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*****

Occult Archetypes is from publisher Legendary Games, a brand that frequently produces great products. Often they are divided into different categories based on Paizo adventure paths they allude to plug into but also in-house settings and entire modes of play under Pathfinder. In this case this is an 'occult plug-in' meaning that its all about Occult Adventures and the options that it presents with new archetypes and other options. There are a little over 20 archetypes in its 40 pages (along with some reprinted rules such as spells from the Technology Guide and Wizard elemental schools).

Being rather young classes, the Occult classes definitely need some room for growth and flavor and this product brings it.

The Kineticist archetypes brings us a radiation-based kineticist that's alignment-locked into non-good. One gives us a kineticist with some psychic spells. But other than that I feel like the archetypes are mostly cosmetic in the sense that they don't change any of the basic dynamics of the class although there are some cool concepts with importing some class features like channel energy and the oracle's curse. That's not to say that they are boring. There's some concepts that are mostly a matter of flavor but are really cool, like the archetype that sources the Kineticist abilities from an item rather than the character itself producing a kind of Green Lantern feel.

Some of the Medium's archetypes are obvious. Get a druidic caster mode and a psychic caster mode with archetypes to support it and also a short archetypes that tweaks a little with a lot of impact.

Mesmerist gets just two but I wasn't terribly interested in them. They give some new flavor to Mesmerist when the class is pretty narrow but I feel represent a flavor already handled by other classes. One even sprinkles a bit of Bard in there which is just blasphemy to me.

I'm a bit biased against the Psychic so this one is pretty subjective but I really am not feeling the archetypes inside. They are most pretty much a psychic only kind of like another class, particularly gaining some items from Wizard and Monk like Wizard Schools, Wizard Elemental Schools, all good saves and evasion. One even gets prepared casting. If you already a fan of the Psychic class these are pretty aggressively interesting changes that expand expectations of how the class operates but I kind of saw the Psychic as a different casting Sorcerer so adopting class features from other classes just transfers the class's boringness to a class other than Sorcerer.

The Spiritualist is another class that feels like a New Coke version of another, in this case the Summoner, and this book doesn't help by presenting an archetypes that makes the spirit even more like an eidolon. But there's also two other archetypes that give something new are imported from the occultist which are more exciting.

There's a revision on how to deal with psychic abilities with monsters to make it more in line with how spell like abilities work in monsters along with revised entries for those abilities from the more recent psychic creatures. I do have a beef with this. Not the fact that they did it or anything but there's a table for that right in the middle of the Psychic's archetypes that takes up a full page instead of it being right after the page that explains it, which is slightly confusing. Also I'm not fond of mixing some GM information in archetype books (player information) unless its a bigger book that covers a broad amount of categories of a topic. Especially since it's about six and a half pages of stuff I may or may not use really.

On a rules and rules language front I didn't notice any problems with Occult Archetypes. There are a few archetypes that are inspirational and open up new concepts and others I feel reeks of gridfilling mechanics onto the new classes. Overall its a worthwhile buy. At it's worst about half of it contains interesting archetypes that bring you closer to new concepts that you may have had trouble with before and at it's best almost all the archetypes give you a new dynamic to it's respective class and you can easily make psy-like abilities work the same way other spells work instead of being something new and weird. Honestly most of the things that I was less than thrilled with is a victim of how expanded Pathfinder is to me. Like the very concept of a fiend hunter mesmerist gives something new to the mesmerist but between almost all the divine classes, Slayer and Ranger I think I've had my fill of the concept and I don't see what the Mesmerist brings to it. But on the other hand the Mesmerist has something new to do that's interesting. Meanwhile there's straight gems like the Poison Earth Kineticist that uses radiation. I want to give this a 4 out of 5 because there's a significant chunk that I don't really care about but I think that if I look at it objectively its a solid product that expands what the occult classes can do without being huge nerfs or being overpowered so I'm bumping it to a 5 out of 5 for what it is.


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****( )

First of all, a big thanks to Fat Goblin Games for gifting this product.

Abandoned Arts is a publisher that puts out some decent product. Not great but not terrible. But they are consistent in putting out their material that has a lot of crunch per page and not really wasting time on fluff or art, so you get quite the bang for your buck. However I'm not one to start picking up tons of little books, mainly because I don't want players (or myself) to go file hunting for just the right options by digging through a bunch of small titles. When it comes to player options I like my fat books or at least fat pdf that I can print out into a fat book, so the only Abandoned Arts book that I actually use is The Class Acts Compendium. Otherwise the company has drifted into obscurity for being fairly low profile crunch that I can honestly live without. Lately Abandoned Arts has started publishing under Fat Goblin Games, who I didn't really pay attention to until after their Fantastic Technology book, and most of the products I've seen after that book has been miles better than what I had purchased before so I see this as a huge step up for both companies. Here we have More Feats!: Vol 1, which is a compilation of Abandoned Arts More Feats! line.

This pdf is only 38 pages long but true to Abandoned Arts tradition it doesn't waste much space or time. These are a truckton of feats with seven pages being just the feat tables. The document promises another compilation as they put out more More Feats! books with two more compilations showing up sometime this year culminating in over 500 feats.

The feats here cover themes of Agility, Alchemy, Athleticism, Charisma, Courage, Dexterity, Endurance, Fellowship, Fury, Horsemanship, Intellect, Leadership, Marksmanship, Secuction, Speed, Strength, Style, Subterfuge, Wisdom, and Witchcraft.

The downside of wanting a fat book of feats is that I can't talk about every individual feat and how I feel about it so I'll just bring up my general feelings. Another downside is that this product is a bit difficult to judge. The feats inside are totally not equal. Some are pure gold that I want to take and are evocative and useful, granting you something new to do. Some are basically situational trap options that I'll never take. As far as I can tell not even one of them will break your game and they are written clearly enough for me to understand on the first try (Although I noticed a few typos and wonky language like gaining 'a bonus equal to the highest level spell..' not specifying spell level.), so do I judge it for the bad stuff or the great stuff? I guess judge by how much value I get for $9.95 it takes to purchase this product.

From that point you actually get quite a bit of value. I'm noticing some really cool feats for fighters and monks like one that lets you use Str for Initiative and a series of style feats that let you be really dangerous while mobile. There's also some really interesting social feats like distracting a room full of creatures enough to allow observed creatures to make stealth checks. The useless ones are situational but if you known what kind of campaign you're getting into they can be pulled off regularly. I would say that overall the feats are about as good as you'd expect from Paizo's Ultimate books with a large swath being ignored due to the abundance of feats you need for particular builds but the ones with good flavor and great usefulness peeking through, even producing new kinds of builds.

It does tend to mess up a bit less, where a number of the feats aren't bad but make me wish characters got more feats because really they do new things but will get crowded out by hyper-optimized combat focused builds needing feats to be way more aggressive. This is kind of a result of the product not exactly rocking the boat by revolutionizing the game or generating new subsystems or changing power dynamics but at the same time the tendency kind of keeps it playing safe and not messing up by completely bungling what its trying to do and wind up being completely useless or overpowered. Its the kind of thing that you wouldn't seek out with any real enthusiasm except for about a dozen feats and more of something that you're really happy to have when you have it. Its a dose of diversity that doesn't rock the boat that can be a really nice treat for casual games that have a particular kind of game in mind and giving a few new reasons to build in a weird way. From a powergaming grognard point of view there's only a couple of gems to break you from the core rulebook and is about as useful as your average Pathfinder Player Companion. That doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it to a powergaming grognard because in context the same price is less than your average Player Companion and the density of the product does lend to it more actual content to sink your teeth into so it actually comes out as being as useful as a really good Player companion so I can deem it as well worth the price.

For the rate of traps per gems I'd have to lower my final score to somewhere between three stars and four, as that just adds more choice paralysis to anyone that has trouble finding feats, but I get more value out of it than others because I run and play a huge range of types of campaigns so my personal feelings lean it more towards a 4 stars out of 5 and call it a day.


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*****

First of all, a big thanks to Flying Pincushion for the review copy.

The Tides of War series from Flying Pincushion has had a huge upswing and a huge downswing making this one a bit of a gamble but with high rewards. Lets see where the pendulum swings in this installment where we get some multiclass enabling Magus feats.

Now I'm not stranger to multiclassing feats. Rogue Genius Games did a book a while back with a bunch of them, some poaching class features while others actually required you multiclass. Here out of the six pages of the pdf, as with the previous Tides of War, we get only a few pages of content. For this one it's two, or more two and a half.

Some of the feats let you use your arcane pool in new ways that interact with class features from another class. You can use your arcane pool to reduce the penalty of mutagens, issue extra challenges, get more rounds of Bardic Performance/Raging Song, or get more Rage.

You can also spellstrike from outside your spell list. get benefits from killing targets of your smite or favored enemy, re-target Hex targets,

One of the more interesting ones is one that lets you spend arcane points when using a Kinetic Blade to use your hit die as your caster level for the spell.

For the most part these feats definitely do some enabling. They are simple and to the point but actually do quite a bit to make multiclassing with a Magus viable. Best of all they are written very clearly and there's a variety of ways that they help. For feats you get some hefty bonuses but really you'd have to because in all honesty some of the class combinations aren't that great and multiclassing in Pathfinder can be kind of a bust in the first place. I'd give this a full 5 out of 5 stars. It does its job and does it well and in a short amount of time. Besides that you also get some actual incentive to mix the classes more without a single trap option in the mix. Bravo.


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****( )

When Pathfinder Unchained came out I was ecstatic. The talk of the town was the new unchained classes but i was all about the series of house rules to adjust the game. Unfortunately some of the patches for difficult parts of the game were a little too conservative which resulted in them being fantastic ideas in their own right but not really enough or very functional for the space allotted. Even the best ideas required a bit of adjustment before going into a game. But that's the nature of house rules so I was really eager to see how third party publishers polished off some of these great ideas, and so we get to Everyman Games, now a part of Rogue Genius Games, with Everyman Unchained: Skills and Options.

For the first bit we get a new skill system, a hybrid of grouped skills from Unchained and normal skills. To make things short, you get your normal ranks and skills as normal but additionally you choose skill groups as defined by the table inside at first level(You have to start with the Background skill group.), second level and every 4 levels after that. You get bonus skill ranks that you have to spend on skills within a skill group you selected but only if you have more than half your level in ranks from a skill in that group. On paper and in use this system works very well and gives you a wider range of skills without just handing off a bunch of extra skills willy nilly. But your milage may vary because I personally don't think I'll ever use this purely because Its an added layer of complication which I don't like even though it still works without having to adjust anything else. When presenting it to players I've had to explain whats being said and there was a lot of back tracking for players. To be fair half of my usual group isn't very adaptive to any level of complication so you may take that criticism with a huge grain of salt. Also for the other half it seems fairly simple enough. In the end I just feel like it's the background skills system that threw an added complication by adding your background ranks into something that you have to keep backchecking a chart for instead of simply adding them to a set list.

The next section is on favored class bonuses. There are things that I do like and things that I don't like. I like the favored class bonus options that are class specific (but not specific to race/class combinations). Its a cool way to really give a little more variety within a class. There are even a few third party classes in the mix. Same goes for the racially specific bonuses, particularly that they aren't class specific racial bonuses as well, something that I've always criticized because it means each new race is burdened to account for classes that don't yet through updates. At the same time the class specific ones have the same problem that makes me like the racial ones in that there's no way for it to account for third party classes. to a lesser extent the same can go for the racial ones because races not represented here get basically nothing. But this doesn't exactly mean that non-represented classes and races get no action. One set of bonuses are specific to classes with an animal companion, which works with classes or even archetypes that could come out next year and still functions. Then there are the universal options, favored class bonuses that don't require a specific race or class, which is basically the holy grail for me in this section. Particularly I like that you can pay favored class bonuses towards a feat that uses your race as a prerequisite. This little rule make racial feats a kind of mini paragon path which ups their value and flavor. Besides that it completely bypasses all the problems I have with favored class bonuses not being able to account for classes and races that don't exist yet or are third party while still keeping it racially relevant. Its one of those things where I wished the game was like that from the beginning. There are new feats that interact with the new favored class bonuses. They are nice but the real noteworthy thing is that humans make out like bandits with a new racial feat that gives them oodles of HP, skill ranks or both.

Lastly we have Alternate Multi-Classing options for the Dragon Paragon, Mystic, Occultist(third party), and Technician.

I may have lobbed some criticism but all in all this is a decent product. If you liked the background skills system from Pathfinder Unchained then the skill system is a better alternative. (I did not so I wasn't too keen on this system.) If you aren't finicky about getting new races and classes in on the favored class bonuses then you at least have an option to give them something. The thing I'm mostly taking from this book is the universal favored class bonuses and the associated feats but i can seriously see anyone else taking away more. So right now I'm on the fence of what to rate this because of a fight between what I feel like I'd use and what I feel others would use. I think 4 out of 5 stars is fair. Its a rating that doesn't scare people who would like it from the product but expresses that I really only consider two pages of the product useful to me.


****( )

A big thanks to Purple Duck Games for the review copy.

Heroes of the Advent Imperiax caught my eye because I'm an admitted nut for scifi material for Pathfinder, particularly since I'm using the system to play a space campaign, and the cover has an alien woman with a space gun. I am a little bit sad that aliens aren't immediately apparent when starting to read it. This is the fault of not being very familiar with Porphyra and not being bothered to look at the linked wiki. Which is moot point, with products like these I really have to judge them based on how the elements fit into homebrew campaign settings because that is where they will likely be used for me.

After some prose to set the mood we have new races. One note of criticism is that images of individual races are not next to the racial descriptions (with one exception), although they do appear throughout the pdf. This irks me a bit as this means that printing out the races separate from the rest of the product is less useful. This isn't helped by the lack of physical description sections. You have to hunt down direct descriptions or images in the product to get a good idea of the flavor of the race. In addition to new racial traits for humans and half-orcs in the setting there are four stranger races. Two of them are pretty much your bumpy forehead alien types with some interesting abilities but nothing extreme. Two of them are much weirder giving something a bit more unique. There's a race of people with four arms but use two of them as legs. They have some rules to work with their weird anatomy that are partially awkward but useable. Then there are a race of psionic sneaky people and a race of hot green chicks and a race of half ooze people.

After this is flavor text detailing the state of the hot green chick race, that they are the remnants of a crashed spaceship that settled on Porphyra and got aggressive with protecting their technology. This includes some city stat blocks and brief history of the three main cities of the Imperiax civilization. This comes with new settlement qualities. There are important-to-the-setting NPCs but not exactly NPC stat blocks. Just their names, common locations, important equipment and a brief description. I actually really like this method. There are some NPC stat blocks later in the book but really for these I don't need too much information and this saves some space while getting to important information.

The next section is on class options. There is a prestige class that I can honestly live without. Its not bad, just that at this point I feel like there's enough material out there to have the concept without having to resort to a prestige class. Plus I'm biased against prestige classes so there's that. There are also new options and archetypes that fill in concepts for the setting. Though they are mostly for the flavor of the setting they look pretty functional, albeit nothing spectacularly new except for the otyugh mount. The Prestige class and the archetypes have a bit of psionic support with a new Terror and archetype for Dreads and the Prestige class requiring a power point pool.

This is followed by new feats. There are some psionic ones and many of them are racial but there are some general goodies in there. None of them feel superfluous or like trap options although Alien Weapon Proficiency brings up a system explained later about alien weapons that aren't exactly necessary given exotic weapon rules and the Technologist feat is sufficient for creating that kind of barrier for using certain weapons. We also get new psionic powers including powers adapted from spells from the Technology Guide which is way more relevant and interesting than the three new powers.

Here things start to get a bit rapid fire. There are two new race options using the race builder from the Advanced Race Guide, two new alchemical items, three herbs which function on an interesting basis that I'd like to see more of, and six new drugs/poisons. We also get new weapons and armor including technological items. The highlights are a nerfed powered suit, a stun gun, and a number of non-firearm weapons. Sadly there are two instances where I feel the rules are unclear about how something works but on the bright side they are easy to spot and only number in two. There are also some general technological items. The technological items are all priced lower than I expected which is a common theme among third party books with tech. Overall I really like the tech items here as I find them very necessary to flesh out the flavor of technology but also gives us a bit more new things with psionic-tech items. Among our general psionic items. We also have new vehicle stat blocks as well as a new type of propulsion type before getting to a list of common technological items in the setting.

Finally we get a gallery of NPC stat blocks using options from the book.

Lets get the bad out of the way first. A lot of the book kind of runs into each other without breaks after the class options section starts, so its a bit hard to find what you want. The lack of a table of contents for a 64 page pdf doesn't help matters at all. There are also a few points where the rules can be clearer or handled differently, particularly where the Femax environmental suit and the Dhosari race are concerned. The fluff, while there and interesting, makes me feel a bit lost on the product. I feel like I need more context outside of the Advent Imperiax to get a real feel for the setting and how this subsection of the setting interacts with the rest of it. I'm also a bit hampered by a somewhat lack of description. I generally assumed what this was and the product has a hard time conveying what it is and how it can fit into your game. And lastly the concept and execution of Alien weapon proficiency is beyond useless given how the rules for exotic weapons are sufficient for this kind of weapon barrier and simply doesn't play nice outside of it's own context.

For the good things; The actual content is really handy and things that I'll immediately put in my scifi campaign. I really like most of the races, The fluff regarding the races is fascinating, the NPC mini descriptions give me a lot to work with outside the setting, the psionic support to technology is very useful, the technological items are instant includes to a scifi campaign. The book as a whole is amazingly handy whether it's the fluff or the crunch and I would recommend at least getting it for the player options if you are running a tech focused game and moreso if your tech focused game involves interacting with crashlanded aliens in a normal medieval stasis world or a Iron Gods-like situation. I think I would give this a 4 out of 5 stars. Its a bit awkward to sort through but its full of things that I'll definitely use.


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*****

So if you have seen my opinions about New Paths Compendium my views of The Trickster will induce a lot of deja vu. Like a lot of it's predecessors the Trickster class follows a lot of familiar ground and fills in a huge gap but adds a bit of new to make it a real novelty while still feeling like a real part of the game. As a whole that's the main strength of the New Path classes. They feel like they could have been printed by Paizo so its pretty easy to accept them in a game as opposed to completely new kinds of systems like Spheres of Power or sharp changes in balance like Path of War. They simply fit in and play nice with base Pathfinder and as much as I like my crazy stuff like psionic wolfmen from the future, or Aboleth parasite mutants that shoot bears out of their eyes I absolutely love my purchase of New Paths Compendium and products that simply fill in the blanks that the base game leaves behind.

So what is the Trickster? Well in a nutshell it's a 20 level Arcane Trickster in the same way that the Magus is a 20 level Eldritch knight. Its basic chassis is a 3/4 BAB class with six levels of casting. It casts from the Sorcerer/Wizard list so avoids spell list conflicts that I normally have with new classes but does put it's casting a bit ahead of the Magus in terms of raw versatility. It has a spellbook but prepares spells known rather than spell slots, so it casts like an Arcanist (also INT based casting). It has a slower progression sneak attack and at fifth level can use sneak attacks to deliver touch spells which is where the comparison to the Magus comes in. At level 15 it can do the reverse and have spells that deal damage against flat footed enemies deal sneak attack damage which applies to all targets of the spell if the spell does damage to multiple targets in one blast (Yes fireball/No magic missile) making a surprise Burning Hands really sick all of a sudden at late levels.

There's also an option called Forte that serves as kind of a Order/Bloodline package choice that represents a focus. One makes you significantly better at acrobatics checks, one gives you a familiar that does quite a bit of extra things, like sneak attack and functionally giving you the Inquisitor's Solo Tactics with it. One makes feint pretty desirable. One allows you to steal spells but is about the only ability in the entire book that I have serious questions about. Its unclear whether or not the stolen spell is itself negated or if the stealing has to occur within a certain range or exactly when the opposing caster is casting. Either way it looks like it can swipe spells from other spell lists and cast them for a short amount of time. Plus later on they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.

The rest of the class features are mostly filler-ish or expected things. It gets six +1s to a number of skills over the course of the class, three bonus feats from a limited pool or a metamagic feat. They get uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, trapfinding and evasion. One interesting thing is that they can make ranged disable device and sleight of hand checks as if they were using mage hand to do it. Something everyone ever had tried to do before realizing that's not how the spell works. Eventually they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.

In the end I have to criticize an INT based caster with 6+INT skills per level. This can easily be seen as a "better Rogue" from that standpoint alone. Although that's true for a lot of things the class feels like the Rogue dropped all of it's worst abilities and replaced them with good ones. But overall, I like the class. I've seen a few 20 level arcane trickster type classes and this one fills in the checkboxes that I think are the most desirable things about the concept. Using mage hand to steal/disable, steal spells, cast with versatility. I also have to praise the points where it keeps in room for expansion with it's Forte class feature. Its a rather simple class that fits in about 5 pages but it's packed with so many small smart choices that brings it together. The Fortes make the focus of the class drastically different from each other, the Arcanist casting keeps it from being boring but still keeps it spontaneous, stealing control of spells, not shoehorning a talent selection (which would have made for a huge chunk of choice paralysis since spells are also involved.). I think this class fits in great next to the Magus in filling up concepts that fit in the six level arcane caster space and is probably my current favorite chassis for the concept. I think I can confidently give this five stars out of five. I'm sure that others will love it.


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*****

A Page of Scrolls is an adventure that serves an adventure that serves as part one for more to come. As an adventure product I'll try to get by without any spoilers to players while still giving a general impression of what it's like.

The backstory of this book is such: Big evil guy takes over the city and the citizens spend almost two decades ousting him in an insurgency campaign. However now the city is getting an influx of refugees fleeing from some threat in a nearby civilization. The PCs are there for reasons looking for adventure.

The first bit is probably the most difficult of the adventure to manage. It starts off with the PCs helping to free a pickpocket but its in a way that the PCs have to be altruistic enough to step into things that's not their own business. With a bunch of typical adventurer types the scene plays out to make at least one party member want to get involved. but I've had plenty of tables where the party would just avoid something like this. Overall this is the fault of not having any real assumptions that the PCs have to fill in. They don't start off with an inherent direction and aren't in any direct danger so the pieces that kick off the entire story is somewhat avoidable. On the flip side the PCs have to definitely not be Lawful Stupid or they're liable to burn the whole town to the ground.

Other than that the adventure is fairly basic. As the first instance of an adventure path it is lacking a few things. Mostly more locations to interact with and a guide to leveling for those of us who don't do leveling by XP. It also feels much more like a module over the beginning of an adventure path. I would say that with a normal party this all will take three sessions to complete the adventure even if they blow a lot of time roleplaying. Its basically a go in the dungeon and find a thing quest that's more complicated than it seems but still simple for the adventurers. I can definitely see it as a good generic thing for first time adventurers to get into without being overwhelmed by a bunch of story things that don't matter. This is still while giving enough details to know that the area is a lot more complicated and is capable of delivering more adventure and more complexities as time goes on.

The adventure gives you quite a bit to set the mood and flesh out details, particularly at the beginning. It also leaves room for expansion. The appendix gives you enough to work with to liven up the experience for the players. Despite needing to hit the rails hard at the beginning the city is expanded enough where you can sandbox a bit once the adventure proper is started. Once you get to dealing with the dungeon at hand the whole thing is pretty dense. I'm sure you're going to retreat to level and rest at least once. If you're running with a bunch of optimized characters the whole thing isn't terribly challenging but whenever a whole group of monsters show up there are variable amounts that the book lists so that you can up the challenge. If they get to level three though it will be a cake walk either way. Normal adventurers will be challenged a bit but nothing too stressful.

The artwork is charming for what it is. It feels very old school and more evocative than detailed. The dungeon maps definitely feel home made but not in a way that really detracts from the whole experience. There's definitely roleplaying opportunities outside for the dungeon.

Overall I like it. Its simple but can lead to a lot which is what one would expect of a 'part one' adventure. I cannot see it as the first book of an adventure path because really not much happens but it is a pretty decent module that can be used as an intro to your own adventures. You have what serves as a home base with lots of opportunities and problems which serves as great 'blank space' for more story. It has some rough edges but covers a lot of bases and gives you what you need to run a decent adventure that leads to greater things. I want to give it four out of five stars but I'll knock it up to five because really whatever adventures are further down the line makes or breaks it. Its decent and does it's job well but isn't particularly memorable, except for that it's hinting at more exciting thing and leaving threads to go there easily, whether it's further adventures from Casey Brown or something that you make up yourself.


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***( )( )

Big thanks to Flying Pincushion for the review copy.

Previously Flying Pincushion was publishing under d20pfsrd.com Publishing and while there they put out two Into the Breach series books covering the Magus and the Summoner. The Summoner was the first and while its original iteration was kind of lackluster but imaginative the revision and eratta made things much better. Unfortunately the Magus book did not get the same treatment and that was too bad because I really didn't like that book. Fortunately under their own banner Flying Pincushion released a new Magus book following their current styles and format.

At the beginning I'm immediately met with a bit of disappointment. Going through the archetypes I notice a lot of rules language that is either missing information that's needed to fully function, is drastically non-standard to the point archetypes with similar changes don't have the same rules language or don't seem like they would work in the context of what the game actually does.

For example; I really like the Mistblade, an archetype that makes illusionary doubles, despite missing crucial information on what save or skill check is required to disbelieve it, since whether or not it provides a flanking bonus depends on whether or not the opponent is aware that it is an illusion. It also implies that the doubles can be destroyed but no way to destroy them. One ability that makes them capable of dealing damage probably solves this problem and it can go away with a slight bit of houseruling but I hate having to do eratta work when it comes to player information.

There's also a habit of pricing abilities that use the arcane pool or arcane pool equivalent after the whole thing is described which isn't erroneous just a bit irritating.

Then there's minor things like "[Magus Archetype] gains one or more evolution points" where the 'or more' part throws me for a loop. Also minor is one archetype with abilities that function on a per combat basis which really irks me.

But it's not all bad news. Plenty of the archetypes function fine

I like the Fate's Edge. Its pretty precise when it comes to rules language and it has some neat abilities. It loses the enhancement bonus and gets a sort of future vision state that buffs it and allows it to use some other abilities. I absolutely love the Force Bulwark, an archetype that specializes in making force barriers. I even like the archetypes that have some kind of rules language that I don't like. You get a magus that can turn into a giant, teleport, create clones and so on, and really not that many are affected by undesirable rules language. The archetypes are imaginative and have strong ties to their themes. Not just that but they are actual themes not just ways to push a boring old magus that has a slight tweak.

The only ones that I really frown on are the elemental ones. There are two fire-themed archetypes here and while they do some cool stuff one. Then there is the Elemental Champion. The Elemental Champion is stable but relatively boring. It doesn't really solve the problem I have with elemental themed magi, in that its hard to find good touch spells for all the elements. But i could be suffering from being spoiled by other options. With other third party classes I have more than a mouthful of elemental themed gishes and even when just accounting for Paizo options there's plenty of ways to go elemental. This one just isn't doing it for me.

Following the archetypes are two new prestige classes. One is a magus/alchemist mix that specifically requires the Hummunculist Alchemist archetype. I'm not esactly a fan as it suffers from a bit of rules language I don't like for it's bomb-spellstrike and it was not exciting to me but it's otherwise functional for what it is. The other is a more nimbly magus. Rules language is still an obstacle. There's an obvious shortcut to what it does that the class doesn't take which makes the whole thing a little more difficult to understand. Its not one hundred percent functional but rules as intended is very clear.

We get one new feat that is a metamagic feat that interacts with fire spells. (Again with the fire)

Before OGL credits we have five new spells. All of them are pretty nice. There's a duo of, for lack of better terms, lightsaber spells that create a beam of energy that I really like. I especially like the one that causes weapons to burrow into a target's body.

This one I'm conflicted about. In most of the options the rules as intended is very easy to get and I really like the archetype options, the writers did an excellent job thinking outside the box and bringing to the table archetypes that matter and grant a new play experience. It is miles ahead of it's predecessor in every way. But on the other hand there are plenty of niggling rules weirdness making some abilities difficult to fully grasp without GM oversight, and some rules language that makes an ability non-functional as its written. I'll probably have to give this three out of five stars. It may creep up to a 4 star if you're perfectly fine with making additional clarifications but I personally feel like it's at 3 stars.


*****

The last Kineticist of Porphyra filled in some blanks allowing the Kineticist to grow to be as robust as other classes. These blanks were pretty obvious but now we get into the slightly odd choices and elements that expand a bit past the 'bender' feel of the class. This starts with the first archetype, the Divine Conduit, that is somewhat of a Kineticist given it's power through divine intervention. It has to be good, has an aura of good and gets 'Kinetic Smite', effectively a Smite Evil for Kineticists. The rest of the powers pull a lot from the Paladin in some way except for a growing DR. Overall it gets cool powers that are well worth what they give up; elemental defense and a few wild talents for a mount, healing, smite, a defensive boost and DR. All in all I'd go for it over any kind of elemental cleric for the streamlined theme. The Dragon Pact Kineticist is a bit hard to read being littered with exclusive wild talents that give it various dragon form abilities and breath weapon abilities making separating wild talent rules text hard to separate from class feature description until you run into a new class feature. once the whole thing is sorted out you're left with a sort of spell-less Dragon Disciple. I like it well enough where I'd put it above normal Dragon Disciple, again for the streamlined theme. The fusion Kineticist is a bit of a yawn. Nothing wrong with it but it's just a basic 'two elements at level one' kind of deal which is great for early levels but it's not like you're lacking in that kind of option at mid levels for normal Kineticist. Its a grid to fill. The Hex Kineticist continues the theme of side-jumping Kineticist into mimicking other classes, this one obviously being a witch. By now this habit gives me the feeling that the kineticists non-spell magic system is being used to replicate a pseudo-Spheres of Power effect. They get a familiar that can later be an elemental gun, and Hexes.

There are new elements. Poison and whatever Viscera is supposed to be. I had to google that and I still don't quite follow how a viscera 'element' is supposed to work. I'm going to go with 'gross body kinesis' based on what the element does, but the point is that we're getting deeper into the non-element territory of elements to manipulate/produce and leaning closer to Pokemon elements. Poison gets an acid blast and Viscera shoots bones I guess.(I'm thinking Marrow from X-Men). The new composite blasts are obvious given the new elements but the new elemental defenses being a bit cool and powerful but a little situational depending on what you're doing so no better or worse than normal elemental defenses. It does open spell resistance and rotating energy damage resistance which is nice.

The new infusion wild talents have some of the same criticisms I had last time. Some of the talents are pretty powerful for what they do and at what level although I have to say that all of the overpowered looking ones seem to have an insane burn cost. If you're set on using them they can end a fight pretty fast but you're not going to be doing anything too interesting later. These are mostly status effect kind of deals like dealing ability score damage or continuous damage (crippling to enemy casters). The utility wild talents are less extreme but definitely keeps kineticist on the path of a themed caster rather than a thing-bender opening up things like making zombies. It also kind of sets it off more anti-caster abilities like the ability to force concentration checks, counterspells and continual damage.

Between all the new wild talents there's a focus on beefing up the new elements but lots of elements get some love with some cool effects so you're going to have to go digging even if you're just a vanilla kineticist focusing on one of the main elements.

From there we have some new feats. Some things that are pretty fun. There's one that I have a bit of a thing against, mainly because it opens cans of worms for cross company utility talents than anything abusive I can think of within normal or Porphyrian Kineticist options. There are some new magical items. Well a lot. Some of them I had expected to already exist but apparently they don't so there's a bonus on that front. After that we leave off with a sample Dragon Pact NPC before OGL text.

I felt like Kineticists of Porphyra had the theme of grid-filling, expanding the Kineticist class to elements and archetypes that seem like a natural fit or a logical extension for the class. Meanwhile KoP2 goes a bit off the reservation with it's elements and if I were to describe a theme it would be a distinct hatred of casters. On one front, the archetypes creepily seek to replace other casters and replace them as doppelgangers. Despite lifting mostly from the Paladin, if you're good aligned the divine archetype is a suitable replacement for divine casters in terms of themes. Then there's the Witch and Dragon Disciple branded ones. On another front a number of the new wild talents replicate spell functions to the extent that you can even perform some necromancy. If you can sort through the fiddly bits you basically can replace all casting with wild talent 'casters' and the flavor remains untouched. Then there are the talents that outright do bad things to casters, numerous ways to deal continuous damage, spell resistance, good counterspelling. Its like the Kineticist not only wants the option to beat casters to a pulp but take their place as a less diverse but 'all day' caster.

Whether or not this is bad depends entirely on how you feel about the Kineticist in general. If you love the class and want it to be a bit more thematically or to do something other than being a blaster caster then this is a pretty decent product. It gives you new and exciting things to do and although I mostly did a single read through, I have not found any real problems in terms of rules and typos.

I would give this 5 stars out of 5. I have somewhat of a sarcastic tone with this product but it really does open up quite a bit and gives more utility to handle more esoteric problems and do cool things. This book kind of brings them up a bit past simply being an elementalist which does kind of bring it out of it's niche but also evolves the class a bit. During the playtest I felt like the Kineticist and it's Wild Talents felt like Spheres of Power-lite and I can definitely feel it here as the class branches itself. These are things that I really like, hence the five star rating.


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*****

Anyone Remember the Pathfinder Player Companion? Inside was a new feat type for Monks. I don't know about anyone else but for me those were terrible. Meditation feats, the feats in question, could be taken in place of monk bonus feats and represented getting bonuses for meditating. The entry feat gave you a one time +1 bonus to a roll if you meditate for one hour after 8 hours of rest. From there you can take more feats that give you different effects for the day that can be quite good or just offer another minor bonus. Then there's Combat Meditation which lets you meditate for a full round to gain instant benefits from other feats often with their own limits. I thought this was a neat mechanic but not much about it appealed to me because there weren't that many of them and there wasn't a real way to build around them. Plus I saw Combat Meditation and Meditation Master as pretty steep feat taxes for the kind of bonuses along the line.

Luckily Amora Games has release more meditation feats to let this new little subsystem play out, which is a great thing. The list of feats for monk bonus feats has always been awkward to me and meditation feats feel like a flavorful substitute that should have been a mainstay in the class rather than a small blip in a Player Companion. Potentially as big as style feats.

In Meditations of the Lotus we are greeted with all kinds of excitement. Self healing, the ability to cheat in a bunch of ki points, reroll will saves, use ranks as BAB (okay that's kind of dangerous.). There are some that interact with Grit, Panache or Stamina that I feel aren't really needed but if you're multiclassing then it couldn't hurt. As exciting this is I keep getting the feeling like these are going somewhere but aren't quite there, but I guess I was expecting something more outrageous and wuxia. At the very least more effective combat applications for meditations. The feats inside instead stay well within usual design paradigms and try to do the best they can. What I really want to say is that I wanted more monk fixes out of meditations but what I got isn't bad and can still be useful. Especially things that interact with ki since a ki ability intensive build needs as many of those as they can get. Overall I would give this 5 out of 5 stars. May of these I would gladly take with a few exceptions.


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****( )

Anyone Remember the Pathfinder Player Companion? Inside was a new feat type for Monks. I don't know about anyone else but for me those were terrible. Meditation feats, the feats in question, could be taken in place of monk bonus feats and represented getting bonuses for meditating. The entry feat gave you a one time +1 bonus to a roll if you meditate for one hour after 8 hours of rest. From there you can take more feats that give you different effects for the day that can be quite good or just offer another minor bonus. Then there's Combat Meditation which lets you meditate for a full round to gain instant benefits from other feats often with their own limits. I thought this was a neat mechanic but not much about it appealed to me because there weren't that many of them and there wasn't a real way to build around them. Plus I saw Combat Meditation and Meditation Master as pretty steep feat taxes for the kind of bonuses along the line.

Luckily Amora Games has release more meditation feats to let this new little subsystem play out, which is a great thing. The list of feats for monk bonus feats has always been awkward to me and meditation feats feel like a flavorful substitute that should have been a mainstay in the class rather than a small blip in a Player Companion. Potentially as big as style feats.

In Meditations of the Jade the feats are honestly not that exciting, at least in terms of combat effectiveness. There are a few that get cool and interesting, like the ability to spit poison, making a shadow double once a day, using dimension door, or detecting magic and invisibility, but others feel like they're more in there for flavor, like being able to switch styles in mid combat by using a swift action. I would say that half of them are nice to have or do something mildly exciting while the other half I wouldn't ever take considering that Meditation Master is already kind of a feat tax. This being a small book its hard to really judge because a few good ones can make the product good enough for most purposes and the low price tag doesn't hurt. I would warn customers not to get TOO excited but if you like the idea of monks getting a bit of divination and a bit of teleportation then this is a solid 4 out of 5 stars once you ignore the stinkers.


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This product from Legendary games was an odd treat for me. I've seen a lot of tech classes but not all that many variations come at once. Usually a tech class tries to be a catch all for the subject, much like an alchemist so there aren't many base classes that explore the subject. The opposite of this is definitely Psionics with a whopping 10 classes that deal with the subject of psionics. This product also tickles my fancy in another way. I am a big fan of Thunderscape: World of Aden and particularly the Golemoid class which the Cyborg reminds me of. It takes the technology of it's genre and becomes it making an exciting parallel.

The class is a medium BAB class with a d8 hit dice. It gets 6+Int ranks per level and starts off with the Technologist feat at first level. (There needs to be a line here to tell what happens when you get the feat when you already have the feat.) It gets an internal nanite matrix which is basically fancy talk for having a giant pool of points to support it's class features.

At first level, 4th level and every four levels after they get a modification. These modifications eat up magic items slots which is tragic but workable, but one bit that gets ugly is that I'm having a hard time figuring if they eat each other's slots, particularly when they only go for one limb in the description. This is very important information so it's a big minus unless my reading comprehension isn't too good today. Since I intend to use this for a scifi campaign where there are three races with more than two arms this gets extra weird. Some of the modifications impose a -2 Charisma penalty (Yikes!) instead of eating an item slot. Given that a good amount of the modification abilities cost one nanite charge and you get five more points per level you do quite a bit with your modifications and they are pretty powerful. One or two have some fugly wording though. One of the dermal implants requires energy to use despite needing nanite charges anyways and I'm not sure if the energy needs to be damage. Given that some damage types are small and only a cantrip away I'm not sure why bother with this energy mumbo jumbo and just have healing nanites for the price of charges. Some modifications need some clarification as to what kind of action is needed for them to be used. Some like the ones that affect ability scores, I can assume just kind of happen as a free action but some of them like Force Pulse Hand really need an activation time yet I can't find any mention of what kind of action activates these things. Unless someone can point out something I'm missing then this is a huge oversight. Past that the save DCs are frustratingly inconsistent. They all have a +10 but some add half the cyborg's level while some add the entire cyborg's level. Some add to the DC ability score modifiers, and some add tot he DC based on nanite charges spent.

Another thing I find problematic is the Humanity Loss class feature, which imposes a scaling Charisma penalty to get a bonus to up to four other ability scores. Given that you can't have -4 Cha and +4 Str this is a huge downside. Especially since you already have other sources in the class that lower your Charisma. This may be because I have a pet peeve against class features that start hitting your ability scores but I think this product relies on it too much as a limiter when the class isn't all that powerful to begin with. Besides that, the class doesn't even have a reason to use Charisma so it'll be a dump stat anyway. To me it's just arbitrary.

Tweaks are introduced after the class which is something I don't like. Tweaks are basically spells that are limited by what slots you have modifications in. These are handled a bit awkwardly. There are no spell slots, instead you use your nanite charges and you have a tweaks known list. But you have to prepare tweaks. There's a line that says that they only effect the cyborg even if it would affect others, I guess like alchemists, but with most of the spells that doesn't work right. Add to this my rant about new spell lists and you'll find that I don't like tweaks very much.

The rest of the book is pretty neat but overall the class has way too much wrong with it. Despite all this I love this class and it's just a few house rules and clarifications away from being a 5 star product but there's so much wrong with it as it's written that I'm pushing it by giving it 2 stars. And that hurts me just as much because at first glance I was in love but when I started looking at it deeper I felt like it was too awkward to use as is. Its easy to get what is supposed to happen or what should happen and it's a great addition to a scifi game but requires too much GM oversight just to function and balance.


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***( )( )

Since this product is pretty small, 21 pages counting the credits, introduction and cover, I can look at each class rather than my impression of the book as a whole.

The first class is the Aether Blade. Like a true martial it gains Full BAB and a d10 hit die. It also has good fort and will saves and 2+Int skills per level. The Aether Blade conjures it's own melee weapon and eventually can cannibalize magic weapons in order to get bonuses. Another important ability is an aura that it can use by the round (It scales similarly to Rage or Bardic Performance) which grants a scaling bonus to various things based on what kind of aura you want to apply. As it levels the Aether Blade can use the power of staves, rods, or wands for increasingly more powerful effects. Most of the rest of the abilities for the most part just give it numbers except from one class feature that basically gives it spells which I felt kind of put off by. It kind of feels like the ability makes it a 4/9 level caster but diminished when really we didnt' need to bring spells into the mix to begin with. Heck I would have rather seen another Arcane Paladin than a pseudo non-caster caster. The mechanical negatives are fairly minimal. There are points like the Aether Blade's enhancement bonus redistribution not having limits on what weapon properties can apply or having the usual rules language that govern similar abilities that make me nervous and there are questions I have whenever pseudocasting comes up in regards to spell completion effects, but that's about it. From a Flavor perspective I'm not particularly excited. It looks like it functions as a class but nothing gives me a reason to desire to play it over anything else with a similar gimmick that I could be playing. At best it's auras make it a unique gish-like class in that it can directly support casters when normally gishes are far from support classes.

Then there is the Shadow Blade. Another full BAB beef stick. The theme I've seen done to death but That can't be held against it. One of it's important abilities is it's Beshadowed Blade which grants a bonus to feint checks, which is important to activate it's strictly worse sneak attack-like bonus damage that activates when the targets is denied it's dex bonus. This ability gets some fuel from some talent-like options that start arriving at level 7. Beshadowed Blade comes at level 3 but it feels like just for the sake of making a centralized flavor and make it feel more diverse that could have come at level 1 and the talents could have come earlier and in place of the pseudo sneak attack. Since you do kind of want that damage on there it feels like the class want's you to be on the feint path of fighting which is kind of okay because I have some third party material that makes that work out okay but I'm not actually sure that it's really an effective thing to do with the core rules. The Shadow Blade does offer some options to make feint work without a million feats but since those are hard to come by you're a bit locked into some options since you have a lot of feint-based class features that you can't pick and choose from. The other really important ability is the ability to teleport through shadows. You only have a certain amount of feet per day to work with but if you go the Two Weapon Feint route it's a bit more doable, although situational. As far as I can tell this class mechanically works and nowhere am I stumbling to understand what to do.

The third class is the Verdant Blade. It has a retractable plant weapon that as passable wording governing it but some things make me wary about the rules language although part of it is for flavor concerns. for example; it takes root in the wielder's hand or wrist which makes me question how this affects the wrist or hands magic item slots. Other than that it's my favorite class out of the bunch. It has talents and 4 levels of druid casting but also has a cavalcade of interesting abilities like just macguyvering items together and planting seeds into creatures. It feels like what I would have imagined a Ranger would be if it were more of a magic nature warrior than a specific quarry hunter. Its also less of a damage dealer and more of a defensive debuffer with many of it's abilities either defending the Verdant Blade or obstructing an opponent without any real combat direction or damage boosts that most martials get.

The last class is the Vital Blade. Like two of the others it conjures a weapon but this one is made of blood. They also get a short pool of Blood Points that can be refilled with killing blows with the blood weapon or critical hits. I'm sure this will lead to bags of rats but the point pool is so small that there's no point so I won't see it as that big of a deal. It gains a list of talents it can take and on killing blows or by spending blood points it can get enhancement bonuses or weapon abilities (again no limit). The bonus gained is limited to the target's hit dice to avoid bag of rats tricks. Its probably the most concise out of the four, mechanics-wise but I've never been too keen on blood themes so its a net plus.

Following the classes we get archetypes for the classes. They all are pretty much mechanically sound and change their playstyles so they feel pretty necessary. This is followed by new feats, one seems like a no brainer that should have been printed in the core rules by now, two are specific to class features of the classes in the product and two feel like they'll do way more to help arcane casters than these classes. In fact two of the feats are pretty strong when used for Bloodragers and Bards. I'll have to see them in actual play before I can call them broken but they seem really really good. One gives you 1/2 your caster level plus casting modifier as temporary hit points as a swift action effectively making a Bloodrager way better at tanking than a Barbarian by having an HP buffer each round. Its almost like having an Invulnerable Rager DR in one feat. The other one gives you some extra land speed as a swift action based on caster level so another feat nets the bloodrager some fast movement too. Sure these feats eat up your swift action but that never stopped anyone from using Arcane Strike.

Lastly we get favored class bonuses covering the core races

Overall there's nothing mechanically wrong with these classes other than what I've mentioned and for it's price tag the product is offering quite a bit, but other than the Verdant Blade I just have this continous feeling that these classes aren't exactly necessary, in the sense that I don't feel very compelled to use them to drive a theme or play with mechanics. That's not to say that I wouldn't be able to have fun with them as none of them are overtly weak or unfun in some way but Verdant Blade is the only thing I'm really clamoring for that I feel couldn't be portrayed with the base game and when third party material is involved it gets much worse because I see their mechanics and themes all over the place as archetypes or classes that have more to offer.

If you don't have a lot of third party material or you don't have the money for other material this is a pretty good deal and I feel that these Full BAB classes are mechanically more interesting to play than Fighters, Paladins, Rangers and Barbarians. But they do offer a rather narrow focus to the point where I think the product could have condensed the concepts into two classes and I'd be more enthused with it. Right now I want more of the Verdant Blade and the rest just don't appeal to me over other options I have, even just with the base rules, to appeal to the same character concepts. I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars with a note that it's a very strong 3 stars.


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****( )

Another new product from Flying Pincushion covers a new subject for them; shops. The ole' Magic Mart is a strange place. Usually players just roll into town and roll some dice to see if what they want to buy is in the town. This series seems to want to make a store front that the players will want to come back to and interact with more than just picking up their supplies.

The marketplace in question has some crunch for the purchase limit and what they generally sell but also puts in a few other mechanics in there as well. You can barter unusual items, making for interesting quest material. You can also gain discounts and better sell prices for being a regular customer giving players incentive to come back. There are even a few quests to go on and an encounter that can kick off some events. It also includes a new magic item.

There are some points of this product that do throw me off despite liking the concepts as a whole. The owner of the Brass Dragon takes bartering and gives goofy quests that have odd implications that to me make me assume that he's a Time Lord but stats-wise is just a terrible rogue . As a source of boons or unique items the whole thing is a little lackluster. One thing about the Player Companion Magical Marketplace was that you could get a number of exclusive items and class features. Here the main resource is discounts and quests. Although, to be fair, my criticisms mostly stem from this product having the potential to be more impactful from an equipment perspective when in reality it's more of a fluff piece but even on the fluff front I get a lot of flavor out of the owner of the shop that doesn't feel like it pays out in regards to the quests he has lined up. I just have the feeling that it could have done or been more. It's there to give a bit more description to a shop and give reasons to come back and excuses to go on quests, although that leads to my biggest criticism that the quests feel like they describe mini enclosed events rather than things that lead into adventures your own adventures. There are typos here and there but nothing terrible or anything that ruins the whole product.

All that aside the product succeeds in a lot of ways. It does present a item shop with a reason to return and means to extend into quests that make the place more of an adventurer hub than something that isn't even role played out. My sense that it could probably need more fluff or more crunch is easily dismissed as irrational because it is a very similar to another product I love, Dire Rugrat's Tangible Taverns line. It does it's job and I can see myself using it as a jumping point for adventures.

In the end I want to give it 4 out of 5 stars. Its a good and functional product but I think that if it had more crunch or more fluff I would be way more satisfied with it, but for now I'll use it but I won't be jumping to use it.


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*****

This one is a bit hard to review. This is mostly because it's kind of more of the same from the previous Tangible Tavern I've reviewed so there isn't much I can really say about it. This one is one place with a lot more fluff and a lot more opportunities to wedge in a campaign but the same thoughts apply. Spoiler alert: I like it. But lets see what it's actually about.

This one is about Simon's (deceased) Dinner Theatre. A place costing a whole 2 gold to get in and only has the special and expensive drinks but also comes with a show. There are twelve plays described but really you can do any plot related thing you want. The dinner theatre is detailed enough where you'd want to use it in multiple campaigns so I'm already contemplating femme fatale divas relevant to the plot. There are of course rumors and events tables that are interesting but general enough to move whatever plot you have going. There are also NPCs along with their stat blocks so you aren't stuck having to dig around the NPC Codex or Dungeonmaster's Guide.

Its nice to have something in the ole GM arsenal for a place to get information and have a night out for the PCs that aren't perpetually blood and dirt stained hobos. There's always one party member that wants to participate in a bit of swank and NPCs that would want to meet somewhere more cultured than The Drunken Barfight. It's also a virtual idea factory capable of fitting into a lot of campaigns and inspiring new details about a campaign. I'm already deciding how to make it a central fixture of a campaign due to the amount of work it saves and the flavor it evokes. I can't really think of reasons to give it anything below five out of five stars. Sure it's not the prettiest pdf and Augustus is weirdly powerful for a tavern owner but my main criteria for whether or not something is good is if I feel compelled to use it and I really feel compelled to use this so it gets a full five stars and I'll get back to it at the end of the year to see if it's among my favorite releases of 2016.


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****( )

The subject matter in this one appeals to me a lot. This entry into the Into the Breach series from Flying Pincushion is a bit different from the rest. It is about NPC classes, something that I feel is underused throughout the game. NPC classes represent an easy way to generate some stat blocks to do a purpose and become thrown away because honestly NPCs will either die too quickly or their stats rarely come up enough to warrant going through the process of building them as a complex base class. Its too much work for their lifespan so anything that helps on that front is very welcome. Also they represent some GM only territory to help smooth things along, present unique challenges and make a character unique. So lets take a look at what Flying Pincushion does with them.

Starting with the Adept the first archetype grants more complex class features than what I'd care for on an NPC. Basically it can summon incrementally stronger construct out of a chosen elements. You're basically making two NPCs at that point but once they're statted out they aren't too complex. I do feel like just conjuring elemental from existing bestiary stat blocks would have been simpler so points off for that but those points come back because you can actually make an interesting encounter with this archetype. One thing that has to be said is that this archetype is way too powerful for the abilities it replaces, but I'm not counting this against it. Mainly because this is GM only territory so that kind of stuff doesn't matter. I don't even think that the summon construct thing even has a per day limit which is overpowered in the hands of a PC but with an NPC it is allowed to have these kinds of things.

The next Adept archetype is a cannibal that gets benefits from eating hearts and brains. It's simple and concise and is probably the best example of things that I want to do as a GM that I don't want players doing, or at least not with that specific ability. Its the kind of unlimited overpowered thing that is hidden behind an inept class so that players don't do it. After that is the Nun which is a support cure-y Adept, and a Vicor, a more Inquisitor-ish Adept that is way more varied based on it's domains. It also get some extra abilities based on what domains it has. The Aristocrat gets archetypes making it a nature cultist, junkie or tax collector. About the only one that I feel is less interesting is the first one but the other two have something about them that make them interesting to interact with or fight. The Commoner gets a woodsman archetype, an animal handler and a bum. The expert gets a locksmith, a crafter and a minstrel. The Warrior gets a savage, a peasant, a siege engineer, and an archer.

Following the archetypes is a new Alternate Class that is basically a merchant. I don't know what it's an alternate class for but it fills it's role basically enough as a new NPC class.

After that is an entire slew of new mundane items including weapons and armor which is basically inferior to normal weapons and armor and would be used by peasants and savages.

As a whole although only one archetype really became complex handling NPC classes via archetypes is more complex that I would liked. The archetypes themselves make the NPCs more powerful, which is okay with them as a GM tool but one thing that is actually sad about it though is that having them as hirelings or cohorts in the control of the player is a bad idea for some of these. This does not apply to all of them but they do basically make the balance different so they cant' be handed over without some forethought. I am also disappointed that NPC boons were not covered at all as that is design space for NPCs that rarely gets explored. That said The archetypes are more about flavor than anything else and certainly add abilities that increase their flavor and can make interesting fights or interactions with player characters. They are interesting and I will certainly use them when their concepts come up, I'm just not jumping up and down over what they bring to the table. Another bit of criticism is that there are typos here an there. They don't really ruin rules or anything and I'm overall dismissive of them because of the GM-centric nature of the product. Bottom line is that this gets 4 out of five stars from me.


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*****

After some fluff we get to a reiteration of the Android racial traits along with some extra alternate racial traits and regular ole traits. The 5 alternate racial traits are pretty good to me. There's a bit of difficulty with the wording on the divine racial trait but they do diversify the Android in terms of flavor. The same can be said for the fluff both before and after the racial traits. Between their entry in Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the Stars and their first appearance androids don't have that much flavor text so this was sorely needed. Beyond that the alternate racial traits opens up doors for classes that are generally hard to use with an android.

As I moved on to the archetypes and class features I noticed that this is the second BoHR I've looked at so far to support Psionics with a Cryptic and Psion archetype. The archetypes themselves are somewhat the highlight of the book for me as they take some classes and really make them a part of the race, more so than a lot of other archetypes that could be tacked on to any race without consequence. Same goes for the racial class features.

From there it's mostly the same as previous Book of Heroic Races. There are new racial feats, a new philosophy (as opposed to deity), spells and psionic powers, another archetype (weirdly in the religion section rather than the racial archetype section.) and android NPCs.

Like the previous BoHR this expands quite a bit but I think a lot of fun was had on the crunch on this one in a way that goes a bit beyond the previous entries I've reviewed so far. That doesn't mean the fluff is lacking either. A lot of space is put into describing how androids work in a world. Overall I think that it's a bit more far reaching and flavorful that the android options in People of the Stars, a book that I was very happy to get so I think this one deserves a full 5 out of 5 stars and I'm putting it on my list of potential favorites for this year.


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A while ago, Flying Pincushion released an addition to their Tides of War line covering volley fire teamwork feats. I had uses for it but really the language made the feats difficult to understand and in some ways the rules as written didn't quite work. But they have since released a revision so here is a retrospective for the new product.

Like the mounted combat feats before it, this Tides of War is very short, with about two pages of usable feats but the pictures reduce it to about one and a half.

The first feat, Group Fire, is simple. Declare that you are making the special attack (A full round action) and anyone close to you with the same feat can make a shot as an immediate action at the same target. This gives everyone a plus one to attack and damage for each attacker at the cost of the participant (aside from the initiator) being staggered the next round. Its easy enough to follow and worthwhile for a gang of enemies or even a single cohort since it nets you at least a +2. There's a bit of weirdness where technically with the wording you don't need an ally to get at least a +1 bonus but given that its one shot for a full round action its not that bad since anyone in their right mind will just make multiple attacks. In fact at least it's something to do with the feat when you don't have allies which is nice I guess.

The rest of the feats require Group Fire and interact with it. Some are obvious, like the clustered shot one, and some seem to be there to compensate for situations where you only have one participant for your group fire. This is nice to have if you're an Inquisitor, or at least I assume so. I question whether or not for the purposes of Solo Tactics the participating ally gets to make an attack, gets the bonus and so on. Given the wording the I assume that the Inquisitor would be the 'source' of the ability and thus starts granting actions but not bonuses. I'm not sure how this works when she would have an ability that calls out granting a bonus to someone or even the clustered shot one. I'm guessing this is why Volley Fire and other teamwork feats function by things happening to you or you doing something than granting actions to allies. Bottom line is that I'm not sure if this is overtly useful for an Inquisitor.

For everyone else this is fine. With enough participants you can increase the threat range of weaker enemies, cluster your shots, get other ranged abilities a chance to participate, and hamper flying creatures among other things.

Everything is clear and easy to understand, which is a huge improvement from the product's previous iteration, but I do think that the inherent nature of how group fire works mucks up any ability that assumes that Teamwork feats don't grant actions or directly affects allies. Being initiated by an action as opposed to the feat enhancing an action does this as well. Case point is how Volley Fire works. As far as I can tell, only Solo Tactics gets confusing with it as it only calls out that participants don't receive bonuses but I don't think the rules intend for it to be able to grant immediate actions. Other than that I would take a hard look at any class feature that interacts with teamwork feats just to make sure.

I want to give this 5 out of 5 stars because the feats do grant new things to do and get creative with teamwork feats while being easy enough to implement, but the very premise is on shaky ground because I'm going to have to check for how it interacts with things. Perhaps Solo Tactics is the only outlier and I just have to rank all of this as mostly useless to it, but with the Inquisitor being one of the main classes that actually uses teamwork feats I'd like to not be confused as to how these feats interact with it. I also can't shake the feeling that this is inherent to teamwork feats not granting allies actions or new things to do specifically because of stuff like this. If we ignore those issues then these work fine whether you're dealing with a cohort or have a group of kobolds that you want to be a bit more dangerous. In the end I'll give this a 'high' 4 out of 5 stars. There's a glaring issue but I don't think you'll encounter the issue in most circumstances that you'll use these feats.


*****

Since Occult Adventures came out I've seen a few products crop up to support the new psychic classes to bring them up to the bulk of options that other base classes enjoy. This product from Purple Duck Games is based on the Kineticist.

After some fluff to explain how kineticists work in Porphyra we kick off with new archetypes for the kineticist. There are four. Some are obvious ones such as the Elemental Avatar that controls earth, air, fire and water, and the Elemental Scion that focuses on one element. The other two feel like they represent the ends of the martial caster spectrum where the Cerebral Kineticist that gets mental buffs instead of physical ones and changes it's main ability score from Con to Int, then there's the Kinetic Duelist makes for a straight melee battler kineticist. The ones that need them, Elemental Avatar and Kinetic Duelist get some archetype specific wild talents to support them. Honestly I'm a little concerned that these types of archetypes weren't the first that Paizo made when I did some light digging to check for redundant concepts. Beyond the archetypes that needed obvious representation the same could be said for the new elements in here, Light, Sound, and Time.

The new elements of course come with a whole list of wild talents which take up most of the rest of the document, about 30 pages worth of talents. If the previous paragraph sounds like a lot of grid-filling, it certainly feels like it, and the wild talents follow the same route. Not that this is bad, particularly since these are grids that should have been filled from the beginning, but nothing particularly exciting happens if you're familiar with tropes of the new elements. If not then you'll have a blast (heh) because most of the effects are worth having making choosing actually pretty difficult. In some cases they're almost be too good since there are so many paizo wild talents that I'd gladly pass on. I'm also just wary about any status effect infusions since you risk handing out status effects like a witch hex only with more damage. Of course I could not playtest all of these as there are quite a few of them so for the most part I had to make guesses so your milage may vary. (As a side note, sometimes Kineticist Abilities are hard to judge. Comparing them to spells they resemble is one thing but you also have to take into consideration burn, burn mitigation, the fact that the Kineticist barely does anything outside of it's Kineticizing. ) Some you do have to suspend a bit of disbelief like Calming Tone, a utility talent that functions as Charm Person that's associated with sound. The Wild talents aren't limited to the new elements. They cover up to Occult Origins in element considerations which is nice.

After the new wild talents are a few feats the probably should have been printed by now. One to reduce how much burn you get and one to gather more energy among other very obvious ones. Then the product ends with a Kinetic Duelist NPC stat block.

This product seems to have some new and exciting things in it but it mostly achieves this by filling in concepts that I had expected to see in a Paizo book rather than something high concept and obscure. Especially things like Elemental Avatar due to the popularity of things like Avatar the Last Airbender. Sure you can achieve a similar effect with vanilla Kineticist but its not the same. But the fact of the matter is that Paizo did not print these concepts yet and these fit in pretty well without being trap options so the gridfilling is all positive leaving me with new ideas for characters and material to bring them to life, which is what a product like this is supposed to do. If I had an actual criticism it would be that I'm suspicious of how good some of the options are, or at least I would be if I had some faith that the kineticist chassis had a real way to abuse these things so I'm willing to give it 5 out of 5 stars until something comes up at the table.


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At this stage of third party Pathfinder product collection this pdf has a lot of competition. Early on I had the priority of bringing weaker classes up to snuff so I amassed a lot of products that support the Monk class, including new toys to play with and entire class rebuilds. The Monk Unfettered is another class rebuild with the goal of making the Monk easier to build and play and to make it worth playing.

Unfettered Monk looks a lot like it's original in basic form but of course it has some drastic differences. Since this is a class rebuild I'll go over it in order of new class features.

First of all not proficiency with all monk weapon group weapons so a boo there but not that big of a deal since that's the baseline I guess.

Instead of Flurry of Blows the UMonk gets 'Flurry'. This flurry is not tied to TWF in explaination. Instead it's a full attack that has one attack. As the UMonk levels they get more attacks scaling up to six attacks during a flurry, and since this isn't modeled after TWF all the attack bonuses are the same. Also they do not treat your level as your BAB so at lvl 20 you get six attacks at +15 BAB. In the end this makes flurrying less exciting early on but on most levels this equals more bonuses than negatives so as a whole it's more accurate even without counting your level as your BAB. In the end you're about as accurate as a Rogue but you have twice as many chances at the same attack bonus. That and it's a bit less complicated.

At the same rate as a fighter gets bonus feats the UMonk gets 'insights' which are essentially Monk talents. There's a bunch of them in the book that go all over the place. Some use Ki and some don't. If I go over them all I'd be here all day, so I'll just say that they range from okay to really really good. In general they're better than feats. They take the place of bonus feats meaning that some of them are the bonus feats normally granted but some do not specify whether or not you still need to meet the prerequisites so that's a bit of a bummer. Some insights grant two feats which makes me wonder about it's balancing point, especially when some are effectively three feats on a situational basis. Some Insights are 'deep insights' which means that you can only have one active at a time (scaling to up to three at a time) and you can change them up once a turn. Some of the deep insights are things that can be taken again to stack but would be scary if you just started stacking them too early or too often. I noticed areas where I don't know how they interact with some things making a few insights unusable but they're mostly all together.

And that's it for the brand new class features. From there it's feats and favored class bonuses. Nothing exciting and pretty standard. Then there are UMonk NPCs, which is handy, and new magic items. After that there are explanations and suggestions on how to fit the UMonk in your game including how to make it play with archetypes.

Finally there is an index for insights, something that I'm not sure isn't done in other products. Its basically a feat table for the insights.

Sorting out how I feel about the Unfettered Monk is kind of complicated. By the time I had it, I didn't need it anymore so I wind up having to compare it to other Monk replacements, including the Unchained Monk and it has a ton of things for and against it on that leg.

On the plus side, it takes archetypes in consideration to some extent meaning that it can play a bit nicer than other monk rebuilds. It also gives a lot of insights to choose from. The pdf is also beautiful with great art. Flurry is drastically easier to deal with than Flurry of Blows. Unlike the Unchained Monk it's 'talents' aren't tied to ki so you can avoid being ki starved and outright bad abilities.

On the down side, I think this is the worst monk at maneuvers I've seen. It has similar accuracy, AC and full attack dependency issues as the normal monk while at the same time some of it's insights are way more powerful than others making it difficult to pin down exactly how strong it can be. Soloing in a module it looks like it works out okay enough and can handle more situations than normal monks so it is an outright improvement. But I feel like I've seen better in terms of solving the Monk's problems. Also some abilities I stumble on because of a lack of rules language.

Looking at it as it's own thing its definitely a better monk. It takes a lot of what the Unchained Monk does wrong and does it better but it also doesn't fix thing that the Unchained Monk does. In the end I would feel like it's on par with the Unchained Monk but the Unfettered Monk is more diverse and the Unchained Monk is more devastating due to it's access to Flying Kick.(This does depend on how Flurry interacts with Pummeling Style. If Pummeling Style works with Flurry then the Unfettered Monk has a little bit of a leg up but the margin isn't that wide.) I really liked the Unchained Monk so I think I'm rating this at 4 out of 5 stars. Its pretty functional and is an improvement on the normal Monk but some moving sliding balance on some insights and some that are more difficult to use drags it down a mark.


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Here is another ARMR free class. This is the one that got me to take a look at the series to begin with. So what do we have here?

On it's most basic level its an Alchemist/Paladin hybrid. It has the full BAB d10 HD chassis with four levels of extracts. It gets an Elemental Smite; a butteloade of energy damage on melee attacks. It gets bonuses to saves against poisons and alchemy craft checks. It also gets bonus feats that can be used to access a limited number of alchemist discoveries. Their mundane alchemical items have higher DCs and they get a scaling energy resistance.

The chemist gets access to it's own exclusive discovery, and the pdf comes with three alchemical weapons. The weapons themselves are awesome but the weapon table is rather minimalistic so you're missing whether they are simple, exotic or martial and small weapon damage.

Well like the Zephyrus before this is mostly a big chunk of potential that feels like it doesn't go very far. Out of all the casting types Alchemy feels like it's in its own little niche, even with the Investigator around. Having a warrior alchemist is intriguing and the Chemist can certainly handle itself. Out of all the series the Zephyrus and Chemist are the only ones that have seen some play and the Chemist can get pretty tough since mutagen is involved. But of course this is a small pdf and so it gets only one exclusive discovery so mostly comes off boring after the first go around. The limited space for flavor doesn't help in that regard since the Alchemist can already be built to be a bit more fighty, disregarding that the Mutation Warrior Fighter exists.

That said if you don't have a product that covers it, the Chemist does come off as a satisfying alchemical elementalist that can utilize those crappy alchemical weapons you forget about by level 5, and it has a window of opportunity with it's discoveries for those kind of class features. It's technically a new play experience since you can use extracts on a much tougher character. Plus it settles my grid-filling instinct when it comes to casting types.

In the end the Chemist is a fun gimmick class that works and fills a mechanical niche but it has way more potential than actual substance. I would rate it as a 3 out of 5 star product for being so minimalist, but since giving it access to third party alchemical gear makes it far more interesting and it is free I'll push it up to 4 out of 5 stars.


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*****

When I first bought Paizo's Advanced Race Guide my wife immediately cooed at the sight of the art for gripplis. And who can blame her? The little squirts are adorable frog-men that you just want a plushie of and have the cutest name. Unfortunately as a small 6 race point creature and not much else to them, they are completely unappealing to play. Plus they have pretty much zero flavor text making them bland to boot. Well today I look at Fat Goblin Game's Astonishing Races: Grippli. I'm not sure what to expect, as I have only really seen four products from FGG, with things either being genius or terrible with nothing in between and I have yet to see how they handle underrepresented races.

The start is very promising with a much more lengthy description of the race. Seriously, there's five pages of fluff before you get to the racial traits. And the lore is very lovely detailing them as very sociable although as a result of crippling fear of loneliness. Adding to their general cuteness it makes you want to pick up and huggle the first little kermit you see.

When we get to the actual crunch we get a reiteration of grippli racial traits but also a sidebar suggesting to choose two extra Alternate Racial Traits to make them more playable which makes me happy. Interestingly the alternate racial traits come with their race point costs so that you can bring them up by the appropriate number. Like a lot of people I feel like the race creation costs are somewhat out of balance and I would never let anyone make a race from scratch due to this, so this is definitely a dangerous precedence but for the grippli alone it doesn't come off terrible with the racial traits being fairly mundane. Here I noticed a few typos (Like Vermin Hunter not making the word 'Attack' plural) but none that cause any confusion or will be noticed at first glance. Of course there are Racial Subtypes that describe types of grippli you can make using the alternate racial traits.

Grippli favored class bonuses are greatly increased in number and come with a surprise. Instead of that boring list of what the favored class bonus does there's some flavor text added. The favored class bonuses are exciting without them, and believe me they are pretty exciting, but its nice to get some flair with them.They also get an alchemist archetype, (not as exciting as the racial discoveries that come with it and boy are those a blast. One of them literally.) a Cavalier order, (Needs some Clarification to be useful.) and a Ranger Archetype, (not badly designed but nothing I would particularly take.). There are also new grippli mundane items and a monstrous mount in the form of a giant dragonfly, and new feats and traits. Most of the feats and traits are pretty mundane but some of them will make you want to roll up a grippli. The magic items, not so much although they are wonderfully written and are cute items and spells that draw out flavor. I can see these being handy for just encountering them.

The document ends with a table of random features. They have no mechanical purpose but again it's cute.

So the name of the game with this product is FLAVOR. I wanted more flavor but at some points this is way more wordy than it needs to be. This can definitely be a good thing because grippli in the base game have almost no flavor but this does mean that it's not a crunch masterpiece. It favors making grippli more adequate and worthwhile to play than loading it up with a lot of options. This isn't to say that there aren't useable options here, and really only one bit had me a bit confused as to how it worked, I'm just not jumping out of my seat to play a grippli over the crunch. I will be jumping out of my seat to play a grippli over the fluff though, which is really appealing here. As it stands the Crunch is valuable but not exciting and the fluff goes above and beyond.

As a PDF the book is ridiculously easy to navigate and is pretty and easy to read.

If you're going to play with grippli you're definitely going to want this if you want them to be playable or interesting. I rate it 5 out of 5 for bringing grippli up to a level of interest in playability that's worthwhile with very few hiccups along the way. Easily a Player Companion quality race book.


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Honestly I've only had merfolk in my campaign once but they have a lot of appeal. Like a number of races merfolk only get one page of material in the Advanced Race Guide and no entries in the Player Companion line so Jon Brazer Enterprises is taking a stab in another Book of Heroic Races book. The last full book had some bumps I didn't like but was still very good so I expect the same amount of quality this time around.

After some fluff text and some reiteration of the merfolk racial traits and alternate racial traits this product brings up groups of alternate racial traits with additions to form new sets of racial traits for racial subtypes. There are two new subtypes, Anglerfish Merfolk and Octopi Merfolk. Sadly there are no cool pictures of these subtypes. One thing that's notable is the alternate racial trait to be able to gain a human form and a gain a land speed.

Like the Changeling BoHRA, there is a discussion of how merfolk fit in a world and their relationship with other creatures and classes which leads up to some class options specific to merfolk. The options are mostly solid but some abilities from the Sorcerer bloodline that will leave your players asking questions that the book does not seem to answer. The racial feats and items are all good enough to take or buy making them worthwhile additions to the game. This also includes interesting mundane armor made of underwater material like shark skin and coral.

There is one new deity and some new merfolk spells. Surprisingly there is also a new psionic power, for those of you who are into that, which allows merfolk to adapt to land much like the Advanced Race Guide spell that does the same. There are also new magic items including an artifact level trident (of course).

The book ends with a bit of advice on using merfolk in your campaign and seven merfolk NPCs.

Compared to the Changeling BoHR, this one feels a bit lighter on the crunch and fluff, plus the class options aren't as exciting as I would have liked, but a lot of quality is maintained and like having NPCs, thematic items a the racial subtypes is a delightful addition. I also love the extra consideration of giving a land adaption psionic power. But overall it suffers from me reviewing Changelings first. Its not bad by any means but it's sister product brings a lot more to the table. Despite this There is plenty to use and a lot of little considerations that make merfolk more playable in a game. The items, both magical and mundane evoke a lot of imagination although the mundane items are definitely more exciting and interesting to see. In the end I will rate it 4 stars out of 5.


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*****

This one has been making it's rounds on the Paizo forums. For a few days I couldn't see a reference to Final Fantasy's Dragoon job without mention of the Zephyrus. Being free it's not hard to take a look at it and at least judge for yourself but if this is completely off your radar I would suggest checking it out.

Its a full BAB class with good reflex and fortitude saves. It's main class feature is a leaping charge and a leaping attack. Both have scaling d8s for extra damage but one is a full round action charge that deals a lot of extra d8s and one is a standard action that deals less d8s. Of course it gets a lot of jumping and charging class features to help it be more mobile and bouncy. It's High Jump Class feature adds it's level to Acrobatic checks to jump, Tactical Charge lets it charge through allies and difficult terrain and even through enemy spaces. It gets armor training as per the fighter ability. His charge speed scales up to +50ft at lvl 20. It takes less damage from falls.

They also get a bloodline like package called Lancets that allow them a significant skill boost, some bonus feats and some extra abilities abilities based on the Lancet's theme.

Overall, on paper it's a more 'neat' than amazing. Being less than ten pages worth of crunch it feels more lackluster than it could be. With just five Lancets it has room for diversity but overall pretty bland. In play, however, it's pretty fun. it plays out like an ambush diversion tank with the right feats. Close quarters is not as fun due to many of the abilities making you want to move a lot but if you have a lot of enemies that are scattered about you wind up being a pinball of death. Because of it's shortness I don't expect anyone to really give it a second glance but its worth playing at least once and I hope to see more of it since it's a solid class that has a lot of potential. In a previous article I noted that a lot of ARMR free classes were buckets of potential that needed more support. In the Zephyrus' case, more lancets, archetypes and probably some feats would be nice. On it's own the pdf does stand on it's own more other novelty classes I've seen to the point where if I could see it as a class that I'd play more than once. If I had something bad to say, it would be that I think Leaping Charge would need to be more defined, specifically that it being a type of charge I wonder if it lowers AC for a round, whether or not I'd get the bonus to attack rolls or any other benefits from charge related feats. Some of that information I had to extrapolate based on the other abilities the Zephyrus has which was slightly annoying.

For anyone wondering if this adequately represents the Dragoon from the Final Fantasy series; Well it's the closest thing I've seen so far. It jumps and drops a lot of burst damage which is close enough I guess. More importantly it's a simple but solid class that doesn't die at the drop of a hat and is useful as an ambush caster sniper.

So my final verdict would be 4 out of 5 for it being a solid class that grants a new play experience but needs a bit of clarification and some more options to spice it up, but this being free business and that it actually does look like a Final Fantasy Dragoon rounds that up to 5 out of 5.


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I have two sides to how I think of this class.

On one hand it practically has one class feature. Its a full BAB chassis with a good will save. it has it's animism, a class feature that interacts with his animism and a capstone. That's it.

On the other hand the class feature it does have is all kinds of interesting. It gets two kinds of aspect slots. For major aspects of seasons or creatures that have a scaling suite of effects based on how many aspect slots are invested in that particular aspect. The minor slots don't have the investment slots and each are an ability that can happen once per day plus an extra time every five levels. At 5th level and every other four levels after that it can swap minor aspects that have static effects or haven't been used so you can get a bit diverse without getting gimped.

The aspect system, particularly the major aspects and the investment mechanic is inspired and interesting, and almost every ability feels relevant, like they each add some power. A number of them are quite overwhelming, probably to make up for the lack of other class features, and you can make some devastating combinations so the class can stand on it's own legs.

But I have a hard time even accepting the amount of class features that the cleric has without being bored so the Animist feels like it really could have been knocked down to a d8 hit die and 3/4 BAB and gotten some more class features to spice it up. In fact I feel like I'd take aspects over the Hunter's spells and creature boosts, as the actual class feature feels like what I wanted Animal focus to do during the playtest and then some. The lack of class features or even bonus feats make the class not be able to interact with other parts of the game and feel lackluster.

I'd give this product 4 out of 5 stars. I know I have some harsh gripes with it but it really it's not bad, just feels a bit flat and its really a matter of taste. As I mentioned above, the cleric feels the same way and many people will still enjoy the cleric. If it could give up some BAB for some other abilities or something I'd be way happier but this is nice too.


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