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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

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.
Catch! lets you use a standard action to choose one wielded grenade and attempt to Bluff an opponent, with the feint DC. (This is NOT a feint-check!) The grenade detonates at the end of the round, detonating on the corner of the target’s square, and if you made your check, the target takes a penalty to Ref-save. I am pretty sure that this should have an attack-like component. RAW, obstacles like forcefields etc. don’t hamper feints, when they’d clearly stop the grenade from ever reaching the target.

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.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level and okay on a rules-language level, though I did notice a “cna’t”-typo and a couple of uncharacteristic hiccups. Layout adheres to two-column full-color standard, and the artwork provided is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

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.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

5/5

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.
Why? Well…there is, for example a deplorable company that purchases smaller studios and milks them dry until the public tires of them. Said company also holds the rights of the biggest sport-series simulation in vidgames, Hawkvein Sports, and releases a new, slightly tweaked iteration every year. The publisher also has the rights over Simulacraft, developed by Mixim, wherein the player gets control over the fate of a small community of artificial beings. (And in the science fiction context, simulacra of scanned persons may be included in the game…) Suffice to say, this publisher is not very popular, is considered to be a blight upon the gaming sphere…

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.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level and has been further refined in a recent update. No more complaints! Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, a and we get a couple of really nice pieces drawn in Jacob Blackmon’s signature style. My favorite aesthetic component within, though? The company logos. Similar enough to make clear what entity is meant without being on the nose. The Blizzard stand-in, Tsunami, to give you an example, does not have “frozen” letters or such a font, but instead sports a rendition of the wave you’d associate with that natural disaster. They are genuinely clever. Kudos! The pdf now comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

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?

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

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 and flavorful introduction, we begin with one of the most-requested components in SFRPG; a staple of particularly grittier scifi/science-fantasy, and something I *really* wanted to see: Rules to jury-rig items. A handy table collates objects and related skills – and these skills can be sued to temporarily fix broken or destroyed objects. A successful skill check allows you to temporarily ignore the broken condition, with skill checks that are particularly successful increasing the duration that the item retains its fully operational status. Failing the check by 5 or more, however, risks destroying an item and preventing further attempts at jury-rigging it. Suffice to say, no taking 20, and skill checks to jury-rig can’t be made untrained. It usually takes 10 minutes to jury-rig an item, but this can be hastened – the check is penalized when doing so, though. Cool: Items you crafted actually can be jury-rigged faster! The rules also make use of item levels in a smart manner: You can only jury-rig items whose item level does not exceed the skill ranks in the associated skill, and item level also governs the DC to jury rig the respective item. Kudos for catching what could have wrecked the whole rules-complex: You can’t jury-rig items that are expended as part of their use – and yes, the pdf does cover augmentations etc. and provides two choices for the GM to deal with this. Either prohibiting it, or allowing it.

Beyond jury-rigging, the pdf also presents rules for improvising an item, generating makeshift versions of the normal iterations; this process, though, is dangerous, and the higher the item level, the more damage you risk suffering on a failure. And yes, damage types are actually codified for this damage! Failing to improvise an plasma weapon will inflict E & F damage, for example. You also require proper material, and here, the freedom of pen & paper rpgs is in full swing: Improvise cryo weapons from your fridge, fire from gasoline etc. – really cool! Precisely codified, and yet wide open to reward player creativity, and, you know, ROLEplaying! Two thumbs up! Once more, the rules cover items that would be abused and specifically exempts them from being created this way. Both are properly codified.

Mechanics get two new 2nd level tricks: Expert rigger lets you quicken jury-rigging, and further hasten the process to be viable in combat, but at the requirement of Resolve expenditure. Hybrid rigger basically makes Engineering your go-to skill for all jury-rigging and improvising. There also are 2 8th level tricks: Haphazard weaponry allows you to have your makeshift weapons fall apart on a critical hit as part of hitting, destroying the weapon. If you do, you max the weapon die damage inflicted – provided the opponent doesn’t succeed a Fortitude save, in which case, you have to roll damage as normal. Master rigger makes your makeshift and jury-rigged items last indefinitely and allows you to repair them with the appropriate skill use.

The pdf also contains two new magic hacks: Improvise Ampoule lets you invest spell energy in soda/beer cans etc. by investing spell slot to make spell ampoule. And yep, thankfully, they can’t be hoarded. Reconfigure item allows you to expend spell slots to enhance the makeshift item. there is a minor type here that is a bit confusing: “To use this ability, you must expend a spell slot with a spell level that is equal to or less than the spell slot’s spell level × 3.” That’s supposed to be “[…] than the item’s item level x3.” We also get a new 1st-level technomancer spell, integrity field, which speeds up jury-rigging, as well as providing a bonus to skill checks to do so. Additionally, you can discharge the spell in order to reduce the damage inflicted on the targeted item. Really cool: Via Resolve expenditure, you can make an item just BARELY hold together at 1 Hit Point. This is so iconic and immediately brings to mind a dozen of iconic scenes that the rules now allow you to have.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting re top-notch on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is meticulously precise, with the exception of aforementioned glitch. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with a nice artwork. It has no bookmarks, but needs none.

David N. Ross’ jury-rigging rules are meticulous, precise – and, most of all: FUN. Yes, allcaps. They close a hole in SFRPG’s rules-chassis and allow groups to do cool new things, GMs to create exciting encounters, and, most of all, provide some genuinely creativity-rewarding ROLEplaying options without compromising the integrity of the rules. In short, this is frickin’ inspired and should be taped into the core-rules. The one hiccup is slightly annoying, but not enough to deprive this of the honors it should have: This gets 5 stars, my seal of approval, is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018, and being an expansion of SFRPG’s rules that I desperately wanted to see, it also gets my EZG Essentials tag, denoting that it should be considered to be a must-own expansion for the game.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

2/5

This new base class for SFRPG clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The aeoncarnate base class uses Charisma as its key ability score and gets 6 HP, 6 + Constitution modifier Stamina and 4 + Int skills per level. Proficiency-wise, we get light armor, basic melee weapons, small arms, longarms and grenades. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves.

A key feature from the get-go would be dynamic potential, which nets you 1 point of dynamic potential at the start of each combat round, manifesting as glowing rings that shed light in a 20 ft.-radius, capping at Charisma modifier. This light may not be suppressed, so say goodbye to any chance at Stealth. Loss of consciousness makes you lose the points, and significant risks are required to harness them – yes, that means that a significant enemy or similar hazard is required, which is pretty punitive for a core class feature. Additionally, the ability hasn’t learned from years upon years of arguments on how “at the end of combat/per-encounter”-mechanisms make no sense. Dynamic potential has no duration grounded in a real time frame, and dissipates immediately once combat ceases. So, if that enemy bursts through the door 1 round after the last foe has fallen – tough luck, you’re still restarting at 0. This is really puzzling to me anno 2018.

1st level also increases the DC to feint or demoralize the aeoncarnate by +2, and it yields the first kinetic conversion – the talents of the class. These have saving throw DCs, if appropriate, equal to 10 + class level + Charisma modifier. This is in violation of how save DCs are calculated in SFRPG – I am pretty sure that this ought to be ½ class level instead. Additionally, the ability has a “see page XX”-remnant. At 2nd level, we have an ability that lets you expend 1 point of dynamic potential as a full action, allowing you to move up to your speed and THEN make an attack. Okay. Correct me if I am wrong…but you can do that already. The ability nets you a +1d6 bonus damage that increases to +2d6 at 8th, +4d6 at 14th level. You must have “current dynamic potential equal to the number of times you used this ability in the current combat -1 in order to gain this bonus.” Okay, before or after you have paid the cost? No idea, and the example provided doesn’t specify that either. Also: Another annoying per combat mechanic. Finally, the verbiage makes it sound as though the minimum dynamic potential cap only influences the bonus damage, which makes using it otherwise a trap option. Equalibrium is either a pun or a typo; I’d opt for the former. This ability, gained at 3rd level, nets a +1 insight bonus t Acrobatics, Athletics and Piloting, which increases at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter by +1. 3rd level also nets Weapon Specialization for ALL weapon groups that this class nets you proficiency in.

5th level nets you a +1 insight bonus to all attacks that apply the full action bonus damage, which increases by +1 at 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 5th level nets the following ability: “As a move action, you can 1 point of potential.” No, I did not miss anything when copying the text from the pdf. Outside of combat, this dynamic potential lasts for 1 round, and you can use this only 1/day, with additional uses costing 1 Resolve Point. The capstone provides immunity against being moved against your will, and the use of Elastic Reflection sans spending potential. You can also spend 1 Resolve Point at the beginning of the first combat round’s turn to get Charisma modifier dynamic potential. What if you don’t have Elastic Reflection? Not sure.

Now, I did mention the talents, called kinetic conversions, and how the base save DC seems to be wonky. But what do they do? Unless otherwise noted, they’re activated as a standard action, and include flight, a short-range blast wave…and some interesting tricks, like mitigating explode weapons, an energy resistance shield…or just the equivalent of core races’ natural attacks. Environmental protections can be found, as can the per se interesting ability to slow a target down – here, though, you’ll notice a curious lack of ranges for these abilities – even the aforementioned debuff has no range, and there is no default range or metrics to fall back on. This also extends to buffs for allies, which makes this whole section feel woefully rushed.

8th and 16th level provide the two threshold steps, where new kinetic conversions are gained; among the 8th level conversions, we can find barriers that generate dynamic potential, a mechanic’s overload, imposing basically disadvantage on enemies – there are some cool options here, and some do actually specify proper ranges…while others don’t. The 16th level options include temporary elemental immunities, draining batteries for dynamic potential, reviving the recently deceased. Know how rushed this is? There is an ability that causes radiation sickness and uses the save DC of the kinetic conversions instead of the radiation severity level DCs. This wouldn’t be an issue – were it not for the existence of options that protect against radiation up to a certain radiation level. *sigh*

The pdf does state which class features are altered or replaced by archetypes. The class graft can be found in the Star Log.EM-file, linked below on my homepage, and is not included in the pdf.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are, neither on a formal, nor on a rules-language level, anything near what we usually get from rogue Genius Games, or the author, for that matter. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series. The artwork is cool and kickass. The pdf has one bookmark for the credits, but that’s it.

…I don’t get what happened here. Matt Morris is a veteran, and his designs usually are really solid. He has written quite a lot supplements I really cherish. This, though, feels like a rushed draft that really needed to be sent back to the drawing board. The core mechanics of the class are flawed, and the details, the abilities themselves, sport quite a bunch of oversights and inconsistencies that are thoroughly uncharacteristic. The aeoncarnate is a promising class that almost works as written, that has an intriguing core, but the implementation is flawed, from core components to the details. Try as I might, I can’t rate this higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

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 start with the query-like meta-narrative of characters accessing the Star Log-databank, and a contextualization, which this around, is pretty entwined with the awesome history of the Xa-Osoro system: The spiderfolk known as Arich are nomads and orphans, survivors of a vanished planet that did not make it into the Nova Age. Stemming from the survivors of a vast vessel, the arich as encountered today represent what was considered to be the best of their species – athletes, scholars, etc., who created an idealized microcosm of the conditio arichana, if you will. Surprisingly, a sense of optimism and openness to other species characterizes their dominant approach to other cultures, and indeed, in a refreshing take on the trope, the arich are not angsty or traumatized. We learn all of this and more in the flavor-centric write-up, which is only missing the “If you are an arich, you…” sidebar.

Rules-wise, the arich get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con, 4 HP and are monstrous humanoids with a 20 ft. base speed and, interestingly, a 30 ft. climb speed. I’d *really* love to see what a creative designer/cartographer could make from this as far as space ships are concerned, but I digress. They have exceptional vision, i.e. both low-light vision and darkvision 60 feet, and are treated as under the constant effects of an extraordinary variant of spider climb. As ambassadors to the arich way of life, they get a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Sense Motive, and +2 to saves vs. slow and staggering effects; additionally, they increase the duration of haste and similar effects on them by 1 round, implying a cultural narrative of time as a net, which once more is something I’d love to see expanded upon.

The race comes with a properly codified subtype graft to represent arich and associated creatures, as well as 4 feats: Arich Bite nets you a natural weapon (1d3 damage, not codified type-wise, alas – akin to the blunder of vesk, though, so I won’t penalize the pdf for it). The other 3 feats represent a miniature feat-tree that is based on Arich Web, which lets you 1/day spray web on a 10-ft.-square within 30 ft. Versus creatures as a standard action; this targets EAC and entangles targets, with the Strength check to break free equal to 15 + the Arich’s Constitution modifier. Said modifier also determines the number of rounds this web remains valid, and webbing HP scale over the levels, and webs are vulnerable to fire damage. On squares, webbing instead generates difficult terrain. Something missing? Yep, the second feat in the tree, Resolute Web allows for the Resolve-based replenishing of the ability. Two feats seems a bit costly to me, but I get the design decision here. Odd here: The usual caveat for Acrobatics as a means to escape the web is missing – RAW, only Strength allows for escape. While I would have deemed this a conscious decision, this does not seem to be the case, as the final feat in the sequence does reference Acrobatics, which makes an oversight likely. Not a bad hiccup, mind you, but yeah.

Arich that can use Arich Web and that also have Improved Maneuver for grapple may elect to take Web Grappler, which nets a +2 bonus to grapple attempts; at 6th level, you may spend 1 Resolve upon pinning a target as a swift action to cocoon the target, prolonging the pinned condition until the target uses Acrobatics or Strength to break free. KAC is properly defined, and fyi – this one does reference the means to escape webbing via Acrobatics.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language, there is the one oversight noted, but apart from that, nothing to gripe about. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Jacob blackmon’s artwork for the race is neat indeed.

Luis Loza is a veteran, and the arich show – a friendly cosmic race of utopian spider-folk? Heck yeah! Conductive to all those spider-man puns you can throw, the arich are an interesting species that has, courtesy of its design decisions, plenty of potential to flesh out, make unique…and ALIEN. In the best sense of the word. Playing against trope and making them nice, master diplomats even, is cool. A minor downside would be that the unique web ability would have imho made for a good core race feature, perhaps supplanting one or two of the racial abilities; I think they’d be cooler with it. It’s also notable that the feats require Constitution 13+ to take, which is an uncommon choice, seeing how that’s the penalized ability score of the race.

That being said, they are conceptually genuinely interesting, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to them being too interesting for a 3-star rating.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

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

We begin this supplement, as always, with the introduction and a little section that contextualizes the wyvaran race within the Xa-Osoro setting shared by Everyman gaming and Rogue Genius Games.

The description of the race includes notes on the physical traits of wyvarans and their home world, society, etc., as well as their take on adventuring, but not “If you are a wyvaran, you…”-section is provided. On the plus-side, we do get a creature subtype graft for the race.

Wyvarans, as codified here are Medium dragons with +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, 2 Hit Points. The dragon type here could be an error, as there is some overlap between type and subtype graft granted abilities, but considering graft interactions and the ability to apply grafts to race-adjacent creatures, it might as well be intentional. Personally, I’d have preferred humanoid as base type, as type-based effects are bound to spread further as the game sees more releases. But I digress, and this concern is mostly about future-proofing.

Wyvarans are immune to sleep and get a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. paralysis, darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision, and extraordinary flight speed of 30 ft. with average maneuverability, which becomes perfect in zero-G. They also get natural weapons and, kudos, properly codify their natural damage type – nice catch and big props for being more precise than e.g. the Vesk! The pdf also includes a new feat, Enhanced Low-G Flying, which extends the maneuverability improvement to low gravity environments as well. Additionally, in vacuum, you can attempt a DC 20 Acrobatics check to fly as a swift action for one round as though atmosphere was present. Rather cool visuals there!

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

This is the first pdf by Randal Meyer I’ve read, and it’s a promising offering – his wyvarans have a unique angle with the take on flight, are precise and didn’t leave me with any complaints. The fluff is neat as well, and while I wished we got a bit more material for them, they work better for me in this iteration than they ever did in PFRPG. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the freshman bonus. Congratulations!

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

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 – it should be noted that a part of the weapon table is on the first SRD-page, so don’t overlook that part.

After a brief introduction that also contains a bit of fluffy material, we are introduced to the new powered weaponry types within: All but one of the weapons within come in 4 different classes, we have cryobows, composite bows that get a jet of supercooled gas for a C & P combo-base. The weapon is categorized as a longarm, and its usage-values, item-levels, etc. check out. Critical effect-wise these bows stagger targets. The second ranged weapon herein is the only one that “only” has three different classes – the incapacitator bolas are a special weapon,come in versions for level 3, 9 and 14, and their damage value may not be as high as you’d expect. They are categorized as shock, but only inflict bludgeoning damage (slightly odd there…but a close glance shows why: they do have the stun property!), but they can trip targets. Yes, proper Starfinder rules employed.

As far as one-handed advanced melee weapons are concerned, we get harmonic scimitars in 4 iterations, blending slashing and sonic damage, with appropriate damage values and deafen as the critical effect. They get the mobile property…which is one of the 4 new weapon special properties within: These tap into your kinetic energy: Whenever you move at least half your speed, you treated rolled 1s on weapon damage as 2s. The property does note how it interacts with vehicles, but, as a nitpick, it’d have been nice to note explicitly that it’ll apply to only the attack after the movement for onslaught etc. interaction, but that is me being nitpicky.

Uncategorized, with piercing damage as the damage inflicted, the ion-jet tridents feature the new pin down special weapon quality, which allows you to entangle targets, with Acrobatics and Strength as means to escape – but unlike the entangle property, they pin a target to a surface – and come with biometric scanners that prevent others from powering them off. Critical effect is knockdown, fyi. Cool!

On the two-handed weaponry side, we have magnetar hammers, which are plasma weapons (E & F) with the wound critical effect. These are stance weapons that have two stances: In defensive stance, they get block, and in offensive mode, weapons with this property can have a variety of different properties – in this example, reach. Changing stances is a swift action. Love this one! The final weapon class within would be electron choppers, classified as shock weapons, and as such, dealing E & S damage. This one has a new weapon property named sunder that adds +2 to sunder maneuvers. The weapon class also uses the new critical effect shatter, which applies weapon critical damage to an object held or obviously worn by the target.

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

David N. Ross’ new weapons are a thoroughly well-crafted arsenal that left me with only ridiculous nitpickery; the weaponry within is cool, the values check out, and the properties add some neat customization options to the arsenal of GMs and players alike. An easy 5 star-rating for this pdf.

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

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!

With an original debut in PFRPG’s Paranormal Adventures, levialogi were high-CR threats, tailor-made to withstand the punishment that high-level PCs can dish out, designed to NOT be a wet paper-towel under stress…suffice to say, I absolutely loved them to bits, and now, they have come to Starfinder!

In a great bit of encrypted (and already decoded) introductory prose, we are introduced to the threat of the levialogi, with [redacted] components enhancing the atmosphere generated from the get-go. Originally, levialogi were inspired by the Leviathan as depicted in the Supernatural TV-series, and as such, their original shape is pretty much liquid. Encountering flesh, it can rewrite the creature’s genetic code, creating indistinguishable copies of the originals, stalking among mortals. Careful and calculating, they are intelligent and combine themes of doppelgangers, body horror and cthulhoid horror. And I mean horror. They are genuinely frightening.

Their bites ignore all DR, and when they devour at least a light bulk’s worth of flesh, they can assume that flesh’s owner’s appearance. With a ton of immunities and resistances, they thus retain a crucial function they had in PF, perhaps doing that aspect even better: Know this anticlimactic scene, when player cheers turn muted as they realize that their strategy/insane luck has just one-shotted/crited to smithereens this cool adversary? When being really good isn’t as fun anymore? Enter these fellows. Unbeknown to the PCs, the mastermind was a levialogos, and bam, suddenly, the combat turns into a whole new thing! Beyond immunities, they also have regeneration and DR, both of which are notoriously hard to deal with – and full functionality is provided, in that the levialogi get a full subtype graft write-up that codifies traits and how they can emulate class-based abilities, all perfectly in line with the Alien Archive’s graft-system.

The pdf also contains three sample statblocks – the CR 1 Cessilogos that still has to consume an appearance, and the mighty CR 20 Erythologos (with soldier tricks), as well as the CR 25 Leucologos, who seems to have feasted on an operative. Their stats are within the parameters of what you’d expect from really difficult targets – as a minor nitpick, the Leucologos’ EAC and KAC are not properly bolded. A minor nitpick that won’t influence the verdict: It would have behooved the pdf to mention that devour appearance’s class graft granting does not provide the benefits of the class graft’s adjustments, if any. While this can be deduced from studying the Alien Archive, it may be a minor stumbling stone for less experienced GMs.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Star Log.EM’s two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ levailogi have been translated exceedingly well to Starfinder. Indeed, I do believe they may fit Starfinder better than Pathfinder; the statblocks are solid (though some signature tricks would have been nice – but then again, their subtype already provides a ton of them…), but the subtype graft is where the gold lies. The levialogi graft just plain rocks, and I’m sure to use it in the future! It makes creating them swift and painless, and allows crafty GMs to create a failsafe to make sure that, even if in the future power-creep changes the power-balance of SFRPG, the old materials can still be sued…just add in a levialogi subplot and add some serious staying power to the big bad guys and gals and other things… A nice toolkit indeed, this gets my recommendation at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This supplement clocks in at 31 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 21 pages of content, though, as always for Legendary Games, these are cock-full with content – many other publishers wouldn’t have crammed this much text on a given page.

Okay, so, in a way, this pdf represents partially a player’s option booklet, partially a GM’s toolkit that also is somewhat relevant for players…but in order to explain that, we should take one step at a time.

Upon opening the pdf, we are greeted with something I did not expect, but very much enjoyed: The book presents us with a variety of ecologies for the respective elementals for the 4 core elements. This may sound like a small thing, but to me, text like this helps getting the creative juices going, and indeed, few beings require this little help as much as elementals do…but I’ll get back to what I mean by that later.

For now, let us take a look at the two new archetypes, which both aim to fill a hole in the rules regarding elemental-themed support. The first of these would be the elemental channeler druid archetype, who receives Knowledge (planes) as a class skill and chooses an elemental focus among the 4 core elements. For the focus, the channeler gets a +1 bonus to CL when casting spells with the corresponding descriptor. This also determines the opposing element. The archetype has diminished spellcasting, but gains access to a kineticist’s simple blast associated with the chosen element, with 6th level increasing the range of the blast to 120 ft. – and another ability nets basic aerokinesis for air, geokinesis for earth – you get the idea. The elemental channeler treats the latter as at-will SPs. Nature bond, nature sense and wild empathy are lost for these abilities, though. At 3rd level, the elemental channeler can learn a 1st level utility wild talent associated with the chosen elemental focus, which becomes an at-will SP or SU, depending on the utility wild talent in question. Every 3 levels beyond that yield an additional such utility wild talent, which must be of a level equal to half the elemental channeler’s class level or lower. Instead of being governed by Constitution, they use Wisdom as governing key ability modifier, and instead of accepting burn, they are powered by expending a spell slot of a spell level equal to the wild talent’s level.

The archetype can also choose to learn the element’s defense wild talent, though here, the spell slot expenditure required is equal to the amount of burn accepted. Instead of woodland stride and trackless step, we get different abilities depending on the chosen element. Instead of resist nature’s lure, we have a bonus to spells and effects originating from elemental creatures with the druid’s subtype. A purely cosmetic hiccup: A bit of a sentence here is bolded that shouldn’t be. This does not impede functionality, though. Wild shape is altered to allow the druid to assume elemental form, counting as +2 level for the purpose of assuming the form of the chosen element, but prohibiting her from assuming the form of the opposed elemental. Instead of a thousand faces, the archetype, finally, has an apotheosis to native outsider with the chosen element’s subtype, but sans the immunity/vulnerability, and with the explicit caveat of that not hampering raising from the dead. All in all, an interesting kineticist-y engine tweak for the druid.

The second archetype within would be the elemental witch, who is locked into Elements, light, Mountains, Storms, Water or Winter as patron. The elemental witch chooses a single element to focus on, and the choice is in part determined by the patron chosen, and the elemental witch does not have an opposed element. At 6th level, the witch may choose to gain another elemental supremacy in place of a hex, and she may select several, provided they are allowed by the patron chosen. Subsequent choices after the one at 1st level are treated as witch level minus 5, though. We get custom elemental supremacy effects for each of the elements, and I was surprised to see some interesting angles here – air, for example, allows you to ignore wind effects up to a certain strength, while also providing +2 to Fly, a bonus that increases over the levels. Air descriptor spells get a +1 CL, and the supremacy includes an at-will SP, with 5th, 10th and 20th level providing upgrades in the face of additional SPs and better defensive tricks. This paradigm applies to all of these supremacies, though in different ways. Beyond supremacies aligned with the 4 core elements, we also have a supremacy for cold and storms.

At 4th level or whenever she gains a new hex, the witch may choose Improved Familiar instead, gaining an elemental patron associated with the respective patron. 6th level nets elemental shape, basically a wild shape variant for elemental shapes only. Minor complaint: One reference to elemental body I is not italicized properly. The ability upgrades at 8th, 10th and 12th level, with durations and uses per day increasing per level. The ability replaces the 6th and 12th level abilities. The archetype also may choose from among 8 unique major hexes, which include Augment Summoning elemental summoning, and the option to grant some supremacy benefits to other summoned creatures. We also have a cyclone, a crashing wave that can push targets away, etc. – these are interesting, and, you guessed it, contingent on the patrons chosen. All in all, a nice archetype!

The pdf also contains 5 feats…for elementals! Smothering Grapple is a feat for air and water elementals, and allows an elemental to suffocate grappled targets. Manifest Armaments is an overdue trick for elementals, allowing them to manifest armor and weaponry, with unique benefits depending on the elemental subtype – air elementals have weaker armor, but get scaling miss chances, for example, while earthen armor is better, but bulky, and thus subject to an increased armor check penalty. Improved Manifest Armaments increases the range of the base feat, now allowing for the creation of medium armors and two-handed weaponry, or light and one-handed weapon at once. Cool! Manifest Earthen Bulwark increases DR granted by the armors, and unlocks heavy armor equivalents. (As an aside: The feat is called “Earthen” because it’s earth-exclusive.)

Shape Summons is a key-feat here – it’s not for elementals, but for their summoners, allowing the summoner to apply elemental templates to called elementals. This brings me to the lion’s share of the book’s content, namely what I always wanted – rules-relevant tweaks to diversify elementals, here, in the guise of a plethora of templates that may be applied to elementals. Before you ask, yes, interactions with planar ally et al. are covered, and each of the templates comes with a sample creature, many of which come with actual full-color artworks! One of these fellows you can see on the cover – it’s an air elemental with the CR +1 avian template applied, the “Roc of the Gales.” We also get templates for cephalopod elementals, exemplified in application…by the sky squid! The pdf does contain rules for the CR +2 draconic elemental template (yep, they’re indeed harder than regular elementals…) and, as you could probably deduce from aforementioned Armament feats, there is the humanoid elemental template, which, also at +1, would be a great place to note that the respective sample creatures are NOT just lazy applications of the base template. Instead, e.g. the sample humanoid elemental does make use of the new feats…and has class levels. (As a cosmetic note: The armor class-header is not bolded in the template.) Predatory elementals take the form of hunting animals and beasts, while piscine elementals – bingo, resemble fish…and yes, you *can* make a piscine fire elemental! Finally, there would also be serpentine elementals – the last three all clock in at CR +1, btw.

However, beyond these roughly creature-shape-themed elemental templates, there is more to be found within: Consuming elementals, at CR +1, can consume the elemental energy, and a kinetic blast-based breath weapon. Speaking of which: The kinetic elemental gets kineticist tricks that improve based on HD. A pleasant surprise for me was the presence of the CR +1 radioactive elemental template, which draws upon the Technology Guide’s radiation rules, with HD governing radiation strength. The sample critter here is particularly neat: We get a consuming radioactive kinetic humanoid earth elemental with invulnerable rager levels! CR 17. You *know* you want to send this fellow to kick your PC’s behinds! On the more down to earth side, the unbound elemental template at CR +0 represents a more mutable elemental.

Beyond all of these, the pdf also contains two eldritch elementals as a bonus of sorts: The Flamboyant Flame, a CR 13 humanoid fire elemental swashbuckler that masquerades as a graceful efreeti – and yes, we have notes to call this fellow via planar ally. And then there would be the endboss. If your players ever laughed about the notion of a campaign ending in a battle versus an elemental that is not a prince or, well Tharizdunian in theme, here you go: Infernatrox, the Draconic Conflagration, is an advanced draconic mythic fire elemental that clocks in at a cute CR 25/MR 10. AC 47, an ability called “Immortal Flame” that not only has him detonate upon death, but makes it possible for allies to quickly and fully revive the fellow, an ability called “Everything Burns” that bypasses all resistance and immunities of nonmythic targets and also compromises that of mythic beings…and I’m just getting started. An interesting thing about this brutal beast, though, is that it is designed to reward planning and clever PCs. Several abilities have specific means to offset them – yep, mythic characters *can*, with a clever trick, benefit from resistances and immunities versus his flames. In a way, this is a great build that is both mechanically interesting and a small puzzle of sorts. Really enjoyed this fellow!

Conclusion:
Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting sports a few more glitches than what I’m accustomed to see from Legendary Games, but none of them are impediments to grasping the concepts within. Layout adheres to the blue-tinted two-column full-color standard of the reign of Winter-plugins, and the pdf sports quite a few nice full-color artworks. While I had known a few before, I also found several new ones within. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Deborah Kammerzell, Chris van Horn and Jason Nelson have crafted a pdf I frankly did not expect to like. At all. When I read “elemental” on most books, I get this immediate yawn-reflex. I have seen elemental options done so often, and often so well, that I am hard to excite. However, the simple form-templates for elementals in this book really serve a niche: they provide a quick and painless, fun toolkit for the GM to finally make elementals top being so damn boring. If you have ever bemoaned that e.g. no birds of lightning, no fish of fire graced your table, here you have an array of templates that elevates elementals from boring hunks of elemental matter to actually interesting adversaries that get players talking: That eel of lightning sure was creepy, right? Anyhow, if there is a minor weakness here, then that would be that I would have loved to see a few more outré templates for the elementals. Predatory, for example, is a pretty simple one, and not all of them are equally exciting. However, that is me complaining at a high level. The pdf does have its genius moments, and some of the sample elementals indeed go above and beyond.

All in all, this represents a pleasant surprise, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a super-handy toolkit for GMs, and particularly if you’re too lazy to make all these small templates yourself, a real time-saver. (Plus: Sample critters rock!)

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

The final installment of the impressive Languard Locations-series, which further elaborates upon the unique locales to be found in the city of Languard clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It is time, my fellow travelers, to once more walk the streets of Languard, of this beautiful and horrible pearl of the Duchy of Ashlar – and this time around, we won’t go to a particular neighborhood. Instead, we will light our torches and delve below the dirty, cobblestone streets and explore what lies beneath the surface of this city.

In case you were wondering – we do get the full-page map of Languard, beautifully hand-crafted by Tommi Salama, and on it, the respective places are noted. While I very much would have welcomed a map of the main tunnel systems, this map does do its job and contextualizes the respective locales featured within.

A total of 9 new locations are provided in this pdf, and, as before, the respective write-ups all feature their own adventure hooks. They sport the sensible letter and number combination that allows you to easily assign them to a neighborhood. “S7”? Obviously a location in the shambles. It’s a small thing, but one I enjoy. Key NPCs note race and class, as well as alignment, but otherwise remain focused on flavor-text. There are no stats provided, but you probably won’t expect them at this point.

6 of the locations are roughly in the vicinity of the High City, and there is a reason for that, as the introductory paragraphs duly note: North of the Svart, an abundance of natural caverns made for an easy choice to expand into a proper, full-blown sewer system…but the same did not hold true for the poor South of the city: Low City, shambles, fishshambles, wrecks – these places will feel just as grimy as you probably envision them to be, as noted in their respective reviews. In the context of a fantasy world more so than within the context of a mundane one, there is obvious danger looming within the darkness of sewers – and indeed, Languard does have a force that takes care of that…the Dark Wardens. Languardians living in the High City call the tax that pays for these men and women the S@+$ Tax – for obvious reasons.

In the dark recesses beneath the earth, you can find the “House of the Clouded Mind” – more commonly known by its informal moniker – The “Screaming Halls.” These darkened and damp corridors house Languard’s insane, and while the house above ground may be pleasant enough, the same can’t be said for the regions below that act as a dumping ground for undesirables. Less grim and heart-wrenching would be the dwarven shrine, set into Languard’s cliffs, where the stout folk may worship in peace and in cavernous settings.

In a cavern, right in the midst of a pool, there is a shard of clearly unnatural rock – the low shard. In the dim twilight, a toll must be paid to enter, but in the strange presence of the rock formation, couples tryst and both dalliances and alliances are commemorated. A cavern beneath a lamp-lit tent conceals the entrance to the black market of Languard, where freak show entertainers, exotic goods and weaponry and more may be purchased…if you can pay the price and know where to look, that is.

And then there would be the tunnel of shades, and amazing adventure location. A prior ruler of Languard once had the idea to give the unemployed something to do, and attempted to tunnel under the Svart, connecting the two halves of the city. Well, turns out that this did not go well. Partially flooded, courtesy of incompetence, and haunted by the spirits of the dead, this tunnel may exist, but it is a dangerous proposal to navigate it by skiff.

Right beneath the eminent Father, there are the Languard catacombs, divided by class just as the city above is. In the Shambles, south of the Svart, there is Saren the rag-lady – a potent information-broker rumored to be undead…and a glance at her sloughing skin and blisters may well lead the PCs to conclude that the rumors are true. Prices for information on specific targets are provided. If you’ve read the supplement on the Shambles, it should come as no surprise that the chaos of the place does extend to the area below the surface. And indeed, the maze of wooden passageways and linked cellars makes for a labyrinthine environment, while also housing the headquarters of the Shadow Masks. Finally, beneath the notoriously unstable and wretched Wrecks, there lies the place known as Smuggler’s Crux, a maze of half-sunken canals, crawl-holes and soughs of connected barrels – unreliable, notoriously dangerous, and twisted, air pockets can be found in side vents and wells, subterranean rangers and rogues lair here…and there even is a tiny subterranean sanctum for the truly desperate. I adore this one!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. As this basically contains next to no rules, there isn’t much to do wrong here. Layout adheres to the series’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a plethora of really nice b/w-artworks. As noted before, Tommi Salama’s cartography of Languard is excellent, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf also comes in two iterations, one intended for screen-use, and one intended to be printed out.

Creighton Broadhurst, Steve Hood and Richard Pett provide a triumphant farewell to Languard and its locations. The series has managed to seed the already impressive city with truly remarkable, down to earth, grimy and gritty locales that get the creative juices flowing, and this supplement is no exception. A worthy final offering, this pdf gets 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

This installment of the Monster Menagerie series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so first of all, the pdf acknowledges the folks that contributed in a FB-chat that gestated into this book – kudos for giving credit where credit is due! The introductory page provides a bit of optional setting-contextualization for the bulettes herein…and then we begin with what may be the most pun-tastic monster book for Pathfinder.

How pun-tastic is this? Well in case you missed that the title obviously is a reference to Rogue Genius Games’ Bullet Point-series, each monster herein represents some sort of pun regarding bullet/bulette. Every. Last. One.

Yeah, who am I kidding? I love puns. Particularly bad ones. The real groaners. So let’s see what we got, shall we? We begin with a pretty harmless one – the CR 7 armor-piercing bulette, a bulette like one from a final fantasy game, with a massive adamantine blade embedded in its head. This obviously also is represented in the specialized leap and charge assaults these fellows have. Nice and delightfully odd critter, though I would have loved to see a unique Achilles’ heel here – after all, the blade impedes line of sight of these beings, at least judging from the artwork.

The CR 8 frangible bulette has strange pustule-like pods on its body, and has some serious resistances and defensive tricks. Negating such damage, or being struck by physical damage, charges these bulettes, to be more precise, said pods/pustules, which the bulette may discharge in a nasty 60-feet blast, as the immature bulettes gestating in these pods are fired in a living shrapnel blast. While the young of this mutation are usually killed by the impact, not all of the survivors grow to become full bulettes. Some of them stay Tiny CR 1 bulettes…that are called…yep. BeeBee. With rolling leaps and the ability to curl up, they are a nice example of a low-CR critter that makes sense.

Leave it to magic-users to devise solutions to problems that make things worse: The Blank Bulette is a CR 7 incorporeal version of a bulette, shunted to the ethereal to make it cause less havoc. Well, the entities have developed a life drain aura, trigger conical force energy blasts on critical hits, and the avoid detection of undead or living, being invisible to lifesense and the like, as well as not registering for locate creature. Yeah…definite “improvement” of the bulette problem…

At CR 8, the cross-cut bulette has the good subtype, and gets smite evil. Basically good bulettes. Hmm..okay. Not particularly interesting. Why don’t they get a “named bullet/bulette”-type of ability that allows them to engrave an evil-doers’ name upon themselves? Some interesting tweak to the smite evil angle? Anyhow, at the same CR, the Dum Dum is more interesting: It can crush targets and may, as a swift action, expand itself to twice the size and 8 times the weight. Yeah, this one’s pretty cool – can see this being a fearsome foe! Also at CR 8, the incendiary bulette radiates heat for +1d6 fire damage, and the charges of this bulette also result in a 30-ft.-radius fire blast, with a cooldown. Also at CR 8, the multiple-impact bulette can divide itself up into two Large or 4 Medium versions with magical fission, which do have identical statistics…and yes, we do get the modified stats for them, and hit points are evenly divided. Awareness is shared, making these fellows pretty lethal one-monster-pack-predators, which is also reflected by the feats chosen – nice one and mechanically, one of my favorites within.

The Percussion Cap also clocks in at CR 8 and gets a leap into combat that allows it to slam its head against targets of the ground, detonating embedded thunderstones for a blast of shrapnel that is in equal parts stone shards and pure sonic damage. And yep, it looks like a being that attacks you by literally smashing its detonating face into you.

Clocking in at CR 10, the full metal jacket (XD) gets a boost to overrun and bull rush targets, and they come with rules to remove the plates fitted into these war-beasts. How do you call an undead bulette? …Hollow Point! Yeah, this got a long chuckle out of me, and at CR 9, the undead bulette has a detonation upon destruction, gets an Acrobatics-based pounce-bite, and swallowed foes are energy drained. They also rejuvenate unless their remains are specifically treated and consecrated.

The final bulette within would be the CR 7 tracer, basically a tracking specialist that leaves a trail of faerie fire-like glow, and gets a trigger scent, falling into a frenzy upon reaching a target whose scent it tracked. Cool concept, and one of the critters within that I’ll definitely use.

The final page provides two feats: Number One With A Bulette nets an adjacent bulette you trained a +2 bonus to Wisdom, and allows you to…bingo, train bulettes. The more ranks in Handle Animal you have, the faster you can teach them tricks. High Caliber Summoning allows you to call the monsters within this book via the use of summon nature’s ally/monster, with a handy table organizing them by CR.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules languages level. While I noticed a couple of minor hiccups here and there in the statblocks, as a whole, the pdf is pretty solid. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, mirroring a grimoire, and the pdf comes with pretty neat full-color artworks for all of the bulette-variants – all of which are original pieces! Kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes with a second version that has a smaller size, and thus is more mobile device friendly.

Jeff Lee’s menagerie of bulettes is a cool and pun-tastic little bestiary. There is plenty of flavor and background story to contextualize the critters, which is a good thing, as it helps render them more organic and inspires the GM. While this book is not flawless, and while not all variants within are genius, there are plenty of outré and interesting bulettes within, quite a few of which I considered to be genuinely interesting. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up, since the book is closer to being good than to being a mixed bag.

Endzeitgeist out.


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3/5

This adventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreon supporters, to be undertaken at my convenience.

So, as always for the Advanced Adventures-series, this module is intended for OSRIC-rules, but adaption to another OSR rule-set is very much possible. Nominally intended for 5 – 8 characters level 9 – 12, the adventure is very modular and represents more of a sandboxy backdrop than a unified narrative, and it should be noted that, difficulty-level wise, the adventure ranks in the upper echelon. There are a few encounters herein that are very dangerous and that will potentially destroy careless or unlucky players. These are not always telegraphed that well in advance, so an old-school mindset that can deal with character-death is very much recommended. On the definite plus-side, it should be mentioned that the more intelligent adversaries do get tactics that set them apart and help the GM render them appropriately dangerous, making them stand out a bit more than they’d otherwise would.

As far as supplemental materials are concerned, we get 4 new monsters – a pretty deadly toadstool critter, cavern crows that can be driven into a frenzy by the scent of blood, the lightning devil, and a unique devil are provided, all with appropriate stats. As far as adversaries are concerned, some beloved classics can be encountered, and a few of them are surprising – but I’ll get into that below.

The pdf does contain two new magic user spells: At 3rd level, we have Hestler’s Verbal Disruptor, which generates a white noise style acoustic-dead zone, is an interesting one. Black Embrace, a 7th level spell, booby-traps a corpse, which will embrace the living, draining their life-force. Cool visuals there.4 magic items are included as well, with experience and GP values noted properly. One of them, a flask that can be used to poison targets or be harmless, is nice, though here, a deviation from OSRIC’s default assumption of save-or-die for poisons would have imho made sense from a design perspective. A cooldown or countdown of sorts would have certainly made falling prey to that item less frustrating. One of the items is cursed, and honestly, it may actually be fairer than this one. A bloodsucking dagger (with rather nice mechanics) and a rod are also part of the deal here.

Now, before we go into SPOILER-territory, let’s briefly talk about how this is set apart from most modules: Shattered Mountain is vast, and as such, it contains miles upon miles of tunnels that lead from a) to b) – in a way, it is reminiscent of a wilderness crawls inside a mountain, limited by the claustrophobic tunnels. This structure allows and encourages insertion of your own adventure modules and scenarios and characterizes this firmly as more of a backdrop than a primary narrative. This is also further emphasized by the random encounters table, which is pretty hefty and feels down to earth enough.

In fact, the lion’s share of the adventure is taken up by a variety of not necessarily connected encounters, each of which comes with its own functional little map. These are NOT aligned in a linear manner, which, once more, represents a big plus as far as I’m concerned. On a downside, the respective areas (10 of which are provided) are designated with letters: “Area F”, for example. However, on the respective maps, we have starting positions of dynamic adversaries, for example, also denoted by letters. When you look are the map of “Area B” and read “A, B, C”, you can’t help but feel that this choice of labeling wasn’t too wise. Using Roman or Arabic numbers, glyphs, whatever, would have been more comfortable for the GM in these cases.

Beyond these encounters, there is a more conventional 2-level mini-dungeon included here…
But in order to discuss more of the details of this adventure, I will have to go into SPOILER-territory. From here on out, I strongly urge potential players to skip ahead to the conclusion to avoid SPOLERS.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, among the encounters, we have, among other things, a slightly loopy fungal druid (including the series’ by now traditional deviations from OSRIC’s formatting conventions), a tribe of troglodytes, aforementioned cavern crows in conjunction and cohabitation with gargoyles, trolls, earth elementals, stone giants – the aesthetics here seem to be deliberately close to what you’d expect from a classic AD&D adventure – whether you consider that to be a bug or a feature depends on your own tastes. For the most part, I have to admit to being not exactly blown away by them, as the terrain simply doesn’t matter as much as it probably should. Compared to the fantastic “Stonesky Delve”, the caverns under shattered mountain feel quite a bit more sterile. I did mention that this module can be really deadly, and perhaps unfairly so. This claim primarily stems from one of the encounters, which springs not one, but two very old red dragons on the PCs – once they pass a certain threshold, they’ll be blasted by not one, but two breath weapons. No, the dragons are not hostile to another; they work together.

While it is “realistic” in a way that going down the wrong tunnel may get you killed, I did not consider this one to be particularly fair or enjoyable. There is no foreshadowing here, and I’d strongly advise GMs to seed some warning signs for the players. Otherwise, this is pretty much one of the bad “Lol, you die”-type of old-school encounters that doesn’t earn its lethality.

More fair, if certainly no less deadly, would be aforementioned mini-dungeon: Sheth, aforementioned unique devil, has his own little complex that spans a total of 21 keyed locations. This mini-dungeon is a hackfest in the purest sense, and if you’re looking for some good ole’ murder hobo-ing, this’ll do, perfectly. From the gorgon guardians to a lamia to twin rooms housing no less than 6 (!!) stone golems in total, this complex is brutal. Said lamia has btw. high-level adventurers and a trolls charmed, making the encounter function somewhat akin to handling rival adventurers. We even find nilbogs here, and as a whole, this dungeon is deadly, but cool – there is for example a really cool trap, where a collective of screaming magic mouths may render the PCs unconscious. While this can TPK a group, mundane means to offset the trap (as well as magical brute-forcing) are viable tactics, making this a cool example of a trap that has more than one step, and one that rewards player skill over PC luck. I really liked that one. Sheth and his cohorts are similarly a challenging and cool final encounter. Here is a lost chance, though – the lightning devils and the pool featured in the final encounter don’t really interact, and as cool as some of the trap/hazard-related aspects of the complex are, they don’t extend to actual interaction with the creatures, which makes them feel a bit more sterile than they’d otherwise seem.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good of a formal level, though there are deviations from OSRIC’s formatting conventions. On a rules-language level, I’d consider this to be precise and well-crafted. Layout adheres to the two-column b/w-standard of the series, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf features no interior artwork beyond the editorial page, and cartography in b/w is functional and solid. However, no player-friendly, unlabeled versions have been provided.

James C. Boney can write really, really cool dungeons. The author gets the theme and tropes of classic fantasy really well, and I am particularly enjoying the tactics of his adversaries, as well as the creative and fair traps that his modules mostly seem to feature. At the same time, I couldn’t help but being somewhat unimpressed by this offering.

I love the notion of Shattered Mountain. The crawling through labyrinthine, lengthy tunnels is something I really love. Heck, I’ve written more than one book devoted to the theme of subterranean gaming. That being said, this feels, whether by design or by lack of inspiration, somewhat cookie-cutter in what the encounters offer. They are pretty segregated from one another, and theme-wise, there is no encounter within that I couldn’t have improvised on my own. On the plus-side, the mini-dungeon makes for a rather enjoyable hackfest – I can see that one work great for a fun convention game, for example. If you’re looking for a hard, but fun hackfest, the mini-dungeon included certainly delivers.

Still, this module has the somewhat unfortunate timing of having been released after “Stonesky Delve”, which not only offers a more alive, terrain-wise interesting adventure with verticality, nooks and crannies to explore, etc. – it also offers much more bang for your buck. This is by no means a bad adventure or hub/backdrop, but it also could have been much more. If “vanilla” AD&D flavor is what you’re looking for, then this delivers – if not, then you’ll be better off with “Stonesky Delve” or similar adventures. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content - +1 page bonus pregens. In contrast to earlier Holiday modules for DCC, this is btw. laid out in standard size, not in the 6’’ by 9’’ trade size of previous holiday adventures.

This review was requested by one of my patreon supporters to be undertaken at my convenience. I consciously decided to post this review before New Year’s, as its Christmas/Yule-themes are rather subdued, but I got injured pretty badly – hence the delay. This adventure is intended for 4th level characters, and works in every season equally well, at least in my book. The respective areas feature well-written read-aloud text.
It also probably works best as a one-shot, as it has something we need to discuss. While it *does* come with notes on how to use it with existing characters, one of its gimmicks results, system-immanently, with a disjoint of sorts when used in conjunction with established PCs.

“Twilight of the Solstice” has a pretty central gimmick, namely the use of scratch-off character sheets. Before you groan, let me explain: You don’t need them. The pdf-version comes with a blank sheet, and a one-page bonus-pdf that contains the stats for 10 different PCs, allowing you to simulate the use of scratch-off character sheets. Kudos for going the extra mile here.

The way in which this gimmick is integrated into the plot is rather ingenious, but in order to discuss the connections betwixt in- and out-game woven here, I must delve into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only judges around? Great! So, in the frigid north, in times ancient and primeval, the jotnar were sealed away – a horrid race of rime giants that gets its own d30 table to customize personality traits and the like. These beings, once slain by fire, become a primeval yeast monstrosity, which is an interesting component and tweak on the classic trope. As giants, they are pretty brutal – with Act 1d24 and 8d10 HD for their standard huntsmen, they are pretty brutal. Minor complaint: The editing isn’t as tight here as usual for Goodman Games, with e.g. their three-eyed winter wolf pets on page 7 not having their name bolded, and with the sample giants not having precise hit point values. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

To seal the dread rime-giants away, the world-clock was fashioned – and it’s supposed to keep them at bay until the end of time – a place that PCs that fail the adventure may well get to see. The very subdued Christmas angle is represented by “The Grandmother” – a matronly, female version of Santa Claus, if you will – and a potent magic-user/guardian that prolonged her life by studying the clock. Yet, each annual sojourn from the clock brought her closer to her own demise, until she, in her desperation and desire to not leave her wards alone, made a pact with the giants. Yeah, dumb. Yeah, I didn’t get it either. She reopened the portal to the Jotnar’s prison, and now creation’s going belly up. Faster than you can say “Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal” they turned upon the Grandmother, and so she uses the last of her magics to send for the PCs, reach out for them in cryptic visions.

Meanwhile, the jotnar have sped up the progress of the world-clock, and the ripples through creation have wiped the PC’s memories – this is the justification for the scratch-off sheets and doubles as a hard time-limit regarding the completion of the module. There are only 12 “steps” of the solstices, as the world-clock hurtles the world through aeons. Magnificent civilizations rise and falls, and the PCs will watch even mountains perish. On a rest, the Grandmother gets a chance to visit the PCs, but the clock advances; similarly, every hour real time advances the clock. There is no dawdling here, and considering the difficulty of the antagonists here, this is not an easy adventure to pass.

The Grandmother is btw. yet another angle of quasi-Norse themes, should the moniker of “Jotnar” have not been ample clue for you: There will be, later, a fire-giant named Surtr that may help the PCs, and indeed, the Grandmother’s reverse aging process over the course of the module makes her pretty much a one-woman iteration of the classic Norn-theme. You know, Skuld, Verðandi and Urðr. This also is mirrored in some subtle tweaks, like the boss’s pet wolf having 8 legs, mirroring Sleipnir, with the aloliance of giants and wolves carrying resonances with Fenrir etc. This emphasis also extends to the dwarves within, the dvergar, who hearken more to the depictions of entities like Alfrikr, more commonly known as Alberich – mighty craftsman with a vicious streak and no particular fondness for the gods, these fellows are pretty nasty as well…PCs should be careful, particularly since they have pretty much no access to their character abilities and stuff.

Every advancement of the world clock through the aeons unlocks a new aspect of their characters, which is also why I think that this works best as a one-shot. DCC’s rules are simple enough that plenty of players know their PC capabilities by heart and sans looking at the sheet – just taking this information away doesn’t mean that they can’t recall it, creating a disjunction between in- and out-game playing experience that I personally consider to be grating. This is a system-immanent issue here, but I still strongly suggest running this as a one-shot or as a breather from ongoing campaigns. (Perhaps the PCs witness the phenomenon, and you cut to this module and a whole new group…) The gimmick is really strong and well-implemented here, and it surprisingly retains its functionality in the pdf, courtesy of the pregens provided, but it loses its novelty and impact in conjunction with PCs that the players know.

Now, here is a pretty big plus: Beyond the gorgeous (as pretty much always for Goodman Games) maps, the pdf provides 2 specifically designated handouts that help with puzzles within, as well as a one-page artwork that pretty much represents an unofficial, third handout. Puzzle? Yep, but here’s the thing – knowledge of the fuþark doesn’t really help – while there *are* runic puzzles to solve here, they are based on novel runes, including meaning. Basically, the module presents two different primary paths that both lead to the finale, and both offer for pretty different playing experiences. This means that a) the judge has replay value here, and b), the play-style of your group will be accounted for. If you prefer straight dungeon-crawling, you can follow the Jotnar’s tunnels and enter the world-clock through the back door…or you can brave the rather creative and fun puzzles that prevented access for mortals for ages past. Personally, no surprise there, I preferred the puzzle-path, but if you’re in the mood for some good ole’ murder-hoboing, you can get the like herein – just note that your opposition is nothing to sneeze at in either of the paths. Even in the more action-focused path, PCs will need their wits to survive in that path as well. Personally, I do think that some of the traps could use clear telegraphing to avoid them via clever playing, but considering that we’re talking 4th level PCs, and the fact that the traps are not particularly deadly, I can live with that.

Either way, the PCs will have to save the Grandmother and stop the Rime-giant jarl and his carls to halt the aeons and prevent getting a front-line seat to an untimely heat-death of the universe. As an aside: If you’ve been looking for a way to transition your game from DCC to MCC, the time-jump angle, which, alas, is pretty underutilized apart from the scratch-off sheet gimmick, may be a pretty neat way to do so. Instead of dumping the PCs back in their own time, dump them someWHEN else… this also represents my main gripe with this module: While the cold terrain and the scratch-off sheet are well-integrated, the origin of the distortion, the time-angle, is not. The complex doesn’t change, the PCs can’t speed up – the fleeting passage of time, the whole angle, just screams for mechanically-relevant tricks for PCs and foes alike.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level, but on a formal level, I noticed quite a few minor hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w-artworks and handouts provided are absolutely gorgeous, as we’ve come to expect from Goodman Games. The same holds true for the fantastic cartography, but alas, we do not get player-friendly unlabeled versions of these fantastic maps. This represents a comfort detriment and is a bit of a bummer for VTT-fans. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for each general area, but not for individual rooms, which makes navigation slightly less comfortable than it should be.

This is the first adventure by Marc Brunner that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, and indeed, it is an impressive one. I expected the module to fall apart when bereft of its gimmick – I do not own the scratch-off character sheets, so yeah. Instead, the module actually does an admirable job at integrating a distinctly metagame aspect and codify it in an in-game context, in a way that seems feasible. So yeah, big kudos for that!

I also found myself really loving the twist on Norse concepts, the different paths to victory, and enjoying the puzzles. And yet, in spite of me loving pretty much anything even vaguely Norse in theme, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling like this somewhat overstretched itself. The Grandmother is basically window-dressing, and represents the one jarring narrative aspect within. Similarly, the tempus fugit-angle could have been developed better, made more central. In a way, the module feels like it tries to do perhaps one or two things too many at once. With the complex slightly shortened in favor of pronouncing these aspects, this could have become my all-time favorite of the holiday/end of year DCC-modules. As written, I consider it to be the second-best of those I’ve covered so far, with only the masterful Trials of the Toymakers besting it. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This supplement clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, ½ a page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 24.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Disclaimer: While I have joined Legendary Games as lead developer, I have no stake in this product. It was created prior to me joining the team, and it was provided with the intent of getting the usual fair and harsh treatment. I was not involved in the creation of this product in any shape, way or form, and I have nothing to gain from this review.

All right, that out of the way, what are faerie bargains? They are a means to bind a fey unavoidably to the bargain’s terms, and serve as a means to reward the mortal associated with the bargain. As such, they basically represent a reward mechanism that is not tied to gear. Something I generally tend to enjoy, as it helps combat the dreaded Christmas-Tree-syndrome of high-level characters decked out in ridiculous amounts of magic items. A bargain’s terms must be spoken or sung to the mortal in a language that the mortal understands, and magical manipulation of the target is expressively forbidden. The shortest type of faerie bargain lasts for a moon cycle, but most last so long as to make their duration irrelevant for the purpose of a campaign. Each such bargain has, in tradition with real world lore, an escape clause. If a fey is slain, the bargain is undone, but once it returns to life, the bargain is reinstated – considering how fey tend to reincarnate, this means that slaying targets may not be the wisest choice.

Activation of a faerie bargain’s benefits is, unless otherwise noted, a spell-like ability that provokes AoOs. Emulated spells use the character’s level as CL, while those not based on spells use ½ character level for the purpose of determining their potency. Such abilities also default to a standard action to activate. The mechanic base for access to these, should you want one, would be the Faerie Bargainer monster feat, which also represents the mechanics for spontaneous creation of bargains. The Faerie Friend feat lets you make +2 faerie bargains, as well as providing a +2 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive vs. fey. Said bonuses also apply to faerie bargain-related skill checks. The normal cap of faerie bargains per character is btw. 1 + Charisma modifier.

A faerie bargain is codified in a statblock of sorts: They have a CR value and XP rating – this is awarded for fully researching and undoing the faerie bargain. Nice: Novice GMs get a note here that gives carte blanche to prevent XP-cheesing by PCs. Bargains have a magical aura, a payment, and note the faerie creature likely to be able to grant this boon. Some bargains are tied to an object, which is called “token” – these only apply their benefits when the token is worn. And yes, the pdf does codify interaction with AoE effects, sundering et al.

Faerie bargains obviously provide benefits, and have associated skill checks that need to be met to research the existence of such bargains. The DC is stated as a complexity rating, with knowledge points (kp) and milestones provided – in short, we have nice library usage synergy. If you’re familiar with the standard research rules, you’ll know how to use these. The pdf does go beyond that and provides intricate guidelines for GMs to create their own faerie bargains, including a table that correlates temporary and permanent negative levels, conditions that are hard to remove (by e.g. a greater restoration or even only by a wish and analogue power!) with gp values, making sure that WBL guidelines can be properly maintained. Similarly, CR-modifiers are explained and collected, and using faerie bargains as rewards is properly accounted for as well. A handy table that lists them by CR and with their treasure equivalent makes usage of the bargains provided swift and painless, should you be not inclined to make your own, at least from the get-go.

To sum it up: We get a means of rewarding players that is somewhat akin to Mór Games’ emergences, save that its mechanical guidelines are more tightly codified, putting more emphasis on reward structures beyond the roleplaying-relevant context. The faerie bargains, no surprise here, also are themed around fey and mythology.

The lion’s share of the pdf is devoted to a TON of faerie bargains, so even if the DIY-bargain-crafting guidelines do not appeal to you, you’ll get more than enough such bargains to run whole campaigns (yes, plural intended!) featuring them. The intriguing component about them, though, is that they genuinely matter. Faerie bargains are not simply numerical boosts. Getting vermin scent from a mite, grig, gruen etc. will allow you to influence vermin with Handle Animal, for example. It’s also a good example to note the benefits of doing your research prior to jumping into a bargain: In the case of this example, we have a -4 penalty to Perception and Sense Motive versus faerie creatures (deviation from type fey is definitely intended here) and saves versus vermin abilities…and suddenly, we do have a good reason to think twice. The bargain also exemplifies why a PC may want to take this – being able to Handle Animal vermin can be a huge boon for roleplaying, perhaps even a plot point…but it is not a boost that every PC will necessary want to undergo.

And this is EXACTLY how faerie bargains should work. Sure, you can get illusion tutelage from e.g. a nixie – a strand of the fey’s hair, and bam, you can use veil or invisibility thrice before the bargain ends, but become more susceptible to the fey…oh, and talking about *how* you got the ability ends the bargain! That is a classic trope and considering the curiosity of players, using this one as the aftermath of a 1-on-1 session can make for super interesting interactions. Want to learn some basic magics? Well, you can – you just have to pay with an emotional memory. Since memory and identity are inextricably entwined, this can make for very intriguing roleplaying scenarios as well. With the right bargain, you can deal yourself damage and anoint a rare wood with your blood, creating a lesser simulacrum…but this double may be controlled by the fey. Wanna get out of this bargain? For the low price of handing the fey a child of your species to adopt, you can…

See what I meant regarding the fact that these resonate with real life mythology? For a bit of madness, you can have the blood rage universal monster ability; you can have a frozen heart…and there are some that are downright genius. Rhymer’s truth would be one of these: This bargain strips you of the ability to lie. If you utter a factual statement that *may* be true, you have a pretty high chance that you can’t finish the sentence. This is frickin’ intrigue gold. If you pay with your shadow, you can make your kingdom (yep, kingdom-building synergy included!) help recover hit points from resting and magical healing! It also improves the benefits of holiday edicts and settlement stats are improved…but the faerie does get a pretty potent ability…namely to assume your form! Once more, the potential is amazing. And yes, there are multiple such bargains included.

With the curse of spilled blood, being reduced below 13 hit points (of course – love this!) targeting attackers with ill omen. Now, I wouldn’t be me sans things to complain about – in hallows of rulership, there is a “See page XXX” reference left. …Yeah, I don’t have much to complain about these bargains. Amazing: Fey Queen’s Ransom will take 20 hexes, with at least 200 BP from your kingdom, replacing it with featureless wasteland…but you do gain your mythic tier and may even pay more to grant this power to allies. This is the stuff tales of villains…or of desperate gambits, are made of.

The pdf does contain more than these bargains – we also get 6 magic items associated with these bargains: A magical cauldron, a green girdle of invincibility that allows you to become the green knight of myth…and yes, the items often are associated with themes of seasonal courts. Did I mention the stone throw of destiny? Yeah, the items feel potent and distinctly fey. The rules provided are precise and tight.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the Kingmaker-plugins, and the pdf features a blend of previously used and new full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

David N. Ross is an author who manages something few designers achieve: He exhibits an impressive mastery and precision regarding the quality of his crunch, and supplements this with thoroughly novel and cool themes. In a more modern parlance: He’s got both A-game math and crunch design skills, and knows how to clad them in roleplaying-relevant components. This is not just a dry collection of numerical boons, it is a true ROLEplaying supplement, one suffused with the themes and tropes of real world mythology, contextualized through the lens of Pathfinder. Moreover, the bargains are pretty much tailor-made to represent things in Kingmaker and allow for unique responses and narrative tricks. Both PCs and GMs are certain to adore these. In case you haven’t noticed: I absolutely ADORE this supplement. It is precise, potent and genuinely intriguing. It is one of those underappreciated gems that folks overlook since it doesn’t explicitly state “here there be magic items” – and honestly, if you have so far skipped this one, get it. It is an inspired little gem of a book.

My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This module clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ½ a page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38.5 pages of content, though it should be noted that the content is laid out in booklet format (6’’ by 9’’/A5), and this means that you can theoretically fit multiple pages on a given sheet of paper.

This review is part of a request of one of my patreon supporters, who requested it to be undertaken at my convenience.

Okay, first things first: In spite of the cover being as cutesy as DCC is probably going to get, this is not necessarily for kids – it is definitely intended for adults. Don’t get me wrong: I’d have loved this as a kid, but then again, I taught myself English to be able to read Conan, Poe, etc. >I always had a macabre streak and considered to be the cover of Bat out of Hell’s vinyl one of the coolest ever. While not grimdark, this module *can* be rather creepy. Discretion is advised. If your kids are how I was…well, then they may love this.

All right, as always, a well-rounded group of 6-8 characters (level 2, here) will have an easier time. I strongly recommend having multiple characters capable of spell dueling when playing this; if you want a happy end, Mighty Deeds do help. Read aloud text is provided, and the module is NOT easy. Characters may die. It also firmly emphasizes player-skill and can have rather high-impact consequences upon failure.

The module is set in Vajorma, the frigid north where the border between planes is thin…wait…sounds familiar? Well, yeah, this does have a couple of ties to Steve Bean Games’ “World-Quest of the Winter Calendar” (Review will hit sites before New Year’s Eve, as that module feels more like an end-of-year module to me.). You can ignore these easter eggs, and having played said module is not required to enjoy this.

All right, as always, the following contains SPOILERS for the module. Potential players will want to skip ahead to the conclusion.

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Okay, so, in the lands of Vajorma, there is a tradition that reminded me of the nisse from Scandinavian cultures: There are gnomes called Konhengen in the semi-arctic steppe, and said gnomes reward particularly virtuous kids with presents. Now, 3 kids have gone missing, and indeed, no presents have been delivered this year. What looked like innocent gifts and a simple rescue mission, though, quickly become immensely important.

There is actually a strict timeline in the module, and indeed, the PCs arriving at the lake that houses the mountain wherein the Konhengen dwell just heralds the shape of things to come. There are a couple of basic things to note: For one, the PCs will be attacked by scything topiaries – think of those as nasty plant-looking constructs. The exploration of the Aerie of the Konhengen is surprisingly vertical – 5 levels, and these make sense in many ways: For one, the halls may feel claustrophobic for Medium-sized characters, but for the gnomes, they sure as hell are grand – this gives the whole dungeon a Gulliver-ish vibe and established a sense of alienation. The fact that the gnomes use slugs and moles as animals also adds to that…and yes, chances are that the PCs will have to face a rather agitated slug at one point. As a whole, this place makes sense in its fantastic nature.

It should come as no surprise that something bad has befallen the kind gnomes: As the PCs explore this place, they will be haunted and hunted by so-called Desperate Phantoplasms – basically the spirits of the slain Konhengen, risen to guard this place against ALL intruders – including the PCs. Their semi-corporeal form means that a lapse in vigilance can justify surprise assaults, and in comparison for the level…these spirits are pretty pitiful. There is a reason for that. You see, they can’t be truly slain. Defeating one of these ultimately just initiates a cooldown respawn, which means that being able to swiftly dispatch them is crucial. They allow a judge to wage a war of attrition, to constantly keep the threat levels up – without overpowering the PCs. This generates a seriously impressive tension throughout the adventure, and it provides a great way to shake up proceedings if the PCs are stuck. Speaking of which: The pdf provides a commendable amount of guidance pertaining the handling the tougher sections of the adventure…and I have not yet touched upon the truth of what has befallen this place.

Sure, the PCs can find a unique and potent alchemical substance and use it to their own advantage (or blow themselves up – so it goes…), and they can save the aforementioned kids. Speaking of which: I’m a big fan of the choice to allow for e.g. Mighty Deed use to save them from attacks and the like. A kind judge may also use these kids to sprinkle in some hints and the like, but there is another primary hint-giver herein…one super-creepy fellow.

You see, as the PCs explore this place, they will notice that much of the carnage to be found stemmed from the disciplined Konhengen basically imploding their social structure. Co-workers tore each other apart, etc. This is due to the machinations of one of the dread Nine Afflictions, horrid demon-like demigods of evil and chaos, one Yedreksas – an incarnation of envy.

They have inadvertently stumbled upon a task of cosmic significance, as at the very latest, the unfortunately blind, but sentient and kind mill (!!!) (think of the handheld devices that you use to grind coffee!) can explain…at least partially. And beyond that, one particular former Konhengen is now a vile and dark being, trying to goad the PCs in engaging in as many deals as possible. We thus have plenty of options to provide hints. The PCs will need them.

You see, the presents crafted by the Konhengen? They are actually over-designed components, proto-types of sorts, granted to pure kids, as their virtue shields these from the forces of darkness. Literally, this time around. Kivas Kota, the fiery eagle that is the sun, annually is caught by the forces of death, and it’s only the work of the Konhengen that allows the sun-bird to rise again and stave off eternal darkness. The presents the Konhengen create are prototypes for basically what amounts to a celestial rube-goldberg machine of constellations that is annually recreated for this specific task! (!!!) If the PCs don’t make their own version, well then the sun will never rise again. Stakes high enough for you?

Here is the best thing about this module, though: How it presents this whole issue. You see, the PCs are not spoonfed any of this, but instead have a TON of different options to realize how this works and what’s at stake. This is basically a mystery investigation, and one that is supported in a phenomenal manner: There are no less than 7 (!!!!!) handouts for players: From blood-drenched parchments containing hints about the importance of the task to basically rune-based paint-by-numbers puzzles, this pdf pulls out all stops in the most amazing of ways. Even better yet, judges are not left hanging either – annotated explanations of texts to be interpreted, solution-sheets and more all conspire to make this a mega-impressive adventure in the aesthetics department. Better yet: The adventure, while focused on a puzzle, actually doesn’t put it front and center. Instead, the true challenge is to find out what is happening, and there are myriad ways to solve this. Moreover, the puzzle does not have just one solution – being a wide-open logic puzzle, it embraces PC creativity in a manner that I have not seen before.

Compared to that, the epic milling of a new set of temporary constellations while holding off a demigod in spell duel (the only truly viable means to do so) almost feel anticlimactic by comparison. Almost. Did I mention the wood-spider things?

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues on a rules-language or formal level. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports some really cool b/w-artworks. The cartography is b/w, plentiful, ad just as amazing as we’ve come to expect from Goodman Games.- Alas, no player-friendly versions are provided. The pdf version is fully bookmarked, and I unfortunately do not own the print version, so I can’t comment on its merits or lack thereof. The truly plentiful player-handouts and visual judge-reference sheets (which include a timetable) are utterly amazing.

Steve Bean’s “Trials of the Toy Makers” is a masterpiece, pure and simple. It is one of the best Christmas-themed adventures I have ever seen. It thoroughly rewards player skill over character skill, has an atmosphere that is absolutely fantastic, and presents one of the most intriguing conundrums and epic solutions for an adventure I have ever seen. Even in DCC’s context, where significant cosmic events can also be encountered at lower levels, this stands out. It brims with creativity and passion and feels like an honest labor of love. It is ambitious in more than one aspect, and manages to fully and properly realize all of these components. In short: This is one of the best Christmas modules out there. It engages more cerebral players and those that like combat; it’s environmental storytelling is excellent, and it is polished to an impressive degree. Even among Goodman games’ holiday-themed adventures, this stands out. 5 stars + seal of approval, and frankly, if I had known about this adventure in 2014 when it was first released, it’d have made my top ten list for that year. Yes. That good. This is the kind of gem that makes reviewing worthwhile.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

First of all: In case you didn’t know: This pdf is an expansion for the vessel class that was originally presented in Paranormal Adventures, itself a love letter to the Supernatural Franchise and Occult Adventures’ design-paradigms. The class could be best summed up as: “Do you want to play Castiel, but retain control of your faculties?”-the class. Alternatively, if you had no idea what that sentence meant, one could consider the vessel to be basically a medium-style character in theme. No, it has nothing in common with Paizo’s medium class – the vessel has a specific bond with a powerful outsider and may be ridden in a way. Think more of a permanent Loa, a fusion with a devil, etc. From Spawn to similar classics, the vessel has a lot of potential and radically different ways to express the unique class.

Passengers, unsurprisingly, are an important and pretty much essential component for the class, which, in impact, could be likened in severity of impact, to a bloodline or an order, perhaps even beyond that. I assume general familiarity with the vessel class in the following review. But before we take a look at the new passengers herein, we should acknowledge the new feat that is included on the introductory page: Life to Grace.

Grace, the vessel’s point-based resource, can be gained here via a unique mechanic – upon gaining the feat, the GM rolls maximum age in secret, and when you’d need to spend grace, you can reduce your maximum starting age by a number of years equal to the race’s trained starting age modifier to reduce the total grace costs by 1, to a minimum of 0. Basically, you sacrifice years of your lifespan to fuel your abilities. This is a stroke of genius – races have wildly diverging lifespans, and tying this mechanic to trained starting age accounts for that. Now, sure, mathematically, there will be differences, but if you have millennia ahead, wouldn’t you be extra careful with this one? This aging process also can explicitly only be reversed by divine intervention, and before you ask: Immortal or non-living creatures are explicitly prohibited from taking this one. I love this and the only super-specific nitpick I could field here, would be that samsarans should be prevented from taking the feat…but that is an aesthetic choice. One could argue that rebirth is a death, after all, and depending on how nonchalant or serious you take the concept, this may never be a true issue.

All in all, I adore this feat to bits, and its mechanics can easily be used to create derivative feats or class features that literally burn away lifespan to power other resources. One of the coolest feats I’ve seen in a while!

There are three vessel passengers contained within the pdf: Fey spirits get DR/cold iron, are associated with magic, plant and Weather as far as domains are concerned, and the boons include selective SR that scales, woodland stride and enhanced speed. The passenger also provides scaling options to call fey, akin to a summoners’ summon monster ability. Higher levels provide the means to use grace to become invisible as per invisibility, and fey forms that improve at higher levels, culminating in fey apotheosis and constant mind blank at 18th level.

The second passenger would be the shinigami, who requires LG, LN or LE alignment, is associated with the Death, Healing and Repose domains, and the DR is /chaotic and silver. Vessels stop aging (but remain susceptible to aging effects) and gain a bonus to saves vs. death, poison, cold and disease. On the passive benefits side, we get fire resistance 5 (10 at 15th level) and scaling SR. 6th level provides grace-powered fast healing and gains cure spells and breath of life as spells known, with the former being optionally powered by grace expenditure. Frightful presence, deathsense – some cool tricks. At 15th level, natural 20-based crits can add negative levels onto targets, potentially affecting the vessel with heal for more grace. Kudos for making this proof against attempts to cheese it! The final ability adds some potent immunities as well as grace-powered casting of death-themed spells to the passenger.

The third of the passengers would be titans, with alignment restrictions based on the titan subrace in question. Similarly, associated domains are contingent of the specific titan subtype chosen. This modularity also extends to the damage types to bypass DR. As far as grace boons are concerned, we have save bonuses that scale, SR versus outsider spells and SPs and later, some immunities: Minor nitpick: The ability name hasn’t been properly italicized, which represents a purely cosmetic snafu. The passenger nets rock throwing and catching, and 9th level nets righteous might (not italicized properly in one instance) as a grace-powered SP, with DR adjusted for the titan subrace, and it later improves to also feature air walk and trample! Grace-powered heal (again, not italicized) and size-increases for grace are cool. The high level ability, among other things, “stios aging” – it’s odd how this last passenger has accumulated these typos. They don’t wreck it, but I couldn’t help but notice them.

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

David N. Ross knows what he’s doing. His pdfs range rather often among the highest echelons of my rating system, and indeed, his passengers are amazing. While I would have loved some more Death note-y abilities for the shinigami, it’s close enough to make me smile. Similarly, the titan…is relevant for fans of a franchise that features these guys in a prominent manner. The feat, imho, is a stroke of genius, and its design paradigms will influence my own home-game. While the uncommon accumulation of minor formatting glitches in the last vessel is slightly jarring, I will still round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars, and the feat’s cool angle single-handedly nets this my seal of approval. It’s not a feat for every game, but I love it to bits!

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, just to spell that out explicitly: This supplement obviously makes use of Everyman Gaming’s Microsized Adventures. This phenomenal supplement made my Top Ten list for a reason and is one of the truly beloved components in my GM-arsenal.

This supplement, then, presents three creatures that allow a GM to temporarily microsize the PCs without requiring much set-up. The pdf does warn that application of the Microsize rules can make e.g. a housecat or a budgie a lethal threat to the PCs and advises caution, but it should be noted that the monsters their CR-ranges make them ttough, but no TPK-engines.

Got that? Great! So, first we have the crystaphors at CR 10: Highly territorial, these creatures of elemental earth have crystalline disc-bodies that can fire shrinking rays. Beyond their defensive light distortion, they can attempt a truly dickish move and try to shrink PCs…without their gear! This is a heavily penalized attack, when they do manage to pull it off, the PC in question will not be amused…

The Tiny dwindling adder is a CR 7 magical beast that goes another route: They can compress in a defensive manner as though affected by reduce person, becoming Fine (and then still have compression while Fine!) – and they have a poison that shrinks targets! Effects are cumulative, the poison has a GP-value, etc. – really cool one!

For lower CRs, we have, finally, the Tiny CR 3 miniaturizing mimic, who can assume the forms of Tiny objects, obviously, but who can also emit a mesmerizing melody that affects those nearby with the shrinking curse usually transmitted by bite. As a cool bonus, we get a new bardic masterpiece for Unchained Bards – the Song of Diminishment, which is impressive in that it allows for multiple size reductions, but also manages to get the rules-interactions of maintaining them right. A cap also prevents undue cheesing. It should be noted that unchained bardic masterpieces work differently than default bardic masterpieces, though…so if you haven’t checked out the unchained bard, this may be a good reason to do so!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series, and the artwork presented is pretty damn cool. That being said, apart from the cover-artwork, there is no individual illustration of the monsters themselves. Personally, I didn’t mind – I’m a substance over style kind of guy. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris? Microsized critters are cool, allow for quick and flexible use of the amazing microsizing rules, and not one of them is boring. The magical beast feels like a magical animal, the outsider like something weird – you get the idea. This is a damn fine little critter-booklet. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This holiday adventure for DCC clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26, though these have been laid out in booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5) in size, meaning that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, should you choose to do so.

This review was part of a request by one of my patreon supporters, to be undertaken at my convenience.

Okay, while this IS a module with a strong Christmas-vibe, it also is an adventure that isn’t necessarily for kids – instead, picture this adventure as a scenario that embraces the wild and gonzo side of the Appendix N-aesthetics that inform DCC. Think “Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. meets Christmas” and you’ll have an idea of the theme to expect. The module is intended for level 3 characters, 6 of them, and they definitely should be well-rounded, particularly when it comes to combat capabilities. Having some wilderness-stuff going on should also help.

All righty, as always, I’m going to discuss the adventure in detail, so from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
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All right, only judges around? Great! So, the mighty man that would one day become known as Father Frost, was a humble woodcutter and brilliant artisan, but alas, an evil wizard named Meerakolos (lol) sought to corrupt him – and botched the job. The evil wizard and his associate engaged in an epic spell duel, which Father Frost, ultimately won. When a green-skinned elf from the North freed the ancient evil-doers from stasis, Father Frost never saw their return coming: The arcane weapon mongers have taken Father Frost and use him to power a new engine of war, the Celsion Engine.

The adventurers don’t yet know of this alliance of the 3 evil masterminds, nor that the wondrous, snowglobe-like town named Krinnleton is mere days from annihilation. Said town is encased in a force field, courtesy of Father Frosts skills. Speaking of which: Krinnleton is a great place in that it represents a quick and action-packed introduction into the module: After arriving and taking in the strange force-field that holds back the elements, the PCs will be surprised by the initial strikeforce of the self-appointed avalanche lords: Terror tots, basically suicide-bomber wooden dolls, attack – and in this context, it is actually the case that the PCs are rewarded for splitting up. We get full consequences for the actions of the PCs, and the surprisingly neat NPCs are folks you really want to help.

In the aftermath of these detonations, the PCs have already reaped the benefits of their actions. The trail leads the PCs to the wilderness beyond the force-field walls, and indeed, the wilderness has some cool random encounters, including polar bearman, strange coyote spirits, and the like – these critters are epic. Snow Angels in particular are a monster that is pretty damn creepy. The overland trek does allow for multiple different routes – but the clock is ticking, as the armies of the avalanche lords proceed towards Krinnleton, and yeah, they can happen upon an army encampment. In Father Frost’s workshop, potent tools may be secured, and ultimately, chances are pretty good that the PCs can gain some advantages for the showdown on the gates of Krinnleton…provided the PCs don’t miss it, of course!

The showdown for the future of Krinnleton is epic indeed, as the massive Celsion-engine is led towards the settlement by a pair of wooly mammoths, and once more, PC performance before this part will influence the combat’s difficulty. Ultimately, the PCs will have to enter the mighty Celsion Engine and free Father Frost from the infernal device. The boss-battle here is rather cool, as the PCs are once more rewarded for tactical thinking. Should they succeed, they’ll bear witness to Father Frost ascending to patron-hood! The write-up for the fellow is included, and does come with invoke patron rules, but not the other aspects of what this status usually entails. That being said, I do like the emphasis of Father Frost’s cold being a cleansing, good one – more often than not, cold tends to be associated with purely negative aspects, so a “good” cold patron is appreciated indeed.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed only cosmetic snafus. Layout adheres to a 1-olcumn b/w-standard, and the artwork presented is really cool. While we do not get player-friendly maps for all parts of the module, we do get two handout-style maps that the PCs can actually get, which is a big plus. Why Krinnleton doesn’t get a key-less, player-friendly version, though…don’t ask me. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the subchapter-headers, but not for individual rooms or encounters.

I ended up enjoying Tim, Callahan’s “Advent of the Avalanche Lords” – it’s a scenario that basks in the slightly gonzo magitech-aspect, that revels in its blending of classic themes and the uncommon. I’D hesitate to call this “weird”, as the term has come to signify horror-ish aesthetics in many contexts, and while the module does have scenes that could be taken as being dark, as a whole, it is a module that feels like a light-hearted, fun action-romp. Like, as noted before “Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. meets Christmas” – it is gleeful and honest in its deliberate and fun overthetopness. If the module has one weakness, then that the background story is somewhat needlessly complicated, but that doesn’t really impact y enjoyment of the module. If anything…this feels, at least a bit, like its scope may be a bit off. This may be me, but I couldn’t help but feel that the army-angle could have amounted to a bit more. The module does it well, granted, but in the end, I couldn’t help but feel that a couple of pages more could have really elevated this to masterpiece levels. Still, if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced Christmas-romp with deliciously outrageous concepts, this will deliver by the buckets. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the first page, we get a brief catfolk gazetteer: The race as a whole is dubbed Mauyujraa, which is then further differentiated between subspecies – it’s a small bit, but the presence of a bit of lore here helps contextualize them in a cool way.

The pdf contains a total of 4 new feats: Graceful Fall lets catfolk fall any distance, taking the minimum amount of falling damage, and allowing for Acrobatics to reduce falling distance. 5 ranks and Dex 13+ mean that the feat won’t break low-level module assumptions. Nine Lives upgrades cat’s luck to 9 uses per day, and extends use to any Dex-based skill check or ability check, initiative or Reflex save, rolling twice and taking the better result. Alternatively, you may use the ability after a roll has been made, but that use locks you into the new result. As a whole, this makes for a very potent use of a feat. Depending on the power-level of races and race-related options, it may be a bit overkill for some grittier games. Retractable Claws lets you retract or extend claws as a standard action – this allows you to hide them as with Sleight of Hand, with a +2 bonus to Disguise. Quick Draw and surprising opponent synergy is provide. Nice one. Split Tail nets you the disguise hex, and the feat may be taken multiple times, with additional feats providing access to more witch hexes, as chosen from a limited list.

Rangers with the skirmisher archetype can choose two new skirmisher tricks: Bellowing roar nets a 15-foot conical sonic blast, with scaling damage and daily uses. Cunning hunter lets the ranger declare enemies as though they were favored enemies for a limited number of rounds, but only one such ability may e in effect at a given time. Basically, this delimits favored enemy and makes the much-maligned ability more flexible, but extols its price by the action required to activate. Whether you like that this basically lets you freely favored enemy anything or not is highly contingent on your preferred playstyle.

The pdf also contains new material for Paizo’s shifter class, in the guise of 3 different cat-themed shifter aspects: Cheetah’s minor form benefit eliminates charging penalties and increases them at higher levels, and allows you to apply their benefits to all attacks made at the end of the charge. Major form provides an increased base speed, scent, low-light vision, a primary bite with trip and the sprint ability, with higher levels unlocking more sprint uses. Jaguar lets you make sneak attacks with minor form, increasing the damage dice twice over the levels. The major form benefits include 40 ft. speed, climb and swim speed, low-light vision and scent, a bite with grab, a rogue talent favored terrain equivalent and pounce. 8th level nets hide in plain sight in favored terrain, and increase of the bonus, while 15th level allows for the synergy of movement and sneak attack bonus damage. The lion aspect’s minor form nets your allies access to a teamwork feat for the purpose of determining whether you benefit from it. The number of teamwork feats to which this applies increases to 2 and 3, at 8th and 15th level, respectively. Major form nets 40 ft. base speed, low-light vision, scent, primary bite with grab, pounce and frightful roar. 8th level nets an Acrobatics bonus, and 15th level makes aforementioned roar cause targets to cower.

If you’re a fan of the rather cool Unchained Fighter released by Everyman Gaming, you’ll also find an archetype for the class here, the pride commander. Instead of heavy armor and tower shield proficiency, the archetype gets 4 + Int skills per level and adds Knowledge (geography) and Knowledge (nature), as well as Perception, Stealth and Survival to the list of class skills. Weapon training is altered in that the archetype is limited to an array of certain weapon groups. Instead of armor training and advanced armor training, we get favored terrain, chosen alike the ranger class feature, with +2 to initiative, Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth and Survival checks. These bonuses increase by +2 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, and the benefits may be shared with allies as though they were a teamwork feat. While sharing the ability, the pride commander cannot rest to regain Stamina, and allies retain the ability for 1 hour. How does he share? Leader of the pride lets the character spend 1 Stamina Point as a move action to grant all allies within 30 feet a teamwork feat for up to his class level rounds. At higher levels, the character can spend more stamina to share more feats – 2 at 11th level, 3 at 19th level. Alternatively, the archetype can share teamwork feats in a quicker manner, making action economy more flexible. Nitpick: There is a “cavalier” reference left in the rules-text – obviously a remnant from the tactician ability, on which this is based. This replaces second wind.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed only cosmetic glitches and nothing that would badly impact rules-integrity. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is rather nice and in full color. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ catfolk options are situated, for the most part, on the slightly higher end of the power-scale, particularly considering the pouncing synergy options. That being said, the Paizo shifter really needs some unique or more viable options, so yeah. The commander archetype is solid, and the supplemental material, as a whole, can be considered to be nice. All in all, a pretty neat pdf for catfolk fans. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini 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 we briefly discuss the morality of riding an eidolon, as the unchained summoner was kinda prohibited from getting a mount eidolon, at least pre-Ultimate Wilderness, due to mount as an evolution being relegated to non-good subtypes only. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion expressed here, that riding an eidolon is not disrespectful or demeaning.

But we’re not here to talk philosophy, we’re here to check out the eidolon knight archetype for the unchained summoner. These guys get proficiency in simple and martial weapons, light armor and shields, excluding tower shields, but do get one fewer spell of each spell level. 1st level nets Eidolon Mount instead of summon monster I, 2nd level Mounted Combat instead of bonded senses and 3rd level nets bonded tactics. The eidolon can spend 1 evolution point to choose one of the knight’s teamwork feats, gaining it as a bonus feat, regardless of prerequisites. Such teamwork feats count as evolutions, and thus are valid choices for e.g. evolution surge (nice catch!). 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter nets a bonus teamwork feat for the knight, replacing part of the summon monster-sequence of abilities culminating in gate. The second array of these abilities is replaced with improved bonded tactics at 5th level, which nets Improved Spell Sharing, and durations of effects split are enhanced at higher levels – once more, thankfully getting the interactions right.

Of course, we also get a couple of new evolutions: Among the 1-point evolutions, we have eidolon saddle, which can be configured for gear or riding (switch between these takes a minute). Really cool utility component. Eidolon storage makes the eidolon have basically portable hole style saddlebags that can store smaller items. Rather handy indeed, and yes, maximum capacity increases over the levels! The pdf sports 3 2-point evolutions: Fast retrieval builds on aforementioned storage space and makes retrieving items quicker. Speed boost does what it says on the tin +10 ft. movement, can be taken multiple times. Bonded initiative makes the duo of knight and eidolon take the higher initiative, which can be pretty nasty. Three 3-point evolutions are provided: Bonded charge nets +4 to atk for eidolon and knight when charging and eliminates the AC penalty for doing so. Expansive storage really upgrades storage capacity, and maker’s jaunt lets the knight + mount dimension door as part of a charge, though encumbrance while doing so may fatigue or exhaust the mount. Personally, I think this should have a scaling cap of daily uses. The 4-point evolution provided further increases the potency of the bonded charge option, doubling the knight’s threat range (thankfully noting explicitly that this does not stack), while allowing the eidolon to execute a selection of maneuvers.

The pdf also features 3 feats: Summon Mount does pretty much what it says on the tin and requires the Summon monster I class feature, making it an alternative for those that don’t want to go the archetype route. Summon Steeds is the more potent version, building upon phantom steed (spell reference not italicized once). Relevant for eidolon knight and others: Ride-By Spellcasting. This lets you cast a spell, spell-like ability or supernatural ability analogue to Ride-By Attack, and notes some limitations that prevent this very potent feat from getting totally out of hand. It still represents one option that should at least warrant some scrutiny by the GM,as it can result in utterly devastating hit-and-run scenarios and VERY potent magical knights. I don’t consider it broken, but it’s not for every game.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules language level. Apart from a missed italicization, I noticed nothing glaring. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column full-color standard for the series, and the pdf has one really cool artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

I ended up liking Alexander Augunas’ eidolon knight more than I thought I would. The magic knight riding a deadly, smart companion is a cool trope, and from He-Man to more contemporary series, there are a ton of instances wherein this trope works rather well. The eidolon knight’s loss of the summon monster tricks radically changes the class – instead of the minion-spawner, the eidolon knight feels like a potent, but also rather squishy magical knight, and as a whole, this makes for a cool experience. Now, at the same time, I do think that a few more magical tricks instead of charge upgrades would have made this fellow cooler, but that is simply personal preference. All in all, I consider this well worth picking up if the concept intrigues you. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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3/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 4.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief discussion of the dynastic races (i.e. the races covered in amazing detail in the Dynastic Races Compendium), the pdf kicks off with the engraved special weapon property, which is the equivalent of a +1 bonus and allows a character with Scribe Scroll to scribe scrolls into the weapon at 25% increased cost. A wielder who has identified the spell engraved may use it when wielding the weapon as though it were a scroll. The total number of spell levels the weapon can hold is equal to its enhancement bonus. I assume that using the spell thus stored eliminates it, but not the blade that held it or the engraved property per se. Furthermore, I assume that the weapon does not impede somatic casting as pertaining the stored spell. I like the notion here, but these aspects would have imho warranted being explicitly stated.

The bindi of the socialite comes in three different iterations ( +2, +4 and +6) and is basically a headband of alluring charisma with a +5 Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (nobility) bonus tacked on, which is priced for +2K gold. Lame. Mat of the scintillating mandala is a slot-less item that lets a creature 1/day meditate on it for one hour t attempt any Knowledge checks untrained, and a +10 insight bonus to their skill check’s results. NO LIMIT. This should definitely have a limit. Alternatively samsaranas or those reincarnate’d can enter a trance to begin a temporal stasis (spell reference not italicized) for one week, emerging as a Child or Youth (see Childhood Adventures), or, if reincarnated, as the previous race, including exchanges of class features, feats etc., where race-bound – basically an omni-retrain.

Nagastra are +3 arrows that may be fired as a full-round action in a special shot that destroys the arrow and spawns a summon monster VII giant snake, using tweaked dire crocodile stats as a base line. Shadow scar tattoos can depict nightshade, kytons or gloomwings, granting a +5 competence bonus to Stealth, Intimidate or Acrobatics, respectively. Additionally, 1/day, the user may use light piercing or slashing mithril or cold iron weapons to harm themselves, temporarily doubling the bonus. Kudos: This can’t be cheesed and initiates a cooldown before it may be used again. Wayang with the light and dark trait get to freely decide which bonus to gain, instead of being locked into one by the shape of the tattoo. Minor nitpick: Superfluous plus before the Cost in gp in the construction section.

The pdf introduces a new magic plant, following the Ultimate Wilderness rules. This would be the flowering foxleaf shrub, which weight 75 lbs., and the berries harvested net a +5 competence bonus to Bluff, Disguise, Sleight of Hand and Stealth for a day. Overindulgence can render you sickened, but the save DC is pitiful. That should scale for repeated use after the first.

The pdf also touches upon magic teas: If you have Brew Potion or Cultivate Magic Plants, you can make teabags. Everflow foxleaf blend changes age category to that remembered while imbibing, if only temporarily, tying in with Childhood Adventures’ mechanics. Ground foxleaf blend affects only kitsune, and locks them in their current form, but makes this form also act as the true form for purposes of magic detection etc. Cool! Infused foxleaf blend affects only humans or kitsune drinkers as though reincarnate’d (spell reference not italicized), with humans becoming temporarily kitsune, while kitsune get an additional form. Kyubi foxleaf blend comes in 9 iterations, and only affects kitsune with the Magical Tail feat. The drinker regains all uses of Magical Tail, or kyubi tricks from the Kyubi Paragon PrC that function as spells of the indicated level or lower. Not a fan of the delimiting here. Settlestomach foxleaf blend is another winner: When forced back into natural shape, the imbiber may make a Constitution check to prevent return to the true form. Additionally, this has synergy with the involuntarily shapechange drawback, partially mitigating the effects.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good on a rules-language level, okay on a formal level. For such a small pdf, there are quite a few formal snafus here. The instances where rules are a tad bit more opaque than they ought to be weigh heavier, though. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the artwork provided is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jacob McKiernan’s dynastic armory oscillates between some inspired and interesting aspects, and some components that frankly are filler (*cough* lame headband modification */cough*) or rules-wise not as precise as they should be. There is some cool stuff here, and particularly kitsune players and rounds that favor smart intrigue should take a look at the teas – which btw. beg to be expanded as a concept! That being said, this still, as a whole, represents a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side of things. My final verdict will hence be 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini 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!

On the introductory page, we have a new feat available for both the standard and the unchained ninja: Without a Trace. This feat requires the no trace class feature, and does something that stealth-based classes like rogue et al. should have as class features, namely the option to use Stealth to avoid automatic detection due to blindsight etc., and the feat as such is pretty damn cool.

The pdf then proceeds to present 8 different ninja tricks: Conditioning nets a +2 competence bonus to two types of effects chosen from arcane spells, curses, environmental effects, diseases, poisons or psychic spells. Odd that divine spells are not included, but that may be intentional. Darkfall lets the ninja spend 1 ki to activate darkness as a standard action, lasting for Cha-mod rounds. The trick gets interaction/CL et all right. Nice. Dashing blade lets the ninja spend 1 ki as part of an attack to move 10 feet, allowing for controlled skirmishing steps – very cool! Extrasensory block allows the ninja to reduce sneak attack damage to prompt a save to temporarily negate a variety of special senses, depending on the amount of sneak attack dice foregone. This doe include stuff like mistsight and thoughtsense. Cool! Extrasensory suppression builds on that and allows for the substitution of ki instead of foregoing sneak attack damage dice, and for a longer duration. Improvised ninjutsu nets the dispatchment class feature and has synergy with Catch Off-Guard. Instant reactions nets +2 to initiative as well as +10 ft. movement to all movement speeds during the first round of combat, and quick retrieval lets the ninja use ki to make thrown weapons come back instantly, allowing for full attacks. And yes, the latter requires Quick Draw.

Okay, so far so cool – do the master tricks hold up? 4 are provided: Dashing finish lets the ninja move 10 feet when reducing a target to 0 hp, and for 1 ki, said movement doesn’t provoke AoOs. Incredible leaper nets flyspeed with average maneuverability, save that you need to land or fall - and you can do this for as long as you have ki. WuXia fans will like this, and it has proper and sensible prerequisites noted! Ki detection lets the ninja blindsight for 1 ki in a 30 ft. radius for a singular, instant detections. Ranged maneuvers, finally, does what it says on the tin, but uses Dexterity and has a proper range limit, so no cheesing there.

Finally, we have 8 ninjutsu arts: Advancing Assault nets bull rush; Battering Knockout a free disarm or steal; Maneuvering Strike nets reposition – these would be the maneuver combo arts. Cascading River Plunge compares Acrobatics to the foe’s CMD, and on a success, deals sneak attack as though the foe was flatfooted. Note that this does NOT render the target flatfooted, which is important to note re balancing, as skills are ridiculously easy to blow up, bonus-wise. If the attack would already qualify for sneak attack damage, we get bonus damage instead. Dancing Lead Twirl compares Escape Artist to CMD to determine whether an opponent gets AoOs versus her movement, and also ignores difficult terrain in the opponent’s space, which is an interesting design decision here. Fade From Plain Sight triggers after the final attack of a full attack. Stealth vs. DC 10 + highest observer’s total Perception skill bonus or highest CMD, whichever is higher – on a success, the ninja teleports up to 100 ft. away into a position of cover, using the Stealth check result. The limitations here are important. Minor complaint: This should probably be classified as a conjuration (teleportation) effect. Gentle Jab nets 3 additional attacks instead of one, but all do minimum damage and must target the same being. Now, this one may be problematic and cheesable, depending on the ninja. I certainly know one power-gamer build that would make this one…nasty. Big time. Finally, Galeforce Strike upgrades all attacks in a full attack to full BAB, provided the first hits – but the ninja may not attack the same target more than once. Important: If the first target was flanked, ALL targets count as flanked, and same goes for being denied Dex to AC. I like what this does…but could you hold my tied-up kitten while I flank it? Ok, okay…I concede. No one is gonna do that…right? Right??

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

Sasha Hall’s unchained ninja options rock hard. They make the ninja more versatile, a better skirmisher, and provide some tricks that I really enjoy. While I will never become a fan of using overinflated skills in conjunction with attack-relevant aspects, these are kept in check here. The tricks provided often are genuinely cool and useful – you know, stuff you can and will employ time and again. I was more than pleasantly surprised by this supplement. While two arts have me a bit weary, they can’t really tarnish what I’d consider to be a very good addition to a ninja’s arsenal. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

The first holiday adventure for DCC clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages. These are laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), making this a booklet, rather than a regularly-sized DCC-module.

This review was requested by a supporter of my patreon, to be undertaken at my convenience.

This module is intended for level 1 characters, and can be completed in a single session, making it suitable for e.g. oneshots or convention-style gaming. As far as DCC is concerned, it is a challenging module, but does not rank among the most difficult ones. Character death is a possibility, but it is very much possible to beat this module sans PC deaths.

This module takes place in the frigid north, and theme-wise can be considered to be one of the DCC modules that has its Appendix N-weirdness grounded in folklore and mythology – while certainly fitting DCC’s unique aesthetics, it’s an adventure that feels grounded in its odder aspects, making implementation in more down to earth contexts and settings with a sword & sorcery vibe easy.

As always, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..
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All right, only judges around? Great! So, for the last couple of weeks, a strange sickness seems to have spread across the north, one wherein children fall into a comatose state, with blackened, frostburn-like patches of skin. In the introductory scene, the culprits become readily apparent: Gnarled, icy-gnomes called Tontuu attack the settlement as winter solstice approach – and herald the deadly threat responsible.

The godling Tjaptar, a malign force that has justifiably and well-deservedly fallen into relative obscurity, has taken residence in a ziggurat of hyperborean make, encapsulated partially in basically an upside down iceberg-like structure that is levitating ever more south, spreading the dread influence of the godling. The PCs are blessed by the village priest of Loptir in the aftermath, gaining the mechanically most distinct aspect of the adventure – the ability to call upon the powers of sovereign fire.

Each PC receives either 8 (if they demand payment) or 10 points of sovereign fire as a resource to handle the threat of Tjaptar. These points may be used as luck to enhance save-bonuses vs. cold effects, enhance spellcasting to improve fire-based spells as though using spellburn, ignite weaponry for a +1 bonus to atk and damage (+3 v.s cold-based enemies – all foes herein qualify), gain the ability to use a searing touch (which can also met through ice) or use 5 points to turn into a form of living fire for 2 rounds, including the ability to fly – which can be very helpful in the finale, but more on that later. How the PCs use their sovereign fire and how well they conserve this resource is a crucial aspect that can make the difference between success or death. I do enjoy this unique form of resource-management.

Now, the flying inverse iceberg has vast steps leading up to the top, and from there onwards, the PCs will make their way through aforementioned ziggurat as a mini-dungeon, battling more of the ice-gnomes and witnessing disturbing sights – like strange groves of trees that have souls of children bound within them. A mantis of ice makes for a lethal foe, and heat-draining sap can make for a rather cool terrain hazard – but ultimately, the PCs should be capable of making their way quickly to Tjaptar, who looks like a pretty massive reindeer-headed humanoid, with sickly, quasi un-dead looking skin (due to neglect/not being worshipped); between his antlers, an aurora borealis looms, and inside these lights, the souls of children not yet consumed await freedom.

Defeating the dread godling will initiate a collapse, which will see a rapid deterioration of the dungeon – which means the PCs will have to get out, fast, unless they want to plummet to a rather inglorious death! This section is also where the module’s brevity turns out to be somewhat detrimental. While the concept could have carried a longer adventure, apart from e.g. once instance, where only falling distance, but not damage incurred, is noted, this doesn’t come into play for the most part. In the end, though, the module basically resorts to telling the judge to add some checks to make things tight – which is certainly viable, but ultimately, I think the module would have been better off by simply listing some challenges for the collapse.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language level, the same can be said for the most part, apart from aforementioned minor snafus. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard, and the original artworks in b/w are really nice. As pretty much always for Goodman Games’ DCC-modules, the maps are glorious. Unfortunately, we don’t get any player-friendly iterations sans labels etc. The pdf has basic bookmarks for sub-headers, but not for individual scenes or rooms – that could be a bit smoother for the judge.

Michael Curtis “The Old God’s Return” oozes a great dark fantasy vibe, with a neat folklore-style backdrop and theme. The sovereign fire mechanic is rewarding, and the whole idea of the adventure is great. However, the module does suffer somewhat from its brevity. I couldn’t help but feel that, with a few more pages, this could have been a masterpiece. As provided, it is an impressive module that feels like it is held in check by the limited scope in which it can develop its themes. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case you were wondering, this obviously builds upon Everyman Gaming’s unchained fighter from the supplement of the same name. The first page recaps the advanced armor and weapon training options from said pdf, as well as the fighter training component. This makes that particular page an excellent sales-pitch, in case you were wondering. I assume familiarity with the unchained fighter in my review.

The first archetype would be the Charming Champion (who has a superfluous “s” after “archetype”), who alters class skills to include Bluff and Diplomacy instead of Craft, Knowledge (engineering) and Survival. These fellows design their own signature weapon group! The champion gets 6 points, plus another 4 at 2nd level and every fighter level thereafter. Adding a simple weapon costs 2 points, martial weapons cost 3, and an exotic weapon costs 4 points. All points must be spent upon gaining a level, so think carefully about martial weapons…Still, a really cool way to add player agency here. Instead of bravery and 2nd level’s bonus feat, we get Psychological combat synergy here: 1 stamina as a swift action can either dazzle creatures (or daze those with lower HD) or buff the champion. Neat.

The mystic kensai chooses only a single weapon instead of a weapon group, gaining Weapon Focus with it – this is the focus weapon. The archetype can spend 1 stamina point to grant the weapon a +1 enhancement bonus that increases by +1 for every 4 levels thereafter. Stacking is covered properly, and the ability cannot be cheesed – but to make up for this, the archetype may not spend stamina to gain a bonus to atk. At 4th level, unsurprisingly for the veteran PFRPG connoisseur, we build on this with special weapon properties, with the mechanics remaining pretty damn tight and precise regarding the limitations imposed here. To make up for this potent ability, the archetype loses martial spontaneity. The archetype adds either Strength or Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD when unarmed and unencumbered – Strength is applied for melee weapons as a focus weapon, Wisdom for ranged ones. A further bonus is applied over the levels. The split here makes an otherwise classic ability sequence interesting and ties it closer to the choice of focus weapon. 6th level nets focus weapon training: Whenever the kensai gains a fighter bonus feat, he may choose an advanced weapon training instead. The kensai may choose one such option at 6th level, and another one every 4 levels thereafter. 19th level replaces armor mastery reduced the stamina cost for the enhancement bonus granting, to a minimum of 0. The capstone provides immunity o being disarmed when wielding a weapon enhanced via the class features, and increases crit multiplier by 1. (This should probably have a cap, but it’s the capstone, so I’ll let it slide.)

The Massive Weapons Fighter (Archetype) oddly is missing the “Fighter” in the brackets, and is excluded from a couple of weapon training and expanded weapon training choices. At first level, we have a notoriously tough cookie to get right: Oversized weapon proficiency. When attacking with a weapon of the chosen fighter weapon group that is one or more size categories larger, the archetype may spend up to 4 stamina points to reduce the penalty taken to atk with that weapon by an amount equal to the points spent. This reduction lasts until next turn. To make up for this, no spending stamina for competence bonuses to atk for this fellow. 7th level lets the archetype use the oversized weapon as a shield for stamina cost when fighting defensively or in total defense. Really cool one! It works with the system, instead of against it.

Warmarshals lose the 1st level bonus feat and may use a move action to coordinate allies against an enemy within 60 ft., bestowing a +1 competence bonus to attack versus the foe until next round. This bonus persists even if the enemy goes out of range. 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter increases this bonus. The warmarshal can, you guessed it not spend stamina for a competence bonus to atk. 4th level replaces the usual bonus feat with warmarshal’s support. When the warmarshal uses martial spontaneity to gain a combat feat that is also a teamwork feat, he can spend up to 5 stamina to grant it to an ally within 30 ft. for every stamina point spent. Kudos: No cheesing/stacking! Additionally, the warmarshal may use second wind on nearby allies as a move action. Instead of 5th level’s advanced weapon training, we have an ability that penalizes opponents hit by the warmarshal when they attack allies of the character, and stamina-based synergy with Cleave et al. is included.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules language level. On a formal level, there are a few harmless, but somewhat glaring minor hiccups of an aesthetic nature. I’d consider this to be still good in that regard. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, the artwork is kickass, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Blaine Bass delivers some interesting unchained fighter options here. While none of them truly reinvent the wheel, they all do have something interesting going on for them, some aspect that makes them viable and intriguing choices. Since all gripes I can field here remain cosmetic, I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Alchemical items, much to my chagrin, are relegated in usefulness mostly to low levels – at least in PF1. This is one aspect I very much prefer in Pathfinder Playtest, but that’s another can of worms. The pdf remarks that an item that would be fair for 5th level might very much be utterly OP at 1st – as such, the pdf handles the issue by introducing proficiency. This value denotes the minimum number of skill ranks needed to use the item reliably, and which skills these ranks must be invested in. Basically, it makes skills also act as a kind of unlock mechanism for items. Not having the proper skill ranks nets a 75% chance of misuse, +5% for every rank that you fall short. This may seem brutal, but ultimately, it makes using stuff beyond your ken what it should be: An act of desperation.

This basic system provided, we are introduced to full-sized and portable masterwork alchemist labs. These labs can refine two uses of an alchemical item into 1 use of a refined one, which increases save DCs and damage as well as bonuses, if any. Basically, this is a one-item scaling engine, externalized to an item. I love it. Considering the focus of the pdf, it should not come as a surprise that the items herein tend to clock in at the higher power-levels: Spectral drops net you the ability to see the invisible and ethereal, and automatically alerts you of scrying sensors and bestows darkvision. Minor complaint: A Bonus to noticing sensors would have been more elegant here. On the offense side, we get the ability to create aqua regia at 9th level, a deadly acid that nets 12d6 damage, 4d6 splash in a 20 ft. radius, and targets directly hit begin to corrode – an acid-based variant of catching fire. I love it. Endothermic spikes are throwable cold-based weapons that come in two variants, combining damage with difficult terrain. Once more, neat!

Also available in two variants, death remedy is a potent draught that heals significant amounts, and that may actually revive the recently deceased in a breath of life-y way. Multi-consciousness tea is genius, in that it allows you to remain aware while sleeping. Spirit of exaltation lets you grant a target short-term flight and a variant of fire shield. Universal cerator is one for creative PCs, allowing you to reduce hardness and compromise object and creatures.

The pdf also contains a variety of different alchemical discoveries: Alchemical salvage lets you scavenge items from large quantities of the items (e.g. an antitoxin’s vial, the residue of an alchemist’s fire’s impact site) and recreate items. Extract injection lets you infuse extracts into melee or ranged weapons – and yes, save structure etc. are noted. Material transmutation represents one of the key concepts of real world alchemy, and allows you to transmute one type of nonmagical material into another. This only creates raw materials, but in the hands of the right player, this can be a phenomenal asset, particularly if your game’s like mine and you enjoy Achilles’ heel designs for bosses, research etc. Greater transmutation and true transmutation build on this one, allowing alchemists to finally cover a core concept we commonly associate with alchemy.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules language level. Layout adheres to the latest 2-column full-color standard with a white background that the series uses, and the artwork is really neat. The pdf has no bookmark, but needs none at this length.

David N. Ross’ superior alchemical items are a godsend as far as I’m concerned. Transmutation as a concept should have been part of the core alchemy array, and the use of masterwork labs to make alchemical items scale is genius – in fact, with better healing and AoE damage, I can actually picture running a game with a primary focus on alchemy to represent the majority of supernatural abilities. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know that this is something I absolutely adore. My only complaint here would be that, frankly, I’d have wanted a massive expansion booklet of alchemy rules like this. This pdf takes the lump of iron that alchemical items become after the first few levels and turns them into gold, and unlike real world alchemy, no manure of any kind is involved/included in this pdf. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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