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Beasts of Bright Mountain
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/21/2017 07:49:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The finale for the roller-coaster-ride that is the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 35 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we get a fully detailed deity-write-up: The Creator, the neutral nature-deity of Celmae, is depicted – 6 domains…and no subdomains? Weird.

Cartography-wise, we get 2 player-friendly encounter-maps, which is pretty nice - though there are no full-page versions, which makes their use a bit annoying. Similar things hold true for the dungeon maps, though it should be noted that we get no player-friendly, key-less versions for these. So yeah, pretty much same old, same old for the comfort-levels of the cartography in the series.

On the plus-side, after the strange filler-module that was #5 (the whole module still makes no sense to me), we thankfully return to the hunt for Corvun Baerg that started in module #4. The Pcs follow Corvun’s trail into the tunnels, through glowing mold caverns…and here, things get real pretty much from the get-go. Cave leech. Black skeletons – the tunnel’s hard, but not close to how bad things will get; exiting into a mist-shrouded, secluded valley, the PCs will be stalked – the mythic Beast of Bright Mountain ( a mythic howler), can be found. This would btw. be as well a place as any to note that, while the statblocks are better than in almost every installment of the series, there are some formatting issues that could have been caught by even a cursory look at the final version: “Combat ReflexesM”…you get the idea. Still, the beast is certainly one of the most amazing foes in the whole series.

Following the path of Corvun, the PCs may well run into half-elven whisper knights – deadly adversaries, before finally entering the mountain temple of the Dark Mother. The dungeon is actually, craftsmanship-wise, pretty much the best in the series – we get summoning traps, varied foes (cultists, a bone golem (!!), blighted fey satyrs, shubian mountain goats – the enemy-diversity is here. It’s actually nice!! That being said, the formatting is sloppy: The text e.g. refers to A1 and 4b as regions – the map only sports a room number 4. The shubian goat mentioned has had its stats obviously cut-copy-pasted without properly formatting it. Its stats are also incorrect. The formatting, at least, is something you can see with even a cursory glance.

Heck, on the other side, custom NPC-stats like a tiefling alchemist (larval progenitor), are interesting- Corvun, btw., has turned into a delightfully disfigured dark satyr cleric with a glorious artwork – though, once again, there are some hiccups in these: Corvun’s AC, for example, is off be 1. More jarring would be the fact that the layout/formatting botched using superscript letters in every single instance. sigh That being said: Cave druids with yeth hounds! An intelligent, advanced fiendish chimera! An Apocalpyse shadow rat swarm! The enemies are more creative than all of the foes in the series so far combined; the module is significantly deadlier than the cake-walky sections in previous modules in the series – and all without resorting to dickish means. The challenge is brutal, but fair.

And then, there’d be the final encounter: Hexos Vell, the master of the cult, would be a beast-bonded witch/devotee of evil; he is supported by a mehrim cleric creature of Gof-DuoPog and a fiendish thousand young bloodrager as well as half-fiend variant clerics. We get a buff-suite here; combat tactics and some rather cool synergy here – as it should be, this is the hardest encounter in the whole series and can become really brutal. That being said, I thoroughly liked the combination – and, as a whole, the enemy selection within is diverse and the boss encounter is by far the most interesting one in the series regarding the challenges faced. I really wished that the adversaries featured herein would have been foreshadowed or distributed better among the respective individual modules of the AP.

We close the pdf with some ideas for further adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good, okay at best: There are some serious formal hiccups that should have been caught by even a cursory inspection. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with some amazing original artworks, some reused artworks and some stock pieces – all in full-color. Particularly the new artworks are really nice. The pdf comes with bookmarks. I already commented on the shortcomings, convenience-wise, of the cartography – basically the same symptoms as in the whole series. Similarly, the pdf does not allow for the highlighting of texts or copying from it. Annoying.

Derek Blakely, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Ewan Cummins deliver, THANKFULLY, at least a good finale for the series; after the horrible module #5, I wasn’t too thrilled for this one, but thankfully, both story and leitmotifs are back on track in this one. It once again feels like a module that belongs into this series.

The NPCs and combats faced herein are, by far, the most well-designed and interesting in the series – I wished that these aspects had been featured sooner in the series – it would have made the series much better. Difficulty-level-wise, this is by far the hardest module in the series, but for the right reasons: The challenges posed are potent and intriguing. While the quality of the module is hamstrung by the formal issues, I consider this to be one of the highlights in the series. I just wished that the dungeon per se would be more interesting: The temple itself is a collection of tunnels – claustrophobic and deadly, yes, but compared to #4’s unique, vertical shrine and amazing final encounter area, the pdf doesn’t sport an environment that evocative. That being said, this module is worth checking out.

The best way to utilize this whole series may be to run #1 (if you need a starting point), insert some modules of your own, and then mash #4 and #6 together: Stretch #4’s dungeon by inserting the NPCs and defenses in this module, add the potent cult leaders into the final encounter atop the maw – the scenario will be really cool and, in fact, such a combo would have had excellent chances at 5 stars + seal. In the end, the series, as a whole, feels unfocused in the story told – the series begins with aspirations of horror and then focuses suddenly more on heroic fantasy with a thin dark fantasy coating, to return to dark fantasy and serious challenges in this final module.

That being said, I consider this module to be one of the two highlights of the whole series; this may well be the module that had the best “skeleton” – what can be seen here, has all the potential of becoming glorious with a little bit of refinement, proper player maps and a slightly cooler dressing/presentation. The module may not be perfect, but it has some potential and can make for an interesting challenge. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beasts of Bright Mountain
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Call to War
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/20/2017 08:06:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always in the series, we do receive a deity-write-up – this time around, this would be Rullux, god of tyrants, treachery, violence and war – 4 domains, 3 subdomains. As always, the deity does come with extended notes regarding the role of priests, shrines, etc. – all in all, a decent write-up. The pdf sports 3 full-color maps; 2 of these, alas, are so small that printing them out is problematic: They only take up part of the map, which is puzzling. Considering that they’re pretty player-friendly. The pdf also sports a full-page map of the final environment – which is just as full-color and nice as the others, but unfortunately sports numbers, disqualifying it as a player-map. Frustrating, to say the least.

The pdf sports a lot of statblocks – alas, much like quite a few of the previous installments in the series, there are quite a few statblocks that sport errors. So, if you find that kind of thing troubling, be aware of this component.

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, if you thought that PCs would want to quickly track down the mastermind between the cult of Shub-Niggurath’s rise…you’d be wrong. The series considers it to be more prudent to restock in Brighton, which you can sell on players, but frankly, I think the module could have used some guidance there. The whole first part of the module is a series of combats throughout the town of Brighton – there is a map of a temple, a map of streets, and encounters to be fought against orcs and ogres. Encounters that range from “boring filler” to “mega-lethal” – there is an encounter with 20 ashen orcs, at CR 1/3. And one against 8 skeletons and 16 zombies. Or, as my players would call them: Boring filler. Or fireball.

Then, suddenly, there’s a mutated ogre, whose critical hits, even with the statblock errors, are potent enough to insta-kill melee characters with a single critical hit. Sure, there is some treasure to be gained for saving folks, but yeah – I also was puzzled what constitutes “reusing” the mayor’s cloak to save him…and how the hell the PCs can see him tumble over the cliff and be stuck in a branch. Do the PCs have a side-view of the cliffside? If so, what’s the Climb DC etc. to reach it/gain it? This whole section was really weak and was very inconsistent with the tone of the adventure-series so far; up until now, we focused on dark fantasy, and now, suddenly, we have a war-scenario? Kinda felt like thematic whiplash. The one good thing I can say about part I would be, that some random terrain hazards/complications to simulate the chaos of the raid, are nice. That being said, have seen that done better as well.

Part II of the module, then, would be a journey onto Bright Mountain – oddly, the parts of the way up the mountain note letters, which hint, somewhat, at a missing map. Traveling up the mountain, the PCs…bingo, encounter monsters – Tendriculous. Forest Drakes. A camouflages pit trap. Sounds boring? It…unfortunately kinda is. The ogre camp that represents the “finale” of the module. It’s a camp (curiously called “town” in the text) with 2 ogre sentries. There are gore-heaps that animate (“The undigested”) and a survivor, doomed, unless the PCs intervene…the one instance where a bit of the series’ themes can be found. In the center of the camp, an ogre cleric is conducting a ritual to summon a demon, with the help of the other ogres and orcs. How many? No idea. And since the ritual ends when the PCs get close, I have no idea regarding the opposition’s numbers. The encounter’s set-up (2 CR 6 foes) makes this look like they’re supposed to be all that the PCs fight.

And that’s it. There’s a path into Bright Mountain. Improperly formatted loot. And a sour taste in my mouth.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still okay – not even close to good, but you can try to run this as written. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with solid full-color artworks, though I’ve seen some of them before. Cartography is similarly in full-color and I’ve already commented on their issues. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. As always, it is pretty annoying to note that selecting text or copying it, is impossible – that aspect has been disabled.

This module was penned by Michael Reynolds, Jarrett Sigler, Robert Gresham and Charlie Brooks. It is a module that exists in this series…but imho, it’s not a part of the series.

This whole module is a prime example of filler.

This module does absolutely nothing to propel the meta-plot forward; it is based on a curiously non-sensible place within the series.

For the most part, crucial information is utterly opaque. Orcs and ogres that vanish suddenly (mentioned in the text, then gone, no stats), weird descriptions; it is evident that this module wants to be the series’ “Red Hand of Doom” and “Hook Mountain Massacre” – alas, it fails at coming even remotely close to either. It seeks to evoke them, without getting what made these classics work.

The encounter-balance is all over the place and bogs the PCs down in tedious combat that should be abbreviated by fireballing the heck out of everything.

Most puzzling, though: Beyond the technical and design-shortcomings, this module never manages to really evoke any sort of proper atmosphere, it lacks the quasi-occult, horrific threat that suffused even the subpar second installment.

The talk with the prisoner in the end gets closest to something intriguing, but boils down to either tough choice and needless ickyness that isn’t really explained, set up or deserved.

Instead of a compelling story or atmosphere (the big strong points of #1 and #4), unique environments or anything, really, we have a succession of utterly bland, generic combats.

Orcs, ogres and some random encounters, held together by a flimsy premise and next to no story, rhyme or reason. I can see folks salvaging #2 for the flavor and ideas in the module, flawed though it may be. The same can’t be said about this module. I can literally picture no reason to get this module. I tried really hard, I really did, but I can’t think of any even remotely good component about this. Not one.

Even if you play the adventure-series in sequence, I strongly suggest replacing this module with one that actually sports the themes of the series. Adding a “I die for Shub-Niggurath 11eleven!!!”-throwaway-line to generic orcs dying does not make them interesting.

In short: This module is generic filler and the low point of the series. Skip it. Go from #4 to #6. Add some other module. Anything. My final verdict will clock in at 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Call to War
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Thank you for your review. We are sorry this one seemed to miss the mark for you.
Belly of Rot
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/09/2017 04:47:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the „Whispers of the Dark Mother“-series clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As before in the series, we do get a detailed write-up on one of the deities of Celmae – this time around, the deity in question would be “The Traveler” – a good deity of travel, void, etc. – 4 domains, 4 sub-domains are included. We get notes on priest’s role, shrines, etc. – while pretty close in themes to Desna etc., it is a solid write-up.

Now what’s kinda awesome: The complex map provided for the final encounter of this module actually is printer-friendly, takes up a whole page, and is player-friendly – big kudos there. I really wished the AMAZING side-view map of the complex, which is pretty vertical, would have been included in a similar manner. I really liked it, it’s nice – but my players will never get to see it. Still, a step up from the series’ standards.

All righty, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the final conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around? So, the PCs come to Brynndell, the capital of the nation, following the trail to Corvun Baerg, who has a hand in the machinations of Shub-Niggurath’s cult. To be more precise, the trail leads to an ossuary/museum, the Os Domus, where a properly lined up chase promptly erupts. Goons intervene as well, and their statblock shows that…well, there are glitches and the annoying formatting deviations from statblock formatting standards are back. It’s puzzling to me to see errors in a fighter 1/rogue 1 statblock. sigh the glitches could be worse, but still. Sooner or later, the PCs will properly come in contact with the Grey Maidens and ultimately deal with “Corvun Baerg” – a double, as it turns out. PCs that did their homework will know that he recently purchased climbing equipment.

The trail leads into the wilderness, passed farmsteads where cultists anointed their journey in blood, to the grotto known as the Eternal Womb; a horse pyre, a ditched campsite, a hole in the ground – getting down into the hole will show a quasi-sub-terraneous grove, where dryads can be found – ostensibly corrupted by Shub-Niggurath’s influence, they strangely still have their CG alignment… Cool, on the other side: As seen on the cover, there is a giant, fey-touched snallygaster; there are sickly moss strands and tunnels – there is serious atmosphere here, including a doom-prophesying pillar that hints at the shape of things to come for the Shattered Skies setting. Crossing polluted water across a stagnant lake, the PCs will have to once again deal with a graven guardian as the PCs make their way towards the subterranean temple of the Dark Mother – where the aforementioned, cool battle-map-style map comes into play: Cultists chant around the Maw, a bottomless hole containing an avatar of the elder god; above which another cultist is held by ropes; the forlarren concubines of Corvun lack stats…but the satyr slayer boss does gain stats. While we get 3 cultist stat-blocks, the module isn’t very clear regarding the nature of which to use when. Unfortunately for the PCs, Corvun has already ventured forth towards the Bright Mountains, his apotheosis complete – so, at least for now, stopping that man will be the next stop on the path of the PCs trying to foil the machinations of the cult.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay – while there are annoying discrepancies and deviations from the standards, the statblocks are generally in a usable state. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that is rather nice. The artworks herein are a blend of neat original ones and a few stock pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which is nice. The module sports really nice cartography – one map comes in a nice, full-page player-friendly version, but I wished the same could be said of the cool overview map. As always, it is rather annoying that selecting text/cut-copying text, has been disabled.

Rodney Sloan, Robert Gresham and Simon Peter Muñoz deliver, content-wise, my favorite installment in the series so far: We have diverse challenges. Flavorful, atmospheric write-ups…and more importantly, the vertical mini-dungeon and the cool final encounter sport a lot of neat environmental hazards – this has, by far, the coolest environments in the series so far; unique, flavorful backdrops.

There are downsides to the module, though: Beyond the weak editing/formatting components, the adversaries, after the last, rather challenging two modules…are a cakewalk. The final boss is a horrid wimp. At level 4, my players would one-on-one the fellow, in spite of the environmental hazards. If the characters don’t all fail their saves against the save-or-suck low-level spells. Additionally, some of the opposition in the encounters could be defined more concisely. If the editing was tighter, then this would most assuredly be a module I could recommend more warmly. As provided, this is one of the better installments in the series, though, and may be worth getting for the low price-point for the environments and ideas.

In the end, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. If the, at times, opaque nature of the module is something that would annoy you, round down. If you don’t care about that and are willing to work with the module, round up. My final verdict will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Belly of Rot
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Despicable Deeds
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:43:02

An Endzietgeist.com review

The third installment of this series clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Included in this pdf would be a brief write-up of Coirithradail, Celmae’s god of cities, currency and horses – the write-up sports notes on temples, priest’s roles, etc. - 5 domains are granted by the deity, as well as 4 subdomains – for example “LanguageAPG”; just to show you one example of the editing-hiccups herein. It should also be noted than 2 of the pages of this module are devoted to recapping on how to run haunts. I don’t have anything against a rules-recap like this – in fact, I consider it helpful for new GMs. However, it’s weird to see this in module #3 – after all, the rather…let’s say, “less than superb”, module #2 sported haunts. It also doesn’t really bring anything new or is particularly concise – it’s literally copy-pasted from the SRD…minus the spell-italicizations and similar formatting peculiarities. It’s puzzling and eats up word-count real estate of an already pretty brief (but inexpensive) module.

As before, we don’t get a proper map-appendix or player-friendly versions of the maps, but after the first two modules, I assume that you’re familiar by now with the shortcomings in the cartography-department.

All right, that out of the way, let’s take a look at the module! The following is a discussion of the content herein. As such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? So, if all went well (unlikely) in the previous, pretty weak installment of the series, then the PCs should have picked up the Lamentations of the Fungus Men – and from here on, the trail should point the PCs towards the revered Bhestos family and the family’s scion Maartin – I strongly suggest using the optional hooks as well to point the PCs in the right direction.

Maartin has had a tough time: His wife Farrah came down with depression after childbirth, and his son Yurah similarly was weak and ill – seeking respite, Maartin hired the nanny Juen – who only exacerbated the situation, started an affair with Martin – which was promptly found out. Maartin’s wife hanged herself, while the “nanny”, truly a totenmaske in disguise, proceeded to fully indoctrinate Maartin into the cult’s fold, with the Dark Mother bestowing deformed, but obedient children to the Besthos’ family’s scion. What became of Maartin’s child? Consigned to the attic, the kid perished. Yeah, the background here is dark. Oh, and the vines around the building? Assassin vines. Classic.

Aforementioned totenmaske may be wounded, but the entity also is the most dangerous foe in the module – big plus: The stats are more solid than anything I’ve seen in the series so far, even though there are deviations from the standard in the statblock formatting. Similarly positive: The fully mapped mansion’s rooms sport interaction points, read-aloud texts etc. A HUGE plus: The tragic history, including the barrier that damaged the totenmaske, makes sense – the graven guardians, the attic whisperer that once was Yurah, the haunts – they actually tell a story of sorts. Not as well as e.g. Pyromaniac Press’ “From the Ashes”, but better than any module in the series so far. Ultimately, the PCs will have to defeat Maartin and his pickled, deformed “children”, eliminate the totenmaske and hopefully help the haunts being resolved – just slaying the fellow won’t help regarding the haunts. Ultimately, the trail of Shub-Niggurath’s corruption seems to point to the capital city of the region…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not exactly good, but not even close to as bad as in #2 – thankfully. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that’s nice and the pdf comes with some really nice, original artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Cartography, while nice, is inconvenient due to the lack of player-friendly versions and the small maps within – not exactly helpful. The module has copying of the text disabled, which is somewhat annoying.

Charlie Brooks and Jacob W. Michaels deliver the, by far, best installment in the series so far: The haunted house depicted within is interesting, atmospheric and lacks big issues – it can be considered to be a solid take on the genre.

There’s one problem here. It’s a haunted house module. I love those, as pretty much everybody who’s been following my reviews can attest to. The problem here is the genre; the fact that I can rattle off, at the top of my hat, at least 5 SUPERB haunted house-modules for Pathfinder alone.

Beyond the well-known examples from Paizo’s oeuvre, we have gems like Pyromaniac Press’ “From the Ashes”, for example. If we go beyond the borders of the system, I can spend hours, literally, extolling the virtues of various legendary haunted house modules. In direct comparison, this falls flat of that level of excellence.

Don’t get me wrong. For the low price point, this is a solid offering. It raises the bar of the series back to a level, where I am hopeful for the adventure-series. At the same time, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the module when seen in context. If you’re running the series, this is worth checking out, though. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Despicable Deeds
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Tower of Hidden Doors
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/01/2017 05:43:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second adventure in the „Whispers of the Dark Mother adventure arc clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, first things first: It should be noted that this module contains a two-page write-up of the deity Amaura, the mother of life and oceans – this deity was first introduced in Cultures of Celmae: Majeed, but has been expanded in this module: We learn about priest’s roles, shrines, etc. While, flavor-wise, the deity write-up is pretty concise, you should be aware that no Inner Sea Gods-style obediences are included. The deity comes with 7 domains, but no subdomains noted, and sports two different favored weapons – the latter can render things slightly wonky regarding proficiencies etc. Still, as a whole, the prose is rather nice.

The module also contains stats for the mythos grimoire that drove the plot of #1 – the lamentations of the fungus men. The tome comes with research DC, quick and concise little research rules (in case you’re not using them) and a nice “cost” for studying the tome. Spell-wise, colostrums cohort conjures forth lemurs with the entropic creature template added (having the stats here would have been more convenient). The symbol of the creator would basically be a variant of the Elder Sign as a spell – it protects against worshipers and creatures of the elder gods and is a level 1 spell, for pretty much every caster but witch, druid (weird, since shamans can cast it) and magi. The spell is pretty potent, but considering the context of the adventure arc, the PCs will need such an edge sooner or later. Now, the lamentations also contain a new occult ritual, the Ritual of Becoming. It is not one PCs should attempt. Kinda hilarious: Most mad cultists think that the failure of the rather difficult ritual is the intended effect. What’s the failure? Well, you call Gof duPog, the probably most unfortunately-named demon I’ve seen in a while – this fellow would be an advanced, entropic, gnarled goat demon (CR 7) and stats are included. It should be noted that I noticed some minor hiccups in the stats, but not to the point where using the creature would be problematic. The pdf also sports stats for the CR ½ lesser shadow (whose AC line has this explanation (+1 +2 deflection, +1 dodge, +2 Dex) – the first +1 is a remnant and should be deleted. Similarly, AC reads “14 15, touch 14…” – editing should have caught that.

The pdf also includes a story-feat (nice), namely Enemy Cult. Problem: The feat is unusable as provided: Part of the Benefits-section is missing! It looks like it should grant you SPs (including symbol of the creator), but still – even casual checking should have shown that a whole pararaph’s missing from the feat!

All right, so that would be the rules-section of the pdf – now, let’s move on to the module itself. This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, after the chase that ended #1 of the series, the PCs will probably be stumped – they are promptly called to Sherriff Byron Tate – who offers a sizable reward for the apprehension of the one-eyed half-orc that led the assault on Lady Canterville. The PCs thus should have enough motivation to find out more about the assailant and the book – a brief table to gather information does provide further clues. Slightly weird: There is a DC 1-entry that basically constitutes failure and a hint to move the plot along. Ultimately, the PCs will venture into the Ogre’s Belly, where half-orc drunkards will try to mess up the PCs for daring to venture into “their” tavern. The likelihood of a bar fight is quite high, and 1d6 complications add a sensible amount of chaos to the proceedings. Slightly odd: The module introduces the “slick” weapon qualiy, which denotes weaponry that can render the floor slick (d’uh) or help escape grapples – while generally valid, the lack of a duration here is just one reason why the like is usually handled differently in the rules.

The tavern comes with a solid full-color map, but one that is pretty small (too small for minis when printed out) and it comes only as part of the module’s pages – i.e., if you were to print out the page, you’d have about ¾ text on the page that you have to cut off. There is no player-friendly map of the tavern sans room numbers etc. These points of criticism, btw., extend to all of the maps featured in the module. Compared to the industry standard with maps in the appendix, often player-friendly versions as well, this is rather inconvenient and a big comfort detriment as far as I’m concerned. The numbers on the map are also kinda puzzling, since there are no room descriptions keyed to them – one room is relevant, I assume #7, judging from the room’s description. The PCs will sooner or later get the approval to look through Kemon’s room – an in it, they are assaulted by an iron cobra. Stats not included, not hyperlinked, not even highlighted in the text. Not how that’s usually formatted – at least the CR and source tend to be noted. If the PCs managed to save Faven in #1, they’ll be granted a scroll of lesser restoration and have some assistance regarding crafting. Yep, magic item not properly italicized.

Anyways, the trail leads to the eponymous tower of hidden doors. Right before the tower, on the approach, there is a pumpkin patch, one housing a fully-stated jack-o’-lantern creature – a plant monster with a fear aura, a strangling entangle, etc. – per se nice, if weak critter. Which brings me to a balancing aspect: If the PCs hustle towards the tower (distance to Brighton is opaque), they are fatigued. No save, no check. That’s not how hurrying regarding overland travel works in PFRPG.

Anyways, the rest of the module deals with the exploration of the tower. Each room comes with read-aloud texts, which is pretty nice, though there are some strange wordings here: “Only a single leaf bangs against the frame.”, for example, is a really weird piece of prose. I have never heard a leaf “bang” against anything. There also are a few instances where the formatting is weird. The tower itself has an interesting background story – Wovunda, a former oracle and adherent of the dark arts, has once perished in this place – his undead existence is responsible for the haunts that can be found in the tower. The undead has also stolen the book from the werewolf cultists, who still camp inside (!!!) after a run-in with the shadows of the place. How dumb can you get? Speaking of which: The guy who could not be caught by the PCs before is so dumb, he left a hint to where you can find him in his room in town, even though he can’t be tracked?? Then again, the werewolves are so alert, they automatically perceive the PCs. Stealth-rules? Why bother? Urgh.

Unfortunately, the PCs won’t really find out any details about Wovunda – and the module doesn’t use the haunts to convey anything; they miss the chance of indirect storytelling. Another issue: At one point, the PCs can be penalized for having a good Perception. Yeah, not good design there.

The BBEG of the module remains opaque, the haunts don’t really tell a story. Creatures are referenced in the text, lacking CR-values and proper formatting, making close-reading VERY important. In some cases, the text e.g. mentions using telekinesis to use chains to hit PCs – including damage-values, but not even a short-hand for the BAB. Monster-stats, where present, sport glitches in basic stats like attack-values. The formatting makes the werewolf-cultists look like they have magic items, when they don’t. Neither damage, nor attack values are correct. With the DR, the combat against them will drag sorely and be pretty annoying, in spite of their weakened nature. Not even starting with the incorporeal adversaries, which can break groups without the proper tools…which, at level 2, may well be almost all groups. This module is challenging in all the wrong ways, using incorporeal subtype and DR/silver as a basic tool to make what would otherwise be easy combats frustrating in all the wrong ways.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are no longer okay. It is readily apparent that this module did not see proper editing – from obvious formatting hiccups, to layout stuff that should be here (notes of monsters in room) to the math being wrong, this module is bad. Layout is gorgeous; a to-column full-color standard that is really nice to look at. The artworks within are similarly amazing – full-color, original, really nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked. Cartography is full-color and solid, but the lack of big versions and player-friendly maps make this inconvenient. As always with Wayward Rogues Publishing, you can’t highlight/copy/text, which is annoying when you’re trying to fix the numerous glitches.

Maria Smolina, Jarret Sigler, Robert Gresham and James Eder’s continuation of the series is a disappointment. The plot and behavior of the NPCs makes no sense whatsoever. The, per se, interesting location does not tell its tale, in spite of everything being in place. Instead, it feels generic and cobbled together. The boss having the McGuffin makes no real sense either. The combats fall on the frustrating side of things, not due to difficulty, but due to really nasty defensive options that can’t be properly deduced beforehand. The module also displays a puzzling ignorance regarding several PFRPG-rules. In short, this is not a good module; where #1 was saved by some ideas and a generally decent leitmotif, this one is generic in all the wrong ways. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, rounded up by a tiny margin due to the neat artwork and the potential to salvage this for the continuation of the series. Then again, you may be better off improvising a stand-in module…

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Tower of Hidden Doors
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Tales from the Laughing Dragon Inn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 04:49:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure-anthology clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us still with a rather impressive 50 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that the eponymous tavern, the “Laughing Dragon Inn”, is depicted between front cover and editorial/ToC-page, with full map and brief room descriptions – the section can be used as a kind of hand-out, if you wish. The full-color map provided is nice, though it should be noted that no one-page or high-res jpg-version is included – if you just want to hand out the map, you’ll need to cut off the text. This holds true for all the maps contained herein. Whether or not you consider that a plus or not depends on your tastes. Unfortunately, there are no key-less player-friendly maps in the pdf.

It should be noted that the advertisement text is incorrect – these adventures are not for levels 1 – 10. Please consult my discussion of the adventures below for the proper level-ranges covered.

All right, got that? Well, we begin this book with a recap of the storied history of the Laughing Dragon Inn. GMs do get an extended history of the place, 6 sample events during night-time and 8 fluff-only write-ups of tavern staff, from barkeeper to owners to servers. Speaking of which: The picture of the servers is pretty much fanservice – personally, I’m not a big fan of the picture, as the exaggerated cleavage of the ladies felt like a bit too much…but then again, the pdf does something clever and actually makes that a plot-point of sorts….which is pretty ingenious and smart. Beyond that, the pdf does go into lavish detail regarding the inn’s menu: Food, drink and desert all get their own list of entries, with a general idea of prices provided as well. All in all, a solid way to start the compilation and establish an identity for the place within Brighton.

All right…and this is where we begin taking a look at the adventures. As such, I’d strongly advise potential players to jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Good!

The first module would be Kendra Leigh Speedling’s “Dust to Dust”, intended for level 4 PCs. The PCs attend the festival of St. Gran the Dust Warden, but the festivities don’t last too long – the PCs soon find that the wizard Viravar Harx has been murdered. The investigation of the body comes with multiple skill DCs to use. Mysterious: There don’t seem to be any tracks, just blood droplets here and there…and, big plus, the pdf does take some spells into account, though, alas, the spell references are not properly italicized – this, unfortunately, does happen more often throughout the module – the formatting could have been more precise here and there.

Anyway, the trail has not gone cold – and people seem to suspect Dervila, the sorceress, who would be the rival of the deceased wizard. The sorceress tries to Bluff the PCs away and is pretty good at it – but sooner or later, they will have to get inside of the house – in her workshop, the PCs will have a chance to duke it out with a junk golem and ultimately, will be able to track the sorceress to a hidden cave beneath her home – where cave scorpions and wights await – annoying formatting glitches in the stats, unfortunately included – while they can be used as written, there are e.g. plusses before CMD-values. Weird. On the plus-side: The artwork for Delvira is really neat – consumed by rage, the sorceress has become a penanggalen sorceress - a relatively brutal showdown. All in all a decent sidetrek with some cool monsters…though the BBEG didn’t exactly act that smart.

Rodney Sloan’s “The Demon’s Paw” is also for PCs of 4th level. Uness you believe the ToC – then it’s intended for 6th level PCs. It also takes place on a festival – the Wyre’s Winter Weave Festival. Dieter Hagen, who did not have an easy life, to say the least, has recently come into the possession of a demon’s paw…and this babau’s paw was unfortunately shown to less than scrupulous folks. Dieter is thus in attendance when a CR 7 fetchling dancer takes center stage with her haunting sandman abilities – this distraction is used by cultists to infiltrate the inn, capture Hagen and try to summon the demon – if that works out, stats are provided…and yes, the paw is a nice variant crawling claw. A nice artwork of a blood-spattered handout can also be found on one page – which not have that as a full-page hand-out in the appendix? Stopping the cultists, with or without having to deal with the demon, will end the sidetrek, though the reputation of the PCs may suffer from the involvement in the eerie proceedings, just while the cult of Shub-Niggurath starts plotting against them. Basic version of the monkey’s paw-theme – the weakest module herein, barely more than two encounters that PCs will probably hack through before realizing any aspect of the story.

“Under the Revenant’s Mask” by Thiago Rosa is up next, written for characters level 6 – 8. Strangely, this module doesn’t seem to sport a synopsis. Aurora, the daughter of Doctor Damile, is a talented singer that has fallen in love with Ceasar, a cook. Damile sought to impersonate Ceasar via disguise self (not italicized), but went overboard – his daughter died in a tried accident while running from him. Aurora has now returned as a revenant, hell-bent on revenge against an innocent and grief-stricken Ceasar, which Damiel sees as a chance – he had planned to resurrect his daughter via alchemical means…So that’s the set-up. Slightly strange: The first attack of zombies and revenant that kicks off the module does not get the usual encounter-formatting, happening exclusively in the flavor text. Anyways, Ceasar hires the PCs and they will sooner or later want to contact the local merfolk information broker (whose stats contain glitches). Maartin Bestor, the noble with a penchant for occultism, is not a kind man – but he may identify the zombies as alchemical creations. This will lead the PCs sooner or later (perhaps after the similarly basic depiction of the second night’s assault) to Damiel’s abode, where more undead roam – including Aurora, who gets a really cool artwork. Here’s the thing: Damiel is a potent alchemist – if the PCs haven’t figured out his possible involvement in the death of his daughter, the finale may well prove to be beyond them. That being said, there isn’t much in the way of proof other than speculation and roleplaying the dynamics here – which is a bit of a pity, for the visuals of the masked remnant are cool. This adventure suffers from its brevity and feels like an abbreviated form of a story that should have been more complex.

“Take me to the River” by Anthony Torretti is a sidetrek for 8th-level characters. The PCs are hired by a mining company’s prospector to investigate the disappearance of her assistant, convinced that Brighton’s folk are somehow involved. The PCs also encounter Artinus, an eccentric local druid and begin a brief local investigation here: Theis is structurally the best investigation in the book: We get read-aloud clues, several of them, guiding the PCs through the questioning process and the closer investigation of the man’s disappearance. The deductive reasoning to recreate the last whereabouts of the missing assistant is nice. The trail leads to the outhouse, which actually features a sewer system! In the mapped sewers, the PCs will have to face elder things and cultists…and rescue potentially the missing Lenam…who tells the PCs about the horrid, planned assault on the mining camp: In the water, pods (DCs to analyze the like provided) are bound to hatch, unleashing horrors upon the camp! The PCs have to get to the camp and deal with the Broodqueen of Shub-Niggurath (who comes with a GLORIOUS artwork) before the vile brood of elder things hatches. While not perfect, the sidetrek is structurally the strongest and presents a fun module.

The final adventure would be “A Comfortable Skin”, penned by Charlie Brooks, and intended for 10th level characters. Few entertainers are as popular as the gnomish pair Kavan and Lira Thresser and their adopted gnome son Barradan. Mywynn and Tannileigh seem to bit out of town, leaving Kavan in charge of the Laughing Dragon. He offers the PCs some serious money for the retrieval of stolen goods – and so the PCs set out to confront the Plundering Blades, relatively powerful, multiclassed bandits. Interrogation, however, yields that the bandits were hired to retrieve the stolen goods via nonlethal means by Teera Greyth, a seamstress. She is convinced that something’s not right at the Laughing Dragon…and close inspection of the intercepted shipment shows no less than 9 scrolls of gentle repose in a hidden compartment. At the Laughing Dragon, the PCs may well stumble into a deathtrap: The entertainer family has been taken over by intellect devourers…one of them even sporting assassin levels! And yes, both Mywynn and Tannileigh may be rescued…provided the PCs survive the brutal trio of aberrations… Solid, challenging, combat-centric sidetrek.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not exactly perfect – there are several formatting glitches, a couple of typos and if you’re picky about statblocks being correct…well, you’ll find hiccups there as well. Layout adheres to an actually beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports copious amounts of artworks – including some really amazing, high-quality pieces. Big kudos. The cartography is full-color and also sports some nice maps – though I wished we got one-page versions of them…or player-friendly ones. As provided, their lack represents a comfort detriment. Speaking of which: It is puzzling that an anthology of this length has no bookmarks whatsoever. Wile we’re at it: You can’t highlight or select text from the pdf, which is a further comfort detriment when creating your own notes.

Robert Gresham, Kendra Leigh Speedling, Rodney Sloan, Anthony Torretti, Charlie Brooks, Simon Munoz, Thiago Rosa and Jarrett Sigler have created a per se pretty solid anthology: While some of the modules suffer from their brevity a bit, as a whole, we have a couple of solid dark fantasy yarns here – nothing groundbreaking, but as a whole, I’d consider this compilation to be on the positive side. Considering the low asking price, the amount of content is pretty neat. I’d tentatively recommend this compilation in warmer terms if it was at least a bit convenient: The missing player-friendly maps, the lack of bookmarks, the glitches, which, while not crippling, do accumulate…they all conspire to drag this down. The adventures themselves are challenging and very lethal, as befitting the relatively dark fantasy-ish themes – and as a whole, I liked how this uses the Laughing Dragon Inn as a sort of story nexus and hub. The pdf, in short, does have something to offer if you’re not picky about formal hiccups – there is fun to be had here.

That being said, I can’t overlook the shortcomings the compilation does have. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars…but honestly, I can’t round up for this. If you’re looking for some brief, inexpensive dark fantasy sidetreks and don’t care too much about weaknesses in organization, editing and formatting, then this may be well worth checking out!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tales from the Laughing Dragon Inn
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Seeds of Evil.
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/27/2017 04:06:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the Whispers of the Dark Mother-adventure series clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only GMs around?

We begin this first installment of the saga near the town of Brighton, where farms producing fruit produce a quilt of colors, steeping the town – the prose does a nice job setting the stage and the adventure hook is pretty evident from the get-go, as the first sequence of read-aloud text points the PCs towards Lady Celeste Canterville’s mansion, where an offer of free apples seeks to lure potentially interested parties towards the place. PCs more inclined to first complete some legwork will have a chance to research a variety of rumors, some of which are automatically found in certain taverns, rewarding PCs for covering their bases. A detailed selection of sample sentences to help GMs with read-aloud sections on various topics will be particularly appreciated by less experienced GMs that have a harder time come up with ad-hoc responses.

At the lady’s mansion, the PCs are greeted by her servant and they are approached by a bard, one Kara (with full stats, which, alas, sport some minor glitches, something that can be observed for all statblocks in the book), who seeks to join them on their trip at the behest of Lady Celeste – you see, the lady wants the PCs to procure gate willow seeds and some other herbal ingredients. These magical plants can enhance summoning spells and once again, a lot of detailed responses are provided for the social interaction. The harvesting of these plant components, is, however, fraught with danger – both the willows and the whipweed seeds required can be hazardous to harvest, which is why the PCs are contacted in the first place. After this talk, a woman called Shala contacts the PCs as well – her son Faven has gone missing and she beseeches the party to look for him, handing them a wood-carving to gain the lad’s trust.

Thus, the PCs venture into the woods – which are represented by a mini-wilderness exploration, noting landmarks, flora and fauna to be found within the area. A random encounter table can add further complications to the exploration, if required. Beyond these random encounters, there also is a sequence of planned encounters, which include fire-breathing vor-gremlins. The exploration takes the PCs past sharp seeds, a cave-fisher’s lair and puts them into direct confrontation with xtabay plants as well as the previously mentioned whipweeds, establishing a leitmotif of a magical and dangerous flora – subtle, but a concise leitmotif nonetheless. As the PCs approach Bright Mountain, they will sooner or later find the gate willow grove, and these plants have managed to call forth an akata guardian that makes for a potent boss for this sequence of the module. At one point during their trip, the PCs will also have a chance to test their mettle against an ogre, but ultimately, they should arrive back at Lady Celeste’s mansion sooner or later, meeting the lady in her library…but not all seems to be going well. The doors of the mansion are ajar, Emilio lies slain and cultists led by a half-orc are threatening the lady.

Ultimately, the cultists seem to have the goal of acquiring a rare tome, namely the Lamentations of the Fungus Men…and here, the module changes its so far calm and serene pace in favor of a nice little chase – though ultimately, the one-eyed half-orc will manage to abscond with the book, leaving a grievously wounded and either poisoned or diseased lady Canterville granting the PCs a precious few hints, before expiring, blood foaming from her mouth….and the denouement, like magical question etc., will not yield more…but the PCs will probably be enticed enough to follow up on this mystery.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are the weak points of this module: Lower cap skills, italicization hiccups etc. can be found, as well as some plural/inflection hiccups that sharply contrast with the otherwise rather evocative prose. Layout adheres to a really aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard and the pdf features some nice full-color artworks – impressive for the low price-point! You cannot highlight text in the pdf, which is somewhat jarring, but less annoying in an adventure than in a crunch book that you’re likely to extract data from. Cartography is full color and generally solid: A player-friendly version of the region is included. However, the maps for both the wilderness exploration and the combat at the end are pretty small – getting a one-page version to print them out, preferably sans map-key, would have been nice.

Robert Gresham, with additional writing by Ewan Cummins and Jarret Sigler, delivers a nice beginning to the “Whispers of the Dark Mother”-storyline here. The module provides a sufficient amount of information regarding the proceedings and manages to establish a nice atmosphere of a fantastic wilderness exploration. The thematic leitmotif is subdued, yet very much present, helping the overall atmosphere of the module. The prose, when it doesn’t stumble over a minor hiccup, is actually really good – It is not too verbose, but detailed and well-crafted enough to manage to evoke a unique atmosphere. So yes, this was actually a solid read. That being said, the module, quite deliberately, begins with a slow and steady, almost picturesque build-up that is sharply contrasted at the end of the module, making for a nice setting of the stage for the darker things to come. This is not a groundbreaking module, but for the fair price point, it delivers. Seeds of Evil achieves its goal of setting up the story and establishing the tone of the things to come. If the formal components like proofing and editing had been better, this would have received a warmer recommendation from me, but as a reviewer, I cannot ignore these flaws. It runs well enough, though, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up by a margin for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Seeds of Evil.
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Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/22/2017 04:20:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second compilation of Wayward Rogues‘ hybrid classes clocks in at 65 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Well, I have covered a lot of these before in their stand-alone releases, so let’s just revisit them briefly before checking out the Bullet Disciple, shall we?

The dimensionist has obviously gotten a bit of a facelift: While the rules-language for non-euclidean intrusion is a bit less refined regarding its wording, it now thankfully talks about its action economy…and its daily uses have been nerfed down to 1/day at first level, +1/day at 7th and 15th level. The ability also still lacks a range. Unfortunately, this results in quite a few dead levels characterized exclusively by a new spell slot, not necessarily even a new spell level reached. Spell distortions are not freely choosable and are presented in a painfully non-standard formatting. Speaking of formatting and confusion: Some abilities are after the capstone – some of which previously were distortions. And at 17th level, the class, weirdly, notes “Nimble +5” in the table. This is…worse than in the stand-alone version. The italicizations are still missing left and right and the archetypes are similarly nothing to write home about. Ouch.

Okay, so no improvement there, what about the incarnate? Well, we still have dead levels. We still have partial redundancies (the base class gains martial weapon proficiency) and a revelation of a mystery nets access to that and Exotic Weapon Proficiency for all such weapons. A lot of the revelations still lack their activation action. Abilities still have not been codified properly.

The librarian still fails to specify how many memory points he actually gets. Lightning instead of electricity…it’d have been a few minutes of work to make this class work properly. It’s so close. A single capable rules-dev could have done so in less than half an hour. Alas, it has been taken 1:1 from its pdf.

…well, on the plus-side, there are two new archetypes for the librarian: The Bibliophile, that replaces instant study and quick study with halving the required rest duration for his race and 14th level providing immunity to starvation, thirst and sleep for as long as the librarian has a new book to read. This is cool, but does it allow for the preparation of spells after the brief rest period? Instead of bestow knowledge with the “my favorite part” ability, usable 3 + Charisma (not properly capitalized) modifier times per day – these would btw. be full-round action buffs for nearby allies. The archetype’s relatively solid. The second librarian archetype would be the exotic ecologist, who can roll d20s when interacting with creatures analyzed twice, taking the better result 3/day, +1/day for every 3 levels after 3rd, replacing bestow knowledge. Yeah, that translates to the equivalent of advantage. And I do not really get what “re-learn” means. Ability-gains are btw. not in sequence and at 2nd level, you can treat non-humanoids of several creature types, even mindless ones, as humanoids, which can be OP. The other two abilities, providing eidetic memory interaction (doesn’t work in the base class) as well as tongues – which is obviously not italicized, and a surge-like bonus on Charisma skill checks…which is not adhering to PFRPG-rules-language. There are several feats for the librarian, which include using books as weapons. And guess what? The feats even manage to screw up properly noting the damage type of these books. They also impose save penalties and another feat nets +1 use of eidetic memory or +2 bestow knowledge uses. Erasing a spell with a descriptor allows you to temporarily erase a creature’s resistance to the energy for 1 round…which is interesting, though wonky in wording.

The revanchist’s sense murder still doesn’t work properly. The class still makes no real sense to me and still has some serious balance-and versatility-issues. The class now gets an archetype, the territory shepherd can form a bond with a limited number of allies, helping their overland movement and healing while resting. Instead of oath of vengeance, judgments apply to all allies in the aforementioned bond instead and the broken sense murderer is replaced with teamwork sharing The higher level abilities further enhance this tactician-y style. The big plus here: The archetype is MUCH better than the base class. The downside: Dreamscarred Press’ tactician and several other classes like the Battle Lord do everything this one does…better. As in more diverse, more interesting, more options. And no, formatting’s not perfect here either. Next.

Vivisectionist…oh dear, please let them have fixed this guy, he’s so cool! (And he’s not among the bookmarks. Odd. *brief read-through. Nope. Swift alchemy still contradicts the table. Rules-nomenclature’s still non-standard in cases. Ach, come on! The spells from the original pdf have been included. The vivisectionist also gets an archetype here – the chirurgeon, who gets a healing touch instead of channel negative energy as well as Turn Undead and a quasi-channel that only works in conjunction with the feat. The fear aura is replaced with a buff, life bond replaces vivisection and we get better healing, life sight and later, anti-death effect-boosts and a save, even when usually none would be allowed. Okay, what type of save? I like the idea of a non-evil vivisectionist, but this does have a few hiccups as well.

…okay, so, up next would be the new hybrid class herein, which is yet another combo of monk and gunslinger. If I had a dime for each take on that combo I have analyzed…Anyways, these guys need to be lawful, get d10 HD, 4 + Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, firearms and light armor as well as full BAB-progression (because firearm-using classes totally need full BAB…) and good Ref- and Will-saves. The class gets an ancestral arm (pistol, blunderbuss or musket) “that is hard to wield without the years of doctrine and training” – okay, cool. Effects? RAW: None. There is a bullet flurry ability at first level, somewhat balanced by not being able to target the same creature (I think…) and imposing penalties on subsequent attacks, with 11th level providing a second, optional attack. The ability stacks with haste (non-italicized) and its wording is a bit wonky. Wanna hear something funny? The class gets a scaling precision-damage-based bonus damage at first level, +1d4, scaling up to +2d8. In second range increment or further, the bullet disciple is treated as -4 levels for the purpose of this damage. Because we all know that the issue with firearms was that they don’t do enough damage.

1st level yields Rapid Reload, 5th level nimble +2 (which upgrades every 4 levels thereafter by +1). 3rd level provides the option to ignore one cover between the bullet disciple and the target (not total cover) and 7th level provides Shot on the Run and starting at 11th level, the character no longer provokes AoOs with the gun and may not be disarmed of firearms and attempts to steal ammo may be countered with an unarmed pistol whip. 15th level yields 1/day a shot that ignores DR, hardness, cover and concealment. Nova, much? This is enhanced to 10 bullets at 19th level, which does nothing to make the ability more palpable. The capstone is a full-attack kill shot that manages to get the rules-language non-standard in spite of literally dozens of precedence cases.

On the plus-side, the class gets a so-called doctrine at 2nd level, +1 every even level thereafter – these are talents that partially mimic deeds, partially allow for firearm modifications – only one modification may be applied to a given firearm, but the pdf fails to specify how long removing such a modification in favor of a new one takes. The formatting, obviously, is inconsistent here, but the abilities sport some gems – like keeping powder dry, or providing cover fire (which doesn’t specify if it takes up AoOs or not – assume no, but yeah…). Non-typed damage, failure to specify if unarmed penalties to kicks apply…The basics look well enough at first glance, but once you start dissecting the section, it starts showing strains.

The class does come with a cool Dark tower-Gunslinger-esque code that made me wish the class had been polished a bit more. It also sports no less than 3 archetypes. The brimstone initiate displays ignorance of how unarmed combat works in the proficiency line: “Only proficient with her fists and a single firearm” – so the kick doctrine is non-proficient? WTF? Instead of gun damage boosts, the character gains monk unarmed attack damage progression and (non-capitalized) Improved Unarmed Strike. Starting at 2nd level, iterative attacks with unarmed strikes grant stacking attack bonuses with the firearm, discharging on a successful hit. If the bonus doesn’t increase or isn’t discharged, it returns to 0 after 1 round. So, beat up kitten until you have infinite god-precision (something like +100), have ally open door, fire imba auto-hit inside. Yeah, this bonus should cap. Even more lulzy: At 4th level, firearm attacks increase unarmed threat ranges. Yeah, there’s a reason why threat range increases only stack in very rare exceptions. Oh and 8th level provides auto-load with “spiritual energy bullets". Okay, do they disperse? Can they be sold? It notes, like many abilities, ki, sans the class actually having ki – is that supposed to be flavor? If so: Very poor word-choice. There’s a reason for rules-terminology…

Ballistic Engineers gain a custom firearm that inflicts damage as though he was an unarmed monk of equal level, with Intelligence being added to damage rolls and replacing the default doctrine-list with only modifications and a couple of exclusive tweaks, including stacking threat modifiers (WTF) and adamantine bullets (or elemental ones) at 2nd level – the archetype shows a blatant disregard for how damage types, DR, etc. work – not starting with balance. The walking hurricane gets two pistols with an advanced capacity (1/4 character level), losing the flurry, and TWF (not capitalized) as well as better sundering abilities with the pistols…yay?

None of the classes presented in this book get favored class options, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are…okay, so, if you value, in any way, shape or form adherence to things like spells being italicized properly, like feats being in capital letters…you know, the very basics of formatting for PFRPG, then this’ll hurt you. Rules-language oscillates from still okay to “core ability RAW doesn’t work.” Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard with mostly solid stock art and the original pieces presented for the stand-alone classes. The pdf does have bookmarks, but not for all classes – and if you expected nested bookmarks for archetypes etc., I’ll have to disappoint you. At this length, not cool. As always with Wayward Rogues, highlighting and copying text from the pdf is impossible, which means you’ll have to copy the text BY HAND. Supremely annoying, to say the least.

Robert Gresham, Aaron Hollingsworth, Rodney Sloan and Jarret Sigler had a chance to do it right. (I assume some of the authors of one of the classes wanted to be left out – otherwise, this does not credit the authors of the vivisectionist, easily the best part of the book.) When one of my patreons tasked me to review all the Wayward Rogues material, I didn’t think I’d have to bash quite as much as I had to so far. I frankly feel like a bully and I don’t like that, but there’s no sugarcoating it. While thankfully better than the first compilation, this leaves a lot to be desired.

Problem one is the obvious lack of an editor. I have never, in all of my PFRPG-days, seen a compilation that so consistently ignores basic formatting principles. While a rules-editor would have most definitely helped, this isn’t necessarily what galls me most about this pdf. It is evident that the classes were copy-pasted from their initial releases. No additional development or editing pass was provided; all typos are still there; all ambiguities. And then there would be the dimensionist: Either the stand-alone file has been seriously revised (and lost some crucial information), or this book has the revised version – which plays less interesting and has its own share of issues. Neither version is up to the standards of the 3pp-industry.

This all is particularly galling, when a single afternoon could have fixed pretty much EVERYTHING in this book. Well, a lot of it, anyways. Even if the more broken classes had been left untouched, at least fixing those that almost get something amazing done right would have elevated this pdf. But no. The bullet disciple, just fyi, while not the worst iteration of the by now very old trope, is also not the best one and sports the same categories of glitches and hiccups as the other classes. Not one of the options herein can be run RAW, without requiring some GM-intervention in the rules-department. Ultimately, I cannot recommend this pdf – from the accumulated issues to the disabled text-parsing and associated comfort detriments, this compilation falls flat of what it could and should have been. And don’t get me started on diversity, choice, and the finer details of class design – aesthetics don’t even feature in this rating. Ultimately, I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Hybrid Classes Vol. 2: Horror Heroes
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Windblade Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:10:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The windblade hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Windblades gain d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with clubs, daggers, darts, quarterstaffs, scimitars, scythes, sickles, shortspears, slings and spears as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields). Windblades get ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Will-saves and they gain spontaneous spellcasting of divine spells drawn from the druid spell-list, with Wisdom as a slightly odd governing attribute choice for spontaneous spellcasting. The spells per day cap at a base per spell level and the class gains access to all full 9 levels of spellcasting.

They also begin play with a +2 bonus to Knowledge (planes) and Survival as well as the Eschew Materials feat. More importantly, windblades begin play with skybond – basically a bloodline-ish progression that nets Knowledge (planes) as a bonus class skill and bonus spells at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter, which are gained from a linear list. 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, the windblade gets to choose a bonus feat from the list presented by the skybond, two of which are new, but we’ll get to these later. Additionally, they treat their caster level as 1 higher for the purpose of casting spells with the [air] descriptor and gain a linear ability progression: 1st level lets the fire a 30 ft. ranged touch attack arc of electricity, which, oddly, RAW deals untyped damage – pretty sure that should have been electricity damage. At 3rd level, the windblade gets DR 1/- and takes ¼ damage from falls. 9th level nets you the ability to fly, as the spell, 3 + Cha-mod times per day; you may grant the ability to another creature, but that takes two uses. Why isn’t this SP? It’s textbook SP and since the ability doesn’t tweak anything like activation action, I can literally see no reason this is Su. And yes, most annoyingly, spell reference instances where they’re not italicized can be found here.

At 15th level, the class can transform into lightning and blast forth…which sounds cool, but creatures in the path are affected by “your thunderbolt power” – guess what the class does not have? Bingo, a thunderbolt power. How did this happen? Well, the ability was cut copy pasted from the APG’s stormborn bloodline, which DOES have a thunderbolt power. Pretty sad that it hasn’t even been adjusted for the class after copying. RAW, this one is thus not operational. The 20th level capstone of the skybond is cool: You summon a whirlwind as a free action – this behaves as a 10-ft.-platform with a flying speed of 60 ft. The ability does not state a maneuverability class, only that the platform is as solid as ground – which can be problematic when used in conjunction with effects that decrease maneuverability. Cool: When using (non-italicized) spells to create objects, they may be weightless and float, but crumble when leaving your presence – I love this in-game justification for floating castles etc.

The class also gets to form a weapon of wind as a swift action. The weapon can be maintained for a total number of rounds equal to Wisdom and Charisma modifiers +6 and the weapon’s damage scales with your levels – columns for Small and Large windblades are included – kudos there! Starting at 4th level, you get to choose a bonus damage type to add to the weapon, which also scales over the levels. Slightly problematic: RAW the weapon’s damage is not noted: Fluff calls it electricity, though. The pdf also does not specify how sheathing/dismissing the blade should be handled. It does note, though, that the blade is treated as a light weapon. 2nd level provides woodland stride with another name (why rename it?) and 4th level provides a +4 untyped bonus on saving throws versus the SPs and SUs of elementals. 6th level provides the option to turn into an air elemental, akin to elemental body I, which increases in potency to II, III and IV, respectively, every 2 levels thereafter. Annoying: While this is obviously a modification of wildshape, the final paragraph still refers to wildshape instead of airbody, the ability’s proper name.

I mentioned feats. One increases the DR granted to DR 2/-. RAW, tehre’s a small conflict here: It may be taken multiple times, but since the feat specifically mentions the total DR gained in the end, subsequent feats don’t do a thing – it’s clear that the benefits, should stack, but still. The second feat, Enduring Weapon, interacts with the windblade’s ephemeral weapon and nets…a whopping +3 rounds of use. Yay? Worse, the text that notes the “Normal:” duration differs from the class ability’s text, stating “3+your wis and cha modifier”[sic!] sigh

The pdf also contains spells: Airblast, beneficent breeze, gale scythe, tempest hammer, trade wind and cyclone barrier from the Genius Guide to Air Magic by Rogue Genius Games. Wind churn from 101 1st level spells (without cleaning up the annoying “air damage” glitch the spell has – there is no such thing!)…and it reprints winds of vengeance from the APG. Why? What PFRPG group that uses 3pp material doesn’t at least have that book? So no, not one of the spells herein is new and none of them will have an influence on the final verdict.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, particularly the latter, are not good. When even cut-copy-pasted material has hiccups…well. Yeah. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf’s artwork is solid, color stock art that fits the theme. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment. Speaking of which: It is patently ironic that a pdf that reprints material copied from other sources has disabled the ability to highlight text or copy from it, which makes creating a character with this annoying, to say the least.

This is also an issue with the pdf as a whole: 4 pages and a paragraph are devoted to the class; the rest are reprinted spells from other sources. In the class itself, we have obvious cut-copy-pastes as well. Even if we disregard that, the class has some issues: One, it tries to do the godblade and isn’t particularly good at it, compared with other options out there; two, it is INCREDIBLY linear. The class offers literally no choice beyond spells and feats – windblades will be very much alike. And three, it is an example of squandered potential: The bloodline-y fighter is a cool concept and it is my firm conviction that the visuals and base engine of the weapon itself deserve better. Why lock the class into this one bloodline? Why not open it properly? Now, granted, if you can look past the rules-hiccups, there is some fun to be had here. And yes, the base chassis can be used. But this falls woefully short of what it could have done. With more options. Some sort of player agenda. Some actual editing to eliminate the problems. If someone sent me this as a draft, inquiring for feedback, I’d encourage them and tell them to keep working at it – I’d even be somewhat excited by it.

But this is not a draft. This is a published class. And whether I compare it to ethermagus, kineticist-options or one of the gazillion other classes out there, it falls woefully flat. Add to that the glitches, the reprinted material, and my final verdict cannot go higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Windblade Hybrid Class
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Dimensionist Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/16/2017 06:37:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the dimensionist? Well, it is a hybrid class of kinteicist and witch; chassis-wise, it receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor and may cast dimensionist spells while in light armor without suffering arcane spell failure. The dimensionist gets spellcasting of up to 6th level and employs Intelligence as governing spellcasting attribute. As an Int-based caster, the dimensionist must prepare her spells in advance and spells are taken from custom spell list the class gets. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression as well as both good Fort- and Will-saves. The class gains a familiar and it is an important aspect of the class, acting similarly to the witch’s familiar, though with an even further increased potency.

You see, theme-wise, the dimensionist is about non-euclidean math, strange dimensional distortions The familiar gains a ½ natural armor progression and increases its Int by a whopping +15 over the course of the 20 levels of progression. The dimensionist gains the benefits of Skill Focus (Knowledge (Endgineering)) while the familiar is within arm’s reach and the familiar is creepy – as such, it takes no penalty to Intimidate checks due to its size and while within one mile of one another, both dimensionist and familiar receives a +4 morale bonus to Intimidate checks. Spells or wild talents with a target of “you” may be shared and provided as a touch spell to the familiar. Starting at 3rd level, the familiar may deliver touch spells and at 5th level, it is under constant blur (no CL given to suppress, though one can default to Su-standards…), which upgrades to displacement at 15th level. (Again, not italicized properly, again, CL would be appreciated.) 5th level yields speak with master, 13th level scry on familiar.

The familiar is btw. an aberration: Character level of the master is used for HD, it has ½ the dimensionist’s hit points (disregarding temporary hp) and uses the master’s BAB as well as either Str- or Dex-mod for BAB-purposes. The familiar uses its base saves (Will +2, others +0) or those of the master, whichever is better, but does not share the master’s ability score modifiers for saves. This section looks a bit weird to me – it references “new familiars presented here”, which are not included in the pdf. At first level, the dimensionist also chooses a patron from the witch patrons, adding a patron spells at 2nd level and every two levels thereafter to the spells known.

Now, the class has pretty much two defining signature abilities, the first of which would be Non-euclidean intrusion, which is gained at 3rd level and may be used 3 + ½ class level times per day, teleporting the familiar into enemies! Yes, this is cool! On an annoying side-note: It is not properly formatted, lacking the proper bolding for its header. This teleportation effect inflicts scaling bonus damage, inflicting the familiar’s primary natural attack plus +2d6 precision damage to the target, which increases every other level by +1d6. Touch spells the familiar holds are also delivered thus. In the aftermath, the dimensionist must succeed a CL-check versus DC 10 + the target’s CR – on a success, the familiar teleports to his side; on a failure, it remains adjacent to the target creature, placing it at risk – which is btw. the reason it gains these miss chance granting traits. Alas, there are a couple of issues with this ability. One, it should be defined as a conjuration [teleportation] effect. Two, the emergence of the familiar from the target creature – does this movement provoke AoOs? Three: What is the frickin’ range of the ranged touch attack? Four: How does this interact with the familiar’s action economy? Five: What action is this? RAW, it has no range and requires neither line of sight, nor line of effect. As a capstone, the dimensionist is always under the effects of blur (again, sans CL for suppression purposes), but it can be suppressed or activated as a standard action and automatically succeeds the callback CL-check and may instead port herself via non-euclidean intrusion, attacking with melee instead of being restricted to natural attacks. Combined with all the other tricks of the class, the ability, while damn cool in theory, may be a bit much.

Now, the second ability would be also what provides some differentiation between dimensionists: These abilities are called “Distortions” – any regular (I assume that means “non-patron-exclusive, non major/grand”) hex qualifies and so does any utility wild talent. However, the dimensionist does not gain Burn – instead, a spellslot may be expended for the use of a wild talent that requires Burn, with the spell-level being equal to or greater that the Burn required. In order to qualify for a utility wild talent, the dimensionist’s level must at least by twice that of the utility wild talent in question. Thirdly, the character may add a spell from the witch-list to her arsenal of spells known. A distortion is gained at 1st level, 2nd level and every even level thereafter. And at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the dimensionist may replace a known distortion with a new one. A distortion’s save DC is 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier, activation action is a standard action and several distortions modify non-euclidean intrusion – only one such modification may be added to a given use of the ability.

While we’re speaking of these: Included are the options to choose one of the 4 base energy types and changing the precision damage inflicted by non-euclidean intrusion to that energy type. This damage is btw. still not multiplied on a critical hit – kudos for catching that one! Not all distortions are interesting, though: Gaining Skill Focus (Profession) (I assume in a chosen profession) and being able to use Int instead of Wisdom as governing attribute for the skill doesn’t exactly make me holler with excitement. Unfortunately, this section is also where, obviously, some actual formatting would have helped the class. Spells are not italicized throughout the section, attribute-references are lower-caps…you get the idea. The rules-language here also does not reach the same level of precision as during the rest of the presentation of the class and sports some questionable decisions. There is, for example, a distortion that changes “cone” spells into a 10 ft.-line, increasing the save DC by +2, while also increasing the casting time by “one grade” – while the latter is at least explained, the issues should be evident nonetheless. Don’t get me wrong – I do actually like this – but I wished its rules-language had been tighter.

On a more positive side, making non-euclidean intrusions cause bleed damage is cool (though the Heal DC should imo scale). Adding the deadly special weapon quality as a standard action is cool, particularly with (thankfully non-stacking) threat range increase, but the pdf fails to specify how long the ability lasts – unless it’s permanent, as it RAW is, which is BROKEN. One dimensionist, infinite deadly weapons at no cost that also have better threat ranges…we need some serious restrictions here. This becomes particularly sad if we take a look at a high-level distortion that nets a variant of mage’s magnificent mansion in creepy, with an open door…a place that can be entered by anyone…and that nets the dimensionist phantasmal killer at-will as an SP while inside. Potent, yes, but at 18th level, I can live with this. Targeting foes with confusing mathematical conundrums (that can be solved via Knowledge (engineering)) makes for an interesting option, though not having to look up the action such a check take would have been nice. I am not really sure how a cone doubling in width, but not length, translates to the grid – an example would have been nice there. Adding blink to withdraws is also rather cool!

The pdf also includes a new feat, which nets +1 distortion and two archetypes. The first would be the Black Book Devotee, who transforms her “witch spells into divine spells” at certain levels. Problem here: The dimensionist does not have witch spells. It has dimensionist spells. Unless this is supposed to only apply to witch spells gained via distortions. Instead of taking a distortion, the black book devotee can choose 2 divination spells known she can cast and gain immunity to them. Yay? With the restricted spell-list, that’s tough. The devotee’s familiar also gains the chaotic and “entropic subtype” and features rebuild rules for that as well as scaling DR and acid/fire resistance, but loses the 1st, 6th and the 12th level distortion for this. In case you were wondering – there is no such thing as an entropic subtype, though there IS an entropic creature simple template.

The second archetype would be the hidden edge, who gains proficiency with martial weapons, but loses light armor proficiency. Instead of non-euclidean intrusion, weirdly at 1st level, the archetypes receives an ability to ignore one point of worn armor bonus or natural armor bonus when attacking a target within 30 ft. This increases by +1 bonus ignored at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, with 20th level adding free brilliant to all attacks thus performed – all in all, very clunky and yes, the quality is not italicized properly. Instead of 1st level’s distortion, the archetype gains the rogue’s fast stealth, with 4th level providing trackless step that instead works in urban and similar non-natural environments. This replaces 4th level’s distortion and 18th level’s distortion is replaced with Hide in Plain Sight. Not that impressive.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the big issues of this pdf. On a plus-side, for the most part, the rules-language is precise in the basics; however, once you take a closer look, the lack of range for the distortion and similar rules-language issues start cropping up big time, requiring serious GM-fiat. Similarly, the formatting of the pdf is not good. Artworks are solid full-color stock pieces and the pdf sports a 2-column full-color standard. The pdf sports basic bookmarks and comes with a word document for copy purposes– which should be applauded, for the pdf has copy and pasting disabled.

Aaron Hollingworth’s dimensionist is a pretty cool class, idea-wise – the very “Dreams in the Witch House”-y vibe is fun and porting a familiar to rend foes asunder is one neat angle I really enjoy. At the same time, this pdf’s crunch would have needed a capable rules editor to polish it to the point where its more ambitious abilities work smoothly. For the most part, the material works, but closer examination yields some seriously nasty hiccups in core abilities, glitches that compromise how it works, which most definitely should have been caught. The formatting issues are also too many for such a brief pdf.

At the same time, the dimensionist, provided you’re willing to do the fixing, does feel rather unique and has some solid ideas and themes; it has its own identity. How to rate this, though, is a pretty big problem – you see, from the rules-integrity side of things, this is closer to 2 stars than 3…but concept-wise, if the abilities all worked as written, this would be at least a 4 stars-file. It depends on your tolerance for material that needs cleaning up. Ultimately, though, I can’t rate this higher than 2.5 stars with the issues it has – it simply doesn’t work as written and with the issues, I can’t round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Dimensionist Hybrid Class
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Librarian Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/05/2017 14:26:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The librarian is a hybrid class of bard and occultist and, chassis-wise, receives d6 HD, 6 + Int skills per level and proficiency with light armor and bucklers as well as light weapons. Librarians incur no spell failure chance when using light armors and bucklers and cast arcane spells governed by Intelligence. Spells are drawn from exotic books called "libri (singular: "Libris") - for each libris learned, he can add one spell for each spell level available, from that libri's school list to his list of spells known. A libris may be chosen multiple times, adding a new spell at every level. Spells do not need to be prepared in advance and casting a spell sans the libris containing it consumes an additional spell of that spell level's array. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves and, as the parent class, spellcasting of up to 6th level.

At 1st level and every 3rd level thereafter, the class can attune an additional libris and once it and its school has been chosen, it cannot be changed. Kudos: The ability gets interaction of spells contained on both bard and occultist spell-lists right. A libris also has a power, but more on that later.

"Athenaeums" (or "Athaneas", as the table calls it) allows the librarian to use a Knowledge skill check (should be capitalized in the text) or transcription of material in half the time while in a library, sans cost of ink (Does this eliminate scroll cost completely? Probably not, but the ability could be clearer.) Additionally, he may make Knowledge checks untrained. A librarian may invest 1 spell slot of a level he can cast into an athenaeum to add +1 to the DC of a chosen spell. While generally understandable, that part of the rules-language should imho mention choosing a spell beforehand.

Librarians begin play with knacks, determined by libris and they may, with just a minute of uninterrupted study, replace a spell known with another from the libris studied, with the new spell remaining in memory for up to 1 hour per class level, before the original spell returns. The spells have to be of the same level. 2nd level provides the ability to activate a spell completion item after 10 minutes of study - only the knowledge of activating one such item may be kept in mind.

3rd level yields bestow knowledge, usable 3 + Cha-mod times per day - this grants allies a +2 circumstance bonus at atk, damage, CL or saves versus the chosen creature, with the bonus increasing by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. It lasts for 1 round "per intelligence modifier" - that should have a minimum 1-clause and the ability lacks an activation action.

Upon reaching 5th level, the class gains a pool of memory points that may be used for one of 8 effects. Problem: The pdf fails to specify HOW MANY. I assume the number in the class table may represent that...or it represents how many such abilities he gets to choose. I have no idea. This core feature of the class does not work RAW. It is also really annoying to note that the respective abilities, even if you houserule them to work, don't all specify an activation action. So yeah, does not work as written.

At 8th level, he may consume Bestow Knowledge uses to add a d6-surge-like bonus to the skill check - weird: Supplementing other characters this way does not consume the use, which can be pretty weird in game. I also think the benefit of the ability should be a typed bonus, but that as an aside.

Starting at 14th level, the librarian may cast any spell in a libris on hand, provided he consumes 2 spell slots of the required spell level instead. Scrolls may be studied as a move action and may be cast without consuming them by expending a spell slot instead.

A total of 8 libris are provided, all of which come with their own spell-lists and abilities and there are some serious gems here: Recitation for energy resistance, marking targets, reading omens...the tricks here are certainly flavorful. Alas, the rules here do also sport some hiccups: "lightning" instead of "electricity" as an energy type, suddenly using Wisdom as governing attribute and non-capitalized attributes...you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the things that tear down this class. On a formal level, this isn't that bad, but rules-language and consistency have issues. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with really nice full-color pieces. The pdf has no bookmarks, which acts as a comfort detriment, and annoyingly, does not allow for the copying of text - you actually have to copy the text by HAND if you want to use this. Big comfort detriment.

Jarrett Sigler, with additional writing by Robert Gresham, ALMOST gets this right. I was so happy when I started analyzing this class. After slogging through previous hybrids, I so hoped that this would finally deliver...and it seemed like it did. The class catches a lot of the more complex issues and ALMOST works as intended. Almost.

I really like the focus, chassis, balancing of the class - it looks like a well-made hybrid class with a distinct identity...and then, one of its central class features doesn't work. It's frustrating, to say the least. So yes, beyond cosmetic hiccups, this does require, once again, cleaning up of the rules. But really, not much. An hour, tops, and you have a nice class. In fact, I really hope this gets cleaned up - the librarian certainly deserves shining properly. I do enjoy the class a s a whole, but with its flaws and hiccups, I can't go higher than 3 stars; once/if it gets fixed/if you're willing to work a bit with it, consider this 4 stars instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Librarian Hybrid Class
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Incarnate Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/11/2017 04:43:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The incarnate is a hybrid of oracle and barbarian and receives d12 HD as well as 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple and martial weapons, as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. Incarnates draw spells from the cleric spell list, which are first gained at 4th level. The spellcasting is spontaneous and governed by Charisma. They don't require a divine focus and may not swap mystery or cure/inflict spells when leveling up - as a minor complaint, these spell-references have not been italicized. Spellcasting caps at 4th level, just fyi. The class gets full BAB-progression and good Fort-saves.

2nd level provides uncanny dodge, 5th improved uncanny dodge and 7th level yields DR 1/-, which increases by +1 at 10th level and every 3 levels thereafter. The incarnate begins play with fast movement and the oracle's curse - this sports an ambiguity: As oracle curse progression is usually tied to to levels, with non-oracle levels and HD counting as 1/2 levels, so it's not 100% clear whether incarnate levels are treated as oracle levels or as other levels for the purpose of this ability. 14th level nets a +4 bonus to Will-saves versus enchantment spells (but RAW, not abilities) while soulraging.

What is soulraging? Well, it is one of the defining features of this hybrid class: 4 + Constitution modifier rounds per day, +2 rounds for every level first level. While in soulrage, the character receives a +4 profane bonus to Str and Con (interesting bonus type choice) and a +2 morale bonus to Will-saves, but -2 to AC. The ability gets temporary hit point increase etc. right. Unlike a barb's rage, soulrage does not hamper skills that require concentration and incarnate spells (and only them - kudos!) can be cast while in soulrage. Soulrage btw. qualifies as rage for the purpose of feats and prerequisites. Analogue to the barbarian, 11th level provides an upgrade of the bonuses to +6/+3, respectively, with 17th level providing the tireless and 20th level the big +8/+4 upgrades.

However, soulrage, starting at 11th level, does allow for a unique trick: Upon entering soulrage, you can apply the effects of a cleric or mystery spell of 2nd level or lower to herself, with the limitation of requiring a range of touch or personal - and the use still consumes the spell slot. If the duration exceeds 1 round, it lasts for the whole soulrage, which is the aspect I consider most problematic here, as there are spells with durations that are significantly lower for a reason. The capstone eliminates the 2nd-level restriction, just fyi.

The second defining feature of this hybrid class would be its mysteries - chosen at first level, these act pretty much as you'd expect them to, but they are distinct from those of the standard oracle. The mysteries add 3 skills to the list of class skills and grant mystery bonus spells at 7th level and every 3 level thereafter, up to the 16th. As a minor complaint: The mystery base ability's wording mentions a spell gained at 4th level and the spell-progression mentioned in the base ability directly contradicts that of the mysteries themselves and the table - I assume that the latter are correct. Still, this is a pretty nasty hiccup that should have been caught. A total of 10 different mysteries are detailed herein, focusing mostly on a nature theme. The respective mysteries govern the precise abilities gained at 1st level, 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, providing a linear ability progression in the revelations gained - in short, they behave a bit more like bloodlines than mysteries. Where appropriate, they are governed by Charisma, just fyi.

To give you a brief run-down of the mysteries: Battle provides expanded proficiencies - all martial AND exotic weapons (!!) - but the latter only while raging. 4th levels yields a high-range chant that provides minor bonuses to allies - and lacks an activation action, duration or what it takes to maintain it. We can also find better AoOs into threatened areas and, at high-levels DR based on stoneskin, replacing your regular DR...which may, in some situations, be a minor drawback, as stoneskin has a fixed cap of preventable damage AND revelation powers only work while soulraging. on a cosmetic side, the two highest level ability names have not been properly italicized.

The Bones mystery nets you an armor bonus-granting (and later also DR-granting) bones-armor while soulraging (COOL!) - but does the "last after soulrage ends"-timer rest upon reentering soulrage? the ability-interaction here is a bit wonky. Adding bleeding wounds to negative damage is nice, but if you don't take an inflict spell, you're locked out of the benefit until you gain the follow-up revelation power, since RAW, the incarnate does not have the spontaneous spell-conversion. High-level abilities here net you undead to fight beside you and a negative energy touch. Once again, action-economy is not always as clear as it should be - something that extends to quite a few abilities throughout the mysteries, mind you.

The respective mysteries also influence the capstone, mind you, with each granting a form of Apotheosis that is sufficiently strong - and the small rules interaction glitches herein do accumulate, unfortunately: I like e.g. a power word: kill 1/day, with hit point limit increased to 150, but I think it probably was intended to be a SP and thus codified. There is a cool heat aura in the flame mystery that causes damage and grants concealment with limited daily uses, fire breath, etc. - as a minor complaint, a couple of these should probably refer to class levels, not levels "Heavans"([sic!] - that typo is the header...) provides some cool star-based defensive and offensive options - including a nice idea to represent the dweller in dark via spells.

The life mystery nets channel energy while in soulrage. RAW, however, only damage healed and caused is used for the calculation, which means that daily uses are locked. That being said, transformation into a being of life is a pretty cool visual! (And yes, I can poke some minor holes in this one as well, but by now you get the idea.) The Lore mystery suddenly mentions a patron that the class does not have and focuses on violently probing the mind of others, representing the war-scholar type of trope. Nature has abilities that stabilize you via temporary fast healing and the option at higher levels to leech hit points (should be negative energy damage, imho) and gain temporary hit points. This would btw. be a place to mention an issue in rules-interaction: Several revelation powers duplicate spells as accompanying effects upon entering soulrage. However, these include summons, which I assume will vanish - still a ruling on duration-interactions would be fitting here. Stone provides reflexive weapon damage, stability and the like. Waves include cold damage and slow on critical hits, while wind e.g. adds stagger effects to crits. That may be a personal thing, but I'm not the biggest fan of such save-less crit-fishing boons, but that will not enter into the considerations of the final verdict. Still: Limited use long-range thunderclaps and the like are pretty cool!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are much better than usual for Wayward Rogues Publishing's offerings: While there are glitches in formatting, there are less than in previous classes. From a rules-language point of view, the class is mostly solid in its base-chassis, with only the interaction of revelation powers not always being perfect. If you're willing to make a few calls, though, the class remains pretty functional. Layout adheres to Wayward Rogue's 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a blend of really nice, original artworks and a few stock pieces. The pdf doesn't have bookmarks, which is an annoying comfort detriment. Furthermore, the pdf does not allow you to select, search of copy text, which is extremely annoying and a pretty big comfort detriment. If you want to extract information for your char-sheet, you have to do so by hand.

Rodney Sloan's incarnate ranks among the better of hybrid classes I covered from the Wayward Rogues. For one, while it does not have a potent leitmotif in the traditional sense, it does play in a pretty unique way, somewhat akin to a paladin/barb with oracle sprinkled in. Now, balance-wise, I am not 100% sold on all decisions, partially due to the minor ambiguities found herein. That being said, the linear mysteries provide distinct playstyles, which is a plus. On the downside, there is, apart from mystery choice, no player agenda here - you get this one choice and that's it. Still, while not perfect, I can see this class being fun for some groups, making this a quintessential mixed bag, slightly dragged down by the editing and comfort-issues. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Incarnate Hybrid Class
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Empath Hybrid Class
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/26/2017 10:48:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The empath is a hybrid class of cleric and psychic, who receives d6 HD, 4 + Int-mod skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons as well as light and medium armor. At 1st level, they may, as a standard action, cast analyze aura (not properly italicized) at-will to see emotional auras - this is supernatural, which is weird to me, but okay. The empath gains knacks and casts psychic spells of up to 9th level, governed by Wisdom (attribute not properly capitalized -a problem throughout the file) and draws spells from its own custom spell-list. at 2nd level and every even level after that, the class may replace an empath spell known with a cleric or psychic spell.

At 2nd level, the class gets deep bond - as a standard action, the empath may touch a living being to form a bond that lasts one minute. While this is in effect, the target may use the higher of the empath's saves or his own. Slightly rules-wise redundant: "At the start of the empath's turn, as a full-round action, the empath may heal the bonded target 1d6 hit points. This increases by a "d6" (should be +1d6) at 4th level and every even level after that, capping at 18th level. This can be used 3 + Cha-mod times per day and only one bond may be in effect.

Every empath chooses an emotional sensitivity, which nets abilities at 1st, 5th 10th and 15th level and also determines the capstone - basically the discipline analogue. a total of 7 such sensitivities are provided, the first of which would be anger, which yields a short-term buff, an improperly codified, wonky bite attack that instills rage, +2 Str and Con for the bonded target at at-will full-round calm emotions. The capstone is cool: Anyone affected by rage or with a rage power or spell with it in the name can be dominated as a standard action. Makes sense to me! However, it should be noted that the capstone name is different in table and actual abilities - that should have been caught in editing.

Awe has a pretty cool basic ability: Dazzle foes briefly (sucky, I know!), but the enemies lose readied or delayed actions. Interesting! 5th level presents the option to negate a selection of negative conditions suffered by the bonded creature. Gaze-based condition sharing, rerolls for saves of allies and a capstone that may render foes flat-footed collectively make this one really nice. Courage provides a scaling Will-save bonus, AoE, versus fear, reflexive second saves versus fear and at 15th level, 60 ft. perfect flight for allies while charging (only for the charge). This IS pretty cool - but RAW doesn't work. It is activated as a swift action and targets a charging ally - it should be activated as an immediate action. Swift actions can't be used outside of a character's turn. 15th level yields the temporary doubling of morale bonuses, once per deep bond and the capstone provides a series of passive upgrades that conspire for an all-around more potent nexus.

The desire sensitivity has a gaze that penalizes Sense Motive (not properly capitalized) and lacks a durationThe 5th level allows for the expenditure of unused spell slots to buff social skills greatly, but fails to specify the spell slot required - 9th level spell slots are RAW worth as much as 1st level spell slots. 10th level yields at-will suggestion (which, being Su, should note activation action) and 15th level yields a short-term dominate. 20th level allows for the learning of a creature's desires via prolonged concentration. Despair allows for the decreasing of fear-based conditions, 5th level allows per the absorption of morale penalties, and 10th level provides a nice debuff with a hex-anti-abuse-caveat, a means that also balances the slow 15th level ability. The latter lacks an activation action The capstone provides serious benefits when nearby creatures are affected by fear-conditions.

The euphoria sensitivity nets an at-will AoE polypurpose panacea, which is overkill for 1st level; 10th level yields limited daily uses of haste (erroneously capitalized) and 15th level provides a buff that last 1 round as a full-round action - which is comparatively weak at that level. As a capstone, the empath gets euphoria-inducing skin with a no-save daze that kicks in when hit by natural attacks or unarmed strikes and it can also be used as a touch attack. Interesting! Finally, the horror sensitivity provides an Intimidate-enhancer, immunity to fear to the deep bonded target at 5th level,, a 30-ft. fear aura at 10th level that can be projected on allies and, at 20th level, an empath may, as an immediate action, consume a creature's fear, gaining a powerful buff. Okay, what's the range?

The pdf also sports archetypes: The central mind replaces emotional sensitivity and emotive master with a kind of mental communication, which, at 10th level, may transfer touch spells...okay, does the character still have to hit with touch attacks? Instead of deep bond, they may place nodes as a full-round action of a creature. Creatures with nodes can't be surprised unless all creatures with nodes are surprised. Hit points may be transferred via such nodes by the character as a standard action. The character can place nodes equal to 1 + Wisdom modifier for every two levels - which allows for ridiculously huge networks that are basically undefeatable. Not a fan, as this basically demands being cheesed.

Instead of emotional sensitivity, the instinctual driver can treat creatures as humanoid for the purpose of spells and effects, with higher levels yielding charms versus such creatures at decreasing actions required. Spells are not italicized here and the 15th level ability refers to dominate and charm interchangeably, which THEY ARE NOT. This one's a mess.

The sensorial replaces deep bond may enhance senses of creatures, increasing the potency of the granted abilities at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Pretty interesting, though one of the sub-abilities lacks the italicization of its sub-ability header. The final archetype would be the sycophant of pain - these guys can grant temporary hit points to allies, but nauseate them. This generates pain points, of which a maximum of class level + Cha mod may be held. These may be expended to deal no-save damage to nearby enemies - the damage is untyped and imho shouldn't be. The affected number of allies and temporary hit points scale, obviously. Weird: This replaces the capstone without giving anything back. Instead of deep bonds, these fellows gain the wounding well ability, a debuff bond that imposes massive penalties...but the creature affected may end this effect by taking damage. Interesting alternative to deep bond.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, the latter in particular, are the bane of this pdf. There are a ton of formatting glitches. The rules-language is better than usual for these hybrid classes, but still could have seriously used a rules-dev - there are quite a bunch of finer points in the rules-language not working properly and missing activation actions and a couple (but not many) balance-concerns here and there. The layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf has nice full-color artworks. The lack of bookmarks is annoying; just as annoying would be the fact that the book has copying and highlighting of text disabled, which is supremely asinine when trying to e.g. copy abilities to a char-sheet.

Jarrett Sigler's Empath ranks as one of my favorite Wayward Rogues Publishing classes so far: While it has issues in editing and formatting, the issues are significantly less pronounced than with other classes. Unfortunately, the rules-hiccups that should have been caught in editing extend to components that affect functionality. At the same time, the class does feature actually unique options and has some really nice ideas. If you're willing to work a bit with this, then it can be considered a worthwhile offering. If this gets fixed, it certainly has the potential for 4 or even 5 stars...but with the accumulated flaws and comfort-detriments, I can't rate this higher than 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Empath Hybrid Class
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Orphic Hybrid Class
by Angel M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/13/2017 12:05:18

This Barbarian/Psychic hybrid class is really well made and thought out!

Click the link for my full video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak5c578ckGY&lc=z13owb34hlz0yftgb04cg1lh0lusfjsqckg0k



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Orphic Hybrid Class
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Cultures of Celmae: Oyapok
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/05/2017 05:37:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Cultures of Celmae-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, what are the oyapok? They, as a race, are relative newcomers to the world of Celmae, a marsupial humanoid species that hails from the swamps and only rather recently has made their way to interacting with the other folk of the world. While their first sojourn towards integration was thwarted by a rather nasty dragon named Dessuterrix, they are industrious and pretty optimistic folk with a generally positive outlook on life. The race comes with proper age, height and weight information, though it is not presented in the standardized table format - still, as far as I'm concerned, that's just cosmetic.

The race, as should be no surprise, values family and employs a nomenclature derived from French, with "mamere" and "papere" being titles, thus, in general, evoking a resonance with the tropes of e.g. Cajun culture that extends to cooking habits. Animism ad the importance of respecting one's environment and a generally good outlook on life conspire to make their fully depicted deity, The traveler, a nice fit for the race, even though the deity's symbol is dangerously close to that of a particular Faerûnian deity...

Nomenclature etc. is provided and racial stat-wise, they are Small humanoids that gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Str, have a slow speed (not properly bolded) and gain +4 to AC versus reptilian threats. They gain halfling luck (which should have been renamed "Oyapok luck", +2 to Survival, +1 to attacks versus giants and reptilian foes, low-light vision and both Hold Breath and a massive swim speed of 50 feet as well as a prehensile tail. The race, generally, ranks as one of the stronger races and, depending on the campaign, can be rather potent or on par with the core races - this hinges foremost on how much aquatic environments will feature in the campaign.

The race comes with favored class options for alchemist, bard, brawler, cleric, druid, fighter, hunter, oracle, ranger, rogue, shaman, sorceror, summoner, swashbuckler and witch. The favored class options generally are well-made and provide no balance-concerns.

The pdf also sports two racial archetypes, the first of which would be the traiteur cleric, who replaces domains with river's blessings - which is unique: It makes touch spells behave as though they have a range of 5 ft. per class level, but this range is predicated on traiteur and target being within the same body of water. While the wording for ranged touch spells is a bit wonky, it still functions. Touch spells thus cast gain +2 CL for the purpose of overcoming SR. This is VERY powerful, but situationally so - and it kills off one of THE most defining cleric abilities. Traiteurs also learn to scoop up water, imbuing it with positive energy, and pouring it over wounds. This has a range of 10 ft. and heals 1d8, +1d8 for every 2 levels thereafter. Starting at 7th level, you may replace one of these healing die to remove a negative level and at 15th level, as a full-round action, you can submerge a creature completely under water, maximizing the healing effect. This can be used 3 + Charisma modifier times per day and channel energy modifications may affect this. Speaking of which: It is pretty evident that this is supposed to replace channel energy, which it does not explicitly state. Otherwise, it should probably be a variant channeling effect and draw on the same resource.

The second archetype herein would be the foudre warpriest, who replaces aura with a whopping +3 CL for determining spell duration when summoning elementals. The blessings class feature is replaced with lacerations of the elements: At first level, choose one of the standard 4 energy types. As a standard action, a single creature in a 30 ft. radius takes sacred weapon damage + Charisma bonus damage of the chosen energy. To nitpick: energy=/= element and attributes are capitalized, as are saves: With a scaling Will-save, this may be negated. Fervor can be used in conjunction here. Starting at 7th level, replacing sacred armor, the foudre gains elemental wisps, granting SR equal to 10 + 1/2 class level, rounded down. As an immediate action, expend a fervor when attacking to hit as though using a sacred weapon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are decent, certainly better than in most Wayward Rogues Publishing books - while some rules-language should be clearer and while some cosmetic formatting glitches can be found, the material is generally functional. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and is pretty nice, with nice, comic-style artwork for the oyapok. The pdf, annoyingly, is not properly bookmarked. Worse, the pdf does NOT allow for the copying and highlighting of text, which means you'll have a sucky time when extracting text from this pdf.

Simon Peter Munoz and Jarett Sigler (quoted as Jerret Sigler in the editorial) provide a nice, inexpensive culture-file. The oyapok are an interesting race that should fit well within most settings and contexts. While the archetypes have a couple of rough edges regarding the rules-language and would have needed some capable dev to make them work properly, the prose and flavor make this potentially worthwhile if the cultural tidbits are what you're looking for.

If you're looking for mechanics, I suggest going elsewhere; however, if flavor and concept are what you're looking for, then this may provide some enjoyment for you. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, and I'd usually round up due to in dubio pro reo, also because I really wanted this to be a win for Wayward Rogues Publishing, but compared to other files and the harsh standards I apply to comparable files, that would frankly be unfair. Hence, I have to round down, though, if you're looking primarily for flavor, this is well worth checking out.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Cultures of Celmae: Oyapok
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