Sign in to create or edit a product review.
Vs. Stranger Stuff Adventure: The Mad Gasser (VsM) PDFFat Goblin Games
Our Price: $1.00Add to Cart
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This adventure for Vs. Stranger Stuff Season 1 (fully compatible with season 2!) clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
I’ve been asked by one of my patreon supporters to move this up in my reviewing queue.
It should be noted that this adventure is also fully compatible with Vs. Ghosts.
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
Investigating her house will notice old boxes at the back of the house, marks in the garden, and really diligent PCs may remember something on the WWII-era Mad Gasser – though research at the library will be really helpful – and show that only families descendant from the original victims are hit by these visitations…and that the culprit was never found. Staking out the place will put the PCs in conflict with the Mad Gasser – who gets stats for both Vs. Stranger Stuff and Vs. Ghosts, being quite tough in both systems.
Here’s a big plus: The pdf does not prescribe a solution. Instead, from not explaining the phenomenon to government R&D, madmen, a cryptid, a nazi ghost – all possible. And better yet, the different solutions regarding the entity actually matter on a mechanical level, for both systems! Cool, btw.: The gasser cannot just paralyze everyone – this is no “save or suck”-style scenario.
Ben Dowell’s brief little yarn is a short encounter-series and a pretty basic investigation, elevated by the versatile villain and the variations provided here. It’s not a gamechanger, but it is a fun little module. 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 Everyman Minis-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!
On the introductory page, we have a list of racial traits for centaurs. To recap: +2 Strength and Wisdom, -2 Charisma; centaurs are Large monstrous humanoids, have a base speed of 40 ft., darkvision 60 ft., a +2 racial bonus to Survival checks, undersized weapons and proficiency with longbows and composite longbows, bolas and nets.
The pdf includes 4 alternate racial traits: The Survival bonus may be exchanged for a banded, zebra-like coat, which doubles penalties to Perception due to distance in checks where the centaur attempts to hide. Cool. The weapon familiarity may be traded in for Endurance or Fleet. Both the skill boost and the weapon proficiencies may be traded in for being a stargazer, touched by the heavens, which translates to a +2 racial bonus to Knowledge (geography), and if the centaur is an oracle with Heavens or Nature as a mystery, the class level is treated as +1 for the purpose of bonus spells and the use of revelations. Similarly, destined or starsouled sorcerers applies an analogue increase to bloodline powers.
The pdf includes a new cavalier archetype, the tauric knight, who replaces mount with the ability to one-hand lances of the size of the centaur, as well as inflicting double damage when charging with a lance. This counts as Mounted Combat for prerequisite purposes. Expert trainer is replaced with +1/2 class level as a bonus to Acrobatics made to jump, and you always have a running start. Solid engine tweak.
The pdf also sports 5 new feats: Drunken Confidence lets you consume alcohol as a standard action that doesn’t provoke AoOs, granting you a +2 morale bonus to Will saves vs. charm, compulsion, and fear effects, and +2 to the DC to demoralize you. The verbiage here is slightly rough, but fully functional. This boost lasts for 3 + Con mod minutes, and Con mod also serves as the cap how often you can use it sans drawbacks; after that, it’s Fort-saves that become higher, nauseating you on a failed save. This resets after 8 hours. Improved Shot On The Run requires BAB +9 as well as Nimble Moves, Dodge, Mobility, etc., and allows you to use Shot On The Run at BAB-5 and target two targets to attack, though these need to be different targets. The Greater Shot On The Run feat allows for a third attack, with the second at -5, the third at -10. Same restrictions as for the Improved feat apply.
Grappling Abduction requires Improved Unarmed Strike and Grapple as well as Mobility, and allows you to drag targets grappled along, managing the difficult rules language right. Trampling Trot nets you trample at unarmed strike +1.5 times Strength modifier. Furthermore, the Dc increases for overrun related feats. Neato.
The pdf concludes with 4 spells, all of which are variants of the same concept: quadrupedal transformation I-IV start at spell level 3, with the classes that gain it being alchemist, bloodrager, magus, sorc/wiz. This spell nets you the lower part of a quadrupedal animal or vermin, increasing size to Large, which higher level versions allowing for progressively better options regarding supplemental abilities like grab, pounce, swim speed, etc. and spell number III unlocking magical beasts. Minor nitpick: I’m pretty positive that the bloodrager has been left off the list for the quadrupedal transformation III spell, since all other spells list the class.
And since this is tradition for tauric reviews by now: No, this does not address the ladder-conundrum, though I didn’t expect it to and won’t penalize the pdf for that.
Matt Morris provides a solid array of centaur options, with the feats being the most compelling component. All in all, this is a solid offering, though one that is somewhat bereft of particularly amazing aspects. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This adventure for Vs. Stranger Stuff Season 1 (compatible with Season 2, just fyi) clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
I’ve been asked by one of my patreon supporters to move this up in my reviewing queue, so there we go!
It should be noted that this adventure is included in Vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns, which also provides rules and additional adventures. If you want to dip your toes into Coulrophobia, this pdf is the way to go; if you really want to embrace darkened clown-tales, get the big book – it has more stuff and revamped and refined layout etc.!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only GMs around? Great! So, fall is approaching and, in a time-honored tradition, older kids, bullies and pricks have decided that it’s fun to do the horror clown and frighten the young ones – so that’s the backdrop.
I really enjoyed this module by Ben Dowell – the randomization enhances the replay value significantly, and the adventure per se is fun, diverse and intriguing. 5 stars, with the caveat that I strongly encourage you to get the big “Vs. Stranger Stuff: Send in the Clowns”-book instead, as linked below on my homepage.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This supplement clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, so, after a brief piece of nice introductory flavor text, we begin this supplement with a background section that explains the advent of mechamagic in the world of Aden, and then move on to the sample environment, the Kixue Academy. Ina way, this supplement presents a ready to slot in locale for your (Thunderscape) game and does so in an interesting manner: We get a full-color map of the complex, which is keyed per se. Much to my joy, I noticed that the pdf also comes with a one-page version that labels the map with proper names instead of immersion-breaking numbers: You can hand out the map and have the players immediately know where scrapyard, eating area, amphitheater etc. are located – nice! This map does come with a grid as well as notes on scale. Kudos for that!
Now, the map represents a general mechamagic academy, and thus, the descriptions featured for the rooms also highlight this general notion. But what if you want details, if you want a sample academy? Well, you’re in luck, as each of the keyed locales features a section wherein the particular versions of the sample Kixue Academy are explained. In short: You’re covered whether you use this as a general sourcebook or as one for a simple drop in of the Academy. The respective rooms have no read-aloud text, but I do not consider that to be a detriment here. Beyond this nice glimpse into the workings of this place of learning, the supplement also features rules-relevant material:
There are two traits for adventurers associated with Kixue Academy, though it should be noted that one of them does not specify that it grants a trait bonus. Botha re obviously intended to be background traits, which can be gleaned from context. The pdf also features two item creation feats: Mystic Scribe lets you create multiple scrolls per day and reduces cost by 10%, but thankfully still has a daily cap based on GP-value. Mystic Scholar requires 5th level and the previous feat, and is VERY brutal and something usually more limited/harder to obtain – it lets you use your own stats to determine the spell effects of a spell cast from a scroll. This is extremely potent and not something I’d allow in my game.
The academy obviously caters to a couple of professions, and as such, we do get a sample statblock for low level mechamages, steamwrights and universalist wizards. Odd: The latter lacks sample spells, which limits immediate usefulness. The pdf also contains level 3 mechamage stats to represent average faculty members, but these also lack sample spells, once more requiring that you take care of one of the most grating aspects of spellcaster design, particularly at low levels where they’re prone to die fast. The supplement also features two named NPC statblocks: Baltus Aizen, the ferran sneak (raccoon) steamwright 7, who acts as the academy’s shop arden, and Dacius Quintus, the elven mechamage headmaster of Kixue academy, who does come with his rock golem companion fully statted. The statblock of Baltus is lacking the text for his attacks/damage, which is incorrectly noted in a bit of a mess in the equipment section, and it should also be noted that there are a couple of bolding glitches. Spells have also not been properly italicized.
Shawn Carman and Rob Drake provide a per se solid little supplement here – the academy’s map is a big plus, and the text covering both your needs for a specific and generic academy represents a big plus here. However, I couldn’t help but notice aforementioned glitches, which detract from what would otherwise be a nice supplement. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 3 stars.
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!
The introduction for the ydreft establishes something hardcore: Hailing from a small planet called Yggdroth, the ydreft have a highly collectivist society; their planet is studded with fungi, and those visiting should better beware, for a nasty fungus dubbed Xhalzykan, or “mind-slaver”, and a vast myriad or other lifeforms exist on the home-world of the only vaguely humanoid fungus-folk.
Ydreft begin their life as spores expelled from ydreft spires, growing slowly after being attached to a spawning surface, starting as white mold. Development into an adult ydreft is rapid and takes but a decade. They possess a total of six sturdy stalks, two of which are used analogue to hands, while the remaining four (the pdf erroneously states 6) act as options for terrestrial locomotion. These can be furred, frond-like or have the guise of feather-like extensions. After a century of life in this mobile form, ydreft go dormant and expand to incredible size, becoming completely sessile, ginormous spires that are nigh immortal…and so the cycle continues…though it should be noted that ydreft mystics have managed to communicate with these spires, adding a unique twist to the whole ancestor-worship/communion-angle.
The society of the fungus folk is collectivist and utilitarian, their spirituality centered on the strange spires, and as the race has no dominant death concept, is bereft of the classic influence of deities. While we do not have “As an ydreft you…/others think about you…”-sections, we do cover their take on adventuring, nomenclature, etc. The race gets its own proper subtype graft.
Racial stat-wise, ydreft get +2 Con and Int, -2 Dex, 4 Hit Points, are Medium and have a speed of 20 ft. Ydreft have a fly speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability, courtesy of hyphal wings. A nitpick: The racial feature should specify whether the fly speed is considered to be extraordinary or supernatural; I assume the former, but considering how strange they are, one could make a case for the latter as well. Being plant-like, ydreft count as both humanoids or plants, whichever is more detrimental, but they do get a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. mind-affecting effects, paralysis, poison, polymorph, sleep and stunning unless such an effect would also affect plants. Ydreft can root themselves as a swift action to root (or unroot) themselves; they can’t move when rooted, but get +2 to KAC versus bull rush and trip. The unique aspect here? The ydreft’s stalk-limbs may be rewoven! Ydreft have 2 “wings”, 2 “legs” and 2 “hands”, and they may reweave up to two limbs to serve a different purpose. This allows for the wielding of more items, increased speed or flight – and, obviously, taking limbs away will make them slower. An ydreft with only one leg-stalk, for example, has only a 10 foot base speed; an ydreft with no “legs” has but a 5 ft. speed.
The pdf contains two new feats: Enhanced wings upgrades fly speed to 50 ft. (good maneuverability) and takes the reweaving engine into account. Expanded Reweaving is AWESOME: You can grow climber limbs, fins and even natural weapons! Awesome! I love this race!
David N. Ross’ ydreft are frickin’ AWESOME. The fungus folk actually play differently and in an interesting manner; the reweaving engine allows for meaningful decisions AND drives home how odd these guys are. The flavor is great as well, and the expansion of the ydreft’s reweaving? Amazing. I should probably penalize these fellows for the fly speed snafu, but frankly, I don’t want to. This is the type of amazing racial design I wanted to see from SFRPG; this is not just another fungus-dude; these guys are unique and bring something fresh, creative, dare I say…ALIEN to the table! And that’s what SFRPG races, in the best of cases, should be capable of doing. Final verdict? 4.5 stars, rounded up, and this gets my seal of approval.
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 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After the by now expected introduction, alongside the access-granted contextualization of the nashi within the frame of the Xa-Osoro system,w e learn about this new race of raccoon folk. Never call them that to their face, though. If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, you’ll know that’s not a smart move. ;)
Anyways, nashi come in a wide variety of patterns, and hail from the home world of Terros, which is actually one star system away from Xa-Osoro; the race had been coexisting with humans, yroometji and kitsune and had already taken to the stars when they were “discovered” by the nagaji. Motivated by progress and technological advancement, nashi are progress-oriented to a fault, lacking on a cultural level the dissent and caution urged by conservatism, which has made some of their progress a circle and their politics…chaotic. 47 nashi governmental regimes have collapsed in a single century. Now this is next level volatility! Relations with other races and their take on adventuring is covered as well, though we do not get notes on “If you play a nashi…/other people think of you as..”
We do, however, get a proper subtype graft, which is a nice plus. Nashi are Small humanoids with +2 Int, 4 HP, a 30-ft. speed, low-light vision and Ingenuity as a 1st level bonus feat. Nashi choose two skills from a brief list, gaining a +2 racial bonus in the skills chosen, and their most unique feature would be the incredibly finetuned tactile precision of their hands, which acts as blindsense (touch) with a range equal to the nashi’s reach. Kudos: This tie between reach and blindsense may not be cheesed with weaponry, but natural increases to the reach could theoretically improve range. Kudos for covering all bases there.
The pdf also includes 4 racial feats: Expanded nashi skill nets you two more skills from aforementioned list and +2 in them. *snore*; more interesting would be (though it requires the previous feat), the follow-up, Versatile Nashi Skill…which isn’t really versatile. It just nets you the +2 racial bonus to all skills in the list; that’d be 9 total, mind you. So for 2 feats, we get a total of 7 +2 bonuses that will stack with pretty much everything…not bad, though you probably won’t want all of them. Personally, not the biggest fan. Enhanced Tactile Precision is more interesting in its idea – it nets you a +2 bonus on skill checks to e.g. identify creatures, magic items, tech, see through disguises etc., provided you can touch them. See, this is interesting, but honestly, here I’d think about increasing the bonus or providing an additional benefit – tactile contact can, after all, be risky. And finally, there would be the core racial feat, which may btw. be taken by all characters with Int 13+: Ingenuity. This lets you choose two skills from a list, and makes you count as always having the proper basic or tool kit. Additionally, circumstance bonuses in these skills are increased by +1, and custom rig is enhanced to apply to three skills, if present, though one of them must be Computers or Engineering.
I really like the concept of Alexander Augunas’ nashi – the base race is cool, and I really like the tactile angle. The feats, though, focus them towards the skill monkey angle, and I can’t help but think that the race could really use some more far-out tricks. The tactile angle lends itself perfectly to psychometry-like tricks, and similarly, expert jury-rigging would be another synergy I would have loved to see. So yeah, the race has a ton of untapped potential as written. While I wasn’t perfectly happy with the focus of the feats, I did enjoy the flavor and base race, and as such, I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This adventure clocks in at 28 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 advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As always: It should be noted that I am working for Legendary Games as developer; I have received this module and the request to review it prior to taking this position, and hereby vow I’ll rate it to the best of my abilities in a neutral manner.
This adventure can be used as a stand-alone adventure, or it can be used to complement the third part of the Reign of Winter AP, “Maiden, mother, Crone.” It is intended for 7th level characters, and begins in the small town of Dolanni, inhabited by the semi-nomadic Ovoskich tribe.
The village comes with proper settlement statblock, as well as an impressive full-color map of it and its surroundings. Even better, the pdf does come with a proper, player-friendly, key-less version. Kudos! The dungeon map btw. also comes with a player-friendly version – cartographer Marco Morte did a great job here as well. The pdf contains a magic item that is a special reed – when it’s consumed, the character gets to instantly reassign a language known. There is also a magic axe contained herein that may change its damage type for cold, and a new monster at CR 8 is also included inside.
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
The first component of the module is about deescalating the racial tensions – which, while optional and good in the long run, will pit the PCs against a hothead centaur hunter, potentially has the PCs partake in aforementioned reed, and face down the inevitable specter attack. The second part of the adventure has the PCs explore the tomb that the scout Alasha plundered by kinda-accident, facing the new monster, the hoofghast (basically an undead centaur that heals in cold temperatures and has a concentration/Int-based skill/ability-impeding aura) and also a dread frost wight cleric of Kostchtchie, which can provide hints/an optional tie-in with the big AP-module. Rewards for the winged horseshoes and rewards are appropriate.
Ron Lundeen’s “Horseshoe Calamity” can help provide a more organic introduction into the statues-dungeon of the AP, and it makes for a nice chance to roleplay. It is, in short, a nice sidetrek with excellent production values. While its brevity means that it’s not exactly the most complex of narratives, it doesn’t have to be. All in all, this is a nice little addition to the AP. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This base class clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The zephyrus base class has a full BAB, gets d10 HD, 4 + Int modifier skills per level, and sports good Fortitude and Reflex saves. The class gets proficiency with simple weapons as well as all polearms and spears and all armors and shields, excluding tower shields. Being clearly inspired by Final fantasy’s dragoons (if the cover artwork wasn’t ample clue), the class begins play with leaping charge, the option to use a full-round action to charge and inflict +1d8 damage with it, increasing said damage by a further +1d8 at every two levels. This is noted in the class table as well for your convenience. The zephyrus adds class level to Acrobatics and always counts as having a running jump. At 3rd level, when the zephyrus uses the charge action, he may move through the spaces of allies unimpeded; at 5th level, the class gets up to one 90 degree turn while charging; 9th level nets the ability to ignore difficult terrain while charging and 13th level unlocks the ability to charge through the zephyrus opponent’s spaces, though this does provoke AoOs. Starting at 17th level, the charges of the zephyrus no longer provoke AoOs form leaving the square the zephyrus charges from.
At 3rd level, the class reduces armor check penalty by 1 (minimum 0) and increases the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by the armor by 1, increasing this by a further 1 (properly worded!) for both every 4 levels thereafter. This culminates at 19th level, when the zephyrus reduces armor check penalty to 0, may always use full Dex-mod, and when in light armor or no armor, he gets improved evasion; in heavier armor “just” evasion. Potent, but at 19th level, justified.
Also at third level, we get leap attack, which is a standard action attack versus a foe threatened for +1d8 damage, which increases by a further +1d8 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This would be as well a place as any to note that this is once more noted in the table (nice) and that both bonus damage abilities come with precise verbiage regarding critical hit interaction. 4th level nets fast charge (+10 ft. speed when running or charging, +5 ft. for every 2 levels thereafter), again, noting the distance on the class table. Starting at 4th level, the class also progressively reduces falling damage incurred. The capstone is cool: When you hit with a leaping charge (that’s the first level charge attack), the foe gets a save (DC 10 +1/2 class level + Strength modifier) and take 20d8 bonus damage on a success (!!). What happens on a failure? Well, to nitpick – it’s not properly stated, but the flavor mentions dying, so yeah…not ideal, but it kinda works. Thankfully, the ability has a witch-caveat that prevents you hitting a target more than once per day with this brutal attack.
The class also sports customization options in the form of lancets. These are somewhat akin to bloodlines and orders in that they provide a set array of tricks that unlocks over the levels. 5 lancets are provided, and each comes with a basic ability: These include free bull rush, dirty trick or trip attempts at -2, +4 to atk instead of +2 when charging, instead gaining a bonus to damage (at a slightly increased AC penalty), swift action Acrobatics after a charge (cool!) or penalty-less leaping charges. Beyond these, the lancets also add ½ class level to skill checks. (Skills have not ben properly capitalized.) Beyond these, each lancet features four ability-progressions: 2nd level nets a bonus feat (not capitalized properly), and the second of these set feats is gained at 10th level. The other abilities are gained at 8th and 15th level. For 8th level abilities, we have e.g. better maneuvers for the maneuver-based lancet 8gets rid of the -2 penalty for the maneuver added to the leaping charge), while another provides a tightly codified cleave-like bonus attack at the cost of AC penalty; better Power Attack charging, taking 10 when using Acrobatics to move to a new position after a charge, getting a dodge bonus – these basically build on the respective lancet themes. Same goes for the 15th level abilities, making the lancets feel like distinct ability-progressions that make sense.
I’m horribly nostalgic for the old Final Fantasy titles; it’s one of the very few things that manages to tug at my heart’s strings. Heck, I grinded out all of FF V’s jobs, including the mimic. Thus, the zephyrus hits a kind of sweet spot for. The class is not exactly the pinnacle of excitement, and I probably wouldn’t want to play one for a prolonged amount of time, as it’s very much a charge-based class, though one lancet does allow you to be pretty decent at setting up flanks/skirmishing, so that’s a plus. Then again, this class does come as PWYW, and it imho is worth a donation – or, well if you want to make a dragoon NPC (curse the inevitable betrayal!), then this has you covered without requiring much work, so there’s that. Usually, this would be a 2.5 to 3 stars-type of class, but taking the PWYW-nature into account, I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. It’s worth taking a look to save time.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Occult Secrets mini-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, after a brief introduction, we begin with the invoker, who must choose a planar implement among the first level implements. The circles instead apply versus specific outsider races and non-alignment outsider subtypes. Okay. 8th level replaces outsider contact with a scaling planar binding for one additional mental focus when establishing circle, with another point as an optional expenditure available to add dimensional anchor. As noted, the planar binding and HD –cap improve at higher levels.
But wait…planar implements? Yep. These take the form of small metal discs with glyphs upon them, and they share the resonant power resonant planar affinity: For every two points of mental focus invested in the implement, the occultist gains +1 to penetrate the SR of creatures hailing from the associated plane, as well as +1 to attack and damage rolls against them. Additionally, the occultist gains a +1 insight bonus to Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Sense Motive, Perception and Knowledge checks. Cool: The bonus caps, with the cap scaling at higher levels. Additionally, all planar implements have the planar servitor base focus power. This lets you, as a standard action, expend 1 point of mental focus to summon monster, with the spell upgrading at higher level, but thankfully capping at one active servitor at a given time, avoiding slowing the game down. Mental focus may be expended to increase the duration of an active servitor, and creatures native to the plane (which is, all of them, as that is the base condition) get +2 natural armor and to saves. Both bonus types are properly codified. Nitpick here: Critters summoned thus: Can they act upon manifesting, or next round? This is something that usually is bypassed by the 1 round casting duration and needs to be clarified.
All implements gain alignment based focus powers – good aligned planes net flesh mend, evil ones necromantic servant, lawful planes purge corruption and chaotic planes side step focus. Neutral ones on the good-evil-axis net mind eye, and neutral ones on the law-chaos axis net future gaze. A total of 12 different planar implements are provided, all of them with spells noted and 3 focus powers. Abaddon nets shield other in conjunction with the servitor and lets you add an evil frost. The servitor gets death throes. Abyss provides spectral arms that can execute Intelligence-governed AoOs, staggering, mental-focus powered screeches or disguise self. Activation actions are not noted for the latter two, but being SUs, one could assume defaulting to standard actions – it’d be nice to have that spelled out, though. Planar implements aligned with the astral plane can add a psychic link to the servitor, poach/hide items in your own extradimensional space or track targets via astral residue. Elysium lets you temporarily turn into wind and lightning while charging, imbue weapons with special qualities or reroll dice modified by morale and luck bonuses. The implements associated with the ethereal plane lets you add ghost touch a weapon or armor as a swift action for one mental focus. Both property references are not italicized correctly. Mental focus powered Ectoplasmic Spell and shared see invisibility with servitor can be found. Cool: When you greater invisibility yourself, the servitor gains invisibility. This also modifies the servitor base power and allows for ethereal condition sharing.
The implements of heaven net you heavenly lanterns that can be discharged as short-range force rays, swift action protection from evil plus scent and sharing shield bonuses with nearby allies. Hell nets the option to enhance weapons with wounding, adding being treated as evil at 5th level (analogue to e.g. Abaddon’s frost). The second ability covers the same for flaming and being treated as lawful. The servitor may be enhanced with scaling atk and damage boosts. Limbo implements can cause random ability damage to creatures adjacent to servitors when they’re called. When the servitor power is used, you can make it also push away targets on a failed Fort-save…or pulled towards the creature. Nirvana’s abilities enhance servitor abilities to use aid another for you. For mental focus, the servitor gets Combat Reflexes and Bodyguard and emerging servitors can heal adjacent targets. Implements of the shadow plane let you use mental focus to add invisibility to yourself when casting darkness-themed spells, modify shadow weapons with a variety of effects or improve its effects.
Planar implements associated with true neutral purgatory nets you a mental focus powered touch attack with slow, suppress healing and sacred bonuses or negate enhancement, luck, morale and profane bonuses – interesting short-duration curse mechanics. Utopia, the lawful neutral plane nets the servitor access to your teamwork feats, Disruptive (and later Spellbreaker) or temporary hit points for both you and servitor. These planar implement powers turned out to be more differentiated than I expected, changing playstyles in a meaningful manner, and most of the time getting the complex rules-language required right. Kudos!
The second archetype would be the tattooed occultist, who gets a modified class skill list- Instead of physical implements, the tattooed occultist gains tattoos that obviously can’t be taken away – to make up for that, the archetype only gets one tattooed implement at first level. The archetype also gets Improved Unarmed Strike that behaves like a monk’s attacks, replacing the second implement as well as shift focus and outside contact. 2nd level replaces object reading with a combo of phrenology and read aura by studying a target’s body. They also get a scaling (half class level) to Craft (tattoo) and Heal and may use mental focus to enhance healing via medical care. This has mend flesh and purge corruption synergy. The archetype also has a replacement ability for implement mastery, granting DR 5/-. Interesting one, in that it represents a kind of yakuza-ish occultist. I like it.
The third archetype would be the totemist, who once more receives a modified class skill list and +1/2 class level to Knowledge and Survival checks to identify, track or learn about creatures, replacing magic items. The archetype need to choose one totem implement at first level, and at 5th level, aura sight is replaced with a universal creature detector based on detect undead, save for all creature type the totemist has a totem (implement) for. 8th level nets shapechange mastery, with the ability to use mental focus to enhance polymorph effects and higher levels allowing for the speeding up of casting such spells. This one also lets the occultist end spells quickly and replace outside contact. Warding circles are modified to interact with totems and binding circles similarly is modified.
Okay, you probably guessed it – this one also has a whole arsenal of special implements, the implement class of totem implements. The spells these grant may be exchanged for up to 2 druid spells when choosing them. This choice is permanent They also share a resonant power: Resonant favored enemy, which nets an insight bonus to Bluff, Knowledge, perception, Sense Motive and Survival, contingent on mental focus invested – once more, thankfully, with a proper, scaling cap. The totem implements are based on the standard creature types, but have individual base powers. Aberration, animal, dragon, fey, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, undead and vermin are covered, all with their individual spell lists, base powers and 3 focus powers each.
The aberration totem implement fortifies your mind versus attempts to read it, and also enhances your saves versus charm person. This lasts for an hour and can be activated as an immediate action. The focus powers include all-around vision, and long arm can be enhanced with mental focus to net you tentacles, and similarly, water breathing and echolocation are modified. Similarly, immediate action fear-suppression is neat. Animal, in contrast, nets speak with animals as well as melee enhancers via free grapples (and grab synergy), bull rush and overrun tricks or trips – basically the classic animal tricks. The dragon implement nets you a mental focus-based breath weapon that scales, and which, thanks to a cooldown, can’t be spammed. The 4 (deviation from the standard 3 to account for base energy types) implement powers allow for multiple breath modifications that enhance the breath weapons depending on base damage type chosen. The fey totem allows you to get low-light vision and scaling DR, and take fey aspects, which include Perform, Swim or Survival boosts that may be shared. The magical beast totem lets you boost physical skill checks and petrify targets – thankfully, a HD caveat and save prevent abuse there. Healing that can prevent death and protection versus evil (single and later, magic circle) may be found here.
The monstrous humanoid lets you gain gore or bite or claw or slam options (In contrast to most herein, these are not specified re natural attack type, requiring defaulting to primary); the focus powers can make claws carry a debuff, ignore difficult terrain when charging with gores or add poison to bites. Oozes net compression and corrosive touches, use mental focus to become sticky (enhancing maneuvers and CMD) or gain temporarily translucent flesh. Plants allow for communication with them, as well as better healing (and superb resiliency in sleep as well as temporary hit points while asleep) as well as several plant-based spell modifications. Undead implement nets negative energy affinity; adding death effects to the coup de grace performed and temporary hit points based on target HD, preventing cheesing. When reduced to 0 hp or below, you can manifest malignant, spectral force and a vampiric pinning ability that nets temporary hit points for pinned targets. Mental focus expenditure requirements prevent this from being cheesed. Finally, the vermin totem nets the ability to converse with vermin, commune with them, repel swarms and fortify yourself versus poisons, with higher levels improving this.
The pdf also includes 4 feats: Dual Enhancement lets base powers or focus powers that enhance weapons apply their benefits to two of them, but these only remain active when both are wielded. Echoes of Mending nets you temporary hit points when using flesh rot or flesh corruption. Echoes of Servitude requires a necromantic servant and upgrades the servitor. Mental Ki allows you to substitute mental focus for ki on a 2 to 1 basis. The pdf also has two spells: Empower implement (3rd level) grants temporary mental focus. Lock the flow can prevent the target from using mental focus or ki on a failed save, and lasts multiple rounds. The pdf concludes with Keron Tiel, a CR 5 elven tattooed occultist.
Wojciech Gruchała is a veteran, and this pdf shows – the expansion to the occultist allows for finer differentiation, and distinct, different playstyles depending on implement chosen. While not all implements are equally compelling or potent, this nonetheless represents a cool and worthwhile expansion for one of my favorite classes. While the lack of bookmarks is a bit sucky, the pdf is pretty inexpensive, which is why I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.
Journals of Dread Vol. II: Secrets of the Skeleton (PFRPG) PDFd20pfsrd.com Publishing
Our Price: $8.95Add to Cart
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Journals of Dread-series clocks in at 67 pages, 1page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 60 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!
All right, so the first thing you’ll notice, is that this book, more so many others I’ve reviewed, is one that is set apart by the layout. It is impossible to discuss this product without stating clearly how crucial the layout is to the whole experience: This pdf’s baseline is one of a monster hunter’s journal, a black book handed down through the hands of grizzled veterans of the fight against the dark, and I’ve never seen a book embrace this concept so thoroughly. While the 1-column standard for booklet size means, ultimately, that sometimes statblocks take up more than one page, I found myself not caring about this slight inconvenience. Why? Because this is a perfect example of why layout artists rank among the all-too-often unsung heroes of the RPG-industry. You see, the pseudo-grimoire style conceit of rummaging through an old tome is nothing new per se; neither would be the use of heavily modified public domain art in conjunction with original pieces to create a quasi realistic aesthetic conceit. What is special, though, is the sheer lengths that this pdf goes to: Of course, this grimoires features ink-splotches and blood-spatters on some pages, but instead of alternating between them and fixed patterns, the book instead opts for new patterns on each page, some of which adding and further emphasizing the artwork within. Beyond that, ink bottles, quills, bones and other tools of the adventuring trade serve as knick-knacks that provide further variation.
Strange, seemingly indecipherable glyph-letters are annotations, probably in blood. I have never seen a supplement that manages to evoke this concise sense of being a book you can find in the depths of a necromancer’s lair, hidden beneath the body of a fallen paladin. Want to know how deep this level of commitment runs? A close glance at the glyphs, some applied brainpower, and you’ll realize that these are actual words – not just doodles. The red-lettered block of foreboding symbols on the editorial page indeed constitutes a warning to only use the content of this book for good. This utterly blew my mind. What I’m trying to say is simple: Layout and artist David Clingerman went far above and beyond to make this book shine, and his work deserves universal accolades. This is the level of thought and commitment that should have gone into the Van Richten’s Guides of old. His aesthetic work also provides the baseline for why this book works. He is so good, he managed to make an artwork that I am pretty sure I was familiar with, of a skeleton reaching, one that I know I hated, work, courtesy of adjusting it and making it fit into the universal theme of the book.
You see, in a nutshell, this could be summarized as an ecology of the skeleton – after a handwritten introduction, we have explanations on their behavior patterns, ecological impact (or lack thereof) and motivations before beginning with collating and expanding the options and variations known. We begin with a handy HD by CR table and associated XP and the explanation of the metrics of the base skeleton as an acquired template, before moving on into the 11 different variants of skeletal creatures presented within. This section does contain a familiar skull – there would be the Dread skeleton (CR +1) included for completion’s sake. The classic skeleton champion as a straight upgrade template to be added on top a skeleton can also be found – for old-school gamers: This does not refer to the classic circlet-bound creature. Burning skeletons that explode upon death, those that incessantly cackle, generating a fear aura, and elemental skeletons that can 1/day blast forth an elemental whip, can be found. The latter one has a verbiage that, while it deviates slightly from how energy affinity is usually worded, still remains unambiguous and fully functional, so not complaints on that front. The nigh-unstoppable and constantly reviving bloody skeleton is another classic that is discussed and reproduced within, and blood-draining, vampiric skeletons may similarly be found. Crystalline skeletons can be dangerous to strike and burst in shrapnel upon being destroyed, while mechanical skeletons have been enhanced with steel – a minor complaint here would be that this obviously, at one point, was a more complex offering, as the template refers to winged skeletons at one point, something not supported by the rest of the pdf. I personally enjoyed the inclusion of exoskeletons, basically undead vermin that contain a staggering (quite literally) amount of dust inside. Twice-transcended skeletons become more powerful: After having been vanquished as a skeleton, they return with an aura of unearthly whispers, with a nasty touch that gets its complex damage components right: It opens wounds, but does so NOT via negative energy.
The variant skeletal monsters section also includes an old acquaintance with the CR 5 black skeleton, superior two-weapon fighters that cause Strength damage with their attacks. At one CR higher, we have skeletal drakes that can breathe bone-shard cones that can potentially leave bleeding wounds. At CR 5, skeletal masters have a sickening touch and the ability to cast spells they know with spontaneously-applied metamagic feats known – which would be more impressive if the critter actually had metamagic feats. It does not. I am pretty sure, that it should have some kind of wildcard ability that allows for temporary metamagic feat gains. The CR 3 skeletal tutor has na aura that makes mindless undead self-aware and nets a bonus to undead nearby – minor complaint: There is no unholy bonus tin PFRPG. That’s supposed to be profane. Skeletal nobles clock in at CR 10 and represent a hideous amalgamation of knight and mount, with lead blades as a SP, deadly lance attacks – and yep, being somewhat centauric, it gets undersized weapons right.
The pdf also includes two mundane items – the bonecrusher hammer, a two-handed exotic hammer made to crush skeletons, and ribcage breastplates – both are properly codified and come with visual representations. Two magic items are included: Fanged skulls are helmets that net a bleed-inducing bite attack (size taken into account!) and 1/day vampiric touch (not italicized properly) on a target that’s bleeding. Graveyard dust can be used to bolster undead, granting them a bonus to atk and hit points per HD (should be temporary). Both items come with nice read-aloud text describing them. The pdf closes with the reinforce bone spell, available for sorc/wiz at spell level 3 - it’s a DR-granting buff that is more efficient for already mostly skeletal critters.
Kim Frandsen’s book of skeletal undead should, for all intents of purposes, not excite me as much as it does. Don’t get me wrong – the writing is good, and having all these skeletons in a book? Nice! Similarly, I think that the fact that this is so consistent in its aesthetics makes the book a valid handout (provided you don’t mind players having stats) is a pretty big plus. The main draw, though, is the sheer level of immersion that this ecology manages with its details, with the clear and obvious passion that went into this. I really love this, and the only reason this misses my seal would be the minor complaints regarding rules-relevant components. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.
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 pdf with an introductory page that contextualizes the material within the narrative frame of the Xa-Osoro system before diving into the nit and grit of the material, which, this time around, would be the stalwart defender archetype.
The first ability, defender’s objective, may be chosen at 2nd, 4th or 6th level, and once you do, you may gain stalwart powers at the next interval – in the instance of taking it at 6th level, you gain stalwart powers at 9th level as a choice. But what does this base ability do? Choose one character, object or location as a standard action, establishing it as the objective. Whenever you’re within 30 ft. of the objective and fight defensively or total defense, you may choose to accept a penalty to your movement to increase the AC bonuses granted by +1 or +2, respectively. This does not stack with similar abilities. When resting to regain Stamina, you may refresh this ability and further guidelines and restrictions are codified with pinpoint precision.
As hinted at, stalwart powers may be chosen after the objective, and 12th as well as 18th level also allow them to be taken as alternate class features. As soon as 4th level, you can choose a bonus feat from a list or an envoy improvisation, though the latter is limited in selection and tied to proximity to the objective. Halting strike is an upgrade for Stand Still and allows for really good hits to also inflict damage. Immovable enhances your Acrobatics to prevent being moved; unshakeable similarly fortifies you versus demoralize and feint attempts, while shrug off the pain nets you either DR or energy resistance (you have to chosoe the type). At 9th level, rapid defense is unlocked as an option, which allows you to use Resolve to establish a new objective sans requiring rest. It should be noted that this is still a standard action, as per the base ability. The implementation of a fortification ability similar to force field armor groups, with percentile chances to make critical hits regular ones, is impressive as well.
The pdf includes 3 feats: Brace Yourself lets you use total defense as a reaction, but staggers you until the end of your next turn. To use it again, you have to spend 1 Resolve while resting, and it has an anti-abuse caveat. Final Stand lets you, when reduced to 0 HP and less than ¼ Resolve, expend all Resolve for a final stand lasting 2 + Will save bonus rounds. You heal 1 Hit Point and regain level times Resolve spent Stamina; you also get +1 to all d20 checks and rolls and undead immunities, but may not use patience or concentration requiring checks. At the end of the stand, all stamina is lost and you die. EPIC. Stalwart Bodyguard enhances Bodguard and makes the bonus last until the start of the next turn.
Alexander Augunas delivers. I usually hate the implementation of the tank concept in d20-based games, particularly because they are boring to play and the stalwart defender in particular has a history of being lame. Much to my pleasant surprise, the author has actually managed to make this one thoroughly cool. We have agenda, meaningful choice, various choices and potent benefits that serve to make the stalwart defender herein more than any iteration of the concept has managed to be before: Something I’d genuinely like to play, something I will use in my builds. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval, easily the best of Alexander Augunas’ treatments of legacy concepts so far.
Galaxy Pirates - Enlightenment Gear Book One: Armor and Weapons PDFEvil Robot Games
Our Price: $1.99Add to Cart
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This supplement comes with two 12-page pdfs. In these, we have 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC. In the PF-version, we have two pages of SRD, in the SF-version, just one, though that version does have half a blank page in the end. We thus clock in at 8 pages of content for PFRPG, 8.5 for SFRPG, so let’s take a look!
Both versions assume credits, unsurprisingly for a scifi supplement – but prices etc. have been adjusted individually. We begin both versions with a collection of 8 different types of armor/space suits.
In the pathfinder iteration, the table lists separate bonuses for non-proficiency with the armors, and one of the suits actually integrates into a flight suit, while another basically represents a massive powered armor-like piece that feels akin to the relatively obscure Gallowglass’ ultra-heavy armor from 3.X days of yore, with a weight of no less than 400 lbs. and a massive -7 armor (in PF) check penalty. Some of these suits have integrated life-support canisters and note as such, while the latter ultra-heavy armor notes that it has thrusters that allow for reliable short-distance (30 ft.) jumps, which succeed automatically. In SF, that is instead a 30 ft. flight speed – I assume, a supernatural one for functionality in vacuum, though the pdf does not explicitly state this.
A complaint that can be fielded against the Pathfinder version, but not against the Starfinder equivalent, would be that the table does not differentiate between armor class – light, medium and heavy. Indeed, the Starfinder table, to me, seems to be more refined, clearly categorizing aforementioned ultra-heavy Katar armors as powered armors, skin suits as light, etc. Appropriate item levels have been included for your convenience in the SF iteration. The pricing here has been carefully deliberated upon – jump suit + helmet represents, for example a cross between stationwear and estex suit, without the latter’s beneficial additional tricks. Still, it fills a nice niche in the lowest price-segment. On the less fortunate side of things, while the heavier Katar armors have been properly codified as powered armor, they do lack the appropriate capacity and usage values for their item class, and they also, alas, lack the damage value for attacks executed with them, making them, as presented, alas, not 100% functional.
The eldred skin suit variant is arguably close to the default skin suit by necessity and design space available, but here would be a good place to note a peculiarity of this supplement that is very much worth mentioning: Instead of just handing you a brief throwaway description, the respective item-classes do get a pretty detailed description in how they interact, can be upgraded, or pertaining their peculiarities. Eldred skin suits not specifically fitted for the respective person, for example, impose a nasty additional armor check penalty on the wearer. In these descriptions, though, something that works fine in the Pathfinder iteration…doesn’t work in SF. You see, human armor’s forte, if you will, is that the cushioning blue goo makes repair much easier – in Pathfinder, this is correctly codified with an equipment bonus and rules for easier use of Craft in conjunction with repairing these suits. In Starfinder, this section has, alas, unfortunately been retained, and as we all know, there is no Craft skill in Starfinder, nor are there equipment bonuses – in this case, that should probably be enhancement bonuses and a reference to Engineering’s capability of repairing tech items. This issue, alas, also extends to the human-manufactured Eldred Ferox guns later in the pdf, and in the Pathfinder-version, the bonus here is not properly codified. Ironically, the lack of mentioning a skill and bonus type means that in this instance, the Starfinder version is actually better.
The pdf also contains 7 analog guns spanning, in SF, item levels 1 – 15. Unpleasant oversight in the Starfinder-version: The table, alas, does not classify the weapons by type. The katar gyrojet rifle, for example, is most assuredly a heavy weapon, and one can assume pistols to be small arms, rifles to be longarms. This is particularly odd, since the descriptive text does note proper weapon categories – so yeah, it’s more of a cosmetic issue than anything else, but it is still a somewhat jarring one. All of them seem to be projectile weapons, so no complaints in that regard. As for the Pathfinder iteration, the weapons table properly codifies them with automatic/semi-automatic properties, and now also features them noting when they’re light, 2-handed, etc. As a minor complaint, the table does have a footnote to explain semi-automatic and automatic fire, which, while appreciated, does not encapsulate the entirety of the respective firing effects. A sidebar that provides the entirety of the rules, which btw. are fashioned after the Technology Guide, would have been appropriate here to avoid confusion.
Another thing bears mentioning, one aspect that may irk those among you who are keen on proper formatting conventions: In both versions, the names of mundane armors have been italicized and are capitalized in the flavor text. While this makes them easily discernible in the text-flow, it does contradict formatting conventions for both systems. On the plus-side, the descriptive text does an excellent job in properly describing how these items actually work – it may be a small thing for some, but personally, I really enjoyed how this made them come alive for me.
The second half of the pdf is devoted to enhancements – basically special weapon or armor properties (in PF) or weapon fusions/armor upgrades in SFRPG. However, in contrast to most supplements that present the like, we have a distinct table here that deviates from what you’d expect to find. Galaxy Pirates assumes that these enhancements actually are often mutually exclusive, which presents an interesting angle. Sure, you can get that sniping enhancement, but if you do, you won’t have active camouflage. This is a really interesting balancing tool, but it also limits the direct usability of these, at least until a big Galaxy Pirates item book has hit sites. Why? Because neither Pathfinder nor Starfinder supplements from other publishers do note such incompatibilities, which can make interaction somewhat challenging on the GM. Some guidelines for determining incompatibilities would vastly enhance the usefulness of this section.
Another aspect that is not entirely necessary for either system would be the battery/power cell rules presented, as they note explicitly two charge arrays (20 and 40), when e.g. Starfinder knows batteries with more charges. More severely, the pdf classifies two types of fusion, namely visual and energy fusions, which, while an apt differentiation, also notes that energy enhancements draw a total of 20 uses from a battery before depleting it – it is clear that this does not mean that one use costs 20 charges, but considering how batteries can have more than 20 charges, it’s still a direct contradiction to the main system rules AND the pdf’s internal text. Usage is RAW supposed to be part of the write-ups of the respective fusions, but the majority of them do not feature any notes, even when shields make it clear that there probably should be some sort of note there. Considering how thus the base engine leaves me with quite a few questions for these, I have a hard time judging them for their viability in Starfinder, which is a pity, as I per se enjoyed that, to name a few, the elemental resistance-themed armor upgrades actually differ from one another and don’t simply copy one another. Similarly, the writing for the respective fusions and upgrades is actually pretty consistent as a whole, and e.g. thankfully refrains from including crit-fishing options. On the downside, we do have references to obsolete bonus types (which also are formatted wrong – bonuses are not capitalized). A big plus: The latest iteration of this pdf got rid of a nasty keen-stacking bug, though the 2000 credit price is still pretty low. Nonetheless: Kudos for fixing this one!
While in Starfinder, the issues here present from obvious conversion hiccups, in pathfinder, they hail from assuming a set of setting realities that the reader is only partially privy to – in either iteration, the book could use a bit of further refinement, and I’m optimistic it’ll get that, as Evil Robot Games has been really good regarding the care and updating of their products.
The more I read of the Galaxy Pirates setting, the more intrigued I am – the attention to detail and emphasis on immersion enhancing strategies is something right up my alley, and indeed, it can be found here as well. Paul Fields and Jim Milligan tackle several complex concepts in this supplement, and I was surprised to note how the descriptions enabled me to picture the respective items and how they actually work. I hope this tendency will continue. That being said, this is also one of the earliest Galaxy Pirates supplements, and it shows. The rules, alas, contain an array of small issues in the details that accumulate over the course of this supplement. Much to my chagrin, quite a few of these do impede the direct functionality of the content within – and this, in different ways, holds true for the respective versions for both systems. While there have been improvements made, the pdfs still remain rather rough around the edges. As such, my final verdict cannot exceed 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This supplement for SFRPG 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 Eldred Heavy Cruiser is a tier 10 ship with a total of 268 BP; as a Huge cruiser, it has a speed 0f 6 with average maneuverability, powered by a Nova Ultra core and studded with a signal basic drift engine, this cruiser also sports mk 4 armor and defenses as well as a mk 3 mono computer. With medium shields (200, equally distributed), this fellow has quite an arsenal: Mass driver and heavy torpedo launcher in the front, heavy laser cannons at port and starboard, as well as heavy plasma torpedo launcher turrets. As far as expansion bays are concerned, we have cargo and shuttle bays, a medical bay and 2 escape pods. Crew modifiers (suitable for tier) are provided. The pdf also provides a list of Computers check DCs that compartmentalizes the information the PCs can glean. Nitpick: It’s Computers, not Computer. The heavy cruiser also provides notes on how this ship came to be.
See that kickass cover? The cover is provided as a full, logo-less one-page version that makes for a great hand-out, and the pdf contains a full page of paper-mini-style versions that sport this fantastic artwork. Additionally, the beautiful and efficient statblock for the ships of this series comes fully filled out – print it, hand it to players, done. Really cool! Even cooler: We do get an absolutely gorgeous full-color map of the ship – numbers designate the amount of beds that can be found per quarter, and the detailed and gorgeous maps (with very light grid) means you can switch pretty seamlessly between Starship and regular combat. The map is damn awesome. The only thing I’d have loved to see is some notes on internal lore/descriptions, but one can’t have everything, I guess.
Paul Fields and Jim Milligan deliver a great job here, and artists Nicole Cardiff and Keith Curtis definitely deserve a shout-out here as well. The cruiser is a beautiful ship, and the map is damn awesome. If you’re like me and want transparency between starship and individual combat, and particularly if you’re as good at making maps as I am (read: not good at all), then this is a definite boon, a sight for sore eyes. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.
An Endzeitgeist.com articleEndzeitgeist —
This massive compilation and expansion of AAW Games‘ beloved Mini-Dungeon-series clocks in at 294 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial,2 pages of ToC, 4 pages of KS-backer thanks, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a mighty 281 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Full Disclaimer: I have, over the years, reviewed 81 of the mini-dungeons contained within this book prior to their respective revisions herein. I have also contributed two mini-dungeons to this book. As such, this differs from my usual review-style in that, being a contributing author, I will refrain from providing a final verdict and instead will endeavor to provide an unbiased view of this book. That being said, bit was requested that I take a look at this book by one of my patreon supporters, and I gladly obliged.
Now, first things first: Beyond the phenomenal, new artwork, the reader familiar with the series will note a steep increase in quality regarding the maps. Don’t get me wrong, the regular mini-dungeon series, for the most part, had rather impressive cartography. However, there were also quite a few instances early in the series (and later on), where it was obvious that funds were tight for a bit, sporting a more barebones presentation. Those are GONE, replaced with absolutely gorgeous, revised and improved iterations that sport small details like statues, blood-spatters, glyphs, etc. Right off the bat, this represents one of the aesthetic improvements of the book and should be commended – the new maps are simply better in every way –just look at, for example, Stephen Yeardley’s “There are more Things in the Planes and the Earth” – the new map is stunning and conveys its own atmosphere. Additionally, the book now sports a rather significant selection of fantastic, cover level of quality artwork; while some pieces have been taken from the original mini-dungeons (those that were really amazing in the first place), the book now sports more, and often significantly more expansive, artworks. So, this massive book is, at least aesthetically, not just a compilation.
But what about immediate usefulness at the table? See, this is where this book knocks the whole series so far out of the water. First of all, the layout makes using the book easier. On the left-hand side of a two-page spread, you’ll have the map and, on the top left corner, the suggested number of PCs for the adventure. On the top of the right hand side, you’ll have a similar little bubble, noting the suggested PC levels, which renders flipping through the book to find a proper mini-dungeon pretty simple. Furthermore, the book employs color in a smart manner: We follow the colors of the rainbow, differentiating between levels. Low-level modules of up to level 5 are red, level 5+ becomes orange, level 8+ yellow…you get the idea. Mini-Dungeons available for all levels instead get a full rainbow of colors, setting them apart and generating a holistic form of visual identity. – your consciousness may not have picked that up, but your subconscious did. This color-coding also stretches to the bolded components, which is a nice touch.
Another improvement that was rather welcome, would pertain to previously-released content. Where many a publisher would have just taken the text and parsed it into the new book, the AAW Games crew obviously did another editing pass – from goofy glitches in the previous releases like “Feischkammer” (which was missing an “l” in its name to make it the intended “Fleischkammer” – which translates to “flesh-chamber in German; “Feischkammer” was not a proper word…) to rules-relevant hiccups, the book has cleaned up the previous content. Where previously, for example, we had an erroneous reference to divine damage, the book now properly references the radiant damage type. While the vast majority of these have been caught, e.g. “Sepulcher of the Witching Sage” still has a reference to negative energy damage, when that should be necrotic damage. The mummy lord’s abbreviated statblock should refer to channel divinity, not channel negative energy…but that’s me nitpicking.
Some problematic DCs have been adjusted, and I also noticed some erroneous saves in the originals have been taken care of – only one of these remain, in “Doubt Not That Stars are Fire.” Considering how huge this book is, that is one impressive feat indeed.
Among the illustrious cadre of guest authors to supplement AAW Games’ already insanely talented core-cadre, we have a great selection of industry veterans that present new material. If you, for example, like your Derro, you may enjoy Ben McFarland’s take on the insane dwarves attempting to summon their fungal god; alternatively, one of the modules I made casts them in the role of insane toll-collectors on an aquatic trade-route in the underworld, complete with cave-fisher like force-strands to lift vessels past sandbanks…if you pay up and their insanity happens to allow you to pass, that is…
Want a fire-themed adventure that doesn’t suck or bog down your campaign? Tim Hitchcock has you covered. None other than legend Lou Agresta offers a neat trip to a mad druid’s lair, Rone Barton invites you to his “Sanctuary of the Slaughtered”, while Michael Allen (who penned a ton of modules that made my Top Ten!) pits the PCs versus mighty vampire masters. Did I mention Stormbunny Studios’ Jay Sonia providing a trip to a necromancer, who is experimenting with tiefling hearts? There also would be an exploration of a living dungeon penned by Brian Suskind…and if you’re like me, you may have encountered this one before: Your PCs have that level where a stronghold would make sense, and that module you just ran intended one as a reward…however. I, at least, suck at drawing maps. And I dislike handing my PCs something for free. Well, none other than Richard Develyn, legendary author of 4 Dollar Dungeons (He made several 1st level slots on my Top Ten!), has you covered: There is a module that is all about claiming your lavishly-mapped castle, requiring that your PCs WORK for the boons they receive.
But perhaps that’s too old-school-y for you? Well, Justin Andrew Mason, who not only contributed a bunch of the adventures herein, but who also handled graphic design of the book, has something special for you: The Flight of the Gryphonwind, a fully depicted and mapped airship, with crew an all, which may well provide a means to set your PCs apart from the get-go, which could be anything from a campaign-seed to a weird interlude of fantastic proportions! It’s also one of the few double-sized mini-dungeons herein – while the vast majority of them cover the usual two pages, this one is 4 pages long, and better off for it. Have I mentioned that it’s designated for any level, suitable for low or high level characters or anything in between, depending on the needs of your campaign? Yeah, that is pretty interesting.
It should also be noted that, while there are plenty of traditional mini-dungeons herein, we also have basically a couple of free-form adventure-sketches with a more cinematic feel – like high-level PCs foiling the plans of none other than Hastur! (If you need a follow up for Dark naga’s Haunting of Hastur-series, this should be noted!) And yes, after counting down in super-lethal (and actually funny, in a macabre way) challenges, this one has the PCs duke it out with the Great Old One. Yeah, Stephen Yeardley knocked the ball out of the park with this one! Speaking of whom – a couple of the mini-dungeons herein that he penned*CAN* be linked to generate brief mini-series, should you be inclined to do so, though such sequences are not required to employ any of the modules herein.
It should also be noted that there are mini-dungeons for different skill sets. I noted free-form adventure sketches, and e.g. a region where vampires rule and vampire hunters may cause more collateral damage than their undead adversaries would be one that needs fleshing out, but which is also hilarious in the vampire hunter’s over-the-top-plan. If you require something to play as you go, I’d very much suggest e.g. Liz Courts’s “Clockwork Vault of Caina”, as this one not only sports interesting ability modifications for the main antagonists, it also comes with read-aloud text. Rachel Ventura’s offerings also tend to offer this help for the GM. Speaking of clockworks – Dan Dillon can do PFRPG just as well as 5e, and his “lair of the clockwork mage” basically begs to be inserted into Kobold Press’ Midgard setting. I probably don’t have to explain that a Nicholas Logue mini-dungeon is awesome news, right? Want something a bit weird? What about something I penned, a mini-dungeon that can has you temporarily becoming undead, where gravity may be tilted by 90° by uttering the wrong word at the table? Did I mention the spatial anomaly that can be carried around? Did I mention Colin Stricklin’s trip into a gigantic behemoth, which looms in a harbor? Yeah, if you needed a nice way to get your PCs an inconvenient mech, this’ll do!
Notice something? All of the modules I briefly mentioned in but a sentence are NEW. Indeed, I have not covered all of them at this point – not even close. That being said, there is another aspect of this book that I feel obliged to comment on, one of the most important components of this book, at least for me. Yes, each of the mini-dungeons is properly hyperlinked. No Surprise there. However, the hyperlinks don’t point towards an SRD, but rather to the MASSIVE Creature/hazard/etc.-appendix. This beast is a thing of beauty as far as I’m concerned, and eliminates the one crucial weakness that the single mini-dungeons, as a system-immanent issue of their kind, had. You see, we get stats. Hard stats.
If you’re like me and prefer to impose a ban on the use of devices at the table for the sake of immersion, then this is a godsend. Ditto if you’re a bit of a grognard and don’t like players distracted by their phones/tablets. It’s really cool, convenient and a true joy to witness. But wait. 5e-stats can be rather long, so why is this book not a bulky 500+ page monstrosity? See, here things become rather interesting. We get shorthand stats. They are condensed and provide what you need; they manage to do this by virtue of employing a system of sensible short-hand glyphs as a visual element, which might take a second to get used to, but oh boy does it beat looking up stuff on the internet! This makes the book a truly holistic experience, one that does not need an external element to properly use. It, in short, cuts down your preparation time. While at a con, for example, you can just whip out the book and play. Now yes, you still need to be able to read statblocks and know the basics, obviously, but still – this is genius and a huge improvement over the individual installments; one that exponentially increases the immediate usefulness. Much like Raging Swan Press’ by now legendary compilation of Dungeon and Wilderness Dressing, this makes the book vastly more useful.
Now, I have already talked, in detail, about how much the formal qualities, from the aesthetic to the editing/formatting have improved; I have touched upon plenty of the ideas realized in this collection. There is one more thing to note, and that is to give the authors their due. The following folks created this tome: Louis Agresta, Michael Allen, Rone Barton, Liz Courts, Richard Develyn, Dan Dillon, Jonathan Ely, Thilo Graf, Tim Hitchcock, Michael Holland, Nicolas Logue, Justin Andrew Mason, Michael McCarthy, Ben McFarland, Brian Wïborg Mønster, Will Myers, Jonathan G. Nelson, Stefanos Patelis, Michael Smith, Jaye Sonia, Colin Stricklin, Brian Suskind, Rory Toma, Rachel Ventura, Stephen Yeardley.
If you’re a bit familiar with good 3pp-authors, you’ll recognize them. So yeah, this book has a lot of flavor and panache. It also is probably the most useful adventure and set-piece anthology I know of. You see, with so many high-quality, fully mapped modules, it should come as no surprise that you’ll find something for every taste, from the horrific to the fairy tale-esque, from the gritty to high-fantasy. Furthermore, the mini-dungeons know their place – they are not here to intrude upon your campaign; they do not require much fidgeting to introduce for the most part (exceptions to the rule exist, but these set-piece wilderness-regions are isolated and easily slotted into the world…); the modules herein are there to provide transitions, to provide a shaking up of your adventure-design aesthetics. There are adventures herein that focus on hack and slash, sure…but there also are some that may be resolved sans killing anything! The diversity of authors and different narrative voices enrich the overall experience, ranging from narrative focus to the intensely technical and clever use of creatures and terrain.
In short, even if I did not contribute my own paltry two MDs, I’d consider this to be very much worth owning, and I consider myself humbled to be featured among the prestigious cadre of authors. The improvements made to the formula of the series are significant, and from the fantastic to the weird, the mini-dungeons within are not content with just being there and delivering functionality. They do that, but many of them also have the creative spark that we expect to see from good one-page-dungeons and similar offerings, making this one of the most useful books of adventures to own. In spite of the limitations of the mini-dungeon formula, this offers plenty of modules that actually manage to be inspiring.
*ähem* I’m sorry. I try, particularly when I’ve contributed to a book, to remain more down to earth, more matter-of-factly, but frankly, I was and still am very much excited about this tome, and reading it makes it tough to remain in review-bot mode.
What immediately brought me out of this jubilant mode? The realization that this has an errata! Gasp! I have a policy of NOT including errata in my reviews, as I usually reward books to be properly updated. Here’s the thing: This is NOT an errata in the traditional sense, in spite of the name. The errata does not contain fixed glitches or the like, and instead features a couple of full-blown 5e-statblocks collected for your edification….including a collection of diverse full-color artworks. Similarly, hazards like paralytic fleas and the like are provided here. While this bonus file (think of it more as of a web-enhancement rather than an errata) is neat, it does have a couple formatting snafus – but for better or worse, I won’t take it into account for this discussion. Still – most folks will consider this to be a nice bonus.
What to think of this? Well, this gets a nomination as a Top Ten candidate of 2018. The book is simply too useful, too vast, too beautiful, to not acknowledge what this represents. The maps alone make this worth having, even if you have the previously-released MDs. Heck, the care that went into streamlining the previously-released ones, as well as the further polish for the maps makes this a godsend for folks like yours truly that suck at maps. Considering how much content can be found within, it’s super impressive to see how few minor hiccups I could find.
So yeah, this is a super-useful book that manages to transcend the limitations of the series; it is no mere compilation, but a celebration and evolution of the series. It is a book that can enrich any GM’s arsenal. Highly recommended!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After the by now traditional contextualization of the material within in the Xa-Osoro system, we are introduced to the rendition of the horizon walker classic, for SFRPG, which comes in this iteration as an archetype. The archetype grants the favored horizons ability at 2nd level, which ties into the favored biome ranger methodology from the Starfarer’s Companion. It should be noted that this ability is NOT reprinted herein, which means you NEED to have the Starfarer’s Companion.
Indeed, the archetype is tied pretty strongly to the ranger class from that book, and rangers may take the biome mastery ranger methodology 4 levels earlier and don’t take the indicated -4 penalty to class level for prerequisite purposes.
At 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 18th level, the aforementioned class feature allows you to gain the favored biome ranger methodology or biome mastery ability as though granted by the archetype, though you still have to meet prerequisites, if any.
Biome mastery, as noted, is learned at 4th level and whenever a replacement class feature is gained, with save DCs, if any, equal to 10 + ½ class level + key ability score modifier. At 4th level,a atotal of 10 such biome masteries are available, and they include gaining a supernatural fly speedequal to land speed, with the option of improving maneuverability or speed of a pre-existing fly speed. Much to my chagrin, the ability does not note the maneuverability of the base fly speed granted by this mastery. Aquatic biome offers for a swim speed and longer holding your breath, with similar speed improvement caveats. Desert biome mastery fortifies you versus temperatures and exhausting/fatiguing effects. Forest mastery lets you slip, Stealth and Acrobatics through undergrowth and helps your KAC versus grapple in these places. Hills and mountains acclimate you to high altitudes and net you climb speed; marsh helps navigate bogs and swamps, even the really nasty ones, and yields a bonus to disease and poison. There also would be masteries for subterranean and urban environments, and yes, even vacuum. All of these build mechanically on the respective favored terrain ranger methodology to take them, as they often apply the bonus bestowed by that ability to other values. Biome training is an exception here, allowing allies to temporarily benefit from biome ranger methodologies as long as they remain close.
At 8th level, biome jaunt is added to the list of masteries that may be chosen – it’s basically a Resolve-powered dimension door in the biome. At 14th level, an additional two masteries are provided, with one being a straight upgrade of aforementioned jaunt that allows you to bring allies along. Reactive biome jaunt is different. While in the favored terrain and when targeted by a spell or attack, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as an immediate action…wait. Wut? There are no immediate actions in SFRPG. Oh, and the ability is based on competing Reflex saves to see if you short-range teleport out of the way. So…yeah. Not a fan.
The pdf also contains two new ranger methodologies, both of which are unlocked at 8th level for the taking – Biome Combatant lets you apply studied target to all creatures native in a whole biome instead, rather than specific targets. This is a bit weird, since studied target lasts until the target is dead, you study a new target, etc., which basically takes away the move action required in combat to study as well. Not a fan. Biome Mastery allows a ranger to get one of the aforementioned horizon walker biome masteries, but at -4 class level…unless, as noted before, the ranger also is a horizon walker.
I am not a big fan of Alexander Augunas’ horizon walker, to say the least. I am not overtly fond of the base concept in the first place. From the design perspective, I enjoyed the general structuring of the biome mastery angle, but the masteries themselves oscillate somewhat in their potency. I like the idea of the superb survivor, but not reprinting ranger abilities you need is a bit of a let-down, particularly since, personally, I don’t allow the Starfarer’s Companion’s legacy classes unanimously in my game. All in all, I consider this to be a decent offering – nowhere near as cool as what the author cranks out with an astonishing regularity, but also not exactly bad. If you absolutely want the concept of the horizon walker in your games, this’ll do the trick, but personally, I prefer almost every Star Log.EM installment over this one. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
Occult Skill Guide: Rituals of Transformation (SFRPG) PDFRogue Genius Games
Our Price: $4.99Add to Cart
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
The first installment of the Occult Skill Guide series clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 23 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.
All right, we begin this pdf with a brief and concise sense of what we nowadays, in a nonacademic context, associate with the term “occult”, in particular in conjunction with roleplaying games, wherein the paranormal, the magical may even be mundane. This brief paragraph already establishes a goal regarding the tone of the designs within, is easy to grasp. An important note: While this supplement does contain sample rituals, its focus lies on presenting the ritual engine and allowing you to make your own rituals. If you just want plug and play, this will have a few rituals for you, sure – but the main draw is that this provides you the ability to make your own rituals.
After this, we take a look at the rituals known in the Nova Age, beginning, as is prudent, with the establishing of terminology. A “Ceremony” denotes the physical acts that must be performed in order to make use of a ritual. The “Lore” section details the history and key information of a given ritual. Thirdly, there would be the “Seal” – this would be a complex physical marking, a pattern, a circle – you get the idea. These three are collectively known as “ritual components” and must be known to learn a ritual.
A “Failure Consequence” denotes pretty much what it says on the tin. Of course, where there’s failure, there also is success, and “Success Consequences” are similarly codified. Rituals also have a “Focus Component” – specific items used to cast a ritual. These are NOT destroyed by performing the ritual. In contrast to that “Material Components” are required as well, but these ARE consumed by performing the ritual. Rituals have a Primary Ritualist, who determines the ritual’s caster level, attempts all skill checks and makes decisions for the ritual’s effects. Secondary ritualists can attempt a skill check to assist the primary ritualist (here, there’s a little typo – should be ritualist, not ritual) with an enhancement bonus to ONE skill check attempted during the ritual. A ritual may have a number of secondary ritualists equal to the primary ritualist’s highest mental ability score modifier.
So that’s the terminology – simple, precise, and pretty much analogue to spellcasting.
I already mentioned that rituals need to be learned – in order to do so, you have to have 3 times the ritual’s level skill ranks in the ritual’s key skill. Researching one of the three ritual components takes a number of days equal to the ritual’s level, so researching all 3 components of a level 7 ritual would take a total of at least 21 days ( 3 components times 7, 7 days per component). However, in order to make a day count towards reducing research, you need to make a Mysticism skill check against DC 15 + 1.5 times the ritual’s level. Beating a DC by 10 or more earns you two successes towards the research. Once you have thus mastered all components of the ritual, you add it to your rituals known. There is no maximum number of rituals you can learn.
If this sounds elegant, you’d be right – we have basically a pretty smooth research framework here. The pdf goes further and walks the reader, step by step, through the research process as well as the respective limitations – for example, a ritual that affects an area must have a seal large enough to encompass said area. The respective aspects are concisely presented – secondary ritualists can, for example aid or act in place of a primary ritualist. Interesting here – while the entirety of secondary assistance is treated as an enhancement bonus, these may explicitly stack up to twice the level of the ritual, which renders the wording (the bonus here is untyped in the verbiage) makes sense upon close reading. The ritual’s save DC would be 10 + ½ the primary ritualist’s caster level + highest mental ability score, +1 for each successful skill check attempted by a secondary ritualist, up to a bonus equal to the half the ritual’s level. (Nitpick: Should state round down, but that’s a convention by now, so chalk this up to being an aesthetic gripe.) Rituals may be paused, but doing so makes things harder – and can disrupt the ritual. There is a hard cap to how long you can suspend it. Still, this codifies one of the most iconic scenes in proper rules – you know, the “disrupt the ritual” angle featured in a gazillion of books?
The pdf, however, goes beyond simply describing rituals and how they’re formatted; the book also spends a sidebar explaining the archaic ritual practices and why they work in a meta-reality context. I was surprised to see this, and while not necessarily required to subscribe to the explanation offered, it does provide GMs that don’t want to dream up their own explanations a way to properly explain their function when in a pinch. I really appreciate this.
Rituals are presented in a format that obviously makes use of the former, and as such, is pretty close to how spells work, though casting times can be significantly longer. Similarly, the rituals may have characteristics as prerequisites, like being of a certain age, race, etc. An alternate way to call components would be reagents, and this is indeed how the terminology is used in the rituals themselves. The ardent reader will notice a difference between material component and reagent – I assume this to be due to didactic reasons: The beginning introduces the notion that rituals have material components, the detailed side of things clarifies that they are called reagents. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that a sentence à la “Material components for rituals are commonly known as Reagents.” Would have further enhanced clarity here. A living creature is required sometimes to power a ritual – while known as “Sacrifice”, said creatures need not necessarily be slain, but they’re always negatively impacted by the ritual. Some rituals also require specific sites to perform them. It should be noted that, obviously, the sacrifice and site components do not universally apply. In cases where SR applies, the primary ritualist is used to determine a ritual’s means to bypass SR.
And that’s the theoretical framework, the rules-chassis, if you will. You may have noticed that this does work completely in line with the best ritual engines as well as the Advanced Skill Guide, though the latter book obviously is not required to make use of this pdf.
Before we get to the meat of the rituals, it should be noted that quite a bunch of supplemental material is provided. Assume appearance, a level 3-6 spell, is based on Alien Archive 2#s polymorph, save that it allows you to assume the appearance of a target of whom you have a piece of their body (blood, hair, etc.) or a photo. The pdf also features a new race, SROs – short for “sentient robotic organism.” These may be Small (+2 Dexterity) or Medium (+2 Strength),a re constructs with the technological subtype (but do have a Constitution score), and get 2 Hit Points. SROs count as living creatures for the purpose of healing, but spells that are not targeted at repairing constructs are halved in their potency – but RAW for Hit Points. Engineering is used instead of Medicine. SROs have an integrated standard datajack and comm unit, that may be removed from a helpless SRO. They also have a built-in cybernetic component with an item level no greater than ½ character level, minimum 1. These systems do not count towards the cybernetics systems limitations. SROs are immune to bleed, disease, death effects, poison, nonlethal damage and sleep effects, unless these also affect constructs. They are affected by spells or effects that usually only target humanoids, but get a +4 racial bonus to saves versus the like. They need to recharge (sleep equivalent) and are unimpeded by vacuum. While I do like this race in concept and, for the most part, in execution, it is a very potent one – the immunity to poisons and diseases in Starfinder is a potentially very potent draw. Depending on the power-level of the campaign, I probably would ban them.
The pdf tightly codifies the new aging descriptor, which manipulates the target’s age and is something I enjoyed to see. We also get a doppelgänger graft template, and an organic variant of steel that heals itself – cool! One of the main draws, however,, would be the concise and easy to grasp step-by-step procedure that provides the tools for the GM to design her own rituals: You basically tally up component points, and can use backlash and similar things to make the ritual less costly. Skills associated with ritual types, sample DCs, skill checks per step, tables that list prices by component points…this section is pretty much inspired and ensures that you’ll get a ton more out of this pdf than the sample rituals presented. Other designers probably would have sat on these, but here, we get the raw ingredients for unbridled creativity.
The pdf also contains 5 sample rituals that are interesting indeed; beyond aforementioned supplemental components, the rituals also feature encounter-suggestions for their use and legends that contextualize the rituals. Incantation of Homogenization allows a homogeneous group of ritualists to change race, class, age, feats, features …and can be utterly inspiring (a ceremony of magical adoption) or frightening (Resistance is futile!). Roboticizing Rites allow you to change augmentations, transform into droids or make a target into a SRO. Seal of Stolen Time can be sued to get rid of diseases, regrow limbs, adjust ability scores, restore ability scores or, you guessed it, modify age! Skinsuit Transmogrification would be the Starfinder iteration of the skinsuit ritual in general theme; however, the execution is completely different, making e.g. use of the Pop Culture Catalogue: Clothing pdf. Aforementioned encounter hooks/adventure seeds? Pretty damn exciting, mind you! One for this ritual is “The Ultimate Cosplay.” Twisted. Speaking of which: Twisting of Flesh and Soul is basically the ultimate ritual of transfiguration: Race change, body repair, turning into mindless objects, and so on, this is level 6 for a reason. Notice something? The rituals all have the leitmotif noted in the title, but become progressively better and thus, higher level, teaching by showing here.
I’ll come out and say: Formally, when it comes to typos and the like, this is not exactly Alexander Augunas’ most refined book. While fully functional, it does sport some minor snafus. THAT BEING SAID, I rate books on more aspects than my ability to nitpick details in the rules-language: Components like complexity of attempted design, originality, usefulness for the GM/player, impact on the game, potential etc. all feature in the equation…and more. And while I try, very hard, to be neutral in my ratings, I can’t always help myself. This is one such case.
You see, if there is something about Starfinder that I thought it was lacking regarding magic, it’s rituals. I’m a huge fan of the concept, and seeing an engine this robust this early in the life-cycle of the system, particularly from an author and publisher with a history of providing further support to released books made me smile from ear to ear. Furthermore, this book does go the extra mile in plenty of instances: From the legends to the encounters, this oozes the feeling that the author really cares, that he’s passionate about the subject matter. This is particularly evident in e.g. the skinsuit ritual’s Starfinder version. It may be the same concept as in PFRPG, but the execution is rather different. It’s small touches like this that elevate the pdf for me. This genuinely made me more excited about the game. It’s a pdf I will use again and again. And it makes Starfinder’s magic feel more magical, more distinct from technology – which is a huge boon as far as I’m concerned. I can’t wait to see more of them. I genuinely loved this little supplement.
As noted in the beginning:
How to rate this? Difficult. I could see this being a 3-star-file for folks that want plug and play rituals and that are nitpicky about typo-level glitches. For me, as a person, this is probably one of my favorite SFRPG-supplements to date; as a person, this is easily 5 stars +seal of approval to me, and if you’re like me and enjoy making magic feel mysterious and potentially dark, then consider this to be an all but required EZG Essential as well. I know I do. As far as my official verdict is concerned, I will designate this in between the two, at 4.5 stars, rounded up. This does get my seal of approval, seeing how much I loved it, but whether you like this one or not, is more contingent on your personal tastes and what you want of SFRPG than most files.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This bestiary clocks in at 43 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 39 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All righty, so the pdf starts with lists of monsters by CR (they range from CR ½ to CR 19), by terrain and by type/subtype, making the book pretty comfortable to use. It should be noted that the critters herein come with pretty damn amazing b/w-artworks. It should also be noted that fans of Run Amok Games with be familiar with quite a few of the critters within. The bestiary also features quite a bunch of adventure seeds to jumpstart your imagination on how to use these critters.
The first critter within would be the CR 9 Aralazar, a good canine outsider that guards mortals and helps them – they can raise dead once per day and basically are a regal, outsider version of the concept of a really *good* dog. We also have no less than 3 enormous bark beetles – the darting one at CR 11 is poisonous and has a powerful bite, and these beetles get an additional move action and evasion as well as good Reflex saves. Shiny bark beetles (CR 14) are also poisonous, but have a carapace that automatically reflects ray spells. Finally, foaming bark beetles also are poisonous and get a poisonous ranged spit attack. These also come with a nice adventure seed.
At CR 10, the Belgar would be a fey reminiscent of a 10-ft.-tall pregnant crone, who can steal infants and replace them with her own offspring as well as shadow jump – frightening, for sure, but I would have enjoyed it if the write-up did a better job describing what types of infants qualify. Do unborn ones, for example, work? Or just those already born. The flavor-text makes that clear, mind you, but it’d have been nice to read that in the proper rules. These fey are often accompanied by CR 7 Duskmongrels. These advanced fey shadow mastiffs can teleport up to 60 ft. with a 1d4 rounds cooldown, has a panic-inducing bay and get shadow blend. The kids of the Belgar are known as Paoternosh (first featured in “A Flirtation with Fey) – they come as a CR 1 critter, and with a sample CR 6 bard (daredevil).
On the side opposite of fey, we have, for example, the CR 8 Clockwork Archivist, who will be familiar to folks who own the “Kingdom of Toads” module. It comes with proper construction notes and adventure hooks, and with winding keys, eidetic memory, a focus on lore and elongated limbs that can cause bleeding wounds, they are an interesting take on the concept. (As an aside: If you run RotRL, this one makes for a great insertion into adventure #4.) At CR 4, the Clockwork Training Dummy (originally featured in “A Flirtation with Fey”) also features the swift reactions (Which net Improved Initiative and Lightning Reflexes and +2 dodge bonus to AC) – but the unique component would be the heart target ability, and it allows for the discharge of the winding up. Cool! Particularly since they come with 3 variants and a detailed adventure seed. Speaking of “A Flirtation with Fey”, the book also contains the stats for the CR 3 Junk Mephit was first featured in that module. These folks get a bludgeoning breath and clutter an area in sharp debris. The entry also features two junk traps and adventure seeds.
From “Perils of the Broken Road”, we draw the Giant Mountain Skink (CR 5), who can slough their skins and come with proper companion stats, and finally, there would be a template, the failed lich (Cr 1 + HD) template, which also comes with a sample CR 4 statblock. There also are two different templates that are new and direct opposites: Gangly creatures use an owlbear as sample critters, while Gnarled creatures also use the owlbear – they are basically opposites at CR -1 and CR +1. Gangly makes you bigger, but not tougher, while gnarled makes you tough, but not bigger. These serve a very tangible niche and are really useful. They also include proper rebuild rules. The pdf also features the spider-bred template that comes with a delightfully-illustrated sample spider-pony critter. Cool simple template!
As far as new creatures are concerned, we have, for example, Pumice Warriors – Tiny CR ½ constructs that come as pistol-wielders, pikemen and postillions, including construction notes. On the more potent construct side of things, we have chimney golems, which, at CR 4, get a blinding, burning fire damage breath weapon, making for a low-level, but more threatening golem perfectly suitable for more industrial environments.
On the humanoid side of things, the pdf contains the Ulqar, a race of cannibalistic dwarves (CR ½ sample NPC provided), and they come with racial stats: +2 Constitution and Intelligence, slow and steady, darkvision, +2 racial bonus to saves vs. spells and spell-like abilities, stability. They also get a +4 bonus to saves vs. poisons and diseases (bonus type should be racial) and when they eat at least a pound of humanoid meat, they gain their “level” (probably character level) in temporary hit points that don’t stack with other sources. Still, should be controlled in evil campaigns. They also get a scent variant that helps them track meat, corpses and badly wounded targets. The second humanoid race within would be the Gyerfolk, who come with two statblocks (CR 1 (PC-style) and 6 (monstrous humanoid)) and get +2 Strength and Wisdom, -2 Charisma, a base speed of 30 feet, 40 feet fly speed at 1st level (problematic) with poor maneuverability, darkvision and proficiency with shields. They also increase shield bonus to AC by 1 when wearing medium or lighter armor. They get deathwatch at-will and +4 to saves vs. disease and poisons. Once more, bonus type not stated, should be racial.
The pdf also features a new giant, the CR 15 magma giant, who can imbue a rock held with fantastic heat, making it basically a lava-generator. Cool one! At CR 2, the Gizzit is easily the weirdest critter within – a Small aberration that looks like a winged brain with a stinger tail, these critters cause extremely painful stings and quickly fast heal. Jumblethorns would be CR 7 plant swarms that can use hallucinatory terrain, ghost sound and fire thorn volleys. Spiky and capable of causing bleeding wounds, they are deadly adversaries. The CR 6 Leng Ettercap is an interesting twist on the etetrcap trope that comes with an aura that may make you think that insects are crawling all over you. Their write-up also features three sample traps at CR 5, 6 and 7 include for use in conjunction with them. Nice bit of internal mythweaving – their stance towards Leng Spiders is noted.
We also are introduced to the CR 5 Haunting Elemental, who can change shape and get a Strength drain attack, but interestingly don’t have a direct damage-dealing attack mode, which somewhat contrasts the flavor text mentioning them brutally killing targets. I guess they use what’s available. The pdf would also feature the Dashnavar at CR 12, a pallid undead with quickened dominate animal, a bite that carries a curse of lethargy, slowing strikes…and an uncanny command over rabbits, which they excel at dominating and calling forth. A CR 2 rabbit swarm, quite raving, I might add, is included. And sorry for the bad pun – couldn’t help myself. Finally, there would be the CR 19 Mountain Wyrm, a 100 feet long serpent (yep, not a dragon!) with truly devastating grappling capabilities and resistances. Nice one!
Ron Lundeen’s little bestiary here is a well-wrought collection of critters. I can see uses for every monster within, and they offer sufficient flavor, seeds, supplemental notes, etc. to make inclusion of this book’s material in your game smooth and worthwhile. At the same time, the overlap may irk some Run Amok Games fans, and I wasn’t exactly impressed by the basic playable race material within. That being said, the pdf comes at a very fair price point, considering the quality of the monsters and artworks. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.
Star Log.EM-043: Zodiac Solarian Revelations (SFRPG) PDFRogue Genius Games
Our Price: $2.95Add to Cart
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This installment of the Star Logs.EM-series clocks in at 8 pages,1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, know how the solarian’s powers are drawn from the stars? Yeah, you indubitably are familiar with the flavor of the class…so it’s…kinda weird how the abilities don’t actually tie in with, you know, the stars, right?
Enter this pdf! To explain this: let’s take a look at “Akyrea, the Noble” – a photon revelation, this one lets you target 1 + photon attunement points targets within 30 ft. to dazzle them for one round AND make the target take a -2 penalty to the next attack roll against an ally of your choice, or a -2 AC penalty versus the next attack against it. Basically, a variant of covering/harrying fire that doesn’t stack with it, but feels right. A Fort-save negates them, but here’s what sets this apart. This is not just an ability. Ähem. *
“Akyrea was a vain kitsune who boasted of her nine, resplendent tails.
And suddenly, a per se nice ability has what was sorely missing from many a Starfinder ability: A mythological underpinning. A context. A solarian screaming “Akyrea shall blind you! Or “Akyrea guide my allies!” is intrinsically more awesome than just rattling off mechanical benefits. There is a graviton revelation based on the scholar that developed the Xa-Osoro-system’s first thrusters. “Bloodstar, the Fiend” lets you generate a gravity field that penalizes Strength for carrying capacity – and here would be a good note to state that, mechanically, attunement really matters here. The more attunement points you have, the more effective many of these are. This makes the whole attunement engine run more strategically and helps make the material within stronger.
What about inhaling and absorbing nearby poison effects that, if you succeed, can be converted into a line of plasma? Heck yeah, and guess what? The persistence of plasma points to unleash these scaling lines are dependent on your attunement for duration. This is mechanically complex, slots seamlessly into the solarian engine AND it has flavor, tying it to the legendary Celestion Star Dragon. Come on! (And yes, fyi – radiation, toxic atmosphere etc. are all covered. No cheesing here.)
Adding a conservative steal to attacks, making weapons behave as thrown weaponry…and what about a dazzling anti-laser shield that may actually be a nasty surprise for targets that would end e.g. an invisibility on you (Nitpick: spell reference not italicized)? Natural weapons that are made from stellar matter, in a nod towards Rovagu…wait, Rovathun, the Beast? Yep. What about a photon attunement tailored after a famous seeress, which allows you to reduce photon attunement as a reaction to get to roll twice and take the better result, or impose rolling twice and taking the worse result on an enemy? What about tapping into the powers of Valkrona, the angel, to imbue your vehicle with photon energy, increasing its speed – or, for starships, their mobility? Badass solarian pilot? Check. There also is a vacuum channel, and a temporary Hit Point grant, that taps into mighty Yggdrasil itself. And guess what? No, the latter can’t be cheesed.
What happens when Alexander Augunas and David N. Ross join forces? Awesome, that’s what! This pdf remedied something that I didn’t notice I was missing in SFRPG – it adds some mythweaving to class abilities. As much as I like my precise and very tech-like aesthetics in how clinical and precise rules-language in SFRPG works, I never realized how much context like these little paragraphs within actually adds to the game, particularly for a class like the solarian. Beyond being mechanically interesting and tapping seamlessly into the core attunement engine, the revelations herein ooze style, context and flair. They are more than numbers, clinical debuffs or buffs or damage. They have character and identity, and that makes them intrinsically more compelling. When I do get to play as a player (I mostly GM), I tend to be quite the power-gamer, but much like many power-gamers I know, sometimes an ability just fits too well into a vision you have, and you take it for the fluff. I know I do that. Well, here, we have the best of both worlds: Mechanically relevant and distinct ability that also ooze flavor, that can inspire warcries, concepts and builds. I love this little pdf. It ups the game for what small class-rules expansions can bring to the table. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This collection of player-facing material clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction,3 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As befitting of the book, we begin with a rather wide array of new archetypes, the first of which would be the explorer ranger, who gets favored terrain at 1st level, and an additional favored terrain at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Instead of mapmaker, they learn to make excellent maps, which function akin to artisan’s tools, bestowing a +2 circumstance bonus on Survival checks to avoid being lost and Knowledge (geography). Completed maps may be sold, and mapmakers can instead make shoddy ones that penalize those using them instead. These bonuses/penalties btw. increase by 2 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, and yes, such counterfeit maps may be identified. Additionally, track is replaced with a scaling bonus to aforementioned skills. Instead of the combat style feat gained at 2nd level, the explorer gains terrain bond: While in favored terrain, all allies within line of sight that can hear the explorer gain ½ the favored terrain bonus to initiative, Perception, Stealth, and Survival. More importantly, they leave no tracks, unless they wish to. This humble sentence makes the ability much more interesting and pretty potent for e.g. resistance/guerilla type of scenarios. 3rd level provides favored enemy, with additional favored enemies gained every 5 levels thereafter. At 6th level, we have unfettered stride, which allows for the ignoring of non-damaging terrain and manages to precisely state how it behaves in conjunction with the like. It also clarifies how it does not eliminate the need for skill checks and the like – big kudos there. 7th level nets a bonus language, as well as an array of language-themed bonus spells that are added to his spell list.
At 8th level, the archetype gets the ability to create multiple maps and even a super handy master map, replacing swift tracker. Trailblazer is gained at 10th level, and is interesting, allowing these guys to basically clear the path for allies – if they follow in his footsteps, they get the benefits of unfettered step! Additionally, the archetype gets the ability to sacrifice a prepared 3rd level spell to dispel terrain modifying spells! Really cool! 11th level replaces quarry with blindsense 30 ft., which is upgraded to blindsight 30 ft. at 19th level. 14th level upgrades unfettered stride to allow for free movement through water and magically-altered terrain, replacing the style feat gained there. At 18th level, the explorer no longer fails a save on a natural 1, and the alternate capstone nets continuous freedom of movement and he no longer provokes AoOs from creatures that have movement impeded by conditions or terrain. Cool!!
The second ranger archetype within the pdf is the Hidden Guardian, who must be good and gets Diplomacy instead of Knowledge (dungeoneering). Instead of favored enemy, the archetype gains studied strike, as a slayer, and 4th level replaces spells with lay on hands, with hidden guardian level as paladin level. Hunter’s bond is replaced with mercies at paladin level -1, and 9th level nets immunity to divination spells and effects that allow for a save to negate. The hidden guardian can choose to still be affected. 11th level extends this to encompass even divination spells that usually don’t allow for a save to negate, which require a CL check to affect the hidden guardian. This replaces evasion, quarry and improved quarry. Evasion is relegated to 16th level, where it replaces the improved standard. 20th level nets constant mind blank.
The fey mesmerist must have the fey type and chooses a specialism from illusion, enchantment, light, nature or shadow. When the archetype would gain a trick, one can instead elect to learn 2 spells of a level currently available to the list of spells known – a massive and cleverly-curated list of spells by specialism is provided, spanning 2.5 pages…and better yet, more obscure spells have been reprinted in the appendix for your convenience. 3rd level nets DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Very cool: The DR actually interacts properly with other sources of DR, changing the bypass requirements to “cold iron and…”, if applicable. This replaces consummate liar, touch treatment, glib lie and 5th level’s bold stare. Instead of mental potency, 5th level yields a spell DC increase for specialism spells that further increases at 13th level. The archetype gets an apotheosis that changes the DR to DR/-, and the character now may be treated as either fey or humanoid, whichever would be more advantageous. Kudos for going the proper route here instead of the invalid double type error so commonly encountered.
The greenweaver kineticist adds Knowledge (nature) and Handle Animal to the class skills. Green weavers are locked into wood as primary element, and are treated as phytokineticists, gaining wood blast and flesh of wood as simple blast and defense wild talent, respectively. Additionally, infusions à la deadly earth, plant disguise etc. may be used with wood blast and its composites. However, since the archetype draws from the First World instead of the Ethereal, the kineticist may not take Reverse Shift. This also, obviously, ahs some flavor ramifications that you can develop. The greenweaver treats Con as 4 higher for the purpose of kineticist abilities, including save DCs and damage dealt as well as Burn accepted. Greenweavers are treated as a plant creature and fey creature in addition to being humanoid, but does not gain the traits and immunities of these types. It is clear that this represents a kind of Achilles’ heel, but there is one corner case that is not taken into account: When an effect, for example, buffs plants and penalizes humans, which effect is gained? It’s clear that the detrimental one is applied, but explicitly stating that would have been nice. This replaces the 1st level infusion.
2nd level’s utility wild talent is replaced with DR 1/cold iron, which improves by +1 for every 2 class levels beyond 2nd. Here, there is a cut-copy paste snafu, as the ability refers to a feat and talks about the option to accept burn to increase DR until burn is next removed, This enhanced DR caps at kineticist level, fyi. 3rd level yields sprouting surge, which applies whenever you accept burn while using a wild talent or negate burn with gather power while using a wood talent. This generates a burst of plants that damages unattended objects, and the terrain is made heavily wooded for a brief duration, and yes, this has proper synergy with e.g. Brachiation of Roots. The radius of the burst scales, and at 9th level, you also get to make a Con-based combat maneuver check to bull rush targets and cause minor damage. This replaces elemental overflow normally gained at 3rd, 9th and 15th level. Elemental overflow is instead gained at 6th level, and for the purpose of the ability, the archetype treats their class level as ½. 5th level nets alter self, entangle, charm person and memory lapse as at-will SPs that require 1 burn to accept, but only in wooded terrain. At 10th level, there are more SPs added, though these cost 2 burn. The modify memory SP gained there can btw. be used as a standard action. 15th level further expands this list with more potent options that cost 3 points of burn. Save DCs are btw. based on Constitution. This replaces 5th level’s infusion. 7th level locks the archetype into Void as second element and allows for the use of Knowledge (nature) to analyze fey and creatures from the shadow realms. Infusion specialization is gained at 8th level, and kineticist level is treated as 3 lower for the purpose of the ability. This is an impressive one – its checks and balances are carefully crafted and make the phytokineticist style work with a distinctly fey touch. Nice!
Kineticist fans get more, though: Persistent Infusion is a 1st level Burn 1 substance infusion for earth, water or wood, and it leaves behind matter. Cool: For 1 burn, your matter (which allows for some really creative tricks!) may be treated as caltrops. We also get 10 new wild talents: Verdant Aura (2nd level) lets you create an aura that allows for the use of woodland step etc.; Desolate, the 3rd level Burn 1 lets you go Dark Sun – you can render up to 100 ft. of land permanently infertile. This is really frightening once you think about it! Hostile Flore, also 3rd level, 0 Burn, lets you use plants in a 30 ft.-range as sources of blasts. Usually, plants take minor damage, though, with the right combo, you can blast through them sans hurting them. Cool: Range infusions extend the reach. The two level 4 utility wild talents build on previous ones. Hostile Woodwork lets you fire through wooden structures – and in a very cool limit, abuse of casting through magic items has a unique anti-abuse caveat. Verdant Overgrowth builds on the plant aura mentioned, allowing for entangling and concealment.
We also get two level 5 wild talents: Continuous Regrowth nets fast healing 1 while flesh of wood is active, which does btw. increase for burn accepted. Thankfully, the ability has a healing cap and certain damage types temporarily negate the ability. While it is gained late, this, theoretically, can allow you to grant infinite healing to allies via HP-transference. Slowly and inefficiently, granted, but yeah. Grasping Overgrowth upgrades verdant overgrowths’s benefits to black tentacle-like grappling. There also are two 7th level options: Horticultural Animation nets animate plants minus entangle options, with Burn for extended duration. The utility wild talent thankfully has an anti-abuse caveat. Finally, Rapid Regrowth enhances the fast healing to regeneration that is harder to offset. Same criticism applies, but at this high a level, it’s even less efficient to cheese this. So yeah, those should not break the game.
The huntsman medium gains proficiency with ranged martial weapons and simple weapons, and draws spells from the hunter’s spell list, with only ranger spells and druid spells of level 4th or lower are considered to be part of the spell list. These spells are cast as psychic spells. The archetype can’t cast alignment-specific spells. Instead of archmage, the archetype gets the Animal Spirit legendary spirit, and Druid instead of hierophant. What do these do? Animal Spirit’s spirit bonus applies to atk and damage with natural attacks and skill checks pertaining animals and plants. Séance boon nets a natural AC increase by 1, and favorite terrain is equal to that of the native terrain of the animal type invoked. Influence penalty to CL-checks, Cha-based and Int-based checks. Taboos include not speaking, not wielding manufactured weapons and not eating anything you don’t kill yourself. The abilities include getting some animalistic qualities like claws and darkvision, swim speed, etc., bonuses applied to animals summoned that match the animal embodied, bestowing standard actions to animals and plants, and as a capstone, we get save boosts and a 1/day summon nature’s ally IX. The Druid spirit is a modification of the hierophant that gets different spirit powers that include druid spells (as per archmage arcana, save that it applies to druid spells); influence for casting sans slot-expenditure, semi-spontaneous casting via influence and a 1/day no-influence cast are provided.
But back to the archetype, shall we? 2nd level replaces shared séance with track, and propitiation is replaced with swift tracker. The second medium archetype within is the natural channeler, who gets Knowledge (geography, nature) instead of Knowledge (planes, religion), and uses the Druid spirit instead of hierophant. Shared séance is replaced with woodland stride. Haunt channeler gets replaced by trackless step. 4th level’s spirit bonus increase is replaced with resist nature’s lure. 4th level nets wild shape as though a druid of the level of the medium, and summon monster spells are replaced with summon nature’s ally. The archetype comes with brief advice on how to adjust the archetype to instead be a swamp strider, etc.
Bards may elect to become jesters, who replace bardic knowledge with Antagonize. The bardic performances include a debuff instead of inspire courage, a sanctuary-like effect instead of inspire competence. Dirge of doom is replaced with a remove fear combo’d with a buff, and inspire greatness is replaced with a performance that causes random effects. Frightening tune is replaced with a song of discord-like performance, and at 15th level, we get “The Joke’s On You”, inverting competence and insight bonuses of foes - cool! This ability also allows for the expenditure of bard performance rounds for a chance to negate critical hits. I am pretty sure that this is supposed to replace inspire heroics. 2nd level nets ridiculous weaponry, which translates to Catch-Off Guard or Throw Anything, and using an improvised weapon nets a bonus to Bluff to feint and atks rolls as part of aid another. Slightly odd: The ability continues to state that the jester can juggle objects and use e.g. different weapons as part of attacks. This section is a bit weird and looks like a line is lost or something like that. I’m pretty sure that a cut-copy-paste glitch is here: “…he is juggler is considered…” This feels like half on the ability has gone missing. The archetype is locked into versatile performance choice of Comedy at 2nd level and does not gain more versatile performance. 5th level nets Improved Dirty Trick and may use Charisma instead of Intelligence for Combat Expertise prerequisites. 1/day, the jester can add Cha-mod to some combat maneuvers, and it does not provoke AoOs. 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter net a bonus feat chosen from a list. This replaces loremaster and jack-of-all-trades. 6th level’s versatile performance is replaced with the ability to affect targets sans shared language with targeted comedy, with each iteration of the ability’s gain providing one type and subtype where these benefits apply.
Cavaliers can become knight-surgeons, who get Heal as a class skill. The archetype may not belong to an order ability that grants or improves a mount….because he doesn’t get one. Instead, the archetype adds ½ class level, minimum 1 to Heal and Craft (alchemy) to make medicinal items. Cavalier’s charge is replaced with touch treatment, and expert trainer and the charge-ability progression is replaced with weapon training. There actually is an archetype of sorts provided – the footman knight, who instead gains stern gaze and armor training. Cavaliers also can choose a new the order of the woodland may never initiate hostilities versus fey, animals or plants unless these start, and vow to protect nature from exploitation. Challenge lets you move at full speed (extends to mount, fyi) through undergrowth when charging towards the enemy, but it does not work to mitigate magical undergrowth or terrain. Cover bonus, if anything, is halved, and concealment-based miss chances are also reduced. Skill-wise, we have Knowledge (nature) and Survival and +1/2 class level to them (min +1) related to forest-based checks. As far as order abilities are concerned, we get scaling bonuses to initiative and Perception checks in forest terrain, and the cavalier gets a scaling AC bonus when adjacent to a tree. In such a case, the cavalier also can’t be flanked. 8th level nets woodland rider, which lets you pass through even magically manipulated undergrowth etc. 15th level nets greensight.
Part II of my review can be found by clicking here!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This supplement clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This little collection of monsters features handdrawn artworks for all of them, and starts with the Cr 5 Arachne, whose kiss features the regurgitating of eggs into the mouths of unwitting victims; with Strength drain (odd choice) to denote whether your body can get rid of the eggs, strong webs and poison, this one is a pretty solid critter. Feats are erroneously lower capped, but that’s aesthetics. At CR 18, the Azgal Worm is a Huge vermin that secretes acid, which damages nearby targets. Striking them is thus not conductive to weapon durability and also splashes nearby targets with acid on every hit with a non-reach weapon. Their bite is also highly poisonous AND ignores item hardness. With rather potent natural weapons, they are pretty deadly. Interesting: Their chitin can be harvested to make armor and weaponry. Minor nitpick: The profession chosen here, skinner, is pretty uncommon.
On the other hand of the power spectrum, the CR 2 Coqui is Fine magical beasts, a tiny golden frog that has a soothing song that can help withstand mind-affecting abilities. They can turn this song into a damaging sonic burst and can grant beneficent glyphs to those pure of heart. They may be chosen as Improved Familiars starting at 7th level. The CR 8 Spinal Lasher is a gaunt undead that has four dangling vertebrae that it can use to lash foes. These carry a curse that impedes healing, and these undead, shadow- and mirror-reflection-less, also get a 1/day enervating breath. Neat, though e.g. initiative value is one too low - +3 Dexterity modifier +4 Improved Initiative = +7, not +6. Finally, there would be Shagga the Pale, a CR 11 scarred witch doctor 13, who comes with an adventure hook as well as a new witch hex, the Pale Plague that prevents a body’s decay. While called “plague”, this doesn’t actually confer a contagion. The statblock of this NPC also sports some minor snafus.
Angel “ARMR” Miranda’s critters herein are actually more interesting than I anticipated. There are some neat ideas here, and while not world-shaking or perfect, there would be the fact that this is PWYW – and it’s certainly worth checking out and leaving a small tip for. All in all, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to n dubio pro reo and this being a PWYW file.
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
The second installment of the Pop Culture Catalog-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover,1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, 2 pages blank, leaving us with 21 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 patreons.
Okay, as the size of this pdf should show you, we have a longer installment on our hands – but one that is based on the same rules-framework as the first installment, i.e. it uses the fandom rules: the base rules for joining a fandom are reproduced on the first page: In order o join a fandom, you must have immersed yourself in the fandom’s topic for at least 24 hours, which must not be consecutive (indeed, increments can’t be more than 8 hours). Once you’ve immersed yourself, you declare that you’re a member and that’s it. You can belong to a total maximum of 1 +Charisma modifier (minimum 1) fandoms at a given time, and you may leave a fandom at will, losing access to the perk it grants. Re-entering a fandom only takes 12 hours. Additionally, for every 5 ranks in a skill associated with a given fandom, you may join a fandom associated with that skill; For example, Infosphere series fandoms may be unlocked via Computers or Culture, Clothing Brands via Culture or Profession (fashion designer) – you get the idea. Now, I mentioned the fandom perk – this is basically a minor bonus, not unlike one of the benefits granted by a theme. Being in a fandom nets you the fandom perk, but you only can have one active fandom perk at a given time – each time you take a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points, you can choose a fandom perk to be active, which renders a previously chosen perk inactive. Additionally, you can spend 2 Resolve Points to spontaneously switch your active fandom perk as a full action.
So far, so simple – as before, the first section of this pdf allows Alexander Augunas to show off that he is not only an experienced technical rules-writer, but that he also knows how to create flavorful fluff. Basically, we’re introduced to an assortment of megacorps/brands associated with clothing etc., and once more, this made me smile: Basically, all of these do, in some way, lampoon real world companies – and while I am not a specialist regarding brand clothing (consider me to be more on the side of Macklemore’s sentiments and usually opt for a goth/metalhead version of smart/business casual, but I digress…), even I managed to identify quite a few of those companies. This is made easier by a continuation of an aspect of the first pdf I adored, namely the fact that we get company logos. Alucci, for example, does look a bit like a famous manufacturer that also ends in –cci IRL. Interesting here would be that the respective entries offer more meat – each of the companies comes with a manufacturer line that, for example, notes when the item’s Hit Points are increased in comparison to regular versions – and notes on price. While, for example, Alucci’s luxury goods all get the formal clothing property, they also cost no less than 10,000 times (!!!) the normal price. The perk does give you an edge in contested skill checks and instills you with confidence, which increases the DC to use social skills versus you.
Wait a second. Properties? Yep, but I’ll get into that below – just note for now that clothing properties do exist….but not all companies herein necessarily tie into that: Approu cosmetics, for example, help you keep your fur, scales or skin in tip-top shine, and actually net you a bonus to Fort-saves to withstand environmental effects – and they help you pass for a young adult of your species! As the perk, you can choose a culture and gain minor bonuses to social interactions here.
Are you really sick of your shpaeshifting wrecking your favorite suits and dresses? Fed up with statiching that blouse? Well, it’s time for Casuqolo clothing – designed from shifting-friendly nanofibers, it finally allows you to remain comfortable, regardless of your form of the day! Moreover, if you’re really immersed in the fandom, you may use them as a substitute disguise kit; in conjunction with a proper disguise kit, they further aid you. Cool! Hims and fems is professional wear, obviously based on H&M, and is an inexpensive means to get socially acceptable wear; if you’re a fan, the utilitarian nature will help you with emotion and fear-based effects – which makes sense in the everyday professional world. The North Star is outdoor wear for the distinguished spacer, with life-support systems and if you enjoy the pretty famous founder’s myth, you may benefit further from protection vs. environmental effects.
Want to make a statement regarding class ans style that can help you with Intimidate and Diplomacy? Ruidi. You know, like the famous movie, “Osyluths wear Riudi” – and yep, that jab got a serious chuckle out of me, particularly considering, you know, that there are actually devils in our game? XD Turri & Co is a jewelry manufacturer synonymous with quality silver and diamond jewelry, while under glamour wear can actually make you harder to detect by creatures with scent-based blindsense! Cool! Victoria athletic wear is based on Nike, and allows you to reroll a single d20 roll for 1 Resolve Point if you’re a diehard fan – after all, you “Go for it!” Finally, there is no way past the hilariously-named Wreekt watches; obviously based on Rolex, these are just funny and can be really useful communit standins.
Now, beyond these brands, the pdf goes much further, in that it covers racial clothing: Not only for the core races, mind you – but far beyond that: We do get notes on Alien Archive creature clothing, the races introduced in the Starfarer’s Companion are provided, and even beyond that – from arichs to gnolls, even a plethora of races from the Star Log.EM-series is covered! A kitsune’s racial wear, for example, obviously has to account for the race’s limited shapeshifting and is also silent in comparison! Bodywraps, digitigrades footwear or e.g. wing sleeves are also touched upon, adding some seriously nice components to this pdf’s components. Races without their own clothing traditions are, just fyi, covered as well, which just adds some icing on the cake.
So far, we have an amazing flavor-centric pdf here, but it’s time to talk about the details here – the properties, and, in a way, the beating heart of this supplement: You see, I learned this lesson relatively late, and it’s not one that many RPGs talk about – but here goes: Clothing matters. This pdf allows you to drive this home and provides a surprisingly mighty engine for making your own brands, your own clothing. First, we choose a general 10 types of clothing that includes anything from pajamas to uniforms – all come with a proper item level, price and bulk-note, handily collected in a table. Similarly, clothing manufacturers are noted with prices and item levels and types they generally put out – and page-references for your convenience! The pdf then proceeds to provide price multipliers by item level – and then, we get the massive list of clothing properties; with the exclusion of the Athletic property, all have a price noted and a description of the effect – as an aside, it is evident from context that a price of 10 credits makes sense for Athletic wear. From costumes to hodgepodge hipster wear to intimidating or durable pieces of clothing, these may have circumstantial benefits, but they matter. There is a reason to get them…and having a LED, for example, can be a true boon; same goes for nanofiber datasets. Filters that help cope with toxic environments, and porter clothes actually help you carry more! There is a reason that baggy palming clothes are popular with criminals – they make Sleight of Hands easier! And proper sleepwear helps you recover from the rigors of adventuring!
I love Alexander Augunas’ Pop Culture Catalog-series. The series’ focus on rewarding actually ROLEplaying your characters is great – if you make your character more than just a guy or gal defined by combat prowess, this really helps doing so. Roleplaying fans of certain brands allows for differentiation between characters, and the fact that the choices actually matter provides further incentive for doing so. In short, this rewards you for engaging with the game on more than its combat level. The brands herein also add some serious color to the setting – when you think of e.g. Shadowrun and similar franchises, you’ll soon note how important and useful branding can be for in-game consistency, for roleplaying. And then, there’s the fact that this one’s clothing-design engine is seriously nice and allows you to get creative.
Beyond this, it should also be noted that this lays the foundation for magical clothing, and that this also could be considered to be extra useful in a game wherein the magical aspect of Starfinder is deemphasized. If your scifi/space opera tastes run parallel to mine, you’ll enjoy the intrigue and fine customization options that this one offers – all without unbalancing the game. All in all, this is a great continuation of the series, one that makes me truly happy that this series exists. Final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval. Check it out, and perhaps, use it to jumpstart your own interstellar clothing empire!
An Endzeitgeist.com reviewEndzeitgeist —
This massive expansion for Spheres of Power clocks in at 94 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 88 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was requested by one of my readers to be moved up in my reviewing queue.
Some wild magic results have the (Combat) tag, and only take effect if the caster is in combat, which is concisely defined. If rolled outside of combat, the result is shelved and applies once combat is initiated. If you have the wild magic drawback and the Cantrips feat or similar access to the like, you may, at-will, as a standard action roll on the cantrips wild magic table; you can reduce the action required via spell point expenditure, and saving throw DC defaults to 10 + ½ class level + casting ability modifier. Wild magic may also substitute mishap chances of spellcrafted spells. Minor nitpick: header for this section is not properly bolded, and same goes for the subsequent notes on the interaction of wild-magic and talent-based crafting and traditional casting. Nice plus: The pdf does come with a school/sphere conversion guideline, which allows for seamless integration of the system proposed with targets that do not apply sphere-based casting. Rules to identify wild magic are provided, and there are a couple of variant rules included that I absolutely adored: For example, replacing spell failure due to breaking concentration with wild magic…and there is a notion of major events, which applies when a wild magic chance would rise above 200%. These are supported by a table of their own, instead of requiring stacking. This is pretty much the definition of going the extra mile. Kudos!
The pdf contains 2 different archetypes, the first of which would be the arcanophage elementalist, who can intuitively understand magic witnessed in practice. When successfully identifying a sphere, the caster gains access to 1 talent used in that effect, plus an additional one for every 3 class levels. These temporary talents are retained for 1 minute per class level. The total maximum of talents caps at a total of CAM; subsequent ability uses that would increase the number of tricks beyond that value require the choosing of which to retain. Kudos: Prerequisite talents that allow for use of the respective ability are explicitly exempt from being viable choices for being lost. Any sphere effect thus gained uses class level instead of CL…and, here’s the catch: wild magic chance increases by 10% per talent, stacking with itself. This replaces weave energy…and makes for a surprisingly epic modification of the base chassis, allowing for Final Fantasy-style mimic action.
Bonus combat feats are modified to instead allow for casting and wild magic feats, and instead of favored element, we get stifle spell, which translates to the Counterspell feat, which works in conjunction with aforementioned spell mimicry; this ability improves at 8th and 14th level, with MSB-bonuses and the subsequent feats in the Counterspell feat chain being unlocked. Instead of a dodge bonus, we get a scaling save boost versus magic, spells, SPs and sphere-effects. 5th level provides spell shield, which means that the arcanophage gets SR equal to a 5 + class level versus spheres of which he currently has a talent gained via spell mimicry. Lowering and raising this is covered, and the SR does scale. This replaces elemental defense. Finally, energy body is replaced with a loss of the wild magic chance increase, and the delimiting of the timer of the base ability. This archetype is a glorious little piece of design that is significantly more fun and novel than the class it modifies – a surprisingly efficient and fun class hack. Two thumbs up!!
The second archetype within would be the wild mage thaumaturge, who replaces forbidden lore with tap chaos: As part of casting a spell or using a sphere ability, the wild mage may increase his CL by 2, a bonus that increases by +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This applies to the specific effect, but not overarching sphere effects like companion strength et al….but if the wild mage does this, wild magic chance increases by 100%, though this can be affected by effects that, in some way affect wild magic chance. The archetype comes with a new, custom set of 10invocations, including one that reduces wild magic chance by 50%, temporarily infecting a creature affected by a tap chaos-enhanced effect with wild magic chance, better spell penetration with tap chaos, getting a defensive miss chance shield, delay the onset of wild magic effects and the like. The more potent invocations are kept behind appropriate minimum level restrictions. The capstone allows for the use of 2 invocations at will. So…I’m not a big fan of the thaumaturge, but as far as the class is concerned, this actually represents an archetype I’d enjoy playing. Congrats!
There also is a new arsenal trick – and much to my joy, we do also get a new imbue sequence (imbue + finish) for the monumentally awesome prodigy class from Spheres of Might. Scholars from Spheres of Might get to choose a new material imposition, with lead, which, following lore, can help block divinations; lacing wild magic-y effects into flashbangs is also possible here. Nice! Four new mystic combats also allow you to dabble in the chaotic joy of wild magic if you’re a mageknight, including SR and even the chance to return abilities that fail to pierce it back to sender.
The next chapter, which deals with player options, features a total of 10 feats, all of which have the (Wild Magic)-descriptor. As an aside: Kudos for explaining how burn works in a sidebar, as the first feat, Blood Dampening, allows you to exert a bit more control and negate wild magic events you cause (excluding major events, unless you have a couple of wild magic feats) by taking burn. This decision must be taken before the roll on the table is made; having enough wild magic feats reduces burn. Careful Caster presents a scaling reduction of wild magic effects; Chaotic Counter adds a temporary increase in wild magic event chance for targets who successfully counterspell as well as a MSB-increase to do so. Energy Shift allows you to change destructive blast energy types via wild magic chance; Inspired Surge increases wild magic chance by +100%, but nets you one of the effect’s base sphere talents temporarily to your arsenal. You still have to meet prerequisites. Heedless Metamagic modifies metamagic feats to instead operate via wild magic; rolling twice on the table and choosing the result, increased wild magic chance for better SR-penetration, modified sell point cost (here, slightly uncommonly, abbreviated with SP), and chaotic switches of effects – all of these are interesting in a couple of ways: They allow you to twist risk/reward ratios, and to exert more reliable control over wild magic – but never to the extent that it becomes “tame”…and lame. Even if you play it safe, wild magic still remains a volatile force, though one that you can strain to tweak and twist. This is, design-wise, a tightrope act that plenty of chaos magic iterations I’ve read over the years got wrong.
We do get more: a casting tradition, a boon, a general drawback and two actually meaningful traits complement this section. The pdf sports 3 magic items – chaos buffers allow armor and shields to add their effects to saves versus wild magic. Wild critical, at +1, temporarily makes the target of critical hits sport a 100% wild magic chance. Matrix of order lets you 1/day negate a wild magic event.
The pdf has so much more to offer: As noted before, there is a cantrip table, where the loss of the ability to distinguish colors, grease-painted style moustaches, retries of some skills, concentration-disrupting squeaks and the like may be found. Did I mentioned the Stealth-enhancing option to temporarily become translucent? On the other end of the power spectrum, the optional major event table sports more serious modifications – like the caster being slain and immediately reincarnate’d (spell italicization missing); temporary loss of all spell points/spell slots within Long range can potentially doom whole military units; did I mention immediate animation of all dead creatures in a 10 mile radius? This table is amazing if you want to emphasize the volatile nature of magic. In fact, it’s what I’d be using if my players opted for a return to Ravenloft or a grittier campaign setting – this table makes magic feel dangerous, unstable, and potent – a force to be feared, a grand equalizer, a tool with potentially disastrous consequences when misused. I LOVE IT.
The Alteration sphere (EDIT: Now bookmarked properly!) is a great example for the fun and weird things wild magic can bring to your table: Beyond the expected sex-change, we also have shapeshift (not italicized) not having an effect – or the chance that all creatures are morphed into a homogenous blob, or that they gain swallow whole! (Also notable here – entry 6 and 7 are nigh identical, differentiated only slightly by verbiage). It should be noted that there are always a few effects that can be found in multiple tables – like being stunned for one round in combat…but the majority of this pdf? Unique. Conjuration sphere users can get invisible summons (which can be hilarious), end up being merged into an amalgam with the creature, end up with a regenerating creature…you get the idea. Creation sphere based wild magic includes damage to unattended objects, having the ground become covered with flammable oil, swarms of paper cranes (!!!) granting concealment and inflicting paper cuts, box-creation, creating water in lungs, generating marble-like objects…and more.
Among the Dark sphere entries, we have see in darkness, trailing darkness, have your shadow perform mocking pantomimes, temporarily developing photophobic vertigo, black tendrils, a kleptomaniac shadow, instilling light blindness…. And speaking of Light: Anti-Dark burst, being surrounded by strobing lights or distracting motes, areas affected by all your (glow) talents, pillars of light – cool stuff!
Illusion is particularly neat – from an illusory longsword to getting a fireworks display when you next enter town (that can be really awkward…) to flickering disguises and illusory insect swarms, this is a pretty massive one. Did I mention illusory weather? The Mind sphere’s table can make targets think they’re chicken! What about effects failing, with the caster firmly convinced that they worked? Yeah, that can be rather funny indeed. Temporary language loss, potentially putting targets to sleep…and, once again more, so much more. The Nature sphere includes dust storms, sporting armor spikes for allies, attracting rodents Hamelin-style, stone-sheaths on foes, ice locking down targets, vegetation size increases…or what about turning all nearby animals friendly for a while? Protection sphere effects include flat-out immunity to almost everything in one entry, and in another, pretty much the opposite – Protection + wild magic is a truly volatile table that can turn the tide of battle. Speaking of which: Yes, there is a table for the War sphere, and it has quite a bunch of combat effects – it may also compel you to charge potential threats, hamper all movement, temporarily gaining teamwork feats…
The conclusion of my review can be found here!
Star Log.EM-041: Soldier Fighting Styles (SFRPG) PDFRogue Genius Games
Our Price: $2.95Add to Cart
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!
After a brief introduction to the subject matter and the context of soldiers in the Xa-Osoro system, we begin with the first of 3 fighting styles herein, the berserker. These folks can enter berserkergang (NICE and kudos for getting the name right!), which translates to a +2 morale bonus to melee attack rolls and damage rolls as wellas to these roles with thrown weapons and on Will-savesm but at the cost of -2 to AC (collective term used; this, this applies to both EAC and KAC) and 2 temporary hit points per soldier level. This mode does, like the rage it’s clearly based upon, prevent the use of concentration-requiring skills with some exceptions, but manages to get gear boost etc. interaction correctly. Activation is a swift action, and the mode lasts for 3 rounds, fatiguing you for a single round thereafter, and yes, this does prevent, foresight be praised, rage-cycling, should the options ever raise their heads. At 5th level, we get deadened nerves which translates to DR 1/- in berserkergang, and that increases by 1 at 7th level and every 2 levels thereafter. Cool: Gets augmentation synergy right! 9th level nets immunity to shaken and frightened while in berserkergang, and 13th level upgrades the bonuses to +4 for atk and damage, +3 to Will, and the temporary hit points granted increase to 3 per class level. You also gain a +2 insight bonus to the DC of critical effects of weapons you wield, including synergy with class abilities, feats, etc.. 17th level upgrades the Will save to +6 vs. enchantment effects, charms and compulsions and gets rid of the fatigued cooldown, but in a cool catch, still doesn’t allow for cheesing. The duration also changes until ended. Cool fighting style!
The second would be the rapscallion, who gains Improved Maneuver (dirty trick), and enforces a save on an application of the maneuver. If the enemy fails the save, it takes a standard action to remove the trick’s effects. 5th level nets Spring Attack with a dirty trick synergy; 9th level provides the trick fighting ability, which nets a +1 insight bonus to dirty trick attempts, and it basically adds dirty trick effects to your critical hits as an alternate critical hit effect. 13th level nets an onslaught version of dirty trick that has a unique feature: If you focus on one target, you get to substitute one of the 4 different conditions for the regular ones, using the second roll’s effects to determine duration. 17th level provides AoO and charge synergy with dirty trick, and removing the effects now will cost a full action on a failed save, a standard action on a successful one.
The third style herein is the striker style, which allows you to take no atk-penalty when fighting defensively, but nets only a +1 bonus to AC. You may also fight defensively as part of a standard action or as part of charges and Shot on the Run or Spring Attack; in such cases, you take -2 to atk. 5th level nets the ability to intimidate unarmed opponents you threaten sans actions. If you succeed the target is off-target on all attacks against you until the start of the next turn. 9th level yields Deflect projectiles, and may use any melee weapons to do so. This gets better in conjunction with fighting defensively, and the ability makes damage type matter. Evasive maneuvers, at 13th level, nets you evasion while fighting defensively, and the bonus to KAC from fighting defensively is applied to Ref-saves when fighting defensively. 17th level increases all damage reduction and resistances you may have when fighting defensively or in total defense.
The pdf also sports 4 gear boosts: You’ve got three guesses of what Danger Sense does: Bingo, bonus to AC and Ref-saves vs. traps, hazards and surprise round attacks; additionally, Perception becomes a class skill, and the skill gets a +3 insight bonus that increases at higher levels. Finesse Soldier lets you, when you hit with an operative weapon adding Dex to atk and Str to damage, add ½ class level to the weapon damage. This bonus can’t exceed your Dex-bonus. Grappler Dash is cool: When hitting a target with a grappler, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a move action to immediately move to an open square adjacent to the target, up to a maximum range of 500 ft. Movement must be a straight line, and moving more than 240 ft. renders you flat-footed, and when you do this, the foe gets a free Acrobatics check to break free. This is a very powerful movement tool, but one kept in check by its clever balances. As an old bionic commando fan, I love this. Uncanny Agility, finally, nets you the operative ability whenever you’re in light or no armor.
Alexander Augunas delivers some truly core aspects for soldiers here – the berserkergang will be a boon for barbarian fans that have migrated to SFRPG, and the defensive style is also pretty nice. The gear boosts have a true “Did you see that?”-gem with Grappler Dash. All in all, a great little installment in the series. My final verdict will be 5 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!
All right, as you could glean from the title, this one features new improvisations for the envoy class, to be more precise, 4 new 2nd and 8th level improvisations, as well as 6 new 6th level improvisations. It should be noted that these come with the appropriate glyphs denoting language-based, mind-affecting etc. improvisations, which are also explained once more in a side-bar for your convenience.
Among the 2nd level improvisations, we find fantastic assist, which allows you to replace regular attacks in a full attack action with covering or harrying fire at a -4 penalty, maintaining consistency there. Kudos: This does interact properly with e.g. the onslaught type of full attack modifying tricks; as a minor nitpick, I do think that it would have made sense to explicitly state that greater penalties to atk as a result of such a combination override the penalty incurred from this improvisation. Polylinguist nets you envoy level additional languages, as well as +1 language per envoy level. Team Assist nets an ally within 30 ft. attempting a skill check an untyped +2 bonus as if you had used Aid Another (which is why I don’t complain about the bonus being untyped) – kudos: Can’t be cheesed by stacking aid another on top, and abilities that enhance aid another don’t increase this bonus. Telepathic Improvisation makes audible or visual-component sporting improvisations for allies or foes work via telepathy or limited telepathy. Cool.
Among the 6th level options, we have Antagonizing Mastermind works like Antagonize, but makes an ally the target required to offset the penalty, which is btw. off-target and -2 to skill checks, with duration scaling based on how you rock the skill check. Amazing Coordination lets you threaten opponents even when not wielding a weapon. As a move action, you can choose a threatened square to count as your square for the purpose of flanking bonuses. Neat. Avenge Me! is conceptually a nice one: When reduced to dead or dying, if you can target the offending creature with go get’em and spend 1 Resolve Point…as an immediate action. Which does not exist in SFRPG. That should be a reaction. The improvisation targets the creature with go get’em until the target dies, is reduced to 0 HP or below, or 24 hours elapse. If you have improved go get’em, you can apply that instead.
Inspiring Martyr is similar to the aforementioned “Avenge Me!”, but oddly gets the action economy right, being based on reactions. It allows you to immediately use a move and standard action to trigger up to two envoy improvisations. Language-dependent ones change to sense-dependent. Kudos: Verbiage prevents cheesing via stabilizing. Nice one! Play the Crowd is activated as a full action and lets you choose a 20-ft.-radius area within 30 ft. and attempt a social skill check. There need to be a bunch of noncombatants within 100 ft. Opponents within the area draw the ire of said crowd if you make your check, which can cause one of 3 different conditions. Cool!
Among the 8th level improvisations, we can find Amazing Assistant, which lets you roll your expertise die and substitute that for aid another, and also add the expertise die as part of covering/harrying fire, and affect that number of targets with the respective action. This is a really, really cool assist! Love it! Easy Now can be used as a reaction or sans action, the latter requiring the expenditure of 1 Resolve Point. If you do, you can grant an ally the option to take 10. In short: Become the guy that you really want on the other end of the line when your ally’s defusing the nova-bomb. Nice! Hysteric Inspiration is a standard action that can be used when an ally within 30 ft. is at 0 Stamina and less than half total Hit Points. This grants a whopping ½ Stamina Point total temporary Hit Points, as well as a +1 morale bonus to atk, and a morale bonus equal to the envoy’s Charisma bonus to damage rolls; these benefits last for expertise die result rounds, but afterwards, the ally becomes exhausted. An ally can only benefit once per day from this, and the envoy can’t target herself. Action economy seems to be odd, though: The ability states that, by spending 1 Resolve Point, you can use this ability as a reaction instead of a move action. But the ability is triggered as a standard action, not as a move action. Which is it?? Pass the Torch is another one that inspired allies when you fall to 0 HP or below and get the dead/dying condition. You can spend 1 Resolve Point to grant an ally within 30 ft. 1 Resolve Point. The ability may not be used again until you and the ally have recovered Resolve Points after an 8-hour rest. I…kinda like this, but there is an odd interaction here. If you’d force the envoy to grant all Resolve to targets (like e.g. space-kittens) and then cryo-sleep those kittens, the envoy would be stranded sans Resolve. Making the granted Resolve operate on a timer for the target would have been more elegant here.
Alexander Augunas’ envoy improvisations are per se a cool array of unique benefits; while the “blaze of glory”/avenge me-angle is a bit dominant, I found myself liking all concepts herein. Unfortunately, the pdf is rather rushed. While none of the glitches truly wreck the rules language of the material herein, the pdf does sport a couple of indicators that point towards the fact that this could have used a bit more scrutiny regarding a few of its components. While it is functional as a whole, this does drag down the pdf from the accolades it’d otherwise get. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down.
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised editionEndzeitgeist —
The first installment of the Pop Culture Catalog-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.
Being the first in a new series, this supplement deals with something that was painfully absent from many a supplement in many a science-fiction/science-fantasy/space-opera game – flavor, particularly regarding the small details. Whether you think of Star Wars or series more in line with my tastes like Firefly, Defiance or The Expanse, you’ll notice something when going into the in-depth analysis of what works and what doesn’t – while the big world-building is important, so are the smaller tidbits. The representations of the respective cultures depicted, and their popular culture artifacts and expressions. This pdf is the first in a series that attempts to fill that hole, to make the small, often neglected components, make sense. While nominally tied to the Xa-Osoro system as the default shared setting of Rogue Genius Games and Everyman Gaming, the content herein works just as well in other science-fiction/fantasy/space opera settings. As such, this receives the “almost system neutral”-tag. It features rules for Starfinder, sure, but these are slightly less important – this book is just as viable in e.g. Stars Without Number.
Speaking of rules: on the first page, we are introduced to fandoms of pop culture representations – to belong, you have to engage with a topic for 24 hours; said time must be spent in 1-hour increments, and need not be consecutive. You can belong to 1 + Charisma modifier fandoms (minimum 1); for every 5 ranks you have in a skill associated with a fandom, you can join an additional fandom associated. The pdf provides a list – Athletes and Sports teams? Associated skills Athletics (not Athleticism) and Culture); Infosphere Sites? Computers, Culture. Clothing Brands? EDIT: Minor glitch fixed here! Leaving a fandom is a matter of declaring it, and rejoining only takes 12 hours. Each fandom has its unique benefit, which is known as fandom perk. Whenever you take a 10-minute rest to replenish Stamina, you can switch the active fandom perk from the ones you have, as you can only benefit from one at a given time. Alternatively, you can spend 2 Resolve Points as a full action to swap an active perk for another. Each of the popular vidgame franchises herein comes with a fandom perk, which are generally in line and approximate with theme knowledge – a reduced DC, for example. If you already have such a reduction in place for that matter at hand, you instead gain a bonus to such checks.
As soon as you start looking at the actual content, you’ll start grinning from ear to ear.
Sounds familiar? Yep, it’s obviously…DE Games. No. Not EA. What? The logo provided looks similar enough to make abundantly clear what’s meant? You don’t say… ;)
Kidding aside, the glorious thing here, is that the logos and publishers are clearly based on real world entities, but abstracted enough to prevent any possible form of litigation “Kyko”, for example, publishes Kingdom Clash XG. Okami is a legendary publisher under the CEP Satoru Yamawata,a nd has such gems as the “Legend of Xion” (which takes place in Hivool, latest installment: Mark of the Wilds), “Nullchamon” (in which you become the best there ever was in training Null-Space chamber monsters…) of “Starsune” under their IPs – the latter being a fun tweak on the StarFox reference. And yes, there is a series about a portly construction worker – Super Malvick. There also is a Smash Brothers franchise mentioned.
You’ve got three guesses which company “Tsunami” is based on. If It’s not immediately evident: Age of Ashes (AoA) is the most commercially successful MMORPG ever; there is a dungeongrinder that starts with “D” (Demgagogue X) plagued by sneak updates, a science-fiction RTS and a team-shooter with that sports “Watch” as a syllable in its name.
Virilsoft, obviously based on Ubisoft, has franchises such as the skill-enhancing “Lumman”-platformer, “Move! Motion! Mayhem!” (totally not DDR) that can actually teach you to dance; “Murder’s Mark” is set in historical events and allows for better mook-killing due to coup-de-grace cinematics-studying…and “Skitterscreamers” hilariously lampoon a certain rabid-based franchise with Starfinders beloved skittermanders in the main role.
Beyond the big ones, the pdf also includes a couple of more “Indy” (in the roughest sense of the word) nods, which include survival-game “Shipwreck”, obvious Portal reference “Wormhole,” and, much to my joy, nods to both the awesome Indy gem Shovel knight (“Spade Shogun”) and to my childhood platformer of choice, which is represented here as “Dasher the Hedgepig.” While the latter has suffered seriously during the last years, particularly with the atrocious “Dasher the Hedgepig ‘26” (that made me lol…), it’s still a cult classic. As an aside: “Sonic Mania” really rocks and captures old-school Sonic exceedingly well. You’ve got three guesses which franchise “Ultimate Fantasy” references…
So yeah, the flavor here is phenomenal and made me smile time and again. What about the mechanics? Well, what about a Reflex save reroll at -2, that may be recharged by resting and spending Resolve? Effectively handling manual tools? Bonuses for ganging up on opponents? What about one of them helping with verbal duels as codified in the Advanced Skill Guide? The benefits aren’t world-shaking, but they are meaningful – and they are not boring.
Alexander Augunas’ first Pop Culture Catalog is a great start for the series that shows a genuine passion for the subject matter. While Alex is a great designer, he also knows how to write compelling and captivating prose, settlements, races – you name it. In this book, he can flex his narrative muscles, and I for one was thoroughly entertained by this offering. While clearly a Starfinder supplement regarding its rules, I maintain that this genuinely is useful, regardless of the game system you’re playing. And if you’re even remotely interested in videogames, then this will definitely be fun for you – attempting to decrypt the plethora of references is certainly amazing, and frankly, I can’t wait to see sequels, where franchises like “Quiet Mountain”, “Memory Loss” or the like are covered. The subject of videogames certainly has a lot to offer. Furthermore, I do love how this book, design-paradigm-wise, rewards characters in-game for engaging with the flavor presented. Ultimately, having hobbies and the like adds depth to a character, and this pdf achieves just that. EDIT: Devoted to quality, Alexander has updated the pdf and ironed out the minor kinks, which increases the rating to 5 stars. And since I really loved what this has to offer, I will also add my seal of approval. A fun read, meaningful effects, and plenty of reasons to smile – what’s not to like?