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Gateway Pass Adventure Path Part 1: Brighton Road (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2017 11:18:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, before we dive into the nit and grit: To me, an adventure path is a campaign that covers the majority, at least 2/3rds, of an adventurer's career. I get why many a publication uses the AP-moniker, but personally, I'd consider anything less than that an arc. I know, I know, not too relevant, but I still felt the need to spell that out.

Anyways, what do Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Esoterrorists in station duty mode, Red Dwarf and daily sitcoms have in common? Simple: A central location. Many a campaign has a hub, from Lankhmar to Feeport and this location and its quirks and NPCs slowly grow upon the PCs, It's one of the points of criticism fielded against the otherwise excellent CotCT-campaign that the PCs had to leave their home. It thus should come as a surprise, that so far no series of adventures has really capitalized on the notion of the PCs really getting to know their home, their base, and defending it from whatever may come their way. This series of adventures, then, would do just that - the premise centers on two feuding fiefdoms, the Ottonians and Goodchilds, and a border fortress between them. The PCs, via one of various hooks, will be in the employ of the Ottonians, specifically, in the employ of the charismatic inquisitor Nathaniel Lyon, who has opted to reopen the Brighton road, for in the years since the road's closure, the area has become poor and destitute, with many a former soldier falling to a life of crime.

And this is pretty much as far as I can go without getting into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! You see, Nathaniel has begun covertly recruiting the less corrupted of the criminal elements, for he suspects something lurking...and how better to ensure plausible deniability than via a band of miscreant low-lifes? Opposed to Nathaniel's agenda would be the rebellion slowly engendered by one Robert Cornelius, who is using smuggling tactics and whisper campaigns to build his strength, all in the ultimate goal of ending the serfdom system that has ruined his life. The primary foe of Nathaniel would, however, be the armiger Cadwell Brunson, a former guardsman who has retained his bandit network and seeks to lead Nathaniel into an ambush and eliminate him for once and for all. So these three fully statted individuals would be the power-players here, representing the matrix of intrigue and machinations here.

The PCs, however, won't know any of this right away. Instead, this adventure will begin with a burning wagon crashing into the doors of the Starry Sky Inn, while the PCs are en route to reopen the Brighton Output. Dealing with the fire and bandits constitute an interesting first encounter, though one that does not feature a map or the like - granted, most GMs have a bunch of tavern maps ready...but yeah. In the aftermath of the combat, the GM gets a chance to introduce the PCs not only to the excessive poverty in the area, but also to a helpful witch named Rosin Sinti and their fellow guards, who come with brief, fluff-descriptions to set them apart. En route, tracking can help determine some pieces of information about the environments and a handy random encounter chart is included as well.

The outpost has obviously seen better days - it receives a nice b/w-map and the PCs will have a chance to start cleaning up the place, fixing roofs...and then there's the dead cleric outside, killed by a storm. Her spirit lingers in the officer's quarters as a haunt, guarding the children she sought to guide to a better life. The kids, all marked by poverty, can make for interesting sidekicks or, in some cases, potential apprentices/cohorts...for their home, the hamlet of Wassail, is one sans perspective for them. Beyond that, the PCs have a chance to deal with a shambling stalker and potentially find a secret tunnel, which may become relevant later. A handy table of 8 random events helps btw. establish a concise mood here. Speaking of mood: From dining to the sheer amount of information herein, the adventure takes a refreshing stance regarding that aspect - we take a bit of time, yes, but from tax costs to be levied to the NPCs, there is quite a bit of roleplaying.

This extends, btw., to day 2, where perceptive PCs get to notice a scout and his hunting crows keeping an eye on the outpost and have their first major social encounter, as they check the wares of Mr. Lilliputian, a dwarven diplomat. And indeed, the PCs can find various discrepancies in his papers...and several pieces of cargo he tries to smuggle through: Black powder weapons and baby rust monsters, to be more precise. (And yes, alternatives are included if you don't like blackpowder firearms in your game.) While in the end, when bribes etc. fail, Lyon does let him off with a warning, this still represents a rather fun encounter.

During the night, a guardsman, however, will have found a rather mysterious death, as his fellow watchman dozed the night away, which will cast a somber tone on Roisin the witch returning - she can act as courier between the output and civilization, offer healing and return every other day...she also has her own agenda, but precisely which, I won't spoil here. In the following days, the PCs will have a chance to deal with a shambling mound hunting in the vicinity. Beyond that, a local baker is probing the waters to come over once in a while to sell cookies, and a pig farmer asks for the possibility to leave some of her pigs she is bound to buy in Norwich here. It is such pieces of local color that make the place feel organic, that make players fond of it in the long run.

Lilliputian will return (and continue his smuggling), though this time, a man named Kier is following hot on his heels, arriving soon after the dwarf has passed through. Kier is a ranger, has no travel papers...and claims that Lilliputian is wanted for carrying contraband across territories. While he is not wrong, having no papers would make it within the purview of the PCs to refuse him...and a similarity between the attire of the man and that of the scout watching them should also make the PCs rather suspicious. When later, a wealthy merchant arrives, a subsection of Cornelius' men attempt to kidnap the fop in broad daylight, unaware of the strength of the outpost's folks (read: The PCs) - though their knowledge of smuggler's tunnels may help them escape. Later, the PC'll meet a hermit with, surprisingly, imperial travel papers, setting up an interesting mystery for the future.

On day 6, the PCs may get a day off, but the pdf still depicts, in detail, what actually transpires regarding the various NPCs that return. In the following days, the PCs will have a lot of choices on their hands: Do they help Roisin smuggle folks who can't pay the high taxes through the gate? How do the react to the disguised Cadwell, who poses as a Goodchild...and the man seems to know the hermit, who utters some warnings...Daniel, one of the folks, wants forged papers (and may slip off into the night as a deserter later); new guardsmen arrive, And indeed, from day to day, the intrigues subtly grow - trolls need to be dealt with, Kier returns, will-o'-the-wisps haunt the night, drawn by the sorcerous power within one person's blood..

Beyond further smugglers, wine merchants and a Romeo and Juliet-undercover-scene with the children of the rival fiefdoms, there is a lot to be found...interestingly, the latter may actually blow Cadwell's cover. At one point, a fight between heavy drinkers passing through on a gambling night may erupt into violence and Kier...well, he'll find a rather nasty end at the hands of a doppelganger, who is btw., surprise, up to no good.

Beyond aforementioned star-crossed affair is discovered by the hermit, he mentions several key facts about the environment to the PCs...before a frickin' CR 17 green dragon swoops in. And no, the PCs should not try to fight that beast...and instead perhaps establish a tithe or something like that? On their next day, the PCs may find a camp within the woods if the choose to escort the hermit, including several pieces of much needed loot...and encrypted papers...but they'll also have to evade goodchild guards.

Cadwell arrives on day 14, demanding payment from Nathaniel, for he has been blackmailing the inquisitor...and, depending on the PC's actions, he may bring grisly trophies along....and it his here that the PCs get to defend the fortress against the forces of Cadwell. How the adventure ends depends largely on the PC's actions - Nathaniel Lyon may well be hanged...or the PCs could keep him in charge, forgiving him his well-meant duplicity...though not all story ties have been closed...

The pdf comes with a high-res labeled .tif of the fortress and an unlabeled, high-res jpg. for use as a player's map.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not perfect -there are quite a few minor hiccups regarding punctuation. Layout adheres to a nice b/w-version of Rite Publishing's standard layout. The pdf features b/w-artworks for all key NPCs, though I have seen most of them before. The cartography is really good, but I do wish that e.g. tunnels, environments, inside of buildings, etc. had also been covered.

Greg LaRose's Gateway Pass is completely different from what I expected - this could actually, theme and atmosphere-wise, be an old-school Bandit Kingdom Greyhawk module, an OSR module or the like; it breathes this sense of antiquity, of a world at a declining stage in its phases, of a place that has moved on. This is a surprisingly low-magic, down to earth module that works rather well thanks to its very dense atmosphere, remarkable characters and details - the details, repetition of characters and the like generate a rather interesting, very organic and believable simulation of an organic world and appropriate consequences.

The level of detail, however, also means that this module requires that the GM tracks quite a few decisions, which, while not hard, could have been better laid out. You see, this is basically a LOT of text and the lack of highlights via bolding, references to consequences and the like can make the module slightly harder to run than it needed to be. I for example, had totally forgotten about the tunnel mentioned and had to look that back up. This module basically represents scenes, but doesn't concisely separate the rules-relevant aspects from the key-story aspects and agendas in the respective encounters - you need to know precisely how it'll work, particularly since, unfortunately, in two cases, an editing glitch of a typo-level made such a key sequence a bit more opaque than it needed to be - I was more than once both tantalized and surprised by some new revelation/note while reading a day's event. Much of this could have been avoided, if the adventure synopsis in the beginning simple featured a cliff-notes version of day-to-day-events for the GM: You know, like "Day 1: Event x, event z; NPC y arrives, NPC W leaves; if a) has happened, then c)."

I also think that the decisions the PCs make regarding smugglers, etc. could matter a bit more and that excelling at a given encounter/acting with tact and smarts, should yield a bit more rewards...but that may just be me.

So, in short, structure-wise, this is not the best module; however, its concept is pretty novel and exciting and the set-up is great. The best component would be the almost realistic atmosphere and (mostly) low fantasy-feeling nature of the proceedings, with the eerie and fantastic only sometimes rearing their heads...but when they do, they do so rather neatly. You can feel like a soldier in a dangerous wilderness, hunting trolls and slowly putting two and two together regarding the agendas and allegiances of the NPCs. In short: This series has plenty of potential.

I was, however, also kind of disappointed to not get maps for the inside of the buildings and the lack of a scale on the maps means that this is a module that's mostly intended for mind's eye-style playing, though in the finale, the works slightly less well than in the rest of the module.

How to rate this, then? I adore the atmosphere herein, as you may have noticed - it's my kind of gritty fantasy, of realism and simulated life; the module achieves the illusion of an organic world. At the same time, the module does have a few drawbacks on the formal side that drag it down a notch. Ultimately, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, though I will round up due to in dubio pro reo on this one. This is not a go-play module, but if you like gritty fantasy, this may well be worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gateway Pass Adventure Path Part 1: Brighton Road (PFRPG)
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10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2017 11:20:27

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

First things first: The magic items herein are intended as an expansion for the rather cool "In the Company of Genies", so if you want to get the most out of it, you'll need that pdf. It should be noted that these items also retain their value for non-genies. I assume in this review that you're familiar with that book; if you aren't feel free to read up on it in my review. I'll be waiting in the meanwhile.

...

All right, we're all on the same page now, so let's begin! The bracers of crystalline stillness can generate silence and, via a sufficient expenditure of earth empathy points, you can also duplicate flesh to stone, though the SP here generates crystal instead of stone...which translates to game over for your foe. OUCH. Thankfully, the item is pretty costly to reflect this power.

The brush of burning desires is a Outsider (water) bane iron brush that can create a major image that manipulates and fascinates the creatures it affects...and if you have fire empathy pool points, you can explosively dismiss the illusion, with penalties to the saves of those enraptured by it. Damn cool!! The cloak of the unbound helps resist binding effects as well as improving AC and saves versus elementals and outsiders. A whole different beast of item would be the element-infused breastplate - beyond being agile, the wearer may spend elemental empathy points to change the "mode" of the breastplate to that of the type of elemental empathy points spent - air increases movement and AC, earth yields DR and CMD bonuses, etc. - cool and flexible. Like it!

The fan of stolen breaths can take away a creature's ability to speak, with a thankfully non-scaling save to negate. Things become interesting when you expend air empathy points - then you can not only stagger foes by violently ripping forth their breath, you can also fire a violent, concussive burst of air with the stolen breath. Absolutely amazing! The necklace of elemental accumulation can store up to two points of elemental empathy (2 if you have the pool, 1 if you have Latent Elemental Power as a feat) - while points are stored within the necklace, elemental powers are improved, with two points also increasing the damage output. Nice. The pavise of soothing rains is a heavy shield of darkwood that can expand to a less cumbersome tower shield variant, hampering fire spells in a unique manner, mitigating spreads to bursts. Oh, and via empathy expenditure, you can combo-activate an AoE-quench, obscuring mist and heal non-fire-subtype creatures. Damn cool and yes, appropriately priced!

The ring of elemental knack is basically a container for an elemental power of teh racial paragon class, but underleveled characters risk mishaps when trying to unleash the power contained inside. Cool: The formulae for daily use determining ties into the point cost. Elegant. Kudos! The vessel of servitude, finally, can be used to enslave slain janni, exerting serious power over them.

Oh, and guess what? We once again receive one of the amazing, scaling legacy items, which, this time around, would be the mighty Eye of Janni featured on the cover - this powerful gem not only helps when dealing with animals, it also unlocks elemental powers, an animal companion at -5 levels...and at 8th level, allows the janni to temporarily change the dominant element. Woa, now that is damn hardcore...as befitting of such an item! Higher levels yield attribute bonuses in noble form, a 1/day low-level wild-card SP, drawn from pretty much all sorc/wiz and druid spells with an energy-descriptor and an element-based variant evasion that may even restore elemental empathy. As a nitpick - the latter should have a caveat of daily uses or something that prevents cantrips or minor elemental effects to be used to fully recharge the elemental pool. Then again, I am nitpicking here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on both a formal and rules-language level - Jason Keely did a great job here. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf doesn't sport detailed bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf sports two nice full-color artworks of items, both of which I have not seen before.

Wendall Roy delivers big time here - the items, with the exception of the slightly less impressive cloak of the unbound, universally are interesting, do mechanically innovative and fun things and often sport amazing, high-concept visuals. Brush, fan and pavise in particular are glorious and warrant the VERY low asking price on their own. In short: This is one nice, well-crafted pdf sporting mostly excellent material, with only one item feeling a bit less interesting and one potential high-level cheese in the legacy item. Summa summarum, we get an amazing little pdf, a must-have option for fans of the superb genie file. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Genie Magic Items (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/04/2017 04:56:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for the by now legendary pdf that lets you play a cube of slime clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Oh boy, and there we go - not only does this begin with an expanded, longer version of the original booklet's slime-sound, this metadventurer prick that has been annoying me in my review of his book and its product discussion...now has actually started creeping into the file. WTF? Anyway, ignore his biting remark on the none-too-clever opening joke. I'll take his pizza-rations away and see whether I can starve him off my couch.

But I digress. Back to your regularly scheduled review. So, was playing a hunk of slime not ridiculous enough for your taste? Did you think "Oh boy, I need this to go one step further!" - fret not, for this pdf actually delivers just that with the Mythic Gelatinous Cube Paragon Path.

Let that sink in.

The path only gets access to universal path abilities and the path abilities it features are treated as universal 1st tier path abilities. With mythic adventuring buddy, the cube can suppress its detrimental effects and may, as a movement or 5-foot step, move into an ally's square, displacing the ally to its previous position...which is actually a pretty cool and well-executed ability. Quicker ooze empathy would be covered and the vast variety of ooze abilities now come with mythic iterations. Better sticky pseudopods!

More uses per round of amorphous dodge, powered by mythic power. Using corrosive secretions to destroy stone (we'll take the shortcut through the dungeon!), making improvised tools of slimy resin, adding temporary hit points to itself and the duplicate generated via fission...and have I mentioned being able to ignore serious amounts of acid resistance and even partially immunity? The latter is a bit weird, for the target creature still takes half damage, which means that immunity to acid could be potentially worse than acid resistance, but oh well - that's arguably a numbers game unlikely to happen in actual play.

A doubled slam dance, an end to speedy expulsion's cooldown, gaining an AoO (both original and split) versus the creature that split the cube...there are some actually tactically viable and intriguing options contained herein - even if you don't want to play one, as far as GMs are concerned, oozes can greatly benefit from several of the tricks presented herein, adding some serious scavenging potential to the mythic path.

A pretty wide open ability also allows mythic gelatinous cubes to absorb various magic items and transmogrify them into a new one. The guidelines here are pretty concise and the GM thankfully has the last word, but this still would be an ability that warrants close monitoring by the respective GM - not due to a botch by the writer, mind you, but as a system-inherent consequence of the design of such an ability.

This is not where the pdf ends, though. In fact, I love where it goes next. To paraphrase the flavor text here:

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

Mental glub.

heads explode

Introducing the ID Ooze archetype for the gelatinous cube paragon class! Yes, you can now play a psychic slime! At 1st level, the archetype grants Psychic Sensitivity and at-will instigate psychic duel as an SP. It has an effective manifesting level equal to 1/2 level (minimum 1) and uses Cha to govern the saving throw DC. The gelatinous cube may suppress an ooze ability until it rests for 8 hours to gain 2 MP. This replaces ooze empathy and 2nd level's ooze ability. Starting at 7th level, the ID ooze can add anesthetizing slime's effects to an offensive manifestation, with different effects than the usual ones. This, however, replaces growth. 12th level yields fast healing in psychic duels, though, to prevent infinite healing, only damage incurred in a binary mindscape may be healed thus. The fast healing improves over the levels.

Beyond this interesting specialist, we go one step further with shape flairs - these would be a type of archetype for the racial paragon class, which replaces ooze empathy and anesthetizing slime - a total of 5 such flairs are provided, with cone-shaped gelatinous slimes being first...and beyond getting a spear-like tip, they have a VERY powerful ability that lets them act as a lightning rod upon a filed AoE-save and fire the effects as a ray after that. Oh, and if you're in the cone zone, you'll provoke AoOs when leaving it. Cylinders are smooth in movement and gain both Redirect Attack and free repositions versus smaller foes, among other things.

Dodecahedron shaped oozes get d12 HDs...and is basically a funny way of making sure your d12s get ample of use: They move faster and may substitute attack roll d20s for d12s, which is extremely potent for crit-range enhancers, obviously. Substituting d12 for slam damage and gaining a nauseating strike when you roll a 12 sans modifying it makes for a funny and interesting option. Pyramidal slimes are really good at Bluffing, being four-faced and all. They also may demoralize undead (resembling pyramids) and at the higher levels, they gain the dread ability of the pyramid scheme to siphon the luck of unfortunate demoralized foes. Worse: If a creature is conscripted in two different such schemes, Ponzii, dread Duke of Hell gates in and starts unleashing havoc on all present.

Finally, the extremely smooth sphere would be the final shape flair, which gains superb mobility and at higher levels, missing the sphere can incite a horrid rage (Yep, the ability is called "They see me rollin'" - XD); finally, at 17th level, the sphere can temporarily turn black and almost annihilation-level nasty...which is something I feel the strong urge to inflict on my players ASAP.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice piece of full-color artwork. The pdf has basic bookmarks, which is a nice feature considering the brevity of the pdf.

Wendall Roy made me laugh more than once with his expansion of gelatinous cube options. Now I would not consider all of the options provided herein perfectly balanced....but we're talking about a gonzo game wherein playing a gelatinous cube is actually an option. Now, with this pdf, you could conceivably run a module wherein the PCs are all transformed in gelatinous cubes/cones/cylinders/etc. and for such a one-shot, this is absolutely glorious. In fact, while the d12-crit-ability is pretty strong, for the purpose of actually playing the cubes et al., this makes for a pretty amazing supplement.

In short: This is an amazing, fun way of expanding the options of the base file; it is extremely affordable, well-crafted and even innovative in some of its rules-modifications. In short, this is an excellent pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 06:06:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the amazing "In the Company..."-series, my go-to-series for playable monsters, clocks in at a mighty 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

We begin with a gorgeous image of a letter, representing the correspondence of Pers Veilborn with Qwilion of Questhaven, contextualizing the pdf within the context of the series in an awesome hint of a frame-narrative. Speaking of which - in case you are not familiar with the series, let it be known that you're in for a treat: The installment thankfully follows in the tradition of the pdfs, as it depicts the introduction to the race herein, at least partially, from the in-character perspective of its members, making the pdf actually nice to read. (So not kidding you - I read a lot of racial pdfs and most are DRY. This is not. This is actually something you want to read.) While the narrator this time around is less opinionated and more laid back and neutral in his descriptions, the sections still deserve being called prose and represent more than just an accumulation of game data.

Beyond the vivid prose, the introduction, the recap of the culture and peculiarities of the genie-mindset serves another crucial task, namely to contextualize and elaborate the very mindset of the race in question. In this instance, it is not any being that narrates this pdf, but the very last lord of the janni - and thus we learn of the proxy wars that have almost undone the equilibrium that our world requires to prosper; and indeed, the lord seems to have closed the pass in a final act of preserving our world; has left agents to help us withstand the elemental onslaught of the genie, if push comes to shove.

The jann are made of the stuff of this plane, yet distinct from it and the origin myth for their race - it is also via this origin myth that the concept of the trapped janni is explained in a metaphysically concise manner that makes sense within the context of the game. Similarly, their behavior and role on both elemental and material planes is elaborated upon and helps picture the race within the realm of the game world's cosmology. The level of detail we expect extends to the janni and their interactions with adventurers, faith and society, allowing for a pretty detailed starting point for any players electing to play a janni - which is amazing and something that should frankly be standard: Races are more than just an accumulation of dry stats and have so much more potential, need so much more to feel distinct. From all of these to nomenclature, the fluff presented is nice and evocative indeed.

But what about the crunch? Janni receives +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, are Medium native outsiders, get low-light vision and choose a dominant element at character creation. Their diversity is represented in an array of racial traits, two of which are chosen at character creation. These sometimes interact with the dominant element chosen and include bonuses to atk and Knowledge versus the efreet, superb adaptation that makes it easier to blend into larger communities, element-dependant bonuses to skills, elemental-dependant caster level bonus, natural armor, darkvision 60 ft., skill-check-bonuses while near large bodies of water and the like - and yes, even RP-based scavenging of other race abilities - though in a limited capacity. The base race, in short, is perfectly balanced and can work in any high- or low-fantasy context without any snags. Big kudos! Also: Age, height and weight table is included in the deal. The favored class options presented include core and APG-races, magus, bloodrager, kineticist and vigilante, tie in well with the race's themes and do not sport any problems.

All right, that out of the way, let us take a look at the racial archetypes contained herein, the first of which would be the Jann Fury bloodrager, who is locked into either the destined or elemental bloodline, but also gets to choose a jann path from the list available to the jann racial paragon class - said path must correspond to the element chosen or be the true jann path, gaining the listed class skills.

Let's make a quick detour here to talk about these paths. The racial paragon class chooses one such path at 1st level; these paths each add two class skills to their list and determine the type of points contained in another class feature, the elemental pool: The path of Djinn, for example, adds air empathy points. These elemental paths behave somewhat akin to bloodlines in that they provide a so-called path inheritance at 2nd level and every even level thereafter up until 10th level. To retain the example of the path of the djinn, we begin with +2 to initiative at 2nd, + class level acid resistance at 4th level and 6th level allows for the option to concentrate and remain motionless for 3 rounds - if the character does, he can pinpoint hidden corporeal creatures and may extend this sense even around blockages, provides she could bypass them. 8th level allows for 5-foot-steps in difficult terrain and 10th level provides the limited ability to assume a whirlwind form for a scaling number of rounds per level. You're no doubt noticing that the abilities actually provide some cool tactical tricks and this indeed extends to the other oaths: Fire damage for AoOs, ignoring limited amounts of fire resistance, vortex form and a combo of bull rush and grapple can be found...oh, and what about bull rushing foes into the earth? The janni choice is the most flexible of them, obvious, but also has the least raw power, with high-level options allowing for prolonged existence on the elemental planes. How? Well, they get to choose their resistance. Pretty cool.

However, the path is further entwines with the racial paragon class - you see, starting at 10th level, the jann paragon may cast plane shift 1/day as a SP and is furthermore considered to be a noble specimen of the respective race. At this point, the chosen path further determines the ability unlocked - which, in this case, would be the ability to assume an alternate form while on the corresponding elemental plane; in some cases, the ability also bestows passive always-on benefits like a swim speed and the ability to breathe underwater. At this halfway point, the benefits of the chosen path also change: From here on out, at 12th level and every 2 additional levels thereafter, the jann gets to choose a so-called noble inheritance from a list provided by the respective path. In short - these behave more like talents. The noble inheritances include the respective energy immunities, select SPs to conform with the noble genies and upgrades, like a better vortex form, but also sport e.g. fire-to-fire teleportation, causing tremors and the like. As a minor complaint - some abilities build upon other noble inheritances or elemental powers and don't require their prerequisites to take, which can leave an inexperienced player with a dud-choice if they don't read the pdf properly. That being said, since they are unlocked at 12th level, a player at this point is not inexperienced, hence this gets a pass.

All right, got that all? Great, let's get back to the jann fury for now. Instead of the bloodline power of 1st level, the jann fury receives an elemental pool with the corresponding affinity and also learns one elemental power from a limited list - more on those concepts later in the racial paragon discussion. 3rd level yields the 2nd level path inheritance of the chosen path, with 7th level providing the 6th level path inheritance and 10th level providing the 8th level path inheritance. Starting at 13th level, the bloodrager receives a noble inheritance, plus an additional one every 3 levels thereafter. This does eliminate blood sanctuary and DR. 4th level yields the 1st level bloodline power and the 4th level path inheritance, but eliminates the 4th level bloodline power. Bloodrage is gained at 4th level and at -3 class levels. 13th level yields the noble janni benefits instead of 13th level's bloodline spells and 16th level's bloodline power and 20th level replaces the bloodline capstone with that of the racial paragon class.

The second archetype contained herein would be the primal weaver kineticist. These guys gain the same diluted path ability as the bloodrager archetype, modifying class skill selection. Elemental focus must correspond to the choice made here and at 7th and 15th level, the primary element must be chosen as expanded element. At the lower, even levels that would yield path inheritances, we receive those instead of the utility wild talents. Instead of metakinesis (quicken), the character receives the noble janni ability. 17th level replaces metakinesis (double) with a noble inheritance and 20th level replaces the omnikinesis capstone with that of the racial paragon class. The archetypes, while flavorful and tied in well with the base class, did not absolutely blow me away, so let's take a look at the racial paragon class now.

The jann class' framework is powerful: Full BAB-progression, 6 +Int skills per level, d10 HD and good Ref- and Will-saves as well as proficiency with simple and martial weapons...but not with armors or shields. Now, I already mentioned the elemental pool: Gained at 1st level. This pool contains 3 + Class level elemental affinity points. While the jann paragon has at least one elemental affinity point, he can, as a swift action, use detect magic or conjure forth images and shapes from nearby elements...which is a nice, flavorful ability.

Beyond the aforementioned path and its benefits, the class also gains elemental powers - the first is chosen at 1st level and another is unlocked at every 2 levels after 1st. Elemental powers represent active abilities that are supernatural or spell-like abilities, with a save DC equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier, if applicable. These abilities require the expenditure of the respective elemental affinity points: In order to use elemental powers that require fire empathy, you need to, obviously, be able to use fire empathy points, with costs ranging from 1 - 3 points. Elemental powers with a cost of 1 point can be activated as a move action, while more costly tricks require a standard action to activate. Thus, the choice of path also influences the choices available here. However, quite a few of the abilities featured in this selection are available for multiple paths, allowing the janni to pay the cost in one of multiple affinities. These choices generally make sense: Control water requires the use of water affinity points, for example, while control weather can be paid for with either air or water affinity points. Beyond the obvious, offensive fire burst and similar options, you'll also find some unique options - like the ability to control the density of water to keep people afloat or make them sink, so depending on your priorities/build, you can actually provide some unique utility options. At range combat maneuvers via earthen hands or bursts of air also allow the character to engage in some soft battlefield control. Conjuring forth elemental shields or turning into scaling elemental body shapes. Choking others, dealing minor damage or adding a debuff can also provide some hard controlling actions, while creating clouds of elemental energy or mounts allow for further modifications and interesting options - and yes, elemental walls are similarly included, should you require hard battlefield control. Basically, these limited resources allow you to engage in pretty potent tricks, yes, but they do feel balanced within the context of the class. The capstone lets you assume the noble form of the noble janni feature for an indefinite amount of time as well as plane shift at-will.

The pdf also includes 5 feats: +2 elemental pool points, an extra elemental power and a 1/day reroll versus charm, possession, etc. can be found. Another feat yields a kineticist's basic utility talent of the chosen element and a final feat yields a latent elemental power than that may be used at -4 class levels, a total of 4 - elemental power point costs in an interesting twist on the formula of such feats. Basically, it lets you gain an elemental power sans point costs, but with a hard cap of daily uses.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant issues. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's nice and easy to read two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with nested bookmarks and all. The pdf is full of really nice full-color images I haven't seen before, making it aesthetically pleasing as well.

It's been too long since I had a book by T.H. Gulliver in my hands and it's nice to see that some things don't change: For one, the flavor of the janni-race herein is awesome; and while I wasn't too blowna way by the racial archetypes, at least they did tie in with the unique options available for the race. The racial paragon class, the heart of this pdf, is flavorful, evocative and fun and has a nice selection of unique tricks that allow you to play it in widely different ways: You could play these guys as dangerous skirmishers, utility warriors, martial battlefield controllers...and so much more. The base chassis looks incredibly strong, but thanks to the structure and nature of the talents, the class plays in a fun, yet not overpowering manner. Oh, and I have seen A LOT of elemental -themed books. To the point where I'm frankly, at least for the most part, very sick of them. This does not hold true here - the class actually manages to cover some new ground in this well-tread field - so yeah, what more can you ask of a pdf? This is a well-presented, well-written, fun way to actually play a genie - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Genies (PFRPG)
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10 Rakshasa Magic Items
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/08/2017 09:16:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little pdf clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so what is this?

Well, these would be items for the, in my opinion, most awesome "In The Company of..."-installment released so far, the amazing book on playable rakshasa. I assume that you're familiar with it in this review...and if you aren't, be sure to check it out.

So, what do the items do? Blazing Spectacles net you burning gaze and if the wearer has a predation pool, hungerfire eyes as well - increased in duration, if you already have that predation. The circlet of crawling consumption outlines the prey of rarefied taste in silver, allowing for the tracking of the path of sin of a target through a population. Those with addictive feeding can enjoy synergy here. Leaping Hare is a powerful club, but alas, sports several glitches - the weapon's not italicized and the write up sports several confusing notes, probably remnants from pricing it: "4.5K, 4K," etc. - those should have been caught.

Links of Binding impose penalties on saves vs. abjurations on those hit and decreases, if present the cost of defense of the hunting grounds. The perfume of courtly nibbling can be nice for more discreet yaksha indulging in rarefied taste - instead of killing the prey, it receives 3 days to shake off the negative level and avoid death...which can also make tracking the predator harder. The Meat Hood of the Frugal Gourmet can indefinitely preserve humanoid corpses and support weight when pressed to a surface. Less utility-based would be the Rajaadharma staff, but in an AMAZING surprise, it not only enhances compulsions versus specific targets and sports some spells, it is also particularly potent in the hands of a vizier - yep, this is actually an item that is more potent in the hands of the amazing Akashic Mysteries-class. Nice!

Ravenous tongue of Meghanada is a powerful urumi (not properly italicized) is a raksaha-only, very hard to use whip-sword that bestows negative levels on those hit, heals its wielder and can even provide nourishment for the wielder...which, generally, is damn cool. Oh, and it can't be kitten'd effectively. Nice job! The expensive smoking jacket of deceptive light allows for move action maintenance of illusions as well, as, predation pool provided, enforced rerolls of saves...and some spells in a can.

The pdf also includes an item-class, the broken spirit bag, which comes in 5 iterations - they are basically gris-gris bags that can be used by yaksha with rarefied taste that kill humanoids to not gain sustenance, instead channeling the life-force in the bag, storing predation points, which can then be used to power predation abilities. Cool: They don't necessarily occupy an item slot, but if they do, they're less expensive. See, and that's how you make a mechanically boring item amazing via great fluff and cool tweaks...kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally good on both a formal and rules-level, though the aforementioned glitches could have been avoided. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but at this length doesn't need them.

Wendall Roy delivers here - the items are universally reasonably priced for what they offer and flavor-wise, are FRICKIN' AMAZING. That being said, unlike most installments in the series, we don't get a quasi-artifact legacy weapon this time around, which is a bit of a pity. The series' items also tended to have various iterations in potency that you won't find here - so this is, as far as the series is concerned, more conservative than other installments. At the same time, the content oozes flair and panache and made me grin from ear to ear. While the glitches make it impossible for me to bestow my highest accolades, this still is a great purchase for a more than fair price, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Rakshasa Magic Items
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Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:19:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 8th installment of Rite Publishing's spiritual successor to Dungeon magazine clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to being prioritized by my patreons. Additionally, I received an early access iteration, which allowed me to complete actually testing these modules prior to release - one of the reasons you're seeing this review so relatively close to AQ #8's release, in spite of the issues that have haunted real life for me in the last couple of weeks.

We begin this installment, as always, with an editorial by Robert N. Emerson - and it is here, I'd like to echo his sentiment: The former commander of Rite Publishing, a great friend of mine and a visionary author, Steven D. Russell was taken from us this summer. It is his wife, Miranda Russell, who has taken the reins of Rite Publishing and done so with an aplomb and grace that is, frankly, extremely amazing. It is my firm conviction that Steve would be proud of the "Rite way" of gaming not being lost.

Anyways, you know the drill - this book contains modules and as such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with Haakon Sullivan's "Race for the Cage", intended for characters of 4th level. The small village of Kingsden was terrorized in the past: A strange entity was killing people - then, a witch came and the murders stopped, her endeavors obviously successful. Thus, this unpleasantness sank into history's obscurity. Now, as the PCs happen to travel through town, the murders seem to have resumed - the first victim being a poor dwarf, but why him? Well, there is a good reason for that and the PCs will soon be pointed towards the truth, an abandoned wizard's lab, which may, according to a local poem, contain the dread beast. After this brief intro (which took about 30 minutes of asking questions and the like), the module proceeds to...well, take no prisoners: Two paths lead towards the goal within the complex: And one is collapsed by the death cultists, who are on a sacred mission to once again unleash the beast that stalks these realms.

From here on out, the module becomes a race: The PCs have 6 minutes to reach the end of the gauntlet of traps, puzzles and challenges - plus 1 minute of out of game discussion per room, at least that's the suggestion. If you enforce this hard time-limit, then rest assured that the sequence of interesting obstacles will push the PCs hard: In one room, for example, a flesh golem remains - a foe beyond the capabilities of the PCs to defeat...but it is still connected to tubes and wires...perhaps the PCs can use those funny-looking levers to defeat it...If the PCs do lose the race, they'll have a hard time - a vampiric spider would be the insane beast the cultists seek to free, but once again astute observation can help the PCs prevail against this overwhelming boss. Success in the race (surprisingly difficult, mind you!) renders the finale pretty simple, obviously...but frankly, if you're a bastard-GM like moi, you may well choose to spring free this boss still...

A highlight since the inception of Adventure Quarterly, at least for me, would be the post-modern mega-dungeon-crawl Ruins Perilous: This complex was created by Questhaven, city ruled by adventurers, and progress within this dungeon can actually enhance your status and increase your standing within the city's strata. As such, the complex has a very unique feeling, both one of a supremely dangerous obstacle course and one of a constructed dungeon that is a dungeon for a dungeon's sake -and still retains the feasibility and internal consistency you'd associate with such an artificially created dungeoneering environment. #7 sported one of the best levels in the whole run, so let's see whether Mike Welham's 6th level of the complex, the Test Lab, can maintain this level of quality!

I was speaking of internal consistency - and indeed, there is more to the adventuring life than murder hobo-ing through scores of hapless dungeon dwellers; as such the Dungeon Dragon in charge of this complex has made this level a proving ground for adventurers that focuses on more than just "I hit it with my weapon of choice" - the theme here is the solution of problems with both brain and brawn. With passwords, pure strength, skill or willpower, the PCs can enter the first section of the level: And, indeed, there are 4 wings that lead to the final challenge: Each wing requires a different skill set to complete: One for physical exertions, one for stealthy tricks, one requiring willpower and one that rewards keen wits.

The respective challenges in each wing are intriguing and creative...and slightly more deadly than you'd expect, for a cadre of disgruntled ratfolk of the groundskeepers ultimately made the level even less pleasant. Now, if your players are REALLY good and if you are similarly an experienced GM, I'd suggest making each wing only available to the respective, fitting characters. While this eliminates the otherwise really pronounced replay value of the dungeon, it also lets you experience the totality of the level...and frankly, it's so damn good it's worth it. Beyond the potential to use the disgruntled ratfolk as combat encounters, the place, as a whole, is simply an inspiring experience to play through. Taking the leitmotif one step further, actually activating the guild forge requires the use of a complex, evocative machinery. Frankly, I could rattle off the challenges the PCs will face, but that would do the genius of this glorious level no justice.

The third module herein would be the Vault of Shaju, crafted by Craig Campbell and none other than Ben McFarland, is intended for 9th level characters and the chronicle of the love of an unlikely pair: The necromancer Viuslethiem and the rogue Shajuyumil - who found true love. To thwart death, Shayumil would place his soul within the confines of a sword of transcendent quality, thus allowing him to stay with his love even after she ad ascended to lichdom. The PCs, then,a re assumed to have been hired by lore master Pickwendy to guard his expedition - but upon arrival, they happen upon giants that have decimated the camp - Pickwendy only wants the artifact, the aforementioned rapier - and yes, the module actually has notes for GMs who do not want such a powerful tool in their game. Alas, as mentioned before, Pickwendy and his ilk have met their fate - it is thus sans competition of the like that the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the complex, where an ephemeral voice accompanies their exploration, pronouncing, surprisingly, not death, gloom and doom, but rather sensible challenges. Indeed, this whole complex, this whole gauntlet, proves to be a test of both mettle and character, which leads ultimately to the powerful rapier Shajuyumil, who only asks to be reunited with his love - this vow alone is required to claim the powerful item once the PCs have reached it...though reaching it is anything but simple: Both the unique combat challenges and the obstacles presented, including an intriguing moral dilemma, can test PCs in creative and intriguing manners.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's beautiful 2-column full-color standard for the series. The pdf sports several nice, original pieces of artwork. Deserving of a special shout out would be Tommi Salama's absolutely stunning full-color cartography and the fact that this comes with player-friendly maps...including high-res versions.

Haakon Sullivan delivers the best module I have read from his pen herein, finally making the leap from very good/good to awesome. Mike Welham is one of the best 3pp-authors out there, so it should come as no surprise that his module frankly is phenomenal - he should write more of these! Finally, Craig Campbell and Ben McFarland's third module falls in no way behind the quality of the first two: In short, this installment of AQ is all killer, no filler. There is not a single module herein that is content with just spamming combats; there is not a single dungeon herein that does not have its copious sparks of brilliance, its unique challenges. Add to that the superb cartography and we have a module here that frankly transcends the generally exceedingly high quality the series features anyway.

So yes, this installment is worth its more than fair asking price; I'd even go so far as to claim that the modules herein are good enough to warrant conversion if you're playing a different system! Unsurprisingly, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval for this glorious book.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #8 (PFRPG)
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Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 17:49:55

Pretty good set. Makes nice-looking pieces and isn't what I'd call "difficult." I would also not call it "quick to build" or "so easy a child could do it." I've done a fair amount of papercraft in my day and this is about average as far as time investment for the quality of finished product (which really is quite good). From the description, I expected to finish a piece in about ten minutes. In reality, smallish tabs make it take a lottle longer. Also: some of the lines (particularly the score lines) are quite faint. To be fair, I printed the kit on fast mode in greyscale. To be equally fair, I printed my Fat Dragon DM Screen 2 the same way and had no such trouble seeing the lines. So not disappointed with the purchase in general but a little annoyed at the sometimes-hard-to-see lines. Would definitely recommend. Probably won't buy more but not even a little remorseful that I bought what I bought. I will use it over and over through the ages.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fold-N-Go: Dungeon Kit #1
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5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2016 10:02:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This revised edition of this module for 5e clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

Wait, Fire and Ice? Sounds familiar, right? And indeed, this module has previously been released as part of Adventure Quarterly #6 for PFRPG, so let's check how well it translates to 5e, shall we?

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. ... .. . All right, only GMs left? Great! This adventure begins with the annihilation of an adventuring party. No, not the PCs. A company of competing adventurers has been all but wiped out while trying to thwart an evil organization's plan to harvest divine essences - this organization, the Godling Cabal, is NOT fooling around. The sole survivor of the adventuring party, as it happens, is on the same longship as the PCs, the Brightstar - which, strangely, seems to be making a detour, as PCs with the appropriate background can determine. The tranquility of the journey is interrupted rather harshly, as an icy finger of an iceberg-vessel (!!) hits the ship and the vessel is boarded by magelings and a being called Malkin, who doubles as the primary antagonist. In the first encounter. How does that work? Well, turns out that Malkin is frickin' immortal.

In the original iteration, this was represented with a variety of unique rules-operations and they have been translated here -and it is here that the revised edition does the RITE thing: Where before, we had serious issues, now the revision sports lavish, detailed NPCs with unique abilities and tactical options, with the statblock-formatting and general integrity improved by more than just a bit. Kudos for going the extra mile here!

Upon temporarily defeating the threat, the poor survivor comes clean and asks the PCs for aid and so they're off to the island of pleasure, Mibre - including a gorgeous map, mind you. This place is a small paradise, where an order of enigmatic monks poses an interesting puzzle (including trouble-shooting advice and means t brute-force it) - here, the conversion is working as intended. The strange order of monks living here will prove to be pretty important, for without their help, the PCs will have a hard time bringing the magical crystal to the plane of fire to sunder it and thwart the plans of the evil cabal. Only by understanding the monks and participating in their tests (sans being killed by the cabal's forces!) do they have a solid chance to destroy the crystal in the plane of fire. The whole structure of the module and its use of 5e-mechanics has improved dramatically. The pdf does feature notes on the iceberg vessel, but don't expect a write-up as a full vehicle; the maps are functional, but not high-res version of player-friendly iterations are provided...which is puzzling, considering that the AQ-issue that featured the module had high-res jpgs of the maps included!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting have improved significantly on a formal level, but more importantly, are now up to the task on a rules-level as well! Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The artworks featured are solid full-color and the cartography by Tommi Salama is nice, though the absence of the existing high-res map-versions feels odd; indeed, since they act as handouts/ready to go, the rather small depictions of the maps in this iteration of the module is odd - in the Mibre map, you can barely make out the places!

The original 5e of Bret Boyd & Keith Byers' "Fire and Ice" was a horrid mess...and Rite Publishing did the RITE thing here and got the 5e-specialist of the Four Horsemen, Dan Dillon, on board - and Dan delivers. In spades. He has basically taken a bad conversion and improved it to the point where the book now really works, where it is a fun, challenging high-concept 5e-module...just goes to show what a good dev can do. Anyways, the revised edition, superior in every way to the original, receives an updated rating of 4.5 stars, though I do still have to round down; this should not, however, keep you from checking this out - now 5e players may quake and shake before the Terminator-level assassin as well!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5th Edition Module: Fire & Ice (5E)
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:33:24

An Endzeitgeist.com combo-review of this deck and the Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck: NPCs
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Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/25/2016 11:32:36

An Endzeitgeict.com combo-review of this deck and the NPC Icon Deck

And now for something complete different!

This was moved up my review-queue due to me receiving a physical copy of the product in question.

From the get-go, I was positively surprised - not sure if it's due to a change in policy on behalf of OBS or not, but the cards I received arrived in absolutely pristine condition, contained in hard-shell plastic cases, which prevented any creases or other unpleasant surprises.

Beyond that, this deck of cards is massive and contains a selection of US Poker-Size 2.5'' x 3.5 '' cards with round corners. The card-stock paper is high-quality and employs a 305 gsm matte and the cards are UV coated. The cards are sturdy enough to deal well with shuffling, bending them, etc.

Beyond these technical details, there may be a freak accident...there may be something wrong with me...but unless I've begun sucking harder at basic counting of cards than an amnesiac, the description of this product undersells this deck HARD. EDIT: So, I totally blundered and didn't get that there were two decks - one for the NPCs and one for the Icons. I basically took a look at both and the artwork quality for either is SUPERB. Still, even taking this into account, I counted more cards than 104, so this does overdeliver, even when looked at individually!

That is NOT a complaint or a bad thing, though it is something that you should definitely bear in mind - as far as I'm concerned, these decks overdeliver pretty hardcore. And yes, I've checked the cards more than once - no doubles, at least in the deck(s) I received -there is zero overlap between the two decks...so yes, bang-for-buck-wise, I'm really surprised at the quality! Kudos!

The back of the cards sports the "Icon Deck" logo employed in the review/product description and there is another thing I really appreciate - each of the artworks is credited on the card at the central bottom of the card, giving credit where credit is due to the hard-working artists. Better yet, in spite of being easily readable, said credits do not intrude unduly upon the gorgeous images depicted on the cards, which similarly is a huge thing for me: When I get gorgeous color cards, I damn well want them to look the way and this delivers.

Now, regarding themes, this deck covers a ton of ground: Within these cards, you can see a gorgeously-rendered Mulan-style warrior-queen in front of a Chinese dragon; you can see a horrific, cthulhoid, yet humanoid entity that has a horrid, resin-like textures. The dwimmerlaik, both warriors, philosophers and more are depicted in absolutely stunning pieces on the cards...and then there would be the awesome and weird: Like the walrus-headed huamnoid in Imperial Cuirass, the guy that looks like a winged, badass tattooed survivalist with Jesus-hair, the lich-like undead bathed in green fire...and, for those who know where to look, there is also the tribute to Owen K.C. Stephens, immortalized in one of the cards as a kind of Patrician-looking mastermind.

The planes/world-hopping diversity of focus and themes is eclectic and befitting of the central virtues of LoGaS, with e.g. an admiral who sports a rifle that obviously can fire radioactive grenades, alien plant-beings, Tokyo-school-girl lookalike mistresses of arcane might (or rather, eidolon/umbra), dazzling ladies in Flamenco-aesthetic with pet-dragons, tattooed Yakuza, grizzled post-apocalypse survivors or people that may well have been famous planeswalkers like Urza is the aesthetics of their depiction. The styles of the various artists never clash unduly and, while distinct, there is a unifying theme that ties the artworks together - that being quality - LoGaS has been excellent regarding the consistency of the amazing artworks routinely employed and this can be pictured as an excellent showcase.

In fact, it is my contention that the usefulness of this deck transcends LoGaS - this is just as amazing when used for The Strange, a full-blown planes-walking campaign or similar environments that thrive on receiving an array of eclectic and stunning artworks.

In short, being an icon deck, this excels in pretty much all the ways I could ask from it: The material is excellent, the artworks are superb, the artists are properly credited...there is nothing to dislike about this deck and thus, it receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck
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101 1st Level Spells (5E)
by Gaetan V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/04/2016 17:38:51

Lacks professional editing and polish. For a $6 PDF book, I expect a lot more.

Polish issues

  • Text Splitting. Text is regularly split across pages. On page 12 the description of Escape Grapple is on the next page, on page 13, the last line of Glamour runs on the next page. This isn't a print book, so I'm not sure why we're trying to conserve space over readability here.
  • There's a "Summary" section at the front, but it's split across two columns in a way that makes it really awkward to read.
  • The Borrow Skill and Glamour spells both have text alignment problems.

Professional Editing

  • Terminolgy layout. In 5e, the wording on things like saves and checks are very standard. The Pass without Trace spell has the following: "...has a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks...". In this book, the spell Keen Senses has the line: "...advantage on Wisdom(perception)..."
  • More Terminology. There's a spell called Gloomlight that is a Light spell that adds color to Darkvision. It's a cool idea, but I would expect the wording to look a lot like the Light spell. Instead it fails to copy the structure and becomes unusable as a result.
  • There are lots and lots of awkward sentences and just outright typos. Here's a sample from Avert Attack: "You're quick spells keep your friends save."
  • There are spells with range touch that say you instead of touched creature/object. This is clearly a spell that cannot be used as written.

Lack of rules knowledge

  • Some spells reference "Low-light vision" or object Hardness or "full-round action". None of these are things in 5e. I would expect a professional editor to catch this stuff on the first pass.
  • Lack of correct terminolgy affects all kinds of things. The spell Guilt not only has some typos, it doesn't really work. It says the target "is denied any action except to protect itself". "Protect Yourself" is not an Action in 5e. This spell should be very specific, something like "cannot take any Actions, Reactions or Bonus Actions". It also has clause to "shake off" the effect, but wording on the clause is completely different from the otherwise similar Hold Person spell.
  • Spells like Energy Weapon and Energy Missile are very powerful and frankly a little bland.

Overall This is a book filled with good ideas. There are lots of ideas here that could become staple spells for a campaign.

But the spells are simply not ready "as written". Most of them need some type of editing to come in line with the 5e style.

For $3 you can get great stuff from Kobold Press that doesn't have this problem.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
101 1st Level Spells (5E)
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Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/13/2016 06:23:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 7th installment of Rite Publishing's quarterly magazine, their spiritual heir to Dungeon, if you will, clocks in at 63 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 57 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As always, this installment begins with a brief editorial by Robert N- Emerson before diving into the modules, but let's take a look at the supplemental material first. Why? Because it is extremely useful: Steven D. Russell provides an article that helps structuring PC subplots in your campaign...and he has a 100-entry-strong table of Pre-Butt Kicking One Liners. This table is incredibly awesome: "We haven't been introduced, so I'll call you 'prey'." or "The only one who can save you now is Orcus...and since I can't bring him here, I'm going to send you to him!" - perhaps it's just me being a big fan of AHHHHNLD's one-liners, but I've been using that table quite a bit.

Anyways, let's talk about what's really important, namely the modules in here. As such the text that follows will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

The first adventure belongs to a woefully underrepresented type of module in PFRPG - namely, the hexcrawl. Bret Boyd's "Shattered Dreams in Winter" makes use of Ultimate Campaign's exploration rules and has a synergy tie-in with the excellent 101 Not So Random Encounters: Winter, though neither book is required to run the module. SDiW is intended for 1st level PCs and covers a surprising breadth of places - a total of 69 hexes await exploration of a truly gorgeous full-color map that depicts the snow-capped mountains, glaciers and stable permafrost. In this frigid land, remnants and obelisks of the old Nee'Qan culture, lost to the sand of time, stand as monuments to other days, while the freezing cold and copious amount of snowstorms render survival a challenge - even before strange, lethal gasses and magical effects enter the fray. Temperature, random encounters and hazards are provided for your convenience to drive home that this place is not particularly cuddly.

The whole region, from the frontier's towns that provide ample hooks and statblocks, to the mysterious amber scepters one can find and the massive monoliths, the whole hexcrawl is an excellent exercise in indirect, sandboxy storytelling and atmosphere - as a whole, I was reminded of the classic Savage Sword of Conan issue featuring a monolith and an infamous Khitan duke named Leng, crossed with the atmosphere of Dark Soul II's Frozen Eleum Loyce - and honestly, I was truly intrigued by Bret Boyd's offering here - including an uncommon, corrupted outsider from the higher planes as a dread hunter in the snow and the exploration of these strange places, the first module blows me already away and makes for one of the most atmospheric first level modules I know - if anything, the module left me wanting more...this atmosphere can carry a module of thrice the size allotted.

The second module herein brings us back to the wonderful institution for the series, the legendary Ruins Perilous, Questhaven's post-modern dungeon, which acts as a proving ground and means to climb the social ladder in the adventurer-run legendary city. While before, we had themed regions, Mike Welham actually managed to do something truly unique - for this level of the dungeon, intended for fifth level PCs, has a very strong leitmotif I usually don't like - elements. As often, random encounters can be found within, but here's the thing: The level has an outer ring - from said ring, elemental-themed room-sequences exist, allowing access to the center of the level.

The absolutely unique aspect here is that the module manages to depict a sense of fantastic realism - each of the environment-themed gauntlets actually also has a room that features related materials to pass the respective trials and tribulations...which may actually double as traps in the hands of the unwary: A tissue-regeneration trap can, for example, be rather lethal when applied to creatures aligned with the energy type. So, what's the deal? Beyond mephits, the dungeon is all about the powerful living storm bound within the complex and gathering the missing faces of the cube of elemental harmony, which can ultimately be used to bring reason back to the powerful elemental entity. The fantastic realism utilized here is compelling and well-made.

The third module, penned by Nicholas Milasich for 7th level is darker - the House of Butchered Manflesh, which is a dark module with an intriguing twist: The PCs will investigate a mysterious and sullen captain and a trail of pigs into the sewers, where the tragedies of a flesh-themed dungeon, complete with mite kitchens loom; beyond deadly slaughtering machines and the powerful derro butcher, the dungeon seems to have a straightforward "man are meat"-theme, with an evil mistress at the helm - but there is a twist to all of it: You see, the lady of the house is actually a deadly hag who uses wagers and her considerable polymorphing powers to keep their servants in line...and keep a twisted control over the people under her "employ" (read: slavery). Now before you expect something grimdark...turns out that the mistress is screwing over the cannibals to which her meat is delivered: She polymorphs pigs into humans and sells them to the creatures below - her operation must be stopped, sure...but the consequences may well provide even more issues for the PCs in the future. Different in tone and with an interesting twist, this module, while the most conventional of the three in structure, its creative themes make this yet another winner.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: Apart from minor formatting hiccups, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the magazine sports a significant array of drop-dead gorgeous, original pieces of full color artwork and the cartography by none other than Tommi Salama, is glorious, though I wished we got the usual high-res jpgs and player-friendly versions.

This installment of Adventure Quarterly is all killer, no filler - from the atmospheric offering of Bret Boyd to Mike Welham's awesome Ruins Perilous and Nicholas Milasich's uncommon twist on a horror-theme through the glasses of high fantasy, not one of the modules in this magazine disappointed me - all of them have a creative component, something interesting and evocative that sets them apart. In the end, I am left with no serious complaints, with only the lack of player-friendly maps that were present for all the older AQs being a serious downside that costs this my seal of approval. Still, the excellent modules are very much worth 5 stars and seal material, so yes, I do believe that this is well worth the asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
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10 Barbarian Magic Items (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/09/2016 03:09:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's 10-X-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with two new special qualities: Armor and shields may benefit from the +2 bonus equivalent adversity's bulwark enchantment, which allows for the immediate action-based expenditure of 6 rounds of rage to reroll a save against a debilitating condition (excluding death), affliction, charm or compulsion. The barbarian must take the second result. If the barbarian also has the eater of magic rage power, he gains temporary hit points equal to the originating creature's CR that stack with the rage's temporary hit points. Weapons can be enchanted to gain the felling storm special weapon ability, which allows the barbarian to add a combat maneuver as a swift action 1/round to a successful attack while raging, providing, just fyi, synergy with the maneuvers introduced in Secrets of Adventuring. This enchantment should, for balance's sake, be limited to melee weapons or at last have a price that exceeds +1 for ranged weapons.

So that would be the general enchantments, now let's move on to the items: As has become the tradition with these pdfs, we actually get more than ten items: 5 of the items in this book come in 3 degrees of power: Lesser, standard and greater, and these higher power-levels do not just simply feature a numerical escalation. The Ring of Spiritual Spite allows wearers to expend rage as immediate actions to reduce damage incurred, but only if said damage is drawn from spell, supernatural or spell-like abilities, as well, as the example illustrates, from bonus damage caused by e.g. the flaming special quality. While rules language could have been slightly more precise, the example clears up all gripes I could field here. Higher power levels equal a higher amount of daily activations. Mantles of thorns provide minor natural armor bonuses and reflexive damage for those foolish enough to target the character with unarmed or natural attacks, with higher iterations allowing for more activations per day.

Boots of the Wild Rush would be a better example to illustrate aforementioned differences in power-levels: The lesser variant allows for the expenditure of a swift action to increase base land speed by 10 ft., with each step above that increasing this by a further +10 ft. Standard versions allow for the expenditure of 3 rounds of rage to ignore natural difficult terrain and the greater version allows for rage-powered short range flight!

Bracers of Epic Deeds provide synergy with Surge of Strength and allow for all those fun over-the-top Conan-esque capers via significant Strength-check, CMB or CMD enhancements, but only 1/day. Standard bracers have synergy with the unexpected strike rage power and allow for 1/day AoOs versus foes that move into a threatened square and the greater version allows barbarians to disable temporarily, via a special combat maneuver, special monster abilities like gaze attacks and the like - thankfully with a GM-caveat, but oh boy, how cool is THAT?

Similar to that, the lesser version of gauntlets of the breaker allow a barbarian to temporarily disable natural attacks. The standard version makes the barbarian better at wrecking objects and the greater iteration allows the barbarian to seriously impede armor, even natural armor, for a while and limited amounts of time per day. Unlike the bracers, here the progressively better iterations do increase the daily uses of the lesser versions.

Not all items herein feature such a 3-step-version: The Baldric of Restraint nets Quick Draw and lets the barbarian, as a swift action, expend rounds of rage to heal 1 hp per round expended. The helm of the nomad lets the barbarian expend a swift action to perform a smattering of skills that round reliably, counting as having taken 10. Additionally, 1/day, the item allows the barbarian to treat a skill check of the skills in question as a natural 20. As a nitpick: The helm is erroneously referred to as a belt once. That's a cosmetic glitch, though.

If you've been following the series, you'll know the star of the pdf is still coming: Made out of the new material Primal Iron, which counts as cold iron: The Fell Hammer, a massive earth breaker forged by legendary Kahrvass Fleymbrow (see Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series) that begins as a +1 primal iron earth breaker that provides a serious Intimidate bonus. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the massive weapon may be enhanced, gaining first a bonus while the wielder is raging, then an upgrade to +2 (and bonus damage while raging!), shaken added to crits (with a 24-hour-caveat to avoid shaken-locks), teleportation-hampering (missing an italicization for a spell) and finally, the option, via Hammerfall (puts good ole' "Templars of Steel" in the playlist) to generate a frickin' storm blast that deals serious damage (damage type would have been nice) and blows foes away, extinguishes flames, etc. EPIC.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the pdf's weak spot: While the rules-language is exceedingly precise and manages to deal with even complex concepts, there are a couple of minor formatting glitches and punctuation hiccups, though none of them impede the rules themselves to a significant degree. The one missing damage type is the only one of the glitches that is rules-relevant, and it is a minor one. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf has gorgeous full color artwork I haven't seen before - particularly impressive, considering the low asking price. In spite of its brevity, the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - kudos!

Steven D. Russell, may he rest in peace, has written barbarian items here that exemplify exceedingly well what made me a Rite Publishing fan back in the day; there is not a single cookie cutter, bland item in this pdf. Each piece of content you get is evocative, fun and has a serious justification for existing...in fact, reading the pdf will probably make any barbarian player salivate over at least one item; quite frankly, a lot of them. With the equipment herein, the feats of Strength and daring we came to love from the Conan comics become possible. And unlike in some of Steve's previous installments in the series, I have no complaints pertaining balance and pricing this time around.

...

Indulge me for a second, will you? This was hard for me to write. I was literally afraid of the pdf, since it was the last stand-alone pdf Steven wrote that he published. I really didn't want to bash the pdf, knowing how recently, I had to criticize some of his writing. I shouldn't have worried. As always, when someone observed valid gripes, Steven didn't grumble (for long) - he fixed it. He improved. In short - this pdf is bereft of anything I'd consider problematic. Furthermore, it has this signature quality, this design-voice I will sorely miss; the voice that speaks with flavor and has the crunch to back it up, that lets you do the cinematic, iconic things you wanted to do; that makes roleplaying supplements, even when they're just accumulations of crunchy items, fun to read.

Oh, and that they are mechanically innovative. Did you know that Steve was the first designer to use barbarian rage or bardic performance as a resource to power unrelated effects, feats, etc.? That I encountered magic items with scaling save DCs first in his writing? These are so normal right now, it seems odd...but yeah. So yes, we have significantly more than the promised 10 items on the cover; we have items that directly interact with class abilities and resources of the class. And they do all that while being items you really want to have. This is the antithesis of slapping just a plus and some qualities together. This is fun, evocative and innovative. And I, personally, am grateful for this pdf and what it brings to my table. The hiccups in editing pale before this creativity and with the low price, I can still rate this 5 stars + seal of approval, even when I turn off my emotions and just become review-bot 9000. This is a must-have for barbarian-fans.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Barbarian Magic Items (PFRPG)
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Addendum: Shape Shifting (Diceless)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/08/2016 04:04:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Addendum-series for DICELESS roleplaying clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Shape shifting is contextualized as a power that is neither wholly of the Eidolon, nor of the Umbra; instead, it is an oscillating power of change in between and for this reason, mastery of either and shape shifting are a volatile combination, but more on that later.

Structure-wise, shape shifting is tiered in 4 levels: Lesser Shape Shifting (15 pts.), Shape Shifting (35 pts.), Advanced Shape Shifting (65 pts.) and Exalted Shape Shifting (85 pts.). Generally, shape shifting has limits - characters must assume shapes of at least animal intelligence - no rocks, grass or the like and the form needs to be substantial for all but exalted shape shifters - no ethereal, smoky, cloudy or the like forms for all but the masters of this ability. One crucial point pertaining shapeshifting would be the respective limits imposed by the Gossamer Reality: A dragon's form in one world may easily be airborne and breathe fire, whereas in another, dragons would be unable to fly and perhaps emit acid. External anatomy like wings, generally can be reproduced via shapeshifting sans hassle, but internal structures like poison sacks, levitation organs or the like may well pose insurmountable tasks for the shape shifter. Similarly, the abilities potentially gained may well turn out to be rather taxing on Endurance of Psyche. Clothes and items worn when shifting are usually dropped or destroyed, though artifacts may be designed to accommodate shape shifter. Speaking of items - the pdf does cover the interaction of items with the respective shape shifting power.

Lesser changes can be done quickly in a few seconds, while musculoskeletal rearrangement and profound physiological or psychological changes may require a couple of minutes. One form is designated as the favored form - reversal to this form takes less than a minute.

Shape shifting, as mentioned, is exhausting - an endurance rank of average means that one change is exhausting, while paragons can shape change sans limits. A shape changer also usually keeps a distinguishing mark that sets the creature apart as the shape changer - basically a tell like a streak of white hair, a birthmark or the like. The more powerful a creature whose shape is assumed, the more risky the process becomes, for shape shifting always may affect the core identity of the character - turning into a Mythos-monstrosity, for example, may change the psychology so radically, that the new assumed identity tries to subvert the dominant personality of the shape shifter. Similarly, intense physical trauma may lock a character in a given shape and require tools like the True Name or similar tricks to allow the character to regain his form...and abilities. Finally, overuse may result, particularly when combined with the forces of Eidolon and Umbra in power rejection, which can have rather unpleasant consequences.

Now, what type of shape shifting do the respective tiers of the power convey? Well, more precise timeframes and ramifications for the respective concepts mentioned are depicted in the respective entries for the shape shifting powers and the pdf does mention the limits - lesser shape shifters already may assume hybrid forms, though generally, they are locked into one alternate form; real shape shifters may instead learn a plethora of forms, disguising and impromptu shape shifting, providing a significant upgrade in flexibility - think of that step up a akin to the comparison between a werewolf and a full-blown doppelgänger, including limited control over healing, instinctual shape shifting.

Advanced shape shifters may use their power to become something more than they were; a quasi-avatar of Eidolon or Umbra...or a living icon of themselves, becoming a kind of avatar of the idealized self. It should be noted that brief suggestions for the potential of use with blessings/curses and similar variant powers are provided and deemed appropriate at this power-level. Aura change, internal reconfiguration and size-change are cool, but beyond that, blood may be formed into tiny creatures to be commanded like spiders or birds and severed limbs may move autonomously from the shape shifter.

At the level of the exalted shape shifter, endurance and psyche retain their dominance, but the other attributes become more important as well - this level of mastery allows for the transformation in whole flocks of beings, regeneration, assuming a composition of an element or state of matter (like fluids or gasses) and better shape change as well as permanent transformation is very much possible here.

The pdf does mention the interaction of shape shifting with other powers like being a warden of the grand stair, wrighting or invocations and does note 4 canonical characters that are assumed to have shapeshifting when these rules are used.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed an odd line-break and minor hiccups, nothing grievous in the glitch section. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard used for LoGaS-supplements and the pdf has several pieces of absolutely gorgeous artworks - the cover artwork, just fyi, is weaker than several pieces of interior artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jason Durall's addendum on shape shifting takes one of the big blank spots in Amber's old array and fills it in with a concisely codified take on shape shifting that thankfully does not enter the territory of being restrictive. Instead, this pdf can be imagined as a kind of enabler, as it should be for the context of the high-imagination LoGaS framework. If there is anything to complain about, then that would be that the shape shifting herein does not necessarily explain the slightly related abilities Umbra practitioners could use and should be considered to supersede those fringe-cases. Still, this is just me grasping for straws to critique something. Overall, this expansion is precise, lacks any glaring glitches or holes I could find and represents a neat expansion for the LoGaS-multiverse. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Addendum: Shape Shifting (Diceless)
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101 Hill & Mountain Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/30/2016 12:11:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of spells clocks in at a massive 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a massive 47 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so, as has become the tradition with these books, we begin with a general introduction before we get the spell-lists; as always in Dave Paul's spell-books, the respective environment has a significant impact on the respective mechanics, potentially changing the effects of the spell in question. In this installment, a leitmotif suffusing the spells would be the hybrid nature of hills, serving as a bridge between the wilderness and the civilized realms; as a whole, this duality and focus on the environment is pronounced.

Spell-list-wise, the classic classes, including the APG classes and magus are covered and bloodrager and shaman receive their own spell-lists as well. At least for now, the pdf does not directly provide support for the occult classes.

Now, let us take a look at the spells, all right? We begin with interesting spells, as they take a mechanically relevant stab at depicting altitude sickness and the means to counter it; beyond their mechanical ramifications, the spells have interesting operations done. The save DC for aforementioned spell is increased if the material component is taken from a sufficiently high mountain...which is simple, elegant and just awesome.

The series has been pushing the boundaries of spellcasting and what you can do with it - and so it should come as no surprise that there are spells in this pdf that are hard to judge in terms of their potency: Amphisbaenic caster, to name one prominent example: As a level 7 spell, it allows you to split into your own self and a shadowy duplicate. Yes, we've seen the like before, but bear with me: The duplicate actually has a significant array of options - it's not just an image, it acts like you do; spells are evenly distributed among the two and while the duplicate's effects cause less damage than the real caster's powers, the doubling of actions this entails is impressive and very powerful. It should be noted that the spell features several peculiarities that render it exceptional in the level of precision, but also make it slightly uncommon. The damage-decrease of the duplicate is, for example, an inverse take on usual shadow-themed spells: Where usually, such spells are only 20% real, here, the reduction of damage caused is subject to percentile effects. I am not against such effects, though it is slightly uncommon to employ such mechanics. Beyond that, the spell actually works better for casters with certain patrons or bloodlines, which is something I most definitely appreciate. The dual action mechanic is similarly precisely codified...and still, I'd call OP on this spell, were it not for significant risks involved with perished doubles, making this spell an option casters won't want to spam all the time. This balancing mechanism makes it actually work out - sure, it's a spell that requires some preparation by the player, but when employed, it is impressive indeed.

Speaking of balancing - the pdf is interesting in that spells like argentine's grace are variants of an already existing spell, increased in potency and balanced via unique, potentially story-hook worthy material components...in this spell's case, just fyi, a silver dragon's scale...

Of course, such variants tend to end up as the rather rare exception to the rule considering the spells otherwise found herein: Want to make your foes magnets for big boulders/avalanches or just conjure them forth to throw at foes or characters? Possible. (cough Giantslayer GMs, get this one /cough)

These would, however, not even be close to the spells you actually will keep in mind when reading this book. For example, which spellcaster than reaches lofty 9th level with actually resist the temptation of smashing enemies by literally letting a mountain top fall on them? Suddenly, "rocks fall, all die" has taken on a whole new dimension. A similar trope that just about every group will probably encounter at one point or another, the spell catapult ally is simply GLORIOUS. Why? Because it actually manages to codify the complex issues pertaining action economy implied by the action, one that is VERY hard to represent in the turn-based combat system, in a compelling and airtight rules-language. And yes, it takes weight and sizes into account.

If the mechanical aspects or high-level awesomeness are not what you're looking for, what about a low-level spell that lets you walk on clouds (long overdue!), the option to make cloud bridges or blasting cones of ash? It should be mentioned that the latter can be taken as a nice example for spell balancing and the value of secondary effects when compared to similar magic effects of the same level.

Not all of the spells are 100% perfect, though - if you look for nitpicks, tehre are a precious few to be found herein - a curse that unleashes an inner beast and devolves the target grants you bite and claw attacks - while the variable, size-based damage-values are accounted for, the spell does not specify whether the attacks are treated as primary or secondary natural attacks. Established conventions exist to make this omission a non-issue, sure, but it still would have been nice to see that specifically mentioned. An entrancing dance that compels those that succumb to it to accompany you conjures up images of Hekate-rites or the pied piper and cantrip-based infliction of light sensitivity on the target similarly makes sense.

Those of us who are into philosophy will enjoy a spell where the author's expertise show through - the illusion deep in the cave, based on the famous allegory of the cave in Plato's work, is genius - not only are the effects well codified, it actually manages to illustrate a complex concept easily, teaching a slightly simplified experience by the mechanics of the system. I LOVE THIS. Considering the fact that many a spellcaster in fantasy worlds is supposed to be hyper-smart, the absence of spells that illustrate complex and intriguing concepts by means of game-mechanics is something that has always galled me...so kudos...not only for the educational aspect this spell contains. While we're at it - what about a spell that eliminates your face and renders your whole body a sensory organ...albeit a deeply unsettling one? You'll get two cookie points from me if you can tell me the theory that one is based on!

If giant form is too generic for your tastes (and/or you need more variety for giant-themed campaigns...), variants for fire/frost giants in this book will have you covered. Transforming into nightgaunts or wyverns may be cool - but not half as cool as making floating hills or mountains. Yes. Floating mountains. Awesome. Using the pun-tastic Grimm Resistance, you can get a powerful buff versus the fey creatures. Generating a magic-powered movement to compel large amounts of people to dig for you may sound specific...but the spell is basically at least one adventure practically spelled out for you.

Tapping into the characteristics of the savage humanoids living in the hills via an array of spells would be another component of the book. Very unique: Phase runner lets you oscillate between the material and ethereal plane, becoming ethereal while moving and substantial while standing still/attacking - this sports a LOT of unique applications for tactics - and, interestingly, the spell takes mounts and vehicles and the like into account. Perhaps, you, as a high-level druid, are just fed up with the encroachment of civilization...if you are, just Raise Mountain Range. 2 square miles per level. The summon spells herein are nothing to sneeze at either - they contain actual simple templates to add at your convenience.

Oh, and to make that reference...since I'm from Germany, I need to mention this, in spite of not being the biggest fan of the whole volkstümliche Musik concept - there is a spell in here called yodel. Yes, you can reskin this one to work via smoke signs. Yes, it is kinda funny, but works. Yes, I will probably use it and require my players to actually yodel when trying to use it. Because that's how I roll. ;)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two column full color standard and features some neat artworks I haven't seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Dave Paul's spells are the most anticipated spell books for Pathfinder for me; let's not kid anyone. They're pretty much the only spell books I truly look forward to reviewing right now. I'm mostly burned out on spells and the significant majority of spells either is a variant on something or doesn't feel magical enough for me. Dave Paul's spells, on the other hand, either do something mechanically interesting, breathe a sense of the wondrous, stitch shut gaps in what spells let you do, provide unique tactical options...it may sound weird, but I actually prefer his spells and variants of other spells over many an "original" spell. Why? Because even his spell variants stand out with unique rules-operations or concepts that breathe the spirit of the fantastic to an extent unrivalled by just about every comparable book. It is a boon for a lot of authors that he got into the spell-writing gig only relatively recently; otherwise many a book of magic would have received less praises from yours truly. The terrain-based 101-spell-series raises the roof for the whole concept of spells and this is no different. Evocative and unique, this is well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, with an explicit extra recommendation for fans of giants, dwarves and humanoids and classic Against the Giants/Borderlands/Giantslayer-style gameplay.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Hill & Mountain Spells (PFRPG)
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