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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Monster Circus
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/13/2017 06:17:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games delightfully gonzo series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we begin with an eponymous letter from our favorite planes- and dimension-hopping vessel, the UCS Flaming Crab, continuing the charming and well-written meta-narrative that leads us to the topic at hand, which would be Argent & Midnight’s Circus Esoterica and Extravaganza of the Strange. This time, however, Gale and Jilius, the writers of this letter and latest members of the crew, actually also provide a second letter – and we get full stats for the friendly harpy sorceress and her harpy unchained rogue (pack rat) half-sister – as well as an absolutely STUNNING full-color, full-page artwork for the two: Kudos to artists Allen Morris and André Karwath!

Now, this circus, colloquially called Monster Circus, does have, obviously, a menagerie – here, we can find Humongous the owlbear, deathmaw the nasty-tempered manticore, flintbeak the cockatrice and also Crusty and Rusty, the rust monster…and the rust-removal monster! Yep, you heard me! One of the various mini-modules/encounters presented in conjunction with the circus deals with this unique and amazing little critter. I know that many an adventuring group will want one of these as a pet…

The astute reader may have noticed that some of these monsters mentioned above are intelligent…well, yeah, but with a ringmaster like the fully-statted Mr. Smiley, a goblin celebrity lich, there is a good reason why e.g. deathmaw doesn’t maul audiences. And his right-hand man Mr. Nick, a doppelganger expert can help cover up…issues as well. Cool, btw.: Mr. Smiley subsists on a unique diet, if you will: His phylactery sustains the lich in a rather devious manner. How? Well, I’m not going to spoil that!

Among the sights, there would also be Hugo Howl, the werewolf conductor, who guides his 12-headed singing hydra (stats provided) in a unique variation of throat-singing. One of the encounters proposed deals with this constellation: Hugo was fancied by a newcomer to the circus family, a vampire, and tried to resist her advance with garlic. Alas, that made him very enticing for his hydra, who ate him. The vampire was promptly disposed of, but now, no one can coax the hydra to sing! In order to help the circus, the PCs can investigate Hugo’s wagon and solve a nice, rather easy puzzle (or brute-force it, if that’s how you roll). Cool sidequest!

Beyond these folks, there is the living tapestry, whose prophecies can provide help for future encounters; Guk the troll and the bugbear Kursha, herself the tamer, make for interesting beings to meet…and finally, there are the Flying lashley twins – choker acrobats! These two unfortunately have some larcenous tendencies that may need to be reined in, as depicted in another sidetrek presented.

Nice, btw.: The pdf does come with a brief glossary of circus terms.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring issues beyond e.g. the level of the rust-removal monster being once called rust monster. Cosmetic stuff. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some amazing pieces of full-color and b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee and Alex Shanks-Abel deliver an impressive set-piece to insert into your campaign. The circus and its colorful, weird inhabitants and their stats make for a fun and diverse backdrop to adventure in. The pre-made encounters and playful tone help differentiate the pdf from similar offerings, making it a really fun, evocative backdrop to include in your game. Writing-quality-wise, this is absolutely top-notch and brims with creativity. On the downside, I really would have loved to get a map of the circus and/or the respective wagons – while the lack of a map doesn’t really hurt the pdf, it also represents my one minor complaint against an otherwise truly excellent, fun little offering. Hence my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Monster Circus
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
by Christen S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/07/2017 08:40:29

I have loved the Advanced Archetype stuff from Flaming Crab for a good long while. But I when looking at the “Letters from…” series, like many of you, had mostly thought "whimsical" when considering it. Nothing wrong with whimsy I say but not always to the quick with my pocketbook for it. But then I noticed that one of those products (this one) was labeled "World Tree" and being a longtime fan of the myth of Yggdrasil and the planar essence it adds to adventures I was immediately sold.

Again here I made a second mistake... because the product was neither whimsical (though there is a touch of whimsy) nor specifically about Yggdrasil. I am rarely so happy to be so wrong. It is a new (if familiar) myth, about a very SIMILAR tree but with its own origins. The material could serve as Yggdrasil, an offshoot or its analog. But also stands on its own.

And the crunch. I was not expecting that. So much. A religion about the dryad goddess of the tree with full Obedience rules (Like PFCS Inner Sea faiths). A fully developed PC race (with ARG buyout) having its own alternate racials, equipment, favored class bonuses (including classes from Advanced Class Guide and Occult Adventures and racial archetypes. Half a dozen monsters ranging from CR 2 to 24. Random encounters by the relative height the party is at in the tree, both relevant and clever.

All of that and still presented in a strong narrative frame with a clear layout, advice for adaptation, and a useable settlement with story elements for adventure. Even a great sidebar on adapting the material to other origins. Decidedly cohesive and well-thought. I applaud the team for delivering something so ubiquitously good and despise them a little bit because now I have to reconsider buying the whole damn series.

(It even has RATTATOSKIR so it pretty much won right there.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Ioun Artifacts
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/01/2017 04:11:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Ioun stones are magic items near and dear to my heart; and, after the usual, well-written framing narrative penned on the world-hopping UCS Flaming Crab, the pdf makes one thing clear – the ioun stones herein are not priced; they are intended to have the proper GM-control and they should represent unique treasure. They all clock in at either CL 12 or, most of the time, CL 20 – which may be closer to how they were envisioned in the first place, but at the same time, this makes judging their power/when they’re appropriate not necessarily easier. Thus, GMs using this book should have a bit of confidence in their skills in judging when and where making these available makes sense.

Okay, so the ioun stones portrayed herein belong to one of three distinct categories. The first of these would be chakra stones, which are born from beings that attain a sense of enlightenment that makes them disperse in the multiverse, reaching a higher state of existence. One is provided for each chakra, and they provide additional benefits to those that can open their chakras. No more than one such ioun stone can be assigned to each chakra. Additionally, the benefits of these chakra-themed ioun stones increase and provide some synergy benefits. This idea, per se, is pretty cool: Considering that the chakra-system presented in Occult Adventures can use a bit of a power upgrade, I can see these having a place in the game. So what do they do?

Well, to take the first one: The root stone nets you DR/- equal to the number of chakra stones being worn or the root chakra’s benefits, whichever is higher. If the chakra’s open, the character also gets fast healing for 1 round equal to the number of chakras opened. Okay, does that reset for each opened chakra at +1 or does it only activate upon opening the root chakra? When the character has the sacral stone, he also gets a bonus to CMD equal to the number of stones worn to resist being lifted off the floor or moved from the current position. Why not simply state the maneuvers to which that applies?? You know, for proper rules-language? Or provide a bonus that also applies to saves against such effects, at least. With the crown stone, we also get a 1/day Fort-save reroll – sans action, I assume. Now, this may sound nitpicky, but it really annoyed me: Ioun stones are WORN, not wielded. They are not weapons. The pdf constantly calls the character using them “wielder.” Then again, that may just be me, so it will not influence the final verdict.

What will, however, influence the final verdict would be stuff like this wording: “This stone grants the wielder the ability to use fly once per day, as cast by a 5th level caster.” – so, is that supposed to be a spell-completion? Spell-trigger? Does it grant the wearer the SP to do so? Why is the CL different from that of the item, which is 20th? The synergy bonuses between stones and open chakras of this item provide fly speed maneuverability improvements, so do these stack? Note that, yes, there are ioun stones out there that duplicate spells. Their wording, alas, is different and…precise.

This is really, really weird. Another ability should provide a defensive shield – you know, one that deals damage to the attacker if you’re hit. It sports this non-entity of a wording: “When an attacker strikes the wielder with its body or a hand-held weapon…” – so, what is a hand-held weapon? Do weapons with reach qualify? What about tail spurs? Tentacles? Claws? “body or hand-held weapon” is NOT proper rules-language. We also have e.g. a healing effect that has no activation action here, a sonic cone that lacks an activation action (AND a saving throw!) – it’s weird…particularly since some of the wordings do get issues like that right. Still, as a whole, this section does not live up to the level of care and quality I’ve come to expect from Flaming Crab Games. It’s a great concept, but the execution needs serious fine-tuning. Oh, know what the capstone, the legendary guidance of the ascended master that you get for getting all 7 artifacts is? 3/day augury, 90% success. WTF. Totally worthwhile. Right?

Okay, so, let’s move on to category 2, which would be dragonstones, first featured in the Letter on Tiny dragons…as non-artifacts. With a theme of activation by tiny dragon familiars. The ones herein are artifacts, born of the sacrifice of a dragon and another being. These are not continuously active and must be activated intentionally: A dragon must sing the name of the dragon that died making the stone as a standard action, unlocking it. After that, the character to benefit from it must use a standard action to activate it. Each stone’s abilities come in 4 steps: The higher the HD of the dragon, the more potent the benefits the non-dragon will get: 5 HD and every 5 HD thereafter unlock a new ability. Unless otherwise noted, lower HD abilities are retained when higher HD options are unlocked. Dragon stones for brine, astral, crystal, dream, etheric, lunar, magma, occult, prism, solar, time and void are provided. And know what’s weird? In spite of being artifacts, none of the dragonstones herein were as interesting as the non-artifact versions…

Unfortunately, the issues that plagued the chakra-stones can also be found here: CLs missing. “effective caster levels”, which are RAW not something you find in PFRPG; the ability to cast a spell that is not codified as a SP etc. and thus makes it weird to determine effects, DC, whether the dragon or character’s stats are used, whether spell failure is a thing, etc. Also weird: Since the stones can be activated an infinite number of times per day, 1/day limitations can feel strange – is that per character or a total maximum? “Once per day while the 5 HD power of the brine dragonstone is active, the wielder acts as if she is the target of the slipstream spell.” Okay, CL? Dragon HD? Stone? How is this choice activated? First activation? User’s choice? I don’t even have to try to poke more holes into these; I could poke more than I honestly care to do. We also have abilities that obviously should be immediate actions, etc.

And then we have the elephants in the room: Infinite activation and steep action economy. You literally need a dragon on hand AND basically spend a whole round of the dragon AND the character to activate the items. For, what often amounts to spells in a can. Infinite spell use is something I personally despise, but even in a game where that’d be okay, you need, literally a really powerful dragon. And frankly, I cannot picture a single instance where this use of a dragon’s action would be justified. Not one. The original, non-artifact dragonstones focused on unique utility effects, often modified spells, and while the ones herein are somewhat similar, their combat utility is horrendous.

For that, the dragonstones presented are too tame, not unique enough. I like the idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. And yes, if you play with dragon familiars etc., you run into another issue – namely potentially infinite activation…for unlike the previously-released ones, the options here are…well, less cool.

Okay, so what about the third category? These would be zodiac stones: Standard abilities are granted to all wearers; matching abilities are only granted to wearers with the same sign as the stone. Ruling abilities are granted to creatures during the time period ruled by the zodiac sign. Birth abilities are only granted on the creature’s birthday and only if its zodiac sign matches the stone. Once again, we have issues regarding the wording, regarding spell activation (see e.g. the agate ellipsoid for an example of an ioun stone that duplicates a spell precisely…)…and I’ll come right out and say it: This is the single, most cumbersome system I’ve seen for a magic item. It requires not only that you have fixed birthdays for the PCs; it also requires that you know (and track!) their sign AND when it rules. That is a lot of stuff to keep track of. The benefits the item-class provides for this added book-keeping had to be amazing for this level of book-keeping… and it is, frankly, underwhelming. On birthdays, we usually for example get an increase of energy resistance and a spell-in-a-can. Oh. Great. Sorry, but the pay-off is not adequate. Really weird: Clarification on the chakra stones’ voice of the ascended master is in this chapter, at the other end of the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, though e.g. placement of the aforementioned box is weird; on a rules-language level, this is by far the weakest pdf Flaming Crab Games has released in the whole line. In short: It needs a rewrite. Layout adheres to the nice two-column full-color standard of the series, with neat, fitting artworks in color and b/w. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Ben Dowell, J Gray, Phoebe Harris and Scott Young had ideas for 3 utterly unique and cool ioun stone categories. Alas, the execution of these really leaves something to be desired. If you’ve been looking for artifacts, storied unique items with hooks etc. – you won’t find that here. What you’ll find instead are three item-systems that are extremely rough around the edges.

All items herein require serious investment to use and don’t provide sufficient incentive to do so; in fact, they all feel relatively generic, more so than generic magic items sometimes do; compared to e.g. Legendary Games’ item-pdfs, this falls flat big time.

Is it possible for the GM to use these? Yeah, sure. You can polish them, clean up the action economy and use the material herein. But, from my perspective, there simply isn’t enough incentive to do so. For that, the benefits are too vanilla, too “been there, done that”, too non-game-changing – spells in a can, minor bonuses and resistances…why bother? Mechanically, this falls flat and while I like all of the ideas for the ioun stone categories here, I really loathe their implementation. If they worked flawlessly, this would be a pdf for a very niche audience; when one third of the items need a level of book-keeping and tracking that make even me, as a passionate simulationalist, cringe, that’s not good. When the benefits don’t properly reward you for the like, then we have an issue. The other systems have their own issues and, beyond feeling anti-climactic for accumulating multiple artifacts/ dragging around a dragon for activation, similarly have enough problems that require fixing.

I’m sorry. I feel like a prick, but this is not up to Flaming Crab Games’ usual level of quality. I can’t imagine a campaign where you’d be using the material herein; all 3 item classes are flawed in their own way, as well as in a general way regarding rules-language as a whole. I like the ideas herein, but ultimately, I can’t go higher than 1.5 stars, rounded up for the ideas and the nice framing narrative in the front. I’d strongly advise you to get pretty much the whole series of pdfs – they tend to be creative and amazing…but sit this one out unless your campaign specifically demands for a concept featured herein…and you’re willing to spend the time to polish this.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Ioun Artifacts
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2017 20:43:16

An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review:

It’s a trip to the old book borrower’s lounge as we check out Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries. We start with the normal credits and such, although Flaming Crab Letters (henceforth called FCLs) always seem to have a great deal more personality to them.

The intro is another fun example of this, with an in universe message to the reader, something fans of FCL have come to expect. We start off with a historic look at libraries, which has some fun information about their origins and such. This flows into what a library is, which is far more wide of a term than I had initially believed. The language is as evocative as I’ve come to expect from FCL, helping to draw one into the mythic qualities that a library can encompass.

From here the idea of different kinds of libraries and their differentiations are made, planting adventure seeds in all the variations that can occur. All of these are explained in ways that helps to give a sense of grandeur to libraries, something I didn’t think I’d ever say. I genuinely enjoy the curator examples, as the way that they’re presented allows them to be easily implemented into games without much issue.

Now we get some library stat blocks (again, not an expected statement), along with sample libraries which are fully statted. Each one of the KP (knowledge point) entries gives a fun bit of flavor which again could be easily transplanted into a game without much effort. This is followed up with different kinds of information storage, such as tablets, scrolls, wall carvings, and other such unique methods.

While I recognize the immersion perspective of the fluency point system, I also feel like it’s bogging down a book that has a lot of interesting mechanics already, creating more issues than solutions. Thankfully, this section is only about a page, meaning that if you’re like me and don’t care for it, you won’t be trudging through its rules for long.

At this point, we get some interesting info about magic in libraries, and a nice little section of content (classes/monsters/etc) that work well with library themed games. To follow this, we get the library subdomain for cleries and library mystery for oracles, giving us some mechanics (the oracle mystery is a little too specialized for my tastes, but it’s still very thematic). We finish with the bookring, which is a seriously cool magical item that lets us store books in gems for future use.

Mechanics: 4.5/5

FCLs aren’t known for their mechanics; that isn’t to say they’re bad, but it’s very obvious mechanics are secondary in focus. The mechanics given here though are fun, useful, and easily transplanted into games. It’s probably one of the largest strengths of FCLs, the ease at which they can be included in just about any game.

Thematics: 5/5

FCLs ARE known for their thematics though, and that continues on here. The language used is evocative enough to give libraries a sense of reverence and mystery that they lack normally, and just like I always feel when I finish an FCL, I want to include something from this book into any currently running game.

Final Thoughts: 5/5

Being entirely honest, the FCL series is a diamond in the rough in the RPG market. These books ooze with charm and include mechanics which feel fluid, but what they do more than that is to make the mundane amazing. After reading the hygiene book, I wanted to force players to bathe; after reading this, I want to force players to learn, and I’m sure if they did a book on proper chewing technique, you’d better believe I’ll have a session based solely around proper chewing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Libraries
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/23/2017 06:06:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the impressive "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, before you're asking - this is not a straight rehash of the classic idea of the world tree as known from Norse myths and the like; instead, we have a contextualization of the idea within the reality of the game. Touched by the dryad Endainne, the oak that was to grow into the colossal tree featured herein would grow, however, to proportions only dwarfed by the cosmic tree of said myths - at over 6000 feet height, this titanic environment contains wonder galore - and it obviously influences the environment, which is why we discuss the effects on forest, roots and the area around the branches. Climate and traveling are covered in similar ways and the bounty of the tree also allows for better use of local produce when used in conjunction with culinary magic. (Here is the Letter on that topic...and if you like it, there currently is a KS running to create more! The link is here!)

The religion of Endainne, the dryad goddess, is properly depicted with 5 domains, 6 sub-domains, boons (Yep, Inner Sea Gods-compatible!) and we even cover tenets of the faith and sample servants of the deity - big kudos for going beyond the basics here! And yes, the boons and rules-language featured here are precise and leave nothing to be desired.

And this is where the pdf starts becoming REALLY interesting: An extremely detailed, one-page-spanning table of effects of the proximity of nearby offspring of the World Tree can be found: Excessive oxygen production, magic sustenance, clean air, strange lights...or all of them. The effects are cool and flavorful...and we go the extra mile, big time: Want the effects of such a tree on a settlement? The rules are included. Want to know the effects on the kingdom-building rules? Once again: Included for your convenience...and if you do not like the default flavor of the world tree (or want more diversity), a sidebar full of different, creative options has you covered!

Nestled in the boughs of the titanic world tree, there lies Portokali, a small, welcoming town which may require peace-bonds, but actually makes for a compelling place to visit, one supplemented with a rather impressive in-depth history and a nice side-view sketch of the way towards the settlement. Life in the settlement and a map of the uncommon locale can also be found here - while the settlement does come with a sketch-like map, that would be the one aspect where this aspect of the pdf falls a bit short of e.g. Raging Swan Press' Village Backdrops-series - in short, we get an amazing, detailed and thoroughly unique settlement with adventuring potential galore and even interesting classes that make up part of the unique social structure.

The pdf offers more, namely a new player character race, the daphanie, daughters of the world tree, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Int, are humanoids with the fey subtype, have low-light vision, gain +2 to Survival in forested/jungle terrain (and -2 to track them in such an environment), +2 to saves versus poison, always know where North is and have +2 to Climb. They can also grow a vine out of their dominant hand as a move action and use it to retrieve and manipulate small objects and may be used as a primary natural attack that uses the stats of a whip. Cool race and not one that should result in any issues. Instead of the tracking-tricks, they can get 1/day entangle or at-will speak with plants. The climbing trick can be replaced with darkvision. Instead of poison resistance, they can get +1 natural armor. There are Small daphanie and the signature vine can be replaced with claws (proper damage and natural attack type - kudos!), wild empathy or gliding membranes. All in all, a cool race.

We btw. do get a nice age, height and weight table as well as favored class options for alchemist, bard, druid, cleric, hunter, kineticist, monk, ranger and rogue. No complaints here!

The pdf also features racial archetypes, the first of which would be the tree glider monk, who must have the gliding membrane (obviously) and adds Fly to the list of class skills. Big kudos: The descending flight rules-language at 1st level has this Batman-y flair sans options to cheese it, retaining the lock on unassisted personal flight at low levels. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter increase the gliding flying speed and 5th level unlocks, properly, the flying options, allowing for the gaining of altitude. While this archetype is very much a small and humble one, it does its job well. Kudos!

The Toxibloom alchemist grows a symbiotic, toxic plant (thankfully, the toxin cannot be sold) that can produce 1/2 class level doses...but the ability does not specify what action the poison-generation is, which is a bit unfortunate. It also does not replace another class feature - which may or may not be an oversight. Instead of the 12th level discovery, the archetype receives toxic blood - and yes, this has different stats and specifies how often it can be sued and the activation action. Instead of persistent mutagen, the archetype gains poisonous pollen (again, with new stats and proper activation action). The archetype also gains two unique discoveries - one for acorn bombs and one that grows a vine whip on the torso.

Mundane equipment-wise, we do get plant pigments and the pdf features 4 racial feats. Alas, one nets a boring skill-bonus and is pretty much the epitome of filler. Another allows for sustenance through sunlight (and slightly enhanced natural healing), the third one allows for full-speed Acrobatics while balancing and enhances your ability to climb and catch falling allies. The final feat grants you thorns that deal "lethal" damage - which does not exist. That probably should be piercing.

The pdf also features 3 magic items: The petal cloak helps moving through underbrush and Handling Animals. The Staff of the World Tree is a nice druid-y staff and endainne's shield 1/day breath of life's you, which is pretty potent....not a fan here.

The pdf also contains a bestiary, with Endainne's aspect at a massive CR 24 being first - she is brutal and the build is nice, but I wished that she had a couple of unique tricks. Gnasher, the CR 21 version of Níðhöggr, does that right, just fyi - the mighty dragon comes with a miasmic breath weapon and some nasty, unique tricks. The CR 2 Rattatoskir should also feel familiar for fans of Norse myths, though I have seen that concept done more interestingly. The CR 7 Hyeorai, stick-dolls that are immune to magic and can emit deadly sprays of splinters make for a cool critter. The aforementioned servants of Endainne are also included: At CR 15, Mjarl the Strong represents the apex-version of the hyeorai, in gargantuan. The CR 9 Unkindness would be the legendary flock of ravens of the deity, including unluck-aura and eye-raking. A cliffnotes version of the respective critters and names is included and we conclude this pdf with 4 different random encounter tables for the regions of the world tree.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is still very good, but has a few hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. Artwork-wise, we get a mix of nice b/w-sketches and full-color versions of public domain art. The frame narrative of the Flaming Crab once again make this pdf pretty nice to read.

Kim Frandsen, Ken Pawlik and Tina Porter have done a nice job in this installment of the Letters-series: The environments presented are truly evocative and the pdf does go the extra mile in several crucial instances. The attention to detail is really cool and the settlements and twists on the familiar tropes render this pdf a fun, cool offering that has something for everyone. While not all aspects of the pdf are perfect, we do have a rather cool and evocative file on our hands here. In the end, my final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: World Tree
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: The Household Magic Catalog
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/08/2017 08:13:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This letter from the planes-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab, faithfully transcribed by J Gray, clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with...35 pages of content? Woa, that is A LOT for the low asking price...so let's take a closer look at this pdf...

...and once we do, we'll realize that the title was not kidding: In the tradition of Aurora's (At this point, if you get this reference, you're part of the old guard...) or, more fittingly, the Sears catalog - for those of you not in the know (and my German readers), picture this like a Quelle or Neckermann catalog that peddles wares that can help in the household. However, here, this concept is framed by the alternate-earth "Ladies Paradise and Company of New York" company.

And from the get-go, you notice something that immediately sets this apart: J Gray's layout for this humble pdf sets it apart as one of the most concise and mighty layouts I have seen in ages; his passion for Castle Falkenstein and extensive historical knowledge immediately show upon opening this pdf: From art déco-style fonts to the artworks, which blend historic pictures with a knight-style variant of the classic "I want you" Uncle Sam poster, the aesthetic integrity of the pdf transcends the text itself. Speaking of the latter: Yes, this picture is on a page encouraging the purchase of war stamps!

In fact, the items presented actually go one step beyond: We have visual representations, a sales-pitch-like summary of the item's benefits and the proper rules-material required for the respective item, creating a thoroughly holistic illusion of a magical catalog. Furthermore, the choice of these items does help render this pdf a thoroughly unique experience, from the first to the last of them.

(As an aside, in case you're wondering - this review is based on V. 2.0 of the pdf.)

The armoire of elegance, for example, auto-prestidigitates and mends clothing put inside it! I'd SO get this one! Tired of bad food while adventuring? The breadboard of instant breakfast will conjure up new and exciting dishes each day and may even help cancel poisons! Alchemical tonics that increase Int and Wis when imbibed before sleeping, mirroring the often cocaine- or laudanum-laden potions of the age, can also be found! What about a magical alarm clock? Extending ladders? Or a wagon that faithfully follows the user to the destination in question? (And yes, its movement is affected by difficult terrain.) Perhaps your lawn is just not fancy - with the right and proper fluid, you can return vibrancy and life to your green (and plant creatures can benefit from a bit of healing). Similarly, quicker plant-growth! What about self-completing mowers, automatic brooms or the like?

Notice something? Yep, these items, just like in a catalog, are organized by area of application - and fret not, an extensive index has also been included, with prices intact for your convenience. Regarding kitchen-appliances, magic scent-negating candles, cloths that negate allergens (I'd so need those IRL...) poisons and diseases can also be found...and the allergen-angle actually provides some rather interesting narrative tricks an enterprising GM can use! The freshen spell can restore spoiled food to proper shape, while scales of recipes can destroy food...but also net you the ingredient list, which, once again, just begs to be used for an investigative game!

A lazing lounger can help with power naps and fortification versus fear and emotion aspects and the mantle of pride can be used to make sure that your guests appreciate your trophies...and you. Need music? The spirit ministrel may take care of that need while entertaining. Throwing pillows inflict no damage, but can render the target asleep on a failed save and the spell update decor makes sure you'll never again be left behind by a trend in the fancy salon-culture!

This, as you may have noticed, is incredibly concise and includes sweeteners to help end the nauseated condition, ever-warm bottles for the offspring (or those enjoying Glühwein/mulled wine with spices) - an automated puppet show, an enchanted nanny's latch, a toy chest that expels living creatures and allows for instant and precise access, toy soldiers (as a nitpick: The set is once called "Spielmann" and once "Spilemann" - the former is correct), pain-relieving ice that's hot provides relief from arthritis and pain-based effects. Jefferson-style desk chairs increase the Int of those sitting inside and helps keep one's privacy by making others leave the working mind alone. Quick-retrieving desks, spell-organization, cleansing feather tokens, conjuring forth birds to fetch objects, sun-sensitive curtains open automatically...and the whammy rug lets you generate static electricity you can fire in short-range jolts...and it's kid-proof to boot!

In a perfect consequence of the style of the pdf, we actually also get a fully detailed order blank as an amazing hand-out! As mentioned before, the index with items by category is really helpful: Spells list classes, alchemical items weight, Craft DC and price and magical items list their prices and auras, adding this perfect final flourish to the pdf.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both formal and rules-language levels - I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout is, as mentioned, absolutely inspired, creating a perfect illusion of a fantastic catalog. The artworks chosen, both classic and original, seamlessly fit in with this aesthetic, making the vision represented in this pdf absolutely inspirational. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience with detailed, nested bookmarks to the individual items and spells.

Alex Shanks-Abel, J Gray, Phoebe Harris, Kelly Pawlik and Kendra Leigh Speedling have created an inspiring tome here, but beyond the deserved praise for the authors and the layout herein, the editors/playtesters Alex Shanks-Abel, J Gray (who also acted as the dev), Jeffrey Swank and Lucus Palosaari deserve special acknowledgement. Why? Because, in spite of the different authors with varying levels of experience, the book actually has a unified narrative voice - it does not read or feel like a book written by x different folks - it reads like a delightfully fantastic catalog and has this distinct and hard to achieve aesthetic unity of visuals, text, tone and theme. In short, this is a perfect example of how to create a holistic, thoroughly inspired book that can act as a colossal hand-out if you want it to! Beyond the confines of Pathfinder-rules, allotopias of alternate earths, whether they be Castle Falkenstein or similar settings, can also benefit vastly from getting this book. The logic behind the objects, behind what you'd be able to make in a magical world, is impeccable, the illusion practically perfect. Oh, and you get A LOT of material for the more than fair price-point.

If utility magic and everyday magic, a magical society or the like are even remotely close to what you want, then this is a no-brainer. Granted, you won't find mind-blowing items here, but oh boy, they are COOL. They feel like actual magic to me. However, I maintain that this book also serves as excellent material for low or rare magic games! It makes sense that e.g. some wizards studying all day in their towers, some decadent civilization, would have such objects; in fact, if you've completely abolished vanilla magic in favor of a more fairy-tale-esque aesthetic, then these objects, focusing on utility, would work perfectly as well. Finally, if you need furnishing for the realms of fey or magical schools/academies, then this delivers in spades, bringing a sense of heart-warming wonder to the game, one that transcends what you'd usually expect. This pdf made me happy while reviewing it - because its execution is on par with the fantastic concept, because it has a vast array of uses and because its content will show up in other games of mine as well, regardless of rules-systems. Abuse-proof, hilarious, nigh-perfect, this is a prime example of a pdf that deserves 5 stars + seal of approval as well as being considered as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2016.

This shows passion, dedication and soul - it's a pdf where the creators obviously poured their heart's blood in it. Get this pdf. I guarantee you will not regret it!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: The Household Magic Catalog
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/07/2017 04:56:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Before we dive deeper, let it be known that this time around, the frame-narrative does not pertain to the excursions of the UCS Flaming Crab - instead, the pdf acknowledges the weird practice in historic documents and local mythology to draw murderous rabbits. With weapons. No, I am not kidding you. A couple of years ago, when I researched material for a CoC-scenario, I actually stumbled over such a rendition.

This pdf then presents these murderous lagomorphs as framed by the letter of Aldus Emberidge, who has compiled the traits of lepus hostili/horribili for our enlightenment and edification. The murder bunnies refer to themselves as the trius vrai. Racial stat-wise, the trius vrai receive +2 Str and Dex, -2 Int. They are Small and may use weapons with a size category larger than them sans penalty. Additionally, when using nonproficient weapons to deal lethal damage instead of nonlethal damage, they reduce their penalty to -2. They have a bite attack for 1d3 (which does not specify primary or secondary or damage type, but one can refer to the defaults there) and they also feature a 5-ft.-burrow speed. They may leave a tunnel by moving slower and gain darkvision 60 ft. They always are treated as having a running start for using Acrobatics to jump. Perception and Stealth are class skills for the trius vrai and they are proficient with battle axes and they treat all trius vrai weaponry as martial weapons. They come with a full age, height and weight table and, as a whole, represent a solid race, but their racial traits are a bit on the lopsided side, geared towards martial pursuits. Cool: They have a coded drum beat/stomping language.

The race comes with a total of 6 alternate racial traits: Hatred versus humans and halflings, Medium-size, replacing the class skills with +10 ft. movement, and swarming, which is pretty potent for just replacing the class skills. Natural armor instead of a bite can be found and +1 to save DCs of all divination spells and the option to act during the surprise round can be used to replace the weapon proficiency. The pdf also provides a premade racial subtype from these traits.

Favored class options for brawler, druid, fighter, hunter, kineticist, oracle and rogue are also included and make sense in the context. The pdf also sports 6 different feats: These include gaining an attack bonus when seeing a bleeding target, more when attacking such foes. Another feat increases burrowing speed to half speed. Quick Hop lets you, once per round, make a 5-foot-step upon being missed by a melee or ranged weapon. Another feat nets you Str mod bleed damage when biting. Really cool: Vicious Hop lets you use Punishing Kick to follow up with an attack of an unarmed strike at 1.5 Str-mod to the prone foe. Finally, a teamwork feat, Fur Pile, allows for a combined grappling.

The pdf also features 4 racial archetypes, the first of which would be the burrowing bandit kineticist. These guys are locked into earth as their choice for elemental focus. These folks can breathe underground while burrowing, and they increase their burrow speed to full land speed. This replaces the basic kinesis talent and the 1st level infusion. Starting at 4th level, the bandit receives the tremorsense utility wild talent, and they are treated as though they have accepted 1 burn for it. At 8th level, they gain greater tremorsense as the utility wild talent - this basically locks two utility wild talents in place. At 9th level, the archetype receives a nasty, brutal ability - whenever he is using an AoO versus a foe on sand, dirt, etc. while underground, the damage with elemental overflow on kinetic blasts made with earth or composite blasts are doubled. At 12th level, the burrowing bandit may, as a standard action, can attempt a drag maneuver versus a target creature within 60 ft. to drag them into the earth - the ability features full stats to pull free etc.

The primal vessel spiritualist archetype receives a primal spirit instead of a phantom, which takes the form of a rabbit of the same size as the spiritualist, employing the Manifested Phantom's Base Statistics. The ability retains the caveats and functionality synergy that the phantom offers. Starting at 3rd level, the primal spirit may be manifested over the primal vessel's own body in a variety of bonded manifestation, with options including +4 AC (increases to +8 AC at 13th level), including to incorporeal touch attacks, with 5th level providing +10 ft. base speed and jump as a constant SP. 7th level nets half land speed as burrow speed, with 17th level upgrading that to full land speed while also increasing the movement rate bonus to 30 ft.

Alternatively, the incorporeal bonded manifestation nets +1/2 class level to Perception and Stealth, with 8th level yielding scent as well as 1/day see invisibility. Starting at 13th level, the spiritualist may use a standard action to grant herself concealment, with 18th level yielding HiPS and the option to grant herself blindsight 30 ft. as a swift action for up to class level rounds. These replace detect undead, calm spirit and see invisibility. At 16th level, finally, the archetype replaces call spirit with mass inflict pain as a 1/day SP.

The Ruthless Abductor archetype gains Stealth and Survival as a class skill, replacing Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Ride and receives proficiency with simple weapons, light armor, lasso, mancatcher and net. 2nd level yields + class level to the DC to escape for foes tied up by the abductor. 3rd level allows for the use of brawler's flurry after maintaining a grapple, inflicting the damage as though he had hit with ALL of the flurry's attacks...which is imho too much for just one success, even f it replaces maneuver training 1 - 5. 5th level yields synergy of the bite attack with the close weapon group, substituting the 5th level's feat.

Finally, the warren guardian receives a modified spell list and must choose the Animal, Earth, Plant or Protection domain, when choosing it as a domain via nature bond. Instead of nature sense, these guys get +2 to Perception and Sense Motive and 2nd level allows for the option to increase his own CL while defending the warren. Wild shape is delayed to 5th level and the archetype loses woodland stride and trackless step.

The pdf also contains a variety of different types of vrai equipment - the ambush screen, ambush and abduction ropes and the rope harpoon as well as a draught to stave off trius vrai fatigue. Cool btw.: abduction ropes make it harder for targets to escape via itchy and nauseating toxins... pretty cool. The pdf also features a total of 3 magic items, the first of which would be the quarry pole of manageable portage, which allows for the easier carrying of abductees, shrinking and securing such victims. Animated stumbling stones that create a mobile difficult terrain are pretty cool and finally, there would be...a lucky halfling's foot...yeah, pretty nasty!

The pdf ends with a total of 3 new spells - stunning strike can stun/stagger foes hit; phantom drummer is a drumming-based variant of coded message delivery. Finally, sticky double creates simulacrum-like doubles that in fact are sticky things that may grapple foes, have weapons stuck to them, etc. Pretty cool one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with a blend of the amazing b/w-cover piece and full-color stock art of aforementioned violent bunny pics lending a cool identity to the pdf. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Lee and N. Jolly deliver a solid take on the concept of a murder bunny race. The trius vrai are cool and very playable and the abduction angle makes for a fun, interesting choice as a player race. They are a bit geared towards the martial bent and I am not sold on every choice of the supplemental materials herein, but as a whole and for the more than fair price-point, this can be considered to be a nice, if not perfect offering. Now personally, I think a bit more cultural information would have helped make the race stand more distinctly apart and the abduction angle could also have used some explanation regarding culture and representation within the archetypes - as a whole, I kinda felt like the components here did not come together as organically as they could have. I liked some components of quite a few options herein, but I wasn't blown away by any of them. Hence, my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Murder Bunnies
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2017 04:28:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 18.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf, as always in the series, with the reproduced letter from the planes-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab, which has obviously landed, at least for now, in a dinosaur-filled world! More than that, however, the pdf begins with a really handy index that dinosaur aficionados will very much adore: A massive table that lists the dinosaurs released for PFRPG in alphabetical order, with CR, size, environment, whether they make animal companion or familiars...and the ERA! If you're conscious of internal consistency, that is the extra mile and I love that the pdf included this. Oh, and guess what: The table's hyperlinked for your convenience. Yeah, really, really nice.

So, we're off to a good start. The pdf itself can roughly be compartmentalized in two sections after that: Section 1 depicts dinosaurs that would act as potential animal companions, ranged from the humble CR 1 scipionyx, the CR 2 tupandactylus, the CR 3 stygimoloch and neptunidracos all the way up to the CR 15 argentinosaurus. The CR 6 Baryonyx, Tethyshadros and Maiasaura, CR 8 Concavenator and Deinocheirus, CR 5 Corythosaurus and dilophosaurus as well as the CR 4 dracorex and the CR 13 utharaptor can be found here alongside the CR 7 excalibosaurus. All of these dinosaur companions not only come with proper monster statblocks, they also have companion statblocks included for your convenience.

Nice: Most receive their own artworks. From a mechanic point of view, the dinosaur companions are generally situated along the higher echelons of animal companion power and feature the respective dinosaur companion's unique tricks. I don't have serious trepidations regarding the power level of the options contained herein...so yeah, nice array! You will also probably notice that these dinosaurs make use of lesser known species, which constitutes a serious plus. I have not seen stats for these dinos in any iteration of d20, so big plus here as well!

The second part of the pdf covers the dinosaurs that are suitable as familiars. As such, the bonuses they convey are collected in a handy table for you. A total of 10 of these fellows are included, ranging from CR 1/4 to CR 1. These once again represent nice options and, in case you're wondering, the dinosaurs covered here are coelophysis, jinfengopteryx, leaellynasaura, mei, micropachycephalosaurus, microraptor, parvicursor, scansoriopteryx, nyctosaurus and sordes. Speaking of the latter: The pdf actually offers more here and features a cool CR 5 sordes-swarm! Tiny swarm of dinosaurs chewing folks to pieces? Heck yes.

The pdf also has another section, aptly titled prehistoric encounters. These represent encounter-sketches: 4 of these are for CR 6, one for CR 4 and one CR 1, providing some nice set-ups that include mating season, the corythosaurus' soundshock...or that they have to deal with dinosaurs while scaling a cliff.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series and the artworks chosen for the respective dinosaurs are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Angel "ARMR" Miranda, Kelly Pawlik and Margherita Tramontano deliver a nice, fun installment here: The dinosaurs generally tend to adhere to one generally consistent power-level and there are some seriously nice tricks here: The special abilities always retain the basic sense of plausibility that I expect from animals and dinosaurs in RPGs. So yes, this is a nice installment in the series and a definite must-have for anyone looking for a Lost World-type supplement: The table alone may warrant the fair asking price for some of you out there. This is, as a whole, a well-crafted supplement and certainly justifies receiving a final verdict of 5 stars. Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Dinosaur Companions
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The Dragon's Hoard: Rings, Rods, and Staves
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2017 03:42:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Flaming Crab Games' magic item-pdfs clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin without much ado with 16 new rings - and ALL of them receive their own b/w-artwork - with one exception that has a black-red-artwork...don't know why - I think the b/w-version would have been a better aesthetic choice there...but I digress. The first ring is a winner: Anchor rings look like a bland dimensional anchor spell in a can...until you realize that you can throw your magical anchor at a creature who already teleported away. The target may have full concealment, but if you do hit, you'll drag the being back! Now that type of modification is what makes an item stand out. Nice!

Bands of Bortherhood are twinned and allow the wearer to know the location of the other as per status and add +1 to atk when both are flanking the same creature...which is pretty boring. The coil of vibrant ash at 45 K...is a bit underpriced. Not only does the wearer blow up in a 15d6-explosion if slain, on a melee crit, thankfully only 1/day, the ring adds a DC 20 disintegrate as insult to injury. There would be a serpent ring that fortifies versus poison and that can uncoil and inflict minor Con-damage (should be codified as poison for immunity-interaction, which it RAW is not) or a generally nice ring that lets you shoot blinding goo...with the issue being that it can be used an infinite number of times per day - for 4K, that is much too strong, considering that the item allows for no save!

Really cool: Gossiping rings let you whisper to the ring, point to a target...and then the ring pops up there, allowing for stealthy conversations perfect for intrigue-heavy games. Rings that generate telepathic bonds are nice, but e.g. a ring that nets you a bonus to AC and saves...is pretty much the definition of filler, as are skill-enhancing rings. A set of 3 rings, all worn in one slot on one hand that nets planar adaptation, though? Nice and makes sense, though weirdly, its text refers to a medallion...so do they also occupy that slot or not? I assume the latter, but I'm not sure. Horrible: a ring that replaces a barbarian's rage with monk class features. Not only outclasses it monks (granted, not hard), it fails to translate limited daily resources properly: No rage left? Put on the ring. shakes head A ring that glows when near goblins...is lame. On the plus-side, a one-use ring that deals damage as an immediate action when the wearer's reduced to 0 hp, healing him? Nice one! Rings that contain a magical garrote are cool...but the justification for allowing its use more often than a usual garrote would be allowed for is flimsy at best. A ring the extends Wepon Focus to a group of weapons is nice.

10 rods are up next, with the first being pretty cool: Capable of fanning out, it can make ray spells fan out into cones and cone-spells narrow down to rays. While there is a kminor typo here, the wording generally is pretty precise...oh, and no, spamming disintegrate through it won't work. That being said, the transition from ray to cone is not perfect: rays that allow for a save become opaque: Is it the new Ref-save and the original save or just the new save? A rod that summons forth insects that eat dead flesh is nice to get rid of evidence. Dragon breath duplicating rods erroneously refer to "electric" when it should be "electricity". Rods of elemental whips have cool visuals - but the air-version has a problematic option, providing potentially infinite charges,1 per hour, for technological items while touching them. Rods of enhanced summons are broken: 3/day as a swift action, cast a spell on a summoned creature. No casting duration-caveat, no spell-level caveat, nothing. Flavor-wise nice: A rod that lets you spell out a name, summoning yeth hounds that then proceed to hunt down the target. There would also be a truth-compelling rod that acts as a mace and minor skill enhancer. Amazing: There is one high-priced rod that can only be used by paladins: When the pala uses it, he's obliterated...but so is any nearby creature under the effects of smite evil. I'm pretty big on palas and heroic sacrifices...so yeah, amazing.

The pdf's final section features a total of 6 staves, most of which are pretty basic spells-in-a-can with minor bonuses, though two deserve special mention: The staff of relativity has an hourglass that can generate AoE haste...but after the duration elapsed, it's AoE slow! I love the visuals and the minimum charge required here - very cool. Similarly evocative: The staff of self-loathing can make a target perceive one an illusory version of the target, which attacks the target whenever it attacks, inflicting the same amount of damage as the attack on a hit. These two staves stand above the others and really got me thinking.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level. On a rules-level, some objects could have been tighter. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly two-column color-standard. The pdf sports an impressive array of awesome b/w-artworks for the items. Kudos there! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

A metric ton of folks has contributed to this pdf: James Abendroth, Isaiah Burt, Kelce Casey, Chuck DiTusa, J Gray, JJ Jordan, Douglas “White Templar” Mawhinney, Jacob McCoy, David S. McCrae, Sean McGowan, Brian Minhinnick, Angel "ARMR" Miranda, Michael Ritter, Matt Roth, Thiago Shinken, Jeffrey Swank, Anthony Torretti, Chris Walter, C. J. Withers. Unfortunately, this does show in the relative strength of the items: Some designers adhere to a more cuatious power-curve, while others go for (too) strong...and in design philosophy, basic number/bonus-tweaks exist side-by-side with truly amazing gems. This pdf has some items that are 5 star + seal material...but also several that, in 2016's Pathfinder, are redundant or simply not that interesting.

In short: This is pretty much the epitome of a mixed bag. While there are more items in this that left me cold and unimpressed than gems, the gems that are here shine very, very brightly. Considering the low and fair price-point, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, though I can't round up for it...if some of these captured your imagination, this is worth taking a look at.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Dragon's Hoard: Rings, Rods, and Staves
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/05/2017 04:15:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' neat series of oddball pdfs clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this installment of the series, as always, with one of the charming introductions of the meta-narrative, wherein line developer J Gray salvages letters from the planes-hopping vessel UCS Flaming Crab before diving into the strange weather herein.

We begin with simple acid rain before we are introduced to the aurora hypnosis, a fascinating, Wisdom draining aurora borealis that is just awesome. Speaking of which - the Ball Lightning. 4 different types of ball lightning, from CR 1 to 9 can be found, all with diameters, duration, speed, save DCs, damage and explosion radius - you can make those cool lightning balls rolling around the battlefield with this. Do you want something, dare I say, more biblical? May I introduce the frickin bloodstorm that can cause no less than 6 diseases, from dysentery to scarlet leprosy and typhoid fever? Yeah, now THAT spells "sh** got real!" when the BBEG is getting the better of the heroes! Have I mentioned the fact that they may contain blood hail??

What about the Constitution damaging ectoplasmic storms that escalate fear conditions on failed saves? Have I mentioned the TORNADO OF FIRE?? Fire, ash, intensified wind - all amazing. Heat damage! Catching Fire! Smoke Inhalation! Being sucked in! Spawning secondary fires! This is a all-inclusive buffet of awesome, delicious pain to visit upon the PCS! More mundane hailstorms can be found.

Oh, and there would be moons! Blood Moons enhance bleeding and lock lycanthropes in their shapes; dread moons and their counterpart, radiant moons, enhance pacts made with the entities of the dark or light, with each phase of a moon enhancing the effects on creatures. And be calmed - you don't have to track either of those lunar phenomena.

If you're an allergic like yours truly, the massive pollen storms of fantastic flora obscures sight, detracts from flying and can have really nasty repercussions for those caught in it. Oh, and the layers and layers upon pollen? That makes for some really flammable material...Have I mentioned the massive skyquakes?? The power-boon solar eclipses may grant? Yeah, amazeballs!!

The pdf also contains a new creature-type, the storm elemental, which not only receives progressively better harsh winds, we get iterations from CR 1 to 11 and 4 variants, from blizzard to dust storm and hurricane storm elementals, these modifications span the CR rates from +2 to +4.

The pdf also contains two different archetypes, the first of which would be the stormcaller shaman, who receives a replacement bonus spell array. 3 + Cha-mod times per day, these guys may call forth a tempest as a standard action. The archetype knows one of these at first level, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels afterwards and at these levels, they also increase range. Firestorms, caustic storms, etc. - pretty cool. It should be notes that the governing attribute for the DC is Wisdom. The archetype loses spirit for this option of AoE-damage/terrain control. The archetype also receives access to 5 unique hexes, from wind stance to walking through sleet and rain and generating an eye of the storm, this is neat. 10th level nets a better supernatural control weather and the capstone is, alas, a somewhat lame apotheosis.

The second archetype herein would be the child of the sky barbarian, who replaces trap sense with the option to see through mist et al. Instead of fast movement, the archetype receives more speed, but only when not carrying a heavy load or wearing heavy armor. Additionally, the archetype receives 6 weather tricks, though 1/day, the character may meditate to replace a weather trick with another one - think of these as somewhat more flexible rage powers. Using Stealth while raging and hiding while being observed, but only in the rain, gaining evasion in mist, etc. - the flexibility these offer are predicated upon their interaction with environmental circumstances, rendering this pretty neat. On a purely cosmetic hiccup level: The DC formula is "10 + 1/2 class level + attribute modifier", not "10 + attribute modifier + 1/2 class level."

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with a nice blend of amazing original b/w-pieces and thematically fitting stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Gomez, Michael Ritter and Treyson Sanders deliver one phenomenal installment of this series. Frankly, we do not have enough amazing hazards. Go ahead. I challenge you to name 10 good hazard books. Yeah. We have a ton of class options, but cool environmental effects to throw into our combats to make them more memorable? That's rare. The strange weather contained herein is absolutely inspired - the deadly effects, the evocative visuals...I absolutely adore this pdf. This is such a great one-stop shop pdf to get some amazing, magical environmental effect to enhance pretty much every game. PCs down on their luck, almost certain to fail? Perhaps a radiant moon's on the rise! Bored in an overland track? FIRE-TORNADO. Need to drive home that they better stop that villain NOW? Rain some diseased blood upon their heads! I'm celebrating this pdf hard!

I adore this. I love it. I'm using the living hell out of it and wish this was a 200-page tome. The archetypes are pretty cool as well, though they fall slightly behind in awesomeness of the main meat. But who cares? At this low price-point, we get amazing, cool pdf that will enhance pretty much every game. This belongs in the toolbox of GMs. Amazing. 5 stars + seal of approval + candidate for my Top ten of 2016. This humble pdf deserves to been seen, used and celebrated!!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Strange Weather
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Inspired by Heraldry
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/21/2016 10:16:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf, as always in the series, with the well-written correspondence from the planes-hopping UCS Flaming Crab - this time in the guise of a rather personal letter that mentions the strength a coat of arms brought to a member of the crew...and indeed, thus established is the leitmotif for this one's installment, which first begins with a small bestiary-section of creatures influenced by coats of arms, and yes, they come with a gorgeous b/w-artwork depicting them. So, what do we get? Well, at CR 1 the spitting and stubborn allocamelus (smaller, camel-like creature with a donkey-ish head), the CR 8 biscione with its barbed scales and coiled jumps - basically draconic serpents. The enfield, at CR 2, would be a wolf with a fox's head and front paws of talons can sense allegiances and at the same CR, the lepus hostili would be a killer bunny that can deliver kicking trips and wield Medium weapons. Yeah, pretty cool! The monster-hunting, loyal talbot hound (CR 1/2) and the CR 4 goat/antelope-hybrid Yale, with its rotating horns, complement this cool mini-bestiary.

Beyond the bestiary, we are introduced to heraldic feats - and these are intriguing: They are mutually exclusive, so you can only get one suite of these feats, which is important to keep in mind. These can obviously be easily rebranded for noble families as well (If Birthright/GoT or gothic horror is your theme of choice, then particularly cool!) and there are rules that enhance Diplomacy among those that have the crest feats. They also come in sequences of 3, somewhat akin to Style-feats: The first is called "Coat", the second "Crest" and the third "Achievement." A total of 17 such feat-sequences are provided, totaling 51 feats. And yes, visual representations of the respective feats are provided. So, are they any good?

Well, one thing you need to be aware of is that there are per-encounter feats; The Allocamelus lets you reroll saves vs. mind-affecting effects, with the sequel adding a +1 untyped bonus to atk and damage versus a creature that tried to affect you for the duration of the encounter. At this point, you all know my rant regarding how an encounter is not a proper duration. There is a reason Dreamscarred press codified per-encounter durations with an encounter-exceeding cooldown/duration in proper time. That being said, this is a hiccup that may not necessarily be something you consider to be problematic, but some of you out there have the same tendencies as I do, so yeah. Not all such feats are using such mechanics, btw. Thematically, sometimes the leitmotif could be a bit more pronounced: Basilisk Coat, for example, unlocks both Stealth and Perception as class skills and the feat also nets a skill bonus to both. The sequel feats, then, instead of further emphasizing these, enhance fascinate and provide an SP of a single-target hypnotism. The bear-feats, for example, enhance Intimidate and saves vs. feat, but then proceed to enhance saves vs. poisons/disease and then grant DR 2/piercing. So yeah, the leitmotifs generally kinda make sense, but do not build upon each other, which constitutes a crucial difference in comparison to most feat-chains I've seen.

Similarly, reflexive damage your biscione scales can cause to those that attack you to suffer are cool, but as the second feat, arguably better that gaining at-will detect chaos with the added caveat of being able to deduce if a target has willingly broken a law. As a minor nitpick, the scales in question do not specify their damage type. On the plus-side, e.g. gained natural attacks do come with properly codified type and size-based damage-dice, so that's a precision plus. On a nitpicky side, there also is e.g. a reference to element that should read "energy" and the like. Don't get me wrong, I don't consider these feats bad per se - but in some of them, the comparative power-level fluctuates between mini-trees and these small hiccups do accumulate. On the plus-side, e.g. the Improved Unarmed Strike-Fighter-enhancing Lepus feats that let you trip kick foes and handle oversized weaponry with Weapon Specialization are pretty cool. There are also some instances that made me wonder: Manticore, for example. Sure, there are plenty of mythological references to poison - but in our game, the critter is NOT poisonous, which made the poison-emphasis of the feats puzzling and illogical from an in-game perspective. It's like having a dolphin as a heraldic animal and gaining climb powers. Maybe I'm overthinking things.

The pdf concludes with the heraldic knight alternate class, basically a variant of the cavalier, who retains d10, good Fort-save and BAB-progression, proficiency etc., mount...you get the deal. Instead of an order, the heraldic knight chooses a coat of arms at first level - said coat of arms is associated with a virtue, nets a class skill and a bonus feat and also determines the selection of vigilante talents he can take. Wait, what? Yep, these guys are basically talented, gaining heraldic talents at 2nd level and every other level thereafter: These generally are social talents, with the exception of those mentioned before. Hidden strike talents instead affect melee, which is pretty strong, and the heraldic knight is always using his social identity. They retain challenge, banner, better charging and higher levels also net bonuses to the skill associated with the crest and, as a capstone, they get a kind of superior Leadership...and seriously are an example of a simple, yet effective hybrid class design: The class basically takes the cavalier, inserts copious amounts of player agenda and still retains a focus on the concept of the knight: The vigilante-options utilized mean that this guy will be better in social circumstances than e.g. the cavalier, which fits well with the whole knight-theme. Surprisingly elegant, efficient design!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, it osciallates a bit and ranges from top-notch t pretty good. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w and full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Anthony Toretti, Neal Litherland, Jeff Lee and Michael McCarthy deliver an interesting Letter-installment here: The pdf begins with an all killer array of cool critters that feel creative and fresh and ends with one of the better hybrid classes I've read so far. The middle-section, the feat-array, though, feels less refined to me: Both the respective leitmotifs and the balance of the respective feats felt like it was oscillating a bit too much for my personal tastes. That does not make this pdf bad, mind you, but, as a whole, it feels less unified in voice and quality than usual for the series. As a whole, this is worth getting for the low and fair price point, but it didn't rock my world as hard as some other installments of the series. While I don't see myself using the feats herein, I do believe that both heraldic knight and the creative critters have a place in my games. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars - a good offering.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Inspired by Heraldry
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: County Faire
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/06/2016 09:09:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the damn cool "Letters from the Flaming Crab"-series of oddball, unconventional pdfs clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content so let's take a look!

This pdf addresses a concern I have encountered in my games a couple of times, and from what I've heard, I am not alone. You see, my games tend to be pretty serious affairs and feature some darker themes; as such, faires and circuses tend to result in...ehem...unpleasant adventures...to the point where my players have become suitably paranoid regarding county faires...which feeds into the law of diminishing returns.

This pdf, then, would actually provide rules for county faires that are not based on lethal horrors; after a nice flyer and introduction, we are introduced to a variety of games. The games are provided with notes on how they work, the entry fee, the prize and a brief, fluffy note on the respective game runner.

The first would pertain picking the correct key to opening a chest from a selection, with various difficulties included. The second would be a dwarven tradition - the chug run: 2 minutes, several booths and the goal of chugging drinks and moving to the next booth...which can be pretty hilarious if your simulate it...and yep, it has notes on cheating. Rules for egg races and flagpole climbing can also be found here. The chili-eating contest flame mouth would be one I'd love to participate in real life. I also love the contest to throw dolls representing Lady Strongarm towards the tower, where Prince Dazzling is held captive - and here would be as good a place as any to note that relevant skills, here Knowledge (engineering), while not required, do help, grounding the games in the mechanics of the rules.

Speaking of which: Modifications to the settlement's GP cap and the like are included, showing a nice attention to detail. Beyond aforementioned mini-games, the pdf also features several events, from animal riders to dancing grounds, livestock contests and gambling, there are a lot of things to do...have I mentioned the masquerade or the shooting competitions. While not all of these feature mechanical effects, several do...though I'm a bit bummed that druids etc. don't get an edge in the livestock challenge.

Of course, food is an integral component of a faire -and beyond the more mundane offerings, we actually get more of the cool culinary magic: Fire-grilled Ba-corn Cobs, for example...which are surprisingly tasty! Yep, much like in the book, you can actually recreate these recipes. The lavender-infused lemonade is decent (I added sparkle to mine, though) and mulled wine helping against the cold...well, you can observe that every day in wintery Germany. Cinnamon Dough Rings can help versus age penalties (and taste delicious) and artistically cut onions can inspire indeed. The respective food is organized by stand, all enhancing the (optional) leitmotif of the Fantasia County Faire that suffuses the pdf like a metaplot.

The pdf also contains a mini-adventure, dubbed Fireworks at the Faire, intended for characters level 1 - 2. To talk about that one, I have to go into SPOILERS, so potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

The Splendiferous Spranza is a traveling alchemist and in charge of the faire's fireworks display - it is assumed that the PCs try to help the alchemist, for his competition tries to sabotage him...and they're not the only ones. You see, the local kids REALLY want to see the fireworks NOW and have banded together with various strategies to get to Spranza's fireworks - handling the kids provides for a nice first part of adventuring that requires unconventional approaches. Next up would be Harold, deputy burgomaster, who considers it his right to inspect the tent - and he's not particularly sober. Of course, Spranza's nowhere around...so it's up to the PCs to defuse the situation. During the day, goblin firebugs will also try to get inside...and in the end, the thief will make his move; perhaps the PCs have noted him before, but his (bonus halved for some opaque reason - that could have been a bit more elegant) potion of invisibility does allow him a fair chance of getting the material...and if there's combat in the tent, there is a decent chance of causing a random mishap from an associated table. And yep, the PCs should better keep any flames under control - fire + tent full of alchemical material do not mix well...

Pretty amazing: We actually get a map of the faire, including a cool, player-friendly iteration!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from an instance where a bolded header wasn't bolded, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard and the artwork featured would be neat, original b/w-pencil drawings. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

N. Jolly, Lucus Palosaari, Kelly Pawlik, Maria Smolina, with dev-work by J Gray, provide one amazing, friendly and evocative little book; As a perfect break from doom, gloom and world-saving, as a high-spirited counter-point, as a distinctly humane and fun environment, the county faire depicted herein is a change of pace most appreciated...and if you're an evil bastard GM like yours truly and haven't done that before, you can still have it all turn to hell after the PCs had their fun...

...but honestly, perhaps you shouldn't. I actually restrained myself and, for once, did not make everything turn sour...and frankly, the experience, in spite of this, was truly refreshing. The mini-games featured herein make for great "traditions" to scavenge for festivals and ceremonies; the maps are a great addition and the wholesome, fun tone make this an inspired, fun supplement I thoroughly enjoyed and wholeheartedly recommend. Hence, I leave this county faire pdf like you want to leave any faire in real life: Satisfied and with a wide smile. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: County Faire
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Hygiene
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/29/2016 09:36:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' delightfully oddball Letters-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As always, we begin this installment with a nice letter from the planeshopping vessel, thankfully salvaged for our collective delights by J Gray.

Now we've all been there: The PCs have just battled through a horde of foes, are covered in blood and guts...and then, they walk into a tavern. As if that does not look weird. And no one cares. We begin this pdf thus, appropriately, with a nice and handy table pertaining social modifiers - these can be added or subtracted, depending on the context, from the respective social skills: A foppish Taldan dandy may indeed consider someone covered in gold dust to warrant +4...while the savage orc chieftain will be more inclined to hand an asswhooping to the pansy that came before him thus clad. This includes filth/bathed-status and perfumes, including race-specific ones as well as notes on hair/beard-care or the status of one's teeth...which were notoriously problematic before the advent of modern dentistry.

And indeed, hygiene may influence a lot: Disguises that do not correspond to expected hygiene levels may suffer from a penalty; whether fleas or bedbugs, lack of cleanliness may net you itching, annoying parasites. (Yep, provided as a nice infestation) and concise and simple dental cavity rules allow you to track bad breath et al. Similarly, a handy table pertaining body odor and how easily you may be tacked via scent etc. can be found. And yes, you may actually develop a disgusting stench aura!

Now, the medieval period had a significantly different concept pertaining hygiene than we do: Performing the act of love on piles of mist was not uncommon - the offal and straw kept heat pretty well. Similarly, throwing the bedpan on the streets was pretty much common practice prior to the advent of proper sewer systems. At the same time, though, this time wasn't as filthy (or prude!) as you'd imagine - in Nuremberg, for example, the existence of bath houses is well-documented. They were a space for citizens to relax, consume food...and yes, also indulge in more carnal activities, much to the chagrin of many a hardliner or prude. The exact structure and conventions of places related to bathing differ wildly amid cultures - and thus, much to my delight, we receive several fully mapped bathhouses: The Ishiyu Onsen hot spring with a feudal, Japanese touch; the quasi Greco-Roman Thermae of Pulsatilla and the White Blossom Bathhouse, which should make fans of WuXia or European bath culture both happy - the respective entries also feature notes on nomenclature, showing that the team did the research. Nice!

Obviously, though, hygiene on the road would be a slightly more difficult subject matter - and here, we receive the also fully mapped cascade pools, which may draw washers (or make for a phenomenal boss-fight arena). A barber shop and a salon further complement the ready to drop in locales (again, mapped) that are depicted within, all with adventure hooks...though frankly, I would have enjoyed an acknowledgment of barbers doubling as physicians and the type of "healing" they provided.

The pdf does provide concise lists of the services offered, all collected on one page in a handy GM cheat-sheet and similarly features a neat selection of associated mundane items - from the collapsible bathtub to alum, an oil that prevents you best suit from being spattered in blood and guts, shaving kits...and for the more magically-inclined actually working hair-growth tonics are included. And yes, singed hair may be regrown as well...and a collective sigh of relief went through the dwarven population...

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is a mix of b/w-art and stock and manages to generate a concise visual identity. The maps provided for the locations are generally minimalistic and b/w with blue and green highlights - amazing, btw.: Flaming Crab Games listened - now, we get scales for the maps and the pdf also features player-friendly maps for each of the locations! Kudos for improving the book in this crucial way!! (Seriously, the cascades alone make for such a cool arena...) Lukas Buergi's installment on hygiene can be a godsend for intrigue-heavy campaigns, particularly those favoring a simulationalist approach...like mine do. Personally, I enjoy this VERY much. The component of magic in such a context deserved a bit more coverage in my opinion: While prestidigitation and the like are acknowledged and talked about, I wished that this took the fantastic angle up a slight notch. While I adore the sample bathhouses included, general toolkits for the design and development of hygiene traditions would have made more sense to me - you know, sand baths, cleaning by fire for fire resistant beings...the like. The bathhouses can be used once...a general toolkit could be used all the time. Similarly, suggestions for culturally specific social modifiers based on hygiene or uniquely elven/dwarven/weirdo race xyz-suggestions for traditions would have elevated this further.

The pdf, as a whole, is a more than fairly-priced, evocative file and deserves being bought, even if it does not reach the level of depth and coverage that the coin-installment offered. In the end, this is pretty much a good buy and should be considered, particularly in light of the topic not nearly being covered in its totality - and weird little books like this require and deserve support! With the integration and improvement of the maps, the book offers now some seriously fun set-pieces for a more than fair price-point, though - which is why my verdict for the revised version is upgraded to 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Hygiene
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Coins and Credit
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/21/2016 12:31:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Flaming Crab Games' oddball Letters-series that deals with unconventional topics clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Coins. Money. Gold or the Euro or the American Dollar. The stuff that binds civilization together and makes completely foreign nations that would otherwise hate each other engage in trade. Coinage has a role as important to our development as a species as few other inventions - and it is EVERYWHERE in our games. The dragon's hoard. The orc's pocket. Heck, it could be argued that from a certain 3-adventure arc in Kalamar to RotRL or the legendary Halls of the Mountain King, coins and money play a pivotal role in gaming. It is then quite amazing to realize that we don't really have any supplements depicting the peculiarities of currency exchange and details in gaming...in spite of Abadar's inquisitors being called archbankers (which is awesome).

This pdf sets out to fill this gaping hole - after all, even for most adventurers, it's all about the bling. After a general introduction and notes on bimetallic and mixed coins, we begin with the DC'd tables to hand-craft coins and how to make them - sample DCs for Craft (minting) provided. Similarly, dies, which are used to press currency, do come with their own table and processes of making coins, from stamps to presses and magical crafting are provided. Coin dies sooner or later break and deteriorate and thus, depending on the metal they're crafted from, we get different uses before they wear down; similarly, coin blanks, screw presses and stamps are introduced as items with properly codified rules. The pdf also introduces a magical solution to the problem of making coins - the minter's rod, which creates exactly ONE type of coins from the raw material instantaneously. It also works basically immediately...so why not go for it? Well, as magic is wont to be, it is simply less reliable: It requires a Craft (minting) check to use and on a failure, it produces coins unfit for circulation, basically ruining them. This allows for quick influxes of currency when needed, but at the same time retains the need for specialists proficient in wielding the tool properly - the magic complements mundane solution rather than undercutting them - love it!

Now, for as long as there has been money, there has been counterfeiting - the mundane aspects of which are already evident from the above; however, in a fantastic realm, the note on permanent image's ambiguity, illusions and fabricate are noted as well. Here, a note - there is an exploit left in the Craft rules and the fabricate spell that has been there since the 3.X days of yore, though in reduced severity in PFRPG. This pdf reads the spell's wording correctly: The spell uses the singular: "You convert material of one sort into a product that is of the same material." ONE. This means fabricate can make exactly one coin per casting. Yes, this level of detail and close reading are something I wholeheartedly appreciate.

Beyond this, the pdf contains the anatomy of coins, based on avoirdupois system of measurement - in case you wondered, the system is based on a pound of 16 ounces (or 7000 grains) and originated in the 13th century and was used for wool trade historically...but I digress. Dimensions, denomination, etc. are all covered (note: The more valuable a coin, the smaller it is) and maximum coin holding for pouches, backpack, etc. (and the weight if they're stuffed to the brim!) are provided for our convenience and generate a mischievous grin on my face. One adventure my players still talk about featured a slain dragon. They were happy about all the loot...then I asked them how they'd transport the coins. Figuring out magic logistics was an amazing trip indeed. And before you ask, maximum capacities for bags of holding can be found...and there are two new coins introduces: Mithral and Adamantine pieces.

After this, we dive into the nit and grit of foreign and ancient coins and the pdf features notes on how to handle multiple currency in e.g. metropolises like Absalom or Freeport and thereafter, we tap into the types of banks that exist (and yes, you should have banks in your game - think of all the cool heist/anti-heist adventures you could run!) - banks are codified as private, government, religious or illegal and the pdf does feature notes on the stigmatization of usury in certain religious contexts. Beyond that, 2 account types are discussed - transactional and investment types are featured and a note of cost and charges similarly helps. Loans, thus, similarly are talked about and codified and the pdf does note account tiers for different clients. A handy table of percentile chances to find banks in a given settlement helps and finding loan sharks willing to gouge those in need also can be found.

Beyond this massive array of qualification and quantification, we get 9 different, unique banks provided in their own fluffy write-ups, with notes on account costs - from the Iron Vault to the Great Tree Bank owned by elves, these are unique and intriguing. The pdf also contains a new monster, the CR 3 bank gremlin, who enjoys eating metal. You do the math. Cool! There would also be vault satchels banks loan to trusted clients to transport coins directly to their vaults.

The second aspect herein features credit and secured/unsecured tabs, with GP multiplier rates and NPC attitudes included and forgery/sidequest-notes talking about the adventuring potential here. Letters of Credit and Promissory notes, as two crucial means of handling currency are similarly depicted with notes on forgery provided for our convenience and yes, banknotes are part of the deal. The pdf then concludes with two magical items that tie in well together - the bonded ledger of credit and the bonded letter of credit, which basically can work as a kind of magical credit card-y system in a magical context.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf provides neat, original b/w-artworks I enjoyed. The pdf comes with full, nested and detailed bookmarks, making navigation easy indeed.

Matthew Carroll, J Gray, Lucus Palosaari and Jeffrey Swank deliver one amazing, humble pdf here. This is an unpretentious and yet so NEEDED little pdf that is a must-buy for simulationalist GMs. Even for GMs who don't like micromanaging the details, there is so much adventure-fodder in this little pdf, it retains its value even when you don't want to track teh details. Beyond that, this pdf managed to actually be educational and well-researched, both in historic details and in the reading of rules...and, in addition, its takes on adding the fantastic to coins and credit, it does not devalue the mundane components, using magic as complementary options that enhance the game rather than replacing the nonmagic options. This humble pdf covers its subject matter perfectly -and thus deserves a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. Amazing and well worth the fair asking price!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Coins and Credit
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Letters from the Flaming Crab: Her Story
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/07/2016 04:44:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Letters from the Flaming Crab clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what is the theme here? Well, beyond the obligatory letter from our favorite plane-hopping ship, the book covers historical women and translates components associated with their lives into PFRPG-mechanics - but we also are introduced to the basics of their respective stories, as the eponymous title suggests.

The first of these women would be none other than Countess Elizabeth Báthory and the pdf begins with a thematically appropriate inquisition that allows the inquisitor to drain blood from helpless victims, collecting up to 3+ 1/2 class level vials of blood that way; consuming a blood vial heals the inquisitor...and yes, while you can use kittens, you can't abuse the ability: The stronger the citim, the more healing. No complaints whatsoever here! 6th level nets a slightly improved touch of bloodletting as an SP. So far, so nice, even though I think the countess (and quite a few other females here) could carry their own Letter from the Flaming Crab!

Next up would be famous Queen Boudicca, whose supplemental material would be a magical item, The War Queen's Chariot, a little figurine that can be called forth to become a proper chariot, complete with team and horses...oh, and it helps owners that have the Leadership feat. Thematically sound.

Saint Claire of Assisi has a more complex piece of crunch to support her: We get the cenobite inquisitor archetype (no, has nothing to do with the Hellraiser Cenobites) -the archetype receives a modified list of class skills and gain proficiency with teh battle aspergillum (YEAH!), club, light mace, quarterstaff and sling, but neither armor or shields. The archetype gets basically a monk's AC/CMD bonus +1/2 class level to Diplomacy and Sense Motive instead of stern gaze. They may add Wis-mod on all Knowledge checks instead of gaining monster lore - while I'm not the biggest fan of two attributes to a skill, particularly at low levels, I can live with that. A cenobite loses the destruction, justice and smite judgments, but gains scaling bardic performance. At 2nd level, cenobites may forage in urban environments and gain class level to Survival checks. Bonus feats are modified so cenobites may take metamagic, item creation or bardic performance-influencing feats or the Virtuous Creed feat, replacing teamwork feats. At 5th level, they may make their weapon merciful as a swift action, at 12th level compassionate and 14th level allows the cenobite to use Diplomacy to stun foes via her words of peaceful intent Wis-mod times per day. As a capstone, the archetype gains a super judgment that may cause targets to surrender immediately.

There also are 4 new creeds for use with the Virtuous Creed feat - Abstinence, Chastity, Obedience, Peace and Poverty, all with their respective boons. I know. Usually I'm all about the bloody, evil, tentacle-studded stuff...but I really like this archetype. I would have switched some components around a bit, but generally, this offers a different and flavorful playing experience. Kudos!

We had religion, so now we get SCIENCE! Doctor Marie Curie comes with no less than6 discoveries and a grand discovery pertaining radioactive bombs - which can be upgraded to have a half-life or fire damage via Alpha Decay, The attribute damage causing Beta and Gamma Decay may be a bit strong for 8th level prerequisite and 12th level prerequisite and the grand discovery is the massive culmination of the discovery tree. Weapons and armor may now be radioactive and deal radiation damage, which is slightly problematic, considering there is no such standard damage type or means to negate it. While the book provides means to resist radiation damage via spells or lead and leaded glass as a material and the like, slightly more extended notes for introducing radiation damage on a more wholesale level would have been appreciated - are constructs affected? What about crocodiles and similar notoriously radiation resistant creatures? I like the idea, but consider the implementation a bit too ambitious for the scale it has here. We also get a new trait here.

Hatshepsut, one of the famous female pharaohs, gets a paladin archetype, who replaces divine grace with 1/2 class level to Bluff, Intimidate, Diplomacy and Perform checks. At 4th level, the archetype replaces channel positive energy with a 60-ft radius aura for a bonus to saving throws and a bonus to atk as part of a charge. At 10th level, the bonuses increase and if the ally worships the same deity, weapons are treated as magical for the purposes of overcoming DR. While not bad and concept-wise nice, the magical benefit at 10th level is pretty weak; the archetype could use some serious signature tricks.

Joan of Arc does probably not need an introduction - she gets a paladin archetype as well, the visionary, who replaces lay on hands and mercies with a mystery, codifying bonus spells gained properly within the paladin class' frame work and a revelation at 3rd level and every 6 levels thereafter. 3rd level also nets an oracle's curse and codifies spells gained properly as well. 4th level provides the divine messenger ability for a 1/day trance that can duplicate progressively better divination tricks, replacing channel energy thus. Also intriguing: The visionary gets the bloodrager's spell allotment, but not spell list and the archetype also has a solid apotheosis capstone.

Osh-Tisch would be up next and her material would be the order of the crow cavalier order - generally, the order is nice and focuses on retributive challenges and demoralizing foes. On a nitpick, one ability substitutes her charging bonus for an attempt at an Intimidate check - charging bonus is not proper rules language, and while the intent is pretty clear, I still felt this could be slightly more precise. The high level ability features the option to call forth spiritual allies that can be sacrificed as breath of life effects - which is a great visual! The write-up also features a nice magical club and three teamwork feats (which, while designated as such in the header, lack the type in brackets behind the name): Covering Charge and its Improved version, who allow for nice synergy between ranged and melee weapon using allies; the final feat in the chain, Opportunistic Charge, requires a ton of prereqs, but is beautiful -it allows for allied ranged weapon users with the feat who are nearby to shoot targets with AoOs if you get an AoO against an enemy. This can provide some seriously cool tactical tricks.

The final famous lady of legend we cover would be none other than visionary queen of horror Mary Shelley. We receive a statblock of Frakenstein's monster here at CR 11, but honestly, I am severely underwhelmed by it. No truly unique ability, no hearkening to the modern Prometheus mythology or the book's message - instead, we gain a slightly upgraded flesh golem when the subject matter deserves so much more.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not as tight as in some of the Letters. Layout adheres to Flaming Crab Games' two-column full-color standard with historic renditions of the famous woman who inspired the material. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

June Bordas, Jennifer R. Povey, Lindsey Shanks and Margherita Tramontano with J Gray as developer provide a fun array of options; honestly, I expected to be underwhelmed or find at least one glaring glitch in the rendition/information provided for the women herein. While this is no encyclopedia, it is indeed a great way to take a look and become interested in these famous women. Beyond that, the pdf has managed to grab my interest in several ways I did not expect; I for example did not expect to like the blood inquisition (much less find it cheese-resistant!) and the same holds true for the Joan of Arc and Saint Assisi archetypes - I've seen so many of them thematically, but these actually provide a novel playing experience. I similarly liked the teamwork-feat chain, which provides some cool tactical options. While I'm not sold to the same extent regarding other options and consider the Hatshepsut-archetype to be too bare-bones and filler, as a whole, this is well worth the low asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform. Can we have full installments on some of these themes?

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Letters from the Flaming Crab: Her Story
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