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In The Company of Aberrations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/18/2017 03:53:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing’s „In the Company of...“-series of playable monsters clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a MASSIVE 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

We begin with a letter, framing the narrative that suffuses the pdf in the tradition of Rite Publishing supplements; the letter is one of resignation this time around, speaking of the horrors that were encountered, and indeed, the formula of the in-character description of the race that makes this series such a joy to read, has been modified here, as aberrations are a significantly less unified topic than previous races covered.

Instead, the content is framed as a report by the Voice of the Vigilant – who has basically possessed one of the unfortunates that encountered the aberrant threats, saving the company that encountered these creatures. This whole, strange channeling is a genius way of maintaining the enjoyable reading experience and blending it with a creeping sense of unease that fits the topic perfectly.

Anyway, since aberrations cover a wide field of different creatures, the report begins by roughly categorizing aberrant threats as cosmic interlopers (including noting the flumphs!), hadopelagic ancients, perversions of nature, reality-displaced entities and subterranean nightmares are discussed – as are warptouched creatures, making for not only a nice reading experience, but also serving as an interesting basic set-up to contemplate prior to making a character.

Now, a big problem for some aberrations would be a non-humanoid physiology – as such, it should come as no surprise that the magic item slot question arises in the context of playable aberrations. This is relevant from a mathematic point of view, considering how item-granted boosts are included in the calculations, particularly at higher levels. The imbued metabolism ability allows such aberrations to swallow magic items to gain their benefits. And yes, the rules-language manages to concisely codify this process and avoids cheesing and still features scaling regarding slot numbers, making the mechanic supremely elegant.

Okay, so let’s go through the respective racial traits! Cosmic interlopers get +2 Int and Wis, -2 Dex, a base speed of 5 ft., a fly speed of 30 ft. (clumsy) (5 ft. base speed), darkvision 60 ft., all-around vision, two tentacle secondary natural attacks at 1d4 and interlopers with an Int of 11 or more gain alter winds and whispering wind 1/day as a SP. They also can expend actions to resist vacuum, which is pretty damn cool. While slightly lopsided regarding base ability score modifiers and studded with low-level flight, the bad maneuverability (hovering works sans check, just fyi) maintains balance here and in fact requires some interesting, potentially even hilarious, tactical scenes at the table. There are two alternate traits that provide alternate racial traits: +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str for domination orbs (beholders, minus the closed content IP) – these guys can fire, 1/day, a spell as a ray from their eye. Cool! The stellar ray would similarly cover the classic ixitxachitl (or flumph…) with a proper stinger that deals acid damage as well. And yep, Small size. Instead of air manipulation, you may choose natural armor or sonic resistance (+ save-bonuses versus certain conditions). The all-around vision may be replaced with better Stealth, constant detect magic or a +2 bonus to Spellcraft to identify spells and +1 to atk versus arcane spellcasters. Instead of the vacuum adaptation, you may 1/day choose to roll twice on Bluff/Diplomacy or better tech-use, including decreased glitch probability. Both the vacuum resistant ability and all-around vision can be exchanged for Wild Talent – yep, psionics compatible!

Hedopelagic ancients get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Dex, are medium and have a movement rate of 20 ft., swim speed of 30 ft. They are amphibious, have darkvision 60 ft. and +2 natural armor. They get two secondary tentacle attacks and add +1 to the Dc of their illusions and SPs with the pattern and figment descriptors. Those with a Cha of 11+ also gain 1/day hypnotic pattern as a SP. And yes, they are balanced via the slots once again. There are two variants inclided: Deep spawn gain +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, gaining a primary bite and +4 to saves versus poison and diseases as well as a modified slot-list and the ability to make an angler-fish like dancing lights variant. Cool, if lopsided on the physical. The same holds true for reef menaces, who gain +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha and is Small. They gain +4 to Stealth while underwater and get tangling tentacles as a natural attack, which do not cause damage, but may trip foes. Fully aquatic beings can be made with the Deep One alternate racial trait and you can replace darkvision with deepsight, doubling range for a total of 120 ft., but only underwater. Big kudos: There is a scaling fast healing alternate racial trait that’s reliant on water and that cannot be cheesed – big kudos! Keen underwater scent, an alternative SP, adaptation to water pressure (and cold resistance 5) and an unnatural aura complement this one. This is as good a time as any to voice my utter delight regarding the bonus and natural attack codification here – the rules are exceedingly precise and well-crafted – kudos!

Next up are perversions of nature gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Intelligence, are medium and have a base speed of 20 ft. that is not reduced by armor or encumbrance. They gain the ability to Hold Breath, +2 natural armor, a primary bite, +2 to saves versus diseases, ingested poisons and effects that apply the nauseated and sickened conditions and a +2 bonus to Perception and Appraise to find hidden objects and determine whether food is spoiled. They also always treat Stealth as a class skill. The first of the two variants provided would be the chitined terror, who gains +2 Str and Con, -2 Cha, is amphibious with a 20 ft. swim speed and two claws. Curse-fused yields +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str and gains 30 ft. movement, but s affected by encumbrance and armor. It also gains a climb speed, immunity to magic sleep and a bonus to saves versus enchantments. With Cha of 11+, these folks also gain darkness 1/day as a SP. And yes, these suites are suitably balanced via exchanged traits. The other alternate racial traits net bonuses of defensive casting, a better carapace, carrion sense, better saves versus divine spells, atk and AC-bonuses versus a subtype of humanoid (bred to exterminate them!) and Improved Grapple via tiny grapple-helping appendages, Extend Spell for transmutations 1/day or sewer camouflage complement this section.

Reality-displaced entities get +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str, may compress up to ¼ their size sans squeezing penalties, get darkvision 60 ft, +1 to saves versus mind-affecting effects, two secondary tentacles and Dr 5/piercing. Alternate ability-suite-wise, we get the Small body snatcher, who gains 40 ft. movement and two weak claws. Minor example of a formatting hiccup here: The creature is affected by protection from evil as though summoned and the spell-reference is not italicized. The body-snatcher can crawl into corpses of vanquished humanoids that exceed its size, helping it offset its nigh non-existent item slots while wearing this meat-suit, which is btw. concisely codified in the rules – damn cool. The untethered gains +2 STr and Int, -2 Dex and gain two pincers as well as +1 to DCs of possession, magic jar, etc., representing something closer to yithians. The other alternate racial traits encompass burrow speed, lesser telepathy the SP to 1/day detect thoughts, being naturally psionic or immediate action grapple escape attempts. Precognitive flashes and the ability to send itself or another creature into the future or the ability to sense effects that distort time complement, as a whole, a damn cool array of tricks.

The subterranean nightmares, per default, gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, are Medium with a speed of 20 ft. that’s not modified by armor or encumbrance, darkvision 120 ft., light sensitivity, +3 natural armor, +4 Stealth while underground, stability, a bite attack and roper-like strands – while these inflict Strength damage, it’s only 1 point, has a save to negate and is iconic; moreover, its limits serve to keep it in check even for conservative games. They also get a variant of woodland stride in subterranean regions, but only for natural terrain. The alternate ability-suites include +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int and fly speed 40 ft. (poor), a secondary tail attack and +1 natural armor bonus. Note that the maneuverability and the modified slot-list does help reign in flight, though some campaigns may still consider this to be potent...but then again, you’re basically playing a cloaker-thing! Hungry worms would be the second ability-suite, +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Intelligence, base speed 30 ft., 20 ft. climb speed, +1 to natural AC, scent and secondary tentacle attacks. The alternate racial traits include burrow speed, Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival as class skills, better AC versus rays, SR penetration bonuses, hooks claws, -1 to Will saves in exchange to +1 to the DC of mental ability damage/drain-based abilities used, a Cha-variant of the strands or +1 to the DC of sonic effects – once again, neat!

Finally, we take a look at the most “normal” race – the warptouched, who gain +2 to an ability score of their choice, are Medium with 30 ft. movement, are treated as aberrations for the purpose of spells and effects, gain darkvision 60 ft., +1 to Bluff, Disguise, Knowledge (local), +1 natural AC, two secondary tentacle attacks at 1d4 base damage, +2 to saves versus SPs and SUs of aberrations and they may, as a swift action, suppress their unnatural traits, helping them greatly disguising their nature. The alternate racial traits include unlocking class skills, constant detect aberrations, a 30 ft. swim speed, +1 to atk versus aberrations, two favored class options, Wild Talent, a maw, +2 to natural armor and Intimidate versus humanoids, technological aptitude or being treated as +1 level regarding the use of revelations from the Dark tapestry or Heavens mysteries. While age, height and weight vary wildly between all these aberrations, a sample reference table is still included – kudos! We also get a massive FCO-list that includes psionic classes as well as occult classes – no balance concerns or complaints there. Well done! Okay, so the basic racial traits as a whole are amazing – they are balanced in a rather ingenious way; the options will not break any game and provide meaningful options galore. While I am not the biggest fan of races that grant their ability score bonuses to only physical or mental scores, these make sense here and, more importantly, don’t break any of the races. In short: It’s been a long, long time since I was this impressed with a section of races.

Do the classes hold up? Well, we have a total of four archetypes and, as always, the racial paragon class to cover. Let us begin with the two briefer archetypes, the first of which would be the conduit of the forbidden psychic, who is locked into the dark half or dream psychic disciplines. Instead of detect thoughts, 2nd level causes anyone who seeks to tap into the mind of the conduit to take Wisdom damage and be dazed. 9th level nets 1/day confusion, with the additional option to expend spells to cast it, getting the complex possibility of metamagic feat use in conjunction right. The archetype loses telepathic bond for this. At 17th level, when a confused creature damages itself, the conduit may assume control over it as dominate monster, thankfully with limited daily uses. The second smaller archetype herein would be the Opener of Ways summoner, who gets a modified summon monster list specializing in calling forth void-called beings instead of celestial/infernal ones, with aberrations added to the summon list. The void-called template is btw. also presented here and is, power-wise, approximately on par with the more commonly-used ones. 6th level yields a thought eater familiar that requires being fed spell slots to keep it from roaming, making it an interesting addition that replaces maker’s call and transposition.

A rather complex archetype for the hunter class would be the freak wrangler, who loses all summon nature’s ally spells. Instead of the regular Animal Focus, these guys gain an aberration focus: No less than 16 different foci are presented, basically rewriting the whole class engine with an aberration focus. This also extends to the pet gained: From akata to choker to rust monsters and snallygasters, the archetype features a total of 12 such aberration pets (and yes, rules-wise, they continue behaving like animal companions regarding tricks etc.) – all with their own stats, advancements, etc. big kudos here, this is actually a hunter I’d like to play! A minor complaint: The vampiric mist focus can allow the creature to be healed continuously via feeding it creatures to grapple and bleed dry. Since this is pretty limited and slow, it shouldn’t break the game, though.

Now the racial paragon class would be “That Which Must Not Be”, which, chassis-wise, receives good Will-saves, ¾ BAB-progression, d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons. The class, unsurprisingly, can gain natural weapons galore, but only may employ a maximum number governed by level, beginning at 3 and scaling up to 7. Now, ability-progression-wise, we have a massive amount of player agenda: At first level, you choose aberrant power – this acts as a kind of bloodline, which unlocks new abilities every 6 levels after 1st and provides the base ability-suite: Mental juggernaut, for example, nets you at-will instigate psychic duel and builds on that as an engine and also features size-increases. Scion of Madness focuses on causing Wisdom damage and confusion and servitors of the Old Ones gain SPs. So these are the basics.

At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the class also gets to choose an abominable weirdness – basically one of the talents of the class, which, if applicable, has its saving throw DCs governed by Charisma. These include better aquatic adaption, acidic blood, gaining attach with certain natural weapons, reflexive negative energy damage, blood-draining feeding tubes, pulling filaments, extra heads or limbs, etc. Flight is suitably locked, minimum-level-wise, and from fortification-style anatomy to natural weapons and a bit of mesmerist poaching or even a phrenic amplification, we have a very wide and cool array of options here. Wanted to extract brains, illithid-style? Well, starting 12th level, you can. Oh, and yes, toxins etc. obviously can also be found. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter increase natural armor by +1. 9th level eliminates age penalties and eliminates the threat of dying of old age – strange aeons indeed.

Beyond these, the class gains another option for players to customize it in a wide variety of ways, namely Alien Heritages. These are also chosen at 1st level and similarly act as a kind of linear ability progression – one ability is gained at first level, the second at 3rd and thereafter, every 4 levels unlock a new one. Once again, if applicable, Charisma acts as the governing attribute for save DCs for these. How many do we get? Well, more than 30 (!!!). That is in addition to the impressive talent array AND the 3 aberrant powers that maintain basic usefulness! The theme here are specific aberrations – there is a flumph heritage, one for beholders (minus IP, but you’ll now what’s meant!), Yithians, phrenic scourges, ropers, neh-thalggus (yep, with braincollecting…), mimics, moon beasts (which, at 11th level, heal when inflicting Wisdom drain, save to negate – not ideal, but limited in its cheesability), aberrations sans easily discernible heritage, intellect devourers (with 1st level psychic stab that is kept balanced by concise limitations), hyakume, heikegani, grindylows, froghemoths, driders – basically, all the iconics are covered and the ability array also covers some of the under-appreciated aberrations for weirdos like yours truly. Particularly impressive would be, at least from a design-perspective, the fact that A LOT of the signature abilities you’d expect are gained rather soon and kept viable, but balanced via concise restrictions that prevent nasty cheeses.

At 20th level, the class gains a unique name and title – and when someone, somewhere mentions it…it KNOWS, making it possible to greater scry the hapless fool…oh, and the poor sod becomes more susceptible to the Thing’s tricks. Worse for your foes, at this level, you are extremely hard to kill, lying dead but dreaming…amazing capstone.

“But endy, what if I don’t want to commit to a full 20-level class?” – Well, the pdf has you covered: The final archetype, the aberrant champion, is basically a catch-all archetype that allows the character to dabble in aberrant power, abominable weakness and alien heritage! Oh, and the archetype can be applied to a metric TON of classes: Beyond psionic classes (including, but not limited to the often overlooked cryptic and dread), we also cover the core and APG-options, ACG- and Occult classes AND some 3pp-classics like the warmaster, the taskshaper and hellion. Big kudos!

The pdf closes with 6 racial feats, which include the option to knock foes prone with grapples, gain an extra weirdness, a bonus to atk and damage versus aberrations with a different alien heritage (slightly unfortunate wording there), an upgrade for tentacle attacks, swift, mind-affecting demoralize via telepathy and a more devastating rend, which thankfully is locked and reserved for the higher levels.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch: Editor Robert N. Emerson has done a phenomenal job. It’s been quite a while since I read a crunch-book this long that is this precise regarding formatting, types, etc. – big kudos! Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, some of which may be known to avid readers of 3pp-material. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Wendall Roy’s latest In the Company installment is a masterpiece, pure and simple. It excels in writing and rules-language, provides a ridiculous amount of bang for buck and does so with panache aplomb. The multi-attack monster is a hard trope to get right and the sheer breadth of aberrations this had to cover is daunting. The fact that this allows you to play a vast array of aberration concepts via both races and class options, tweak them and further enhance the options makes this absolutely amazing.

I am hard to impress at this point. I have seen A LOT. Add to that the fact that I also require races to feel unique and worthwhile enough to integrate them in the first place. Add to that the vast breadth Wendall had to cover. Insert a wide open archetype and a really rewarding racial paragon class with a ton of player agenda and moving parts. By all accounts, this pdf should have stumbled at some point. And I tried pretty hard to find hiccups, flaws in the engine. Apart from the very rare and mostly cosmetic minor glitch, I did not find what I was almost certain would be here. Instead, I found beauty. The options presented herein are potent and tick off a lot of the things I usually complain about, power-level-wise, but when they do, they do so with often subtle, really interesting balancing mechanics to keep them in line.

Beyond being an impressive feat as a writer, this represents an impressive feat as a designer and frankly outclasses even his amazing supplements on dragons and rakshasas, as far as I’m concerned. This is a phenomenal toolkit, which, courtesy of the breadth of options, could carry a whole aberration party. The array of races and wide open archetype, the clever paragon class – this is, in case you haven’t noticed by now, a piece of excellence as far as I’m concerned. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars +seal of approval and I nominate this as a candidate for my Top ten of 2017. If you remotely like aberrations, then get this. (As an aside: GMs, this is also pretty much the ultimate aberration-cultist toolkit…)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Aberrations
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Kaiju Codex (5e)
by Justin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/11/2017 12:03:44

This is a great book! Instantly had tons of fun adventure ideas for my players, will be doing a short "one shot" starting next week and plan to use kaiju more in the future!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Kaiju Codex (5e)
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Kaiju Codex (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/05/2017 05:47:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The 5e-version of Rite Publishing’s superb Kaiju Codex clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 44 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

We all have been there at one point, at least once we have a certain amount of experience under our belt; the point where the tarrasque looks…kinda unimpressive, but when it has actually been done in a campaign. At that point, we are looking for other ginormous creatures of immense power, we’re looking for mythic, impressive, really, really big adversaries. Well, the Kaiju Codex seeks to provide exactly that. Kaiju, much like the tarrasque, are as much plot devices as they are monsters, They are not necessarily made to be vanquished. In the same way that you can’t knock out a hurricane or an earthquake, they are challenges for the most epic of heroes – and frankly, even these may well be outclassed by them.

Now, as monsters of such an epic proportion, it should come as no surprise that the Kaiju depicted herein have legendary actions at their disposal – moreover, they are ridiculously large creatures – Colossal, in fact. Thing is, 5e per default does not have rules for that, so you should be aware of the fact that, by virtue of sheer size, the kaiju featured herein take less damage from most attacks by smaller creatures – half damage, in fact. Only level 9 spells and attacks by similarly monumental creatures still inflict the regular damage value and yes, the kaiju depicted herein can further decrease that amount via resistances and saving throws. Cool: Siege Monster does actually work against them, which is a nice touch in the details. Now, build-wise, the kaiju depicted herein will make some of you who are more mechanically-minded scratch their heads for a second – you see, the attack values and damage values seem to be wonky at first glance – there is a reason for that: If a kaiju’s Constitution modifier exceeds the Strength or Dexterity modifier of the respective creature, it is used instead of these as a governing attribute. I’m primarily mentioning this for the convenience of my readers, so should you endeavor to rebuild these, well there you go.

Now, format-wise, there are obviously weird anime-esque kaiju herein; but similarly, you’ll be able to find ones steeped in medieval mythology as well. All kaiju featured herein come with excellent, full-color artworks. It should also be noted that you are not restricted to use them as Cloverfield-style backdrops/plot-devices – we all know that players want to fight ridiculously massive monsters and the pdf does acknowledge this- via the inclusion of the iron giant. Whether Saber Rider’s Ramrod or the more well-known mega-zords, the Iron Knight takes that role – it is basically a massive mech that is piloted by the collective of the party. There are four key-roles for crewing the mech, meaning that even smaller groups should be capable of using it: Commander, Driver, Engineer and Gunner, though, to be honest, none are required to properly use this massive construct – so yeah, whle not ideal, smaller groups can pilot this massive mecha, though occupying a position also means that the mecha’s effectiveness increases. An artifact, the Star of Daikaiju, btw. allows you to command kaiju – so that would be another option to introduce them in your game; perhaps the villain has it; perhaps the PCs get the artifact and command a kaiju (hand them the stats and watch the PCs go to town with the kaiju – did so once in my campaign and it was epic…), so yes, the book allows for a variety of different uses of kaiju.

The colossal monsters introduced herein don’t necessarily need to be evil or ugly, mind you – there would, for example be a thoroughly cute flying squirrel-style being; the mighty Adam, the Defender; strange quasi divine beings like Inu or the ridiculously massive Hurbun, the big goblin – while the latter is evil, he also represents a trope that more than one player will most assuredly enjoy. Of course, really twisted monstrosities are found within the pdf – from the Beast of the Deepest Depth to Great Charybdis, we have some nasty threats herein that represent the classic idea of colossal creatures lurking in the abyssal depth of the ocean.

Of course, the trope of the dread thing from the stars also is covered – with e.g. Neuros, the Brain between Worlds or “That Which the Stars Rejected”…and there is the “Voice from Beyond”, which should put a BIG smile on fans of the classic Kull-stories; the sentient perfect storm, a natural force of annihilation; a mech designed by the ant-like formians; the dread drainer of giants; Inu and Iruk, which could have jumped straight from eastern mythology…there are a lot of amazing beings within these pages. Xel’unchek, a living diabolical siege engine, and Yssian, the abyssal engine, would make for planar weapons of mass destruction that most assuredly should be more than capable of ending blasé reactions to the forces of the outer planes. Particularly creepy for me personally would be the world-ender-level “Kudzu, the Everblight” (challenge 24 and by far not the most powerful thing herein…), a horrid, nigh unstoppable plant horror… Or what about trying to best the worldshaker, the animate form of the world’s very core?

It needs to be said that this pdf, while a bestiary/monster manual-style supplement, is not a dry read – each of the kaiju featured within these pages comes with a well-written, neat story that elucidates the nature of the kaiju in question, often providing some rather cool ideas to use them in your game.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous full-color artworks for the kaiju. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

So, I’m a sucker for big critters; in fact, the original Kaiju Codex made my Top Ten-list, and for good reason. Brandes Stoddard has done an amazing job at translating the coolness and high-concept original file to 5e. He did not take the easy route, instead going for a translation that is well in line with the system’s aesthetics. The kaiju in question feature the proper signature tricks they should have and his elegant translation of the Iron knight’s mecha-rules also makes for a fun mini-game style bonus – in short: I love this. The only reason this does not get a nomination as a candidate for my Top Ten of the year is that the original pdf managed to score on that year’s list and I have a policy that prevents the like. That being said, this is an excellent example of how a conversion should be handled and well worth a final rating of 5 stars + seal of approval – this is very much recommended if the concepts of gigantic, horrid threats even remotely intrigues you…and frankly, who’s not intrigued by it? Sometimes, size does matter…

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
by Carl C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/05/2017 03:26:55

Adventure Quarterly seeks to be the spiritual successor to Dungeon Magazine, a very tall order. It took Dungeon many, many years to become what it was in the best days with Paizo. But AQ delivers surprisingly well. The adventures are fun and varied, with opportunities for both exploration, interaction, and combat. NPCs have motivations beyont their immediate goals, a key when the GM role-plays them. The custom-made illustrations are adequate and clear, useful as handouts and descriptions. Actually, the artwork is so good that the magazine could increase the page count simply by giving it more space - it feels a little cramped sometimes. The maps go from useful to inspired. For someone like me who uses a flatscreen TV as a play surface, maps like these that are more than just the walls are a godsend. Overall, I cannot recommend AQ enough, and would like to see its circulation spread so that it can become more than just quarterly and generally have more resources to play around with.

/Carl Cramér



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Adventure Quarterly #7 (PFRPG)
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Game Master's Guide to Kaidan
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/12/2017 04:39:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 221 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 216 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review. Furthermore, I was a backer of the KS that made this book. I was not in any way involved in the production of this book.

However, there is one thing you need to know: I am a Japanophile of sorts and as such, I am predisposed to liking this book.

But what exactly is Kaidan? The short answer, obviously, would be "A Japanese Horror Setting." - This, however, does not really help, so let us take a step back for now and talk about the representation of Asian cultures in most (Western) RPGs. You see, at least if you're like me and really into foreign cultures and their myths and peculiarities, you'll quickly notice that the way in which Asian cultures tend to be blended - influences and concepts from Chinese and (sometimes) Korean myths are blended with Japanese concepts to create a hodgepodge. Now that per se it not something I have an issue with. In fact, I do enjoy, to a degree, this melting pot blending.

At the same time, this left me, at least partially dissatisfied. Beyond modern authors like Murakami or classics like Dazai, the classics, from Genji to the folklore faithfully transcribed by Lafcadio Hearn, the Japanese culture has a truly distinct cultural tradition I adore. Moreover, the mythology and tales offer a vast panorama of adventuring potential far beyond those usually quoted by modern roleplaying games.

Kaidan, then, tries to be very much an authentically Japanese setting; at the same time, it does not fall into the trap of just reproducing cultural texts by different names or a varied emphasis, weaving a myth of a land that is similar, yet also very much distinct. This is more of a feat than you'd think at first glance, particularly considering the way in which mythology and religion has influenced and continues to influence Japanese culture to this date. But let me explain: The history of the islands known as Wa at one point, destined to become the lands of Kaidan, is one of immigration, paradoxically - it is a tale of the human ethnicity of the Anu and their beliefs mingling with that of the yokai, ultimately giving birth to what would develop into the stand-in for Shintoism, the Yokintoism. Kami, shrines, the concept of Mitama - all have been properly represented. Similarly, the second religion that has deeply influenced Kaidan, perhaps more so than Ykintoism, would be Zaoism...but more on that later.

Before we come to the original catastrophe that wrecked Kaidan, we should take a gander at the races featured herein: Anu (human variant, distinct from the Kaidanese), Henge, Kappa, Kitsune, Korobokuru and Tengu are included in the deal: While fans of Kaidan may recall a couple of them featuring in previous Kaidan-supplements, it bears mentioning for the new folks that the balancing of these races is pretty much pitch-perfect - the henge-variants, for example, never are lopsided. In short: The races are suitable for even grittier games and low-powered gaming, also courtesy of their unique abilities and racial traits: Korobokuru, for example, have an intrinsic loathing of violence, whereas the kitsune featured herein may e consummate shapechangers, yes - but at the same time, when in great distress, their concealing magics may partially fail, revealing fox-like characteristics. It is these small tidbits that make the races align more closely with the myths we know - and at the same time, they represent narrative angles and roleplaying potential steeped deeply within the lore of the setting and its culture. It should be noted that this is the GM book and while age, height and weight tables as well as some alternate racial traits have been included, no favored class options or the like can be found - I expect those to show up in the Player's Guide.

The existence of these races beyond the realms of myth is by the way more than window dressing - the races and their unique perspectives on religion, etc. and their interactions with the humans have ultimately shaped the land; they are not only believable cultures, they are deeply entrenched within the setting, with histories of dogmaticism and conflict engendering further a form of isolationalism and distrust towards strangers that not only extends to gaijin. Kaidan is wondrous, but it should not be thought of as a realm defined by being welcoming to strangers.

Which brings me back, full circle, to Zaoism. Zaoism is one of my favorite re-imaginations of basically any philosophy or religion ever. It fills the role that Buddhism has in Japanese cultural development, but does so in a genius way. Why genius? Because, as an atheist and humanist, Buddhism's philosophical teachings, if not the beliefs, resound with me. Kaidan inverts them thoroughly and constructs a take on the concept of reincarnation that is shattered - and it ties in with the famous feud between the Minamoto and Taira clans that most scholar of Japanese lore should be familiar with.

Let me engage in a brief digression here: Kaidan literally can be transcribed as the kanji for "recited narrative" and "strange, supernatural or uncommon occurence"; during the Edo period, telling ghost stories became a kind of competitive endeavor, a past time ostensibly reaching back to samurai testing their will, morale and mettle in an age where enlightenment had not yet vanquished the phantasms of superstition. As such, the tales had a performance character and, all too often, a psychological component - they were not focused on being in your face or startling in the traditional sense, instead building on tension and dread, slowly, steadily - often subverting the sense that the "world was right", if you will. A certain existential anxiety regarding merciless rules of the spirit world or a breaking, unwilling or not, thereof, suffuses these tales and makes them effective, even to this date.

And this is what ties in, once again, with the Minamoto/Taira-feud and Zaoism - you see, the Minamoto, much like in our world, won. However, unlike in our world, magic exists. And forms of malevolence exist as well. And thus, the curse was born: The ritual suicide and curse of the last of the Taira was so potent it severed Kaidan's connections from all but two spiritual realms: Jingoku and Yomi. Mists arose (And here, ladies and gentlemen, would be the OBVIOUS Ravenloft angle - Kaidan works PERFECTLY in conjunction with our favorite demiplane of dread...) and envelopped the lands. Escape seems impossible, with only death seemingly providing release - but not even death can save the populace, for the wheel is broken - the concept of enlightenment through pure living can no longer be attained. Kaidan is an eternal purgatory, represents the horror of perpetual, eternal spiritual stagnation....one represented perfectly by the eternal emperor and his undead daimyo, risen from the waters to reign forevermore over these lands...but then again, at least the undead overlords keep the oni hordes at bay...

This concept and the logical consequence of an undead ruling caste seeking to establish a power base ties in perfectly with the historical developments of the lands of Kaidan and explains in a succinct and concise manner not only the nature of the caste system in place here, but also how it came to be...and why it has been deeply ingrained in the moral fiber of the people living in these lands - the rationalizations and secrets revealed here make perfect sense and give further credence to the pervading sense of authenticity that suffuses this book.

It should be noted, that, from Miko Shrine maidens to warrior archetypes for NPC Sohei, the book also addresses, in quite a lot of detail, in fact, how class options interact with the world - that, for example, most priests do not have the powers of a cleric and instead are experts; that not all religious warriors are the undead-slaying yamabushi paladins...the general sense evoked by these balanced and flavorful class options is that they represent the exception, tying cultural status and a role within the respective social strata into the concept.

Let us reiterate: The web of culture, history, religion, and classes generates a thoroughly sensible and unique panorama, one that is supported by an interesting cosmology indeed. However, the main meat of this book undoubtedly would be the gazetteer-style overview of the fully-mapped regions of the archipelago, including a vast array of settlement statblocks...and secrets. This is the Gamemaster's Guide, after all, so the identity of lords, adventure hooks and the like can all be found herein - and since these would constitute undue SPOILERS, I will refrain from commenting on them.

What I will comment on, however, is the wonderful fact that we get whole chapters on life and death of the populace - and yes, if you've been a fan of the Project Zero (aka Fatal Frame) games, you should realize that the amount of truly horrific potential and dark rites depicted in these games make for a perfect fit, theme-wise, for Kaidan. is a land where NOONE is free. The concept of reincarnation, any life after death, has an inherent horror that is used to great effect by pretty much all religions - from the threat of hell to "demotion" to a lesser creature. In Kaidan, it is very much real and the inevitability of the broken wheel of reincarnation just further emphasizes the futility of struggle, the illusion of free will that is, ultimately, the consequence of a life after death - after all, this eliminates the freedom to choose annihilation. In Kaidan, paradoxically, there is no enlightenment - not even the reward, the consequence - instead, we get a karma system to determine player reincarnation one that ultimately comes full circle for even the most potent of nobles. Via magic diseases, as yurei or via other means - there is no end, no breaking of the cycle, a samsaran's ultimate nightmare of a world gone haywire, of a deck stacked against all of the world's inhabitants: As the book astutely sums up: Evil is ascendant, life is hard, the supernatural is hidden, magic is divine, tenmei is absolute and death is not the end.

The book, being a GM book, also elaborates on the types of fear you may wish to evoke and the strategies. Organizations, extensive mundane equipment, armor and weaponry complement the book, and from honor to wealth (and the relative scarcity of metal), there are a lot of different factors - and they, ultimately, all make SENSE. Speaking of which: The traditions of magic and the feeling of the setting, to a degree, is greatly enhanced by the spell-section of all candidates. Steven. D. Russell (at least if I understand correctly), has written a metric ton of power word-spells for all levels, as that is a dominant casting tradition in Kaidan. The effects are actually subtle: At low levels, maintaining health, already important, can become even more vital. Similarly, with options that can cause characters to attack allies or take one out of the fights for a few rounds, the combat requires more flexibility and strategy by the players - and indeed, the spells change the paradigm of quite a few encounters, potentially adding some very iconic scenes to the fray. And yes, condition-power and hit point limits are correlated in a rather well-crafted manner. While I would not allow all of these spells in a high fantasy game, where min-maxing and option-breadth can provide horrid combos, these work perfectly in the context of Kaidan.

Tsukumogami, haunted objects, if you will, are covered in the book with a variety of evocative and cool examples, and so are ancestral relics, magic items that grow in potency over the levels. From teh bones and remnants of the fallen, to enchanting brushes, we also get a couple of nice magic items and some solid feats. Shikigami stats can be found and the book concludes with a great, inspirational appendix as well as a glossary. And while we're speaking of language: Did I mention the dialect rules? Well, now I did.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-language level, though, on a formal level, one can find a couple of minor, typo-level glitches like one of the magic items having a weight of "ZZ" - nothing serious, but notable for perfectionists. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard with red headers. The gorgeous original b/w-artworks throughout the book are amazing and thematically consistent. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is most assuredly a nice book I'm glad to own.

Kaidan's concept was envisioned by Michael K. Tumey, penned by Jonathan McAnulty, with additional writing by the late and sorely missed Steven D. Russell - and all of these gentlemen did a fantastic job here. Kaidan is not a splat-book in disguise - it is an honestly amazing campaign setting oozing with detail; it is a campaign setting that is characterized perfectly by its exceedingly strong leitmotifs, by its internal consistency and the strong authorial vision that shaped the book. This does not try to accommodate Western tropes and mindsets where they don't fit, instead electing to concisely weave together elements into a whole that is infinitely more compelling than the sum of its parts. This is not the book to get when you're looking for high-powered options; the crunch, while solid, is not necessarily the draw here. This is a horror setting with a thoroughly disquieting, subtle sense of wrongness pervading the world, a tome that has tragedy and the creepy hardwired into its very fabric.

It is in the nature of the setting that I can't write "OMG; CHECK OUT THAT CR 40 OLD-ONE!!"; this is not about startling, about escalation - this setting is subtle in its horror, building dread and tension slowly without relying on cheap shocks. I tried hard to convey why I adore this setting the way I do, but it is hard to convey without representing the totality, as, much like in the weaving of real world myths, it is not simply a narrative that exists in a vacuum, but rather an organically-grown complex. It should be taken as a testament to the authors' respective prowess. In short: Kaidan is awesome. It is a great, inspiring read and if you even remotely are interested in Japanese horror, then this is a no-brainer. Even if you have never contemplated checking it out, this may well be a true breath of fresh air for you. As you may have gleaned, I adore this book. It is inspired and inspiring in all the right ways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and I nominate this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Game Master's Guide to Kaidan
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10 Wight Magic Items
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/04/2017 09:25:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion of magic items for the less than stellar playable wight-race clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin with the bone breaker club, which inflicts +50% damage versus "skeletons and creatures with exoskeletons or brittle construction." Oh boy. This is not starting off well. So a) 50% of WHAT? Str-mod included? Precision damage? Before or after crits? MESSY. Also: "skeletons" are a specific creature - so not to skeletal champions etc.? What the EFF is a "brittle construction" in rules-terms?? It gets better: 5/day, you can break a bone upon successfully dealing damage. Breaking a bone caused short-term penalties. That don't even require healing to get better. Oh, and it lacks the information of what type of action is used to activate this ability.

The cowl of compassion nets a +4 bonus to Diplomacy and a 1/day reroll when dealing with living humanoids, but only for undead wearers...at least that's what I surmised. Boring filler. The crown of the barrow wight king sounds cool, right? +4 to Diplomacy and Intimidate versus undead and 1/day control undead...facepalms I don't have to explain this one, right? Continuing the array of uninspired filler, the slightly modified spell-in-a-can cryptwalker's boots allow you to teleport back to previously visited locations of death and slaughter like crypts, battlefields, etc. - living creatures thus transported are staggered for an hour on a failed save.

THANKFULLY, the next item is something different: The gray heart contains a reservoir of hit points equal to the wielder's "charisma score." That should be capitalized. Upon being reduced to zero hit points, the gray heart's hit points act as a buffer before death. Also, undead are not "dying" (that being a condition in PFRPG), but are "destroyed". The hit points in a gray heart can be refilled via draining SPs or spells, healing, etc. - but oddly not via SUs and the like. Installing such a heart causes 15 hit points of damage (OOOHHH!) and renders the character staggered for 24 hours. This item being slot-less. Negative charms absorb up to 30 points of positive energy damage. "The wearer of the charm does not make a Will save for half damage from channeled positive energy." Okay, but can he? You know, successful save = half damage...and it being slotless...does it allow for one character to have more of them??

Packmaster's hunting cloak is a sucky skill-bonus item that lacks the proper bonus type. Restorative funeral boards allow undead resting on them to regain hit points and ability score damage as though alive and prevents the living from doing so, while also instilling the fatigued condition. Classic item that has serious ramifications of a world's in-game logic and realities - GMs should carefully consider what this means for the game...

The thrall pendants are keyed to master pendants: The master knows where the thralls are, has an empathic link with the thralls at an enhanced range and the master may designate a creature to gain a boost to Strength and temporary hit points "for up to 2 rounds" at the end of round two, the undead creature "dies from overload." Oh, dear d12. Undead don't "die". The pdf lacks the information on how to designate a "master pendent[sic!]"; it only costs 2K. How does the destruction work? Does it have a cooldown for the two rounds? Can the master designate less time? If an undead has once benefited from it, does the 2-round timer reset? Why is there no save? Put one on a lich, two rounds later, it goes kablooey. WTF.

Vambraces of control tie into the horribly broken frenzy and urge mechanics. There is no legacy item in this pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent on a formal level. On a rules-language level, I am astonished how many issues have crept into these extremely basic items. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the artwork on the cover is the best thing about this pdf.

I REALLY hoped that Aaron Phelps' items would fare better than his race. They don't. These items are extremely basic, sport filler galore (which is really bad at this length and not something we usually see in Rite Publishing's creative item-pdfs!), manage to get rules-terminology wrong in spite of the lack of complexity and universally are lame. The filler items would have been lame back in 2010. 2017, they are inexcusable.

I can try to being relativist here, but the matter of fact remains: There is not a single item herein I'd consider worthwhile. They either are boring, basic, or problematic in some way. The gray heart is halfway decent, but that's not enough, not by a long shot. Even for the low price point, this is not a worthy addition to Rite Publishing's canon and I can't find any way to actually recommend this to anyone. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
10 Wight Magic Items
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In The Company of Wights (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2017 13:35:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing's "In the Company of..."-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

All right, we begin this pdf with a heart-warming dedication to the founder of Rite Publishing, Steven D. Russell, who has left us too soon. After this, though, it is similarly heart-warming to see that the traditions of master Russell live on - we begin with an in-character letter of a member of the race, sent to Qwilion of Questhaven, the scribe that is responsible for collecting these pieces of information in the context of the great meta-narratives that suffuse these books.

Thus, as has become the tradition, the flavor-text presented to us would be written from the point of view of the species "We are the hollowed" - indeed! Intelligent, sentient wights spawned from strong souls, these beings sport a glowing gaze and retain the previous race's racial characteristics like height and they, obviously, stop aging -as such, this time around, we actually don't need an age, height or weight table and the racial traits replace those of the base race, but more on that later. The pdf elaborates on society...or rather, about how to fit in with the living and dead...and there is the Urge - the wights herein do crave the essence of the living and there are those that have succumbed to the Urge, while others resist it - the scenario is, roleplay-wise, not unlike that of the World of Darkness.

Now, regarding racial traits, we begin by acknowledging the first issue -as quasi-undead, the wights depicted herein (who call themselves the hollowed) have no Constitution, which would render them OP via most character creation methods - hence, ways to use them in a balanced context with point-buy etc. are included. The hollowed get +2 to an ability score of their choice and retain their former humanoid's race influences speed and size - either Small or Medium. As a minor nitpick: Size-categories are capitalized in PFRPG. As modified undead, the hollowed gain darkvision 60 ft., are immune to bleed and death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep and stunning and are immune to Fort-save resisted effects, unless these can affect objects.

They may not be raised from the dead (spell references not italicized) but may be returned to become living beings. They get +1/2 their HD as a racial bonus to resist mind-affecting effects. They are healed by negative energy, harmed by positive energy (this wording is a bit non-standard, but works). Hollowed are also immune to nonlethal damage, ability drain or energy drain and they are immune to damage to physical attributes as well as to exhaustion and fatigue, but are also immediately destroyed upon being reduced to 0 hp. Sooo...this is ALMOST full undead immunities. Beyond that, they gain a +2 racial bonus to Intimidate...so what does the Urge bring to the table, balance-wise? Well, death's stigma imposes a grant total -1 per level to Diplomacy (not properly capitalized) when dealing with the living and a similar penalty to Disguise (also not properly capitalized) when trying to pass as a living creature.

When "violence is enacted in the presence of a hollowed", the hollowed has to succeed a Will-save versus 15 + 1/2 current HD (is 1 rounded down? I assume no...) or attack the closest creature. On a successful save, they are immune to the Urge. Succumbing to the Urge allows for rerolls of Perception checks to determine the undead nature of the hollowed. At 1st level, hollowed succumbing to the urge get +2 to hit and damage and HEAL BY THE AMOUNT OF THE DAMAGE CAUSED. Okay, let's play, shall we? What's the range of "violence caused" that may trigger the Urge? Does "attacking closest creature" include spells and abilities? What's the bonus type the Urge is supposed to grant? The wording there is wonky. After the first attack, the hollowed can attempt a fixed DC 15 Will-save to stop, but otherwise, their frenzy continues for 1d3 rounds. The bonuses increase by +2 every six levels. Does that mean 1->7->13->19 or 1->6->12->18? No idea. Wanna hear a joke? If that sounds like a hassle (WHY?? FREE INFINITE HEALING WITH JUST A KITTEN!!!), you can suppress the urge at the start of a day...and boohoo, you do take devastating -2 to Wisdom-based skill checks. This is a non-entity of a balance-mechanism. It allows for infinite healing "Quick, throw kittens to our half dead undead compadre!", fails to specify crucial ability interactions...and simply is not precise enough.

Beyond that, undead PC races tend to be problematic due to their gazillion immunities - hence why Rite Publishing's own, chassis-wise vastly superior restless souls tweaked that for even gritty game compatibility. If you're shooting for powerful, but balanced undead races, both Kobold Press' amazing darakhul and AAW Games' dødelig do a better job at making the race as a whole not break the game - this race needs a whack with the nerfbat for undead immunities and drawbacks that matter. RAW they only have the undead fragility-thing going for them and that is the least favorite part of playing undead of pretty much every player I know. Similarly, the reassigning of points for characters turned hollowed in play is okay...but imho still pales before the restless souls.

The race gets 3 alternate racial traits: Clung to Life "eliminate the effects of constant decay" - which should refer to the Death's Stigma drawback by name - the hollowed lose the Disguise penalty, but also loses immunity to bleed, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep and stunning "but instead gains a resistance of 1 + 1/2 their Hit Dice" - WTF is that supposed to mean? A bonus to saves versus such effects? Resistance =/= save bonuses in PFRPG. That is a non-entity, rules-language-wise. Also, the language mentions one losing the Disguise drawback (but not the Diplomacy) and then mentions replacing the proper drawback by name. Instead of darkvision, these guys can get crypt sense, which works only in crypts or simialr places filled with the dead and duplicates low-light vision...which is weird, considering that most such places will be...well. Dark. Oh, and they can detect bodies within 90 ft, even buried underground...and that is an issue. Do bodies need to be whole? Does lead block it? Do body-parts qualify? Animated bodyparts? The body-based immunities can be replaced with positive energy healing and being hurt by negative energy as though living.

The pdf features 5 favored class options - barbarian, bard, cavalier, rogue and true wight. They are okay, though the rogue's bonus is pretty weak: +1/2 to Stealth checks in dim light or darkness? sign me up. Not.

The pdf also features 3 racial archetypes. The night strider rogue replaces trapfinding with something utterly OP. "When not moving...in dim light and darkness, they gain total concealment. In full light, they gain a +40 on Disguise checks to appear completely dead." Total concealment??? WTF??? KILL IT WITH FIRE. Oh, and the option to " choose to instead do 1d3 points of sneak attack damage and cause their target to become shaken for 1 round." So, is one sneak attack damage die thus reduced? All of them? Is sneak attack total damage reduced to 1d3? This is NON-OPERATIONAL. As a rules-aesthetic aside, the ability should mention that it modifies sneak attack, not just that it replaces trap sense.

The pale rider cavalier gets an undead steed. And instead of banner, he gets an aura of despair, 60 ft., - 2 to saves vs. fear, -1 to attack. At 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter, these penalties increase by -1. This replaces banner. This...generates a dead level at 14th level with greater banner falling by the wayside. It's also...BORING. The definition of a cookie-cutter archetype. I can literally point you to several better undead-rider tropes and heck, full classes. Next.

The final archetype would be the void singers. Bards, in case you haven't figured that . They replace inspire courage with a song that inflicts -1 to attack and Will-saves, which is not language-dependant. Instead of bardic knowledge, they treat the Knowledge skills for Religion, Planes and Dungeoneering as class skills, get +1/2 level as a bonus and a reroll in these checks. The rules-language requires you to infer that this reroll is only available 1/day, courtesy of the scaling of daily uses. Bad. Instead of 6th level's suggestion, they can instill the Urge within a creature! PFFF...BEST ABILITY EVER? Better buffs that a barb's rage plus infinite healing via damage? Ugh, this whole section needs to die in a fiery blaze.

Okay, after this...let's hope that the racial paragon class holds up at least! The True Wight paragon gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref-saves, d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons and light armor. The class abilities are not provided in sequence, but oh well. True Wights gain the option to use the urge sans external stimulus as a free action 1/day. (The ability should note its level, but you can see that in the table.) Also at first level, the true wight gains a death mastery, + an additional one at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter. A total of 13 are provided, which means that there'll be not too much variation here. We have increased speed and this gem: "The true wight gains a swim speed of 30 feet for 1 minute per level." That an (Ex), fyi. This is not how things are done in PFRPG and RAW, this does not work. It has a duration, is hence active and thus needs an activation action.

Internal balance is also off here: Locate a corpse of ANYONE they knew for 24 hours or longer? Come again? Wight police state? Oh, and perfect identification of corpses, no matter the state of decay or mutilation? This wrecks so many plots, it's not even funny. Detaching limbs is a cool concept, but the complex rules-language required to make it work is nowhere near represented here. A particular gem regarding two detached limbs is the following: "If both limbs are together, they can perform trip attacks using the true wight's CMB -1." What's "together"? Do they provoke AoOs? What size are they?

Well, you get the idea. 4th level nets a claw attack that does not specify whether it's primary or secondary, does not take true wight size into account and has the wrong dice size. 10th level nets "Damage Reduction 1", which increases by 1 for every two levels thereafter. Spot the extremely obvious style deviation... 10th level and 15th level allow for burst-like control of undead nearby. Rules-language isn't perfect, but functional. At 10th level, creatures they slay can be made into spawn and one such spawn may be controlled at any given time. The creature must be 2 or more levels below the wight...unless a PC, which makes no sense. Why not base this off Leadership? At 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the class gets to choose from its second talent array, the living weapon-subsection of talents.

Here, we have 8 gazes and they fail to mention that the scaling DC should be based on CLASS levels, not levels, and the gaze's effects similarly sport that omission in the duration. These gazes are btw. pretty powerful and mention the antagonized condition sans explanation ( It does exist and I love it, see Ultimate Charisma by Everyman Gaming, but considering the glitch-density, I am not sure if that's intended). 5th level lets the wight choose daze for save-or-suck (too soon) and, stupidly, the stunned condition, worse than dazed, does not have a level prerequisite. Also: prerequisite formatting is not done like this "Prerequisite: True wight 8" - it's "A true wight must be at least 8th level to select this living weapon." - but that as an educational, aesthetic aside. Also: Spell-reference not italicized for the level 8 prereq-gaze that causes insanity. Compare that to the mesmerist. Yeah... Okay, one saving grace - the gazes behave as hexes -one save and you're immune for 24 hours against that specific gaze. Oh, and action economy? No idea. Can a wight maintain multiple gazes at once? What's the action?

Alternative abilities in this talent-suite net a bite (not properly codified, but at least the damage-die size is correct- for Medium wights... 1/day, 15th+ level wights may cause death with their natural attacks against creatures with lower HD. Save or suck, does it require a hit? Is it a touch attack? No idea. Ridiculous: "The true wight's natural attack gains the ability to cause 1d6 cold damage. Creatures that take damage roll a Fortitude save, DC 10 + Wis modifier or become staggered for 1d3 rounds." Do I even have to pick that apart? I'll ignore formatting deviations for now. Is this cold damage INSTEAD of the regular damage? Oh, and it provides INFINITE STAGGERLOCKS at 3rd level. That sound? That's my head. And a desk. The same lack of clarity pertains, just fyi, also the talent that adds Str AND Dex damage to attacks...though that at least only can be used 3/day. As a capstone, creatures hit can become spawn, he can break the HD-limit to control weak undead and gets immunity against "mind effect spells and abilities." I'll let that stand here.

We close the pdf with 3 feats: +1 DC for gazes. Whoopdiedoo. The second feat gets rid of the "obviously dead trait" - guess what? THAT RACIAL TRAIT DOES NOT EXIST. It's called "Death's Stigma, for cryin' out loud. There also is a "Team Work Feat"[sic!], improperly formatted, which nets blindsense (sans range! Full strength!) as well as "+1 AC dodge bonus, +1 to hit and damage, +3 to hit when flanking and you cannot be flat-footed" while within 60 feet of another hallowed. Bonus types. Wording. Power. Urgh.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are good. On a rules-language levels, they're BAD and even inconsistent with themselves. Formatting is all over the place, wording conventions are flaunted left and right and abilities become more opaque than they have any right to be, considering analogue precedence cases. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports nice full-color artworks.

Aaron Phelps' pdf started out so well. The prose in the beginning was glorious and the dedication to Steve pulled at my heart's strings. The flavor was great and when the race started taking character creation into account, I was pretty optimistic.

...

Yeah, that did not last long. This is gonna be harsh and I apologize to the author for it, but there is no way around it: The race is overpowered, has an utterly broken, defining feature and needs a complete rewrite. There are issues in the nomenclature, even in the internal one. There are copious rules-syntax and rules-semantics violations here. The archetypes are universally boring, cookie-cutter and ill-conceived and would have received a thrashing from me back in 2010; 2017? Just NO. Unfortunately, the racial paragon class is flawed as well, violating finer details of the rules, lacking crucial information for several components and promoting utterly cheesy and bad exploits. Rules-language is all over the place and nowhere near the level of precision required by PFRPG, and I'm not even going to bother explaining how neither balance with other options, nor within the options available, is anywhere near the required standards.

This is not on par with the 3pp-quality standards we have all fought so hard for and needs a complete rewrite of EVERYTHING rules-related. If I had to dev this, I'd scrap it and rewrite it from scratch.

This is in particularly BAFFLING, when gazes have been done by the mesmerist and when there are not one, but THREE vastly superior, excellent undead PC options, my favorite of which, Steven D. Russell's Restless Souls, does btw. everything this tries to do better - and it is several years old. And released by Rite publishing as well. And if you really want the hunger aspect, get Ben McFarland's Darakhul. And if you want to play Small undead, get AAW Games' dødelig.

I tried very hard to find anything positive to say about this - and apart from "The lore is cool (but also kinda redundant with Steve's restless souls around...)..." I drew a blank and came up with nothing. If you want to go for the lore, great...but as a reviewer, I can't. Aaron Phelps contributed to the Martial Arts Guidebook back in the day, if I recall correctly, so no idea what happened here. My final verdict cannot exceed 1.5 stars...with the lore making me round up. Barely.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Wights (PFRPG)
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10 Kingdom Seeds: Plains (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/23/2017 06:04:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This inexpensive pdf clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

After a brief piece of introductory fluff, we dive right into the nit and grit of this file, namely villages that you can use to craft, bingo, kingdoms from them - each of these settlements comes with a village statblock, but does not end there: Beyond a small summary of the village, we also get one or more sites of interest and 3 different rumors per village to potentially jumpstart adventures from.

So that's the format employed here - but what kind of villages are we talking about? Well, for starters, LG Belpond, is a surprisingly lawful and cozy village of guild-organized structures, where a visit of the local tavern may see your pockets emptied...only to have the goods be returned to you before leaving! Lightley, in contrast, would be a LE thorp of only 13 folks and is known for its bears.

Taking the example of settlements tied to creatures, the hamlet Morlea, situated between these spectra of the alignment axis at LN, actually does not rest - instead, it follows the migration patterns of the mammoths, making for an interesting and rather evocative backdrop. Ornesse would be an interesting, touristy destination with serious population fluxes, for the chariot race tracks always draw plentiful folks to the hamlet during the racing season.

In contrast to this place, the folks of Prydwin are living by their herbs, which are grown in excessive herb gardens that are meticulously maintained by the populace. Have I mentioned the druidess and her pest-devouring chameleon companion? Revale is either white or red - steeped in snow or showcasing its red sandstone beauty - and the theme of color extends to the primary industry, which hinges upon the extraction of color from rare lichen. Unlike its name, the hamlet shadowhurst is actually known to be a rather lively place, famed for its straw-related craftsmanship and corn.

Soulhill sounds foreboding - and indeed, the village, after an uprising and burning of the previous rulers, has taken to a rather selfish and dangerous demeanor. Westerfox is build around a horseshoe-shaped abbey, with sprawling buildings around, and represents a community that is rather disciplined and tight-knit - formally a meritocracy, but in fact, controlled by a nasty elite. Finally, Woodedge would be a place you don't want to visit: Buried in banks of tall flowers and flanked by beehives, it may seem idyllic enough, but gigantic bees and rather nasty halflings make this place a dangerous prospect for visitors.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience: While the bookmarks haven't been labeled properly, they are functional. The pdf sports nice full-color artworks.

Liz Smith delivers a nice variety of small settlements to visit and develop. The respective places have sufficiently diverse themes to make this worthwhile and while I wished this had more room for the individual villages, it does provide enough to jumpstart one's imagination. Considering the very fair price point and the writing, which provides a nice array of different concepts this time around, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars - and due to the low price, I'll round up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
10 Kingdom Seeds: Plains (PFRPG)
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101 Plains Spells (PFRPG)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/22/2017 12:07:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at a massive 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with an impressive 59 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are few environments with such a bad rep as plains - compared to trackless deserts, swamps or mountains, there are next to no good modules or supplements for them out there. In fact, it took Frog God Games' phenomenal "Fields of Blood" to make them really stand out and finally get their due.

The pdf provides spell-lists for all pre-Occult Adventures spellcasting classes, organized by class first, then by level and then alphabetically.

Oh, one more thing: This review was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at teh request of my patreons.

All right, so far these terrain-specific spell-books by David J. Paul have been characterized by pure excellence, but can this pdf retain this impressive streak? Let's see!

Taking a look at the spell-selection provided herein, we begin with a feasible and interesting variant of disease-curing magic: Alleviate Animal Affliction mitigates the disease suffered by animals, which makes sense in an environment of vast plains, where a broken leg of one's horse may well spell doom for the weary traveler. This is particularly relevant, considering the effects of spells like sore horse or the ability to summon giant drone ants as mounts - come on, that is damn cool!

Once again, the pdf provides a selection of spells that is directly entwined with the terrain: For example, while ankheg's awareness is a pretty straight attribute-buff when considered neutrally, those that cast the spell in a plains terrain also gain senses even further extended. In a great and fun interaction with the material component, an ankheg's leg, we also gain additional abilities within the hunting grounds (qualified, area-wise, btw.!) of the ankheg used in the casting of the spell. This is a simple operation and frankly, one that more magic should sort: It rewards players for engaging with the world, nets a GM an easy way to motivate PCs and also explains potentially nasty advantages of spellcasters in their home-turf.

This design-paradigm is btw. one that thankfully graces the spells contained herein rather often. These interactions that modify the spellcasting engine per se are not limited to the interaction with the terrain or creatures, though - if one takes a look at the Assured Diviner spell, for example, one can see that characters with the knowledge domain, lore mystery or the lore spirit double the duration of the spell. While the base spell is not one I'd consider mind-blowing, it is this thematic connection that rewards character choices that makes this remarkable, at least to me. I am a big proponent of diversification among characters and the more player choices matter, the better - spells often are rather static and linear pieces of crunch and this pdf taking some of that linearity and tweaking it makes sense in all the right ways.

This also extends to the summoning spells contained herein, with e.g. the atomie gang that you can call forth being an interesting example - while GMs may need to exert a bit of caution regarding these group summon spells, it is interesting to note that chaotic clerics with the arcane subdomain may select the aforementioned spell as a substitute domain spell. Also intriguing: Fey bloodline sorcerors and witches with specific hexes generate the maximum number of creatures summoned, tying the base spell mechanics to player choice here as well.

What made me go "AWWW!" when reading it would be Bevy of Bumblebees - I love bumblebees. They're fat, clumsy and the cutest insects you could fathom. (As an aside - research bumblebees and aerodynamics -the folklore that they can't fly is inaccurate...) While uncontrolled, the giant insects can be held at bay with smoke, allowing for interesting combinations of spells and effects for the savvy players. If there was one prevalent leitmotif to the magic herein, it would most certainly be "choice" - in particular, choice that hinges upon magic feeling less static - it makes sense that those, whose character choices represent the spell thematics can enjoy additional benefits.

Similarly, the terrain-centric and localized benefits make use of the old adage of magic working by appropriating a part for the whole, a maxim most popularly represented in e.g. voodoo dolls. But these do actually, to a degree, entwine. If you takes a look at black art of the bouda, you'll notice the requirement of a bouda's fetish as a focus, which represents an obvious adventuring angle. The spell does allow for a variety of choices themed around the creature - and the abilities directly interact with the choices of abilities tapped in: The more you utilize the powers, the more the total duration of the spell is reduced. This is rewarding from a game-design perspective, as it emphasizes resource-management once again.

What about growing metallic wings, Archangel-style, including the option to fire them? Oh, and you can actually ruffle them in bright conditions, creating a blinding effect. While we're at the topic of spells that should put a smile on the faces of superhero fans - burn on through hearkens to speedster-like acceleration - including overruns with trails of fire. There would also be an interesting cleave herd spell, which can make for a rather intriguing narrative device, allowing you to cause fear among great numbers of animals and magical beasts - either to hunt stragglers or bypass areas that would otherwise be beyond the PC's abilities to traverse.

Beyond the narrative and design-aesthetic components, we should also mention that tactics are an important component for a lot of spells: Divine doe's grace allows the cast to immediate action move, potentially negating attacks (and yes, the spell-level assigned is appropriate for the power this offers). Better yet, the spell's wording manages to make the complex concept work - and emphasizes a concept I very much enjoy. As you may have noticed in a couple of my statements, my own game tends to feature a lot of terrain hazards, shifting frontlines and dynamic arenas. I absolutely loathe it when an epic duel boils down to two characters just trading full attacks for rounds on end. It's boring and non-cinematic to me. However, PFRPG, as a system, rewards exactly this type of melee and every help we can get to render combat more fluctuating, more versatile. The downside of this ambition is, obviously, that it requires some serious consideration on part of the GM and players to make combat this interesting. This pdf does offer quite a few interesting spells that help in this way.

Speaking of tactical options: Remember the tunnels popularized in StarCraft etc. - what about a pathway that modifies spells and allows you to channel spells through the established conduit...and you may reassign its endpoint! So yes, there are some specific spells within this pdf that can radically change the dynamics of combat or make a specific combat unique. Speaking of such scenes that will be kept in mind: Well, there are spells, much like in previous examples of these pdfs, that represent serious ritual-like benefits and generate epic environments - eclipse the sun. The effects of this very powerful spell should be rather evident, right?

Feed from friends, a life-leeching spell, is an excellent example for a spell that manages to depict the vampiric leeching concept in a way that precludes use of kittens or similar cute critters - by virtue of the rules-language focusing on actual hp transference and allies as viable targets - thus, kittens could only yield pitiful amounts of hit points. Big kudos! I tried poking holes in this one and did not succeed. Generating slashing fields of grass is cool - but it is not as cool as Fire Bleeder - this spell launches missiles that cause piercing and bleeding damage - and temporarily adds the fire bleeder Su to the creature hit, which aerosolizes and ignites the blood seeping from bleeding wounds. Alas, as thoroughly amazing as this spell is, I am pretty confident that this ability should not be permanent - the duration reads "instantaneous, see text", which makes me believe that this ability should probably be lost after a certain duration has elapsed.

It should be noted that, in particular these volatile fire spells herein, have additional effect for the pyromaniac goblin race, emphasizing racial spellcasting traditions. Another interesting one would be giant flea leap - which requires the consumption of a potentially sickening drop of blood, but which also allows for VAST jumps when successfully used...oh, and in a feat of internal consistency, the spell actually is easier for alchemists to use. There would also be a variant of mage's magnificent mansion that generates a run-down, gremlin-haunted abode, a Thinner-curse that renders a target incapable of sustaining nutrients, spells that help hunting down the users of the arcane arts...and a spell, which allows you to join the swarm, allowing you to potentially evade a horrid fate AND making for an evocative getaway-strategy. Speaking of swarms - conjuring forth a butterfly swarm (fully statted) at 1st level, a harmless swarm, should provide some interesting options for the adherents of Desna etc.

Relatively accurate long-range forecasts (the coldest winter is coming...), mesmerizing foes via waves of grain or similar plants make for an interesting array of visuals and narrative possibilities - one exemplified as well by the plains clan spell, which generates a kind of mystic union between the participants - and it actually generates a true reason for PCs to strive to become part of a clan; it is a viable benefit provided for belonging. I love this type of design. It also ties in with a low-level spell/cantrip that allows for the easy identification of clan companions.

If you've been waiting for the flashy, devastating high-level spell in this discussion so far, fret not: Prairie Lightning Storm will indeed result in a highly flexible and devastating environment that will even push high-level PCs to their limits. Transmute Gnome to Goblin is an evil polymorph effect that may have significant repercussions on lore. As a minor complaint - variant volume fireball obviously is a more controlled, powerful iteration of the classic spell and as such, it is pretty obvious that it inflicts fire damage, RAW, the spell does not "damage" - sans the type. This is me nitpicking for nitpicking's sake, but I figured it'd be worth mentioning, since the pdf's flaws are so few I honestly need to strain this much to find anything worthwhile to complain about.

What about a spell that adds poisonous tentacles to a given shield, which may be severed by attackers failing to hit you, spraying them with poison? In an environment where horrid blazes can eliminate whole communities, withstand the fire comes at a horrible cost...but also allows you to weather even death by fire, tying into the purification and rebirth effects...and explaining why NPC xyz survived the encounter with the red dragon, why the mystic could live through the cataclysmic inferno. I adore this spell and its serious drawbacks do mean that constant maintenance is not something PCs will want to do.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and a rules-level. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. Artwork-wise, we'd get quite a bunch of cool full color pieces.

David J. Paul's series of spells blows me away. If I were to choose a single series of spellbooks to the exclusion of all others for my PFRPG-games, it would be this one. Why? Because the magic is precisely-structured; it taps into evocative concepts, features thoroughly glorious concepts, feels magical and sports rules-innovations. The emphasis on player-choice is glorious, the support for GMs and the roleplaying component of the whole game is extremely rewarding. A lot of the spells featured within this book practically demand being used - their visuals are amazing and more than one can generate a glorious adventure, or at least, scene/encounter. Spellcasting, magic, as featured herein, does feel magical: As a tradition, its shamanistic components, its arcane components - all FIT. All feel real to an extent; all transcend just providing numbers - they are magic in a sense that is often lost on more rules-intense games. Just take a look at the page-count - these are not spells that just palette-swap components and the vast majority of them do something unique and creative in some manner.

In short: This is a phenomenal, inspiring pdf and should be part of the library of any group that looks for well-crafted magic. Very highly recommended as a superb spell-book. My final verdict, in spite of my nitpicks, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. And this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Check out this gem!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Plains Spells (PFRPG)
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Pathways #65:Menageries (PFRPG)
by rich f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2017 11:45:30
Have a player that always wants to capture creatures for his zoo. Love the cage golem and that the construct instuctions are in the book.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Pathways #65:Menageries (PFRPG)
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In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
by ken S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2017 14:43:00

I bought it cause it looked funny! If I get to crack a gaming book in the next six months I'll give it a read through. But come on, Gelatinous Cubes, what more needs to be said. Oh, your right. "Gelatinous Dodecahedrons!" Good point. :)



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Gelatinous Cubes Expanded (PFRPG)
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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.



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[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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