are amazing: The dust weird (snake of dust) actually looks awesome, and the obsidian sandman manages to look pretty badass. Beyond these, we have pretty boring guardian giants, a more interesting formaldehyde jelly and skysharks. Yep, you read that correctly!
All right, this is far as I can go here without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only referees around? Great!
More importantly, there are two ginormous statues – a colossal lion, and a similarly gargantuan statue of a somewhat pseudo-Greek warrior. The statue has a side-view map and top-down maps for the respective rooms, for the lion’s share of the module is about exploring the gigantic soldier statue – the inside of the gigantic statue is basically a science-fantasy dungeon that features unique and fun challenges, including pools of strange liquids inside of the statue’s stomach. The combat challenges inside feature crypt things, a riddle (which is represented as a 1/3rd page handout), and there are plenty of intriguing scenes – you see, there is, for example, a programmed illusion of a certain character fireballing the room after a couple of disputes, which can generate some nice paranoia in a tournament context. Duplicate zombies that can only be defeated by their equivalent, among other targets, may be found here. There are some clever uses of hazards and the like, but ultimately, to live through the adventure, the PCs will not only have to explore the statue – they will have to (probably) backtrack and collect quite an array of exotic components to finally access the statue’s control mechanisms.
You see, this ginormous statue comes with proper stats, and actually is a Power Rangers-like colossus that may be operated by the PCs – the statue has 7 stations, and ruby and marble thrones allow the PCs to operate the gigantic warrior – and make it fight against the gigantic lion statue monstrosity for the edification of the cosmic forces out there. The stations themselves allow casters to influence the options available for the colossus (rogues in the feet enhance AC, while monks provide a smaller bonus, but net a potent attack, for example), and yep, this is an impressive and awesome finale of suitably epic proportions! While, on a didactic level, the way in which the colossus’ operation works could be explained slightly clearer, this is me nitpicking.
Joseph Browning knows how to write neat modules. His second tournament module oozes science-fantasy/planar awesomeness, and features a truly epic finale. The blend of challenges between hazards, combat and stuff that engages your mental faculties is great and makes this a rather cool and well-rounded adventure. This is definitely one of the high-lights of the series so far, and a module I can wholeheartedly recommend. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This pdf 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!
One note: This is an early offering of Lost Spheres Publishing, who went under my radar for far too long. The class was originally published way back in 2013, so that’s something to bear in mind.
All right, so, the echo gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, and may choose 8 skills to be the class skills of the class. (This *may* have been the first class to do this!) The echo has a ¾ BAB-progression, as well as good Reflex and Will-saves, and the echo is proficient with simple weapons. Proficiency, however, is covered by the mirror memory class feature: An echo is proficient in the use of any armor, weapon or shield they have seen used in the last 24 hours. Additionally, echoes may activate any magic or psionic item they have seen activated in the last 24 hours, using class level as manifester/caster level, when relevant.
An echo begins play with a pool of reflections equal to 3 + echo class level. As long as they have at least one reflection left, they may maintain a psionic focus as though they had a power point reserve (good catch there!) and reflections are replenished after 8 hours of rest.
Reflections may be used in a variety of ways: An echo may spend a reflection as a free action to echo a feat, which, for one round, exchanges a feat for another that they have seen used within the last Charisma modifier rounds. Potential problem here: The prerequisite angle. RAW, the echo could gain access to feats that build upon others, but which aren’t necessarily used (such as in some of the more complex feat chains) this way. Depending on how you run your game, this may be considered to be a bug or a feature. The second use is echo familiarity, which lets the echo, for one round, gain a +2 circumstance bonus to a skull they’ve seen used. If the echo uses this ability to replicate a non-class skill, they add Charisma modifier to the roll. This is interesting, in that it may make the echo mirroring a skill actually better than the echo learning one. Regarding skills, btw.: 3rd level nets remembrance, which lets them choose a skill they used the base echo familiarity (see below) on; this skill is permanently added to the list of class skills, and another is gained at every odd level.
Now, Lost Spheres Publishing has codified power sources for magic in the Transcendent 10-series, introducing the notion of arcane, divine, entropic, temporal, psionic and primal power-sources, and the pdf does recap the basic information there. At 1st level, an echo chooses one such source of power. For one reflection, the echo can then replicate a single spell or power with that source that they witnessed within the past round, as a standard action. This fixed action economy can yield some strange results, and the ability suddenly speaks of reflection points, when previously, there was no “point” mentioned, but the ability thankfully does have limiters: The spell or power must have an effective level equal to no more than half the Echo’s level rounded up. Such mirrored spells or powers are resolved as spell-like or psi-like abilities at the caster or manifester level of the original caster/manifester or the echo, whichever is lower. Minor nitpick: PFRPG doesn’t have effective caster levels. Ignore that word. DCs are the originals, or 10 + the effect’s level + the echo’s Charisma modifier, whichever is lower. Kudos: This does NOT allow you to echo costly tricks – effects with material components of 100 gp + are exempt.
At 2nd level, the echo gains a deeper reflection, chosen from a list of 5: Cascade allows you to treat your own mirror power as a valid target for your own mirror power, allowing you to loop one action you mirrored. The deeper reflection may be taken additional times, with additional uses allowing you to mirror yourself anew. If you played Final fantasy VII back in the day, and remember the easy strategy to defeat Emerald Weapon, mimicking quadruple-summoned knights of the round, then mimic this with the mimic material, then you’ll know how this works: Each choice of cascade basically nets you one additional star in your mimic material. (If you’re one of the nerds who, like me, puzzled out how to kill the weapons before the advent of GameFAQs, consider yourself high-five’d!)
Facet of power, as a choice, allows you to choose another power-source. Depth of Reflection increases the echo’s level by 1 for the purpose of determining which spells and powers may be replicated. Memory of power lets you select one spell or power the echo was personally affected by that is one level lower than the maximum level the echo can currently mimic. The echo is always considered to be capable of using that one. Finally, twin strikes lets the echo, when using a weapon of the same type as a target within Close range, resolve attacks with the target’s base attack bonus, provided the attacks are made within 1 round of witnessing the attack. (If you have Lasting Impression, which is gained at 5th level), you may do so for a number of rounds equal to twice that extended duration.
Lasting Impression extends the duration of the timeframe wherein an echo can mimic a power by 1 round, and the ability extends the timeframe further at 9th, 13th, 17th and 19th level. (This means that, e.g. twin strikes of an echo of 14th level would last for 6 rounds, as the lasting impression extension is equal to 3 rounds for spell/power-mimicking.)
Starting at 10th level, the class gets their advanced talents of sorts, the so-called dark reflections, which may be chosen instead of deeper reflections. One of these allows for the use of mirror power as a counterspell mechanic based on opposed caster level check. The second one allows you to choose one creature type, and then nets you the option to go blue mage and mirror supernatural abilities of the creature type, with class level equal to CR-2 being the maximum that prevents really ugly cheesy exploits. Such SUs must be triggered as a standard action, providing another important anti-abuse caveat. Another dark reflection allows for the echo DC to be substituted, and for the class to use its own caster/manifester level, if higher. At 10th level, this is a well-.situated place for an ability/tweak to the core mechanics of the class. There is also a really complex counterecho-based ability that can be triggered as an immediate action, and that lets you mirror power after a counterecho. It misses a spell italicization, though, and only works if you have counterecho, so it should probably specify that as a prerequisite. Still, nice one! Another one nets the echo a shadow reflection pool equal to Charisma modifier that may only be used to power dark reflections. One of the dark reflections builds on this, and allows the echo to use a shadow reflection powered by that pool and a regular reflection in the same round. This allows for the use of two standard action reflections, though the use of the two does render this a full-round action. (Here, the prerequisite is properly noted) There is a talent that allows the change of the source of power to anther (with the GM having the final say).
At 19th level (not properly noted in the ability’s write-up), the echo gains Hall of Echoes. Or Hall of Reflections, as the class table calls it in an inconsistency. 1/day, the echo may, as a free action, select an effect valid for mirror power with a single target. For 2 reflections, this is resolved on ALL targets within Close range. No, they can’t choose to exclude friends or foes. The capstone lets the class, 1/day spend a reflection to perfectly replicate another character’s full round worth of actions, including spells, attacks, and the ability even takes items into account. The targets, suffice to say, may be designated by the echo.
The pdf also includes 8 different feats: Extra Reflection nets you +2 reflections; Deeper Reflection and Darker Reflection net you an additional deeper or darker reflection, respectively. Absorb Power lets you, as a standard action, spend a reflection to make a touch attack against a character that is eligible for your mirror power base ability. The target gets a Will-save (formatting here is a bit rough, but only aesthetically). On a success, the echo may act as though the target had just activated an eligible spell or power for purposes of the echo’s mirroring. On a failure, the target instead loses access to the spell or power for a number of rounds equal to the echo’s Charisma modifier, during which the echo may mirror it! COOL! Echo item requires 3 ranks in “UMD” – that should read Use Magic Device, and it lets you duplicate powers and spells generated by items, provided you have access to the power source and a facsimile. To duplicate a necklace’s power, a noose or string around the neck, for example. It’s a small touch, but the class has a couple of them, and they make the class feel more…alive? Anyways, Form of Echoes is a crossover feat for Rite Publishing’s Taskshaper. (Nice!)
The pdf also contains two different psionic zone feats: Reflective Resonance creates a 30-foot-zone, which nets psionic characters in the zone a circumstance bonus to ML equal to the number of rounds you have echoed one of their powers. This lasts for up to Charisma bonus rounds, and can be VERY brutal – but enemies do gain this benefit as well… Shattered Resistance does do the same for spells sourced from the same power source.
The pdf offers no favored class options or the like.
And sometimes, being a reviewer and somewhat OCD is awesome. When I was introduced to Lost Spheres Publishing, I duly started getting their material, and began working on it, as I’m wont to, from the back to the front of the catalog, also to get an idea of the evolution of the design. The Transcendent 10-series was, in quite a few instances, a positive surprise for me, but also sported quite a few rough ones. Considering the complexity of the concept of mimicking stuff, and the age of the class, I frankly expected this one to…well, let’s be frank…suck.
Now let me state this clearly: The rules language isn’t always perfect; it has a couple of remnant 3.X-isms, some formatting’s a bit off…but know what? I, for once, found that I don’t really care all that much. Why? Because this class has more ambition than 95% of hybrid classes released for PFRPG COMBINED. It takes a concept that is WIDE OPEN, that just begs to slap together an ill-conceived or too limited interpretation – and genuinely rocks it. The limitations imposed on the echo’s impressive flexibility, the clear intention of being a novel playing experience, the focus of the class – all of that is impressive as heck. This has the blend of ambition, vision, and some would claim madness, that characterizes truly novel and stand-out concepts, and while the formatting is not perfect, it does have the design-chops to make it actually WORK. Rated purely on a formal level, this would be, at best, a 3-star file; however, there is more to a RPG-product than formal criteria…and the functionality of this class, its GUTS, its AMBITION? They are AMAZING. As a person, I thoroughly love this class.
As a reviewer, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to. The supplemental material is barebones, and the class could have used a broader talent selection…but it is my honest belief that this hidden gem still holds up to this date! If you’re comfortable ignoring e.g. an “effective” here and there and want to see a great take on the mimic class concept, if you’re looking for something radically different, then this little gem delivers, big time. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Oh, and yes, this gets my seal of approval. If you’re willing to look past a few cosmetic blemishes, you’ll be rewarded with a truly unique experience here.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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 always, we begin this supplement with a brief contextualization of the race in question within the Xa-Osoro system, before diving into the information on the rougarous, who btw. also hail from the lost world of Azan, destroyed in the cataclysm of the Regicide. Interesting to note would be that the race develops first like wolves, but ages slower, with the second birthday being a benchmark for them to start the development towards a bipedal stance, and their cognitive development is akin to that of humans. While the race has lost their home, they nowadays mostly lair on the largest moon of Ulo, Bantosian. There, they have taken a frontier mentality, blending a healthy dose of the space equivalent of good ole’ American pioneer spirit and erected a democratic, pack-based society for a loose, pretty hand-off council.
Pragmatic and orderly, the depiction of the race makes them feel rather unique – “If it ain’t born in front of you, it ain’t got no business in your home without a good look-over” is a fun maxim for the context of the race, and one that makes sense in the context of themes the race evokes. As always, the race does not feature a “Playing as a rouarou”-section, but we do get a proper subtype graft.
Racial trait-wise, rougarous get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, 6 Hit Points and are Medium humanoids with the shapeshifter and rougarou subtypes and a base speed of 30 ft. Rougarous have blindsense (scent) of up to 30 ft. Each rougarou has an alternate, unique wolf shape of the same age and gender, and they have low-light vision and natural weapons. The racial feat provided is Lupine Shapeshifting, available for rougarou of 3rd level and higher. This one has a variety of choices and may be taken multiple times, and it may be taken as a replacement class feature at 4th, 6th, 12th or 18th level. The feat nets you either +10 ft. movement, the option to render foes prone with unarmed strikes, the option to use Survival instead of Perception to pinpoint unseen creatures as a swift action, or the menacing gaze envoy expertise talent, usable sans expertise die. The interaction with rougarou envoys is properly codified.
Alexander Augunas’ rougarous are mechanically precise, and put a cool spin on the concept of a lupine anthro-race. They don’t reinvent the wheel mechanically, but they do offer something that few races get this well: They understand that a race is more than crunch; it’s also culture, and a sense of plausibility/unique flair. The culturally-specific notes provide a cool backdrop, and the take on the shapeshifting angle is executed with panache and precision. Nothing to complain about – 5 stars.
Dungeon Crawl Classics #73: Emirikol Was Framed! (DCC)Goodman Games
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An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This adventure clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreon supporters.
Judges: Do NOT show the cover or name of the module to the PCs/players! In a pretty dumb decision, the title is a spoiler. -.- The pdf does contain basically a DCC-version of a spell to alter the visage of targets. (level 2, fyi)
The adventure is intended for 6 4th-level characters, and a well-rounded group is very much recommended. While dangerous, the module is not one of the most deadly DCC-modules out there, so survival-chances are decent, if certainly not guaranteed, particularly not without being…ähem…changed. The adventure comes with a table listing encounters, as always, and does feature 4 nice handouts – more on that later in the SPOILER-section. The adventure, as always, comes with well-written read-aloud text that helps less experienced judges evoke the proper atmosphere.
Genre-wise, this is basically a heist/assassination in a wizard’s tower – and in atmosphere, think of this as an heir of the classic “Tower of the Elephant” in its Savage Sword of Conan iteration, on LSD.
Want to know more? Well, all right, but to go into more details, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, so the PCs are minding their own business, when the city erupts in chaos, and winged gorilla-people start slaughtering folks, while a mighty magic-user is setting stuff ablaze! How’s that for an immediate jump into the fray?
In the aftermath of the chaos, the PCs are contacted by a cadre of individuals, who have identified the culprit as the local wizard Emirikol! The planning of the heist with the conspirators is pretty detailed and fun, but can also be handled rather quickly, depending on the preferences of your group…at this point, if you were so careless as to show the cover, the players will be less motivated, for, indeed, while Emirikol is indeed a chaos mage with a whole array of rather unwholesome predilections, he was not responsible. According to the (mostly) correct intel, the conspirators can help the PCs breach the ever-changing, shifting tower, its outsides in an obvious homage, guarded by wild cats, the tower constantly changing its composition. Scaling it can be dangerous, but the PCs will only have a certain timeframe as the mighty wizard ostensibly is in stasis and may be slain.
The main module is about the exploration of Emirikol’s tower, where space and time are not beholden to the limitations of the structure. The tower’s interior, obviously, includes a pterodactyl’s roost, strange trophies. Now, I mentioned handouts – one of them does contain an array of golems in different degrees of completion, and careless PCs may well find themselves locked in the bodies of these half-finished magical constructs. The handout illustrates these bodies, and while not all are ambulatory, many are. The PCs will have to swim up a column of water to traverse floors, venture into a cranium library, and it does some smart things: There is, for example, a chance to look at the adventure’s maps, briefly, before they “animate” and are thrown in the player’s face! In contrast to a couple of other meta-tricks, this one is easy to implement, fun, and should not result in issues – kudos!
There is a massive, sorcerous observatory with bronze scorpions (awesome!) and a sorcerous workshop that contains the magical weapon Ruin, a blade of liquid metal with a pretty nasty tendency to fan the fires of ambition… The module also includes the Kaj, a unique entity (represented in one of the handouts) that share actions between their bodies, making for a great boss…or rather, penultimate boss fight.
You see, arriving at Emirikol’s true sanctum, the wizard is NOT happy – his erstwhile lover, the powerful Leotah turned bitter adversary, was actually the culprit behind the unprompted chaos in the city, and the instigator of the plot that sent the PCs inside. (Both archmages are btw. represented on a handout!) As his constructs of iron burst through the walls, Leotah and her gorillamen crash inside the tower, starting an epic duel of spells and servitor creatures, with the PCs caught in the middle. A handy table helps the judge to keep track of all those targets – for at this point, most groups will probably conclude that neither wizard should triumph. Thus, the smartest move probably will be attempting to take down the Glass Darkly (NICE!), which, in a final nod towards the classics, initiates the tower collapse. Here’s to hope that the PCs don’t dawdle or are held back…for after this adventure, they’ll probably have made at least one powerful enemy, one with plenty of experience recovering from death…if the judge has a romantic streak and the PCs were particularly successful, the two mighty wizards may well end up reunited once again, focused in their spite and hatred for the PCs…just saying…
Michael Curtis provides a great homage of a Sword & Sorcery classic, seen through the aesthetics of DCC – it’s like playing through a Bal-Sagoth track. Outrageous, brutal and cool, oozing flavor, this is one of my favorite “Wizard’s Tower”-themed modules. It gets what makes a great wizard’s tower stand out – risk and reward are entwined, and while PCs can die and suffer horrible fates, these tend to be the result of greed or daring. Skill really helps, and being anything short of smart will be punished. Harshly. The finale is harsh and epic as well. The spoiler in the title is something I wished this had avoided, and the lack of player-friendly maps is a downside. And yet, I adore this one to bits. It has all those small touches that show that the author cared even about the small stuff, it oozes flair, and if you just remotely like Sword & Sorcery, then this’ll be right up your alley. All in all, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars, and because I’m a sucker for the theme, I’ll also award this my seal of approval.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This Galaxy Pirates supplement clocks in at 7, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, the fast attack ship of the Katar is a tier 8 Large Destroyer that comes equipped with a pulse prismatic power core, a basic drift engine and mk 4 armor as well as mk 6 defenses. The ship uses a mk 2 trinode computer, good crew quarters and basic medium-range sensors. Expansion bay-wise, we have 3 cargo holds. Weaponry-wise, we have a particle beam and heavy torpedo launchers facing forward; aft features a light torpedo launcher, while port and starboard feature a laser net. The turret features a light particle beam. With a speed of 10 hexes, these ships have the equivalent of L10 thrusters. With 200 shields, slightly skewed towards forward and aft, the ship has some staying power.
Crew-wise, this one has a captain and pilot, 3 engineers, 6 gunners and 2 science officers; the crew is generally pretty capable, with +21 in Bluff and Diplomacy making for high values. The Piloting is similarly high at +21. The pdf does come with a Computers-table that allows PCs to know things about the vessel, but it should be noted that the table contradicts the ship’s statblock: The table states it has 2 cargo holds, when the statblock notes 3. This is a pretty minor hiccup, though. If you’ve been doing your math, you’ll realize that this ship does use its full PU-budget, which makes sense.
As always, we get a filled-out version of the cool ship-sheets featured in these pdfs, and a one-page handout-style artwork of this cool ship, as well as paper-mini-style versions. The star here, though? The full-color map that does show the respective weaponry, the quarters, etc, including a katar garden and the like – it is gorgeous and really cool.
Paul Fields and Jim Milligan deliver a great little supplement here. The sleek attack vessel feels like the equivalent of a lancer’s attack vessel, and makes great use of its budget. The aesthetic components are top-notch, and as a whole, I consider this to be well worth getting. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised versionEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the ship-supplements released under the Galaxy Pirates brand clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, so we have three iterations of the eldred heavy fighter in this pdf, all of which clock in at tier ½. All are Tiny vessels, and the MK 3 version is an interceptor with basic 20 shields and a coilgun. The interceptor comes with mk 4 defenses and armor, which means it clocks in at AC and TL 17.
The MK 1 and 2 ship versions are instead built as fighters, and thus have 5 Hull Points more. The MK 1 version also has mk 4 defenses and armor. All of the three ships come with their own Computers-lore section for PCs to know things about the ships. The MK 1 and MK 2 versions previously had some hiccups, which have been promptly fixed!
We get a full-color one-page, handout style version of the ship, and the pdf does come with paper stand-in minis. The pdf, as always, contains a form-filled version of the different ships in the cool starship sheets this series offers.
The fighters by Paul Fields and Jim Milligan are a solid offering, and while they’re not perfect, they cost a grand total of a single buck; and they indeed are worth the low asking price. With the updates fixing the hiccups, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This massive compilation clocks in at 165 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page foreword, 1 page advice on reading statblocks, leaving us with 155.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, so, on the half page that is left by the ToC, we get a handy list of random encounters by EL, as well as a list of statblocks by type, followed by a statblock by CR-list – this makes, obviously, navigation much smoother for the GM.
But what do we get exactly in this one? Well, for one, we have system neutral dressing tables collected within – 10 Atypical Caves, 10 Atypical Cavern Encounters, 12 Natural Cavern Hazards, 20 Pieces of Cavern Dressing and 20 Things to Find in a Purple Worm Stomach are included. Sound familiar? Yep, this is basically “20 Things: Dark Caverns.” Similarly, the dressing file for Fallen Dwarven Holds and Subterranean Mines are included herein. It should also be noted that the massive dressing table for Cave & Cavern dressing from the excellent original “Caves & Caverns”-book.
Speaking of this much-beloved classic: The book also provides the “Ebon Realm” section, which provides super-handy tables for travel times, through primary, secondary, tertiary tunnels, etc. This section also cover air quality, rules-relevant hazards and sidebars for skill use. We also cover variant cave-ins, illumination and the book includes notes on walls, obstructions, and more. Water, including flash floods, a sample cavern map (player-friendly) and a proper glossary would be provided. In short, this reproduces pretty much the gold-standard for making the basics of any cavern system stand out, feel alive…so if you don’t already own the original “Caves & Caverns” book, this pretty much warrants getting this book on its own. Speaking of the original book: A significant part of said tome was devoted to a plethora of rather excellent subterranean random encounters that went above and beyond in both set-up and how they’re prepared. They are fully statted, and where applicable, reproduce e.g. the underwater combat rules in a cheat-sheet style sidebar, making them convenient for the GM to run.
Beyond this book being basically the expanded iteration of a true classic, we also have the “Ancient Empire of the Troglodytes” supplement reproduced within, alongside the “Places of Power: The Midnight Market”-installment that features a neutral zone black market perched precariously atop a vast chasm in the realms below. Beyond these two files, we also have the entirety of the lamentably short-lived Subterranean Enclaves-series included: Severed Umbra, Deephearth, Fanghome, Dilath’s Hold, Mith’Varal. Wait…isn’t there something missing? Yep, oddly, the entire series is included, but Flenheim, the rather wicked derro enclave, oddly, seems to have been excluded from this book.
Creighton Broadhurst, Ron Calbick, Kalyna Conrad, Jeff Gomez, Eric Hindley, Brian Wiborg Mønster, David Posener, Alex Riggs, Mike Welham – this cadre of high-class authors provides a massive book here – one that goes above and beyond what you usually get to see from the Campaign Backdrops-series. In short: This not only provides some lavishly-detailed dressing files, collected for your convenience. Instead, it is easily one of the crunchiest books Raging Swan press ever released, courtesy of the inclusion of the absolutely brilliant “Caves & Caverns.” The fact that this collects more than dressing files makes this behave essentially like an expanded and improved version of an already fantastic offering, so if you don’t have “Caves & Caverns” already, then get this ASAP. If you already have the constituent files, this may still be worth the price of admittance for you, particularly in print/if you’re like me and end up using such well-organized compilations more often than disparate pdfs/print-outs. My final verdict will thus clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This deluxe-sized Star Log-installment clocks 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!
Sooo, the first thing you need to know here, is that “planar scions” is the catch-all term for races suffused by planar energies; these, previously, often turned out to be humans, but in the Nova Age, this no longer necessarily holds true. The races herein thus have the mortal heritage trait. This trait lets them choose a base race of sorts from a list, and gains the race-trait noted. The Disguise check to pass off as said race is not modified, and mortal heritage affects the size of the character in question, and while they are native outsiders, the planar scions retain the mortal heritage’s race’s subtypes. How much is covered? A TON. The pdf includes coverage of quite an array of legacy races, covers races from Alien Archive I and II, races from other Starfinder sources like the Khizar, and, of course, a whole array of races hailing from the Blood Space-soaked (infused? Not sure whether blood space infused/permeates…but I like “soak”…) Xa-Osoro system, including favorites of mine like the msvokas or ydreft. (Yep, this encompasses even races like rougarous etc.)
Their racial Hit Points are, for the most part, left untouched, though a few types of planar scions do increase or decrease the amount by +2 or -2. It should be noted that each of the scion-race write-ups fits on one page, so the supplemental fluff has been cut out. No “Playing as a XYZ”, etc. sections – but considering their nature as a template race of sorts to be slotted on top of existing ones, I get the decision. (Plus, I was genuinely grateful – I really didn’t want to read for the oomphteenth time how tieflings are mistrusted, etc. – at this point, I think we all get how these fellows fit into most cosmologies…)
All righty, so let’s take a look, all right? Aasimar get Cha+2, and choose a celestial heritage, which nets ½ character level resistance versus 3 energy types, as determined by 4 celestial subtypes to choose from. Aasimar have darkvision 60 ft., and, as a standard action, can shed light within 10 ft. – the interaction with magical darkness effects and the increased light level has been tied to either CR or item level, which is clever.
Ganzi make a return, get +2 HP, +2 Con, Cha and -2 Int, darkvision 60 ft., and gain ½ level resistance to three energy types, depending on whether they are descendents of proteans or valkyries. They begin play with a planar oddity (more on that later) and may select Unlock Planar oddity as a replacement class feature at 5 of their levels.
Ifrit get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, darkvision 60 ft, their level as fire resistance, as well as a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. fire-based attacks and effects. Ifrit can generate flashlight-bright balls of flame at will, and may 1/day as a standard action, infuse such a ball with destructive energy, making it behave as an incendiary grenade, with an item level equal to the character’s level.
Oread get +2 racial HP, +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, darkvision 60 ft., their level as acid resistance and +2 to saves versus acid- and earth-based attacks and effects. They also get natural weapons, which may be enhanced when a mortal heritage would already grant them. Nice catch.
Suli get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int, low-light vision and may 1/day as a swift action shroud their arms in energy, which lasts for 1 round per level, and bestows their choice of the four base elemental fusions to their weapon wielded, which may be circled as a swift action. Nice one, and one that really wants to be expanded upon. They also get ½ their level as a resistance versus the 4 base energy damage types (i.e. sonic excluded) and +1 to saves versus such effects. Note that, in contrast to the oread, earth-based attacks are NOT included in that array. Nice, small way of differentiation there.
Sylphs decrease racial HP by 2 (minimum 1), +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con, +2 to saves vs. air- and electricity-based attacks and effects, darkvision 60 ft., and when they fall, they can use a reaction and Acrobatics to fall safely, with the DC beaten allowing for lateral movement expansion. 5th level nets a 30 ft. supernatural fly speed with perfect maneuverability.
Tieflings get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Cha, darkvision 60 ft., and these fellows get a planar oddity, and may, once more, select Unlock Planar oddity as a replacement class feature. They also get resistance equal to half their level (as always, minimum 1) to 3 energy types depending on the fiendish bloodline.
Undine get +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Str, darkvision 60 ft. and are immune to environmental effects related to depth and pressure (I think this does not include depressurization) and don’t take penalties while fighting underwater; they can breathe both air and water and have a 30 ft. swim speed. They get +2 to saves vs. cold- and water-based attacks and effects.
Now, I already mentioned planar oddities, so let’s take a look at those, shall we? There are two feats – one to Unlock Mortal Heritage (plus one racial trait from mortal heritage race) and Unlock Planar Oddity, which nets you, bingo, one planar oddity. Some oddities have prerequisites, and DCs to resist their effects are 10 +1/2 the character’s level + key ability modifier; skill checks to resist have a DC equal to 10 + 1.5 x character level + key ability modifier. The oddities include +1 to saves vs. afflictions, being ageless, change shape, change size, +1 AC, blindsense (accounts for type); there is an option to grant yourself a +1 AC bonus vs. projectile and thrown weapons. Squeezing due to malleable body; +1 caster level with a descriptor chosen and contingent on heritage; an inverse light decrease based on the aasimar ability; character level as DR, using water for a 1/day ranged maneuver, natural weapons, prehensile tail, 1/day force a foe to reroll a d20; sense through darkness, smoke, stone or water – and finally, skilled, speak with animals and vestigial wings can be found, as well as weapon familiarity. Minor nitpick: A few of these, the limited ones, seem like Resolve would have been a good call for recharge options, but that is just me nitpicking.
Alexander Augunas’ planar scions are nice – they have a common baseline that I really enjoy; it makes them feel like parts of the same, grand facet, internally consistent. They are more distinct than I expected them to be, and the planar oddity engine is intriguing, allowing for further differentiation between them. The supplement also uses SFRPG’s peculiarities in smart ways. That being said, particularly the means to unlock specific parental race combos can be, system-immanently, something that GMs should keep an eye on. The wide open nature here can potentially result in potent combos, but the framework as a whole is solid - but it does unlock the concept for all races, which is AWESOME. Oh, and usually, I really dislike planar scions – this one, with all its customizing and unlocking them for other races? It makes them cooler, more diverse and frankly, what they should have always been. 5 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This expansion for the Spheres of Power-system clocks in at 36 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After a brief 2-page introduction and guidance on how to use this book, we begin with the new archetype-section, which, this time around, covers 8 new archetypes. The first of these would be the bonewright armorist, who gets Death as a bonus sphere and modifies summon equipment; instead of calling forth materials, these fellows sculpt or form weapons and armor from bodies – their own or the dead. Summoning equipment from undead reanimated within the last hour does not cost a spell point; (as an aside: 20th level makes calling equipment from bodies or the character free) without a corpse on hand, the archetype has to “spend” 1d4 hit points, +1d4 per point of enhancement bonus, the damage representing the realignment of bones et al. This damage may not be reduced or redirected, but it may be healed, so it doesn’t behave as burn. The archetype also offers an array of 8 exclusive arsenal tricks, and a few of these do modify the Attack action. The tricks allow for bone weapons to be particularly effective against the same species as the donor, the full use of equipment, even while grappled due to grafted weaponry, making targets battered, etc. Battered? Well, yeah, like in Spheres of Might – and if you don’t have the book, fret not – while you’ll be missing out on one of the best books for PFRPG out there, this book does offer the relevant rules for your convenience. Healing by absorbing bone (thankfully associated with a spell point cost), debuffs added to attacks, etc. – all in all, a flavorful archetype, though there are a few purely cosmetic typos to be found here.
Soul adept elementalists replace Escape Artist with Knowledge (religion) and get the Death sphere instead of 2nd level’s bonus feat. Favored element is replaced with Ghostly Admixture (Reprinted ehre, but for convenience’s sake: It’s the ghost strike blast option), and may use the feat to use Admixtures even without the (btw. reprinted) talent. 9th level and 15th level add half and full level, respectively, to damage dealt with Ghostly Admixture blasts. Elemental defense is replaced with a scaling bonus to saves vs. stuff you’d associate with necromancy like death effects, disease, etc. Elemental movement is replaced with wraith form, which may be activated as a move action and renders the archetype incorporeal, for up to class level + casting ability modifier rounds. Being trapped in a corporeal object when the duration elapses is properly covered. The archetype also has a custom capstone, which nets immunity to death effects, sneak attacks and critical hits as well as DR 10/magic. Sneak is an odd one to list here, as it is a specific ability, in contrast to e.g. studied strike etc..
Cursed stranger gunslingers alter grit and lose gunsmith in favor of cursed hands, which autobreaks any gun the slinger touches, but as long as she has at least 1 grit, she doesn’t automatically miss, nor does it explode. Misfiring thus also replenishes a point of grit. Kudos: The ability has a caveat that prevents abuse via kittens, helpless targets etc. The archetype can choose Death sphere talents based on reanimate as bonus feats, and the archetype has 3 custom deeds: Cursed bullets, at 3rd level the option to reanimate a target shot as per the ability, using full class level, and 11th level increases the debuff of the cursed bullets. The dread crusader mageknight begins play with the Death sphere and Necromantic Limit drawback, as well as Cryptic Strike, using class level as CL for the latter. The archetype’s three mystic combats increase Cryptic Strike damage, and has two mystic combats that allow the character to build upon to spend spell point to attack more targets in reach.
Jinkininki rangers lose favored enemy with the pretty grisly requirement to consume the dead to gain the benefits against the targets, which is pretty cool. Favored terrain, camouflage and hide in plain sight are replaced with +2 to initiative and Stealth in dim light or darkness, with higher levels providing darkvision and a spell point based frightful presence . Stealth and initiative benefits are assigned to lighting conditions, and the archetype is a Low-Caster governed by Wisdom, with class level -3 + Wisdom modifier points, and a magic talent gained at 5th level and every 2 levels thereafter. The archetype may also choose Necrosis feats as combat style feats.
Necrosis feats are a new category of feats herein, in that they have effects on the character: Necrosis feats taint you, and make it progressively harder to return the character back from the dead, but they also increase in power based on the number of Necrosis feats you have, with 4 necrosis feats being a common threshold. Necrosis feats that require being activated as an immediate action may be activated with the same immediate action, and a character gets spell points equal to the number of necrosis feats they have. I assume this is gained ONCE, not per necrosis feat – this could be more clearly stated. These feats allow for the reversal of reacting towards positive and negative energy, we can find cold and electricity resistance, natural armor bonus and DR, blindsense to notice bleeding targets (and directly affect them via ghost strikes), and even a phylactery-lite-version may be found – per se a solid and nice concept, somewhat akin to Akashic feats, lite-version. The 4-feat-plus benefits often btw. make the benefits last longer or enhance them in similar manners; another hazard against which you get a save-boost, etc.
But for now, let’s return to the archetypes: The spectral infiltrator is suitable for rogue/unchained rogue, and loses trap/danger senses as well as the talents gained at 2nd, 6th and 14th level. For those, the archetype gets ghostwalk, the option to use a move action to ignore difficult terrain and move alongside surfaces, gaining class level to Stealth, with the total duration per day 3 + class level. At higher levels, this allows for flight and quicker activation. Nitpick: ghost touch reference not italicized properly. The four exclusive talents include a chance to cause Wisdom damage to targets seeking to mind-control, trigger-change for magical traps and an untyped damage (not a fan) via incorporeal touch attacks, while the other upgrades ghostwalking. The archetype also comes with 3 advanced talents and a custom capstone. Surprisingly nice engine-tweak!
The spheres of power shifter-class gets the famine spirit archetype, who gets Alteration and Death instead of shapeshifter, and a variety of animal empathy that works only with pretty dumb undead and that improves at higher levels, replacing the communication abilities. Endurance is replaced with the bite bestial trait. Higher levels make those slain by the bite harder to return to life, and the swallow whole ability, including acid. This includes being capable of swallowing targets larger than the character, and bite attack/Vital Strike’d bites. Fun fact: I had a character like this in my very first Ravenloft campaign back in the 3.0 days, and while my rules back then were obviously less refined, this did make me smile, concept-wise.
The gravecrawler symbiat replaces mental powers with Mind and Death, and instead of psionics, implants drones in creatures, creating a rather icky (and awesome, flavorwise!) collective that allows for the surveillance of targets implanted. The trap sense is replaced with swarm powers – you see, the archetype carries a unique insect-colony inside, and begins play with 2 swarm abilities chosen from a massive list; another is gained at 3rd level and every 3rd level thereafter, and 7th and 13th level allow for the quicker use of these abilities. If applicable, Intelligence is the governing ability score modifier, and from debuff droning to burrow speed and to cocooning targets, discorporation (tightly codified within the spheres system), etc., the options here are delightful. While there are a few italicizations missing, this one is AWESOME. 9th level, for example, allows you to affect your drones with Mind and Death sphere effects, regardless of line of effect, and yes, undead reanimated do have drones and the whole Mind/Death-synergy thing actually comes together really well with awesome visuals! This one is a winner of a class hack and ends the engine-tweak-centric archetype chapter on a high note!
The basic magic chapter offers a couple of options that plenty of folks have been asking for: These include going Diablo 2 necromancer with corpse bombs, instilling cannibalistic urges via your (ghost strike)s, manipulate corpses to e.g. regrow skin or change the appearance (awesome for investigative scenarios)…and yes, there is a powerful option to sacrifice undead to take the hit for you. No, it can’t be cheesed. Undead may also be used to deliver ghost strikes, we can find an option that allows you to grant undead combat feats, talents or teamwork feats and the means to hamper and even negate healing of ghost strike’d targets. Teaching tricks to undead, and absorbing targets into your negative energy-infused flesh…some cool ones here.
The advanced magic section contains 4 new talents – one for combining undead, one for a sphere-based haunt-creation, and there is a means to painlessly kill allies – which then may be called back from the beyond easier. For complex infiltrations/intrigue/etc., this is pretty neat. There also is an option to bypass death effect immunity, which should be handled with care – obviously. Now, I’ve already talked about some of the new feats, namely the new Necrosis feat category, but we do have more: A feat that prevents bleed effects from being stilled by magic, for example, is pretty cool – and yes, Sanguinist’s Handbook’s review is coming very soon! There also are (Dual Sphere) feats, including for example and impressive one with the Weather sphere, which allows you to animate a ton of undead, provided it ours enough. It’s a small thing, but I love how this explains in-game why undead come out of their graves in hordes preferably when it storms. Cooperative undead commanding may also be found, and Destruction fans will probably enjoy the option to apply (blast shape) talents to ghost strikes. Note, though: Considering some of the combos with AoE attacks via ghost strike, this bears keeping a close eye on. While it does thankfully provide a Will-save to negate, it can become deadly rather fast. Ghost strike in melee, and we have an Improved enhancer for Cryptic Strike. Death and Telekinesis may be used in conjunction, which blends neatly the Poltergeist component with the other sphere. There is also a nice charmed life tweak that allows you one of three rather neat defensive tricks due to being a Skeletal Contortionist, and there are feats to specialize on variant necromancy, and the option to get an undead animal companion. The pdf includes a new trait (Benefits:-header missing) that nets you a 1 HD necrotic marionette, and we get 4 nice sphere-specific drawbacks. What’s that marionette? It’s basically a puppet that counts as a corpse, and is featured in the new equipment section. NICE. The section also introduces splinter orbs (also known as bone balls) – basically skeletons in a ball, easy to carry around. The book concludes with salient advice for GMing necromancy, an errata of Greater Undead for use with the material, and a recap of haunt rules and being incorporeal – handy.
“Yawn, yet another Necromancer book.” Nope, actually, this has quite a few often neglected tricks. Back when Spheres of Power first hit stores, I found myself enjoying the take on necromancy, and this book provided some genuinely positive surprises. The archetype section was off to a slow start, but kept its biggest and most impressive components for last – both famine spirit and gravecrawler are impressive beasts indeed, with the former being a cooler take on the wendigo/famine-trope than many I’ve seen before. The Necrosis feats as a means to reward specialization are a nice angle, though I do believe that offering a broader range when the additional benefits kick in may be prudent, if only to avoid all of them kicking off with taking the fourth feat. That being said, at the same time, the combination of more precise formatting and some genuinely creative and fun options means that Luke Williams and Adam Meyers have created one really nice sphere-expansion. While there are a few components where a slight bit of polish may be prudent, these are few and far in-between. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform – this is simply closer to the 5 than to the 4 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!
We begin this supplement with a nice int5roduction to the race and its most prominent members in the Xa-Osoro system (one of which erroneously calls them “saursi”, as a purely aesthetic nitpick), before we begin with the physical description. Cool: The xaursi are differentiated between 2 subspecies – the diurnal xal and the nocturnal oso (which is btw. also noted in the abbreviated NPC-reference), who are, in a nice linguistic touch, obviously named after the binary stars of the system. Xal have brilliantly-white plumage, while oso have darker plumage. Note that parentage doesn’t provide an indicator of which subspecies the offspring will be, which resulted in the belief that the twin-stars’ patronage is what determines the xaursi’s plumage. The speckled plumage of these folks can store solar energy, dancing across them like scintillating lasers. The xaursi’s homeworld has been destroyed by the cataclysmic Regicide, and nowadays, the orphaned race, always focusing on a dualistic and holistic approach, has been tinted with twangs of sadness and loss. The write-up paints a diverse and concise picture here.
As always, the only thing not included in the write-up would be the “Playing as a xaursi..:”-section of roleplaying advice. On a plus-side, the xaursi do get their own subtype graft, which is awesome, but misses two (very minor) things – a closed bracket after flight maneuverability, and the notice that the fly speed granted should be extraordinary. Then again, the latter can be deduced from consulting the xaursi’s proper racial write-up.
Speaking of which: Xaursi are Small and have a 20 ft. base speed and 30 ft. extraordinary flight with average maneuverability. As a balancing tool, until 5th level, their flight needs to end on solid ground each turn. Kudos. Xaursi have 2 Hit Points, and all get +2 Dexterity and -2 Constitution; xal get +2 Charisma, while oso get +2 Wisdom. Their unique feathers can create a variety of effects via faerie feathers as a move action. They can shed light in a 10 ft.-radius; get +2 to Bluff made to feint, Disguise to change appearance or Stealth made to hide; +2 to dirty tricks made to blind targets or resistance 2 versus a single energy type, chosen from fire or electricity. Only one of these effects may be in effect; dismissing the effect or changing it, is as well a move action. The race also gets low-light vision, natural attacks and a +2 racial bonus on saves vs. darkness, light and shadow effects.
The pdf includes a new feat that allows a xaursi to have two feather effects in effect at a given time.
This is the first file by Hilary Murphy Moon that I’ve analyzed, and it is a really pleasant surprise. The xaursi are not just another bland bird-race – they have an interesting angle on the fluff side;and on the rules-side, their plumage-based abilities are creative, and from balance regarding flight to the bonus-typing, the race is creative, precise and fun. I know that the plumage component warrants further expansion – I’d really like to see more from these owl-folk! All in all, definitely a race worth recommending at a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Great job for a freshman offering indeed!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This expansion book for Spheres of Power clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by one of my readers.
So, while the default pathfinder magic item creation rules work without a big snag in conjunction with Spheres of Power, this pdf does endeavor to provide a more sphere-centric approach to the subject matter. Thus, we begin with the basic assumptions: To create a magic item, a caster must possess the appropriate item creation feat, the base spheres associated with the item, and a caster level with that sphere equal to or greater than the item’s CL. Charms, implements and magical arms and armor instead use the crafter’s MSB. Temporary increases to CL do not qualify, and item creation requires half the price in base materials. The crafter also requires a fairly comfortable, quiet place to work and a day’s work is classified as the standard 8 hours, which gets 1K gp worth of price done. At the very least, crafting must be done in 4-hour increments. Scrolls, potions, etc. only take 2 hours to make if their base price is below 250 gp. After the crafting period, an appropriate skill-check (usually Spellcraft) must be made to determine whether the item has been made correctly. Cooperative crafting is also noted.
The pdf then proceeds to present talent-based item crafting. Such items have a base cost determined by multiplying caster level times complexity times base cost. The complexity rating is determined by the number of benefits the item has, with range, unique changes, etc. accounted for. After this, we have a breakdown of the individual spheres, with blood and fallen fey included alongside the original sphere-array. Mixed and multiple effects, permanency and the like may also be found, and items that don’t need to be worn or held obviously are more expensive. The pdf then presents an array of new crafting feats for use with spheres of power, thankfully including a table that lists the approximation of the core crafting feats for a relatively painless implementation of other materials. Kudos: This does account for the peculiarities of automatic bonus progression, should you be using them in conjunction with implements. The presentation structure of e.g. charms and the like and general pricing make this section a surprisingly helpful and concise one. I know that I did not have to engage in page-flipping or the like, and the general baseline formulae struck me as sound, with bonus types and maximum bonuses noted properly. While I do not yet have the long-term experience of tinkering with these, a few cursory tests with the baselines provided made the system’s results come out within the parameters I consider to be desirable. The book also does cover a ton of special weapon, armor, etc. properties by bonuses and provides corresponding spheres.
The book also presents an assortment of new magic item special abilities that include making shields apply their bonus versus ranged touch attacks (at +1, a welcome boost for shields), and armor that, at +4, can maintain concentration for you or implements that help you aim your sphere effects. Implements capable of absorbing e.g. wands are interesting, though they should probably note what happens if the implement is destroyed while the wand’s absorbed – does it rematerialize, or is it gone for good? Weapons that may be attuned to those they damage, a siege weapon enhancement that makes them more potent versus rigging et al….some nice ones here.
The book presents an assortment of 7 new feats that allows for the application of armorist special abilities via arcane pool, divine bond, etc., better splash weaponry save DCs, adding casting ability modifier to the item save DC (thankfully locked behind 10th level), and limited wand recharging is also presented. As far as items are concerned, we get bracers and bucklers capable of holding wands and an assortment of cool poisons, including one item that comes with an alternate alchemist’s recipe. Ammunition to deliver vials and poisons and a selection of ritual books can also be found within.
From enchanted dancing scarves to acorns that generate the Nature sphere’s branch-pummeling, the pdf includes several specific items, including crystal grenades that encase the target in, bingo, crystal, and an elixir that allows for a VERY limited renewal of spell points. Thankfully, this one is subject to serious limitations. Elixirs for removing enchantments and oils to store sphere abilities are included. There are quite a few interesting shields and staves to be found, and from a herald’s blade to bonded notebooks, there are a ton of items in this book, which range from combat-centric to being focused on utility. Divine symbols (with a Skybourne focus) may also be found here. Really cool: There is, for example, a seal that grows in power with the TPA a character has with a given cult. This may be a small thing, but it’s something I’d like to see expanded further, considering how it makes organization membership more enticing and is a field that hasn’t really been covered. As a minor nitpick – this section misses a few italicizations.
If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know that I’ve always adored Purple Duck Games’ legendary items and similar takes on scaling magic items: This book also provides a couple of these, like the Nature sphere-associated Aegis of Sakura, made from greenwood leaf, the swordcane pistol horror’s ruin for the discerning, monster-hunting gentleman, or bandoliers of grenades or medic satchels for more militaristic characters. The latter is btw. great in that it gets rid of some of the detailed tracking required. Intelligent item powers are also noted, and the book closes strongly with 2 minor, and two major artifacts – the latter including a divine notebook for the powers of (flawed) creation and the blade Finis, which is basically the evil-destroying sudden-death godmode blade that can and will annihilate evil. Okay, it also burns through wielders fast, but hey, nobody’s perfect!
Adam Meyers, Andrew Stoeckle, Andrew J. Gibson, Derfael Oliveira, John Little and Johannes Luber have delivered a pretty impressive item book for the Spheres of Power-system. The crafting tools presented are solid, the items more often than not interesting, and the baselines provided most assuredly should make this worthwhile for anyone using the system. All in all, this is a well-wrought addition to the Spheres of Power framework, and as such, receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up.